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AO3   
10:11pm 12/12/2012
  Hey guys,

Does anyone have an AO3 invite they could give me? Now the Objection! fanfic archive is gone the only place they can be accessed is LJ, so I wanted to put them on another external site.

If you have an invite, sling it to me at madmazda86@gmail.com

Thankyou!!
 
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SRW Group!   
09:02pm 22/01/2011
  Ello, we are recruiting for a Super Robot Wars cosplay group for Minamicon 2012 or Amecon 2012 8D Come and joiiiin us!

Details here:

http://community.livejournal.com/bar_one_cosplay/14250.html
 
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Study A-Go-Go!   
11:32pm 11/11/2010
  Okay, so I've already text-spammed a lot of people, but I thought I would post here too!

My study has been ethically approved and I can now officially start testing!! :D

This means I need YOU!

If you are in Liverpool on any weekday between Nov 23rd and December 17th, let me know! I'm testing afternoons only the first week, but after that I'll be there aaaaall day. Time slots will be as follows:

10.00
11.30
1.00
2.30
4.00

If you need a later slot, just let me know and I can sort one out ^^

Participant information sheet (you need to download and read this!):

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B38ghBs3PYYMYTlmZTQwODItN2UwOS00ODFiLWExMTctYzZkMDZiZWEyYzhl&hl=en&authkey=CJiN-OAK

I'm trying to get 50 people, so every person helps!

If you have any questions, ask away, also please pass this on to anyone else you know in Liverpool. Thankyou!!
 
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Piccies of Spring!   
11:37pm 06/04/2010
  Hey guys, am back in Glasgow after a noneventful flight which wasn't delayed, hurrah! I went a bit crazy with the camera today because Mum and I went to the Mary Challis garden which is full of Spring-ness and ladybirds XD So have some pics and feel all Spring-ful!

Ladybirds. And spiders, if you like that sort of thing.Collapse )
 
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Cosplay craftytiems!   
11:17pm 21/03/2010
  Hey folks, I have another Blue Peter photo chronicle to share with yez all! In a similar fashion to last year's Lisa Basil UMD thingy, it can be once again made mostly from things in your household!

Sooo, today I am making Wendy Oldbag's robotic front panel thing:



Here's one I made earlier XDCollapse )

Now to bed, for tomorrow is my driving test. I don't really care about it anymore, I just want it over with and if I haven't passed I'll just do it in Glasgow. But wish me luck anyway!
 
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Vast quantities of AAI meta!   
01:24am 10/03/2010
  Sooo, I just finished the game!

Ramble ramble about AAI - spoilers for all cases abound! Now with added Shi-Long Lang and other content!Collapse )

Ummm... I think that's pretty much it now. I need sleep. Though I have to say, the only cases I didn't like in the game were 5-1 and 5-3; 5-1 only really because I'd already played it before both on translated demo, actual demo and in Japanese, and 5-3 because I didn't like the side characters in it. The rest had pretty solid cases, good characters and the plotline of the smuggling ring running through it all gave it a nice thread to follow.

So yeah, that's my meta's-worth. I may add more to this when I'm feeling more awake. Would love to hear other people's thoughts! :D
 
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Project 365: This Month's Picks   
11:40pm 31/01/2010
  Hey folks, I've been doing Project 365 for a whole month now! So I'm nearly a tenth of a way through :D So I said I was gonna post once a month with a little roundup, so here is one picture for each week:

Under the cutCollapse )

The interesting thing is that for every photo that went into the 365 project, I've probably taken at least three or four other shots in the same day, and often more. Multiply that by 365 and by the end of all this I will have taken a good 1400 pictures!! I certainly feel my skills with the camera are improving, but I need to get out there and try my two manual lenses that I can use with the camera now because they have a bit more range on them than my kit lens!

Anyway, now I really am going to bed XD
 
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01:18pm 02/02/2009
  The sky is blue, it's snowing, and I've got a cup of tea and a chocolate bar.

Life is good ^_^
 
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NaBloPoMo Post #25: Last Post!   
11:10pm 30/11/2008
  Hey guys, sorry for missing the last couple of days of NaBloPoMo - I've had a really good (busy!) weekend with Aron and Wai San and Ho-man, hence the lack of posts XD

Here's what I've been doing, in pictures XD

It's about minus seven degrees here and I thought I'd put my washing out to dry as it was a nice clear morning - except my clothes froze!

There were stalactites on my washing line :O

And we decorated my Christmas tree :D I didn't have a fairy or a star to go on top, so delinquent!Renji did nicely as a substitute! XD


And that's it from me! More detailed post some other time ^^

EDIT: Resized pictures. Sorry XD
 
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NaBloPoMo Post #23: Manga   
11:18pm 26/11/2008
  NaBloPoMo Post #23: 26th November 2008

Okay, it’s a bit daft for me to be talking about manga when I haven’t sat down and read any for absolutely ages, but I thought I’d talk a little bit about my favourite manga genres and manga authors.

I actually started reading manga a long, long time ago – way back when I was still in primary school. There was a manga series available at my local library. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called or who wrote it (it really was ages ago, I can’t have been much older than about ten or eleven). But it was a martial arts series, one of those ones that involves lots of training before being good enough to beat up the baddies. I definitely remember at least one scene where the guy meditates and focuses enough to be able to slice a raindrop in two with his hand. I was really addicted to it and because it was a long series I was always on the lookout for the other volumes of it. But libraries being libraries, some of the volumes they didn’t have so I don’t think I ever actually finished the series! I wish I knew what it was called.

After that I didn’t read any manga for a long time – it was only after I started Uni that I got back into it again, and that was because in my foolishness I decided to start buying the Bleach manga when it first came out. Little did I know how bloody long it was!! I got up to about volume 16 and gave up, but by that time I had started collecting some other series. I love Tite Kubo’s artwork, though – the crappy art in the anime, especially the filler arc, really spits on his skill D:

I can’t remember who it was that introduced me to Yu Watase – I think Ho-man started it by talking me into buying Imadoki. Cheap bastage reads most of his manga by talking other people into collecting it and then borrowing it off them XD I love Yu Watase’s artwork because the lines are so crisp. And her men are HOT – take a look at Koki, for instance. Her storylines are also surprisingly gripping for shoujo manga, and she’s sure as hell not averse to kicking the usual soppy shoujo ending in the face. I spent a whole frickin’ year collecting Ceres Celestial Legend, and it was full of DRAMA and ANGST and surprisingly gory for a shoujo manga – and after all the horrible things that happened to Aya I thought she might finally get a happy ending with the man she loved. But when I got the final volume, upon reading the ending I sat there in dumbstruck horror. No, no way, I just couldn’t believe what she’d done, but yes, she had! ARRRGH! I can’t say much more than that or else I’ll spoiler anyone wanting to read it. But gaaah!

