So, this is Christmas

First I'll get the depressing stuff out of the way...

We got to visit my family for two days after Christmas. This was the first year my grandfather wasn't home for Christmas... we visited him in the hospital and that was really shocking. He's just not there any more; he spent most of the time just sitting in the hospital chair staring into the middle distance. (It might be better if they hadn't lost his glasses, but...) He had lost a bunch of weight... he looked so small and simple and confused. He had a hard time talking; anything more complex than "yes" or "no" gave him trouble. You could talk at him, but not with him. It was difficult... we left T at home because hospitals aren't nice places, and seeing someone like that is scary... I almost don't want to visit again. I think they're hoping that being in a nursing home with daily activities and personal care will help... as it is, the hospital is understaffed and the patients are on their own almost all day.

I got to see my childhood dog Gabby for a few minutes (my mom and step-dad are seperated, and he got the house, so I don't see Gabby much). She's got pretty bad arthritis and has a hard time standing or going up stairs... her face is all grey. When we showed up at the door she growled and woofed and tried to stand up to run and hide (her usual routine - all bark and no bite), but once I got to her, she either recognized me or decided I wasn't going to hurt her and she started wagging her tail and whining. I really miss my puppy... it's hard to only get a few minutes a year to see her, especially when I know she's going to be gone soon.

-----
And now, the not depressing stuff...



We didn't decorate for Christmas this year! Right after my last exam, we left to stay at T's parent's house, and we're not going back until tomorrow... it didn't seem worth it to put up the decorations, only to pack them away a few days after returning. The only decoration we had on display was a lovely advent calendar that T's mum made for us.


I made [almost] all the presents for my family. I did twelve scrapbook pages for Mom and my sister (who will be seven in January), sewed an apron for my grandmother, and lightscribed a bunch of DVDs for my mom and sister. I had fun making minimalistic covers for the cases from re-colored MSOffice clip art:

Sadness

I have a book on my shelf that I occasionally read to make myself sad. It's Birds of America by Lorrie Moore, and I picked it up at a secondhand bookstore because it was cheap.

It does not contain the heart-wrenching and dramatic sadness of death and loss. It never actually brings any tears to my eyes. Instead, it produces a general sort of disquiet that stays with me for days. It's the sadness of Eleanor Rigby and Mad World. It's the sadness of abandoned homes. It's the sadness that keeps me from hanging around the deli section of the grocery store, near the piles of boiled eggs that no one will buy. It's the sadness of toy stores that no one visits, and puppies that are alone in their cages, and biographies that don't sell, and empty Chinese restaurants. On their own they're just buildings and books and puppies and eggs; it is only when framed in a certain context that they become sad.

I think, though it's hard to put my finger on it exactly, that it's the sadness of loneliness. Things that are left behind, or unwanted, or misunderstood, or that were once treasured and now are not. Moore's stories are about people who are stuck in unhappy lives, without the power to affect change or even identify exactly what is making them unhappy. There's one line that has always stayed with me: his young, sad wife. To me, it's more poignant and heart-wrenching than loss. Maybe it's because I've lived my life being familiar with that very same quiet unhappiness, while the grief of death is entirely strange to me. It's not necessarily that I identify with these characters, but more that I know people like this exist, everywhere, and that's a deeply upsetting thought.


Phone Pic Dump 2


Photo of a male child in dark lipstick wearing embroidered 'vampire' costume and holding a cane.
Most pimpin' little kid costume I've ever seen

Poster of a Reaper figure with text, 'The Reapers are Coming. Bury your multiple email personalities'
Microsoft representatives dressed like grim reapers wandered around my campus, giving email assistance to unsuspecting university students.

Comment Carnival | The Island of Isolated Egos

The following post is about Internet drama involving two parties. The first is Notch (AKA Markus Persson), creator of the popular game Minecraft (over 4 million copies sold) and founder of the indie game company Mojang. The second is a group of Brits (foremost Simon, Lewis and Hannah) that have a podcast on YouTube called Yogscast. A huge part of their videos are centered around Minecraft, including "Let's Plays" of adventure maps, release updates, mod spotlights, and a long-running adventure series. They've made themselves pretty famous off of these videos, and have introduced plenty of people to Minecraft.

For the official release of Minecraft, Mojang decided to hold a convention in Las Vegas. Minecon sold out their 4500 tickets for the two day convention. One of the events was a panel and signing held by the Yogscast crew. The overall conclusion was that Minecon was fun, though chaotic and disorganized - common for a first-time convention. Right after the con ended, as the Yogscrew was about to board their intercontinental flights back home, Notch let loose a series of Tweets that sparked a massive battle in their respective fanbases:

The Five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration

I've been re-reading the Harry Potter series recently. I think it's a fantastic fantasy series, mostly because Rowling does such a wonderful job of tying everything up so neatly. By the time I'm done, I'm not left with many nagging questions, and I can actually enjoy the world she has created without being assailed by my pedantic side too much.

One of the few questions that remains is about the so-called "Five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration." As stated in the novels, there are five things that cannot be conjured or, I think, made via transfiguration. In the novels, only one is explicitly named, leaving four more for me to guess at. What could they possibly be? I've been over and over it and come up with a few possibilities for the Five Exceptions:

Food

Naturally, as this is the one that is discussed in the Deathly Hallows:

"My mother," said Ron one night, as they sat in the tent on a riverbank in Wales, "can make good food appear out of thin air." [...]

"Your mother can't produce food out of thin air," said Hermionie. "No one can. Food is the first of the Five Principal Exceptions to Gump's Law of Elemental Transfigur-"

"Oh, speak English, can't you?" Ron said [...]

"It's impossible to make good food out of nothing! You can Summon it if you know where it is, you can transform it, you can increase the quantity if you've already got some -"


The food problem is also mentioned later in the same book, when Neville is talking about the Room of Requirements. The Room can supply everything they need, except food. This exception makes a few other things clear, like why house elves are usually in the kitchen and Sirius Black resorted to eating rats when he was hiding in a cave near Hogsmeade. (Although it doesn't make it clear why everyone just doesn't carry around a few crumbs of bread or something, if you can magically "increase the quantity" of food, and the implications of the "you can transform it" line is unclear.)

This critical passage gives us some clues for what the others may be. We now know what sort of "traces" the remaining four Exceptions will leave in the wizarding world. We need to look for things that seem rare or unique, or that have seemingly unnecessary economies. From these criteria, there are a few that are evident from simple logic.

Metals or elements

This one is the easiest. There are two possibilities for a wizard currency: the currency itself is heavily protected with charms such that any forgeries are detectable, or the currency is made out of a substance that cannot be created magically. In Rowling's universe, the currency is made of metals:

Griphook unlocked the door [...] Harry gasped. Inside were mounds of gold coins. Columns of silver. Heaps of little bronze Knuts.

"All yours," smiled Hagrid. [...]

"The gold ones are Galleons," he explained. "Seventeen silver Sickles to a Galleon and twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle..."


Each of these elements (gold, silver, copper, and others) has to be impossible to create permanently, or else there is a constant danger of forgeries that threatens the wizarding world's economic system. The latter is quite clearly not the case: at no point in the novels is it ever suggested that anyone be suspicious of any money they are given. (The same seems to apply to gemstones, too!)

The exception here is leprechaun gold, which evidently has the same properties of regular gold currency except that it disappears after a period of time. We are introduced to leprechaun gold in The Goblet of Fire, where Ron pays Harry in leprechaun gold, gathered from the Irish Quidditch mascots. Evidently it's not common knowledge that leprechaun gold is fake (probably because leprechauns aren't native to Great Britain!) Ludo Bagman, on the other hand, knowingly pays of his gambling debts with leprechaun gold. In the Deathly Hallows, a bank goblin is overheard muttering to himself, "Leprechaun gold" while examining a Galleon - Goblins, a race that is skilled with metals, seem to have little trouble telling them apart.

Kitties and Crossdressing

A very belated Happy Halloween to you!

This Halloween kind of snuck up on us, and we didn't get nearly as into it this year as we normally do. Only a few decorations got put up, and only a few days before Halloween. T didn't really have a costume this year (again)... He carried around a styrofoam ball and went as hydrogen. (We played with the idea of leaving the styrofoam ball at home and saying he was a to-scale hudrogen atom, but figured that would be too obscure.)

