Wheee fun game!

Various updates, one sentence each. Go!

Christmas was awesome.

Hero and Batman Begins were great movies.

Raijin's BIOS vanished mysteriously and great wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued.

Advanced Wars DS is addictive.

I'm going back to college on Monday.

My sister loved my Christmas present to her enough to show 73h 1n74rw3b.

I haven't updated here in a long time, whoops.



Mary Kristmus

All across the internet, people are making blog posts titled "Merry Christmas", do not fall victum to this virus. Use these helpful tips in avoiding the disease.

1. Upon realizing a desire to wish random strangers a feliciatous occaision, supress it when nearing keyboards.

2. Concentrate on distracting elements such as Video Games, Photoshop and Pie.

3. Mispell it.

This should afford you the opportunity of a safe and unhazardous Christmas, merry or otherwise.



I'm home, for all of you who were not informed by my e-mails, phone calls and personal visits. I haven't updated for a while because I've been settling in, recovering from jet lag, and wrapping presents.

And playing a few games.

However, today I can find no joy, because a great and terrible cataclysm took place that really, really, REALLY ruined what has otherwise been a fine example of a week. This disaster is my own Mt. Saint Helens, an Atlantean scale catastrophe (well, at least in my limited outlook on things).

Raijin bit the dust, HARD.

Raijin, that work of love that was the PC I built myself, randomly suffered some odd symptoms this morning. Concerned, I shutdown and restarted. Raijin failed to boot. Then Raijin booted and Windows informed me that it needed to check one of my disks for errors. It did so, and did a lot of deleting of things that made me uncomfortable (and rightly so). Windows booted, and I thought at first that all was in the clear.

I watched as my desktop came into view. And I thought all was well. That was, until about 15 minutes later and the start menu still hadn't appeared. It turns out that about 50% of the vital functions of Windows had been deleted, including Task Manager, the Start Menu, Search, and everything short of the kitchen sink.

The brilliant piece of art known as Windows found a way to destroy the beautiful redundancy of even a RAID array. You have to give Microsoft props for that, that takes skill.

The result? I'm not a happy camper, not a bit. There's the possibility that the whole thing might be related to a part of faulty hard drives, but I can't be certain until after I reinstall Windows. The whole thing really puts in jeopardy the merriness of my Christmas, as well as my programming plans for the next semester. Given Raijin's history, it hasn't exactly been a staple of trustworthiness. Not to mention that I can't play some of my favorite video games.

So at the moment, I'm mournfully watching as Setup formats the new RAID array.




Last night it finally struck me like the smell of a skunk as it passes by your open, ground floor window. My time in Japan is not endless. I will not be visiting the library for periodic contact with my family backhome, studying Japanese most of the week, beating people with a large, bamboo stick (and vice versa), playing Monopoly with my host parents, or being ribbed by Jason. I will be in America in four days.

I literally cried.

I don't know if the Taiko drums I got to play earlier that day contributed, or if the cleaning up my room in preparation for the laundry and packing I'll be doing these next few days was either. What I know is a combination of events culminating in walking home alone singing hymns to myself after a day of test acing, Japanese activity participating, host family talking, Kendo club dining, karaoke singing and picture booth taking, resulted in a minor breakdown before bed.

I didn't do a whole lot with my fellow ryuugakusei. Sure, I had classes with them, and I didn't shun them. But while they were out doing things together, I was with my host family and the Kendo club. I was in Japan to be with the Japanese, and I lived accordingly.

Now, I've become extremely attached to various Japanese people, more than I ever realized. The kindness and care they showed the bumbling, nerdy gaijin who stumbled into their world with a excited but wide eyes was greater than I had ever imagined possible. When the fact that I would indeed be leaving sank into my psyche, it was like being shot. My senses simply numbed, and not because of the fifteen degree temperatures.

It really sank in when, after the long list of events featured earlier, one Kendo Club member wrote on the photo booth photos we took "Don't forget us" before they were given to me. Suddenly, just how important these people were to me, and likewise me to them, became dead apparent. It had been there the whole time, growing, and it burst into blossom right then. The sorrowful beauty of something at it's utmost peak, a flower who can only look forward to its end.

Flowers never bloom alone. Just as it was revealed to me how important the Kendo Club was, a catalytic chain of revelation ensued, as one person after another popped into my mind. I probably could have been set on fire and not noticed.

I have chained myself to Japan. These chains will not break, and they will forever be pulling me back here. Even as I am on the other side of the world, the chains will bite into me soul and remind me, "Your friends wait for you in Japan."

I have joked many times I've doomed myself to be eternally homesick, but the magnitude of my curse was never before apparent to me. I was blissfully ignorant of how much I would miss everyone, despite how much I missed my family at home. No matter where I go, my heart will long to rest in both places at once.

How I wish that God would grant me some small part of his power, that he can be in two places at once. If only I too, if only.



This is the final draft of a speech I have to give this coming Thursday. Included below is first the english and, for anyone who might be capable, the Japanese translation which I will deliver, enjoy.


Before coming to Japan, I prepared for my trip. I watched anime, listened to music, read books, everything japanese I investigated. Always Japan was incredible. But, the trip became scary because many unknown things in the trip there were. However, I fought my fear and came to Japan.

After arriving in Japan, my future was still uncertain. However, because my host family were very kind, and because they spoke very good english, I felt welcome. They have fed me great food, shown me great things, and helped me always. I will miss them more than anyone or anything when I return to America.

Together we have done many things. My host father has taught me shogi. My host mother has watched movies with me. All of us have gone sightseeing and played my favorite american boardgame Monopoly. Because they are incredibly kind, I have learned a lot about Japan and japanese.

My senseis have worked hard to teach me japanese, the Kendo club members have been patient as I learned Kendo, and Jason has given insight into life in Japan through his classes. The hard work I have seen has encouraged me to do my best. Whatever I have needed to do, I have been able to do because of the people here.

Everyday everyone has been extremely kind. I can not thank everyone enough for this wonderful experience. Japan has become my home, and I am sad to have to leave. I will think of Japan everyday after returning to America, just as I have thought of America everyday while in Japan. I want to come back to Japan whenever I can because of the kindness you have shown me.

Thank you very much.


日本へ くるまえに、わたしは りょこうのじゅんびを しました。アニメを みたり、おんがくを きいたり、ほんを よんだり、日本のすべてを しらべました。いつも 日本は とても すごかったです。でも、 りょこうが こわく なりました なぜ なら たくさんのしらないことが りょこうに ありましたから。

日本に ついてから、わたしは まだ 日本のせいかつが わかりませんでした。しかし、わたしのホストファミリは とても しんせつで、英語が とても じょうずでしたから、わたしは うれしかったです。ホストファミリは わたしに おいしい たべものを つくってくれたり、すごい ところを みせてくれたり、いつも てつだってくれました。アメリカえ かえってから、だれよりも なによりも ホストファミリを なつかしく おもうでしょう。

わたしたちは いっしょに いろいろ なことを しました。ホストおとうさんは わたしに しょうぎを おしえてくれました。ホストおかあさんは わたしと えいがを みました。わたしたちは みんなで かんこうに いきました そして、わたしのいちばんすきなボウドゲーム モノポリを しました。ホストファミリは とても しんせつ ですから、わたしは たくさん 日本と日本語 について ならいました。

北星の先生は ねっしんに 日本語を おしえてくれました、 けんどうクラブのみなさんは がまんづよく けんどうを おしえてくれました。ジェイソン先生は げんきゅうしつで 日本のせいかつに ついて くわしく おしえてくれました。 おかげで わたしは ひつようなこと すべて できるように なりました、みんなさん から。

毎日 みなさんは とても しんせつ でした。この すばらしい けいけんが できたことに かんしゃしています. いま 日本は わたしのこきょうに なりました。日本を はなれなければ なりません わたしは かなしい です. アメリカに かえた あと 毎日 日本を なつかしく おもうでしょう、日本に いるあいだ 毎日 アメリカのことを おもいだしていたように。 みなさんは わたしに しんせつ にしてくれましたから、いつか わたしは 日本へ かえってきたいです。

どうも ありがとう ございました。



Triple update today, be sure to check it all out.

Be sure to give me feedback on the idea presented at the end of this particular entry, especially names!

There are a lot of thing I like to do. I have plenty of hobbies, and my devotion to them all is obvious given how I am complete unable to properly do much in any of them as I am too busy figuring out which I want to do at the moment. That's not to say I never actually get to reading books, writing books, writing music, playing sports or whatnot, but more to say that I never actually am able to devote consistant time to each because of the competition between them.

As such, I have a designated hobby. That is to say, video games.

Recently it has come to my attention that video game reviews both in magazines and on the web are wholey and completely useless. There is little they afford in terms of useful information. Certainly, you'll get a basic concept of the premise of the game, whether or not the controls are utter crap, and whether or not there is any sound or music whatsoever. However, you could deduce most of that from a ten second video. When it comes to game reviews, I most often find myself longing for some hard information that actually pertains to the depth of a game.

Additionally, it has come to my attention that game scores are highly inflated. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent did not deserve anything about a three or four on a scale from one to ten, and that high a score was simply for the fact that the game had music, had graphics, and was technically playable. Yet, reviews were consistantly around six to seven for the game. I would have given the game a two.

Beyond simply horrid games, good games are inflated as well. The scores on the mediocre offerings of the Xbox 360 are enough proof. Madden 2006 for the Xbox 360 got only half a point less score on average than its PS2 counterpart, despite having only half the features, marginally improved graphics, and a plethora of game crippling bugs. Aside from that, the game was apparently fun. However, it just seemed odd that there wasn't a game that scored less than seven in the Xbox 360 launch lineup, despite the "meh" reactions to most of the games from the people who played them.

