Underneath my yellow skin

Author Archives: Minna Hong

A little of this and a lot of that

I had a taiji class yesterday in which we did the whole Solo Form for the first time in…months? I think maybe since the whole pandemic started. The focus was on making sure that the knees weren’t locked, and by doing that, I didn’t get the backache I normally get. I was elated, and then, ten minutes after class ended (which was right after the Solo Form), I was hit with a blinding pain in my head. A migraine of epic proportion, and without warning. I mean, I’ve been having pre-migraine symptoms for a week, and I’ve been judiciously taking migraine pills, but I wasn’t feeling migraine-y before class. I don’t think I took pills yesterday morning (I’m trying not to overdo), but I certainly popped them after the pain.

The problem is that if I catch the migraine in time, then I’m fine with a very low level of nausea, pain, etc. If I don’t catch it before it’s full-fledged, then it’s bad days. Nausea, head pain, sensitivity to stimuli (more than usual), and general exhaustion. I popped two more pills this morning (two a day is the limit), but I’m still feeling the pain. It’s not as bad as it was yesterday while I was trying to tough it out, but it’s not as little as it would have been had I caught it in time.

I don’t want to say it’s the full Solo Form that triggered the migraine because one, I don’t believe it’s true. Two, I’ve been feeling pre-migrainey all week, so even if it was the event that popped the migraine, there was plenty of buildup to it. I don’t know what it is. Maybe the new foods I’m trying? They’re plant-based Italian sausage and plant-based whipped cream, so maybe there’s something in them that is a trigger. I’ve given up caffeine so it’s not that. Not eating much chocolate, either. Have added more fruits, though. At any rate, now, nearly 24 hours after the explosion, it’s finally starting to abate. A bit.

Veering sharply to another topic, there’s a post on Ask A Manager about an employee who cries all the time and feels everything deeply, sometimes even more so than the person she’s feeling for. The person writing in was her employer, and the employer wrote that the employee was a ‘self-described empath’. That set off people in the comments about how anyone who called themselves empaths were emotional vampires. And I sighed deep in my soul because of all the misconceptions. someone else likened it to vegans in which there were the loud self-proclaimed VEGANS and then there were vegans who just went about their lives and quietly ate their vegan food.

That person wasn’t far from wrong, nor was the person who said that the healthy empaths didn’t necessarily go around talking about it or calling themselves empaths. Nor the person who said that healthy empaths were often sought after because of their listening ear, and then burned out from being empathetic. I am an empath, and I don’t talk about it at all these days. It’s one reason I limit my interaction with other people because I can’t dheal with the negativity, even though it’s gotten better since I started taking taiji.


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Consent is hot as hell

I’ve been struggling with anger in the past week, and now it’s come crashing down around me and has settled into a thick goo of depression. i have a hard time finding motivation for anything, and I have a fatalistic viewpoint. I mean, I do in general, but it’s especially bad right now. I have the tendency to be negative, and the pandemic sure isn’t helping.

Side note: My right eye has been twitching for no reason. This has happened in the past, but not to the extent it’s happening now. In addition, my sleep has been really fucked over the days. Not unusual for me, but it’s reverting back to early days sleep, which is discouraging. I don’t sleep enough, and then I’m drowsy all day. Then, when I try to sleep, I’m suddenly wide awake.

As my readers know, I am a big fan of advice columns. I call them my stories, and I have a loop I do every morning. One of them is, was, Doctor Nerdlove, and I need to talk about it. I want to say before getting into the controversy that while I enjoyed reading his column, I did not like his podcasts or his videos. It was puzzling to me how someone who could write a good column with solid advice could not do videos/podcasts well (in my opinion, of course). In addition, while I agreed with his general advice, his specific tips in dating were borderline cringe-worthy to me. His idea of flirting was aggressive and skewed cliched, and if he were to his tricks on me in real life, I would be very turned off. That said, his general advice was sound, and I allowed it to overcome the grimace I always had when I read his specific advice. This is relevant to the rest of the post, I promise.

So, there has been a spate of stories about sexual harassment in different branches of geek culture. Games and comic to be more specific. Doctor NL wrote a post about a mentor of his who was accused of…not exactly sexual harassment, but of sexualizing the attractive young women in his forum in a way that would assume de facto pressure. He had a lot of clout in the industry (comics), and a leg up from him would do a lot for someone’s career. Add to that the fact that comics are still largely white dudes, and it’s easy to see how he could use his power for evil.

