ideatrash

Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

Review: Black & Decker CM2035B 12-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker

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My coffeemaker died about a month ago, and I needed to get a new one.

But first, let me tell you about my relationship with coffee that I make at home.

I'll brew it - even set the timer to have it automatically brew in the morning. While it's brewing, I'll do something else. And then I might remember to actually make the first cup. And I'll totally forget about my second cup until after an hour later.

http://amzn.to/1VgmasJ
Enter this beauty from Black & Decker.

There are two big things that I love about this coffeemaker.

First, it does not have a heating element in the base. I've always been slightly paranoid about heating elements in the chance the water boils off.

So how does that jive with my problem of remembering my coffee before it gets cold?

That carafe there not only is the first carafe I've ever owned that doesn't drip all over the place when I pour, but the insulated material literally keeps the coffee hot for four or five hours. At least.  For someone like me, it's great to be able to make coffee for breakfast and still have hot coffee ready to go at lunchtime.

You can find this coffeemaker for about $50 on Amazon.

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Review: Homall PTC-903 Ceramic Space Heater

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It is the season of ceramic heaters. And let me tell you, they are not made equally.

I've got a room in my house that I use a lot, but doesn't have great insulation. Rather than turn the whole furnace up an insane amount, I have used small space heaters to keep the temperature reasonable.

Problem is, I have a large (and rambunctious) dog and a very curious and climbing cat. Since I personally know people who have lost their homes due to space heaters getting knocked over, I'm a little paranoid. And then I got the heater to replace it, and I'm very happy with it.

The Homall PTC-903 ceramic heater seems to fit the bill of both being affordable and reasonably energy efficient.

The major plus is that it has a nice switch that disables the heater if it's not sitting solidly on any surface. Cat knocks it over? No power to the heating element. No worries.

The heater it replaces had a simple timer switch, so that it wouldn't be on 24/7.  That's great - but means that room got cold during the "off times". This heater, instead, has a built in temperature thermostat so that it does its best to keep an even temperature.

I wouldn't expect too much of this heater - it does a decent job in a 10'x10' room with the door closed or covered.  It wouldn't make a great big impact in my front room or dining room, but does a good job for the size of room it's intended for.

Additionally, the price is right - anywhere from $27 - $40 if you shop around a little bit. And that's in the middle of winter!

If you're in the market for a safe ceramic heater that will take care of your bedroom or similar sized space, this one has worked well for me.

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Are you an author? Then you want to watch this episode of The Mighty Boosh.

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If you've not been introduced to The Mighty Boosh, series one can be boiled down to this: Vince Noir and Howard Moon have surreal adventures while working at a Zoo run by the deranged Bob Fossil.

Which is strange (and fun) enough. But Episode six...

Howard is hell bent on a career as a serious writer in the hope that he'll improve his chances with Mrs Gideon. However, when famous publisher Hamilton Cork arrives at the Zoo-Niverse, he decides to publish Vince's literary efforts about a pink bubblegum character called Charlie. Meanwhile, Bob Fossil has embarked on a new breeding programme for the pandas.
There were so many writer-centric jokes here that I kept laughing my ass off throughout. You can (kinda) watch it in the embedded YouTube video below, but if you can find it elsewhere where it's full screen, I recommend doing so.

I mean, the panda suit. You just gotta love it.


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Review: Sylvania SP269 Bluetooth Floor Standing Tower Speaker

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There are people who want high-end audio equipment for their entertainment system. There are blogs and blogs and blogs dedicated to their needs.

Then there are people who simply want to have a little more oomph for their TV or otherwise functional stereo.

If you're the latter, the Sylvania SP269 Bluetooth Floor Standing Tower Speaker is for you.

Here's the simple pros of this product:
  • It can hook up via bluetooth simply.
  • It has a standard 8mm (headphone jack) in.
  • It is amplified internally, so no external amp or worrying about that stuff is needed.
  • Actually has an equalizer in the speaker.
  • It looks far more expensive than it is.
  • It is NOT expensive.  

That last is variable - I've seen them on sale at Amazon for as low as $29 (though currently $39), and found them at Big Lots (in store) for $20.

It's got one big downside ... if you care... which is that it is simply meant to be a single output speaker. There's no (inherent) way to really do stereo work with it.

But if you just want your TV to be a bit louder, or want to add another speaker in a different room, say, this works great with either bluetooth or by running a simple headphone extender cord.

