Monday, August 31, 2015

I have socks!

While from a purely pragmatic standpoint it would be better for me to continue to encourage you to embrace your inner Activision gamer and send me an email about buying skylanders, or prod you to buy The Princess Who Saved Herself from me, the fact is that, for the first time in a long time, I have socks.

Now the Princess never wore her socks, which is ok for her because she's the badass princess of awesomeville, but for me socks are kind of a necessity.  My feet are shaped weird anyway, I don't know the details because I'm not a foot person and thus they look like feet to me, but I've seen the reactions when one foot person called another food person over to take a look at these things.

I think it has something to do with the arch.  I've got a huge arch that doesn't stay arched which means that without proper support my foot gets all wacky and seems like it's absurdly wide for its length or absurdly short for it's width or something like that.  I do have a wide foot, but not as wide as it looks without arch support.

The other big thing is that whole thing about the heel-ankle-leg connection.  My heels need to be elevated (not a lot, just a bit) or else my foot will force itself into a position where the back of my shoe starts trying to gnaw my foot off at the ankle.

There's also something about toe length, but that is neither here nor there.  And I have a tendency to step on the side of my foot for no apparent reason every so often leading to a lot of near-sprained ankles and some actual sprains.

And all of this leads to having to have very precise adjustments to any shoe I get which I never do.  But that's where socks come in.  I can pull the arch supporting heel elevating inserts out of one pair of shoes, stick them into another, and the total lack of precision is ok because fucking socks are fantastic.

If a centimeter of elevation is the difference between things being fine and having my shoes try to gnaw off my feet, then think about how much comparative leeway is provided by the softy cushy nature of completely ordinary socks.

And, also, wearing shoes without socks leads to not just general problems and spesific blisters, but also disgusting sweatyness.



Something I'm selling: Older Skylanders

The Skylanders franchise is coming up on its fifth game.  September 20th Skylanders: Superchargers comes out.  The games have no set player character, instead you can play as any Skylander by placing it on an NFC device called the "The Portal of Power" it reads the chip in the toy figure and lets you play as the character in game.

Each game is backwards compatible with figures from the previous games so a figure from the original will work in every single game, a figure from the second will work in all but the first one, and so forth.  It's mildly more complicated than that because some figures from later games will work in earlier ones if they're a version of a character used in the earlier game, but in general a figure from game N will work in games ≥ N.

A while back I discovered that elder weasel had all current Skylanders games, and had played them to completion, except the earliest one.  Munchkin weasel has been similarly limited as they share their games (sometimes with acrimony, but generally well.)

So, I set out to rectify this.  Since it is the first game, it's compatible with the fewest figures, and since they don't have the first game the only first game figures they have are three that were picked up at a yard sale.

The practical result of all of this is that I have a Christmas present for the munchkins, though I may well decide not to wait that long (I could just give it to them the next time I see them, but there's not really an occasion) but also, because buying firgures to go with the game is incredibly expensive if done one at a time (the problem is mostly shipping, shipping sucks) I have a number of duplicate figures to get rid of.

The Skylanders games are:
  • Spyro's Adventure
  • Giants
  • Swap Force
  • Trap Team
  • Superchargers
Trap Team is recent enough that not many people were throwing them into "Random lot of figures" though I think I do have a couple.  I definitely have a one armed Christmas lobster called "LobStar" with a throwing star from Trap Team, which might be worth something if not for the fact that it's supposed to have two arms.

Superchargers isn't out yet.

Other than that, if you want or a child you know wants a figure or figures from the other games (Spyro's Adventure, Giants, Swap Force) send me your wishlist and what you'd pay for the items on it, along with your postal code so I can figure out shipping.  There's a non-zero chance I can help you out.

My email is: cpw (at) maine (dot) rr (dot) com
Link to email. (Assuming neither I nor blogger fucked up the link.)

I can't give the excess away free out of the kindness of my heart, but I can probably do better than you'll find elsewhere, and probably also better than whatever prices I post to my ebay account once I've done the math to figure out how to price them.

Also, this is where I really go into no-scruples sales mode, if you've never tried Skylanders and want to start with the new game, consider that every currently existing figure is compatible with it so you could go here, pick out an entire roster of ones you'd like in the new game, send me a list, and (depending on how your list compares to what I've got) get yourself a decent little army to throw at said new game when it comes out on September 20th.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

End of August venting.

My washing machine doesn't work.  Taking laundry to a laundromat (there is one 15 minutes walk from my house, no closer) would undo progress I've made on unfucking my back.  Mind you a fair amount of progress might have been unmade not long ago when I went to take a shower only to discover that the shower curtain rod had fallen down and, since putting it back up is a two person job, there was an inordinate amount of reaching up high, having to retrieve something that had fallen down low, and screaming profanity at inanimate objects.

Did I mention that this was when I wanted to take a shower?  Why, because I'd just walked across town to mail a couple books but it was hot and I was slow and as a result the post office closed before I made it and thus it was all for nothing but I was really in need of a shower when I got home.  In fact I took off my sweat drenched clothes before really taking into account the shower curtain rod being down so frustrated, exhausted, sweaty, naked, and shouting profanity at inanimate objects for being difficult.

I am a model of dignity.

The good news is that the whole going to to mail books is because putting The Princess Who Saved Herself on ebay and then mentioning it at Slacktivist has gotten some nice results.  Six I've shipped out, there are the two I failed to ship today, and six left to sell.  And it's a good thing I looked at that because I thought it was seven left to sell because, apparently, I can't count.  So yay for being able to revise an ebay listing.

The shower curtain ripped because it is old and frail.

The only clean towels I have are three "all purpose towels" I got for half off at an end of summer clearance sale at the local supermarket.  My hamper is almost full, but I have no way to wash things.  I'm basically out of clean clothes.  I need to do something with the dirty clothes to avoid mold.

I was away from my house for two weeks during which time someone appears to have tried to deal with the flea infestation.  They failed.  What they did do, however, was inadvertently cause moisture to linger in places it should never, ever linger.  Even if the clothes don't get moldy, I have a definite mold problem now.

I can't really deal with because while my back has made great progress since it forced me to spend most of my time laying down (and hopefully the fixing of the shower curtain rod did not undo it all), dealing with the mold would require bending on a level that I really can't right now.

Never had a mold problem before.  I don't like it.

So, where were we?  Need to repair or replace my washing machine.  Sure as hell can't afford that since it's beyond my ability to repair or, indeed, diagnose (I tried; I failed.)

This has left me increasingly screwed over on the clothes and towels front.

On the way out of the bathroom after a not really shower (I needed to lay down because back) I somehow managed to knock over and shatter the glass I have been using to wash out my mouth broken glass all over the place that I'm most likely to be barefoot ... honestly feels just about right.

The classes that I wanted to take before I graduated and thus decided to stay in school one more year for aren't being offered in spite of being promised so fuck you university, but I have to take something because if I don't I lose my psychologist and psychatrist and we didn't make any kind of transition plan because I swore that I'd be staying one more year because the university swore it would offer those classes.

So, fuck you university, but not attending isn't really a valid option.  It would have been if I'd known they'd pull this kind of a shit a year ago, but a year ago we still had a classics program and despite walking to the brink repeatedly we'd always backed off when it was pointed out, in detail, how stupid what the leadership was doing actually was.  Now we have officially adopted an approach toward policy that can best be described as "self immolation".

You could see things were bad, but no one knew they would get this bad this fast a year ago.  So it was always taken as a given that I'd be here this year, and I am entirely unready to just switch over to an entirely new mental health team.  Which means that in two days I'm returning to university.  No, I cannot possibly pay for it.

If I do the absolute minimum necessary to keep being a student and thus keep my mental healthcare it'll cost $997 plus a fifty dollar late fee since I won't have that money in two days, plus an outside credit handling service fee because I won't have the money in cash.

Of course, if I'm going to fucking be there for another year it makes more sense to actually dig up the information I had on minors and earn one of those because I'm close to like twenty seven of them (ok, more like seven, but my fields of study include hyperbole and hyperbolas; I could have resisted, but why bother?)

So a thousand dollars that I don't have there, and that's doing the bare minimum to keep my mental health people.

While I was distracted by all of the other fucking shit going on in my life, I lost track of expenses for the house.  Also, dentistry.  Dentistry is very important.  That's about $800

Fixing or replacing the washing machine is OH MY FUCKING GOD I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

I have on hand ... about the price of eight copies of The Princess Who Saved Herself, minus ebay and Paypal's cuts and minus the price of shipping each of them.


And the flea problem could be dealt with much more easily if I could clean, but my fucking back (although it's getting there, it's taken me long enough to write this post that I can tell now that the shower curtain rod thing only appears to have been a temporary "Oh God, it hurts," rather than a lasting setback.)


And university starts on monday which means that I should figure out what I'm doing beyond "something" but every time I've tried to I end up just wanting to curl up in a ball and give up.

And the heat makes me sick whenever I have to walk anywhere.

And I've been utterly failing at staying hydrated.

