silveradept: Blue particles arranged to appear like a rainstorm (Blue Rain)
In your own space, set some goals for the coming year. They can be fannish or not, public or private.

I have goals this year, I do. There's a mandated one to get certified in some office software - may as well go for as many as I can, right?

I also have a continual resolution to never have to default on an assignment.

I want to speak at conferences this year, where possible. Or at least attend them.

I am aiming to create a new life for myself this year, which will take courage and assistance from all sorts of people to make it work. If I can do this one this year, then all will be well...as soon as I finish what needs to be done and can then begin the process of recovering from the life I have currently.

I also want to play music. And take care of the animals. And others.

Here's hoping.
silveradept: A head shot of Firefox-ko, a kitsune representation of Mozilla's browser, with a stern, taking-no-crap look on her face. (Firefox-ko)
Most media is consumable and forgettable. Episodes often spend their time driving to a single line or action that is the point of the episode, the single memorable and emotional part that carries through into the next episode or season. Some things only get one of those events, some get several, and some try to build entire shows on that premise and the idea that ordinary people, when put on camera, will do all sorts of heinous things. (Pay no attention to the casting director who deliberately set the mix of people to be the most volatile and explosive one the game gets going.) In any case, as the presence of the shirt of spoilers indicates, there are plenty of memorable elements to our media properties.

In your own space, share a book/song/movie/tv show/fanwork/etc that changed your life. Something that impacted on your consciousness in a way that left its mark on your soul.

A life-changing media work, one that stays with me even as I progress in life? High praise, indeed, for something like that, considering the accelerated pace and multiple distribution channels for media these days. I could talk again about formative adventure games or a book that helped stick some fantasy tropes on their heads, but all of those things are parts and pieces and not soul-branding experiences.

It could turn out that RWBY is going to be one of those media properties, but it's not done yet and has the potential to go splat on that attempt.

I think I'm going to go with Bone as a work that had a strong impact on me. Fone Bone, Rose, the Red Dragon, and the stupid, stupid rat creatures are all well developed characters, and the story does what a lot of memorable stories I have do - start with comedy and light situations, and then strike hard with the serious and ride that to the end. I realize, after writing that sentence, that many of my memorable media experiences do this - Trigun, Brigadoon, RWBY, Eureka, even Calvin and Hobbes does it. It's clearly an effective storytelling trope. It doesn't necessarily mean that's the way I like my media (still an Arkos fan, thank you, and I like silly Vash and the Insurance Girls more than Knives and Legato), but that's apparently the way to get me invested. And also, possibly, very, very upset at the showrunners when they make that turn for the dark.
silveradept: A head shot of a  librarian in a floral print shirt wearing goggles with text squiggles on them, holding a pencil. (Librarian Goggles)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them. Thanks again for reading through the month and commenting. It's quite nice.]

Time for the semiannual fiction output post. I've done quite a bit in these past six, it appears.

  • The Audition (3042 words) by silveradept
    Chapters: 1/1
    Fandom: Avatar: Legend of Korra
    Rating: General Audiences
    Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
    Relationships: Suyin Beifong & Kuvira
    Characters: Suyin Beifong, Kuvira (Avatar), Korra (Avatar), Lin Beifong
    Additional Tags: Metalbending & Metalbenders, Dancing, Post-Canon
    Summary:

    Kuvira returns to the thing that she knows best, after her bid to unify the Earth Empire failed. The metal helps her think. The dance helps her feel. In front of no-one, Kuvira puts on the performance of her life.



    I jumped up my wordcount with this one, but it needed it. I also feel rather proud of this one because of integrating music suggestions into the work itself to help evoke the intended mood. Well-received work and a reassuring sign to me that I was capable of longer things with the right inspiration.

  • Machine Learning (1235 words) by silveradept
    Chapters: 1/1
    Fandom: Person of Interest (TV)
    Rating: General Audiences
    Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
    Characters: The Machine (Person of Interest), Samaritan (Person of Interest)
    Summary:

    What, exactly, can an ASI do when given the opportunity? Quite a bit, it seems.



    A treat to write, from the perspective of the most interesting and least heard-from character in Person of Interest. Contains Asimov references, as I suspect any artificial superintelligence would have them.

  • The Best Revue In The State (2826 words) by silveradept
    Chapters: 1/1
    Fandom: Leverage, White Collar
    Rating: Mature
    Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
    Relationships: Neal Caffrey (White Collar) / Jim Sterling (Leverage)
    Characters: Neal Caffrey, Jim Sterling
    Additional Tags: Crossover Pairings
    Summary:

    If he had known that teaming up with a supposedly reformed art thief and con man would eventually lead to his prancing about on a male revue stage, Jim Sterling might have thought a little bit harder about accepting Neal Caffrey's offer to get closer to Leverage.



