Thursday, March 30, 2017

National Black Forest Cake Day!

This holiday was actually a couple of days ago. It's my fave type of cake!😍To have a day devoted to it is awesome! It has chocolate, cherries, and whipped cream, which makes the perfect combo. Now I'm craving it...πŸ˜‹

I feel kind of bad that it's been so long.πŸ˜”I thought I'd be better about posting this year. I still can, but at my current rate, it's pretty sad. Sometimes my computer slows down as I'm writing a post, so that's one of the reasons why I haven't posted as much as I used to. Also, just saw recently that Firefox is going to drop support, at least security-wise, of Windows XP users. So, I left Chrome because of this, and now Firefox is doing it, too? Crazy!πŸ˜–

Anyways, I finished Naruto Shippuden last Friday. It ended on its 500th episode. Before that there was roughly 200 episodes of Naruto. That's a long time...😲I only skipped about 3 months of it, because they were getting really ridiculous with the side stories or 'fillers' as the main story was nearing its end. They really wanted to stretch it. (They did it before, but I think this was the worst time for it.) I still think the series overall was pretty good. The animation improved quite a bit over time, too. Hopefully this isn't too spoilery, but I knew Naruto would end up with Hinata, and they ended it with their wedding. A sweet end to it.😊 I think the actual ending was what happened right after Naruto and Sasuke's final fight. The rest seemed like they were just appealing to the fans. That's ok, though. It wasn't like those annoying side stories before. These had substance, and apparently they were based on the mangaka's (the creator of the manga/series) light novels. The last arc about the wedding was goofy and lighthearted, and that's probably what it needed. I didn't like Naruto's haircut during that time.πŸ˜’ They aged everyone after that fight with Sasuke by a couple of years. Everyone else seemed ok, and some actually looked better than they used to. However, with Naruto, his hair was super short and spiky. I don't think I would have had so much of a problem with it, if they had made it fit his head better. If that makes sense? It made that part of the animation look 'off'. There's apparently another series starting next month called Boruto. It's basically about the next generation. The main character being Naruto and Hinata's kid. I think Naruto's finally Hokage in it. I might watch a couple of episodes to see how certain character's kids turned out, who ended up together, and maybe who stayed single. Interestingly, I think Sasuke doesn't care for romance and such, so the love (more like obsession) Sakura has for him might be one-sided. Sad for her, but would be interesting to see how that turned out. I'm not going to watch more than that, because it feels like it'll be a rehashing of everything for the next generation.πŸ˜‘

Finished Ao no Exorcist or Blue Exorcist's 2nd season. It was ok. Interesting to see that arc animated. I think the next one in the manga would have been even better. The one about Izumo's family/past. They grow a lot as a group, too. Shima being a spy was a big thing as well during that one. The current arc (in the manga), I think, is a lot more complicated than the previous ones. A lot of questions throughout the series are being answered. However, with that, more questions are popping up. Even the guy who raised Rin and Yukio might not have been who he said he was, or what people thought of him. Anyways, I hope they animate the other arcs in the future.

Finished watching elDLIVE. I haven't caught up to where the anime ended in the manga. There's obviously more, since the manga's still ongoing. The anime left it wide open for a sequel, too. It was pretty good. There were little references to the mangaka's previous series: Hitman Reborn. In fact, it sounded like it was in the same universe. Like, the mafia boss' ceremony was mentioned on TV. I think Reborn's hat was in one of the episodes. Just little details, but they were nice to see.😌 Reborn is one of my faves, especially the manga version. The main character, Chuuta, in this seems a lot more capable and has more confidence in himself early on than Tsuna in Reborn. I thought that part was actually better. It was cute that the last image of the finale was elDLIVE characters dressing up in Hitman Reborn cosplay. A nice touch, too. 

