dorchadas: (JCDenton)
I would have had this up earlier today, but first there was a power outage that took up forty minutes of our time and then I went out to a three-hour-long dinner. Add in some other things I was doing, and there was a short delay. But it's still the first, so it's still a retrospective on the New Year!

I don't bother with New Year's resolutions. But I did find this tweet that I like:

The biggest change I made this year is that I got serious about Japanese. Technically I've been taking lessons since August of last year, but this is the year where Aya-sensei suggested that we read 世界の中心で愛を叫ぶ and where I've worked my way through a fifth of a Japanese novel. I also played multiple games in Japanese and read a manga volume in Japanese as well! I never really sought out opportunities to use and practice my Japanese other than through flash cards and listening to podcasts occasionally, and that's why I was stagnant for so long. Now I'm getting better because I'm making a space for myself to do so and moving into that space.  photo wheeeeee_emote_by_seiorai.gif

This is also the year that we went back to Japan! And with friends! It was a whirlwind tour, and there were several places I wish we could have spent more time at, but it was a fantastic experience. And I wrote something about it every day for a total of over 50,000 words under the Japan (日本) tag, so I'll say no more about that.

I was not more social than last year, and if anything, I was even more of a hermit. A regular game night on Mondays, Japanese lessons on Tuesdays, and book group on Wednesdays along with softlykarou having a standing commitment on Wednesdays meant that time for the two of us was in shorter supply than previous, so I valued it more highly and make extra time for it, pushing other things to the side. This isn't actually something I mean to change either way. It's not something that bothers me. But I would like to play more board games in 2017, like Kingdom Death and Android and Chaos in the Old World and our old copy of HeroQuest with the cannibalized DragonStrike parts, and that means I need to reach out and not just retreat into single-player video games. We'll see.

Also, maybe I should have a minis assembling session for Kingdom Death. Still in the box.  photo chryssalid.gif

I managed to keep saving money even with going to Japan and the bulk of replacing my wardrobe! Discovering Orimono and Guylook and similar sites, to say nothing of the designers I already knew of, gave me a pretty wife selection of clothes I loved, but fortunately my closet is only so big and is basically full now. There's a few more pieces I want to acquire, but my wardrobe is basically complete for now. And I put a good chunk of our salary into savings every month, aided by our lack of student loans. It'll be worthless after the Last War when the only currencies will be bullets and the heaped skulls of the dead, but maybe I'll be able to trade with some feral hedge fund managers for toilet paper and beef jerky.

We were supposed to switch to the new data management system at work, but the project is behind schedule, so no news on that front. Question block photo emot-question.gif

I usually post pretty hopeful quotes at the end of the year, but I'm not feeling that hopeful now. The quote I think is the most apt is a bit more pessimistic:
"There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."
-Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Hopefully 2017 will not be as bad as we fear, for me, or for any of you.


明けましておめでとう。皆様のご健康をお祈り申し上げます!
dorchadas: (Perfection)
This week [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I received our shipment of mirin, the sweet cooking sake that we use to make some meat and all the だし巻き (dashimaki, "dashi-flavored fried eggs"). It took us months to use up the last two bottles and this time in a fit of exuberance, I ordered five, which will probably take us years to use. Fortunately, since it's mildly alcoholic, it's not going to go bad. But because we ordered them close to the new year, they sent along packets of spices for お屠蘇 (otoso, "spiced New Year's sake").

I'd never even heard of this before the packets arrived. It's not something I was familiar with in Hiroshima, though it's possible that I just never noticed it. I could read enough on the packaging that I understand the recipe from the spices comes from Three Kingdoms-era China, and became popular in Japan during the Heian era, and we had to look the rest up online. And then we had a bottle of sake around, and we're going to a party tonight, so we took out some of the packets, put them in a bowl with some sake, and set it to soaking:


It should have just enough time soaking for the flavor to really permeate it, and then we'll bring it along to the party and drink it at the turning of the year. Hopefully it will drive out the evil of 2016--屠, "to slaughter," 蘇, "to be revived"--and taste good to boot!
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
Some of these will be pretty similar to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's list, but you know, we're married. It kind of makes sense.

In no particular order:

  • Family Vacations!: We took two trips last year that I've been wanting to take for a while--one to Oregon, where I've spent over a year of my life when you count all the summer trips I took as a child, and to Philadelphia, where I lived when I was at university. Both of those were obviously huge parts of my life, and I'm really happy that I got the chance to share them with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd. Now, maybe it's her turn. I hear she really likes New Orleans...

  • Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries: We did it. It was more like 60 weeks, counting the time that we had to take off and the few extra curries we threw in, which meant that it wasn't 50 curries either, but I was amazed by the response I got to my writing. Many people telling me that they looked forward to it every week, inviting themselves to dinner (jokingly or otherwise) and asking [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd to make a particular food, asking what the next food project was going to be... It was really surprising for me, since I never realize how many people read my writing. Maybe we will do another food project! Any suggestions?

  • We Went to Alinea: That was something we were planning to do for years, but we never really made the time until a friend suggested it and we took her up on the offer. It lived up to the hype. If you can find a reason, go.

  • Japanese Lessons: This is something I've been putting off for the longest time, for financial reasons and because I was nervous about the process of learning. But I finally bit the bullet, started going to classes, and I think it's helped a lot. I can get practice reading anywhere on the internet, I can practice listening by watching anime or JDramas, but I can't practice speaking without a speaking partner. This was gearing up to the trip we're planning to take in 2016, but I think I'll keep going after that. I will be able to speak conversational Japanese by the time I die.

  • Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom: I worked on this, on and off, for about two years, from the initial idea to statting things up in Novus to switching to Exalted to really nailing everything down, and in 2015 I started running a brief test game to see if it all works. And it does! I have a bit of a difficult time balancing combat encounters, but my contention that mortal- or god-blooded level Exalted produces a fun game has some support now. My players actually asked for another game after the current one finishes, so I'll be running a longer game with different characters in the future. They may yet trample the jeweled thrones of Agarica under their sandaled feet!

  • Saving Money: I did it! I had a goal of every month, putting some money into savings, some money into investments, and some money into our retirement accounts, and I managed to do that every single month in 2015. Sometimes I couldn't put in as much as I wanted in one of those categories, but I'd always make up for it in subsequent months.

  • Writing: Throughout 2015, I wrote a review of every book I read and video game I beat, I kept up Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries, developed Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom into something workable and functional as a game, and wrote a bunch of other blog posts as well. Even though I didn't work more on The Lamplighters Guild, I still did a lot of writing work.

  • Fashion: I finally realized that maybe I should get rid of some of those old clothes and that, now that we have money, I can afford to dress the way that I've always wanted to rather than wearing clothes forever until they fall apart. Thanks to PlastikWrap, Demobaza, Zolnar, H2H, and a couple other places I can't remember. Sadly, trawling thrift shops is usually not that helpful for me--it's hard enough for me to find clothes from clothes shops. I wrote more about this here.


Traditionally, I post the lyrics to "Long December" on New Year's to express my hope for a good new year, but this year I have something a bit different. While looking around for something for a friend's birthday, I found a poem from the 小倉百人一首 that I think fits pretty well:
ながらへば
またこの頃や
しのばれむ
憂しと見し世ぞ
今は恋しき
And here's my translation of it:
If I should live long
will these days again
Be brought to mind?
That world that I grieved to see,
Now, it is dear to me
明けましておめでとう!今年もよろしく!

Happy New Year, everyone.
dorchadas: (Default)
New Years Rosh Hashanah meme

Nonetheless, I'm writing a New Year's retrospective.

I'm very fortunate that 2014 was a pretty good year for me. A lot of my friends had major shakeups or active disasters, to say nothing of the national or world situation (which are admittedly mostly things that got greater exposure this year rather than being entirely new), but for my family, everything went very well. In honor of the listicle becoming a thing, I'll do this in a list format:
  • Marriage: Still married, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd is still the best wife ever. This alone helps brighten every year. Emoji Chiyo rush

  • RPGs: I finished off the Delta Green game I started years ago, played in (and wrote up an Actual Play of!) a short-run game run by my wife in a setting I wrote, am playing in her Princess: the Hopeful game, and am currently running two games, a WFRP 2e game and a Fallout ORE game set in Chicago. I'm also slowly working on Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom, and I have some other ideas in the pipeline when I have more gaming time. I'm set on this score.

  • Work: I didn't get fired in the sudden layoffs a month ago at my job, my performance review was great, I still get to listen to podcasts for hours every day, and I still don't have to talk to anyone. The new managerial team means the future is uncertain, but for the last year, at least, everything was great.

  • Writing: I write a lot nowadays. Between putting more RPG stuff here, Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries, my book reviews, and starting to write reviews of all the video games I beat...well, I'm not sure how many words a week that is, but it's easily in the thousands. I didn't do NaNoWriMo this year, but I don't need it to compel me to write. I'm doing fine on my own.

