Monday, March 23, 2020

The dog was hit by a car, I need help to pay for her medical bills

Really short version:
The estimated total is $7,454.11 to $9,702.30.

The most immediate way to help is by donating money to me on Paypal.  A debit card is linked to my Paypal account, so I can use money in the account instantly.  I already paid $400 the bill that way (and maxed out three credit cards to pay another $4,085.)

One can also donate via a GoFundMe that my sister's . . . ok, I don't think "it's been complicated" is a good description for a relationship.  It suggests that things are no longer complicated and therefore doesn't describe the current relationship in the least except to say "It's not complicated, but I'm not fucking telling you what it actually is!" and this is the fifth?  sixth?  Hell, it could be seventh, time I've been forced to write "'it's been complicated' relationship partner" and I haven't slept decently since Thursday night, which wasn't even that decent, and fuck!  set up.  My sister's that set it up.

The information given fails to convey the relationship the dog has with any human being, living or dead, but the money is eventually going to go towards the dog's bills, so there is that.  This is not on Terin (my sister's that) because, while Terin did the work of setting it up, the information comes directly from my sister in her own words.  (Terin is awesome.  They deserve praise.)

If you can't donate, and I generally assume that no one can, you can spread those links around.  It is my assumption (possibly correct, possibly not) that people who don't know me will trust the GoFundMe more than my Paypal.me page, and therefore signal boosting it will get better results even though, if someone is going to donate, it's better for them to use the Paypal.me one if they can.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Economics Lesson -or- Why the shelves are empty (Non-fiction)

[This isn't even a rough draft, not really, it's something that I typed out in a Discord chat, but it is a something that you might find useful when trying to understand the world in which we live and the state in which it is in.]
[I've edited it a bit, I suppose it probably qualifies as a rough draft at this point.]

Ok, economics lesson time, mostly because I've been seeing people who are Wrong on the Internet™.  Also on mainstream (and fringe) news media, but I'm mostly concerned with the internet. Obligatory xkcd link: https://xkcd.com/386/

In an ideal system (the thing that is to capitalism as a frictionless vacuum is to high school physics problems), there would be no warehouses, there would be no back in which employees could check for products when the shelf was empty and, honestly, there would be no shelves.  Products would be sold the instant they were created and nothing would ever sit around ever.

In the real world, it doesn't work that way.  Certain things can be produced on demand at the point of sale, but most things will have to wait at some point in their life cycle.  They wait on the shelf for people to buy them, they wait in the back room (or under the counter, or up high, or wherever the company stores excess) for there to be space on the shelf, and they wait in a warehouse somewhere for there to be space in the back room.

All of this costs money.  Obviously any shelf-space occupied by something that isn't selling could be more profitably filled with something that is, but that's nowhere near the chief concern.  Warehouses cost the most.  You have a whole fucking building that doesn't make a cent but has to have utilities, property taxes (where applicable), maintenance, and so forth paid for.  That being said, even having something in the back room instead of on the shelf is losing you money that you would be making in a frictionless vacuum an ideal system.

Also, no matter where it's being stored, paying for something before you can sell it costs money too.  Time is literally money (see: interest rates) and by buying this thing (whatever it happens to be) before it will sell you lose that money and have to pay to store it.

At some point people realized that with the speed of modern communication, with advanced statistical modeling, and with other crap like that, they could reduce that cost.

The result has been decades of efforts to make sure that retailers have enough for normal demand and not a jot more.  Well . . . that's not quite true.  Empty shelves don't make people feel safe and secure and happy about a store, so the ideal towards which businesses have been working is to have exactly enough to keep the shelves filled, and not a bit more.

You can cut out entire warehouses, or at least sell them and replace them with smaller ones, you can reduce the time between paying for an item and selling it, and --in many cases-- you can even do a bit of remodeling to convert some of the back room storage space into additional store space which will increase your profits if you utilize it properly.

The goal, of course, is to have absolutely nothing in reserve, and have all the stuff on the shelves be bought that very day.  That goal has not been reached yet, but impressive strides have been made in that general direction.

Profits have increased, prices haven't really gone down, and everybody's happy (at least everybody who matters.)  Everything is perfect.

But, chris, you say, if there's only enough to meet demand, what will happen if demand increases?

Worry not, that problem was noticed long ago and a wonderful solution was found.  That solution is very simple: ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

I jest.  In fact it's more a "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs" thing.

If people are at home instead of outside (at work, shopping, watching a movie, going to a club, celebrating Saint Patrick's Day, what have you) then there will be a massive spike in demand for everything that they're used to getting elsewhere.  This runs from food they might get at restaurants, to the toilet paper they would use in public (or work) restrooms.  Since you never bothered to have reserve stock, you won't be able to meet that demand.

However, since all of your major competitors have been operating on the same damned model, they won't either.  You're not losing your customers to other companies, so no real harm done.  After all, selling all of your stock (which is what left you with empty shelves) means you're doing way better than usual.  Profits are high.  Everything is good.

What about old fashioned "mom and pop" stores who--

First off, most of them went out of business ages ago.  Second, note how I said "major competitors"?  Well, with all of them, and you, out of the same product, anyone who does keep supplies in reserve is going to find themselves overburdened regardless, and they'll run out soon too.  There might be a brief spike in your customers going to them, but it'll die out pretty soon.  By the time this is over your customers won't even remember that those guys had it in stock for longer than you.

Still, doesn't it . . . I don't know, look bad when I'm out of the stuff I'm supposed to not be out of?

In other circumstances, it kind of would.  See the above thing about empty shelves being a turn off to consumers.  That doesn't apply here, though.  If everyone has empty shelves, then your shelves being empty doesn't reflect badly on you.  You're judged in comparison to your competition, not the Platonic ideal of a compassionate company.

Ok but it's my job to provide this stuff, won't reflect poorly upon me if I can't?

Not really.  You can just blame the consumers.  "Look at all of these people buying stuff they suddenly need three times as much of; aren't they stupid?  They're the reason we ran out.  Just blame them," you'll say.

But in times of crisis the government advises people to--

No one cares.  No one ever blames a corporation for failing to provide what it promises.  Moreover, you've missed the point.

The point, dear reader, is this:

Everyone knew from the beginning that this would cause stores to run out of essentials the moment something changed.  No one cared.  Why?  Because it works.  You save money constantly by not having to buy excess stock, and whenever the shelves run empty that just means you sold more than you expected.  It's a windfall, not a problem.

After all, if you're the kind of person deciding on whether to make yourself somewhat richer or serve the average consumer in the times of heightened demand that you know will come from time to time, you're never going to run out any of that shit, now are you?

No one you care about suffers.

-

And that has been today's economic lesson.  The empty shelves we're seeing now (and I was shopping today, I saw entire empty aisles in the best stocked store I visited) aren't a bug or a miscalculation.  They're a predicted and acceptable (to those who made the decision) side effect of optimizing profit by reducing unused stock.

-

The system is working exactly how it was designed to work.  This was always part of the plan.  The flip-side of saving money by only buying the absolute minimum to fill your shelves has always been and will always be having those shelves empty when you underestimate that minimum because of unforeseen circumstances, which you know will inevitably arise from time to time.

Once upon a time people realized they could save money at the cost of having this happen every so often.  They responded with an enthusiastic, "Worth it!" and they haven't changed their tune yet.  No one with the power to change things is talking about going back to having more stock in reserve.

(Which is why I'm stuck in a house with three people and no toilet paper.)

-

[In response to someone offering sympathy for the parenthetical:]

It's not pleasant, but I'm actually somewhat more annoyed with myself for forgetting the economics behind the whole thing when it first started happening.  Yeah, it definitely seems weird when all of the toilet paper is getting sold out, but when you remember that the businesses that are sold out have spent literal decades trying not to have any extra, it makes sense that a mild increase in demand (on a global scale) would have that result.

It's really easy to blame people who are, by and large, doing sensible things instead of the ones who are actually responsible, and I did it myself a few days ago.


-
- -
- - -
- -
-

The really short version:

All of this --every inventory shortfall, everything (no matter how necessary) that you can't get because the stores are out-- was foreseen.  It was considered an acceptable cost to incur in order to reap the associated benefits (vis-à-vis savings during normal operations), and now that we're in the midst of it that hasn't changed in the least.

It's not a feature, per se, but it's definitely not a bug.  That means no one is going to fix it, because in the eyes of those who set up the system, nothing is broken.

False Accusations and Mistaken Identities, Ch1: Every word you've ever said, every thing you've ever done, and every choice you've ever made has led to this moment

Some notes and stuff:
On Sunday I wrote for five and a half hours straight.  I don't know the last time that happened.  This is the result.

I know that I say one shouldn't need prior knowledge of the source material a lot, but in this case it's especially true.  This is the story of Sunset Shimmer beginning to [start of plot] so you don't need to know anything about her in advance because you're about to read who she is.

That's not to say that prior knowledge wouldn't help.  It could prevent you from thinking things like, "Wait, what statue?" "I thought her name was Cadence, not Cadenza," "Why is this group called the 'Rainbooms'" or (right at the end) "Why does she know the names of these people she hasn't met before?"

It's just that the first three don't actually matter when it comes to understanding the story (nor do any other unexplained names, references, or objects), and the last one is a Chapter Two question, which will be answered therein.  (If it ever gets written.

So, with that said, I hope someone actually reads this, and (if any do) I hope they enjoy it.

~ * ⁂ * ~

Sunset's earliest memories were vague.  Fuzzy as fuck and hard to make out.  The one constant within them was a feeling.  She belonged.  She was loved.  She was part of a family.  Anything beyond that was either lost entirely or corrupted and fragmented to the point of being meaningless.

She had no idea what her parents had looked like.  No sense of what they sounded or smelled like.  No physical sensations; just emotion.  She also didn't have anything tangible to remind her of those days.  Just memories that faded more and more with each passing moon.

Sometimes she thought that she'd imagined it all.  That she'd always been alone, and family was just a pleasing fiction she'd invented to provide some comfort in her otherwise dreary life.  Lie to yourself often enough, and it stops being a lie.  It becomes something else, something stronger.  Just as false as a lie, but without the knowledge of that falsehood.  A delusion that, for you, has all the force of truth.

Other times she avoided thinking about it at all.  The difference between then and now hurt too much.

But when she did think about it, when she did believe it . . . well, there was a time when she would have done anything to get that feeling back.  Lie, cheat, steal?  Of course.  Dark magic?  No problem.  High treason?  Absolutely.  Other treason too, but who cared about that when it stood in the shadow of treason against the immortal ruler who could (and did) make the sun and moon move at her command?

Corrupting a magical artifact vital to the security of her homeland?  Tartarus, she would have corrupted all six, but only one was in position to be easily stolen. Raising an army of innocent schoolchildren so they could be used as literal human shields to keep her from getting swarmed, which happened to be the only tactic to ever defeat said-artifact, long enough to use that artifact to take over Equestria?  That was just her emergency backup plan for if she had hours instead of days with the Element.  Plans A through G were more involved.

All that and so much more.

