Computers, why?

2017-Aug-03, Thursday 09:29
dorchadas: (Warcraft Algalon)
The chronicle of woe: new database system continues.

The previous system was clunky and old, but one advantage it has is metrics. Every day I got an email with how efficient I was, letting me know how I was doing and giving me daily feedback. My boss had to manually run the reports and mail them to me, so they tapered off when we started gearing up to transition to the new system, but the capability was still there.

Well, the new system has many capabilities, but metrics apparently aren't one of them. The contractors didn't seem to understand why we would want to know how efficient any particular worker was, so while it's possible that they keep metrics on their end, we don't have any access to them. But we need them for yearly evaluations, because one of the good parts of my job is that I'm graded on concrete numbers rather than on generic feelings. And thus, I'm keeping track of my metrics using a free stopwatch program and a LibreOffice spreadsheet.

Isn't the progress of technology great? Emoji Psyduck Cylon

Heard from the next cubicle over in the process of writing this post: "When they built this, they knew nothing about our data."

Farmer's Market Dinner )

Been feeling down these last few days for a variety of reasons, and having moved Japanese tutoring to tomorrow instead of on Tuesday because Tuesday was Tisha b'Av doesn't help. Usually by this point in the week, I know I'm clear until the weekend, but now I have class. Hopefully after I come home on Friday I'll start to feel a bit better with the weekend ahead of me.

And I just saw that The Dark Tower is at 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. I didn't like what I saw of the trailer--it was too fast-paced, too much in our world, and too tonally strange (any movie about the Dark Tower series should be elegiac, at least in part)--so I'm not surprised that the movie is being savaged. But what a waste.

TCP/IPoop

2017-Jul-02, Sunday 20:45
dorchadas: (Warcraft Face your Nightmares)
I spent several hours today trying to get a multiplayer game of Warcraft III to work. There's a map called Sunken City that looks like a lot of fun that's designed for three players, so [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I roped in [livejournal.com profile] uriany to play with us, but we ad to jump through all kind of hoops. First they had to update their games to 1.28, which broke and required them to delete the game and completely reinstall. Then I had to set up port forwarding to allow [livejournal.com profile] uriany to successfully see and join the game. Then, when I figured out everything that was wrong and we had finally all joined and gotten the map started...[livejournal.com profile] uriany got dropped out of the game. Twice.

Remember when we had to put up with this every time we tried to play games online? At least I didn't have to set my IRQ.

On the other hand, we got to eat lunch with [livejournal.com profile] daveax! He's in town visiting family and had a lunch free today, so we ,eat him downtown at Vermillion, a Latin/Indian fusion restaurant near where I work. That was lovely and I'm glad we did that first so I wasn't in a bad mood before we went to lunch.

Now, to cap off the day, we're watching Laser Time play through the first hour and half of Metroid: Other M (THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY). Now that Metroid Prime 4 has been announced, it doesn't sting so badly.
dorchadas: (Office Space)
Yesterday the internet was full of the news that Photobucket had decided to start charging $400 a year for the privilege of third-party linking, breaking millions of photo links all across the internet and devastating the blogging and forum communities. I post a lot of pictures with all my food and video game posts, and they're all hosted on Photobucket. The pictures still work, for the moment, but I'm not taking any chances.

So now I have to go through my posts and correct hundreds of photo links and point them to the new hosting site I transferred everything to. I already fixed my Japan tag, mostly so that my Japan vacation blogstorm would be in order, and I'm working now on the anime conventions tag. Doing video games or food will...take a lot longer, though fortunately my photo captions transferred over so if I do wake up to a bunch of dead links, I'll be able to reconstruct everything pretty easily.

And I was actually paying for a Photobucket plan, too, because I had so many pictures there! Oh well.
dorchadas: (Office Space)
So on Friday last week, I arrived at work, booted up our database program, got to work, and immediately received a "number precision too large" error. So I fired off an email to support and waited. I heard nothing, but I was only there for a half-day since it was [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my ten year wedding anniversary. I figured they'd work on it and I'd come back on Monday and it'd be fixed.

Narrator voice: It was not fixed. Shaking fist emoji

It is now Tuesday, and I've gotten two emails, one of which asked me if it worked now (it did not), and the other saying they had escalated the problem up the ladder. It still does not work. This is pretty much confirming my preconceptions about corporate projects, where the new database was six months late, has a terrible UI, is less efficient than the 19-year-old internal software it replaced...and currently doesn't work. Good job. Congratulations all around.

And of course, all the people who originally pushed this project have left the organization. They made their dramatic mark, but deal with the aftermath? Pfft.

We'll see how long our new fancy database software doesn't work. Will it be down for a week? Tune in later and find out!

Shut up, kid

2017-May-23, Tuesday 09:03
dorchadas: (Yui Studying)
Annoying male protagonists are the scourge of fiction.

So I'm reading the latest chapter of 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ for today's tutoring session and get to a Romeo and Juliet-esque part where Sakutarō and Aki talk about how they want to get married. Aki points out that she's only 16, and that people think that they might change their minds. Sakutarō talks about how marriage is about being able to support themselves in society and does that mean that sick people who can't support themselves shouldn't be allowed to get married (だったら病気なんかで自立できない人たちは結婚しちゃいいけないのかってことになる), referencing something that happened to his grandfather. Aki sighs at Sakutarō's tendency to jump to the extremes of any argument, and then the annoyance starts:
「社会的に自立するってどういうことだと思う?」
彼女は少し考えて、「働いて自分でお金を稼ぐってことかな」
「お金を稼ぐってどういうこと?」
「さあ」

"What do you think it means to support yourself in society?
She thought for a little, "To work and earn money, I think."
"And what does 'to earn money' mean?"
"Well."
Everyone knows the Socratic method is the best way to endear your girlfriend to you.

