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Team J.A.F.



Posted by xccj , in News Nov 28 2012 · 271 views

Am I trying to learn Actionscript just so I can recreate MNOLG-style Flash games?


(Figured out how to create a moving target that has different affects depending on when you click it, and also how to scroll the background. PROGRESS!)



Ranger Risk

Posted by xccj , in News Nov 27 2012 · 358 views

I met up with my old Park Ranger bosses tonight and played a couple of games of risk.

Short story: I lost. First time minorly, second time dreadfully.

Long Story: We did two games. For the first game, I took Africa, and fought valiantly over Egypt and the Middle East. But then the fighting in the Americas was decided, and they came storming in from Brazil and wiped me out. Then that guy basically had all the power, the rest of us were fairly spread thin, so we called it a game

The second time, I lost half my countries in the first round, before it was even my turn to play! But I held about half of Asia, and made an alliance with the guy in control of the other half that we wouldn't attack each other. We were playing by the rules where when you claim a territory during a turn, you get a country card, and then you can turn them in for more troops later. Well, I slowly made my way across Asia and into Europe, collecting country cards, while there was lots of fighting in Africa and the Americas. Eventually, I finally got ten cards, which would give me a maximum of 30 extra troops! But alas, before I could cash in, one player swept the board with me, knocking me down to two countries before he ran out of armies. Then the next player, the guy who won the first round, finished me off completely and took all ten of my cards. The others had no hope to defeat him, so the game was called in his favor yet again.

I will return for revenge. I need a new strategy. Africa gets fought over too much. Australia is usually grabbed early on, but the Americas are a good option to take. Also, cashing in on the cards I have before everybody else becomes aware of my plan... that was my failing tonight!



Improved Toa Figs

Posted by xccj , in MOCs Nov 25 2012 · 1,325 views

Search back through my blog, you're probably find plenty of entries where I talked about my plans to make Toa minifigures.

Here's the basic idea. In 2001, they released Lego pens that came with mini Toa masks. It's possible to attach the masks (via a bead) to the top of a standard minifig torso. It's a little bulky, but it works.

However, while I was able to get the colors of the minifig parts relatively right, the plain torsos looked a bit off. So I wanted to fix that.

So I made a deal with Nuju Metru, who has famously created custom decal torsos for his LotR minifigs. I designed a Toa torso decal, send him the torsos, and he applied them for me! (It was a fair trade, since I gave him some other rare Collectible Minifig parts that he wanted.)

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So here's Gali, Lewa, and Onua. Sadly, those are the only pen masks I own. Swert owns all six, and I bought Gali off him and then borrowed Tahu, Kopaka, and Pohatu to make a fig scene for BricksCascade, but that was before I got the torsos decal-ed.

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I had Nuju make some torsos for Tahu, Kopaka, and Pohatu anyway, just in case I can get ahold of their pen masks in the future. Overall, Tahu, Gali, Lewa, and Pohatu's colors are a bit off, and Onua's turned out a little too dark. However, Kopaka's looks excelent, and I can't wait to use it on a fig! (And I can't really complain; Nuju warned me that bright colors like these don't always turn out well.)

And since he was making torso decals, I had another project for him. :evilgrin:

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Basically, I had this super-hero team kinda-based on minifig designs. I've had it around for a while, and these guys have even worked their way into my blog before. I've made real minifigs out of them before, but none with my star-themed torso design. So I had Nuju make custom torsos!!

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Oh man, these turned out really cool! I'm so excited to see these minifigs IRL. The one problem with the green fig is that I used a cheap Pharoah's Quest Battle Pack mummy torso, which is the kind made in China. As such, the arm and neck connections turned out too loose. But if I just keep him on display, it shouldn't be a problem.

So yes, this is basically showing off these cool new figs that I have, and showing why Nuju Metru deserves the Side Block in my blog. ;) (And Aaron, I hope you make good use out of the minifig parts I sent you!)



Zetsuen no Tempest

Posted by xccj , in TV Nov 24 2012 · 331 views

Hey another anime entry from a guy who's getting into this but is still a newby to the whole American fanbase culture. Take it as you like, here are my thoughts.

