Here's a teaser of something me and Googleshng have been working on: Moon Serpent, a browser-based, retro-styled JRPG in the spirit of Dragon Quest or Phantasy Star. Googleshng is doing the graphics and game design, sticking faithfully to the aesthetics of the year 1987, while I'm doing the programming. I'm writing the game engine as generically as possible, to be a reusable asset for future RPG projects part of the source code is available on my GitHub page. We started working on this back in April and hope to release it next month (January 2014).
The Future of Programming talk by Bret Victor. If you're at all interested in programming, you need to watch this talk. It's an amazing piece of performance art, funny and sad: he's role-playing a nerd from 1973, revealing forgotten facts with his projector transparencies, in order to demonstrate how far the computer industry hasn't come in that time. It is an epic troll with a serious purpose - forcing programmers to confront how much potential we've wasted in the last 40 years.
Man, I love this guy. Thanks to Stephen for the link.
I've had a lot of time on the Caltrain since taking a job at this
genetics lab up in South San Francisco. It's not all bad: I have time
to read more books or to hack on game programming projects
undisturbed. I also decided to try using my phone to play games. I
heard this one called Candy Crush was pretty good, so I played
it. It's alright, but it feels like more restrictive version of a game
I played 20 years ago. (Also, for a game about candy, the candy pieces
sure look unappealing. They're all like those hard candies that spawn at the
bottom of old ladies' purses.)
It claims to be free, with real money needed only to purchase
optional benefits: extra turns or bonus items. But there are some levels that seem
designed to be unbeatable without those bonuses. E.g. level 34, the
level that made me quit Candy Crush, gives you an unreasonably stingy
number of moves to complete the objective. There's no real strategy
for doing it in fewer moves: You either get out your wallet and buy enough turns to beat it or
you keep trying until you luck into a massive combo chain.
They wouldn't design a level like this unless it was intended to
frustrate you into opening your wallet. The monetization strategy is negatively influencing the
Look, I understand Candy Crush developers gotta feed their families. I
don't mind paying for a game one bit. But if I'm going to pay real
money, I like to know what I'm getting and how much it will cost.
If they told me up-front "Candy
Crush is $10" or better yet "The first X levels are a free demo, pay
$10 to unlock the full game" then I might buy it, I might not, but I
wouldn't feel like they were trying to rip me off. But the cost of
completing Candy Crush is carefully obfuscated. You don't know
exactly how many turns you'll have to buy to clear one of the unfair levels, or how
many unfair levels you have to pay your way past before you get back
to fun levels.
It seems designed to exploit the sunk-cost fallacy, where people think
"I've already got this far, I just need to pay a little more or
everything I've paid so far to beat this level will be wasted."
There are also artifical roadblocks where you must wait some arbitrary
amount of real time before attempting the next level. You can buy your
way past the roadblock, or you can "ask your friends for help" which
means giving Candy Crush permission to spam your social network.
It doesn't have to be this way. You can make a game supported by
in-app purchases without compromising the game design, hiding the true
cost, or exploiting people's psychological flaws.
On my thanksgiving trip to Chicago, my brother-in-law introduced me to
a game called League of Legends, which is kind of like Warcraft 3 if
each player controlled just one hero and the base ran
automatically. (Apparently this is a whole genre of games now? I guess
it's a logical step -- Warcraft 3 was cool but felt like it was asking me to juggle
and tapdance at the same time).
Anyway, the game is free to download. Each player controls a single
champion chosen from an absurdly large pool. Ten of those champions
are free to play; the free selection rotates weekly. You only need to
pay real money if you want to permanently unlock a champion of your
choice. Actually it's even more generous than that: after a few games
with the free roster you earn enough in-game points to unlock a couple
of champions. If you're happy just playing one champion, you can play
them forever without paying a cent. The company makes their money from
people who want more variety, and also by selling alternate outfits
for champions. (Let's face it, playing dress-up with
your toon is a major motivation; it's like half of the reason
people stick to the grind in MMORPGs.)
An odd little fact is that not all champions cost the same
amount. This immediately raised my suspicion, because if richer
players can afford better champions, then the game wouldn't be
fair. (That would be monetization compromising game design again; the
perception that you can buy your way to victory was something that
collectible card games and minis games have always struggled with.)
