Sunday, September 30, 2012

So, I shaved.

Been meaning to for ages now, but I don't think people fully realize what a big change it is.  If a party needs a wizard, people won't be coming to me.  If someone needs to carry the ten commandments down from the mountaintop, it won't be me.  God has a message, not coming through me.  Someone needs their sins forgiven, no longer in my domain.  Comparisons to ZZ Top, random complements from people I don't know, and annual request from my sister that I bleach my hair and beard white and impersonate Santa, not going to happen, but actually none of the things in this sentence will be missed by me.

Mostly it's just that it's a major change and I no longer look like a prophet.

Before I show pictures, I do have to point out that I suck at looking good on camera.


Halfish way through:


Edith and Ben - Falling

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

It's not a long distance from the kitchen to the living room, and given that Charlize had just gone about making sure part of the way was extra clear because a wheelchair needs extra clearance on either side and a wheel could get hung up on something a foot would step over, it should have been simple to deliver a plate with a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches from the one room to the other.
Should is a word that, when spoken of things that already happened, really means "somehow wasn't" because what should have been easy resulted in me heading toward the floor at around the halfway point. Jackie reached out to help me, but I was already too far gone. She got a hold of me, but that only brought her along for the ride.
The grilled cheese hit the floor. The plate landed upside down. Unbroken, thankfully. I landed on my side. My head landed on my arm. I couldn't see Jackie from where I was. The giant sound threatened to bring mothers rushing.
Jackie had thought of that and shouted, "We're ok," to the next room. Then, to me, she said, "I see you're as smooth as ever."
I wasn't ready for talking just yet, and when I did speak I said, "Ow," to no one in particular. Drawing out the word like you do when you've just been hit by the floor. Then I shouted to the other room, "I dropped your food."
I was actually rather uncomfortable, but I didn't want to get up. I asked Jackie, "Do you mind if I just lay here for a bit?"
"Yes. In point of fact I do." Pause. "You're on my arm."
That explained some things, most notably, "That explains what's in my side, there's also something sticking into my back."
"Does it feel like my left knee?"
"Could be, let's get untangled."
It was a fairly simple process. I lifted myself a bit, she pulled her arm out from under me. I rolled away from her, she rolled away from me. We were untangled.
"I can't believe I dropped the grilled cheese."
"What else would you have dropped?"
"I poured my heart and soul into those sandwiches."
"No you didn't."
"How would you know?"
"You overcooked them."
"Did not."
"Did too."
There was a bit of silence as we both lay on our backs looking at the ceiling. The only sound being the game our mothers were watching in the living room.
"Have you had your inner ear checked?" Jackie asked.
"I have been poked and prodded in more ways than most people can imagine."
"No less than three doctors have concluded that I am the opposite of sane. Clearly I don't have any problems and I'm just making it up."
"But you have the scars to-"
"No, I'm making it up. It's all in my head. It's just my imagination."
"Yeah, well your imagination could get you hurt badly."
"I know. There's a reason I cling to railings for dear life whenever I'm at a stairway."
"You could just take the elevator."
"I could sprout wings and fly."
"I somehow doubt that."
"Yeah, I was being snippy."
"I wasn't going to say anything."
Another pause.
"Your doctors sucked."
"What's more likely, that every doctor I ever went to sucked, or that I am psychologically un-"
"Every single one of them sucked."
"Yeah, that's what I said. But no one ever listens." I corrected it to, "Except you."
And then, it seemed, we ran out of things to say.
After a while Jackie said, "It's a very nice ceiling."
"Oh yes, quite ceiling like in it's qualities."
"I suppose you're right, I've never noticed that before." It was a ceiling. It looked like a ceiling.
"That's why you need me around. To point these things out to you."
And for a while we lay there looking at the ceiling.
Finally I said, "Want to help me make more food?"

[Edith and Ben Index]

Skewed Slightly to the Left - The Bomb Drops

[Originally posted at Slacktivist (page 2).]
[previously Ray has given Cameron the list of ten cities in North America that Nicolae intends to obliterate.]

