Category Archives: Life

The Truth is Complicated

Maybe I need to see a shrink. Maybe I need to reveal my struggles to a friend. For now, my vague online ramblings will have to do. 

2015 has been a year of lies, and I will finally be glad when I can move past it. 

The last few years have been the most difficult ones in my entire life, and none but a few have any clue that anything is wrong. Have I become too good at being vague?

The truth will soon be revealed, and I can choose to stay and face the aftermath, or leave for a chance at a fresh start. 

Now is a good time to start over. It’s a time of change. I am preparing to leave my current situation and withdraw from certain social groups to find new, meaningful ones. It’s been a while, but I want to be open and honest again. 

The remainder of the year will be full of uncertainties as I wrap up this chapter of my story. I hope that I can take charge of my life again, maybe even for the first time.

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Posted by on November 6, 2015 in Life


Celebrating Small Victories (and a Music Challenge recap)

It’s been a while!

Last night concluded the Hero’s Journey 60-day workout challenge. Along with Blaugust, which ended less than two weeks ago, I now have two challenges under my belt. And I feel happy. Unlike those arbitrary gaming achievements, these are achievements that mean something. I wanted to do better at the things I was challenging and the challenges were the stepping stones.

They also helped to exemplify two things I’ve known, yet have had difficulty acting on:

1. Action is king.

Preparation can be important, but doing is how we learn best. Riding a bike, learning an instrument, learning sports or a video game, cooking, painting, computing; anything we become good at, we become good at because we do them a lot. The fundamental actions become second nature to us, and we can focus on the grander scale of the project at hand.

If I want to become better at writing, I need to write more. If I want to compose great music, I need to compose more. Will I make crap along the way? Yes! But, I won’t get to the goal without getting up and putting one foot in front of the other. So, I just have to pretend that I’m in ARK, and just my crap behind. 😉 Maybe I can compost them to make them into something useful.

2. You can’t have it all.

During these two months, I had to make choices. Do I spend these two hours gaming, or do I spend them blogging, exercising, and writing music? I made a commitment to the latter, and my gaming time suffered. My TV time suffered. My reading time suffered. But I am now at peace with the reality. I can’t do everything I want to do, but I can make a choice on what I will do, and try to do it well. And by doing it a lot, I will do it better. The other things will be there for me for the rest of my life.

To celebrate this victory, I am going to spend tonight logging back into WildStar, a game I’ve sacrificed for the past few months. Will I continue to have time to invest back into an MMO? I don’t know. But tonight, I’m just going to have fun!

I am taking tonight off from my self-imposed Music Composition Challenge as well. I never set an end date, and I may never. It’s a habit I need to keep if I intend to make anything of the skill. I would never have been able to keep this up without the help of these other two challenges, so a big Thank You to Belghast and Chestnut! 🙂

Here are my personal top 5 tracks from the 26 I’ve made so far (in the order they were made):

I thought the interlocking guitar parts were pretty cool on this one.

This one is different, and I love how it creates a specific mood.

Piano, Guitar, Bass and Drums. All the parts compliment one another.

My foray into writing orchestral strings. It sounds pretty legit. I impressed myself.

Compositionally, this one is my favorite. The melody switches over from the cello in the first part to the violins and violas in the second, but the cello line is still flavorful throughout.

Do any of these evoke a certain scene in your mind? What sort of game situations or scenario would these work with, do you think?

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Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Life, Music


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Day 27: Blah


Blaugust Entry, Day 27

Oh boy. It’s 11PM and I don’t know what to write about. Well, I have lots to write about. It’s more the matter of what I feel like I can write about.

My weekdays have been so full that I rarely have the energy to play any games midweek.

I took a break from staring at this screen to play some Triple Triad on my phone. I like this incarnation better than the FFXIV version. It has character cards from FFI all the way to FFXIII, too!

I haven’t played WildStar since I hit level 50 on my second character about a month ago, maybe. I don’t even remember when it was. I decided to take an MMO break. I haven’t played FFXIV, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World; all of these games I still have installed on my PC, I haven’t touched recently.

Interacting with my game friends on Twitter is one thing, but not being able to do anything together in the games that we are a part of makes me sad. The first time I even saw one of my WildStar Twitter buddies in-game was a few weeks ago, and it was in ARK!

Playing games and being social can feel like work sometimes. I don’t want to have to make a schedule to play together with others. But playing on my own terms means playing alone for the most part. I either need to compromise, or give up certain expectations from my gaming experience.

