smb814: (KH2 Mickey Wave)
Happy New Year to everyone! Personally, I'm one of those people who was eagerly awaiting the end of 2009, which was one of the most rotten years I can remember all the way around, so today couldn't come fast enough. Here's hoping this will be a better year for everyone!

Nothing really major going on, just briefly updating since it's been about a month since I last did. So, here we go.

1. Work. I still have a job, thank goodness. The university is still having major financial problems, so it's possible they'll have to go around later and do another round of job cuts, but at least for now, I'm still employed. Of course, considering how busy I was the last few weeks at work (seriously, I can't believe how ridiculously busy I was), I'm not sure how they could cut my position, but, well, that depends on who's making the cuts and how my job looks on paper. So we'll see. I do have to admit to really, really liking having off of work all this week, even if I've been So. Very. Busy. the entire time.

2. Writing. The sequel to "Mental Holiday" is written. Yay! Now I'm just finishing up some massive revisions to it and will hopefully be posting it within the next week or two. Assuming I can decide on a title for it, of course; I hate being torn between two different titles. And then I'll tackle the next story in the series, and then the next (and then the next, and the next, etc.), and once that series is done, I will FINALLY get back to work on Frozen Flame! I will, and you guys can hold me to that!

3. Video games. For the record, Tales of Vesperia is awesome. And incredibly fun. All of the Tales games are. I just wish I had more time to play it right now. I'm also hoping to set up the Wii so my family can play some Toy Story Mania before the end of the weekend. And I'm trying to decide which PSP or Nintendo DS game to play next...ugh, too many options. Anyone have any recommendations for a graphic adventure game (Hotel Dusk, Lux Pain, Theresia, etc.) or an RPG (Dragon Quest IV/V, The World Ends With You, Final Fantasy: Crisis Core, Kingdom Hearts 358/2, Tales of Phantasia/Eternia, etc.) I should try next? My options definitely aren't limited to just those.

4. TV. CHUCK STARTS SOON!!! Ahem, sorry about that, but that's definitely the one I'm looking forward to most right now, especially after how last season ended. Chuck 2.0! Supernatural, Lost, and NCIS will be back soon, too! I'm also quite enjoying Sanctuary, and Leverage is great fun, too. Oh, and I'm hooked on The Office, because Jim/Pam is one of the most awesome pairings I've ever seen...anyone else on my f-list watch that one? Castle is next on my list of shows to watch, but I think I'll wait to get started with that one during the summer. With all the other TV on this spring, I just don't have time to watch everything.

5. Japanese. Wow, talk about a confusing language at times. But my progress is still, while slow, also steady, and I keep reading and studying in bits and pieces, and I'm creating kanji and vocab flash cards on Anki, and listening to Japanese music has made a world of difference in my ability to hear the language spoken. How's it coming for you, [ profile] lifelongfling? :)

6. I'm...not sure about a 6 right now. I'm sure there's more I could ramble about, but it's time for breakfast and I really want to eat.

Oh, and major (((hugs))) to everyone on my f-list for their kind words on my last post. After a month, my mom seems to be doing all right with the whole thing -- not great, but all right. All we can do is take lessons out of it and try to keep ourselves as healthy as possible.

I'm making it a resolution to update my LJ more often this year, so hopefully there won't be more of those 6-month hiatus gaps. I hope everyone has a great New Years! :)


Dec. 1st, 2009 07:13 am
smb814: (FFX Cactuar WTF)
My mom's best friend (a close family friend and someone I've known my entire life) was sick for the past, oh, week and a half. Nausea, couldn't breathe, extremely weak. She thought it was the flu of some kind. She'd never been terribly healthy -- didn't exercise, didn't eat right, didn't watch her weight -- so it wasn't too much of a surprise that she couldn't fight it off herself very quickly.

Last night we get a call from her son that they rushed her to the hospital because she was having an especially hard time breathing (after wasting two hours trying to convince her to go to the hospital -- there's a time for stubbornness, and there isn't, and when you can't breathe is one of them). They found out that she had four blood clots in her lungs. My mom thinks they probably broke free from somewhere in her legs -- several years ago, she'd suffered a pretty bad fall, and her legs had bothered her ever since. Last I had heard, she'd been doing fine.

And then this morning I find out she died last night.

I'm in shock. And so is my mom, obviously, far more than I am since she's known her for over 45 years. They've worked together for the vast majority of those years. And now she has to go in to work today, try to hold herself together, and tell everyone there what's happened. The reality and all its implications haven't even sunk in yet.

I wish I knew what to do, but I'm not sure I can do anything at this point.

