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Look both ways before crossing

Lately I've been playing Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on my PSP. The game is fun, but so frickin' hard sometimes. I think one of the things that makes it so hard is the camera.

In other PSP action games, like Dissidia 012: Final Fantasy for example, the camera can lock on to an opponent and track his movement, making sure he is almost always on screen and your movements are relative to his. So you can actually be running away from him, while still watching his body for tells of an upcoming move.

I know this looks bad, but the horned guy actually sees it coming and will dodge.

What's more, even if you lock on you camera to something else on the field (like a powerup), there is still a blue floating arrow around you that shows you where the opponent is.

It's rude to point.

On the other hand, in MHFU the camera is fixed on you and barely even turns when you. Which means enemies can jump you any time if you're not cautious.

Not pictured: the five bugs the hunter is running into.

You have to remember: this is a game where you will often be fighting multiple enemies on screen or a humongous enemy that takes, literally, half an hour to kill. The best part? The fixed, manually controlled camera is a feature.

How? Well, think back to your last football match. Did you always know where the ball is? Didn't you sometimes look behind you to see where your teammates were? The camera in MHFU is supposed to simulate that. It's manually controlled so you actually have to pay attention to your surroundings and situation - you will sometimes have to disengage the enemy to just run out a bit and see check what the other 3 monsters are doing.

The camera is hard getting used to, but it contributes immensely to the ambience of the game. When assessing the situation actually needs to be part of your combat technique you really feel like you are hunting dragons.

May. 18th, 2012

I have been an English teacher for more than six months now, which makes it the job I held down the longest in my life. My contract will be over soon, though, because, ya' know, summer vacation and the kids are going away.

I have absolutely no idea whether I will be re-hired. On the one hand, this is my first year and they know it and they do value the fact that I now know all the procedures at the school. On the other, I have made so many mistakes during my stay at that place. The mistakes include little things, like kind of messing up the grades before submitting them and having to recalculate them a minute before, but there are also big ones, like getting into an argument with a pupil's parent about whether or not I lost her daughter's homework.

All I have to say about teaching English is:

  • it's good work if you can get it

  • some people you just can't teach, because they're here against their will

  • misdirection and distraction are your greatest allies

  • screaming needs to be used in moderation or you will lose your voice

So, this happened...

Last night when I was travelling from Bilbao, a woman left a piece of paper, a stubbed pencil and a ring made of twisted wire in my lap and then rushed out of the train. On the piece of paper she wrote "Se agradece ver a gente sonreir" - "It's nice to see people smile". This happened somewhere around the Bakiola station, on the C-3 line.

It really stuck with me not only because, you know, random, but also because this happened on the anniversary of my arrival in Spain. Yes, I have been here for an entire year. Weird, huh?

The aforementioned items

More Minstrel Miscellany

The job search is over! I managed to score an interview with Centro de Estudios DINI in Vitoria and aced it. They hired me for 12 hours a week, which means my evenings from now on will be full of English teaching. I always wanted to NOT become an EFL teacher, but I guess this is how life goes sometime: you avoid getting into an English teaching course, study translation, focus on missing any class concerned with language acquisition and then BAM! You are an English teacher. Sigh...

Oh, the job will be great and I will give it my all. It's just, you know...

The Lordkat livestream is proving to be one of the best sources for TGWTG-related nerd podcasts ever. The Tuesday Tech Talk and How to do it series in particular are rekindling my love with technology and making me want to build a new computer and dual-boot it with Linux and Windows, just to say I did it.

I have finished reading Pratchett's Making Money and found it to be one of the best Pratchett books out there, not only because Moist von Lipwig is a classic "rogue with a heart of gold" done wonderfully right. I believe Pratchett's book get a bit more and more ideological with time, but that only makes them stronger: the message conveyed by them serves the story and the other way around.

Templar, AZ continues to one of the best full-page webcomics out there, much better than the overrated The Meek and Dresden Codak.

Writing burnout

For some time now I have been working in association with the Langloo EFL portal, delivering texts about the cultures and histories of English speaking nations. The job is not that hard, as each article is usually no longer than 500 words.

The problem is that according to my contract I need to deliver 5 articles a week, Monday to Friday. After more than two months, I can tell you: it's really easy to get burnt out on these things.

So here's my freelancing tip of the day: make sure you sign up for delivering content every second day, not everyday. Otherwise you will be miserable.

Working them social medias

I have four main social media outlets: my LJ, my Twitter, Facebook and my Jogger. That's not counting the various forums I'm on or that deviantArt account that's left to fallow.

My problem is I am not doing a lot with them right now. I post some links on Facebook and what not, but Facebook is shit and can wallow in that shit for all I care. I would promote stuff on Facebook, but only out of a sense of duty. Now, if only I had stuff to post about.

You see, I haven't been posting a lot lately to either twitter or the other two venues because I really have no idea what to write about. I wanted to write about my exciting life in Spain, but, to be honest, it's not that exciting when you're unemployed. And when it is, I don't have a camera.

But I want to change that and I think I have an idea of how to do it. I will basically split stuff between LJ and Jogger. LJ will become a more or less regular blog about things I like and stuff that is happening, while Jogger will become a hub for my favourite pastime: translation. I have a couple of things lined up that I got permission to translate that I will post at Jogger, mostly cool stuff from blogs I like to read. I hope to work in something else, like maybe translating my favourite webcomic strips, but that's a whole other story.

