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My Thoughts on 2012

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Dec 31 2012 · 148 views

Normally, around this time of year, I would write a blog entry summarizing all my shortcomings from this year and how I was going to change next year.  Only this time, I don't feel horrible depressed or anything so I got nothing much to add.  (That, and just in case the world ended last week, I only planned for 3 months into 2013.  Drat, now I gotta think about stuff even further down the road... like 4 month from now, or even 5 months!)
 
So, um, I'm excited to start an internship and move to Dallas.  It'll be costly, but I will have to make some room in my budget for Lego, because there's lots of exciting sets coming out.  I have my eyes on Ninjago in particular, as most of the sets (and figs) look pretty awesome.  Chima is also a cool one, although I don't think I can afford to get too invested in it.  Also Galaxy Squad looks epic, but I'll probably only get one or two cheaper ones.  Plus, still interested in Hero Factory, 'cause of some of the new trans green elements look nice.  And, of course, the collectible minifigures, of which I want them all.  ;)
 
I'm also looking forward to eating more solid foods in a couple of weeks.  :happydance:
 
So Happy New Year, everybody!  Party on.  (And if you're partying like it's 1999... then it must be a historical themed party.  Ha!)
 
:music:


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Surgery

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts, News Dec 19 2012 · 189 views
Its-the-end-of-the and 2 more...
So I'm going into Surgery today.  (Or rather, tomorrow since I'm writing this from yesterday thanks to the amazing blog time machine!)  I'll probably be out for a few days or so, and when I come back I might be on so many painkillers that you won't be able to tell my crazy ramblings from my normal ones!
 
Back-story: I've probably mentioned this before in this blog, cause I love complaining, but I have pretty bad acid reflux.  I had the doctors stick a camera or something down my throat this summer to see how bad I am.  Turns out I have some sort of abnormally large hole in the top of my stomach.  And as such, I can claim that this isn't a problem caused by my dieting habits.  (Goldfish crackers + lemonade is totally a diet.)  But it's an ongoing problem, and currently I'm having to take some hefty medication to keep it down.  So the obvious solution is a full out surgery.  :D  (Well, I did research some other possibilities, and some I don't even qualify for, and it turns out this surgery is the best method.)
 
It shouldn't be too much of a problem.  The doctors who's doing this is experienced... like, uber, "I've do this a hundred times a year" experienced.  (And I suppose that also makes my problem not that unique either.)  So it's nothing life threatening, but it will help in the long run.  I'm not too worried about it.
 
What I am worried about is the fact that I'll have to be on a liquid food diet for two weeks after this.  Feasting during the end of the year?  Only on jello or yogurt for me!
 
That, and the world might end in a couple of days, and I might be on too many painkillers to either A: Get out of the way of the falling, flaming debris, or B: Not be able to appreciate the explosion on the horizon before it consumes me.  Hmm, maybe I should've pushed off the surgery for a few days.  Eh, too late now.
 
Posted Image
 
Anyway, parting picture: since people have been putting santa hats on their avatars, I decided to do the same to mine.  :P  Happy holidays, stay safe, and see you on the other side!
 
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Emotional

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts, Stories Dec 18 2012 · 166 views

What is it with some of these Anime?  12 episodes and I get emotionally attached to the characters and moved by the finale.  Doesn't happen a lot for other shows I watch.  Maybe it's cause I'm watching entire seasons back to back instead of drawn out... but still.
 
And by "moved" I mean slightly choked up but not bawling or anything.  :P  And this doesn't apply to everything.
 
It has made me think of some of my own writing experience.  Honestly, there is only one time I ever got choked up over my own writing, and that was when I killed off Duka in my Bionicle epic Time Disruption. (Oh, uh, spoiler?)  But in general, I've avoided tragic deaths in most of my writings.  Sure, I have bad things happen to the characters, and the endings aren't always 100% perfect, but usually most of them survive.  Well, there is one story where I killed off all the supporting characters, one at a time, and the protagonist had an emotional breakdown, but it didn't happen to me as a writer.  (Because he used time travel to go back and change the chain of events, thus leading to only a few deaths of supporting characters... uh, yeah, spoiler again!)  But the point is, I never got choked up as an author because I knew I was bringing the characters back.  In retrospect, Duka's death kind of came up at the last moment, and although I was expecting to give him a sad fate, his death just seemed to accidentally slide into place and thus the emotion felt more real.  (And Duka wasn't even one of the main characters either!)
 
