New Domain!

The Social Network“Drop the ‘WordPress’, just ‘Life in The Danger Zone’. It’s cleaner.”

My old domain, “lifeinthedangerzone.wordpress.com” has been retired. The new domain name is just “lifeinthedangerzone.com“, as the caption implies

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been two months since I last posted. School and life got crazy, but I’ll explain later. I’ve got a couple of huge announcements and a big post coming up, around Friday. I hope you like the new domain name and I look forward to getting back into blogging. See you then.

-Thomas

UPDATE: I created some categories for all my posts, so now you can sort my older posts by subjects such as: personal life, university, work, etc.

InuYasha The Movie: Affections Touching Across Time (Review)

Inuyasha Affections Touching Across TimeIf you’re read my post about my 2013 New Year’s resolutions, then you’cw probably heard about how I’ve been watching InuYasha, as my first TV series of the year.For those of you who haven’t heard of the show, InuYasha was an anime series, that started in 2001 and ended in 2004 (the original run, that is). The series features a teenage Japanese school girl, Kagome Higurashi, who accidentally ends up traveling back in time, to the Feudal Era of Japan. There, she meets a half-demon (of a demon father and human mother) named Inuyasha. After Kagome accidentally shatters the Jewel of the Four Souls, a sacred item that grants it’s beholder their truest desire, Inuyasha and Kagome set out to find all the shards of the jewel, so that Inuyasha can become a full demon. Along the way, they are joined by a fox demon child named Shippo, a perverted and greedy Buddhist monk named Miroku, a demon-slayer named Sango, and her trusty sidekick, a Nekomata (“forked cat”) demon Kirara.

Affections Touching Across Time features Inuyasha and his friends facing off against Memomaru, an evil demon from the “Continent” (which is most likely referencing China, although this isn’t specifically mentioned in the movie) whose father, Hyoga, faced off and was defeated by Inuyasha’s father. Hyoga kidnaps Kagome (who both loves Inuyasha and is loved by Inuyasha) as bait to lure Inuyasha. Unwittingly, Inuyasha breaks the seal of deceased remains of Hyoga, giving Memomaru (now the “new” Hyoga) the power of all his ancestor’s combined. To increase his powers, Hyoga begins draining the souls of all living things on Earth. Inuyasha and his friends must defeat Hyoga (somehow) to save Japan and the entire world.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Affections Touching Across Time (both as a child, and now). The artwork of the movie is slightly different for that of the anime, since a different character designer was used that of the anime. The movie characters are closer to that of their manga depictions, with a more “cartoony” feel to them, bigger eyes, etc. The movie’s characters and scenery are much more colourful than they normally are in the anime, the colors used are very vibrant and warm, which is quite a refreshing change from the often dark and dreary color schemes of the anime. The movie, much like the anime, manages to balance lighthearted, humorous moments with both dramatic, touching scenes, as well as the action packed battles. The plot of the movie ties in nicely with established canon of the anime, and has great emotional value, especially with exploration of the relationship between Inuyasha and Kagome, as well as Sango and Kirara. The score, arranged by Kaoru Wada, is stunning and faithful to the score of the anime (also arranged by Kaoru Wada). In fact, the movie’s score is even more elegant in the emotional scenes, and even more larger-than-life and “loud” in the battle scenes. Although the movie is a little slow after the exciting opening sequence, it picks up quickly by the second act. The climax of the film is ten times more thrilling of any of the climaxes to episodes of the anime, and fit perfectly with the established standard of Inuyasha and the movie.

Inuyasha isn’t for everyone. The stubborn nature of Inuyasha, the “Kagome! Inuyasha! Kagome!” yelling, and some of the humour may turn off some of it’s potential audience. I’ll be the first to admit that this movie isn’t perfect by any means, there are some weaknesses. However, as a whole, the movie is very entertaining, heartfelt, and well worth watching. Out of the four Inuyasha movies created, this movie is by far one of the best, if not the best. If I could only recommend one of the films for a non-Inuyasha or anime fan to watch, this is the one. It captures the spirit of the series, as well as many of common and crucial elements of the series. If you happen to come across the DVD, or you’re looking for an anime movie to download, check out Affections Touching Across Time. Even if it doesn’t end up being one of your favourite movies, you’ll still probably be able to better understand and appreciate why Inuyasha was such a big phenomenon in the early 2000s.

I’ll leave you with a brief promo for the movie, as well as my favourite song from the soundtrack.

Over 1000!

Image

Wow, I can’t believe that I’ve finally hit the 1000 views mark. I wanted to thank the people around the world who start reading and have continued to read my blog. I appreciate your support, especially through my hiatus during the fall semester. I hope to see his blog reach “over 9000” views some day. Thanks again.

Sincerely,

Thomas.

Are You Ready To Get Back To Work?

Bond at Universal Exports“With pleasure, M. With pleasure.”

Today was my first day back to school. Surprisingly, despite the difficulty and tiring nature of the previous semester, I was excited to get back to work and start my new classes. Maybe it was my desire to forget the last semester, maybe it was fueled by New Year’s drive, but either way, I was excited.

The first class of the day was “Intro to Database Systems”. Thankfully, even though the majority of my friends did “Databases” in Fall, the class size of the Winter term is fairly sizeable, and there are people in the class I at least know in class with me. The professor is leagues better than the professor of the fall term, “Qaddafi” (it’s a long story), and seems fairly reasonable. The course doesn’t seem to be a very challenging, just a course that requires the proper amount of studying, and assignments. Plus it’s in the Computer Science auditorium, which is one of the best places to have a class on campus.

