Shad's Writings

Starting with a therapeutic piece I wrote four months ago in reaction to my terrified anticipation before I started at my new job. I have no aspirations beyond therapeutic writing which means I'm not requesting feedback but feel free to comment if you feel inclined.

The piece was also inspired by the beautiful chibi avatar drawn by Fancy the Great. It happens to show you what Shademp looks like in the reflective piece below.

Even after all the preparations and all the time spent on building the spacecraft on which he currently resided it was an emotional goodbye to depart from Earth's atmosphere. With a simple mental switch, Shademp slowed down his subjective time so that his viewing of Earth was extended from minutes to hours. Near the horizon he could see the ever so beautiful orbital ring that circled around the whole planet. The "GEO ring" coupled with the large mirrors and stations circling the Earth was an elegant clockwork that helped the functioning of what some would call a near-perfect civilization.

The criticism that was voiced with greatest frequency was that Earth was a living museum effectively belonging to old people obsessed with archiving the past. Shademp saw the truth in this criticism and made no attempt to deny it even though he was an example of a very old man obsessed with preserving history. If the younger generations wanted to take up space of their own they had no choice but to leave Earth and perhaps even the solar system. Capability was definitely not a hurdle seeing as a twenty-something person could download knowledge and virtual experience to match that of a person who had accrued the same education for fifteen-hundred years via analog means. To be centuries old was no merit: It just meant you had the fortune of planting flags before anyone else.

Shademp felt great respect for the younger generations and their drive for adventure, whether that drive was typical of young people or forced by Earth being so occupied by old people. Some had asked Shad why he didn't just reprogram himself to become naturally more adventurous and risk-taking. The tools are all there, after all. For Shademp, as with all sentient beings in this day and age, the world was his playground...was it not? The question answered itself with one keyword: Self-preservation.

Tinkering with the assembly behind core personality traits quickly render a person unrecognizable, effectively killing the old persona for a new one to take shape. People may all be functionally immortal nowadays but what all these infinite capabilities meant was that death took on a new shape. Death is now more a question of when a person makes the CHOICE to let go of the illusory self and in what manner they may go. Some choose to go fully digital and join a hive mind. Some reprogram their entire personalities and keep an arbitrary amount of memories from their "previous life" as it were. Concepts that had previously only existed in religious mysticism, such as reincarnation or spiritual enlightenment, had effectively become reality through modern technology.

"We're going full circle...aren't we?" Shademp muttered to himself.

There were layers of meaning behind these words but with one emotional red thread running through them all: Fear. He feared leaving Earth behind in this manner. The ship was going to be circling the solar system at super-near-light-speed. The time dilation would be so extreme that a few weeks on the ship meant centuries passing by on Earth. The time dilation was a necessary part of the spacecraft's prime experiment which was to search for local spacetime anomalies. In the past Shademp had never left his home planet for more than thirty years at a time but now he was taking the risk of centuries, perhaps even millennia, passing by before his return.

It was true that Shad wasn't particularly adventurous or risk-taking. But even this careful, discreet old man knew and accepted that a life in preserved stillness is also a form of death. The choice was to either stay on Earth, knowing full well what was awaiting him, or to leave and explore untested grounds. The consequences of the latter were not certain and indeed that was precisely the whole point of this endeavor.

Shademp resumed normal subjective time and immediately after this the ship's computer was heard over the intercom.

"The Epoch is now leaving Earth orbit."

In a subtle act of self-motivation Shademp turned his back from the display of the quickly receding Earth, said to himself, "Let's go!" and walked to his workstation.
As is common, I have dabbled in the past between imagining a medieval fantasy world and a sci-fi setting. Two and a half years ago I revisited my old fantasy world and tried to give it more substance. Here is the basic jist of what resulted from that effort roughly three years ago. I have no plans to revisit this world.

In the realm of Ghaleem, humans have since ancient times been raised by the Living Gods: The Dragons, the Golems and the Leviathans. These entities were functionally immortal but unable to reproduce, dooming the first of their kind to also be the last of their kind.

Now the Leviathans have disappeared into the deepest ocean depths. The Golems have petrified into dead statues. The last Dragon has just died. The humans of Ghaleem are now essentially orphans. From sorrow quickly follows anger and the Dragon nation of Kovoia begins a war of conquest on their neighbours.

When the king of Kovoia reveals his new weapon, the lady warrior Eftichia, the war intensifies with the fire of divine conviction. This is so because Eftichia is a blessing from the Dragons. She is the only person with the strength, blood and wings of a dragon.

What follows is what I think might be a good portion of a prologue chapter. I ended up rewriting most of this years old draft for today's post, even though I have no intention of delving back into the world of Ghaleem.

Albert is brought to my tent. The soldiers first try to place him on the table. I scowl at them to rest him in my bed instead. They follow orders without hesitation.

"Leave us."

The soldiers leave with only me, my healer and Albert in the tent. Time passes. I hold Albert's cold hand.

