The original Giant Pachinko Machine of Doom.
>>  The day-to-day chronicles of Baka-chan, evil genius and overlord of the Giant Pachinko Machine of Doom.
moar majaan

12/18/09 @ 10:24:00 pm, Categories: Life of Baka, 49 words, 1224 views  

So, I’m building a mahjong playing surface using materials like pooltable felt and stuff. So far I have the surface attached to the plywood base, now I just need to add feet (It’s meant to sit on tabletops) and the outer frame. I’ve got a bitchin picture of it!


12/09/09 @ 06:09:01 pm, Categories: Life of Baka, 531 words, 1240 views  

So, with the help of my re-discovered Ultimate Power Source, Ritalin, an old obsession has become something real.

For years I’ve wanted to learn how to play Mahjong. Even before anime like Akagi aired. I couldn’t wrap my head around it though, it took too long to figure out, so all I ended up doing was trying to make a hand that looked like it matched enough to be worth something. (I am not kidding.) This usually ended in disaster. This interest in Mahjong would keep resurfacing…with Fullani…with Akagi…with Saki… But I could never figure it out. Last week, I sat down, and dove head-long into learning how to play, and the information actually STUCK this time.

I know the difference between Itsuu, Honitsuu, and Chinitsuu. I can gauge the likelihood that a tile will come up. I can remember all the Japanese names for the tiles. (Which are based on the Chinese names, and thus don’t use Japanese numbering) I can count the fu and han of my hand with little help from reference materials. And, although almost entirely unnecessary, I know how to set up and play with real tiles.

I felt it most fitting (Not to mention most satisfying for my tactile fixation) to celebrate this small victory by purchasing a set of tiles. First of all, it was difficult finding a set of Japanese-style tiles, with red dora tiles, blank Haku tiles, and no arabic numerals in the corners. There’s this one site, where the guy charges twice what a given set of tiles costs AND charges you ridiculous EMS shipping charges from Japan. (I mean, wtf? I would expect to pay twice as much…if it were ALREADY IN THE COUNTRY.) And eBay which had a couple sets that looked promising. And finally, the last option was buying a set from Rakuten…which would let me get exactly what I wanted, at a fair price…though it was still out of my current price range.

Then I spotted a particular gem on eBay. (Well, okay. This was the second ‘gem’. The first one was a new-looking Japanese bone and bamboo set, with 1 part bamboo and three parts bone, i.e. the high quality kind as opposed to the other way around. But despite its low starting price, it quickly became out of my pricerange.) I e-mailed back and forth with the guy, and it turned out that he had sold the set I wanted (I wanted a set with yellow backs.) but still had another set. So I eventually got that worked out, and several days later it arrived…

What does it say about the influence of anime on me that when I got the package the first thing I did was stack some tiles and see if I could flip over the dora indicator with one finger like they do in Akagi? Well, it turns out you can, but it takes practice to do it consistently.

Anyway, a beautiful set of high quality tiles. They just look damn good. Oh, and the company that made them, they’ve been pretty big in the gaming industry since the 1880s, perhaps you’ve heard of them.

Story Time

12/09/09 @ 05:37:39 pm, Categories: Life of Baka, 907 words, 1171 views  

So, it’s been a while since my last post. I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you a little story…

From kindergarten through second grade, no one could figure out why I couldn’t do any class work well, if at all, despite scoring in the 99th percentile almost across the board in standardized testing. A few psychological evaluations later it was determined that I have ADHD, really really bad.

