Never Thought I’d Do This

Jul. 19th, 2017 08:42 pm
lovelyangel: (Gromit Prison)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
Before I bought an iPad, I listed some use cases. (Of course I did. I’m a Business Systems Analyst.) One of those use cases was ebook reader.

TMI about ebooks behind this temporary cut )

Anime Summer Week 2

Jul. 16th, 2017 03:08 pm
lovelyangel: (Chibi Yuri)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
Mahoujin Guru Guru, Episode 1

At the beginning of each anime season, I try to sample all the new shows (excluding sequels of series I haven’t watched) at Crunchyroll. In week 2 there were still quite a few new series premieres. Here are the shows from this season that I watched last week…

Tenshi no 3P! (Angel’s 3Piece): Episode 1
Well… that has to be the most adorable girl band in anime ever. There’s a danger in using 5th grade girls in an anime series aimed at teenage boys, so we’ll see if this show can stay in-bounds. Apparently this show is by the same writer/studio that did Ro-kyu-bu. I hadn’t watched that series, but I guess it was a bit controversial. I’ve checked my blood glucose levels, and I can probably tolerate the super cuteness of this show – for now it’s on probationary status in my watchlist.

Yōkai Apāto no Yūga na Nichijō (Elegant Yokai Apartment Life): Episode 2
The episode seemed dull and sloppy for the first half… but maybe it was just the introduction of so many characters. At any rate, the second half had a somewhat unexpected change-up – so maybe this series isn’t as two-dimensional as it appears at first glance. I’ll stick around for another episode at least.

Isekai Shokudō (Restaurant to Another World): Episode 2
Looks like we’re in for some short stories – one for each world. That’s fine. The characters and their stories are interesting – and everyone eventually ends up at the Yōshoku no Nekoya. This show is moving along nicely and maintains a good feeling.

Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni (In Another World With My Smartphone): Episode 1
An exceedingly simple show in art and script. Too simple – like a kid’s show. This episode was hard to sit through, and I’m not adding the series to my watchlist.

New Game!!: Episode 1
They’re baaaaack! All of them! This was a nice refresher for all the characters and a cute callback to episode 1 of the first season. I loved how Doga Kobo again did a super animation moment for Kou’s hair. This is the most we’ve seen of Shizuku in a single episode, but it was a reasonable move to use her as a focus for visiting each of the staff members.

Aho Girl: Episode 2
This episode wasn’t quite as bad as the first one. At least they toned down the banana jokes… and featured less punch-in-the-face violence. Still, the tone oscillates between annoying and mean. Regardless of whether or not I watch any more episodes, I won’t be listing this show in my weekly summary.

Tsurezure Children: Episode 2
D’Awww! Still sweet! I’m loving these vignettes! Lots of characters – and many more, I hear. I’ve buckled up for the ride.

Mahoujin Guru Guru: Episode 1
Even though I’d received a heads up from Random Curiosity, I still went into this series thinking it was going to be just a silly kids’ show. One really can’t help it given the art, character design, and animation. But it turns out the writing is closer to Dragon Half than anything else. This show is pretty funny! Lots of great in-jokes… I especially liked Kukuri’s failed spell circles that included the Laughing Man from Ghost in the Shell. I wouldn’t have guessed this show would make it to my watchlist – but there it is!

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations: Episode 15
Wrap up episode basically, “What do we do about Sumire?” But this being Naruto, foes become friends. I’d expect no less. At least we got a bit of action with another training exercise. Nice to see the new generation of Ino-Shika-Cho. New ED with new characters hints at the next story arc.

Ikemen Sengoku: Toki wo Kakeru ga Koi wa Hajimaranai: Episode 1
The good news is that I suffered for only the 3:30 duration of the episode. The bad news is that this was a stupid, faux-history farce rendered with CGI. Dropped. Immediately.

Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart (Nora, Princess, and Stray Cat): Episode 1
The character designs aren’t too bad, and the episodes are only 3:30. The skippable introduction and OP song consume an entire minute. Those are the best qualities of the series. The animation is minimal, and the script isn’t good. Move along.

