Tag Archives: money

Expensive Day

I got my photos back from the film processing lab today and most of them turned out pretty good. Unfortunately, even with my telephoto lens I was too far away for the eagle pictures to turn out really well. You can sort of make out the eagle in a few of the shots, but not enough to make blowing them up worth while. *grumpf* On the bright side, some of the arty pictures turned out acceptably. Now I just have to scan in the best ones for my gallery (and enlargements made for Iwahara-san & Keki-san). I paid the extra cost on the photos to have them go through the Kodak processing instead of the normal Hy-Vee stuff and am I ever glad I did. The last couple of times I sent photos through just Hy-Vee; they came back looking like crap. The photos this time came back looking pretty much like what I saw when I took them (a few were a bit off, but I’m sure that’s my fault).

Oh and the other thing that happened today? I got my kilt & jacket in the mail, complete with the invoice. *urk* The kilt & jacket look great but the invoice is kind of scary. I could pay it off right now from my savings, but I like having a bit of a buffer in there and this would nearly wipe that out. *sigh* I’ve really got to learn to stop spending so much money. Ah well, this is all in a good cause but more info on that will appear on this site in due course. 😀

Update: For the curious, I bought my kilt through the Scots Dragon and the tartan for my kilt is Graham of Menteith.

Don’t take away my fansubs!

I’m a bit of an anime fan. I’ve bought many a VHS tape, Laser Disc and DVD in my time and I plan to buy many more… unless the anime studios shutdown the fansubbers. For those of you who might not be familiar with the world of fansubs; here’s the definition of a fansub from Wikipedia:

Fansub – short for “fan subtitled”; a copy of a foreign movie or television show (most often anime) which has been subtitled by “fans” into their native language. This has been done to provide shows that would otherwise be unavailable in one’s native language, but with the growth in the popularity of anime, fansubs’ purpose has expanded to include programs that would be commercially unviable (I.e. older or niche appeal market titles.) in one’s country or simply to reduce the amount of time one would wait to see a particular program. Also, many American anime viewers feel there is too much censorship of anime broadcast on TV, especially in scenes related to nudity, which is common in Japan (even in children’s shows) but is typically considered inappropriate in the United States.

I mostly get my fansubs from online sources via BitTorrent1. This allows me to:

  • Judge if a series will be worth the money to buy once a U.S. distributer starts selling it here.
  • See some of those niche shows that no distributer will bring over.

Given that I quite often am not fond of the “mainstream” anime that is brought over and that my budget is limited; being able to view the series completely via fansubs is a vital part of my process for deciding what series I will buy. If the anime studios force the fansubbers to stop their work; then I’ll be forced to spend my money elsewhere. Harsh, but I’ve already bought my share of crappy anime and I’m not willing to shell out ~$20/disc in the hopes that a given series won’t suck.

Oh and in case you were curious, this article over on C|Net prompted my post.

1 If you’re interested in more info on this; leave a comment and I’ll see about writing something up.

Mac Mini

While I don’t own any computers from Apple (unless you want to count my iPod); I have friends that do and so I tend to follow any news about them. Today at MacWorld Expo 2005, Steve Jobs announced many things but in particular he announced 2 products that sound very interesting in deed. I’m speaking of the iPod shuffle and the Mac mini. The first interests me as my iPod is an older model with less battery life than I’m happy about (plus, I think it would make a cool birthday gift for the fiance). The second is interesting for a number of reasons:

  • It’s a Mac and it’s affordable.
  • If it’s really as quiet as they’re saying; it could make a great computer to put next to the TV, for watching video files off my server1.
  • It’s smaller than the phone on my desk at work!
  • Did I mention it’s affordable?

Of course, these products have only just been announced and aren’t available just yet. Not that I’ve got the money to buy either one right now. *sigh*

1 For the record, those video files are episodes of fan-subbed anime that haven’t been licensed in the US yet.

Now Playing at PCs near you: Half-Life2

As you might have heard, the activation servers for Half-Life2 are now allowing people to start playing. *sigh* It’s at times like these that I find my empty wallet depressing. This is the one game that I’ve been waiting for all year, but I’m broke. I’m especially broke because I want the game on DVD and the only way to get that in the US is to buy the collector’s edition (~$80). Ouch! Ah well, maybe being broke is a good thing and they’ll put out a normal edition (~$50) on DVD later for the US. They’re already releasing a DVD version for Europe that doesn’t require you to spend all that extra money for the collector’s edition; so it’s entirely possible.

Review: Twilightners

This was a review that originally I was somewhat excited about writing. The novella was written by a friend of my and self-published through Lulu.com. After he received a few copies of the printed book; he put one of my desk with a note thanking me for my opinions on a rough draft some months back and asked me to give the final version a read. He’d also asked that I post my thoughts here on CoffeeBear.net.

Unfortunately, the arrival of the book happened at something of a bad time for me. I was busy with work getting things filed away and ready for me to take my 2 week trip to Japan. I’d started to read the book and was interested to see where it was going; as none of it looked familar to me. Alas in my hurry to pack, I forgot to stick the book in my bag. So for two weeks, I had to wait to finish the last half of the book. I was busy enough during those weeks to not particularly mind the delay but when I got back; I was busy for a while and didn’t immediately pick it back up. When I finally did; I remembered enough of the story that I could continue without starting over but my interest in the book had waned somewhat in the interval.1 After finishing it, I realized that wasn’t really a fair reading of the book and decided to set it aside for a time to let my memories of the book drain away to give it a fairer reading.

This review is based on that 2nd reading.

In 193 pages, Clifton appears to be trying to tell 3 seperate stories. That of Dr. Brian McKart, a scientist who believes a friend of his may dead and another is in danger while the mysterious Soo pushes him to solve a mystery. That of Sharon LaSalle, a woman who was attacked and was taken away under odd circumstances. And finally, that of Special Agent Grace Rainwater who was investigating Sharon’s disappearance. Dr. McKart’s story is the central one to this novella and it is interesting to see how Clifton twists and turns McKart’s view of reality until the man isn’t sure if he’s experiencing something truly beyond his understanding or whether he’s trapped in an ultimate virtual realty game. Clifton tries really hard to blur the line between reality and virtuality for Brian but upon multiple rereadings this seems to fall a bit flat. Maybe I am just not clicking with the metaphysicalness of the story but while Brian seems to be struggling to remain sane; I’m finding it difficult to believe he let himself get into the situation to begin with.

Sharon LaSalle’s story seems to be marginally more interesting as her disappearance from the normal world can be explained as either: being killed, being kidnapped & hooked to a VR simulator or as simply moving to an alternative plane of existance. Which really happened? You’ll need to read the book and judge for yourself; as I’m still puzzling it out. Sharon’s story doesn’t receive quite as many pages as Brian did and that’s a shame because these sections of the book seem more interesting to me.

Lastly there’s the story of Special Agent Grace Rainwater. Her story is the least fleshed out of all and boils down to a simple investigation of a complex matter but there’s several unanswered questions here (e.g. why does she work so hard at the case) that the novella would have really benefited from having answered.

Overall, I give this book 3.75 stars out of 5. Again given my background with the novella, my issues with the story might be just that. MY ISSUES. To know for sure, you’ll need to read it yourself. It’s an interesting premise but but the more I read it; the less I can sympathize with the main characters. For a first effort, I’d say it’s good work but I’d like to see more depth to the characters and something that would allow me to sympathize with them better.

This book is available from Lulu.com (more money goes to the author) and Amazon.com (CB.net gets a cut).

1 Sorry, Clif but them’s the breaks.

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