While studies show that marketing blitz effects sales and reviews are actually a non-factor for the majority of the gaming public, I know what bothers me and I intend on doing something about it.

A while ago, one of the other ryuugakusei (foreign students) said he wanted to write video game reviews for a magazine. I said I preferred reading independant websites such as Penny-Arcade and 1up.com for my reviews, as they seemed less likely to be biased about what games rocked, and what games sucked. He suggested we should start a website, we had a nice talk about it but in the end nothing came of it.

However, it seems to me that since my designated hobby is playing video games, I should not keep my experience to myself. Rather than sit around and bemoan the lack of truly informative reviews, I should try my hand at making my own.

I've actually already done this to an extent. Epinions offered a nice outlet for reviewing things. However, the lack of support for niche and foreign titles (such as the Japan-only DS titles I've picked up here) as well as the feeling of being lost in the waves of other reviewers turned me off, despite the fact that my reviews for some games were widely used to promote those games at various websites (such as this one).

So, something I want to do in the near future (which is likely not to take shape until after I graduate college) is to start my own full fledged website for reviewing games. Admittedly, as one man there won't be a whole lot I can do, but I'm certainly going to do it. If I'm going to be buying games anyway, I might as well tell the world what I find. I love writing anyway, I love fiddling around with HTML, I love web based attention, and so I'll be combining all this with my love for video games.

As such, I'll need an appropriate name and theme for my site. I'll probably go with a similar graphical scheme to this blog. As for the name, I don't know yet. There are some ideas listed below, but I'd appreciate any suggestions.



Tell me your thoughts!

Caution: Desktop Audio

CAUTION: Desktop Audio devices are dangerous objects and not to be misused. Follow the above guidelines or serious injury and/or death may occur.

If you see anyone using an desktop audio device in any of the hazardous manners shown above, especially if they are a ninja, keep a safe distance away from the party involved.


Last night I won my first Kendo match! Booyaka!

Here are the details.

The Kendo club was split into two teams. Whichever team won the most matches would win overall. I was selected to lead the way by going first. Things looked grim because my opponent, Ichiro, was one of the better Kendo players.

I very successfully deflected his attacks (much to my surprise as much as everyone elses'), and strategized a devious strategy. I would keep repeating the same two attacks over and over, lulling him into a false sense of security regarding the other attacks I knew. Then, I would strike at an opportune moment and surprise him.

It worked! I continually attacked "men" (the head) and "kotei" (the hands) while avoiding "do" (the body). When I saw his guard relaxed, I struck with do and scored! I was ecstatic.


One week from now at this time, I will be flying home. It's amazing how fast it all went by. It feels like just yesterday I was a bewildered foreigner stammering out single japanese words in poor attempts to communicate. Now, I'm a bewildered foreigner stammering out three or more words in poor attempts to communicate.

I don't want to leave, but I'm looking forward to being home.



A recent past time of mine has been to spend about thirty minutes a day laughing at the complete idiocy of a very specific group of people. To be specific, the majority of people who play Paladins in World of Warcraft and post to the official forums.

So that at least part of this is interesting to the general public, I will start with a rant which is related to my pastime, but doesn't require intense knowledge of World of Warcraft or video games to understand. Following that will be boring video game related things few of you will care about.

I also am thinking of one person in particular who should probably be doing something else than reading this, especially given the subject. You know who you are, what you should be doing, and what will happen to you when I return home in eleven days and find out you neglected something for this.

Anyway, begin rant on "unadaptability".

Forenote: I liberally use some terms such as "idiot" in the following rant. I do note that while these terms are used I have an understanding that the internet turns people into jerks, including me, and that any idiotic tendencies in a person are highly exaggerated by internet exposure. As such, I would expect that the people I refer to and rather blatantly assault are better people in real life.

Now that the apology is out of the way, the rant can truly begin.

One of the major traits I cherish and am proud to possess even a little of is adaptability. It allows me to beat chess players who use a predictable strategy, to change my monopoly plans in a flash, and eat strange japanese foods I never knew existed. Adaptability is a nice thing to have.

That's not to say I'm perfectly adaptible. I enjoy consistency quite a bit, very much evident from my homebody and anti-social personality. If there's any situation where the unadaptable side of me is extremely evident, it is a social one. I rarely modify my behavior for different groups of people or situations. I am always me.

I think that being too adaptable is just as bad as being too unadaptable. While being too unadaptable obviously has its drawbacks, being too adaptable kills consistency in life. It's hard to "settle" on anything if you are always adapting "perfectly" to a new situation. However, I don't meet a lot of overadaptable people.

The vast majority of internet idiots I have encountered are extremely unadaptable. Whether in regards to other person's opinions, new trends, or the ever changing state of the internet. Quite simply, these people lack any ability to change as everything else does. Arguing with them is like arguing with a three year old, logic has nothing to do with it. They can not conceive of a different way of doing things than is already in place, and any suggestion that things could be done in a different way or might even have to be done a different way is the worst insult imaginable.

The story goes something like this.

1. X part of life of the internet changes.
2. Unadaptable person complains about X.
3. Adaptable person explains logically how it won't be very difficult to adapt to X, and will only require minor changes.
4. Unadaptable person "refutes" their opponent vigorously, making sure to tell them they are wrong and everything was better before X.
5. Adaptable person is confused as the logic and the new situation both back up the argument that adaption is both easy, and the result is better than life before X.
6. Unadaptable person continues to "refute" their opponent with "facts".
7. Adaptable person points out that the "facts" are entirely and solely related to the way the unadaptable person already does things, and how the same thing can be done with slight modifications, better.
8. Unadaptable person doesn't waver in their belief that X is a terrible injustice and that the world will now end.

And so on.

It really is quite striking how vicious the unadaptable can get about not adapting, only equalled by the retribution the adaptable sometimes mete out in return.

A nice example is a fierce interaction of me and my brother vs an entire forum. A person had posted the following problem from a math test:

"There is a town in which the inhabitants have no means of communication. There is a rule in this town stating that anyone with a mark on their forehead must kill themselves. The population met once a day, for three days, after which everyone who needed to be dead had killed themselves.

How many people had marks on their heads?"

Up until the point we entered the discussion, people had been arguing about how there wasn't enough information to solve the question, how there wasn't any way people couldn't communicate, or how people could have just waited for rain and looked in puddles or found a mirror somewhere. We joined a little ways into the discussion, with a very logical and mathematical solution.

Our solution stated the following.

"We must assume there is at least one marked person, because otherwise this problem would not state that it was after the third meeting that everyone who needed to be dead had killed themselves.

At the town meeting, everyone can see everyone else, but not themselves. If a person sees no marked people, they know that they must be a marked person (as there is at least one). However, if a person sees a marked person, they can not tell as there is at least one and not only one marked person. They might be marked as well. The same can be said for any number of marked people a person sees.


If there is one marked person, they will see only unmarked people and know they are marked. This person will know to commit suicide after the first meeting.
Everyone else sees a marked person, and can not conclude whether or not they are marked.
Result: After the first meeting the marked person commits suicide and everyone who needs to be dead is. Everyone else comes to the second meeting and can conclude they don't have marks on their heads. If there was a mark, the marked person they saw would not have been able to conclude they were marked and would not have committed suicide.

If there are two marked people, they will see one marked person and can not conclude their status as marked or unmarked.
Everyone else will see two marked people, and also can not come to a conclusion.
Result 1: After the first meeting no one commits suicide, and everyone returns to the second meeting.
At the second meeting, the marked people each see that the other person did not commit suicide. They can conclude that the other therefore must have seen a marked person, and since they can see no other people they must also be marked.
Everyone else still can not come to a conclusion.
Result 2: After the second meeting the pair of marked people commit suicide. Everyone else goes to the third meeting and sees that the marked people are gone, and they now know they weren't marked.

If there are three marked people, they will each see two marked people. Because of that, they will act like the "everyone else" from the previous scenario, and wait until the third meeting before being able to confirm that they are marked. Everyone else will see three marked people and will wait until the fourth.
Result: After the third meeting the three commit suicide, and everyone who needs to kill themselves has.

There's the solution. For X number of people who are marked, X number of meetings must take place, after which everyone who needs to be dead has killed themselves.

Admittedly, neither this explanation nor the one I immediately gave is entirely flawless. However, the flaws are presentational only, with the logical not being expressed in pure perfection. The reaction to the solution was rather interesting.

Absolutely no one agreed with it. Not one other person thought we were right. It wasn't our logic that was wrong, we just apparently misunderstood the problem.

Any one of the following reasons were brought up for why we were wrong, and sometimes all at once:

1. The people probably could have seen themselves in a mirror or a puddle and known in the first place.
2. There's no possible way people can't communicate unless they can't see, hear, feel, taste, or smell.
3. How can people meet if they can't communicate?
4. How can people even know the rule if they can't communicate?
5. Why would a person commit suicide when they could just as easily forget the rule?
6. Better yet, they could purposely not do so, all the other sheep would commit suicide, and you could take their stuff, become rich, and go to some proper village where people can talk.
7. "After the third meeting everyone who needed to commit suicide was dead" doesn't mean they couldn't have been dead beforehand.

The general conclusion reached was that there was no solution to the problem.

We countered with the following:

1. The problem was on a Math test.
2. Math tests require concrete answers.
3. Therefore, this problem has a concrete answer.

