Thursday, December 18, 2014

There appears to be something wrong with my computer

Initially I hoped that it was just a fluke.  It wasn't.

Something, I don't know what, is causing my computer to turn off.  Not just down.  Not crash to a blue screen.  Turn the fuck off.  It can't be the battery because it's happened while plugged in.  It can't be an interruption in power from the cord because it's happened when there was a decent charge on the battery.

Whatever it is, it's like the computer suddenly lost all power because there's no warning, no lead time, it's just working fine and then it's off.  Boom.

This is, obviously, a problem.

I'm going to have to dig up information to see if it's still under warranty.  I hope it is, because I want it fixed.  That said, I never like being without my main computer for any length of time.  I have secondaries (at least one of which actually works in a consistent and repeatable manner), and I'm grateful for that, but I still prefer to work on the primary.

There are a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest is the simple fact that all my stuff is here.

How will this affect posting?  Not a clue.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Stuff I'd like for Christmas

On, I think, Monday I noticed that another pair of jeans had developed I-don't-have-thigh-gap holes.  This brings my total "Jeans that fit and lack embarrassing holes" count down to one.  This can be somewhat augmented by the category of "Jeans that don't exactly fit, but can be worn, and are lacking in holes."

So, since I regularly beg for money (which sometimes even works), I was thinking of what I might beg for money for, with winter coming on and such.  And then a list started to form in my head.

So, for Christmas, I would like:
  • Jeans
  • A new winter coat
  • A rain coat
  • Gloves that don't suck
  • A hat (mostly so my ears and forehead don't freeze off)
  • Shoes that are waterproof
  • Boots, maybe.  I don't know, though.  That might be a reckless spending splurging kind of thing to spend money on.  I mean you can shovel snow for six hours in sneakers if you have to.  (Not that I have sneakers at the moment.)
  • Non-jean legwear
And, you know, that might be about it.  I mean I did think of random other things I could add to be silly:
  • Food for the donkey.  "What donkey?" you ask.
  • A donkey.
Original thought was pony.  The thing is, I don't think of ponies in terms of their usefulness.  It's probably unfair, but if I think of a working animal then what I need is a pack animal and when I think "pack animal" I think "donkey."

If I am to imagine myself loading up my groceries onto the back of a quadruped so I don't have to suffer under their weight for the duration of the walk home, I picture said quadruped as donkey, not a pony.

So, for the moment, that seems to be my list.  If you feel like sending enough money to buy anything on that list to me, the donate button is always open.  And donating even lets you leave a message so you can say, "This is totally for thing X, not thing Y," if you so desire.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December 2013

I like indices.  I like being able to find things.  The Month Indexes are probably the most useless of the indices I make here, but it was never my intention to stop them.  They're almost, but not quite, two years out of date.  So this is my plan to catch up:
On the first day of each month I'll post the index for two years ago if it hasn't been made yet.  On the 16th day I'll post the index for one year ago.

This is the first index being posted on that plan, we'll see how long before I screw up the plan.

As a reminder, the point of these, in addition to just recapping past work, is to create a way to navigate quicker than going through the blog's old posts manually, but more informative than just looking at the post titles on the "Blog Archive" at the side of the page.

Movies and Games
Long Live the Queen - What I liked about the game.  This is important because I liked the game overall, I'm just not terribly good at talking about why I like things in any kind of detail.  Bad parts are easier to pinpoint.
Long Live The Queen: Unfortunate Implications (Spoilers) - Spoilers, note the spoilers notice.  This is entirely about the very end of the game.  Anyway, civil rights or peace and prosperity.  You can't have both.  Apparently.

General Stories/Ideas for Stories:
American Tricksters - Story Idea - It's kind of hard to explain quickly, that's why the post exists.  Short version: American culture is dominated by Christianity and Christianity has no trickster gods.  Trickster gods themselves stuck to the people who actually believe in them so most of America was left with a dearth of trickster gods.  To fix this the associated trickster gods of the planet have chosen humans to elevate to minor godhood to be tricksters for the non-(trickster)-believers.

And the candidates all live in the same house.  Some scenes with token white guy are included.  Loki is his mentor, which is, I think, what got the whole idea started.

