Lifestyle Update – Grinding it out in Japan

There are some weeks that are better than others. Lately I’ve resigned to just do my best at work and study Japanese, and enjoy FF and life at a casual pace. It’s been pretty much SSDD lately (same shit, different day), only without the connotation of shit being unenjoyable. I find that it’s rare when you’re at a point in life where you can just enjoy every day, and not have to worry too much about the past nor the future.

I’ve been meaning to throw up some pics from a recent trip to Tokyo, but technical complications led that being impossible until this week. So this week I’ll post some junk from that trip, as well as some stuff that’s been going on this week.

School Festival
I don’t watch as much anime as some of my friends, but they told me that they’ve seen the traditional JP school festival portrayed in many an anime.  I never saw it in one, but I got to experience it, at least.  There are two main festivals during the year.  In the fall, there is the sports festival.  That’s where all the major (mainly athletic) clubs compete with other schools.  My school doesn’t do baseball and soccer.  But in the Spring it competed in basketball, kendo, judo, table tennis, volleyball, badminton, and probably some others that I can’t remember.

The Fall festival is called  a “cultural festival.”  I mentioned to my JP friend that I felt it wasn’t so “cultural”–at least not in a multicultural sense.  She agreed.  It’s strictly a Japanese culture kind of thing.  The only exception at my school this year would be the presence of a single Chinese food booth.

This is a school flyer that they hand out before the festival.  Preparations take place days and weeks in advance.  At the bottom right it says “32; today too amidst the peaceful Teizan (my school’s name) atmosphere, we can do it, yeah? ; Yes we can!” Or that’s a rough translation. As for “Yes we can!” ..that being bob the builder / president Obama’s trademark, it pretty much became an instant catch-phrase here.  Anyone in Japan will understand the phrase and probably smirk if you say it int he right context.  The reason there is a big sun there is because this is the 32nd Teizan school fest, so they take “3 2” which in JP is pronounced “san ni” and get “sunny.”  So there were a lot of ‘sun-related’ decorations at this school fest.  On the left is a basic floor guide for the school.  It tells you where to go for what type of food.

As my friends might have seen in various anime, they do set up lil cafes in the classrooms.  The cafes have different themes.  As this falls around halloween-time, some of the festivities/cafes might be halloween-related, but my school didn’t do anything like that.  My friend also predicted that some of my students would cosplay, but only one did.  One of my English1 students, Haruna, dressed up as Ichimaru Gin from Bleach, her fav char.  I had no idea it was even her until she got right up in my grill and told me–the costume was so good.  She’s also an artist, and fairly good.  There were a couple classrooms set up displaying the various arts and crafts of the students.  One of the rooms was manga related, and here is some of Haruna’s art,

Shoujo style, ne?  I’m not sure who the other artists were.  The language barrier only gets me so far :(, but here are some other samples,

It looks so sad ; ;.  I just want my students to be genki, not depressed!

Yes, blame me that they spelled ‘night’ wrong :/.  If there’s one thing that non-English-speaking Japanese people have in common, it’s that when they write something in English they tend to not check the dictionary, nor consult a native speaker of English.  You see all sorts of ridiculous spellings and sentence structures on public signs written in English.  Chances are, if it’s in public and written in English, it’s going to be your standard Engrish.  Either way I think they did an excellent job on these.

I wish I could just take pictures of everything, but it would just be weird :/ aside from privacy issues.  But I can try to use description.  A gate was raised at the entrance of the school, made of cardboard, styrafoam, etc. There was a pikachu rendition attached to it.  Outside near the front door of the school were several different booths each with different types of food.  There was yakisoba (fried soba noodles).  There was yakitori; shishkabobs of different varieties, including chicken and octopus.  Mario’s (the teacher at this both whose nickname it bears has a rather prominent mustache; hence the name) Chinese booth had dumplings (like an American dumpling you’d find at a chinese restaurant, only more tasty and like 4x bigger) and sweet yogurt.  There was another booth with boiled eggs and something else I ate but am still yet to identify..

Inside were multiple cafes.  For some of them, the students were dressed in normal (not school uniform–they don’t do uniforms at my HS) clothes.  Others, the girls were dressed in white dress shirts and ties.  In some of the cafes, some of the girls dressed up in almost complete maid outfits.  Have you ever heard of a maid cafe?  Just google “maid cafe, Akihabara Tokyo” and you’ll know what I mean -.-.  Crapes are popular in Japan, so some students were selling those.  Likewise, cakes and pancakes.  Some students walked around with soft drinks and candy.  As mentioned before, aside from food there were art booths.  Not only was there manga, but there was also a photography display.  Some students were displaying or selling clay or leather work.

There were constant musical performances in the gym throughout the day.  There are two bands at my school, and both do rock and roll.  There was also a girl doing solo performances (with a teacher as pianist).  The bands played both light and hard rock.  An example of what they played would be Zetsubou Billy by Maximum the Hormone (the 2nd ending of Death Note).

The drama club won first place for the most outstanding content at the festival.  They did an hour long performance.  The play was set in the WW2 era.  Unfortunately, I can’t say much about the play as my Japanese isn’t good enough yet to have understood it.  As far as I could gather, this dude was having epilectic moments where he had visions of a mysterious woman.  But I don’t know what significance this had with the rest of the story.  Interestingly enough, the male roles were all played (rather well) by female students.  For anyone that doesn’t know, there’s something here in Japan called Takarazuka Revue (google’able as well).  Females playing male roles is nothing new in Japanese drama, and is even quite popular.

The school was also decorated with many multi-colored streamers.  There were also plenty of these little flower-looking wads of paper everywhere–made from like, the material you’d find in a gift bag.

After it all, I was so full. The students try to pass around coupons or otherwise try and get you to buy their goods.  Byt he end of it, I’d tried just about everything.

School Outing
Occasionally, the staff at a high school will have a nomi hodai (sp), or otherwise called a ‘drinking party.’  It’s goign to be going on this weekend, and I think I’ll go to this rather than joining my ALT gai-jin brethren at the halloween party this year.  None of the other English teachers appear to be going, so I don’t know how it’ll turn out.  It was difficult enough to read the invitation and make a reply.

This is written in almost 100% kanji.  It’s crazy.  But I made a bit of a study out of it.  My Kanji’s gotten so much better now.  I don’t know how many I know now–maybe 150, maybe 300.  To be able to read 90% of a newspaper, you need to read 2,000.

Tohoku University International Festival
Now this is what I would call a “cultural festival.”  This weekend, a friend of mine invited me to go. She turned out to be several hours late to Sendai, so I spent that time shopping and browsing around.

I ran into some of my students at the station.  This isn’t the first time–I don’t if it’s chance or what.  Sendai’s a big city and it’s not like I know a lot of people, but one always tends to run into others at the local station, it seems.  If it’s not students I see, it’s other gai-jin I know.

The first things that my dork-self went to go buy were work-related supplies.  I’m not even gonna get into the details.  But then I went shopping for clothes–work related clothes :/.   There’s a store here called “Uniqlo.”  It’s kind of like a staple clothing store here, similar to the gap, though the styles are different.

While I was browsing for clothing in Sendai’s AER (shopping) building, I happened to notice there was a small anime convention going on.  It was 6 bucks to get in, but I decided to check it out.

These are pages from the catalogue that I got.  Essentially, what artists do at these conventions is line up table after table into big rolls, and display their work in their own personal sections.  Low and behold, it turned out that the majority of the work was hentai-ecchi related.  What seems strangest to me is that this is somewhat acceptable for large portions of the female population.  Many of the artists were female, and their work was charming to say the least.

Finally I grabbed an avacodo dog, stuffed my shopping junk in a $3/day locker (more on that later), and chilled at the Taito Station (major franchise arcade) for awhile until my friend came.

looked kinda like this

We took a bus from Sendai station and arrived at the Tohoku University International Festival.  There were many many different kinds of people there, though most of the variety was from the Asias.  Food was available from Malaysia, India, Thailand, the Phillipenes, Indonesia, Jakarta.. I could go on and on.  I tried a sort of Phillpene gruel.  I don’t know how to describe it.  It was like southern grits or a cornmeal of sorts, except delicious.  It had chickena dn vegies in it and was slightly spicy.

There were also multiple kinds of dance on stage.  Among some that I saw were Indian, Thai, and Latin style dances.

