Moving to Japan

So I’m more or less settled into my apartment so I thought now would be a good time to update everyone on my various things. Also I’ve been abusing a collage app because it makes posting a lot of pictures much easier, so get ready for that.

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I left JFK airport in NYC at about 1:30am. I got there at 11:00pm so there was a lot of waiting around. They also charged me $5 for an hour of internet so that was pretty messed up.

My flight was 17 hours to Hong Kong and it took my butt approximately 3 hours to start falling asleep and being in pain. I’m still recovering from the trauma.

I went from Hong Kong to Osaka and the flight was much more manageable, around 4 hours. I thought it was longer when i was reading the ticket information but I guess they were counting layover time. When I got to KIX airport in Osaka I spent a good 3 hours pissing around with about 105 pounds of luggage. I found the pokemon store in the airport and had no self control.

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I never find anything latios so I was super excited! There’s also an event in Japan until July where they’re distributing a shiny rayquaza so they’re selling the plushes to celebrate. In a month they’re going to sell pokedoll Rayquaza and I’m definitely grabbing some of that.

I somehow managed to find the correct trains to Kyoto Station from Osaka despite never riding public transit in my life (they dont offer a lot of transit options in towns with less people than Saturday at Walmart). I rode for about 3 hours and had two connecting trains but made it! I was theoretically going to catch 5 busses to get from Kyoto Station to my hotel, but at that point I had been awake for 27 hours and that wasn’t happening.

I passed out at the hotel at around 6pm. I slept until 3am then realized I was starving and wandered out of the hotel to find the McDonald’s near me. I got about half a block down the road and found a Gyudon restaurant open. I stumbled my way through an order and got a great meal for $2. I grabbed a Calpis soda on the way out from the vending machine right outside for a grand total of $3.10 spent.

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I slept for another 5 hours then dragged all my luggage to Ritsumeikan. We all sat in a circle and signed Japanese paperwork to apply for our apartments. We had to pay a bunch of fees and deposits upfront so I’m basically broke now. On the bright side we’ll be “getting the deposits back at the end” so I’ll have money just in time to go home and not need it because I’ll have a job.

After we finished some of the exchange students that moved in last year helped us settle in. They gave us some good information and we all exchanged Line names. Then we met up with the owner of the apartment who is super nice. She only speaks Japanese so I have a huge language barrier right now but I hope I’ll be able to actually respond to her soon instead of just “hai, hai” and “sou desu ne?”

She drove us to a Daiso which is basically a dollar store. I only had $5 at the time so I didn’t get to take advantage of anything. I plan on heading there again soon, probably today or tomorrow and probably on the bus.

Yuri, the apartment owner, also lent us (her new Ritsumeikan tenants) bicycles to use to get around. I need to relearn since I haven’t ridden since I was 12. I’ll practice at night when there aren’t a bunch of drivers on the road. The roads are very narrow here and the drivers are kind of crazy so I’m a little terrified of biking around.

After we got back I finished unpacking so I’m pretty settled in at this point, aside from not having any food in the apartment.

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I went to the nearest 7-11 to withdraw some money since they have American ATMs, and on the way back got a bowl of my first real ramen

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I will leave you on that delicious note and update again later. Ja matane!

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Dismantle The Waterarchy

So I hate water. I tell people I hate water and I always get the same excuses, “water is so refreshing it doesn’t even taste like anything nothing is better than icey cold water aren’t you worried you’re going to dehydrate and die” blah blah blah

LIES, ALL OF IT. Water does have a taste and that taste is “a giant waste of my time.” If i wanted to drink something that tastes like “nothing” I’d scoop some air into my cup and sip on that. And that’s just purified water, anything from tap that isn’t flavored in some way, shape or form straight up makes me sick.

