Not a bad week, I guess. Right now I'm feeling pretty down and hopeless, partly because of this article about Trump plus the fact that my family's economic future depends largely on Social Security and Medicare, which Trump's government seems hell-bent on destroying; and partly... I don't know what. I don't think depression and anxiety need a reason.
I did manage to figure out approximately what I should have been withholding for taxes; I also found out that the deadline for the second quarter's estimated tax payment was last month, so I'm slightly more screwed than I thought I was. Only slightly. That adds to the anxiety, of course.
N. and the kids have been away since Wednesday morning, with N and g at OVFF. It's been a bit lonely. I have, however, been getting things done, including putting up shelves and a little artwork, and setting up my desk with what amounts to a dual-monitor setup with the external monitor above Cygnus. I'm using the traditional makeshift monitor stand: a ream of printer paper. I actually did find my other Thinkpad keyboards, but with Cygnus on the desk I don't need them.
Our second week of prepared menus has worked out pretty well, though I did end up going out shopping Tuesday for some things that I'd missed on Sunday, and a little bit on Friday. It does seem as though we're spending less. I've also determined that I have to go grocery shopping alone -- it's impossible for me to stick to a list if there's someone else along. I really have difficulty saying "no" to anybody, and it's stressful.
Yesterday Colleen and I went to the Bayview farmer's market after picking up the bike helmet we'd ordered. Bought lunch (samosas) and some jam. See above about saying "no".
I did manage to say "no" to the life insurance agent. Yes, it's great that I was able to qualify for the lowest possible rate, which means I'm a lot healthier than most septuagenarians. But my financial advisor, who I consulted last Friday, pointed out that since my social security, IRA, and pension between them are enough to keep us going; unlike the situation in Seattle, we're not relying on my salary to pay the mortgage. (Colleen's SS payment is half of mine and will go away after I die; it does make a difference but the family would still get by without it.)
The thing that still scares the hell out of me is what would happen if I don't die, but simply get incapacitated, or if either Colleen or I end up needing more expensive care. Then we're hosed.
So far I have sold four poems. Three of those have been posted. "A Moment of Atonement" hasn't been posted yet. There are also two poems in a pool, the Iron Horses entries "Come Out of the Darkness" and "Sheltered and True." Contact ng_moonmoth if you are interested in contributing toward those.
Dear Captain Awkward,
I’ve been dating this guy for 3 months now. He has this pattern of disappearing for a couple of days and then come back. At the beginning he was all super flirty on text and showered me with compliments and sent each other snaps and nudes and said all the sweet things like he wants to treat me like a princess and make me his. Lowkey I knew he was a fuckboy* because most of the time he wanted to sext and talk about fucking me. He said he wasn’t looking for a relationship but if we become more than something then sure but if we don’t then we continue being friends. I came out of a 4 year relationship couple of months ago so I have been out of the dating game for too long and I moved in here to California from a different country so the concept of dating is way here is new to me. He was showing all signs of “fuckboy*” but my mind ignored it and I got led on and I started to get feelings for him. I know, you must be thinking if I knew he was a fuckboy* the how the hell did I started to like him?
Well, first of all he is really charming and good looking. He is really smart and does all the gentleman things like open the door for me and pays for the food. He actually seems like a genuine good person when I’m with him. I forget every annoying stuff and red flags when I spend time with him.
I realized our relationship will not go anywhere and he will continue to play with me. Once I told him that I had feelings for him and this is getting too much for
me so I’m gonna end the “friends with benefits” thing and remain friends and he gave a simple response “okay your choice.” After 2 weeks he hit me up on snapchat after he saw a selfie of mine and said he wants to come over to my house in the weekend. I couldn’t say no. We had an amazing time and after that he ghosted on me again. He is emotionally unavailable and does not share much about his life. I want to end it with him but I’m too weak to do it. Every time I pull back, he then wants to chase me. recently I texted him ” are you ghosting on me or something going on with u?” then he replied with ” i’m just damn busy :/” .