Hajimete no Gal: Episode 1
Ugh. I’m not sure how I even made it to the 10-minute mark of the 24-minute episode. Crass. Sexist. This was painful all the way. Rejected!

Yōkoso Jitsuryoku Shijō Shugi no Kyōshitsu e (Classroom of the Elite): Episode 1
OK. That was pretty impressive. I waited all episode for the gotcha, and it hit hard at the end. Assuming the writing keeps up, this should be an excellent series.

Musekinin Galaxy☆Tylor (The Irresponsible Galaxy Tylor): Episode 1
A short format (3:30 episode duration) spinoff from the well-known Musekinin Kanchō Tylor (The Irresponsible Captain Tylor) – that is nothing like the original. Maybe Azalyn is the same character (although she looks a lot different), but it’s a new Tylor and Yamamoto – cheap and unrelated knockoffs of the original. (Really? A robot?) Setup, art, character design, voices, and dialog were all terrible. Pass.

Gamers!: Episode 1
Sitcom about gamers in high school. Might be average. Might be special. Who can tell? It’s not quite boring and not quite interesting – but this is just the introductory episode. I like Karen Tendō but can’t figure out Keita Amano. I’ll probably go with at least a three-episode trial.

Konbini Kareshi (Convenience Store Boy Friends): Episode 2
I just wanted to shake both of the guys. But at least they finally made the tiniest steps towards their respective crushes. C’mon, guys! Get a clue!

Jigoku Shōjo Yoi no Togi (Hell Girl: The Fourth Twilight): Episode 1
This is the fourth season of Jigoku Shōjo. I’ve watched the first season… I own the first two seasons on DVD… I never bought the third season because it was much more expensive. This is unquestionably a dark, dark series – but like many horror anthologies, it can be hard to look away. This fourth season is going to be six new episodes and six recycled episodes. The first episode was certainly one of the new ones as Enma Ai’s full suite of companions was present. This episode was just as dark as always – and the production values were consistent with previous seasons, so I was not disappointed. Keeper.

Hina Logi – from Luck and Logic: Episode 4
This week was of a throwback to the early days of mahou shoujo when magical girls used their powers to solve everyday problems instead of battling enemies. Very fuwa fuwa, very slice-of-life. As I said last week, “Harmless.”

Boku no Hero Academia: Episode 28
Good coaching from Gran Torino… contrasted to interesting conflicts between different factions of villains… and vignettes from the other internships. Lots happening all around, and everything is coming to a head in Hosu City. Plenty of action to watch, coming up.

Centaur no Nayami (a.k.a. A Centaur’s Life): Episode 2
This is cruising along like a slice-of-life show… but it’s just enough different to be intriguing. The first story that centered around Nozomi wasn’t particularly great, and the pressure from Mitsuyo was nearly bullying. But across the entire episode we got a peek into the Mitsuyo x Inukai pair, and I always like to see couples. The second story was more interesting as we got to see another race - the waterfolk. Their school has military guards – the worldbuilding here is fascinating. I also like Hime’s hair tied up. I didn’t expect that attention to detail. Plus we met an adorable couple – Koma and Shizuura. I want to know more!

Knight’s & Magic: Episode 3
I’m glad they sped through the development of the new mecha. After all, we know that Ernesti is just going to blow through all the engineering challenges. Let’s move on to the action scenes! And as I’d expect, there’s a (currently secret) faction in opposition. Gotta have political intrigue to add to the drama. Anyway, this breezy episode was fun.

