Binge Watching Wuxia

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO1000
“Mei Chaofeng (Cyclone Mei” Cedar Park, 2022

I spent most of the day binge-watching the 2017 Chinese television drama version of The Legend of the Condor Heroes. There are 52 episodes in total, and I think I made it up to episode 12 or so. It’s so good!

I am delighted that the characters match (more or less) the image I had when I was reading the books. Even the settings are how I thought they should look. And I am pleased that my favorite character, Cyclone Mei Chaofeng, is so sinister and deadly.

The kung fu moves are great as well – way more complex than I was expecting from a television series. Very impressive.

So far, the plot is sticking close to the books, but they did expand upon things a little bit (in good ways). I just hope that the villains stay villains. There are some signs that one of them might actually become good (please no!!!) but we’ll see.

For now, I am enjoying this series a lot!

Snoopy Baseball Watch

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO1250
“Snoopy Watch” Cedar Park, 2022

I bought a new watch: the Timex Snoopy Baseball Weekender. As MLB’s spring training gets underway, I got excited about purchasing this watch which I have been looking at for a long time. It’s not expensive, but the level of joy it sparks is way up there! I mean, who doesn’t love Snoopy?

I replaced the red strap with a black and grey strap, and it looks great. I’m looking forward to enjoying wearing the new watch for years to come.

Legends of the Condor Heroes

Jiang Yun Xing /Quercus Books

I’ve been enjoying the classic series Legends of the Condor Heroes by Jin Yong so much. I just started book four, A Heart Divided, which is the final book of the translated series. The story is so much fun!

The story is Wuxia, or ancient martial-arts heroes genre. Do you know the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? That is a good example of Wuxia.

When I started the first book, A Hero Born, I was a bit overwhelmed by the list of characters at the beginning. What was I getting myself into? But soon, I was caught up in the story, and the character list came in handy to refresh my memory.

I was very curious as to how they could describe the fast-paced action of the wuxia movies, but Jin Yong (and the book translators) do an amazing job of imaginatively describing and naming the different moves and it’s incredibly fun to follow along. I love the heroes, and love to hate the villains. My favorite character is Cyclone Mei, who is featured in the illustration above. She’s one of the villains, but… it’s complicated! 😀

I read the popular She Who Became the Sun by Shelly Parker-Chan, but didn’t enjoy the story or characters at all. The Legends of the Condor Heroes is way more my type of book.

There’s a Chinese television series from 2017 that I will watch after I finish the books. Besides spoilers, I don’t want my imagined versions of the characters to be influenced by the actors in the drama. I prefer to look to the illustrations (which are sparse) from the book.

For more info, you can read this article from Alan Yu at NPR about Jin Yong and his amazing series.

Okay, back to A Heart Divided!

New Computer for Me

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO1000
“Macbook Air” Cedar Park, 2021

Today I bought a new MacBook Air to use as my main computer. I’ve been using a Dell XPS desktop computer for several years now, and it has been great (and is still running nicely), but it’s a bit slow when working with video, especially 4K.

Instead of buying another Windows PC, I decided to join the rest of the family and get a Mac. Part of the reason was that I have an iPhone and iPad already, so it would be convenient to align my laptop with those. Another reason was that I could support Mariko better whenever she needed help with her MacBook Air (we now have the same model computer). And lastly, it is super-convenient to be able to write text messages using Messages on the laptop! Yes, that is HUGE.

I was worried that configuring a new machine to my workflow would be complicated and a huge hassle, but actually it was very easy. Not only are most of the applications the same between Windows and MacOS (and can be downloaded easily), but starting “fresh” and not copying over all the data from my old computer is refreshing. It feels like a very light and streamlined computing experience not having all that data sitting on the laptop’s hard drive. I still have everything on the Dell, plus two hard drive backups, but I’ve copied the things I regularly access to OneDrive/iCloud so that data is handy.

As for video editing, I am planning on using DaVinci Resolve exclusively. I used it briefly on my Windows machine, and I really liked it, but it kept crashing. With the new laptop, I should be able to use it with no problems! My other main use is photo-editing, and I’ll use the Adobe photographer subscription (Lightroom and Photoshop).

One major bummer I encountered was that when I upgraded MacOS from Big Sur to Monterey, the USB hub I was using lost functionality with the USB-A ports. The HDMI and USB-C parts of the hub still work, but I cannot attach my wired keyboard and mouse to it anymore. This is a known bug and there are numerous posts about it. I just wish I knew about it before I updated! Anyways, I am able to plug in my wired keyboard to the other USB-C port on the MacBook using a cheap adapter I got from Daiso, and I have a Bluetooth mouse on the way. So that problem will soon be moot, however I am hoping an OS update will fix the hub problem so that I can use the old USB ports for attaching my camera and USB thumb-drive.

Overall, I am enjoying using the MacBook Air. It’s very fast!

Cold-Weather Comfort Food

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/2.8, 1/40 sec, ISO800
“Oden” Cedar Park, 2021

I returned from 80° F Southern California sun to a chilly 50° F Texas gloom, but tonight’s dinner was the perfect antidote. A pot of delicious Japanese oden. The traditional 辛子 karashi (hot mustard) was perfect with it, but I also kicked it up a notch by adding some fresh (homegrown by my mom) scotch bonnet to the broth in my bowl. 🌶 I was toasty warm after that meal for sure!