He then goes on to say that money is the reward for various skills, which, okay, and then goes off into left field:
「それなら人を好きになる能力に恵まれている人間は、その能力を生かして人を好きになることで、お金をもらってなぜ悪い?」
「やっぱりみんなの役に立つことじゃないと、だめなんじゃないの」
「人を好きになること以上に、みんなの役に立つことがあるとは思えないけどな」
「こういう現実離れしたことを平気で言う人を、わたしは未来の夫にしようとしているんだわ」

"If that's the case, for humans who are blessed with the ability to love other people, why is it bad to earn money by making use of that ability?"
"If it's not useful to everyone, it's no good, right?"
"I don't think there's anything more useful than the ability to love."
"And I'm trying to make someone who calmly says such off-the-wall things my future husband."
Thus demonstrating that Aki has a reasonable grasp of economics, because the ability to love has a high supply and the demand for any particular person's ability to love is low. But that's not enough for Sakutarō, since this kicks off a page-long rant about what love means and how it's better for humanity to be wiped out by a meteor if it doesn't value the ability to love.

To Aki's credit, she doesn't feed his ranting. But I can see why the English title--and apparently, the proposed Japanese title before the publisher convinced him to change it--for this book was Socrates in Love. Sakutarō's response to anything is engage in grand works of adolescent philosophy, but unlike Socrates he's lucky if his musings have any connection to anything in the real world. And Aki tolerates it, maybe even finds it endearing, but that doesn't make it fun for me to read.

Can I read a version of 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ from Aki's perspective?
dorchadas: (Default)
Well, the time has finally come.

I've had a Dreamwidth for years, even since the initial migration, and I've always kept it updated with content from my Livejournal just it case. It turns out that case has arrived. I'm still waiting for the comments to import again, but a lot of the conversation on my posts has moved to Facebook and Twitter anyway. I'll be sad to lose some of those old comments if they don't import, but not too sad. And I'm not super interested in making sure that my blog follows the laws of the Russian Federation with respect to political or sexual diversity content.

I'm not looking forward to fixing all the internet links on my posts. Since I extensively link to things I've already written, there's a lot of Livejournal links buried in everything I write. I'll get to it eventually, probably starting with stuff like my video game reviews and my let's play of Baldur's Gate II, and move on from there. If you're someone who looks through my old posts, I ask for your patience.

Sigh. I used LJ for 14 years, but all things end. 永遠のものがない, after all.  photo shrug2.gif
dorchadas: (Office Space)
For the last couple of years, we've been ramping up to switch database software at work. This makes sense--the old database software was 19 years old and has been running on twine and duct tape for roughly the last decade, never conclusively overhauled because we were just going to replace it, so why put too much effort into it? Well, we finally replaced it.

You can tell from the title what I think of it.

Some of it is sour grapes. They made an effort to ask us what we thought of the new system and get our input on its development as we did testing, and as far as I can tell, they completely ignored every suggestion we made. For my part, the UI is still garbage. The new system is completely mouse-driven to the point that it doesn't accept hitting enter and you have to click the Search button like some kind of animal. The search window hides the original record and can't be moved, so checking to refine the search requires cancelling the search and losing the results, and searching takes long enough that I just have to chant the other bits of data myself to remember them like some kind of Leibowitzian monk.

A lot of old complaints don't even seem to be fixed--searches are still slow and it crashes roughly twenty times as often. It still offers suggestions for matches that are completely unrelated--different name, different state of residence, different specialty, different everything--to the record in question. Furthermore, the old database kept sending us the same records to research month after month with no way to tell the system that no, we were never going to find out who this physician is so stop asking, and the new system does the inverse by repeatedly popping up people who are already identified and asking me to identify them.  photo _thisorthat__or__compare__by_brokenboulevard-d4tole3.gif

And this leads to my main complaint. My work doesn't have great social value and I'm not saving the lives or children or anything, but at least I was accomplishing something. There was data, and I sorted through it, and I made the resulting output better than the raw input was. I no longer have any indication that's the case. I come in and I have 500 records to look through, around 99% of which the system already seems to know the answer to but just wants to waste my time with, and that number goes down as I work. But when the system inevitably crashes or logs me out for no reason and I login again and get back to work, that number is back to 500 again. Every day I am moving sand from one pile to another, one grain at a time, and then the wind blows it all back overnight.

And this is the system after it was delayed for six months.  photo emot-psyduck.gif
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
For most of my life, I have paid no Federal taxes. At first it was because I didn't make enough and contributed to an IRA, then it was because [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was in school the year we got married, then it was because we lived in Japan and came in under the income limits, then it was because [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd was in school again. But the last couple of years, now that we both work full-time in real grown-up jobs, we've made enough that the bill has finally come due.

Last year it caught me by surprise due to the aforementioned lack of owing and we had a multi-thousand-dollar tax bill, which we fortunately didn't owe any interest on since our income had jumped so much. This year I was much better about estimating how much we owed and our bill is comparatively low, but I was surprised at my reaction when doing my taxes. Every time I put in something that raised our taxes I twitched. I owe money based on the paltry interest from our savings account? They're charging us how much for our dividends? What do you mean I can't deduct our contributions to an IRA because we make too much money?  photo emot-argh.gif

Of course, taxes are the bill for civilization. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and are fortunate that we make enough that this is even a matter of consideration for us. But it's easy to see how without some thought, those moments of indignation could fester and turn into the lower-taxes-at-all-costs attitude that so many Americans seem to have. It's important for my own sake to remember that I'm not categorically different from a rich asshole--well, upper-middle-class asshole--and it could easily be me that falls into that destructive philosophy if I don't take some mental precautions.