Manami is still my favorite
Manami Mitama
Centaur no Nayami, Episode 2

Oregon Country Fair: Photography

Jul. 12th, 2017 08:16 pm
lovelyangel: (Mamimi Camera 2)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
2017 Oregon Country Fair
2017 Oregon Country Fair
Veneta, Oregon • Friday, July 7, 2017
AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E • ISO 100 • f/1.4 • 1/180s

Note: This is the photography retrospective. For my notes on the fair itself, refer to these earlier posts
Last year I decided that my 85mm f/1.4D had a slight edge over my 58mm f/1.4G – for OCF photography, anyway. Since that time I’ve retired the 85mm f/1.4D in favor of a new 105mm f/1.4E. I mounted the 105mm lens on my D810 (302, if you’re keeping track). In my bag I carried the 58 just in case I felt like the 105 was too long. Across two days I never once thought about swapping the 105 for the 58. The 105 did everything I asked of it. Focus was fast and sure – even under difficult circumstances, such as high-energy dancing at the Drum Tower. I was pleased with how the 105 renders images, and I’m not missing the venerable 85mm lens.

2017 Oregon Country Fair
Drum Tower • 2017 Oregon Country Fair
Friday, July 7, 2017
AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E • ISO 64 • f/1.4 • 1/250s

In my previous posts, I noted that Friday was a terrible photography day. Lots of bad timing. Lots of wrong ISO settings. A shorter day with a smaller than usual number of opportunities. I shot nearly 400 photos – but deduct about 80 for a single failed subject – and the number was more like 320. That’s the lowest number of photos for a Friday since 2008, when I was just starting out.

Saturday, with a more relaxed morning – and the new strategy of removing the neutral density filter – I was more productive with about 630 photos. Saturday’s photos were better in general. I selected 100 photos for the 2017 Oregon Country Fair Gallery, and the split was 25% Friday, 75% Saturday. I’m going to use the stay out of bright sunlight approach going forward. I liked the results.

Saturday, July 8, 2017
AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E • ISO 64 • f/1.4 • 1/2000s

Saturday, July 8, 2017
AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E • ISO 400 • f/1.4 • 1/350s

Next year I plan to leave the 58mm lens and the 8X ND filter at home.

The 105mm lens is one of my heaviest lenses – and weighs nearly a pound more than the 85mm f/1.4D. The weight of the D810/105mm combo is quite noticeable when first picked up… but I don’t really notice the weight in operation. Maybe just once or twice during the fair I momentarily noticed the weight, but I adjusted how I was carrying the camera, and the moments passed quickly. Probably I’m getting away with this big setup because I’m still healthy. If I had joint or muscle pain, I wouldn’t be able to handle the rig.

Saturday, July 8, 2017
AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E • ISO 400 • f/1.4 • 1/4000s

Saturday, July 8, 2017
AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4E • ISO 400 • f/1.4 • 1/1500s

In spite of all the missteps on Friday, I still got a few really nice photos that day. I always say that if I can come away from OCF with one or two photos good enough for my annual calendar, I’d be happy. Overall, I’m actually quite happy with the photos this year. The 105 was awesome, and there was some dramatic lighting I was able to capture. 100 photos is on the low side for a two-day event, but I thought the level of quality was better than most years at OCF. I’m pleased.

Link: 2017 Oregon Country Fair Gallery

Oregon Country Fair: Day 2, Saturday

Jul. 11th, 2017 08:45 pm
lovelyangel: Haruhi Suzumiya - cover illustration for God Knows CD (Haruhi StageSmile)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
2017 Oregon Country Fair
2017 Oregon Country Fair
Veneta, Oregon • Saturday, July 8, 2017

I slept well – even slept in a little – but by 5:30 I was out of bed getting ready for the day. Knowing that Debbie had set an alarm for 7:00 am, I slipped out of the room and went to the hotel lobby, where I could eat my cold pizza breakfast and read news on the internet without disturbing my roommate. At 7 am I returned to the room, where Debbie was awake and getting ready.

We checked out of the hotel around 9:20 am and were in the line for the buses at 9:40 am. The line was much, much shorter but still extended beyond the covered standing area. By 10:20 am we were on our way to the fairgrounds – and arrived at 11 am – opening time. Perfect!

I started out on Strawberry Lane – my usual route on Saturday when we’re in the fair before the crowds hit. The difference between arriving at 11 am and 1 pm was substantial. It was actually peaceful on the paths; there were areas with no people at all. I was relaxed. I also decided to be more low-key about photography and keep expectations low. There’s no point in trying to force anything.

