On the edge of 36

It's New Year's Eve for me!

Tomorrow starts my thirty-seventh year on the planet because I'll be thirty-six years old. That's how the math works, right? When you're zero, that's your first year, so... Yes.

Ah, I am glad I studied computer science. It came in handy.

I've been... a bit of a shit recently. Well, I can blame lots of things but I've just been an up and down emotional rollercoaster. I could and slash or want to blame it on things like my results in Magic tournaments, but that's not quite it. It's... more existential. Or some bullshit. I dunno.

I streamed for a few hours tonight. It doesn't matter how many viewers I got since I would have wanted to practice Magic anyway, so why not stream it? But still. At some point the brain goes "Why am I doing anything? Am I actually being a service to the world?"

And that makes me sad.

I know several people who just seem to do things. I don't. I have intense fear of, well, everything. And for fuck's sake do I not have the excuse for it. I am blessed in so many ways. And yet I let so many opportunities pass.

Why? Why am I so scared? What made it so innate in me?

What makes me hate myself so much?

I've made it through thirty six years. That's nearing the halfway point of life expectancy. I could die tomorrow. I probably won't, but things happen. I've already lost two of my gradeschool friends. Their families lost their children.

I'm alive. So why am I not living?

Why

I’m not feeling well.

I was really exited for the prerelease weekend, but my perfectionism is getting in the way of my joy.

When I was playing? Fun. When I was done and looking at my results? Well, they weren’t perfect, so I have to feel bad, right?

Well, of course not. But my brain sure wants it that way.

They don’t teach you how to control your own head. I don’t think that means there is someone to blame. It’s probsbly not sonmething you can easily teach. I don’t know. I only took one class on psychology and it was just reading and taking a test each week. If you passed on Monday you didn’t have to go to class again until the next week. I didn’t go much. I can take tests.

But that’s the cliche I am. I did what people would consider great in school. I graduated third in my high school class.

I still feel like a failure about that.

Why? What does that get me?

Upgrading

I bought my first Apple product in 2004. In the past fourteen years I’ve been mocked for being a fanboy, and perhaps the label fits, but I was the dork who in his first programming class wrote a “quiz” in QuickBASIC where every single answer was mocking Macs because I knew the teacher was an Apple fan, and hey, it was 1997.

I even picked up an old Macintosh... I don’t even know what it was, and set it up in front of my one friend’s dorm room and said “Look at me, I’m so and so! I use a Mac!” because he used an iMac. I was (am?) an asshole. But I still see him when I go to America, so I guess he’s forgiven me or it wasn’t that insulting to begin with.

But between seeing him use it, another friend who was in Computer Science and my Japanese classes using Macs and one professor who used Macs despite ever other single professor at the time using Windows or some sort of Linux, I got curious. And my Sony Vaio was one of the biggest pieces of shit I ever owned. And really, it was 2004, and this was a Institute of Technology so not having even a semi decent laptop to work on while waiting for classes was becoming a pain.

So I bought a MacBook.

I brought it to Japan that summer. My first time in Japan. The tech guy at the college in Japan said it wouldn’t get on the college’s network. I figure it out. I beat the shit out of that MacBook. I tore it apart to replace a dead hard drive. I gave it to my father and he used it until last year where it just got to the point where it wasn’t good enough. Still. That little fucker did some work.

But it also changed me a lot. Despite its flaws, I hadn’t owned a non-Apple computing device until I built a PC in January 2017 just so I could play Magic Online on something that wasn’t a virtual machine and I was tired of going into BootCamp. I hate that fucking thing, and even though everyone tells me that streaming on PC is easier, I constantly run into problems. But I’m not here to talk about Windows.

I bought a Series 4 Apple watch today. Yeah, pricy. Yes, I am lucky that I have the disposable income to buy it. But when I placed that order, I looked down at my wrist and thought, despite its, many, many flaws, I love the fuck out of my original Apple watch.

Much like I didn’t use Apple stuff until 2004, I didn’t wear a watch until the Apple watch. I tried, but it never stuck. But this expensive dingus with its stupid little rings that track my steps, exercise and how many times I stand a day got me thinking about my health more. I lost a lot of weight the first year I had my Apple watch.