It all went downhill from there. People brought up points such as, "The teacher might just be sadistic" or "People can make mistakes when making a problem". Despite the fact that we had a concrete solution, and the only refutations were entirely speculative in nature, no one changed their minds.

While I'll give some blame to my poor original wording of the solution, and the subsequent failure of my three revisions thereafter, I came to the eventual conclusion that the problem was largely in the inability of the other people to move out of the mindset they had started with and consider the problem from a different angle. The idea of actually listening to the problem when it said, "People can't communicate" just was too much of a reach. In short, by the time we arrived they had already become "set" into one way of thinking about the problem, and couldn't adapt into another.

The discussion burned down in flames.

I have, as I said, now taken particular interest in watching people show off their complete inability to adapt.

Thus ends the rant, and begins the second part which is even more boring and tedious than the first. Anyone who is unfamiliar with World of Warcraft should end here, and anyone else might want to for the sake of sanity. There is one person in particular I mentioned before who should be elsewhere to begin with, WHY ARE YOU READING THIS?!?!


Over the course of months the various classes of WoW have been being revamped to be more fun, more interesting, and more diverse. These changes are based half in changes made to their respective ways of fighting, and half in their talents.

The Paladin class has long been awaiting their revamp, having been rather upset at the unannounced change from the strike system to the seal system between beta and launch. A few things have been given to them here and there, but this patch is the one which will be bringing them up from the depths to which they plunged and into a world of fun.

That is, if you don't listen to the whining on the official forums.

The amount of froth being spat about the forums is incredible. Even in the most rotten of internet forums, I have never seen whining of such magnitude. It is so incredibly bad that what the actual facts say is almost completely unknown. Most of all, it is completely histerical, knowing some of the facts, watching it all.

Before I even begin, the changes were not perfect at the outset and still aren't (it wouldn't be being tested right now if they were complete). However, whining is not feedback, it is whining. The only people who listen to whining are bad parents.

Firstly, the non talent based changes are summarized as follows. Paladin seals cost a little more, and judgement costs a heck of a lot less. Debuffing judgements now last indefinately, so long as the Paladin is hitting the target. Additionally, Paladins can judge faster, at range, can stun faster, can now use their anti-undead spells against demons as well, and a particular skill (Seal of Command) now hits more often for less damage, but unmodified evens out in the end.

That all is pretty neat. However, there was general outcry about each of these changes. Paladins cried about seals costing more, declared loudly that judgement was already useless and being able to use it more often was worthless, sniffed at the indefinate debuffs, whined that judging at range defeated the purpose of being a melee fighter, called the new demon destroying powers pointless, and screamed that Seal of Command was now worse.

Despite the fact that with the exact same build as before, you'd be doing the same damage as before, for the exact same cost, people whined. Despite the fact that with a few easy tweaks you could be laying on more damage, more consistantly, and without the need to wait around for lady luck, people whined. Despite the numerous fine tunings and excellent small changes that added up to something big which I can not even begin to list, people acted like Blizzard had done as much work as a dead monkey on Sunday.

Specifically, Seal of Command had the exact same DPS, just more reliable. However, the extra power you could pour into just the seal allowed for greater DPS, and the new power of the Judgement added more on top of that. While the very last option mentioned cost (*gasp*) mana, the others didn't.

Even more hilarious, there's the possibility that higher ranks of the Seal do more damage, proc more often, or both. It's possible that such isn't the case, but as any thread asking people to try and find out is instantly swamped with naysayers and whiners who are just parroting whining to the contrary, we may never know.

The whines about the talent changes were even worse.

A good number of new talents were added, a lot of old ones were combined into one talent, gave the same or greater affects for fewer talent points, or both, and some more vital ones were made more accessible. The changes were extremely promising, and obviously still being reworked.

Whining ensued. People complained about every little change. They complained the combined talents were just combinations of useless talents into a single, useless talent. They complained that the accessibility of some of the more vital talents was still bad. They complained about each and every new talent. They whined incessantly about everything.

It was hilarious. A lot of whining centered around a particular palent called Pursuit of Justice, which increases Paladin running and mount speed somewhat. The decription is honestly poorly worded, as it states that it does not stack with "movement increasing effects", but testing shows that this nonstacking is limited to things such as potions and spells, as opposed to stats on gear (including enchants). The result? While it will not stack with potions and the offchance of a hunter running along side you with Aspect of the Pack, it will do more than replace an enchant on your boots.

You wouldn't know it if you listened to all the whining. Consistantly people cry out that it doesn't stack at all, and as such is useless (despite the fact that to achieve the same affect requires one enchant and four items).

It's absolutely incredible the amount of unadaptability being shown. Basically, every poster's complaints can be boiled down to this, "Blizzard didn't boost the talents I was already using, but instead made the ones I didn't use worthwhile and added other useful ones as opposed to making the already useful ones godly." The other whining can be similarly summarized, just replace "talents" with "skills".

It just strikes me as utterly hilarious, especially since half of the people complaining haven't even played the test server to find out what is up for themselves.

Certainly, everything isn't perfect. Sanctity Aura is still a little selfish, the judgement refreshes are currently bugged, and the strange bug which prevents one from using Seal of Command of a particular rank until you log out still persists. However, the remaining problems that may not be fixed are rather small, and not unfixable in the future.

If all the whiners actually follow through on their word, my Paladin's services will be in demand.

What ho!


Twelve Days of Japan

Only Twelve days, including the meagre hours left to me now of today, are left in my time in Japan. This is something that has crept into my mind as a both a great happy upcoming event and a great unhappy upcoming event.

Several parts of me want to go home. Several parts of me want to stay. They are organized from most homesick to most Japan sick, with a clear line seperating the sides.

1. The part that wants to see my family.
2. The part the longs for a Pepperoni Pizza cheaper than $32.
3. The part wishing to use words like, "eloquent" and "flabbergast" without needing to explain the history of English.
4. The part wanting to open Christmas presents.
5. The part wanting to present Christmas presents.
6. The part hoping I can instantly be transported home so as not to need to give this speech I'm writing.
7. The part that wants to play all the video games I left behind.
--Mid Line--
8. The part which lost and won a number of video games to Kendo club members.
9. The part that took far too many photos in the first two weeks, but didn't regret it.
10. The part who jubilantly spoke "Tadaima" upon returning home.
11. The part which enjoyed learning Japanese, even at a slow pace.
12. The part that came to rely on Jason Barrows' zaniness to sustain my weirdness fix.
13. The part that might wonder where all the aches and pains of Kendo went.
14. The part longing for games of Monopoly, meals, and experiences with my host family.

There's more than that, but you needed it all in a nutshell, and not one the size of Boston.

In conclusion, I give you the following:

"Behold, the hour has arrived! The Holy Temple of Firefury Amahira has been unearthed!" proclaims Yon-Zhauryg v'Klot, leader of the Cult of the Undead Inflammable monkey.


Define: Good Luck

Query resulted with the following answer:

1. Me

Just a few days ago, I played a game of Monopoly with my host parents that ended in disaster. It was a shocking defeat. Being in the perfect position to win, I lost. I couldn't believe it.

The exact opposite thing happened today.

I was in the perfect position to lose. A blunder on the part of my Okaasan netted my Otousan an early Monopoly of the orange group. He was also quite rich, having landed on free parking a number of times. This spelled certain doom, despite the trade I made with my Okaasan netting her monopolies with the red and yellow groups and myself monopolies with the violet and powerful dark blue groups. We simply didn't have money, and he did.

It got worse for me when my Okaasan did come across money, because now I was a mouse between two titans. My Railroads kept me alive for a while, netting me a good two hundred dollars every now and then. I struggled to keep my houses on Boardwalk and Park Place. Finally everything was mortgaged save those two properties, and one house had been knocked off of Park Place, leaving it with only two and Boardwalk with 3.

Sitting on St. James place (which had just fleeced me), I could see very few likely scenarios (none) that would lead me to victory. One titan or the other would crush me, and it was simply a matter of time.

For a moment, a glimmer of hope appeared when I landed on Free Parking, but it was immediately followed by my landing on a yellow property with four houses. In order to pay the debt, I would have to sell my houses.

I decided to cling to life like a drowning cat, and negotiated to give away my violet monopoly, and a couple miscellaneous properties in lieu of money. The reasoning being I could pay, but it would be more beneficial for my Okaasan to make sure she grabs my property, as opposed to my Otousan. I doubted I would be able to cancel anything but a pithy debt with my mortgaged railroads, but I still had my houses.

Then, my Okaasan landed on Boardwalk (thanks to a well timed chance card). I netted $1100. That money kept me alive long enough to land on Free Parking again, and take another hit on top of that. I was living by the skin of my teeth, but I was living.

I made it safely to Pacific, just past GO TO JAIL, and breathed a brief sigh of relief. I would make it to GO, net another two hundred, and possibly my Okaasan might land on my property and keep me afloat longer once I did get that far.

This miraculous series of events then transpired.

My Okaasan landed on Park Place, netting me $600.
I gambled, built three more houses (bringing the total to four each) and rolled a four, also landing on Short Line.
My Otousan landed on the Short Line, but it was Mortgaged.
I joked, "Okaasan ni!" (Okaasan two, indicating I wished her to roll a two).
My Okaasan rolled a two. I got $1700.
I rolled a four, landing on Boardwalk. I joked, "Otousan yon!" (Otousan four).
My Otousan rolled a four. I got another $1700.