The Range Rover, now with more than a few bullet holes, and it's three passengers, thankfully lacking any, arrived at New Hope.
Cameron and Alice got out without pausing their cell phone conversations, a desperate attempt to find anyone able to warn the targeted cities that they were being targeted, made more difficult by their decision to to turn on the government at the start of the war, hours before they had the information.
By now the tide had turned, a GC victory seemed unavoidable, and all that remained was to try to get as many people out of the way of the "lesson" the GC planned to teach to traitors.  The problem was that getting people out of the way required getting the message out, and the GC had been dismantling the media since it realized the media was no longer under its control.
Most of those who weren't dead or detained were on the run themselves, in no shape to disseminate information.
Verna, who had been occupied by driving, had handed her cell phone off to Cameron, and now that she was out of the car she was ready to get back to trying to find someone, anyone, who could get the word out.  She held out her hand, Cameron gave her his phone as he continued to talk on hers.
As Cameron walked into New Hope he was talking to one of the few surviving reporters on the ground in Washington.  Cameron hoped that the man was just one of the few they knew about, and feared he was simply one of the few.  Perhaps, at this point, the only.  He'd talked to him earlier in the day and the situation sounded bad.  "This is Camr-"
"I told you before I don't-"
"Just listen.  Something is coming.  Something worse than all the bombs that have been dropped so far.  Maybe someone can stop it, but if the bomber gets through then there will no longer be a Washington DC so I need you tell everyone, no matter which side they're on, to get out now.  Head for the city limits and keep on going.  Shelter if they have to, but it's not a safe bet."
There was a pause.
"I can't evacuate an entire city."
"Neither can I, but unless you know of a network of fallout shelters-"
"Would the subway work?"
"I have no idea.  Just tell as many people as you can, however you can, the biggest bomb they've ever seen is coming."
"I can do that."  *Pause* "Thanks for the heads up."  The reporter hung up.
Cameron looked around, the inside of the church was a sea of faces and pain, most of the church now serving first aid needs.  If there was an order he couldn't discern it and he didn't have time.  He shouted, "I need to see Loretta!" over the cacophony.
A young woman he didn't recognize came up to him and said, "You're in luck, we just got back."
When the reached Loretta, Cameron introduced her to Verna, explained, about the list of ten cities of be nuked, and asked if they could use the church's underground network to get the word out.
This was interrupted by the phone Verna had ringing, "It's for you," she said to Cameron.
"Yeah.  Listen, how important was your friend?"
"I'm holed up in an abandoned building looking over the tape.  It looks to me like the hospital wasn't collateral, it was the target, and it's not just that, there's-"
"Listen, Jake, we don't have a lot of time, where are you?"
When Cameron asked where the nearest shelter was, the same young woman as before answered.  "Can you give directions?" Cameron asked.  She nodded.  Into the phone he said, "I'm giving you to..." he looked at the young woman, "I'm sorry, I don't know your name."
"I'm giving you to Jane, she's going to guide you to safety."
He handed Jane the phone.
Verna and Loretta were hastily trying to combine the resources of the still-free media staff and the underground church system, in an effort both to save the rogue reporters and to get the word out using different methods.  Phone trees and church PAs and commandeered radio stations.
Alice was helping, but she felt like she should be doing something else, something more in line with her skill set.
Cameron interrupted this to say, "Jake thinks the initial attack might have been targeting Bruce, does anyone have a reason why that might make sense?"
The New Hopers were wondering who Jake was, Verna and Alice were wondering who Bruce was.  This was cleared up quickly when Cameron said, "Bruce was the pastor here, Jake is the one we sent to cover the attack that destroyed the hospital Bruce was in."
Lorretta shrugged, "He didn't have a lot of time to tell us anything before he got sick.  We tried to look at his laptop but couldn't break the encryption, and it's been low priority."
"I can take a crack at it," Alice said.
"It's in his his office," Loretta offered.
Cameron said, "Everyone else is busy, I'll show you where."  Verna and Loretta returned to the work of combining their networks.
In Bruce's office Cameron said, "I told you this day was prophesied right?"
"Yeah, you made a big speech, we all agreed to fight fate."
"That hasn't gone very well," Cameron said glumly.
"Day ain't over yet," Alice said while she booted up Bruce's laptop.
"Anyway, what I was trying to say is we've been preparing, to the best of our ability, for this day."
"Meaning what?"
"Meaning that there's a shelter under this church intended to protect it's occupants from nuclear war."
"How big?"
"Big as we could make it in 18 months.  And scattered others throughout the city."  He paused for a moment, wondering how Chloe was doing in her's. "The point is, if things go to shit, follow the others into the shelter."
The door burst open, "You have to see this!"
Cameron looked toward Alice.  She said, "Well go and report, reporter."
Cameron patted his pockets, "I don't have a camera."
Before he finished saying it Alice had produced a small video-camera from her bag.
By the time she finished saying, "I do." Cameron was out the door with it.
Most of the New Hopers were to busy to look outside, but those who weren't crowded into the parking lot, some standing atop the cars to get better views.
Cameron scrambled to the top of the Range Rover that had brought him there and recorded what had captured their attention.  Straining the camera's zoom he could make out an aerial battle.  From everything he had heard the insurgents didn't have much of an air-force left, but they must have found something to try to defend the city.  It gave him hope that his warning had gotten through.
Then the battle was over.  Balls of fire streamed from the sky, but there was no more fighting.  One side had lost.  As the plane zoomed closer Cameron's heart sunk.  He wasn't a military reporter, he knew little about planes, but he knew that the thing that passed overhead was more likely to be used to drop a bomb than to shoot down a bomber.
It didn't pass directly overhead, but it did come closer on it's way passed, heading toward the center of Chicago.
It dropped its payload on parachutes, a way for the plane to get a safe distance while the bomb was still in the air, Cameron assumed.  His hand shook, and the camera magnified every insecurity, since it was zoomed in so far.
Cameron zoomed out, but made sure the thing dropping on parachutes was still visible and mumbled something about the possibility he wouldn't keep it in frame because he was going to shield his eyes.  Then he covered his eyes with the elbow he wasn't using to hold the camera, and waited.
The time seemed to drag on forever, the temptation to take a peek was almost overwhelming.  Then he was bathed in light.  Someone screamed, "Everyone inside!"
Cameron looked at the camera, it said it was still recording, but the video screen was black, he checked the lens cap and assumed that the light had knocked out the visual sensors.  Maybe it could still record sound.  He tried to describe what he was seeing, but the description felt like it fell flat.  How do you describe your home in flames?  How do you describe hope dying?
Then he ran.  God only knew what the shockwave would be like.
[As a disclaimer, I know nothing about bombs, perhaps-nuclear or otherwise.]


