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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Anniversary: From Yoga to Ogre

So, this week marks my blog's second (or is it third?) birthday (Third Birthday!! Name of the PSP game -- yes, yes, the one with that notorious/yet-to-be-unlocked Shower Scene of Aya Brea -- that gave me a pinched nerve in the neck!) ... luckily, maintaining this blog hasn't been that much of a pain in the neck. Over the past year, I continued to record my exploration into the many wonders of yoga, modern (phone) technologies and -- as anyone who'd been following this blog the past couple of months or so will tell you -- a PSP game called Tactics Ogre. In fact, a friend said I should count how many times I've said, on this blog, that I am DONE with the game (okay, I'm not gonna count but I surmise at least half a dozen times) ... only I am STILL playing it (latest: I am trying to create a Divine Knight ... just out of curiosity ... really ...)

I think I'd made some progress on the mat; I don't usually notice that until I practise next to someone new to yoga ... then I remember how it was for me when I first started to learn the asanas: the tightness of the muscles/hamstrings, the lack of focus in balancing, the lack of energy, the shallow breathing, the inability to follow verbal instructions (which still applies today). Now, I am hoping to build on the basics that I'd learnt. Yoga is such a lengthy journey of (self) discovery/realisation and I'm setting some new goals for next year: I shall continue to work on my back bends so, one day, I will be able to do drop backs -- a wonderful asana that combines both physica/mental strength/flexibility. Oh, I can't wait to experience the sensation/ emotions of doing a full seated forward bend/fold. Will also learn to be more flexible not only on the mat but in life in general. It's good to have strong principles but there will come a time -- many times -- in life when we all have to settle for compromises.

Fantastic track!!!

Highlights of the past 12 months include: learning more about Yin, Ashtanga and Iyengar Yoga; getting my hands on the now nearly-extinct Nokia N900 (for old time's sake, I must have ONE Nokia NSeries phone, even though it is totally crap when compared with, say, Nexus S the Google Phone); Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2), which I saw twice; and, what else, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together!!!  

  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tactics Ogre (Let Us Cling Together) ~ The End

Yes, all good things must come to an end and I've now beaten this game and obtained the Ambicion sword (ultimate exclusive weapon) from the Dark Knight Lancelot. Sure, there is still part two of the San Bronsa Ruins to tackle and divine knights to create but the grinding for (more) weapons/items has started to get rather tedious. So, it's time to put it down (after some 565 hours) and start playing something else ~ on PSP Vita (!!!) I've already begun playing the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 but cannot quite get into it cos 1) I am not into fight games and 2) it is mostly in Japanese. The other game that came with the handheld is Uncharted -- Golden Abyss, which looks interesting but it's also one of those games that will give me a pinched nerve in the neck...

Hmm, which means I am left with nothing to play at the moment -- even though, quite ironically, I now have TWO PSPs!!!

The Vita does look very interesting though I have yet to fully explore its many functions. The thing is, I think my phones/iPad/EyeTV/PSP/Kindle, despite being on different OS -- iOS, Android, Blackberry, Maemo and what have you -- have started to overlap function-wise ... do I need/want all these gadgets?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Spiritualism & Materialism

Merry Christmas, everyone! Not being a particularly religious person, I spent this morning gaming before heading over to the yoga studio for an Inversion class. The 90-min session with Mister M was challenging. We kicked off with some core exercises to wake the body up before launching straight into various arm balancing poses with options to go upside down. I chose a mat right next to the wall so I could "cheat" a little (esp with handstand). When I was inverted, I tested my "core power/strength" by consciously "tightened up" the tummy area. The action appeared to have some effect on my stability though I was still quite wobbly, just as well I had the wall for support. My back bends also seem to be going well and I was able to get into various poses that required a little bit more flexibility ... and to feel my body responding to the stretches etc. All in all, it was a good/satisfying session. 

Christmas, I guess, is always a good time for reflection. So I was thinking about next year. Isn't 2012 supposed to be the end of the world or something -- a friend said to me the other night: "I'm not afraid because you don't see the end of the world, like, every day, right?" Have to say she has a point, we are all gonna die anyway so might as well die in a spectacular fashion! But today is about hope ... so I'm just hoping ... for the best in the year to come.

After the yoga class I decided to wander over to the Asian Games Show and see if there were any PSP Vitas left ... and, to my surprise, there were still stock and the queue was relatively short. So I pick up one for myself and another one for a friend. Is this the beginning of the end of Tactics Ogre?!? I'm finally climbing the San Bronsa Ruins and it's kinda fun. But I think I should stop obsessing about getting every single item cos that'd mean hours of grinding ... so maybe I will pick up a couple of powerful spells and be done with it. 

