Friday, January 31, 2014

October 2012

So, um, I completely forgot about the monthly indexes I was doing, and forgot for more than a year.

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

General Stories/Ideas for Stories:
The odds don't matter (Story fragment in a semi-Calvinist Dystopia) - If the only way to save the one you love from Hell (and you from being dragged to Heaven rather than accompany loved one) is to make war on God... do the odds of success matter?

In which I pretend the dream I had last night might seriously interest someone as a time travel story/series of stories - So, medication.  First it made it difficult to sleep and I ended up achieving basically complete darkness to deal with that.  Then it made it impossible to sleep.  Something about the form of insomnia, combined with the complete darkness, made it so that while I never got completely to sleep I was able to dream, and things just got weird.

Tam ea communis et universa precatio est quam creare posse - Not a story.  The Universal Lord's Prayer... in Latin.

"Life's not fair," is no excuse - A child confronting an adult and a larger philosophical point.

The Lovecraft reference that needs to exist - Just once someone needs to realize that if something is quoting Lovecraft it is not, in fact, an ancient tome they need to be afraid of.

My Zombie Apocalypse Team:
What is love - Snarky Bella and I discuss the meaning of love.

Traveling back to right what shouldn't go wrong - this is the first of two pieces explaining how Talking Time Travel at the Gas Station fits into the rest of the story.  It comes before that fragment.
Why we can't go back - This is the second, and happens after Talking Time Travel at the Gas Station.

General Left Behind based stuff:
Her Bailiwick - The use of the word demanded that there be a Warehouse 13 crossover.  Extremely Short.

Skewed Slightly to the Left stuff:
After the bomb - Loretta and Verna work together to get word out, and prepare search and rescue teams, Cameron talks to his dad and learns that Chloe is outside.

(Possibly Apocryphal) Before the Potentate's Speech - Nicolae rubs it in, twists the knife, whatever metaphoric language you want.  Rayford could have saved millions and didn't.

Getting There - Cameron gets unexpected help in his search for Chloe.

Image Posts:
Image post: fallen leaves glazed in rain - What it sounds like.  I have a camera.

Depression stuff:
My life, objectively, sucks - Finally dealt with the depression, things still were pretty bad.

Me Stuff:
Something I want to do with gimp - I'd have to reproduce the whole post to be more specific, sorry.

I am, officially, out of energy and the follow up Update on yesterday are the kind of ephemeral stuff that is included for completeness only.

I want stamps - Still do.  the problem is that stamps are basically money, and so you can't exactly get giant quantities for free.

To the person who shouted out a car window at me while I was walking up the hill - This may be valuable to you if you're ever in a position where you, in a moving car, feel the need to communicate with a pedestrian.

Does this happen to you? - Anyone else truly deeply love someone (familial/friendship love I'm talking here) who happens to be a jerk?

Yesterday - Probably the definitive post on my evil aunt and the divided property and the drug dealing and all the rest, but if I reread it to make sure I'd just get depressed.

Something I saw - A VW bug completely covered in bumper stickers reading "Legalize Love".  I wish I'd been able to get my camera out in time.

There was just an earthquake - Doesn't happen much around here.

Another Random Thought: Intertextuality - Why I can't watch The Matrix without feeling like Morpheus is trying to sell me pistachios.

Finding Newspapers - I had a brilliant plan that involved spamming the editorial pages of newspapers across the country.  It never came to pass.  This was asking how to find newspapers.

The world at large stuff:
The 'verse is moving - Waiting more than a year to do this really does have some odd feelings attached.  When the Slacktiverse at Typepad was closing there was a rush to find a new home and Blogger was chosen because it was known by people willing to go ahead and set it up, but (as a blogger user I can assure you) moderation sort of sucks here.  So that proved temporary before we settled at wordpress.  This was announcing the initial move to blogger.

Being a religion, in itself, is not enough to make you tax exempt - It's true.  Also, it is my argument that, even though it's exactly what they want, when pastors willfully break the law by turning their organizations into the very political entities they swore they would never be when they applied for tax exempt status, the IRS should revoke said status.

Team Big Bird - Don't even bother, included for completeness only.  I missed one line of what was trademarked and that was the only line that mattered.

Mark Hamill is fun - He is, but the video that proved it isn't there anymore.  (Cries.)

What the hell are the rest of you thinking? (Directed only at those in the US) - Remember when a Romney Ryan presidency seemed possible?  Yeah...

A thought on Earthquakes, and Faults, and Jobs - My job creation plan.

Random thought for the day - I want them to release full length read through of scripts, as well as full length pre-effects shots, in addition to finished movies.

They Live (a movie you should see) - It could be a metaphor for capitalism, or objectivsim, or the patriarchy, or the ... anything that keeps people down.  But the point is, you should see it.  Also the origin of the phrase, "I'm all out of bubblegum."

Put The Candle Back! (A post about policy toward transgender students in a town I'd never heard of) - A schoolboard put in place a good policy to protect it's students.  Then revoked it soon after.

From my sister: "Do you hate gays? Well, if you do, join me this election day and vote Yes on One." (Yes on One is a vote for marriage equality) - My sister is a big believer in framing.  If people she agreed with just framed shit right they could get people she disagrees with to vote for policies she agrees with.  I ... disagree.

Want the Zompocalypse? Vote Romney. - Joss Whedon endorses Mitt Romney because only Romney is capable of driving this country so far into catastrophe as to cause the zombie apocalypse.

So, I just voted - If you want to learn something about Maine politics on a statewide level, this post may be for you.

An ad I saw: Vote Biblical Values (Tuesday, November 6) - Having already voted by this point, I had the ballot fresh in my mind and Biblical values weren't on it.  Except the whole love thy neighbor as thyself.  That was, and I did vote it.  Which is to say I voted for marriage equality.

The HMS Bounty - There were two, each made for a different film version of The Mutiny on the Bounty.  Now there's one less.  I made this post when the one near me sank.

Yard sign says "Don't Redefine Marriage" then radically redefines marriage - You can really tell this month was election season, can't you?

Blog stuff:
It's been a year - The blog turned a year old.

My spam is self loathing - It is.

Apparently none of you exist and none of this ever happened - The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Google committed one of the fuckups for which it is justly famous.  This time claiming that the blog had never been viewed.

Existential Crisis Averted - Google fixed the problem, in what for them was probably record time.

My first post at the Slacktiverse - Just a post directing people off site to read, "Long live the--" Wait, why is it "live"? -- Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the subjunctive.



Thursday, January 30, 2014

Twilight: Making sense of Alice's power

So, no story here, just a very simple: what the hell is the text telling us?

