Archive for April 2013

A Friendly Reminder: I have Four Other WordPress Blogs   Leave a comment

I am mindful that the majority of those who access this blog are either getting linked over from Facebook/Twitter/You Tube or are using a smartphone/tablet PC. I’ve decided to make the effort a few times a year to link you over in a blog post.

Before I go over the list, here’s how you can access them after this post from this page:

  • Smartphone/Tablet PC users should scroll down until they see a box that says “Older Posts”. Scroll past that and you will see my PayPal Button. scroll down a bit more and you will see “Blog Stats”. Directly below that you will see a series of links. The first four will take you to my other blogs. The 5th will take you to my forums (free to sign up and use by the way). The other two will take you to pages on this blog.
  • PC/Mac Users will see everything I described above except “Older Posts” on the left hand side of the screen. You know what to do.

Without further ado, here is the list of what the other four blogs are about. For the convenience of those currently reading this on a Smartphone/Tablet PC, I will link you over from here. Click the titles to go to each blog:

  • Aurabolt’s Anime: The blog is exclusively Anime and Manga from Japan and things related to them. After Anime Boston 2013 I will start to include Cartoons from America and other parts of the world, most notably Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.
  • Aurabolt’s Game Blog: On this blog I discuss video games past and present. From reviews to previews to hints and tips I cover a bit of everything. Starting with my next blog post I things that highlight what you can do with many game systems other than play games.
  • Aurabolt’s Fanfiction: Here I talk about stories inspired by other creations. I did a panel on Fanfiction at Anime Boston 2012 and am hoping to do it again for AB2013. I also discuss the Fanfiction I have written here so check it out if you’d like to see some of what I’ve done.
  • Aurabolt’s Fiction Press: This is where I discuss both non-fiction and and fictional work (not Fanfiction, which itself is a sub-genre of fiction) of my own creation. I am currently working on a few short stories and hope to have finished them all by the end of the yeasr.

Here’s hoping you will check out the blogs and follow them!

 

Boston Eight Days Later   Leave a comment

I want to open with this before I say anything else: Thanks for the extended coverage National/World Media but now that the manhunt is over and we know there will be a trial, you guys can leave now. There are more pressing things going on around the world you guys should be focusing on.

Except for those directly effected and the site of the bombings, the city’s back to business as usual and HAS been since last Tuesday. The first thing I said when I got home last Monday was “Back to work in the morning.” I’m not like the media outlets. I see no benefit in exploring conspiracy theories or spinning things to play to my audience. I just stick to what I know based on the known facts and give some insightful and oft-times informational anecdotes and commentary.

Collectively, EXCEPT those directly effected by the bombings and the Manhunt in Watertown we’ve already moved on. As I said in a blog I posted last week I look forward to eating at UNO’s @ Boylston St. again.

Speaking of which: Boston Police just announced moments ago Boylston St. will be open to the public starting TOMORROW. Spread the word!

Moving on from Education   Leave a comment

I originally drafted this on April 4 and after reviewing the three paragraphs I’d written so far, I’m glad I decided not publish it at the time.

One thing my trolling incident reminded me last week is at times, I overreact in situations where it isn’t warranted. At the same time, I underreact in siuations that warrant a much stronger reaction. The only grandfather I ever knew died two weeks ago. It didn’t even sink even though it’s been a week since he was buried in Trinidad. I felt absolutely nothing when I learned of his death even though he meant alot to me. That’s just speaking for my more recent personal struggles.

I know I’m known for long monlogues so I’ll give the short version:

When this school year started I lost much of my confidence in the classroom due to some things the happened with me the previous school year at another school. Those collective things (which I will not discuss in detail either here or in my longer explaination) were the reason I decided to leave that school community after one year. Going into this school year at the Mission Hill School gave me the fresh start I was in need of in the aftermath of the previous school year. If I had gone to MHS last year instead of this year I would have stayed on for longer than I did.