But yeah, this doesn't normally happen.  I mean, Toy Story III is one movie where I got teared up a bit (not just the incinerator scene, but also the lost teddy bear scene, cause that actually did happen to me as a kid except without an exact replacement.)  And I guess the seventh Harry Potter book was a little sad in that chapter where he walks through the forest.  But do those Anime writers have nothing better to do than write moving stories with relatable characters??
 
That's it, I'm going back to watching the robot mecha gory ones instead.  :P
 
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Do My Posts Count?

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Dec 17 2012 · 204 views

For the first time, I think my post count rank has slipped!
 
I was just checking the member list, where I ordered it by post count.  From like 2005 to 2010, I was like in the top 70-80 posters on BZP.  (Like, usually ten or so down on the second page with 60 members per page.)  I mean, after the first couple years, I made progress, but for most years, I just made steady progress.  I'd pass some members, and then other members would pass me.  But I haven't been posting much this year, and it's affected my rank, which is now about halfway down the second page.  (So, maybe top 90-100.)
 
So what am I going to do about this?
 
Nothing.  :P
 
I mean, I could blame it on the fact that none of my reporter duties increase my post count despite me having to post a news story once-ish a week-ish.  Or that the places I post most often don't count posts.  (Ima lookin' at you, Voting Booth!)  But really, it's cause I'm super inactive on the forums.  And besides, it's not about your post count... but about your blog count.  I'm now the 4th biggest blogger.  Bambi, Bfahome, and CF, ya better watch out!  (Note, I'm not in the most viewed or most commented blog... I just talk to myself here more than most people!)
 
Also I should become more active in the forums but I probably won't because I have a life now bla bla bla okay I'm kidding no I don't but I will have work responsibilities so bla.  :P
 
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The Hobbit, In Brief

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts, TV Dec 14 2012 · 206 views

Honestly, there's so much I could say about the Hobbit, both good and bad.  But I'm really not in the mood to write all about it, so I'll keep it short.
 
It does a good job of keeping the feel from the LotR movies, but it also seems to be lacking some of the majesty.  This may just be because it's the first; after all, Fellowship was arguably the worst of the three LotR movies.  (And it was still pretty good.)  The same here.
 
It's also different because they're including so much.  In LotRs, they had to take out so much stuff just to fit it into the 3 movies, but the Hobbit is one book being spread out over three movies, so they have room to add in new stuff.  On one hand, I can appreciate it and I always love seeing more of Middle Earth.  On the other hand... c'mon, drawing the Hobbit out into three movies?  Now we have to wait even longer for it to conclude!
 
One thing that bugged me; it was shot in 48 FPS (Frames Per Second) instead of the standard 24.  But while others claimed it felt more realistic, it seemed too jumpy and quick in places for me.  Not the plot movement or whatever; the physical movements on the screen just felt off!  Like everything was in fast forward.  It cut down on the enjoyability for me anyway.  :(
 
But all the same... I like the bits of plot they added in from the books.  The characters seem far more real now, especially the dwarves, who I never really connected with in the Book.  And Gandalf war arguably cooler in this movie than the previous LotR ones.  And there was lots of epic scenery of Middle Earth New Zealand to enjoy.  So if you haven't already, go see it.  (But I'm not sure if I would recommend a midnight showing again... waaaaaaaay too crowded.  It would've probably been more fun to go with friends, but since I have none... year, should've just waited a day.)
 
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Translations in Science Fiction

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Dec 07 2012 · 144 views

Okay, this is an odd topic but I was thinking about it and decided to spread said thoughts in a blog entry, so... yeah.
 
So.  Science Fiction.  You know how when humans meet a new alien species, the aliens tend to speak to them in English.  Well, at least in cheap science fiction.  Or if its a Japanese Anime, the aliens know Japanese.  Its a problem that writers have to face when they make these first contacts.  Of course they want some sort of communication between the two parties, but it's always a matter of how they communicate.  Sometimes the aliens just come in speaking the native language and call it good.  Strangely, you never see science fiction where the aliens come in and start speaking in some other human language, like French or Spanish (in an English story, anyway, I'm sure that's exactly what the aliens speak in French and Spanish shows.)  It would be interesting if the aliens came down and started speaking in some obscure earth language that only a few people knew.  Like Maori.  They'd come down and start asking about Tohunga, and we'd correct them and say "The term is now Matoran" and they'd be all confused.
 