Snarky Twilight:
Snarky Twilight: The Start of Chapter 15 (Or, that time Edward stepped into a bear trap) - Snarky Bella would not let Edward stay the night and she takes precautions when she knows superhuman home invaders might be coming to her room.
Snarky Twilight: Creativity, Trust, and ... um... stuff - Edward does his traditional insultingness, impugns Bella's creativity, claims Charlie sabotaged her truck, and is left wondering how Bella keeps convincing people to defy the narrative.

If the Heroes did their Jobs (Narnia):
The Dinner Party - Caspian and Lucy discuss the oddness of having a dinner party before dealing with the evil magician and the disturbing implications it might have.

Me Stuff:
Hope springs in a sort of lasting way that we're told is eternal but really who can say? - Donations saved me from total financial collapse.  Do you readers even realize how often you've saved me?  I don't think I can say often enough how grateful I am.

Insomnia - Just letting everyone know I had it.

Salvage - It's still in my garage.  You kind of have to read the post to understand.  It's a story--a true story--the kind of story that is only understood in the telling.  Later I saw another bike under the same bridge.  I wisely left it there.

I have no heating oil - Just another day in the exciting life of me.
A quick pointer when it comes to dealing with known liars - Extrapolating general life advice from dealing with the evil heating oil company.
And an update - The evil heating oil company dumps me in a (possibly fake) angry huff that leaves me with a profound sense of 'whut?'
Present conditions (pictures) - A look at the conditions at the time, so look at the quantity of snow and remember that this is when the evil heating oil company decided to refuse to deliver the oil for which they had already accepted payment, and hung up the phone on me.  Also an update on the object from "Salvage".
I have heat! - A more empty post you will not find.  It's just letting people know the heating oil debacle ended.

Shoveling (Image post) - Images to illustrate what winter is like here.  Text version: There was a storm and I had to shovel for seven days to deal with it.


The world at large stuff:
On poverty, internet, and cell phones - I don't really remember why I wrote this.  I know the screed it was in response to, but not why I felt the need to respond.  The point is simple, if made at length, if you don't know about what's going on with people in poverty, for the love of fuck don't try to use them as a tool to argue your points.

Music related to the time of year in a place dominated by Christians - Ten songs.  Christians and the Pagans will crawl into your head and refuse to leave, so one might wish to start with song two.  Some of the songs are heartwarming, some are hilarious, some are just nice.

Blog stuff:
Fundraising and whatnot - Same thing that I've thought about often, is there a way to make money off the blog that isn't just begging for money.  It's not that begging doesn't work (again, I have been saved from catastrophe by reader donations so many times) it's just that I'd rather have some other way.
More talk of fundraising - Oh good god, I didn't even remember that I was originally planning to graduate last semester before deciding that for mental health and assorted other reasons it would be good to stick around and retake certain classes I failed when in deep depression.  That's not the topic though.  The topic is that I was still trying to work out something I could do to make money off the blog beyond asking for donations.

-

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monthly Donation Reminder

Hi, I have a donate button, just reminding you of that in case you've recently come into a fortune and want to use it to help me get through the winter or whatnot.

I've been sick today so no particularly interesting things will go on in this post, but I will keep up with my usual talking about this history of months posts.

December is a number month (Decem = 10) and as such it's pretty boring.

The original Roman calendar was a 10 month year with a bunch of monthless days in the dead of winter.  December was the 10th month of that year, hence the name.  December had 30 days.

When January and February were added to the front of the calendar the changes involved in that reduced the days in December to 29.

In 46 BC Julius Caesar reformed the calendar again.  With the exception of years divisible by 100 but not 400, it is the same calendar we use today.

Thus December grew to 31 days.

The Julian calendar added days to the ends of the month (after the ides) so the ides of December are calculated as if it were still a 29 day month (and thus fall on the 13th.)

Thus today, though within December, is notated as the 18 days before the Kalend of January (a.d. XVIII Kal. Jan.)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bill Towner: Electrician and Adventurer

 House II: The Second Story is not a good movie.  At all.

Even remembering that it wasn't a good movie it was still less of a good movie than I remembered it being.

And yet, it's built on a kernel of fun that shines through the total lack of living up to it.

Probably the absolute best part, even beating the main characters adopting a pterodactyl, is Bill Towner, Electrician and Adventurer.