    I wasn't sure I could write convincing, or at least plausible relationships between men until I tackled this assignment. I used the fact that Matt Bomer did Magic Mike as the way to getting this story to completion, and it turned out okay, at the very least. I've got less fear about writing all kinds of relationships after this.

  • Human-Cyborg Relations (2715 words) by silveradept
    Chapters: 1/1
    Fandom: Xenosaga
    Rating: Mature
    Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
    Relationships: KOS-MOS/Shion Uzuki
    Characters: KOS-MOS (Xenosaga), Shion Uzuki
    Summary:

    It's diagnostics day for KOS-MOS. Everything would be fine, if it weren't for some strange static infecting her processors every time Shion touches her.



    And then I did this one, which was a relationship between a female character and her gynoid, so now I've done one of each of the same-gender (ish) relationship stories. My beta's seal of approval on this one about being able to write a convincing F/F relationship was very helpful in building confidence in my writing ability.

  • Story Time with Rumpelstiltskin (2454 words) by silveradept
    Chapters: 1/1
    Fandom: Once Upon a Time (TV)
    Rating: General Audiences
    Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
    Relationships: Belle/Rumplestiltskin | Mr. Gold
    Characters: Belle (Once Upon a Time), Rumplestiltskin | Mr. Gold
    Summary:

    Belle and Rumpelstiltskin share a story every night. Tonight, Belle decides she wants to tell Rumpelstiltskin.

    He is not amused.



    This one is fun - if you know the premise of Once Upon A Time, where storybook characters (or at least their Disney versions) have been transported to our world, then the idea of having Rumpelstiltskin have to listen to his own origin story is too good of a chance to pass up. Include that Rumpelstiltskin is generally a grump and a grouch together, and there's lots of fun potential in needling him.

  • Cyber-Serenity (4062 words) by silveradept
    Chapters: 1/1
    Fandom: Firefly, Doctor Who (2005)
    Rating: General Audiences
    Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
    Relationships: Malcolm Reynolds & Eleventh Doctor
    Characters: Eleventh Doctor, Malcolm Reynolds
    Summary:

    A strange blue box contains a nearly-naked man with an offer to travel the 'Verse and get paid handsomely for it. This makes Mal deeply suspicious. His suspicion is warranted.



    What do you get when you cross a cynical Browncoat with a Doctor who crosses space and time? An adventure, of course. The wordcount went back up for this one, which usually is a sign of a more involved plot than what first came to mind. I liked writing it, even though there was a lot of banging my head against Mal's characterization to get him right.

  • Dream of the Hero Near Another World (4189 words) by silveradept
    Chapters: 1/1
    Fandom: Quest for Glory
    Rating: General Audiences
    Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
    Characters: Erana (Quest for Glory), Katrina (Quest for Glory), The Hero (Quest for Glory), Avoozl (Quest for Glory)
    Additional Tags: Cameos
    Summary:

    The dead do not always take their fate lightly. Heroes sometimes find they can still be of use to other heroes from beyond the veil. All it takes is a connection.



    This one needed to both have the fat trimmed and the story expanded. I'm a sucker for prompts that have this game in them, just because it was formative and good and I want more people to write in it. But this story is a testament to the idea of writing what you have and then working backwards from there. Eventually, I got to something that I was satisfied with.

  • To Complete The Set (2743 words) by silveradept
    Chapters: 1/1
    Fandom: Final Fantasy XIII
    Rating: Not Rated
    Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
    Relationships: Lightning/Oerba Dia Vanille/Oerba Yun Fang
    Characters: Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII), Oerba Yun Fang, Oerba Dia Vanille
    Summary:

    Lightning thought she was rescuing someone from a bad situation at the club. What she got into was much, much stranger.



    Emboldened by my success at Human-Cyborg Relations, I decided to go in and write again for an exchange fully on femalash. And ended up writing a story about how a triad came to be off the prompt. I like how this one turned out, mostly because I think I was able to keep the characterizations correct, but allow a character who is not at the forefront in their source material to come out and behave more like how I thought she would be in that same game. The power of transformative works, and all.

  • And finally, since Yuletide reveals were this morning, I get to put my capstone in for this year:

    Promotion (6609 words) by silveradept
    Chapters: 1/1
    Fandom: Chess (Board Game)
    Rating: Mature
    Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
    Relationships: Pawn (Chess)/Queen(Chess)
    Characters: Pawn (Chess), Queen (Chess)
    Additional Tags: Dubious Consent, Mind Control, Violence, Crossdressing, Crueltide, Anthropomorphic, Transformation, Disguise
    Summary:

    The Pawn of e file must navigate the dangers of the Board and capture the Queen. The plan goes well...until the Pawn makes contact with the Queen.



