One Man’s Cringe Is Another Man’s Tattoo

I haven’t been in the mood to write anything new.

Every time I sat down to write, I told myself, “It’s okay if I don’t write today. I’ll get it down another day.”

The scenario repeated itself, again and again.

Until today.

I turned on my laptop, sat down with a cup of coffee, and did what I used to do when I wanted to be productive.

I launched WordPress, clicked on New Post, and forced myself to start typing. Something. Anything.

When you want to make yourself do something that seems monumental, break it down into little chunks. It becomes easier to accomplish.

You don’t need a clear idea of what you want to write. I mean, that’s great if you do. I didn’t and still don’t.

I scrolled through endless notes on my phone, no writing ideas. Tons of random lyrics, but nothing I could design a blog post around (without trying too hard).

It got me thinking. Who am I writing for?

This blog is my personal-public space (what an oxymoron). I don’t make a sen from my writing, in fact, I’m losing money paying for web hosting instead of using my free, already existing blogger account.

Who even reads this drivel?

Me, I guess. Does it matter who’s reading? Not really. It’s nice knowing that some people are entertained by this, but it’s not essential.

That’s just how art is as a hobby. I enjoy the process of creation. It doesn’t matter if other people didn’t enjoy my work. I had fun making it. That’s the best part.

While this blog started off as some sort of diary/journal, it evolved into a place for me to simply write.

Anything I wanted.

Rants? Check.

Thoughts? Check.

Dreams? Check.

Naruto x Demon Slayer hentai fan-fiction? Not yet.

The point is, there is no point.

Like an artist who is consistently drawing in sketchbooks to hone their craft, or a guitarist practicing the scales and strumming patterns – repetition is required to improving a skill.

The more you do something, the better you get. At least, that’s how practice works, in theory.

There are caveats like ensuring you have the correct technique so you’re not repeating the wrong methods and turning that into muscle memory (yes, looking at you, right hand (I use the same guitar strum pattern too much) what were you thinking?) but you get the gist.

By writing often, I hope to improve. It’s a skill essential to my current job and I’ve relied on it to make a living. I can’t be bad at it, can I?

By writing often, the process becomes easier. It may not seem like it, but this is practice for me. Each sentence I form helps future George be more confident about placing words onto a page.

By writing often, my audience gets more to read. All twelve of you, I know you’re out there. Thank you for reading.

By writing often, I understand the rules of writing better. That way I can create entertaining pieces that are informative at the same time. Edutainment, it’s called. My favorite way to learn.

By writing often, I can ramble on about not being able to write when I’m facing writer’s block. At least I’m putting words onto a page and not yelling into the void or keeping it to myself.

Is writer’s block real? Or is it some excuse that writers came up with so they didn’t have to admit they were lazy?

What I do know is writing makes me feel like I’m being productive. Even if I had spent the rest of the day loafing about. It’s a bit like negative bias but not really.

I’ve typed out six hundred words for this piece. Guess it’s time to call it a night. Don’t want it to drag on.

Perhaps next time I’ll practice my endings.

I Am A Two-Percenter

On Wednesday, I joined two-percent club. I loaded a Wikipedia page like I had done every other day and was hit with the following message:

To all our readers in Malaysia,

Please don’t scroll past this. This Wednesday we ask you to sustain Wikipedia. 98% of our readers don’t give; they simply look the other way. If you are an exceptional reader who has already donated, we sincerely thank you. If you donate just RM10 or whatever you can this Wednesday, Wikipedia could keep thriving for years. We ask you, humbly: please don’t scroll away. If Wikipedia has been useful to you, take a minute to donate RM10. Show the world that access to reliable, neutral information matters to you.

Thank you.

It wasn’t a strange message. I had seen similar ones in the past and never had trouble ignoring them. However, this time it felt different. Maybe because it blocked the top portion of the page and I had to scroll down to read the article.

Or maybe because this time I noticed they said “readers in Malaysia”, which made it feel personal even though I knew it wasn’t. Whatever it was, it triggered something within me. It made me think about how often I used Wikipedia.

I use Wikipedia very often. When I’m learning about a new topic, it’s one of the first websites I visit. I love that they have such detailed entries on whatever I happen to look up, especially when it comes to music and bands.

I love tracing the history of my favorite musicians and finding out which bands or side projects they’ve been a part of, so I can check out more music from them. From those articles, I discover even more related musicians to listen to.

