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Posts Tagged ‘anime’

The Blade Itself

I recently finished listening to Joe Abercrombie’s “The Blade Itself“, book one of The First Law series.  These are (oddly enough) under $10 at Audible.com, though the run for over 20 hours and are quality productions.  This is actually less than a single Audible credit, so I suppose I ended up spending $30 on this series.  Normally audiobooks at Audible cost about $11/credit (and one credit usually equals one book).

It started off kind of slow, with an oddly brutal cast of characters: a somewhat reformed 9-fingered killer hounded by his reputation, a once-celebrated duelist now physically broken by torture and come to be a torturer himself, and a young nobleman enjoying the privileges of rank and birth, along with their obligations.  These are spun together in a web of political intrigue and the beginning of a grand war.

It picks up though, and has an enjoyable set of secondary characters (in addition to some pseudo-POV characters not mentioned).  It was also one of the more quotable books I’ve read, approaching GRRM’s ASOIAF series.

Like most narrators, Steve Pacey takes a little time to warm up to, but once you do you find him enjoyable.  His pacing, emotives, and character voices are solid.

Glass no Kamen

I really enjoyed Skip Beat!, and Glass Mask was supposed to be similar so I gave it a shot.  The animation style struck me as similar to Maria-sama ga Miteru, and the story itself did bear a number of similarities to Skip Beat!.

While enjoyable, the show sometimes hit that melodramatic high that shoujo titles are occasionally known for (though it was certainly no Hana Yori Dango).  It featured an arc-driven storyline with no filler.

I liked how the rivalry between Maya and Ayumi turned into a mutual friendship.  The real weak point in this title is it’s ending: totally and completely rushed.  It felt like they were just trying to tie up loose ends instead of presenting a satisfying and well-paced conclusion.  At the end of the day, I gave it an 8/10: enjoyable, worth watching, but not reaching into greatness or having rewatch value.  Skip Beat! does it better.

Mars Daybreak

I’m not done with this one yet, but I’ve found it surprisingly enjoyable.  I really like the cast of characters, and the unique underwater mecha concept.

The story takes place on Mars in the future.  The planet has been terraformed and is covered with water and ice.  City-ships exist, having a city-state status on the planet.  There’s a political tension between Earth and the Mars colonists that feeds directly into the storyline.

The show reminds me a bit of Eureka Seven, mixed with some Cowboy Beebop and a bit of Saturday Morning Cartoon action.

The animation is clearly BONES, and they’re one of my favorite studios.

I really like the “dolphin in a human exoskeleton” character.  Like all dolphins, he looks cute, friendly, and harmless, but his character is the most aggressive and wanton of the bunch.

Aarn Mountain Magic Bodypack

When I first got it into my head that I wanted to go backpacking, I picked up a Vortex 5800: an absolutely bomber, huge backpack weighing 7lbs from a cottage manufacturer.  Then I went backpacking with it a couple of times and found that bigger ain’t always better.

After reading up on the benefits of light weight backpacking, I was persuaded to give it a shot.  “Would you rather have an more enjoyable time on the trail, or a more enjoyable time in camp?” was the question that got me.  Obviously, I’d rather have a more enjoyable time on the trail.  So I did my research and picked up a ULA Circuit. Not only did that shave 5lbs off of my base weight, but since it was smaller it encouraged me to pack less and pack smarter.

At some point after that I ran across these packs from Aarn.  The idea here is that rather than having to “hump it”, you balance the weight of the pack so that you can walk upright rather than perpetually hunched over.  In a traditional backpack, once you get enough weight back there you have to start hunching forward to maintain a standing center of gravity.  These packs purportedly make it so your center of gravity doesn’t get out of whack and you can walk upright, which allows you to be more mobile and less exhausted at the end of the day.

I just got the pack recently and haven’t taken it out.  I’m still figuring out how to adjust it and what goes where.  I’m migrating my stuff out of my Circuit into it.  They both have around the same volume.  The Circuit’s main body is 2400ci, while the Mountain Magic has a 2257ci main body volume.  One of the things I like about the Circuit is it’s hip belt pockets, which make it very easy to get out your camera or a snack.  This benefit is amplified with the Mountain Magic, where you have two great big pouches right in front of you.  Aarn even makes special pouches for cameras, which is pretty sweet if you’re an SLR enthusiast.

One of the things I like about the MM’s front pouches is that they’re asymmetrical.  The left hand side one has two large mesh pockets for snacks and water bottles and the like.  The right hand one has a longer, thinner mesh pocket on the side which I’ve put knife, compass, and bandanna in.

A common criticism of the Aarn packs is that they’re complex.  There are a myriad of straps with strange connections in strange places.  Familiarizing yourself with these will take some experimentation , but before too long I don’t doubt it will become second nature.

I’m also making the move from hose-driven water bladders (like Camelbaks) to water bottles.  The ultralight community advocates this due to weight saving, but the impetus here is due to the design of the Aarn pack: more dense items to the front in the smaller front packs.  Water definitely qualifies there.  And you don’t need a 3 foot hose for it.  Your water bottle is easily accessible.  I have one of the original Platupus water bladders (the precursor to Camelbak water bladder + hose solutions) that I thought about using, but a little research turned up a newer model with a bite-valve cap!  The best of both worlds =)

Now that I’m using water bottles, I may move to a UV water purification method.  This should save some weight and bulk, and be more convenient to use than my Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter.

Aside from that…

I jumped on to a patch of black ice while walking to work a few days ago and found myself on my back with a bruised elbow.  That still kind of hurts.

I cleaned my computer console, removing and reattaching all the wires and dusting back there.  Nearly all of my USB connections are going into my 8-port hub now.

I went snowshoeing with my new Kahtoola Mountain 24s.  These allow you to snowshoe when you need to, and have front Microspikes for when you don’t.  It’s really easy to detach/attach the two, and the shoe portion (seen here) is firmly attached.  While Microspikes may rule to roost in terms of strait ice performance, when in mixed terrain (or just snowshoeing) I’ll be leaving the Microspikes behind.

I think I may head up to NH this weekend, now that I’ve found out it’s a 3-day weekend.  My brother got my parents a TV computer for Christmas, but it was a little shy on RAM and video power.  I got my parents a supplemental video card for it, but installing it is beyond them.  I’ve also got some old RAM waiting in the wings for it.  Plus my mom’s PSU fan is super loud, so I think I’ll give them one of my PSUs for her desk computer.  I actually have an older barebones kind of sitting around that may serve as a good upgrade for them, though I think it may be sans GPU, and I believe my mother’s existing video card in there is AGP rather than PCI-E.  I should have a PCI-E nVidia 7900 somewhere, I think…  I do have another motherboard with integrated video, but it doesn’t support 32nm processors, which my Intel 5200 uses.

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