Sunday, June 25, 2017

I'm not doing well

When I got home I didn't eat for two days (not calendar days, more sundown to sundown, two days worth of food no matter how you look at it.)  The sole exception being one bag of microwave popcorn.

That was nine days ago, I'm eating now.

I haven't been doing the whole "go to bed" process well which usually means missing out on a couple hours a night but one time had me going to bed early the next morning.

I'm not accomplishing anything.  Even simple things like "Eat fruit because it will go bad."

I just . . . sit with my computer on my lap and do things that I don't even enjoy that much because it's better that staring off into space doing nothing.


I am, simply, overwhelmed.

Usually when people see my house they see a mess, while I'm fine with it.  Not so right now.

The time I spent unable to walk led to some very serious fucking up of everything.  Oh, and when I broke my ankle in three places it was because things had gotten out of hand and I was trying to tidy up a bit.  Right during step one I fell all the way down the basement stairs.

On getting back from the hospital I had to make my house crutch accessible which involved, basically, anti-clearning.  Clutter that could easily be picked up and put where it went had to be shoved aside into daunting piles of "I have no idea where to even fucking start" and things got worse from there.  As I got better at accommodating the injury I had to access less and less of the house as everything became centralized.  Plus I couldn't clean but the cat was still more than content to knock over ALL THE THINGS.

And then there's money.

Insurance I already owe.  The good news is that my mother/landlord doesn't charge late fees and interest.  I still have to pay it, though, and it's higher than expected $288.

Deferred payments start coming due in August, which is also when the quarterly property tax is due (that, at least, hasn't changed: $657.72) and come October a very long differal (18 months?  Two years?) ends and of course it had to be for a nice high amount high interest thing.  It's what I had to pay to fill the gap between what my warranty paid and what it actually cost to replace broken computer with this one AND get a new external hard drive (a kind of big one) to transfer backed up data and maybe some other stuff.  I have been making payments, but they're never enough. At least it's less than a thousand now.

Then in November there's something I haven't talked about, but I care deeply about.  My grandparents farm is being sold.  The hope is that my sister will be able to finagle things so that she keeps enough property to live on and a conservation group buys the rest so it will not be completely demolished to make space for another ugly housing development, which is what traditionally happens to farms and what my Aunt, half owner, wants to do because that's where the money is.

I don't have faith.

I also don't have a hundreds of thousands of dollars.  That's the problem with farm land around here.  That's why farms are seldom replaced with new farms.  Farms are worth shit.  The land they sit on is worth fucktons.  When I was little my mom used to point to housing developments and say, "When I was little that was all farm land."  I think I was in high school when I started being able to point to housing developments and say, "When I was little, that was all farmland."  It's gotten worse since then.

So I keep on thinking of that, coming to the conclusion that there's no fucking way I could ever hope to raise the necessary money, and having my brain shut down.  Even though there's plenty of other stuff I really fucking need to do that can't be done with a shut down brain.  Like, you know, everything.

I think there was other stuff I was going to say.


I very much wish there were some sort of special account/business/whatever where the money could only be used to pay for buying the farm.  Something where I, my sister, and whoever else could raise specifically farm money that was legally cut off from the money we have to live on.  You know, go out, write/do/whatever farm stuff, and not have that cause me to lose my SSI and my insurance.

It would be dishonest to say, "We're trying to save this farm in Cape Elizabeth" and then use raised money to pay expenses on my house in South Portland, but the SSA doesn't see honesty as an important concept.  Unless I'm legally prevented from using the money dishonestly, they have determined that I can use it to pay the expenses SSI is supposed to cover, and they cut SSI, and that's why for more than two years I've been in a state of nigh constant financial collapse when I should be skimming along just fine.

I still need to get around to sending them financial documents (in hopes it will fix some of that), it's as easy as a trip across the street on a day other than Sunday, but see the body of this post for why that hasn't happened.

I did have the documents all gathered and ready to send, but that was in my maroon notebook.  All of my notebooks are important, but the maroon notebook was really, really, really fucking important.  Of course it was the one that I lost.

In fact, that might have been one of the other things I intended to say.  There are various writing projects where I'll think, "Wait, I already did this work," spend ages looking for where I did it (I have writing and notes in a lot of places) and finally realize with a fresh dose of frustration and sadness that it was in the maroon notebook, which I think I lost in someone's house in Massachusetts, that I'll almost certainly never see again.


Anyway those are the thoughts I am having.

I know I shouldn't think so much about the farm.  It's beyond my reach.  It's a problem I can't solve.  But I can't not think about it, and when I do it just shuts everything down.

If anyone wants to help contribute solving the problems that can be solved:

I can be given money in single payments via Paypal either using my email (cpw [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com) in the "send money" feature of your account (which is better if you're paying me via your balance or bank account, the same if it's via credit card) or via the donate button on the top right of this page.

Automatic Paypal payments do not work.
 It's been going on for ages and I have yet to determine the problem.  They just don't work.

So, if you want to set up a recurring payment, please use my Patreon account.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

We're Leaving -- Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings, but it would have gone with this post if not for the fact comments are long since closed.]

Shasta stroked the donkey as the Horse insisted that he, a creature that had just dismissed human legs as silly things, would somehow make "a fine rider" out of Shasta, someone who rode primarily by making use of his silly human legs.

Then the Horse got to saying useful things, "We mustn't start until those two in the hut are asleep. In the meantime we can make our plans. My Tarkaan was riding north on a secret mission."

For a moment Shasta's heart leapt at the idea of secrets in the north. Then practical thoughts put an end to that, "So we should probably go south."

"I think not," the Horse said, "see he thinks I'm dumb and witless like his other horses. Now if I really were, the moment I got loose I'd go back home to my stable or paddock: back to his palace which is two days journey south. That's where he'll look for me. He'd never dream of me going north on my own."

"But you won't be on your own," Shasta said. "I'll be with you and Arsheesh knows that I've always wondered about what lay to the north."

"Of course you have," the Horse said. "That's because of the blood that's in you. I'm sure you're of true northern stock."

Shasta averted his gaze in hopes the Horse wouldn't see him rolling his eyes.

"When we both go missing," Shasta said, "and Arsheesh tells the Tarkaan that I've always wondered about the north, the Tarkaan will think I took you north."

"No," the Horse said. "He'll think you tried to take me north, someone who has only ever ridden a donkey," the contempt returned, Shasta pet the donkey, "could never control a horse such as myself. We'll leave a trail leading south, there's a stream not too far from here where we can turn around without leaving a trail."

Shasta had an idea that he thought was better.

"Or," Shasta said, "you could go south on your own, I could ride north on the donkey, and since war horses are so much more expensive than human slaves--"

Shasta's idea was detailed and he was a bit of proud of himself for coming up with it all at once. He'd make it look like the horse escaped through his own incompetence. Considering how often he really was incompetent Arsheesh would have no trouble believing that. Then his theft of the donkey would look like him trying to escape punishment.

Arsheesh would never be able to catch up to the donkey on foot, and the Tarkaan would be pointed south while struggling to find a way to catch up with a runaway horse that wasn't weighed down by a rider.

Shasta never got to say any of that, because the Horse cut him off:

"The donkey is a dumb and witless beast, why would bother doing anything with it?"

"We are taking the donkey," Shasta said.

"It will only slow us down," the Horse said. "Leave it here."

"I'm taking the donkey," Shasta said. "If you don't like it you can go your own way and explain to everyone you meet why you're a horse with no human."

The horse made a sound of frustration for which there are no letters, then said, "Check to see that they're asleep."

Shasta crept back to the home he'd be leaving. There was no light. No signs of anyone awake. He heard the familiar snores of Arsheesh. He didn't hear anything else, and he didn't want to risk going inside, the door and the floor and the . . . everything, weren't exactly silent.

He had to just believe that the Tarkaan was asleep based on the utter lack of evidence he was awake.

Shasta returned to the Horse and the donkey and said, "They're asleep. Tell me what you need, and hope we can get it quietly."

The donkey had a bridle, but its back was always bare. It had never had a saddle or bags. Shasta didn't know anything about them or how to put them on. While the Horse tried to be helpful, the process of getting it ready was long and difficult. Also, it refused to answer Shasta's questions about why it should want a saddle or the contents of its saddle bags.

It did, at least, make some conversation beyond, "Looser," "Tighter," "Higher," and "Lower," when Shasta asked it how it had come to be in Calormen.

"Kidnapped," the Horse said. For a moment it seemed like it was going to leave it at a single word, but then it added, "Or stolen, or captured -- whichever you like to call it. I was only a foal at the time. My mother warned me not to range to the southern slopes, into Archenland and beyond, but I wouldn't heed her. She also talked about Aslan as though he were a real flesh and blood lion, as if she'd seen him in her lifetime. Gods obviously aren't like that, so I thought she was just a foolish old Mare.

