Friday, November 27, 2015

Xmas wishlist official 2015

Gift shopping can be hard!  At the risk of sounding pretentious, here's a helpful post for anyone trying to shop for me this year (don't feel obliged to!).

My wishlist can always be found at my "profile" which I keep regularly updated at  Currently we have the following main items as things that I happen to be in need of...

Car dash mount for phone

A petticoat to wear under my Journey cosplay.  Probably one with drawstring waistband.  Like this one which I borrowed from my friend.
Musician's earplugs / concert earplugs
A nice cloth messenger bag (like the one that I carry around everywhere)
A nice gyutou or santoku chef's knife and a sharpening stone (because my current knives suck) (paperback is fine) Taken, thanks Yang!
A sewing machine Don't know if I actually need this anymore
A cute key-cap (I lost my Kiki one and need a replacement D:)
A good-sized cast iron skillet (10 inch?) (so I can sear meat really good) Taken, thanks BZ!
Sea salt (koshering salt) (I just have table salt right now, harder to measure and spread with fingers)
Cute lens cleaning cloths for glasses
Bath & Body Works "Cherry Blossom" shampoo, conditioner, shower gel (not japanese cherry blossom) <- Looks like this scent is only available online now
Kontakt 5

Of course, don't feel restricted to the above items.  Actually, the best thing I can ask for is your time and company, or a handwritten letter or a personal message or phone call.

For those of you who want to be a little more creative, let's try and not go the route of getting me random Hello Kitty items that I don't have any practical use for...I think we're a little past that point by now =/  Of course, Little Twin Stars and Cinnamoroll are always still fine :)

Cash is always appreciated!  If you don't like giving hard cash, amazon gift card works just as well.  I also frequently shop at nob hill and whole foods.

I'm not in need of any MtG supplies, stationery, or any games either, really, but if you want to get me a game, you can head to my steam wishlist here.  Notably, the Mighty Switch force games are on sale (see here).  If you want to get me clothes, the brand that I wear right now is one based in China, translated to English as "Fairyland", you can see some pages here and here.

I need to get all my gifts bought and sorted out too...good luck to everybody this holiday season!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Take me back
take me back
back to the past

I didn't even want to open Facebook this time; I stopped myself, in fact.  Can I actually think back to any real value that I've gotten from that online space recently?  Well, actually, I just asked a pertinent question about cooking to an old friend, and that was -certainly- useful, but besides that....?  Well, I guess it could be worse; at least it's not the ghost-town that G+ is *laughs*.  Still though, it's pretty bad, I think.  Maybe I should look into telling the omnipresent FB algorithms what I like and don't like to see in "the stream", but for one thing, I've never been all that confident in that, and for another thing, what's to say that there's anything I =would= like to see anyways!? (not to mention, it could just be another "close door" elevator button, hah!)

I'd rather just fish around for remnants of the old past.  C's xanga archives are still up, actually, and of course there's always "Love Everlasting" (no, not the album), my old archive which is now hosted on wordpress.  Heck, maybe I should just ask and see if any of my old friends' sites are still saved in the cloudy time machines of the interwebs.  Caclarient, for one!, no, it seems that that one is all gone =(  Phirepyro is still there in the archives though, wow!  Man, such good names.  Gosh, how =awesome= it felt, creating a space for yourself, defining yourself through your own name.  It was liberating, fun, and...dare I say, healthy?  I mean, sure, maybe we were all just stupid immature teenagers venting about problems that didn't really matter (no, I don't believe that), but still, looking back, that's a loss that I feel.

I know I've had thoughts about making a handwritten blog; about being personal, bringing back the "humanity" to the online spaces that I might have the opportunity to curate.  But I think there is also something to be said about building that sort of persona and identity--one removed from your real name, before all of this silly business about "social profiles" and "friend groups" and UGH!  Back when it was all just spaces that you curated yourself--your own little corner of the internet that you can just set up however you want, and visit others who did the same.  Am I the only one who misses any of that?

At least this blog is a little reminder of what things could be.  And of course, the 3rd incarnation of my website is still trying to hold fast to that tradition as well.

I had some more things to talk about, but I'd rather not right now.  I know I'm in a little bit of an upset mood; it was due to something sort of silly that I'd rather not get into that is not really a big deal at all.  Right now all I really want to do is call it a night...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Back to the Band Room...Again!

