Exactly a month since my last blog post. Interesting! No I didn't plan to post today but I was waiting for the dishwasher to finish and my computer to finish uprendering. I'm now more than half-way through the 4KRK project. I'm in the Christian Arc / Amakusa episodes and the uprendering is going along nicely. There's been a few times my computer froze since it's such an energy and heat hog this 4K uprendering business but the results that I've seen especially in the Kyoto episodes were stupendous when I test it on my PS4 and also directly to my 4K Samsung TV. Other than that I've managed to scan or take a photo of my Rurouni Kenshin Cel and Sketch collection. It's now in the admin area of my cels website and I'm slowly publishing it. Like today I added a ton of cels of Kenshin himself and his various allies throughout the series. I still have a lot to publish though but the heavy lifting (scanning) is mostly done. I'm still writing an RPG privately so that's taken time away but I feel like I enjoy writing, though I don't enjoy researching the old Saitou stuff because there's too much non-RK Tokio stuff mixed in that somewhat ruins the fictional RK Saitou since a lot of the "Tokio" fandom are truly just original characters that are "Mary Sue" or just the author writing themselves into the story and giving it a name Tokio. Or it's a bunch of "historical" stuff that isn't really historical but stuff for historical novel and use RK's Saitou face but loses a lot of his characterization and motivation all for a woman? Seriously, just write your own historically based story using real historical people rather than insisting it's still Rurouni kenshin's Saitou please. I do feel sad for the real first wife in history named Yaso, yes he was married to someone else not Tokio who the real person was married to via an arranged marriage. Most people don't seem to remember that marriages were done as a family affair (mostly due to politics, security and family) and not because of love. Whoever wrote that explanation that RL Saitou loved both women (Yaso and Tokio) but left Yaso because of her "tumultuous" family politics and saying this is what the Fujita family records indicated either translated it wrong, is a dolt of a Saitou/Tokio shipper or doesn't understand that how these family records may not be as accurate either (meaning it will always try to shine the best light for the "family" - a very common thing in Asian families) and didn't do their research. Shinoda Yaso was married to Saitou (Fujita Goro) with Kurosawa (the village leader) as the sponsor of the marriage. Yaso was a Shizoku (from a Samurai family) but she had lost her family during the war, her father and brother. Their family had a 400 Koku stipend which put her below what the Takagi Tokio's family would receive, so the Shinoda Yaso's family was lower in stature. Yaso and Saitou lived in Gonohe first for more than a year before Tokio arrived and she was adopted by Kurosawa. Tokio had better connections like Teruhime and Matsudaira. Due to her favorable political associations and better conditions she was able to leave Gonohe and go to Tokyo. Then Saitou was put in an arranged marriage with Tokio, with Kurosawa as the go-between (yep the same father of Tokio and yet the same sponsor to Yaso) and now had higher blessings from Matsudaira and Teruhime. The rest is history, Yaso was left in Gonohe and she saw Saitou off as he left for Tokyo and he never went back to Gonohe. And no she didn't just die in Gonohe immediately, she lived for more than 2 years before disappearing from the records. She only moved into the Kurosawa household after Saitou and Tokio finally had their first child which was more than a year after they married. I'm sorry I think the real life story is quite clear here in terms of what happened to the marriages. What one can't deny however is that Saitou and Tokio did eventually stay together and had more children and probably lived their life as best as they could and hopefully they were happy. What I have a beef with are all these "Rurouni Kenshin" Saitou x Tokio shippers who mischaracterize RK Saitou in order for him to fit their version of Tokio. RK Saitou would likely never do what historical (RL) Saitou did or would allow the people around him to manipulate the situation like that. This is why I much prefer stories of Saitou x Tokio that did not use RK Saitou as the base. Use Yae no Sakura instead (oh wait he's not that hot isn't he? heh...). Or if you want to see an actual Yaso x Saitou story, try Peace Maker Kurogane but it's not yet fully fleshed out, they just met and she'll likely die in that story but I can respect that because the story takes Yaso seriously. I get it, the RK man is HOT and sexy but please try to remember what the character is on the core (a character that stands for justice - an incorruptible character who's love of country surpasses politics and love of clan - which means all this Aizu stuff was beyond his main motivations - this is even proven in the RK Motion Picture that was all about disgruntled Aizu samurai). Now of course there is the new Hokkaido arc and yes even I worry about what the author, along with his wife as a consultant will do because I'm already seeing cracks for example a 2nd character breaking his will by making him choose something personal over his code of justice. I'm hoping that is more plot device than anything else but who knows if this is the effect of fandom and may lean towards "happily married" tropes because now the author has a wife who's acting as his story consultant, compared to when he first wrote the story in his mid-20s. The author may have even forgotten the truth of his characters (which I hope not). I'm sure if that happens then all those Mary Sue's will be happy. As for me I am fine with a "perfect cardboard" character, even if one day the author decides he'll change it all up for drama or for his wife, because the most thing I admired with the wolf is his ability to cling to his beliefs even in the most difficult of times. When that time comes I'll have to make a decision if canon or history really matters. For now for a work of fiction, history for me hardly matters, after all it's a fictional character even if based on a real life person. But if the canon decides to go rogue, then I'll have to decide whether the fictional work is still worth it.
So it's almost the end of May. I've not really stuck to my projects. I took down the 4K videos for Rurouni Kenshin. I plan to put them back up again but my server was getting hammered I assume by people who just really love Rurouni Kenshin. Heh. But I have other old time projects I'm working on so since all of this is just for my personal use (including the vids) I took them down so I can go back to writing in a private RPG. Restarting that has taken up a lot of time because there were many characters and plot points to consider. I had originally thought I was closing that up, a product of 10 years and publish a condensed novel size fanfic but since it was a collaborative work I guess I couldn't and it's got a second wind in a way. I wanted to write again just because I was missing being creative and using my imagination or my head to resolve plots. I still can't quite write to the same level I used to in terms of detail but I think the "feeling" I'm able to convey. The grammar though is horrible. This is what happens when you don't practice. Language and grammar were my worst subjects in school but since it's private hardly anyone knows and I'm forgiven for being so careless or likely being in a hurry to get my thoughts to paper/screen. I forget things and they say, always strike when the iron is hot! Oh I'm sure I'll get stuck at some point or lose steam but even more reason to keep working.
I'm still updating the artwork gallery behind the scenes. It takes a long time to scan cels and especially sketches. My large format scanner is downstairs and I've been leaning towards scanning natively, meaning I will scan registration holes, I will not add backgrounds (unless it's a floating head) and will try to publicly display the artwork that is either unique in the collection or is closest to what's on screen. So I've got a lot queued up in the background. Commentary though I think will be secondary at this point. I'm going with the saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" style for now since I don't have much time. But I know it eventually will eat me up if I don't put the proper descriptions or technical cel info so I've promised myself to go back and add those in. What kind of curator would I be if I didn't. But see I'm not a curator, I'm a collector who goes by the heart and not the head.
Lastly I've rediscovered a little bit of the RK community or what's left of it. It's a little sad to know that fandom these days have retreated into the recesses of Social Media and somewhat lost to it. One of the reasons I never liked social media or places like tumblr, facebook, instagram or the like is that they're really not geared towards a deeper look at a particular interest. A lot of the subject matter is "light", barely scratching the surface and geared towards quick consumption or the "self" as a promotion. But I realize that things are not what they used to be 10-15 years ago. Today information that you want is a few clicks away, while the world I grew up in had the internet but not all the information. I remember when I used to use jdic to figure out a kanji, go to nifty.com and try to translate. *laughs* But it's OK. I do appreciate I'm now able to just take my phone and point it to my doujinshi or manga and know somewhat what it's saying.