In the comments, there were people who didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. Distressing, but common. There was one dude who ‘just wanted to understand’ and kept asking questions. It was clear that he really did want to understand, but he was coming at it from the wrong angle. I had a Twitter interaction with an Asian friend that was crashed by a rando who was ‘just asking questions’ about a racial issue, but it became quickly clear that he wasn’t arguing in good faith. I muted him and moved along with my life. In the above case, however, it didn’t really matter that the guy was arguing in good faith because the starting point was so different for him and for the actual situation. He didn’t think the behavior was bad enough to classify as damaging, which was pretty myopic of him. But, it’s sadly common in that people often feel that they are the standard of norm. I’ll delve more into that in the future.

A few days after this, the doc then penned a post about his own situation. He was at a con in 2017 and was flirting with a woman at a bar. He’s in an open marriage, so there’s nothing there (unless he didn’t mention it to the woman involved). By his own recount, they flirted and had chemistry. He thought it was going well, so he reached over, gently wove his fingers through her hair, and lightly tugged.


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Hodge-podge by gosh

So. I’ve been trouncing my way through Lordran again, this time on the PS4. I’m doing it so I can help Krupa on his DS III plat run for the very first time ever! Usually, I’m the ‘well, actually’ gal in the chat, asking him if he has a moment to talk about our lord and savior, Vamos. He was a blacksmith in the original game, and he was the one who turned your weapons into fire and chaos. So, we pyros decided he was our god. After the last stream, I decided to try to tone it down a bit because it can be too much. In addition, in an aborted session, he mentioned that this run was mostly just to finish NG. He said if he was about to miss something important to tell him, but not something that can be had on a subsequent run. I think it’s because we were all shouting at him about the Sage Ring last time, but it’s really good for a caster.

But, yeah, I’m marching merrily through the game, and I’m up to the Duke’s, er, Grand Archives–right before the Twin Princes and my beloved Lorian’s Greatsword. I have the stats to wield it, and I have all the base stats I want. Well, maybe I could throw a few more into Dex so I can use Black Knight weapons in the DLCs, if I do the DLCs. I don’t need to do them to help Krupes, but I don’t like skipping. Plus, it’s a good way to beef up my stats.

Krupa is up to the Cleansing Chapel and promises an extra-long session on the Fourth of July. I find it amusing that he’s doing it on America’s Independence Day, but that’s a Brit for you. I was ready to go last time (for the aborted session), but I wasn’t feeling great about it because my character is so damn fragile in the beginning. I have to get 12 levels of Attunement for my spells to start. Then, to use my favorite pyromancy, I need 6 in Intelligence. One in Faith for  Tears of Denial, but if I want to–wait. I’ll get to that in a minute. I like to use the longbow for many things, and that’s 5 in Dex. My base for Vigor and Endurance is 20, and I start with 11 and 10 respectively. My Vitality starts at 8, and I drag it up to 10 to begin with. Ideally, I like it at 15.

Let’s get even more specific. Strength-wise, I need 19 for my beloved Executioner’s Greatsword. By the way, shout-out to an overlooked weapon. It has low necessary requirements for a greatsword, and you get mana back with each kill. Focus Points, yeah, yeah, yeah. My even more beloved Lorian’s Greatsword takes 26 in Strength, and I have that. I was behind in Faith, however, because my favorite chime, Crystal Chime, takes 18 points of Faith. When I found it in the Grand Archives, I eagerly went back to upgrade it and realized to my dismay that I was one point short. I was able to level up one more time, and I’m set.

Here’s the thing. From now on out, I can level whatever I want. This is the point where I finally feel as if I’m swinging in my weight class. To be clear, I haven’t had much trouble with the game. I mean, I’ve played it so much that I can do it in my sleep. Oh! I will say, though, that with the help of a message, I found a chest I’d never known was there before. Or if I had, then I’d forgotten and hadn’t opened it in the last dozen or so times I played the game. That’s one thing I adore about FromSoft games–there are so many secrets, you can go for years without knowing them all.

