Friday, September 30, 2016

Proposal: The Superhero Prevention Squad

The squad/each squad is a group of highly qualified people of a quasi-law-enforcement nature who can be called in under a specific set of circumstances.

You know when someone with a superpower just wants to live a normal life but the evil-doers are destroying all good things in the world and somebody has got to take a stand?  That's when you call them.  They take a stand.  The person with a superpower is allowed to keep their self-determination.

If they want to be a normal person living a normal life then The Superhero Prevention Squad is there to make sure they get that option.  Normal law enforcement can't or won't handle the situation and it looks like the situation calls for a vigilante in a costume who can bend or break the laws of physics?  No.  Call The Superhero Prevention Squad.

Don't let life origin story you into a career you never wanted or asked for.  The Superhero Prevention Squad exists to stop you from being origin storied into anything.  Make your own decisions.  Be the master of your fate.  Leave fighting crime to the professionals.

The fact that you can teleport/phase through solid matter/take an RPG to the face without flinching/crawl on walls/shoot beams from your eyes/fly/turn into a giant monster/whatever doesn't mean the universe should be able to railroad you.  You deserve the same chances and opportunities as anybody else.

That's why there's The Superhero Prevention Squad exists.  Just because somebody has to take a stand doesn't mean you have to.  They'e been trained for this, they've volunteered, they have great medical coverage (full dental!) and the best mental health care a quasi-law enforcement agency with hover jets can afford.

Sure, they might not have powers, but they have training, technology, experience, institutional support, and a choice in the matter.

Life After: Terminiology

[I recently re-watched the Kim Possible scene where Kim mentioned "meddling kids".]
[This is by the time the gangs' all together.]

It came as no suprise that there were armed people in uniforms when they came back.  A big guy with a big gun and a stride that reeked of practiced authority stepped forward from the group.  Doubtless some government or government sanctioned agency had bestowed power upon him.  Jacob didn't care enough to keep track.

"You have a lot to answer for," the big guy with a big gun said.

"We did what you said couldn't be done," Bonnie said.

"We'll keep doing your job for you," Kim said in a tone that was far too calm and reasonable to go with her words, "until you start doing your job."

And the big guy with a big gun did what such people always did in such situations.  He changed the subject to one where he thought he had the advantage.  On the plus side, this subject changing didn't involve the big gun.

"You got lucky," he said, "but you're still nothing more than meddling kids."

"Uh, we prefer the term 'interloping adolescents'," Jacob said in a way that he hoped made clear that he had no respect for the authority he assumed the guy had.

“We can also be 'encroaching young adults',” Tara said.  She was definitely becoming Jacob's favorite.

“'Kibitzing children',” Ron said.

“'Infringing high-schoolers',” Shin said.

“Though I don't go to school,” Jacob said.

“'Interfering teens',” Bonnie said.

Kim finally joined in by saying, “'Tampering minors'.”

Josh added, “'Snooping millennials'.”

“Though Jacob and I don't technically meet that definition," Shin said; "time travel and all.”

Jacob started to say, “Prying--”

But was cut off with a, “Shut Up!” from the big guy with the big gun.

Some people simply had no appreciation for language.

Still, the job was done.  Some of the other people with weapons and uniforms were smirking themselves, a group of bystanders had formed, and everyone was wondering why it took so long for the big guy with a big gun to to cut off the team.  One correction, six alternatives, and two clarifications before he put a stop to it.  It didn't make him seem like he was in control of the situation.  Authority undermined.

"Now if you'll excuse us," Bonnie said, "we actually have important things to do."


Thursday, September 29, 2016

What Ragnarok means

So . . . I've written a lot about this in the past 24 hours and hopefully some of that will eventually be fit for public consumption, especially the bit where I was basically doing a play by play of Ragnarok in Snarky Twilight form.

But the core of all of this disorganized tangent-following writing has been about what Ragnarok actually is.  It is not the old Norse term for "the end of the world/universe", it isn't another religion's version of "apocalypse", it's not quite "Judgment Day", and it only meets one of the definitions of eschatology.

To understand how different Ragnarok is from, say, the Christian end times popularized by Hollywood, hucksters, and (occasionally) theologians, consider that it starts thus:

Freedom Rings Throughout The Lands
Then the gods say, "Oh shit!"

You see, the gods have been around a very long time.  In fact, if they stay away from deadly things and have an apple a day they're effectively immortal.  Some of them predate the creation of the universe having instead showed up in the pre-universe state and then made it into a universe through the cunning use of dead guy parts.

Since they're flawed beings, they've been around long enough for those flaws to accumulate.  A lot.  Also, one wonders a bit if them being way more powerful than humans and having way longer lifespans than humans might be part of a package deal where the flaws are also larger than human.

Then again, maybe it's a question of leadership.  Some gods are, after all, good exemplars.  We might ponder if perhaps strange women lying in ponds distributing swords hanging from a tree for nine days is no basis for a system of government.

Doesn't matter.  Ragnarok is about the rulers of the universe.  The powers that be.  The people in charge.  As in, the word that's the "Ragna" part of Ragnarok is a word that can also mean ruler instead of the other options for saying "god" (there were at least two others that could have been used.)

And here's why this all matters:

There's basically no check on Odin et alia.  There was no check on Loki until the gods broke even more of their oaths, Odin's in particular, to . . . let's just say bind and torture Loki for centuries and skip over the brutal murder and violation of bodily autonomy and free will of two innocents that was used to do it.

When we get to that point Loki and his brood have been punished, even the ones who were blameless, the matters between the Aesir and the Vanir have been long since settled, and the only group of wrongdoers who have eternally escaped the consequences of their actions are the Aesir themselves.

Now it's very important we're clear here.  Ragnarok is not justice.  It's consequences.

There is no blameless completely just individual or group with the power to hold the gods to account and mete out justice.  There are only consequences.

The rulers of the Aesir have escaped consequences for the entire history of the universe and Ragnarok is when that stops.

"Rok" isn't twilight, that's "rokr" which results in some confusion and some poeticism.  Rok is destiny and/or fate.  Rok is when all of the things that they'e done come back at them, often with a vengeance, and they finally have to reap the strange harvest they've sown.

A lot of these people are pissed off, some of them have been tortured.  They're generally after vengeance, not justice, and the resulting clash is apocalyptic in nature and it does end the world and the gods do experience their twilight, dusk, darkest night, and a select few even make it to the dawning of a new age.