Oh, saw this movie called Dream House yesterday ... kinda Sixth Sense meets The Others meets whatever ... Daniel Craig is in it and he is rather good. Don't understand why he always gets his kits off in movies though...

Friday, December 23, 2011

PSP Vita

After my incessant nagging, a friend got me into the preview/launch of the new Sony PlayStation Portable, "Vita", yesterday and after giving it a quick test I couldn't put it down! It is the latest version of the PSP which, among other super duper new features, boosts of a larger (touch) screen. The resolution/colour/graphics are simply stunning. The only down side -- and I'm really nitpicking here -- is the weight. I've no idea how much it weighs but it does feel quite heavy in the hand, definitely heavier than the PSP I have now. It will have 3G/WiFi connection (for social media/networking) but since I already have so many phones, it's not deal breaking for me. So despite the hype etc, I'm in no big hurry to upgrade my machine - yet.

Seriously?!?


Have just booked my Christmas Day yoga class ... it's for inversion and since the Perfect Human Specimen had left the studio some months ago, I haven't been training my "core" (it's hard to say exactly what the "core" is but we all need it to stand/sit up straight, esp when you are, like, upside down). Core exercises are very challenging not least because the practice can actually be quite painful (sometimes the (good) pain can last for a few days). But that is how you "wake" the core up and gain core awareness. It's both a physical and mental process. While I can do the tripod headstand in the middle of the room, I need the wall to practice the classical headstand and handstand for both physical and psychological support -- the fear of flipping over onto my back/collapsing is just too great.

Over in Tactics Ogre land (am now almost 600 hours into the game), I've been "World-ing" around treasure hunting and levelling up more characters (uniques and generics). The Palace of the Dead is now permanently unlocked for floor-skipping at the beginning of Coda Episode Two (though I doubt I will ever return to that after, like, 6-7 visits); I have got two more exclusive items -- the missable Demonpetal scroll and a Dark Knight weapon (the hammer) -- in my last run of the Hanging Gardens; the Liches (Rudlum and a generic that aptly named Fredrick) are as good as what the strategy guide/forum say they are!! Over the holiday I will level them up some more (maybe get the Rose Whip) before heading up to the San Bronsa Ruins and, finally, re-doing Coda Episodes 3 and 4 -- to get the rest of the Dark Knights' weapons. Will think of something else to do after that -- if I am still into the game by then. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Reboot (2)

OH! This blog "disappeared" from cyberspace for a few mins just now!! Had to key in some extra passwords to access it again ... Maybe it was a security issue (??)

Anyway, a quick followup to my last post re: my new Nokia N900 ... for some strange reasons, the Chinese input is suddenly Working ~ Hurrah!!! So it was a good thing I didn't flash the phone. Basically the only thing that I "messed up" was the English interface, which is not a big issue at all; in fact, I like the Chinese one better. Time to download some apps from the super geeky Maemo OS site ...

A Reboot

So, the Nokia N900 turns out to be a parallel imported phone (i.e. no warranty), the shop told me it wasn't when I bought it... how did I know? Well, after I bought the smartphone, I decided to download this software that enables Chinese character input. However, it didn't work. Alarm bells started to go off by -- cos the software only works for the "official version" of the phone. Anyway, after a few more attempts, decided to just re-install everything ... only after that, the English Language pack just vanished, leaving me with a phone that speaks, err, Dutch, with neither English nor Chinese input  (!!) Did some research over the Internet and the best way to handle the situation, it appeared, was to Flash the phone. Now, phone flashing is a Serious business ... i.e. one mistake and your phone transforms into a brick/paper weight. So, I did more research and downloaded the flasher ... just as well THAT didn't work cos I just felt not so comfortable about phone flashing ... esp having read on various forums that the said flasher actually didn't really work ...

To cut a long story short, I decided to re-install the Chinese input software that, at least, turns the phone interface back to Chinese (though still cannot do character input) and, miraculously, that switches language input back to English ... so, I went from, in just a couple of days, having a phone with Chinese/English interface + English input to one that only has Chinese interface + English input. I'll settle for that. At least I can USE the phone ... and I don't really mind, the phone WAS half the original price!