"I should have known that her practical advice would be more grounded in reality than her theology, but I thought if she were wrong about one thing she might as well be wrong about all things. By the Lion's Mane I have paid for that folly."

Of course, Shasta had no idea who Aslan was, but he had other questions.

"Why didn't you tell someone you weren't like other horses?" Shasta asked. "Cry out, 'I'm a Narnian Talking Horse and shouldn't be treated like this!'"

"That's worked so well for the talking human slaves of Calormen," the Horse said bitterly. "The true reason, though, is that I'm not so foolish as to think that might have helped. The ones who captured me knew I could talk; I did cry out when I was first captured. But in Calormen, a talking animal would, at best, be a curiosity shown at fairs, guarded so well I could never hope to escape.

"That would be the best I could hope for. More likely the Calmorene who heard me speak would react with superstition over greed and destroy me out of fear I was a demon. Many in this land know that Talking Animals exist, but they can't seem to accept that we could be people rather than devils."

"But surely someone--"

"It feels like you're finished," the Horse said. "It's time for us to go."

* * *

It wasn't long before Shasta and the donkey had reached the top of the hill that marked the northern edge of the world Shasta had known. There was no great secret, just grassy plains that seemed to go on forever.

"I say!" is how the Horse announced its presence, causing Shasta to flinch. "What a place for a gallop."

"I have no idea what that is," Shasta said.

"Horses have different gaits," the Horse said. "Just like humans run differently than they walk. A gallop is our fastest gait; a donkey's too, I believe. It's not just for when we're in a hurry, it's also for throwing away all cares and just moving."

"Won't that wear you out?" Shasta asked.

"If I did it all the time," the Horse said, "yes."

"Well . . ." Shasta realized that their introduction had lacked something very important. "What do I call you?"

"My name is Bree-hinny-brinny-hoohy-hah," the Horse said, though one must understand that human alphabets don't properly capture the sounds a Horse is like to make when speaking its name.

"I don't think I can say that," Shasta said.

"I believe, when I was a foal, it was said that humans would have an easier time calling me, 'Bree'," the Horse said.

"That I can say," Shasta said.

"And what shall I call you?" Bree asked.

"I'm called Shasta."

"That I can say," Bree said. "Now, as to what a gallop is, let me show you."

Bree took off across the grassy plains.

Shasta leaned forward on the donkey, right hand gently touching its neck, and said, "Just go."

The donkey thought for a moment, like any other donkey it didn't understand human words per se, but it had spent a lifetime with Shasta, it understood "go" it understood tone of voice, and it understood the feel of Shasta's body. It also understood that the Horse that had been beside them a moment ago was speeding away.

Ordinarily it wouldn't have gone faster than a trot without some kind of great incentive or threat, but everything in how Shasta felt where and when the two touched this night gave off a strong sense of importance. There was no apparent threat or reward, but Shasta resonated with importance and, whatever that meant, it was probably worth keeping the strange Horse in sight for.

Shasta galloped for the first time.

-

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Monday, June 19, 2017

I feel as though someone made my pupils huge, held my eyes open, and shined light in them well passed the point of crying -OR- It didn't take two months

So when the came in this morning it turned out there was an open slot today at two thirty, which is somewhat different than the previous estimate of "maybe August" for when I could have an exam.

So now I've had my eyes checked which hopefully is covered by insurance but I remember them being wrong about that once before way back when I was still covered by my mother's insurance.  Good news: I don't have (a specific type of) cancer or diabetes.

Diabetes runs in both sides of my family, so I knew that was a risk, I didn't even remember the fact that there's apparently a mole in the back of my right eye that needs to be watched for fear it'll do the whole "I'm going to grow out of control now" that changes a growth from "mole" to "cancer.  It hasn't grown in the six years since my last eye exam, I think I'm good.

Those and other things are why I had my pupils dilated, my retina photographed and looked at, and so much light shined into my eyes that I couldn't really tell dark from light but I could sure as fuck see every god damned blood vessel in my retina in crystal clarity.  I'm honestly not sure exactly how that works, but something about shining a bright light in your eye allows you to see the inside of your eye.

While not having cancer and not having diabetes and not having [random other thing that sounds like badly written technobabble to me] are all good things, I didn't actually go there for any of that crap.

My eyes are actually continuing to improve, if you ignore the scratches and scuffs and such, the problem lenses in my glasses is that they're too strong.  And back when I got then-new glasses six years ago, that was also (albeit at a lower level) the problem with these glasses.  If I keep this up then after I die of old age (optimism here), get buried, and rise from the dead as part of the zombie apocalypse, my unaided vision might be normal or better.

Now wearing glasses that are too strong isn't a good thing, but in this case it isn't a horrible thing either.  The scratches that mar the surfaces of the lenses are a much bigger pain.  Still, even without scratches I'd be better off with the right prescription.

Fun fact: while my insurance covers getting my eyes checked out (though I have worries that it might not cover the detailed retina thing which would be bad) it doesn't help at all when it comes to frames or lenses.

If I want good glasses I need both.  These frames are beat to Hell.  (They've been crushed at least once.)

Now I have no idea how the fuck one reasons "We should allow people to get their eyes checked to see if they need glasses and then not let them get the glasses they find out they need," but such is life.  It also doesn't cover non-emergency dental even though it's much cheaper to not wait for an emergency and so not have one.  (Amoung my hopes and dreams is getting my teeth checked and cleaned by a professional.)  So I'm used to things not making sense.

The lenses cost 99 dollars, for an additional 89 they can be made non-glare, which I give no shits about, that has the side effect of making both sides of the lenses scratch resistant, which I give acres of fertilizer about.  (Standard lenses are only scratch resistant on the outward facing side based upon the theory that glasses will, once donned, create an eternal airtight bond with your face thus preventing any possible abrasions while wearing and preventing them from ever being not-worn.)

The frames . . . here's the thing, I know exactly what I like in glasses.  It's consistent and simple.  It and popularity don't exactly go hand in hand.

In fact, I couldn't find anything.  The actual glasses guy (entirely different than the eye doctor since glasses and eyes have very little in common and it would be silly to expect someone to specialize in both fields) had to search through his entire inventory, including the stuff that doesn't get anything like it displayed because, seriously, what are the odds?

Out of everything he has access to, he found one frame that matches what I wear.  Two if you count: I don't even look like myself because frame free glasses have achieved invisibility, and anyway, it's more expensive.

One style, two colors, such wonderful selection.  But actually, it worked out.  The style is perfect, and either of the colors would have been fine, but there's one I like more so that works out to a simple decision when it comes to aesthetics.

$219

But wait, I could take my prescription to a different place and they'd . . . nope.  The internet informs me that not only will I not be finding a cheaper option, but that glasses manufacturers in general, and frame creators in particular, have no idea what the fuck the word "oval" means.

I does not fucking mean "Rectangle with the corners slightly rounded."  No, no, fuck you, no.

Now I get that for some ungodly reason ovals are not popular, in point of fact the actual oval lens and frame glasses the guy did find appear to be trying to evoke a "retro stylings from the the 1900s" feel, but that does not change the fact that a rectangle with the points removed does not an oval make.

Oval is a loosely defined term and can cover everything from an egg shape (from which the word derives) to an ellipse (which is what I go for in my glasses), but it doesn't cover "clearly four sided figure, but shaved some around the corners and/or edges".  In the field of athletics it can also mean a figure with two (really fucking straight) sides which are connected by two semi-circles, but even that really-stretching-it meaning doesn't cover the bullshit frame makers are trying to pass off as ovals.

Words mean things, people.  For fuck's sake.

* * *

So, in conclusion, $99 for lenses, which becomes $188 if I want them to resist abrasion.  And if I want them to be things I don't hate, the frames make it add up to $407.  Presumably there's some kind of tax, but I'm not even sure what category a medical device falls under.

And I'm already in deep debt, and I owe the insurance, which --if it hasn't changed-- is $267.50 according to a Google search of what I've said before, and quarterly property tax ($657.72) comes due in August, which I obviously haven't saved up for.

So, yeah.  I've got a new prescription, there's a decent chance I'm not going to be getting new glasses because: holy fuck; the price.

Friday, June 16, 2017

My cat is safe

So, good news.  The creepy neighbor who --she herself claims-- looks through my windows (with her camera) every night because she's terrified of the raccoons, which defy the laws of physics and biology, she sees there, did not in fact abduct my cat.

My cat is here, she is fine, she hasn't been abducted by a creepy neighbor who thinks that she can do a better job of taking care of her.

So now we just have to figure out what's up with the "raccoons" that leave no physical evidence but apparently provide justification for peeping through my windows and snapping pictures.  Every god damned night if creepy neighbor's self reporting is to be believed.

The Horse can talk -- The Matter of Aravis

[This was supposed to go up yesterday, fucking auto-posting-schedule-thing failed me]
[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings, but it would have gone with this post if not for the fact comments are long since closed.]
[You know the content notes for these by now, slavery, child abuse, lack of self worth, stuff like that.]

