Cats and other things

Cashmere has turned out to be very, very sweet, loving, and friendly -- she was a little antsy in the house for the first week or so, but she's completely acclimated now. She's not combative, but she takes no guff from the boys. They can't chase her the way they do poor Little Bit, as instead of fleeing when they try to pounce her, she turns on them and growls a truly horrendous growl, and they back away in alarm.

I'm very cranky at the moment, as I recently caught up on a locked discussion elsewhere -- one of the members wanted to do something cool for fandom in their own space, away from the community or the website it's associated with. And the mods of the community jumped on them because they thought it would 'discourage other authors.' So now we don't get the Cool Thing. I get wanting to encourage new/insecure authors. But when you're shutting people down simply for saying "I liked this and this is why" because someone who isn't the author of 'this' might see it and it might hurt their feelings, we're heading into Harrison Bergeron territory here. If someone is so fragile and delicate that they will wither way like the Communist State, merely from the knowledge that some people like stories besides the one they wrote, I am sorry for them, but I don't think that everyone in the world has to tiptoe around them lest the time bomb of their insecurity explode.

This has always been my beef with the "protect the feeling of the authors at all costs!" mentality in fandom. It ends up stifling more discussion than it generates. And the fact is, it's impossible anyway. Authors are ALWAYS going to get grumpy when their story isn't mentioned/recced/lavished with unending praise. We have egos and insecurities the size of Jupiter. And you're not really doing us any favors when you cater to those egos and enable that insecurity. We don't need to be protected. We need to learn how to deal with the fact that no matter who we are or what we write, someone is not going to like it. Or will like it, but like something else more. AND THAT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Might have beens

The mildly annoying thing about going through all that old Elfquest stuff was, I got an idea for a story, which would be absolutely impossible to write due to the impossibility of getting character permissions at this late date. It's not just that I've fallen out of touch with the people involved; some of them left the project in a huff long before I did, and others... well, let's just say some of them were difficult to work with. And this would be a story guaranteed to set them off. That was the overarching problem with the Tower, alas; too many people (and I don't entirely exclude myself) over-identified with their characters, and you could never write non-evil characters being at odds with each other without someone taking it personally. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

The state is on fire

There are several major wildfires raging across Arizona right now, Phoenix is wreathed in smoke, and it is 115 out, which is something like ten degrees above average for this time of year. The only reason it's not even hotter is that the aforementioned smoke is thick enough that it's reflecting some of the heat. I would like very much to take every climate change denier in the country and force them to stand in the street outside our house for a couple of hours every afternoon this summer, so they can get a good, up close and personal look at the problem.

The higher-ups at work let us know a couple of weeks ago that the company would be returning to the office in September, but with a hybrid model, so it would be roughly 50% work from home on a permanent basis. Yay! Today, our department was told that we would be moving to a newer, nicer building about half a mile down the street from our current location, because the new model will allow the company to divest itself of some real estate, and of course they want to preferentially get rid of older, less nice buildings. Yay!

Unfortunately, they also want to change all in-office work to hoteling -- that is, you no longer have a permanent desk; you just get whatever is available that day in your team's area, I guess. MAJOR BOO. One, I've worked in situations like that before, and it's really, really depressing and morale-sucking to have to work in a bare cube. If you're going to have to work in a cube to begin with, being able to decorate it is one of the few things that makes it bearable. Secondly, our department has very disparate teams in it -- a number of them are on the phone all day. If those of us who are doing Quiet Computer Stuff are going to have to share the same space as those who are doing Loud Phone Stuff, that's really not going to work. I'm hoping that once we get over there, we'll be able to wring some concessions from the Powers That Be, but I'm not looking forward to it.

