Saturday, August 19, 2017

Explaining the Bay of Naples to aliens

[This was originally posted on Facebook and was inspired by these musings from the internet about what aliens might find strange about humans, if we drop the assumption that all other life must be like us.  While the musings are good in general, the two that most inspired this were the actual mention of Pompeii at the very end and an alien freaking out in response to the fact that we explored the poles with humans instead of specially built drones:]
Alien: . . . and they didn't die?
Human: Well, the first few did.
Alien: PEOPLE DIED OF THE COLD AND YOUR SOLUTION WAS TO SEND MORE PEOPLE???!?!?!?
[Anyway, Bay of Naples]

Alien: So it took out multiple cites --not villages, cities-- from the most advanced human civilization in existence at the time, in a way so violently legendary that you named Super Death Eruptions after it, and then you went and set up bigger more populated cities there just because?

Human: Well, no. First the people who survived by virtue of running like Hell in the lead up went back, dug down through the ash layer--

Alien: The literal tons of Death Ash that had the cities covered deeper than a height of three humans.

Human: Well, just on the good side, the other side wasn't buried in ash so much as smashed by a fast moving mountain.

Alien: Right, the Super-Heated Death River composed of rock and --

Human: We call it a--

Alien: It's more than a flow, it's more than fire, and it does more than simply break things!

Human: Whatever, first people went back to the city destroyed on the side that didn't get smashed, and dug in the ground to get their valuables.

Alien: Everyone in the entire area was eradicated by a force so beyond your comprehension you wouldn't even begin to try to understand it for nearly two thousand years --see, I can do human terms-- and they just strolled back over so they could dig in the Death Ash that had killed off almost everyone they'd ever known in hopes of finding their old shiny things?

Human: And after that we realized that the ground--

Alien: The Death Ash that left your expired species-mates without proper funerary rituals between three and four human heights beneath your feet.

Human: --was really good for agriculture, so we figured why not?

Alien: Because it would kill you.

Human: Well since then it's only had, like, little eruptions that were only mildly deadly and merely burned and melted through the towns and cities.

Alien: And you didn't, maybe, take this as a sign that the area wasn't safe?

Human: Well it's a really nice place, and people go their for fun--

Alien: To a massive Death Mountain!?

Human: Well there was a societal collapse, unrelated of course--

Alien: I refuse to believe that that could in any way be obvious.

Human: So after a while we sort of forgot about the ruined cities.

Alien: At this point they were massive unmarked graves.

Human: But when we rediscovered them we sent people there to dig th--

Alien: You rediscovered that this place was Death Incarnate and your response was to send people into the kill zone?

Human: Well how else would we dig up the buried cities to get good looks at them?

Alien: But they were deadly!

Human: Yeah, while digging we found these cavities in the ash and weren't sure what they were, so finally someone decided to just pour in some plaster to get a better feel for their shape, it was a very low tech time, and we found out that that they were the impressions of the dead people.

Alien: They were what?

Human: Well by the time the bodies had decayed the ash was packed pretty solid, so it kept their shapes preserved, now you can see the faces of the dead people, preserved more or less in the state they died.

Alien: And you still didn't evacuate?

Human: Hell no! It's a major tourist attraction.

Alien: It's-- a-- why? Who would-- WHAT!?

Human: Walk the streets of the fallen city, look at the people who fell with it. Reconnect with history. You know, the whole--

Alien: I most certainly do not know. Why do you people always run toward death and destruction?

Human: Well it's pretty, and it gives us a sense of connection with the past, and--

Alien: Past failure; the place is the worst kind of doom.

Human: Even if we didn't have parts of the city excavated to look at, nothing gives you hot springs like an active volcano. That was why Pompeii was a city instead of a nothing settlement in the first place. People came to go in the springs.

Alien: The spawn of the Death Mountain Volcano?

Human: Yeah, you should try it some time.

Alien: I'm not even going near your planet!

Human: It's a really nice place.

Alien: That planet--

Human: I meant around the volcano. It's a great spot to go for a nice relaxing vacation.

Alien: RELAXING!?

Human: It's renowned for how laid back and relaxed the population around there is, and it's got--

Alien: Please tell me you at least have an evacuation plan.

Human: Well that depends on whether there's a lead up or not. If its a quiet that build takes us off guard, well the biggest city around is only three minutes out as the pyroclastic mass flows so--

Alien: You can't evacuate a city in three minutes with your technology.

Human: True. So evacuation plans only work if the mountain gives us some decent warnings. And some people won't evacuate anyway, they'd rather bet on the chance that it's a false alarm than leave--

Alien: The Horrible Death Zone!

Human: Exactly. I think you finally get it.

*Alien too shocked to say anything*

*Human walks off*

Alien (to self): I "get" none of this.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chatlog -or- Not that kind of necromancy

[Random thought about a text message conversation between parallel worlds that briefly grazes the topic of how you might want to be cautious when you don't know the lay of the theological land as well as you did back home.]

24601: Hey.

Abelian Cue: Hey

Abelian Cue: Whatever you're typing, break it up into smaller chunks.

Abelian Cue: You seriously don't have to compose a novel before hitting submit.

24601: Do you know any kind of necromancy --not stupid fiction "I raise a zombie army" scare-quotes "necromancy", actual-definition learning secrets from the dead necromancy-- that isn't evil "sell your soul and fray your morals" magic which I would be able to learn without blowing myself up?

Abelian Cue: Why?

24601: I need to talk to the native-to-this-universe version of me, but she died about a decade before I arrived.

Abelian Cue: That would explain why you never had to deal with a double.

Abelian Cue: Wait, _she_!?

24601: Don't get hung up on the gender.

24601: It's seriously the least important concern right now.

Abelian Cue: Why do you need to talk to her?

24601: Complicated emotional shit.

24601: Can you help?

Abelian Cue: Necromancy just has a bad name because idiots don't know what "-mancy" means.

Abelian Cue: Very few forms of divination are inherently evil.

24601: So you can help?

Abelian Cue: Maybe.

24601: Thanks.

Abelian Cue: Also maybe not.

24601: That's what "maybe" means.

24601: Could have gone without saying.

Abelian Cue: Just because the living world there keeps to a close parallel doesn't mean the afterlife there is anyone like the one back here.

Abelian Cue: *anything

24601: I am aware that things might not work.

24601: I have reason to try.

Abelian Cue: You'll explain it.

24601: Of course.

Abelian Cue: I'll dig up the right books.

Abelian Cue: See if I can get a decent ritual prepped.

24601: That's all I ask.

Abelian Cue: I'm still going to want an explanation when I cross over.

24601: I said I'd give one.

Abelian Cue: If I'm not satisfied with your reason . . .

24601: Yeah, yeah.

Abelian Cue: . . . I will head back to this world without giving you a thing.

24601: Of course.

Abelian Cue: You don't poke gods who are strange to you without good reason.

24601: It's a good reason.

Abelian Cue: We'll see.

Monday, August 7, 2017

I Can See!

It's difficult to describe the experience of getting new glasses for me.

My vision doesn't change with any great speed, and (with the exception of outright losing them) neither do my glasses.  Whether my eyes get better or worse (they've actually been on a getting better streak) my vision gradually gets worse as my eyes stop matching my prescription and my glasses are ravaged by the twin horrors of time and having me as their owner.

And then, one day, I get new glasses based off of a new prescription that matches how my eyes are right now and . . . the world changes.

It's sort of like switching from craptastic resolution to UHD, if the craptastic were scaled by blurring instead of nearest-neighbor count-the-pixel methods.

It's sort of like switching from 2D to 3D.

It's probably sort of like many things.

But it's exactly like nothing else.  Suddenly the world appears with a focus and clarity that I didn't even know was possible because I lost it too slowly to notice and had forgotten it could look like this.  I mean, I obviously know that it can look better than the prescription before the one I got six years ago (and lost down a toilet) as modified by scuffs and scratches to the lens.  That could almost go without saying.  But that doesn't mean I have a sense of what that looks like.

Part of this is doubtless my very non-imagey imagination.  I can't conjure up a memory of seeing the world correctly that includes how it looks, because I can't conjure up how anything looks.  A sense of how something looks, an idea, a feeling?  Sure.  All those I can do.  But an actual thing to see?  Nope.  Can't do it.

And so when I get new glasses the world I experience changes in a way I find myself ill-equipped to describe.

I can see.  I could see before.  I can see in a way I couldn't see before.

The world is different now.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Final vote for those meaningless awards that I nonetheless really want your vote for

Annual Kim Possible Fannie Awards time again.

So, I asked to be nominated, and I was; I asked to be voted for in the preliminaries, and I was; now the final stage of this drawn out project has come round at once.

Nominating and voting are both anonymous so I have no idea if anyone here actually did any of that stuff, but I would guess that me asking here made a difference of some sort.

So, here's the deal: the absurdly large field of nominees has been winnowed down to five or six per category, now it's time for the final vote on which of those five or six should get the award.

