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2012 New Years Resolutions
I'm sitting here sick on New Years so I'm not going to write too much. I just got back from spending Christmas at home in Vancouver - Mom flew me back with her air miles because she wanted the whole family to be together. Dad came back from Edmonton too, so it was really nice to have everyone together again. Things are pretty rough right now with Grandma K not doing so well. Elise stayed in St Catharines with the kitties though so that was tough. It was a pretty boring Christmas for her and I sure missed her and the kitties. Would have been nice if she could have came back as well but we definitely didn't have the money with me losing my job at the end of the year.

I can't believe we've been in St Cats for over a year already. I finished up my work on Xmen and got that game out the door, but I'm now in temporary layoff as SK tries to figure out their next plan. I don't plan to wait around, no idea what will happen, so I'm looking for work and strongly considering moving back to Vancouver after Elise finishes her courses at Brock in April. At the very least we want to move out of this city. Even if I ended up going back to SK, I wouldn't want to stay here any longer.

Since last Xmas we've added another addition to the family - Raistlin. He's another cat that we adopted from the shelter, and he's been a good companion for K this last year. They can both be a huge pain in the butt sometimes, but we're still happy to have them around (most of the time). Raisty is completely different than K, but they seem to complement each other pretty well. Raisty is a super cuddler, much to Elise's delight, so he ends up taking up half the bed every night.

Here's to hoping 2012 will be an upward climb as Elise and I escape St Catharines, I find a new job, and Elise continues her studies.

New Years Resolutions

1) Write a gaming blog. I have free time until I get a job. I have a fancy Ipad app to update on the go. No more excuses :P

2) Excercise. I'm not exactly talking about jogging every day, just trying to make healthy choices. Walk up the stairs every day, run around with the kitties, walk if it's a nice day.

3) Japanese Kanji. Keep up with my reviews and learn five new ones every day. Should only be about 15 min. a day.

4) Read both gaming and non-gaming articles daily. Again, lots of useful Ipad apps should make this resolution easy to keep!

2011 New Years Resolutions
 2011 is here, and things have changed! Definitely did not think that life would have taken me to St Catharines Ontario, but there you go...

But let's start at the beginning. Back at the start of 2010, I was still working at NLG wondering if I would get a contract extension or not. I had a feeling there wasn't enough work left to transfer all of the LDs to different projects, and I was right...end of February I found myself unemployed. I don't hold it against them though - I think they were pleased with my work (I was, anyway!) and I had a great time working there and getting some great experience at a professional gaming studio. The timing wasn't too bad either...Elise and I were able to enjoy the Winter Olympic festivities. I was still working during some of it, so it was exciting going downtown to work everyday and to be amongst the excitement and energy that was all over the city. Some of the highlights included going downtown with my Mom and Elise and watching Canada get their first gold medal at Robson Square. Seeing the Olympic Torch and Olympic Flame was exciting, and we generally just had a lot of fun walking around in our Olympic mitts and scarves and taking in the atmosphere. I'm definitely glad we happened to be in Vancouver this year!

After NLG, I was trying to get another level design gig but nothing came up right away. I ran into Simon and Kevin at Yaggers one evening (probably for a First Friday VFS event), and they mentioned that Propaganda was still actively looking for a couple more people to join their QA team. I enjoyed doing QA while I was at EA, and even though I really wanted to continue with Level Design, the opportunity to work with two of my good friends at Prop was too good to pass up. I applied, and was happy to accept a job offer. Working there was a lot of fun despite the occasional monotonous QA tasks. I loved the team I was working with, and there was a strong positive energy throughout the studio - you could tell everyone was on board trying to make the game a success. I worked a 6 month contract which was up at the end of September, but as the end of September approached we were offered a contract extension till the end of the year. I had just accepted, when I suddenly got a callback from Silicon Knights, offering me a job in St Catharines as a level designer. After discussing it with Elise, we decided that it was too good a job offer to pass up, especially as they were offering to pay for some of our relocation expenses to move across the country. I'm still not sure if it was the right choice to make - I feel bad that Elise had JUST started school at UBC and she was forced to drop her courses. Also, the move was a huge ordeal (WAY more trouble than going to Japan!!) and we ended up going way over our budget. Nonetheless, I've been working here at SK for a few months now and at least from my career perspective it was a good choice - I have a relatively secure position in a field I love, and so far I like the people I work with as well. Now I just hope that Elise will be able to find something to propel her forward on her career path as well (which will have to be schooling pretty much...unless she wants to plow a field or something here in St Catharines -_-)

