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April 8th, 2018

12:43 am - Cutting-Edge 8-Bit Graphics!
Last Saturday morning: Oh, what the hell, Niantic!? It's not even April Fools' Day yet!

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March 10th, 2018

11:54 pm - I Wonder About the Choices I Have Made
There were people there, as I knew there would be. It was a cold and dreary day, and a light rain had started to fall. As I stepped onto the grass, just a few drops of water splashed on the part of my shoes that isn't waterproof, and I frowned slightly—I had hoped to stay dry for a bit longer. Not for the first time, I wonder about the choices I've made that led me to this.

Still, there were people present. That was good, I thought. "Should we split up?" somebody asked.

"Yeah, probably," I said. "I am sure more people will show up."

We soon divided into smaller group, and banter followed. What were the best counters for Mewtwo? How difficult it is to capture one? "Who is QuestingWaffles?" a fellow player asked. I raised my hand. "That's a great name," he said.

The raid itself was a bit rough. It's hard to counter a Mewtwo with Focus Blast, as it turned out. Still, our most anxious moment was when a guy showed up when we were just about done. "Oh, he's with me," said a woman to my left who had arrived late herself (we restarted to accommodate her). "He's just here for support." A few minutes later we would all end up with a new Mewtwo.

Seriously, I make the best choices.

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January 22nd, 2018

12:21 am - Next Time, Don't Make that Pit Stop in Santa Barbara
During the drive up to Solvang on New Year's Eve, I stopped by Santa Barbara for a late lunch. Now, Santa Barbara has a special place in my heart—I did attend UCSB back in the day, after all. But in retrospect, making this stop was a mistake. Solvang is less than an hour away from Santa Barbara, so I was already close to my destination. Why not just stick it out for another 45 minutes or so?

Wait, I bet you're wondering—why I am writing about this? This isn't remotely interesting! And you're absolutely right. I promise this will lead to something slightly more interesting. Bear with me.

So...Pokémon Go has this invite-only EX raid system. Let's just say it's a...um, slightly controversial system. Basically, there are three major complaints:

1. The EX raid passes are somewhat randomly distributed among all raiders. Even though players who have completed more gym raids should have a higher chance of receiving an EX raid pass, some players who have completed hundreds of gym raids are still waiting on their first EX invite. In theory, this can be easily fixed if there is another way of acquiring an EX raid pass. Something along the line of "Complete X number of gym raids to secure an EX invite" might be one way of doing it. But so far, Niantic seems uninterested in changing the system. /shrug

2. You can't choose the time of the EX raid. Yeah, this one annoys me to no end. You know, some people have jobs and stuff, and not everyone is going to be able to participate in a raid that takes place in the middle of the week. The EX raid system is supposed to take the popular raid times into account, yet I remain unconvinced that a lot of people are doing gym raids on Tuesday mornings. Call it a hunch.

3. Not only are you not able to pick the time, you can't pick the place, either. But at least you have some control over this. You will only receive an invite to a gym where you've recently completed a raid. And so far, all EX raids have either taken place in public places (parks, mostly) or sponsored locations (Starbucks or Sprint stores). So it is possible to plan for this to some extent. Still, there is always a chance the EX raid pass—should you be lucky enough to receive one in the first place—will direct you to an inconvenient location. Like Santa Barbara on a Tuesday morning, for instance.

So...yeah. Next time, I won't make that pit stop in Santa Barbara on my way up to Solvang. And if I do, I won't stop by a Starbucks to take part in a stupid Wailmer raid just so my free daily raid pass doesn't go to waste. Lesson learned.

While relating my tale of woe to some fellow players in one of the many recent Kyogre raids, I got a surprising response. "And you didn't go?" said somebody in the crowd with something akin to curiosity. I simply shook my head sheepishly.

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July 15th, 2017

01:50 am - Pokémon Go, One Year Later
This rather amusing article about Pokémon Go's anniversary sums up my feelings about the game pretty well.

A few comments:

I have never dropped my phone while trying to catch a wild Venusaur—then again, I've never even seen a Venusaur in the wild.

Leaving your significant other in a sandstorm to catch a Mareep is the correct response. We all have to make sacrifices sometimes. And when we are talking about a sheep pokémon with a lightbulb for a tail, you do whatever it is you have to do.

