Building on my 2018 reflection, I continue to find peace and comfort with being myself (short hair is STILL AWESOME!). Last year I noted that I wanted to be kinder. I'm... still trying! Trying to take the empathy-first approach in all interactions, and extending that to anyone I meet. Actively checking my own biases. From a sustainability/environmental POV, I'm also trying to use less single-use plastics, choosing to eat less meat products, etc. I've finally used up all the "plastic bags" under my kitchen sink because I've been using reusable ones for a few years now.

I've consolidated my online presence! Aside from my own website, I'm only going to be active on mastodon. I'll cross-post relevant things to birdsite/twitter. For downloads, I'll be on itch.io! I've been unhappy with the state of online data privacy, and am making efforts to get off services that track, read, and sell/leak your data for marketing/profiling purposes. More information about that stuff on privacytools.io and/or /r/privacy, if you want to start to make the switch.

NYT recently put out an article on longitudinal location data and how it can become personally identifiable as soon as you pair it with one other data source. Deep fakes can be cheap and powerful. More specific data policy and regulations don't exist and/or aren't enforced and/or are behind. Add on to that, the average person would not have read the GDRP or CCPA to know what rights they have, nor has the average person untangled the legal language in a typical Terms of Service. There is a separate discussion about how privacy is becoming a privilege that people have to pay into (or have high literacy levels to navigate), rather than the baseline, which will ultimately put a lot of poorer and/or at risk folks, even more at risk. All of this makes me sad/mad! It's all very complex, I'll stop here!!!!!!

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On a brighter note, I started playing the Yakuza video game series after seeing a video clip of a chicken at a bowling alley. Little did I know that this chicken would be a gateway into a fun and exciting world of pure-heartedness paired with extremely exaggerated violence. The series and its characters are immoral/righteous, aggressive/kind, and ridiculous/serious, but somehow it all balances out and makes for an entertaining game to play (and watch). It has been a while since I've felt invested in a series. The CG cut scenes and in-game play have pleasant reactive depth of field adjustments. After playing Y0, Kiwami 1, and Kiwami 2, I can confidently say that Majima (surprising?) is my favourite! Specifically seeing the charater change from Y0 to K1 was chefs kiss. Kiryu is a big himbo.

The video comments on Yakuza videos aren't dumpster fires like most other videos. Unfortunately I still do not have the chicken after an hour of trying to get the chicken. NUGGET (cries)!

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My favourite animal of the year is the opossum. I'm extremely enamoured by them, and want to look at them all the time. They're simultaneously cute and feral, depending on the image you see. Their little hands are so strange and delightful.

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Runner-up animal would be the raccoon dog, especially this one that is enjoying a pile of autumn leaves.

2019 memories/accomplishments:

  • Right around this time last year, I put out the first chapter of Here We Are. We're 100+ pages in~waooo how did this happen~? Preparing the book design now, even though I'm not done drawing the inside pages!
  • Someone asked me to be on their WILL to take care of their kid (in the unfortunate event that multiple others aren't available). Wow, is this a true sign of adulthood and responsibility?
  • I still have a job! I learned a lot of new things from my job...expanded my generalist capabilities!
  • I'm saving money! High interest saving account? RRSP? TFSA? Auto-deposits? I GOT EM!
  • I illustrated an author's parent/baby book, and it will be officially printed/self-published in 2020! It's going to be hardcover and smyth-sewn! I learned a bunch about doing file prep for these kinds of covers, as well as the magics of content-awareness fill. Please look forward to it! (Also it's my first foray into being 'an illustrator', which I will continue to have imposter syndrome about)
  • I took care of a lot of charming and beautiful tamagotchi ON babies
  • Seeing a big pile of Sallys at the LINE store
  • Rebuilt my PC (so I could play Yakuza hahaha) and it somehow still works...?!
  • Have 2-levels of daily file backup (one of my HDs broke this year, I almost lost everything...!)

In 2020 I'd like to:

  • Continue to be kind
  • Continue to purge accounts/things that are bad for data privacy
  • Survive working remotely in the dead of winter, on an island
  • Experiment and/or reconnect with the world, relevant industries, and my creative craft (I want to dig into more clip studio paint features and understand how to harness them, and read/write more about character development/voice)
  • I should probably exercise
  • Use my hard earned money to support and appreciate more artists (music, visual, fashion, etc.) and donate to more worthy causes
  • Add accessibility information on images I post on SM (social media)
  • Play more Yakuza, get the chicken

Thanks everyone, and happy new year~

Today's music post: Yesterday Princess (Stanley Clarke X Curren$y) by Yussef Dayes ft. Rocco Palladino & Charlie Stacey. Another mega chill production by some of my favourite musicians!

I stayed up late and made Jake picrew. Relatively speaking, he is way easier to make than others because he is 10% closer to pretty boy type than the others (facial hair, body size, skin tone)...

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Sabina...

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Today's music post: Dog by Lucifour M, directed by Emanuele Kabu!

