The List Persists

Image unrelated.

I’ve proven fairly poor at keeping the blog flowing, though I feel oddly fine with it. The last 12 months have been all sorts of strange, and The List proved more of a constant focus. While I finished very little, I made progress on quite a lot.

45,000 words I’ve managed to write, which is only half way there. More importantly, it’s half way there. With how things were going last year, I didn’t imagine I’d get that far. It’s been a few hundred words here an there, usually on the bus back and forth. The important thing is just to keep going and not to worry whether or not it’s trash. Trash can be fixed. Blank pages can be fixed, too, and usually by writing trash. It seems to be a pretty simple two-step process (after the various steps leading up to getting myself to start in the first place.) I feel pretty good about getting the first draft out this year, and having some time to take care of the last mile on a number of other things.

As noted above, I’ve obviously failed at the whole “post a bunch of stuff on the Internet” thing. The next blogs-per-month data set for 2019 is going to have a big hole in the summer. Life happens, and it keeps on happening. It doesn’t help that at any given moment I feel obligated to dislike doing anything on Facebook or Twitter. It’s part of why I ended up going the blog route at all. Searches for “Why you should hate Twitter” and “Why you should hate Facebook” result in piles of rants, which may all be justified. “Why you should hate WordPress” results in mostly unrelated things, and one post telling me I’m supposed to think WordPress is confusing, but I should use it anyway. They’d done a better job of one of the following: 1) not being evil, 2) not looking like they’re evil, 3) somehow controlling all Internet opinions of them. I’m guessing it’s one of the first two.

Something I have certainly learned, and it explains a lot of what feels like the procedural generated Internet of today: quantity > quality until people actually start looking. I have no idea how many people have read this vs. how many have “read” it (picking up key words and randomly subscribing automatically because someone decided they should code a robot to do that.) If I were interested in aggressively amassing followers I’d probably be better off setting up something to scrape reddit for that auto-summarizing bot and just copy/past them. I’m not really into that, though, so I’ll just keep posting when I post. Perhaps this year the mood will strike more frequently. Perhaps more now that I’ve started getting Chase to record his complaining about things with me. Why keep all that to ourselves when we could have randos consume it and share in the whatever that is. The important thing is it’s a good time, and there’s plenty of creative commons music to slap on it to give it that extra bit of pizazz.

Ninety Days

I’ve got cats now, so let’s get that out of the way. Two brothers, both black, that we’ve named Mac & Cheese. They purr pretty much instantly on human contact, and really seem to think my foot is something to attack.

Moving on.

We’ve come to the last quarter of the year, a somehow sudden and impending end. Time is a powerful thing, moving out of our control, but given the right mental state it provides a powerful source of motivation. It’s amusing that we’ve cut it up into arbitrary segments, with titles and names and numbers. Monday of this week was the 1st of a month, and the first work day of a week, which makes some of us perceive it as a more important day than if the 1st fell on, say, a Tuesday. It’s this sort of odd power we have granted our calendars and our clocks over us that creates New Years’ resolutions, and of course The List, which I’ve been tracking, and not paying quite enough attention to for the last many months.

I’ve certainly not done well at keeping up with a number of what seem like the easy ones. I’m still pretty awful at keeping up with the movements of Facebook or Twitter, but I think I attribute that to my just not finding much practical use for them. I don’t know if I particularly need to be even angrier than I already am about politics at any given moment, which seems to be the lion’s share of what I see on either (along with all of the advertising I can do without.) My lack of time spent on these things didn’t, unfortunately, translate into a lot of time spent on anything else particularly productive. For the more important things, it’s easy to look back and see nine months that, from this point, seem mostly wasted. “So much more I could have done,” one might think.

My older, younger self would have thought just as much, but I find myself of a new mind. These three months are easily the best of the year, and a time when I find my energy to be at its highest. While I’ve learned to appreciate the summers here, my need for them doesn’t quite seem to match the native Pacific North Westerner’s craving for it. These next cooler, darker months have always been the sort I’ve preferred. It’s a different sort of appreciation of warmth, where I can huddle into coats and gloves and scarves and get warmth from man-made sources, which might play to some odd survival instinct I’ve never really had the outdoors affinity to put into any sort of practice. What I do have experience with in these colder seasons is that food tastes better, coffee seems more effective, and a drink seems to provide more warmth (albeit not a practically useful sort of warmth).

A fine three months, indeed. If you’re so inclined, go out there and latch on to whatever target you can: A first, a last, a holiday, a solstice, whatever works. For me, next year will be 10 years since my self-declared “Year of the Bear,” and I’ve a feeling it’s about time for another one. There’s time enough to strike a few more things off the list before then.

