mneme: (Default)
I'm willing to sing about punching Nazis, but I'm not willing to seriously advocate that doing so (or censoring them) is ethically and morally right.

Ken White (Popehat) has an excellent post as to why not. (oddly enough, -do- read the comments here).
mneme: (Default)
So, last night, we came home at, I dunno, 9:30 or so, turned on the hall light as we came in--and it flickered and then went out. Light was dead.

So naturally, I decided to try to change the light.

For a bit of background, we moved into our current place 14 months ago (or so), and it has 9-10.5 foot ceilings.

So...the first question was whether we had a ladder tall enough to hit the lights. It turns out that our normal 6-foot ladder, standing on the highest safe step (ie, the one made of hard plastic), I can -just- reach the ceiling, and thus have enough height to -just- change the bulb. So with bravery-aplenty, and not much forethought, I started doing just that.

The first problem I ran into was that I couldn't figure out how to remove the cover. I didn't take pictures, but our hall light consists of a metal plate, with a big glass bulb on the bottom--with no knobs, dials, or screws in evidence. Of course, I tried turning the bulb in different directions, but when I did, the whole thing twisted (against the wall). So...after much struggling (but not even -close- to the amount that happened later), I eventually had the whole lamp hanging from three wires, each spliced using plastic wire nuts. With this as my starting state, I decided (this was one of the correct decisions involved in this whole process) to just remove the lamp entirely and figure out how to remove the glass cover once it was safely on the ground, and did so -- carefully removing the huge disc of fiberglass foam that had been lodged behind/above the lamp.

Of course, [personal profile] drcpunk attempted to make sure the light switch was off (and to be sure, also that the dimmer switch was on the lowest setting, since with the bulbs out there was no way to be sure the swich was Actually Off unless we'd marked the on and off sides, which we hadn't.


As it turned out, the glass cover -was- easily removable, by twisting it counter-clockwise and lifting it (or letting it fall, when it was on the ceiling). However, since the lamp was attached to the ceiling by two screws, which were locked in place by...twisting the lamp counter-clockwise...this was no easy feat to do without dislodging it from the ceiling.

Now it was time to wire the lamp up and put it back onto the ceiling.

As it turned out, this was a bit more difficult than I might have anticipated.

First, of course, there was the matter of wiring up the three wires -- positive, negative (whichever was which; they were, strangely for the slipshot manner the entire thing was constructed, pretty well color coded), and a very clear ground wire connected to the body of the lamp and unlike the others, uninsulated. The first charged wire went fine; the second had the complication that on first touch, I could tell it was live (with one wire connected, this was noticable; presumably the circuit needed to be nearly complete for it to matter, since I wasn't about to short out the circuit by touching the charged wires as a test; I guesss I could have used a light bulb), without getting more than a tickle of electricity (thank you, self-installed dimmer switch), and got Lisa to turn off the light. After that, the second wire nut went on just fine.

But the third wire? The one that had a ceiling wire connected to the uninsulated wire from the lamp? Well, that one was a bit more complicated. It seems that that combination of wires was quite a bit shorter than the other wires, so I needed to hold the lamp up higher to screw it on, which complicated a one-handed attachment between two very unlike wires that would -not- line up, and there were several false starts and offers from [personal profile] drcpunk to "help" by providing more light (useful, mostly) and provide a book to stand on on the ladder (very much -not- useful; I did not need some way to make it more likely that I'd fall of the ladder and get seriously hurt). But eventually I was able to attach the third connection. It was now time to re-attach the lamp to the ceiling. Also, my arms were very tired.

This was where the trouble really started.

The problem was that it was impossible. The two screws the lamp twisted on to were just long enough to enter the holes, but they were in a cradle that wasn't firmly anchored on its own (although it was firmly-enough attached to the ceiling), so they'd sway and rock and slide as you tried to tactically push the lamp into them. Plus, it was super clear from how the lamp left the ceiling in the first place that those screws needed to be tighter than they started or it wouldn't stay up. I did try borrowing a mirror to see what I was doing, but this was useless; the lamp body blocked out any sight of what was going on, and the result was my arms getting even more tired but nothing getting done.

Eventually -- and I do mean eventually, it occurred to me the screw holes were plainly visible and accessible when the cover of the lamp was off and the bulbs removed. So (with a rest for a minute or so since the lamp could hang from the three wires--well, one wire, really, since the ground was so much shorter than the others, and without the glass cover on, without a -real- risk of something tearing and there being broken glass all over the floor), I got to work. This wasn't as simple as I'd hoped; there was a -lot- of screw, so it took a while to extend the screws, although I could do it by hand, and once I'd done so, one of them went through (and was able to twist in place, making it -much- easier to take periodic rests without fear of something going wrong), but I think the screws were a touch too narrow for their holes; not enough not to lock, but enough that they were at slightly different angles. So I tried to find the other one to no avail for a while, with much gnashing of teeth; involving another rest, and eventually returned, extended the loose screw enough to put the lamp on that one -first-, and was then able to lock it to both.

Of course, with this much standing on a ladder with my arms over my head, I -really- needed a rest, but there was much more to do--still, I thought if we could, we should really find the electric screwdriver rather than spending many minutes turning the fully extended drivers back to the point where things were nicely locked down. Which involved looking through the tool shelf (I should really get rid of useless stuff and compact that down to a tool case plus maybe an appliance or two) fruitlessly, then a few other places we sometimes put tools, then [personal profile] drcpunk suggested it might be in one of the chair-stools we put things in when we had a housefilk, so she resolved to look in the easier one and I looked through the harder one in the corner (where it wasn't), but there were keyboard ephemera on top of the "easier" one, so [personal profile] drcpunk declined to try to figure out how to move it; eventually I finished up with the far box, opened the nearer one, and...there it was. And my arms weren't quite as tired either.

So I used the electric (it's kinda amazing how much better simple battery powered motors are at turning screws than muscle power, really; we're super good at big motions, but simple tiny motions tire us out nearly as much and we're much less efficient and fast with them) and was able to lock down the lamp nicely, put the bulbs back in (tested them, because you always test them), swapped the dead bulb that had somehow got among the live bulbs and replaced it, and put the glass cover back on, twisting it in place. All good.

At which point, the entire lamp twisted, and came loose from the ceiling again. And I saw a golden wire peeking out, indicating that the ground wire (which, you'll recall, was shorter than the others) had finally snapped under the strain.

