Well, not posting for an entire year until the very last minute is apparently becoming a habit of mine.
2022 was a weird year for me professionally. I don’t get into work stuff here like I used to 15 years ago (🧓🥲), but things have sort of calmed down on that front and seem to be going well now.
I am still editing the novel I mentioned in my last update (The Storm). Editing is going a bit long on this one because I 1) wrote a novella in between editing sessions and 2) keep finding continuity errors that I have to fix that affect multiple parts of the story, so edit, re-edit, re-re-edit, etc. Hopefully this next round of editing is the last, then I’ll publish it. The novella is just something I wrote for fun; no publishing of that.
This year also brought some unfortunate changes to Twitter, and if I’m going to be completely honest, Twitter is one of the main reasons I stopped posting here as much. Micro-blogging (or whatever you want to call Twitter) scratched that itch for me, but now that Twitter is an Elon Musk enterprise, I’m not super thrilled about it. Here’s where you can still find me on all of the things, including Mastodon.
I saw a KPop show this year (AleXa, Rolling Quartz, and Pixy), which was pretty dope. I don’t do live concerts much anymore (COVID aside), but that was fun.
Here’s what’s been stuck in my head most recently:
Will 2023 finally be the year of my return to blogging? Tune in next year to find out!
I don’t post many updates here anymore – though looking at my last draft, it seems like I meant to post something in August of 2020 and forgot to. Whoops. Honestly, I’m a lot more private than I once was, and I don’t really want to put my whole life anywhere online, even including this site that I control. But I can’t go all of 2021 without writing something, right? checks date Better late than never, I guess.
I’ve written several more short stories and novels since my last update about Ghost. Reiterate has been done for quite some time, I’m just super uncertain of how it turned out, so I haven’t published it. I wrote a short story with a working name of Cauliflower (it has nothing to do with vegetables) that I have no plans of publishing. I mostly wrote it because there was one specific scene I wanted to write, so I wrote a story around that scene. Heh.
My biggest project has been a novel called The Storm. I finished it a couple months ago, but I’ve only given it a once over and need to really dig into it for editing. It’s the longest novel I’ve written at around 91,000 words, so it’ll take a while to carve it up and figure out if I want to put it out into the world. In the meantime, I’ve been working on a short story that’s a sort of re-imagining of a story I outlined and partially wrote in 2011-2012.
Outside of the writing world, I’ve been playing Genshin Impact quite a lot since it launched. I’m sure that would come as a shock to no one that knows me, but I guess it’s worth mentioning.
Perhaps slightly more shocking is that I suddenly became a fan of Twice this year – completely randomly decided to try listening to some KPop and now here I am. I’ve only really dabbled back in the SNSD/Girls Generation days, but boy, was I big into JPop back in the early 2000s (did I mention that I met and got a picture with Taku Takahashi of m-flo and saw him do a live show at Otakon 2019? Cause I still can’t believe that happened).
Speaking of Korea, Solo Leveling is such a great read. If you’re into comics (it’s a full color manhwa/Korean comic), I highly recommend it. I started reading it last year, but the series just ended this week. It’s in the ‘power fantasy’ genre (MC suddenly gains a lot of power/abilities), and while it doesn’t really do anything unique, it plays in its space remarkably well.
And hey, look, if you’re reading this and I know you personally, I probably don’t need to tell you, but just in case, please get vaccinated. I don’t want to see anyone I know on /r/hermancainaward.
I used to write a lot of flash fiction over on my woefully neglected writing blog, and it sort of bothers me more to see that blog go without updates more than this one. The thing is, I do write a lot, it’s just all long-form now. Maybe it wouldn’t be wrong to say that I’ve lost the ability to write short-form – everything just turns into a short story now. I tried posting chapters from my novels there before, but it’s impossible to keep up with edits and doesn’t feel worth the effort.
I’m writing about this here just because I’ve been thinking about it lately. I sort of miss my little 500-word inspired-by-a-song stories, even if they were too fleeting or kinda pointless. Flash fiction gave me the opportunity to write a lot of things I wouldn’t normally write about – main characters that I don’t normally create, situations that are outside of the usual young adult formulas.
There’s a line in a song that I’ve been listening to for a while now that gives me that vibe that I used to get when I’d write stories based on songs. I keep thinking I want to do something with that, but then I’m over here writing a story about espers and coronal mass ejections that takes up 100% of my writing time.
Anyway, I just wanted to get that out there. I’d say to expect updates there (and here) going forward, but I can’t make any promises.
Life has been pretty hectic for the past month or so, and things aren’t going to slow down back to normal soon, but I feel like I’m at least over the most difficult (foreseeable) part. That doesn’t really account for the apparent four month gap in posting here, but, you know, blogging isn’t at the forefront of my mind.