And my approach toward food is sort of like this comic strip, except I do have food, I just don't have dishes.  Whenever I think about doing the dishes I go into the same give up and lie down mode that trying to figure out classes causes.

And, in general, I have overall feelings of fuuuuuck.

And I wish this were more coherent.  And I wish I could see a light that wasn't an onrushing train.  And I wish I had clean clothes.  And I wish I could just crank out some Edith and Ben, Princess Story, Skewed Slightly to the Left, and such.

But at the moment I mostly feel: fuck.

Friday, August 28, 2015

On patent law and copyright law

I mentioned in the post about Lego that patent law is designed to spur innovation and is therefore designed for expiration.

To briefly describe that again:

If you invent something then you can, if you want, try to keep how it works a secret and thus maintain a monopoly on its use forever.  But (big giant capital letter because it's the beginning of a sentence "but") if you go that route you risk having someone figure out how you did what you did, do it themselves, and possibly put you out of business by doing it more cheaply, with more flash, or with a better advertising campaign.

If you want your idea to be protected under law then you have to enter into a bargain.  You don't get to keep secrets.  You have to tell the government your complete idea in enough detail that anyone with the right tools can reproduce it themselves and then the government makes that information public knowledge.  (Seriously, if you've every wondered how something works, figure out the patent number and look it up.  It's all there.)

In exchange the government will prevent anyone else from using your ideas without your permission for the patent's duration.  In the US that's twenty years.  That is all.  Twenty years an not a bit more.  After that time runs out anyone can look at your patent, take from it whatever the fuck they want, and build on your idea.

This is all about innovation.  People are a lot more willing to innovate if they can reap the rewards of said innovation, hence the 20 year monopoly.  At the same time, innovation works best when ideas are shared.  Hence the expiration date.

Why is Velcro everywhere?  Patent expired.  Zippers?  Patent expired.  So forth.

Want to make a revolutionary new type of coat?  You don't have to get into an extended negotiation with the Universal Fastener Company* in order to use a zipper.  You can just use a damned zipper, not be faced with either bowing to the demands of the UFC or having to reinvent a way to open and close the coat that's quicker and more secure than buttons.

Patents thus represent a trade off between letting people reap the rewards of their own innovations and allowing innovators to draw on as much previous work as possible so they can push things forward instead of being bogged down with inventing ways to solve solved problems that are just different enough from existing ways to not be sued.

This is the system we have and, while it could doubtless be tweaked, it works.


Copyright is something else.

If you invent revolutionary new type of toaster, in twenty years I can used the heating element from that to invent my revolutionary new type of water purifier.  That's patents.

If you create a fictional world which is fucking ideal for examining the way privilege intersects with identity to support certain people while suppressing others ... I'll be dead of old age before anyone can use that to do their own explorations of things that you didn't cover.  My children, if I have any (haven't yet) may also be dead of old age.

That's just the first difference.

There was a time when to get a copyright you had to send in a copy to the copyright office, which you would think would ensure the works survival, but there have been problems with that.  Now, however, whatever you write is copyright protected which is nice because you don't have any hassle before you write your work, but it means that there's no definitive copy anywhere.  It can be lost entirely.

What's more, things go out of print fast.  Depending on exactly what was made, the copyright expires 75, 95, or 120 years after the author has died.  It's not unlikely that the work itself, unless it proved to be a hit that never went out of print, or was something important enough to never leave library shelves despite the limited space, will have basically ceased to exist by the time the author died.  75 years after the author is dead, when you can finally do a second printing that the original publisher refused, good like finding a copy anywhere.

Things aren't just being lost to us living in the here and now.  They're being lost to all future generations because this set up is antithetical to any attempts to preserve books.

Things are not this way for altruistic reasons.  Most authors have stopped seeing rewards from their works ten years after publication.  When copyright was different and authors had the option to renew or let their work become public domain in their own lifetime, most opted to not renew.

Additionally, the rights don't even rest with the authors.  As an author you sell exclusive rights to a publishing company because you don't have the money to do what is necessary to publish, distribute, and promote a book.  When the publisher stops printing, you as an author are fucked.  You've got no rights.

Patent law exists to spur innovation, copyright law exists to protect large businesses from competition.

The people pushing for longer and longer copyright periods aren't doing it because they want to keep making money off the work in question (usually; as a counter example Disney is, well, footnote**) but instead because they want out of print things (which is what happens to almost everything protected under copyright) to remain out of print so that they won't have to compete with it.

Originally this was just about preventing other publishers from picking up the work and offering it and thus crowding the market, but these days you can get all sorts of things from before the present copyright laws kicked in online for free.  Free is hard to compete with unless what you're offering is really something special.

Publishing, be it books or movies or games or tv shows or whatevers, is insulated from this competition, though, by the fact that sensibilities change.  This is a graph of what you can get new and undamaged from by way of books:

About half way through the 1920s copyright law changed.  Notice something?  If you're not getting the initial offering, and you want to get a book without having to hunt for a used copy in decent condition at a reasonable price you had better the fuck like what has yet to fall out of print or things from before 1923.  A lot has changed since 1923.

And that reasonable price thing is a serious concern.  People understand supply and demand.

For example, I have a copy of of the Official Star Trek Cooking Manual (Compiled by Mary Ann Piccard from the logbook of Nurse Chapel).  Why?  Because my parents were Star Trek fans in 1978 when the thing came out at a cost of $1.95.  (They still are Star Trek fans, by the way, but since Star Trek was viciously murdered by Nu-Trek it hasn't come up much.)

Cost $1.95  Inflation adjusted cost: $7.14.  How much you have to get a copy: $66.99 plus shipping.  That's used.  If you want a copy that has no wear because someone got it thirty-seven years ago and then never bothered to actually open it up and read the thing, you're looking at $171.22 plus shipping.

People understand supply and demand, and since the supply is dead, and the demand still exists, you you've got to pay 3,435%  Part of what this means is that more recent Star Trek Cook Book (with Nelix on the cover) which costs a lot more than the original did (if we adjust for inflation, it still costs three times as much) has no competition from the original Cooking Manual.

If copyright law were like patent law, the Cooking Manual would be available for free to everyone, and anyone with a printing press could make brand new hard copies.  Which is how it should be because growing up with my mom making apple pancakes (something she personally adapted from an old Vulcan recipe for apple omelets) was great.

Also Captain Kirk's chicken sandwich (the one the tribbles ate) has my vote as the best sandwich in all of creation.

And, of course, it was from the book that I learned how to make Romulan Tangerine Lamps:

So it would be great if people who can't afford to pay more than 60 dollars for a mass market paperback could get the book.

But, if copyright law were like patent law then people who wanted to cook Star Trek food might go the free option of looking up the Coooking Manual instead of paying the twenty three dollars for the new cook book and the company would lose sales as a result.

An obvious solution would be for the company to make the new book worth the twenty three dollars even if you already have the old book which, given when it was written, only covered the original series anyway.  But why do that when you can just make sure you'll never have to compete?


If copyright law were designed to protect creators, enrich our world, and encourage artistic endeavor, it would probably work something like this:
  • Copyright would still cover things from the moment of creation, but there would be some kind of strong incentive to file the copyright officially which would include sending a damned copy off to the copyright office and said copy would then be stored in a climate controlled minimal decay vault and have a digital copy made inasmuch as it was possible to do so.
  • When a work goes out of print, all rights revert to the original creator(s).
  • Copyright would have to be renewed at 10 years (maybe a 20 dollar filing fee or something, but the point is that someone has to actually want to maintain it)
  • Copyright would expire, like patents.  20 years is probably a good time frame for copyright too.
  • Once copyright expired, the digital copies held by the copyright office would be put in a free to access online database the same way that patents are.
It looks nothing like that.


For a film it's somewhat difficult to work out what "original creators" means.  Obviously the ones who worked on the script would get the rights to their versions.  Probably the director gets full rights to the movie.  The actors would get the rights to their characters.  Prop department workers to their props, set designers to the locations they designed, so on, so forth.  Film is fucking complex.

So too are video games.  Similar considerations would need to be taken into account.

Also, an appropriate legal definition of what "Out of Print" means would need to be come up with.  It could probably be done by some kind of metric on the ease of getting a new copy.  (Printing one book to say, "Hey, it's still in print," needs to not count as in print, but not doing another print run yet because the book is highly available needs to count as in print.)

So there are complexities involved, for sure, but the point is this:
  • Patent law is the way it is because it is designed to do good things.
  • Copyright law is the way it is because it is designed to protect corporate interests to the exclusion of doing good things.
  • That is fucked up.


* It's not called that anymore, for what it's worth.

