Reflecting on 2020

This has undoubtedly been an extremely tough year for many. While I did have my fair share of struggles, I am fortunate enough to have many things to be grateful for.

Let’s start with the challenges…

The challenging things

  • The stress and unknown of Covid19, obviously. Hard not to start there. The fears and strain of responsibility to protect those around me from getting the virus.
  • The physical aspects of my Anxiety got much worse. I had a period of weeks where my body was on high alert and couldn’t snap out of it and ended up in the emergency room with a panic attack. I tried new medication but it has come with downsides. I sleep nearly 12 hours every day as a result of it.
  • The anxiety was too bad for me to even go to the store and I had to rely on my husband to do the grocery shopping. I suspect many people with anxiety felt this way, too, due to the nature of the pandemic.
  • I’ve fallen out of my meditation practice.
  • I isolated too much and didn’t spend enough time seeing friends (in a safe way of course).
  • I dropped the ball on Dragon Mall Quest. There were many reasons for this. Mostly it had become too time consuming and I had to scale back my schedule. But even my scaled back schedule of one episode a month I haven’t stuck to. I also have some fears and mental resistance with it that I need to overcome. I’ll try to restart my efforts on this in 2021.
  • My business got audited by the IRS.
  • Crap tons of bug reports on For whatever reason these stress me out. Perhaps because I know I don’t have enough time to fix all of them and I feel like I’m letting my users down.
  • I gained back all the weight I had lost from dieting in 2018. At the start of the pandemic I reached for comfort food, especially frozen pizzas and it left a mark on my waistline. I attempted to restart my diet in the summer but without success.
  • I barely livestreamed this year. In part because it fell low in the priority list and also due to anxiety.

The things I’m grateful for

  • This was a fantastic year for PaperDemon. We made great progress in terms of community activity, product direction, development, and growth.
  • Dracostryx joining PaperDemon. This was a HUGE validating moment for PaperDemon and demonstrates we are on the right path and serving user needs. They’ve provided a lot of input to help us with product direction.
  • Meeting Shyftlock at ShrunkenHeadMan Con and having her join the PaperDemon staff. Learning from her about the Art RPG world was a huge benefit and helped inspire our product direction for PaperDemon.
  • I felt really productive this year with PaperDemon which was a big improvement over 2019. I was crippled by anxiety after some serious shit went down. But I found my groove in 2020.
  • I created lots of personal art. This was probably one of my most prolific years for my personal art since early college.
  • In addition to being prolific, I narrowed in on a personal art style. I might discuss this more in a future video.
  • Despite some initial financial fears triggered by the pandemic, we ended up being just fine financially. Mike’s job remained stable thank goodness.
  • I had support from a peer organized anxiety support group
  • No one in my family suffered seriously from Covid19. While a few got sick, no one ended up in the hospital. The spouse of one of my friends had a serious case and he landed in the hospital but he recovered, thankfully.
  • My sister-in-law gave birth to her first child. What a blessing!

I’m looking forward to 2021. While 2020 was a terrible year, perhaps the worst year ever for many, I wouldn’t say that was the case for me. It helped that I already had a year head start on working from home.

A new adventure

Holy crap! Has it really been eight years since I posted a blog post?! As they say, better late than never.


This is a year of some big changes so I figure there’s no better time than now to give you all an update.


So much has happened since 2011. Too much to put in one blog post. So maybe I’ll just start with what’s still the same.


  • I’m still happily married to my husband Mike. No kids yet. But we’re hoping to start our family within the next couple years.
  • I still struggle with ADHD. But, I continue to invest time and energy to understanding and managing it. I have made huge strides especially in the last few years.
  • I still work for Google, though not for much longer. (I’m going to keep you in suspense!)
  • I still run the creative community,


And that’s what leads me to make this updated blog post. This year I’ll be embarking on a journey; A journey to fulfill a dream of mine that I’ve had for over a decade. has always been a passion project for me. I’ve been telling myself for years how awesome it would be to work on PaperDemon and PaperDemonMedia full-time. I get so much joy from building something for creative’s and helping them share their work with the world. As well as creating stupid funny videos. Every time a colleague of mine would leave Google to say they’re leaving to work on their own business, I would stare at them wide-eyed with so much joy and happiness for them as well as envy. I would say, “I wish I could do that!”


