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Alas, it is the end of another calendar year. A universal measuring stick. I've been somewhat contemplative the past few days, and I have also realized that I do this on the annual day I celebrate my birth onto this ball that circles the sun.

In reality, I guess we're all constantly self-evaluating and self-improving. Even if it's evaluating how much of an asshole we've been in the past year and how much more of an asshole we can be in the next year. Eh, it's all good.

As for me... I just set goals and such. Reading goals, writing goals, financial goals, project goals... A year ago, I was hoping to have a sellable novel by this point. Well, instead, I have improved my writing a little, and I'm giving serious thought to looking up some markets and seeing if I can sell "Christmas Spirit" to a magazine or anthology for Christmas 2014. Not quite was I was originally angling for, but, hey, it's a start. I at least have enough confidence in it to make the effort.

Tonight will likely be a quiet night. My sister and brother-in-law are over for dinner. I have an invite to a party later on, but, I'm not feeling entirely social, so, I think I'm going to skip out on it this year. I can't see feeling lonely out in public when I can be lonely at home, so, yeah. Maybe I'll get a little more reading done.

Speaking of reading...

Here's what I read in 2013... )

Comics )
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Alas, it is Caturday. I have had a productive day. I got most of the housework done. Things like cat boxes and bird cages and whatnot. I'm sitting here realizing that I've only got five days left of my break. It doesn't seem like long enough. At the same time, I was actually glad to have some stuff to do today. It gave my day a little more structure than what I've had the past few days.

That's the thing with this big Christmas/New Years break - The first half of it is so busy with last-minute Christmas prep, and then...nothing. I had hoped this would give me some extra time for reading and writing, but I was so exhausted from...everything...afterwards that I just plain didn't have the mental energy needed for jumping into writing. I'm just about back to my normal level of reading, though.

I'm working on closing out files for 2013 and starting files for 2014. I sincerely hope 2014 is a better year. Granted, 2013 was off to a rough start, largely with the problems at work and with the car needing a transmission overhaul. And no one's said boo to me at work since March, and the car is doing well with new tires and the new blower motor. In 2014, I need to get the windshield replaced, and then it'll be due for inspection at the end of the summer. Joy. Between now and then, I'm hoping to maybe at least patch the hole with something. Doct tape, maybe. And continue to use that rust inhibitor and maybe get some spray-on car paint to deal with some of the worst rust blemishes and see if that doesn't improve the appearance enough that the State inspectors won't actively try to fail it again this year.

Financially, I'm about where I was a year ago. Maybe a little bit better, since what I still owe Gary for the tires is less than what I owed him for the engine at this point a year ago. The only other roblem with the car I see in the immediate future is needing to replace the power window motors. The one on the passenger side has been dead for over a year, but I don't think I need it to pass inspection. The one on the driver's side still works, and I need it to work in general, what with needing to put it up and down every time I park my car in the garage on campus. Fortunately, it's only a $200-$300 repair, if need be.

I'm also hoping to be able to see my optmetrist and get contact lenses again.

Oh, and I'll still need to get money set aside for Minerva and her $600 dental work that she needs.

In other news... I've noticed my sleep has been better this break. Usually, I fall into a habit of staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning during the break and sleeping in until noon. This year, I've been waking up around nine or so and going to bed at my "normal" time. I'm thinking the androderm patches are having some luck in regulating my sleep/wake cycle a bit better. My energy is a little better, though my back is still giving me problems. I'm not devouring Christmas cookies like I was at the beginning of the break. I don't think I've gained more than a pound. With the energy level being a little better, I'm getting antsy. Thing is, I have so many little, organizational projects, my biggest problem is picking a place to start and just...starting. I'm not yet freaking out over the fact that my break is more than half over, but, depending on what I get done in the next day or so will determine how much I freak out on Wednesday.

