Thirty-Nine / 三十九

Year thirty-eight was pretty strange, y’all.

I went to look back at last year’s birthday post so I could address my successes and failures—and I didn’t make one. I suppose that’s basically 2018 in a nutshell. Some thoughts about the last year of my life, though:

My thirty-eighth was a year of professional growth.

I hit some personal milestones I’d set for myself in my career last year, and it feels pretty great. I’ve been working on an important and long-term project at WordPress.com VIP, and seeing that progress has been really good. I feel respected and valued, even when I’m not feeling great about myself or my abilities.

I’ve also been able to continue to build a reputation as a hard-working and dependable volunteer at fighting game events in the Midwest, and have been recognized with staff positions at Frosty Faustings and Combo Breaker, the two premier events in the Midwest.

Having teenaged kids is pretty fun.

I now have three teenagers, and I’m constantly interested in how fascinating it’s been to watch my kids grow up to be young adults. It’s challenging at times, and I feel old a lot more than I used to, but I really enjoy engaging with them and finding out what they are interested in and who they are going to become.

My health continues to be problematic.

I’ve really failed at this one, yet again. I’m still around the same weight I’ve been for several years, and what started as a fairly dedicated gym routine at the start of the year ended up being months of just not going and putting in the work. I have no-one to blame but myself on this one. I just haven’t been able to turn my diabetes around and get ahead of it.

Here are my hopes for year thirty-nine:

It’s time to learn JavaScript.

I’ve been neglecting this professionally for too long. JS is becoming more and more the language I’ll have to work with on the web, and not being at least somewhat proficient with it will eventually become a deficiency. I’m spending some of this week at work on experimenting with JavaScript and trying to learn how it and other modern front-end technologies work.

I’m using NodeCG as a bit of a starting point, because it has a lot of crossover with my hobby life, and presents interesting challenges I can attack that will teach me the concepts I need to continue to develop my technical skills.

I’d like to hit 250 pounds by Combo Breaker.

Can I lose thirty-some pounds in the next five months? I’m invested in finding out. I need to lose some weight. It holds me back in so many aspects of my life, and is a prime indicator of how well-managed my diabetic condition is. I know that weight can be just a number, but this is just a part of my life I feel I need to conquer before I’m 40.

And in the end, the only person I can be accountable to is myself. It’s going to be hard work, and I’ll have to give up things I really like—such as being lazy and a number of food items I love—but I need to get back to physical activity and pair it with controlling my carb intake properly.

I want to start streaming local events.

Last year, I came back from Frosty Faustings and my first work on stream direction alongside Will English with goals to establish myself in the St. Louis area as an event streamer. I have most of the gear I need for the job, and really enjoyed helping run the stream at Frosty. For various reasons, this never materialized.

There’s a possibility that the opportunity will present itself again this year, and if I can smartly approach it, I plan to. I’m still not going to stream anything where I’m unable to attach my name or channel to it in some way, and I hope attitudes towards that have changed here in a way that will allow for me to get more event experience. We’ll see how it goes.

I’d love to be able to engage with the FGC outside of those two specific events every year, but it’ll take some effort and luck.

I’m going to conquer learning Japanese.

Some of you know that I started down this path last year, a bit too late to take advantage of the yearly sale at WaniKani. I managed through the first two levels of learning kanji, and put my learning on hold around mid-year so I could purchase a lifetime membership to the site once the sale came back around at the end of the year.

I purchased my lifetime membership a couple of weeks ago, and I’m already back to where I was when I stopped (I reset my progress back to level one when I purchased the membership).

I’d like to be at level 20 by the end of the year, and start working towards speaking proficiency as well. I’ll be reading through some grammar within a few months, and I would like to be able to take the test for N5 proficiency in December.

So I begin year thirty-nine.

It surprises me sometimes when I think about how much stuff in my life is now significantly far away, temporally. Lots of things have been over for a while now—high school was two decades ago and change, my career change is now over a decade old, and my children are approaching the age when I went off to college. We’re officially done with the “little kids” stage of our lives, and there’s an uncomfortable inevitability to that notion.

I recently listened to a recording of a performance I was part of when I was only two years older than my oldest son. It was sobering to consider.

I’m by no means done with, though. My life didn’t really have solid direction until I was thirty, and there continue to be opportunities that will present themselves as we continue to forge along in life. I count myself amazingly fortunate to be accompanied on this journey by my wife, who supports and encourages me along the way. And we are likewise enriched by the presence of our children.

