Friday, February 27, 2015

Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most...vulcan.

So I want to talk about Spock as portrayed by Leonard Nimoy.

Mr. Nimoy died today of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the age of 83.  As a response a lot of people are quoting the eulogy Kirk gives Spock in the movie where Spock dies.

It's not a long speech.  It's quite short.  This is the full thing:
We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most *voice breaks* human.
Of course in the next movie the new life and new world explode because Kirkson took shortcuts in his science while Spock's death would be undone (spoiler).  So pretty much all of that is invalidated, but that's not the point.

Anyway, people aren't quoting the whole thing, just the last line, often only part of the last line:
of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most ... human.
Lonespark noted that that's somewhat problematic.  (And by somewhat I mean ... more than somewhat.)

Here's why: He's not human.

Spock as portrayed by Nimoy was a complex character and great credit has to be given to Nimoy for crafting that character given that, especially in the beginning, the writing on Star Trek kind of ... sucked.  The layers to Spock (Vulcans are like onions) are due to two things.  First, the writing got a significant upgrade with The Wrath of Khan and while it never managed to sustain that upgrade (looking at you Star Trek V, Generations, Insurrection, X, and Nu-Trek not to mention various episodes from every series) it did keep on hitting some pretty good notes.

The second was Nimoy himself.  Even when he didn't have that much to work with he managed to put a lot into the character, and he worked with the writers when he thought the character wasn't being used well enough.  (Though not even he could prevent ... "Spock's Brain"† *horror movie music*)

As I said, Nimoy deserves enormous credit for what he did with his portrayal, I'm not going to do any more hammering of that point because I don't want this to be me pulling out a thesaurus for synonyms of "great" (tons of, huge, inestimable, unfathomable, ginormous, metric fucktons of, colossal, really fucking huge...) to put in front of "credit".

Other people will eulogize Nimoy better than I ever could, I want to talk about the character he played, so here we go:

-

Spock is half human but he identifies as Vulcan.  There's a tension in him where he has to biologically admit that he's part human, and he loves his mother (his human parent), but he always stays away from identifying as human.

Listen to Spock talk about himself and one could be forgiven for completely missing the fact that he's part human in the first place.  He is the anti-Star Lord.  Instead of being a half-alien who identifies as completely human he's a half-human who identifies as completely alien.

Part of this may be that he was raised on Vulcan where, presumably, other than his mother he didn't have many humans to emulate, but a lot of it has to be chalked up to personal choice.  Spock chooses to be a Vulcan.

[Added: Well, he chooses to identify himself as a Vulcan and I'll touch on the difference between the two things further down before retreating from the matter because I don't want to go down the rabbit hole of interpreting intentions behind expression of identity so much as point out the importance of respecting said expression.]

He could wear a headband that covered his ears and correct anyone who has the nerve to act like he isn't human, but he doesn't.  He is, by choice, a Vulcan first, foremost, and almost exclusively.

He is not someone who struggles with which part of his heritage to embrace, he's made his choice and he identifies as a Vulcan, not a Vulcan-Human or a Human-Vulcan.  The noun isn't hyphenated or split, it isn't watered down with the adjective "half".

In the original series†† Spock is on an almost exclusively human starship where even his closest friends make racist anti-Vulcan jokes at his expense.  In this environment he has every reason to run away from his non-human heritage but he does the opposite.  He embraces it.

Nimoy's portrayal gives you room to argue that he clings to being a Vulcan because other people think he should be ashamed of it, or that he owns the identity in spite of that, or even (and this is where I come down) a bit of both, but what it makes very, very clear is that --whether you view it as a response to or defiance of prejudice, whether you view it negatively or positively, whether you view it as weakness or strength (clinging and defiance are intentionally charged words)-- his identity is that he is a VULCAN.

Spock is half Vulcan half human by birth.  Spock is Vulcan by choice.

Literally the child of two worlds, he has chosen one of those worlds as the one he identifies with.