* * *

The voting process is back to sending an email, to [kimmunityfannies (at) yahoo (dot) com], or a fanfiction.net PM, to this account, this time it's limited to one vote per category (or no vote if you have no strong opinion.)  The full list of nominees can be found here.

What follows are the categories in which I or my work was nominated, as well as other ones I have strong opinions on.

It was easier to create an exhaustive list than try to decide for each one whether I/my work really truly deserved to win each thing, but I will say that I'm not actually going to be voting for my thing in category 1 (Best KP Style Name).

Also, I think either GerbilHunter or HopefulHuskey deserves to win Best Reviewer (24), but I haven't figured out which I think deserves it more.  (Hopefully I come up with a better way to decide than flipping a coin.)  So I listed them both since "strong opinion" but someone can only vote for one of them.
  1. Best KP Style Name
    • Leela P. Poossible – Being More than A Simulacrum – ChrisTheCynic
  2. Best KP OC
    • Leela P. Possible – Being More than A Simulacrum – ChrisTheCynic
  3. Best Minor Character
    • Joss Possible – Being More than A Simulacrum – ChrisTheCynic
  4. Best Villain
  5. Best Songfic
  6. Best AU
    • Life After – Chris the Cynic
  7. Best Cross-over
  8. Best Alternate Pairing
  9. Best KiGo
  10. Best Kim/Ron
  11. Best Comedy
  12. Best Romance
  13. Best Friendship
    • Place and Joss – Being More than A Simulacrum – ChrisTheCynic
  14. Best Action/Adventure
    • Being More than A Simulacrum – ChrisTheCynic
  15. Best Drama

  16. Best One-Shot
  17. Best Series Overall
    • Touch Series – AlyssC01
  18. Most Unlikely/Unique Story
    • Life After – ChrisTheCynic
  19. Best Novel-Sized Story
    • Being More Than A Simulacrum – ChrisTheCynic
  20. Best Short Story
  21. Best Young Author
  22. Best New Author
  23. Best Lines
    • (ChrisTheCynic – From Life After) – As it was he was staying alive mostly by means of having arms. The dogs were big, the dogs were scary, the dogs were fast, but they were incapable of changing direction as quickly as a human being who could reach out, grab onto something, and pivot around it as if they hated their shoulder with a fiery passion and were just begging it to become dislocated.
  24. Best Reviewer
    • GerbilHunter
    • HopefulHuskey
  25. CPNEb Kimmunity Award
    • SharperTheWriter
  26. Kimmunity Achievement Award
  27. Best Story
    • Forgotten Seeds – ChrisTheCynic
  28. Best Writer
    • ChrisTheCynic

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Species Dissonance (MLP:FiM + EG)

I did warn you that Sunset Shimmer fanfiction might appear at some point, granted I wasn't really expecting it to be so soon or to skip the entire story just to address a point about . . . yeah.  So, anyway, I have this fragment.

Things it would be useful to know:
  • Sunset Shimmer was a unicorn pony in Equestria but then spent her teenage years as a human in ??? (definitely not the earth we know since skin and hair color match My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fur and mane colors which are generally not real life human colors.)
  • Luna is an apparently immortal co-ruler of Equestria, god of night, and can visit the ponies of Equestria in their dreams.  She's what the series calls an alicorn: she has the wings of a Pegasus, the horn of a unicorn, and the *mumble mumble* of a non-Pegasus non-unicorn pony (called an "earth pony".)
  • Both Luna and Sunset originally appeared as villains until Twilight Sparkle, with the help of five friends, slammed them with the rainbow magic of friendship which instantly reformed them but didn't help so much with aftereffects of being evil like feeling guilt or being shunned.
  • The following takes place while the two are in Equestria (pony form both) and sharing a picnic with each other.

* * *

Luna leaned forward, into what would have been a wonderfully romantic first kiss if Sunset had met her in the middle instead of jerking backward.

Luna pulled back herself, "I'm sorry, I thought . . ."

It isn't often one sees their immortal god-pony ruler at a flustered loss for words, but this had been bound to happen eventually.  Sunset had known that it would, just as she'd known the right thing to do would have been to keep their relationship from ever reaching this point.  She'd just felt too drawn to Luna to keep an appropriate distance.

"It's not--" no, wrong words.  Sunset tried again, "You didn't do anything wrong, it's just that I . . ." how exactly could she explain this?

There was a long, very awkward, silence.

Sunset sighed.

"It would be easier to show you," Sunset said.  "Could you visit my dreams tonight?"

"I could," Luna said.

Sunset closed her eyes and nodded.

"Please do that," Sunset said.  "I can show you my problem --mine, not yours-- and you'll at least know that nothing is your fault."

"I will," Luna said. "However, I do not believe you have done anything wrong."

"There are things I should have told you," Sunset said.  "But I was . . . I'll just show you tonight.  Thank you for the chance."

It was tense as the two ponies finished their food, Sunset felt she'd ruined the picnic and royally-- nope, wrong choice of words.  Massively screwed everything up.

Luna would probably hate her when she learned that Sunset had known from the beginning that the relationship couldn't work, but Sunset considered that . . . acceptable, if it meant Luna knew that she wasn't at fault.


* * *

Sunset's dreams were only somewhat visual, a lot of it was made of thought-stuff and abstraction.  She didn't necessarily see that Twilight was over there so much as have a feeling indicating that the concept of "Twilight Sparkle" was located in the concept of "over there".  What was visual didn't really mesh well with itself as her mind tried to construct a world from the perspective of a human and of a pony at the same time.  She'd never really noticed how disjointed it could be before.

Things, though, were coming into a sharper focus than they ever had before.

Then other people, human and pony alike, started fading away and she became aware of another presence in this world.  She glanced down at her own body, noted her hands, and then focused on the other presence.

Soon she and Princess Luna were face to face and everything other than the two of them had drifted away into insignificance.

"I'm seeing a human form, I presume," Luna said.

"You're seeing me," Sunset said.  "I may have been born in Equestria, but I finished growing up as a human in the human world.

"This is who I am."

"I see," Luna said.

"It doesn't bother me to be in a pony body," Sunset said, "but being human has left other marks on me.  I . . . I'm only attracted to other humans." Sunset looked away so she wouldn't have to see Luna's reaction. "I want to love you." That wasn't right. "I do love you," that was right, "but I can't find a pony attractive.  I just . . . there's nothing there."

Sunset looked at her feet, in her shoes.  Her very human feet.  "I can tell that you're beautiful, but I don't feel anything.  I wish that I could control my attraction, because I love you and I want the same kind of relationship you seem to want, but I can't.  I'm just . . ."

Luna said nothing.

"Unless you have one Hell of a strange kink that happens to be incredibly useful as part of a vanishingly unlikely coincidence, there's no way a relationship between us can work and I am so, so sorry for leading you on," Sunset said.

There was silence.

Luna finally broke it by asking, "Are you finished?"

Sunset nodded.

"Please look at me."

Sunset looked at the majestic blue Alicorn with starlight in her mane and tail.  Beautiful, but Sunest felt no attraction.  Luna was just a pretty a pony, no different than a pretty duck, a pretty squid, or a pretty flower as far as Sunset's human-conditioned libido was concerned.

"Perhaps what matters," Luna said, "is not what kink I have, but what I'm willing to do for the one I love."  Luna's form melted away and was replaced by a young woman --college age, like Sunset-- with skin the color of Luna's fur and hair like a starlit night, the same as Luna's mane had been.

Sunset worried a bit that Luna hadn't really come to visit her and this was merely a good dream.  Still either way the correct response was to treat it as real.

"You--" Sunset tried, and failed, to start.  "You're really ok with . . . with taking on a human form for me?" Sunset asked.

"I don't pretend to know if this will work," Luna said, "but I am willing to try."

Luna took a step forward and the world around them sprang from nothing to a perfect memory of their picnic as it had been when Luna had leaned in for a kiss.

"Now," Luna asked.  "Where were we?"

The kiss was something Sunset could happily spend eternity feeling.

When they broke off, Luna said, "If the real world is this good, our next date should be in the human world."

"And if it isn't?" Sunset asked.

"We'll always have dreams," Luna said.

"I love you," Sunset said before kissing Luna again.

* * *

It wasn't long after Sunset woke up that there was knocking on her door.  She opened it to find Luna, pony-Luna not dream-Luna, standing just outside.

"I'm very busy today, and will not be able to spend time with you," Luna said, "but you requested I verify that what happened last night was more than just a dream."

*
* *
* * *
* *
*

Ok, so . . . canonically Twilight Sparkle has no problem switching from pony-attraction to human-attraction in a real hurry, because what would a movie be if it didn't have an awkward semi-romantic subplot?  (Better.  It would be better.)

That said, I'm not really on board with the idea that jumping through a magical portal rewrites what you're attracted to so that it matches the dominant species in the dimension.  I'm not entirely sure why I'm not on board with that idea given the other out-there things that I have absolutely no problem accepting as part of the story universe, but I'm just not on board.

