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Browsing Posts published in January, 2008

Smash Bros X-perience

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I wrote these short entries this morning on my phone, then cleaned them up for grammar and stuff. Can’t believe I waited in line for a video game. I’m really tired…

outside Yodobashi Camera Chiba, after I already got my game

6:53AM Just got in line. I’m 19th. There are surprisingly 3 females here and they’re as you would expect for a video game line. I’ll leave it at that. The line is pretty much silent. It’s balls cold, of course. I feel like I don’t belong here, but I guess I do.

7:08 There are 3 more guys behind me now but also 3 more in front. I think they were just out getting drinks or food, but thats BS. I’m half tempted to say something since I know no one else will. Ate a conbini-bought sandwich. Am now out of things to do.

7:13 An old woman just got in line. Probably not just lost. WTF

7:35 A staff member just came out to do a quick survey of what everyone’s here to buy. It looks like almost everyone’s here for Smash. He said, of course, that stock is limited. I think they’re going to see how many they have so they don’t have to make people wait if they don’t have enough.

7:55 Guy just came by to do tallys. I’m like Smash #16 so I think I should be good. They’re asking about controllers and stuff too. I think its just a matter of waiting now.

8:07 Lines way long now. I’d say I’m about a third of the line away from the front. It’s also funny when you see someone walking down the street and you just KNOW he’s going to get in the video game line. And of course he does.

8:23 I’m getting bored of people-watching all these morning commuters.

8:29 They started!

8:41 2 special registers are now open to sell this stuff. They’re an hour early though so this is sweet.

8:45 GOT IT! (cold victory pic)

大乱闘スマッシュブラザーズX

Waiting to Brawl

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sign to line up at ヨドバシカメラ 千葉店I’m just waiting a few more hours until I head into the cold to line up at the nearby Yodobashi Camera, which is supposed to open at 9:30AM. I think I’m going to try and get there 2 or maybe 3 hours before they open. Why in the world would I spend a day off waking up early, if I go to sleep at all, to line up in front of an electronics store? It’s because Smash Bros X (Brawl in the US) is finally being released here in Japan.

I don’t think I’ve ever lined up for anything like this before; not for a video game, movie, CD, DVD, or concert. It does, however, remind me of that Saved by the Bell episode where they were trying to get U2 tickets or something and ended up being chased by gangsters. Of course the gangsters ended up being a hidden camera show – ha, ha,ha! Sorry…it’s late and I’m really tired.

I know I won’t get to have any adventures as cool as Zack and the gang did in that mall, but let’s hope the line isn’t that long. I checked at 9 and midnight tonight, and there was no one yet. There was, however, a sign showing where to line up, so I know they’re expecting people. Devil May Cry 4 also comes out today, in addition to some other ultra-mega-nerdy games that I don’t know about. Yes, there are different levels of nerdiness, in case you were about to call me a hypocrite.

Frankendrive

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I had to deal with my laptop’s bum DVD-burner ever since getting this computer a few years ago. While it worked no problem, the biggest pain was that it could only burn certain kinds of DVDs. To be specific, they had to be +R discs that were 8x or less. Yes, 16x discs would not work, even though I thought they could as long as you burned at 8x. But yeah, it was a pain. Since +R is an American disc standard, something I just found out last year, those kinds of discs are much harder to find here in Japan. It had been getting more and more difficult for me to find discs that I could actually use, and when I did they almost always came in packs of 10 or less (no spindles), and were more expensive than if I had been able to use a cheaper package of -R discs. And as many of you know, I like to burn a lot.

But that’s all history now, since I finally got around to buying a new DVD drive for my laptop. I bought it online through Newegg when I was back in St. Louis on Dec 29, but apparently New Years caused even more of a delay problem for Newegg and FedEx, since the 3-day shipping that I had chosen ended up not arriving until Jan 10. And of course I was already back in Japan by then. But, I had my parents send it to me, I received it over the weekend, and I installed it last night. Easy installation, but since I couldn’t replace the faceplate, the drive is now recessed in my computer case. Whatever though.

Philips SPD8005BM/17

The thing worked all right, but it was really slow. Burning took forever, and reading a disc was even worse. Trying to watch a video file ended up with really choppy playback of both video and audio. I figured out through online forums (Google is great for this) that I had the problem of the drive being set to slave rather than master, and that was causing the IDE settings to make the computer communicate with the drive really slowly. Or something like that. There was also the major problem of this drive model having zero support from Philips for some reason. But yeah, there are really smart people out there who have figured out most problems you will ever encounter with computers or technology. Someone posted step-by-step instructions on how to get the drive working properly. It was a bit complicated and I almost made a mistake, but I e-mailed one of the guys and they were really helpful. In summary, I had to change the firmware to another brand of burner, use some shady software to set it to master, then flash the firmware back to Philips. Now my drive is super fast, can burn any kind of disc, and is even quieter than my old one. Mission complete.

Professor Leong

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I think I should try to blog a lot so I can move the Choco-Chicken entries down and out of everyone’s memory.