...OMG. Life comes at you fast sometimes, doesn't it? Talk about incentive to do everything you possibly can to stay healthy. And to know when a hospital is necessary and when not to be stubborn about going to one.

Woo hoo!

Nov. 19th, 2009 07:07 pm
smb814: (Disney Green Men)
Did all my fellow Chicago Stargate folks notice who was just added for next year's convention?

David Hewlett!

'Bout freaking time! Now we just need Claudia Black, Lexa Doig, and maybe a few others like JR Bourne, Mitch Pileggi, Colin Cunningham, or Kavan Smith to show up and my Stargate convention "collection" will be as close to complete as I'll probably ever feel compelled for it to be. :D (Well, barring Richard Dean Anderson magically showing up at one of these, but there's no way I'm holding my breath for THAT to happen. Or my falling madly in love with Stargate Universe and wanting to meet all of those actors, but so far I haven't even had a chance to watch it so I have no idea if that's ever going to happen or not.)

Just thought I'd share for those who hadn't heard that yet. :)
smb814: (SG1 Daniel Not Happy Face)
You know what? Society, the economy, thoughtless people, arrogant people, greedy can all bite me. I'm getting pretty darn close to running away somewhere, burying my face in the sand to get away from all the stupidity, and never being seen again. Don't get me wrong, I want to live, but this world we're all currently stuck in is not a world I want to live in. And I don't have any idea what I can do to fix any of it.

They're "seriously considering" layoffs at the university where I work because they need to find $4 million dollars to balance the budget (never mind that we somehow jumped from needing $1.4 million to $4 million in the matter of, like, two months, and they're not explaining how things got to be this bad). Where I stand on the cutting block, I have absolutely no idea. They don't know, either -- or if they do, they're not telling us. We won't know for another month or so, once they make their final recommendations. So now I get to sit here for the next month, worrying about whether or not I'm going to have a job, health care, etc. next year. And knowing them, they probably won't let us know specifics about who's staying and who's leaving until some time after that.

I understand wanting to keep us all informed of where things stand, and I appreciate not being completely blindsided with this. But seriously? At least an entire month of being on edge, having no idea what the future holds for us, and no one giving us any details about where things stand? Couldn't they have found a better way to tell us than this, worrying and scaring people for a whole month? And what's worse is the administration has made it clear that they don't value staff. As far as they're concerned (or at least the impression they give us), we're all expendable. Yeah, that gives me, a staff member, a really terrific, loved feeling. The people I work with directly are great, and I trust them and respect them, but the rest of the university? Not so much...and especially not anymore, ever since this new administration came in.

And then to top it all off this morning, some idiot rear-ends me. I was turning left at a major intersection, and I couldn't go because *gasp* a car was coming the other direction, and he wasn't paying attention so he didn't stop and instead smacked me. Yep, that is exactly what I needed right now. At least no one was hurt and my car is still useable, but still, seriously? Life? Can you please lay off it for awhile?

Needless to say, I'm getting pretty close to losing it because I just don't want to deal with any of this right now. And I know everyone else is dealing with their own crap, too, and mine is pretty minimal compared to what's on everyone else's plates, but it still sucks. Life shouldn't be this way. Society shouldn't be this way. People shouldn't be this way. But greed and power and selfishness have tied everyone else's hands and created the horrible situation we're all currently stuck in. And to be honest, as a student of history, I'm afraid it's gotten to the point of being pretty much unfixable until something catastrophic happens that finally manages to reshift the balance of power. Whether or not the United States could survive something like that at this point without completely imploding, though, is the question. The Roman Empire thought they were too big to fall, too, but look at what happened there. It's all just a giant unknown right now.

Unsurprisingly, my writing muse has completely run off on me, too -- between being on vacation, getting the flu, and now all of this other stuff, Kitty is just nowhere to be found. Right now I could use the distraction of writing more than ever before, something happy to focus on outside of life's crap and get away from the stress for awhile -- and a way to vent and point out just where society has gone wrong in an effort to try to get people to see the stupidity for what it is for themselves -- but the stress itself is a muse-killer. Ugh, what a vicious, nasty cycle. I'm just going to have to force myself to sit and start writing again, whether I feel like it or not, and then hope something clicks at some point. Preferably without leaving a trail of crap in its wake.

...And now I have to try to find my motivation and morale and actually get some work done. Maybe pigs will start flying while I'm at it, too.

Here's hoping everyone else on my f-list is having a better day than I am.


Oct. 28th, 2009 10:06 am
smb814: (TOS Zelos Whine)
So I had a great, relaxing time in Florida last week. Weather was perfect, resort was lovely, Disney is great as usual.

Then, the minute I get home and just start settling back in, I end up with the flu.


