Monday, October 22, 2018


The good news: I have wireless again.

I've actually had a new wifi router sitting around taking up way too much space (why do they always make boxes so much larger than they need to be?) in my living room for ages.  It came with the new modem that I never installed.

I figured that since they went together I should swap out modem and router both.  This was a mistake.  Don't know why, but the combination that works is "New Router; Old Modem".

The bad news: I am so fucked up right now.

It's difficult to say precisely what's wrong.  Tentative guess is that it's a combination of several things which is why it doesn't feel like any one thing I'm familiar with.

This has been building up for a while, I think.  I don' have a plan beyond the usual.  The usual being "Eat, drink, sleep; in proper quantities."  That might be enough.  If I deal with the problem by sleeping in its general direction, hydrating the ever-loving fuck out of it, and putting in sufficient calories, it might go away.

If it doesn't, then . . . I've got nothing.  Outside help will be necessary.

Either way, the fact that Eat/Drink/Sleep even could be the solution points to a deeper problem: I'm in a place where I'm not staying on top of those three, possibly to the point it's become debilitating.

That's never a good place to be.

The neutral news: Primary computer did not magically repair itself since yesterday.

This was completely expected and is in no way surprising.

For one thing, it's in two pieces connected only by cords that are never supposed to see the light of day.  (Primary computer is a laptop, the monitor has broken off.)

Problems like that produce strange reactions in people.  Even people who should know better.  People take a look at a laptop broken into two pieces and--

Ok.  I just had a minor revelation.  People are applying their considerably broken and unhelpful paradigms for mental illness vs. physical injury to tech support.

If the problem were just that the primary computer broke in two, and I didn't have an active warranty (which I don't want to void), I could fix that no problem.  I've done it before.  (I've also done transplants.)

It's a mechanical problem with a relatively simple solution.  It just looks grotesquely bad.

The problems that I can't fix, the computery problems, generally don't look like much of anything.  If you're not the one using it, a borked computer looks exactly the same as a fully functional one.

And so if I go into the store with a computer that works perfectly well as a computer in every way, but happens to have physical damage, it will instantly be taken seriously as a case that needs actual treatment, while if I go into the store with a computer that utterly fails to function properly as a computer, but doesn't have any outward signs of damage, I'll instead have to sit stand through them, essentially, trying to prove that it isn't really busted.

Visible injury gets taken seriously.  Invisible injury is dismissed as user error unless proven otherwise.
I'd never thought of computers repair in that framework before.  (Or, if I have, I've forgotten.)

The entirely unrelated news: I've voted.  You should too.

If you're from the US, as I am, then you know what it's like to feel completely powerless as everything goes to Hell around you.

One of the dangers of feeling powerless is that you can stop believing in whatever power you do have, however small.  Since you don't believe that power is real, you don't use it, and through that choice you strip yourself of what little was left after outside forces took the rest.

If you can vote, that's a power that hasn't been taken from you yet.  Use it.

You know the reason that certain people are trying so hard to take that right away from so many?  Because it still matters.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Computer Breakdown

For some inexplicable reason my primary computer and wireless router broke down at the exact same time last night.  Other than the timing coinciding, neither breakdown is particularly surprising.

The router is ancient, and the computer was literally falling apart.  The computer is still under warranty so it will get repaired (or replaced) given time.  The router should be simple enough to deal with, though I've never actually set up a router before since this one dates back to when other people lived in my house.

I actually have no idea what this will do to posting here.

It's possible that things will stay the same, it's possible they will get worse, and it's even possible that things will get better.  I don't think the last one is particularly likely, but it is true that primary computer offers more distractions than secondary computer, which leads to the possibility that not having it will result in me writing more.

This post brought to you by secondary computer and Dunkin' Donuts free wifi.

(Statement that primary computer and wireless router broke down at the exact same time was not able to be verified.  Readers are encouraged to decide for themselves whether the breakdowns were actually simultaneous or merely close enough to one another as to be noticed at the same time.)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Wait, are you spies?

[This idea sprang forth because of a single line in an MLP fanfiction called Sharing the Night.  Interestingly, it didn't come up when I first read it, or when I recently reread the line in question.  It came from the line randomly popping into my head weeks later.]
[I have no idea of the setting, or any of the characters names, that will likely lead to some awkward phrasing.]
[[Ok, I'm going with a "Universe 1" "Universe A" naming style.]]

