Sake Guy

Oh Crap, 196 new Joyo kanji!

Originally published at KIT KOW SKI. You can comment here or there.

So for those J-Learners, the Joyo (Jouyou, but Hepburn can kiss my ass) kanji are the kanji that it was determined all literate people should know. I think the stats are something like, “Aside from place/people names, any given piece of literature (read: The Newspaper) has to be 90% (95%?) readable given the 1945 characters of the Joyo kanji pool.” In other words, if you know all the Joyo kanji (and presumably their combinations, etc) you can pretty much read anything.

Looks like this move was made to increase not so much the “kanji you need to know back and forth, read and written”, but rather “kanji you need to at least recognize upon reading, as they appear more often in this generation”.

I just got word that the total is increasing to 2136, adding 196 kanji and removing 5.

At first, I reacted as per the title of this blog post. But then I saw the list, here:

Originally found out about it from this blog over here.

Uh… OK. That’s actually not that bad at all. Out of the 5 being removed, I only knew one anyway. And of the 196 being added, just by reading normal stuff (manga, news, books, etc) you already know most of them anyway. Seriously, “Ore” (the manly “I” pronoun) wasn’t a Joyo kanji already? Huh.

In fact, going over the list at the link above, there is only… 36 I can’t read/recognize. Double Huh. That’s not so bad.

An interesting side note: A lot of these I learned directly from Japanese tabletop role-playing games.妖(bizarre, “Ayakashi” in the game uses this kanji)、刹(shrine, but it is also the second kanji of “Rakusatsu”, or “Rakshasa”, an evil spirit)、爪(claw)、脇(side/ribs)、瑠(treasure)、虎(tiger)、駒(horse/cavalry)、嵐(storm)、怨(grudge; like from the movie)、斬(to slice with a katana; “to kill” in samurai-speak)、溺(drown)、呪(curse) alone I picked up from Tenra Bansho Zero. Others like 呂 I picked up from equally geeky sources (It’s part of Lu Bu’s name, the terror of the Three Kingdoms era).

So, interesting. I’ve got almost 40 new kanji to learn at some point, and not nearly as bad as I thought. Cool. And if it sounds scary, don’t sweat it. Most of them you’ll pick up from comics or daily life anyway (丼、串、俺、尻、旦、嗅、etc), not to mention place names.

Sake Guy

CREE: Decisions, decisions…

Originally published at KIT KOW SKI. You can comment here or there.

I’ve got 5 contracts of Cree (100 shares each), at about a value of 60, expiry Jan 2011. Currently waffling on placing a covered call for July, at 65 or 70.

If 65, option will almost certainly divest (if not, then whoppee I can lease it out again at no loss), total gain $1750 instantly, and an additional approx $2500 if its above 65 on the third Friday in July.

Or, do I go for a strike price of 70? Total gain $850 instantly, which is less of course. Also, lesser chance of it hitting 70, which means I could then lease it again in July, meaning more potential future profit. But if it does hit 70 (CREE’s gains are often swift, so it’s pretty much a coin toss), there’s an additional $5000 payout.

Hmmm, will have to do some thinking…

UPDATE: A few hours later, and the above numbers shuffled a little, I’m rolling with the 70 strike price for July.

Sake Guy

Weird Twist of Fate at the Game Store

Originally published at KIT KOW SKI. You can comment here or there.

Had to drop off the Honda Fit for service near Southpoint. When I was done, I took a detour up to the SciFi Genre game store in Durham, my favorite local place to pick up boardgames and the like. I wandered around for a bit, when I came to the “Discount Shelf Area”. There, for the marked down price of one single dollar, was my favorite Japanese tabletop RPG: Doublecross (2nd edtition), in perfect condition. Even the “Scene Player” card and survey form was intact. I asked the employee when I bought it what the deal was, but while he was aware of it (“I was waiting to see who would pick that up!”), he had no idea how it got there.

Now it’s mine. That’s fate kicking me in the pants, saying “Finish up Tenra, then run a Doublecross campaign for your friends.”

Random Wednesday Thoughts:

* Moved all my investing/Scottrade cash over to OptionsFirst (“”), and have begun experimenting with various option platforms. Currently have a few contracts of CREE, Jan 2011 expiry, a call with a strike of 30. Next, from now until then, I plan to lease it out by making covered calls against it. We’ll see how that does. It’s definitely interesting to make the same amount of money with only a fraction of the overhead of owning the stock in full.

* P90X: Day 3. Tightness kicking in. Totally wiped out after the *warmups* for Plyometrics, but it’s solid. And amazingly enough, it’s pretty fun too. I didn’t expect the fun part…

* PS3: Picked up Riddick: Dark Athena and God of War III. GoW is… well, not surprising at all. But the graphics are really, REALLY pretty, plus the reconceptualization of the Greek Gods is pretty cool.

* Currently reading “Gakuen Kakumei-den Mitsurugi” (“Mitsurugi: Tale of the School Revolution”). It’s probably my current favorite comedy manga (Saint Niisan in a close second place), I’m really enjoying the mini stories. If you read Japanese and dig surreal/human comedy (not so much slapstick, but watching twisted people make bad decisions over and over), I highly recommend this series. Plus, the art is gorgeous.