I've always been on a mission to find the perfect bag. Every bag I own, I've had some major/minor gripe about, whether in function or aesthetic.

This is going to be about my most recent EDC bag for daily commute/work. This bag only works because I've been pretty intention what I do and do not want to carry, on top of trying really hard to not take my work laptop home! I also wanted something that could fit a sketchbook, or any other "maybe" items depending on the circumstances (scarf, mitten, lunch tupperware, umbrella, etc.) without become an overloaded monster.

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It's a World Famous Web Haversack from an army/sporting goods surplus store. I pulled off the stitched tag on the front. It's a bit of an in-betweener when it comes to aesthetic/style; it's kind of classic, but also kind of casual, but also not so casual that it couldn't work for a more businessy outfit.

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Since the inside of the bag didn't have any pockets (a no-no feature for me), I found a 3-zipper compartment pouch and sewed it into the bag seams around the corners. My needle wasn't strong enough to pierce through the bag fabric, so I went for a minimal viable product (MVP) here.

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I also sewed in a little cotton ribbon and looped in a carabiner. I use this to latch my keys to the inside of my bag for easy access.

I pulled out the tag and got a gigantic wax candle from dollarama and rubbed it into the fabric. It's like colouring with a gigantic crayon.

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I melted the the wax into the fabric with a hairdryer set to warm/hot mode! I'd say that this probably only makes it slightly water repellent, since I also went for MVP.

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Post-melting, the bag looks a-okay! Other than the 3 zipper pockets, the main compartment is just one big hole. Time to fill it up with stuff! Though not too much stuff. I'm always trying to get away with carrying as little as possible. Since I usually commute during rush hour and have to transfer a few times, I don't find that I have heads down time to do much sketching/drawing/music or podcast listening. I've made a choice to be very "present" in these moments (vs. zoning out/going into my own headspace).

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What's inside:

  • Charger and AC adapter for iphone
  • Lightning/audio jack adapter (I hate this)
  • Earphones (not pictured)
  • Tissue paper
  • Bus pass
  • Zipper pouch: friend printed and sent this to me as a memorial to our Germany trip (contents below!)
  • Keys/lanyards
  • Pens: platinum preppy (F) pink, pentel finepoint, gel pen
  • main wallet: MiniCap 2.0 by Anvi Design. really like using this! Fits in my pocket!!
  • second wallet: custom printed pattern of Pinkey from artscow. Mostly insurance/health/membership cards and other knicknacks (aka not daily use)
  • notebook: Aranzi Aronzo Kappa Take Notes Memo Book (A6)
  • foodbar: just in case

What's inside the zippy:

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I'm pretty happy with how this all came together. My only grips about the bag now are that I wish it closed tighter, but it's not a deal breaker since I feel the inside zip pouches are a good secondary level of theft protection. My next bag mission is to move from a 29L bag to a 20L bag for business travel. Stay tuned...!

Today's music post: Glory Box by Portishead. An oldie but a goodie!

My webcomic Here We Are is launched! The first chapter (10p) is available online at http://dirchansky.com/hwa/01 :)

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I want to acknowledge to myself that...I'm a very hard worker. Sometimes I feel subpar or barely meeting the status quo, but when I look at what I've been able to create/produce in tandem with all the other things happening in my life (full time day job++OT/travel, volunteer work, freelance work, personal work, etc.), I will give myself that pat on my back.

I will never be the best from a technical/visual/storytelling POV because of my circumstances (and ever-evolving moving target of what "good" looks like), but I have come to terms that I'm not at the point in my life where going deep into craft/skill-building is the highest priority, and know that my expectations will need to scale to the available space-time-continuum. I also scaled back on social media, consolidated my stuff into spaces that I prefer (e.g., this freetalk blog, mastodon) and that I feel that I have more control over.

A few personal achievements

  • Finished all my Love Love Hill comic work well in advance; learned that I have to start planning/plotting/drafting months in advance of the due date, ahaha (especially since I find the planning/plotting stage takes longer and longer as years go on; the well of stories is running dry in my mind)
  • Made a small visual novel game called Come for a Drink; practiced writing (using Scrivener), coding (where indentation matters) in a new game dev engine (Renpy), all while working with a set of very dependable, professional, skilled, and talented voice/music/sound folks!
  • Launched Here We Are webcomic, which I aim to continue and focus on in 2019, since LLH is taking a break next year (from anthologies, conventions, tabling, etc.); I'm making a conscious effort to experiment with the way that I tell stories in verbally/visually, thinking more consciously about voices, etc., so I'm sure the comic will be a bit of a mess, but I'll learn a lot from it! If I'm too strict with the planning, I think I'll feel creatively stifled/locked-in, so there's going to be a bit of "making it up as I go along" from a story POV.

