Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Entwining Destiny

[Came to me when I saw a thing with significant fruit that would "forever entwine" the destinies of those who shared a single fruit, presumably with informed consent.  Characters seemed to think of it as a true love thing, but when I heard it that wasn't what came to mind.]

One: I'm as excited about our journey tomorrow as you two are, and I wanted to do something tonight.  You know, since it's a stupid idea that'll probably leave us scattered to the winds.

*Two rolls eyes*

*One pulls out fruit*

Three: Is that . . .

Two: The freaky fruit?

One: Yeah.

Three: How did you get one of the magic fruits?

One: Well . . . it wasn't easy, but I don't like the possibility of us losing each other, so I figured we should have destiny on our side.  I want us to share this.

*One breaks the fruit into three roughly even pieces*

Two: Isn't it supposed to be a true love thing?

One: The legend is that those who share it have their destinies joined, it doesn't actually mention love.  I figure if our destinies are forever entwined, we'll always find each other, no matter what might go wrong, how lost we might get, or how far apart we end up.

Three: You still think the raft will be destroyed and we'll end up adrift.

One: I think the risk is worth it, same as you.

Two: So why the destiny fruit?

One: I couldn't bear the idea that if something did go wrong we'd never see each other again.

*somber silence*

Three: I'll eat.

*Three takes a piece of fruit*

*Two takes a piece of fruit and raises it for a toast*

Two: Friends forever?

*One and Three raise their fruit bits*

One and Three: Friends forever.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

An unwanted trip down memory lane

I wanted to check that I hadn't accidentally borked things in such a way as to have a post not show up in the site's feed over at the Slacktiverse.  I don't use feeds, so this was more involved than one might expect.  Involved, but not difficult.  Also quite quick.  But it dredged up certain other results.  One was So you've just been turned into a zombie apparently because it was originally posted at the Slacktiverse and I noted that in the name.

Another was a post from Slackitvist which was just before the collapse of the Slacktiverse on typepad.

A sort of morbid curiosity had me looking back on it, and then I was caught up, and before long I was just habitually searching for a term in the comments, reading, and repeating, on autopilot.  Repetitive activity without any real thought on what I'm doing, if I should be doing it, or if I'm even capable of stopping is something that goes with my depression, and I tend to get trapped in cycles like that provided the activity is simple enough to do on autopilot.  I used to wear holes straight through otherwise pristine jeans with a finger motion along my inner thigh.

It was less boring to do "Next occurance of search term - Read - Repeat" than wear a hole through the skirt I'm wearing, but it definitely wasn't fun.

So, let's talk about the original Slacktiverse and the memories that got dredged up.

* * *

Fred Clark was a friend of the person who invented the term "Slacktivist" in it's original meaning, a meaning that some people seem to be (unknowingly) reclaiming.  The original definition from the person who coined the term was people derided as slackers because they weren't out doing big news-making things (for example: clogging the national mall with with a well-publicized march) but were in fact activists who got shit done.

Maybe they weren't participating in a national march because they where working at a soup kitchen, planting trees, helping local kids, volunteering at church, and (yes) writing shit on the internet to raise awareness.  Maybe they were just doing one thing.  But they were in fact making a difference in spite of the fact that they were viewed as slackers.

When Fred Clark started blogging he did it under the handle "Slacktivist", which he uses to this day.  Though it didn't start there, Slacktivist was at typepad for ages.  Then Fred got and took an offer to join Patheos a place that is . . . better in theory than in practice.  It was that way even moreso when he joined.

The commentariat was a vibrant community and a lot of people didn't want to lose that even though several prominent members flat out refused to move to patheos.  A compromise was reached.

* * *

The general consensus was that people trusted three commenters to take the reigns of whatever happened, and so Fred gave those three the keys to the site he was leaving at typepad.

Thus the Slacktiverse was born.

Of course, most people followed Fred away, only a handful followed both places, and a lot of those who said they would never go to patheos ended up going.

And there was a question of content.