Also finished the most recent season of Gintama. I hope there's another one, since they also left it open. I know it'll be the last season, so it'll be bitter sweet.πŸ˜” I thought this one would be, but they basically said it wasn't over yet at the end. They still haven't stopped Utsuro/Shoyo. He seems to have a split personality. At least Kamui seemed to come to his senses about killing his own father, and his sister if she stepped in. I like that ultimately, Kagura (his sister), won the fight and saved him from essentially killing himself. It was interesting to see who was Shoyo's first student. (When Utsuro was a teacher he used that name.) They basically set things in motion. 

There are a lot of interesting anime coming up for the next season. Kekkai Sensen was supposed to have their 2nd season during that time, but apparently that was moved to October. That's a while.😯 At least Uchouten Kazoku's 2nd season will start next month. It's been a while since the first season. Many of the others I don't know much about, but might give them a try. 

I'm getting close to finishing Bleach. I think it's been good. I've skipped the fillers, though. I think it would be frustrating to sit through them, because it seems like half the series is like that.πŸ˜’ An episode before the last one I watched, had a time skip of 17 months. Some of the characters changed their appearance, which was interesting to see. This arc seems like it'll be interesting.

One Piece has grown on me. I recently read that in an interview with the mangaka, they basically made the main character, Luffy, aro ace.😲 They said he doesn't care about romance or sex. His only loves are adventure and food. His friends are like family. Now that I've gotten a decent amount into it, that actually makes sense. Which makes me a little more interested in it. He seems childish at first, but I think he's a lot more 'with it' and mature than he lets on. Especially, when they show him alone, or his thought process when he's fighting an opponent. I think there are time skips in this one, too. The series is still ongoing with close to 800 episodes. I'm close to the 200 mark. A long ways to go, if I keep watching it.πŸ˜‰ I'm also skipping fillers with this one.

At the 2nd local ace meeting, someone else actually showed up besides Dad and I. Yay!πŸ˜€ I knew them from the other group, but it was still nice. They also landed on the ace spectrum, so it was definitely a group for them, too. It was a laid back meeting, and we veered a few times away from ace stuff, but that's ok. To be expected with so few people. I think I like the cafe it was at that time. It's a lot more open, and it feels like there's a more private area with plenty of seating in the back. So, I decided that's where the group will meet for now. I had a berry scone and an iced vanilla chai. The scone was so huge! Cake-like, too. I couldn't finish it. For the chai, it seemed like they used actual vanilla beans rather than an extract or premade stuff. They had quite a lot of different flavors for the chai. It was very interesting, and tasty. 

I'm hoping that more people come to this Saturday's meeting. I think the person that went last time liked it, so maybe they'll be there. If we have more people, we can have it more like an 'official' meeting. I can set guidelines, have people introduce themselves, talk about how we want the group to be, ask questions, talk about topics, bring up any news about the community (locally or otherwise), etc. Like many support/community groups. 

Also, at some point, I want to start a list of ace-related media. Maybe people who come to the offline meeting can give input on that, too. Media, meaning TV shows, movies, books, comics, music, etc. that might have ace characters, or ace themes, or about asexuality itself. That sort of thing. I've come across a few with just looking at news articles that groups on fb post, but never actually sat down and searched for it. Things like the uproar with Jughead from Archie, who the creator has said is ace and most likely aro, and the show Riverdale making him straight. Or, like I said with Luffy from One Piece. Even documentaries would be fine. I've seen a couple, but there aren't many of those either. I've read that there are a few ace-related songs, too. There are some ace singers/other band members. It might turn into something really cool...😎

