The Big Move

I have always been a bit of an over-achiever. I was a smart kid in a small town beyond the vast limits of Sydney City, and there were maybe 250 kids in my Primary school, total. So my childhood was full of accolades and people thinking I was great. It didn’t really set me up well for life in the real world, because I came to expect those kinds of congratulatory remarks by default. I was able to sail through high school and university with only the most cursory of efforts. My marks were okay, but certainly not as high as they could have been if I had actually applied myself. Then again, I guess this is common to all teenagers of any level of ability.

About eight years ago I started really studying Japanese. At the time I was working as a technician at a very large and well-known building, but I was just one of many faces in the crowd there.  I had already been in the workforce for about 5 years and the reality of having to actually work had hit home. I had slowly clawed myself from nowhere to somewhere, yet it was nowhere near the levels of appreciation that I thought that I had deserved. So, after slacking off in the education department, I realised that I really needed to get another language under my belt if I really wanted to get out there and noticed.

During the three and a half years of after-work classes, I consoled myself and the apparently slow progress with the fact that one day I might actually be able to do business in Japan. Little did I know just exactly what that would entail.

Since then, I had actually made a name for myself at my old employer, and became known to practically every department. The CEO and the Directors often called upon me to provide advice, and I was the youngest head of department there. I was picked up by a new company, initially as a pre-sales engineer and then as a GM. I also have completed a Master’s degree and have had a baby. I’ve been to Japan about 10 times in the last 2 years, have met with suppliers, distributors and customers, and have found myself doing exactly the kind of work I had hoped for in the tiny classroom eight years ago.


These shifts, however, have all seemed pretty organic. It is hard to notice that sometimes those things that you have been wishing for have actually happened. And then, when you look back on them, it seems like it took no time at all.


I have recently been asked to consider another large move. The details are not 100% worked out, and as I know that there is the possibility that my professional and personal life have crossed over I will not go into details yet, however it seems to be the next logical step in the growth of myself and also my company. Once confirmed I will hopefully have a lot of topics to cover in this blog! It will be a challenging assignment that will require me to learn a lot of new things (some of which I am starting to study now). I am looking for a place to do a brain dump of this learning from time to time, as that is one way that does actually help me learn things; reading, understanding and then re-synthesizing the information for other people’s use.


There have been a few discussions in comments about these kinds of topics, so if you would like me to comment on personal development in the “posts” and leave the creative writing to the “pages” please get back to me below. I am hoping that from Mid-November I will be able to comment on my upcoming transition more freely. My work is mostly as a business person, with lots of travel, dealing across cultures, and ultimately finding out how we can supply our customers with something of value. I hope that I can write something here that will make any of you that are following a similar path have a less turbulent journey.



Or  I can go back to posting Hanako fan fics. Honestly, just tell me what you guys would prefer!


Today’s photo is from the Shinkansen museum in Nagoya. It is a great place to spend a few hours between Tokyo and Osaka, and it actually has a lot of information in English for those that struggle with Kanji (myself included when it comes to technical matters). Interesting point; a Shinkansen train hits the platform at 70Kmph (about 43Mph). Considering that Sydney trains rarely get about 50Kmph I think that is pretty damned cool.


Oh, and of course there is another Arctic Gale. Apologies for not writing so much, but the wife is heavy with Number 2 at the moment so this means that I have to look after Number 1 on the weekends, meaning almost no free time.



The four "modern" Shinkansen - N700, 300, 100 and 0-sen types

The four “modern” Shinkansen – N700, 300, 100 and 0-sen types

I never have anything to say

I have this really annoying tendency to think up a great blog post, then when it comes time to actually write something, I have nothing.

I’ll be honest, almost all of my posts here are just announcements for the new chapters of Arctic Gale. (That’s Chapter 22, by the way).

The process goes like this:

- I will find 2 hours or so of free time when I also have that “creative spark” that allows you to spin words together (the chances of these two rare events coinciding is relatively small).

- I will post the page here, having basically used up all of my concentration power

- I will freak out about no-one loving me enough to actually read the chapter, so I post a “Post” (as opposed to a page) so that the people that subscribe here will at least get some kind of notification

Due to Steps 1 and 2, the will to write a nice post is slightly sapped, so I end up with something lacklustre (e.g. this post).

Then, when the comments start coming in on the page, it is usually some hours or days later, so I’m about to find 10-15 minutes to reply, meaning that some pages end up having career advice or actually useful stuff, even though they are waaaaay off topic for the AG pages.

Unfortunately, most of those insights are out of reach at the moment. I’m in a little “privacy pod” in Hong Kong’s airport in the lounge (which, by the way, is waaaay to far away from the shops to be convenient).

At the moment, having survived 8 hours in the sky and now half-way through a 6-hour transfer, the greatest contribution to the human race that I can muster is simply this:

Airlines shouldn’t serve asparagus.

I love asparagus, but I’m also prat of the 30% or so of the population that gets weird-smelling urine after eating it. At home, it doesn’t bother me. I still giggle about the “Arrgh, it’s the Mr. Hell Show!” skit with Mr Asparagus Man.

But on a plane full of people, serving asparagus is not a grand idea. Even if you are in the mini-cabins, like Premium economy, there are usually about 20 people there; meaning 6 weird-pee-smellers. Even in the best laid-out aircraft you’re only going to have about 6 bathrooms; meaning that there is a pretty good chance that everyone will be exposed to that strange odor. I can’t imagine what it would be like in the main cabin. The toilets in planes are bad enough as is…

Okay. Enjoy AG 22. It is a little bridge; an anti-climax between the last conflict and the ones to come. There are a few coming, and already I have started drifting a little (not irreversibly) from my hand-sketched “How Arctic Gale Ends” page (of which I think we are only about 1/3rd through).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gong to go an load up on asparagus again. I have a 12 hour flight, and my seat reservation was stuffed up at the airport this morning, so I am about to wreak asparagus-related vengeance on my co-travelers.