Now the entire point of the Slackiverse was the conversion in the comments so the content of the main post never really mattered all that much (not to deride main posts, many were quite good) but there was some question of how to run a commenter blog.

So commenters submitted posts, and such.  But there were definite problems behind the scenes.

"Always" is a bit overstating it, but as far as most people were concerned Fred had always stayed out of the comments.  The three moderators of the Slacktiverse were chosen from the commenters.  There was definitely an attempt to make clear when the mod hat was on and when it wasn't, but for some reason it never seemed to work there the way it did in other places.

Fred is male.  The three moderators were all female.  The misogyny came in thick, but was mostly relegated to the spam trap so it was a while before people other than the mods were aware of it.

For some reason where things really came to a head was in the standards the community chose for itself as it was being decided how things would be run in the absence of Fred.  Specifically trigger warnings.

Fred doesn't use them, the Slacktiverse did.

Some triggers are obvious.  Death, torture, rape, self-harm, starvation.  Some triggers are not.  That's the things about triggers.  Consider the obvious ones of torture and rape.  (You have been warned.)  There is a form of torture by rape that uses a Coca Cola bottle.  It's actually a fairly standard practice in certain places.  Why?  It's done in hopes that Coca Cola becomes a trigger.  That way, even after the torture is over, the person will keep on suffering.  ("Coca Cola" is the second most commonly used term, regardless of language, on earth, if you're interested the first is apparently "okay".)

One would probably never think to warn people, "This is going to have coca cola bottles in it, so prepare yourself or avoid it if you need to," but if someone in the community has suffered that, the community would be wise to create such warnings.

Even when people don't use the term "trigger warning" or "content note" this does have a habit of happening.  I knew someone whose aracnaphobia was so severe that pictures of spiders would set him off bad.  So in a forum he frequented, people would, without ever being asked, have notes like "[name] don't click this, spiders".

The Slacktiverse wasn't a place where the "Without being asked" thing was done.  But when people did ask, it was something that would be noted by those who remembered in the future.  Well, the nice ones who remembered.

There was one case where someone who wrote about transumanism tended to go on topics that were triggering for another member and there was a detailed and civil back and forth over exactly what the warning should be.  It was hashed out that it was easiest to just warn for transhumanism in general (even though it wasn't what was triggering) than each and every individual subtopic of transhumanism that was in fact triggering.

When people saw warnings for transhumanism, though, good fucking god.

* * *

So we had the misogyny, including liberal use of the only English profanity I refuse to use, behind the scenes, and out in front we had people looking at every warning and being all, "You warn for X.  That's absurd.  No one could be triggered by X.  This is completely over the top Political Correctness police state shit.  Who is triggered by X?  How?  Why? X, X, X.  Justify your pain to me."

And that wasn't the problem.  The problem was that those people would then go to other places (sometimes first) and rant about the over-coddled special-snowflakes and there'd be an influx of trolls.

Looking back you'd really never tell.  The mods were good at catching the horrible fucking shit and getting rid of it.  You only knew about the times when you happened to load the page after the shit but before the mods axed it.

Of course, there was enough shit that as a regular you'd see it at least some of the time.

Somewhat strangely, the absolute worst came from Slacktivist.  We'd all been one group, many of us were part of both groups, and there'd been no bad blood in becoming two groups, but any mention of the Slacktiverse in the Slacktivist comments caused a massive influx of particularly toxic trolling.

PZ Meyers didn't help either.  (Yes, it was checked, it was really him.)

Anyway, this all put the mod team under a lot of stress, and there were other things too (I was originally going to go into more detail about one I had firsthand knowledge of, but I think I'll leave it confidential) and as a result of the massive load on them combined with human fallibility they didn't handle everything perfectly.

That drove some people away, which sucked.  Mistakes alienating good people always sucks.  But it also had another effect.  Every imperfectly done thing would be harped on elsewhere causing a fresh influx of trolls to the site.

And the imperfectly done things would be used to argue that the mods were horrible people which could then be used to cast things where there was no fault in a negative light, which was all then combined and presented as evidence they were monstrous internet tyrants.

