Monday, August 3, 2020

Things I want or need -- 2020 Birthday Edition

I said I'd post this today, but it's now time for me to go to sleep and I've written all of three things, and only two of them are complete.

So, the idea behind this is that instead of just saying, "Give me money," I could make a list of things that would be useful, and maybe someone has one of those things that they're not using, or maybe someone is more willing to buy a specific thing than they are to just give general funds (or perhaps they could get a better deal than I would be able to get or...)

If there's anything on this pseudo-list that you have and are willing to send me, contact me via email:
          ⦑ cpw [at] maine (dot) rr {dot} com ⦒

As I try to keep my head up and myself awake long enough to get this posted, I'm just gonna add some quick things at the start.  This will be a hodgepodge of, "My half awake brain was firing randomly" stuff.  I'll try to make a better list at later date.


-- One thing that would be very useful, but it utterly fails to fall into the "You might have this lying around and not be using it" category, is food.  People "helpfully" cleaned out my freezer, which meant I had nothing in reserve for the times when there was more month than there was food money for the month, and I've had a lot of times when there's more month than food lately.  Also, when my depression is really bad (and it basically always is these days) I'm not necessarily able to cook.

Someone I know got someone else I know a pizza in spite of the two of them being in different states, something like that would be so very useful to me right now.  I doubt anyone would do anything like that, but if one does want to try, contact me via email.

Oh, and the heating element in my stove isn't working properly, which is just fucking wonderful.

-- As mentioned below, basically anything that's electronic I'll theoretically have some use for.  This is especially true for any kind of computer, no matter how old or how crappy.
-- -- Adding to the above, my last functional USB mouse looks like it's losing functionality.  So if you're one of the

-- Tools.  I'm not entirely sure how but I seem to have run out of tools.  Screwdrivers, my drill, wrenches, generally all things that happen to be useful that you hold in your hand are rather lacking around here.

-- Bicycle tires, but you would need to know what size and I don't know so this is useless.

-- Clothes, but you would need to know what size and I don't know so this is useless.  (This includes shoes since I'm down to one pair that is starting to come apart at the seams in the most literal way possible.)

-- This is probably redundant given tools is listed above, but when alleged helpful people did something to my house that they assure me was called "cleaning" the soldering stuff I had, which was very, very basic anyway, disappeared.

-- Fans.  There is one working fan in my house.  Two if you count the one nailed to the ceiling of the master bedroom.  The non-ceiling fan is on the verge of failure, and I'm not sure how much longer percussive maintenance will be able to keep it running.  As such whether a little fan that goes on a desk, or a big one that sits on the floor, I could use any fan that's available.

-- Basically anything vaguely musical, even if broken.

-- Anything My Little Pony or Equestria Girls related.  I actually made an Amazon wishlist of stuff that I thought might help me in my fanfic writing (and also has the potential of allowing me to introduce my unicorn loving nephew to pen and paper RPGs), but in terms of stuff one isn't setting out to buy so much as get rid of, basically anything.

-- Bedding, but I'd need to verify the size of the mattress, which I'm not going to do right now.
-- Curtains.
-- Probably other stuff along the lines of bedding and curtains, though my mind is drawing a blank

This whole thing is basically an attempt to do something that I've done before (twice), the things in those posts might still apply.  I should reread them:
Things I need or want
⦾ Stuff you could send me

That was more than the "some quick things" I promised.  Anyway, that's what I added when it was already late enough that I should have been first going to bed and then sleeping.  The original intent was to go into more detail about stuff, what follows is what I wrote before I let myself fall into a depressive stupor that consumed most of the day:

Dog and Cat Supplies

As one might imagine based on the fact that the dog got hit by a car (she's fine now, by the way) I have a dog now.  When she got hit by the car she wasn't mine, she was just staying here until we could find a new home for her, but I promised her that if she lived I'd keep her.  She's very much alive.

Here's the thing: I didn't have much in the way of dog stuff to begin with, assholes lost or broke most of the dog stuff.

Retractable leash?  Broken.  Normal leashes?  Lost.  (Instead of clipping things to her collar, I've been tying a bowline every time I need to hook her up to something.)  Toys?  Almost none, and what I did have has been reduced by stuff getting lost.  Grooming supplies?  Never had them in the first place.

For the cat, it's much more on the side of never having stuff to begin with.  In all things (including human affection) anything she likes she likes more when it's outside, usually to a fairly significant degree.  As such, it never really made sense to buy indoor cat stuff.  The thing is, she's getting old, and I'd actually like it if I could convince her to spend more time inside.  Not lock her inside or anything, but--

Ok, here's the thing, I wanted to give her  more stuff to do inside before this because I'd feel better about her safety if she started spending more time inside instead of outside, but it might be too late.

From sometime Thursday to sometime Sunday I was at my sister's.  It was a very eventful time.  Someone choked me three times on Thursday and I'm pretty sure that on the third time, in the heat of that particular moment, they were genuinely trying to kill me.  While such things were happening to me, my housemate was supposed to watch the cat and dog.  I learned today that when the cat never showed up, housemate figured that I had changed my mind and brought my cat with me, because why else would the cat just disappear at the same time I did?

So my cat could already be dead or abducted, which is precisely the kind of thing I was hoping to avoid by enticing her to spend more of her time inside as she grew older.

I'm scared.  I'm worried.  I want to scream.  I want to cry.


It's no secret that I can't enjoy reading like I used to.  At this point the only types of fiction I can enjoy are video games and incredibly niche fanfiction that retreads the same territory I've read a hundred times before with just a few tweaks here and there.

That said, I do have uses for books.  For one thing, not all books are fiction.  Any given art book is something that I'm interested in.  Books about creating fiction I'm interested in as well, whether it's of the form "This is how such and such thing was created" or "Advice for plotting your next novel".

Digitized books are also of great interest to me because of some metatextual computer projects I want to work on.  That said, digitized books are also potentially problematic legally speaking.  Reselling used books is an established practice that's older and more respected than any government extant today.  Reselling ebooks has the potential to get one sued into non-existence.

Alternate versions are also of interest.  Different translations of the same work, the novelization of a movie, game, or TV show, scripts, so on, so forth.

Outdated reference books, too, oddly enough.

Physical copies of books the Twilight, Narnia, and/or Left Behind series.  As many as people are willing to send.  It's for what basically amounts to a craft project, they shall be taken apart, put back together in new and different ways, and . . . stuff.

Computer stuff

Short version: basically anything computer related, including computers themselves, I'd be happy to take off people's hands.

Actually, pretty much anything electronic at all.  If I can manage to do anything, which is by no means given, a project that I'm about to start is Frankensteining some older stuff into new and different things, probably starting with some old smartphones I got my hands on.

If I should ever become rich, I would love to have a kickass top of the line gaming desktop.  That will probably never happen.  (If I were to have thousands of dollars to spend, it'd go toward paying down my debt, not computing.)  Neither do I expect anyone to get me a gaming desktop.

My interests are not, however, limited to gaming.  There's a lot of stuff I'd like to do where older computers no one would ever even think about using for gaming that could just sit there and run for extended periods would be useful.  A lot of stuff.  If I had a whole fleet of computers, I could still probably have productive use for more.

I've said something similar to this before, and gotten a response.  Unfortunately I was in a semi-zombified

Like I said only two of them were finished. I'll try to have some fiction posted tomorrow.

I survived another year (It's my birthday)

I didn't mean to go dark for over three months.  Sorry about that.

The best way I have to describe how things are right now is that it's been like trying not to drown.  Every day is a struggle to keep my head above water, and if I inhale . . . well, that's about as good as it gets.  Keeping up with anything?  Keeping in touch with anyone?  That's beyond me.

I try to eat, I try to drink, I try to sleep.  Sometimes I even succeed.  Sleep is my favorite.  I rarely remember any dreams, so it's just the comforting embrace of darkness.  Nothing hurts; nothing is bad.  It's like I don't exist.

Then I wake up, and the world is just as bad as it ever was, but now I'm a bit older and have gone a bit longer without accomplishing anything.

Anyway, as of today I'm old enough to legally serve as President of the United States.


I have some stuff I'm going to bring over here to share.  Think it's all Equestria Girls stuff.

I did finally start trying to make let's plays, but my computer needs repair.  I guess the heat sink being improperly attached is a known issue.  One hopes that the resulting overheating hasn't damaged anything else.  Contacting tech support is, in theory, easy.  In practice . . . depression sucks.


I've been meaning to make a list of things that would be useful and/or nice.

Mostly because, "Here are things you might not be using that I could use," isn't asking for money, and I hate asking for money, even though I do need it.  (A lot of it, in fact.)  After the dog got hit by a car, my high interest debt increased by nearly $4,000 dollars and the amount I owe my mother broke $10,000.  That was in late March.  Things are worse now, but I don't have exact figures for how much so off the top of my head.

So, my birthday seems like as good a time as any to talk about stuff I want or need on the off chance someone might give me something.  I'm going to follow this up with a post to that effect.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Tentative Plans

Ok, it looks like I've talked about doing Let's Play's for over nine months at the very least.  I've never actually done any.

Let's start with the background on that.

My depression is really, really bad.  Anyone who's been reading along knows this.  For a bit over three years my depression has done two things: not get better and get worse.

Early 2017 to mid 2018: bad.
Mid 2018 to mid 2019: worse.
Mid 2019 onward: worst it's ever been.

