An Explanation

I actually haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth – I’ve just moved to the other side of it, again. It’s a journey that probably started back in September of 2016, when JC and I decided to come back here. At that time we had been staying with our parents for over a year, and things actually weren’t so great. You can see it in my posts from the time, from hinting that I was realizing how much our parents fucked us up to how I tried to convince myself that things were good. There was even a list of things that I missed from Hong Kong.

The first time around in Hong Kong we still thought of our parents’ places as home, and kept things there. But this time would be different. Having been at home for a year, I realized how tethered we still were to our parents, how we weren’t really as independent as we thought. No, if we were to leave this time, I would not use my mom’s house as a storage unit. I would take care of all my shit, whether that meant taking it with me or getting rid of it. From the past year of museum posts and magazine scans, you can see what I decided.

If I had the money, and the means to make that money, I would stay in the Bay Area. Even as we were selling our things and packing our suitcases I told JC that Hong Kong actually isn’t so great, we already gave it a go, and we came back to the USA. But where would we stay in the Bay Area? We tried looking for a place to live in early 2016. I actually had a job with decent hours and pay. But it was a shit life, a draining life. Work all day doing something you don’t like, ride in a stinky train before and after, and repeat daily. Hong Kong would be the same, but at least the train wouldn’t be stinky. I wouldn’t have to worry about my surroundings all the time. But I’d still have to deal with the shitty parts of living here. In the end, given a bunch of shitty choices, we picked the least stinky one.

So this is where we are now, more than 6 months back in Hong Kong. Despite now being independent, we’re still not as happy as we’d like to be. Adulting is fucking hard, and the more you live and experience, the more it seems like it’s all bullshit. JC is working and dealing with office politics, and I am not, a repeat of early 2014. As I posted back then, I still got nothin’, no motivation to work, no hunger for money, no plans for the future. I still just want to play basketball and video games, read books, and drink Scotch. We can’t exclusively do those things because we don’t have money, but if we commit ourselves to earning money, then we won’t have time to do those things. What a vicious turn of events.

I often think of things to post here, about life and our current situation, and the future. And yet, when the time comes, it seems difficult to organize all my thoughts. We’re not quite 40 yet, but life seems tiring. Is this all there is? What’s the meaning? Is there even supposed to be a meaning? Why does it seem like most people are deceiving themselves? Or are we the ones deceiving ourselves?

I’m looking for a job now, so I won’t post this just yet, because despite my angst, I understand how the world works. Just more bullshit, right? For the record, I started this entry in January, and today is April 11. Let’s see what the actual date will be when I finally post…

There Are Times

MGH Disk 1 of 2, Street Fighter 2 Turbo for the Super Famicom
MGH Disk 1 of 2, Street Fighter 2 Turbo for the Super Famicom

There are times when I am reminded of something I once had, and I feel sad.

There are times when looking at something triggers a memory of an object I once had, an object that I purposefully disowned. I ask myself whether it was really necessary. I wanted to be an adult, to stand on my own two feet, to not become attached to material possessions. Even had I not desired so, I would not have the physical space to hold all my seemingly precious objects that I only think about and cherish when an associated memory brings them back into the forefront.

Tonight I randomly decided to look at one of the manuals from the SNES mini, the one for SF2 Turbo, and I thought of the generic Capcom stick at my mother’s house and how it no longer has an SNES to connect to, and how even if I did I no longer have the game copier or the floppy disks to load the game from. Those are painful thoughts for me. From the time I acquired those possessions to last year when I disowned them, I knew that if I ever had any desire at all to experience the originals, I could. But now, no matter what, regardless of whether I go back to my old room, it’s impossible.

It’s like with my dead cousins, there’s no way back to those times, and no way forward to reminisce about those times. It’s all only inside my head, and maybe my heart, and that’s the reality of life and its fleeting nature.

Wong’s Kong King Hong Kong Market Sega Master System Brochure (~1986)

Tonight’s first scan is a Chinese-language Sega Master System brochure from around 1986, printed by Wong’s Kong King, the Sega distributor in Hong Kong at that time. As can be seen from the tape and staple holes, I also had this on my wall, but like everything else from the blue shoulder bag, it’s just been in there for the past 20 years.

In terms of historical value, this one’s must be pretty high. I’m reluctant to throw it out because like all anachronistic things, it survived a long period of time and made it to the present, something that’s neither easily done, nor repeatable.