"Why aren't you healing him?"

My healer doesn't respond.

"Heal him for fuck sake."

"Eftichia... It's too late."

Then what use are you to me, I think to myself. I keep expecting Albert to smile back at me, like he always did.

"...You know what he used to call me? Eftichia 'Featherweight'. Because I was always so light on my feet. Eventually all the boys at the orphanage called me that."

What am I even doing. Telling my healer these things. Or maybe I'm hoping to remind Albert that he shouldn't be......

"He died in service of our king. Thanks to his sacrifice this fortress did not return to the enemy's hands. I'll emphasize his name in my next letter to the king."

For anyone else it would have been the highest honor to have your name remembered by the leader of Kovoia. But not for Albert. Because Albert was different.

"Don't. Don't write his name in your letters."

The scholar audibly gasped.

"Why would you waste his death like that?!"

I clench Albert's cold hand tighter.

Albert. You were so much braver than me. You voiced the doubts to me that I would not dare admit to myself. You wanted nothing to do with this war. You never believed in it. At the risk of lethal punishment you still shared these thoughts with me. Albert. I swear that your name will not land where you would not wish it.

"Don't question me. Or do I have to remind you how easily I can have you replaced?"

The clueless scholar excuses himself and leaves. I lean over my dead friend. Both my arms and my wings embrace him.

I wake up feeling like I've slept a whole night under the weight of a Golem statue. The candle light and sound of footsteps reveal that barely any time has passed and the soldiers are still organizing themselves after the attack earlier. Anger begins welling up inside me.

He shouldn't have died for something he didn't believe in. He deserved better. Now his life is ended by a nameless, faceless enemy soldier.

"Takin' a break, eh?"

Soldiers some distance outside the tent were conversing. I reckon only my sharp hearing could have caught it.

"Well that Govian scum sure ain't the one breaking. His tactics may be cowardly but his conviction isn't. Messed up five of his fingers already and he barely flinched. I'm gonna have to rest and think before I figure out how to make him talk."

"Word is he's the one who speared down Eftichia's buddy what's-his-name, yeah?"

"And unless we can get him to reveal how he got inside the fortress there may be lots more spears in the night."

The prisoner tent is far from the other tents so to dull the sound of the screams when the torturer does his work. I don't know how many guards noticed my quick rush to the tent. No matter. They wouldn't dare question me anyway.

I enter. The Govian prisoner's arms are tied around a pole in the middle of the tent. The torturer's work is visible but clearly it hasn't had enough of an effect. The prisoner's eyes are closed but he has an ugly smirk on his face. I kick dirt up his face.

“Your imagination really is running low. Kicking up dirt? Now that’s-“

The sickening sound of his Govian accent stops when he finally raises his head to see who has arrived. It's not his torturer. It’s somebody even worse.


His legs instinctively struggle to get away, forgetting how his arms are tied around the pole. He briefly stops struggling and starts to remember some of his old courage.

"The Whirlwind of a Thousand Spears. I didn't want to believe the poisoned words of the Dragon King but it really is true. You are real. Somehow...the Gods have made a mistake. They made you real...and they brought you to the royalty of Kovoia no less."

I almost admire this piece of scum. Most men I face on the battlefield are rendered speechless. Didn't leave the brave ones alive long enough to see how many words they could have mustered. This one has spoken long enough though. The torturer's cleaning cloth will do fine.

I stuff the cloth in his mouth. His screams will be loud enough anyway.

Using my knife I slice my right hand without hesitation. The Govian’s eyes immediately widen. Clearly he has heard the stories about what my blood can do. The fumes alone are irritating his eyes. No point in wasting any drops. I place my heavily bleeding hand over the Govian’s face.

It doesn’t end quickly. I make sure of it. The muffled screams continue even as I start feeling his skull on my fingers. I feel a rush and forbidden pleasure between my legs from giving him such a slow and painful death.

Now his chest has stopped moving. There's nothing left of his face.

That felt so good. My work is done. I've avenged......

No. NO. I shouldn't have done this.

He... He would have stopped me if he was here...

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I should listen to that wiser part of me. Two nights ago he whispered to me this:

"You die if you try. You die if you don't try. Now tell me. Which way do you want to die?"

A dramatic but effective way of saying "How do you want to live?"

On a fundamental level I do not trust myself. This perspective is wisdom and folly in equal amounts; It informs skepticism and careful considerations but it also promotes despair and catatonic mindsets. That's why my alter ego exists. If I can't trust myself then at least I can trust him. Think of it as an externalization of ideals and hope, like a kid dreaming of being Superman or a religious person praying to their god(s). It's a compartmentalisation of the mind that can be used as an efficient tool.

Just a little bit over two years ago, when I was still recovering from the worst depression of my life, he came to me in a vision. As much as a non-visual guy like me can have a "vision" at least. What follows is a description of what transpired in my mind that day. I have not edited the text from as it was written two years ago.

