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.

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.

Pre-Chinese New Year Update

February 11, 2007

It has been some time since I last wrote anything, for a variety of reasons. Primarily, Chinese New Year is coming up very soon, and our training at PKFS has largely turned to practicing lion dance routines. While we’ve had several lion dances already for various Chinese New Years parties, our time has largely been spent training overtime–trying to squeeze in as many puzzles and such as possible before the real party begins. As such, I doubt I’ll have much time–if at all–to update during the height of the lion dance season, as we like to call it. I’m forcing myself to write this as it is.

I realize I ended the previous entry on a sour note, and I’d very much rather not carry such things over to the new year. In fact, things have largely normalized, besides my strained relationship with Pug and Poodle, if it can be described as a relationship at all. That, by and large, has made this year’s lion dances a little awkward. I think we’ll survive though. Pug might get upset at my involvement in certain affairs that she might thing were her province, but I firmly believe that getting upset is her problem. I’m not trying to be spiteful, or some sort of donkey, but I’m not about to expend extra energy working around her mostly-justified but still annoyingly unproductive discomfort around me. What needs to be done needs to be done, and if I can’t enlist her assistance, that just means I’ll have to work a little more and a little harder. Fortunately, there’ll always be people willing to help, if not for me, then for Sifu and the school.

In other news, Sifu decided to split Hung and Ching up this year, for some reason. He’s paired Hung with Pug, and Ching with myself. Not a particularly big deal, except that the pseudonyms I’ve created for them can no longer be a source of nearly as much amusement. Ah well.

Much has happened during my period of absence that I’m bursting at the seams with thoughts and comments. Without much time to complete this entry though, I’m just going to breeze though them. I believe the largest thing in this period is the “bomb” scare in Boston over a marketing stunt by Cartoon Network. The idiots there thought some flashing LED boards in the image of cartoon characters were bombs, and treated them as such. The worst part is, even after they were called out as idiots for thinking these obviously unsophisticated pieces of electronics could somehow turn Boston into a raging inferno, the top politicians and officials continue to insist they were right, to the point of calling it a “hoax” and arresting and charging the two guys working for the marketing firm who actually put up the light displays. I don’t think the word means what those idiots think it means, as many others have noted before me. Anyway, what really occurred is that the idiots got called out on being idiots for the overreaction, which made them mad. In turn, they’ve shifted the blame to Cartoon Network, the marketing firm, and the two poor saps who built the light displays and went around town putting them up. By doing so, they’re denying that the unwarranted overreaction was at all their fault, and that somehow, based on the fact that there’s an epidemic of terrorist attacks in the US, it’s perfectly justified to call in the big guns for some flashing lights powered by a small battery. Sounds familiar, right? Might as well just call them WMD’s and use them to justify the war in Iraq. The most absurd part is that the CEO of Cartoon Network’s resigned because of this mess. I think those idiots in Boston should resign next, but that might be too much to hope for.

In other “news” (because it’s actually old), Vista was released into the wild. Apparently, it’s built-in antivirus program sucks. Not surprised at all. Supreme Commander is going to ship soon, and I’m really psyched about Spore, which should come out around the time I finish SupCom’s single player. Final Fantasy XII has been my recent source of electronic entertainment, but I near completing that, and I’ll soon be in need of a game. I think that’s all I can think of for now. There’s stuff that deals with Steve Jobs on DRM that I think is utter BS, and rumors that EMI is about to release some of its music in MP3, and I can go on and on for a while about the whole thing, but all I’m going to say is that iTunes probably isn’t going to sell MP3’s regardless.

I also had something to say about security and privacy, but I’m going to leave that can of worms for another day. Obviously, being an anonymous blog, this is a big deal. So I’ll return to the subject another time, preferably when I can present my arguements in a coherent manner.

On a more personal note, my family keeps changing the New Years dinner date… Indecision is the hallmark of one side of my family, and it has the potential to really interfere with my lion dance schedule. Family comes first, of course, so whatever day they pick, I’m still going to go. However, I wish they wouldn’t come to a decision only at the very last minute, utterly nullifying my existing plans and reducing my credibility with the others at PKFS.

It is also getting particularly close to that day of the year. I don’t have plans to spend it with anyone, even though there actually is one person… It would make me very happy if I could spend that evening with her, if only for a dinner, but I’m almost certain she’s beyond my reach now. One can still dream though, and dream I most certainly do…