I'm also trying to finish up a few books before the end of the year. Especially Neal Stephenson's Anathem. I liked he beginning of it, and I'm liking the end of it. The middle kind of lost me in a few places, but things started making sense at the end. Next up is Reamde, by the same author. Stephenson tends to write near 1000 page tomes, and part of wanting to get through these books is the fact that they're heavy to carry around. I mean, I got Reamde about a month before I got my Kindle. Anything else he writes will go on the Kindle.

Did I mention how I wrote about 17k words from early October through mid-December? I...haven't written that much in a long, long time. But now, I need to work on outlines, which is maybe a little harder to measure than actually writing a story, since word count is useless (for me, anyway) and I'm looking more at how many scenes I map out. But I'm still fleshing out settings and such. I've also found some security in giving myself "permission" to sketch physical scenes, such as rooms, to help myself better visualize elements of a story. And then I'll go ahead and describe those scenes. Because I don't think any of you wants to be subjected to my drawing tragedies.

Looking ahead... I'm hoping I'll at least continue dancing regularly in 2014. Part of me is tempted to start taking lessons again as soon as I pay off Gary, but, responsibility sets in, and I'll likely use that money to pay off other debts and to save for any other emergencies. I'm hoping I can get into a routine or, maybe more accurately, a rhythm with regards to outlining/mapping stories.

Oh, and a big THANK YOU to everyone who actually took the time to read "Terminator:East" and "Christmas Spirit" and comment on them. Such commenting boosts my morale and encourages me to keep writing.

On a final note... I watched the Original Trek episode "Dagger of the Mind" today with Rocky and Yoda. It's about as close to a Star Trek Christmas episode as we get. And maybe I should be...concerned...that Rocky and Yoda had their own running commentary as we were watching it.

More later...

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Damn, only two more days of the holiday break. I had hoped for a few days where I'd wake up around 8 or 9, get breakfast, then work on writing until 2 or 3, then read for a bit, then maybe a little more writing, then gaming. Unfortunately, the break turned out to be a little busier than I anticipated with house stuff and errands. And sleep.

I'm almost done John Scalzi's Redshirts: A Novel With Three Codas. I've been highly amused by the main narrative, and I still have two codas to go. After I read the main narrative, I was ready to make a vow to not kill any characters in my novels, and I'm glad I read that first coda before making any such vow. That first coda also has given me a lot to think about with regards to writing in general, as well as writer's block and so on. I need to stop being so lazy and start pushing myself.

Tying some things together... I think I may be anemic. I mean, since September, I've been denied at the blood bank for my hemoglobin being too low. And my energy level has been down, too. Hence the extra sleeping over the break. And having a hard time getting myself motivated to work on stuff around the house, and even writing. Now, given my esophageal issues and GERD, there's a link there with anemia in that nutrients aren't being properly absorbed into my body. And then there's the Nexium, which may be hitting my bones and affecting my marrow in that red blood cells aren't being manufactured in the right numbers or in the right way. Lastly, there's an infinitesimal chance that kidney stone back at the beginning of the year did something to my kidney and my erythropoietin is down. Yeah, I kind of doubt that last one. Now, since work is kind of shitty about allowing me to use time I've earned, and since I have a backlog of things to take care of as a result, it may be February or March before I go to the doctor to get this addressed. In the meantime, I'm taking B-complex vitamin supplements and switching to a Flintstones chewables vitamin with iron for my multi-vitamin.

In any event, I'm hoping this is something that can be addressed with vitamin supplements and not require shots or anything. Still, I'm...annoyed. First, there was the whole sleep apnea and sleep disorder thing, and now this. I'm tired of this damn meat sack conspiring against me to where I'm just existing instead of living. Anyway, we'll see. Oh, and all this might be a significant contributor to the whole weight-loss thing. If my body's having a hard time absorbing nutrients from food, this might explain extra hunger and such, and might explain metabolic issues causing me to store fat instead of burning it.

But, I am determined to, eventually, get this all figured out and dealt with. Who knows? Maybe by March, the vitamins and such will have given me the boost I need, and the trip to the doctor will just result in some tests to make sure there's not some underlying major thing going on and I'll already be bouncing back by then.

