Friday, July 13, 2018

Gondor calls for aid (i.e. if you're in or about the greater Portland area, Maine Portland, I could use help)

I know that in the past people have said, "I'm not that far away, is there anything I could do to help by showing up in person."  Well, not that.  People have never, to my knowledge, said precisely that.  People have said stuff to that effect, more or less.

Or maybe, "I have friends in your area and they might be . . ."

What I don't know is who those people were or how they came to internet-know me.

Maybe they read this, maybe they were at Ana's, maybe they were somewhere else entirely.

Regardless, for once showing up in person could be helpful.  Short version: Stuff needs to be moved.  Both on the small scale where a person can move it and on a large scale where a vehicle is needed.

If you're up for it, contact me (cpw [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com) and we'll see if you can help.  (I naturally assume no one is interested.)

Long version:

This is hard to write about because I just want to vent about how terrible everything feels and how shitty certain people were to my family, but that's not what this post is about.

This is what it's about: we're losing the whole farm.  My mom was put on the spot and had to decide between between accept the unexpectedly backstabbing altered arrangement, where we didn't get to keep anything at all, or go to the next offer, which would have seen the whole thing bulldozed.  At least by still selling to the backstabbers it'll become a pseudo-park instead of being condos.

That news is what caused my May breakdown, in which I cried for days and was emotionally fucked for even longer.  Then time passed and I had my June breakdown.  Then time passed.  (Actually, if you look at the space between them, I'm due for a July breakdown right about now.)

Property changes hands three days after my birthday, so by August 6th anything we want to keep needs to be evacuated to some other location.

We didn't know that anything would need to be moved until May, I wasn't the only one having problems, it's now mid July.

On my own, the most I can do is help my sister in her efforts.  I can't drive, (don't have a car anyway), I'm just one person, so on, so forth.  The thing is, what she wants isn't how I'd prefer to do things.

Helping her is a good thing, and if you'd prefer her orders to my own ideas then that's definitely a thing that can be done, but I'm going to talk about what I'd prefer for the rest of the post.

There's some path clearing to be done because the farm is one spring + summer-so-far overgrown, so there is a degree to it would be useful if someone wanted to venture forth with weed whacker in hand to do battle with grass and shrub so that others might reach the out buildings.

Mostly, however, what I need help with is moving stuff, both on site and between the farm and my house.
Other than the "my house" bit (she's loading up an on-site storage container), that's essentially the same thing my sister needs help with.  The differences are a) the categories of some of the things to be moved, and b) the methodology employed in deciding which potential things should be moved.
So: moving stuff.

Stuff falls into three categories: inanimate stuff one can carry and put in an SUV/pickup/van/thing, big inanimate stuff, and plants.

~ * Stuff one can carry and put in a vehicle to move * ~

If anyone actually does help me, I'm pretty sure it will be limited to this category.  It's really simple, or would be if I had a car, could drive, and were more people:
Pick stuff up, put in vehicle, drive to my house, unload stuff.  Repeat.
Which stuff?
All the stuff.

The thing is, I really do feel like there's not a lot of time.

It'll be a week before I can work at the farm again.  At that point there are three weeks left.  Decent odds that I'll be in the area for at most two of those weeks.  It's the hot season and if I work more than a couple days in a row the exertion combined with the heat will make me sick.
From my perspective there's only a handful of days and they're running out.

So I don't want to sort through everything to save only what I actually wish to keep.  I am very deeply concerned that if I try to do that I'll spend so much time sorting that I'll run out of time before all of the save-worthy stuff gets moved (or indeed located).
I want to go quick and dirty:
 • Grab everything.  Stick what fits in a vehicle.  Drive it to my house.  Remove.  Repeat.

I can sort things after the sixth provided that I actually have the things, which will only be true if they're moved off the farm before the sixth.  Sorting takes time.  Especially when things may be disassembled.  With disassembled things it's like needing to put together a puzzle in order to make each decision.

Even if we do have that time, and I have doubts, I'm stressed the Hell out by taking that time to sort instead of just getting stuff to safety as quickly as possible and deciding what's worth keeping later.

~ * big inanimate objects * ~

The degree to which I think no one can help with this is high, but I'll put it in.
There are some big honking things on the farm, and I don't just mean cars.  Though on the subject of cars . . .

My grandfather talked about us building a car together for much of my life.  I'd say I wanted a rusted wreck from the woods, he'd say that we'd build a car together, but not that one.  Then he'd bring me to the chassis of a model A Ford (I didn't know that was what it was at the time) and say we'd build that.  It was four wheels, a flat (empty) frame, and a steering wheel; I was totally unimpressed.
The chassis has a tree growing through it now, but what I didn't know when I was younger is that, in one of the out buildings, he had all the parts to build a complete Model A.  Now a headlight or such I can probably move by my lonesome.  The body, though?  Not a chance in Hell.  (And I don't actually know if the engine is assembled or in more mobile pieces.  There never seems to be time to just look at things.)

If given the ability to move heavy things, there are other things I'd want to move too, but getting that thing --actually getting it-- it would . . .
It's indescribable.  It would overshadow anything else I can think of save the tractors (which my sister is theoretically looking into options for.)  I would be grateful forever.

And I'd learn how to build a car.  And I'd say sappy things to my grandfather at the cemetery (movies have taught me that this is required), and then I don't know what I'd do.  Maybe find someone who would appreciate it.  Maybe actually get my licence.  (Though that likely involves a lot of therapy, since I have a phobia level fear of driving.  My reaction time isn't that bad, but I'm completely terrified that I'll kill someone.)

~ * plants * ~

Who wants to transplant rhubarb?   Who wants to transplant an entire blueberry patch at the worst possible stage of the blueberry life-cycle without any earth moving equipment save shovels?


Digging is hard work that takes a lot of time, dirt is heavy, this is a really bad idea.  Horrendously stupid.  I'm going to need help to pull it off.

There are other plants too, I suppose.  They're not incredibly difficult problems though.

For example, there's no possible way to move the willow or butternut (and nowhere to move them too) but given the lack of mowing all spring there are doubtless small children of each that could be transplanted with relative ease.  Likewise there are probably some flowers in various places probably.

Nothing else on the level of work or stupidity require to move a blueberry patch in July.

And that pretty much covers it.

That's what I could use help with.

 ● Moving stuff that can be held.
 ● Moving stuff that's car like in scope.
 ● Transplanting plants.

If you think you could show up and help with any of that, contact me (cpw [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com) and we'll see if our schedules can be made to align.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Need help: accurate and reasonably precise measurements of Duplo bricks

~ Background ~

So, for some ungodly reason, I decided to get the 30 day Alibre Design free trial.

This was, for the record, a horrible idea.  Right now depression is bad, I'm having trouble with the vitally important eat/drink/sleep trifecta, and since I'm not about to buy a $1,000 or $2,000 licence (depending on the version) I've basically saddled myself with sense of "If I don't do ¡Everything! in 30 29 days I'm an failure!"

(Yes, I did make an effort to indicate that "everything" is getting double exclamation.)

I . . . may not be the best at making decisions that are conducive to a non-catastrophic state of mind.

But it's just . . . I like Alibre.  With some exceptions here or there it's exactly how I would design a 3d modeling.  It's like a perfect fit.

And I've been having design ideas that I'd like to do more than just write about, since that comes with the constant caveat: "Of course this serves no practical purpose now, but if I ever get into 3d modeling again, maybe I could do something with this."

~ The issue at hand ~

  Short version:
It's a lot harder to get the specifications of Duplo bricks than it is for Lego bricks.  The dimensions that aren't easily derived are the studs on top (height and outer diameter) and the tubes on bottom (inner diameter, outer diameter), and the size of the splines that make the wall actually wide enough to hold the studs.  (Most of the wall is Lego-wall thickness to allow for compatibility with Lego studs)

Obviously knowing a radius is as good as knowing a diameter, and also some things can be derived if others are known.  Knowing stud outer diameter will allow one to calculate the spline size, or vice versa.  Stud outer diameter should allow calculations tube outer diameter (in theory, at least.)
  Long version:

The basic Lego and Duplo patents expired ages ago.  It's why Lego keeps on making new specialty bricks (it creates new, non expired, patents) and why Lego is so into stuff that's under copyright* (Superheroes, Disney princesses, a thousand original Lego IPs) these days.

Thus a thousand companies build Lego and Duplo compatible system bricks and don't even need to file off the serial numbers.

However, Duplo bricks don't get the same attention to detail outside of of the clone manufacturing centers.

