Saturday, November 26, 2016

Characters and backstory from Schism

[Some description of the characters that appeared in the story Schism]


Most of the team

The superhero team is less thought out so I can get through listing four out of five of them in a paragraph. Paladin is the leader. The Knights Errant and Erratic are brother and sister respectively. Erratic chose which was which. Squire, as her name suggests, prefers support roles.


Page's name suggests she's the lowliest of the bunch, but it's actually playing with words. There's no official second in command, but if there had to be one everyone, except perhaps Page herself, would immediately agree it was Page. She has some confidence issues, but that's pretty much her only particular weakness. (As opposed to general weaknesses like reacting badly to inhaling water or having bullets hit you at high speeds.)

She picked “Page” because it fits with the team theme while also suggesting one of her defining traits: she loves books. She'll use the internet, and every book she owns has a digital backups and at least two non-backup digital copies (one on the teams computer system, the other travels with her in case she needs to look something up in the field), but she loves the feel of a book in her hands and the smell of aged parchment.

She's a scholar in her own right, and she's the “witch” that Tinker told Mishap to kill.

She doesn't use that word to describe herself. She has nothing against self-described witches, but she doesn't feel like the word fits her. Sure, the etymology is uncertain, but there are suggestions and hints and . . . that's not her. It's not the way she approaches magic.

If you ask her what she is, she'll say she's shooting for “wizard” but isn't convinced she's got the wisdom thing down yet. (She might never feel like she's achieved wisdom, and if she did that might be a sign she's not so wise. There's always room for improvement, after all.)

If you ask her what to call her, beyond “Page”, she'll point out that “spell caster” is quite literal, “magician” and “magic user” are both general catchalls, and there are a myriad of addition options for those with some imagination.


The Villains

Background leading up to Schism

The team began to fracture when Tinker shouted the order, “Kill the witch,” to Mishap in the middle of a battle. No one is really sure where that came from. Yes, the opportunity presented itself, but he hasn't ordered anyone else to kill or that anyone else be killed.

After Mishap didn't kill Page, he got on her case about not being up to the task of being a villain. Mishap was generally paired off against Page anyway, and Tinker kept pushing her to use greater violence than she was willing to and berating her for not being committed to the cause when she didn't.

Mishap probably could have made a persuasive argument that Tinker was the one with fucked up priorities since their brand of villainy was thievery and they had never gone for attacks that would do lasting harm. Then again, so could any of the others, and they didn't.

She quit the team.

Schism is the third time that her old team has bumped into her since she quit, which is why she brought up the possibility they were following her. The “shoving at a distance” occurred the second time they all ran into each other, and was during a fight with the heroes.


Tinker is a tech villain and all of the team's equipment, including his ray guns, are things he personally made.

As for his personality, Tinker started off seeming downright egalitarian. Maybe it was being the undisputed leader, maybe it was because his team was one person short of all male, maybe something else, but as time went on he started letting how he really felt show more and more and how he really felt on the inside was not a pretty sight.

Only two sorts of people call Page a witch, for example. The first are people who don't know much about Page. The second are people who want to evoke another word while having, “I'm not a misogynist,” cover. Tinker knows Page very well, since her team has been his primary opponent long enough for mountains of opposition research.

Also, there's a reason Mastodon thinks Mishap would have been justified shooting Tinker in the back. The same doesn't really hold true for the others. The male members haven't had to put up with the same shit.


Multiplicity can be in many places at once. The down side is that he can't become stronger by doing so. If there are two of him they'll each be at half strength. Three and they're at one third strength. He wishes he could divide the strength unevenly because he doesn't like the fact that, even though he's significantly stronger than the average person after several divisions every instance of him could be beaten by an ordinary untrained child. He'd like to keep at least one version at half strength, but his power doesn't work that way.

Then again, he's not there for the combat. There are plenty of ways to make use of a horde of people even when they do lack physical strength to an extreme degree. He can loot a place about as fast as someone with hyperspeed, provided the loot isn't too heavy (he does not do gold) and in a world where so much can be done with keystrokes, he often doesn't need much strength.

He hates making decisions, and so is perfectly content to follow the leader without question, and is fond of the path of least immediate resistance. He doesn't think ahead beyond how he'll spend his take, and so often makes things harder than they need to be because he won't invest a small effort now to forestall a large effort later.


Pathfinder always knows the quickest way anywhere. Drop him in a place he's never been before and he'll intuitively know every shortcut and never hit a dead end unless he wants to. He's also somewhere between free runner and traceur (parkour practitioner in the purest sense.) He can be as efficient and fast as possible when he needs to be, but he likes the flourish and inefficiency to be found in free running even though traceurs tend to look down on that (“There are no flips in parkour!”)

Mishap was the only other one on the team who shared his love of movement, but even though they were longtime running partners they were never really friends. Pathfinder isn't big on getting close to people.

He also isn't big on hurting people. He joined a team of thieves, not of thugs. If Mishap had preformed the ordered killing he would have turned on the entire team then and there, but since she didn't (and since no one else seemed to be escalating violence) he thought the team could temper their leader's newfound bloodlust and go back to normal or, after Mihap left, something resembling it.


Mastodon has his name because, well . . . He's got tusks, but he keeps them filed down to avoid unwanted attention. He has fur, but he shaves it so he can appear like a vaguely normal person. Why he has super-strength isn't really clear since a human sized Mastodon wouldn't be that strong and a human shaped one would likely be even less so.

He doesn't talk about how he got that way. He doesn't talk much at all.  Schism easily has him speaking more in one encounter than he did for the two months leading up to it.

Usually he's monosyllabic, which leads to various people dismissing him as a dim-witted oaf. Since he doesn't try to correct that, the reputation tends to stick.