Since my friend was pretty late, it ended up closing within an hour after we got there.  So we stalled until the international dance party that was to happen later.  She showed me around her university a bit.  Architecture and feel-wise, it reminded me of mine (University of Florida) back home.  The only thing that stood out was the Japanese Tea House, constructed in classic Japanese architectural design, with an exquisite garden to boot.

After dicking around for a bit, we came across a band of musicians from Okinawa.  For those that don’t know, Okinawa is in the south.  The far farrr south.  Think of this as the “Hawaii of Japan” (in one of their own words).  Okinawa is the home of the Ryukyuu people.  These are ~Japanese people, but the language is supposedly a fair bit different.  And the people on these Islands come from multiple descents–not just Japanese (Chinese, Korean, and Thai being some examples).

They showed me some of their instruments.  They had a samisen decorated in snake skin (I’m sure by now this entry is simply riddled with grammatical and spelling related mistakes), which is like a Japanese guitar, and a sort of box-drum.  I’m not sure what the deal w/ the drum was, but the player would sit on it, and depending on where they struck it, and how far up or down they tilted it, it would make a different sound.

They did a full-blown performance for us.  I was not prepared for how epic it would be.  I don’t know how quite to describe it, but the dance looked like some mix of coreographed (sp) kung-fu, and hip-hop dancing.  They performed for about 10 minutes, music and dancing and all, just for me and my friend.  The dance and song seemed to be dedicated to Okinawa and it’s splendor–specific references to its sea and sky.  I don’t know what else to say.. words can’t really describe it.

Eventually we made our way to the dance party.  There were a fair bit more westerners at this than at the prior festival.  I wonder just how many different nationalties were present?  Somewhere between 1 and 2 dozen would be my guess.

Tohoku University’s international culture is definitely interesting.  It’s not as if my university was not international.  But something felt different here.

Something that I’ve found quite interesting is the fact that all these people speak English.  Perhaps it’s why they speak English that’s interesting.  I know that it all boils down to America being a superpower, and the influence of Brittain and the spread of English in the 1800’s.  But it’s interesting that it seems as if most of these people aren’t learning English to speak specifically to people from native English speaking countries.  They’re using it to speak to…anyone o.O.  Namely, most often, other Asian/Oceanic dwellers.  To (roughly) quote someone that I spoke to “I’ve been here for a couple years, and will probably be here for several years more.  I have no interest in learning Japanese.  I get by with English just fine.”  I found it interesting that his perspective was so much different than mine.  I know what he means by getting by with a dictionary, survival Japanese, fluent English, and otherwise to fill in the gaps with body language.  For him, that’s fine and it can eventually get him whatever he needs when in this country.  But for me, it seems ‘very difficult’ to not be able to speak Japanese.  Difficult and embarrassing.  For me, I want to be able to read everything and speak to everyone.  For him, he couldn’t care to really communicate with people–he’s here to work on his physics research.

But it’s not just this impression that I get.  More and more, it’s become evident to me (although I knew it before), that people don’t learn English as a second language to communicate with Americans or Britts, etc.  They learn it to be able to speak with /the World/.

There’s a strange kind of independence that you feel when you’re not in your own country, and among others from many other lands that are, too, foreigners to the land.  You get the feeling that things such as genetics, nationality, language, culture, and location begin to blur and become arbitrary.

As for the dance floor itself, heh.  Japanese clubs and dance parties are so much difference.  People don’t dance close up together.  They dance alone or in groups.  The music they played ranged from 80’s western music (think MJ), to hip hop from earlier in this decade (think 50cent and lil john).

Unfortunately, after the night was done, I followed the advice of some drunk friends and ended up taking the wrong train (go me :( ).  By the time I hopped on it, it was already about midnight (the trains stop going at around that time), so by the time I got off, it was too late to re-correct my route and go home by train.  I ended up taking a taxi for about $30 and going back to Sendai.  Then I went to a Bagus Internet cafe and stayed for about $20 for 9hrs.  (more on the convenience of Internet cafes in a bit)

Tokyo Trip

Playing on a PC at Bagus Gran Cyber Cafe, Shibuya, Tokyo

Original architecture of Tokyo Station.

Common ad for Marlboro black menthols here.. makes it hard for me to quit

Tokyo Metropolitan govt. building

Shinjuku (iirc), one of the busiest districts in Tokyo

More Shinjuku

More Shinjuku.  Not only do they have a mock “Big Ben”, but there’s also a miniature of the Statue of Liberty in Odaiba.

A common Tokyo arcade. This isn’t actually a good picture.  It doesn’t really do any justice to the “competitive feel” you get at some of the arcades.  At some of them, when like 8 dudes are going at it in Tekken 6, and 8 other crazy dudes are entering Gundam cockpits to prepare for battle, you get a really lively feel; something akin to a nerdy fight club.

Common commercial toilet.  Sometimes public ones are also this advanced.

I have no idea why these are so popular in some areas..

I think this was taken in the sleezy area of Shinjuku.  Even though some districts, like Shinjuku, are kind of upper class, they’re not without their sleezy areas.  There were lots of gentleman’s clubs around the region of this photo.  Shortly after we took this I was passing by a gent who didn’t look me in the eyes but said “sekkusu..” under his breath as I was walking by, I guess urging us to follow him as inconspicuously as possible.

Shibuya.  This pic is for Leonstrife.

For another friend.

Tenshodo sighted? (feeling nerdy right now) This was in Ginza.

Me sighted?  (guess we were pretty bored that day)

Shinjuku Gardens, a scenic tourist attraction.

Right outside the nearest station to central Harujuku, one of the fashion capitals of the world.

A fetching outfit from one of Harujuku’s many unique outlets.

No tout!

Shibuya maybe?

Travel Secrets (Internet Cafes, etc)
If you don’t have a lot of money, are traveling light, and have a party that doesn’t mind roughing it, I will share with you one of the biggest secrets of urban exploration and tourism.  Well, I suppose it’s not so secret if you know a fair bit about Japan, but if you don’t know much then here is my advice.

Don’t stay at hotels.  Youth hostels are a cheap alternative, but you have to book them months in advance.  The answer is to stay at internet cafes. This will cost you between $10-30 dollars a night depending on the length of your stay and the quality of your “room.”  This is the ultimate baller deal.  You get a shit-ton of manga and magazines that you can rent for your stay, no additional charge.  There are free movies (porn included, if that’s ur thing).  You can buy snacks, and some cafes even allow you to purchase full course meals.

There are free drinks.  This is one of the most epic parts.  I think these places cater to people who wish they coudl be 8years old their entire lives.  I know that every time I go to a Bagus Cafe, I’m always on the strawberry milk right away.  They’ve got that as well as banana milk.  Cold soft drinks including cola and calpis (this is like a kind of sweet JP gatorade), hot and cold tea, milk tea, coffee, ice coffee, espresso, etc etc.  Oftentimes there are free unlimited ice cream cones.  And free cereal with an ample supply of sugar (I call this the ‘gerbil bowl’, because you have to basically go to the machine and turn this crank and it spits out the chips).  There’s, of course, internet.  Often you’ll get a pc, a ps2, and a tv.  Depending on your deal, you might get a selection of various games/mmo’s.

That’s a pretty sweet deal, getting all that for what’s usually $10-20.  However there is a bit of a catch.  You don’t really get a room, lol.  You get a high walled cubicle.  Generally, for us, it’s ok though.  Most of the Internet cafes will have the “flat” option, where you get this padded leather flooring and a leather chair/pillow thing.  It’s plenty comfortable for the weary traveler.  The other option is the open seat.  This is like your basic quality lean back computer chair.  I’ve slept in one of these… I much prefer the flat option, lol.

Oh yeah, and most of the computers come equipped with FFXI.  Though even if you bring your security token, go ahead and enjoy playing on the JP POL :(.  Even for me, being able to read katakana, it was difficult.  No windower, and I couldn’t get macros nor typed commands to work.  I did an exp party as bard and rdm and played decently well, but had to manually select everything from the menu, reading the katakana, and do manual stave changes.  You will also find that they have FFXI guidebooks.  They’ll be on various subjects, such as crafting, endgame, or general.  But of course, they won’t be in English.

