Friday, March 1, 2013

Random things

There are actual Satanists.  I did not know that.  Now I do.  I'm interested in learning more about their beliefs but I don't have time at the moment.  In fact for almost everything it seems to be a running theme that I don't have time at the moment.

I completely forgot to talk to my psychologist about getting registered in the school as being disabled.  University was the first place where you had to get that... distinction?  Label?  Not sure.  That thing for yourself.  Every school before that just knew.  Presumably at some point before my memory kicked in in full force someone somewhere had to make a determination, but after that they just passed it on up the line.  So for as far back as I can remember in elementary school they knew, the elementary school passed on the information to the middle school, the middle school passed it on to the high school when the time came.

This hasn't been a problem because I, being one of the most boring people in existence, have had a truly small number of teachers given how long I've been in university.  Thus I have tended to work with people who know me and thus knew the problems I face.  It was pointed out that teachers new to me have no idea what the fuck is going on in my head, and if I made it official they would and that could possibly lead to good things.  Sort of.  More that it could lead to the possibility that good things deferred might be able to count as good things not-late, or whatever.  Learning disabilities, mental disabilities, whatever disabilities, or no: you still have to get the work done at some point.

So another two weeks before we try with that thing.  I could look into it on my own, but I could do a lot of things.  Provided that "could" here refers to physical capability rather than mental, which seldom line up.

I have at long last sent Social Security the thing to send Albany to get a copy of my birth certificate because the original wasn't good enough for reasons that no one other than the one person, who happens to be an asshole, handling my case knows.  Everyone else just responds with shock, "You brought the original into the building and showed it to the person and that wasn't enough?"  National, local, doesn't matter, everyone else in the Social Security Administration is as bewildered by this as I am.

All that was required was that I walk across the street to my credit union when it was open and get one thing photocopied and another notarized.  That, to me, is something that takes near herculean amounts of effort. And I am far from Hercules.  Or Herakles, depending on whether you take it from the Latin or straight from the Greek.

My two major problems are these:
1) Initiating an activity on my own.
2) Doing work while unsupervised.

I have lots of other problems, but those are the two big ones.  I could only flip burgers, as just one example, if the company hired someone to watch me do it (even then it would take me a while to get started).  Which they wouldn't do because they could just have that person flip burgers and cut the burger flipping staff in half.

Once the Social Security office discovered this they set me on various tasks all of which required initiating activity on my own and doing it to the end while unsupervised.  And they wonder why it took me months to get done.  If I could do these things I wouldn't be applying for fucking disability, thank you very much.

Elsewhere, but on this blog, I compared it to saying to someone in a wheelchair, "Getting aid is easy, all you have to do is go up those stairs and ask for it.  No.  There isn't an elevator.  Why do you ask?"  I leave it to people in wheelchairs to determine if the comparison is fair.  I think it is if you're considering a standard "Legs don't work but arms do so an unpowered wheelchair can be used for locomotion," wheelchair and wheelchair occupant.  Arm power alone can get you up stairs, but it'll take a lot longer than someone walking and it'll be a serious accomplishment when you reach the top.

Given my mental problems the tasks given me seem like that kind of thing.  Hopefully, hopefully hopefully hopefully, this was the last one.  Hopefully it's in their hands now.  Hopefully I don't need to do any more of these, "It would be easy if you weren't disabled but this seems like it was specifically designed to be really damn hard for people with your disability."  Hopefully.

And no, I'm actually not filled with hope.  But there is a sense of relief that at least I got that part done.

Before that, seemingly out of nowhere came things for the Social Security of Maine.  So not the local Portland office, but the main office of the state in Augusta.  I couldn't figure out why they mysteriously appeared, but I did my best to fill out the forms and send them in and follow the instructions and whatnot.  These things asked me about my disability (though, strangely, never asked what the disability was.)  I knew it couldn't have anything to do with the SSI I was applying for because the application with them was being held up until they could determine my birth date for absolutely positively sure.  Every other government agency in the country (local, state, and federal) knows my birth date.  Social Security fucked it up.  Hell, I think the nation of Italy knows my birth date.

Having had time to reflect and reread and think and whatnot I think I know what happened.  When I applied for food aid I also applied for medical aid.  Now this is through HHS so I don't know why Social Security is involved and honestly I don't give a damn, but it would appear that this time (no idea why not last time) when they sent me a thing to renew my food aid they also assumed that I'd be reapplying to get the medical aid I was denied (very short version: I was denied on the basis of not having enough information, they didn't have enough information because they didn't contact any of the people I told them to contact.  When the opportunity came to appeal I simply didn't have the spoons.)