** Selected Disney movies that would be public domain by the end of the year if copyright duration equaled patent duration:

Actually, wait.  First let me say something.  Keep in mind, as you read this list, that it is merely a sampling.  Not in any way exhaustive.  It's just excerpts.  It is, in a word: short.
  • Toy Story
  • Pocahontas
  • The Jungle Book (Live Action)
  • The Lion King
  • The Three Musketeers
  • Cool Runnings
  • Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
  • Aladdin
  • The Mighty Ducks (and the first sequel)
  • The Rocketeer
  • The Rescuers Down Under (the original The Rescuers too, of course)
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (and sequel)
  • Flight of the Navigator
  • Tron
  • The Fox and the Hound
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
  • Escape to Witch Mountain (and Return from Witch Mountain)
  • Robin Hood
  • The Aristocats
  • The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (I have no idea what this is, and would probably be let down if I did, but great title.)
  • The Love Bug, Herbie Rides Again, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, Herbie Goes Bananas
  • The Jungle Book (Animated)
  • Mary Poppins
  • The Sword in the Stone
  • The Incredible Journey (I only know this from once watching Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey at a friend's house and this accidentally put in at first.)
  • Almost Angels
  • Babes in Toyland
  • The Parent Trap
  • The Absent-Minded Professor (and Son of Flubber)
  • One Hundred and One Dalmatians
  • Swiss Family Robinson
  • Pollyanna
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • Old Yeller
  • The Littlest Outlaw
  • Lady and the Tramp
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • Peter Pan
  • The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Treasure Island
  • Cinderella
  • Song of the South (not that any decent person would want it except, perhaps, as an example of "They seriously made this")
  • Bambi
  • Dumbo
  • Fantasia
  • Pinocchio
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Now, obviously, anyone can make a version Cinderella (provided it doesn't use Disney's version), and there are a few things like that on the list.  But, even with something like Cinderella, it might be a good thing we'd spent the last 75 years improving on Disney's version.

There's often (though not always) a strong desire to share your childhood with, you know, children.  But the problem about your childhood, assuming you are not now a child, is that we've made progress since then which means that stuff from your childhood tends to be problematic like whoa.

Thus the idea of [whatever] but less problematic, could, I think, be appealing.  To do that, however, you need to be able to take the [whatever] and change it.  Which you can't do.  The best you can do is [whatever]-esque but less problematic.

Sphere of Potential (image post)

At Ana Mardoll's I made an open thread of the same name using this image, but I noted that having the image a reasonable size meant an unfortunately loss of detail.

Here's the image from there:

You get the ... oh fuck, horrible pun must be averted.  You get the idea.  Focus on the flower, background out of focus, very nice attempt on the flower's part to approximate a perfect sphere.

If we get rid of the background I can give you this, but it's still at about one third of original size:

If we give up on getting the full flower head, then we don't have to scale and thus:

This was never going to be a long post, but maybe one more picture, a sort of balance between the urge not to scale and the conflicting desire to to show the shape of things:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Kim Possible -- Forgotten Seeds, Chapter 6: Getting Packed

[Parts One, Two, Three Four, and Five]

When Horatio was the only one not to show up in the room they planned to meet, Surge decided to go looking for him.  True, he wasn't late --instead the others were early-- but he'd looked fairly bad the last time she saw him and she was worried.

She found him half collapsed, holding on to a doorway --with what looked like desperation-- to keep from collapsing the rest of the way.

"Hey," she said.  No response.

She walked closer.

"Horratio."  Nothing.

She tapped him on the shoulder.  He looked up, he seemed exhausted.  "Need help?" She asked.

He simply nodded.

Surge took his right arm, put it over her shoulders, held it in place by holding his right hand with hers, and put her left arm around his waist.  With her support he was able to walk, and together they made their way to the meeting room.

* * *

When Surge helped Horatio come in, he seemed barely able to walk, even with the help.  Kim was concerned.  She had no idea what was causing him to deteriorate faster than the others, but he obviously was and it wasn't good.

On the slightly positive side, it looked like all of the others --even Shego-- were likewise concerned.  Things would definitely go better if they all cared about each other's well-being.

"Still a bit early," Kim said, "but unless someone has something really interesting they want to finish," six of the others glared at Kim.  "Ok, let's get started.

"Jade isn't a viable option for moving all of us, and leaving anyone behind would be a very bad idea, so we needed to find another way."

"Why do I get the feeling there's something you're not telling us?" Hawk asked.

"Because there's something she's not telling you," Shego said.

"You're so helpful," Kim shot at Shego.

"I try to be, Cupcake," Shego said in voice that was so mock-innocent and and overly-sweet that Kim felt like she should be checking her insulin levels.

"The good news is that GJ brought an old shuttle up here as part of a transportation plan that never panned out, which means that it's still here."

"I didn't see a launch pad set up," Blok said.

"Are we really going to count on 500 year old rocket fuel?" Henry asked.

"There's no fuel," Kim said.

That caused an uproar.  Shego was the one to stop it.  It didn't take much from her.  She shouted, "Shut Up!" and then growled.  Things almost immediately became silent.

"It's an old shuttle.  The kind they invented the term 'Space Shuttle' to describe," Shego said.  "I don't know what they had when you people went under, but they were still in use when I was caught so I remember them pretty well and the only thing that matters to us right now is that the shuttles never flew.  They were gliders."

"Jade can get it to earth orbit and throw on the breaks to start the decent, then we glide it down like in the days of old," Kim said.

"And by 'we' she means me," Shego said.  "I'm piloting it down to earth."

"The important thing is that we don't need to fully fuel it, all we need is maneuvering," Kim said.

"This sounds like a horrible idea," Hawk said.  "I like it."

"How do you know it won't just blow up?" Surge asked.

Kim didn't say anything.  Nor did Shego.

Surge turned to Horatio, "Can you--"

He shook his head before she reached the question, but Kim knew what it was.  Their success was not preordained.  Whatever was wrong with Horatio, it was preventing him from 'looking ahead' to see what happened.  Or maybe he could never look that far 'ahead' anyway.

"I'm sure Kimberly wouldn't be going through with this plan if it weren't the safest option," Drakken said.

That didn't seem to reassure Surge.

"And, as much as it pains me to say it," Drakken added, "she is, in fact, all that."

Kim allowed herself a small smile.

"Where do we go from here?" Amy asked.

"The shuttle was intended to be a CRV, a kind of emergency lifeboat, but it was never actually retrofitted to carry additional people," Kim said. "In theory it can carry 11, but no shuttle has ever carried more than eight and I don't think we want to experiment.

"I'll be in Jade towing the shuttle, Shego will be piloting the shuttle, Jade will scan for the best area on the ice sheet to use a landing strip.  Once we're in the air," Kim realized it was a poor choice of words and hesitated a moment, "so to speak, there won't be a lot for the rest of you to do.  Until then, grab whatever you think is useful.

"The vacuum will have preserved the equipment here better than anything we can count on back home.  The shuttle will carry fourteen thousand four hundred kilograms--"

"Thirty two thousand pounds," Shego said.

"Thank you," Kim said with a total lack of gratitude.  Shego just smiled.  "And the bay is four point six meters by eighteen meters--"

"Fifteen by fifty-nine feet," Shego said.

"So," Kim continued, "with that in mind--"

"Loot everything," Shego said.

"Whatever will fit and you think is useful," Kim said, "we can transport to the shuttle site more or less the same way we got you all here.  Shego and I will be rigging up a trailer--

"Sled," Shego said.

"Sled that we trail, thus trailer," Kim said before finishing with, "better suited to transporting cargo.

"Once we're loaded up, we head home."

"Where is the shuttle site?" Amy asked.

"It's a little bit farther than the prison, in almost--"

"But not quite," Shego said.

Kim had had enough of the interruptions.

"Would you STOP that!?"

"No," was Shego's calm reply.

"Almost the opposite direction," Kim said.  "Anyway, the important thing is look around, check the computers, venture out into the places that are still without air --make sure to keep track of your O2 when you do-- and collect whatever might be of use."

"And on the topic of the thing she isn't telling you," Shego said, "It would be in our best interest to be ready to go in six hours or less, so don't think you have to fill up the entire thirty two thousand pounds."

"But don't skimp or hurry either," Kim said, "This is our best chance to get decent supplies and we may never have another opportunity like this.

"I know we all want to get home; I know that I would really like to go right now instead of spending more time up here, but you've all seen what the earth looks like and heard what everyone's said; if we want to survive we need to give ourselves every advantage.  Right now that means gathering supplies."

* * *

Most of the others had gone to computer terminals.  With Dr. Director's account info they'd been able to give every terminal complete access to all records, including inventory.

Horatio was still in the chair Surge had helped him collapse into.  Shego approached him.

"What is the most callous way I can put this?" Shego asked herself aloud.  "Oh, I've got it."  She paused for effect.  "If you let yourself die you'll be responsible for the death of 11% of the human race --assuming what you've said so far isn't bullshit."

For a few moments Horatio said nothing, he just looked at Shego in a way she found unnerving.

"I'll live long enough," he said, "assuming you don't get us blown up on the trip home."

* * *

"A genomic sequencer!" Amy said at the same time Drakken said, "A pan dimensional vortex inducer!"  The two were having great fun in a tech storage vault.

* * *

"So what are we looking for?" Henry asked.