The movie that ends with Spock's soul being called the most human Kirk has ever encountered begins with this exchange (spoken in the Vulcan language):
Saavik: He's never what I expect, sir.
Spock: What surprises you, Lieutenant?
Saavik: He's so - human.
Spock: Nobody's perfect, Saavik.
Humans aren't the only ones who can be racist.  But the point here is not that Saavik and Spock are remarking on the strangeness of humans the way everyone else constantly remarks on the strangeness of Vulcans when discussing Spock.

The point is also not that Spock employs human expressions (something that will still be true eighty years later when he meets Data.)

The point is that Saavik comments on Kirk being so very human and Spock chalks it up to universal imperfection.  Being human is a flaw.

Some of the last words he says before sacrificing himself to save everyone still alive on the ship:
As you are so fond of observing, doctor, I am not human.
It takes dying, being resurrected, going through time, mixing brains with a cetacean, going through time again, and saving the earth just to get him to say a three word phrase acknowledging his humanity ("I feel fine") to his quite-human mother and even then he does it through the intermediary of his Vulcan father.  This in spite of the fact that rejecting his humanity carries with it connotations of rejecting his mother, whom he happens to love.

Spock is very much not on board with being human.  Don't get me wrong, he has no problem with it as a biological fact, but as an identity he's just not there.  He is, and always will be, a Vulcan.

Here's why this is important: this sort of thing doesn't just apply to people from other planets.  There are a lot of identities where this very sort of dynamic is at play.

Race, nationality, religion, all sorts of ethnicity, and so forth are identities embraced, ignored, or rejected by an individual.

Race is the one that comes to mind most quickly, and we just have to imagine someone saying that Obama possessed the most Caucasian soul they'd ever met to see where Kirk's line is a problem, but other things are just as important.

Race, in fact, only matters because in relatively recent times (some centuries, little more) we have imposed the idea of race so strongly upon ourselves and others as to turn race (a made up concept) into its own form of ethnicity.

With many things there are no visible markers.

Consider nationality.  If someone were born to an American father and a Russian mother, grew up in Russia, referred to zirself as Russian, became a national hero in Russia, became the face of Russia for those outside of Russia, and so forth, it would probably be somewhat less than ideal to eulogize them by saying they had the most American soul you'd ever encountered.

Obviously Kirk meant well and Spock would have understood that, but Kirk happens to be a racist (not that he usually notices this fact) and what he said was both appropriation (he was totally on team US) and erases Spock's chosen and maintained identity as a Vulcan.

Kirk happens to be under a great deal of emotional distress at the time and he can probably be given a pass.  Perhaps dying in winter in a place where the ground is too cold for grave digging is a good idea just so that your racist best friend will have time to to emotionally settle and thus deliver a eulogy that doesn't inadvertently trample on your identity.

-

Identity is multifaceted and continuous rather than discrete, so it's hard to say anything all encompassing about it.  This seriously fucks people up when they don't realize how varied it is and try to explain things to people who are not like them.

The examples that come most to mind are ones that involve sexuality and gender identity.

Some people pull out the line, "When did you choose to be straight?" only to be flabbergasted that the other person has an answer.  Just because something isn't a choice for you doesn't mean it isn't a choice for everyone.

People attempting to explain what it's like to be a trans man or woman (generally not the other types of trans people) often tell cis people to imagine their body was one of the opposite sex.  Which leads to them sometimes being floored when a cis person says in all sincerity that that wouldn't bother them in the least (depending on the exact scenario put forward there might be other things that would be disturbing.)  They've assumed that because this part of identity is important to them it's important to everybody.  In reality it seems that how much it matters varies and some people don't care in the least and are thus content to go with whatever their body seems to indicate.

I'm not sure precisely why those were the examples that came to mind, but they were.

Being Vulcan is important to Spock.  It's not just the shape of his ears, the location of his heart, and the color of his blood.  It's his culture, it's his heroes, it's his philosophy.  It's his him.

