Categories
stories

A Rabbit Hole

The day tasted purple when I woke up this morning, so I wasn’t at all surprised to discover I was three feet too tall when I got up. I ducked through the door to make my tea, and after a cup and a difficult shower was back to normal height before I left the house. It seemed the morning for it, half the bus was three quarters the size, and the bus itself was a single decker by the time it wended its way to Wheatley. Wheatley was wet, winding weird, whirling winds warped water wrapped ways, withdrawing, waning, wasted. I got out into a tracked field of maize, a tall and twisted labyrinth, a field of maze. At the centre was a minotaur reading part of a poem:

The queen she said “I’ll have that bull”
and called an engineer.
The engineer arrived and said
“I have this cow suit here”

The copulation went as planned
The queen counted success
and wither engineer and king
is anybody’s guess.

The minotaur accepted string, and gave me a way out. I passed through corn by direct route, a nearby roundabout. I caught a bus returning home, as I had intended, but realised only nearly there the poem hadn’t ended.

To travel in a poem is never recommended, Odysseus will relay at length how his trip was extended. Already I was on the bus, I couldn’t get off soon, and with the weather earlier was at risk of typhoon. I thought up some classical tricks for poems to unhinge, liking breaking the meter entirely for no good reason, or ending rhymes with orange.

Success! And not a moment too soon. The bus pulled up to my stop, and I got out. It wasn’t my most successful day ever, but sometimes getting home was enough.

It’s Lewis Carroll’s birthday today.

Categories
Computer Games Gaming Personal Piracy Inc RPG Shebang WRPL

Week Ten – Once Is Chance, Twice is Coincidence, Third Time Is A Pattern

Work

First weeks at work are generally a bit chaotic, new accounts, new processes, new people. This combined with a few other complexities (We had a Virgin Engineer around to fix the fact that every so often my ping times hit 20 seconds or so, a side effect of a fix of an issue a few months ago, when some gas engineers took a back-hoe to the fibreoptics) made the week slightly less relaxing than ideal.

Going to a new place is often a point of comparison, and it’s possibly worth writing up some of the practices and theories of operation of doing AWS stuff at enterprise-grade that I didn’t have the mental energy to get permission to write about before I left. All theory, anyway, since I can’t refer it back…

Play

This week we won a RL battle of getting all the people lined up to play the third session (And first with everybody there) of Doug’s Trail of Cthulhu game, the Charybdis Protocol. I’ve got an IC writeup of the second session (my first. Scheduling is hard), and I’m working through the writeup of the second (Slightly harder. I’m attempting to walk the line between “useful session notes” and “one-sided account” in a session where I kind of lit a jerry-can of explosives on fire and threw it at the rest of the character party) (In my defense, shit got weird). Those will appear on my IC Diary site – The Hero Diaries – assuming the rest of the PCs don’t mind, and I’ve got their character names right.

Video-Game-wise, I’ve mostly been playing Warcraft, as I’ve been attempting to get my Monk to the end of the levelling campaign. Right now I’ve hit one of my least favourite bit of WoW end-game mechanics, the “Do tiny repetitive missions that reward junk and reputation to get through the reputation gateway” bit. Happily, I’ve managed to get my gear up to the level where I can do pick-up Heroics, so I’m balancing that with knocking out low-level achievements (Explore these zones, Poke this NPC, Poke that interactive object) while watching Twitch channels.

Twitch is my current background noise. Annoyingly I can’t get my old username back – I had a Justin.TV account before they were Twitch – but I did just realise that I could do the same thing as I did for this, so my new Twitch channel is Twitch.TV/Aquarionics. My first experiments in streaming had some mic-quality problems, but it is something I intend to experiment more with.

This may be combined with the fact that SWTOR is picking up speed in my local community again, so might end up doing more of that, and the idea of live-streaming a character path appeals. We’ll see.

Rest

I’ve had no beer explode this week, which can only be a plus. Brain-gremlins are down, sociality is up. I never really realise how badly stressful environments screw up my headspace until I’m out of them.