I will indulging in some fist-shaking as that tax bill ticks up, though.  photo emot-doom.gif
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
Or, be careful when hiring businesspeople to manage a nonprofit.
So the new vice president of our unit read a book called From Good to Great and got fired up with missionary zeal. Having already inflicted it on the senior management, she decided that everyone in the unit should be subject to it as well, and thus I suffered. And this from a woman who said we needed fewer meetings.

The book is the standard sociopathic business trash. Great companies come from hiring great people, who are people who are fanatically devoted--the word "fanatic" is used repeatedly--to the mission of the company without thought of personal compensation. Companies should develop their hedgehog concept, the one thing at the world they're the best at, and if they can't be the best, don't even try. Bureaucracy is created to compensate for bad employees, so by only hiring great ones, bureaucracy isn't necessary. And don't run around like a fox who can't focus on any one thing at a time. And there's nothing about actually cultivating leadership or employee greatness. It's business Calvinism--some employees are great, so hire them. The rest are trash and should be thrown off the bus. How do you tell who's great beforehand? Who knows. Not the book.

The book also has the quote:
Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.
Which is a blatant lie. Ambition is needed to make the most of circumstances, but circumstances are the majority of what contributes to success in life. It's just another way to justify firing everyone who isn't "great."  photo emot-colbert.gif

Fortunately, the meeting was just banal and mediocre, not actively offensive. They didn't read through the fifty pages of notes on the books that we were supposed to read beforehand, instead having each table come up with its own lists of things that we should stop doing, what our hedgehog concept was, etc., and then present them to the group. I particularly noticed in the stop list, "Stop going to meetings to learn, go to do" and "Stop having trainings that don't pertain to what we do," which are my picks for the favorite. I left an unkind evaluation on the way out.

The worst part was definitely the line at the beginning about how this is going to become routine for the purposes of team building. We're well on our way to having fewer meetings!  photo cripes.001.gif
dorchadas: (For the Horde!)
I didn't get to sleep until 1:30 or so last night despite going to bed at 11:15. Some of that is on me--I was up later than usual finishing up my Baldur's Gate II post and getting the last few steps in to make it to 10,000--but some of it is definitely due to our neighbors downstairs.

A while ago, they had a new baby. Back then they lived diagonally from us, but a month ago they switched apartments with the neighbors below us because, having a baby, they wanted the larger space on our side of the apartment building. Since then things have been noisier overall, but I've occasionally noticed that I can faintly hear the sound of the baby crying through the vents and last night it went on for hours. photo c9a2ed93dbfb11e324f5b3e281e5e1b2.gif Along with people talking, maybe the television, and some thumping sounds. And that kept me up far past my bedtime.

I'm really bad at sleeping in general. My insomnia has gotten better, but I still have a very hard time falling asleep if there's any light or noise around. Even the very quiet sounds I heard last night were enough to keep me awake.

And there's really no solution here. The most obvious advice is earplugs, but I tried that when I lived in Ireland--I had a roommate who snored like a buzzsaw--and while it did help me sleep, it also meant even odds of whether I would sleep through my alarm in the morning. I used Rain Rain with the sleep timer to try to drown out the noise, but I couldn't find a good medium between the app being so loud that it kept me awake itself and loud enough to drown out the baby's crying. I went through two entire 30-minute sleep timer cycles with no effect.

The downstairs neighbors told [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd that we should tell them if the sound was keeping us up, but why? I mean, babies cry. It's what they do. They don't need to be told that the noise is keeping people up, because it's keeping them up, and if they had a way of quieting their child down on command, they would already be using it so they could get more sleep.

That doesn't help me feel less tired today, though.  photo emot-11tea.gif
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
The first thing we did this morning after showering, before we packed and before we even ate breakfast, was to finally eat the sakura manjū we bought on Miyajima in the Hello Kitty store.


I'm as tasty as four apples.

They were delicious.

Then we packed, checked out, ate toast and tea/coffee because the soup had pork again--I don't understand how Sakura Hotel offers halal ramen and then has pork in seemingly every soup they make--and walked to the train station. On the way, I learned about this exhibition which I'm now really sad I didn't know about a couple days ago, when we were over near Sunshine Mall and could have gone. Yōkai are one of the parts of Japanese culture that doesn't get much play abroad, like kagura or foods that aren't sushi or ramen, and this would have been a great chance to see them. Sigh.

We stopped at Chocoholic so [twitter.com profile] xoDrVenture could get a present for her roommate and then got on the Yamanote Line heading for Tōkyō Station, where we got off, went outside the gates, got tickets for the Narita Express, went back through the gates, and waited for the train. While we were on the platform, I got one last onigiri for the road. Fatty tuna and spring onions. Then the train started moving, and I said goodbye to Tokyo.


また今度ね.

The train ride was an hour and the only problem were two businessmen sitting ride in front of us who randomly picked seats until they found an occupied one and then loudly spent the train ride discussing business. But that was short, and then we got off the train and made for our terminal. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had some お土産 (omiyage, "gift souvenirs") she needed to buy, and as long as she was doing that, I picked up some for my Japanese tutor as well. I hope she likes green tea. I've met Japanese people who don't. I've also met Japanese people who don't like fish or rice, which strikes me as almost debilitating. You know, like how I'm an American who doesn't like pizza or hot dogs.

Then we went to the food court and had our last bowl of reasonably-priced ramen.


¥880. About $8.25.

