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Eli OP

Shin Chan - Muchacho
Guysguysguys, I had a running buddy yesterday!  I was excited!  I haven't had a running buddy since... since... ever!  Kinda when I did cross country in high school, but I wasn't actually a runner then so it doesn't count.

His name was Lars.  He's younger than I, but I'm really bad at ages so we'll leave it at that.  I first saw him at the top of The Wall, but he was coming from the Direct Course so I didn't pay him much mind.  Other runners tend to be slower than I am.  Which sounds like bragging... and it should!  I am magnificent!  But seriously: most of the runners I encounter are running in the opposite direction or take a different path after I pass them.  I figure the faster runners are evening runners.  I think people tend to prefer running in the evening?  I strongly prefer morning running.  But I digress.  I saw Lars at the top of The Wall, but continued on my course.  I could hear him behind me and was waiting for him to pass, but he was running at about the same speed.  After [triple-digit] meters he pulled up alongside me and asked where I was headed.  It told him the castle ruins, and he asked if he could come along.  Of course!  He was wearing fancier shorts and one of those serious-athlete jerseys with the lower-back pockets, so I figured he could hang.  He didn't have any water, but I've heard of people who don't use any for <10k runs, so I figured he was just more hardcore than I.  We made good time.  It turns out I'm more fit than he, so I ended up setting the pace.  We walked for a bit during the Beilstein Approach since I started rattling and am not foolish enough to run through it.  Ah, I wasn't actually rattling though.  That's just what I call it.  I'm sure there's an actual term for the sensation, but it feels like there would be something rattling if I were a proper machine so that's why I call it rattling.  We talked sporadically during the run.  Lars was recovering from an injury a few months back, and I was coming of semester lazy-times, so neither of us are at the top of our game.  He cycles around the mountains, so he's familiar with a lot of the trails.  He also reminded me of a word: Leichtathletik.  Wikipedia translates it simply to "athletics."  It's an umbrella term for all sports based around running, jumping, and throwing.  Like, track and field and stuff.  I need to remember it for when I talk to people.  I shared my water, because runners are nice people :D  I usually only drink half a bottle during the Beilstein Course anyway.  Lars was pushing it to keep up with me.  When we split at the end he had unzipped his jersey and was quite red.  I may not have looked much better, but it's not like I can see my face when I run so I guess we'll never know~~  Having a running buddy was fun, though I don't know if Lars would be up for another run with me anytime soon.  He probably thought I was less fit than I turned out to be, which is understandable.  My clothes say "dude who decided to go running" and my gait is non-standard, so I don't usually look like the lunatic I am.  Y'know, unless it's totally raining or I'm in the woods 7k from the nearest town.  I don't see any people way out in the woods though.  The occasional dog-walker, maybe, but they cheated and drove there.


Often visits Don Cheadle's Wikipedia page

Shin Chan - Muchacho
I was clicking around the Internet earlier, and apparently there's a thing going on?  Some "The Day We Fight Back" stuff.  About wanting to end Internet surveillance by government types.  I... don't really get it.  I know people have been cross with the NSA recently, but I'm not sure why I should care about them watching me?  It's not like they're Anonymous or identity thieves looking to steal all fifty of my dollars.  For that matter, it's not like anyone is actually reading the information they harvest.  Even if they were, spending two hours reading about cryptids then looking at magnesium prices on Alfa Aesar doesn't make for very enthralling reading.  And my Facebook messages!
"Can you dogsit for me this weekend?"
I'm serious.  That's what the majority of my messages are.  I dunno, maybe it's just my normal shamelessness, but I can't really bring myself to care about a government watching me since it's not like a I live in an evil communist dictatorship or do/plan anything seriously illegal/malevolent.  Besides, my ISP already knows about all the sites I visit  :x


Shin Chan - Muchacho
Oh, er... Happy New Year!  I know, I know, super late, but I've been away dog sitting all week -_-;  Anyway, I'm always excited around New Year's.  "Understandable," you may be thinking, "seeing as how New Year's is one of the few holidays celebrated with EXPLOSIONS."  True, but that's not the reason.  I haven't even shot off fireworks in years.  They're just... so expensive!  I'm pretty sure I could make them for cheaper.  Except that's probably illegal.  Manufacturing explosives?  Yeah, probably illegal.  Also, I'd never hear the end of it from my mom.  She seems to think I have savant syndrome or something.  She'll freely accept that I can convert liters to tablespoons in my head, but somehow thinks I don't have enough presence of mind to not blow my arm off.  Seriously guys, it's been over a decade since I exploded something accidentally.  Besides, that ashtray totally should have been able to handle the heat of a toothpick-and-paper-towel fire.  She probably just bought a shoddy ashtray.  Too many air bubbles in the glass or something.

