I managed to get up on time today. It’s amazing...

Just not fair

I managed to get up on time today. It’s amazing how climbing down out of the loft at six thirty opens up your day. I got “a boxful” of stuff done before leisurely leaving the house at eight. My kitchen is back to standard form, and the bed sheets and bath towels are fluttering in the sun-shiny afternoon breeze.

Actually, it’s _really_ nice outside. Like ridiculously nice. Stupid nice, as I would say. It has rained since Monday (which I welcome for numerous reasons), but this morning my prayers for a laundry day were answered, and now I may stop drying the dishes with dollar store paper towels (which always flake off all over the place).

It’s so nice in fact, that I am having a very hard time rationalizing why I am indoors and chugging through code in a room with only fluorescents (my illumination arch-nemesis). This is one of the biggest letdowns about a career with a traditional company– you can’t just stop working and go play outdoors on a nice day. Sure, I got here at eight-thirty, and I’ve been putting up crazy amounts of progress lately, but that’s not the way things are done.

A day as lovely as this is a rare thing in Tokyo, and it burns at the hemline of soul to not be chucking the football on the Cut, or playing soccer in front of the Rotunda. However, I will not give up my ideals, nor will I be crushed by the industrial machine. It is just a matter of time until my next metamorphosis arises (be it self-employment or graduate school).

So to those of you back home not working for the man (and maybe some of you who are), for the love of God get out and do something extraordinary with your lives, even if it’s just tossing a ball around. You don’t even have to be good at it. 🙂

I really need to start enqueuing these posts written...

The great, slow decline of the English language

I really need to start enqueuing these posts written half-dead as drafts. It drives me mad how often I upload an entry with poor grammar (for lack of paying attention and multiple edits). Fortunately I have a paranoid habit of proofing most of my writing three or four times after it’s up, but that only fixes things after the fact. I’m a stickler (with good reason IMHO) on communicating intelligently, and it bothers me when I come across misuse involving the likes of “alot”, “their/there”, and “your/you’re”, which mar the generally pristine surface of the web. Of course the grandaddy of all transgressions committed against the Queen’s English is the atrocious use of the apostrophe, which I’d wager eighty percent of people butcher.

CDs, PCs, 1980s… not CD’s, PC’s, 1980’s… grrr…

It’s also interesting to know that Blogger’s rarely used spell checker does not contain an entry for “blog”.

As I said, another programmer quit last week, so...

Great game music for coding, a handsome boy

As I said, another programmer quit last week, so we’re staffed at two now to deliver a platform game. I can’t emphasize enough how crazy this seems (usually a platform game is built with a team of five or six). Obviously my company has some issues to work out as we can’t seem to keep anyone on to their first review. We (the two of us still here) have a deadline tomorrow, “Platform A”, which essentially means the game has to work more or less (sans special effects and real art), and in addition my newest run-and-code MFC application has to allow fundamental editing, simulation, and export to a format the console handles. I can’t believe it, but I’ve basically built the thing from nothing in less than a month. The pace is beating me into the ground though, I work through lunch (next to the keyboard) half the time, and I’m pulling sixty hour weeks with long periods of mad coding sans standing. I have even developed a series of paces I use depending on how much I need to get done, the most intense of which is where I code even when compiling to save time on compiles, and ignore fifty percent of all bugs I notice manifesting in expectation that they are non-critical or reside in a part of the code that a design change from management will deprecate soon anyway (obviating the need for a fix).

Ok, enough bitching. I am combating the stress (sort of) with a deluge of Lotte Green Gum, homegrown mint tea, and endless sets of video game music (I swear I could be Uematsu’s stand in by now). The VG mixing/arranging community is one of most savvy and sophisticated groups you can find on the internet. If you grew up with a Nintendo controller in one hand and a Zapper gun tucked into your Jams, I highly recommend giving some of this a shot.

Today’s tune: Kong in Concert – 10 – Protricity – Mine Cart Misadventure

You can get the whole album in raw wav and burn some nice CDs from the torrent, or grab the MP3s one by one. Tony and I both eagerly recommend the Aquatic Ambience remix.

Actually, the wonderful world of video game music is quite varied and rich, so I’ll have to talk about it again when I don’t feel like my neck is going to rot off. In the meantime, if you have spare cycles to burn, check out ocremix, nsf, and spc goodz (I can code at a hot fifty lines a minute listening to the last couple levels of Final Fight at maximum volume).