I'm heading back to bed now to keep going through my DVDs of "The Office."
smb814: (TOS Sheelos Sky)
And now I'm going to collapse from utter exhaustion.

...Oh, wait. I should clarify because that subject line probably won't be interpreted correctly. "Frozen Flame" isn't finished. Alas. *insert heavy sigh here* I haven't even touched it in, like, a year. I tried picking it up a few weeks ago to get back to work finishing up my first major revision of it, but then I had to put it down again because I didn't have a grasp anymore of what was going on at that particular point in time in the characters' heads -- and effectively revising it without understanding what my characters were thinking would be, well, pretty much impossible. I'm going to have to reread a significant portion of it before I'll be able to do that...and that won't happen for awhile yet, because I've had to conclude that I can only work on one serious writing project at time.

The 'It's Done' refers to my current writing project -- that Tales of Symphonia series I'm working on that follows on to "Mental Holiday." And really, I suppose even that's deceptive since it's not done done. I've just finally finished my first major go-through of it. It's entirely plotted -- and in some cases even (mostly) written. And since I've been working on this go-through of it religiously since last March, I think I have the right to be excited about finishing this phase of it up, thankyouverymuch.

So here are the details for the handful of people on my f-list who might actually be interested in it. It's called the "Whatever Will Be" series (which from this point on I'll be referring to as WWB). It's seven stories long, including "Mental Holiday." Each of the stories is, to some degree, longer than "Mental Holiday" was -- with some, like #7 in the series, ridiculously (i.e. 200,000+ words...ugh) so. (Seriously, will I ever learn to write anything short?!) I have a sneaking suspicion the whole thing is utterly boring, because it doesn't seem to me like anything is really happening in it, the plots are only minimally interesting, and the non-Zelos/Sheena TOS characters only appear in two or three of the stories, but eh, writing it has been oodles of fun and has made me happy, not just to be writing happy people and situations for a change (as opposed to the 'just-kill-me-now' angst of something like "No Regrets" or "Frozen Flame") but to be writing again, period, so there you go. I wrote this monstrosity first and foremost for me (just like "Mental Holiday" was, to try to get Zelos to shut up and get out of my head, loudmouth that he is), and so if anyone else happens to read it and like it, that's just the icing on the cake. It's absolutely awful right now, because, well, it's either plotting notes or a rough draft, and it still needs a ton of work before it will be readable, but I'm just thrilled to be at this point with it. So hurrah for me!

And a brief rundown on the series:

1. Mental Holiday
2. Trust Building 101 (working title)
3. Angel Out of Heaven (working title)
4. Point of No Return (working title) -- I may be changing it to "Crossing the Line" but I haven't officially decided that yet.
5. The Experiment (working title)
6. Guardian Knight -- a.k.a. "Guardian Angel Knight (...In Shining Armor)"...thank you for being unable to do anything the easy way, Zelos *rolls eyes*
7. Worth It

#2, #3, & #4 are plotted in detail. #5 & #6 are plotted in extreme detail, and it shouldn't take too much work to convert them into a rough draft. #7 is a complete rough draft, albeit in the wrong tense (present instead of past). So my next task is to get busy converting my plotting notes for #s 2, 3, & 4 into actual, readable writing.

One thing about the whole writing process that I found to be especially interesting this time around is that I'm no longer handwriting everything first and then typing it up -- I'm actually typing it directly into the computer, which has saved me a ton of time. I've also once again proven that, as bizarre as it may seem, I actually need to write the ending before I go back and write the rest of the story. I can't explain why, but I did it for "Frozen Flame" and now I've done it for this series. I write the ending, then I write everything else leading up to the ending, and then I rewrite the ending.

Do any of you other fic writers on my f-list do this? It just seems to help me stay focused while writing and, you know, actually get the story done by giving me a goal to strive toward -- because every other story I've started writing the past few years (like the "No Regrets" trilogy) has fallen apart when I don't have the ending in mind. I guess I just want to know where I'm going before I write the journey to get there, so I can make sure I incorporate things into the earlier chapters/stories that lead up to the ending, and then, once I get back to that final point, I have to rewrite it completely to incorporate all the unexpected stuff that happened during the "journey" itself. I feel like I'm writing half backwards, half forwards. It's weird. But hey, it seems to be working for me, so I guess I can't complain too much.

And I've had to deem my writing process to My first writing go-through of a story is now plotting notes -- and plotting notes, for me, involve a rough sketch of the entire story, with complete dialogue and a spattering of introspective thoughts and details surrounding the conversations. My first time through I leave off all quotation marks in dialogue, I often identify the speakers by things like (Z) and (S) instead of including things like "he/she says," a good number of the descriptions around the conversations are incomplete sentences and/or simple phrases tacked together, and it's all written in present tense. It's...weird. I then go back through once it's finished and add in all the missing punctuation, and once I actually sit down and write the darn thing, I'll add the "he/she said," complete the sentences, change the verb tenses to past tense, and flesh everything out a little better. After that, I'll really scrutinize and revise everything.

