Monday, April 22, 2013


Spring has sprung! But then it got confused yesterday and it snowed, what the hell!? Here, check out some beautiful cherry blossoms, known as 桜 「さくら」 "sakura" in Japan.

Cherry Blossoms in Furukawa

As I write this, I'm standing at a "Free Wi-Fi Desk" at the Narita Airport. Gotta go home to take the MCAT. Again. Lol. I've taken it a few times already, but I studied this time more than last time, so I (should) have an improved score than before. But it's also been a while since I've last taken science courses, so it's possible that I've forgotten a few things that were inherently internalized way back in the day. It was fun reviewing general chemistry, as I was reminded of my high school chemistry classes.

My original plan was to apply to medical schools this summer, but to be honest, I'm not completely confident in my application. Schools get around 3000+ applications, and the class size is only about 150. That means that only 5% of the applicants actually end up matriculating to that school! But I believe the actual acceptance rate is about 20%, so that means three fourths of those invited to attend end up declining and going to another school. Anyway, in order to improve my chances, I think I should attend a full fledged pre-med post-bacc program. That is, pre-medicine, post-baccalaureate; a program that is held at a school of medicine to prepare students for matriculation into medical school. I have big dreams, but they require many small steps.

So besides studying and researching medical school, what have I done this past week or two? Oh, yeah, I bought the PS3 Initial D game. That's fun. Unfortunately, the Initial D series underwent a "cleansing" and got rid of many cars, including my beloved GT-Four. But that's okay, they still have RX-7's, WRX's, GT-R's, and Evo's. They even threw in an RX-8 as free DLC.

Also game-related, I'm finally an official PlayStation Plus subscriber! Yay free games! Really, though, I needed that service to copy my saves into the "cloud" so that I can sell my PS3 here in Japan and not worry about my files when I use a PS3 in the US. I love technology. Who knows what kinds of services and such we'll have in another 10 years?

I've noticed that I'm semi-addicted to Gran Turismo 5. And I think I've figured out why. It's not as simple as "I love cars." It's "I love cars and the game does a good job of giving me a reason to turn it on every day." And that reason is...a daily reward. Basically many games today (especially on iPhone/iPad) reward players for playing (or at least turning it own) every day. On iOS, the rewards usually cycle every 5 days, so when you play over the course of 30 days, you get each reward 6 times. In GT5's case, the reward is an incremental bonus to earned in-game currency and experience points, up to 200%. On day 6 and later, the number simply remains at 200%. But if a day is skipped, the number drops back down to a normal 100%.

I think modern RPGs should take advantage of this system. I played World of Warcraft half a decade ago and their system was to reward people when they logged at at certain locations ("Inns") by giving bonus experience points. And back then, they starting "Daily Quests" which allow a player to complete the same quest, once per day, and earn the same rewards (usually a hefty amount of gold). This killed the game for me, as I ended up grinding the same handful of quests for 3 weeks straight, playing the game only one to two hours a day and trying to figure out how to most efficiently earn the most gold in the least amount of time. And because it was the same quests, I grew bored of it quickly. My fault, yes, but it's their fault for trying to take advantage of players' greed. Hah.

Anyway, gotta pack up! I saw some pretty sakura on the way here. Here is a shot from my town! It was snowy and rainy yesterday. How peculiar.

Snow, Rain, and Sakura

Word of the Day: 咲く 「さく」 "saku" or "to bloom."

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