The house in question isn't terribly interested in things like space, time, and logical continuity.  As such, it has some electrical problems.

Before main-character's fiance leaves him because it's-not-what-it looks-like, she called an electrician.  Bill Towner.

Main character, Jesse, has no time for an electrician because an object of immense magical power has been stolen and thus plot.  Bill is totally oblivious to Jesse wanting him gone and merely assures Jesse that once he's left alone with the problem he'll be totally out of Jesse's way.

He's bumbling, odd, and seems like an annoyance added to the movie to pad out its lack of plot.

Fast forward a bit.  Jesse and his best friend have armed themselves with swords and are trying to find out where whoever stole the Mcguffin went.  When Bill tries to get their attention the startled sidekick slashes blindly with the sword and, if Bill hadn't quickly blocked it with his hammer, bill would have been severely injured or even killed.

Bill is completely unfazed by the sword that was swung at him, says that he thinks he's found the problem and insists, even after Jesse tries to convince Bill to leave and come back the next day, that they take a look.

They go in and find a giant hole Bill has made in the wall.
"Well, there it is.  Looks like you got some kind of alternate universe in there or somethin'," Bill explains.
Oh, and Bill is played by Cliff from Cheers.

Main character and sidekick head in, over his objections:
"Uh, I don't know you guys, look: that's an alternate dimension in there or somethin' and uh..."

and when it's clear they're going anyway Bill follows:
"Well, hold on a second will you? I've been through this kind of thing before." *goes to his box of tools* "Don't touch anything till I get there." *pulls out a sword he keeps hidden in the box under a false bottom* "Looks like you're gonna need the help of a professional."
Bill gives Jesse a flashlight and, without comment, sets up a spool of thread so that they'll be able to follow it back out again.

When they reach the sword fight at the end of the labyrinth Bill is the only one who is even moderately competent.  The others are useless, he's awesome.  And he makes good use of an ordinary hammer as a parrying weapon in the hand that isn't holding the sword.

Bill holds off the bad guys, his string is the only way the good guys are able to find their way back.  (This isn't because they knew they could rely on it, by the way, they didn't realize it was there.)  His parting comment is:
"Don't worry about me. I gotta get home; it's my kid's little league night."
And, if you've ever seen a character like Bill before (think Ardeth from the movie The Mummy) you know that when the main characters do make it back out Bill is already there waiting for them.  He was starting to get a little worried about them, in fact.

He's just finishing packing up his tools when they come out, he gives Jesse his card (Bill Towner Electrician and Adventurer) in case Jesse ever needs his help again, and then walks right out of the movie.

Unfortunately he mars his otherwise wonderful character by doing the annoying, "You don't understand English so I'm going to speak English to you loudly and slowly as if that will somehow make you understand," thing.

He does it to the love interest who probably hits sexism bingo.  She's exotic, a prize to be won, a damsel in distress, an assumed-virgin, and she never speaks a single word.  And that's just for a start.  I said it wasn't a good movie.

But back to Bill.  The problems with the movie could fill volumes --the sexism and racism are just the start-- and I don't want to fill volumes, I want to talk about the character that is Bill.

-

We don't actually know if he's a good electrician or not; we know he's not a smooth electrician, but we don't really get a sense of whether or not, at the end of the day, he fixes the problems well.

Based on his talent with sword fighting we can surmise that part of the reason that he's less than ideal at his first profession (his card says "Electrician" first and has pictures of light bulbs on it) is that he spends a lot more time practicing his second one (Adventurer.)

He has a family.  We don't know anything about it beyond the fact that he's damn well going to make it to his kid's little league night, but he's got a kid and it's important to him to be there for said kid and bad guys with swords in another dimension he found in a hole in a wall when trying to find the source of electrical problems are not going to stop him from attending his kid's little league.

Which brings me to what seems to be the heart of Bill's character:

He's someone who has strange adventures that require keeping a sword in his toolbox, but he's also leading a normal life.  He seems to have achieved balance.  Being an electrician is apparently paying the bills, he's able to be their for his kid, and the fact that impossible other worldly events work their way into his life doesn't perturb him in the least.

Bill is totally lacking in any kind of angst.