Many people have dreams, but few actually attempt to see them through or give them a real chance. About two years ago I started to get serious about it. I realized that if I wanted to make my PaperDemon dream happen, I had to actually work on it and dedicate myself to it.


I doubted myself a lot (I still do). I wasn’t sure if I had the discipline to do it. Up until two years ago, I could never stick to something consistently. I have a long history of unfinished projects telling me that I can’t stick to anything or finish anything (this blog being one of them).


Oddly enough one of the thoughts that motivated me to try anyway is that when I have an ADHD child (there’s a 50% chance) I want them to feel like they can take risks. I want them to go through the world believing that they can fulfill their dreams, in spite of their disability. If I gave up on my own dreams, what message would that send to my children?


The time has finally come for me to take the plunge and commit myself fully to seeing my dreams through. My last day at Google will be April 1. I’ll then take a few weeks break to recover. (The last year has been incredibly hard. More details coming.) And then it’ll be time to roll up my sleeves and see it all through.


I’ll be honest with you, I’m pretty scared. I’m going to need a lot of support in the coming years. It may be a while before I’m profitable. I will continue to have lots of self-doubt. I very much appreciate any positive encouraging words you can send my way. Your words are more powerful than you could possibly know.


I don’t just do this for myself, I do it for my family, and I do it for my community. Here’s to you, me, and our dreams.


Special thank you to my husband Mike for his love and support.


Platform Dev: Comments

I previously mentioned that I would start rewriting much of my code on PaperDemon to become its own platform. Recently I completed a Comment component. I rewrote the old commenting system completely to be easily configurable, powered by sexy jquery and ajax goodness. I can now easily have one set of code to power each comment section for art, writing, comics, blogs and soon I’ll be adding comments to photos and possibly other stuff too.

A major part of the comments rewrite was to get rid of the pop ups. Previously, when you went to post a comment, a pop up would appear where you’d type up your comment. Popups are annoying and outdated. Instead, it’s now right there on the page when you’re viewing an artwork entry. A major strategy behind this interface change is that by making that comment box readily available, I hope it will entice more users to post a comment.

So far, it appears to be working. But I’ll be watching the data closely as time goes on.


Latest project happenings

So back in November, I mentioned I’d be dedicating myself to Webdev for at least 6 months before returning to my Multimedia projects. Here’s a quick look at the in-progress webdev projects I have completed, have in progress, and future planned projects.

Completed Projects

UTF-8 – I migrated the site to UTF-8 back in late November. This is something that needed to be done since I will be developing more XML based apps.

REDESIGN – I just finished a visual redesign of template. It’s not a major overhaul but it does resolve a few issues that I had with the older layout. It’s mainly a change to the header and footer and a few color tweaks.

REFERRALS – Just created a new referral system the other day on PD that allows members to recruite newbies and get free premium accounts. I’ve done this in an effort to increase traffic and activity (and hopefully increase ad revenue).

In Progress Projects

ADVERTISEMENTS – I’m also working on adding more advertisements to PD, particularly adding adult ads in the Red Curtain. My hosting costs far outweight the ad revenue and I’m hoping to change that now that I have a mortgage to pay (just bought a house, whoo!).

AJAX COMMENTS – The commenting system is something I’m working on a major rewrite of. I rewrote it to be more exportable and have made it an XML based output with XSL and AJAX using jquery stuffs. It’s nearly done but I’ve run into a snag with the jquery ajax image uploader. This project started out as a good candidate for experimenting with XML/XSLT based reusable system but ended up being more complex than I thought and is taking forever to finish.