As I hinted at above several things happened last year that led to me leaving the school where I was after just a year. By the end of the first week of school this year I had made the decision to part ways with Boston Public Schools at the end of the school year. The little confidence I’d been able to muster was swept away by the end of that first week. I’d been working with children 11 years going into this is school year. For the first time since my time in City Year I found myself doubting mysellf and my ability to be productive in the classroom more times than I’m willing to admit. Not just that first week throughout the year. In every other area I was fine but once I stepped in the classroom I could literally feel the confidence in my skills shatter to pieces. I consider myself fortunate I not only realized it so early on but I was able to kept the cloud from ruining what was otherwise an opportunity of a lifetime.

The Mission Hill School is known to education communities all over the world. I have wish only continued success to the MHS community moving forward.

Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects Invoke “The Wrath of God”, Manhunt is OVER   Leave a comment

After nearly 24 hours, The Largest Manhunt in U.S. History ended yesterday in Watertown, MA with the death of one suspect and the arrest of the other.

Out of respect for the families of the four people who died (An MIT Officer was shot and killed, which sparked the manhunt Thursday night going into Friday morning) I will not use their names. Their names should be forgotten to history. I will instead refer to them as White Hat (Suspect #2) and Black Hat (Suspect #1), which is what Law Enforcement used to identify them with during the marathon manhunt yesterday. Since I’m sure all of you have been following this on the news youk now their names already and you also know that they are brothers.

I feel profound sadness and sympathy for the homeowner who first discovered White Hat on his property:

67 Franklin St., Watertown, MA

…Not the way I’d want to be remembered. His home is now the most famous–or rather IMfamous–address in Massachusetts. Moments after White Hat was arrested joke For Sale listings for the boat popped up on Craig’s List.

This man is America’s Police Commissioner:

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis

As soon as the bombings happened Monday I had no doubt that for him, the manhunt was personal. I can only assume his awe-inspiring leadership was why the FBI and even the U.S. Military stepped aside and allowed him to take point in the manhunt. Since I’m in a good place to do it I will contact the Boston FBI and BPD and request the number by agency and department of how many people were involved.

I can tell you right now I know the following organizations were involved:

Boston PD: Obviously, they had the largest presence and committed the lion’s share of the resources used during the manhunt.
Mass. State Police: Same as BPD prettymuch as the host state.
Mass. National Guard: They provided security in Boston immediately following the bombings. Said security was expanded to Cambridge and Watertown during the manhunt.
FBI: They’ve been there since Monday. Once they got confirmation the suspect at large was indeed Suspect #2 (not gonna say his name, it’s been said enough in the last 24 hours) they’ve been riding shotgun with the BPD and Watertown PD.
U.S. Military: Hanscom Air Force Base is about 50 miles west of Boston. As we saw yesterday Blackhawk Helicopters were brought into Watertown in the final hours of the manhunt.
Watertown PD: For almost 24 hours Watertown was under lockdown during the manhunt. Watertown PD, which knows the streets best helped officers, soldiers and agents navigate the city (Watertown is a CITY, not a town).
Cambridge PD: They were there when it hit the fan Thursday night.
MIT Police: No explaination needed.
Baltimore PD: We can thank the media for this one >.>;
Russian Security Agency: Same as above and investigators wanted to interview the Suspects’ parents.
Interpol: Apparently they put the brothers on the US’ Radar in 2009. Once their identities were released yesterday they put all member nations on notice.

And the following Departments provided additional manpower and resources during the manhunt:

Dedham
Chelsea
Revere
Belmont
Arlington
Waltham
Lexington
Brookline
Newton
Needham
Milton
Medford
Malden
Saugus
Woburn
Melrose
Saugus

Like I kept saying yesterday in this thread on MMO-Champion, the suspects invoked what I call The Wrath of God when the manhunt began on Monday. Knowing almost two dozen law enf0rcement agencies are combing Boston and later Watertown looking for you would make anyone feel lonely. I don’t doubt White Hat would love to do nothing more than what this guy got to do and hug his mother:

The above guy is a convict comforting his mother. Black Hat’s dead and White Hat can only wish he could do this.

Of course, these people will never again be able to do it either and it’s their names that should be remembered forever:

Krystie Campbell, Martin Richard and Ling Zi-Lu.

As far as I’m concerned, these were good people who died for nothing. 178 people were injured or maimed for no reason. Like the suspects’ uncle said yesterday White Hat and Black Hat are losers.