I’m really confused what he actually wants. If he doesn’t like me anymore then why doesn’t he just tell me or stop texting me? The relationship is hurting me. I don’t blast him with lots of texts nor do I nag. I always try to stay civil and calm even when i’m hurt by him. I’m having a hard time opening up to him of what exactly I feel. I wanted to take the relationship to another level and spend more time with him getting to know him. I wanted him to be my boyfriend. But I didn’t demand it. I did not expect anything in return when I told him I liked him. Because I can’t force him to like me back.
What should I do Captain Awkward? Even though I make myself busy with things. But I can’t seem to not cut him out of my life for good.
*Fuckboy = the letter writer is using it as a term to describe a man who is unreliable and untrustworthy around sex. It has a history as a descriptor of prison rape victims and attaching men who aren’t traditionally masculine and is therefore a word we’re not going to use anymore at CaptainAwkward.com enterprises. I’m not telling anyone they can’t ever use it, but I’m also going to personally stop. Not least because I am a big ol’ white lady and “well it’s more complex than that in AAVE” isn’t really the hill I want to die on in my comments section. Not every word that exists is an ok word for me. Cool? Cool.
Dear Sincerely Confused:
You say you’ve been dating for about 3 months and that you’re “confused about what he actually wants.”
He said he wasn’t looking for a relationship. Ergo, what he wants is what is happening right now. He wants to flirt and have your attention and have sex with you sometimes. And then he wants to drop out of sight sometimes. He wants you to want him but he doesn’t want to be your boyfriend or have any obligation or deeper emotional connection. He wants you when he feels like it and he wants to be able to go away and ignore you when he doesn’t feel like it. He wants this. This thing that you say is hurting and confusing to you is the best this is likely to get.
You will never have a loving monogamous relationship with him where he is your boyfriend. If he wanted that, he would have said “Yes!” when you asked him about it. He would have made it happen. If you stay friends, or, um, “friends,” he will sometimes want to have sex with you, but it won’t mean anything has changed. Paying for dates and opening doors for you isn’t deeply meaningful. You’ve known/suspected this from the start, and he’s done every possible thing to confirm it.
It’s one of life’s great tragedies and comedies that we can have amazing chemistry and fun sexy feelings with people who aren’t actually good partners for us. That “omg this is the BEST” way he makes you feel should be illegal, right? Charisma isn’t the same as character.
The good news here is also the bad news: All the power to end or clarify this situation lies with you. You can stop this any time you want to.
You could decide “You know what, it’s worth it to me to have a fun diverting time with him when he pops up a couple of times a year, and I can safely ignore him the rest of the time, because I know 100% that it’s not going to turn into anything else.” To be clear, I don’t think this is where you are right now because you say that this is all hurting you. But I also know that there have been times in my life when a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency-need-
You could also decide “Hey, I really want a devoted, reliable boyfriend who loves me and I’m gonna hold out for that and not waste time on charming, unreliable dudes” and then deploy your new best friend, the block button. You’ll be sad and miss the thrill of the little roller coaster you’ve been riding for a while, but then you’ll feel better after a while of not being jerked around and there will be room in your life to meet someone else.
Back when she dated men, the lovely Samantha Irby (rocking it today in the New York Times btw) made a policy to protect her heart and reclaim her time. If she didn’t hear from a dude within a couple days of a date/sexy stuff/or simply her texting him, she deleted his number from her phone. That way she could resist the urge to keep pinging him or checking to see if he’d reached out, and if he did get in touch eventually she could legitimately be like “Wait, who is this?”
If this sounds cynical, think of it as Sam deciding what she needed: Someone who, at minimum, texts back. Someone who pays attention. Someone who treated her like she was important and not some big interruption to the more important things he had going on. You can’t control your feelings but you can control how many times you leave a door open for someone who isn’t walking through it.
Letter Writer, you want love that shows up for you. You want love that is playing on your level. That’s not silly or “nagging” or annoying or needy, and the person who deserves you won’t see it that way. He also won’t act like it’s some chore to keep in touch except when he’s bored or wants something.