And they were on the hook for things they didn't do.  The "This Week" posts, the one feature that completely survived the various transitions to the modern Slacktiverse have always been reader submissions.  Readers submitted their own trigger warnings/content notes.  And fuck did the mods at the Slacktiverse take a lot of flack for being the kind of oversensitive anti-free speech jackbooted net-thugs who would use certain content notes they never wrote.

Because, "I wrote this and I think you might want to know X is in it when you decide whether or not to read," really implies all of that stuff between "for being" and "who would use".

And there was the infamous post, not by the mods, in which an atheist criticized atheists who want to convert the entire world to their particular views on religion so that no one who disagrees will be left amoung the living.  (But, do note, conversion and natural die-off, not killing.)  Calling it "evil in one of its purest forms" was probably a poor choice of wording, but it was the first post in a conversation and it took all of three posts for someone to offer a loud, resounding "No, you're wrong," counter argument.

That had trolls coming in entirely unrelated to the other trolls in a stream that never, ever, stopped.

* * *

The final tipping point, though, was when someone said, out of the blue, that they didn't want Slacktivist turning into another Slacktiverse during a discussion of French imperialism in Morocco circa World War II in a comment thread to a Slacktivist deconstruction post of Left Behind book 3, Nicolae: The Rise of the Antichrist.

Massive influx of trolling.

Combined with the steady streams from other sources it eventually became too much, changes were needed, and a completely new moderation system was set to be implemented.

It was too late though.  The system never got a chance to really be tried because by now there was too fucking much trolling coming from too many directions and the original home of the Slacktiverse was closed to new comments and converted to an archive.  The moderators went into self-exile so they would neither have to suffer the shit moving forward nor lead the trolls to whatever followed.

In the scramble to set up a new home before the old one was forever closed (so there could be a link) we went with what one person (Ana Mardoll) knew.  Except . . . Ana knew Blogger for main posts and disqus for comments but some people couldn't use disqus and Blogger's built in stuff turned out to be insufficient (I don't get trolled nearly as much so it works for me) so the place was a bad fit.  Thus it became a redirect to the current home.

* * *

And my trip down memory lane really drove home how much people who weren't there fundamentally didn't get what was happening.  They saw two or three people who ranged from good-faith hostile to Trolly McTrollstien.  That was such a small part of it.

I kind of wonder if the effectiveness of the moderators ended up hurting them.  Most of the shitstorm was invisible unless you were engaged enough in a conversation to be refreshing the page frequently to see what new comments had been made in real time.  Otherwise the vast majority of the trolling was gone by the time you were reading.

That meant that the only thing you really saw were the non-trolls.  If the only people the moderators were visibly responding to were those who weren't that bad, it could seem like those were the ones they were coming down, which would mean everything they were saying about the trolling could seem to be directed at relatively innocuous commenters.

And without getting the stress the mods were under, you didn't understand why mistakes were being made, you just knew that mistakes were being made.

The trolls ended up basically invisible, and the only thing outsiders or casual insiders saw were people who weren't doing anything bad enough to be deleted.  And the mistakes that the mods were making as more and more stress was placed on them?  They fell into that category.  All the errors were visible, most of the correct things were not.

So for an outsider it looked like there was relatively little bad happening, no explanation for why the mods were getting more and more hair-trigger, some minor bad things that the mods dealt with, a fair amount of the mods talking about major bad things that didn't seem to have evidence, and some cases where that increasingly fine hair-trigger caused them to censure people who didn't deserve it.

But most of all what stands out is that people flat out didn't get that they were part of a larger group, one whose most active members they disapproved of.  Whenever people had a gripe-fest at Slacktivist it caused massive trolling at Slacktiverse, and instead of recognizing that that was a problem it was just completely ignored.

People were seriously saying things that amounted to, "Do we have to talk about this?  Can't we not?  Well, I don't want to, but here let me lob this troll bait out so they'll get swarmed over there while I stand safely over here and act like there's no such thing as trolls."