~ * ⁂ * ~

The moment Celestia adopted Cadence as a long lost niece, Sunset had become obsessed with becoming an alicorn because, if a Pegasus who sprouted a horn merited adoption, then surely a unicorn who sprouted wings would as well.  Then the barrier between student and teacher could fall, and Celestia could be what Sunset had always wanted, but never had the courage to ask, her to be: Sunset's mother.

She devoted every waking moment to the project of sprouting those wings.  If she could have, she'd have devoted even more time to it, but she'd never gotten the hang of lucid dreaming.  When the mirror showed her wings, she thought she'd found the key.  Instead she became the youngest pony to ever be banished from Canterlot Castle.  Everypony else had waited till they were in double digits, Sunset had done it at nine and a half.

Celestia would have provided her with lodging, Sunset had no doubt, but they'd be even further apart.  Sunset would be physically comfortable, but she wouldn't belong.  She wanted to belong.  She wanted, so very hard, to belong.  It had been a split second decision.  The mirror was in the castle, if she let herself be taken out of the castle she might never see it again, and the mirror had shown her wings.

If she went to the other world, got those wings, and came back . . . well then Celestia would have to adopt her, and Sunset could finally belong again.

The mirror had already been near the end of its active phase.  For almost two days she'd considered going through anyway, but concluded that it wasn't worth the risk.  Not until she knew more.  Then her hoof had been forced.  Jump through unprepared, or risk never going at all.

Adrenaline and desperation had been enough to get her through, but that couldn't last forever, and when everything crashed back down her resolve shattered.  It didn't matter.  There was no going back; the portal was closed.

~ * ⁂ * ~

She'd always known that ascension was no small task.  It would take time.  She'd been ready to commit thirty moons to study while she waited for the next active phase.  She had been in it for the long haul.  That did nothing to lessen the fact she was completely unprepared for thirty moons as a human.

Surrounded by strange creatures, in a body not her own, with no one to help her, and no magic to protect her, Sunset Shimmer was terrified and broken.  Many nights she cried herself to sleep.  Whenever possible, she only moved at night, slinking from shadow to shadow on mostly deserted streets.

Slowly, though, she remembered who she was.  She was Sunset Shimmer.  She hadn't always lived in a castle; she'd grown up on the streets.  Princess Celestia had taken Sunset in after seeing her use advanced magic, far beyond what other ponies her age struggled with, to steal bits from a noble's enchanted saddlebag.

Without her magic Sunset had felt helpless, but it didn't take too long to realize that no one else had magic either.  In a world of creatures who ate terrestrial meat, Sunset had felt horrified, but that just meant she could be assured of her moral superiority.  She didn't have shelter?  So what?  No one was taking care of her?  She didn't need anyone to.

And so she turned things around.  She was Sunset Shimmer, she was unstoppable, and the human world would never know what hit it.

~ * ⁂ * ~ 

Begging could work well when one was a cute child and it could work even better when one was with a cute child; Sunset had known this.  Her earliest clear memories were of going out with this or that adult pretending to be their foal in exchange for a cut of the earnings.  Stealing took more work.  Fingers were not magic.  Learning guitar was her version of intensive self-directed physical therapy.  Originally, actually, she'd played ukulele.

It had been surprisingly easy to get someone to teach her.  Busking got you more money than begging, and therefore saying, "Help me feed my daughter who is playing her heart out for you right now," got better returns than, "Help me feed my daughter who is standing there looking cute and destitute."  After all, she was cute and destitute either way.

None of those relationships involved any kind of belonging.  It was business.  They used her to increase their take, Sunset used them to get a take (without risking a run in with Child Protective.)  Homelessness was neither abuse nor neglect, so as long as people thought she had a parent, she was safe.  She had learned that in a public library, which was where she spent most of her non-working daylight hours.

At night . . . well, the humans threw out a lot of food.  Dumpsters beckoned.  Sunset answered the call.

That was life.  That was life for a good long while.  Sunset didn't just survive; she thrived.
It was never meant to be forever, though.  After enough moons had passed, there was a sense of anticipation that grew and grew.  By the 29th moon, she spent most of her days euphoric; she was going home.

Then she got sick.  It was a disgusting thing.  Her memories were of pain, snot, fever dreams, vomit, and waking experiences so disjointed and surreal that they blended with the dreams.  Mostly snot.

The portal was open for three days.  She'd been out of it for five.  It had been all she could do to eat, drink, and move to a different corner of the room when she needed to relieve herself.  She hadn't left the building.  There was no going home.

~ * ⁂ * ~

When the sickness finally broke, she woke up surrounded by the scattered remains of her entire stockpile of food and drink.  It hadn't been enough, not really.  She felt like she was starving, and the dehydration hurt in that way only a distinct lack of water could.  Stacking an undernourishment headache on top of a dehydration headache didn't make thinking the easiest thing in the world, and the lingering effects of the sickness itself didn't help either.

It took her a while to even remember that she should be thinking about the portal.

When she did, she ran outside, looked at the sky, and refused to accept what it told her.  She sprinted to the portal, and pounded on it.  She begged it to open between ragged gasps for air.  The sprint had taken almost all of her energy; it wasn't long before she collapsed to the ground.  She kept on pounding; she kept on begging.

The worst part wasn't even that she'd missed the opening.  The worst part was that she'd missed it by less than an hour.  Two at most.

She reached the point where she didn't have the energy to hit it anymore.  She kept begging.
She said she was sorry.  She begged to come home.  She promised to be a good pony.

Exhaustion must have taken full hold of her at some point because Sunset's memory skipped from begging Princess Celestia to let her come home to being woken by predawn light.  Her hands were bloodied, something she hadn't noticed before.  So was the statue.

She was an eleven year old with no guardian who'd been sleeping in a public place.

She ran.

Her birthday was about a moon and a half away.  All she had wanted for it was to be in Equestria.  Anywhere in Equestria.  Princess Celestia wasn't prone to sticking ponies in dungeons, but Sunset gladly would have occupied one if it meant she could be home.  Magic in the air, horn on her head, an actual snout on her face . . . hooves.  She had just wanted to go home.

~ * ⁂ * ~

Interdimensional portals don't respond to spoken pleas, and even Princess Celestia couldn't hear things said in one world from her place in another.  Sunset had known that.  In times of extreme emotion one does stupid things.

Once she'd put herself back together, once she'd gotten food in her belly and, more importantly, gotten hydrated, she had to face an unalterable fact: she was there.  She was in the human world and that wouldn't change for a good many moons.

She was rapidly aging out of the status of "adorable waif" and moving towards "Unruly kids these days; always up to no good," and that meant she needed to change tack.  She needed to exist as something other than another untouchable poor person to be avoided and ignored.  She needed, in short, to be respectable.

So she still ate out of dumpsters, and she still picked pockets, but she stopped begging and busking because when she made her appearance in polite society one, "Aren't you the filthy girl who plays guitar in the park for spare change?" could ruin everything.

Inventing a life took time, but she was Sunset Shimmer.  She could do anything.  Human paperwork would come to fear her power.

~ * ⁂ * ~

Not a lot of people tried to fraudulently enroll in middle school, so her documentation for that wouldn't be subject to any great scrutiny, but the best times to slip into the school system unnoticed were the switch from elementary school to middle school, which she'd missed, and the switch from middle school to high school, which she wasn't quite ready for.

At those points there would be a sea of new faces, so her sudden appearance in the school system would go largely unnoticed.  The only people who would know were those who needed to know, if such people even existed.  Whether they existed or not depended a great deal on precisely how Sunset ultimately decided to sneak into the system.  Regardless of how she did it, the switch from middle school to high school was definitely an opportunity worth waiting for.

So she took her time.

Even though she'd laid enough of the groundwork to enroll by the time the next school year started, she stayed out and worked on perfecting her human identity.  She also studied at the library a great deal, because she didn't want anyone realizing she hadn't attended grades one through eight.  She worked out the kinks, she perfected her mannerisms, she did many and varied illegal things involving records, identification, and other documentary evidence that a person, legally speaking, existed.

A year after she'd missed the portal, she felt her identity was well and truly ready, but she still had a summer vacation to wait out before she could go through with it.  So she ingratiated herself with local kids her age.  By the time she actually set foot in Canterlot High School, many of them were already looking forward to her company there.

School took up a lot of her time, obviously, but it wasn't nearly as much of a drain on her as she'd initially anticipated.  While she had studied to make up for eight years grades of not being in the system, she learned that the more advanced forms of mathematics had a great deal in common with magical theory, as did several types of science.  It came easily to her.  Also, she'd apparently studied a bit too much in her attempt to catch up.  She'd been aiming for "unremarkable", instead she was quickly switched into advanced classes.

With "unremarkable" off the table, she decided to actually try, and see what she could do.  She excelled.  She also felt something familiar.  It wasn't belonging.  (She'd almost forgotten about belonging.)  It was more than being alone, though.  It was like Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns: However pointless, she was a part of something.

~ * ⁂ * ~

Being part of CSGU had been pointless.  She was the Princess' personal student, the others were nothing.  Any time spent there was time that wasn't spent with the Princess herself.  But no matter how aloof she'd been, it was impossible to miss that time spent there was time spent as part of a larger whole.

Things were different in high school.   She wasn't so full of herself anymore.  Everyone else was there because they hadn't foolishly run away, they hadn't thrown themselves through a stupid mirror, and they hadn't missed their one three day opening in thirty moons.  That didn't mean she had a particularly lofty opinion of them, but her opinion of herself was low enough that she'd mix with the unwashed masses.  She'd spent thirty moons excessively unwashed before deciding to give school a try, after all.

Because she was in advanced classes, Sunset had a fair amount of contact with upperclassmen, which apparently conferred a degree of "coolness" upon her with those in her own grade.  Because Sunset was legitimately terrible at judging human ages and because Canterlot High School was adjoined to a middle school so closely that the vague and amorphous distinction between one and the other was largely ignored, Sunset had a fair amount of contact with younger kids, who thought she was "incredibly awesomely cool" simply because she was willing to speak to them as, more or less, equals.

She became popular without even trying.

She might have found belonging there, if she'd been willing to look.  While she'd almost forgotten what it was like to belong, hearing other students talk about their families made her remember.  She stifled the resentment she felt; it wasn't useful.  She also reached a conclusion that was, at best, shaky and ill informed.  She thought that one had to be home, which, to her, meant Equestria, to belong, and therefore she could never belong in the human world.

It made perfect sense at the time.  Those hazy memories of the time she did belong --when she was loved-- took place in Equestria; failing to return to Equestria had emotionally crushed her; when the other kids talked about time spent with their families, it was usually time spent at home and always time spent in their own world.

So, for all that she was surrounded by people who liked her, she never let herself really connect.  If she would be going back to Equestria, what was the point?  She had friendly acquaintances, but not friends.  The kind of people you could enjoy spending a year with, but wouldn't feel bad about never seeing again after that year ended.