After “Databases”, I went down to the Life Sciences Centre, where my next class would be. The LSC is a depressingly grey and bleak building, that really makes you feel like you are in a dungeon the first time you enter it. I didn’t have class for another hour, so I sat in the cafeteria, had my ham-bacon-cheese-lettuce sandwich (it was as delicious as it sounds), my Diet Coke, and finished playing the second case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

The second class of the day was “Discrete Structures II”. Discrete Structures, is a course focused on logic, mathematical theory, and proofs. So yeah, I hated it. To give you an idea of how unsure I was about the class, I was in “Discrete Structures I” in the fall term, I barely passed the midterm (the class average was a fail), the quizzes were only marginally better, and I felt that the final had not gone well. We hadn’t even gotten our final grades yet. So yeah, it was likely to be a shit show. And it was. Our professor is Dutch(based on her last name, Janssen), and although her accent is very thick, it does require additional attention to the lectures. It’s usually not a good sign when I’m confused on the first day. Our class is very small (no more than 20 students), and the majority of the students were fourth year CS or math students. So I’m dropping that class, for Calculus II.

The third class of the day was “Communication Skills”. Essentially, this class designed to help the “professionally-challenged” students of CS with technical writing and presentation skills. It’s mandatory, and although it’s not completely necessary, a faculty-approved set of technical writing skills could prove useful. The professor, James, has a great sense of humour, just make sure you’re paying attention in class! Although I don’t particularly excel at technical writing, I’m up for the challenge for sure, it is probably the most relaxed class I have this semester.

Overall, a pretty good first day back. While this semester won’t be challenge free, it will certainly be easier than last semester, and a lot more enjoyable. This relaxed semester should give me a good opportunity to do well with my classes, and begin on my resolutions.

Thomas, the Impeccably-Dressed Introvert

introvert-vs-extrovert

Because I’ll take a glass of bourbon, a good movie, and pizza over a sweaty, horny nightclub, filled with pick-up artists and sluts any night.

Yup, that’s me. Well, the “impeccably dressed” part is fairly subjective. It depends on your taste, and whether you taking into account the limitations of someone who doesn’t have thousands of dollars to spend on bespoke Savile Row suits, Rolex watches, and two hundred dollar Turnbull and Asser shirts, but yeah. At least the “introvert part” is true.

My experiences on New Year’s Eve finally cemented the idea that I was never meant to be an overly social person. I came to the realization that even though I would be “alone” (with just my parents) on New Year’s if I hadn’t followed a friend to celebrate downtown, at least I would be happy, instead of truly alone and miserable. The first few days of 2013 have involved a lot of reflection for me. Along with coming up with new goals, I’ve also had sometime to self-evaluate my situation. It’s through these self-evaluations, that I’ve come to the conclusion, that I am in fact an introvert.

According to Wikipedia’s article on extraversion and introversion, Introversion is “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life”. Introverts enjoy solitude and solitary activities, such as reading, writing, and surfing the web, over more social activities. A common misconception is that all introverts are shy or social-awkward. While it is true some introverts are also shy or social-awkward, it is not a requirement of introversion, nor does it speak for the majority. I feel that this profile matches my personality and interests rather closely, more closer then I could have thought. On the same token, I generally don’t have any difficulty with communicating with other people, I feel no anxiety in more social scenarios (although I experience any particular joy from them either), comfortable in public speaking, and I have no social disorders. Introversion is thus not a fear of socializing, rather a preference for solitude over socializing.

Another characteristic of introversion is trust. Introverts value trust highly, and more interested in seeking a loyal and close companion, as well as close friends, then many companions and a large quantity of friends. This also fits the description of my personality well. I place loyalty and trust fairly highly in my morality, as well as in my judgement criteria of friends. I’d rather have a small core of loyal, trustworthy friends, then a large circle of friends, whom I have a weaker connection with. I’m also not as interest in “hook-up” culture of our modern society. I’m indifferent to the “skirt-chasing” and “player” mentality that many guys seem to have. I would be much happier having a lesser quantity of relationships, in exchange for a great quality of relationships. Unfortunately, it would seem that both the worlds are dominated with an “extroverted” view, of “quantity over quality”. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t have the greatest success with friends, and I have had even less success with women. But at the very least, I can now understand why the extroverted methods of dating and friendship have largely failed me.

The interest part is how the introversion profile fits me beyond just a simple, broad categorization. It even applies to smaller, more specific details. When it comes to different kinds of movie, music, or games I enjoy, I usually enjoy them the most when I’m experiencing them alone. Whether it’s a friend’s indifference to the genre or the distraction of having to socialize while experiencing a particular media, I generally find that watching movies, listening to music, or playing games (especially the more single player oriented games) is nowhere near as enjoyable with other people, as opposed to when I enjoy them alone. I rarely watch movies for the first time with other people (unless it is still in theatres, or if it’s with my family during the holidays), and even when I do, I get a lot more out of a individual second viewing.

The introvert profile also applies to my taste in night-life Although I find both bars and nightclubs to be a waste of money, I would prefer to go to a bar, because it’s a more intimate setting. You only have concern yourself with the people at your table, the close group of friends you came with. It’s also more socially acceptable to go to a bar by yourself, as opposed to a nightclub, where you just look out of place. I don’t typically go to bars alone, but I would feel much happy about going to bar alone, as opposed to a nightclub.

Hell, even my choice of drink is introverted. I dislike beer and most wines, which are arguably the two most sociable and extroverted types of alcohol. My preferred choice of alcohol? Bourbon. Usually in the form of a Bourbon highball, in a tumbler with ice, alone, on a Friday night. The thing about drinks like beer and wine are that they well suited for groups and social situations With beer, you can get a pack of beer, a keg, or a pitcher at a bar. Beer has a taste that “agrees” with your average person, and has a low enough alcohol percentage (under 10%) that almost everybody can tolerate it. Meanwhile, wine is connected with fancy social events and dinners, come in bottle sizes the encourage sharing, and have a relatively low alcohol percentages (6-12%, usually, if I’m not mistake).