Westboro Baptist Church to Protest Marathon Boming Funerals, Anonymous vows swift retribution   Leave a comment

I got wind of this on The Huffington Post’s website two hours ago. I have since been spreading the word via social media as well as CNN’s iReport website. I will not say their name in full but I will refer to them as WBC. The C in that doesn’t even apply to them anymore on account officially they are no longer considered part of any religious  organization in the US. In the wake of their winning a case that went to the Supreme Court, congress is moving to get them officially recognized as a hate group.

As I’m sure many of you know WBC vehemently opposes GLBT tolerance in America and their protests at the funerals of servicemen who died overseas is their platform for spreading their viewpoint. Given Massachusetts was the first state in America to legalize Gay Marriage and they’re likely going to protest as close to the site of the bombings as possible…assuming it’s this week I will be there personally to see what happens.

On the other front, the collective group known as Anonymous issued a statement via social media regarding WBC’s plans saying “Protest in Boston at your own risk.” Anoymous, which according to them is everyone on earth is considered a vigilante group by most and an anti-hero by just as many. In my opinion, I think WBC may have finally met their match with Anonymous. Realistically WBC can’t do anything to to something to an organization that doesn’t even have a chain of command or even organization. WBC is legally untouchable (so far) and Anonymous is literally untouchable.

While I believe the law should prevail, like it or not sometimes you need something with no regard for the legal system to step in from time to time. I know I am not alone in saying many people will cheer when the protests from WBC finally stop. After all, WBC is the epitome of a real life Troll. Their leadership are lawyers. Anyone who thinks different from them are wrong/evil. Even the Supreme Court ruled they are legally exercising their right to free speech.

Here are a couple of links from the White House to get WBC legally classified as a hate group. Sign them and pass this on.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet…hurch/YrKbHYtV
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet…ctive/kmYR4DTL
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet…group/tNVz4V7Q
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet…group/DYf3pH2d (has over 350,000 signatures)
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet…tural/xHF0d3nq

And now a new one over the Boston bombings.
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/pet…mbing/KbLlysdG

I’ll leave you with this number from Les Miserables, which immediately jumped to mind when I first heard about this showdown in Boston.

The Unstoppable Force vs. The Immovable Object. In Boston. I’m gonna need to buy some popcorn!

 

America and beyond sends Boston Lots of Love   Leave a comment

I’m still mindblown over this tribute done by the New York Yankees on Tuesday:

I can’t even put it into words given I am aware of the blood feud between the Red Sox and the Yankees. I’ve got family who live in New York and we draw the line when it comes to sports teams. Very classy, New York. Very Classy.

I’m not gonna repeat stuff you can probably get from major news outlets. After all, of them are in Boston covering the investigation and beyond. Well, except for one thing: It’ll take ALOT more than the people or persons responsible are capable of to break the City of Boston. Folks have already started to get on with their lives, which is all you really can do.

As soon as the the area is reopened to the public I will go the UNOs on Bolystom St., which is a few doors from where the second bomb exploded. It’s my favorite restaurant on that end of Boylston St.  I also look forward to going to a Red Sox game when the team returns to Boston ^_^

The world is going to see what the people of Boston already know. We might get knocked down but we don’t stay down.

Boston Marathon Bombing Kills 3, Injures 144   Leave a comment

First off, I’m alright. I want to make sure I say that given I was downtown when the bombing happened. As soon as I figure out why the video I recorded earlier today on my iPod Touch did not upload properly I will embed it into this post.

I do want to say that despite what all the media outlets are saying there are no suspects at present and no terrorist groups domestic or overseas has claimed responsability. Also these are the only bombs that exploded. There were initial reports a bomb went off at the JFK Library but that was later proven false. Another initial report later disproven is that the boming was carried out by suicide bombers. This is not true.

For those who’ve never been to this part of Boston either during the Marathon or otherwise there is a Subway station at the finish line (Copley on the Green Line).  For security reasons it’s shut down the day of the marathon both ways and security is tightened at the adjacent stations (Arlington, Prudential and Hynes/ICA) as well as nearby Back Bay Station (Orange, Commuter Rail and Amtrak).