So, starting in third grade, I was put on Ritalin, and like my father says “It was like a lightswitch". Together with a school program where I would be provided whatever grade level of work I could handle in an effort to let me excel where I could, get help where I needed it, but above all else keep me engaged. It worked. By the end of that year, I was working out of seventh grade English books, and not too long after that I was hitting some high school level curriculum. I remained in this program through ninth grade (Which was a special exception, as the program was normally only K-8, though now, along with their massively expanded facilities, they do K-12)

My family moved further south, and I started attending a regular high school. It was problematic, but I was starting to get used to it…then we had to move again, this time, to Vermont. Once here, I had to get re-evaluated to get a new prescription for my Ritalin, and the doctor said I was ‘too smart to have ADHD’. A diagnosis that for a decade afterwords would be met with horror and derision by counselors, doctors, and psychologists…but never rectified. I couldn’t deal with school. Moving to a new school in the middle of the year was bad enough, not having Ritalin to keep my head on straight was worse, but combined with the fact that the schools here were THREE YEARS behind what I was doing in New Jersey, making it at least FOUR-TO-SIX YEARS behind what I was doing in the special program, it was like spending six hours a day rubbing broken glass and salt into my scalp. A good example of my problem with the difference between reality and schoolwork is flunking Algebra for doing it all in my head and getting the right answers every time, never mind the fact that I completed Algebra when I was in the FIFTH GRADE.

On the last day of school that year, I was riding home on my bike and some asshats in the back of a pickup threw a waterballoon at me while I was going into the turn and I wiped out. Having to drag my broken bike half-way across town while I was cut-up and bleeding did a good job of capping my half a year at Middlebury Union High School, I don’t actually remember if I attended next year at all, but I know it wasn’t long before I said fuck it and never set foot in the school again. Truth be told, I could have shown up for every class for the next two years, done absolutely fuck-all, and still graduated like the majority of the local meatrock population, but I’m not so nearly masochistic as that. And what’s a piece of paper anyway? I’ve known since the age of twelve that I was going to be self-employed, and I at least care about results.

Of course, I failed to take into account the effect of being isolated from my peer-group combined with being a new kid in town. Oh well, fuck it. A little social retardation never killed anyone…that I know of.

With all that more than ten years behind me, I’ve now been trying to get back on Ritalin for several years. First, trying to get re-diagnosed by the very same people who fucked me to begin with, the Counseling Service of Addison County…because they’re basically the only show in town. After years that wasn’t working, they wanted me to get my bloodpressure and other factors under control first but then still wanted to ‘wait and see’. My physician, however, is a bit more understanding. He also wanted me to get my bloodpressure under control, and he also wanted me to at least try one more time to get CSAC to prescribe it because they can ‘provide more complete care’, but he eventually realized that wasn’t going to pan out.

Several weeks ago, he wrote me a new prescription for Ritalin.

It’s one thing to have nothing in particular to do, it’s another thing entirely to be completely at the mercy of your own brain’s rather flighty and whimsical nature. I had almost forgotten what it was like to have my head screwed on straight beyond the vague notion of ‘I used to be able to do shit’.

I would have to say it feels like my brain is wound tight, like the mainspring in a pocket watch. The ADHD, unregulated, basically precludes the completion of any task that takes more than a certain amount of time to complete, due to what I call ‘brain-wander’. With the Ritalin, my brain has achieved a certain amount of tension, it doesn’t wander as much, and when I try to do something, the energy stored in the spring is released and it just gets done.

Now I just need to work on assigning priority to tasks… You’ll see why in my next post.

Adventures in varying stages of dementia

11/19/09 @ 05:49:35 am, Categories: Life of Baka, 656 words, 1190 views  

Wherein no internet and no games makes Baka something-something. See how close humanity came to destruction, after the jump.


On absent-minded preparedness...

11/07/09 @ 03:23:58 pm, Categories: Life of Baka, Magical Blue Smoke, 536 words, 2682 views  

People often hassle me about all the random shit I acquire despite no clear need or desire. I continue to prove the necessity of such hoarding any time an unforeseen obstacle pops up.