From Strawberry Lane I continued onto Shady Lane and followed the river. Such a nice morning! At the end of Shady Lane was Ark Park, where I again ran into an ex-co-worker, D.J. We had a nice little chat. I then continued to follow the loop through Abbey Rode to the Main Stage and then down East 13th.

I had a new strategy for photography. Instead of keeping the X8 neutral density filter on the lens, I went without a filter. I wouldn’t be able to take photos in bright sunlight – but then my best photos are never in full sunlight. At worst case I could close down the aperture. Removing the ND filter meant I’d stick to the areas with shadows – and also that I wouldn’t have to deal with the wide extremes of lighting. And that meant I wouldn’t have to constantly make wide swings of ISO – hopefully reducing the chance the camera settings would be badly skewed. The approach seemed to be effective.

Continuing down East 13th I found myself in Energy Park, where I ended up talking with an ex-newspaper photographer, Robin, who was sporting a Nikon D810 with a 24-70mm zoom lens. We talked a lot about photography as a business (he’s doing stock photos now) and also the old days of film. OCF is filled with fun encounters such as these.

At 1 pm I stopped at the nearby Springfield Creamery stand and again got ice cream for lunch. I went back to Kesey Stage in Energy Park to sit and listen to music while eating lunch.

After lunch I continued the walk down East 13th. It was 1:20 pm, and the path was getting crowded. From here on out I would stay away from East 13th (too crowded), Xavanadu (too sunny), and Chela Mela Meadow (too sunny). So… Strawberry Lane, Shady Lane, Community Village, and Abbey Rode.

Leaving East 13th I took Shaw’s Elysée to go back to Strawberry Lane. I peeked in at Youth Stage and saw a cello. Then another. Then another… five cellos. I love cellos. It turned out that Rockstop Cello Ensemble was setting up for their 1:30 performance. I could not resist. I stayed for the performance – and took a bunch of pictures. Very cool.

Rockstop Cello Ensemble
Rockstop Cello Ensemble
2017 Oregon Country Fair
Veneta, Oregon • Saturday, July 8, 2017

The rest of the afternoon was straightforward. The day was slightly warmer, and the crowds were thicker. But I still had a great time. At our 4:30 pm rendezvous time I met Debbie at Wally’s Way.

Debbie, however, had lost a 24-year-old ring, so we retraced some steps at Xavanadu and checked in with a couple of lost and found stations. No luck, unfortunately. The extra activity put us about 20 minutes behind our planned schedule – and the line for the bus had gotten very long, extending a fair ways into the field by Will Call. Good thing we weren’t any later, though – the bus line got longer and longer until it was literally out-of-sight – and that was at 5:15 pm. Our wait was long… then all of a sudden a series of buses came – so the net wait from bus line to VRC was only 80 minutes – our average. We got to VRC at 6:10 pm.

The drive north was uneventful. At 7 pm we stopped at the Burgerville in Albany for dinner. And we were back in Beaverton around 8:50 pm. Another successful OCF vacation was over (except for the unpacking and photo post-processing).

Link: 2017 Oregon Country Fair Gallery

Oregon Country Fair: Day 1, Friday

Jul. 11th, 2017 08:41 pm
lovelyangel: (Dancing Angel)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
At the Drum Tower
At the Drum Tower
2017 Oregon Country Fair
Veneta, Oregon • Friday, July 7, 2017

This year Jenni decided to stay home – so it was just Debbie and me on our 12th annual trip to the Oregon Country Fair. I think I’ve got the drill down. My packing list is highly refined. Debbie asked what time she needed to show up at my house. I said 8 am is fine. It’s not my preferred time, but it’s the time we always use. She wanted to know that time I preferred, and I said 7:30 am. Debbie said she’d try to be at my house then.

And so it was that Debbie arrived shortly after 8:00 am. While she apologized profusely, I simply waved her off. In all the years that we’ve gone to the fair, we’ve never left before 8 am. Sometimes it was after 8:30 am. Neither Debbie nor Jenni are early morning people. I’d be stunned if we ever left before 8 am.

