[This post is talking about the DCI Banks episode "Friend of the Devil" and anyone reading who wants to avoid spoilers for that story would be advised to avoid reading this post. Also, the subject of the crimes is mostly violent rape and murder.]
Last night I watched an episode of DCI Banks which struck me as very pro-police. I mean, you could probably safely assume that any mystery series in which the protagonists are police who solve crimes is going to be pro-police but in this case it seemed quite thematic in favour of police handling crime and against vigilantism.
We have a father ranting about the police not helping and 'dragging the family's name through the mud' after the rape and murder of his daughter. Who then is arrested for assault in attempting to get revenge for it, and just as well he didn't get up the nerve to use the knife he'd bought for that purpose, as it turns out that guy was innocent.
We have more vigilantism when the murder in another case turns out to be a revenge killing of a woman (Lucy Payne) convicted for being complicit in the rape and murder of other women, our Mr Banks being upset that justice has now been denied. Finally, misguided vigilantism sees the killing of an innocent police officer, having mistaken him for the man who raped and murdered the woman mentioned in the previous paragraph when he was actually worked up in excess distress over her death and patrolling out of duty to protect women.
Early on Banks asks a forensic examiner if there were signs of struggle and she leaps to remind him that lack of such signs do not mean it was not rape, when in fact he was just wondering if there might be DNA obtainable from skin under the fingernails. But it's okay that she was overly-defensive of the integrity of rape victims like that because as it turns out she is a serial killer! Murdered Lucy earlier, killed the police officer earlier, mistaking him for a bad man instead of a good man, and murdered the guy who raped her many years ago instead of cooperating with police to bring him to justice.
It all felt a bit heavy-handed. Vengeful dad insults police, assaults the wrong man. Vengeful woman lies to police, murders already-sentenced convict, kills a cop in error, finally takes her own life when confronted with this. Normally I just want a mystery solved with detecting, not so much of the karmic leave it to police.
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Falling in love is a lot like being sick
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- First there's the denial phase, refusal to admit the possibility
- Then the sleepless, feverish nights, thoughts in chaos
- Finally you emerge, thought processes reconfigured for the new reality
Don't know how long I can keep this up. I'm lonely still and could expect to be for a long time to come. Wishing I had people of approximately similar timezone so I wasn't having to choose between doing things and company. Or even could have both at once?
This hurts. Everything hurts. Just gotta choose from a selection of pain? I wanted to escape watching people and being wounded by seeing them have happinesses I have not been able to have. I wanted to stop feeling worthless for what I lack, by ceasing that exposure and by seeking something of my own.
Well. I haven't been able to chase anything because I've been at work; this is my one day off out of a ten-day span so I'm just existing. And still obsessing. Maybe I just need longer to get out of it.
It hurts less, I'm sure, but I still want to tear my throat out in strips. Or feel compelled to. I don't know if I can tell the difference between desires and urges. It feels like the revolutionary, the device which was used to kill Thecla in The Shadow of the Torturer. Since first reading that I always felt it to be a good literalisation of the desire, the compulsion to destroy oneself. When one has to fight continually the subconscious motions of one's hands to do damage, to be wary of what one touches and how it might be used. But I have hope, and fear to guard me.
I realise I am going to give this up, to go back. I say it is because I am weak and maybe that is true but I just do not know. I do not understand myself. Almost I am a passenger observing this vessel. I can know sometimes what it is going to do before I consciously come to the actual decision, but the inner workings are opaque to me.
Why should I work so hard to preserve a resolution which was come to in a state of greater suffering? Was it not to hurt myself? And thereby in keeping to it am not persisting in hurting myself further? But I still believe there was wisdom in that pain and if only I could bring myself to escape, to work hard and to find something I want, to pursue it and to do and to be, and to find friendships that are not so lonely.
I don't know, I don't know, and I don't know.
It isn't going to work. Should have acknowledged that from the beginning. I am weak; I am not sufficiently driven. That is how I came to be here.
I remain confused. I don't know how to end this. Still clouded. Perhaps it was all a trick, to succeed in driving people away and leave me wanting them still. I don't know what to do. Should I go back? Keep going? Am sure that I will go back because that is what I feel in my future and have felt the whole time. Which means it was all for nothing.
I must find something. I must find something. Unfortunately I have never been real. Perhaps I cannot become real.
Perhaps if I turn to the logic of stories and tell myself that, had it been the right decision, I would have felt a clarity and a lightness. Maybe I even did at the start? Who knows - the past is a mystery. But I cannot solve myself.
At least I haven't lashed out at anyone this time. Vaguely I remember years back making an incoherent rant on my journal and cutting most people out. I think that happened; I've carried the memory a long while. Which I have refused to acknowledge - despite its whispering at the edges - that this is a cyclic collapse, despair and isolation. I should remember that I have done this even in the home of those I have pledged to marry, and it does no good. Perhaps next time I will.
But then how can I get better? How can I make it stop hurting? Just have to endure this every time? That is a dreadful prospect. At least I remain functional. But I will never... perhaps just have to last long enough to move... but no. I just established that even in a household of people who love me, and who I love, still I shred myself so.
Maybe I need to allocate more time to the therapist voice that has recently emerged, listen to her / em. Maybe I need a chemical solution. Maybe I need to- but no, we don't listen to that voice if we can help it.
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I don't want to be writing or posting any thing but I suppose I ought to because big and complicated things are happening and I do not understand. And because a journal is supposed to be at least in part a record of one's self and past in its significances and insignificances. Or so I would wish mine to be though for a long time it has been dreadfully sparse.
Today was complicated and busy, but not as much as I had intended it to be. Studying in the morning, short work shift before training - a formality of a shift in order to be present and paid for the training. Think most of the marks on my arms are gone now - had to dig in with nails a bit to keep focused, was surprised they lasted at all that long. Had to keep backing off after deciding to experiment with drawing blood because I lacked the courage for that much of that pain, so I expected them to be gone after a few minutes. I should have been satisfied with distracting myself into focus because now am disappointed by not being able to follow through.
Collected a package I had ordered, a gift for my sister. Filed the paperwork to get my name changed. I don't know what I am doing with that. Felt sick. Wondering. Why am I doing this? Is it right? I feel like I never analyse possible actions and come to conclusions, I just act. Without clear head or heart. When it gets back I will put it through to get my passport and driver licence, etc. updated. I don't understand what I am doing. I don't understand why. I'm just going to keep going because I am terrified of death and not living. Felt sick to be giving up my birth certificate
I feel very confused. Not the sort of thing one should be saying, for fear it would be used against, but that is not relevant. I just don't know what I am or what I want. I have no particular skills, abilities, talents. So I don't know who I am.
Trying out withdrawing from people so I have space for school, space to work on myself. Maybe get to be someone? Maybe I could learn some skills, get good at something. Learn how to exist as a person. If I can manage school maybe even try and meet some local people.
I see people having and being things I wish I could have, like social activities and identities and goals, and it hurts. It has been very difficult so far to cut off contact from the people I normally talk to, to avoid twitter. My habits are very entwined around that contact and I wish I had someone to talk things over with but my head feels quieter than it has for days, I think. Reduction in visions of killing myself (I think); I don't want to but it feels like I need to, like a pressure bearing down on me. But I don't want to and I won't. If I can hold firm then maybe I will be able to make something of myself, have something to bring back.
I don't like to leave people without explanation but I can't talk to them to explain because I know my weakness and that if we start talking I will keep talking and all my efforts will be undone. I will drift back into my social habits and lose all my days, all my focus that I am trying to capture. For now it is just dividing between works and leisure. Maybe I can keep that up. I hope so. It is hard and I want to go back to company even though that hurts too.
Everything hurts and there is no release. I remind myself that death is no freedom of pain, it is an absence of existing entirely. There will be no future lives, there will be no me to appreciate and feel that lightened relief and because I am terrified of nonexistence that helps. I have never been able to surrender my grip on this world or self so that is an anchoring incentive. There is a dangerous thought which says that is a lie planted to keep me from discovering I won't die, but will escape this world created to torment me, or have its truth revealed. But that is nonsense and anyway might be a bluff to goad me into the attempt. It is an idea to be disregarded.
I perhaps should delete the above paragraph if I am going to post this, although that may be difficult as words written have weight. But to post this has been partly the intent in writing, for as I said above I cannot talk to people without being undone. I must take care of myself but it would be cruel to abandon people without notice or information, and having realised this I must act in some way to inform or else am driving them to worry about me. I suppose they will still worry reading this, which cannot be helped from any true or even perhaps untrue account I would give, but at least with honest information people might be diverted from terrible imaginings.
I am okay. Am fairly sure the pain is less, although my thoughts still are not clear. But this is analogous to a detoxification period with many habits and recurrent topics of thought still pulling back on me. Very easy to fall back in, and I might end up doing so. It is a struggle and I have been so long without myself. I just don't know what I will do. I hope I will find something good. Something to be proud of.
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I do not mean a fearsome fire-breathing slayer of knights.
Rather, I mean a reclusive hoarding creature who is fond of wordplay.
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[Wrote this on Wednesday; some additions before posting Friday due to the passage of time]
I think I must have mentioned the acquisition of fragmentary older archives of SETI Radio (now Are We Alone?) previously because memory says I have written of starting the podcast listening over again and going through an initial set of Planetary Radio alone.