[Skewed Slightly to the Left Index]

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Edith And Ben - Ben and Jackie in the kitchen

[Originally Posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[Last time these two met was a two-parter.  The initial meeting is herethe discussion they had is here.]
"And, of course, Jackie was anxious to see Ben again," Billie's voice had something that didn't seem right to me, sort of suggestive, sort of encouraging, sort of implying that there was more to our relationship than there was.
Jacqueline confirmed that when she mouthed, "Not like that," in my direction.
It seemed like the best solution was to separate the two so that Jackie and I could talk away from our mothers. "Are you hungry?" I asked, turning toward the kitchen.
Jackie's voice had an apologetic quality when she said, "We ate before we came over." She knew she was shooting down my excuse.
"Charlize?" I asked.
She looked up from where she was, making sure that the way to the living room was wide enough for a wheelchair, and saw that I wanted a yes. She said, "Sure," and I headed into the kitchen.
I quickly got to work on grilled cheese sandwiches so I'd have something to show for going to the kitchen. Then I sat on the table facing in the general direction of Jackie who had followed me. She took up position on a counter, and I said, "So, what's up?"
"You mean aside from my mom already planning our wedding just because I said I had a good time when we met on the beach and I'd like to see you again?"
"That sounds kind of overboard."
"Part of that's because I'm exaggerating, but she can't seem to conceive of the possibility that, 'I had a good time with Ben,' doesn't mean, 'I'm head over heels in love with Ben.'"
"That sucks, how's the car?" I am clearly a master at changing subjects.
"The car's going well, not done yet so we had to borrow the one we came in, but I have high hopes. Do you know what a master cylinder is?"
"I have no idea."
"Then never mind. Car's coming along nicely. How about you, is the truck ok?"
That seemed like a strange question, "Yeah, since it got fixed after the whole van thing it's been running fine. Why do you ask?"
"I noticed you got a ride."
"Yeah, I'm sort of dating my mechanic."
"Your mechanic is pretty, what's, 'Sort of dating'?"
"Well it's... complicated. We're friends, and we both kind of want more, but there are reasons it might not work, and the two most memorable experiences we've had together were pretty traumatic, so that sort of hangs a cloud over things, and we're just sort of hanging out and seeing what happens. Charlize says that it's important to know whether doing something together is a date or not, but it's... complicated."
"Um... Ok. I have questions."
"I haven't figured out the order yet."
"Take your time."
"Ok, first off you said, 'Traumatic,' and that worries me."
"Traumatic thing one, almost being killed by a rampaging van."
"You mentioned that last time we met."
"Traumatic thing two happened in Port Angeles more recently, and I don't want to talk about it." I paused. At first I thought I was done, but then I realized that I didn't want to give the wrong impression. "It's not just that I don't want to talk about it with you, I don't want to talk about it ever."
"That bad?"
"Scared me to hell."
"Then we won't talk about it."
There was a moment of dead air between us.
"Ok, other question. Who is your sort of girlfriend?"
"Edith Cullen."
"The one who saved your life?"
My first reaction was how could she possibly know that. My second was, of course she knew that, I told her about the van. "Yeah."
More dead air.
"Uh, there's no way to say this without sounding like an ass, so I'm counting on you knowing that I'm not an ass and, based on that assessment of me, not taking it as assholic because-"
I cut her off, "I solemnly swear that I will not hate you forever on account of you saying what you are about to say."
"Ok." Pause. "Thanks." Pause. "Are you sure that what you're feeling isn't just because she saved you?" Jackie looked afraid. Afraid that she'd hurt me. Afraid that I'd be pissed off at her. Afraid that asking the question, which is an important question and one I'd asked myself, was the wrong thing to do.
"I... don't know." I sort of pulled inward. Arms and legs toward my center, presenting a smaller profile. Left hand grasping my right forearm. "That's the thing. It's all screwed up and complicated." I started stroking my right arm with my left hand, not sure why, it just seemed the thing to do. "There's like this tangled mess of emotions and it's impossible to sort out what's real and what's not." I paused. "But what I do know is that I feel better around her, and I think that she feels better around me."
"Then you should try to keep on being around her," Jackie said, getting off the counter. She walked to the table. "Because," she climbed on the table next to me, "I want my friend to feel better." She put her arm around my shoulders.
After a while she said, "And don't worry about everything. I'll worry for you. You just do what makes you happy."
She hopped off the table and offered me her hands, "Now come on, let's feed Charlize."
As we were getting ready to leave she the kitchen she said, "By the way, remember what I said about some people at La Push having some weird ideas about the Cullens?"
"Ancient legends that appeared out of nowhere less than five years ago, right?"
"Yeah, that was it. Anyway, my mom's one of them so you might not want to mention Edith around her."
"I wouldn't think Billie would be one to stand by while your heritage was rewritten."
"I wouldn't either, but a lot of people have gone weird with this thing, and she's one of them. In everything else she's normal... or, you know, what passes as normal for her, but in this one area she went with the weird."
"Ok, no Cullen talk. Got it."

Lopsided outcomes, why the presidential race isn't the only thing that matters here

Yeah, I'm going to talk politics again.

So, here's the thing, who wins the presidency is damn important to the future of the US.  It's a major choice that will affect the future of this country in extreme ways.  But it's a choice that sort of goes one way.

