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Why we're all in an uproar lately

The last nine days haven't been terribly kind to us transgender folk.

Several pieces of media have come out showing various degrees of ignorance on the topic.

Sure... it's not a physical attack... But attacks on our self-esteem certainly contribute to the rampant problem of suicide in our community, as well as contributing to the negative stereotypes that lead to us being refused medical treatment, being harassed or attacked, being denied employment, etc.

If you're curious, this commercial is how to do ads featuring this community in a way that is not offensive.

To my cisgender allies

So... There's this really interesting conversation going on a couple posts back about cisgender allies of transgender people and how they can sometimes/frequently fuck up and say stupid shit.

I'm going to take a moment and say to many of you, my wonderful cisgender friends and lovers, that you have said and done really stupid cissexist shit at times. Generally, you may not have realized it because I either let it go or I calmly and rationally called you on it, and we had a discussion about how your language and behavior doesn't work for me. But the fact remains that you have done this to me on numerous occasions.

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Incidentally...

This whole crazy argument between daphaknee and @JimSterling of Destructoid.com really makes me ill.

Apparently, the asshole thinks it is okay to freak out about someone drawing gay porn of him and then to subsequently start calling the woman that did it a feminazi slut, a cunt, and many other wonderful words.

Now he's gone so far as to start apologizing with wonderful things like, "I'm sorry for keeping going on about this, but seeing a few game industry professionals take the side of the cunts is making me sad ..." or "But I wanted to just convey that I was responding in kind, not just randomly attacking women for my own salacious endeavors."

That's... not a fucking apology you asshole. It's a classic case of a man telling women what they are allowed to be offended by.

When you attack one woman with words that harm us all, you attack us all. End of story. Enough said.

Ugh... Keep me away from baseball bats this week. There's too much stupid out in the world.
All of the cisgender people on my LJ need to read this article now, and then read the study that it is referencing

A few gems...

  • 41 percent of respondents had attempted suicide. (26X higher than the national average)
  • Respondents were four to five times more likely than the general population to live in extreme poverty, with an annual household income of less than $10,000 at all levels of educational attainment.
  • Those surveyed were twice as likely to be unemployed
  • 26% had lost a job because they were transgender,
  • 47% were not hired or denied promotion due to being transgender.
  • 90% have suffered harassment of some sort on the job.
  • 51% were harassed/bullied in school
  • 61% have suffered physical assault
  • 64% have suffered sexual assault
  • 78% of K-12 students have suffered some sort of harassment
  • 35% of K-12 students have been physically assaulted
  • 12% of K-12 students have suffered sexual violence.
  • 15% leave school
  • To avoid discrimination, 71% of trans people hide who they are.
  • 57% of trans people delay transition to avoid discrimination.
  • 16% participate in the "underground economy" of sex work and drugs.
  • 19% of trans people have been homeless at some point, with 55% of those harrassed at homeless shelters.
  • Of those who have been homeless, 22% have been sexually assaulted by shelter staff.


Even if you're well-to-do, every transgender person has to constantly face the fear of losing employment and being unable to support themself. Hiding the fact of being trans is a survival technique in a world that, as seen above, wants us dead, gone, abused, and out of the way.

Those of us that are able to live well in this world know that we're doing so on borrowed time, at the mercy of the majority world, or are doing so in spite of a world designed to crush us down. We can see it in the pressures around us, and in our friends that we see struggling to survive in this world.

So, the next time you find a transgender person getting a mite pissy with you, read through those statistics and remember what we have to face every day of our lives.

*pant pant pant*

Oof.

I'm not sure if it was:
A) I've gained 20 pounds since I last biked.
B) I've lost a lot of leg muscle since I last biked.
C) I was having my asthma issues for the first half of the ride due to taking my inhaler too late.
D) I was riding on dirt/gravel paths
E) My rear brake pad was riding against my tire
or F) All of the above...

But holy shit that was a hard ride into work today. My first bike ride of the year/first major ride since breaking my ankle. 10.5 miles along the Bayshore from Monta Loma to Alviso.

Absolutely gorgeous path... But quite challenging. I was struggling to maintain 10 miles an hour while on the trail, and found myself wanting to shift to a gear in between 1st and 2nd, as 2nd was nearly too tough for me, but 1st on my bike is a huge jump down to the point where I barely had any resistance.

We'll see how well I do on the return path.

Oh, also... ZOMG FRIZZY HAIR. Taking wet hair out into the world and sweating all over it while wearing a helmet is NOT the best way to make your hair appear nice. I'm going in on Saturday to get my hair repaired. oy

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The Silent Heroes

This is a message from Life.

It's not fair.

Accomplishments in life are one of those valuable things that you collect to make yourselves feel good about yourselves. Accomplishments like establishing circles of friends, learning trades and skills, establishing expertise, getting and maintaining a job... building a life out of the things that you have been given.

So it's really not fair that I've put you all on an uneven playing field, huh? And you probably really hate it even more that I really don't care about that fact.

I'll give you the gift of childhood abuse so you can spend the rest of your life dealing with trauma. I'll give you over there chronic physical pain in the form of arthritis or fibromyalgia. You there, I'm going to put you in a dysfunctional family with little to no money. You? How about mental illness of the sort that no one will ever see but will plague you constantly. You five get chronic depression. You ten are going to get raped at some point in your first 20 years. And you? We'll put you on the LGBT spectrum in a red state, just for fun.

I know... I'm a good Mother, aren't I?

Well guess what... with these "lovely gifts" I've given you... you are going to be expected to perform at the same level as everyone else in the world that doesn't have these "gifts."

Yeah yeah... I don't care. I don't care that you say this isn't fair.

You can curl up and cry all you want. Scream at Me all you want. It doesn't change the fact that this is where you are, and this is what you're going to have to deal with.