But so far my internet searching hasn't shown me a lot of people
screaming about unfairness or calling the costlier champions
overpowered. If there was a pattern of imbalance there I'm sure the playerbase
would be loud about it. But if all the champions are balanced, why do
some cost more? I've heard some say that designers make champions that
are easier to learn cheaper in order to steer new players in the right
direction. Another factor seems to be age - newly released champions
are expensive, and get discounted as they age. It could simply be market segmentation: I'm sure
somebody's willing to pay a premium for a less common character, just
to feel cooler than the free users.
Lots of people have pointed out the danger of free-to-play games
exploiting players with psychological tricks and UI "dark
patterns". Zynga seems especially sketchy, with their "whale fishing"
and the way Farmville is designed to create social obligations to keep
When I was a kid, buying a game meant buying a box from a shelf at Toys-R-Us (or more
likely, renting it for a weekend, sans instructions, from the video
store) which seems hopelessly outdated now. There's not just one business model replacing it, but a
bewildering variety of financial experiments. Greater variety of
business models means greater variety of genres that can be
commercially viable. Right now is an exciting time for video games!
0:45 Lore, Lore, LORE!
2:35 A digression about tanks
4:20 the lineage of Aragorn
5:35 "Love Letter", the card game
7:00 Warmachine fluff
7:50 Why Warhammer 40k fluff is superior to Warmachine fluff
11:30 Why do you need a reason to fight?
12:45 Let me tell you about my Circle Orboros army
15:40 Disconnect between lore and gameplay
18:50 Lore as social lubricant and buy-in
19:20 The solitary aspect of gaming
21:00 King of Siam
22:00 Jono, keep your hands on the steering wheel!
23:15 Time spent role-playing vs. time spent poring over setting books and daydreaming about it
25:10 Sushu doesn't give a fuck about lore! Jono half-heartedly defends it
26:30 Let me tell you what RPGs were like in the 90s
27:20 Jono geeks out about Planescape, Sushu can't imagine sitting down to read about setting
29:40 Sushu hates those parts in Lord of the Rings
31:50 Romance of the Three Kingdoms
34:20 Competing supplement treadmills
35:20 Why do people like crappy Star Wars novels and the Wheel of Time
37:30 Geek bonding rituals
41:55 The influence of medieval history
43:15 The influence of Lord of the Rings and "subcreation"
VICTOR VON DOOM COMMANDS YOU TO HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
(Did a little more work on the lower half of the mask.)
I was working off of the original Jack Kirby drawings, which remain some of my favorite comics ever. I discovered that Kirby basically never draws Doom's mask the same way twice! He totally cheats and changes the shape of the mask in subtle ways to convey Doom's emotions. Metal masks do not work that way.
I heard a parable about three stonecutters. Asked what they were doing, the first says "I'm making a living." The second says "I'm trying to become the best stonecutter in the entire country!". The third says "I'm building a cathedral."
When this story is cited for business/motivational purposes, the moral is usually that you should be like Cathedral Dude. Best Stonecutter dude is supposed to be a warning about getting too caught up in process and losing sight of the goal. And the one who's making a living? I guess we're supposed to ignore him.
But maybe the first stonecutter is really the wisest. He's decided feeding his family is more important than the church's megalomaniacal architecture project. He's not going to work himself to death for somebody else's idea that he won't even live to see completed. He sells his labor at the best price he can and then goes home to the people he cares about. The cathedral still gets built whether he's a true believer or not.
Besides, how many software projects are comparable to cathedrals, anyway? Most are more like ramshackle shopping malls. (or, if you really want to get cynical, prisons.)
In these projects, people who think they're building cathedrals might be better described as "having drunk the kool-aid".
At my new job, the free coffee is plentiful and socially reinforced. I was drinking 1 - 2 cups a day. I realized I was in a downward spiral of not being able to fall asleep at a reasonable hour due to overcaffeination, then being super groggy the next day and requiring more coffee to function. I don't know but that sounds like addiction to me.
I was never much of a coffee drinker until about 2010, when Mozilla moved to its new office and I had access to unlimited free high-quality coffee about five meters from my desk.
It may be a coincedince, but that was about when things started going south in terms of my mental health. During the darkest part of my depression I was going to Philz Coffee in Palo Alto every day and drinking way more of their cryptically-named blends than I truly wanted to drink, just as the price of wi-fi and table space.