GALLERIES UI – The galleries system for artwork on PD right now has been very confusing for a lot of users. I’m working on a new interface and reorganization of the gallery trees. Not sure when I’ll have this done but I’m hoping to have it done by end of February.

WEB PAGE CMS – I’m in need of a simple yet flexible content management system for web page content for the ShrunkenHeadMan club at SJSU. I’ve started work on this and am about half way through. Content is stored in a database but is served in XML and converted to HTML via XSLT. It allows for multiple layouts and uses YUI Grids for the layouts. It also archives past edits of a page.

SHM REDESIGN – working with the SHM webmaster and have developed a new template for the site. Working on implementing the new template now and should be done within the next couple weeks.

Future Projects

MEMBERS/LOGIN/PROFILE REWRITE – the code for member logins, profiles, etc is my oldest code and is just a huge mess. I can’t easily plug it in to my other projects. I’m rewriting this one and want to make the profile thing xml/xslt based so it can easily be customized for my other sites like PaperDemonMedia, SHM, and a family site that I want to start soon.

PHOTO GALLERY – I’m going to rewrite my simple photo gallery that is used on PD and add a couple features like albums and upload from picasa. Will use this for the family site and for SHM.

FAMILY SITE – once all of my code is rewritten for better reusability and customization, i want to create a new site that uses all my existing software just for my family to post photos and connect with each other. I might integrate it with other apps such as twitter and facebook.


As you can see, I have a lot going on. I jump around from project to project. I’m thinking 6 months isn’t enough time. It’s already been more than 2. Well, back to work.


Quarter of a Century


Today I’m a quarter of a century.


my top tracks from the last 12 months according to

  1. Chrono Cross – Dream of the Shore Bordering Another

  2. Final Fantasy IX – Crossing those Hills

  3. Chrono Cross – Home Village of Arni

  4. Lee Holdridge – I Will Remember You Still

  5. Kelly Sweet – Giorno Dpop Giorno

  6. Final Fantasy X – The SIght of Spira

  7. Final Fantasy IX – Freyja’s Theme

  8. Final Fantasy X – Besaid Island

  9. Final Fantasy V – Ahead On Our Way

  10. Chrono Trigger – Secrets of the Forest

  11. Paul Schwartz – Bel Di

  12. Sasha Lazard – Princess Mononoke

  13. Kelly Sweet – I Will Be Waiting

  14. Final Fantasy VII – Tifa’s Theme

  15. Kelly Sweet – Caresse Sur L’Ocean


cool apps/services I’ve been using:

  • Google Reader – omg i love reader and i’m new to it this year

  • iTunes


  • Google Apps – Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Sites

  • Adobe Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Corel Painter X

  • Google Picasa and Picasa Web Albums with face recognition

  • Firefox with these notable plugins: Gmarks, Firebug, Web Developer Toolbar

  • Tortoise SVN


Stuff I’ve learned this year:

Learned XML, XSL and started to use that on PD to separate data, PHP code, and presentation logic.

More experience with Linux

Using Tortoise SVN to version control my websites



Modding updates, workin’ on ST

My "Project Time" is working out really well so far. I have drafted storyboards for the first two scenes in Surviving Together and started the third. There are a total of 4 scenes. I’m finding it quite difficult to storyboard. It’s difficult to imagine characters in a setting, decide on camera angles, and have it all make sense. I’m also trying to reuse shots whenever possible to save time in the animation stage. Also I’m trying to avoid showing any characters walking because that’s difficult to animate. I want to get this first episode done. Then I can work on more challenging animation shots. Right now I’m being as conservative as possible. Once I have the boards together I’ll scan them all in and create an animatic to share with a few people to give me feedback. More updates to come.

