Saturday, November 30, 2013

Hello! :D

Hello again!  How was everyone's Thanksgiving?  With my family being so un-traditional, we had a nice quiet dinner eating Korean bulgogi and kimchi.  No turkey had to die for us this year.  XD

It was nice not having the stress of baking a turkey.  I recall doing that one year and it took so much work... and our family doesn't even care for turkey!

We've decided that this Christmas, we'll be un-traditional again and have a 'Japanese style' Christmas.  What is that you ask?  To those who don't know, Christmas is popularly known as a couple's holiday in Japan.  That means it's a big deal for people to hook up and have some gf/bf to spend Christmas with.  Now, for all the sexy singles it's a nice time to spend a peaceful night with the family with some good ol' Christmas cake and KFC.  Yes, KFC.  They've earned quite a name for themselves in Japan and make big $$$ selling fried Chicken on Christmas.  Our family won't necessarily buy from KFC but we were thinking of something along the lines of fried chicken where we won't have to cook much.

This whole situation just works for our family since most of our extended family resides in Hawaii, thousands of miles away and we're just not obligated like before.  Basically, we can do whatever the hell we want with no strings attached.  So un-traditional holiday it is!

Recently I've finally nabbed a new job~!  *Does a happy dance*  It's temporary but I really don't care because at least I won't have to work in retail as much.   It's at an exhibit with insects and sea creatures and it's just a great, positive environment to be in.  I still have my other job, but I can work there less because I have hours elsewhere.  They also pay more, albeit just a little bit.  But hey, it can make a big difference if the dollar amount changes.  XD 

There is also a new Korean market that opened fairly close by (note: I don't have to drive 45 min - an hour to get there).  The one we used to go to was all the way in downtown and we didn't like going there much because of the drive.  Now that we finally have one that's 20 minutes away, it's total bliss.  I can finally get melona bars!  Has anyone else tried these?  They're so yummy! :9

The Korean market has a lot of other cool stuff like kimchi, banchan (side dishes), housewares, thinly sliced korean meat, and soon, they'll even have a food court!  There's tons of Korean goodies in that store that we just can't get at a Vietnamese/Chinese market.  It's great to have more variety. ^^

 A pretty seat cushion I found...  ”^W^”

What else....  I've started using this social site where people from around the world can talk about their interest in Japan.  People from Japan can use the site to talk to other's around the world.  In my experience of using it, it's a neat way to give and take.  For example, I help people in Japan learn English while they teach me some Japanese.  It's all through writing but it's helped me learn a lot about sentence structure and I feel like I understand a lot more than I used to.  It's also cool because we can ask each other questions about the other's culture.

A recent example is a Japanese friend asking me about the 'American Christmas'.  I write back to her in English but I also translate to Japanese so she can point out my errors and give me tips on what a more common phrase would be (she's much better at using English than I am at using Japanese).  I tend to have to rely on Google Translate but still, I've learned how to phrase things so that they translate more smoothly.   There's also the fact that there are many things with no direct translation.

I've had to explain to another Japanese friend I correspond with, the use of 'in' and 'at'.  I've found that the Japanese language doesn't distinguish between those two words the same as it does in English.  People will find interesting facts like that while talking with people from Japan.

I highly recommend people to try social sites with Japanese - English speakers.  It's a great way to learn Japanese reading/writing and some basic conversational Japanese.


XOXO Gossip Girl: America's take on the many Asian dramas about elite society?

I know... this show is old news.  6-years-old to be exact.  But on Netflix, there is one nice thing about old TV shows and that is the older they are, the more seasons are listed.  As of now, the entire series is up for the taking.  That totals to a daunting 121 episodes that are roughly 42 min each.  This is gonna take a while but I'm up for the ride.

What I first found fascinating about this show was the small, yet significant similarity to Boys Over Flowers.  Or perhaps it's closer to Heirs..  Regardless, both have rich and elite teens plotting against one another in high class society.  I was very curious to see America's take on this material.

I find it fascinating to see the cultural differences between the two shows.  One can learn plenty about culture through media.

Some major differences between Asian and American television is the sexuality.  At least, in the comparison of Korea vs. America, the sexuality is far more intense in American television.  Sex appears to be a light topic among teens in America where simply kissing is a big deal in Korea.  And not french kissing.  No, no, that appears to be forbidden territory with the high school teens of Korea.  It takes forever to build up to that light kiss on the lips and by the time that happens, the American teens are already taking it to the bedroom.