Lego specifications can be found all over the internet.

Duplo not so much.

Now, Some dimensions of Dplo bricks can be worked out pretty easily by comparison to Legos.  The standard Duplo bricks are twice as high, wide, and long as Lego bricks, for example.  The short ones are the same width and height as the standard ones, but only as high as a single standard Lego brick.

Other things are harder.

The studs (round things on top, hollow cylinders in this case) are not simple multiples of Lego stud sizes.  Their height, inner diameter, outer diameter, and wall thickness are all unclear.  However the tubes under a regular Lego (which have known sizes) fit inside the the studs so we can thus work out inner diameter.  The wall thickness can be found from subtraction once one has the outer diameter.

Thus for the studs, the missing dimensions are height and outer diameter.

The tubes underneath have similar stuff going on, albeit with less to reduce things.

The height is a simple calculation in theory.  It's a Lego stud height less than all the way to the bottom.  The inner and outer diameter not so much.

If we assume similar construction practices to Lego bricks than the inner diameter will be equal to the stud outer diameter and the outer diameter can likewise be calculated once the stud outer diameter is know.

It is not clear that those are good assumptions.

So, for the tubes on the bottom, the missing dimensions are inner diameter and outer diameter.

~ conclusion ~

If anyone has superior google-fu, prior knowledge, or Duplo bricks + really good calipers:

I would be really appreciative if you could tell me these dimensions (plus any others you feel like sharing) of Duplo bricks:

The outer diameter of the studs on top.  The height of the  studs on top.  The outer diameter of the tubes on the bottom.  The inner diameter of the tubes on the bottom.  Anything else that you think one needs to know to create Duplo compatible objects.  (Primarily bricks.)

~ Footnote ~
~ (on copyright law vs patent law) ~

* Copyright law is fundamentally flawed and this is, in large part, due to corporations wanting to have stuff in perpetuity while simultaneously saying, "Fuck You!" to the people who actually made the fucking stuff in the first place as well as the entire extended family and circle of friends + acquaintances of those people.

Short version:
Patent law is designed to balance the importance of creators getting what they're due with the competing interests of the common good of society in general and the people within society in particular.

Copyright law is designed to make Disney (and others of their ilk) richer than God.  I know that, as a classicist, I'm supposed to say, "Rich as Croesus" but the truth is that Croesus couldn't even imagine this kind of wealth.
~ Giraffe ~

When we asked for the location of the AMC at Assembly Row (which was a field of dirt before they put in the Orange Line stop, but a mass transit stop is like really good irrigation and fertilization: It makes commerce grow with a vengeance) we were told, "Around the corner right by the giant Lego giraffe," or something to that effect.

All this time later I still snap photos when possible.  (It's been in multiple open threads at Ana Mardoll's because of that.)

Why is it here?  It's made out of Duplo bricks.  (Which makes sense, it would take eight times as many Lego bricks to do the exact same thing.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Nevy Longbottom (Trans inclusive Harry Potter AU)

It's established in Harry Potter that the chosen one is in fact chosen by Lord Voldemort himself.  (Chrome knows how to correctly spell "Voldemort" but still regards tuatara as too new on the scene to deserve spellcheck recognition.)

If Voldy had instead tried and failed to kill option two (there were only two options), Neville Longbottom would have had a scar in the shape of a tsan (ϟ) on his head.  This interests me because Neville is very much not Harry and thus as story about him probably wouldn't be:
Rich jock breaks rules, commits "unforgivable" acts that are supposed to land him in prison for the rest of his life, does not in fact get a life sentence (or any sentence), learns he enjoys torturing people, is repeatedly lauded as a hero (eventually in a way that sticks), and finally goes on to live a happy life.
I don't pretend to know precisely what it would be, but we can at least know what it wouldn't.

And so this happened.  Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings [Links: comment not on this topic (which contained initial footnote), main comment, the thing I forgot to put into the main comment.]

The footnote that started it:
* I suddenly wonder about the alt universe where Neville was the Boy Who Lived but just as quickly my interest wanes when I realize how what happened to his parents would almost certainly change.

Harry and Neville were both profoundly shaped by the fates of their parents.

If, somehow, Neville was being protected by Lily and James and they died for him instead of Harry, then the broad strokes would remain the same and the characters, while obviously different, could be largely intact.

[Splitting off into its own post.]

Ok, so, Harry Potter AU (in which the main character is trans because I just bumped into the heart's desire mirror, which I'd totally forgotten about, and "I saw a girl that looked so much like me" is way too tempting.)

First book:           Neville Longbottom and the . . .
Second book:     Neville Nevy Longbottom and the . . .
Rest of series:                    Nevy Longbottom and the . . .

Dumbledore guessed that Snape had heard part of the prophecy and warned four members of The Order of the Phoenix that their two babies could be in unspeakable danger.  In order to to avoid losing all four members, it was decided that two (Lily and James Potter) would look after both babies while in the most powerful form of magical hiding possible while the other two (Frank and Alice Longbottom) continue to fight the war.

When the rat betrays (Seriously?  The one who could turn into a rat was a betrayer.  What the actual fuck?  Rats are awesome animals with an undeservedly bad rep) Lily and James manage to hide Harry and are about to hide Neville when in walks Voldemort (who had always assumed it was Harry and wasn't even looking for Neville) Voldemort assumes Harry is the baby, scene plays out as in canon.

Neville is the boy who lived.  Harry is the boy who happened to be hidden in a crawlspace at the time.

Since this is when Snape turns on Voldy, they quickly learn that Voldy and co are after Harry.  Thus Asshole Dumbledore still sticks Harry with evil-family.  Neville goes to grandmother.

When the Voldamovement collapses, it's revealed that it was baby Neville who broke Voldemort.

Harry is still rich with a massive extended "family you choose" waiting to meet him and support him.  Harry is still ideally suited to be a "What the fuck is up with this game?" star.

Neville gets the fame and associated revenge plots.

Neville's fame means that canon protagonists know about Neville's parents from the start.  Harry shows Neville the Mirror of Erised before even trying with Ron (and doesn't try with Ron because, while Neville can see his own parents he can't see Harry's.)

Neville sees girl-Neville with parents.  Hasn't admitted to self to wanting that.  Still uses male pronouns.  Doesn't mention the "girl" bit to Harry.

Neville and Harry continue to go see mirror.  Neville's attitude on rule breaking lessens as a result because breaking the rules lets him see his parents.

When Dumbledore reveals the nature of the mirror, Neville has hard questions to ask about his[?] identity. Does not ask them of Dumbledore.

Goes to McGonagall.  Hugely good idea because it turns out that Minerva McGonagall was born Mars McGonagall and knows exactly what Neville is going through.

After talking to Neville Minerva is reasonably confident that Neville is a trans girl, but privately educates Neville in other options, and also decides that its past time she implemented some gender education.  She doesn't have the power to do it school wide, but she can for her house.

(She makes sure Neville is ok with this, since there's potential for mortifying embarrassment given that Neville is the reason she made the decision.  The winning argument is: "There are probably other kids just like you, and I want to help them too.")

Book involves Neville both coming to terms with being trans* and coming to terms with breaking the rules sometimes being the right thing.  Also defeating Voldemort the body sharer.

Slythrin doesn't lose the house cup, it's a tie.  And it isn't a "I surprise you at the last minute, fuck you 1/4 of my school" tie.  Students are confused about why it's a tie, and they don't get an answer until assembly, but it's not a "Let you think you won to set up for the emotional gut punch" thing.

Yeah, last minute heroics above and beyond the call of studenhood-duty deserve credit, but the bait and switch of the real books is BS.

- - -

Book ends with Minerva (she uses the more personal name when being an advocate for trans* students, btw) talking with Neville's grandmother and Neville stopping being Neville.  Very end is deciding on a new name and finally starting to publicly use correct pronouns.  Newly renamed Nevy will still get internal pronouns wrong sometimes, because it's not like flipping a switch (at least it wasn't for me) but the book ends with transition.

- - -

Side plot to first book:

Members of other houses start coming to attend Minerva's regular "learn about gender" sessions.  Originally they were in Gryffindor common room, which meant that as soon as others started coming the password would need to be changed after each one.

Eventually moved to a more neutral (and larger) venue.

Sessions are mandatory for Gryffindor, optional for all other students (and teachers, and anyone else who happens to be in or near the building.)