This huge hit on both my opponents dehoused most of the board. I bought back the property I had given my Okaasan, and built it up. Avoiding all danger in another trip around the board (and landing on Free Parking again), I watched as both my opponents landed on the now fully armed and operational Park Place netting me a nice $1500 each. The remaining houses vanished, my Okaasan went out on the violet monopoly, I unmortgaged all her property, and fully built up the red and yellow monopolies. My Otousan didn't make it past the violets.

Victory was mine.

It was insane, I had been on the brink of death, I had zero dollars exactly, and only a faintest prayer of life. In fifteen minutes I went from the brink of death to a rebirth and vitality unheard of. It was impossible, but it happened.

Luck is obviously fickle, or at least likes to play around with people. Luck said to me these past two days, "Look at this! Behold that I can supplant all your skill or lack thereof and bring you victory or defeat on a whim!"

Obiwan Kenobi obviously was being more witty than insightful when he said, "In my experience there's no such thing as luck."


Some Games Need Sequels

Sequels get bashed a lot these days. People complaining about Final Fantasy XII, the reiteration of the same FPS: The Shooting gameplay, or the mere updated statistics of EA's latest sports title are a dime a dozen. I could spend a lifetime describing why these games become boring, why these sequels suck etc. But for the sake of getting to my point, I'll just you all know as well as I do that there's a point after which sequels become stupid.

However, before this point, sequels have a large potential to rock. While we have our share of failed sequels, we need only look as far as the five incredible Megaman games on the NES, the many Sonic games on the Genesis, and we won't even mention Mario. Sequels can rock hard, so long as they do not wear thin the premise.

I can think of a good many unique games out there that simply need sequels. These titles were original, cool, full of story and style, and downright fun to play. Yet these games are also the victums of failed companies, being cult classics, or just bad luck. However, given that titles such as Ninja Gaiden have been revived, and that sequels to old greats have been attempted (if failed), there is hope.

This is a list of a few games that really need sequels. These are not games that are currently slated to get them. We all know Halo 3 is coming, that we'll get another Final Fantasy, and that Mario will make another appearance. The following games currently have no slated sequels or, honestly, a snowball's chance in hell of getting one (or so it seems).

:Evil Genius:

This is the most recent of the games on this list. This game succeeded brilliantly at the same time Goldeneye: Rogue Agent failed miserably. Both had the premise of you being the villain in a world of spies, minions, and supervillains. However, Evil Genius was the complete antithesis of the burning trainwreck that was Rogue Agent.

Evil Genius put the player in the role of the criminal mastermind. You were your own Moriarty, and that was a great thing to be. Being an Evil Genius, you had to build a lair on some deserted island somwhere, recruit minions, do dastardly deeds in the world, build traps for pesky agents, and eliminate the top super agents sent to destroy your evil plans. Throw in all sorts of 60s spy thriller spoofs, and you have one heck of a game.

Sadly, the company that made this gem imploded shortly after announcing they were going to make the sequel. Evil Genius 2 now resides in limbo.

:Eternal Darkness:

If you have a Gamecube, you need to have this game. It shouldn't be hard to get, it was a launch title and they overmanufactured it (partly why no sequel is in sight).

The premise? Fighting zombies. What seperates it from all those other zombie killing survival horror games? A killer, killer story that spans ages, puzzles, exploration, the absolute best english voice acting I've ever heard in a video game ever, and most importantly fourth wall breaking effects based on a unique meter which measures your sanity.

I won't go deep into that last one, because that would spoil it. However, know that as your sanity meter drops, things that shouldn't happen do, and it gets really, really freaky.

The replayability is incredible too, there are enough of these effects that it won't be until the third play through that you'll be able to recognize 90% of them.

The game isn't a trigger fest, but more Myst meets Resident Evil.

Sadly, the company that made the game has not announced a sequel, probably because the game was a launch title, overmanufactured, and can be easily found for less than ten dollars new.

:Snake, Rattle and Roll:

Back in the early years of my life, before I recognized different companies made the games I played, there was Snake, Rattle and Roll. Made by Rare (a company now famous for all sorts of reasons), the game was insane. Literally.

How many games have you play as a snake which has to eat different colored balls which move in different and uniquely funny ways (wings, magical carpets, walking around, springs etc.) to pass a level, all the while avoiding rogue records, toilet seats, and giant feet?

The music was great, the style was off the wall, the controls were tight, the objectives clear, and overall the greatest and most wonderful game on the NES period. This is coming from a guy who love Duck Hunt and Excitebike like crazy.

Sadly, Rare never showed interest in a sequel. The game deserves one, badly.

Thus concludes my list. Look up these games, play them, and enjoy them. They rock.


Define: Bad Luck

Query retrieves the following definition:

1. Me

Some of you may remember my firey entry regarding my resolve to win the next game of Monopoly I played. Some of you may remember that I resolved to use every power I had to that end. I only managed the latter.

Oh how I managed it too. Using my skills, I piled up a ton of cash, netted myself three monopolies for the cost of giving my opponents one a piece, and built up fully said monopolies with plenty of money to spare. The remotest chances of my losing required one of the following two scenarios.

1) On my first turn after arranging this, I land on Park Place, followed by rolling a two to land on Boardwalk, followed by rolling an eight, landing on chance, and drawing the "Take a Walk on Boardwalk" card.

2) One opponent dies on the other, who begins to reap the slow rewards of the monopolies gained and, landing on my property once in a blue moon, continually gains more and more cash until his power rivals mine, at which point I either will land on his or her property continually or will have already been whittled down to nothing.

The latter happened.

When the deal ended my closest opponent, Hiro, had only enough cash for three houses on Boardwalk and Parkplace. That isn't an insignificant number, but he had very little cash remaining in his bank after doing so. He only needed to land once on any of my properties to have to pull back that number. Given that I had the deep Purples, the Violets, and the Oranges all lined up to snare him, it seemed likely.

Instead, the dance began, my Okaasan gave me loads of more cash before going out on Hiro with loads of morgaged property. I thought, "Fine, he doesn't have the cash to build on them." Then he landed on Free Parking a few times. "Fine," I thought, "He still hasn't even maxed out Boardwalk and Parkplace, and I have plenty of cash. If you know me, you know I stand up when I get excited. I did not stop standing up when after five times in jail, Hiro rolled nothing but twelves and escaped the deadly trap I had set up each time.

Then finally, he landed a huge jackpot of nearly two thousand dollars from Free Parking, and the Hotels appeared. I landed on both Pacific and Pennsylvania, followed by Boardwalk, all Hotels.

I lost.

I've come to the conclusion that on occaision, an unstoppable force plays around with us mere mortals. When this force, hereby referred to as "Luck", begins to affect something all ideas of strategy and skill become irrelevant. Regardless of any other factors, "Luck" calls the shots and the affected can only ride the wave or dig their grave.

Mine's pretty deep.

I could analyze that game a billion times, and I tell you I did, but I would still come to the same conclusion because there was no other way given how awesome I set myself up.

In any case, I'm not terribly upset that my Otousan won. If anything it is sort of nice to be consistantly beaten. However, I am entirely shocked at the incredible ill-fortune that was mine.

I think Shigeru Miyamoto probably tried to warn me about this in the dream I had last night. So again let the moral be that if Shigeru Miyamoto tells you something in a dream, you darn well better write it down.

What Dreams May Come

Last night, I dreampt the Shigeru Miyamoto was in the woods in my home's backyard seeking muse. While there, he was very surprised by a squirrel, and was "saved" by my father from having his snack stolen.

Some how this ended up with him staying the night in my house, and enjoying dinner with us.

So in my dream, I was having dinner with my family and Shigeru Miyamoto, and he gave me all sorts of sage advice about the video game industry, and this was bonified sounding advice in my dream, and I can't remember a word of it.

The moral of this story, when Shigeru Miyamoto tells you something in a dream, write it down.



I have just now suffered a third consecutive defeat in Monopoly at the hands of my Okaasan. That is not what makes it insufferable.

There are various elements listed below, each of which contributed to the insufferability of the situation.

1. The fact that, just when I finally got two monopolies and built them up, in two consecutive turns I got one house repair card and then the other.

2. The fact that, in three consecutive turns, I landed on my Okaasan's built up property.

3. The fact that in twelve turns neither my Okaasan or Otousan were anywhere near my property (they continually rolled in Jail, failed until the third try, and then ended up in jail again).

4. The fact that I feel like I should have won because I had money, lots of property, and potential.

The result is that I lost a game I should have won, and it's one of those losses that has my competitive blood screaming at me for bloodthirsty revenge. Monopoly being what it is, I will have to wait at least a day if not a week before the opportunity arises.

I should take consolation in the fact that I can no longer sit back and largely take it easy and expect to win around my host parents anymore, and that it is my tutalage that has brought this about. I don't care about my reputation as a skilled Monopoly player, nor do I care so much that I lost. What truly gets to me I think is that I had every opportunity to use vast amounts of free parking money to establish myself, I had property I could have expertly used to bolster myself. Instead, I haphazardly made serious mistakes that led to getting monopolies after both of my host parents, and thus left me behind in terms of cash flow. With most of my resources spent funding my host parents monopolies, I died.

Be forewarned anyone who seeks me out on my return. Within me is kindled the fire of my viking ancestry, which screams for the victory that slipped my fingers this night. The gears of my mind are being polished, refined, and prepared to reawaken the long dormant sectors which rested while waiting for a real Monopoly challenge to arise. They are purring and waiting for a chance to strike out and redefine what it means to trade.

I have grown too lazy, and now I have felt the sting of the apathy I succumbed to. I grew fat on the easy victories of September and October. Now, I find that I can not play the game thoughtlessly, and am ashamed I assumed I ever could.