I also noticed that I have never seen any of the Gossip Girl characters actually in the classroom.  And I'm already into season 2...  Most of Gossip Girl takes place in the homes of characters or at parties/events.  If they're in school, they're making out in the courtyard.  In the Korean dramas, at least 50% of the show takes place on campus.  Hmm... that says a lot about Asia vs. America's emphasis on school, lol.

Another major difference is the bullying.  Boys Over Flowers is full of mean to sadistic bullying schemes and makes Gossip Girl bullying look like child's play.  Actually, in Gossip Girl, most of the misdeeds are fairly straightforward with most people being quite confrontational about it.  This is an interesting topic because it says a great deal about Americans and Asians.  It's sort of like how Japanese people tend to be non-confrontational compared to Americans in general being confrontational.  

So far, I'm having a great time watching the show.  It's extremely entertaining and I love the differences between all the characters.  I especially enjoy watching Chuck Bass...

What can I say?  I have a thing for the bad boys; they've always got the best character development. ;)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Should I or shouldn't I?

I'm at a sort of crossroad right now.  Recently, I've 'temporarily' landed a new job.  It pays better, I won't have to deal with clothes, and I have a set schedule.  But it's temporary.. D:

The reason I'm starting to think about the big 'Q' word is also because there's upcoming schedule conflicts and I'm starting to feel the effects of the "downer culture" in the workplace.  What is "downer culture?"  I'll give an example.

I walk into the break room for my 30 minute lunch.  I open the door and there's a bunch of my coworkers chatting.  Great.  Walking over, I grab a seat and sit nearby.  Now one would hope that coworkers could have a nice chat about some mindless cr*p about the weather or even a TV show they watched recently.  I wouldn't even mind if they were talking politics.  But no, 90% of the time, they're b*tching about work and repeating sh*t that everyone already knows about.  They're not thinking of solutions.  They're complaining.  Which is totally understandable in a stressful job but seriously, we're all on break.  Could we leave out work related stuff for at least this sacred amount of time we have to be away from it all?  I notice there's a newbie nearby and I FEEL for her.  I mean, she's just started this job and I can only imagine what she must be thinking being in this room of disgruntled associates complaining about the job she just got hired for.  Trust me, I've been in her shoes and that doesn't help with new hires.  It's like tying an anchor to the fresh morale of the workplace and letting it sink into the farthest depths of the abyss.

That is "downer culture."  It's when the majority of the workplace has a dark, grim, and sad outlook of their job.  When coworkers talk with each other, a lot of it is complaining about their job without including proactive measures to fix their problems.  It's complaining without solution.  And it can potentially reduce the enthusiasm and optimism of the workplace, much like a cold wind blowing out a small candle. 

A person may not notice it right away, but it's there, varying from minimal to larger levels and beyond.

Now back to the main question.  Should I quit?  I really want to.  I have a new job, there's some schedule conflicts coming up, and I don't want to deal with them.  And I hardly ever work at that job anymore. 

This spring, I'll be taking a CNA course to get certified and I know there will be many schedule conflicts...  The thing is, this job I want to quit has these certain, 'special' work days where we can't deal with them until a few days before.  It's pretty lame and for a job that has so much flexibility, this is a glaring flaw in the system.

Well, I'll keep thinking about it.  I've gotta sort out my pros and cons. ;)

Monday, November 11, 2013

ANIME: Brief Opinions and Reviews 03

WataMote - Watashi ga Motenai no wa dou Kangaetemo Omaera ga Warui!

English title: No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!
Release date: July, 2013
Creator: Tanigawa, Nico (Manga, 2011)
Genre: Slice-of-life, Comedy, Tragedy

Story: Otome game obsessed Kuroki Tomoko has extensive experience in relationships and dated hundreds of boys... in otome games.  In reality, Tomoko has never dated a guy and has lost contact with many of her friends from middle school.  Now she's starting her first year of high school.  What will become of (extremely) socially awkward Tomoko?

Review: This is the first time I've ever watched a tragic comedy genre anime.  Combining the two themes creates an entirely new flavor which is something along the lines of bittersweet and sarcastic.

Tomoko is a character that touches the lonely soul in all of us.  I can only cheer her on as she stumbles through the social obstacles of life.  The way that she overly fantasizes and mentally spites those around her who seem happy gives her character a certain realism that isn't often seen.  Sort of like what a person could be thinking deep down but never actually shows it on the outside.

Despite Tomoko's many tragic failures at trying to fit in and make friends (and the depressing mood that comes along with it), there are some instances where she does succeed in her own way; there's also many hilarious moments created in her attempts to socialize.  One of my most favorite parts of the series is how Tomoko childishly torments her younger, more mature brother.  She basically forces him to interact with her every so often or else she gets super dramatic and threatens to kill herself, lol.  