I’ll try to check in on this stuff every so often throughout the year. And I’ll be streaming live on Twitch later today, as well! It’d mean a lot to me if you’d stop by on my birthday.

Be seeing you.

Tofugu Swag Drop

(I apologize for the lighting quality on all pictures in this post; it is late and I did not feel like messing with it beyond getting clear images.)

I wanted a Crabigator sticker for my laptop now that I’m digging in pretty hard in learning my kanji via WaniKani, and noticed that the Tofugu store was having a pretty rad sale on pretty much everything.

Turns out they have a pretty great set of WaniKani stickers, so I ordered a package that included those stickers and a tenugui with one of their illustrations. They showed up today, and I love the merch:

The stickers are nicely-rendered and high-quality vinyls, and the tenugui is also pretty great. It’s slightly small to fit around my giant gourd as a headband, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to use it that way.

But the coolest thing was this hand-written postcard that came with the merch:

Kristen, I want to say thank you for taking the time to personalize my order, and I hope this will be a good year, as well. I’m a few weeks back into rejoining WaniKani now that I have purchased a subscription, and I’m already hitting those points where I level up my kanji and unlock a stack of vocabulary, causing me to run like I’m being chased by the boulder at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Japanese: Starting Over (a bit)

Some of you know that I had been working on learning Japanese recently in a renewed capacity. I had started on it some time ago in a very casual way as a hobby thing, and last year at Combo Breaker, I was in a situation where having knowledge of the language would have been a huge plus, so I decided to start again.

Jon Chinnery recommended WaniKani to me for learning the language from a vocabulary and reading standpoint, and the system proved to be very helpful and successful. I ripped through the first two levels fairly well and was on my way towards finishing the third, which is where the free tier runs out.

I ran into yet another instance as a bracket runner at CEO where having more functional use of the language would have helped me a lot. I knew that I knew just enough Japanese that I should not attempt to speak it in a functional capacity.

WaniKani has a sale every year around the Christmas season, where a lifetime membership to the service is 1/3 less expensive, so I decided to pare back a bit and wait for the sale. The end result has been that I haven’t touched it in over two months, and the other day, I decided to reset my progress completely to re-start the track and prepare for purchasing the full product in preparation for the next year of learning.

So I’m back on the train of learning a language for the first time since graduate school again. Japanese has proven to be quite difficult, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m planning on taking a fairly long time to get there, as I’m only doing one set of reviews and lessons a day, but the nice thing about WaniKani is that it lets you assign your own pace and handles the spaced repetition for you.

Let me know if you have any tips or suggestions as I learn!

The Best Final Fantasy VI Translation

I’ve been following Legends of Localization’s run through Final Fantasy VI loosely throughout the process, as they examine three translations of the game and compare them to one another.

They recently posted an overview conclusion, and I found the results somewhat surprising given the comparisons they ran earlier on Final Fantasy IV:

We’ve looked at four different translations of Final Fantasy VI in great detail and compared each one with the original Japanese script. Each version has its own pros and cons in terms of gameplay, presentation, content differences, and so on. But in terms of translation only:

I feel that the Game Boy Advance translation of Final Fantasy VI is unquestionably the best translation out of all of them, by far.

The post itself has a lot of well-written explanation as to why. After seeing this, I went looking to see if there was a translation patch that ported the GBA script over to the SNES ROM, as there is for Final Fantasy V, but I was unable to find one.

I’m currently running through EarthBound on stream, and after finishing that, I may turn my attention to some of the Final Fantasy series I have not yet completed. VI is in that list, so I have some thinking to do regarding which translation to use for my run.

Photo Album: 桜

Last year, we planted a flowering cherry tree in our front yard. By the time we bought it, it had already flowered for the year. This is the first year we’ve been able to see it in bloom. The 桜 (sakura) appear in bunches of three on the branches. It’s not overly impressive yet, but I imagine as it matures, it will become very impressive to see.

As we are scheduled for some rough weather in the next couple of days, I decided to take some pictures now while the blossoms were still in one piece. I hope to take some pictures a little later after more of the buds have properly opened.

Perhaps we’ll grab a picnic blanket and lunch and celebrate 花見 (hanami). It’s nice to have a fun connection—however tenuous—both to our nation’s capital and to friends who live quite far away.