But anyway, complaining about my mom isn't what has me excited.  I'm excited about...

Yeah!  Steam engines!  I wanted trains or raptors this year, so I'm glad I found this one.  Since it's steam engines, that still leaves a slot open for modern trains in a future year.  Maybe next year, but we'll have to see what gets printed.  This is what it looks like inside:
I really like this style of calendar, with a large picture on top and grid of days on the bottom.  My last calendar made better use of the space, but this one has Sundays in red and lists all the holidays (it has Australia Day, even though this is clearly marketed towards Europe) so that's okay.  It also lists the days of the week in Dutch, so just looking at my calendar is fun.  Ahhh, I should learn Dutch.  Later.  It's not that useful since most Dutch people speak German and/or English, and even if they don't, Dutch is similar enough to the languages I know that I can figure it out.  I should at least learn the pronunciation though, since my current technique of "pretend you have a stuffy nose" is probably offensive :3  Nah, the Dutch are cool, I doubt they mind.

Oh, this even came with a bonus:
Aw yeah, steam train for next year.


Shin Chan - Muchacho
I recently got into the works of H.P. Lovecraft.  I figured I'd start reading them eventually, but then I learned that he lived a waaaaay long time ago, so all his works are in the public domain!  Well, the European public domain; I hear matters are a bit grayer in the US.  I quite enjoy his work.  I suppose it would be considered a bit boring by today's standard, but I like the passive narrators and the way the stories aren't about good vs evil.  Sure, the horror of the story is trying to eat dudes, but not out of malevolence.  It just wants to eat everything and humans are, conveniently, made of meat.  I also like that Lovecraft wrote primarily short stories.  Novels are appealing, but sometimes I just want something that can be read in one sitting.  An actual sitting, not  a12-hour reading binge.

I know I mentioned reading Lovecraft's stories, but I've actually been mostly listening to audio books.  I was never really into audio books since it's faster just to read it myself, but audio books are actually quite good for when I'm doing something monotonous such as cleaning.  I've primarily been listening to Youtube rips of an audio book that probably shouldn't be on Youtube, but y'know, whatever.  The reader's voice really fits the mood of Lovecraft's stories and he does a good job reading, so much so that I've actually become excited about cleaning since I means I get to listen to more audio books.  Aside from the Youtube rips, I also listen to some Librivox recordings, but those are a little more hit-and-miss, much like the random recordings Google finds for me.  I should find some audio books of proper novels though, since Lovecraft wrote a finite amount of stuff and I'm starting to run out.  I suppose I could start looking into Derleth's work, but at that point I might as well just check out fan works.  Sure, Derleth's work is legitimate, but I hear he expanded the mythology by including the endless struggle  of good vs evil, which is generally kind of bleh.  In Lovecraft's stories, it is often mentioned that the cosmic entities are so alien as to have an incomprehensible morality.  They're not (all) evil, just so different humans can't really understand them.

So far, my favorite story is At the Mountains of Madness.  It wasn't what I was expecting from a story with that title, and also developed in a way I didn't expect.


Blast of Cleverness

Shin Chan - Muchacho
Uni has started.  Bleh.  But more on that later (4realz, I'm 75% done with that post already); this post is about how I've been feeling exceptionally clever in the past 48 hours.

So: my mom is vacation, which means I have to take care of the animals.  I could split the jobs with my dad, but it's easier to just do it myself.  I mostly take care of the cats anyway, so it only really means adding the dog.  Like, okay, I have a dogsitting job, I can do this.  I don't really want to, but I can do this.  It was fine last-last week, but got a little annoying last week since I have to squeeze walks into my schedule before class.  I could just let Faylin out in the yard in the morning, but she doesn't always want to come in and doesn't respond well to commands so that's risky.  At least, it was risky.  Cleverness #1: I started using carrot butts as bribes dog treats.  I've been eating a lot of carrots lately (seriously, have carrots always been this tasty?), and feeding the ends to the dog saves from having to throw them away.  They've also proven to be more effective than actual dog treats.  I don't know if it's because they're bigger so they're easier to see in my hand or if Faylin just prefers them, but I'm not complaining.