Sure, these days we have Spotify’s “fans also like” and their curated playlists, but they don’t give any context to why I should listen to them. I enjoy discovering the lore of musicians, why they leave or get kicked out, and their ties to other musicians.

I also like knowing the names of obscure bands and releases so I can hunt them down on Soulseek or YouTube. Spotify doesn’t have every song out there, unfortunately. Wikipedia makes sure I know that.

Beyond music, I’ve used it for looking up GPUs, countries, languages, comics, books, and everything under the sun. I know Wikipedia isn’t just one person. The site is great because its contributors do a fantastic job of filling up and updating the pages.

It’s not a reliable source for academia due to its editable nature, but I’m not using it for such purposes. All I want to do is grasp certain concepts quickly, or look at information compiled in neat tables. I click on external links when I want to find out more.

Easily editable is a double-edged sword: it means that it’ll be constantly updated, unlike encyclopedias. On the other hand, people can choose to fill pages with nonsense. Fortunately, attempts to vandalize articles are usually spotted and fixed very quickly.

Wikipedia isn’t as “rabbit-holey” as TV Tropes, which I’m glad because if it was, I’d never get anything done. Then again, it can already be quite a time sink in its current form but that might just be me and my curious nature.

After donating, nothing changed. I received a thank you email from Maryana, Wikimedia Foundation’s CEO and I resumed using the site as normal. I didn’t gain any extra perks which would have been a nice touch, but I guess that goes against the spirit of donations.

I guess it feels good knowing I’m doing something to keep one of my most-used websites afloat, even though it has been running for over twenty years will continue doing so without my help.

I’m sure I underpaid Wikipedia but that’s okay, other people can pick up the slack. What am I, Mr. Moneybags?

These Old Eyes

The other day I learned how much my eyes deteriorated again. I had taken off my blinkers for funsies and realized the words on my laptop display were a mess. It was a strange feeling.

For the past decade, I have never had any issues using a laptop without glasses. Sure, the text would be slightly blurry but I could still get things done. This time it was different.

I couldn’t decipher the text in front of me, which meant I couldn’t work. My laptop was at the usual distance away from me, approximately fifty centimeters. Regular brightness, standard resolution, etcetera. The only variable was my lack of spectacles.

Here’s an approximation of what I saw:

One hundred percent true

I promptly put my vision apparatus back onto my nose and there they remained until the end of the day. Of course, I removed them in the shower. I, too, worry about rust.

The incident opened my eyes to how damaged they were. It made me think about how I take my eyesight for granted. My silly brown irises.

I used to tell myself I didn’t need my optical equipment to survive. I had no issues driving without them, provided I didn’t need to follow signboards. I could read books, use the computer and go about my daily life with naked corneas.

What caused this disaster? Was it age? Bad habits? All those years of swimming without goggles? Who knows. Probably a combination of everything, like everything else in life. What I do know is that it’s an affliction I’ll have to spend the rest of my existence with.

I used to tell people, and I still do, that I wear goggles because they give my appearance character. And I look weird without them. That hasn’t changed, but I have one more reason to add to the list: I enjoy people mistaking me for a famous activist I can’t see well enough.

Cultivated Loyalty

Whenever I need to pump gas into my car, I’d head to the nearest Shell station. And for the longest time, I didn’t have a reason why I chose that petrol station. Not that anybody asked. I didn’t know how to justify my loyalty to the brand.

I was like a soccer fan who couldn’t tell you why I supported a specific team. Even when any excuse would have sufficed because you didn’t know anything or care about the sport, you were just being polite trying to make conversation.

Just say you watch them because they have the hottest guys, or they can always pull crazy comebacks. Or they wear your favorite color. Or shoes. Anything! It doesn’t matter!

Why did I choose Shell? After all, fuel from all major brands is meant to be interchangeable without damaging your vehicle. There’s no particular reason to use one brand over another other than for convenience’s sake.

And so, the other day, on one of my introspective drives home, the answer came to me. My obsession with Shell started a long time ago. Back when I was a kid tasked with pumping petrol for my mom, while she waited in the car.

She would hand me the cash or credit card to pass to the attendant or cashier, I’d grab the pump (after making sure it wasn’t diesel), slot it into the fuel tank, and pull the trigger. If there was no lock, I’d hold it until I felt the pump stop.

