Monday, October 23rd, 2017 11:26 pm
Both the Spitfire and my Subaru have leaking tires, the Spitfire because the wheels themselves are rusted enough that air leaks through the seams where the wheel halves were joined, and the Subaru because I ran over a very tough wire. This means every other week I need to fire up the air compressor and pump up three wheels. At some point I'll get some tire sealant and put it in the Spitfire's wheels and fix that problem. Likewise at some point I'll get new tires on the Soob since they're about worn out.
Today is not that point, and apparently that point has also not been at any time in the last two months. Sheesh.
I still haven't even managed to get time to replace the front brake disc on the Subaru, that's badly and unevenly worn because the caliper won't center correctly anymore. That's going to be a disaster at some point.
This is why I needed a week off.
Monday, October 23rd, 2017 09:04 pm
Last week my manager said "hey you should take some time off, like next week, or the week after."
About an hour later my favorite coworker came in and said "we have a horrible project and it's going horribly and can you help?" So I have until I don't know when, stuck sitting in front of a temperature-controlled chamber, running massive quantities of boards through.
I did manage to figure out a way to get my test system to run boards in parallel. In all the time I've been working at this job, our system test equipment ran one board at a time, but I recently wrote some fancy stuff that allows me to run as many boards as the measurement equipment I can scrounge up can accommodate. (I have not yet managed to get them to run in true parallel, because I'm still learning how to write re-entrant code. Maybe tomorrow. But at least I can get different hardware systems to measure in parallel, meaning if I'm careful, I can interleave them and get N units tested in T* (N/(N*1.2)) time rather than T*N time.)
The problem is that I get a datalog that has a complete mishmash of data in it: a temperature reading, then a huge swath of readings that are identified in one column by the instrument name that took the measurement, and in the next column by the actual measurement.
What I need to do is convert that to a column of temperatures, and then N columns of measurements, one for each measurement from each board being tested. Writing a sorting array for that took a lot of today and it's still not totally functional: it relies very heavily on all measurements being basically valid. (If a measurement is skipped for some reason, as in the instrument returns no value, it substitutes the next valid measurement, from the next round of tests, shifting everything in that column upwards and putting data where it shouldn't be.)
I was doing this in my office, into which everyone was pouring to talk about their weekends and the trails they rode and the stuff they made, while I'm trying to figure out how to make arrays of pointers that determine the stack depth in each column. Finally I went back and hid behind the temperature chamber, where it is too loud and hot for anyone else to even try a conversation, and got my first attempt at a sorting program working. While I was doing that, I noticed I'd made a stupid mistake in the program taking data, reusing a variable without assigning new values to it, so all my measurements were the same. Great consistency. I had to restart the program from the beginning, for its three hour run ("a three hour run, a THREE HOUR RUN", and I was playing the part of Gilligan for most of it.)
At least I think this will only take me three days rather than a week and a half because of parallel operation.
Monday, October 23rd, 2017 09:54 am

Surprise! Guess what has a Chapter 2. And a Chapter 3, already a complete first draft. I did not know about any of this until the most words I have ever written in a single day (I think) came pouring out of my brain yesterday.

[AO3 link]


[Two months later. Watchpoint Gibraltar.]

With a tooth-shatteringly loud screech, the outer wall of the medical bay peeled away and fell towards the ocean, just as Dr. Ziegler's nurse assistants finished prepping the Widowmaker's first treatment.

"Sorry, luv," Tracer shouted, appearing in the void, one pistol aimed straight at the doctor, as the ringing, clanging metal fell, its sounds fading in the distance. "Can't let y'do that. We made a promise. Back off."

"Lena," said Angela, half-deafened, clinging to her composure, thinking, this shouldn't be happening, but backing away carefully towards her staff. "You lost this argument. I know how you feel about what's going on, but it's better than a death sentence. Do not do this."

"Can't not. I keep my promises, you know that." She fired a shot over the doctor's shoulder. "And stop moving towards your staff. Can't have that, either. What's she on?"

"A twilight sleep sedative, voluntary muscle paralysis, and saline I.V., that's all. We wanted her partially responsive and were about to administer the first dose of treatment. Lena, you do not know what you're doing, this is not a..."

"Stow it. I know she didn't consent and I know this ain't right." Tracer glanced at the closer nurse assistant. "Pull her off the drip. Right now." The assistant looked nervously at Dr. Ziegler, and Tracer decided to make it less optional by shooting the saline unit with her other pistol. "I said now, luv," and the nurse moved to work.

"She can't consent," said the combat medic. "She will murder you in your sleep, and that's if you are very, very lucky."