In contrast, Bourbon, is a hard liquor, so it has a high alcohol percentage (at least 40%). It also strong taste that is certainly not for everyone (read: most people do not like bourbon), and is more a “drink of solitude”, so to speak. My parents speak a great deal about how they dislike my “isolated drinking”, and how they would rather me drink only in social settings. I would argue now that I’m better off drinking alone, then at bars or parties. One, drinking at bars tends to be expensive, especially if you are ordering cocktails, as I usually prefer to. Two, in “social drinking” scenarios, people tend to be greedy with shared alcohol. While a 750 ml bottle of whiskey or another hard liquor is something that will last a controlled individual at least a couple of months, amongst a group of drunk people, that bottle is history. Three, in “social drinking” scenarios, there is more peer-pressure to drink more, often to the point of sickness or intoxication. When I drink alone, I drink what I want, in a moderate manner, and I never go through bottles of bourbon or gin in a single night or evening. From a financial and health perspective, “isolated drinking” is much better for me, because I have much more control over the situation.

In closing, what can you conclude about introverts? A lot of them aren’t social outcasts or awful people, they just prefer solitude or more intimate social gatherings. Plus, they often value loyalty and trust, so they make for great friends and lovers. While it’s true that there are some introverts that are socially inept, or are awful people, they aren’t the majority. If you can accept that they aren’t as thrilled about big social events as extroverts, then you could make relationships (friendship or romantic) that could last for a very long time, possibly your whole life. We live in a extroverted world, in the West, and it’s time that we stop stigmatizing and labelling introversion as being socially awkward, disturbed, or some kind of oddity. There is no superior in the battle between extroverts and introverts, only unique and equal people, looking for happiness.

007 Legends Review, or “No Eurocom, I Expect You to Die (of Bankruptcy)”

007 Legends

One of the gifts I got from Christmas, from a good friend, was 007 Legends. Although I was planning on getting the game when it was on sale for 19.99 or less, used somewhere, I was happy to accept it for free. After all, it was a Bond game, and I could probably at least a small amount of joy in it, right? Right?

The game begins with scene from the opening of Skyfall, with Eve accidentally shooting Bond off of a moving train, instead of Patrice, her intended target. Bond falls off of the train and bridge, landing in a waterfall directly underneath. While unconscious and underwater, Bond has a flashbacks to previous missiona. The game’s missions features adaptations of movies from each Bond actor’s era, rewritten to take place in modern day (specifically, after Quantum of Solace but before Skyfall).

The game features five missions (and one DLC mission, released after the game’s launch). The first mission in Goldfinger, from the Sean Connery era. Bond must stop Auric Goldfinger from destroying the USA’s gold supply at Fort Knox. The second mission is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, from George Lazenby’s brief run as 007. Bond must stop Ernst Stavro Blofeld from poisoning the world’s supply of food (via hypnotized women at a health clinic), and save Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo. The third mission is Licence to Kill, from the Timothy Dalton era, which features Bond avenging the crippling of his best friend, Felix Leiter, and the rape and murder of his newly wed wife, Delia, by going up against a drug lord, Franz Sanchez. The fourth mission is based of Die Another Day, the last movie of the Pierce Brosnan era. Bond is out to stop Gustav Graves from invading South Korea, and reuniting North and South by destroying the demilitarized zone with a satellite death beam. The fifth mission (and final on the disc at launch) is Moonraker, from the Roger Moore era, where Bond must go into space to stop Hugo Drax from killing off the human race on Earth, and repopulating it with a “perfect race”, developed in space.

*Spoiler alert start*

After completing these “flashback missions”, the sixth and final mission is Skyfall, the latest Bond film. However, the game ends abruptly, with Bond facing off with Patrice in Shanghai. Bond ultimately eliminates Patrice, forgives M for ordering out the shot at the beginning of the game (which by the way, is the exact opposite of how Bond reacted in the actual film), and then precedes to get another mission, instead of going to Macau, and following the rest of the plot of the film.

*Spoiler alert end*

Overall, the game proves to be quite disappointing and frustrating. IGN described the game as: “drowning out the Bond series’ iconic moments by shoehorning them into a cheap and poorly-made Call of Duty clone”. I have to agree with this description. 007 Legends plays like your average COD game, only worse. The stealth system is complete garbage, basically guaranteeing that you’ll get caught by guards, and forced into yet another lengthy shoot out. The crappy stealth system also proves challenging in parts of the game that require you remain undetected. The gadget mini-games become very one dimensional quickly, especially when you have to do them several times in the game, with little to no change in their game play. What’s worse is that the game sometimes forces you to use gadgets to hack a computer or door, in the MIDDLE of a shoot out, making you basically and sitting duck for NPC abuse. The few moments that had the potential of being awesome, like the Fort Knox raid in the Goldfinger mission, battle at Piz Gloria in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Aston Martin “Vanish” car chase of Die Another Day, and the space station battle in Moonraker, are quickly ruined with run ins with overpowered NPCs, complicated multitasking between gadget mini-games and eliminating enemies, or other goofiness. It’s also important to note there are minor programming errors bugs that occasionally cause a key cut-scene to not happen, or a checkpoint not to be loaded. These bugs are minimal and do not prevent you from completing the game, but do detract further from the already mediocre game play.

