Back to boring everyday living again…

These days trying to save up as much money as I can to help purchase a place in Vancouver hopefully next year.. ideally I want to 1) get my mortgage down to $200k 2) leverage my current SF home to get a home equity loan of at least $310k and 3) save up at least $60k this year in cash.
I want to take advantage of the US dollar strength because $310k + $60k = $370k which equals roughly $500k CAD which is just enough to get a decent 1 bedroom condo in a decent location in Vancouver. Of course, I want to purchase a home back in Canada for several reasons.

One is that the US is not particularly friendly to immigrants and especially so since Trump took office, and I get harassed every time I go across the border, since I am not a green card holder, and the TN visa is not a dual intent visa which means I cannot apply for a green card on that visa. Furthermore, recent changes to the H1B, the only dual intent working visa, have made it more difficult for programmers / software engineers to obtain. This means that my time in the US is likely limited.
Two is that Canada is the place that I want to start a family and retire anyways. I have often said before after all my travels, is that America is the best place for working due to the high salary and low taxes and low cost of goods; China and Europe are the best places to travel due to all the history and natural beauty; Korea is the best place for nightlife and having fun; and Canada is the best place to start a family and actually live, since it has a combination of European and American culture, the tuition fees are lower, the healthcare costs are lower etc. And Vancouver is unique as the warmest city in Canada as well as being on the lovely West Coast, and having lots of Koreans (Long term workers not just students) there doesn’t hurt my future plans either.
Three is I want to finally be able to purchase my own place with my own money. I always felt like my SF home is kind of my parents home, since they helped out with 40% of the cash. I want to finally purchase a place all with my own cash and call it my own.

So I’m trying to save a lot of money, but of course this being myself I do buy some things still… among the things I purchased recently is the Milkman Amp 1 Watt Plus model. This is a Class A Tube Amplifier that was handmade in San Francisco so I thought I might support a local shop here. But don’t I already have a Class A hand-wired tube amp? Yes I do, the Swart Atomic Jr. But this one has more wattage (10W vs 5W), 12″ Alnico Blue speaker (vs the 8″ Ceramic in the Swart), built in attenuator (goes from 0.5W to 10W) and is better for traveling due to the tubes being covered (the Swart has uncovered tubes which makes it risky to travel with it, despite being lighter).

It definitely has more headroom than the Swart does. I’ve also finalized my pedal board! My pedalboard contains 10 pedals. I’ve gone through tens of different pedals in my career, and I’ve finally settled on this configuration (for now): (from first to last in the chain)
BBE Wah -> Boss Waza Tuner -> Dunlop EP101 Preamp -> Wampler Euphoria -> RambleFX Marvel Drive -> Keeley Magnetic Echo -> Xotic SP Compressor -> BBE Sonic Stomp Mini -> Hermida Reverb -> Boss RC3 Looper
Retired my Maxon TBO9 (served me well) and the Keeley Oxblood Germanium (might use as backup to the Euphoria), and had to get the Hermida Reverb due to the Milkman amp not having onboard reverb. It was a compromise I had to make, the bigger Half Pint model had onboard reverb, but it was also 5lbs heavier.

And I want to get rid of my Gretsch White Penguin and Traynor Amps, even though the Gretsch is a great guitar, it has intonation problems, and is still a bit heavy for my tastes. It’s definitely the best looking out of all my guitars though. So ideally I want to keep the custom Partscaster that I built (Fender Telecaster Thinline ’72 deluxe with Filtertron/WRH pickups) as my main jazz/blues guitar, with the Fender Stratocaster doing rock and blues as well, and the Martin OMJM as my acoustic doing mostly pop tunes.

I’m doing a lot of jazz guitar these days. I love it! Playing a lot of Larry Carlton and George Benson these days. And I also love that John Mayer’s new album (Search for Everything) has great funky jazz-type riffs like ‘Moving on and Getting over’ and ‘Still feel like your man’. That man is a genius. Best album for me since Battle Studies (Continuum obviously still everyone’s favorite). Here is my ranking of John Mayer albums btw (from best to worst) as well as my favorite songs from each album.

1. Continuum (blues/pop masterpiece) – Best song: Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
2. Room for Squares (great acoustic pop) – Best song: St. Patrick’s Day
3. Try! (his best guitar album, great blues/rock songs) – Best song: Gravity
4. Battle Studies (more great guitar-pop) – Best song: Friends, Lovers or Nothing
5. The Search for Everything (blends all his previous styles + adds funk/jazz) – Best song: Moving on and getting over
6. Born and Raised (acoustic-folk pop) – Best song: Walt Grace’s Submarine Test 1967
7. Inside Wants Out (like Room for Squares but more raw) – Best song: Victoria
8. Heavier Things (some songs are great, others not so much) – Best song: New Deep
9. Paradise Valley (not many songs I liked from this album) – Best song: Who you love

In other news I’ve also been playing games with my friend, being bored a lot at home these days makes you do that. We still play Far Cry 4 a lot despite it being a 3 year old game just because of how amazing the co-op experience is. I think I have like 30 videos on Youtube of our play sessions together. I even made my own map and published it!