The donkey was laying down, as it always did when a horse was in the stable.  The donkey knew that it meant Shasta would be sleeping with it, and so it made it easy on Shasta, whom the donkey knew could not sleep standing up.

That was where Shasta found the donkey when he ran into the stable.

Shasta moved to the ground near the donkey in something that was part lunge and part collapse and threw his arms around the donkey's neck.  For a time Shasta just hugged the donkey and cried.

When he finally could manage it he said, "Father is-- I mean Arsheesh, apparently he isn't my father, is . . . he's selling me.  Right now.  He's selling me to the one who owns the horse.  The man, Arsheesh calls him Tarkaan, said when he came that he only needed to stay the night so in the morning I'll be taken away from you.

"I don't want to lose you," Shasta said, he kissed the coarse fur on the donkey's neck, then cried even more.

"If I'm lucky this Tarkaan will be good, I'll have a better life, and . . ." Shasta buried his face his the fur of the donkey's neck.  It was a while before he spoke again: "Just, just hope that I'm happy when you think of me and--"

"You won't be."

Shasta's entire body jolted.

"Who said that?" he asked releasing the donkey and trying to sound brave.

"I did."

Whoever it was was right behind him.  He stood slowly and turned around. "There's an armed man in the house and--" having turned completely around Shasta saw no one. "Where are you!?"

"I'm right here."

The horse's mouth had moved.  The sound had come from the direction of the horse.  There was no space for anyone to be hiding behind the horse saying those words.  No sense was made.

"What are you?" Shasta asked, trying at once to hide his fear and to avoid offending this creature.

"I'm a Horse, obviously," the Horse said.

"Horses don't talk," Shasta said uneasily.  Then he felt comfort, the donkey had stood up too and gently rubbed against his left side.

"The unthinking animals you're used to here don't talk," the Horse said, "but where I come from nearly all the animals talk."

Without even thinking Shasta had rested his left elbow on the donkey and was stroking it with his left hand.

"Where do you come from?"

"Narnia," the horse said.  "The happy land of Narnia—Narnia of the heathery mountains and the thymy downs, Narnia of the many rivers, the plashing glens, the mossy caverns and the deep forests ringing with the hammers of the Dwarfs.  Oh the sweet air of Narnia!  An hour’s life there is better than a thousand years in Calormen."

Then it made a whinny that sounded a lot like a sigh.

Shasta's first thought was to ask where Narnia was, but then he remembered the first thing the horse had said to him.

"What did you mean: I won't be?"

"You won't be happy," the Horse said. "My master is bad.  Not too bad to me, for a war horse costs too much--"

"You're a war horse?" Shasta asked with a kind of awe.  There really were wars?  There were enough people in the world to have wars?  There were special horses for wars?

"Yes, and we mustn't waste time with idle questions," the Horse answered.  "Human slaves are not expensive, and so it would be better for you to die tonight than to be a human slave in his house tomorrow."

Shasta didn't respond.

"Things will get much worse for you if he becomes your master."

"Things things really can be worse?" Shasta asked.  It felt like all his strength had left him and he'd collapse right there."

"Yes," the Horse said, "they can."

"I-- I have to go," Shasta said, "I have to leave."

"Yes, you had better do that," the Horse said, "but why not leave with me?"

"You're going to run away?"

"All of these years I have been a slave to foreign humans, pretending to be dumb and witless like their horses," the Horse said.  "I've been waiting for a chance to escape and this is the best chance for both of us.

"You see, if I run away without a rider any human who sees me will say, 'Stray Horse,' and be after me as quick as he can.  With a human I've got a chance to get through.  That's where you can help me.  On the other hand you can't get very far on those two silly legs of yours --what absurd legs humans have-- without being overtaken.  But on me you can outdistance any other horse in this country.  That's where I can help you.  By the way, I suppose you know how to ride?"

"Oh yes, of course," said Shasta.  "I've ridden the donkey many--"

"Ridden the wha-ha-ha-ha!?" the Horse said with such contempt he was unable to finish the final word.

Shasta looked at the donkey and said, "Don't listen to him."

"It can't understand me," the Horse said.

"You've ridden the donkey," the Horse said, again speaking with contempt.  "In other words: you can't ride.  That's a drawback.  I'll have to teach you as we go along.  If you can't ride, can you fall?"

Shasta was confused by the question, "Anyone can fall."

"I mean can you fall, get up again without crying, mount again, and fall again, all without being afraid of falling."

"I-- I'll try," Shasta said.

"Poor little beast," the Horse said in a gentler tone, "I forgot you're only a foal."

---

While I reserve the title "Bree the Liar" for a horse that will be like the Bree described in gehayi's wonderful rendition, Bree here is lying his ass off. He's not a war horse, he's not the fastest horse in Calormen, and the Tarkaan isn't notably horrible. He's not a saint either --he lives in a slave holding culture and isn't exactly hosting abolitionist strategy meetings-- but Shasta's life would have been much improved had the sale gone through.

(And I also take issue with Bree's claim that nearly all the animals in Narnia talk.  Maybe it's just me, but I really don't see that working for an ecosystem.)

Bree happens to be a slave who is completely willing to lie if it'll help him escape.  Which, I think, is a completely reasonable position to take.  Mind you this Bree is still an asshole, but that's complete separate from lying to Shasta as part of his escape attempt here.

I'm finally going to get new glasses . . . in two months or so

The title of this post was originally going to be "FUCK!" or maybe "Fuck."  The point is that capitalization and punctuation are unclear, but the letters were never in doubt.

I just got off the phone with the office of the eye doctor I was, years ago, used to.  And then, as I was hanging up the phone, I found my right lens.

Now for two hours (probably a bit less, but I don't have exact times) before this I scoured the house and even followed the path I took walking the munchkin weasel to school, and the slightly different path I took back, looking for the damned lens.  No luck.

Now, just to recap, when I first needed glasses I only needed them for my right eye, which caused everyone I talked to about them to suggest I should have gotten a monacle.  My left eye is no longer a paragon of perfection, but it's still way better, and that will matter, but first:

For a very long time I had no insurance and just kept wearing the glasses I had instead of getting new ones even though my eyes are not ones to stay the same and so my prescription likely would have changed had I ever gotten one.

So I was already wearing outdated glasses at the start of the epic eye adventure.  Then they fell down a toilet.  I think they stayed in there for a year or more (two?  I never was good at keeping track of time.)  Thus I switched to emergency backup glasses which were a prescription out of date when the toilet glasses were up to date.  Then the screws gave out (one at a time) and they started being held together by the twisty ties from bread bags.

I'd actually just recently re-wrapped the left side and should have done the same to the right but never got around to it.  (I have now.)

I was doing something that made my glasses fog and risked sweat dropping on them so I took them off.  A while later I put them on.  Things were very not right, if anything I was seeing worse.  Often means that the lenses need cleaning, and it was when I went to do that that I realized the right lens was gone.

The left lens might not have been a problem.  My left eye is still pretty good.  The right lens was catastrophic.  Want to induce a headache in a hurry?  Make one eye see for crap while the other sees at or near 20-20.  With the exception of people with special training or innate talent, having your eyes not agree causes dissonance in the whole visual cortex brain-thing and the result is unpleasantness.

I was better off without my glasses, with my only limited salvation being that by the end to the day today I'll be in a position to pick up my emergency back up emergency back up glasses (never throw shit out, it can be very useful to have glasses that are three prescriptions old.)

And that was enough to get me to finally start the ball of eye exam and new glasses appointment rolling.

Immediately after which, I found the missing lens.  I re-wrapped the right side so I should be good for a while, but they don't think they have anything until August (or later) and I'm betting that:
a) it won't be in time for my birthday on the 3rd.
b) no one will be willing to pay for any expenses not covered by MaineCare (the good frames have a habit of being ones insurance disapproves of) as a birthday present.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Monthly Financial Update

Ok, so, beyond the neighbor who has been taking pictures through my windows, beyond my missing cat, and beyond a possible family of possible raccoons possibly collapsing my porch ceiling (and I use the word "ceiling" loosely here), everything hurts and nothing is beautiful.

It doesn't, mostly, have to do with money, but that's a still a big factor because it always is.  Insurance had to be paid this month which, because of the kind of landlord my mother is, means that it was paid (yay!) but I still have to pay her because it's not a gift, more of a reprieve.

That's $250-something.  (Very specific, I know, but the cat and neighbor and possible raccoons took up most of the conversations.)  Do I have that?  No.

In fact I just had to take back money that had been intended to be a gift to someone but ended up as more of an extremely short term loan just to get the monthlies done.  And one of them I did late which, when the late fee is combined with interest, means my balance went up instead of down.