The storyline of the game is nothing spectacular either. The missions of the game have little to no connection at all, and there is little transitioning from mission to mission. The dialogue is pretty much verbatim from each film, with minor differences. In fact, Bond misses two perfectly good opportunities to say “Bond, James Bond”, to the point where it seems like the must have had a brain aneurysm or something while writing that particular scene’s dialogue. The game actually has no real ending, DLC or not. The Moonraker mission does not actually contain the original film’s ending, and the Skyfall mission does not contain the plot of the entire movie, nor it’s ending. The voice acting also did not seem very passionate or well directed either. For starts, although Daniel Craig’s likeness is used in the game, he does not voice Bond. Instead, a sound-a-like fills in for Daniel Craig. The voice acting, although not as bad as the early Pierce Brosnan games with a sound-a-like, is still noticeably off. Some actors (like Carey Lowell, Toby Stephens, and Rick Yune) returned to voice their roles and provide their likenesses, some characters (like Auric Goldfinger, Tracy Draco, or Franz Sanchez) retain their likeness, but feature different voices, and some characters have entirely new likenesses, like Jinx, who is now Hispanic, as opposed to African American, like in the film. In general, a lot of the voice acting feels bland, and it gets repetitive when characters like Pam or Dr. Goodhead are shouting the same lines over and over again.

Another issue I had with the game was its music. David Arnold, frequent composer of Bond scores since Tomorrow Never Dies, did not score the game’s soundtrack. The soundtrack, while incorporating elements of each of adapted Bond movies, seems rather lacklustre. Furthermore, the game also recycles music from a previous Bond game, Blood Stone. For a game that is suppose to celebrate the 50th anniversary of James Bond, the score felt like a missed opportunity. Also, since the Skyfall mission was developed before the release of the film, the game does not have any music from or inspired by Skyfall either. Music from Die Another Day, recomposed, appears during the motorcycle chase of the last mission, for example.

In closing, 007 Legends is a rather mediocre, if not terrible game. While I wouldn’t call it the worst James Bond video game (other games like Tomorrow Never Dies, or the pre-Goldeneye 64 games are much worse), it is by far the most disappointing Bond game so far. It’s a shame, on the 50th anniversary of James Bond, and with the absolute success of Skyfall, that 007 Legends turned out so awful. Oh well, Eurocom paid the price for it’s rushed work. Now, I pray that Activision learns from this failure, and that they hopefully sell the Bond license to another, more suitable game company, or at least one that cares about the franchise. If you have any interest in this game, hold off for when it goes on clearance or less than 20 bucks, otherwise, it ain’t worth it.

13 New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 – “This Time, It’s Personal!”

Be a ManI’ll make a better man out of me.

In the spirit of New Year’s, and this blog, I thought I would come up with 13 New Year’s resolutions for 2013.

The “tl;dr” version:

  1. Strength train 3 times a week, cardio 5 times a week.
  2. Get at least an “A-” in every one of my university courses.
  3. Train in martial arts everyday.
  4. Find my “Vesper Lynd”.
  5. Actively watch/play/read at least: one animated/live action series, one video game, and one book at all times.
  6. “James Bond Will Return” .
  7. “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it.”
  8. Don’t give Dalhousie University a single extra dime.
  9. Have up $4000.00 in my savings account this year.
  10. Develop my “Bond Sense” and “Bond Skills” .
  11. Eliminate “Blofeld”.
  12. Go on a mission.
  13. Continue writing this blog.

You can probably get a rough idea of what my resolutions are from that tl;dr version. If you aren’t at all interest in reading more, feel free to leave it at that. Otherwise, please do continue.

1. Strength train 3 times a week, cardio 5 times a week.

Rocky II Weight Training

Out of all the resolutions, this is probably one of the most important. Residence life and university in general has made me lose the “eye of the tiger”, so to speak. So now, it’s time to build some hurting bombs! I feel that a 3-day, full body training routine, while not as preferable as a body part split routine, works better with my schedule, goals, ability, and patience. This resolution is more about my physical health and ability, less so about my physical appearance, although it is also a motivating factor. I do not expect to look like a bodybuilder or “ab model”, nor do I wish to look like one. However, I would like to have a toned, lean physique, a kin to Daniel Craig’s physique in Casino Royale. I feel, based on my frame and size, this will be a challenging, but plausible goal.

2. Get at least an “A-” in every one of my university courses, especially in my computer science courses.

Jesse Eisenberg as Mark ZuckerbergHaving finished “1.5 years” of university so far, I’ve come to the realization that getting perfect marks (A+ / 4.30 marks) in all my courses isn’t always possible, practical, or worth wild. However, it’s my belief, that with the right amount of work and dedication, an A- in any course is possible and achievable. I’m still waiting on final marks for a couple of courses for the previous semester, but so far, this looks like a realistic goal. It is especially a priority to get A- marks in my CS courses, so I can obtain a “first class honours” distinction on my degree when I graduate. While I may not like university or my program a lot, it is an important phase of my life, and something I need to dedicate myself (at least partially towards) in the years to come.

3. Train in martial arts everyday.

Bruce Lee My Brother Training MontageTo be specific, Muay Thai (for my striking and stand-up game) and Judo (for grappling and ground game) classes, as well as Kenjutsu/Kendo kata study, on the side. From a young age, I’ve always be interested in martial arts. Jackie Chan was the first famous Asian face I ever laid eyes on, and ever since, it’s be my dream (well, one of them) to join the elite circle that men like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and more recently, Tony Jaa, are members of. The “Next Dragon” club, a group of men who become martial arts heroes, even legends, on and off the screen. While I may never be half as good or as famous as any of these men, I feel that a “modern-day warrior” exists, deep within. I plan on attending somewhere between three to five classes a week, depending on my workload and other activities. The rest of the week will be spend training independently, or if I’m lucky, with a partner.

