Sunday, November 15, 2009

America Recycles Day

November 15 was America Recycles Day. A day that is dedicated to encouraging Americans (though from what I can tell most of the time people say Americans they mean only USA) to recycle and to buy recycled products. I regularly recycle via curbside recycling and Abitibi paper boxes. On this day I dropped off at the zoo, they were having a recycling event in which they took various recyclables that curbside recycling does not, a box of mostly cdrs; though there were some dvdrs, aol discs, and 3.5 floppy disks as well. I used to trade anime fansubs via the mail until high speed internet and dvdrs became common.

I had traded cdrs for several years (mostly through the now mostly dead Noated forum though did so on a few other now completely gone sites) and had amassed a rather large number of cdrs. Over time I had watched them and no longer wanted the particular series, acquired the actual dvds, got better quality versions, received duplicates, put them on dvdrs to save room, poor quality cdrs that had become damaged, etc. as well as various other cds such as AOL, Netzero, old Linux distros, game sample discs, etc. I felt it was a waste to toss them out so I instead would toss them into a big box saying to myself that I am going to recycle them. I kept putting it off until I saw a flier advertising national recycling day and decided to drop them off (I first emailed the company that was doing the computer recycling to see if they took cdrs). I had looked into recycling them in the past but most places I saw that would recycle them charged or you had to ship them to the company which considering the number and weight of discs I had would have been costly.

Prior to recycling the discs I browsed a few of the discs to see if I was tossing anything I did not want to. I only looked at a few but did find some interesting things (though usually not the content). Things like how poor the quality of some of them were but at the time it had not bothered me (I still will watch things with poor video quality on occasion like youtube videos) and how my computer could no longer play some of them. For example, a few videos I looked at had Intel/Ligos Indeo Interactive 4.0 codec which is no longer supported and does not play on Vista (and is difficult to get to play on any video players including players that play most things like VLC because the 5.0 codec does not play 4.0, or doesn't do so well, and the codec is copyrighted and no longer supported by the company that made it). At the time though the codec was pretty popular with Microsoft (Btw I can get them to play by converting them to a different format but did not bother). I was also surprised about how many AOL discs were in that box there had to be at least 50 and also a few AOL 3.5 floppy's. I had a lot of internet discs from other companies like Netzero, Juno, People PC, MSN, etc. How many discs did those companies mail out?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Stylistic issues and random thoughts

I am nowhere near where I should be for my current writing goal but as I write I started to contemplate style.

I was wondering whether I should use macrons and other diacritics. In general I do not use macrons or diacritics on this blog because I am lazy and they take a bit longer to input. I probably should use them on some of the romanizations of Japanese words that I have used on this blog since the same word depending on whether it is a long or short vowel could mean something else entirely. As for the macron use I'm currently thinking about using in a fan fic are for character names e.g. using ō to indicate that the o in Ryoga's name is a long vowel; Ryōga.

If I do use them should I limit them to names and possible foreign words or use them on other things like acute accents such as in fiancée (which is a word adopted from french)?

Thinking about that should I call Ranma's situation engagements or betrothals i.e. should I say Ranma is engaged to Ukyo and Akane and Shampoo or betrothed to them? It is more common to see people call them engaged, which is why I'm contemplating using that term, but betrothed is probably the better term to use since betrothal often refers to agreements involving not only the couple but their families and often have binding legal or honor implications that engagements do not.

Something that just occurred to me some fics talk about some of the honor implications of breaking the engagements, often erroneous legal implications, and possible fallout (like Shampoo deciding that Akane really has to die) but I do not ever recall seeing a fic in which Ukyo or the Tendo's sue Ranma/Saotomes for breaking the engagement, which they could theoretically do under breach of promise laws. I do not know what those type of laws are currently in Japan but I do know that there are books in Japan that do have this as part of their plots for example: Kazumi Takahashi's novel, Hi no utsuwa, has the main character a university dean sued for breaking a marriage engagement.

The next stylistic thing is a common conundrum for Ranma fan fic writers, or anyone writing about a multi or no gendered being; that I have not given much thought about until just recently. Namely how should I indicate Ranma's gender? I've seen books, such as Peter David's Star Trek: New Frontier Series use hir and s/he for dual gendered beings but I personally find that annoying though I did enjoy those books. The use of singular they would probably confuse people thinking that they means multiple people instead of just Ranma. I could use it but it is usually not referred to people and may cause readers to view Ranma as not a person.

The way I am currently thinking about doing so is to, when narrating, use Ranma for male form and Ranma-onna for female form. I definitely won't use Ranma for male form and Ranko for female form because I do not believe Ranma would choose to use that alias again because of the memories associated with it and people not in the know would view Ranma and Ranko as two separate individuals. Though this maybe awkward on occasion.