Tonight I went to go see the FHS marching band kids perform for their last night rehearsal of the marching season before championships.  The last night rehearsal has always been a big deal for me so out of all the days to stop by it's usually my favorite.  Last time I went to go see the band kids I believe was a year or two ago, I think also at the last night rehearsal.

So many things to write about!  Ahhhh!  So many things have changed since I was drum major 9 years ago, of course.  Marching band was a huge part of my life for those of you who don't know or who didn't know me back then.  It was something you really put your everything into, although it was also probably more stressful than anything else I've done so far in life, hahaha.  I was actually thinking about it a few minutes ago, how it really puts things into perspective -- my current job and troubles and everything seem so much more relaxed and easy than things were back then!  But of course, keep in mind that I was just not that good at handling those kinds of pressure situations back then -- I was REALLY stressed out during my tenure as drum major, in a way, probably more than I had to be...

Anyways, things have changed so much!  But at the same time, it was nice to recognize one or two old faces too!  Warren apparently is still there as music staff, and so is Bryan "Poptart" who was just a freshman during my senior year as DM!  I couldn't believe it at first,!  It was great getting to catch up with them and share some old stories...apparently Poptart is still spreading the lore of "Kenneth riding on an elephant at a monster truck rally", of which I have an illustration here, from my 1kbwc set:

As a small tangent, the 1kwbc "set" of 250 cards that I made is downloadable (with some preview images) at my 1kbwc page, on my old google sites website.  I haven't made a page for it yet on my new website, but should eventually.

For those of you who don't know the story, I'll go ahead and explain it's probably my #1 most retold marching band story of all time.  So Kenneth was my good friend at the time, also a senior, and lead trumpet player.  As the lead trumpet player, also responsible for a significant portion of the band -- I mean, we were never the biggest band, maybe 90ish total?  So we only had like 50 or so horn players.

Anyhow, Kenneth was taking these afterschool math classes of some sort (I'd call him a geek, but that'd be coming from me, the guy who took multivariable calc, differential calc, linear algebra, stats, etc. all at community college and maxed out on transfer credits going into stanford, never having to take any math classes at college ever), so occasionally he'd be late to nighttime rehearsals.

Now, being a small band, we always tended to have problems with volume and sounding loud.  I was always trying to get the band to play louder during warmups, especially my former section, the flutes, who of course are notorious for never being heard!  But this one day we were off in our usual spot and I was warming up the horn players and I was just, come on guys, what's the matter?  It was even worse than usual that day.

So I had all the horn players huddle up together, and I was like "Guys, what's going on?  Why are you guys so soft?"  And I think either Poptart or Bobby Rose points out, "Kenneth's not here."  And I was just like "......oh."  because of course that made perfect sense.  But then I was like "No no no, come on guys, we don't NEED Kenneth.  Alright,'s what I want you guys to do:  I want you guys to think of things that are LOUD.  Like, really loud things!"

"Elephants!" someone says (I want to say it was Sai Masumoto?)

"Alright!  Elephants are loud!  Good, good....alright, what else?"

"MONSTER TRUCK RALLY" -- this time it was Sam, trombone player, whose last name escapes me now for some reason =(

"...wait, what?"

"Monster truck rally!!"

"...uh...okay, yeah!  Yeah, okay!  Monster truck rally!  That's loud too!  Alright, what else?"

"....Kenneth!"  (maybe Bobby?)

".........ooookay.....well, sure, I guess."  "Okay, okay, so, here's what I want you guys to do.  I want *Kenneth*....RIDING on an Elephant.....AT A MONSTER TRUCK RALLY!  THAT'S how loud I want you guys to be, okay?  Everyone got it?  Alright, let's do this.  Number 4 (or whatever the chord progression was in those days). "

So we did it...everyone was playing at blastissimo/blartissimo/blat city...and it was....quite something.  Yeah, man, it was pretty loud, and basically sounded like utter crap.  I cut them off.

"UHHHhhhh....yeah.  Well....okay.  So, you guys....basically sounded exactly what I told you guys to sound like.  .....yeah, that was terrible.  Let's never do that again."

And thus was born, the legend of "Kenneth riding an elephant at a monster truck rally", the loudest thing in the universe.