* * *

The whole fucking thing sucked.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Things I need, things I want

I need more socks and replacement shoes.  I need oil.  I need food.

These four things represent different ways of going about things.

~ ~ ~

Socks can come from anywhere.  I tend to go to some godless chain store that is destroying all good things in the universe, like say a Walmart, and just buy a package with a lot of cheap socks.  On the other hand, when someone gave me a gift certificate to Sock Dreams it meant that I got some fucking fantastic socks with quality I'd never set out to get myself.

So, yeah, wide range of socks.

Wide range of ways people can help with them.

~ ~ ~

For shoes definitely need them a lot (the sole is coming off of my right shoe in a way that could knock me to the ground in a way I can't really afford) but at the same time, I'd like to get good shoes.  Now the good shoes that I used to have, and really liked, are out of production.  I dug them up (I knew I'd never gotten around to disposing of them) and double checked that.

They haven't been replaced with a new model, they're flat out gone.

I think this is as close as I can come.  Men's because the women's ones are offered in crap colors.  Of course this requires me to learn my shoe size again.  The super old shoe I dug up from the era when I had good shoes is a 10 1/2 wide (also men's), but I honestly have no idea if that was the right size or more like "Close enough".

It's also the sort of thing I'd probably never buy for myself because there are other places where the $99 might reasonably go.  At the moment I'm primarily focusing on paying down high interest debt, for example.

I'll probably end up buying cheap shoes when someone is able to take me to a place that has them.

Of course, money grubbing person that I am, I'll point out that it's possible to get me an LL Bean gift card (apparently it'd get sent straight to my email cpw [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com.)  It's interesting to me that they say "never expires" like that matters.  This is Maine (they're based in Freeport) and it's illegal to have a gift card expire here.  Unless the company goes bankrupt, the gift card will be good.

~ ~ ~

Oil I've already ordered, I should get a price quote within the next 24 hours.  I expect it to be around $300-ish.  Only way to help me with that is a donation.

~ ~ ~

Food is . . . complicated.  Even as I get more and more able to do things, food preparation is still not on the list.  So I've been ordering things delivered.

That's simple and straight-forward enough, I need money just like with the oil.  (Also expensive as all fuck.)

Where it gets complicated is that I don't know what delivers around her, general internet services to hook you up with delivery places don't know much of anywhere either, and . . . yeah.

Anyone know the delivery scene in the greater Portland area in Maine?

* * *

I want various impossible things, like to be able to go back on my hormones now as opposed to waiting until it's safe (because this demi-depressed state fucking sucks.)

But on the possible side of things, I mostly want interactive fiction.  I want to go to other worlds and do other things and make noticeable progress toward clear goals.  I want a vacation from the real because it's kind of sucking.  Hell, it sucked before I broke my ankle.

I want Kingdom Hearts with the two items on the PS4 wishlist representing nine-ish games of content between them (only six playable) and the three on the list for the 3DS (which I theoretically will have) representing the playable versions of the two unplayable games, and one that had different gameplay mechanics after the system switch.  (Thing nine is an original, as in never a game, cinematic thing delivered in the same way as the two non-playable games.)

I want Breath of the Wild, and to a lesser extent Dishonored 2 which is on the same list and apparently on sale.

I want to be able to immerse myself in other places, other times, other worlds, other people, other everything, because I'm stuck one room most of the time with little that I can do.

I do have non-interactive fiction potential getaways too.  There's a reason that Deep Red is the top movie on this list that I'd forgotten existed until Ana asked me if I could put useful stuff on a wishlist.  That reason is that it's been far too long, I barely remember the movie, and I decided to try to sort the damned list.  Is the list sorted?  Only the stuff that comes above the puzzles.

Get beyond that and there's a lot of "Whut?" and fair amount of, "Ok, I'll grant that this seemed like a good idea at the time, but HOW did it seem like a good idea at the time?"  And also no hierarchy whatsoever.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


I've been out of state.

That might not seems like the best thing to do, but it meant spending time living with other people.  (Broken ankle is much easier to manage when someone can carry stuff from one room to another and actually make food.)  It was also part of a plan (or was it a plot?) to inject something up into this broken ankle time.