The wind howls over the desolate landscape. Grey clouds match the grey soil that is swallowed by the horizon. A decaying temple, standing lonely in the middle of it all, provides a refreshing contrast despite its many columns reflecting the greyness of the ground and sky.

Dennis sits on the steps leading up to HIS temple. He gazes at the ground away from his house, with frowns that switch between sadness and contempt. A racket that simultaneously disturbs- and is carried by the howling wind echoes from the interior of his dwelling. It is the Creature doing his work. It always finds new things to smash, statues to transform from beautiful to obscene, clean water to dirty down, often enough done in unmentionable ways.

The Creature sometimes leave the interior of the temple to taunt Dennis by the steps. He whispers and shouts damning things in the ear of the temple's original owner. If Dennis denies the damnation, the Creature persists with his taunts until Dennis accepts.

Then... A pause in the wind. A presence. The Creature, who had just been about to utter another declaration of how abominable Dennis truly is, now shakes in fear and looses its footing at the temple steps. Dennis abandons the covenant his gaze formed with the ground and looks up. The presence in front of him is none other than...Shademp.

Levitating a foot's length above ground, with eyes impenetrable from their powerful white glow, Shademp takes in the scene.

"Well... This is most certainly a mess."

The supernatural entity's reverberating voice makes this casual statement sound like a powerful proclamation by a divine being. A tear starts to form in Dennis' right eye. He hasn't seen Shademp in a very, very long time...

The Creature screeches in fear and with its trembling limbs somehow still manages to crawl back into the temple. Shademp sets his eyes on the Creature.

"One moment, Dennis."

Without even so much as a flash of light or even leaving a vacuum behind, the levitating entity instantly vanishes from his spot. Dennis can hear the Creature's shrilling voice and quick foot steps as it desperately tries to escape from an entity who is gifted with teleportation. In just a few seconds, there is another pause as the presence of both the Creature and Shademp are no longer felt or heard. After a few more seconds, Shademp reappears in front of Dennis.

"Just had to drop IT off some distance away. We have time now."

Shademp ceases his levitation and allows gravity to make his feet touch the ground. He drops the intensity of his glowing white eyes to a less blinding degree and takes a seat next to Dennis.


Long time. Did you miss me?

I think I did...but without admitting it.

Do you remember why you created me?

Because I needed an ideal. An escape. A dream.

Do you remember why you rejected me?

Dreams were crushed. Failures happened. I was hurt. All but the bad seemed to be false. The ideal... The vision...seemed only delusional and hurtful.

I see there's been plenty of hurt and delusions without me here.

...I need you. I can't do this without you.

Just follow my lead. I'll give you boosts along the way.


HAHAHA! Take a look at this mess though! It fills me with glee.


Because it's going to be so much FUN tidying up the place! Just look at all this potential!

Heh... I're right.

Of course I am!

Promise me...not to leave.

I promise.

Thus it was that I came back to life. I made a proper recovery from the worst phase in my life. It began by listening to his advice and doing so for a long enough time that eventually the distinction between him and me melted away. That's an important disclaimer about this compartmentalisation tool: I am not encouraging people to grow "multiple personalities" and to lose their sense of unified, centralized self. It's just a tool for temporary procedures when necessary. A healthy mind knows how to wander between being the One, the Other and the Many.

One issue I was particularly suffering from two years ago was being haunted by the past, with the memory of every tiniest transgression from my whole life cutting through me like the sharpest sword on an hourly basis. In response to this, Shademp instructed me on what I needed to do.

The brain, in order to function, require clear distinctions between concepts. Let's take the concepts of Past & Present.

Recollection/Remembering CAN be compared to time-travel. You may perform this simulated time travel and experience the memory as though you were in a virtual reality. We are entering the realm of simulated reality: A form of imagination. This is why the distinction between past and present is not too different from the distinction between imagination and reality.

The more engrossed you are in the emotions and sensory impressions of a memory, the higher the risk that you lose your sight of the distinction between then and now. Especially in the case of bad memories (or memories that have BECOME bad) your body will recreate negative emotions that put you in harm's way. You are no longer just watching a memory, you are INSIDE the memory.

What would you rather do? Travel back in time and stand right in front of a ferocious dinosaur, or observe the past from the safety of a screen? Unless you are particularly indestructible, you'd choose the screen and enjoy the spectacle from safe distance.

By allowing past and present to blend together, you are allowing that dinosaur to gobble you right up. You are no longer watching from a safe distance.

For this reason I have erected walls both inside and outside my temple. The scents, the heat and air of the past is kept clearly separated from the sensations of the present. I can hear the Ghosts of Christmas Past wailing through the walls but they can't hurt me.

Removing the walls would be like taking a teabag and pouring its particles straight into the cup with boiling water. Sure, the tea might be drinkable but it will be bothersome because of all the hundreds of tiny tea leaf remnants floating about. There is no reason to destroy the tea bag. Just dip it in the boiling water and let the convenient osmosis & diffusion take place.