I don't get it, why I'm suddenly writing like this (maybe I find it faster to leave out all the unnecessary stuff and just focus on the dialogue at first?), but I started the 'plotting notes' thing about halfway through my non-Stargate version of "Frozen Flame" and it's evolved into this, and, surprisingly enough, it seems to be working pretty well for me. I guess every writer is different, eh? Although it does make me wonder about other fic writers' writing processes. Anyone care to share their own personal writing process? Does anyone else write even remotely like this? Or am I just that weird?

Anyway, that's where I'm at with it. I would get started actually writing #2 in the series right now already, only I'm heading down to Florida starting next week Thursday on our annual family vacation and so I need to get a hundred-plus other things finished before we leave. I'll hopefully get started working on it when I get back in town on October 25th.

Let's see...any other news since it's been so long since I last updated? The Stargate convention in Chicago was a blast (as always!), the guests were great (yay for Joe Flanigan actually making it here this time!), it was awesome to see everyone again *hugs everyone*, and I was utterly thrilled to learn there that [ profile] lifelongfling is also interested in going to Japan in a few years! Amanda, you'd better be getting back into studying Japanese! :D

The past few months I've also gone crazy delving in the Wonderful World of Japanese Pop Music. Seriously, some of this stuff is awesome and puts the US's typical musical offerings to shame. And it's a great way to enforce some of the Japanese vocabulary I've been slowly picking up. I love KOKIA's music. And Ayako Ikeda. And YUI. And Miz/Mizrock. And Tsukiko Amano. And Kelun. And MiChi. And Kimeru. And Mami Kawada. And Chihiro Onitsuka. And Maiko Fujita. And while I'm not a fan of Ayumi Hamasaki's voice, her music is awesome. I'm hit or miss on Utada Hikaru, BoA, Kotoko, and Hitomi, but I like more of their stuff than I don't. I'm still working my way through music and finding new artists that I love every day, so I'm sure I will eventually add more to that list, but at the moment, they're my favorites. And if anyone happens to have any recommendations of artists/groups to check out, I'm all ears!

As for TV...Supernatural is awesome, but most people on my f-list already know that, so I'll leave it to them to expound on its wonders. NCIS is also off to a great start this year -- but then, I actually like the Tony/Ziva dynamic (romantic or friend, doesn't matter to me) so the first two eps were especially wonderful. I'm giving NCIS-LA a try, and while it's good and I'm enjoying it so far and I can't help thinking it holds a lot of potential, it's no NCIS yet for me. If I had more time, I'd be watching Flashforward, but it'll just have to wait until I have time. Same with Castle and Leverage -- I still need to get caught up on the first seasons of each before I can start watching the second seasons. I DVR'd Stargate Universe last week but haven't watched it yet because I was so intent on finishing writing up WWB that I had to delay it. Season 2 of Sanctuary starts up this Friday, and I haven't decided if I'm going to watch it now or wait until later with it, but I will be watching it at some point.

And that's that. I'm going to try to update more regularly, for those folks on my f-list who actually *may* be interested in my progress on the WWB series, so hopefully I'll be around a little more often once I get back from Florida. I hope everyone on my f-list is doing well! :D
smb814: (TOS Lloyd Zelos Land)
Wow, seven months since my last update? Um...whoops?

I do have an excuse, though: life's been a tad crazy lately. Well, a little more than a 'tad.' More like a huge, honkin', Pacific Ocean-sized crazy. Yes, it's been that nuts.

To that end, I'm reverting to a numbered list because that seemed to work well the last time.

Cut for excessive length. )

And I think that covers the basics of what I've been up to. Hopefully pretty soon I'll be able to start catching up with all the other things I haven't been able to do lately, like email and reading fic and playing games and all that other fun stuff.

