Friday, April 29, 2016

In The End, I'm Taking The Train Because My Lady Won't Let Me Greyhound.

I had to listen to Akatsuki. I was a fool to think I could get away with riding the Greyhound to head to Canada without having a ride from hell. In a vision, so the story goes, Lady Akatsuki, in her experience, unbeatable state with a conduct worthy of a heavy cruiser or battleship, told me this, and I quote...

"You need to back my sister ship Inazuma. She'll take you there. She's done it before. As a train called the Coast Starlight, she can take you to Seattle and let her sister Ikazuchi carry you the rest of the way to Vancouver as a bus. Going Greyhound," she says, "is wasted money and is a ride for fools and plebs who steal a living being talentless autistes on the lam. Besides, you always wanted a peachful ride, right? Destiny awaits you at Union Station. I know this for a fact. If you choose to be stubborn, I have an anchor that I can put to use on someone other know who.

"Commander! I'm making you take the train, and you'll love me for it so much that you'll never want to let me down ever fact, when you come home fully refreshed, you'll let me do whatever I want with you so you can enjoy my company more!!! And...I'll even let you pat my head. Ufufu..."

That's what she told me in my vision. The sweetener at the end closed the deal, big. And the person she referred to, if you already figured, is her ladyfriend Hibiki, or Verniy. A bilingual phoenix that plays the foil, the fool, the uke...I had to change my choice once the funds were available. I leave on Oct. 5, return on Oct. 11, four nights of lodging, and now, an itinerary to build.

I never wanted to do Greyhound, anyway. What the hell was I thinking, brushing with the possibility of taking the hound to Vancouver and back? What's up with that? Actaully, the Amtrak Thruway Coach is all the Greyhound I really need. And I have never ridden Coast Starlight, ever. This train is too important and is akin to melting all over Inazuma as an admiral in KanColler. I need a long-distance train ride in my life so that I can realize how important America and Canada are to me. I want to melt all over the amazing scenery and slices of life.

So I am extremely pleased that I made the right choice and reserved the train. It is my hope that I can muster enough money from my work to cover for lodging, foot, and visiting a few other towns, like, perhaps, Nanaimo. Something like that.

Thus, to Lady Akatsuki, I offer you my thanks for pointing me in the right direction. In the end, Amtrak was what I always wanted to use. Richie Havens was right all along: "There's something about a train that's magic. All Aboard America. All Aboard Amtrak." And Akatsuki simply is unbeatable.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Les Dogues Days Are Over!

By winning their sixth Coupe de la Ligue trophy on Saturday, Paris Saint-Germain came the most decorated mens team in the history of French football! An incredible trophy haul for a club that celebrated its 45thanniversary at the beginning of the season… far behind Marseille (founded 117 years ago), Monaco, Saint-Etienne and Bordeaux (97 years) and Lyon (66 years).
The current Paris Saint-Germain CEO and Chairman is now ahead of his illustrious predecessor Michel Denisot (eight trophies), with 11 titles won since his arrival in 2011. Under the direction of Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, the capital club has won four Ligue 1 titles, one Coupe de France, three Coupes de la Ligue and three Trophées des Champions… with a chance to make it 12 titles when Paris take on Marseille in the Coupe de France final on Saturday, 21 May at 21:00 at the Stade de France.
He was already the most decorated coach in the club's history, after last season's historic quadruple, but on Saturday he claimed his tenth title with Paris even though he has only been in charge of the team since June 2013. The coach with four Ligue 1 titles with Paris now has four Coupe de la Ligue titles to his name after winning in 2009 with Bordeaux and in 2014 and 2015 with Paris, equalling Didier Deschamps' record (Monaco 2003, Marseille 2010, 2011, 2012).
Nicolas Douchez, Salvatore Sirigu, Maxwell, Thiago Silva, Gregory van der Wiel, Lucas, Blaise Matuidi, Javier Pastore, Adrien Rabiot, Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti, Ezequiel Lavezzi (who left for Hebei China Fortune in January) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic became the most decorated players in Parisian shirts. These thirteen players lifted the 11th title since their arrival at the club (four Ligue 1 titles: 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016; one Coupe de France, in 2015; three Coupes de la Ligue: 2014, 2015 and 2016; and three Trophées des Champions: 2013, 2014 and 2015)! They pulled ahead of current assistant coach Zoumana Camara, who won ten titles as a Paris player (three Ligue 1 titles: 2013, 2014 and 2015; two Coupes de France: 2010 and 2015; three Coupes de la Ligue: 2008, 2014 and 2015; and two Trophées des Champions: 2013 and 2014).
*The two most decorated French clubs:
1. Paris Saint-Germain / 29 titles: Cup Winners' Cup (1), Ligue 1 (6), the Coupe de France (9), the Coupe de la Ligue (6), the Trophée des Champions (5), the Intertoto Cup (1), Ligue 2 (1)
2. Olympique de Marseille / 28 titles: Champions League (1), Ligue 1 (9), the Coupe de France (10), the Coupe de la Ligue (3), the Trophée des Champions (2), the Champions Challenge (1), the Intertoto Cup (1), Ligue 2 (1)