This is difficult because the text is first person and people lie to Bella.

For example Edward is all about how Alice is fallible when he first tells Bella about her powers but it will be a very important plot point in Book 2 that Edward thinks Alice is infallible, which Alice will deny because it's not exactly the best idea to get on the Grand Poobah of evil's "I want you on my team" list, but also because it's not true.  It's another important plot point in book 2 that Alice has utter blind spots.

Things she can't see at all.

When Alice first tells Bella about her powers she doesn't exactly lie, but she does undersell.  She sort of pulls an, "Always in motion the future is," commenting that the future depends on peoples decisions so if someone changes their decisions it can change everything.

Later on we'll learn that, while that's true, Alice can see the various possible futures that result from the undecided decisions.  She doesn't have to wait for someone to make up their mind to see the future, it's just that before they do make up their minds there are multiple possible futures for her to see and she doesn't know which one will come to pass.

Now Alice not letting on about this the first time might be because that wasn't working right for her at the time.  Not at all.

There are basically four things that can potentially mess up Alice's ability to see the future:
  1. Edward: I don't know that the text ever gets into this but he can read her mind, and then choose not to do the things she sees him doing.  Of course this would have to be instantaneous, if he made the decision based on reading her mind six weeks before the event he changes then she'd have six weeks worth of warning, "Hey, feedback made it so there is a future previously unforeseen."

    Until someone comes up with a better theory it has entered my head canon that the problem at the birthday party in New Moon was a result of Edward doing just this when there was just one drop of blood.  (His actions made it so there was a lot more blood and only then do we see everything going to shit.)
  2. Werewolves.  Or shape-shifters if you prefer.  Alice cannot see them at all.  The arguments for why are sort of crap.*  This means that any action they take part in Alice cannot see.  The more werewolves are involved in the world, the less powerful Alice becomes.

    Not only can Alice not see them, she can't see people affected by them until touching base with those people again.  (Bella had gone invisible to her after a werewolf saved her until she found out Bella was in fact alive.)
  3. Vampire-human hybrids.  Again, can't see them at all.  Again, the arguments for why are sort of crap.*  We don't see enough of them, since they appear at the end, to really get a feel for whether this is the same sort of blindspot as werewolves.
  4. James.  Alice's life before becoming a vampire was traumatic.  Her turning into a vampire was traumatic.  Finding out that James was coming for her is what caused her to be turned into a vampire (it was the only way that she even might survive.)  James murdered the only person who was ever nice to her.  All of Alice's memories before becoming a vampire were repressed, James being a part of that.

    When he comes she's off her game.  She sees him coming, but falls short on the where and when.  (She doesn't see that he and his companions will meet them at Vampire Baseball.)  She can't see what he's going to do well at all and her visions of the future come in muddled and unclear.

    Where other times she's able to prepare for multiple possible futures (created by yet to be decided decision point), with James she's blind until the future is almost present, specifically until he's made up his mind and even then her visions are vague and hard to interpret.

    There's no stated reason for this difference, and there's a decent chance that at the time she was supposed to be muddled and unclear all the time, but a simple way to reconcile this with the rest of the text is that James is a fuzzy spot because James is traumatic for her.  She can't focus on him clearly because her mind wants to shy away.
By the end of the series there's werewolves everywhere and more vampire-human hybrids than anyone ever expected and Edward is still Edward, so it's probably fair to say that Alice's power is severely diminished.

One thing I haven't mentioned in all this is focus.  Some visions come to Alice unbidden but she also has controlled future seeing.  She can focus on a person or a thing (or multiple but that apparently spreads her thin) and see that person/thing's future in detail.  Presumably this is when she sees the multiple possible futures that various decisions will lead to thing comes up.  Instead of there being the whole world out there to consider and letting the visions float in on their own, she can focus only on what affects this one person/thing and thus get a better read.

This can also be used to explain what she doesn't see.  If she's most comfortable checking the weather, then rather than bore herself by looking through each member of her family's day and every permutation thereof, she can probably be content to see, "Will there be sunlight?" and count on them being nigh indestructible vampires to keep themselves safe.  She also monitors incoming potential threats.

None of this would, say, alert her to an out of control van spinning toward Bella causing Edward to use super-speed to save her.

I want to close on this note:

Alice's power is strong enough that it can violate causality.  There are things that she only does because she saw that she would be doing them.  Stable time loop.

She looks into the future and sees herself doing something she wouldn't otherwise do.  So she does the thing.  Which is why she saw herself doing it when she looked into the future.


* There are two theories put forward on why Alice has blindspots.

One is that werewolves (briefly) cease to exist when they are transforming and therefore ... stuff.  No, it doesn't make any sense.  For this to be the explanation it would have to mean that vampire-human hybrids had similar existence failures.

The other is that Alice can't see them because she's never been one.  She can see humans because she's been human, she can see vampires because she's been a vampire.  This is silly.  You know what Alice says she can see the future of best?  The weather.  You know what Alice has never been?  The weather.

In the very first book she sees the interior of buildings.  Alice has never been a building.

She's also never been a cliff or an ocean but she can see those when Bella jumps off of one and into the other.  What she can't see is the werewolf who saves her.

I'm going to put forth a third theory right here right now: natural immunity.  If some people can naturally have the ability to turn into bear sized wolves then why the hell not have the natural ability to be unseen by oracular vision?

The closest that anything has come to just going, "Natural immunity," is, "Well... maybe it has something to do with the number of chromosomes."


[Twilight Index]

[Added after the writing but before the posting:]
Vaguely related, I've added three more designs to the Team [someone] shirt series available for purchase here.  Now it includes:
  • Team Alice: (I know this ends...)
  • Team Bella: (I am a rock; I am an island)
  • Team Edward: (Sparkling and Dead / is better than / Alive and Human)
In addition to:
  • Team Leah: (Let's get out of here together)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Edith and Ben: Meeting the Cullens

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings and the Slacktiverse.]