I hearby swear that in the next game, bad luck or good, fair winds or storms, free parking or jail, there will be not on the board but the destroyed fortresses of my foes, and the shining bastions of my cause.




I like World of Warcraft. The game is fun, involved, and addicting. It's not perfect, but nothing is.

I've always been obsessed with Paladins. As a kid, I pretended to be a holy warrior cleansing the world of secret evils. As a preteen, I still loved those knights in shining armor, and anything resembling them in a game got my strict attention. As a teenager, I played Diablo 2, almost strictly as a Paladin.

And then there's WoW.

Paladins in WoW have, for a while, been significantly handicapped compared to other options. What ability they had was spread too thin, and what customization they had was too weak to make much of anything viable. I still had fun as them, not that I played for terribly long before migrating for the fall to a land in the east, despite the obvious weaknesses.

Blizzard promised to fix the problem and they'd already done a bang up job with the Warlocks (who now only suffer from one not terribly major problem), Priests, Hunters, Warriors, Druids and so on.

Now the first part of Blizzard's fix for the Paladins has started in the testing area, where any players can see a beta version of upcoming changes, and let's see what the people have to say on the matter.

And I quote:
"im gonan quit my pally if they dont fix this"
"i dont know if u noticed this but... ur 'dmg tree' 31 talent its still a buff... not even a damage one"
"will not be playing my paladin much"

Jargon aside, I would like to highlight a few things here.

I left out the long, incomprehensible single paragraph epics that have flittered across the Blizzard Paladin Forum, but I think that these quotes illustrate two points.

1. People aren't happy.
2. They are also illiterate.

The incredibly lengths to which these people have gone to decimate the English language are obscene. I by no means claim to be perfect in all my grammar and spelling. However, I at least try and think about whether or not I spelt a some words correctly. Even now the possibility of a mispelling of "illiterate" gnaws in the back of my mind.

I can put up with a certain amount of grammatical stretching on the internet. I love proper punctuation, I love proper capitalization, but I can understand that for some people typing on an instant messenger or to a forum doesn't immediately place priority on such things. However, a complete disregard for proper communication is something I can not gaze upon without my brain screaming at me in pain.

Yeah, I'm a masochist, and the internet is my tool.

Preservation of our once noble language aside, I want to get a little more in depth with "People are unhappy" assertion. People are largely complaining, and people are also largely complaining about other people, and people are also complaining back. Very few people seem content.

Most of the complaining is directed at what is being called a pathetic excuse for a patch that hasn't even been finalized yet. There isn't any change someone isn't complaining about. However a few things struck me.

A post by a Blizzard Representative in the forum stated several important facts.

1. They are not ready to reveal everything yet.
2. The minor details are listed within said post.
3. The minor details are basically the content of the current test area patch notes.

So, from the horse's mouth, we have that we do not yet have the information as to what the major changes will be.

Now Blizzard, who did a bang up job of fixing every other class with only minor bits and pieces of problems here and there, are reacted to in one of the following ways.

1. They are called liars.
2. They are called lazy.
3. They are accused of hating Paladins.
4. The person claims that they are quitting the game.
5. The person claims that Blizzard doesn't listen to a thing the players say.
6. The person cites that Blizzard is too obsessed with the special system of combat for the Paladin.

I, perchance, have also spent some time in the Warlock forum. I noticed some similarities with regards to Blizzard's work being done on fixing one final problem with the Warlocks. The reactions to Blizzard's work and posts were along these lines.

1. They are called liars.
2. They are called lazy.
3. They are accused of hating Warlocks.
4. The person claims they are quitting the game.
5. The person claims that Blizzard doesn't listen to a thing the players say.
6. The person cites that Blizzard is too obsessed with the special system of combat for the Warlock.


My own experience with WoW was spent playing the game. I was never inclined to visit the forums for any reason, because I could just be playing the game. This experience seems to be similar for most players that I meet. The average and above average player does not spend their time in the forums, but actually playing the game.

From all this, I conclude the following:

1. The vast majority of people in the forums do not spend much time playing the game.
2. The vast majority of people in the forums are not good at the game.
3. The vast majority of people in the forums will call Blizzard lazy if they say nothing, and liars if they say anything but "We gave the Paladin a spell where he summons God, and wins."
4. The vast majority of people in the forums believe that Blizzard has no grasp of the game they made.
5. The vast majority of people in the forums complain regardless of what happens.

Having played the Paladin, my opinion is that the minor details that we have are very exciting, and definately worthwhile. For minor details, it's quite a bit of goodness. Not an exceptional amount, but a good bit. If that's just the minor details, the major ones should be super awesome.

If there really are no major details, I won't be too upset either. What Paladins are getting already is pretty good, although not on par with what the other classes recieved. The only thing that will bug me is the misrepresentation of what the Paladin would be recieving. However, as Blizzard has generally shown themselves to be excellent, I'm more than willing to forgive them that. Companies have done far worse to their game than marginal improvements (I feel for the loyal players of Final Fantasy and Star Wars: Galaxies).

So, in summary, the people of the Blizzard forums are an illiterate lot who are inherently distrustful of anything a competant authority says unless it is "We're about to make your life super easy" and would complain if they won a million dollars because it wasn't two.



If you never played Perfect Dark for the N64, you could probably care less about the following. Otherwise, read on.

The Xbox360 has finally been released, although the weary at slashdot.org will likely not be through with the barrage of related articles for a month yet. With it has come something I have hoped and feared for some time.

Perfect Dark Zero.

Why am I dedicating an entire monologue to this game? Quite simply, I was enslaved by it's predecessor.

Perfect Dark was my freshman year of college. I spent many an hour blasting away my closest friend on campus. He didn't care that we were actually on the same team, he was just annoyed that I gave him his comeuppance after he blew me up.

Needless to say, I have a lot of interest in whether or not the sequel turned out well, or whether there is the potential for it to be salvaged if it didn't.

From what I hear, the gameplay is very much akin to the original. Some people bemoan the jumping (there is none) and the poor controls for beating someone down with a weapon. I'm not so concerned with how it stacks up in comparison to the dime a dozen FPSs out there or even Halo, I want to know how it compares to the original.

In my quest for information, I came across many good and bad things similar to above. However, almost all the information was tainted with either malice towards all things Halo, or malice to anything that isn't Halo. The only information that wasn't so tainted was a list of the weapons.

Perfect Dark did for weapons in FPS games something I've never seen done well elsewhere. Weapons had multiple ways to use them, and unique ways at that. Some guns could fire grenades, some guns could turn into portable sentries, most guns could be dual wielded, it was all amazing. My favorite weapons were all Maian, the Phoenix, the Callisto, and the Farsight.

While the listed secondary and even tertiary functions of the weapons in Perfect Dark Zero is impressive, I am disturbed by the weapons themselves. Quite simply, saying that "many" of the classic weapons are in the game is like saying that "many" people are still employed after a company implodes on itself.

The Falcon is there, The Laptop gun, the RCP, the CMP150, the SuperDragon, the Rocket Launcher, and the Magsec. The shotgun and the magnum are still around as well. They've all recieved interesting changes, which is good. However, the other twenty weapons from PD are MIA. Those aren't the only weapons in the game, there are a total of twenty-four. However, that in and of itself is a far note short of what PD had.

Every gun in PD managed to be unique despite the vast number of them, and while Rare appears to have done a great job of this again, there is the notable difference that there are only twenty-four weapons, a good number of which are from the original game anyway. Not that using the originals is a bad thing, but I would have expects more new weapons in addition to more of the originals.

I am terribly saddened for the most part because a great number of the truly fantastic weapons, such as the Cyclone, the Mauler, the Devastator, the Slayer, the Reaper, the Callisto, the Phoenix, and the N-Bomb, are not present in the game at all. I can understand there not being a Farsight (getting sniped out of nowhere is rather annoying) but the other weapons were not overpowered (you were just as likely to blow yourself up with a Devastator or Slayer), were really cool and unique, and most importantly fun (there was little as cool as pinning a person down with a reaper, and running madly at them when the ammo ran out).

Whether or not the fun simulant variants have returned I could not find out, and it is always possible they and other weapons are unlockable, but my sources claim the weapons lists I read were from a strategy guide, which usually covers just about everything.

Now, given that Halo 2 and Ninja Gaiden received some truly awesome additional content post release, I can see that any problems with the game can be addressed. This is something I am actually happy about, as I like the idea that if something is supremely screwed up in a game for a console, it can be fixed. This won't always be a good thing (Star Wars Galaxies is certainly a cause for concern), but I think overally it will be.

Whether or not Perfect Dark Zero will benefit from this remains to be seen. It sounds like a good game, but I fear that it will remain largely unplayed by me for some time yet, as the Xbox360 does not come out here for a month yet, and after that I will be at home before college resumes anyway. By then I should know more about whether or not the game has any of the 1337 weapons I know and love.

Worse comes to worse, the Revolution should have the original, or barring that, the N64 isn't expensive these days.


Bow to my Flammability!

I have recently come to dominate a small nation somewhere in the Pacific. It is the Holy Empire of Flammable Entities. Bow before my greatness and weep!

And so, the long road to world domination begins...

...except you can't dominate the world proper in that...

..oh well.


Shumatsu is Japanese for weekend.

This weekend several things happened. I tried calligraphy, I got to wear armor in Kendo for the first time, and I went sightseeing with my host family. Some of that you may already been aware of, but today I have some pretty pictures! Only two, as A) I want to give my family a long slide show of my experiences in Japan (an endless stream here would defeat the purpose) and B) with a limit of two per post I avoid clogging my posts and page with far too many images.