(Oh, and bonus points to anyone who can identify where the quote in my icon came from. *g*)

For now, though, I have to run -- almost time to go home! Maybe now I'll be able to post a little more regularly again. I hope everyone on my flist is doing well!
smb814: (TOS Zelos Wall.)
Mental Holiday (3/5) )
smb814: (TOS Zelos Wall)
Mental Holiday (3/5) )
smb814: (TOS Sheena Summon.)
Mental Holiday (2/5) )
smb814: (TOS Sheena Summon)
Mental Holiday (2/5) )
smb814: (TOS Zelos Wall.)
Title: Mental Holiday
Author: smb814
Rating: T
Warnings: Zelos being Zelos (i.e. mild language, adult themes, innuendo, etc.)
Category: Character Study, Friendship/Romance
Pairing: Zelos/Sheena (a.k.a. Sheelos - if you don't like it, don't read it)
Time Frame/Spoilers: Takes place after the first game, so spoilers for everything.
Summary: "I'm sorry. The Chosen One is currently taking a mental holiday. Please leave a message and he'll get back to you in the morning."
Disclaimer: Alas, Tales of Symphonia and all its lovely characters don't belong to me. They belong to Namco-Bandai Games. I'm just borrowing them and not making any money off them, and I promise I'll return them unharmed (and probably happier than they ever were before) when I'm done playing with them.
Author's Notes: *hangs head* And yet again I prove that no matter how hard I try and no matter what fandom I write in, I just can't write anything short. I'm so ashamed. But really, it's all Zelos's fault for being such a chatterbox and for having walls stronger than the vault at Fort Knox that I had to knock down before any of this would work. My first fic for Tales of Symphonia, so hopefully the characters are at least semi-recognizable. And Zelos, I owe you a giant cookie for being so fascinating that you've done the impossible by single-handedly resurrecting my long-dormant writing muse. This is my apology for ignoring and killing you during my first playthrough of the game simply because I'd been on a Kratos kick at the time. Trust me, it's never happening again. Not betaed, so any mistakes or typos you find are entirely my fault.
Feedback: Feedback is love and fodder for future fics.
History: General plotting began July 2008; finally completed December 2008

This story is also available as a single file on here.

Mental Holiday (1/5) )
smb814: (TOS Zelos Wall)
Title: Mental Holiday
Author: smb814
Rating: T
Warnings: Zelos being Zelos (i.e. mild language, adult themes, innuendo, etc.)
Category: Character Study, Friendship/Romance
Pairing: Zelos/Sheena (a.k.a. Sheelos - if you don't like it, don't read it)
Time Frame/Spoilers: Takes place after the first game, so spoilers for everything.
Summary: "I'm sorry. The Chosen One is currently taking a mental holiday. Please leave a message and he'll get back to you in the morning."
Disclaimer: Alas, Tales of Symphonia and all its lovely characters don't belong to me. They belong to Namco-Bandai Games. I'm just borrowing them and not making any money off them, and I promise I'll return them unharmed (and probably happier than they ever were before) when I'm done playing with them.
Author's Notes: *hangs head* And yet again I prove that no matter how hard I try and no matter what fandom I write in, I just can't write anything short. I'm so ashamed. But really, it's all Zelos's fault for being such a chatterbox and for having walls stronger than the vault at Fort Knox that I had to knock down before any of this would work. My first fic for Tales of Symphonia, so hopefully the characters are at least semi-recognizable. And Zelos, I owe you a giant cookie for being so fascinating that you've done the impossible by single-handedly resurrecting my long-dormant writing muse. This is my apology for ignoring and killing you during my first playthrough of the game simply because I'd been on a Kratos kick at the time. Trust me, it's never happening again. Not betaed, so any mistakes or typos you find are entirely my fault.
Feedback: Feedback is love and fodder for future fics.
History: General plotting began July 2008; finally completed December 2008

This story is also available as a single file on here.

Mental Holiday (1/5) )
smb814: (KH2 Mickey Wave)
Wow! She lives! And actually remembers to update for once!

Since this is going to be quick -- lots of packing to do yet -- I'm going with the whole 'Numbered Points' format.

1. Family is heading to Florida tomorrow for our annual Disney World retreat. Yay! I'll be back the weekend before Thanksgiving.

2. OMG, I wrote fic! 'Tis not Stargate fic (Tales of Symphonia fic, rather), but it's still fic! Of course, per my unfortunate norm, it's ridiculously long, considering the small number of scenes in it, but still, my writing muse has returned! Zelos wins the award for being one of the most fascinating, complex characters I've ever seen and for being the one to lure my muse out of its long hibernation. And to think, my first playthrough of the game I couldn't stand him and chose the Kratos route instead (wherein poor Zelos faced a rather nasty fate), and next I know he's becoming one of my all-time favorite characters, I fall madly in love with the Zelos/Sheena pairing, and I'm writing long fic about him/them. Go figure. Anyway, fic is fully written and nearly complete, but I'm hoping to do one last revision of it while I'm in Florida before posting it anywhere, so if all goes well, that should be ready sometime shortly after I get back. I'm sure no one on my f-list cares about Tales of Symphonia fic or knows enough about the game to read it, but still...I'm writing again! :D

3. Let's see, I'm, like, six months behind with updates, so...oh, right. Chicago was a blast. *waves to the gang* Can't wait until next year to see you all again!