We went to go check into our flight but accidentally went to the wrong wing of the terminal, and then when we did go to the right wing, found our airline, and got in line, we got an attendant who must have been new. Her English wasn't that great (and my flight-related Japanese isn't either) and had some trouble finding our reservations and boarding passes. But she did eventually find us with some help from her co-workers, print out our boarding passes, and send us on our way.

We got through security in three minutes because Japan isn't invested in stupid security theatre that just wastes everyone's time and money, went through immigration in about the same amount of time, and proceeded to the gate.


Hopefully!

We went through the airport, stopping to say goodbye to [livejournal.com profile] tastee_wheat and [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega at their gates, and then made it to our gate. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went to buy some sakura-flavored kitkats to use up the last of our yen and we settled down to wait, along a few Buddhist monks and a giant horde of schoolgirls probably going on a school trip. No wonder the flight was full.

Fun fact: kitkats are popular in Japan partially because the name sounds like 屹度勝つ (kitto katsu, "I will surely win").

The flight boarded slightly late and we were sitting across the aisle from each other, but as soon as we got on [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd asked the man sitting in the middle seat to move to my aisle seat and he happily did so, so we got to sit together again!

We also sat next to the monks, but didn't talk with them. There was also a kid who thought having to put on his seatbelt when we hit turbulence was worse than being tortured to death and decided to shriek his head off for a while until, presumably, he tired himself out and fell asleep.

About a third of the way through the flight, I started to feel really cramped. I don't usually have problems with claustrophobia, but airlines are the exception. It wasn't until I compared seatbacks with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd that I realized the problem--the man in front of me had lowered his seat by about 15 cm and I really was dealing with less space. So I immediately rammed my knees into the back of his seat--by which I mean "sat normally, thanks airlines!"--and was rewarded by him shifting repeatedly as I did. And eventually, after enough shoving, he moved his seat back upright. I am not above petty revenge against people being inconsiderate.

We also flew above a lightning storm, but I was not sitting by a window.

Breakfast was pretty tasty:


No pork to pick out this time either!

We landed in Toronto to the news that they didn't actually have a gate for us and we'd have to take a bus to the terminal. Then we went through customs and I was all set to get annoyed until I realized that this wasn't bullshit Canadian security theater, it was bullshit American security theatre because we're going to America. The highlight was the customs agent saying he could tell we were married because we answered all his questions in unison.

Then we got to the gate and our flight was delayed an hour.

And then it was cancelled! So we had to go out through Canadian customs and pick up our baggage and hope we got another flight. Except our baggage wasn't showing up, and when [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went to ask about it, they told her that our flight wasn't canceled and they were loading our luggage onto the plane, so we ran back through US customs and back to our terminal to find our flight was delayed due to...weather.

Ah yes, weather. Oh Chicago.

Ignorant Air Canada employees aside, after a two-hour weather delay we got on the plane. Then we sat there while they loaded in some extra luggage, and while I'm normally contemptuous of people who check carry-ons on the plane, I think it makes sense in this case. Then we taxied away and sat again on the runway. Then finally, finally, we took off at 8:35 p.m. Eastern.

Then we flew through turbulence pretty much the entire trip.


The sun and the storm.

We landed, taxied to our gate, and got our luggage in much less time than I was expecting because we went through customs in Canada. And now I'm posting this from the ride home, and unless our apartment has burned down in our absence, there's nothing further to report.

Thus ends the Japan Trip 2016. What a wonderful time! I'm so glad I got to go back and visit our old students and show all the places we came to love to our friends. The only problem is...now I want to move back.

Maybe someday.

Steps taken: 13245

Ah yes, "upgrades"

2016-Jun-14, Tuesday 10:13
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
Over a year ago, we switched to JIRA at work. If you're not familiar, JIRA is a project-tracking software suite for assigning projects, marking progress, giving credit to different people who do different parts of said projects, and providing metrics for efficiency and accuracy.

It's the last bit that's why I'm annoyed. The old system that kept track of my work was intra-group emails and screenshots, which I suspect wasn't super efficient because people had to look at the screenshots and enter the data manually, but I got an email every day with a breakdown of my work from the previous day, how efficient I was, and how much work I got done. I still got those for a bit after we switched over, but they stopped because my supervisor is much busier now. Okay, that's fair.

But nothing has replaced them. Using JIRA takes (a little) extra time for me to enter in record counts and time taken, which means that all that data is in the system and I should theoretically be able to call up a progress tracking chart that's updated in real time. But for some inexplicable reason, I don't have access to that data. I brought it up in a meeting when the division manager mentioned that they wanted to install monitors near the printers showing real-time metrics for the group's progress, since I think it's only reasonable that I be able to see that data from my own computer if it's visible to passersby. And yesterday, I learned that at least part of what I want is currently managers only. I can get a list of all the tickets I processed, and a list of the time I took on each one and how many records they had, but if I want a simple analysis of records/hour, I need a spreadsheet or a calculator.

Hopefully this gets corrected soon, but it's always funny to me to hear how "data-driven" we are when under the old management team, I had far more data on my own performance than I have now.
dorchadas: (Default)
This post is inspired by an article I saw about how procrastination is often caused by anxiety and not laziness, though I unfortunately can't find the source right now.

If something is bothering me, I have a tendency to let it slide for a while. Part of this is conflict avoidance, it's true, but part of it is that most of the time I'm legitimately chill and am willing to put up with a lot if I figure that it's going to be a short-term thing. The problem is that I let things go for a long time without saying anything, and then once I hit a particular threshold, I explode. Where normally I don't want to say anything because I don't want to upset things, or because I worry about what the other person will think, or because I can't figure out how to phrase my request properly, once I cross that threshold none of that matters.

