Lost Thing Found

I was awakened this morning by the irritating sound of a cat playing with something on the bedroom floor. The sound was reminiscent of a spoon clinking in an empty teacup. That is neither a sound which can be slept through nor the sound of anything a cat should be playing with, so I flopped down to the foot of the bed to peer over at the offending feline.

It was, of course, Yuki … the youngest and most irritating member of the household. She had her paws all up under the rolling rack, desperately attempting to extract something. I poked her pudgy little belly to get her attention. Naturally, this didn’t distract her at all. No, she redoubled her efforts to pull whatever she found under the rolling rack free. And then … she succeeded.

Lying on the floor, pretty as you please, was the leg belonging to my broken ceramic unicorn! The one I was certain I had accidentally thrown away!

While I am still less than thrilled about being rudely awakened from my pleasant slumber entirely too early in the day, Yuki has been awarded the distinguished honor of being Best Cat in the World.

State of the Orb Empire

For the time being, I will continue to have a Facebook account. It is woven into some pretty deep places in my online existence, and until I find all the tendrils and extract them, I can’t just up and delete my account. I will eventually be deleting my Facebook account. I also do need to find an easy way to keep in touch with you guys, because I suck at keeping in touch with people. I am exploring some options. One of them is very interesting, and you might find it interesting too. I will be posting predominantly on my blog. If it’s something short, I’ll cross post it on Facebook. If not, I’ll post a link there.

What will you find on the old blog? Same as it used to be! Projects I’m working on, cat stories and pics, and ranting about current events. There will undoubtedly be some crazy train-of-thought posts and things of a more personal nature, but I wouldn’t expect too much of that at first. I’m easing back into things slowly, and I want to find the comfy spot on personal disclosures.

I’ll be keeping Twitter. Even though it is a cesspool of inanity and insanity, it has its uses. I will also continue to use Instagram, until such time as Facebook owning it irritates me more than seeing lovely photos brings me joy. If you have accounts on either/both of these services and are currently not connected to me on them, we should make that happen.

I have finally solved the blog-to-Dreamwidth crossposting problem, so my blog posts will be going over there, as well as any whining, incoherent babbling, and complaining I feel the need to do about my personal life in a more private setting. Once again, if you have an account there, let’s hook up, if we haven’t already.

I will not be redesigning the web site. Ages ago when I put this together, I was careful to do things right. Without any input from me, it has continued to putter along without incident through many updates to its core system and associated plugins. When you achieve that, you don’t mess with it. Yes, it looks like something built in the 90s. I’m fine with that, as such simplicity seems to be viewable on any internet connected device without issue. If you encounter a problem, do let me know. I can probably fix it. There will be a new header image at some point. I just haven’t decided what yet. In the meantime, Sasha will continue to stare you in the face every day.

In closing, it’s both exciting and anxiety-inducing to be jumping fully back into this thing, but I’m happy to be back at it. I hope you’re happy to see me.

Bad Delivery

I went out to feed the street cats, and there was a large, flat package leaning against the wall beside the door. I haven’t ordered anything. The husband always tells me when he’s expecting something. I remember this year’s porch bomber thing and have a moment of panic. I go ahead and check the mail and feed the cats.

I don’t have my glasses on, but the company name is large enough for me to make out: Telechron Clocks. I get my nose up on the address label and see enough of the name to know which house it is meant for. I grab some shoes and deliver it to the proper porch.

Now I’m jealous.

My neighbors have a nice, new, large midcentury modern wall clock, and I do not.

Flashbacks of Dystopia

Earlier today, a friend of mine said she felt like we are living in a flashback scene in a movie showing how the dystopia depicted in the movie came to be. A great many people feel that way, myself included. What follows is my response to what she said.

*****

You feel that way because we are living in such a time. I’ve been squawking about this since G. W. Bush was elected. Not that he was going to be the downfall of it all, but that the Republicans had decided having power was more important than doing good. They sidled up to the lunatic fringe … the racists, the homophobes, the misogynists, the evangelical fundamental Christians … and they began to shape their party to gain their votes, because they needed those votes to stay in power. They made it seem okay to be a racist, a homophobe, a hateful Christian, a woman-hater. They supported those views to maintain their power, while simultaneously doing very little to appease the fringe elements they had courted, and then Bush broke things in our systems. Just small things, but it paved the way for the bigger things to be broken later.