Pretty boys aside, I do have other favourite authors. The main genres I like are slice of life, shoujo and mystery, with the odd shounen series thrown in. One of my all time favourite manga series is actually pretty old – the Kindaichi Case Files by Yozaburo Kanari. The protagonist is Hajime Kindaichi, grandson of a famous detective. But no Gary Stu is he – he’s actually a bit of a layabout and pretty hopeless at school, but his mind is sharp even though he’s totally inept when it comes to girls XD The storylines are very cleverly executed, though a lot of the themes outside the threads of the actual mystery are pretty recycled. Miyuki, the female love interest, always seems to be endangered in some fiendish fashion and the mysteries inevitably take place in some isolated environment where nobody can go back to the main town for help, allowing Kindaichi to take the helm.

However, despite this the mysteries are still very gripping and all the clues are right there in front of you, but try as you might you just can’t figure out how they all piece together until Kindaichi’s final denoument in the last chapter. At which point I go back through the volume and think “Oh yeah!!” Sometimes murder mysteries are so complicated that when it comes to the denouement you’re still trying to figure out who is who and when they show you all the clues you missed, you just think “Oh I never would’ve gotten that” and stop really caring. I tend to find that in the Poirot dramatisations on TV. But in The Kindaichi Case Files the cast is pretty simple and you can follow Kindaichi’s logic pretty well. Sometimes over the course of the case he’ll flag up things that are important later on, and I have fun reading through and trying to figure out who did it based on the clues I have.

Now in terms of slice of life, I think my two favourites have to be Azumanga Daioh, by Kiyohiko Azuma, and Aria/Aqua by Kozue Amano. The Japanese have slice of life down to such a fine art, both in storytelling and in graphics. You can see the front covers for Aria here. They really are beautiful. It tells the story of Akari, who travels to a terraformed Mars to learn how to be a gondolier in the watery city of Neo-Venezia. Nothing happens in it. Seriously. But nothing happens in such a beautifully drawn way, and the simple things that they talk about make me realise how unnecessarily complicated and cluttered the life of an average human being in this day and age has become. One chapter is all about how they hoist the gondoliers out of the water one hot summer’s day to give them a good clean – it reminds me of helping my Dad wash the car in the summer holidays, and what fun it was.

Azumanga Daioh is a more goofy form of slice of life, on a par with anime such as Sketchbook and Hidamari Sketch. I love four-panel comics and this is such a great example of them being done well. In the unlikely event that somebody reading this hasn’t heard of Azumanga Daioh, it’s about a group of high school girls and follows them right up to graduation. There are nine girls all up, each with their own quirks. You can read about the series here. One of my favourite characters is Osaka – she’s always daydreaming and coming out with random crap. I think I’m scarily like her sometimes XD The anime’s pretty good too!

Most of my favourite shoujo series are done by Yu Watase, but I should also mention Sakura Tsukuba – her two main series are Land of the Blindfolded, which I’m hoping to collect sometime, and Penguin Revolution.

Allow me to digress off into a rant! A lot of the manga series I collect are one-shots – I can’t afford to buy much in the way of long-running series so I tend to choose carefully what I start collecting. But what really really annoys me is when I pick up a manga series that I like, and they STOP BLOODY TRANSLATING IT!!! This is such a pet hate of mine – so many series that I have started collecting that are no longer being published here in the UK:

Kino’s Journey
Penguin Revolution
Peacemaker Kurogane
Translucent
Detective Loki Ragnarok
Tengai Retrogical
Blue Inferior

Bah!

So as you can see, Penguin Revolution is in that list – I’ve been waiting for volume 6 for AGES but I have now given up and am ordering it online. I try to buy my manga in shops to support the places that DO sell it, but when they can’t give me what I want, what am I supposed to do? They’re up to flippin’ volume 8 in the US already. Being in the UK sucks for manga D: Sakura Tsukuba’s artwork is very pretty, kind of similar to Yu Watase’s. You can see it here.

Man, it’s getting late and I’ve got to head off to inservice training tomorrow – my taxi’s coming at 7.45am tomorrow T_T I shall have to finish this off with a final recommendation.

With The Light - Keiko Tobe. In a shock horror moment Ho-man actually bought a manga, and this was what it was. It is all about a little boy called Hikaru, and over the course of the manga which starts when he is born (and is still ongoing), Hikaru is diagnosed with autism. The book focuses on his mother, Sachiko, and how she and the rest of the family deal with the diagnosis and Hikaru’s subsequent upbringing. It’s a really fascinating series that really makes you think, and portrays quite a wide spectrum of attitudes towards autism, both in school, at home, at counselling groups and within the family. I can’t really do the series justice with this description, but I would certainly recommend it to anybody who likes to read things that open your eyes and make you think.
 
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NaBloPoMo Post #22: Let's Learn Some Orthoptics!   
10:58pm 25/11/2008
  NaBloPoMo Post #22: 25th November 2008

I have malted milk biscuits and a cup of chai tea. Ahhh, the simple things in life.
Well, kiddoes, today I'm going to teach you some orthoptics! My topic of choice is a somewhat rare and unusual syndrome. Like a lot of syndromes, it has a stupid name. The complicated name for it is Pterygoid-Levator or Trigemino-oculomotor Synkinesis, but a more descriptive term is Marcus Gunn Jaw Winking Syndrome.

So, what the hell is that? Perhaps it's best if I show you a video - this guy's one is a beauty!



Pretty bizarre, huh? So how the hell does he do that? There's no trick to it or anything - he was actually born that way. Going back to the complicated name for the condition, Trigemino-oculomotor Synkinesis - the components of the first word refer to two of the twelve cranial nerves that power various things on your face. There's the trigeminal nerve, which is the fifth cranial nerve - this provides most of the sensation to your face and also powers the muscles you use for chewing, biting and swallowing. And then there's the oculomotor nerve, which powers four of the six muscles that move your eyes around and, more importantly, the muscle that hoists up your upper eyelid.