The school provided a good place to crash; it was heated year round and uninhabited at night.  Being so close to the portal was a nice bonus.  So her new routine was born.  During the school day she was a popular and promising student, outside of school hours and during off days she was spending time with classmates (she joined the fencing club), enjoying herself alone, or ironing out the few remaining wrinkles in her human identity, and at night she grabbed food from dumpsters then slept in the school.

She wouldn't be here for that long, but why not enjoy the wait?

That was how it went, and the time flew by.

~ * ⁂ * ~

This time she didn't miss the portal.  She headed straight through ready to face whatever Celestia decided to do to her, come what may.  The first surprise was that the portal had been moved to a more public, and thus more dangerous, place.  It was in the throne room.  Sunset guessed that Celestia hoped to intercept Sunset herself, which made the second surprise larger.

Canterlot Castle was abandoned.

When she ventured out into Canterlot proper, Sunset was able to piece together what had happened.  As foretold long ago, Nightmare Moon returned.  Celestia had the castle evacuated to avoid collateral damage when Nightmare Moon came for her.  The cover story Celestia used was that everyone was being given the night and following morning off as a sort of special treat for the Thousandth Summer Sun Celebration; it didn't look like Celestia had actually told anyone that she knew Nightmare Moon would be coming back.

Given the lack of damage to the castle, Celestia had clearly tossed the fight.  The reason why . . . Sunset had been broken before.  She'd been broken several times, in fact.  The reason why broke Sunset in a new and different way.

Celestia's faithful student had activated the Elements of Harmony in the Everfree then used them to defeat Nightmare Moon and restore Celestia, which had clearly been the plan all along.

When Sunset left Equestria, she was the only personal student Celestia had taken on in living memory.  Sunset was special.  Celestia saw something of value in her.  Sunset wasn't just the street trash everypony saw when they looked at her, she mattered.  Or so Sunset had thought.

Celestia had apparently replaced her so quickly that a mere sixty moons later that replacement was ready for field work.  The replacement was ready to be sent into the field to battle against Eldritch foes.

How much training would it take for a pony to reach that point?  Certainly more than thirty moons worth.  Forty?  Fifty? What if it were sixty?

After banishing Sunset, did Celestia get a replacement the same day, or did she wait a whole week out of respect for the departed?

Sunset fumed.  Her replacement probably got everything Sunset ever wanted.  She probably belonged since she was born and had living loving parents still.  She probably belonged with Celestia, and received the love Sunset had been denied.  Had she ever had to eat out of a dumpster?  Had she ever had to rely on her wits to stay alive?  Had she ever lived through anything Sunset had suffered?

For the first time, Sunset's yearning for belonging was fueled by pure, unadulterated rage.

The Elements of Harmony were in play?  Fine.  She'd use that.  She knew things about the Elements that a faithful student, one who never went behind Celestia's back, would never learn.

She'd become an alicorn, she'd make Celestia acknowledge her as a daughter, she'd banish Cadenza to the farthest reaches, and most of all she'd deal with her replacement.  She would take back everything that should have been hers.  Everything that her replacement had.

She was Sunset Shimmer, she could do anything, and all of Equestria would quake in fear and beg for her forgiveness when she came back.

She slipped back into the castle and back through the portal.  She had thirty moons to plan.

~ * ⁂ * ~

And so she planned.  That, however, wasn't all she did, which was why those thirty moons were the part of her life that Sunset hated most.

Rage and a sense of entitlement only ever really worked if three things were true.  First, you had to actually be entitled to whatever it was you felt you were entitled to.  Second, the rage had to be justifiable.  Third, you had to have enough control to direct that emotion in a way that actually brought you closer to your goal.  For Sunset, none of those things were true.

Everyone around her noticed the change.  The friendly acquaintances started to distance themselves.  Bitterness infused every interaction Sunset had with anyone, and most people didn't consider that a particularly attractive trait for a conversational partner to have.

That was how it started, but it didn't stay that subtle and low key.  There were the times she just went off.  All of that rage had nowhere to go, the portal was closed again, but it had to go somewhere, so when an opportunity presented itself, it would be directed at whichever poor unfortunate soul had created that opportunity.

The popularity (and the attendant power) that had come naturally to Sunset started to slip away.  She wouldn't have that.  She had spent so long among these lesser beings that she'd forgotten who she was.  What she was.  She was above all of these dull creatures.  She was someone who deserved to be a princess of Equestria and have powers the ignorant humans couldn't possibly comprehend.

While Sunset had starved, these people had been throwing perfectly good food in the trash.  While she had shivered in the freezing cold lying on flattened cardboard boxes, not knowing if she would survive to see the next morning, they had been warm in their beds.  When she had to beg or steal to be able to clothe herself, they'd decide that their, higher quality, clothes were out of style, toss them in the back of a closet, and leave them there to do no one any good.

She was better than them, but they had it better than her.  Something was broken.  It was time for change.

Any who dared to think themselves her equal were torn down and made example of.  The students she vented her rage on were so terrified they'd give her anything she asked of them and, in some cases, would stuff themselves in lockers rather than face her when she was in a bad mood.

Those who threatened her power indirectly, and against whom she had no personal grudge, were treated more gently.  She used manipulation to break their friendships and erode their power base, but they never knew her wrath and they never felt terror.

The administration saw none of this.  To them she was a model student.  The object of praise and validation.

One girl couldn't control an entire school, especially not in a way that was deniable, so she got underlings.  She had to pick them carefully, lest they be able to turn her own tactics against her.  Snips and Snails proved perfect.  They had no real ambition beyond being associated with a high status individual, they were eager to please, and she had no fears of them deposing her.

Thirty moons of anger, of hate, of manipulation.  Thirty moons of intimidation.  Thirty moons of bullying.  Thirty moons of becoming the kind of person who deserved to end up in a smoking crater.

Far and away, this was the part of Sunset's life that she hated the most.

It also made her feel downright stupid in retrospect.  You can't force someone to love you; the entire premise was flawed.

~ * ⁂ * ~

Then came Princess Twilight Sparkle, the faithful student whose name Sunset had never bothered to learn, now sporting wings and a crown.The plan was off from the beginning.  The mirror was supposed to be in Canterlot.  That the Element of Magic was with the mirror in the Crystal Empire, which Sunset had thought was still in the midst of its existence failure, was pure luck.  She tripped over the tail of a baby dragon, which Sunset thought was supposed to be in the care of older dragons, and the entire replacement idea went out the window.

Out the window, off a cliff, into a moat, and finally up in smoke.  (The moat was filled with oil, obviously.)

She got the Element of Magic into the right world, but not in her possession.  That's about when Sunset started coughing on the smoke that the replacement plan went up in.  Without the replacement to compare it to, the human Celestia and Luna assumed that the Element was the replacement.  Since said-replacement was the Fall Formal crown, which belonged to the school until handed out, and since it had obviously been stolen once already, they locked it up.

In her wisdom, Princess Twilight Sparkle decided to attempt to win the crown rather than return the actual Fall Formal crown, explain there had been a mix up, and get hers back in that way, which likely would have taken under an hour.

This was the part where clearing the field turned against Sunset.  Running unopposed was nice; running with a single opponent was not.  Instead of being divided between multiple other students, the not-Sunset vote was completely consolidated behind one not-student: Twilight Sparkle.

In point of fact, this was the part where everything turned against Sunset.  If Sunset hadn't torn them apart, it would not have been possible for Twilight to reunite the future-Rainbooms, and without that they wouldn't be in Twilight's debt.  Likewise, if she hadn't ordered Snips and Snails to trash the gym to frame Twilight, Twilight wouldn't have been able to unite the student body by cleaning up the gym.

Sunset laid the groundwork for her own defeat, and kept on building toward that defeat right up until she was hit by a rainbow, which rendered future construction irrelevant.

There isn't a word for the pain Sunset experienced inside that rainbow.  Someone nails you to a cross and leaves you out die of exposure, over a period that can last up to three days, as a form of execution by torture?  There's a word for that pain: excruciating.

To have all your sins remembered, to see them and not be able to turn away --not be able to blink-- to hear them and not be able to drown out the sound.  To experience everything, the sum total of your life, and not be able to make excuses or rationalize or do anything but realize, bone deep, "This is me.  This is who I am," is something for which there is no word.  It's not even supposed to be possible.

But there was something else in there.  Something that ached in an entirely different way.  Sunset could almost see their faces.  Sunset could almost hear their voices.  When it came to the emotion, there was no "almost".  Sunset remembered, in full, what it was like to be loved.  What it was like to belong.  Why she'd started this whole execrable ordeal.  What she was further from than she'd ever been before.

And Sunset saw and felt all of the times that feeling had almost blossomed again, only to be crushed because it hadn't come in the form Sunset had wanted.  All of the times that she could have belonged again that she threw away either because she was so focused on the idea that having wings was the way to get there, or because she was so furious with a pony that, back then, she'd never even met.

And she cried.  She cried in a way that she hadn't in sixty moons, give or take several hours.  She was an eleven year old, almost twelve, who had just missed the portal.  She was a nine year old, who exiled herself to a strange world.  She was the architect of her own suffering, and it hurt.

~ * ⁂ * ~

Then the world changed, and things got better. The portal was closed again.  Another thirty moons.  By the time it was scheduled to reopen again Sunset would have spent more time as a human than a unicorn.  She didn't mind.  Not this time.

She had work to do.  She'd caused a lot of pain and done a lot of damage, and she knew she could never make up for it or fix it, but that was no excuse.  She had to try.

No one liked her.  The Rainbooms, though they weren't called that at first, tolerated her.  She did whatever they told her.  She cheered them on.  She tried to learn the Magic of Friendship.  She tried to help those she'd harmed.  She tried to ignore the fact that, deserved or not, being the most hated person in school hurt.

The results she got were . . . less than ideal.  While everyone was preparing posters for the musical showcase, she offered to help Rainbow Dash's biggest fan and the little sisters of Applejack and Rarity --the three students in the entire school, outside of the Rainbooms themselves, most likely to give her a chance-- she was not given a chance.

Her hopes of having new students get to know not-evil her before they heard about how she used to be were killed off pretty quickly when it turned out they were evil monsters from Equestria's past drawn in by the display of magic she had instigated.  Her attempt at a warning failed; Luna thought she was trying to deflect unwanted attention and escape her past.  Then she sent a message to her Celestia.  Celestia didn't answer.  Twilight did, though, and that went . . . well, it wasn't the worst thing ever.

Utter failure, a chance at success, and getting slapped right back down again was what it took for anyone to ask for Sunset's help.

That changed everything.  For one thing, the Rainbooms started being her actual friends.  She even joined the band.  For another, even though no one forgot what she had done, people finally gave her a second chance.

~ * ⁂ * ~

And that's when Sunset started feeling it again.  Looking back now, she wished she hadn't.  She was a Rainboom.  She was a friend.  She was loved.  She belonged.  She wrote to Twilight, now her magical pen pal, that she felt like she was part of a family again.She had everything she'd ever wanted.

The Monday after she wrote that, her new family disowned her.  Any illusions Sunset had about newfound emotional stability were shattered when all it took to leave her crying on the floor was a few harsh words.