So, -much- faster than anything else went, I removed the cover and the bulbs, tried to loosen the screw that had attached the ground wire to the lamp (and failed) and decided to just tie it to one of the loops hanging up from the base of the lamp instead (metal be metal, for ground), took cardboard lying around and made -shims-, loosened the screws on the ceiling and put the lamp on them and then tightened them again (this time all with the electric so it went fast), shimed the screw holes so the lamp wouldn't twist off them without the shims being removed,, put the bulbs back into the lamp, tested the lamp (and determined that one of the bulbs was a cfc didn't work great with the dimmer switch, flickering like mad when it was dim, so swapped it out for a cfc that was fine with our dimmer), put the glass bulb back on, and -now- were done. Only, oh, an hour and a half after I started trying to change a light bulb.
mneme: (Default)
Ok, so here's an idea for a somewhat uncomfortably realistic Mafia-style game:

You, the players, are the President of the USA, his VP, and his cabinet.
You are also all completely and utterly corrupt, and can be forced to resign by someone revealing all your dirty laundry.
Unfortunately for you (but fortunately for the American people), there are a number of traitors in your cabinet (or even the President or VP) who are very willing to reveal people's dirty secrets.
Naturally, nobody except each other know who the traitors are.

The game is divided into week and weekend turns.

On each weekend, while everyone's off on vacation(eyes closed), the traitors collectively decide which non-traitor's secrets to reveal and that person resigns (over the course of this game, there is not time to replace empty positions). They cannot do this to the President unless they have no other choice.

During the week, the President decides who to fire, though that can be blocked by a majority of the rest of the cabinet (including the VP). Or, with a majority of the remaining players, the cabinet can unseat the sitting President.

If at any time, there are no traitors remaining, the Administration is saved (the American public...not so much).

If, however, the cabinet is ever composed of a majority of traitors, then they can discredit the rest of the administration and save the country. Yay!

To set up the game, deal out playing cards face up to determine positions; the highest Spade (ace is high) is the President, the others should decide on their own positions in descending order, suit first (SHDC, of course), then number within suit.

Then gather up the cards and use one card for each player, starting with one black suited card for every 7 players (round up), and filling in with red cards. These cards should be mixed and dealt out face down; if you get a black face-down card, you're a traitor, otherwise you're a loyal member of the administration.

Someone should not play and moderate -- or you can start with a week and just have the President fire someone to be moderator to start (realism is, of course, paramount). See the comments for a sample moderator script.
mneme: (harp2)
Kathy Mar's wonderful Drink Up the River has long been a mainstay of my filking -- and I've had occasion to bring it back to the forefront given our current troubles. But as much as I love the song, it was pretty clearly written in '88, and while the nativism of this decades echoes that of three decades ago, it's hardly identical; more, while there's plenty of anti-science talk, the universal adoption of the web has clearly changed its focus and tenor.

So I've written an updated version entirely keeping Kathy's first and last verses identical, while switching out the middle verses for ones a bit more suited to our times (which, not that surprisingly, are -still- based around immigration and science/technology). (although it's trivial to add her Technology verse back in if one wants an extra verse, as the two are basically non-overlapping). Feel free to share and use with love.

Drink Up the River (2017 JK remix)
Copyright 2017 Joshua Kronengold (with a lot of incorporated and/or adapted suggestions from Lee Gold), to the tune of and heavily reusing the 1988
Drink up the River by Kathy Mar


I was sitting by a river, when a thought occurred to me:
There are a hundred thousand rivers that we never even see,
They are the boundaries of all we know--of truth and right and wrong,
And I have written some examples for you here within my song.

Some are bridged and some are forded--some are swollen from the rain,
Some are the ultimate result of all our joys and all our pain,
But when the rivers in your life are full, and starting to wash down,
You've gotta drink up the river,
Before you drown.

[Chorus]
You gotta drink up the river x 3
Before you drown
You gotta drink up the river x 3
Before you drown

Throughout our nation's history, in times of peace and war,
An overwhelming wave of refugees have washed up on our shore,
They fled from death and persecution, and from poverty and pain,
And they made our country greater, as they strove to rise again.

But immigrants are turned away, "they're terrorists" we cry,
Or we say they'll take our jobs away, so passage we deny,
Our nation's based on courage, should we let the helpless down?
No--We must drink up that river, before we drown,

[chorus]

Since we learned to kindle fire, we have sought to understand,
How life began, how lightning works, the sea, the sky, the land,
And our science brings us wonders, as we wage a war with death,
And spin a World Wide Web of friendship nearly limitless in breadth.

Yet some folks are scared of Science, 'cause it means that nothing's sure.
They don't want its doubts and warnings, and they've learned to fear its cures.
We must not close our eyes, but keep on looking all around,
That's how we'll drink up that river, before we drown.

[Chorus]

There's a river of humanity that's passing through your life,
There is a sea of heavy sorrows and a stream of pain and strife,
There is a river of tomorrow that will carry you away,
And there's an ocean full of endless love to fill each passing day,
There are rivers all around you, in the life you have to live--
All the rivers you've been given and the ones you have to give,
So sing out this final message to the people all around,
You've got to drink up the river before you drown

[Chorus] x 2
mneme: (Default)
Conflikt happened. It was fun! Lots of hugs, lots of music in the hall and in the filkroom, and as seems to often happen, I collaborated on two songs.

The first was the song sung by my instaband, C3J -- consisting of Char, Jim Partridge, John Gray, and Yours Truly. The song was, naturally enough given the time, a protest song, written by Jim with a fair amount of editing and lyric changes by me. And of course, feel free to sing and share, at least as far as I'm concerned; this isn't a song meant to sit on a shelf.

If you didn't know which side -I- was on, you're not paying attention )

The other song might make it into here or on a later post after I clear permissions; it was written by the entire table at brunch, was entitled "The (thing) in the Room", and based on the words "Irredeemable" and "Eloquence", and to the tune and mostly structure of "Unforgettable" by Irving Gordon.
mneme: (Default)
Hear ye, hear ye!

On Sunday, January 22nd, 2017, from 1pm to 5pm, in The (new) Bookery (the one year new home of Josh & Lisa) there will be a housefilk, that being an open song and music circle. All are invited to attend, and, should they wish, join the NYMF meeting held immediately following (there are two accessable rooms, so there will also be somewhere for people to hang out, and if they wish filk some more or get dinner who -don't- wish to attend the NYMF meeting). People are also welcome to show up as early as noon, but if so, may be asked to help make the place presentable. This is an NYMF (New York Metropolitan Filk) Event.

