Monday, March 23, 2015

Hiking, Ramen, and Resolutions

Hiking, Ramen, and Resolutions

            Sadly I have nothing super exciting to report.  I went hiking over the weekend and hit up a Ramen place with Kelvin.

Hiking

            The hike was a nice 2 hour jaunt up into the hills behind the school, basically get to the top and go left until you hit the sign that is posted in Mongolian and English (thank god) that moving beyond is prohibited.  Kelvin figured it was a good site to look down on the Presidents place.  I couldn't say, I was just glad I could actually read the sign for once.

The view at the bottom (I think the pollution is getting better)


The climb (that’s Jason in the Orange and I’m the dummy in the lead)


The view at the top


The animals



Oh and the presidents house


The Ramen shop

            Saying it was over the river and through the woods would be appropriate as it was quite the bus ride and hike to get there.

            Me- so is this place any good
            Kelvin- don’t know, I haven’t been their yet, I only walked by it
            Me- well now I know why you brought me along.  I can taste it and tell you if its any good
            Kelvin- the pictures on Facebook looked good, so I think its legit
            Me- lovely

            Now none of these were mine, but my food was really good, and I’m not a big ramen fan.  It was worth the trip and I would go back anytime




New Years Resolution Update 

            I do have some good news to report and I am moving forward on my new year’s resolutions a bit.  In case you don’t remember here they are.

1- Continue to travel.  I’m looking at getting to South Korea or Taiwan over Spring Break, China and potentially Taiwan if I don’t do it over Spring Break during the summer, The Mongolian Eagle festival which might be over fall break (It was this year), and either Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, or Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei over winter break.  There might also be a Mongolian trekking tour in there somewhere to.
2- Finish writing Gunslinger Girl World Tour and start the final part of the trilogy
3- Finish watching all of the anime stored on my hard drive (I bet some of you thought I did that already)
4- Keep up with both of my blogs and post about my trips to Thailand and Japan
5- Figure out how to use and implement Google classroom
6- Take some Mongolian language lessons
7- Look into getting a Masters in Biology

Resolution 1

            I am on tract with resolution number one as I now have plane tickets and a hotel for Seoul during my spring break 2.5 weeks away.  I know it is a bit last minute, but at least I have them right.  Now I have to organize everything I will be doing while I am there.  You know there is a tour to a North Korean Village, but I think that is just asking for trouble.  Oh look it’s the big ass white guy he must be American.  I am still on for China this summer, but it’s not looking good for Taiwan.  I have a good reason though……. And that reason is…….. Please put your drinks down….. I am going mountain climbing here in Mongolia.  Yes you heard it right I am going mountain climbing.

            The mountain in question is Mt. Khuiten on the western border of Mongolia.  This quest would not be possible without the extremely gracious invite from my neighbor and buddy Mark.  I will be hiking up to over 13,000ft (4,000m), across glaciers and plenty of other fun.  So I’ll be spending some cash on an ice ax and other equipment, as I've never been mountain climbing before.  That’s right you heard me I've never been mountain climbing before, but it’s OK since all I have to do is hike up it.
Mt. Khuiten

Location

Resolution 2

            Gunslinger girl World Tour is still in the works and I am close to getting another two chapters done if I could just find the time to write it.  I am bouncing around the idea of turning it into an EBook this summer.

Resolution 3

Warning anime dork moment

            I still haven’t watched all of the anime on my hard drive yet, but I am making good progress.  I have finished watching all 95 episodes of Rurouni Kenshin, 2 OVA’s and 1 movie.  This was a series that played on the old Toonami block back in the late 90s while I was in college, and it has held up well over the years.  The show is a Samurai drama set 11 years after the end of the Meji revolution in 1878.  The story follows one Himura Kenshin the former assassin of the Imperialists (the winners), as he travels Japan protecting the weak, with his Sakabatō (a katana with the blade on the wrong side).   He has sworn never to kill again in atonement for all of the lives he destroyed during the revolution.  His travels take him to Tokyo, where he meets Kamiya Kaoru, the master of a local Kendo dojo (sword fighting).
Normal Kenshin

Someone is about learn the error of their ways Kenshin

Kaoru Kamiya (AKA the love interest)

            Season one focuses on introducing a number of different characters as Kenshin faces enemies from the past and present.  The show has the right mix of serious and humorous moments, as the cast ends up in a variety of situations.  One bit that rarely gets old is how people constantly underestimate Kenshin before he opens up a can of wup ass on the unsuspecting opponent.  Another bit I enjoy is how Kenshin knows many high ranking government officials, because he has worked with them in the past.