    This is one of my finest works for this year, taking someone's plotbunny and fleshing it out into something they're proud of. The revisions to the drafts from the betas (thank you, [personal profile] azurelunatic and [personal profile] sithjawa) added two thousand words from the initial draft. It's the biggest work this year, in terms of words and in terms of worldbuilding and work involved in it, because it's not like chess has a shared world and characters to draw on for wiring. I'm immensely proud of it and very glad that the recipient loved it.
So, onward to next year's output posts, challenges, and writing. I'd like more kudos and comments to stroke my ego, of course, but otherwise, the joy is in the writing.
silveradept: A squidlet (a miniature attempt to clone an Old One), from the comic User Friendly (Squidlet)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

The Internet Archive intends to copy itself to Canada in case the incoming administration gets censorial. Public libraries intend to keep the minimum of data and logs possible to prevent privacy intrusions by government order. People become creative and inventive in the ways that they route around censors and others who wish to stand in the way of information. Onion routing, for example, or the use of the virtual private network.

If you are confronted with keyword filters, then it's simple enough to find pages with images or videos that contain the information requested. (Not so great for the visually impaired, but I'll bet there are audio and other means that do the same.) Blacklists can be brute-forced, somewhat, to find things that aren't on the list. Whitelists can be turned into an aggravation headache for IT with deluges of requests. Port blockers can be tunneled around, credentials forged or stolen. Essentially, as technology advances, the technology to fool it advances as well. (It's a great line from My Teacher Flunked The Planet.)

But this also applies to social situations well. The Ashley Madison hack showed us that there were more than a few people who needed or wanted to route around the covenants they had put themselves in, without necessarily wanting to it being able to dissolve those agreements. People who don't want to be spied on by others, which could be partners, employers, or government entities, use library computers for their work and Internet searches. Or check out library materials for use in their lives, so that they can explore ideas and identities without having to deal with the judgment of others.

This is why it is essential that devices that are in your possession be under your control. What's phoning home on you is important to know. I also don't like having to make decisions between installing an operating system on a smartphone of my choosing and not being able to partake in cultural phenomena, but that also happens when someone gets overbroad and zealous about making sure a phone has never had anything that might lead to modification done to it.

Getting back to the actual point that started this post, the decision by the Internet Archive should be seen as good practice - since a lot of the servers that power websites and other things are located in the United States, it seems life a very prudent idea to have an off-site backup, in case the political climate shifts so strongly that the information in the Archive is at risk. Or in case bad things happen at the data center that houses the archive. I think it's a rather telling sign, though, that people who are dedicated to archiving and documenting what has happened online are making sure that they have plans to be outside the reach of the incoming administration. It's pretty bad now in surveillance and secrecy, thanks to the cover of fighting the Concept War, but they stayed put for that time. Now they're looking to move. While you can't easily stop things that want to be out in the open, because networks reroute around damaged nodes, you can make it difficult for anyone who wants to speak that truth.

It is my sincere hope that such measures do not become necessary to do one's work.

(And that any of you suffering under censorship of any form find the way to get out and tell the truth about it all.)
silveradept: A dragon librarian, wearing a floral print shirt and pince-nez glasses, carrying a book in the left paw. Red and white. (Dragon Librarian)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

An observation, and perhaps a request for help.

For as much time as I have spent in places with art and statuary of fairies, dragons, and other mystic creatures, I have yet to find an artist in stock who doesn't depict their dragons in one of two ways
  1. Fierce creatures of elemental destruction, whether armored or angry or otherwise upset or in aggressive poses intended to show off their status as apex predators, guardians, or, in some cases, the shackled mounts of other Fae creatures (which horrifies me to think of them as involuntary mounts).
  2. Cute creatures of rounded lines and cartoonish proportions, often small, sometimes not much bigger proportionately than the other entities they are with.

Call it some sort of mental thing for me, if you like. As much as I give grief to all the other things in the Dragonriders of Pern that deserve every bit of it, it is a series that has managed to balance the majesty and size and power of the dragons involved while making them helpful to the people they are around. (Admittedly, the required telepathic bonds are still a form of shackles.)

I can't seem to find an artist who is able to make their dragons properly powerful and respected without making them hostile. My conception of dragons may be very different than anybody else's, but I'd like to believe that this is really just a small world problem and I haven't made the right connections yet.

That's a thing I've observed. Make of it what you like.
silveradept: The emblem of Organization XIII from the Kingdom Hearts series of video games. (Organization XIII)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

Advice to teenagers to ignore the hype that says your teen years are the best years of your life. And yet, the strong emotional states of those years make the things we experienced them memorable.

Even now, I still recognize some of the celebrity READ posters from previous decades, for example, and they have memories of the libraries attached to them.