  • Video games: I'm happiest that I finally beat Morrowind again, but most of the fond memories I have are of playing with my friends. Minecraft and a Secret of Mana with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and Terraria with her and another friend filled a lot of happy hours. I got some of the kickstarters I backed too (Divinity: Original Sin and Wasteland II), but I can't speak to their quality, because I'm waiting for them to be patched up to play them. I even picked up my DS copy of Chrono Trigger and started to run through it again. And finally, I ended up sharing even some of my single-player gaming with my friends through the magic of streaming video. It is truly a Golden Age of gaming on all fronts. Emoji Quest For Glory Dance

  • Exercise: Last year I was worried that I wasn't getting enough walking in, but I easily fixed that problem. My tracking program tells me that I'm getting an average of around 14K steps per day, which is more than enough and is also probably why I go through socks so fast and wore through the soles of my boots and had to replace them in November. On the other hand, I've maintained my weight and I'm very happy with the way I look and feel. The only disadvantage is the amount of money that goes down my throat with all the food I eat...but fortunately we can afford it. The only problem I ran into was smashing my toe on a doorframe, but while it hasn't healed back to the same way it was before I smashed it, it's not actually hindering me in any way, so I can count that a victory. I could have broken it, after all.

  • Money: After years of living close to the bone, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd graduated from grad school and got a job making over twice what I make at her first choice of school, so we're in good hands for the foreseeable future and I can return to my customary behavior of saving about a quarter of our pre-tax income. I also, through the incredible generosity of my parents during [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's tenure in school, managed to pay off all of her student loans two days before she graduated, which puts us in an incredibly fortunate situation compared to the vast majority of our peers. We also finally finished off the saga of the Japanese Pension Office payment, receiving our payment roughly two and a half years after the average amount of time it's supposed to take. We are unbelievably lucky on all monetary fronts, and, b'ezrat haShem, hopefully that luck will continue.

To celebrate my good fortune, I made sure to accomplish a resolution I've had for a while--eat an entire bar of dark chocolate at once. The secret to achieving your dreams is to make sure they're petty and stupid. Emoji Dancing parrot

As is my somewhat years tradition, here's some song lyrics which I've posted nearly every year since I was in university:
A long December and there's reason to believe

Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin'
Now the days go by so fast

And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think that I could be forgiven...I wish you would

The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl

And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California...I think you should

Drove up to Hillside Manor sometime after two a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her

And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass

And it's one more day up in the canyon
And it's one more night in Hollywood

It's been so long since I've seen the ocean...I guess I should


I honestly don't remember how I got in the habit of posting those. I think it was adolescent angst and the eternal hope that things would be better, and now I'm just continuing that tradition even though things have gotten better. A lot better. Here's to them continuing that way in 2015. Emoji sunglasses gleam

明けましておめでとうございます!皆さん、今年もよろしくお願いします!

2013 Retrospective

2014-Jan-01, Wednesday 22:31
dorchadas: (Default)
Let's talk about the last year!

I guess the biggest change from the perspective of this blog is that I started actually posting here again. I got inspired by RPGs--as is often the case, I admit--and started my Dungeons & Design series, and I think it was mostly the fact of posting those that got me into the habit of posting about other subjects. There are other factors too, like how I have enough down time here and there at work that I can write posts in notepad, send them home, and then post them. I also stopped friend-locking everything and started defaulting to public posts, even when they're about my life. It's essentially security through apathy--I can see how many people visit my blog, and on an average day it's a couple dozen. I post all these updates to Facebook and Twitter and the truth is that most people don't care. That may be a little sad, but it certainly tells me that the excessive care I was taking about talking about anything remotely personal is unwarranted. Whatever I say will mostly just get lost in the flow of the internet anyway, unless people are specifically looking to read it.

I was hoping that we'd be paid back by at least one of the people who owed us money this year, but it didn't happen. Aggressively didn't happen, in the case of the Japanese Pension Office. Or perhaps passive-aggressively? Regardless, it led to some tight moments at times, especially during the summer, though I do admit that some of that is because I refuse to touch the principal. Now that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd has a steady paycheck from her internship everything is okay, though I admit my grasping miserliness does mean I'm less happy with our finances that their absolute quality should lead me to be, but overall it's been on an upward trend. And maybe someone will actually pay us this year. A man can dream.