Snape isn't openly opposed; Flitwick thinks it's a great idea and started to do a similar thing (at a different time, you can attend both) for people who want a more academic approach (Minerva has an informal approach, initially surprising anyone who has her as a teacher, and with enough emotion in it that you really, viscerally, understand why she's Gryffindor); Sprout is disappointed that this stuff doesn't go without saying but, since it apparently doesn't, she's all for having any Hufflepuff who wants to go to learn more.

While Snape maintains sneering ambivalence, Flitwick has started working closely with Minerva to make sure that what he's presenting is up to date and not, you know, an unfortunate result of transphobia in the places he does his research.

Sprout originally had no involvement on the subject but the good that Minerva's sessions have done for Hufflepuff students made her realize that "You can be anything you want to be" isn't as good of an approach as she thought because students may not know what they want to be, may not know they're allowed to want it, and/or may not know that it's actually a thing one can be.

Sprout's time with Minerva dealing with the subject has a very specific, narrow, and important focus: She only wants to know what stops students from being themselves and how to create an environment where they are no longer impeded.  She gives no shits about learning more about gender, all of her gender related shits are reserved for making sure that her students are best able to pursue the gender things about which they give shits.

- - -

Gender acceptance at Hogwarts in the first Nevy book:

From the start Sprout's Hufflepuff would accept any trans* student, but the student would need to have first figured everything out (including self-acceptance and the bravery to come out) themselves.  Eventually Sprout starts efforts to reduce the self-directed self-study workload this put on students because "being yourself" shouldn't be a massive undertaking you do without any guidance.

McGonagall's Gryffindor was originally . . . theoretically neutral but when oppression is systemic being neutral is impossible, instead attempts at neutrality end up supports of hostility.

Neville (not Nevy yet) coming to her was the final impetus she needed to actually do something.

The gender stuff isn't part of the curriculum, and part of being "Minerva" when addressing it is to shed some of the stigma associated with being "the strict teacher" since this is an area where she feels students are better served by seeing her in a very different way.

As such, she is dragging the house to the front of the acceptance pack.

Flitwick's Ravenclaw was originally theoretically neutral but see the previous on why that's not neutral in practice.  For McGonagall that theoretical neutrality was a calculated stance.  For Flitwick it was because he'd never even thought about it.

Now that he has thought about it, Flitwick wants to be a good ally, is agitating for adding a gender and sexuality class to the required curriculum, and is doing everything he can to move Ravenclawe to the front of the acceptance pack alongside Minerva's Gryffindor.

Snape's Slytherin is . . . passionately ambivalent.

Snape himself isn't going to waste effort going against the other three house heads on this when he really, truly, does not care in the least.

Even without caring his first impulse was and is to look down on all of the trans* kids, but one of his favorite students, a soon to graduate previously-presumed-girl (who reminds him so much of himself), has been attending Minerva's gender sessions religiously, is way happier since starting to do so, and is showing signs of being maybe a trans boy and definitely being a trans* something.  It's not enough to make Snape an ally, but it is enough to make him ignore that first impulse more often than not.

Slytherin in general is so much more about tradition than it is about any of its stated values, so of course there's massive bigotry.  On the other hand, a couple of the more powerful and socially connected bullies turned out to be pro trans*-rights and are using their influence to push in the opposite direction (while others trying to use the high levels of ambient bigotry to undermine the pro-trans* students' power bases.)

So, basically, the hate and acrimony is going both ways.

§ ⁂ §

Annnd I totally forgot a really important part.

Since Hermoine learns about Nevy's parents much earlier, she's still in a muggle mindset when she does. She's thinking trauma and therapy and maybe medication.

Nevy (at the time still identifying as Neville) becomes incredibly interested in muggle science and medicine as a result, and the respect for muggles that comes out of it has the effect of making Nevy and co. much more likely to call wizards on their shit regarding muggle treatment.

And interested in changing the culture.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

I might --possibly-- be back-ish . . . maybe.

Completely removing the pressure of trying to write has freed up some of my ability to write.

It's also removed the endless frustration and the feeling of failure that comes from not succeeding in writing when trying to write.  (For obvious reasons.)

All of that is good.  In addition to the ideas for video games involving trans-affirming eldritch sex cults, I've got:
  •  some superhero ideas
  • a game idea that was my response to a book (a real book by a real publisher coming soon to a shithole near you) that's taking aim at everyone who cares about safe spaces, trigger warnings, microagressions, and so forth by asking "What if . . . Outlaws with GUNS!?  What then you spoiled, coddled, ultra-lib special snowflakes?"  With my response being along the lines of "Then action, stealth, relationship building, base building, and social game in which 'only the strong survive' is denounced as Really Fucking Evil by genderqueer protagonist and co," instead of "A book about a generic asshole being so intolerant to people the right wing authors don't like that he can only be "redeemed" (I use the term loosely) by saving them from an implausible situation in action-movie style."
  • Two ponies in human form having a conversation in Latin while one tries to convince the other not to (attempt to) unleash magic on mean high school students.
  • Nevy Longbottom -- Idea for Harry Potter AU in which it wasn't Harry who broke Voldomort and Neville (the only alternative for the prophecy) turned out to be a trans girl.
So that's a pretty good haul especially considering recent standards.

Does this mean I'm back to form, my hiatus of unknown length lasted a mere three weeks, and all is good and right with the world?

Not even fucking close.

- ~ * ´ ⁂ ` * ~ -

I'm having real trouble with the whole "eat drink sleep" thing.

I have an eye problem that they basically never check for because I found out about another eye problem they basically never check for while researching for a story, for which I had all the symptoms.  In the process of checking for that (don't have it) we found what I do have, and while the solution is really simple (prescription reading and distance glasses, use them even though the usual tests say you don't need the reading glasses) it's not cheap to get two new pairs of glasses (especially since the styles that let me feel like me are so unpopular as to be mostly discontinued), which means that "I'm not financially screwed" became "I'm not even sure whether I'm financially screwed or not."

In addition I lost my food benefit and, while I might be able to get by without it, I don't think I was actually supposed to have lost my food benefit which means a massive game of bureaucracy I might not have the san points for, and that's hard enough when I am capable of the eat-drink-sleep trifecta, which, as noted, I am not.

And that's just a random smattering of distractions.

When it comes to writing:
 -- All of the writing I've done recently is new stuff, no continuation of existing things.
 -- ~ I cannot begin to describe how much I want to get back to old stories and continue them, so the above is really fucking annoying.
 -- Most of it is what I tag as "let me sum up": not actual fiction, just description of potential fiction
 -- ~ The one exception isn't very good and, more importantly, the process of writing it was more about looking up Latin words (my vocab has completely atrophied at this point) than actually crafting a scene/narrative/story/thing.
 -- Any attempt to write (instead of completely ignoring the very concept of writing until a creative spurt comes out) might render me incapable of writing again and, regardless of whether or not it does, will restart the whole "frustration, failure, feelings of despair" cycle.

And, you know, stuff.

- ~ * ´ ⁂ ` * ~ -

But I have written stuff, and I doesn't feel right to hold back just to keep people from getting their hopes up or some such, so I'll be posting that.

Still the idea that I'll be posting here even though I won't be trying to post here is kind of . . . strange.

Which, itself, is a sign of how far things have come from the beginning since this place was originally made solely to hold things that I'd written in the comments elsewhere.  (Mind you back then I wasn't actively avoiding trying to post here.)

I don't know, but we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Six potential games involving a trans affirming eldritch sex cults

(Massive) Meta note:
This doesn't mean that I'm back.  It doesn't mean that I'm not, either.

Two days after giving up on trying to write stuff, I was reading Ana Mardoll's twitter and I came up with what follows.  The only changes have been to fix the mangling of having to fit all this into tweet form.

I think that removing the pressure of trying to write is at least partially responsible for my creativity coming out to play, but that puts me in a kind of strange position because if I say, "Ok, I can keep doing this," then the pressure would be back on.  (Right?)

It's also not entirely clear that removing the pressure is enough.

One spurt of creativity is infinitely better than no spurt, but one spurt in six days (which is what it's been now) is most definitely not enough to base conclusions on.  It's one data point.  With one data-point it's impossible to even guess an interval on spurts.  It's obviously not two days (the distance between giving up and having the spurt) since if that were the case I'd have had two more spurts by now.

Maybe it's one spurt per month.  Maybe it's better.  Who knows.  If this doesn't mean I'm back, though, at least I'm giving Stealing Commas a swan song with this.  (Random, true, note.  Swans don't have swan songs.  Think of the idea of "swan songs" as the pre-medieval bestiary version of the "beasts in medieval bestiaries are entirely divorced actual beasts" bullshit.