He is, however, intensely loyal to his few friends and will use words to defend them every bit as much as super strength. He tries to respect boundaries, which is why his response to, “Are you following me?” was more than, “No.” Also he felt really guilty for not having spoken up sooner. Like, say, when things were at the level of micro-aggressions from Tinker, the team was fully functional, and no one had even thought of suggesting killing anyone.

Mishap was his only friend on the team, though all it would take for Pathfinder to become his friend would be for Pathfinder to want it. Mastodon's willing, but he's not going to pressure someone into a friendship they don't desire.


Mishap came to magic through natural talent, and she does consider herself a witch. She's also well aware of why Tinker started using that particular word to describe Page. As far as she's concerned it's a completely different word when he uses it, and there's no confusion because she'd never use Tinker's version of the word.

As her name suggests, she's good at making things go wrong. She can make the most nimble person trip and fall, the best written code crash, the most finely tuned machine sputter and die. Through refinement of her innate powers she's learned to do it with a great deal of control, and even do it to things she didn't originally know existed. Notably, she can cause failure in the spells of others. If she has the energy and attention to spare, and time, she can cancel any spell Page casts.

Page can do the same to her, though she comes to it via entirely different means. That means that when they face off, which they usually did when the two teams clashed, their magics cancel out absent deception or distraction. The results are physical fights where each is trying to sneak in magic while trying to be vigilant against the other doing the same.

The “Kill the witch” moment was when Page had her attention elsewhere and was completely unprepared to counter a magical attack from Mishap. If not for the order Mishap probably could have made use of the fact, but the order left her frozen in shock. Also pissed off at someone who very much was not Page.

Even so, she tried to stay on the team and make things work.  There were two things that stopped that from happening.  One was that Tinker's misogyny started to show more and more.  The other, which was presumably related, is that he kept on demanding greater levels of violence and berating her when she didn't deliver.

Later demands of greater levels of violence were more physical in nature as opportunities to get a sure magical hit in on Page tend to be both rare and impossible to predict ahead of time.

After she left the team, Tinker attempted to do the killing himself. Fortunately Mishap happened to have an unexpected front row seat for that clash. That was when Mishap “shoved” him from a distance. No one else really knew what was going on, so neither team knew that Tinker had tried kill Page.

Mishap might be the only one who noticed that Tinker wasn't trying to pressure any of the boys into changing their styles and is definitely the only one to know that Tinker has only ever personally gone after (in a lethal kind of way) the person he couldn't get her to harm.

A child was born last night

I assume it was night based on when I learned of it.

CJ is the newest member of my sister's family.  There's no great epic tale to tell like there was with Jensen, but that's not a bad thing.

CJ's biological father . . . well, I can't help but see it in light of my sister's other son.  Jensen's biological father didn't even admit to being related until this year and has never acted as a father to Jensen.  Occasionally a keeper, the sort of person you can kind of sort of trust you take care of a dog without traumatizing it, but never a father.

Instead Jensen's father is someone who has only known him half his life.  That's CJ's biological father, and the difference between the two men is just so extreme.  When Jensen was born his biological father seemed annoyed at being expected to care about the affair and really didn't appear to want to be there.

CJ's biological father, Cody, emanates pure love.  How he looks at CJ, how he holds him, how he . . . everything.  I already know he'll be a good dad, that's what he's been doing to Jensen, but it's just so different than last time, and in such a good way.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Schism (yet another superhero story)

“Ok, team, let's try to maintain the element of surprise for once,” Palidin said to the others. “They probably don't know they tripped the alarm so--”

There was the distinctive sound of someone punching through a cinder-block wall, complete with brick facade, and audible alarms started blaring.


“What the Hell!?” came Mishap's voice.  “Are you following me?”

They rounded the corner of the store and saw Mishap standing with a cheap soda in her hand, looking at a hole in the wall.

“Unlucky accident,” Mastodon said as he walked through the hole.  “I know you want your space.”

“Traitor!”  Mishap flinched.  Mastodon's palm met his forehead.

“You'll pay for shooting Tinker in the back!”

Three more villains came through the hole in the building's wall, Tinker in the lead.

“Quit yelling, we're all right here,” Pathfinder said.

“Multiplicity recommends against referring to yourself in third person, Tinker,” Multiplicity said.  “That is Multiplicity's trademark.”

“But is it a registered trademark?” Mishap asked.

Mastodon sighed.  Then he noticed something too far away for the heroes to see, “Why do you have that out?  The heroes aren't even here yet.”

“Actually they are,” Mishap said.  Mastodon looked to her, and she must have signaled him somehow, because he then looked directly at the heroes.

Paladin raised his hand as if to wave and said, “Hi,” in a confused way.

“Ok, they are here,” Mastodon said, “So you should be pointing the raygun that way,” he pointed to the heroes.

“Did you not hear me say that the traitor would pay for shooting me in the back?” Tinker asked.

“You call that shooting?” Mishap asked.  “It was more like a shove from a distance.”

“Even if it had been strong enough to be classified as a shot,” Mastodon said, “provided it stayed non-lethal it's not like you didn't deserve it considering some of the stuff you said to her.”

“Silence your insolence!” Tinker said.  “She must pay.”

“Ok, how about this:” Mastodon said.  “Let's do some math.  Ten people here.  One neutral party,” he pointed to Mishap, “leaving four of us and five of them.  Not bad odds considering all we need to do is escape, not win.

“However, if you hurt my friend, I'm definitely going to be against you.  That would leave you outnumbered two to one.  Much worse odds.”

“You threaten me!?” Tinker shouted.

“Enough with the loud,” Pathfinder said.

“While we're on the subject of stupid,” Mastodon said, “'Kill the witch'?  Seriously?  Since when are we killers?  We're thieves.  Of course she disobeyed.  Who wouldn't?”

“We're villains, they're heroes,” Tinker said, “it comes with the territory.”

“Actually,” Pathfinder said, “I don't remember 'killer' being on the job application either.”

“Turncoat,” Tinker growled.