When discussing people it is important to remember that they have a say in who they are.  They aren't always the final word ("I'm not a crook," said Richard Nixon) but they've got a definite say in the matter.

Spock was a Vulcan.  He may have seen this as a choice, he may not have, but he was very much a Vulcan in terms of his identity.  Calling him the most human soul misses that fact and erases an important part of who he was.

This is not to say that having a human mother had no effect upon him.  I don't think he'd deny his human heritage, and while he has no regrets about pursuing being a Vulcan to the exclusion of being human he's still the kind of person who says, "No regrets," which is not a Vulcan expression.  (Thank you, Data, for picking up on that because otherwise we'd probably have assumed that Vulcans did have such an expression and it was just translated to the equivalent human expression.)

Humanity has left an imprint on him, to be sure, but at the end of the day if you're looking for a species to call him, he's a Vulcan.

For all of the emotional weight that Kirk's words have, they were extremely poorly chosen.

Not that I think Spock would object; as he says, "Nobody's perfect."  He's made peace with the fact that his closest friend happens to be a racist against his species.  As he's managed to do that, I think he'd take the words as intended, not as spoken.

Still, the words were bad.

-

The original crew of the Enterprise makes its exit thus:
Commander Uhura: Captain, I have orders from Starfleet Command. We're to put back to Spacedock immediately ... to be decommissioned.
Captain Spock: If I were human I believe my response would be, "Go to Hell." If I were human.
Commander Chekov: Course heading, Captain?
Captain Kirk: Second star to the right and straight on till morning.*
"If I were human."  Good use of the subjunctive there, Spock.

It's a brilliant bit of Spock's sense of humor because he's essentially doing, "I'm not saying, 'Go to Hell,' but: go to Hell," except flipping it inside out, but it's also clearly saying that he's not human.

It's using his claim of not being human to pull apophasis, basically, "Since I'm not human I won't say, 'Go to Hell.'" *pause as everyone looks at him* "I'm not saying it because I'm not human."

My point here is simply this: Spock ends with the same tune he's always played in the innumerable variations as delivered by the incomparable Leonard Nimoy: he's not human.  It's not really a question of biology, he's got as much claim to humanity as he has to Vulcanity, it's a question of identity.

Who he is (not what he is, though that too) is a Vulcan.

-

† Skipping straight to the dagger because having an asterisk footnote next to using asterisks for stage direction would be confusing.  Formatting notes aside, "Spock's Brain" is probably the "The Great Vegetable Rebellion" of The Original Series.

I will always remember hearing the story of "The Great Vegetable Rebellion"'s script being turned over by the writer.  He couldn't bring himself to hand the script to his boss.  Boss asks why he's standing there holding the script and not giving it.  The writer says because it's terrible.  Boss asks why he wrote it.  Writer responds that it's the only thing in his head.  Writer finally relinquishes script.  Thus there is a Lost In Space Episode where the antagonist is a man in a carrot suit.

"Spock's Brain", the first episode to air after NBC grudgingly revived Star Trek (but with a slashed budget and in a bad time slot), tells the story of the Enterprise crew scrambling after Spock's brain is stolen.  Yeah, you heard me, the aliens of the week stole his brain.  Left the rest of his body intact and alive, but they took his fucking brain, man.

It was, if anything, worse than it sounds.  (And not just because of the aliens-of-the-week's fucked up gender roles.)

†† Not capitalized here because I'm emphasizing the originalness, not the brand-name-like tag.  The original series is, happily, called The Original Series, but it didn't have to be.  Surf II (the end of the trilogy) was not the second "Surf" movie and all sorts of things claim to be the beginning of this or that saga when they're made well after the fact.

My point in lowercasing it is to bring home the fact that this means "in the beginning" but not just in the beginning since the beginning in question lasted for three seasons.  In the beginning and onward.  My point in footnoting it is to bring that fact not just home but into the same room

* It's a sad and strange affair that Chris Pine as James T. Kirk would never be able to deliver this line properly but Chris Pine as Jack Frost would be able to sell the line so well it'd be sold out two months before an official announcement was made that it was going to go on sale.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A toast to tilting at windmills

I'm kind of divided over what to write here.