It continues to irk me that I do not have access to the full, original run of Are We Alone? from 2002 because I do remember seeing those listed in iTunes back in 2005-06 or thenabouts but of course at the time did not have the bandwidth - or possibly even the storage space - to download them then. The same is true for some other shows like Planetary Radio, but at least they still have their entire run available on the website.
But since then, as I have been distracted from writing by school and workplace commitments, we have moved on successively to first a truncated second playlist where The Naked Scientists originally came in, and then a third beginning at the point where the earliest available episodes of Are We Alone? from https://archive.org/ begin.
Probably I mentioned that early Planetary Radio featured heavily guests and projects connected with the Planetary Society, such as SETI@Home, before moving on to a strong Mars focus for the historic close approach of Earth and Mars in August 2003 and the launches of several robotic missions to Mars; that focus has continued to where I am currently at in listening, late January 2004 when the second of two rovers (Opportunity) has only just landed on that planet.
I feel like my insistence on pinning these podcasts as near as I am able into a chronological order is vindicated by occasions such as the landing of the Spirit rover (and now Opportunity) when I have each of these three science shows reporting on the same events from their own particular perspectives and sources. It gives me an enjoyable feeling of synergy, a sense of time and place that these programs really do relate to each other in some meaningful way.
The current list, Playlist 3, is I am sure by far the longest that will be in at least terms of span covered. It starts at the beginning of November 2003 and extends to January 2005, when Playlist 4 will begin with the addition of The Philosopher's Zone from ABC Radio. To that point, every single podcast in my list which extends so far back in time is one also broadcast by radio, which seems odd to me. The first which exists purely as a podcast (and I suppose in that sense as an entirely amateur production) is the one following, Slacker Astronomy, which is also the earliest podcast on my list to no longer be active.
It continues to be strange to me that The Naked Scientists hosts a call-in contest “Science Fact or Science Fiction” wherein callers are presented with a claim and asked to judge whether it is true or made up, because there is a similar game in the podcast The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe , Science or Fiction, in which the hosts are challenged to pick the fake science news stories from the genuine ones.
Nearly finished the book I'm reading at the moment and have nearly a week to wait until I can get hold of the sequel at earliest. In the meanwhile as well as working on that placement report I can hopefully make sure to get some more writing done on what I think of the various books I've been reading over the past year. Most of them do have partial or complete notes written up already, it's just a few gaps that need filling so I can finish off and actually put them up in the order they were read. Am quite looking forward to getting that done because I do tend to enjoy talking about what I am reading and what I think of it, even if this is mostly awful.
So, objective for the next few days: work on placement report, work on not-reviews, also hopefully put together a nice meal for people which will likely involve fish.
Getting up to date on not-reviews and on my reading database are the two main personal projects I feel backlogged on currently. Maybe after those are up to date I will feel free to write more and to play games, both of which I feel I am missing out on. Therefore, the perpetual cry of diligence and energy!
 Although of the four which precede it, two are on public, non-profit broadcasters and the other two, as I understand it, rather rough or humble beginnings before acquiring their polish.
 Which doesn't start until 2005 but due to more extensive RSS availability I listened to a lot of in my first attempt at podcast catch-up – it was nearly the oldest one available by that approach.
 Now actually finished, during a lovely lunch in a café yesterday after my endocrinologist appointment.
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[Wrote this on Wednesday; posting now on Friday]
Last week finally finished my placement so now theoretically have a bit more time for living in. In truth of course I am rather bad at that. Too easy to let time-passers from when I cannot do much else filter into the spaces when I could be making more use of myself
Been feeling listless and hurt, selfishly no doubt. But as so often it feels like the appropriate solution is to distance myself from others. Perhaps especially with both work and school going on it feels as if I have a choice between being social in my free time or 'doing things'. And I am not very good at either.
Too much I want company.
The placement was good, very different sort of library to any I had prior experience of. Learned lots about corporate library activities handling also records and archives. Plus, the place was not only going through a record system changeover, but also an upcoming library management system upgrade, so I got to experience some of how those happen in practice.
I was a bit sad to have to leave, ultimately, but also relieved to get back to what are supposedly my usual part-time hours, though I'd not the time to enjoy them long before commencing the placement. Trying to preserve income meanwhile meant requesting and accepting additional weekend shifts from my employer and effectively working 6+ day weeks. It was rather tiring.
For the last week I baked and brought in first gluten-free brownies and gluten-free, low-sugar biscuits. Neither were vegan or dairy-free, however, and the latter recipe especially was 'compensating' for lacking added sugar by having a profusion of nuts. So they were not as minimally allergenic as I had been hoping to achieve, but were received quite well. On the last day my supervisor gave me a lovely pop-up card and a deck of an author card game, which I have not quite opened to the extent of understanding how it is supposed to be used. I am under the impression it can also be used as an ordinary deck of cards.
Finding myself very tired as I write this at work the following Wednesday, longing for sleep. I still have to write a report on that placement, which is due by about 2015-11-20 - so I must soon get to work on that (rather, to continue from what I managed to write during the placement itself) before it will become a last-minute desperation and before I forget the relevant information to include. But I wanted to get through my work week first, of which this is the last day. I will finally have two contiguous days off for the first time since September, although the morning of the first will be taken up by an appointment with my endocrinologist. Better than nothing.
Currently checking up on information for school, the last week's worth of learning material for the other class I'm taking this semester, and verifying the subject outline for my summer class is not yet up (most likely it will be available from Monday).
Also trying to look for any information to present to my endocrinologist about potentially changing my dosages / medications - had seen rumours that the form of progesterone I am on is not ideal. Have asked around on twitter a few months ago for any useful information I could present but not had a useful response.
I think actually I am too tired now to be fit for gathering and evaluating such information; I may be better off waiting a few months for my next appointment. Feeling on the verge of tears at the thought of trying to get that done by the end of the work day here, which it would have to be if I want to print anything off and have it with me to show.
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Just finished the first week of my student placement. Going okay except for being very tired of an evening, and needing to sleep early in order to be rested and wake early enough to get there - am not used to working full-time hours. Which would not be a problem except I have an assignment due Monday next week and little energy to be working on it. Hope I will manage anyway.
Is nice to be taking public transport again - getting a lot of reading done on the buses and trains - but that is always a trade-off with driving and podcast listening. So far this week has mostly been getting oriented and reading through policies and historical stuff concerning the organisation but yesterday I finally got to get started on cleaning up the shelves. That will likely be done by the end of next week, with lots of other stuff going on. There is a big archival conversion project going on, and library management software migration, so it feels like I am getting potentially a lot of valuable familiarity with environments and circumstances different to my prior experiences. Which is really what I was after in enquiring at this place.
Now I better get back to that assignment because it unfortunately is not going to write itself. Otherwise would try and write a lengthier update.
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Started on project Catch Up Chronologically To The Podcasts I Subscribe To [on 2015-0-17]. This is something I have attempted a few times since 2012, periodically restarting as I devise more satisfying (i.e. completist) ways of going about it. The furthest I got was covering the span from 2005 to early 2008, by the close of 2013. Since then I have gone through a few restarts and fads but hope to have finally settled on a scheme which will stick. The last few iterations have mostly been refining spreadsheets and completeness of archival access but I think I have hit a limit on that - the most recent reset based on having the inspiration that otherwise inaccessible back episodes of SETI Radio might have been uploaded to the Internet Archive and indeed they were - although not I think by the artists themselves. Rather, it appears to be the work of some audience member who has uploaded a few other radio shows (consequently there appear to be a few missing episodes but as they are so far as I know genuinely inaccessible this does not bother me as much as I feared it might).
Currently it is a bit lonely all the way back in 2002 where the only accessible show from my subscriptions is Planetary Radio [this show was not part of the 2005-2008 set as its RSS feed does not include episodes from so far in the past, and originally RSS was the standard I was going by]. There are at least two other shows from my subscriptions that were airing at the time - The Naked Scientists, and SETI Radio's Are We Alone? - but the episodes for one cannot be downloaded for that period and for the other, those episodes appear to have disappeared off the internet entirely. So Planetary Radio it is.
The show starts off a bit timid, a bit shaky. At first the guests are all people with strong connections to the Planetary Society - the guests for the first two shows are society's Executive Director and Director of Projects, respectively. Then David Anderson of the SETI@Home project, which they helped get off the ground, and a conversation with Freeman Dyson recorded when he had visited their offices a couple of months previous. What I am saying is, it takes a little while to develop into the fun, consistent show I remember from two previous attempts at this project.
It was interesting even in the very first episode from November 2002 hearing mention of missions which are current and active right now - the two Mars Exploration Rovers (not yet named Spirit and Opportunity, but they did promote their competition for kids to name them!), and New Horizons - both of which had not yet launched at the time of airing. Also a bit of question-raising about whether Pluto is or is not a planet, but at the time they suggested the question could wait for the probe to visit before we decide.