Along comes Trump. He has normalized the racism, sexism, homophobia, and the darkest dreams of fundamental Christianity to the point where they feel it’s perfectly acceptable to be themselves in public. To express their inner thoughts out loud and be proud of them. Trump has taken the power the Republicans borrowed from the lunatic fringe during the Bush administration and given it back to them tenfold, and it has proven to them that their faith in the Republican Party was well founded. They are now true believers, and the Republican Party, as it has historically existed, has transformed completely into something new, darker, and wholly awful. They have become the party of hate.

Trump has used the small things that were broken during the Bush administration to break more things. Deeper things … things fundamental to the functioning of our government and society, as well as governments and societies around the planet. And even with all he is doing, I still don’t quite feel like he is the true danger. He’s the proverbial bull in the china shop, thrashing wildly and destroying everything he touches. The true danger is what comes after all the pieces are on the floor and someone comes in with a tube of glue and starts putting the pieces back together again. Do they put them together again the way they were? Or do they put them together in some new twisted way that suits their vision of the way it should be? And what pieces were ground into dust and will be forever missing?

It may very well be Trump that tries to put the pieces together again. It would fit with his method of causing a problem so he can then “fix” it, but his fixes are always illusions. Smoke and mirrors, lies. I don’t believe he is intelligent enough to to entirely reshape America to match his vision of what it should be. What we must be careful of is what comes after Trump. Someone who is more intelligent but has their own vision of what the world should look like, and this someone is likely already already holding power and just waiting, quietly to be handed the mantle of control and a tube of glue. But it needn’t be someone on the conservative side of the political equation. The pendulum of politics swings. With the Bush administration, it swung further to the right than it had in a while, and then it swung back to the left and gave us Obama. It has now swung extremely far to the right, and being a pendulum, it will eventually swing … possibly too far to the left.

Political beliefs and systems do not exist on a straight line with the far right and far left on the ends. It’s a circle, and where the two most diametrically opposed “ends” meet lies totalitarianism. Currently, both the far right and far left are in agreement that the world should burn, that the bull should smash everything in the china shop, because they both believe they will then be able to pick up the pieces and reform the world to their liking. Whoever manages to get through the front door of the china shop, say the right things, make the right promises, and is holding a tube of glue will be viewed as a savior, and humans often overlook the foibles of their saviors when under stress. Just look at the Republican Party today for an example. The President, a member of their party, does things they don’t agree with, and instead of doing anything tangible to push back against it, they express their concerns while giving him what he wants. Why? Because they feel he is protecting them from having to live in a world that isn’t white, heteronormative, and patriarchal. They fear the loss of power and privilege. While the person who steps in once everything is lying on the floor in pieces could exist anywhere on the political spectrum, it is on the fringes where the greatest peril lies.

We live in dangerous times. Not just in America but around the world, the political pendulum is swinging wildly and bulls are thrashing around in china shops breaking fundamental parts of governance and society. Norms are being rewritten, the awful things people used to say quietly are being shouted on the streets, the core values we once thought were indestructible are crumbling, and the worst amongst us are feeling empowered. I don’t know if we are a couple of months or some years from living in a world completely unrecognizable, but I do know we … as a country and a planet … are closer than we have ever been. I also don’t know if the momentum of events has built up enough yet to carry us over the edge or whether we can stop it all and reverse it. Some days, it feels as though we are already falling and there is no stopping it until we find ourselves on the floor, just a pile of sparkling pieces that were once a beautiful whole.

So what can any one person do in such perilous times? Don’t retreat from the horrors of what’s happening in the world. Stay aware and engaged. Push back. Use your voice. Vote. Help other people vote. Be good. Do good. Stand beside those who are also doing good. Protect those who need protection. Take care of yourself. Take care of others. Help those who need help. Insist that we can do better. Persist in the face of opposition. Refrain from giving in to hopelessness and despair. Confront the degradation of society’s norms.

Resist. Resist. Resist.