In sucktacular news, Trek author and comic book writer Peter David had a stroke. Please keep him and his family in your prayers or thoughts.

Comics )
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Woke up with a nasty headache and sinus congestion. I blame the weather, the impending heat wave, and everyone cutting their grass over the past few days. Including myself. And tonight, I've had some esophagitis issues and resultant anxiety. I am Not Happy. To round all this out, I had some anxiety this morning, since I had nightmares all last night and woke up several times. So, I didn't sleep well. Despite that, I couldn't seem to sleep for more than an hour at a time during the day. So, in addition to the anxiety, I have a decidedly disconnected feeling today.

Rocky pretty much stayed with me all day, whether I was napping or downstairs watching TV. He, Yoda, Bonnie, and I finished watching Terminator 2: Judgment Day and started watching season two, volume one of the original Transformers. You know, the introduction of Spike's girlfriend, Carlie, has Carlie as a rather strong female character. She's not only a grad student at MIT, but she also manages to hang out with the Autobots and even plants a bomb on Decepticon HQ. And her grasp of particle physics allows her to sabotage Wheeljack's stolen invention - the Immobilizer (which sounds like a knee brace used right after surgery to me). She's just shy of a Mary Sue character, which makes her a welcome addition instead of annoying.

I still say T2 is an awesome movie and not only my favorite Terminator movie, but also one of my all-time favorites. Sadly, it's depressing on how, in the same way no one listens to Sarah Connor, our defense department doesn't listen to many people about programming machines to do our killing for us. Terminators, Cylons... We're screwed because human hubris makes those people think they'll stay in control. Then again, because we can't value other human lives, we're pretty much boned in any event.

To be clear: I'm not against artificial intelligence. In fact, done right, AI can be more human than human intelligence. And when you program a machine to not kill, but rather to protect life, as Asimov does, then we get Data, KITT, and Emergency Medical Holograms. It's creating machines that can learn to kill that bothers me. It's bad enough that we kill, but, and apologies if this seems a bit cavalier, but, have we gotten so lazy that we need machines to kill for us? If that's the case, then maybe we deserve what we've got coming to us.

But then, I lose faith in humanity a little bit every day...

Books read so far in 2012... )

Comics )
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Thus far, it's been a lazy Caturday. After taking care of Lily and Loki, and feeling overwhelmed from the heat, I just lazed around and napped. I figured I'd just do the desert animal survival thing and sleep/take it easy during the day and be active in the cooler hours of the night.

So now, I'm making this entry, and then will get to work. Woot?

Reading Update: Books Read in 2012 )

Comics )
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HAPPY BIRFDAY [personal profile] awallens!!!

Feeling a little drained at the moment. Today was my appointment at the blood bank. Alas, I wasn't able to do the ALYX donation, since my hemoglobin was too low. It was great for whole blood donation, but not for them taking twice as many RBCs away. It could be allergies, or it could be asthma. In any event, I may try ALYX later. Maybe even over winter. In the meantime, whole blood donation is still pretty damn good, and I'll be donating again in July.

Since then, I've been getting some weekend chore stuff done and napping. Really feeling drained this time around. Probably still a little out of it from the severe GERD bout the other night. On the bright side, this is a lite chore weekend, so, hopefully, it'll be a nice, relaxing, recharging, restful weekend for me. Then again, the stepgoggies are here.

On a semi-related note... I'm reading Jackson Galaxy's book Cat Daddy. I've tried the "I Love You" blink with TomTom, but, so far, there's no reaction. Then again, he's pretty secure anyway, so... Yeah. Last night, he was sleeping on my head, as usual, and I touched his paw. In response, the purring went from "idling lawnmower" to "Saturn V rocket" and he insisted on licking my face. Not really a problem, except for the really bad fishy cat food breath. Oh well. Both Rocky and TomTom like that contact thing... Many times, I wake up and one of them has a paw resting lightly on my face or my hand.