Anyway.
 
One solution I've seen used quite a bit is that the aliens learn English (or whatever) after viewing our extensive media.  That's what they did in Transformers, I'm pretty sure it happened at least once on Star Trek, and it happened with the fountain-shaped aliens from that one obscure science fiction story whose plot I remember but not the title or author.  Basically, the aliens were quick studies, and after a couple of hours of watching sitcom reruns (or something) they come back speaking great English and communication starts up right away.  (And then the misunderstandings come in other forms, like "Oh my I didn't know that hitting your kind there would kill them, my bad.")
 
But this seems too simple.  Why?  because it's hard to pick up a language.  I took Spanish for three years in high school, and the only phrases I can really remember are along the lines of greetings and saying "There's a flaming cat in the library."  (Es un gato de fuego en la bibliotecha?)  Even people who are good can't just pick up a new language in a few days by watching some media.  Most of the bilingual people I know said they did best by emerging themselves in the new culture for years.  Either that or they learned multiple languages as kids.  (That's because our brains are hardwired to learn languages when we're young, but not so much when we're older, so if we really want to learn new languages, we need to do it before we're six.  Hey, I learned this in an Anthropology class, so it must be true!)  To put a long story short: hard to learn new languages.
 
So thus, it is assumed that aliens are quick studies.  Maybe there's some validity behind this.  If they're space traveling people, they can't be complete morons.  And maybe the ones making first contact (intentionally) are especially good at learning new languages, because that really is the best way to start peaceful communications.  But I find it hard to believe that every alien would have the sort of quick-learn capabilities to pick up a new language, and when they claim to do so after watching some TV or other earth transition, I say "cheap plot element."  (And again, why'd they single out English media; I'm sure there are lots of Spanish channels out there too, so why don't they speak in some sort of odd hybrid language that includes a bit of every earth language?)
 
Another solution I've seen used is telepathy.  I'm sure there are other examples of its usage, but I'll just jump straight to my source: Animorphs.  The books actually did a good job of including the alien language barrier.  Sure, all the Yeerks know English, but hey they get that from investing humans and learning it from them, so yeah explained.  But how do Andalites and other species communicate so well via thoughtspeak?  I get the general idea; your basic thoughts get passed along without really needing words.  But the Animorphs were very articulate in their thoughtspeak, and at least in one case Ax thoughtspoke with another alien in a language different than English.  (It was like Galard, the international language between aliens.)  So sometimes thoughtspeak seemed stretched when they made new encounters with aliens not familiar with earth.  (Now when they were thoughtspeaking amongst themselves, not a problem using words, so whatever.)
 
But really, science fiction likes to find simple and fast ways around the communication barrier.  After all, it would make for a lame story if both sides were completely unable to communicate, and the readers don't want to spend years as the characters immerse themselves in the new culture and slowly get a handle on the new language.  (And learn the nouns, verb, grammar... assuming that alien languages follow the same structure as earth languages.  Which some Anthropologist linguists might argue for, cause there's apparently a similar pattern to all languages anyway.)  And its not like this is completely unfamiliar territory; explorers in the Americas had to find ways to communicate with the natives, and although they didn't understand each others languages, they were still able to communicate.  ("Here, have some pretty beads and give me all your gold.  Oh, and have some germs too, so they'll wipe out your entire civilization for us.") Really, extraterrestrial first encounters are just futuristic replicas of the good ol' days of exploration, just with simpler means of translations.  Lewis and Clark, for example, had to go through like four or five translators to communicate with the natives they came across.  Wouldn't it have just been better if the natives had come across some English media floating in the river ahead of the explorers and learned the language before Lewis and Clark even showed up?  (Speaking of which, why aren't there more spreads of disease in this alien first encounters?  Yeah, I know that was a major plot point for War of the Worlds, and it happened at least once in Animorphs, but there's not a lot of accidental flu spreading amongst new alien species.  Hmm.)
 