Last week I worked another job through Corporate, at another Tax College. This time it was at Nishi-Funabashi, a lot closer to my place than the Wako one last time. My students this time around were of “intermediate” level as opposed to the “advanced” ones at Wako, and there was definitely a noticeable difference in teaching this group. It was still a pretty good time, and luckily the students were all easy going and cool.

Let me explain a little bit more about the National Tax College, at least the way I understand it. So here in Japan, the workers and people who work at city halls, prefectural offices, etc. go to a special training college for one year. I’m pretty sure it’s all they need as far as post-high school education goes, mainly because I had at least one student who was even younger than me, meaning if she had any other college or university experience, it would have had to be only a year or two. I think one of them told me all they needed was the one year too. But yeah, they do this, then periodically they return to a Tax College campus for further training and workshops, including the English ones that I’ve taught, which are to prepare them for dealing with clueless foreigners who come in wondering how to file their taxes.

Teaching these things is always an interesting experience, much different than, for example, teaching at an AEON branch school. The class is 10 students, in a large classroom where everyone has their own desk or table arranged in a horseshoe pattern. I have a desk/podium up in front of the blackboard. Yes, a real use-chalk-that-gets-all-over-you blackboard. They also give me a wet towel to wipe my chalky hands on, and a nice carafe and glass of water in case your throat gets dry while lecturing. Much more of a “teacher” feeling in some ways. It was nice.

At Nishi-Funabashi they also gave me a security badge labeling me as “講師,” (koushi) or “lecturer/professor” which was a nice addition And to go along with the Japanese 先輩/後輩 (senpai/kouhai) senior/junior system, all of the college students who are at the Tax College studying have to greet every current tax officer: in the hallways, on campus, in the cafeteria, etc. These officers back for training are, after all, the senpai of these students. I would either get the standard kouhai to senpai hallway greeting, thanks to my Asian camouflage, or I would get an even better and more humble greeting since they thought I was actually an educator. Either way it was a good ego boost to walk down a long hallway and have dozens of tax officers in training saying konnichiwa to me.

I said in my last entry that I’d post it if I got 5 comments, and it actually happened. Nick, Kieran, Frank, Mikey, and Emily – you are now accomplices in this video getting released to the web. So here you have it, Choco-Chicken in all it’s terrible, terrible glory. I decided to post a link rather than embedding the video into the blog.

click to see Choco-Chicken on YouTube

As Futurama once said, “You’ve watched it. You can’t un-watch it!

While you’re at YouTube looking at stupid videos I’ve made, don’t forget about the IES Train Introduction video starring Blanchard.

Choco-Chicken

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If memory serves me right, during the summer of 2003 I was back at home in St. Louis doing pretty much nothing but sleeping and working at Caleco’s. This was even before I had this website and blog to waste time with. In a scheme that worked out even better than planned, I decided to take a class at Meramac Community College to pick up some IU-transferable credits. This also served as a great way for me to gain and subsequently launder AP credits, but that’s a completely different story.

The class I took was an advertising class, something that I figured would be fun and easy. It is during that class that I worked with Heisserer to create projects like “The Relationship Lady” infomercial, and I also designed some cereal called Infidel Crispies, with the mascot being then-Iraqi Information Minister Al-Salaf. The crowning jewel of this class, however, was the legendary Choco-Chicken commercial. Very few of you know of this video, mainly because it sat on a Hi-8 tape after being made, only to emerge briefly during my senior year at IU where I converted the video to Quicktime. The disc containing said Quicktime file was then lost forever, only to be discovered again on my recent trip to America. Forever can be short sometimes.

The bird knows what he's talking about.The video features that “Bird is the Word” song, bad acting, terrible audio, and horrible voice-over work. But most importantly, it also features a dancing mascot wearing a frightening chicken mask and an apron. Note that we filmed this video some morning in the frozen foods section of Wal-Mart, where of course we got kicked out for filming without permission. I’m sure the chicken costume had something to do with it as well. The end of the commercial also has Choco-Chicken Man posing with a little girl on crutches and an old man who smelled of whiskey at 11AM. I couldn’t make up stuff better than this. We also got kicked out by Wal-Mart a second time, for filming in the parking lot.

The video of course is not going to win any awards, but I’d say it’s amusing in the same way you occasionally listen to loud, belligerent hobos, just to hear what garbage they have to say*. We made it in only a day or two, and it was, in part, just an excuse for me to try and learn Adobe Premiere. It’s a little embarrassing, but I suppose some of you want to see it, right? Here’s the deal. If I get 5 people to comment on this post saying they want to see it, I will post the video. Yeah that’s a cheap move, but it’s not everyday you get to see a guy in a chicken mask dancing outside of Wal-Mart. Unless you live in the south maybe.

Choco-Chicken Man dance!
No one can resist the delicious taste of chocolate-covered chicken feet!

*One time when I was in New York with my dad, we heard a guy yelling that you can’t trust women because “they will STEAL YOUR DNA!” True story.

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