The last and most recent change in our lives has been the adoption of Kindle - a five month old kitty we picked up three weeks ago. We picked her up in the Niagra Cat mobile when they were having a "sale", trying to get as many pets as possible in homes for the holidays. She was the last, solitary kitten out of 8 that had been adopted that day, and it turned out that her name was "Kiki" and she had been returned by her previous owners after only three weeks. We were a little concerned as to why she had been returned, but the adoption agent insisted that she was completely healthy. We took it as a sign, and brought her home with us - and now we spoil her rotten. I'm not going to bother to post any details - Elise already has a ton of pictures up on her journal :P

So to sum it up, I'm together with my love Elise, at an exciting new job, in a new locale, with a new member of the family. I do miss my family and friends back in Vancouver, but otherwise things are good right now, and I'm looking forward to what 2011 will bring!

As for my resolutions, I'm going to keep it short this year...it hasn't changed much from last year. Well actually, that's not entirely true - Elise and I have been cooking a lot more lately, and packing leftovers for lunch! So at least I can cross those two off the list. Elise has also taken the initiative on our budget tracking, so maybe I can cross that one off too...even though I should help her with it a bit more :P

2011 New Years Resolutions

1) Write a gaming blog.  I've stressed "gaming blog" two years in a row now, and nothing has come of it. However, these last two years I've felt that it was a necessary tool to get a job, and I guess I always kept putting it off, feeling like it was work. Maybe now that things are more secure I can do it just for fun, at my own pace.

2) Exercise.  I actually get a decent amount of exercise walking to and from work these days, but I still need to do some push-ups and sit-ups as well.

3) Start studying Japanese again.  Hmm, haven't seen this one for a while! Now that my job is secure, time to get back into language learning.

4) Keep in touch with my friends back in Van.  I am soooo socially lazy...gotta keep in touch. I'll be back someday!

2009 New Years Resolutions
Hmm, where did 2008 go? According to my livejournal I haven't done anything since reading Halting State last January. Interesting...

Well, I'm halfway through my time at VFS now. I'd blog about it, how it's exceeded my expectations so far and how I'm psyched about the second half, but I'm too tired from staying up all last night with my sister playing Rock Band and Portal. Lol...still can't believe my Dad picked up Rock Band for us for Christmas. Today I went for lunch at Northern Dynasty in Aberdeen with Kim, Floria, and Pedro, which was nice - haven't seen Kim or Floria for a while. Afterwards I went to Granville Island to check out DragonSpace for a gift for my Mom - managed to find her a dragon figurine to add to her collection. I was originally looking for some Windstone dragon egg bookends that Elise and I saw at Millenium in Metrotown - they were really cute and I think my Mom would have liked them. They had sold out though, and maybe it's a good thing - turns out they cost over $200. Maybe after I get a real job ^_^

Also went to Cheesecake etc. to pick up a...err...cheesecake...for my Mom - we'll celebrate her birthday tomorrow - a couple days late, sure, but Tiff was busy on Monday.

For New Year's Eve, Elise and I are relaxing at home - I picked up some ice wine on the way home - always wanted to give it a try, but I didn't realize we don't have a corkscrew. Doh! Anyway, enough mindless ramblings, i'm too tired to write anything coherent right now...moving on to new years stuff.

Last Years Resolutions:

1. Get a fulltime job until VFS.

a. Game-industry related.

b. Teaching-related but higher paid

Success! Sort of, anyway...managed to work for EA for a few months in QA. Not for as long as I would have liked, but better than nothing!

2. Continue studying Japanese

a. At least one hour every other day - reading, listening, or studying.

b. Kanji - at least 15 every day.

Utter failure. But I've been so busy with school it's impossible to think about Japanese, so I have an excuse at least. But i'm not giving up on Japanese yet!

3. Exercise

a. Push-ups - 50 in the morning, 50 in the evening.


4. Prepare for studying game design.

a. Read game design news sites every day.


b. Take out book(s) on game design from the library.

Success, sort of. Took out a good one from UBC but only got halfway through it before school started.

c. Start a weekly blog blogging about game ideas.


d. Write detailed reviews on games played and how I would change them myself.


5. Keep pace with Elise’s book reading and beat her by the end of the year.

Success...I think? I ready so many Korean books I was actually winning. We'll see how sneaky she was though...she might have ready a bunch of kids books and plays when I wasn't looking.