When I was putting the other blue shoulder bag items in the recycling bag, it occurred to me that every single moment of our lives is also unique and also won’t come back once gone. So, you get to make a choice. You could either fixate on what’s gone by, filling your present moments with them, or you can focus on the present moments, truly feeling and experiencing them. Of course, if you have enough time (not sure if pun is intended or not), you can try to do both, but picking from the three choices is extremely difficult, and we probably have different desires at different stages of life. For me, right now, a big reason to bid the past goodbye is that I no longer want to be shackled by childhood, and all the unhealthy things that go along with it. JC and I were free, living our own lives, and two years ago we decided to come back “home” and have lived with our parents ever since. It’s possible that we never were truly free, since our parents’ places was like home base, and we left a lot of our stuff here. I grow increasingly tired with this situation and am maneuvering to finally break free, with nothing left behind, and nothing to come back to. We want to make our own home and experience our own moments.

The grind continues…

Sega Master System Hong Kong Brochure from Wong's Kong King, 1986

Sega Master System Hong Kong Brochure from Wong's Kong King, 1986

Take Hold of the Sega Adventure (1987)

Here’s another poster straight off the wall of my childhood room, a Sega 1987 poster and game lineup, “Take Hold Of The Sega Adventure” and “Get In Touch With Sega Software”.

I really like this one. Looking at it now, I am reminded of many nights before bed looking at all the games that I already had for my Sega Master System, and all the games that I wanted to get. Since this poster came out in 1987, a lot of the games were from around the time when I first got the system as a kid in Hong Kong. Some of the games would remind me of my time in Hong Kong, playing them at my friends’ houses. Now that I think about it, it seemed like all the kids in my little circle of international-school friends had Sega, and I wonder why we never got into Nintendo.

There was one game that I remember playing, Great Football, that I had no idea how to play. I had not yet moved to America and learned the game. Great Soccer was another game that I played at a friend’s place, but of course we knew how to play that, being in British Hong Kong. It was always interesting going to your friends’ homes as a kid. It seemed like each place had its own smell, and different parents had different levels of hospitality. Actually (and speaking of hospitality), I do remember one Japanese kid who had a Famicom at his house. I think he had the floppy drive, too.

Looking at the poster now, I also wonder why it took me twenty years to take it out of the blue bag, unfold it, and actually look at it like I used to (it really is a cool poster). Did I just not have time? Or did I think I had all the time in the world? I think it must have been the latter. At the time we moved out of my childhood home, I was starting my second year of college. Studying happened, girls happened, then graduation, then vacation. Next was first job out of college, unrealistic expectations, get fired, then 3 years of not working. Then, it was start over, find a new job, do well, move out, get a car, get married, get promoted, get burned out, and go on Adventure 2012, and then the last 4 years: move to Hong Kong, live free for one year, work for one year, come back to the USA, live with parents, work 3 months out of the next 24. In a nutshell, the past 20 years of my life. It was a long time, and in between all those things happening, adding up year after year, I never took the time to look in my closet, look inside the blue bag, and take a look at this poster. I must have figured it would always be there.

What’s next? I don’t know. In these past months, I’ve been taking all these pieces from my life up to this point, scanning or photographing them, and then bidding them goodbye. What am I getting ready for? In the past I’ve mentioned getting light, so that when the time comes, we’ll be able to move. But where? Maybe a new life where I enjoy everything in front of me, where nothing is in the closet. Kind of like when we were kids, when things were simple, and all we had was our Sega, when it was so much easier to focus on one thing because that was all we had. It’s a frequently and incorrectly used word, but I do believe it is ironic that I’m trying to get back to the past by letting go of it. It’s very difficult, and sometimes I want to just keep hanging on, like saving this poster after 20 years of not looking at it. But I think maybe, if I’m not careful, my life will become like this poster, stuck in a closet, stuck in time, and another 20 years will have passed.

As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post, with extra and nostalgic commentary.

Poster - Take Hold of the Sega Adventure - 1987

Game Lineup - Get in Touch with Sega Software - 1987

Devastator, 6 Years Later

Constructicon Devastator
Devastator – May 15, 2017

Six years ago, I wondered if I would disassemble Devastator and photograph the individual Constructicons. Tonight, I finally do so.

