Usagi Yojimbo

I was really surprised to read today that Usagi Yojimbo is moving from Dark Horse to IDW. (And also surprised to read about it in the NY Times. I never really thought of Usagi as being mainstream enough to warrant a NY Times article.) There’s more detail at The Beat.

I’ve been reading Usagi for many years. I gave up on the regular comic back when I gave up on all my regular books, in 2009 or thereabouts. I’ve been buying the trade paperbacks since then. I’m really surprised to see Usagi leave Dark Horse. Stan Sakai has been with them for almost 25 years.

I’m getting a little worried about Dark Horse. I hadn’t previously seen the news about them being mostly owned by a Chinese company now. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…) They’ve lost Star Wars, Buffy, Conan, and now Usagi. I guess Hellboy is the last big property that they still publish. (My idea of what’s “big” may be out of date and entirely wrong though. Their video game tie-in books are probably popular with the kids, but I’ve got no clue about that stuff at all.) I’ve always been a Dark Horse fan, going back to the days when they were publishing Boris the Bear. They’ve published a lot of great stuff over the years.

Anyway, I’m glad that Stan is still doing Usagi. It’s always been a great book, and a nice change of pace from most of the other stuff out there. And Stan has always been a really nice guy. I’ve met him at the San Diego con several times over the years, and gotten some of the early trade paperbacks signed by him.

I’m actually several volumes behind in my reading right now. I still haven’t read Senso, and I think I’ve got volumes 27 to 30 of the regular series on my “to be read” shelf. Maybe I should read one of those this weekend.

Spring Cleaning

Inspired a bit by Marie Kondo, perhaps, I’ve been doing some spring cleaning this weekend. I haven’t actually watched her Netflix show or read her book, but it’s hard not to run into references to her work lately. I caught her appearance on Colbert, for instance, and listened to a Pop Culture Happy Hour episode about the show recently. And I’ve gotten a kick out of some of the anti-Kondo backlash that’s been showing up on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet. I know that it’s all exaggeration and/or misperception, but some of it is entertaining. This Washington Post article is a good example.

Anyway, it’s a three-day weekend (for me), so I’ve got some extra time. I thought I might get an “easy win” by going through a box of old college papers and throwing most of them away. I assumed the box was mostly full of notebooks from my RPI days; I don’t really have any sentimental attachment to old differential equations notes, so those could be easily discarded. Alas, the top few inches of papers were actually from my K-12 days, including stuff from grammar school, middle school, and high school. Most of my old notebooks from those days had already been discarded, so this was stuff that I’d previously decided to keep.

I managed to talk myself into throwing most of this stuff away, after scanning it in. So that slowed things down a lot. I only got through maybe the top inch of stuff in the box between today and yesterday. (And the box is about 12 inches tall.) So, visually, it doesn’t look like I’ve put much of a dent in things.

Since having to reinstall Windows 10 a while back, I’ve been trying to come up with a good solution for scanning. I couldn’t quite manage to reinstall the old Canon software that came with my printer/scanner, and that I’d been previously been using. For now, I’ve settled on using the Microsoft Windows Scan app for scanning to JPG/PNG format, and the freeware NAPS2 for scanning to PDF. I’m not completely happy with either, but they’re actually a little better than the old Canon software in some ways.

Anyway, I’ve been scanning old photos and single-page documents to PNG, and multi-page documents to PDF, for the most part. I’ve come up with a naming convention that starts with the year, so my First Communion certificate is named “1975-first-communion.png,” for example. (And the actual certificate is now in a garbage bag in the dumpster behind my apartment building. Sigh.) I’ve been putting them all into a folder in OneDrive named “Andy-childhood”. My intention to to stick anything up to my high school graduation in there. Having the file name start with the year will make the files appear roughly chronologically.

Spending time on all this seems a bit self-indulgent, but I’m ok with that. It’s not like I spend a lot of time rummaging through old grade-school report cards, in general. I don’t think I’ve looked at the stuff in that box in twenty years.

I’ve come across some pretty funny stuff in that box, including a short story I wrote, titled “An Interstellar Christmas,” which is all about Santa making an appearance on an interstellar spacecraft on Christmas Eve. I didn’t put a date on it, but it looks like it’s probably from 1979, when I was 12.