Not counting things with deferred interest that will come back to bite me starting in July and bringing about the apocalypse by October, my worst interest debt (worst first) is:

$357.00 on a card that was supposed to be paid off, but I needed it.
$1,521.76 on a card I had hoped to pay off a while back but obviously didn't.
$534.29 on a card I had hopes of paying off at about the same time.

I said I'd have reason to conclude that investing in stuff was stupid, that's part of the reason.  I could have paid down some of that.

Of course if I had, I'd still need to come up with the 250-something for the insurance, and taxes will come due eventually.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I am not, on the whole, doing well.

Yesterday and the day before I was tired all the time and ended up losing consciousness rather unexpectedly while I was in the lump of inactivity being tired leads to.  Yesterday that wasn't a problem, the day before it meant I slept through when school got out and thus didn't pick up a kid it was, basically, my one and only job to pick up.

There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth.  But I've probably done useful things elsewhere, you think.  Nope.  Not even close.  I've washed maybe three to five dishes and two sheet pans and other than that . . . I got nothing.  For almost a week.

And just to make sure we're covering all the bases, my failure includes two states.  I fucked up notifying the right people of the right things and my cat apparently got locked outside for days.  A nosy neighbor who has apparently, without my knowledge or consent, been doing up close photography of the view through my windows (nothing creepy about that) announced (to someone else) that she didn't like how I was taking care of my cat, and my cat has not been seen since.

Also, she claims that there's a family of raccoons in my attic.  Whether or not I have an attic depends very much on what you mean by the term.  If you think of an attic as a place where things can be stored or anything even remotely like that, then I very much do not have one.  If you're more of a strict definition person then yeah, there is empty space between my slanted roof and my flat ceilings.  I have not, in fact, filled that space with some form of solid matter.  So, by definition, there is an attic.

What there is not, is a floor.  Now the rooms of the house all have ceilings, so there's something there that will hold up a lighter animal even if a human foot would punch straight through, but there's a thing about the windows the neighbor would have to look through to see anything up there.

They're basically a facade to make my slant roof give the impression of a non-existent second floor (or at least the kind of attic in which [plot relevant thing] containing cardboard boxes can actually be stored) so that my house, which faces an entire street of two story homes and (on the same side of the street) is next two a three story apartment building, doesn't come off as pitifully small.  They weren't placed with any kind of care because they're nothing but decoration.  We've already established no floor anywhere up there, but for where the windows are there's no ceiling.  They're over the open air porch which isn't a room, wasn't built like one, and does not have a ceiling so much as a centimeter or so thick loose conglomeration of boards that are intended to serve more as part of the roof ventilation system than any kind of load bearing structure.

You can literally stand on my porch, outside of the house, look up, and see out of those windows through what passes for a ceiling to the porch.

There's basically nothing there (there's not supposed to be much of anything there), which is fine if you're a squirrel or small bird, but the weight of a raccoon could conceivably bring the whole thing down which would be bad.  It is, quite literally, the single hardest part of my house to make repairs to.  That's why I've never got around to fixing the whole "You can see through the house from here" thing.  That's basically a cosmetic problem (remember, it's not supposed to be airtight) repairs would need to be done from the inside, and the inside is where there's zero support.  (The underside at least allows the possibility of a ladder.)

Then again I'm not sure how much I have to worry about the claims of someone who admits to peeping through my windows and taking pictures and may have stolen my cat.

But, back to matters of the self, as opposed to one adult and three baby raccoons that may or may not exist.

I haven't just been tired and generally lacking in any kind of usefulness.

I've been feeling hopeless, and helpless, and worthless.

Though, I do have a small backlog of fiction fragments so I should be able to put some more content on here regardless of whether or not I start feeling better.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Still begging for you to nominate me for meaningless awards (since the deadline was extended)

Here's how it works:
  • I can't nominate myself or my works, but I can promote them, thus the begging. (Please, please, please.)
  • Nomination is done by sending, basically, a copy and pasted form into which you have inserted your nominations either:
    • via email to sharper1988 [at] aim [dot] com
    • or, if  you have a fanfiction.net account, via a PM to the exact same person.
  • You can nominate two things per category, but you don't have to nominate anything for a given category, I certainly never have nominees for every category.
  • If you want non-[chris the cynic] options, there is a self promotion thread you can look at.
What follows is a form you can copy and paste that already has my works filled into eligible categories and is otherwise blank.

If someone were to send just that I'd be rather pleased, but it could also serve as a base to which things can be added (see the self promotion thread) and from which things can be removed (for example, if you don't find Life After: Terminology funny.)

* * *

1) Best KP Style Name (include the story/series and author they're from):
          -

2) Best Original Character (include the story/series and author they're from):
          - Leela Place Possible (Place) from Being more than a Simulacrum by chris the cynic

3) Best Minor Character (include the story/series and author they're from):
          - Joss Possible from Being more than a Simulacrum by chris the cynic

4) Best Villain (include the story/series and author they're from):
          -

5) Best Songfic (include who the author is):
          -

6) Best AU Story (include the author they're from):
          - Life After by chris the cynic

7) Best Crossover/Fusion (include mention of what is getting crossed over or fused and who the author is):
          -

8) Best Alternate Pairing (include the story/series it shows in and the author):
          -

9) Best KiGo Story (include the author):
          -

10) Best Kim/Ron Story (include the author):
          -

11) Best Comedy Story (include the author):
          - Life After: Terminology by chris the cynic
          - Life After: Dancing by chris the cynic

12) Best Romance Story (include the author and it might be good to indicate who is focused on romantically to give context for voters later on):
          -

13) Best Friendship Story (include the author and it might be good to indicate the people involved to give context for voters later on):
          - Being more than a Simulacrum (Place and Joss) by chris the cynic

14) Best Action/Adventure Story (include the author):
          - Bent, not Broken by chris the cynic

15) Best Drama Story (include the author):
          -

16) Best Unlikely/Unique Story (include the author):
          - Life After by chris the cynic

17) Best One-Shot Overall (include the author):
          -

18) Best Novel-Sized Story (include the author):
          - Being more than a Simulacrum by chris the cynic

19) Best Short Story (include the author):
          -

20) Best Series Overall (include the author):
          -

21) Best Writing Team (clarify who the members are as well as providing their combined nickname):
          -

22) Best Young Author:
          -

23) Best New Author:
          -

24) Best Single Line (say what story it appears in and who the author is, and please provide some context on this line to help people understand why it's cool):
          - "The dogs were big, the dogs were scary, the dogs were fast, but they were incapable of changing direction as quickly as a human being who could reach out, grab onto something, and pivot around it as if they hated their shoulder with a fiery passion and were just begging it to become dislocated." from Life After (Part I, Chapter 3) by chris the cynic

25) Best Reviewer (and tell us why you like them, whether it's number of reviews, insightful reviews, funny reviews, or something else):
          -

26) CPNeb Kimmunity Award (who, and try to say why just in case people aren't familiar with them):
          -

27) Kimmunity Achievement Award (Who? Doesn't need to have necessarily published in 2016):
          -

28) Best Story Overall (say who the author is):
          - Forgotten Seeds by chris the cynic

29) Best Writer:
          - chris the cynic

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

They're not monsters

[This is what think of whenever I hear about a game, movie, or TV episode where some signal or radiation or whatever turns part of the population into mindless killers while protagonists remain immune or resistant.]

I woke up to someone's face in mine, I gave about a 90% likelihood that it was male, but you never could be sure.

It was presumably attached to the hand that was snapping at one side of my vision, darting to the other side, and snapping again.

"Your visual tracking looks good, you hearing me ok?  You understand me?"

"Yeah."

"Ok, how do I look?"

"What?"

"Do I look human?"

I pushed myself into a sitting position and asked, "What kind of a question is that?"

"Ok, so no deformities, grotesqueness, or stuff of nightmares; that's good."

I looked around.  Hospital.  Abandoned.

"What's going on?"

"The human race is killing itself off, more or less."

"Start making sense."

"Hear that weird noise on the intercom?"

Not at first.  I looked around, all of the nearby speakers had been smashed.  But after a few moments I did.  It was, difficult to describe.  It played with your senses like music, but it seemed to have no pattern.  No melody.  As if it were just random noise that drew the improbability drive lottery and managed to be be evocative by sheer chance alone.

Though I couldn't pinpoint what exactly it was evoking.

"What about it?" I asked.

"That is, for lack of a better term, the signal or the transmission.  It started broadcasting about two weeks ago and it broadcasts on everything.  The intercom here, phones, tvs, computers, radios, anything that can make noise or light is putting out its version of the signal.

"And don't bother cutting the power or anything; it doesn't help.  You've got to destroy the damned thing."  My host gave a sigh.  "You try tracking down and destroying everything remotely electronic.  Damned phones alone are--"

"You haven't said what the signal-slash-transmission does."