So that's all sent out and maybe I can get my medications paid for instead of a combination of having family members go broke buying them out of the kindness of their hearts and using student loan money.  (It's a living expense; it counts.  I checked before I got the loan.)

But, food aid and medical aid both apparently require me to talk to someone on the phone.  I got a very nice letter saying call this person on Monday through Friday between these hours.  After realizing today was a Friday (for some reason I thought it was Saturday) I did call.  Only to find out that the person I was to call would be busy for all but one of those hours.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The very nice letter said "Please call me with the following information" by deadline.  Otherwise benefits may be denied or cancelled or apocalypse or very bad things.

Now, if you're like me you're probably very interested in what the "following information" was.  There was none.  Nothing.  Blank page.  White space.  No ink.  Nothing.  Nicolas Cage in National Treasure couldn't figure out what the following information was because there was nothing there.

So I called the person, with the following lack of information, during the one hour he'd be available today.  Wasn't there.  Left a voicemail.

Now the deadline gives me all of next week so hopefully I'll get in contact to this person, give them the lack of information that they want, and thereby prevent the apocalypse, but that still leaves a lingering question.

Who the fuck says, "Please call me with the following information," and then doesn't have any information follow?  I mean, seriously?  Who?

Other than The Department of Heath and Human Services, I mean.  (That one was HHS not SSA.  So says the letterhead.)

My thing on aid, seems to be rather controversial, but not in the post I just linked to, instead in the thread that eventually inspired me to write the post.

I think part of it is that I'm not entirely against a nanny state and I believe that compartmentalization has benefits* and I have a fairly positive view of human nature.  If people get more aid than they need in one area, I trust that most of them will not sell it on the black market (there is currently a black market for government aid, no reason to assume that there wouldn't be under my proposed system) or spend it on things they neither want nor need just to be able to spend it all.

Likewise I assume that if the government did take care of the necessities (food, housing, clothing, medical care, education, fire, police, so forth) people would still get jobs.  Part of this is that I believe that people want more than just what is necessary.  Long ago there was a meeting of manufacturers and marketers where they realized that improvements had made it so they could no longer survive just selling what people needed, they instead needed to start selling things that people didn't need but did want, and in the absence of want they needed to create that want.  They're all still around.  And as John Oliver says, we cannot be beaten when it comes to consumption**.

If the idea is for everybody to be able to live with necessities, and have enough of a margin of error that they're not on the razor's edge of not living, then that still doesn't mean that the government is giving people everything they want, which means people still have an incentive to get a job, and capitalism can deal with wants rather than needs which is an area it seems much better suited for.

And I also believe that for a lot of people there is a desire to contribute, which means that even if they didn't need to they'd still want some kind of job.

But my idea of compartmentalized, "Here's your card, every month you get this much that can be used for food, this much for housing, this much for clothing, this much for..." which everyone gets got some serious pushback.  Not because it would cost so damn much (which it would, that's the reason that I always mention the fact that I'm in favor of serious tax reform alongside it, new revenue would definitely be needed) but because people, or at least one person, it's kind of fuzzy at the moment, don't like the idea of funds that can only be used for designated thing.


Ok, that was long.  There are various other things.  I tried to go to the credit union to get thing notarized earlier, but they had closed for two days on account of the blizzard.  Before the blizzard I opened the gate that I use to keep the dog in the backyard and the (back half of the) driveway when he goes out.  My hope was that friendly neighbor with plow would plow the snow into the back half of the driveway if he plowed the snow.  First off, he didn't plow the snow (though since then he has helped in plowing out the snowbanks that city plows leave in the front of the driveway) but second and more importantly, the result was that the gate couldn't be closed again.

Since the blizzard every time I think that the snow has gotten low enough that with shoveling (and ice breaking, what stopped me last time was reaching the ice core of the snowbank) I might be able to close the gate... it snows again.  Which means I can't close the gate, which means that there's nothing to keep the dog in the yard and back half of the driveway.  The solution has been to watch him when he goes out and verbally stop him if he starts heading toward the road.

That has worked, though inefficiently and annoyingly, with two exceptions.  Last night and today during the day.  Last night he saw a car and ran out to chase it.  Thankfully the car was parking on the street otherwise god knows if I'd have caught up with him.  I got him back into the house while shouting apologies.