If we flip things and have Sunset, who is presented as almost exclusively human in spite of her pony origins, go to Equestria I'd can definitely see her looking at ponies the way an average human does: with zero lust.

Luna being a dreamwalker presents the possibility of dealing with the problems that would create in a romantic relationship in a novel way.  Where I took the story allowed me present Luna as someone who isn't tied to a specific way of how a body should be either in terms of her own identity or in terms of her lover's form.  Granted Twilight Sparkle's experiences in the Equestria Girls movies try to set that up as default, but I feel would be a good deal rarer.

Another Year Older

Today is my birthday.  Well . . . today is my birthday unless you're not reading this on August 3rd, or you're more into a "First [day of the week] in [month]" thing in which case it's this Saturday, or it could be the third day (or first Saturday) after the second full moon after the Summer Solstice in which case next Wednesday (or the following Saturday.)

Pretty much regardless of how you look at it, if you're in any way linked to the solar year my birthday falls on some day near now.

I considered a flippant, "What did you get me?" but the truth is that you all have kept me from becoming homeless, bought me Cadbury eggs for Easter when I said I couldn't afford any this year, got me playing cards when I asked for them (it'll be a while before I ever need a new deck again even if I use them for all of my bizarre projects I had in mind, if I can remember what those were), got me a gift certificate for really nice socks that one time, bought me video games so I didn't lose my mind to boredom while a broken ankle and need to elevate forced me to be laying on my back (with my foot above me) nigh constantly, got me a fucking console to play the games on before that, and done so much more.

I know what you've gotten me, and I am so, so grateful.

And, apparently, still never spell grateful correctly on the first try.  (I feel like it should have a "great" in it.)

If you particularly want to get me anything, which you don't need to do . . .

Let me emphasize that: "which you don't need to do".  I'm not expecting anything, I'm not asking for anything, this is more me using the post to think "out loud", in a figurative kind of way, about things I could use.

-

At this point I could use Lego "system" bricks (the standard height ubiquitous square and rectangular Lego bricks) because they're really useful in mold making (you need to pour the liquid silicone into something and wait for it to dry, a container that can be constructed to whatever size you need is incredibly useful.)  Also base plates.

Still on the Lego front, at some point I want to work on collecting one of each (in terms of form, not color variations) Lego hair, hat, or head piece.  Though that's a more distant project with no ETA whatsoever.

Some day I'm going to want a vacuum chamber for casting purposes (bubbles can be a real problem under certain circumstances.)  The expensive part of such a thing is the vacuum pump itself.  The rest can be made from cheap materials.

It's a dream of mine, that I doubt will ever come true, to have a decent gaming computer.  Did you know that you can buy two to three gaming consoles (with money left over) for the price of one high end PC GPU?  I don't think I'll be buying the parts needed to make a gaming PC until I'm rich, but I'd totally welcome second hand stuff from people who just upgraded.  (The GPU is but one example.)

If there's a book anywhere on earth (I haven't found one yet) that talks about types of angels and gives detailed accounts of what's believed about each one in various traditions and folklore and such, damn would I want that.  The best I ever seem to find is, "This book has a lot vague stuff about the author's beliefs and maybe two pages briefly saying X group believes in Y angel-type which I'll describe in the least descriptive way possible (and then never touch again) in one short, mostly disappointing, paragraph."

Bookshelves, but this is (above and beyond the rest) in the "thinking out loud" category because even if someone did want to help out with that shipping costs are terrible.  Well a GPU or vacuum pump would probably be expensive enough that they'd rival bookshelf shipping costs.  Like I said, thinking out loud.

Um . . . yeah, brain not work.

Using the post to create a list of stuff has failed.

Whatever.

Have a post.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Some thoughts about the origin of flight

We don't really know how flight came along.  We just know that it did, and it did multiple times.  [pre-post edit] I'll be sticking to non-insect flight. [/edit]  There are many theories, and here's my totally non-scientific one:

It was hopping.

Feathers and stretched membrane are both used in thermoregulation and mating displays, so the things that would eventually become flight among non-insects definitely show up for their own reasons, but there's a long way to go between "I've got feathers/membrane" and "I can fly".

So how did the building blocks of flight become flight?  I really think it was hopping.

A lot of people say gliding and I just don't buy that.  If "flying" squirrels or "flying" fish ever develop actual flight it's going to be something totally unlike the flight we're used to in other non-insects.  Truth be told, I'm not sure what flight that evolved from their gliding starts would even look like.

Moreover, I don't see a natural progression from gliding to flying.  I can see it for hopping.

You've got your membrane or feathers on your limbs for whatever reason but it's not enough to let you fly.  Can you use this for anything beyond what it first appeared for?  The answer is, I think, yes.

Once there's enough of it to really push air, you can use it for something.  You can use it to assist in hopping.  The ill fated bird that I tried to save after my cat caught it and injured it couldn't do something that even resembled flying, but do you know what it could do when it tried to fly?  It could hop like nobody's business.

It didn't have enough properly powered flight surface to fly, but it sure as fuck could hop on a level that could in no way be attributed to its legs.

And that's what I've always assumed came before flight.  Hopping.

It makes sense to me.  The building blocks of wings end up allowing animals to power hop as a complete byproduct, unrelated to the evolutionary pressures that created them, but once the animals have that power they use it and then it becomes a selective pressure of its own.

The longer one can hop the better able one is to survive, so as soon as you have wing-powered hopping you've got selective pressure that makes the best wing-powered hoppers most likely to pass on their genes.  Combine that with random mutation and a metric fuckton of time and you've got animals that are able to stay in the air for longer and longer as evolution marches on, and then, eventually, you have an animal that isn't a wing-powered hopper anymore.  It's an actual flier.

That's where I think wings come from.  Non-flight related things have a byproduct of arms that can be flapped to extend the duration and distance of one's hop.  Those with the best hop duration and/or distance survive more, and finally it reaches a point where it's stopped being hopping at all, the flapping limbs have grown so strong that they can actually achieve flight.

I have a great deal of difficulty seeing gliding leading to flight in the same way.  The problem is, basically, that no matter how great of a glider selection makes one into, gliding doesn't have any inherent mechanism that would lead to power.  Flight requires power.

Using flapping to extend a hop is all about power, with gliding eventually falling out (in some cases) as a side effect of the machinery developed to do that.

A flapping hop naturally points in the direction of flight, a glide doesn't.  Longer and longer glides, yes, but not flight.  Likewise, starting with a flap can lead to body parts well equipped to glide, but I don't see how starting with a glide would lead to body parts equipped to flap.

So there are some thoughts on wings.

[Which was the original name of this post.]

Monday, July 31, 2017

Sometimes I feel like I need a checklist (state of my mind; depression)

[content notes for depression and animal death]

I feel like I should have a checklist.  I said in comments that it was because even treated my depression can come out to play when I'm sufficiently off balance.  The bottom drops out.  Instead of normal highs and lows I have normal highs and as for the lows . . . my brain doesn't know how to do them.  I usually say I spent “half my life” with depression that was either untreated or not responding to treatment.

That might be a low estimate (then again, it might be high) the truth is by the time I was into college I didn't remember what “normal” even was, from an emotional point of view.  And I certainly don't remember when I ever was it.

That leaves a mark on you, the brain operates by trying things out, treading paths, and making patterns.  Spend enough time in the same pattern treading the same path and you've worn them into ruts that are hard to escape.  No medication, no matter how good, can change the paths I've trod.  My brain doesn't do “feeling down” it does full blown clinical depression (in two flavors no less.)

That blurs lines.  In this case it made it so I didn't realize that what was happening wasn't the scars of having depression for so long I don't remember what life before was like.  It was being depressed again.

The truth is that it probably started as the lingering aftereffects and then moved into full blown depression without me ever really noticing that a line had been crossed.

I feel like I should have a checklist.

* * *

Having trouble even moving?  Check.

Spending days not eating, except (perhaps) an easily grabbed snack or two?  Check.

Not getting to sleep because it was two difficult to stand up and get to my toothbrush?  Check.

Obsessively reading fanfiction for a children's cartoon that I'm not really that interested in at the moment?  Definite Check.

Reading a story on the internet, desperately searching for another, reading that, and repeating from when I get up until it's well past time for bed, to the exclusion of eating, drinking, or anything else body-care related as if shoving a bunch of text in my brain will somehow fill the void inside me? Check

Allowing the search for said fanfic to become my sole driving force as if “search, click, read, click, search, click, read, click repeat” could really sate the gaping maw that is the emptiness?  Check.

Forgetting-ish to take my “first thing in the morning so you can't really outright forget this if you were asleep and are now awake” medication until well into the afternoon, if I remember at all?  Check.

Becoming so cooped up in my house that the outside world might as well be a forgotten flight of fancy?  Check.

Being dehydrated?  Check.

Desperately running around my house looking for socks--

Don't you mean clean socks?

ANY FUCKING SOCKS!