On the other hand, I would never take an Uber to catch a Miltank. I would, however, rush out of the door after midnight to catch a Larvitar a half mile away. Look, Larvitars are rarer and way cuter. There is no comparison.

I don't regret any of this.

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December 24th, 2016

01:45 pm - Magic
Joe Posnanski writes about baseball, mostly. He also writes about magic and plenty of other things. (He would describe a knuckleball dancing and weaving its way past friends and foes alike as magic. Witchcraft, even.)

And I wonder if he is a wizard of some sort as well. How else can mere words move me so? Witchcraft, that's the only explanation.

Warm wishes to everyone reading this. Happy holidays~

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June 7th, 2016

11:54 pm - I Voted Today...
(And I don't feel good about it...)

Hi. This is awkward. I haven't put up a new post in months.

Earlier in the evening, I hastily ended a conversation at work because I wanted to make it to the polling station before the poll closes at 8PM. All that just so that I could vote for a candidate who isn't going to win his party's nomination no matter what. And not for the first time, I felt bad about participating in the "democratic process."

Not because I don't feel I am making a difference, mind you. I know I am not making a difference, and that's fine by me. It's actually the opposite. I have never felt prepared going into an election. I have never studied all the candidates in detail. I am so uninformed, it might be better if I don't vote at all. What if I end up casting a vote that ends up mattering? That might be very bad.

Maybe this is just silly. Maybe the point of democracy is that everyone gets to participate, even if you're not terribly informed. But why would that be a good thing? What's the point of showing up just to...show up?

I thanked those who worked at the polling station after I was done. (It was well past 8PM by then.) An old lady there said to me: "Well, we're glad you voted."

Nice sentiment. I wish I share the same opinion.

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January 27th, 2016

04:39 am - The Problem with Crystals
(Originally, while this entry was, um, incubating in my head, it was supposed to be about a couple of specific plot points in Rhapsodies of Vana'diel. But eventually this turned into something far less specific. In short, yes, this entry does contain some mild spoilers from some of the older expansions, but rest assured there isn't anything on the level of "the Invasion of Normandy was a resounding success!" here.)

It took me a while, but I finally figured out why I am not fully engaged in the Rhapsodies of Vana'diel storyline. I am not engaged in the storyline because I don't understand it, and I don't understand it because I don't care enough to understand it. To explain why this is so, allow me to go back a few expansions. Let's return to Chains of Promathia.

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November 11th, 2015

11:59 pm - Procrastinator
 photo Blueblade_zpsyuu2zgyh.jpg

Nearly 5 months between entries...I have been quite the procrastinator. Since today is apparently FINAL FANTASY XI day or something (11/11), it seems as good a day as any to get back to this.

5 months is a long time, of course. Except that 5 months is not terribly long compared to my other, um, examples. After repeatedly failing to start the second chapter of Rhapsodies of Vana'diel, I finally recognized my error. I never did visit Blueblade Fell after receiving my Rajas way back when, and apparently you have to complete The Chains Fall Free before you can start the second chapter. Oops.

Having had this journal since 2004 means that I have a pretty good idea how long I've been putting that off. Here is the entry from, um, more than 8 years ago. My favorite line from that entry is this:

I look forward to seeing Prishe at the Blueblade Fell.

Clearly, what I meant was "I look forward to seeing Prishe at the Blueblade Fell more than 8 years later." That must be it. Yeah.

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June 19th, 2015

11:36 pm - Etteh's Kikoku!
 photo Etteh_zpstr9r0bf4.jpg
Etteh, posing with her Kikoku.

I feel like I contributed both quite a bit *and* not at all to Etteh's Kikoku. Quite a bit, because I was the one who secured that 3000 byne bill loan this time around. Not at all, because providing that loan didn't really require much effort at all—I already had the currency on hand. The only thing I really had to do was to show up. And show up I did.

The surprising thing about Kikoku is that it is not among the best katana in today's Vana'diel. It seems that many of the relic weapons need a bit of a boost to really compete with the plethora of ilevel 119 options out there, and that doesn't make too much sense considering the time investment of a relic. Perhaps we will see relic+1s somewhere down the line?
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June 1st, 2015

01:39 am - Rhapsodies of Vana'diel
Or, FFXI on Easy Mode?Collapse )

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