Ok, onto stuff.

Background is not necessary, but it could be useful, so I shall stick it in a footnote.*  The short version is that there is a game in which the horrible wrongness of the eldritch sex cult --the part that's supposed to make them horrifing enough to justify the game being in the horror genre in the first place-- is that . . . it's trans affirming.

This led to Ana saying:
Mind you, given 2018 right now "eldritch sex cult that affirms transgender people" sounds pretty awesome.

Like. Is there an application I need to fill out, or....?
My mind was still on "video game", which therefore led to this:

It also seems like it could be used as the premise for various awesome games in a variety of genres.

Just going to make a random list of things that pop into my head.

Game idea one
(tweet one, two, answer)

You're the leader of a small trans affirming eldritch sex cult and your congregation has grown too large to comfortably meet in your living room.

Navigate various hazards in pursuit of your ultimate goal:
A brick and mortar church.

Hazards include:
-- Local Zoning Ordinances
-- Bigots on the city council
-- Unfair Landlords
-- Trolls on the Internet
-- The difficulty of organizing a successful bake sale
-- Jerks who protest at your bake sale
-- And More(TM)

[Question I was asked:]
I like your game.  Can it have zero guns please?
Only game idea three would have guns.  I wouldn't even consider guns in this one.

[Suggestion from Ana:]
Also, when you do get the bake sale organized, the members keep sneaking off to smootch and paint each other's nails.

Game idea two
(Tweet 1, 2, 3, 4)

(This idea sticks with the horror genre from the game that started the discussion.)

The protagonist is a member of a seemingly ordinary and mainstream church.  Then ne stumbles upon the terrible truth.  Now it's not just nir life, and possibly soul, on the line.

Can ne save the innocent members of the trans affirming eldritch sex cult that nir church has secretly been torturing and brainwashing?  Can ne prevent completion of the ritual to summon an unstoppable army that will "cleanse" the earth with their fiery swords?

Will ne finally accept that the gender binary doesn't fit nem and realize that ne would really find it quite fulfilling to become a member the trans affirming eldritch sex cult (provided ne can save the cult, and the world, of course)?

~ ~ ~

Run, hide, unravel twisted conspiracies that are unspeakably evil, sneak, hide some more, prevent angels from killing off much of the world's population, save the trans affirming eldritch sex cult from the religious culture warriors, and more in [game name], if you can survive.

Game idea three

The [evil empire] has launched a massive attack on all worlds where [trans affirming eldritch sex cult] isn't outlawed.  It's up to one (trans lesbian) grizzled ex-space marine and her (genderqueer) Cleric of Tentacles sidekick to save the galaxy with guns and magic.

Game idea four
(tweet 1, 2)

Dating sim.

"Trans affirming eldritch sex cult" positively screams, "Dating Sim!"

Naturally it will be queer as all fuck. A major subplot being the the player character getting over hang ups and prejudices via regular conversation's with the cult's wise elder.

The cult's wise elder is entirely asexual aromantic herself, but you don't have to actually be sexual to agree with the tenets of the trans affirming eldritch sex cult.  (She, naturally, has had a lot of alloromantic and/or allosexual people she's cared about in her life.)

Game idea five
(tweet 1, 2, 3, 4)

Having successfully summoned the dread gods, your trans affirming eldritch sex cult has been saddled with the difficult task of running the new theocracy.  This naturally requires a great deal of work.

Honestly, it would have been easier if world governments hadn't surrendered.  While others have easy tasks, like writing loophole free laws to ensure protections for minority religions, you got the hard job: writing the new standard high school sex ed textbook.

In pursuit of this task you will need to travel all over the world, meet interesting people, learn about various cultures, and hopefully not be an appropritive jackass.

Also: the text must be grammatically correct and error free.

Good luck.

~ ~ ~

It would be a combination of a visual novel and some kind of advanced text parsing thing, and likely way too ambitious to not fuck up in the implementation.  (Both technically and culturally.)

And, remember: Eldritch.  Textbooks that don't acknowledge (divine) mollusks as full people could make the gods irate.

Game idea six
(tweet 1, 2)

You are the chief architect of the trans affirming eldritch sex cult, and therefore tasked with designing accessible churches, community centers, and so forth accounting for a wide variety of patron needs, and making full use of the strange geometries involved.

~ ~ ~

"Yes, Möbius strips are fun, architect person, but the kids in the daycare will have enough trouble learning the difference between their left and their right without them switching every time they run down the main hall."

~ ~ ~

I never could get this idea into a tweet well, but it's important to remember how sound carries.  (Which would vary depending on the geometry involved.  For a very simple example: sound would dissipate more quickly, with respect to distance, in hyperbolic space.)

There are broadly applicable reasons for this (if you've got a sermon going on for adults at the same time kids elsewhere are doing less sermony stuff, you don't want noise from either to infringe upon the other) but also possibly (though not necessarily) ones specifically related to it being a sex cult.

If sex is considered sacred, and church is a place for sacred things, then it is not unreasonable (though neither is it necessary) to believe that there might be boinking (or just loud smooching during the previously mentioned nail painting sessions) going on in churches being designed.

A lot of people are awkward regarding such things, so you probably want to design things with discretion in mind.  This would include things like investing in soundproofing for any chapel or [whatever] in which potentially noisy rites might be performed.

It would probably also include floorplan concerns.  Specifically: if seeing someone walking down a given hallway means "Hey, they're on the way to [physical affection]," then congratulations: you've just excluded all of your awkward members from participation.  Don't be that architect.

⁂ ⁂

And that's all there was.  (Actually, more than all there was due to the last section before the break.)

I did also think about a management game where you're overseeing a larger organization.

There's all sorts of decisions involved in running a multi-church denomination and while I know precisely zip about what that stuff is, I can imagine or just make up things.

An obvious example would be how is the budget divided up in general (e.g. how much of the budget goes to maintenance?) and how are the resulting divisions then allocated (e.g. is it more important to do upkeep on the air conditioning in building X, or the plumbing in building Y; or if you do both, how much goes to each?)

Maintenance is the example I chose, but the budget also includes the soup kitchen, any outings, community outreach, helping members who are having financial woes, paying workers decent wages, maybe paying for guest speakers to come, getting Tentaclemass presents for all of the kids (that way you know none are going without), all of the regular bills (rent, power, water, heat, so forth), and so much more.

Then there's scheduling.  You don't want a given location to simultaneously attempt to host a wedding, a funeral, and bingo.  Someone needs figure out what can be done when and, since I'm assuming the game will be single player, that someone is you.

And lets say you've got an awesome speaker.  (Making up an example on the spot, might not be all that good.)  An lobster boat captain who wrote a kickass book about what it was like to come out as female to her crew, her family, the other captains she knew, and those she did business with.  Given the time she can spend, she can only speak at one or two of your locations, though.  How do you decide which ones?

Do you just pick the ones that have had to wait the longest since the last awesome speaker?  Do you ask the various locations to say what they think about how well the speaker fits their congregations?  Do you arrange for carpooling so that people who really want to listen to her but aren't in the right place can get a ride over?  (In this case you'd want her two locations to be chosen to minimize how far people not at the location would have to drive to get to at one.)  Do you set up a video camera where she is speaking and TVs + speakers where she isn't so that everyone can see at the same time?

Moving away from scheduling, what about when you're ready to open a new location?

Do you build a place from the ground up thus having all of your needs built in, do you buy a place that's a good price for the location and modify, or do you buy Gothic cathedral with really cool ambiance (but requires even more costly renovation because it's not accessible and it's made of fucking stone)?

And staffing, and delegation, and . . . blah.

And maybe getting tax exempt status.

* [] Ok, so, background.  Which, as I said at the open, doesn't actually matter.

Ana came across a game called Lust for Darkness and here's xer account of that discovery:
Me, browsing Steam: " this an interesting horror game premise or just transphobic garbage?"


Sigh. Ok, I checked. It's the latter.


[TW: transphobia]

Game: "an eldritch sex cult!"

Me: "Yes!"

Game: "who modified their bodies in horrifying ways for pleasure!"

Me: "er...uh, like lobster claws?"

Game: "here's pictures of women with dicks and men with vaginas!"



Me: "Did they seriously not KNOW, because--"

Review: "The game repurposes and twists the trans symbol into a demonic symbol."