Moreso even than the past, the future IS a projection equal to imagination. The future never arrives. Only the present does.

In this manner you may construct the necessary aqueducts, sewer systems and power lines of the mind.

Because of the bad place I am now inhibiting psychologically and physically, Shademp is speaking to me once again.

"You die if you try. You die if you don't try. Now tell me. Which way do you want to die?"

I need to trust him again if I am to recover.
My brother's wedding has been attended. It was a great wedding. Here is a speech I held for the bride and groom during the reception, translated into English for this post.

Note: Bride's name is "Sophie" and the groom's name is "Viking". Yes, literally "Viking".

In greek mythology​
it was the titan Atlas​
who had the task​
of alone lifting up the heavens​
Atlas is a symbol of strength and endurance​
but also a symbol of unending suffering​
Academics may not agree with me​
but I believe that we today are seeing a new chapter in this mythology​
A new "philo-Sophie", even​
For today the heavens stand extra high and stable​
Because it is not just one person who is raising the skies​
but in fact, two​
More than muscles it is now the power of love that is holding up the skies​
For love is strength​
Cooperation and caring, is strength​
What once were the burdens of loneliness​
has now become the shared joy​
Atlas has embraced a philosophy​
A philosophy that now, in the elevated heavens, is spelled​
"Sophie & Viking"​

The crowd was moved and impressed. Mission accomplished. :neo:
I've been hesitant to use this thread for blog-esque rants and meanderings about my personal life (since that doesn't necessarily qualify under "Creativity"). However I've come to the conclusion that I need an outlet and this is (perhaps) the best place to do that.

The jist of it: I'm running away from the truth by being perfectly still.

In fact we can connect this peripherally to the topic of creativity. If you're like me, you will always walk the same aisles and always buy the same products in the convenience store for years on end. Change is rare. Whenever you toy with the idea of considering the possibilities, the potential ingredients for some vague thought-cloud of a recipe, you look at the ingredients and all you see is how expensive they are or how dificult they are to implement. Like when I thought to myself recently "You know what, I want to buy shrimps and make shrimp sandwiches". But when I looked at all the shrimp I saw how expensive they were. Buying a pre-made shrimp sandwich was way cheaper.
I also didn't trust myself to make use of the ingredients, since often enough I have bought ingredients for something and then never actually used them for anything or only ever used them once and then leaving them to rot. Like when I buy jam and then it just stands there and then it goes past the expiration date and my anxiety can't allow me to deal with the jar of jam even though I know that jam lasts forever-ish but no this is too much anxiety I just can't deal with the fact that it has gone past the expiration date no matter what everyone tells me CURSE THAT GODDAMN STRAWBERRY JAM!

Admittedly this was an EXTREMELY creative thing for me to do, since I hadn't bought a pre-made sandwich in this store for well over a year. So yes, even the consideration of buying this sandwich was a massive break from routine and I did *something* with it. But it wasn't the ultimate victory that I was dreaming of: To actually buy shrimp, buy different brand of bread than usual, perhaps some mayonnaise and to combine them for a pleasant experience configured by myself.

In modern society many of us live like kings and gods compared to how people lived a hundred years ago. Yet divinity escapes us. The divinity of the shrimp sandwich has escaped me.
And the satanic strawberry jam is laughing at me from the fridge. Laughing way louder than that creature in the fridge shouting ZUUL every now and then.

We are instead hyper-aware of obstacles, to the point where we lose the sense between what's a real obstacle and what is a flawed fabrication. I have plenty of good reasons to be scared into submission and stagnation. What needs to be remembered is that I also have good reasons to submit to the truth of both mundane- and creative possibilities. Only then will I face the many truths I am denying and/or running away from. Only then will I make the shrimp sandwich.
You're so right, Shad.
Your post made me think about pickled lemons. I have a recipe from pickled lemons from the Claudia Roden middle eastern cookbook that I've been wanting to make for a while now. I've bought lemons and watched them dry out or go mouldy while I procrastinated. Making pickled lemons is neither difficult nor time consuming. Once upon a time, if I wanted pickled lemons, my only option would have been to make them myself. Now, I can go to the store and buy them instead. Buy them, or make them? Too many options. The fact that I have access to something as outre as pickled lemons more or less 24/7 is one small example of how we live like kings nowadays, and yet I'm more often made unhappy by my failure to get on and pickle the damn lemons than I'm made happy by contemplating the wondrous Aladdin's cave of food that is my local delicatessen. I tend to take the latter for granted.
Life can feel like watching a horror movie where you watch a character go into the obvious place of danger and you just sit there shouting "DON'T GO IN THERE! DON'T BE STUPID! AWWW LOOK THEY DID A STUPID!"

Alternatively, it can feel like you are watching Stu making chocolate pudding at four in the morning, only to realize that you are Stu.

