The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Tag Archives: winter

A Reflection on Winter Solstice 2017

“While I relish our warm months, winter forms our character and brings out our best.” –Tom Allen

Today is the shortest day of the year for folks in the Northern Hemisphere, marking the beginning of winter, the one season that Canada is best known for. A fresh snowfall has blanketed the area in a quiet covering of white, obscuring the landscape and giving the world a semblance to that of a blank canvas, ripe for exploration. Even though I’m not particularly fond of winter for its long hours of darkness and bitter cold, there is nonetheless a beauty to this season that makes it one that has its own merits. It’s a sign of my age that I’ve begun regarding winter in a new manner: I still vividly recall remarking that I had a deep-seated dislike of winter, but as I’ve collected the years, I’ve come to accept the positives there is in this season. For one, there is no other time of year better suited for making a hot chocolate and reading a good book while snow is falling outside. On Sunday, I celebrated the Dōngzhì Festival (冬至, jyutping dung1 zi3) with family: each of the chicken, crispy roast pork, shrimps and 東菇 have a symbolic meaning corresponding with good luck, so a traditional meal will feature these dishes. With winter now upon us, the days begin lengthening once again, although in Canada, the heart of winter only really begins in January, after the Christmas decorations are stowed away and folks begin returning to routine.

  • To give an idea of how long I’ve been around for, this is my nine hundredth post. This year, autumn’s been remarkably mild, and it’s actually felt like spring for much of the year. It’s only been in the past few days where the weather’s been more seasonal, and with the recent snowfall, it’s finally beginning to feel like Christmas outside. Christmas is fast approaching: work, however busy it has been, is winding down for the year, and I’m looking forwards to unwinding a little during the break upcoming. If the weather permits, I might close the year off with a trip into the mountains and soak in our equivalent of the onsen in Banff, but for now, on my horizons are a hockey game, Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi and a variety of other activities.

I’ve typically done blogging awards during the Winter Solstice, but this year, I’m mixing things up a little. For one, I’ve been relatively inactive in the anime blogging community. The reason for this is simple enough: after work, I’m now less inclined to write and prefer relaxing, so my blogging output this year has not been of the same quality as the content I’ve previously written. Site readership has correspondingly seen a decline, and unlike other bloggers out there, who’ve either superior dedication to their craft or multiple authors (or both), I’m finding it more difficult to keep up: after a day of implementing software, designing things, writing unit tests or sitting through meetings, it’s a challenge to summon the motivation to write when one would rather sit down and close one’s eyes, so I admit that the posts I’ve written this year certainly aren’t my best. There are days where I feel as though I’m reaching the upper limits for hard work can do. I am curious to hear what you, the reader, make of all this. How would you handle stress and motivate yourself when things get tough? Finally, I’d like to thank all of you, the readers, for sticking around and contributing to the discussions: it is quite certain that I would not be finding the motivation to write were it not for insightful remarks that you’ve provided. I am not quite ready to call it quits yet for the present, and folks who were doubtlessly hoping I pack it up will need to be a bit more patient – I am going to continue running this blog until Girls und Panzer: Das Finale comes to a close.

More site awards on a Winter Solstice and the arrival of the 2016 winter season

“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.” —John Burroughs

At my latitude today, there’s only seven hours fifty-four minutes and eighteen seconds worth of daylight; we get nearly double that during the summer months, and unsurprisingly, the shortest day of year marks the Winter Solstice for this year. Winter descends upon us, a season characterised by cold mornings, ice crystals and much cursing while trying to negotiate transportation systems en route to work. However, in equal measure, there’s the opportunity to sip cocoas, hike a hill after a fresh snowfall and those odd days when adiabatic warming results from föhn winds coming out from the West, bringing unexpected warmth to frigid days. The Winter Solstice corresponds with the Chinese Dongzhi (冬至) festival, which appears to have crept up on me this year in comparison with last year. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that the days have been a blur since I began working; Christmas will be upon us in mere days, and by this point in the game, I’m done Christmas shopping for the family. Hence, I look forwards to enjoying the Christmas holidays. I don’t have a Master Grade Gundam model to build this year, but I do have a lot of books to read (among them, A Sky Longing for Memories: The Art of Makoto Shinkai and Calvin and Hobbes: It’s a Magical World), plus a pile of games that I’d like to mess around with (including Battlefield 1, Deus Ex: Mankind DividedHalo Combat Evolved and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader).

This post, however, is not entirely a report on Winter Solstice or what I plan to do with my winter holidays (à la a typical primary school assignment): as per its title, I have one other matter to deal with. Every so often, this blog is nominated for blog awards, and these pay-it-forward exercises are a fine opportunity to both answer questions from other bloggers that normally are not widely discussed, as well as figure out which blogs out there merit reading because they do something unique. This year, the blog was nominated for three separate awards by two different bloggers. I’ve gotten a second Sunshine Award from Yahari Bento, and from Crystal of Hooray for Something, I score a double kill with the Blogger Recognition and Unique Blogger Awards. I will first thank these two bloggers for their nomination, and secondly, remark that I have been horrendous when it comes to completing these posts in a timely fashion. This time, things are slightly different: I’ve gone ahead and completed the questions as stipulated by the awards, giving them their own separate pages. To access the pages for either award from anywhere in the site, the awards on this blog are tucked away under the “About Infinite Zenith” tab: hovering over the tab with one’s cursor with bring out a drop-down menu of all the blog awards I’ve got so far. With the bulk of the heavy lifting done, I will pick out five blogs each for the Blogger Recognition and Unique Blogger Award; I’ll deal with the Sunshine Award quite separately. Naturally, there are no obligations to complete these awards.