As a cute sidenote, upon returning from the grocery store last night with the makings of Mom’s spicy mustard chicken, I had the fortune to happen across a group of neighborhood seniors. Normally I try to make pleasant conversation and learn about the ladies’ lives, but I usually don’t get too far before I’m inundated with a chorus of “handsome” or “how polite (he is)”. That of course prompts me to programmatically deny such claims and apologize, which in turn spawns even more praise. 😀 Ah, community… Cheap, cup liquor with old men, and sweet desserts and cooings from their wives.

Forty minutes of nonstop typing relating an afternoon...

Forty minutes of nonstop typing relating an afternoon dream

My father had moved into a new house, it was a rancher, an old one near the sea. It was nice; dark, stained wood, kind of like the sort you would find at an old fisherman’s wharf, but it was done tastefully and well cared for. From walking in the front door you could turn left down some shallow steps onto the polished hardwood floor, and move into the den. There were comfortable sofas you would sink down into, and a thick rug on the floor. It felt cozy.

Earlier in the day I had written down some notes to myself about a Christmas or birthday gift, something I had really wanted, and left them in small colored envelopes just inside the front door. They were for Mom and Dad eventually, but I wasn’t going to give them to them just yet.

I went out to go to dinner, because I was quite hungry. I turned left out of the front of the short yard onto a small stone path covered with brown pine needles that had fallen from scores of evergreens that grew up along the cliffs where the house stood, overlooking the ocean. Down the path and around a corner to the left, a short ways, there was a restaurant, another similarly constructed building, a lot of well-cared for wood and things that reminded you of the sea. It had saloon-type swinging doors, and moving through the restaurant, back a short ways to the right I came to sit down with some friend. It felt like Brandon Chang, but it wasn’t. I’m not sure. We had a two seat booth that presses up against a low wall on the right, splitting into an aisle that the service staff travelled heavily. My friend sat across from me, and I had my laptop for some reason. We ordered our food, and the sun was setting over the sea, so it must have been somewhere on a western coast. The room was full of that rich, orange, light that comes in late in the day, and is magnified by wood finishing and dark furniture, the kind you can see dust motes suspended in light streaming from a window.

I remembered something, and ran back to the house, since it wasn’t far away. My parents were there then, and my mother got really upset about what I had said in the note, I’m not sure why. I told them I hadn’t meant for it to be seen just yet, even though it was just be saying something about a dictionary I could use. In any case, my mother was upset. I defended my actions to my father, who seemed more angry as my mother was sad. There was some talk of a mailing address, and I reminded him that I lived there and paid rent, or something. I meant to get back to dinner, so I ran back out and around the corner to the restaurant. My friend was still there, and he had eaten most of the popcorn that initially comes out (but then I asked why the popcorn hadn’t come yet, I’m not sure). And the table was kind of messy.

I noticed that my laptop looked strange and I asked him about it, and he said that one of the managers had walked by and said it was too bright, and asked why was it playing a movie with no one watching. It hadn’t been playing a movie actually, I’m not sure why he said that, so I restored the settings that my friend had changed. 16 bit color, 640×480, large icons… like after a crash? I noticed that there was a photograph of a man on the background of the computer. He was standing looking at the camera, balding, with a beer gut and a tracksuit. I suppose he could have resembled the video director from Vice City, but he looked more evil with a scraggly beard and wild eyes. That’s when I remember my dream shifting…

I got up and left the restaurant because something was wrong. I felt like I was being chased, or I had to stop someone. Farther down past the restaurant the village thinned, and the evergreens blocked out more and more of the sky. The path must have snaked around some bluffs, because I remember being a corner again, a part where the stony cliffs jutted out, and the path cut down before continuing on.

There was a house behind a blocky stone fence, a garden and path inside twisting up over some uneven ground. I was being chased, or in danger, or… I can’t remember as it’s been about twenty five minutes since I started typed my dream chronologically, but the man I had seen in the background of my computer lived here.

There were hired men, assassins. And I fought with them and won, or lost and restarted. The events and challenges overlapped and melded together… each another attempt or a scenario rehearsed in my mind to see how it would play out. I had to find one that led me all through the encounter alive in one shot, like hunting for the path through a maze with no mistakes.

There was a knife thrown at me, I dodged. I was trying to make it through the house in the fading sun and find something, or complete something, and then get back out. A housemaid… a man in worn tennis shoes… (damn, it’s fading so fast now, why can’t I hold onto the end in the same detail as the beginning?)

I fought, and escaped, and was heading through the front garden, and I crossed back over the path and started down the cliffs. Not straight down, but over some small drops, through more trees, to the ocean.

Then the man was there, the one from my computer. I thought I was going to be able to escape without confronting him, but I couldn’t avoid it. I think I stabbed him in the neck as he lunged at me… maybe.