I'm told that brain science (and Inside Out) has figured out that strong emotional content makes memories stick. Which is why the day to day seems to slip away so easily. Which can actually make it difficult to recognize if you're in a bad situation or relationship, incidentally - the more bad and horrible things are normal to you, the harder it is to realize what's being done is wrong. Getting out early can avoid those tasks, but not everyone shows their full hand immediately.

Anyway, memory tied strongly to emotion, teenage years and college years as basically full of emotions, and strong ones for that matter, makes them very easy to remember - for good or ill. I suspect the people who have fond memories of those times are ones whose privilege or support network made it easy for them to transition into their identities and out into the adult world - the invisible things that made it so they don't have to worry completely about adult responsibilities, or have to spend spoons on disability or resilience against hate and assault. And because, for those people, the amount of free time they had to pursue interests (or not) was a lot greater, so they didn't feel as rushed or worried or concerned about making ends meet and about their financial situations. Or kids, pets, and other things.

It would be nice to retreat for a bit and let others handle all of those things and be secure in the knowledge that they will be taken care of. That's what friends and partners are there to help with, I'm guessing. Tough decisions when I was younger were about games to play and when to see friends. Tough decisions as an adult, well... that's another thing entirely. I can totally see the appeal of the relationship dynamic where someone gets to set aside all of those things for a negotiated length of time and just focus on the now and the person(s) in front of them. Whether as the person giving it receiving our both. We crave having a place of our own to go to when things get overwhelming, and without that place, there's very little that can be done for growth or learning. I guess it makes sense for it to come from a place where things felt safe, and for many people, I guess that's childhood.

Somewhere in all of this, in sure there's a piece of wisdom. Perhaps a story about a link who set his burden down quite a ways ago, or something about the simple and healing powers of nature, or being without focus, or just being more mindful of everything that comes through. I'm not really sure what it is, though, and whether it applies at all.

The advice about ignoring your teen years as your best years is sound, though - we have already done more as adults in the way of accomplishments than we did as teenagers. So much more, even when it doesn't seem like it at all.
silveradept: A green cartoon dragon in the style of the Kenya animation, in a dancing pose. (Dragon)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

For as much as I enjoy art, I realize that I lack the necessary skills to produce it, whether as CG or hand-drawn material. This is mostly a matter of practice, however - should I decide I want to acquire the skills and practice them, I will eventually be able to produce material of sufficient quality to make myself proud of it.

I used to think much the same about the quality of my writing. I realize, though, that at this point of life, I've actually done a lot of writing practice. There's still plenty more to do and improve upon, but if I think about it, I've written into the hundreds of thousands of words over the past twenty-*mumble* years of being a writer. My early work wouldn't make the AO3 minimum word count, but the craft developed a lot over message board RPGs, before graduating into Livejournal roundups, link lists, and commentary on commentary and opinion columns. And now, I'm back where I started, actually, writing fan fiction and commentary on stories, with a lot of experience going to work on making things better. I still need other pairs of eyes to look it over and make sure there aren't major and minor mistakes. But if the commentary I've been getting on the stories and the giving of grief is any indication of how others are receiving the work, I've managed to make it to the point where I can be satisfied that the writing is good, and that others that see the works believe its good, as well.

This is a fantastic thing. I've finally gotten to the point where the output is good enough that it doesn't offend my sense of taste. Through a lot of practice and putting words out. Hooray!
silveradept: The logo for the Dragon Illuminati from Ozy and Millie, modified to add a second horn on the dragon. (Dragon Bomb)
What has happened requires processing and thought. And a willingness to catalogue and synthesize what is right in front of you.

Politics and worse follows. )

Take care of yourselves, though - it's easy to get caught up in everything that you forget yourself.

Virtual hugs for all in distress.

If you are looking for a place to donate time or money, a long list of places where you can donate time or money toward progressive causes.

If nothing else rings for you, have a space where you can be reminded of your virtue and your worth.
silveradept: A star of David (black lightning bolt over red, blue, and purple), surrounded by a circle of Elvish (M-Div Logo)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

Giftmas and the holidays had some nice events. An OVA, a nice game, some books on comics, a gift card or two, some nice games for the digital platform, and Christmas cheer. A letter that warmed my heart. And time and games spent with friends.

And a couple attacks of the brainweasels, because no day is complete without them. The things I gave were much appreciated. The things I received, I also appreciate. Many thanks to all of you for being supportive of me, in all the capacities that you can and have been. I can only hope that I will continue to be worthy of your affection and friendship.
silveradept: A head shot of a  librarian in a floral print shirt wearing goggles with text squiggles on them, holding a pencil. (Librarian Goggles)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

Someone wrote me some Peppermint Patty and Marcie for Yuletide, and I am thrilled.