I'm a fan.

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Summarizing the Responses To My GamerGate Post, And A Call To Action If They're Serious

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For something that was a personal manifesto, my blog post yesterday seemed to strike a bit of a defensive nerve.  (You are more than welcome to poke through the replies on Twitter or Facebook if you feel like it, or link to your twitter/FB posts in the comments.)

First, yeah, um, that's my opinion. You're entitled to yours. That's kind of how opinions work. I gave my reasons for my opinion, sure, but it's not like this is some kind of tribunal. 

Of course, there were the "not all GamerGate" responses. Which I expected - because those are the people I'm interested in reaching. There's a reason I stopped frequently calling myself a SJW. Because it doesn't matter that when I think of Martin Luther King, Jr. when I think "Social Justice Warrior", there's been enough namecalling (and asshats using the term) that the label quite literally gets in the way of what I'm trying to communicate.  The same applies to GamerGate.

There was an entire class of responses talking about some of the "good" things GamerGate has done. Which were... problematic.

Interestingly, there were a bunch of responses on Twitter claiming how GG has gone after AAA publishers... while a comment on the blog here specifically said "GamerGate isn't about AAA games."

For a relatively good analogy of how "GamerGate" (as an identity, as a brand, as a hashtag, what have you) strikes me, you could look at the KKK. I'm sure the KKK has done some objectively charitable work somewhere. (I don't care enough to check; let's run with the example.) Yet, they're still the KKK. There really isn't enough charitable work possible to redeem the organization/brand/label in my eyes. Also, let's not forget how the Rabid Puppies enlisted GamerGate to hijack the Hugos last year. Not winning any points from me there.

I was also amused by how GG got labeled. When it was about something positive, GG seemed to be portrayed as an organization. When it was anything else, it was just a hashtag. Hence the title of my post - "If you identify as GamerGate".

It's also interesting to see how much of the conspiracy theory mindset pervades it all - "the enemy is media" (wow, that's a specific target), which has the convenient result of invalidating any source that one wants to invalidate. Why one blog is somehow more "media" than another... hell, I have no idea.  The lines of what makes "journalism" and "media" have been blurring for over a decade, making the "media is against us" canard something extremely convenient to throw up.

And since I'm anti-GamerGate, I must be anti-games. (We won't talk about my 6+ badge on Steam or the 100+ games badge, sure.)

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd of course, there were the "Airports Law" comments, apparently implying that I have the principles and stand that I do simply to attract women. Which says a hell of a lot more about the person making the accusation than it does about me.

All of which misses the goddamned point.

Apparently there's now a games journalism award set up by the Society for Professional Journalism prompted by GamerGate (though whether that's a hashtag, an organization, or something else is still up for debate).  And that's a good thing.

But.

It is insanely obvious to me - and yes, I have read /r/KotakuInAction before, thanks, the comments there help form this opinion - that my original opinion of "GamerGate" stands.

Maybe I buried the lede a little too deep. So:

If you're serious about improving game journalism, start your own Consumer Reports of gaming.

1. Create your own standard of ethics for your publication. 
2. Recruit a diverse group of reviewers.
3. Have contrasting reviews from more than one reviewer, especially if they're from different backgrounds.  (Yes, that means you should have SJWs reviewing games alongside those who completely oppose them.)
4. Don't accept advertising money. At all.
5. Review all sorts of games. AAA. Console only. Linux only. Ports. Indie "art" games.

Here's why: With all the energy and vitriol that GamerGate has spent attacking people, you could have - and still could - simply create something better. Rather than trying to tear others down, you show that it can be done... and done as well as, if not better, than those you'd attack.

We're talking about setting up a website, editorial work, and getting content here. That's it. Relatively minimal effort.


Or you can keep bitching.

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If You Identify As GamerGate, I'm Going To Assume You Don't Care About Games, Just Other People's Sex Lives

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I am so done with GamerGate1.

I mean, I thought we were done with this already, that GamerGate's motivations were blindingly obvious, but apparently not.

So let me be clear:  I am done humoring, respecting, or even listening to people who identify themselves as GamerGate. To the point that really, if you even try to argue it with me, be warned that you will hear something to this effect (originally prompted by this significantly more profane-ridden on my part exchange on Facebook):

I'm not white-knighting Zoe Quinn. I don't know her. What I do know is the massive amount of lashing out, doxxing, harassment, and worse against women (some of whom I do know personally) in "gaming" of all sorts in the name of GamerGate.