Mirai Nikki

Release date: October, 2011
Creator: Esuno, Sakae (Manga, 2006)
Genre: Supernatural, Horror, Action, Romance, Psychological

Story: Amano Yukiteru AKA, "Yuki," is a loner who spends most of his time blogging on his cell.  He doesn't have any friends so he makes up two imaginary friends by the names of Deux Ex Machina, the God of time and space, and the servant Murmur.  One day, Yuki's phone starts to post blogs before he can write them, clearly detailing events before they actually happen.  At first Yuki is elated to find he has the power to tell the future with his new 'Mirai Nikki' or "Future Diary."  This feeling soon ends when he discovers he's been put into a battle royale game with 11 other players by Deux who's not so imaginary after all.  The last player living will be pronounced the new 'God' of time and space.

Review: I was looking for another 'survival game' kind of anime and eventually stumbled across "Mirai Nikki."  What hooked me at first was the main character being a socially awkward boy who spends most of his time on his cellphone, blogging about his life.  I guess I'll always love the socially awkward ones.  The idea of mixing a supernatural power with modern technology such as a cellphone was really cool and I love the strategies they came up with.  Personally, I had to pay really close attention to what was happening so I could understand explanations that came later.

The element of horror presents itself early in the series with the mystery behind the girl Yuno who's crazy obsessed over Yuki to the point of stalking him and doesn't bat an eye when it comes to killing.  I really like the Yuki/Yuno story because she's so crazy yet he has to trust her as she's the one protecting him. 

The stylized animation and facial expressions are very well done  It's impressive what the animators did because of what little they had to work with; the manga doesn't have nearly as much expression in characters' faces compared to the anime.

I highly recommend people to watch "Mirai Nikki."  It's a great survival game anime that has a nice blend of tactics and psychological horror. 

 Psycho - Pass 

Release date: October, 2012
Creator: Shiotani, Naoyoshi; Urobuchi, Gen; Production I.G. (Anime, 2012)
Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopia, Cyberpunk, Psychological, Drama, Action, Crime

Story: What if an individuals' criminal potential could be measured?  Psycho Pass takes place in the future where a person's 'crime coefficient' can be measured through a cymatic brain scan.  Tsunemori Akane starts her first day of work as an inspector for the Public Safety Bureau's Criminal Investigation Division, Unit 1.  She learns that she'll be working with people known as 'latent criminals' who have had their crime coefficients deemed too high with no chance of recovery.  They use a weapon called "The Dominator" which can only fire at criminals with a high enough crime coefficient.  Violent and disturbing crimes are being committed within the city and they suspect there is a mastermind pulling the strings.

Review: I got seriously mind-raped by this anime.  I guess it's because I haven't watched a good psychological genre in a while.  I love the high-tech environment and how society was under oppression by a higher intelligence.  It's quite familiar, being a theme I see a lot in sci-fi.

The idea of people getting measured for their crime potentials or how dangerous they are is an intriguing proposal for 'the better of society' and I like that this anime explored what would happen if this system were to exist.  All the characters were interesting and the antagonist was well fleshed out and had some understandable motives, despite how twisted he was.

There were some truly freaky episodes in this anime and it's scary because there's a high possibility that the messed up, psychotic people just like the ones in this show, exist in reality.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Anime Food!: Brock's Cream Stew

Hello again!  My apologies for taking so long to make another 'Anime Food' post.  Enjoy!

During my childhood days of watching Pokemon, I would often see Brock cooking this white stew thing.  It would look so yummy but I had no idea what it was..  And even though my entire family and extended family was Japanese, none of them ever made something like this.  (T__T)  The closest thing I got was corn chowder.

Only recently did I discover that it's called cream stew and luckily, it's quite the easy recipe. ^^

I remember the very first time I made this.  I used a cream stew mix pack from the store (the one that has the blocks that you melt in the pot).  That turned out pretty bad so I highly recommend people make this one from scratch.  It's really does taste so much better this way. 

I'm lazy so instead of having the pretty diced pieces of carrot, I threw in some baby carrots.  XD

Close up ;3

I found this recipe on Little Japan Mama's recipe blog.  I tried her recipe first but after finding I didn't prefer the outcome of the stew's consistency, I modified the recipe.