So much for family.

Maybe it was poetic justice.  Sunset had accused a lot of people of things they hadn't done.  Only fair that she be brought down by being framed.

Her only lead evaporated when Trixie proved to be entirely innocent.  All Sunset got out of that was the guilt of having made a false accusation herself.

Twilight said that Sunset had to find her family, and she'd tried.  She tried.  She went to the Rainbooms, a group that didn't include her anymore, and planned to let them know how much she cared about them in hopes that they'd remember how much they, she wanted to believe, cared about her.

She didn't get a word in.

Before she was through the door, Rainbow Dash shouted, "Hey! Get out!"

Applejack followed up with, "Yer not welcome here, Sunset."

Sunset gave up.  She turned around, walked right back out the door, tried to hold her tears in while she stood there in the snow, and finally ran in a random direction when the tears came anyway.

~ * ⁂ * ~

What hurt the most was that, no matter what the others said now, it had been real.  She had, at long last, belonged.  She was loved, for however brief a time.  Now it was over.  And she didn't know if she could endure that.  It had been one thing to be chasing after a half-remembered feeling from her childhood, this was something else entirely.

She'd had it, she'd lived it.  Not in a memory that might not even be accurate; it was so, so recent this time.  It had been, she thought, the new normal.  Instead it was gone.

She couldn't go back to how she'd been before.  She couldn't bear it.  But she didn't know what she could do.  So she ran.

She ran until she couldn't run any more.  Then she walked.  As the cold sank in and her energy drained away, her walking deteriorated.  She'd stumble, or go crooked for a few steps, she even bumped into a "No Parking" sign once.  She didn't care.  She barely noticed.

She kept walking.

Then there was light and motion and noise.  So much.  Too much.  Nothing touched her, but the disorientation dropped her.  The snow was dirty; it stung against her face.  She didn't feel like getting up.

~ * ⁂ * ~

There were sounds (doors maybe?) then voices.

"What the Hell were you thinking, walking--" Sunset didn't do anything to interrupt, she didn't know why the person stopped talking.

The silence was broken when a second voice said, "We didn't hit her, right?  If we hit her, we would have felt it, and I didn't feel it, so we didn't hit her.  Right?"

"We didn't hit her," the first voice said, "but that's entirely because of my driving instead of--"

"Not the time," a third voice said.  Come to think of it, these voices sounded vaguely familiar.

Sunset was pulled off the ground, whoever did it turned her as they lifted, and the end result was almost like she was sitting.

"Are you ok?" the third voice asked. Sunset tried to look at the person talking, but her eyes stung and her vision was clouded by . . . tears?  Snow?  She didn't know which.  All she saw was an indistinct blob.  Sunset was being held by an indistinct blob with a familiar sounding voice.

As for the question . . . Sunset wasn't really prepared to answer that question.  Not that week.  Not that day.   Not that hour.  Certainly not that moment.  Still, she tried.

"I'm alive," she said.

"Well obviously," the second voice said, Sunset looked in their direction, but what she saw was just another blob, "we can see that.  Unless . . ." there was a gasp.  "Are you a zombie‽"

It definitely wasn't Pinkie Pie's voice, but part of Sunset was crying out that she was dealing with Pinkie Pie as a result of that.

"You're the worst," the first voice said.  Sunset didn't bother trying to look.

"No y--" the second voice said.

"Not the time!" the third voice shouted.

There were a couple murmurs of what might have been, "Sorry," from voices one and two.

"Look," the third voice said, "you're obviously not alright, and you shouldn't be out in this weather.  Let us give you a ride home." Sunset didn't argue.

~ * ⁂ * ~

Sunset ended up in the backseat of a car with voice three on her left and voice two on her right.  She closed her eyes and tried to will the world away.  Voice two wasn't having that.  Voice one was on the same page.

"Are you from Canterlot?" voice two asked.

"Of course she is," voice one said from the front seat.  "This is Canterlot."

"Well, we're in Canterlot."

"I just said that!"

"And we're not from Canterlot."

The owner of voice one made an "ugh" sound.  Voice three remained silent.

"So she could be like us," voice two continued.  "Oh!  Are you a second semester transfer to CHS like us?"

"You.  Are.  The.  Worst," voice one said.

"No, you are!" voice two shouted back.

You'll have to excuse them, voice three said from Sunset's memories.  They're idiots.  Suddenly everything clicked.

Sunset opened her eyes, blinked the last water from them, and looked around.  She saw exactly what she expected to see: Adagio Dazzle was on her left, long suffering look on her face, Sonata Dusk was pouting on Sunset's right, and Aria Blaze was driving.

This, Sunset realized, was going to go very, very badly.

~
~ * ~
~ * ⁂ * ~
~ * ~ * ~ * ~

As noted, this came from writing for five and a half hours straight, which is not a common occurrence.  It also came from another place.

Adagio Dazzle, Aria Blaze, and Sonata Dusk are the villains of the second Equestria Girls movie.  They're originally from Equestria (pony-world) but were banished to the human world a long time ago.  (The reasoning was basically, "The lack of magic in that world will probably neutralize them as a thread, and if it doesn't . . . who cares?  It's not our world.)  The in fandom three of them are collectively known as "The Dazzlings", as that was their band name.

The human and pony worlds are the sort of parallel world pair where individuals from one world have pseudo-identical counterparts in the other.  (Once you adjust for species, which the trip from one world to the other does on its own, and fashion sense, if there's any difference, an individual and their counterpart are virtually indistinguishable.)

Since the Dazzlings are originally from pony-world, if they have counterparts those counterparts would be ordinary humans in the human world.

So, a while back, someone wrote a story in which the human counterparts of the Dazzlings transfer into CHS, the high school in which Equestria Girls is set, and that works out about as well as you'd expect.

Someone I know on Discord said this about that story:
Holy haybiscuits, you guys all need to read this story. It's everything you'd wish from an Anon-a-miss story, but with the Dazzlings and it's just an absolutely amazing read so far.
Anon-a-Miss stories are those based off of (usually theoretically better versions of) The Equestria Girls Holiday Special.  I've got eleventy billion of them.*  The core of the plot is that Sunset Shimmer is framed for leaking embarrassing secrets online (which would have been a huge breach of trust if true) and is denounced and abandoned by her friends.  (Because her friends did this in a public place, and because of Sunset's less than stellar history, she ends up with, more or less, the entire school against her.)

It's pretty easy to see the connection between that and the concept with the human counterparts of the Dazzlings.  Everyone blames Sunset for something she didn't do because she was framed.  Everyone blames human-Dazzlings for something they didn't do because their exact doppelgangers did do it.

Much more recently, someone (unknowingly) suggested crossing those two streams.  Their suggestion was very short, and boiled down to Sunset linking up with the human counterparts of the Dazzlings during Anon-a-Miss.  There wasn't any detail beyond that, but I was thinking about all of the above as soon as I read the description.

After three hours of it marinating in my head, I wrote this.

~ ~ ~

I meant what I said at the start about not needing to know things.  Sunset's feelings are what matter in this chapter, not the details of who and what and where.  That said, if anyone wants to know more . . .

Princess Celestia is the immortal ruler of Equestria and has taken on two personal students that we know of in canon.  The first was Sunset Shimmer, and I've given you an in depth story on that.  The second was Twilight Sparkle, and the entire of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is about that.

Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, who prefers to be called Cadence (technically "Cadance" but that's just a way to keep the search results focused on her instead of cadences, and nothing more, so I spell it with one "a") was a Pegasus who grew a horn after doing impressive stuff and was adopted by Celestia as a niece.

According to a deuterocanonical comic, Sunset Shimmer had a vision of herself with wings (and still having a horn) in the magic mirror that happens to be the pony-side of the portal between worlds.  She became obsessed with it, and things did not go well.  The human side of the portal is one side of a presumably marble pedestal for a horse statue that stands in front of Canterlot High School (their sports teams are named "Wondercolts".)  Under regular conditions it only opens for one three day period every thirty moons.

Given that it's the position of the moon among the stars I've calculated that time using sidereal moons instead of the much more common and traditional synodic month.  (I did the same thing in the only other recent story here.)  It only occurred to me after doing all of that math that I was missing something obvious.  The most reasonable way to combine "When people say 'moons', they mean 'synodic moons'" and "the position with respect to the stars matters" is to have an approximate calculation based on thirty synodic moons and then refine it to an exact date using sidereal moons.

So either 32 sidereal moons (which is less than thirty synodic moons) or 33 sidereal moons (which is more than 30 synodic moons.)  Instead I did 30, so . . . yeah.

I said "under regular conditions" when talking about how the portal opened.  In the second movie Princess Twilight Sparkle built a machine that piggybacked the portal's operations off of a signal linking two magical books.  Anything written in one appeared in the other and Sunset and Princess Celestia used them for communication before their falling out.  With one book in each world, the magic connecting them provided a way to open a portal even when the two worlds weren't in their easily navigated "three days every thirty moons" alignment.

As such, by the time of this story it's possible to travel between worlds at well.

"The Rainbooms" are a band that, at the present tense of this story, includes: Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Applejack.  These five also happen to be Sunset's former friends.  With the exception of certain bits of very meta fandom shorthand, "the Rainbooms" is the most concise way to refer to this group.

Human Celestia and Luna are the principal and vice principal of Canterlot High School respectively.  Pony Celestia and Luna are the rulers of Equestria who move the sun and moon respectively, but when Sunset left Equestria Luna had allowed her resentment to transform her into Nightmare Moon and had been banished to the moon.  In Luna's absence, Celestia controlled both the sun and moon.

The worlds, and emphasis, attributed to Rainbow Dash and Applejack in this come directly from the source material.  In the Holiday Special comic Sunset convinced them to listen to her.  In this . . . well, you read it (presumably.)

That may or may not cover all of the things that make more sense with knowledge of the source material.

~ ~ ~

In Latinthat feeling when you realize that the novels you've been reading are secretly non-fiction memoirsstaying closer to source materialwhen Sunset Shimmer's human counterpart comes to towna sequel to someone else's story, and many, many more that haven't been posted here.)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Comment Dump of updates posted elsewhere, because I haven't finished the recap plus update that was supposed to be posted here

First, here's the last thing posted here to talk about the state of things:
That that was also a comment dump probably says something about where I am when it comes to actually writing things.

(Bear in mind that what follows involves stuff taken from three different places.  There is plenty of duplication herein.)

Wondrously Hyperlinked Table of Contents:



⁂  ⁂

February 15th () -- Disqus Comment.  Link to original context.

I collected the comments I made in open threads here about how I've been doing and what's been going on into a post at Stealing Commas.

I made a post to answer the question of if there's anything people can do to help me. I wish it didn't boil down to "Here are multiple ways you can spend money." Unfortunately, that's the state of things. I need to deal with serious financial problems, and I need fiction to serve as both escape and inspiration, and the only fiction that's working for me right now is not even close to free.

I also need calories, but I feel like telling people on the internet "You could have pizza delivered to me"* is courting logistical catastrophe.