The Bookery: 3920 52nd Street APT GD, Woodside (Queens), NY 11377-3230
Phone: 646-361-3257

Accessibility: We are on the ground floor, but the entrance is up 4 steps. If they are an issue, call ahead and we can meet you near 3940 and let you into the side entrance with no steps.

House Rules:

1. Please do not record; we will be setting up central recording, and once one is available, may provide a cleaned up and edited version on request. You may take photographs, but please get permission of their subjects first.

2. The house has no pets of any kind. Try not to bring feline allergens in if you can. (if you are allergic to anything that we need to know, tell us).

3. The house is not kosher, but we'll try to provide disposable tableware and some amount of beverages. If there's something you must eat/drink, you might want to bring it (there is plenty of takeout in the area if you are hungry and need to order something). Do try to label anything you bring if there's anything non-obvious in it (err on the side of disclosure).

Directions:

By subway: Fastest: Take the 7 to 52nd street, turn North (towards Cafe 52, away from the Filipino place) and walk to, cross, Skillman; turn left and walk back to 52nd street, the entrance is on your left.
Less Fast: Take the R to Woodside, walk south, then make a right at 39th avenue and a left onto 52nd street. Destination is on your right.
Also less fast, but sometimes necessary: Take the 7 to Woodside. Get out and go to ground level. Walk west (numbers go down), turning on to Skillman. When you get to 52nd street, turn right and walk along 52nd street until you get to our place (on your left).

By LIRR: Take the LIRR to Woodside. Follow directions as "7 to Woodside" above.

By car: Go to our neighborhood. (Northern Blvd is probably the ticket, but you likely have a GPS that will give you something better). Find somewhere to park (not entirely trivial, but possible, usually by driving around the nearby park until something turns up). Then go to our apartment.

Do feel free to share this invite to those you think might be interested!

Space is not -entirely- unlimited, and we do want to be able to plan ahead, so please rsvp (if yes) on Dreamwidth(https://mneme.dreamwidth.org/89829.html), on FB(https://www.facebook.com/events/249907088755237/), or by email to mneme AT labcats.org.
mneme: (Default)
I don't make a lot of Dreamwidth posts. I should probably make more, but I do try to keep DW a little more bloggy and a little less random/social than facebook, if for no other reason than that its primary advantage is archival and searching.

This means that I'll often go months or even a year or two without updating DW (at least, beyond the periodic "I wrote a thing!" post).

So:

I've gone way up in how much mobile gaming I was doing (to the point that it, combined with trying catch up a bit up to date on Alarums and Excursions apa-hacking, ie old-timey journaling, sort of, massively impacted how much for-fun reading I was doing).

I've also gone way down on the mobile gaming; finishing up Ingress at L16 and going to a "when I feel like it " player, dropping daily play of pretty much every game I was playing daily, and even dropping my commitment to Hearthstone and Words with Friends. This means I've also gotten back into the novel run, and read something like 10 novels in the last 3 weeks or so.

Chessiecon happened and the music didn't suck, so I must have done a decent job. Still stuff to change for next year, but that's always true. Oh, I'll be running music again for Chessiecon (with TJ as music GOH and Ada Palmer as author GOH) next year too, so if you're interested in performing, talk to me.

The other thing I'm currently promoting is Contata, the NJ-area NYC-run filk music convention. And apropos exactly of that, we'll be hosting a housefilk at my house Sunday, Jan 22 (in Woodside, Queens); more details to follow.

We were at GaFilk and it was fun, although there was snow and sick; I'd think I didn't come down with anything except I slept a -lot- and wanted to sleep more, so I'm thinking my body was in overtime defense mode. We'll be at Arisia, Conflikt, Balticon, probably Heliosphere, Intercon, Dreamation, and probably other things. Oh, and we're still planning on making Worldcon and probably NasFIC.
mneme: (Default)
I wrote a thing in a FB comment. Since FB comments are fragile and temporary, it's pretty much necessary that I repost it if I want to keep it.

I was asked (when I said that I think federal voting reform would be entirely appropriate, and we could even throw Republicans a bone with national -funded- Voter ID; ideally, guarantee that all adult citizens are automatically registered to vote and have or can -trivially- get identification proving it; along with establishing standards for polling places and voting machines throughout the nation such that a national popular vote for President is a real possibility; oh, and abolish the Electoral College), whether I thought there shouldn't be artificial barriers to all our rights.

Well, I do think that in general there shouldn't be artificial barriers to our rights; the government should put up artificial barriers to things only when it has a compelling interest in doing so. However, I don't think all rights are of equal value--and our rights need to be balanced against the rights of others.

Of the highest level are the rights that allow a democratic society to function at all: Free political speech (and press, and association), voting, equal protection from the law as it affects self-government. Also sitting here is the right to, as long as our government is republican, not simply pure democratic, ensure the government answers to the people and we are protected from corruption.

One level down from this is the right to life and freedom from undue imprisonment; the right of fairness under the law. Here lies general equal protection under the law, protection against torture and other methods of imprisonment and intrusive search without a plausible indicator of guilt, etc. Here also lies an obligation that the state protect our personal freedom from threats both external and internal, just as the first set of rights obligate the state to protect our rights to think and vote and debate free of external constraint.

On a third tier are rights of personal autonomy--the right to be left alone. Here lies the right to have consensual sex with anyone you want, to undergo any medical procedure you wish that doesn't harm other people, own whatever property you are given by others, hold and practice any religious views you profess, and, yes, practice whatever martial arts and use and own whatever objects you can and do accquire and make (including weapons).

These rights are tiered--they are not of equal importance; nor can they be. So while I honor weapon use as a matter of personal autonomy--the right to be left alone--just as I do the right to abort an unthinking fetus, it must yield (to an extent) to the right of others to live; reasonable background checks are entirely appropriate, as are restricting weapons of mass murder. On the other hand, voting and speech rights are utterly central; one simply cannot make decisions as a free society without them, and it is hard to justify any restrictions on them that are not similarly ensuring the fairness and incorruptibility of elections.