But anyways, according to my doctor apparently I have been having dehydration problems, and I guess since water is “good for you” and “seriously Skylar you need to drink it or you will die” and whatever  I’m going to start drinking more of it. Here is my plan of action to keep me from dying:

Water drinking app

So I’m the type of person that likes to make everything in life a needless competition. What’s the point of living if you can’t be better at it than someone. Luckily there are apparently people that agree with that possibly unhealthy mentality and they have created an app (actually a few apps) for COMPETITIVE WATER DRINKIIIINNNGG (read that in the space jam announcer voice followed by that catchy electronic number) I’m using Hydro Coach for this which makes you sign in

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don’t leave sad balloon i promise to try harder

but there are a lot of other great water tracking apps that don’t require you to put anything in. I like this one since it let’s me post results to social media which is the best way for me to compare results with my friends, and also because it gives me ACHIEVEMENTS. I’ve been a dirty achievement whore since trophies were introduced on ps3, and I have to say, thank god for superfluous competitions and rewards.

Insulation Water Bottles

If there’s anything I hate more than water its room temperature water. Luckily refrigerators exist these days and you can live your life without ever having to put the disgusting substance anywhere near your mouth. Unfortunately self refrigerating glasses and water bottles don’t exist yet and I take way longer to drink my water than it takes to stop being cold and start being more urine-like in temperature. Instead of self refrigerating bottles I will take the next best thing, Insulated water bottles. The one I use is a Zojirushi, and it’s as cute as it is effective.
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It claims to be able to keep beverages hot or cold for 6 hours, but in my experience it works way longer than that. Maybe those are the hours it can keep your drinks super hot or super cold with no real temperature loss. I don’t know, all I know is I regularly go 12 hours or more with chilly water in this thing. It’s completely resistant to cooling or warming from outside too. I left this thing in the car for an hour on a balmy 103 July afternoon and when I got back in the bottle was really fucking hot and the drink was as cold as ever.

Not actually drinking water

Yeah don’t look at me. I hate water and I have made that abundantly clear; didn’t you think one of these entries was going to be about drinking things that aren’t completely water. I have been getting most of my water recently in the form of Gatorade powder mixes. I’d say probably 70% of my current water intake is in the form of Gatorade. I like the powder mixes because I can control how much Gatorade is actually in my water. I only use about 1/2 the regular amount when I mix so it’s not as bad as it could be.

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Look at how horrifically refreshing

Iced tea is responsible for a lot of my water intake too. I can’t keep a lot of it in the fridge since there’s not a ton of room, but it’s easily my favorite water substitute. And unlike Gatorade it doesn’t have any sugar in it since I prefer mine unsweetened. Green tea is my favorite, but there’s some awesome black tea flavors available like banana cream and peach pie.

I never liked those flavorings that you add to water. They all taste way too artificial so they’re not really an option for me. It sucks too because they’re really convenient to carry in your bag so you can flavor your horrifically boring water on the go.

Sparkling Water

This is my favorite option. It’s (arguably) the healthiest water avoiding option on the list since I’m not actually avoiding water at all when I use it. I have an unhealthy obsession with soda, and it’s not the necter of the gods syrup in soda that fuels this desire, but the fizziness. I love fiz, but obviously buying a ton of overpriced fizzy water wouldn’t be very cost effective. Instead I use a soda stream. Unfortunately, after 4 years of hard labor the base model I got for $50 broke and now I’m in the market for a new one.

I also love this option because when I’m sick and tired of water (always) I can add some juice to my carbonated water and suddenly it’s like a beautiful homeade soda that took 5 seconds of work. I usually juice my own fruits for this since they almost always taste better than the “100%” juices that you buy in stores that usually have other weird things in them. Pineapple is my absolute favorite, and when I do use store bought juice to mix it’s usually cranberry with some other increasingly weird fruit mixed in.

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Apparently called Italian Soda

So there you go, and incredibly long post about how I hate water, how I need to drink more and how I’m going to go about doing it. I hope I gave some of you water haters some ideas, and some of you boring water lovers some ways to spice up your vanilla drink existence.