His life, for whatever reason, includes finding other worlds hidden inside walls and needing to sword fight, and he just rolls with it and makes it work.

-

I think we need more characters like Bill and we them to be more central.  The movie would have been much better if it were about the electrician who needs to carry a (hidden) sword.  Then again the movie would have been much better if [any number of things.]

We have stories where ordinary people have extraordinary adventures and the adventures are set apart from their lives*, we have stories about people who have incredible difficulty living normal lives while facing extraordinary things, but we don't really have stories of people who are able to integrate the extraordinary (there's an entire alternate universe inside your wall) with the ordinary (I need to get back in time for little league) without angsting over it.

Which seems even more odd when you consider that wish fulfillment (I can do ALL THE THINGS) is a big part of a lot of the kinds of fiction where such characters could show up.

-

Do note that there is absolutely nothing about Bill's character that requires he be male.  When I say we need more characters like him I'm talking about non-male ones as well.

-

* We go to Narnia.  We come back.  Never shall our earth lives and Narnian lives intersect.  (Except if it allows us to be mean to Susan.)

Skewed Slightly to the Left: That sinking Feeling

[Originally posted at Slacktivist.  Fred Clark has started re-posting old Left Behind posts, and so this is back at the very beginning.  Book one, chapter one.]

People can't go missing on a plane. They can't. You can't just open the door and walk out, even if you could people would notice the sudden change in air pressure and the violent vortices caused by the air outside the plane moving up to a thousand miles per hour faster, relatively speaking, than the air in side the plane.
One person might somehow get lost between the bathroom and their seat, but this many people? It was impossible.
Hattie had to be wrong. There was no way. It just wasn't possible.
If anyone else were saying it he'd think they were setting him up. They'd heard him complain one to many times about Irene's-- no. He couldn't think about that. It couldn't be that.
Regardless, Hattie wouldn't play a trick like that. If it were a trick then she'd need to have been tricked too, and who could fool her about something like this? She knew how many people were on board at takeoff and she knew what seats they were in. And what seats they weren't in. If people had simply moved to the wrong seats she'd never mistake that for people being missing, and there wasn't standing room for people to hide.
It didn't make sense.
He had to see for himself what was going on.
Please let it be a prank.
Please let there be some hidden camera somewhere and have all of this be a sick, disgusting joke.
He prayed, please God-- and then he decided that it was best to leave God out of it. Let God be nowhere near this one. Let God be elsewhere. Please, please let this not be the work of God.
He walked toward the passenger cabins so he could see for himself. Maybe if he talked to the people who said that members of their parties were missing the truth would come out.
There were still a lot of people who wouldn't think twice about lying to a flight attendant that would never lie to a pilot.
When he entered the first class cabin, and saw the empty clothes in a seat, he became weak. He stumbled back to the bulkhead and tried to support himself with it, but his body was too heavy, and his limbs to weak. He sank to the floor.
He barely noticed as Hattie ran to his side. He didn't even hear the first thing she said.
She shouted, "Ray!" and he noticed, but didn't respond beyond turning his head to look at her. "What's wrong?"
"She was right," he mumbled.
It was impossible. It couldn't be. There was no way. And yet it was. Irene had been right.
That meant that Ray, Hattie, Chris, and everyone still aboard the plane were all damned. Perhaps even literally. Was there even any hope left? Was their any point in landing rather than letting the plane fall from the sky?
Irene was right.
At any other time he would care that his behavior had made the passenger's mood worse. Uneasy before he arrived, they were now on the verge of full blown panic.
You never showed that you were anything less than completely confident in front of the passengers. Never. No matter how bad things really were, they had to think that you were in control. If the pilot was afraid then they'd be afraid. You couldn't let anything, any tiny bit of doubt, ever show.
He'd let himself cross several lines by allowing emotion to overcome him here instead of making it back out of sight before it hit.
It didn't matter.
Irene was right. Irene was right, and that meant that missing people were the least of their worries. Those were the lucky ones. Those were the ones to be envied.
The world as he knew it--as everyone knew it--was over and the worst was yet to come. Irene had been right all along. Why hadn't he listened?

-

Friday, December 12, 2014

Crows Without End (Not an image post, but image heavy)

Crows spend the day in South Portland and the night in Portland.