The Constructicons in vehicle mode: Hook, Scavenger, Bonecrusher, Mixmaster, Scrapper, and Long Haul
The Constructicons in vehicle mode: Hook, Scavenger, Bonecrusher, Mixmaster, Scrapper, and Long Haul

It’s been many months since I’ve started the process of ridding myself of possessions that I no longer use. From the floppy disks of my old Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis games, to the teddy bear that my parents gave me when I was a baby, and more recently to my video game magazines from the late 80s and early 90s, I am slowly alleviating the burden of past objects in my present life. These are things that had somehow stuck around despite my hardly ever touching, looking, or interacting with them, things that I treasured from childhood, that I think I still do in adulthood. Devastator is no different.

Constructicon Hook
Hook – vehicle mode
Constructicon Scavenger
Scavenger – vehicle mode
Constructicon Bonecrusher
Bonecrusher – vehicle mode
Constructicon Mixmaster
Mixmaster – vehicle mode
Constructicon Scrapper
Scrapper – vehicle mode
Constructicon Long Haul
Long Haul – vehicle mode

A part of me did not want to get rid of those things, but another part knew that even if I did, I would be fine and continue to live my life, and possibly be better for it. And yes, time has proved that I am better for it, because I still maintain the memory, while my physical space is freed up. And if and when we finally decide to rejoin the real world, we will have less things to worry about and be responsible for.

The Constructicons in robot mode: Long Haul, Bonecrusher, Scavenger, Scrapper, Mixmaster, and Hook
The Constructicons in robot mode: Long Haul, Bonecrusher, Scavenger, Scrapper, Mixmaster, and Hook

Because the Constructicons had remained in Devastator form for so long, there was physically some difficulty with transforming them into their individual forms, with some parts “sticking” and hard to move around. It’s kind of the same for me with throwing things out: I’ve had them for so long and it’s difficult (read: painful) to part with them. With Devastator, it’s even harder because as I said in that 2011 post, it was a long process to finally collect all six Constructicons.

But if it’s taken me six years to finally transform them into robot mode, why is it so hard to part with them? In these past six years, I have gone from being on top of my little domain at my old job, to quitting and going on Adventure 2012, to moving to Hong Kong and living there for two years, and now to almost being back in the USA for two years. For a lot of that time, Devastator wasn’t even in my possession, or even in my thoughts. That should be enough proof that it’s not that important to me, right?

Constructicon Long Haul
Long Haul – robot mode
Constructicon Bonecrusher
Bonecrusher – robot mode
Constructicon Scavenger
Scavenger – robot mode
Constructicon Scrapper
Scrapper – robot mode
Constructicon Mixmaster
Mixmaster – robot mode
Constructicon Hook
Hook – robot mode

Sometimes, proof isn’t enough to make someone change their mind. That is human nature, and that is life. We would just as soon follow our hearts as we would behave rationally and logically. I have found that this is how I’ve been behaving these past months: the truth is right in front of me and all I have to do is act, but I’m afraid to do so. I’d rather stay stuck in the past, in what’s comfortable. As much as I thought I’d learned the lesson already, it would seem that it’s easy to regress. Will it be possible to move forward in the future, to jump back into the cold water of that swimming pool? I hope so, and we will see. As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post.

DOS Resource Guide, Number 8 (March 1993)

DOS Resource Guide, Number 8 (March 1993)

This is my last copy of DOS Resource Guide, the March 1993 issue. It has been 24 years, and the pages have yellowed with age. I’ve kept this magazine for nearly two thirds of my life.

Right now, we’re at an age where we’re not exactly young, and not exactly old, yet we often lament “getting old”. The magazine sort of puts things in perspective: there’s still a long way to go, and if you’re “lucky” you’ll get two more 24-years (damn, two more?!). Admittedly, everything seems old because after you’ve lived long enough, it all feels like the same old shit, just dressed differently. Maybe that’s all life is, and maybe that’s why older people yearn for the good old days, and maybe that’s why the fountain of youth is a legend.

As long as I’m alive, I’ll just keep on, keepin’ on, and as always, I hope you’ve enjoyed these museum posts.

DOS Resource Guide Number 8, March 1993 (PDF, 98.6 MB)

Right Now, #2

I couldn’t sleep tonight so I came outside to type some stuff on my laptop. Earlier, when I was waiting outside for the dog to finish his business, I looked up at the moon hanging low near the southern horizon. In the distance, I could hear a bird doing a whistling routine, a mix of chirps and whistles. For a moment, it seemed like I was in a jungle. Now, a few hours later, I can still hear the bird occasionally, but the moon is up much higher in the sky, and further west.