The silver lining is luckily this happened AT the finish line AND in Boston. In case you forgot four of the best hospitals in America are in Boston: Tufts Medical Center, Mass General, Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center. There’s little arguement their overall proximity to the site of the bombings as well as the medical staff already at the finish line were the main reasons the death toll was so low. Not trivializing the fact that lives were lost but all things considered first responders were already in place because of the marathon.

This is Boston. The city will be back in the swing of things by the end of the week. There are a few restaurants and shops I frequent on that section of Boylston St. I look forward to visiting them sometime soon.

I just got an iPod Touch (4th Gen) this weekend   Leave a comment

I feel like a sellout personally.

I LOVED the Zune HD but Microsoft discontinued it in favor of the Windows Phone. A shame given Apple now monopolizes the MP3 Player market. The Microsoft Surface has been selling well and I’m hopeful they will reintroduce the Zune HD in the near future.

To those with an iPhone who’ve never seen/used an iPod Touch, it does everything an iPhone can except make phone calls. I actually had a 2nd Gen iPod Touch (16GB) for two weeks but bought the 4th Gen (32GB) this past friday so that I could watch Netflix on it. It also helps the 4th Gen’s Wi-Fi Connection is WAY stronger than the 2nd Gen. Speaking of which, I gave my 2nd Gen to my mother as an early birthday present (her birthday’s next month). The Zune HD’s Wi-Fi Connection wasn’t all that impressive either (just like the PSP and PSP Go) sadly though from what I’ve seen so far the 4th Gen’s Wi-Fi is as powerful as my Xbox 360 and Nintendo Handhelds. It’s sure to come in handy at Anime Boston next month!

For those wondering why I didn’t get an iPhone, I’m getting a Windows Phone in June. I’m holding off buying anything over $50 until after Anime Boston (for I want to make sure I have a certain amount of Spending Money for the Dealers’ Room) so…yeah. Speaking of which: Buying the iPod Touch left me broke through my week off. If you’d like to spot me some cash, use the PayPal Button. No PayPal account needed on your end.

Almost forgot: Here is the list of some of the Apps I’ve installed I’m sure many of you would like to know I have:

  • Facebook (I only physically check it once every three months)
  • Twitter
  • You Tube
  • WordPress (I can now check comments, Likes, etc. without turning on my computer)
  • Netflix (goes without saying)
  • Google Earth
  • Google Maps
  • Various MBTA Apps (WOOT!)
  • Battle.net Mobile Authenticator

I learned my lesson from the Freemium Games I played to death on Facebook five years ago. All three of the games I installed are Freemium but since I know they’re working in real time I only check in on them once or twice a day at the most. By the way, Freemium means the game is free to play but you’re goinng to want to pay real money to succeed faster/sooner. For example in Megalopolis you’re prettymuch strong-armed into paying real money for virtual money to finish certain structures. The other option is to trade with someone but let’s be honest: You’re probably the only person on your friends’ list who plays these kinds of games regularly.

This is how these small, sometimes single-person Mobile App makers end up raking in millions overnight. They know folks will pay to get ahead so…yeah. $2 for 10k Coins in Virtual Families 2 may not sound lime much profit but multiply that by 100k people per hour per day and you get the idea. What actually bothers me more is the “Tell your friends about us!” pop-up everytime you do complete a task or level up. Those are the worst since they’re effectively telling you to spam your friends’ Facebook pages in exchange some free virtual currency/resources.

DON’T do it. Best case they block the App itself but worst case they de-friend you. With all of the updates that have happened since I regularly used FB it’s much easier to filter what people want to be exposed to while using Facebook. And yes I have experiemced both.

…Anywho, yeah I’m pretty satisfied with my new toy. I can fit all of my music on it like I could with my Zune HD as well. One thing I will NOT do is repurchase all the Movies and TV episodes I bought via Zune/Xbox Live via iTunes. For one many of Anime are no longer available on both iTunes and Zune/Xbox Live. The other is it costs more on iTunes both in money and in Disc Space.