I went back up the cliffs to the path and ran into the toughest hitman. I wasn’t going to make it. Poison? Shot in the dark? A broken neck? He was going to keep coming after me and I’d live in fear my whole life if I couldn’t finish this now.

We struggled, and…part of the decorations and fences in the yard collapsed… I can’t… remember details anymore.

But somehow it ended, and I thought I felt relieved. I started to go back towards the village. But then it skipped, the picture jumped, and it was another time later, or earlier, and I remembered with desperation that I had to go back. There was something in that house I needed, one last thing to claim.

I went into the house and got whatever it was I needed, and began to find my way out. But I saw some girl that startled me, and I thought she was coming for me. I tried to grab her and we pitched headfirst over some furniture, and she ended up getting shot. I was shaking in shock at the surprise and the adrenaline, and the primal cries for defence beating in my blood.

She trembled and coughed, the life leaving her body, and she asked me why, and I remembered… remembered I had seen her before, remembered that she was the mad man’s daughter, remembered that we met a long time ago near the start, in the past, at a diner on one road through the desert. A large part of me died quickly as the relationship between us took form in my mind, the relationship driving a mortar of ice and stone into my heart.

I’d made a mistake in the heat of the moment, a reaction to defend myself had destroyed my true dreams, the ones I’d encased in concrete and pushed off the pier. I didn’t say anything, but let her gently down as her body grew still. It was a long, empty walk back into the dying sun.

That’s about all I can remember. there is more, but they are all flashes of pictures I can’t sort out with clarity anymore.

Her face…the deep water in her eyes, the sound of gravel slipping out from under me as I lost my footing. The ways I cheated death, the reasons for my actions. How I defeated my adversaries so completely, but without any kind of control or direction. It was a cold series of machines and plots bent on my destruction, and I was a wild-eyed animal, sprung from a cage, fighting for my life.

How torn and ragged my clothes became through it all. Shredded, like my control over the world.

said the boy who had his lunchpail fall open, bookbag...

“I just can’t win…”

said the boy who had his lunchpail fall open, bookbag break, and trudge home in the rain. His mother greeted him at the door with a tooth-sucking, compassionate look. So of course they went to Chuckie Cheese (another commercial dead to the internet except this blog).

I thought I would get something from Venga Venga to cook for dinner, but while in a fatigued, haggard daze, I stared at the withered produce blankly and spied a large, shiny black object that the Spanish call “la cucaracha“. My mouth hung open for a few seconds as it crawled back into the dingy crate, as which point I did a 180, tossing the basket haphazardly aside, with a flourish. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to walk in there for a beer again without shuddering.

I’m tired. Yesterday was great. I carried the omikoshi proudly, and I have a throbbingly persistent badge of accomplishment in my shoulder to remind me. I’ll get some pictures from the town council and put them up soon. Apparently I have three weeks to train as I’ve been recruited for some sort of triathalon involving tug-of-war and running on the seventeenth. Our town has never won apparently, and I’m not sure I’m the one to turn the tide (though the fact that I’m about thirty to forty years younger than virtually everyone else on the team may help a little).

Anyway, work is done, it’s technically Saturday by the time I post this, and I need get some muesli and think about applying PHP Jon’s advice for IE and PNG interoperability.

The third member of the program team at work quit...

In the thick of it

The third member of the program team at work quit yesterday. We are now again at two people to develop our title (currently in production). As Sewer Urchin would say, “definitely bad.” I was up past three venting how lame the situation was with one of my co-workers.

Fighting cheap wine and extreme exhaustion, I somehow managed to crawl out of bed at ten to nine and make it to the festival to volunteer. It’s now about lunchtime, and I have ducked out so I can crash for a few hours before I return to answer all the calls of drunken salarymen asking me to share some liquor (shudder).

You’ll never believe the day I’ve had.

Recently I have been sleeping less (intentionally...

Life without cable never looked so good

Recently I have been sleeping less (intentionally), and waking up earlier. Ideally, this precedes leaving work earlier, but so far that only happens about forty to fifty percent of the time (actually driving my number of hours at the office up). Anyway, I’m awake earlier, and if I’m not watching fansubbed anime’ [currently gorging myself on Chobits], then I’ll click on the networks and see what the rest of the country watches.