Streamlined Ani-Mayhem Rules Cards

Ani-Mayhem was a game that existed because of the MTG boom in the mid 90’s. Everyone wanted in on that cardboard cash. Pioneer, who had gotten into the business of licensing Japanese animation for the US, decided to slap everything they had the rights to into a game. This included some things probably dozens of people had watched, but also had a lot of what we would consider classic anime. Dragon Ball Z, in particular, is one addition that they tossed in as a last ditch effort for traction. They had just gotten the rights for some distributions of DBZ (thought I don’t believe for long), but while the DBZ set proved to be fairly popular, they ended up discontinuing the game. It probably didn’t help that the overall card power in the DBZ set was so much higher than the first two sets. A new DBZ card came came out the next year, and while it had horrible production value it was far more popular.

Ani-Mayhem was a mess, but for some reason I found it endearing, and ended up collecting most of the cards, including all but I think two of the promo cards. Once the game was discontinued I remember picking up some set one booster boxes for $15 each, which was certainly a good way to pad out the collection.

The rules changed with each set, though rarely being much better than the previous version. The rule book was like the old MTG rule books, but without all the flavor. Sixty pages of rules and examples for the complicated tracking of everything ever and all the options you had in any given situation. It was very much like they were trying to translate a video game RPG into a card game, but with the D&D annoyances of party splitting and characters actually getting killed.

Last year I took a look at all the cards I still had and decided to make probably-functional theme decks for each of the anime that were in the game, except for Ah My Goddess, which only had like three cards in the game. DBZ got two decks, one for the A-Team and one for the B-Team. Ten decks in all, with 67 cards total per deck (down from the DBZ minimum deck size rule of 99). So now I was left with the problem of boiling the rules down so that I could maybe someday get someone to play it.

So I’ve done just that, and got them compressed down to four standard card-size blocks of rules. I purposefully ignore a lot of the rules for options (like running away from combat and such) for the purpose of streamlining them. I’ve made a few decisions on keywords and such to make things make a bit more sense. Reducing deck locations from 7 to 5 also helps ensure that multiplayer games won’t take forever. The last time I played a multiplayer game was sometime between 2002 and 2004, and it took us 3 hours to finally, as a group, concede defeat to the disasters.

So I’ve finally managed to sit down long enough to do this, fiddling with phrasing and font sizes to make everything as short and compact as possible. I’ve made the assumption that most of the icons in the game don’t need explaining, and anything I’ve missed can be figured out on the fly. Here’s what I’ve managed to put together. In the really strange event that you’re one of the ones of people on the Internet who still look for things relating to Ani-Mayhem, you’re welcome to use these yourself.


My Typical First Hurdle and the Power of Spite

I’ve noticed something that consistently happens to me whenever I set out to tackle one of these sorts of life project things. I get sick. I get sick almost immediately. Every time.

“I’m finally going to try and run a mile. Oh, but I guess I caught a cold instead.”

“Maybe I’ll try to run a 5k this year, but first, maybe I’ll try some gastroenteritis.”

“This year I’m going to to consolidate all my projects and ideas and things I want to get done and start actually finishing them. Oh, let’s have a nice bout with influenza first.”

This is not something I knowingly pursue, and in fact I’m unsure how I would be trying to do this every time. The consistency of it is enough to make me angry at the universe. So here I lay, trying to keep my body temperature feeling consistent and slugging down Aquarius Zero and Ibuprofen (which I can at least enjoy pronouncing as “ibupurofen”) and trying not to breathe on anyone.

What I’ve learned from the universe seeming to inflict me with varying intensities of temporary disease over the years is that it’s very easy to stumble on that first hurdle and let yourself get set back for days, weeks, even years. So each stumbling is a choice. Let yourself lose that fire you had before something comes along to take the wind out of your sails, or come out of it with a renewed strength to spite the fates. Spite, I find, is one of my core motivators.

I eventually did run that mile for the first time years ago. I ran that 5k later and lost 40 pounds in the process (I gained 20 back, but hey, I still call that a success.) This is where I say “screw you, universe. I’ve got things to get done.”

Just as soon as all my muscles stop aching and I stop hearing what I presume is the sound of blood moving through my veins.

Studying Kanji Again

In America we have spelling bees. English is, as far as the written characters themselves go, not a terribly complicated set of characters. How to spell complicated words is pretty much as far as we go in the measurement of skill in just the characters themselves. Japanese goes to the other extreme, as if they looked at their character set and went “okay, that’s complicated, but how can we make it more complicated? Let’s take a bunch of stuff from this other language, rename the characters several times, but also keep the original names.”