But all of that is collateral damage.  What Ragnarok is is when it comes to pass that EVERYONE even the most powerful, even the Ragna, have to face the consequences of their actions.

You ordered the loyal puppy (who apparently bore no grudge about the fact you'd kidnapped him) tied up in magic rope and left to die?  Congratulations: you're going to get eaten by a giant wolf.  And guess what, the "left to die" thing didn't work (not that you were expecting it to) because of the kindness of strangers protecting him from starvation and dehydration and natural hardiness protecting him from death by exposure, meaning that the wolf that eats you?  Totally the puppy you mistreated.

What's that you say?  You're the All Father?  Don't give a shit.  Into the wolf's maw with you.  Maybe you should have pet the dog instead of kicked it.  Oh well, too late now, time for you to die great All Father.

And so forth.

Wanna know why Baldr lives?

He totally could have been in the grudge match battle because the dead (of which he was one) were freed in the pre-battle "Olly olly oxen free" and some of them even followed Loki into the battle, so he wasn't protected because he was dead at the time.  No, he lives because he doesn't have anyone he wants vengeance on and no one wants vengeance on him.  That's the destiny he's set up for himself.

Ragnarok is when all of the stuff (notably the bad shit) the gods did wraps back around on them and they finally have to deal with the consequences of what they've done.  Even they can't escape destiny because actions have consequences.  For everyone.  No matter how powerful.


And this is of interest beyond just the Norse case because we can look at other religions (real and fictitious) and be like, "Someone needs to pull a Ragnarok."  Consider God as portrayed in the best selling yet completely horrible novels Left Behind; someone needs to Ragnarok his ass.

Not apocalypse --he's doing that himself.  Not end of the world.  Not any of a thousand other end times things.  Ragnarok.  Because Ragnarok is the fate/destiny/thing of the rulers of the universe and the rulers of that universe have set up a truly damning fate for themselves and yet they never have to face it.

That's not fair and it's no fun.  You know what would be fun?  If Hell's Pride Battalion stormed Heaven looking fabulous and being fierce while unicorns farted rainbows at Turbo-Jesus.  A lot of people are unjustly damned in Left Behind so let freedom ring, grab some popcorn, make sure it's filmed in color, and have a Ragnarok.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Something like "Fact relayers" or "Journalists" or "People whose job it is to spread truth over falsehood" or something.

[Originally posted at Slacktivist.]

This is my proposal:

There will be people whose job it is to communicate facts to the public. We won't call them "Fact checkers", those are people who get to work after the claim has already been made to the public (say in a speech or a debate.) We'll call them something else. Something like "Fact relayers" or "Journalists" or "People whose job it is to spread truth over falsehood" or something.

They'll tell you what happened. If what happened is someone told a lot of lies then they'll say or write, "So and so lied when he said such and such" and that way you get both the surface fact (So and so said such and such) and the related fact (such and such isn't true.)

Mind you, you don't always know when people are lying, so sometimes it'll be, "So and so was incorrect/wrong/at odds with reality when he said such and such."

We'll populate news services with these people who do this thing, and then when a lying liar lies the public won't be told "Someone said X" bur instead, "The lying liar lied by saying X."

And if the people who don't like reality don't like this coverage . . . they've already created their own alternative "news" sources anyway. They're gone, lost, they're not part of an actual news source's potential audience.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Secondary computer is driving me fucking nuts

And not some nice kind of nut like a pistachio either.

The internet problem seems to have resolved itself, which is great, but it's got another problem.  One it's had for much longer but seems to be getting worse.  It just up and dies.

I know what the reason is, sort of.  It's somehow related to the power jack.  Putting the cord in or taking the cord out is extremely risky.  So much so that the safest procedure is to only do it when absolutely necessary, and try to do that when the computer is completely powered down.

So, generally, the safest thing is to leave it plugged in all the time because then you never need to worry about putting in or taking out the cord.

Until now.  It's doing it without any apparent cause and doing it a lot.  Presumably some small motion of the plug in the jack is setting off the death switch function, but the motion must be really small because, as I said, there's no apparent cause.

After it destroyed all joy and light in the universe several times in rapid succession I gave up and unplugged it thus hopefully giving me a measure of salvation until the battery runs down at which point I'll either have to shut down in a hurry, preform esoteric rituals, and pray to the gods of "Fuck you, you puny electronics using human" plug it in, turn it back on and then . . . what?  If it can't be relied upon when plugged in then maybe I shouldn't turn it back on.  Maybe I should leave it plugged in until it charges completely, presumably relegating myself to a corner to cry during this process, and then unplug it, turn it on, and use it until the power runs down again.

And this is part of why secondary computer is emergency back up computer.  This is part of why Stealing Commas dies without a working primary computer.  I can't do this on secondary.  It's not so much about secondary being incapable, it's the stress and frustration involved in using secondary for any length of time.  Great as a stopgap, not so good as an ongoing thing.

But I can't even console myself with the fact that Primary is coming back anymore because it's not coming.  It's gone.  Finished.  Kaput.

And I haven't figured out what to do to replace it.  I ran the numbers.  Even I if wanted to buy the cheapest one that will work with my existing hardware, I don't have the money.  The refund the warranty gave me (which is store credit, by the way, and thus can only be used there) isn't enough, adding the credit I have on the store card for that store still isn't enough.

Like I said somewhere else $500-$1202 dollars.  $500 for the cheapest compatible, and a new warranty, $1202 for a decent replacement.

I don't have that.

I need to figure out the best way forward, when all ways forward are bad.  No matter what I do I'm going to be left deeper in crushing debt.


I'm going to curl up in a ball now.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Been listening to Lucinda Holdsworth

Especially when laying down after the ankle sprain.  I kind of left this out because I had to fight with secondary computer so much to actually post about the sprained ankle that my focus changed somewhat, but part of what' going on is the desire to curl up into a ball, close my eyes, and have the world disappear and never bother me again.  Unfortunately solipsism isn't a particularly practical view of the universe and magically opting out of dealing with life in a way that involves no self harm (never had self harm ideation and don't intend to start) is generally not an option.