“You'd better think over whether you really want to alienate me,” Pathfinder said.  “If I'm against you, and you bring Mishap into this by attacking her, that leaves you outnumbered four to one.  Your odds keep getting lower.”

Tinker made a wordless sound of frustration, then shouted, “Retreat!”

Multiplicity followed him.

“He never stops with the loud,” Pathfinder said.  “I hate the loud.”

“We're going to need to find a new team,” Mastodon said.

“Let's make sure the name doesn't include a number,” Pathfinder said; “I hate having to do a full re-branding effort every time we gain or lose a member.”

“We can figure out the name later,” Mastodon said.  “There's a more pressing matter: whoever gets back to the lair first is going to loot it and leave nothing for the others.”

“It's a race,” Pathfinder said, “and we'll win.”  He paused a moment.  “But it would be too easy if I didn't give them a head start.”

A few moments passed in silence, then Pathfinder started to jog away and motioned Mastodon to follow.  Mastodon did, but just before he disappeared down an alley he turned back and shouted, “Keep in touch,” to Mishap.

“Well,” Mishap said to the empty air, then sipped her soda, “that was weird.”  Then she walked away.

The heroes were left alone.

“So,” Erratic said, “that did not go at all how I expected.”

“Aren't we going to chase?” Errant asked.

Paladin sighed.  “Even with Mastodon slowing him down, Pathfinder's too fast for us to catch.”

“I meant Mishap,” Errant said

“Our legal authority is very restricted,” Paladin said.  “It only applies to what we were called in to do.”

“She wasn't part of the robbery this time,” Page said, “so she's outside our jurisdiction.”

Paldin nodded, then said, “If we go after her because of her outstanding warrants, without being specifically tasked with that, we're just vigilantes.”

“So, what do we do?” Squire asked.

“We patch the hole in the wall,” Paladin said, “wait for the police to arrive, and tell them the bad guys got away this time.”

~ ⁂ ~

I'm going to have I have a post going into more detail about the characters I've worked out (the villains and the hero Tinker previously ordered Mishap to kill) and the events leading up to the villains' team breaking apart, but for now here's the names of the the people on or previously on the two teams:

The Knights Errant and Erratic

Whether anyone is cis or trans I haven't worked out yet, but they're all gender conforming.

Other than Mishap, team villain is all male.
Paladin and Errant are male, the other heroes are female.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Most of the things I am thankful for are things that cause me great stress and fear

Let's start by not talking about me.  Maybe that will be easier.

A lot of people say, and perhaps even believe, that freedom means you can do a thing.  "Freedom of speech means you can say what you will," for example.  It's often framed that way when we first teach about freedom.  Things are framed in "can" and "can't".

That's not accurate though.  "Free speech" is such a wonderful example because we know it's not about "can" even when we know for a fact that's not true.  As we return to a place where our country finds itself mired in white power politics and John Birch conspiracy theories even unto the highest levels, Americans might do well to remember the past and reflect on the fact that there's a reason the terms are First World and Third World.  This concept had a Second World that we don't much talk about these days.

The First and Second Worlds ran roughshod over the Third World because they weren't going to damage their own fucking worlds as part of their epic global conflict.

So what was the Second World?  Basically the USSR et alia.

Did it have free speech?  Nope.  Did that mean people couldn't speak their minds?  Hell no.

The gulags were full of people who proved that they could and would speak their minds.  They did.  They spoke.  They were arrested.  And depending on the exact when and where they were imprisoned, worked to death, deported, stripped of all their possessions, possibly killed but you usually had to do a bit more than speak for that one, or otherwise subject to legal reprisal.

It's the repercussions that define free action.  If you have legal freedom to do something (like say that the president elect is an asshole and the next four to eight years will be fucking terrible) then you can do it without legal repercussion.  But there are other ways to punish people.

Some things that you can legally say might get you shunned, or ridiculed, or might see you lose friends.

Thus we have Janis Joplin tell us, in the words of Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, that "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose".

Once you have something, it can be taken away.  If it can be taken away, then the threat of that can be used to stop you from doing things, and thus your freedom is restricted.

And that brings us back around to what I actually set out to write about.  We'll see if taking that long detour has actually helped make it any easier.


I'm lucky.  I don't own this house, but I have this house.  All I need to do are pay the expenses, which are significantly lower than the cost of rent in the area, and I can live here indefinitely.

That's something I have.  Which means that it's something I can lose.  I'm not going to round up the figures right now, but I think last time I did it came out to 12 hundred dollars I don't have that are needed by the end of the year.  At least nine hundred of that is the non-monthly expenses on the house being due.

Then there's oil.

I'm thankful for my house.
I'm thankful for my heat.
I'm thankful for my power.
I'm thankful for my water.
I'm thankful for my internet.
I'm thankful for this blog.
I'm thankful I'm not starving.
I'm thankful I'm on my meds.
I'm thankful . . .

And it can all be taken away.

It can all be lost.

We've reached the time of the year when I need the heat on.  I can turn it down, but never off.  Every time the furnace kicks in, whether because it needs to produce more heat or simply because it requires a given operating temperature, I find myself wondering how long before I run out of oil.

More than half of that 12 hundred dollars was already due.  Yeah, a family member covered it, but it's a loan --not a gift.  How long before she needs to either call in that debt or take action?

And the only action she can take is to begin the process of kicking me out of the house.

Do I start rationing things.  If I do, then it doesn't look good for this place.  I need heat to live.  I need electricity to run the machinery that burns the oil.  I need oil to burn.  I need water to be coursing through the system because the radiators operate off of steam.

Seems like internet goes first.

Maybe I could ditch my phone first, then internet, then . . . what?  Things are too interconnected.  It's a system, and after cutting off my means of communicating with the outside world, everything else seems to be a critical part of that system.

Catalyzer's a nothing part, Captain.