Work continues much the same as it has been. I had my annual review and did better than I did last year, and my job's bureaucracy and policies means that I'll get an automatic raise and a yearly bonus commensurate with my performance. It's theoretically possible that we won't get the bonus, since the amount and whether it occurs at all is based on the AMA's overall performance during the year, but I haven't heard of anything that would indicate that it's not coming. Even if it doesn't, I'll still get the raise. The benefits of working for a non-profit with no shareholders!

In terms of personal improvement, I took up programming! I originally thought about doing it back in May and was given a lot of resources, and later took a Coursera course that I wrote all about. I've even seen found an implementation of Python for the iPad, and since I have my iPad with me all the time at work, I can get that and then have time to bash my head against programs at work as well as at home! Indeed, during my interview for the job I was asked if I knew anything about HTML or programming and I had to say that I did not, so if I can actually learn programming to a useful level I can hopefully get a promotion. The end project was an implementation of Asteroids, and I'd love to do a lot more to work on it than I had to do for the class to keep my hand in, but what I did accomplish is reasonably impressive, I think.

Also, studied Japanese, but on that subject I'm less confident. I maintained my ability, and that's about it.

Last year, I told myself that if I maintained the weight I had reached in August (~77 kg) for a whole year, I'd go get my wedding ring resized because it's rather large now and I'm kind of worried that it will slip off at some point. Well...I did maintain my weight, but I didn't actually get the ring resized--see the above-mentioned grasping miserliness. I also linked up my new iPhone's M7 chip with LoseIt and started tracking my steps and apparently my average number of steps per day is...5,218. Out of the 10K that's recommended. Exercise is healthy basically no matter what, and getting that number up is something I'd like to improve on in the future, but so far I'm doing pretty well on that front.

I made much more of an effort to be social in 2013. In 2012, I think I had the tendency to hermit a lot more, turning down people's invitations and not really inviting anyone over to [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and my apartment. I'm not sure what exactly it was. It might have been some remaining difficulty with adjusting to the pace of social life in America vs. what it had been like in Japan, maybe some Anxiety Cat--there's a really old one that I thought fit me really well that said something like "too nervous to talk to people, come off as arrogant or standoffish"--maybe just my typical introverted personality, but this year I tried to avoid falling into the trap of staying home all the time. I like to think I succeeded, or at least reasonably well. And it turns out that traveling out to other places isn't really that bad, even on a work night. I tend to apply the maxim "past performance is no indication of future results" to social events if I'm not careful, in the sense that sure I had fun the last time I went to a party, and the time before that, and probably the time before that...but what about this time!?!? That's not a productive attitude to take, honestly. So this year, I made sure to try to shut that off at the pass. Once I get out of the house, then inertia takes over and I'm not exactly going to turn around halfway there. And it turns out that my friends are awesome people and fun to be around to an extent that far outweighs the annoyance of having to change my physical location. Who would have thought, right? Obviously, this has always been true, but it's convincing that little voice that's the trick, and in 2013 I beat it into submission. Or at least, I inflicted grevious wounds.

All in all, it's been a pretty fantastic year, and I'm looking forward to what 2014 will bring.

I realize that posting song lyrics is incredibly emo and so early-2000s as to be aggressively unhip, but it's pseudo-tradition for me, so:

A long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember the last thing that you said as you were leavin'
Now the days go by so fast
And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think that I could be forgiven...I wish you would
The smell of hospitals in winter
And the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl
And it's one more day up in the canyons
And it's one more night in Hollywood
If you think you might come to California...I think you should
Drove up to Hillside Manor sometime after two a.m.
And talked a little while about the year
I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower about the things you could not show her
And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
And it's one more day up in the canyon
And it's one more night in Hollywood
It's been so long since I've seen the ocean...I guess I should...
dorchadas: (Default)
A bit different this year.

Wassail, wassail... )

*raises a glass*

新年明けましておめでおう!今年もよろしく. Happy New Year, everyone!

お正月

2011-Jan-03, Monday 01:52
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I had a few people[1] over for New Years, avoiding our error in previous years by not traveling anywhere. Well, other than to one of the local shrines. I asked Kaminaka-san if he knew of any place doing anything for 初詣 (hatsumōde, the first shrine visit for the new year), and he told us a couple. One of them, the one in Mibu (the same place that has Mibu no Hanadaue in the summer), has a small event for the New Year, so we all watched Firefly until midnight and then went to Mibu-jinja. I slightly misunderstood the directions at first, but after seeing which way everyone else was walking, we managed to find the shrine (and as a bonus, I now know how to say "T intersection" in Japanese).