FWIW, I don't think this style of tiering is particularly in-obvious or controversial. Of course, people disagree vociferously on which categories appear in -- some people think that a 5 day old foetus is covered in tier #2 (which would cause its rights to trump it's mother's tier #3 rights), which I can't agree with, and there are some people who think personal weapons ownership is still part of tier #1 (which, um, sorry, but I can't agree with that). But as long as we agree that not all rights are equal, there is still some room for discussion.
mneme: (Default)
My Facebook is blowing up with sorrow, despondency, and fear -- my twitter, too (pretty much everyone's twitter).

So I'm not going to do that. This is a terrible loss; I won't downplay it, but...it's not the end of the world. For most of us, anyway.

And anyway, I've lost an Presidential election before.

My first Presidential election (that I could vote in) was 1992, when we voted in Bill Clinton. I didn't really know much about him, but he was the Democratic candidate, so I was going to support him. In the end...it was mediocre, with a military ban on homosexual service replaced by "don't ask, don't tell", dismantling of the welfare system, economic prosperity which only aided the dismantling of protections against catastrophic massively leveraged bank implosions, the Sony Bono copyright extension act, and the Defense of Marriage Act. But at least we had a competent Democratic President pushing down the deficit, presiding over nuclear disarmament, and signing the Family and Medical Leave act. But really read this: https://clinton1.nara.gov/White_House/Accomplishments/html/accomp-plain.html; there just isn't that much there to like; minor stuff like gun control and environmental preservation, while incarcerating thousands and establishing the trade agreement doctrine that helped Trump win the most recent election.

My third Presidential election, though, was 2000, when with machinations aplenty, GW Bush --- the ex-drug addicted playboy who was the laughingstock of Texas liberals--became President. And...it was awful. He presided over the worst economic crash in my lifetime, doubling down on it by massive tax cuts to the rich, starting an expensive and unnecessary (as well as costly in lives and war in the Middle East). He tortured people, may very well have redirected intelligence resources such that they missed the terrorist attacks in 2001, and his wars let him get two terms. Oh, and he borrowed trillions to do all of this. And was planning his wars before he even got into office.

In all this, Obama was a shining light. We were all there, we know what he accomplished, and that (except for Obamacare) was against a hostile congress.

Now? Well, there are awful indicators; Trump is an egotist, an abuser, throws dog whistles to the racist and bigoted crowd all the time, and appears to have superbly bad impulse control. And he'll have a nominally friendly congress for at least two years.

But that said, it's not "Trump the character" who is going to be President--however similar or different they are, it's "Trump the person." Who is hardly a saint (see above), but frankly, if his waffling has shown us anything, it's that we have no idea what he truly believes; just that it changes with what he thinks is going to appeal to his base.

So (almost) anything could happen. He's emboldened the "America First" crowd, and talked about building walls and religious discrimination. Packing the Supreme Court with conservative judges, repealing Obamacare, making it easier for him to sue reporters who say stuff he doesn't like. Ending net neutrality. This is what he got elected on.

He's also talked about public works projects and fixing our infrastructure (which badly needs it), raising the minimum wage, preventing obvious terror threats from buying firearms, and putting measures in place to protect American workers from needless outsourcing. And has talked about replacing Obamacare with something better for the individual, focusing on its flaws--the individual mandate and the way that gives license to insurance to raise rates as long as they can get away with it, the way it doesn't solve the state-based cartel issue, etc. This is -also- what he got elected on.

So I don't know, and frankly neither do you. Which Trump are we going to get? The populist? The demagogue? The fake or real conservative? Secret force for white supremacy? All or some of the above?

What I do know is that we haven't actually moved backwards long term. We've taken a step back, sure, even a significant one -- but I supremely doubt that Trump is going to reverse (or even try to reverse) all the strides we've taken in the last 13 years. 13 years ago, remember, people couldn't get married to people of the same sex in -any- state, QUILTBG people couldn't serve in the military unless they hid their status (I'm leaving out A because I don't think Asexual people were a problem on -that- score unless they were otherwise queer as well), no state had legalized marijuana and the federal government was threatening to crack down on them if they tried, and plenty of other rights and privileges of my friends were far, far from where they are right now.

Is it likely a bunch of stuff I love will get rolled back? Absolutely -- Obergefell is super-likely to get killed by any Justice Trump puts into the Court; Obamacare is going to get modified and who knows if the result is going to have any of the important parts--public markets, a ban on pre-existing conditions, public financing for those who need it [in states that accept it, anyway] that allow people who need to be able to affordably buy private health care regardless of their personal health to do so. But it's super-unlikely that a Trump Congress will pass all of a trans bathroom ban, another national ban on same sex marriage, another massively over-broad Patriot act, or nationally illegalize marijuana again and re-ignite the drug war. Or even push all our proud trans and non-binary friends back into the closet. We'll lose some stuff, but I have reason to hope we won't lose -everything-.

We've moved massive steps forward in the last 12 years, and every time you move forward, there's a chance of hitting a wall and moving backwards--but our momentum hasn't changed. Not yet, at least. And -if- Trump is more invested in the stuff I liked (or at least didn't dislike) than the stuff I hate, as a Republican President, he's much more likely to be able to accomplish it. Only Nixon could go to China. Only Clinton could end welfare as we knew it (and curse him for it). -If- Trump choses to use some of his power for good, who knows what he can accomplish.

And there's the ironic silver lining -- one of the biggest reasons that the Republicans have been able to take over a massive number of state legislatures, both houses of congress, and now also the Presidency is that over the past 24 years, there's been a Democratic president for 16 of them -- and the party out of power tends to gain downballot. As the party indisputably in control of government starting mid-January, the Republicans are going to be held responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world, and it's up to all of us to hold them to that.

So for good or ill, Trump is going to be my President. Democracy has spoken, and democracy being the way we make decisions about our collective power that, now matter how we choose, many of us won't like, I am honor bound to live with it without even the lingering questions that dodged 2000--up to the point where Trump proves that he's going to abuse the powers of his office or ruin the world. This might come immediately as soon as he does anything--or I might be surprised. I'm not interested in pushing for impeachment from the start of his term; frankly, that would put Pence in power who would be more predictable and possibly worse, but also I don't believe in impeachment as a political tool rather than a last resort when an official actually commits a crime.

