Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Year 5 Anniversary

Well, another year has come and gone again.  Not really a whole lot to talk about this time, though.  When we'd left off a year ago, my left foot was still broken after I'd gotten hit by a car while crossing the street at the crosswalk. My foot's now healed and the ankle has been rehabbed to where there's no limp anymore.  I was going to an exercise gym on the 7th floor of a department store near the main train station and using their running machines twice a week, but I've been too busy recently to do that for the last month. The weather's been unpredictable for the last 6 months, so I've only been able to do one long walk. I need to establish a regular routine somehow. The nice things about the department store gym are that it's out of the volcano ash and it's cheap ($1 per visit). The drawback is that it's only open from 10 AM to 5 PM.

I'm now up to a little over 1,810 posts on this blog. Mediafire, the hosting site I use for my photos, keeps changing their URL link formats, and occasionally losing some of the photos. I've found, also, that they really slow to a snail's pace if a folder has more that 200 or so photos. I'd been putting 1,000 photos in each folder to keep the directory structures more simple, and that's not working out anymore. Unfortunately, they're the only service that has huge limits on file space and transfers, and they're free. So, I created a new user account and started using a different directory tree structure, with no more than 100 files per folder. Hopefully that will make browsing the photos faster. But, with over 10,000 photos under the old account, there's no way I'm going to go back and fix all the broken links in the previous 1,800 blog entries.

Nothing new to talk about on the work front. Still teaching English to a few students and doing some online teaching support.

I've been a bit more active for kit building and modding, though, ever since I found an electronics component parts store a quarter-mile from the apartment. Gakken is only coming out with their Otono no Kagaku kits at 3 or 4 per year now, down from their earlier rate of occasionally 5 per year. So, there's a longer gap between kits. To fill in that gap, I bought a new copy of the Japanino, and ordered the LCD shield from Sparkfun in the U.S. I created a small animation viewer on the Japanino that is based on the time displayed on the latest Gakken kit, the Radio-controlled Flip Clock. I had intended to make a video of the mod in action and post a link to Gakken's facebook page, but Gakken cancelled their facebook account last month. Sigh.

However, I'd started digging deep into Java last Fall in order to write a Java-based software synthesizer app. That took several months to complete. The results aren't bad. The app is configurable, has lots of options and works ok. Because it is in Java and not C++, there are speed restrictions on the digital filter and the number of "plug-in modules" I can use, but that was to be expected. One out-growth of this app, though, is that I have a renewed interest in synths. I now own the Korg Kaoss-Pro, and a Roland A-Pro MIDI Controller Keyboard. I just ordered a Fatman kit from PAiA and I'm in the middle of building that now.

On the anime and manga front, I've bought a small portable DVD player so I can watch the Gegege no Kitaro DVDs that come with the magazine series. Plus, there's a new shop that opened up 2 blocks away (literally "just around the corner") that is dumping old-format DVDs for 450 yen ($4.50 USD) apiece, and CDs for 100 yen. There's something of an anime section, and I plan on visiting there occasionally to see if there's anything I want to watch. Book Off, the used books store, is a quarter-mile the other direction, and I'm still getting manga from them at 105 or 250 yen apiece. Not much that I'm interested in right now, other than the Q.E.D. books. They're missing a few volumes in the middle and only have up to volume 36 (out of 44 books), but I'm planning to run two reviews here on the weekends for the next few months.

As mentioned above, the weather's been unpredictable. Even if it's not raining, the sky's usually overcast, making for substandard outdoor photos. We had a late "tsuyu" (rainy season) this year. It was supposed to start towards the end of May, beginning of June, but there were only a couple showers due to some of the typhoons that barely brushed by Kyushu. Then, just as local experts were saying that the tsuyu season was over, we started getting rains every day. On July 1st, I went out at noon to do some food shopping, and the sky was just overcast. at 12:10 a big black cloud rolled in. At 12:20 the rain started. At 12:25, it was in full downpour. At 2 PM the rain had stopped, and by 5 PM the clouds were mostly gone. (I was outside walking home at 12:22.) Now, though, in mid-July, the rains have stopped but we're getting 90-degree weather and I can't go anywhere outside without breaking into a heavy sweat. I think we completely missed out on having a Spring this year...

Onward into year 6.

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