Theoretically, GamerGate claims it's about "ethics in game journalism". Except their idea of "ethics" keeps coming back to slut-shaming one indie game dev and her sex life.

They also willingly insult, harass, slut-shame, or otherwise mess with the lives of other women - but what that has to do with "ethics in game journalism" is completely beyond me.

So let's make this clear:

GamerGate is about harassing women - especially women who have teh sex - wrapped up in a bullshit righteous flag of faux "ethics".

Look, there are so many other targets that would actually deserve their ire.


What about Kickstarter devs who have yet to fulfill on their pledges? Are they targets of GamerGate? Um.... no.

What about "early access" and "greenlit" games littering up Steam that suddenly stop development once they've started getting money? Are they targets of GamerGate? Um... no.

What about AAA titles (Planetside 2, Fallout: NV, Skyrim, Assassin's Creed: Unity, Arkham Knight) that were unplayable on at least one major platform on launch day?  A third of 2014's AAA titles required - REQUIRED - a Day One patch2 to be playable.

If GamerGate - or hell, anyone who has ever sympathized with them - actually wanted to give a damn about ethics in game journalism, then why is the US$200,000,000 marketing budget for CoD:MW2 (that's four times the cost to develop the game) totally unremarked upon? Advertising money like that really makes one hesitant to pan the product.

The fact that AAA games still get negative articles written about them says a lot of good things about ethics in game journalism.

But apparently one indie game dev sleeping with a guy - who only wrote about her once, before they had a relationship - is so much more important.

This, my friends, is a case where their reaction to one bit of information tells you everything about them. GamerGate is a bunch of slut-shaming mysogynistic assholes who somehow think they're fooling anyone.

Because, as a gamer, I care about AAA titles fucking over devs with insane production schedules and shitty pay (and spending so much more on marketing). I care about AAA titles shipping half-finished products and Day One patches. I care about glowing reviews on websites where they accept advertising money for the games they review.

So if you actually give a damn about game development, then maybe you should care about those issues instead of someone else's sex life. Hell, start your own Consumer Reports of gaming.

Maybe you'll surprise me.

I'm not going to hold my breath.


1This is all prompted by Zoe Quinn's recent post, which is kind of heartbreaking.
2The snark in me wants to point out this is via Kotaku, which is a Gawker site. Apparently GamerGate thinks that this article wouldn't have happened if the devs just slept with the journalists?

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A Study In Quick Characterization: The Dinner Scene From "You're Next"

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While there are significant differences between print and visual media, writing is writing. Regardless of what kind of writing you're doing, you can learn by examining good (and bad!) examples of other's work.

For example, You're Next. It's a horror movie, but you don't have to watch the icky bits in order to see what I'm talking about here.

Today, I want to talk about the amazing characterization that occurs in just over five minutes of the film. (The meat of it is actually three and a half!)

There's no real setup needed - an extended family is getting together for dinner at the parental home. (The shorter 3'30" version will work, but this really is something you have to watch to get the impact. If the embed doesn't work for you in your country, head to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk8Ycxt5aNA



Once you've watched it the first time for the "story", rewind and watch it a second time. Pay close attention to how all the characters interact - their facial expressions, their body language, their tone of voice.

In this short scene we get a sense of who all these characters are - even if some of them aren't going to be with us for very much longer. They draw on expectations and stereotypes - but aren't

This clip is great, because none of these are super-famous stars - so we don't have the crutch of their prior roles and personas to fill in for actual characterization.  (You know, how Liam Neeson is the toughest middle aged guy ever.)  Further, for us print writers, being able to rewatch a clip like this gives us a great visual reference when we want to describe what's happening so that our character's heads aren't always just nodding.

This kind of quick characterization is a vital skill to learn. Think of the number of books or shows you and your friends read or watch because you're invested in the characters. With attention spans shortening, free time (and luxury spending) at a premium, getting your readers (or viewers) interested in and invested in your characters is something you cannot slack on.

#SFWAPRO

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Too Little, Too Late: Anyone Want My #WFC2016 Membership?

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I suppose I should be grateful. But I'm not.