It’s been a while since I’ve been up at this hour. Ever since we attended a wedding in January, our sleeping schedules have reverted back to a more normal time. Prior to that, we would still be up at this time, playing Skyrim, surfing the internet, or enjoying a late meal. I haven’t thought about it, but it’s been two months since then.

When I was in bed earlier, I thought about the Right Now post from when we first started living in Hong Kong. Being outside with the moon and the chirping bird, it felt like another “right now” moment, so I got out of bed to type this. I wondered if it would be like the Coincidence post, but it’s actually a couple of weeks away before it will be exactly four years. Close enough.

When I was in bed, I listened to the bird and thought of the moon, and thought about how different the world is here compared to Hong Kong. Here, it’s actually quiet enough to hear a bird that’s chirping a couple of blocks away. The light pollution is low enough that you can look up in the sky and not only see the moon and its craters clearly, but also see the surrounding stars and planets. On many nights I’ve looked up at Orion’s Belt, amazed that I can actually see it, that the sky is so dark. Before moving to Hong Kong, I used to look up and see it too, but I never appreciated it as much as I do now.

Another thing that I appreciate more now is mortality. Tomorrow (or today), we are taking our niece to the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. It is one of many activities that we have been doing with our niece since moving back to America. Being around her, I am ever more aware of life being a queue: that those who come first, go first.

When I was in bed, I thought about the trip tomorrow. I thought about the car booster seat, and how to install it in my car, which led to my thinking of what I would do if the worst should occur. In a situation where I could choose between losing my own life or hers, I would choose to lose mine, because as I said above, life is a queue. I’ve lived nearly 40 years and had a pretty good life up to this point; she’s barely had 4 and still has so much to experience. As I’ve probably mentioned on here before, everyone gets a turn.

I also thought about what I would say to JC if the worst should occur and I had a last chance to say something to her. I would tell her that she is the best thing that ever happened to me in my life, that I became a different person because I met her. I would thank her for being my JC, and my partner in life. As I’ve said so many times before, life is fragile and can end at any moment. Being around my niece has only reinforced this notion. We would be wise, while we can, to tell our loved ones how we feel about them if we have not yet done so.

I’ve talked about life being a cruel joke before. Our parents dote on us, we fly away only to realize how much they mean to us, they die, and the same thing happens with our children. Yes, it seems cruel and unfair, but that’s the way it is, and there’s nothing we can do to change it. That is life, the nature of our existence. It would be better to embrace this fact, our mortality, so that we don’t take life for granted.

Tomorrow, I will forward this post to JC and let her know (again) how I feel about her. I hope you will do the same with your loved ones. Four years ago, I sat on my bed in our little flat in Hong Kong, looking out the window, sipping a Laguvulin, contemplating life. Right now, I sit at the dining table of the inlaws, savoring a Laphroaig, our family dog sleeping on a cushion with a blanket over his head, the clock ticking loudly with each passing second, the moon shining outside. Life has gone on for four years, and will keep on going. Time to go to bed. Good night.

Sega Visions Magazine, Winter 1990/91

Sega Visions Magazine Winter 1990-91

The second museum post for tonight is the third, winter 1990/91, issue of Sega Visions magazine.

The entire library of Sega Visions is actually available on Sega Retro, but their version of this issue has gutter shadow resulting from scanning the magazine on a flatbed scanner. Since I am disposing of my magazines anyway, I took mine apart and scanned it with a duplex scanner. There will be more magazines scanned for this and similar reasons in the coming days.

Back to this magazine, however. In winter of 1990 I was now in 8th grade, and some time around that period my father bought my sister and I both of the games mentioned on the cover: Joe Montana Football, and Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. I want to say we got the games from Macy’s, but I can’t remember for certain. It’s kind of interesting how we always ended up getting the alternative to the popular item. For example, the rest of the world went nuts for the Nintendo Entertainment System; we got the Sega Master System. Everyone at the time (and to this day) went gaga for John Madden Football, and we went for Joe Montana. I’m actually glad we did, though. With the popular items, everyone has one so you have plenty of chances to play Super Mario Brothers, Castlevania, etc. For the fringe that people mostly ignore, there are often gems to be found that people miss out on because they don’t want to be seen as unpopular. Franchises like Alex Kidd, Fantasy Zone, and Zillion come to mind. I got a chance to experience both worlds.