"If you ask most anyone else, it turns people into violent monsters; it doesn't."  A pause.  "It induces hallucinations.  You and I are on the same frequency, the same wavelength, that's why you can see I'm human and understand me as speaking English.  People on different frequencies . . ."

My host sighed again.  "Humanity is now divided into, I'd say, five to twelve different factions each of which thinks that they're the only people who are immune and everyone else has mutated into grotesque and dangerous abominations."

Skeptical me came to the forefront when I asked, "Really?"

"I'll show you once you get dressed, you're not the only one who has slept through the whole thing so far but I figured it was best not to leave people on different frequencies in the same rooms.  Could lead to unfortunate things if they woke up when I wasn't around."

I was tossed a ball of clothes.

"I think they're your size."  My host started to leave.

"Oh, one other thing about the signal-transmission-thing.  It doesn't just induce the hallucinations, it keeps them synced.  If you see a zombie looking creature instead of a person, that's what I'll see too.  Reduces the chances of any of us noticing inconsistencies and starting to doubt that the monsters are real."

"If you're hallucinating just as much as anyone else," I asked, "what makes you right and everyone else wrong."

"Observation, thought, faith."

"You haven't told me your name and pronouns yet," I said.

"You haven't told me yours," my host said.  "Get dressed, we have an apocalypse to deal with."  Then my the host walked away.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Do human females usually .?.

[Apparently I last worked on this on Februrary 25th, so between breaking my ankle and getting surgery; feels like forever ago.  Might have a somewhat jumpy voice as a result]

For some reason this is in my head, jumping up and down, screaming to get out, and trying to drown out any other thoughts

Elina is an alien.  That's not her actual name, nor is it a translation.  Instead it's as close as American humans can reasonably be expected to pronounce.

Eff is a fairy.  She's one of the ones where knowing her "true" name gives individuals power over her.  When she first came to earth she almost said her true name, but stopped herself almost as soon as she started and acted as if the resulting sound were her name.  She's been using "Eff" so long now that she considers it her real name with the other being little more than a magical weakness she keeps hidden.

Tasha is a human being.  Probably with some superpower or other.

This is likely in my super person universe.

* * *

When you've just dropped your shorts and exposed yourself to your two best friends, it sort of makes your mind stop and go, Wait; what!?  How the Hell did we get here!?  Which is honestly a better thing to think about than how they won't be your two best friends any longer given what you've just let them see.

So, how did I get here?  Well E&E, my wonderful lesbian friends and team mates, apparently aren't the monogamous individuals I thought they were.  They made me an offer that I very much would have liked to take them up on, but I knew exactly what would happen if I did, so I made up excuses.

I lied.

Somehow Eff being so nice in response made it worse.  I wish you didn't feel the need to lie to us, Tash.  You could have just said you're not comfortable sharing the real reason.  We'll respect your privacy; we won't pry.  Because of course the truth would become pertinent when talking to the person who could detect lying the way a hammerhead shark detected electric fields.

Of course it came up when Eff and Elina were offering to share themselves with me, making not telling the truth feel like more of a betrayal than an ordinary lie.

Of course what they were suggesting was something I really, really wanted.

Of course, of course, of course.

I'd sighed.  I thought that maybe I'd been in one place for too long.  At least if I were driven out I wouldn't feel guilty anymore, I'd thought.  But, I also thought that maybe a middle ground was possible.  Maybe I could be selectively honest, keep the core truth hidden, and stay in this place that was the first place to be home in so long I wasn't sure if there'd really been another such place or those were just childhood fantasies that hazy memory had mistaken for reality.

So I said, "If you knew why, then you wouldn't want me around, much less as a part of your relationship."

"Whatever your secret," Elina said, trying to be comforting, "it could never break our friendship."

What if i'm a monster? I'd thought.

"You just wouldn't want me," I said.

"Surely that is for us to decide," Elina said.

Eff tried to gesture for Elina to let it go, but I'd known it wasn't likely when Elina got like this.

Part of me had known I should back off, but another part of me was extremely frustrated.  Of course I would know better, "I know what I look like under my clothes, you don't.  If you did--"

"Are you scarred?" Elina asked.  "There is nothing wrong with scars, and we would--"

"Let it go," Eff said, her hand gently grasped Elina's arm.

"Many feel ashamed of their bodies," Elina said, "but in truth all bodies are wonderful and we would never-"

Yeah, right, all sorts of people said that kind of Saturday morning cartoon bullshit.  It never proved true.  The fact that Elina seriously believed it was just . . . I had so wanted to scream.

Instead I said, "You don't want me a part of your relationship," as forcefully as I could.

"But we do," Elina said.  "This is not something we took lightly--"

"I'm serious," Eff said, "let it go."

"We discussed potential problems, could it lead to jealousy, could it make the team function less well, was this really what we wanted or just an--"

"Let.  It.  Go," Eff said.

"But she hasn't said she doesn't want this," Elina said.  "She said we wouldn't want her."

"You wouldn't," I said.

"We would," Elina said.  "We do and that--"

I was so very fucking frustrated with the whole thing.

And that is how the Hell we got here.

Both of them looking at me in shock, my shorts and panties around my knees, everything laid bare.

Elina's look changed from shock to confusion and she turned to Eff, "Do human females usually have such anatomy?"

I pulled my shorts back up.  They knew.  They'd hate me now.  I'd be driven out, I'd wander again.

Elina's question seemed to break Eff out of her own shock and she said, "Not usually. . ."

Massive understatement.  Probably about to explain how I wasn't a real lesbian because I had a penis instead of a vagina.

"But I wouldn't say it's uncommon," Eff said.

Wait, what?

"Oh," Elina said as if she'd just had a question about breakfast cereal answered.

"You're not . ? ." I tried to ask but didn't manage to find the right words to finish.

"What?" Eff asked.  "Disgusted?  Angry?  Hateful?  Feeling like rejecting you forever?  No.  We're not."

"Why would Tasha think we would react in any of those ways?" Elina asked.

"Some humans think that people like Tasha are abominable --or sick, or any number of bad things-- because they believe that all females should have the most common female anatomy and all males should have the most common male anatomy and since Tasha is a female with anatomy more commonly found in males . . ."

I don't think I've ever experienced a more surreal moment.

"They think that Tasha should change her body to match her gender?" Elina asked.

"No.  That would be unreasonable but at least make some sort of twisted sense," Eff said.  "They think that Tasha should spend her entire life pretending to be male and never, ever, show any signs of her true self."

"That is" some kind of alien profanity that likely couldn't be translated.  Elina talked like that in times of great emotion.  "It is beyond mere evil."

I finally found my voice again, "You don't-- everyone always-- I don't understand."

And I found myself in one of Elina's inescapable hugs. "I am so sorry that you have been mistreated," she said to me, "and I would never treat you like that."

Eff just looked at me with a slight grin.

Then she said, "Elina and I want you to be part of our relationship, hasn't changed in the least, so if that's what you want, just give a sign and we can move passed the chaste friend-hugs and onto the kissing."

I wasn't even sure this was real anymore.  Fever dream maybe.  But if it were real then it seemed important to do something before they changed their minds or came to their senses.  I'd lost track of my voice again, so I nodded.

Eff's smile widened considerably as she walked toward me.

Reflecting on being sold -- The Matter of Aravis, Susan Era

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings, but it would have gone with this post if not for the fact comments are long since closed.]
[You know the content notes for these by now, slavery, child abuse, lack of self worth, stuff like that.]

Part of Shasta thought that he should feel relieved. All of these years spent thinking he was broken for not being able to love his father, shouldn't some weight be lifted with the knowledge that Arsheesh wasn't his father? That Arsheesh obviously couldn't love Shasta very much if he was willing to sell him? But there was no relief. Nothing felt better. He still felt like he was deficient for not loving Arsheesh, but now he felt even worse because he also knew he wasn't loved.

He was just something Arsheesh had taken from the sea, something Arsheesh was now going to sell. Arsheesh took things from the sea and sold them every day. So what if Shasta were more valuable than the usual fish? He was still just a thing.

A thing that would soon have a new owner.

What was slavery even like? Was this slavery? Slaves did work. He did work. Maybe this was slavery. But if he was never good enough for Arsheesh, how could he hope to be good enough for this stranger, this Tarkaan? True, Shasta wasn't entirely sure what a Tarkaan was, but it was obviously something Arsheesh recognized as being above “fisherman”.

Then again, if this were slavery, perhaps things wouldn't get worse. Perhaps they'd stay the same, perhaps they'd even get better. Perhaps the Tarkaan had many slaves and so no one of them had to do as much as Shasta had had to do for Arsheesh. If there were less work in need of doing, perhaps Shasta would be able to do some of it well. Arsheesh didn't always beat him, so he must be good some of the time. If he weren't so constantly occupied maybe he could be good more of the time. Maybe even enough of the time that beatings would be rare and far between.

Perhaps, for once, Shasta could actually feel like he was doing things right.

Or perhaps that was a stupid thought.