4. I've stopped watching "Heroes." I just...stopped caring about the characters during the break between Seasons 2 & 3, I guess. Same thing goes for "Brothers and Sisters." So that leaves me with "Chuck" (one of my favoritest shows ever...if you're not watching it, you should be!), "NCIS" (which I just keep loving more and more every episode), "Pushing Daisies" (for however long that show survives, that is, considering its abysmal ratings), "Supernatural" (which is awesome in oh so many ways that others on my f-list have already elaborated upon, so I'm not going to bother trying to do so right now), and "Stargate Atlantis" (which, surprisingly enough, I almost seem to be enjoying more this year than I have the past four years, go figure...and then they go and cancel it *sigh*). That's it. I'll watch "Lost" when it starts up again, and "Eureka" when that starts up again, but other than that, my TV watching has been trimmed down to that.

5. Work is fine. Nothing exciting; nothing terrible. I will be extremely glad to be away from there for the next week and a half, though.

6. "Frozen Flame" revisions are still happening, although they've slowed to a crawl. I'm in the middle of the last few annoyingly long chapters, and I just seem to be lacking motivation to work on them lately. At least I've already reached my word count reduction goal; anything beyond this that I manage to get rid of is just a lovely bonus.

7. Um...I can't think of a 7 right now. Too much to do yet before I leave tomorrow morning.

Anyway, just wanted to wave at everyone on my f-list and say hi! I hope everyone's doing well, and I'll try to update more regularly after I get back. :D
smb814: (TOTA Guy/Natalia.)
Games Owned & Won )
Total: 56

Favorite 25 Games )

Games Owned But Not Won/Played )
Total: 174

Oy, vey. Methinks I really need to catch up on that 170+ game backlog.

Last updated on April 3, 2010.
smb814: (TOTA Guy/Natalia)
Games Owned & Won )
Total: 56

Favorite 25 Games )

Games Owned But Not Won/Played )
Total: 174

Oy, vey. Methinks I really need to catch up on that 170+ game backlog.

Last updated on April 3, 2010.
smb814: (TOTA Guy)
Ugh, I really need to start updating more regularly. Really, I do.

So, let's see. I'm still studying Japanese. I'm nowhere near being able to read even simple text yet (I have too much vocabulary left to learn before I reach that point) or understand spoken dialogue, but every day I'm learning a little more about the grammar and a few more Kanji characters. At least I have Hiragana and Katakana down pretty well now.

Oh! My family took our trip to the Disneyland resort two weeks ago and absolutely LOVED it. We've never been out there before (we've always gone to Florida since it's considerably closer to Wisconsin than California is), but we found a few great deals on airfare, ticket prices, and hotel prices and had to jump. I didn't think my parents would like it since they'd never expressed interest in going there ever before, but they loved it just as much as I did. In fact, if I were to compare the Magic Kingdom in Florida (not including EPCOT, the Studios, or Animal Kingdom) to Disneyland in California (not including the California Adventure park, just their Magic Kingdom equivalent), I almost liked Disneyland beter. Their "Pirates of the Caribbean" is two times longer, FCOL! Their Space Mountain is an absolutely awesome ride (unlike the Florida version, which is DEFINITELY showing its age in all the bumps and sheer jerkiness)! Their Autopia is actually an enjoyable drive, through a lovely park and with cars that aren't ridiculously difficult to control! They have an excellent Indiana Jones ride! They have the submarines and Nemo! They have Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin (basically a teacup on a dark ride track)! They have Mr. Toad! They have some amazing miniature displays in the Storybookland Canal! Granted, the Splash Mountain, Winnie the Pooh, and Buzz Lightyear rides in Florida put theirs to shame, their Matterhorn did nothing for me (it actually reminded me of the Space Mountain in Florida), and their castle is miniscule (we lost track of how many times we couldn't see the castle past the trees, and the first time I saw it I burst into laughter and called it "cute," which really isn't how an iconic castle like that should be described), but I still really, really enjoyed it.

Disney's California Adventure I wasn't quite as enthralled with, but I still enjoyed it. Maybe it's because most of their "big" rides and attractions there are almost identical to the ones in Florida -- Tower of Terror, Soarin', Muppetvision 3D, It's Tough to Be a Bug -- or maybe it's because the whole Paradise Pier, carnival-ride type attractions do nothing for me, but we didn't spend as much time there. Of course, they have some awesome sourdough bread (at the Bourdin bakery, where we ate a LOT of lunches), California Screamin' is a great roller coaster, Mulholland Madness was fun enough, we loved both parades we saw there, the Monsters, Inc. ride was cute, and their Aladdin show is phenomenal, so it definitely wasn't a complete waste. I'm sure if I liked water rides more, I would've given Grizzly Bear Run a try, but I just don't see the appeal in walking around a park completely drenched so we avoided that one.