If you don't trust the future

Continue with that force

What is left to learn now

So do it

And when you look there's someone

That's running by my side

Spirit inspiration

No I can't lose

So the latest Anime that I started following is Zetsuen no Tempest. The anime itself is intriguing. I like the basic plot, although the magic side is a little odd. The characters are great tho, and at the very least the fights in the first couple of episodes were awesome.

But I also like the intro song. What caught me off guard was that it's in ENGLISH! Craziness! (I assume its not just an english dub, cause they usually don't do that for the songs, and I did some searching and the English version was all I found. And yes, I do prefer subtitles over dubs.) At first it seemed a little off because it doesn't quite have the flow of an english song, but the beat is catchy enough that I found it and added it to my song collection.

I've actually done this with a few other anime songs, so I'm slowly building up a playlist where I don't actually understand all the lyrics. But hey the tunes are catchy enough that I can enjoy them. Funnily enough, I started doing this a couple of weeks before I first heard Gangnam Style on the radio, and although he's not Japanese, I still find similarities to enjoying a song that has Asian-language lyrics.

And I've been trying to follow some other Animes. One of my favorites is still Sword Art Online, and I like the plot of the second half of the season. I have also enjoyed Magi, where the story is very well done, and Robotics; Notes, which started out kind of tame but now has this awesome mystery / conspiracy tone to it.

I've also been following HTTYD and Ninjago, which have been fun. HTTYD is fairly enjoyable even if it is aimed at a younger audience, and still makes me laugh. (Although the music isn't as epic as the movie's.) I'm sad Ninjago ended, but it was a fairly good ending that wrapped up the series pretty well. Not sure if I'll be as into Chima, but I'll give it a chance. And for non-animated TV, I'm only following Arrow and Grimm, which are okay but I think there aren't any new episodes coming out soon.

I'd say suggest some anime I should look into, but... well, I have plenty for now. Right now, I'm watching about one twenty minute episode per night from various series, so that works with my sorta-busy schedule. But I'll be needing more stuff to watch come December when I get to recover from a surgery, so I'll need good material to watch then. (Currently planning to rewatch LotR, Indiana Jones, BttF, PotC, and any other good trilogies we happen to own.) ;)



Looking For Apartments

Posted by xccj , in News Nov 21 2012 · 276 views

Gosh, it sure is expensive to find a place to stay for three months in Dallas. So many factors to worry about. How close is it to my work? How much is rent? Is it furnished? No, okay, then where can I rent stuff like a bed? IT COST THAT MUCH! Screw it, I'll sleep on a cot. What's the Internet situation like? Is it in a good neighborhood? What stores are within walking distance? If I bring my car, where can I park it?

But most importantly.

What's its proximity to the closest Lego store? :P

(It turns out, for some of the properties, I'd be driving past a Lego store on my way to work!)

Anyway, it's crazy how pricey stuff is, but hey it's a city so it's to be expected. Still, sounds like a majority of the paycheck will go towards rent. Darn responsibilities, totally ruining adult life! :P



Sword Fight Story

Posted by xccj , in Stories, News Nov 20 2012 · 371 views

I haven't blogged in a while, which is sad because that's the bulk of my BZP activity nowadays. My life is just that dull right now, and I have lots of school stuff to work on.

But anyway, November is the month of writing, according to NaNo. I didn't do it this year, but I did get 50,000+ words in 30 days done this summer. And hey why not take an excerpt from one that!


Not gonna post the whole thing, but here's the premise. The protagonist has snuck onto an enemy base, and he has a sword that he can summon to his hands. Before he can progress to the computer room, he gets cornered by ten guys with swords. Battle ensues!

This is actually an older story that I'm rewriting. And I remember for this particular sequence, I just wrote "and there was a terrible sword fight" and left it at that. This time, I actually tried to include more action details into the fight. Let me know how I did!


“Third floor,” I said to myself, remembering the location of the control room. I pushed through a large hallway looking for a stairwell, but as I turned a corner, I froze. I could see the stairs, but now there were five men standing between me and them. The men were armed, but this time not with laser guns. This time, they were wielding swords.

“This ends here, rebel,” one of the men said. I heard more footsteps behind me, and I spun around, drawing my laser gun as I did so. Five more men had blocked me in, and they were also holding onto swords. The lead solder pressed forward and swung his blade even as I lifted my gun. He slashed my hand, forcing me to drop my weapon. I stepped back, narrowing my eyes. Knocking a gun out of an opponent’s hands with a blade was my trick!