But even if you do have to sleep in a padded cubicle, the other perks and the price really make these cafes win-win for some people.  I should note that there’s a really nice ambiance.  Likely, the walls will be painted black and there will be no windows.  People are always quiet and the staff always helpful and courteous.  There’s usually soft music playing in the background, such as Jazz.  It’s a really comfortable atmosphere.  Oh yeah–there are also showers, and massage chairs that you can pay additionally to use.

I’ve got many pics, but as they’re on my friends camera I only have a couple for uploading here atm.

This is Maboo, that we stayed at in Shinjuku.  But there are many other types of Internet Cafes.  My favorite is Bagus.  Another nice one is “Personal Room,” which is the following,

So this would be the personal room.  The picture a bit up with the label that says “Ryx”, the picture of the anime dude in the suit jacket, is essentially their mascot.

This isn’t really an Internet cafe.  But it’s an option.  Basically depending on your traditional Internet cafe, you might be able to stay 6-9 hours in either open seat or flat, for $10, or might have to upgrade from open seat to flat, or otherwise 6 to 9 or 12 hours, for a price of $20.  The deal you want at the personal room is about $30 (on the blue sign above, you’ll see that it’s 3k yen for 12 hours).  There are a number of good thing about the personal room and other places like it.  Firstly, it’s an actual /room/.  It’s a shitty room, but one nonetheless.  You get a small bed and a little pillow, and a space with a computer chair and your computer.  Now, we were highly interested in using it as our mock hotel.  But it so turns out that most people (I think) use these places as some kind of fap-box?  Essentially you pay up front, and then some dude will ask you to select some number of DVD’s from their selection down in the lobby.  I tried declining kindly, but he simply repeated “3 DVDs!”  Ok ; ;.  Well I accepted and carried up some TV dramas they had (heroes) and maybe a couple of…other things.. (hey, when in Rome).  Not only this.. but they give you a complementary fap can.  There is no turning it down, they stick it in your bag along with your room card and dvd’s.  Sorry if this grosses anyone out :( but hey, I’m reporting.

But these are your options.  You can pay possibly $10 a night for a full nights rest in a computer chair.  Or you could pay possibly $10 for only 6 hours of sleep in a flat.  Or you could pay $20 for a full 9+ hours in a flat.  Or you could go to the personal room and pay $30.  Now, let’s compare this to hotels.  The cheapest hotel I could get my hands on was $65 a night.  Obviously the quality of the room was leaps and bounds above a cubicle.  Only you don’t get all the free drinks, games, etc.  And in addition, hotels are less flexible.  You have to check out by noon.  At an Internet cafe you can come and go as you please.  And one more bit–oftentimes you’ll find Internet cafes right in the heart of the city.  Discount hotels will usually be a bit farther out.  Really though $65 is not terrible, but when you’re on a budget trip, you want to save as much as possible.  More importantly though, this was a rare find.  Normally a cheap hotel will be barely less than $100/person/night.  Standard ones will cost anywhere within $100-200.  Some of these make for a really nice experience though.  If you want to stay at a traditional Japanese Inn, where you can eat Japanese cuisine, bathe in a hot spring, sleep among walls of shoji and floors of tatami, there’s nothing wrong with that–it’s just a bit expensive.

Final note on this: where do you put your stuff?  If you have several suitcases and bags, and if your Internet cafe stay is only 9-12 hours, do you just lug around your stuff for the rest of the time?  Doesn’t sound very fun.  Well, fortunately, lockers are very popular in Japan.  All of the major train stations will have spacious pay-to-rent lockers lined up, and they are easy to find.  They’re usually $3/day and can hold perhaps a big suitcase and a shopping bag or two.  Other bigger ones might be available for $5.  You’ll get either a key or a key code, and you can come back and retrieve your stuff later.  If your stuff has been in there for over 24 hours, you simply need to put in additional money before you can get your stuff out.

So going this route, it is very very possible to stay in Tokyo for $23/night as far as base expenses, some food (cereal, ice cream) and drink (soft drinks etc) being included.  This is great as a base.  Tokyo is still expensive, and you’re going to need money to get around by train, bus, etc.  Food will be pricey.  Everything will be pricey.  But having a cheap place to stay is an essential start.

As I don’t have all my pics on me right now (friend is still uploading), I’m not gonna bother finishing this up or editing.

At an arcade in Shibuya.  Dk, but I’m really amused by stuff like this

School Dress Style
Most junior and high schools still do uniforms.  I went out to a new shopping mall today and I came across a store that should have looked all too familiar to me.  This is precisely how my kids dress,

Real California surfin’..

Randomness from life in Japan

This is where I’ll dump Japan/Japanese related stuff that might be mildly interesting or humorous. Much of the content here is recycled from my previous blog: Thief, FFXI, and other unimportant matters.

July 14th, 2010 ケイタイ は 気をつけて ね!
Today at my high school there was a presentation on the ‘harmful effects of けいたい (keitai :: cell phone) usage at school.’

I can read katakana slowly but I caught the worlds “online game” (オンライン ゲイム) and “final fantasy” (ファイナル ファンタジ) on the presentation screen.  I’m guessing that was a mistake.  I don’t really know what’s out there for FF cell phone wise.  I thought there were talks long ago of releasing something which allowed you to manipulate your FFXI account while on the cell phone long ago, but nothing came of them.  And as far as I know, that’s the only FF online game.  Perhaps they labeled a single player game by mistake, such as this one, … , as seen on this site.  But maybe not.  I don’t really know too much about the FF world outside of XI.

May ’09,  2010 Kirin :: キリン,
means “giraffe” in Japanese.  I was surprised to find this out today.

  =  ?


June 7th, Japanese Words
Also found out that the Japanese word for “dentist” and “loser” are one and the same.  No joke; the word is “へいしゃ” (“heisha”).

September 8th, I eat like a Galka now
I ate raw red horse meat last week:

And I ate Gyutan (beef tongue) today,

Notice how the meat is serrated.  Yum.

September 13th, Seafood is tasty?
Tried Eel for the first time today, ‘Tempura de

I’ve normally got a phobia of seafood, or just don’t like it period.  But I had to admit this was quite delicious; easily the tastiest sea-cuisine I’ve eaten thus far.

Also checked out the Sendai Jazz Festival this weekend.  Was kinda disappointed that they started shutting junk down so early (10pm’ish).  In the states, something like this might be goin till the wee hours of the mornin.  So for hangout stuff to do, people usually go get trashed and do karaoke after events like these.  Clubs aren’t really very big here.  In Tokyo I’m sure, but there aren’t very many big nightclubs in Sendai.  One of my Japanese friends mentioned that one particular club was the best she knew of in Sendai.  Lame thing is that that club is realistically 10x smaller than the biggest club back in Pensacola, and Sendai is like 10x bigger than P’cola o.O.  Not that I am a major clubber, but it’s nice at least havin that option.

Wasn’t all Jazz.  There was some rock and latin music as well.

I went to Tokyo this summer, and I have so many pictures, but my computer died recently and I don’t have the means of getting those pics on the Internet yet :(

September 17th, Japanese bugs are quite creepy
Anyone that knows me in-the-realz would know that I have 2 phobias: (1) seafood, sea creatures, (2) bugs :(

In Japan, these are called げじげじ (gejigeji).  And as it turned out, one of these little bastards was in my house last night.  Freaking creeped me out.  I could’ve smashed it, but I was gonna trap it with some tupperware or the like and just put it outside (lifelong bug-pacifist).  But it managed to scurry away.  Fortunately doesn’t seem they’re harmful to humans, from what I’ve read.

I’m not gonna lie.  I could (and possibly will) do a whole entry just on Japanese bugs.  Roaches may not be commonplace here, but they’ve got everything else.  And every bug in Japan is bigger than its American counterpart.  It’s surprising and seems to be across the board.  Bees, hornets, moths, beetles, centipedes.. it’s all just bigger here.  And there has been more than one I couldn’t identify.

The above pic is from wiki.  Below is a pic my friend took in Odaiba last month.  I have a cooler picture on my digicam, but the computer that I mainly use is having problems.  It just came back to me by post yesterday after they’d ‘fixed’ it.  I booted it once, restarted, and am now getting the old “hard drive not found” error.  So…sending it back to them…thanks dell.