I don't want to write, "Nevermind, I'm back," because I'm not.  I don't magically have heat.  Things will not suddenly go back to normal.

But at the same time, the secular (done by people, not gods or angels) miracles in my life continue.  Twenty four hours ago, give or take depending on how long it took me to write that post, I was tearfully composing a goodbye while trying to communicate how much you, the readers, have meant to me.  I didn't think it was inconceivable that I might get donations that would mean I could afford to replace the boiler, for I know what that word means and can conceive quite a bit, but I did think that it was a completely unreasonable hope.

I mean, I remember a time when it seemed like I wouldn't be able to stay in my house because I couldn't afford heating oil.  It seemed like an impossible insurmountable problem.  Not even to fill the tank, just to afford the minimum the local companies would deliver.  The tank recently went empty (the accompanying cold is probably what broke the boiler though it took almost a month for the break to become apparent) and when I got oil I had the tank filled completely.

It cost $520.26.  Meaning you could fill the tank more than 11 and a half times (with oil to spare) for the $6.000, estimated, needed to replace the boiler.

My point is that this was and is on an entirely different scale than the problems I've faced before.  It didn't seem reasonable to expect that there was a solution.  Especially since every time that people have helped me before meant that those people, obviously, were out whatever money they used to help me.

So twenty four hours ago, again: give or take, it seemed like being forced from my home by being unable to replace the boiler was a foregone conclusion.

Now I have the money.  (Donated via Paypal.)  You're still my miracles, it would seem.

Of course the money is a first step.  Like I said, I don't magically have heat.  I'm probably going to have to spend several days shoveling some kind of path around the house.  Actually figuring out what model boiler will be installed by whom and when needs to happen.  Lots of stuff needs to happen.

As much as I'd like to, I can't say that I'm going to go right back to posting like I was before because that's not true.  Until this is sorted out I'm going to have less blogging related and more survival oriented thinking on my mind.

I don't know if that means intermittent posts or hiatus until normal posting can resume.

What I do know is that it means I was wrong.  It's not goodbye.

Myself, my cat, and my lizard will be able to stay in our home.  The fact that the boiler will be replaced makes stopgap measures feasible in the interim.

I'll be sleeping over an electrically heated ... thingy, for example.  My lizard's heat lamp will not be going off.  (It has a can it can go into to provide darkness.)  My cat has already decided that things have gotten cold enough that she wants to spend time in my vicinity a hell of a lot more than she would if temperatures were normal (my cat's affection is inversely proportional to the ambient temperature.)

Exactly what will happen when is uncertain, but that I won't have to leave has gone from an impossible dream to the default assumption.

So I'll be trying to keep on dreaming impossible dreams.  This blog has survived on unreason and a refusal to acknowledge when things were hopeless this long, and it looks like it'll keep on going.


I had to look up the plot of Man of La Mancha to understand the cuts in that video.

Less dropping dead and Spanish Inquisition, more reaching of the unreachable star.

Windmills are ravaging the country side, someone has to take a stand.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Just to end on a down note

I was supposed to deposit a check in the bank for my mother today.

Because heating system I couldn't do it in the morning.

I live on a hill.  An up side of this is that it's possible to move heavy things into my basement without using any stairs.  A down side of this is that the stairs therefore didn't need to be designed as a way to move stuff into the basement.  So repair guy wanted a look at where things could potentially be brought in.  This was pointless as it's the very back end of the house and there is no shoveled path to get there.

Anyway... to show him this meant walking through the giant puddle on the floor which left me with wet feet and wet pants.  (I was barefoot.)

After he left I talked to my mother and one of the things that I said was that, with heating stuff done for the day (and doom looming) I could bring the check to the bank.  It seemed a reasonable thing to say, all I had to do was change into dry clothes, put on shoes, put on socks, and walk to the bank.