"It's nice to see you again," Caroline said. "This is my husband Esmund." He was smaller than the others, rounder too. One might think he was a dwarf, as in Tolkien, but he was too clean shaven and too far too inhumanly white for that.
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you," Esmund said. I responded with some pleasantry or other but my mind was elsewhere. Something was nagging at me and I couldn't work out what it was.
Something about their appearance. Caroline's appearance. But there was nothing odd there. The excessive whiteness I'd gotten used to and her clothing was certainly unremarkable enough. The same sort of casual clothes anyone might wear.
Then it hit me. "You look," I said to her, then hesitated for a moment, "younger."
She nodded. "There's no need for deception here. Outside I have to look old enough to be my adopted children's mother. Given when I stopped aging that can take some effort."
Presumably makeup and such was involved in that effort, which meant that it was effort that could go toward making them look like normal human beings. I wondered if she felt the same way about it as Edith: forced to hide it, but completely unashamed and so unwilling to change her appearance to hide it.
It was around that point that Alex made his entrance. "Hi, Edith!" he called from the top of the stairs and then was a blur. The blur stopped in front of us with him doing a pirouette that became a bow.
"Hey, Ben," he said and extended a hand to me. I shook it.
And then no one seemed to know what to say. Awkwardness. It was in the air.
And Jasmine came. She seemed to notice something and then asked, "Anyone object?"
"To what?" I asked, Alex smiled. The others shook their heads.
"Calm, happy feels," Edith told me.
"What?" I asked, followed almost immediately by, "Ohhh..." as I remembered what Jasmine could do. "Um, I guess not."
"If you change your mind, just say so," Jasmine said. And then the awkwardness melted away and a feeling of calm spread over me. That and a small, yet definite, upward tick in my mood.
"Is this what being high feels like?" I asked.
"Generally speaking, no." Edith said.
"More of a bright side of normal," Jasmine said.
Caroline just raised an eyebrow. I wasn't sure whom at.
Jasmine kept her distance, as if she were afraid of what she might do, but apart from that the way she moved reminded me of things that had no cause for fear. A feline grace, but more that of a lion than a house cat.
She greeted me and I greeted her, nothing terribly spectacular.
"Thank you," Esmund said. At first I wasn't sure who he was talking to and assumed Jasmine for easing the mood. Then he said, "We're so glad you came," and I realized he was talking to me. The way he said it made me realize he thought I was brave.
That was wrong. I was fully prepared to hide behind Edith if anything went sour. Plus since Edith could read minds I figured there would be advanced notice. Plus there was a matter of trust. I trusted Edith, and --even though we'd only met briefly on previous occasions-- I liked Alex. If Edith could comfortably live with these people, then vampires or no I trusted that they weren't the type to kill me.
Or horribly mutilate me, or whatever, as the case may be.
My mind drifted, and so did my eyes. I noticed their piano again. Much more impressive than the secondhand upright I knew from my home in Phoenix. It lived up to the name "grand" and Esmund noticed my interest, "Do you play?" he asked.
"No," I said. I never could stick with the lessons. I'd always feel like I was going nowhere and doomed to failure. "My father plays." Not well, mind you, but he plays. With passion. My list of things to do upon becoming absurdly wealthy included buying him a brilliant piano. One like the one the Cullens had.
"Do you play?" I asked.
"No," Esmund said. "Edith didn't tell you?"
And then Edith, I think, blushed. It's hard to tell with vampires because they're excessively white, and they stay excessively white regardless of all things. Well, all things internal. Fire a paint gun at one and they can have color pretty quick but that is neither here nor there and is achronological as well.
"She's the musical one," Esmund said.
"You should play him something," Alex said to Edith.
Edith started to protest then Alex added, "Don't if you don't want to, but consider who's giving you the advice."
It was said in a friendly way, and there was definitely more emphasis on the, "Don't if you don't want to," than the second half, but I couldn't help but wonder how often someone who can see the future pulls out that line of argument. "Fine, don't mind me, I'm just the person who can see the bloody future, what do I know?"
"I'd like to hear you play," I told Edith.
"Ok," Edith said. There was a nervousness in her voice that, even though I'd heard it before by now, still felt out of place. Edith and nervous still didn't occupy the same space in my brain.
She took me by the hand and led me to the piano. I sat on the bench beside her and she said, "This is Esmund's favorite of mine."
Before she could start I said, surprised, "You compose?"
"I've got a lot of time to fill," she said. Then she started playing something that reminded me of the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, but more complex.
When she finished I was speechless. Then she, haltingly, started to play another. Something simpler, something more modern. Once she was started it flowed and, without knowing what the right notes were, I knew she was hitting them. Without knowing the time it was in, I knew she was keeping it. Her awkward start was over and she was in the music.
I thought I could pick out a call back to Herman's Hermits. I felt a strain of a melody she'd once hummed to me. Something told me I was into something good,
There was, it seemed to me, a sadness in the song, but it was overpowered by a greater joy.
Something about major and minor scales maybe? Music is something I don't know.
When she finished she asked, with nervousness, "Did you like it?"
"I loved it," I said.
She glanced away. "I wrote it for you."
And, slowly, doing my best to make sure that if she didn't want me to I'd notice and stop, I leaned over and hugged her. Thankfully she did want me to, and we hugged each other for I don't know how long.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snarky Twilight: Meetings and greetings (Part 1)

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings and the Slacktiverse.]
[Part 1 because I had to cut it short on account of being low on time]

Bella: Hey, Carlisle.
Carlisle: Am I still trying to be as suspicious as possible?
Edward: NO! Pay attention the story.
Carlisle: Ok, because last time I was...
Bella: I remember. How are you?
Carlisle: Fine, and you look better than last time.
Bella: Probably because Edward hasn't tackled me recently, bounced my head off the pavement like a basket ball, lied to me, and tried to gaslight me in the recent past.
Carlisle: That would do it.
Carlisle: This is my wife, Esme.
Bella: Why is it hard to focus on you or get a sense what you look like?
Esme: Because my description is sort of impossible. I'm straight and curved, you see.
Bella: That would do it.
Bella: And your clothing, both of your clothes, is impossible to focus on why?
Esme: Because it's impossible too.
Carlisle: The text says the colors match the room.
Esme: But the single most established fact about the room is that it's colorless.
Bella: Meaning no colors match the room.
Esme: Exactly.
Alice: (bored) Hey, Edward.
Edward: You were supposed to come running down the stairs.
Alice: But I already came down to greet Bella.
Edward: You weren't supposed to.
Bella: So what's this I hear about you betting on murder?
Alice: Silly thing. I told them you wouldn't kill Edward.
Edward: (shock) You were betting on whether or not she would kill me?
*Alice nods*


Monday, January 27, 2014

Skewed Slightly to the Left: Getting to the other side.

[Originally posted at Slacktivist, and the Slacktiverse.]
[By someone who knows nothing about Israeli checkpoints, and also has no idea when Israel became East Germany such that the hard part is getting out, in the real world it's hard to get in, at least as I understand it.]

