Friday, April 17, 2015

I am now medicated.

That is all.

"Plumbing Problems" (The Truth Behind Walmart)

[Originally posted at Slacktivist]

Context: Walmart closed 5 stores on the same day, without any prior notice, for six months as a result of "plumbing problems" even though the stores have no problems with plumbing, Walmart's in-house plumbing technicians have no idea what's going on at the stores in question, no plumbing permits have been sought, and when a plumbing inspector showed up on his own initiative to help them secure the necessary permits he was sent away.

It seems that the five stores were closed in an attempt to squelch worker protests, as is Walmart's way.  So the closures of the stores (two in Texas, one in California, one in Oklahoma, one in Florida) is kind of depressing, thus Fred Clark's suggestion:
And we can’t start to believe that if we let ourselves get depressed and dismayed and disheartened by this latest bit of depressing, dismaying and disheartening news. 
So here’s an idea to cheer us up a bit before we even start to think about responses like consumer boycotts, demonstrations, Pete Seeger sing-ins, or legislative campaigns. 
Let’s try to imagine some other possible explanations for the “mystery” of Walmart’s sudden outbreak of “plumbing problems.” What was going on in those stores? Or, perhaps, beneath those stores? Were these closures an attempt to keep some dark secret? Were they necessary to keep the public — the world — safe from something else, something it couldn’t possibly understand?
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Texas:
Jason retraced his steps in the Walmart, looking for where he might have dropped his favorite marble.
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California:
Marie walked aimlessly through the Walmart, imagining her path traced out arcane symbols, forgotten by all except the old gods who ruled this world long before the last sauropod had come and gone.
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Back in Texas:
Alex chased the child, how had the little thing gotten such a head start when Alex only looked away for a second? This was why Alex didn't like helping to watch kids.
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Florida:
Joslyn didn't know why the GPS on the phone had decided to give strange, seemingly random, directions to move about the Walmart. Joslyn certainly didn't know why the phone would care whether or not that candle was moved three inches to the right, but Joslyn was sure of one thing: The phone said that the destination was world domination, and it was getting closer.
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Oklahoma:
Maggie felt that today was the day. Her dreams had told her to go to the center of all evil in the world, so she had come to Walmart. She was accustomed to dowsing with a pendulum. The expensive looking "gem" at the end of the chain was a hunk of worthless acrylic. The cheap looking chain was platinum.
She followed the path revealed to her, feeling that each step brought her closer to the glorious summoning.
The excitement within her built so that she hardly noticed as her incantation rose above the sub-audible. She found she didn't care. Let the mundanes laugh at her; today was the day.
Almost no one paid attention to Maggie. Even if they had known she was speaking Etruscan, no one in the store knew how much of a marvel that was.
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At the meeting of worlds:
It stirred.
Here, without place, and with only tenuous connection to time, there was only one Walmart.
Jason, Marie, Alex, Joslyn, and Maggie were as one. They stood in the same place, walking the same path, at the same pace. Their name was a five part cacophony: its name. Their every footstep added to a symbol with but one meaning: come hither.
Jason, having found his marble, walked out the door; Marie felt her symbol was complete; Alex followed the child out of the store; Joslyn's GPS read, "Return home and await the appointed hour;" Marie said, "Let it be done," in Etruscan as she exited.
It heeded the call.
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"There have never been plumbing problems in--"
The pipes rumbled, gurgled, and resembled a very disturbed digestive system in their sonic display.
"Then what do you call that?"
"That's not... RUN!"
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"So, tell me again, what's wrong with the pipes?"
"You mean besides the fact that they've become the living homes of a gestalt entity that wants to eat our brains?"
"Yes, besides that."
"Uh... nothing."
"Then I don't see why we can't keep the stores open."
"Did you miss the part where it would destroy the souls and devour the bodies of our employees?"
"No."
"And our customers?"
"So what? Closing the stores will substantially cut into our profits."
"If all of our customers are dead, we won't have any profits."
"Well..."
"We need at least eighteen months to make these locations safe, anything less than absolutely committing to eradicating the menace and the infection could spread to every Walmart on earth."
"There is no way that I'd authorize that, the lost profits are too high."
"IF EVERYONE IS DEAD YOU CAN'T MAKE MONEY!"
"Six months and not a nanosecond more."
"There's no way we can do it in that little time."
"The decision is final."

-

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fuck

I put off buying the ticket for too long.  The regular bus was sold out.

Messes up getting ready.

I'm most of the way there, ten fifteen minutes out from an arrival time that should give me 30 minutes to spare.  I realize why everything has been so hard all day.  Why I have a headache so bad and so constant that it seems to have become a part of my very being.

I forgot to take my medication.

I pack my medication after I take it.  Doesn't take a fully working brain to realize that the medication never got packed.

I'm looking at my watch, thinking about my options.  I have none.  There is a payphone at the bus station.  It's my only hope.

I'm counting out quarters.

I call my dad, he's at work and will be until into the night.

I'm hanging up the phone; I'm hoping my sister is available.

I'm hanging up the phone.  I'm resting my head on the phone, I'm not precisely tired.  This is a different kind of lack of energy.