[the above was written on or before April 5th, for whatever it's worth]

Long ago, my depression took something precious from me.  I can't really read books anymore.  I can try, but I don't engage, and before long I'm not able to continue.  I don't remember when it happened, but I remember the "Well . . . fuck" realization that bookstores had lost their appeal.

Once upon a time, being in a bookstore was a whole lot of "I want ALL THE BOOKS" with a large side of, "I could stay here forever!"  It transformed into "Meh" and "I'm bored."  I actually think that things have gotten less bad on that front, though I also think it's in large part because bookstores seem to have a lot more in the way of books with pictures than they used to.

It also could be tied up in the fact that, while I say "books" it actually seems to be somewhat more narrow.  I can't read book-form fiction.

It's also more broad, just in another way.  I can't really read original fiction.  Ditto for non-fiction in narrative form (unless it's short enough to be, say, an article in some internet publication.)

What does this have to do with Let's Plays?  Well, I'll tell you.

At this point my horizons have contracted even further, and there's only one type of original fiction that I can truly engage with.  I think it's because of the interactivity, but regardless of the reason, it's video games.  Video games are the only original stories I can engage with.

As such, I've been playing them fairly frequently, though I've kind of dropped off on that front over the past month or two.  Drop off aside, that means that Let's Plays are one of the few things I'm in a decent position to attempt making.

So I've been thinking about doing them for the better part of a year now. It's not just so that I can have content here and at Patreon, it's also then when I'm not creating anything I feel fairly useless, which very much does not help with depression.

So . . . that's a thing I've been thinking about doing.  As you might have noticed, I haven't actually done it.  The plan, back when I started this post on or before April 5th, was to announce something like . . . wait, I actually wrote this up on Patreon, I wonder . . .

I still don't have an exact date, but it looks like I can revise "on or before April 5th" to "between March 31st and April 2nd" inclusive.  That probably doesn't interest anyone, but it's what I was wondering in italic at the end of the previous paragraph.

Ok, so, wrote this up on Patreon.
Anyway, doing Let's Plays is still an idea that makes sense because Video Games are one of the few things that can make me feel like a fully functional human being, emotionally speaking, I have a ton of them, and (critically) primary computer is working again.

Basically the only things holding me back are:
  1. Depression makes it incredibly difficult to begin any project whatsoever.  Even things that aren't projects, like getting ready for bed or taking my medication in the morning, are incredibly difficult to start.
  2. Even though none of it is difficult, I do have to set up stuff.  It's not something I can just jump into with no prep.  (I need to be able to capture video and audio, after all.)
  3. My voice.  Everyone who hears my voice thinks I'm a dude, and for good reason.  I didn't transition until way after puberty.  My voice is testosteroned the fuck up.  That's not something that goes away.*  I am massively insecure about the sound of my own voice.
  4. My ideal set up for getting work done (regardless of what the work in question is) is when I'm alone in the house with no one else around.  Other people live here now, and with a pandemic going on they're in the house even more than they'd otherwise be.

I'm going to make it a goal to start recording Let's Plays in April.  Hopefully I succeed in this.  Hopefully they don't suck.  Hopefully you enjoy them.
Given that today and tomorrow are the only days left of April and I'm no closer to starting than I was when I wrote the above on March 31st, the goal of starting in April will probably not be met, but I'll still try for it.

Regardless, it's a goal and, therefore, one of the things tentatively planned.

It's entirely possible that one reading the above might note that I used the term "original" a few times.  There is a reason for that.

The one type of fiction I can consistently read is derivative work.  I can't read as much of it as I used to, but I can read fanfic.  Right now there are only two types of fanfic I can engage with: My Little Pony stuff, especially Equestria Girls stuff, and Raven/Terra Teen Titans stuff.

Raven/Terra is very rare.  It's gotten less rare of late, the number of stories on Archive of Our Own just about doubled in the past year and a half, but it's still lodged firmly in "very rare".  After all, the reason it could almost double in so short a time is that barely any existed to begin with.  (40% of the total Archive of Our Own stories were produced by three people who currently hang out in a Discord Server together.)

My Little Pony, including Equestria Girls in particular, is rather less rare.  FIMfiction, the primary English language MLP fanfic site, has 132,848 stories right now, 8,101 of which are Equestria Girls.  As far as I know, there isn't any Teen Titans equivalent to FIMfiction, so a direct comparison isn't really possible, but however you figure it, there's a reason that my reading has been skewed so far away from Raven/Terra Teen Titans fic.

So, with all of that said, let's talk about how this figures into tentative plans.

It's highly likely that anything I write will reflect the things I'm reading.  So there's some possibility of Raven/Terra Teen Titans fic, and it'll definitely be the case that any creative output vis-à-vis fiction will be dominated by MLP in general and Equestria Girls in particular.

Given that it's been about ten months since I posted anything fiction related that wasn't MLP stuff, you probably could have guessed the non-Raven/Terra side of that.

Something that I've been thinking about doing for a while is a decon of the Equestria Girls Holiday Special comic.  It's the bad (semi)canonical thing that most of my Equestria Girls stuff is based off of and unlike, say, Twilight, no one has really done an in depth look at it.

Something else that I might do, if I find the restraint not to quote and respond to every line, is reactions to some bad fanfics on FIMfiction.  That's not a plan so much as me thinking, "I've already done this on a private discord, so maybe I can do it in public."

There are two reasons why I might decide not to post reactions here.  One is that, as noted, I have a tendency to quote every damned line, which means that I end up copying the whole story into the result.  I'm pretty sure it's not kosher to copy entire stories, even if you're embedding it into a line-by-line commentary.  The other is that it's one thing to take apart professionally published fiction, but it feels a good deal more mean spirited to a public takedown of a fanfic.

Another thing that I've thought about, but am less than sure on, is re-watching Friendship is Magic and/or Equestria Grils and doing something decon-esque with that.  The reasons that I'm not really confident enough in this idea to call it a plan are myriad.

It's not the kind of fiction I'm really able to engage with in itself, so it might not work regardless.  I'd basically be counting on the combination of familiarity and analysis to change that, when there's no evidence it would work.  I have pretty much zero confidence I could do it well, and four seasons of MLP analysis have already been done better than I could ever hope to by Jen A. Blue.

The possibility of doing a close reading of MLP brings us to another thing I'd like to do, but I've wanted to do it for ages (literally years at this point) and haven't made any progress.  I want to return to Kim Possible and .hack//Sign.  In late 2013, I tried to return to .hack//Sign.  I made it one post.  In early 2018, I tried to restart my trek through Kim Possible.  I made it one post into that as well.

I'd like to do some things that involve physical construction.  Whether or not I acutally will remains to be seen.

Also, I take pictures nigh constantly, I might return to sharing them here.

That's everything I can think of for tentative plans at the moment.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Displacement et alia, Ch1: Well, we have to start somewhere; now, don't we?

[Main Page for this story]
[Originally posted at]

You read the long description[1] ⹁right? ᠎ No, don't answer; I can't actually hear you. ᠎ I noted this in the long description ⹁which you should have read. ᠎ I don't know if you read it, because I can't hear you.

Got it?[2] ᠎ Good. ᠎ So, here's what we're going to do ⹁and by "we" I mean "me", we are going to do this in "Choose Your Own Adventure" style.

IF NO: Go read the damned thing.
IF YES: Continue on this page.

Look[3] at all of the heavy-lifting[4] we just did. ᠎ I don't have to tell you the beginnings of my tale of woe.[5] ᠎ You know that I was dressed as Tsukasaˌ you know it was Anime Boston where I bought the thingˌ you know it was a level 99 staff with a silly[6] name. ᠎ You know I'm in Equestria.

Everybody still on board here?[7] ᠎ Good.[8] ᠎ So, ⹁once upon a time,[9] a human appeared in Equestria. ᠎ Her name was Celestabellebethabelle[10] temporarily Tsukasa (つかさ) ⹁which you should know by now, she was in a body not her own,[11] and she was three feet off the floor of Princess Luna's bedchambers.

Three feet does not ⹁in fact, give one time to spin into a decent position for a landing. ᠎ Thank God[12] for anti-concussion magic, because: damn. ᠎ I mean, I think it's actually more of a combination of three spells[13], but the point? ᠎ The point is: oy motherfucking vey![14]

Anyway, Luna said, "What manner of beast are you?" and in response I sort of groaned out:

"I've read this fanfic."[15] ᠎ Not the best response ever, but ⹁you have to remember, at this point I'd just been yoinked out of my home dimension, stuffed into a different body ⹁which happened to be fictional, and dumped into a ⹁different, fictional world. ᠎ Also, I'd fallen several feet and hit my head on the cold stone floor.

"I assure you," Luna said in her princessly way, "this is quite real. ᠎ I know ⹁more than most, the difference between the real and the imaginary," which ⹁you know, she would say. ᠎ When was the last time someone came out and said, 'Hi, this is totes a work of fiction,' or, 'I am singularly unqualified to tell the false from the real'?

The pain ⹁at this point, was passing. ᠎ I sat up and touched a hand to my head.

"I'm human," I said. ᠎ Also: still in costume.

The hand that touched my head ⹁that being the right one, almost knocked my hat off, but that was as nothing compared to the fact that ⹁while my hat was still on, my wig was not in evidence. ᠎ My hair ⹁however, was doing a really impressive 'Tsukasa wig' impression. ᠎ Like, really, really impressive.