In addition to the typical hatsumōde events, there was a service going on inside the shrine. We stayed for a moment outside, unsure what to do, but after seeing that people were entering and leaving freely we went inside. There were musicians playing (a bit similar to kagura, actually), and after some chanting, they had everyone come up, take a branch tied with a white ribbon, and offer it at the shrine. We did (I stood up first, the others took a little urging from one of the people nearby), and then we left, along with half the people inside. It makes me wonder if they just ran the same thing over and over in a loop, and people would drift in and out as they came to the shrine. I'm not sure to ask who would know, however.

Unlike any of the previous six months, we're ending this month with more than ¥10,000 in our bank account. First we had the Singapore trip, then car trouble, then a number of other things kept cropping up. We're actually quite lucky that we never needed to request a pay advance to withdraw money using our credit cards or anything, but now we're mostly in the clear. It was a bit harrowing, and somewhat humbling, since I considered myself good at financial planning (our savings rate in America was around 30% of our post-tax income. A rate high enough that if everyone did it it would destroy the economy) but we still kept running into problems. I think I got a bit lazy--I never bothered to save receipts in America, since buying everything with a credit card left a record of our purchases that I could use to determine where our money went. That doesn't happen in a country where everything is done in cash, though, so now I keep records.

I've been playing a game called Winter Voices lately, which is quite an odd little game. The basic plot is that the main character's father has just died, and the game (so far) is about her dealing with his death. All of the RPG-style combat that takes place is a metaphorical representation of her coping with her grief. As such, combat isn't usually about defeating your opponents, since you can't really destroy your own memories. Instead, it's typically about surviving a certain amount of time or reaching a certain spot on the board.

One interesting consequence of this is that success and failure aren't binary. Being "defeated" in most battles just means that you weren't able to deal with the past, so instead of dying you lose a percentage of the xp you'd normally get and have the option to retry if you want.

The story is a little slow (I've played for a couple hours and I don't know much at all, except that while the men in the village my character is in seem to like me just fine, some of the women are cold or dismissive. Mysterious...), but it helps fit the mood. What doesn't really fit the mood is the walking speed, which makes it take forever to get anywhere, and the animations. Memories in combat with you get multiple attacks and have relatively slow animations (and I'm not sure how to speed them up, or if you can), which means large battles can take forever because of all the slow animations taking place. The other minor issue is that the game is by a French company and sometimes there are translation goofs or odd word choices which do a great job of snapping you out of the mood they're trying to create. These are pretty rare, though. It's interesting, but I'm not sure I'll have the patience to play through all of the seven episodes they have planned. I may also have been better off not picking the hard-mode class to play on my first go through, though even so I'm doing pretty well.

This is the most I've written here in a while that wasn't a story.

[1]: My blog is hampered here by my policy of avoiding real names, I think. Still, nothing much to be done.
dorchadas: (desu)
Happy New Year, everyone.

Yay!

2008-Jan-01, Tuesday 00:00
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
Happy New Year everyone!

(I would be at a party, but [livejournal.com profile] softlykarou has to work tomorrow and I didn't want to abandon her)

A good year in review, I think.

Obviously, the thing that shaped 2007 for me the most was getting married to [livejournal.com profile] softlykarou, though not getting into JET came second (this year!) otherwise I'd be posting this from Japan right now. I've let my Japanese studying slack off because of that--it's something I hope to pick back up again soon. And hopefully I'll have a use for it.

Being the only one up at the moment is a little depressing...but really, what do I have to complain about at the moment? Nothing.

And that's the sign of a good New Year.

As is my custom...

2007-Jan-02, Tuesday 16:05
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
lyrics )

And it looks like it will be, too.
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
(that's "Happy new year")

Now that I'm no longer puking my guts out, I can actually post! I had food poisoning (or something) on Tuesday and Wednesday. I'm not sure how it could have been food poisoning, since I've been on vacation with my family and have been eating all the same things they've been. It could have been the flu or something, but no one else got it. Oh well--at least I'm over it now, except for some latent stomach unsettledness that props up when eating. I was able to eat curry just fine a couple days ago, though, so I think I'm pretty close to normal.

It is perhaps a mark of my geekdom that I view the ability to read the note in this PA strip as evidence of my progress in Japanese.

And now, off to play Ōkami and FFXII.

Happy New Year!

2006-Jan-01, Sunday 22:21
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
More later, but for now, suffice to say I had a wonderful time at [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's.

And I didn't get horribly burned. Hopefully the rest of the year continues on a similar high note.

lyrics )

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