Yesterday I saw the word 御御御付け (“omiotsuke” as in “miso soup”) on some variety show were someone was being tested on obscure kanji readings and it occurred to me that in America we will probably never have a show where a bunch of famous people cheer someone on as they try to spell things, with random, raucous bursts of laughter, shock, and applause. Our language just doesn’t leave much room for it. Neither does our culture, it seems, as we seem to have designated Jeopardy to be the only show where actually knowing anything is still celebrated.

So I’m getting back into trying to learn kanji. When it comes to studying, everyone has their own little quirks for how they most easily learn. Fortunately in this case, someone recommended to me an Android app simply called Japanese Kanji Study that lets you choose a number of study methods. Kanji is grouped into sets based either on standard Japanese education or the more vaguely defined structure for the JLPT (wherein “this might show up” is the theme for those.) When I last took the JLPT kanji study wasn’t something I focused on, but with this app I’m somehow more eager to do so. I’m about 2/3 back through the N3 range, which has a lot more variety than I remember, but it looks like I’ll be able to check off my N3 goal fairly quickly. This is a rare app that a) costs more than $0.99 and b) seems worth the cost of unlocking all the features (I think it was $12.99). Compared to the price I’ve paid for physical study books that seemed much less effective for me, this seems like a pretty good deal.

Personally, I like to queue up a block of kanji and just force myself through it exclusively through the writing practice, failing repeatedly until I’ve burned them all in to my brain, then I’ll go back and review all the previous sets to see what I forgot. So far it seems to be working rather well.

I should also mention Aedict as being the best version of a Japanese dictionary I’ve found for Android, being unsurprisingly based on Jim Breen’s old wwwjdic web dictionary.

The List

As mentioned in the last post, my resolution was to make a list and then start checking things off of it. It’s a set of standard resolutions with a whole pile of other “I really just want to find time to get this goofy thing done” things. The two I’ve already completed/removed were sorting out what I wanted to go on my NES/SNES minis. Low hanging fruit to be sure, but still something I wanted to get done.

The remainder of the list, vaguely in order of priority, and certainly not in order of simplicity/time consumption, is as follows (and only slightly censored to preserve some of the items where knowing the title might ruin the surprise):

  • Arthur – Teach Arthur the Alphabet
  • Stories – Write <That Story Finally>
  • Business – Work out selling art online for Shoka
  • Exercise – Do 5 Continuous Chin Ups or Pull Ups
  • Education – Catch back up to the N3 JLPT
  • Education – Get to where you could pass the N2 JLPT
  • Exercise – Get back to 88kg
  • Gaming (Android) – Learn to use Unity and publish an Android game
  • Gaming (Table Top) – Make a Deck Building Game
  • Gaming (Table Top) – Make a Lego-based Dungeon Crawling Board Game
  • Gaming (MTG) – Build an Unstable MTG Cube
  • Gaming (MTG) – Rebuild my old elves deck
  • Collect the History of Violence Movie List
  • Get back on Social Media
  • Art – Draw Things and post them on Social Media
  • Gaming (Table Top) – <Board Game Sorta>
  • Gaming (Table Top) – <Internet Reference> Dice Game
  • Gaming (Android) – Publish another Android game
  • Gaming (Pokémans)  – Catch ’em All
  • Start on N1 kanji
  • Gaming (Ani-Mayhem) – Finish Ani-Mayhem Rule Cards
  • Gaming (Ani-Mayhem) – Actually play a game of Ani-Mayhem
  • Gaming – Sort out SNES mini games
  • Gaming – Sort out NES mini games

Most of these are solo projects, though several involve some friends of mine who have helped develop some of these ideas (or started them in the first place and the goal is to get us to actually do something with them).

I’m holding back on crossing out “Get back on Social Media” for when I’ve proven to myself I can get to doing this stuff consistently. Getting Shoka to start actually using her own blog is also a part of this. Here’s hoping.

It’s a blog, then.

So among my long list of things on my 2018 resolutions list (the first was to make the list in the first place) is “rejoin the Internet.” Those few who follow me on Twitter/Instagram will have noticed I’ve been posting a bit more. Those following me on Facebook will have seen a smaller bump, as I’m becoming less and less interested in consistently updating things there. The inability to force it into a chronological list still makes me angry, even after all this time.

So I’ve settled on a blog. This is where I’ll be making updates on the rest of my list of things I want to finish in 2018. It’s mostly gaming related, though there’s a variety of other categories in there.