The main example that springs to mind is cleanliness. I tend to prefer things almost completely spotless and the floor with no clutter on it at all, whereas [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd doesn't mind a backpack dropped by the door or a few pieces of clothing laid out for the week. What used to happen is that I let things go for a while, quietly getting more and more annoyed every time I saw a cardigan left on a chair or a piece of mail on the table, until I went into a cleaning frenzy and scoured the entirely living space with bleach and soap. The first time [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went to a grad school conference, I spent three hours cleaning the entire apartment. And this was our first post-Japan apartment, when it was three rooms, one of which was the bathroom.

I have gotten better about it since then. I'm more careful to bring up when something is bothering me earlier in a way that doesn't lead to everything seeming okay until it's suddenly, overwhelmingly wrong. But one thing I've noticed over the years is that when I get into the annoyed side of the cycle, I don't actually feel anxious. If I'm pissed off at a company because of something I think they did wrong, I can actually pick up the phone and call them to complain, and yet I dreaded making restaurant reservations until I got an app that let me do it without any human interaction. Somehow, I need to find a way to synthesize those two attitudes into a Voltron of healthy response to my circumstances. I'm working on that.
dorchadas: (Office Space)
In furtherance of Darker than Black, because I really like chocolate, and also because they sent me a promotion for a free month, I signed up for a subscription delivery from Raaka Chocolate where they deliver three bars a month. I figure I can do at least one of those each month for Darker than Black, or save them up, or whatever. Or just eat them. Chocolate is good.

Except some asshole stole it. I'm pretty sure that it was one of our neighbors, because the package was sitting open on the inside stairs when I got home from work. It wasn't inside a bag and didn't have a slip like it had been damaged in transit, and the non-chocolate parts--the cacao bean samples and the informational leaflets--were still inside. So someone probably saw it said "chocolate" on the address label, ripped it open, stole the chocolate, and put it back.

I've already followed up with the post office, our property manager, and Raaka. Raaka agreed to resend another box of samples, which is pretty generous since we're still in the free month and haven't actually paid them yet. The post office is looking into it, and I haven't heard back from the property manager.

Hopefully it's a one-time thing and doesn't happen again. We'll know when the second package arrives.
dorchadas: (Office Space)
So if you're at all interested in Harry Potter, or know people who are interested in Harry Potter, you've probbaly seen the news about the other wizarding schools. The Japanese one is called Mahoutokoro (魔法所), which literally means "magic place."

(Disclaimer: I've read all the books, but I wouldn't describe myself as a Potter fan)

First point of annoyance. Let's leave aside that if there's going to be one wizarding school in East Asia (there are four others whose locations haven't been revealed, so one of those might be there), it should be in China, which has been the cultural capital of East Asia for millennia pretty much continuously until the 20th century, and accept that it's in Japan. Calling it "magic place" is the laziest name you could possibly imagine for it. The European wizarding schools don't have regal names, but they do have whimsical ones. Durmstrang, Beauxbatons, and Hogwarts are a little cutesy, but they say something interesting about the places they're located. Mahoutokoro doesn't say anything. It's the blandest, most generic possible name.

Since it's in Japan, maybe, I don't know, something to do with the sun? 夕焼け屋敷? That means "Sunset House" (yuuyake yashiki) and also puns on お化け屋敷 (obakeyashiki, "Haunted House"). There, I came up with a better name after literally thirty seconds of thought and actually knowing a little bit about Japanese.

Also, the pronunciation guide is fucking insulting. "Mah - hoot - o - koh - ro"? Mah-hoot?

Alright, moving beyond the name. Here's the article on Pottermore. I was talking with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd about this, and we noticed that the workings of Mahoutokoro have nothing to do with the way the Japanese education system works. Like, Hogwarts is a parody/loving homage to British education, with houses headed by prefects, exit exams, and so on. So for Mahoutokoro, how come students are just selected to get in? They should have to take entrance exams like every other Japanese student does. The color-changing robes are kind of neat, but they should get different robes for each year they're in, or have the robes change color to signify the year as well (though having them change based on educational achievement does match the Japanese practice of publically posting exam grades). Instead of being sorted into houses, they should be sorted into classes, each of which has a unified course of study that all members undergo. Japanese wizards would almost certainly be more well-educated in Muggle practices because their studies would include a wide variety of information that's not strictly magically useful. I mean, we know someone who wanted to be a firefighter and the exams for that job were the general government exams, so they included Japanese history, English, mathematics, formal Japanese, and a bunch of stuff that has nothing to do with putting out burning houses.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd specifically wonders if the Japanese Ministry of Magic--probably 魔法省 (mahoushou, literally "Ministry of Magic")--imports American, British, Australian, South Africa, and New Zealander wizards to teach Japanese wizards English.

And why is it on Iwo Jima? A friend pointed out that it's a deliberate World War II analogy, but Iwo Jima seems like an odd choice otherwise. Sure, I get that it's set there to be in an isolated place on top of a mountain...but the home islands are 80% uninhabitable mountains and there's a long tradition in Japan of 山伏 (yamabushi, [one who] bows to the mountain), mountain ascetics who are half sorcerers, half religious hermits. Putting Mahoutokoro on a mountain in the home islands could have easily tied into that tradition.

Basically, with a little more effort it could have been a distinctly Japanese school of magic the way Hogwarts is a British one, and instead it was just thrown out with minimal thought.
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
Secret of Mana is one of the games that I mentioned in my Jill of the Jungle review that I missed due to not owning any 16-bit consoles. I remember playing it at friends' houses, and at the time I thought it was fascinating. A multiplayer RPG? A RPG that's not turn-based? Charging up weapons? What is this sorcery?!