It's nothing 'til you don't got one. Then it appears to be everything.

And all of my bills are paid online anyway.

Cut out anything, and it all falls down.  Everything I have: gone.

Well, almost.  Lonespark I have in person.  Sometimes.  Not long distance, not short distance, sort of mid-distance.  It's an interesting dynamic.  But the point is that Lonespark isn't part of the "everything" I can lose in this manner.  She isn't in my house or dependent upon it; she certainly isn't with me for my money.

I've spent days too stressed out to do anything but try to distract myself from the stress by playing games or reading.  None of that stress was over losing Lonespark because I couldn't pay my Lonespark bill.

Before a year and a half ago it seemed like I had freedom in sight.  My financial woes were because something happened (i.e. "If I don't get the money for a new furnace --actually a boiler, but we always called it a furnace-- in the next couple of days then I'm well and truly fucked,") or because my SSI income wasn't enough to pay the tuition for the university I was still attending.

Once I graduated university, the structural problems would be over, and with a new furnace I seem to be insulated from that particular disaster.  Yes, I had a bunch of debt, but once the last tuition bill was paid (it's been paid) I should have been ok into the future.

How many times have I told this damned story?  Then the SSA reevaluated how much they should be paying me in SSI and decided that the fact I got people to help me pay for two semesters tuition (as a full time student no less) meant I should be able bring in enough money to do that every year, and since then my debt has climbed and every month is a disaster not because something in particular happened, but because there's just not enough.

And the stress that brings on makes it impossible to focus on the paperwork needed to say, "No, you assholes, I don't make that kind of money.  It took me five fucking years to make $100.49," and donations are impossible to predict.  That too.

Part of that is that paypal keeps on fucking up the automated ones so every time someone thinks, "Hey, I'll set up a monthly donation of $5," it utterly fails, but it's also because only one or three people have ever tried that anyway.

"Hi, I still exist," doesn't tend to bring salvation.  Though I keep on doing that once a month post.

"Good fucking god, it's all coming down around me," stands a better chance but is the opposite of certain.

And every time I say that, which happens so often now, I wonder if this will be the time when no one steps forward to help, when I can't find some way to kick things down the road, when I'm out of credit to use as last resort, and when the end finally comes.

And so the very things that I'm thankful for cause me the greatest fear.

I live in fear.  Fear of losing the things that I need.  Fear that this time will be the last time.  Fear that my lucky breaks and flat out miracles will run out.  Fear that I'll lose everything.

Dr. Jones, again we see there is nothing you can possess

which I cannot take away.

And that causes me so much fucking stress.  Sometimes it's like I'm in the deepest depths of unmedicated depression all over again.  Being too stressed out to move isn't the same as being too depressed to move, but there's a definite similarity to the feel.

On the topic of the depressed version My Zombie Apocalypse Team, also Why .hack//Sign matters (the re-post as well, but no big-type post for my favorite iPad based reader.  Sorry.

But back to the situation at hand.

I am thankful for a variety of material things, several of which play an active role in keeping me not-dead, but that thankfulness is tempered by the fact that I cannot long dwell on any of these things without being reminded that I stand on the edge of losing these things.  And, for the record, my balance kind of sucks.  It's a miracle I've been able to stay on the edge this long.

And so I've fearful of a variety of things.

And so I'm stressed the fuck out in near perpetuity about a variety of things.

I still have things left to lose.  And the prospect of losing them weighs heavily upon me.

Monday, November 21, 2016

I am medicated

Ok, so, apparently I dropped a pill somewhere because there definitely should have been an even number since I take two every morning and they gave me a full thirty day supply.

I noticed this, maybe, on Friday.  I was out of state, the medication has only gotten a generic a year or two ago, and even that is really fucking expensive, and my insurance ends at the state line.  No way to refill.

So I'm looking at three pills and considering rationing.  Then I realize: I'm going back the next day, so if I take two that day, one the next, and then get new pills when I get back into my insurance's domain, I'll have only one day of less than full meds.

I did not think of the fact that it was Friday.  Meaning the next day was Saturday, meaning the day after was Sunday.

So this morning I'd had one half of a dose of my most important med in the span of three mornings.

Those who pay attention to my time zone will be able to notice that it is not morning here.

Good fucking God, is it hard to make an expedition to get your depression medication when you're suffering withdrawal from your depression medication (figures that the only medicine that works is the only one to ever give me withdrawal symptoms) and possibly the fallout of not having depression medication (it can be hard to tell where withdrawal ends and "You're too low on meds in your bloodstream to be non-depressed" begins in the short term).

But I am now medicated.  And I have food.  I'd totally forgotten that I finished almost all my food before heading out of state.

Mind you I never talked about being not medicated, so this is sort of non-news because it means, "That bad thing I didn't mention is no longer a thing in need of mentioning."

Still: I have succeeded in my epic mission-quest-thing to get medication.  Woo!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Trying to get inside an old exe (LE 16/32 bit hybrid, I'm told)

So, new versions of windows support 32bit exes but not 16 bit and, additionally, even if the exe would run it will have been written assuming hardware access that modern hardware makes impossible.

Yes, DOSBox exists.

Still, resources exist to get stuff out of PE exes, some even to the point of even trying to recreated the source code into easily human readable stuff.  the LE format doesn't seem to have anything.

The "seem" is why this post exists.  Maybe here are resources for it, and I just don't know of them.

Thus, a question:

Anyone know anything that would help with looking inside an LE exe, preferably in a meaningful way?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Word of the day: Defenestration

I happen to love this word.  I don't get a lot of chances to use it because I do not frequent barroom brawls where there are nice big windows to throw people out of.

Still, the act of throwing someone out of a window: there's a word for that.