After stopping to pick up tea for Debbie, we were on the road by 8:30 am – and again we were in Eugene at 10:20 am. It’s like clockwork. And while we were in the line for the bus at 10:40 am, the big difference this year is that the line was crazy long – double the normal length of the line outside of the tent. Last year we boarded the bus at 11:30 am. This year we didn’t board until 12:05. The bus didn’t leave until 12:10, and we didn’t arrive at OCF until 1:00 pm – about 30 minutes worse than last year’s schedule. That gave us four hours until our standard 5:00 pm meetup – less when you count 10 minutes to pick up our three-day pass wristbands.

I guess four hours seemed tight, and I probably felt a bit rushed. I didn’t settle into a good rhythm nor mental space, and my photography suffered. It was one of those photography days were I couldn’t catch a break – missing intimate moments by a mile or a minute. And it seemed like I always had the camera on the wrong setting.

The worst moment was when I was walking away from the Main Stage, and I was looking down, trying to avoid stepping on people’s blankets. Too late I looked up to see the perfect image – two stunning young ladies under perfect light studying an image on a cellphone. It was one of those gorgeous scenes I happen upon once every five or six years. When I looked up, I was too close – almost upon them. I tried to back up immediately, but they saw me and broke apart. The dreamy image was gone. It was much like the kiss image I lost many years ago. My heart was broken, and my photography spirit fell even lower.

I had an opportunity to make up for that loss with another photo opportunity. And I took a high number of photos of the young girl with her violin. Unfortunately, my camera was again on horrible settings – forcing shutter speed down to a pathetic 1/45s – about 1/3 the minimum speed for the 105mm lens I was using – so all the photos turned out blurry. I didn’t find that out until the scene had passed. Amy no baka! I was lucky to salvage a photo that was less blurry than the rest, although I had lost some beautiful expressions in the other pictures.

Outside of photography, the day was fine. I had my standard “lunch” of Springfield Creamery organic vanilla ice cream topped with organic strawberries. I had a nice chat with Egan and his staff at the Artofactory booth – and bought another pendant. I saw some excellent art and heard good music. As always, there was an abundance of good energy. And the weather was perfect – sunny with a high around 77°F.

Somehow four hours didn’t seem long enough – while at the same time it felt too long. I met up with Debbie at the appointed time, and we went to the bus stop. From rendezvous to bus boarding to arrival at Valley River Center was 90 minutes – about the same as always. This year we went directly from the VRC parking lot to Abby’s Pizza. We were hungry!

The pizza was yummy, as always. After dinner we drove back to VRC and checked into our hotel. Between copying files to the computer, taking a shower, and catching up on news, the evening was spent, and we collapsed into bed around 10 pm.

Link: 2017 Oregon Country Fair Gallery

Anime Summer Week 1

Jul. 9th, 2017 09:05 pm
lovelyangel: (Horizon OP)
[personal profile] lovelyangel
Ernesti Echevarria
A Programmer’s Dilemma
Ernesti Echevarria
Knight’s & Magic, Episode 2

At the beginning of each anime season, I try to sample all the new shows (excluding sequels of series I haven’t watched) at Crunchyroll. Here are the shows from this season that I watched last week…

Yōkai Apāto no Yūga na Nichijō (Elegant Yokai Apartment Life): Episode 1
This has all the makings of an ordinary “sitcom.” Production values are mediocre. Script is so-so. Characters are 2-D. Brightest spot is supporting character Akine Kuga (voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro, always a favorite) – but even she isn’t all that interesting. I’ll probably give this show a three-episode trial. It wouldn’t take much – including a full schedule – for me to drop this one.

Isekai Shokudō (Restaurant to Another World): Episode 1
I wish Silver Link had put higher production values into the art, animation, and direction… but the show itself has very likeable characters and a fun premise, and the series is an immediate add to my watchlist. I enjoyed the introductory episode quie a bit.