Cameron looked around at what had been gathered.
The people looked disreputable enough in that "These are respectable clothes, they just got slightly damaged when we looted them from the building we set fire to" kind of way. She was impressed by the number of school buses. They were cheap, she knew that. No one needed a school bus, or a school, these days, and the amount of remodeling necessary to avoid sending half of your passengers into a PTSD episode was absurd. So school buses were for those who couldn't afford much, weren't afraid to show it, and didn't mind the dirty looks everyone who wanted to NEVER THINK ABOUT THE RAPTURE AGAIN were sure to give. Even so, it was a lot of buses. As for the explosives, Cameron had no idea where those came from.
She sighed and said, "Tell me the plan one more time, but this time do it in a way that makes me believe it will actually work."
The smallest member of the group stepped forward, he hadn't uttered a word so far and Cameron had assumed he didn't speak English. When he said, "The plan is simple," in crisp English Cameron kicked herself. Her vocation and her faith both insisted that she test everything. Assumptions were never to be left untested.
The small man continued, "We rely on strategy, subterfuge, faith, and high explosives."
Cameron interrupted, "I've got that, but isn't setting off an explosion at point A to distract the guards from point B the oldest and thus most well prepared for form of distraction."
"Yes, that's the reason for points C and D," the small man said. "They'll anticipate that the events at point A might be a distraction, and investigate it without leaving the checkpoint unguarded. But when C goes off they'll wonder if A might have been a distraction for a crossing there. When they see bus one approaching the hole in the wall they'll be forced to send a larger force to C. Then when we set off D and they see an entire armada of buses--"
"Old school buses don't travel in armadas," Cameron said. "They ride in convoys."
"When they see the buses they'll have no choice but to assume that is the main incursion. And then you and Tison can sneak through at the point they least expect: The checkpoint itself."
Cameron still didn't like the plan, but she pushed that aside and asked, "And we place these explosives how?"
* * *
The preparations had, presumably, all been made, and Cameron and Tsion had been crawling toward the checkpoint under camouflage for an hour.
Cameron wished that she knew what was going on, but trying to get a look was too risky.
She wished Chloe had been here. That wasn't unusual, there were few situations where she didn't wish her wife was in "reach out and touch her" distance. What was different was that she wished Chloe were here because she was sure Chloe could have come up with a better plan than this.
The first explosion went off. It took all of Cameron's self control not to immediately look to see what was going on. Tsion seemed to have no such problems.
The wait for the second explosion was agonizing. At this point Cameron allowed herself to peek. The guards still at the checkpoint seemed to be on high alert, as Cameron has expected. If they couldn't be convinced to leave their posts all of this was pointless. When she heard the first of the empty buses approaching she saw a few guards peel off, but nowhere near enough.
After those guards had gotten some distance the final, and largest bomb went off.
In fact several smaller bombs it was designed to take down a sizable section of the wall, it was meant to appear to be the primary crossing point. Cameron heard the "armada" --the small man had insisted-- of buses immediately come to life and make for the gap in the wall.
When many of the guards attempted to head in that direction they found themselves under fire. The shots were not intended to hit anything, things would go worse if they did, they were intended to make the Israelis think that the opposition wanted to keep them pinned down at the checkpoint and away from the gap in the wall
This had the intended effect, no small miracle in Cameron's mind, of making them choose to abandon the checkpoint to try to stop what they though was a massive breach at the gap.
Cameron and Tsion left their cover and ran to the nearest concrete barricade, which they hid behind. Cameron had made the mistake of assuming once today, she wouldn't again. As far as she was concerned the checkpoint was still manned.
They moved from cover to cover until they were inside the defenses. There were still guards, but to few to have eyes everywhere. It was a bit of a dance to get around them, but nothing too major.
Soon Cameron and Tsion were out the other side and on Egyptian soil.
They disappeared into the night.
* * *
The headlines were about how a massive incursion had been prevented. The Israelis assumed that the buses, of which they stopped every single one, had had drivers who had gotten away, but been otherwise empty and were thus intended to cross the border, pick up people (and perhaps arms) hiding on the other side, and return them to Israel.
Tsion's escape went unnoticed.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Under control vs. under control (Wreck it Ralph and Frozen spoilers)

In Wreck it Ralph, Ralph at one point says to Vanellope, "You've got to get that glitch under control," she will say much the same to herself, and has been trying to follow that advice for her whole life, at least as she remembers it.

By under control they mean, "Make it never happen."  The same can be seen in in Frozen.  Now there's a lot to be said wrong about the way the parents, and trolls, acted in Frozen.

Trolls: I know, we'll mind wipe her so she'll have no idea why you're afraid you might hurt her and thus keeping your distance and therefor think that she's been completely abandoned by one of the people she loves most.

King: Good idea, and I shall do everything in my power to make sure that both of my daughters grow up emotionally broken.

But the point here is not how well meaning people can completely fuck things up.

The point is that there's this idea "Under Control" means making it so that the thing never happens.

Bottle it up inside, never let it out.  Build a dam with no way through, when it starts to over-top because of the ever growing lake behind it, don't open the floodgates --you never installed floodgates-- just make the dam even higher.

All focus is on the damn dam.

Under control means make it never happen.

We see a similar thing in Marvel's the Avengers where Captain America is convinced that Bruce Banner so much as letting off steam will mean the end of the world.

Tony Stark has a different idea, don't let it all build up inside until it finally boils over, let it out in a smaller controlled amount.

But the Avengers never really comments on who was right, which is why there's no need for spoilers for it here.

But the point is, whether you're Bruce, Elsa, or Vanellope under control means repressing.  It means suppressing a part of yourself, it means don't do that, full stop.

There's a reason that people have seen a connection to, say, being gay here.  "You've got to get these homosexual impulses under control," does means, "Stop fucking having them."  Of course being gay is not a superpower (that I know of, please send all contravening evidence to cpw at maine dot rr dot com) and it doesn't put other people at risk of hulk-smash or ice shards of through the heart if you lose control of it.

So under control means make sure it never happens.

But then something happens.

Vanellope finds herself in a situation where she'll die if she doesn't glitch.  For Elsa it's this:

[note that I have no sound on this computer, I'm just hoping this works]

Couldn't keep it in, Heaven knows I tried.
Don't let them in, don't let them see.
Be the good girl you always have to be.
Conceal don't feel, don't let them know.
Well, now they know!

Let it go, let it go.
Can't hold it back anymore.
Let it go, let it go.
Turn away and slam the door.
I don't care what they're going to say.
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway.

It's funny how some distance,
makes everything seem small.
And the fears that once controlled me, can't get to me at all
It's time to see what I can do,
to test the limits and break through.

