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On The Topic Of Guilt

I mentioned before that one of the reasons I had stopped blogging for four years was the death of one of my close friends, and the circumstances around it. And I had mentioned that I had made a Reddit post talking about it, and probably would repost that here when I did. At the time there was nothing more to think about then that. But the actual Reddit post I made in question was primarily a discussion thread of the game Doki Doki Literature Club, which suddenly became relevant again now because of the new expanded version that just got released, Doki Doki Literature Club Plus. So, well, I guess that's relevant discussion now, so I should go ahead and repost that topic now instead of waiting even longer.

Because the thread is both spoilers for DDLC, and actual content warning for the topic of suicide, I'm going to put it behind a spoilers block. I had to add additional functionality to my blog to be able to support this in the RSS feed to filter out the tag so spoilers/content warnings don't show up elsewhere in news feeds, which I started a while back but only finished now to post this right now.

The rest of this entry is how I originally posted it on Reddit on 7 December, 2017:

Show spoiler

MC's Reactions and Survivor's Guilt

I hadn't really seen much discussion on this aspect in particular, probably because it's just a small amount of the dialog for the end of Act 1, but it's been sticking in my mind for the last few days since I played the game, and replayed to get all the endings, there's something that's stuck out to me, that's been eating at me since I did. and even thinking about what to write here is hard, and has me shaking. but I want to say this. I need to say this. let's talk a bit about the MC's reaction at the end of Act 1 to finding Sayori's body, and what that's like

the MC's reaction after finding Sayori is the perfect example of the survivor's guilt someone feels when losing someone to suicide. I know, I've been there. last year, just about this time in fact, a week before Christmas one of my best friends, whom I had known for almost fifteen years committed suicide. and at the time, he was one of my roommates. and I'm the one that found him

it was a Monday. I had just gotten back from a business trip the day before. I arrived late at night, and my friend was asleep, snoring in a strange manner. he had gotten sick that previous week, so I just figured it was because of that. the next day came, in the morning he was sleeping quietly. I went to work, came back home, went about my day. but I hadn't heard from my friend that day. as I got to the end of the day, I got a little concerned because of his illness. and I hadn't heard from him at all that day. I asked my other roommate, and he hadn't either. so i peeked into his room. he was lying there, didn't seem to be moving. I went over to try and shake him awake, and found him stiff. I put my hand to his face, and it was ice cold.

writing this is hard, because it's bringing me back to that night. we called the police, I called his parents. his dad was going to drive out, but they lived about an hour away now (my friend had moved in a couple months before, they used to live a block away but his family had to move north because the homeowner they were renting from decided not to renew their lease to sell the house instead). my concern from the call was that the illness he had had gotten serious, and I held some small hope that maybe if they rushed him away they could save him, but once the police arrived on the scene everything came crashing down. he was confirmed dead, and also as they inspected his room (which I did not do), they found a suicide note, and alcohol and some medications

MC: "What the hell? Is this a nightmare? It has to be. This isn't real." And yet, it was.

I had first learned about six months earlier that he had depression, and he had tried drinking himself to death once before and was rushed to the hospital for it. at the time, when he admitted that to me and my other friends, he had said he was getting help and didn't want to do that again. and we thought things were fine. he never said he was in a particularly bad place before it happened. he had lost his job the week before, but he had said he was fine with it because he had enough money for the next month, so he could worry about finding another job after Christmas, and he didn't really like working at that place much anyway. the last things he messaged me while I was out of town on my business trip was him trying to figure out what to do for building a computer for one of his brother's for christmas. the very last message I received from him was him talking about some new flavor of Rockstar he bought that he was going to buy more of

the next day was dark, for his family, my roommate, and me. his father worked at my same company, and didn't go to work that day. I tried going in to work. my team was having a potluck that day. I could barely eat anything, and I ended up breaking down there, and my supervisor let me go home. I went out to my car, called my mother, and finally broke down there on the phone telling her what happened. I then went out, picked up my mother, and we drove up to the mountains and just sat there in my car watching elk for a few hours, talking about nothing really. it was comforting. after that I went home, took a nap, then went to talk to one of my church leaders, who told me about his own brother having committed suicide within the last few years and how he'd handled it. it was helpful talking to someone who had gone through it.