I didn't actually play much of it, though--I remember friends grinding spells in the Pure Land, and I remember the witch's castle in the haunted forest, but that's about it. Much later, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I tried to get through the game, but we missed a Sword Orb somewhere and couldn't find it, so we gave up. Over a year ago--November of 2014, according to the date on the first screenshot I have--we tried again, and this time we finally got all the way through.

And finally, I can say that I think Secret of Mana is stupid bullshit.


This would set the trend.

Read more... )
dorchadas: (Exalted: One True RPG)
In preparation for the upcoming Dragon-Blooded game I'm planning to run (more on that in later posts), I'm going through and pulling NPC, spirit, and creature stats into a single document so I don't have to flip through multiple books to find everything I want to use the same way I did with Charms and martial arts.

Both of those are done, by the way. I don't think I've mentioned that. Emoji Woot

What I'm finding is that there doesn't seem to be any kind of rhyme or reason to the stats. Some of the changes I'm making are minor, like updating the weapons to 2.5 standards--knives do less damage and so on--but I'm having to edit the stats in other ways because they just don't make much sense to me.

Everyone familiar with Exalted knows about the Mask of Winters being illiterate pre-errata, but why do mortal exorcists have War 3? Are they going to lead groups of monks against armies of ghosts? Why do elite soldiers all have Linguistics 3? Are they polyglot mercenaries? Those are minor, true, but I've already had to edit them in the mortal opponent stats.

And creature attacks are all over the place. Zombies do 4L damage even though they have Strength 5 and punches usually do +0B. Fakharu's dragon breath attack has Speed 10 (and his Bite has Speed 9) in a system where almost all actions are between Speeds 3 and 6. Buck-Ogres can "split their dice pool," which is meaningless in the timing-based Exalted combat system. Austrechs, which are three-meter-tall flightless birds, do 1L damage with their bite. Claw Striders' claw attacks are Speed 8. Tyrant Lizard's bites do 0L damage + Strength, which is 14, but still.

As near as I can tell, this was all decided by hurling darts at a dart board and writing down the results. And I don't want to just handwave everything because Exalted works just fine at low power levels and I want rational stats for future god-blooded or mortals games. Some of the low-power attacks might be due to wanting to avoid rocket tag, where large monsters miss several times and then kill anything they hit, and I'd believe that if pre-errata Exalted wasn't already nuclear missile tag. We'll see if I can pull order out of chaos here or if the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies and it just ends up worse than the original.

It's hot

2015-Jun-11, Thursday 09:20
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
Not outside, fortunately. We've had unseasonably cold weather and right now it's only 18°C out. But our air conditioning is broken and has been broken for two weeks. It was warmer yesterday, and when I got home it was 30°C, and apparently our apartment holds heat well because even though it dropped down to 20°C within an hour of me getting home and even though I opened all the windows, it was still 30°C inside when I went to bed. That made sleeping somewhat bothersome. It also made me more irritable than normal when playing through Baldur's Gate II last night.

I just got word while writing this post from management that they're working on it and should have a deadline for getting it fixed later today, which makes me happy. Even in Japan, we had a window unit and could retreat into the bedroom if things got really unbearable, but here opening the windows doesn't seem to help unless the different is really drastic, like a couple weeks ago when it was 10°C outside and we opened all the windows, and even then it took three or four hours to really cool the apartment.

It gives me a lot of appreciation for cultures with siestas and for Southern dueling culture, honestly. If I had to wear formal suits when it was this hot indoors and out, I'd be challenging people to duels at the slightest provocation too.

Edit: Just got word that a replacement aircon is scheduled to be installed on Monday, which isn't so bad. It's not supposed to get above 26°C other than Sunday, where it'll be 29°C which was still cooler than it was in our apartment yesterday. I think a visit to Lickity Split might be in order this weekend.
dorchadas: (Great Old Ones)
So I saw this picture on Facebook yesterday, and now it's time for me to rant about it:


Original source here.

First of all, I take schadenfreude that statistically, half of the people in the comments who are complaining about McDonald's jobs are for kids and not meant to live on, that the workers should work harder if they want to get paid more, that they should go back to college, and all the other standard anti-labor talking points, will have their jobs replaced by robots. What's that, Mr. CPA? Your job was taken by a robot? Well, maybe you should also work 24 hours a day without food or sleep. You're obvious just lazy.  photo troll001.png

I'm not going to claim that I have the moral high ground with that, but since a ton of those comments are spiteful "I don't get paid that much, so they shouldn't either" whines, I don't particularly care.

But mostly, they don't seem to understand that one person's expenses are another person's income. I mean, giving money to the poor is incredibly effective in terms of fighting poverty, and it's one of the situations where the phrase "a rising tide lifts all boats" is most accurate. Poor people spend all their money because they have to to survive, that money becomes profit for other businesses, who also spend it, which benefits other people, etc., etc. Give that money to someone like me (or for that matter, raise my salary) and I'd just stash it in investments that may or may not do anyone any good or a savings account that definitely won't do anyone but me any good, but give it to people who have to spend it and it gets spent, and since the majority of the American economy is driven by consumer spending, well...

On the subject of inflation, here's a reasonable article. As it points out, the impact is likely to be minimal, and nowadays we need more inflation anyway to convince people to spend some of that money they've got locked away.

I suppose there's always the Shania Twain Defense for low wages...

*CRASH!*

2015-Feb-22, Sunday 17:08
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
WELP.


At least one of them is intact?