I also found an issue of my middle school “newspaper,” also from 1979, that had a page devoted to a creative writing assignment that included submissions from three students, including me. The assignment, I guess, was to write something resembling a haiku about several people we though were interesting. (It wasn’t really haiku, but I think it was supposed to follow some kind of pattern.) My entry covered Aesop, Ben Franklin, Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Francis Scott Key, Charles Schultz, and Lou Ferrigno. (Another kid covered Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Mark Twain, Muhammed Ali, James Bond, and Dracula. I’m not sure if the exercise was supposed to include fictional characters, or if this student just thought James Bond and Dracula were real…)

My best find, though, was in yet another box (which I started to poke around in, and quickly gave up on after realizing it also wasn’t going to be an “easy win”). It was a notebook from my senior year high school English class. It was a journal that we were supposed to keep over the course of the year, and hand in for grading occasionally (probably once a month). So it had entries from September through June of my senior year. This was really a goldmine of oddball stuff. Early in the year, the teacher had us write about specific reading assignments, so there are some one-page reports on essays by folks like J.B. Priestly, Winston Churchill, and Virginia Woolf. Stuff like that. Later, he gave us looser themes, so there are little essays on Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Will Eisner, and my feelings about the college application process. Very late in the year, I wrote some fairly personal stuff relating to how I felt about leaving home and going away to college. Since we were handing this book in to the teacher regularly, and getting it back, there are notes from him throughout, such as “you, without doubt, are an interesting person!” and a scribble asking if he could borrow the Harlan Ellison book I was writing about in one entry. (I don’t remember if I ever lent it to him, but if I did, he gave it back, since I still have it.)

I also came across a reference to the old Fahrenheit 451 video game that I’d been playing around that time. That sent me off on a little side quest, since I had really fond memories of that game. The game is playable from this page at, if you want to try it out. It’s also playable and downloadable at The description there makes it sound like it’s probably not as good a game as I remember, though.

So, anyway, I had a lot of fun reading that notebook. I went as far as scanning the whole thing in. It was 70 pages, so it took a while, but I was listening to an audiobook while I was doing it, so I was using the time wisely.

I also managed to shred some of my parents’ old bills while I was doing all this stuff, so, between the old school paperwork, the shredded bills, and a bunch of other ephemera, I managed to fill two garbage bags.

Star Trek Discovery Season Two

A quick follow-up on my ST Discovery post from last week: I just noticed a reassuring observation about season two in Paul Duffield’s Twitter stream:

So that’s a good sign.

Star Trek: Discovery

The internet probably doesn’t need another opinion about Star Trek: Discovery, but I binge-watched the first season over the weekend, so… here’s another opinion about Star Trek: Discovery.

I avoided this show when it first aired, since I didn’t want to pay for CBS All-Access. It’s out on DVD now, so I picked it up that way. I’ve been a Trek fan since watching reruns of TOS on channel 11 (WPIX) when I was a kid, and I’ve watched every show since (TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise). Ever since Enterprise went off the air, I’ve been hoping for a new Trek show, in the same vein as those shows. In particular, I’d have loved to see a show that continued on from the TNG timeline, rather than a prequel or alternate universe show. Well, Discovery is a prequel show, and honestly feels a bit like an alternate universe show too. Which is fine. Enterprise ended in 2005, and TV has changed a lot since then, so this is a new show that’s more in the style of the 2004 Battlestar Galactica reboot than it is to any previous Trek series.

Here’s a review from the NY Times that I mostly agree with. The Times even has recaps/reviews of every episode of the first season. Their recap of the season finale makes some good points.

Overall, it was a fun show to watch. But there were parts that really didn’t hold together well, or make much sense. A lot of the plot twists were predictable. And there were a lot of clichés, including a Groundhog Day episode. (I’m starting to think there’s some kind of legal requirement that all sci-fi TV shows must do at least one Groundhog Day episode.) The TV Tropes page for Discovery is quite long (and fairly amusing). The season felt a bit like the creators were desperate to keep up a stream of big reveals and big plot twists. There weren’t too many moments where they slowed things down for character development or anything like that.

Season two is running on CBS All-Access right now, and is up to episode four, I think. I haven’t looked at any reviews too closely, to avoid spoilers, but from what little I’ve read, it might be off to a good start, with some course correction from season one. If I stick with the “only watching it on DVD” plan, I won’t get to see season two until, probably, this time next year. I’m OK with that. I have plenty of other stuff to watch. But I will probably buy those season two DVDs when they come out.

async and await in C#

I haven’t written many programming-related posts lately. A few months ago, I was doing a bunch of research into stuff related to async and await in C#, and made some notes that I intended to turn into a blog post. Three months later, they’re all still in my Evernote “inbox” notebook. Well, maybe it’s time to finally get around to that post. Of course, now, I barely remember what I was doing back then, so this post is mostly going to be a bunch of links to resources. Maybe it’ll come in handy the next time I need to solve an async/await problem.

When I was trying to figure this stuff out, I found myself reading a lot of stuff by Stephen Cleary. His blog has a lot of useful posts about async programming. His async OOP series is interesting. Those posts led me to look into his Concurrency in C# Cookbook. His MSDN article from 2015 on Brownfield Async Development was relevant to my project too.

Now I’m starting to remember what I was going to write about… It was going to be a post about the challenges of retrofitting async calls into a Web API project that didn’t initially use the async/await patterns. I had to do this due to some changes in another API that I was calling. Those changes aren’t worth getting into here, but I found that async tends to become an “all or nothing” proposition. I was initially running up against some blocking problems, which led me to Stack Overflow, which then led me to Stephen Cleary’s blog post titled Don’t Block on Async Code.