to cut the story short, and not give the whole outline of the way my next month went, let me then move to the topic. the survivors guilt. for weeks before it subsided, I had to wonder. where did I go wrong? what could I have done differently? on the surface, it seemed he was fine at the time. nothing in his conversation beforehand let us know he was having a low point. while I was out on the business trip, his dad had come down and they had gone Christmas shopping for the family together, and he said he seemed perfectly fine to him. as MC puts it, "Everything was normal up until a few days ago." so what could I have done? "How could I be so helpless? What did I do wrong?" was it because we weren't having enough time to spend hang out? for a long time we would get together and watch anime and TV together several times a week, but the few months before that made it really difficult once he had moved up north, and then once he had moved out of his family's place and moved in to be one of my roommates his job schedule and mine didn't line up. that was one of my thoughts. If I had only spent more time with him lately, then maybe I could have seen he was hitting a low point. If I had been more dilligent in making sure he was alright after losing his job. "My swarming thoughts kept telling me everything I could have done to prevent this. I could have prevented this. I know I could have prevented this!"

and it's never really gone away. as time has gone on, it got lessened, a lot of it because of some good advice from my church leader after dealing with his own loss - that, no, it's not my fault, it was his decision, and only he really knew what was in his mind at the time. my church leader's brother had killed himself with a gun. he just knew that if he went and took that gun from him he would have kept him from committing sucidie, but the truth is if he had been that determined he would have found a different way to do it. driven his truck off a cliff, or something else. that's the survivor's guilt. the weight that gets left on you by the loss, thinking that it was somehow directly your fault, and there was something you could do to change it, when it wasn't. and you can't. you can help, you can love them and hold them close and do whatever you can for them, but, in the end, if they're going to do it, it's their choice, and you can't change that. even if you wanted to, you can't go back.

but it still lingers. memories bring it back. memories come back, reminding us. his father sits next to me at work now, and turned to me a few months ago and said he saw someone that looked just like him on the train that morning. just a few hours ago I saw someone at a card shop that looked just like him, except with a different hair color. a card shop, in fact, that he had applied to work at back before he got the last job he had before his suicide. flashes of anxiety as my thoughts go back to that night when I don't have anything else to think about. losing someone to suicide is hard. being the one to find them is brutal. I still have nightmares about it from time to time. or other related dreams. I had one just the other day that he was alive again because he was cloned or something. I had one in October that he wanted to hang out, but I wasn't around to meet up with him. in summer I had one that he was still alive, but was still planning on suicide and gave us a date, with my other roommate and I trying our damnest to talk him out of it to no avail. that one was brutal, and I dont think I slept the rest of the night after waking up at like 2 in the morning form that one

but to finish my post, because now I've got anxiety so bad that I need to go take a walk through the below-freezing cold outside just to calm down, these are my thoughts. this game. this game. this bloody brilliant game. Dan said in the AMA I believe that he did draw from real-life experience as part of writing this, and, bloody hell, it's clear to me that he did. because right there, in that tiny fragment of dialogue, everything I've felt for the last year is so perfectly laid out. but as this is reality, there's no escaping it by rewriting the game. this, truly, "isn't some game where I can reset and try something different." but I made a choice. to try and escape the survivors guilt. not to "carry this guilt with me until I die", but to try and let it go. to try and move on.

it's a process. every day it's a process. coming up on the year anniversary of it happening, and playing this game, now makes it more of a process than ever. I hate this game. and I love this game. I hate this game for making what happened come flooding back to me, and I love this game for making me remember so much that I need to accept it, move on, and not let it destroy my mind and my life too

Date posted: 27 July, 2021
Tags: personal

Name Meaning of a Real Person

Following up last entry about name etymology, let's do another one, and this time for my own name. This one's another one from my old list of entries to write. And it's probably the beginning of the list, the oldest thing on there that I'd yet to write, because it came to me when I was was doing a full watch of Lost. That was several task lists ago so I don't have a date on the note creation exactly, but I think that was summer of 2015.

When it comes to names, and particularly my name, one thing that comes to mind more often is not Lost, but actually Stargate. I think its brought up a few times over the course of the show, but there's one particular scene that comes to mind where Daniel Jackson explains the meaning of the name, which is 'God is my judge'. With that setting the stage, we move onto Lost, and the character of Daniel Faraday. I can't find any Youtube clips of this one offhand, but I had made this note to write this because of several times in Lost where - without any further addressing of it - he would be called Dan by someone and he would correct them that it's Daniel.

There is a particular reason for this, when you think about name etymology. Dan isn't simply just a diminuitive form of the name Daniel, but also has additional meanings of its own. Even in the same language origin, Daniel has similar meaning in Hebrew as Dan, but they have different origins. Both are Biblical names, but Dan (where by itself just means 'judge') is the name of one of the tribes of Israel, whereas Daniel comes much later, and is most famously associated with the man thrown to the lions. Myself, I was named particularly for that person. And in the Bible, Dan, the head of the tribe, is described as to be the judge of his tribe members, which is itself rather far from the meaning of Daniel, honestly. And that's just one of the etymologies of Dan, because there's also Dan's with English and Scandanavian origins.