This little bugger is a ‘cicada’.  You know those bug-noises you tend to hear in anime, usually around dawn/dusk when the main character is going to/from school?  That’s these guys.  And they are damn freaky to see 1st person.  With wings included, these things are maybe 2-3 inches long.  And they crawl and fly around like it’s nobody’s business.  When visiting Odaiba, Tokyo last month, one of these guys flew past me, into a wall, and then fell dead on the floor.  It looked a little different than this guy, but I do think it is of the same species.  I took a pic with it–but again, waiting on my dell to be fixed -.-

September 28th, Japanese bugs are quite creepy

My co-workers couldn’t even tell me :/

October 28th, More Creepy Bugs

More evidence that if it’s a bug, and it’s in Japan…it’s going to be bigger.
October 19th
More food-related.  Yeah, this is why I tell people I hate Japanese pizza..

October 22nd, So the JP’s are fond of retro American family sitcoms

When I first arrived at my apartment here in Tagajo, I turned on my TV.  What did I see?  This:

Of course, I later learn that there is another popular family sitcom that the Japanese watch.  My coworker tells me he gets angry every time his daughter switches off the news to watch it instead,

Why so popular?  I do not know.

October 28th, Porno Stores: the lighthouses of urban life
I wonder if the other 50% of the human population feels slightly offended by these urban Meccas; sometimes I feel offended for them,

Not an uncommon site.

Totally different note, I tried take-out grilled eel over rice recently. Unfortunately I didn’t like it :(–it was no eel tempura.

November 1st, Manju and Baozi
More food.  Manju and Baozi are chinese-style stuffed buns. They’ll be can be stuffed with either/and/or meat, seafood, curry, vegetables, or more.  Manju is more like a typical bread bun, while baozi is as if wrapped in like a flour tortilla; not quite but that’s what I’d compare it to, lol.  The baozi is what I’d gotten at the school festival recently, made by our school’s Chinese teacher.  Manju is probably more popular in Japan, and it seems like it’s being sold in a lot of the conbini (convenience stores) as of late (guess it’s a fall/winter food).

Here’s what manju looks like,

This one is called “Nikuman” (niku = meat; man = manju).

November 2nd, Japan has just now begun using a jury system?
Yeah, apparently so.  Here’s a good NYT article on the subject. :3)

Applying Tailored Mathematics to recreational gaming

 “How to Maximize Sa/Ta Damage

Sorry for anyone who was waiting for this to be finished. It took longer than expected, work and life and all that. Plus I ran into some snags with excel. Looking at the excel I made it looks pretty professional, but I really am by far not an expert at it. I also heavily underestimated this task I’d set for myself. I really, really did not enjoy writing this. Yet it was something I felt I needed to finish. Big thanks go out to Kornemuz from Asura and Ceiyne from Bahamut, for helping me figure out ‘if functions.’ I’d like to credit Releena of Seraph and Searain of Garuda, as well as the KI Thief Forums for providing a lot of the basis for this.

Ready for (another) ridiculous wall-of-text? Good.

For those who want to cut the crap and see conclusions,
-Summary, Formula, Conclusions, Stats, Rankings (link)
-Stat Comparison
-Gear Comparison

For those who want an in-depth reading,
In-Depth Explanation (link)
-Background Info
-Test Settings
-Explanation, w/out math
-In Closing,

Download the Excel Spreadsheets here: 
(1), (2), (3), (4)
(math has been reworked; above files not current)


Relative Stat Values
(updated Sep.25th, 2009)
I used my formula and an adapted excel spreadsheet to find the ultimate SA set for the given settings, including double march, haste spell, and 20% in TP set haste. Then I found the raw damage increase from adding a single point of the following given stats. Using a single point of Double-Attack as the standard of comparison, the following ratios were found.
1Dbl.Atk = 1
1TripleAtk = 2.38 (d.a.)
1Dex = 2.58 (d.a.)
1Str = 1.20 (d.a.)
1Attack = 1.19 (d.a.)
1Slow(2xMarch,Haste) = -2.64 (d.a.)
1Slow(1xMarch,Haste) = -2.22 (d.a.)
1Slow(NoMarch,Haste) = -1.84 (d.a.)
1D.Wield(2xMarch,Haste) = 2.16 (d.a.)
1Haste(2xMarch,Haste) = 2.65 (d.a.)
1Haste(1xMarch,Haste) = 2.22 (d.a.)
1Haste(NoMarch,Haste) = 1.84 (d.a.)

1Dbl.Atk = 1
1TripleAtk = 2.51 (d.a.)
1Agi = 3.35 (d.a.)
1Dex = 0.39 (d.a.)
1Str = 1.29 (d.a.)
1Attack = 1.26 (d.a.)
1Slow(2xMarch,Haste) = -3.50 (d.a.)
1Slow(1xMarch,Haste) = -2.88 (d.a.)
1Slow(NoMarch,Haste) = -2.43 (d.a.)
1D.Wield(2xMarch,Haste) = 2.59 (d.a.)
1Haste(2xMarch,Haste) = 3.50(d.a.)
1Haste(1xMarch,Haste) = 2.89 (d.a.)
1Haste(NoMarch,Haste) = 2.43 (d.a.)

I wasn’t originally going to search for stat ratios, but now I’m glad I did. It’s probably the easiest and most effective way that players can use the data I’ve got here. I chose double attack as the base, with a value of 1, because it improved damage by the smallest amount (without negating).

We can draw some interesting and important knowledge from these ratios. For example, a single point of haste is, as probably expected, the most important stat in a double-march/haste-spell setting. But we can see it’s not very far ahead of Dex in importance. Intuitively we could predict that haste would be much less more important in lower-haste situations, but I did the math anyway. Just by removing the lesser march, 1dex is now more important than 1haste.

It’s also interesting to see how 1 single pt of attack does almost as much as 1str. This is due to the high base damage of SA/TA’s, and the corresponding lack of importance of fStr. Also interesting is how a single unit of Str and Atk do more for sa/ta than double attack. I did not expect this, and it also means that by these numbers Brutal Earring would be obsolete, Pixie and Merman’s earring being superior. Also from this, we can get that for SA, 2Str and 2Atk are roughly almost = to 1Dex. These numbers also confirm suppanomimi as being a superior choice for Sa, easily trumping Pixie and other options. Also it may be interesting to see that 1 triple attack is easily more valuable t han 2 double attack. This is because, since double attack proc is assumed to check before triple attack, adding double attack essentially nerfs some of our triple attack potential. Meanwhile, we can say generally that 3 pts of Dex and 5 pts of Slow roughly cancel each other out.

For TA, I’m a bit surprised at the difference. I’m fairly surprised that Agi is so high up in the ratios, even though I know one reason why it is the case. And that is because of the AF+1 hands’ +15% agi bonus effect. But it’s still quite a bit high. Str and attack are skewed farther apart for TA, and the benefit of attack is surprisingly low–less than the benefit of a single point of double attack in this case. (Looking further into the reason of the low attack benefit value, I found that it’s due to pDif tier. Before an atk/def ratio of 0.833, attack gives significantly less of a boost to pDif than after 0.833, at least until nearing the pDif cap). Slow and haste show similar value relationships for TA as for SA, though.