My sister's cat, MiMi, used to crawl under the covers so she could snuggle under my chin. I still miss her, but, at least she opened a place in my sister's life for Lily.

You know... I really think the side project memoir of all the furkids I've had might stand a good chance for publication, all things considered. Gods know I have enough amusing stories of all the cats, dogs, and parrots, not to mention stories of their interactions together, from Yoda liking to ride on Boomer's head, to Nemo making Sugar psychotic with respect to squeaky toys, and back to Yoda for trying to teach the cats to say his name. Then I think about the times I lay on the couch and Yoda asks, "You okay there, bud?" Like he's going to do anything if I'm not okay. And the time TomTom and Rocky got me when Mom couldn't get up after her hip replacement. Or Rocky waking me up earlier this week when the house had no power, I had no alarm clock, and I needed to get to work.

When I hear stories of other peoples' pets performing similar intelligent acts of helpfulness and loyalty, I have to wonder if Human arrogance isn't actually a hindrance in our evaluation of these creatures' intelligence and awareness. One popular test they do on animals in general to disprove their self-awareness is to put them in front of a mirror and watch the animal either react to the image as a threat or whatever, but to not give any evidence that they recognize the image as themselves. And yet...four weeks ago, Bridgett and Brandon were on the steps, which have a mirror at the bottom, and they were at eye level of the mirror. They saw me coming in the mirror, then looked at me. Then they saw other movement and turned around to see TomTom at the top of the steps. In short, they were reacting to the reflection and understood that they saw the reflections of other actions and looked at the appropriate areas. I'm not sure if this has been replicated in a laboratory setting. Now, this doesn't quite go with the whole "mark them with lipstick and see if they try to wipe it off" thing, though (1) I see humans at Rocky Horror who don't remove the lipstick... Maybe these animals think that they're being marked in some sort of initiation like the kids going to RHPS. Maybe (2), given their lesser acuity, they don't really see the lipstick or they aren't familiar enough with their own reflection to know that something's different. I mean, honestly, we tend not to see certain zits right away or notice the formation of certain scars. In conclusion, I think the animals are fucking with us. Intentionally. So that they get spoiled with toys, food, and have the supposedly superior race fetch food for them, clean up their poop, pay for their food and health care, and show them off to their friends. A bit of an oversimplification? Perhaps. But the intelligence of cooperation, adaptability, routine, and so on is still there and higher than what people in general are aware of. Then again, I'm still convinced that the average person is an idiot.

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As posted on Facebook...

[profile] infinitydog, [profile] daytonward, and Kevin Dilmore did with Star Trek: Vanguard what, in my opinion, J.J. Abrams' reboot failed to do: Bring in new adventures in the Original Series Trek era without mucking up continuity. Unlike the Abrams reboot, they did not need to create an alternate Universe as a cop-out to avoiding continuity, they did not piss on "treknology" (my biggest gripe with Abrams' reboot), and the eye candy was all in the readers' minds with top-notch wordsmithing and eloquence. Though, Doug Drexler's CGI covers did indeed inspire some very good visual aids, allowing an exception on the old "you can't judge a book by its cover" rule. The characters are as real and developed as the original Trek characters, yet the series has a darker, grittier, more visceral (and less clich├ęd) tone, with TONS of the social commentary Trek is known for, presenting conflicts that make the reader truly think about things. I highly recommend these books to any Trek fan as well as to any science fiction fan who may not have previously been a fan of Star Trek.

I've just barely started reading the last book in the series, Storming Heaven, so I can't yet say that it has a satisfying ending. Yes, David Mack has a penchant for killing off characters and radically altering the Trek universe in general, as evidenced in his equally well-written Destiny trilogy, however, since he has to line things up with original series continuity, he can only do so much. And there are only two characters who are "safe," since they're meeting a few years after the end of the series, so, we know they, at least, survive.