In the meanwhile, it's on all of us to keep as much of what we gained as we can, to keep pushing back whenever the government does something unpalatable, to help one another, and to take back the governments of the US in 2018 and 2020. This is the bed we've made, that has been made for us, and most of us are going to have to stay in it for a while--but that doesn't mean we need to lie in it.
mneme: (Default)
"I used incense and now there's a cloud of dust around me. Is this normal?"

"If I throw a ball, can I get it back?"

"Where do balls go when I throw them?"

"How do berries work?"

"Why are there clouds of flowers everywhere? Is everyone else just made of money? Or is there some source for flowers I don't know about?"

"Is it true that you can find more water creatures near water? I found some carp and crabs on the dock. But I can't find any creatures in the water; is that right?"

"Why are there always so many rats and bats around?"

"Can I change my clothes? I've been walking around in the same clothes for days, and I'm getting bored with them, but if there's a way, I don't know how to do it."

"I've got great balls. Should I save them until things get hard? Or should I try to use them on everything to save time?"

"Can I use gyms to get stronger? Or do I need to get stronger somewhere else and only go back to a gym when I'll be the strongest one there?"

"What happens if your're actively doing something in a gym when another team takes it over? Is it easier to take over a gym or to go there to train?"

"I know how to take pictures, but how do I find them and look at them afterwards?"

"Are there ways to get money without spending money on it?"

(Mostly a collaboration between YT and [livejournal.com profile] drwrong)
mneme: (Default)
I kinda dashed it off, but so it goes.

Trying to Forget

I gorge on poppies, stamens down to roots.
They fill me up, and yet I do not sleep.
My magic spent on hats and jumping boots,
But in my mind, the fears and doubts still creep.
I know my past: my sisters, ere the fall
(Despite my pain, my eyes no longer weep)
Before their deaths, that we created all.
I wish for death, and so this tea I steep.
Forgetfulness can't last, but it might ease
The weight of all this past, but it's not cheap:
My eyes, my magic, bounties that might please,
The folk of Oz, but truly it's no leap
To see that it's my sorrow that's the cause
Of everything that's wonderful (and terrible) in Oz.

Prompts: What's most recently been happening in the Namesakes webcomic (http://namesakecomic.com/comic/trying-to-forget), and the first post, "Forgetfulness, sleep, poppies...", which I decided to take as a poetry prompt.

(Edit to fix the punctuation and clean it up a bit; the original poem was very much a single stream of consciousness in less then 10 minutes, with occasional pauses to find a rhyme word).
mneme: (Default)
So, I was asked by an acqaintance if I had any reccomendations for magical girl anime/manga. Since I've been (in between everything -else- I've been doing), working on a magical girl Apocalypse World game (with some collaborators, who have been doing great work while I'm in a fallow "working on everything but" period), I wrote back...maybe a bit too much. Fortnately I'm tired, or I might not have stopped at 5 recomendations.

Cardcaptor Sakura and Sailor Moon are in some ways the best and most central of those I've seen. Sailor Moon of course established the "Magical Girl fighting" manga/anime genre; Cardcaptor is very different in many ways (it's Clamp, for one thing; one of their few non-tragic series), but in both cases, the series brilliantly mix home life, school life, and the magical world, making all of them important, and in both series, love is central. Cardcaptor is pretty long; around 72 episodes for the first two seasons [which are really one story]; Sailor Moon is super-long, with something like 300 episodes over 5 seasons, but they use the length not just for variable length stock footage transformation/attack sequences (actually, Sailor Moon does this a lot; Cardcaptor goes against type and comes up with an excuse for the heroine's costume to change every episode, so while the poses are stock, the outfit is different every time), but for building up character development and relationship notes that can be gloriously cashed in later. Of course, every series has its own arc and mini-arcs within those, but there are definately notes that are saved up until the end before being cashed in.

Nanoha is a very odd but good mix; a series that's designed for an adult audience despite fairly young protagonist. It's still basically about love, but they spend a lot more attention than the average making the fight scenes and magic make in-world sense rather than just moral/emotional sense. It has 3 series; each one has its own unities, but each is very different from the next; in the first, you've got a semi-typical "young girl gets powers, alies" opening; but in the second the relationships are all mixed up and it's more of a mystery plot. In the third series, the main characters are grown up and training their own proteges, so the action is bigger and the training and secondary characters get to take more central stage, while the established characters show off their more mature strengths and get to act against powerful foes while they are at their peak, rather than the more typical "growth character faces off against dark lord; wins via luck, aid, and moral certitude".

Madoka and Revolutionary Girl Utena are great examples of the postmodern side of the genre. Madoka is very short, very dark, and brilliant; there's not that much more I can say about it without spoilers, but it's great on many levels. Revolutionary Girl Utena is...the emotional side of the genre broken down to its base level; from its central genderfuck (key premise: A young girl is saved by a prince; she grows up to teenager-hood and decides she will accomplish her goal in emulation: She will become a prince too!), to the core formula of someone's central emotional crisis resulting in them challenging Utena to a duel, which, naturally, is far more about arguments and metaphor than actual swordplay.
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So as long as I'm doing a touch of backed up blogging before doing the necessary things (which is to say, upgrading our cleaning supplies and other things hilight by the recent plumbing disaster; see the last post), I might as well do a short con report -- because Rainbowcon, last weekend, was -amazing-.

Steve Savitsky and company held a tiny house filk convention (a tiny convention; not a tiny house; just to be clear; the convention was in the house) last weekend. I'd known about it for a year, after it was announced in the wake of the wedding in the same site last year, but we'd dragged our heels on committing, given that it was across the country and also likely to be tiny. And it was going to be expensive, given that it was fairly last-min, and we were low on cope after our move. On the other hand, I'd been an unofficial advisor, encouraging the organizers to go super-low on programming to accomidate the gap in "filk relaxacons" that can let filkers hang out together without a lot of must-make programming.

And you know? It was -amazing-, and I'm glad we went. The con guests were Decadent Dave Clement (who I admit I've always been somewhat intimidated by, but who is -amazing-, both personally and as a performer) and Tim and Annie Walker (who we've seen back and forth at different filk cons over the years when our across-the-pond paths crossed, and got to connect with, finally, at Loncon in 2014.