Which crows?

ALL OF THEM.

-

I've seen it before.  Not in a long time.  It's not announced.  It isn't advertised.  If you aren't at the origin or the destination you might miss it if you don't look up.

It happens twice a day.

It needs to.  Logically it must.

And yet... no one sees its beginning.  No one sees its end.

If you should cross its path you will never see it end, no matter how long you wait.  Just when you think it must be over it renews, stronger than ever.  Always.  It never, ever, stops.

And yet it must stop if it happens twice a day.

But they always keep flying.

That little paradox, the fact that it must end, yet never does, isn't the part that stands out.

Crows don't flock.

That's what stands out as they appear by the hundreds.  That's what stands out as they cross the sky.  If you're where they land, as I was today, you hear some caws as they land in a place with fewer branches than crows.  They fill one tree, then the next, then the next.  And they never stop coming.  The flow never slows down.


I think this is the first tree they populate.  It also happens to be a pretty low density for them.
It is in fact quite dark, by the way, but the camera compensates.
Unfortunately that also makes it blurry because I am not a tripod.
It sputters sometimes.  Occasionally you think it might have stopped, only for it to pick up again, strong as ever.  They just keep coming, and coming.  No crow ever flies the other way, none leave.  They all come to the same place.  They only take up multiple trees because one tree could never hold them all.

No crow is ever counted twice, because none circle back.

Some do circle, looking for space to land, but they're small circles.  Nothing that could possibly make you mistake them for one just arriving.

Amidst the building they seem to cover the dome of the sky.  Black wings against the dying twilight of firmament.


The problem with photographing the crows in flight is that if you zoom out enough to see even a fraction of them
you've zoomed out too far to see that they're crows.
And they keep flying.

They keep arriving.

A silent procession across the sky.

But crows don't flock.

On some level this is understood.  They don't flock.  The come in small, manageable, easy to count groups.


It's just hard to organize an entire murder.

One crow bad.  Two crows good.  My mother's aunt knew this.  Knew it so well that whenever she saw one crow she needed to look around to find a second.

I wonder if this is because of the same folklore the movie The Crow draws on.  If a crow brings your soul to the afterlife, then a solo crow might be there for your soul.  But if there are two of you, wouldn't that mean you're both going to die.  Surely if that were it then you'd divide by the number of people.

If there are exactly as many crows as there are people in the car then that would bode worse than if there were just one.  Right?

So that's probably not it.  But crows being small in number is something that's there.  No one hears "six crows [whatever]" and responds, "When the fuck have you seen just six crows?  Crows in single digits?  Preposterous!"

No.  Crows in single digits? Folklore!

Crows in single digits: Superstition.

Crows in single digits: Normal.

Crows in single digits: Augry and ὀρνιθόπαις.  Seriously:
One crow sorrow
Two crows joy
Three crows a letter
Four crows a boy
Five crows silver
Six crows gold
Seven crows a story
never to be told

But what about seven hundred?  What of so many you can't count or hope to count?  What of crows without end?

It's absurd.  Crows don't flock.

When was the last time you used the phrase "murder of crows"?

You don't say that.  Well, maybe you.  I don't know.  But people don't say that in general.  When someone says, "I witnessed a murder," you [impersonal you] don't say, "Oh, that's nice.  I saw a gaggle the other day."

This conversation:
Person One: I just saw a murder.
Person Two: Was it a nice one?
Person One: Nice? It was gruesome
Person Two: I think corvī can be annoying too, but don't you think that's a bit extreme?
Person One: No. I saw a person be killed.
Person Two: Ohhh. That kind of murder.
has happened all of never.  And yet what is a person more likely to see, someone being killed or a crow?  If crows flocked then murder would mean "group of crows" first and "unlawful killing of one human being by another human being" second because people would use "group of crows" in every day speech a lot more than the other type of murder.

But they don't flock.  It only takes seven crows before you get to secrets that are never spoken of.  We don't even have a concept to encompass the idea of eight crows, much less crows beyond counting.

Crows don't flock; grackles flock

When you see them you think your eyes are playing tricks on you and they're grackles.  Grackles and crows aren't closely related, they share an order but not a family or genus, but there is a visual similarity.