There is another stray Siamese in the yard. (There are all sorts of ferals in our neighborhood, but she's here fairly consistently). Not sure if she's a relative of Valentine's or not. This one is (we think) a female, has much darker points, and is a medium-long-haired cat, so maybe not. She's much, much spookier and more feral than Valentine; she's been hanging around for several weeks, and Kathy was only finally able to coax her close enough to pet her today. We are NOT going to try to tame her and take her in, damn it. But we are putting out food and water, because not to do so in this heat would be animal cruelty. :/ We should probably at least try to get her spayed if she's going to hang around, because the last thing this neighborhood needs is more kittens.

Possibly related to the feral cats, I found half a dead rabbit in the back yard yesterday. It looked like it had been bitten right in half, so it's possible that Bo killed it, but he didn't seem at all interested in it, so who knows. It might have been coyotes; they can jump a six foot fence, and might think our back yard a nice secluded place to enjoy lunch.

I was hunting for something the other night on the computer, and happened on the folder where I'd saved a bunch of old Elfquest stuff -- half finished stories, old letters and emails, plot discussions. I didn't save all the emails we exchanged (there were a lot of them) but I have all of mine from around 1996 through 1999 -- at that point, I think, we moved from a private email server at the place where Kathy and I were working at the time, to one of the pro email list places -- Onelist or eGroups or something. And I didn't bother to download any archives from that when I quit the group in 2001-ish. I rather regret that now, but c'est la vie. It's nostalgic reading all the old discussions, and I'm reminded how much I miss having a good writing group to discuss things with. But it also reminds me of why I quit; even in these emails I can see the traces of all the feuds that eventually paralyzed the group beyond saving. Still, there were some decent stories there in my unpublished folder. Perhaps one day I'll clean them up and slap them on AO3, with a note to the effect that since they were never published in the zine, they can't be considered canon. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

:taps mike:

Since it seems I have some readers who may be unaware of this:

I am a pro-choice liberal atheist lesbian feminist Democrat. The main reason I'm not a socialist is that I don't think that they have any realistic chance of winning elections in my state; I support many of their policy positions. I support Black Lives Matter and all the letters in LGBTQIA+; trans women are women. Climate change is a real and present danger. I have no issue with people who are religious, but I do not take kindly to proselytizing, nor to people who attempt to impose their religious views on everyone else by law.

Just wanted to clear that up, so you can manage your expectations when you come into my blog and tell me that only racists care about racism. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Musings on Talking Rabbits

There's a web cartoonist whose work I follow – she's written/illustrated two long series based on Scandinavian mythology. They're well-written and beautifully illustrated, and so when I checked in to her website recently and saw she'd done another stand-along short comic, I was very pleased. Unfortunately it is... not great. The art is beautiful, but the story is.. um. It's the story of a bunch of talking rabbits governed by a "World Council" which has instituted a "Social Credit System." Rabbit citizens get points for doing good things, and lose points for doing bad things. Points are how you qualify for food and lodging and so forth. In addition to losing points if you do bad things yourself, you lose points if your friends or family members do bad things.

Now, this has the makings of a fairly decent dystopian story. It's easy to see how such a system could be abused. The author felt the need to mix in a facile condemnation of consumer culture and internet influencers (the rabbits are all addicted to social media, and the evil World Council is in cahoots with a transparent analog of Amazon), but what made me roll my eyes and wish I had a physical copy to toss at the wall was that the primary way the evil World Council is shown to be abusing its power is that it persecutes Christians. First it makes reading the Bible worth no points, and then negative points. Horrors!

Now, aside from the worldbuilding (why does a society of talking rabbits use a copy of the human Bible? Shouldn't they be worshipping Aslan or Frith or something? Are these post-apocalyptic rabbits who adopted human customs? I have Questions. Also, since point-gaining and point-losing activities are all tracked by phone, why don't rabbits who want to do antisocial things just ditch their phones before doing them?) what got me about this was that there is absolutely no reason, in the context of the story, for the World Council to see Christians as a threat. The Christian characters don't DO anything subversive except read their Bibles, which are deemed unsuitable literature because they contain content that violates a checklist of "woke" items: racism, sexism, violence, etc. (Which kiiiinda makes me side-eye in retrospect a kerfuffle the author was involved in a couple of years ago, over the maybe-accidental use of racially insensitive language, and think perhaps it was not so accidental.) The final straw for the main Christian character is not any of the injustices perpetrated upon its fellow rabbits; it's the World Council releasing Bible 2.0 with the 'bad' parts edited out. The one character in the story who tries to help one of the "unpersons" who've lost all their points and are homeless and starving is not a Christian character.