Ok, Jesus, you don't need to--

Maybe I do!  Ok!?  Maybe I need to vent because not all of us have the benefit of being context-less italic writing used rhetorical effect.  Some of us exist outside of a device used to act like there's a dialogue when in fact it's just a monologue, and that existence can be really fucking hard, so don't you dare pretend you know how it feels.

You've been planning that since you had the idea for this exchange while looking for socks an hour and a half ago, haven't you?

Get out of my head stupid italic interlocutor.

I am getting out of your head, that's the entire point of writing this entire exchange.  Once I'm on the page, as it were, you'll move on.  Maybe.

Shut up.

Wait, don't shut up.  Tell me where the fuck I was, then shut up.

Socks.

Desperately running around my house looking for socks well past the point of reason (because I know I've already checked the places I'm looking several times and socks do not spontaneously generate if you look in the same places thirty one times instead of thirty)--

Exaggerate much?

--to the point that it's not even about the fucking socks anymore, not that I have socks (which I really do need), and it's just become a pointless exercise of getting overheated, sweaty, frustrated, and late?  Check.

How in fuck did it take that long to get to the “check”?

Why am I still jammed on the part where I pretend a soliloquy is a dialogue?

Not doing dishes for so long that there are no clean dishes and then still not doing dishes because --good fucking God-- I can't even face them?  Check.

Standing with my head pressed up against the wall as if it would somehow relieve the pressure that could be dehydration, malnutrition, or sleep deprivation but definitely manifests as a headache?  Check.

Being (almost) completely unable to write fiction?  Check.

Or much of anything else?  Check.

Being so far gone I can't even watch a movie?  That's actually a new one, but sure, whatever, check.

Neglecting my plants to the the point that they die?  Thankfully no check there yet, but I've got a new one to take it's place: trying to help a bird that my cat injured but didn't kill while actually doing nothing but extending its life (less than two days) with captivity punctuated by moments of abject terror (being captured by a human, especially an incompetent one, is really scary), in other words bringing misery and suffering such that it would have been better off being left with the cat that was toying with it rather than giving it a clean death?  Check so fucking hard.

I found it dead this morning.  Maybe it died of its injuries, maybe it died of exacerbating the injuries during those moment of terror when I gave it an opening that it thought meant escape but would have just led to it dying alone wherever it ended up still trapped inside my house.  Maybe it died from smashing its head into the bars of the cage that I thought would be better for it (bird poop fumes are noxious) because it didn't seem to grasp the fact that it couldn't fit through the bars.  Maybe it would have lived if I'd managed to hand it off to a god damned professional sooner.

Like I said: God damned check.

Spending ungodly amounts of time doing nothing, and I don't mean relaxing, I mean fucking nothing?  (Nothing is terrible.  I don't recommend it.)  Check.

Having everything in place to do things I WANT TO FUCKING DO and never getting around to doing them?  Month after month?  Check.

Wanting to cry but being unable to produce tears?  Check.

Not getting my pages done?  Check.

Not getting anything done?  Check.

Becoming void, for I am nothing and nothing is me and emptiness is all there is?  Check, check, motherfucking check.

No longer reading Slacktivist?  Check.

Hey, I just managed to cry.  Sort of.  I haven't produced a single full tear yet, but somewhere between the last two both of my eyes started watering so it's something.

Falling behind schedule when there's almost nothing on the schedule (one fucking thing) so I have no excuse?  Check.

Becoming a useless lump of inertia who isn't able to help anyone or anything?  Check.  Oh so very check.  I'm actually about to spend five days where someone I should be helping will in fact be stuck getting me to actually eat and keeping me on my schedule in spite of that being extremely inconvenient for her since my schedule and hers don't align at all and [stuff redacted because I felt it was getting too in depth].

Did I mention the dishes?  Because we can add to the the fact that I haven't done my own dishes in so long that I've got nothing to eat off of [some kind of break here] the fact that helping out by hand-washing someone else's dishes --honestly it should be the least I can do in exchange for keeping me fed and thus, you know, alive-- is well and truly beyond me?  Yes, I just said I'm doing less than what should be the least I can do.  Check.

Allowing unknown rodents to run around my house and damage my calm because I can't do the minimal cleaning that would be necessary to make them know they are not welcome?  (Cat, why couldn't you go after them instead of the bird?  We don't have a bird problem.)  Check.

Living surrounded by growing piles of not-quite-trash that should be easy to deal with?  Check.

Failing basic hygiene forever?  Check.

Getting really fucking angry at fictional characters and shouting at them while acting out scenes I wish other fictional characters had with them?  Check.

Not recording any of that shit so it can't be adapted into (what would be admittedly shitty) fiction posts?  Check.

Letting my body get the point where I feel like I'm going to pass out, even though I know I won't?*  Check.

Not being sure that passing out in a random place would be a bad thing?  Check.

Being in a worse brain-space then I was when I had a god damned fucking concussion?  Check.

Forgetting basic things on a level that can't be explained by my usual, pretty extreme, forgetfulness?  Check.

Prolonged hopelessness?  Check.

General lack of any positive emotions, and sometimes (many times) any emotions at all?  Check.

This? Check.

Being so out of it days, weeks, and even months blend together into an interchangeable mass of “blah” and it's entirely possible I won't even realize I've been talking to someone, what it was about, or critical information that was imparted, because a few minutes ago is no different than a month ago and I have few memories of a month ago so . . . yeah.  Check.

Having a song I haven't heard in years stuck on infinite repeat in my head?  Check.

Just the chorus?  Check.

Just two lines of the chorus?  Check.

From a movie I didn't even like that much?  Check.

And still getting the fucking words wrong in spite of knowing full well what the right words are?  Check.

Feeling like the existence of other people (or living beings in general) is an assault on my senses, because why won't the fucking universe leave me alone?  Check.

A lack of empathy beyond the whole “I'd rather you not be dead” thing?  Check.

General assholic thinking?  Check.

No one really knowing about the previous because that would require a level of interaction, effort, and general stuff which I can't possibly manage/maintain/produce?  Check.

Still feeling bad about the previous previous even though the single-previous means it hasn't inconvenienced anyone?  Check.

Forgetting what the point, not just of this stupid checklist but also of life in general, was?  Check.

[added because I wrote it elsewhere and initially forgot to merge]

Being unable to do incredibly basic math because my brain is so very not braining right now? Check.

[/added]

* * *

Yeah.  Sometimes I feel like I should have a checklist.

The truth is that I never recovered from the broken ankle.

I had to go off my hormones due to the surgery and stay off them for an ungodly amount of time afterward.  I noticed the hit to my mood.  Things got better afterward, but they never got back to where they were before.  By the time I could walk I was so fucking sedentary from not being able to.  I'd moved to a different place because it was easier in my “can't walk state” and haven't moved back which makes it harder to stand up when I'm using the computer (not much harder, the difference is so little that it normally wouldn't matter) which in turn leaves me staying on the computer all the fucking time in an effort to fill the void.

I just . . . I got knocked down, figuratively, and never got up again.

So, does this mean I'll go on hiatus?  God, I hope not.

Does it mean that you'll get slammed with Sunset Shimmer fanfic at some point down the line? (My Little Pony: [Friendship is Magic:] Equestria Girls)   Possibly.  At this point I'd welcome anything I could actually get written.

Does this mean that I'm in a really fucking crappy funk and I don't know when I'll get out or how to get out?  Yes.  I never needed more than my meds before.  If the meds aren't keeping me out of a depressed state right now then . . . there are patterns I know I should break, and it would be easy to break them if I weren't fucked up, but if they're what's keeping me fucked up . . . yeah: that.

I'm on a two hour bus ride.  The AC is broken.  Fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck.

You know what's really good at overriding other factors and fucking over my mood and everything else?  Heat.

Also, to find socks I ended up having to rummage through a bag of dirty clothes and the things on my feet are God-damned soggy.

Is there a difference between “God damned” and “God-damned”?  For some reason I didn't feel the need to use the second until the previous, having used the first throughout the rest of the post.

I'm going to have to go now, I'll be off the bus by the time I come back to this utterly pointless post.

* * *

Ok, in a place with air conditioning, truly a gift from the gods even if it did lead to a migration of major population centers to places that probably shouldn't house major population centers of people who haven't even learned the first thing about living in such climates, but its misuse doesn't make it less of a divine gift.

So, um, where was I?

Depression, back in full swing.

The only reason I even wanted to see the end of the damned movie was for the horrible filthy rich person who was fucking named "Filthy Rich" get his comeuppance which . . . never happened.  He just slunk away with his dignity intact and I somehow ended up spending a weekend reading Sunset Shimmer fanfiction to the exclusion of all else (not all other reading, all other things) in spite of being one of the few people on earth who was only ever mildly taken with MLP:FiM (and I've only seen two of the Equestria Girls movies.)