The weather there was amazing. After the winter we just had in Wisconsin, we needed the sun and 60-80 degrees like you wouldn't believe. Flights were great -- both were on time, we bought the signature seats so we were comfortable and had plenty of leg room for the 3 1/2-4 hour trip, and we didn't have a cloud in the sky flying out there, so we got to see everything well. Even coming back, the sky was mostly clear. Not having seen the Rocky Mountains in years, that was a real treat. Our room, too, was wonderful. We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, which was about a ten minute walk (through Downtown Disney) from both parks. I would happily stay there again -- big rooms, comfortable beds, decent food. All in all, an excellent, much-needed trip with lots of familiar sights but plenty of new stuff and exploration as well. I definitely see myself planning another trip out there in the next few years, and seeing a different park than the one I'm used to just made me want to go to Tokyo Disney (which is supposed to be spectacular) even more than I did before.

"Frozen Flame" revisions are still crawling along -- generally about a few paragraphs a day, depending on the size of the paragraphs. Unfortunately, I also haven't felt like working on that Daniel/Vala fic on my plate lately, so I've fallen way behind on that, too -- sorry about that, Misty. :( I just haven't felt motivated to really focus on either of them at the moment (probably because I'm also working on proofreading a book on urban education struggles during my free time for someone at work), but I'm sure that will change eventually. Experience has taught me that my interests tend to be cyclical. For a few months I'll be in writing mode, then I'll switch to watching DVDs, and then I'll switch to video games, then I'll switch back to writing mode, etc. Right now I'm heavily in video game mode, and I have been since I delved into Final Fantasy XII last fall. And that's perfectly fine with me, seeing as I have roughly 100 RPGs backlisted that I haven't even touched yet. *gulps*

And speaking of RPGs...Tales of the Abyss has eaten my soul. Seriously. No, maybe it's not the greatest game ever, but it's pretty darn good, with awesome characters *points to icon and would huggle Guy except the poor guy would undoubtedly run away screaming* and even more awesome character development and interaction. And the battle system is FUN! It's even knocked Kingdom Hearts II out of my top three favorite games ever list -- and anyone who knows me knows that's saying a lot. I'm on my third playthrough already and I suspect I'm literally going to have to force myself not to start another playthrough of game so I can finally play a different game. Hopefully this time I can finish up everything I still haven't done in my previous two playthroughs (like maxing out my levels so I can beat Nebilim on Very Hard and/or Unknown mode, mastering Dragon Buster, and completing the Collector's Book) so I'm not tempted to play it yet again -- because I know I would be. It's just that much fun.

Oh, and so I can quickly find it again later -- link to my all-time favorite Guy/Natalia fic: And the Clock Struck Twelve. Not only does it make me SQUEE!!! every time I read it, but it makes me really wish I had a storyline so I could tackle writing that pairing myself. I wish the author had included a focus on Guy's struggles to overcome his gynophobia, but I can understand why she didn't for the sake of the story. But oh, how tempting it is to write a fic with more of that angle to it.... Too bad her sequel to it is solely Luke/Tear, a pairing that, while canon, I'm pretty much indifferent to. :(

Also on the video game front, this past weeked I finally caved and bought a Playstation Portable. Like I really needed to spend even more money right now. But I'm dying to play "Tales of Destiny 2" and "Tales of Rebirth" (even if they're all in Japanese), and I'm curious about what happens in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, and, well, there are quite a few other RPGs out for that system that I'm itching to play, and the PSP was the only feasible option for being able to do so. Yes, I AM an JRPG addict and have been since I was eight, thankyouverymuch. But then -- the icing on the cake -- was when I discovered that I could take any DVD in my collection, convert it to a .mp4 file, and watch it on the PSP. That means I can take an entire season of a TV show, put it on a single memory card, and watch it while on a road trip! I've already started converting my favorite Stargate eps, and I plan on working on Farscape and X-Files next. It takes awhile to convert them (a little over an hour for each episode), but the quality still comes through beautifully. Needless to say, the PSP just became my new favorite toy. :)

In not-so-happy news, summer is coming up, and after everything that happened last summer, I'm dreading it. My neighborhood still isn't doing real well. The elderly woman who lives across the street from us had her purse stolen at the Walgreens just down the road. A drug dealer was shot at the same Walgreens. Three people were caught breaking into a gas station two blocks from our house just yesterday morning. Our neighborhood block watch is disbanding because the woman in charge doesn't want to do it anymore, and I don't have the time or leadership abilities to take a job like that upon myself. I'm guessing we have a week or two before anything starts happening (closer to when school gets out for the summer, judging from the past two years), but I wouldn't doubt that some stupid kids with nothing better to do decide to come back to our house and try to break in again. And with the economy crashing around us and gas prices so atrocious, I fully expect the state of the neighborhood to get even worse. I've already evacuated my DVD, CD, and game collections to other places so they're not sitting around inside the house in the event of another break-in, but it really is a pain dragging things I think I might want home on weekends. *sigh* Tell me again why the world is this way?