The Synkinesis part basically means a mixing up of which nerve powers what. So this bizarre winking motion of the guy's eyelid in the video as he eats is essentially caused by a miswiring of his nerves. His trigeminal nerve has wired itself up to the upper eyelid muscle along with the usual branch of the oculomotor nerve (sometimes that doesn't wire up fully because of the trigeminal pushing in, and they end up with a droopy lid when they're not eating). Thus when his jaw moves, the nerve signals passing to the jaw to initiate the chewing action are also passing up to his eyelid, and bing! Wink wink wink goes the eyelid and chew chew chew goes the jaw in perfect synchronisation.

So there we go, this is why it's called Marcus Gunn Jaw Winking Syndrome - pretty much what it says on the tin, yes? It's pretty rare, I've only seen two cases in the three years I was training. You'll get a kid coming in and Mum goes "Oh, he's got a droopy lid", and you'll look at them and find absolutely nothing, maybe a very slight droop but nothing as bad as what they're describing. Then they'll say they notice it most at dinner time and then the penny will drop! Give 'em a toffee or something and your diagnosis is confirmed, easy peasy XD

But the reason I decided to tell you all about this is because our lighting technician for the show has an absolute CORKER of a Marcus Gunn - it's as bad as that of the guy in the video. We were all at the after-first-night party and he was sitting across from me eating his pudding, and he was looking down at his food but I noticed that his right lid seemed to be wide open compared to the other one. This is unusual when you're looking down because normally the lids drop a little. I was looking at him discreetly trying to figure out what it was that he had, and then he started chewing and phooo boy did that lid go! I'd never seen one quite as profound as that before, it was awesome XD

Moral of this story: Once you start training as an orthoptist that's it, your whole perspective is changed and you suddenly start noticing EVERYBODY'S dodgy eyes even when you're off-duty! XD
 
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[NaBloPoMo Post #20: The Show So Far]   
09:24pm 23/11/2008
 
mood: tired
NaBloPoMo Post #20: 23rd November 2008

I've hit post number twenty! The end is in sight...

Well, I've done two performances in our 8 day run so far - 7.30pm on Saturday night and a 2.30pm matinee today. It's been going okay so far! That shoulder b0rkage I had on Saturday was definitely anxiety related, I stopped feeling it after the show was over and the next morning I didn't have it at all. The first night I was really nervous, waiting in the wings for the start of the opening number. My heart was pounding, my palms were sweaty and the stage lights seemed blinding. But then the music started and my brain stopped going around in circles, and I just switched into the autopilot mode generated by the sheer number of times we've done the songs over the last three months. A bar for nothing, and then we step onto the stage one by one, filing past each other in a cross shape in time with the music. So there was the first bar, and then I took my first step onto the stage...

AND MY SHOE FELL OFF!

ARRRGHHHH!

But the show must go on! I carried on stepping forward, and Pauline who was right behind me kicked my shoe back into the wings. We got into our positions and then launched into the words of the opening number. And so I did the whole song including all the dance steps, with only one shoe! But it was okay because I was dressed as a ghosty street urchin so it didn't really matter XD Our wardrobe lady fixed my shoes with lots of double-sided stickytape and some bits of elastic so they stayed on the rest of the night. I was so annoyed though, I've done the opening song so many bloody times and yet on the actual night, after doing it right for the last month, I managed to turn the wrong way to everybody else in one of the sections. Bah! But I was at the back so nobody could see, so again, it didn't really matter. I don't think anything major went wrong, in actuality. It was a pretty good first night!

Today we did the matinee and I was much less nervous because I knew what to expect. The chorus aren't onstage much, we're in the opening song, another one later, then that's it for the first act, and in the second act we're only on three times as well. So we're sat up in the dressing room for a lot of the show - Pauline had brought in a gigantic crossword so we were all taking it in turns to do that, and Valerie brought in travel Scrabble! I won the game today :D Because we're sharing the dressing room with the female principals I've gotten to know them a bit better too - although most of the people in the theatre company are much older than I am, they're all a pretty good bunch really. Though duuude, every time we come off stage all the ladies are in hushed discussions about how someone messed this up or sung that wrong and analysing it all in such detail. Come on, folks, it really doesn't matter! There's a guy in my little group that have a line each who a) is tone deaf, b) forgets his lines, and c) smells - but so what, you've just gotta do the best you can, that's all that matters I say.

There's lots of parties too! We had the opening night party yesterday at somebody's house and there was good food and drinkies :D There's also a party on the penultimate night, and the closing night.

I had a bad moment when I was taking my makeup off as well - I was scrubbing away at my eyes with a makeup removal wipe, trying to get rid of the big grey eye sockets that had been painted on my face. I was scrubbing and scrubbing and it was coming off but there was still some left - at which point I realised THOSE big dark shadows had been there even before the makeup was on! Sheeesh, I need more bloody sleep. Hey, ninja15, you know how you were asking if there was anything to get rid of those dark shadows? Apparently used teabags work a treat - you try it first and tell me if it works!! XDDDDD

On that note I'm off to run myself a hot bath, then it's sleepytime. It's gonna be a looooong week...
 
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NaBloPoMo Post #19: Under Pressure   
04:33pm 22/11/2008
 
mood: stressed
NaBloPoMo Post #19: 23nd November 2008

Argh, I have half an hour to write this, then I need to go cook my tea and be down at the theatre for half six. Tonight is the opening night! To be honest I'm not feeling too fantastic at the moment - I appear to have developed Tezuka-style shoulder b0rkage overnight. It's actually really achey, my shoulder feels very heavy and weak too. I also feel somewhat under the weather, nothing specific, just a general feeling of tiredness and blegh, even though I had a liein till about 10.30 this morning. I think it's actually stress-related, truth be told. I was in Tesco earlier trying to get food for this week, black shoes and tights for the show and half a dozen other things and I felt really up-tight - and in conjunction with this I suddenly felt as if I was unsteady on my feet and nauseous.