(For someone who was, I presume, trying to make her Christian characters sympathetic, she did not succeed particularly well; they come off as smug and indifferent.)

Since the Christian characters don't do anything that would cause the World Council the slightest bit of trouble, the whole Bible 2.0 subplot seems to be there solely to make Christians out to be victims. Which, for a reader like myself, living in a country where evangelical Christianity is explicitly allied with the authoritarian right-wing party which is actively engaged in destroying and suppressing democratic institutions, but nonetheless plays the victim card every chance it gets, elicits a kneejerk assumption about the author's politics. (As does the heavy-handed anti-EU metaphor of the World Council.)

When I read the author's note at the end, it explained that in the last year, she'd become an (excessively zealous) convert to Christianity, and she was against the health passport idea that was being floated in the EU. Which doesn't necessarily mean she's a right-wing nutcase in the American sense, because the author is not American, and EU right-wing authoritarians have different sorts of intersections with religion than American ones do, and I am not familiar enough with the political factions in the Scandinavian countries to parse this correctly. So all I can say for certain is that an author I liked has started writing heavy-handed, didactic glurge.

I am not certain why religious conversion so often has this effect on peoples' artistic output, but it annoys me. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me


I got my second covid shot Monday afternoon. I woke up at 2:00 AM Tuesday morning with fever, chills, aches, and nausea. I couldn't take the day off, because there was a meeting I absolutely had to be at, but after several hours of tossing, turning, and barfing, I called in to say I'd be in late. I dragged in to work at nine, made it through my noon meeting, and then my boss sent me home. I spent the rest of the day in bed, feeling progressively worse. Spent Tuesday night tossing, turning, and trying and failing to barf so I'd feel better. Fever finally broke this morning, but I called in sick anyway, as I got virtually no sleep and am still deathly tired.

I REALLY hope that the booster shots don't hit me like this every time... comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Brains are weird

For most of my life, I've been able to group my anxiety dreams into several distinct categories.

1. Someone I care for (friend, family, signficant other) treats me with indifference, cruelty, or contempt. When I confront them about it, they shrug or roll their eyes, tell me in detail how annoying I am and how much they've always disliked me, and leave (often stranding me someplace.)

2. I am stranded someplace without a car. The buses are not running. Sometimes I end up biking across Phoenix, which expands as I ride across it. For some reason, I am always heading for my childhood home, rather than where I live now, and I am seldom able to get there. If I do get there, someone else is living there. (In reality, we were the last people to live in that house before it was torn down for the new freeway.)

3. My teeth and/or my hair is falling out.

4. I am still in school, and about to take a final for a class I haven't attended all year, and have forgotten to drop out of. After many years of this dream, I have finally got to the point of being able to realize in-dream that I graduated decades ago. Fear of failing the final morphs into guilt for wasting money auditing a class I didn't attend.

5. The "dual responsibilities" set:

A) We have bought a new house, but we have not sold the old house, often because we just sort of forgot we owned one or the other of them. Either we are still living in the old house, and the new house sits empty, costing us money, or vice versa. I have forgotten to pay one of the mortgages, or I owe Mom a ton of money she lent us to buy the new house.

B) In addition to my normal job, I am still working for the play-by-mail gaming company that fired me back in 2001. I am supposed to be doing both jobs, though it's never clear why. (Maybe it's to pay for those two mortgages.) I've been slacking off at the PBM job, because it pays next to nothing and I don't like it. I feel guilty about it. I have to go over there after my regular job and deal with piles and piles of months-or-years-old customer service letters.