Mitt Romney asked a question that deserves an answer, are you better off than you were four years ago?  Since the "you" in question was directed at everyone in America the question becomes "Are we better off than we were four years ago?"

The answer is, objectively, yes.  America is better off than it was four years ago.  Barring a major unforseen collapse in the coming months the end of Obama's first term will be better than the end of the second Bush's second term.  But that's not saying much.  Four years ago sucked.  Being better off than then is a low bar to meet.  So, yes, we're objectively better off, but we should be a whole lot better.

And that's the thing.  Or rather the reason for that is the thing.

With all of the focus on Obama and Romney there's a missing of the reason why we're better than we were four years ago but worse than we should be.

Make no mistake, the race between Obama and Romney matters a great deal. If Romney were to get into office and do what he says he'd do the result would be catastrophic.  It wouldn't be the end of the world or anything, but the vast majority of Americans would be fucked over and this country would be diminished and damaged.  The choice between Obama and Romney has the potential for massive down side.  But the problem is, it doesn't have much in the way of up side.

If Obama is reelected, and that's the only change that is made, then the next two years will be like the last two years.  Things will get better, but they're do it at a crawl.  The debt will keep on going up because any reasonable plans to stop that will be shot down.  The rich will keep on getting richer, everyone else will keep on getting poorer.

Because the President is important, but important isn't the same as everything.  Necessary is not the same as sufficient.

When Obama came into office change actually happened pretty fast.  Early policies were able to turn things around.  The stimulus had problems, not the least of which being too small by every objective measure, but it did help.

Things got better pretty quickly but they still sucked because they started off so badly.

With the stimulus out of the way, too small though it was, the president moved on to healthcare and that was a massive headache I don't want to relive but while I will always have criticisms of the plan for not doing enough, it did contain a lot of good things.

And toward the end of that, something happened.  Specifically someone died and was replaced by a member of the other party and the age of the filibuster began.  Everyone does it when they're out of power, Democrats and Republicans alike.  But no one ever did it quite so much as it's done now.  Once upon a time it was just something used to stop a matter from coming up for a vote.  It started being used on everything, even on whether to start talking about things in the first place.

It is not a coincidence that improvement slowed at this point in time.  There was also the matter of political hostage taking.  Such as the refusal to pay unemployment benefits unless the rich got to keep their tax cuts.

And with slowed progress we moved into the 2010 elections.  Which are something else I'd prefer not to relive.

Now the Republicans controlled the House, and they used that to do all sorts of odd things.  I note that they got there by campaigning against the largest tax cut for the middle class in US history.  Not that they called the stimulus that.  Anyway, when they got there they voted for things that they knew had no chance of passing the Senate.  Letting insurance companies deny people coverage due to preexisting conditions was one.  Ending Medicare in any recognizable form was another.

In these past two years the Republican Party made no secret of it's goals.  It's goals were not to help the people or honor their ideals or anything like that.  No, it had one goal, clearly stated by one of it's leaders, that being preventing the reelection of the president.  Any attempt to put America back to work was shot down, and so, while things improved under the president, they did it agonizingly slowly.

And that's been the last two years, real measurable objective improvement, agonizingly slow pace.  So if one sees the choice as simply between Obama and Romney then it's a choice between two more years of real measurable objective improvement at an agonizingly slow pace, or abject catastrophe.  Lots of downside if you make the wrong choice, little upside if you make the right one.  It doesn't seem fair.

But if one broadens the scope, if one cares about the down ticket races, then there is a chance of a brighter future.  Getting the right person as president is necessary but not sufficient.  What really needs to happen if we want things to improve at a decent pace is fixing fucking congress.

Divided government only works if both sides are willing to work together and we know from experience that that isn't the case here.  Which means that if one wants more than averting catastrophe, if one wants to have actual progress toward fixing things at a pace faster than a snail, what will be necessary is getting congress out of the hands of Republicans.  I hope like hell that's possible, but I have no idea if it's at all likely.

Monday, September 24, 2012

On Translation

[Originally posted at Slacktivist.  Seems to have some potential general interest outside the thread.]

The question of how best to translate is both important and complex and has, unsurprisingly, been argued over for quite some time.
Generally the discussion takes place between two poles.  On the one hand you have translations that try to communicate the sense of what is being said to a culture unfamiliar with those things that would have been understood like second nature to the original audience itself.  See, for example, Amy Richlin's Rome and the Mysterious Orient which completely ignores the restrictions of literal translation and instead attempts to translate the three plays in question into a form that a modern American audience would understand as the Roman audience understood the original.
For example offensive Roman stereotypes are replaced with offensive American stereotypes of roughly equivalent value.
On the other hand you have the translation that tries to say exactly what the original text was literally saying, word for word if possible, and gives up on any hope of a modern audience understanding it as an ancient one would have unless said audience is willing to devote the next twelve years of their life to understand the cultural context in which the work was produced.
Between these two poles is where you'll find most translations, but by no means all.  The fact that these are the poles the debate usually takes place between does not mean that they represent a spectrum on which all translations fall.  There are more dimensions than just a sense-literal axis.
The problem with strictly literal translations is that it's impossible for you to understand what the original author was actually saying without doing a lot of work to understand the context, footnotes or endnotes might help with this, but generally speaking you're just going to fall short of fully understanding meaning.
The problem with things that try to translate sense is that they are extremely tied to the time and place of their own creation, and quickly become dated, are not intended for multiple cultures before they become dated, and don't leave you knowing what was actually said or done, only what the meaning behind it was and only then if you are the intended audience.  If you're not in the intended audience a sense based translation is going to take as much work for you to truly understand as a literal one because either way you have to somehow invade the mindset of a culture not your own.  That takes a lot of work.