See, there was a concert.

Apparently once something has happened all record of it ceases to exist, so I can't link to anything, but it was Dar Williams at the Cabot Theater in Beverley, Mass.

That was one day after I made the journey from home to Massachusetts, and five days after the concert, which was yesterday, it was time to come home.

This is, as you might imagine, a bit of a process.

~ ~ ~

I didn't have to worry about losing my hat on the way home as I'd lost it on the way over.  There was the obligatory forgetting of important things (the two external hard drives on which my computer had been backed up) and all of the usual stuff.

But the thing is . . . I'm fatter and weaker than I used to be, somehow my backpack seemed to weigh as much as a twelve year old, and the T is . . . the T.

Thus I started off absurdly early in hopes of maybe catching my bus.

~ ~ ~

Oak Grove does at least have elevators.  The elevator doors have a habit of only opening half way when they're supposed to open, and getting open the rest of the way sometime in the following week.  This is fucked up, and while it doesn't inconvenience me I have seen it, and could have figured out without the seeing of it, be really fucking unhelpful to a person in a wheelchair.

Also, I spent a good deal of time wishing for a wheelchair.

Anyway, I crutched from drop off to elevator, then from elevator to bench.  Then I rested.  If I were walking this would be absurd.

After a while I made my way to the place where you pay, I'd actually acted like an intelligent person and taken the Charlie Card (an RFID card that you put money on electronically so that you can use the Boston T by holding said card up to a reader which is a lot faster than other means of payment) out before getting off the bench.

Another elevator, much exertion to get to the damned train.  Normally I go to the far end, because that's where my exit is.  I barely made it to the near end in time to catch what was, I think, the second train to leave since I was dropped off.

Also, it was fucking cold, and something about the combination of crutches and my backpack kept making my shirt ride up.

I usually describe the behavior of the Orange Line as it goes outbound.  Inbound is . . . well, stuff.

At Oak Grove, which is the end of the line, it's a ground train.  Next stop is Malden Center.  For that it's a full blown L (elevated) train.  Then it goes back to the ground, crosses the water, comes into the place with the giant Lego Giraffe (actually Duplo, but Duplo is a Lego brand), and really starts to flirt with the idea of being an L again, but comes back down to earth for the stops themselves.

A while later it's underground and we have achieved subway.

Downtown Crossing is my stop.  Downtown Crossing has no elevators.  Downtown Crossing has a sign saying that elevators will be installed.  I was told that they said it would take seven months.  This was said a year ago.

But before we even get to the lack of elevators, remember that I'm on the wrong end of the train.

I think I have to stop and rest two times just to walk from one end of the platform to the other.

When I get to the stairs down to the Red Line I take a third rest.  I am, by now, drenched in sweat.

For most of the way there's a sturdy railing, this is good because going down stairs on crutches sucks.  I'm very slow and get in various peoples ways.

At the end of the stairs, though, something changes.  For the last few steps.  Just three or four of them between a landing and platform level, the railing ceases to be a good railing because it's no longer bolted to the fucking wall.

Thus I have to sit on my ass and slowly butt slide down the final stairs.  There's no one there right then, so I have a sort of mini-break.

It's not enough.  I don't even make it down the hall, drop to my knees at a hall intersection, the intersection makes it wider, so I hope that I won't be too much in the way.

Multiple trains let off people going between the Red Line and Orange Line.  Several of the people wonder if I need help, if I'm dying, if they should call emergency services on my behalf, and so forth.

I eventually reach the Red Line just as a train leaves.

I don't remember if I got there in one trip or not.  It seems unlikely, but I don't remember stopping.

Anyway, I got to the good place to get on the train.

I was only on for one stop, but damn was it nice to be able to sit.  (I'd also been not-up while waiting for the train to come.)

~ ~ ~

Once I got off at South Station I walked to the wall opposite the tracks and collapsed.

I didn't quite stay there until the next train came, but it was close.

I remembered that south station did have elevators and actually used it to get to T-Loby level.