Relative Rankings, by Gear
The following gear comparisons have been made via the statistical ratios shown above.  Slow/Haste values used are for double-march.
(updated Sep.25th, 2009)

(head) Maat’s Cap (26.46) > Skadi’s Visor (25.41) > Gnadbhod’s Helm (13.84) > AF2 (12.9) = Turban (13.25) > Emp.Pin (7.74) > Heca+1 (0.84)
(neck) Love Torque (20.04) > Kubira Bead Necklace (15.08) > Spike Necklace (11.34)
(ears) Suppanomimi (10.8) > Pixie (7.74) => Merman’s (7.14) > Hollow/Adroit (5.16)  = Coral (5.95) = Brutal (5.0)
(body) Dragon Harness+1 (32.34) > DH nq (27.38) = Skadi (26.59) > Anatares Harness (20.64) > Enkidu’s Harness (17.9) > BlueCote+1 (16.32) > WarAketon +1 (12.9) > Rapp (10.6)
(hand) ANNM Dragon Mitts (20.44) > Skadi Bazubands (17.9) > Dusk+1(2xMarch) (17.74)* > Enkidu’s (15.12) => Tarasque Mitts +1 (14.28) => Dusk(2xMarch) (13.9)* > Merman’s (8.94) > AF (7.74) > Heca +1 (4.02)
(rings) Rajas Ring (18.9) > 5Dex Ring (12.9)
(back) Charger’s (23.8) => Cerberus Mantle +1 (22.65) > Forager’s (21.45) > Amemet +1 (20.25) > Cuchulain’s (15.12) > Commander’s (11.34) > AF2 (10.32)
(waist) Cuchulain’s Belt (27.38) > Ninurta’s (23.04) > Warwolf (18.9) > Speed Belt (15.9) > Swordbelt +1 (14.28)
(leg)Enkidu’s (18.9) > Dusk (16.66)* > Hecatomb Subligar +1 (12.44) = Heca nq (12.76) > Dragon+1 (12.9) = Barbarossa’s (12.75) > Dragon nq (10.32)
(feet) Enkidu’s (17.8) > Dragon +1(13.89) > Dragon (10.12) => Dusk (10.06)* > Leapers (7.74)

(head) Maat’s Cap (35.21) > Skadi’s Visor (33.02) > Denali Bonnet (31.18) > Dragon+1 (16.75) > Turban (17.5) > Dragon (13.4) > Emp.Pin (11.22)
(neck) Hope Torque (16.75) > Crocodile Collar (13.4) > Love Torque (9.51) > Agile Gorget (6.7) => Justice Torque (6.45) => Tiger Stole (6.3) > Spike Necklace (5.04)
(ears) Suppanomimi (19.65) > Genin (13.4) > Drone (10.05) > Merman’s (7.56) > Coral (6.3) => Brutal (5.0)
(body) Denali Jacket (44.84) > Dragon Harness +1 (41.3) > Skadi (36.22) > Enkidu’s Harness (35.8) > DH nq (35.04) > Antares Harness (26.8) > BlueCote+1(24.76) > Rapp (14.0)
(hand) AF+1 (?, ~54.77) > Skadi (35.8) > Dusk+1(2xMarch) (21.56)* = Dragon+1 (20.53) > Dusk(2xMarch) (16.8)* = Dragon (15.92) => Tarasque Mitts +1 (15.12)
(rings) 5Agi Ring (16.75) > Rajas (8.4)
(back) Charger’s (25.2) => Cerberus Mantle +1 (24.06) > Forager’s (22.77) > Amemet +1 (21.48) > Commander’s (15.09)  = AF2 (14.96)
(waist) Ninurta Sash (28.56) > Speed Belt (21.0) > Grenadier Belt (18.87) > Swordbelt +1 (15.12) => Scouter’s (13.4) > Ryl. Knight’s Belt (10.06) > Vanguard Belt (10.17) > Warwolf Belt (8.4) => Swift Belt (7.7)
(leg) Dusk+1 (18.9)* > Dusk (17.64)* > War Brais +1 (16.75) > Barbarossa’s (15.66) > WarBrais/AF (13.4) > Heca nq (-13.68) > Hecatomb Subligar +1 (-17.77)
(feet) Enkidu’s (23.26) > Dragon +1 (18.74) > Dragon (13.74) > Dusk (13.3)* > Leapers (11.22)

edit: *Movement Speed*
I’ve been criticized (constructively) quite a few times, or bafflingly questioned at my prescription for Striders/Skadi for sa/ta, or for my hating of dusk.  Since I can’t quantify the benefit of these foot pieces, I’ve taken them out of the table above.  But I stand by my stance that:

Strider Boots / Skadi’s Jambeaux are, essentially, the best Sa/Ta feet you can wear at almost all times.
Suppanomimi likewise seemed quite counterintuitive for Sa, and yet it easily comes out as the top ear piece.  And people have been questioning my use of it for years.  Quantify it and people will be convinced.  It’s too bad these pieces can’t be quantified in though.  I am willing to admit though, that if you can’t see how these would help you at all for Thf, you may just not be playing the job to its max potential.  These will only help people who already understand how movement speed will affect your play.  And similarly, dusk shouldn’t ever be used for sa/ta for the very same reasons (this is coming from someone who used dusk himself for years before switching).

Playing around with the spreadsheet, I also spotted a few interesting things. I’d wondered sometimes if the slow on heca+1 made it so that the NQ heca was actually better than the HQ for sa/ta. It doesn’t seem so; HQ still appears to be better. I also found it interesting that Dusk NQ was better than Heca+1 with double march. This is probably counter-intuitive to what most people would think. This doesn’t mean, however, that homam hands are better than heca+1; it’s the attack that helps push dusk ahead. Either way, this is anecdotal and unimportant, since dusk slows down movement speed and therefore I wouldn’t use it for sa/ta anyway. So I’ve italicized it to point out that it’s arbitrary, same with Skadi and Striders since conversely they trump all.

Some of this stuff ran counter to what I’d expect as well. The idea of an adroit/hollow doing as much as a coral earring or brutal feels a bit odd. I find the back pieces interesting, since Cerb+1 is rare and thought to be the end all be all of backs, and nobody goes out of their way to buy a Charger’s. But I remember in a thread long ago I was discussing how I thought that Chrarger’s was the best. Seems so, but I was surprised to find AF2 so low in the rankings, even below commander’s which is kind of funny.

Shocking is how Love Torque is virtually equal to justice torque which is also virtual equal to agile gorget and barely above tiger stole, for TA. It goes in that order, but the numbers are pretty close. I find it interesting that Genin Earring came decisively above brutal for ta, as did even drone. I’d been under the impression that both were very ‘lol’ compared to brutal (for ta) for a long time. Meanwhile, while coral/merman’s more closely rivaled brutal for SA, brutal seems to come ahead for TA given the difference in pDif tier. Also, I was going to include Rapp vs Denali for TA in the spreadsheet but it became obvious that denali destroyed it, so it wasn’t worth looking much further into. Unlike for SA, Skadi decisively won over DH nq for TA. DH nq came barely above antares harness though, which was shocking to me given that it was a comparison of 10 attack versus only 2 agi. Again, that lower pDif tier makes a very big difference. For backpieces for TA, the values came out differently. Again due to pDif tier, Cerb+1 pulled ahead of charger’s. The rest of the back pieces came pretty close together, with commander’s surprisingly above Amemet+1 in this case. For waists, swordbelt+1 came out high, but this was because in my comparison, it’d just breached the pDif tier. So it seems that tier may be skewing the results a bit. Perhaps most shocking of all was the leg pieces for ta. Hideous dusk came out on top (though it technically can’t due to the decreased movement speed). Surprisingly barbarossa’s was equivalent to af pants, and this gave a bigger boost even than heca nq, which funny enough was ahead of heca hq. This has to do with the attack value not really overcoming the slow value on the piece.

Formula Breakdown
Sa/Ta “Act” Dmg =

(SA/TA round Dmg) – (TP round opportunity cost)
(Initial Critical Hit)+(Extra Swings) – (dDelay Function)*(TP round Dmg)

{(Main. +fStr’a +Dex/Agi)*(pDif’a+1) + [(Main. +fStr’a)*Dbl./Trip.Atks + (Off. + fStr’a)*(1 + Dbl./Trip.Atks)]*(CritRate’a*(pDif’a+1) + NonCritRate’a*pDif’a)}
– ((delayTP – delaySA)/delayTP)*[(Main. + Off. +2fStr’b)*(CritRate’b*(pDif’b+1) + NonCritRate’b*pDif’b)*(1 + Dbl./Trip.Atks)*Accuracy

In-Depth Explanation

The purpose of this inquiry is to help people choose which stats and gear to use for unstacked SA / TA.

What’s best for SA/TA: dex/agi, attack, or haste? Do str and slow herein matter much either? Just like everything else in FF, the answers to give are not so easy because the game is situational. All of these elements and more play roles in sa/ta effectiveness. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to say what’s better/worse generally. Denali or skadi head for ta? Rapp or DH? Heca+1 hands or enkidu’s? Many options come really close.

In order to answer this question I chose to make an excel document ((1), (2), (3), (4)) (these files are outdated as of 9-25-09) which ranks gear sets based on the formula that I crafted. I’m not an excel expert so I didn’t include everything thief can/might equip. Instead I wanted to create a spreasheet of the equips that I thought were best.