None of my other friends had a costume, because apparently I'm the only cool person. (Okay, that's not fair. We went to a pub with a cute Pikachu and a Phantom of the Opera-esque guy.)

It also doesn't help that Halloween fell on a Monday, so I think everyone got their partying/dressing up out of the way over the weekend. (The weekend that saw our first snow of the season! Figures it would be a wet, ugly one) When I went to school on Monday dressed as a tuxedo cat, I was the only person I saw on campus who was in any sort of costume. I only saw one family Trick or Treating, and only two houses that were decorated.

I am disapoint.


We finally finished watching all of Stargate Atlantis, and I was hunting around for costume ideas, when I thought Ronon Dex would make a fun costume.





Sadly, due to lack of tools and money, I didn't get to do it the way I'd have liked to - for one, I would be missing his gun and knife... really iconic parts of his character. But, the rest of it seemed like it would be fun to make from scratch, so I went for it. It didn't turn out perfect - I would have needed to do lots of leather working for it to look genuine - but I'm happy with my results. I learned a lot along the way, and if I ever go to a convention I'll definitely improve and add on to this costume. I had fun trying to stay "in character." Seeing as how I'm terrible at being straight-faced and surly, I just spent the whole night trying to sit like a man by not crossing my legs.

Spiritpunk (Part 1)

I know I'm not very good at telling a story, but I had this idea in my head and just had to write it out... Characters and plot aren't my strong suit. ;)

The sky was gloomy and pregnant with rain. The clouds grumbled threateningly, licks of lightning flickering in the bellies of the clouds. A humid, insistent wind was chasing most of the city's citizens inside, where they hunkered down before their fires to listen to the evening's radio broadcast. The radio didn't have much to say these days - "The War continues!" is about all it said, day after day, week after week.

The War continues.

We were winning, of course. Sure we were. How could we not win? We of the higher moral ground, we of pride and bravery, we of compassion and mercy. We had to be winning - the radio told us so every evening. The radio couldn't lie, the newspapers couldn't lie, the soldiers themselves couldn't lie. And yet, the War dragged on. And on. And on.

If this was what winning felt like, I thought miserably as I hurried through the empty streets, Gods have mercy on the folks who are losing.

I was running late, of course. Three spirit inspections a day was far too many for a department that was as desperately understaffed as our own. Just last week we had a mess of trouble from a half-crazy inventor that resulted in my sleeping on the little cot in the office for five days straight. Idiot tried to use a foreign-speaking spirit to trick an inspector into thinking it was below Sentient class. How they continue to believe that rubbish is beyond me; there's enough information flooding out of PropDep that the average Joe on the street is a veritable expert on spirit identification. It may have fooled a schoolchild, but our training and equipment has been proven to never give a false negative.

It just reinforced how important our work is. The only difference between us and them is morality. We're neither cruel nor desperate enough to use Sentient spirit power, even if it's more powerful and clever. That we stand so firmly on this issue is what will win us the war. Good shall always triumph over evil, and there is no evil worse than imprisoning the Sentient dead.

I brushed past abandoned, boarded-up houses and humming factories. A few lonely lights danced in the windows of the factories - the evening staff, tending to their spirits. One of these factories was my destination. Just a routine inspection, shouldn't be any problems. It's not the factories we have to worry about, usually. They're built and designed to be run on sub-Sentient power. If they were fitting for Sentient power, it would be obvious. It's not the sort of thing you can hide from our department researchers.

Most applications only need access to the power of the dead, which can be drawn from the unlimited supply of ethereal energy that is emitted by a pinned spirit. A pinned spirit can't move or hibernate; it is effectively imprisonment. We only allow the use of sub-Sentient spirits which don't know any better; they don't understand their fate. We require that they never be left alone for long periods of time. Spirits left unattended have managed to self-destruct, causing great damage to themselves, the machinery they reside in, and other nearby spirits. If they're monitored, a spirit on the verge of destruction can be unpinned and freed before it becomes dangerous. It's not difficult to find and pin a replacement; a minor inconvenience considering the vast amounts of power and even intelligence they give us.

They use Sentient spirits in their weapons, in state utilities... hell, they pin Sentients into their fucking home appliances. They use viscous containment methods that drive the spirits insane. They force them to perform menial tasks over and over, hour after hour, with no rest. I've caught a few Sentient-class spirits that escaped from their machinery, and it's not pretty. "The duty of the dead," their propaganda calls it. It's disgusting. It's filthy. It's not duty, it's slavery. If I could get my hands on the people responsible, I'd -

Ah, here it is. A worse for wear factory that looked as empty and lonely as all the others I passed. I trudged up the steps just as the first fat raindrops fell from the sky. Small miracles, I comforted myself, neglecting to think too much about the trip home. (Perhaps I could borrow a phone and ring a cab, though that's rather unprofessional - though trotting off into a furious rainstorm is also quite unprofessional, when you get down to it. And once I'm done this inspection I'm technically off the clock, providing everything goes smoothly. Of course everything will go -)

"Hello," I said to the young woman who was peering out of a doorway just off the entrance hall. She has the confused look of someone who had closed their eyes for "just a moment," only to wake up several hours later. A lot of the caretakers looked like that, these days. Long hours with little pay will do that to a person.

"I'm Sandra Davis, Senior Spirit Inspector, SpiriDep. I'm afraid I'm running late, though you were informed I would be here today...?"

The girl blinked the sleep from her eyes and nodded in affirmation. As an afterthought, she stuck our her hand and offered her name, Milly. An unfortunate name for a sweet-looking woman, I couldn't help but think. Tired, but sweet.

"Very well, this shouldn't take too long and then I'll be on my way." She escorted me to the production floor, showed me the generators, the factory machines, a sample of the product right off the lines. My instruments swept over and through the machinery giving nothing but clean readings, not even so much as a sub-sentient class 5, a spirit class that's popular due to its energy efficiency and cleverness, which can sometimes trip a sensor. No, everything here was neat and tidy, by the books.

So why was Milly being so hostile?

That thought took me by surprise, but when I turned to study the girl more closely it became apparent that there was something wrong. She was holding herself with an unnatural tenseness, she kept trying to casually peek over my shoulder at my instrument readings. Her replies were too prompt, her face too hard, with a barely-hidden scowl. And her eyes - she kept looking at... not, that's not right. She was trying to avoid looking at something.

"Alright, that's about it! Everything here seems clean." She looked only mildly relieved, s it couldn't be anything on the production floor. The next logical thing, then. "Now, it's standard procedure for us to check the staff areas, too -"

Ah! That was it. The poor thing turned white as a sheet. And she had been trying so hard to hide... whatever it was. I almost felt bad for her. Well, it really wasn't standard procedure to scan the personal affects of the staff - far too invasive to do something like that on a regular basis - but we could if we felt it was needed. I wanted to know what she was hiding. A weapon, most likely; those were becoming unfortunately popular these days. There was also the new illegal fortune devices fad; supposedly tapping into the "great knowledge" of the undead. (Milly didn't strike me as the superstitious type, anyway.) Or maybe -

"Hmmmm," I said thoughtfully as I stepped into her personal quarters, Milly shuffling in behind me, like a sulky shadow. For a moment I was worried she may become violent, but a glance at the girl revealed she didn't have a violent bone in her body. She was chewing her lower lip and looking as if she was going to cry.

"Hmmm," I repeated as my instruments started getting excited. The Sniffer led me to a small writing desk. As I got closer, the detector on my belt squawked and a blurry humanoid shape appeared on the screen of my ID unit. Fully Sentient-class, no doubt about it. I reached out my hand to touch the... watch? It was just a plain pocket-watch, quite clearly not a weapon or a fortune unit. Why have a Sentient imprisoned inside? You barely needed any power at all to run a simple pocket watch. As I let my fingers graze the cool metal of the casing, my detector instantly fell silent. The ID unit suddenly showed only a faint, irregular waveform. The Sniffer still eagerly pointed at the watch, though.

"What the..."

"Don't take him!" Milly squeaked, hovering just behind me, clearly too terrified to snatch the watch from my hands, though dearly wanting to. "Don't take him, they'll hurt him!"