After "Jason Sanford and his ilk" (that includes me) complained about the absolute lack of an accessibility or harassment policy for World Fantasy 2016 in Columbus, one finally got posted.

Not on the front page , but at the bottom of the registration page. Along with a more prominent notice that there's no refunds (they'll transfer it though, see below).

In contrast, WFC 2015, Penguicon, and MARCon have links on their front pages (with varying degrees of visibility) to their policies and codes of conduct.

I'm not grateful. I'm concerned. Concerned enough that I'm offering my membership to WFC2016 for the US$150 price that I paid for it.

Why am I so ungrateful?  There's a few reasons.

I don't know who is running WFC 2016


First, despite my explicit request to know who's running WFC 2016... it's not posted anywhere, and they sure as hell haven't e-mailed me. Who's the board? Who's the freaking con chair?

This is somewhat important to me, because you might remember a couple years ago when CONTEXT blew up in Columbus. It wasn't the policy that caused the problem there. It was the reaction by some of the members of the Board and lack of enforcing that policy. One of those people in particular, Dennis Palmer, is president of the board of SOLAE, which also sponsors MARCon, another Columbus convention. There's a lot of overlap in the folks who run sf/f conventions in Columbus (and Cincinnati, for that matter), so I've been a bit skittish for the last two years. Were the same people running things? I could only guess.

That mild worry got worse when I read WFC 2016's policy.

 

WFC2016's Policy Is Problematic


I got really concerned when I read the policy for WFC 2016, where it repeatedly makes the point "In order to take action, we need to know about any incident during the convention."

Let's get rid of the "But it's WFC, it doesn't recur!" straw man. If we're going to take that approach, then you are guaranteeing that any traveling convention is going to be a safe space for creepers and harassers. In which case, I'm not going.

Second, it puts a huge burden on the victim to be able to immediately feel safe enough to report any incidents. If you really need someone to unpack why that's a problem... well, that's another blog post itself. 

Given Columbus convention history, this repeated emphasis on immediate reporting is even more problematic. If you remember what happened at CONTEXT, such a clause would have made all the reports of harassment that spanned several years moot, and allowed the harassment to continue in future years. Another case that would have been significantly different - and allowed harassment to continue - is that of Jim Frenkel, where a pattern of behavior spanning years could have been simply ignored by convention staff because it didn't come to light during the hours of the convention.

Which is awfully convenient, don't you think?

 

The Emphasis Seems To Be On "Just Be Nice", Not Policy


Especially when it's not a guarantee that your report will be heard sympathetically. For example, there's plenty of people like "moritheil" who claim that harassment policies are apparently optional societal standards (full conversation at https://storify.com/uriel1998/societal-standards)
Or consider that Dennis Palmer - one of the people who were part of the problems handling sexual harassment that originally caused me to resign from CONTEXT  - was also the co-chair of Ops for that convention. Which means he would have possibly handled the harassment complaint.  The people who came to me specifically did so because they knew I would handle it with seriousness and not blow them off or take them lightly.

But when you've got a culture around your convention that seems to think that just saying "be nice" should be sufficient (examples: this screengrab from the closed FB group for WFC2016, or this rambling post by Shell Franklin1 in MARCon's FB group2), that doesn't make me feel safe.


Volunteer-Run or Not, You Have to Reach Out To Con-Goers


And don't give me that "it's just volunteers" crap. Penguicon has an exemplary policy, and it showed in both the number of attendees and the amount of fun people had.  Over the last few years, as more and more conventions have dealt with these issues, there are plenty of examples floating around - including examples of what not to do.  Hell, Jim Hines even put together a "Starter Kit" in case you had to build it from the ground up.

There isn't an excuse any longer. Having a policy, enforcing it, and doing both clearly enough that people trust you to do it is a minimum standard for any convention at this point.

My tolerance for this kind of shenanigans is just...gone. I don't have the luxury of whipsawing around and waiting to see if WFC2016 - or any other convention - can get its act together sufficiently that I and my friends feel safe there.

It isn't the congoer's jobs to investigate policy, enforcement, and see whether or not they'll be accepted and feel safe. It's the conrunner's jobs to reach out to congoers.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope that every last one of my fears is unfounded, that everything goes wonderfully, and in the awful event that there is an issue, that it's dealt with quickly and fairly.

But I'm sick of having to push and scream and yell for something so basic as ensuring that I and my friends are safe.