Last episode of the year shifts into the more familiar format, with Emily Lakdawalla doing Questions & Answers instead of Random Space Facts, and random space facts being moved to the concluding What's Up segment, along with the introduction of the trivia contest. Bruce Betts and Matt Kaplan relaxing into their roles gradually which, their banter is a lot of what makes Planetary Radio so fun for me to listen to. I wonder how much this may have changed in the future beyond my previous listenings (somewhere in 2006 I think...)?
At the time of writing this I left off listening part-way through the 2003-01-20 episode in which the interview is about a joint Palestinian-Israeli student experiment aboard the shuttle Columbia. That always gives me chills because at the time they recorded and broadcast the mission was already doomed and no one knew it. So they talk excitedly of anticipated results and how they hope the mission might be remembered. My feelings about that episode are also shifted by having read earlier this year the two autobiographical volumes [I Saw Ramallah; I Was Born There, I Was Born Here] by Mourid Barghouti about his experiences as a Palestinian and returning to Palestine after having lived in exile.
The last episode of 2002 also featured a guest who I think is the first to not be affiliated with the Planetary Society, Andre Bormanis "Star Trek writer and consultant". I felt a bit embarrassed to learn he would occasionally incorporate elements such as a neutron microscope in one episode of Enterprise, knowing that by current understanding such a technology is nonsensical but wanting to suggest the greater advancement of the period, or to get the audience pondering how it might become possible - since that is the sort of element I likely would scoff at. Although transporters are pretty impossible-seeming too and I do not scoff at those, so what is with this line-drawing?
Also, one of the Q&A segments was on what would happen to an astronaut suddenly exposed to vacuum. The focus in that answer was on water vapourisation due to decompression and forecast likely unconsciousness in about 10 seconds, which I think is rather harsh compared against other attempts at assessing what would happen. That answer did come from a NASA medical specialist so it probably has a lot of substance behind it, but it seems strange to me that - as my impression is - there seems not a lot of agreement about what would happen to a person in a vacuum or how survivable an experience it might be. I suppose perhaps we have very limited data on this, which is probably a good thing.
Not planning to write about every single episode of everything as I listen, but I do want to write about anything that stands out to me or inspires me to want to say something. That is, as you might put it, a goal here.
So what else? The music used for about the first year gives me strong Sim City SNES vibes. Last night I ended up taking a break from writing this for a few hours because I was swept up in a passion and determined inspiration to make another attempt at tracking down 'lost' back archives for a few other podcasts and I succeeded on two of them: Science Talk (Scientific American) and House to Astonish. The latter was actually only a solveable problem since the beginning of this month when they uploaded their first 50 episodes to the Internet Archive. The former I could have solved at any time if I had only thought a bit more carefully and put my search skills to use. I had been too focused on finding the episodes within the website hosting them, when it is actually far more effective to use a search engine to search within the site on a specified date range. And now I can rest a bit easier.
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The good news that I have not been able to share because it has kindly inundated me in paperwork is that I got the job I applied for back in - I think - June. They contacted me about two weeks ago to say they wanted to hire me and I started earlier this week. So now I am officially a part time employee of a library, with sick leaves and regular hours and a work email address and all that.
I also right about the same time finally got an affirmative reply on a request for a library to take me on as a student for the practicum I need to do for this degree. That has necessitated a bit of negotiation as the school year ends with October and I have gotten increasingly frantic as library after library knocked me back over the course of the year. Now that I finally have a yes it comes right as I was organising a new job start so I am having to take leave immediately after being hired.
Fortunately they are being accommodating of this and I did advise them in advance. And due to the hours of the placement library, although I will need to be working full-time there without pay for several weeks I will also be able to work one day a week of my regular hours at the library that pays me. Possibly a few extra on weekends too, if I really hate myself and rest and peace of mind.
Got a lot of reading to do for school and a last assignment due in a few weeks so I probably will not be able to update much for a while yet. But I miss writing and I miss the satisfaction of blogging so maybe I will find a little bit of time for thinking and typing.
 Last but for reporting on the placement in its aftermath
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Today has been 2015-08-20 and it feels a long way from the 10th. On the 10th I had two assignments due, one of which I got done and submitted that morning. Also that morning, a call from the municipal council's HR about the job I had interviewd for the week before - references from my current position were unacceptable due to conflict of interest, being from my current employer and therefore also the employer I was hoping to get the new job with.
I had not any other current references; they said some pre-employement contacts would be fine. So rather than heading home to finish the other assignment I drove around first to the library the toy library of which I had volunteered at. The librarian who had been my contact back in 2011. She had gone home, but still worked there, and I was able to confirm a phone number with someone who was on duty. Then off to the university library I had had my second student placement under a few years before that. She had also gone home for the night, but still worked there, and I was able to get a phone number to reach her at.
So then I could get home at last and to schoolwork, although I do not really remember if I made much of any progress on the other assignment before its deadline. I did finish it the next evening and get it submitted before midnight and that was a great relief, especially as earlier in the day I had managed to call both of those contacts and obtain their consent to act as references for me, and forwarded their details to HR and got confirmation this would be suitable. Although I still have not heard back on how that went, and whether I will be getting the job.
But I did get word back on the other assignment, which was actually extra make-up work in order to not fail a class I took last semester. It served its purpose and I got my pass, which is great because one possible venue for being kicked out of school has been escaped. Still working on the other one.
Three weights off my shoulders. For a little while I felt so very light. But the fourth came right back; another request for an opportunity to take my practicum in a library of interest, sent that off Monday and by Tuesday night was rejected. Running out of time to organise that. Running desperately short of time.
But I keep being so tired from work, plus I fell into a void. Friday a day off, wanted to get my hair cut and take care of things, laundry and tidying type things. But instead I get struck down by some mystery illness. Supposedly only four days out of it until I could risk being back to work, but really it was infinity. Such vast span of time as to make all this typing a distant, distant reconstruction. Really only last week? Somehow.
I will get my hair cut tomorrow, and I will make another practicum request - I must! And perhaps my car will even get a new radio, if I am very fortunate indeed.
But I do not like tomorrow because today is the 20th and tomorrow is the 21st, and it would have been my grandmother's birthday had she survived this long. And it has been months and I still, still, still do not know how to process that she no longer exists. All that great void of never again. Keeps coming up and it hurts and I do not know what to do with it.
Driving to work today I had to go past the place where she was put to rest, incinerated a few months ago. Drive right on past like it was nothing and I a functional driver - and there must be so many people swallowed up in there, and yet people keep driving on by every day. Past where we bid farewell to my cousin the next week, and past where we had retired to gather afterward.
And tomorrow is nearly here and it will be an incomprehensible date of significance, and nothing will be done to mark it because all are sick; too much risk to others who still live to make mark when infection might spread, and someday it will mean nothing again.
I will get my hair cut, and try to decide what else might or might not bear the significance of the specific-just-another-day.
I had some good news, too. But I will put that in another post, maybe tomorrow, and let it bear itself alone.
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On the drive home today I listened to the episode of Planetary Radio covering SpaceShipOne's claiming of the X Prize, from way back in October of 2004 (why yes, I am behind on a great many things). The bulk of it held interviews with private industry types and a lot of overwrought language which annoyed me about how important what they did is.
Stuff like suggesting NASA and major aerospace corporations are now thinking "we're screwed" in the face of SpaceShipOne.
Because I have a helluva lot bigger goal than they do. And you know what that goal is? I absolutely have to develop a manned space tourism system for Sir Richard Branson that's at least a 100 times safer than anything that's ever flown a man to space and probably a lot more. I have to do that.
And perhaps it is just me, but I thoroughly do not believe building a suborbital or low Earth orbit moneymaker for a billionaire is even slightly bigger or more important than doing actual research on the rest of the solar system and universe. Maybe if they were working on a destination, somewhere to actually go and spend time in space that would be different. But not a quick dip out of the atmosphere so the rich and famous can score themselves a new "I've been there" shirt.
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Been feeling that I should treat this as if I am starting a whole new blog from scratch. Which does not mean I am about to go on any sort of introductory spiel as that has not ever I think been my style. But I should accept that these days there are few who would still be reading. A lot of the community that was here has been lost, or destroyed by myself.
So, starting over. Just going to talk about whatever to myself. But these days I am so tired I doubt I will be saying much anyway. Work days tend to blend into an unremarkable sameness and not leave much of interest left over.
Although today was different! The full-time staff-member I was supposed to be working with did not show up, out sick apparently. So out of the first four hours at the library I was operating the whole thing along for three and a half of them. The manager was there, but she was doing management type things in her office; I only saw her for about 10 minutes around the middle (she had called down that if I needed support she would come down and provide it, but the workload remained comfortably within 'exhilirating' or lower levels so I did not), and for the last 20 minutes one of the afternoon + evening staff had shown up and the manager asked her to start early. So that helped.
I have felt increasingly sure over the course of today that I am falling sick with some cold-like infection. This is a very inopportune time, as the breaks in my workweek are punctuated by an appointment with my endocrinologist and a job interview, and I have two assignments to turn in by next Monday. But perhaps this is some sort of stress thing. I think I fell ill last time I had an assignment due too. Made it a lot more difficult to complete.
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Last time I wrote here -- a whole month ago -- I had wanted to follow up soon with something about events which were then more recent. Wanted to write about the additional neat thing of new bilingual picture books at the library being interfiled among the main English picture book collection. However it turns out just as well I did not do so, as I since discovered they are not supposed to be; it is something the contractor the library does its purchasing + pre-processing through filing them that way, inconsistent with the library's preferred style. I still like the idea of interfiling them.