4. Find my “Vesper Lynd” (Or my “Adrian Pennino”. Or my “Kagome Higurashi”. Blah, blah, blah, [insert name of girlfriend/wife/special someone of my favourite fictional characters here], you get the idea).

Vesper Lynd- Casino DressI know, I know, this directly contradicts my statements from last night about there not being a “happily ever after”, but what can I say. Despite my largely pessimistic outlook on romance, I believe, somewhere out there, there is a woman who is the right fit for me. If I were to pick on resolution that I have the least faith in, it would have to be this one. But, maybe, just maybe, this is my year. I’ve always viewed these situations as being up to chance and coincidence, so anything is possible.

5. Actively watch/play/read at least: one animated/live action series, one video game, and one book at all times of 2013.

Series Game and Book

During the my most recent semester of university, I began re-watching episodes of “Inuyasha”, usually two episodes a day (since so many of the episodes end in a cliffhanger or are two part-ers). I was surprised by how I was able to fit it in my day. In the past, I would have come up with so many excuses why I couldn’t dedicate myself to regularly watching an anime series, or any series for that matter. I’ve decided, in an effort to experience more of the media I enjoy, I will regularly choose one television series to watch, one video game to play, and one book to read. Since I’m only on episode 53 (out of 192, yikes) of Inuyasha, it will be my first TV series of 2013. My first video game of 2013 will be Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (which I will be replaying). My first book of 2013 will be Casino Royale, since I’ve been dying to read all of the Ian Fleming Bond novels. The variety of genre of these three choices will likely help keep things interesting and fresh.

6. “James Bond Will Return”

James Bond Will ReturnIf the 6 year development hell delay between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall has proved anything, it is that no matter what happens, no matter how long it takes, Bond always comes back. And this, I believe, is my independent film making career’s future. The difficulty of working with new, less interested actors, the stress of my school work, the draining nature of my summer job, the disorganization of my personal life, these were all reasons that I have not made any new videos yet. Although there has been quite the long hiatus (a year) since my last video, I believe there has never been a better time to launch a comeback. I’ve still got loads of ideas and concepts to work with, and I don’t feel done yet. So like 007, Thomas Li will return.

7.  “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it.”

Marty McFly Playing the Guitar

It’s always been (another one) of my dreams to be able to play kick ass solos and rock out on an electric guitar. Unfortunately, I never seemed to be able to seriously take up guitar, nor did I ever have any aptitude for it. But this year, I feel like it’s time to give it another shot. I might not every be a good guitarist, but if I can work my way to point where I can feel happy for accomplishing something, being able to play music comfortably and effortlessly, then I will feel like I’ve final achieved my goal with rock music. So pardon my missed strings, awkward strumming, terrible renditions of songs, and whatever other travesties I might perform in my quest to achieve Rock n’ Roll enlightenment.

8. Don’t give Dalhousie University a single extra dime.

University GreedAfter being royally-fucked-over by housing services, being expected to pay a bullshit co-op fee (for a mediocre employment service, which really should by the university or faculty anyway), the multiple Dalhousie strikes that were narrowly avoid with eleventh hour solutions, rising tuition costs, as well as the fact that the university narrowly avoid missing massive debt payment, I think it’s fair to say that not only does the university not care about how it uses student’s (and more importantly, their parents’) money, it’s fairly crooked in its usage of policies and attempts to con it’s own students out of more money. So, I’ve decided this year, in an effort to both cut down personal spending, as well as take a personal stand against the university’s carelessness and greed, I will take several steps towards cutting down and eliminating my spending on campus. It’s important to first mention that my tuition and fees are completely covered (with money left over, usually) by an independent scholarship, funded by the generous family of Seymour Schulich, not Dalhousie. First off, I will not be buying a meal plan, since residence hall food is shitty and overpriced. I will pack my own lunches, or go off campus, to grab food. I will not be buying food or drinks at the universities various food services, since they are again, usually quite mediocre and overpriced. I will again choose to eat off campus, or bring my own food from home. I will not be buying any books from the university book store, since they are most certainly marked up, instead I will chose to purchase my books online via Amazon, or used from other students. I won’t buy and school supplies from the book store, because they are marked up school supplies even worse then the books. And, I will not donate to any of the university-run charities on campus, instead choosing to donate to organizations independent from my school, as well as through my dad’s workplace’s donation drives. The only thing I will have to pay this year is half of the one-time penalty fee for early residence move out, and my co-op services fee. In future years, my co-op fee will be covered by my renewable scholarship. Maybe individually this won’t really effect the university that much, but this resolution is more about principle then effect, and the more people stop giving the university money they don’t deserve, the better.

9. Save up $4000.00 in my savings account this year.

Screw The Rules I Have MoneyI saved up about 3500 dollars from my summer working at Staples. I will admit, I probably spent too much money last year on eating out, bars, and material objects. It’s safe to say I really “Nature Boy”d a lot (but thankfully, not all) of my money. This year however, since I will be partaking (hopefully) in my first co-op work term, I expect to save a large portion of my earnings in my high interest tax-free savings account. The initial goal behind starting my savings account was to save up enough money to pursue a dream after undergraduate school, like professional wrestling (It usually costs somewhere between 1500 to 3500 dollars for training at a pro wrestling school), or for acting (enough to cover a plane to ticket to somewhere like LA, or for acting lessons). This resolution is about further financing those dreams, and building wealth and security. I plan on developing a concrete monthly budget, and more closely monitoring my spending.