I know most fans think the Abrams' reboot is a wonderful thing. While I'm not going to sit here and rail on how I really didn't care for it, on how Abrams may have created an alternate timeline to cover his lack of respect for the established canon of the property, yet has completely ignored any of the technological principles established, such as limitless transporter range and why starships are built in space, or Spock severely pissing on any kind of temporal directives, I'll settle for saying that others are free to enjoy Abrams' reboot, but I could take it or leave it, preferably leaving it.

Vanguard, while having Kirk and others more as "guest stars," still puts Trek back on the map. Rockne O'Bannon, when creating Farscape, wanted something that was antithetical to Star Trek, and thus we got limited technobabble with Crichton at one point saying, "Einstein, Newton, Hawking... We prove them wrong every time we pop out for groceries. I can't explain it, I just use it." We had a ship without a captain for a little more than half the series. We had escaped prisoners instead of military-trained professionals. Then we got Ron Moore's re-imaging of Battlestar Galactica, which was initially awesome, with it's social messages for a post-9/11 America and easily recognizable, morally ambiguous characters. Now, Next Gen and DS9 slowly crossed that threshold from "lite sci-fi" to "getting a little darker," especially when DS9 dealt with the Dominion War. But Ron Moore, who also worked on DS9 with Ira Steven Behr, succeeded, at least initially, with his BSG reboot. Now, we have "reboot craze" where everyone tries to take stuff from the past and "modernize it and do it right." Most of the time, this is failing horribly (lookin' at Michael Bay, his extrasplodey Transformers and his alien turtles...). Hell, even Moore managed to screw up BSG. Like he just stopped even trying in the third season, and rather than tell a good story, he went for shock and awe. I think that's what Abrams did in his Trek reboot as well, and while that may appeal to the masses, I think I'd rather have a good story.

That is why Mack, Ward, Dilmore, Michael Martin, Andy Mangels, Kirsten Beyer, William Bennett, Geoffrey Thorne, and all the others whom I may not remember off the top of my head, have succeeded in constantly reinventing Trek without losing any of Roddenberry's core values for the property. Characters face dilemmas, ambiguous situations, and they grow, and we grow a little bit with them. The Vanguard series, as well as Titan, Typhon Pact, and the marvelous job Kirsten Beyer has done with Voyager (making it, in my opinion, better than what we ever saw on screen), has all kept Trek alive and well, keeping the characters relevant and the speculations going. If a character dies, then the death had a purpose, if only to show that there are casualties and not everyone makes it out alive.

What's more... When disaster strikes, as it often does with Mr. Mack, we don't see the frantic soldier, screaming and cursing, and just feel nothing but shock. Instead, we see a soldier, swearing like a sailor, but actually retaining some sort of professionalism. He sees who else is still with him, prioritizes his group's objectives, and then works with others to survive. There's an optimism there that, even though shit happened and people made mistakes, we still see these characters trying to do the right thing, not giving up, analyzing a problem, and working to solve it until the bitter end. In short, we get heroes not because they're overly talented and save the day, but because at the end, they try to do the right thing, despite obstacles, and even if one of those obstacles is himself.

Thanks, guys. Keep up the good work, and though Vanguard has ended, I hope you'll all continue to expand the Trek universe.

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Yeah, I kept the blog "dark" in support of protests for SOPA and censorship.

I mean, seriously, can we really prevent widespread piracy? Or content-sharing? What would be next? Having to pay a fee and apply for permission to sing "Happy Birthday"? Being fined for quoting movies? As is, I'm kind of surprised the RIAA hasn't shut down karaoke bars. I mean, they've damn near come close to shutting down gyms and dance studios. I never advertised myself as a DJ for hire because technically I can't just go somewhere and play music without risking getting into a hell of a lot of trouble. I can do so at TTL and such because they're already raped up the ass without lube charged exorbitant fees to...provide music for us dancers to, you know, dance to.