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A couple of days ago at the library we got a small number of new junior fiction books, among the rest of the new book deliveries. Was excited to see a couple of books appearing to feature black girls as their protagonists, one I think African American and one Aboriginal Australian. Bit less excited when in attempting to do some research prior to communicating this excitement I find the North American is by Meg Cabot and in fact is a spin-off of the Princess Diary series featuring Mia's sister, and the other covers I am turning up show her as a white girl, and
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none of the reviews make mention of her race- which, when unmentioned, is often an indicator the character is white at least one says Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess touches on race so hopefully my worries are unfounded. The other one is Flying High by Sally Morgan.
Mostly this got me wondering whether there are any resources which would be especially useful for finding out about e.g. junior fiction titles starring girls of colour which a librarian working in acquisitions might source purchases from. Which, if there are resources available for such, especially if they cover non-US-focused titles, recommendations would be appreciated.
Did while thinking on this imagine push-back of the sort "you should not prioritise subsets of people disproportionately like that". But, let us say for example the library has 5,000 junior fiction titles in its holdings. If we were to collect books in proportion with the Australian population then we would want to have roughly a hundred or so titles starring Aboriginal boys and girls. I'm not sure if there even are a hundred junior fiction books with Aboriginal protagonists. A collection which took pains to match the demographics of its service population would be very different from what we have at present.
[title to be read in a tone of horrified realisation]
I had a memory tonight and I want to scream.
It's about the end of the world. I was remembering the week of the zombie apocalypse. Sometime not long before I had actually 'come out' the deputy head (or possibly by that point he was the head?) of the library program I was enrolled in, advised that I was going to start presenting as female or something like that. I don't know how I did it.
And I think it was the day itself. Maybe I am conflating two separate days in my memory now? But I think it was the day.
I don't know how I did it, that day in November - must have been - wearing a skirt to class while I could feel the world about to end. Managing to sit and get my work done when I expected at any moment to see people running past the door, a smear of blood on its window and some monster pressing to get in and devour us all.
Maybe it was a different day? Research says it was a different day. The terror was late October and early November, whereas that time I went out in a skirt was mid-November. But closely timed, and when I was making a psych appointment because I knew I needed something to protect me against killing myself if my mind were to continue conjuring up such dreadful imagery and beliefs.
My point is that then I had many of the same fears and concerns, but I was still fighting through for happiness and bold enough back then to try wearing a skirt out in public. Bold enough to 'come out' to an administrator and attempt something like a public transition. And now we are seven years later and I have no courage to do the same in my workplace, nor out and about in general.
I keep feeling like that year end was a turning point where I was pushed back by my mother being unsupportive and pushed back by a spike in mental illness and my response was to retreat from myself and go back into timid hiding. Only this year am I making a push to get new clothes again and to update my presentation. And I still, still do not have the courage to confront anyone about it. Still do not have any certainty of myself to know what I should declare. I wish I had gone differently, I think so.
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“A burglar does not leave his shoeprint in the flowerbed in
order for police to find the print and prove the shoe was his. (Quite the
opposite, one suspects.) A document, such as a contract, email or a report,
was not created in order to provide historians with something to study a
century from now.”
Wanting to write a little post about this from my readings in class because interested by how it disrupts the sense I have built up for myself about how sentences and punctuation should work and be structured.
I think what bothers me mainly is that I do not regard a parenthesis as a sentence-ending marker while, although it can serve other purposes, a period does mark the end of a sentence. So I end up feeling like there are two sentences here:
- “A burglar does not leave his shoeprint in the flowerbed in order for police to find the print and prove the shoe was his.
- (Quite the opposite, one suspects.) A document, such as a contract, email or a report, was not created in order to provide historians with something to study a century from now.”
I suppose from examining this I must also feel that most everything should be contained within sentences, as an alternative interpretation might be that
(Quite the opposite, one suspects.)
is some sort of aside floating free of and not part of either the preceding or succeeding sentence. But I don’t like that either. If I were to rewrite this so that it ‘made sense’ to me, I would do it like so:
“A burglar does not leave his shoeprint in the flowerbed in
order for police to find the print and prove the shoe was his (quite the
opposite, one suspects). A document, such as a contract, email or a report,
was not created in order to provide historians with something to study a
century from now.”
No period after his, lower case q in quite, period after the closing parenthesis instead of before. Now it reads to me as two separate, self-contained sentences that are not spilling over each other or otherwise provoking some sort of formatting error in my brain. Although this does not mean I am completely happy with the text itself, just that I no longer interpret it as typographically malformed - could try and remove the gendering of the hypothetical burglar, or try and edit the parenthetical into something requiring less implicit unpacking. At the moment, the first sentence and its parenthetical still pair in my mind to suggest intentionality on the part of the burglar, so if it was not left in order for police to find the print and prove identity, but was left for the opposite reason, the first interpretation is the burglar left the shoeprint intentionally in order not to be found or identified by the police - which I think we can agree is not the intended meaning of that parenthetical. Rather, I am sure we are intended to understand that, contrary to being left with the intention of being discovered and leading to capture, the burglar intended to leave no print and consequently to not be discovered. But that’s a whole different edition of Problems With Me Reading Things, and you’ll need to tune in another day for that one.
In case it was not clear, I want to emphasise that I do realise there is not an official set of rules of punctuation in English that everyone is required to abide by. I am talking about the idiosyncratic rules I have built up in my own mind that makes sense to me and which I strive to abide by, and how I get (hopefully amusingly) flustered when I encounter writing that does not abide by those self-set rules. I am capable of reading and making sense of considerably more disjointed or experimental expressions of English than the quoted example (although of course not infinitely so), but sometimes simple things like this throw me off and I get the urge to talk about them.
 I have no current intention of covering that topic.
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Finally answered the Malheurs' question about podcasts we listen to ('finally' - it was only yesterday morning). Left a few off because didn't want to flood, though. Mainly SF Crossing The Gulf, science news series like the Nature magazine podcast, and the story magazines like Escape Pod and Podcastle. And some I just can't recommend like Skeptic's Guide to the Universe partly for the often confrontational tone (and associated ablism) but especially what stands out is one of the host's periodic parodies of Asian accents.So, nope, however much I may enjoy I can't recommend at least pre-2008 version of the show.
Got the day off, so all that prospect of wide open day to fill and be diligent in. But we never manage that in the actuality. It's a nice dream.
Not been able to exercise in a while because of my leg, but that's healed now and was surprised at how easily the routine went this morning. First thought on the treadmill was that I really need to get a sports bra as the bounce was quite unpleasant. And then spiralling a bit of self-hate because it seems no one in the country makes sports bras sized for women as large as me with such small breasts. Going to have to wait for the regular bra I ordered to arrive and see how well that fits. And then most likely follow Ami's advice of getting a smaller size and an extender for the strap.
Hope that works. Been waiting on getting a bra sorted so I can fix up the rest of my wardrobe for nearly half a year now.
Last night on the drive home listening to Science Friday episode from 2015-02-06 they covered the final instalment of the show's bookclub reading The Lost City of Z. They'd been discussing that the past few episodes, a retracing of a British explorer who long ago went missing in the Amazon searching for a lost city. This had me wondering if and how such tropes as explorer's clubs and celebrity explorers might be used in RPGs, and whether this could be done in a non-colonialist way (the short answer I came to is probably no, and on my head be it if I insist on including them anyway). Ideas such as cross-planar exploration, seeking out unknown worlds and planar regions for establishing contact and trade or relations with, and possibly the world of narrative focus being but newly created and consequently not in a position to exert force outward. But that latter is less of a help than the details of motives in seeking outward and celebrating news brought back.
Alternatively or perhaps also, having characters be of non-European-derived societies, exploring into the ruins of a lost European-style society. Good excuse for lots of castle dungeons and monster-infested ruined townships. Could be explained as plague-depopulated (or some other catastrophe), much as what actually happened in the Americas and Australia when European settlers arrived (except of course no real monsters), although what I'd been thinking in that idea was not so much to make that parallel as more Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt to make a conveniently depopulated Euro-fantasyland. And the fact that it does make a parallel to the real world creates problems in using such an idea, because there is an implicit association that if such a depopulated land is suitable for guilt-free exploration and ruin-romps, then it must have been similarly okay for Europeans to go through Australia and those Americas after disease had drastically reduced the populations and ability to sustain existing societies there.
As was pointed out in the much more interesting (and far too short) following segment in which they had as guest an archaeologist to talk about actual Amazonian ruins and how they were laid out in a style of city distinct from any that I had been aware of.
Getting to the point where soon new stereo in car will hopefully mean can start over the list ordering and go into the big and hopefully final catch-up project. Especially since recent investigations and external developments will make that more possible than before.
Something on the drive home reminded me of my grandmother and, as ever, I wanted to tear my throat out so I wouldn't have to deal with it. I think I thought of aiming for a collision again but of course I won't, I wouldn't. But how am I supposed to make sense of her being gone? I wish I could cry, for her, for my cousin. Even for Terry Pratchett whose words meant so much to me growing up (she once bought me one of his books as a child and I don't think she ever knew how much I loved that book). But I can never seem to grieve properly. There is always something taking precedence - maintaining a good face at work; school; getting home without killing myself. I fear that someday I will have time to grieve and the window will have passed, I will not feel it any more or need it.