Faylin, like most(?) domestic dogs, gets lonely or whatever.  So she barks at dumb things while inside.  It's particularly annoying in the morning.  I'm sure the neighbors don't appreciate her barking at 0600 when she hears me get up to use the bathroom, and I sure don't appreciate her barking early on the weekend.  So I had an idea!  Cleverness #2: I'd let her sleep in my room.  I know, I know, "Eli, why don't you just let her sleep in your room anyway?"  I don't want my room to smell like dog :(  And since my bed is just a mattress on the floor, I really don't want my bed smelling like dog.  But I thought I'd risk it.  Turns out I don't have to: Faylin really,  really doesn't want to go up the extra flight of stairs to get to my room.  Which is kind of weird since we haven't established the third floor as a Forbidden Zone.  Ah well.  Bonus: my mom wants to move up to the third floor next year, but she may have to rethink that plan if her BFF isn't on board :D

One of the cats has been pooping in Ma's bathtub.  Gross, I know.  And it's a recent development!  I don't know why she decided litterboxes were suddenly only for urine, but Sophie seems to prefer pooptubs now.  And I know it's Sophie doing it because I SCIENCED.  At least, Sophie is for sure doing it.  Someone else might be too.  We have a lot of cats, but I stopped after figuring out it was Sophie.  Cleverness #3: I decided to put Sophie out during the day, so that way I only have to maybe clean poop in the morning.  Except... Sophie doesn't want to go outside anymore.  She used to always want to go outside, but now she just complains.  I guess because there aren't any bathtubs out there.  I tried Stay-Off spray and chili powder, but those only worked temporarily.  Until... Cleverness #4: Fill the tub with water.  Well, not fill-fill, but like 5cm?  That's above kitty ankles.  I'm hoping that works and Sophie stops being gross or we'll have to get rid of her.  Isolating her from the other cats might work, but we don't have space for it since we already have Balthazar in isolation and can't put Sophie in with him because she doesn't really like him.


uni uni uni uni rockin' errywher

Shin Chan - Muchacho
The semester started... in mid-April! I've been such a bum about updating, but oh well. I figure I'll write for half an hour and what you get is what you get until I get around to part two or whatever. Wooo!

My schedule is pretty okay:
Monday: Inorganic Chemistry 1000-1130, Physical Chemistry practice 1145-1230
Tuesday: Organic Chemistry 0815-0900, Math 1000-1130
Wednesday: Physical Chemistry 0810-0940, Math 1000-1130
Thursday: Physical Chemistry 0810-0855, Organic Chemistry practice 0900-0945
Friday: Organic Chemistry 0815-0945

I also had Lab every day from 1300 until "1830". You simply left after completing whatever task you were working on that day, but the lab closed at 1830. Lab stories will be its own post. Lab only lasted six weeks.

One of the nice things about study Chemistry here is that attendance isn't mandatory. There's no real homework (your grade in each class is determined by your score on the final exam), but doing the homework can earn you up to three free points on the exam. In Math you earn the points by doing exercises in class, in OC and PC you get points by solving the exercises before class and solving them on the board, and in IC you complete and turn in a whole exercise sheet to get a point. You don't have to get the answers right in IC (I seriously doubt anyone wants to read the same answers 100+ times), just show that you actually worked on it.

There's not really much to say, in general. The lectures are not particularly exciting. I sit in the front, since people like to talk during lectures. Ugh. There are parties, like, every other weekend on campus, but that's not my kind of thing. There was a gaming "convention" during one weekend, but I was sick. Ugh. I even went through the hassle of building a Commander deck. Oh well, there is supposed to be another con around November I think.

And my thirty minutes is up ^o^


The Best Biscuits

Shin Chan - Muchacho
rafira and I did a cultural confectionery exchange... last year.  Man, I'm such a slacker.  I was waiting until I had tried everything to make my post, but then I got distracted by Dishonored* and my move up to the third floor.