Now, by this point you're probably[16] saying, 'So, you knew you were in a displaced story, right?'

To which I reply, 'Screw you; I just hit my head on the floor and only avoided traumatic brain injury via the intervention of magic.'

Anywho,[17] at this point I was still getting my bearings and wondering whether it was a dream or a hallucination.

Luna ⹁Princess of the Night and founder of the School for Gifted Pegasi, said, "Ah. ᠎ One of the creatures Twilight Sparkle has described."

"Has she indeed?" I asked as I got to my feet. ᠎ While still operating on the hypothesis that this was all in my head, I none the less started to place myself on a timeline. ᠎ Assuming this wasn't one of those stories with non-canonical human encounters[18], that meant Equestria Girls had come and gone.

Luna ⹁being Luna, responded with, "She has indeed."

We were about eye to eye. ᠎ That brought up a potential problem. ᠎ It would only be a problem if this were a darker and grittier ⹁some would say 'stabbier', version of the My Little Pony we all know and ⹁presumably,[19] love. ᠎ The problem (potential only ⹁remember) was simply this: I was standing at full height looking a god-level royal in the eye.

"Should I..." I started. ᠎ Clearly that had gone wonderfully, so much so ⹁in fact, that I decided to try doing the exact same thing again. ᠎ "Should I," I asked, "be bowing?" ᠎ That that worked proved ⹁semi-conclusively, that this was a 'Try, try again,' situation instead of a 'Definition of Insanity' situation.

"That will not be necessary," Luna said.

She's got a nice voice, that one.

"Do you have any idea how I got here?" I asked rather quickly, the pace practically tripping over itself as I moved from one word to the next. ᠎ "Because I have no idea how I got here."

"You appeared to teleport into my bedchambers and fall on the floor," Luna said with a completely straight face ⹁and a level tone to boot.

"I'm--" that was a stammer. ᠎ Not my most eloquent ever. ᠎ I looked around. ᠎ These were ⹁indeed, chambers with a bed in them. ᠎ "I'm in your bedchambers?"

"You are."

Yeah, ⹁so, stabby seemed like it might be on the table even if this weren't all that dark or grit filled.

"I-- I, um... I'm sorry?" I said.[20]

"For what?" Luna asked; "if I may ask."

That, by the way, is precisely the kind of structure for which the question comma was invented. ᠎ The first two words form a question, while "If I may ask" is not a question and would ⹁in fact, generally be punctuated with a comma. ᠎ All and sundry know[21] that one does not follow an 'if I may ask' with a question mark. ᠎ A dash? ᠎ Maybe. ᠎ An ellipsis? ᠎ Sure. ᠎ An ellipse? ᠎ It'd be weird ⹁and you'd need some artistic chops to draw a proper ellipse[22] in a size that fits cleanly into a line of standard text, but it still makes more sense than a question mark.

Now, to business.[23]

First, of course she may ask. ᠎ I somehow magically invaded her bedchambers; she's got all the right in the universe to ask me whatever she wants. ᠎ Second, for invading her her bedchambers ⹁obviously.

"For invading-- for somehow invading the privacy of--"

"It is clear to me that this is not your fault," Luna said. ᠎ After a pause she added, "Or you that you are an impressive actor."

"Oh," I said ⹁finally managing to get back to a casual ⹁instead of afraid of immolation, mindset, "I am not an impressive actor. ᠎ I can't act for sh--" ᠎ Stopping in the middle of a one syllable word is a skill that will serve you well should you ever find yourself magically transported into the bedchambers of a god-princess pony. ᠎ God-pony princess? ᠎ Whatever. ᠎ Have I said that before? ᠎ I think I have, but do not know.

Regardless, ⹁after the awkward pause, I said, "For something that probably shouldn't be uttered in the presence of royalty."

"Merdae,"[24] Luna said.

I gawked.

"αφόδευσι,"[25] Luna said. ᠎ "Merde. ᠎ Scheiße. ᠎ Shit."[26]

By now my mouth was hanging open. ᠎ Not really something I'm proud of, but: damn.[27]

"I have never understood the idea that my sister and I are somehow naive innocent creatures with virgin ears that have never been ⹁and will never be, tainted by the vulgar language of common ponies."

"O," I said slowly ⹁allowing my brain to reboot, before finishing with a quick, "k." ᠎ After a beat of pause I said, "Thing one: I'm not a pony."

"So I have noticed."

"Thing two, there's . . . like . . ." I swear she was amused by my inability to words properly, "decorum or some such."

"In court, yes." Luna said. ᠎ "During official functions, yes. ᠎ In the context of a royal meet and greet,[28] yes." ᠎ A pause. ᠎ "We are not in those places; we are in my bedchambers."

So, I can't actually see my own face. ᠎ Any time that I say something about the appearance of my face ⹁unless there are reflections involved, it's a 'best guess' kind of situation. ᠎ Pretty sure I blushed at that, though.

Here's a disturbing thought ⹁if ever there were one, what if a god-pony thought you found them physically attractive rather than realizing you were simply embarrassed?

"S-sorry about that," I said ⹁stammering back in full force.

Thankfully ⹁though, ⹁spoiler alertˌ I suppose, that thing from two paragraphs up did not ⹁in fact, happen. ᠎ Instead Luna said, "I believe that we have already established that you are not at fault." ᠎ At this, I relaxed somewhat. ᠎ "There is still the question of how you came to be here."

"Yeah," I said, "I'd like an answer to that one myself."

"What is your most recent memory, prior to your arrival?" Luna asked.

"Um . . ." I said in the universal language of 'I'm going to have to think about that.' ᠎ "I was at a convention . . ." ᠎ That sinking feeling[29] set in around nowish, but I wouldn't identify the source for a little bit. ᠎ "Do they have conventions in Equestria?"

"By 'convention' do you mean a gathering of individuals united by a common interest, at which there are speakers, merchants, and . . . I believe the term is, 'swag'?" Luna asked.

"Yeah, pretty much; also cosplayers," I said.

"Then, yes, Equestria has those," Luna said.

"I wasn't really sure what to do, because the panelist I'd hoped to see no longer did panels," I said.

"A tragic fate indeed," Luna said. ᠎ To fully understand ⹁though, you must realize that it was said with the utmost seriousness.

"I'd known that, of course," I said. ᠎ "I guess I mostly went because I'd been trying to get there for so long that it felt like ⹁even without her doing panels, I might as well give it a try now that I actually could go."

Luna nodded.

"I got a few complements on my costume." ᠎ I gestured to what I was wearing. ᠎ The sinking feeling intensified. ᠎ "A few people took pictures of me. ᠎ I wandered around and eventually . . ." ᠎ Down and down we go.

The silence I had lapsed into eventually drew its own response.

"Yes?" Luna said in that encouraging, 'Keep going,' kind of way.

"I went to the dealers room..." ᠎ It wasn't sinking anymore; it was falling. ᠎ The bottom had dropped out. ᠎ " see what was on sale." ᠎ My eyes dropped to the floor. ᠎ There it was: the instrument of my downfall.

I squatted down to pick up the staff. ᠎ I considered all manner of profanity. ᠎ But instead ⹁as I actually took hold of the staff, I said, "I know what happened," in the sort of defeated way you say, 'Everything good about my life has been utterly destroyed.'

The staff was shaped like a question mark or a shepherd's crook. ᠎ And there ⹁perfectly placed, was the red ball ⹁suspended without any visible support, in the gap that made the top a hook instead of a circle. ᠎ When I picked it up, the ball moved with the rest of the staff ⹁as if they were a single connected whole. ᠎ It was what I had wanted; the price was too high.

At this point I was sort of weak in the . . . everything. ᠎ Knees are the part everyone always talks about. ᠎ I used the staff as a third leg ⹁which is what staffs are for[30] when you think about it, and returned to a standing position. ᠎ There was some difficulty in that ⹁due to the aforementioned weakness, but I pulled it off.

Luna simply looked at me expectantly.

I sighed, looked at the floor, looked back up, and spoke, "There's a meta-fictional construct comprising a sub-genre of pseudo-crossover works in which someone dressed as a character from one work," I gestured to my costume, "is dumped into your universe," Luna raised an eyebrow, "or a version thereof."

The eyebrow stayed up.

I sighed. ᠎ Again. ᠎ Then I explained, "Where I come from, your world exists as a popular story ⹁in serial format," I was pretty sure that Equestria didn't have TV, thus: 'serial format story' instead of 'TV series', "as well as several . . ." I'd never really paid attention ⹁beyond the existence of Vinyl Scratch, to the examples where modern technology invaded the pseudo-medieval world of Friendship is Magic; in other words: I had no idea if movies existed in Equestria, "um . . ." yeah: no idea ⹁which meant no idea if I could just say they were movies, ". . . plays depicting Princess Twilight's adventures in the human world, and another play ⹁with significantly higher production values, about a temporarily successful invasion of Equestria and how it was eventually repelled."

"It seems that we are quite popular in your world," Princess Luna said. ᠎ Massive understatement.

"You have no idea," I said. ᠎ Cliché response.

"You seem quite calm for one interacting with what he believed to be a fictional character and world."

"She," I said.

"I apologize," Luna said.

"There's no need," I said; "assuming that the tropes and genre conventions held true, the process tried to make me male."

"That is most unconscionable," Luna said.