I'm not sure why I'm getting stressed; I'm only in the chorus, it's no big deal. But nonetheless it does seem to be getting to me. I think I've taken on too much this month, is the problem. Too many things going on and not enough down-time. I blame NaBloPoMo for this partially - I'm determined to see it through to the end and there's only another week to go, but it's just another thing I have to try and fit in on top of everything else. The time I've spent writing these posts could have been spent doing other things. Even after the show's over, I'm still not really stopping - the week after the show I'm going to Birmingham to see Eskimo Joe, then the week after that I'm going to see the local panto one night, the first rehearsal for the Burns musical is the next, the Mamma Mia singalong cinema trip is on another night, and then it's the cosplay_scotland meetup at the weekend followed by the work Christmas do. Then I've got one more week at work and then it's home for Christmas.

I mean, I don't like being lonely with nothing to do in the evenings, but this is taking the piss!!

Anyway, my requisite half hour is up - I have to go prepare my dinner. Bye~
 
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NaBloPoMo Post #18: So very tired   
11:26pm 21/11/2008
  NaBloPoMo Post #18: 21st November 2008

Okay, it's not a proper post today, I freely confess. I had the dress rehearsal for the show today and I went to the pub with them all afterwards, so I'm now very tired and my arms are still covered in stage makeup! They made me up all ghosty and I had a trickle of blood running from the corner of my eye, it was awesome :D They were taking pictures so if I get hold of one I will totally post it! I was gonna have a nice hot bath to get rid of all the makeup but I'm so tired that I think I will just go straight to bed and try and sort it out in the morning.

I am looking forward to a liein tomorrow like you would not believe - I'm still catching up from the lack of sleep I had in Liverpool last weekend! I have a big list of stuff to do, though. Parcels to pick up, a trip to Tescos for shoes and tights for the first night of the show, Christmas presents to get, the list goes on.

On a random note, for the dress rehearsal I took off my glasses. When you're short-sighted, your night vision isn't fantastic. Blundering around in the pitchdark after the curtains had shut was not fun! And I had them off, and I spoke to Valerie who said "You look totally different without your glasses - you're getting contact lenses, I've decided." I know she was only joking but I was still a little annoyed. Like I look better with my glasses off or something. I hate how I look without my glasses - my nose is really prominent and my eyes seem really hollowed out. I look like... I dunno. Some sort of hobgoblin or something. Don't like it at all. Glasses stay on, I say!

Anyway, enough with the rambling - warm bed, here I come!
 
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NaBloPoMo Post #17: Games   
10:23pm 20/11/2008
  NaBloPoMo Post #17 - 20th November 2008

Well, ninja15 wanted a post on games, so here we go. There's not much for me to talk about really... actually, thinking about it, perhaps there is a little. I've been playing games all my life, in fact! Well, from a young age, anyway.

Our first ever computer was something very similar to this:

Sharp Tape Loading Computer

All the games were on cassettes, and you plugged it into the TV, went away and had something to eat about about fifteen minutes later the game was loaded and ready to play! We had games like Alphabet Man, Ladder Man and other things with A Man in XD It was very clunky as you can see in the picture, but the games were fun! I can't seem to find any pictures of them, probably because they were old and shit and nobody cares :P

And then we had an UPGRADE! In one of our home videos taken in about 1991 there's a shot of my brother sitting at our first proper computer - it was a 286 and duuude, it was a big thing back in those days to have a computer as fast as that, with all of 256kb of RAM! All the games were on 5 and a quarter inch floppy disks and you needed about twenty of the blimmin' things to run a single game XD My Mum loved this game called Countdown - you can read a review of it here. I must've only been about five or six when my Mum was playing this but I still vividly remember one of the flashbacks from the game where somebody shouts "GET SCORPIO!" It kinda scared me because the soundbite was so distorted, but then that was the standard of game speech software they had back then.

Not long after that the 386 came out, and then the 486, each with a little bit more RAM and disk space. Some of the early games on the 3.5" disks used to give you the option to run the game in CGA or VGA graphics mode - VGA was the big new thing back then but you had to have a fairly good computer to be able to run it. My brother was really into games back in those days so he had to have all the latest things that were coming out. I used to nick his gaming magazines and read them XD We had a lot of the old Sierra text adventure games which my Mum and brother played - Space Quest, King's Quest, Police Quest and Quest for Glory. Notice a theme here? XD And for a small amount of variation, Conquest of Camelot :P You can probably still download a lot of them nowadays - I've got a whole bunch of them on disk somewhere actually, I copied all the floppy disks onto CD while we still had the old PC with the disk drive. Each game had a good five or six disks that you needed to stick in at different points in the game. They were all pretty good games, actually - I wasn't a fast typer so I would quite happily sit there and watch my brother play them for hours. The vast majority of the games I haven't actually played myself but I know how they all went due to watching my brother play them, even though I was pretty young at the time.

One of the games - Laura Bow and the Dagger of Amun Ra, actually gave me bad heebie-jeebies. It was a murder mystery game (we had the original Laura Bow game as well, can't remember what that was called) and the images of the murdered characters were so vivid that I had nightmares. Things weren't really censored back then, and even though it was all pixelated, the deaths were still pretty gruesome - and you could die in really stupid ways in Sierra games, they were actually quite hard in places. Here's a site that shows you all the dumb ways you can die in this particular game:
Sierra games taught me to look both ways when I'm crossing the road

Most of the other Sierra games aren't so gory by comparison.

And here's another good game of yesteryear! Wolfenstein 3D - this was a real classic, and it had Mecha Hitler in it! XD


These were all things my brother played, though. Being the little tiddler that I was, I played daft games like these:
Word Rescue
Mixed Up Mother Goose
Commander Keen - Man, I still remember the crappy sound effect you heard when Keen died. Nostalgia!

So as you can see, we were a PC family rather than a console family - the first time I ever owned a console was when I came to University and bought my DS!