The lack of Odyssey meetings and discussions is kicking in to my calendar, and I’m kind of itching to run something game-like. This, coupled with Torment coming out and a block of Cipher-system/Numenera setting content that I backed with Kickstarter years ago turning up all at once is making that look like a short-run Numenera campaign. Tempting.

However, existing projects exist. I tidied up a bit of The Book, and it’s looking a lot better than I thought when I gave up on it. I almost don’t feel the urge to ditch it all (again) and rebuild. What I probably need to do is go over the first few chapters, redraw the arcs, and get a second opinion on whether the style actually tells the story. And then: Pirates.

Categories
Aquarionics Current Affairs Personal Projects stories

Week Zero, or possibly Week 52

I fell out of the habit of writing in 2016. Well, kind of. My Facebook output skyrocketed, and the number of things that went on outputs I actually own fell a lot.

I’ve got a lot of things in the Draft folder. Some have been sidelined because they still feel a bit incendiary, some because the time they were relevant passed, and some just stupid. I spent a lot of the summer working on an idea for a new project, which then failed so hard it left no impact in the wall at all, so there’s a post-mortem on that. But that’s just depressing to write, and without any conclusions to draw it just seems like a stick to beat me with.

A Ballot form with the options "bad choice" "worse choice"2016 hasn’t been a great year in the global space, and my personal 2016 has been significantly mixed. Feeling like I’m stagnating professionally and personally has been an anchor on an already less great year, and while I’ve been getting more social and made a number of new friends who have massively improved my life, I’ve failed to leave Oxford for nearly anything that wasn’t larp or funeral related in a year. Mostly, this is due to a commute that’s eating my days, which means my value of decompression time at home heightens, reducing my desire to go anywhere or do anything.

Having said that, LARP has successfully got me out of the house more than any other thing this year. We successfully landed Odyssey with two of our best-run events ever – I’ll accept some credit for that, but the entire team was without peer; I did two new games purely as a player – Slayers and Tales out of Anchor – as well as successfully starting a purely PC Empire character, who I’m enjoying playing a lot.

The end of Odyssey. Photo by Charlotte Moss – http://charlottemoss.co.uk

The end of Odyssey gives me some free mental space for a couple of other LARP things, and mostly I’ll be focusing on Trajectory, I’m intending on publishing some Theory of Operation type stuff here as it coalesces in mine and ccooke’s heads.

At the end of 2015, I screwed up my major projects. PiracyInc got backed into a corner where I need to sit down and rearchitect the whole thing, and the Novel – Hereinafter Stark Mockery – hit a brick wall where I realised a number of the underlying genre tropes had gone toxic. I’ve started salvaging the book, and will attempt to do so with the game, but I need to put my free time in order.

And then there’s this. AqCom’s been coasting on without major revision for years now, and I want to fix that. So I’m going to try to go back to the Week N series that kept me doing things through 2015, or at least feeling guilty for not doing them. A few times this year I’ve referred back to entries I made years ago to see when something happened, and not having that facility in the future will irritate me, so we shall give it a try.

All of which lays out my plans for 2017:

  • Reclaim my days
  • Repair my projects
  • Write more fiction
  • Write more LARP
  • Write more this
  • Travel to new places, meet interesting people, don’t kill them

Next plan: Go to NYE party. Celebrate. Then prepare for 2017 with a red rag and a baseball bat.

Categories
cevearn comics linux Python Shebang tv

Week Nine – it’s better than bad, it’s good

Quiet work week, so we’ll skip that. Decided that I’d had enough of print statements, and moved both Lifestream and Lampstand over to use Python logging instead for everything outputty. Lampstand also needs a pass to separate output into levels, right now everything’s at INFO.

Positive feedback on some creative writing I did recently – on tumblr, and in scraps elsewhere – has led me to want to carve out time to get the novel moving forward again. I need to suppress the urge to kill it with fire and start from scratch, but right now it’s plodding a bit.

Somewhere between Rest and Play lies Odyssey work this week. A good Story Team meeting at the weekend has set some flags out for the year, and indeed next, and then I spent a few hours putting together the Odyssey T-Shirt shop, to supplement our costume & props budget with mercenary goodness.