So, that.  Did I do that?  No.  I lay on my side on the couch with my eyes opened and played some music with accompanying video.  Over and over again.  Sort of like way back before I had antidepressants that worked and I watched the Shawshank Redemption on infinite repeat because I couldn't muster the energy to cross the room and change the DVD and replaying the movie (just a button push on the remote) was better than the title screen on infinite repeat.

Thus: Lucinda Holdsworth, now I have no particular interest in The Hunger Games (in fact I avoid them like the plague since everything I've heard about them indicates that they might trigger a depressive episode even in my medicated state) or Hannibal, so I'm limited to a mere three fifths of her creative output, still, there's a lot to like in those three songs.

First the entirely original Supervillainy Sucks:

Second, Loki's Songs(MCU version, Avengers timeframe):

Third: Pirate's Game (Treasure Island inspired):

* * *

On a Treasure Island related thing, I do believe that I first learned of Disney's Treasure Planet via its music (well, just the one song: Jim's theme, "I'm Still Here") being used in music videos for movies I'd already seen, specifically:

Rise of the Guardians (Spoilers)

Titan AE (Massive Spoilers)

Having enough youtube tabs open at once to switch between the above videos quickly is enough to grind secondary computer to a virtual halt (it still moves, just slower than continents and with considerably more frustration) or simply glitch out of control.  Which is part of why I'm so out of sorts about the death of primary computer and the financial difficulty involved in replacing it.

Only part, but definitely part.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

#!$@!*. I sprained my ankle again.

First please understand that "#!$@!*" is not self-censorship.  It is not taking the place of some other word or phrase like "damn", "damn it", "God, damn it", "shit", "fuck", "crap", "motherfucker", "Jesus Fucking Christ", "mother fucking fuck", "the collected feces of all life one earth", "Oh, my fucking God, it HURTS", "Zoinks", or "God damn all this shit to fucking Hell!"

No, rather than being censorship in which a random string of symbols is used to protect your precious puritanical mind (fragile as it is) from a word or phrase in general English parlance, this usage of "#!$@!*" is aspirational.  It aspires to capture a cry of anguish so profane that the English language is incapable of conveying it and the pseudo-Latin alphabet we use would be unable to communicate it even in the unlikely event that spoken English did one day develop a way of expressing such a thing.

Think of it like "Belgium"* but with infinitely more force and a great deal less tact.

So, yeah, that happened.  On my way to get my my meds again.  Like last time, though in a different place.  I was , everything seemed normal, boom pain, #!$@!*, I'm on the ground.  Didn't hit my head, no concussion.  At least that much is good.

Also, I lucked out and this happened right next to one of those poles they put in foot paths so that any asshole attempting to drive a car down it will have to cope with said car being fucked up via collision.  Made a nice place to lean my back against while I swore and made incoherent sounds of pain.

Then, eventually, I got up and continued in the direction of medication.

After I got my meds I had to go to a McDonald's.  I have nothing against them in theory as they provide more calorie per dollar than most places and that is extremely useful when you have a limited food budget.  Trying to squeeze 366-ish calories out of a dollar isn't always the easiest thing.  But McDonald's is "prepared food" and so it can't be paid for in food money anyway.

I wasn't planning on going there, but there was no way I was going to make it home by lunch time on a sprained ankle.

I got a decent amount of calories at a decent price, I won't be starving soon, but that also had the side effect of burning through a fifth of my cash-like money.

(But a meal at McDonald's costs less than $10.  Yes, yes it does.)

Which in turn brings thoughts back to the need to get a new primary computer.

The fact that secondary was doing the screen equivalent of spasming for an extended period to prevent me from even getting to the "So, that happened" paragraph also brings it around to that.

Also the fact that I saw the most amazing truck, in terms of decoration, in the world while limping home.

So, from ankle to computer.

* * *

Even though some people have given me donations (thank you so very, very much) the money I have just dropped by 20% because a sprained ankle prevented me from getting home for lunch.

I'd need ten times the money I have right now to pay for the warranty (and just that) on a new computer.  But even if I had that I wouldn't have enough money to actually buy a new fucking computer to go with the damned warranty because apparently I got primary on some kind of sale and there's no sale of that magnitude going on right now.

I need anywhere from five to twelve hundred dollars.  I have about forty dollars.  Mind you there's some $400 in credit I could make use of that would shove my future even further down the drain.

And where does the truck come in?  Remember back when I had a computer (this was back when I still could use a desktop) run a program for three days straight using so much of the on-board resources that I wondered if it might have simply frozen several times during those days because getting enough power to do anything else was difficult at best?

I don't blame you if you don't, I never did get around to showing the results so it ended up being little more than an offhand comment that Brin used as a jumping off point for a Doctor Who reference (weeping angels, if you're wondering) but that's the sort of thing I do.

Secondary computer would probably find a way to explode if I tried to use it like that.  Primary computer, on the other hand, was able to do some of that kind of stuff.

Awesome truck cries out for that.  Full on, take as long as it needs, have me get back into reading up on the scientific articles to find the latest developments calls for that.

And I'm not complete without a primary computer.  And I have difficulty coping with the fact that I walked through the morning into the afternoon on a sprained ankle and the, on getting home, couldn't swear about it for a good long time because secondary computer gets exhausted running google chrome

And I probably need new shoes to cut down on ankle spraining and where the fuck will I find the money for that?

* * *

* From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Original Radio Show, Episode 10

In today’s modern Galaxy there is, of course, very little still held to be unspeakable.

Many words and expressions which only a matter of decades ago were considered so distastefully explicit that were they merely to be breathed in public, the perpetrator would be shunned, barred from polite society, and, in extreme cases, shot through the lungs, are now thought to be very healthy and proper, and their use in everyday speech is seen as evidence of a well-adjusted, relaxed, and totally unf[bleep!]ked-up personality.

So, for instance, when in a recent national speech, the financial minister of the Royal World Estate of Qualvista actually dared to say that due to one thing and another, and the fact that no one had made any food for awhile and the king seemed to have died, and that most of the population had been on holiday now for over three years, the economy had now arrived at what he called, “One whole juju-flop situation,” everyone was so pleased he felt able to come out and say it, that they quite failed to notice that their five-thousand-year-old civilization had just collapsed overnight.