I listened to a lot of My Brother, My Brother and Me while walking around my old neighborhood before I got divorced and moved because I wanted to fill those stupid rings. And I did. And I was healthier.

The divorce, well, it messed me up a lot. I got off track. But I still look at those stupid rings every day and at least think about it even if right now I’m not doing my best. But I did it before and I know I could do it again.

Could this Series 4 come and I have bad luck where I get a defective device and I bring it into the store time and time again and keep getting duds because sometimes you have bad luck with things? Maybe. Maybe it will be so great that I will love it as much as my original watch which is on my wrist as I type this. Maybe it will be a nice little bump and I’ll feel kind of silly for spending money on a new one.

But like that MacBook, I beat the shit out of this watch and it has been good to me. And in a week or so it’s going to go back into its box. Maybe I’ll sell it. Maybe it will stay in my closet until I move someday and I have to decide whether to trash it or sell it somewhere for a couple yen. Maybe I’ll stop being emotionally attached to things at that age. But for now as I await the new one, I look at the old and as stupid as it sounds, I have to give it my gratitude.

Back to the Grind

Ooh, I was a bad boy over summer. Not a single blog post while in America! Not a line of code written for EPIC.

Lots of translating, though. Lots. Almost to the point where it "interfered" with my "vacation". But it’s good. I mean, can I complain? Yes. Should I? No. I worked to pay off the trip to America and then some. Which is good because bills, bills, bills. Including automobills. Or however the song goes. I never quite hear that one line right.

It’s funny that I say "vacation" to America because it no longer feels like going home. Yes, my parents’s home, which was my childhood home, hasn’t changed that much. But it’s no longer “home” home. Japan is ultimately my home.

And I’ve already been back for almost a week. What. How does that even...

If I learned anything from this last trip, my body does not get along with jet-lag as well as it used to. Or maybe I’m trying to do too much. Or maybe because I am a little fatter, I know, you don’t need to tell me. The scale isn’t lying.

But a few days in and I have already hit up two PPTQs. Blech. Modern. I dunno. I’m sure there are people much more dedicated to the format than I am who are doing just fine but I “don’t get it”. It feels like the price and deck variety of Legacy with the volatility of Standard mashed up into a format with kills so fast you might not possible even have the chance to draw any reasonable interaction and, blah. I am just whining now. But the PPTQ season goes on for a bit more and I’m sticking with Mardu Pyromancer because, well, I don’t know exactly other than it seems not terribly positioned and learning a deck is something. It’s not an easy deck, that’s for sure.

But what is.

I know what’s easy is just eating junk food and sleeping, two things I am trying to organize a bit better. No one would shut up about the “intermittent fasting” “”diet”” when I was back in the States so I figured I’d try it. And by try it I mean it is at least a good reason to force myself not to eat snacks late at night and that has to at least do something for my waistline. Right? Maybe? We’ll see.

Anyway, translation and some tournaments this week. Meetings and presentations for school the week after, and then we slowly get back into the school year grind.

When’s winter vacation begin?

The other 472

I was 473 out of 2719 players in Grand Prix Shizuoka. That means I performed better than 2246 players. And yet I can only think about the 472 who did better than me.

This is not healthy. This is bad. I made mistakes, and I acknowledged them. I tried to have a fun time. But with a desire for perfection comes a problem of stressing out over failures.

This is a card game.

I am hoping that I can take these experiences from my fun time and turn it into a better life for me. Because I did better than 2246 players. Some of that was luck. Some of that was skill. And that’s why 472 were better than me. Luck and skill. And I have to acknowledge that the dice will lay will they will.

There’s a part of me that doesn't believe in luck. Thinks I should blame myself for each part. I rolled a two on two six-sided dice? Well, it was my fault for letting go the second I did. Grabbing the dice the way I did. Breathing the way I did. And these things are true. But there’s gravity. The air. The other people around me. Things outside of my control. And I have to try my best to remember they exist. Or I am going to lose my mind.

I have to be better in all ways. Both card games and life.

I would walk a quarter mile

I am fat.

Okay, I’m not fat. That is a rude thing to say. But I am not happy with my weight. I could blame The Medication. If anything, though, I have had less of an appetite ever since going on the medication for depression. Perhaps it is just a lack of exercise. That bastard, exercise.