There is a truth to that, isn't there? You are both actor and audience. You are simultaneously Stu and his wife. You are both inside and outside the box. You are BOTH your left- and right brain hemispheres.

Of course there's nothing to stop you from forgetting this dualism or some fashion of "multism" if you don't want to limit your conceptualization. Indeed, it's tantalizing to fully embrace the actor and become so fully submerged in the drama and passion that you forget there is even a fourth wall that is being maintained between you and audience. Equally, you may want to be the audience to such an extent that you will NEVER suffer the pains of the actor; You might agree to study the game playing out in front of you but you will never want to actually PLAY IT.

Well then. I doubt anyone reading this desires to be only one extreme at the complete expense of the other. Let us wander both worlds and see how it plays out. Play the game both as a gamer and a game critic. If your goals are grand, you may even take on the role as a game designer, whose job it is to reshape the very games that you are playing and reviewing/analyzing.

Thusly, I shall listen to the critic who has seen me making the analogous four-in-the-morning-chocolate-pudding for half a year now. To address this gluttonous pathology I now begin with this first-step promise: No sweets on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

I am able to make this promise to myself now because I have taken the time to write this post. By the power of the written digital word I am able to break the fourth wall of my life. I am breaking into the YouTube video of my life and throwing the chocolate pudding in the bin and going back to sleep since, after all, it is four in the morning.
"You're familiar with the phrase 'Man's reach exceeds his grasp'. It's a lie. Man's grasp exceeds his nerve." -Nikola Tesla, The Prestige (2006)​

Before I started my current job as an IT-consultant (officially employed via a staffing agency, not the workplace itself) I was deeply terrified. But I faced the challenges, overwhelming though they were at times, and I "won". Over half a year later, close to the end of my employment, I am terrified that I may be offered a brief "project employment" at the same place to extend my tenure. My boss tells me I'll get word next week if I can be offered this spot. The changes and risks involved with this possibility has me frightened.

Logically I should accept the offer if it comes. But I'm afraid of failure and crippling fatigue. The former may cause the latter or vice versa.

What if I think further ahead? Even if I decline I will still have to face the exact same fear later on when searching for employment. I will be just as terrified of failure and self-destruction. So really it becomes a question of "Do I face the challenge sooner, as it's presented to me on a silver platter, or do I postpone it and hope that a rain dance will appease the gods of random opportunity-giving?"

The fear of failing doesn't end. The fear of breaking apart doesn't end. I say this as I'm coming down from shocks to my nervous system, having faced tough challenges the entire week (and there's still tomorrow left). I know all too well my own fragility.

May the fates have mercy on me.
I'm not going to bore you with my own experiences, hijacking the thread. But what I do know is that we tend to be more adaptable than we think, us humans. So trust yourself a bit more!

Long story short, I took some job purely for the money (I mean, yes, there's good learning involved but we all know why I took it) and I was concerned I wouldn't do a good job. 5 days to go, and I'd say I'm doing a damn good job. Not perfect, of course. But good.

Days are passing by so quickly. Only two weeks left at my job. Only 136 days until the start of year 2020. Only 18015 days left until my 80th birthday.

It is said under one interpretation of physics that from the point-of-view of a photon travelling through a perfect vacuum its time travelled is instantaneous. The photon may have travelled countless light years or a few nanometres, but in both cases zero time passes from the photon's perspective. Time only manifests at the moment of destruction and creation as it interacts with matter. Instantaneous eternity. Infinitesimal time periods of life and death. In the same way, we are each of us dead for the eternity that comes before and after us, only existing within the comparably infinitesimal timespan inbetween the two eternities.

Fortunately, we are creatures of both light and matter. We can enjoy the passage of time the way that bodies with mass do. So let us for a moment slow down personal time to our benefit. One way of doing this is to remember a time when everything you sensed and thought felt new. Reminisce with the power of a neural microscope.

Consider the sensation of your fingers on your keyboard. Or if on mobile, how strange it was when touch-pads became a thing and you learned how to scroll for content. Think of the smell of fresh rain on green grass and how intense it could be when the world was young and so were you. Now in this moment when I'm drinking tea, I appreciate the transition from when the taste was too bitter and then how in my teenage years I learned to drink it. I'm grasping the porcelain of the mug and enjoying the fact that it's not the plastic- or tupperware-esque mugs from my years as a toddler. Porcelain just feels so much more refined and pure, for hands, eyes and tongues. Ponder the fabrics on your skin and how centuries of technological advancements is able to bring this high-quality cloth to you now.

I am not merely remembering in this moment. I am remembering that I have the ability to remember. I am feeling the feeling. By being both the body and its reflection in the mind's mirror, time can slow down and you will be both within and without.

Remember the fact that the very letters you are reading now were at one time new to you. Appreciate the strokes of each letter, standardized and digitized though they are on this substrate.