100 Pages

Okay, I should know better than to get excited about word counts and stuff, but I am a bit of a sucker for it.


The “page” count in Word is arbitrary, really, and so 100 pages at 12pt font doesn’t really mean much. Arctic Gale is now sitting at 40,000 words, so we’re now in that grey area between Novella and Novel. And whilst I know there is a lot of “story” to go, this is the conflict part and I usually end up hurrying this. When I was writing Hanako, I smashed through 10,000 in one day when I was finishing the original “Hanako Punch!” route. It was exhausting but also awesome. The original route for Hanako, post-Act 1, was about 80,000 words, so I guess that puts things in perspective.


I don’t think that I’ll be able to pull that off again; I have a little girl and a big job that both work to distract me from 18-hour writing sessions, but you never know.


It is a little sad that I have nothing to really write about here other than Arctic Gale, so please enjoy a photo from a Bird Show that I took aforementioned little girl to last weekend.

Arctic Gale Chapter 21


Some kind of big eagle thing. I was too busy taking photos to listen for names.

Some kind of big eagle thing. I was too busy taking photos to listen for names.

Another Farewell


Ah, it is such a bummer to do farewells, but they are a part of life.

About a year ago I posted a photo from the Lantern Floating (Tourounagashi) in Kyoto, where we floated a lantern for my brother (go back to November 2012 for details of you’d like).

Anyway, long story short, my brother’s crash lead to my dad getting irrecoverably depressed, and even after three trips to a mental hospital, he ended up drowning after drinking too much.

So this year we floated another lantern.

I wasn’t intending on posting anything about dad, but after the Robin Williams thing, I thought that it was worthwhile to remind people the depression is actually a thing, and a fatal thing at that.

I won’t go into my own stories too much, however I will say that even though it is hard, sometimes calling the hospital and getting yourself some real help is worthwhile. I don’t know how it is elsewhere, but in Aus most of the big hospitals have a psychiatric Unit that will take you in and look after you until someone can sort your shit out.

It may save your life, or at least your friendships…

Oh, and Arctic Gale 20 is done!
Arctic Gale 20

Writingining iningining

Wow. Sometimes you don’t even realise how long you’ve done something until you start having a lot of it.


Arctic Gale is now over 90 (word) pages! It’s still a far cry from finished, or from a KS path, but damn; next weekend I could possibly get into triple digits.

I also think, in some ways, that this is the end of the current “Act” – maybe Act 2, or Act 3. It’s a little harder to think of these things, however those of you that are reading should hopefully feel a shift in where things are going.


It also marks 20 complete chapters, although they appear to be, on average, shorter than the 2000-ish words that made up the scenes in KS. I’m sure that this will change though when I go back and polish everything up.


I’m also now in a quandary, because I have either unintentionally or subconsciously opened up a possibility that I didn’t really want to look into. For those of you that are actually reading the story I will say no more, but please feel free to conjecture in the comments on the page.


Anyway, here is a photo from my balcony. You can clearly see the reduction in the brightness of the sky between the two rainbows, which just happened to occur at the “Golden Hour” minutes before sunset.

Sunset Double Rainbow

Sunset Double Rainbow

A depressing thought

Most of us turn to fiction in order to get inspired and alleviate our boredom of the world.

And yet, how many times do we hear of the “truth being stranger than fiction”?


Thus, how damned mundane must the real world be?


Okay, so maybe that is a little gloomy, which is (mostly) unlike me, however this came to me tonight. I was killing a bit of time and watching James Randi debunk a number of “psychics”. It was fun to have a giggle at them, even if some of them were truly convinced of their own ability. 


Anyway, there was enough of that, so I switched back to my default tired YouTube mix of AMVs (old habits die hard). And I started getting all stirred up by them. “Man, if only I could write something that would affect people as much as Fate/Bakemonogatari/Higurashi could…” I thought. 


Okay, so maybe KS isn’t quite at that level, but I surely have an inbox full of saved messages thanking me for KS. 


The same thing happens at airports. I travel enough to get access to nice airline lounges. And yet, when I grab a coffee in there, I jealously sneer at those corporate pricks that spend their lives on planes, flying to foreign lands and enjoying the finer things in life…

Sometimes you forget to look at your own life and surroundings. Truth is stranger than fiction, but unfortunately for us our brains conspire against us to prevent us from noticing this.

There are a number of books on cognitive fallacies, the most well known being “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, but there are also the “Easy Mode” versions like “The Art Of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobelli and “You’re not as smart as you think you are” by David McRaney (although different countries have different titles depending on the local idioms). 


I’ll admit that I’ve actually been taking a narrow view on these books recently – actually mainly an availability heuristic failing (I finished an e-book without a readily available follow-up, Our Lord Amazon, however, provided…). But sometimes that is enough to open your eyes just enough to catch a fleeting glimpse of the immensely interesting and exciting world that we live in.


I’m halfway through the next chapter of Arctic Gale. I was interrupted last weekend and couldn’t get back into it, but I am hoping that I can fix this tomorrow morning. Keep an eye out!


In the interim, I leave you with an image that I will now select from my collection. Sadly my new NAS is having a case of the sads, so it will be an old one.



Flower Viewing on Miyajima Island, 2009

Flower Viewing on Miyajima Island, 2009