That said...

Shodo, the Japanese art of calligraphy. In a two hour lesson, I showed the "good sense" that I am often attributed when I try activities that are very Japanese. I did very well, having never had a lesson before. This is the only picture I have of my experience, as I was too busy practicing and paying attention to bug anyone for photographs more than once. However, I have a wealth of calligraphy I did to show off, which I think makes up for it.

The picture's slightly blurry, and I have others, but I'm lazy so...

It may be difficult to tell, but that is me. I got to wear Kendo armor for the first time on Saturday, and will be able to for these last four weeks of time I have in Japan. Having started Kendo at the very end of September, I have apparently made stunning progress. I had my first Kendo match, which I lost, but only one of two points were scored on me (we ended by exceeding the time limit). My opponent was surprised to learn how short a time I had been learning Kendo. I was thankful for the praise, as I couldn't hit him. He had the inherent advantage of knowing how to block.

As these four weeks begin, I have a sense of sadness and relief at the same time. I love my life here very much, it has nothing short of devastated what I now see as low expectations of how great this trip would be. However, at the same time I miss home a heck of a lot. I am a homebody to the core, and as such the people, places and things of home have been continually growing in my mind. The sense of relief is extremely slight, being more of an expectation of when I return than anything else.

Until then, I will continue my studies.


0h n03z!11

Forgive the 1337 title, I had to, really I did. Okay so I didn't, but I'm infected with the ITD (Internet Transmitted Diesease) and there's no cure. I mean, just look at this!

Can't you see the pain?

Anyway, including this one there are four entries in the blog today. First up being this general update. I've got the entries set up in order of importance, from "none whatsover" at the top to "important" on the bottom.

I've been aware that Dr. Weis, Josiaphus, and Franklin haven't made an appearances here for a long time. I couldn't fit them in the suitcases I brought with me. As such, we won't likely be hearing from them until after New Year's. However, I did find some delicious Japanese warning labels from a rather interesting website. I'll post these occaisionally (about once a week), as a Caution series.

Aside from that, I've posted some recent happenings, and a rant about the not latest Harry Potter movie.


Caution: Air Purifier

CAUTION: Air Purifiers are dangerous objects and not to be misused. Follow the above guidelines or serious injury and/or death may occur.

If you see anyone using an air purifier in any of the hazardous manners shown above, expecially if they are a ninja, keep a safe distance away from the party involved.


"Shodo" is Japanese for caligraphy, or the artistic drawing of Kanji characters. It is one of the many arts of the Samurai in Japan, and purportedly helps concentration and swordsmanship.

In continuation of my Samurai training, I spent some time yesterday learning Shodo. It was an immensely enjoyable experience, if slightly frustrating at times. My brush rarely acted in the way I wished it to, spoiling some of the work I did at inopportune moments. However, overall I did extremely well considering that I have no real experience with the art (although I appear talented in everything Samurai).

Some of the other foreign students participating have actually taken lessons. I'll admit I felt some small amount of pleasure in the fact that I did as well if not better than them. However, everyone was good overall, and I did not seek any compliments on my work (although I recieved many). The professor was especially impressed with the Kanji "Kebin" name my host father gave me.

The name "Kebin" is two kanji, Ki and Bin combined (Ki becomes Ke). They mean "Spirit" or "Heart" and "Quickly" or "With All/Great Speed". Exactly what the combination means is up in the air. It might mean I can build my spirit with incredible speed (ala Dragon Ball Z power ups! KYAAAA), quickly and with ease display great amounts of spirit, or simply mean that I am both spirited and quick. In any case, all the Japanese who see it declare it to be an incredibly good name.

Those comments have actually spawned some envy in students who have not been given Kanji names from their hosts. However, I think something is lost when you ask your hosts for one. The greatest things I have recieved from my host family have been unasked for, such as my name, my Shogi set, and my kendo practice sword (not to mention a lot of Love). If I asked for them, the magic I now associate with them would be very different.

But, back to Shodo.

If you are a perfectionist, Shodo is not calming at all. Nothing looks anything like you want it to, and when the professor creates beautiful work with ease it only compounds the problem. Trust me on this, there were a lot of frustrated perfectionists in the classroom yesterday.

If you are patient, and willing to settle with imperfection, Shodo can be an incredible experience well worth trying. There is something calming about the way the brush moves and the strokes are made when you become less focused on whether it is perfect or not and more focused on the simple act of the art. Like other Japanese arts, there is a strange feeling I find whenever I try them. It is the appreciation of simple elegance, I think, the understanding that in something as simple as a letter there can be art and beauty that makes Kendo, Shodo and most things Japanese so wonderful.

And also what makes the iPod popular here (expensive though it may be).

I'll be bringing home the work I did (all of it, good and bad), so look forward to (or dread if you like) my showing it off.

Later I shall see if, as Japanese lore says, the caligraphy will help me with my swordsmanship!

Kendo away!


With people at home raving to me about how they'll be watching the upcoming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie, I decided to finally watch the third installment.

I'd been turned off from the movies because the second film had been somewhat disgraceful. Simply too little time had been spent developing the characters, expecially the exceptionally narcissistic Defense against the Dark Arts professor. I can't say it was horrid, just disgraceful.

The Prisoner of Azkaban started well, with the usual "Behold the Dursley's and their insistance on being wordly fuddy-duddies" that starts nearly every book and film. However, the warning bells should have been blaring when I noticed the first in what became a flood of very small things that deviated from the books. Harry left home without Hedwig, something I don't believe happened in the book.

It was early in the film, and I was ready to forgive. There's only so much time, and there's only so much one can do therein.

For a while yet, the movie was good, enjoyable and fun. However, little things like the Hedwig incident kept happening, and a dread of larger things being cut grew larger and larger.

I came to this movie with a clean slate. I had cast away my prejudgements, cast away any thought of this movie would be anything like the second. I sat down and I let myself be entertained. In the end, the battle of Entertainment vs Hollywood Stupidity was won by Hollywood.

Quite simply, some of what I considered to be the best and most important elements of the story were simply cut entirely, even giving rise to possible reprecussions in the next movie. The Marauder's Map is taken by Snape, but at no point does he insinuate anything about Messers Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. Never does Lupin reveal the truth about the map, the shrieking shack, and the Whomping Willow. Never do we find out how Lupin knew anything about the map, how Snape, Lupin, and Sirius knew about the shrieking shack, what the purpose of Trelawney's mysterious prophey was (or that she was even remotely hackish in the first place) and worse things too.

In the books, when Harry sees Lupin for the last time, they have a discussion concerning the events of the night before. Here the greatest and most Christian message of the Harry Potter books is completely omitted. In the movie, Lupin and Harry discuss how Harry's saving of an innocent man made all the difference. In the books, the biggest and most greatest thing Harry did was not save an innocent man, but spare a guilty one. One who was clearly undeserving, unrepentant, and only concerned with his own self. Harry displayed the one trait that the terrible dementors lacked entirely, and he displayed it towards one no one else would have spared.

And this was lost.

I could go on about how the new actor for Dumbledore failed to portray the character in even the faintest similarity, how Harry's Patronus's resemblence to Prongs failed to be discussed. How vital elements of the story were replaced with an extended scene of a purple bus screaming through London. But really, none of that matters compared to the sheer travesty of changing the very nature of the story. Both the major points of forgiveness and how people live on within us are maligned for the sake of saying "Saving innocents is important!"

I think that any shred of my faith in Hollywood to produce a film based on a novel with any accuracy has been long lost. I'm looking to New Zealand from now on, and if that means I won't find out about excellent films until five years after they leave the theatres, so be it.



Kimochi is a Japanese word whose closest translation is "Good Feeling". I'm going to relate this to video games.

I'm an anti-social freakish nerd, I'll tell you, and I know full well I am. I've had a lot of very bad experiences with group projects, group video games, and group field trips. I've had incredible single player gaming experiences. Still, I will admit something that is true.

Playing with people can be heaven.

Immediately notable is the "can" in that statement of fact. What I am saying in one sentence is "The gaming experience can be augmented by the additional of other living persons such that its enjoyability increases to undetailable levels, or such that it loses all semblence of entertainment." In english, people make games either more fun or terrible.

I've had far too many experiences playing online where people suck. Not suck in the sense that they are bad at the game, that is forgivable. Everyone sucked in that fashion at some point. The kind of suck I am talking about is the suck of cheating, laziness, and general apathy that makes playing with people extremely frustrating.

This is especially true of my years playing the real life sport of soccer. Many of the teams I played on, I was the single player on the team who felt that properly playing the game meant I had to work hard and sweat. My teammates had some weird notion in their head that they didn't need to run around to play soccer, or that they could singlehandedly take on the other team of eleven people. It's a team sport of a reason, and they didn't get it.

So, it is very true that playing any game with people can suck, very much so. However, often the opposite can be true.

Some of the best gaming I've done came in the form of the Halo 2 sessions that started at my college after its release and continued every friday from evening to the late, late hours of the night. Twelve, sometimes sixteen people all together in their battle for flags, frags, and fun. That was good.

But there is good, and there is "kimochi".