It took me a while to get that sorted out.  Did I mention that in all the depressing news I forgot my medication? (and Lonespark reminded me and everything)  That tends to make it more difficult to accomplish stuff.

The house tends to freeze under, not over.  Feet in water on the basement's concrete floor are the coldest fucking thing in the house, as you might imagine.

So my smallest toes were going numb, as they are wont to do.

By the time I had shoes and socks on I'd forgotten about the check and the bank.

The bank is across the street from my street.  If you stand in my street and look straight down it you see the bank's parking lot.  My house is third from the corner (counting the house on the corner.)  All of this is to say that the bank is very easy to get to.

Give me five minutes and I'll have more than enough time to get there.

So, naturally, my mother didn't mention the check and the bank again until the bank had been closed for 40 minutes.

Which works out wonderfully because whenever I'm in a state of despair I always think, "You know what I could use right now?  A giant helping of guilt."

I can't deliver it tomorrow because I have to head out at 6-AM-ish to get to school on time and the bank doesn't open until 8:30 AM.

-

I'm currently in the process of draining water from the pipes of the house in hopes that they will not freeze and burst.

The furnace, for that is what I call it in spite of it being a boiler, is the lowest point of the water system in the house.

This leads to an interesting feature.

After the faucets were opened and allowed to run dry (itself taking place after the water into the house had been shut off) the easiest way to drain the water still in the pipes (that being the vast majority of the water) was/is through the furnace.

It can't hold enough water to safely heat the house.  It can still hold a shitload of water.

Draining it is no easy task.  Made all the more difficult by the fact that the only tools I have to use for the draining process (that is to say the only containers small enough to get to the bottom drain) are designed to hold two pounds of yogurt.   They're not very big.

-

Here's an added bit of fun:

I haven't paid for tuition yet.  I've always said that I was planning on handling it myself and I was confident that if financial catastrophes got the fuck out of my way I could manage it.

But if I don't have a house to live and work in that kind of fucks with my plans.

So $6,000 dollars to replace the boiler and be able to stay in my home.  But, if I don't manage to get that money fast enough (which assumes I get it at all and that is not, on the whole, likely) then I have absolutely no plans for paying for tuition (approximately $4,000) that involve "I can make this work while homeless" as a premise.  So round it off to a nice $10,000.

Remember what I said last post about the term for this situation?  Yeah.

Anyway, this looks to be near the last night I get to spend in my house, the heat already in here simply can't last more than a day or two given the cold outside, so tomorrow I'll head out before dawn, and I have no fucking clue what will become of me after that.  I'll go to classes, none of which I'll be prepared for (do you think I had any time to do school work today?) and when they end I don't know.  I'm lost.

There's some possibility I might be able to set up electric heaters and make some part of my house livable.  So maybe I can come back come nightfall.

Otherwise I have to go to stay with my father or my sister.  Neither of these things is good.  I've been bullied and mistreated a lot in my life, but the majority of the emotional scars I carry with me are from the abuse those two have heaped on me.  The infuriating part is that they don't even realize, and will not allow themselves to realize, that it is abuse.

-

Some part of me wants to believe that somehow I'll wake up to an email letting me know that a $6,000 dollar donation came in, I can replace the boiler, stay in my house, (away from my father and sister), escape the possibility of losing the house entirely, move on, and not be in fear of the future.

I know it's not going to happen, and what's more I know it's too much to ask.  The truth is that everything should have fallen apart ages ago.  Every time something went wrong and donations kept me going before was a miracle into itself.  That streak could never have hoped to continue regardless.

Even if this weren't the single biggest crisis to hit me since I started Stealing Commas, even if it weren't so much bigger than every one before in terms of dollar value and dead serious and immediate because the heat is going away in accordance with thermal dynamics and the house will stop being livable in a day or two with no debt-holder to negotiate wiggle room with, the end was going to come no matter what.