But though even words like “juju-flop,” “swut,” and “turlingdrome” are now perfectly acceptable in common usage, there is one word that is still beyond the pale. The concept it embodies is so revolting that the publication or broadcast of the word is utterly forbidden in all parts of the galaxy except one - where they don’t know what it means. That word is “Belgium” and it is only ever used by loose-tongued people like Zaphod Beeblebrox in situations of dire provocation.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Primary computer is dead

Primary computer is dead.  I think I must have gotten it on sale because, though I got a full refund (less the warranty and such) if I don't want to take a step back I'm going to need to sink in a bunch more money and it gets worse.

To get the good screen (4k is amazing, probably not for everyone but I take pictures the way other people breathe) I had to take a hit to other areas including the RAM.  Why do I single that out?  Because I bought better RAM.  RAM that was in the computer when it got hurt, RAM that I was totally incapable of diagnosing myself so I sent off with the rest of the computer.  RAM that I won't be getting back and won't be getting refunded for.

And then there's the need for a new warranty.

Further, to make up for some of the shortcomings of the computer (as noted, RAM wasn't the only one) I have some external things to help out some of which are sadly brand specific.  I can't shop around for the best price on the computer itself because that would necessitate new external things, which would cost more than just staying with what I'm stuck with.

So, hey, I need money.  That sounds really familiar.

But back to the whole, I must have gotten it on sale thing: it's seriously not enough money to buy a computer that's compatible with any of my computer specific thing and still keeps the good screen.

The good news is that I have a store card that might, barely, be able to make up the difference.  Of course that would max out the store card and . . . good fucking god I must have gotten a good deal the last time for what I'm looking at to be cheapest thing that can work with the same brand specific shit.

When one includes the warranty I'm not sure that the store credit can stretch that far.  It's already half used up because I bought stuff to upgrade primary computer right before primary got injured (Good news: I hadn't installed it yet so it isn't lost).  It's not brand specific (Yay!) and only requires a computer with the same slots, but . . . fuck.

I don't suppose anyone has five hundred to a thousand dollars that they don't know what to do with.

I'll somehow manage to make this work and probably have to buy the cheapest thing that'll work, because secondary is not a viable long term strategy for having a blog.

No new primary means no Stealing Commas, and that's really not something I'm willing to bear, even if my muse does seem to be as absent as my computer.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Acceptance speeches - Kim Possible Fannie Awards

Remember when I was all, "Vote for me?"  Well I won two awards.  And as such I wrote two acceptance speeches which were incorporated into the story of the awards show, which can be found here.  The text of my speeches is excerpted below.

If you want to see them in context, be aware that has an annoying habit of numbering chapters even when the numbering doesn't make sense because, for example, there's an introduction or a prologue before chapter one.  So my bits can be found in Chapter 1, labeled "2", and Chapter 3, labeled "4".

∗ ∗ ∗

["This year's winner is for Best KP Style Name is Chi Mira, who is used in the story 'Bent, not Broken', by chris the cynic!"]

First off, thanks. Second, I wanted to talk about the genesis of Chi and his name.

Most of my original ideas come from so many places that, looking back, I can never figure out what started the whole thing. Chi is like that. On the one hand, he's supposed to be a part of a massive, if vague, idea I have for a saga level series of Kim Possible fics. I wanted someone who could come onto the scene and have an episode or two like a Justine Flanner. The idea being that Middleton was the one place weird enough that he would fit in. Like Jacob in Life After, he ended up coming to readers early (I haven't started the saga) because he was a good fit for a role in a current fic, Bent, not Broken.

On the other hand, and probably the one I should talk most about, he came from me trying to reconcile my feelings about meaningful names in fiction with the fact that Kim Possible positively overflows with them. We'll get back to that.

On Zaphod Beeblebrox's third hand, he comes from a desire to take a certain trope, the part-animal enhanced-human, to its logical and absurd extreme.

Back on the second hand, there are (I'm simplifying a bit because I have limited time) more or less two kinds of meaningful names. First there are ones where the meaning comes before the name. We see this with Monkey Fist giving that name to himself after he has both modified monkey-like fists and mystical monkey power. Then there are the ones where the name comes before the meaning. These require us to accept the coincidence that someone with name X will randomly become someone for whom name X is strangely descriptive. I tend not to like these.

Kim Possible, though, is full of them. Mr. and Ms. Leon decided to name their daughter Camille long before anyone could have guessed that she'd become the only human chameleon, or only one of note, in the Kim Possible verse. Professor Acari's family has likely had that name for centuries, it has meant "mite or tick" for millennia, but he doesn't become the inventor of the cybergenetic tick until Kim Possible Season 1.

So to fully embrace Kim Possible I felt like I had to have at least one KP style name. I wanted it to be like Camille's name where it was composed to a real first name and a real last name. I wanted it to have an in-universe explanation like "Monkey Fist".

And this is where we return to Zaphod's third hand. Chi didn't pick up traits from various animals by being bitten by a radioactive menagerie; he was grown in a lab. A perfect name for the project that created him would be "Chimera". Since that can be separated into an actual first name, Chi, and an actual last name, Mera, it seemed like exactly what I was looking for. I decided to change the last name to "Mira" because it seems to be a more common last name and there's really no reason to perfectly duplicate the spelling of the animal. Camille Leon, after all, is not spelled "Chame leon".

I'll close by talking a bit about Chi Mira himself. Does he have snake, lion, and goat bits? Not sure on the lion and goat yet. What he does have is anything that might be vaguely useful. He was created to be a weapon: an all terrain super solider. But he was raised as a person and the result is someone who spent his teen years trying to be normal, and his adult life pursuing a relatively mundane job, for the Kim Possible verse at least.

Again, thanks to everyone who voted for me. Without the support of readers, I probably wouldn't write.


[Crowd response during intermission that mentioned me or the above]

Invader Johnny:
Heh well I loved all the Fannie speeched but the one that struck the most was the one that explains why the name Chi Mira was created, XD.

Congratulations to everyone, and not just the winners.

"Chi Mira" is a perfect KP-style name. [...]
Congratulations to Chris the Cynic, ShadowDancer01, and especially to my girl Kawaiigirls5.
∗ ∗ ∗

For the second one there was more description so I'm just leaving it as was, embedded in the story of the awards show.  Still in italic though.

∗ ∗ ∗

[I actually considered cutting and pasting this as it was in the story because a) they did a good job with inserting mannerisms for description of how the speech was given, and b) they got my gender right (for the first one they erroneously called me he/his/him pronouns.)]