Today, I finally received the EPROM programmer I bought from Hong Kong last month. Nothing fancy just a ‘Willem’ type parallel port burner that cost me all of $16…but it should be enough to burn BIOS ROMs for my NEO-GEO boards and things like that. I also bought a USB->Parallel adapter on the off chance that it would actually allow it to work, since none of my computers have Parallel Ports. (My older machine and my father’s machine, which have the same motherboard, have a header for a parallel port at least)

Well, the adapter doesn’t work, of course. So I knew I needed a DB25 at the end of a 26-pin IDC ribbon cable. That isn’t a terribly common thing, except for this exact purpose. I went into the storage room where all my electronic junk will continue to stew down into a mulch for the next thousand years. There, sitting atop a box, is the stripped carcass of an old VTech IBM XT knockoff that someone offered me and I didn’t see any reason not to take it. (And then they also gave me a hugef00k dotmatrix printer and a little CGA monitor) I had recently gutted it for a couple reasons; for one, I wanted to get some steppers and stuff from the floppy drives. I also wanted some random boards to work on with my soldering station.

Sitting in the middle of the mostly gutted skeletal remains of the computer, was an expansion card slot DB25 port with a 26-pin ribbon cable. However, when I removed it, it turned out the DB25 was male, and not female. This struck me as still being rather lucky, since a male DB25 suggests it was a Serial port, and DB25 serial ports hardly ever have all their pins hooked up… (In fact, only the same 9 pins as a DB9 serial port and an additional ground are needed.) Nonetheless, I needed a female connector for the parallel port. I have a DB25 F-F gender changer somewhere, but I haven’t seen it in years… F-to-F cables? Don’t think I have any. Hmm… That’s when I remembered a lot of connectors I purchased off eBay several months ago. Mostly I jumped on it because it had nearly every conceivable type of USB board and cable connector (And lots of them) but it also had DB25 and DB9 male and female ports, both PCB connectors and solder-cup style with bolt-together housings. (Not bad for $25, since that’s what a couple DB15s with housings cost me a while back from Digi-Key)

Now, all I need to do is snip the ribbon cable, and solder the wires to one of my solder-cup DB25 connectors to create the correct header cable for my ASUS M2N32 SLI mobo, and I’m up and running. (But first, breakfast!)

And there you have it, whenever something like this comes up, chances are I will find everything I need amongst the things I have collected with no particular need in mind.

Keeping up with Baka

10/20/09 @ 11:46:57 am, Categories: Life of Baka, Retro Kikaku, 407 words, 1073 views  

Hmm, let’s see here… What have I had going on?

Well, a couple posts ago, I talked about being burnt-out and needing some ‘me-time’. I ended up quitting my ‘job’. The conditions had changed dramatically. I went from holding up my end without killing myself, to there not being enough work that I was actually capable of doing (Because the senior staff joined the junior staff in taking all the easy and low-level support tickets) and me spending so much time trying and failing to meet my performance expectations that I was literally doing NOTHING ELSE with my time. So I just determined that it wasn’t worth it anymore. I basically took two weeks and just completely put it out of my head, and guess what? I GOT THINGS DONE! Not only that, but I got SO MUCH stuff done, that the benefits outweighed what I was getting from the job.

Anyway, still waiting on a couple replacement SRAM chips so I can fix the 1-slot NEO-GEO board I spoke of in a previous post. I was at least able to get my 4-slot board to boot; it used to just show a bunch of random garbage on the monitor… After looking it over like ten times, I finally noticed a missing capacitor. Replaced it, it worked…but there’s something wrong with the graphics still…

I also managed to rewire my standard JAMMA wiring harness with all the modular connectors that an MVS harness has, and make all the additional harnesses that hook up to it, so now I can swap my test rig (a.k.a. the UNCABINET) between single slot MVS boards (And any standard JAMMA arcade boards) and my multislot boards, by only swapping 6 connectors (1P and 2P controls, Video, Speakers, Power, Test/Service) instead of the 50+ connections I’d have to swap to completely switch harnesses. (Now both use the MVS harness’ control-panel harness through a pair of 15-pin connectors.)