I’m back to loving the game after my month-long hiatus. The not-plat run nearly broke me, so I’m overjoyed that I can play the game again and with pleasure. Still don’t love the PS4, but I’ve gotten used to it. I still can’t play for more than an hour or so, but that’s because of my outdated TV.

I’ve been trying out games that have caught my eye for one reason or the other. Summer Steam sale is a go, and I’ve been picking up things with abandon.


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Weight of my world

I’ve been wanting to lose weight for quite some time. Pretty much my whole life, actually.  My mom put me on a diet when I was seven, saying that I had ‘such a pretty face’ that it was too bad I was so fat. Those might not have been the exact words, but that was the underlying sentiment. For the next quarter of a century, that was something that came up all the goddamn fucking time. She rattled on and on about my weight, and she couldn’t even pretend it was about my health. Well, she could try, but I was smart enough to notice that when I was in my anorexic phases, the only comments she made were of jealousy–such that I had a smaller waist than she did. It was very easy to see that it wasn’t about health–it was solely about looks and weight. I had to tell her in explicit terms in my…wanna say early thirties that she was not to mention my weight at all. She did not take kindly to that, but I didn’t care.

In the past few years, I’ve become painfully cognizant of how fat I am. I mean, I know I’m fat. It’s not a surprise. As much as I try not to look in the mirror, I still catch myself on occasion. Most of the time, I quickly look away. However, once in a while, I stare in horror before looking away again. I hate the way I look except for my hair. Love my hair. Which is still growing. It’s a hoot and an amazement given that it didn’t grow for two decades.

I will state that I don’t give a shit about my health. Well, not overtly, anyway. It’s a big by-product of doing taiji, but I never paid it no mind. I only cared about the martial arts aspect, and if it was good for my health and mental health, well, then that was an added bonus.

Anyway, I’m trying to cut down on meat as I mentioned in my previous post. I used to eat two to three servings a day, and I’m down to one or two. My ideal is two to three a week for now, but it’s still early days yet. I just had the last of the Beyond Italian Sausages, and I’m sad that I don’t have any more. They were so incredibly juicy and had a nice spice to them. They tasted exactly like Italian sausages, and I would gladly sub them for meat any day of the week. I have a package of ground ‘beef’ (also Beyond) in the freezer that I’ll fry up later in the week.


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Channeling my inner Furiosa

The first four months of lockdown, I was holding it down fairly well. Yes, there was a low level of anxiety and my sleep went to shit, but I was mostly fine on the daily. I’m not saying it was easy, but I did not feel the overwhelming stress and depression that other people did. I’ve mused as to why that is–PTSD means I’m best when it’s the worst-case scenario because then my inner world matches the outer world. In addition, I’m already pretty much a hermit, so it wasn’t that big an adjustment. Sure, my productivity took a hit, but I got done what I needed to do, even if it took much longer.

Now, however, that we’ve entered the reopening stage, this has changed drastically. I’m fucking pissed off. Why? Because Americans fucking suck. We fucking suck so hard. Texas and Florida are spiking again, and the governors are acting as if they’re surprised. ‘Whocuddaknown?’

via GIPHY

EVERYONE IN THE FUCKING WORLD?!?

Look. Back  at the very start of all this, I could understand the confusion. The experts were pooh-poohing masks and saying they were useless. The basic rules were there are no rules! Just, wash your hands a lot. But that was four months ago. Then it was acknowledged that staying six feet apart was the bare minimum (somehow, crystalizing into six feet is magical) to stay apart, masks are good even if we can’t get them, wash your hands repeatedly, and take as few risks as possible. The message has been the same for at least two months. Stay in if you can, mask up and physically distance yourself if you have to go outside, and wash your goddamn hands. Outside is better than inside. It’s not really that hard.

All the bullshit about the masks is just that–bullshit. What kills me is that it’s the same people who talk about going to war for their country. Going to war? You can’t even wear a fucking mask. Yeah, it’s much easier to be a keyboard commando than to actually do something in real life, isn’t it? I’ve written in the past about extenuating circumstances and understanding why people are champing at the bit to get out. But…right now….