Speaking of loudness, DAMN, those flutes marching down there, what the heck??  I could hear them loud and clear, it was insane!  Their flute angles were perfect too....omg, I was so happy and proud.  Wuaahhh, flutes, you guys are awesome!  And holy crap, they have an awesome flute solo, and the girl is just TOO GOOD.  Like sure, it was mic'ed and everything, but even so, her tone was AMAZING, and the vibrato was spot on and everything, like....what the heck???  Unbelievable!  Mad props to her!  Also, I know it was mic'ed, but tonight I heard something I would never, ever, ever hear before--a staff member talking about trumpets: "Yeah, I heard them, but they were getting drowned out by the flute."  wahahahahaa, when pigs fly!  Man....crazy!

Drumline had some really sweet and cool moments!  My senior year's snareline definitely could not have pulled off what they did I don't think?  They had some sweet visuals going on...actually, hornline had some really sweet visuals too.  I was really hype about the whole thing, to be honest.  I was quite impressed!

Anyways, it was quite fun getting to go see the kids again, I think I felt really good about it this time especially, and it was also really great being able to say hi to Warren and Poptart again.  I even brought along Bob the tuning rock and Jane the marching stone, which I showed to em so they could remember, hahaha.  Good times, very good times!  Little known trivia--I actually gave Bob and Jane to Chris Betts after I graduated, and it wasn't until later that he returned them to me for safekeeping.

Kids seem like they're doing really well!  Rehearsal also seems more chill in general now too...probably due to "certain things" having mellowed out a bit; I'm sure if you've been there you'll know what I mean.  I wish them all the best on their champs performance, and also wish that there will NOT be a super-crazy windstorm like there was during our second champs performance for my sophomore year (my first year doing MB) where our flutes were making soft noises even when we weren't playing, and the guards' hats were =everywhere=, and we could see trophies being knocked down on the tables in front of us....haha, what a crazy time.

Also, some traditions don't change...they're still doing the ol "Are you cold/why not/because we're firebirds" chant, which actually hit me in the feels when they did it, remembering all the times I shouted that myself.  Some traditions =do= change though, and I think they're super weird!  Their last night rehearsal has an in-uniform performance, which I think is cool but don't really like because....I don't really like uniformed performances to be honest, I love just having the band be....themselves!  And they don't do senior 8s and 8s at that rehearsal anymore either!  Which I think is a big shame, to be honest, since I think that's pretty important.  I guess apparently they do it the week after, along with a bunch of other senior stuff?  Very interesting...

Anyhoo, I'm off to bed after a pretty exciting night.  Feeling better so I'll probably make it into work and to FNW tomorrow, though I'll still have a leftover dry cough for a while I'm sure.  Looking forward to a good friday!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Two years ago on this day, November 17th, I presented Love Everlasting to Aivi & Surasshu!  Wishing Aivi a happy birthday today :)  Reminds me that it's time to really start working on Christmas stuff =X

I got sick...poo!  Just my body telling me that I need to take a rest, which makes sense.

Work on Zenith Fighter has been going alright!  I've got my Gunner character moving around and jumping, and I've even got one-way platforms implemented as well.  In addition, I've got my Projectile framework all written up, so I have super-parameterizable projectiles that can be created with a bunch of different properties, all using function-chaining syntax.  My next step is to get an enemy implemented, and some damage this point I'm just hoping to get all the different basic elements of the game working one by one.

I've been getting more and more requests for commissions!  If this is you, a reminder that my policies on this sort of stuff is all written up here.  I can't take any new commissions at the moment since I'm all booked up with work for Copy Girl, as well as having to finish up some stuff for Mysterious Space.  I don't have a lot of time for making music these days, so my commission rates will probably going up...I can't justify giving up previous music-making time when I still have my own things I need to accomplish, like my social dance album! (which is going to be giant)  I also need to do some more collab work with A-zu-ra when I can...=P

My latest song for Copy Girl is this one, which I initially intended to be a theme for Fuze, the rocker, which is why it's got attitude and a screamin guitar-like solo, but the team decided to swap the two songs, so now this one is for Stain and the other first theme that I wrote is for Fuze.  Confusing!