(more fake dialogue)

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(fashion exploration)

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I owe most of the above productivity to pre-planning, time management, and years of built-up resilience; given my other responsibilities and unpredictable client work, if I let anything one slip too long, things will pile up and be due at the same time, and ultimately leads to detrimental mental/wellness ripple effects to all aspects of my life. When that happens, I feel over-extended, over-committed, and oftentimes bitter! I will continue to negotiate all these aspects of my life to strive for better balance, and keep myself out of situations where I feel bad!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this year and to everyone who engaged with any of my stories!

In 2019, I want to continue to add more positive vibes into the world, rather than self-deprecating/negative ones. After watching the tearful Mr. Rogers documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor, I really need to up my game on being kinder and nicer to people around me.

(My stardew valley life)

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Hope that 2019 brings you folks some good stuff! There's a lot of garbage stuff happening in our world, but a lot of greatness too. Don't lose sight of the good!

Lastly, here's today's music post: Lambo-san no Yabou (Lambo-san's Ambition) by Junko Takeuchi. It's a character song from the Katekyo Hitman Reborn anime. I really empathize with being a big crybaby, and particularly the parts of the song where Lambo's voice starts cracking/wavering. The voice actress (also does the voice for Naruto) puts on a great performance.

(I'm also very happy that I cut my hair short, I didn't think it would make such a big difference)

Recently spent the weekend in NYC for the first-ish time! Just documenting this for my own reference; I barely took any pictures.

FRIDAY

  • I had a bad service experience with UP/Presto...
  • Apparently my nose is not attuned to the smell of ur|ne in the subway?
  • Friedmans: Got the mac n' cheese (fortina, parmesan), ginger carrot soup, and sauteed spinach (raisins, pine nuts)! The mac n' cheese was very cheesy, just the way I like it!
  • LINE FRIENDS store: I was sad that most of the Sally merchandise was sold out/gone already. I was able to grab a few items, but much less stuff than I thought I would exit with!
  • Roberta's: got a pretty regular pepperoni pizza; nothing too special
  • Joe & the Juice: I got a very $$ smoothie called YOUNG BLOOD (celery, Lemon, apples) but it was good and made me feel "healthier"
  • Carnegie Hall: the main reason I went on this trip was to catch the Joe Hisaishi Studio Ghibli concert at Carnegie Hall. I have to say that I was disappointed at the acoustics in the hall, given that I could barely hear the soloists (vocal or instrumental) over the regular symphony. There were also parts in the playing that sounded slightly off/like mistakes? I've been to TSO quite a few times and never experienced anything bad. The Joe Hisaishi show probably the highest density of east asians I've seen packed into a theatre!

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SATURDAY

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  • Alimama: I got a match mochi donut (it has matcha coated rice krispies on top), it reminded me a lot of jin deui!
  • Xi'an famous food: I got the stewed oxtail hand-ripped noodles in soup. The soup was very good! I think I prefer thinner ripped noodles for my own preferred noodle-surface area to soup-ratio though.
  • Karaoke Boho (Orchard): there was no (visible?) way to adjust the volume of the music of the karaoke video/song vs. our microphone, so the overall experience was lackluster. Best part of this was meeting up with an old artist friend, Nou!
  • Loring Place: we shared the BBQ chicken (roasted brussels sprouts, apples, and mustard), Peking Duck (with turnips, carrots, and spicy quince-apple chutney), and the roasted short rib (horse radish gremolata and potato puree), all very delicious! I also got a celery ginger (iced team, mint) drink. Gotta fool myself into being healthy.

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SUNDAY

  • Chelsea Market: met up with Nou again and wandered around, including a pop-up watch/timepiece show, and the artist flea market!
  • Num Pang Kitchen (Chelsea Market): I got the lemon grass braised beef short rib on jasmine rice, super delicious! The beef just fell apart with a few pokes from my fork!
  • The Highline: a former elevated freight rail line railway that was turned into a community space/public park. The weather was very nice for a walk, and the flowers/plants were still blooming!
  • Paper Presentation: Went to Nou's favourite stationery store...so much paper and craft supplies! I could make ALL THE THINGS!
  • Books of Wonder: dropped by a cute children's book store and it just so happened that Eva Chen was getting ready to do a autograph/reading session for her book Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes.
  • Le Pain Quotidien: stopped in to drink more "health" into my body, aka the super green (kale, celery, cucumber, pineapple, lemon, apple, ginger and mint)
  • Ichiran: most expensive ramen I've ever had in north america, but I enjoyed the level of customization that I was able to do. I got a rich broth, and it was great.

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Today's music post: The Last to Know by Faith No More.

Updated to Bludit 3.0! Always a bit stressful doing upgrades when you're not sure if all of your content is going to get busted or not, haha. Luckily everything worked out just as the documentation outlined!

I was at Canzine Toronto yesterday with Linda Tea, representing Love Love Hill. It was nice to see a lot of bustling creativity across the whole show. I'm grateful to the organizers and volunteers at Broken Pencil for making things happen. Thank you to everyone who dropped by to say hello and/or buy stuff :). Check out the winners of the 2018 Broken Pencil Zine awards, and their IG compilation post to find more excellent zinesters (such breadth!)!