Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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travels ustrip2019 tech-life

After the Seattle part of the trip, I reunited with family for the final leg of the trip where we all be hanging around the San Francisco bay area. We were based in my uncle’s place in Vacaville, which one of my friends kindly described as “in the sticks”, i.e. basically far away from everything. Like Houston, we had to rely on the kindness of relatives who were willing and available to drive us around.

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movies

First, the spoiler-free review, then more spoilery stuff afterwards. I watched Far From Home while I was… far from home. great movie, lots of fun, and the stakes are a lot higher than the Vulture just stealing some tech off Tony Stark basically a story of Peter Parker the high school student trying to juggle his Spider-Man problems with his high school life, which was one of the best eras of comic book Spider-Man the movie gives us a look at what the world looks like post-Endgame and how weird it is for everyone if you’ve seen the trailers, you know who the “villain” is and you have certain expectations coming in.

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travels ustrip2019

Seattle was the riskiest part of my trip, relatively speaking, because it was my solo leg - I didn’t have any friends or relatives in the city I could turn to in case of an emergency. I had also read online that while Seattle was very much a walkable city, there was a nontrivial homeless population, and some areas may be a bit sketchy after dark. As a friend of mine said though, “sketchy” in the US is probably a lot safer than “sketchy” in Metro Manila.

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grand-prix limited magic-the-gathering

Grand Prix / MagicFest Seattle Photo Dump: I wasn’t actually planning to play much competitive Magic this year, at least not on paper, but when the family planned a US trip in June, I figured I’d take a short side trip to attend and experience a US GP. I had the choices of Washington DC on the 14th-16th (Limited), Seattle on 20th-23rd (Limited), or Dallas on 28th-30th (Modern). After some wrangling with the family’s schedule, Seattle was the one most convenient to go to, and Limited meant I didn’t have to try and put together a decent deck.

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travels ustrip2019

Not much to say about Anaheim, it felt like the town was all about Disneyland and not much else. But then again we did spend our three days there just going to Disneyland, so what can you do? In LA we stayed in the Koreatown district, so everything felt weirdly Asian. Not Asian like living in Asia, but like Chinatown in any other city I guess? The city felt a bit dirty, I’m told the metro elevators smelled bad, and there was grafitti everywhere and a high incidence of homeless people.

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travels ustrip2019

I’m not a big fan of theme parks. I think for the most part they are overpriced and not worth the time, effort or money. And I’d probably never go to one by myself or without one of my nieces/nephews. I understand the impetus of bringing kids to a theme park of course, they really enjoy it. Prior to this trip, I’ve only ever been to a theme park once, and that was in Unversal Studios Singapore with my brothers back in 2015.

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travels ustrip2019

My US trip started on the first of the month. I’ve been meaning to write more regularly about it, but one thing I had forgotten was how exhausting it would be to be a tourist, walking everywhere all of the time. Here’s how many steps my Fitbit recorded during that first week: I finished this week with a bit more than 105k steps, which I’m pretty sure is a lifetime record (though I dont have the data anymore from the Europe trip in 2015 - I suspect that it’s comparable in scale.

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Damn, that was a grind. But it felt super rewarding especially as a free-to-play player since the closed beta, always struggling for wildcards to build the decks. I had never tried going for Mythic beyond the first month, when I realized what a grind it was. This standard format was also pretty dynamic, which meant the best deck changed constantly, so it was hard to be successful by sticking to one deck, which meant a lot of WCs are needed to be able to shift with the meta.

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I remember when playing the original version of Civilization back in the day, the “most advanced” form of government was Democracy, with the only downside of it being you can’t declare war (because you had a senate that would stop you.) The other available forms of government were typically not very useful, but Democracy massively increased your trade output, so most often I would build the Pyramids (a wonder which allowed switching to any government immediately and without penalty), and spend the rest of the game toggling between Democracy and Despotism (for when I wanted to go to war).

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The big TV thing of May 2019 was of course, the much maligned finale for Game of Thrones. I’ve written about that separately here. Most of the US TV series also ended their runs in May. Arrowverse show seasons were littered with poor writing as usual. I rank the seasons in this order: best is Legends of Tomorrow season 4. The reason Legends is the best is that they’re not afraid to be outrageous.