I rest against the brick wall.

I'm looking at my watch, I'm thinking about my options.  I have have none.

I'm looking for quarters.  I try calling my mother.

I'm berating myself over what a waste that was.  Neither my mother or my sister ever pick up on the first try.  I don't have enough quarters to call them enough to have a chance of them picking up.  Even if I did --even if they did-- it's likely neither would bring me my medication.

I'm on the ground.  A backpack on one side.  A duffelbag on the other.  Back against a brick wall.  Eyes closed.

I'm not thinking about my options.  I'm not making a decision.  I'm not doing anything.

I'm wanting to scream.  I don't.  I'm wanting to cry.  I don't, but somehow my eyes feel like I am.  I'm wanting to tell the world I quit.  I give up.  I've had enough.  Fuck off.

I can't take this shit.

I'm looking at my watch.  I'm thinking about how it's twenty minutes to when the bus comes, and it'd take me two to three hours to go, pick up my meds, and come back.

I'm not deciding to take the bus instead of get my meds.  I'm not deciding to get my meds instead of taking the bus.

I'm not doing anything.  But time is passing.

The more time that passes, the closer the bus comes.

If I call my doctor I might be able to get a few days worth or prescriptions called in, but I'll be outside of the area my insurance covers.  Can I even afford that?  Only a few days.  Not cheap stuff.

I don't know.

I'm wondering if it even matters.  Say I get my meds, say I don't.  Not ready for the $650 due next month.

I'm wondering if it even matters.  Say I get the $650 for next month.  What comes after that?  $200 hole to fill every month.  Is my future going to be a constant never ending struggle to not be kicked out of my house if I'm lucky and homelessness otherwise?

My eyes are closed.  I'm wanting darkness to take me,  Go away world.

If I ignore the bus and go back for my meds, maybe I can get on a later bus?  Not from this company, but there is another bus station near here.

I'm wondering if I can afford a new ticket.  I'm wondering if I can really muster the energy to pick up my bags, go home, take meds, pack meds, and then walk back into the city.

If I go, I have to come back.  I can't take more time alone.  I need someone to help me.  To tell me it'll be alright.  What if it won't be?  Fucking lie to me.

I'm contemplating giving up on everything.  No more writing.  No more Stealing Commas.  No more trying.  No more study.

Wouldn't work.  $200 dollars a month or I lose my house, and that's after-- if I manage to deal with the $1000 or so I'm already behind.

I'm wondering if it even matters.

I'm on the ground.  A duffle bag to my left, a backpack to my right.  Propped up against a brick wall.  Eyes closed.

Fuck off, world.  I've run out of hope; I can't deal with you right now.  Come again another day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Monthly money begging post

So, funny story, I didn't have one of these last month because I was too busy panicking about not having money to do the regularly scheduled begging for money post.  I did have several non-regularly scheduled one.

So, this is kind of redundant because I've been begging regularly.  The situation remains the same:
Upside: I will not starve, I still have healthcare, I still have an income.
Downside: New income is $200 a month less than before.  I was barely surviving before.  One of the first indications of what this means is that next month I need to pay $650 that I do not have.
 So the need for money is as scary and immediate as ever.  Thankfully it's much smaller than when the boiler broke.  If I had boiler replacement money then that $200 month hole would be filled for the next two and a half year.

My point is, things are no less dire, but the scale is much, much smaller.

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I usually talk about the month too.

Aprilis was originally the second month of the year and had 30 days.  Adding January and February involved taking days from certain other months.  Aprilis, now the fourth month, had 29 days.  That marks it as a short month.

As high priest, Julius Caesar gave April it's 30th day back.  Since his reforms added days after the ides, the ides of April remain on the 13th day of the month.

Today is ante diem xvii Kalendas Maias (17 days, inclusive, before the start of May.)

The Romans themselves didn't know where the name of April came from.  One theory they had is that it's related to a verb meaning to open.  Thus April is when things bloom, or some such.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I will not starve!

I got my food supplement back.  I will not starve.  That also means that, going forward, I only have a $200ish dollar hole per month to fill.  I actually got my food supplement back retroactively but, unfortunately, I cannot go back in time and use food money to buy the food that's already been bought so the money lost from having to buy that out of savings stays lost.  (It just means that going forward, for example, if I can convince someone with a membership to take me to a buy-in-bulk store I can actually afford to buy in bulk.)

It also finally changes that calculation that I can't stop making.  Instead of needing to find $4,800 a year to cope with the new normal I have to find $2,400.

Which ... still seems hopeless.  I don't even know where I'm going to get (or if I'm going to get) the $650ish for taxes next month.

But at least I won't starve.

Monday, April 13, 2015

An update on oil and money

I got enough money to put some oil in the tank, hopefully that'll last me until things are warm enough that I can turn off the furnace without worrying about things freezing.  Today it seems like we've already reached that point, but it seemed like that before and then there was a snow storm.  So... yeah.