I moved all my arcade stuff into a corner of the livingroom and took this picture before cleaning up and moving this bookcase into the corner. The state of my collection hasn’t changed much.

Yesterday, I was watching a free 2-hour web seminar on cartoon illustration and concept sketching… So of course, I couldn’t find my tablet stylus. (I actually managed to find it, after an hour, by bitching on IRC about it in the right channel….it was in front of the monitor)

In Progress...

10/03/09 @ 07:48:56 am, Categories: Life of Baka, 512 words, 1039 views  

Blegh. Yes, that’s a pretty good description for it. Not my greatest day ever.

I found out that a bottle of sumi ink had spilled all over my desk…luckily this only made a puddle on my desk and glued a stand of DVDs together. Considering that all this was buried under half the stuff on my desk, it could have been worse.

I finally got my hands on some Chip Quik, and after fighting with it for a not-insignificant amount of time, I finally figured it out and got some chips removed from one of my ’spare’ NEO-GEO boards, then I removed the bad lower Backup SRAM from the board I wanted to fix… All went well, if not fidgety, putting the chip on the board, only when I booted it up, it turned out I had removed the WRONG SRAM…ontop of which, the one I replaced the good chip with was also bad… So I remove the new bad chip, the old bad chip, replace the good one I accidentally removed, and soldered on another ’spare’… Now both memory locations are coming up wrong in the hardware test…

Fuck it, I said. I decided to try and get my mostly-working 2-slot board fixed…but nothing I found was a problem. There were some areas that looked like bad traces, but there was continuity across them. I also started working on soldering jumper wires into a JAMMA harness adapter I was making, but gave up because that wasn’t going right either.

About the only thing I actually managed to do was take my old damaged KoF’97 cart and replace my original jumper repairs with some proper a proper ‘blue wire fix’ using wirewrap wire. (And it was actually blue, too!) My ass, legs, and back hurt from sitting on the stupid uncomfortable stool, hunched over the worktable, and all I can smell is the goddamn flux I was using.

I was also drawing something as a birthday present for someone, but it turned out I was out of paper to print it on, so I had to order some more…it’ll be here IN A WEEK. (And I already waited several days so I’d have the money to ship it.)

About the only un-terrible thing that happened today was that my mom found me the coolest damn thing. A nearly 40-year old Crosman Mark I .22cal pellet gun. IN THE ORIGINAL BOX! I can tell it’s at least 34 years old because in the middle of 1975 they started making a more idiot-proof version. They changed the design of the CO2 cylinder piercing mechanism, because people apparently couldn’t read instructions correctly, but more importantly…later versions removed the velocity adjustment screw, and damped the gun down to a lower setting. (People were leaving it wide open and complaining about not getting many shots from each CO2 cartridge) So, I’d say that it’s a very suitable gift for me, being the version that isn’t dumbed down. Shoots real nice, too. And it’s solid and heavy as a bastard!

Think I’ll retreat to bed… ~_~

Taking a break.

09/14/09 @ 08:17:38 pm, Categories: Life of Baka, 382 words, 1060 views  

So, I keep saying that I want to be drawing more and stuff, but not really doing anything about it, and just saying I’m too busy with everything else.

I strongly suspect though, that not taking any ‘me time’ to do things I want is why I have been making so little progress the last couple weeks. I’m burned out. Burned out from trying to design things I don’t fully understand. Burned out from work. Burned out from being burned out.

Fuck it. I need a break. I need to just chill and do what -I- want for a while. Because, honestly, practicing and learning to draw better are steps towards my goals anyway.

So, I think I’m going to spend the rest of the day just drawing and screwing around, and tomorrow I’ll work on finishing up the webpage I’m doing for someone. And then? I’m going to just ignore all the things that pressure me for a week or two. No need to accomplish some epic fucking thing, no quotas to meet, just the desire to draw things and take it easy.