Things to consider:
-Mob Target
-The quality of your other SA/TA gear
-The quality of your TP gear (yes, even this)

From these settings you will find pDif, crit pDif, hit rate, crit rate, fStr, and delay for both SA and TP equip sets. Also important will be double and triple attack rate, but these are constants for our mathematical adventure. All of these elements will go into our formula.

These values all have a huge effect on the answer of “what sa/ta gear is optimal.” The equip set that works best for the person who’s eating meat with double march vs trolls and has a really shotty TP set is not the same set that works best for the person farming inner sea with one march, no food, and fantastic TP gear.

Given how hard it is just tell everyone what gear to use, I’ll limit my aims instead. So my aims are:
1. To use my own stats and gear so I can at least know how to best gear myself,
2. To use the standard “merit settings” ruler that people are familiar with, so I can gear myself optimally in at least one situation,
3. To thusly try to work out the “best of the best” for SA/TA sets,
4. In conclusion, to rank stat options based on these specific example settings,
5. In conclusion, to rank gear options based on these specific example settings,
6. To offer some closing prescriptive advice.

Background Info
About a year ago there was a really nice thread on the KI Thief Forums as well as a followup thread on Allah’ about this subject. Slightly before that time Releena of Seraph also began looking into this subject. In the thread, some people stated that they really didn’t switch out of TP gear at all, or at least not the pieces with haste on them. Others were appalled by this counterintuitivity, but yet others could see the merit behind these ideas given the growing haste-worship in ‘XI these days. The thread died on a rather unfinished note, not quite fulfilling the nagging desires of people wanting to know for sure what to equip. This was frustrating, as it’s generally much easier to say what we should equip in most other situations.

Sa/Ta gear concerns didn’t begin just there though. People’ve been wondering about this for years. Some people don’t swap. Some go very heavy on dex/agi while others go heavy on attack. Some balance between attributes/attack. Others balance in haste vs slow as well. Some, like myself, have been questioned before over seemingly odd gear choices, i.e. that I sa/ta in striders and suppanomimi.

The debate used to be mainly dex/agi vs attack. Then after awhile it was found how awesome haste was and haste stacking became more common, so this became a concern. Then, prompted by some of Kirschy‘s haste research, Releena covered in in her LJ entry that slow5 was =/= (not) -%haste. Actually, once again it has been confirmed (by Krischy) that gear slow% is actually -haste%. This is not the case for magic slow, which is actually a separate function.

For those that don’t understand why it’s difficult to calculate what’s best, I suppose I could say a little more. Dex/Agi are great, but as you stack more the marginal gains are less and less. Dex/Agi is chiefly what you’re looking to improve upon, but sometimes there’s a choice between a mediocre amount of dex/agi and a lot of attack. A good example of this is AF2 cape (4dex/4agi) vs AmemetMantle+1, a question we’ve seen on the Thf forums a few times in the past. Further, attack also decreases in benefit as you add more of it. Also sa/ta are criticals, which make attack less important than if they were non-critical melee strikes. As for haste and slow, the haste/slow you have on at the time you sa/ta affects the delay until your next attack round. The difference in added delay often means the loss of an extra melee attack before the mob dies, which would generate damage as well as TP.

Test Settings
So I mentioned earlier that very specific settings would have to be chosen for any sort of comparison. Here are the settings used:
-75 Mithra Thf/Nin
-5Str Merits and merits capped otherwise

SA Set
Bomb Core
–head unchosen–
Love Torque
Brutal Earring
–ear2 unchosen–
–body unchosen–
–hands unchosen–

Rajas Ring
Any +5Dex Ring
Cerberus Mantle +1
–waist unchosen–
–legs unchosen–

Strider Boots

Variable equips chosen for my excel spreadsheet comparison:
(head) Walahra Turban, Hecatomb Cap +1, Skadi’s Visor, Maat’s Cap, Gnadbhod’s Helm
(ear2) Suppanomimi, Pixie Earring
(body) Dragon Harness +1, Rapparee Harness
(hands) Dusk Gloves +1, Hecatomb Mittens +1, ANNM Dragon Mittens (7dex,2atk), Enkidu’s Mittens
(waist) Cuchulain’s Belt, Speed Belt, Swift Belt
(legs) Barbarossa’s Zerechs, Enkidu’s Subligar, Hecatomb Subligar +1, Homam Cosciales

TA Set
Bomb Core
–head unchosen–
Hope Torque
–ear2 unchosen–
Denali Jacket
Any +5Agi Ring
Any +5Agi Ring
Cerberus Mantle +1
–waist unchosen–
–legs unchosen–

Strider Boots

Variable equips chosen for my excel spreadsheet comparison:
(head) Maat’s Cap, Denali Bonnet, Skadi’s Visor, Walahra Turban
(ear2) Genin Earring, Brutal Earring, Merman’s
(waist) Speed Belt, Swordbelt+1, Scouter’s Rope
(legs) Barbarossa’s Zerechs, War Brais +1, Hecatomb Subligar +1

TP Set
Fire Bomblet
Walahra Turban
Love Torque
Brutal Earring
ACP Body (10acc,3%DW)
Homam Manopolas
Rajas Ring
Toreador’s Ring
Cerberus Mantle +1
Speed Belt
Homam Cosciales
Homam Gambieras

-Lvl82G.Colibri w/ totDef327 and totEva339
-No food
-Double March & Haste (Spell)
-Madrigal-level accuracy buff
(this could also be viewed as close to Hunter’s Roll, Crab Sushi, or other Sushi)

Next, we must have a formula that can accurately describe the real damage contributed by the action of an sa/ta. Base game mechanics can be found on wiki, but applied math such as this is something for freelancing. I had to think for a little while while on what formula I should use, what elements to include, and how to calculate the various elements. A lot goes into it that would probably not occur to most people, and even then the formula is still not perfect but is merely a best (though probably pretty good) attempt. If I hadn’t participated in forums so much in the past years, my making of this formula would not have been possible.

Here’s what it is. I’ll start simple and then expand it more to show more detail.
Actual SA/TA “act” damage=

(SA/TA round Dmg) – (TP round opportunity cost)
(Initial Critical Hit)+(Extra Swings) – (dDelay Function)*(TP round Dmg)
{(Mainhand +fStr’a +Dex/Agi)*(pDif’a +1) + [(Mainhand +fStr’a)*Dbl./TripleAttacks + (Offhand + fStr’a)*(1 + Dbl./TripleAttacks)]*(pDif’a function)}
– ((delayTP – delaySA)/delayTP)*(TP round Dmg)

{(Main. +fStr’a +Dex/Agi)*(pDif’a+1) + [(Main. +fStr’a)*Dbl./Trip.Atks + (Off. + fStr’a)*(1 + Dbl./Trip.Atks)]*(CritRate’a*(pDif’a+1) + NonCritRate’a*pDif’a)}
– ((delayTP – delaySA)/delayTP)*[(Main. + Off. +2fStr’b)*(CritRate’b*(pDif’b+1) + NonCritRate’b*pDif’b)*(1 + Dbl./Trip.Atks)*Accuracy
The above formula should suffice for showing all of the special elements that go into solving this. But for anyone who craves more detail, then the following is one way of showing most of the constants and variables that go into the calculation.

Actual SA/TA “act” damage =

{(39 +(totStr’a-67)/4 +totDex/Agi))
*(Atk’a/327def – 0.35cRatio)
->[IF(0.833 < a/d cRatio’a < 1.25),THEN(pDif’aAvg=(2.4*a/dcRatio’a -0.5)/2) ELSE etc..]
[((39 +(totStr’a-67)/4)*0.24 + (34 +(totStr’a-67)/4)*(1 + 0.24)]
*{IF((9 + (totDex – 20 -67)/2) > 24,Crit’a=24%, ELSE Crit’a=(9 + ( – 20 -67)/2)%)}
*[IF(0.833 < a/d cRatio’a < 1.25),THEN(CritpDif’aAvg=(2.4*a/dcRatio’a -0.5)/2)+1, ELSE etc..]
(1 – Crit’a)
*[IF(0.833 < a/d cRatio’a < 1.25),THEN(CritpDif’aAvg=(2.4*a/dcRatio’a -0.5)/2)+1, ELSE etc..]