[Added here.]

Oh yeah, best solution I know of?  Multiple translations.
If you're not going to devote your life to understanding the culture in which it is written, and are going to look at things only in translation rather than in the original, get multiple translations that fall in different places with regard to whether they value the literal meaning or the sense behind it.

Various Teams

[Originally posted at Slacktivist.]
[In response to Fred saying a pastor wasn't concerned with God so much as Team God.]

So it's like:
Team Edward - Sparkling and Dead is better than Alive and Human
Team Jacob - At least I still have a heartbeat
Team Atheism - You know, we do in fact exist.
Team God - Other options exist, but they're all WRONG.
Team Leah - Why does the author hate me so much?
Team Alice - I know how this ends...
Team Rayford - Your life and death do not concern me.
Team Buck - Violating Journalistic Ethics since 1995
Team Chloe - Remember when I had character?  Whatever happened to that?
Team Nicolae - Is there anything I can't do?  I mean, I just blew up ten cities with radiation free 100 megaton nuclear weapons without stopping auto dealerships from working just because I felt like it.
Team Eris - Marijuana of the Lunatic Fringe
Team Mike -  At least I'm human for fuck's sake.
Team Eric - At least I'm not as much of an ass as Mike.
Team Hattie - What Leah said.
Team Leon - I thought I was supposed to be a major player but everyone always picks on me.
Team Bruce - I knew I shouldn't have signed a two book contract when the others were offered 12 books.  Renewal my ass.
Team Tsion - Thick accent, thicker stereotypes, for the win.
Team Chaim - I killed the mother fucking Antichrist.


Note that I previously did a thing for the various Twilight teams with different slogans and more characters covered.

Depression Index

This was an index I never really expected to make, but I've got 30 posts tagged depression and I'm told talking about my experience has helped others.

I guess I'll divide it into two sections, first about myself, second being story type things.

So, on talking about myself, the first post I made was But I got so damned depressed and it was my attempt at explaining what my experience with depression has been like.

Depression and NaNoWriMo - I didn't realize until after I'd written this post that what I was trying to say with it is the depression, or at least certain kinds of it, and writer's block have a lot in common, it's just that depression applies to much more than just writing.  But since I didn't figure that out until after I wrote the post it's an open question as to how useful the post is.

"What have you been up to?" - When the answer is nothing you don't need your depression to put a negative spin on things for it to be depressing.  The fact that, due to depression, you haven't actually been doing anything is bad enough on its own.

What I said to be told "Grow up and get over yourself." - It was pointed out that the Millennial generation, my generation, would have to, basically, save the world.  I didn't say I wouldn't do it.  I just said that it pisses me off that we've had these myriad problems dumped on our shoulders and those who came before didn't even bother to provide decent healthcare.  I'm supposed to save the world with untreated depression.  My sister when she's forced to take bad jobs at companies that are part of the problem just so she can get the healthcare she needs.  The rest of my generation faces similar problems because we're being told, "We fucked up the world, you'll have to fix it while sick.

In which I don't grow up or get over myself - How I responded to the person telling me to grow up and get over myself, and why what he said to me deserves to be in textbooks as how not to respond to someone with depression.

My financial situation, and my home - More about some of the fallout from depression than depression itself. The fact that I'm not in a mental state capable of holding a job, how depression caused a good investment to tank, how that ties into the fact that I might lose my home.

We're not all the same - We aren't.  Knowing one person with depression does not mean you know them all.  Responding to someone who can't do something because of depression with, "Well I know someone with depression who can," is wrong and, frankly, insulting.  People are different.  Even if we ignore the fact that depression can take myriad different forms, the people who have it differ from each other.

A note to my body - A short silly thing after it seemed like my body was trying very hard to prove me right when I talked about my inability to hold a job.

Concerning myself, my lack of job, and my mental state - Talk about the difficulties in getting things done, the experience of getting to a meeting, and what may be the first time I compared the experience of having a sprained ankle with depression.  Sprained ankle, minor inconvenience, big willingness to help on the part of others.  Depression, major inconvenience, not nearly so much willingness to help.

A Moderate Breakdown - I have a nervous breakdown.

Breakdown update - A few days later.

A family meeting -  Description of what I was feeling during a family meeting I endured.

Is ze even alive anymore? - Wondering if people are dead, not realizing people have died, trying to stop others from wondering if you're dead.  That sort of thing.

On the temptation to give up and spend my life screaming profanities into the empty space - Actually more on the reasons for that temptation.

Music - Sometimes getting up, getting a CD, and putting it in something that can play a CD is more work than I can manage, this is some stuff I listen to when that's the case.

My hoped for future doesn't exist - I've been dealing with depression for more than a decade.  In that time many of the things I hoped to do have become impossible.  Time has passed and in it's passing the world has changed.  My life may have been on hold, but the rest of the world wasn't.

Rejoice, rejoice, we have no choice - How I keep going.

Food helps - I managed to start starving myself without noticing I had done so, eating enough food improved things.