I enjoyed the smell of petrol and it felt like such a grown-up thing to do. I enjoyed the chore. My mom got to relax in the car. It was a win-win situation.

Back then, we didn’t have any gas station loyalty. It was whichever happened to be on the way to our destination, we played no favorites. One day, that changed.

I don’t recall the exact point in time but it was at least 1998 because that was when BonusLink launched. My mom got herself a card and because Shell was the only petrol station they partnered with, she made sure that she would only get gas from there. She wanted to collect as many points as possible.

In addition to giving the cash or credit card to the staff, I also had to hand over a BonusLink card.

The only time when we didn’t pump Shell was when our fuel tank was reaching empty and had no other choice. Even then, we wouldn’t pump the car to full. We’d only get enough gas for the current trip and head back to Shell to top off the remainder. We had to maximize our points!

Not that it was a bad thing, mind you. If I owned a reward card for a particular gas station, I would have done the same thing.

For years I helped my mom pay for gas at Shell stations until I was old enough to drive. Then I was given a BonusLink card (which was under my mother’s account) to buy Shell fuel for my own car as well.

I don’t remember when we stopped using BonusLink but it didn’t matter. All those years of pumping gas at Shell stations had done a number on my brain. Until this day, I haven’t stopped filling my car at the McDonald’s-themed gas stop (it’s red and yellow too).

I have no incentive to fill my car at Shell. My family hasn’t used BonusLink for years. I still do it anyway.

Hearing anecdotes over the years about how Shell fuel is more efficient than other brands also reinforced the belief, in my already biased brain, that I’ve been making the right choice. I tell myself and other people that I’m not picky about where I pump gas, it doesn’t matter to me. But somehow, I always find a Shell to pull up into.

When I know there’s a Shell up ahead, my brain tells me to push the car a little further to get fuel from there instead of Petron, Caltex or Petronas. Or god forbid, BHP. I can’t even rationalize why their stations look so unappealing to me. Something about the orange and yellow, even though I normally like those colors.

Thank you, BonusLink. One day, I’ll break the cycle.

Coincidences, Attraction/Prediction

On Friday I was chatting with a colleague and the law of attraction came up. The topic ended with them saying, there are two magical outcomes if you believe this theory. You think so much about something that it happens because you attracted it or you’re a fortune-teller because you predicted something before it happens.

Despite the many anecdotes (some of them outrageous) I’ve listened to about this theory coming into play, I’ve always chalked them down to coincidence. It’s simple, really, thanks to our cognitive biases.

Think of all the times when you’ve really wanted something, thought about it, and never got it. There are way more of those incidents than successful ones. Since there are fewer successes, it’s easier to remember what they are.

Objectively speaking, there’s no winning at this ‘game’. Not everything you think about is going to come to fruition and things will happen in life — whether you think about them or not.

On the same night of the law of attraction conversation, two incidents happened. First, this video popped up on my YouTube feed:

For context, here’s what my typical feed looks like (screenshot from today):

It’s mostly gaming videos, music, and random crypto crash videos because I was on a Coffeezilla binge a few weeks ago. Nothing philosophical or pseudoscience related since it’s been a while since I’ve watched videos like that. A video on “the backwards law” was completely out of place.

Out of curiosity, I watched it and I’m glad I did. I’m no expert on such topics, but the video resonated with me. Since I agree with the points discussed in the video, my cognitive biases made me feel that it was informative (as opposed to useless).

When you try to fall asleep, your effort will keep you awake. Only when you stop trying, you’ll doze off… When we stop trying to be happy, we’ll be happy because there’s nothing we need beyond what is… Thus, the only way to have what we want is not to want it and that’s what the backwards law teaches us.

The backwards law teaches us not to be fooled by the idea that the pursuit of happiness leads to happiness. And with that knowledge, we’re able to enter that blissful state of ‘not wanting’ a bit more often.

Stop Trying to Get It And You’ll Have It | The Backwards Law

My key takeaway is the backwards law is the opposite of the law of attraction. Instead of focusing your thoughts on what you’re lacking (your wishes), make the most of what you currently have. I’ve been unconsciously practicing it. No wonder I’ve been told that I’m too apathetic or relaxed about everything around me.

Turns out I’m just zen.

As someone who’s all about the present (sure, I whine about the past in my lyrics but I’m a singer-songwriter) and never thinking about the future, this video validated my views on life in a more articulate manner.