["chris the cynic, you have won Best Drama with your story 'Bent, not Broken'."]

So, first and foremost, thank you everyone. Again.

Most of what I write, fan work and original alike, straddles the line between action/adventure and drama, but, in many ways, 'Bent, not Broken' was intended to be a departure from that.

I started the story because someone pointed out, rightly if rudely, that the KP fic I had at the time was lacking in action. My first KP fic, 'Being more than a Simulacrum', is sort of a serial friendship story. It's also about making a unique identity for yourself, so none of that really lends itself to action. My second, 'Forgotten Seeds', has no antagonists. Just nine characters trying to survive together. Again, not something that really calls for action.

So I set out to make a fic that would be much more… actiony. I'm a fan of LJ58's 'Bad Girls' and I was reading (and still am) ShadowDancer01's Action and Reaction and I wanted to do something in that general arena. Kim is set up. Kim loses everything. Disillusioned, Kim then sets out for retribution."

I actually wanted to take it further than either of those and write straight up id-fic, which is about pulling out all the stops and just letting loose on the organ. It's non-stop movie action where problems are solved by beating up the bad guys and blowing things up. It's about appealing to that part of your psyche that just wants to punch antagonists and other human obstacles in the face.

"But… I'm . . . not the best at writing it. In fact, I'd say I failed. (A year later I still haven't gotten to the part of Bent, not Broken where Kim embraces her dark side and really starts to let loose.) Id-fic is just not where my writing takes me. I tend to do more adventure than action, more think than punch, more Banner than Hulk, more Loki than Thor, and so forth.

And that's how I ended up with a drama when I set out to write, essentially, 'River Tam Beats Up Everyone'. Yes, Kim's going to cut loose, yes there's going to be action (and adventure) but what I've been trying to do, which I hope this award means I'm succeeding at, is tell a story where all of that fits.

A story where it makes sense that Kim has been pushed beyond her usual limits, and it makes sense that she's finding, and fearing, her dark side. It makes sense that she's doing things that aren't Kim-like (yet we're still rooting for her.) I've also been trying to create an enemy that is simultaneously so powerful that it can't be stopped without going full action movie, so pervasive that it can't be dealt with quickly, and so insidious that Kim can't figure it out in the space of an episode or three.

And all of that? That's drama. Drama that I totally didn't set out to write.

So, I guess the message that I really want to give to all of you is don't be afraid to try new things, and don't be frustrated when they don't turn out how you intended. Maybe you don't end up with what you were going for, but if you keep putting in solid effort and bring your best to bear, you can still end up with something good.

Thank you to everyone who voted for my story, and good luck to all of the writers out there.


[Crowd response during intermission that mentioned me or the above]

Belated congratulations again to all of the winners - Eddy13, Imyoshi, ShadowDancer01, and chris the cynic.

[...]. 'Bent, not Broken' is a terrific read and Kim's plan with the alarms is brilliant.


Oh, and bless you, chris the cynic, for the 'River Tam Beats Up Everyone' reference.
I guess its time for me to catch up on the awards show.

I want to say congrats to all the winners from chapter 4 - Eddy13, Imyoshi, ShadowDancer01, and chris the cynic.
∗ ∗ ∗

And that's those

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It's been a month since I wrote fiction

I try to write and nothing happens.  It's like whatever part of me had creativity is missing.

Everything is stressful, there's a void inside of me where my storytelling once was, and nothing ever gets better.

My creative well has run dry and I don't know how to refill it or find a new one.

It' like this huge piece of who I am just disappeared, and I didn't even notice the loss until it was over and done with.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Where Antichrists come from Index

Just noticed I didn't have one of these so:

The fiction fragment that started it all - After the Rapture, which Nick recognizes as such, people begin to listen to him about what has happened and what will happen.  Lucifer has an offer for him.

I'm taking the day off - Sometimes it gets to be too much

Demon Resources - Nick's staff isn't entirely composed of humans after all.

After the War - What does one do in the wake of World War III?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

I may disappear due to computer problems

I'm setting this to go up automatically.

By the time it does my primary computer should already be on the way to being fixed because warranties are awesome.  So this problem I'm about to talk about has an end date because eventually primary comes back and then problems of secondary don't matter so much.

Secondary computer, which I'm using to write this, has served me well for a long time.  Longer than I ever expected it to.  Maybe it's because there's less to break in it.  It's practically a net-book, but it's from before netbooks existed.  It' so low powered that it gets tired if one vigorously searches the internet, and I'm thinking of installing a game from 1995 because I think it might be able to run that without lag.

But . . . but it's starting to show some signs of wear.  In particular, the internet adapter is turning itself off at random.  It's not a problem so long as I can turn it back on (though it is a process because turning it on isn't as simple as it should be) but I don't know if I always will.

If it turns off for good, then until primary gets back I'm limited to accessing the internet via borrowed or publicly accessible desktops and such.

So, I might disappear.

Monthly financial update

If I weren't so worried about what's going on with my sister's family I'd probably be in outright panic about finances even though I'm good through the end of the month.

See, the whole get out of debt by paying off credit cards hit some major speed bumps a while back, and there were times when I ran out of food and food money before I ran out of month and thus needed to pay that on credit thus making things worse and all of my credit cards (except American Express, which no one takes) are close to maxed out right now.  Store credit is somewhat better, but that's because you can't use a best buy store card to keep yourself from starving.

I realized that I'd never broken things down by interest rate, which is kind of stupid to not do, so I corrected that this month.  So now instead of having a bunch of things lumped together as "High interest debt" I can see were some extra money would do the most good.

The worst offender has   $465.57
In a close second place is $1,376.58
Third is $452.93

And so forth.

A surprise to me was that my biggest high interest debt is also the one I should pay off last because it's got the lowest interest rate by far.  (Unless you count student loans, but why would you.)  It sits there with negative $116.35 in credit and yet it's the best credit related debt I have because it gathers interest at less than half the speed of the worst one.

Needing clothes forced me to put money on an empty card (ok, so there are some people who take American Express after all) which means that there's going to be another monthly payment that I can't afford, and that brings up another wrinkle to the whole trying to get out of debt while simultaneously not having enough money to survive thing.