What I Want to Accomplish 2015

Hello friend! Long time no see. Wow you look GREAT did you get a new hairdresser?

So I’d like to make a quick list of things I hope to accomplish by the end of 2015. Half the year is basically already spent since I will be living in Japan and probably not getting a lot of free time that I won’t be spending entirely on exploring.

I also want to mention I don’t place a huge emphasis on these- I think one of the downfalls with New Year’s resolutions is that once you start to fail them/you don’t start doing them it really stresses you out, and that stress can lead to you getting even less done because you’re afraid to even approach the topic at that pont.

So anyways, in no particular order, here’s my list of things I hope I can get done in 2015, and if I can’t so what because I have a lot of time. I’ll write a little blurb about why it is I want to accomplish these things while I’m at it.

-Graduate college. Pretty self explanatory. Because of my trip to Japan to stuff I’ll be a semester behind, so hopefully I  will be able to graduate after the fall semester, instead of spring semester like I was planning.

-Get paid for something I write. So far I have written two (horrible) books for Nanowrimo, each around 70,000 words, and countless personal short stories. They’re completely unedited, so I wouldn’t mind actually getting around to fixing them up and maybe submitting them somewhere.

-Finishing my game design and pitch it at Gencon. I have the groundwork of two games, and it would be pretty nice if I could finish one up and test it out before Gencon so I could pitch it for publishing while I’m there.

-Perform a live Stand-up comedy routine. I plan on becoming a lawyer of some sort, I have scholarships and everything lined up for it, but I’m terrified of public speaking. I don’t know how I plan on surviving a graduate study that favors the socrates method with a fear like this. This is something that can only be fixed by speaking in public over, and over, and over again. I think performing in small open mic nights in my area can help me overcome my fear. Or maybe make it way  worse.

-Learn a new skill in its basic form. I love learning new fun things. Through the magic of the internet I have taught myself to juggle, sew plushies, embroider, crotchet, play guitar and ukulele, speak Japanese, and clicker train my dogs. I’m not stellar at any of these, it’s kind of a “jack of all trades, master of none” deal, but I can still perform all of them competently (with the exception of guitar and Japanese, both of which I practice all the time) Maybe I’ll finally pick up a new language this year like I keep talking about, or start to learn how to knit like I’ve been too afraid to do.

-Get better at a current skill. Like I said I know a lot of semi-useless skills, and I should probably get better at a couple of them. I’ll probably focus on sewing or crocheting since I can do those in my tiny Japanese apartment and on the long plane and train rides.

So yeah, there’s my list. Maybe more to be added later. Here’s to a great new year of fun, friends, and personal satisfaction. 明けましておめでとうございます! Happy new year!

Camping Day 2&3

CAMPING EXTRAVAGAANNNZZAA

So day two we got to our campsite and every site was taken. On a Wednesday night. Goddamn all these people and their week-and-a-half long vacations. And we weren’t even camping in a state park, these were primitive campsites that you had to drive an hour just to get to. I clearly was not prepared for this. So from 12pm-9pm we drove from about the center of WV to the very south edge in search of a campsite, and also in search for fuel for our tiny portable stove since apparently no store in this entire damned state stocks propane/butane fuel.

By 9pm Wednesday we managed to find both fuel AND a campsite, so that was pretty sweet. We set up camp at Camp Creek in their little rumor ice campsites and there was nowhere around. It was awesome. We decided to stay another night so we were there all day Thursday.

The campsite we got, on top of being completely deserted, is also right above a creek with a little downslope leading into the water. The day never got hot enough for us to wade in it but Friend sure liked to.

The only bad thing about the site was that it was right beside a hiking trail that lead to some nice waterfalls so it got busy during the afternoon, and the rangers were checking it in the mornings which made it pretty hard to sleep.

The waterfall the trail lead to was pretty nice. It opened up into a big pool that I could fish in. We’d planned on letting Friend swim there but she’s not much of a swimmer. After we got back she dug a little hole and plopped down in it to sleep.