Next, this video appeared on my feed the same night.

Guess what happened after that? I ate a curry puff for supper and had diarrhea that lasted until Saturday. Urgh.

What a coincidence, especially after watching a video about dirty water.

I was going to eat the bad curry puff that night. I could have skipped it, but I was hungry. Nobody told me it was going to make me suffer. That would have changed my mind about consuming it. Was it my own fault? Doesn’t matter.

Just like how I ruined my watch’s ability to function as a credit card when I updated the Samsung Pay plugin yesterday. Fuckin’ Sammy, please revert this change.

That’s a story for another day.

“Leading the way to a cashless society.” / I should have said that we’d be happy now

I was thinking to myself how much it would suck to have my phone stolen from me now. It’s so much more important than my wallet. I can survive a day without my wallet on me (barring some strange scenario where I have to present my identity card). But if I didn’t have my phone with me, I would have no excuse but to drive back home to pick it up.

Not having your phone today means not having cash, a way to contact people (or tweet), a GPS, and more. In fact, a few months ago you wouldn’t have been able to enter many places since you prove your vaccination/COVID status without the MySejahtera app.

Touch ’n Go’s eWallet is pretty rad. I enjoy not having to count bills or keeping coins in my pocket. Not all places accept it yet, but they’re becoming less common. If they don’t accept digital cash, I have my watch which can function as a credit card. Then there are online bank transfers as the last step before I resort to using cash. I admire how agile the country has been in terms of adopting digital trends.

Five years ago, I complained about the hassles of our parking system. I’m happy to say that this is no longer the case. It was a bit bumpy initially, with the various apps that we had to download for different areas, but it’s safe to say that paying for street parking is no longer a hassle. Thanks, Touch ’n Go!

I have no more qualms about parking my car anywhere I go these days. Since it’s become available I’ve paid for parking more than ever before. Even when there were occasions that I didn’t feel like paying – I did anyway. Better to be down RM1 than to receive a lucky ticket.

When you reduce the friction of a tedious procedure, it encourages people to utilize it more. At least that’s what I believe. It’s like how Steam conquered the gaming industry, Spotify for music, and Netflix for shows. They proved that when you make obtaining original content easier than piracy while being affordable at the same time, it shifts the scales.

It hasn’t eliminated piracy – people are still going to pirate for various reasons, but it’s better to make some money off ex-pirates than none of it. Media licensing is still a shit show. How long will it take for all these publishers to realize that geoblocking content in this day and age is such a backward practice? Sure, restrict physical goods since distribution and logistics are a pain in the ass to handle globally. But for digital goods? It makes no sense at all. Get with the times, guys. 

I’m annoyed because Welcome Home Armageddon isn’t on Spotify Malaysia despite it having a listing. Why is the acoustic/remix EP (See You All In Hell) available but not the original? It’s times like these, piracy is justified. Also, I can’t believe I haven’t done a music post on Funeral for a Friend yet. A lot of bands get the same treatment on Spotify, especially the Japanese ones (still waiting for chickenrace).

I’m glad Elden Ring wasn’t geoblocked (finished it, by the way, game of the year 2022). Dance Gavin Dance has a new album coming out this year (RIP Tim Feerick), I’m sure it’s going to be a banger as well. What a great year 2022 is going to be. 

I believe.

(please don’t age like milk)

Farewell Doiffee

Back in 2014

I’ve never frequented a place long enough for me to see it open, shut down, reopen, switch owners, and then close for good – until l discovered Doiffee. It was a tiny cafe in my neighborhood, run by a husband, wife, and their sons.

I remember my first visit – I was there with my sister and my nephew. I had my first taste of the shop’s signature beans, a cup of hot long black coffee. It became my go-to taste for years to come. From that night onwards, every cafe I visited led me to compare their long black against Doiffee’s. Doiffee always won.

It was the perfect blend of bitterness and thickness and perfectly priced. Since it was cheaper than coffee at western cafes everywhere, tasted better, and was a few minutes away from home, I had no reason to go anywhere else. I have yet to discover a cafe that uses the same beans.


Coffee and cigarettes

I spent many nights there after work, on weekends, and on public holidays. They used to open till 10 PM on weekdays and midnight on weekends. It was quiet, they had fast internet and plenty of seats. Perfect conditions to work or chill on my laptop. I’d even go there to read.