Again and again and again.
Today is always wasted.
I watched some things. Part 3 of the Doctor Who serial Marco Polo, I think. Did not pay a lot of attention to it or follow what was happening, so what was the point in watching that again when I could have been doing something useful? Episode 38 of Galaxy Express 999, of which I wanted to say something about how repetitive that show is but this time it actually did something a bit different, showing a bit more of the workings of the interstellar railway line. Some episode of Scott & Bailey in the background, which I suppose I keep up more by inertia than anything else. I wish I had the time and the will and the focus to - if I am going to watch something - actually watch it and pay attention and think about it. I pressure myself too much to get through things and so cannot appreciate them.
School is stress. I am sure I am going to fail. I am always sure, and always sure that this time I really am. Of course last time, over the summer, I actually did, which means I am on academic probation and definitely have to pass this class to escape penalty. And I am doing so badly with it. I very much need to focus and not be social, to push through being tired when not at work. Today I tried to get progress on my assignment, the last one that will determine my grade, and mostly ended up wrestling with bibliographic tools before giving up and doing it the old-fashioned way. Insofar as using style settings in a modern office suite can be considered old-fashioned.
But at least I have done something. I have made some progress on the readings and entered some information into the document, so that is technically progress. I need to make this into my life somehow if I am to succeed, but I hate it already and thoroughly.
Been leaving lots of journal entries unpublished of recent, as the day escapes me. I wonder if I will ever publish them?
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I miss programming. It was the last thing I was good at. Which is not to claim any particular demonstrable level of skill or aptitude. But that one class I took in 2012 I worked hard at, and I got good grades for my hard work. I miss having something I could work at and feel I was making progress in understanding and skill. Unfortunately I keep being too occupied with work and school or otherwise insufficiently self-directed - as well as lacking in inspiration - to pursue further development in learning to program. Or rather, given the long gap of inactivity, re-learning to program.
As one might guess, today I did have some inspiration on a suitably scaled project I might undertake when I am able, and am writing this partially as a reminder to myself that I should do so. In this case I was wondering about where a stationary orbit around Ceres might be located and whether it would be stable.
I realised I could define a succession of more complex versions of the problem which I could automate the solving of. Simplest version would just take mass and rotation period for input and give an orbital radius as output. More complex versions could relate that to the Hill sphere of the synchronous-orbited body and identify whether the radius for a synchronous orbit falls within that range or whether it is outside (and therefore not stable). That would require additional inputs such as the ~planet's semi-major orbital axis and the mass of the star (or other parent body).
Then if getting that working, could add further complexity in trying to get a range of values computed, frex "as the orbited body's rotation is slowed, at what point does the radius of a synchronous orbit fall outside its Hill sphere?" or "at this rotation rate, how near to its parent body can this object orbit and still retain a synchronously orbiting satellite?"
Should be nice sort of project. Fairly simple, already solved problems (I could verify them with pen and paper), well-defined goals that are definitely outside my current skillset. I hope I will manage to get myself the time for working on this. Could feel proud of success.
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Current assignment - still the same assignment - is a pseudo-presentation for undergrad science students on the importance of records and archives. Consequently have been focusing reading on records practice in science, the use of records as evidence and the personal process of developing record-keeping style as part of being enculturated to a community of practice.
Consequently consequently, was interested to listen to this Science Friday segment on part of the drive home. The show's Science Club challenge from the end of September was to identify something to observe and to make careful record of your observations in the hope that from these observations something interesting will emerge. Essentially, the Science Friday audience was being challenged to in part go through the process I had been reading about - to, through trial, error, and consideration, develop a system for recording observations which will be later comprehensible and useful as a seed for generating knowledge and presenting this knowledge to a wider community.
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Awake too early thanks to bad dreams. Dreams of a screaming, fist-pounding, equipment-endangering outburst of frustration and then having to put back on the happy, untroubled face for my family so they wouldn't condemn or press for explanation. The only part remaining I can put into words.
Awake too early because I was awake and the sense of some dread, amorphous feeding presence made sleep too fearful. And because sleep had fled in the face of perhaps adrenaline. I would like to sleep more - I've been so tired - but must wait for things to pass.
My head hurts. Likely need more water.
Yesterday, a co-worker informed me the shirt I'd worn the day before had a tear. So now am down to one work shirt that fits well. Will try and buy some more tomorrow after getting my face lasered, which at least is an opportunity to get some better-suited clothes if I can find them. I've not had much success finding shirts on my own that I would be comfortable wearing.
That's what's mostly going on here at the moment. There's some other things I wanted to say before, but they're harder to write and might get abandoned. Meanwhile today is a day of rest and cleaning and study.
It was disheartening seeing my previous posts when I came to write this, that I've been trying to focus on this assignment for more than a month, and it is due in less than a week, and I am so tired and have made so little progress. I want to quit but I don't want to quit. I'm sick of quitting or failing.
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Very tired yesterday, what with being up past 01:00 to witness (in a family, non-legal way) and then having an unusually early start at the library. Should have let myself go to sleep early but insisted on staying up as late as I could.
Still felt very rested today, although now am tired early so could be I needed more sleep. Today's shift was quite busy. I would have loved it except I'm getting increasingly frustrated with one of my co-workers. Feels like he is increasingly inserting himself into my interactions with patrons, talking over and interrupting. Feels like he is generally lacking respect for my capabilities too, and for once I actually have a fair bit of confidence in myself there. Took over a task I was working on at opening, leaving me with nothing to do for a while although at least it meant he was out of my hair a few minutes. Last week he was supposed to be at both branch and main library (the latter opening in the moment the former closes) and the main library was short-handed. Made worse that he ignored my encouragement that he get going early as if I weren't very well capable of shutting up that tiny place on my lonesome, thereby condemning the main - vastly more popular and important as a service point - library to open late and incompletely. Incensing.
Of course I look through these obnoxious behaviours to see if I might be guilty of them myself and in need of reform. But, there are staff everyone else hates and / or wishes never to work with. I'd rather pair with them than him; at least they trust me to do my job without interference.
Not helped that he feels it appropriate to try and correct me about 'PC terms' and then complain about their being required these days. Or suggest the women's restroom at the branch library is larger than the men's as a consequence of the library being mainly staffed by women as if a) the staff had any say in the building design and b) that weren't largely a result of how the various rooms have to slot together to fit in the available space and urinals being more compact than stalls.
I'm not happy and probably should do something. Maybe best option is get a new job since I want one anyway, and most anything going is seeming to carry better pay and better operating environment.
Here, let's finish on some 'jokes':
Saw a new book called Dark Touch. Puts me in mind of a metal cover of Stan Bush's some for The Transformers film soundtrack. Which actually could be a lot of fun.
Batman Meets Scooby Doo movie. Will be very disappointing if the ending does not involve something like "Looks like Batman was really Old Man Wayne all along!"
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My grandmother died a couple of days ago. The funeral is later this week.
Feels like this ought to be a longer entry but I would rather write something than delay and try to think of more and ultimately write nothing.
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This evening near the end of my shift there was a kid asking for books on Serena Williams. Only one in the building according to the catalogue, a biography, so I showed her over to that and she accepted it, but she asked if there were anything at a more junior level she could use. Had a look with her at the sports book in junior non-fiction but of course there was a scant single volume on tennis, likely too old to even mention Serena, or more than briefly.
She seemed a bit distressed - speech due on Wednesday which she'd only found out about today. Told her I'd go take another look in the catalogue for anything at another library which could be placed on hold, but that there was only a slim chance it would arrive tomorrow and much more likely in a week. As it happens, everything else that turned up was aimed at an adult level too. So I let her know, and gave a quick tip on how to use the reference list on Wikipedia to find sources to check out which may help her. Hoping she gets through that okay.
That and some other queries today (e.g. someone's kid needed biographical info on three scientists, any scientists) had me thinking there is still a place in libraries for encyclopaedias and similar reference material. Great starting places for topic introductions and overviews on many subjects.
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Studying records and archives this semester. The first assignment for this class is to put together a presentation for undergraduate science students who are skeptical of the value of archives. Sadly it looks like archiving is rather more focused on communicative human artefacts than the preservation of broader information objects. Otherwise, I had been hoping to incorporate this video from the American Museum of Natural History as an illustration of why this work is important to their work.
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Quiet, main achievement was folding laundry that had been sitting for a few days. Brief, quiet shift at work, main excitement was person who came in at 10 minutes to closing wanting some books but did not have his library card nor any ID we could use as proxy - in fact he hadn't been in so long his membership was no longer in the system; not about to let him use the account of the person he said was his son's either and potentially run up fines in someone else's name. Violated policy by putting the books aside for him to register and borrow tomorrow (today), so as to close up in time rather than push an argument for unknown duration.
Got home, found out my grandmother's life expectancy is estimated at 3 months. Don't know how to process this, never had to lose someone so close previously. Spent so much time grieving for her future loss when I was a child and she was healthy; Should I start grieving more early in preparation? Is there anything I want to do or say? Probably should do some research on how to approach or support someone terminally ill. If she knows - for at least the past year she's been inconsistently able to recognise her own immediate family or where she is.