And I think that basically covers it:
--Depression: On
--Name of rut stuck in: Sunset Shimmer
--Bird: Dead
--Extremely lacking in: Socks
--Odds of me posting something interesting in the near future: Low

-

* This, this right here is why the question comma needs to be a thing.  The part before the comma is a question, the part after is more of a statement/clarification.  Sure, the whole thing can be taken as the question, but the intent is for only the part before the comma to be the question, as I'd check it off even if the post comma addendum weren't true.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Monster-Ecosystem Apocalypse -- Infodump (or: Welcome to the doppel-verse)

Meta Note: I can't remember if it's 16 or 18.  If you're someone who has had trouble because of text size combined with using a device that doesn't make it easy to customize text size, tell me if this size is good.

I didn't expect that what would get me out of my no-writing funk would be a game in a genre I don't even like, but I'm certainly glad I decided to take the risk of buying it because it's given me so many ideas.

The explanation for "Monster-Ecosystem Apocalypse" is that it's not always just zombies or vampires or werewolves (has anyone made a movie of the werewolf apocalypse?) sometimes it's the new mother nature taking over.  Thus earth life as we know it is being supplanted by . . . um, is there a word with a meaning like "kaiju" but without the regional implications and less focused on "Really, really fucking huge"?

And I imagine a metal street light that looks like it's been crossed with a tree (branches and such) as an example of one non-"I kill you" instance of the new mother nature.  Anyway, exposition dump in the form of an induction lecture into the group that fights against the new mother nature:

* * *

Given that the current regime doesn't place education as a high priority, I'm going to assume that you know nothing other than how to understand the language.  This isn't because I think it's true, it's because that way I'll be sure not to leave anything you don't know out.

Try not to fall asleep because some of the points in this little lecture will be important and I'm not planning on announcing them by waking everyone up.

So, you're all here to learn more about doppels, because when I think of monsters that might cause humanity to go extinct, I always think they should have a cutesy name.  People do that with the strangest of dangerous things which may explain why there's currently a petition to rename really sharp broken glass shards “those sparkly-warkly thingy-wingies.”

Is that true? Probably not, but I wouldn't categorically rule out the possibility.

So we'll start with the basics.

“Doppel” is short for “Doppelganger” which in turn comes for the term “Doppelganer Cell”.

When we first encountered anything Doppel-related they were single celled life forms.  They were also unlike anything we've seen before and based on their make-up would appear to have a different origin from all other life on earth.  They don't have DNA, the organelles within the cells are things we've never really figured out, and the cell walls do things that seem downright impossible.

I see a hand, pronouns and your reason for sticking your hand up.

Ne, nir, nem. About being unlike all other life on earth, you don't subscribe to the alien invasion theory, do you?

No, I think that there are much simpler ways to attack a planet than seeding it with a few Doppelganger Cells and waiting for them to kill off all native life.  That said, we truly have no idea whatsoever where they came from.  It's possible that they simply arose naturally.  Life on earth was produced once, there's no reason it couldn't have happened a second time.  Or it could be that life as we know it came about second, but they were dormant until something woke them up.

Certainly there was time for life to evolve before the earth was hit with another planet in the collision that created the moon, and if anything could have survived such an event Doppelganger Cells could.

The idea that they come from space, not as an attack, does have some merit given that they clearly don't have a common origin with other earth life and they're more than capable of riding a meteor down to earth's surface without dying in the process.

While many think they might have been the result of experimentation, perhaps to create a weapon or terraform hostile environments, I find that extremely hard to believe given that no one was prepared for them and they were not initially found near any labs.

What's important is not where they came from, but what happened when they arrived or were awakened.

Now, I was talking about the origin of the name.

The Doppelganger Cells got their name because it was discovered that they could mimic any cell type they came into contact with.  Humankind rejoiced at the discovery of what they thought was the ultimate stem cell, something that could be whatever was needed, not just for people but for anything.  A Doppelganger Cell could take on the form and function of a human nerve cell or a spider's eye cell, or any other cell with ease and speed.

It was believed that they would revolutionize medicine and bring about an end to injury and disease.

It's likely a very good thing such research never made it to human trials.

The scientists working on them found that if they put them in a Petri dish with, say, a heart cell, the Doppelganger Cells might take on the characteristics of a heart cell, or they might take on the characteristics of the plastic making up the Petri dish. They also might do a bit of both.

Thus the realization that they weren't merely able to take on the exterior form and function of other cells, but rather that they could pretty much perfectly duplicate anything that isn't smaller than they are.

To put that into perspective, the finest grain gunpower has a significantly larger particle size than the average Doppelganger Cell.  Think about that for a moment.

We'll come back around to it.

The scientific community has no idea how they're able to copy . . . everything –our lack of knowledge might, possibly, have something to do with doppels running roughshod over the world and destroying most labs in the process; not to mention a significant portion of the scientific community– but the important thing isn't how they can copy things, it's that they can do it. They reproduce by absorption and take on the characteristics of whatever they absorb.

Containment at the first labs to study doppel cells failed well before anyone noticed, entire sections of some labs –the walls, ceilings, floors, equipment– had been converted by the time containment failure was discovered.

Thank whatever gods may be that they weren't in bioweapons labs.

Anyway, that's a pretty good primer on Doppelganger Cells, doppel cells for short. Some call them “D-Cells” but I'm told that that can lead to confusion because it was supposedly the name of a type of battery before the change. I have my doubts.

Calling them “DCs” is out for some sort of intellectual property rights reason, but my rant on how copyright law surviving the collapse of civilization when much better things did not is a different lecture entirely.

Beyond their ability to take on any form or function, you should be aware of one simple fact: the doppel cells have never fundamentally changed.  From when we first encountered them to now, they are either exactly the same or close enough that we can't tell the difference.  They have not evolved in the slightest.

Yes, person with the hand up, pronouns and question.

She, hers, her; the doppels aren't single celled, so how can you say they haven't evolved?

I can say it because it's true.  Your question is a good one, though, and gets at the heart of the matter about what all this means.  The Doppelganger Cells have not appreciably changed since their original discovery.  Each one is a mono-cellular life form capable of mimicking anything it touches to the point of being functionally identical when they wish to be, and that's the same as it ever was.

While doppel cells haven't changed, doppels, without the word “cell” affixed to the back end, have changed drastically.  Originally the cells and the doppels were one in the same, but by the time scientists were panicking about containment loss in testing labs, researchers at the area where doppel cells were first discovered came across the first confirmed multi-cellular doppels in the form of what they first believed to be a new species of earth worm.

It wouldn't be discovered until much later that those worms, like all doppels, were not truly individual life forms but instead colonies of doppel cells.

I see a hand, pronouns and questions.

They, their, them.  All multi-cellular life is made up of a conglomeration of individual living cells; why should it change things to know doppels are made of doppel cells?  We all probably knew that without being told.

That's true, but the distinction is incredibly important.  If I cut off your hand –composed of living cells, as you note– and no charming surgeon shows up to reattach it while sweeping you off your feet, what would happen to the cells in your now-severed hand?

They'd die.

Exactly.

That's what it means to be part of a singe life form.  The individual cells depend on the whole to stay alive and without it they can't survive.  Some things can regenerate a whole new individual from a severed body part, but even the most starfishy starfish of all starfish-kind can't boast that if you removed just one of its cells that cell would be able to survive and thrive on its own.

Dopple cells can.  When they're cut off from their colony, they don't die. They wait around a bit to see if the colony will reestablish contact, and if it doesn't they simply move on and do something else. Some of you have doubtless witnessed when a severed doppel limb appears to dissolve.

Since the cells are no longer part of a colony that needs them in that form, they stop taking that form.  The formless mass of cells collapses and spreads out across the ground like some sort of spilled fluid, and usually becomes indistinguishable from the ground itself.

Even when the colony is destroyed, the vast majority of doppel cells making up that colony survive.

We're getting a bit ahead of things though, and I'm kind of surprised I haven't seen a hand on this particular matter.

I've said that the cells reproduce by absorption.  They come into contact with a material, they absorb it, a process we don't really understand happens, they spit out a new cell created from the absorbed matter and displaying its properties.

This is how they learn to mimic things.

I've also said that they can mimic any material we know of, provided it isn't smaller than they are.

Further, Doppelganger Cells are a material we know of.

So hasn't anyone wondered why doppel cells aren't in a constant war of trying to absorb each other?  The number of cells in a human-sized doppel is 14 digits long, and each of those cells is in contact with other cells. So why isn't there a multi-trillion sided war going on within each doppel of that size in which each cell tries to absorb the ones around it?

I see two hands, nail polish was first up. Pronouns, then questions comments or concerns.

He, his, him. Isn't it as simple as them knowing not to attack each other?

It is that simple, but then the question becomes, “How?” and that's very important. First, though, the person without nail polish.

She, hers, her. I've seen doppels eat other doppels so doesn't that mean doppel cells do feed on each other?

Not quite.  When a doppel feeds on a non-doppel the digestive process involves breaking up the material so that it all can come into contact with, and be absorbed by, doppel cells as quickly as possible.