I wish I had entire afternoons to sit at home and play. Just like in the old days.


Music Challenge #14

A Track-a-day Challenge as an exercise in establishing efficient creative-workflow.


Posted by on August 27, 2015 in Gaming, Life


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Day 26: Blank

Blaugust Entry, Day 26

Today was a physically demanding day. It’s one of those evenings where you don’t want to do anything except sit and stare into space. No gaming tonight.

I read a little bit more of Have Space Suit-Will Travel thoughIt’s a masterclass in brevity.

Tomorrow is going to be a stressful day. A lot of uncertainties. I don’t like uncertainties.The stress is already seeping in.

My mind is blank because it is so full. I can’t think about any one thing because it’s trying to think about a hundred. I think I just need to close my eyes and let them all flow out.

I wonder if I will explode one day. Implode maybe?

On to Day 27.


I’m going to take a break on the Music Challenge for today. We’ll see if it affects my overall resolve.

Good thing I’m ahead by one day.

Music Challenge #13

A Track-a-day Challenge as an exercise in establishing efficient creative-workflow.

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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Life


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Day 24: Adventures in ARK and The Longest Journey

Blaugust Entry, Day 24

Today was a day off from work. A large part of it was spent with my son. He turned four yesterday. We went to the forest preserve, took a walk on the bike trail, kicked the soccer ball around, rolled it down repeatedly off a hill, and picked up some acorns. Then, we went to the mall and visited the Lego store, then to the kid’s play-place, then to McD’s for lunch and a big serving of soft-serve ice cream. I took him to the music store to see if he would be interested in anything – I think he enjoyed pressing buttons on keyboards and turning turntables more than actually making sounds. I got him a cheap harmonica in the end. It’s a start, at least.

The evening was spent playing ARK and The Longest Journey. I have to say it was an interesting adventure in both.

In ARK, I went out on a hunting expedition with my Trike and Dilophosaurus to a nearby watering hole. It was a total disaster.

I wanted to find some larger prey, and maybe a Raptor to tame. I took on what I thought was a lone Trike. There were two of them. After a bit of a scramble, we managed to take care of them. It wasn’t over yet. I’m still getting used to my dinos’ aggression settings, and because of the way it was set, my Dilo decided to attack a pair of Stegos which were peacefully munching on grass. Armed with tranquilizer arrows, I ran to the rescue with my Trike and managed to finish them both off. I used quite a few of my arrows by then.

Deciding that I should head back, I pulled out my map and compass, as the terrain was heavily wooded and very hard to see past my surroundings. The path I took led me straight into a Carno, a big, bad, meat-eating machi…dino. It was one of those frozen, “Oh, shit…” moments. My dinos were set to passive aggression after the Stego incident, so they didn’t fight back. Amidst the confusion, I managed to set my Dilo’s aggression back to fight the Carno. I used up the rest of my remaining tranquilizer arrows on it while it managed to mortally wound my Trike. It killed my Dilo as well just before it went down. I barely escaped with my life.

I salvaged what I could of the meat and saddle from the corpses, and with no ammunition left, I checked my map once more and bolted for the direction of the shoreline where my fort would be. I made it home, breathless and shaken. It was my first major encounter and loss since my series of death as a naked straggler on the beach. I wish I had remembered to run Forge in the background so I would have something to show of it. Afterward, I tamed a couple more Dilos and another Trike to take the place of the old one. I need to practice controlling my dinos better so I don’t repeat this incident the next time I go out.

Later in the day, I spent some more time playing The Longest Journey. I finally reached Chapter Four, and it’s starting to get interesting. The long dialogues haven’t changed. One thing the game doesn’t lack is exposition and backstory. I pulled out my anatomy coloring book and set to work.

The one major conversation which impressed me so far today, and maybe in this game, is the one with Abnaxus, the Venar. They are a species who somehow transcend time, and perceive the past, present, and the future simultaneously. Their speech reflects this, and really brings about a fantastic flavor to the narrative beyond the usual fantasy and sci-fi tropes.

I was also impressed by the selection of books at the Sentinel Enclave’s library. They are akin to the lore books found in the Elder Scroll Series, but instead of being scattered throughout the world, there were these dozen or so selected books presented in this one location. Some were histories of the land, some were tales of legends, but they fleshed out the world of Arcadia with their selective glimpses into this magical world. From what I could gather from all the details of prophecies and whereabouts of sacred objects for my mission, it seems like I have a very long way to go. The Longest Journey, indeed.

Onward, to Day 25!