            Season two is where the show really grows the beard, as the light hearted moments are dropped, as Kenshin must face his successor as the best assassin Japan, as he tries to take over Japan.  The second season is longer, but it never drags, and the fights are as varied as they are interesting.  This is also when the show starts to get a little bit more unrealistic with some of the elements of the show, but the plot and characters easily push through these spots.  Some of these elements have become part and parcel to many latter shounen (targeted at HS kids) shows.  It actually becomes amusing watching younger fans call the show cliched when it was Rurouni Kenshin that created and popularized these clichés in the first place.

            Season three is the weakest part of the show, and consists of several minor story arcs, some of which are quite unrealistic.  This can be a little jarring given how realistic the earlier seasons were.  I didn't mind though as they were still pretty cool.  It was worth in the end watching all of the hanging plot threads were resolved in a very satisfying manner.

            The sequel movie was OK, but I felt it rehashed elements from the second season a bit too much and the voice actors were different than the TV show.  I didn't like the some of the new English voice actors.  I found the two OVA prequels to be too dark for my tastes.  They are excellent pieces of cinematic animation, and explores the dark past of the Kenshin from the TV series.  I just prefer the more light hearted and positive tone of the TV series.

            The animation is high quality and holds up well even after 19 years.  In some ways I like the older style over some of the newer animations that use a large amount of CGI animation.  The action scenes are fluid, and while there is still the ever present flash of light for the big moves, the normal stuff is on full display.  The physical character designs are varied attractive to look at.  I mean who wouldn't want Megumi Takani as their doctor.



            The music is a pleasure to listen to and fits the tone of the series from beginning to end.  The opening and ending themes are excellent, with the third opening being my favorite.

            Overall I give the show a 5 out of 5, and recommend it to any sword fighting fan, or anyone who might be interesting in checking out what anime has to offer.  It has also been so popular in Japan that it spawned three live action movies over ten years after the initial release.  My only warning is that this show is for high school kids and above due to some mature plot elements in the second season.

Anime dork moment over

Resolution 4

            I think I've been pretty good about updating the blog, and I would like to get into a regular schedule.  Ideally I would like to do two updates a week for a while, if I can.

Resolution 5

            Google classroom still eludes me, but that is more of a summer project.  I am using turnitin.com, which is a service that compares the students work against internet sources and previously submitted sources.  The teacher and student is then given a similarity report, which lets them know how much of the report is similar to other sources.  I happen to like this as it helps to reduce and eliminate plagiarism.  Since the reports are submitted electronically I can grade them over the computer, which has the side effect of me writing longer comments about the student work.  So you see everybody wins.

Resolution 6

            Mongolian lessons still elude me, but I do have a number to call.  I just need to get off my lazy but and call her.

Resolution 7

            I have two masters programs picked out, the University of Nebraska at Kearny, or Western Kentucky University.  Both of the programs are online masters of biology, I just need to pick which one to do, and find the time to do it around all of the traveling, blogging, writing, and anime watching I want to do.

FYI


            In other news I was finally able to get my laptop fixed, after it stopped charging properly. The laptop would still charge but it would not always connect, oh and the battery life was unaffected lasting just as long as before.  While it only started recently it goes all the way back to when it fell off my desk during back to school night, and I busted the original charger and one of the USB ports.  I still have three USB ports and I can always buy a USB hub if I need one, so that wasn't a big deal.  The little nub that plugs into the computer bought the far though so I've been using an old ACER, and then HP laptop charger the school had lying around.  Well over the last month I've had more trouble charging it, and bought a replacement charger thinking that was the problem.  Well my Chinese piece of crap replacement charger was even worse, and had a harder time connecting to the computer.  Well long story short, Frank and his wife took me to computer land to get my computer fixed.  90 minutes, one replacement part (the socket where the charger plugs in), a little solder, 25,000 turgiks later (13USD) and my computer was as good as new.