* So, aside from getting in shape, I’m also (stupidly enough) also getting better at making Parisian Macarons. I bought the “I Love Macarons” book from Amazon that I originally borrowed at the library, which started my descent into this party frenzy. I already have ideas of what to do for my next batch: Basically strong vanilla/vanilla-bean macaron shell, and buttercream in several flavors including Grand Mariner Orange, Vanilla, Matcha, and Ligonberry. While at the same time being careful not to eat too many, as I’m simultaneously dieting/exercising. This kinda feels like Greek Hell, but far more delicious.

Sake Guy

Red Cliff – Guide for Whitey

Originally published at KIT KOW SKI. You can comment here or there.

Guan Yu has 140 Wei spearmen exactly where he wants them

So on Easter we had a really fun meetup at my place with about a dozen people: We celebrated the Resurrection by watching a ruthless tyrant* get his shit smashed to bits on the Yangtze.

* According to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which was written by the descendants of Shu/Liu Bei’s camp. Otherwise, he was just a ruthless yet charismatic, skilled, and even brilliant statesman, strategist and warlord just trying to bring a country together.

So anyway, we watched it on Blu-Ray, both parts, with a little hour intermission in the middle. It was flat-out awesome, a great movie overall in tone, scene and definitely action. There were roars of “Woah!” and applause, usually when Guan Yu or Zhao Yun stepped into the scene.

I spent years in Japan, and in Japan the Tale of the Three Kingdoms (and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the classic Chinese fictionalized account of the war; sort of the Braveheart job done to post-Qin China) over in China and Japan (possibly Korea as well?) is like the tales of King Arthur over here, only moreso. Pretty much everyone in Japan knows the major players by name if not by deed.

Plus, if you’ve played any of the Koei war sims like Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Kessen, or the Dynsasy Warrios/Sangoku Musou series, you know who the major players are. If nothing else, you’re like “Oh yeah, Zhuge Liang is the one who fires lightning out of his feather-fan, Sun Shangxiang is the one who flies around with these giant ring-weapons, and Gan Ning is the dude with all the tattoos and the giant ringed broadsword!” Despite the mythic powers they’re given in video games, at least having some grounding in the games helps you sort out who is what.

Anyway, for the big day I went ahead and pulled a bunch of pics off of the awesome website (the English Red Cliff site is a pile of crap in comparison; it just talks about the movie, while the Japanese and Chinese sites give history, relationship maps, etc). Here it is, I actually did some research on Wikipedia, Three Kingdoms Wiki, and other places. I summarized the major generals and leaders that appear in the movie into 1-2 sentences each. Folks at the party said it helped them, so here you go. The only change I made to the original was that I removed Huang Zhong and replaced him with Lu Su: Even though Huang Zhong has a big role in the battle (he’s the one that sets fire to the ships historically), he appears far less in the movie than I expected of Lu Su.

Download It Here. It’s not super-pretty, but I did it in Word in about 30 minutes the night before watching the movie. Hopefully it will help other people who didn’t grow up in Asia or come under the influence of the tale still enjoy the movie that much more, with just a touch of inside/deeper knowledge of the events and people of the Red Cliff battle.


Sake Guy

Chobi: 1997-2010

Originally published at KIT KOW SKI. You can comment here or there.

What a great run. 13 years, FIV positive cat. We had to put him to sleep tonight due to some really bad lymphoma. He was the last of the three cats we brought to America with us from Japan in 2000.

When he was born, his bent tail meant that he wasn’t picked from the litter, so Orie kept him. He was a runt, so he was named Chobi (ちょび), kind of a play on “small” in Japanese. Man, he turned out huge and strong, though. His bent tail basically led him on an adventure that had him come to America from Japan at age three, where he lived the rest of his life here.

Yeah, it’s sad, but he had a great run for a cat I think.


Sake Guy

Tuesday Thoughts

Originally published at KIT KOW SKI. You can comment here or there.

* Been going to the work gym at lunch lately. Been a while, I didn’t know they had a new use-and-toss towel system. Feels good, but I really wish there were more free weights: The Smith machine for straight up-down lifts only gets you so far…

* I love all that I’m reading/seeing of the game “Sleep is Death”. Unfortunately, due to the two-punch combo of old Linksys router (no UPnP) and Vonage router, I can’t broadcast/receive on the port required to host a game, I can only play. I’ll have to look into that later.

* Pulled out of options this month on basic Scottrade while I basically move my cash over to Scottrade’s Options First getup. I like the services it provides, but it’s not as second-to-second accurate as Think-or-Swim: So I’ll probably need to use Options First to actually set my spreads, but ToS to do the planning.

* I’ve started practicing kanji again, doing about 10 a day: Mostly ones that I already know how to read, but either never learned (or forgot how) to write. Last night I went through 路,機,関,到,局,故,発 and a few others: All ones I could easily recognize or read, but totally forgot the stroke count, or would draw a blank when trying to write. Also, 機 (machine) I realized I never learned to write properly, so that was good practice. I’m going through the best books in the biz for learning kanji, the Basic Kanji Book (vol 2), Intermediate Kanji Book, both sets by Chieko Kano/Bonjinsha.