10. Develop my “Bond Sense” and “Bond Skills”

Being James Bond“Bond Sense” is a term, coined from the game 007: Blood Stone, which I have defined as being the knowledge, intuition, and senses that make James Bond the deadliest secret agent ever. “Bond Skills” is a term I’ve decided to use to refer to skills or abilities that James Bond knows or should know. So does this mean I expect to be a “00 agent”, who can operate any vehicle, ski, win poker and baccarat tournament, be an expert marksmen, differentiate champagnes by brand and year, seduce woman, etc, all by the end of the year. No, of course not. But I plan on dedicating some of my time towards learning about and possibly developing at least some of these skills, to a level where I feel comfortable about my own progress, through out 2013. Plus I hate skiing.

11. Eliminate “Blofeld”

Eliminate BlofeldIn case you’ve never seen any of the Bond movies dealing with Blofeld, here’s the scoop. Ernest Stavro Blofeld is Bond’s archenemy, head of the evil organization SPECTRE, and responsible for killing Bond’s newly wed wife, Tracy. What a bastard. I’m happy to report a bald-headed, facially scared man in a Mao-collar suit has not ruined my life (yet). This resolution is really about facing the enemies and villains that I have and will encounter in 2013. In particular, there is a certain Amazonian dictator, limp-dick track star, and hipster hypocrite I’d love to kick in their asses with my size 11 boot. I’m tired of playing nice guy, I’m tired of being patient. “Arm yourself, because no else will save you. The odds will betray you, are you willing to die?” I will fuck up SMERSH, SPECTRE, QUANTUM, OCTOPUS (see the “From Russia With Love” EA video game), or whatever evil organization/ villian tries to get in my way.

12. Go on a mission

A MissionWhile I don’t plan or expect to be going to Fort Knox to save the supply of gold, join an army of French gangsters to raid Piz Gloria, sent into space, to the “Republic of Isthmus” to kill a drug lord, the Cuban jungles to destroy a Janus satellite, or Montenegro to play in a high stakes poker tournament, I would love to embark on at least one “mission”. A “mission” filled with Q-branch approved gadgets, that would take my to an exotic locale, where I would face thugs, seduce the “Bond girls”, kill the “super-villain”, and blow up the “evil lair”. Okay, back to reality. What I really want is to go on an adventure to a different part of the world, find romance, and kick some ass, if possible. I dunno where or when this could happen, but it will.

13. Continue writing this blog

Continue writing this blogThank god I thought of this one, because I was running out of resolutions! The amount of fun and renewed passion I’ve felt writing for this blog these last couple of days has been excellent. I will definitely keep writing and updating this blog, so don’t go nowhere, now.

“Happy” New Year’s.

Fry's New Year's Eve

Hey there,

Long time no, uh, blog. I’ve never been good at these awkward “hello, nice to see you” scenarios, so I’ll just keep it short and say that I experienced an unbelievably difficult and time consuming semester this year at university. To be honest, I did not have the time nor will to seriously pursue any hobbies this semester, including blogging. I must apologize to whoever among my 811+ views found my blog at least slightly amusing, and was expecting more content.

Disclaimer: This is indeed a long story, and it was very much a spur of the moment post. I’m pretty tired as of writing this post, so I haven’t put a lot of effort into proofreading. So if you see a couple of errors, but still get the idea, please don’t let that detract your enjoyment. This is as raw and unedited as it gets.

Okay, now for a story. For New Year’s, I was really excited, for once. I actually had plans (a month in advance) with a friend. While I was hoping that more friends would be interested in doing something this year with me, I was happy to have at least one friend who was interested in doing something. I was quite thrilled, much like the way I felt as child when I got the chance to have a friend stay over, or stay over a friend’s house. It would always be guaranteed to be filled with crazy hijinks, junk food galore, toys, video games, and late bed times. That same kind of excitement was what I was feeling for this New Year’s. Maybe it wouldn’t be the same conversations, hijinks, video games, or late bed times (by my childhood measure) of yesteryear, but the same ideas still stood, and I couldn’t be more satisfied.

The plan between me and my friend, which I had come up with concretely a week or two before New Year’s Eve. The plan was for us to meet after noontime at my house, play some video games, watch some kickass movies, eat some chips and dip, maybe wet our whistles with a bit of alcohol (with my remaining supply of Jim Beam, Mount Gay Rum, gin and vermouth from residence), and do whatever. Then, we would either get a pizza delivered, or head out to Pizza Delight. We would return, chill for a bit, maybe head out to the bar, then check out any concerts and/or fireworks that were happening that evening. After the fireworks, we would head back home, and enjoy some a couple glasses of Bollinger and some chocolate fondu, with my folks. Then we could play video games, eat more junk food, and watch movies, for as long as we could stay awake. Then, the next day, I would drive him to a music practice. Sounds like a decent plan, right? I wasn’t expecting to do everything on my list, but at the very least, I was expecting a pretty relaxed, yet fun-packed evening, culminating in enjoying some Bollinger, with my family and a close friend.

Well, New Year’s Eve arrived, and woke up and got dressed in a gray, Connery-esque suit (which drew many complaints from parents for being “too dressy”, of course). I had gotten everything ready for the evening. Lots of chips and dip, pop and alcohol, well chilled, in my mini-fridge, my spare Xbox from residence set up in the basement, the Bollinger (purchased by my mom, by my suggestion, of course) and even some fondu. My friend mentioned the day before that he was planning on doing a bit of bar hopping with a couple of his buds. in the afternoon, but that he would be down around 5 or 6 pm, instead of 2 or 3 pm, as I had though. Less time, but oh well, we still had the whole evening to celebrate. A couple of hours before he was suppose to arrive, he asked me if I could also have his friends stay over the evening, since they were out of the area (like he was). I flatly denied, since I already had to convince my parents to have one friend stay over on New Year’s. Plus it was the principle of the whole act, it really put me in an uncomfortable position. Thankfully, it wasn’t a big deal. We settled on just having his two friends come visit, and leave later.