As consequence, of course, there's people with particulars for the name. For Daniel Faraday in Lost, for Daniel Jackson in Stargate, and for myself. For me, it's kind of a special sticking point, just because for some reason ever since I'm a kid everyone's always called me by my last name, rather than my first. It's somewhat inevitable with people I'm friends with, and there's no avoiding that, but if it's not an aquaintenace then if I get asked for a preference than I will say Daniel. There are some friends that do call me Dan, including another one who specifically himself has Dan as his preference, but what I actually consider to be my name goes by the meaning of the name. I am Daniel, and God is my judge.

Also it's not 'Danielle', Mr. Whatever-your-name-was French teacher in my Jr High that also did the detentions. I don't care that it's 'a nice distinguished French name', my name is Hebrew, thank you very much.

Date posted: 24 May, 2021
Tags: names

Name Meaning of a Fictional Person

Long, long ago, back when I started playing Final Fantasy XI in 2004, I created a character, a simple human woman named Exelia. I've reused this character multiple times, in multiple video games, in D&D campaigns, and in stories I've written, all based on this same character and the archetype that's built over time for her.

When I first created the character, I didn't actually have anything in mind. The way Final Fantasy XI worked back then, you couldn't choose what server your character started on, it was assigned randomly. There was a way to get onto a specific server by getting a code from someone else already on that server, and I was planning on playing with some friends, but had a day before they could get me a code where I just played a throwaway character on a server to learn the controls and such. For the name of the character, I used the games built-in name generator, hitting that a bunch of times until I found something I liked. It was not Exelia at this point, though.

After I had the name, and since I had some free time, I had started just creating and deleting my character over and over, trying to land on the server I wanted to naturally. I never did, but I did find something else doing that: since the game every character name had to be unique, and you only had one name (the next Final Fantasy MMO, XIV, added a surname as well so there was less collision), and some of the servers I tried I couldn't join because someone else already had that name. I ended up rearranging the letters of the name, ending up with Exelia. At the time, according to what I could find on the internet, this was not a real name, either of a person or a business (since then a few businesses and a Youtuber have popped up with that name).

But.... Turns out that it isn't a fake name at all. Every so often, as I would make up new characters and look up name etymologies, I would try searching for a theoretical etymology for the name Exelia. And one day, suddenly there was a forum thread on a site discussing it as a real name. In this thread, someone looking at their family tree found the name belonging to their great grandmother, and was wondering about the meaning themselves. The thread has some discussion as they tried researching it, finding a few more instances of the name in 19th century Quebec, but since it was obscure and apparently localized to that region they couldn't come to a firm conclusion for origin.

Their best guess for the name was derived from the Latin word meaning 'to excel'. Another theory was that it derives from the hymn Gloria in excelsis Deo, with excelsis meaning 'the highest'. Either one is an interesting theory, but for the particular women in question who knows which it would be (or even something different) without anyone having family records from the time which talked about the meaning.

Of course, by the time I made this discovery, I had long since had to come up with a surname for the character. I had done it in a mind blank moment when creating my XIV character the first time, and used the name Antonov as I was working on my short story The Pocketwatch at the time and that was the only surname that came to mind. I then canonized it by writing her into a book as the younger sister of the Fiole Antonov character. So now she's a Russian woman with what we've now learned is a French Canadian given name. Ah well.

Date posted: 12 May, 2021
Tags: names

Educational Game - Mystery Solved

I've been meaning to write this one for a long time. It's part of my old list of articles to write from before I stopped doing anything with the blog in 2016.

So, long, long ago, I wrote a entry about some educational games at my elementary school, called Twist-A-Plotz, that I could never find any more information on. Every so often I would do searches when I remembered, and eventually I did finally find some information. Some random forum thread, where someone dug up a bunch of them and started backing them up and cracking them to remove the copy protection. It's been so long now since I meant to write this article that the forum that did the work doesn't even exist anymore, so I can't link to the discussion thread of the work, but luckily it did all get uploaded to the Internet Archive.