And then there were dreams about things that Shasta had never dared to believe. He still didn't believe them, but he allowed himself indulgence. One of the the stories the traveler from the north had told was of a slave made free for doing a great deed. Some feat in battle that saved his master or something. Another told of a slave that was discovered by its family and freed.

If slaves were just humans like Shasta, and Shasta wasn't the child of Arsheesh . . . Shasta could be anyone. Maybe the reason that Shasta had barely been to the village, and always was left with the donkey when village men came to visit was that he would be recognized.

Then he could be free and . . . what did that even mean? Shasta knew that freedom was good, but he'd always thought he'd had it. If he hadn't, then what was it? Did it mean not being forced to work all the time?

Could it be like the people in those stories, the ones who had cushions and cool days and warm nights and didn't even have to walk because slaves would carry them where they needed to go?

Shasta had always dreamed of being one of those people, even though he didn't believe they were real. Dreams weren't real either.

Shasta sighed.

None of this really mattered. He'd been sold. Arsheesh obviously didn't love him, he still felt just as bad about everything he'd felt bad about before, and after sleeping with the donkey he'd be taken away to an uncertain future.

And Shasta had learned something about uncertainty: it was never good. If you weren't sure what would happen, whatever happened would be bad.

He should just go to the stable, try not to think of any of this, and snuggle up next to--

The donkey!

If he belonged to the stranger, and the donkey stayed with Arsheesh, then they might never see each other again.

Shasta ran to the stable.

-

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

General life update thing

So I've done something that's probably stupid.

See, I got some money.  A bunch of money.  Well, a bunch by my standards, yours may be different.  Anyway a donation that had a comma in it.  (American system where a period is a decimal point and a comma is used to separate every three digits on the left side of said point.)  Instead of using it to pay down some of my high interest debt I decided to use it to do hopeful things.  I have new shoes on the way and as of yesterday I have three boxes full of stuff-making components so that I can fabricate again.

I also finally got around to fixing the spring on my kitchen overhead light so that it could be used without standing on the table and forcing the chain back into it to reset things.  Well, I didn't actually fix the spring, I took a spring from a broken pen, twisted part of it into the right shape, cut it to size, (beat up a toenail clipper in the process, oops,) put it in place of the old spring that had broken more or less in half and then broke in another place when I was trying to see how the damned chain light switch thing was supposed to work.

The kind of fabrication I do uses silicone molds and two part polyurethane.  I am now set up to do this in a variety of colors, even "Totally looks like metal in spite of being plastic" which I've never done before.  Honestly, the color thing is new to me anyway, I think I've done it maybe once before.  Not "one bottle full of dye before" one singular time.

Of course, to do that kind of fabrication you need to have masters to make molds of and I most definitely do not have the luxury of paying shape-ways to make them for me right now.  Plus the only 3d modeling software I know (Alibre) is gone and its replacement (Geomagic) seems to be taking the "High cost for professionals that can afford it" route.

I've got some masters from times gone by that are just waiting to be implemented and there's a hack saw around here somewhere.

- - -

I've never really done fabrication stuff at Stealing Commas since by the time I started this place up I really didn't have the money and my few attempts to make a comeback using the aging materials that remained from times gone by were abject failures.

It'll be a new side of me for you to see, if I can make it work.  And that's a big if.

But there are things I overlooked when getting all of this expensive stuff, mostly on the mold making side.

I do two part molds and part of what that means is I need the kind of clay that doesn't dry out or harden, and a lot of fucking Legos.  Standard building legos that are the rectangular things you find in just about every lego set, but a lot of fucking legos.

The legos are what you use to make the border of the mold so the silicone doesn't just flow everywhere and become a milemeter thick coating of your entire work area.  You just build a large lego wall around where you want to pour your mold.  Trust me, it's worlds easier and a metric fuckton better than trying to make your wall with clay.

The clay is positively essential to two part molds because legos, for all their benefits, are rigid objects.  Unless something has a completely flat side that would make a good place for mold separation, you want to be able to have your master partially submerged in an otherwise mostly flat plane of clay when you pour the first half of the mold.  The flat plane marks where your mold will separate.  Once the mold is hardened you remove the clay, clean up imperfections on the plane, and flip the thing over, apply mold release so the new silicone doesn't bond to the old silicone, pour, wait, and have a two part mold.

The reason the plane is mostly flat is that for alignment and other reasons you generally want to have a (rounded) ridge near the outer edge of the mold if you practice the style of mold making that I do.


- - -


My ankle is still recovering instead of recovered and some days are better than others.  I'm at my full walking speed.  I'm afraid to attempt a jog or run.  I definitely still feel the fact that it's injured.

I had my first look at X-rays last visit.  The plate, which I can feel through my skin, is attached by five screws.  The injury was such that I also needed One Big Screw that is apparently unrelated to the plate.

There's a dark smudge that might be nothing, or might be cartilage reacting in a bad way to the whole ankle thing.  It's apparently worth keeping an eye on, but not so concerning as to get another look taken before the three month follow up I was going to have anyway.

- - -

So, maybe I'll get a chance to show off the fabrication side of my life that you've never seen, but I need clay and legos (and skill) none of which are completely certain.  Ankle continues to recover.  New shoes on the way.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The classic tale of a demon who came to buy a soul and ended up helping the person (for free) long term because prep-work -- Story Idea

[Originally posted on Facebook and came to me after I was directed to the entirely unrelated tale of Todd the demon.]

I find myself imagining a completely different situation. Someone calls on a demon to sell their soul for something or other. Trouble is that to sell a soul you need informed consent and while the person is informed their mental state is too fucked up to meaningfully consent.

Deep, deep apathy-style depression, too deep to do the basic drink-eat-sleep stuff. So the demon's all, "Ok, first we have to get you hydrated, then a good meal, around then you'll probably pass out all things considered, after that you definitely need a shower, maybe I'll clean the place up a bit, then we get you to a therapist, and hopefully at that point I can buy your soul."

This starts out with having to physically move the person around their house and bring them the water and cook them the food because the human is just too out of it to move.

But getting out of the bad mental state is a very long process and somewhere along the line the demon completely forgets (well, stops caring) that the original point of all this was to buy a soul, and instead is just hanging out with a friend who is trying to recover from debilitating depression.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Is there anything for simulating the effects of an extreme ice age?

It's relatively easy to simulate sea level rise.  Contour maps are perfect for that.  Want to simulate an X foot rise in sea level?  Look at each "X feet above sea level" contour.  Unless it marks a depression (an area completely surrounded by higher land) that's part of a new coastline.

It's crude, but it'll get the job done.  You get a new map, be it of the entire world or just one part of it, with the new sea level.

It is, theoretically, equally easy to simulate drops in sea level.  You just do the same thing with an ocean floor contour map.  I haven't actually seen any sea level drop maps out there, so I don't know if it's been implemented.

Ice, however, is complex as all fuck.

At first it seems simple enough,  It depends on temperature and precipitation.  Those two things affect each other which is the first complexity that you'll notice, but it's just the beginning.

Salt water, fresh water, dry land, and ice all react to solar heating differently.  And with both kinds of water it also depends on how deep the water is before we get to the wet land beneath it.  That in itself would be an annoying problem to tackle, but temperature and precipitation are as much determined by those things as they are by the movement of the air and water initially heated by those things.

So now we're talking about ocean currents and wind patterns, which are themselves determined by temperature, precipitation, and solid things that get in the way like land and ice.

And just to add some more feedback loops, land and ice are changing this entire time.  That mountain range that was blocking the wind might end up being a non-factor if the ice sheet (a thing known for being flat and non-mountain-like) rolls right over it.  And there aren't going to be any constants in coastal areas because the more ice there is on land the less water there is in the sea, which means more dry land and changing coast lines which is going to change the wind patterns and the water currents and also need to be factored in when thinking about the initial solar heating because as noted dry land does not react to the sun in the same way as sea water.  (Nor as ice.)

And, in short, the whole thing is a massive fucking headache.

But I very much want to be able to get some kind of simulation, however rough, of "drop the temperature/solar output by X and the world looks like Y with the ice sheet being Z thick at [point on ice sheet you clicked on]" for . . . reasons.

Good reasons?  Of course not.  Just reasons.

And I'm pretty sure no such thing exists, but considering that we haven't had a snowball earth in a long time it's not like I can just look up historical recreation maps and see various levels of extreme ice age with the continents in their current positions.

And that's annoying.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Back to School -OR- The Stupidest Time Travel Scheme Ever (Kim Possible)

[The beginning of something I've had in mind for a while, not sure if anything will come of it.  In large part I don't know if anything will come from it because all I have is the premise.]
[Picks up near the end of So the Drama.  If you want immediate canonical context, click here for the crappy low resolution video of said context that probably won't get me sued.  For more in depth context you'd need more of the plot of the movie.]