Other games I’ve been playing are the fantastic JRPGs Persona 5 and Yakuza 0. I’ve loved both these series (wayyy more interesting than Final Fantasy XV for me) so that’s no surprise. Also finished Root Letter (it was alright, but the ending was unsatisfying), and both Blazblue Central Fiction (love that series) and Steins Gate 0 (also love that series as well). Also bought Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Mass Effect: Andromeda mainly because both of them have co-op but both of them were letdowns for me. And of course still playing Hearthstone, which just released a new expansion (Journey to UnGoro).

Also looking forward to: Fire Emblem Echoes (3DS).. Akiba’s Beat (Vita).. Agents of Mayhem (PS4).. Quake Champions (PC).. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

And that’s the state of my life right now.. everyday work, go home and play games, and save money. Boring existence. When’s my next trip to Korea?

Basketball videos and 3DS vs Vita in retrospect

I’ve been on a basketball video roll recently, making some rants worthy of being an ESPN analyst.

In these videos, I give my commentary on the ESPN greatest players rank, which I felt ranked older players too low, and modern players too high. As well as my thoughts on the most underrated players of all time (50s players and ABA players), debate about Russell/Wilt, talk about the next 20 players that should be part of the NBA anniversary team, and the All-NBA players I would choose for each decade (1950s to 2010s).

Also, I did a popular video on New Nintendo 3DS vs PS Vita slim comparison

In this video I said that 3DS was favored because it had better games. Well, after owning both consoles for about a year now, I can say that both have fairly addictive games, but I’ve played my PS Vita more, due to its larger cache of Japanese RPGs and Visual Novels, which I prefer to Mario/Zelda/Pokemon/etc games. The Vita is really underrated, because it has a fair amount of good games, alot of them recent. Here’s my favorite games on each console:

New Nintendo 3DS: Codename STEAM, Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (I love the whole Fire Emblem series, it has the best story of out any tactical RPG), Yokai Watch, Mario & Luigi Paper Jam

PS Vita: Steins;Gate (absolutely one of my favorite stories of all time), Persona 4 Dancing All Night (surprisingly good story), Digimon Cyber Sleuth, Xblaze: Code Embryo, Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus, Akiba’s trip: Dead and undressed

There’s just way more variety in the Vita games than 3DS games, which tends to stick to the usual Nintendo suspects: Mario, Zelda, Smash Bros, Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Harvest Moon (now Story of Seasons), etc

so yeah.. I might do a retrospective video, but Vita actually wins it for me. If I was forced to choose between Fire Emblem (my favorite Nintendo series) and Steins;Gate or Persona 4, it would be difficult but I would still go with Persona/Steins Gate. And yes, I know Persona Q exists on the 3DS, its just not the same as Persona 4 Golden / Dancing all night on the Vita.

Goal finally achieved – and 2015: Year in Review

First of all, some updates:

-Fallout 4, Starcraft II Legacy of the Void, and Just Cause 3 are amazing games (and Hearthstone league of explorers to a smaller extent). I beat the campaign in all of them.
-PS Vita games Persona 4 Dancing All night and Steins Gate were two of my favorite stories yet! Yeah I know right, how can a rhythm game have a good story? Well Atlus never fails to deliver. Steins Gate is probably my favorite visual novel yet, involving time travel, an old IBM computer, conspiracy theories, and John Titor. Kept me hooked throughout my Eastern Europe trip. I really enjoyed the anime too, it was fantastic!
Yakuza 5 man, its finally out!! I played Yakuza 4 back in 2012 and it was one of my all time favorite games, so really was anticipating the Western release of Yakuza 5, unfortunately PSN only.
Undertale, pretty cool retro RPG style game that has a lot of twists in it as well. Its one of the highest rated RPGs of all time.
-Star Wars the Force Awakens was kind of disappointing. I mean, yes it IS better than the first and second prequels, arguably better than the third one (Revenge of the sith) and/or Return of the Jedi. But for me, its not as good as them. Why? Because the plot was wayyy to similar to Episode 4 A New Hope. I mean, you have the secret plans for something being stored in another droid (BB8 instead of R2D2), Han solo playing Ben Kenobi’s role this time, Luke playing Yoda’s role, Kylo Ren playing Darth Vader’s role, Poe/Rey/Finn playing varying aspects of Luke’s role, and a third death star… yes they re-used it yet again. How the First Order managed to build it in 30 years without the New Republic knowing it, and somehow get destroyed in like a minute is really a letdown. I know they were paying homage to the old trilogy and all but – wayyyy to similar for me.
-I recently discovered the fantastic “bad movie” The Room and read The Disaster Artist which was hilarious. Glad to see they are making a movie about this weird human being known as Tommy Wiseau.
Wilt: Larger than Life. A great biography of the great NBA player Wilt Chamberlain. It leads you to believe just how dominant Wilt was as an athlete, an absolute incredible physical specimen right up to his 50s. After watching Kareem: Minority of One as well, I am still debating over who really was the better player, but one thing is for sure, Wilt had the more outgoing personality. He was definitely the nicer more considerate guy overall, whereas Kareem tends to be more introverted and apathetic towards people. They are both arguably the GOAT, MJ notwithstanding.
-I moved to a new place. Smaller, cheaper, but simpler and cleaner. Its an “officestel” which is an old office converted into a condo type of place near Seoul university. Plus, utilities are all included, and there’s a gym as well! sweet. Heres a pic…