I don’t fucking care. I’m furious, and I just want to punch every asshole in the face. Not every non-mask wearer because there are valid reasons, but the ones who are aggressively NOT wearing masks at people. Or coughing on people. Or trying to grab other people’s masks. Fuck allll the way off. If you want to endanger yourself, fine. But the problem is that in this case, you’re endangering everyone else as well. And it’s exponential. It isn’t just, well, you get sick and your spouse and kids get sick. It’s everyone they run into who is exposed, multiplied.

Fuck all of you. Fuck you hard. I’m trying to slowly reincorporate going out of the house again into my life, but it’s hard to do when I see people not wearing masks and not physically distancing themselves. It’s one thing if they are outside, but it’s another when it’s, say, the pharmacy or the gas station. I’m gearing for the grocery store, but the last time I went to my local co-op, it was a woman who worked there being unmasked and pushing her way through people that sent me into full lockdown mode. I may try to go to the co-op nearer to downtown, but it’s hard for me to even contemplate. I know I can leave if it’s too much for me, but just expending the energy is a lot.

In addition, it’s ninety degrees this week. I’m not a heat person at all. My taiji teacher mentioned having open practice sessions in the park once a week instead of an online class. My instant response was, “No fucking way.” Not because of the ‘Rona, but because it’s fucking summer. No way I’m doing anything outside in above 70 degree weather. By the way, this is another reason I’m angry. The relaxations on outdoor activities. Why? Because I’m allergic to everything, so I stay inside as much as possible, anyway. Whenever I used to get those allergy tests on my thigh, there would be twenty or so swollen bubbles that were hot to the touch. I have a bunch of foods that I react to as well, and it’s just fucking depressing.

But mostly I’m angry because the selfish assholes are making it harder on those of us who are at the highest risk. Or higher risk. I don’t think I’m highest risk, but I’m definitely higher than average with my shitty immune system. If we all take the maximum precaution and do our best with the recommendations, then it’s better for society at large. But, the anti-maskers aren’t having any of that. It’s freedom! It’s liberty! It’s MURIKA.

It may surprise people to know that I’m a libertarian in that I think people should be allowed to do what they want–up until the point where it harms someone else. That’s what’s going on right now, and I’m so fucking tired of it. In addition, we’re probably not going to have a vaccine for at least a year, more like two. I can’t do this for two years–not even me. I mean, I’ve joked about being hermetically sealed, but I do leave the house a few times a week. Now, I have a hard time even forcing myself to do my once-a-month pharmacy run.

At this point, I don’t know why I’m bothering. I hate the fact that I have to be extra-careful because there are so many assholes out there. I know that’s life, and I know it’s up to me take care of my own business. I’m going to do all that, but I can’t help the simmering rage that is boiling my blood. I’m hoping it’ll pass if I acknowledge it and let it have it’s say. Other than that, though, I have one last thing to say. Welcome to the Thunderdome.

Toxic masculinity and the gaming industry

With the news coming out about sexual harassment in comics, it was inevitable that stories of the same would come out in gaming as well. The two  are similar in terms of culture, and both are very laddy at best and a stew of toxic masculinity at worst. Even in the RKG group, I know there’s a base of laddishness that I have to accept. Inappropriate and quite frankly gross sexual jokes at time, tons of booze talk, and all the pop culture being referred to is masculine-heavy. Again, this is a group I willing belong to and have a good time engaging with other people to a certain extent. The only one. And in a very limited fashion.

When the news broke out that there was a lot of sexual harassment going on at IGN a few years ago, it didn’t surprise me in the least. Then, Chloi Rad posted this thread, and it made my blood boil (Ian alerted me to it):

I was furious, but I wasn’t surprised. It was obvious that Chloi wasn’t taken as seriously as they should have when they were at IGN. I was so happy when I first saw them because they were female-presenting (and in the closet at the time) and Asian. I loved their voice for being deep and husky like mine, and I loved that they knew their shit. I loved watching them play Soulsborne games, and I only wanted to watch them. But then, they started fading from the content, and I had a hunch it was because the powers that be didn’t want a woman (or someone who presented as a woman) as the face of the Souls games.

Side note: I love FromSoft games, obviously. I have written about them countless times. But, there’s something about them that brings out the worst in gaming culture. I think it’s partly the difficulty of the games and the way that gets hyped. I mean, the definitive edition on the PC is called Prepare to Die. This is one of the trailers for Dark Souls III. It’s funny as hell, but it also emphasizes the difficulty (and says ‘a man’ for the player character, when you can be either male or female).