Somewhere over the last week I’ve also carved out 13 hours to watch the full first series of Daredevil on Netflix, which I enjoyed a lot, and should turn into another entry shortly…

Categories
Projects stories

Claret everywhere

I have just dropped a wine glass on my toe.

Claret everywhere.

(By which I mean “ow, my toe is bleeding” and “Bother. I’ve spilt port and elderflower liquor all over the floor”. Which I know isn’t claret, but still).

This weekend I am doing nothing.

Well, I’m playing Dragon Age, Team Fortress 2, Bioshock 2 and City of Heroes. I’ve watched Lock, Stock & Two smoking barrels; Snatch and Rocknrolla; I’ve reduced the washing up pile to zero; Thrown the various fragments of The Book’s git repository around a bit so they stick to each other a bit better (and done some Actual Planning, if no Actual Writing); Got my dev environment for PiracyInc.com back up and runing (complicated somewhat by the fact that the front page currently segfaults PHP); Done a bit more work on Omnyom.com (What it is, what it looks like, how it works); and now updated this with… well, this.

So, a quiet weekend.

Categories
stories

Delighted

This morning, I was entirely weirded out when the lights in the hallway of our block of flats appeared to follow me.

The light outside the front door was on, and as I walked towards the lift they switched on and off in sequence, a controlled pool of light that followed my every move.

The lights in the lift weren’t working properly either, and only the one near the door has ever worked properly, so I wasn’t that suspicious until I got to the lobby of the building, and once again was followed out by this flowing pool of illumination, silence save for the “click” as the light behind me switched off, and the light ahead of me switched on.

Outside was darkness, strange despite the bleak midwinter cold for my phone claimed 8am, and I double checked my possessions – Glasses, Phone, Keys, Wallet – as I buzzed myself out of the building.

I was distinctly unprepared for the spotlight.

The darkness above me was absolute; none of sun, moon or stars to indicate the presence of the sky, a few street lamps bathing the world around them a distinctly sodium orange glow; but around me and cast very obviously from above me was an oval of white light that pointed in front of me. As I stepped forward it followed me exactly, and I looked up to see what cast it.

There was nothing there at all. No bright point of light to blind me, just a deep velvet darkness that swallowed the universe, and no visible source for the spotlight that followed my every move. I stepped backwards, forwards, ran sideways, dodged left and right. It followed exactly. I lay down on the path and it grew larger to encompass me, I walked under a bus shelter and it vanished; only to reappear as I passed the shelter by.

The streets were empty, although I could see the spotlights of others far ahead of me. The occasional car passed in the darkness. I walked on.

* * *

A few other people were in the office working, though almost anyone who had seen the news had taken its advice and stayed home. We sat, glued to our chosen information channels. The darkness, apparently, was absolute. Nobody knew where the spotlights were coming from, who controlled them, or why. Reports from confused satellites reported the absence of stars, although whether that was due to their absence or a dust cloud or something nobody seemed quite sure.

The sun still appeared to exist, international temperatures were as normal, plants would grow. Animals across the planet – all in their own tiny spotlights, none as bright as those I had seen – were panicking. The spotlights themselves appeared to indicate something, some peoples’ being dimmer or brighter according to no known measure. The advice was to keep calm and wait for the smart people to work out what was going on.

Nobody ever did, and so we sit in the darkness so many months later, watching out over the field behind our flat, the occasional light flitting across the field as a rabbit runs for its life, the light suddenly going out as it escapes down the rabbit hole.

Categories
Fiction stories

Fiction – Beeps

(This would be the opening of chapter two, had the main character not had second thoughts about who he was and become the protagonist of a completely different book instead. Since I have nothing better to post today, you get this. Sorry about that. I like it mostly because it contains the phrase “Some bastard had installed the sun in my living room” (Note: This text contains an amount of commas that would cause grown editors to wince. I know. Sorry.))

2 – Beep.

Fast forward a couple of hours.

This room is a more expensive version of the previous one. That is, the ceilings are lower, but the flats are purpose built and people have their own mailboxes. It is furnished stylishly, yet effectively. A bookshelf dominates one wall, a bed another, and there’s a desk and doors to the kitchen and other handy places. Every single surface is stacked with clothes, books, DVDs and/or tea cups. You may call it chaos, or entropy, or just a mess. I call it Home, because I sleep here. Temporarily.