* Watching classic Shaw Brothers movies recently: The “Dragon Dynasty” studio has been remastering and re-releasing them recently, and they’re doing an incredible job: Most of them are so cleared up that they look like they were filmed last year, camerawork anachronisms aside. Watched Heroes of the East (ninjas in a kung fu movie!), My Young Auntie (silly parts are silly, but otherwise a phenomenal work with tons of budding kung fu legends) from Netflix, and I went out and purchased the remastered Five Deadly Venoms (五毒).

I realized after watching Five Deadly Venoms again – this was THE movie that got my young child brain interested in martial arts and The East – that it was much slower than I remember. It also has a far more solid, intricate plot that I expected, including an entire suspense/mystery/conspiracy. The characters are memorable even outside their animal stances (particularly “Toad’ and “Lizard”), and I found myself even sympathizing with “Cobra”.  Must have been the first “movie twist” that my eyes ever saw. And I figured out that, while there’s not as much constant kung-fu action as other Shaw Brothers flicks, the dress, mannerisms, styles and “powers” of the 5 leads take them from “kung fu badasses” and puts them into the category of “superheroes”. On the playground back in Baton Rouge in kindergarten and first grade, the boys didn’t play Cops and Robbers or Superheroes, we played “Five Deadly Venoms” (“No *I* want to be Centipede!”). Even after all these years and a wash of nostalgia, the remastered/Dragon Dynasty version of this flick is excellent.

* All my shoes are suddenly getting old. Or better yet it’s probably more appropriate to say that I finally am noticing that all my shoes are getting old. So I’m buying sneakers, hiking boots and sandals all at the same time. Ordered some sneakers to try from Zappos; traded in my ECCOs (which I love, but the size was never quite right for hiking socks) for Merrell/Vibram waterproof hikers; tried on several pairs of sandals (my ECCOs are wearing out, the velcro straps coming apart) from Teva but nothing fit quite right, instead picked up a pair of Sanuk flip-flops for work. Kinda expensive, but I tend to keep shoes for like 6+ years a pair, depending on wear, so I just have to suck it up.

* The new season of Japanese Dramas is here with a vengeance: I’m downloading left and right, will take a few days to watch the first 1-2 eps of each and separate the wheat from the chaff. For now, I’m kinda both looking forward to and at the same time dreading “Keibuho Yabe Kenzo” (Kenzo Yabe of the Police Department’s Public Safety Wing). It’s a spinoff of one of the side-characters from one of my favorite dramas (one of the most popular in the last decade), “TRICK”, which is a bizarre, surreal murder-mystery drama. Yabe Kenzo is the bumbling detective/comic relief, so while I appreciate the TRICK connection, I’m not sure if the series can stand on its own. We’ll see, I guess.

* Movies: Red Cliff (epic!), When the Last Sword is Drawn (totally awesome, but kinda long in a few places), Kick Ass (very fun), Hot Tub Time Machine (loved it), Time Crimes (cool time travel movie; poor girl), I Love You Man (cute).

Sake Guy

The perfect blend of EDUCATION and INTERWEBS

So a bunch of friends and I spent Easter watching both parts (I and II) of John Woo's epic Red Cliff, and epic it was. In general: Awesome. I'll get more specific later.

Anyway, I got nostalgic for the "Dynasty Warriors" PS2/PS3 game series, so I was doing some research into determining which one would be the best bang for the buck to get (older versions, like 4, are pretty solid and complete and only run about $14.00; newer versions are more). So I was looking up some vids on Youtube, and caught this hilarious comment in the middle of some history flamewar where some folks were discussing KOEI (the game company that makes the game) and their using history to make a video game, and discrepancies where the game deviates from history (ie "having the losing side win", etc):

"What the fuck are you talking about. Are you stupid? Lu Bu was killed cause he attacked Pu Yang and fled to Xia Pi. Cao Cao got pissed and attacked Lu Bu at Xia Pi, Lu bu was being a turd and started whipping his generals for drinking. His generals then turned on him and tied lu bu up when he was sleeping. They then surrendered and Cao Cao executed Lu Bu. LEARN IT BEFORE YOU COMMENT!! Cao Pi lived wya longer after Lu Bu got killed. He died after Cao Cao died not before. Sheesh, dumtard!"*

Dumbtard... indeed.

* No, I don't follow it either. Save for some of the names, like Cao Cao and Lu Bu (one the most fearsome warriors in Chinese history, even moreso than Guan Yu). Still, it was fun to see people doing internet mocking on an obvious background of ancient Chinese military history.
Sake Guy

Feelgood music for a shitty week!

Originally published at KIT KOW SKI. You can comment here or there.

Health: Almost completely better, only mild stomach funk left.

But work’s been a real monster. I’ve been reading Kitchen Confidential in my off-time, and this week work’s been feeling like a prep line during a week-long rush hour.

So some feelgood music from Japanese Soul artist “bird” (バード):

Mondo Grosso feat bird


And heck, some feelgood breakdancing at a popping/locking competition.