Mathematically I should have been able to make things work, but in the end I was always coming up short.  Part of it was the strain of tuition, but university was good for my mental health so I kept going.  Part of it was that I've never abandoned the hope that I'd be able to support myself and so I've invested in trying to make that happen (and always failed.)  But there also has to be the question of how long a streak of bad luck can go on before you have to stop calling it "bad luck" and just rename it "luck".

Hopes I had of keeping my house or being free from the more abusive members of my family have always been false hopes.  If it weren't the boiler breaking it would have been something else, because there never really was actual hope.  The constant parade of crises would have made that clear but I refused to admit that to myself because sometimes there's value in believing a lie.  No good would have come from acknowledging that there was never any hope to begin with.  So it was easier to pretend that hope existed.

I still want to pretend.  That's why part of me is trying to convince myself that some massive donation might yet come.

And that, I think, is the note that I want to end on.

So not actually a down note, in spite of the title I've given this post.

Why a donation?

Why not hope that some other thing will magically make everything all right?

Because I've had miracles before.  Once I paid money that I should have saved into tuition, and it left me without money for heating oil.  A donation from a reader gave me heat through the winter.

My computer died and it looked like I was going to have to give up Stealing Commas since I couldn't afford to replace it and I knew that I wouldn't be able to make it work if I didn't have a computer with internet access at my home.  Reader donations let me buy a new one.

And there's a bunch of cases like that.  I've never been long without something going very wrong in a way only money could solve.

And something started to happen.  When I kept on getting through in spite of there being no reasonable way it could be expected, because of reader help every time, the image of impossible hope started to change from something amorphous into something much clearer.

When the only way to make it through something was a miracle what that looked like, my personal vision of a miracle, started to be you: the readers.

That's what you've been for me.  My personal miracles.

If this is the last post here, I want that to be what you take away from it.  I should have lost my house a long time ago.  I shouldn't have been able to replace my computer.  I shouldn't be able to be writing this right now because I should be homeless and computerless.

The fact that I can even say this ought to be an impossibility.

But you, the readers, have done the impossible for me.  It's not just the donations.  You've given me hope when I had none, you've helped me through things just by being there, by being out there reading, by having an interest in what I had to say.

I don't want anyone to feel like they're less deserving or less important because they didn't click the donate button, that's not what I'm trying to get at here.

What I want to make clear is this: each and every person who is a reader of this blog has made a profound and important difference in my life.

My desire to keep my childhood home and to keep away from my less than stellar family members was doomed from the start, but for three and one third years I've been able to act like it wasn't.  For three and one third years I've been able to be a writer with a following.

That time wasn't wasted.  It was wonderful.  When I started this my depression wasn't even being treated.  This is where I started.  You've taken me from there to here.

Thank you all.

It got worse; possibly/probably goodbye

This morning, around 2 AM, I woke to the sound of steam.  It was coming out of two tiny holes in a joint in a copper pipe, with some indications there might be a third hole, coming out of my furnace.  I turned the thing off and set about contacting the heating guy.

He just left.  I may not have a place to live.

-

So apparently the whole thing with the loose valve was just a symptom of a larger problem anyway.  If I hadn't fucked up with turning the valve the wrong way maybe it would have taken longer for things to come to light, but the problem was already there since that's what let me know that there was something wrong which in turn led to me checking all of the valves and finding that one was loose.

It probably happened when I had no heat.  The thing probably froze.

Just took a while for it to show it was broken, is all.

Regardless, it needs to be replaced.

What needs to be replaced?  The heart of the system.  Technically the thing in my basement isn't known as a furnace, it's known as a boiler.  It's a confusing name because a part of the system is itself the boiler.  The boiler in the boiler.

The boiler is what broke and needs to be replaced.

Initial estimate: $6,000.

Of course that's an estimate from a repair guy who wasn't expecting to find that the most important part of the system, around which everything else is based, was broken.  He needs to contact his suppliers to get an exact cost.

He doesn't do financing options because his suppliers like to be paid in cashy-money

So...