I ended up meeting my friend’s other two friends, and it didn’t take longer for all of us to get along, which I was thankful for, since I had no idea who his friends were, and I wasn’t sure how things were going to go. We played a bit of Fight Night and UFC Undisputed, before heading out to Pizza Delight for dinner. With exception of myself, everybody pre-drank at Pizza Delight. I’m not a big fan of beer, especially overpriced domestic beer, so the decision was easy for me. My friend and his two buddies ended up talking a lot about picking up chicks, which I’m never a huge fan of, because a) it’s so immature and b) it seems like one of those things where the more talk you make, the less you actually achieve. We got to the Alehouse around 8′ o’clock, and we had a great time. We got three beer pitcher and chicken wing combos for the whole table, and I got a vodka martini, shaken of course, extra. It was right before 11 when we decided to leave. The plan was for us to check out some of the clubs downtown, and hang out a bit, and then my friend and I were suppose to head back, after midnight, to having champagne and chill for the rest of the evening. Although my New Year’s had not gone at all as planned, I was enjoying myself, and I thought “what could go wrong?”

I think you know where this going.

We went to “The Palace”, since it’s much less nasty and “rape-y” then “The Dome”. BAM! 15 bucks cover. Fuck, that’s a lot. Oh well, who knows, we might have some fun, meet some girls (although I had no interest in picking up woman at a club, since I’m a cold bastard who doesn’t believe in romance any more), enjoy the club scene, and still get home to enjoy a late night of gaming and junk food. Unfortunately, my friend had chugged a pitcher of beer (in one go, I might add), drank the equivalent of at least ½ half of another, and a vodka-screwdriver, all in less than 2 hours. Plus, he decided to drink more when we got there. Naturally, he was plastered. It certainly showed in his dancing. I sat down at the table, half-watching the Monday Night RAW on the TV (I have no idea why “The Palace” was showing wrestling, but I’ll take it). My friend’s two buddies from out of town, who I would like to add, were talking some mad game early in the evening, didn’t seem very interested in scoring or picking up chicks that evening. To be fair, most the woman (who were all seemed to be in short dresses, and many of which, were decently attractive) had all either come in groups of female friends (dancing in a “I don’t want to talk to you, so go away” fashion), or with other guys, who were all dressed in dress shirts and ties. I patted myself on the back for wearing a v-neck black sweater in addition to shirt and tie, which helped make me stand out and above the crowd of short-spiked-hair, athletic, jocks that overrun the bar.

My friend was a dancing machine that evening, although few people had shown the same enthusiasm or effort has he did. I attempted to join him, and make him feel less alone in dancing, but he just got more erratic in his dancing, and not even I could keep up with his drunken flailing. Eventually, I had enough of “The Palace”. I had enough of the pretentious vibe. I had enough of the preppy people. I had enough of the dry-humping and grinding. I had enough of the “everybody here is already in a relationship, why the fuck are you here” attitude that was so blatantly present. Two hours had pasted, and I finally decided that I couldn’t wait for my friend to tire out any long. I found him on the dance floor, and told him that it was time to go, and that I had enough. He said that he had decided to stay and continue dancing. I grabbed my coat from the coat check (which was being run by a hot, but bitchy girl, in suit jacket and yoga pants), and I double checked with my friend, before I left the bar.

I spent, what I estimated as being twenty minutes, attempting to get a cab. I soon discovered just how impossible it is to find/stop a cab on New Year’s Eve. It was after this long episode of cab searching, that my friend called me on my cell phone, to tell me that his buddies were going to pick me up, and that he still wanted to come over. Needless to say, I was PISSED. I told him to piss off, and then I gave up, and grabbed the next bus home. I could have just asked my dad to come pick me up, but I already felt like a huge a huge asshole for forcing him to stay up waiting for me to come back, so I called him and let him know that I was taking the bus home. The one thing I tried my best to avoid happened that evening, I was all alone on New Year’s.

I did my best to just stay quite and out of site, but a couple of people from my high school saw me on the bus, and struck up a conversation. Great, I’m sure that didn’t make me look like a complete loser. When I got home, I told my parents this story (well, minus the more “colorful” details, but the basic plot was there”). I was so unbelievably ticked off when I got home. My parents were pretty understanding about what had happened. I ate a bit of fondu, and went to bed, having had my New Year’s Eve ruined.

Thankfully, New Year’s Day was a lot better. I spent time with my parents, relaxed a lot, watched a movie or two, and we had a nice dinner, where we finally got to try the Bollinger. Bollinger is a wonderfully sweet and delicious champagne, that is well worth the price. After a lot of organizing today, I retold (a briefer version) of this story to a friend, and felt inspired to write this post.

Overall, the experiences at the club and wandering around downtown for a cab, taught me a couple of things. One thing I learned was that no matter how good of friends you are with a person, you can never depend or expect too much from them. Out of 15 or 20 people I tried to make plans with, only 4 or 5 people that replied, the majority of them could not make it, for their own reasons, which I understood. The rest of the people I invited didn’t even respond back. I guess that goes to show you how much some of my friends really think of me. Even my best childhood friend couldn’t make it.

Two, I might not find my “Ms. Right” and live “happily ever after”, ever, especially not anytime in my early or mid twenties. It seems that the women I’ve run into in the first two decades of my life of all either be completely revolting (on the inside and/or out), not interested, or taken. The majority of woman in university only want to either date skinny, male model hipster or douchebag, popped collar, brand-name, dumb-shit, jocks and preps. Unfortunately, since I am neither, it looks like I”m SOL. I’m not saying that this is every woman out there, but I’ve yet to be surprised yet, so yeah.