2009 New Year Resolutions:

1.    Game blog - Start a blog blogging about game ideas. Review games played and how I would change them myself.

Seriously, this one's important. Definitely going to get moving on this one this year. At least one update a week!

2.   Exercise - Push ups - 50 in the morning, 50 at night.

Let's try this one again, shall we?

3.    Cooking - Cook at least twice a week, even when busy.

Hopefully Elise can cook at least twice a week too when I'm busy - we'll save lots of $$ on eating out.

4.    Budget - Keep track of spending.

Make use of the geeky expenses application that Elise downloaded on her IPOD. Or perhaps just make an Excel spreadsheet.

5.     Productive web surfing - Spend a little time everyday browsing websites and reading useful articles, especially those related to the game industry.

Gotta find inspiration and keep up to date on the industry. FARK does not count.

Halting State review ★★★★
I bought Halting State on a whim after my Mom told me to pick a book I wanted so she could give it to me as a Christmas gift, and I decided I'd try to find a sci-fi book seeing as how I hadn't read one in ages. Anyway, I stumbled across Stross's book on some top 10 list on the net, so my Mom and I went to look for it in Chapters a couple of days before Christmas. It turned out that they had one more copy left on the shelves, so we snatched it up and I'm quite happy now that I did.

Its geeky premise is what drew me in - a virtual heist takes place in an MMO involving "several orcs and a dragon in tow for fire support". I've always been fascinated by the development of virtual worlds as well as the virtual economies that go along with them (perhaps in part because I turned a hefty profit while playing UO way back in high school).

One thing I was intrigued about right off the bat was the second person narration involving different characters. Now that I've finished I have to say I quite enjoyed it - it was a nice change of pace. Lots of people complain that it's too disorienting, but I thought it was a great idea and pushed forward the whole theme of being someone else in a virtual world. I did feel, however, that it lost a lot of its impact later on as it was sacrificed in order to move the plot forward and wrap things up.

I was also impressed with Stross's ability to create a technology-driven near future that was both scary and believable. The idea of virtual reality blending with actual reality is always fun to read about as it really does seem plausible the way our technology is advancing, and Stross portrays it very well with his amusing concepts such as Copspace as well as the use of gamers to act as unknowing soldiers of espionage. I also thought the abundant techobabble in the book was sufficiently tied to reality so it didn't come across as being simply, well, technobabble. I have to admit Sue's Scottish accept was near-impossible to understand some of the time, but it just adds to the charm of being a totally different character. I never felt completely in the dark as to what the characters were talking about.

The only thing I wasn't too impressed about was the climax and ending of the book - I thought it lacked punch and could have been done much better. I was gearing up for something mindblowing, and while the overall story was above average, I was never exactly on the edge of my seat. The whole zombie thing was amusing, but I thought even that could have been done better and been a lot more funny. The Nigerian scam letter at the very end almost made up for it though.

Others have criticized the book for its use of brand names, acronyms, and other "trendy" words that could easily be outdated within the next year, yet alone the year 2018, but this is precisely why I enjoyed the book so much - I got most of the references (including the geeky ones). If you don't get the references, then I'm sure you won't enjoy the book nearly as much - this definitely isn't a "classic" that will stand the test of time, but for now I think it's a great (albeit geeky) read. I'll definitely be checking out some of Stross's other highly acclaimed books in the future.

New Year Resolutions
Well it's the New Year again. Back home in Canada now with Elise - sitting at her Mom's place. Didn't do too much for New Year's...spent the night at my parents place and watched Hairspray with them (Elise has been obsessed with it for the past while now...I think I can sing most of the songs by heart). Was nice and relaxing but it might have been nice to party a bit or at least drink... maybe next year.

We just arrived back in Canada last month after things didn't work out so well in Japan. It's a new chapter of our lives now so it's also very appropriate to be making New Year resolutions. First of all I'll look back at my previous ones and see how I did last year...

1 - Study Japanese everyday.

Fail. Sure, I studied Japanese at made some decent progress, but not as much as I should have. X.

2 - Start cooking Japanese food.

Yay, something I actually did. Well, I stopped cooking new things after I found a several dishes that we liked...but at least we were saving money but not eating out so much.

3 - Find some additional students.

Never had more then 2 students at a time, but at least I got the job at Tanita - it was actually quite enjoyable working with the salarymen (and woman).