I'm close to finishing the formatting for a print version of Alliance. After that, I'll just need to design the front, side, and back cover. I have the art designs already for the front and back. It shouldn't be too difficult to add a description on the back, do the side part, and put it all together. I think with the size I chose, which is apparently 'standard', Alliance is still going to be thick. In the Word doc, where the pages are already the size they'd be for the print, it's 300 pages. That's pretty sizeable. I think when I do Sweet Endless Terror's print version, I'll pick a smaller size for it. It has 12 short stories, and normally with Word, it's much shorter than Alliance. Like, close to half as long. Should be interesting. Also, Alliance's promo will start on the 6th. It'd be interesting if the print version is available on Amazon around the same time. It seems like having both the ebook and print versions of these will promote themselves even more. There would be more exposure, and maybe some people like having an actual book in their hands rather than staring at a screen. It'll be cool to see them in print, anyways. I think I read that they distribute their print books to many actual brick and mortar bookstores. That'll be good. I don't know what I'll price the print versions at yet. They'll probably have suggestions. It has to be enough to cover the labor involved in making them, materials, shipping them, etc. Of course, you still want enough for yourself. That's why print books are more expensive than ebooks.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

National Cereal Day!

This holiday was actually yesterday. There are so many different types of cereal out there. Interesting to have a day for it. For cold cereal, I normally like Honey Nut Cheerios. For hot, usually oatmeal with some light syrup, raisins, a little Splenda, and cinnamon. Sometimes I'll have cream of rice. I might do a similar thing as the oatmeal with it.

Well, only Dad and I showed up for the first local ace group meeting. I'm a bit disappointed, but at least it symbolically started. People might need to get used to the time. 2 people said they were planning to go, but they ended up doing other things at the same time.

Since I was already at the cafe, I got an iced chai. It was so overfilled that when I tried to poke the straw through, the liquid spurted out. It was good, though. Actually better than the Starbuck's version. Also, got a Texas pecan pie bar. It was huge and really tasty. Pecan pie is one of my fave pies, and to have it in bar form was interesting. Probably shouldn't have had it because of the whole nuts. They were very soft, and there wasn't very many.

Next time the meeting will be at a different cafe. Hopefully other people will be there. I thought in the past that it might be best to meet at somebody's house. Just to have it safer and more 'private'. I'm wondering if some people don't want to talk or be out about it in public. I can see why that would be scary. However, maybe some want to make sure they get to know people before doing something like that. So, I can see both sides of this. If we had it at someone's home I could use my huge flag for the meeting. It'd be easier for the dessert potluck part, too. I decided to skip that until we talk things out in person. For the time being, since we're meeting at cafes, we can grab desserts there.

I unpublished my 2 ebooks from Smashwords, and enrolled them both in Amazon's KDP Select's program. While they're enrolled, they can't be sold anywhere else. They weren't doing much with Smashwords and its distributors, so I thought this would be a good thing to do. With Select, there are 2 promos you can choose from, they're put into something similar to a library, it's open to more countries, etc. The terms are 3 months long, and you can reenroll after each one.

For Alliance, I chose the Kindle Countdown Deal. They won't let you start it until after it's been enrolled for a month. So, I scheduled it for the beginning of next month. You can only do it for a week at most during the entire term. It'll have 4 price increments. It'll start with 80% of, then 60%, and so on. People will see the regular price (which will now be $4.99) next to the discounted one. I'll still get the same percentage in royalties. Even though it'll dip below the normal $2.99 mark. Usually, anything less than that, and you'll only get 35%. At that mark and more, you get 70% back. That's a lot better, and I'm glad they keep it with this promo.

With Sweet Endless Terror, I chose the Free Book Promotion. That you can you do right away. I scheduled that to start today, and it'll go until the 12th at midnight. Apparently, you can't schedule it to start before 8am. So, it ends up being slightly less than 5 days worth...It can only be for 5 days each term. I chose this one for the free promo, since it's shorter and set to be cheaper than Alliance. (It'll be $3.99 normally.) After the 5 days are up, they'll briefly put it on the paid 100 Amazon Best Seller List. This will help with exposure, too.

Last time I checked, I've 'sold' 8 today through the free book promo. That's not bad for the first 9 hours. With each one sold (even if it's free), the ranking for that book goes up. More people will see it this way. It gets suggested more often, and can make it onto certain lists. So, that in itself can be awesome. With selling it for free, I still get something out of it.