I have to suddenly pull 6,000 dollars out of thin air.
OR
I have to find someone who installs boilers on the spur of the moment in this area who does do financing and has an open appointment before the heat already in the house goes away.  (And get a down payment somehow.)
OR
I have to resign myself to not having a place to live while draining all of the pipes in my house because the place will freeze and that tends to burst pipes.

My mother is again talking about probably needing to sell the house.

I believe the appropriate term for what I am is "fucked".

-

Not that I'll be on the street.  In all likelihood I'll just have to take my cat and my lizard and move in with an abusive family member.

-

I think this is goodbye.  Hopefully just for now, not for good.  But I have no clue how long "For now" will be.

I have been so grateful to everyone who has read here.  Thanks.

Be well.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Need to replace my phone, my shower head, my peace of mind, and god knows what else

I found the charger to my phone today.  That's actually a bad thing.  It means that I didn't leave the phone charging in an odd spot.  Which means that, in all likelihood, the reason I couldn't find it before coming home was that it fell out of my pocket, and if it fell out of my pocket it is much more likely to have done so outside where it will never be seen again.

So, I probably need a new phone.

-

When I got home yesterday there was something wrong with my shower.  The water that came out of it was ... odd.  Dirty, strange.

I was able to, apparently correctly [see update], diagnose the problem as a valve being insufficiently tight on my furnace thus crossing the radiator water and the water-water.  (Hot water only, for whatever it's worth.)

I then did what I am always most likely to do in a case like that: I turned the valve the wrong way.

With no catastrophe obvious I promptly forgot about the whole thing except to wonder what it would cost to replace the furnace.

Today walking home it was cold.  Really, fucking cold.  I wasn't prepared for how cold it was.  The pain was horrific.  I really, truly, did not see that level of cold coming.  If I had I could have been prepared for it with additional layers and whatnot.

So I got home and wanted to take a warm shower to (carefully) stop my legs from falling off or otherwise succumbing to the painful, painful cold that had invaded them.

I turned on the hot water and waited to see if it was dirty.  It wasn't, which I thought meant I had turned the valve the correct way the night before.

Then it sped up.  Then it started to whistle and steam.

At this point I knew it had to be turned off, but I wasn't thinking the most clearly.  If I had been I could have realized that I could quickly switch from shower to bath with minimal risk and then it probably wouldn't have been too difficult to turn off the no-longer water.

The mostly-steam was coming out at an alarming rate with some bits of still-water spurting out erratically.  Now under pressure things can act strangely, but that wouldn't work in my favor here anyway, so we can just go with the rule of thumb: steam is hotter than boiling water.  Which means that any water in a water-steam mix is likely to be scary-hot.

Having not thought of the "switch from shower to bath" plan I was left trying to find an opportunity to reach in for long enough to turn the faucet enough to turn off the water.  Such an opportunity never came.

When the shower head broke apart, the largest part exploding outward and landing in the tub, that broke a mental block I was having (not the one mentioned above) and I realized how I could stop this steam machine.

I ran down stairs and pulled on a thingy.  Then I went up and checked if that did it.  All hot water was shut off.  Problem not solved, but deferred.

At that point, though, there was breathing room and I could turn the valve that had been loose before in the other direction, which seems to have fixed things.  Of course the exploding shower head didn't merely come apart.  There was a lot of steam, steam under pressure, going through it.  The heat warped the thing.

It can't be fixed, at least not easily.  No shower for me.

-

My peace of mind is lacking in peace.  In fact I'm not sure that there's even a piece of peace in my mind.  The furnace leads to thoughts of oil.  I was away for ten days.  I forgot to turn down the heat so instead of only using enough oil to keep the pipes from freezing it kept the empty house warm enough for human habitation.

The steam monstrosity of today couldn't possibly have been good from an oil conservation standpoint.

The $500+ I spent to put oil in the tank is still something that I don't know how to pay for.  The problem with paying for things with debt is that, sooner or later, debts come due.