Say I got enough money to pay off the two with the highest interest rate.  This is unlikely, but it's a thought experiment.  The second worst is enough that I could pay off two $500 limit cards and have enough change to make a significant dent in a third one for the same price.

Yes, getting rid of the higher interest debt is better in the long term, but getting rid of monthly payments helps me survive in the short term.  (Who cares about the long term if I can't make it through November?)

The whole thing sucks, I still haven't managed to get another letter (with accompanying documentation) sent to the SSA saying, "I don't have this income you think I have and you paying me less because you think I do has left me drowning in debt," so I'm not exactly expecting help on that front.  I guess I really fucked up with the first one because it seems like it didn't even make it to the right people at the SSA based on me never hearing anything about it, ever.

I've lost track of when the non-monthlies are next due and as the death-heat of summer fades the fact that I've got no plan for how to refill the oil tank when that inevitably runs dry looms ever larger in my mind.

So this is sort of: "Situation normal, all fucked up."

But it has me stressed a lot and the only reason it's not making me feel completely hopeless and despondent is because bad cops nearly killed my sister, and then DCF took away her son because of the thing the asshole cops did and the lies they (and the neighbors who sent both groups) told.

I need my hope right now, so financial stress doesn't get to leave me hopeless.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Everything Hurts and Nothing is Beautiful

Yesterday I spilled a lot of water on my computer.  A. Lot.

How much of a lot?  You could have like fifty alots swimming in that water.

Ok, actually it was about the same volume as those metal milkshake making cups (which are awesome drinking vessels and I wish I knew where mine was) and I quickly flipped the damn thing so gravity would pull the water out rather than making it seep through, but water + computer is not good.

I thought that was as bad as things would get.  Without primary computer it's like a part of me is missing.  Without primary computer my productivity drops even if I'm doing the best ever and I'm not, I'm in a fucking dry spell.  Without primary computer there is less joy in the world.

Then my sister came over.

Let me tell you about Kevin, Jensen's biological father.

After Jensen was conceived, Kevin denied any part in the pregnancy.  The fact that he was the only one my sister had been having sex with didn't matter.  He didn't make a divine intervention argument per se, more a suggestion that my sister is so slutty that she could get pregnant by a guy other than her boyfriend without actually needing to have sex with the guy because sluttiness is magic.

So already we have the fact that he's an asshole who thinks accusations of promiscuity are all the argument one needs.

My sister, Jen: But: BIOLOGY
Kevin: Yeah, but you're a slut.

Granted he didn't use precisely those words, but . . . yeah.

By the time my sister was about ready to give birth, Kevin sort of grudgingly accepted that he might possibly have had something to do with the pregnancy given that he was the only one whose sperm could possibly have fertilized the egg, but he was still hostile to the idea of admitting for really real that he was the father and thus refused to be included in any of the paperwork because . . . Fuck you, that's why.

There were a lot of people there.  Several of them had known Jen for less than 9 months.  All of them cared deeply about what was going on and we anxiously occupied the waiting room hoping that maybe we'd be allowed back in to do something, anything, to help Jen with what was a very difficult birth and expectantly waiting to see the new human that would be produced.

Kevin wasn't there.  Always disinterested, it reached the point that he left the building entire and wandered off for a smoke.  (Can't remember if it was a cigarette or weed.)

A search party had to be sent out to find him because Jen wanted him there for the birth and it was finally, after several false starts, happening.

My sister, who has a strange idea of what it means to "do right by" her son, tried to keep Kevin in Jensen's life so that Jensen would have a dad.  Kevin is not a dad.  I don't even like using the term biological father because of the "father" in it.  He's at best an accidental sperm donor but that makes him sound like a person less hostile to the entire idea of his biological child's existence than he is.

Kevin, however, didn't have a choice.  Kevin might have been vehemently against the idea of having a son, but Kevin's mother was very into the idea of having a grandson and so Kevin was forced to go through certain motions.

It NEVER worked out well.

Jensen defied all of my expectations for a baby because I'd always heard they wake you up at all hours, cry for no reason, and are generally impossible to figure out or get to shut up.  Jensen was quiet unless he needed something at the moment and the only two things he ever needed were nourishment and diaper changes.

You had to try at most two things to get him happy and quiet again.

But then he'd spend a weekend with Kevin.  Kevin's solution to, "He's crying so he must be really hungry or really uncomfortable because of a dirty diaper," was to shove a pacifier in Jensen's mouth so Jensen would shut up without Kevin having to deal with feeding or changing Jensen.

So Jensen would go to Kevin downright stoic and return fucking crying his eyes out constantly until he realized that my sister would, in fact, notice and help him.

Jensen got older.

Jensen got potty trained.

Jensen went to stay with Kevin.

Jensen came back believing it was morally wrong to use a potty and instead he had to pull on pullups diapers and poop in them.

Jensen got potty trained.

Same sequence of events.

Eventually we figured out exactly what Kevin was doing.  Kevin doesn't like having to deal with a kid who needs to be taken to the bathroom, so it was easier on Kevin to stick Jensen in diapers and flat out refuse to let the kid use a bathroom.

The only things people have been able to say in support of the idea that Kevin might have some affection toward Jensen are that he likes taking him on walks through the downtown area with Jensen in a shirt that reads "Cute like Daddy" which Kevin only does to pick up women.

At worst Kevin treats Jensen like a neglected dog, at medium like a fashion accessory, and at best like a semi-trained monkey.

My sister has never reported any of this to anyone with authority because she "doesn't like calling the cops on people."

Meaning DCF doesn't know any of that.  So why not send Jensen off to stay with the father?

And Kevin has finally admitted he's the father.  I think he thinks it will mean he doesn't have to pay the two years of unpaid child support that he owes my sister.  I don't know if that's true.  It shouldn't be (it's not like him taking Jensen now would somehow make finances easier in the past) but I don't know.

What I do know is that since he's always refused to flat out admit he's the father and implied that my sister's magic slut powers (fucking god I'm sick of that word, but it is his reasoning) made it so someone else's sperm was responsible, he's going to need to take a paternity test.  He'll pass with flying colors, of course.

After that he wants full custody.

But . . . he's homeless.  (And drunk.)  There's nothing wrong with people who are homeless by choice, but DCF isn't so understanding.  Meaning he'd have to move in with one of his parents.