Who am I to call exercise a bastard. Perhaps it was born in wedlock. Again, I am apologizing a lot today.

But I walked the other day. And my thighs are now b-b-burning like a hunk of love. Except replace love with pain. And hunk with eternal. “Burning like a eternal of pain.” That is some shitty grammar.

There is pain. Which is life, I do suppose, so I’ll just remedy that with what I can. Drink your water, children. It'll get that body hydrated. Sweet, sweet hydration. Important even during the winter months.

Which I have to say other than being fuck-cold this year have treated me well enough. No colds. I think my last one was around a year ago. I binged Archer when I could not get out of bed. So that was a pretty good cold as far as colds go.

We are in the last half of February. Time for shit to get warm. Then it will get too hot and I can can complain about that, but for now I can look forward to “Not too hot”.

Ah, life.

Breaking Traditions

Every year I play Chrono Trigger from start to finish. (Well, define "finish" as one of the various endings. Sometimes I used New Game+.) I have done this for… Well, a long time now.

This year I didn’t.

I started. I intended on finishing! But at the last minute I decided to spend New Year’s Eve in a different way. So I didn't finish the game. I broke tradition.

Well, I played the game. And 2017 includes me finishing the game. And I might play it again this coming December. The thing is, this bothers me. As if I have broken some cardinal life rule that, well, I just fucking made up.

2016 was a lot of that for me. I tend to log the games I complete and write a post about each one. I started, but didn’t. Then I got into Magic: The Gathering again. And my blogging tapered off until I tried again and then lost track again.

So I don't know.

One thing I do know is this: I enjoyed playing Chrono Trigger on the train December 31. And again while lying in bed January 1, hungover. And Ending 6 (Spoilers?) where you see Robo and Atropos playing out the Crono and Marle bit was adorable. And then Tata runs in after Magus but there is Crono, Marle and Lucca. What? That was interesting, but I sure wish there was more to it. Was this just a quick idea tossed out to give extra endings? Or were there limitations that prevented us from getting more?

That is what I would like from a Chrono sequel. A short RPG with a whole bunch of time paradox and twists and turns where everything you do has some weird effect.

If this game does exist, I want to play it. If it does not. Hm.

A Long, Hot One

Doing my business in the bathroom during my free period, some other teacher came in and did theirs. Then as they left they turned off the lights. I sat in the dark, alone, for a few minutes as I finished my, ahem, duties and then left the room.

Habit on their part. I would wager. Saving electricity. I do not mind, actually. Bright lights tend to bother me. I think it is the blue eyes? I read that somewhere.

I saw a headline the other day for an article about how lonely people replace human touch with long showers. Makes sense. Might not be true. Might be. Oh, life, how coplicated you are. Science is always at work.

It is getting cold. I am worried that this medicine for my anxiety is making me sleepy. I slept for eleven hours yesterday. Why does the idea of a “twenty minute nap” seem so appealing at 8pm? Maybe because “I can get up and brush my teeth after the nap!” and “I don’t have to get up, I just have to yell at Siri to remind me to get up in twenty minutes!” I have a vague recollection of the alarm going off. Then I have a the solid memory of waking up at 7:30 in the morning. Whoops.

I still have not played World of Final Fantasy. I am scared to. What if I do not like video games any more? I have not played many in the past few months. Been out playing Magic. But it is not always easy to make it somewhere where there is a tournament. There are none in driving distances outside of Friday Night Magic and Sunday tournaments. Otherwise I gotta ride that train and that money adds up. But who likes staying at home alone every night? Some people, I guess. I envy them.

It is time for a long, hot shower.

Getting Bye

I won a Grand Prix Trial on my birthday.

That's a hell of present.

My mind is too much of a blur to remember much, but Death and Taxes is an uphill battle. Jund is a pile of fuck that I hate dealing with. And Delver BUG is annoying. But when they have no green mana and you blind-call Tarmogoyf with Cabal Therapy? And not only are they are holding two of them but three Abrupt Decays? Well, you can’t help but let out a sigh of relief. And then turn cards sideways and smash face.