I like that the promos will be one after the other. There will be some time between them, and a month without until the term ends. I think this will help a lot. Then, I could start all over again when I reenroll. It'll expose it to even more people this way.

Also, with their library, I get paid for every page that's read. It's quite a bit different with how much you get back. It varies, and I think it depends on how much is in a given 'pool' of money that they get. They take that into account and how many pages have been read, and that's what you get back. There's also a set maximum amount of pages that I don't even come close to. Something like 30,000. The longest one of mine, Alliance, is about 400 pages...No matter how long somebody takes to read it, I'll still get paid. Even if it's after the Select term is over and I don't reenroll. Pretty awesome! I've read that people can be paid quite a lot this way. I'll still think of it as 'extra' compared to selling them like usual.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

National Peanut Butter Lovers Day!

This holiday was yesterday. Yay for peanut butter! Although, I have to be in the mood for it. Sometimes I really love it, other times it feels too heavy/rich. I sometimes make a peanut butter and nutella sandwich, instead of having it with jelly. Sometimes I make a pudding out of just peanut butter and nutella, or jelly in place of the nutella. Probably not very healthy, but really good. I like the crunchy kind the most. The creamy one is easier to digest, though. It's a good source of protein, too.
This is my wallpaper for March. It's Rin from Ao no Exorcist or Blue Exorcist. Seemed spring-like and cool to me. I've also been watching the new anime season. It's interesting to see this arc in action. The manga is way ahead of this one. The characters have matured quite a bit since this. The plot has gotten more complicated, too. So, it's interesting in those ways as well. It'll be cool if they go past this arc, but I doubt it. 

The month-long holidays are: National Celery Month, National Frozen Food Month, National Noodle Month, National Peanut Month, Irish-American Heritage Month, National Women's History Month. Some are for important causes, some are to make you appreciate things you may take for granted, and some are just for fun. I'm Irish-American, so that's great to have a month celebrating part of my heritage. I love noodles! Frozen food doesn't nearly get the credit it deserves, so it's great that it's celebrated all month long. 

My Pusheen calendar features a dinosaur theme. She's a dinosaur making 3 different poses. There are eggs, plants, and fossils. She's popping out of a colorful egg at the bottom. Cute. 

Still haven't gotten a Jewish calendar. Not sure if I will...The month of Adar started recently. It's the 6th month of that calendar. Purim happens midway through the month. Might have my own little party for it. Pesach or Passover will be next month. It feels like it's too soon...

Speaking of Pesach, this past weekend, we went to QFC in Seattle and got a bunch of stuff for the holiday. They have one of the largest selections of Pesach stuff in the region. Heck, the amount of their normal kosher stuff is massive. Amazing place. I didn't have a list, so I went with what I know I like, what I think I'll use, and a few new stuff to try. Haven't had an Osem's (an Israeli company) cake in a long time, and this one's chocolate chip. I don't think I've had that one. In the past, it's usually been the marble one. They're really soft and will melt in your mouth. This was the 2nd year I've seen a chocolate seder plate. I thought it was too out there last year. This time, I thought: why not? Seems large and thick.

Decided to not make my own granola this year. They had canisters of premade ones. I'm tempted to see if our local market will have premade charoset. I don't want to have to go through with the whole process of peeling, coring, and chopping the apples; then crushing the walnuts. It'll make it a lot easier if they do. I don't care if it's not chunky anymore. Actually that might make it easier to digest for me. I might use a roasted beet again for the bone part of the plate. 

The 1st meeting of the local ace group I formed on fb will be this Saturday at a cafe. I'm really excited about it! Even if most of the people that show up are allies, that'd be awesome! We're up to 11 people at the moment. It'd be interesting if all 11 showed up. Maybe, there will be more. Since I heard a couple of allies knew a few. Hope they'll have enough room for us, if that's the case. That might be a little too good.