Although so far she's always seemed able to recognise me. In a way I hate that; all branches of my family seem to have given me always so much more attention and value and support than my sisters, whether because I was firstborn or they thought me a boy or what. It's unfair to my sisters and not a social expectation I'm equipped to live up to.
Watched the second half of the writer & directors commentary on The Fellowship of the Ring with Ami. Finished reading The Player of Games for the discussion group. Still like that book, still find it lacking in parts.
Followed up on some correspondence I've been delaying on. Mostly university stuff and pre-planning for move to USA. Paid for the coming semester of school, updated my calendar with assignments and medical appointments. Updated work on when I'm available for shifts over the next roster period. Did some revised cost estimates on shipping stuff, got rather upset at the thought I may have to reconsider bringing my books. Made some new plans.
Failed to have the nerve to call and book an inspection for the car today. Used web form instead to book one for next week. Hope that won't prove too late. Checked grades for my summer class, looks like I failed it. Disappointed especially because I put a lot of effort into the most major assignment and thought I might have done well in that.
Going to try working on some personal projects and try not to think about food.
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When I read this post on ghosts and zombies immediately I thought it could potentially make a really interesting story, if only I could think where to go with it.
Start with a zombie apocalypse scenario sweeping across the Earth, leading to almost the entire population of the world ending up as ghosts and... then what? The whole species having to decide "we've been wiped out, we're extinct but we're still here, now what do we do?"
Visualising plot strands of despair, would-be suicidal reactions, religious crises, some maybe want to zoom off to explore space, or persuade the ghost-species to adopt a frame of philosophical contemplation, ennui over being and observing but inability to affect any thing in the world. Interactions with the elder ghosts of humanity's past and trying to negotiate a place in / replacement for whatever society they had constructed. Maybe side-strands with the living who are still trying to survive and the question of whether they could eventually prevail, if humanity might re-emerge as a living species.
Don't know where the story would go. My own inclinations probably take it as a quest for understanding with ghost-science and exploration and a lot of people wanting to find ways to interact with the world again, or maybe to cease existence entirely. I keep being drawn to the possibility of vistas on other worlds and mysteries and discoveries that could be made out there (ghost aliens? non-ghost aliens who can or cannot detect the ghost humans?).
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Derailed from plans day today. Washed the car to start with, as intended, but then largely meandered through the middle of it. In the evening the electricity went out for what turned out to be three hours. Batteries ran down fairly quickly thereafter which was a little annoying as there were plenty of things I could have worked on sans internet - stories perhaps, or some sort of blog post.
Instead I ended up reading for most of the duration, aided partly by a torch I keep in my backpack. Am not going to pretend this is some sort of salvation-from-technology miracle because it is not. Without even a reliable feeling source of illumination I felt trapped. But it certainly was useful - I'm supposed to finish this book, The Player of Games, for the bookclub by the end of the week and even now I am only halfway through having read a third of it tonight. Took plenty of notes on things to talk about when (if?) we have a group discussion on the novel.
It was very useful. The main frustration was not being able to transmit my thoughts at whoever whenever I'd a fancy too, which perhaps means overexposure to twitter. But it certainly did give me cause to reconsider what I want out of internet connectivity.
Recently I've been feeling simultaneously a desire to gain distance from social networks, partly from a feeling of unsafety and partly from a dismay at how much time is taken to keep up with them, yet also a desire to engage more vigorously, wanting to find and foster new friendships as a salve to my loneliness. Very conflicting.
People to be close with, yes. People to communicate and share with, yes. But I'd like to draw a metaphorical line somehow and put that to one side and use this computational contraption also as more of a working machine. A little more of a division where, yes, the connection is ever-present and contact available, but the mental split of mode between ~work, play and social. I liked the model described in The Player of Games where Gurgeh might devote a block of time to correspondence, another to working on some paper he was writing, the rest to whatever.
Normally as I've been trying to push myself in that direction I would draft any post locally before bringing up a site to post it on. This one's being an exception as I intended to just write a quick little update on my day. On account of how I am trying to be more social and make more of those sorts of updates.
I know there are various programs and extensions intended to help people out by blocking the internet to various degrees and specifications but I don't think those are what I am after. Or I don't want them to be. Rather work on my own ability to focus and set aside distraction not because that is somehow nobler or superior (nope), but because I don't want less of the one thing, I want to do more of the other. Which has perhaps the incidental effect of less of the one. Maybe I will need to use one of those tools anyway.
Thank you for listening to my ill-considered rambling. Perhaps someday it shall be turned into a more concise rambling.
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Tried starting up a bookclub at the beginning of this year and it did not go well. I put a lot of the blame on having been swallowed up by work for nearly three weeks of the month, and on being struggling with school again. Even if I had been reading our first book (The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks) on my breaks I wouldn't have had the energy to be posting about it each week. And I wouldn't have been up for a group discussion on it this week at the end of the month either, because this is deadline week for half my grade.
Other people haven't been participating either. I put this down to my lack of doing my part as the organiser and instigator to bring energy and encouragement, at least initially to get things going. If I don't make a bookclub something people value in its own right and for themselves, they aren't going to put their own time and energy into it when I'm not up for that myself.
On the one hand that went quite badly. On the other hand, this means we have a fairly clean slate on which to try again for next month. Of course there is no guarantee that any of these problems won't recur or that new ones will not arise. However, the number and length of shifts I had in January is relatively rare and partly due to other staff being on vacation, and for me February will be between semesters so I am optimistic that we may be able to get some momentum going that will sustain the group through the next rough patch whenever that comes.
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Went out to the kitchen to see if the dishwasher needed emptying (it did). A cat was waiting for me, sitting on the floor watching the through the door. When she saw me she meowed loudly and leapt up onto the bench and began eating from the bowl of cat food there, as if this were the signal she had been waiting for.
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Sometimes I worry that I am too critical of things and that I am no longer capable of enjoying any new story I encounter. That seeing flaws in a story prevents me from also enjoying that story. But then I read something like the story I am currently reading and it has all sorts of issues and I feel like Data's tone here nicely conveys how I am enjoying it, even aside from any consideration of its various problems.
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I wanted to keep more of a diary again. Guess my first attempt at making a post of this getting accidentally deleted is as good an excuse as any. That's what happens when you have a part-written post in a browser window and then reboot the computer.
Earlier in the week I finally got an ultrasound for my wrist. Unfortunately no sign showed of what is causing the pain I have been in experiencing there. People seem to be treating that as good news which puzzles me - if there'd been an affirmative discovery of a problem, couldn't I have got something done about it? Now I'm in the position of waiting another month with painkillers and hoping it goes away before I can get a referral to a rheumatoid specialist for further investigation.Has been feeling a bit better the past couple of days, which I suspect is due more to having had several days off work than to taking extra care with my posture and typing since if I were to say I managed that half the time I'd be being generous. Can't hurt though, I hope.
[at this time the author takes a break for approximately 4 days or more]
I suppose I don't know what else to say. So far as resolutions go - that tradition of the new year - I suppose what I want to do is to occupy myself sufficiently with personal projects and activities to spend far less time haunting social media. Of course there's school, but I would like to, to have myself together enough to get writing again sometimes too. And games, and reading... I've been trying to persuade a book club into existence and also have been very enthusiastic of late about role-playing games. Aspiring to run and perhaps even to play in some this year.
Been focusing on Pathfinder first with vague plans to try running some practice adventures and hopefully cobble together a Star Wars themed campaign (Starfinder) based on an authentic ami_angelwings idea. But first I'm trying to read up a lot on advice for running games well so that I can hopefully do a good job and help everyone involved have fun.
Right now, right next, I need to work hard at school. I worry I can't manage both school and much in the way of hobbies. Every attempt I make to manage my time well so far ends in weeks of anxious fretting and bursts of panicked labour. But I keep hoping and I keep trying. I suppose there is not anything else I can do.
On which note I better actually be doing that schoolwork now.
[started this January 1st, a few days later than I wanted to, and finished writing it yesterday. I do not want to abandon social media so much as I want to fill my life with enough satisfying industrious pleasure that I find myself less dependent on and habituated to it.]
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[there's some references at the end of this journal post because school and I felt like practicing]
Lasering this morning. Daring to hope I might be done after this round, in half a year. That would not be too long a time. Little bit frustrating that I took up a desire and occasional accomplishment of morning walks right around when I am experienced a laser-induced need to avoid UV exposure, so I look forward to the banishing of one of those duelling tensions.
Took a while to find where the shopping centre bookshop had removed itself to, then visited a few times on my outing. I don't buy books so often and when I do it is seldom off-line (the state of book prices in Australia is perhaps best described as 'exorbitant') but it was lovely to reacquaint myself a bit with the state of paper books as art objects.