Later, I started hitting some problems that required me to put some effort into limiting concurrency on certain calls, which led me to this MSDN post and this post from Mark Heath. I wound up doing something with SemaphoreSlim. (At least that’s what I think I did…)

Anyway, my project is working fine now, in production, and everyone seems reasonably happy with it, so I guess I got all this stuff right in the end.

WonderCon Anaheim 2019

I haven’t been to WonderCon since 2008, back when it was in San Francisco. They moved it to Anaheim several years ago. (And I haven’t been to Anaheim since 2001, apparently.) So it’s time.

I bought the tickets for WonderCon back in mid-January. They were refundable through to mid-February, so I’ve been going back and forth over the last few weeks as to whether I was going to book a flight and hotel, or if I should back out and get a refund on the tickets. I finally decided tonight to just go ahead. So now I have everything pretty much set to fly out to Anaheim on March 28 and back on April 1. The con itself is March 29-31.

I think this is actually going to be my first vacation outside the NY/NJ area since 2012, when I last went to the San Diego con. (I did go on a business trip to Redmond last year, but that doesn’t count. I’m also not counting my trips to Washington DC and Georgia in 2014 or Florida in 2015, since those were all death-related.) Air travel is expensive, inconvenient, and painful these days, but it’s worth doing once in a while. And I’ve left myself enough of a buffer zone so that I’m not taking any red eye flights or running straight from the con to the airport, or anything like that. And I’m hoping that late March is close enough to spring that I won’t get caught up in any snowstorms on the way out or back.

When they first moved the con out of San Francisco, I hoped that it was temporary and that they’d move it back, since I kind of like San Francisco. But I guess they’ve done better with it in Anaheim, so they’re keeping it there. Anaheim seems kind of boring to me, as an old weirdo with little interest in Disneyland. But the weather should be nice, and I can probably find enough stuff to keep me occupied with just the con. There’s no programming detail posted yet, but the guest list looks good.

Stumbling Through

I’m taking a scheduled day off from work today. My original plan was to go into NYC and see the new Tolkien exhibit at the Morgan Library. But I started feeling sick earlier this week. And it started getting really cold. Yesterday started out at 1° F, with a “feels like” temp of -12°. So I called in sick yesterday. If not for the weather, I probably could have stumbled through work yesterday and even made it into New York today, but it got to be too much. Today is a little warmer. It started out at 5° (at 6am), and is now up to 14° (at 10am). But that’s still cold enough that hopping on a train to New York seemed like a bad idea. So I’m cocooned in my apartment, trying to stay warm and comfortable.

I didn’t leave the apartment at all yesterday, and spent most of the day reading comics, listening to podcasts, and watching TV. I’m being a little more productive today. I actually left the apartment (to take out the garbage), and I’m currently working through my to-do list, getting some tax stuff organized and taking care of some other miscellaneous paperwork.

I was doing a lot of stuff on my desktop PC this morning, and it had been working fine, but it decided to crash again, about a half-hour ago. I thought I was going to have to reinstall Windows again, but after a few reboots, it came back up, and has been working fine. My faith in Windows 10 in general, and this PC in particular, is getting pretty shaky. I still really don’t want to have to buy a new PC right now, but I might have to. I have other things to worry about right now, so I’m going to hope for the best. But if it keeps crashing, I’m going to have to think about either getting a new PC or maybe giving up on Windows 10 and switching my desktop machine over to a Mac Mini or something like that.

Anyway, that’s not really what I wanted to blog about today. I had a few subjects I was going to cover. First, I was going to return to my comic book indecision post from late last year. The news that St. Mark’s Comics is closing got me thinking about that again, along with a couple of articles related to the DC Universe service. (Specifically: Young Justice sounds pretty good, and the comic book library associated with DC Universe is getting bigger.) I was never actually a regular customer at St. Mark’s, but it was a pretty well-known store in NYC. I still like the idea of supporting independent brick-and-mortal comic book shops, but it’s not really practical for me to do that right now, even with the shop that’s right across the street from me.

I’m also still not ready to switch to all-digital though. I’m going to hang in there with Westfield for a few more months, at least until the end of Warren Ellis’ Wild Storm series. After that, though, I may stop buying monthly books again. I’m looking at my pile, and I see that I’m about a year behind on some of my books. So I’m probably going to need to take a break.

I had a few other things I wanted to blog about, but I should probably stop now. It’s almost 11am, and I want to actually read a few comics today too. I read Christopher Priest’s run on Justice League yesterday, and I want to try getting through maybe a dozen issues of something or other today. I still can’t decide what though. And I probably won’t make it through a dozen comics today either. I’m actually feeling like maybe it’s time for a nap now.