I'll begin with the anti-kimochi, the worst gaming experience possible as related to people. This is when playing with people results in such an unenjoyable experience that it crushes our spirit and wish to play anything for a time. There was a game I played with my brother and some random online people where this happened. After my first death in this game, I prepared to start fresh and fight anew. Unfortunately, while the game allowed for this, the other players wouldn't have it. Whatever I did, I could barely erect the most basic structure of my base before I was utterly crushed by my foes' unhindered forces. They didn't adhere to the, "Don't hit a man while he's down" rule. They not only hit me, they had a DDR party on my bloated corpse. I've never even spoken the true name of the game since.

When "kimochi" happens, it is a feeling that is unparalled in any other experience I've had. Whether in competing against people, with people or both, the feeling acquired is simply magical. It's pure excitement and joy poured into you without want or care. It is simply, kimochi.

I've only had a few experiences of kimochi in my life, but they were simply incredible.

The first kimochi I ever experienced was in a old MUD named FreeMUD. It was free, it had a small userbase, and it was kimochi. I played it with my brother, my sister, and people I didn't know. It was always a good feeling to play, it was always great to roleplay with other people, and it was the best MMORPG-like experience I've ever had. But, like all good things, it ended when the MUD disappeared as it was moving to a new server, and I never found it again. That feeling became the ideal of group activity that little has ever lived up to or even partially obtained.

Another significant instance was my first experience of two person, one cart play in Mario Kart: Double Dash with my brother-in-law. I don't think I've ever felt that in sync with a person before. Even when we messed up, it was still awesome. Everything was fun, everything was awesome, and it was all because I wasn't playing alone. The experience is one that I do not easily forget.

There have been other cases, but the point has been made. Kimochi is a great thing to achieve in anything.

The unfortunate situation of life now is that it is increasingly difficult to achieve online. Years ago, even after the days of FreeMUD, the number of people who we'll call "losers" in the world of online games were very few. There weren't people cussing out other people simply because there was a chat function, there weren't people going crazy and intentionally killing their own team, it was a safe place to play games because everyone knew the goals and did their best to accomplish them. This doesn't mean there was always kimochi, as people will often do what they deem best as an individual, but it wasn't an impossible dream.

Such is not the case today. While World of Warcraft has been a very good experience for me, and so has been playing Counter-Strike online, I've inevitably found that there are always people who lack the fundamental understanding that the point of playing in a group competition game is to support your own group and defeat the enemy. The sad state of things in WoW is such that players in "The Alliance" (team 1) will stand around and do nothing while one of their own is battling and being killed by one of "The Horde" (team 2) who snuck up on them and attacked them out of the blue. The real life equivalent is someone is being murdered in the streets, and people (instead of either trying to help or running away screaming) watch the event as though it was a pair of pidgeons fighting each other over a prime spot for picking up bread crumbs. In Counter-Strike, some places will ban you outright for simply making a mistake, not to mention hackers. Kimochi is technically possible, but it had become the impossible dream it once wasn't.

All kimochi has left in the world of games are groups of people, like the Halo 2 sessions I adored, getting together in the real world and playing. Until the anonymity of the internet no longer makes people assume they can cheat and do whatever they want, kimochi will not be easily found there.


The Root of the Problem

So there's this thing, a computer thing, a Sony thing, a nasty thing called the Rootkit.

Now this thing has a noble purpose. It's supposed to prevent the spread of illegal mp3s. That's just fine, but this thing has some interesting ends to this means.

This thing installs itself from a Sony music CD loaded into a PC CD-ROM. It doesn't ask, it just does. It does its job, this thing, rather indiscriminately. So much so that it can crash your computer hard. It will do everything in its power to prevent you from burning CDs, or ripping if it isn't positive your CD is legitimate.

This thing also phones home. It sends a little message to Sony, making sure the CD you're using is unique. There isn't much to the message, just a simple request for some data from Sony so this thing knows what to do. But, when two computers communicate like that, information gets out. IP addresses, MAC addresses, connection type, and given the nature of the communication, the CD you purchased, all these are easily known.

This thing also hides, oh how it hides. It hides so well hackers now use it to hide their malicious programs so that nice programs like Norton don't know, so that they can cheat in online games, so that they can do what they want.

This thing, this "Rootkit", doesn't sound so noble now does it?

The worst part, this thing is everywhere.

Nice thing ain't it?

Prose aside, Sony's Rootkit they couples with a lot of recent music CDs has been a hot topic because of how it both violates personal freedom in the name of DRM, how it acts just like a trojan, and how it can be easily by hackers to hide programs they use to cheat in online games (such as WoW).

If you haven't bought any recent Sony CDs in the past month, you should be fine. Otherwise, you should probably find out whether it's on your computer, and what you can do about it. Sony certainly hasn't been the kindest company in the world in terms of dealing with the growing rumblings this has caused, and still hasn't provided a decent way of either detecting or removing it.

Ughification at its best.


The following is the result of never once deleting a single e-mail I recieved on my college address. It was never important to me, I always told other people to use my preferred address if they wanted a timely response, and the interface was always blah.

While in Japan, I've had to check it regularly because the school's policy is to send everything from emails of 0 importance to "If you don't read this in 12 seconds you will die" importance. Sometime between yesterday and today, a limit was finally imposed on how much of the crap they bombard me with I can just leave lying around.

This is what happened.

This wasn't from gigantic files, this was from thousands of random messages often having absolutely nothing to do with me. Why in the name of anyone was I getting messages directed at seniors as a freshmen? Why did requests for college girls get sent to me? Heck, why did I get e-mails specifically directed at art majors when I am a computer science geek?

In any case, I just spent a lot of what would have been useful time clearing out six hundred and forty megabytes of e-mail I never wanted in the first place. Being only able to view 200 e-mails at one time and instantly being reset back to the first page after doing anything aside from clicking "display next" is rather stupid.

I'm back down to the point where I can send and recieve e-mail from that address, not that I even intend on using it much. However, it is my only lifeline to the administration of Messiah College, and however crappy it is I need it.

Still, it's rather distressing to one day be able to freely recieve important e-mails detailing such important aspects of my life such as where I might be living come Spring, and the next day have to delete thousands of e-mails via an inefficient and frustrating interface in order to do what was carefree the day before.

I'll be extremely glad when I can leave behind Novell and its e-mail webclient forever.


Blue Sparks

The basic summary of this post is this: If you ever played a video game and had fun, the Nintendo DS is for you.

Because the ultimate goal of this is to make people as excited about the DS as I am, I've been trying to edit out as much boredom as possible from the rant. Unless you don't play video games at all, I sincerely hope you give my words a shot.

C:\Rants\Nintendo\DS>run DSFanboy.EXE

I've had my Nintendo DS for a couple of months now. I had a bunch of reasons for purchasing it, but all of them really faded away into the greater whole of the truth of the DS. The small, unassuming electronic device is fun.

In these, the early days of the DS, I've already found two entirely excellent games in the form of Ouendan and Jump Superstars, and that's restricting myself to Japan-Only titles. Entire generations of a console will find me only truly impressed by one or two of the titles availible, so realize the weight of that.

On top of that, if not one of you people or anyone else I know picks up a DS, I can still find people to play. For $30 I can by a device the size of my thumb which plugs into my PC and allows my DS to wirelessly access my computer and through it the internet to play other people. The service is free, and if I already had a wireless router I wouldn't even have to pay the initial $30. This is only for select DS titles, but oh what titles they are.

Mario Kart DS will be one such title, and I've heard nothing but good about it. Take everything good about Mario Kart: Double Dash (minus two people in one cart), everything good from Mario Kart 64, and everything good from Super Mario Kart, and throw in you and eight friends. That's the kind of insane fun the DS offers, and cheap.

Better yet, not all of you would have to own a copy of the game or even most games, as the DS's download play comes with most games, allowing one person to share the joy to other people nearby.

If you're scared of technology, or even slightly confused by it, you don't need to fear. The DS is exceptionally easy to use. Even the internet play mentioned before is as easy as throwing a CD in you computer, letting it install, plugging in the thumb sized device and hitting one button on your DS. After the first time, it simplifies further down to the last two steps.

Quite simply, the DS is simple to use, fun, cheap (comparatively), has great quality and low priced games, doesn't require you to spend a fortune on batteries (it's rechargable), has a long battery life, and is one robust piece of equipment.

Admittedly, you and eight other people buying a $130 DS each is not cheap, and if you aren't a serious hardcore nut like myself, you can probably survive not having the latest and greatest in video gaming. However, if you are even thinking of buying a console, even one from this generation that is coming to a close, consider the following.

On top of the initial cost of the console, you need to buy games, controllers and memory cards. Controllers easily cost between twenty and thirty dollars, and good games (even including used games) between $20 and $60 dollars. Even if you get a used PS2 or Gamecube for $50, you still need to spend at least $15 four times over for controllers, $20 for the smallest memory card, and $20 for a game. That's $150 right there, and that's for the last generation (and being very generous towards prices being cheap). For the new generation, you're plopping down $300-$400 (the Revolution might be $200) for the initial console, $35 per controller (up to seven in the case of the PS3), and $50-$70 for a game. That's $600 for a fully equipped Xbox 360 with four controllers and a single game. You can buy four DSs for that price, one copy of Mario Kart DS (and even another game) and you, your wife, your brother-in-law, and your kid can all race wildly around a fun world of Turtle Shells, Mushrooms and burning rubber. If the family of four next door did likewise, you can all play together.

To sum it all up, the DS rocks. If you play video games, you should have one. It may not have Bloodthirsty Killer 2006, but it has style, it has fun, and that is ultimately what is most important.

Execution Finished



I'm a geek.

And I just became completely obsessed with geeky T-shirts.