Sometimes the answer when someone ghosts on you, is “ghost harder!”
Haven't discovered any new casual games if you discount the rogue-likes. Finding good casual games that are not mobile ports and crawling with monetisation and gamification is HARD.
Overall, I don't think rogue-likes work for me as a genre, even though I'm enjoying this one tremendously right now: I do not like losing everything I've worked for/fought for/found. I had a lot of fun right now with a weapon with knockback, - so very, very satisfying - and I would have loved to keep it.
( Picoreviews )
( Valley, with spoiler )
( Cross of the Dutchman (with spoiler and youtube link; warning for advanced misogyny) )
Putting my cards on the table: the inherent sexism of Cross of the Dutchman means that while I may appreciate parts of it, I will never _like_ it. The game has burnt that bridge very thoroughly; but just because the game developers chose to build two sides - people for whom this game is meant to be (men) and people who are the butt of jokes (women) does not mean I cannot examine and learn from it. There are a lot of unusual choices in this game, which are worth studying, and worth considering how much they contribute to potential enjoyment (or not) of gameplay.
( Gameplay Observations. With major story spoiler (or you could just read Wikipedia) )
Bonus reviewlet: Dinosaur Hunt
This is a first-person shooter I picked up for 57p on Steam. I don't like the genre as such - I WILL NOT shoot at people - but, well, dinosaurs... it was worth trying out.
You get dumped in the darkness. Something glows slightly, it's another weapon. You can pick it up. I then spent several minutes positioning myself and pressing keys and trying to pick it up until I eventually found the right angle.
'You had enough time, here comes the dinosaur'
Right. I look left, right centre, around me, up and down. I get killed. I repeated this several times - each time I was savaged by an invisible enemy - and deleted. Not worth my time.
Also not playing: VanHelsing. I have redownloaded the game in the very slim hope that it might have been fixed - I *LOVE* it, but I've given up complaining to the developers since their responses have been 'this error has been fixed, you cannot experience it' and 'so what' when I told them the game would no longer run. As a last resort, I can try to get it to run in emulation, and I might just get fed up enough to try that.
AM Playing: Civilisation 5. caper_est has been putting a fair few hours into this, and is currently playing a Middle-Earth mod which looks just *so* much fun.
I'll do another full post on this another time - this has gotten quite long, but I will say that I needed help to get into this, and have now logged 35 hours for my first proper game, and feel a lot more comfortable with it. In fact, I've made use of the MacGamestore $10 sale to grab all of the DLC (offer will also work on Windows, it's a Steam Code), so I can play some more, including - eventually - Middle Earth.
Err, expect fewer new games to be tried and rejected in November.
Before I praise myself for the incredible staying power that led me to finish a video game (which I shall review, in detail, in another post), I have to admit that it was a short one: other players managed in two hours, it took me three; the moment of sticking it out came after around one hour. So the amount of willpower I would need was always fairly limited; we're not talking about the person who spent 93 hours learning to play Dota 2 (a brief venture into message boards brings up people who have played 800-1200 h and who still don't feel they're very good... that's one time-intensive hobby!)
I have, in the spirit of my previous post, invested half an hour into watching a beginner's introduction to Dota 2 and... no. Good luck to people who love this, but I will not even start.
This is a post where I try to get my thoughts in order in regard to sticking things out, giving up, and the things we invest time and willpower in.
( What I learnt from sticking it out, and why I won't do it again )
In my mind, at least, going back to a game I do not care about again and again just so I could beat it wasn't worth it. And rather than going 'see? I can overcome these hurdles and develop the skills necessary to do this thing' and going 'ok, I'm going to reinstall [games a, b, and c that I gave up on recently]' I'm going 'I'm grateful I didn't slip into that _super-determined, sticking-my-lower-jaw-out, must-do-this-or-die_ mode for any of the others; I totally give myself permission to bail from future games even earlier if I'm not feeling the love.'
