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Nov. 30th, 2014 @ 07:28 am Thanksgiving done wrong
So today I'm going to rant a little about something which most Americans with think petty. Specifically, I want to yak about American Thanksgiving. Since it's what I know best, I'll also contrast this with Canadian Thanksgiving.

Canadian Thanksgiving: We all take a holiday, except for those of us in critical positions (like tech support). It's a single day, no big fanfare or anything. In fact, even our closest neighbors to the south continually remark, "Do they even celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada?" It's quiet and usually fairly low-key. If you don't have family in the area, friends will usually make an effort to reach out to you, so you're not spending the day alone. The next day, we all go back to work, thankful to have spent time with friends and family.

American Thanksgiving: EVERYBODY takes a holiday. Tech support lines shut down early on Wednesday afternoon and don't reopen until MONDAY. The whole world must pause so they Americans can hold their spectacle. An entire weekend of parades and madness. Everybody knows about the ostentatious American carnival that is Thanksgiving, because it gets shoved right in our faces. They'll post things like "Happy Thanksgiving to all patriotic Americans who agree that we're an exceptional country destined for greatness from the beginning because God made us different." Modern-day Jews, is that it? America is the new Israel, destined for greatness because God set you apart? And you don't even have Scripture to back that up, you arrogant pricks! Never mind that, though, because the next day, everybody is going to lose their fucking minds with greed and trample people to death trying to get the best deals, while the entire world continues to wait on hold for you to get over yourselves.

I'm sorry, but, the way I was raised? Thanksgiving was for giving thanks, stopping to reflect, and then moving on. It didn't matter if people knew what you were thankful for. It was supposed to be a personal experience, though you'd spend time with others around you. Many of us had to work it anyway, holiday be damned, so you'd schedule your dinner around your work shift. Sometimes, work would put on a Thanksgiving dinner for you so nobody would miss out. (The same was true for Christmas, because God knows Americans can't wait for tech support--they must have it RIGHT NOW for their new computers they jus unwrapped. Meanwhile, everybody else can wait over Thanksgiving, because the Americans sure ain't supporting shit.)

Thanksgiving was never about putting on a show in the town square. It was never about forcing others to be "thankful" with us. It didn't become some sort of patriotic litmus test. It sure as HELL wasn't about being "thankful" one day and turning around to put on a display of the most outrageous greed ever the VERY NEXT DAY. What kind of hypocritical bullshit is that? Never mind what the stores do--I know they have their reasons, blah blah commerce greed capitalism blah. That doesn't mean y'all have to dance to their bullshit tune, does it?

Get over yourselves, America. Maybe when you re-learn what it really is to be thankful, your Thanksgiving holiday will be worthy of the name.
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Nov. 29th, 2014 @ 09:00 pm NaNo
I will finish NaNo this year. It will not be ahead of time, by any stretch of the imagination, but I will finish in time to declare myself a winner. And then, I will have to keep writing. You see, at the 46.5k mark, I'm only about two thirds of the way through the story. If that. I may only be halfway through. Hard to say, really.

This much I can say--we're just past the lowest point, and things are starting to look up. But it will take some work yet to find the light--and then to bring it back to set things back into balance.

I don't claim that my stories make any sense to anybody but me. There are holes big enough to drive a fleet of Mack trucks through. If it was ever to be published, it would have to undergo a lot of painstaking revision. But ultimately, I write for my own fulfillment, and as a way of keeping track of my own internal history and mythology. And this is truly the conclusion of an era, internally. The conclusion... and the beginning of something new.
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NaNoWriMo 2013
Nov. 13th, 2014 @ 07:40 am Thoughts on Ingress
I play Ingress. Ingress has two factions: the Enlightened and the Resistance.

The game centers on a substance known as exotic matter, or XM. XM is described as ordered data--there's a logic behind it. XM is also known to affect the human mind, inspiring great works of creativity and originality (and occasionally unhinging people, just a tad). XM is promulgated through various XM portals located around the world, and is believed to be sent from a race known as the Shapers. No direct contact with the Shapers has ever been established.

There is evidence to suggest that XM has been around for thousands and thousands of years. The legend of Osiris, for example, seems to have basis which is being replicated today (in game). Further, many of the creative classical works of sculpture, art, and literature seem tied to bursts of XM appearing. Major human political events also seem tied to these bursts, although in a much looser fashion than the creative arts.