((b.Delay*0.77dw*0.45haste – b.Delay*%dw*[%haste -%slow])/b.Delay*0.77dw*0.45haste )
[(39 + 34 +2(totStr’b-67)/4)
*{(381atk/327def – 0.35cRatio) -> [IF(0.5 < a/d cRatio’b < 0.833),THEN(pDif’bAvg+1=(1.2*a/dcRatio’b +0.5)/2 +1)}
+ 87%nonCrit’b
*{(381atk/327def – 0.35cRatio) -> [IF(0.5 < a/d cRatio’b < 0.833),THEN(pDif’bAvg=(1.2*a/dcRatio’b +0.5)/2)}
*1.24 d.a./t.a.Procs
*94.5 acc%

(the above is for SA. TA formula was slightly different, including the +15% agi bonus from af+1)

-This test doesn’t account for TP gained
-Nor how that TP might be used to contribute damage
-Does not account for the probability of meleeing in your sa/ta set for more than 1 melee round
-Of course, the test settings are rigid in that they assume only 1 mob of 1 given level, do not account for frequency of buffs or possible debuffs (dia/angon/feint/etc), and the equips chosen for settings are high-end.
-There are a couple errors in truncation steps, but they’re not very serious
-X’s Knife crit boost not taken into account. Relic 3xProc not taken into account
-Assumptions are made as to the mechanics of crit rate
-fStr is not truncated; I’m listing this here because some would view this as problematic. However, it actually isn’t since it allows for broader comparisons
-Hard min and Hard cap values are not set for pDif functions, but in reality we’re not herein concerned about these situations either

Understanding Actual SA/TA Damage, an Explanation for Non-robots
SA/TA produce spike damage. However, the attack round usually produces higher delay so some delay is lost. How do we find the damage lost due to that delay loss? Well, what would have happened during that delay?

I mean, if I SA and then it takes 6 seconds for my next attack round because SA slowed me down, and if my normal rounds of TP only take 3 seconds each, then what have I lost? Well, if I hadn’t switched to an SA set my delay would have been 3 seconds. So I lost 3 seconds. That means I lost a round of melee strikes in my TP set. So I just multiply the amount of delay lost (in this case enough for 1 round of attacks) by the damage dealt on average from my TP set.

What goes into calculating SA dmg and TP round dmg? A lot and a little. For SA, the SA big crit dmg = mainhand weapon dmg + fStr + total Dex. Also accuracy will be 100% in this case. Other little known fact, but every attack in that melee round will be 100% accuracy, including your offhand hit, or any double or triple attack procs that might go off on either hand during the SA attack round. Of course, these extra attacks are also modded by the same pDif that modified the big SA crit. And some of those additional hits may critical as well, so crit rate needs to be factored in. So this is all calculated and summed together as our “SA attack round Dmg.”

We the need to find TP round dmg. Since the variables in our formula will only be for our SA round, these values are all constants. To find TP round dmg we simply use base damage and multiply against pDif, crit, multi procs, and accuracy. Base damage is the base damage of the weapons + fStr. pDif is of course a function of player attack over mob defense. Crits are just pDif+1. But we also must factor in crit rate. Multi procs are just our triple attacks and brutal double attacks. Accuracy is accuracy.

So the big three are finding out (1) how much dmg our SA and it’s attack round do, (2) find out how much dmg our TP set does in a single round, and (3) find out what % of an attack round we’ve lost as a function of SA set delay and TP set delay. Multiply TP/round dmg against the delay function, and subtract that from the damage dealt in our single SA attack round, and we have our answer as to how much dmg we /actually gain/ by doing a Sneak Attack. Same thing goes for Trick Attack of course, only we use Agi instead of Dex as our primary attribute of course.

New Assumptions for Calculating Crit Rate
All the mechanics that go into this are already solidly accepted as true represenations of how the dmg is calculated in FFXI–with the exception of crit rate. For crit rate I used data on this very helpful article by Searain of Garuda. Based on the data in that thread and elsewhere, it seemed to me that the cap for melee crit rate is likely the assumed number of 50-points-of-dex above a target’s agi. There’s also a supposed “placebo region” where if you don’t achieve a certain level of dex above the targets agi, adding dex will not increase crit rate. For this test and for my own future reference, I’ve assumed this placebo region to be any point below 20-points-of-dex above a target’s agi. That is, if a target’s agi is 100 and your dex is 119, you will have the same floored crit rate as if you had 0dex. This leaves a spread between 20 and 50 points-of-dex above a target’s agi to account for the spread of 5%-20% floored/capped critical hit rate (or 9%-24% if fully merited). I stumbled into this accidentally but it turns out to be convenient that the spread of dex-agi for the area of efficacy is 30 points, and the spread of crit% is 15 points. So, we have an easy ratio of 2dex=1%crit or 1dex=0.5%crit. It’s my belief that this or something close to it is a correct representation of crit mechanics. I drew my assumptions based on looking for trends in Searain’s data, as well as additional anecdotal evidence seen elsewhere.

In Closing
I can honestly say that throughout most of my working on this, I did not enjoy it. Not in the least. I had the idea of finding the formula for showing actual marginal sa/ta damage, and adapting it, but I hadn’t predicted the amount of work that that would entail. So, some closing comments/conclusions:
*Suppanomimi is essential and trumps all for /nin sa/ta.
*Brutal earring isn’t king for sa/ta; In fact it can be easily outdone.
*The full haste idea for sa/ta does not produce the highest damage.
*Likewise, laziness and not swapping for sa/ta does decrease your damage output.
*Heca slow does make a difference, especially for TA, where you’re not gaining a real benefit from dex.
*Mid-range equips, with a combination of good stats, seem to be the best.
*It’s best to not follow any particular mantra when gearing, but look carefully at each option. The stat ratios laid out in the beginning can help out.
*I haven’t covered my stance on movement speed and sa/ta (striders/skadi > etc > dusk), but that can’t be gotten into with math.

I also have a feeling that the optimal sa/ta sets should cover a variety of situations. Given the way the stats work out, the relative values of haste, dex/agi, str, attack, etc, should hold nicely whether you’re farming low level mobs, fighting an HNM, are stacked with heavy buffs, or have no buffs on at all. Multiple, situational SA/TA sets is probably going to be excessive.

Now to find an ice pack for my head.

Time Away from Home

A little about the RL

Those who know me in-game know that I haven’t been on much for the past month.  The reason for this is that I have a new job, as of late March ’09.  When I graduated from Uni almost a year ago, our US economy turned pretty shite.  I chose to procrastinate from serious life plans and was enjoying my time playing FF and chillaxin while I worked entry level jobs.  The first job of which was a waiting job.  I worked a bow-tie waiting staff job at a luxury dining hall in an old home for the well-to-do.  I really hated that job :(.  But everybody knows that waiting sucks horribly, so that is no surprise.

Then I worked at The Limited, a women’s retail clothing store, as the freight guy.  I got to handle all of the hardware and receive, stock, and handle all of the clothing (yes, panties included).  And for those without inside knowledge, Limited mannequins come equipped with a certain type of gel-filled ass-pad underwear that we have to put onto them manually.  True story.

But while all of this was going on I was looking into getting an English teaching job in Japan.  This kind of thing (in Japan or overseas in general) is becoming a little bit of a trend for recent college grads, I think.  It’s not only an opportunity to experience something new and test yourself, but also a great way to buy more time to postpone your life (don’t we love to do that).

Although I can’t talk about all of the more specific or private details about my job, I can still say a fair bit.  For example, that I’m employed by a company called Interac, and the board of education contracts my services through them.  The board of education in my case is that of Miyagi Prefecture.  I work and live in a little area near the ocean; a place called Tagajo city, which is about 200 miles NE of Tokyo, just north of Sendai.

Soooo.., first impressions
If I could sum up my impression of Japan so far in few words, what would I say, hmm..  It is very clean, and very safe.  Food is healthy and tasty, but they eat more carbs than one might think (noodles and rice).  Actually, sometimes it seems like noodles and rice is just about all they eat.  Public transportation is great, but the bullet train is expensive.  Prices are a bit high, but technology is often a step ahead of us…or to the side.  Think like, public toilet seats with seat warmers, but that start to play a tune when you sit on them.  The western writing system is everywhere, and western slogans and slangwords are common.  There are plenty of beautiful women.  People are healthy.  People are “overly polite” in formal or business matters, but in casual situations (which is much of the time), they behave very much like westerners.  People care about their external appearance and many young people seem to take fashion seriously.  Though when the Japanese are sick it is not uncommon to wear a surgical mask in public, which to me looks rather unfashionable.  The TV is full of garbage game shows, but I guess American TV isn’t really any better.  Hip-hop is popular, both foreign and Japanese.  I still don’t know what to make of Jpop.