When everyone else has but a short walk over a molehill to get to something, you're going to have to climb a mountain to just get to the same thing. To accomplish things like these others have had, you're going to have to work 20 times harder than them just to make it happen.

Because you're going to have to work 10 times harder than them just to survive. Just to function in this world. You're going to have to deal with so much more shit and so many more problems than other people in the world... just to stay in it.

Yes yes... I hear you whining and crying. I know you don't like this part. But here it goes... When you achieve those accomplishments, or things that seem to you like accomplishments, the rest of the world isn't going to know. They're not going to know how hard it was for you to simply get out of bed that morning. They're not going to know what an achievement it was for you to have the strength to get dressed and drive yourself to work. They're not going to know what an accomplishment it was for you to have the ability to spend a full day at work and bring home enough money to buy yourself food. They're not going to know that the skills you bring to the office did not come easily to you, and it continues to be hard to use them and keep up.

To them... you're an average person of mediocre or dubious accomplishments.

Congratulations... You've achieved parity... And nothing more.

Now now... I hear you complaining... I hear you crying... Yes... you're justified in having a hard time with this... But the cold hard Truth is that, no matter how hard it is to make your life even marginally functional... It is still *your* responsibility to do it. Do you want to achieve something awesome and excellent? You're going to have to work even harder.

And yeah... people will never know or understand what you've been through to get here. You are doomed to be the silent unsung hero of your own life. Climbing mountains and rising to heights unimagined to you... just to be at the ground level of others.

Oh well.

It's still *your* responsibility to deal with. No one else is going to live your life, and no one else is going to make anything happen. There is no savior coming to rescue you and make everything better. No one else is going to make this that much easier...

At the end of the day... there is exactly one person for whom the responsibility to live lies... And that's you.

So stop complaining and get to work.

And I'm sorry.

The Ghost in the Machine

I did a meditation on self-improvement and self-awareness this weekend.

I have this desire to always ask the meta question of... "Why?" Whatever I'm doing, whatever I'm thinking, I want to step outside of it and ask why I'm doing it.

The goal, of course is to understand why I'm doing what I'm doing in any given moment. Seek to understand the reasons for my actions, the influences internal and external that affect my behavior. I seek freedom from undue outside influence, a true sense of freedom to be who I really am. In some way, you could say that I want to *see* the "self." See the thing that is me watching itself and creating itself.

In asking the meta question like this... rising above this moment to see into it... I hope to become *more* than I was in that moment... Become more self-aware and perhaps become a better person.

But there is a negative aspect to this. To constantly seek to rise above is a never ending exploration of the self. It's like a video game with an amazing and beautiful world that you can explore forever in every direction because the environment is infinitely generated around you. If you keep trying to rise above the current moment to see inside it... To understand how it works... You're really going to be doing nothing more than constantly walking an endless cycle of rising above each thought. You're trying to climb to the top of a staircase that you're creating every second.

It's pointless....

It reminds me of that whole notion of "Be Here Now." The idea of letting go of this desire to walk the spiral staircase of constant self-awareness and becoming content in this moment... Becoming happy with all that I have right now... All that I am right now. It makes me consider the idea of, rather than trying to constantly step above a moment to gain a better perspective on it, sometimes, just exist inside that moment and experience it. Be part of it. Be here... now.

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My first robbery

I was robbed for the first time in my life yesterday.

From Vandals and Theft


I was spending the night at banneret's place, and when I came out in the morning to go to therapy, I came upon the image above.

It seems that they saw my 3 year old cheapo GPS and decided it was worth smashing my window in to get it. I had been taking it out of the car when I first got it, but figured that no one would try to steal a 3-year old bottom-of-the-line one.. I was wrong... But frankly, I don't care about the GPS except for the fact that these people now have all of my addresses, including that of my house.

What I care about is that this is the first time that someone has robbed me... and... I find myself unsettled. Freaked out. They smashed my window and broke into my safe little world. That was supposed to be my safe space! That was supposed to be an area they couldn't reach! At least, that's what my lizard brain was thinking. It was so wrong.

For the first time, I find myself concerned about things like security, safety, etc. When I bought my car it "supposedly" had a security system in it. I think I got ripped off by the dealer, as it was not the specific one for my car, I didn't get any instructions or manual with it, and it didn't seem to do anything when "armed." I would have looked further, but I felt like I really didn't care. Now I do...

Mew... Processing this one... slowly but surely.

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Demons and Devils on our back.

The suicide note of Bill Zeller is haunting and frightening.

Not the least of which is because... his words are far too familiar.

So many people in my life, myself included, have experienced abuse and trauma not terribly dissimilar from some of what Zeller went through. Whether its sexual abuse from a predator of children, or emotional abuse from parents obsessed with their oppressive religion, or constant verbal and emotional abuse due to being gay or trans... I know this story far too well...

Of course, all of us walk different paths, and everyone has their own experiences that they go through. Was my pain worse than yours? Were you more abused than I? It just doesn't matter... We each go through our experiences and suffer as we shall... Some of us make it through. Some... don't.

For those of us that survive... sometimes, the results are not pretty. We survive through whatever means are necessary, and sometimes, that means harming one's self perhaps even more than the original abusers... Sometimes, the scars stay with us for years and years and only as adults do we finally begin to piece our lives back together.

Frankly... I'm honestly stunned that I've never had a friend successfully commit suicide... although I've had several that have tried while I've known them, and many more that have tried before I knew them.

I feel for Bill Zeller. His story is one of pain and misery. I feel also for those that are still living with pain and misery like he had. I honestly can't decide who has it worse...

I like something I read on one of the forums discussing this. Paraphrased, it basically said, "Always be kind to others, because they are fighting a great battle within."

From what I can see... it's true... I've yet to meet anyone that isn't fighting demons and devils that plague them, some way or other.

Frozen...