Also she uses the word fractals and thus is awesome.  I'm easy to please.

Suddenly "under control" takes on new meaning.  Elsa has her power under control when she makes her ice palace, well under control.  It's beautiful and sturdy and fracking awesome.  If Disney isn't selling miniature versions for outrageous prices then Disney has forgotten how to make money.

Vanellope is able to make her way, unscathed, through an enemy horde, I'd call it an army but they were somewhat worse than that, steals a car, and rescues Ralph, when he's confused how she got to him she simply replies, "Don't worry, I got it under control."

And she does.  We never see her accidentally glitch again.  Instead she directs it into healthy pursuits, like saving her friend.  Under control stopped meaning never doing it and started meaning controlling where, when, and how you do it.

Elsa takes a bit longer to get her powers fully under control.  Her emotional story is more difficult, her psyche more broken, but by the end it's clear that it's by using it, by letting it out, that she gains control.

Under control stops meaning, "Make it never happen," and starts meaning, "Make it happen when you want it, how you want it and then it'll stop happening when you don't want it to."

It would be like if someone tried to get their movement under control by remaining perfectly still all the time.  It would never work.  At some point some part of their body is going to say, "Fuck this," and spasm.  But if instead the person tried to control their movement by moving, perhaps one day they could be a dancer or a fighter or any number of other things where being in control of when you move and how you move is important.

Under control stops meaning, "Don't be yourself," and starts meaning, "Be yourself the way you want to be (because if you try to suppress it it might start leaking out in ways you don't like.)"

It stops being, "Never get angry," for the Hulk, and starts being, "Let off steam so that you don't explode when things get too much," of course that assumes Tony was right and the movie doesn't address that.

That's a theme I could do to see more of.  Not, "Don't do this thing," but, "Do this thing in a healthy way."

And I could have sworn I had an actual point, but I lost track of it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Narnia (Snarky Twilight): Lucy, meet Bella.

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[Lucy has just discovered that reading a spell to make herself more beautiful, something she has never shown an interest in, will cause rampant death and destruction.  She says what's in bold italic.  After that we diverge from the main text.]

Lucy: I will say the spell.  I don’t care. I will.
Bella: Does that really sound like you?
Lucy: What?
Bella: Look, I'm just a story hopper looking for time off from my abusive misogynist alleged one true pairing, so clearly I don't have all the details here, but given your thoughts and actions in the past, do you think that's the sort of thing you'd say?
Lucy: I did say it.
Bella: That's true, but not what I asked.
*a pause*
Lucy: No. No, it doesn't. *Lucy's eyes become downcast here* I don't even know why I said it.
Bella: There's nothing to be ashamed of; most people do what their author writes them as doing.
Lucy: So what should I do?
Bella: You should do whatever you think is right, not just whatever the author writes.
Lucy: I won't say the spell.
Bella: See, that sounded like you.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Current financial situation

I'd rather not do these posts back to back and constantly and whatnot, especially since someone who donated before said they'd like more Snarky Twilight and Edith and Ben and I'd like to get on that.

That said, I was asked for clarification, so here clarification goes:
  1. Because of adventures in banking I have a credit card problem which will cause very bad things if I can't somehow get 200 additional US dollars in the next fortnight or so.  I've scraped together everything I can scrape and still come up short.  Given that I think everyone who can donate to help me already has, this represents a problem.
  2. Via negotiations with family that number is merely 200 and not 800, but the 600 dollar difference will need to be paid at some point, just not now.
  3. The money I owe to the university can be deferred for a bit.
  4. I have oil.  That's part of the reason, though only part of the reason, that everything I can muster still comes up short.  To be clear, if I didn't run out of oil I'd be fine for the month, but it took more than running out of oil for things to get fucked up.  Confluences of events and such.
  5. 200 dollars is what I need, 593.46 would be much, much better.
  6. Did I mention I have heat?
  7. There are a bevy of long term issues but that basically covers the short term.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The cost of an education

I am taking almost nothing this semester, at this point in school I'm retaking classes I did badly in and, SURPRISE!, with one exception they're all being postponed till next semester.

Yay.  My plan to graduate at the end of this semester will totally go according to plan.

So I'm taking that one re-take class that is available and another one to keep me sane but the one to keep me sane I'm taking at a low intensity level meaning it counts as, and is billed as, 1/3rd of a class.  So what does it cost to take 1 and 1/3rd classes? $1,559 US.  For those unfamiliar with local conventions for writing large numbers, that's one thousand five hundred fifty nine dollars, not one dollar, 55 cents, and 9 tenths of a cent.

Depending on where you live, you may think this is not that bad, or absolutely horrific.

For example, if you live in a certain theocratic absolute dictatorship that has no problem murdering its own people when they ask for equal rights, you probably find this horrific.  Because while having your own government kill you for having the temerity to freely speak your mind may be simple a fact of life, having to pay for education is downright barbaric.  If you live there odds are you're getting a much better education than I am and getting it for free.

If you live in much of the US you probably don't think it's that bad.  I go to a fairly cheap public university and so the cost of a bare bones no-minor four year degree if you somehow manage to play class schedule tetris perfectly and never take a class you don't need to and get all of the required classes without going a single credit over the minimum credits to graduate the total cost is actually less --you heard me: LESS-- than the median annual household income.  Cheap as cheap can be.  Of course I left out that I'm not counting the cost of books in the above figure of what it takes to take one and one third classes.

I'm not really sure why I'm writing this up.


I guess it's that two things happened today that are money related and I had to get them off my whatever somehow.

One was getting the exact figure (less books, of course) for school this semester.  Like I said before, this isn't an immediate concern.  I can in fact get away with paying late.

The other was getting a phone call from credit card company.  When my bank went all, "We're not doing any more online payments this month," the result was more than being hit with fees and having the payments revoked.  It also meant that payments got rerouted to my credit card filling it to the limit (possibly passed the limit, I'm still trying to work that out), this combined with revoking the previous payment to the card left it at just about double the fucking limit.

This wouldn't be a problem except unexpected running out of oil.  If I've run the numbers right I'm going to fall 200 dollars short of being able to fix things.  So fuck.


Actually, three things happened.  But the other one was yesterday.  I found out that I'm getting $180 a month less than I could otherwise be because of something my mother said, and I have been for as long as I've had an income.  So that's kind of annoying.  It might be able to be changed, but that does nothing for what's already been not gotten and it won't be in time for next month, that much is sure.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New post up at the Slacktiverse: Who decides what the fundamentals are?