C) And a relatively new addition: Mom has been sick or injured, and she has somehow managed to go back to her old house (which, in the dream, we have not yet sold) after being released from the hospital. The house is mostly empty of furniture, and most of her things are at her assisted living apartment, but she insists that she will recuperate better in her old house, and refuses to go back to the apartment – which sits empty, costing her money. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Blood is compulsory

This morning when walking the dog, we saw the detritus from some flares in the road ahead. "Oh, there must have been a traffic accident last night," we said. When we got to the northeast corner of 28th and Indian School, there was a bunch of sand in the road, soaking up oil from what must have been a car crash. And there on the sidewalk was one (1) discarded pair of heavy duty plastic gloves, one (1) unexploded bullet, and two (2) LARGE PUDDLES OF WHAT SURE AS HECK LOOKED LIKE HUMAN BLOOD. This was not a little drop of blood; this was an oh-God-someone-died-here amount of blood. There's no mention of it in the news. Geez, life in a big city.

I was mowing the lawn this weekend, and thinking rather morosely about the environmental evils of Lawns In General. Our lawn is not a monoculture -- it's a mix of Bermudagrass, lippia, dichondra, buffelgrass, yellow sweetclover, desert mallow, Persian clover and other plants which occasionally grow up from uneaten birdseed, and assorted weeds. Unless it's the dead of winter, something in that mix is usually flowering, providing bee fodder. We get lots of bees -- not just honeybees, but carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, and a couple other wild species I'm not sure of the names of. (Arizona has a great variety of wild bees.) Not to mention the butterflies, wasps, and other pollinating insects. We have a dozen or so trees (two grapefruit, two oranges, one lime, one lemon, one fig, two acacia, one eldarica pine, and a dwarf bottlebrush) proving shade and a carbon sink, and that's not to be sneezed at around here. Plus a bunch of hopeful acacia saplings on the west side that may be shade in twenty years. But, still, we live in a desert and I can't pretend it's not a water hog, even though I use the Responsible Watering Tricks -- deep water once a week instead of sprinkling every day, etc.

But on the other hand, converting to desert landscaping (with actual desert plants and trees of even remotely comparable size, as opposed to just stopping watering and letting everything die) would cost a freaking fortune. And I don't want to live in a house with a bare dirt and gravel yard. If I could wave a magic wand and covert our entire yard to xeriscaping, I would. But magic wands being scarce upon the ground, I suppose I will just continue to stew about it. comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me

Hello and goodbye

Hello to the new fridge, which fits perfectly. (Though Kathy said the delivery guy did have to take both the handles off the fridge, and the front door off its hinges, to get it inside. We're betting that the Costco delivery guy didn't want to go to all that trouble.)

And goodbye to Cairo. :( He was twenty-two years old this year, a very good run for a cat. For the last couple of years his health has been slowly but steadily declining: arthritis, thyroid and kidney issues, etc. He's lost a lot of weight, and while still alert, it's obviously painful for him to get around. A couple of days ago, he stopped eating. We waited a day to see if he was just feeling under the weather, but today he started wandering around the house, and eventually curled up in a corner (not one of his usual sleeping spots). Kathy set up a vet appointment for him, and we took him in this afternoon. The verdict, as we suspected, was just "He's old." The vet said they could try this that or the other that might perk him up for a day or a week, but at this point, anything they did would be prolonging the inevitable. So we decided it was better to send him off before he got really bad, and said goodbye.

Little Bit doesn't give a hoot about other cats and Valentine is too new to have gotten attached, but Churro has been wandering around the house sniffing at Cairo's favorite spots, looking for him. Churro was the one who noticed Ma-San had gone, too. He hassled them both unmercifully, but it was because he was interested in them (an interest which was usually not, alas, returned.) comment count unavailable Rants Talk to me