"I agree entirely, which is part of why I'm still hoping this is a dream or delusion," I said.

Luna said, "I assure you it is not," which is just what a delusion would say. ᠎ After a beat[31], she added, "Though, I suppose that is what you would expect a dream or delusion to say."

"Pretty much," I said, "but as much as I might hope for things to be otherwise, the feelings of dread and defeat currently warring for dominance inside me are indicative of the fact I think you're correct."

The truth was that I wasn't calm so much as nonplussed[32], and that had left me with a pretty flat affect[33] ⹁which could easily be misconstrued[34] as calm.

Luna nodded.

"I believe I now know enough to proceed," she said. ᠎ Exposition successfully dumped; now we can move on to the plot. ᠎ Woo. ᠎ "Please follow me."

She opened a door with magic, and led me out of the room.

As we walked, she talked.

"There are spells that will help make your present condition more bearable until such time as you can be returned to your own body," she said. ᠎ "For that ⹁and for returning you to your world, the best pony for the job is undoubtedly Princess Twilight Sparkle."

"The human world she visited--" I started.

"I not your own," Luna interrupted ⹁quite rudely. ᠎ "Princess Twilight was quite detailed in her descriptions of that world's history and culture. ᠎ If it embedded our world ⹁and itself, as works of fiction within it, I believe she would have noted that fact."

"Well, she did live in a library on her first visit," I said ⹁assuming ⹁without evidence, that the movie Equestria Girls was an accurate depiction of events in this multiverse.

"She does that," Luna said. ᠎ Luna is ⹁officially, my favorite princess. ᠎ She wasn't originally. ᠎ Before I got dumped into her bedchambers by a contrived and overused plot device, I thought of her mostly as, 'That princess the writers keep forgetting the existence of,'[35] but now. . . now I see her as she truly is: Princess of Non-Neurotic Deadpan Snarking.

Unfortunately, my story does not take place in Canterlot ⹁at least not primarily, so I don't actually spend much time around my now-favorite princess.

"So if you know . ? ." I asked. ᠎ Let it be known that one does not need to actually ask a question in order to ⹁you know, ask a question.

"Of the two foremost experts on portals between worlds," Luna explained, "she is one."

"And the other?"

"Her pen-pal."

Sunset Shimmer. ᠎ I really should have seen that coming.

I said, "Ah," and ⹁just like that, we arrived at our first destination.

Luna knocked upon a doorˌ it openedˌ and there was Princess Celestia.

"What fell creature is that?" Celestia asked with uncommon dread.

"Are you calling me fierceˌ cruelˌ terribleˌ sinisterˌ malevolentˌ particularly destructiveˌ or deadly?"[36] I asked with ⹁what I hope was, complete deadpan. ᠎ "I ask because I'm not entirely clear regarding that point."

"She's simply been waiting to say that again since the first time we saw Tirek," Luna said.

Celestia cocked her head to one side, shrugged her . . . I think they're still called shoulders in a pony. ᠎ Whatever, she shrugged those things, and gave a silly little smile like she was a foal caught with her hoof in the cookie jar.[o]

"Oh," I said. ᠎ "Ok." ᠎ And ⹁truly, it was. ᠎ Who doesn't want to cry out, 'What fell creature is that‽'[o+1]

"I am ⹁however," Celestia said, "genuinely curious as to your nature."

"Well, I was a human ⹁from a world where this world was just a work of fiction," I said, "and I'm still definitely in human form, but I think I might actually be some kind of digital construct ⹁which merely looks human, instead of an actual human right now."

An eyebrow was raised.

There was silence.

Finally I said, "If you're expecting me to properly interpret which of the things I just said you're raising an eyebrow at . . ." ᠎ Insert end of sentence here, should you have it on you. ᠎ (I did not.)

The eyebrow went back down, and Celestia said, "Perhaps you should simply tell me what has transpired."

Did she ever use words like "transpired" in the series? ᠎ I don't remember. ᠎ On the one hand, that is the sort of thing a wise mentor figure would say. ᠎ On the other hand, consider the intended audience and the patronizing assumptions people are wont to make about them.

So I told her.[o+2]

Luna ⹁for her part, was very interested in the prospect of a video game that:
a) Was more advanced than Pong-era console stuff,
b) Did not require magic in order to run, and
c) One could become trapped in.

Should points b) and c) seem contradictory to you, remember that there's a difference between what is sufficient for operating a program and what is included in that program.

Celestia was amused by my claim to be named Celestabellebethabelleˌ my staff was confirmed to be a genuine magically thingamabobˌ[o+3] the mechanism by which I arrived could not be determined ⹁because that would be too easy,[o+4] it was decided that I should probably adopt a pseudonym ⹁like "Tsukasa" or "Mary Sue" or "Oh God, not another one!", if I wanted to maintain my privacy in light of the fact that my biography[o+5] would probably be the easiest thing to transmit to my homeworld ⹁in light of narrative conventions.

Then it was off to Ponyville. ᠎ They did not ⹁in fact, stick the strange creature nopony had ever seen before on a train full of ponies. ᠎ No, the second ⹁and final, destination on Luna's 'I believe I now know enough to proceed' tour of Canterlot castle was to a launching and landing area. ᠎ The ride was via Pegasus chariot ⹁which gave me a wonderful view and did not ⹁in any way, make me afraid of falling to my gruesome death, and I was told that a letter had been sent to Princess Sparklepants[o+6] so that my arrival would not come as a surprise.

With that, this show was officially on the figurative road. ᠎ Because ⹁where we were going flying, one didn't need (literal) roads.

- - - ~ ~ ~ ⁕ ⁕ ⁕ ~ ~ ~ - - -

[1] For those who don't know what this is, a lesson. ᠎ Click the story name, this will take you to the story page. ᠎ When you get there, there are words. ᠎ The words under the tags and above the chapters are the long description.
(Onsite Link)

[2] If you responded to this, may God have mercy on your soul. ᠎ How many times have I already said I can't hear you?[n]

[3] I mean this figuratively, of course.

[4] Ditto.

[5] I mean, ⹁technically, I don't have to tell you anything. ᠎ It's just that I'm stuck in a displaced story; what else am I going to do?

[6] This is the part that you read literally.[n+1] ᠎ The name was "Ludicrous", and if you can't see the pun, I can't really help you.

[7] Don't answer.

[8] This is a rhetorical response; I still can't hear you.

[9] Between Rainbow Rocks and The Cutie Map ⹁seems to be. ᠎ You had better fucking know this; it was in the long description. As for when I left my world, funny story that. It was the last day of Anime Boston 2018. Yes, that does make zero chronological sense. Yes, I do know what day that was.

[10] Still a joke.

[11] Yes, that includes a dick. ᠎ No, we are not going to talk about it. ᠎ If you're really so damned interested in biology, look up what a "perineal raphe" is.

[12] I suppose ⹁technically, that Luna is more of a lowercase "g" god.

[13] The spells in question seem to be:
Stop ⹁inertia be ignored, before you damage yourself further!
Pain, pain, go away!
Grey matter, heal thyself (of the damage inflicted before the first spell took effect)!

[14] I am not now ⹁and have never been, a Yiddish speaker. ᠎ Someone[n+2] once said:
In a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise and humble language of us all, the idiom of frightened and hopeful humanity.
Let words like "Shmuck" and "Shlubbly" roll off your tongue and you'll find that it is a language that begs to be spoken. ᠎ Even some of the cool German words ⹁like "Dreck" and "Kaput", come to English via Yiddish.

I totally had to restrain myself from using "Schlong" in footnote [11], because ⹁while it's a great thing to say, it would have obliterated the serious nature of said footnote via it's informal nature.

[15] Technically what I read was a fanfic pitch. ᠎ Don't me wrong, it was 93.6 percent fanfic ⹁with just twenty words of explanation at the front, but it was by no means a complete work. ᠎ Just an idea as demonstrated via its first scene.

To wit:
The Element of Magic didn't know what to do with Sunset Shimmer so it fell back on an old standby . . .

Sunset Shimmer remembered pain. ᠎ She placed a crown upon her head and it twisted and broke her. ᠎ Then she had lost herself, became a cackling caricature, crossed lines she swore she'd never cross, and finally: more pain. ᠎ The corruption burned away in a rainbow fire that hurt but refused to consume. ᠎ She'd thought the pain would last forever.

Now, though, it was gone. ᠎ Just a memory.

When she blinked the tears from her eyes she saw magnificent desolation. ᠎ A grey on grey landscape so pocked and pitted that it might have been a minefield. ᠎ The sky was black, but that made no sense. ᠎ It wasn't dark; she cast a shadow.

She felt exceptionally light as she picked herself up, it only added to the surreal quality of . . . everything.

Moments after she was on her feet, she heard the sound of galloping. ᠎ It approached impossibly quickly, but when she turned to face it, that thought was banished by something far more dire. ᠎ The source of light --the thing that made her cast a shadow on the grey wasteland-- wasn't the Sun, or Moon, or even the stars.
᠎ It was Equestria. Sunset's home hung in the sky, it was magnificent in the light of the unseen Sun. ᠎ The daylight it reflected shone down upon her . . . and the thing she stood upon.

Any lingering doubt about her location was demolished when Nightmare Moon --a creature from foals' tales-- finally finished her gallop toward Sunset. ᠎ At another time Sunset might have been incredulous or afraid or --more likely-- a bit of both. ᠎ With Equestria hanging in the sky above them, though, Sunset couldn't find it in herself to care.