They were rarely closed. If I wasn’t anywhere else, I’d be at Doiffee, on my laptop while I sipped coffee and smoked cigarettes. Occasionally I’d order beers or food but I was mainly there for the coffee.

Unfortunately, times got tough for the cafe. Over the years they started losing customers. It wasn’t common for me to be one of their only customers for the whole day. I’m not sure why, perhaps it was all the other new places opening up in the neighborhood, or the location of the venue. I didn’t care that much. As long as they served the coffee I enjoyed, everything was alright. However, one customer does not keep a business afloat.

Then the pandemic hit. Doiffee had to close its doors. They tried doing deliveries for a bit but it wasn’t sustainable. I couldn’t visit the cafe for a long time. Many months passed without any change. Then one day, when I was in the area, I saw the shutters opened for the first time and wandered in. I met the new manager of the place and he told me that the previous owner had sold off the business. He was the new person in charge. They were making some renovations before they reopened it in a few weeks.

I was ecstatic. Doiffee was coming back! And it did. I resumed my trips to the cafe again, as soon as possible but one important thing had changed – they weren’t using the same beans anymore. Despite the fancy new food menu, their coffee was no longer the same. But that didn’t stop me from returning.

I spoke to one of the staff about the beans and he said I wasn’t the only one who noticed the different beans. I wasn’t the only customer who had brought it up. Eventually, he convinced the manager to switch back to the old signature beans. All was good in the world again.

At this point, traffic to the cafe was decent but it was still nowhere close to what it was in its heyday. Their closing time was now 6 PM but it was better than not being open at all. Things weren’t looking promising.

A few months after the reopening, the new owner pivoted the business. They were no longer interested in cafes and turned it into a Chinese restaurant. They renovated the place, gave it a new name, and changed the staff. That was the end of Doiffee. Though the food there was decent, it was no longer a place to get coffee or to sit and work at. The business was much better for them, but I no longer had a reason to work there.

I’m not sure what happened but a few months later, the Chinese restaurant closed down and turned into a western food place.


One day I’ll find a replacement

Since then I have found another haunt to frequent but I doubt anywhere will be able to replace Doiffee for me. The number of hours I’ve spent there – writing, working, finishing online courses, reading, performing, and chilling with friends – have made it a significant part of my life.

Although I wish it was still around for me to enjoy, a part of me is glad it’s gone. Like a dying animal put to rest – it no longer has to suffer. Would it be right to equate it to your favorite TV show canceled early? Or ending before it dragged on and turned into a mess?

I guess that’s how life is. Everything has an expiry date, we’re merely not privy to that info most of the time. That limited lifespan teaches you to appreciate them before they’re gone. You never know when your favorite cafe (or pet/person/place/thing etc) is going to disappear. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Music for Writing

When I think of habits, the first thing that comes to mind is bad. Bad habits. But then I realized, not all habits have to be bad. What is a habit?

According to Google:

noun

1. a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

“he has an annoying habit of interrupting me”

While most habits can be considered neutral, the obvious ones aren’t. Smoking, biting your nails, forcing yourself to vomit after each meal can be objectively classified as bad. Eliminating such habits should improve your life.

I’ve written in the past about conditioning myself to work with a cup of coffee and a cigarette. The coffee isn’t harmful (though it gets pricey in the long run) but the cigarette probably is. However, I get work done more efficiently. Does the good cancel the bad?

Imagine if I cut out the bad habits, I’d be able to churn out work without relying on caffeine and nicotine. I’d save money and have healthier lungs while being extremely productive all the time! No way that could work, right? Life is all about balance and without the bad, there can’t be good. I’m a mere human being trying to live a balanced life.

What started as a way to keep me up when covering events in a different time zone turned into a key aspect of my daily routine. What started as a form of amusement while sloshed in nightclubs is why my insurance premium costs a little more. 

We’re two-hundred words in on a post titled “Music for Writing”, George. When are you going to approach the topic? Now, I guess.

It began when I was thinking of what to write about on my blog. I had just finished my coffee and cigarette for the evening. I put on a random playlist from my “writing music” folder and stared at the blank page in front of me.

What is “writing music”? For me, it consists of relaxing music with no or minimal vocals. When I listen to music that I know the words to, I can’t help but sing along (it might be a disease), which distracts me from writing. By listening to music with no words, it’s literally impossible for me to sing along so I don’t get distracted. Therefore I have many playlists of such songs. I was going to share about that.