I have, in fact, quit my job. Exceptionally so, in fact. I am more quitted from that job than any man has a right to be.

You may consider that printing my resignation letter on enough A3 sheets to wallpaper my bosses office is overkill, but I would counter with the fact that it leaves nothing left to describe the action of neatly papering not only his desk, but also all its contents individually in further copies of my notice.

I gave him a full twenty seconds to appreciate this yesterday morning before a postman – my brother, as a matter of fact – asked him to sign for a special delivery version of the self same letter. This didn’t go down well, as you may imagine, and I spent the rest of the day wavering between drunk and sober as different people came to congratulate me. And now, terribly hungover, I was being woken up at some gods unfair time of the morning by beeping.

In this digital world, it is occasionally difficult to identify precise sources of beepery. It could be a lorry reversing somewhere outside, or a bread machine, possibly an expiring smoke alarm battery. My computer, for example, beeps when it gets mail about other computers being unhappy, this being a major part of my job. It is difficult to precisely determine the differing frequencies of these with your head under a duvet, so I carefully let down this barrier between myself and the outside world.

Some bastard had installed the sun in my living room.

Careful reconsideration a little while later brought me to the realisation that it was not, in fact, the sun. Or rather, it was merely the rays of the sun coming from its usual position somewhere a way away. Adjusting my eyes to daylight took a little while, as did finding my glasses, but I eventually got up and into the process of making tea in preparation for my first day of jobhunting. Kettle, Tap, Beeps, Water, Boil, Beeps, Mug, Teabag, Water, Wait, Beeps. Hmm. Beeps.

It wasn’t the bread maker, or lorries reversing. The smoke alarm was silent, and the computer didn’t need to tell me about things I was no longer being paid for. What the hell was that beeping noise?

In the corner, plugged into the wall as it had been for almost two years now, was the mobile phone I’d bought a week before starting the job I’d just left, who had given me a work issued phone which I had been using pretty exclusively ever since. I recognised the phones insistent “You have missed calls” beep at almost exactly the same time I remembered the one person who had its number. My dive for the phone would have been more impressive had I not tripped on a box and stabbed myself with a coffee table on the way.

Categories
2008 Current Affairs Imported From Epistula Poems Politics

Remember

In World War One

  • Forty two million people were mobilised for the Allies
  • There were twenty two million casualties on the Allied side.
  • There are less than ten people alive left who fought.

    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    In World War Two

  • Over 10% of the 1939 population of Germany were killed. 16% of Poland.
  • The soviet union suffered 10,700,000 military deaths.
  • The UK lost 382,600.
  • One of these was John Brunt

    The point of Remembrance day is not war. It’s not really peace, either, and anyone using it to push any political agenda is doing the Service a disservice. It’s the unspoken social contract between those who go to fight the powers that would attack our country and those who survive: That if you go and fight, and do not return, we will remember them.

    You may disagree with the current war, where the direct threat to our lands is diffuse and not really counterable – and possibly enhanced – by direct action in the lands of others, but this war is not all wars, and these reasons are not all reasons, and those that die of these decisions did not make them.

    And so we remember them.

Categories
aqcom Imported From Epistula stories

Evolutionary

Minor design evolution on Aqcom, not that – in the age of RSS readers and Livejournal – anyone ever visits actual websites anymore, but we try to spruce up the place for the occasional search engine visitor. New banner for a couple of weeks – advertising Bioshock, massive surprise – and replaced the “what do you mean, I can click them?” picture navigation down the right with something a little more logical. Still working on how I’m going to integrate twitter onto the main page, I might follow Mr Keith’s lifestream idea by aggregating the content from Stalker.istic (Which I should integrate Facebook into at some point).

One of the things in the new sidebar is a link to my new fiction thing, which went into the world on Sunday. Stuff happens on it weekly, or should do at any rate. I might move the day of the week, because it appears that if you do anything on Sunday it gets lost in the TL;DR effect of getting up to date on a Monday morning.

Categories
Imported From Epistula stories

The Starbucks Coffee Tastes Like Crotch Thing

One of the great questions of the universe is answered by Eric Burns