Another explanation is that being at Philz and depression were both caused by the same factor (unemployment), so this correlation is far from implying causation. But together with the way my body feels after a 2nd cup in one day (anxious and jittery), I think there's a decent chance that coffee does bad things to my brain chemistry. Enough chance to convince me to go cold-turkey. And so far, I haven't had a serious depression relapse since I quit. I sleep a lot better and I'm not at all tired in the mornings.
My aunt Flory passed away a few weeks ago. She was over 90 so it was not unexpected, but still sad. I'm sorry to say, I never knew her very well; she was kind of distant when I was growing up.
When I heard the news, I immediately bought plane tickets to Connecticut. Only I found out that Flory specifically requested in her will that we not have any funeral for her.
You should have seen my coworkers' faces when I showed up at work and they asked "Weren't you going to a funeral today?" and I told them the funeral was... canceled?
It was too late to cancel the tickets, but I was able to change the date. My (alive) aunt Robin suggested visiting around the 14th, when she would be having her first art show, at the Hygenic Gallery in New London.
This trip was great! Despite its origin as a last-minute substitute flight, it was the best time I've had with my Connecticut family in years.
Possibly because expectations were so low. No holidays, nobody had huge plans, nobody had huge plans that conflicted with other peoples' huge plans, etc. We all just came together around Robin's art show and had a relaxed good time.
This is the most of my family that's all been together in one place since my wedding in 2009!
Robin's art show went really well for her. Lots of people, lots of interest, good energy. I sat in the corner and played accordion for a couple hours. Some random people told me how well the music went with the art (which is funny since I had never seen the paintings before and was just playing what I know). Robin sold two paintings! I'm really happy for her.
Like most of rural America, New London county is searching for something economically viable to do with itself, not very successfully. Whoever named it "new LONDON" clearly had big plans for this place, but business hasn't been booming since whaling was the major industry.
I have very strong memories of this part of Connecticut, but they're all back-seat memories. As in, I remember seeing the landmarks from the backseat, which it turns out is not the same as knowing how to drive somewhere. As an adult with a rental car I'd try to navigate by salmon instincts an dget lost, driving down windy, hilly forest roads in the streetlight-free darkness, trying to find a radio station that comes in. Then I'd emerge somewhere familiar and say "Ohhhh, that's how that connects".
So little has changed since I was a kid. There's barely any development. (This mural is new.)
It's weird what I remember. The numbers of exits to take to get to certain relatives' houses. The one four-way traffic light in the town of Niantic seemed. Game stores and comic stores and places where there used to be video rental stores that rented video games. Those are all gone now, but when I drive past where one used to be, the ghost of it tugs at my memory. This is the psychic geography of Connecticut, overlaid on the real geography.
The day of Robin's art show, there was a corny local maritime festival happening in New London. (I say "corny local festival" with great affection; they were one of my favorite things about rural Japan.) Books by local authors, coupons to sample twelve kinds of clam chowder, and these guys:
Of course, when you see a life-size paper-mache man with two faces in British colonial garb being wheelbarrowed down the street, you have to stop and ask what the story is.
"He's Benedict Arnold!" they told me. "We hate him because he burned down New London!"
They burn him in effigy every year. It's a tradition inspired by Guy Fawkes night. Of course Americans don't care about Guy Fawkes, so who do we hate instead? Of course.
The best part is -- see how his left leg is detached? It's in that little leg-sized coffin down there.
That's because, apparently, when Benedict Arnold was fighting on our side, before turning traitor, he was wounded in the left leg. So somebody decided that his left leg should be buried with full military honors, while the rest of him is burned at the stake. They have a little leg-coffin-parade after the burning every year.
How did I live so close to this for like 15 years and never know about it?
"Nature reclaiming abandoned infrastructure" was the unexpected theme of this trip.
The land around here is mostly forest. Not old-growth forest -- it used to be farmland, but it was abandoned when agriculture moved south and west centuries ago, and nature reclaimed it. There are rough stone walls criss-crossing the woods, their builders and purposes long forgotten.
Wherever it's not constantly trimmed, the forest encroaches on backyards, trying to reclaim them like it reclaimed the farmland.
One of my aunt's cats dragged a garter snake into her house. Alive and seemingly unharmed, it took up residence under the sofa. A friend had to fish it out with a net. Nature wants to reclaim the insides of houses as well.
This is the Mystic River drawbridge. It opens every hour for sailboats to pass through. The cars just have to stop and wait for 20 minutes until it closes again.