WAYWT | Fall checkers, blue socks


I found a stump. It was a nice, fall stump. So I stepped all over it. Later, while we were in line for poutine, I picked a bit of leaf out of my hair. When it fell to the ground, it unfurled and turned into a tiny, lime-green bug. I felt pretty guilty about stealing the little bug away from its forest home, nearly squishing it, and then dropping it in the middle of a busy, old and neutral-coloured cafeteria... so I had to go take it outside and put it in the grass. It reminded me of a little robot bug we have at home that just walks in straight lines until it winds down.

This past month has been very... tiring. School (well, waking up early) is always quite draining. I've been feeling quite stressed and gloomy, to the point that my period was almost a week late... But I enjoyed our trip to Yarmouth, I'm enjoying most of my classes (Intro to Psychology, Media Culture, Parallel Programming [again], Advanced Algorithmic Techniques), my favourite holiday is approaching, I'm rereading Harry Potter, I finally installed Windows 7, I tried water marbling last night, I'm playing board games with friends tonight, and the weather has been absolutely lovely.

I haven't had a lot of energy to write since school started. But, I do have lots of stuff to talk about coming up, including this year's Halloween costume, APB and P-NP. Very exciting.

Suddenly, Yarmouth

In a surprising twist of decision-making, we didn't visit either T's or my family for (Canadian) Thanksgiving, but instead went to Yarmouth County to spend the weekend with a friend's family.

It was a sunny fall weekend, with good food, lovely people, and beautiful scenery and I'm extremely glad we went.

Photo of a lighthouse, with a rocky foreground.

Photo of the ocean with a line of foam stretching across it
It's the ocean seam! Where God patched in the oceans...

Spontaneous Generation

Arguably, the most important trait that separates humankind from other animals is our ability to formulate complex ideas. (Thumbs are pretty rad, too, but we're not the only creatures who've got 'em. Fucking raccoon.) But, complex as they are, these ideas are not always correct. If you look over the history of scientific beliefs, this becomes painfully clear, and can be a great source of amusement if you're that kind of person.

I am that kind of person.

One of my favourite obsolete beliefs is "spontaneous generation;" the belief that certain organisms spontaneously appear out of other substances. For example, it was supposedly believed that rats would appear out of piles of garbage, or that frogs would spawn out of mud that was exposed to the sun. This actually resulted in several "recipes" for critters, or other misguided beliefs, like the belief that geese were fish. (This was before it was known that some species of birds migrate, so people didn't know where a certain species of geese originated from. It was observed that a type of barnacle has a similar coloration scheme to the geese in question, and therefore deduced that the barnacles were a sort of pupal stage of geese. Interestingly, this was used as the reasoning for why it was okay to eat geese during Lent, when normally you could eat no meat other than fish.)


It's all very cute, and very funny. (And it's all very easily debunked by the use of (even moderately) controlled experiments. So, we add another thing to the list of hilarious beliefs our ancestors ascribed to.

Except.

Except a few weeks ago I bought bananas. I don't normally buy bananas, because I'm allergic to them, and T won't touch them. But one of the rabbits was being medicated for an ear infection, and I bought a bunch of stuff to see if anything would get the pills down faster.

Anyway, I had bananas and no one to eat them (except rabbits), so they sat on the counter for a few days.

Then, one day, I passed my hand over the bananas and a cloud of fruit flies frantically burst into the air. We had not previously had a problem with fruit flies.... until I bought bananas. And then they were everywhere and we're still trying to get rid of them a full fucking month later.

We went to visit T's parents, and they had a fruit bowl on the counter. And there, next to the apples and oranges, was a banana. As I was hanging out in the kitchen, my idle hands happened to skim the air near the banana, and a cloud of fruit flies rose from the banana and buzzed chaotically around the kitchen.

There it is again: bananas... and then fruit flies.

Fuck what the science says, I think someone back there in the mid-first-millennium had their shit right. This shit isn't a coincidence. Bananas cause motherfucking fruit flies. It's undeniable. And I don't think I'll be buying fucking bananas again, because those fuckers are annoying. (The flies, not the bananas)

If I ever play Pictionary, and I ever have to draw a fruit fly, I know exactly what I'll doodle.

Body hair, body odour and drawings of breasts [NSFW illustrations]

It's undeniable that people in western cultures are forced encouraged to spend a massive amount of time fussing over making their bodies less... body-like. Women specifically are encouraged to completely remove the majority of our body hair; coat ourselves in perfumes, scented soaps, "deodorants;" prevent signs of natural aging like wrinkles and grey hairs... essentially, we're taught that being human is bad grooming - hell, some people even go so far as to call the natural human state "unhygenic."

It's a pretty popular topic in feminist/gender circles, for obvious reasons.


You don't have to look too hard to find people waxing poetic about how the natural state of being - hairy, "smelly," with natural "flaws," - is beautiful. You don't have to look too hard to find people passionately writing about how knowing someone's natural scent is intimate and beautiful. You don't have to look to far to see people fighting against the perception that human bodies are naturally "dirty" and need to be tidied on a regular basis.


Once you get over the stigmas tied to body odor, you actually learn that they are erotic and contain pheromones that are meant to attract others. That’s why you have body hair in places where your body is fragrant, to trap the scent. People who shave their pits, coat themselves with toxic deodorants and anti-perspirants, and wear perfumes or body sprays are missing out on a significant aspect of sexual relations with people. Learning someone’s smell is a very natural way of connecting with them. [...] Businesses don’t like that, though, because they can’t sell you a scent you produce naturally. [...] (Click for full)

And they have a point. All this pressure to look and smell perfect is... frankly, annoying. Some days I'm just too fucking lazy to shave my legs. Some days it's hot out and I can't help it that I get sweaty. At some points in my menstrual cycle my natural odour is stronger, but there's no way in hell am I letting a douche or "feminine cleansing cloth" get near my pussy. Sometimes I forget to check if my eyebrows need to be shaped. And you know what? That's okay. Bodies shouldn't be considered disgusting. It's weird to convince people that their normal state of existence is offensive and gross, and for sure a big motivation for that attitude is companies seeking profit by playing off insecurities.

On the other hand, I see no reason to judge people for choosing to heavily groom themselves. It just swings the pendulum in the opposite direction. It reminds me of the skinny vs curvy "debate." I know what people are getting at when they say things like, "Real women have curves!" but I sometimes feel like I'm the only person who realizes statements like that are equally damaging as the perception that the only way to be attractive is to be very slim. It's fantastic to challenge the beliefs that women have to be completely smooth and smell like flowers before a man will touch them, but it's just as bad to imply that people are ignorant or being coerced if they choose to follow conventional grooming practices. That they have unsatisfying sex lives if they shave their arm pits. That they don't experience real intimacy if they wear deodorant.

I also dislike like the argument based around, "If it grows [or happens], it's there for a reason" because if you know anything about evolution you know it's patently not true. And, in that case, shouldn't we use the same logic to apply to all out bodily matters? Stop brushing our teeth because it's unnatural? Stop wearing sunscreen because it's unnatural? Stop combing our hair because it's unnatural? Clearly not. There are plenty of things our bodies do naturally that are actually detrimental, or at least completely neutral. And we, being a clever sentient species, have the power to change these things on a whim in the name of health, practicality or aesthetics.

For the same reason a person may dye their hair green, I shave my legs. For the same reason a person may get a tattoo, I wear deodorant. I don't think body hair or body odour is gross or unpleasant in any way - just as a person dying their hair doesn't think their natural hair colour is gross, or a person getting a tattoo doesn't think their bare skin is unpleasant. I do it because I like the results. I have very little problem smelling and looking "natural," but I would much prefer to have skin that is smooth to touch and an armpit that smells like a tasty strawberry, coconut and vanilla dessert.



What I do have a problem with is people being ostracized for how they choose to groom themselves. Whether it be a woman being called "not a feminist" because they wax their pubes, a man being called names for shaving his legs, or a woman being called "disgusting" because they don't wear deodorant or keep their armpit hair long. That shit is not cool, in any form. Keep your preferences to yourself, and let people act according to their own. How they look or smell has no lasting effect on your life, but pressuring people to groom themselves in a specific way does affect their lives - and in a negative way.