When a doppel feeds on another doppel the digestive process is significantly different, even though it seems the same from the outside.

The ingested doppel cells are not absorbed to be used as raw materials for new doppel cells.  They are instead converted to serve the new colony they find themselves in.

Good question, though.

The answer to the question is obviously that there's a limiting property that keeps doppel cells from absorbing things they aren't meant to absorb, chiefly other doppel cells, but most doppel species aren't particularly interested in wasting energy converting the ground every time they take a step and so they also have the same property on their exterior.

Without boring you on the details, many of which are sketchy anyway, the limiting property essentially says, “Don't absorb this,” or “Don't absorb beyond this point,” in a language doppel cells understand and obey.

That limiting property, some people like to call it LP, is the basis for all of our anti-dopple technology.  We can't kill doppel cells, we can't--

Hand held high and waving like you need to use the bathroom: pronouns and question.

They, them. If what you say were true, why would we even be here?  We're supposed to fight the dopels.  Seems like a lost cause if they can't be killed.

Let me take that interesting and engaging question and break it into several vaguely related points that I can then address individually.

Fight?  Yes.  Kill?  Sort of.  Stop?  No.  Exterminate?  Not a chance in Hell.

What you'll be called on to do if you don't back out, and we'll get to the big reason why you'll want to back out, is to take down doppels, not dopple cells. Your job will be to disrupt and extinguish the colony, but the cells themselves will survive.

They'll eventually form into new doppels, and we'll be no closer to getting rid of the doppels than we were before, but hopefully you'll have put off human extinction by another day.  Do that every day and we never go extinct.

Doppel cells are extremeophiles.  Extreme heat, extreme cold, extreme pressure, extreme acid . . . none of these things will kill them

It is beyond our current ability to eradicate a cell that makes up a life form capable of drinking lava for the Hell of it and then possibly spitting it back out again as a weapon when that very same cell can also survive as close to absolute zero as we can reach, under intense radiation, and in pretty much every other scenario we can think of.

What we do here, and what you will do if you decide to join, is disperse cell colonies.  You fight the doppels, not the cells that make them up.

How you fight the doppels is something that most people don't really realize.  It's not a secret, it's just that almost no one thinks to ask.

Actually, before we get to that, colonies have one or more “nerve centers”.  They're . . . not actually made of nerves.  Most of the time.  Sometimes they are sort of nerve-esque, but not always, and the point is . . . um, let me start over.

While an individual doppel cell can be, for most purposes, anything, that doesn't mean it can store all of the information needed to create and run a colony that looks and acts like a single living creature made of various parts composed of various materials.

We're not entirely sure what causes doppel colonies to become self-aware.  One theory is that it happens when they've simply absorbed too much information for the colony cells to efficiently store without a central database which is dedicated to collecting, storing, and disseminating the information.

Another is that it happens when they absorb a living thing with self-awareness.

Another is that it just happens randomly.

Whatever the case, any doppel you encounter that's walking, flying, swimming, or otherwise moving around under its own power will have some system of cells specifically dedicated to running the colony.  It tells these cells to be feet, what that means, what they should be made of, how to take on that form, and so on.

Cut cells off from the so-called nerve center or centers for long enough, and the now-isolated cells revert to just being cells, not part of a larger structure.  That's when they seem to dissolve.

Nerve centers can be highly sophisticated, but also highly idiosyncratic.  It takes a lot of information to know how to make an entire body, how to run it, what materials the body is made of, what their properties are, and so forth.

On the other hand, knowing all of that doesn't mean that they're particularly smart.  They have the potential to be very smart, but thus far no confirmed doppel has made use of that potential.   Many doppel species didn't last long, instead getting quickly devoured by others.

No confirmed doppels seem to have high level reasoning, and this can be visible in the forms that they take.  I once witnessed a tarantula based doppel adapt after absorbing a tank.  It was within the power of the doppel to duplicate the tank so exactly that even the tank's mechanic would never be able to tell it was a duplicate.

And if some human operator were to get into the doppel-tank, and not be absorbed, they could use it as a tank which would function like a tank.

It didn't do that.

It was fully capable of recreating the tank down to the smallest detail; it had no concept of how a tank operated or why the details mattered.  It saw that the tank “stood” on its treads, so it classified them as feet.  It saw the treads were held in their shape by wheels.  It totally failed to grasp the concept of spinning wheels driving the treads to move the tank.

Instead the result was a giant armored spider doppel that walked around on eight legs each of which was apparently composed of wheels that didn't spin covered in treads that didn't tread.

And I said that I'd get back to the gunpowder.  While in a colony, individual doppel cells have no sense of self-preservation and the nerve centers can grasp concepts like burning, exploding, and “dynamite go boom.”

Individual doppel cells will blow themselves up for the good of the colony.  Which is why you may occasionally find yourselves being shot at.  Mass being pushed down a tube by an explosion is pretty easy to pick up.

Or maybe not.  Most don't have built-in guns.  But it can be picked up, is the point.

Now it's time to get back to the other thing that this was a tangent away from.  The non-secret secret.

The doppels are far less resilient than the cells. While the individual cells may be able to handle magma and not get burned, if the colony –the doppel itself– has been exclusively adapted to cold, attacking with heat can seriously disrupt the colony but only, and this is the key thing, if combined with the limiting property.

The same for attacking with blades.  Bullets are generally not recommended, but we do have our share of gun-like projectile weapons.

However we attack, whatever we attack with, we need the limiting property.  With it we can sever a limb, without it by the time the blade exited the limb the place where the blade entered would already be healed.

For our weapons to do any damage they need to tell the doppel cells “Don't grow here, don't absorb here, don't connect here,” because only then is a wound created.  That's the limiting property and what it does for us.  The problem with it is that the only thing we know of capable of producing it is doppel cells themselves.

Every weapon we use is composed, at least in part, of doppel cells.  We've just set it up so that the user is the weapon's nerve center and it will wait indefinitely for the user when not in use. Here's the big reason to back out I mentioned earlier:

You'll be composed partially of doppel cells too.  It's necessary to keep you alive when you come in contact with doppels.  It's necessary to survive some of the places we'll be sending you –unmodified humans would burst into flames or freeze in an instant and those are the light and fluffy examples– and it's necessary to be able to control your weapons.

In order to be a doppel nerve center, you've got to be part doppel.  Unless you want your equipment to start eating you, you need to be infused with doppel cells.  In order to keep the cells from devouring you from the inside out, you'll need continual injections to maintain the delicate balance of limiting property to doppel cells that keeps you human.

You cannot go AWOL.  It would kill you in a way that I don't even want to think about.  You can retire or transfer or whatever, but you'll need the injections for the rest of your life.  We call them suppressant.  We make you part doppel so you have a chance of surviving, then we spend the rest of your life suppressing that part so you remain human.

I . . . haven't seen any hands in a while.

Yeah, in the back, you know the drill.

She, hers, her.  So far the only example you've given of how the limiting property helps is that it allows limbs to be severed. We're supposed to kill them-- disperse the colonies.  How do we do that?

The limiting property stops the doppels from healing at super speed, though a non-lethal wound created using it will heal if given time.  In fact, most lethal wounds created using it will also heal given time, but scavengers are unlikely to give the fallen doppel that time.

The key is to treat the colony like a creature while it's moving, kill that creature however you can, and then –when it appears to be dead on the ground– remember that it's a living colony, not a dead creature, and rip out the nerve clusters.  Those are what tell the colony to act like a monster, and tell it how, so without them the colony is neutralized until it develops or is given a new never cluster.

However you can” sounds vague.

Many people have found that stabbing and slashing until it stops moving works well.

Given the nature of the doppel cells, and the way nerve clusters sometimes structure themselves around aesthetics over function, it isn't always as simple as “Stab it through the lung” because sometimes the lung is more of an accessory than a vital organ.

That said, they tend to set themselves up, loosely, based on non-doppel earth life, so given the appropriate –limiting factor equipped– weapons, you can often take down a colony in the way you'd take down a similar non-doppel creature.  Just don't be surprised if it takes ten times as long.

The most vital thing isn't how you take a doppel down, it's that you understand that you need to remove any nerve clusters once it is down.  And you need to be aware that the vast majority of that doppel will likely rise up to be a new doppel.  The fight is never-ending.

Also, there are reports on every form of doppel we've encountered thus far.

That's enough for this lecture, but I can assure you I have many more.

Final week of preliminary voting for meaningless awards that I nonetheless really want your vote for

Recap: This is about annual Kim Possible fanfic awards.

This year there are a lot of nominations, to the point that it makes sense to cut them down before holding a final vote.  As such, right now there are polls set up where you can vote for up to five things you think belong in the final five.

Then the finalists will eventually be in a more standard "one person one vote" election where the most votes wins.

Links to all of the polls can be found here.  If you're wondering what all of the not-my-stuff stuff is, I rounded up every work or author that has been nominated, which covers all but three categories, in this thread.  The "Find"/"Search this Page" function is your friend.