As a kid, I thought this was totally normal.
One summer I did Project Oceanography (the same awkward teenage summer I read the Dragonlance trilogy, I recall) and there was an amazing two faces/ one candlestick feeling of figure-ground reversal to seeing the familiar coastline from the opposite side. I strongly suspect that the view from the ocean is the truer view, since all the towns were built in a time when Long Island Sound and not I-95 was the main highway.
Someday I want to get a sailboat, and sail around Long Island Sound, and see the land from the ocean side again.
Ender's Island is a tiny little island, reachable from Mystic by bridge, with a Catholic monastery on it called St. Edmund's Retreat.
The grounds are open to the public, but I still felt like I was trespassing somehow. I felt like breathing too loud would disturb the amazing serenty of the place.
The Stations of the Cross.
How did I live near this place for so long and never know about it?
I was supposed to fly back from Providence to San Jose on Tuesday. But the plane got a flat tire, and we had to wait on board for an hour while they fixed it.
...And then they told us that the plane had gotten a second flat tire while they were fixing the first one, so they made everybody get off.
...And then they told us that the aiport was all out of spare tires, and one had to be flown in from Philadelpha.
...And then they told us that the plane carrying the tire from Philadelphia had also got a flat tire. At this point the flight was officially canceled and they started putting people on alternate flights.
While waiting around Providence airport, I bought a salad from one of the kiosks, and the kiosk-keeper, a tiny Hispanic woman, saw my accordion and asked if I could play "La Bamba". Well, I can, so I did, and she sang the words, and her friend took pictures of it. It was really fun.
Carrying an accordion around airports invites serendipitous encounters with strangers. It's so unexpected that people let their guard down a little, and there's a chance for actual human-to-human contact instead of the usual social script-following.
Southwest put me on a flight the next morning. I thought it was going to San Jose by way of Tampa. But when I got to Tampa I discovered that the Southwest desk clerk had typed one letter wrong when making my reservation. instead of "SJC" it said "SJU". Guess where SJU is?
Beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico! That would be a lovely trip but it's not exactly a substitute for San Jose, CA. Luckily I discovered the mistake before getting on the plane to San Juan, and just had to wait around Tampa while they found me a flight to San Jose. I finally got home almost 24 hours later than planned.
I leave you with this view of the Connecticut River from the airplane. A duplicate river has formed in the air over it, a river of fog.
I'm genuinely not sure what this website is for anymore. (That's one reason I've been blogging less.)
I started it almost ten years ago, to tell friends about my adventures, and to stake out a little piece of the internet as my own (and as a project to practice Perl, of all things).
But I'm emphatically not the same person I was ten years ago, and the internet is not the same thing it was ten years ago either.
In fact I don't really know who I am. As part of my narrative reconstruction, the purpose of this site, like everything else I do, is up for grabs.
One of my friends told me that he thinks of my website as "the blog" because it's the only site he reads with no fixed topic. I do range all over the place, don't I?
If I was trying to grow an audience, I would stick to one topic or a group of closely related topics. Gaming XOR politics XOR comics XOR travel photos.
But I'm not trying to get more readers. I had this weird conversation with Aza one time (I'm paraphrasing his side):
Aza: You should buy the domain "evilbrainjono.com" and point it at your site too.
Me: But it's not a commercial operation, so that's the wrong TLD.
Aza: Who cares? It'll help more people find your site.
Me: Who says I want more people to find my site?
Then he looked at me like I had just told him the average human has six legs.
For pepole following the Silicon valley script, of course, all internet activity is competition over the scarce resource of attention. It makes sense if eyeballs on your website is how you make money, from selling products or ad space.
But for me there's no advantage, and many drawbacks, to gaining more readers. The one time a post of mine "went viral" it was "Everybody Hates Firefox Updates", and that was a terrible experience I never want to repeat. Something I had intented only for a few regular blog readers got out of my control. Anonymous trolls twisted my words around to justify things I don't agree with at all. It hurt people I care about. It might have permanently destroyed some relationships. Meanwhile my website kept going down under the traffic and my server hosting costs went through the roof. Because what I write here is usually only read by a few people, I foolishly thought that pattern would continue with anything I write here.
When I write a rant, it's because I'm trying to work through something mentally. Writing is a way of making myself think deeply about a topic, and publishing it to the web is a way of getting some closure so my brain can move on to other thoughts.