4 - Clean our dishes right away. Clean our apartment once a week.

Clean dishes - check! Most of the time, anyway. Clean apartment - fail. Better then before, but never did clean the whole place once a week.

5 - Update my journal.


As for this year's resolutions, here they are in all their glory

1.       Get a fulltime job until VFS.

a.       Game-industry related.

b.      Teaching-related but higher paid.

2.       Continue studying Japanese

a.       At least one hour every other day - reading, listening, or studying.

b.      Kanji - at least 15 every day.

3.       Exercise

a.       Push-ups - 50 in the morning, 50 in the evening.

4.       Prepare for studying game design.

a.       Read game design news sites every day.

b.      Take out book(s) on game design from the library.

c.       Start a weekly blog blogging about game ideas.

d.      Write detailed reviews on games played and how I would change them myself.

5.       Keep pace with Elise’s book reading and beat her by the end of the year.

I'm sure things will work out for Elise and I this year, I just hope we get settled into a nice groove sooner rather then later.

Lately I've been trying to decide what to do with my life career wise, and I came across some free online tests and other relevant information that helped to determine that my  "Myers-Briggs" personality type is ISFP.

ISFPs generally have the following traits:

  • Keen awareness of their environment
  • Live in the present moment
  • Enjoy a slower pace - they like to take time to savor the present moment
  • Dislike dealing with theory or abstract thought, unless they see a practical application
  • Faithful and loyal to people and ideas which are important to them
  • Individualistic, having no desire to lead or follow
  • Take things seriously, although they frequently appear not to
  • Special bond with children and animals
  • Quiet and reserved, except with people they know extremely well
  • Trusting, sensitive, and kind
  • Service-oriented; they're driven to help others
  • Extremely well-developed appreciation for aesthetic beauty
  • Likely to be original and unconventional
  • Learn best with hands-on training
  • Hate being confined to strict schedules and regimens
  • Need space and freedom to do things their own way
  • Dislike mundane, routine tasks, but will perform them if necessary

The ISFP is a very special individual who needs to have a career which is more than a job. The middle of the road is not likely to be a place where they will be fulfilled and happy. They need to have a career which is consistent with their strong core of inner values. Since they prefer to live in the current moment, and take the time to savor it, they do not do well with some of the more fast-paced corporate environments. They need a great deal of space and freedom if they are going to function in their natural realm of acute sensory awareness. If they give free reign to their natural abilities, they may find a wonderful artist within themselves. Almost every major artist in the world has been an ISFP. Since the ISFP is so acutely aware of people's feelings and reactions, and is driven by their inner values to help people, the ISFP is also a natural counselor and teacher.

I've been thinking lately that the thing I would enjoy doing the most is something that will allow me to channel my creative energy into something I enjoy, such as video games or music. Luckily my Myer-Briggs personality type seems to confirm this! ^_^

Possible Career Paths for the ISFP:

  • Artist
  • Musician / Composer
  • Designer
  • Child Care / Early Childhood Development
  • Social Worker / Counselor
  • Teacher
  • Psychologist
  • Veterinarian
  • Forest Ranger
  • Pediatrician
(information taken from www.personalitypage.com)

Designer, composer. Yay. I think I'll pass on the pediatrician occupation.

And another description:

Quiet, friendly, sensitive, and kind. Enjoy the present moment, what’s going on around them. Like to have their own space and to work within their own time frame. Loyal and committed to their values and to people who are important to them. Dislike disagreements and conflicts, do not force their opinions or values on others.

Seems to suite me.
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Happy New Years!
Wow, I can't believe it's New Year's Eve already - my time in Japan has really flown by. I'm taking it easy this New Year's Eve - Elise and I are chillaxing in our cozy little games room in our apartment, watching Japan's traditional New Year's special on TV - the Red and White Year-End Song Festival, or "Kohaku Uta Gassen". It's an event which has been going on for the last 60 years (radio-only at first), and although it has recently dropped significantly javascript:void(0);
Rich textin popularity, it is still a pretty huge event. There sure are a huge variety of performers, ranging from the current trend leaders in jpop / jrock to traditional enka acts. I guess its not surprising since the show has to cater to all ages. But then you throw in some wacky Japanese variety-show type humor and it makes for some very interesting viewing. The enka acts are extremely extravagent ordeals, with the performers dressed in huge, lavish outfits and dancers all around them. They must have difficulty trying to figure out what to do to top last years performance (the same singers have been on the show like 30+ times). It makes me wonder if it was always this way, or if this is now the only way to keep people interested -_-. One lady had to sing balanced on this huge pedestal with her dress extending all the way down, held by dancers at the bottom who would shake it up and down creating waves (reminded me of the big parachute games we used to play in elementary school...lol). Anyway, Elise and I did consider going out to a temple or shrine, but it's just too much trouble with the packed transit (plus I think our local train shuts down at its usual time at midnight, which kind of makes things difficult). We'll probably head out tomorrow and see if there are any events going on in our area.