Basically what the title says.  I have a new post up at the Slacktiverse.  It is called, "Who decides what the fundamentals are?" and it's about religion.

Go there and read it if you're interested.

It was in response to someone making the argument (Not in these words):
Fundamentalists are people who follow the fundamentals. 
If the people who follow the fundamentals are the bad ones, the fundamentals must be bad.
If the the fundamentals of the religion are bad, the whole religion must be bad.
It was in order to argue that being a Christian is anti LGBT rights no matter how good of a person you are, and the most unsound part of the argument is, of course: Fundamentalists are people who follow the fundamentals.

The fundamentals according to who?

But, like I said, if you're interested read the post.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Have I mentioned that I hate needing to have money?

So I asked for donations before, and people came through, and I doubt there are any more people to come through.

And now:
1 Just ran out of oil
2 The furnace is still somewhat broken but hopefully not so broken that I can't put off completely fixing it until I've had a few months to fill financial reserves.
3 Property taxes come due (did I mention I'm responsible for the expenses where I live now?)
4 Tuition
5 Books

Taxes and oil are really the problems.  (For the cost of one 50 dollar late fee tuition can be put off for the entire semester.)  They're not monthly expenses but were at least somewhat figured into the monthly bill I was paying to live here.  Ideally I would have had time after the switch from paying one bill to paying expenses directly to build up an excess from not needing to pay them and then pay them with that excess when they came due but because of timing it isn't working out that way.  Instead they're hitting me at the beginning of directly paying expenses meaning no reserve built up meaning fuckity fuck fuck fuck.

The oil is never supposed to get nearly low enough to run out to begin with but I had that whole thing with the oil company bullshitting me and such which is what caused it to run out the last time.  Now I have another oil company but because money haven't had the opportunity to get the tank up to the point that is usually the minimum before we call to refill.

So, yeah, major fuck.

So if I should seem down or distracted or whatnot, that could be why.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The weather, it is here. (image post)

It doesn't take a scientist to know that the climate is changing.  It takes a scientist to know the way in which the climate is changing and how this is being brought about, and what the trend is, and so forth.  Part of "so forth", by the way, is whether or not this climate change is normal or abnormal.

But all that it takes to know that the climate is changing is memory.  Things are not as they once were.

I can't speak for everywhere, but around here climate change hasn't made winters warmer, it hasn't made winters colder, it has abolished the very concept of winter.  Between the current winter snow storm and the last were autumn rains.  From front to back the seasons have got no sense of themselves anymore.

Everything has become seriously fucked up and while averages will bear out that this time of year is colder than what once was summer there's no counting on the idea that the weather will be winter weather for any length of time.

This fucks ski slopes all to hell.  Feet of snow will be dumped on them --Yay!-- and two days later a lukewarm rain will wash half of it away while turning the other half to ice --boo!-- the result being that even if a fresh layer of snow was just laid down the best you can hope for is, "Well, parts of it didn't suck," because under that fresh layer of snow is the ice from the rain, just waiting to be exposed.

Anyway, some pictures from outside the house today:

Night pictures don't always work right

There is no good angle on this tree from my house.
Hence the splicing of two together.
Same tree as the second picture, but a different angle with better lighting.
It's the tree at the end of my driveway.

The rain really, really cut down the snow piles in front of my house,
soon they'll be tall again;
then it will rain.

The people next door have more impressive trees than me.
Exhibit A.

Exhibit B.

The world.
Until the season radically changes in the span of a few days next.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Skewed Slightly to the Left: Calling for Help

[Originally posted at Slacktivisit.]
[Canonically Buck is with the admitted murderer Michael and plans to smuggle Tsion out of Israel into Egypt but is so helplessly inept He doesn't realize the Jordan River doesn't go to Egypt.  Here, well here Cameron calls for help.]

Cameron got out her satellite phone and prayed --not to God, just in that vague sense one prays-- that even though those who had given it to her were dead it was still secure.
"How many favors do I owe you?" she asked when she heard the other end pick up.
The answer was too quiet for Tsion to hear, which made Cameron feel somewhat less embarrassed about the call.
"You realize I could live a thousand years and still never repay that many."
The, "What do you need?" was definitely loud enough for Tsion to hear.
"I need to smuggle someone out of the country." There was only one country left on earth, hopefully that would be enough to tell her friend where she was. She didn't want to set off any keywords, though as soon as she had said it she realized "smuggle" might have done just that.
Codes were so much easier when worked out in advance.
"Where are you hoping to go?"
"To the things that laugh at time," she said. Time laughs at all things, the saying went, but the pyramids laugh at time. Hopefully this indicated that she and Tsion were near the Egyptian border and looking to cross it. Possibly it was too obscure a reference. At least it didn't have any keywords likely to trip surveillance software.
"I see."
There was a pause.
"This isn't exactly prime," strange usage of the word, Cameron noted, probably an attempt to created a code on the fly, "but if you can get to," a series of numbers was rattled off. Cameron jotted them down. All primes. "... then I think I can help."
It took her a moment. A much longer moment than she would have liked given how simple the code was, but she worked it out. The code was perhaps too simple: each digit N was represented by the Nth prime and when translated it was simple longitude and latitude.
If the other side had intercepted the call and cracked the code as she did, then going there might be walking into a trap. Still, it was a best option
The meet location was a fair distance off, but it stayed within borders and there were no real checkpoints in the way. A couple hastily erected roadblocks, but the problem with such hasty measures was that they could be circumvented.
She told her friend she'd try to make it, and told Tsion where they were going. They began the journey.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Resident Evil: Degeneration, some thoughts

At some point the makers of the Resident Evil games decided to try their hands at movie making.  I don't mean the live action, "Alice is awesome! (Why does Michelle Rodriguez always have to die?)" series of movies that are loosely connected to the games.  I mean actual movies that tie into the games.

Computer animated (I would argue badly) to match the games.

It had to happen.  The Resident Evil games were an attempt to take B-movies about zombies and make them into a third person shooter limited inventory version of adventure games.  (Seriously, they're puzzle games as much as Monkey Island ever was, just more shooting zombies.)  What started with movies was bound to come back around eventually.

So Resident Evil: Degeneration fits into the games' continuity and has characters from the games and stuff.

And the spoilers will start around here.

I'm not sure whether the timing of the two simultaneous zombie outbreaks was supposed to be coincidence or there's no kill like overkill but either way it struck an odd note with me.  Not necessarily off, just odd.