Friday, April 08, 2016

I Decided To Make A Big Sacrifice Today Ahead Of A Big Journey.

I have to decided to say so long to Pangya until September. After doing a run which saw very little yield in terms of Gacha rares, the choice was made by me to leave the game, uninstall the client, and forward the money from my work to my trip to Vancouver. It's a long-awaited trip, and a trip that I have chased for months but now, I am ready to finally work towards this journey to Canada.

To me, Canada is a very, very wonderful place. It's got knowledgeable people, the food is supposed to be pretty good, poutine is everywhere, and finding a Tim Horton's is not that difficult. I've decided to start my spending on the first phase, and that is transportation. In the past, I took the Crucero and the Greyhound to visit Hayward and the Bay Area, and I took those buses to go to San Diego. This time, with the Coast Starlight being too expensive for my taste, I have chosen to go Greyhound again, Economy class, round trip to Vancouver.

Because of this, spending on Anime Expo will have to be in the diminutive. If I need to spend anything, it has to only be on food. I don't need to get Rainbow Dash or Pinkie Pie via plushies. I don't need to buy shirts or other plushies, especially if there is no plushie of Fubuki from Kancolle. I already have Akagi anyway, she's a sweetie pie. I still have to do my work for AX and the Access Control department. If I become selected as a Ranger, I'll do my work cause I already have one year of experience down.

I also have to renew my Flickr membership. More money that has to be channeled away. I am very dependent on my performance with The Stoppage Time. I need to publish my articles constantly and consistently so that I meet the salary requirement. There will be times where I just focus on my writing, where I focus on my nonprofit work, where I focus on my sister's work, stuff like that. With Pangya not taking away my money until September, my funds are now freed up to finance this trip.

I am excited about getting my travel plans started. I don't need to be a big spender, I just need a ride and a place to stay when it comes to visiting Canada for what will be the first time in my life. I need to do this now, because next year, I expect to have to make payments on my college loans that are being consolidated. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so I want to make this visit something I will never forget. I just hope my mom, my dad, my sister, and everyone I know understands my decision to commit to this trip.

So I decided to make a big sacrifice today ahead of a big journey. I may have to make some more in the future. In fact, the Christmas bonus check at the Bar Foundation, assuming I am still on the books there by then, will go to my parents, all of it, to make up for all the grocery runs I couldn't do in April, May, June, July and August for them. This is how much I am hedging everything towards this visit, and I will do my best to get this done.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Rangers Are Back In The Scottish Premiership!

Rangers may have rubber-stamped their rise from the ashes on Tuesday night but Mark Warburton knows only too well the phoenix is yet to take full flight. The champagne, which remained on ice after Raith Rovers’ late equaliser on Saturday, was no doubt swigged once Dumbarton were beaten 1-0 at a packed Ibrox but not savoured for too long and it is unlikely the Scottish Championship trophy will be paraded at the front of a cabinet that contains 54 top-flight titles

The scars of the past four years, the financial meltdown in 2012 which led to a tumble down the divisions, the trips to Alloa, Elgin and Berwick and the indignity of a Ramsden Cup final defeat by Raith Rovers in 2014 are permanent and while a sense of relief among supporters greets Rangers’ return to the Premiership, inevitably thoughts immediately turn to bridging the gap to Celtic, who drew 0-0 at Dundee, and are closing in on a fifth successive title.

That may seem ambitious but after a four-year journey that has included 104 wins, 26 draws and 16 defeats, that accounted for Ally McCoist after nearly three years of laying the foundations for last night’s achievement, Warburton has no interest in smelling the roses.

He knows the importance of thinking ahead and doing so while showing the frugality in the transfer market that has reaped reward this season. And he appreciates there is more at stake than a place in the final when Rangers face Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final on Sunday week, not least after Neil Lennon recently questioned whether the former Brentford manager is ready for his first taste of the Old Firm derby which provoked a defiant response: “If you can’t deal with that, don’t be in the business.”