One in One Billion Two Hundred Fifteen Million Five Hundred Thousand - The reason I enter the publishers clearing house sweepstakes (odds of winning are the title of the post) isn't that I think I have much chance of winning, it's just that everything else I can do seems to have even less of a chance of making things work out.

Advice given to depressed people - This is my most popular post in the history of ever.  It's about bad advice.  And the non-depressed people who, with the best of intentions, think they can solve your depression the same way they solve their own experience of feeling down.

A depressing metaphor for my life - Trouble with a hanging plant seems symbolic of everything else.

Metapost about future posts being posted in the future, and stuff - Mostly not about depression, and what is tends toward how that has affected posting.

If you could see how I feel and depression metaphors from the nondepressed - about the problems of invisible illnesses, like depression, and also about a non depressed person who found a metaphor that allowed her to think about dficepression in a way that has resulted in her being the best ally I've met in my offline life.

Sometimes it really would be best to leave me the fuck alone - I open with talking about how depression can be isolating and that can require people to reach out even when the depressed person may not want them to or push them away, and talk about how that plays into the fantasy at the root of certain kinds of fiction, then move on to talking about how that still leaves some times when it really is for the best to just leave a depressed person alone, go into venting, and close on an incoherent dream.

I'm sad - exactly what it says.

"Should I be worried?" - A question I was asked with two rather different answers.

Say something, damn it! - A request for comments because, given my mental state, I really do need the validation.

Time - There never seems to be enough.

[It seems like my depression has been largely dealt with with medication, so posts after this point with the tag are... questionable I guess.  But not the fiction ones below.]

Coping, and lack thereof - ADHD had always been suspected, but it never came out to play enough to get an actual diagnosis.  It was held in check by the depression.  I don't think I ever realized how well I was dealing with the depression (which seemed by any measure to be not well at all) until the depression got out of the way and the ADHD was able to come to full force.  Since I have developed no means of coping with it (unlike the depression) it's possibly messing me up more than the depression did.

Curling up in a ball on the floor doesn't work with glasses - It really doesn't.

Did I mention that I've run out of hope? - It's actually somehow harder when you can't blame it on the depression.  When you're not sure, is this a lingering effect of the depression, or a completely rational assessment of where I stand?

An update on School - sort of a description of how the change from major problem = depression to major problem = ADHD has been with respect to school.

Don't minimize other people's problems. - That is a command.  An order.  Imperative mood.  Do not minimize other people's problems. The post is largely about what prompted me to say it, and a bit about the depression-ADHD changeover.

Check who the exhaust might hit before venting - I don't know if it's a lingering effect of the depression or part of who I am, but other people's problems become my problems, emotionally at least, so venting (at least certain types but I don't get into that distinction in the post) hurts me and brings me down.  Yet people who love me do it at me anyway.  Don't be like them.  When you need to vent make sure that the audience is someone who can take it without great suffering.  That's what the post is about.

Or at least fictionish things.

The first post I ever wrote tagged depression was a combination of fiction fragment, story idea, and description of what it can be like when something breaks through the depression.  It was:
Coping with Depression via Vampires.

Superpowers, diagnosis, and treatment - The Twilight Vampires have superpowers beyond the standard vampire set.  In the Cullen brood they have someone who can read minds and someone who can both read and influence emotions.  If you don't see tremendous potential for good here (if they'd only bother to use them for that) you're not looking hard enough.

NaNoWriMo excerpt - Ryan on Stalling - The first person narrator talks about stalling out.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Skewed Slightly to the Left (?) - On the Plane with Nicolae

[Originally posted at Slacktivist.  Not sure if it's canon Skewed Slightly to the Left or not yet.]
[The problem with Rayford being Nicolae's pilot is that it forever leaves us with the question of why he doesn't crash the damn plane.]
[For context, Rayford's wife Amanda is on the plane, and Rayford has just learned that Nicolae is planning to destroy ten major cities in North America alone.  In canon Left Behind Ray sends Amanda away for, basically, the reason that this Ray gives to Nicolae here.]

"I have family in Chicago," Rayford said, his seething rage impossible to keep out of his voice.

Nicolae pretended not to notice. "Yes, and I hope they are safe," he said as if he were discussing the weather or some other meaningless bit of trivia.

There was only one thing stopping Rayford from lunging forward and trying to kill Carpathia there and then.  He reminded himself of it, tried to keep his voice calm.  "I understand that I'm needed here with you, but I'd feel better if someone were trying to... If someone were there for them.  Do you think it would be possible for Amanda to head there after we land?"

Nicolae spoke as if considering where to eat dinner, "Well it is the middle of a world war, and tasking an aircraft on such short notice is no small feat, but then you are one of my favorite employees, and it's not as if I need whatshername here for anything, so I suppose I could arrange that for you, yes."

The casual manner with which he discussed the war made Rayford want punch the man, but he convinced himself to wait just a little bit longer.


[Later, after Amanda is off the plane, just after takeoff.]

Rayford worried that the copilot would notice the sweat pouring out of him, he had to remind himself to breathe.  One, last breath as he prepared to--

Suddenly a hand was on his shoulder, then he felt the presence of another next to him.  Intimately close. "You didn't think it would be that easy, did you?" Nicolae whispered in his ear.

Nicolae stood straight, "Control of the aircraft has already been transferred to your colleague.  Come, join us in the lounge."