The first big surprise to me was when Leon showed up and spoke and it was Bear.  His style of voice acting is exactly what you'd expect for the character of Bear, quiet, reserved, thoughtful, generally level even tones and pacing.  It was ... different to hear it coming out of an action hero.  I think I like it in theory more than I liked it in real life.  The hero who keeps his cool, who has a soft meditative feel to his words definitely seems cool in the abstract to me, and maybe it worked in Kung Fu and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues (the first was my parents, the second was the one known to my sister and I) but I honestly don't remember, but here it didn't feel quite right.

Maybe I'm just so used to every other action hero being not that way that it's biased me against that kind of delivery.  It was still nice to hear a familiar voice.

While the movie is self contained there were definitely call backs that would make no sense to people unfamiliar with the mythos, for example Claire commenting on the oddity of heading out after hearing a human (not zombie) noise armed with the only thing that could be scrounged up: an umbrella decorated such that it exactly matched the logo of the Umbrella Corporation (the bad guys responsible for... well, just about everything in the games until they finally collapsed.)

When Claire and Leon met up I was confused as to why he didn't give her a gun, surely he had a back up.  Eventually I would come to understand and, in fact, approve of this disarming of previous action game star.

There came a moment in the movie when everything was going to shit and much seemed hopeless.  At this point Leon threw Claire his primary weapon and she used it to quickly kick ass and take-- actually just kick ass.  Apparently she was all out of bubble gum.  She wasn't a faux action girl or a damsel in distress, when needed she was totally there as actiony as you like.

Leon meanwhile got out of his predicament with his secondary pistol (I knew he wouldn't go in with just one weapon.)  But, moment saved, Claire gave the gun back to Leon and went back to being an unarmed member of the group.

It was only when Leon and Claire were talking after the fact that I understood.  Claire had chosen to oppose the forces of zombie-and-worse via public non-violent action.  She had chosen NOT to be the person with the gun.  When needed a gun could be passed to her and she could take on the role of Claire Redfield: Zombie Killer but when it wasn't needed. --which was the case for much of the movie because of Leon, cops, and sometimes marines-- she was choosing not to be that person.

That's something I don't see a lot of in this sort of movie.  There are the fighters and the useless and maybe mission support staff.  But the, "If we really need an extra gun, hand me one but otherwise I'm totally good corralling the civilians as a civilian," is something I don't think I've really seen.

And so choosing not to be armed while part of the group except when absolutely necessary becomes something larger.  It becomes a choice, a moral decision to be shield rather than sword.  It becomes, "I'm not taking the non-violent role here because I have to, I'm doing it because I choose to."

This is not to say that the movie didn't have an action-girl-all-the-time character.  It did.  Though her actionness was diminished by the fact that a good chunk of the movie was spent fighting her own brother which is morally fraught and difficult to do.

Also she became a somewhat love interest for Leon and he has enough already.  I haven't even played all of the games and he had more than enough in the first one he appeared in.  Leon and Claire were the male and female leads and player characters.  Of course they got shipped (but I don't recall anything canonically indicating romance.)  But Leon also got Ada Wong where there was definite chemistry and attraction and so forth.  Add in female cop from this movie and you've got:
1 Claire by default
2 Ada
3 Original character from movie
And whoever else the games have indicated romantic sparks with.  One would be enough.  Zero would be just fine (they're stories about zombies and assorted monsters, not romance.)

The movie also does a passable job at keeping you guessing about who is good and who is evil.  The person who looks in that movie coded way to be obviously evil isn't.  He's just a jerk.  (And an insider trader.)  While you can pick out the big bad when he first appears, the movie introduces doubt.

When that tea turns out to be just tea and not some kind of poison/drug/whatever.  When he admits to wrongdoing.  When you're not sure if he just faked his death or he just actually died.

It becomes possible to think you misjudged him and he actually isn't evil.  But, of course, he is.

Especially when it turns out that you misjudged the organization he worked for (he was the only evil person in it, everything else was good) because on first appearance it seemed like the thing that would be evil in a movie like this just as he did.

Also, for a little while at least, it's unclear if the terrorist is actually a terrorist or being framed.

So that uncertainty was well played, I thought.

The collapse of the not-evil just a jerk Senator and the not-evil just has a mole company I don't fully understand.

It seems like the movie could easily have ended thus:

Leon or Claire: Get us a press conference and we'll save the company whose stock you're heavily invested in from collapsing.

At press conference:

Leon: My name is Leon Kennedy and since surviving Raccoon City I have reported directly to the President and dealt with situations like this.  We may never learn the full truth of what happened in Raccoon City, but we now know the full truth of what happened here.  It's important to get that truth out because up to this point everyone has been lied to.  The people have been lied to, the government has been lied to, TerraSave has been lied to, WilPharma has been lied to, even the terrorists responsible for this attack were lied to.
Leon: Let me introduce fellow Raccoon City survivor and TerraSave member, Claire Redfield.
Claire: TerraSave has dedicated itself to stopping events like this and helping the survivors when such events do occur.  In that capacity we've constantly been on the lookout for the next Umbrella Corporation and that allowed us to be manipulated.
Claire: A few lies at the right time, a few videos without context, and we were turned against who we should have been supporting.  WilPharma wasn't researching new biological weapons, it was researching ways to deal with existing ones.  It has developed a vaccine against the T-virus which will allow us to finally eradicate the menace.
Claire: This attack was designed to be so horrible it would get every drop of the vaccine sent here, where it was all destroyed.  Combined with the destruction of the computers at WilPharma's facility, the vaccine would be lost and, because of TerraSave's protests against WilPharama, the company would take the blame for the outbreak.  It would be destroyed, and the actual guilty party would escape, with the only surviving data on the vaccine.  Which he could then sell to the highest bidder.
Claire: We at TerraSave need to do a better job of recognizing who is and isn't on our side.  WilPharma is on our side, and has been since the beginning.  The source we trusted, who gave us information implicating WilPharama in horrible crimes, was against us.  He staged those crimes and caused this outbreak.
Claire: We need to support the reconstruction of WilPharma so that the world can be inoculated against the T-virus and the virus eradicated from this earth.  The data on the vaccine was saved, all that is needed is to rebuild the facilities.
Claire: BUT we must also be ever vigilant when it comes to the next Umbrella.  For example, WilPharma's current facility is contaminated.  The entire thing should be incinerated.  If anyone tries to do anything else, if anyone tries to dig through the rubble, they are the enemy.  Everything we need to know about the vaccine has already been recovered, the only reason to sift through what remains is to look for the biological weapons that had to be stored in the facility to make the vaccine.
[shift back to Leon]
Leon: Since the collapse of Umbrella the T-virus has been on the black market.  The vaccine, if WilPharma is allowed to rebuild and produce it again, would make that worthless.  The T-virus would go the way of smallpox.  This attack was to stop that from happening.  It was about money, nothing more.  It was to destroy the vaccine and the company that made it so that the perpetrator could go on selling the T-virus on the black market.
Leon: He has been captured, but it's up to all of us to make sure that he doesn't succeed in his other goals.  We've recovered the data necessary to recreate the vaccine, now we just need to support WilPharma so they can manufacture it.