Today was worse.  I think I've noted that my dog's breed is unknown for sure because he's a rescue and they don't come with pedigrees.  If you look up Mountain Cur on Wikipedia you'll see a photo of a dog that looks just like mine and that's what we think he is.

You'll also see that they're bred to bark.  Like almost any dog (or is it "any dog" without the "almost"?) they will fight to protect those they care about, but that's not what they're bred to do.  They're bred to do two things.  One is scare off dangers, which is done by barking at them, the other is participate in bear hunts.

Dogs do not participate in bear hunts by fighting the bear.  That would be a good way to lose a dog in a hurry.  Dogs participate in bear hunts by scaring the bear, and in so doing herding the bear.  (There was an episode with Dragon being called on to do a similar thing to a boar in Jane and the Dragon.  I mostly bring this up because I happen to like Jane and the Dragon.  The TV show, never read the books.)  And how do you scare and thus herd a bear?  By barking at it.  Very loudly.

Attempts to use nurture to overcome nature and get him to bark less have thus far failed.  He barks at strange noises, and considers opening and closing car doors strange, he barks at anyone too far away to smell (For fear they might be Cylons I said to Lonespark, to which she replied, "But aren't we all Cylons now?"  Yes.  Yes, we are.)

The good news is that that's all he does, bark.  The bad news is that that's not much of a comfort when a strange dog runs after you barking his ass off.  I imagine it's rather terrifying.  And as I rushed out of the house after him today, thankfully not barefoot but in flip-flops totally ill suited to the cold and one of them broken enough that a certain amount of concentration should be devoted to making sure it doesn't fall apart (the right one, if it matters) I shouted to the young woman between attempts to call the dog back, "The good news is he doesn't bite.  The bad news is I don't know if he'll ever stop following you."  And I told her that if she stopped moving for a bit I could grab the dog and get him away from her.

She thanked me, which she honestly shouldn't have because it was my fuck up that let a loudly barking dog chase her down and harass her, and said that she's totally not a dog person.  I don't remember the exact words she used, probably not "totally", but something that indicated that this was worse than if it had happened to an average person.  This happened to someone who doesn't necessarily have a dog phobia (though she could for all I know) but at the very least a dog discomfort.

I have no idea how old she was.  She was a student, not a college student.  High school would be my guess based on when she was walking home.  But that's all I have to base my guess on because I really, really suck at telling age.  Someone asked me the other day how old Lonespark's children were (either my mother, my psychologist, or both) and I honestly have no idea.  After spending a day with them.  And previously I've shared a house with them for the night.  I suck at telling age.

I'm like Mike from Stranger in a Strange Land when it comes to telling age.
"Patty," Jill put in, "he really does mean that he can't guess. He hasn't had much chance to
learn to judge ages-you know how short a time he's been on Earth. And besides that, Mike
thinks of things in Martian years and Martian arithmetic. If it's time or figures, I keep track
of it for him."
Except, you know, without the excuse of having spent most of my life on Mars.

So, young woman hopefully not traumatized.  And the same goes for Lonespark's children.  He was able to sniff one, but never the other, and so he never stopped barking and had to be put in his room, which is unfortunately also the bathroom which made things somewhat difficult when the children had to go before leaving.  Also he tends to be afraid of people who are afraid of him, which really doesn't help at all.

(Because he barks as things he's afraid of.)

It would be much better if he were afraid of people who were not afraid of him because, mentally, they'd be much better equipped to weather the nonstop barking.  (On the other hand, it does make sense.  Someone who is afraid is much more likely to do something rash like attack the dog than someone who isn't afraid.)


The die is cast.

I've applied for Greece.  First hurdle: Do they accept me?  Second hurdle: if they accept me I have to make a down payment of $500.  Third hurdle: Then I have to pay the remaining $3,500.  Fourth hurdle: Then I have to pay airfare there and back.

If I can't make the money in time I'm pretty sure I lose that down payment.  Can I make the money in time?  I think so.

I've compared it to a bottle drive.  You can make a lot in one push with a bottle drive, but you can't go out and do the same thing the next day.  I think I can make a $4,000 push even though I don't think I could make enough to support myself.  Because I think that after the push I will have dried up the market so much that there's not another $4,000 left in it.


Speaking of stuff, there was a last little bit of each part of the resin in my old containers.  I decided to use it.  Huge mistake.  The stuff in the unopened new containers appears to be fine.  (Though testing will tell.)  But the stuff in the old containers was visibly off to begin with.  Think of curds separating from whey and you'll have some idea, but worse.  I tried to mix it back together,  I thought I had success.  It took a long damn time but I thought I had success.