Seeing the word was like a momentary spike of joy in these dark times.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Not Broken (another superhero thing)

εν νω εχω* a series of stories set in the shared superhero universe featuring Corv and the others about earth elementals who are petrified and then freed.  (In the setting) Earth elementals are somewhat unique in that when they're overtaken by, and transformed into, their element they tend to stick around.  Fires go out, air disperses, water flows, stone stands statuesque.

Thus, baring unfortunate incidents with sledgehammers, rock-slides, or whatnot, they can be recovered.  I envision six to eight characters featured in the petrification chronicles, each petrified under different circumstances and each trapped as stone for a different amount of time.

*I have in mind

Not all superhero teams a created equal, and the one that Ge and Desdemona (Des) below feature in was never one of the good ones.  It was consciously cast in the image of Corv's team meaning that its nominal leader turned away people who would have been good additions to the team because they didn't have powers showcased on Corv's team and added people who weren't good fits because they did have the right powers.

(Ge filled the earth elemental slot on the team.  Desdemona filled the demon slot.)

The team was always dysfunctional, for example: at the time Ge was turned to stone she had lost all will to live and would have welcomed death had it come to her.  After Ge was gone, things got worse.

All of that is only tangentially related to this particular fragment, which begins after the break.

* * *

Alisha turned in hopes of figuring out what had stopped Des in mid-sentence.  There didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary, the club continued as it had before.  As she kept looking, though, she realized that a girl was walking toward them and looking straight at Des.  Dark hair, dark eyes, freckled face, possibly Japanese, definitely too young to be in here.

When the girl reached their booth, Des stood up and hugged her.

~ ~ ~

Ge smiled when Des whispered, "Are the others right behind you?"

She didn't bother whispering her response:

"This is the third club on their list in this area, and at the moment they're looking somewhere else entirely.  May I sit?"

Des nodded, sat herself, and slid far enough into the booth that Ge had space.

"She your sister?" the woman Des was with asked.

Ge looked at Des, tried to imagine seeing her for the first time, and was still confused.  So she asked, "Do we look related?"

"No," Des said to the other woman.  "Alisha, this is Ge," Des said with a gesture, "Ge, Alisha."

Des using Ge's real name was a sign that Des wasn't bothering with any secret-identity fake-name crap.  That made things simpler.

"Pleasure, I'm sure," Ge said to Alisha.  She thought her voice was neutral enough, though she didn't understand why Des did this, apparently with surprising frequency.

"How do you two know each other?" Alisha asked.  Then she followed up with, "And how did someone your age get in here?  And who is the 'they' who are looking somewhere else?"

Inquisitive one.

"Long story," Ge answered.  "Nightclubs can't afford the locks it would take to keep me out.  Acquaintances who don't like the fact that Des has a habit of having sex with random women she meets at nightclubs."

Alisha seemed to take it in stride.  Des chuckled.

Ge looked over Alisha, nothing stood out as wrong about her, then she turned to Des, "Is this really what you do with your free time now?"

"I appreciate your concern," Des said.  Had Ge sounded concerned?  She hadn't meant to sound concerned.  She was concerned, of course; who wouldn't be?  But she hadn't meant to sound concerned.  Des continued, "Especially because for you it's actually because you're worried about me instead of worried about upholding some image, but there's something very important you have to understand, Ge."

So Ge listened.  Waiting for very important.

"I'm not broken," Des said, "and neither are the women I bed."  Des paused for a while.  "Not everyone who wants sex wants a relationship.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  I make sure that my partners know full well I'm not looking for anything that lasts."

Ge looked at Alisha, who hadn't bolted.  Ge would have.  Des might as well have pointed to her as an example when she talked about the women she "bedded".  That would have tripped her awkwardness alarms and sent her into run and hide mode.  But Alisha was just sitting there.

When she noticed Ge's eyes on her, Alicia confirmed what Des had said with a nod.

Ge turned back to Des and said, "It's just that you always used to--"

"A lot has chan--"

"I know." Ge said.  She hadn't even realized how angry she'd suddenly become until she heard the sound of her own words, but that didn't stop her.  "You don't have to tell me things changed.

"I was a year older than all of my friends when I went under and when I came back up everyone was twenty three while I was still seventeen and everything is different.

"I don't need more reminders; every time that someone who used to be my friend brushes me off like I'm just some random kid, I get more reminder than anyone should have to endure.  Everything I know might as well be ancient history to 'kids my age', the places that I used to go have been bulldozed, torn down, renovated, or rotted out.  The entire damned world changed and I'm the only thing that didn't.

"I know that things changed."

"I'm sorry," Des said.  The words brought Ge back down to normal.  She looked around to see if she'd created a scene, but no one outside of the booth seemed to have any interest.  "I know it's still raw for you.  I was just trying to . . ." the pause wasn't usual, it wasn't right.  Des didn't pause mid-sentence.  "It doesn't matter.  I apologize."

"Accepted," Ge said before she'd even processed exactly what Des had said.  "So, while I was gone, you discovered that you happen to like meaningless sex and--"

"Hey," Alisha said.  It was either amused indignation, or an amused impression of indignation.  Ge wasn't sure which.  "If it were meaningless do you think I'd still be here?"

The tone was one that put Ge into a comfortable autopilot, and she asked, "Not just sticking around to watch the train wreck?" in banter mode.

Alisha smiled, shook her head, then looked at Des in a predatory way.  Ge very much did not understand.  But she didn't really need to either.  As long as Des was ok.

As Ge was making peace with that, she missed that Alisha had turned her attention back to Ge, and so the question, "You were really frozen for seven years?" caught her off guard.

It only took a few beats longer than it should have for the question to register, and then she said, "Provided you're using the word 'frozen' figuratively, yeah."  A quick glance in the direction of memory lane told Ge that she had never mentioned that directly.  Still: basic math.

"And after that" Des said, "when your condition prevented you from sleeping alone, remember whose bed you shared?"

"Of course I do," Ge answered.

"Remember how long it lasted?"