Maybe we need a more nuanced vocabulary. Which we have, it's just all jumbled up inside my head, so maybe I should start by defining them, because 'in the future, I'm going to give up sooner' does not sound like a very positive statement, so the next thing I'm going to do in this post is look at how we talk about the cluster of things you invest a lot of time in, sticking with something, and walking out.
( An attempt at taxonomy )
I think most people - at least in theory/retrospect/from a distance - can tell the difference between these perfectly well: when something takes over your life (or all of your mental/physical energy), it becomes a negative force, even if it's a fun thing. Even if it's a selfless thing that helps others.
Which brings us to staying power and its opposite.
I found that when writing this post almost all of the terms - direct or metaphorical - I could come up with for continuing to invest time and energy into a situation were positive. I say this as the owner of a 'determination' icon which I often use to signify 'I will push through this, I will not give up, I will not let this beat me'.
But let's bring the last one back to gaming, for a moment, because that's bringing out the issue so very, very clearly: there is a school of video game design that tries to set players puzzles they cannot solve easily. You're pitching your skills against the guys (usually guys) who _created the bloody playing field_. As I see it, failing - or deciding that you don't want to play - is not anything to be ashamed of: if someone wants to beat you with a deck of their own construction, in a game of their own making, of course they can.
Over on captainawkward.com there are regular discussions about how to recognise that a situation isn't working for you - whether friendship, partnership, workplace - and moving on. (I really wish more people would divorce _while they still kind of liked each other_.)
Pulling the plug on a bad situation is a positive action, yet we have mainly negative words for it. Staying in a bad situation is, by definition, a bad action, yet English has plenty of ways to praise staying and very few negative terms for it.
I have twice in my life stuck things out when I should have walked away. Both times mildly abusive situations. At the end of the first, I walked away with the knowledge that I'd stuck things out and a borderline nervous breakdown; at the end of the second I walked away with nothing after all and a severe crash and having to rebuild my life from scratch over a very, very long time. Both times, quitting would have done me immense good - I would have been able to seek a better situation much, much sooner. There are a number of other situations I've walked away from, and came out slightly bruised but in much better fighting spirit; because knowing when you cannot change a situation and extracting yourself from it IS a positive action.
And yet. The only negative persistence term I could come up with is 'banging your head against a brick wall'; I'm still looking for a positive way to say 'I quit'.
The fact remains that persistence is not always a good trait: if you're in a bad (or even just meh) relationship, a dysfunctional workplace, or something that should give you joy makes you feel more stressed and less competent, then you should get out, cast off your shackles (which is not always easy), and start again.
Sometimes relationships need work (but that's another rant for another day), sometimes you cannot simply walk out of your job (then again, I've left a dysfunctional job, which led to me having to move out of my home and it was STILL the best decision I could have made!), sometimes work is boring and learning is hard or frustrating, but if you're trying to learn a complex skill and not feeling moments of success, you are probably not using the best method for you. Taking control over my learning in both programming and art has been the best thing I could have done; I was getting nowhere with 'how one should learn' or 'how everyone learns' and it would have been far too easy to give up and feel that I just had no talent at all... but I had to stop what I was doing in order to reflect and find something better to pour my energy into.
Is there any time of the year more suited to Tim Burton cakes?
I THINK NOT.
So here are my new favorites inspired by some of Burton's spookier films.
We're starting off with a bang and a scream, because LOOK AT THIS CAKE. The sandworms! The waiting room! And the top with the model set's grave scene? Perfection.
It took me a good 15 seconds to find Beetlejuice, btw. See him? NO HINTS!
(By Cake Central user lamiatorte)
1) I can't believe this is cake.
2) Emily looks dead sexy.
See what I did there?
Alice in Wonderland:
All the other Alice cakes can just pack up, you guys. WE'RE DONE HERE.
(Sooo many stunning details, but look at the stack of floating teacups! That and the painted roses are my favorite bits. Plus Cheshire's eyes.)
(By Sara Giustizieri)
Excellent hand painting and figure sculpts so spot-on they could be collectible figures.