Cream Roux
- 3 cups milk (add more if you want a more liquid consistency)
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup flour (add more if you want a thicker consistency)

- carrots (1/2 bag of baby carrots or 2 large carrots)
- 1 potato
- 1 bunch of broccoli (crown part)
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1 small tray of chicken 
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- salt/pepper for taste

In my opinion, the best way to start this recipe is by prepping the vegetables and chicken.  First I slice and dice the carrots and potato.  I put those in a covered pyrex bowl and microwave them for around 2 minutes each, take them out and poke them with a toothpick to check, and then zap them again in the microwave for another 1-2 minutes.

Meanwhile, I blanch the broccoli in boiling water, 2 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other side.  If you have a large pot that submerges the entire bunch of broccoli, just 2 minutes should be enough.  Once it's blanched, chop off the top part of the broccoli (the crown) and rip it into bite size pieces.

After finishing all that, I dice up the chicken and onion and fry those until they're cooked.  

Now it's time to work on that cream roux.  Pour the milk into a (large) pot and add the flour and butter.  Stir all of that on low heat, slowly turning up the heat until the mixture thickens.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Feel free to add other seasonings as well such as parsley. 
*If you want a thicker mixture, add more flour. 
*If you want a more liquidy mixture, add more milk.

Once the cream roux is at the consistency and taste you prefer, dump all other ingredients (except potatoes) into that pot.
*Tip: Add the potatoes at the very end because if the mixture is too hot, it melts the potatoes and leaves a weird, starchy consistency to your cream stew.
*Note that the vegetables and chicken will have their own water content so if the cream roux is consistency is too thick for your liking, keep in mind that adding all other ingredients may water it down.  So you may not have to add more milk.

And you're done!  Great job!  Enjoy your cream stew over some hot rice.  ^^

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Heirs: I finally get to see Lee Min Ho in a 'rich-boy poor-girl' drama AGAIN! xD

Release date: October, 2013
Director: Kang Shin Hyo
Writer: Kim Eun Sook
Actors: Lee Min Ho, Park Shin Hye, Yoon Jin Seo
Episodes: 20
Genre: Romance, Chaebol

The excitement of the great Lee Min Ho starring in a chaebol drama reached my ears soon after it was released.

This drama gets off to a good start.  Fated soul mates meet in the foreign and exotic land of Orange County and go through various escapades together and eventually fall in love.  Only later do they meet up again in Korea and realize their vast social class differences.. Yet fate has it that they're living under the same roof!  Cohabitation drama it is! 

I'm not a big fan of the first few episodes taking place in Cali (as novel as it may seem) with all the stereotypical 'white people' of America but what can you do...  Koreans going to school in America has been a long-standing, strange rite of passage that's slightly difficult for me to understand.

At least the American setting serves as good humor.  It's funny to see the Korean's view of a stereotypical Californian American.  Apparently in their eyes, most white people are blonde and blue-eyed, beach girls have perfectly toned bodies, and the surfer dudes are unintelligent potheads.  Well, at least they got one part right with the two obese Americans huffing and puffing while chasing the couple down the street.  They hit that nail on the head.  lol

 "I'm a sad, handsome, rich boy....  Feel my emo..."

Lee Min Ho appears as another troubled rich guy.  W-wait!  No, not the Goo Jun Pyo kind of rich guy but a NEW and improved rich guy, with more poise and a better hairstyle!

 Now this guy, he's the more 'Goo Jun Pyo' kind of character, albeit a bit meaner.  Is that even possible?

I'm quite interested in this new mean rich boy, Choi Young Do, played by Kim Woo Bin.  There always has to be at least one of these archetypes in chaebol dramas.  XD  But I don't blame them.  The 'bad boys' always add that necessary spice to dramas.

Despite all the stereotypical characters in this chaebol drama, I'm still excited to see how they all play out.  The characters still seem somewhat unique to me, even though it's an age-old formula.  This drama has a slightly more mature feel compared to Boys Over Flowers.

 "Love me..."

Prepare yourself for watching many of Lee Min Ho's brooding scenes like the one above for the first few...... errr..  many episodes to come. ;D

Regardless of how my tone sounds, I'm really enjoying this drama, especially now that I've caught up to the part where there all safely back in Korea.  ^^  I'm so glad I'm past the 'Cali adventure'.  In all honesty, all the acting that was done in English was waaay too forced and overplayed.  My eyes and ears were burning from the terrible acting.  I wonder if native Koreans were aware of the cheesy scenes in English...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pokemon-Y: O-Powers and Earning Lots of Poke $$$

In my opinion, O-Powers are VERY poorly explained in the game.  I hope this clears up a few things about O-Powers. ^^

Can I say screw Mr. Bonding and his terrible explaining skills?  I did not understand O-Powers at all for almost my entire time of gameplay.  I always thought he was just this weird guy you would find in a hotel room and he would *ahem*, "bond" with you when the screen turned black.  I'd be left wondering what inappropriate things he was doing to me in the dark...  After bonding time, he would give me some kind of bonding power that I didn't know how to use.

