Welcome!

Hi! I’m Niki (I prefer that over Nicole), and I’m a digital artist from southern Ontario. I blog about things related to the arts, animation & film, anime & manga, food, video games, and writing.

If you’re interested in my design and animation work, I like to post what I’ve been working on here. I also dump sketches, fanart, and process work on my Tumblr, and lots of photos on my Instagram.

Dealing with Anger

I first found out about rage rooms through a video shared by George Takei on Facebook.

They're rentable rooms you can go in and smash things to let off steam. Simple, right? You're burning off energy and tiring yourself out in a safe and controlled environment. Exercise can do the same thing—particularly if you own a punching bag—or maybe you're the type that can crank up your music and lift weights or go for a run to blow off steam. Whatever works!

A handful of critics argued on Mr. Takei's post that venting anger in "violent" ways triggers a reward response that encourages you to continue being violent. What irked me was that someone followed up with "best to swallow your pride and be humble".

I would argue that 1, there are far more dangerous outlets, and 2, "swallowing your pride" isn't necessarily helpful either. Physical outlets are effective in that they burn away the physical energy that could act as a barrier to calming yourself down and thinking rationally.

I find it very difficult to keep being mad or even worried if I'm too tired to do so. Burning off energy is way better than trying to go to sleep with your mind racing a mile a minute, and not being able to think clearly the next day. Why demonize a method that works?

Another reason why letting off energy is important is if you're trying to talk about your problems while would up, and someone is actively policing your tone, telling you "calm down" or "talk softly", you're less able to do either.

Also, "be humble" reads as an attempt to minimize the problem at hand, rather than being willing to work through it. I can appreciate that some have found success relying on mindfulness or relaxation techniques, but they're not for everybody. Some—like myself—need help with concepts like letting go. Drive-by prescriptions of drastic life changes have never helped anybody. If anything, they stand to heighten blood pressure and feed self-doubt.

Until next time,

~Niki

Time Travel Dream

I always used to have dreams where I was packing for a big family move or a trip of some sort. I still do sometimes. Sometimes I’m reenacting my last move, other times there’s some natural disaster about to happen and I’m trying to pack up as much as I can.

When I was little, we moved into a handful of different places. One of them my Dad couldn’t live in due to some overgrown bush out back that gave him bad hives—eyes swelled shut kind of hives—but otherwise it was a nice house. Mom used the attic for a sewing room, but I know if we’d been able to stay there I would’ve tried to convince her to let me use it for my bedroom.

Another place we suspect was haunted. Both parents saw the same shadow of a man with a hat a few times and I was the obligatory baby that woke up and freaked out. The landlord later disclosed that a man had died there and it had taken some time for anyone to notice. I don’t remember any of this because I was too young, but I’ve been given accounts from both parents.

The last house I lived in before moving closer to Toronto was next door to another girl my age. The yard was a nice size with a big tree and a hill, and if you went through the back gate you were in the parking lot of a grocery store. It didn’t have an actual garage, just an overhang with a wall of patterned cinder blocks.

After that, we lived in the same house for 15 years. A part of me thought moving around was fun and I drew a lot of plans and diagrams for what my next place would look like. Now that I’ve been living in this apartment for so long, I kind of miss having a deck and a basement. Maybe wishing so much was a mistake. Sometimes I feel like I jinxed what we had all because I wanted the adventure of exploring a new living space for the first time.

Which brings me to last night’s dream: I was back at the house again, but every so often while packing it’s like I skipped back in time a bit and found more things to pack—things I thought I’d lost and was happy to see again—but there was always another box to fill and I knew some things would get left behind. The last time we moved we did leave a lot behind. We left things we wouldn’t be able to take with us because there was no room, it was water-damaged from a recent basement flood, or we didn’t have time to pack and sell it. Our landlady told us not to worry about it and had some people come in afterwards to clean anything up that was left. 

Mom even had retail fixtures left over from a place she used to work that closed—which are very handy if you need cabinets and hear of a store closing soon. My local Zellers was selling shelving and displays for under $500 in some cases when they closed.  Anyway, she left behind a big drawer that used to hold sewing patterns but was repurposed as a TV stand because it held a lot of movies. Nearly every VHS we owned fit in it with room to spare—all out of sight unless opened. I hope whoever eventually got it found a use for it. Maybe they painted it. It was still varnished but the colours were pretty dated; think orange and brown.

I think there was another shelf she used in the laundry room that was huge enough to hold stacks of fabric. That was another thing we had to get rid of, most of Mom’s old fabric. She got thousands of dollars worth from one of her fabric store jobs because she’d be asked to put together a piece for a display and whatever was left she’d get to keep. She could’ve opened her own fabric store easily. Other than that there was a hole in the wall we pushed it in front of. When we first checked out the house before moving in years ago I remember there being a dog belonging to the owner who had puppies. Imagine a basement wall and puppies keep jumping through it as people are trying to have a conversation. Obviously none of them or their mother stayed with us but the hole was just there and yeah. Out of sight, out of mind.

Moving on…

Before I woke up we were loading things into the minivan to take over to the new place, and Dad started acting funny, like he was thinking of taking some of my stuff. He then turned into a woman who I chased out to the car. I don’t know who she was, or why that dream came about, but it’s sort of a left field scenario for me.

It would be nice to find a place that’s roomier than here but I don’t think that will happen. I’d need to have a really good-paying job and that’s a story that could take up an entire blog post.

Until next time,

~Niki

Fidget Cube

The second half of my last Amazon order came in today—my fidget cube! It came with a little plastic carrying case with a removable insert. Minimal packaging, but practical because it can be re-used.

Originally, I thought I ordered pink and white, but red and white doesn’t look too bad. One thing I noticed on mine that seems different from pictures is the toggle switch. It’s a classic power switch like you’d find on an appliance or power bar. I kind of like as a gag but others might not.