Then again, some works of science fiction don't even bother trying to find a logical explanation.  Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy just hands all the grunt work to the Babel Fish and calls it good.  Dr. Who just explains it away as something the Tardis is responsible for.  (Or is it the Doctor himself?  I dunno, I'm still only midway through season two of the current series.)  These are examples of work that just say "Screw it, we're ignoring this problem."  (I would say both are works of parody against science fiction, because seriously how can people take Dr. Who seriously?  But to be fair, HHGttG is some groundbreaking fiction, and it seems disgraceful to call it just a parody.)  (Ha, see what I did there?)
 
And if you're all TL/DR, just go for the last paragraph, that's the best joke / troll of the entire entry.  :P
 
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Horizon Express

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Nov 14 2012 · 172 views

I am not a train person. I cannot afford the set. I don't have the money for it, I don't have the room for it, and I don't even have any train tracks for it to run on. Me and Lego trains are not meant to be.

Mostly I just wanted to see how they managed to build those SNOT arrows on the side!!

Finally found a review where they took pictures of the building process, and I can safely say that "my mind = blown" when it comes to that technique. So awesome. Now I have to steal it. :evilgrin:

Oh yeah, and new staffie masks and such, figured that out too.

Also looking for lodging for this spring. Anybody know of a cheap apartment in Dallas?

:music:


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Falling of Skies

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Nov 11 2012 · 132 views

I wouldn't say I'm a huge Bond fan, but I went with my family to see the latest installment tonight.

I have a feeling I'll be against the grain on this one, but I didn't think it was a great Bond movie. Okay, it was still a decent movie, but for the most part it didn't have the "Bond" feel to it. Quantum of Solace did, and so did Casino Royal (even tho I didn't like that one very much.) But while this movie did have some great callbacks to the theme and cool action sequences, overall it felt a little underwhelming.

Spoiler


Granted, now I have to go back and watch older James Bond movies. We watched a couple of the Connery ones two weeks ago, and I've seen the Brosnan ones quite a lot, but I guess there are others out there too...

:music:


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BTW, Voted

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts, News Oct 22 2012 · 136 views

Actually filled out my ballot last Friday, but got it put in the mail today.

And even tho I watched the full debate, my mind was already made up. (And having watch it, it just made me more determined to vote my way.)

That way being Obama. Also went generally Democrat for the state positions too. Especially hoping to replace my Republican Representative, whom I sent a letter to a year ago and got a response that boiled down to "thanks for contacting me, here is why I'm doing the exact opposite."

I would love to discuss political views because I can't believe how some people out there thing, but alas this is BZPower and it's against the rules because we don't want the equivalent of a food fight with boiling sauce being thrown around. (I think that's a lovely analogy for heated discussions on BZPower. :P )

And as such, entry locked! Make sure to go out and vote!

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Bohrok Pens

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Oct 21 2012 · 267 views

Oh god I'm doing it again...

Okay, anybody ever get one of those Bohrok pens from 02? I guess they're like the Toa pens, but they have these smaller Bohrok faceplate elements... and maybe a krana bead?

See, these might be useful pieces for building minifig-scale Bohrok. (Yeah, crazy idea, I know.) But there are so few images of them on the web, and I can't see the kind of detail for how they'd work. So if somebody has ever owned one, could they say what kind of unique pieces the pens includes, and how they connect (are they a clip or an actual bead? Would they be able to connect to standard studs?) Also, if you have one, interesting in selling? :P

But yeah, seriously, any details on these would be nice. Would like to know if they're going to work before I make a potential purchase, rather than buying one and realizing it's useless.

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Is that the light at the far end of the tunnel, or just the train.
~ Owl City

Lisztomania, think less but see it grow. Like a riot, like a riot, Oh.
~ Phoenix

I took a sip of something poison but I'll hold on tight.
~ Foster the People

Birds sing for you, you can make this blue sky blush
~ Oh Land

On the other side of the street I knew, stood a girl that looked like you.
I guess that's Déjà vu, but I thought this can't be true
~ Train

But even the sun sets in paradise
~ Maroon 5

Crazy how that shipwreck meant my ship was coming in
~ Train (Again?)

So make now your ally, and leap before you look
~ Nothing's Carved In Stone

I'm just too much a coward to admit when I'm in need.
~ Passion Pit

Just believe in far away, ikiru tame ni sore wa
~ Song Rider

Everything that drowns me makes me want to fly.
~ One Republic

I live my life in shackles, but I'm borderline-free.
~ Tove Styrke

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