Sweet Dreams Are Made of Peanuts.

Also, the work that I wrote was received extremely well by its recipient, and that makes me happy, because I was worried they would see what I had done with a potentially sacred plotbunny and they would be disappointed or worse. That is not the case.

And now, to try and wend my way through the collection!
silveradept: A green cartoon dragon in the style of the Kenya animation, in a dancing pose. (Dragon)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

It snowed today. This made me very happy - wet flakes and proper snow. It didn't stick. It didn't last. It didn't matter. Snow around the December holiday is a sign that the world is working according to plan, at least in a place that is able to have snow.

I got my car back today as well, which helped amplify the happiness from the snow. Things are returning back to the way they were, at least in certain ways. Don't have to keep a rental clean and otherwise not lived in. Don't have to worry about it breaking or worse. Don't have to remember that the rental car has touchy brakes and a happy accelerator.

I also had the performance review this afternoon, and it's all good things so far from the new manager and their predecessor. I am good at my job, and the manager seems on board with helping me achieve my goals and ideas for the next year.

There will be friends tomorrow. And also chores. And traditions observed. And then there will be gifts exchanged. And after that, time off. It might not be ideal, but it has the promise of good things to come.

As much as can be done, anyway.
silveradept: Blue particles arranged to appear like a rainstorm (Blue Rain)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

Universal A.C. is the only entity that knows the answer to The Last Question. All the rest of us have to guess, and even so, even in that story, it takes until the universe winds down to nothing before the question can be answered.

The dog came with the relationship. He and his sister were six when I became daddy to them. I'm not a dog person at all, and most of my relationship to him was in feeding him, medicating him, running him outside to use the bathroom, and picking up his poop in the yard. That and having to come home from work and get up every day to take care of all the animals and feed them. There were also times of playing and walking and camping, but those often seemed to be changes of scenery rather than actually any sort of bonding exercise. Yet bond we did, if the evidence of how much wailing I did after he was gone is truth.

He outlived his sister by a year and a half. In that time, he developed occasional seizures (which may have been caused by a brain tumor), started to also lose the ability to keep his back legs and front legs upright and under him, and lost his eyesight (basically) to cataracts. That said, his diabetes was under control through the use of insulin shots and home-cooked food.

DEATH came for him, and hopefully took him to the place where the good dogs go, if such a place exists, where he can be reunited with his sister and they can frolic until Universal A.C. reboots the universe at the end. It was painless and swift, and now comes the rest of what's needed - comforting the living, burying the dead, and feeding the survivors.

Entropy sucks. Can I be done with this manifestation of it for a long while now?
silveradept: The letters of the name Silver Adept, arranged in the shape of a lily pad (SA-Name-Small)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

[personal profile] bethany_lauren wanted to know what one piece of advice I would tell my younger self.

A question like this often stalls out on the need to only give one piece of advice to the younger you. There are a lot of things that produce regrets or hopes to do things over again.

There's also the matter of which younger self I get to talk to. If it's childhood me, the advice has to be couched in such a way as to be comprehensible to younger-me or that it will be written down and not lost over time, so that when I need it again, it's there so that it will influence in the right direction. Teenage-me would need serious convincing of any sort of advice at all. College-me might be wise enough to actually get it and put it to use. And professional me would get it, and then have to do something about it.

Depending on which person I'm talking to, the advice shifts. Many of my younger selves, if given one piece of advice, would probably get "Your friends are more interested in you than you believe. Pursue them," as their takeaway. If I had managed that earlier on in life, I probably would have made some other mistakes, and there would be no guarantees on anything, of course, but I might have managed to avoid being as forlorn as I was about relationships at that point. Considering that my natural state is "clueless", some advice from my future self about how to go about things would have been pretty useful.

At a certain point, though, the advice stops being about pursuing someone and more about paying better attention. The post-college me gets a different piece of advice - "Someone who wants that much that quickly, and doesn't give in return, is not going to turn out well. [Keep your original appointment.]"

Following that piece might alter the time stream significantly enough that the third time that have happened would have washed away and something else taken their place, but I think the me of that timeline would be significantly happier than the one of this timeline, so it's probably worth the risk of scratching out some other things. And maybe they would have happened anyway. Gods only know, and it's ultimately not important until there is a time machine at work.

I realize now that this question always seems to attract regrets and things to do differently. How nice it would be that, if given a time machine, a person used it to go back and just enjoy their younger years again. No need to change anything, just the ability to go back and enjoy things.

(And not like that cruel twist in About Time where you can only go back until the birth of a child, and therefore lose the people you love anyway.)

This year is full of sadness and regrets. Many of them of my own doing. I can only hope that the time traveler's advice for me at this point is "You're almost there. Keep it up, and things will get better."
silveradept: The emblem of the Heartless, a heart with an X of thorns and a fleur-de-lis at the bottom instead of the normal point. (Heartless)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

[personal profile] azurelunatic asked me a question that I have no answer to.