We did a BFZ draft at work and I got an insane pool!  U/R devoid with 3 kozilek's sentinel, 3 nettle drone, 2 vile aggregate, 2 touch of the void, processor assault, turn against, clutch of currents...pretty insane.  The decklist is here if you want to see all its glory.  I actually subbed out a chasm guide (3R for 3/2 haste rally) for a Boiling Earth...I have a dearth of 4-drops and also have firemantle mage so I thought chasm guide would be reasonable, but I think it's still my weakest card and I'm not really losing much by cutting it.  Boiling Earth on the other hand I haven't played with BUT I think it could actually be really great.  Not only does it mop up scions, but think about all of the power commons that it deals with -- eldrazi skyspawner (in a big way), lifespring druid, nettle drone are the big ones...even incubator drone makes a scion, as does eyeless watcher, call of the scions...also makindi sliderunner...and it even randomly hoses other things like malakir familiar and zulaport cutthroat.  That's not even taking into account the combat situations that you can set up by casting it post-combat, plus sometimes you will randomly get value out of casting it for 7.  So I think it's the right choice, though of course you will be looking to side it out if you are against some deck that doesn't have targets. (probably a black one?)

The GCC dance on Saturday was really fun!  I ate dinner with Winnie and co beforehand, which was much yum, and also did a little bit of work on Zenith Fighter while waiting for the dance to really get rolling.  I got to have some really fun dances, especially some great times with JJ and Marie and Joachim too, and I got to meet JJ's friend Luna too!  Who encouraged me to make it out to Mission City Swing...sigh, too many reasons to go now, haha.  Well, I think I've clearly resolved to make it out there, but probably not this week just due to being sick...maybe next time...

FNW this week should be good though!  (Richard is DJing)

This Thursday (11/19) I'm planning on heading out to FHS to go see the band kids do their last night rehearsal...should be interesting!

Friday, November 6, 2015

I'm not sleeping enough...haha.  Sometimes it's hard to catch yourself, just like you sometimes don't realize how unrelaxed your back and shoulders are until you get a massage; you just don't really think about it too much since sometimes you just go through the motions.  Seems that right now I don't have as much of a buffer for getting not-as-much sleep for a day and then being okay with it; not sure if that's just because I've accumulated debt or because I'm just getting to be an old fogey.  Whatever the root cause is doesn't necessarily matter too much anyways =P

Thursday, November 5, 2015

There is actually something really sweet about Plague Knight's story and budding romance with Mona through Shovel Knight ~Plague of Shadows~.  I was actually super duper happy seeing them dance together.  I feel like usually the plotlines and such that run through similar sorts of games are a little corny and cheesy and all, but this one didn't feel that way at all!  I mean, sure, you could say it was a little predictable, but I don't think that made it any less sweet.

I think a big part of it is songs like really setting the mood.  virt really did a great job here, as he always does of course.  And I think in a way, it stays really true to what really gripped us and drew us into video games during the golden age -- a large part of it was the music, and the magic of those animated sprites.  Yes, the music was of a limited palette, and the art was very restricted as well, but those songs and graphics had =character=!  I wouldn't be the first person to say that perhaps it's exactly because they are less realistic that it's easier to extrapolate and interpret them.  Oh, Shovel Knight...what an insanely well-done game.

"I definitely think Shovel Knight's success is due to the brilliant designs of the 8-bit generation. Those games were fun, impacting, emotional, joyous, and much more. A lot of the feelings and enjoyment found in those game designs have been lost in today's age. I think having those elements be present again brought back great memories to a lot of people who experienced those games. And those who didn't play 8-bit games, Shovel Knight introduced that 8-bit gameplay in a way that was more approachable than booting up an NES game."

We must be responsible.
We must be faithful and loyal.
We must keep our promises.
We must remember the past
We must learn to say no.
We must apologize for our shortcomings, while accepting our failures.
We must stay true to ourselves.
We must remember what is important in life.
We must breathe.
We must be diligent.
We must accept others, and accept ourselves.
We must do what we need and what we want, not what we "should".
We must be honest, most to ourselves.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Been another while, huh?

Life has been pretty well lately; not been too "scared" lately.

I'm starting dev work on a new indie project!  Just working on it myself this time, code name "Zenith Fighter".  It's supposed to be an RoR-inspired roguelike where you go through rooms and fight enemies and grow stronger, but with more emphasis on good platforming and dodging and kiting.  Think of the dodging in games like Rhythm Gunner and Metal Slug, but put that together with action rpg-ish attacks and advancement?