"What manner of beast are you?" Nightmare Moon asked Sunset.
[16] Still can't hear youˌ and thus I am forced to guess.[n+3]

[17] That's a legit word. ᠎ First known use 1850. ᠎ That's pre-Civil War. ᠎ It's been a word since before the people of the United States ⹁north and south, grudgingly acknowledged ⹁at the cost of the lives of 650ˌ000 to 850ˌ000 men[n+4] and God knows how many non-men, that slavery might ⹁perhaps, be wrong.

All of that being saidˌ that was the "Anyhoo" spelling. ᠎ Can't tell you about the "Anywho" spelling's vintage off the top of my head.

[18] Not the safest assumption ⹁all things considered, but one has to make assumptions if they're to reach conclusions.

Whitehead and Russell started with five assumptions. ᠎ Result? ᠎ It took over three hundred pages[n+5] to get to the point where they could conclude "1 + 1 = 2".

Peano started with nine assumptions. ᠎ Result? ᠎ Takes about three lines to conclude "1 + 1 = 2". ᠎ Which would you prefer? ᠎ And ⹁no, I can't hear your answer. ᠎ More assumptions leads to quicker results. ᠎ And if your assumptions are flawedˌ ⹁sooner or later, you'll hit a contradictionˌ and boom: you've learned something.

[19] I do not ⹁actually, presume this. ᠎ You could be hate-reading. ᠎ You could be a hyper-intelligent shade of the color blue who is interested in this document purely for its anthropological value. ᠎ You could be being forced to read this at gunpoint as part of a psychological torture regime. ᠎ The possibilities abound.

[20] Strictly speaking ⹁and it is often good to speak with strictness, "I'm sorry" is not supposed to be a question. ᠎ There is a form to questions that those two words ⹁one of them a contraction it should be noted, simply lack. ᠎ That having been said, the English language often marks questions not by words or grammar but instead by rising pitch as one approaches the syntactic terminus. ᠎ This allows for a degree of flexibility ⹁which can be put to use by ones such as myself upon discovering oneself to have invaded the bedchambers of a god-princess.

[21] All and sundry know nothing; no knowledge is universal.

[22] A proper ellipse ⹁by the way, is precisely twice as wide as it is tall. ᠎ For those who don't understand words such as "wide" and "tall", the major axis has a scalar magnitude double that of the minor axisˌ and ⹁furthermore, the minor axis is vertical. ᠎ This is the canonical proper ellipseˌ and the fact that I can produce no evidence supporting this claim should not ⹁in any way, be taken to mean it is incorrect or ⹁Heaven forfend, unfounded.

[23] This is not a toast. ᠎ Do not raise you glasses. ᠎ Do not clink.

[24] This is the Latin word for "shit". ᠎ It is in the singular ⹁just one shitˌ not multiple shits, dative. ᠎ The dative is most commonly rendered into English as "to" or "for". ᠎ She literally said, "for shit." ᠎ In Latin.

[25] See previous, but in Ancient Greek.

[26] Frenchˌ Germanˌ and English for "shit" in that order.

[27] I know that I've done the whole "⦑conjunction⦒ ⦑colon⦒ ⦑italic 'damn'⦒" thing already ⹁thank you very much. ᠎ That's the point. ᠎ Princess Potty Mouth's polylingual profanity hit me with the force of a cold stone floor to the head.

[28] I am aware that ponies speak English. Not just because I have seen the show, but also because I was speaking English to a pony who was speaking English back to me. Even so, 'Meet and greet'? Of all of the words and phrases that could be translocated from our world to Equestria, why that one?

[29] The one that has ⹁heretofore, gone unmentioned. ᠎ Still, look at the first word of the title. Consider the story you're reading; consider the significance of conventions in the genre. ᠎ (Not to be confused with genre conventions.) ᠎ You know what sinking feeling I'm talking about. ᠎ You'd have felt it yourself in my place.

[30] That and bopping people ⹁of course. If we want to get technical and exhaustive, the function of a staff is ⹁in fact, threefold: providing a third point of contact with the ground or floor ⹁as though it were an extra leg, bopping people, guiding ruminants ⹁such as goats or sheep.

[31] Since this is the second time I've used the word "beat" in this fashion, I suppose I should define it. ᠎ A beat is a pause that's longer than the full stop at the end of a sentenceˌ but shorter than what you think of when you read the word "pause" or ⹁indeed, the phrase "a short pause".

[32] Definition:
1. (of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.
[33] Medical jargon definition of "flat" ⹁second meaning:
characterized by general impoverishment in the presence of emotion-evoking stimuli
Medical jargon definition of "affect" ⹁also the second meaning:
a set of observable manifestations of a subjectively experienced emotion
Thus: medical jargon meaning of "flat affect":
characterized by a lack of emotional expressiveness; emotions are experienced but not displayed
Basically, think Maud Pie.

[34] Look this one up your own damned self. ᠎ It's a perfectly ordinary word ⹁neither medical jargon like [33] nor commonly misused like [32], so ⹁honestly, you shouldn't need to look it up. ᠎ If you do, that's your own damn fault.[n+6]

[35] The reason that they say not to end your sentences with propositions is because at one point a bunch of stodgy old men ⹁possibly joined by stodgy old women, wanted English to be like Latin. ᠎ It is legit impossible to end a non-incomplete Latin sentence with a preposition, so they said you weren't allowed to do it in English ⹁where it works just fine.

This is also the reason they tell you not to flagrantly split infinitives. ᠎ Can't do that in Latin. ᠎ Why? ᠎ Because in Latin most infinitives are a single word. ᠎ Can you insert another word into a single word? ᠎ Absa-fucking-lutely.[n+7] ᠎ It's called "tmesis" ⹁which comes from the Ancient Greek "τμῆσις" ⹁which in turn means "a cutting". ᠎ Still, not something you do all the time.

The point here ⹁though, is that even though I could have written, "That princess, the existence of whom the writers keep forgetting," I don't need to. ᠎ End your sentences with prepositions, begin your paragraphs ⹁or even books,[n+8] with conjunctions, fracture the frightful fetters of linguistic prescriptivism! ᠎ Damn the manˌ and down with the grammatical oligarchy!

[36] These are the definitions of "fell". ᠎ If that was not known to you, you probably have no idea what "one fell swoop" means. ᠎ Shakespeare must confuse you greatly. ᠎ I suggest a dictionary and a running gloss. ᠎ (I'm not sure just one of those things would be enough for you; use both.)

[o] I assume; I've never actually seen a foal caught with their hoof in the cookie jar. ᠎ "Which cookie jar?" you may ask ⹁in spite of the fact that I can't hear you. ᠎ The cookie jar.

[o+1] I am fully cognizant of the fact that there are probably a great many people who don't particularly want to. ᠎ I am also aware that I switched punctuation. ᠎ I assure you, it has not escaped my notice. ᠎ Dread is a hard thing to get right. ᠎ Celestia nailed it ⹁don't get me wrong, but for the general public I believe that crying out ⹁to the point an interobang is justified (because a question mark just won't cut it), is probably a better route.

[o+2] If you're expecting me to tell you personal details about my life before my arrival, you are vastly mistaken about the kinds of things I'm willing to divulge. ᠎ Want to know more about me? ᠎ Build a portal to here, so that I might go back there, and ⹁as reward for giving me a way home, I'll have a nice long talk with you ⹁in which we can trade notes about our political leanings and favorite Douglas Adams books.

[o+3] Technical term.

[o+4] Not even being sarcastic. ᠎ It would ⹁quite literally, be too easy. ᠎ Certain things are required for a story to actually function as a story, and if we'd figured everything out then and there, this wouldn't. ᠎ If this didn't function as a story, then I would not be writing it as a story, and you would not be reading it right now. ᠎ The very fact that you are here reading these words in this footnote means that that could not have happened.

The name for this is the "anthropic principle" which states that ⹁since in order for a story to be read it must first be written, any story that is read must necessarily have a arisen from a set of conditions that allowed for the writing of said story. ᠎ Therefore, the fact that you are reading this means that things were not so easy as to prevent a plot from forming ⹁which means that anything that would make the situation that easy is necessarily too easy.

See? ᠎ Like I said: not even being sarcastic.

[o+5] The thing you're reading right now.

[o+6] Any objections that she doesn't wear pants will be ignored because ⹁as repeatedly noted, I can't hear you.

[n] Two sentences in the long descriptionˌ two sentences in the main text of this chapterˌ one sentence from which it can be inferred in the long descriptionˌ and one sentence from which it can be inferred in the footnotes. ᠎ As such, depending on whether you include the long descriptionˌ footnotesˌ and inference, this question has multiple answers.[m]

[n+1] And figuratively ⹁for that matter. ᠎ Read it every damned which way you can.

[n+2] Isaac Bashevis Singer ⹁winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize for Literature, in his Nobel Lecture. ᠎ I cite my sources. ᠎ Saying that in-line would have broken up the flow of things ⹁though.

[n+3] No, I am not. ᠎ Not even close. ᠎ I am in no way forced. ᠎ I say now ⹁to you, "That was just a rhetorical flourish." ᠎ Don't believe me? ᠎ Read the thing in quotation marks; I totally said that.