"What is love? What makes a good relationship?"

Well, I could describe it in terms of a profound lust for someone, a desire to know their body in every intimate way, to get excited sexually at the sight of their body, both from previous memories, anticipation of the future, and whatever imagination, fantasy, and creativity can produce. Love has that, or so I'm told.

"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind."

Maybe love is the intimate time and touch, the shared things together, the massages, the making food, the doing things together, the holding hands, the places gone, the notes in lunches, the words exchanged on phone or Skype or anything else that communicates. The tiny gestures of intimacy that you can see in any grouping that has been together for long enough and that are still fond of each other.

"After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake."

Perhaps it involves a fiery intellect, a stimulating conversation, big and small issues discussed with each other, brains operating at high levels, debating and understanding, advocating and defending and making points, but never at the expense of each other. Puzzles solved together, games played and strategized and optimized to play their very best with and against each other. Nobody in the group will ever be bored with each other, and the pursuits of the mind will stretch on into infinity, possibly aided by the Singularity.

"After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire."

None of these capture the essence of love, although they do hint at aspects of it. Sexual compatibility, intimacy, intellectual compatibility, touch and affection, all of these things are important to me and love, but I've been raised and socialized to believe that love is an ineffable quality, a thing that you recognize when you have it, and not necessarily a thing that is built up by successful instances of compatibility and resolution of conflict and shared experience, even though that's likely what it is.

I can't describe it because I don't know what it is, and I haven't been given the tools to do it. And so, I don't think I've experienced it enough (or at all) to get a clue.

"And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave."
silveradept: A head shot of a  librarian in a floral print shirt wearing goggles with text squiggles on them, holding a pencil. (Librarian Goggles)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

collection_name = gets.chomp

books = Array.new

Book.where(collection: collection_name).find_each do |book|
books.push
end


weed_candidates = Array.new

books.each do |book|

if book.type == fiction && book.publication_date <= 2.years_ago && (book.circ_ytd < 4 || book.circ_lastyear < 4), weed_candidates.push
end

if book.type == nonfiction && book.publication_date <= 5.years_ago && (book.circ_ytd < 4 || book.circ_lastyear < 4 || (book.circ_lifetime / (Time.now.year - book.publication_date.year)) < 4),
weed_candidates.push
end

end

After that, it requires a certain amount of human intervention, looking at condition of the material, whether it has friends in a series that are going well, whether it's an award-winner (which doesn't necessarily save it from its fate) and so forth. There's also some looking on things that escape this algorithm to catch the things that are circulating but in bad condition or that have circulated sufficiently that they may need replacement copies. But that's the basic way that I handle making decisions about which books are to be considered for dismissal based on their circulation. Other material types have different baselines, but the idea is the same.

A thing we always have to remember is that the computer can make suggestions, but the humans always have the final day on whether something stays or goes. Always.
silveradept: A green cartoon dragon in the style of the Kenya animation, in a dancing pose. (Dragon)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

Well, this spot was going to be taken up with the showing off of a shiny, but then I realized it's not actually going to be here until much later on, and so instead, I'll talk about something else.

I made my deadlines for all my writing this year. I even have some buffer on certain things, which is coming in handy. That said, I'm way behind on looking at all the links, and maybe I can spend some time getting those all caught up over the next week of holiday.

Deadlines are useful things for getting stuff done. Without them, projects become indefinite and suffer from the need to become perfect. Fic deadlines are good, too, as they make sure that people get gifts on something like a regular basis.

There's a certain amount of odd feeling that goes with seeing your request go out to a pinch hit list. I don't usually know the reasons why, but it seems like a disappointment - that the request of the match wasn't good enough for the original, and now someone gets a second person trying on a much shorter deadline. It doesn't mean that the work will be of lesser quality (in fact, my most kudoed work at this point was a pinch hit), but I don't know many people who can throw off epic-length works on the time between the deadline and the pinch hit deadline.

I guess I feel like I've been out to pinch hit a lot this year, that I know of, and it very well could have been a hundred thousand factors in the writer's life and not anything to do with my prompts, but I feel a little like it's somehow my fault. Because I'm not yet going "well, I love these tropes, hate the other ones, and I want this" in my prompts.

It's the same feeling as being geek-adjacent - I can speak the lingo well enough to pass as someone who knows this, but I'm just not feeling as being part of the tribe. I wouldn't be surprised if it is some part of my brain craving a work that brings in accolades, kudos, comments, and transformations. Hufflepuff ethic wanting Gryffindor results.