XM in its naturally-occurring state has a particularly polarity. It registers as green on the scanner app. Some researchers believe this naturally-occurring polarity to be benign, possibly beneficial. Some, however, believe that by altering XM's polarity, it can be made safer (and less inspiring, but hey). This altered XM displays in blue on the scanner app. And some believe all XM to be inherently dangerous, particularly when a new variant, dark XM (chaotic data), was discovered. Dark XM does not register on the scanner app, and its known uses are few--but incredibly dangerous. Such that those exposed to it will die in a few days as their bodies break down uncontrollably.

Those working under the inspiration of XM have created various pieces of technology. In particular, resonators can be used to make XM portals stronger, and control the frequency of the XM they release. XMP bursters, conversely, will do damage to XM of the opposing polarity, destroying opposing portal resonators. Portals can be linked into triangles that can can spread the influence of that XM's polarity across large sections of the population.

The game factions break down along these lines. The Enlightened believe that the naturally-occurring XM is beneficial to humanity, seeing as it inspires such creativity, including advances in science and technology. We're not sure what the Shapers are, or why they're doing what they do, but the effects don't seem to be harmful on balance--in fact, many Enlightened seek to better understand themselves and live in harmony with nature, to say nothing of evolving humanity to a higher level (as has been done for centuries). The Resistance believe that XM must be altered to be made safer, to render us immune to alien mind control. They want the Shapers "defeated," whatever that means. Both factions oppose certain scientists in game, who believe the only way to control the threat is to vaccinate the global population against XM entirely. The vaccine has a 20% fatality rate.

Currently, the Resistance is attempting to signal another alien race, the N'Zeer. All we know about the N'Zeer is that they are the Shapers' "worst nightmare." The Shapers have apparently kept Earth hidden from the N'Zeer for millennia, reasons unknown. The Resistance are signalling the N'Zeer in the belief that "the enemy of my enemy is my ally." Sadly, I expect the Resistance to be successful. The Resistance have a drastic manpower advantage globally, on the order of 2:1 over the Enlightened. More people are interested in fighting aliens than in advancing the human race. To the extent that they are revealing Earth's location to another unknown alien race, whose only known effect was to inspire nightmares and horror stories.

If you look at the normal regional breakdown, you'll notice that while large areas will sometimes be taken by either faction, the normal pattern is that universities and urban areas break for the Enlightened, while rural and religious populations break for the Resistance. Go figure.

Personally, I find it a source of bitter amusement that those professing to be against "alien mind control" are the ones attempting to signal an unknown alien race in the hopes of driving off these "oppressors" who have done nothing but help humanity reach progressively higher levels of creativity discovery, technological progress, and general advancement. And if your God is indeed all-powerful and leads His children to a better place, could your God have also been inspired by something that was not at the time understood?

This, however, would not fly with orthodox Christianity, at the very least. God is God. God cannot be an alien race that was misunderstood. God, in fact, cannot be anything but what we believe God to be. Therefore anything else that seeks to alter our minds in any way is demonic influence, and must be fought against. I suspect those of religions which advocate a single path to "truth" and "right" would largely feel the same way. (Religions focused on multiple paths to harmony and enlightenment might be a different story.)

As for the rest, well... are we not largely conditioned to believe that "alien" is inherently malicious and must be opposed? I find it so very bitterly amusing that so many have chosen their faction based not on facts, but on an instinctive reflex reaction that aliens must be bad. And now they seek aliens from whom we were hidden, in the hopes of driving away the first group of aliens. What guarantees do you have that this second unknown race means us any better than the first? To what lengths will you go to fight this "threat"?

"I don't care if you tell me this button is a self-destruct--if you don't want me to press it, I'm going to press it BECAUSE you don't want it! Because I don't like you!"

How very... *sigh* ...human.
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Nov. 6th, 2014 @ 07:06 am Memories
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Nov. 4th, 2014 @ 03:57 pm Dreadful dreams of drastic deeds
I forgot my backpack at work last night. Because I only just started NaNo, I didn't have my novel-in-progress backed up on any other stations. That meant I couldn't work on it. All last night, my dreams were panicked and turbulent. I was losing ground, I wouldn't be able to do this novel, I was a failure, etc. etc.

The turbulent dreams are just a symptom, of course, of a much larger ill. More pervasive, anyways. And that is, quite frankly, that I'm under more stress than is good for me. I'm trying to paint my new house, organize myself into a move, write a novel, chair the fourth-largest furry convention in the world, be responsible for the move of our network, assist with organizing things (by order of Marketing Boss, in Technical Boss's absence), and answer phones (again, by order of Marketing Boss).