His mom, who is the only one in his family with any experience actually caring for a child well?  No.  Her house would never pass inspection.  His dad who has laid eyes on Jensen all of three times and never spent a night with the kid.

But which parent Kevin claims he'll move in with matters less than this: both parents currently live in New York.  For those of you unfamiliar with geography, New York is not Maine-Adjacent.

This could literally be a, "We'll never see Jensen again," thing if stuff goes wrong.

Also, unlike what movies tend to depict, this tends to be how kidnappings start.  That's your random fact of the day.  The parents disagree over custody, one takes the kid and splits.  If the one who splits doesn't have custody, it's kidnapping already, but if they do then the script goes like this:

Parent without kid: I do deserve custody.
Lots of hoops
State of Parent without kid: I guess you do.  That doesn't mean the other one doesn't, you'll have joint custody.
Parent with kid: Fuck you.
State of Parent with kid: On behalf of our citizens we would request that you kindly go somewhere private and engage in intercourse with yourself.
Drawn out battle in Federal courts
Feds: For fuck's sake, let the other parent at least see the kid.
Parent with kid: Thank you for the time to plan, you'll never find me.
*Poof, they're gone*

Doesn't have you eating popcorn the way Liam Neeson saying, "I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom I can tell you I don't have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you," does, but real world kidnappings of US citizens tend to be less dramatic and more personal.  The parent who loses the child knows exactly who took the child: the other parent.

So, yeah.  Even if we assume it's for the minimum possible time, Jensen being in Kevin's care is DO NOT WANT, but this could be forever if Jen can't regain custody this month.

If she's considered unfit then he gets Jensen because he'll have proven he's the father, and DCF in both states has already signed off on the, "Well he could never support a kid, but he'll be living with his dad," plan.

And then Jensen is out of state meaning the only way to get even partial custody back means first getting it in this state and then negotiation between states, and if everything goes perfectly, transportation plans and . . . it's fucked up.

* * *

Everything hurts, and nothing is beautiful.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dirty bloody hands that wipe a sweat drenched brow (Farm images at end of post)

My mother was a third generation Mainer (pronounced Maine-AH regardless of whether you actually have the accent or not) I think.  My father's family had lived here so long that they'd not just lost track, but lost track of losing track.

So it makes it a bit strange that my sister and I were born in the capital of New York.  After I was born my mother wanted to move back home.  There was no question about where "home" was since my mother's parents and my father's (or at least his dad) lived in the exact same area.  We ended up, though the house being about the right price and about the right shape and about the right ... and so forth rather than design, right between the two.  My grandfather Robert father of Robert lived in Portland, my grandfather Robert father of Joanne lived in Cape Elizabeth, and my family settled in South Portland, a city that happens to boarder both Portland and Cape Elizabeth.

There's actually a street where, because it interacts with the South Portland Cape Elizabeth border just so, houses on one side are in South Portland and the houses directly across the street from them are in Cape Elizabeth.

Upon returning home to Maine my parents both got jobs here and they were working for my entire childhood.  Hell, they were working until just a few years ago when my mother retired.

We never had baby sitters or any such things.  I don't recall any after school programs they unloaded us into.  And as for the weekends or, heaven forfend, summers. . . I grew up as much on my grandparents farm in Cape Elizabeth as I did at my house in South Portland.  Not that my mom's family was the only one to help.  One of my father's sister and her . . . whatever the fuck you call an unofficial wife before anyone's even considered civil unions, much less marriage equality, also put a lot of work in.

But I grew up at the farm and my own house.

Our grandparents never worked us, we had free rein and in addition to exploring the woods, gorging ourselves on strawberries we never had to pay for (beyond picking them ourselves), and pretending the eave-spaces upstairs were exciting secret passages, I have memories of being a little asshole.

So my "I grew up on a farm" cred does not include, "And thus I am tough and no stranger to hard work."

And yet days like today, when I find myself caked in dirt, drenched in sweat, and with blood flowing out of one part of me or other because the fucking tool fucking slipped, feel pretty normal to me.

Having my hands in the dirt is probably something I know from helping my mother with the flower garden at our house, not the farm.  Doing work passed the point of exhaustion is just something that happened along the way.  I can't even come up with a plausible start.

As for the blood, that sucks, but it's a natural part of the "blood, sweat, and tears" combo.  (We can talk about tears later.)

I've never been a stranger to blood.  When I was learning right and left I already had a distinctive scar (which is still there) on my right thumb that was created in a truly bloody misadventure.  If you've never seen/experienced it, you'd be surprised how much blood can come from a thumb.  So the blood part is as ingrained in me as knowing my right hand from my left.  More, really.  I knew blood first.

Come to think of it, that could be why I so hate having blood taken out of me.  Getting it to stay in me is fucking work and I have been working on that project (hard but with many failings) my whole life.

Tears are more rare, but if the sweat reaches the eyes there's no telling what will happen.  Granted it will be painful, but beyond that it's really wide open.

* * *

The point of exhaustion didn't used to come so quickly -- I know what size I generally do best at and it and I parted ways about a hundred pounds or so-- and my body didn't used to protest so much or so frequently, but . . .

At some point I looked down at my hand saw it was covered in dirt, noted the over-sized band aid (there were none of the right size) trying to keep my middle finger sanguine, felt the bone deep fatigue throughout my body, and it all felt . . . familiar.  Like I was deeply immersed in being me.

Like . . . I don't even know.  Not like home.  But deeply familiar.

* * *

It should be noted that none of this is to say that I like working for my sister.  I volunteered for four hours today.  She had control over transportation, pretty sure it was more like six or eight.

* * *

Apparently my grandparents had to spell out their last name frequently.  I don't remember it, but it stuck with my sister.  Not that they had to say S-Y-S-K-A a lot, but rather the sound of those letters being spelled out.

When she revived the farm she named it after that sound.  "Eswhy Eskay A" farm.  Of course since "a" is an article that one might use with "farm" it can also be read as "Eswhy Eskay, a farm."

You can actually see a bit of my reflection on the side of the truck that logo's painted on.  The logo is an artist's rendition of the greenhouse, now in disrepair but hopefully restored one day.

For my grandfather the farm was a place for strawberries, flowers, and food for the family (the blueberries and rhubarb come to mind, but there was also corn and squash and stuff.)  My sister has been reinventing it as a farm with animals.