Finally as for my old websites, I'm likely not bringing them back those items that related to history, although I'm now finding that there's been a purge online with regards to info. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I'm one of those folks whose interest in history grew out of fiction, because I used to like to write stories and I needed ideas. In the world I first encountered there were a lot of fact being mixed with fiction whether on purpose or not. I might try to bring back Saitou's Timeline if I can extract it from my retired database. That or maybe used the phone translation thing on that old history book I had of Saitou-san. But I want to take things slowly. I have a tendency to go really hard on a bunch of projects and burn out. Right now I only have one real project and I don't know whether this time it will last another 10 years like it did back then.
I've just been told I'm going to be stuck in the house a bit longer. I guess that just means more distractions for me! Honestly though I've not really touched the majority of what I used to do many years ago. I've touched my favorite anime shows a little via video projects that require little "thought" from me and my cel collection. I actually don't know how I kept up with all all 4 websites back in the day, the research, the coding, the time spent. I didn't mind it back then I had a lot of things I needed to distract myself from and working on my escapades helped me escape. Today though I look back and have to say I can't go back and bring it all back, for now I parked those website names to old pages of acquaintances and old projects with very old content. I may never go back to it but that might be okay because back then my goal was to introduce the world to the Shinsengumi (history and fiction) and the many different versions of Saitou and today there's so much information, so many fan wikis, wikipedia. I'm truly happy with that and I hope a long time ago I helped. Once in a while I will spy someone post something about my old websites and post the research I and others did and I would be happy but not comment. Today I just want to try to take care of a few things like my cel collection and a few unfinished fictional works. If one day I go back to those websites and properly put back the info, i will need more time than I have now because I must admit, I am limited by my outdated knowledge of the web. There was so much info in the website which i repurposed (hajimenokizu.com) as my personal web since I did own Shinsengumi.net, Shinsengumi.org and SaitouHajime.com. I want to move the info from the now retired hajimenokizu.com website to one of the shinsengumi names but I'm struggling figuring out what vehicle i should use because I know if i use one of the content management systems, it would require me to keep up with too many things. I still remember the nightmares i used to have in coding and hackers and today I do know that most people just stay in social media and most of the info I have today are static so I'm considering just keeping it simple again. I don't know and I won't know for a long time. I am prone to being distracted by many things so I don't want to start something and leave it as usual unfinished. As for the 4K videos I'm only doing that for my use and posting it up so I can watch anywhere. I'd likely do that just for Daimos and Rurouni Kenshin, although I might go back and subtitle Daimos now that I've found my old subtitling program. Who knows. But priority is my cel gallery and most of the "Other Anime" has been transitioned from Rubberslug to here. The quality of the images are not great and the commentary is almost non-existent but that will take time. Sorry for rambling I had a lot on my mind and not this. LOL. They say it takes time to truly write something coherent and I don't have that much time even if stuck at home. As I said I am prone to being distracted.
I've made some headway with some of my projects. The 4K video conversion is going along. It takes a long time so it's slow but I've found a few tricks to make it faster like reducing the frame rate. Anime or Cartoons are done usually as a true 12 frame then the same shot is used twice to create the 24 fps. The DVDs i'm dealing with is doing 30fps so i've been toying around with 12 and 15 fps because it cuts the time down in half. But it comes at the cost of smoothness but the original is 12 fps so i don't think the smoothness or lack thereof is significantly visible.
What else? I've been doing an inventory of my collection. I've had it with Rubberslug, for the uninitiated Rubberslug.com is a website for animation artwork. I've dealt with it for many years whether it was missing features I needed or just missing search updates or it going down. I honestly felt a bit disappointed at times very strongly at how things did not progress in the site however I kept up with it because it is the only real place that I know of where so much Anime artwork is displayed. But I think it's lack of progress made me disatisfied with the presentation of my collection and reduced my excitement in updating. So I'm choosing a happy medium of keeping only a few cels there so that viewers can find the vast majority of the collection here. I think Rubberslug is really a good free service but I just needed more than it provided. If you're wanting to appreciate some cel collections may I suggest you visit Rubberslug?