* Delivery is great when you lack the energy to do much of anything, and the Portland Pie Company makes fantastic pizza.


⁂  ⁂

February 16th () -- Disqus Comment.  Link to original context.

As noted somewhere or other, primary computer is working again.

If I can pull myself together enough to make the attempt, I might go back to the "Maybe I could do let's plays" idea I was considering before primary computer stopped working. The idea being that I'd really like to be producing something (I feel so very useless and worthless when I'm not) and taking a break from myself and the real world by playing games is something that I'm doing anyway, since it makes life bearable.

Whether or not I manage to do that, I am at least able to play games again.

Yesterday I reinstalled and played a game called AER: Memories of Old it's really good. In particular, the flying is . . . it's probably not perfect, because nothing ever is, but it's good enough that I can't see any way to improve upon it. It's exactly what you want from the bird side of a game where you can turn into a bird.

I spent a good long while yesterday just flying. I did save the world at some point (because: why not?) but I spent significantly more flying for flying's sake. Zipping through trees, skimming along clouds, occasionally going through waterfalls or holes in the floating islands.

So, yeah, I totally recommend that.


⁂  ⁂

February 20th () -- Disqus Comment.  Link to original context.

[I've never heard anyone ask for a plumbing content note, but given that we're talking about shit here, I figured people might want a warning. This is that warning.]

There's a plumbing problem in my house. It's almost certainly a clog caused by the fact that, when toilet paper ran out, my housemate used paper towels. This is nothing against my housemate, by the way, I didn't know either.

It's kind of obvious in retrospect: paper towels are made so you can clean up, sometimes with scrubbing, things that are wet. That is to say, they are specifically designed to not dissolve in water. Toilet paper is designed to dissolve in water, and plumbing systems rely upon that fact. Substituting paper towels for toilet paper might work once or twice (though I wouldn't recommend testing that, because it also might not) but done at any length it will result in disaster.

There already was a problem because of that. I managed to fix it (it was not fun) but my current theory is that while I fixed the immediate problem, I didn't get everything out. I mean, I was fishing stuff out with an unwrapped coat hanger, not any kind of plumbing tool, so it's pretty reasonable to assume my results weren't perfect.

Pause to note something. First, I actually have asthma, but it's minor exercise induced asthma. So when I talk about not being able to breathe, unless it's something that happened during or immediately after exertion, it's not a matter of asthma.

That wasn't the thing to note, I just wanted to have that disclaimer before I noted the something in question. My breathing is less than ideal when confronted with smells or fumes of a certain character. It feels like the two are linked, but I couldn't go into any great detail about the feeling.

For fumes it tends to be at a far lower level. The reason I stay in the car at a gas station is to avoid discomfort (sometimes silent, sometimes involving lots of coughing) for sufficiently large smells, it's on another level. (This feels like a difference of degree rather than quality, as noted.)

Certain types of shit, certain types of rot, and (possibly) urine produce the strongest reaction. It's kind of like a gag reflex, but at the same very much not like a gag reflex. I lack the words (or perhaps the points of reference) to describe it properly. The smell hits me and I can't breathe. I've never tested how long the inability to breathe lasts for. I remove myself from the smell, breathe, and (if necessary) return and repeat.

So, for example, when it falls on me to change diapers, I have to do it in stages.

Fishing paper towels out of your sewer pipe smells a lot like changing diapers, but there's no cute child, and there's no readily apparent limit. One knows that it can't go on forever, but until you actually reach the point where you're not finding more, there's no end in sight.

So, like I said, fixing the original problem was not a pleasant process. Definitely not something I had any desire to repeat.

My best guess on what happened is that, while I got a lot of stuff out (and things flowed properly again), I didn't get everything, and what remained eventually collected together to form a new clog. I don't know whether or not that's true, but it's my best guess.

Originally I was going to try to fix the current problem myself, but two things happened. One is that I couldn't bring myself to even start the attempt. Why? See above. I may not have known what would be involved in full, but I know the smell and how my body reacts to it. The other is that if I'm right about what happened, the present problem is because I wasn't thorough enough the first time; who's to say that I would be this time?

So I got a professional, which wasn't easy because severe depression does not, for me, mix well with phones.

Professional came today, professional did what he could, turns out the current clog is in a bad place. It's outside the house. I was afraid that might be the case. It's far enough outside the house that special tools need to be used. Even though the clog is almost certainly composed of paper towels, we're talking the kinds of tools they'd use for if a tree were growing through the pipe.

(I'm not actually sure if this is because such tools are the only ones he has that are that long, company policy, or some regulation or other. Just that the guy either can't do it, or isn't allowed to do it, without breaking out those tools.)

This in itself isn't a terribly big problem. The guy showed up in a big company truck that had those tools and doubtless many more. The problem is that the sewer / main drain pipe,* by a combination of design and necessity, is in the least well traveled corner of the basement. The basement that is used for storage.

While the space available is more than enough to fix most potential plumbing problems, the equipment needed to fix this one needs more space than currently available. (And it also needs to get there.) Again: the least well traveled corner of a basement being used, primarily, for storage.

So, in closing, fuck.

* I'm not sure which is the correct terminology, but I've definitely heard both. "Sewer" because it's the one and only pipe in the house that connects to the sewer, "main drain" because it's what all the other drain pipes drain into.


⁂  ⁂

February 25th () -- On a Discord Server

Not eating enough finally caught up to me.  I can barely hold my head up, I doubt I could stand for long.  Sitting on the couch, trying to keep my eyes open, but it isn't a "sleepy" kind of tired.  I just don't have any energy.

Yesterday my sister's sorta-boyfriend came to help clear the space the plumber needs to work in the basement.

He and housemate, who was my sister's friend before my sister turned on her and became outrageously emotionally abusive, are currently cleaning my kitchen, which is not in the basement.

The only reason housemate is my housemate is that she had literally no place else to go, and the choice of "become homeless or keep getting abused" wasn't fair, so I offered my home.  I don't like having other people in my house, but housemate kept to herself so it was ok.

If I had the energy (and I managed to cope with dealing with people) I'd be in the kitchen, and almost certainly telling them not to fucking do half of the things they're doing.  I can hear them talking and working (and maybe I'm misinterpreting, but), it definitely sounds like why I don't ever accept offers of help cleaning: no one ever does what the fuck you tell them.

They do what they think is best for you.  They do what's easy or obvious.  They operate on a combination of, "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission," and, "She thinks she doesn't want this, but she'll thank me in the end."

-

Don't get me wrong, I'd love for my kitchen to be clean, and it will be, but either my future is going to involve digging through fucking garbage bags (which will, of course, be mostly filled with actual garbage) or I'm going to lose stuff I don't want to lose.

-

If people could be trusted to just do what I ask them to do, my house would have been cleaned ages ago because I wouldn't be constantly turning away help.  With my depression how it is, though, its possible that I never would have gotten it done anyway.  It's been three years since things got bad, two since things got worse, and . . . I don't know, eight or nine months since things got even worse than that.

So, anyway, that's going on.  On the one hand, nice people are being helpful.  On the other hand, it's incredibly stressful.


⁂  ⁂

February 28th () -- Disqus Comment.  Link to original context.

I wrote a thing. Said thing being a conversation (and accompanying thoughts) in the Equestria Girls 'verse that touches on moons as a unit of measure (in light of the difference between a sidereal month and a synodic month), the smell of old books, probability, question begging, and hastily made cover stories for other dimensional duplicates.

I posted three things at Patreon, but if you can read them you probably already got automatic email notifications. Still, here's a list.

First we had my proposed remake of the game The Last of Us (now with 100% less killing off of teenage lesbians.)

Second is something that's free to everyone, but that's mostly because it's been freely available at other places for positively ages. It's the first chapter of an Equestria Girls story called Fractured Friendship. I mostly posted it so that there would be on-Patreon context for the last thing.

Finally there was a fragment of Fractured Friendship that will eventually be the beginning of Chapter 2. Not sure when exactly that will happen, since I've been trying to write the rest of chapter two for a very long time and had no progress.

The three things at Patreon are old things I dug up rather than any kind of recent writing.


⁂  ⁂

Februrary 28th -- Fimfiction Blog Post.  Link to original context.

Still Alive (and an update on where various stories stand) 

Figured that I'd check in. Things are bad. Things have always been bad. Things had already been notably bad for six months before I became a member here. They've only gotten worse since then.

At this point the best I can say about where I'm at is, "I'm not suicidal yet," which isn't nearly as positive as it sounds because in days gone by I would have never imagined it might be necessary to tack a "yet" onto the end of the sentence, and now I feel it is.

Here's a rundown of where my stories stand:

Fractured Friendship
⊙ 971 words have been written for Chapter 2
11,727 18,010 words have been written for later chapters
᠎ ᠎ ᠎ ᠎ (That figure is inflated because some are redundant while others are superfluous.)

A New Path Forward
⊙ 0 words have been written for Chapter 3
⊙ 1,702 words have been written for Chapter 5
⊙ 287 words of bare dialogue have been written for a yet to be determined later chapter
⊙ 813 words from a different yet to be determined chapter have been written

From the Ashes
⊙ 104 words have been written for Chapter 1. (The only published chapter is the prologue.)
⊙ 1,389 words have been written for Chapter 2 or 3 (won't be sure which until I get there.)
⊙ 5,760 words have been written for another chapter, I know not which.
⊙ 526 words have been written that likely belong in one or both of the previously mentioned chapters.

Down the Memory Hole
⊙ 0 words have been written for Chapter 2.
⊙ 331 words have been written for a later installment. (Late enough to be circa the climax)

Those are the in progress stories that have words actually written instead of just plans in my head.

Stories I'm not actually writing (including eleventy billion alternate Anon-a-Miss ideas)
⊙ 45,992 words have been written.

- - - - - ❋ ❋ ❋ - - - - -

Let's close with a random snippet from the story I didn't actually end up writing for the second Imposing Sovereigns contest:
“Equestria was almost conquered, twice, by a creature whose sole power was the ability to steal magic.”

“Ok, but Equestria is almost conquered all the time,” Sci-Twi said. “After the first eight times, it stops sounding impressive.”

“Your incredibly rude and tasteless point is well made,” Celestia said.

“Thank you.”


⁂  ⁂

February 28th () -- On a Discord Server

I should be asleep, but I decided that eating was important and set out to make myself a pizza.

It never occurred to me to check to see if someone might have placed meltable plastic in my oven.  It never occurred to me to check to see if someone had placed stuff that doesn't belong in an oven in my oven in general.

Through the beauty of preheating I have destroyed one or more things, I know not what.  In the morning, when said things have had a chance to cool down, I shall inspect the damage.  No pizza tonight.


⁂  ⁂

February 29th () -- On a Discord Server

So, on the one hand, real progress toward getting plumbing fixed.  Space needed for plumber to work has been cleared, then need to clear the way to get there (because, to avoid stairs, it's via a door I literally nailed shut last winter), then work is done and plumber comes tomorrow morning.

That's good.  Especially if it makes people stop "helpfully" cleaning my house.