If you would like for me to transfer my WFC 2016 membership to you at the $150 price, please contact me via e-mail.

I don't want it anymore.


1According to SOLAE's page, Shell Franklin is associated with MARCon, but once again, no list of organizers on MARCon's actual page. There's a nice legal notice on MARCon's website, though. Priorities.

2Please note in that screengrab that I was asking (a second time) if that post was a policy, vaguebooking, or just an opinion. No clarification was given.

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Bands of Brothers: Comparing "The Watch" and "The World's End"

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It is difficult to avoid comparing The Watch (2012) without thinking about Edgar Wright's The World's End (2013). There is a similarity between these two films, much in the same way that Zombieland (2009) and Shaun of the Dead (2004) are similar but very dissimilar films (I previously compared those films in 2009). With their very close release dates, both films seem to have a almost symbiotic relationship with the zeitgeist of society.

There are spoilers ahead; these posts should be avoided for those who have not seen either film.



http://amzn.to/1LezdW9
Let's get this out of the way - while both films start with "normal" reality, both actually reveal that there's a covert alien invasion that has largely already taken place before the films begin.

This is really where the two films diverge

Of course, you do have the expected differences between British and American comedies.  The American comedy is far more reliant upon gross out humor, a bit of awkwardness around gender identity and sexual orientation, and the like.

But that is not the most fundamental difference between these two films.

Ultimately, The World's End is about a band of brothers - once inseparable, then diverged by life, and briefly brought back together again by sheer force of will. But as the film unfolds, the friends slowly become parted again. Their ways of life have taken them in different directions, no matter how much you may wish to recapture that initial camaraderie. By the end of the film all of the main characters are very different places, both emotionally, physically, and sometimes whether or not they're living or not.

http://amzn.to/1LezdW9
In contrast, The Watch starts with off with a bunch of hapless losers who we are invited to make fun of. They're held up as losers, misfits, bad fathers, and incompetent husbands. Over the course of the film we see these individuals become a team, face their individual fears and weaknesses and to come together. There is a happy ending of fusion, where society has been literally formed under adversity, inspiring everyone into an amalgam of rapport and common understanding.  The father reconciles with his daughter (though with a very sex-negative message), the husband comes clean with his wife and saves his marriage, an alien realizes what's important (er...interspecies sex?), and the misfit rejected cop is recognized as better than the (er....incompetent) existent police force.

This is so starkly different than the end of The World's End, that I think it highlights the differences between both the sensibilities of American and English filmmakers and filmgoers.

That is not to say that either of these films is bad. Both films are enjoyable in their own right. If you do not mind the gross-out humor (and a few "I'll do gay things if I have to" so-called jokes) or off-color jokes that pepper The Watch, I'd recommend watching both movies to see firsthand the differences in approach to humor. For writers especially, seeing how different people handle similar material is a great way to really learn about the craft.


What these films say about our sensibilities as filmgoers, as Englishman, as Americans I leave as an exercise to the reader.

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Two Application Recommendations: Chromer and XNView

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The first application I'm going to mention is XNView (scroll down on the website for the freeware link).

XNView has many things going for it, right out of the box. It's crossplatform (Win/Mac/Linux), lets you do wonderful batch renaming, and simply so many ways to work with your images that it's almost too daunting. But like the best multi-use programs, as you use it more, you'll see where its power really is.

Short form: If you ever work with a lot of images - say, a collection of your backgrounds, or a lot of icons, or something like that - then it's well worth the time to install XNView free on your system.  You can get XNView at http://www.xnview.com/en/xnviewmp/

The second recommendation is for Android phones and tablets. It's called Chromer. It's a little hard to describe why you want this, but I'll quote the devs:
Hows is using chrome custom tabs advantageous?
Using chrome custom tabs you have the following advantages
•  Minimal distractions from the app you are using.
•  Pages load faster relatively.
•  You don't need to login to websites again.
•  Your forms are auto filled if you have auto fill enabled.
•  You can use chrome's data saver feature.
•  Your browsing experience is secure with latest security updates! Other browser apps using in-built webview can be prone to security and performance issues. If you are below 5.0 definitely consider chromer!
Compared to normal chrome?
With Chromer, you are essentially loading a light weight version of chrome that is fast and designed for the sole purpose of displaying webpages quickly. You can always Menu - Open in chrome to open the page in chrome and enjoy all features like bookmarks, history and multi-tab browsing!