Except better because political speech writers would be involved and shit.

And stuff.  Look at the damn time, I must sleep.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Princess Story, Part 4

[Previously parts OneTwo, and Three.]

Since all decorum had been shattered with Princess Melitta's rush toward her first view of the ocean, Princess Lara decided not to have the formal banquet that had planned and instead allow herself, Melitta, and Prince Apobammos to have a smaller meal, at a private table, where they could talk without worrying about appearances.

Prince Apobammos finally learned Princess Lara's name and Princess Melitta told Lara to call her brother, "Apo," when Lara stumbled over, "Apobammos."

There was some small talk then Apobammos asked Lara, "So, how do you feel about being forced into a marriage."

Lara kept all emotion from her voice, "I always knew it was possible."

Apobammos, "As did I, but it doesn't mean either of us has to like it.  I don't."

"And you expected what?" Lara asked, "To marry for love?"

Apobammos and Melitta just looked at each other.

The silence started fine, but as it dragged on it grew awkward.

Finally Melitta said, "Our parents did, so Apo and I always hoped..."

"Mine say they were married five years before they even liked each other," Lara said.

"What about now?" Apobammos asked.

"That's awfully personal," Lara said.

"You brought it up," was Melitta's reply.

"They like each other well enough, but as far as I know they haven't shared the same bed since I was born," Lara said.  After a pause she added, "We're royalty.  Love is not for us."

Apobammos muttered, "We didn't choose to be royalty."

"But we were rewarded for it," Lara replied sharply.  "Every time I have to do something that I don't like because I'm royal I remind myself of all of the things, unearned, that have been given to me because I was born royal.

"That's the deal we all get when we're born prince or princess: instead of getting the things we earned we have to earn the things we've already gotten."

The silence was total and Lara realized she'd been far to harsh, she barely knew "Apo" and she was lecturing him.  It was too easy to assume the worst of someone who said a few things she disagreed with.

So she changed the subject, "Apo, tell me about your home."

Lara realized she'd chosen the right subject when Apo's eyes lit up.

"Pagorrytos sits at the border of the eastern desert, it is said to be where our ancestors first settled.  At its center is the sacred spring, it has no name.  It is simply called Kranon, one of the words for spring in the ancient tongue.

"Once it was vital for our survival, now there are aqueducts and the sacred spring is left untouched except for religious rituals.

"The city becomes newer the farther one travels from the spring.  Nearest the spring there are no buildings, only tents, said to be--"

"Reproductions," Melitta interjected

"Exacting reproductions of the ones our ancestors used.  Now they form our main temple.  They're ill suited for the job since they were designed as living quarters and such, but to step into the tent complex is like stepping into the past.

"Around those are mud brick buildings surrounded by a primitive wall.

"Then things become more advanced, as one moves closer to the edges of the city.  Our greatest buildings are at the perimeter, sculpted of marble.  Beyond them is the current defensive wall, which will some day be abandoned as the city expands and reformed into homes and businesses.  But for now beyond it lies the border."

Apo paused and for a moment Lara thought he was done.

"The eastern desert is left as a desert, but with the help of water from elsewhere, farms have been irrigated to it's edge.  Surrounding the city on the east is nothing but sand, on the west lush green farmlands."

This seemed like a ludicrously inefficient arrangement to Lara, but she admitted to herself that a sharp line between verdant fields and sandy desert would be a sight to behold.

Also a show of power.  The desert and farms would constantly be at war with each other, plants from the farmland trying to expand into the desert, sands from the desert encroaching on the farms.  To keep the border strictly enforced would require constant weeding and sand removal, an army of workers.  To be able to expend those resources on something that didn't actually matter would impress upon anyone smart enough to understand that the Eraymobatai were a much more powerful kingdom than their name suggested.

There was a short silence and then Melitta added, "And there's a spot, maybe halfway between home and the western border, where the lavender fields go on for as far as the eye can see.  Farther actually.  When they bloom..." she showed no signs of finishing her sentence she just smiled and seemed lost in thought or memory.

"The beautiful thing about Pagorrytos itself," Apo said, "is the sense of history.  To walk from the wall to the spring is to walk through time.  To see how building styles and materials have changed in the time since the founding.

"Some say the city clashes with itself, that it's discordant, but they're wrong.  The city remembers itself, and isn't afraid to be what it was and what it is at the same time."

Melitta added, "And some say that we all make deals with dark spirits and have flying carpets."

They discussed this for a bit, Lara had a flying carpet and was surprised that Melitta and Apo hadn't even known for sure they were real.  None of the discussion in that direction seemed very important to Lara and she forgot most of what was soon after it had been said.

When that had run its course she tried to learn more about her future husband, "Did you enjoy our library?" she asked.

"It's wonderful," he said, his voice full of enthusiasm.  "But somewhat strange to me.  Your lady, I'm afraid I've forgotten her name--"

"Margarita," Lara offered.

"Margarita," Apo continued, "explained that the moist air is a danger and so most works have to be kept sealed."

Lara nodded.

"Our libraries are completely different," Apo said, "everything, parchment, tablet, hide, is placed on a shelf open to the air."

"You enjoy libraries, Apo?" Lara asked.

"Books are practically his god," Melitta said. "If he revered them any more it would be blasphemous."

"I prefer adventures," Lara said.

"I like them well enough," Apo said, "but my heart belongs to history, poetry, and philosophy."

These were at least areas that Lara could speak on, and so she did, Melitta excused herself, clearly not interested.  Lara was able to find some common ground with Apo, but ultimately was unsatisfied.

The thing she agreed with him on most was not liking that circumstances would force them to marry.  In her beloved adventures love and marriage went together, even if she had always known that they wouldn't in her life.  Apo, Prince Apobammos of the Eraymobatai, was someone she could see herself becoming friends with, the best of friends even, but she saw no romance there.  Fiction always said that was wrong kind of love for a marriage.

Reality tended to indicate it was the best she could hope for.  And she'd known much worse was possible.  So why was she depressed when she returned to her chambers?