The New Minecraftia

Version: 1.8
Seed: shipwreck
Texturepack: Jolicraft (modified)


Day One
I wake up on a small island with no memory of who I am or how I got here. A single tree provides shade to a small patch of yellowed grass. A jolly spiral sun and happy clouds hang above me. Nearby I can see a second small island, and there are two other islands on the distant horizon. There no other living thing in sight.


Using my bare hands, I tear down the single tree, gathering chunks of the trunk and small saplings as they fall to the ground. I replant the saplings in the hope that they will grow quickly - I will need more wood soon enough. I fashion a rough crafting table and a wooden pick from the tree trunk. Slinging the pick over my shoulder I slip into the ocean and make my way to the closest island. If I am to survive, I will need more resources - and there is no reason to carve away the island that supports my trees.

As I wander over the second small island, I trample away the coarse, wispy grasses. I find a small handful of seeds - food, perhaps? I put those in my pocket for later. I then turn my attention to the firm ground beneath my feet and begin to dig a shallow, dark mine. After several false starts, I finally find what I'm looking for: coal.

Beautiful, life-giving coal.

Day Two
I have built myself a basic stone hut to provide shelter. Inside I have a furnace, a chest and a crafting table. I am happy to see a few trees have grown. This is good. I now have enough wood to build a boat.

I sail to an island and scrounge for more seeds. I have started to feel hunger... perhaps I can build a small farm. There doesn't appear to be anything I can hunt, and I have nothing to make a fishing rod of.

Darkness falls. I boat back to the island I now call home.


It is now pitch black outside. I am becoming very hungry. I don't have anything to sleep on, except for the hard ground. I pace around my hut, grow bored and venture into the darkness.

I can see shapes moving on the nearest island. Friends? Food? I wade through the water to investigate, gripping a simple stone club in case they turn out to be hostile. At this point, with no food, no mainland, and nothing else living, I figure I should find out what has suddenly appeared. I'm close enough that I can make out some details -

Holy shitballs, is THIS how it feels to not be depressed?

Well, fuck me silly.

I think it's finally happened. I think... I'm not depressed any more.

This is a beast I've been battling for years and years now - it's something that's been like a grey cloud always hovering over my life. For a very long time, a good day was one in which I didn't have a panic attack, didn't feel nauseous, or didn't feel like I was going to cry. Playing games or visiting with friends was the most effective way to fend off the loneliness and hopelessness, and sometimes I'd even feel good for a couple weeks in a row.

But it always came back. Depression is hard to describe to people who have never suffered from it, but it's instantly recognizable to anyone who has. It's an oppressive force that permeates your entire life. It made me want to hide in bed and sleep my life away. (There were times when I wished I would never have to wake up - that I could stay dreaming forever.) It made me feel sick and anxious so that I didn't want to eat. It made me angry and confused and I started picking fights so I'd have something to channel those feelings into. It made me hate myself - physically and mentally. I began to hate that I was weak and insecure and that it seemed like I couldn't motivate myself to fix myself.

It became normal for me - to the point that I forgot what it was like to not feel that way.

And then, this summer...

...something changed. I honestly do not know what it was that changed. Knowing myself and knowing my triggers, this summer should have been the worst of all - I had no job and nothing to do during the day when I was home, alone. I felt as if I wasn't contributing to the household (I wasn't - I didn't have any money) and I had found out I would need at least another year of school before I could graduate due to all the courses I have failed. Basically I had this summer as a proof of how I had "failed;" it should have been fuel to feed my depression even more.

But it didn't.

Instead, I stayed happy and content for several months. I could still get upset or restless or lonely, of course, but it wasn't all-encompassing and hopeless. I was just sad, not depressed. The feelings would pass on their own, or if I talked about it, or if I did something else... basically, I was healthy again for the first time in... well, since I can clearly remember.

It's easy to forget what it's like to be truly happy.

I can only identify two changes over this summer. The first is that I am able to sleep on a natural rhythm - I got to bed when I'm tired and get up when I'm awake. I don't get forcefully woken up by an alarm too early in my sleep cycle, which is something I know always makes me feel like shit for the rest of the day. The second is that I've been talking 2000 IUs of vitamin D every day for the whole summer. There is a proven connection between vitamin D deficiency and depression, so I suspect the vitamin D has helped quite a bit. (Vitamin D is an interesting topic; this is a great starting point for anyone interested. Ignore the bad page design; Gibson is very, er, oldschool in his web design. It's not a sketchy website trying to sell you anything, as much as it may look it. :P)

But, even with all the contentment, I worry.

I worry that I will slowly slip back into depression. It has a way of sneaking up on you. So, whenever I have a couple days when I'm grumpy or restless or PMSing, I worry. What if the feeling doesn't go away? What if I go back to how I was? I make the people around me miserable in addition to being miserable myself. I don't want that; no one does. But it's hard to spot, and eve harder to stop.

To anyone who has recovered from bouts of depression - can it ever be truly gone? Or do you always worry ti might come back to haunt you?

Phone Pic Dump 1


As it turns out, the two of us can't finish an XL between us.


Half of the horror is the spelling. Damn you, Lovecraft!

Vegeta! What does the scouter say about her power level?

...IT'S OVER ONE HUNDRED!!!!!!


WHAT! ONE HUNDRED? Yeah, that sounds about right.

I've had my blog for more than a year now (my first post is dated Feb. 16, 2010), so I completely missed that milestone. My first comment was received on July 10th, 2010, so I suppose I missed that milestone, too. I guess I should celebrate one of my blogging milestones, so reaching 100 followers will be it.

I have just a smidge over one year of Google Analytics data on my blog and its visitors. I decided to look back through all my data to see if anything caught my eye. First, I have my overall pageviews and visits:

Yellow being visitors, and blue being pageviews

The largest spike there occurred on May 2nd, the day after I published my blog feature on The Two Matthews(ers). In attempting to spread some love to one of my favourite blogs, I ended up getting a (comparatively) massive amount of traffic from her readers. Oh well, I guess you can't win 'em all.

The disproportionate amount of pageviews that occurred in March was probably people getting a bit excited over my post titled "My first sex post: teen sex" which is very much not titillating at all.

Diving a little deeper, I took a look at the geographic distribution of my visitors. Unsurprisingly, the US was ranked first (Most visits coming from California), followed by Canada (With most traffic coming from my city; I guess my friends like to visit), then UK and Australia. More surprisingly, Canada is totally 'leet.



So, what is bringing visitors to my lil ole blog? The keyword searches that bring people here are actually not very varied, and they account for only 22% of my total visits. Of 1,958 visits sent from search engines, a little over half the search engine traffic is captured by the following keywords:

Alzheimer's

It started when my grandfather lost his job as a minister at our small Anglican church. I was still quite young at this point and didn't really understand what was going on; all I knew is that grampie wasn't working any more and for some reason it was very awkward. (I think it's regarded as pretty disgraceful to be fired from a religious position.) My mom stopped going to that church for a while, while my grandmother straightened her back and started making phone calls to protect his pension. She had no income of her own and they relied heavily on him working.

Grampie went to the doctor.

Grampie was submitted to some new drug trials.

Grampie was diagnosed with a dementia-spectrum degenerative disorder.

For a while things were steady. Grampie spent most of his time reading in his study, or pecking away at his keyboard. Grammie resumed her normal activities: cooking, cleaning, planning church events. Grampie was never the type of man to help around the house, so life was normal for a bit. Just that he didn't give any sermons any more.

He very, very slowly got worse.

I was at university by this time, so I don't know exactly how it progressed, but grampie's memory got worse and worse. He stopped being able to do simple things to take care of himself - he could no longer be trusted to work the microwave, and his daily walks around the neighbourhood were sometimes alarmingly long. He could no longer drive. He started wandering, pacing from room to room trying to remember where something was, and eventually, trying to remember what he was looking for.

And then it got worse at a faster rate.

I'd come home for a weekend every few months and have dinner with my grandparents and family. "Do you notice a difference?" mom would ask every time. "I think so, but it's hard to tell when he doesn't talk as much," I'd say. He still remembered me (probably because of careful coaching). I'd watch him trying to figure out how to eat. It was painful to see him not remember what to do with the butter, or forget how to cut meat. His motor functions were deteriorating. He would still laugh at jokes, though.