The elevator to ground level, however, is out of service.  Ish.

Now I was drenched in sweat before I even got on the train that brought me here, so as one might imagine I'm not exactly trying to add heat to myself.  My coat is sort of tied around my waist (the sleeves aren't quite long enough to make a decent knot) and definitely not keeping me warm.

Thus we come to the "ish".

I was fully willing to take the escalator.  The up escalator was shut down.  Not just shut down.  The only reason I remembered that South Station has elevators in the first place is because the up escalator from the platform was also shut down.  This one, however, is shut down and blocked off as if it is the scene of a nuclear waste spill.

So, the "ish".  There is an elevator to ground level.  It just isn't inside the station.  It lets you out outside of the building, and then you have to go through the death-cold to get back inside South Station.

Finding the elevator required enough energy that I had to drop to the ground and rest before using it.

Getting from the elevator back into the building required another period of rest.

It's a bit hazy until I sat at one of the tables and took off my bag for rest where I was sitting on an actual chair.

There were clocks.  I had time.  Seriously.  There was over an hour until my bus left.

And I was really fucking thirsty, and (having recovered from the outside's death cold) back to overheating.

When I was sufficiently rested I went over to the place next to the pink berry and got a strawberry banana smoothy, put as much weight on the counter as I could to take it off of my right leg which was, remember, doing all of the work.  Work that's more than normal. even before you take the fact that one leg is doing all of it into account, because you don't walk with crutches, you vault.

Smoothy comes and we have the difficult and strange hopping of someone who's only using one crutch, well using both crutches as if they're a single crutch, because they need a hand free to carry a smoothy.

I'm kind of surprised I actually made it back to the table and chair place.

Some brain freeze troubles, but otherwise the smoothy was very good and something that I needed.

The moment I decide to get up and go to the bus terminal, boarding is announced on track one.

South Station is in three sections.  Below ground, and at the front, is the T.  Red Line and Silver Line.  Above ground, and in the front to front-middle, is the waiting area of the long distance trains.  This is full of food places and . . . um, stuff.

Occupying the entire rest of the middle (which is definitely the biggest section) is an outdoor area where the long distance trains board.

At the back is the second building that makes up South Station: the bus terminal.

So to get from where I was to where I was going I had to go outside, for a fair distance, and here's the annoying part: there is no dedicated way to get from front South Station to back South Station.  Instead you walk down the boarding platform for track one.

If timing is right, that's not too much of a problem, but if you happen to have the misfortune of moving from one end to the other when track one is boarding . . . it's a hassle even when you can walk.

So I waited longer than planned, and even so I got in people's way because I was slow, and I had to take breaks (did I mention that the temperature was death-cold?), and more people enquired as to my well being or lack thereof.

Once I got inside the bus terminal the first thing I did was take another break.  The windows have sills that are perfect for sitting on.

The elevator here did work, so that's what I did once I could.

That only gets you one floor, though, and you need to to go two.

Nice stone bench for a break in between the two elevators.

Up the next one, still haven't missed my bus, go to where the buses are, have a sort of mini standing-break at the entrance, and then get to where my bus is in, I think, one push.  And promptly collapse because that's overdoing it.  I was in fact trying to begin the process of getting to the ground to sit.  But no one who saw could have mistaken what happened for intentional.

It was, however, a clean landing on hands and knees.

I should probably mention something about my right hand at this point though.  Before the concert I slipped on black ice (it hurts pedestrians too) in a Subway (sandwich place) parking lot.  Landed on my hands.  The thumb section of my right palm didn't like this, but it wasn't a big deal.

All of this crutching around, though, put a a lot of pressure on my hands, including the thumb section of my right palm.

It was a very unhappy hand, is the point.

~ ~ ~

The bus ride home was largely uneventful, though Amazon did want me to know that I was running out of time to pre-order Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX (top of the wishlist) which . . . why would you remind someone of something like that?  Oh my god, come the 28th you'll be able to order-order it instead of pre-order it.  Woe is everyone if that should come to pass, buy now so you won't have to order-order!