We decided to go out on stupid-early Friday morning (ie, a 4AM flight, without more than an hour of sleep between us before the flight), so we spent a bunch of time recovering before making it over to the con itself; at the con, I voted in (and was mostly outvoted, which was fair, since I didn't attend much programming) the programmed workshops, had something dinner-ish (con-provided in the excellent kitchen con suite by Colleen; extremely impressive given that it was, for most, a free con), listened to, danced to, and sang from the audience at Dave's concert, then chatted and socialized until the evening filk -- a modified poker chip bardic where you got three chips (blue > red > white x 2), and weren't limited to not using your later colors until after the early colors were used up; instead, earlier colors were higher priority and would "trump" later colors, but you had to use your colors in order rather than saving your blue chip until you -really- wanted to go. I loved this format, and loved this circle, however short; we'd intended to tuck in early, but as it happened we ended up sticking around until we'd each used up, IIRC, 3 chips (ie, gone 3 times) and it was after 1AM.

On Saturday, we slept in (this might be a pattern), missing the early workshop session; I don't remember much of this session, but I know it involved a Stan Rogers singalong by Dave, Annie leading a vocal/harmony workshop (where I decided to sing soprano--because I could (the soprano part was pretty low and my head voice is reasonably strong) and because we were heavy on basses and tenors and light on sopranos, Tim and Annie's excellent concert (we didn't dance as much as we had at Dave's concert, but this was mostly due to being too relaxed), much socializing and food, and the evening concert (which was a bit of a low-ebb, although still pleasant; it started late enough that the announced format; cats cradle, was way overkill; we barely had enough performers to maintain a chaos filk, so we mostly never got a queue of more than 2 people (and that only by effort), and eventually stopped passing around the yarn ball entirely before the filk ended.

Sunday? Sunday, well, we also slept in (who didn't see this one coming?), and hung around, mostly chatting with a bit of filking, until the jam/closing ceremonies started. The Jam was a lot of fun; we had just enough instrumentalists that it was solid, but not so many that it felt like (as you do at OVFF) that you're lost in the crowd and your individual contribution cannot be heard, much less be a full part of the ouvre. We'd planned at this point to slink into the night, since we had a red-eye going back to NYC (after all, this is how I manage other-coast conventions without losing more days of work than I want to), but it turned out that the dead dog dinner was near the airport, so we were able to spend a precious few more hours with people before we had to drop off our bags and wait for our plane (particularly Stephen Schwartz, who I've been second order connected to for -years-, but only briefly bumped into at a few events for the last 18 years or so we've known the other exist; also planning to do a 4 player online Fiasco game that we really should set up and plane).

Will we be back next year? Well, it's still an open question; a lot depends on how Contata planning is going; we'll either be at the end of our rope or really, really need the break, I'm guessing. But assuming we have the budget? Absolutely. When you get down to it, this tiny con gives you -more- than you get from a larger con. Of course, if enough people decide that this is a good idea, maybe some day it won't be as small a con, but as long as the concept stays largely the same it will likely have a lot more of a "small con" vibe than a con that's designed to be a larger filk convention cut down a few sizes (like the NEfilks, which as much as I love them, tend to go with "yes please" on programming).

Pros: Yes, there are some. With an intimate setting like this, you get to spend more time with more of them individually, so there's less of "traveling to hang out with people you hang out with all the time"). The hosts were amazing and gracious. The con was in many ways far more relaxed than a larger con (even GaFilk, which tries to be as "filk reclaxicon as it can given its size) can ever be. I had lots of chances to also rock a shaker egg and my bass voice (I even ended up walking over near Dave, who was singing a bass line on a song, at one point, so we could hear each other better and choose different lines) rather than accidentally colliding all the time)

Cons: Yes, it was one. Next year there will probably be a slightly smoother way of disseminating the program, since there was one even if it was relatively minimal. I brought my little harpsicle SE, rather than a fiddle--which would normally be the right decision except that as I'd forgotten, they'd rented a lovely 36 string Dusty Strings for Annie which she was totally willing to let me use whenever she wasn't using it, so if I'd brought a fiddle I'd have been able to play fiddle -and- harp as appropriate. It was too short, and we weren't able to attend the dead dog filk. On my way out of the dead dog, I had a brain fart and forgot Dave's name (because my brain does stuff like this), so ended up skipping over saying goodbye (and circled back and did so a minute or so later after my secondary search engine had gone online and searched, appropriately, against "Decadent.")); whooops/ack.

My morning

May. 7th, 2016 02:51 pm
mneme: (Default)
Woke up at 10AM--had a rest of three or four hours.
Woke up at 10AM--was just pulled out of my bower,
I wished I was sleepin'--or at least wearing shoes,
I've got the backed up plumbing, first floor apartment blues.

I started bailing; filling up buckets and plastic cans,
Yeah, I started bailing, gross as it was, it all-hands,
It was unavailing--I was Sisyphus--doomed to lose,
It was the backed-up plumbing, first floor apartment blues.

I thought it was our fault--that we'd left the water on,
Yeah, I thought it was our fault; our home insurance would be gone,
Then I saw the bathtub, it looked just like a big loo,
We had the backed-up plumbing, first floor apartment blues.

We called the super, he took one look and went away.
Yeah, called the super, but with our problem he wouldn't stay,
I cursed that pooper, then it flowed like a transfus-ion
He'd cleared the blockage--that caused our first-floor blues.

It wasn't over--the floor was covered in dirt,
No, it wasn't over; my back was starting to hurt,
He brought back a hoover, and sucked up most of that dread stew,
It was finally ending, our backed-up plumbing blues,
All done, but the cleaning--our backed-up pluming, first floor apartment blues.

....


Yeah, this morning was a bit interesting. I knew people said that first floor apartments were prone to flooding, but nobody mentioned the idea that it wasn't -outside- flooding you had to worry about (we're actually above the garage, so that's not such a big deal for us) as that you're the early warning signal when the plumbing goes haywire. Also, gross.
mneme: (Default)
Since nobody else seems to have beaten me to the punch (and why not? Even if his sex life is none of our business, his platform -makes- it our business, as do his Princess Bride impressions):


People keep wondering how Cruz got 5 women to sleep with him that weren't his wife. I'm guessing he took Miracle Pills. Or maybe they had the wine in front of him (Sorry, tried really hard to not make this a rape joke, but it writes itself :( )

Cruz keeps talking about "family values." I do not think those words mean what he thinks they mean.

Before this scandal broke, Cruz's campaign was only mostly dead. Now the only thing we can really do is go through it's pockets for loose change. Like these jokes.
mneme: (Default)
Inspired by a line from [personal profile] satyrblade

This song is -shamelessly- political. And decidedly time-bound, but hey, now's the time.