Tactics Ogre update: Well, I got 99 per cent of the gears that I wanted but I somehow missed the route to the Blackmore battle in the Palace of the Dead (bwah!!) So I've decided to go back to the floor where I can turn Rudlum the Warlock into a Lich (dark mage). THEN I will head back to Level 75 and work my way to Level 100 for the Crest of Fire ... Oh well, that's fine cos I really don't want this game to end, esp now my Azelstan is a kick ass Buccaneer ;o)

24 hours later: Rudlum is now a Lich (!!) and I've beaten Blackmore, twice ... what a horrible battle when there appears to be an endless supply of enemies but the drops are AMAZING. Got my Crest of Fire (finally) but am now obsessing about the Ogre Set (this game keeps getting me obsessed about one thing or another ... I still need to get the Rose Whip for Ozma for instance, oh, and the Abyss II spell for Warren and all the special weapons available in the final battle with the Dark Knights, which I have yet to replay... bwah!) Anyway, now I need the Ogre Blade and Ogre Amour to complete my set. So what's next? Complete the Ogre set? Train up my lower level units? The San Bronsa Ruins?

Some (more) hours later: Done! Have the Ogre Set! Feeling very satisfied ... and relieved. I don't think I wanna go back to the Palace of the Dead EVER again ... enough ... really ...Think will now relax and do some team building. Time to take Rudlum, Gildas, Hobyrim and possibly Folcurt to the Golborza Plain for levelling up. Then San Bronsa Ruins...


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Some Progress (4)

Phew! Finally beaten Nybeth the Necromancer and have just entered the Hanging Garden ... AND ... I discovered a secret passage that takes me way to the top (skipping some 20 floors) ... think I'll take this shortcut as the Palace of the Death kinda did my head in (for the third time) ... but now that I have the three Palace Guides, I can now skip 30+ floors at a time. Perfect! So I'll quickly finish Chapter 4 and skip back to Coda and head for the PotD again to finish off Blackmore ... the Crest of Fire is now on the horizon! The last PotD run actually wasn't too bad and had got myself more exclusive weapons. My team is now edging towards Level 50 -- the final level (Vyce is already there)... 

In between games I managed to completely mess up the language settings for the new Nokia (NO Chinese input and the English Language Pack also suddenly vanished)  ... oh well, at least it's just a toy so will have it fixed at some point ~ but no big hurry. But Nokia really does make Other brands look SO good! Nexus S is da best!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nokia N900




OMG, I saw this beauty in a local phone shop last night, selling for half its original price (a year ago). It can run on Android so I think I will run down and get it today. It's a Nokia and, in my opinion, everyone should have at least ONE in their collection... (yes, I do have this thing about Nokia phones ... even though they are totally shite compared with most mobile phones today -- slow, bizarre OS, Ovi Store is kinda a joke etc -- we gadget geeks just LOVE them . I can never forget the 7710, what a classic!). This is more a tablet computer than a phone and from what I've read on the Web, it is very fidgety to use -- a complete turn on for me! I doubt I will use it as a phone -- I don't even use my Nexus S as a phone cos it's just too big -- but a perfect toy for Christmas.   

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tips on Seated Forward Bend

Here is a pose that always gets me grunting (in pain and frustration)! 



Just stumbled across this blog (Sensational Yoga Poses): http://www.sensational-yoga-poses.com/seated-hamstring-stretches.html, which has some pretty cool tips for people with tight hamstrings ~ ME!!! My hamstrings (and probably hips) are so tight when I widen my legs when seated, my feet totally go outside of the mat (while rest of the class have their feet on their mat). I mean, look at the photo above; this guy's legs spread out pretty wide to allow his torso to lower. My legs are much closer to the centre (cannot even open @ a 90-degree angle), thus blocking my way to bend forward, i.e. pelvis not able to tilt forward. ALSO because I have a slight rounding in my lower back, I'm like a shrimp in this pose. However, if I bend my legs, then I am able to move forward slightly more. 

Picking up my PSP early this evening. This sounds TOTALLY weird but I actually dreamt playing Tactics Ogre the past two nights.

Time. For. A. Psychiatrist. 


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Relaxation and Balance

Just came back from a flow class and I feel great. The instructor took us through various simple but effective sequences that target at opening the hips -- an area that gives me both a sensation of satisfaction and dissatisfaction (!) With more "opened" hips, I am hoping to take that slight rounding out of my lower back ... but think I really need to work hard on that, considering I sit down in front of the computer (like, Now!) most of the day. But after a few years practising yoga, at least I am conscious of the need to prop up myself tall (instead of slouching) while sitting down. We also did some balancing, which I think is great both for the body and the mind as you do need to pay attention to both to stay grounded and balanced.