And then he stopped laughing at jokes. He stopped being able to "get" them. He got more and more frustrated and angry. You could tell he knew what was happening - that he was losing his memory, that he was losing his brain. He would get angry when he became confused, raising his voice when he said "I don't know. I don't know!" He stopped going on his walks - he couldn't be trusted to find his way back home. He stopped being able to read. He would watch TV, but not understand it. On bad days, he wouldn't be able to figure out how to sit in a chair. He couldn't dress himself. He had trouble sleeping. It was scary to be in a house with someone who was always frustrated and pacing from room to room.

The medication does nothing to help - well, the sleeping medication helped keep him calm. But there is no treatment for Alzheimer's. There is no way of slowing the process, or stopping it, or reversing it. Once you are diagnosed with Alzheimer's, there is one outcome.

He was very, very unhappy, and so was our family. Grammie could no longer leave him to do errands - he started going to an adult day care centre, and she hired someone to come in and watch him while she went to do errands, or church events. He seemed to like the day care centre: they kept the seniors well-entertained.

My family treats it like an awkward joke. That frustrates me the most. My grandmother seemed convinced that he was exaggerating, that he was faking it. On a bad day, she would whisper, "He just doesn't try. He refuses to do anything he doesn't want to do. He won't let me distract him when he gets in those moods." The overwhelming feeling I get from her is that he's doing this just to spite her. When my mother talks about him, she has a half-smile on her face. I don't know what that means, but it makes me angry. "HIS FUCKING BRAIN IS ROTTING WHILE HE'S ALIVE!" I want to scream at them. "JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!"

I don't really blame my grandmother. It was not a happy marriage she'd had. He was a very "traditional" man, controlling, selfish. She was forced into a "traditional" housewife role, with few hobbies (they couldn't afford much) and two generations of children to raise (her own children, and then me). I overheard her talking to my mother once. She almost left him, very early on, but she decided to stay when "god told her to."

Fuck god. The thought of my grandmother being unhappily married to my grandfather for all those years just...

My grandmother emailed the family in early July to tell us he was finally hospitalized. He can no longer reliably control himself, and had been having hallucinations,

Lately he has been complaining of not being able to see, not being able to move his arms and legs, shaking of the arms, and weakness. For all of these things I have either taken him to emerg or the doctor. He has episodes where he talks and laughs to himself as well as to someone he sees on the ceiling of his study. He also has times when I'll hear a thump and find him on his hands and knees in front of his chair as he can't seem to get the hang of sitting back in his chair and goes forward instead- hence landing on the floor.

but the final straw was an act of aggression when he threw a steak knife at a family friend because he was frustrated that he couldn't cut his steak with a spoon.

He doesn't watch TV in the hospital because he doesn't like the headphones. He can't use the toilet without help, because he will make a mess on the floor and get his clothes wet. His hallucinations are getting worse - in a bad week, he sees a man with a chainsaw who cuts people up. "You're dead. He cut you up," he says to a family friend, "And he's coming for [my grandmother] next."

We visited him this weekend when I went home. Grammie brought him to sit on a bench outside, so the younger kids wouldn't have to go into the neurological unit at the hospital. This was the first time I've seen him where he very clearly didn't know who I was. "God bless you!" he said when I hugged him. But he didn't know who I was.

The sun shined on a glass-fronted poster, and the reflection caught his eye. He smiled and chuckled and reached out his hand to try to grab the light. He started waving at the spot of light and it captured all of his attention.

There is no where for him to go but down. There is no cure for Alzheimer's, there is no treatment to slow the progression.

On the positive side, now my grandmother is finally free. She has always loved travelling, and she has children in a neighbouring province and also on the west coast, in Seattle. She really likes Seattle. Now that she can travel alone, she has many trips planned. She's still quite young - somewhere around sixty years old - and she's just got a second lease on life. She spends Thursdays and Fridays baking hundreds of cookies and treats to sell at the farmer's market. She has the whole family over once or twice a week for supper. She can have young children visit without fearing that my grandfather would have an episode. She's not caregiver to someone who only repays her patience with frustration, anger and (sometimes) violence.

I've never seen her this happy, and it makes me happy to see her enjoying life. She is more of a mother to me than my actual mother, so I am very glad that she has freedom again. I just wish it could have come another way... while my grandfather and I were never close, and while I know he wasn't very loving to my grandmother, I wouldn't wish this horrible disease on anyone.

Nobody writes in cursive, anyway

I realized today that it has been a looooonnggg time since I had a writing cramp.

I quite literally cannot remember the last time I touched a pencil or pen, since exam time. I'm sure I have, once or twice, written something down on a piece of paper... but I certainly cannot recall what or when that was.

ETA: I just remembered the last time I hand-wrote something. It was a birthday card a little over a week ago that I wrote in Sharpie because I didn't have enough letter stickers.

The vast majority of my communication is done though human interface devices - physical keyboards, microphones, virtual Swype keyboards, touch screens. I keep my grocery list on my phone. I take notes on my netbook. The kinds of things you would jot on a sticky note I have stored in Untitled.txt. If I need to write a letter, I type it and then print it. The point is, I hardly write anymore.

I can clearly recall being in elementary school and being forced to learn how to write cursive. I hatd it, because the weird looping letters were hard to remember. What the hell is up with the cursive b, eh? It's balls-crazy. I can't recall any children enjoying cursive, but we had to do it anyway. "You'll have to use it in high school," the teachers would say in exasperation, "They won't let you print. Everybody writes in cursive."

Little did they know that by the time I was in high school, everything was printed - by a computer printer. Teachers flat-out wouldn't accept hand-written documents, and especially not if they were written in cursive. I really don't know where they got the idea that teachers would prefer cursive writing. People finally realized it is always easier to read something in a clear, standardized format than try and decipher all the varied approaches to writing. (Not to mention the convenience of writing it... When was the last time you used white-out?)

Earlier this year I was sitting in a longish history exam massaging my hand, which had seized up from the unnatural amount of writing I was doing. As I was rubbing my hand, I thought to myself about all the hours I used to be able to sit and write and write and write, with no pain and no cramps. In my childhood I would spend hours pencilling out (awkward) stories for my own entertainment (mostly about wolves), and now I couldn't handle more than a half hour of moderate writing?

Pathetic, I had thought at the time.

But then I remembered how my fingers and wrists used to hurt after being on the computer for even short periods of time. I realized I no longer get any aches from long days of typing, and that somehow my hands had gotten... stronger. My typing is certainly more deft and sure, and I can now spend hours and hours with one hand on a mouse and the other hand on WASD and never have a problem - nary a cramp or ache.

I suppose I've traded one skill for another.

I am somewhat sad that handwriting is falling out of favour. A person's lettering has a certain flair of personality that just vocabulary and style can't capture on their own. You can learn a lot about a person by just glancing over their handwriting. I remember wishing I could write like all the other girls in a clear, rounded font. My own penmanship is cramped, angular and hurried, which is how most boys seemed to write. I guess I was always destined to find myself in a typically male field, heh.

Oh, and I've almost forgotten: some people are able to elevate mere writing to an art form. I have seen some absolutely stunning displays of penmanship, notably one of T's more distant relatives is a talented calligraphist who sends bewildering Christmas cards (Bewildering because your first thought is, "Where did she find a pre-made card with out names in it? Ohhh... that's handwritten, not a computer font.")

On the other hand, I'm glad I no longer have to sit beside people as they try to decipher my scribbles - "No, that's an n, not an r. Those are two words. My bs do NOT look like my hs! Look, I'll just read the damn thing to you out loud." I no longer have to write one copy of an essay or assignment, and then recopy the whole thing word-for-word, carefully forming every letter so that my teacher has a chance of interpreting it. For my academic career, at least, it's been a good move.

I think that in the future I will leave my pencils for doodles only. If I am given a pencil and a surface to use it on, I very quickly turn to idle doodling. My favourite things to draw are cats, dandelions and trees. I draw many trees. And I like to draw horses, too, but I can never remember how their back legs are shaped.

I picked up a habit of combining doodles and notes in, ah, nonessential classes. I spent a significant portion of my history class trying to make my friends laugh by drawing silly interpretations of what the professor was saying. Surprisingly, it kept my attention and helped my remember many facts I would have otherwise forgotten. It's a good tactic for being in class, though it certainly made me feel silly come time for the open-book exam, haha. All the other students had neat spiral notebooks full of highlighted and organized notes, while I had a handful of pages covered in doodles.