And in another venue, something SOPA could put a crushing end to is fan fic. (Yes, SOPA could end far more things than fan fic, but, I'm going with more personal things to kind of narrow down my example machine.) Okay, so, those of us writing fan fic could still do so and just not share it on the internet. But there are whole groups who write and read each others' fan fic, and this has been greatly facilitated, and would then be greatly crippled, by SOPA.

Hell, even here on LJ and DW, how many icon groups are there? And why do we use a pop cult icon with a witty saying? Because it expresses something we're feeling or want to share. Fan vids, fan fic, icons, LOL cats, movie quotes, music lyrics, karaoke... They are all artistic manifestations of the human need to express. Indeed, it also emphasizes the importance of and need for art in general in society.

Dorkgasm has this post about sharing leading to interest. I share this link because, well, it's relevant. In fact, it even mentions Nine Inch Nails, which I became interested in after seeing a BSG fan vid with Baltar and Six. There have been several songs and bands I became interested in after seeing a fan vid set to their music.

Geeks are Sexy has a wonderfully comprehensive vid about PIPA and SOPA and the threat they present.

And then there's this cute parody...

In other news, The Mary Sue has an article about George Lucas retiring as a filmmaker. Well, he'll still do smaller projects. My take? Yes, I wish he'd stop screwing around with the original trilogy. Some of the improved effects were cool, but most? I don't think they're an improvement. If they could release a DVD or Blu-Ray where at the menu, you can select which version of effects and added or redone scenes you want, and create your own version, I'd be all over that. For example, in A New Hope, I'd have the scene with Jabba the Hutt, have the dewbacks, but have Han Shot First.

Unlike so many others, I don't think the prequel movies were an abomination. I liked Jango Fett, Qui Gon, and Mace Windu. Granted, this was more in the novelizations of the prequel trilogy, but Palpatine's rise to power, eroding of civil liberties in the name of security, and seducing Anakin to the Dark Side is actually pretty deep and has scores of social commentary on current events. Lucas' flaw, in my own opinion, is that he's a perfectionist and he's got enough clout to give in to his own version of OCD. I can criticize only so much because I have experienced this with my own writing. It's hard, but you have to know when something is done and learn to walk away from it, and still love it in spite of all the flaws you may see.

On a tangent to that, I have to tip my hat to so many authors... Michael Martin and Andy Mangels, James Luceno, Kirsten Beyer, David Mack, Dayton Ward, Geoffrey Thorne, Peter David, J.M. Dillard, Vonda McIntyre, and many more, who have either written novelizations of movies or used (shitty) material from movies of certain franchises and used them for compelling storytelling. I mean, Nemesis sucked, but the Titan novels and the Destiny trilogy and the Typhon Pact books have used Data's death, Romulan politics, and the Next Gen crew going their separate ways to launch some superb storytelling including some serious thought and visceral scenes. Joel Schumacker created the travesty of Batman Forever, but Peter David's novelization of that film thoroughly redeemed that story. Oh, and he did the same thing for Fantastic 4.

And I still say Ward and Dilmore and Mack have created a far more interesting Original Series-era saga with Vanguard than what J.J. Abrams could ever hope to achieve with his Trek reboot. If done right, the movie version of Vanguard would easily blow the Trek reboot out of the water. Unfortunately, the track record of making books into movies is not all that great. I mean, hell, Asimov's The End of Eternity was, actually, an excellent story as well as a compelling argument as to why we shouldn't let our space program stagnate, not to mention a very good twist on the old story of needing to take risks in order to achieve great things, but I'd be hard pressed to come up with a director and actors to do the book justice.

Moving along...

Yes, this post is in the clear. I figure that with the whole censorship thing, I should make this one available to the masses.

Anyway, took Mom to get her pain shots today. She's okay now, but the procedure took more than twice as long as usual.

TomTom does this caterwauling thing, usually at about this time of the night. Well this afternoon, he did it right behind me, and I actually got to watch him. I had always wondered why he did it... Vocalizing his status as the alpha? Mourning the missing people? In pain? Well, when I finally saw him, his face and stance was what I've observed of people when they're singing karaoke. In short, I have a cat who sings.