I know, that must sound a little selfish. But really, the only thing I have that’s even close to a J-O-B I can’t do in this state of mind. I have people who are sort of counting on me to be doing it, but it’s more about me specifically doing something and not about whether or not it gets done. (If I don’t, there’s others who will.) So I think they’ll understand in this context.

I’m actually embarrassed to admit it, but the catalyst for this was the ridiculous demands of someone in #moe. Ever since last weekend, when I mentioned the nice, filling, pancake breakfast I had, Swift has been harping on me to ‘draw a rori in hadaka-apron making pancakes!’… Yes. Welcome to my world. Today he further qualified it with ‘even if its just a stick figure, you lazy fuck’. I was backed into a corner. :P

So… I did it. Image 1 Image 2

I was basically laughing the whole time I drew this first rough sketch. I was really enjoying it, and that’s when I realized I haven’t been doing that much lately; enjoying things.

Anyway, I want to work more on those drawings, lol

Some stuff.

09/13/09 @ 05:45:57 pm, Categories: Life of Baka, 281 words, 1076 views  

Had some unexpected visitors today, my cousin and her bro. It was a pleasant surprise, but I wish it could have been AFTER I got the apartment straightened up, and not when I was in the middle of it! (You know, that period of time where it's worse than when you started?)

I finally managed to foist the devil tablet upon her. I had meant to give it to her a while back, but I couldn't find the stylus for it.

It's no Wacom, but— if it works —it's better than using a mouse. (Maybe.)

Looking up the post I linked above got me thinking; two years ago I didn't even have my Intuos3, and now I have a Cintiq... And I still haven't done much drawing.

I have no— and yet every —excuse. Quite honestly, right now, I'm working so hard doing all these other things to keep my head above water that there's no time to devote to practicing and drawing things...and I really need big chunks of time or it doesn't go anywhere.

Not the least of these is my working to re-pay Ed_K's more than generous loan, which allowed me to buy the Cintiq in the first place. So, getting that out of the way (Soon) will likely allow for some progress to be made in this regard. I have so much stuff I would like to do that I need to be able to draw for.

Anyway, I have to go lie down and let some allergy meds kick in, my head is so full of dust from cleaning that I'm going to literally break my neck sneezing. x_x

Status Report: What?

09/09/09 @ 12:17:53 pm, Categories: Life of Baka, 340 words, 999 views  

I’ve been so busy with work and stuff I’m starting to lose track of what all I am doing… I’m working on a website for someone, I’m a GM on a private MMO server (A job that I am constantly falling behind on when other things come up…), and I’m getting close to being able to sell a couple of products. (A USB arcade stick controller board, and my vacuum tube clocks)

For about a month now, my right shoulder has felt like it was going to fall off to varying degrees, from me sleeping on it wrong. I notice that it finally doesn’t hurt anymore, so what do I do? Keep falling back asleep until I manage to fuck it up again. Luckily it went away pretty quickly. I had some amusing and interesting dreams though.

The one that stood out most when I woke up went like this:
It was a sort of steampunk setting with airships and stuff, which I basically attribute to reading the latest page of Girl Genius before going to bed.

I was some sort of cadet trainee on an airship equipped for firefighting… I was partnered with this girl who gave everyone a hard time and generally just screwed around. A good example of this would be using one of the ship’s water cannon turrets to hose down some of the other cadets, almost washing one off the deck of the ship. (That may or may not have been me, I have mixed impressions of both watching her do this and almost being washed over the side myself.*) The other cadets resented me for her antics, like she was my responsibility. She saw to it that we met some suitably horrible fate, though I don’t remember how.

The last thing I remember before waking up was walking around in knee-deep water, picking through the wreckage of the airship for food rations.

*Of course, that impression may have more to do with what I strongly suspect was a crash landing in a shallow lake.


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nani sore?
A peek inside the mad, mad, mind of Baka-chan. Animator, artist, hater of stupid people, and evil genius. Look upon the undoing of all order in the universe, and tremble.
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