It’s also a bit louder in the clicking department than I envisioned, but I want to see how it is after I’ve been using it for a while. I imagine it will feel less stiff after it’s been broken in more in general.

That’s it for today!

~Niki

Poem #21

I think I’ll just do poem a day sporadically for now, whenever an idea strikes.

It’s not that it’s my fault,

maybe the timing was just bad.

People sing upbeat songs,

until one day there’s happiness to be had.

Years of hopes, wishes, and expectations.

Decades of dreaming of transformations.

I’m safe where I am,

that’s not to complain,

but I see you outside getting by in the rain.

If I step outside,

can I weather the flood?

Will my own instincts guide me?

Put fire in my blood?

I know I’m supposed to see you,

I don’t dare put the spotlight on me.

It detracts from the betterment of others, you see.

Do I dare feel good, when others don’t?

Do I dare stop trying, when others won’t?

Must I stop chasing this selfish dream of mine?

If I sacrifice what I don’t have,

will happiness be thine?

~Niki

Miraculous Ladybug

23f

It seems like so long ago now that I first saw the PV that was floating around on YouTube, and I got so excited about a magical girl series set in Paris!

Animation and Design are two fields that I’m involved in professionally, so of course I’m going to jump on the chance to take a peak at whatever process or behind-the-scenes stuff a major studio is willing to put out—even if the show isn’t specifically targeted at my age group.

I’m a little bit disappointed that the show we got wasn’t made in this style, but to its credit, there are still some half-decent magic effects. They’ve also kept in the rugging gag  where Ladybug and Chat Noir know each other as superheroes, but are unaware of each other’s civillian identities—and I love that!

Adrien’s character design and his civillian personality have changed from PV to television, but I suppose you could argue that the original Chat Noir was too big of a leap from PV Adrien’s more stoic personality. Still, I would have loved to have seen that play out! Marinette also seemed quite a bit clutzier in the 2D version, but that could just be me.

It’s interesting to see how the CGI has evolved over time as well. Some of the earliest 3D stuff seems to have a more cinematic quality, as if it were made more for film than TV.

In short, there are things I’m happy with and things I wish had stayed more faithful to the original material, but I’m still enjoying what the show has to offer.

Flood Dream

I made a post before about a fireball dream, and this time there was a flood (in my dream, although I have lived in a house where basement flooding occured).

I’ve had dreams about tornadoes and storms before, usually that I’m preparing for them by shutting windows or packing what I believe I’ll need before I leave. Packing also seems to be a common theme in my dreams as of late. It’s probably a manifestation of wishful thinking (I would like to be able to move into a bigger place). I don’t think it necesarily means I will travel, because I don’t have much desire to do so right now. Some people think that travel enriches you somehow and you should do as much of it as possible. That may be true, but I’m not holding my breath either.

Anyways, this dream was similar to those storm dreams in that I was beside a small bay as the water was just starting to get choppy (and most of my storm dreams take place either before or just as the storm is beginning), and then some neighbours were setting out sandbags. There wasn’t rain or anything, it was night time and it was really calm with high visibility. Only the water itself was active.

If it’s supposed to be a reflecion of my mental state, I suppose I’d believe it, especially since I like to be as prepared as possible in waking life, and that dreams like this would take place at a time when I would be preparing makes sense.

Monday Rants: YouTube

I’ve written this twice now, but because the first version was so long I decided it was best to shorten it. Anyhow, Google really needs to take another look at their comment moderation tools. I’ve said it before, a long time ago, but I didn’t think I’d be revisiting this annoying topic again this soon.

Correct me if I’m wrong—but did Google not do away with that ridiculous “neutral zone” theory? I remember back when Google+ was just rolling out (and even then there were probems with their “real names only” policy where people with uncommon names were being locked out and support, for whatever reason, just wasn’t helping them) that there was an introductory video explaining the concept of blocking vs muting. I’m still looking for it because I’ve recently had to mute somebody for doing some serious concern trolling and I want to make sure I haven’t falesly remembered it.

I know, Google has always favoured the tired “just ignore them” and “you can lock someone out of your house but if they visit your neighbour all you can do is leave” approach, so the likelihood of them actually changing anything (within the next 5 years) is slim to nil, but this is such a universal feature that I’ve come to expect it to be available on any internet platform: block a user and they’re invisible to you across the site. I’m secure in the knowledge that they cannot interact with me via that account, and I’m not tempted to interact with them. For Google to turn that around and put the blame on users for not having enugh wilpower to “ignore them” is a slap in the face. It would be different if you were paranoid enough to unblock someone to see if they’d been talking about you behind your back.

When you block someone on Facebook, their comments and profile become invisible to you unless you unblock them, and unless your profile is made public, they can’t see/interact with all of it when they log out either. Twitter blocking seems to work by blocking access to that person’s tweets, forcing a mutual unfollow, and otherwise making it impossible for them to message/interact with you on that account. From the looks of things, it’s not even that easy to block someone on YouTube because you have to make sure you’re doing it through both YouTube AND Google+, and some profiles don’t have a visible link to any Google+ page.

Another popular argument for keeping the block feature “as-is” is free speech, and that blocking can be abused in the name of censoring unwanted opinions—sorry? Blocking a user doesn’t have the potential to be used as a means of real censorship. If one user feels like “censoring” another, then it wasn’t a conversation worth having. My point is this: if blocking is to be marketed as a tool to prevent users from being harassed, it should function in a way that doesn’t undermine that goal. Blocking should always hide a user’s posts from the person that blocked them and limit interaction with that user on both sides.

Anyways, (unrelated) you may have noticed that my poem-a-day streak was interupted, and I may return to it soon.

Until next time,

~Niki