They were in the last van.  Shego wasn't entirely sure why they had saved Drakken for the last one, but she was still in pain from the reason she'd been placed with the final seven henchmen to be carted away: it had taken that long to dig her out from under the rubble of the control tower.

The EMTs had been positively amazed --to the point they wouldn't shut up about it-- by the fact Shego wasn't dead five times over --once from the kick that turned her into a projectile with enough force to shatter the tower, once from the impact that did shatter the tower, once from the electricity that coursed through her body when she hit, once from the multi-story fall after she separated from the tower, and once from the tower landing on top of her.  Their incessant ramblings about what she'd suffered did nothing to lighten Shego's mood.

The moment they gave the “Ok” to the police Shego had been loaded into the final van, only Drakken sat farther from the door than she did, in spite of her being the last one placed in the van.

“This is not over!” Drakken shouted in a particularly whiny voice. “Aw, this can't be over.”

Shego just glared.

“Deal with it, dude,” Stoppable said, slamming the door closed, “it's--”

The van sped away, but it wasn't hard to guess what Stoppable had been about to say.

They'd been traveling three hours, this was not a time when they'd be thrown in a local jail, when Shego finally deinged to speak to Drakken.

“We could have won if you had bothered to tell me the actual plan.”

“Shego?” Drakken's voice had nothing but confusion.

“Do you want a list?”

“Maybe?”  Now there was fear.

“I didn't know we had a mole in her inner circle until you had me go to Middleton and even then it wasn't you who told me, it was the synthodrone.  If I had known maybe he wouldn't have been so useless.”

“Synthodrone 901 served his purpose,” Drakken said defensively.

“He didn't keep her from learning about the plot, he didn't keep her from stopping it in Middleton, he didn't keep her from stopping it in general, and he didn't provide any useful intelligence.  We had a spy who accomplished nothing.”

“He wasn't a spy, he was a--”

“If he were a distraction then you shouldn't have had me bring him to our base of operations!” Shego snapped. “I could have taken him to the Caribbean lair, let a few clues slip, and she'd have thought that was our base of operations.  When the signal actually went out she'd be stuck on an island and wouldn't have been able to reach our command tower on a moped.”

“Well . . .” Drakken was back to fear.

“By the time a boat or plane got her passed the robots and back to the mainland we'd have been able to set up, at least, a secondary tower.  Maybe even a tertiary one.  Then she wouldn't be able to stop us just by taking out one tower.”

“Multiple overlapping global control systems . . .” And now Drakken was being thoughtful.

He wasn't supposed to be thoughtful, he'd royally screwed this up.

“The only thing the synthodrone did was keep her mildly distracted for a short time and then deliver an electric shock.  A shock that wouldn't have been necessary if you hadn't screwed up the planning stages.”

“I don't--” And he was back to being afraid with just a hint of defensiveness.  Good.

“It was never going to be enough to dangle a 'syntho-hottie' in front of her for an absurdly short period of time and think that that could keep her from listening to the buffoon when he found out you were using his favorite restaurant as a part of your scheme.

“You didn't need to have everything on an accelerated time-frame just so you could threaten her prom date.  If you were going to get someone close to her they should have been an agent who established a relationship with her over an extended period before the plan came to fruition.

“It didn't even need to be a date, we could have had an agent becoming her friend, made a few fake plots for her to foil while the the agent got close to her, worked on dividing loyalties and maybe sabotage that damned hair dryer grappling hook or something.

I could have done a better job than the synthodrone!”

Drakken's eyes seemed to light up.  This was not good.

“What did you say?” he asked.

“It was just an example,” Shego said, now she was worried.  “I don't do undercover and Kim hates me, which makes me a horrible choice for such a mission, but even with those two things against me I still could have done a better job than the drone did because he was just that bad.”

“No, you're right,” Drakken said.  Shego could tell from the way he said it that this wasn't the good kind of being right.  New schemes were developing inside of his mind and they were the worst type of scheme there could be: ones that used her.

Not included her, used her.

“You would be perfect.”

“Drakken,” Shego said in a voice that would make any normal person run for cover.

“You could become her friend, do girl things with her that the buffoon never would, since you're her equal in combat you could join her on missions as a partner rather than sidekick, rendering the buffoon and his rodent obsolete, you could become essential to every aspect of her life so that she came to depend on you without even realizing it, and then, at the critical moment, KABOOM!

“This is so much better than a made to order syntho-hottie.”

This was a disaster.

It was time to change tack.

“Do you want me to tell you why that won't work?” Shego asked in a civil voice.

“But it will work!” Drakken shouted in glee.

“You already tricked her into liking a new acquaintance.  She'll be suspicious.  She's known me since she took your nano-tick, so there'll be no convincing her I'm not her enemy.  I graduated from college with a two year degree in child development--”

“Why didn't you tell me you had a degree in that?” Drakken asked. “You could have helped with my research.”

“The slumber parties were not research,” Shego said, “and my point is that I can't pass as a high school student.”

“Oh but you can,” Drakken said in a way that truly disturbed Shego.  “And you'll soon see that all of your concerns are easily dealt with.”

“The electricity confounded my powers,” Shego said, completely serious now; “if I try to use them I could very well vaporize the entire van along with us inside of it.”

“I fail to see-”

“If you don't abandon this line of reasoning,” Shego said, “I'll risk it in the hopes that I can beat you until you've been knocked into a different train of thought.”

“But Shego, this was the closest we've ever come to world domination and you're right that you'd do a much better j--”

Blinding green light filled the van.

* * *

“They got away!?” Possible asked.

“Isn't it traditional to actually go to prison before breaking out?” Stoppable asked.

“Shego!” Drakken called, pulling her attention away from the screen she was watching the intercepted conversation on.

“Shego, the time has come to tell you of my greatest scheme yet.”

“Are your burns even healed yet?” Shego asked.

“Enough of that,” Drakken said quickly.  “Walk with me.”

She sighed and followed him through their traditional fallback lair, the Caribbean lair.

“Shego, what do you know about time travel?” Drakken said.

“I hate time travel,” Shego said reflexively.

“But do you know why?” Drakken asked in a very smug way.

Of course she knew why, she hated time travel because . . .  because . . .

“Last year, in late summer, there were ripples through space-time that I have determined were a result of a failed attempt to change the world via time travel--”

“Is this going somewhere?”

“Whatever happened was so paradoxical that it effectively wrote itself out of the space time continuum but echos of the experience lingered with a select few individuals,” Drakken said.  “Strong feelings that seemed to come from nowhere.  You yourself ended up disliking time travel, while I developed an irrational fear of control collars--”

“What?”

“They don't exist yet,” Drakken said with a wave his hand.  Then he added, “And I hope they never will,” with a shudder.

“Ok . . .” Shego said.

“Because of your sudden distaste for time travel I shelved the work I'd done on the space-time ripples--”

Shego didn't believe that, so she asked, “Like you gave up on cloning after I told you, 'No cloning'?”

“Fine,” Drakken said as if he'd just been forced to make some major concession.  “I couldn't find a way to use time travel to our advantage without inevitably causing a paradoxical collapse, especially since I was only able to locate half of the item that served as a locus for the temporal distortions.

“I can only safely send one person through time and even with minimal equipment that person would have to weigh one hundred and fifteen pounds or less.  That rather limits any grand schemes.”

Shego knew she didn't want to know, but curiosity compelled her to ask anyway, “So why are you bringing this up now?”

“Your idea of a long term sleeper agent has made me reconsider the possibilities that are available to us.”

Shego recognized this as very not good, believed that Drakken's burns from the van incident must not have been severe enough, and was very eager for her powers to stop being on the fritz so she could properly dissuade him from this line of reasoning.

“It is true that Kim Possible would wary of new friends now, it's true that she's been able to recognize us since first meeting us, and it's true that you're too old to be a high school student.”

And it was true that Shego had an immense sinking feeling.

“Before she met us, however, she had no reason to be suspicious, she wouldn't recognize us, and once I've used my juvinator to make you the appropriate age . . . well, more than half of all 15 year old girls weigh less than 115 pounds.”

“You're planning to send me to high school for two years?” Shego asked.  Drakken took a step back.  He seemed to finally be getting a sense of her mood.  She could always beat him with her bare fists.  She didn't need powers to beat him up.

“Now, Shego . . .” Drakken said while speeding his backward motion.

* * *

In the end, Shego was convinced, but not by Drakken.  Part of the equipment that could be sent back with her was a small handheld computer with positively amazing storage capacity, and she'd carefully decided what to load onto it.  The in depth history of every stock market on the planet, digital copies of every single book that was made after her arrival and every patent that had been granted or applied for, winning lottery numbers, archaeological finds, so on, so forth.  She didn't need a a computer to record the locations of a plethora of priceless objects that were being protected by security that was, to her, a bit over two years out-dated.