On the other hand, I'm drenched in sweat and I can't take a shower or wash clothes until the plumbing is actually fixed.  When the work is done, I'll change into less dirty clothes, but that's not remotely the same as being clean.

As a complete aside, I've been having nausea for this whole ordeal.  It seems to be a result of not doing much in the way of eating.


⁂  ⁂

February 29th () -- On a Discord Server

Yesterday I got a massive thing of cookies.  They're a great thing to eat when (because you haven't been eating) you don't have the energy to eat much of anything.

In entirely unrelated news, yesterday I published a blog post the gist of which was:
Things have gotten so bad that the only good thing I can say is, "I'm not suicidal yet."

Also, here's a status update (with exact word counts) for every one of my stories that has progress beyond what's published.

Only response:
I'm still waiting for some chapters for Fractured Friendship.


⁂  ⁂

March 1st () -- On a Discord Server

So, I got help setting up the thing with the plumber because I can't do phones right now.  Would have been nice if the person helping had told me that the plumber in question was cash or check only before we set up to have the guy come here on a day when the banks are closed.  (Also, the first of the month isn't the best time for cash.)

As such, I'm sitting here hoping that enough of my patreon income is processed in time, so I can send it to paypal (which is thankfully instantaneous) and then run across the street to get that money out of an ATM.

Fun.

-

I just took a shower.  Being clean is wonderful.
Any idea what that fee is lookin like?
(wait can i even ask that sry)
Yes, you can ask.  It ended up being $190 and my dad was able to come over with cash.  (Which is good, because Patreon processing is still at $85 and change.)
hoh damn, I'm glad the dad came through
Because that was a shituation right there
In more ways than one.  I'm convinced that human shit is the worst smelling shit in the world.  (Chickens try really hard for the title, though.)

And, yeah, if I'd known I needed cash I wouldn't have had the plumber come on a day when banks are closed and my online income was being processed.  If I could have gone to the bank, I could have gotten the cash.  By this time tomorrow my patreon income will be processed and that (once I transfer it to Paypal, which, again, is instant) can be gotten from an ATM, no bank needed.

The communications breakdown was actually fairly simple, I would have assumed I needed to pay in cash, except the previous plumber (who flaked out on finishing the job) took credit and I expected the person helping me to inform me of any major differences for non-flaky plumber, needing to be paid in a different way being a major difference.  Person helping me saw the situation as "Not taking credit is the default option, so it goes without saying."


⁂  ⁂

March 2nd () -- Patreon Post Link to original context.

How we got to the point that I need to put scare quotes around "helpful" and "cleaning", and what it's like now that we're here

I'm going to stick this one inside a collapsible.
[Contains: plumbing problems, feeling helpless in one's one home because people are "helping", flashlights, glassware, stuff, things, things and stuff, and dead plants.]

A while ago, early November maybe, I went up to help my sister for, I think, a weekend.  It was definitely three days.  The plan was to arrive on one day, work on what needed doing until it was time to sleep, spend the whole next day working, and then work until my mom arrived to take me home on the third day.

No work got done.

On the ride up my sister told me about how she wanted her then-housemate gone but didn't have the heart to throw her out because, as she had nowhere else to go, that would make her homeless.  Even though housemate tried to stay out of sight, my sister spent the first day too preoccupied with housemate do do anything.  That night I thought I was going to have to do a lot of awkward and uncomfortable work to fix things.

Before I got out of bed the next morning, my sister told me, at great length, how horrible housemate was.  (Housemate woke up to this.)  It was pretty clear pretty fast that things couldn't be fixed.  My sister spent the day yelling at housemate and threatening to throw her out right that second.  Housemate spent most of the day crying in her room.  She called everyone she could think of and asked them to come and give her a ride away.  No one was simultaneously willing and able.

To be clear, she was only asking for a ride from these people.  There was no other home she was trying to get a ride to.  The plan was to be homeless in Portland, because she knew (from experience) that she could survive being homeless in Portland, and the same couldn't be said of being homeless in the less populated area where my sister lives.

I offered housemate two things.  One was a ride out of there when my mom came the day after.  The other was an empty room at my house.  The hardest part was convincing my sister to just fucking wait until the next day, instead of kicking housemate out right then.

The third day was completely different.  My sister tried to convince both of use to stay for two more days and actually get some work done.

First off, the reason that work hadn't been done on days one and two was that my sister wouldn't stop going on about how horrible housemate was and how she couldn't endure another minute of having housemate in the house, which left no time to do actual work.

Second, she'd been trying to get rid of housemate this whole time and it was a constant struggle just to get her to wait until day three because another night (or indeed another hour) was, apparently, too much time spent with housemate in the house.  Now she was asking for two more days and nights because . . . bwah?

As you might imagine, we got the fuck out of there.


For the record, I am in no way saying that housemate was not at fault in the relationship.  I wasn't there, I don't know what the fuck led to that point.  Housemate is obsessive about my sister, and she makes no secret of the fact that the love she feels for my sister isn't exactly the chaste familial kind.  (My sister loves her back, but it is the familial kind.  It's the same type of love our father had for the two of us when we were kids: tainted fucked up love.)

I legitimately have no idea if the things my sister said about housemate were true or not.  I just know that when I was there it was completely one sided with a clear victim.

Anyway, now housemate is my housemate which worked out to be far less disruptive than I expected on a day to day basis.


Fast forward to late November and my sister's truck runs her over.  This is, naturally, a "Drop everything and help out" situation.  Housemate tried to do the same --they'd managed to work together one time since housemate had come to live with me and my sister did request her presence-- but that worked out not in the least.  So housemate went back to my house while I was at my sister's and at the hospital.  House ran out of toilet paper; housemate used paper towels.  Don't ever do that.

In retrospect the problem is kind of obvious: toilet paper is made to come apart in water, paper towels are made to hold together when wet (so one can scrub.)  That being said, I could easily have made the same mistake if I'd been at home, run out, and my depression had been too severe for me to make a trip to the store.

Anyway: bad idea; don't ever do that.

I was the one to notice there was a problem, figure out what it was, and try to solve it.

Fishing paper towels out of a sewer pipe with a tool you've improvised from a wire coat hanger is not fun.  I had at least one involuntary gag reflex per attempt.  There were a lot of attempts (usually successful) because the paper towels seemed to go on without end.

I went back up to help my sister before I finished and was informed that the job had been completed by a family member in my absence.

While the immediate problem might have been solved, the job had not, in fact, been completed.  There were still paper towels in the system, and they collected to form a new clog further down the line.  Far enough down the line that it was outside the house (but not so far as to become the city's problem.)

This wasn't noticed immediately because some previous plumber had broken a clean out cap. They'd twisted the fitting right off, leaving a hole in the middle.  I have no idea how long ago that might have happened.  Years for sure.  A decade? maybe.  Decades plural?  Could be.

There had never been a problem that interacted with that hole.  Now there was.  In what was, arguably, the most remote corner of the basement.  For a while I could tell that something was wrong, but I couldn't tell what or where.  It wasn't until I was downstairs when the washing machine was draining and could hear the water coming out through the hole in the cleanout plug that I figured out what was wrong.


At this point it's probably important to mention that my depression was making it basically impossible to make phone calls.  Eventually we did get a plumber to come, he determined that the problem was far enough in (more than six feet) that he'd need to use a tool that took more space than was available, and he said he'd have a quote for the rest of the job when we called up to tell him we'd cleared the space.

We never got that quote.

Housemate thought we'd need help, getting the help took several days.  One too many days for the plumber, who retroactively decided that he considered the conditions unsafe and was afraid to come back.  That deserves some attention.

I didn't think to ask the plumber "How much space do you need?" when he was there, because sometimes absurdly obvious things go right over my head.  So when we'd imported the helper housemate thought we'd need to clear the space, we were suddenly faced with the fact we didn't know actually know what that space was.

So we called the plumber, or rather the company he worked for, to ask.  This was actually the day after imported helper arrived, because the day of arrival wasn't a particularly good day for any of us, so we decided to rest, recover, and then get to work the next morning.  At that point we discovered that the plumber had told his boss, the previous day, that he wasn't coming back here.

That means that he came here, determined that the problem (in spite of just being paper towels) required big honking equipment (so, again, don't ever let paper towels go down the drain), told me to call him back when we'd cleared space for it, spent several days ready and willing to return to my house, and then, after several days of considering the house a safe working environment, decided, sight unseen, that it had somehow mutated into an unsafe one.

Now, it turns out that when a plumber in that company decides they're not going back to a house, the company stops sharing information like "It's best to have an eight foot by eight foot area cleared when using the thingamajig in question" or, "Here's how much the job would have cost."

So the operator couldn't give us any of the answers that had been sitting around ready to be relayed until the plumber got cold feet and changed his mind the day before we called.  She could, however, say to the plumber, "They're literally asking you what conditions you want and offering to provide exactly what you ask for, no matter what that may happen to be, so could you at least tell them what it would take for you to do the job?"

This left us in a weird situation.  We didn't know what we had to do to make the plumbing possible and we also didn't know if we should call a different plumber.  We did have three people to do the work.


In the end it turned out that we didn't need three people to do the work of clearing the area.  Imported helper and I were able to clear it, tons of extra space, and several adjacent spaces in one day (during which housemate was in a depressive slump that prevented her from helping.)  We did this after getting a new and different plumber who was willing to tell us what he needed in order to do his job.

Here's the thing, though.  The day after arriving, imported helper started to clean the kitchen, which is not in the basement and had no bearing on the plumber (the equipment needed was less than ideal for going down stairs, so the plumber entered through the back door and never needed to visit the ground floor.)  Several days were taken on that, and other things, before we even called the new and different plumber who actually did plumbing.

On the first day, not eating caught up to me and I could barely hold my head up.  I spent the whole day sitting on the couch because a lack of calories meant I didn't have enough energy to do much of anything else.  That meant that I was stuck sitting there listening while housemate and imported helper cleaned the kitchen which sounded like breaking glass and ceramic and would have been stressful anyway because I wasn't there to separate the good stuff from the trash.

I had food delivered and ingested sufficient calories that night, in the following days I was more able to do stuff.  That said, the clanging of pots and pans (remember: kitchen) proved to be too much for me, and I had to give up on helping one day because of that.  Too much noise; had to hide.

The lack of eating nausea didn't go away nearly as easily as the lack of energy from the lack of calories.  That limited my involvement too.  Just the fact there were two of them left me feeling outnumbered.  With the exception of the day that depression had housemate too out of it to engage, both housemate and imported helper have way more energy than I do.

It's not quite that I feel unsafe; I know that neither of these people would intentionally hurt me.  That said, outnumbered, out powered, and not remotely in control.  Especially since, whether I'm able to help or not, they could ask me things, and they don't.  They just do what they think is best.

People cleaning my house for me without needing any effort on my part sounds nice in overly simplistic theory.  The thing is, I don't trust them.  It's not that I expect them to steal things or anything like that.  They are generally nice and trustworthy people.  I just don't trust them to do the job properly.

They say the right things, but the results speak differently.