[Skewed Slightly to the Left Index]

Get it right next time

In 2009 Maine became the first state to legalize marriage equality by having it pass through the legislature and then be signed into law by a governor.  And yet, same sex marriage is not legal in Maine.

The reason for this is a massive fuck up on the part of the citizenry of my state, a fuck up of epic proportions.  I was not a part of the fuck up, I voted against it, and yet still I feel a sense of shared responsibility for the fuck up because it was my state that did it.  My people.  Mainers.  We, collectively, fucked up.

We, collectively, took away people's rights.  We, collectively, put the breaks on progress and forced what had been a step in the right direction to break mid-stride and leave us back where we started.

Maine has a referendum process that puts power in the hands of the people, given enough signatures are collected to put the question on the ballot.  This power can be used for good or evil.  Generally speaking when good people are in office it is used for evil, when bad people are in office it is used for good.  (I didn't follow it that closely, and apparent'y it didn't work out I know that there was an attempt to use this power to overturn the voter suppression measures the new Republican leadership passed into law.)  Now the Same power that was used to subvert justice is now being used in defense of it.

So, what happened is this, enough signatures were collected to put the question of marriage equality to the people.  The law never went into effect because it remained to be seen whether or not it would be the law, massive funding was spent, by various people who had opinions on the matter one way or the other, some of it illegally (see NOM, and thanks are due to Republican Presidential Candidate Fred Karger for bringing that to our attention) and eventually the matter went to the voters.

We failed.  I voted for equality.  I voted not to strike down the law.  I voted in favor of love winning.  Didn't matter.  I was in the minority.  As a state, as a people, we failed.  The question went to us, and we got it wrong.

What remains after such a failure is the hope that we'll get it right next time.  Moral failings aren't, or at least shouldn't be, the end of the story.  Life goes on, the sun continues to rise, and that leaves us with at least the possibility of correcting our mistakes.  It leaves us with the hope that if we get it wrong we'll get it right next time.  And it's more than a hope, really, it's a responsibility.  It's a moral imperative.  If you do something wrong it falls to you to fix it.  If you don't take up that responsibility perhaps someone else will, perhaps someone else won't, but either way you've stacked moral failing on top of moral failing.  First what you did wrong, second you're failure to make it right.

Next time is the coming election.  Republicans control the government now, and there's no way that they'd vote in favor of marriage equality.  But that doesn't matter, because in Maine we have a referendum process.  Enough signatures were collected to put the question of marriage equality to the people.  In the coming election it will be up to us, the people of Maine, whether or not to vote for equality, for equal rights, for families, for the morally right thing.

Since we got it wrong, we have to get it right next time.

So, hopefully, in 2012 we, the people of Maine, will get right what we got wrong in 2009.

More information, for those interested, can be found here.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fuck you, Blogger.

Long ago we all realized that Google gave up on it's supposed internal motto of "Don't be evil" and embraced the concept of evil as a guiding principle.  It hasn't done them much harm, most people (myself included) use them anyway.

Plus, if you look at the blog polices page you'll find that I'm in business with Amazon too (when I link to an Amazon product if you follow that link and buy it, or something else during that session, I get a cut) so clearly I have little problem working with multiple evil companies.

Now the new blogger interface is better in some ways than the old one.  If you look at some of my earlier posts and look at the downright bizarre formatting they ended up with that arises from a combination of the failings of the old Blogger thingy and my own unwillingness to dive into the html to fix it.

But if they had just made improvements to the post making process it wouldn't be "the new Blogger interface" they changed a hell of a lot more than that.  If I want to look through the texts of multiple posts at the same time, old blogger made it the simplest thing in the world, if there's a way to do it on new blogger I have yet to figure it out.  And I've had a while to try.  For months now I've been using new blogger for composing posts and old blogger for everything else because, with a couple of exceptions (say quickly seeing how many views a given post has), old blogger is simply better.

Viewing and managing comments?  Old blogger, hands down.

In new blogger links within comments don't show up.  This is a problem.  Sometimes the only way to tell the difference between spam and legitimate posts is to see where the link goes.  Generally you don't have to go there, you just have to check the address.  Maybe there's a way to do it somehow, but if there is it's burried in settings somewhere where before it was easy as can be.  As near as I can tell what I will have to do if blogger spamtraps a possibly legitimate comment is remove is flag it as not spam, open the page it is a comment on, and determine if it is spam there, and if it is then go back to the managing comments page to re-flag it as spam.  Before I just had to hover my mouse over the link in the comment.

And it has spamtrapped legitimate comments before.

But for the most part the new blogger is just like the old blogger with a worse layout (the management of space sucks, crushing down things that should rightly be spread out among many other annoying things) that makes it more difficult to navigate (because that's always an improvement) and, oh yeah, a new look.

The look is ugly, and headache inducing.  I said before that it didn't give me personally headaches, but I think what I should have said is that it doesn't give me them quickly because now that I know to pay attention, yes,  it does give me them.  I'm just so used to headaches they don't stand out to me so much.  I normally don't pay attention.

And none of this would lead me to write a post saying, "Fuck you," to the very blog platform I am on.

No, what does that is this.  Google, the owners of blogger, have discovered a way to cause their users physical pain, they have been notified of the problems with their new interface months in advance, their response has basically been, "Fuck off you bastards," and now they've forced everyone into the physical pain causing interface.

And in so doing they've hurt someone that I care about.