Until I find some workable replacement for the $400ish less I'm getting a month ... Ok, let me put it this way: I that 400ish was more than half of my monthly income, meaning that I have less than half of my previous monthly income to work with.  Until I somehow find a way to deal with that fact, I'm never going to be secure again.

Next month I need to pay the property taxes, which are usually around $650.  (They're due quarterly, so they're about $216 a month.)  Next month will be the second month that I got 200 less in general money and the third month that I got 200 less in food money, meaning that my savings will be about $1,000 less than they should be.  Not quite that, though, because I did get donations to help pay for the oil which, in an ideal world, would have been paid out of savings.

But, you know what I won't have?  $650 to pay for the taxes.  And in all the frustration and panic, I've lost track of when the insurance money is even due.

When my boiler broke I was sure I was doomed.  When I got donations to cover it I had hope.  Now I'm drifting back toward feeling doomed.  My savings are supposed to grow so that I can pay for non-monthly expenses like the taxes.  Instead I'm not seeing a way to keep them shrinking to nothing at which point I lose my house anyway and replacing the boiler turns out to have been merely delaying the inevitable, and not even by that long.

Hell, if I can't somehow raise the money for taxes I could loose my house next month.  My mother, the owner, has been being pressured by her boyfriend to sell it out from under me since she moved in with him, she's retired now and so can't really help me out financially with the expenses, and she can't afford to pay for a home she doesn't live in.  So if I can't cover the taxes that could be the end.

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I want to thank everyone who has ever donated anything to me.  It's kept me going, it's kept my home.  Thank you also to everyone who has read.  It's been flattering and humbling and validating all at once.

I also want to apologize.  I've spent so much time thinking that if I could just get through this or that crisis I'd be able to keep on going and devote more time to the blog and such.  And you've all helped me get through those crises.  But here I am: looking like I won't be able to keep on going, and being so distracted by money and worries that I'm devoting far less time to the blog.

Whenever I think about the state of things I do the same calculation, as if doing it one more time will change the answer.  I need to fill a four hundred dollar hole each month.  There are twelve months in the year.  I need to find $4,800.  Answer never changes.  No idea how the fuck to do that.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

If I had world enough and time (My videogame company)

In answer to a question Lonespark once asked, yes "world enough" does include money.  In this case lots of money used in extremely reckless ways.

Consider everything that's set in, say, New York.  The fact that this covers every Marvel game ever is just the start.  Those games have to create their own slice of New York, almost always from scratch.  That is... a pointlessly inefficient effort wasting way to do things.

I propose instead a pointlessly over ambitious money wasting way to do things.  My game company would create the locations in which a games took place at a high level of detail and then pare it down for the needs of the game.

So, since New York was my example:

Want a game of Premium Rush (the answer is, 'yes', by the way) all that matters to you is the layout of the streets and traffic patterns.  So you take that from the company's virtual New York.  Want a Mirror's Edge style game but set in a real city?  Then you take the rooftops.  Want Daredevil (ok, so you'd never get the licencing rights) Hell's Kitchen is your playground.  Almost everything in Marvel is in New York.  Want a thing where you break into Wall Street banks, hack their computers and give the money to the poor?  Well then you're going to be grabbing the Wall Street sections aren't you?

Escape From New York, the game, would have you take the virtual New York, and shove it into a state of disrepair, Deus Ex asks you to age it to 2052, assume severe economic downturn and horrible laws that have allowed entire sections to be walled off with the only access being checkpoints.  Legendary posits the cars being lifted up and smashed back down, an earthquake, and a giant monster walking through buildings.  All three could have a lot of time saved if they already had ordinary New York built, rather than starting from scratch, as their jumping off point.

What about Law and Order: The Game?

The thing is, the possibilities for re-using an environment that's created at a sufficient level of detail are pretty well endless.  A social game, a mystery game, a paranormal game, (Ghostbusters: The Game), a racing game, a heist game, a superhero game, action, adventure, RPG, whatever.

The same if it's Moscow, the same if it's anywhere (including Fictional Place.)

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But the idea isn't limited to doing way more work than necessary in hopes that it might make later games easier.

It's also in who you hire.  Making games requires game designers, obviously.  But it doesn't just have to be them.  How many games could have benefited in the realism department from someone who understood that it's important to have fucking toilets somewhere?

If you paired off people who understand the constraints of good gameplay with someone who understood the constraints of real life you'd probably end up with a better balance between the two than you do now not because gameplay should be sacrificed for realism (though there are times and places when it would be worth it) but because game designers are not trained in how to design real floor plans, real buildings, real cities, and so forth.

In an ideal process a game set in a realistic-ish world would differ from realistic only when it was a conscious choice to do so (hopefully because it improved the game to do so in that way.)

Said process could begin with teams where one is a game designer and the other is a civil engineer/architect/interiordecorator/whatever but ideally the two would learn from each other via working together and thus both eventually be able to work on their own as developers.

If I wanted an Indiana Jones type game I'd want to hire people who had at least some background in archaeology and also people who had at least some background in whatever culture the magical mcguffin comes from.  And the thing is, they could probably help for more than one game, perhaps giving ideas that game-company-without-them would never even consider.

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I think there was going to be more stuff.