I think Tom's going to need the same thyroid surgery as YoYo. Fortunately, it's not critical at this juncture, which gives me time to save up money for it. The vet said they're okay as long as they get enough to eat. YoYo is kind of sedate, but TomTom was chasing me through the house when I was taking care of the cat boxes earlier. Not bad for a 15-year-old fuzzball. I think he yells at the birds - and kids - to get the frack off the lawn when we're not home...

Wednesday's Comics )
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HAPPY BELATED BIRFDAY[profile] thumpermarni!!!

HAPPY BIRFDAY [personal profile] lurkitty, [profile] layered_deep, [profile] jonbonjewvi, AND [personal profile] berthablue!!!


Anyway, it's been a busy weekend. Mandie's birfday get-together last night was nice. Good food and all. I'm grateful my sister and I are getting along much better these days. Between last night and today, I've been productive, what with laundry, lunch prep for the week, figuring things out, and so on. I think I know how to rearrange my computer area for better computer spill protection. Ultimately, it may also lead to a more spacious and comfortable work area.

Today (yesterday, actually), I put up what little of the outdoor lights we have and brought up the Christmas decorations. The outdoor lights are set up, but not plugged in. If we want to expand, that's great. But the initial bulk, such as it is, is done, and if it's dark and snowing and freezing, it's just a matter of pulling off the plastic bag and plugging in the setup. And the rest of the stuff is up, so, hopefully, with working on just a little bit here, a little bit there, I can actually enjoy the Christmas season rather than throwing everything up at the last minute, as has been the case for about the last decade. It would be nice to have the tree up and decorated for a week before Christmas and actually enjoy the lights and such.

Alas, my back is quite sore at the moment, though. Fortunately, I have a chiro appointment at the end of the week.

Got LOTS of reading done, too. I'm hoping to get my reading projects down to something a little more manageable. But I have lots of good books that have been on my shelves for a decade, plus trying to get some of the current/contemporary stuff read, plus all the stuff I've already bought for Kindle, plus holiday reading. I'm almost done Jim Butcher's Ghost Story (Dresden Files), and... It's great! I actually gave my sister the first three books of the series for her birfday and hope my anticipation of her enjoying the series, too, is on the mark. I love the pop cult references throughout, especially the Star Wars references. And the Princess Bride reference in Ghost Story was...great! I really hope Mr. Butcher plans more for this series...

I'm also reading Christopher L. Bennett's Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within. It's an e-novella, and it came out last month, but... Some of the stuff with the Unificationists and non-violent protests on the Kinshaya homeworld... Wow! This was written, I'm fairly certain, before the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the parallels aren't perfect, but, can we say, "socially relevant?" I'm only on chapter four, but, given the clashes between police and such, and the scene I just read in the story, I can't help but wonder if police presence and indeed police brutality are intentional to rouse the protesters to where they have to choose between well-being and self-defense, or defending the elderly or handicapped who may be being beaten, in order to make the non-violent civil disobedience into violent rebellion, which then allows the State to 1) use violent and eventually deadly force against protesters and 2) discourage assembly to protest with the excuse that it turns violent and hence turning free speech into something that is a danger to public safety, allowing an argument to exist that the right of peaceable assembly is not safe for democracy. Flawed, I know, and I'm perhaps expressing this inadequately and clumsily, but, something worth thinking about. And this bit (along with wishing my sister natal day felicitations) is why this entry is in the clear and hence able to show up on Networked Blogs on Facebook.

I still need to write my essay on Paine's "Common Sense" and applying it to events going on these days as I see it. I have my notes (thank gods), and when I glance at them, I can remember rather clearly what I intend to write about.

Of course, your mileage may vary (YMMV), and that's okay. If there's anything erupting here or on FB, just...keep it civil, no personal attacks, and agree to disagree.