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Never leaving the house again

I was borderline agoraphobic when I was in my late twenties. Hold up. Wait. back up. When I was a kid (stop groaning, yes, we do need to go back that far), I had no friends. I was a fat, socially-awkward, intelligent Asian girl in a very white suburb. My home life sucked as well, and I first thought about suicide when I was eleven. But even before then, I wanted to die. I didn’t like anything about life which has continued to this day. Wait. Back up again. I don’t want it to sound like every moment of my life is terrible. It isn’t. For the most part, it’s just that everything is low-grade meh. When I’m really depressed, life is torture. There are mornings when I open my eyes, and I immediately want to close them again forever. For the most part, though, it’s just me dragging my flattish (but not as flat as before taiji) ass off the couch and going about my business.

After college, I had a period of chronic and deep depression. There were days when all I could do was brush my teeth, and I would consider that a win. Now, I brush my teeth three times a day every day (and floss three times, too), but there are several things I leave undone. I don’t do laundry until I don’t have anything else decent to wear. Many people do that, I know, but it can be a month or two before I really feel the need. Given that we’re in a pandemic, it’s not as dire at it would be otherwise, but it’s still a factor of my depression.

At that point, I didn’t leave the house except to go grocery shopping and to get my meds once a month. Even that was a struggle, but I managed to get it done. Two things helped my depression–therapy and taiji. The two Ts, as it were. I reached a point where I was going out for my taiji classes three times a week, went out with friends once a month or so in addition to my normal errands. It was enough for me, and I was less blah than before.

Fast-forward to the coronavirus and the lockdown. The last place I went to (except pharmacy and gas station) was a nearby coop. This was late February/early March. I wasn’t wearing a mask, but I kept my distance as best I could and had my sweatshirt pulled up over my hands so I didn’t have to touch anything with my bare hands. This coop is small, and the aisles were narrow. It would be hard for two carts to go through an aisle at the same time, for example. I was already feeling slightly panicky, but at least most of the workers were wearing masks and gloves.


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Even more alienated than usual

I’m depressed. This is not new or unusual as I’m depressed all the time, but  I’m even more depressed than usual. Why? There are several reasons. One, obviously, Covid-19 and racism. Two, it’s summer. I fucking hate summer. Heat is the absolute worst. Three, I’m spending too much time online. This is my life in general. I tend to take negative opinions too much too heart, and it’s easier to do absence of context. I was reading a question on Ask A Manager, and it was about deliveries not being done correctly. The person asking (OP) wondered if she should go to management. She was very careful to say that she knew it was last resort and she didn’t want to get the person in trouble, but she wasn’t happy with the issues (not wearing masks, demanding she answered the door, etc.). Most people were pragmatic about it–talk to the delivery person through a closed door, put up signs, etc. But a small minority castigated the OP, calling her cruel and said that she was outsourcing her risk to others.

Now, let me be clear. They’re right. She’s paying someone else to take the risk that she isn’t. I know that I’m doing the same thing, and I’m profoundly grateful to the people who do my work for me. I’m not even taking issue with the ‘check your privilege’ attitude because it’s a good thing to recognize where you have privilege in order to decide what to do with it. What bothers me is that by throwing that out there, they are completely shutting down any communication that can be had on the subject. Scolding someone feels good in the moment, but it doesn’t really add to the conversation. I know I’m biased in this case, but I’ve always felt this way. Even when I’m the minority. Yelling at people about how awful they are isn’t going to get them to change their minds. I’m not saying don’t call out the issues, but name-calling and putting others down is not the way to do it. In addition, it can amount to bullying, which I see happening too often online.

In this case, some people pointed out that one person doing the shopping and delivery for a bunch of other people did cut down on the danger in general. They got jumped on, too. Again, I’m not disagreeing about the base point, but it’s more nuanced than that. In addition, the people typing angrily about privilege, well, they have it as well. They have something they are typing on, most likely a cell phone. Which was probably made in China and boxed by people at Amazon or somewhere similar. Places with miserable working conditions, and in some cases, the places had people jumping off the roof to kill themselves so they wouldn’t have to keep working.