I am more inclined to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right myself by abolishing the forms to which I am accustomed.  If it were just annoying, inconveniencing, and yes even hurting me (and it does hurt to look at for any length of time) then I wouldn't speak up.  But when someone I care about is being hurt, that I'm not going to stay silent about.

The only reason I chose blogger in the first place is because it was the platform Ana used.  Now they're hurting Ana.

Not sure what to do, but I had to say something.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Say something, damn it!

As previously mentioned I'm feeling sad, and I don't know why.  I doubt that it's sad without a reason, but there are so many reasons for me to feel down right now that if I go looking for the reason I'll find so many as to drive me into sobbing sobbyness.  Part of the way I avoid getting crushed under the weight of everything that's wrong in my life is to not focus on the wrong.

So the sadness has remained, it's cause unknown and undealt with.

There have been good things, there have been happy spots, but they were momentary.  Ephemeral instances that once over left me back at the new normal of sad.

The rest of life isn't helping much.  Remember how I talked about wanting to write posts for the Slacktiverse?  Yeah, that looks like it'll never happen.  Perhaps, maybe, I can do something for whatever replaces it.  My family always seems to manage to bring me down.

There were other things I was going to say, but I've forgotten them*, and unlike some times that happens I haven't been called away or distracted, in the time that it took me to write "The rest of life isn't helping much," to the time it took me to get here, with nothing else in the way and typing at what I think is a pretty good pace, I've forgotten.  School I'm doing crap at, even if in class discussions are where I've been feeling most alive lately.

And I just realized I forgot a homework assignment that was due yesterday.  No makeup on that.

Anyway, all of the above is just introduction.

A string of words to get me to the point.

And the point is this:

Say something, damn it.

Recently, over at the Slacktiverse, someone wrote this:
@chris the cynic - I love and very much look forward to your witty comments and mini-stories, and I'd be excited to read posts written by you, if that means anything.  
Yes, it does mean something.  It means a lot.  Sometimes it means everything.

I responded that if there's one thing that I wish I could get across to the people reading here it's, "Say something, damn it!"  I've already tried saying that, though in different words, but I figured that, in light of my current case of sadness, I'd try again.

I know how many people look at a given page.  Sort of.  Actually I know how many times a given page is looked at.  One person looks at the same page ten times, or ten people look at it once, and it's all the same from my end, but regardless I know how many times something is viewed.

I don't know what any of the people viewing it are thinking.  I mean some of them get here by accident when searching for something else on Google and a can guess that they're thinking something along the lines of, "What the fuck is this?" but beyond that, I have no idea.

I don't know if people like what they see, I don't know if they hate it.  I don't know if the think it's brilliant, or horrible or the worst kind of mediocracy, or what.

The only way I know how you feel is if you tell me.

So please, for the love of god, tell me.  If you don't believe in god then for the love of psychology, or the love of sugar and spice and all things nice, or the love of me, or the love of something.

If ever I have written anything that you thought was worth reading, tell me.  Find that post and say whatever it is you liked about it.  If ever in the future I should write something that you like, tell me.

I don't want to disrespect those who have commented, I really appreciate it, especially the handful who do it regularly, and writing a post like this makes me worry that I'll alienate all of them and then I'll be stuck here completely alone just talking to myself until I realize that's a worthless endeavor and give up.

It's just... I'm needy alright.  I need validation because without it I'm left to my own devices and my own devices have been marinating in depression for over a decade and even knowing that doesn't change the way it feels when they tell me things that I don't want to hear.  So, yeah, it's the depression that makes me feel like everyone who doesn't comment on a post obviously thought it was a waste of their time reading it, but intellectually knowing it doesn't change the fact that it feels that way.

And even if I go, "Ok, clearly not everyone hated it," there's still a question of how many people didn't.  Ten percent?  One percent?

There were six comments on this post.  The first was a troll.  It's in the spamtrap now.  The second was me commenting on the oddness of that spesific troll, who generally goes after atheist sites, picking a Snarky Twilight post to troll.  The third was the troll repeating the exact same comment.  It's also in the spamtrap now.  The fourth was me saying that's really not hard for me to spamtrap spam on the off chance that saying that would make the troll realize that no matter how many times he copied and pasted the same rant, it would never stay up.

The fifth was actually about the post.

The sixth was me thanking the person for speaking up because now, finally, there was an on topic comment.

Six comments has to put it pretty far up there in terms of response, but two of them were trolling and three of them were me.  So, as far as I know, no one else, but that one person, saw anything of value in that post.  Maybe that's true, maybe it's not, but it's all I have to go on.

Other things have no comments whatsoever.  For all I know people clicked over, took one look at the thing, decided it wasn't even worth reading in it's entirety, and left.

So, please, if you have anything to say, even if you don't think it's important, say it.  On any post at all.  Old, new, whatever.  Just speak up.



* One of them, I remember now, was that the old blogger interface is gone.  The new one is better for writing and editing posts, which is important, unfortunately it's also ugly and very annoying if you're trying to find something you've already said (in the old one, on the page where posts are listed, I could expand a post to see what I said in it, on the new one I have to go to a separate page to do that), it's harder to navigate by tags because they're in a drop down menu instead of just listed along the side, the stats page is disgusting, and overall it's an incredible eyesore.

It seems to be designed to make anyone who looks at it for any length of time think, "Why the fuck did I choose to start my blog on blogger?"