Saw a beautiful edition of Mockingjay in passing. Lots of lovely editions of The Hobbit. Someone has decided to give all Brandon Sanderson's books a consistent look across settings and series; that shelf was a sight to see, so unexpectedly uniform. Robin Hobb's books are still in those beautiful, shiny covers that make me long to give over my copies to charity or second-hand, just to replace and see something so pretty on my shelves (too expensive, too frivolous, maybe someday...). The cover of Alastair Reynolds' On the Steel Breeze clashed weirdly with Blue Remembered Earth, as if they didn't belong together, so strange. Different editions or publishers or sharp change of art direction I suppose.
There were some boxed sets of the Song of Ice and Fire books which looked nice, though it would be nice to be able to do without having a permanent reminder of the television series affixed to the covers. Makes me wonder what looks the books may have when that series is complete. The Warriors anthology in three parts highlighting to me the absence of the Vandermeers time travel anthology since the last time I visited. The new edition of The Ice Dragon is lovely, the illustrations and the cover and the texture. Pretty book, book as art in itself. Could not find The World of Ice and Fire at first, the particular book I wanted to take a look at. Found it elsewhere after a bit, with all the trendy books. But I ended up not daring to take more than a quick flip through it, maybe I was scared of being thought a serious customer.
Looked for, could not find any copy of Kameron Hurley's The Mirror Empire. Did smile to see that, between times I visited the books, someone seems to have bought a copy of Ancillary Justice. Colours a bit too bright and busy and non-representational feeling for me on that one, but that's okay. Hoping it found a good home.
When I got home, was pleasantly surprised to see the set of dice I had ordered had arrived. I've never had dice before apart from the ones you get in department store board games and these are a delightful dusty green with gold numbers, fun even just to look at. I enjoyed taking some time to feel them and start learning which ones are which. Handy because now I can use them for pen and paper RPGs instead of using online rollers, and I've learned this difference matters to some (many?) who play such games.
Yesterday, on part of the way home listened to an episode of Ockham's Razor on cohabiting with wildlife in Australia. Was prepared to be disappointed, envisioning a lack of suggestion that perhaps people and society change their ways in order to minimise conflict and adjust expectations of what is acceptable. Ended up being mostly pleasantly surprised for the most part although perhaps I had set my standards excessively low. NB: a remark about dingo purity is potentially outdated.
Listened to an episode of Escape Pod through lunch. The story, "Shadowboxer", was okay but my main point of interest was how this story's threads weave with Death Note. If Kira's power were inherent, if he were of the USA and held as their instrument. Well, but I thought it was okay. Not inclined to launch into a lengthy criticism at this time. Judging by the comments many others found it much more strongly resonant. This was also the second consecutive podcast to reference research into intercessory prayer, although "Shadowboxer" claimed a near opposite outcome to that reported by
Are We Alone? Big Picture Science.
That episode was rather fascinating in itself, covering language and power and other related aspects of headology. The general thrust of the episode I'd seen before elsewhere but, for example, I didn't know that the Curse of the Bambino in baseball was actually technically a jinx! Also appreciated the line of continuity drawn with European-derived cultures and others, and the explicit disclaiming that curses are not a matter of supposed primitiveness. Potential listeners should be advised that experiments are described wherein harm was done to animals, including death in some cases.
Finally from earlier in the week, a two-part program from All In The Mind on mental health in Indigenous Australian communities and approaches featuring storytelling and community involvement. I've little to say on the content itself, mentioned mainly in case of interest from others.
Except, a remark near the beginning of the first episode by the presenter: "Addressing mental illness is a vital component of the healing process for Aboriginal Australians". I found that rather incensing. They need healing? THEY need healing!? We got sickness running so deep we think it's a healthy way of being, to believe it's right and just and good to do what we do to people, to genocide or force it on them and try to make them sick too. That is what we need healing of, that splinter of ice in our collective heart.
Of course the indigenous people of Australia do need healing of the hurt done to them, but not I think in the manner implied by that framing, of necessary reconciliation to the pre-eminence of white society upon their land. That is... not it.
Bentley, M. (Producer). (2006, June 14). Skeptical Sunday: Curses!. Big Picture Science Audio. Retrieved from http://podcast.seti.org/pages
Di Filippo, P. (Author). (2006, June 15). EP058: Shadowboxer. Escape Pod Audio. Retrieved from http://escapepod.org/
Malcolm, L. (Presenter). (2006, June 10). Aboriginal mental health part 1 - Tiwi Islands. All In The Mind Audio. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/
Malcolm, L. (Presenter). (2006, June 17). The Long Grassers' legacy - Aboriginal mental health part 2. All In The Mind. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/
Outred, J. (2014, April 15). Dingo declared a separate species.Australian Geographic. Retrieved from http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/
Temby, I. (Speaker). (2006, June 11). Wild neighbours. Ockham's Razor Audio
. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/
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I should definitely make new boots a priority. Only had these ones not quite 2 years, but got a blister on my toe after just four hours of mostly seated work and 90 minutes (total) driving today and been getting lesions on my heels for probably a few months now. Seems clear that however nice they were to begin with these boots are now doing my feet more harm than good.
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Came home to find my family had bought a new set of cat-frighteners. A cordless vacuum cleaner, an autonomous robot vacuum cleaner, and what I think is some sort of electric broom.
I don't know how they can afford these, or whether this is wise, but there you go.Edit:
On closer inspection, I believer what I referred to as an 'electric broom' is actually a steam mop.
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It's interesting seeing the relative popularities (and operating costs) of sites manifest in their end-year fund raisers. Wikipedia and Mozilla claim "If everyone reading this gave $3 we could end this right now". The Internet Archive puts its threshold at everyone reading it giving $75.
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Tired. Any work day is wasted so far as trying to get school stuff or any other project done (such as putting together a job application, which is the other thing I should be doing this week). Frustrating, even when it's so brief as this evening's was I'm pretty useless for applying focus to anything that isn't decompressing.
I think the most disappointing part is, as quiet as the library was tonight, I can't even honestly say I helped anyone. Books got put away, maybe that's something.
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A thing I just saw reminded me of an interview I listened to [there is a transcript available at the link] on All in the Mind a couple of days ago. They were talking to a psychiatrist / historian who had done research into gender and mental health. Apparently, a study he conducted had shown a shift in how our society conceptualised depression from the 1980s onward. A split, where women are perceived as having difficulties with housework, with socialisation, with their love lives, while men are perceived as having difficulties with work and hobbies but not so much the mention of feelings.
And a subsequent study showing a parallel trend over the same span in the notes they record about their patients. Changes in what we regard depression as being. He did not draw a conclusion as to A causing B, or vice versa, or any thing although I certainly have my opinions on which.
Toward the end of the interview, also noting research that black men are strongly overrepresented in diagnoses of schizophrenia, and that this data casts doubt on the prevailing model of it as a genetic illness, suggesting again a large social component.
[disclaimer that I am not presenting this as new or shocking stuff, but as something I listened to and found interesting enough to talk about]
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Suspecting I don't fit with any sort of conscious queerness. Too mainstream of a person mayhaps, or some other thing doesn't fit.
Don't like the feeling that I ought to do the same sort of celebratoryness that I see others do. If I tell myself that, it is like telling myself I am an incomplete person without religion?
Feeling adrift and lost, like I don't have a home that I fit anywhere. Has led me to repeatedly wonder if the problem is that some function in my brain which would normally experience community and belongingness is not working right. Although I shouldn't dare claim immunity to associated sorts of social manipulations, as I strongly believe that's false.
It's been hurting more recently (or I think it has - one cannot always trust memory, and what feels like a crescendo of pain might actually just be one continuous chord the most of which has dropped out of awareness into the past) as if I feel like I should have found belonging and it is just not working right. That I think is an error on my part; if I don't fit I don't fit, and re-cutting a jigsaw piece to place on the board solves nothing.
I had a largeish post somewhat accidentally written about how I feel I do not belong with various communities, mainly autism and trans women, which I lost access to posting when my Windows partition decided it was tired of usually booting up correctly. I don't mean to rewrite it here; the gist is that I feel sufficiently unrepresented by the prevailing narratives and concerns as to make a qualitative difference and that although I may hold technical group membership I am sufficiently divorced from the problems so many face that it would be misleading to label and count myself among those numbers.
My suspicion is it would be better all over if I were to practice regarding only the details of immediate circumstance in whatever problem I may face. More precise, less prone to sending me off spinning like a great gyroscope of uncertain reality, and hopefully less liable to appropriation or minimisation of anyone else's life.
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Been reminded of, revived into. That wretched feeling when you are a sort of feminine genderqueer type person and feeling good about yourself, only for some woman to catcall you in the street or make you uncomfortable while you’re at work. Because what she sees apparently some man to be made aware of her regard without consideration for whether it is appropriate or welcome.
Just cuts you right down to nothing, just like that. Anything you might be feeling good about yourself, all gone because someone wanted to use you to feel good about herself.
 By ‘you’ I mean ‘me’. But word-flow.
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Sorry about all the reading journal spam. I just wanted to clear out the backlog of things I hadn't crossposted from Tumblr and get it out of the way so I could disentangle from that site. Is all down now. Should be all back to the usual sluggish posting pace henceforth.
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Act 11 – Reunion, Endymion
In the previous chapter and this, there has been a lot of using a drawing of a bunny as shorthand for character’s referring to Usagi. First noticed around when they were on the Moon and, I think it was Sailor Venus, joked about her being a real moon bunny. I’d known for a long while her name was a reference to the moon rabbit, but had not expected her to be depicted so directly with one.