I just watched that movie "Frozen" about a couple of idiots getting trapped on a ski lift some 100 feet in the air, over night. I'd like to point out the... stupidity that lead to their eventual situation:

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Happy New Year

Hey everybody...

WELCOME 2011! The year everything changes.

And on behalf of most of my friends... FUCK YOU 2010, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

I hope 2011 brings EVERYONE I know a wonderful and awesome time.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The purpose of the Appendix

A great little short story that I really loved: Over here

My birthday

I spent my birthday hanging out in York (The original)... Wanna see?

Take a click...

York and Leeds


The captions are pretty cool, too. :)

Enjoy!

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joyce.age++

Depending on whether you count by calendar date, actual birth time, or some other method, I turn 30 today.

Yay and all that.

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Merry Christmas

On this day
of family and food
friends and fun
many of my friends are left alone, afraid, and hurting...

To you
All of you.
All of you wonderful, beautiful, and amazing people with whom I have the pleasure of sharing bits and pieces of my life...

I want to give you this simple message:

You are loved.

You are not alone, despite how you may feel today.

Merry Christmas.

Into the wild blue yonder!

Hey everybody! I'm off to England, that great and wonderful old country full of weird accents and strange foods!

I'm going to be gone until January 5th. If you need to contact me before then, give me a call on my Google Voice number, as I will not be taking my cell phone with me. How do you do that, you ask? Why, just click below!



And if that doesn't work, you can go to this entry and get the number.

I'll also be on Skype, IM, and all the usual channels! See you guys when you I get back!

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Blah and stuff

Introspective rambling. Questions about my inner nature and mental landscape. Possible interpretations of my actions, behavior, and mental state. Inspirational conclusion leading towards self-improvement and growth. List of outstanding questions about myself. Goofy closing.

...


I had a post I was going to write, but I've been so busy lately, that it slipped out of my head. I promise you it would have been quite interesting though! Now if only I can remember what it was going to be! :P

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Aprender Español

I've been thinking for a while that I want to learn Spanish. I took a few years back in high school, but I've used it so little that all I can do is stumble through reading it and construct some really basic sentences.

I've thought of a few ways I can start learning it again, including:
1) Find folks to speak spanish with that don't mind putting up with my terrible grammar and vocabulary.
2) Consume spanish language media
3) Take a class from a local school.
4) Get a book on the topic and do self study.

Anyone got any other suggestions, or hell, any suggestions on how best to do these? Like maybe a good school to go to, a good book to read on the topic, or good media for a beginner to consume?

As for classes, I'll check a few local colleges or whatever, I guess... I haven't looked for colleges to attend since 1998... How do you do this again? :P

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It's the end of the world...

Let's say that the world has ended. Hurricanes, earthquakes, plagues, asteroids, zombies, aliens, rapture, gods, whatever. Somehow or other, nearly all people on the planet have died. There are only about a million left, about the same number that lived when we invented agriculture 10,000 years ago. That means only 1 person out of every 10,000 is still alive, roughly. To give you an idea, that means roughly 1000 people survived in the *entire* San Francisco Bay Area, stretching from Napa to San Jose.

Lucky you. You're one of the survivors.

What do you do?

What would it be like?

What do you imagine would happen to the human race, and what part would you play in that?

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Combo Cards 0.3 released!

Check it out!

It includes multiplayer now!

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Devo Listening Party

Q: Are We Not Men?
A: We Are Devo!

Are you a Devo fan? Interested in learning what they're all about? Come join Joyce and Sonya as we explore the wonder that is Devo!

My friend sonyalynn and I will be hosting a Devo listening party on December 12th, 2010 from 5pm until whenever. It will be at her place. If you don't know the way there already, ask her.

- We'll relisten to old favorites like Jocko Homo, Beautiful World, and Whip It
- Consider the quality of their new songs from Something For Everybody
- Dig deep into historic Devo with the Hardcore Devo albums and their... odd... nature
- Listen to the very first Devo concert *ever*
- Watch incredible music videos from the pioneers of multimedia performances
- Experience the horror that is Devo 2.0
- and in a special treat, we'll dig through old socks, laundromat receipts, photographs, and signed random shit from a box of stuff they sent to Joyce when she was 15.

Oh No! It's DEVO!

Dinner and snacks will be provided, as well as comfy listening chairs.

Please forward this invite to anyone you think might be interested!

Oh, and RSVP so that we know how much dinner to prepare.

Why fixing the world is a bad idea, redux

A few months ago, I posted an entry about why "fixing the world" is a bad idea. I made the argument that the world is too gray, too complex, and there are too many perspectives with which to view things to judge a particular action good or bad. I came to the conclusion that people are working towards the good of themselves and their tribe, and that "altruism towards the needy" is generally a way to prop up the ego, rather than a genuine desire.

A few people suggested that providing food to the homeless and sending food overseas is something that is universally good that causes no harm. I recently came across this article discussing some of the negative effects of so-called "help" from developed nations.

The article is excellent, but the most chilling part of it is this: Some developed nations are purposely creating fake "orphanages" to attract happy-go-lucky "world fixers" to come and pay to "help" the apparently abandoned children. Approximately one quarter of these children are actually not orphans at all, but rather have been kidnapped, purchased, or otherwise placed into these facilities that are deliberately kept squalid to make them more pitiable and attract more wealthy "do-gooders."

Seriously, read the article. Then think twice the next time you want to do some "altruistic good" for someone else. Your fixing of their world may actually be breaking it.

This isn't an admonishment to do no good. It's to stop assuming that you're necessarily doing good just because you really really really believe it from the bottom of your heart. Wishful thinking doesn't make the world better, and acting on wishful thinking is also problematic.

I don't know the right answer. I don't know how to do good for others that won't harm them. All I know how to do is to try my best to make my life and that of my tribe better, and do what I can for that. Start local. Fix yourself before you try to fix the world.

book meme

Meme caught from veedub

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Instructions: Copy this list; bold those books you've read in their entirety. Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read only an excerpt.

