Crud vs the Church

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I think that maybe I don’t act nerdy enough.

At Comiket, we have a lot of people coming to our table, seeing some white guy standing there, and then they ask me, “Hey, are any of the ‘creators’ here?”

I mean, sure, I’m not as prolific as someone like Weee, and I can barely keep up the meager  subscription base I have here, but I thought that at least maybe someone would recognise me. A couple of our regulars (yes, we actually have regulars at Comiket) will say hi, but that’s a minority.

So I think that I need to re-up my nerd cred.

I was watching JonTron’s latest episode about the Christian attitude to RPGs:

 

Somehow, it reminded me of something from about 20 years ago.

Back in those days, I was really into tabletop war games, like Warhammer 40,000 and Battletech. I used to think that I was actually pretty good at it, but this was a lie. Fun fact: my first paying job was picking up dog turds so that I could buy minatures.

Anyway, I set up a gaming club which was basically just my friends. I have always had this desire to lead things… I think…

So we were trying to find a venue that would cost no money (you know, so I wouldn’t have to pick up so much dog shit) and would let us have a tournament. One of the places that would let you use their hall for free was a local church. Now, I need to admit that I’m an Atheist, and have been that way since 7, so I didn’t really know any of the rules about churches.

The pastor was kind, and was happy to take our reservation. I think he was happy to have new people coming to the church. So the room was booked and the invitations to our tournament were sent out.

Then the call came.

“Excuse me, son, but these games… they wouldn’t happen to have witches or magic in them, would they?” asked the pastor.

“Well, not really. It’s set in the future so it’s more about space an aliens.”

“Hmm,” I could hear him thinking about it on the phone. “Sorry, but I can’t let you use our hall.”

In the end we had to change the venue and found a council hall that would let us rent it. We all had to pitch in to pay for the place.

 

Now that I think about it, I realise that I am too tired to make this story interesting. I punched a guy at the tournament though. That is still an embarrassment to me to this day, especially because I won

 

Yeah. So there you go. I used to pick up shit so I could buy Warhammer figures and I pissed off a church because they were afraid of witches and spells. On the upside, I managed to write the first draft of our C91 light novel. I’m not good at writing Yuri but I figure that Weee will do some pictures that will save it.

A weird week in Asia

As a manager looking after the Asian region, I have to cover a lot of territory, hence the high amount of travel. It’s tiring, but it’s also enjoyable.

 

One of the perks of this kind of job is being able to see all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff that comes from the mash-up of cultures and languages.

 

I’m not sure why, but for some reason the last couple of weeks have provided me with a crazy number of photos, and so I thought I’d throw them all up here to share.

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Human Centipede in Mouse form

I think it all started in the Japanese National Science Museum. There were a heap of cool things (as you normally do in a museum), but this one took the cake. In some kind of effort to show the life circle of a mouse, they have stitched a bunch of mice in various stages of development together. Unfortunately, because I am a bad person and have watched The Human Centipede, this was all I could think of. I tweeted the photo which was then re-tweeted by the creator/director of the Human Centipede trilogy, making it reach more people than I would have hoped.

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Animals as Art

Next up, in the lobby of a hotel, I found these transparent fish that had been dyed to turn them into works of art.

I was keen to get one until I saw the price was in the thousands of dollars…

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Anyone who questions the power of Japanese conglomerates should have a chat to Bowie

Next up, walking around Tokyo, I saw these signs. Apparently death isn’t enough to get you out of a contract in Japan, so I’m looking forward to Zombie Bowie’s concert next year. It’s going to be awesome.

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Heavenly Wang. Nuff said.

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At least he has a helmet on…

The last thing that I had the chance to take a photo of was this great scene on a Malaysian highway. The motorbike is travelling at about 60 km/h (I think that is about 35mph) and towing a standard bicycle. This is probably the first and only time I’ve seen a guy on a bicycle wearing a helmet anywhere in Asia (it’s law to wear a helmet in Aus so I still feel weird about it here…).