While still staring at the blank page, I noticed my legs shaking to the music playing in my ears. Which got me thinking about habits and thus, a new post was born. This was more interesting than what I initially planned anyway. The joys of freestyle writing.

Here’s a poem I wrote for #NPRPoetry last year which you might have missed:

it starts with a spark
a parting of lips
I hold you close
and draw you in
my heart beats faster
I feel dizzy
for that brief moment
time stops
everything is okay
I exhale
and do it all over again

It has been over a decade since I started inhaling cancer sticks and consuming coffee. Here’s to many more years of productivity!

“Bullshit, you fucking miss me,” there I said it. I’ll talk to you in a few months

Another December, another post about how little I’ve accomplished this year, how little I’ve written on this blog and bla bla bla. Oh wait. It doesn’t have to be. I like breaking tradition or acting out of the norm. I like doing whatever I feel like.

That’s how I thought I would start this post and as I put those words down, I realized it was a lot of padding for what would be essentially nothing. A collection of my thoughts translated into sentences for viewers to read. Which doesn’t mean it’s futile. Not everything needs a grander purpose. If everything had meaning, nothing would. Right?

2021 has been an interesting year. Spending most of it within the confines of the walls I call home. Waking up in my office (very different from my Inspidea days) was something I hadn’t done since I was in Ubergizmo. Moving from my bed to desk didn’t involve getting dressed or enduring a commute – an experience that not many people shared with me pre-pandemic. Now, other people know what it’s like.

That’s not to say it was something I truly enjoyed. I had left the work from home routine to rejoin the “regular” workforce in 2015 for a reason. The pandemic sent me back in time. Fortunately, restrictions have loosened a bit and I’ve been able to work outside. Despite it being a mental thing, I enjoy the distinction between my bedroom and workplace. I used to revel in the fact that being in my room meant I had no reason to think of work at all.

I guess this living-in-the-office mindset has contributed a lot to how I’ve been feeling about work. Knowing that I’m capable of writing at any hour of the day to cover breaking news has led me to work way past my office hours. Sure, I didn’t have to – nobody was holding a gun to my head, but if the opportunity is there and news is all about serving the freshest content, why wouldn’t I do it?

On the other hand, I have also spent a lot of time indulging myself in things I enjoy. Gaming, watching shows, playing music, and so on. I probably do the former too much, to compensate for my working routine. As a result, I’m sacrificing sleep. Not the wisest of choices (in the long run), so that’s something I’ll hope to rectify in the near future.

In terms of productivity, I finished Animal Bus, which was a huge achievement for me. It was an ambitious project that took up more time than I liked but I was happy that I made it through. I’ve also been hosting a weekly podcast for over a year. It started off quite easy to do, became routine, and I’ll admit a bit difficult to power through for a bit. But once I realized it was only about an hour of my day each week, it wasn’t so hard anymore. Last week, we took a break for the first time in a long time. I didn’t want to treat my audience to another poorly executed, unrehearsed, live performance 😂.

I thought I would spend some time getting back into game making or learning a new skill but the burnout is real. A new year isn’t going to change anything (for real, it’s just a calendar reset, there’s nothing significant about that. However, research has shown that these resets are great starting points for humans to try out a new behavior, it’s a psychological thing). I’ve relaxed enough since my last creative project, so I guess it’s time to do something about it.

There are still some fun goals I want to complete – playing the Dark Souls series (I’m on 2 right now, 50% complete), reading Berserk (only a few more volumes until the finale 😢), watching Adventure Time (5 more seasons to go), and some other low priority stuff (more games, books, and shows). If the world permits, it would be great to continue playing at open mics. Performing online isn’t the same. Properly recording my songs should also be a thing. I’ve been linking people the same 2010 EP for years now and it’s about time I share tracks that were written over a decade ago. Also, I should make use of all the recording equipment I invested in.

This blog also needs a new banner – I don’t even own the two keyboards featured on it anymore. Fun fact, people keep finding this blog through my Tokyo 60/Tofu HHKB post that I wrote ages ago. Another two keyboards I don’t own anymore. I guess there is demand for keyboard content, so I could explore writing about that more. I’m not sure what I’d write about though. Feel free to give some suggestions.

My streaming hobby hasn’t taken off, but that’s okay. I have two regular viewers (you know who you are, Good News Gang) I am thankful for. The other day I played Dota 2 with some viewers. That was fun, they carried my ass. Maybe I should pick up Tagalog to increase my demographic.