If you're near the destination then you see a lot of them that have landed (wings and tail in reduces the visual difference between birds) and you tend to get a much better look at those ones, stationary as they are, than the unending stream of flying ones.

But you don't think they might be grackles because the look like grackles.  They don't look like grackles.  They look like crows.  They're too big and too wide to be grackles (if you've never seen a grackle, imagine a crow that was a bit shorter and a lot thinner, and was iridescent all over.)

You think they might be grackles because there are too fucking many of them to be crows so your mind is looking for any possibility to explain that.

But eventually you know that they're not.  For one thing, so many of them are in flight.  Even if they are moving there's just so much of it that it's hard not to see the difference in shape.

But it might be proportion that hammers home that, yes, they really are crows.  Grackles look similar to crows, at first glance, but a longer view lets you tell them apart.

Or it might be when one of them opens its mouth and calls out with a voice that was made raw and ragged through smoke inhalation when crow brought fire from the sky.

That sound rings clear.  Always clear.  Sometimes imitated, but never copied.

Crow earned that call by bring fire so that life could survive the first winter.  So that it would be the first winter rather than the winter that lasted forever without ever abating.

I've tried, sometimes, to see the end.  To see the last crows landing and the point at which no more come.

I'm not sure why, maybe it's to see how many there really are when all is said and done.

But they never stop.  The embers of sunset die away, darkness takes the skies, and still they come.

I need warmth.  I need crow's fire.  I need to get back to hearth and home.  I need my furnace.  I need what crow sacrificed for.  But the crows stay outside.  Separate from the gift they gave.

Yesterday was a fairly miserable day.  Getting a cavity drilled is never fun and moreover I was outside walking for probably six hours.  (I didn't just have a dentist appointment.)  It would have been eight hours but my psychologist gave me a ride home.  I had to wait an hour and a half, but it was still quicker than walking.  The rain had left me soaked, shuddering and shivering with cold.

Six hours in the rain, a little time to warm up and dry out after the first four hours, and I was pretty well worn down.

The crows have never been inside in their lives.

They fly on undaunted.

They keep coming.

Elsa's power flurries from the air to the ground in frozen fractals (way better than yesterday's rain); the crows are not afraid.


The cold never bothered her anyway.
You notice them more in the winter, not just because there are more of them.  They stand out.  Black feathers on white snow.  They don't even try to hide.  Nothing really hunts them.  They rule undisputed.

And why shouldn't they?  They're the ones who drove back winter.  They melted the first snow.  They have nothing to fear.  Their scorched black feathers and smoke choked voice stand as a testament to the fact that snow cannot stand against them.

They don't kill the snow, the snow spirits have the right to live as well, but neither do they fear it.

And they keep on flying.  More keep arriving.

They pay no attention the the houses, they prefer the trees.

This place is their home, their birthright.  It's in their bones.  Their light-weight tiny bones.

They've lived here for longer than my people knew this place existed.

They have a history.  Not just fire.

Their entire family has a history.

Their cousin Raven advised Noah on the ark, showed Utnapishtim, on his ark, that the waters were receding-- hell, cousin Raven made his own damned raft for the flood too.  Then again, cousin Raven created the world.  Cousin Raven did a lot.

Cousin Raven's descendants,  Huginn and Muninn, advise Odin to this day.

One wonders how crows view Odin.  Huginn and Muninn must have told them about Odin, but how do they view that great god?  Bird brains are not human.  They don't think as we think.  Is it possible they view the god as ... silly?

Odin gave up an eye, a huge sacrifice, but think what they gave up.  They gave up their fingers.  They gave up their voice, the best singing voice in the world.  They gave up their looks, the greatest beauty in the world.  To them, perhaps, an eye is a small sacrifice.

And what was gained in return?  Odin gained wisdom, but he still needs to climb upon his nephew's back to fly, when crows gave up their fingers they may have lost the title of dinosaur, but they gained the power of flight.  They need no Sleipnir.  They rise above, the soar, no wisdom needed.

Not that they lack wisdom.  They're crafty and smart.  But they're not, "I gave up an eye for wisdom," wise.  They've kept both eyes.  (Mostly.  It's not like there's never a one eyed crow, and when you see them you know that the eye wasn't given up for free.)