-

I didn't sleep much last night.  Getting back to my own home and my own bed you'd think I'd sleep well, but I didn't.  I didn't eat for over 24 hours.  (I have since, though.)  Just sort of slipped my mind.  I fell on the way to school.  Before I was really able to assess the injury (it takes time) I was wondering if I could have gotten another concussion.  It was, as I recall, a year ago this month (or maybe early next month) that I got the concussion.

Good news is that there's no evidence of concussion.

-

I had a differential equations test this morning.

-

Please give me money, candy, steak dinner, hugs, a unicorn, or any combination of the previous.

-

[update]
There's a whole post worth of update, but the short version is this: the water getting mixed that led me to discover a valve was lose wasn't, or wasn't primarily, due to the loose valve.  It was instead a result of a crack in the boiler.  A crack that has since expanded.  Showers are the least of my worries now.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

World Where RTC Nightmares are True: Random Excerpt

Here’s the premise for a TV show: It’s all true. Everything Pat Robertson says is true. Everything that’s posted on Charismanews is true. All of it. All the writers need to do is conform the fictional reality of the show to the wild reality described every day by Robertson, et. al.

[If you'd like to read my piece in the context of the thread, go here, otherwise read on.]

-

Rookie: Werewolves?
Veteran: Not in these parts. There hasn't been a wolf, wer- or otherwise, in these parts in over a hundred years. This in spite of attempts to reintroduce both.
Rookie: Reintroduce werewolves?
Veteran: Werewolves are an important part of the ecosystem. Plus, they only ever target Christians.
Rookie: God --taken in vain of course because we government stooges do not, in fact, believe in God-- I hate Christians. Can you believe the way that last group were persecuting demons?
Veteran: Sadly, yes: I can believe it. They refuse to have even basic decency or tolerance towards those who are not like themselves. It's not demons' fault that they can only exist on earth if they inhabit the bodies of humans.
Rookie: I mean, I'd heard rumors, of course, but I've never before actually seen such hate directed living beings just because they're a little bit different.
Veteran: Oh, they hate everyone. Muslims, Papists, Abortionists, Satanists, Atheists, demons, imps, spirits, witches, warlocks, wizards, every cult and club. It's why we have to keep such a close eye on them.
Rookie: It just seems like we could do more.
Veteran: I know, but things always get bogged down. The "84" in "Rex-84" stands for 1984, which is when the test run was made. All reports are that it was a great success but we still haven't put it into practice.
*veteran sighs*
Veteran: I'm surprised that we managed to fluoridate the water. Needless to say, I don't exactly have high hopes for Agenda 21.
Rookie: But I heard that the Bilderbergs-
Veteran: Don't get your hopes up. If there's one thing that I've learned in my time on this job it's that big solutions never work. Those of us on the ground are the ones who make a difference. One case at a time.
Rookie: So where are we going next?
Veteran: There's a preacher who said that he won't marry a gay couple, we need to catch him and persuade him to change his tune.
Rookie: It'll be easy.
Veteran: It should be, but be prepared for anything. The higher ups want it done by Sunday School next week. They want to make sure that the lesson is that mixed marriages (ones between a man and a woman) are strange and wrong and only same sex marriages are moral.

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[Edited because I misremembered RX-84 as RX-86.  But at least I remembered that people who take it seriously, instead of thinking of it as a bit of video-game back story, spell it "Rex" not "RX".]

Fictional Characters Explain Religion without trying: The barest hint of an idea

The idea, such as it exists, is that religious ideas are sometimes delivered by characters who aren't associated with them at all.  Sometimes in cool one liners.

-

The Man in Black: Life is pain highness, anyone who says differently is selling something.
-Buddhism

Yoda: Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.
-Gnosticism

Jayne: What are you taking this so personal for? It ain't like I ratted you out to the feds!
Mal: Oh, but you did. You turn on any of my crew, you turn on me! But since that's a concept you can't seem to wrap your head around then you got no place here. You did it to me, Jayne, and that's a fact.
-Christianity

Like I said, only the barest hint of an idea.  I think I had more examples when I first thought of it, but I've forgotten.