Here are direct links (not accidental "Do you really want to leave Deviant Art?" links) to the polls in which my work or myself is a nominee.  Please vote for my work/me if you deem it/me worthy.

2) Best Original Character: Leela Place Possible - Being More Than a Simulacrum
3) Best Minor Character: Joss Possible - Being more than a Simulacrum
6) Best Alternate Universe: Life After
14) Best Action/Adventure: Being More than A Simulacrum
18) Best Unlikely/Unique Story: Life After
19) Best Novel-Sized Story: Being More Than Simulacrum
25) Best Reviewer: I strongly recommend GerbilHunter and HopefulHuskey, they're far from the only good ones, but they're the only ones that make me want to go out of my way to recommend them.
27) Kimmunity Achievement Award: chris the cynic
28) Best Story Overall: Forgotten Seeds by chris the cynic
29) Best Writer: chris the cynic

If best series were also being winnowed I'd have a recommendation for that too.  Those three are the only ones I feel strongly enough about to be promoting someone else.

To avoid a wall of blue I decided not to link to the stories above, but here are the ones in contention:
* * *
I only thought to do this post, in spite of actually intending to do a one week notice post, because it was pointed out by the person in charge that there's one week left and thus the polls linked to above "will close on July 27th at midnight."  (I'm not entirely sure which time zone.)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Monthly Financial Update

Ok, so, things are bad.

Explanation of how they got that way in the next section, if you want numbers skip to the section after, if you want just numbers skip to the last section.

* * *

I think it's like this, six months ago I was planning on trying to turn things around in a number of ways and some of that involved buying stuff for home improvement, food storage, and other things.

Five months ago, before any of the stuff had even arrived (I ordered online), I broke my ankle in three places while taking the first real steps toward cleaning up the house as part of the whole "turn things around" initiative.

As in, after much thought over the optimal order to do things in, I figured out that "move these flattened cardboard boxes downstairs for storage" was the best thing to start with, and it was while doing that that I fell down the stairs and great injury and agony ensued.  While other people might fall halfway down the stairs, I went all the way from the landing (flat area at the top of the stairs, ground floor level) right down to the basement stairs.

So that fucked up all plans, including the ones involved in paying for the stuff I'd bought for the "turn things around" initiative.  Interest deferred for six months and all that.

From there, for three months or so, I languished and everything was terrible and I couldn't do much of anything but lay on the floor with my ankle elevated and play video games on a console.  (First time in my life owning a console, by the way.)

I . . . kind of got financially reckless in the name of preserving my sanity (by buying things with which to preserve my sanity.)  There might have also been some purchases related to being able to survive physically, I don't really remember though.  Again, interest deferred for six months.

And there are the usual non-monthlies, and also when my computer was replaced (it's been repaired at least once since then, but this is definitely the replacement) the warranty didn't give me enough money to buy the replacement (the perils of buying something on sale when the warranty is for purchase price) so I had to pay the difference, and I had to pay to back it up, and I had to pay for an external hard drive on which to put the back up, and I think there was other stuff too.  That also had deferred interest, but for way longer than six months.  It, however, happens to run out exactly when all the other stuff is.


* * *


Right now I'm agonizing over whether or not to buy new glasses because I really want to but if I do I'll fall short on the regular monthly expenses that I'm supposed to be able to cover, God damn it.

I don't even know what fucking happened there.  The SSA cutting me back to a level I can't live on only accounts for the non-monthly expenses being nice little disasters.

Speaking of, $288 is over due for one of those.

Put together that past due thing, the regular expenses I can't afford, and the stuff that I need to pay off by the end of the month to avoid retroactive interest, and it comes out to $663.55 I need this month.

Next month taxes are due and I really fucking need to pay them on time this time.  Taxes in themselves are less than $20 shy of the entire total I just listed for this month.  Put everything together and it's $986.30

The month after things go down to $465.97, and then everything goes to shit, but not quite as badly as I expected because for some reason I got months swapped when making my chart of all this and thought taxes were due then.

Anyway, that's six month stuff, computer stuff, and . . . I thought there was something else.  Probably my putting taxes in the wrong month or something.  Comes out to $1815.54

And then, just when all of the deferred time bomb shit winds down, that's when taxes and insurance are due in the same month: $954.23.

It's all Hell and I don't see any viable way through.


* * *

Just numbers.

Need but do not have:
This month -  $663.55
August         -  $986.30
September  -  $465.97
October       - $1815.54
November   - $954.23

Total: $4,885.59

Conclusion: I'm completely and utterly fucked.

Do recall that you can donate to me via Paypal, upper right hand corner.  Unless you have a Paypal account and are using money from that account (i.e. not a credit card), in that case it's actually a lot better for me if you log into Paypal then use the "Send Money" feature with my email address: cpw [at] maine [dot] rr [dot] com (that way Paypal gives me the full amount.)

Friday, July 14, 2017

I'm alive

Not much to report beyond the fact that I am, indeed, alive.

I kind of wanted some sort of lighter post before the monthly finance post tomorrow, but that was not to be.  That's going to have a fair amount on why I'm too god damned stressed out to function properly.

If it weren't for money, everything would be wonderful, ankle's mostly mended, new shoes are still being broken in but I think I've made the necessary adjustments to get them to fit my non-shoe-shaped feet without giving me blisters or rubbing anything raw.  A lot more support than the old ones, not falling apart, no holes through the soles, some of the support is ankle support, so on, so forth.

I've got the materials to fabricate a fair amount of the stuff I've wanted to make.  I've got the time to write.

I'm just so money-stressed I can barely function enough to do much of anything.

So, like I said, the lighter post didn't happen, but I am alive and most things aren't horrible.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I'm sorry.

I've been distracted and stressed the fuck out and tired and just . . . out of it.  I don't even know when the last time was I actually wrote something.  I mean, easy to check when I moved something over here, but that doesn't tell the real story.  What I posted yesterday was actually written a month ago.

I'm not making content.  Whatever brought you here, I'm not providing it.

Sometimes I just want to give up on everything.

I'm likely going to go a bit dark at least through the coming weekend, and even after the reason for that passes I have no idea when, if ever, I'll be content-making again.

I'm sorry.

I want to share stories that are fun, or funny, or heartwarming, or scathing critiques of the meeting of bad writing and bad theology, or nice, or good, or . . . existing.

I want to write things you'll want to read.  And I'm not.  And I'm sorry.

Part of me wants to turn this post on its ear and beg for money again, and I'm sorry about that too.

Lately I've had more posts about not having money than I have about anything I actually fucking want to have posts about.  And I know that most everyone here is broke too.  And I feel like a sleazy asshole.  Yet I do it anyway.

I'm sorry about that too.

I'm sorry about everything.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A bow that will not easily miss

This will only make sense if you read Ana Mardoll's Rabadash's Ride and realize that I'll be reworking that into one of the varied stories bashed into The Horse and His Boy but rewritten so that it doesn't use the canon characters.  Thus I have a pre-Jadis human queen of Narnia in the role filled by Susan in that version.  Thus I made up the name Ravenwit.

-

The following winter Queen Ravenwit met with Father Christmas, to give up the bow she'd used since her teenage years.

"Are you sure?" he asked her.

"Whenever I try to use it, in spite of all the positive memories it was a part of, I just think about the day when--"

"I understand," he said, and took the offered bow.

"Thank you for not making me explain," Raven said.

"To have been with you so long, in such magical places," Father Christmas said, as he examined the bow, "it has picked up much from your skill. It will not easily miss."

"And so should be given to one who can be trusted to use it responsibly and is in dire need that is too immediate to allow for proper training," she said. "I trust you will make sure it eventually finds its way into hands into such a person."

"I will, my queen," he said, then bowed, boarded his sleigh, and rode off.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

I want to be able to recommend Starlight Vega, but . . .

So a while ago I was really, really in the mood to play a game with a lesbian protagonist and apparently:
Badass [space marine]/[normal marine]/[secret agent]/[person in over their head but rising to the challenge]/[whatever] shoots/slices/whatever's monsters/bad-guys [while still making time to go out with her girlfriend]/[so she can go home to her girlfriend]/[alongside her girlfriend]/[to save her girlfriend]/[while her girlfriend talks her through things from mission control].
is something no one's ever tried because . . . bwha?

I note that by a cunning use of "/" I have suggested, not including the "[whatever]"s, 80 basic formulas which could each be used to make hundreds of distinct mainstream games that go out on precisely zero limbs.

The closest we have is the first game, and first game only, of the Tomb Raider reboot.  It's ambiguous, but it's so very close to being definite.  Too close, apparently, for the publishers, since they made a tie-in comic with the explicit purpose of sinking that ship and then are emphatic in their lack of acknowledging Lara's love interest in the sequel.  As in, the one and only mention is along the lines of
"What about Sam?"
"We're not going there!"
And so, being in this mood to play a game but finding little, I looked at stuff not in my genres.  I looked for anything.  Which pointed me to visual novels, and thus I encountered Starlight Vega.