Having a lot of strangers read my rant does not help with any of that stuff. It's an active hindrance. If I know a lot of people are going to read something by me, then I have to start worrying about whether my words are going to be used to hurt somebody. In the extreme case, I have to start talking like a politician. That's the exact opposite of doing honest exploratory writing on a topic.
If too much audience defeats my very reason for writing, then I really shouldn't be posting rants on the public Web, especially not under my real name. I should be doing it under a pseudonym, and friends-locked.
Why did I ever use my real name to begin with? I think ten years ago I must have had some weird idea that it was more honorable to use my real name, to show I had nothing to hide, or something. That seems really naiive, now. Also, it's a privilege not everybody has. I've heard way too many stories about women and non-white people being the target of horrible internet harassment just for daring to be themselves and put an opinion online. Pseudonyms aren't about having something to hide; they're about defending yourself from a fucked-up, hostile culture. Which is why I strongly disagree with real-names-only policies, like the one at Google Plus.
This brings me to my other point, which is that the Internet is a much scarier place than it used to be (or maybe I'm just more aware of the dangers.)
It's just not the same now that we know that security and privacy on the internet are illusions -- everything's been subverted and compromised and wiretapped by a gang of criminals. Blogging under a pseudonym won't protect you from an enemy that can commandeer ISPs and plant backdoors in encryption algorithms and force your email provider to betray you.
PJ's final post, about how the chilling effects of the NSA's dragnet are forcing her to shut down, is one of the saddest things I've read lately; it's also the sign of the times:
I'm really sorry that it's so. I loved doing Groklaw, and I believe we really made a significant contribution. But even that turns out to be less than we thought, or less than I hoped for, anyway. My hope was always to show you that there is beauty and safety in the rule of law, that civilization actually depends on it. How quaint.
If you have to stay on the Internet, my research indicates that the short term safety from surveillance, to the degree that is even possible, is to use a service like Kolab for email, which is located in Switzerland, and hence is under different laws than the US, laws which attempt to afford more privacy to citizens.
My personal decision is to get off of the Internet to the degree it's possible. I'm just an ordinary person. But I really know, after all my research and some serious thinking things through, that I can't stay online personally without losing my humanness, now that I know that ensuring privacy online is impossible. I find myself unable to write. I've always been a private person. That's why I never wanted to be a celebrity and why I fought hard to maintain both my privacy and yours.
Oddly, if everyone did that, leap off the Internet, the world's economy would collapse, I suppose. I can't really hope for that. But for me, the Internet is over.
"For me, the Internet is over". I kind of feel that way too. I wonder whether it's worth engaging with the internet at all, beyond maybe some minimalistic e-mail exchanges used to arrange face-to-face meetings.
I wanted the internet to be a decentralizing force, a fronteir with room for everybody. Maybe it was that, for a little while. But now it feels more like a panoptic prison, built to centralize power even more in the hands of a few elite corporations and government bodies that want to own everything we think and say.
The reasons I haven't abandoned the internet yet are, first, because I'm already pretty lonely and doing that would make me even lonelier; and second, if I make a song or a comic or a game or something I want a way to share that. Which brings me back to my original topic: what is this blog for?
I could loosely classify all my posts into:
rants (which I only want select people to read)
adventures (things like travel photos that only my friends and family would care about)
works (thing I make, that I want to spread as widely as possible).
Since I have different readerships in mind, those three things might belong on totally separate websites under separate pseudonyms.
Anyway, readers! I haven't yet asked what you think. Why do you read my weird topicless weblog? What's in it for you? Would you be sad if I shut down? What would you like me to write about more?
Rather than calling my mental state "depression", I think it's more descriptive to say I'm in a state of "scriptlessness": I don't know who I am, why I'm here, or what I want.
The cultural/psychological/narrative construct that I used to use to understand my place in life began coming apart sometime around the fall of 2011, and by this year it had completely unraveled, leaving me staring into the abyss.
The symptoms of my "depression" - lack of enjoyment, lack of meaning, hopelessness, self-loathing, suicidal thoughts -- these are the results of living without a functioning narrative.
Humans can't survive on facts and logic alone. We need to make sense of the world by telling stories. Usually, stories where we can cast ourselves as the hero, on an epic struggle against the forces of evil, so that we can feel our actions have moral significance.