Anyway, time's running out...this year is almost over! I need to write up a quick list of New Year's resolutions. Here goes...

Robyn's New Year's Resolutions

1 - Study Japanese everyday.

Yes, I have been studying Japanese, but my level has not improved as much as I'd hoped it would by this time, especially for speaking and listening. I'm going to review at least one chapter every day for the rest of the holidays until school starts, and then study at least 1-2 hours every day afterwards.

2 - Start cooking Japanese food.

With Elise's brother and Pedro visiting, we've fallen back in to the habit of eating out every night, which is hurting our budget significantly. Now that our "vacation" is over, it's back to cooking for ourselves. It's time to start learning to cook some new Japanese dishes. My resolution is to try cooking at least one new thing every week, on saturday or sunday night.

3 - Find some additional students.

I haven't been trying hard enough lately finding new students - I've got a good start, but it's time to get serious again.

4 - Clean our dishes right away. Clean our apartment once a week.

This means sweeping and vaccuming - dust and dirt builds up very fast.

5 - Update my journal.

Yeah, it's been a month and a half since I updated...time to get my act together again. I have lots of pictures from David and Pedro's visit, so time to get cracking and update my journal again. Minimum one update per day until I get caught up.

It's 11:53 here now, time to bring this post to a close. Happy New Year to my friends and family! I hope everyone is having a safe and enjoyable holiday!

[edit] - 12:54am

It's now 2007 - time to add in my top 5 lists for 2006!

Robyn's Undisputed Top 5 Lists 2006

Best Games:

3. Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)
2. Civilization IV: Warlords
1. Heroes of Might and Magic V (PC)

* -  Wow, I really didn't play any games this year - what's wrong with me? I could only come up with a top 3 - pretty sad if I do say so myself. To be fair, there are a lot of PS2 games I really want to play that i'm sure would have made my list - Final Fantasy XII, Valkyrie Profile 2, and Metal Gear Solid to name a few. Perhaps i'll still play them someday.

Best Movies:

Honourable Mention
Superman Returns

5. March of the Penguins
4. Life is Beautiful
3. Crash
2. Little Miss Sunshine
1. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Worst movie
X-Men: The Last Stand

* - I had to cheat this year and look at Elise's movie list to decide my top 5 - I was too lazy to make one myself...oops. It was a tough choice between Final Fantasy and Little Miss Sunshine, but the FF fanboy in my heart won out in the end. Oh, and for anyone who thought  the horrible pile of crap that was X-men was better then Superman Returns, I have no words for you (and this is coming from someone who loves the x-men comics and thinks superman is a really lame hero).

Best Books:

5. Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts - Samuel Beckett
4. Black Rain - Masuji Ibuse
3. The Woman in the Dunes - Kobo Abe
2. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
1. A Wild Sheep Chase - Haruki Murakami

Biggest disappointment
A Feast for Crows - George R.R. Martin

* - All but one of my top 5 this year were from school - I definitely had some great literature classes. And a play even made the list - how about that? Am I an intellectual or what? ~_^ My biggest disappointment this year actually wasn't that bad - I still gave A Feast for Crows 4 stars. But all it really did was extend the story, nothing advanced and nothing particularly new or exciting was introduced - quite a disappointment. Hopefully the other "half" of this book will be better.

Best quote from last year:

"Indeed, if I make one New Year's resolution, it will be to read as many books as Elise this year!"

Done and done.