Now my owning a DS is entirely the fault of Phoenix Wright! I actually completed the first game on Fi's DS and after that was so addicted that I had to get one of my own XD But following this it was then ninja15's fault that I got into console gaming in general. I wouldn't know of half the games I like today if it wasn't for him. S'all your fault, Simon! :P

I can't talk as much about console games as I can about prehistoric PC ones, but I would say the main genre of game I like is adventure - I'm not into FPS. I'm more of a level-grinder/puzzle-doer at heart, really. My meagre collection of PS2 games consists of FFX, Okami, Xenosaga II, Bust-A-Move, Kingdom Hearts and Devil May Cry. Though man, do I get sick of level grinding after a while D: I've reached that point in Final Fantasy III where you can't progress through the final dungeon until you've gotten a better set of party jobs and levelled them up, which really sucks 'cause I've already gotten my folks to about level 50! I fortunately picked some good jobs to begin with despite not having a walkthrough so I just need to level up this bloody summoner and then hopefully I'll be be able to go in and kick some boss butt! Can't wait till Christmas as I asked for Professor Layton :D

So my experience of consoles is pretty limited. However, I have played a few old console games via emulator - I've completed the first Secret of Mana game and Seiken Densetsu 3 which was never released over here, thanks to a translation patch. And I also picked up Sword of Mana ages back which was another good one. The Mana games are fab, dungeon crawlers of just the right difficulty curve with lots to keep you occupied but not do your head in. I must pick up Children of Mana again sometime, I got really far on Fi's copy when I was in Wales! I bought Heroes of Mana some time ago but that proved to be a bit cruddy as it was an RTS using Mana characters which just wasn't as good - I didn't like the character designs, they were all so emo compared to the light-hearted designs that Children of Mana had!

On emulator I also played one of the Zelda games, can't remember which one - think it was Link to the Past? I didn't get on so well with it because I'm fairly incompetent when it comes to navigating platforms and in Zelda you can fall off and lose a life, which I did pretty frequently! Still a fun game though ^^ I don't have very quick reflexes for gaming so I prefer games where I can sit and think and take my time. Another reason why I don't get on so well with RTS and FPS, I guess! I'd still like to play Portal on the PC sometime though.

Anyways, I've rambled enough - it's nearly midnight and I need to iron my costume before the dress rehearsal tomorrow!

P.S. Googling around I found a review for Cheetahmen II, that bloody terrible glitchy game Simon showed me, Aron and Wai San ages ago. LOL.
 
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NaBloPoMo Post #16: Books I'm reading   
10:49pm 19/11/2008
 
mood: busy
NaBloPoMo Post #16 - 19th November 2008

Augh, again, just back from rehearsal! Today I'm going to talk about books. As a child and right into teenage years I was an avid reader; once lost in a book I would happily forgo dinner, social activities and general communication with the rest of the household. I could sit and read a whole book from cover to cover in a sitting, especially if it was a favourite author, and sometimes just for the sake of finding out the ending. When HP7 came out I read the whole thing in an afternoon - not that it was particularly good, mind, but it's more just knowing how the blimmin' thing finished (finished like bad fanfiction, augh!)

However, these days I don't seem to read as much as I used to. The last book/series I was really addicted to was the Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch - they were so well written that I literally devoured them in a couple of days apiece. My trouble is that I don't read because I'm online - again, see how it all links back to getting the internet? XD I keep buying books when I haven't finished the ones I've got, too. So I'll start reading one, and then buy another and start reading that - subsequently I've got about five books on the go!

First Among Sequels - Jasper Fforde.
Jasper Fforde is a bit Pratchett-esque, in that the same old themes pop up in his books but you never really get tired of it because each old theme has a clever new twist. This is yet another in the Thursday Next series - Thursday Next is a literary detective in a 1984-type universe, who tracks down perpetrators of literary crimes (e.g. people trying to rewrite the ending to Pride and Prejudice etc). She has a unique ability to jump into the world of books so she can track down people that are trying to interfere with storylines etc. Jasper Fforde just inserts completely random crack into his books (e.g. Neanderthals, vampires, time paradoxes, you name it!), but it all works because the universe itself is so bizarre. Though dear God, some of his name puns are awful. Thursday's main love interest is Landen Parke-Laine (geddit?).

This Is Your Brain on Music - Daniel Levitin.
This is a really fascinating popular science book that looks at music and why we like it. It talks about some really awesome experiments that they did to demonstrate how brains reproduce sound. Did you know, every time you hear a note of music, your brain generates an electrical signal at the exact same frequency as the note being heard? They got an owl, planted some electrodes in its auditory cortex, and then played it Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz - except they cut out the vitally important beginning of each note. The brain takes most of its cues for sound processing from the initial moment when the note is created - when the hammer first strikes the string in a piano, when the bow first hits the string of a violin. But it can also figure out what the note is from the harmonics that follow that initial 'hit'. So this owl was just hearing the harmonics of the Blue Danube's notes, not the actual notes themselves, and yet when the electrical activity is converted to tones based on the frequency, you can hear the owl's brain playing the actual Blue Danube right back atcha!

Okay, so I'm a science geek, but ISN'T THAT TOTALLY AWESOME?! :D Although the book is aimed at the layperson it's still fairly heavy reading, but I would certainly recommend it to anybody who's interested in music.

And you know the question, can a tree falling down in an empty forest be heard if nobody is there? The answer is no! The tree falling down produces air disturbances that can only be translated to sound if a human or animal is there to receive it. So there we go!

Deafening - Frances Itani.
This is a romance story about a girl who goes deaf after scarlet fever at age four - it's set during the second world war and talks about how she goes to school to learn how to speak, and how she grows up. I'm quite interested in war history and this book was in a charity shop for 50p so I picked it up. It wasn't too bad a read, I'm not sure why I stopped halfway through. Have to pick it back up again.

Two Caravans - Marina Lewycka.
I borrowed this off Ho-man - it's by the person who wrote A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, which is a book I've kept picking up in Waterstones and putting back down again. This one is about strawberry pickers from the Ukraine/Poland etc who live in two caravans in a field. It's the sort of book that relies on the strength of its characters and the creation of a lifestyle. Truth be told, I'm not so sure why it was such a big hit - there's nothing that's made me think "Wow, this is good" so far. Though it has kept my interest which is more than Atonement ever did. However, it's written in the first person. I don't mind first person if it's done well, but I think my preferred viewpoint is third person overall. I'd be hard-pressed to tell you exactly why, but it may be because I prefer to formulate my own opinions of characters and scenes etc instead of just seeing one character's opinion on it. Or something.