Went to the local trans group meeting last night. I'm an ally, and my parent started the group. Anyways, I brought up the local ace group in my recent news part. Someone I haven't seen in a while wanted to know more about asexuality. I thought that was cool. Only, I don't think he quite understood some of it. Saying he thinks he's the opposite of ace threw me off a bit. Asexuality is kind of it's own thing. Although, there is a spectrum with aces on one side and sexuals on the other. The ones in between are still under the ace umbrella. With that way, sexuals might be considered the opposite, but it still doesn't quite feel right. I think he was thinking about being hypersexual. Some aces are, but it's like there's no 'target'. So, that doesn't really work, either. Now that I think about it again, it's probably pansexuality that's the 'opposite'. They are attracted sexually to people regardless of gender. Doesn't mean they're super sexual, or that they fall for everyone they see. doesn't matter. I honestly think pans have a lot in common with aces. I remember seeing a comic concept about 2 friends. 1 being ace and the other pan. They were going to call it All or Nothing. The ace was going to be super outgoing and affectionate with people, while the pan would essentially be the opposite. Trying to dispell stereotypes, as well. Not sure if they actually made that comic, but it sounds like it'd be cool. 

I don't think he quite got aromanticism, either. (It's totally understandable that he didn't quite get either of these. This was the first time he had heard about either of them. He was also very respectful and polite about it.) I mentioned that I'd like a qpr (after explaining it), but how would I ask someone to be in one with me? Being aro, dating is strange. Some aros like dating, but it's kind of for recreation or something. (Similar with some aces and sex.) Most don't quite understand it for themselves. They might get the concept for other people. Most romantics/sexuals will hope it leads to certain destinations I don't really want or desire/need. Many will say they were lead on, if it doesn't go that way. He said things like not all dating is romantic. I'm sorry, but even the concept of dating is super romanticized. It might not start out that way, but again, most will hope (and need) for it to lead to romance and sex. I seem to be battling amatonormitivity with wanting a different sort of relationship. Many aros and aro aces want to promote other types of relationships and loves, to show that there's more out there and they are just as important as romantic ones. Even on AVEN there are romantic aces that look down on all aros, regardless if they're ace too. They think we're cold, heartless, can't love, etc. Our love is just different. Doesn't mean it's any better or worse than your romantic love. Plus, if that was the only type of love out there, wouldn't that be boring? He wanted to join the local ace facebook group to learn more, which is great. It'll be interesting if he goes the 1st or future meetings offline. 

Finished revising/editing Sweet Endless Terror: An anthology of Nightmares. I'm pulling both this and Alliance off of Smashwords, and therefore their distributors. I plan to opt in for both ebooks to Amazon's KDP Select program. It's exclusive. So, it can't be sold anywhere else. I was reluctant about it, but they weren't doing much on Smashwords. With Select, Amazon will promote it for me, which will be nice. I won't opt-in until next week. It takes a week at most for Smashwords' distributors to stop selling them. Takes just a few days for the revised version of SET to become available. I'm adding a dollar to both prices. So, SET will be $3.99, and Alliance will be $4.99. (SET is quite a bit shorter than Alliance.) After this, I'll start making print versions of both. That should be fun. Hopefully, it'll take less time than it did for the revisions.