"So you know as well as anyone," Des said, "I haven't had sex in ages."  There was a pause --between sentences as pauses should be when Des was speaking-- and then Des said, "Could you keep the others off my back, Ge?"

Ge pulled out her communicator, looked at messages that had been sent on the frequency --all text-only because heaven forfend that someone overhear the team was looking for a member who had left the house in hopes of getting laid-- and then nodded.

"I'll run interference for you," Ge said.  "Get back to the common by two AM though."

"Thanks, Ge," Des said.

~ ~ ~

Alicia watched the girl walk away, then said, "That was interesting."

"Now you know my dark secret," Des said.

"That you have a curfew?"

"That my best friend isn't old enough to vote, and I have an entire squad dedicated to forcing me to look less debauched because it's allegedly bad PR," Des said.

"I do wonder why PR would matter to you," Alisha said, "and I'd hate to think that our time tonight might be cut short . . ."

"I can make you forget time and space even exist," Des said.

"I'll hold you to that," Alisha said, noting her own body's reaction to the boast, "but mostly what I want to know is: what's a 'common'?"

"We were a bunch of teenagers --orphans and outcasts-- who thought we could run our own lives better than any adults," Des said, "and to prevent anyone from pulling that 'under my roof' crap, our home was held in common."

"It sounds like a nice idea," Alisha said.

"Yeah," Des said.  Darker emotions seemed to take hold for a moment, but they were clearly pushed aside.  "Shitty implementation, though."

"Just out of curiosity," Alisha said, "is your name short for 'Desdemona'?"

"Does it matter?" Des asked.

"Not really," Alisha said.  They'd both already decided where this night was going.  Well before the interruption, in fact.  "If you're trying to hide it, though, you're not doing the best job."

"I strive not for deception but plausible ambiguity," Des said as her expression transformed into a smirk.

Alisha laughed.

"I take it it was worth sticking out the unexpected drama," Des said.

"That remains to be seen," Alisha said, "but if any of the PR I've heard about you --which didn't seem bad to me-- is true, I think it will have been."

Des' smirk returned at the mention of her "PR", and became a fuller wider smile when Alisha shared her opinion on it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Monthly Finance Post

These started to remind people that I accept donations, so:

There is a donate button at the upper right hand corner of the blog, one can also send me money by logging into paypal, going to the send money thing, and using my email (cpw [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com).

If you have money to spare, are willing to give, and don't know anyone who needs it more, I'd love to take that spare money off your hands.


So, here's the deal:

On the 17th I was supposed to pay the property tax but that was covered for me.  It's a loan, not a gift, so I have to pay it back, but the reason for the loan is that in the longer term getting rid of my highest interest debt is really important so money that might have gone to taxes went to that.

So there's no pressing doom that will befall me before the end of the month, however I do need to pay back the money for the taxes ($646.93), insurance ($272) is due in the first half of December, $333.57 that needs to be paid by the end of December, and at some point I'll need to put oil in the tank.

So that's $1252.50 in the next month and a half.  Plus, maybe, heating oil.

And . . . I don't have that money.


I've gotten all of the documentation from the bank (must have cost us a national forest to print it), I just need to go through it, write a summary and letter saying why I'm sending it, figure out exactly who at the SSA I need to send it to, and then pray my SSI gets adjusted to something that doesn't leave me constantly on the edge of total catastrophe.

Until I do that (assuming it works) there's a constant push-pull going on.  On the one hand, the high interest debt is a huge burden so I pay it down whenever I can, on the other hand, debt is how I've been getting by month to month when I don't actually have the money to do so.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The rest of Cohen's "Hallelujah"

Cohen died, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.  There's evidence suggesting he might have seen it coming and even been prepared for it.  Better than a sudden death that the person isn't ready to accept.  That's all in the realm of maybe, though.

Of course, even if it was ok with Leonard Cohen himself, the world is now lesser for his absence.  So even if the maybe should turn out to be definitely, there's still reason to mourn.

That's not what this post is about, though.

It has me thinking about his most used (and overused) song again.

"Hallelujah" was first released on his 1984 album Various Positions but people who heard it live often heard a different song, frequently only one verse remained the same.

John Cale, in preparation for the 1991 tribute album I'm your fan asked Cohen for the lyrics.  Makes sense, he wouldn't want to make a fuck up on an album in honor of Cohen.  What he got were 15 pages of lyrics.  It doesn't seem that an exact count has ever been released, but Cohen had apparently written about 80 verses.

I very much want to see those 15 pages, I want to know those about 80 verses.  Unfortunately it seems like only seven verses reached the public.

It's entirely possible that we have the best version of Hallelujah already.  Cale's arrangement is the one that almost everyone uses now, even Cohen himself was using it.

But the versions that have been made are not the only possible versions.  Cohen started off doing four verse versions, that if we take the number 80 as right since it's about right, there are 1,581,580 possible choices of which four verses to take.  For anyone whose eyes glazed over at the number, over one and a half million.

Cale did five verses.  That gets us to over 24 million.

Maybe one of those other possibilities is the Hallelujah that's right for me.  Maybe if it's going to be overused so much it would be better if there were more variation in which verses got chosen.

Or maybe it's because I don't like things being lost, and information kept private is information that disappears from the world.

Whatever the case, I really want to see the eighty-ish verses that were on those 15 pages.

These are the verses I've tracked down
I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord.
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth.
The minor fall, the major lift.
The baffled king composing Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Your faith was strong but you needed proof.
You saw her bathing on the roof.
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you.
She tied you to a kitchen chair.
She broke your throne, she cut your hair.
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Baby I've been here before.
I know this room, I've walked this floor.
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch.
Love is not a victory march,
It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

There was a time you'd let me know
What's real and going on below.
But now you never show it to me, do you?
Remember when I moved in you?
The Holy Dove was moving too.
And every breath we drew was hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light, in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Maybe there's a God above.
And all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you.
It's not a cry you can hear at night.
It's not somebody who's seen the light.
It's a cold and its a broken hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though / It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A note about Faithless Electors, the popular vote, and why you really shouldn't get your hopes up

The electoral college is, quite simply, bullshit.  It was a mistake, it shouldn't exist, and it's never served the purpose it was designed for anyway.