Me: "WELP."
Someone responded with:
Not only is it transphobic, but it’s also just really weak horror. I mean...that’s the best you’ve got? I’ve seen more upsetting body horror in old Looney Tunes shorts.
Which led to Ana saying this:

I was like. "Is...Is this supposed to scare me because like?"

The horror isn't just transphobic in premise (it is), it seems to actually require the player to be transphobic in order for it to work!


Mind you, given 2018 right now "eldritch sex cult that affirms transgender people" sounds pretty awesome.

Like. Is there an application I need to fill out, or....?
Which has brought us back around to where this post started.

So that's the background.

Largely aside, the writing style of the mentioned review is sometimes quite fun:
Taking clear inspirations from Amnesia: The Dark Descent and amateur pornography, the pre-release demo for Lust For Darkness is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a video game.
It reminds me of a time years ago when I encountered an ad for one of the Michael Bay Transformers movies, which informed me that the that movie included "acting" and "directing" (after saying something to the effect of "It's got great effects!")

It was true.  There was indeed acting and directing going on the movie.  Barely, but it was there.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I don't think I can do this anymore

In many ways stopping posting here is the stupidest thing I could do.  That construction, however, assumes that it's a matter of choice.  I don't think it is.  I don't think I can go on.

Before anyone jumps to all the wrong conclusions:
1) I remind you that I opened up by saying that I was talking about posting here.  If say, I'm giving up, and I think I am, you need not worry for my physical safety.
2) This is the sort of thing where stopping doesn't prevent one from starting again.  Unless blogger gets very angry with me, Stealing Commas will still be here in a week or a month or a year.

When I first tried to write this post I found that I was crying too much to see the words I was typing, and my ragged sobbing breathing was shaking me so much I couldn't hit the right keys anyway.

Every time I've tried to write something about why I don't think I can do this anymore, that threatens to start again.


You know how money is always such a stressful and emotional thing for me?  That doesn't have that problem.  The realization just made me laugh.  Thinking about how I'm financially fucked is actually calming right now.  It's cold and clinical and emotionally distant and it doesn't hurt.

What was over a thousand dollars behind is now less than half that ($476.32), but most of the improvement is a result of money that I should be saving for the next major non-monthly bill, so it's one of those things where even if I had every penny needed to pay my bills right this second, I'd still be having problems in perpetuity because I'd be using money meant for the next bill to pay this one.

And you know what: I don't fucking care.  I'm screwed, there's no hope in sight.  Doesn't bother me in the least.

And ideally speaking I'd really want $1351.69 before July 1st (this includes the four hundred and seventy whatever above) which normally would have me all stressed out because deadlines, and if they're not met then deals become retroactively worse and --

I give no shits.


So, yesterday I was trying to write a post, and stuff happened, and it went in bad directions, and I stayed up like five hours later than I generally should when I'm one of those people where an hour or two can really fuck me up, and it was about a lot things and I have no idea if I;m making workds right now because I;m holding my eeyes closed to keep myself from crying.

For reasons I wanted to look into what was happening around when I brougje my anckle.  Reslearch and fact checking for the post, basically.

It was a horrible tiume in so many ways.  Trump had just been inaacuyrated, my sister;s children had been taken away, she was dforced from her home, everything wasl failling apart, J had money problems then too.  My computer broke.

i qas so fucking positive about myself and my life..  In the first fifteen days of february I wrote two articles, multiple fiction fragments, a thing about a hypothetical art project I'll never do but it makde me feel good to think about it, and other stuff as well.  (A couple of non-fiction narratives that were utter shit, a meta post that was full of hopr, so on.)

I;d also dome alote of the prep work needed to clean my house,, which I'd been planning on douing for years, and I had so many plans about what I was going to do in the uear to come which, rather unsually for me, were simultaniously realistic and completely within my mental and physical capacity at the time.

then, when I was moving the first bit of stuff grom the room where I;d sorted int a stack of said stuff into the pace where it actually belonged, I slipped on the top step of the basement stairs.  I swear I hit every fucking step on the way down.

When I came to a stop on the basement floor, the pain was absolutely indescriablabe.

Everything changed after that.

It wasn't just that my ankle broke in three places.  It wasn't just being off my hormones for fucking months screwing with my mood, it wasn't just how all of the prepert work I;d done for cleaning instead turned into things that made the mess so much worse when I had to shove everything aside to make paths big enough for crutching around.

It wasn't just how my living space got smaller and smaller as I was unable to do things as simple as pick something up and put it back where it went.

it was that all of that energy and positivity and ability to actually get fucking shit done god damned died.

And I never really realized it, but it's been a year and almost four months now, and I still haven;lt recovered.

Haven't recovered, and don't seem likely to.  Evertthing just gets worse.

So I think I;m just giving the fuck up.  My plan for the rest of today is to grab a bite to eat, go to my bedm curl up, try not to cry, drape some random article of clothing over my eues, shirts and skirts work well, as a makeshift blindfold so the sun bering out wonlt hinder me, and try to fall asleep.  Let darkness take me, make the waking world go fuck off somewhere on itls oen and not god damned bother me.

My plan for tomorrow and after is to survive.  I've always been good a that.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Still here, an introduction to fork theory, and all of the stuff that's hindering my ability to do the things I want to be doing.

My internet was indeed turned back on.  That's good and such and I thought I should let you all know.

Yesterday I got a bunch of food, which is also good because eating is important and I haven't been doing the best job of it given the limited options that I had on hand.

The whole plan to try to get back into writing by starting with really easy stuff hasn't really begun.

At this point fork theory might be a good thing to talk about.

Before I do that, obligatory "Just because I agree with one thing . . ." note:
I have read "The Spoon Theory" and "The Forks Model of Disability" and, so far as I know, nothing else written by the creators of the theory/model/metaphor/things.  My use of their theories should not be taken as an endorsement of their other views, which I don't actually know anyway.

Spoon theory, a model by metaphor of disability and chronic illness, is pretty widely known and widely applicable.  The reason it's called that, for those who don't know the origin story, is that the person who first described it initially did so using actual physical spoons as tactile representations.

The spoons represent the ability to do stuff.  Do a thing, spend a spoon.

They're finite.  When you run out spoons you can't verb anymore.  You're spent.

If one is out of spoons they can't do stuff, if a low-spoon individual doesn't ration spoons carefully they end up fucked over.

Spoon theory has the spoons replenish themselves, usually over time.  So, for example, one might talk about waking up with some number of spoons each day.

The creator of spoon theory, Christine Miserandino, wrote:
I think [spoon theory] isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness.
which has proven true and is why it's so widespread and well known.

However, given the wide range of disabilities and illnesses, there are invariably things where modifications could make it better for understanding the specific case in question.

Thus fork theory was born.  (Fork theory was named to compliment spoon theory, and did not involve the use of physical forks as tactile representations at its time of conception.)

Fork theory is for describing situations in which "the ability to do stuff" can be actively replenished.

Much of the time the forks of fork theory are treated just like the spoons of spoon theory in that you need to spend utensils to do stuff, which leaves you with that many fewer utensils and that much less ability to do stuff.

The difference is while spoons are always like that, for example:
Doing X will take three spoons, and then I won't have those three spoons to use on other things.
forks will sometimes work differently, for example:
Doing X will take three forks, but give me five back, so I'll actually be able to do more stuff if I spend the three forks now.
(Worth noting that the two ideas are not mutually exclusive.  A lot of different things go into being able to do things, and it's possible for some act spoon-like while others act fork-like.)

A really good example of a fork-gaining activity is eating when you're low on calories.  If you're not getting enough calories that will both leave you with low energy and fuck with your head, both of which make it harder to do things.  Unlike low energy due to chronic illness, though, there's an extremely straightforward solution: eat.

Given that you probably didn't set out to be undernourished, there's probably complications involved, but if you are somehow able to expend some portion of your limited ability to eat such that you're no longer wanting for calories, you will get back more than you put in.

The spoon theory doesn't really have a way to describe that sort of situation, because that's not the kind of thing it was created to describe.  (Unlike being low on calories, lupus has no cure.)

Anyway, important points from fork theory:

(Let's stick with the "three in / five out" example.)

First off, that requires you to have three to put in.  If you've only got two then the thing that you know would make things better for you and allow you to do more stuff is outside of your ability to do and instead of being beneficial to you in that moment it's more being one of the tortures of Tantalus: exactly what you need, so close you can almost taste it, yet forever out of reach.