And this is a source of minor annoyance because I thought that it came out February 28th when I put it on the wishlist.  Though, I would have put it there anyway.  I've always wanted to play Kingdom Hearts and that represents the the first six games worth of content.

I feel like there might have been other things of note on the bus, but none come to mind.

~ ~ ~

I was picked up by my dad.  From him I learned that there may be an animal in the house (beyond mice and such) that wasn't invited (but it could just as plausibly have been his eyes playing tricks on him) and that I had no oil.

As it would turn out, I did have oil.  But the house had been without heat for days.  It was cold.

When I made it down stairs (not an easy task) I discovered that the water was too low for the furnace to run, and the oil gauge was on empty.  I put in enough water, toggled the power on and off, and the thing started running.  The gauge has always been an approximation.

Of course at this point the house was really cold, I had no idea how much oil there was (no idea if it could heat the house or would burn through in a minute or two),  and . . . stuff.  I brought up an electric blanket and a blanket so heavy I haven't needed it since I've been forced by ankle to sleep up stairs, reheated my numb feet with a heating pad while the two blankets worked together to create a warm cocoon.

~ ~ ~

And that was my homecoming.

I think.

Other Stories, a Harry Potter Snippet

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

[...] on the Harry Potter thing, if these things are being left to one group, it kind of implies that there are other things being done by other groups because it doesn't make sense for one grade to have all of the, "I must break the rules to do good things," people.

Something like:

* * *

Senior Ravenclaw: We're being watched.
Senior Slytherin: What? Wher-- Oh.
Senior Hufflepuff: We know you're there first years.
Senior Ravenclaw: It's really going to be easier if you just show yourselves.

*Harry, Ron and Hermoine come out from under the invisiblity cloak*

Senior Gryffindor: Please tell me the three of you aren't doing something stupid again.
Senior Slytherin: [to senior Gryff] That's no way to say, "Hello." [to heroes] What are you three doing out here?

Hermoine: We're going to the forbidden hallway to stop the Philosopher's Stone from being stolen. We think the thief might be trying to revive the dark lord.

Senior Ravenclaw: That's nice.
Senior Hufflepuff: Good luck with that.
Senior Slytherin: We're going to the secondary storage area to stop a love potion production operation.
Senior Ravenclaw: The tangled and twisted magic around the school makes it ideal for hiding illicit operations.
Senior Slytherin: If we weren't busy, we'd help you out with your dark lord problem.

Ron: (outraged) You think love potions are more important than-!-

Senior Ravenclaw: Even if the dark lord is resurrected it'll take time to rebuild his power base and become a threat.
Senior Hufflepuff: Time during which opposition to him can be built back up.
Senior Ravenclaw: The love potions are a problem right now.
Senior Slytherin: They ship at daybreak, every day, so if we waited another night after learning where they were operating we'd be insuring there are more victims.
Senior Gryffindor: That's not an option.

Harry: But we're talking about--
Hermoine: Actually, I'm with them on this. Love potions are evil.

*two groups start to go separate ways*

Senior Slytherin: Good luck, see you all at the final feast.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


I can move water from the bedroom to the kitchen and back because of conveniently placed counters, chairs, tables, and other such things.  Set it down.  Crutch to midpoint.  Pick it up, move it in front of me, set it down, we're back at the beginning.

I can't move a cup of water from the kitchen to the living room unless I'm willing to forget about standing and crutches, and drop to my knees or crawl.

I can't cook.  I can't clean.  I can't ... I can't ... I can't.

I fucking can't.

I can't wash my clothes.  I can shower, but only just.

I had to have a child carry my laptop into this room because I can't.

I've been feeling so god damned useless and helpless, but it's necessary to heal and all that.

And I was at least succeeding in taking care of my injury.


I don't remember what I was getting up to do.  The pain erased any sense of that.  Maybe I didn't even know at the time.  It could have been an impulsive thing.

I got up and took two steps.  One step is fine.  Step, put weight on something else, step, and so forth is how one moves in this condition.