So [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I were sitting down and enjoying a quiet Sunday afternoon listening to the Metroid Episode of VGMPire when we heard a tremendous crash from the kitchen. I yelled out to ask what the hell it was, she replied that she had no idea, we both went to check and found...that. One of the cheap plastic shelf supports had snapped in half, causing the shelf to collapse and dumping all of our large plates, rice bowls, and pickle dishes out on to the floor. Most of them, including the majority of the plates I inherited from my grandmother, the rice bowls we bought at the Ginza Festival, and the pickle dishes we got as a wedding present from [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd’s uncle, were shattered into a million pieces.

At least the smaller plates survived. And the shelf didn’t actually break, and the cabinet doors opened instead of having the dishes smash through the glass there. If the cabinets had broken too, it would have been much, much more annoying than it is.

After we cleaned everything up, we headed out to the Asian grocery store to get some more supplies for curry and night and now to pick up some cheap rice bowls until we can get more durable replacements. On the way back, we stopped in to a restaurant and grabbed some cookies. And since we already had milk, well:


The cookie is also broken. It’s that kind of day.

Hopefully nothing goes wrong with the curry!
dorchadas: (desu)
So I was reading one of the cyberpunk image blogs I have on my RSS feeds (Flesh-coated Technology, for the curious), and a post popped up there that wasn't an image or a piece of tech news, but was instead a musing on how terrible the world was. Unlike most of the ones they reblog, though, this was one of those libertarian screeds about how come people don't care about the issues that are really important.

For example:
Here’s the truth about social justice and feminism. It’s a diversion. A smoke screen. Because if people ever realized exactly how bad things are, sexual and racial inequality would be the last thing on their minds. Women making 80 cents to a man’s dollar? How about the fact that fifty percent of your income is stolen at the point of a gun.
It goes on and on from there--you can read the rest here if you want.

Most the responses on Tumblr correctly point out that a) shockingly, it's possible to care about more than one thing at the same time and b) a lot of the problems there are related anyway. But the reason I'm writing about it is that the first thing the immediately leapt out at me is that all of it is complaining about issues that affect the (presumably white, straight, and male) author of the piece.

Nearly everything there is structured as, "You're worried about [issue that affects minorities and women]? What about the real [issue that could potentially affect straight white men]? Huh?! Why aren't you thinking of the real problems?!" I've noticed that in a lot of discourse over the years. Not just the focus on issues that affect them personally, which is pretty much a human thing and, while perhaps not laudable, shouldn't be condemned, but the whole "your worries are facile and dumb, you should worry about real problems, like the ones that might hurt me!" line of attack. It cropped up during the 2012 elections too, when some pollsters and commentators were baffled that women stubbornly refused to care about the economy as much as they were supposed to because they were carrying about reproductive rights.

The point about divide and conquer is somewhat well-taken, but see above about caring about more than one thing at a time. This kind of "your issues are just stupid fluff" line of criticism is part of why I find most libertarian thought so repulsive.

And if you're wondering why I'm blaming libertarians, it's that "stolen at the point of a gun" line. It's a dead giveaway.

Owww, my foot

2014-Aug-20, Wednesday 10:23
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
Last night, I was getting ready to take a shower and I noticed that the old conditioner bottle that I had washed out but not taken to the recycling yet (because I was waiting for it to dry) had been moved to the other side of the tub, so I figured that I'd throw it in the recycling before I got in. In a rush, I grabbed the bottle, stepped out of the bathroom, and rammed my foot directly into the kitchen doorframe in what was probably the most painful stubbed toe I've ever had in my life.

At least, I hope it's just stubbed. It might be broken, and looking on the internet seems to reveal no commonality in symptoms. I can move all my toes, my foot supports my weight, it's swollen but not bruised, the toe is at an angle but only a small one and that's probably caused by swelling since there's no pain when I manually move it back into place...but all that might mean nothing! Who knows!

At least the internet isn't telling me it's cancer, which is actually pretty good for looking up medical problems online.

I have an appointment with our doctor on Friday, so I'll see what he says and what I should do. In the meantime, I'm at work with my foot propped up on my computer box, and occasionally propped up on my knee. It's a bit awkward, but not as awkward as the walk to work was.

So that's my birthday so far!

I hate Loyola

2014-May-02, Friday 17:51
dorchadas: (Office Space)
Okay, backstory time. So every year [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd has gone to the NASP national conference, and as you might imagine, Loyola has funding available for grad students who are giving presentations or part of a presentation at the conference. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd has qualified for that every year, and applied every year, and her application has been accepted.

So far, she hasn't been paid at all. Not for 2012, the year where she was the only one who applied. Not for 2013, a year in which all the other students in her cohort who applied for funding received it. And not even for 2014, where she applied and hasn't been paid, but there are others who also haven't been paid yet so at least now I have some hope that we'll get the money in a timely fashion despite Loyola's past track record of screwing us. Though there are also other people who have been paid, so Loyola continues its track record of claiming to value [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's contributions and then doing nothing to demonstrate that at all.

The reason I'm so annoyed at the moment is that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had a meeting yesterday to figure out why we haven't gotten any money despite applying for three years in a row, and their response was basically, "dunno lol. Who knows if we ever had the money to give you in the first place! Probably should have checked that before we let you apply, amirite? We'll look into that," which is...not what I would have expected from a university that claims justice and stewardship as its mandate, shall we say.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd has other people to talk to about this, so we'll see if it goes anywhere. After years of total silence, I'm not expecting anything other than stonewalling and incompetence from Loyola at this point, though.

Hey, more reinforcement for me being cynical and misanthropic.

Addenum:
Well, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd had a meeting today with the program chair for Loyola school psychology and, as it turns out, it isn't Loyola's fault at all. She didn't read the directions right and didn't turn in all the forms necessary to submit a proper request, so that's $1,000 down the drain.