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Understanding the Self

Wow.

Found this poem tonight from a few months after I started transition...

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My way of playing board games.

My friend Dan and I play board games the same way, and its refreshing to play against each other. For nearly 10 years, we've been trying to come up with a succinct way of describing the manner in which we play games. This week, we finally figured it out: "I refuse to let you lose to me in an uninteresting way."

Basically, when we play games, we have zero to no interest in seeing who wins. What we're both looking for is an interesting and intellectually stimulating experience.

Thus, we often will openly discuss our strategic considerations with one another, and move take backs are frequent. If one player happens to win the game, it's almost a disappointment for both of us, and if the win wasn't interesting enough, we revert several moves and start again.

When it comes to oppositional contests like board games and other things, this is my preferred way of operating. I'm not trying to best my opponent as a way of proving my superiority to them. I'm trying to do my best to provide an interesting and exciting challenge for my opponent to best. To me, the best sort of contest is one where all opposing sides were equally challenged and delighted. Then we're all winners. If I compete against you and lose, but we both fought hard and struggled well, then I'm going to celebrate your victory as if it were my own.

This is why things like sports and such have always confused me. Why do people invest so much in the act of victory? Why do they only care about the outcome of the contest, not the quality of the challenge? Frankly, I can't stand it when I challenge someone to a contest and find that they are really only hell bent on winning. If I find myself competing with someone in that way, I generally just walk away. I honestly find it nauseating.

I suppose I do have a sense of pride or shame around how well I do in a contest. I feel pride when a contest is roughly even in skill on both sides. I feel shame when I find myself wildly outclassed by my opponent to the point that I was unable to provide an interesting challenge. I feel sad and nervous when I find myself on the other side of that equation, and I wildly outclass *my* opponent.

I can understand that the obsession with winning or losing seems to be related to these senses, but I have hard time grokking it. I just find it hard to conceive of a situation where narrowly beating or losing to my opponent wasn't a victory for us both.

To my 16 year old self

From a journal entry I wrote at 16:
Every time I see two good friends, or two people that show genuine love for one another, a great jealousy pangs my heart, for I wish that I could be in their place and feel what they feel. The only way that I will ever find companionship, in the least, is to just be and exist. But then I will have nothing. I guess I am just prolonging the inevitble, becuase they'll all leave eventually. Every last one of them shall be driven away by my stupidity. And I shall be alone again. Alone to face the terrors of this world. Alone to experience the joys of my life. Alone. Alone. Alone. A face in a picture. A name in a book. Nonexistant. Dead to all, living only to myself. I'll become "That kid in our class," A nameless face of thousands, with not a single person remembering who I am.

WHY CAN'T I BE LOVED? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? NO ONE! NO ONE LOVES ME!


I know that you don't realize it much, yet, but you're really unhappy. It's worse even than what you write about being alone. There's so much going on inside you that you don't understand and don't know what to do with. I don't know how to show you what's inside you, and I don't know how to get you to understand it all. It's a mess, and you're a mess. It's going to take you years to figure out just how much of a mess, and still more years to fix it. It's going to be nearly 12 years before you finally get through it all and start living your life the way you want.

I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. But you don't even know the half of it yet. The worst is yet to come. It's going to suck. It's going to hurt. There are going to be times when you question whether or not you will even ever survive it.

The only promise that I can give you is that there is light at the other end of the tunnel. You will survive what is to come and find all of your dreams waiting on the other side. Even dreams you don't yet realize that you have. Dreams that are buried so deep within you that you don't let yourself see how deeply and constantly you crave them.

You will find freedom, happiness, love, and friendship in ways that you can't even imagine.

But the road to it is going to be hell, and it will scar you for the rest of your life.

Good luck.

Coding in my sleep

Last night, viesti and I spent the evening together, her on her laptop playing Minecraft, I on mine working on Combo cards. Around 1AM, I started running into this really really annoying bug where my cards weren't painting to the screen. For an hour and a half, I dug into this, trying various things to figure out why the paint method wasn't being called.

I actually fell asleep in the middle of writing another debug statement and eventually transferred to my bed to really sleep.

However, that didn't stop me from debugging.

Towards the middle to end of my sleep cycle, I was dreaming about doing that debugging. In fact, I was having a vivid dream where I was fully aware that I was in a dream and was trying to work out several ideas to try when I woke up. It was nice using my "dream debugger" to actually *cause* the code to do whatever it was that I wanted it to do. And coding at the speed of thought is quite nice as well. The bizarre part is that I was fully aware that I was working on "dream hardware" and could not accept any results as real.

When I woke up this morning, I bounced *right* out of bed and immediately got to work trying some of the ideas I had dreamt about. I flew through test scenarios like a mad woman, having already coded them once in my dreams.

Alas, ultimately, I came upon the problem not because of the dream debugging, but rather because when I got stumped again, the answer came to me. I had actually missed a step somewhere and forgot to add cards to the screen.

That's what I get for coding to exhaustion.

But at least I got to experience dream debugging. That was totally awesome.

After fiddling with things a bit, the GUI is now more or less functional and I'll be moving on to making the back end stuff work.

Here's a pic:



This is actually live and not a mockup, so it's coming along!

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Obsessively Minecraft

Two minecraft videos I made.





I love the part in the second one when the zombie kills me. I jump nearly a mile.

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An Unholy Mixture

I decided to make a WTF soup tonight.

Basically, I just threw a bunch of random stuff in. A can of vegetarian vegetable soup. A can of cream of broccoli soup. A can of mixed vegetables. A can of green beans. A can of kidney beans. I threw in all my usual seasonings: Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Rosemary, Bay Leaves, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper, Minced Onion, Garlic Salt, Garlic Powder, Chili Powder, Smoked Paprika, Garam Masala, Dill weed. I also added some vegetable broth.