[n+4] Hacker, J. David -- 2012

[n+5] The words:
From this proposition it will follow, when arithmetical addition has been defined, that 1 + 1 = 2.
appear on page 379 of the first edition of Volume 1 and 362 of the second edition of the same. ᠎ The actual proof has to wait till Volume 2. ᠎ In the first edition of Volume 2, it falls on page 86. ᠎ I have not read any other editions of Volume 2.

[n+6] Yes, I use "damn" ⹁and variations thereof, a lot. ᠎ Deal with it.

[n+7] For those wondering why it's "Absa" instead of "Abso", it's because within the word itself everyone knows the "o" is a schwa, but if you just have the "Abso" one is liable to pronounce that "o" like the one "so", and that's not a schwa. ᠎ Not even close.

[n+8] It worked for Apuleius ⹁didn't it?

[m] Those being twoˌ threeˌ fourˌ and six. ᠎ Five need not apply.

Author's Note:

You want me to make notes?* Ok, let's talk notes. I have things I've wanted to note. Apostrophes get lots of love. Commas ⹁though? They get no love. This is clearly wrong, and I shall topple any government that says otherwise.°
Also, hey, see this ""? That's a question mark. Cooler than the one we have, now isn't it?

Is that not what you wanted?[·]

Well how about this:
.hack//SIGN was an anime that ran from April 4, 2002 to September 25, 2002 and had 28 episodes in total. It explored themes of depression, the isolation and detachment that can come with it, as well as anxiety, abuse, and dysfunction. It's character driven story also addresses escapism and the limits thereof, along with other coping mechanisms.

In the simplest terms and most convenient definitions, it was the story of Tsukasa and his time trapped in a Japanese online game known as "The World" (in English.)
That better? {+} Or did you want some sort of manifesto about why I'm writing about my life stuck in a world with talking ponies with, in a body not my own, where the only humans around[] come in more ⹁and more outlandish, colors than the complete output of the Skittles brand?

Really not sure what to write in an "author's" note that I wouldn't already have put in the footnotes. So I guess this is where we part ways. Tune in next time for "How I got to Ponyville, and what I set on fire once I got there".{}


* After all of those footnotes I generously gave you, you want more?

You can get them forward, backward, upside down, upside down and backwards, and completely vertical with no fore or aft bias. In other words, Apostrophes get a system. With ⦑ ‛ ' ’ ⦒ you effectively have ⦑ ( | ) ⦒, and with that you can do all kinds of things.

Why is there no vertical comma? Where is the comma version of the "typewriter apostrophe"? Why is the reverse comma left out of so many fonts? What the fuckadoodle() people?

Why should I be stuck in Equestria with an incomplete system of typography that lacks even the most basic considerations?

° In the interest of complete honesty: No. No, I will not.

[·] You had better not be answering. I can't hear you.

The original run contained 26, one of which was just a clip show. Two additional episodes were released on DVD.

{+} Please tell me you didn't answer. Or don't. Not like I'll hear you either way.

[] If the next world over can truly be called "around".

{} We're not calling it that. Not even close.

() Totally a legit swear. (That I just made up.)

⁂  ⁂

So, with this, we have chapter one.  There wasn't a plan here.  None whatsoever.  Probably why I started off sending people to the long description.  No idea why I chose to dump the protagonist in Luna's bed chambers.

The numbering of the footnotes was originally supposed to be placeholders that would all be replaced with actual numbers once I knew what those numbers would be.  So we had {[1] [2], [3],...} as the footnotes for the text, {[n], [n+1], [n+2],...} as the footnotes for the footnotes, and then {[M]} as the one footnote for one of those.

I skipped ahead and wrote a little bit of meeting Celestia before the story reached that point, so I didn't know what number the footnotes in that section would have, so I started the {[o], [o+1], [o+2],...} since, you know, "o" comes before "n".

When I let someone read it pre-publication, they liked the placeholder footnotes, so I left them as is.

The human vs. Pony scale here completely ignores all attempts to figure out the size of the ponies.  This is not, it should be noted, intentional.

Tsukasa is somewhat short, attempts to figure out the relative sizes of humans and ponies tend to have the Equestria Girls characters about eye to eye with Celestia, Luna is shorter than Celestia . . . it made sense at that time.

Then I looked at some imaged for reference and realized exactly how much shorter than Celestia Luna actually is.  This would make protagonist a full head shorter than an Equestria Girls girl.  Of course, since traveling between worlds results in a body swap, that's never going to come up anyway.

It's probably for the best, honestly.  The ponies really are little.  Placing protagonist as eye to eye with Luna makes her about as tall as the average pony is when they stand (vertically) on two legs, and has the ponies about waist high when they're standing normally.

I think that works better than the actual apparent scale, which would have the ponies closer to knee height normally, and chest height when they make the effort to be vertical.

That princess the writers keep forgetting the existence of
Let me show you something from the finale.  Not a finale.  The finale.  The the last regular episode --the two part special that ends nine seasons of Friendship is Magic-- with only a distant epilogue to follow.

This is the thing that I wish to show to you:
Rarity: It's the first shift in royal power in over a millennium.
That's from the first half of the two part finale, which means that it's mirror image is the second half of the two part premiere.  In that, Luna (after being banished for a thousand years) returned, was redeemed, and took her place at Celestia's side.  The monarchy became a diarchy.  Royal power was completely altered.  (Princess Cadence, while she retroactively existed, had no real power at that point.)

It's not precisely clear how much time passed between the first episode and the last, but one thing that is clear is that it's nine years or less.  It is possible that in universe time passes at an average of one year per season, it is possible that in universe time passes more slowly, it is not possible that it passes more quickly.

It has been less than a decade, possibly significantly less, since Princess Luna became one of the royals in charge of Equestria again.  As far as the writers are concerned (it's not just Rarity, because no one even considers correcting her; it's the whole damned universe) royal power hasn't shifted in over a thousand years, which happens to be over a hundred decades.

This is, in many ways, the most important episode of the show.  A bad ending can sour everything that came before.  It's the one episode that we know, beyond doubt, got checked and rechecked by people at all levels of production to make sure absolutely nothing was off.  While many episodes may represent the idiosyncrasies of a single writer, this was essentially signed off on by the franchise as a whole.

The kicker?  Luna had a speaking part in the previous scene.  It really puts the whole thing in perspective.  While she does occasionally get to do something in this episode or that, her contributions are considered non-existent by the writing staff themselves and she exists primarily as someone for Celestia to speak to (about Twilight Sparkle.)

There's a degree of fun in writing from a condescending point of view.  I would never tell people that they aren't prepared for Shakespeare if they don't know the definitions of "fell".  I don't know the definitions of "fell".  I had to look them up.  But hopefully snarky displaced first person narrator knows them off the top of her head and she'll look down on you if you don't.

Likewise, it took a lot of damned time to figure out how many assumptions were used in the Principia Mathematica by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell (not to be confused with Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Issac Newton.)  Hopefully snarky first person narrator knows that, along with the page numbers of various significant passages (across multiple editions) from memory.

I suppose I might as well discuss the Principia now, since I've mentioned it.

In some class, I don't know which, Dr. John Brunette was talking about axioms and assumptions and proofs.  It was probably a class where we used an axiomatic approach to the construction of the real numbers.  I don't know if he mentioned Russell by name, my memory isn't that specific.

What I do remember is that he told us about someone who decided to do things with fewer givens than most people use and decided to prove the rest.  He mentioned how the person took hundreds of pages to prove that one plus one equals two, something most people would accept as a definition.

Later in life, I mentioned something about this and someone I was talking to threw a divide by cheese error because ⟨very short proof⟩.  They did it using a system I had never seen before, and didn't fully understand.  The reason that I'd never seen it, for whatever it may be worth, is that I tend to work with the real numbers, and the Peano axioms are for the natural numbers only.

Now, to be clear, part of the reason that Russel took so long to prove "1 + 1 = 2" is because he wasn't trying to prove it.

He didn't like set theory.  Russel's paradox is something he thought up that demolishes naive set theory.  (Consider the set of all sets that are not members of themselves.  Logic go boom.)  Set theory didn't work.  Russell wanted a version of mathematics built up from solid first principles of logic, not a system that didn't even work properly.

So he set out to create that.  (And he had help, see:Alfred North Whitehead.)

Together they painstakingly built up a foundation of mathematics based in rigorous logic.  Every little thing was proven, no matter how small it might be, while they built toward the point where they could say, "See?  This works."

When Russel announced the paradox with his name, Ernst Zermelo had already discovered the same paradox, but had not published it, two years prior.  Zermelo took a different approach.  He set out to created an axiomatic set theory that lacked such paradoxes.  It wasn't perfect, and was augmented by Abraham Fraenkel.  Zermelo-Frankel set theory, with (ZFC) or without (ZF) the axiom of choice, is the foundation upon which almost all modern mathematical theories are based.

Luna being an avid gamer is a pretty common fandom thing.

"Yes, I do know what day that was." -- April 1st.  Not part of any plan, just happened to be the last day of Anime Boston 2018.

"perineal raphe" -- Look it up if you're interested.  It's a feature of how the human body deals with creating sexual dimorphism.

[15] This was a silly idea I pitched once upon a time.  The whole thing is in the footnote.  The Elements of Harmony do various things.  The first one we learn about is that they banished Luna/Nightmare Moon to the moon for a thousand years.  So at some point them sending Sunset Shimmer to the same place (and time) popped into my head.