Second, it's not always a clear and deterministic as that.  Three in five out seems like and obvious deal to take (we'll get to why that's not true later) but when it is instead, "eh, maybe you'll get five back and end up with two more than you started, or maybe you'll get none and thus have three fewer than when you started," things get more complex.

Then there's the fact that even if the five out is definitely assured, you can't always see that or, if you can see it, you don't always believe it.

In discussions about depression one thing that's come from a lot of people is something that I've come to call the horizon effect (only the barest connection to the AI shortcoming of the same name.)  I don't think I made up the term, I think I adopted or adapted it from someone else.

Anyway, it comes from a visual metaphor.  There are some things you can see, and there are other things that are too far away and thus over the horizon.  A lot of people with depression, myself included, find some things that are close and present enough to influence the decision making of healthy people are hidden over the horizon and out of sight out of mind for us.

So you might see the cost of something (you have to give up three) while the benefit (you'll get five back) is over your personal horizon.  Or you might be well aware of the benefit intellectually, but unable to feel it emotionally.  So what you know "pay three, get five; net gain of two" is canceled out by what you feel "lose these precious three, then . . . all is sadness and loss forever."

And you end up acting on what you're feeling instead of what you know, and thus lose the opportunity to gain some forks.

I do believe we're at the fourth point now, so here goes:

People often prioritize what's important, what's urgent, or both.  Notice that no part of that includes "What will give them enough forks to make it through."

Say you've got four forks and you need to do urgent thing that takes three forks and important thing that takes two forks.

You start with urgent because, you know, it's urgent.  That takes three of your four forks.  You try to do important thing but since you only have one fork left and it needs two, you're screwed.

On the other hand, if you're paying attention to your forks you can do our three in \ five out thing.  You spend three of your four and then get five, making six. (4 – 3 + 5 = 6)  Do urgent thing and you've got three forks left.  (6 – 3 = 3)  Do important thing and you've finished your the stuff that needed to be done and have one fork left over.  (3 – 2 = 1)  Woo!, you win all the things.

Which is to say, the fork model encourages you to prioritize self care.

Finally, thing five: the fork model can be used to describe things that never fill up on their own and thus always require work to get a useful number of.

Really quick oversimplified recap of all that:

Spoons and forks both represent the ability to do things.  Depending on the situation this can be energy or willpower or motivation or . . . anything really.  In order to do things you need to spend spoons or forks.

When you run out, you've lost the ability to do shit.

You start with a given certain amount of spoons and that's all the spoons you'll have to work with until the replenish on their own (which then becomes your new start.)

Forks are things that may or may not self-replenish, but can be actively gained by doing certain things provided you have enough forks to do those things.

Knives are . . . not yet used in any theories I know of.

~ The short SHORT version ~

Or, really short:
  • you start with a set number of spoons and that only goes down as you use them
  • if you have enough forks you can invest them in things that will/may get you more forks

Ok, so now it's time to talk about why I put a massive section on fork theory in the middle of a post that's mostly just here to say that I still have internet and am, unfortunately, not producing stuff.

I know of so fucking many ways that I could gain forks, but I don't seem to have enough forks to do any of them, and it's really god damned frustrating.

Um . . . maybe that's not accurate.  That's how it feels.  I definitely know of some ways I could get more forks but never seem to be able muster the forks to make use of any of those ways.

There's also just stuff that needs to be done that, while I'm able to do it (no spoon or fork problems), takes time.  A pretty big backlog of stuff built up while I was being blah.  The fact that I'm still blah doesn't change that.

And, as I've probably noted somewhere, my depression has been out in force of late.

I could probably write a whole post on that, but I'm not sure it would be of a form that would be worth reading.

Also, money.  I so fucked things up there.

I was so focused on trying to pay down high interest debt while simultaneously not adding to it that I left myself in a situation where I have a bunch of credit but what I really fucking need is cash.

That's not all there was too it, my food money going into limbo played a big role, but if I had been thinking things through properly that could have been completely mitigated.  It was only because I was so focused on one thing and one thing only that it was able to make things as bad as it did.

Oh, and the next non-monthly bill has come around.  I'm now over a thousand dollars behind in getting bills paid.  (Here's a paypal link if you want throw money in my direction.)

Anyway, that all leads to stress, and stress make it hard to write, and thus it goes along with the depression and the lack of forks to explain why I'm not getting much of anything posted to Stealing Commas.

There were probably other things too, but I've spent most of the day trying to make this post and I also had a primary to vote in in the middle of this.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

And then chris the cynic forgot to pay her internet bill

So, as you may recall, I had a problem previously where my internet service was cancelled and I wasn't told it was canceled, and I did all of this crap to try to get it back, only to finally find out it had been cancelled, and then need to set up a new account, and finally need to wait several times longer than they said it would take for a completely unnecessary part to arrive because they refused to turn the service on until Fed Ex (or was it UPS?  Definitely not the postal service) said it they were delivering the part that day.

Anyway, that all happened.

One result of this is that I now have a completely different internet billing cycle I need to get used to.  Combine that fact with recent financial problems*, and you get a bill falling through the cracks.

Which may or may not be why I came home to find that I have no internet.  Paying 

Never mind, it specifically says that the payment I just made will result in service being reinstated, so that's good.

Anyway, what I was going to write was something along the lines of the fact that paying the past due amount was an important step even if the interruption in service was completely unrelated.  (Unlike last time, when it turned out that not paying, ever, would have worked out just as well.)

It says it should take no more than an hour.

We'll see.  These are, after all, the people who told me that, even in the worst of all possible worlds, it would take at the absolute most two days for the . . . completely unnecessary part to arrive.  It wasn't even close to two days.  That wouldn't be so much of a problem except for the fact that they refused to turn my service on until the day of completely unnecessary part's arrival.

So, if I'm gone for a bit, it probably has something to do with all of this.

This post was brought to you by Dunkin' Donuts free wi-fi.

* which I'm still pissed off at myself about because it's like the one time in all of history (well, my history at any rate) that a money problem this big was completely avoidable.  This shouldn't have happened.  If I'd been paying more attention I should have been able to easily avoid it in any of several different ways.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The shape of things to come (one hopes)

So, everyone who reads this probably knows most of how things currently are, though I still haven't written up a post on the bad news I got on the 16th of last month (which left my emotions in shambles and I don't expect to fully recover from any time soon.)

I'm stressed out, I'm behind on bills by a huge amount (though, I believe, still under a thousand dollars), my depression is coming out to play way too much, and I'm not writing.

That last bit is a really huge deal for me.  Being a storyteller is a part of who I am and when I can't do that it's like part of me is missing.  It's frustrating but that's such a small part of it.  I'm . . . listless, languishing without direction or purpose.  It's like I'm not . . . anything.  I can't put it into words, really.  Which is kind of fucked up given I'm a writer.

And I've been stuck in these fucking doldrums for ages.

So, I have the barest outline of something that might possibly be part of a plan.

Basically, I'm going to try setting everything to easy mode, making full use of cheat codes, and hoping that success will lead to more success, good feelings, getting back into the flow, and such, with the result that at some point I'll be able to function at the higher difficulty levels again

I'm going to go back to my internet roots, sort of, and just do the sort of rewrites and whatnot that no reasonable person would ever publish outside of the comment section.  And then I'm going to publish them here.

I got my start taking scenes from Left Behind and later Twilight, because I was following Fred Clark's decon of the first and Ana Mardoll's decon of the second.  I'm not doing either of those things right now.  (For different reasons: I've fallen out of reading Fred , though I really ought to start again; Ana isn't doing her Twilight decon anymore.)

Things like Skewed Slightly to the Left and Edith and Ben, respectively, are definitely not easy mode things.  Easy mode isn't crafting a coherent narrative of a high quality in opposition to an existing incoherent narrative of low quality, it's more, "Well I would have done this, this, and this differently, which results in this, which is honestly without redeeming characteristics of any kind, but it is at least different from what we all started with."

Easy mode is somewhere between cutting and pasting and adaptation.  A bit more than editing, vaguely related to paraphrasing (they're second cousins) and . . . it's the opposite of being about skill or craft.  (Or originality.)

But, in theory, it's really fucking easy and so should allow words to flow again, and once that starts the hope is that I can then switch back over to the other stuff.

So, as the title of this post suggests, I have some idea of what path this might lead us down.

As noted, I'm not following a decon of Twilight or Left Behind right now.  Nor anything else.

Unfortunately for anyone who is following me, at the moment I've mostly been reading a very specific subgenre of Equestria Girls fanfiction.  Which means that immediate results will probably be alternate versions of fan conceptions of hugely overblown high school angst centered on a unicorn in human form.