They lost their voice and their beauty to save the world by bringing fire.


Ok, so technically those are lyrics from Loki's Song.
For a very nice, color, rendition of crow bringing fire, click here.
Prometheus brought fire to mortals.  It's the basis for all of our technes.  Every civilization that claims influence from Greece owes Prometheus a debt.  Even now we still haven't managed to find a way to run our civilization without fire.

And yet ... Prometheus brought fire to Greek mortals.  Greek mortals didn't exactly need fire that badly.  When Demeter mourned the loss of her daughter and couldn't be bothered to maintain the world it wasn't winter that threatened to end all life.  That was a Roman alteration of the tale because they had been to northern Europe and it was fucking cold there.

No, winter was the stormy rainy season in Greece.  Demeter's lack of upkeep threatened to kill all life via the dry warm season.  Drought was what would destroy them.  The rains of winter were welcome.

That's who Prometheus gave fire to.

Crow brought fire to New Jersey:


All I did was search Google for New Jersey winter.
I think crow wins.

Of course, I live north of there, but I don't know the local tales of crows.  I only know of crow bringing fire because Fred Clark has linked to the story in the past.

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And through it all they keep on coming.

When you're away from buildings you get a different view of the procession of crows.  You can't see them landing, and seldom hear a sound, but you have a better understanding of what is going on.

Crows really, truly, do not flock.  Ever seen a murmuration?  The amazing patterns that appear from random motions and remind you of a school of fish?  Crows don't do that.  Ever have geese fly over your head, honking like they do, in a formation (as happened to me during the second two hour period of walking in the cold soaking rain yesterday)?  Crows don't do that.

They don't have any kind of group cohesion.  They just all move in about the same direction at about the same speed.

They pay no heed to the other crows --except, presumably, to make sure they don't fly into them-- and each one seems entirely indistinguishable from a crow flying individually.  Seagulls are more clearly part of a group, and they're usually just trying to get refuse before the other seagulls.

But, in spite of their stubborn refusal to act like part of a group even when they are part of a group, they're part of a group.  One, long, procession across the sky.  Amid the houses near the trees where they land, or any buildings really, it's impossible to see the shape of the group.  It seems to take up the whole of the sky.

Without obstructions it's clear that it's nowhere near as wide as the sky, but it does go on forever.  Your best view is generally from a bridge.  No buildings, no trees, nothing in your way.  They go from horizon to horizon.

And, as mentioned repeatedly, they never stop.

No one sees the beginning, or the end.  Only sometimes is someone graced with a view of some of the middle.  No matter how long you watch, it does not end.

It makes one think of a problem in some textbook.  If the migration between the two cities is without end, how can it happen twice a day?  But try to put it into the terms of the textbook problems one is used to and the crows will laugh at you.

Well, they'll caw.  But it will be a laughing kind of caw.

Assume a frictionless environment -- nope, they're going to fly, that means air resistance; break out the differential equations.

Given a perfectly spherical crow... have you seen their wings?  Do you think, maybe, if you measure a crow's wing the length of the outline will increase with any given increase in precision?


Note how the length of the edge gets longer with additional iterations.
Crows are clearly on a level beyond our own.

Sure, they act like they're just reasonably intelligent birds that feed on carrion and such, but they're just sitting there, in their tree-- well, trees since they don't all fit in one (there's a sleeping-in-one-place group in Oklahoma that's estimated to number 2 million), being above us.  Figuratively.  Literally too, but that goes without saying.

This might be a good time to point out that I want to, somehow, make "Figuratively" an intensifier on the level of "Literally."  Why?  Because.  That's why.

You can see where this would work:
He stabbed me in the back.That's not so bad, I mean in this business-Figuratively!Damn.

Anyway, they might occasionally get West Nile and have their population drop by 47% or fall out of their nests by the wood-shop, but that's just to keep us guessing, and also to poignantly write themselves into our stories.


I could not get a good shot of Brooks looking Jake in the eyes.
He does, but the scene is pretty dark, so it's not a good shot.
Thus, Brooks + Jake and then Andy looking Brooks int he eyes.
And remember, only one of the three characters above successfully managed to not have his intended ending filmed thus changing his story from tragedy to hopeful.  Here's a hint: it wasn't either of the humans.