She managed to fix it for this year, but there's nothing to be done for the last two years that we were waiting on. (>_<)
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
This post is borne out of my annoyance with this article titled The Tragedy of Mozilla and with various comments on the internet complaining about how mean people are being to Eich, how if we decide to boycott Mozilla then what happens when "they" decided to boycott something we agree with, when will it end, stop the madness, but free speech lol, and so on.

And another example, here's Andrew Sullivan making the "but both sides!" argument:
When people’s lives and careers are subject to litmus tests, and fired if they do not publicly renounce what may well be their sincere conviction, we have crossed a line. This is McCarthyism applied by civil actors. This is the definition of intolerance. If a socially conservative private entity fired someone because they discovered he had donated against Prop 8, how would you feel? It’s staggering to me that a minority long persecuted for holding unpopular views can now turn around and persecute others for the exact same reason.
Of course, as the subject line I mentioned above should tell you, I think this is an incredibly sophomoric view.

You can read plenty of opinions that agree with me here on Sullivan's Facebook page, but I'll quote a bit from Marco Arment because he's one of the hosts of the Accidental Tech Podcast, which is great and you should totally listen to it if you're interested in tech news. Anyway:
Suppose, rather than fund an anti-gay-marriage bill, Eich had instead funded a fringe bill that prohibited black people from getting married. Or suppose he said during a press conference that he believed women shouldn’t have the right to vote.

Would it be reasonable for the public to be outraged and call for his firing then?

Assuming your answer is yes (I don’t think I can really help you if it’s not), why is that different from funding an anti-gay-marriage bill?
More here.

The main thrust of a lot of those internet arguments is basically this:


That all opinions should be freely expressed, and that by not letting Eich talk about his views we will slide ever-downward on a slippery slope toward some kind of censorship hell. Where will it end, asks the straight white male (and it's almost always someone who won't be personally affected by these opinions, though Sullivan's piece above shows that's not the entirety of the counterpoint), and cue the wringing of hands and the gnashing of teeth.

Here's my response to that:

And there's a number of reasons for that.
  1. Someone leaving a company because their behavior reflects badly on that company isn't censorship, it's capitalism. It's just that usually it's poor people getting fired and no one cares, but when the rich have to do it, all of a sudden people are up in arms. Hmmm.

  2. As I said in the subject, not all opinions are of equal value, and treating them as if they are is an abrogation of moral responsibility. "Let's give people their civil rights" is not the equivalent of "those people are subhuman and do not deserve civil rights." Some opinions deserve condemnation whenever they appear. As Marco Arment says above, if Eich had donated to the KKK this wouldn't even be a controversy. The only reason people are freaking out is because of societal bigotry.

  3. Similarly, bigot organizations like One Million Moms boycott equality groups all the time. Boycotts are not some kind of horrible censorship unless you think that capitalists are morally entitled to our money. They're one of the few methods that the powerless have to affect the behavior of the powerful.

  4. Prop 8 wasn't some kind of mere disagreement among ivory tower intellectuals. The proponents' ads in favor were full of insulting bullshit about gay people being too dangerous to allow around children. Slate has an article about it here.

  5. If firing people for their opinions is so bad, how about we repeal right-to-work laws and work to institute employment protections across the entire United States, conservatives? Does that sound good? I think we can work together on this to...hey, where are you going? Were you even listening to me? Again, Slate to the rescue.

  6. It is still legal in 29 states to fire QUILTBAG people for existing. The situation is not remotely comparable, and pretending like it is is...well, see above about the abrogation of moral responsibility.

American culture loves its Golden Mean Fallacy, to the extent that we have rich people apparently sincerely arguing that pointing out that they're destroying democracy and the middle class and leading us toward a nightmare cyberpunk dystopian future is exactly like the treatment of Jews before the Shoah. That's obviously ludicrous, though. Context matters, and treating this like some kind of horrible witch hunt does an incredible disservice to the actual substance of the argument.
dorchadas: (Kirby sweatdrop)
You know what I mean--the idea that your actions balance out on some impartial cosmic scale or something.

So, I got my yearly bonus, and that was really good. Here's what's gone wrong since then:

  • I bought Final Fantasy Tactics like I was going to...except I bought the iPhone version and it's not a universal app, so I wasted $14 and I have to buy the iPad version. You might say that this is really minor, and I agree that I'm fortunately not in a place where $14 is an expense I have to fret over, misers experience emotional pain when spending money and that absolutely describes me. I was actually considering for a moment not going to [livejournal.com profile] tropicanaomega's birthday party until I realized that was a stupid response to the problem. Also, experiences and memories make us happier than owning things, so even beyond all the obvious reasons it's a stupid response, it's irrational from a utilitarian perspective.  photo icon_spock.gif

  • I started the rice for tomorrow--a heavy load, since I eat some rice in the morning every day as part of this balanced breakfast and tomorrow is also curry night--set everything up, and closed the lid of the rice cooker and turned it on. Except...the lid didn't close, so the rice ended up half-cooked, super-hard, and inedible, requiring me to throw it all away, clean the rice cooker, and do it again.

  • I wanted to play Diablo III to recover a bit from the previous two setbacks, but that failed too. It turns out that RCN is having outages in Chicago and eastern Massachusetts, which are intermittent enough that just browsing around the internet isn't really affected, but trying to play a massively singleplayer game fails because the lag spikes are just enough to repeatedly kick me out of the game.

  • I just realized while writing this that I was going to make tea and I forgot.

Disgusted with all that, I turned to making up more Exalted thaumaturgy rituals. At least my computer didn't explode while doing that or writing this, though at this point, I shouldn't tempt fate.

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