Either I was wrong or it was so far gone that even remixed it wouldn't work.  Some of it never solidified, some of it partially solidified.  I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to clean out my molds, which I definitely need to do.


The person who was picking on me, appears to have stopped.  I don't know if the intervention of a teacher played a role.  Teacher made it clear that she'd rather not intervene as we're all adults and should be able to sort things out ourselves but also that things had gotten to toxic to the point that she was considering changing the rules for how we do things, which would definitely be an intervention.

She never did change the rules.

I don't know what happened (or didn't happen) behind the scenes, but from my angle it looks like person has largely stopped being an ass, and the things that remain are so low key that I'm not sure if they're really her being an ass or they're just things that I'm inclined to interpret that way based on past experience of her being an ass.

My hope is that she hasn't just picked a new target to direct her assholicness at but has really stopped being an ass.

It was brought up to me after the whole thing calmed down that the teacher was the wrong person to speak to about it.  (I only spoke to her because someone else brought up the possibility that maybe the student in question was doing it to someone else and since I wouldn't be there for that but maybe the teacher would, I should let the teacher know that this was something to watch out for.)  There are other people and other means and a zero tolerance policy for bullying and whatnot that I apparently could have invoked like fire from the sky.

My ultimate decision on learning this was one of wait and see.  If she keeps behaving herself then I see no benefit to make an official mess of things.  If she reverts to past behavior then I'll go to the proper authorities and see what can be seen.


I'm probably going to make a whole post on it at some point, but the idea I bring up here is one that I think would be awesome and I think would never happen.  The audience would be the overlap between people who like actual classics enough to catch reference to the style of good and bad translations alike and people who like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess.  Not exactly the biggest audience ever.

Also, not yet developed idea, MST3K like silhouettes for each episode of both but instead of a hapless human and two robots, of a panel of classicists who actually know by heart the history/myth/both being butchered in the episode in question.  Or maybe not.


I've noticed that often when I try to type "think" I type "thing" and that the reverse is true as well.  I have no objections to typos (of which there are usually many) being pointed out in the comments, but until/unless that happens and I make a correction, if a sentence with think or thing in it is making no sense, try swapping it out for the other word.


I'm behind in all my classes and I think I just got the lowest grade on a test in years.  Though it was a respectable passing grade I feel like someone I once knew who said, "I got a B," and then had to explain, after receiving congratulations, that that was a bad thing.  Of course the grade I got was probably pretty good considering that I was trying so hard not to forget the signs (I mostly succeeded) that I completely overlooked the fact that deaf culture and history were going to be a not-negligible portion of the test too.


Did I mention that the Greece thing is with Harvard and they asked for a copy of my transcript which shows that last semester ended with three incompletes and a failure?  Yeah, suddenly wondering if getting accepted in the first place might be a bigger question than whether or not I can raise the money.


I like Roman Holiday even though it's the kind of film I normally wouldn't.  Even though I haven't seen all of it.  (Missed the beginning and haven't been able to catch it since.)  No one gets a happy ending, that's generally not the film for me.  But it's also referenced in .hack//Sign so now I get the reference (not that not getting it was a big deal because it's pointed out to be a reference to Roman Holiday and you really have everything you need in the scene) and more than that it's the perfect illustration of why I want to go to Greece.  It's the idea that having that one good day is worth it even if you have to return to your crappy life afterward.  Because you have the one good day, and you have the memories, and you've got stuff and stuff and stuff.
Were I not completely aware of my duty to my family and my country, I would not have come tonight. *pause* Or indeed ever again. 

There were probably other things to throw in here.


* For example it is known that if there is a rent subsidy in an area the minimum rent usually rises to meet that subsidy, so it would seem like a very good idea to have any subsidy for rent cordoned off from other forms of aid otherwise the minimum rent might rise to a level that prevents people from getting enough of everything not-housing.  Thus I see it as valuable to have housing aid be only able to be spent on housing, and non-housing aid only able to be spent on non-housing.