Starting from the black bag on the top right and moving clockwise:
The black bag - Oh geez, I can't even read what the bag says.  Luscious Licorice?  That sounds right.  And accurate!  These were little licorice logs that were covered in chocolate.  Delicious.
A row of cranes - They hang from the top.  I'm not too keen on decorations and knicknacks, but this is pretty nice.  Probably not too tasty though.  Colored paper doesn't taste as good as plain paper (omgracist).
Tangy candies - They're tangy.  Also, I think Australians refer to this kind of candy as lollies?  Which had me confused at first, since I was thinking lollies = lollipops.
Macadamia Royals - are macadamia nuts covered in toffee, then covered in chocolate.  They were pretty great.  Hard to chew though, since the toffee would stick to my teeth.
Perth Sticker - Oh!  Stickers are good too.  I'll probably end up putting it on my Magic card box that has other stickers on it.  Then people will be like "Oh, you've been to Perth?" and I'll be like "Ew, no" :p
Arnott's Iced VoVo - They're cookies biscuits with strawberry icing and coconut flakes.  Pretty good.  Kind of messy, but worth it.
Arnott's TimTam Double Coat - GUYS.  YOU GUYS.  THESE ARE THE BEST BISCUITS.  As a baker, I'm usually not that keen on store-bought cookies, but these are seriously delicious.  Maybe I will visit Australia some day...
Biltong - It's a super-dried beef(?) jerky.  It smells the way some dog treats smell.  I guess that would be a turn off to some people, but that made me 100% interested in trying it.  It tastes like the smell of dog treats, but that only becomes relevant if you try to eat a bunch at once.
Roc Candy - Fun fact: I never had roc candy before this.  Which is too bad, since it was pretty good.  The flavor would change from piece to piece, so each one was like a mini-lottery.
Caramel Coated Nuts - What is says on the bag.  They were also good.  It turns out Karina has good taste in treats.
Vegemite - I requested this, since everyone says it's nasty but that seems unlikely.  Turns out... everyone was right.  Seriously you guys, Vegemite tastes like a punishment game D:
Nutella - This was amusing, since Nutella is quite popular in Germany.  I've never seen such tiny jars though!  Maybe they have them in little corner stores?  It's pretty cute.
[somethingsomething] Milk Chocolate - So... uh... I can't really read this label.  It was milk chocolate!  Chocolate is great.  This was too.

*Dishonored is quite fun!  I was excited when it was first announced, then less excited when the promotional material made it seem as if it contained silly amounts of blood, then back to excited once I stared playing.  It doesn't have that much blood, but maybe that's just because I typically don't kill many enemy guards in stealth games.  Sure, the target is a super-jerk, but the mooks are just doing their jobs!  I don't know about you guys, but I would rather work for the corrupt government than end up moving to the slums and getting whatever plague happens to be ravaging the city.

These were my classmates

Shin Chan - Muchacho
I said I'd put a picture of them up, right? I think so. But man oh man, I've already started to forget people's names D: Sorry, no room for you guys, I gotta cram Magic cards in here.

Back row, left to right; front row, left to right. Random little tidbits included, free of charge!

Amir - I guess he's not particularly photogenic or something, because he's quite charming in real life.
Moab - The girls tell me he's nice looking?
Adis - Even after listening to him for 12 weeks, he still sounds like a villain XD Woo, Bosnia!
Herbert - Likes it when I teach him American slang
Ilias - Unlike all the rest of the dudes in my class, he's currently slated to be in the S-course next semester.
Sarah - She's pregnant! Very pregnant, there's just people in the way here. She's going to miss next semester because her baby is due... in October? November, maybe?
Eli - I hear this guy has seven cats!
Naizabek - He likes classical music and classical literature. If we were in 'merica, the uncultured masses would likely label him as pretentious. He's still rather young, but I think he'll turn out good.
Nina - She has good eyes. And a good name. Her last name is Savchenko.
Carolina - I think she wants a world in which everyone is friends. She talks to everyone and tries to include everyone in group outings.
Licia - She was the best student in our class.  She also really likes beer.
Vanessa - So small! So adorable! I hope she has little gloves and boots during winter. I asked her if she shops in the children's section; she said she likes to, but feels embarrassed when she does.
Chichi (not pictured) - She split after the exam finished. I'm not sure why. Someone speculated that she feels a bit distanced from the rest of us because she's 30, but Amir is relatively old too and everybody likes him.
Foo (not pictured) - She looks like the kind of person who likes to go clubbing, but has a mustache (I think it's pretty neat!) and doesn't mutilate her eyebrows since they just hide behind her bangs.
Kama (not pictured) - She wants to be a diplomat (I think; some sort of politician), which seems odd since she's not particularly good at reading or dealing with people.