News is usually a little too dry for me in the morning (well, almost always), so I end up tuning in to Nihongo de Asobou�@(Let’s Play with Japanese) or more recently Oha Sutaa (a contraction meaning good morning star, I think). This show is wack. I mean really wack. It’s for middle school kids, and it features a different recurring guest character each weekday (today was the painted wrestler hero, Iron Hand). The corporate sponsors consist mainly of Nintendo, some drink company, and Pokemon (Nintendo). I’m not complaining, it’s the way I catch my Nintendo CM. A weekday dosage of the show includes hokey skits with the requisite melodrama, some contests, and the host, Yama-kun, jabbering on with the Star Girls and the daily visitor. Not a bad way to start the day, it almost makes me wish I still ate Captain Crunch. The show has been running on TV Tokyo for about eight years it seems, which is pretty impressive considering how short the halflife for most Japanese television series is (at least in primetime).

TV Tokyo are the lovely folks that brought us Love Hina, among other popular manga-to-anime’ translations, and their web page is just atonishing. Its garish colors and flickering widgets are quite exemplary of Japanese web page design, but it actually does a pretty good job of looking slick in my opinion. I mean honestly, which network would you rather watch?

I lean back in my chair, and I see Beechwood, snaking...

Flashes of Pittsburgh in the night

I lean back in my chair, and I see Beechwood, snaking back into Squirrel Hill from the south, with tales of the Waterfront and Loews Cinemas, of dead smokestacks and deader Homestead. Chaya, where I won and lost a job in a matter of minutes. Bruegger’s, and the bacon scallion cream cheese. Oh to kill for a bagel, a real bagel in a real city of condiments and colleges, of parkways and pickles. If only I had a day left for each crack in the worn, road salt tarmac, I could walk back to Oakland for a blissful eternity.

Artificial Horizon

After several months of being dissatisfied with my current ideas for presentation of a new batch of photographs, I decided to bite the bullet and just go with an incremental update to the site design as opposed to a dramatic improvement.

artificial horizon

is now up, and I have ironed out most of the IE/Mozilla bugs (neither seem to be able to handle table formatting to my standards, but perhaps that’s why I should stop using HTML 3.1). Hacks abound to make the two renderings look as similar as possible, but I haven’t fixed the PNG-24 transparency issue (sigh), as it will involve some css nonsense to get IE to display the images accurately. In the meantime I entreat you to consider Firefox, for endless reasons…it really is better.

Anyway, sorry for the lame design, I know it’s weak and primitive, I have to make a great leap in my technical knowledge to display these images well (Eric Serra has a site using Flash 6 that I fancy).

BTW, to clarify, all of my materials may now be found at ichigoichie.org, with directories branching off in the same fashion as before. Sorry for the confusion, once the dust settles from my domain registration, this should be home for at least two years.

Now I HAVE to stop using a computer this very instant or I will go mad!! (sigh).

PS – I know it’s unprofessional, but I haven’t checked the color and contrast of the images on a non-LCD screen yet, so please forgive and I’ll do correction in the next couple days if necessary.

I just went in search of the Honmachi choukai (town...

I am a well trained, narrow-minded idiot!

I just went in search of the Honmachi choukai (town council/head) to ask about helping in our autumn festival this Thursday. My barber, who works about five hundred feet from my door, pointed out the town councilman’s house to me the other day. See the one with the red ladder? At the time I was too awestruck to realize that the house he was pointing to is within spitting distance from one of my windows (we’re close-knit here), so I really didn’t think about it much.

Today I noticed my 96-year old neighbor (bless her heart) looking out the window and we chatted a bit. She told me to take care and I proudly started walking to the barber to get a frame of reference. Then I turn around and look back and realize that yes the house he was pointing to was the one right in front of mine, just behind where my elderly neighbor lives. Geez I’m thick. The icing on the cake though was when a lady came to the door.

Konnichiwa. Deibido Benchura to moshimasu. (Hello, I’m David Ventura.) :Me
Hirose-san irashaimasu ka? (Is Hirose-san home?) :Me
Hai. (Yes.) :Lady
Chokai no Hirose-san irashaimasu ka? (Is the town councilman Hirose-san home?) :Me
Hai. Watashi wa chokai desu. (Yes, I’m the town councilman.) :Lady

Moron! I stammered over an explanation about the festival and how I wanted to help. I got details, bowed, dazed, and shuffled my way up stairs the full fifty feet to my room. I don’t think I’m sexist, but obviously I’ve seen enough movies and books that talked about mayors being balding, portly men with a pocket watch and a wink in their eye. (Sir Topham Hat came to mind.)