If you have Steam, it's at 40% off because of the Fourth of July Sale.  And like I said, I want to recommend it.  It has great art, there are parts that are cute, heartwarming, so forth, it's emphatically not just having f/f relations just to show boobs, nor is it something that throws in just a token female romance option, while there are things that are superficially similar the story is different from pretty much anything else I've seen, and . . . I want to be able to recommend it:

BUT

A list won't do, let's take things in order.

The names that matter are all music based, but I don't think there's anything to read into that, I only mention because I'm about to introduce Aria and Melody.

At the start of the game you, Aria, show up at your dead grandfather's house and move in with your mom, while your best friend Melody helps with the moving and spends the night.

Apparently you're a skittish while Melody is into ghosts and the occult and magic and so forth but so far has yet to encounter any such things so she's been limited to mundane books on the matter and fiction.

We first see the lack of editing in how the story starts or doesn't start, depending on your choices.

You hear a feminine laugh three times which wouldn't be a problem with only women in the house except for the fact that it's definitely not coming from either Melody or your mom.

You decide once is imagination, twice is paranoia, three times is enemy action.  And jump into--wait, where the hell did that giant tome Melody is hugging in her sleep come from?

So the two of you investigate and there's a stone on a podium in a room that wasn't there before.  Don't touch the stone and the story ends, the mysterious stuff disappears, Melody is mind whammied into not remembering any of it, done.

Which seems ok if that's all you've done but playing the game more will reveal:
  • The only one with cause to laugh wasn't female and certainly wasn't sultry.
  • The sultry female was emphatically not laughing.
  • The one who has power to do stuff would prefer that you don't touch the stone while Melody does keep the book so this really should have no fucking chance of short circuiting the story
  • No part of this makes sense in context.
Do touch the stone and you get to meet Lyria.  She's been smacked by retrograde amnesia that, honestly, probably does does make sense in context.  In all likelihood the bad guy used some magic or other to suppress her pertinent memories, but it's never really explained.

This will set up the two primary paths.

Melody is your best friend who is secretly in love with you, romance option 1.
Lyria is a --

* * *

Ok, back to the lack of editing.  Lyria says that only ignorant humans refer to her home planet of Vega as "The Demon Realm".  You'll eventually meet the "Queen of the Demon Realm" who is neither human nor ignorant.  And as the story progresses it'll be "demon this" and "demon that" we'll find out that the inhabitants of Vega self identify as demon because by the time the writer got to that point in the story the fact that they're not demons, just demonized, had apparently been tossed out entirely and the writer couldn't be bothered to go back and make the early parts fit.

So when you meet her Lyria is not a demon, just an alien with horns and a tail who's species was mislabeled as demons in order to stir up hate against them and eventually drive them from earth and cut off communications between the two planets.

By the end she's a demon.  Demon, demon, demon.

* * *

Melody is your best friend who is secretly in love with you.  Romance option 1.
Lyria is a demon you freed from a 50 year imprisonment in a stone, but in so doing magically bonded to you.  Romance option 2.

Each of them will instantly be mistrustful and painfully jealous of the other.

The most benign manifestation is that Melody would be interested in studying a magical tome regardless, but she'll push herself to the point that she's not doing the much in the way of sleeping or eating in hopes of finding a way to break the magical bond and thus eliminating any reason for Lyria to be near you.

Melody is too shy to tell you that she's in love with you.  Lyria is making it impossible to miss that she's romantically attracted.  Melody wears modest clothes.  Lyria does not.

You have your options.  How do you decide?

Well, kindness coins.

As in, you can pursue Melody, spending time with her over Lyria when given the chance, and end up irrevocably with Lyria just on the strength of not being an asshole.  (Melody, to her credit, will take it well.)  Insert enough kindness coins, sexual relationship pops out.

This is all manner of fucked up, but still, such is life: fiction falls back on the old established ways no matter how toxic and unrealistic they may be.  Especially in relationship sims.

There's also the idea that poly relationships can't exist, that love means being horrifically jealous of anyone the object of your affection spends time with, the idea that one could possibly like two people simultaneously provokes a response of "Wow! What a sl-" and . . . wait, let's stick with that last one.

You can only even say you like two people if you've unlocked the "Harem route" which is a joke ending that pushes harder on the no-poly front before ending on a triumphant: "If there are ever more than two people in a relationship, it's because there's a competition going on to see who will finally win and advance to the 'two person relationship' stage while leaving the others behind."

* * *

And . . . fucking editing.

So many examples, but here's one:

The story attempts a "not what it looks like" and you hear these lines:
unknown: "...Do what you came here for..."
Lyria: "...What do you expect? We're never..."
unknown: "...Then you'd rather..."
Lyria: "Hmph! I couldn't care less about her... she doesn't..."
unknown: "We have to do it now!"
Lyria: "The humans... I don't care about them anymore. Aria..."
unknown: "Just glamour her into submission."
Later on, if you pick the right path, you'll get to hear the whole conversation, and it very definitely is the exact same conversation, except somehow you've slid into a parallel universe where almost none of what you heard was said at all, nor was anything close to it.

Instead of filling in the blanks to place the nine fragments you heard into their real context, it throws out everything but the last line and so you're left with no fucking clue what to do with the rest of it.

Well, that's not quite right.  The second and third lines are indecipherable.  There's just not enough there.  The rest can be worked with.  And you can figure out enough to learn that not only do the words themselves not appear in what's supposed to be the full conversation, neither do any of the concepts they're referring to.

The first line, for example, "Do what you came here for . . ." is pretty easy to work out.

Mind you it brings us to another moment of "Couldn't you fucking edit this?"

Anyway, at this point in the game Lyria's memory has been returning but she has yet to remember how she got to earth.  Her sister has contacted her via an intermediary and told her a story.  The story is wrong, but Lyria believes it.

Trouble is, even though there was only ever one story from one source with one version, the game never decided what the fuck that story was.  Maybe it would have been better if sixty different people had contacted her and each told her their own personal theory because then it would explain how what Lyria was told ended up being so all over the place and inconsistent.

Anyway, in certain scenes it is indicated or stated outright that Lyria was told she came to earth on a mission to get the magical tome and a human to read/translate/transliterate it.  (Magical beings can't read it, nor can they touch it without harm.)

In other scenes she was told nothing of the sort, and the game seems to prefer those other versions, but that's pretty much the only thing that that the first line could be referring to.

Nothing even remotely related to that comes up in the full conversation.

Ditto for the other stuff you can work out.

Honestly, they'd have been better off if they'd dropped the whole "not what it looks like" "here have context" and had the two things be completely unrelated.  Instead they kept the last overheard line and what happened after so that there could be no doubt that these two bits of text are meant to refer to the same exact conversation.


* * *

Scherza, Lyria's sister, was a stretch goal for the project that funded the whole thing and it . . . well it's probably not a coincidence that it's the thing that finally manages to collapse the flaming wreckage making up what would usually be world-building into complete incomprehensibility.

And yet . . . I want to be able to recommend this game.

I think it gave me an even bigger dose of "What the fuck?" when I looked into the code and saw:
(Paraphrasing) We need an if-statement here, because otherwise --more often than not-- this won't make sense more often

Which was completely true.  The trouble was that that comment had not been acted upon in any way, not only was there no if-statement, what followed was not revised in such a way it would make sense.  The result was that for that part of the script if it made sense it was more a result of you having randomly selected the only path (which was also the most unlikely path) than any kind of craft on the part of the game designers.

Usually, though, things didn't make sense regardless of what led up to them because everything was at odds with everything else.

And yet, I want to be able to recommend this game.

It has so much potential, but it's all fucked over.

But the modders can fix it, right?

Well, no.  There's no mod community or mod support, the engine packages all assets into a single file meaning the simplest way to fix things would involve replacing that file which would have you distributing everything that makes the game the game, which is indistinguishable from piracy.

There are more complex solutions imaginable, and alluring considering that the engine is actually very straightforward and fixing fucking everything would be a breeze.

A breeze that required some artistic licence, though.

It's easy enough to tweak here and there to remove or work around problematic elements when the underlying structure is there, and there there's definitely enough there to see the structure that should exist most of the time, but Scherza's route is truly mangled.

It's broken into 15 sections, two are missing entirely, and in the rest there are several references to content that was either cut out or never written in the first place.

Throughout there's a mechanic that keeps a tally so if, at the end, the tally is under or equal to a certain number you get one ending and if it is over you get another.  Trouble is, the stripped/[never inserted in the first place] content was where the deciding additions to the tally would be.  It's impossible to go over.

There was very clearly a last minute change from making a degree of sense to making no sense at all, but the the indication of the original sense making is the internal code equivalent of a dead link.

So on, so forth.

So choices would have to be made beyond just easy ones like, "Do I want to be virulently anti-poly or not?" but it's totally salvageable if you just rewrite a bunch of it, notably the shit parts.

And yet . . .