"Food, weapons, space heaters," Hawk said.

"Building supplies too," Blok added.

"Just imagine trying to survive in the frigid wilderness and think of what you'd need to stay alive."

Henry thought for a moment.  "Water purification."

The other two looked at him.  He wasn't really sure how to interpret the looks.

"If you're comfortable drinking glacial ice that could, for all we know, have remnants of fallout from a war that was both nuclear and biological when all you've done to make that water safe is to merely boil it, that's fine," Henry said. "I'd prefer something more."

Hawk nodded.

Blok said, "Water purification: check."

* * *

"Now that we have transportation, I think we should head back to the prison," Surge said.

The fact that she hadn't even realized Surge was near her wasn't even what caught Kim off guard.  It was the entire concept of what she was saying.

"What?" Kim asked.

"The way I see it we should have at least three transport trailers, maybe four.  Two or three we use for transporting things from here to the shuttle.  We load one up, drop it off at the shuttle along with people, leave them there to load the shuttle, while that's going on a second team is back here loading up the next trailer.  If we have three instead of two we can make it so that there's never a time when there isn't a trailer to be loaded here and a trailer to be unloaded there, not even while transporting trailers between the two locations.

"The third or fourth trailer, we take back to the prison, along with a generous helping of air, and we load everything from the personal effects vault onto it.  We don't know what might be useful, we never really did a proper search, and there's no point in leaving that stuff up here."

"It's an interesting idea," Kim said.

"Just don't put me on the team that goes back to the prison," Surge said.  "I'm not good around dead people."

"I'll think about it," Kim said.

* * *

"Ok, Kimmie, here's your sitch," Shego said, placing as much disapproval on the word as she could muster.  "Drakken and Amy are doing their mad scientist thing and collecting everything we could ask for in that arena.  Blok, Hawk and Henry are looking into stuff we'll actually need for survival, food, water purification, things to use to build shelters and defend ourselves from any unhappy animals, heating elements, and the like.  Surge I haven't touched base with.  Horatio is out of play but assures me he'll live.

"Which presumably means it's time for us to start doing our part."

"Surge actually had an interesting idea about that," Kim said.

"Really?  She never struck me as an ideas person, do tell."

* * *

"Anything I can do to help?" Surge asked Horatio, who had moved to the computer terminal.

"Gopher mission," he said pointing at a list on the screen.

"I can do that," Surge said.  "There wouldn't happen to be a working printer around here somewhere, would there?"

* * *

Everyone was back in what was definitely now their official meeting room.

"We have some revisions to the plan that should make things easier," Kim said.  "Shego and I are going to construct four cargo sleds to haul behind Jade.  It's actually looking like it'll be a pretty simple and quick process.  Three will be used to ferry equipment between here and the shuttle site, meaning we can have equipment being loaded and unloaded continually.

"That should be a definite help because Jade can't go at full speed without threatening the cargo in the sled.

"Sled four is going back to the prison.  We're going to send a team there, fully stocked on air of course, and have them clean out the entire personal effects vault, load it onto the cargo sled, and then Jade will tow it to the shuttle.

"Horatio, you're staying in Jade," Kim said.

Horatio looked up.

"She has full medical scanners and can keep track of your condition."

Horatio looked like he was about to object, but then said nothing.

"Shego needs time to check out the shuttle, top to bottom, and then re-check it," Kim said, "That leaves seven of us to split between three jobs."

"I've still got things I need to salvage here," Surge said.

Kim nodded, "That's fine, but I image nobody's filled out their wishlist just yet.  So before anyone leaves I want them to make a list of things that they definitely want on that shuttle.

"Blok, if I remember correctly you're a lot stronger in your stone form."

"I am," Blok said.

"Then, if we can adapt a space suit to that size--" Kim looked at Drakken and Amy, "Can we?"

The two had a short whispered conversation.  "In thirty minutes or less," Drakken said.

"Ok," Kim said.  "Blok, once they've done that I want you loading the shuttle, and with you on it that can be the smallest team."

"I can do it alone," Blok said.

"Are you sure?" Kim asked.

"I've got this, Red," Blok said. "The hard part isn't going to be me getting everything into the shuttle.  It's going to be the rest of you scrounging up enough stuff to fill it.  Plus, it'll leave you with an even three and three."

"So who goes to the prison and who stays here?" Kim asked.

"You don't go," Shego said.  She said it sternly, she said it definitively.

While Kim had no particular desire to go back to the prison, she wanted to object to Shego giving her orders.  "Why shouldn't I--"

When Shego interrupted her tone was surprisingly kind, which threw Kim off considerably, "Princess, last time you were there you had a nervous breakdown."

Kim wanted to object, not to the factuality of what Shego said --it was definitely true-- but to the idea it meant she shouldn't go there this time.  Before she could, Hawk volunteered.

"I'll go," he said.  "I've spent a lot of time in unethical labs, I've seen a lot of pretty terrible things, I think I'll be fine with being in that place again."

"Ok, so we need two more for the prison, and one more to stay here," Shego said, "Henry, Dr. D, Amy, where do you want to go?"

"Honey Bunny and I can get supplies from the prison," Amy said, grabbing Drakken's arm.

Kim sighed.  She'd never gotten a chance to disagree with Shego ordering her around.

"Shego and I need to make the cargo sleds before we can bring anything to the shuttle," Kim said. "It looks like it should go pretty quickly, though" Kim said.

"The walls of some of the derelict buildings are perfect as bases," Shego said, "The only way it would go faster is if I could use my plasma outside."

"You know-" Drakken started to say.

"No," Kim said, "I need you and Amy working on a suit for Blok's stone form.  It needs to be able to fit him in that form, be strong enough to stand up to the stresses that will be put on it, it needs to provide adequate air--"

"Don't worry about the weight of the air tanks," Blok said, "I won't even notice them in my other form."

"It needs to be done as quickly as possible without compromising safety," Kim said.

"I'll head over to the prison and get started," Hawk said.  After a beat he added, "If your super car will let me."

"Good," Kim said, "Take Horatio to Jade with you.  Henry, Surge, Blok, keep working on scavenging here.  Drakken, Amy let us know the moment you're done with the suit so we can get you to the prison site and send Blok to the shuttle with the first load of supplies."

Kim started to walk out of the room with purpose.

"Oh, Kimmie," Shego said in an infuriating tone, "did Princess forget part of the briefing?"

Kim couldn't think of anything.  Shego just waited.  Kim wasn't going to give Shego the satisfaction of getting Kim to ask.  There were about fifteen tense seconds.

"How is everyone going to stay in contact?" Shego asked.

Kim's open palm met her face of its own volition.  If it had asked for her permission she would have told it not to because Shego's snickering after that had been completely predictable.

Kim sighed, walked over to a bag, and dumped the contents on a table.  Global Justice standard issue field radios.  About the size of the handset for a landline.  "These have all been tested and they work," Kim said.  "They're set to the same frequency as our space suit radios --which Jade is also on now-- so you should be able to stay in contact indoors and out.

"Hawk, in Jade's back seat you'll find a bunch of tall sort of cylindrical devices.  They're signal relays.  Jade will tell you where to put them and they'll make it so we have an open line from here to the prison and, eventually, the shuttle site.

"Now, we all have work to do," Kim said.

* * *

The only thing that kept Horatio from going insane was the fact that Kim's car had an impressive music library.  In fact, the car claimed that it had all the songs.  As in: ALL THE SONGS.  As in everything ever recorded.

Hawk worked at the prison, the others worked at the base.  Shego and Kim were the first to finish their work, but other than dropping Shego off to do her absurdly detailed inspection of the shuttle that didn't mean much.  It was when Amy and Drakken finished their work that things kicked into action.

The two joined Hawk at the prison, Blok was delivered to the shuttle along with the first sled of loot, and Jade became occupied in dragging loaded sleds to the shuttle and empty ones back to places where they'd be loaded.

Mostly it was back and forth between the base and the shuttle, the bulk of the work at the prison seemed to be consolidating the personal effects into boxes that were full instead of mostly empty, something Horatio only heard about over the radio.  Also, the sled for the prison was extra large as it wasn't intended to be part of Jade's endless transport circuit.

Other than a couple of air tank resupply runs, nothing happened but Jade going back and forth, back and forth.  With Horatio in her.

The car didn't seem to mind the monotony.  Horatio was a different story.  Thus the music was the only thing that allowed him to maintain a semblance of sanity.
Many is the time I've been mistaken
and many times confused.
Yes I've often felt forsaken
and certainly misused.
Oh, but I’m all right, I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
*beep beep*
So far away from home, so far away from home
"Was that 'beep beep' good or bad?" Horatio asked Jade.
I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
"Well?" Horatio said, somewhat annoyed he had to talk over the music.

"Analyzing." Jade said.
We've lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
We’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong
"Something, I cannot yet determine what, has appeared on the horizon."  Jade said.

Horatio cut the music.  "What do you mean, 'appeared?'"

