Yet Another Season

February 28, 2009

The season is finally over and I have a fresh batch of injuries to prove it. Cuts, bruises, scrapes, pulled muscles, twisted joints, I have it all this year. I’m getting too old for this kind of stuff. On the other hand, I did get to see several new puzzles first-hand, and I’m pretty confident I know what to do for them. This was a good year actually, in that while there weren’t a lot of lion dances in terms of individual events, there was a lot of variety in the puzzles we did. It’s always more fun and exciting to do interesting and different puzzles than to just do the same old tired stuff. And this year was full of interesting puzzles. To name a few:

Ladder puzzle.
Greens in a bowl of water.
Greens with chopsticks.
Very high green (at least two stories).
etc.

At the same time, it’s far more tiring this year. And I still suck at actually getting the lettuce, though my throws are probably a lot better this year. I think I’m going to work on kicking it for next year, so that it can reach those high places where people try to hide from getting hit with the lettuce.

I had an epiphany at work today. The difference between hard power and soft power is that hard power is used to shatter a glass door, but soft power would be used to open it. And thus soft power isn’t so much about brute strength as it is about control. And I guess it’s the same regarding real soft power, i.e. the kind in politics. There’s an appropriate time for either. I think the real test in skill is knowing when to apply hard power, and when to apply soft power.

I just wanted to get that out of the way before I forgot.

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Happy New Year! (Again…)

February 8, 2009

Another year has gone by, and a new one has come. It is the year of the ox–or the cow, as I like to call it.

Lion dance season is upon us again. Or was anyway. New Years happened on the 26th of January, and I’ve had nearly non-stop lion dancing for about a week and a half. The economic downturn has caused many smaller shops to cut their festivities’ budgets, but for some reason, we seem to be as busy as every other year. I’m not complaining, but I wonder if a lot of companies are just trying to put a good face on a bad situation.

I’ve managed to not mess up this season. Hung was out for several of the performances, so it was up to some of the other people, myself included, to make up for his absence. I think I did OK–not that anybody would tell me if I did otherwise. I’m a little more aggressive this year than before, I think, towards the pricks who think it’s fun to wave the red envelope around in front of the lion. I’m not kicking them outright, but I do cut it close enough to make them back off. I really have no interest in humoring these people, though I definitely would have thought otherwise last year.

I haven’t posted for a few months. In that time, a lot of stuff has happened. The WordPress interface is markedly different. The Cowon S9 Curve is out, but I’m still waiting on the 32GB version before I take the plunge. I did buy myself a new camera, and I’m looking into a light tripod to carry around with it. I also bought myself the Millenium Falcon that I’ve been waxing and waning about since it came out.

On that front, the new 2009 product lines look spectacular. I don’t have any of the pirates yet, but I’m seriously considering buying the entire line as soon as lion dance season is done. There’s also the new castle village set that I’m hearing great things about. The new construction and farm city sets look OK. I’m also considering buying one or two of the Power Miners sets. We’ll see about that.

Things with Pug were actually looking up for a little bit. But judging from how things have turned out at the lion dances so far, I think we’re back to the status quo again. Our relationship is like the stock market; it’ll bounce up a bit every so often, but it’ll eventually go back to bottom and stabilize around that.

On that line of thought, I’m officially predicting that it will be about two more years before the economy starts recovering. I’m not sure about when the stock market will turn around, but that should bounce back up sometime after the economy does. The Dow won’t hit 14K again for another 10 years though, at the very latest. Unfortunately, quality of living with continue to decline for another three or four years after that before it picks back up again. As for the housing market, I can only see it go down slowly for the next 5-10 years. Or more accurately, housing prices will stay about the same, but inflation will hit the roof in that time, so the value will effectively decrease. Oil will stabilize at around $50-$60 a barrel once the economy picks up again. In all honesty, I don’t really put too much faith into my long-term predictions because of the multitude of variables, including what the idiot Feds are going to do, but the short-term ones I’m pretty damn sure about. I’m just putting these down on the record, so when the time comes, I can tell everyone I told ’em so.

Anyway, I know I’m not supposed to mention concrete dates here, but the big lion dance is tomorrow, and I’m–as always–nervous and excited. It’s actually rather boring as far as the actual performance goes, as all it is is just walking around with a lion head the entire day. But for some reason, I still get that warm, familiar feeling run through me when I think about it. Maybe it’s all the people who’ll be there, or maybe it’s just the idea of going out and completely owning our little section of the streets for a few hours one day every year.