I've uploaded a few of my doodle/notes pages for safe-keeping, because there is a good chance I'll accidentally throw them out next time I clean the bookshelf.



Menstrual cups | How to have a happy period

Fact: Periods suck.

Drizzling blood between your legs for several days a month fucking sucks. There's no way around that. Making it even worse is all the bloating, cramping, moodiness and money.

I threw money in there because even if your periods are pretty light on the unpleasant symptoms, you're still likely to spend a stupid amount of money on tampons, liners or pads. Most women end up using tampons, because they're less smelly, irritating and diaper-like than the alternative and you can pretend that you're not a filthy unclean woman having her gross time of the month. But, even tampons have their drawbacks - the biggest one being the risk of TSS.

You'd think, that after some ridiculously large number of years of female humans bleeding out of their crotch every four weeks, we'd have created a better way of dealing with it than shoving wads of cotton up our junk.

Well, we have. But very few women know about it.


These are menstrual cups. Say "hi" to the menstrual cups! They want to be your friend. They want to make your periods better. They want to save you money. They want to sit all warm and cozy in your snatch and keep your monthly flow from staining your underwear.

And I'm going to evangelize for them.

Fact: Menstrual cups will make your life better

Imagine not having to run to the drug store at odd hours of the day (and night) when Aunt Flo gives you a surprise visit. Imagine being able to wear your normal, cute underwear even when you're on your period. For all you heavy flow ladies out there, imagine being able to sleep through an entire night and not wake up in a puddle of blood. Imagine being able to go to the beach for a whole day and not have to worry about changing a tampon. Imagine being able to address your period once in the morning, and once right before bed and not having to give it a thought in between. Imagine your bathroom garbage not being a source of embarrassment for sensitive male visitors.

This is my life. You want it, don't you? I know you do. I can see it in your eyes.

Q&A

If you have any questions I haven't added here, I encourage you to ask in the comments!

What's so bad about tampons?
They suck, that's what. First there are very valid ecological concerns: here is a highly artificial product that is thrown away in high volumes after being used for a few hours, not to mention the plastic applicators and wrappers. There is no way to recycle tampons, and they are usually not biodegradable. They are commonly flushed down the toilet to be dealt with by the sewage system. As owners of an older house or a septic system know, the sewage system is not always the best at handling such waste.

Secondly there is the convenience - or lack of it. Compared to pads they can be more convenient, but you still have to carry spare tampons around with you wherever you go. You need a waste basket to dispose of all the packaging as well as a toilet to flush the used tampons. For most people that isn't a problem, but for women who work in locations where there simply aren't any facilities available, such as geological field work, it is a significant concern.

Thirdly, and most importantly, is the health concerns. Tampons contain many toxic chemicals, such as dioxin, which can leach into the body. Tiny fibres - notably rayon - from the tampons themselves frequently enter the body. Tampons also increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), "a potentially fatal illness caused by bacterial toxin." Using high absorbency tampons for extended periods of time can lead to TSS, meaning a tampon user must change their tampons regularly. Tampons are also too absorbent: they frequently absorb natural vaginal mucus, drying out the lining of the vagina which can lead to irritation and abrasions.

In comparison, menstrual cups have no waste, no risk of TSS, no drying or irritating effect, and can be worn for... well, nearly as long as you want to. (About 12 hours is where the manufacturers say, but you can leave them in longer if you want)

Okay, so, how do they work?
Menstrual cups are usually made of flexible silicone with a stem attached to the bottom of the cup. The cup, when inserted into the vagina, creates a slight suction seal against the walls of the vagina. This seal prevents any fluid from passing the cup, and the cup collects all the menstrual blood. To remove the cup, you reach in (using the stem to find the cup - many people cut the stems off because they don't really need it) and slip a finger up the side to break the suction seal. You can then pull the cup out and empty it in the toilet, or other drain. You can then wash the cup, or just wipe it off with toilet paper, and then reinsert it.

Is it messy?
You're going to get blood on your hands. If you're dainty about it, you'll only get a bit on your fingers. If you have a catastrophic removal failure, you can end up looking like you crushed someone's jugular with your bare hands. Personally, I usually remove and empty my cup in the shower where I can drip and make a mess and it's not a problem. 99.9% of the time I can remove and empty the cup quite cleanly.

I'll be frank here: if you're uncomfortable with touching your vulva, or you're uncomfortable with touching menstrual blood, a cup probably isn't for you. Unless you're trying to overcome that. In which case, a menstrual cup is a great therapy tool.

At this point, after using a cup for several years, pads or tampons is kind of gross to me. You're either walking around with a wad of blood-soaked material taped in your panties, or else you've got a hunk of cotton shoved up your junk with a little bit of string hanging out. That's creepy. With pads you just throw said bloody bundle in the garbage, and tampons you flush the bloody cotton cork down the toilet. It's messed up, yo. Cups are way more tidy; at least you aren't sitting in your own excretions. :P

Comment Carnival | Meanwhile, 20 children in Africa die of thirst.



I've been trying to get back on a better posting schedule, a post every couple of days, but I've had a nonstop headache this week, which is bullshit, and it's been making me want to avoid backlit screens.

But now I'm introducing a new feature on my blog where I parade surprising, stupid, insightful or funny comments.

Featured comments


Yea, it's a shame to waste all of that sugar and high fructose corn syrup. It had a lot of nutritional value to offer someone.

I'm sure all the starving Somalians will have enjoyed this video.

Who cares? If they wanted water so bad, they'd learn how to fend for themselves and make a better life for themselves like we in America have done. Not our fault they haven't advanced themselves like we have.

In other parts of the world kids are dying 'cause they have nothing to drink and you are wasting it...

100 African children just cried themselves to sleep.

For those of you who don't like this video or feel that its a waste, indulge me. Notice that this video was featured on tosh.0, a show with numerous sponsors and companies buying ad revenue. The more popular this video becomes, the more popular tosh.0 becomes and consequently, the more revenue generated by companies sponsoring the tosh.0 show.  If these companies generate enough revenue, they will then be able to expand their workforce. Therefore, this vomiting cup saved or created 217 jobs.

All right motherfuckers. Get your pale, healthy asses down in your ergonomic computer chairs and shut the fuck up for a second here.

Yes, there are starving children in Africa. There are starving children on every fucking continent, with the probable exception of Antarctica. There are starving children in your own goddamn city, but they're too close for you to comfortably use in an attack on someone's Youtube video, aren't they? Because the obvious retort is "Go feed the fuckers," isn't it?

It's just too easy to look at someone wasting a litre of fountain pop and scream about the poor, starving children that are thousands of miles away, since you personally are not morally obligated to do anything to help them because of that huge physical distance.

You do know the main reason there are starving children all over the world, don't you? It's politics, not resources. It's politics, not money. It's politics, not some kid pouring pop down the drain. Politics is the reason that thousands of pounds of vital supplies and food sit, unused, in an African port somewhere until it's all stolen or rotting. You really have no right to sit on your personal computer, with Internet you've paid for, complaining in the comment section of a video that someone else is wasting water. Get off your high fucking horse, sell your fucking computer and go dig some goddamn wells before trying to pull that shit.

If you want to scream about wasting water, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you aren't a hypocrite.

So how does it feel to share the bathwater of your entire family, hmm? Does your bathroom reek of urine since you don't flush as often to conserve water? I hope you never let your milk expire and are always able to finish your drinks when you go to a restaurant. I'm guessing that your lawn is sad and brown during the high summer, because it would be such a waste to use potable water on mere lawn plants.

Water isn't scarce in most of the western world. We have huge amounts of the stuff falling from the sky, rivers swollen with snow melt and natural springs. That's just geographic luck. All of that water that is "wasted" is, in fact, treated, cleaned and released back to nature to reenter the water cycle and eventually return to be used again, and again and again. It's kind of how the ecosystem works.

We can't just fill up shipping containers with water and fly them into Africa, you know.

Look, I know why you're doing this.

You're just cranky and you couldn't think of anything else to criticize (there weren't any girls in this video for you to call ugly) so you fell to the absolute lowest common denominators: "STARVING CHILDREN" and "GET A LIFE."