This month-long blogging challenge is almost over! For more info and more bloggers, check out the official Blaugust page.

Music Challenge #11

A Track-a-day Challenge as an exercise in establishing efficient creative-workflow.

Ugh.. the mix is pretty bad. That’s what happens when you use the same tone for all the guitar parts with a careless use of reverb. I apologize.


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Posted by on August 24, 2015 in Gaming, Life


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Day 23: Habits Taking Root

Three challenges. Three habits. I can feel them starting to take root.

Normally, when I challenge myself to do something on a daily basis, it doesn’t last very long. Definitely not long enough for it to become habit.

Today was an especially long day for me. The morning started at 6:30am with one of my three challenges: The Hero’s Journey exercise challenge. Then to my church gig at 8am, setting up and rehearsing until 10am, performing and running sound, and tearing down the equipment by 12pm. Then, back home to finish cooking twenty people’s worth of pasta in two batches (because my pot is not big enough, plus, it worked out better because some people came later, and fresh, hot pasta is much better than room-temperature pasta). Serving guests, chasing kids, running to the store for coffee creamer, plus playing cards for the older kids, playing some more (sometimes hiding in my room until they drag me out), until 6pm. Band practice until 9pm.

Phew… I’m finally back home.

And guess what?

I didn’t go straight to bed.

I genuinely wanted to finish my other two challenges. Not out of obligation, but because it was my own desire. My brain did a double-take.

Is this a habit forming?

I hope so. I felt a little proud for feeling this way instead of wanting to crash right away.

My next step is to figure out a way to fine tune and redirect this habit once these challenges are over, so they don’t just sputter and die.

Oh, I also found out that Triple Triad is available on iOS now. #goodbyelife

Onward, to Day 24!

To participate in this month-long blogging challenge, check out the official Blaugust.

Music Challenge #10

A Track-a-day Challenge as an exercise in establishing efficient creative-workflow.

The mix is a little muddy, but I like the notes. 🙂


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Posted by on August 23, 2015 in Life


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Day 21: Creative Multi-tasking

Blaugust Entry, Day 21

I nearly overslept this morning. Do I have too much on my plate? I don’t know. Maybe. I barely had time to fit in a session of The Longest Journey last night.

I bought myself one of those anatomy coloring books. I could have bought the new Mistborn novel. Or the Skyrim Histories book. Or any number of cool goodies I found while browsing. Instead I got a coloring book. For Medical Students. Why???

My room is arranged in a way that everywhere I turn, there is something interesting for me to do. My gaming PC. My music studio. My book on physics concepts. My sketch pad. And now, this book.

I guess it’s continuing on my recent theme of finding different creative outlets, and one for each mood I’m in at the moment. I’m making use of my music equipment for my daily challenge. If I’m feeling curious, I’ll flip a page in the physics book, because science is cool. The coloring may help with understanding human shapes when drawing, as well as practice my pencil-wielding skills.

I admit that I am a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type. I may get sucked into a topic for months at a time, but I end up hopping around interests over the long run.

After I got my workout complete and my music track made, it was getting really late. I loaded up The Longest Journey, pulled up the walkthrough on my phone, and set down the coloring book on the desk.

As I clicked through the dialogue trees and listened to the interesting but looooooooooooooooooooooooong voice overs, I worked on the book. It’s that kind of game. The walkthrough is worth it, because it doesn’t spoil the dialogue. It just helps me get through the random clicking-on-strange-places-to-find-obscure-items-in-order-to-solve-a-puzzle-that-happens-way-later-in-the-game situations. The game is less about the puzzles, and all about the story. It’s essentially an “interactive audiobook with pictures”.

It’s good that I found something that could keep my hands busy while my ears take it all in. Playing and learning a skill simultaneously? Multi-tasking for the win!

Onward, to Day 22!

To participate in this month-long blogging challenge, check out the official Blaugust.

Music Challenge Day 8:

A Track-a-day Challenge as an exercise in establishing efficient creative-workflow.

I shoulda left the guitar out, but too late. Ah well.

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Posted by on August 21, 2015 in Gaming, Life


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Day 19: Which is the Real Mask?

Blaugust Entry, Day 19

There is an interesting blog discussion going on about Internet identity. I picked it up from Syl’s blog at, where she responded to a blog post written by Jeromai over at

Do we wear these Internet masks of anonymity so we can actually express our true selves?

This hit home with me, because this is why I have forsaken my Facebook life to pursue my Twitter and blogging life.