"hyper-intelligent shade of the color blue" -- Line from Douglas Adams.

"This is not a toast. ᠎ Do not raise you glasses. ᠎ Do not clink."-- Reference to a line from Douglas Adams.  (Not sure how widespread the terminology of "clinking" is.  It's when you touch glasses together during a toast.)

"If you're expecting me to tell you personal details about my life before my arrival, you are vastly mistaken about the kinds of things I'm willing to divulge."  -- While I could claim that this a deconstruction of the underdeveloped nature of main characters in displaced fics, it's actually a pretty straightforward bit of characterization.

Here's a conversation from the comments at Fimfiction going into a bit more detail:
You could shown that as bits and pieces in each chapter showing their past before displacement.
The main character said, in no uncertain terms, that she wouldn't be revealing her past pre-displacement (because she wasn't comfortable with doing so, though that bit was more implied than outright stated.)
Also, the main character not wanting to talk about it? That's more of an in character thing that she'd rather not tell others inside of the story, but not outside, as in the readers.
If you paid more attention, you might note that main character treats the fourth wall like a one way mirror. She may not be able to see what's going on on our side, but she's well aware that her memoirs will be read.
She's sending this out into the multiverse, she already said she's weirded out by the idea of people who know her reading it, and there's only so much she's willing to share with strangers.

If I seem snippy in that exchange, it's because (owing in part to stuff I didn't quote) it's pretty clear the person didn't actually read anything I wrote in the story (or description) itself.

"anthropic principle" -- Some people look at the laws of the universe, note how if they were just a smidge different we couldn't exist, and then wonder about how perfectly calibrated they seem to be.  Other people point out:
Well, yeah.

The universes that can't support intelligent life don't have any intelligent life in them to look at their physical laws and say, "Dang, these laws seem pretty craptastic when it comes to conditions for intelligent life."

Of course the results are always going to say "This is a universe in which these results could be gathered"; that's a necessary prerequisite for getting the results in the first place.
This is known as the "anthropic principle" of cosmology.

This should not be confused with the "strong anthropic principle" which states that universes are compelled to create sapient life, and therefore must be conducive to life by their very nature.

The oldest Roman novel that survives in its entirety, which is therefore the oldest novel of any kind that survives in its entirety,* is The Metamorphoses of Apuleius which is more commonly known as "The Golden Ass" (Asinus aureus).  It begins with the word "at" which means "but".

If memory serves, it ends with a conjunction as well.

* Given how widespread they are now, it's kind of hard to believe that novels were once a strictly regional thing.  That being said, it happens to be true.

Displacement, semicolons, reverse commas, idioms used in lieu of flavoring particles, and excessive footnotes

[Originally posted at]
[Know how I usually say that things will make sense without prior knowledge of the source material?  Doubt that applies here.  Notes at the end.]

Once upon a time my name was Celestabellebethabelle[1] and I lived on earth[2]. I was ⹁you see, once a human like you,[3] but (as you might imagine) I went to a convention. "Which convention?" I hear you ask.[4] Anime Boston. Knowing me,[5] you'd have thought it was Arisia, but it was Anime Boston. Things never work out quite the way you'd expect.[6]

So, try as I might ⹁with magnetsˌ superconductorsˌ liquid nitrogenˌ and so forth, I could not get the floating ball in my Tsukasa[7] staff to actually ⹁you know, float. Now, I could have just used a wire or ⹁I shudder to think, a metal rod, but that's entirely missing the point.

So I had the rest of my outfit, right? I mean, you know this story even if you've tried not hear it;[8] you know all about how my outfit was awesome. Those green stones inset in the hat? Malachite.[9] Nailed it. Where applicable[10] I used the actual skin of actual animals because suede is awesome my outfit had to perfect, ya know?

Get to the convention ⹁I'm all alone, and Jen A. Blue doesn't do panels anymore so the thing that originally made me decide I had to come to Anime Boston[11] isn't even there anymore. I have no idea what to do. Been trying for years to get here, finally arrive after the thing I was coming for is gone.

So I wonder and I wander and I find a disreputable looking person selling just the sort of thing I want to illicitly buy. By which ⹁of course, I mean that wave master staff with the red ball actually suspended in mid-air. I've waited my whole life for this moment,[12] and it's only going to cost me three human soulsˌ twenty three minutes of my brain being used as a computer processorˌ and . . . I know that humor says I should add a third ludicrous thing, but I'm out of ideas. The staff is ⹁however, named "Ludicrous".[13]

The price (the real one) was decent, I really wanted it, money changed hands, and then . . . you know, right? Call me, "Megan Willams,"[14] because I'm a human in Equestria. I think ⹁but am not sure, I'm in the gap between Rainbow Rocks and The Cutie Map. Go figure.

As mentioned, I know about displaced stories. You really can't not. I haven't read them, but I'm pretty sure I don't like them. Now I'm living one.

So . . . that's what's up with me. Woo.

- - - ~ ~ ~ ⁕ ⁕ ⁕ ~ ~ ~ - - -

[1] Ok: No, it wasn't. Humor is basically the only thing that keeps me sane at this point, though. Let me have this.

[2] The one where humans don't have poly-chromatic skin and hair colors.

[3] Several points to make here. In no particular order:
By this I mean I was once ⦑a human like you⦒ not, "Like you, I was once a human."
This assumes that you are a human; if you are not, then I was once a human unlike you.
Furthermore, what was like you ⹁assuming you are human, about me was our shared humanity. We probably did have other things in common, but I do not know what they are. It should in no way be inferred that I was any more like you than any other human.

[4] Full disclosure: No, I don't. Not even a little. If you are attempting to communicate with me in an auditory kind of way, try harder.

[5] Which you don't. Unless you do. If you do, I'm actually kind of weirded out by the fact you're reading this. Unless reading this will assist you in building a portal from where I was to where I am ⹁thus allowing me to return, please stop in the name of privacy and/or not weirding people out.

[6] Except when they do.

[7] Main character from .hack//Sign. He was getting trapped in an MMO back before it was cool. If it is cool now. Even if it isn't cool now, I suppose it counts as being before it was cool provided that it wasn't being cool before or during his tenure trapped within The World.[15] Is it true that he did it before it was cool? No idea. Cool and I have never been on speaking terms.

[8] This ⹁I know, from experience.

[9] I don't always use rocks as wardrobe accessories, but ⹁when I do, I prefer Cu2(CO3)(OH)2. Stay thirsty my friends.

[10] So . . . not that much, really.

[11] Get my My Little Pony and Fullmetal Alchemist analysis from the same person? Sign me up. But you can't ⹁at least not without a time machine, because: see above. Took too fucking long to get my act together. Another in a long series of regrets.

[12] This isn't even hyperbole; it's just an outright lie.

[13] I'm not even making it up. It's not named that in the series ⹁and I'm a "Series only" kind of girl, but when looking something or other up I learned that it's a level 99 silver staff named "Ludicrous". So, there is that.

[14] She was the human main character of an animated TV series called "My Little Pony". You may have heard of it. She beat such luminaries as Tirek, Grogar, and the Smooze. Let it be known. She beat Tirek in her first appearance, because only suckers wait till the last episode of of season 4.[16] The book "Who Was Megan" is in the Fall of Sunset Shimmer in the dark magic section of Canterlot library, and ⹁in the same story, when Sunset first emerges into the human world, a flyer on the ground says that submissions to the CHS yearbook are to be brought to her or her siblings.[17] Look it up.

[15] You have to remember that this was a Japanese thing, so having it be called "The World" in English is like if we had an online game called "世界" or "せかい" or "sekai". It sounds a little bit less uninspired that way, doesn't it?

[16] I've never seen the G1 series and movies, so take that as you will. Tradition calls for taking salt with it. Also, Twilight Sparkle is not ⹁to my knowledge, a sucker.

[17] Nepotism much?


⁂  ⁂

[top] This is the end, I promised notes.

"Displaced" stories are stories where someone goes to a convention, finds a shifty vendor selling the one thing they need to complete their costume, buys it, and then gets dumped in Equestria as the character they were cosplaying as.  It's like a crossover, but without any of the established character traits, character history, or other such things that might interfere with it from being pure author/reader insert power fantasy.

It's difficult to get an accurate count, but there are very definitely over a thousand such stories.

I don't remember why I decided to try writing one.  I do know that I only made it as far as the long description (what's reproduced on this page) and then left it sitting there as an unpublished story with no actual content (long description doesn't count toward the word count, so by the standard metric it was literally a story with zero words.)

On Tuesday I added an "unpublished view password" which, as the name suggests, lets people view it even though it's unpublished.  The response I got from the person who took a look was pretty positive, so I decided to write an actual first chapter and then inflict the thing upon the world.

~ ~ ~

Celestabellebethabelle is the unicorn from Gravity Falls.  The (definite article) unicorn.  There are other unicorns as well, but Celestabellebethabelle is not those unicorns (collectively or individually.)

Tsukasa is, as noted, the main character from .hack//SignHe and it are described in some detail here.

Jen A. Blue is froborr.

~ ~ ~

The Oxford Comma Wars are entirely because we don't use reverse commas.  I'm probably, for what it's worth, not using them very well here.  (I don't have any more practice using them than the average person, after all.)