Oh yeah, we also saw a coyote chasing a deer fawn and trying to eat it, so that was about as nature-y as anything that could have happened.

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Camping Day 1

We’re doing a CAMPING EXTRAVAGANZA and camping down to the bottom of Florida from the top of West Virginia. We are staying at a new campsite almost every night, and here’s how the first night went.

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Damp. Everything is damp. It rained heavily from when we got there until right before we left, we got to the campsite just an hour before dark, and the propane for our little grill was the wrong size. There were also kids constantly riding their bikes past our site, screaming, and staring at our dog and cat while we set up. All in all not a relaxing first night. On the bright side it wasn’t a thunderstorm so everything was soggy but it wasn’t loud and terrible.

I’m surprised by the number of people that were camping on a Tuesday night in one of the smaller and lesser known state parks in our area. I’m also surprised by how many had RV’s instead of tents- literally all of them. I think there were 25 sites and 20 of them were filled with RV’s. I guess some people are still celebrating their Fourth of July weekend. It’s supposed to rain at our next campsite too… Maybe it just won’t instead.

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Updating and Tumblr and Updating Tumblr

After much trial and tribulation I have successfully connected my WordPress account to my tumblr account. Well, one of my tumblr accounts. I have a lot of them because I like to keep my interests separated and I’m too lazy to use tags. I linked this one to my fitness motivation tumblr and now you can see it on the side bar! I found out that you can pretty much only see pictures and the text only posts don’t show up so well so I’ll probably stick to tumbling only pictures on that blog from now on.

I wanted to connect to my tumblr because I find a lot of things on there that I like but not enough to actually write about, especially since pretty much everything on tumblr has already been written about and that’s kind of the point- sharing it. So now with it sitting happily in my sidebar I can share it with you! This will have a lot of different things in it from good food to good recipes to good exercise to good quotes. There’s just a lot of good in it, kind of like what I hope your life is full of right now.

In terms of clean eating I’ve been doing great! A lot of people like to make new year resolutions but I really don’t like to do that. I think it’s always a good time to change yourself, and I also think not being able to achieve your resolutions puts a lot of people down and makes it harder to complete them. I think there’s also the problem of people dropping their resolutions once they achieve them, kind of like when people go on a diet bu gain the weight back as soon as they drop it. Significant health and self changes are something that you need to always work toward, and not just do it for a couple months and then decide that’s good enough. I do think New Years Resolutions are a good place for come people to finally jump into what they’ve been trying to do for a long time, but if it’s not going your way just don’t give up! Success can only be measured by you, so if you feel like it’s all too much just go a little slower and eventually you’ll get where you want to go.

Anyways, here’s a picture from Halloween that has nothing to do with any of this. Put it into your eye-holes.

Friend Halloween

GenCon 2013 Recap: Go To GenCon!!

This is the second GenCon I’ve ever been to, and the tenth convention I’ve ever been to. It’s funny, before last year I had never been to a convention before and now I have been to ten. Even more appropriate is that GenCon 2012 was the first convention I had ever gone to. I’ve been to huge conventions like PAX Prime and GenCon and smaller conventions like PopCon WV and The Escapist Expo, and GenCon is easily right on the top of the list. If PAX East were a closer drive it would be number 1, but it’s not and so GenCon has my heart.

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An unstoppable cannonball meets an unbreakable wall

The first year I went to GenCon I didn’t do much. I was thrust in the middle of 50,000 attendees in an environment of board games- I had never played any board games prior to GenCon other than the standards of Monopoly and Life. I had no idea what to do. The exhibition hall itself was completely massive; it was way bigger than any other exhibition hall for any other con I have attended. This is actually why GenCon is at the top of my list.