Back to the topic, O-Powers are found on the PSS (Player Search System) screen that's located on the bottom screen of the 3DS.  Simply toggle with the R or L buttons to get there.

PSS screen

Once there, click on the icon circled in red.

This screen should pop up.  If not, click the arrow to the right to get to it.  Click the 'O-Power' icon.

This screen should show up presenting you with all the O-Powers you've collected from Mr. Bonding.  The bottom part of the screen shows a sort of battery kind of feature with several circles that are highlighted green.  This is like a gauge.  When you use O-Powers, it takes a toll of around 2-5 or more 'green circles' when you use O-Powers on yourself.  The toll is less when you're generous and use it on other players/friends. 

The effects of these O-Powers last 3 minutes each.

There's also a timer clock on the far right of this bar and as the seconds go by, the 'O-Power Battery' slowly recharges.  It actually refills quickly.

One of my personal favorite O-Powers is the "Prize Money Power."  I'll tell you why in a bit...

I only recently got Prize Money Power Lv.2.  I didn't know it existed until now...

 You can see here it states the toll for using it on yourself and for others.  It's 5 circles for yourself and 3 circles for others.

Here I clicked on Prize Money Power Lv.2.  My 'Prize Money Power' leveled up after using it several times.

So here's the deal.  Most people who've played Pokemon already know about the 'Amulet Coin' and how if there's a pokemon in your party that's holding it AND participates in the battle, the prize money will double.  Well what if you could add even more money to that?

I've been using my Prize Money Power while battling the Elite-4 and it's significantly raised my Poke-cash winnings.  Here's the layout of how much I earned in different scenarios with the amulet coin attached:

- Without Prize Money Power: Around 15000 for each of the Elite-4 members and around 20000 from Champion Diantha

Prize Money Power Lv.1: Around 26000 from each of the Elite-4 and around 30000 from Champion Diantha (sorry, don't remember...)

- Prize Money Power Lv.2: 52000 from each of the Elite-4 and 65280 from Champion Diantha

As you can see, by using O-Powers the amount of money increases significantly.  So please, use your O-Powers while playing throughout the game and increase your earnings.  Another way to earn extra money is by going to the Battle Chateau and issuing a Writ so more NPC's are available in it.  The Writ expires at midnight so if you want to make the most of it (it costs 50000), issue the Writ as early as you can. 

What's so great about extra money you ask?  Well, I guess it depends on the player.  Personally, I enjoy buying clothes from boutiques in the game and dressing up my character.  There's also the 'star' restaurants in Lumiose City that require you to pay a fee to get into the 'nicer' areas of the restaurant to possibly battle more NPC's.  Although the Pokemon League is my personal favorite way to level up pokemon.  

And O-Powers are not only good for earning extra Poke-cash, but it's also good for hatching eggs faster, increasing exp points, raising attack stats for battles, and much more.

I hope that this explanation was helpful to you.  

Here's a few more tips I'd like to share:

1.) The soothe bell isn't necessary for evolving Eevee into an Espeon or Umbreon.  So if you somehow lose it through trading (as I did), don't panic!  Pokemon amie works just fine for getting an Eevee to evolve.  A good way is to breed an Eevee at the Pokemon Daycare and with the newly hatched Lv.1 Eevee, play with it in Pokemon amie until it has at least 1 heart level.  My Eevee evolved into an Espeon during the day when I did this and I only had to level it up to Lv.10.

2.) Pay close attention to Pokemon 'natures', especially if you're going to get a special Pokemon like a legendary or an exclusive like Charmander, Squirtle, etc.  Make sure it's a desirable nature before you take the pokemon.  NOTE: You can always save before the scene where you get the pokemon so you can turn off your 3DS and start over if the nature of the pokemon is undesirable.

3.) IMPORTANT!: Try to refrain from saving in Lumiose City, especially outside.  I heard that there's a game glitch that can ruin your save file if you save outside while in Lumiose City.  I personally stay away from saving in that city at all.

4.) If you want to fill up your pokedex early, an easy way to do it is to go on Wonder Trade which is one of the icons besides O-Powers.  You can offer up any pokemon you want to Wonder Trade and you'll get random pokemon back.  Beware though, you don't know what you'll get in return (meaning it's not exactly a fair trade) so don't go sending off your rares and legendaries on Wonder Trade.  Some people are nice and give decent offers but there's always the chance of getting that lame Bidoof-us.  lol