Recently started watching Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan or the Disastrous Life of Saiki K. I'm liking it a lot more than I thought I would. It's basically about an incredibly powerful/talented psychic named Saiki. (Yes, his name is a play on the word 'psychic'.) He has many abilities. The problem is, is that he's too powerful. He has to wear 2 devices in his hair that look kind of like pink bolts, but he tells people they're clips. They keep him 'grounded'. He has to wear transparent gloves, so he doesn't look into the past of every object and person he touches. He even changes the way people view the world. Like getting them to think his pink hair is normal. Apparently, this also gave others different crazy colored hair. (This is probably a jab at the crazy hair colors that show up in anime.) He levitates, can teleport, reads people's thoughts, and apparently never actually speaks. Just sends his thoughts to the person speaking to him. They apparently think he's speaking normally. He also wears green sunglasses to suppress more of his visual powers. It's also about how things can go wrong when you're so powerful. It's interesting, I think he may be aro. Maybe even ace, although there aren't many hints on that. (He doesn't seem to be into sex, though.) He said it himself, that he doesn't understand romance, or why anyone would want it. He goes out of his way to avoid girls who want to confess to him. However, he will try to help his friends, if he thinks they're going to break up. He doesn't want them to get hurt. For some of it, I feel I can relate to him. There aren't many aro, ace, or aro ace character representations in media. There needs to be more, and they shouldn't stereotype them. Really, that aro part is treated as just who he is, and nothing more. Not like he's heartless or uncaring. He might care a little too much at times, getting into dangerous or crazy situations because of it.

Started watching Kaitou Tantei Yamaneko or The Mysterious Thief Yamaneko. Yamaneko lit. means mountain cat, but can be referred to as wildcat. There are some cat sound effects, and he sometimes acts like one. He also puts a cat mask on when he's stealing something or doesn't want his identity known. It's very interesting. I don't think I liked it at first, but it's grown on me. Yamaneko's basically a detective that gets back at the criminals by stealing evidence or setting them up so the cops can find them. I love the actor who plays him, Kazuya Kamenashi. He's also a member of the band KAT-TUN. I've seen several other things he's acted in, and he's really good. Almost every character he plays has had a different personality and quirks. It must be difficult for a good singer to play a character that's tone-deaf. His character sings horribly quite often. He pulls it off well, though. Another actor I love, Hiroki Narimiya, plays a journalist that ends up teaming up with Yamaneko. I haven't seen him in anything in a long time. His best and most memorable role, I think, was probably playing the main villain in Bloody Monday. The journalist is quite different, though. He seems naive and kind. However, there are some slight hints that that might be an act. Knowing about something Yamaneko never told him, and telling someone else about it. He had no way of knowing unless he saw it, or is guilty of something. I love another actress, Nene Otsuka, who plays a character that's also apart of Yamaneko's team. That character owns a bar with the same name, and is constantly giving him ramen. It's basically where they all live. She coordinates a lot of stuff for him. The actor who plays a detective who's apart of the team as well, seems to always play a detective. Usually corrupt. Interesting show so far.

Trickster has been weird. The only part I'm interested in is Kobayashi, his power, and past. (Which has kept me watching to see if there's more about it.) I could care less about 20 Faces, Akechi, or even Hanasaki. It seemed like it started with Kobayashi's stuff and barely revealed anything about him. Then it's essentially been fixated on 20 Faces vs Akechi, and pretty much everyone picking on Hanasaki because he was used by 20 Faces. That stuff got old quickly. We're about 19 episodes (only a few left) in and they finally touched a bit more on Kobayashi during the last episode I saw. That's a long time. He has amnesia, a special ability that protects him from pretty much anything, and he wants to die because the ability won't let him. That ability will even force feed him things off the ground if he's trying to starve himself. Bullets get thrown up if they get past the barrier it makes. He can't touch or have someone touch him, because it'll slice the other person's arm off to protect itself. He accidentally ingested poison at one point, and his body just turned the poisoned food into a ball and made him hack it up. We did get some glimpses into his past. His mom was apparently very ill, hooked up to IVs, hacking up blood, and bed bound. His dad would try to beat him, and say it was all his fault. At least, we think those were his parents. They lived near an amusement park, which is where the group was headed at the end of the episode. The only thing I found relevant with 20 Faces is that he has powers, too. He finds Kobayashi interesting. They found out if Kobayashi feels that he wants to live, his barrier/power weakens. Thus, making it easier to be killed. If he goes back to wanting to die, it strengthens those powers. So, he's in a situation where he can't win either way. It'll be interesting to see how he got those powers, and what actually made him forgot about his past.