When looking from a character point of view though I am unsure what to do. I originally was going to say that Ranma would always think of himself as being male, but upon further reflection that seems unlikely. Most of the time a person does not think of themselves as being male or female (I, am, me, etc. are gender neutral). Though the main reason is that Ranma has strong associations with some actions as being gender specific, so if Ranma were to be doing or contemplate doing something he associates as female he is likely to view himself as a female during those times (like putting on make-up, wearing a dress, or wearing a swimsuit). As for the other characters it would vary and be dependent on circumstance. Akane, for example, would think of Ranma as male regardless of form most of the time but there would be circumstances that would make her view him as female. Some examples: if it looks like Ranma is about to kiss her in female form or other displays of affection while in female form, a situation in which another girl is needed such as substituting for her in a contest, if he acts like a male while in female form in public (therefor embarrassing her), if she happens to notice that Ranma looks better in some outfit than she does, etc. Characters that do not know his true gender will of course use whatever gender he currently is as his gender. Then there is Tatewaki, he associates Ranma as female when in female form to the degree that all evidence otherwise is ignored, truthfully I think that would be fairly common to some extent. A person who sees Ranma most often in female form is likely to view Ranma as a female even if they know about the curse and that Ranma is actually male; particularly if they see Ranma doing things in female form they usually associate as feminine.

Next stylistic thing. Should I use Shampoo, Mousse, and Cologne or should I use Shanpū, Koron, and Mūsu? In many ways it doesn't matter and Shampoo, Mousse, and Cologne are more common (they were the ones VIZ chose to use) but I kind of like Shanpū, Koron, and Mūsu more (though you wouldn't really know it from reading this blog since I tend to use the more common one). I like them more in part because it shows that their names aren't actually hygiene products they just happen to sound like them to someone who speaks English (which was deliberately done by Takahasi).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Believable knowledge level

I'd like to say that I am off to a good start and have written at least 1667 words (50,000 divided by 30 rounded to nearest whole number) but sadly that is not the case. I had a few false starts where I wrote something and then deleted it because I did not like it. Now I do not really know what to write, the reason I am writing this post is in hopes that in doing so it will kick start me into actually writing more (I have about 150 words) and it is far too soon for writer's block.

My first start, that I ended up scrapping, had Ranma interrupted while making homemade chloroform from common household ingredients in the shed that is in the corner of the Tendo compound. The manga has Ranma use chloroform but never explained where he got it so I figured why not have Ranma making it himself (many people are surprised how many things can be made with stuff lying around the house). The household ingredients used are pool cleaner(Sodium Hypochlorite), ice, and paint thinner(Acetone) though I do not advocate people doing this unless they know what they are doing because it is not entirely safe (another thing that could be created by accident is phosgene a world war one chemical weapon). Upon reading the scene I did not like it so deleted it.

In writing that scene I started to wonder how many potential readers, provided I do ever let anyone see it, would have found that to be out of character for Ranma. In addition to that would they find it strange for several of the characters to have an extremely good understanding of things like applied sciences, though the character may not know the technical terms. How much knowledge could I give a character in a particular field before it becomes unbelievable? There are many things people would probably not find OOC, such as making a mention to a lesser known martial arts style such as Aki Kiti a martial arts style of Nagaland (a hill state located in the far north-eastern part of India). I do not think many people would find it out of character for Ranma to make a potion after watching Happosai do so (Ranma has watched Happosai do similar things in the manga and Happosai has made potions; he made a rejuvenation potion) or acquiring a book of potions and following the steps (he can read, cook and follow basic instructions so if he has a book on it should be no problem). While I am pretty sure that most people would find the above as being in character, I am unsure if they would find him doing other things like basic practical chemistry as still being in character.

That is not worded as well as I'd like, basically I'm wondering as to what knowledge I can have the characters, such as Ranma, portray without people viewing them as being out of character (though the knowledge would vary by character and what is shown in the manga). My personal view, which is probably obvious to people who have read my other posts, is that Ranma is very intelligent and would have (and is shown to have) picked up a lot of practical knowledge as well as quite a bit of eclectic knowledge during his travels. Displaying some knowledge would not be balked at such as knowledge on anatomy (since some is required just to prevent hurting people in Martial arts and he has displayed knowledge in first aid, pressure points, and the human body) or geography (he has traveled quite a bit even during the manga) other knowledge I am not sure of. Since some people would find anything I wrote to be out of character I probably should not care but it is something to think about, though as long as it makes sense for the fic and could be explained in a somewhat believable way it should not matter. A few thing he definitely will not have a lot of knowledge on, in any possible fic I'd write, is popular culture, Shakespeare, and politics; he seems to have very little interest in things like movies, music, idols, and (non-martial art) sports. He probably knows some but not a lot, could tell you how to play soccer/baseball but would be unable to name any but the biggest stars or give their stats.