In the exhibition hall every single publisher is demoing their games. You can go in there and play free games all day and there are hundreds of them. I learned to just say yes anytime anyone asked me anything. “Want to demo Smallworld?” “Yes.” “Want to play Ascension?” “Yes.” Want to play this obscure card game we are trying to launch on Kickstarter?” “Yes.” “Want to pay $4 for a hotdog?” “Yes.” but I only say yes to that one because I would rather pay $4 for the hotdog than give up an hour of free games to find food.

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Dungeons and Dragon’s “The Sundering” party. Amazing atmosphere

The food is another thing I love about GenCon. There is food all over the place. There is a Subway in the hotel connected to the convention center so there’s an easy and quick way to get cheap, and not horrifically greasy food, right on hand. There is also a large mall connected to the convention center (another bonus! Things for your spouse to do if they’re not into board gaming for 4 days straight) and then the convention center itself is surrounded by restaurants, and there’s also a fleet of 20 food trucks on patrol all day for all four days. When I was in Boston for PAX East the closest food was about half a mile away, and tearing yourself away for two hours so you can walk a mile is not something you want to do in the middle of a convention. We actually ended up not eating for an entire day at PAX East because of food inaccessibility.

There’s so much to do at GenCon. Tournaments for almost any huge card of board game with really good entry fees and spectacular winners awards. They also hold world tournament championships for several different board or card games. They have video games and anime in the upper hotel levels. Obviously not as much as board or card games, but it’s still plenty to do for anyone that might be interested in them.

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Board Game Library- Check out any board or card game you can think of and play all night!

GenCon is also particularly family friendly. I wouldn’t take any children under, probably, 12 to a PAX convention. Even that is iffy, it depends on if they’re an asshole by then or not. I just generally don’t find the video game crowd to be nearly as friendly as the board gaming crowd. Most board gamers are also video gamers, but I don’t think most of video gamers are also board gamers. The crowd at GenCon is what I like to describe as a “polite mob.” They’re rarely loud and they’re very considerate. I didn’t have a single bad experience with any people at the GenCon I was at, and trust me I was in contact with a lot of people. On top of being a kind mob of people there are many areas themselves that are family friendly. They have events called “spousal activities” that are things like kickboxing, miniature panting lessons where you keep the miniature free, learn to knot/crochet/sew, and a lot of other random activities that are to give your spouse something to do if they want to stay in the convention hall but don’t want to play any more of your god damned game demos that you have been playing literally from 7am to 4am.

There are these cool areas set up especially for kids too. There are LARP areas specifically for kids so you don’t have to worry about some 16 or 32 year old beating them down with foam swords, and there are giant play board games set out around the game hall so you don’t have to worry about finicky pieces when you’re trying to play with your kid. They also offer a sitting service in an area full of more toys and games if there’s a panel you just have to get to that didn’t have room for the young ones.

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Awwww

If you’re not a people person, or if you get easily sick, you should take precautions if you plan on visiting GenCon. There are several areas that are generally empty and good places to get away from the crowds, and sickness is easily spread with so many people around. I actually ended up sick on the second day, and very sick by the fourth day, after having not been sick for over two years. I then proceeded to pass the sickness onto my boyfriend but at least he didn’t have to endure it during the convention.

If you stay in a hotel that isn’t in walking distance of the convention center then parking is also a nightmare. We ended up parking half a mile away from the convention center just because we couldn’t find any closer parking, and we got there an hour and a half before the floors even opened. The walk wasn’t unpleasant but it was inconvenient and slightly annoying. The best thing to do would obviously be to stay in one of the 15 or so hotels in a .3 mile radius of the convention center, but none of those cost $250 for the entire week so that’s probably not going to happen. The drive from our hotel which was about 10 miles away was really nice. It was pretty much a straight shot to and from the convention center with no weird tricks.

So after that unholy wall of text, I’m going to close this up. Next I’ll be doing a quick list of tips ad must-do’s for GenCon, just in case any of you guys are interested in “the best four days in gaming!”

Play games with strangers! Make friends!

Play games with strangers! Make friends!