** John Oliver, from Terrifying Times, which I recommend you buy***:
Now, I don't understand economics.  I don't fundamentally get how it works.  I've lived for 30 years on this planet... two elsewhere, and I still don't understand how the system works.  To me, economics is like the Dutch language-- I'm told it makes sense, but I seriously have my doubts.
But I want to understand economics. I feel like I have to.
So I bought this book recently which is designed to explain economics to someone who does not have the capacity to understand it.  And I learnt a key lesson in it, and that is that any nation's economic strength is solely in the hands of its citizens.  In your ability to consume.
Or if you want to be really great, in your ability to buy shit.
That is why America is the greatest economy on earth-- because you people cannot be beaten. 
As a citizen of the world, let me tell you, it is intimidating.  I have been to your malls.  They are cathedrals to bullshit.
I was at a mall in Connecticut and I saw an item in a shop window which stopped me dead in my tracks.
And I mean that.  I was moving, I saw this item and all of a sudden I wasn't moving anymore. 
It was, and I promise you this is true, an inflatable barbecue. 
*Audience laughs a lot* 
You're right.  *beat*  We should take a moment together to let the gravity of that sink in-- an inflatable barbecue. 
It was a full functioning barbecue with inflatable material around the outside of it so that you, like the man on the front of the box, could cook while swimming
Is there any greater example of what it is to live in the freest nation on earth than that?
*** As if ever anyone has bought something on my recommendation.  I can see whether anyone bought something by clicking through my links.  A few people have, or one person has a few times, and there's one universal truth.  What is bought is never, ever, what I actually recommended.  It would seem that someone, or someones, click my links, look at the thing I linked to, say, "I'm not going to buy that," and then found something they were going to buy while still in the same session thus earning me the 68 cents [correction] $1.64 (I should check more frequently because I'm rolling in the money now) [/correction] I have to my Amazon affiliate account.

On the other hand, the fact that my most dedicated readers are not Americans might play a role too.  I have a deal with Amazon, not Amazon Canada or Amazon UK.

And I am somewhat pissed off that I can't post a link to it.  How the hell is the series not out on DVD?  With a total run-time of a little under ten hours it's a series that someone might actually be able to afford to buy unlike Hercules and Xena.


  1. The few Satanists I've met are actually really nice people :-) When you have a religion/philosophy that says you're absolutely free to do whatever you want, no moral guidelines, most people decide that what they really truly want is not to be a jackass. Go figure.

  2. The two Satanists I've met were both overgrown rebellious teenagers, and not terribly impressive. I'm quite willing to accept that there are more interesting ones.

    I can't read your comments on anamardoll's blog because Disqus (which simply doesn't show up at all any more since the Big Improvements last month, in any browser I have available). But you are I trust aware of Rifftrax, run by some of the people who did MST3K, who sell MP3 commentaries and let the users get their own DVDs of the bad films?

  3. Ooookaay, this post is very long so I gave it a preliminary skim-through.

    I don't think if people spent their government food/clothing/housing aid on stuff they didn't really need that would do much harm to the system. Keeping money circulating is good, right? Medical aid might be different, but I think with the right kind of oversight that could be mostly limited to people springing for the REALLY NICE (Customized?) bandages/wheelchairs/etc.

    Yes, there are Satanists, and I knew about the LeVey type and knew a few in school (one who grew up to be an Episcopal priest, lol!), but a few years ago through articles on The Wild Hunt I became aware of a lot of other traditions that include "left-hand paths" where some practitioners prefer to be known as Satanists. They seem like interesting people with interesting ideas, but I haven't look into it much.

    Isaac Bonnewits wrote an article about how Witches shouldn't make common cause with Satanists and it's a mistake to think that the enemy of your enemy (in this case oppressive Christian extremists) is your friend. I remember thinking that was a little off base in the sense that no, they're not your friend, and they may not honor your values, but it's often very valuable to look at them as your allies, or at least as a piece of your strategy.

    1. I think that the problem with having the "you shall not starve" handout simply consisting of money is that some fraction of people will spend it on shiny toys... and then starve. (Whether that's a large enough fraction to be a real concern, I don't know.)

      Also, they have no incentive not to take it if they don't need it - hey, more money is always useful.

    2. And that is why I am a fan of foodstamps, which aren't actually stamps but rather on a card that's no more difficult than a credit card. They can only be used for food. No one starves on account of being distracted by the shiny.

    3. Yeah. The people who thought up & implemented that had a decent grasp of human nature and probably even what it's like to be poor.

      I think we really need a better affirmative action program for getting "People who have the faintest frakking idea what it's like to be poor" elected.

  4. Also I just love reading about myself here. Like I really exist and matter because I've been documented by someone of such writing prowess. It gives me warm, fuzzy, Famous on the Internet feelings.