And then, I threw in about 2 cups of garbanzo bean flour.

The end result was this delicious mushy awesomeness that tasted like seasoned vegetables in gravy.

Oh so good.

NOMNOMNOMNOM

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Upcoming Travel

For anyone that wants to meet up with me for food/coffee or something, here are my upcoming travel plans:

From November 6th until November 14th I'm going to be in Cleveland, OH. I'll be giving a talk to freshmen at my alma mater on Transgender Discrimination. I'm also going to talk to a Software Engineering class about my career and stuff, unrelated to my LGBT status. This is a working "vacation" so my time is going to be limited as I'll need to be getting actual work done for most of the time.

From December 21st until January 5th I'm going to be in the UK visiting auntysarah, zoeimogen, and the_local_echo. I'll probably also make a point to see cyberspice and anyone else up there that wants to grab me and put me up for a few days. This is an honest-to-goodness *vacation* so I'm 100% free up until the 2nd. (I'll have to work remotely the last few days of the trip.)

As long as everything goes according to plan and my impulse spending doesn't fuck me over more than it already has, I'm going to be flying out to Phoenix, Arizona around April 24th next year and will be there for a couple weeks until about May 5th, I expect. I'll be mostly bed laden, but if there are AZ/nearby folks on my f-list that want to hang out briefly, I might be up for a visit. Don't expect much from me, though. :)

Besides that, I don't have anything on the schedule in the next 6 months, although there is talk of a weekend road trip some time in the November.

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Minecraft story

Been playing with the new 1.2.0 release of Minecraft that dropped this weekend. Here's a fictionalized account of my first experiments with the new portal technology in the game.

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Game Development

The interesting thing about our game development group: We're all roughly at the same level when it comes to making games. That is... we have no freaking clue what we're doing. But we're going to learn. Together.

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Minecraft redux

I haven't been putting as much time into the game as some of my friends, but I've been accomplishing a lot with my Minecraft world. As I said before, this is the best damn game I have ever played. Unlike most video games, this one actually has a sense of purpose: It's a tool for creating art. But instead of being *just* a tool, it's a tool that you have to play a game to use. If you want to make art, you're going to need resources. And to get resources, you need to spend time obtaining them. Sometimes, obtaining those resources is dangerous. You dig down deep into caverns that open wide into darkness filled with monsters or lava. You travel far afield seeking wood and sand and have to find shelter by nightfall or face the monsters that come out at night.

It's an adventure. Traveling deep into dungeons. Fighting monsters. Battling mysterious terrain. All for the reward of getting resources to build awesome things.

Speaking of awesome things, here are some of the things I've been building. I've added captions to all the pictures, so click the picture below and read through them. :)

Minecraft pics 2


Incidentally... this game is also making me think about this as a microcosm for life in general...

We start with nothing and slowly amass skills and resources to make things. We slowly learn to counter the obstacles in our lives to gain more things. The goal of our lives? To make beautiful things. Perhaps art. Perhaps families. Perhaps a beautiful experience and stories to share. And at the end, it's all as meaningless as video game data on a hard drive.

Yeah, I love this game. I'm going to keep playing it. :) Let me know what you're doing with it if you start playing, too!

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More thoughts on fear.

I cried out my fears to viesti last night, and it seemed to help.

Thinking more about it today, I think that a lot of my anguish and fear about this whole thing actually comes from the circumstances and experiences around my recent broken ankle.

Two interesting facts about this: Breaking my ankle was the first time in my life that I totally lost consciousness. I've had faint-like things before, but I've never completely lost consciousness that way before. The other interesting fact? This is the first time in my life I've had a major debilitating injury.

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Fear of Death

2 months ago, when I fell and broke my ankle, I lost consciousness. It was probably the second most frightening thing that has ever happened to me. I fell to the ground and felt my ability to think fading away. I couldn't control myself, and my thoughts were becoming sluggish and incoherent. I was fighting it, trying to stay conscious, trying to stay awake, but I was unable to do it. Terrified of this loss of ability to use my own mind, I fell out of the world. I started to dream of a perfect wonderful place filled with light and happiness where I was surrounded by everyone I love. Everything was perfect and wonderful. Then I slipped back into this world. Once again, I struggled to make sense of what was going on around me. I tried looking around, but my vision was blurry and fuzzy, as if I couldn't properly focus. My thoughts continued to be in a jumble. I couldn't remember where I was or what was going on or even properly contemplate my situation. A single thought escaped my terrified mind and I whispered it to whoever was around me, if anyone was around me, "Help me." Then, I fell out of the world again into that happy place.

The next time I came back to this world, I was still frightened and anxious, but I was able to hold onto consciousness. Slowly, my thoughts came back to me, and I could start thinking again. At first, I couldn't figure out where I was or why I was there, but slowly, it came to me. I realized that viesti and dana_grrl were sitting next to me, holding me and keeping me safe. I remember that I was out on a hike. I remembered that I had just fallen and lost consciousness.

Ever since that happened, I've been contemplating it a lot. Again, it was one of the most terrifying experiences in my life, slowly losing my ability to think. Feeling my own mind malfunctioning. Losing control of my own thought processes to the point where I was non-functional. In many ways, the experience resembled some version of what many people describe death like. The entity known as Joyce stopped and I was filled with a sense of well being.

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Minecraft

I've just discovered the greatest video game ever made. It was only released a few months ago in an alpha state, but already I have to rate it as the best damn thing I've ever seen. It's called Minecraft, and its absolutely amazing.

The game is a basic sandbox kind of game. The main focus of the game is gathering materials and building things with them. At night, monsters come out to attack you, so you'd better be safe and secure in a dwelling place, or armed to the teeth to deal with them. And that's really about all there is to the game.