Maybe I'm selling out to the corperate machine, maybe I'm proving that people like myself who claim to be different from everyone else are all really the same, or maybe I'm just a geek. In any case, I now really want to expand my geeky T-Shirt collection beyond one neato Zelda Shirt, a special Metroid Prime 2 preorder shirt, a super Excitebike shirt (one of 500 in the world mind you) and one pixelized Atari shirt (which needs to be hand cleaned of pen stains).

In any case, partly for my own purposes, partly to help people who might want to buy me christmas presents (although I would probably nudge most of the people who read this blog to save their money), but mostly to show everyone here just how geeky I am.

Let the linking begin.

NOTE: These have been edited slightly. I made an addition, but mostly I grouped them into categories for the sake of priority. Some of these are harder to come by than others, and as such I'm taking a few matters into my own hands and grabbing what I can find of the rare ones.

Easy as Pie:
SQL Query
+20 Shirt of Smiting
RPG - Choose Wisely
The Code
It's True
Emergency Exit
I'm on Fire!
Jesus Saves
Ressurect Now?
Not Found

Classically Trained

Rare/Ultra Difficult to Find:
Olde School (Kevin Found! Check!)
Eat Me!
Home Schooled

Lotsa fun eh?

For anyone wondering, including myself, M or L works for size.

That's a lot to try and get, costing in total something on the order of $200 in total. Unfortunately, I must first acquire new shoes, and perhaps a new backpack, before I can think of purchasing any.

Sadness I know.


All Growed Up

1up.com has a funny comparison of the Dreamcast and the upcoming Xbox 360. If you're not aware of what either are, then don't bother. However, if you are aware that the Dreamcast was SEGA's final console which, while decent, failed to make them money and was scrapped so that they could avoid bankruptcy and continue on as a software company, and that the Xbox 360 is Microsoft's upcoming console which is arriving under both a lot of hype and skepticism, the enjoy the read.

In any case, I read a comment which said a few things of interest. It basically noted that these days gamers seem a little more imperviously to hype, and that they're more aware of what is actually decent and what is fluff. I responded as to why preconceptions such as "kiddie" (which Nintendo's Gamecube got stuck with) and "bulky" (the original Xbox) are no longer important.

If you are lazy, here's the summary. The people who actively play games, "gamers", have already made up their minds on which console they will get and the amount of change in who will buy what per dollar spent on marketing is so small that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will only market to them enough so that there is no perception that any mistake has been made on their part. The focus of all three is on the casual player, because that's where expansion, and a lot of cash, lie.

Now for my comments in full.

"Quite simply, the kids who thought they were too good for a kiddy console have now at last reached a level of maturity where having Pikachu in something does not automatically sell it. They now hate and despise the rat, and the only consoles where you can beat the crap out of the bugger and his pals are Nintendo's.

Basically, as it stands the well informed crowd, "gamers", are pretty aware that the hype surrounding all the players may not be what it cracks up to be. We know that Microsoft will pour money upon the Xbox 360 win, lose, or draw. We know Nintendo will make some incredible games for its controller even if everyone else either botches their attempts or doesn't bother, and we know Sony will ride on the popularity of the PS2. Everything else is hype, speculation, or insanity.

However, it is the casual crowd, the people who watch MTV, the people who still play nothing but Tetris, the people playing the Sims, the people who play the cheesy games on their cells phones and generally the people who are scared of using anything beyond Internet Explorer, Word, and Outlook Express on their PC that are the target of the three companies.

Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft all know that the casual game player doesn't read Slashdot, doesn't hear the word of mouth, and doesn't have any preconceptions about one system over another. Each is targeting these untapped fountain of cash with their crosshairs. Sony plans on using their tech hype and previous popularity, Microsoft is using a jump start on the competition and MTV (casual players are not going to buy more than one system), Nintendo is simply targeting everyone under the sun with a controller people will look at and not be as afraid of as the calculator on Windows.

All the speculation we have here is from a crowd who, for the most part, know what's going on. Biases included, we know more than Joe Somebody on the street when it comes to this. We've already decided which system we'll be getting, and nothing save from a miracle or a tragic mistake is going to change our minds. As such, the big three are only focusing on avoiding blundering with people like us, and and working to get the casual people into the game.

We laugh at the Halo 3 comparison, because we know all the sweeter, juicier FPSs there are. The casual crowd doesn't, they know Halo. Don't underestimate the casual players, they outnumber us, and they more than anyone else will be the determining factor in who comes out on top this coming generation, whether you measure success in marketshare, profit or both."


Racial Stuff

Nope, not Racism, World of WarCraft races.

Before I dive into this, I'll note that today is a another three set of posts. Don't miss them.

Blizzard announced their expansion to WoW at Blizzcon, and there have been mixed reactions. A lot of people decry the addition of Blood Elves to the Horde as silly, and simply a misguided attempt to filter over people wanting "pretty" races to the Horde to balance the sides a bit. Some people are concerned about the increase in levels. And still others are upset that no new classes will be added. Still, the biggest issue of all is that while the Blood Elves were announced for the Horde, less than peep was said about the Alliance.

All sorts of theories rage around, but all of them discount the possibility of what I would consider the best possible one. The Pandaarans.

Quite simply, I doesn't surprise me that people discount them as possible. When the possibility arose with the addition of the Pandaaran Brewmaster in the WarCraft 3 expansion could get the game banned in China (the Brewmaster was in Japanese Samurai armor, something that would undoubtedly offend the Red Nation), it became clear to Blizzard fans that Pandas are a serious matter to the Chinese. As such, the likelyhood that they would let an entire race of them abound in a video game is unlikely.

Blizzard has too much at stake in China to ditch the Chinese and appeal to only Western audiences. While there are three million players in the west, a record set by Blizzard for any MMORPG here in the States, there are one and a half million in China. Cutting off one third of your customer base is a silly idea. Additionally, the largest MMORPG in China reached fifteen million players. WoW is expected to reach at least ten million. China is, quite simply, crucial.

My personal theory as to why mum was the word about the Alliance race is not the typical cry of "Blizzard simply has no idea who it will be." with the implication being there aren't any feasible races left in Azeroth, but "Blizzard has no idea who it will be." in that they want to give us Pandaarans, but they want to make sure China won't ban them for it. They'll certainly have a backup race planned, but they're trying their best to get Pandaarans, and they simply don't want to disappoint people by announcing anything they can't produce.

So, I will still hope for Pandaarans, even if it seems unlikely.

Phantom Menace

Star Craft: Ghost has been in production for a very long time. It was originally due out in 2003, and we are now fast approaching 2006. It was originally going to be on the Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube, the last of which was recently dropped. While those of us who are Blizzard fanboys have simply come to expect this of Blizzard's titles, this isn't exactly a good thing.

On the PC, the only thing that changes with time is the average system specs people have. Old computers become obselete, obselete computers become paper weights, and new computers are moved in. If you simply aim ahead sufficiently, you'll be able to make a great looking game that fits most people's specs.

Blizzard has done a very good job on their games thusfar in this way. Warcraft 3 was beautiful when it came out, and to a large extent still is. WoW is definately pretty, and with recent retoolings to allow for better texture loading in graphic intensive areas, I'm looking forwards to tweaking the graphics settings when I get back.

However, the beauty of consoles is that they are all the same, roughly. Minor changes are made over time, but in essence all Gamecubes are created equally. Nailing bugs is easier because you do not need to account for hundreds of different system setups. This does lead to what we call console generations, where one generation's hardware become obselete, and so a new one is made.

Because of this, there is really a very small window for making a game on a particular console. With production times between two and four years, many games simply don't get a sequel until the next generation comes around.

When Blizzard announced Ghost, the consoles were still new. Halo was in its early days, the biggest game on the PS2 was the original GTA, and the Gamecube was chock full of Wind Waker preorders. Now, the Xbox 360 is coming out in the next month, with more consoles on the way in the next year.

Blizzard now faces the problem that if they don't release Ghost at the current release date (early spring), they are going to find themselves in a very tricky predicament. While there will certainly be lots of people who still have PS2s and Xboxes, their thunder will be stolen. They are already in some small measure of trouble in that with the current release date that is already partly true. Pushing it back any further simply means publishing a game which might be overlooked because it isn't in line with the latest generation.

Obviously Blizzard isn't stupid, 4.5 Million WoW subscribers says so. It also says Blizzard has enough money to do whatever is necessary with Ghost.

The Gamecube has been cut because online and LAN play are becoming key components to the game, and the Gamecube doesn't have a good user base for that. A lot of people don't buy this explanation at all. The PS2 is similarly poorly equipped in that field, if only slightly better. The only console that is really good for online and LAN play is the Xbox. Why drop the Gamecube?

Basically, the current theory is that the Xbox is ready for it, the PS2 has a large user base, and the Gamecube has neither. So, it gets dropped.

However, an alternative possibility struck me. There may be the possibility that the Revolution might get a port of Ghost, given that Nintendo is fully committed to online activity with the console. However, I think that until the Xbox and PS2 versions come out, we won't hear about it. The last thing Blizzard would want to do is say, "We've got versions for the old consoles, but you can always wait and get it on this new one!" It would kill the Xbox and PS2 sales of the game.

Given that Blizzard has said they are still interested in making games for Nintendo, I don't think my idea is too far fetched.

In any case, I'm likely to watch the price of Xboxes on ebay closely as the release of the Xbox 360 comes and goes. While not a fan of Microsoft, I like Halo 2, I love Ninja Gaiden (with a cheap special edition out, I'm frothing at the mouth), and adding Ghost to that makes three games, and that's (finally) enough reason to get one. If it's cheap that is.