Indeed, even before Rangers’ promotion was confirmed Warburton was asked whether his side would provide a credible challenge to Celtic next season and, his response to Lennon aside, he chose his words carefully. “My expectation is that we have to go into that league and be highly competitive. I view highly competitive as that we’ve got to be a very, very tough team to beat and to break down and that we go into games expecting to win them. I’m not going to sit here and say we’re not going to challenge for the league. I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to win the league.”

What is clear is that Warburton’s recruitment over the summer will be fundamental to meeting expectations. Relying on his Football League knowledge his signings of Martyn Waghorn, James Tavernier and Wes Foderingham have proved successful, as has Harry Forrester, prolific under Warburton during their time together at Brentford and set to commit his long-term future at Ibrox after arriving in January.

Financially, Rangers may be in far calmer waters compared with 2012 but the cost of returning to the Premiership was apparent, as was the supporters’ boycott of the previous board, when reporting operating losses increased by 11% to £9.04m for the financial year to June 2015 last month.

Warburton is confident, however, that he will received funds to strengthen a squad, adding that “the board haven’t said no. Far from it. They have been really supportive”, but it was perhaps telling that he chose to use his programme notes for Tuesday’s match highlighting the widening gap in spending power between Scottish clubs and those in England, stating before the match: “If we keep ignoring it, we are going to keep on paying the price.”

Rangers may be back among Scotland’s elite but, as a former city trader in London, Warburton knows the real value of a bargain.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Villanova Wildcats: 2015-16 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Champions

HOUSTON -- One good shot deserved another.

Kris Jenkins of Villanova wasn't about to be outdone.

Jenkins overcame the shock of watching North Carolina's Marcus Paige hit a double-clutch 3 to tie it by spotting up behind the right side of the arc and draining a 3 of his own at the buzzer to lift Villanova to a 77-74 victory and the national championship Monday night.

What a shot -- and what a game.

The second-seeded Wildcats (35-5), had a six-point lead with 1:52 left, but watched it slowly trickle away. It disappeared when Paige jumped -- and with Ryan Arcidacono running at him -- double clutched and pumped one from beyond the arc to tie the game at 74 with 4.7 seconds left.

After a timeout, Arcidacono worked the ball upcourt and got it to Jenkins, who swished it from about two steps behind the 3-point line.

"Kris told him he was going to be open, Arch made the perfect pass," Villanova coach Jay Wright explained. "Kris lives for that moment."

Jenkins' range is anywhere in the gym, as he showed earlier in the tournament by nonchalantly draining a shot from the edge of the midcourt logo.

He never had a doubt.

"I think every shot's going in, and this one was no different," he said.

After being thrown to the floor by his teammates, he got up, leaped over press row, hugged his family and shouted: "They said we couldn't, they said we couldn't, they said we couldn't."

Oh yes, they could.

It's Villanova's first title since 1985, when Rollie Massimino coaxed a miracle out of his eighth-seeded underdogs for a victory over star-studded Georgetown.

Hard to top this one, though.

Jenkins, who was adopted by the family of North Carolina guard Nate Britt, now has a spot with Keith Smart, Lorenzo Charles and anyone else who ever made a late game-winner to win the whole thing.

Paige finished with 21 for the top-seeded Heels (33-7), who came one agonizing shot short of giving coach Roy Williams his third national title.

Instead, this one belongs to Villanova, a team full of scrappers, grinders and also-rans, who proved you don't have to have a roster full of NBA-bound one-and-dones to win a title.

Before Jenkins did his thing, it was Phil Booth -- one of the many unheralded players on that Villanova squad -- pouring in a career high 20 points to give the Cats their late six-point lead.

Booth's force turnaround jumper with the shot-clock blaring and a free throw from Josh Hart gave Villanova a 70-64 lead with 1:52 left.

But Carolina never quits. Paige sandwiched a 3-pointer and a putback around Brice Johnson's bucket to help the Tar Heels stay within striking range. Then, he tied the game and the Carolina fans went wild.

It looked like overtime.

Thanks to Jenkins, it wasn't.

"Every kid dreams about that shot," Arcidacono said. "I wanted that shot, but I just had confidence in my teammates and Kris was able to knock down that shot."

Friday, April 01, 2016

Nevada Wolf Pack: 2016 College Basketball Invitational Champions

RENO, Nev. -- Nevada's Tyron Criswell has won several individual awards since he started playing basketball in his youth.