“You’re mine,” the man said, and he stabbed his blade forward. But I sidestepped and summoned my own Green Sword. Instead of piercing my flesh, his blade slid across my own. I twisted my sword and we locked blade. As I forced his sword to the side, I kicked up with my left foot and caught him in the leg, breaking his balance. He stumbled, and I broke his grasp on his weapon and knocked up upward in the air. While he was stunned, I swung my free hand and punched him directly in the face. He fell back, and I reached up with my other hand and caught his sword in midair before it hit the ground.

I pointed my two blades at the man. “You still think you’re going to win this fight?” I asked.

But I had more to deal with. The other nine men in the room were still armed, and they pressed forward. I swung my Green Sword and struck the first man with the flat of my blade, knocking him out. And then I utilized both my swords to parry the oncoming steel from my attackers.

It was dangerous for all nine men to attack me at once, but two could easily charge me from each side, which meant that I had to deal with up to four opponents at once. And unfortunately, these men were not novices when it came to the art of fencing. Luckily, I had lots of skill with a blade, and I now had two at my disposal. I was able to stand my ground and fight them back, but just barely, and it was taking all I had to do so.

My blades sliced through the air as I swung them to parry incoming blows. Meanwhile, I was forced to dodge around the attacks that I couldn’t block, which meant that I was sidestepping, ducking, and leaning to the side even as my swords clashed with those of my opponents. They weren’t able to land any deadly blows, but their blades still managed to cut into my arms and legs, leaving thin cuts that began to bleed. I was barely able to defend myself, and I couldn’t last forever against such an onslaught. I needed to go on the offensive.

One man attempted to stab me, but I dodged to the side and shoved him down. This gave me an opening to rush into, and the three swordsmen behind me slashed at empty air as I made my move. One man was in range and he charged forward. I blocked his sword with one blade, but then I swung my second one and pierced his side. He yelped out as I roughly kicked him, and he went down.

Two swordsmen charged me, hoping to push me up against the wall. But I charged towards it, jumped, and kicked off it, and turned my momentum into a thrust towards the two men. They dodged to the side and I raced between them. They turned to face me, but I turned faster. I sliced the back of one of the man’s knees, and he crashed to the ground in pain, unable to stand. The other man blocked my blade, but he was now on the defensive. Before the others could join him, I pressed on the attack, pushing him against the wall. He did a wide swing with his blade, but I was able to strike his hand and knock his sword away. More men advanced from behind, so I jumped forward and kicked off his stomach as I turned to face his comrades. He collapsed, having endured too much pain, and I clashed with the next men.

The swordsmen were very skilled, but they lacked my speed and agility. Instead of fighting them face on, where they had the advantage, I circled around them, using the walls to my advantage. My quick jumps kept them from ganging up on me, and so I had an easier time defending against their blades. But I was also going on the attack, and slicing them whenever I could. I did not hold back; I issued long slashes in painful areas that would quickly disable them, and if some of them weren’t treated, they would even prove fatal. I couldn’t just use the flat of my blade to strike them; they were attacking me ruthlessly, and I couldn’t do anything less if I wanted to survive.

I reduced their numbers down to three, and I locked blades with the largest fighter. I drew back, hoping to stab at him with my borrowed sword blade. But the other men suddenly caught me from behind, and I had to do a hasty jump to avoid getting skewered. This forced me off balance, and I instinctively stabbed my borrowed blade into the ground to offer stability. Unfortunately, this led to the blade snapping in hand, and I fell to my knees. As I got up, I realized I was now down to one sword and a broken hilt.

The large fighter grinned and started to advance on me, thinking that he now had an advantage since my other sword was out of commission. As I stepped forward and used my Green Sword to parry his blade, I thrust the damaged hilt into his exposed shoulder. He howled out in grief, and I kicked him backwards.

The last two men ignored the anguish of their comrade and charged at me, thrusting their swords quickly. I parried with my Green Sword, but my reflexes were slowing. My energy was running out; my muscled aches, my breathing was heavy, and sweat was dripping down my face. But the last two men still had energy to spare, and they pressed down on me, hoping to finally bring me down.