After the tournament was four of us played a little game where everyone opens a pack then picks eight lands. The packs get shuffled together. Everyone is at ten life and gets four cards. The remaining cards go in the center. You can play lands you draw from the pile or cycle them. If you don't play a land from your hand you can pick one from the pile. But when there are no more Islands there are no more Islands. So choosing those eight lands is important.

We each bought two packs and used them as the prize pool, along with the rates and foils from the packs. Holding a Nissa in hand all game, unable to play her, and knowing I was not going to win sucked. But I have my play-set. I cannot complain.

After that I got some curry for dinner and drove around for a while. Picked up a copy of World of Final Fantasy. But I was not in a playing mood. I listened to some podcasts, drove around. Browsed some shops.

Right now I sort of feel like I wasted my evening, but perhaps it was necessary. Maybe the mental strain of all these Legacy tournaments got to me. Maybe the open road and some podcasts was just what my brain needed.

Right now I feel tinges of regret, but also a bit relaxed. So perhaps I made the right choice. Grand Prix Chiba is in less than three weeks. I have two byes. World of Final Fantasy awaits me tonight.

Things are not so bad.

I have an Apple

This one is a little less of a bummer.

When I was a freshman in 1997 I wrote a Quick BASIC quiz as part of a class assignment. The theme was mocking how stupid Macintosh computers were. My programming teacher was a jolly, vest-wearing man. As he took the quiz he laughed, passed me and said "You just haven't used one yet."

In my daily life now I use:

  • A 2015 MacBook Pro
  • A 2013 iMac
  • A small iPad Pro
  • An Apple Pencil
  • An iPhone 7
  • An watch
  • An tv

I sat for way too long trying to decide whethere I needed those a's and an's.

That is a hell of a lot of Apple products. I am often called a fanboy. Okay. Sure. But I have to say I haven't had many problems recently. None. And I do quite a bit.

Every work day I am hooking up the tv to a projector or TV and using AirPlay from my iPad to teach class. The kids sure enjoy the Pencil. I use that same iPad for translation work when I'm on the train or out and about. You know, when I don't feel like carrying around my MacBook Pro. Which I use for my translation work as well as developing apps which I use in class on said iPad and tv. Also, I make games which development goes on both the MacBook Pro and iMac. And the iMac I stream on. I do have to boot intoWindows

I don't think I have to explain the amount of use my iPhone and watch get every day. It's a lot.

So I'd like to think I do a lot of work with it. So it weirds me out when people say "If you don't have problems you don't do a lot of actual work."

Hm.

Well, I guess some problems include Siri not being great with foreign names. So if I want to listen to Ana Ng I just have to say "Hey Siri, play Lincoln by They Might Be Giants". Being in Japan, I tend to reference people by their relationship to me instead of their names. That is quite Japanese, so it works out. Siri just does not play nice with some names.

But I log every single yen I spend. Every single one. I want to make sure I'm spending them yens the right way. Lifting up my phone and saying "Hey Siri, open Drafts." Tap that little microphone button. "680 new line curry dinner" and boom I just have two taps to add to my spent file.

So I'm happy with all my Apple stuffs. Maybe I am a fanboy. Maybe you have problems. I'm sorry. That sucks to hear. I hope things work out. I am getting lucky with a little bit of life. That makes me happy.

Loneliness

This one might be a bit of a bummer.

I usually have Saturday plans. I did not this week. So my Friday Night Magic was a bit of a choice. I could go to the close place, maybe grab dinner afterwards with some of the folk, go home and sleep. Sleep in Saturday, go to a Grand Prix Trial, go home. Or I could have gone to a store a bit further out but would have given me three tournaments to play in. Cheaper tournaments, worse prizes, and I'd be getting home real late. Parking is a little pricier though. Would have gotten home around 3 or 4 am. But I had no solid Saturday plans.

I went to the close store. Hardly anyone showed up. Ended early. No one wanted to go out for dinner. I went home. Finished watching Donnie Brasco. That's a rough movie. The idea of overworking to the point of damaging relationships and your own psyche hit hard. Although I haven't hit any women. That was a rough watch.