March, 2016 ("We're gonna miss him")
© 2016 Joshua Kronengold
(to the tune of "You're gonna miss me", Lulu and the Lampshades)

Obama's got less than a year to go,
Some people think he's on his way.
And I sure would like to send a lot of company,
Send some congress with him for the U-S-A.

When he's gone,
When he's gone,
We're gonna miss him when he's gone,
We'll miss his jokes made with aplomb,
We'll miss his air of peace and calm,
We're gonna miss him when he's gone.

Me and my friends are registered to vote,
For those that we like both old and new,
We've got ones who make us shiver,
We've got ones who makes us quiver,
But I sure wish we had Obama too,

When he's gone,
When he's gone.
We're gonna miss him when he's gone.
It's been a lovely seven years,
It's been full of right-wing tears,
We're gonna miss him when he's gone

The primary race has been a lot of fun,
With too many double-takes to list,
We've got a race that's kind of tight,
And a clown-car on the right,
But it's not for them that I sing this song,

When he's gone (when he's gone)
When he's gone (when he's gone)
We're gonna miss him when he's gone.
We'll miss the way he fills a tux,
And the year he gave no...buckets,
We're gonna miss him when he's gone.

When he's gone,
When he's gone,
We're gonna miss him when he's gone,
We'll miss his jokes made with aplomb,
We'll miss his air of peace and calm,
We're gonna miss him when he's gone.

Moved

Jan. 13th, 2016 03:00 pm
mneme: (Default)
I am now a home-owner. Or co-op owner, or whatever. (still in Woodside)

Ok, to be fair, [personal profile] drcpunk and I were homeowners as of sometime November -- but it didn't feel real until tonight, when we were finally, finally moved into the new place sufficiently that we could sleep there, use the internet; all the necessities (this morning, the Internet's not working again, but that's the kind of ache and pain I'm used to dealing with on occasion, and it sounds like a technician is working on it (ETA before posting: Well, sort of. RR messed up the cable modem move big time, and so while we have some internet at the new place, we have a lot of random redirects to a site we can't usefully access. They're giving us a small credit and predicting 1-3 days in engineering (after a level 3 support person worked on it for a while before escallating it) before a fix).

It's the usual thing: The old place still has lots of detritus of our life there we'll need to retrieve, but it's now a largely managable problem; the new place is full of boxes.

On the other hand, we were apparently at the old place since 1999. We moved out in 2016 -- so around 16 or 17 years. That's a long. long time--and we had an accumulation of stuff (including stuff we had to decide that time had passed by long since) and history that is hard to let go of. But...the new place is quite a lot better. More space, more storage space; most walls are concrete rather than drywall, 9-10' ceilings rather than the 8.5' of the old place, ground floor in an elevator building (not a third floor walk-up), 5 minutes (rather than 8) walk from the subway, dishwasher and a laundry room right outside rather than no dishwasher and a laundrymat two blocks away; a few other amnenities from it being a more newly renovated home.

There are some wrinkles. The cable thing, plus there's a socket that doesn't seem to work which is inconvenient, plus while the place is very warm (overall a bonus) in winter, it might almost be too warm (we turned on the ceiling fan in the bedroom last night to somewhat counteract the heat). But we should be able to entertain more, and by being in a more permanent residence, we -should- feel free to make more modifications that make our lives easier without worrying that we will soon abandon all we've built when we move (or that the landlord will object). And from everything we've heard so far, it's a heck of a lot quieter.

Special thanks to [profile] jlighton and Sarah J for their exemplary and beyond the call of duty help with the move, including multiple nights over after helping pack, stage, and pre-move things in order to make space for the large number of boxes we needed to complete the move -- as well as the many, many other people who showed up to help out. We are blessed.
mneme: (Default)
We didn't celebrate Chanukah much this year; I think the only candle-lighting we attended was Ellen's, at the NYRSF holiday reading. I did purchase dark chocolate Chanukah gelt and shared it, mostly too late -- and I also got some US money bags of gelt that we're still going through very slowly (and also some blue Ingress NYC Resistance gelt coins that someone comissioned for the NYC Resistance holiday party). And, as the previous post showed, I designed another Dreydl game (I did eventually find a dreydl in our house; a disk design that we inherited from Lisa's father, but I'm not happy with how it spins, so I might want to get more standard tops to test with).

For December 24, we did the usual Julebord at Aquevit (we don't celebrate Christmas, but do occasionally celebrate Yule, and have habitually attended the Dec 24 Julebord for the last 10 years or so with a gathering of friends who were doing it for longer). It's a very traditionally Scandanavian Julebord -- a buffet with 9+ preparations of pickled herring, various kinds of preserved salmon, cheeses, a small selection of traditional scandanavian hot foods (Janeson's temptation, sweedish meatballs, ribs, a roast meat), venison, and a shameless selection of deserts.

Every year over the past few, people have complained about how the board was getting worse -- not bad eough not to do it next year, but enough that it was noticably worse than the glory days when the group first did it. Not this year, though -- apparently, the old head chef of the resturuant has retired, and this year the new head chef (formerly the desert chef for Aquevit) was in charge of the whole board. She changed some things -- specifically, she went almost entirely to smaller portions, but more variety (except for the rollmops; a herring preparation that by necessity can't really be shrunk), which everyone really appreciated, and the much greater variety in foods on offer couldn't but be appreciated by the crowd. As it happens, when I asked about the changes, she was standing and looking at people taking from the buffet, so I went over and contratulated/praised her -- and later, she went over and greeted our table (and got praise and congratulations from the table, which contained Lisa and I, who have been doing this for about a decade, Rich and Anne, who have done it maybe 2-5 times before, two new attendees, and Stephen Tihor and his wife, Kate (Kate's only done it maybe two times before, since before that she had to work Christmas eve as nurses don't get a lot of rest; we went over after the meal a few times to visit and comminsurate with her; Stephen has been there the entire time, of course, maybe 15+ times in all if not more).