I locked blades with one of them, and the two of us strained as we tried to break the other’s strength. Meanwhile, the second man stepped back and prepared for a side attack, which I couldn’t defend against. I drew back on my sword, and dodged around the second man’s blade. But the first man now had a clear shot, and he sliced down my right arm. I fell backwards with a cry, and my sword arm started to go limp. The two men grinned and advanced.

Pain seared through me, but I wasn’t finished yet. I reached over with my left hand and gripped my sword’s hilt. Then, using both hands, I swung my sword outward. Only this time, I poured energy into my Green Sword, and it began to glow. It came into contact with my opponent’s swords, but they were no match for it. Their blades disintegrated in the energy outburst, and the two men were thrown backwards into the wall and knocked unconscious.

I collapsed to the ground, with my arm and various cuts bleeding out. I was nearly exhausted, but I was alive, and the ten swordsmen were down. Gingerly, I reached into my pocket and took out a healing ointment that I had brought along, and quickly applied it to my worst cuts. It didn’t take care of the pain, but it lessened down the bleeding. After a minute, I started to regain feeling in my right arm again. It would need proper care later, but for now I’d survive.

The sword fight was over. But I could hear more soldiers running towards the building. I needed to get moving and find the control room, and I needed to do it fast before any of them caught up with me.



Horizon Express

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Nov 14 2012 · 347 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?



Falling of Skies

Posted by xccj , in Thoughts Nov 11 2012 · 235 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.


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...



Got It!

Posted by xccj , in News Nov 06 2012 · 746 views




Compare: Dallas vs Portland

Posted by xccj , in News Nov 06 2012 · 300 views

Okay, so I'm probably pretty biased because I love the Pacific Northwest a lot and I didn't really spend a whole lot of time in Dallas this weekend or get to see a whole lot of it, but when has this blog been about anything but my rambling thoughts? :D


I left Portland in rain, and Dallas was pleasant AT NIGHT. Winter weather down there is nice.

Winner: Dallas. (This one will totally change come summer, I expect)


Portland has sidewalks, bike lanes, bike trails, bike lanes on bike trails, ext. Dallas seemed to only have sidewalks every other block. (Or the area around Love Field Airport anyway) I'm not sure it would be a good place to commute by bike. In Portland, the news is always full of cyclist getting hit by cars. I'd guess in Dallas that the cars would just hit the bikes and nobody would care.

Winner: Portland

Light Rail

Portland's TriMet system is pretty awesome. There's also the air tram at OHSU which I still need to ride. Meanwhile, Dallas has the DART light rail system. I didn't actually ride it, but I got to see some of the infrastructure and it looks pretty cool.

Winner: Tie


When we flew into Dallas (at night) I could see flat land as far as the eye could reach, with lots of lights and a few well-lit buildings. Kinda cool. (Oh, and lakes... Texas has lakes, who knew?) But when I flew back into Portland, although there were lots of clouds low to the ground, I got to see excelent views of all the mountains: Helens, Adams, Rainier, and even Baker and other mountains that I expect were on the Canadian border. (I can see Canada from... my airplane window when its very high in the air.) And although I didn't get as good a look, the other side of the plane had views of all the Oregon mountains. Epic.

Winner: Portland. (And that was just view flying in.)


Everything in Dallas seem to have two titles: one in English and one in Spanish. Not just the airport; everywhere. Portland does not do that.

Winner: Dallas, unless you can't read Spanish or English.

Companies that are Willing to Fly Me out Just for an Interview

Winner: Dallas

Like, seriously, didn't land any interviews in Portland this summer. Sure, I was looking for a position that people didn't want (3 month temp position for a college student) but still got nothing. I am very grateful that the people at Southwest Airlines invited me to Love Field for an interview. It would be a very awesome place to work, and I was surprised (and delighted) to learn that the said position is actually similiar to stuff I do as a reporter on BZP. Just with less AFOL jokes. :) I'm eagerly waiting to hear back from them about the position!


Didn't try any in Dallas, but I saw at least two people taking boxes of VooDoo doughnuts with them into the Portland Airport.

Winner: Portland. :P

End of my ramblings for tonight. Now have to get caught up to school again. I was gone for like 2 days! So much has happened and there's so much video editing to catch up on. :happydance:


November 2012


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Blog Subtitles

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

Silver Lake, Mercury Mining, This Mistake, No Silver Lining.
~ Alkaline Trio


Ha Ha

You scrolled to the bottom.

I now control your mind.