I’ve spent some considerable time the past couple weeks reworking the tools the Moderators use at PaperDemon. We’ve been short staffed as of late and there have been a lot of submissions coming in. I figure if I can improve the tools to make it easier to mod and have it take less time, we can get more done with less staff. The tool uses a lot of nifty AJAX. I just learned XML and XSLT at a 1 day class at work and am trying to put it to good use. I have a php script that generates the XML file and an XSLT style sheet that states how the file should be formed. Then I use Sarissa to submit post data of my form, get the xml back from php, and then apply the style sheet to the data.

So far the only problem I’ve run into that I can’t solve is that it doesn’t work for some reason in IE 6. I haven’t tried it on 7 yet. Sarissa has trouble applying the XSLT on the XML for some reason. It  doesn’t make any sense because if I access the XML file directly and put in a line in there to use my XSLT file it outputs the formatted HTML correctly without any errors. Is this a problem with Sarissa? I tried searching the net but haven’t found a solution yet. Works just fine in Firefox.


I met Mickey

I went to Disneyland on Tuesday. The company I work for went there for an offsite and it was loads of fun. I got to meet Mickey Mouse! See? Here’s my proof!

BogusRed and Mickey

It was fun. Mike and I will probably start planning our trip to go down there very soon. We will probably go in May or something. There’s a couple of other parks we want to see down there too.

I’ve made a lot of small updates to PD lately. Revamp of the view art submission page, new [codes], Ajaxifying add artists. I also made a couple of new profile skins based on Zarbon’s Masterpiece Theater. They don’t look as good as I think they could be though. I think I need to try harder. I’m also preparing to start selling the Premium accounts. There are just a few details I have to work out and I’ll be ready to start selling them.

I’ve taken a very short break from PD Media. I’ll get back to working on the episode pretty soon. It’s been tough scheduling meetings. But I’ll work it out. We are trying to use Google Apps to stay better connected.

I’m also working on a new OC Remix submission. It’s part of a OC Remix project that I was invited to work on. I can’t talk about the details though. I think the organizers want this project to stay quiet for right now. They’ll probably announce it in a couple months. Yay more piano music!


Work work work

Work’s been really busy ever since I got back from my winter vacation. I’ve had little time to work on the new Anime Spoof show and PaperDemon.

But tonight and last night I found some time to work on my projects. The poll system got some love last night. I’m close to having this ready for premium accounts.

I want to start selling the premium accounts by the end of the month, whether the features are completely ready or not. I’ve been meaning to sell those things for over two years now and I keep telling myself, "let me finish one more feature…" but the thing is I can’t keep doing that. I will never be satisfied and I’ll never end up selling any premium accounts.

So I will sell them, working or not (though most things are working just fine). The polls is probably the only thing that might have some problems.

On Monday something really amazing happened to me. I was privilaged enough to have my artwork seen by millions of people around the world. I wont divulge any details other than that.

Anyway, I’m really tired. I worked all last weekend on a drawing and worked really hard all this week. This weekend is the first break I’ve had in 11 days. And then on Monday night I’m leaving for… Disneyland! Google is treating its employees to a trip to Disneyland for a company offsite. We get the park all to ourselves in the evening. It should be good fun. I can’t wait to ride space mountain. I can’t believe how spoiled I am.

While I’m on the plane and in the evenings I intend to catch up on some drawing. Hopefully when I come back from my trip I’ll have some nice art to post here.


Polls system is still a work in progress

Well I’m still working on the poll system. It’s taking longer to revamp than I originally thought. Mostly due to debugging IE Javascript errors and IE CSS display errors. I wish Firebug‘s CSS/DOM inspector worked on IE 🙁

But I’ve finally got the poll working (hopefully). All I really have left to do is the backend and adding the polls to the groups system. I’ve planned ahead for adding this to groups so the polls php class is all ready to work with groups. It should make it especially handy for when we have contests and want to poll the PD members on which contest entry should win.

I must say though, it’s looking a lot nicer than the old one did. I hope to have it all finished this weekend. More updates to come. Hooray for cleaning up old decrepid code!