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Purple Moon

And lastly, on the way back from Jakarta, the light haze from burning off old growth forest to plant farmed tress turned the moon a nice pink/purple. Unfortunately I only had my phone on me but the lax regulations on air pollution in some of the Asian countries leads to really spectacular sun/moon rise/sets. Maybe I’ll take my camera next time.

Anyway, in the dead period between now and Zemlya’s release will probably see more of these posts. I’m also going to be re-writing “Dreamer” for Fuyukomi and translating that into Japanese so I had better pull my finger out.

Pause and Effect

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Le sigh.

I’m on leave right now. It’s a rare thing. The last couple of times I’ve taken leave have been for mundane things like moving house or childbirth. This is probably the first time I’ve taken more than a day off in a few years with the express purpose of doing nothing.

Part of me wanted to use this time to release Zemlya. It’s already uploaded into the ISBN and Amazon databases, and I’ve drafted the release post already. I’ve locked the Word file so that I don’t keep fiddling with it; each time I do I get panicked and try to think of a friend that hasn’t read it yet to proof-read it for me.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about not having a hobby. That’s not entirely true; writing is a hooby, as is photography. I should really be sitting down and thinking about a new novel or something, but really, I can’t. I went to an Onsen (a hot spring) over the weekend; a place where I can usually stop doing anything for a few hours, soak in volcanic waters, and devise plot lines or business strategies.

 

But right now, I can’t. I really had to force myself to write this post as well. Because I have Zemlya loaded and ready to go (just awaiting the cover), I can’t get my mind off the topic. But there’s very little left to do there, so I’m kind of stuck. (There are also some work-related topics that are also clouding my memory, but that is a much more boring story than this incredibly boring story).

 

This reminds me of the “No Art” period in Katawa Shoujo. Most of the writers and Delta will refer to this occasionally, but I’m not sure if we ever explained it. There was a period of about a year where we had no real artists. And then, when they came on board, we were so far ahead with the script that they could never keep up. Plus there was the issue of them all getting consistent with each other…

Long story short, we thought for a long time that there would be no art at all for KS. It would just be a montage of background photos. There is a name for that kind of VN but I’ve forgotten the technical name.

 

Think of it like this: you’re 6, and Christmas is coming. Each day is a nightmare, and you can’t focus on anything else but those sweet, sweet gifts that you’ll unwrap on the 25th.

At the moment, every day is like that for me, but instead of convincing myself that it is only 145 sleeps (is it sad that I looked that up) to Christmas, I have no way of knowing when I will get that sweet, sweet cover art (that I know will look amazing) and can finally post this hot steaming wad of Sci-Fi.

 

So that’s kind of where my head is at, and why I’m currently spending most days riding around Tokyo with my kids on a Mamachari instead of staying up all night triumphantly spamming the KS Sub Reddit and 4Chan with shameless self promotion.

 

Ok. So now back to Twitter to refresh my DMs for the 50th time today… just in case…

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Ok, so I haven’t been completely idle…

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Lacking a hobby

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Being a resident in one of the big tourist cities in the world, quite often people will ask me for tips on where to go in Tokyo (and they did the same when I was in Sydney).

 

The problem is that I don’t really have that many hobbies. I take photos (when I get the chance, and I’m never really happy with them), I write (which doesn’t really require much tourism) and I play with my kids in the park.

So when people ask me for travel tips, I can only think about the crazy, far-away places that I’ve been.

know that Tokyo is an exciting city. I just can’t find anything that would motivate me to go out on a weekend and do something. The closest we’ve come to doing any activities here is going to the zoo or aquarium. So those are usually what I recommend, because apart from Tokyo Tower and Sky Tree, I just don’t know what else is going on in Tokyo. I know that there are heaps of festivals going on at the moment (as evidenced by the number of people in Yukatas and Jimbei), but I don’t even know how to look up what is going on where.

So recently I’ve started trying to look for interesting things to do. When I was in Hamburg a couple of weeks ago I spent a day in Minatur Wunderland; the world’s biggest model train system. It has 15km (about 10 miles) of track, and it also has a fully functional airport, which includes airplanes landing, taxiing, waiting at the gate as the support vehicles whirl around it, then pushing back, taxiing, and taking off again. I swear, I spent about an hour just watching that.