 "It was not there the last time we occupied this position, now it is there," Jade said.

"Passive scans only," Horatio said, "but find out what it is."

"You do not control me," Jade said, "however I agree with your suggested approach and am proceeding as you advised."

"Thank you," Horatio said.

* * *

"We have a problem," Jade's voice said over Kim's suit radio.

"Can you be more specific?" Kim asked.

"The Lowardians forgot to take one of their toys home with them and it's noticed us," Horatio said.

"Which of us did it notice?" Kim asked.

"It is headed directly toward the shuttle site," Jade said.

"Damn," Shego said.  "Anywhere else we could have evacuated, but we need this thing."

"Can you do anything?" Kim asked.

"Normally, sure.  They go down easy.  But right now if I light up I breach my suit."

"We've got weapons here," Henry said.

"Those laser pointers?" Shego said in full sarcasm mode.

"Given the cold dead fingers you had to pry them out of," Hawk said, "I'm guessing they're not effective against Lorwardian technology."

"I may be able to help with that--" Drakken started.

"Jade, go." Horatio said.

"Dr. Drakken," Jade said, "please meet us as the prison egress airlock."

"What is your idea?" Kim asked, while also making a note of Jade's independence.  Kim knew that Horatio couldn't command the car or its AI, thus it doing what he said meant the AI had chosen to do so, and made that choice without consulting Kim.

"Get me one of GJ's lasers with full charge, get me..."

* * *

Surge tuned out the technobable and was surprised when Drakken's "Get me," list ended with, "And get me Surge."

"What?" she said more as a reflex than a question.  When she'd had few more moments to process it she asked, "What can I do?"

"You can-- OW"

"It's the helmet," Horatio said in a way that made Surge worry he might be on the verge of losing consciousness.  "It means you've got to duck a bit when you get in."

"Whatever," Drakken said with clear annoyance.  "Surge, you can amplify the power of the laser and you can interface with the war machine as soon as we've punched a hole in its outer hull to expose its central computer to your power."

"Uh, this is me we're talking about," Surge said.

"Who cares if everything blows up?" Shego said.  "It's not like we're particularly attached to a random laser or an alien machine bent on destroying us."

"I might care if I get hit by the shrapnel," Surge said.

"Sur--," Kim said, then stopped.  "What's your real name?"


"Sarah, I know this is a lot to ask of you," she said gently, "but we don't have a lot of options and this happens to be our only plan.  Would you please try?  I wouldn't put this all on you, but none of us can do it."

Surge sighed.  "I"ll try, but I've never interfaced with alien technology.  If this fails and we all die no one is allowed to blame it on me, plus I get a massive I told you so in the afterlife."

"Deal," Kim said.

And that was about when the car arrived.

It took Kim a few more minutes to get Drakken's supplies.

Then they were off.

* * *

"Too much quiet," Horatio mumbled.
Oh, little sleepy boy, Do you know what time it is?
Well the hour of your bedtime's long been past
And though I know you're fighting it
I can tell when you rub your eyes
You're fading fast, oh fading fast
Horatio made a sound that he hoped was interpreted as approval and reclined his chair to as close to horizontal as he could.

"... topography from here onward is extremely flat.  I can't ..." "...any closer without being ..."
'Cause if I can't sing my boy to sleep
Well it makes your famous daddy look so dumb
look so dumb
Horatio noticed that the others weren't in the car anymore.
Won't you close your weary eyes
Ain't nothing flashing but the fireflies
He faded again.
When I was a little boy
And the Devil would call my name
I’d say, “Now who do . . .
Who do you think you’re fooling?”
Different song, maybe he should pay attention.
I'm a consecrate--
The music stopped; definitely time to pay attention.

Horatio tried to pull himself up with difficulty until Jade must have noticed what he was doing and the seat's back returned to upright on its own, taking him with it.

"Status?" he said groggily.

"We have set down behind a bolder so that the machine will not detect our presence.  Drakken and Surge have continued on foot to achieve optimal probability of success.  Thus far they have remained undetected, presumably because they are far less conspicuous than a flying car.

"I have turned off the music because, due to a glitch I have been unable to isolate, any music I send to you is broadcast on any channel I open.  I am preparing to open a channel to Drakken and Surge."

Horatio nodded.

Jade opened the channel.

* * *

Surge heard Jade over her suit's radio, "You should be nearing optimum distance to target."

"Also, not to rush you or anything, but I can totally see the damn thing from here so deal with it before it destroys our way home," Shego said.

"Yeah, no pressure at all," Surge said with what she hoped was appropriate sarcasm and disapproval.  With Shego it could be hard to find the right level.  Then she said what was actually on her mind, "Dr D, I feel like I'm still missing some elements of this plan.  For example, you seem to have left out the part that explains how this is supposed to work."

"Like that's a first," Shego said.

"Words hurt, Shego," Drakken said.

"I'm serious.  We blow a hole in the machine, several question marks, I interface with it, then we win," Surge said.  "Could you fill in the blanks before we die?"

"Couldn't you two have talked about this in the car, before we were dangerously close to out of time?" Kim said.

"Temper, Princess." Shego said in scolding tones.

"Bite me," Kim replied.

At another time Surge might have been thrown by Kim's uncharacteristic behavior, but they were all strained, there was a death machine of death filled doomy death nearby, and she really, truly, needed more detail on how this was supposed to work.

So she just shouted, "Could you two quit flirting!?"  Almost immediately both started to protest, but she cut that off before either got a full word in, "Some of us have actual work to do.  And we had to spend the time making sure I'd be able to interface properly with the laser."

"I don't see what the problem is," Drakken said.  "Once we've broken through the outer shielding can't you just ..." he made the gestural equivalent of, "do your thing, which I don't really understand in any kind of depth."

"I need to touch something to interface with it."

"But I've seen you--" Drakken started.

"When I was fully equipped," Surge said.  "Do I look like I have my accoutrema?"

"Accouterments," Shego corrected.

"Shego," Kim said in annoyed/disappointed tone.

"What?  I'm a school teacher," Shego said.

"Jade, can you cut them out of the communications link until we're done here?" Surge asked.

Both started to protest, then the line went silent.

"Thanks Jade," she said.  "Now, we seem to have a serious hole in this plan," she said to Drakken.  "And we've got how long to fix it?"

"For optimal probability of success, a minute and thirty two seconds.

"Am I still connected?" Hawk asked.

"Yes," Jade, Surge, and Drakken said at once.

"If you can pierce the armor with one shot, why not just shoot it repeatedly?"

"It wouldn't work because--"

Surge was familiar with Drakken's long winded explanations, they didn't have time, especially since there was an easy to explain practical reason.

"Even if that were likely to succeed in theory," Surge said, "overpowering the rifle for that many shots would almost certainly make it overload before it worked in practice.

"We don't have to change the plan," Drakken said.

"The plan that won't work?" Surge asked. "That plan we don't have to change?"

"You amp up the rifle for one shot which exposes the electronics, I'll distract it with the rifle, which doesn't need to be overpowered to be distracting, you go in and disable it," Drakken said.  "Basically the same plan as before."

"I suggest you do it in the next forty five seconds," Jade said. "And the odds of success will decrease even more dramatically in ninety."

"Fine," Surge said. "Let's do--"

"--body cuts me out of the conversation," Shego said.

"Sorry," Jade said, "she's bypassed--"

"Apology accepted," Surge said quickly, "we don't have time for explanations."

"Remember, only the first shot matters," Drakken said, "after I break through the armor around the processor I don't need you amping the rifle, I'll distract and you go in and finish the job."

"Doc, I've seen you shoot," Shego said. "If the first shot matters so much, let Surge take it."

* * *

"Jade don't--" Kim started.  "She cut me out, didn't she?"

"Well, I can still hear you, Princess," Shego said.

"Ugh," was Kim's only response.

"Extremely eloquent."

"If Surge thinks that that's what flirting sounds like she's got a lot to learn about relationships," Kim said.

"She was just trying to make you shut up." Shego said. "I know for a fact that she's better in relationships than you are."

"How would you know that!?" Kim asked.

"She talked about her personal life at work," Shego said.  "When you put me on ice she'd been with her girlfriend for longer than you've been with any of your boyfriends."

It took a moment for that to sink in.  Before Kim could think of a retort though, Shego added, "Also I am a magnificent flirt."

"Really, Miss, 'I need to ask my arch foe, who is also my student, for dating advice because being an evil sidekick doesn't leave time for relationships.'"

"MIND CONTROL," Shego said.  Kim was going to point out that being reverse polarized didn't change your knowledge when Shego added, "Also, I said that I'm a magnificent flirt, which is completely true.  Dating is something else entirely.  If you're going to -- Yes!"

"What?" Kim asked.

"Nobody cuts me out of the conversation," Shego said.

"You got through to them?" Kim asked.

Shego apparently ignored her.

"Doc, I've seen you shoot," Shego said. "If the first shot matters so much, let Surge take it."