I've been trying to train my brain out of that, really. Because I'm never going to get those results unless the work itself really is that good. I won't know whether that work is good enough until it's there and others see it. So it's foolish to want something you can't actually make manifest.

And so we practice. Stuck in the place where Ira Glass referred to where our actual ability isn't up to our own taste, waiting for the time when the two will meet up with each other, and in the meantime, making works that can be enjoyed by others along the way. It should be an uplifting experience, and being in a pinch hit list should only indicate that the community wants to thank you for doing your part by making sure that you get a gift of value in exchange for the work that you have done.

Yeah. Deadlines help move things along. They keep things from being stagnant, which is an important thing, indeed.
silveradept: The letters of the name Silver Adept, arranged in the shape of a lily pad (SA-Name-Small)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

Fairy tales are an important part of the cultural lexicon, wherever your cultural place may be. Myths, legends, and fairy stories create a triumvirate of tales meant for learning about a culture - myths for origin stories, legends for what is valued in that culture, and fairy stories for what is to be avoided. Think about it - how many of those stories have a part in them where advice is ignored, where main characters behave in naughty ways and get into trouble, or the situation could have been avoided if only the characters had done x, y, or zed?

(Zed holds a good place in my heart - one of my best professors, and possibly a thesis reviewer, used to excuse any eccentricities of his by proclaiming he was Canadian, and therefore in Canada things were done such a way. He was spelling one if the longer names in the Bible - Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, and came to the terminal letter, spelling it "Zed", and then corrected to "Zee" as several people in the lecture hall erupted into laughter at such a strange letter pronunciation. The Canada excuse came out there, too, but I was mostly horrified at the reaction of the students, and resolved to use a zed wherever possible.

Zed was also the name of a later-night television show on the CBC and the reason why I know that nine naked men will cause a heap of trouble for all concerned.)

Fracturing fairy tales and recombining them into different stories is a time-honored tradition, whether you subscribe to the monomyth or the idea that there are only a certain number of basic story types to be put together. I, personally, would like Emma Watson or Stephen Fry to read stories to me where possible, as both of their voices are well-suited to audio reading.

[personal profile] bethany_lauren asked me to recast my favorite fairy tale. Which is a bit interesting, as I generally think of fairy tales as requiring new characters to appear or others to vanish to change their narrative arc. Many of the stories I see that are "the [ethnicity] fairy tale" make cosmetic changes to the story, perhaps by changing the names and the objects, but leaving the narrative intact, because changing the narrative makes the story not the fairy tale that's expected. Changing the cast on a significant way requires someone to rework the narrative.

Which, weirdly, makes me think that the fractured fairy tales or the shared universes stories are the ones that are doing their diligence about thinking through the consequences of their changes. Once Upon A Time, for example, is a clear vehicle for Disney to engage in a Massively Multiplayer Crossover between their versions of characters and other public domain entities, but they take some care in weaving the connections between the stories so that we can see the work. (I still think they should have kept the "everyone is a character but unaware of it" storyline for a few more seasons, with Emma not arriving until the middle of the arc and the viewpoint character being Henry before Emma's arrival.)

Which makes Into The Woods possibly the best recast that I've seen to this point, since it integrates a lot of different tales together, doesn't particularly mind making a few changes here and there, and then glues it all together with an original character or two. With snappy music and lyrics, and a second act that viciously deconstructs the first.

Things that are closer to in the realm of what I can do, though, is more like the fanfiction writing I've been doing. It reimagines a world where the characters remain familiar, the setting looks like it belongs, but things have otherwise been changed quite a bit.

And since I have the most trouble with how it unfolded, the longer I look at it, and especially since seeing how someone else looked at it, the fairy tale that needs re-casting the most is the story about the Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter. First change is that it becomes a story of Hermione Granger, a studious witch born to nonmagical parents who has the issue of the Cassandra Truth about the return of the Dark One. Because nobody wants to believe a woman, and not one from a prestigious family, except perhaps her Head of House.

Second, yes, Ron and Harry stay sidekicks with connections to both pranks and the microphone - whenever Hermione needs to be believed, she tells Harry something and he says it.

Third, Neville is not just the comedic relief who turns out to be useful at the last moment, but instead is a critical part of the narrative, since his marginalized status helps give her voice needed amplification, plus he's awesome at the magic parts that she's not the best at.

Draco doesn't have to change much. Hagrid can be a little more competent, and Dumbledore can be a little more transparent. But it would probably require a lot more than that to change it into a working table with even the small change of naming Hermione as the main character...

...which is why I won't be doing it any time soon.
silveradept: A young child with a book in hand, wearing Chinese scholar's dress. He's happy. (Chiriko)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

  1. Are you easily intimidated by people in some sort of power position, like say your boss or a former teacher, when you meet them on the street?