For reasons that I don't really understand when my depression flares up I tend to fixate on cartoon fanfiction.  Fighting the fixation would take effort that I already don't have and threaten make the "Start writing again" plan fail before it even got started.

That said, . . . one last section:

If the goal is to use really easy stuff to help me get to a place where I can do the normal stuff (and perhaps even the hard stuff), and it is, then the plan should eventually include things no longer being governed by a given fixation, which it does.

Returning to wholly original stories is probably the last step simply because there's absolutely no scaffold to hold me up there, before that, though, if things go well there ought to be a point where I'm not stuck on this one narrow topic.  Of course I plan to return to things like Twilight and Left Behind and Narnia, but I was also thinking that maybe I should branch out into new areas.

The Horse and His Boy (the Narnia book Ana just finished her decon of) was heavily inspired by One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) which is basically an anthology.  A bunch of short stories that can be grabbed for free online because of numerous public domain English translation.  That's sort of the perfect thing for someone who's trying to find her voice again by retelling existing stories in her own accent.

It occurs to me that that أَلْف لَيْلَة وَلَيْلَة is hardly the only collection of short fiction that's easily available for free online (nor does short fiction need to be in collections), and so perhaps people might possibly have recommendations for things I might do rewrites of when I've left the "just going with the flow of the current fixation" stage.

If so, please do share these recommendations, though I make no promises about anything.  It's by no means sure that this plan, such as it is a plan, will actually work.  How things go three or four stages down the line is equally unclear.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Aspirant on why he can beat Dee [and various non-story notes] (super-people)

[This was originally posted to my Patreon as an early access thing for the $5 tier.  It wasn't meant to be 1 year, 3 months, and 24 days early, but I've been kind of crap about moving stuff here, especially the things I intended to polish before posting here.]
[Aspirant and Dee previously appeared in Evil has standards, which happens to be the story of how this particular villian and hero (respectively) ended up on good terms with each other.]

"What is it?" Aspirant asked.

"Nothing," Dee said.

"Ok, that idea that all villains are socially inept is totally untrue," Aspirant said.  "I can read people just fine, thank you very much." He paused.  "Mind you there's a sizable contingent who think that makes me weird, so there may be a kernel of distorted truth behind the idea.

"Anyway, I can tell something is wrong," Aspirant said.

"I lost again," Dee said.

"As well you should have," Aspirant said.  "I'm older, wiser, bigger, and stronger.

"Strength we can work on, I've no doubt that by the time you're my age the wisdom gap will have long since closed, getting older will happen whether you want it to or not, so the only thing that's a real concern is 'bigger'.

"I think you're growth spurted out, kid," Aspirant said, "so unlike the other things you'll never be my equal on that one.  It just means you need to have a fighting style that takes into account some opponents having a longer reach.

"You're already fast, and that's good.  It'll help you quickly move through the area where I can hit you but you can't hit me, thus leaving less time your size puts you at a disadvantage."

Dee nodded, though she didn't seem to really believe it.

"Think about it like how you got hits in on the regular henchpeople.  Not only did most of them have a longer reach than you empty handed, they were using staves that increased their reach even more.  It's never been a problem for you there.

"Also, it's not like you lose every time.  Far from it.  So, are you ready for more practice?"

Dee nodded again, this time it seemed completely serious.

I need to figure out who Dee's villains will be, because she'll be staying on friendly terms with Doctor Galvah's lair (plus if she routinely fought them she'd run into Kelley more than preferable) but she will also be sticking with the hero lifestyle.

This does not present a conflict of interest because she's not trying to thwart Doctor Galvah, and any other villains she does thwart are effectively the Doctor's competition.

I really like the idea of a hero (part of the reason Aspirant is training Dee is so she can step out of the sidekick role without being overwhelmed) who is friends with a group of villains, spends significant time hanging out in their lair, gets mentored by them, and never wavers from being a hero.

It helps that Galvah wants to take over the world for essentially altruistic reasons.  Dee disagrees that that's the correct way to go about enacting sweeping policy changes, but she doesn't disagree with the policy changes themselves.

Some policy changes proposed when Galvah rules the world:

No one goes hungry, college is free for everyone, healthcare, including dental, is free for everyone, everyone receives a food card that refills with money on a monthly basis (the money is 10% more than what is determined to be necessary to eat well for that month), housing for all, unless they don't want it [some people are homeless by choice], protection to all regardless of race / religion / gender (including non-cis gender identity) / sexuality / ethnicity / nationality (nations will still exist as local governments, elected of course) / language / accent / fetish / so forth.

More stuff like that.  Basically raising the floor from "rock bottom" to "A decent standard of living, if nothing spectacular, and then giving individuals access to what they need to leave that status if they so desire

Added since Patreon:

I've actually thought up a couple more events for the relationship between Aspirant and Dee.

Given how much of my super-person stuff so far has involved romantic relationships or the possibility thereof it seems strangely necessary to point out that the relationship between them is purely a friendship one (friendship which has a bit of Aspirant as mentor figure mixed in.)

Neither would even consider viewing the other romantically, and if anyone brought it up to one, the possibility would be quickly dismissed.

Anyway, other events.  Both involve Aspirant giving equipment to Dee.

Aspirant fights with his hands and the magic he can call up to encase them, but he does actually have an Enochian-magic infused staff like the henchpeople.  It's been sitting in the back of a closet gathering dust for years, but it's there and it works.

At some point in her hero career, Dee is going to have difficulties of a sort that cause Aspirant to conclude Dee would be helped a great deal if she adopted some kind of weapon  (not necessarily as a primary thing, but always brought along in case the situation called for it.)

When he attempts to describe what kind of weapon would best fill this role and complement Dee's style, he's going to make it as far as, "Something like--" before getting the idea and running off to dig his old magic staff out of whatever closet it's been collecting dust in.

The other thing is actually planned in advance and is more of a gift from the whole lair that Aspirant happened to be the one to present.  It's a pair of shoes.

When walls are available Dee makes use of them in her fighting & running away style.  What she can do, however, was limited by the less than stellar grip provided by the outsoles of her old shoes.  While the gift-shoes in question will have spectacular grip, they'll come with the warning "They're not parkour shoes.  If you assume they're parkour shoes you'll get hurt.  Maybe break something."

The specific way they differ is in the arches, which are made of hard composite material that is as low friction as possible.  Their purpose is to allow Dee to grind/slide on edges, pipes, or rails and thus increase her movement possibilities.  (To do this she needs to be facing perpendicular to the thing being grinded on, otherwise the non-arch parts would touch and their stellar grip would cause Dee's feet to stop while the rest of her kept going.)

If Dee ever gives to any of the people in the lair it won't be stuff they can use to further "take over the world" plots.  Not thwarting Dr. Galvah doesn't go against being a hero because no hero thwarts every single person with a "take over the world" plot.*  Helping said plots, however, would.  The villainous side doesn't have that problem because in her hero-life Dee is taking on and taking down their competition.


* Dee is simply prioritizing the thwarting of villains who aren't her friends and hanging out with friends in her non-hero downtime.

Also, even if she hadn't made connections with those at the lair, Dee would still prioritize many other villains over Dr. Galvah given that she now knows that Galvah's intended ends are, you know, cuddly.  Dee disagrees with the means, and plenty of non-Galvah villains have roughly equivalent means in mind while their intended ends are a good deal less appealing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Stuff and things and such (a meta post)

Thing the first:

I've finally actually gone with Ana's idea of posting Edith and Ben to my Patreon so that it will have content.  As I'm doing that I've been updating (spelling, punctuation, formatting, stuff) the Stealing Commas versions of the relevant posts as well.  As such these posts have, in theory, been brought into line with the current formatting standard for the blog* and checked for errors:
  • Ben's Intro -- Ben's equivalent of Bella's preface
    • posted October 7th, 2011
  • And so it begins -- From the very beginning to leaving for Forks
    • posted January 22nd, 2013
  • Summers by the Sea -- Why Ben hasn't been in Forks for three years
    • posted October 30th, 2011
I encourage anyone to and everyone to take a look.  If you have anything to say about the substance, please comment on the actual story's page.  If you catch some kind of error (spelling, grammar, formatting, attacking space monkeys) I'd prefer that be pointed out in the comments to this post, though it isn't required.