* * *

We're in space.  We're on the moon.  There is no air here.  Outside of this suit is nothing.  Nothing: what will us if something goes wrong.

Everything screamed that.  At ordinary levels her power was usually invisible, but given how much she was amplifying the rife there should have been plasma arcs visible all around.  Even Drakken had never figured out what caused them, or why they tended to be in the pink to purple range of colors, but they definitely should have been there.

Or, rather, they should have been there if there were air.

Since there was none... everything screamed that they were in a vacuum.

"Aim at the red dome on the underside," Drakken said.

Surge saw at least a million ways this plan would go wrong.  Not could, would.  At this moment she was convinced she was going to die.  But she pushed that from her mind.  She had to aim while enhancing the rifle; that took concentration.

Distractions fell away and time lost meaning.  The only three things left in the universe were herself, the rife, and her target.   She focused on the bull's eye.  The red dome on the underside of main machine.

The rifle had iron sights, seemingly of its own volition it came into her field of view and the front and rear sights aligned as she focused on the red dome.  She stopped breathing to steady her shot and used the lightest possible force to pull the trigger.

A section of the dome, near the center, seemed to simply disappear.  Surge smiled.  Who needed combat training?  She'd gone to summer camp.  Summer camp where she earned the rank of "Flying Squirrel" in riflery.

Her shooting concentration evaporated quickly and she shoved the rifle into Drakken's hands then moved as fast as she could away.

There had been no visible beam.  No visible beam because there was no atmosphere to resist the weapon and thus nothing to light up the beam.  We're in space.  We're on the moon.  There is no air here.  Outside of this suit is nothing.  Deadly, deadly nothing.

And now there was a new problem.  If the hole had punctured the machine's defense against electronic attacks, and beyond the hole the machine was safe, that meant Surge had to get to the hole.  A hole that was on the underside of the main body of the robot, which she estimated was three to five stories above ground level.  With nothing under it.

The only way up was to climb one of the four very unpleasant looking legs.

* * *

At first Drakken worried that Surge had lost her nerve, but then he saw the hole in the red dome he'd told her to aim for.  He fired the rifle at the machine several times to make sure he had its attention, then looked to where Surge was hiding.

He had to bait the war machine in such a way that it didn't notice her, but still passed close enough for her to climb on board.  Clearly this would require careful--

He felt the first of the tremors caused by the machine's forceful footsteps.  That's when he let out a yelp and simply ran, hopped, stumbled, rolled, and generally moved however he could as fast as he could directly away from the machine.

* * *

"At this rate Doctor Drakken will be captured or killed well before Surge is able to complete her mission," Jade said as she turned on full power, rose from the lunar surface, and turned on her sound system.  "Moving to intercept."
This here's a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue
Two young lovers with nothing better to do
Than sit around the house, get high, and watch the tube
And here is what happened when they decided to cut loose
* * *

There was no way Drakken could outrun the thing, it had almost caught up to him in fact, and now infernal music was playing over his radio.  He was quite sure he was going to die.

Then the flying car was beside him, and the rear door opened.  He jumped in.
Bobbie Sue took the money and run
"It should be ran," Drakken muttered.
Go on take the money and run
Go on take the money and run
* * *

Surge reached the second segment of the leg, which was mercifully horizontal at the moment, and did her best to sprint across it.  Difficult in the space suit, but much easier than traversing the loose regolith.
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
He makes his living off of the people's taxes
* * *

"What's going on?" Hawk asked while moving a box full of personal effects to the airlock.

Jade had delivered enough air reserve tanks from the base to make sections of the prison safely habitable again, for the moment, and as such he could move through it without a suit.  As such, this part of the process went quite quickly.  In fact, there were almost enough boxes at the airlock to justify putting on his suit and taking them out to the sled.  Not quite though, because of the time involved in putting on or taking off the suit, he and Amy were trying to keep changes to a minimum.

"I have retrieved Doctor Drakken and am currently distracting the machine while dodging energy weapons," Jade said.  "Surge has almost reached her target."

"Is my Honey Bunny safe?" Amy asked.

"This thing's terrible driving is--" Drakken said in a voice that sounded somewhat sick.

"Dr Drakken is well," Jade reported.

"I thought that you liked Monty, Amy," Shego said.

"I've come to realize-"

"Guys!" Surge shouted.  "Not.  The. Time."

* * *

The music was helping calm Surge's nerves somewhat, and she was grateful that Jade had chosen an instrumental this time because she didn't need the distraction of words.  Mind you, this song had been unnerving at first, but by the time it was two minutes in that had changed.

She was at the top of the leg, and she could see her target clearly, but there was nothing she could do to get there other than jump and hope for the best.

* * *

Drakken senselessly interrupted ELO's masterpiece, "Fire on High", to announce, "She's jumped for it."

Horatio tried to ignore him and lose himself in the music.

* * *

Surge was able to catch the hole the laser had punched, and her weight was little problem in the lunar gravity, but her momentum tried to pull her further and she jarred her left shoulder staying at the hole.

She ended up holding herself up using her right arm, and lifted her left hand to touch the exposed electronics.

She wasn't sure if it was because it was alien, because it was huge, or because interfacing through the space suit glove was more difficult and, unlike with the laser rifle, she hadn't had any practice on connecting with the alien machine through the glove.  Whatever it was, this was hard.  Especially hard since she was, basically, trying to create the kind of system crashing accident that she usually had to put all of her efforts into avoiding.

Finally, though, she did get clear access.

Drakken was right, repeated shots wouldn't have worked, given how few the rifle could have managed at that level.  The machine was simple, but it was also robust.  She was sensing redundancies on its redundancies.  No wonder they'd been so hard to hurt in the invasion, other than the legs where Surge imagined the armor was thickest, this thing had no critical point to attack.

Shooting it where she did had given her access to its control systems, but if all she did was create a local failure it wouldn't even slow it down.  There were just too many back ups.  It felt like it could operate fine with 90% of its electronics fried, or more.

She had to make the whole system fail at once, or it would just keep coming.  Worse still was that the components of they system were themselves quite strong.  Ordinary human technology would have fried itself by now given the amount of effort she was putting in and the volatility of her power.

Then it hit her, she didn't need to destroy it, she needed to make it self destructive.  No, not even self destructive, just non-productive.  She channeled her inner Marvin the Paranoid Android and had a detailed chat with every line of code.

* * *

"Well that was anticlimactic," Shego said.

At least she wasn't interrupting the music.  The last minute had played out without annoying interruptions.

"What happened?" Kim asked.

"It just ... fell over," Shego said.

"I thought Possible wasn't on this channel," Hawk said.

"Now that the operation is concluded, I have restored communications to the base," Jade said.

"I'm still mad at you about cutting me off," Kim said.

"You were distracting Surge," Jade said.  "Moving to retrieve Surge."

"Thanks, Jade," Surge said.  "Can you drop me back at the base?  I've still got some packing to do."

"I'm out of stuff to load," Blok said.  "So if you can pick up whatever's there and bring it here..."

"We've got a full load ready," Henry said.

"I will return to the base, deliver the cargo there to the shuttle, and then return Drakken to the prison," Jade said.  "Please plan your actions accordingly."

"Amy and I will make sure to get everything we've boxed up onto the sled in time for your arrival, Jade," Hawk said.

"So, everything's back on track," Kim said.

"And you didn't have to boss anyone around," Shego said.  "Must be hard for you."

* * *

Things returned to the monotony of before Jade had spotted the Lorwardian device.  Horatio was coming to love Jade's sound system though. Now that no one needed to get in or out of the car they'd been able to fill the cabin with air allowing him to take off his helmet and just relax.
To keep in silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
The music stopped at an incoming transmission.

"What's a trans quantum sonic tachyon transducer?" Surge asked over the radio.

Badly named, Horatio thought.  It was also something on the list of stuff he'd asked Surge to get.  He was about to explain, when other people started talking.

"Why?" Kim asked.

"Because I need to get one," Surge said.  "Now what is it?"

"It's a device that uses sound waves to create a--" Drakken said.

"It looks like a metal doughnut with four antennas, equally spaced, around the major circumference, several dials marked with sort of elvish looking symbols--"

"They're scientific--" Drakken protested.

"Not now, Doc," Shego said.  "And it's got a USB cable coming out of it."

Horatio was a bit impressed.  Shego knew what a trans quantum sonic tachyon transducer was.

"Thanks, Shego," Surge said.

And the packing continued.
Open doors would soon be shut
So I went from day to day
Though my life was in a rut
'Till I thought of what I'd say
Which connection I should cut
I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart going boom boom boom
"Hey" he said "Grab your things
I've come to take you home."

[Previous][Kim Possible Index][Next]


Random notes:

"Gopher mission" is an example of sideways influence in etymology.  "Gofer" comes from "go for."  A "gofer mission" is picking up something for someone (for example going for coffee) a "gofer" is someone whose job consists primary of such tasks.