You probably don't even know what it means to BE a starving child. You're just upset that someone's having fun with their life and you aren't. If you want a taste of your own medicine try this:

- Don't enjoy sex because there are women in the world who aren't give then option of consenting
- Don't eat more than the bare minimum of vegetables because there are children in the world who subsist only on rice and are slowly dying of nutritional deficiencies.
- Don't do bad in school or complain about homework because there are people in the world who will never have an education
- Don't get bored when sitting in church because there are people in the world who will be killed for practicing your religion

There are always people who are worse off than you. Their existence doesn't control your life, so don't try to use the same excuse to control others' lives.

Cunt.

BATTLEPANTIES (and gurl gamers)

Hi. :)
I have a vagina, and I play video games.

I'm not into Mario, Pacman or Tetris; I didn't grow up kicking my brother's ass at Street Fighter. Shit, it's only been the last few years that video games interested me at all. It started with City of Heroes and Oblivion, and then TF2 was my babby's first FPS. (In the glory days, mind you, before the hat fiasco. "Hatageddon," as T insists it be called.) And really, it's not that FPS-y.

In recent years I've played the shit out of Killing Floor, Borderlands, L4D2 and, recently, APB [Reloaded]. I've sampled several MMOs, including Rift and Warhammer online. I've wasted away many hours in other games that mostly turned out to be shit but were fun for a drunken LAN.

Girls play non-casual video games too.

It's frustrating that people treat girls differently in video games. There's plenty of girls out there who will take advantage of that - loudly proclaiming to be gamer girls, presumably in the hopes of being raised upon a pedestal and fawned over by thousands of desperate male gamers. You see this most often at comic cons - hundreds of girls wearing little more than bodypaint and tape. And what's with the "sexifying" of characters? Aren't there enough scantily-clad female characters you can dress up as without having to be a "sexy" pikachu or a "sexy" stormtrooper?


TBH, I just want to play the damn games. I want to be able to use voice chat and not cause a wave of snap judgments to be made about me because I have a female voice. I don't want to be whispered with "Ur char is sexxxxy ;)." I don't want to be given free gold and special treatment. Some games don't even give me the option of playing as a female (I'm lookin' at you, TF2 and Killing Floor), which is - frankly - insulting. It's as if females aren't even considered. And, no, I don't like to pose naked while covered in console controllers.

I notice the odd treatment quite a lot more in APB than in any other game I've played; probably because the City of Heroes community was, comparatively, quite mature and I otherwise don't tend to play games with online communities. There have been several times in APB where someone in district (global) chat would say, "It's not like any real girls play this game. All the female chars are just dudes." I would say something at this point, but really... what's the point? No one would believe me, and if they did I would just get spammed with bullshit.

But most earnestly, I don't want to be forced to wear battlepanties.


Costume sets/intro art for Sacred 2

This is terrible for my immersion, and fantasy is the worst culprit. Do you honestly think a tank is going to run into the fray wearing nothing but a thong and a chestplate that is little more than a golden bowl strapped to each tit? Don't those mages get cold wearing only silken wrappings? And I've worn leather before. Those rogues would be nothing but a bundle of creaking and tinkling buckles.

There's a strange disconnect between female and male fantasy armour sets. The men turn out like they're literal tanks, piled high with ridiculous greeble, while there seems to be some sort of law that women much have bare thighs and bare tummies.



And, oh boy, the games that have enough body customization to include a "breast size" slider? Bahahaha. APB is one of them; most of the female criminals and enforcers are rocking around in bikinis, thongs, thigh-highs and EEE breasts. It's extremely impractical, what with all the bullets, grenades, dirty alleys, ladders, car explosions and other related chaos that you encounter in a typical San Paro day. I recognize that a community made almost entirely of seventeen year old boys is going to be full of naked women, but the company itself hasn't done much to encourage other behaviours. They offer six different styles of bra, and only one type of t-shirt. It's pretty clear what their opinion of the whole thing is.

In summary, Down with fan service, Up with immersion

All you guys may say it's fair and all in good fun, but you're not the ones having to prance around in nothing but a girdle of fortitude and stockings of strength.

What's in your bag!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!


There comes a time in every girls life where she talks about what's in her purse.

To the Internet.
  1. Hair bow These bows are the best. I can get all my hairs in them like a ponytail, or just use it to get hair off my face. Usually I end up with five of them in my purse, as I like to let my hair down at night once it cools off and I just toss whatever bow I was wearing into my purse.


  2. Sunglasses Of course, only in the summer. People who wear sunglasses in a city during the winter are douchebags. I have a second pair that I sometimes wear when I don't mind standing out...

    But, I try to avoid wearing sunglasses as much as possible. When I was a kid I was very self-conscious about my big nose. I don't know if it was actually big or if I just perceived it that way (It's possible I "grew into it" by now) but I still feel self-conscious about that part of my face.

    Which is ridiculous, I know, but there ain't much I can do about it.

  3. Kleenex I think I should start carrying around a little umbrella. You know how when you have an umbrella with you, it never rains? It's like that for me and kleenex. The moment I take the pack of kleenex out fo my purse, I start getting colds and allergies and bullshit. I don't fucking know. So, I keep kleenex in my purse even though I almost never have to use it.

    And yes, I call it motherfuckin' kleenex. None of this "tissue" bullshit; I'm not french

    That makes sense because my step-father's french family used to insist on calling them "tissues," but they also called napkins "serviettes" which is weird as hell. They'd ask me to "pass a serviette" and I'd be like, "The fuck do you want? SPOON? TEACUP? What is this serviette voodoo!? ... fucking... what, do you want this? what are you pointing at? That napkin? What the hell, bitch."

    The worst part is, they used to same word for paper towels, too.

  4. Pencil and Eraser You know that old joke about the eraser on the pencil being only a fraction of the amount of lead graphite?

    Oh, and be careful using the expression "a fraction of..." around annoyingly smart people. Because, in all technicality, 1/1 is a fraction, as is 2/1 and the usual 1/2, etc. Everything is a fraction.

    Well, it's worse for mechanical pencils, because you can always reload them with tiny graphite sticks. So I keep a full eraser in my purse to go with the mechanical pencils I use.

  5. Loki My EeePC, of course. I love that name, by the way. I thought it was kind of fruity at first (Just like the Wii) but then I realized you can draw out the name in a high pitched squeak and annoy all my friends. "EEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeee!"

    Netbooks are the best; way better than laptops. It's only a couple pounds and it fits right into my purse, along with my notebooks for school. Course, I also have a desktop PC, so I don't even have a use for a full-featured, heavy laptop. People who own only laptops freak me out a little, to be honest.

  6. Snack I like to keep a snack or two in my purse so that when I'm sitting somewhere bored and digging around in it, I find a yummy surprise. Today it was a pack of gushers that have, more than likely, melted into one mass of artificial colours and sticky goo.

    They also have a thoughtful warning on them! Gushers cares about the life of your child.

"Horrible Bosses" and why can't I just watch movies like a normal person



This week I saw Horrible Bosses.

Being a comedy, which are notoriously hit-or-miss, I wasn't sure what to expect but.... it has a very fleshed out cast and is starring Jason Bateman, whom I absolutely adore. (COUNTING MUTANT) I figured the chances were pretty good that it would be more on the hit side than the miss side. And hey, we had four free movie tickets, four bored friends and one hot-as-hell summer evening.

Turns out it was thoroughly enjoyable, and I certainly got some good giggles out of it. (I could have done without being in a full theatre and having, effectively, a live laugh track. Other people's laughter is terribly annoying.)

But this post isn't about the movie.

This post is about sexual harassment.

As you can gather from the trailer, one of the bosses (Dr. Harris) was an attractive female who was heavily flirting with her employee, Dale.

Flirting?

Who the fuck am I kidding.

It was sexual harassment. You can tell that from the trailer; were a male employer to spray a female employee with water to turn their clothing transparent, no one would call that "flirting." Using blackmail and potential loss of a job to force an employee to perform sexual favours? That's cut and dry sexual harassment. Of course, in the real world, such unwanted advances from an attractive woman against a man isn't considered harassment. In that case, the male is just "lucky." Therefore, the harassment is soon supplemented with the threat of showing Dale's fiancee photos of Dr. Harris in, er, compromising positions with (an unconscious) Dale.