Here’s an example: I bought Les Miserables (2012) from Xbox Live in HD for $12 and was 2.3GB in size on my Xbox and 1.7GB on my Computers. In comparison, iTunes sells Les Miserables (2012) in HD for $15 and is a whopping 5.45GB! Why pay more when the competition sells the same thing for less? Makes no sense. Now granted that extra 2.22GB on the iTunes version is because you’re getting a bunch of extras (which XBL has started offering at no additional cost) including a DVD menu. Having made DVDs myself I know that adds size the presentation. Most people just want to jump right into the movie so…yeah.

I’ll be honest in saying there are a few movies I will buy a second copy of (via iTunes). They’re all movies I either own a physical copy of or they’re worth being able to watch on the go and I won’t buy them in HD.

As for weather or not I’ve changed my opinion of Apple because of my purchase, my answer is no. My iPod Touch is just a means to an end. I needed a dedicated portable music player and having figured out how to use my PSP Go Music Playlists in iTunes it was a logical choice. Speaking of my PSP Go, nothing happened to it other than I wasn’t playing the games I bought from the Playstation Network since I’ve been using my PSP Go exclusively as a music player.

Whew…went on a bit of a tangent there. I have this week off from work but I’ll speak more to that in a separate blog post.

Deviant Art Nothing More Than an Image Hosting Site Now   Leave a comment

What really bothers me and several thousand artists who use the site every day is the Admins look the other way or just don’t care. I’m not just talking about subjective art submissions. I’m talking about a complete disregard for what the site is supposed to be by a rapidly growing number of people who use the site. For whose who don’t know, Deviant Art (henceforth it will be referred to as DA, its acronym) is an online art gallery that specializes in showcasing Art that deviates from what’s considered the  norm in a traditional art gallery. Hence the name Deviant Art.

Click the logo above to go straight there and see for yourself. A new window will open.

A growing number of experienced and novice artists who use the site as well as art critics are displeased by these decrepencies  in light of the new ventures they’ve been pursuing in the last 16 months. The interest in becoming recognized as a respectible online art community despite doing nothing to address the same issues people have raised over the years is the most disturbing.

The two biggest problems facing artists who use DA–and ultimately lead to them leaving the site–are plagiarism and submissions wrongfully reported and flagged for removal.

Don’t get me wrong, DA gives artists a platform to showcase their skills they likely wouldn’t get elsewhere. The best part is they can focus on their craft first and worry about how popular it could become second.

My problem is for too long DA has looked the other way when it comes to the issues raised above as well as people who use DA as an image hosting site. I’m not talking about legit artists/photographers who have a presence on DA to bring traffic/revenue to their business. I’m referring to people who use DA to share personal pictures as well as in most cases pornographic pictures. I’ll pause for a moment and say I am well aware that depending on where you are in the world, what is considered artistic nudity depends on who you ask. The overwhelming majority of what I have to sift through with the mature filter off (I don’t have a problem with artistic nudity obviously) is obviously meant to be pornographic in nature. I doubt any gallery would consider a close up of someone’s genitals art no matter how much it’s been photoshopped. Literally this is what people put on DA.

I will continue to use my blogs to hold sites like DA, Fanfiction.net and Facebook accountable as necessary. If they don’t want to tell the whole truth I have no problem shining a light into their dark alleys.

By the way: If you need an image hosting site use Photobucket or Image Shack.

Local Eating vs. Restaurant Chain   Leave a comment

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. Seeing as April Vacation is just around the corner and Anime Boston a month later, I figure I start with the first of many comparisons between local eateries and restaurants up against their chain equivelants. I will also make a page sometime tomorrow–which also happens to be my birthday–aptly titled Local vs. Chain Food.

Now let’s get to today’s face-offs.  We will look at three pairs of restaurants. I have eaten at ALL of them at some point or another, which will be the case with all future editions of Local vs. Chain Food.

VS.

It is interesting to note both are actually local restaurant chains. Both also specialize in burritos and they both do it well. The difference maker for me with the compare and contrast of both chains is the portions to pricing ratio.

The clear winner is Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Here’s what both local chains offer:

  • All-Natural Fresh Ingredients locally purchased.
  • All food is cooked to order.
  • Vegetarian and Dietary Alternatives to signature items
  • Use recycled materials for all paper and plastic products used.
  • Chic dining area and free wifi.
  • Their counterpart is within a few blocks from each other in the Back Bay and Downtown Areas of Boston.