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Part of the “Swiss” section of Minatur Wunderland, Hamburg

I should probably buy a Tokyo guide book so I can find similar things here. It was only after visiting this place that I found out that my wife likes minatures as well (although she wasn’t overly impressed by my anime figure collection when we first met), so we’ll find a place like this soon enough.

 

I think part of the problem is that I’ve been forcing myself to be a super executive business tosser over the past few years. Apart from the occasional youtube binge, I’ve been trying to make sure that there is some kind of “value” to what I’m doing. I hate that feeling of wanting to kill time; knowing that you can’t get time back and that you should treasure every second. That, I think, has pushed me into crazy burnout mode.

 

I’ve got my first real holiday (i.e. not related to bringing a child into the world) starting from this weekend. I think I have to do one demo in that period, but apart from that I’ll be totally free. Time to find an onsen and relax for a day. And maybe try and take photos of birds again.

 

An update for those of you waiting on Arctic Gale: the artist has finished his move and is drawing again. He’s posted a couple of images and has told me that he has worked on my cover. But we’ll see how long that takes. Once I get the jpeg then I upload that and click “finished” on Kindle and then it will be available. I should really write the release post. Or maybe I did already. I have two drafts standing by; maybe it was one of those.

 

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Man, they even have a Concorde…

I dreamed a dream…

I had a dream last night. You know how sometimes you have those hyper-real dreams that you seem to forget in the morning but then they come back to you in the afternoon? Yeah, one of those.

 

I’m not sure why I want to blog about it, but it seemed fun. Well, for a given definition of fun.

 

I’m at my parent’s house, on the border between Sydney and “The Bush” (commonly referred to as the “Outback”). Since it is about 50 miles from anywhere of note, the house is actually pretty big. The living room is on the second floor, and has a lot of windows looking out over the government reserve; a park of about 5 acres that is practically inaccessible to vehicles. We used to play a lot there as kids; our dad cut a hole in the fence and installed a shitty gate so we could get out there easily.

So, in the dream, I’m at home. Somehow I’m watching an old CRT in what used to be my room. I think it is now a room for my brother’s mother-in-law. That’s not part of the dream; my brother and his wife and child still live with Mum, and his mother-in-law lives in our house. I also think she has over stayed her visa so that is a bit shit.

I wasn’t watching anything important, and then all of a sudden, the emergency broadcast system kicks in. There’s those three computerised squeals of data, followed by the two-tone emergency tone.

“Warning,” a man’s voice says, reading the text displayed on the screen. “A long-range missile launch has been detected. Expect impact within 24 minutes.”

I’m not quite sure what to make of it. There are a heap of prank videos like this on YouTube so I figure it is a joke. I stroll casually into the living room, but then I see the flash (we’re working on Inception timelines here, after all). The room shakes like a mid-level earthquake, but most things are fine.

I take stock and find that everything is ok. Somehow, I know that my family is safe. No idea how, just dream logic happening there.

I turn on the TV and some vapid talk-show is on. Something like the “Today” show, where there are about 3 anchors that engage in meaningless conversation about current affairs. But this time, they’re talking about the nuclear exchange that has just happened.

I can’t remember exactly what they said, but apparently it was just a limited exchange. They discuss it like it is celebrity gossip. Or maybe that cheerful, “playful” tone that those hosts have is the only way they know how to read the news. Who cares. All I know is that a missile exploded close enough to me to have at least seen the flash and feel the shockwave. I figure they were aiming at the RAAF base about 15km from my house (although, in the dream, the geography is a little off). Due to the dream’s geography, we are spared due to being on the lee side of a ridge.

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This is pretty much the image I saw in my dream. I think it is from Castle Bravo; that or Ivy Mike. But when I saw it, I thought, “Damn, it was an H-bomb.”

And then, it hits me. This will be my one chance to get a photo of a mushroom cloud. I nearly trip over myself trying to get my camera, and rush back into the living room to get my photo.