Snow Falling On Cedars - John Guterson.
I went through a brief phase of wanting to read some classic novels, and this was one of them that I picked up from a bookshop in Liverpool for a few quid. I quite enjoyed this actually, though I still haven't finished. I took it home with me and forgot to bring it back! Will have to pick it up at Christmas or something. It's a murder mystery, almost - except so far it's all been set in the courtroom of the murder trial with flashbacks to give the reader an idea of the main players and how they interact within the small village in which it is set. A Japanese man is accused of murdering a trawler fisherman - this happens right after the second world war when there was still a lot of anti-Japanese sentiment, and indeed the Japanese Canadians were treated quite badly when the war broke out, even though a lot of them had been living there for years and were making an honest living. It's very well written - my pet hate with flashbacks is coming back to the real world and forgetting what has been going on, but this guides you back into the courtroom setting before going onto the next piece of evidence which is good.

It seems pretty certain that the Japanese guy did it, there is lots of evidence pointing to this, but being the Phoenix Wright fangirl that I am I'm just waiting for the lawyer to come up with some blinding contradiction that I haven't realised, to turn the whole case around XD He's made some good points already in spite of being a bit old and doddery in character so I'm rooting for him to get the guy off!

So that's a quick story about what I'm reading right now - in another post I'll talk about my favourite authors and why I like them :)

Ta ta for now!
 
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NaBloPoMo Post #15: Everything's going crazy - go go go!   
10:36pm 18/11/2008
  NaBloPoMo Post #15: 18th November 2008

This will be a quick entry, and so probably will be the remainder of the entries this month. I've just come back from a rehearsal, it's half ten, and given how tired I'm going to be for the next fortnight I should really go to bed on time. I've got another rehearsal tomorrow, Thursday was supposed to be the day I finally sat down and did some transcriptions but I've been invited out for dinner, Friday is the dress rehearsal and Saturday is the opening night! I will try and produce some longer entries on the weekends, that I can post during the week following, because there's no way in hell I'll have time otherwise.

Guess what I did today? I emailed the lady in charge of the Orthoptics masters degree at Sheffield. Turns out that this course is done once every two years, and so the next intake is 2009 - after which there won't be another course run until 2011. And they only require one year of clinical experience and sometimes take folks with less if there are places free. So you know what? I'm gonna go for it - I'm going to do a masters next September. I'm so excited! And oddly enough, I have this blimmin' NaBloPoMo to thank for it. Like I said yesterday, I'm not much of a one for planning out my future, and if I hadn't been writing about it, I wouldn't have gone back and looked at the website for the masters course, and it wouldn't have gotten me thinking about any of this stuff. Who'd've thought it, ne?

It's a pretty scary thought, actually. Start the course in September 2009, graduate in June 2012. By then I'll be 26! Twenty-bloody-six! If I hadn't thought about it and applied, then I wouldn't have been able to do it until 2011, and then I'd be nearly flippin' 30 by the time I graduated. Sheesh.

You know, it's funny when you're younger, the ideas that you have. Wai San asked me once, how old I would like to be before having kids. I said I wanted to have them younger than my Mum was when she had me, so I wouldn't be out of touch with what it was like to be young and have fun. I wanted to have them before I hit thirty. I dunno if that's gonna happen now, but I'll talk about my love life/lack thereof in another post sometime.

On a brighter note, turns out I did get into the Burns musical after all, despite how shite I was at the audition! They haven't cast the parts yet but it looks like I'll be in the chorus which suits me just fine :) I'm glad that all worked out okay.

Right, that's it from me - to bed!

P.S. I posted up Chapter Nine of Da Capo Al Fine yesterday. It had four good reviews within three hours of me posting it. Allow me to bask in the aura of my own ego for a few moments before I start panicking about when the hell I'm gonna find time to write the next chapter! XD I signed up for gyakusai swap after reading sarahofcroydon's post reminding folks to sign up. Boy, I kinda wish I hadn't. Hard prompts are hard! Mebbe I should draw instead of writing a fic...
 
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[NaBloPoMo Post #14: What next?]   
09:37pm 17/11/2008
  [NaBloPoMo Post #14: 17th November 2008]

I was listening to a song by Rie Fu earlier – ‘London’. In it some of the lyrics say “Everybody’s singing, watcha gonna do afterwards, what are you going to do when you graduate”. And it got me thinking about what I’d like to do in the future. Here I am, after graduation, in my first real job, and I know that this is what’s in front of me for the next year and a half (holy shit, I’ve been working here nearly six months already O_O). But it’s a two year contract – after that, it’s up to me whether I want to renew it or not.

I’ve never been particularly good at imagining where I’ll be a couple of years from now. To me it’s fantastic if I make it through to a new day, given the state of the world nowadays with all the crazy people living in it. And back when I was at Uni, the prospect of being a fully qualified orthoptist responsible for my own patients absolutely terrified me. I didn’t feel ready to face it – I couldn’t imagne myself doing it at all. Nonetheless, time passed inexorably and so here I am, and it all worked out okay. But now what, ne? It’s a bit strange, going through school and having everything geared towards that ultimate goal, getting into university, which in turn is geared towards that even higher goal, graduating and turning your hand to a profession. So I’ve done all that, and this is supposed to be the top of the pyramid. Okay, so there’s progression in your job and blah blah blah, you know, I’ll get upgraded a band when I have a year’s experience, and I can go and specialise etc etc.

But still… is that it?

I can’t help but feel a little disappointed :( I’ve worked so hard to get here, and while I love my job and I’m learning how to apply everything I was taught at university, I really miss… learning! I feel like there’s so much more I could know. I want to learn about more things, I love to engage my brain and get to grips with a tricky problem or concept. I don’t wanna lose brain cells because I’m not using them!

I went to a meeting with Helen today – it was the Allied Health Professions Advisory Council. This guy came to talk about this bid he was making to get £150m to restructure the hospital and how he wanted to design a clinical workforce strategy to justify the Scottish Government coughing up the cash. It was all couched in business terminology, and I was so bored that I was actually falling asleep right there in the little circle around the table. The dietician who was heading the meeting could see me and kept giving me funny looks, but I honestly can’t help it. It’s not that I was tired – I had a good night’s sleep. My brain just switches off when it’s not being adequately engaged, and when that switches off it’s night night for the rest of me too. Is it possible to have boredom-induced narcolepsy? XD As soon as the guy left and the health professionals started talking amongst themselves I switched right back on again and was wide awake!