I've caught up in PeaceMaker Kurogane, I'm looking forward to the new chapter but it seems they only update every 2 months. I really want to see what happens to Saitou and Yaso but it's nice to finally see a manga that actually is now trying to fit things in more realistically. PMK several years ago, as it declined developed strong occult/supernatural elements to it that I believe the creator had a hard time reconciling where she had wanted to take the story versus what is a real life gritty story of the Shinsengumi. Having written a few stories myself, I know this feeling of trying to untangle something that you thought was a good idea initially but realized that it got away from you. That it stumped you and so you try to find a way out but only time away from the work, gives you the perspective and clarity you need. Sometimes it means continuing on and solving the plotline as it was intended originally or sometimes it calls for doing a pivot and abandoning a particular story element. But while you're stuck in a "writer's block", it is difficult and it may take years to get back and I believed that's what led Nanae Chrono to put her work on hiatus for PMK. Now that she picked it back up, the writing and direction seems clearer. Sometimes we just have to forgive those who write. When I used to write fanfic, there was one fanfic "Watashi no Itachi", a novel length story that I did not finish for many years. One night I ended up churning the final chapter and although most of the readers have disappeared I still cherish that couple of readers who wrote me and said they were very happy that I finished even if it took several years. I was very happy about that because an unfinished work sometimes wear on my mind. So it must be more intense for those who truly write as their profession.
So. I've been busy but not on the things I should be doing. I recently found out about Peace Maker Kurogane has been scanlated. Unfortunately that manga and anime series although initially licensed in the US in the early 2000s, the mangaka Nanae Kurono went on hiatus for many years. A year or so ago she came back with a vengeance and the Shinsengumi has moved on from Tokyo and Kyoto and now are in Aizu and I saw Shinoda Yaso. Shinoda-san!!! Seriously I never thought the day would come that Shinoda Yaso (a very controversial figure back then for she was the first wife of Saitou and let's just say people had a hard time) would leave the fanfic world and grace the pages of a commercial comic/manga. I'm binge reading that comic and I can tell you that it's excellent.
What else? I also found out a way to upscale all my low quality video (VHS and DVD) into very acceptable Ultra HD and close to 4K quality. And so now I am trying it out on my beloved Rurouni Kenshin. Who wouldn't want to see the HD face of the Wolf of Mibu. It's not perfect but it's very passable and trust me watching a DVD on a 4K screen is garbage but with this upsampling and up-rendering it's making a big difference. You should check it out here.
I went on an extended fast for 4 days. That's why I had to occupy myself with fun things. I've been feeling down lately and hurting everywhere but I'll be fine. Anyway I'm sure you're wondering why I don't use wordpress or some more up to date website, social media or host my videos on youtube. I realized a few things, I don't like being subject to a providers terms and conditions. I really like the independence I gain by just running all of this website (warts and all) on just an old PC that's always connected. I realize also when I used to dabble in CMS like Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress that I couldn't keep up with all the updates needed. I don't have the time and the more simpler things are the better. I have notepad, a few tag knowledge and there I go. As for social media, it might be a generational thing. I used to use them and still do some browsing but for my wants which usually don't really need much interacting or feedback and instead my goal is that somehow I have a space in the NET to put up my love for something is fine with me. But people can always drop me a line I suppose, so contact me here. I don't bite. In general some people say I'm a nice person but I'm also quite a lazy and distracted person so I might not see your email or choose to ignore it. But it's not you... It's me.
So it's been a month since my last update. How did I do with all the stuff i said?
Truth be told only somewhat. I have been reading up on CSS but that's taken a back seat to my studying for the SIE exam. I've done very well in studying for the SIE exam I think! The only problem is when I should register since the Coronavirus is making us all stay home.