Oh, but the way it is all put together is absolutely incredible. Here, let me tell you the story of my character getting in there and playing.

My StoryCollapse )

If I were to list the cool features of this game, it would be:
1) The entire world is generated procedurally at runtime. This means that the world is effectively infinite. The only hard limits are vertical.
2) There are randomly generated dungeons filled with monsters and treasure, down in the bowels of the earth.
3) The building aspect is like playing with Lego, but the really awesome part of it is that you have to really *earn* your pieces. You can't just create whatever you want. You first have to go and find/make the raw materials.

I recommend you try it out! It's only $15 right now until he's out of alpha, and he's adding new feature constantly!

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The dreamer and the skeptic.

In my last big posting, I discuss how saving the world is a bad idea. I stand by that, but after the discussions I had with folks, it seemed to me that a bit of refinement is in order.

We all have beliefs and values, and we would all be remiss in not trying to encourage others to follow some portion of these values. I believe it is wrong to cause long-term suffering on any being capable of experiencing it. Thus, I advocate for animal rights, vegetarianism, and similar things. I also think working to support local farming is a great idea as a way to help impoverished/migrant farmers. I applaud any effort to improve conditions for the impoverished and hungry of the world. I am an LGBT activist, giving talks and attending marches to further LGBT rights.

Some might describe what I want to do as "saving the world."

So how does that jive with my last post?

Simply put, it's humility.

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Why saving the world is a bad idea.

I have a problem with self-help "cults" that seek to describe themselves as trying to "fix the world" or something like that. Inevitably, their plan towards personal empowerment followed by the vague notion of making the world a better place involves giving the leaders of the cult lots of money for books and workshops on how to do it. Generally these organizations target vulnerable demographics. People that feel lost or outcast. People that are shit on by society. People coming out of a bad relationship. Etc.

Hey, it's a great gig, and if you can pull it off, more power to you. You make people feel better about themselves, make them feel like they're part of something and "doing something IMPORTANT," and you get to make money off of it. It's fantastic.

But I think the basic notion of this sort of thing has some significant problems.Read more...Collapse )

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I am real!

Dream log:

A long time ago, no one knows when but it was probably recent... Something destroyed much of the city and built a vast and complex compound that spanned miles.

I had grown up here. I had lived here all my life. The only light we ever had came from barely working lights that were on in places, and our small flashlights.

I had found a band of individuals that desired to escape from this sadistic maze. As we travelled in search of an exit, we frequently ran into what we can only call zombies. For dealing with them, we all carried various weapons. Shiny metal guns that look like a futuristic ray gun.

I had very little thoughts. I encounter zombies. I shoot. I move to the next area. There was rarely time for feelings or emotion. I was like a cold calculating machine.

At some point, we discovered my childhood home in amongst the city. Somehow, it had gotten transferred here or something. I wandered the basement looking at things from my childhood with a pang in my heart. I had lost so much here. By now, the basement was half empty. It wouldn't be long before it was entirely empty now. I found toys and games from when I was a child, covered in years of filth and debris.

Zombies approached. I shot them. I moved to the next area. There was no time for feelings.

Towards the end of the dream, I arrived at a place that looked quite different from the dingy halls that we had been wandering. It looked to be a sort of lab, and there were a few other people there. It turns out that they actually knew what was going on to some extent. This entire place, they said, was a sort of incubator for machine intelligence. They wanted to see if they could produce sentience by subjecting the artificial life form to extreme situations that induced fear, panic, and emotional pain. They showed me real-time graphs of some of the artificial life forms cognitive states. Approaching a level that had been marked as "sentience," but never quite crossing it. Something about the pattern of one of these graphs looked familiar.

Then, a woman, one of the leaders, said that there was something she wanted to show me. She stepped into the other room, towards a bunch of windowed labs. Then the lights went out. Everyone was silent.

Flashes of the overhead light revealed that several people were approaching. Children. I pointed my gun at them in fear of what they might be. The tension grew. I fired upon them all and the next flash revealed them to be gone.

Then the lights partially came back on.

And standing near the other door was the woman with a person in a wheelchair.

Then it was over.

I'm still travelling. I'm still trying to get out of this place. And I don't care what I saw that day. It doesn't mean anything. I know who I am. I know that I'm real. I expect its just a trick to unnerve me or freak me out or something. Mess with my head.

Thoughts like these never stay in my head for long, though. Zombies approach. I shoot them. I move to the next area. It's what I have to do to survive.

I don't care that the person in the wheelchair was me.

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The Haunted Majora's Mask Game

Over on Creepy + Pasta, there's been this really awesome story that was posted. Here's the link, but I don't like the way they're presenting it on there. It loses some of its awesome to read it that way. So I'm reposting it here in the way that you should read it. It's really a fantastic horror story, and quite worth the read. Be sure to watch the youtube videos with sound on. :)

WARNING: Spoilers in the comments, so don't read the comments until you've read all the text *and* watched the videos.

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Rites of Passage

The man burned down tonight, and another year of Black Rock City is coming to a close. I didn't go this year, but in addition to the fall of the man, next year's theme was announced: Rites of Passage.

It inspired me to write a song/poem thing.

Find the Fae

If you dare to dream, well, you know that's not enough.
You want to see what you've got, well you know you've got the stuff.
It's the will, it's the act, it's the thing you make alive.
If you want your life, then you'll have to take a dive.

Jump with me, leap with me
Come into the boundless sea.
It's the pull of the night
It's the darkness out of sight.

If you leave, if you run, If you travel far away
Then you'll know, then you'll find, that you could not ever stay.

Find the Fae...
Find the Fae...
Find the Fae...
Find the Fae...
Find the Fae...

But the fire and the cold, but the things I need to live
I can't promise anything, I have no fortunes to give
That blood on your hands, do you fear that its not yours?
The pain of your past, the cold chill of now locked doors?