Which just goes to show that I need challenging things to keep me happy and my brain active. That’s one of the reasons I went into orthoptics – every day is different and I have to stay on my toes. And it also goes to show that I will never, ever become a Head Orthoptist – my brain would slowly turn to mush having to attend all the boringboring meetings!
I think what I really want to do is one or more of the below:

1) Travel. Orthoptics is an internationally recognised profession, I can go and do it anywhere in the world because it is pretty much the same the world over. This is why our British Orthoptic publication has advertisements from Singapore, New Zealand, Jersey, Jerusalem and many other places. In addition I’ve discovered that the International Orthoptic Association offers exchange programs between member countries! So I could go practically anywhere I wanted :D I’d love to learn how things are done in other countries orthoptic-wise. I could visit Canada and bug alphonse1126, hyuk hyuk XD

2) Teaching. I love explaining things to people. I’m sure my patients get rather bewildered as I chatter away to them about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it! I would really love to be a clinical tutor, or a lecturer. Okay, so lecturer is pretty remote given there’s only two training schools, and I’d have to do a tonload of research to qualify, but clinical tutoring would be good!

3) Research. This would qualify me better to do the other two XD And fits in with the learning side of things. Plus, orthoptics is an area severely lacking in research. We’ve been doing patching treatment on kids since 1929 and yet the vast majority of research evidence supporting the treatment has only been done in the last three years! This is also, uh, what I’m best at, it seems. I kinda lack common sense a lot of the time and am generally a bit stupid, clinically speaking, but when it comes to analysing papers I’m the one teaching my co-workers O_o.

I get excited when I talk about #3. Actually, in general when I’m talking about orthoptic research I get kinda geeky ._. And overall it’s probably the best place to start, really. I’m taking a step in the right direction with this article for the orthoptic journal, at any rate.

But as for the answer to the original question – then what?

Well, I think I want to do a masters or a PhD. I think I’d probably start off with the masters first, as it’s a three year course done by distance learning – it’s research-based, so I would get experience of doing a research project, and then by the time I’ve completed a masters I will have sufficient clinical experience to be able to do a PhD project (and maybe figure out what the hell I wanna do as a PhD project XD), and hopefully enough money saved up to be able to self-fund it!

That’s a pretty long time period, actually. Two years up here, then another three years for the masters. Man, that seems like ages! And do I want to stay in Dumfries to do my masters, where I’d probably not get a lot of support on the research front, but at the same time it’d probably be easier to get the research done because it’s a smaller department and therefore not quite as busy?

But at the same time, I don’t want to be one of those people who works in the same place for a long period of time – most of the people working here have been since I was born!!

This entry raised more questions than it answered ><; But it’s food for thought, I suppose. I’ve been looking at the details of the masters degree and I may actually even be able to start it next September. It’s not as if the first year stuff is that difficult, nothing I haven’t done at Uni already!

How exciting!! Why didn’t I look at this before?

Maybe I do have a plan for the future after all :D
 
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NaBloPoMo Post #13: Liverpool and why I miss it   
10:08pm 16/11/2008
 
mood: morose
[NaBloPoMo Post #13: 16th November 2008]

Hi folks, I’m back from Liverpool! I had such a fantastic weekend and I am more than a little sad to have to leave to come back up to lonely Scotland :( I met up with loads of friends and had a lot of fun, and the Liverpool Anime Society J-Pop Disco all went okay too. The Guild of Students screwed us over like I had predicted and hadn’t given us any cables with which to plug the laptop into the sound system, but that was okay because I came prepared with CD-Rs! So it was just a case of whopping the music onto those and then ta-da, we had musics to dance away to until the tech guy turned up with the cable an hour later. So it was all good! I didn’t do as much dancing as I would have liked – when I dance and have things to drink I come down with the worst indigestion every time – but I still had a blast nonetheless, because I was putting on stuff like the Katamari Damacy theme and the Numa Numa dance. Much lol-age watching people going crazy dancing to them XD

Things I miss about Liverpool #1: Being able to hum the Leekspin song or Caramelldansen and have the people I’m usually with either go “NUUUUU” or do the dance :P

The weekend went by so quickly –I don’t think I ever really stopped! The next day we went to the new LiverpoolOne shopping centre, which was still being built and was only half-open when I had left back in the summer. They have loads of great food places there, they’ve got a wagamama and a Yo!sushi, and a burrito place and lots of other awesome food-stuffs. Had a mooch around, tried to get the nosepieces on my glasses replaced and frickin’ opticians tried to charge me £8! EIGHT QUID! For two bits of bloody silicone! Bloody opticians, always out to rip you off, all of them, much hatred =_= It was a pretty late lunch we had, as I was staying at Fi’s and needless to say I was up late chatting to people, being shown wonderful craziness on Youtube or spamming people on MSN. And abusing ninja15 on the phone, yay :D Which meant late starts most mornings – so by the time we finished lunch it was time to go back to get ready for the LAS screening.

Things I miss about Liverpool #2: LAS. I know most of our crowd have gone, but I was sooo happy to see Barry and Nat, and to glomp Rik and Neen and people. I have missed the general craziness that goes with LAS. I can’t wait till the allnighter this year :D

They showed Trigun! I’d forgotten how awesome Trigun is :D Then I left because I was trundling down to Mei Mei’s to meet Kev, Viv, Jackie, Chloe and Dan. I was still full from Wagamama’s but I had crabmeat and sweetcorn soup at Mei Mei’s and it was tasty. Viv’s going back to China today for two months – I shall miss her! *glomp*

Things I miss about Liverpool #3: Mass bitchfests with all of you guys! Heehee, me, Chloe, Jackie and Dan were putting the world to rights, that we were :D

The next day I went into town and did some shopping. I was supposed to go to the fabric shop to get calico and scope out the fabric range for this year’s cosplay projects but I never actually made it there at all for various reasons. I went into Lewis’ first and got me a gorgeous red top for £3, reduced from £18! Then I met up with Chloe and Jackie in the Egg Café for lunch. The Egg Café is a little vegetarian café tucked away behind Rapid Hardware and even if you’re not a vegetarian it’s a really good place to go to – I’ve always wanted to go there since Jackie and Chloe mentioned it and I’m so glad we did because it was the best cheese on toast I’ve ever had, and I also ate an interesting combination of lentil and apricot soup which was actually delicious!