The interesting thing about Boloco is they offer burritos in three sizes: Small, Medium and Large. Ditto for their smoothies. Chipotle, on the other hand has just one size for all. The difference–and this might or might not be a big deal to some of you–is Chipotle’s is more filling than a Large burrito from Boloco. One burrito from Chipotle and you’re prettymuch set for the day. With Boloco you’d need at least two Medium burritos to have that same satisfaction.

Let me go back to the cost comparison now. A Large burrito from Boloco with a smoothie would come out to around $13 (factoring MA Meal tax in that number). In comparison, a Chiptole burrito on average is $7 and you can add a drink to that for an additional $2.15, which brings the total to $10 (I rounded up to factor meal tax). On top of that, if you eat in you get free refills on drinks. Mind you, a Chipotle burrito is the equivalent of two Medium from Boloco.

Why pay more for less? The caviat is regardless of which one you prefer you’re getting good food and supporting the local economy. Even so, Chipotle Mexican Grill gets my support.

VS.

You’re not seeing things: B.Good vs. McDonald’s, Burger King AND Wendy’s. The founders famously threw down the gauntlet on The Phantom Gourmet in 2004, offering to pit their fries against “America’s Favorite Fries” (McDonald’s). No Introduction is necessary for Micky-D’s, BK and The W. Combined, they’re in every country on earth and every major city in North America. They are the undisputed Fast Food Kings of the industry no question.

Even so, there are just so many better, healthier AND affordable options out there. Case in point: B.Good.

Let’s review the facts about B.Good:

  • ALL Ingredients grown or purchased from local farms.
  • ALL Ingredients are organic.
  • All nine locations have an open kitchen, allowing you to watch the chefs prepare the food in front of you.
  • All burgers and sandwiches are cooked to order and served within ten minutes.
  • All burgers are customizable from the type of meat (or no meat) to the type of bun (or no bun).
  • EVERY serving of fries and sweet potato fries is made with fresh potatoes or sweet potatoes.
  • The shakes are actually good for you (!)
  • Nine lucky souls eat free for life at each of their nine locations for sharing their love of the B.Good Menu.

There are a number of ways one can get free food for a year or for life. See that link above to see how nearly two dozen people have done it. The clear difference between B.Good and the Big Three is not just in its menu. It’s the fact that you know you’re doing business with a company that loves to give back. This was word of mouth when I first heard about it but the Dartmouth Street location gives City Year members and Alumni a 20% discount off your order (must be wearing your City Year Jacket to get the discount). That’s awesome, but what’s even cooler for City Year Members is if you got lucky and a certain from the company was feeling generous the meal’s on them. For various reasons I’m not saying who it is though I’m sure some of you know this person.

Anyway the clear and obvious winner is of course B.Good.

The thing is you know the food you’re putting in your mouth was just made from the freshest available ingredients. While yes a burger with fries and a shake is $10 it’s worth every cent. You can taste every ingredient and as I mentioned above, you can chose between Beef, Chicken, Turkey or Vegetarian patties (all four hand-made and grilled) for ALL of their signature dishes. For example I always get the Buffalo Burger with Chicken. It’s like eating Buffalo Wings without the bones.

I want to stress my opinion that B.Good’s fries easily outshines Mickey-D’s. Once you try it you won’t be able to stop with one. To top it off they make Sweet Potato Fries. What’s it taste like? You’ll have to try it to believe it.

VS.

I’m not going to lie: This was a tough one to make. Both brands know their stuff.

Even so, if you want to eat like a local ALWAYS go with J.P. Licks. In case you’re wondering J.P. is short for Jamaica Plain, which is where the Boston-based ice cream store got its start. It has opened up in a few more locations around Boston but the trek to the original is well worth it for the experience.

Hands-down this matchup goes to J.P. Licks.

Coldstone is great in that each store operates like it’s been in the neighborhood for years. JP Licks just has the home team advantage is all.

…Whew, that was awesomely fun writing about those restaurants. I’m going to try to do this kind of thing once or twice a month. I plan to do a decient article in time for Anime Boston so look forward to it!

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