All of this is entirely unrelated to the word "gopher", but "gofer" sounds like "gopher" and so,  in spite of the two words being totally unrelated, the much more common "gopher" is pulling the spelling of the less common (and usually spoken instead of written) "gofer" in its direction.  "Gopher" is already an acceptable alternate spelling, and may come to replace "gofer" entirely.

Also, it was somewhat interesting trying to figure out what music would be playing given that you know Kim Possible's flying car is going to have access to everything in the history of ever.

[Added] This originally posted with the wrong title (a remnant from when I was going to have the action covered be only half of the chapter) sorry about that.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Random bit of Superhero fiction

No one else had bothered looking.  It wasn't even hard, but no one else had bothered looking.  No one else had tried to come.

At first she'd tried to track his trajectory, but there were too many variables.  As soon as she looked for a minor shallow earthquake, though, it was easy to figure out where he'd landed.  It was a short drive, then a long walk through the woods.

The distance wasn't long, but travel on foot is inherently slow and she had to keep checking her compass to make sure she was headed in the right direction.

The first signs were freshly fallen branches, then treetops, and finally entire trees that had been knocked over, shattered, or thrown about.  When she reached the impact site it had been cleared out by the force of what happened.  Trees had been forced away leaving a ragged crater, its shape influenced by which roots had broken and which had held.  There were pieces of the trademark blue hoodie.  There were scraps of blue jeans.  But there was no blood and no body.

Instead there was a disturbance that she guessed to be where he'd climbed out.  She went to where the trail met the edge of the crater.  On looking around she saw something metal.

His glasses, the green lenses missing, the frames bent to the point she barely recognized them as glasses.

Nearby was the hoodie.  Damaged by a thousand tears and holes.  Discarded.

She picked both up and looked for any signs that might be a trail.

She followed what she though were freshly damaged things that hadn't been broken by the impact, but she wasn't sure it if it was a real trail, or just her imagination.

The next thing she found was just odd.  Hair.  Human hair it seemed, and the right length to be his, but it seemed like an entire head worth of hair had fallen out in the span of a few meters.

Then she found him, propped up against a tree, apparently exhausted.  It didn't surprise her who he was.  She felt like it should have, but it didn't.

"All of that bullshit about how you totally weren't him," she said, "and here you are."

He didn't offer any of his usual protests.  He just said, "I hope you brought my glasses, 'cause you're awfully blurry."

"The ones you left in my car are still in the glove compartment," she said, "You ok?"

"Eh..." he shrugged. "Medically I'm fine, but my powers are spent for the moment.  After something like that it'll probably be a few hours more before I can get back in the fight."

She rolled her eyes.

"Come on, I'll drive you home," she said.  She looked at her compass, figured out the way, and then walked a few steps, only then did she notice that he hadn't gotten up.  That stopped her and she turned back.  He was still in the same position, "Need a hand?"

He held out his arm, and she went over and pulled him up.

She helped him walk as they made their way back to the car.  After a while she asked, "So how do you do that trick with the hair?  Because that's how you finally convinced me that you weren't ... you."

"I can make my hair grow out or fall out at will," he said.  "When I'm ... uh ... in costume, I grow it out to shoulder length, when I get back home let it all fall out and and then grow it back to normal."

"And then you tell me that since the hero's hair is clearly real, and your hair is shorter, you couldn't possibly be the hero."

"Pretty much."


"You've known I was a liar for years."

"But not about important things."

"If that's true then why were you so sure that hero me and normal me were the same person for so long?  There was no trust there for me to violate."

"You're a jackass."

"I'm of unknown pedigree, thank you very much."

The bickering continued, and in truth she enjoyed it --even though it would be a lot more enjoyable if he weren't actually a jackass and it were all in lighthearted jest-- until they reached the car.

He collapsed into the passenger chair, retrieved his glasses from the glove compartment, and fell into silence.  They listened to the raido on the drive home.

When she dropped him off she said, "Get some rest and eat something."

"I'm fine," he said.  He was getting defensive.  "This is just because of the exertion from the fight."

"You were in terrible shape before the fight," she said.  "Hydrate, eat, sleep.  And don't half ass any of it."

"Yes, master," came the sarcasm.

"You can't save the city if you don't take care of yourself first," she said.  "And besides that, you're my friend and--"

"I thought I was a dirty rotten liar."

"A dirty rotten liar who is my friend," she said.  "Now promise me you'll take better care of yourself."

For a bit he was quiet, then he said, "I will," in a completely serious tone.  "And thank you."

"You're welcome," she said.

He walked into his apartment building,  She drove to her home.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Bit of a random question: how does one find out which Lego patents are expired?

A patent is a deal made between you and the government.  They're protect your product from being copied for a set amount of time, but you have to tell EVERYONE exactly how it works and when that time period is up anyone can use it for themselves.

Want to know why so many things use Velcro?  Patent expired.  Now anyone can use it.

That's the deal.  You can try to keep how your shit works secret in perpetuity, but if you do the government does not have you back if someone else makes things using your ideas.  Why?  Innovation only works if ideas are shared and anyone can build on them but people are less likely to innovate if they won't reap some of the rewards, so the patent system is a trade off.  The government will enforce your monopoly on your invention for a time, but in return you have to let everyone play with it when that time is up.

Some Lego patents are really, really dead.  Dead, buried, decomposed, and recycled as firelighters.

So you have other brands making completely legal knock offs.  One brand, called Mega Bloks, is friends with various companies and thus able to make Lego-compatible Barbie, Skylanders, Sponge Bob, Halo, and Assassins' Creed figures.  Hasbro has its own lego clone line, because why would anyone want to be without Lego-compatible transformers?

Some companies just make bricks, for building, because it's getting harder and harder to find a decently priced box of bricks from Lego.

But, the thing is, it's unclear to me exactly which Lego stuff is up for grabs and which isn't.

The basic Lego brick itself, the studs, the dimensions, so forth, these things are all very much up for grabs.  The original mini-figures, I know, are also fair game.

But the thing is, Lego never stopped making new shit.  Friends "mini-dolls" (why can't you just call them, "mini-figures" ones that finally look vaguely like people) are a recent invention and thus it would be incredibly surprising if they weren't patent protected.  (And a massive fuck up on Lego's part.)

But where's the cut off?  I cannot seem to find a list on which Lego patents are expired and which are still in force.  Hell, just finding a list of all Lego patents is hard as hell.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

New England Mentality (A Poem)

[Originally posted at Ana Mardolls Ramblings, after an exhchange about New England that I'll reproduce at the end.]

We do not want to know if you love your cat
We'd rather not hear that you are part bat
It's not our concern if you are slob
We don't care that you got a job
Don't come to us if you're unemployed
Share your good news and we'll be annoyed
If world domination is your wish
Or you have discovered that you are part fish
Or your mom is from Mars and your dad is from Pluto
And you like Popeye less than Bluto
We don't care of these things, nor do we
Judge, just hear our strong plea
That you leave us alone
And let us stay safe in our home
We wish to be free from your needs, wants, and loves
It's not that we think we're above you like doves
It's just that we're content to be us,
And don't mingle well with those on our bus.
We simply don't care a jot
About your bumper crop of shallot
If you are in love that's really quite great
Be you gay, bi, pan or even quite straight
But don't tell us, we don't care
And all these intrusions we can hardly bare
Unless you like the Yankees
You will not us displease
Provided you don't bother us
By wanting to discuss

genesistrine wrote:
Like I said, I suspect it's actually due to a blasphemous Cthulhu cult in your area. Have you checked your neighbours for gills and/or immobile, wax-like faces?
I wrote:
This is New England, we don't speak to our neighbors, we don't look at our neighbors, if our neighbors informed us that they were going to summon a dread god and destroy the world our response would be, "Ok, but did you really have to bother me about it?"
New England, one of the places where people claiming they don't want you to flaunt your sexuality do in fact mean, "I respect your right to have a monogamous culturally-approved heterosexual relationship, but don't tell me about it; I don't want to know," every bit as much as they mean the same for non heterosexual, non-monogamous, and otherwise non-culturally-approved relationships.
New England, land of, "We have front porches so big that they take up the entire length of our house but we never do anything on/with them because then someone might *hushed tone* talk to us."
New England ... ok, I'm taking this a bit far, but ever wonder why Lovecraft set his works in New England? Because we respect your right to be a fish person provided that you don't make a big deal about it and, no, we will NOT follow up on possible signs that you might be one because PRIVACY and we have our own shit to do, damn it.
I wrote:
Or, for a short version, the New England mentality is, "You can do whatever you want, just stay in the damned closet," applied to everyone and everything.
And then, in the same post, I wrote the above poem.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Stand in the Rain

Yesterday included the journey home from Hell.  The day before that the elder weasel had decided to watch Megamind.  As a result this was in my head for various parts of the journey home from Hell:

That's scenes of Roxanne, one of the two best parts of the movie (the other best part: Minion), set to the song "Stand in the Rain" by Superchick.

I know the band Superchick not at all, Wikipedia tells me they're a former Christian rock band.  Wait, Christian Rock band.  Most rock band members are Christian, but Christian Rock is a different thing.  Anyway, I don't know the band, I don't know what went into writing the song.