I purposefully keep my online social life separated from my offline friends and acquaintances – maybe until I meet some who share my same passions and values. Our real life relationships and communities expects certain things of you when it comes to shared beliefs, proper actions, and proper social conduct. Being raised by Asian parents, and being a part of several Asian communities as well as a religious one, there is often an unspoken pressure to conform and to not make others uncomfortable by standing out. There are societal merits to this way of thinking (just ask anyone who visits Japan as a tourist), but it can be a massive hindrance to self-expression.

In my semi-anonymous online life, I have the freedom from the baggage these relationships carry–freedom from the pressure to be anyone other than who I am. Is it a sort of escapism? Possibly. I may be avoiding some of my real life issues by hiding out in my comfy online man-cave. Yet, it is also helping me address them in ways that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

The beauty of the online identity is that I have no physical identity–this identity I was given, not by choice, but by fate. I am a spirit without body. The only thing I have to share is to the world, is myself.

Which is the real mask, then? The face we show to social media, hiding behind the security of anonymity, or the face we actually show to our family, friends, and coworkers on a daily basis.

Chew on that.

Onward, to Day 20!

To participate in this month-long blogging challenge, check out the official Blaugust.

Music Challenge #6:

I’m making a short music track each day as an exercise in efficient workflow.


Posted by on August 19, 2015 in Life


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Day 18: Random Ramblings

Blaugust Entry, Day 18

This was written last night:

I spent some time going through and rereading all of my posts made here since last November. It has definitely been an interesting journey so far. Having a tangible record of where I’ve been and how I’ve changed is a precious thing, indeed. Thanks for coming along on the ride.

It’s getting late writing this, and my thoughts have been bouncing back and forth between writing between different topics. Maybe it’s not my night to write.

I woke up to a pseudo-nightmare. It was one leading up to a devastating outcome, with clear foreshadowing and ominous build-up with chaos beginning to take over just as I woke up. It had just the same weight though, because it presented the threat of a very real loss, albeit in a surreal, abstract way.

We had our weekly meetup today at the mall. We had a good time. We played at the children’s play-place while his mother buried her face in her smartphone. Yes, I get bitter whenever she does this – choosing her manga and texting over the people right in front of her. He came home with me tonight – he kept insisting and bawled when I said goodbye and closed the door to their car. After getting home, we brushed our teeth and went straight to bed, even though he still wanted to play. After about an hour, I got back up and worked on my Music Challenge and this blog.

No time for gaming tonight. Tomorrow is an early start.

Onward, to Day 19.

Music Challenge #5: A little VGMish? A little too cheesy, maybe.

To participate in this month-long blogging challenge, check out the official Blaugust.


Posted by on August 18, 2015 in Life


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Day 6: Pizza with Forks

Blaugust Entry, Day 6

When I picked our son up from the sitter’s, he jumped for joy and ran to hug me. It’s been a week since he last saw me.

We went to our local Denny’s and waited for his mother. We were having dinner for our weekly get-together. It would be another 15-20 minutes until she would arrive, so we sat out in the parking lot, talking and pointing at cars. He -loves- cars, and can recognize most major car brand logos on sight. The breeze felt nice – it’s been surprisingly cool all week.

I pulled out my phone and opened up Monument Valley. It’s a great game for a young child to play with. The gameplay is so intuitive, even an almost-four year old could understand what to do. As we got through the first few levels, some of the mechanics became a little more abstract. I found that, with a little suggestion and gentle nudging, he was able to figure out the solution by himself for the most part.

I was also amazed when he remembered a specific moment when the floor crumbles before you are able to walk across it. It was about a month since we last played that level, and that was the first thing that he pointed out to me when we approached that section.

Kids are amazingly smart, and they process a lot of information quickly. Sometimes (maybe most times), all you need is to point them in the right direction, and they will pick it up in no time. Last week, he wanted to know how to stab his pizza with a fork, and after showing him how I held the fork, he immediately got it. Yes, we were eating pizza with forks. Sue me.

I am having doubts about these meetings, though. After I hug and kiss him goodbye at the evening’s end, he gives me this slightly confused and melancholic look. I often get frustrated, angry and/or depressed afterwards, and I can’t focus on anything productive. My idea was that, our son would be happiest when he is with both of his parents instead of just one. I have no clue as to the long-term effectiveness of this experiment though, but hopefully, it will leave him at least some positive family-time memories, even if only subconsciously.

Onward, to Day 7.

To participate in this month-long blogging challenge, check out the official Blaugust page.

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Posted by on August 6, 2015 in Gaming, Life


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