As for my particular high school, it is not what I expected.  Firstly uniforms are not required.  I made two speeches to the student body and faculty in the gym on my first/second day, and I was surprised upon looking into the crowd at how “American” they looked to me.  Of course the school is Japanese and neither anglo nor multi-ethnic, but their behavior and dress made me feel like I was at home at an American HS.  A lot of the kids at my school really don’t give a damn, or at least pretend not to.  They skip classes often and some try to sleep in class.  They spike, bleach, and color their hair (some totally frowed out, some with dreds).  They wear torn jeans, thug themselves out, and you also see the occasoinal trenchcoat.  Some girls wear lots of makeup and they seem to be very fond of high stockings, either black or with fancy patterns.  Not all students are like this, but a lot of the body is comprised as such.  And beneath such an exterior, many of them have also turned out to be very shy.  And most of them are really great kids and do try in class when they’re tired of pretending that they really don’t care (well, someof them aren’t pretending).  I should say that is more true of my day students than my night students, though (I work roughly from ~11am to 7pm).

There are pretty much no Gai-jin (foreigners) around here, though in the rare event that I do come across one, there is a likely chance they also work for my company.  A lot of the gai-jin hang out with each other, and can become very close just because they’re fellow gai-jin.  Some of us ‘ALT (assistant language teacher) no eigo sensei (english teacher)’ play as hard as we work.  It is common among the Japanese to book a spot at a bar or restaurant for a ‘nomi hodae'(sp) (all-you-can-drink drinking party) for you and your friends or co-workers.  And we foreigners do the same (some of us; less me than some others).  And I have to say that I was surprised at how great of a time could genuinely be had at the ‘karaoke box’ (karaoke party room).

Many of us, especially new people like me, don’t really have time for much play (like FFXI, for example), nor the money to do so (we don’t get paid anything until the end of the first two months).  Adjusting and getting set up here is rough.  Learning some amount of both written and oral language is advisable, and that takes time.  The work is also not always easy.  For me it is very difficult, but that makes it very rewarding.  I have no previous teaching experience and know (knew) almost no Japanese upon arrival, but my high school expects me to make full lesson plans throughout the year with no real guidance (and the texts here are more like a condiment than an entree), and essentailly teach 45 minute to hour-and-a-half sessions often very much solo, using no Japanese preferably.  So I’m very much in control of what and how I teach at my school (was not expecting this).  If that sounds tough, I can assuredly affirm that it is, haha.

With what little play time I have..
So adapting to this job leaves me with little play time.  I am starting to log on FFXI for at least a short time almost every night though.  I find that I can afk between HNM windows and use the time to lesson plan and study Japanese.  In a week and a half of consistent (though not arduous) study, I can now read and write the 46 base Hiragana.  Oral communication is another ballgame though.

(yeahhhhh durty)

As for current FF goals, I have a few.  I would say that salvage gearing and just having a good time in my new HNM shell (as opposed to getting geared in it) are top priorities.  My most fundamental in-game goal currently, however, is actually upgrading Vajra.  Yes indeed; I’ve had my heart set on this for awhile.  I currently have about 54m in easily convertable cash.  So with current prices that is more than half way.  But gil isn’t the problem.

Right now by “currently upgrading Vajra,” I mean I “currently attend einherjar twice a week.”  I have only about 30k ampoules.  This means that if I go as often as possible, I still have like 7-8 months of ampoules ahead of me.  I’ve just now gotten a regular einherjar shell, but they go at rather late hours so I might not always be able to make it.  Either way I am confident that by the time I have 100k ampoules, I can easily have set out to’ve fulfilled the other arduous requirements ahead of time.

Why would I want Vajra?  Just to upgrade it for completion’s sake really, in the name of my Thief and Thief in general.  I can picture it having use in non-/drk zerging (and maybe /drk zerging above m.kris), but other than that I’m not sure it will be very impressive.  Or at least that’s how it appears so far, though for all we know the SA/TA boost could be rather significant (beyond X’s or Rogue’sArmlets+1).  Mandalic stab is also increasingly useful on opponents with increasingly higher defense, so Vajra might have niche use for such enemies (Ixion, albeit not melee’d, comes to mind).  And at least it can’t poison things.

Random Pix

Thoughtblog: An Introduction

“The imagination is the goal of history. I see culture as an effort to literally realize our collective dreams.”
― Terence McKenna

The Thoughtblog

Below is an excerpt from my about page.

I made an introduction to this website early on in its life, outlining its scope and purpose.What’s said there holds true. This place serves both a practical and a kind of spiritual purpose for me. On the first hand, I’m very interested in the practical; I want a reliable medium to convey my professional skill-set and experience, to easily connect with others, and build towards future goals. My first and foremost priority is to actualize short and long term economic goals and to provide maximum value to prospective employers and my upcoming projects.On the other hand, it would seem wasteful of me not to use my site as a venue for the exploration and sharing of my passions and interests. It would be a superficial ‘playing into the game’ to fall victim to economic tunnel vision. There’s a reason why we call life ‘the game.’ A lot of us treat it like one, and most of us have no choice but to play by the rules if we’re to have any chance of achieving our dreams, or of finding happiness at all. But for most of us, the game is just a game; one that simply must be played. After all, we are not our job. We’re not how much money we have in the bank. We’re not the car we drive. We’re not the contents of our wallet. And we’re not our bleep’ing khakis.

Are we human, or are we dancer? Are we consumers? There’s a reason why our companies have human ‘resource’ departments. Of course, we know that we are more than just resources. But when you load up the right spreadsheets and look through the eye of the global economic engine, we are just that. Ap’praiseable, tradeable, usable, and expendable. Through the economic, consumer based platform that western culture suspends itself upon and has tethered itself to, we really can quantify ourselves.

It would be a crime to oneself to ignore the meaningful. I tend to live my life as a carefree person, but this can be a very serious world. Beneath the modern media catalyzed apathetic culture that anyone reading this has been born into, there are things that affect you and people that you care about that should make you sick to your stomach. And the vague faraway helplessness that you may feel regarding injustices that you do know or have yet to know, is largely illusory. These are topics that should at least be talked about.

That is the long-term goal, and it should be one of your goals too. The topics in the thoughtblog of this website will include the spiritual, the philosophical, the scientific, and the critical. Not all topics will have the ethical flavor exposited above, but they are likely to be topics that too affect everyone directly. As my current main priorities in life are geared towards better availability of income and time, development of the thoughtblog will likely be slow for years to come. It is not a short term, immediate project. It is a long term medium for my long time passions.

Mysteriously, novelty tends to overcome entropy.

This summary covers all of the major bases.

The thoughtblog is the part of my site that will cover topics based on the spiritual, philosophical, scientific, and critical. It is its own partition, and the contents are fundamentally closer to my heart than those of the other endeavors of this site. The following themes encompass areas of my current interest. They are areas of my personal research, my evolving conclusions and worldview, as well as my own independent ideas. My first objective is to know these things. But if I find that I have something that I consider valuable enough to write, I will strive to do so.


 Politics, Economics, and Culture

To me, these 3 are largely co-related. And I feel they shape one semantic dimension in our multidimensional semantic world. Such topics will include,

  • Global Power Structures (political, financial, economic, cultural)
  • Political & Economic Philosophy
  • Memes, Values, and Ideas (culture-shaping normative prescriptions)
  • History & Current Events


  • Hyper History (pre/post human)
  • ‘The Singularity’
  • Technology


  • Physics & Implications (string, quantum, relative)
  • Neuroscience
  • Psychology
  • Psychopharmacology


  • Epistemology
  • Philosophy of the Mind
  • Political & Economic
  • Ethics
  • Metaphysics

Tentative Topics: epistemics and statistics, freedom theory, globalization with representation, stakeholder theory, the no-fault hypothesis, the semantic universe, theory of human action.


  • Dreams & the Imagination
  • Spirituality
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Ideas
  • Creative Endeavors


the thoughtblog of Joseph E. Flack IV