Aho Girl: Episode 1
I’m really conflicted about this one. It’s a comedy – but the show isn’t funny at all. Actually the show is more mean than anything else. I guess it’s a comedy of miscommunications, misconnections, and misunderstandings. And it’s crude and, as per the title, pretty stupid. My first reaction is to drop the series. But on the other hand, this 12-minute episode was better-directed, better-animated, better-acted than the other premieres so far. Dunno. I’ll probably give it another shot, anyway.

Tsurezure Children: Episode 1
Omigosh! Four romantic confessions in a 12-minute episode! And so nicely done! Sign me up!

Nana Maru San Batsu (7O3X)(Fastest Finger First): Episode 1
I don’t think this is my kind of show. I’m not generally big on sports shows, and this one seems particularly esoteric – making the outcomes of competition matches likely rather arbitrary. Also, the main characters are a bit too awkward. I especially did not care for the weak main character Koshiyama. I don’t feel interested enough to even proceed with a three-episode trial.

Konbini Kareshi (Convenience Store Boy Friends): Episode 1
Well… the art and animation aren’t all that great – it seems a lot was contracted out – but with the number of potential couples in this series, a romantic like me isn’t going to pass on this unless the writing gets really bad. The show has a slice-of-life pace and attitude, so things might not develop quickly, but the first episode got things rolling quite decently. I’ll probably keep this one for the season; it gets at minimum a three-episode trial.

18if: Episode 1
I hope Gonzo isn’t betting all their chips on this, because 18if looks pretty weak. Mediocre art, uninspired surrealism, dull script. I doubt I’ll follow this show – unless there’s dead space in my schedule for filler.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations: Episode 14
As expected, there was a nice battle scene… then Boruto talked Sumire off her father’s path. Boruto is more like his father than he would care to admit. This episode resolves the conflict, but it looks like next week we’ll deal with any fallout. As a story arc, this one was a decent start for the new series.

Hina Logi – from Luck and Logic: Episodes 1-3
Somehow I missed the premiere last week of the first two episodes. This is a rather simple and cute magical girl show that is a multimedia project – so purely commercial. The characters are close to stock with minor but refreshing variants. Like the heroine Lion has a nasty, untamed side… and the severe top student rich girl is actually the voice of reason at times. Dogakobo is an expert at cute girl productions, so the art and animation are quite nice. While the first two episodes were OK, the third episode was pretty bad. I’m hoping that one episode was an anomaly. For now I’m rating the show as harmless, and I’ll keep it on the watchlist unless the show falls apart.

Boku no Hero Academia: Episode 27
Gran Torino is one of those classic old sage tropes – a mix of wisdom, skill and a touch of clumsy senility – but he’s fun to watch. Nice to see how everyone’s internships are playing out. This episode moved quickly and also gave Izuku another needed step towards controlling his quirk. With the new season comes new OP and ED songs & animation. The ED story is pretty cute.

Centaur no Nayami (a.k.a. A Centaur’s Life): Episode 1
I have to confess, this show surprised me. Random Curiosity set low expectations… and also the series is produced by one of my least favorite studios, Haoliners. But the characters are sweet, and the animation was decently done. I even liked the ED song and animation, which put a spotlight on Manami, the committee chairman.

Knight’s & Magic: Episode 2
Conclusion of the first battle. Sure, Ernesti is ridiculously overpowered, but I still like watching that sort of thing. Escapism is fine. The fight against this arc’s big bad was crazy but fun.

Jikan no Shehaisha (Chronos Ruler): Episode 1
Although the opening scene seemed promising, it appears much of the show’s budget went there, and the rest of the animation was stiff and simple. Heck… they even resorted to pans of static illustrations. The whole thing was badly written and acted as well. (Jun Fukuyama is one of the seiyuu – but even he can’t save a bad script.)

Hime’s Class
Hime’s Class
Centaur no Nayami, Episode 1

Side note: The second cour of season two of Nobunaga no Shinobi started last week, and there’s a new OP song. (None can ever match the goodness of the original OP song, however.)
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