No cows at the moment, haven't checked on the ducks or lack there of, but there's still sheep, geese, chickens, and animals that are more willing to be photographed:

The pigs tend to keep their distance, the goat pictured here is pretty nice when she's not trying to eat my hair or shirt.

The big task for the day was putting together a trailer.  These were the primary tools:

A rusty ratchet and a tiny beat up wrench that responds about as well to tools slipping as I do (the second side had a covering until one such slip.)

It started completely disassembled, I think this is how far I got before the others were done with enough of their stuff for it to become a group effort:

How did I end up covered in dirt doing such a clean task?  I'll never tell.  Unless I do.  But I probably won't.

Here's a picture of the others after it became a team effort, note that the frame has been unfolded, turned right side up, and such:

No, the goat is not helping.  Like most goats, she is simply there.  Goats are sort of like cats.  They go where they want, when they want, unless you're willing to pitch a fit to get them not to.  Even then, training simply gets them to flee when caught in the act of doing something bad, rather than preventing them from doing the bad thing in the first place.

The last time I was at the farm a large portion of what I did involved helping set up a fence.  A big part of what my sister is trying to do with the image of the farm is a colorful place of creative reuse, thus the fence where every other picket is a discarded ski gotten at the dump makes sense:

* * *

I wish I'd been able to get a picture of what the door looked like before they managed to get it out of the doorway.  You know, in its freshly kicked down state.  I didn't have my camera then, and it's not like they were going to leave it so that when you squeezed through the screws might scrape your back.

Have some pictures of the cleaned up sanitized version:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I want to write something; my muse is missing. Have links to some previous stories.

I'd really like to put some fiction here.  Not working out.

So, um, have a recap of past fiction, loosely organized into these sections (which are in a largely random order):

* * *

Things I really want to get back to really really soon, like yesterday or some such
Theoretically parts of longer stories

Random Grab bag of stuff

Dystopia, post apocalyptic, so forth

Non-dystopian Sci Fi, fantasy, and superheroes

General monsters, aliens, and inhumans



Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Things which are Needful

  • New Glasses
The right lens dropped out of my glasses repeatedly over the past two days.  I've just done a partial reassembly and re-wrapped the wire as tight as it will go.  That should cut down on lens drops, but it's still long passed time that I got an eye exam and new glasses based on the updated prescription.

These aren't even my most recent glasses.  They're the emergency back up glasses that I had to switch to when my normal glasses fell into a Massachusetts toilet years ago.  The glasses were eventually re-discovered after years of being in the toilet, but I never got a chance to gaze upon the filthy monstrosity they had become.

Kind of disappointed at not being able to see the wreckage that once was my glasses because talking about things ravaged beyond repair has worked well for me in the past.

Anyway: Eye Exam; Glasses.  These things cost money.
  • Cordless phone
I have two phones.  The cordless one has a battery that can barely hold a charge.  I have free range, but not necessarily full conversations.

If I unplug that I can plug in a corded phone which keeps me on a short leash and I basically end up stuck in a doorway in a place cool air cannot reach.

The good news: I think I'll be able to get a used one that isn't quite so bad for free.
  • Potting soil
The life expectancy of my plants changes with my moods.  I had a lot of depressed time since I took pictures.  Almost, but not quite, every single plant pictured here has died.  That makes me sad.

That's just a question of keeping them watered, though.  However I have other plants as well.  Ones in soil.  Ones that need to be re-potted, ones that could survive if they had soil.  So on, so forth.
  • Energy
No idea where the fuck you get that, but I have so many plans, and so little ability to do even the smallest follow-through.
  • Chemical weapons for use in my war against the fleas
The fleas seemed to have gained an immunity to the flea-stuff I was putting on the cat.  That's bad.  I managed to get different flea stuff.  That's good.  The fleas rule the floor and the cat won't go near it, and we're back to the bad.

What this means is that to make a dent in the flea legions sent forth by the flea confederacy ensconced in blood-sucker central I need to take the fight to them.  Bombing the house doesn't work and is an incredible hassel.

Getting "Don't inhale lest you die" stuff sprayed on the floor, on the other hand, is a proven method of beating back the flea hordes.
  • Always money.
The SSA seems to have ignored the information that I've sent them about my (lack of) significant income.  I'm going to have to get said information from my bank again, send it in again, and hope that they alter my SSI.

If they don't then every month I'll continue to fall further behind.  This makes the future a string of unending catastrophes with the only variation being how bad it is this time.

It is my hope that this time they'll listen, because then it's just a question of paying off the (considerable) debt I've accrued in this time of hardship.
  • Sandals
I don't know exactly how to describe them, they're not Teva-type but they are serious about having your foot solidly strapped in with strap across the heel to make sure they don't come off unless you really want them to.

They have served me well, but the foot-meeting part of the sole is starting to deteriorate and I don't know how long before that spreads to structural collapse.

In part this is because my experience has generally been that structural collapse comes well before the sole deteriorates.
  • All purpose shoes
The type of shoe I usually go for is one that is rugged but not specialized.  Something I can wear to walk four hours a day three days a week for two semesters worth of weeks in a year, but also can wear climbing a mountain, or running for my life from zombies while trapped in 2052, or something like that.

Traditionally this has meant these nice looking dark brown shoes from LL Bean that occupied a slot somewhere between a hiking shoe and a boot of some kind, but the fuckers stopped carrying them so now I have these sort of mutant sneaker things.  They're getting old.

Not sure how I'll replace them, it's not like I have the money for good shoes.
  • Insoles
My feet do not fit shoes.  Part of this is that they're not a standard size (an ordinary shoe that is wide enough is too long, an ordinary shoe that is the right length crushes my foot sideways), part of it is that the arch of my foot results in . . . people who specialize in feet call other people over so they can look, together, at the way my foot goes from arched to flat while standing and marvel at the "huge pronation."

Part of it is that if my heel isn't elevated the back of the shoe will bite into the back of my ankle and any extended walking will prove that "Bite" was indeed the right word to use there.

Thus, insoles.
  • An LED bulb
Exactly what it says.  One CFL in particular desperately needs to be changed to something else and incandescent would be a step back.
  • Doubtless many more things that I'm not thinking about at the moment.
- - -

I'll see if I can get a more interesting post up today, since this probably isn't of interest.