Two steps is very, very bad.

If I'm wearing the air cast, I can put less than half my weight on my left foot.

A second step means I put all of my fucking weight on my left foot. (I wasn't wearing the air cast.)

It's been over half an hour.  Pain still lingers.

I only had one thing to do.  Just take care of the injury.

I just fucked that up.

And it hurts.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ash: Questions

This is basically the climax of the story, don't read if you don't want it spoiled.
[Totally not a final version, will probably be completely reworked.]
[Context: First installment of Ash is here.  There was a school dance where the theme was a masquerade, some of the students getting into it enough that their identities were well and truly concealed.  At her sister's prompting, Ash, a closeted trans girl, went as a girl and not the boy she presents as.  Ash ended up losing her good luck charm (her deceased mother's MP3 player) and this scene is after Ash has convinced Zee, the girl she was dancing with, that it really is her MP3 player.]

- - -

"The dance was . . . magical; it was like a fantasy," Ash said. "But that's over, everything has collapsed back into reality.  Your mystery girl was just a dream; I'm all that's left.  Sorry.  I know it sucks.

"Now can I please have my mother's MP3 player back."

"I have questions," Zee said.

"You're going to hold the MP3 player hostage--" Ash didn't get a chance to finish.

"No!" Zee said as she shoved the MP3 player into Ash's hand.  "Of course not.  Take it."

Ash brought the MP3 player to her chest and said said, "mom" so softly she wasn't sure it was out loud.  The one connection to the only parent that might have loved her was back.  It was with her again.

Ash's attention returned to Zee and found her in the middle of a sentence.  ". . . still have questions but I'd never force you to do anything.  I'd like to think you know me better than that."

"Lot of stress," Ash mumbled.  "Ask and get it over with."

"At the dance, were you trying to trick--"

"You asked me to dance."

"I felt like I knew you," Zee said.

"You did."

"Apparently not as well as I thought."

"That's nice."

"Do you like me?"

"Thought that was what friendship was about."

"Don't make me go contrastive focus reduplication on you."

"We covered this already," Ash said, anger flaring for no comprehensible reason.  "Yes, I do, and for a while I got to pretend there was a chance of something coming from it.  But pretend time ended, so what does it matter?"

"It matters," Zee said as inched closer.  "Next question, are you a boy or a girl?"


"So we've ruled out non-binary options," Zee said.  Ash was mildly surprised she knew such things existed, and barely noticed that Zee inched forward again.  "Are you a girl?"

Zee had most definitely invaded Ash's personal space.  They were so close now, and she was looking right in Ash's eyes.

Ash knew the smart thing would be to lie.  Instead she admitted, "Yes," in a way that sounded as defeated as she felt.  Her only friend would reject her now.  Things could get bad going forward.

"Last question," Zee said, "will you go out with me?"

The "What?" was produced without any real thought on Ash's part.

"You know, a date.  We go somewhere together and do something and if we're lucky there might be kissing involved."

"But you're . . ."

"And you're a girl," Zee said.  "We covered that."

Ash's first thought was shot down and became flaming wreckage in her mind.  Zee wouldn't try to trick her.  But it was still impossible to believe.  "You're serious?"

"Of course I am," Zee said.  "Just come as the real you, no pretending to be a boy."

"Pretending to be a boy is safe."

"Then we can be careful," Zee said.  "Go out of the way to avoid people we know, stick to less well lit places, stuff like that.

"What kinds of movies do you like?" Zee asked.

"Fun, explosions, hope," Ash said.

Zee seemed to think that over for a bit and then said, "There's nothing good in theaters right now, but I've got Fury Road on disk and a big screen TV."

"LED or LCD?"


"And you wonder why everyone thinks of you as some rich kid."

"I don't wonder about it," Zee said, "I just wish they didn't think it was my defining quality"

The conversation lagged.

"You know, you haven't actually answered me yet." Zee said.

Ash closed the small distance between them, hugged Zee, and said, "Yes.  So very much yes."

- - -

Or something like that, not satisfied with it.