After that we went for a mooch around the shops and I bought some fantastic ladybird socks from Primark, and some wooden tree decorations from Paperchase. I had to get the little painted wooden stars. Because, FUKO-CHAN ;_; (Only people who have seen Clannad will understand why Fuko-chan = ;____;)

Things I miss about Liverpool #4: Cheap shops and little cafes! I love going for a mooch around the shops in Liverpool. You never know what you’re going to find. I think I’ll need to go back for a week next time so I can visit all the shops I wanna go to XD

And I never made it to the fabric shop because by the time we’d eaten and been around the other shops it was too late to go, really.

So after that I met up with LAS peeps for dinner at Pizza Hut, and we went to see the new Bond movie, Quantum Solace.

Who else has seen it, and who else thinks that the opening song is absolutely terrible and the opening animations are like a Windows Media Player visualisation gone wrong? And dude, how many forms of transport can you incorporate as a chase into a single film? The only thing missing was one on a train – we had cars, planes and boats already! The rest of the film wasn’t too bad, though WHERE WAS Q?!?!!?! A whole film with no Q! I was sad D:

And for the record, Daniel Craig’s head is still too small for the rest of his body. Ever since Wai San pointed it out to me when we watched Casino Royale I have been unable to shake this fact from my head! I suspect the whole film is in fact filmed using a body builder and they photoshopped Daniel Craig’s head onto it in every frame. Srsly.

Things I miss about Liverpool #5: Having people to go to the cinema with. And just generally being able to phone people up and say "Hey, what are you doing tonight, wanna do such and such?"

The next day it was the day I was going home! I actually spent most of the morning in the house as Fi’s Dad was coming and we were going out for lunch. I helped Fi load up the car and then we trundled into town and had lunch at Café 53 which was very nice indeed, though for once I did not have one of their delicious milkshakes. You know that feeling, when it’s blue skies and you just really fancy a lemonade? So I had a lemonade. The service took a while because they kept forgetting about us! So by the time we finished lunch it was nearly half three and my train left at four, so I went to Worlds Apart (and bought nothing, because Dear God, they have put the prices up by such crazy amounts! They were wanting £7 for a teeny weeny Mokona keyring which I would have totally bought if it’d been £3. Ridiculous!) and that was about it. I’ll have to order calico off the internet, which is probably cheaper anyways XD

The train home was pretty boring. And I had a really embarrassing moment – the loos on Virgin trains have two buttons, one to shut the door and another to lock it. I thought I’d pressed them both but it turned out I hadn’t pressed the lock button because this old chav guy opened up the door and there I was sitting on the loo! And the fucking git, instead of closing the door he just stood there and laughed at me so I had to get up and press the shut door button myself. It was so embarrassing – I’m just glad it was on a train and I’ll never see that asshat again. But the otherwise boring shitty journey was brightened up by a completely geeky moment on my part, which I shall share so you can laugh and say how sad I am.

There was a Chinese guy in the aisle seat across from me who was watching Gundam00 on his laptop!! I was all excited and texted Fi who was like “Talk to him!” but I suddenly felt really embarrassed as he was pretty engrossed in the episode and I didn’t want to interrupt him, so I texted Fi some more and between us we figured out that he was watching season two and it was the episode that had come out today XD Then the conductor guy came for our tickets and I finally took the chance to say to Chinese guy “Hey, that’s a good series!” He just said “Oh yeah” and went back to watching it. So much for that! But he got off at my stop too, hurrah! So yes, that is my geektastic moment for the day, discovering that there is another anime fan in this town even though he wouldn’t actually talk to me :P

So now I am back up here and I am feeling a little morose because it is all quiet and I have nobody to talk to again D: Going back to Liverpool has just reminded me that I hide such a large part of myself up here and that I really don’t have any close friends. Most of the time it’s bearable but I guess coming back to visit reminds me of what I’m missing out on by not being a student anymore. I know you can’t be a student forever and that nearly all my friends who are in Liverpool will eventually graduate and go on to get jobs just like I have. I suppose it’s more the things I did as a student that I miss, and the time I had to spend with people. Going back to Smithdown and waiting at the bus stop by ASDA reminded me of first year, going there with bags of shopping to take back to Halls or to the Guild for some LAS event, or over to Sefton Park for a picnic

*sigh* I must stop now, or I really will start getting miserable. Gotta think about the future! At least I do still have all these fantastic people to go back and visit – it makes life up here just that little bit easier :)
 
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11:51pm 12/11/2008
  NaBloPoMo Post #12: 12th November 2008

For some reason, my internet connection is being supremely dumb and not
letting me onto LJ. Why? I don't know! It was fine before I left for
tonight's rehearsal, come back, and the only things I can access are Gmail,
BBC news and that's about bloody it! I suspect McAfee *glare* But I don't
have time to fix it right now. This is gonna be a really quick post today, I
didn't get out of rehearsal till quarter past ten and I really need an early
night as I have to get up early tomorrow to pack last minute bits. I'm all
set for the J-Pop Disco, hopefully got a good playlist lined up with lots of
old favourites. Am a bit worried there's too much J-Rock in the playlist for
a J-Pop disco, but then again so many OPs are done by J-Rock artists these
days that it really can't be helped! I think I'd get lynched if I left out
the Death Note opening, and no J-Pop disco should be without a good RAWK-OUT
session to God Knows, HEY JIMMY! and a Bleach/Naruto OP or two. I've popped
in a fair few cheesy ones to make up for it (Inuyasha OP, anybody?
XD)



I have too much music and not enough time to play it in! I think on the
train I'm gonna have to sit there with my laptop and be really ruthless to
try and cut the playlist down.



I'm really looking forward to going to Liverpool because I will get to see
loads of people I haven't seen in ages. I get to be a bit more myself, too.
I hide such a large part of myself up here – people at work don't have a
clue about half the things I do with my spare time. That's why it's also
important I spend less time online and more time doing other things so I can
say "I did this last night" as opposed to being totally unable to say that I
spent the whole evening writing fanfiction XD



So that's it from me for this weekend. This is probably the shortest post
I've ever written for NaBloPoMo! I'm a bit sad that I won't be able to keep
up the daily posting over the weekend, but I just don't have the time to
write entries in advance so it's unavoidable. Plus I shall be busy having
fun with friends. You can hear all about it when I come back ^^



Post again Sunday!
 
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