But it took until his last college basketball game to win his first team championship after Nevada's 85-82 win against Morehead State in the ninth College Basketball Invitational on Friday night.

"It feels good to win an individual award, but when you win a big one with your team it feels so much better, especially when you know you're team's been through so much," said Criswell, who scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Nevada freshman Cameron Oliver added 20 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Lyonell Gains led Morehead State with 17 points, shooting 8 of 13 from the field.

Winning the clinching game of the best-of-three series wasn't easy for Nevada.

Morehead State's Xavier Moon nearly tied the game with a last-second half-court shot in overtime that bounced off the rim.

"With the half-court shot, from my vantage point, I said, `Here we go: double overtime," Nevada coach Eric Musselman said.

Criswell helped erase Morehead State's lead and put Nevada (24-14) in position to win with 13 seconds left in overtime.

After Nevada guard D.J. Fenner's pass to guard Lindsey Drew was deflected under the basket, Criswell grabbed the loose ball and made a layup to put the Wolf Pack up 83-82.

On the Eagles' next possession, DeJuan Marrero missed a layup and Fenner grabbed the rebound. He converted both free throws before Moon's last-second shot missed and the game ended.

"Mission accomplished: send our seniors out the right way," Musselman said. "For our freshman (they) can sit back and think about all the experience they got ... to springboard us into next year ... all those guys got better obviously with all these extra games and extra time together. Even myself, I know I'll be a better coach coming back next year getting these extra games."

Nevada's ability to get to the free-throw line was vital. The Wolf Pack shot 37.5 percent from the field, but converted 39 of 45 shots from the line. Morehead State (23-14) shot 46.7 percent from the field, but only converted on 6 of 13 free throws.

Nevada's crowd of 9,043, far surpassing the season average (6,416), proved important for the Wolf Pack as it did throughout the CBI tournament. Home teams were 13-3 in the tournament.

Nevada led by as many as 12 points with 15:06 left in regulation, but Morehead State rallied.

"That's what we did all year," Morehead State coach Sean Woods said. "We don't stop playing. We are going to play until the final buzzer and that's what we did tonight."

With six seconds left in regulation and the Eagles down two points, Marrero went to the free-throw line and banked his first shot off the glass. He made the second free throw.

Oliver missed a 3-pointer to win the game in regulation.

They're Getting Desperate, I Know It. And That's Fine.

So I have noticed that parts of the Madoka Magica Collab is now a permanent addition to Pangya Global as a result of Korea still not getting their act together. (The only ones missing are the cut-ins and backgrounds.) And a number of other popular RNG boxes are permanent, including Lucia Hair Kits, Arin Gift Boxes, 2015 Lucky Pouches and 2016 Papel Boxes. The Fro Comet is now a permanent addition to the Pangya Shop. And now people can smack Kyuubey all they want and they have unlimited time to get the Ultimate Madoka Set and/or Madoka Magica Club Set.

This is great news for new players and for veterans who didn't get a chance to have the RNG in their favor. Pangya Team should know that they are losing their players to Winning Putt and how do you get them back? Make some of the limited-time content permanent. So this is a nice touch but I am not going to go after the Madokami right now but I will at some point.

What I am satisfied about is the drop rate for the Hana Grand Prix that is taking place as of this post. I finally got not one, but two rares, in 35 special coins. It only took me 35 on my main account to finally get a couple of rares, albeit they are Ancient Dark Wings and WT-PEP, and on my alternate account I got the 2012 Swimwear. As of this post, I have a rate of 3/125. So about evert 40-50 attempts I get something, although the rates might be nerfed later on, since I have already won something from this event.

Last year, I only won once out of over 100 coins on my main account, the Blue Lagoon Set. RNG was not friendly to me last year. This year, it's changed a bit, and now I have won three rares across both accounts. Hopefully I can win a few more as Hana remains my main character while playing the game.

Another great thing about the Madoka collab being permanent: both my accounts can now have all of the normal clothing sets for Hana, Lucia, Arin, Kooh and Nell. However, they need to also bring back the cut-ins and backgrounds to complete things. So the shop could actually use another update to ensure that there is a wide variety of stuff that can be purchased.

For now, I am very relieved that some of the timed RNG items are now permanent and I got three Hana rare items in the Event Grand Prix, but room for improvement is exactly that, and they will need to bring back some more items from the past and make it permanent. Pangya Team is getting desperate, I know this for a fact, and that is completely fine by me.