Turn your head where it usually does not turn. Take a look at furniture you'd almost forgotten you had. It may not feel productive. But for now we're just slowing down, avoiding the computer-esque caches and shortcuts of the mind. Re-compile your code, whatever programming language your mind may consist of.

"Hello world. Nice to see you again."


Marty McFlyin’
Very profound, Shads. I like it when people look below the surface. I like to clear my brain's cache. Apt analogy. Though I think one of the downfalls I've experienced from re-calibrating is that not only do you become sensitized to neutral and positive stimuli and recapture a sense of childlike wonder (as well as a greater capacity for creativity and change), you're also resensitizing toward negative stimuli. As children, we build up caches because it's much easier to exist that way than to constantly reprocess everything, especially if the stimuli is negative. I wonder if it's possible to find a balance. I think modern life is probably too complicated/sensory dense for us humans to handle, but I have never lived a paleolithic lifestyle, so I have nothing to compare it to. But the interest in having such an experience is strong for me.

Damn, it really is crazy how that parallels my own situation. It's actually on the fringes of the IT field too. I don't think my original job is at stake, but if I mess up too much then it could damage my reputation. Similar to you, I felt it would be dumb to reject the opportunity to make more money, become more valuable, and try something a little different, even though there was some risk.

Sometimes you did something quite right in your life and you didn't even know it.

I used to think that blogging, for me, was nothing but a self-indulgent remnant of cringe-worthy livejournal days gone by. What it actually is though is catharsis, assessment, restructuring and debugging. Creating order from chaos.
Truly, chaos may be the original birthplace of all life but it is also the cause of all death. Order is what sustains life. And so the tapestry is woven as chaos and order intermingle: Squiggly lines becoming straight lines and straight lines becoming squiggly lines.

Some people get this refreshing experience by taking walks, practicing a craft, venting with a loved one, doing yoga or what-have-you. Find what works for you. Indeed, an essential part of my emotional well-being are the times when I get to hang out with my bestie Dipsiel and we open up about matters that weigh on our minds.

Years ago, an online friend gave me the title "Shademp the Dreamer". It was simultaneously an expression of admiration and a deep cautioning. Admiration because my friend perceived I had an inspiring effect on others but also a cautioning because with my head in the clouds I can lose touch with what's realistic. Truly, my tendency to dream unrealistically has led to some of the biggest failures in my life. Yet I also learned that if I stop dreaming altogether, I will decay. A boat on a sea without a horizon reveals that the boat isn't on the sea to begin with.

My current necessarily-too-large-dream is to have the ability to reverse engineer games. First and foremost acquiring more and more skills so I can unpack Dirge of Cerberus.

Two important advancements towards this goal are...
- Becoming an advanced-level user of C++.
- Learning how to apply knowledge of computer science and assembly code when digging for data.

Divisible into countless sub-goals, I know that if I truly dig back into C++ I could in a decent amount of time transition from beginner-level to intermediary, as far as understanding and familiarity with the standard tools go. I've already proven as well that I can read assembly code enough to figure out fairly complex encryption algorithms and then write these solutions into simple C++ console applications for convenient decryption calculations.

...Hmm, when I summarize my progress it doesn't actually sound half-bad. :wacky: Almost every day I look down on myself for how long it took me to get to this point and how long my periods of inactivity can be.

"If only I was more disciplined"
"If only I wasn't so weak"
"If only I wasn't so stupid"

Yes indeed, what if it was easy. :monster:

Emotional fruit flies aside, what is a concrete, realistic sub-goal I can set?

I can decide that this week I'm going to re-read (for the umpteenth time, but still) the tutorial page on pointers and I'll refresh my memory by writing pointers in code. It's frustrating but that's where I'm at: Having to re-read stuff as I venture back into C++. It takes a few hours of focused work for both my theory- and muscle memory to return when it comes to coding.

I know thankfully what my bigger sub-goal is: To master everything on this page so that I can confidently use stream pointers and handle binary streams for any given file. I've already used the most basic tool presented here (having C++ read text from a text file) but ultimately I need to deal in binary streams and be able to use pointers with memory blocks.

Ergo, my first goal before this week's end is to re-read the page about pointers. After that I may or may not skip straight to the lesson on handling binary streams. Depends on how many advanced tools are required for it.
Almost every time there are FFVIIR news nowadays, I groan with displeasure.

Not because I dislike the content but because I know then I'll be busy with...

- Making a folder for the content, usually named according to the date of the news.​
- Saving the content to my computer in said folder. This takes extra time if videos and audio clips are involved.​
- Saving the content to the Internet Archive using the "Internet Archive - Wayback Machine" browser plugin.​

In other words, in my daily life [FFVIIR news = WORK] moreso than it is about enjoyment.
(Yes I did enjoy the new FFVIIR trailers back in June but I can only live off of that high for so long)

Twitter is a huge source of news and content. Far as I can tell, the Internet Archive robots are bad at archiving popular tweets. Meaning that when I save a tweet using the Wayback Machine browser plugin, that is likely to be the only save that exists on a common server.