Just finished watching "Just Like Heaven" with Elise. It was one of the movies she rented from zip.ca - it's a romantic-comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and some guy. I remembered seeing the preview for it and thought it looked really bad - something about a guy falling in love with a ghost or something...looked really cheesy. Nonetheless, being the dutifull boyfriend that I am, I watched it with her tonight (while we ate the crappy kind of dumplings for dinner...*sigh*). Anyway, to my great surprise, it actually turned out to be quite good! It had its share of romantic cheesiness (although most of it was only at the end), but even the most painful moments were quickly followed by some intelligent comedy to make everything bearable. I laughed quite a bit throughout the film, and the dialogue and acting was top-notch. For a romantic comedy it was probably the best I could hope for...4 stars from me. I guess I'll have to apologize to Elise for my bitching about having to watch it... She enjoyed it quite a bit too, although she pretends that she doesn't like all the girly moments. Oh yeah, and it had the Napoleon Dynamite dude in it too playing the same type of character...he was pretty funny, as usual.

Now i'm going to play some more Heroes V, brings back lots of memories...such a good game! Well, the dialogue, story, and voice acting are pretty atrocious, but that was never the games big draw anyway. Besides, it's bad enough that it's actually really amusing to watch... Too bad I need to buy the game if I want to play it multiplayer with my friends. I might though; i've only played it for a couple of days, so I'll get some more gametime in before I decide.

Also, Elise and I can watch the 7th episode of Haruhi tonight! Yay! It's chronologiclaly episode 8 (so annoying!) and since we've already seen 7 and 9, it must be a filler episode. Hopefully it will still be entertaining. There better be a good reason for them doing this!

book review - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - ★★★
Got around to reading the second book in Adam's crazy series. Elise snatched my book from me and read through books 2 and 3, so I decided to do the same. I enjoyed it - some of the things he thinks of are just hilarious. My favourite part was probably when they actually met their meat before their dinner - that was a truly disturbing image. The other great scene was with the spaceship that holds all the "useless" people from society going to colonize another planet. Classic. Like the first book, the best thing about it isn't the story, but rather all the crazy asides he has that make you stop and go "hmm". I just wish it did have a more coherant story and more interesting characters - aside from Marvin the Robot, I found them all to be very flat and bland. Nonetheless, a solid read - i'll be reading the final book for sure.

book review - A Feast for Crows - ★★★★
Now that school is over i'm finally able to read some books of my choosing. Obviously, the first thing to do is go back to my roots and read some fantasy! Obviously my first choice was George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows, since I got it for Christmas (i've only been waiting for 5 years for this damn book to come out!). I was afraid that it's been so long since i've read fantasy that I might not enjoy it as much as I used to, but it turns out I had no reason to fear, Martin's book didn't disappoint. Well, that's not entirely true...I only gave it 4 stars, and after a 5 year wait a 4 star rating is a bit of a letdown, but at least he didn't crap out completely. It was fairly exciting all the way through with some interesting turns and twists, although nothing as big as in the previous books. Cersei was pretty much the "villain" of the book, and it was amusing to watch her frantic attempts to secure the throne, doing whatever it takes, trusting no one and jumping at every movement in the shadows. Jaime was really annoying though, perhaps the most boring character to read about; his whining self-pity and pathetic attempts to retain some sort of honour was just sad. Brienne was entertaining, although in the grand scheme of things her role seemed pretty pointless. Arya had her moments, but this religious group she's joined is annoying beyond belief. Speaking of religion, it seems to be starting to play a larger part in the story as well, which kind of scares me because I find the whole fanatical religious zealot concept to be very boring. The last character was Sansa, who was more entertaining then usual I have to say, perhaps because she was with Littlefinger who is always interesting to watch. So all-in-all it was a good read, but the biggest issue I have with the Martin is his decision to split the book into two; this is only half the book and deals with only half the characters. Not only that, but he introduced a crapload more main characters and so many more story arcs that it leaves my head spinning at times. Not to say they weren't interesting; I enjoyed almost all of them, however, it's starting to feel like it's becoming increasingly more epic at an exponential rate. I'm beginning to worry that the resolution (when it finally comes) is going to be abrubt and unfufilling because Martin's simply taking on too much to handle. The other thing that is odd is how Martin deals with the "supernatural" aspects of the book; for a 700+ page novel, they are far and few between, hovering on the edge with an aura of doom and destruction, making an appearence mostly at the end of the book (like before) as a cliffhanger. It will be interesting to see what the hell happens when the shit finally hits the fan, so to speak. Hopefully all my fears will be unwarrented; I'm still eagerly awaiting the second half. It deals with some of my more preferred characters, although it is also extemely annoying that I have to wait even longer to find out what happens to the characters I just read about. Oh well, such is the life of a fantasy fan...