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quotes

“We are, finally, all wanderers in search of knowledge. Most of us hold the dream of becoming something better than we are, something larger, richer, in some way more important to the world and ourselves. Too often, the way taken is the wrong way, with too much emphasis on what we want to have, rather than what we wish to become.” — Louis L’Amour via swissmiss

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pop-culture tv books

After a much-maligned eighth and final season, HBO’s Game of Thrones is done. Unmarked spoilers follow. The eighth season was so notoriously bad, we got petitions asking for rewrites. Here’s how I explained it to a friend after the notorious episode 5: It’s not about characters being killed, it’s about bad writing because they’re cramming. The writers were determined to finish the show in 2 smaller seasons so they’re skipping a lot of necessary character development and characters just do stupid things because the plot demands it.

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philippines politics current-events

The results are disappointing, but that’s only because we expected better. Historically, those who have made it into the Senate did so mostly on name recognition. What does it matter if Diokno had the best resume of all the candidates, if many of the voters did not know who he was? How could he compete against someone who appeared on a hit primetime TV series right up until the start of the campaign period?

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books pop-culture

Continuing with the Wheel of Time re-read! I devoured Eye of the World much more quickly than I expected, finishing the book in less than 3 days. It helps that I had already read it before of course, but I think there’s also a part of me that enjoys escaping into this fantasy world when the real world outlook seems dire. Anyway, the book shows a lot of Tolkien-esque plot influence, especially near the start: Some kids from a backwater village are visited by a magic user and after some troubles are forced on the run from black riders?

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philippines politics current-events

The PH senatorial and local elections are on Monday. I almost didn’t want to write the usual election post, mostly because I was annoyed with and tired of the electorate and the politicians and the system and all that. But we shouldn’t give in to despair. Often when choosing who to vote, it will be difficult to find candidates who align perfectly with your values. You make compromises to prioritize those issues you think are more important.

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books pop-culture

Since I was going to be taking a long trip in a month, I was looking for some books to read on the plane and in airports and whatnot while waiting. I settled on a re-read of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, a pretty good time for it since by next year we may have a TV series from Amazon (hopefully better than Game of Thrones). Side note: Wheel of Time is also why I’m not optimistic that GRRM can finish ASoIaF in just two more books - Jordan took forever and died before he could finish WoT and even Sanderson who took over needed an additional three books to finish the saga.

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gaming wallpapers

I often prefer having a randomly changing background wallpaper, even back in the day when Windows didn’t support it natively and I had to install various plugins to support it. I like the variance! The one I’ve been using recently was this set of wallpapers based on Street Fighter stage backgrounds, which I got from a reddit thread that I unfortunately can’t find anymore (I’ll update this post if I find it later).

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grammar writing

I am, admittedly, a grammar nazi. I think it’s something that comes with being a voracious reader, especially as a child. When you have been reading (and speaking) English so much from an early age, you come to have an instinctive grasp of what is and what is not proper sentence construction. Some sentences just look right and some just look wrong. I’m not saying I have perfect mastery of the English language or anything.

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Someone once described me as a tinkerer, i.e. someone who likes taking stuff apart or putting them together or otherwise experimenting to figure out how they work. This is not entirely inaccurate, though I prefer not to tinker with real world stuff because of my poor dexterity. My tinkering is usually limited to software and tech devices. I’m always willing to try different things to figure out how to get software to work.

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philippines politics

From a friend’s Facebook post: Less than 2 weeks to the elections, I want to share a hard lesson I learned from the previous one. Especially given that I’ve had formal lessons in rhetoric and logic. Do not believe that logical fallacies are fallacies. Or rather–understand that they are logical fallacies, but that the world does not run on logic and so any classroom lessons on what arguments are fallacious have no relevance.

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Roy Tang is a:

roytang.net is a personal site; I post about a random assortment of topics that interest me including software development, Magic the Gathering, pop culture, gaming, and tech life. This site is perpetually under renovation.