Turns out it's a software written by Scholastic, a series called Microzine. And the reason I couldn't find it before was because the actual Twist-A-Plotz game was just one of the apps on each Microzine disk, which also has monthly letters section and other things. And these aren't all exactly what I had in my school, either. All of these disks that were recovered and archived are Apple II software, where the school was running a network of IBM x86 machines (some 286's and some 386's). My guess, since Scholastic is the developers/publishers, is that Scholastic distributed the Microzine product to end users and schools still running Apple II machines, but also provided standalone x86 ports of the Twist-A-Plotz portions to schools that had replaced their Apple II's.

Unless my school happened to have some Apple II emulation going on on their x86 machines. Somehow, there in the mid 90s.

Date posted: 26 April, 2021
Tags: software video_games

Look At All This MIDI - Part 2

Look at this. Look at this wonderful UI. This the Korg M1 UI (this screenshot being the iM1 app in particular):

From working with iM1, I began to understand more and more complex patch creation that I hadn't before, such as the LA synthesis from the MT-32 I had bought years earlier. And I wanted more to play with. I began to amass some more hardware, building out a rack with multiple units in it. With the MT-32 now crazy pricy, I sold that off for much more than I originally bought it for, instead grabbing a roughly equivalent D-110. I also got newer Roland JV-2080, and a few expansion cards, and a Korg Triton Rack. Soon I had amassed a massively complex setup of multiple rackmount units, a mixer, a MIDI switch, and more... And that became a hassle I quickly grew tired of.

It was time to downsize. I gradually sold off all the hardware (except the D-110, because nobody wants to buy those), replacing it all with one single unit: the Roland Integra-7. The Integra-7 is a superset of their JV line, with the internal ROM of the XV-5080, and every single commercial expansion board ever made for it, as well as another set of un-editable presets on a special expansion ROM (including another return of the Touhou fandom's favorite patch RomanticTp, which I also since learned originated from one of the JV expansion boards before ZUN made it famous in the SD-90). The full JV library is all I was originally interested in, but it also has a second synthesizer engine that's meant for much more realistic natural instrument sounds. And it also has a third synthesis engine too, a Virtual Analogue synthesizer, which gives even more options. Way more than I was expecting to get out of it originally, it really is an insanely nice all-in-one unit, that's going on more than eight years of being manufactured because Roland's not made anything to succeed it.

Because I do travel a lot (or, well, did, stupid pandemic), there's a number of software plugins I use as well as the Integra. I've still got the SC-VA which I use occasionally, as well as the Korg Gadget collection of plugins, and their software Triton which they introduced last year. Additionally there's a few more retro plugins I use when I want to make older-style sound, such as a few chip simulators, a VST emulating the Ensoniq SQ-80, and there's a VST version of the Munt MT-32 emulator, too. I've got a number of songs that use multiples of those together, which sometimes my DAW doesn't like and crashes and I have to reload a few times until it opens correctly (not actually sure which plugin exactly is the offending one). The particularly nice thing is working together with the Integra-7, because that's an ASIO device so I can route sound out from my DAW into it to play together with the Integra, and while I only just recently finished the setup for this, I can have everything playing out from the Integra through my monitor speakers without a complicated setup like with my previous rack hardware.

There's a couple more pieces of hardware I have still: keyboards. Before I sold the Triton Rack back off again, I needed a replacement screen for it, because I bought it cheap as-is/parts only because it had bad lines. I had originally found a local listing for a Korg Karma and saw it had the same screen, and was going to buy it and swap them, but it sold before that. But as I read about that keyboard, being a Triton engine together with a crazy music generator, that sounded interesting on its own, so I bought one from an online dealer. The Karma engine is cool, but really complicated to use, and I've been on-again-off-again interested with it, and right now I'm sitting at not interested anymore and want to sell it off again. I also threw in the EXB-MOSS virtual analogue board in the Karma, after originally buying it for the Triton Rack and holding onto it, and while that's a crazy board and part of why I kept holding onto the Karma, I'm ready to part with it (but if Korg makes a VST version of tht unit someday I'll be dropping for it in a heartbeat).

The second keyboard I don't have as much of an excuse for. Last year in summer going pandemic stir crazy led me to buying a Roland FA-06, which is basically a keyboard with a stripped down version of the Integra-7's three engines. That doesn't really give me any benefit though, being a little nicer to edit patches directly on the unit than it is on the Integra's tiny screen, but more limited in ROM size so only 2 expansions can be loaded at once, so I finally got over it and will sell it again. Because of their bulky size, I don't want to try and ship them, so both keyboards are waiting for until I feel safe selling them locally because of the pandemic. Hopefully soon I can get vaccinated.

Maybe somebody will want the D-110 then, too.

Date posted: 22 March, 2021
Tags: musicmaking
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