Anyways, I've been thinking a lot about code architecture as I set out to start things off.  I want to take a pragmatic approach towards the code -- since it's a bit of a longer project I can't just hack in whatever the heck I feel like, and I should plan out the overarching design patterns and class hierarchy and responsibilities, but at the same time I also want to make sure I don't get too wrapped up in it because at the end of the day it's best if I can just Get Stuff Done (tm).  HaxePunk has served me well and I think I just really enjoy the no-nonsense simplicity of the framework that it offers, so I'll be sticking with that.  I also made the decision to not support networked multiplayer because doing so would be too much effort for not enough gain.  So, local multiplayer it is!  The plan is to distribute the native build and then have support for gamepads or whatever.

For a while I was considering using an Entity-Component System, like Ash ( which has a Haxe port -- someone has even already done some work trying to roll Ash and HaxePunk together into the "Flaxen" framework.  But the more I thought about it, the less practical it seemed for my use cases.  I think ECS excels when you have a bunch of independent systems and lots of shared behavior across different entities.  Something like an RTS game with lots of units that have alike behaviors.  For my platformer-style game, it is true that we have a lot of logic that we want to share across enemies and such, I think a lot of the logic is that I mean my enemy wants to do something like "while in walking state, walk forward for 2 seconds.  Then transition to the shooting state where it does not walk and shoots at the player 3 times with cooldown.  Then transitions back to walking state".  Etc etc.  Now, this is definitely possible to do in ECS, via either having the FSM state embedded in some component, or by adding and removing components to mimic FSM states.  But I think fundamentally if you have your movement logic and shooting logic and everything split up across multiple systems, it makes it harder to reason about exactly how logic is happening within a single state?  It's much easier to have a centralized place for each FSM state where you can define exactly what happens for every aspect of the entity, as opposed to trying to think of movement, gravity, attacking, etc. independently.

So I guess it seems to me like if you have a bunch of systems that are easy to reason about independently, you should use independent systems.  But if you have a bunch of logic which are tightly coupled in your mind by design, then you should just tightly couple them in the code as well?

That said, the core idea of avoiding inheritance hell is a good precautionary warning to take heed of regardless.  For example, in my game Players and Enemies are fundamentally very different so they probably don't have a shared base class (aside from HaxePunk.Entity).  Their movement handling is very different in that Players have input-controlled movement and Enemies need some sort of state-dependent AI movement behavior.  However, we want to share the actual code for moving entities by a given amount and handling collisions, so that should be extracted into its own static shared function.  I guess what I'm saying is that ideally you share logic by having a bunch of pure input/output helper functions as opposed to trying to bake both shared data fields (member fields) and shared code functions (member functions) into some base class somewhere.

I dunno.  To be honest I think the most important part is just to start going at it; I think as I try to code things out, the use cases will become clear and I'll be able to form things sensibly.  Some parts of the design are also sort of up in the air right now too, such as how exactly character advancement and enemy difficulties will work.

Think I'm on a Seven Lions kick at the moment.  (See  I feel like the dubstep-ish sound usually is a dish enjoyed in sparing, tasteful amounts because I feel like I can't handle too much of it before it gets grating, but I guess you could also say the same about normal trance and progressive, in that when you listen to =too= much of it it starts to sort of just blend together (and makes you sleepy).  Maybe I'll try experimenting with trying to move towards a Seven Lions-type sound, just to see what that's like, at some point.  For now though, I've got commission projects and such to work on.  I managed to get a good boss theme written for Copy Girl, though my first two attempts were false starts (hate those!).

Pretty behind on xmas letters, probably.  I've got only 9 done, sigh -_-;  Well, I'll try to get one more out of the way today!

Tried out my straight nib pen again yesterday...calligraphy feels really really satisfying!  Of course I'm still sort of getting the hang of it and my script is still pretty wobbly and I haven't actually gotten any actual alphabet/script memorized, but it's still fun to try and copy off of calligraphy worksheets.  I'm also quickly understanding how an oblique holder would help a lot, especially for slant styles.  Maybe I'll go and get myself some more nibs and holders soon after some more practice.