    For some of them, perhaps, or I would give them deference based on how well I liked them at the time, but for others, no, there's no intimidation. Perhaps collegiality, given that we are likely closer to equals in our social status.

  2. Do you like pants pockets and what do you tend to put in them?

    Heck yes! Pockets of sufficient size are what I basically need to carry my existence on my person - communication devices, identity documents, credit chits, all of it. For events, I tend to want to expand into cargo pants with Pockets of Holding, or a bag to carry things in. So yeah, pockets are awesome and should be functional in all garments that could use them.

  3. Do you believe the saying, 'Everything old is new again?'

    Literally, no, but I do believe in the underlying sentiment that things tend to be cyclical, coming into prominence and then fading away, only to return to prominence in a new form as culture-makers attempt to define the future in terms of the past. Or define alternate futures using nexus points of the past and branching out into what seems most aesthetically pleasing from there.

  4. Do you believe in serendipity?

    The possibility that things align in just the right ways, using coincidence and excellent timing, to allow for insight, knowledge, special events, remarkable successes, and the manifestation of things in such a way that it might almost look like destiny or fate out everything together?

    Only if it makes me look foolish at the end of things. I'm much more likely to believe in a multiversal conspiracy to pop my ego and make me laugh (or not) than I am that any sort of force is working in my favor or to assist me through everything to come out on top.

    You may contrast with the earlier entry on the Bastard's Prayer and call me a hypocrite, if you like. Because that seems to be a religious belief founded on the idea that serendipity shows up when we truly need it, planted there by a god whose existence is formally denied.

  5. Did you have to look up serendipity before answering Question 4?

    Nope. Although the official definition says:
    n. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
    n. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
    n. An instance of making such a discovery.
    So, I suppose it's a different serendipity I'm talking about than this one, but discovery-by-accident is totally a thing that happens when you're a walking edge case. Sometimes searching for one thing results in seeing a different thing in the results and following that as a promising lead in your own or another journey. And considering the nature of the Internet as a giant hypertext document, indexed by robots that can be both surprisingly literal and seemingly sublime, the possibility of making a chance discovery is pretty high. And if you do enough of them in the course of a short time, you have a Wiki Walk.

    Unfortunate discoveries happen that way, too, like "the things above the register lane lines are too small to walk under." Or "no, you can't really search for things like 'text message and first amendment' because the boolean logic behind search engines will serve up lots of results about the text of the First Amendment." (The joys of being an information professional - you know exactly why your searches are falling and that most engines don't have sufficiently sophisticated syntax so that you can tell them exactly what you want to make them search better.)
We're over halfway done now. Suggestions still welcome.
silveradept: The emblem of the Heartless, a heart with an X of thorns and a fleur-de-lis at the bottom instead of the normal point. (Heartless)
[It's December Days time! There's no overarching theme this year, so if you have ideas of things to write about, I'm more than happy to hear them.]

So, yesterday at work, we played the gift exchange.
  1. Everyone draws a number.
  2. One opens a gift, then Two gets to choose whether they want to open a new gift or take what One got and send them back to get another gift. Each successive number can pick from the opened gifts in front of them or collect a new gift that's wrapped and open it.
  3. Usually after a certain number of times a gift has been taken, it stops moving and stays with the person that took it the last time.
  4. Optionally, One gets one last look at everything, once it's opened, and can exchange what they have for someone else's thing.
This game is a staple of many parties, and some of the fun is in determining what you can get for the dollar limit imposed on the gifts. The other fun tends to be in the good-natured thieving that goes on, assuming that you have a crowd that can handle good-natured thieving. If that's not the case, then perhaps avoid this game.

I mention this for two reasons - it's a staple of the family holiday gatherings, with a lot of ribbing that goes along with the stealing, and because this year, I ended up with a cracker / popper, which is a thing that looks kind of like a long wrapped candy with small cardboard tabs on the left and right sides of the central container.

To open a popper, it's much like a wishbone grab - one person on each end, and at the signal, both people pull on their tab. What's supposed to happen is that the central compartment pops open with a loud sound, and then the contents inside are to be played with. There's often a paper crown, a sheet of horrible puns and jokes, and a small toy of some sort inside.

Poppers are also part of the holiday tradition in the family.

The problem with living as far away from family as I do is that returning for gatherings is not as easy as hopping the train or driving up. It requires planes or multi-day driving or travel. Unlike other places with developed high speed rail, is not cheap to go home for the holidays. Which can make you feel rather lonely and out of the loop when the only person you've been celebrating with for the last few years is the other person in your house and their friends, because your circumstances and their reasons have tied you to them, rather than letting you go to your own parties and to theirs.

But, every year, you get a new number and there are new things in the pile, so here's to new traditions and those that survive the changes.

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silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
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