Yep, the Coronavirus aka COVID-19 aka SARS 2. Turning on the news it's quite frightening really and in the US it's just starting. In my household filled with old people I worry. Every little sniffle, fever or cough is making me jump. I've stocked up on food because unlike others I feel like since there are elderly people in my house with underlying conditions I should minimize the going out for all of us even if it's just "essentials". Protect your love ones even if they think you're a little crazy which I probably am coz I have been having cold symptoms and I do wonder and a friend of mine just said they were "exposed" recently. I haven't seen this friend for months so I'm likely fine but I do worry for her. I looked for hotlines she could call. I think for now I can pray to God to protect all of us.
To keep my mind off those things I should focus more on this website that I haven't made much progress in. I keep thinking to myself I'll get to it, catch up on Disney+, catch up on my video gaming but the most I've done is clean up in the house, fix my room, clean up the Goldfish aquarium, check up on the old folks and stick by my laptop as I'm now working from home and they want to have us on "Cameras". I suppose I should just be thankful I still have a job even if I was never thrilled with the group I'm with but at least the overall company seems forward looking, though they are in an industry that will likely get affected more long term by this virus.
Anyway see you next month. Now that my SIE studying has gotten critical mass I think I'll feel better finally letting up a bit and focus on my hobbies like this website.
Stay safe, practice social distancing, practice good hygiene and if you won't do it for yourself, do it for others especially those in the older age group. Though believe me I looked at the progression of the disease and though it's not a disease of the young, it does get to the younger population and once the disease becomes critical the mortality rate is close to 50% and unfortunately the way one goes is akin to drowning. Generally those people on respirators have to be restrained so oxygen can be pumped in. I'll leave it at that I don't want to get too graphic about it.
Definitely it will not be good initially. Just look at this webpage that's sterile and mostly devoid of formatting because I don't remember how web development works anymore. But you have to give me credit, after all I was able to resurrect my numerous old websites and have them mostly working on an old pc spec I had lying around. For many years I used a web host but they nickled and dimed me away. The webhost kept upgrading their applications but my skills was not enough and I was considered in legacy support and was paying up to the nose for really just a labor of love I suppose. So here we are running 90% of the time on old hardware but no one can say, I can't use old versions of everything. Look there's definitely a need to upgrade software and skills for security but there's really nothing here that would warrant that security aside from defending it's existence from the evils of the web.
It's actually even worst than that. I have mostly lost my CSS skills but I still got the HTML basics down. Forget the little scripting I knew back then but today is the day we go back to what we used to do and I'll start with the most simplest blog of only html. Once i get my formatting prowess back we will work on my PHP skills that was never complete in the first place.
You may be wondering why CSS. If you look at my Art Collection on Hajimenokizu.com, you will see the invisible (unless you know how to "view source code") dirty secret. It was created with tables! The code of that website was actually shared to me but the formatting was something I toyed with and back then I only had command of tables, however at some point I actually improved and started using CSS! Just look at my fan site dedicated to the Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi. The artwork there is not mine but was I proud of the div and floating elements I learned back in the day!
For now be patient. This will take forever. My priority to bring back was the secret site and my artwork collection. My next priority was to start a blog to provide updates, however this is not the blog I wanted. I wanted to do it in wordpress or PHP, not this arcane HTML but information is more important to give updates on what I'm working on.
I'll be working on my CSS skills for a bit and then revamping the Art Gallery to remove tables and see if we can make the navigation a bit better. My goal is to do this by mid-March.
On non-website related news; I've decided I am going to try to pass the SIE Exam - I'd like to do it before my birthday. I passed the FINRA sample test, not with flying colors but I did pass. It tells me I have to study a little. I've been thinking about taking it since last year now that the SIE doesn't need firm sponsorship. Once I pass that then I'll think about the top-offs and how to convince some firm to sponsor me. Why am I doing this and getting back into my hobbies at the same time? I realized that one has to enjoy existing and it doesn't hurt to try to keep getting better especially since the past few jobs I had were unsatisfying. I'm trying to see what will give me the spark to enjoy life again, so I have to try things.
See you on the next update!