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A potpourri of personal opinions

free to be me!
My ridiculous big hat and my ridiculous big frostbite hammer.

I beat those four goddamn days in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! The ones I was moaning about in last week’s post. Two of them turned out to be not so difficult once I fiddled and cheesed in a different way than I normally would. The last two, however, gave me much agita. I’ve talked before about how there’s a thin line between ‘hard, but fair’ and flat-out ridiculous. Because I’m a FromSoft fan (and we’ll get to them more later), I know all about difficult. That’s pretty much all many people want to talk about when discussing their games. To me, it’s the least-interesting aspect of the games. Yes, they’re difficult. And what? Funnily, I was watching Dan Tack from Game Informer talk about them, and he’s probably one of the biggest FromSoft fans in the business. He even thinks Dark Souls II is a brilliant game. He has stated more than once that he doesn’t enjoy talking about the difficulty of the games, and he leans firmly in the ‘hard, but fair’ camp. Anyway, they were talking about the difficulty (because you have to when it comes to FromSoft games), and Tack mentioned that he felt the last boss of Sekiro was ridiculous. Later, Andrew Reiner asked him if he thought it was too much. He hemmed and hawed, but in the end, he said it was.

That was the first time I’d ever heard him say anything in any FromSoft game was too much. I happened to agree with him, but that wouldn’t be the only boss in that game I thought was OTT. Interestingly enough, it was also his least-favorite FromSoft game while Bloodborne is his favorite. He said it was because you’re restricted in how you can play the game, which is true. There is no RPG element; you play as a set character; you have the same katana throughout the game. No new armor, either. You’re Sekiro, and you’ll like it. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like the game as much, either, but I feel Bloodborne is similar. Yes, there are different ways you can play, but it’s still more limited than in the Souls series.

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Feeling hopeless in the time of Covid-10

I was talking to my mother last night as she prepared to go to another city (also in Taiwan) where she did some teaching. She and my father were going, and they were going to have dinner with some friends they hadn’t seen in some time. The reason it’s notable, of course, is because we’re still in a pandemic, but it’s one that Taiwan handled admirable and is mostly past at the moment. That’s not to say they can’t have another spike or they should relax their strictures too much, but for the moment, they are sitting pretty.

So much so, my parents can’t quite seem to grasp how terrible it still is in America. I can’t really blame them, though, because many Americans don’t seem to get it, either. My dad keeps talking about when they can come back to visit, and I just wanted to scream at him. My parents are almost eighty and both had major surgery in the last two years. My mom’s had two in the last year. My father is in terrible health in general, and did I mention we’re in the middle of a pandemic? Not to mention that it’s nearly 24 hours of travel, and it’s easy to see why this is a terrible idea. They usually come at the end of July/beginning of August, and I really stressed to them that it would not be a good idea, and then my dad was like, “Maybe October?”

I just can’t. We haven’t even hit our peak yet, and the prediction is a spike in fall. I am emphasizing that Christmas is the earliest feasible time, and even that seems to be too soon for me. If I can’t convince them not to come, then I’m just going to stay in the basement all the time and not interact with them.

That aside, we were talking about what Taiwan had done in the early days (aggressive tracking, masking, and fining for breaking the rules) to be so successful and how that wouldn’t fly here because of American exceptionalism/individualism. I pointed out that with the various social issues America has, tracking could be problematic. That aside, however, I agreed that America was too individualistic for something like that to take effect. It doesn’t help that our pols are either clueless or willfully ignorant, and the pros have been offering conflicting information since the very beginning.

I mentioned that I felt hopeless about the whole thing because I was doing my bit, but it didn’t matter. Things were opening up, and we were going to see more cases in the near future. I went to the pharmacy and the gas station today, and there was a worker at the pharmacy who had her mask dangling by her ear. I internally rolled my eyes, but I didn’t say anything. Then she came out into the lobby to fiddle with the merchandise (probably restocking). Did she pull the mask back on? I couldn’t tell, but she didn’t have it when she came out the door and passed by me within three feet or so. In a fucking pharmacy! What is the fucking point if you’re going to dangle it from one ear? Then, at the gas station, the workers weren’t wearing masks (though behind plexiglass) and less than half of the customers were wearing them. I got out of there as quickly as possible, and I breathed a sigh of relief once I got home.


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