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8/14/2020 Recording

My main focus this week, other than family stuff, is getting my classes prepped for the upcoming fall semester. They're all online this time around. While my university is going to be having some on-campus class, there's a lot of rules and restrictions involved, many of which would be especially troublesome when it comes to the computer labs that my department uses for most of our classes. To the point where we decided that, although many of us wanted to do some on-campus classes, it just wouldn't work. While I don't mind teaching online (though I do think that some classes work much better that way than others), due to my class list for the fall, I need to record a bunch of intro videos and audio lectures in addition to my usual prep work. That takes a lot of time and tends to wear out my voice. On the plus side, getting it done now really helps keep my schedule more manageable during the semester itself. Especially since I've got that book to work on. I've made a lot of progress, though I kind of doubt I'll be able finish them all this week.

Anyway, not much else to talk about right now. Have a good weekend!


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8/12/2020 In memoriam

No, no one died. I don't even know anyone who has gotten sick lately (from COVID or anything else). There have been a number of stores and restaurants nearby that have closed though. We don't live in a tourist area so local businesses don't have it as badly as some places, but it's still been hard for many of them. I've seen a number of places close up permanently. Most recently, I lost my favorite Chinese restaurant (well, my favorite here in Virginia), HHM BBQ. It had great, authentic food, reasonable prices, and a pretty good location. Unfortunately, it opened not all that long before COVID and I guess they weren't able to build up a big enough customer base in time to survive with nothing but take out. I do wonder why they didn't re-open their dining room once restrictions opened a bit, but they're not the only nearby restaurant to stick with take-out only for the time being. I assume that for some, the owners are really worried about the virus, other don't want to deal with all the additional rules and restrictions, and still others don't think they'll get enough business (while many people around here are eating out again, local restaurants aren't nearly as busy as they used to be). HHM is the place I'm going to miss the most (at least so far), but there's several other restaurants I like that, while I don't have confirmation that they've closed for good, have never reopened so I assume that's the case. There's some others I had wanted to try that aren't around anymore either. Plenty of shops too, though none of the ones I frequented. We also lost a really great nearby clinic a while back, which was rather depressing. I'd like to say that the wave of closures is finished, but I'm not too sure that's the case. Sigh...

See you Friday.


8/10/2020 Light novels

As previously mentioned, I've been reading a lot of Japanese light novels lately in relation to that book I'm writing. Of course, I've read plenty of light novels in the past as well, but they're all I've been reading lately (research and all that). If you're not familiar with the term, "light novel" is used to refer to a certain category of novels. Honestly, I'm not quite sure how Japan "officially" defines what is and isn't a light novel, but from my experience, I'd say that light novels are typically shorter than regular novels (probably 180 - 250 pages on average) and targeted at young adults, though many are also popular with older readers. They span all genres, but you do see an especially high amount of fantasy, sci-fi, and romance. Honestly, they're strike me as the Japanese equivalent of American YA novels, more or less. Before, I wrote a bit about how lots of light novels are being translated in English these days. But even if you've never read one, there's a good chance you're familiar with some of them as many of the more popular light novel series have received anime, manga, and game adaptations. Sword Art Online, The Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Spice and Wolf, Konosuba, and Slayers all started out as light novels, just to name a few. One thing about light novels is that they all include an afterword where the author talks about whatever for a couple of pages. Turns out, quite a lot of current light novel authors (including some very popular ones such as the creators of Sword Art Online and Konosuba) get their start writing web novels. Basically, in Japan there's a major website or two where people who want to write as a hobby create accounts and then post the chapters of their stories as they write them. Others, meanwhile, go on those sites to read said novels. Kind of like web comics. What's really interesting though is that the writing site is either owned or at least closely monitored by major Japanese publishing companies. If a particular web novel gets popular enough, the author is often offered a publishing contract and assigned a professional editor to help refine, improve, and expand on the original web novels before publication. It's a really fantastic system for both the authors and the publishers. I've complained a lot in the past about the difficulties of getting a novel published here in the US, which requires fame, connections, and/or a massive amount of luck, above and beyond the necessary writing skills. I really wish we had something like that here.

See you Wednesday!


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