One of the things I never got a chance to blog about was my new gaming PC build. If I’m being totally honest, the machine I built in 2015 was still perfectly fine, especially with the GPU upgrade I did last year. However, with the release of the new Ryzens, I got the itch. Last year I got the same itch because I wanted to downsize my tower, but managed to hold off, so this seemed like as good a time as any to do a new build.
I originally tried to build the smallest PC I could with a full size GPU and an AIO liquid cooler using a Dan Case A4. That turned into a cabling nightmare, so abandoned that idea, sold the Dan Case, and went with a bigger mini ITX case, the NZXT h200. I am not normally a fan of cases with windows, but I decided to give it another shot. The jury is still out on how much it’ll annoy me when dust starts to build up, but I put substantial effort into cabling, thoughtful layout, and tasteful LEDs. The messiest thing about the build are the AIO pipes, but there’s only so much I could do with them.
Pics of that are on my Instagram.
I really dig the way it came out. Now I just need time to futz around with the 3D printer I bought two months ago…
Visiting Japan has always been a dream of mine. The “About Me” page that I used to host here listed Japan as my dream vacation for around a decade, and before that, I can probably trace the roots of that desire to at least age 14 or 15. It started with anime (and video games, to a lesser degree), and evolved over time into a deep appreciation for the country and its culture. Getting to finally go this past month was an incredible experience that I hope to be able to have again without waiting another 18 years.
I’ve flown internationally only once before, but flying to Central America (and Canada, I would assume) is quite different from a transpacific flight. Our flight to Belize was a regular six-across Southwest 737 (or something similar). Flying to Japan was a wildly different experience. We flew ANA (All Nippon Airways), which is a Japanese airline, and while we were economy class, it was the nicest economy seat I’ve ever flown in (10 seats across also makes it the biggest). If you ever get a chance to go to Japan, I’d highly recommend this airline based on my one experience with them.
We flew into Haneda airport, got through customs, swiped ourselves through the monorail station (more on that later), converted a small amount of cash to yen, and that’s about how long it took me to make my first mistake. Everyone in Japan stands on the left side of the escalator, and there’s either another standing line or people walking on the right. I stood on the right, like a dumb American, and blocked people from walking. Whoops. Didn’t make that mistake again.
Japan is very orderly, something I really love about it and missed immediately when we landed back at our home airport and had to contend with American escalator “etiquette,” by which I mean one person taking up the whole moving walkway at RDU. It’s not just escalators, either. Most people always kept to the left side of the sidewalk, just as it’s sort of standard to keep the right side here in America, but people aren’t always great about.
We found our way to the hotel, which I knew would be small, but wowzers, was that jarring to actually see in person. If you are claustrophobic, you may not want to stay in a standard Japanese hotel room. I am not joking when I say that the open space in our hotel bathroom was as small as one of the bathrooms on the airplane. The room was just a place to sleep, so it wasn’t a big deal, but it was one of those things I was kind of done with toward the end of the trip (and there are very few things on that list).
The Japanese train system was very interesting. It’s one of those things I think I would hate if I lived there (due to rush hour), but as a visitor, it was incredibly convenient. You basically just put the English Suica app on your iPhone (or get a physical card if you’re an Android user or a Luddite), add some money to it, and swipe your phone on the terminal when you enter and exit a station. We probably spent about $10/day on travel, which is super reasonable, and there was a station a two minute walk from our hotel. Rush hour (and I would assume the last train of the day) was not a super pleasant experience though. Trains are so packed that people push in like sardines (still somehow in a very polite way) and brace themselves against the door frame until the doors close and their place on the train is secured.
Dining in Japan was really interesting for a couple reasons. Many Japanese restaurants have ticket systems when you walk in. You select what you want on the machine, pay, and you get a ticket that you hand to a person behind the seating area. The meals we had were generally inexpensive (some of my favorite stuff, like chicken katsu curry, was only around $7) and there is no tipping in Japan. We didn’t go to any fine dining places, but I generally felt like America could learn a thing or two from how the Japanese handle casual dining.
I couldn’t possibly give a daily play by play, but we got to visit a lot of incredible places, went to a bunch of neat shops, and ate some delicious Japanese food (some of which is not available here and I miss terribly). I’ll let the pictures do the talking here. WordPress’ gallery system is a little weird, so I’d recommend just scrolling down rather than clicking a picture and looking at the slideshow view (the portrait orientation pictures are stretched in that mode).
This trip was such a wonderful experience, I really can’t wait to go back. If you have the means to go to Japan, I’d highly recommend it.
I’ve been trying to keep up with blogging, and it’s been a little difficult, but I’m still doing better with updates lately than I have last year or probably the year before.
So, what has been going on?
- I have a new favorite king cake (Cannata’s gooey butter amaretto cream cheese (*insert chef’s kiss here*).
- I finished my anime rewatch spree (True Tears was about how I remembered it – fun ride, disappointing end).