So the short form is this: When you click a link in Gmail (or any other app), it loads a completely separate tab quickly and easily. It accesses your saved passwords, but doesn't overwrite (or add) tabs to whatever else you've already got going on. It, too, is free, so if you're running Android, it's worth swinging by and giving it a try.  You can get Chromer at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=arun.com.chromer&hl=en

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Weekend Long (sorta) Flash Fiction Challenge - BE THERE

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Shock Totem's forums host a flash fiction challenge every so often. It's for fun - and for critiques.

Tonight's gives slightly longer deadlines, so you have no excuses. The prompt goes up at 8pm EST Friday (today), your story is due 8pm EST Saturday (or anytime before), and critiques of posted stories by 8pm EST Sunday.

While horror shows up frequently, any genre is welcome.

You will have to have a forum account (and be logged in) to see the the "Writer's Workshop" section of the forum, including the challenge. They've worked hard to make that process as simple as possible (and free, of course.

Once you've made an account, you'll be able to see it all at 
http://shocktotem.nice-board.com/f38-the-flash-challenge

We've also started making Facebook events as reminders; if you're interested in that, drop me a line.

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Why I've Not Been To Work Lately (Or: Nasty Pictures of the Crap With My Legs)

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Why, you might have noticed that I've not talked a lot about my health since back in December.

Er. Yeah.

Please note that this cute picture of my cat is your warning to back out now.




So back in December, I had a hypertensive crisis that led to some weird dots and inflammation and one infected area.


Apparently those areas are a type of pupura rash, caused by (in this case) the inflammation and irritation of the blood vessels due to the high blood pressure. It's conjectured - though my docs have all pretty much said we'll never know for sure - that the chest pain and elevated heart rate I had the next day was further irritation and inflammation.

But my heart's fine, and while both my BP and heart rate are a little higher than I'd like, that's not what has me benched.

Think about this for a second - see those wide red splotchy areas on my legs from back in December? Those were leaked blood from inflamed and irritated blood vessels. Which means those turned into giant blood blisters, first on my left leg, and then on my right.


And then last Wednesday night/early Thursday morning, it suddenly got a lot worse, with redness and swelling in my right leg in particular, and a lot more pain.

So my doc told me to stay home and off that leg for a week, and for the most part, I've been doing so.  This is from earlier this morning, and you can see it's marginally better than it was last week, but still not great.


Those raw areas and scabs are a complete lack of epidermis - it's just raw dermis there, which let me tell you, sucks the big one.  And it's been a lot less fun than you'd think; the medications I'm on are actually zonking me out most of the time, so I'm not getting things done except making it harder to sleep on my regular sleep schedule.

But - and here's the one big benefit - I've hardly had to deal with socks or pants brushing or rubbing against those huge raw areas.  And that is definitely a blessing.

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When Jealousy Is Not Irrational

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Earlier this week, I mentioned my advice to a Redditor to describe his jealousy as "stupid" and "irrational"... which got me an earful from several quarters. And rightfully so.

This is one of those instances where the specific audience matters. The Redditor in question was wanting a poly relationship. They knew their fears and jealousy weren't based in anything... but still kept feeling them.

In such a case, it is vital to acknowledge that our fears are not based in anything.... because that helps keep people from getting defensive. And if people manage to avoid becoming defensive, then they start being able to be problem-solving, and to work through whatever issues exist.

But... and this is a big one... there's lots of people for whom these fears are not imaginary. Perhaps their last relationship - or last several - have been blown up by infidelity.

Thing is, in such cases, the advice stays roughly the same: 
Ask them if they'd be able to temporarily (again, use that word) slow down and perhaps have some temporary limits to help you adjust.
Again, stress temporary. This should NOT be an ongoing thing - this is you untraining your old reactions to stimuli by having them do more and more things and nothing happening so that you unlearn this old reaction. 
And that goes regardless of what shape your relationship takes. We all have baggage; being respectful and empathetic of our partner(s) baggage is something necessary if we're going to have genuine relationships with anyone else.

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Random Destruction

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Writing (and gaming) Music: The Cryo Chamber Collective (Azathoth and Cthulhu)

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https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/azathoth

It's difficult to get that mix of "creepy". It sounds like it should be easy - a low throbbing undercurrent, maybe a few other little grace notes of sounds thrown in.