But enough of that, since I made a point last fall to be as upbeat as possible and enjoy myself during the months where I don't have to worry as much about that kind of crap. Besides, I really should get back to work...not that I have a lot to do right now when I'm still waiting for people to start turning in their course evaluations. At least I get to play on the internet while I'm waiting.

I hope everyone on my f-list is doing well!
smb814: (SG1 Stargate)
Halfway through March already, huh? Time just never slows down, does it?

Ah, well, life's been fine for me, I suppose. I've still been fighting off that darn stomach bug the past few weeks, but otherwise things are...okay. Nothing special, nothing awful. Since I'm procrastinating doing work right now (it's hard to get motivated when there are only, oh, five people on the entire floor because of spring break), I thought I'd take a stab at that Stargate meme that's been going around.

My responses here )

In other news, I'm currently addicted to Tales of the Abyss. I can't recommend it enough to other RPG video game fans. I think it might even manage to break into my top 5 games list by the time I'm done with it. Although I was royally annoyed last night to completely lose Feres Island because I didn't go directly there and instead did a few other sidequests first -- and by the time I was done, it was nowhere to be found again. Seriously. I searched the entire ocean for an hour and never found it. I should *not* have had that much difficulty finding a moving island! Fortunately, I had an old save before doing those other sidequests, but I still had to redo over an hour of the game, including getting Luke's and Guy's ultimate weapons again from the coliseum, just so I could find it again before it drifted off to who knows where. *sighs*

Also, upon discovering that my Nintendo DS could play Japanese games without any modifications, I decided to buy two games (Xenosaga I & II DS and Tales of the Tempest, both completely in Japanese) to use as incentive for me to keep studying the language. I've always really wanted to play those two games, and neither has a chance of ever being translated into English and coming to the US otherwise, so it'll give me something to work toward. I might even have to consider getting a Sony PSP one of these days since that, too, can play any game made for any country, and there are definitely some games on the PSP that I'm interested in playing. That is one of the reasons I'm learning Japanese, after all, to play some of those games.

In Frozen Flame news, since I haven't posted anything related to that in ages, I've surpassed my word count elimination goal. Yay! Even better, I'm still not done with it (I'm currently working on chapter 49 out of 56, although I still have to completely finish cleaning up chapters 43-48 yet, too), so I'm sure I'll be getting rid of far more than that before I'm done. Double yay! One of these days I *will* actually update about that here with statistics again.

And now I suppose I should really get some work done.
smb814: (Animal Owl)
So we had our university-wide luncheon today, only they served alcohol and then still expected everyone to go back to work? Granted, I didn't actually drink any alcohol, but still, what gives? Do they really think I -- or anyone else, for that matter -- feel like working after all of that?

Needless to say, no, I don't feel like doing anything work-related, so I'm probably not going to. So there. Hence why I'm filling out Stargate quizzes. :)

Which Stargate character are you?
Your Result: Dr. Daniel Jackson

You are Daniel. Though no one bilieved you or in you, you have proven yourself right and worthy. You are facinated by new cultures, the study of ancient texts and have a very complex and dramatic lovelife you are intelligent, not very athletic, feel compassion for all life and are not a fan of the chain of command.

Richard Woolsey
Dr. Samantha Carter
Dr. Rodney McKay
Teyla Emmagan
Jack O'Neill
John Sheppard / Cameron Mitchel
Which Stargate character are you?
Make Your Own Quiz

Gee, what a shocker. Although if I were the quiz maker, I would have proofread my results a bit better before actually publishing it for everyone.

Anyway, seeing as I don't feel like doing anything else, I guess I'm long overdue for an update, eh? Here goes, in very random fashion. Cut because this post is insanely long and I don't want to overwhelm anyone's friend list. Includes talk about life, work, Disney World, video games, various TV shows and DVDs, MP3 players, Japan and the Japanese language, Frozen Flame, and even a few Stargate fic recs. )

...And I think I've finally exhausted my updates for the past few months. I'm sure I'll think of something else I missed, but for now that's it.

If I don't post before leaving for Florida next week, have a great holiday season, everyone!

August 2012

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