I can see the cloud through the window; now white against the azure sky. I try to take the photos from inside the house, but I can’t get a good angle. I head out onto the balcony, but then I see it. Black vapour, clinging to the roof of the car port and pooled in the corners of the balcony. Although I know that it is inanimate, my fear gives it animal-like qualities, making it feel like something out of a Stephen King novel. The fallout has arrived, in heavy, oily clouds. The yammering hosts on the TV start talking about how the rain is coming, and that you need to avoid it, but somehow I can already see the radiation creeping around my house. I snap the photo of the fading mushroom cloud and head inside.

 

That was when my alarm woke me up. I’m not sure why I had such a reaction to the “fallout”. Radiation typically doesn’t scare me. Like bumps in the night, once you’ve looked under the bed (or in a textbook) then your fear starts to fade. But, for some reason, not this time.

 

Anyway, that was my dream. I have heard that it is still at least three weeks before I get my cover, and I am re-living the NOART angst of Katawa Shoujo all over again. Still, waiting for the cover, just like paying for the editing or pressing my friends into doing QC readings will hopefully make it worth it for you. But, because I’m such a nice guy, I have a surprise for you. I haven’t asked if I can post this but at this point, jet-lagged and alone in a German city, I just don’t care. I want you guys to see that there is something coming, and to start getting excited about it. And, so long as my left pinkie can hold out, I’m going to start writing “Zemlya – Origins” shorts; little one-shot introductions to the characters in Zemlya. The first, I guess, is already up as “Arctic Gale 2 – chapter 1,” but I have a few more ideas. Edit – I’ve done Kate’s now. I think now that these should be read together to create a better picture of Zemlya.

Continue reading

Stay in School

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So, some time ago I saw this video. It’s had 10 million views so I’m sure that it’s all well and good for the creator. If you haven’t seen it then please have a watch of it. Spoiler alert: I don’t believe a word this guy is saying.

 

Ok, I have no idea who this is. I originally thought that it was Russell Brand, and I am not sure why.

 

The message is delivered with such passion and, let’s face it, poetic skill that it is easy to follow along with the message.

But then you realise that it is bullshit. Yet, if you were in high school or in university I’m sure you had a little bit of “Yeah, he’s right! I don’t know how to file my taxes! Someone should really teach me that!”

I’ve sat on this topic for some time now, but unfortunately this nonsense has just blown up the UK, is about to elect Trump for president, and I’m also out of whiskey so I’m going to take it out on you guys (that is, of course, until my pinkie gives out due to cramping).

 

So, first thing’s first. STAY IN SCHOOL.

I really can’t stress that enough. Recently there has been a lot of this “school doesn’t teach you anything” sentiment. You’ll hear arguments like “I didn’t learn how to apply for a mortgage at school” to the ever-present “Zuckerberg dropped out of school.”

I recently read Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-up bubbleYes, it was humourous because it was a guy telling the worst parts of his job. I could probably also write a book about coke-snorting motivational speakers, sex on stage and drunken rock stars. Unfortunately, if you read the blurb of the book, these are the main topics that are mentioned. But the main story was about an industry that is built on hype and stories. The Zuckerberg myth is one that you hear a lot form a number of different start-up myths. Classical education makes you a conformist. Drop-outs make better entrepreneurs.

It’s crap. Most of those “drop-outs” were dropping out of places like Harvard. It wasn’t that they were successful because they dropped out. They were smart enough to begin with, and then they dropped out and got lucky. Almost all business and statistics books attribute at least half of a person’s success to luck. Plus, for every Zuckerberg there are thousands of other drop outs that try and start a company and fail. Every day millions of dollars are pumped into the Silicon Valleys of the world, throwing a wide spread of bets out to hope to catch the next mega company. For a short time those companies look attractive, but even then most of them still fail.