Addendum: hmm, looks like I'm the second smallest dude?  I just noticed.  I get the feeling I should be more concerned about my height?  Haha, yeah right.


Yearnin' for Learnin'

Shin Chan - Muchacho
It's totally September already, and I haven't been studying :D It's okay though: school doesn't start until 22 October. Sure, sure, that's a procrastinator's excuse, but I'm actually in the mood for studying now. I've been watching cartoons, playing video games (neither of which I really had time for during the semester), and getting my fitness back. It's not like I've been doing zero learning since school let out either: I've started learning Japanese! This probably isn't unexpected for someone with interests like mine, but the reasoning behind this endeavor runs a bit deeper than that.

I've been wanting to learn another language for a while now. Speaking one language superbly and another well is already above-average*, but... it's not enough. The problem then becomes: What language to learn? I imagine most people are interested in traveling or the culture of a foreign country, but I'm fine with Germany. There's plenty to do and learn here, so I see no need to spend a ton of money to go look at Indonesians or whatever. Aside from travel reasons, there are other languages which are good to know because a lot of people speak them. Things like Spanish and Russian are widely spoken in South America and Eastern Europe, respectively, while there are a whole lot of Chinese people and Indians. However! English is also a popular language, and I already speak that. One must also remember that, like all true gentlemen, I'm not all that impressed with conversation and avoid it when I can, so I won't be chatting with random people on the street or wherever one speaks to random people. That pretty much leaves Japanese. I don't plan on visiting Japan or foresee any other circumstance in which I would need to speak Japanese, but it would allow me to play more video games, read more comics, and watch more cartoons. No other foreign language offers such benefits, so Japanese it is :D

I've been doing fairly well with my Japanese. I'm using Pimsleur Japanese because it's what I have, and it seems to be going okay. The Pimsleur system involves one 30-minute lesson per day. It aims to teach "essential" Japanese. The exact phrases I'm learning don't follow the pattern I tend to see in foreign language books, but I guess the approach is geared more towards net results? I'm only halfway through level one, so I can't actually use my Japanese for anything yet. I do notice extra things in anime though, which is fun.  I've also noticed it's a lot easier this time around.  I toyed with learning Japanese years and years ago, but it was really hard for some reason.  I used Pimsleur then too, but nothing seemed to stick.  It's going much better this time.  Pimsleur is advertised as "Learn a new language in 30 days!" but it is going to take me at least twice as long since I need to do each lesson twice in order to be comfortable with the material.  I also skip some days (so bad, I know) since I do the lessons while washing dishes and some days there are no dishes and/or people in the kitchen.

*In my experiences, people tend to be rather bad at their native language (in regards to grammar and such), and their mastery in a second language would be best described as "two-years in high school."


or "How to Not Get Caught So Easily"

Shin Chan - Muchacho
While bouncing around the MTG sites I check, I came across this article. Last week, yeah, but I was hoping more information would present itself. Since it doesn't seem to be, I will forge ahead regardless :D Not that extra info is actually relevent to the angle of this post

To put it briefly, Tristan (the Editor-in-Chief at the time) is strongly suspected of stealing a bunch of cards, then selling them on eBay. If you're unfamiliar with trading card games, you may be thinking "Huht? Magic cards? Those sell for what, two bucks maybe?" Sometimes. No, your eyes don't decieve you, people really do pay $120 for four pieces of cardboard. Not most pieces of cardboard, but a $30 card isn't that uncommon. The evidence seems pretty damning, but I'm not here to play "Tristan is innocent/guilty." Instead, I will complain about the total lack of care Tristan seemed to take while pawning off his ill-gotten gains.

Magic cards, much like video games, are non-unique items that are often bought and sold en masse. While this may make eBay seem like the ideal place to unload Magic cards (since selling 4x Valuable Card does not, in itself, arouse suspicion), the way Tristan did it was entirely suboptimal. Seriously, just get a fence. It'll cut into profits, but having the goods be sold and shipped from somehere in Florida drasticly reduces the chances of discovery. But that's not all! Since Magic is a trading card game, one can simply bring some of the stolen cards to an event and trade them for other cards, effectively laundering the goods. This option works particularly well with a fence, since it may raise suspicion if Mr. Stealy suddenly shows up with many valuable cards. It would even work with a small-time, local fence. Have him launder the cards, then you can safely sell them from your main account. He would get a smaller cut than a distant fence, and you'd save on shipping!