new officestel
new officestel

And finally the big one…
I finally found a Korean girlfriend!! Yes, after one year of searching, and literally 2 days before I went back to Canada I found her, and finally my goal for this year has been accomplished (albeit 2 weeks before the year ends). Sweet, gentle, kind, nice, beautiful, loving, caring, I can’t say enough.. I found the perfect woman. Its a shame I had to leave her so soon, as I already booked the ticket back to see my family though :(. But wow… what a relief. I was afraid that I would have to tell my parents I failed. Now I just hope I can maintain this relationship for a while. I’m so tired of meeting people…

Now onto the review…

Highlights
-I found a gf!! yay!! finally…
-My Korean has improved to the point where I can talk to people (like my gf) entirely in Korean only
-I was able to find a new place to move to by myself
-Two of my American friends (both from California) moved to Korea around the same time as me, so I’m grateful to have them to hang out with for most of the year, although one of them moved back now.
-Eastern Europe trip was fantastic!

Lowlights
-Didn’t learn that much at work so far, wish I could’ve learned more ReactJS
-Didn’t establish alot of connection with co-workers due to remote work
-Working at nighttime still kind of sucks even though its Korea because work hours for most businesses is still 9-6ish
-I spent too much money this year on collecting useless gadgets
-going back and forth between the US, Canada and Korea all the time (4 times this year) takes a huge toll on my body and this year my body’s sleeping schedule has definitely not been normal, which affects my health.
-My stocks took a huge beating this year. My losses this year are about $3000~ in the market.
-I met ALOT of new people and Koreans at meetups due to focusing on finding a gf for much of this year, and sadly, didn’t connect with most of them. I scrolled through most of my conversations and realized most of them are pretty useless just a few texts and alot of girls who ignored me.
-I got rejected by 10+ girls this year… which sucks. I thought I would never find a girl who likes me until just a few days ago.

Summary
Didn’t feel like I made alot of progress in my life this year. The majority of it, I spent working, but didn’t learn that much at work. Met alot of new friends and alot of girls, but didn’t talk much to most of them, and most girls rejected me. Only had a lasting connection with a few friends I met this year. Until just a few days ago, I was very depressed and frustrated because I felt like I wasted alot of time this year doing nothing and getting no results.
And the more time moves away from 2012 and 2013, the more I want to go back to those times. Where I met good friends all the time, and traveled a lot, and was with my best friends in SF. Alas, I can’t go back. I realized that at the time 2013 I didn’t appreciate that year as much as I should.
In retrospect, 2013 was a great year. I went to alot of parties, met alot of friends, went to Korea for the first time which was amazing and changed my life, and of course 2012 was the year I will always hold in my heart as my favorite year of my life so far; the people I met that year I still continue to keep in contact with to this day.

I felt like I was cursed for the majority of this year not to find a girlfriend.. I did everything go to meetups, search on online websites, blind dating, use apps like Tinder and OKC, be really considerate, buy gifts, pay for them, etc nothing worked. Even when I felt like I had a really good conversation with them, I never got a second date which really depressed me.
So, now that I met my gf recently, I feel that this curse has finally been lifted, and next year, will be the year which this year should have been. This year was essentially just leading up to this moment. A year of preparation basically. But I can’t say that this year has been as good as 2012, 2013 or 2014 for me. Its more like 2011 in the sense that I moved someplace new and had to adjust. An adjustment year if you will.

Videos
Holiday cheer…

I have DJI Phantom 3 drone now. Check out this nice video I took in Seoul at night:

Rehashed alot of my old videos for this homage to my old California life (2011-2014). I miss my old house parties.

I still have a bunch of videos waiting to be uploaded but I can’t due to Youtube’s ban on me from my copyright violation back in July. I have to wait until end of Jan to upload videos longer than 15min which sucks.