Everything would be thrown off track fast, the only winning numbers she could count on were the first ones, releasing a runaway bestseller before the real author even wrote it would shake up the literary world, it would be difficult to tell how long she could play stocks before the market completely changed, archaeological finds wouldn't be a problem, though getting permits might.

Drakken's limited time travel would only allow her to go back to early December 2001 --Shego considered this a very good thing as it meant she'd only have to endure half of freshman year-- and by that Christmas she'd be so rich she wouldn't know what to do with the money.

Drakken thought she wanted the schematics for his holo-technology to create fictitious parents for her cover.  In fact she needed it so that when she won every lottery on the planet the people who sold her the tickets, and the people who gave her the jackpots, would see adults instead of a 15 year old girl.  Different adults because if the same adult won everything people would be suspicious.  Same reasoning for books and inventions.

She'd convinced Drakken that she'd need to able to be inside of the of the holograms sometimes because people would expect the “parents” to be able to touch things, and he'd come through for her on that point.  So no worries about physically picking up the tickets, shaking hands, or anything like that.

Shego was a thief, and she was about to steal a lot of people's futures . . . pasts . . . whatever; she really did hate time travel.  Still, it would be the greatest job she ever pulled.  The only problem was that Drakken would be able to stay in contact with her, and yank her back if he felt she was betraying him, so she'd need to also go through the motions of his stupid plan.

Well, that wasn't the only problem.  Even if she could cut herself off from Drakken, the juvinator couldn't go back with her, meaning she'd be stuck as a teenager.  Still, the past would be her playground, and Drakken had rigged up something to let her know how much change was too much, so she didn't have to worry about the universe getting fed up with her changes and spitting her out.

So it was that before summer's end in 2004, Shego was sent back to early December of 2001.

-
- - -
-

Time travel, the "echoes", and the "juvinator" are from the movie a Sitch in Time.  Most of what Shego says to Drakken is picking out holes in his So the Drama scheme.  Given the nature of the plan and the hope to avoid a catastrophic paradoxical collapse, Shego would be in deep cover and never actively working against Kim until she caught up to the time when she left which covers three seasons (the entire original run) of Kim Possible.  Surely there's nothing that could possibly go wrong with such a plan.

Again, Shego was not convinced by Drakken's actual plan, it's just something she'll endure in order to use time travel to get absurdly rich with minimal effort.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Setting a price -- The Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings, though really ought to go with this post.]
[content note: mention of child abuse, slavery, starvation]

Shasta returned from the stable and sat by the door. Men did not visit Arsheesh with any great frequency, but it had happened often enough that Shasta had found the most comfortable position to sit in, and a favorite crack to place his ear against.

Arsheesh spoke the way he did when anticipating a particularly good day for fishing or selling. It was how he spoke when he anticipated a windfall with greed in his heart, but Shasta didn't know that any more than he knew there were villages besides the one that lay about a mile to the south.

The words Shasta heard were, ". . . what price could induce your servant, poor though he is, to sell into slavery his only child and his own flesh?"

The truth was that Shasta knew almost nothing of slavery.

Some of Arsheesh's guests had mentioned slaves when talking about this or that, and the traveler from the north had told stories of people who had unbelievable numbers of slaves, but that was all he knew. The part of the village he had been to was visited only by free men and slaves so trusted they had been rewarded with the trappings of freedom. Shasta didn't even realize he had ever seen a slave, and he didn't know where they came from.

For him they had been like some sort of magical being, one he wished he had access to when he spent his days working with barely any pause.

The idea he might become a slave shocked Shasta so much that his mind seemed to stop.

Arsheesh continued, and Shasta heard, but his thoughts and his feelings were numbed to the point he barely noticed that he heard. "Has not one of the poets said, 'The bond between father and son is stronger than folded steel, and one's offspring more precious than water in an endless desert."

"One of the poets has said that," the man replied, "however the selfsame poet also said, 'It is more difficult to hide the truth than it is to conceal the tallest tower or the greatest army.' Not his best work, perhaps, but he did say it."

"My lord?"

"The boy looks nothing like you," the man replied, "his name gives me pause, and I have seen the mark of your 'bond' upon his 'precious' skin."

"It is true that I have been strict with him, but one of the--"

"The poets said many things, and imparted great wisdom, but none of the things the poets have said will excuse you if you fail to tell me the truth. How did you come across a boy so obviously foreign --boreal*-- so far from our northern border?"

"It is true that he is not of my flesh," Arsheesh said --Shasta knew he should feel something, but no feeling came-- "but I have raised him as my own and--"

"You are trying to drive up the price," the man said sharply. "Tell me his origin."

"I have never taken a wife, I knew that I would never be able to afford one, and so believed that I would be without child forever, but one day, the year after the Tisroc, may he be blessed with long life, came to the throne --beginning his august and beneficent reign-- the gods delivered to me a child."

"The gods work in myriad ways, many poets have said," the man said, "How did they deliver you this child?"

"The fish were scarce that year and I was forced to travel further than my humble boat could be wisely taken," Asheesh said. "Many times I found myself at the mercy of the southern current. On one day I saw another boat caught in a similar fate. When I approached the boat I found a dead man and the boy, then a baby. It was fortunate that he was old enough to eat, for there was no sign milk --only water-- and the man had clearly starved himself to keep the baby fed."

"Truly it must have been the doing of the gods," the man said, "if you came across such a scene in the short time between when the man starved to death and the babe did the same."

"I took the child both as a blessing from the gods and because they command that one befriend the destitute," Asheesh said, "but was forced to leave the boat and the dead man in the southern current."

"Before the gods delivered the boy to you, they entrusted him to the man who starved," the man said. "There is no more reason to believe that they wish the boy to stay with you, than there is to believe that they wished the boy to stay with him. It takes only a glance to see that you've had ten times the cost of his bread in labor because you took him. Perhaps it is the will of the gods that someone else benefit from the boy."

"You yourself have wisely said," Arsheesh said, "that the boy’s labor has been, to me, of inestimable value. This must be taken into account in fixing the price. For if I sell the boy I must undoubtedly either buy or hire another to do his work."

Wait, what? Shasta thought.

"Fifteen should be a reasonable price," the man said.

"Fifteen!" Arsheesh cried out in indignation that didn't seem to be fully real, "Fifteen! For the prop of my old age and the delight of my eyes! Do not mock my gray beard, Tarkaan though you be. My price is seventy."

I'm a dead fish, Shasta thought, for he recognized this as the same kind of argument Arsheesh had over the price of this or that fish in the village.

Shasta walked away from the door, stumbling a bit and feeling numb.


-

* Yeah, it's a Latin word, but I wanted to invoke the idea of "oriental". Shasta is exotic and strange and comes from a culture that civilized Calmorene citizens don't need to learn any actual facts about because it's enough to know that it's this mysterious place of the other. (Which appears in entertaining stories which include fantastic things like talking beasts and lion gods and ice witches and . . .)

For Arsheesh that would have been his first major selling point if he hadn't thought he could get a higher price by trying to get the monetary value of a father's love. For the Tarkaan it's just a quick way to say, "Totally not one of us, drop the 'father-son' bullshit"

Latin directional adjectives:
boreal == northern
austral == southern
occidental == western
oriental == eastern

Northern and southern both have alternatives, where oriental and occidental are pretty well your only major options for eastern and western. This is because of the sun. At their roots oriental and occidental are rise and set, so the east/west connection was obvious. The sun is lacking in any daily impressive-looking north/south action, so other names needed to be found. Boreal and austral both have their roots in winds.

By the way, the Tarkaan here isn't Anradin. That happened about a hundred years later and far to the west. There was no fisherman in that story, for there were no fish in that place.

Also on that "other time, other place" note, the origin story of Shasta provided by Lewis goes with another story. I've kept Shasta the same age by pushing back the date of his discovery to a time when he would, barely, be able to be sustained on solid food.

I know that a northerly wind blows from the north to the south (that is, a northerly wind causes air to move southerly; there is a reason people get confused) because winds are named for their direction of origin.

I do not, however, know ocean current terminology. In fact, I'm not sure there really is one. Currents, being things that persist where winds do not, have names. Thus I decided to just go with what felt right. The southern current is a current that flows south and is useful if you're making a southern journey but annoying as all Hell if you're a fisherman who navigates by going due east to reach his fishing grounds and then due west to get home.

The southern current is actually an immense eddy that dominates this part of the coastline, it's much faster, and much smaller, than the northern current that gives rise to it. Somewhere, far to the north, part of the northern current smashes into an outcrop of land that forces a large amount of water to make a U-turn, it also forces the water into a smaller space, same amount of water moving + smaller space = faster flow this flow continues because, in a place to the south, the northern current is pushed far away from the coastline, the southern current flows south to that place, turns again, and much of the water rejoins the northern current.

Does any of this make sense? Narnia is a flat world. It doesn't so much have to make sense as it needs to sound plausible. I think --I hope-- it sounds plausible.