For New Years eve, we went to our now traditional party, and I prepared a honey apply Tiramisu (with no coffee or alcohol). The party was a bit lower keyed than it's been in the past; there was a lower invite list than usual, and enough friends that don't see one another often that we mostly talked rather than playing games (I did get a few rounds of Code Words in, though; a game that's been going around where in each round, one person on each side takes the role of the spy master -- who tries to guide their team to select the words which represent the team's agents while avoiding opposing agents, innocent bystanders, and, worst of all (and triggering an instant round loss) the assassin -- using a single word and a number each turn as their only communication to their teams). Probably just as well, given that at a party by the same hosts a few months ago, the game playing turned to disaster, as someone left an open container of punch on the table right next to a large, long, cardboard-chit filled, and expensive game--which I proceeded to knock over on my way back in onto the game midway through. Not an experience I wish to repeat (and which, combined with a play-through of the new Dominion expansion a few months later which also occasioned a spilled drink, made me much more willing to enforce a "no open containers of liquid near the games" rule in general when I play. I wasn't all that pleased by the apple honey tiramisu -- I added some cinnamon on top which I thought overpowered the more subtle apple and honey flavors, and it didn't really have enough time before serving for the cookies to reach a proper moist consistency (I prepared it early afternoon, and hoped the two hours in the fridge after we arrived would be enough to put it over the edge)--plus I regretted not putting more of the homemade apple sauce (chopped, but not peeled gala apples, stewed for an hour or two while doing the other preparations, with just a touch of honey put into the mix, and then boiled almost to the point of the liquid boiling out, and slightly mashed after softening) into the dish rather than just using it as the dipping sauce for the lady fingers--but most of the tray was still gone by the time we left, so clearly not everyone agreed with me.

New Years day, we went (as we have for the last 2-3 years, I think) to the Neilsen Hayden's party--bringing a new apple tiramisu that repaired all the flaws I had with the first one (honey on top, not cinnamon, prepared the night before, the entire remainder of the apple sauce used to dip and flavor the ladyfingers and the remainder used as a layer on its own), as well as a more traditional tiramisu with kaluha, fresh coffee, and cocoa, which got praise from, of all people, Ellen Datlow. It was a lot of fun, with munches and conversations with both close friends and people in the publishing industry (and sometimes people who are both, like Moshe Feder).
mneme: (Default)
Last year, I wrote (and as far as I know, nobody has ever played, including me) Dreydl to Go -- a straightforward adapation of the traditional Dreydl game that's designed to contain actual gameplay (rather than a completely new game with radically different elements). The primary features of Dreidl are:

1. It's a gambling game.
2. the meanings of the four letters (great, ok, nothing happens, lose).
3. It can be played with a single dreydl that's passed around.

This all seems to lend itself to a push your luck game, where the primary decision you're making is how many times to spin the dreydl, given shifting circumstances.

This year, predictably enough, there are still Jewish gamers who still think that Dreydl is a boring non-game (unsurpisingly; it is) and want people to come up with a plausible alternative. So I feel inspired:

War of Lights

A simple war game, played with a Dreydl, a napkin, and 9 distinct Gelt per player.

You need:

Each player should take 9 gelt of the same color. If you don't have 9 distinct gelt for each player, you can mark them by dripping wax onto the foil, marking them distinctly with a knife -- or simplify slightly by only having each player have five gelt (placed as a horizontal cross).

Everyone also takes a napkin and divides it into 9 squares (ie, in thirds, both ways). Put one piece of gelt on each square of your napkin. All other players do the same.

Terms:
Your napkin is your base.
The center is your spawn point.
Your 4 corners are the exit/entry points.

The game is played in turns (to determine who goes first, have everyone spin the dreydl. The person who spins best (gimmel > hey > nun > shin) goes first; on a tie, the tied players spin again.

On your turn, you can do one of:

1. Move cross-napkin from a corner square to any matching opponent's corner square (1,1 to an opponent's 1,1, etc)
2. Move any piece of yours on a napkin
3. A safe Spawn (on your own napkin).
4. A risky Spawn (on your own napkin).

Moving

Moves are horizontal, diagonal, or corner to matching corner.

Whenever you move into an occupied square, spin the dreydl:

Gimel: eliminate the attacked piece, and your piece must move into the space it occupied.
Hey: eliminate the attacked piece, and your piece does not move.
Nun: Push. Nothing happens.
Shin: The attacking piece is eliminated.

Safe spawns:

To safely spawn, you must either have two pieces on opposite sides of your unoccupied center square (spawn point), and have fewer than your starting number of pieces. Take one of your eliminated pieces and place it on your spawn point.

To riskily spawn, you must have at least one piece adjacent to your spawn point, have fewer than your starting number of pieces, and spin the dreydl.

Gimmel: Spawn a piece on your spawn point, and you may move it to an adjacent empty square.
Hey: Spawn a piece on your spawn point.
Nun: Nothing happens.
Shin: The spawning piece is eliminated (parthinogenesis is risky).

A player is eliminated once they have no pieces left.

The winner of the game is the first player who occupies all (or two if there are more than 3 players in the game) opposing spawn points, or is the last player who still has pieces left.

Obviously, this game is loosely inspired by Andy Looney's Martian Coasters.
mneme: (Default)
Because [personal profile] technoshaman claimed that Let it Go was going to end up "like Band from Argo"...


Banned from Frozen
ttto "Boston Burglar" (trad) as learned from Leslie Fish's Banned from Argo

The snow is glowing brightly, not a footprint to be seen,
A land of isolation, and it looks like I'm the queen,
The wind is howling loudly, like the storm that swirls inside,
I couldn't ever keep it in, and heaven knows I tried,

So I will let it go and let it roar,
Yes I will let it go, I cannot hold back any more,
I care not what they're gonna think or what they're gonna say,
I'm never bothered by cold, anyway,

It's funny how some distance seems to make things feel so small,
And the fears that once controlled me, they can't get to me at all,
So now it's time for freedom, and to see what I can do,
I am beyond both right and wrong, the limits I'll break through,

So I will let it go, become the sky,
Yes I will let it go, and you will never see me cry,
It's here that I am gonna stand, and here that I will stay,
I'm never bothered by cold, anyway,

My power flurries through the air, and flows into the ground,
And my soul is spiralling in fractals all around,
Then suddenly one thought turns clear, just like an icy blast,
I'm never, ever going back, the past is in the past,

So I will let it go, rising like dawn,
Yes I will let it go, for good that perfect girl is gone,
Let the storm rage on, for here I stand in-the light of day,
I'm never bothered by cold, anyway,

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Joshua Kronengold

May 2017

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