Ergo, Twitter is a dangerous trap if you're the type who feels that it's your responsibility to save certain content, whatever the franchise or topic may be. My work with archiving the DCFFVII Multiplayer and looking up information about old mobile games have taught me and conditioned me how fleeting information can be, even in an age where it can feel like EVERYTHING is recorded and traceable. Spoiler alert: Not everything is recorded and traceable.

Information and people disappear. I can't stress enough how this is both a good and a bad thing (and often neither). My inability to find internet user "Shinra Employee #080729", a person who may hold lost Dirge of Cerberus media, is in a way reassuring. It means you *CAN* disappear from the internet and your privacy can be preserved. Admittedly, I WAS presented with illegal/unethical measures to continue my search but I refuse to sell my soul in that fashion. If I lose my integrity searching for a portion of Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode then that game data will be tainted and effectively worthless to me.

Going back to FFVIIR, what do I think about when I ponder the release of this game? As you can already guess, I don't think about things like the gameplay or the cutscenes. I sweat existentially thinking about the many patches- and version updates that will be applied to this game, not to mention all the regional variants, and how so much of this data is going to be lost. I ponder how many terabytes of storage would be required if I were to make backups of each and every version of FFVIIR and indeed if it's even possible to make backups in the first place. When I watch gameplay of all the banter that goes on between our main characters as they wander the halls and corridors, I think about how much work it will be once the game is hacked to extract all this text and properly document it. The gargantuan Final Fantasy XV archive by The Twilight Mexican is a rare example of somebody putting together a resource of such a content-heavy game. Even with hacking tools the work load on Tres would only have been slightly alleviated considering just how much one needs to document the context of each dialogue piece.

I recognize that life is a matter of living on multiple scales of space and time. We KNOW that sooner or later, all information will be lost and nobody will live to tell our tales. The time until that point may be thousands, millions, or googols of years into the future but it WILL inevitably happen. Every act of preservation we perform is to slow down the inevitable. This WOULD be futile, if not for the fact that the conceptual time frame in which you live is arbitrary. There's nothing to stop you from living within the time frames of one person's lifetime, a decade, a year, a month, a day, a second etc. Each passage of time is valid. Every responsibility and every matter of seeming importance is valid within their own paradigm. This perspective is the reason that my favorite word of the year is the word "arbitrary". The word "arbitrary" so perfectly sums up the countless possible configurations of reality and their validity.

To nurture an acceptance regarding the impermanence of all things is healthy. Equally, it is healthy to know when to HOLD ON to something. Paraphrasing the lessons of Alan Watts, to be completely let go is to be a Stone Buddha. Throw a stone on this statue and it won't say anything. Throw a stone on a person who has attained Nirvana and they will say "ouch".

My displeasure at FFVIIR news has reached such a point that when I'm done saving all the Twitter posts, news articles, videos etc I don't have the energy or will left to actually enjoy the content. The FFVIIR demo footage from Gamescom has been waiting for my eyes to observe but so far I haven't mustered the will. The same applies to other content from Gamescom.

Ergo, the question is put forth: Should I just STOP saving all the content I see? Should I allow myself to enjoy these videos and articles in a fleeting fashion, not giving a hoot as to whether the information will be lost within my lifetime?

Wow that would feel good. Imagine if I enjoyed FFVIIR like I enjoyed games in my youth? Back before all this existential dread over preservation of information and the overwhelming challenges of game hacking became a thing. What if I no longer cared about twitter posts from the official FFVIIR accounts or twitter posts by the voice actors? It would be such a relief. But it requires that I dial back on my sense of responsibility. Without me to obsessively save web pages manually with the Internet Archive plugin, I know that so many sources and references will be lost.

Keep in mind that while my main focus in this post is FFVIIR, my plight applies to many other games and some franchises where the risk of information being lost is even greater due to their relative obscurity.

By necessity this post is more of the "stream-of-consciousness" type since I'm still not ready to make any significant changes to my internet- and computing habits. I can throw out high concepts like "preservation of information", but on the practical end this does just boil down to my habits with PC- and internet use.
Let's take a moment to breathe and consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you can find your centre.

First things first: Can you remove some clutter that is surrounding you? It can be some literal physical junk like old post-it notes. Or perhaps there are needlessly many tabs in your web browser that you may as well close.

If our minds are cluttered and spread thin, it becomes a chaotic topography that's impossible to navigate. You are less likely to find yourself in that maze.

Just now I threw away some post-it notes (I tend to accumulate these, especially at my desk) and some miscellaneous junk.