Three, it’s time that I take charge of my life, more so then ever, and become as independent as possible. I’ve become way to complacent with my life, and I want the “eye of the tiger” back. I want to be “hungry” for the fight. So, while I haven’t formally decided what my New Year’s resolution is, I know what the main message is. It’s time for change, it’s time for dedication, it’s time go out and get what I want, it’s time for success. It’s time.

From My Headquarters At DAL, Location Classified

Thomas Li B005 – Status Confirmed.

To start, I would like to apologize for not writing anything during the rest of August. After putting in my two weeks notice in the first week, I got hit with a shit tonne of travel, busy work and loose ends. I left on a one week vacation to Toronto during the second week of August (I’ll discuss that in another post in the immediate future), quit my job the day after I got back, and spent the remaining two weeks preparing my application for the Co-op program of my degree (currently, I’m in my second year of computer science, and I’m looking to also do the honours program in fourth year), packing to move back to residence for a second year, and other small things. Much like James Bond, I will ALWAYS return, at some point or another, for another mission. Let’s just hope that I don’t plan on replacing me with another actor at any point in time.

After spending the last couple of weeks of summer running around and completing errands and tasks, I barely felt ready to return to school. I just recently moved back into my room in residence, Tuesday to be exact. The room itself is decent (potentially a tad bit larger than my room last year, but nothing significantly different), with the only issue being a bit of wall damage from some “jockass” who probably used the cheapest and shittiest mounting adhesive to stick his/her posters on the wall. There also appears to be a small, fist-sized portion of wall that was either repainted or re-plastered (perhaps from a night of drunken rage?), but nothing that is that noticeable and couldn’t be covered up with some posters/monthly wall schedule.

I spent most of Tuesday unpacking and organizing my room, so I didn’t really get a chance (or cared enough) to try and go meet people on the floor. Most of the people already seem to be friends anyway, and it was clear that the floor seems to be largely put together of preps and jocks, so it’s not exactly my audience. I’m also not interested in try to form year long friendships with belligerently wasted people, who probably wouldn’t even be able to remember my name, in the fog of their drunken stupor. Thankfully, some of my residence friends from last year still live in the building (on different floors), so I did have some people to chill with.

By yesterday, I realized I had forgot to pack a great deal of useful things, despite remembering to bring most of my essential items. AA Batteries, the remote to my TV, and my fan were some of the big things. Thankfully, my parents live in the area, so they sent down all the missing items in question, most important being the fan (it’s like a sahara dessert in these dorm rooms). Later that evening, I got together with Kris Krippler and High Chief Tuma (or TJ, for you anglicizing bastards), along with Colonel Wilson of the 5th Jungle Division (whom I served under in my “residence armed forces” days) and SexayBiatch Bry-dog (a self-appointed title, the man has that much respect in the division). I had a couple of Jim Beam bourbon highballs earlier in the evening (I know, I must be the only wannabe superspy who can’t take bourbon straight), and then a very fruity Long Island Iced Tea at Pizza Delight. I had asked for a martini, but the waitress was also certain that nobody could prepare one, so I decided, “screw it” and I ordered that testicle-strinking drink from the LI. Seriously, despite the alcohol content, that is one fruity-ass drink, it’s pretty much liquid sugar. Surprisingly, especially with the inclusion of that LI Iced Tea, I was only mildly buzzed that evening. Go figure.

Today, I had a rather easy first day of class. My first (and only class of the day) was a Eastern Religious Studies class. A hoard of students were piled up in front of the door to the auditorium. The professor of the class is a man is what I assumed to be his mid 30s. I appreciated the fact that he was wearing a suit (sans tie), something that a lot of professors seem to like to skip out on. The interesting thing about this suit was the peaked-lapel of the jacket (which is usually reserved now mostly for formalwear in modern fashion, but perfectly acceptable), something I’ve only seen Daniel Craig’s Bond and Penn Jillette wear before on a regular suit jacket. The professor was very relaxed, and comfortably went over the course to the class. I look forward to having him as professor, he seemed like a very nice and polite gentleman.

Well, that’s all for this briefing. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do for the rest of the day. Perhaps a few more bourbon highballs with a couple of friends might pass the time?

-Thomas Li B005 – Signing Off-

Supplies, Muthafucka!

It was quite the “supplies” today, at least for management, when I put in my two weeks notice. I had been contemplating whether or not I wanted to keep working for a few more months at Staples during the school year. But now, I’ve finally made a decision.

I decided that I would not want to be in school AND working at the same time, especially if I didn’t need to. My solid financial situation (scholarships, trust funds, parent’s saving, etc.), the increasing work load at work, the pressure to make unlikely sales, the understaffed nature of our store, and the tight scheduling were all ultimately deciding factors in my decision to stop working during the fall. It was very obvious that I would need to put in my two weeks notice at some point during August. I decided that I would put it in before my vacation this upcoming week for two reasons:

  1. My last available day would be August 19th, 2012, about two weeks before the fall term at university begins, giving me plenty of time to relax and prepare.
  2. It would be much less of a dick move, in comparison to putting my two weeks notice immediately AFTER coming back from vacation (which I would need to do, if I waited until then).

Overall, it was a pretty anti-climatic (but normal) moment. My manager understood my reasons for quitting, and I had given a fair and polite resignation. Sorry folks, No CM Punk-style shoot promos today. I didn’t receive any offers of a promotion or a raise yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they cooked up something within these next two weeks in an attempt to try to convince me to stay.

Since management has not hired any of the new potential applicants yet, I’ll probably still be working during my final two scheduled weeks. Should Staples get enough new employees within this two week span, I have no doubt that I may be let go early.

Mission Completed. Thomas Li signing off.