Anyway, I guess Japan is a place where you may be slightly less likely to offend someone with a misunderstanding like this, but I still felt like fifteen times the fool despite all the mental prepping I gave myself before I went out to search (I even shaved so I didn’t look like a crook.) Well, anyway, starting at nine am on Thursday I’m going to be greasing down yaki soba grills and and putting up tents or something. I’m going to have to ganbaru (do my best) double time now, because I want so badly to make a good impression and be liked by all my fellow townspeople. I guess I really should start closing the windows during “intimate” times. ::blush:: Stupid compressed video’s unnormalized volume levels.

It’s funny how a ceramic half litre jug of...

Visions of the future or the present?

It’s funny how a ceramic half litre jug of unpronounceable European beer can adjust your logic and ability to reason. I told Nui last night that I was probably going to finish my beer and go to bed (though I really didn’t mean this because of course I had plans to stay up until all hours doing _something_).

I don’t know what country it’s from, but I know it’s eight dollars and heavy as an iron, and I’m gonna drink it like a Viking!

However, true to my words I predicted my own fate and woke up for the second time this week on the sofa with the TV on and one hand tucked neatly, Al Bundy style, in my pants.

I had the most amazing dream, the bulk of which I don’t remember (something about riding around on a Bigfoot monster truck minibike and dodging shots from historic replica revolutionary war rifles aimed by a drunk and cantankerous Clint Eastwood and Charlie Sheen), but the end was the real kicker. I got home and suddenly realized I was living with Karen Tracey yet again.

What put me over the top though was when Karen reminded me that I was married, and to a bisexual, cosplaying Mexican. She was cute enough, and reminded me of a cross between Foxy Hu and some girl I saw in a B movie once. Man, did it rock me. It was like that movie, “The Family Man” with Nicholas Cage, except I didn’t remember knowing this girl in my childhood.

Karen had an elaborate array of coffee makers in her massive room which were all hooked up to a server in the basement and running UNIX to brew her the perfect cup. My wife was slim (but not waifishly so), wearing jeans and one of those little tight shirts that shows off the midriff. Apparently we were close to Cheryl, because the power was going out tomorrow and we were all going to LARP or something in place of a normal life. I dunno. I pulled the missus onto the bed and kissed her, because I felt like I had to (because this is what married people do, right?), but it was so weird because I was thinking this while doing it. But man, oh man, was my Mom going to be pissed when she found out…

Above & Beyond – No One on Earth (Gabriel...

Above & Beyond – No One on Earth (Gabriel and Dresden mix)

Music that makes my heart sink and my spirit drown in the beautiful, slimy cold of longing. I go out of my head every time I hear it, and I feel as if I died it would be all right, for I very nearly can’t stand the blasting emotion that pushes me to the floor.

Sliding into chill, blue-grey sands by my mind lost on a mountain in a dark forest with a cotton, hooded running jacket and hemorrhaging through the suede of my sneakers.

Down through the dark trees
You came to save me
You’re so ugly and you’re so beautiful
You’re like no one on Earth could be

Take me home
Let me be the one

All of my life I’ve been waiting
For you
I wanna be the one that you take home
Let me be the one
‘Cause I’m so lonely

Take me home
With you
No one on Earth knows me like you do
Take me home
In time you’ll love me like one of your own
So come on…

Take me home
With you
No one on Earth knows me like you do
Take me home
In time you’ll love me like one of your own
So come on…

Take, take me home
With you
No one on Earth knows me like you do
La la la la….I’m going home

I think I’m a little light-headed. In the...

“So what? So let’s dance!”

I think I’m a little light-headed. In the statistics department this week, my daily average was 11.6 hours at work, 0.66 on the train, and 6.1 sleeping. That left me with roughly 5.64 hours a day for Final Fantasy 7, botany, showering, reading, blogging, and chatting. I have acquired extended information about this month’s festivals (and what it’s like to crash a motorcycle at 200 mph), two highly amusing comics, combat tactics of the Spetsnaz, installation techniques for Unix on a Gameboy, and the best temperature for a hot ham n’ cheese while eating shaved ice with a plastic fork and feeding a gold chocobo.

But yeah, I’m light-headed. I was giggling (for lack of a manlier word) to myself and wondering what a week means in my life, for nearly sixty percent of time is all about impossible software projects and WM_PAINT messages. To that note, I’m going to screw with the KORG, eat frozen peas and do wall squats while half-watching Caddyshack because my Emo brother has a predilection for hibernation and not showing up for networked Warcraft sessions. Trulala!!!


ps – Since the typhoon Wednesday, my former laundry line-borne kitchen mat is still MIA. I will have to put up flyers and dredge the moat tomorrow before calling off the search and filing for life insurance benefits.

pps – Dan Tanna rules.