Something suddenly occurred to her, and so she said to her closest underlings, the ones who basically did all of the work of governing for her, "Wait, are you guys . . . spies?"

For a moment all of them stopped.  Even stopped breathing.  In light of that detail, it was probably a very good thing that it only lasted for a moment.

"Um . . ." lead underling said.  The other underlings --first underling, underling primus, and underling secundus-- didn't say anything, but they did, at least, resume breathing.

While the response wasn't what she, the ling who was over, would have hoped for, and indeed was somewhat disturbing given the context, she breathed a sigh of relief.  There were no objections to the semantics of her calling the underlings, four women, "guys", and that was a good thing.  They didn't need a repeat of The Battle of the Oxford Comma.

True, all four of the lings who were closest under her had supported her position in that conflict --if not for outside agitators there wouldn't have been a battle-- but things came dangerously close to violence against people, and (more disturbingly) one of the oldest surviving treatise on punctuation now sported coffee stains that would stay with it for the thousands of years remaining in its useful life.

Marginalia was to be encouraged, provided those providing it literate, legible, and respectful of future generation's need to be able to read the original text; coffee stains were without appreciable value.

And so, they definitely didn't need a repeat of The Battle of the Oxford Comma.

This was to say nothing about the possibility of another Subjunctive Cold War or "Than" Part-of-Speech schism.

Still, the response wasn't an answer.

Thankfully lead underling wasn't trying to avoid giving an answer; evidence of this came in the form of her turning to first underling and asking, "Are we spies?"

First underling naturally had had time to think about this, as all four underlings were asked the question.  Unfortunately, she didn't to have a definitive answer either:

"I'm not sure," she said.  "I've never really thought about it before today.  I can see things pointing each way."

"Well," underling secundus said, "spies are clandestine operatives, so the fact that we're openly questioning whether or not we're spies would seem to disqualify us."

Underling primus countered with, "There's nothing in the definition that says spies can't admit to being spies.  In fact--"

"Openly allowing for the possibility that one might be a spy, while risky, is exactly the sort of thing a spy might do to throw suspicion off themselves," first underling said.

"Exactly," underling primus said with a nod.

"Ok," underling secundus said, "so . . ."

There was silence.

The silence ended with lead underling turning back to she, the ling who was over, and saying, "We'll have to get back to you on that boss."

Then the four of them hurried out of the room.

She, the ling who was over, addressed the empty air:

"I note that none of that quibbling would have been necessary in the least had the answer been a simple: 'No.'"

~ * ⁂ * ~

* *

It's hard to write when you don't have names for characters.

As mentioned, the naming style is "Universe 1" Universe A", everyone gets to be first.  Except for underling secundus, but there's a reason for that.

It has to do with the fact that the Romans were a sailing culture.  When you're talking about things that are moving, the thing that comes second is following.  A following wind is a favorable wind.  (The wind is blowing precisely where you need to go, meaning you get it's full power and are spared the work involved in sailing not-with-the-wind.)

Thus "secundus" also means "favorable" and/or "lucky".

So you get lead, first, primary, and the lucky one.

"Lead" is the informal leader of the group (hierarchically they're all equals), "first" is the first one lead tends to turn to (think "first mate" or "first officer"), primus and secundus I'm not really sure about.  I haven't even come up with names for them, their interpersonal relationships aren't really figured out in detail.

I already used bare "underling" and "overling" in a thing, so I didn't just want to have the one in charge be "overling" in this, thus: "she, the ling who was/is over".

* *

Regarding the thing that inspired this, it was:
“Rainbow Dash must never know that I said this, but doesn’t that make you… spies?”
as half remembered weeks after reading it for the second time.

Regarding the story that that line comes from,  Sharing the Night, I'm not really sure what to say about it.

I absolutely love the narrative voice, and the world-building is pretty cool (the mythology it created is like nothing you'll see elsewhere), and the Librararchy subplot is very fun.

The main story itself, though, is rather lacking.  (In my opinion, of course.)  Some things feel forced, the pacing leaves something to be desired, characters other than the main two seem to be forgotten for lengths of time, and characterization . . . has problems that are kind of complicated.

So parts of me are telling me that I should totally recommend it, and other parts are saying not to.  The result is a muddle.

Read it here, if you want to read it.  Be aware that it's over two hundred thousand words and still in progress.