Something else to note from the cover is the Sega Stereo Speaker Giveaway. I actually did do this and redeemed the speakers, though they looked slightly different from what was pictured in the magazine. It was also possible to power the speakers with an AC adapter. For a kid accustomed to playing games with a mono TV speaker, they sounded pretty good. I’d crank up the volume and listen to Herzog Zwei’s opening sound just to experience the stereo effect. Even more hardcore, since they were standard 3.5mm-jack speakers, I’d take them into the bathroom and hook up my cassette player to listen to tapes of Sega game music in the shower. I was a die-hard Sega fan, that’s for sure.

Sega Genesis Speakers
Sega Genesis speakers getting ready for the trash, September 2010

One other thing I’d like to point out is that these early Sega Visions magazines came printed on quality and heavier-stock paper than other video games magazines of the time. The colors and text were quite vivid, especially when compared with Video Games & Computer Entertainment or Electronic Gaming Monthly. Well, Sega Visions was Sega’s marketing tool (the other magazines were arguably more journalistic) so perhaps that is why.

This final point brings me to something I’ve been thinking about while going through all these old things and throwing them away. What is history? Up until this point, I’ve thought of history as absolute fact, that what we read from a history book is what really happened. Going through these magazines and my other old things, I’ve come to realize that history is an approximation, a guess. Suppose there were no more Sega Visions magazines in the world, and the only evidence left of them are scanned PDFs. Would there be any way to know that the magazine was printed on high quality paper? For another example, take the subscription cards from all these magazines. Many of the PDFs don’t include them, and while I was going through and tossing them out, I realized that I was discarding the record of where they appeared in the magazine. As more time passes, more little details get lost. Imagine this happening for all events and all artifacts going back throughout history, historians trying to piece together the past, using only disjointed pieces and little context. If they found a subscription card separated from a magazine, how would they know which page it came from? That detail would be lost forever, faded into the mists of time. The same probably goes for many historical “facts” that we take for granted. Unless someone was actually there, it’s impossible to get a completely accurate picture of what occurred, or what it was like. And even if they were, you’d better hope that their memory is functioning properly, and that they’re being honest.

Knowing this now about history, I think I’d like to cherish life even more. This is our time and these are our lives, and only we will truly know how much it means to us. When it’s gone, we might appear as a paragraph in a history book, if that. The time to live is now.

The 78-megabyte PDF can be downloaded here. As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post, and thank you for reading this long one.

On Throwing Things Out

Below are some thoughts from earlier this month, originally typed out on a Moto G 2014 with an unreliable Logitech bluetooth keyboard that has also since been disposed of.


I saw an article about a homeless man losing his tent in a fire. He said he lost everything. Everything he had was in a small tent, just a few feet by a few feet wide.

I have been going through my bedroom to clear out things I no longer need, things that I have stored for long periods of time without use. Many are sentimental or old items. It seems to be a shame to throw out something that’s been kept for such a long time. To me, they have historical value and can never be replaced. But at the same time, there are probably billions of people in this world who possess things from decades or even centuries ago. Multiplied throughout humanity, what’s one or two old items from my closet?

In these past months, there have been times where I have asked myself the question, “what if there was a fire, and all your things were destroyed? What would you do?” I would be like the homeless man, with no more physical possessions, but at the same time I would no longer be burdened by such possessions. I would be free to move wherever I wanted without having to worry about where to store my things, what to bring, what to leave behind. These things that are old and that used to be play a huge role in my life that no longer do. Every so often my eyes sweep across them on the shelf when I turn my head around the room. I want to pull one out, open it up, and take a look inside, but I never do. Only when I finally started identifying what to say goodbye to did I open them up.

Genesis

I want to revisit this post I wrote in 2013. At the time, I said that there are some items in my life that are off limits to disposal, but now I’m not so sure. I’m not even sure I still regret selling all my Genesis games – it may have been a blessing in disguise.

In my more recent post about growing up, I mentioned clinging to childhood. I’m cleaning out my room now, it’s taken 3 months with lots of scanning and recording. I still want to hold on. The most drastic one is the bear my parents got me when I was a baby. It is older than I am. It was always considered untouchable, but recently I put it in a trash bag, and it didn’t seem so bad. Also, when we were in Hong Kong, we didn’t see many of these childhood items, and we were fine.

We’ve talked about going back to Hong Kong, but I don’t really want to do it just to get our independence back. I’ve finally gotten over HK. We could use the time and money to do it here. I don’t want to deal with the crowds, the lack of space, and most of all, the bad air.