In fact, this election is a perfect example of what's wrong with it.  The founders of the United States of America were worried that letting the people, you know we the unruly and ignorant masses, might do something stupid like elect Donald J. Trump president.  In that eventuality they figured the electors, who would be better educated than us rabble, would say, "Fuck no!" and not elect him.

Instead we the masses, rabbley as we are, said, "Fuck no!" and the electoral college is saying, "Fuck yes!"

Now people have, in the past, noticed that this system is fucked up and, in fact, are 60% of the way to making it so the candidate who wins the popular vote wins.  Period.  What they have is an interstate agreement (plus D.C. too) that kicks in when they get enough states signed on to hit 270 electoral votes.  270 is what it takes to win.  Once the states (and D.C.) signed on to this are powerful enough to win every election every time they've agreed to hand that victory to the person who won the popular vote.

So if we just make it the remaining 40% before December 19th . . . no.  Not going to happen.

Well, what about just convincing the people themselves to not vote for Trump?

This is, more accurately, what faithless elector refers to.  Their state said "Vote for this guy" and they said, "Nope, voting for someone else."  It has happened before.  Almost never.  But it's been done.

This is what the electoral college exists to do, but given that they're called, "Faithless Electors," rather than "Astute Savior of Democracy Electors" you can see how well that's gone over.

Some states even have laws saying, more or less, "I don't give a shit what the founders thought, you're doing what we god damned told you to do or else!"

So, no, not really likely there either.


None of this is saying that getting the electoral college to listen to the popular vote and obey the will of the people isn't a noble, and achievable, goal.  It totally is.  But don't hold out hope it will stop Trump from becoming president.  That's setting yourself up for a fall.

It's long hard slog, and we are not a month away from finishing that slog.  If you want to fight to change the "Fuck the people!" way the electoral college operates fuel yourself with a sense of right and wrong, or anger, or indignation, or anything but hope that you can really use it to get the will of the people obeyed this election.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility, but it's so close to impossible that it would likely qualify as a miracle.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Metrion and Zinthos

Notes at the start:
Background: In the TV series Teen Titans the producers decided to give Raven a three word chant.  She recites it when she has to do strong magic in combat.  She recites it when she is meditating.  These are obviously very different situations.  This gives rise to the question, "Just what are these words?"

The first word is Azarath, the name of her home.  The other two words, Metrion and Zinthos, have no canon meaning.  The writers just made them up without a thought as to what they might mean.  They're left as an exercise to the fanfiction writer.

One fanfic writer's version has attained deuterocanonical status to the point that when I posted this to the immediate response was someone "correcting" me with that version as if it were unalterable truth.

This conversation will eventually take place in With great power comes .?. but I haven't even gotten to the point where Raven knows that Lisa was Terra.  At the moment in that story, Raven got a bad read and is under the impression that Lisa isn't Terra.

"What do 'Metrion' and 'Zinthos' mean?" Lisa asked.

"How long have you been wondering that?" Raven asked in return.

"Ever since I learned that Azarath was the name of a place rather than the first word of a magic spell," Lisa said.

"It actually is a spell," Raven said. "Spells have to come from somewhere, after all, and I made that one. Quite by accident, I might add."

"You made a spell accidentally?"

"It was originally just an aid in using my power," Raven said. "Through repetition it became something more. Something else. I'd never be able to use it to center myself and meditate if it still produced the original effect."

"So .?." Lisa asked.

"My power is controlled by my emotions," Raven said, "the stronger the emotion, the stronger the power. But if I give in to negative emotions I lose control."

"I can relate."

Raven nodded. "To use my powers while staying in control I made a mantra that would summon strong positive emotions."

"Thus your home," Lisa said. "I'm only beginning to understand what that's like. To to have one, I mean."

Raven felt a pang of guilt. If Terra had been raised by a religious order of pacifists who taught her meditation, and Raven had been the one left to fend for herself, never knowing stability, never able to control her powers until Slade came with an offer to help . . .

It wasn't that Terra's actions were excusable, but they were understandable. Raven had been right to be suspicious of Terra's new control, but she could have shared her own means of control with Terra. If she had, maybe Terra wouldn't have . . .

Raven put those thoughts aside. It was too late for any of that. This girl wasn't even Terra anymore. She was Lisa now. Someone with a clean slate, a family, and a home.

"I'm happy for you," Raven said. It was a sign of how much had changed since her father was defeated that she could say that with the accompanying emotion free to control her tone, her expression, and so much more.

"Metrion is the name of a spell. It was the first major spell I ever cast. It felt like I spent forever researching it, gathering ingredients, making sure I understood the nuances of it. I almost failed, but when it was done it changed everything for me. I can't imagine my life if I hadn't cast it, and I don't want to either."

"What did it do?" Lisa asked.

"It made me more . . . me," Raven said. "Made the outside match the inside. More like my mother, less like my father."

"Were you red or something before?" Lisa asked.

"Nothing like that," Raven said. She felt herself smiling slightly.

"I don't actually know what your father looked liked," Lisa said.

"Well . . . you were right about him being red," Raven said. "But how I was before . . . it's not something I talk about."

"Oh," Lisa said. "Ok. I didn't mean to pry. Sorry if I made you-"

"It's fine," Raven said. "I hope your curiosity is sated."

"It is," Lisa said. "For that word at least. I tried to look it up, by the way, and things said Metrion was your real name but I couldn't track down the source."

"Guess," Raven said.

"Fan stuff?" Lisa asked.