I checked Twitter and the store I decided not to go to was "popping" as the kids may say. Seemed like I made the wrong choice. I did get some sleep, although not particularly satisfying sleep. So now I am on a train full of people heading to a tournament. I hope I play my best. I hope I see some people I know. I like people. Some people. They make me feel less lonely.

There has been this "trend" on the Internet to post these little images saying "You are important. We love you!" and if these things make you happy, I am glad a thing made you happy. I find them insulting. They are a stinging reminder of lonliness. Sorry, Internet Stranger, I know you mean well. You told someone they are important! Maybe you made someone feel better! And I think you did. I think you made yourself feel better.

Which is fine. We all do selfish things. But lonliness stings a little harder when a gif of a piece of glass says "You are not alone! I'm with you" Thanks, Internet Stranger, but I am. And you're not.

Ah, boy, I'm just so tired of all these Star Wars

Star Wars first came into my life after a Saturday evening viewing of the last half of The Empire Strikes Back. It must have been around October as I remember later attempting to construct an R2D2 costume out of cardboard. It didn’t work out. Most things don’t.

As long as I have been going to the local [1] Hard-Off, I have seen a copy of the widescreen laser-disc version of the original trilogy. It cost around ¥4000. I wonder if they have sold it yet. It has been eight years. I am not quite sure of the lifespan of a laser-disc. Its heavy box has been in my two hands several times, contemplating purchase. I would need a player too, although that is hardly as extravagant as some of my old tech. Stuff can be fun.

I am unsure why I have not loaded up the new trailer for Episode VII. I am not particularly worried about spoilers. Perhaps I am worried about being hurt again. I do remember defending Episode I at one point. “It’s new characters,” I claimed. “It’s starting over. Episode IV wasn’t as good as V,” I argued. “Things can only get better.” Some things don’t.

But it’s just a movie. Some say. It’s just a cash grab. Some say. Big corporations going after money. Some say. A very passionate argument against things one dislikes. Seems like lots of people have the time to spend on things they do not like. What a luxury.

I wonder who gets the titular line in The Force Awakens.


  1. Thirty or so minute drive away.  ↩

Cancellations

I canceled my Apple Music subscription this morning. They got nine-hundred-and-eighty yen out of me because I forgot to after the free trial. But they can have it. It was a nice free trial. And now I can listen to music once more before my new month expires. I will make nine-hundred-and-eighty yen again one day.

I cancelled my Kindle Unlimited subscription this morning. They will not get any money out of me. Maybe for a few more books here and there, but I think I have already exhausted all of the options from their free selection. Shapeshifting vampire-bear sex thrillers are not on my list. At the moment. I am sure I could be persuaded.

The phrase "I want less stuff" seems to pass into my ears more and more. People getting super into the KonMari method. Then later I hear the excitement of watching Netflix or talking about the thousands of photos that await eventual sorting and processing. The idea of nigh-infinite media available seems more stressful than a shelf or two of things, but perhaps I am just ahead on the next hipster curve.

Reading, watching and learning

A free trial offer for Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited popped up for me the other day when I was picking up a copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. So I signed up. I downloaded Childhood’s End and read through it over the weekend. Ten dollars a month, Amazon asks for these “free” books. If I can get a few novels I’ve intended to read over the years read because of this service, that might be nice. I’ve already got a few lined up and have been reading at least an hour a day.

There seems to be a lot of dollar “steamy sex with a thing” novels available for free on this service.

My son’s undoukai, Sport’s Day, was this past weekend. During the hours I watched him there, most of that time was spent watching him sit. Which is more interesting than seeing him run around. He does that every day. Seeing him sit and watch, or not watch, the other students perform is much more interesting. What kind of person is he? Does he talk to his friends while watching? Does he just pay attention like the Very Good Little Boy the teachers hope he will be? Or does he ignore it all with reckless abandon? Much more interesting than seeing which child can run the fastest.

Childhood’s End left me feeling surprisingly free. It had a “the universe is big and how significant are humans and what we do?” taste to it, as well as a “would we still create if we have no struggles?” spin. I wonder about the assumption that we would not. That we’d need to create artificial struggles to try to rebel and keep on creating. Then again, my games haven’t been progressing much as of late and I’m well aware of my own struggles. But there was this, albeit brief, realization of how what I do both does and does not matter. And I can do. So I shall.