Right now my web browser has 14 tabs open. Five of these are FFVIIR tabs. Going down from yesterday's ranting about my complicated relationship with FFVIIR, I'm going ahead and closing these tabs. I know I'm not getting to them and I genuinely don't want to at this point. I wish to focus on my own development and not on my consumption of the popular thing. One tab is a short video about the debug features in Code Blocks, so I'll just run that at twice the playing speed and be done with it. *five minutes later* Beautiful. After some extra work I am now down to four tabs, this TLS tab included.

Well done. You've cleaned your immediate surroundings. Even if you've only done a little bit, it means you're in a more collected mindset. Consider now what needs to be cleaned from your internal environment. Is there something bothering you to a needless degree?

In my case, it's my disappointment from having damaged my PlayStation 2 HDD and failing to connect it to my computer. Because events did not transpire as I had hoped, I am deeply disappointed and I feel the sting of failure. The whole debacle has thrown me off. Let's see if I can reframe this and enter a more constructive mindset.

Keywords: Initiative and bravery.

Many are the instances when I'm frustrated with my lack of initiative and lack of bravery. Even the simple act of googling for a solution or a product can feel like an overwhelming, frightening quest. End result: Much of what I want to do or buy often gets postponed for weeks, months or even years.

Despite the facts of my personality I've faced this fear of the unknown, my fear of failure and disappointment, time and time again on my journey with PlayStation 2 homebrew. Just because I had a setback doesn't mean my initiative and bravery was foolish from all possible angles. This is uncharted territory to the point where I'm never even sure what is uncharted or not. I found the swamp lands in the jungle and that's part of the process. It's only wise now to see if somebody can carry me across the swamp. Who knows, maybe I'll find a shoopuf ride?

The positive side here is that I took initiative. Paralysis did not persist and neither will this pain that I'm experiencing right now. Pain is inevitable. Breathe through it. Take your time.

I'm pretty sure the shoopuf is patient enough for you.

The nightmare is only beginning

Spectre, spectre, spectre
How you impale me with your scepter

Straps of guilt you suspend me with
And deserving it is, after all I am the culprit

By the gods please do not stop my punishment
For what else could be my humanity's testament
Than my willingness to lament

Redemption would be the biggest injustice
Against me, may Heaven never declare armistice

Let the bridge to your heavenly castle be an asymptote
That I may fall and drown in your stronghold's moat

Years go by, my sins accumulate
The shadow I cast, it is all too great

Shadow, shadow, on the wall
Be my mirror in this nightmare's hall

Spectre, spectre, spectre
How you impale me with your scepter

The black wind is howling.

Strong, refreshing gusts have been blowing throughout town today. It continues even now as the autumn darkness lays thick, blackness impenetrable. Truly, the black wind is howling. Its undulations sound the lullaby of an autumn night's tranquility.

For a while I lose myself in this distilled moment of seasons. I become transported to countless evenings like this one and ever so briefly I feel ageless. Trying to peer even further back in time, I picture how this very same scent in the air might have been felt a hundred years ago, same as it would a thousand- or ten thousand years ago.

I veer to the future. How many more such beautiful nights remain, for me and for others, before the end of time? Enough to make you feel like you are shaking hands with the most distant of ancestors and descendants, with the tissue that connects your palms being the scent of an autumn night's howling black wind.

Spare me from the overwhelming light and chaos of day and let me bask in this night. Delicious sensory deprivation as my background, the stars in my mind are allowed to twinkle. So many stars, I find it impossible to feel a longing even as the shroud of night makes me feel like I'm the only person on the planet.

Thank you, dark shroud whose harp strings are the rustling leaves and bushes. Without form, your form is perfect.

Thank you for this moment in infinity.

Oh tenuous sanity
Foreteller of calamity

Making prophets superfluous
"The end is known", says Confucius

Little elves of unfortune telling won't stop
For they go to work in the mind's sweat shop

Neurons firing crimson-red through their synapses
Coding exquisitely for how everything collapses

A kaleidoscope of fireworks, but what's missing
Is the color of healing

It's got to be somewhere here, in the right canister
Wrong again, all that awaits is a fate most sinister

You were mistaken to hope, of this make a note
Re-sign yourself to mope, you can stop trying to float

Sanity was never an option
Indeed, no matter the concoction
Darkness had already chosen you for adoption

Look to this day, for it is life
Come what may, even if with strife

When tired, take a rest
Undo what is wired, 'tis for the best

Breathe in, breathe out
Love within, love without

Eat and drink, my friend
I should think, it will help you mend

Good times and cheer, above hoarded gold
For this and every year, optimism let us behold

Carry this message, for the one and the many
Love and life we encourage, on this our frightful journey

Blessings to you all


Pro Adventurer
divine Wandering flame, on an Island living
the faces are the same, but i keep on grinning

it's the light still shining, that is what frightens us
sit back and ask yourself, can i not be fabulous?

but keep the common touch, walking amongst the kings
while talking with the crowds, keep your integrity

when it's all been achieved, with the trophies i've won
i will only count one
i'm using my heart for
what my heart was made for
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