"It's more than just fans," Raven said, "anyone who wants to write a story set in Jump City kind of has to include the Titans. Not to would be like writing a story set on earth in which you edited the sun out of the solar system. It wouldn't make sense. When they don't know but they want to delve, they have to make things up.

"It doesn't bother me that they think that," Raven said, "but Raven is my real name."

"I know; we talked about it," Lisa said. "What about the other fan stuff?"

"You mean the fact that I'm apparently dating Starfire?" Raven asked. Then she resumed her classic deadpan: "Wait, no. Robin. Or was it Cyborg? Definitely lots and lots of Beast Boy. I'm a regular Casanova."

"Jinx too," Lisa said, "though that kind of feels like less of a stretch."

"Why?" Raven asked.

"More common ground," Lisa said.

"I don't see it," Raven said.

Lisa shrugged.

"I didn't bring it up to talk about your many and varied fictional romantic escapades, though," she said. "I was wondering how you felt about it in general. People writing stories about you and all."

"I generally steer clear of it," Raven said, "but from what I've seen some is good, some is bad, some is positive, some is bashing Titans the author doesn't like, some is cathartic, some is art, some is drivel, and so forth. About what you'd expect."

"Ok," Lisa said, "what about Zinthos?"

"My first love," Raven said. "All romance; nothing physical. I hadn't even experienced physical attraction yet. We were young, and adults thought we were just playing, but the love was real, and the feeling was so powerful that sometimes I worried about losing control."

"But positive so it didn't risk you turning tentacley," Lisa said.

"Yes," Raven said. "So that was the mantra I used to be able to use my powers, then only something I considered doing for self defense, without giving into darker emotions. Over time it transformed into a personal spell. A very specific one. The effect is basically to let me do something tied to my emotions while avoiding the darkness. The upside is that it's more powerful than a mere mantra and can be used in more situations. The downside is that now that it is a spell, being interrupted before I finish saying 'Zinthos' can be a problem."

"Meditation is tied to your emotions?"

"Meditation is about my emotions," Raven said. "To control my powers I need to control my emotions so every day I meditate to face all of my emotions and make sure none of them can overpower me, slip out, bring me to a place I can't afford to be, or anything else that could lead to catastrophe."

"I should have asked you to teach me."

"I should have offered," Raven said. "It doesn't always work; sometimes I have to resort to more extreme measures, and even then I've lost control. Besides, it's all in the past since you've found your own control now."

"Are you sure?" Lisa asked.

"You're in a high school, a high stress environment if ever there were one, and there hasn't been so much as a tremor," Raven said. "I looked it up because I thought maybe chasing earthquakes would help me find you. You didn't even set off any of the tiny ones that are too minor for human beings to feel."

"That makes me feel better," Lisa said.

[more notes]

Mentioning that there's a theory "Metrion" is Raven's real name instead of "Raven", is paying homage to the the most widely accepted fan fic version of the words meaning.  In that version Zinthos is Raven's childhood pet raven who, presumably, was very important to her given that in that version of fanon she named herself after Zinthos' species.

Also it just seems like there'd be fanfic in-universe so I figured I'd have that come up.

"Metrion" being the name of a spell that was about Raven's outside matching her inside and whatnot is very much inspired by a fic by Shadokin called Makings of a Family, in which Raven is a trans girl and this fact is met by acceptance and kindness when it is learned.

So, yeah, my version of what Metrion and Zinthos mean.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Another working day

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[As I said there, I've had the idea since 2AM on the 9th, when all hope of a Clinton miraculous save crushed.  Also said there, I'm not really satisfied with how it turned out.]
[Title from American Tune.]

"Good, you're not dead," Angela said in her usual way. "Get up, there's work to do."

Beth looked up at her with tear stained eyes.  "What work? The world ended."

"Then what are we standing on?" Angela asked.  She pushed on the ground with her feet, coming just short of jumping.  "Feels like a world to me."

"You know what I mean!"

The switch from despondent to angry shook Angela for a moment, but when she recovered she said, "So the water turned to blood. Big deal. Blood's mostly water . . . I think.  We'll just filter it.  If we even have to.  I've never heard of anything bad coming out of drinking clean blood and it's not like it's coagulating."  She paused and was briefly in her own world. "Neat trick, that, by the way."

"It's not just the water," Beth said.

"And a lot of people are dead, and Angels roam, killing off anyone who isn't a straight cis gender conforming full fledged Lahayvian, and Jerusalem had a Borg cube dropped on it."

"And solar output dropped by two thirds," Beth said.  "You got a plan for how we'll cope with what that will do to the climate?"

"Actually, yes," Angela said.  "Remember how the earth opened up and swallowed a bunch of our friends so that they could burn for all eternity?"

Beth cried at this.

"Well if the plan is to have them burn for all eternity then the flames can't very well consume, can they?" Beth didn't answer. "So once we dig down to them and set them free they should be fine."

Beth just looked at Angela. It wasn't a nice look.

"Ok, ok; they'll need lots of therapy," Angela said, "which is part of the work we have to do. But you asked about solar output so back to that. So long as we have a hole connecting the soon to be frigid surface of the earth and magic Hell-fire that never goes out and never gets less hot, why not use it?"

"Sterling engines," Beth said.

"And you said I'd never make a perpetual motion machine," Angela said.

There was a silence. Beth looked somewhat better.

"Now there's a famine on, there's a need to dig to Hell, there's all sort's of stuff to do, and I'd really like your help," Angela said.

"Hydroponics?" Beth asked.

"If I put the plants in the water turned to blood," Angela said, "would that mean that I don't need fertilizer?"

"You have no idea how to do anything, do you?" Beth asked.

"Which is why I need you," Angela said. "Come on, it's just the apocalypse, or Armageddon, or both, not the end of the world. We have a lot of work to do." Angela offered Beth a hand.

Beth took it, and pulled herself to her feet. "Same as always."

"Same as always," Angela agreed.