The rooms they've cleaned are clean.  There's no doubt about that.  They're also empty.  Desolate.  It isn't hard to see why.

It's easy to clean the threshing floor when you don't separate the wheat from the chaff.  Just throw out everything, and you're done.  It's so very quick and simple.  Sure, you don't have any actual grain at the end of it, but it's not like that matters, right?

I had a sense from the start that, "We're cleaning!" actually meant, "You're going to have to dig through a bunch of trash bags one by one to pull things out."  I've been assured that, because they understand and respect that it's not their house, that won't be the case and they're leaving everything for me to go through at leisure.  Only things that are very definitely undeniably obviously trash are being sorted as trash.

I was given this assurance without ever needing to state my misgivings, by the way.


One of the bags of "Yup, only trash here," burst some days ago, and they haven't gotten around to picking it up yet.  (Fun.)  I had a look through it today.  Laid out on the ground I did indeed find some trash.  Also a lot of my silverware.  Canned food.  (All of my fucking peaches.)  A flashlight.

My depression has been so bad that I haven't watered plants like I should.  Many have died.  I am not proud of this.  I do have a question, though.  Who throws out the vase because the plant in it has died?

Apparently the answer to that is "Housemate and/or imported helper."

The plug for the kitchen sink.  Several glass cups, not a chip on them.  (Impressive given that they were thrown in a bag with metal cans, metal silverware, and so forth, carried in it, and then fell on a paved driveway when that bag broke.)  Neon green frosting, unopened.*  Flash cards for Ancient Greek, somehow dry and pristine (in spite of being left outside in the wetness of late winter since the bag burst) and still bound by elastic into one easy to cycle through thematic group.  My tuna strainer (and its concentric extension for times when you get an oversized can.)  Pliers.


Let's pause for a moment on those pliers.  They were lost.  Part of cleaning is finding lost things.  You find your lost pliers and you don't need to waste money on new pliers when you have perfectly good pliers already.  That, of course, only works if you don't throw the fucking pliers out.

Not everything was lost.  I knew where the canned food was, and the only thing needed to use it was having the will.  (And a can opener, but that's nailed to the fucking wall, well . . . to the copulating cabinet.)  The plug to the kitchen sink probably could have used some cleaning and both the silverware and the cups definitely needed cleaning, but I knew where all of these things were.

The tuna strainer I'm not sure about.  Once upon a time we did lose one and ended up buying a new one.  This was long enough ago that "we" meant my mom and I.  I have yet to come across a situation where I needed two, so I've been pretty laissez-faire** when it comes to keeping track of the second one (whichever that happens to be) when I've got a firm grasp on where the one I'm using is.  The one that got thrown out might have been the one I wasn't keeping track of, it might have been the one I was.  There's a decent chance I'll never know.

The neon green frosting I could have located (probably, we'll never know for sure now) in spite of not knowing precisely where it was.  The kitchen has, or rather: had a general "cake stuff" area.

The flashlight, the flash cards, and the pliers, though?  Those were very definitely lost.  Again, one of the best parts of cleaning --real cleaning instead of this "throw out everything" shit-- is finding lost things.  I've already gotten into the details of the pliers.  Recap: I'd have needed to buy new ones if I hadn't found them.

The flash cards are different.  They're a reminder of one of the few good things in a very bleak part of my life.  They're something that could finally spur me into actually re-learning Ancient Greek, which I've been meaning to do forever.  And, whether I start that project now or later, they're functional.

The flashlight is complicated.  Right now, I could use another flashlight in the house.  That may continue to be the case.  On the other hand, it could turn out that when this ordeal is over I have more flashlights than I could ever want or need in the house.  (I know that won't be the case with the pliers, but for flashlights it's possible.)  In that case, there are various possibilities.


I've been in plenty of situations where it would be useful to have a spare flashlight to loan to someone, and in many of those situations it would be even better if you could just give it to them.  I'm pretty sure that I have family members who could use flashlights in their cars, but don't have them.  Having a dedicated flashlight for something means that wherever you take that something, you'll always have a flashlight.  It could be a tent bag.  It could be a purse or a backpack.  It could be a first aid kit.  (Not all injuries happen in well lit places.)  It could be basically anything.

As one final thing, I can make something out of it.

Like what? you may ask.

So, anyone who's seen me in a place where there's free or obscenely cheap stuff has probably noticed that I have a tendency to grab things of clear patterned glass.  For example, I have at least two (possibly three) Wexford pattern clear glass cruets in spite of the fact that I have never once thought to myself, "I need something to hold liquid condiments such as oil or vinegar."

But, Chris, you could possibly say but probably wouldn't, those things are nothing.  You can get them online for five to twelve dollars. 

This is true.  I've only just learned that it's true as a side effect of trying to figure out what those damned things are called.  That being said, first off it's better when it's free and, even when it isn't free, it feels more significant when you find it yourself and hold it in your hands before getting it.

Ok, but you still haven't said why you want them or what it has to do with flashlights, the hypothetical interlocutor I've been calling "you" will now say as a cheap way to advance the narrative.

The answer is, quite simply, this:


Now, the first thing to note is that that's not one of the aforementioned cruets.  I have no idea what this lidded glass bowl is called, and I do not, in fact, have two of them.  It does, however, have a flashlight in it.

But, Chris, hypothetical you says again, that looks like crap.  The light is all concentrated in one spot, you've braced the flashlight by doing something ugly with the wrist strap, and everything's massively uneven and uninspiring.

Right you are, hypothetical rude person.  That doesn't look terribly good and leaves a lot to be desired.  However, the reason it doesn't look all that good and leaves a lot to be desired is because the flashlight in question is one I use as a flashlight.

After sticking it in there, taking a few pictures, and finally using lid as beam spreader so that I could hold the flashlight like a torch while I walked around the house during that power outage (assuming I'm remembering correctly), I separated the flashlight from the glass kitchenware so that the flashlight could easily be used as a flashlight in future times (which by now include past and present times) and the kitchenware could sit on a shelf being pretty.

If, however, I didn't need the flashlight to continue to be a flashlight, I could have ripped it apart, altered it to suit the intended purpose, and made a much nicer lamp than the improvised and temporary fare you see above.

That only works if the unnecessary flashlight is in my possession instead of in the trash, though, which brings us back to the central thesis of this post:
People are "cleaning" my house, and I want them to stop, but am conflict averse (and one of them lives here now and thus ought to have a say regardless), and all of this means that I'm going to need to dig through a bunch of trash bags because: sweet fuck people, you can't just throw out everything!
As an aside, while the two Wexford pattern clear glass cruets I definitely own are (somehow) still on their shelf in the kitchen, the illuminated glass bowl, with cover, pictured above is not on its shelf.  This does not mean that it's been thrown out (though it might have been) because housemate and imported helper cleared almost every damned thing out of the kitchen with some subset of it intended to be returned at a later time.

One would hope that the pretty glass thing made it into the "temporarily removed" pile instead of the "trash, get rid of it" pile, if only because in the first pile it seems less likely to be broken.

There is something I like about such things beyond just shoving a light source inside of them, though.  (And beyond their obvious mundane aesthetic appeal, I mean.)  Shine a laser into the lidded glass bowl, and the effect is beautiful.  I never looked into it as much as I intended at the time, but it seemed like it might be possible to make a light source out of that effect, provided the surrounding area were sufficiently dark.  Even if it couldn't be used for practical lighting, it's still pretty.

Ok, so, we're done with the burst bag of trash that included a bunch of non-trash, right?  The flashlight was the last thing to discuss, as I recall.  So, let's stick an asterism here so that the wall of text is punctuated by non-text.  (I'll retroactively insert some up-post as well.)


Wait, that wasn't the end of it.  Plant pots, and . . . other stuff.  I've totally forgotten.  (This is the last thing I'm adding to the post, having come back to stick it in after writing the rest.)  The plant pots are significant just because not everything comes down to matters of hydroponics.  That there were more not-trash things than listed above is significant mostly because the list really did go on (and on.)  In a single bag.  That contained pounds of perfectly good canned peaches.  (Canned diced tomatoes too.)  And was supposed to be entirely trash.


Here's another fun tidbit.  There are three places in my house where I keep plants.  There are two that housemate and imported helper haven't come near yet, and the one place they've dealt with.  The place they dealt with had only one plant that survived my depression-induced lack of watering.

When the plants all disappeared, I had (for the first and only time) cause to believe that maybe this cleaning wouldn't be as bad as I imagined.  While the dead plants were gone without a trace, the live plant had been carefully laid aside and kept safe.  I was going to put it back in the window, but I couldn't find anything to put it in.  (If those vases hadn't been thrown out, it would have been a different story.)  This happened while I was the only one in the house.

So I was forced to wait so that I could ask housemate and imported helper, "Where'd you put all the stuff that could hold a plant?"  By the time I had a chance to ask, the plant had mysteriously vanished.

The only kitchen plant to survive my depression, and the neglect that came with it, killed by cleaning.  I mean, there's a slim chance that I'll find it before it's dead, but it's probably outside.  Even if it has survived the night so far, and it's really not made for that, come Thursday the low is supposed to be below freezing.

I can't look through that much "trash" in that amount of time and expect to find something that small.


So, here's the thing, or one of the things, about having to look through bags of trash to find the stuff that shouldn't have been thrown out instead of putting trash in the trash while putting non-trash where it goes: bags of trash have trash in them.  (Usually.)

That means that the whole thing is a good deal less pleasant than dealing with the original mess.  It also means that any time you put something icky in the trash, it's with the knowledge that you're going to have to deal with that shit later.

Eat a banana, throw the peel in the trash.  Unless you looked through that bag and verified it was all actually trash immediately before throwing the peel in and then took it out of the trash can, tied it up, and put it wherever you store curb-ready trash immediately after throwing the peel in, you're going to meet that peel again.

No matter how unappealing (pun not intended, but acknowledged) that peel is when it goes in, it's going to be worse the next time you meet it.

The smart thing to do, other than saying, "Please, for the love of God, stop fucking cleaning my house!" would probably be to have a private secret trash bag into which I could safely put things like that banana peel because, since the others didn't know about it, I wouldn't have to worry about someone not-me putting non-trash in it.  (If I were to put non-trash in it, that would be my own fault, and thus qualitatively different.)

I'm not actually gonna do that.

Have another picture of a flashlight:




* It comes in packs of multiple colors, so sometimes you have to set one or more away for the next cake because the current cake doesn't need every color.  They're sealed completely air tight (you have to physically cut the container open to get at the frosting) so that it will keep until the next cake comes around.

** Yes, I did have a long discussion about economics today.


⁂  ⁂

March 5th () -- On a Discord Server

Adventures in having "helpful" people "cleaning" my house, part n:

I've spent all morning in the driveway going through trash bags.  Most of it really should have been thrown out.  In the recycling instead of the trash, but that wouldn't be so much of a problem.