This has been one of the longest pieces I’ve written (not for work) in a while. It feels good to know I still have the ability to spew out bullshit. Hope this was enjoyable for you to read. I’ll come back to this in a few years just to see how far I’ve come.

Happy new year everybody, happy birthday to COVID-19 in a couple of weeks.

“There’s no telling how much longer your world and mine will remain in contact.”

A long-awaited (by nobody) update to this mostly ignored blog. Hah! Thought it was dead, didn’t you? Not a chance. The domain and hosting expire in April 2022, so we’ll still be around. Also, I intend to keep it going. So nope, this blog won’t die, just yet. But what’s the point of a blog that isn’t frequently updated? I’ll tell you.

It lets me know how much time I’ve spent doing other things instead of updating my blog. Previously, I had plenty of things to fill these pages with. An update a day because I had so many things to talk about. As time went on, I found myself spending time on things other than writing because writing for fun isn’t that enjoyable when you do it for a living. To me, at least.

I can pinpoint my blogging habits according to the amount of writing I had to do for work over the past few years of my life. I wrote a lot more when I didn’t have to write much for work. I guess my body has a limited word output capacity. Also, it’s a mental thing. I’m sure I could keep on writing if I wanted, it’s just that I choose to spend my energy on other things instead.

Like Animal Bus. In case you weren’t aware, one year and eight months after the comic launched, I have completed it, and I couldn’t be happier. This means I get to work on other projects without feeling guilty (self-imposed, mind you). Nobody was making me feel bad other than myself and now I don’t have to anymore. While it’s not the best comic I have ever done, it is the first full-length I have completed and it was a great learning experience.

The art and story are terrible, I had the chance to make changes to them and I didn’t. Why? My goal for the comic was to mess around with my Wacom tablet and experiment with the graphic novel format. It was never intended to be my magnum opus (on a side note, do people ever know that what they are doing is going to be their masterpiece?) but a chance for me to prove to myself that I was capable of working on larger scope projects and seeing them through to the end.

What did I learn? Making long-form comics as a hobby is not easy. You need a lot of motivation to push yourself to keep going, especially if you’re working solo. In a team, you can be held accountable. If you’re being paid, you’re expected to deliver. When you’re doing something this ambitious for fun, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself. If you don’t feel like working, nobody can call you out. You’re just doing this for fun! It took a lot of willpower and faux discipline for me to complete all 50 chapters.

Things that appear simple aren’t so simple. There’s a reason major, scheduled comics have teams working on them. You have a writer, artist, inker, colorist, and letterer. It’s not so easy doing everything by yourself. For someone with no experience in laying out comics, I had to fall back on making simple layouts (4 panels per page, somewhat equal sizes). Speech bubbles were another thing to consider – where should they be? How much text should I put inside each one? What’s the reading order? Does it look good visually? What about the text? When should I break sentences up? There’s a lot I had to learn during the execution of Animal Bus.

Unless they were written with the intention of being comics from the beginning, stories are hard to translate into interesting comic panels. The original draft for Animal Bus had tons of monologue, character thoughts, and other non-visual elements. Because I originally didn’t have plans to turn it into a comic, I had to make a lot of changes while drawing it. This ‘translation’ process took up a huge chunk of my time. I had to be clever when deciding what to cut out, include or change.

If you’ve read the comic from the start, you would know that I initially wanted to color the whole thing. I mean, it’s just line drawings – I could use the paint bucket to color everything right? Maybe if I was more careful with my drawings, that would have been possible, but I had to use the brush to manually paint them, and that took up so much time. A few chapters in, I decided that it wasn’t worth it and skipped coloring altogether.

In any case, it was probably too ambitious of a project for me to tackle as my first comic but if I didn’t complete it, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you this. That being said, when I do go back into making comics, I’m definitely going to work on a smaller scale. There’s no need to bite off more than I can chew. It won’t be anytime soon though – I’m done making comics, for now. I might still doodle stuff here and there (find me on Instagram) but I’m going to spend more time on music, dive back into game development stuff and maybe experiment with video essays (I’ve gotten very interested in them recently and am curious if I have the chops to pull one off). I also recently got back into Dark Souls, so that’s a good time sink.

Hope everyone is staying safe from COVID-19. The world kinda sucks right now. Take care.