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And they keep coming.  For longer than you watch, no matter how long you watch.

It's cold, but not as bad as the day before when there was rain instead of snow.  As I walk I think of crows and gods.

I think of seasons too.  I would have said the day before that I hate the winter rains, but it isn't winter yet.  Late autumn.  

Winter is coming.  Less than ten days.

I decide to take a picture of the snow, the crows opposite, the one whose white creation left the crow scorched black.

I know that the camera has a very low battery, I try to photograph the snow without flash, hoping to catch it in a street light.



No good.  It totally fails to get how much snow is coming down.  I switch to flash.  It's too much for the remaining charge and the effort convinces the camera that it's time to shut down and wait to be plugged in.

Crows laugh at needing to plug in to recharge.  They recharge by eating road kill and then taking a nap.  Though, honestly, have you ever seen a sleeping crow?  They probably feign such mortal frailty in places where it's expected (captivity, monitored nests, the like) but that's likely for our benefit.  How low would we feel in comparison if we knew that in addition to soaring above our heads they never grew weary?

But one assumes that they must dream.  Would they really leave the realm of dreams outside their domain?  What if winter invaded there and no one had brought fire to hold it back?  They must venture into dreams.  Without them, we'd all be in Jotunheim in our sleep.

And so we circle back to winter.  Winter is coming.

Proof that it will end is already here.  Those who stop the snow from taking over, who safeguard life, are already standing watch.

Their ancestors, the dinosaurs, were merely lukewarm blooded.  They have fire in their veins.  And why not?  Crow did bring it, after all.

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I was supposed to have a short, non-[stream of consciousness vaguely edited together] bit at the end.  It got away from me.  Thus:

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This was mainly composed when walking home yesterday, (every instance of "today" and "yesterday" above is thus wrong) though I'm sure I thought of much more than I wrote.  I kind of figured that people would prefer things going on in my head regarding crows and snow more than, say, "Yesterday I was cold and wet.  It sucked.  I wish I could afford cold weather clothing, especially of the waterproof sort."

Crows roost here in winter.  Of course, crows live here all year round, but it's the winter roosting that I've always noticed.  Black birds on white snow are kind of hard to miss.

The way they gather here is easy to miss though.  Apparently where they like to hang out in South Portland during the day is out of the way and not frequented.  (Other people have seen them hanging out at the place they like, I have not.)  During the night it's dark.  So you generally only see the giant roosting group if you catch them flying from Portland to South Portland during the day, or flying back at night.  They do it mostly in silence so even if they pass directly overhead you might not notice.

So this isn't one of the places where you really notice, "Good fucking god, we're covered in crows," and thus when you do see the procession it's different.

My guess as to why the procession lasts so damn long is that they really don't seem to be flocking birds by nature.  So when they do flock they tend to do it in a very non-flockly way.  Based on how they arrive and that they seem to generally go at about a uniform speed they cannot possibly take off in groups.  They have to be doing it randomly with any groups a result of statistical grouping rather than intent.

The way that they move when they do find themselves in groups is entirely unlike birds accustomed to moving in groups.  They don't draft and they do not get close to each other.  Their movement implies that they don't know how to get close to each other as they exhibit none of the movement patterns that allow birds who fly close to keep from bumping in to each other.

Watching a murder of crows seems, and I don't know if this is true (hence "guess" above), to be watching a group of birds, none of whom know how to act in a flock, trying to be a flock.  And generally doing it in New England, "If I keep my eyes front and don't make noise maybe everyone will leave me alone," style.  (I know that many other places have the same style, I don't know which places they are.)

Regardless, now that I do know the story of rainbow crow, and the procession left me thinking about crows as I walked home in the snow, the life-long thoughts of "Crows really stand out in winter" sort of became, "Crows stand in defiance of winter."

Also the bone structure of bird wings (no fingers) what was lost to get there (velociraptor: I have to give you what if I want to fly?!), how that compares to losing an eye, flood myths, the possibility of a crow or raven standing on the branch of an ash tree above Líf and Lífþrasir post-Ragnarok, and so forth.

Trying to sort it into something vaguely coherent (which involved some cutting, some forgetting, and a fair degree of reorganization) produced this post.  Welcome to my brain.