I found photographs, which are definitely older than me and possibly older than my mom of my grandfather and others.  I didn't look through them, so I can't really say who was in them in any detail.  One person who might be in those photos is my grandfather's brother Andy.  Andy died two Tuesdays ago (February 25th), and today is his wake and funeral.  (Not burial, though.  You have to wait for the ground to thaw.)

Not long after I found the photos, one of the helpful cleaners noticed that I was going through the trash and announced that she was going to stop helping because she couldn't work if it was going to be for nothing.  I very much hope she's serious.

(Another thing being thrown out: the newer better phone that's supposed to replace my crappy current phone.  Fun.)
wait why are they cleaning your entire house
(also my condolences...¿)
Because that seems to have been the plan from the beginning, and I just wasn't let in on it.  Also, as of yesterday I'm stuck with one of my sister's dogs.  I am not in a mental state where I'm able to take care of a dog right now, so I kind of need extra people around, which removes the only option I hadn't tried yet: yelling at them to get the fuck out.


⁂  ⁂

March 5th () -- On a Discord Server

Back from the wake.  I would have stayed for the funeral, but neither of the person who gave me a ride there had to head off well before that and the one who gave me a ride home hadn't been planning on staying and I didn't want to impose.  Said person way my mom, and her uncle just died (obviously), so it's not a good time for imposing.  (Besides which, even though I would have stayed for the funeral service, it's not like I would have gotten much out of it.  It would have been more of a perfunctory attendance.)

Didn't mean to get side tracked on logistics and scheduling.

What I wanted to say, instead, was this: they never look right.

Never.

They're too big in some places and too thin in others and they never look right.

(this me quoting a story someone else on the server wrote)
It looked nothing like Sunset Shimmer.

It looked exactly like Sunset's corpse.
Every fucking time there's an open casket.  They never look right.  They look strange and wrong and foreign and unknown and fuck my memory!

I saw him not long ago.  A few months maybe.  I don't remember what he looked like, not really.  I saw his corpse an hour ago, perhaps less, I don't remember what it looked like, not really.

My memory doesn't work that way.  It's probably why I take so many pictures, even of things that really, honestly, there's no reason to take pictures of.  Instead there's this . . . sense, a feeling, like trying to get a firm grasp on something from a dream you're in the process of forgtetting.  I know the idea of what he looked like, and that would be enough to recognize him in an instant, and it's certainly enough to know that the thing in the casket doesn't look like him.

I should have shot fucking video the last time I saw him, even though we weren't talking about much of anything and I, as I so often do in conversation, sounded like an idiot (I'm pretty sure.)  Because now I'm never going to see him again, and I don't remember what he looked like.

-

My uncle Andy (technically great uncle, but we didn't call him that) was the last of his generation in the family.  Everyone else was already gone.  I can't explain why that matters, and I'm pretty sure it shouldn't, but for some reason that just adds to the . . . everything.


⁂  ⁂

March 6th () -- Disqus Comment.  Link to original context.

Nothing new this week. Nothing old that I've dug up and posting. I did come across some old writings of mine, possibly high school era, in the past week, but I've been way too much in "I have to rescue things before the people

Wait, I did have something new. At patreon I wrote a post called How we got to the point that I need to put scare quotes around "helpful" and "cleaning", and what it's like now that we're here, but if you're not paying me that link is pretty worthless. I have an incomplete post for Stealing Commas that will cover much of the same territory while also placing it in a larger context (basically: the last three years), but I didn't manage to finish it.

[Not being in control of my own house, pet violence, coercion by threatening to put a pet down, memories of a different pet being put down]

Anyway, in the course of trying to save stuff from the "helpful" people "cleaning" my house I cam across some old stuff of mine. Poetry and prose both, very possibly from high school, and if not then likely early college. I haven't had a chance to look at it, because I'm spending my time going through bags of "trash" and pulling out large quantities of not-trash.

The plumbing problem has been fixed. Finally taking a shower was great.

My sister never trained or properly socialized her dogs. This resulted in some kind of vicious dog to dog violence. My sister called up and basically said that  no. She flat out said that if I wouldn't let her dog stay at my house she would put it down, herself, with a fucking shotgun.

Apart from not being house trained, the dog is fine as far as dogs go. I'm not really in a place, mentally, where I can take care of a dog. Housemate will probably do much of the work, and right now the person we brought in to help clear space for the plumber (furniture needed to be moved) will also help until he heads back out. Both of them have some level of experience with training dogs, so that's theoretically good.

When I say that "we" brought him in to help clear the space . . . *deep breath*

Housemate didn't think two people would be enough. Two people was enough. (She was out of it due to her depression being set off, hard, the day we actually cleared the space in question.) It was sold to me as him coming to clear the necessary space for plumbing. Apparently everyone else on earth knew that he was coming to help clean the whole house.

I was well aware that people "cleaning" my house would in fact be "Me being forced to dig through fucking trash bags to pull out non-trash" which was why I wanted it to just be about clearing out space for the necessary equipment for the plumbing.


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March 7th () -- On a Discord Server

You know the thing that almost all Anon-a-Miss fics get wrong?  No matter how justified the anger, verbally ripping people down and making them feel bad doesn't make you feel good.  Not really.  In the moment you can sometimes ride a wave of righteous fury and feel like you're accomplishing something, but in the end nothing has been fixed and you're empty.

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Housemate and temporary housemate were away for much of today.  I was going through the giant pile of trash bags they'd created pulling out the non-trash things.  This shouldn't be necessary in the first place, but I'd kind of gotten used to it.

Things started to go wrong when I found a tarot card, then several more, then several more again, then went into the house so I could use the kitchen table to help in putting them in order (easiest way to check what, if anything, is missing.)  It's the second full deck of tarot cards I found in the stuff they threw out.

Then I found my glasses.  They needed to have the frame fixed, so I've been wearing backup ones that aren't my actual prescription.  Trouble with finding my glasses is, I only found half of the frame.  Also my-- Wait, before that I found my favorite shirt.  Not the first clothing I've found, but this was very definitely very completely clean.  Then my glasses, and the doubly emergency backup glasses for situations like if someone threw my glasses into the trash, and then something happened to backup glasses too.

Then jewelry.  And books.  Books have been a stable of what they've thrown out.  Home improvement supplies, new in their boxes.  So on.

And I was left to stew on this for much of the day while I raced against the setting sun to find everything that had been dumped in that particular bag especially, I hoped, the rest of my glasses.  (I didn't.)

They came back from where they'd been, a photo shoot with a friend of theirs, and as soon as both of them were in the house I unloaded on them.  So they went from a good day to me berating them.  Ruined their day with enough force to cause emotional whiplash; my day (and my mood) have not improved.  Because that never works.

They fucked up, the behavior was downright assholic, but me tearing them down fixed nothing.  I just brought more misery into the world, nothing more.

-

That's the thing that all of the "Yell at the Rainbooms and/or CMC" fics miss.  It never makes you feel better, not really.


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March 13th () -- On a Discord Server

Wait . . . the reason it was difficult to get toilet paper is because people thought it would save them from a pandemic and started stockpiling it?

Sweet fuck do we live in a strange world.


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March 13th () -- On a Discord Server

It's raining today.  Hard.

There are still a bunch of trash bags outside filled with a mixture of trash and not-trash.  Given how heavily the not-trash skews towards things that respond badly to water (including fucking books) this is a very stressful thing for me.

The people who bagged all of this up and took it outside, and kept on doing so after there was no space remaining in the garage which, while hardly the safest place, at least has a roof over it, are in another city/town right now.  This is probably a good thing since flaying people alive is supposed to an over the top threat rather than a means of non-verbal interpersonal communication.

There would be less to stress out about if they'd bagged things up well, since trash bags are waterproof, but many of the bags are quite thoroughly perforated at this point.

It probably would have all fit in the garage if they'd used any sort of care in packing, because I keep finding empty containers and cardboard boxes that haven't been broken down meaning that much (possibly even most) of the volume is taken up by empty space.

But the kind of people who bag well and/or with care probably wouldn't have thrown out half of the things they threw out.


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March 13th () -- Disqus Comment.  Link to original context.

It's raining today.  That, in itself, is stressful.  You see, there are still a large number of bags of "trash" outside.  I've been spending a lot of my daylight time, perhaps even most of my daylight time, going through those bags.  I've pulled out a lot of things that don't respond well to water.  (Electronics, books, and loose-papers-with-important-things-written-on-them stand out.)

The trash bags are water poof, which is good, but the lack of care with which they were filled has led to many of them becoming . . . perforated.  Water can and does get in.  I have seen it.  (Though, mercifully, only rarely.)

It's also the case that whenever I remove a bag and make progress on separating the wheat from the chaff not-trash from the trash, I might be putting at risk something that was, up to that point, perfectly preserved.  Without the removed bag there, new holes may be exposed.  It could be that right now, as I type this, the most important thing to be thrown out is being destroyed because a bag I went through yesterday is no longer playing blocker.

Entirely apart from the fact that we're talking about the fact my books and jewelry and so forth have been thrown out, the way these bags were filled is downright absurd.  The reason it took so many bags, which is probably the reason that the bags of "trash" didn't all fit in the garage under the roof thereof, is because the volume is largely empty space.  (As near as I can tell, based on what I've gone through so far.)  Boxes were not broken down.  Containers were not opened.

The rolling suitcase/dufflebag I use when traveling for a week or more was thrown out (which it shouldn't have been) empty.  That's a pretty decent volume of air and a relatively small amount of plastic and canvas.  When it's in a large black trash bag, though, it looks like any other pile of trash.

It occurs to me now, when it's definitely too late for the storm that's here, that I might have done better to open up all the bags, take out the big empty things, and then see if I could fit what remained somewhere safe.

A hug part of the reason it takes so much time is because of how damned slow it is to go through the little stuff.  If I'd focused on the big stuff only, instead of going one bag at a time, maybe I could have had everything safe by today.  Fuck.

I'm alone today.  In human terms at least.  My sister's dog is still here.  Not really fit to take care of her properly, but given how neglected she was in the past, it's probably still a step up.  I don't really know why I'm alone today.  The housemate and extended-stay house guest were supposed to be spending a single night away to test out a possible living and working arrangement.  That night was two nights ago.

I would love to be able to enjoy their absence, but I'm way too worn down, it means that the dog is solely my responsibility, and it means that the things they said they'd do which I probably can trust them to do (washing the dishes is the only thing that comes to mind) won't get done unless I take time away from the thousand other things I need to do because of their past actions, recuperation, or both.

I can't cope with this shit, and yet I have no choice.

All of this, including the plumbing problem that set off these adventures in ["When we say, "Clean," we mean, "Toss everything important to you in the trash"], is because I tried to be a decent human being.  The relationship between my sister and housemate was toxic as fuck, housemate was begging people to get her out of there even though she had no place else to go.  Her plan, insofar as it existed, was to be homeless in a city she knew (from experience) she could survive being homeless in instead of a countryside where that wasn't true.

I offered her an empty room at my house, so she'd have a place to go.  I don't regret that and if I had known about (but somehow been unable to change) all of the bullshit that resulted from it, I'd still have made the same decision, but it still feels massively unfair that doing something good has led to this.