Unique Blogger Award

Blogger Recognition Award

Both awards ask for the recipient to thank the individual who nominated them. For folks looking at the Blogger Recognition Award, I believe this one is simple: provide a story of how your blog started and offer some advice for new bloggers. The Unique Blogger award leaves the floor open to the recipient for three questions, and I exercise that liberty here. If you choose to take on the Unique Blogger Award, here are your questions:

  1. Suppose you were offered a dream vacation to any destination in the world. Where would you go, and what factors generally drive where you decide you’d wish to go for vacations?
  2. The world is a remarkably cold and unfriendly place. What is a belief or idea that you hold that allows you to get out of bed each morning and face the world as best as you can?
  3. What was one anime that you’ve watched that left a non-trivial impact on your life, whether it be the way you interact with people, approach a problem or view the world?

I actually got off pretty easy from Crystal, whose questions were pretty straightforward to answer, but for my nominees, you will have no such luck. In the meantime, being inundated with other things, such as the Brave Witches discussion for the eleventh episode I’m scheduled to complete shortly, I will do as I’ve done last year. I will take a rain check on the actual task of writing the award pages themselves and redirect my attention back to the matter of the Brave Witches review.

Site awards on a Winter Solstice, or, the arrival of the 2015 winter holidays

“The pine stays green in winter; wisdom in hardship.” —Norman Douglas

By the virtue of time zones, Winter Solstice this year will occur at around 2240 local time. Marking the shortest day and longest night of a given year, the exact date and time often varies owing to astronomical factors, and from here on out, it’s now winter. I celebrated Dongzhi (冬至) yesterday with my family: our schedules are rather busy, so we won’t be celebrating tomorrow evening, which is Dongzhi proper. On Saturday, I attended a Halo 2 LAN party with some friends. Motivated by a wish to have the LAN party we’d dream about having since we were fourteen, we played Halo 2 simply until we couldn’t play any more and then drove to a pub near campus for a late-evening dinner (I ordered a sirloin steak sandwich with onion rings and mashed potatoes, and was pleasantly surprised to learn it was the evening special, so I got a five dollar discount on it). As the holidays draw closer, I’m pushing to finish my conference publication’s draft and revise it. I spent most of today putting in the citations into Bibtex format and added some figure captions to said paper, but it’s well over the page limit, so there are definitely things we’ll need to trim out. For my thesis work, my simulation is very close to being finished, and my main focus after the conference paper’s been submitted will be to return to my thesis paper: now that I’ve written about my model in some capacity, I’m feeling a little more confident about describing my implementation. With that being said, once I finish helping my supervisor grade this semester’s iOS projects on Wednesday, I’m taking a bit of a break from work, and will set my sights on building the Master Grade 00 Raiser I picked up last Winter. In the gaming department, I’ll spend several days unlocking some dog-tags for Battlefield 4, and will also begin the Battlefield: Hardline campaign. Once the new year rolls around, I’ll resume working on my thesis work, and begin the job-search anew.

  • This year’s autumn has been surprisingly mild thus far on account of El Niño, but I’m holding out for a colder, snowier winter that will replenish the water supplies up in the mountains. There’s a magic to winter about snow, namely, it’s quite peaceful to watch a snowfall in the knowledge that one needn’t go anywhere the next day. The remaining ten days of December are going to be modestly busy as far as posting goes: I’m going to do a short talk on Battlefield 4‘s multiplayer now that I’ve resumed playing it, a special topics post on Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?‘s Christmas episode, a review of the Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? finale and series as a whole, as well as a post for Life is Strange. In between all of that, I still need to create the award pages and then get into touch with the owners of the blogs specified below.

As per the post’s title, I am also here to discuss the fate of two blogging awards I was (not so recently) nominated for. The first of these is from Jusuchin of Right Wing Otaku: it’s the Creative Blogger Award, where I’m to outline five things about myself, then nominate a handful of blogs to pay it forward. This one’s been sitting in the to-do list since September, which gives an idea of how bad I am with requests (I’ve got a reader who’s been quite interested in reading me do a post on Life is Strange, and I’ve only just beaten episode one today, despite his requests dating back to June 2015). The second blogging award is the Free Spirit Award, nominated by All The Fujoshi Unite from the blog of the same name. This award differs in that I’m to talk about notions of insanity, and similar to the Creative Blogger Award, I’m to nominate a handful of blogs to pay it forwards after. Admittedly, I don’t actually follow many anime blogs, so what I’ll do here is nominate four blogs and allow them to pick either one of the awards they’d like to write about. I picked these blogs because they’ve got interesting content, and more importantly, they’re sufficiently different than what I do here that I’m quite curious as to how they’re going to reply to the questions I’ve got lined up for them.

For the nominees, you’re free to do one, both or neither of the awards. If you decide to go with the Free Spirit Award, your topic is solitude. With that being done, I’ll now take a rain check on the actual task of writing the award pages themselves (I do them as pages so they’re a little easier to find) and will do my best to ensure that they are completed before the year ends (so, I’ve got roughly ten days to do two whole award pages). For the present, I’ll return to my paper and take a look at the iOS projects I’m supposed to be helping evaluate: the former is still missing an abstract, and the latter, I’ve still to make some remarks on.