When you leave your life behind,
I don't know what you might find
You might live, you might die,
That's the cost of what you buy.

If you leave, if you run, If you travel far away
Then you'll know, then you'll find, that you might have wished you stayed...

Run Away...
Run Away...
Run Away...
Run Away...
Run Away...

Yet the draw of this dark, you know you feel it too.
Like a drum in your bones, like a witch's deadly brew.
It sings and it screams, it calls out for your free life.
To choose something else is to choose to take the knife

Into the magic that will bind,
You must go and lose your mind,
Don't you know, don't you see,
That's the future that must be.

If you leave, if you run, If you try to run away
Then you'll know, then you'll find, that it had to be this way.

You must stay...
You must stay...
You must stay...
You must stay...
You must stay...

But were you to go you'd never find a place
So beautiful and fine, a home a restful space
You've wanted all your life
To be among the stars
And now you're here at last
You've found out who you are


Jump with me, leap with me
Come into the boundless sea.
It's the pull of the night
It's the darkness out of sight.

If you leave, if you run, If you travel far away
Then you'll know, then you'll find, that you're happier this way

With the Fae...
With the Fae...
With the Fae...
With the Fae...
With the Fae...







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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owwwww.

Oooh boy, I had a crazy night!

I grabbed my girlfriend and her roommate and we went out to Griswold Hills to go see the perseids meteor shower last night! It was fantastic! A natural fireworks show against the backdrop of the vast and awesome milky way galaxy. Utterly and completely amazing and beautiful. It's been a long time since I've seen a sky quite that amazing.

Unfortunately, we had hiked about a quarter mile into the hills,looking for a better vantage point from which to view the stars, when disaster struck!Read more...Collapse )

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Movement

A month ago, at Zion, I discovered that I now possess the ability to run and jump like I never have before.

Then I got sick and injured and have been grounded since then.

As soon as I'm better, I'm going to start pouring some of my energy into running again. I briefly did it as a teen and loved it. I should do more of this.

I want to move. I want to flow. I want to feel that again... that and more.

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We still fight

I watched Milk last night. It's the story of San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected representative in California.

A few things struck me as I watched the film.

First, that this man and the women and men of his era were literally dying and bleeding, fighting very simply for their right to exist. Our modern day struggle for same-sex marriage rights or employment non discrimination really doesn't compare to their struggle. This is simply the tail end of our long struggle to gain acceptance in mainstream society as a normal and valid part of it. We're cleaning up the remaining vestiges of discrimination that continue to exist. They were fighting for their lives.

That's not to say that our modern day struggles are not important. Rather, that the struggles of the past were far more fundamental. It would have been hard to get excited about marriage and employment equality when you could get arrested, beaten, and killed for holding your partner's hand in public or having sex in the privacy of your own home.

Another thing struck me. It was something that Harvey Milk said to Dan White at one point, about how this struggle for civil rights isn't just some issue. It's our lives. He pointed out that three of the four lovers that he had had in his life had attempted or committed suicide.

This... hasn't changed. Sure, there's less oppression in general. But it's most emphatically not gone from our society. We are *STILL* dying. We are still killing ourselves. We are still hiding who we are in fear of a society that threatens us sometimes with no less than death.

I think about my own relationships and friends. The vast majority of them have several mental or emotional problems. Many have attempted suicide at some point in their lives.

I commented, "Being gay is a mental disorder... generator."

We are a group of people literally screaming for nothing more than the right to live our lives. I don't know how, amidst all this pain, suffering, and death, there could be even one person that could stand against us. How could any human being with even a shred of empathy hear our story of love and pain and do anything but love us? I don't understand it. I don't understand how anti-gay bigots can sleep at night. I don't know how they can possibly justify their actions.

And then I remember the fact that my own sister, ex-spouse, ex-mother-in-law, step-grand-mother, step-father, aunt, and others stood in my way to prevent me from gaining access to my own mother's funeral until all of the "normal people" were gone and I was given my own private half-hour with her.

They rationalize and justify their actions through whatever means they can possibly dream up. We queers are sick. Messed up in the head. Confused. It's not about the gay, it's about how our behavior has changed. They dream up a thousand excuses and rationalizations and sleep content in the knowledge that their God will reward them well for holding true to their convictions.

Watching movies like Milk, reading the reaction of the conservative right to the prop 8 decision, and remembering the actions of my own biological "family", I find myself disgusted with the state of humanity. I find myself filled with anger and rage at the vile and contemptuous evil that lies in the shriveled hearts of these people. I want to scream at them. Exact violence upon them. Show them just how much they have hurt me and all others like me. Make them understand it by whatever means necessary.

Unfortunately, anger alone will never fix this problem. You can't defeat hatred with more hatred. And thus we need both anger and diplomacy in the struggle to gain our right to exist as valid human beings.

This is as much about demonstrating our power to the world as it is teaching them gently that we are human beings just like them.

The sad truth is that we must continually go out and educate the masses even while they bash our faces in.

Harvey Milk and the activists of his day won us rights that today I simply take for granted. That I can be publicly and openly in a same-sex relationship is something that barely registers to me most days. That I don't have to fear police bashing down my door in the middle of the night to arrest me for "unnatural sex acts" is something I don't even consider.

But then... when I hear about things like prop 8 and what not... there's still something inside me that feels very... WRONG at the idea that anyone could possibly ever have a *vote* on whether or not I am a valid and worthwhile human being. I really liked the way Judge Walker put it in his decision: "fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.”"

Amen. Hopefully this continues to be true.

Wow Raid and capability

Turn away if discussions of World of Warcraft make you ill. :)

Last night, I was playing Wow with my girlfriends, when parmonster told me that she had gotten into a 40-person raid on the horde cities. She got viesti and I into the raid, and off we went.