I pretty much always find mind control plots distressing.
Coincidentally illuminating Game Centre conversation explains to us which stones the Four Kings are named for and represent.
Oh, princess. It is not kind to rename your minions in ways they don’t like.
The happenings here are strange. I thought at first Usagi was dreaming again, but apparently she actually made her physical way to the game centre.
This whole chapter is difficult to follow. Apparently more unspecified time is passing and it doesn’t feel like anything is going on but time passing. All the urgency about rescuing Tuxedo Mask or investigating the stone sword or anything else seems very intermittent, almost a token gesture while a long span of nothingness or ominous seduction is going on. Found it difficult to recognise Minako and Makoto or distinguish them from each other – Ami and Rei are much more distinctive to me in their appearance and it is significantly easier for me to recognise them and their contributions to the story.
I didn’t like at the end that Makoto was vulnerable to Endymion’s hypnosis. Found it a bit more understandable that Usagi would be shocked and delayed in her ability to react, but puzzled that apparently the others were there, and yet it seemed like Sailor Venus fighting alone. Also, how is it that Beryl is able to show up everywhere at the end of fights?
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Act 10 – Moon
I’m having increasing difficulty recognising where are the boundaries between these chapters.
Tuxedo Mask / Endymion captured, a portion of the power of the Legendary Silver Crystal absorbed into his body. Surely the stage is set for a bold and dramatic rescue of not only our heroine’s love, but also the aspect of that which she guards that is contained within him.
Fortunately the Dark Kingdom is utterly foiled by whatever ineffable magic is going on here. I would think it is something related to the unity of their hearts, so that though he now holds the active part of the Legendary Silver Crystal’s power within him, and she possesses the crystal which once contained it, the both shall remain inert until brought together again in a moment of romantic honesty.
We shall see how well that bears out.
Cats, travelling a small eternity from the Moon to Earth in little tubes. Seems deathly dull and tedious, can see why Luna might not want to remember that.
All this talk of awakening the characters to their past lives, ‘true selves’, it all seems rather romantisexual. “[H]er awakening happened in a way we didn’t anticipate” - falling for the reincarnation of her past love, mutual self-sacrifice and passionate desire to save one another. Awakening to knowledge and duty, but at the same time to love, and through love Sailor Moon has however inadvertently seized some part of her destiny to herself, away from the plans others would make for her.
Side effects of losing your prince may include becoming Rapunzel.
I like Rei’s eerie pronouncements but the lack of urgency in this part of the story was weird to me. Tuxedo Mask has been captured, but Usagi spends a week crying in her room before realising he needs rescuing? And then they wait however long it further takes for the moon to become full so they can visit the former kingdom and gain information. It’s suggested to be a necessary wait to do what they need to do but it still feels weird.
Was surprised the Moon (normally I might refer to the Moon as Luna, as a proper name instead of a descriptive label for that body. but we have a character named Luna in this story and that might be confusing) looks like its actual self. I was expecting some sort of habitable fantasy place.
Apparently the Four Kings were not revived in the previous chapter? Seems again like only Kunzite remains, and then an unknown time after the trip to the Moon he too is finally defeated back to gem form in their “second time in space”. Their story has grown a lot more tragic with backstory, now that we know their true mission is to serve and guard Endymion, but that they have been co-opted and taken over by Beryl and the Dark Kingdom.
The part where Endymion is revived to act as Beryl’s servant, I remember finding this part of the story annoying in the anime adaptation. But, we shall see. Also, Beryl’s insistence to Metaria that he is still useful alive puts me in mind of Vader to the Emperor about Luke, especially since she then does go and make a servant of him.
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Act 9 Serenity, Princess
Although from the feel of the narrative it was relatively easy to tell where this chapter began and the last left off, more or less, I still when it came to actually writing these got a bit confused as the title page does not match where the table of contents says the story begins (nor where it feels like the transition is, which is closer to agreeing with the TOC). At first I thought the TOC might be incorrect but it seemed to match with the previous chapters, so my current opinion is that this chapter has an especially long introductory segment before ‘giving away’ its title.
Apparently Makoto / Jupiter plays a large role in discerning the danger this episode and warning the others of it.
-5 points Sailor Moon being saved by Tuxedo Mask again
+ um, I don’t know, 20 points for the look on his face after she kisses him?
A wild title screen appears! But, it’s halfway through the chapter.
Heroic self-sacrifice, enabling the protagonist to recall her identity and powers (to an extent) thanks to the intensity of her grief. I feel sure I have seen that before but apart from Pokemon I am failing to recall where.
The forehead symbol-changing sequence looks unpleasant. I imagine it being accompanied by a wrenching sense of identity-shifting which is perhaps no less painful for Sailor V(enus) than for Usagi / Sailor Moon / Princess Serenity.
Also how this seems to be the culmination of a thread through recent chapters and pages of people, including Usagi herself, wondering how many faces she has to present to the world and how real the person she has been is.
And then we dive into the tragic backstory of the doomed romance between Serenity and Endymion, their long-past lives. Star-crossed lovers, forbidden by the laws of just how things are. So not only was Endymion the Prince of Earth as Serenity is the Princess of the Moon but Beryl was Queen of the Earth, presumably his mother.
That’s a big shock. I hadn’t been expecting so close a relationship between them, although I had been wondering what each of their domains were and whether it might be Earth. And apparently Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite and Kunzite are the Earthly counterparts to the Sailor Scouts, the gems of the Earth to match the gems of the heavens. Good thing we got a wave of healing silver crystal energy to revive them after their very abrupt departures earlier.
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Act 8 Minako, Sailor V
It feels a bit unfair to the existing cast to have Minako / Sailor V show up to announce she’s the princess they’ve been assigned to find and protect, and that she’s been keeping a hidden training eye on them the whole time. Especially that she’s already taken care of hiding away the ‘Legendary Silver Crystal’ that’s so important, too. She is gracious and princessly though, taking time to greet our heroes and commend them on their fine achievements so far.
I suppose if Luna was unaware of all this and was directing them sincerely that isn’t so bad. But, it comes across like much of what has happened so far has been misdirected, chasing shadow goals.
Of course I originally read this whole volume on a train ride and what’s actually going on (assuming there isn’t yet another retrospective recasting later) is fairly clear to see. Especially if you already watched some of the old anime adaptation as a child.
But now I am taking some time to dwell on this chapter by itself and I can’t decide. If I had been reading this in its original serialisation as it came out, would I have been bothered by these developments pulling story out from under me? Or would I have been excited at how it twists and turns and promises future adventure and development?
P.S. In looking up for the previous chapter to be sure ‘The Four Kings of Heaven’ was the correct term of reference I found that according to Wikipedia at least ‘Queen Metalia’ is an early mistranslation and officially it should be Queen Metaria. Assuming that is the case I shall strive to use the correct name henceforth; I don’t know why this 2011 translation would preserve an error like that, except perhaps cultural inertia.
 What might be more difficult for me is not consistently misspelling this as ‘Materia’.
Error running style:
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Act 7: Mamoru Chiba, Tuxedo Mask
Usagi, holding up Tuxedo Mask’s glasses in his room:
"Why didn’t I notice before?"
In fact I could have sworn she had noticed before, except flipping back through the first volume this does not appear to be the case.
And she has fallen for him so haaard. I suppose, narratively speaking, this is the point where the characters reveal and discover the strength of their feelings for each other before circumstances of drama conspire to keep them apart. The long journey before their love can be fully manifested into their lives.
Thinking thoughts about how to construct a romance story and where the tension comes from.
And of course at this point his identity, background and motivations remain still hidden even to himself. Especially because Luna has been keeping information from the protagonists to dole out at whatever time is deemed appropriate.
Queen Metalia! Up to this point, pretty sure I believed Queen Beryl was the apex villain here, answering to no one. So that was a shock.
Bit odd having a queen serving a queen, but I suppose the real world throws up such oddities too? The actual exchange between them puts me in mind of Volyova waking the Captain to consult with him in Revelation Space.
Now that Queen Beryl has been revealed as having a greater evil she serves there is room for her to develop an inner monologue, room for her to contemplate regret and the conflicts of her own desires and perceived destiny.
That this story again continues directly on from the previous one makes me feel like it is finally moving, as if we have gotten beyond the introductory phase and onto more ongoing narrative.
At this point suspicion should be encouraged of any new craze or institution suddenly springing up in the city. It’s also a bit worrying how everything gets worse when Ami tries to analyse the videotape at the game centre. The horde of mind-controlled people is quite scary , although cured and dispersed with the typical ease of the story so far.
Inducement of the general populace to do ill in Sailor Moon seems to be like a fog of the mind, and shine a bright enough light it will disperse quickly, because people for the most part are decent and not willing to serve evil ends.
I had been meaning to remark on how swiftly and easily the Four Kings of Heaven were getting killed off in each of their confrontations, but it has been growing less so on each occasions. In this case he seemed - I did not find the story clear on which this was - he seemed quite tough and unable to be done in by the three who were there to face him. Until of course Sailor Venus shows up to defeat him in a dramatic cliffhanger reveal at the very end, right when she is finally needed.
Plotful in motion!
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