I just hope that if I get back on the horse with my blogging it will help me sort out my days, because my current job is not really helping me lead a balanced lifestyle. :/

Kamen Ridering

I have been enjoying a new TV series lately: Kamen Rider OOO. Completely weeaboo glorious nippon baka gaijin, I know, but I just enjoy the mindless fun and crappy fight scenes. While I kind of love the Kamen Rider series, I will admit that it is sometimes worse than the Power Rangers.

Still, I managed to get Anna hooked as well and she tracked down the predecessor of OOO, Kamen Rider Double. See, Kamen Rider is a long running series, each incarnation of the Rider having little or nothing to do with the previous ones (except Decade, but it was an anniversary series) in terms of plot and setting. This has the advantage that every series can be a little different.

And boy are OOO and Double different. OOO is, at its heart, Sailor Moon for boys: ancient spirits using people's desires to make monsters, while Double is a detective story: two men fighting against an evil syndicate which distributes electronic drugs that give people superpowers.

I think the thing I like about both these series is how simple everything is. This is basically live action superheroes the way we want it done: capes fighting bad guys and saving the world, no soap opera relationship crap, like on Smallville or Heroes. If that's your thing, fine, but I'd rather have my kiddie stuff be kiddie.
Who knows? Maybe I'm just tired of blogging. Bah, anyway here's what been happening:

  • My skin is a vessel of disease: got a pretty painful, pretty big, pretty dangerous boil on my back. It's reacting well to treatment, AKA opening it up with a hook-like scalpel and draining it daily. Also, socialised health care is the bomb, the Americans do not know what they are missing.

  • Contracts!: I am going to get a contract with a Polish website which does language learning articles. The contract will be for 7 articles only, but I hope to get more later. The articles will be in Polish and will be about news and idioms and grammar stuff.

  • More contracts!: maybe... see, Anna's old English school needs somebody to quickly teach somebody some CPE level English in a month. It's not really doable, but they're kind of desperate and it may be a good opportunity to show off and secure more work from them.

  • Reviews plz?: I read some Pratchett books lately and I have been watching the BBC Merlin series. I may just do a write-up about them, especially since Merlin is hilariously gay.

Going to the doctor now. See you.

Here I am. Now what?

This post is long overdue and for that I apologise. A lot of things has happened between today and February 10 and still do not know how to deal with or even convey some of them.

I will start in reverse order if you allow, relaying the latest, perhaps most important event first: I am now a resident of Spain, with all of which that entails. What I did constitutes in Polish legal parlance a "relocation of the center of life's interests", meaning I will now eat like a Spaniard, sleep like a Spaniard, work like a Spaniard, live (and die) like a Spaniard. A Spaniard with a Polish passport. Who speaks surprisingly little Spanish.

Yes, I went ahead with the big move. I bought new shirts, packed my underwear, kissed my family goodbye and left for Basque Country. Anna decided to put me up in her room, help me look for a job and even enrolled me in a free Spanish course down at the municipal adult education centre. She is, as always, my love and the center of my universe.

My move here is sort of a mixed blessing. On the one hand, living with my girlfriend and lifepartner, which is a humongous plus. On the other, my Spanish is so bad it seriously hurts my prospects of finding a job. The usual source of income, freelance translation, is still available, of course, but it is still as fickle and unreliable as ever. Still, maybe now, when I am out of college, I can finally build up that portfolio of direct clients that I dreamed of so long.

Then again, I am not out of the woods yet. If you recall the last post, it was a particularly solemn quote from Mrożek. It was ideal for my latest screw up: the MA. I have not finished it. Well, I have finished the course, with pretty nice grades overall. But the project I submitted, the ultimate criterion of making me an MA, blew.

Monkey chunks. Like an industrial fan.

You may hear otherwise from some sources. My mother insists on telling friends and family I have received it and has forbidden me from saying otherwise. I guess it is one of those intractable differences. She was always slow to admit fault, but quick to repair harm done. With me, it is the other way around.

I have mulled the case of the MA over and over in my head and I am slowly coming to the conclusion that I probably do not really want it. Nor do I particularly need it. It is just something that my parents want me to have, something expected of a Polish student: you get a BA, then you get an MA. I do not think it is possible for me to get one any time soon, to be honest. For the longest time, there seems to be a huge gap between my studies and my work. I have officially burnt out three years ago, but still managed to get a BA on my second try. I was actually ready to drop it at that, but I wanted to make my parents happy.

I am supposed to go back and redo the course. I have until September 2012 to do that. I do not know if I ever will. If things go according to my plan, I will not need to.

If things go according to my plan, nobody will ever have to really worry about me again.

The plan is making a career down here. Sorry if I made it sound foreboding.

Feb. 10th, 2011

"I can only be saved by an everyday order, discipline. I have no home, probably no homeland, I have nothing and soon I may experience something like 1939, only just for me, for me alone, for no one to know or care, just me. Of course you need to follow English protocol in these matters: tea and shaving everyday at five o'clock, no matter the circumnstances. You need a small stability, any kind of stability and permanence, when all around is unstable, bygone even." -- S. Mrożek, Dziennik 1962 - 1969