Back to Mandie's birfday gathering... I have to say, I have party animals here. By that, I mean that TomTom was happy to see my sister and was very present throughout the evening, even settling down next to her while she opened presents and such. He seems to really like it when she visits. Rocky, of course, gets attention from everyone and has a tendency to try to beg food from Scott. And Yoda? Before dinner, he was acting up, so, he ended up in Time Out (cage covered, TV and lights off). Note: avians tend to be quiet when in the dark, thus not giving away their position to predators. Both with the Grey we had before, Nemo, and with the one we have now, Yoda, well, we have to throw that one out the window. While eating dinner, and later, while chatting in the living room, Yoda insisted on being part of the group, even though he was in Time Out in another room, by interjecting into conversations, making noises we had referred to, laughing, and so on. Like Nemo, Yoda gives very situationally-appropriate responses.

And people wonder why I'm unsurprised at animal intelligence. Fascinated, but unsurprised.

Anyway, time for a shower and then bed. I'm hoping my computer will be done tomorrow and I can get it back here and back up and running. That is, done later today. Whatever.

Posted at LiveJournal and Dreamwidth.
wookiemonster: (Default)
Yup, it's been 10 years. It's interesting to see some of what's out there... Some people decry the wars being fought, some decry the loss of liberties for perceived security, some think that the event brought us closer together. Well, the tragedy did bring us together for all of a month or so, and now, we see this nation being more fractured than it's been since the Civil War. And yet, there are people like me that still hold out hope that we'll eventually pull our shit together.

I've already blogged about 9-11, the 10th anniversary, and so on. As for the observances themselves... There's a line, and a rather fine one at that, between tasteful remembrance and acknowledgment versus politicization, polarization, and just plain taking advantage of the victims.

Fact is, it happened, and there are some who would rather stick their heads in the sand and pretend it didn't. Others are obsessed with fear, rage, or both. One of the books I'm reading right now, The Legacy of Heorot, by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes. In an attempt to set up the passage quickly, the novel takes place in the future when Earth first starts colonizing. 200 colonists are in cryosleep for a journey lasting about 100 years, and they set up a colony on a planet they named Avalon. The colonists are mostly scientists and engineers, and Cadmann Weyland is the only military person among them. The island they settle on seems peaceful, and Weyland is the only one who isn't ready to let his guard down. After all, the colony is less than a full Avalonian year old. And when some of the livestock is carried off and eaten, Weyland wants to tighten up security. Some of the colonists, however, accuse him of manufacturing a crisis just so he would be useful again. It isn't until Cadmann sets up his own stake-out and nearly loses his life that he begins to confirm that there's a dangerous predator on the island, and the colonists still refuse to take precautions, until the predator attacks the colony, killing several people, injuring dozens more, and destroying several buildings. The colony leader, Zack, hadn't dismissed Cadmann out of hand, but certainly didn't support him or even his calls for volunteers to investigate the livestock disappearances...

If a camp vote had been taken the day after the disaster, Zack would have been ousted and Cadmann elected to the post in a moment. Take the vote soon enough after the disaster, and Zack himself might have led the electoral parade. Not now. Now he'd fight.
"We're surviving," he said. "We're going to keep surviving. We've paid our price for this goddamned planet. It's all we're going to pay... What happened just shouldn't have happened." There was absolutely nothing of the old Zack in his tone.

I mention all of this because it's a good illustration of how people's passions can shift after a disaster, how trauma can change people, and how it's all a part of being human. Incidentally, the book was written in 1987.

The Onion had posted an article about God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule. I should probably send this to some of my more Evangelical friends who right after the attack and even today advocate various forms of genocide. And people wonder why I walked away from organized religion...

Kudos to the two following comics for adequately commemorating the tragedy...

Baby Blues


More Comics )
Posted at LiveJournal and Dreamwidth
wookiemonster: (Book Flirt)
Alas, it is time for the monthly reading and writing update. Sadly, there's still nothing measurable to show for writing. But for reading...

Cut for sanity )
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January 2015


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