The thing was terribly managed. In the first raid, several people got left behind because the rest of the raid was too impatient to wait for them or help them if they got caught. The second one went a lot better, but a quarter of the group almost got left behind. That was the Silvermoon City and Undercity capitols.

Now things got really bad. A bunch of people got separated on the way to our next target, Ogrimmar, and people started acting like jack-asses on the chat, shouting things at one another, putting out incorrect information, etc. Half the group was still gathering when the other half went in and made the attack. By the time we had everyone else together, the city leader Thrall was down, and everyone was getting out.

Things were severely shaky. People were saying that the raid couldn't succeed and that we were going to fail to attack the final city of Thunderbluff. We had already lost a quarter of the raid group. Everyone was acting like asses, so there was no way we could get things working for the attack.

That's where my girlfriends and I came in. parmonster had already taken the initiative by finding a way to summon viesti so that we could summon the rest of the group. I took control of the raid and started telling everyone what was happening, where we should rendezvous, etc. The three of us got into position on the north side of the city and viesti began summoning people. I kept the rest of the raid informed, kept telling people that we would we attacking shortly, etc. I also was doing moral management, reassuring folks that we were going to succeed in our attack. I lied and said that I had succeeded with a group of this size in the past and that we were going to do just fine.

Somehow, by yelling into the chaotic din of immature nonsense, I managed to get the raid to pay attention to me and to believe in my words. The rest of the raid stopped acting like asses and got focused. People stopped saying that we weren't going to succeed and started finding ways to help us succeed. They stopped abandoning the group and started actively recruiting for more players to join us. They stopped yelling middle school obscenities and stuff.

When we finally made the attack, we all stayed at the rendezvous point until I specifically shouted "ATTACK!" No one was left behind this time. We didn't abandon half the group like we did last time.
And we executed the plan flawlessly. We were in and out more smoothly than any other capital so far.

It continues to tie into my sense of incapability. I'm always feeling like I'm not good enough and that I'm not capable of anything of value. And yet, when I actually try to do something, I almost always succeed at it. It was personally rewarding to watch as I got 40 people that were on the verge of complete failure rise to success.

To see them all actually *wait* for me to yell "ATTACK" before doing anything was incredible, and to see them ride off into battle at my command was amazing. You have to understand that it was not the fact that they were listening to me but rather the fact that they *weren't* listening to anyone else for the other 3 attacks we had done previously. This was a terrible group that was on the verge of self-destruction, with poor leadership and a poor moral, and I managed to turn it around with the help of viesti and parmonster.

It was a really nice boost for my self-esteem and sense of capability. :)

The old sea dog

This is a story from a dream I had last night

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If you want to hear more of this story, poke me about it so that I can finish it. It's a four chapter short story based on a dream I had last night.

A reflection on "Dancing"



This is my reflection on "Dancing"

What is our world lacking?
Joy and Connection.
If for one moment, we can come together
Throw our cares away
Become like children, and just be free.
Free to be ourselves
Free to move
And free to dance

Distance drops away
Borders and barriers drop away
And for one brief moment
We're just kids.
playing in the rain together

Maybe that's something.
Maybe that, alone, is enough to remind us that we're part of a larger world.
That we are part of an entire planet of people, animals, plants
Vistas and view that are unimaginable.

This is our world
This is our planet
And we are here together.

Maybe that's a pretty cool concept.

Waiting

My eyes search the sky, watching the winged creature circle overhead.
The silver light of the crescent moon provides all the light I need on this cold and windy night.
I clutch my mud-stained cloak to my body, clinging for warmth.
Without taking my eyes off the creature, I take another morsel of food from my pack and eat.

I am waiting
Watching
Wondering if this is the moment when the winged one will come near
Close enough for me to leap out and grasp it

I'm waiting...

for now...

But when he comes close, oh, but there will be a great scuffle.

Flesh and feathers, claws and fist
We will writhe before the stars,
wheeling about the night sky like a tempest made of body and bone.

He will try to throw me to the rocks, punish me for my insolence.
I will just clutch harder.

He will dart through tight corridors, daring me to hang on.
And hang on I will.

He will dangle me higher than I have ever dreamed of being, forcing me to face fears I could not have even dreamt of before.
I will not waver. I will hold firm.

In time, he will see that my motives are pure
My heart strong
My will indomitable
And my strength unparalleled.

I will earn his respect.

He will look me in the eye
look deep into my soul
And I will know that we are one.

Soaring above the plains,
diving for our prey
We shall move and fight and kill as one.
Our union shall be the terror of our enemies
A force that none can withstand!

But for now...

My eyes are locked to the creature
Watching...
Waiting...
Hoping for him to pass my way.

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Ouch

Hmmm...

I've mentioned that I have trouble with this whole body thing, right?

Well, this weekend I decided to go do some climbing/rappelling up at Castle Rock with some friends of mine.

While still getting over a cold and dealing with my broken toe (which is healing nicely, but still painful a bit.)

And while I was out there, I managed to get sunburned, get seriously dehydrated, and start to suffer from heat exhaustion.

I tried climbing a measly 5.4 route and couldn't make it up past 10 feet. My body simply gave out on me. Even the hike back from the rock was grueling for me. I could barely breathe. My head was swimming, and I felt nauseous and dizzy like whoah. I could barely even drive us home, I was so out of it.

Once I got back to my friend's house and drank some gatorade, I perked right back up.

However, I'm wondering if, perhaps, I might be overdoing it a bit. I really don't have a good sense of what my limits are with regards to how I should behave while sick. Should I avoid climbing until my toe is more healed and my cold is more gone? (It came back today with a bit of a vengeance and congestion.) What about bicycling? Hiking? How active can I be given my condition? How do I tell what's too much and what isn't?

This development is troubling. I'm realizing that I probably should avoid climbing on Wednesday and any other strenuous activity for the next few days.

Any advice you might have would also be helpful! :)

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