Upon review of my financial situation, I have concluded that only drastic measures can save me. Drastic measures will therefore be taken. I was going to buy more paint today, but it turns out I can't afford it. The painting will have to be suspended, once I have finished going through the stuff I've already bought. (There are no returns on it.) I will not be able to move my Internet connection to the new house; it is instead being cancelled. Were it not for my obligations to RF, I would also cancel all trips to Seattle for the forseeable future (not that anybody would miss me!). As it is, I'll just have to go get my insurance switched out for something cheaper. I'm not driving for work purposes any more anyway.

What this does leave me with is the necessities of moving. Mail forwarding and phone service, basically. Car insurance and rent, naturally. Student loans aren't going anywhere. Social services (Tor relays, Patreon) are a little iffy. Somebody needs to do it. I've always taken the stance that those who can, should. So far, I've counted myself as one who can.
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Nov. 3rd, 2014 @ 06:42 am Good start
At the end of Day 2, I have reached my goal for Day 3. That's not as good a start as I wanted (I wanted to be at Day 6, or 20% complete for the month), but I'll take it.

I usually post a word-count tracker for the month, so people can refer back to it to see how I'm doing as I go. I'm going to do the same for this year, though I'm a couple days late in posting it. (I don't think anybody cares, because I think hardly anybody is paying attention!)

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NaNoWriMo 2013
Oct. 31st, 2014 @ 06:33 am Coming this November...
Starstrike: 帰る

In times of peace, the stars shine,
Signifying all is well.
In times of war, the stars dim,
Blurring through the fogs of hell.

Old secrets shall soon be revealed,
Old faces from the dawn of time.
They carry with them seeds of death,
Or what could be truth sublime.

Without an anchor, all must drift
And all will fade away.
To stem the tide, turn and search--
Find truth to save the day.

All that was will be again,
History will be made new.
To travel safely, just remember
To thine self be true.
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NaNoWriMo 2013
Oct. 27th, 2014 @ 06:43 am November is NaNoWriMo!
I'm insane. Just saying. Not only am I charing RF this year, not only am I moving over the month of November, but I am also participating (as usual) in NaNoWriMo. :) And I just finished writing the title and synopsis, so I'm officially ready to go.

The writing should come easily this year. This story has been burning since March, so there's a lot of details already fleshed out in my head. Now it's just a matter of flushing them to the page, as it were.
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NaNoWriMo 2013
Sep. 29th, 2014 @ 09:05 am Begin
I wake up this morning to Lady Gaga's "Applause" ringing through my head. It's been a while since I've heard it with such intensity, and never has it seemed to ring truer.

What has been written is written. The past is set; the future is in flux. What will be written has not yet been decided.

The present is now. Our actions in the now cast the future into the past, etching in stone a single pattern from among the many that existed in the future. For better or for worse, for good or for evil, we each leave our indelible mark on the people around us and the events that surround us all.

The way is forward. We travel on.
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Sep. 16th, 2014 @ 10:15 am Consume me
This isn't exactly what I wanted right now.

I can feel myself getting closer to the end of a cycle. My energy cycles are interesting things. Everybody knows about the cycle of life, death, and rebirth; I live it. As long as I live in a little bubble, I can usually sustain myself for a long period of time. But push it too far, and expend too much energy, and the cycle will reset.

Towards the end of a cycle, I can usually tell the end is imminent when I start connecting back to myself in a feedback loop to sustain the energy output as long as possible. Sometimes I manually invoke this, but sometimes it happens automatically. The personalities inside of me, the ones closest to the core, begin sacrificing themselves to sustain the ones even closer in. In the final stages of each cycle, even Morph and Rex begin feeding back into each other, until there is simply nothing left.

At the end of every cycle, there is nothing left. But as inevitably as the sun's rise in the morning, a system reset occurs. I come back up, refreshed and ready to move ahead again, all personalities online and operational.

I am, in essence, a self-renewing system. It's just a matter of how long each cycle can be sustained before I reset. If I have more support and less demand for energy, a cycle can last for a very long time, measured in years. If I have less support and must output a lot of energy, a cycle can last for a very short time, measured in weeks or even days.

It's true that right now, I'm operating in at a very high level of energy output. Not only is RF2014 approaching, but the SS Project is spooling up and I'm one of the few people involved at the moment. It will get better when more people come aboard, but for the moment...

We're eight days out from con. Now is not the time for a full system reset. But if it's necessary, hopefully I can at least get it over with before con. Resets at con are messy.
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