That out of the way,

Five years and four months later and I still haven't merged "Summers by the Sea" into "And so it begins".  For the post on Patreon I just cut and pasted "Summers by the Sea" in, but there's a reason I haven't done that here with a footnote saying that the three paragraphs in question were originally part of an earlier thing called "Summers by the Sea"

Keeping them separate, with a link saying "this other bit goes in this gap" is a way to know that I haven't done the editing for consistency of tone and whatnot that comes with merging two things, written years apart, into one.

I completely forgot that I hadn't done that work, but seeing today that "And so it begins" has that link in the middle of it made me remember.  So it's going to stay that way until I do that work.

Thing the second:

I really do want to write something new, but I'm having real troubles with composing anything, and it's entirely possible that when I do manage to write something it won't be the sort of thing anyone has ever come here in hopes of reading.

Moving stuff from Patreon has me thinking about my super-people 'verse a bunch.  I'm going to throw that into "Thing the third:".

I've been thinking a lot about math lately.

I've recently been considering writing about changes I would make to the world given the power to do so, probably divided into two series, one would be "When I rule the world" where I would go on about the things that excite everyone such as the tax code and social welfare programs, the other would be "When I am corporate overlord" which would be more about things implemented within the context of a business.

I have so fucking many works in progress.  Derivative and original.  I want to get back to all of them.

And yet . . .

And yet for all of this crap I could be writing, I'm having so much trouble committing actual words to any of it.  And that sucks

Thing the third:

Some super-person universe things:

I left off Corv's team with a story in progress, I made the prologue to a story of the de-petrification of the character Ge, and never got around to writing any regular parts of it.  (At first it's Des' story as she returns to her team and attempts to translate what she witnessed in the prologue into actually freeing Ge, once Ge is de-petrified it becomes both of their stories.)

There are also various things that are more isolated moments than story that I have in mind.  Like when Labdiela is worried because Heaven never offered courses on "How not to have your angelic strength break frail fragile humans during sex" and, after getting referred to her by Page, ends up talking to Des about such matters.  (Which lets me touch on anti-sex-demon bigotry in the Fractured Plain region of Hell.

And most of the heroes I've written in that universe are part of a particular subset of hero-teams that probably doesn't even encompass a majority.  Pent, who has appeared only in one work, which was so fragmentary the only thing anyone actually got out of it was that Seegserd served tea,, is the only A-lister I've written.

((Though those like Des' team have a different definition of A-list which would place Corv and her team on it.))

Charles would have been an A-lister, would have been the A-lister, but he predates any and all such lists.

Thing the fourth:

I am almost entirely sure there was supposed to be something here because I seem to recall planning on having three things back before I knew I'd write enough about the super 'verse to split it off into its own thing instead of being a part of "Thing the second".

No idea what it would have been though.


* I am so tempted to go on a crusade to change the short form of "weblog" from the last four letters (blog) to the first four letters (webl) which would be pronounced "web-L or "webel" and thus not sound like someone trying to onomatopoeia a pre-vomit heave.

Yes, I do know that such a crusade would convince precisely zero people and thus serve no purpose, but "blog" just has this nasty sound that makes me think of the unpleasantness of acid reflux.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Character bio: The knights Errant and Erratic

[Originally posted at Patreon where it was one of my first posts of any kind.]
[They haven't been in much of anything, though their teammate Page was featured drinking coffee here.  (Note to Luke Cage fans: actually drinking actual coffee.)]

Identical twins with no tragic backstory, the two are nigh inseparable.  When they stumbled into the super-life in their teens they found that they took to it naturally.  The fact they'd both been taking karate classes for a decade helped, so did the fact they'd been taking ballet classes for even longer.

By this time teen teams were well established, and so they were placed with three other locals of about the same age, supplied with resources to reduce the likelihood of serious injury, and given guidance when required.

One of their members, who was quickly elected leader, had already chosen his hero-name of  “Paladin ”.  Errant and Erratic looked for names that would match, and when Erratic learned that “Knight Erratic” was an actual term (meaning the same thing as “Knight Errant”) their names were decided.

The other two members of the team, Squire and Page, followed suit in choosing knightly names.  What began as a teen team has remained even after they aged into adulthood.  They defend their city and have no global aspirations.

Errant tends to be more conventional and more likely to stick to set rules and procedures, however he also lets his sister lead.  She proudly chose the name “Erratic” for herself.

Errant defaults to an unemotional serious, Erratic to laid back fun, but both have the problem that slights they'd ignore when directed at themselves will set them off when directed at someone they care about.

The most extreme example of this is if someone claims that Errant is not a “real” man due to his biology.  Errant will take the insult without comment.  Erratic will be enraged.  Often a quiet but extremely dangerous rage.  It should be noted that Errant doesn't think Erratic is over-reacting.  If the situation were reversed he'd feel the exact same way.

Squire can generally talk Erratic down, and --even if she doesn't-- Paladin is the leader.  He tends to be extremely lackluster in ordering Erratic to show restraint in such situations, but he does order it none the less.

Errant is straight guy.

Erratic is an omni-flirtatious asexual aromantic woman.


I, uh, haven't figured out their race or ethnicity yet.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Monthly Finance Post - interrupted by

First off, Lonespark is right that I really need to get more content up here that isn't just talking about how terrible life is and how everything is bad.  This was never meant to be a place for that.  It was meant to be a place for stories.  And not the depressing kind of stories that leave you sad for a month and a half.

And yet . . .  here I am.  Things are bad.


[I can be sent money via paypal, here's a link.]

There was a non-monthly expense due this month.  The big one.  (Property tax, if you're wondering.)  The good news is that at some point it became lower than it once was.  It's $635.40 now.  Still, if you divide that by three to get what it actually costs per-month, the result is $211.8 and it's the single biggest "keep me from going homeless" expense by far.

It was due six days ago.  I didn't pay it.  In spite of what I thought earlier in the month, I can't pay it.

The non-monthly expenses, like the property tax, are scary as all fuck because they're the ones where not paying will eventually make me homeless, but that "eventually" means that there are very solid pragmatic reasons to make sure the other expenses are paid first.

I can't pay them first.  I can't cover them.  If everything stayed as it is today, I'd fall $96.03 short of the other expenses, which would make me $731.43 short for the month in total when the property tax is added in.

Things won't stay as they are.  Things won't for the same reason that I'm finding myself ludicrously low on money when I thought I would have more than enough.

It's food.  I have no money for food.  At this present moment, my food stamps don't exist.  They didn't last month either.  The annual review was in March and my depression was doing a thing which meant I didn't do the followup call until . . . maybe this month.  The follow up call revealed a need for additional paperwork, which then took some time to get to me, and


I just got some unrelated news.  It has nothing to do with my finances and I'm not ready to talk about it anyway.  I . . . just can't.

I can't, but I still need to vent some.  I guess I'm going to talk around the issue without ever addressing it directly, because how else could you vent about something you're not ready to talk about?  Feel free to stop reading to avoid getting caught in the exhaust.

~ ~ ~

Unless someone somewhere has a literal million dollars (right fucking now) that they're willing to loan to me, even though I'm like the opposite of . . . I don't know the words.  No one in their right mind would ever consider loaning me any sizable sum of money, is the point.  I mean, see above.  The fact that I would genuinely try to pay it back just means that I'd likely spend the rest of my life failing to pay it back, which in turn means it wouldn't get paid back.

So, anyway, here in the real world everything is completely terrible, in part because there's absolutely nothing anyone can do to help, least of all me.  The news was about home, not someone suffering some illness or injury, so at least there's that.  No one is hurt.  Somehow I don't find that very comforting.

And I fucking begged everyone involved to keep me in the loop and they promised they would.  Instead last I heard everything was going to be acceptable (not perfect, but not this) with no need for any money whatsoever*, and then I find out none of that was true.  Not even because they God-damned set out to tell me things had changed, either.  I noticed something that didn't quite fit, and only in the course of explaining that detail did the truth come out.

Fuck everything.  I'm just going to be here crying, having persistent thoughts about how it would be less painful to just bash my head into a wall until the physical pain overrode my ability to emotionally process things, and crying more because I'm not actually one to partake in self-harm.


*The reason for the change from "don't need any money" to "I'd need a million dollars (or, possibly, more) right this instant" is that the deal that was supposed to bring about partial salvation was altered to do nothing of the sort, no one bothered to tell me of that fucking massive change, and the people who have final say were apparently fine with it (which, hey, they're getting half a million dollars each.)

Which means that the only thing that could possibly save things at this point is to show up out of nowhere with a higher offer.  Which is impossible.  Because a fucking million dollars.