But I do know the song.  Not know of the song (though obviously that too), I know the song.  I've felt it, I've lived it.


She never slows down.
  She doesn't know why but she knows that
                                                                  when she's all alone,
  feels like its all coming down

She won't turn around
  The shadows are long and she fears 
                                                      if she cries that first tear,
  the tears will not stop
                                raining down

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down

You stand through the pain
You won't drown
And one day, what's lost can be found
You stand in the rain

She won't make a sound
  Alone in this fight with herself and the
                                                            fears whispering 
  if she stands she'll fall down

She wants to be found
  The only way out is through everything
                                                            she's running from
  wants to give up and
                                lie down.

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down

You stand through the pain
You won't drown
And one day, what's lost can be found
You stand in the rain

[Repeat last two stanzas two more times]

Technically it's a little bit more complex as the second to last "And one day, what's lost can be found" is followed immediately but the "So stand in the rain" that begins a stanza instead of the "You stand in the rain" that ends a stanza, but I'm not go delving into meaning of how they choose to repeat the repetitions of the chorus that close the song.  There's more than enough meaning already.

She never slows down.
Of course not.  You can't.  You can't stop, you can't ever stop because if you do you might never start again.  You can't stop because if you do you might have time to think.  Time alone to think is bad.  Time alone to think leads to...
  She doesn't know why but she knows that
                                                                  when she's all alone,
  feels like its all coming down
Yup.  If you don't distract yourself, if you don't keep yourself constantly occupied (which is hard as hell and exhausting as fuck, or is it the other way around?) you might start to appraise you live.  You might start to feel the walls closing in, the bottom dropping out, you might start to realize that you don't actually have it in you, and, yes, you might realize your entire world seems to be crashing around you
She won't turn around
Ok, honesty I got nothing here, but it's just one line.  I mean I could bullshit something about how once you've started on a path it feels like you have no options and there's no way to turn back, or maybe take it as self reflection where "Turn around" means "look behind from where we came" and it's about refusing to appraise one's situation because when you're all alone, feels like it's all ... see above.

But if I'm honest, the line doesn't resonate.  When I say I know this song and have lived this song I do not know that I have grokked it in fullness, merely that I grok it.
  The shadows are long and she fears
                                                      if she cries that first tear,
  the tears will not stop
                                raining down
This is self explanititory.  Been there.  Done that.  Though sometimes I wanted to cry that first tear anyway and couldn't.  Songs and fiction can make me cry, my own life seldom does outside of a full on nervous breakdown.
So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down
Note the mood shift.  Up to here was talking in third person.  Technically it was storytelling with a third person limited deep penetration perspective.  (Third person = She; limited is that we're only ever seeing what she sees; deep penetration is that we're seeing into her head.)  But I didn't say "note the person shift", I said note the mood shift.

Up to this point was indicative mood.  It's what we use most of the time.  These three sentences are all in indicative mood.

Indicative is talking about things that did happen, will happen, are happening, and various other tenses of really happening in the real world.  (It's a mood, so tenses are on a different axis.)

This is suddenly imperative mood.  "She stands in the rain," is indicative telling you exactly what it says.  "Stand in the rain," is imperative ordering the person or persons addressed to do what is said.

Imperative is naturally second person because it orders the person being spoken to.  The you.  Even if the "you" is in fact the speaker.  ("Calm down" spoken to oneself, is addressing oneself in second person.)

Because imperative is naturally second person, the second person is omitted.  This is important.  This will matter when we talk about the very next line.  The second person is always omitted.  Even if you literally say, "You," to the person you're ordering, that isn't part of the imperative.  We would write it as, "You, stand in the rain," to show that the "You" is serving a different function and isn't part of the imperative clause.  The function it's serving is stating who is being spoken to, if you're wondering.  (Thus the actual word "You" would probably only come up in conjunction with pointing or some other identifying process.)

All of this is a long way of saying that we've gone from talking about "She" to talking to "she."

These are commands given to her.  Stand in the rain.  Why?  Not entirely sure.  I note that this immediately follows the idea of tears "raining down" and those tears would, by definition, be lost like tears in the rain.  (See also: I Wish It Would Rain by the Temptations.)

More likely, in my opinion, is that it's because rain is often seen as adverse and adversarial.

Consider that the next two lines are "stand your ground", which you only have to do when you'd otherwise lose it, and "Stand up when it's all crashing down" which is a very clear image of not giving up when everything is going wrong.

These commands thus serve as words of encouragement.

Then we shift again.
You stand through the pain
One of the reasons that it was important to establish that the previous lines were direct address to "She" is that it tells us who the "You" is in this line.

More important, though, is the shift back to the indicative.  One could argue that it's aspirational.  One could argue that it's saying, "You should stand through the pain," with the should understood.

I don't think so.  I've been there when it's all crashing down and the thing is, no matter how unable to cope you are, you've managed at least some standing through the pain.

Standing through the pain is a way of life.  I came to that sentence meaning a way that ... the language is tangled.

Most of the time when we talk about way of life it's understood that we're not talking about a way to stay alive even though that's what "a way to live" or "a means/method of living" or "a way that you live" or something like that could mean.  But in this case I think it has that both.

I have to caution that I've never been suicidal, so I speak with no authority here, but it seems to me that when you stop standing through the pain, you stop being.  If you don't get through it, but you're not in it, then the only option is that you're not.  You have ceased to be an "are" and become an "are not".

Which is something that's worth understanding in depth: no matter how badly someone copes, no matter how pathetic they may think they're doing, no matter how badly you may think they're doing, the very fact that you even know they have/had something to cope with means that they stood through it for at least some time.

This song hits me in all the depression cords and the thing is, (speaking of depressed people) we're all survivors.  Even the ones who didn't manage to live through it survived until they didn't because no one is gone the moment it sets in.  Every one of us has stood through the pain, or the apathy, or the hopelessness, or whatever the fuck it was.  Even the ones who eventually stopped standing held out for some amount of time.
You won't drown
This is reassurance, and one that's needed.  Even the best swimmer eventually falls to exhaustion and it can feel like trying to keep your head above water as your body gets weaker and weaker.

Your attempts begin to fail you, and darkness feels like it's closing in, and you worry that you'll sink, that you'll slip that tiny distance separating you from the water flooding your lungs.
And one day, what's lost can be found
It feels like naive optimism, but it really isn't.  There is hope.  Not certainty.  What's lost may never be found, but perhaps it could be.  Maybe, one day, it can be.
You stand in the rain
Note that we started this interlude of direct address with the singer ordering (or perhaps imploring, but imperatives are sort of imperative when unqualified) the "She" to stand in the rain and now the singer is saying she does just that.
She won't make a sound
It is a sad truth that asking for help is hard, and sometimes inconceivable.  You cannot do that which you do not conceive because you can't think to do it.

You pull in.  You shut out others.  You become isolated.  You become quiet.

You don't get peoples attention.  You withdraw.
  Alone in this fight with herself and the
                                                            fears whispering
  if she stands she'll fall down
No one should face it alone, but we have a strong tendency to do so.  More interesting to me is what the fears are whispering.

The ground is safe.  You can't fall when you're already down.  And so rising up becomes frightening.  Good things are scary.  The prospect of making a friend is seen as the prospect of losing a friend.  Can't do that if you never make one to begin with.  The possibility of being happy is seen as the possibility of crashing back down.

Trying to rise above the horrible place you find yourself is inundated in the fear of falling from that height.  Seagulls don't lift shelled animals into the air for the hell of it, they do it because the damage from falling after soaring is so much more than the damage from trying to peck your way in when the thing is on the ground.

Fear of failure keeps you from trying in the first place.  And so the inability to improve becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
She wants to be found
She won't make a sound but she wants to be found.  Note the problem there?  There's a reason that Harry needed  Hagrid to come and get him.  There's a reason Tsukasa had to become embroiled in impossible things to get help.  There's a reason that Bella Swan needed first an impossible van scene and then Edward forcing himself into her life.

None of them could reach out, and yet the fantasy of being found is so strong that we see it in story after story.

For all of the withdrawal, and for all of the barriers placed between oneself in the world, someone getting in and somehow helping you is an alluring fantasy.
The only way out is through everything
                                                          she's running from
Not always, but often.  Often it's the things that you're most unable to do that are needed to actually fix things.

A lot of untreated depression is untreated because depression makes it very hard to seek treatment.
  wants to give up and
                                lie down.
Curl up in a ball and have the world go away.  Relax all your muscles and collapse to the ground.  Just scream out to life that it wins, you lose, you surrender, now could it please fucking leave you alone now.

It's all crashing down, and if you stand up you'll fall down.  With no hope of winning, why bother.  Isn't giving up and lying down so much easier?

But you can't.  That doesn't work.

You have to stand up when it's all crashing down.

So stand in the rain; stand your ground.


The weird part: Roxanne totally doesn't have depression.