What I like most about my practice is the breathing and relaxation part. I'm a born nervous wreck and often have anxiety attacks (even during playing my PSP); but ever since I learnt to take long and deeper breaths,  my monkey mind has been a lot more calm; it's better than any medication (I guess)...

Talk about PSP (fav subject right now in case you hadn't noticed), I finally did the Cressida side quest, which wasn't as hard as some people had made it out to be. No, I didn't recruit her (I hate the idea of the "death march", i.e. slaughtering my own troop in order to raise her loyalty) and I have enough interesting uniques on my team anyway. But the completion of her side quest means I am now on course to kill the evil Nybeth the Necromancer in the Palace of the Dead. Once I bump him off, I will then finish Chapter 4 (again, but this time with PotD properly completed) in order to battle with Blackmore in Coda Episode 1. This time, I can skip floors with the palace guides. Hopefully I will finally get the Crest of Fire (Mwahahaha) by end of next week. Also after of hours of auto grinding, Denam (Lord) and Ozma are now at Level 47 ...



    

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More Grinding (8)

Wow, I'd unlocked both Ozma the Knight Commander and the Sovereign Mark, which I can use to change Denam (currently a Ninja) into a Lord! But the BAD NEWS is that both at Level 1, which can only mean auto grinding @ Golborza Plain (am really sick of that battle map) for a day or two. That aside, I'm excited by the prospect of training these new recruits up cos I've read they are really amazing. As far as unique characters are concerned, I have unlocked all the ones I want. No more, which is a relief (!)

What I like about this game (even at this late stage) is not so much how to come up with strategies for the battles (no need now that my team is kinda strong) but to have fun to come up with a team with thematic makeups. The next couple of days I will work on building up Denam into a character that I want him to be ... it's almost like playing God.

Then ... it's the TWO final runs on Palace of the Dead before heading to the Ruins. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

More Grinding (7)

Have come down with a cold so am staying off the mat for a week; rather not pass germs onto others. So, have been auto-grinding Tactics Ogre all weekend (think PSP is on the verge of exploding). Vyce is now at Level 40+, finally catching up with the rest of the team (@ Level 46). Have also successfully "scavenged" skills from one of the generics (archer) for Vyce so at least I won't need to grind on levelling up his bow skill on top of everything else (he is now equipped with the almighty Ji'ygla Set, one-shot-ing everything). So gimme a couple more hours and I should be able to take on the Dark Knights (Vyce will have almost max-ed out his bow skill by then). The final episode of Coda is titled "The Magnificent Twelve", a reference to the 12 characters I'll be taking to the final series of battle. Here is my latest lineup: Denam (Ninja), Catiua (Princess), Vyce (Ranger), Azelstan (Buccaneer), Canopus (Vartan), Arycelle (Archer), Mirdyn (Rune Fencer), Warren (Astromancer), Lansolet (Paladin), Sherri (Shaman), Deneb (Wicce) and Rudlum (Warlock).  

One of the most appealing/addictive aspects of this game for me is to work on building a strong team. Am loving the range attackers (Vyce and Azelstan) right now. Despite what  various strategy guides say, I find the Ninja class quite boring (even with the ninjutsu and double attacks skills). So, will have to turn Denam into a Lord when I World back/return to the Law Route. I'd like to include a Knight Commander  on my team is well (Ozma is the only Dark Knight that broke ranks with the rest and can be recruited/unlocked) ... which I should do on the Law Route (after I'd done Episode 4). So, can't wait to put my latest team to the test. Will try to figure out how to further tougher up my magic casters before entering the final battles with the Dark Knights.

PS Okay, I think I finally figured out this "Anchor points" business in this game - and how to proceed post-Episode 4. I will have the final file save (of the entire game, on Chaos Route) resting in the last anchor of the timeline in Warren Report. That is the ultimate anchor point that will not be rewritten (and there will be no need to do so). Simultaneously, I will have another "active" file save (of the Law Route), which I will be on after I World/time travel back to 1) recruit Ozma, 2) change Denam into a Lord, 3) kill Nybeth and 4) kill Blackmore. The beauty of this game mechanism is that, somehow, it makes a connection between my active save file and final save file! So after I've done what I need to do on Law Route, I will be able to move back to the final file save with all the necessary items I gained ~ such as the Crest of Fire and Ogre Set ~ before taking on the final (and the most challenging) side quest: the Floating Ruins in San Bronsa Ruins.

So I think I've cracked it ... and I "only" have TWO more Palace of the Dead visits (one to kill Nybeth and one to kill Blackmore) to look forward to ... *gulp*

PPS these TO: LUCT entries are getting more and more hits by the day so I think other players are checking this blog out for tips...