Truth Tellers, Not Ratings Seekers

As someone who studied journalism and went on to work as a journalist for a little while, and who spent a lot of time writing headlines, I feel the need to illuminate a few things. Headlines are not news. They are clickbait. They were clickbait long before clicking was a thing. They are eyecatching, barely informative tidbits designed to get you to read the rest of the story. The best headline I ever wrote, which won me an actual award, was … Student Council Out For Blood. Doesn’t tell you much does it? Makes you want to know what the story had to say, I bet. That’s what headlines are created to do. It is their function. They are meant to attract your attention. Once again, repeat after me, all headlines are clickbait and always have been, throughout all of journalistic history. They are not news.

And here’s something you should know about the stories under the headlines … 75% or more of every story is mostly unnecessary fluff and cruft. Once upon a time, the first paragraph of a story would contain all the most important information. Who, what, when, where, why, and how. The rest of the story descended through layers of further information to flesh that out, and the lower any particular paragraph of information appeared in a story, the less important it was. Why, you ask? Long ago in the dark ages, those of us who worked in the layout and paste up room had to make stories fit into spaces. We’d trim from the bottom up until it fit. If doing so made the story incomprehensible or otherwise less readable, then it had to be rewritten or was simply left out. Being a journalist meant you wrote every paragraph as though it might the closing to your story, and you were always ready to do some light editing if that wasn’t going to work. My how times have changed, and quite frankly, I believe that most of the problems journalists and journalism itself face today have been caused by the lack of any necessity to be concise and precisely accurate in a limited space.

It’s not just the change to Google News that’s grinding my gears today. That was just the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I’ve been irritated and sometimes enraged by the state of journalism generally and American journalism particularly for quite a long while. Without respectable news sources and journalists who are willing to be truth tellers rather than ratings seekers, we are … to put it bluntly … doomed. Why do you think one of the first things a dictator does is take over all sources of information? Because that’s where the power resides. That power can be used for good or evil, and I’m not seeing a great many news outlets using it for good these days.

News today feels like propaganda, because in essence, that is what it has become. It’s market tested, light on facts and heavy on opinion, and the vast majority of it is designed to persuade rather than inform. And in its mad glee to appear “unbiased”, modern journalism tells both sides of stories that only have one actual factual side. Such is the crazy world we now live in. Most days, I feel as though it has all gone so far over the brink that journalism as we know it now cannot be redeemed, and there is no coming back from this “scoop first, find out facts later” insanity. I hold out hope that somewhere out there are young people wanting to be journalists … old school, tell it like it is, hell-be-damned journalists, and not just using words and “access” to gain fame, fortune, glory, and power. I guess time will tell. I’ll be watching and waiting for a new generation of truth tellers to emerge, but I suspect I’ll be watching and waiting for quite a while.

Seeing Clearly

It’s funny story time!

Last night, I was lounging in my recliner playing FFXIV, without my glasses on. If I’m doing something mind boggling repetitive in a game (ex: leveling up crafting), seeing it 100% clearly isn’t necessary. When I decided I wanted to go kill some things, I grabbed my glasses and put them on. Everything looked wrong, and I got instant vertigo. I mean, it was like they weren’t my glasses at all! I took them off, laid them on the side table, and proceeded to kill slightly blurry wolves for a few minutes. A little while later, having completely forgotten the first experience, I absentmindedly put them on again. The same thing happened. WTF!!! I immediately removed them again.

While killing a few more slightly blurry wolves, I mentally ran through all the health problems that might cause a severe and immediate change in vision. I didn’t even need to consult Dr. Google, because I’d looked it up before. The list is pretty short, and none of them are good (though a couple are not actually life threatening). You know, stuff like strokes, brain tumors, and so on. I discounted all but a migraine, though that would be an unusual migraine symptom for me. Also, I can’t recall the last migraine I had, because I just don’t really get them anymore. Therefore, I chalked it up to my eyes being tired from too much reading this week, because I do know from experience that too much reading does change my distance vision pretty dramatically. Usually not THAT dramatically, but yeah, maybe that was it. I really have been doing A LOT of reading.

A little while after that, I needed to read something on the screen, which is something I can’t comfortably do without my glasses. So I grabbed them and put them on. Surely, they’ll work this time, right? Same damn thing! Like the prescription was just completely wrong. I closed my right eye, and everything seemed fine. I closed my left eye, and HOLY HELL WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY RIGHT EYE!!! I prepared to consult Dr. Google, and began to feel just a little bit anxious. I removed my glasses so I could put on my reading glasses (yes, I still refuse to get bifocals), and as I placed them on the side table, this time something different happened. My fingers went through the area where there should be a lens! Yes, the right lens was missing!