In fact, I've got a theory about meaning: If you want something to have a meaning, you have to tell a story about it. Meaning only exists within a narrative context, the way a variable "X" only exists within a set of equations that define it. If you strip the storytelling away from your life, well... a carbon atom in a live human body and a carbon atom in a dead one follow exactly the same physical laws. Biology can describe life as a metabolic process, but it won't give you a logical reason to prefer life over death, or good over evil.
I think I understand why people follow religions, now.
At the same time, I'm very suspicious of grand narratives, because they easily turn into ideologies, and ideologies can be used to justify atrocities (especially if "forces of evil" becomes identified with some other group of humans). Besides, if you believe too thoroughly in your own self-mythologizing, you'll reject information that contradicts your self-image, and then you'll never be able to grow into a better person.
But complete honesty with yourself can reveal extremely painful things. It's like that magic mirror in the Neverending Story -- confronted with their true selves, most men run away screaming. Deconstruct your own story too much and you're left with carbon atoms. So you have to strike a balance between questioning your own narrative (to avoid becoming a zealot) and building it back up (to avoid falling into despair).
When I became disillusioned with Mozilla, it wasn't just one company's weird internal politics driving me away. I lost my ability to suspend disbelief in my internal narrative -- the one that took me from the University of Chicago to Humanized to Mozilla. It went, "I'm improving usability of open-source software, thereby helping Mozilla fight its competitors, thereby helping keep the internet free, thereby helping decentralize democracy and culture, thereby saving the world."
I've already rejected two other easy narratives. One is the script of the responsible middle-class American male. According to that script, since I have now procured a job and a wife, my next steps are to put a down-payment on a house in a neighborhood with good schools, climb the corporate ladder, and produce offspring. Maybe some people find meaning that way but it holds no appeal for me.
The other one is the typical silicon valley computer programmer life script, which is different from my Mozilla script in many ways that may not be obvious to an outside observer. According to the silicon valley script I should be doing things like obsessing over the latest gadgets, staying on top of trends, getting rich quick by building an "app" that I can sell to Google or Facebook, blogging about "design" or cutting-edge software development techniques, trying to increase my number of Twitter followers, having an opinion about Android vs. iOS, living in a trendy part of San Francisco, and going to Burning Man and SxSW.
These easy scripts are examples of the unexamined life -- doing something just because everyone around you is doing it. To me it's always been obvious that this is a trap. In fact I may have a bad habit of overcorrecting too far in the other direction. I have a curmudgeonly streak. If I see too many people doing something, it makes me want to do the opposite. I have a strong aversion to doing anything I listed in the last paragraph, even if it might benefit me; maybe it's something about trying to prove my "unqiueness". I used to want to be a computer guy, but being around thousands of computer guys made me not want to be one anymore. It's like that joke -- "I wouldn't want to join any club with standards so low that they would have me as a member."
For a while I was obsessed with the idea of finding a different job and/or moving away from Silicon Valley, since I believed that my depression was caused by unhappiness with a specific flaw in my life situation, and would easily go away on its own once I had gotten away from the irritant.
But that's not right. Changing jobs and addresses whenever I get unhappy is itself just a piece of my old script -- something that worked for me in the past, so I mindlessly try to repeat it.
It won't work anymore. Depression isn't a passing phase that will go away on its own with the right lifestyle permutation. Depression is the normal state of things unless I construct happiness for myself, until I build a ladder to climb out of the pit. I have to build a whole new narrative for myself, from scratch. My old one is gone for good, beyond repair; the ones offered by the society around me are bum deals. I have to do something like bootstrapping a whole new operating system, except it's for my own brain, and it's made out of philosophy and storytelling instead of code.
When I put it that way, it actually sounds kind of exciting, not depressing at all. I get to invent a whole new way of living, with myself as the test subject. Creative destruction, applied to myself. Anything is possible!
Me and Sushu are on the left. Kouki Tenmei is, in my opinion, the most difficult song we've learned so far. This was the second out of three performances on Sunday; I feel like it was a pretty good one. We also did Shikisai and Kenka Yatai in each performance.
I'm not dead! Just been spending more and more time away from the internet.
Sushu and I have an upcoming taiko performance, Sunday September 8 at the Solano Stroll street festival in Berkeley. Last year we did sets at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm; it will probably be something similar this year. Anyway, if you're in the area, please come see us!