- Apex Legends has been a ton of fun, but I’m really looking forward to them adding more game modes
- My goal to read more often feel through in a spectacular fashion, so I guess I am replacing it with “play Beat Saber for 30 minutes five times a week.”
- We are going to Japan soon (I fly a lot, but I’ll admit having quite a bit of anxiety over this long as heck, trans-Pacific flight).
I still want to write a sort-of-review about the 2018 MacBook Pro, because I definitely have some things to say about specific aspects of the machine, but I don’t feel like writing a full review. Also, I’m sure the Japan trip will warrant its own post at some point.
Editing on Reiterate is going kind of slow. I’m at the point where I’m getting burned out on it (it happens when you’re reading and re-reading and re-re-reading), but I did I take a small break in between to write something new, which can be found in my last post. I was shooting for April or May to be done, but I can pretty much guarantee now that April won’t happen, and May probably won’t either. I’d rather be sure it’s the best it can be, though, so I’ve gotta finish my due diligence on it.
That’s all for now.
Problem we face in current social media is people looking for words to validate and amplify their existing feels rather than facts to challenge and evolve their thinking and drive new/better analysis.
Broken clock now exults in finding anything that even looks like “12”. https://t.co/bNs8V6Ho2R
— Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie) January 2, 2019
I feel like I started off 2018 with some lofty goals and at least two of those crashed and burned, but I did release my fourth novel, Iterate, this year, and I also wrote the rough draft of its sequel, Reiterate. I also managed to blog quite a bit this year, even if that wasn’t terribly apparent until a few weeks ago if you only followed this blog. This year was also the first time I traveled internationally, which was a super cool experience.
As for what’s in store for 2019, I’m not sure yet, but I have some ideas. 2018 made it pretty apparent (if it wasn’t already) that Facebook is a scummy company, so I’ve been trying to make sure it’s less a part of my life than it has been in the past. I deleted the Facebook app weeks ago and the messenger app more recently from my phone and my iPad, but I admittedly did not delete (Facebook-owned) Instagram. I do still visit Facebook in a web browser on my computers, but it’s far less often, and I don’t particularly miss it. Through 2018, before I ever deleted the apps, I slowly began to scrub my data from the platform, removing likes, interests, personal information, demographics, etc, even though it feels like a waste of time since I have very little doubt that Facebook retained that data internally. Even if you’re not on Facebook, they’ve got a shadow profile on you. This is completely aside from the fact that for the past two years, I’ve had to unfollow dozens of people to remove crappy opinions from my timeline (note for the uninitiated that unfollowing someone means you’re still Facebook friends, you just don’t get that person’s updates anymore. If that sounds crappy to you, that’s because it is). Anyway, less Facebook in 2019.
On a similar note, I am also trying to cut back on Google services right now and in 2019. I definitely trust Google more than Facebook, but the fact of the matter is that when you are the product instead of the customer, the data that these companies collect on you is not insignificant, and that type of data is a target for misuse, theft, and exploitation. I’m not saying that a company having data on you is bad, but rather, this is a judgement call on two particular companies who haven’t proven super reliable lately. People have been really upset about Apple’s price hikes this year, and while I do think some of that negativity is justified, I also believe that their privacy-first approach not only warrants a certain price premium, but is exactly part of the reason why some of their competition is cheaper (the data Google collects has monetary worth, thus it makes sense for them to provide their products at a lower cost to get them in more hands).
Tech stuff aside, I probably followed more podcasts in 2018 than I ever have, which has been great, but I feel like I have been missing out on music for a while now, so I may try to make music a little more important in 2019.
As for goals that actually take effort, I want to try to read more in 2019. This may come as a shock to hear from a writer, but I just don’t find a whole lot of time to read novels (most of my reading is random stuff on the Internet). My biggest issue with reading is finding time that I’m not mentally exhausted to pick up a book. During the week, my brain is on constantly from the time I wake up until around 5:30 PM, so when I get home, I just need to shut down and watch TV or play a game or something. If I read when I am mentally exhausted, I end up reading the same paragraph three times because I just can’t absorb anything. I used to read every day during my lunch break, but now I use that time to write, which consequently means that even during my break, my brain is still very much turned on and not resting. I realize that a lot of people find reading to be relaxing, which I won’t disagree with, but it does require a certain level of engagement. For that same reason, I can’t do audio books because reading is something I need to give 100% of my attention to. I have no idea why my brain is fine with listening to podcasts, but is unable to focus on an audio book. So, I’d like to find some time to maybe read a book per month in 2019. That’s not incredibly lofty, and there are two books I’ve got on my list right now anyway.
Finally, I do have more international travel coming in 2019. This is less of a goal and more just a cool thing that I’m looking forward to.
I hope 2018 has been to great to everyone and that 2019 can be even better!