But in my experience, many musicians try... and fail to hit the mark. Either the throbbing becomes so insistent that it almost becomes lulling, or the other sounds (let's call it "melody" for convenience) is so noticeable that it ceases to accentuate the desired mood, instead becoming the mood.

The Cryo Chamber Collective has two albums out - evocatively titled "Cthulhu" and"Azathoth" that manage to strike this balance well. There's enough texture that the tracks do not become boring and monotonous, just a light enough touch with the "melody" that you're not constantly questioning "What was that?"

You can preview and pick up both albums at Bandcamp.  Azathoth and Cthulhu






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And yet another convention doesn't learn from the examples of years prior #WFC2016

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In the wake of realizing that WFC 2016 has not posted a harassment policy or accessibility policy, I am sending the following letter to them. I will update with answers they give.

And in case you're wondering why I'm asking who the leadership is... I'm wondering how much overlap there is here with those whose decisions and doubling down destroyed CONTEXT back in 2014.

 It has come to my attention that there is neither a harassment policy or accessibility policy stated on the website for WFC 2016.

Given that a reluctance to enforce a harassment policy imploded CONTEXT in Columbus in 2014, and that WFC 2014 and WFC 2015 both faced significant grief about the same, I am deeply and gravely concerned about the lack of such at present.

Please direct me to where these documents are publicly accessible; further, could you give me a list of your current leadership and board?

Thank you.

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There's A Dark Side to Relationship Anarchy If You're Not Careful

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[EDIT: The link to an explanation to RA has been changed due to there being questions about the quality of the person giving the explanation. It now points at Wikipedia.]

I've mentioned relationship anarchy on the blog before, and I think it's got a real place in the ongoing cultural conversation about where, and how, we're going to make our relationships work for us, as we are, rather than a cookie-cutter template that never really existed.

But I've not weighed in heavily on it, because of one simple reason: it's something that is easily abused.

In an ideal situation, everyone involved in the relationship evaluates what they want and need, and if things are meeting their needs, great! And if they're not, they either change the relationship or walk away. It embodies a strong ethos of self-knowledge and self-reliance... and indeed, a bit of selfishness.

Which isn't inherently bad. I know quite a few people (and arguably myself at one point or another) have been in relationships simply because we felt obligated, or guilted. This tends to destroy the relationship just as surely as walking away, but with far more rancor and toxicity.

But to give an example of my concern, there was a recent post on reddit where a guy was was struggling with the conflict of his intellectual desire to let his relationship be open versus his emotional issues when she went out on dates.

While this specific example is about opening a relationship, it goes for pretty much anything where interests diverge, where one partner feels insecure or sad or angry... and knows it's not a rational feeling.

My advice - and this falls into the category of "things I screwed up in the past" was this:
Here's my guess: You know and are secure in your relationship with her, so you don't see a problem with you going out with other people, because you know to your core that you are coming back to her. You don't have that same confidence when it comes to her, for whatever reason.
What I'd suggest is to let her know that you're feeling these irrational and stupid thoughts (yes, use those words). Ask her if she'd be able to temporarily (again, use that word) slow down and perhaps have some temporary limits to help you adjust.
Again, stress temporary. This should NOT be an ongoing thing - this is you untraining your old reactions to stimuli by having her do more and more things and nothing happening so that you unlearn this old reaction. Good luck.
 This apparently got the ire of a relationship anarchist, who later responded:
it's not ideology for me. i'm not interested in uneven 'rules' bc someone is fine with their poly, but not mine. the burden is on the OP to shift his PoV, not his partner's to assuage his conditioned possessiveness.
And to me, this is the dark side of relationship anarchy. Yes, you have the choice to walk away - and that's a valid choice. But to dismiss the idea of compromise out of hand lacks empathy, in my eyes... especially since the original poster was looking for ways to improve.

Taken too far, this kind of mindset can be just as toxic as the overly codependent attachment issues it opposes.

Again, this sort of thing applies to all types of relationships. As long as the party being irrational realizes they're irrational, wants there to be change, and executes these sorts of ideas as an explicit way to train them out of irrationality, there's nothing wrong with compromise at all.

If, on the other hand, the irrationalities are never worked on and you're being forced to indefinitely censor your quality of life... well, that's a different story entirely.

What do you think?

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