I had a bit of a sick revelation during a short clip where Dr. Harris sneaks up behind Dale and proceeds to lick and nibble on his ears before giving his nipples a tweak. In my head I momentarily swapped the genders involved. Can you imagine a comedy with a scene where a male boss does that to a female employee against her will?

It made me shudder.

And yes, the reactions of the two male friends who know of the harassment is predictable. They respond to the blackmail, of course, but the harassment is just "lucky." Dale is still earnestly concerned about it, but the threat of losing his job and his fiance is enough to keep him quiet.

This is a real problem. This exact situation really happens every day - though it's usually perpetrated against women. I suppose that's what makes this situation suitable for a comedy: the idea of an attractive woman (who is able to "get" other guys, if she wants) aggressively harassing a man is almost unheard of, and therefore is something we can laugh at.

So there we go, two nasty ideas for the price of one: women don't normally crave sex enough to be aggressive about it and it's not a big deal for a man to be sexually harassed by a woman. Of course, I wasn't expecting this to be a particularly feminist movie - even the trailers preceding a 14A movie tend to be rather tasteless - but sometimes it's nice to be able to enjoy mainstream media without that little feminist critic in my head screaming and pointing like an angry monkey. At the very least, I suppose, maybe this movie will open some discussion on sexual harassment against men. Though I doubt it.

There was one nice little tidbit though.

The two other main characters, at one point, turn to Dale to settle an argument over which of the two of them would be more "rapeable" if they were to go to prison. (Each thought they were more attractive and therefore more likely to be raped)

"Nick of course," Dale says after almost no thought.
"Why is that?"
"Rape is about vulnerability and weakness," says Dale.

"FUCKING A!" screamed the little critic in my head. "I LOVE YOU!"

Clydesdales and toothbrushes

I loaded up a toothbrush with a big 'ole gob of toothpaste and shoved it in my mouth.

...
...
Something was wrong. Something was terribly, terribly wrong.

I immediately whirled around to face T and pointed an accusatory toothbrush at his (somewhat startled) face.

"YOU'VE BEEN USING MY TOOTHBRUSH!"

How dare you! My toothbrush was perfectly happy and healthy until you got your... your... your dirty teeth all over it! I can tell you've been using it because I have never met another person who is so violent with toothbrushes that the bristles fan out like some kind of fucking ... horse foot.

You know those horses with the tassels on their feet. Not tassels, but their hair kind of flounces out about their ankles. Flared jeans remind me of them. Fancy, prancy-face horses.

Anyway.

I have never met someone who can destroy a toothbrush so viscously and so quickly. For a scrawny boy with no muscle, he manages to summon unreal amounts of power for the sole purpose of grinding toothbrush bristles against his teeth.

I have a new toothbrush, by the way. It's green.

"I want the one with more bristles," he says when we're in the toothbrush aisle at WalMart.
"More bristles for YOU TO BREAK!?" I glare at him.

*glare glare*

That boy will never touch my toothbrush again.

Or else.

It's too fucking hot for anything else




"Look at this bunny! Look at this bunny walking!" I said to T, "This bunny wants a treat."

He smiled just enough to appease me and then went back to his IDE

I suppose that is one of the main differences between him and I.

Rabbits walking on their hind legs > tedious copy and pasting of code

The things I fear

We all have things that can keep up awake at night, or things that startle us from slumber, or things that make out stomachs plummet out of our bodies. Fear is a very strong emotion, and it probably the most effective teacher. The thing is, we have evolved far beyond the simple lives of our ancestors and our fears have become more complex and confusing to match our lives. Most people get nervous when ricking bodily harm, such as standing on the edge of a tall building, or risking social harm, such as public speaking... but what about your other fears? What of the rational, irrational and WTF fears that plague your dreams, that make you feel sick and scared, that make others look at you strangely?

The Rational

Listening to someone choke to death over VoIP My friends and I spend a lot of time chatting over Skype while playing video games. My friends are also, apparently, really bad multitasking. You'd think it would be easy enough to eat and not inhale at the same time, but I guess Mother Nature was feeling a little sloppy when she designed the esophagus (or it's a skill my lovely friends have yet to master) Every time I hear one of the bastards coughing, my heart stops. Imagine hearing someone struggle for air and not being anywhere nearby to help them... imagine having to listen to your best friend die in an absolutely pointless way, and not being able to do anything about it. *shudder*

Returning home to find the apartment ransacked/rabbits dead Even during short vacations that are only two or three days, I get bouts of worry over the apartment being broken into, or the rabbits getting sick. Opening the door after returning is always a very tense moment until I can see that everything is perfectly okay.

Forgetting how to breathe I stuck this under rational because I do occasionally suffer from sleep apnea. There are few things more alarming than waking up to find yourself not breathing and then momentarily forgetting how to draw a breath. I fear the day that I don't remember in time.

My heart stopping Related to the above, I also fear my heart stopping. Again, this is for a reason: my whole family gets heart palpitations (my grandfather has a pacemaker). Sometimes my heart will double-beat and then miss the next beat. If I don't stop it, it can go on like that indefinitely. Providing I'm not frozen in fear, I can clear my throat and cough a little and it resumes a normal rhythm... though sometimes it takes a moment for me to remember how to make it stop. Your heart "skipping a beat" is not romantic in any way.

The Irrational

Tsunamis For as long as I can remember, during periods of stress in my life, my dreams are full of tsunamis. I'll dream that I'm at a beach, and in the distance I see a giant wave bearing down on me. The dream then turns into a race up cliff faces, staircases and sand dunes to get to safety before the wave reaches the shore. Of course, I've never seen a tsunami, and living deep inland in Canada means I'll probably never be in any danger from them... and I suspect that's precisely why they feature so heavily in my dreams.

Making phone calls to strangers T and I get into arguments about who should call for a taxi/pizza/information, because we both occasionally panic when needing to make a phone call. If I have to call someone to make an appointment or get some information, sometimes I have to take a day or two to prepare for the task.

Stairs/elevators/escalators I, apparently, have a lot of anxiety surrounding multi-story buildings. In my dreams I have infinite problems with staircases and elevators - the stairs are steep near to the point of being vertical, the steps are so narrow that you can only fit half your foot on each. They routinely have whole sections missing, requiring me to scale a wall with only a handrail for support. The elevators regularly plummet, spin, and turn me upside-down. In real life I get a sick, stomach-plummeting feeling every time I step onto an elevator, and a shiver of relief every time I step off. I'll occasionally freeze at the top of a staircase before descending, feeling like I'm going to trip and fall. Knowing I'm going to trip and fall.

The WTF?

Invisible cars I don't trust people who drive cars. I hate crossing roads. I refuse to cross at a crosswalk if the signal is anything but "WALK" - I will not sprint across while it's flashing. (This annoys my friends to no end, I imagine) Even when I'm crossing "safely," after looking both ways, I experience momentary terror at the thought of an invisible, silent car barrelling towards me. Fuck you, Bond.

I have no friends I can't express this fear out loud too often, because it's extremely insulting... but sometimes I get stricken with the fear that all my friends (and T) are putting on a show or act for some other gain, and that everyone secretly hates me.

Waking up to find it was all a dream I don't think I have to elaborate on this one too much. What if the past five years were only a dream? What if I wake up to find myself back in high school again? That would be absolutely terrible. High school is the worst.

I am the centre of the universe and I don't know it. I sometimes get an eerie feeling when I catch strangers staring at me. Say I'm in a car, idly looking at the passing scenery, and someone half a block away on the sidewalk stares directly at me until we pass by. Who the hell stares at people in passing cars? Why would they stare at me? Is there something about myself I don't know? What if the universe is a creation of my imagination, and everyone who inhabits it knows this, but they can't let me know because if I realize it the whole world will fall apart at the edges?

Airstrikes If I hear an unexpected siren, a low-flying airplane or a distant boom, I get gripped with the fear that we are being attacked by enemy planes dropping atomic bombs on my tiny city. I don't know why sirens set off this fear, because my little Canadian city certainly has no airstrike warning system in place, but there it is.

Sound a little paranoid?
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"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."