Earlier in the day, my glasses had been on the left arm of the recliner, where I like them to be, and a certain large cat had launched himself up to the back of the chair off that arm, very nearly flinging glasses onto the floor. I was pretty sure that was when the lens went missing. So I searched the floor and surrounding environs. No lens. Therefore, I searched the deep inner recesses of the recliner. Lo and behold, my lens was found and popped back into place. I can see! I can see clearly! Well, I guess it wasn’t a stroke or brain tumor. Phew! Just an overweight cat determined to keep me from having nice things, like corrected vision.

And thus ends another installment of Cat and Recliner vs. Human Possessions. It appears this will be a long and ongoing tale. It’s making my hate my recliner.Ronin and Myu

Why Won’t They Listen

I’m good at researching things. People, cars, consumer goods, what have you. Because I am good at researching things, I am quite often asked by friends and family members to do just that for them. So, I toddle off and spend a great deal of my time, energy, and brain power digging down into the nitty gritty of whatever it is they need information on. I enjoy it, so it’s usually not a bother for me to do.

Yesterday, for example, it was microwaves. The specifications were that it be under 12″ tall, 1000 watts or close to it, can be shipped and arrive by the weekend, cost under $100, and that it not suck. I spent some hours looking at the specs and reviews for a gazillion microwave ovens, and I find exactly the thing needed. If I were buying a microwave right this minute, it’s the one I would buy. Whenever I do these things for people, my final recommendation is always what I would get if I were getting that thing, and aside from being good at researching things, I am a tightwad who doesn’t like buying crap that needs to be replaced every year. I’m not going to tell someone to get a thing unless it’s the best thing that can be gotten under the required specifications.

So, I informed the microwave needing person of the microwave that fits their needs, and the response is that it’s not white, and it has to be white. Okay, no one mentioned that it had to be white, and it’s not like their kitchen has perfectly matched appliances and is about to be featured in Home Magazine. Having already looked at a gazillion microwaves just yesterday and having a fully functioning memory, I already know that if they want a white microwave that is under 12″ tall, they are going to have to give up something else on their list, like power or not sucking or having it this weekend or costing less than $100. They will most likely have to give up more than one of these things. This makes them unhappy, and they become argumentative.

Um … it’s not my fault that the universe is in love with stainless steel appliances, or that white microwaves tend to be cheap pieces of crap that don’t last but a few months, or that you only have a 12″ tall space in which to place a microwave. I don’t work for a microwave factory and so don’t care which one gets your money, and I don’t work for the microwave needing person either and don’t care whether or not they ever get a new one. I was asked to solve a problem, and I did so. That the answer doesn’t fit into their unstated expectations is not my problem. In fact, I don’t have a problem. My microwave is working fine.

It’s irritating that more and more often, people ask me to do some research, solve some problem for them, and ask for my advice, but then when I give it, they want to argue about it for … sometimes unknown reasons. Presumably, they ask me to solve these problems for them, because they believe I can do so better than they can and/or are too damn lazy to do the job themselves, so why not listen to my outcome and actually take it as fact? It’s really just making me not want to help people anymore, when I used to enjoy doing so. There’s a list of people I have now who will only get a stock “I’m sorry, that won’t be possible!” reply when they ask me to do one of these things for them, which is really just my polite way of saying “Fuck you, solve your own damn problem. I’ve got better shit to do than argue you into believing me.”

So that’s how my morning is going! Months of silence and then this ranty blog post. Well, it felt like it was going to take more than a brief Facebook post to get it out of my system, so I thought why not on the blog. It’s possible I might be getting my ranting mojo back, because let me tell you, people have been irritating the hell out of me lately. And now, I’m going to take a shower, have some coffee and play some Elder Scrolls or Neverwinter to unwind. Hopefully, the microwave needing person will come to the correct conclusion and take my advice and not choose the white, underpowered, no-brand-name, piece of crap one and instead choose the really good one I suggested. I would hate to have to tell them to fuck off three months from now when they need a new microwave again.