Replace commas with parentheses and you'll see the problem.  This isn't an article on commas; I'll stick to just one example.  It'll be an MLP flavored one.  (OC = Original Character; Red and Black Alicorn = edgy power fantasy; king = male monarch.)

First, with no commas:
[...] my OC a red and black alicorn and a king.
We can punctuate this two ways:
[...] my OC) a red and black alicorn) and a king.
[...] my OC) a red and black alicorn and a king.
It can mean three things:
[...] my OC (a red and black alicorn and a king).
[...] my OC (a red and black alicorn) and a king.
[...] my OC) a red and black alicorn) and a king.
The confusion is entirely tied up in the fact that we don't know if the first comma is the opening of an aside or not.  If it is, then whether or not there's a comma before the "and" changes the meaning drastically.  It it isn't, then the Oxford comma may be omitted without loss of meaning (but minor Oxford Comma Skirmishes may still be fought over the aesthetics of such an omission.)

Ideally we'd probably want three commas, opening, closing, and separating items in a list.  So, more or less, the comma versions of these things: (∣).  It's the lack of an opening comma, though, that causes confusion.  An opening comma would, presumably, just be a regular comma in reverse.

Monday, March 23, 2020

The dog was hit by a car, I need help to pay for her medical bills

Really short version:
The estimated total is $7,454.11 to $9,702.30.

The most immediate way to help is by donating money to me on Paypal.  A debit card is linked to my Paypal account, so I can use money in the account instantly.  I already paid $400 the bill that way (and maxed out three credit cards to pay another $4,085.)

One can also donate via a GoFundMe that my sister's . . . ok, I don't think "it's been complicated" is a good description for a relationship.  It suggests that things are no longer complicated and therefore doesn't describe the current relationship in the least except to say "It's not complicated, but I'm not fucking telling you what it actually is!" and this is the fifth?  sixth?  Hell, it could be seventh, time I've been forced to write "'it's been complicated' relationship partner" and I haven't slept decently since Thursday night, which wasn't even that decent, and fuck!  set up.  My sister's that set it up.

The information given fails to convey the relationship the dog has with any human being, living or dead, but the money is eventually going to go towards the dog's bills, so there is that.  This is not on Terin (my sister's that) because, while Terin did the work of setting it up, the information comes directly from my sister in her own words.  (Terin is awesome.  They deserve praise.)

If you can't donate, and I generally assume that no one can, you can spread those links around.  It is my assumption (possibly correct, possibly not) that people who don't know me will trust the GoFundMe more than my page, and therefore signal boosting it will get better results even though, if someone is going to donate, it's better for them to use the one if they can.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Economics Lesson -or- Why the shelves are empty (Non-fiction)

[This isn't even a rough draft, not really, it's something that I typed out in a Discord chat, but it is a something that you might find useful when trying to understand the world in which we live and the state in which it is in.]
[I've edited it a bit, I suppose it probably qualifies as a rough draft at this point.]

Ok, economics lesson time, mostly because I've been seeing people who are Wrong on the Internet™.  Also on mainstream (and fringe) news media, but I'm mostly concerned with the internet. Obligatory xkcd link:

In an ideal system (the thing that is to capitalism as a frictionless vacuum is to high school physics problems), there would be no warehouses, there would be no back in which employees could check for products when the shelf was empty and, honestly, there would be no shelves.  Products would be sold the instant they were created and nothing would ever sit around ever.

In the real world, it doesn't work that way.  Certain things can be produced on demand at the point of sale, but most things will have to wait at some point in their life cycle.  They wait on the shelf for people to buy them, they wait in the back room (or under the counter, or up high, or wherever the company stores excess) for there to be space on the shelf, and they wait in a warehouse somewhere for there to be space in the back room.

All of this costs money.  Obviously any shelf-space occupied by something that isn't selling could be more profitably filled with something that is, but that's nowhere near the chief concern.  Warehouses cost the most.  You have a whole fucking building that doesn't make a cent but has to have utilities, property taxes (where applicable), maintenance, and so forth paid for.  That being said, even having something in the back room instead of on the shelf is losing you money that you would be making in a frictionless vacuum an ideal system.

Also, no matter where it's being stored, paying for something before you can sell it costs money too.  Time is literally money (see: interest rates) and by buying this thing (whatever it happens to be) before it will sell you lose that money and have to pay to store it.

At some point people realized that with the speed of modern communication, with advanced statistical modeling, and with other crap like that, they could reduce that cost.

The result has been decades of efforts to make sure that retailers have enough for normal demand and not a jot more.  Well . . . that's not quite true.  Empty shelves don't make people feel safe and secure and happy about a store, so the ideal towards which businesses have been working is to have exactly enough to keep the shelves filled, and not a bit more.

You can cut out entire warehouses, or at least sell them and replace them with smaller ones, you can reduce the time between paying for an item and selling it, and --in many cases-- you can even do a bit of remodeling to convert some of the back room storage space into additional store space which will increase your profits if you utilize it properly.

The goal, of course, is to have absolutely nothing in reserve, and have all the stuff on the shelves be bought that very day.  That goal has not been reached yet, but impressive strides have been made in that general direction.

Profits have increased, prices haven't really gone down, and everybody's happy (at least everybody who matters.)  Everything is perfect.

But, chris, you say, if there's only enough to meet demand, what will happen if demand increases?

Worry not, that problem was noticed long ago and a wonderful solution was found.  That solution is very simple: ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

I jest.  In fact it's more a "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs" thing.

If people are at home instead of outside (at work, shopping, watching a movie, going to a club, celebrating Saint Patrick's Day, what have you) then there will be a massive spike in demand for everything that they're used to getting elsewhere.  This runs from food they might get at restaurants, to the toilet paper they would use in public (or work) restrooms.  Since you never bothered to have reserve stock, you won't be able to meet that demand.

However, since all of your major competitors have been operating on the same damned model, they won't either.  You're not losing your customers to other companies, so no real harm done.  After all, selling all of your stock (which is what left you with empty shelves) means you're doing way better than usual.  Profits are high.  Everything is good.

What about old fashioned "mom and pop" stores who--

First off, most of them went out of business ages ago.  Second, note how I said "major competitors"?  Well, with all of them, and you, out of the same product, anyone who does keep supplies in reserve is going to find themselves overburdened regardless, and they'll run out soon too.  There might be a brief spike in your customers going to them, but it'll die out pretty soon.  By the time this is over your customers won't even remember that those guys had it in stock for longer than you.

Still, doesn't it . . . I don't know, look bad when I'm out of the stuff I'm supposed to not be out of?

In other circumstances, it kind of would.  See the above thing about empty shelves being a turn off to consumers.  That doesn't apply here, though.  If everyone has empty shelves, then your shelves being empty doesn't reflect badly on you.  You're judged in comparison to your competition, not the Platonic ideal of a compassionate company.

Ok but it's my job to provide this stuff, won't it reflect poorly upon me if I can't?

Not really.  You can just blame the consumers.  "Look at all of these people buying stuff they suddenly need three times as much of; aren't they stupid?  They're the reason we ran out.  Just blame them," you'll say.

But in times of crisis the government advises people to--

No one cares.  No one ever blames a corporation for failing to provide what it promises.  Moreover, you've missed the point.

The point, dear reader, is this:

Everyone knew from the beginning that this would cause stores to run out of essentials the moment something changed.  No one cared.  Why?  Because it works.  You save money constantly by not having to buy excess stock, and whenever the shelves run empty that just means you sold more than you expected.  It's a windfall, not a problem.

After all, if you're the kind of person deciding on whether to make yourself somewhat richer or serve the average consumer in the times of heightened demand that you know will come from time to time, you're never going to run out any of that shit, now are you?

No one you care about suffers.


And that has been today's economic lesson.  The empty shelves we're seeing now (and I was shopping today, I saw entire empty aisles in the best stocked store I visited) aren't a bug or a miscalculation.  They're a predicted and acceptable (to those who made the decision) side effect of optimizing profit by reducing unused stock.


The system is working exactly how it was designed to work.  This was always part of the plan.  The flip-side of saving money by only buying the absolute minimum to fill your shelves has always been and will always be having those shelves empty when you underestimate that minimum because of unforeseen circumstances, which you know will inevitably arise from time to time.

Once upon a time people realized they could save money at the cost of having this happen every so often.  They responded with an enthusiastic, "Worth it!" and they haven't changed their tune yet.  No one with the power to change things is talking about going back to having more stock in reserve.

(Which is why I'm stuck in a house with three people and no toilet paper.)


[In response to someone offering sympathy for the parenthetical:]

It's not pleasant, but I'm actually somewhat more annoyed with myself for forgetting the economics behind the whole thing when it first started happening.  Yeah, it definitely seems weird when all of the toilet paper is getting sold out, but when you remember that the businesses that are sold out have spent literal decades trying not to have any extra, it makes sense that a mild increase in demand (on a global scale) would have that result.

It's really easy to blame people who are, by and large, doing sensible things instead of the ones who are actually responsible, and I did it myself a few days ago.

- -
- - -
- -

The really short version:

All of this --every inventory shortfall, everything (no matter how necessary) that you can't get because the stores are out-- was foreseen.  It was considered an acceptable cost to incur in order to reap the associated benefits (vis-à-vis savings during normal operations), and now that we're in the midst of it that hasn't changed in the least.

It's not a feature, per se, but it's definitely not a bug.  That means no one is going to fix it, because in the eyes of those who set up the system, nothing is broken.