 

One thing that really bugs me about this “Don’t stay in school” concept is that it’s not teaching you how to do specific things, like how to vote or how to do CPR (which is crap – I learnt CPR in school). It’s this culture of instant satisfaction that is driving this. Yes, applying for a home loan is a big process. But it’s supposed to be. But if you know how to read, how to do a little bit of maths and how to ask for help, then you’ll be fine. The collaborative element of school is often overlooked. By passing through a common educational system you can communicate complex ideas to your peers. And if that peer happens to be a mortgage specialist then they will look after you. And, here’s the great thing, you can take those skills and translate them into applying for surgery, or looking for a job, or trying to publish a novel (NOARTNOARTNOART). If you’re taught how to fill out a mortgage application then that is literally all you can do.

I’m also sick of the repeated myth of “I’ve never used calculus, it’s worthless.” I might be at the top end of using mathematics for daily life, but I use it all the damned time. And with the skills I learnt in maths and physics, I can interpret numbers and make sure that the people that work for me can keep their jobs, and that my customers are able to achieve their goals as well. Sure, you might not need it in your entry-level job, but if you want to advance in the rat race, you either need to get technical or you need to get strategic. Unless you’re luck to work in an artistic field where technical mastery is purely creative, then you’re going to need at least a basic understanding of the complex topics you are taught in school to improve.

Being a generalist is almost always superior to being a specialist. For example, let’s just say you were a super saddle maker. Maybe not the greatest, but it was all you did for 2 decades and you were pretty good at it. Suddenly, Henry Ford arrives and fucks your shit up. No-one is buying saddles anymore and you’re drunk and living under a bridge. If you had the more general skillset of being a leather worker, you might be able to transfer your skills to making leather seats for German cars, but if all you know is saddles, you’re shit out of luck.

I know that the education system for many countries is not great, but it is a start. Your teachers are almost unanimously busting their arses for low pay to give you a pretty damned good base to work from. And they’re not forcing you into a career, either. Most schools let you choose from subjects that are at least interesting to you; teaching you the same complex comprehension skills regardless of the decisions of 14-year-old you. I can partially agree that there are some things that are important and not always in the curriculum, like sex education and CPR, but even when I was in high school 17 years ago, these were taught. Great teachers were able to take the things they were teaching and put them into real context. And, believe it or not, English was one of my most hated subjects, yet here I am, talking to people who only know me for my writing. Education is important and should evolve with society, for sure, but it should always be teaching you how to function in society with a toolkit of complex thinking and problem solving skills.

 

I know this from taking the hard way. I was one of the lucky people that could coast through school and still achieve. I was in the Science Olympiad program and yet I skipped practically all of my Year 12 physics classes. I slept through practically all of my undergrad degree. In high school I wanted to be a fighter pilot and did pretty much nothing if it didn’t move me closer to that goal – including making friends and learning how to interact with people. When I was rejected for pilot training I was lost for words. It took me a long time to recover from that hit. But I got over it, and started working. I tried to start a business and then realised that I was missing a lot of skills. I moved up the ranks of a couple of other companies and put myself through a master’s degree. Suddenly, the “annoying” and “wasteful” departments like marketing and sales made sense.

The only way I was able to move between those different career paths was because I had at least paid attention enough to have a basic understanding of complex thinking. Had I paid more attention in school and uni I probably would have been about 5 years ahead of current me (of course, I also acknowledge that I’ve also had a lot of luck and support to get here).

 

So yeah. Stay in school. If you want to know how your human rights, take he literacy you were gifted by your teachers and parents and read the Geneva Convention (again, at my school the Geneva convention was part of our curriculum and it was posted in the library). But don’t blame the education system for your own need to be spoon fed the answers.

Instead of rapping about leaving school, why not try putting a little effort in?

 

 

(I was going to post an article I read some time ago, but in the google search to find it I found so many other tales from teachers and students alike that I just gave up. I want to go back to stressing about not having cover art. It is literally the only thing I am waiting on – unless I’ve been ripped off by a dodgy ISBN supplier, in which case I need to do that bit again).

 

A day at the Zoo

So, we went out to Tama Park Zoo today, about an hour out of Tokyo.

It’s pretty big, comparable to Taronga zoo in Sydney.

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Oh yeah, and I will finish proofing tonight so I’m now only waiting on the cover art.

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Learning to Moe

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