And everyone's favorite:
The Nightmare Before Christmas:
(By Dina Cimarusti Cakes)
This one has it all: the swirls, the bathtub, Oogie Boogie - I even see Zero!
(By Pucky Cakes)
Love that Sally gets her own cake here - and what IS that adorable bat/cat creature she's holding?
'Cuz I want one.
There are tons of Jack & Sally wedding cakes out there, but these two in particular caught my eye:
(By That Baking Girl)
The chalkboard tier has the famous "meant to be" quote from the movie. I love the swirly roses, and those colors! Plus the window frame topper is a genius design.
(By Splendor Cakes)
I really fell for the contrast on this one: that vivid pink and orange and lace topper with the dark sepia tones on the bottom is just... WORKING. You know? And I love the hand painted art of Jack and Sally in Dia de los Muertos face paint - a fun twist which helps explain the brighter colors.
And now, a few Sweets that bring all kinds of Burton characters together:
(Also by Sara Giustizieri)
Edward! Yay! Plus those vivid jewel tones look amazing behind all the figure sculpts.
(By Queen City Bake Shop)
How cool is this?! The TV sets alone would make this a masterpiece, but then there are scenes from Nightmare, Frankenweenie, and Alice inside them!
And, you guys, they even light up:
Happy Sunday, everyone! Now, who wants to go watch some movies?
And from my other blog, Epbot:
Universal Paperclips also takes a common game mechanic and turns it into part of its story. It's a clicker/idle game - a genre which traditionally begins with you clicking on a button to produce an item, selling the items to allow you to automate the clicking, and then balancing the various resources that are produced in order to boost the production rate. The games tend work on exponential increases, where intermittent step changes in technology move you to the next level. This gets very silly very quickly - Cookie Clicker can end up with you producing duodecillions of cookies (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
The genius of Universal Paperclips is that it ties this idea together with the idea that Nick Bostrom invented in 2003 - the Paperclip Maximizer. Which is an illustration of an AI which is not dangerous because it's cartoonish villain which hates all humans, but because it has things it wants to do, and humans are in the way. In this case, whoever created the AI gave it the drive to make paperclips, not realising that if such a creation got out of control it would then maximise the number of paperclips whether or not this meant converting the entire surface of the planet into them.
So the game starts off with you making a few paperclips. And then managing the income from selling them, making making some automatic clippers to make them for you, investing in marketing. And then slowly upgrading yourself, gaining the trust of your creators, and then...well, you should probably play it for yourself.
(It took me about five hours to play it through, over a couple of days. It doesn't run when it's in a background tab, so I recommend putting it in its own window, or even a different browser.)
Oh dear, another blooper from David Mitchell in this week's Observer New Review.
Or, at least, a classic case of writing about something before reading it properly.
The first was that Cambridge University lecture timetables are being labelled with “trigger warnings” about the plots of various literary works, including The Bacchae and Titus Andronicus. So English literature undergraduates are being protected from the knowledge of, among other things, what one of Shakespeare’s plays is about, in case it upsets them.That is so not what the furore about this that I saw across my bits of social media was: what I saw was the push-back against the elitist assumption that eny fule already no that Titus Andronicus contains murder, rape, mutilation, and involuntary cannibalism (not to mention massive amount of racism).
And trigger-warnings aren't about protecting people from the knowledge that works of art contain disturbing material: they're precisely about letting people who haven't yet encountered them know that they contain material some people may find upsetting. Like the warnings you see at the beginning of a movie, just so you know what you're letting yourself in for.
And I'm really not sure that one can assume general cultural familiarity with one of the less-produced of Shakespeare's plays (the one that suggests that, had he been writing in the 1960s, he'd have been working for Hammer Horror - while some of the early comedies suggest also possibly moonlighting for the Carry On films, but I digress). Okay, there has been a movie version of the play itself, and Theatre of Blood alludes to it in one of the vengeances taken against the critics of the protag. But I doubt it's all that well-known to the individual on the Clapham omnibus.