Kestrel swooped in, a wary eye still attentive to the skies outside. "What's the hold up? We don't have time for chats."

"I have this under control, can you get her up off the table?"

Kestrel waved her gravity blade at the nurse assistant - Odion, she thought - who moved away quite rapidly. Stepping forward, she snapped her fingers in front of Widowmaker's half-closed eyes, and saw those eyes track her fingers, just a little - somebody was in there. "Widowmaker, I'm Kestrel, I sure hope you remember me, we're getting you out of here, just like we said we would, back in London." She pulled the blue woman off the scanning bed, and onto her back. "Let's go, while we still can."

"Emily," warned the doctor, as the flying agent carried the Talon assassin towards the light transport hovering outside, "reconsider. You can't come back from this."

The flying agent paused at the gap, and nodded grimly in return, watching as Tracer backed slowly towards her, one pistol still aimed at the doctor, the other at the two assistants. "Neither can you."

Buggery hell, this isn't how I wanted this to go, thought Lena. "Sorry, doc. Just how it has to be, I guess."

The flyer's loading door closed in front of her as she stepped onto the main deck. She could see Angela diving for the alarms before it sealed, and teleported to the pilot's seat as Kestrel got Widowmaker into the crash couch. "CLEAR!" the flying agent shouted, bracing herself for evac - and Tracer lit the engines up bright.

-----

Widowmaker opened her eyes, but not too much, examining the ceiling. Another Overwatch transport, she thought. Not the same one back from Egypt. Smaller. I am no longer at Gibraltar. How long have I been unconscious? Other than a deep legsrthy, she did not feel different - but then, how would she know? She compared her thoughts, and how they felt, to memories of previous thoughts, and how they felt, and they seemed very much the same, very much unlike Amélie's, her only other reference. It would have to do, for now.

She struggled with half-aware half-memories of being in a... medical unit? And being prepped for something. And voices, some unfamiliar, some... not.

"We've lost the last of 'em," she heard Tracer say. Tracer, who had not been in Egypt, who had not been at Gibraltar... or had she been, at the end? "I'm gonna keep us in the soup, but it should be smooth enough 'till we change ships at Iwik."

Change ships? Iwik? Why would they need to...

"I'm going to check on Widowmaker." Another voice, the flying one, Kestrel, who had also been missing when she'd been taken, taken again, this time, by Overwatch, no doubt to be remade yet again, if not just killed, but whose voice she knew...

"Widowmaker, can you hear me?" The assassin heard the voice, but could not see its source - keeping some distance, perhaps. She let herself smirk, internally. Even sedated, she invoked fear. Good. "You're safe, and you're unchanged. We kept our promise. We broke you out before Ziegler could do anything. You're safe."

What?! The assassin's eyes popped open, all the way open, all at once acutely aware of her situation, before her mind snapped back to promises made some months ago in London, promises she did not want to believe, but couldn't quite not. Then Kestrel's face appeared over her, and she was talking, saying, "Hi. We've kept our word. Do you remember being captured in Egypt? We got you out of the Watchpoint. You're safe. Well, as safe as any of us are, now - we're all in real trouble, but since when's that new?"

The words confused her, memory of promises or not. Is it a... no, it makes no sense, this cannot be a trap, they already have me, why would they... She did her best to move, but her arms, so heavy, why...

"Oh," Kestrel breathed, "you're definitely awake now, aren't you? Probably a little panicky, too. I'm sorry, it's the muscle relaxant. They had you pretty well sedated before we reached you, but that's all, as far as we know - they were still prepping the first course of reconditioning meds when I ripped the medbay's walls open."

Widowmaker's eyes locked on Kestrel's, and she shivered, an involuntary action, and the flying agent saw it, and reached to touch, to comfort - but thought better of it. "I... wish I knew whether you found touch comforting."

I wish I did too, thought the spider, a little dismayed by her own reactions as they span round and round in her head. You... kept... your... you... kept your... you kept your... you...

"We've just got away from pursuit craft, and we're heading towards a little nature reserve in Mauritania, where we'll be swapping ships."

"...ah..." Widowmaker managed, and she remained locked on Kestrel, Kestrel, who she barely knew, Kestrel, who'd kept her word, Kestrel, who had... saved... her...

"You're tearing up a bit, can you blink for... oh, good, there y'go. Can you follow my fingers with your eyes?" Widowmaker looked at the Kestrel's fingertips and watched them trace a rectangle, slowly, around her field of vision. They were strong hands, solid, a little square, chunky, much like the rest of the hawk. Strong, and unexpectedly beautiful. Well, I suppose I know who is more butch in their arrangement, she thought, and a "heh" popped out, to as much her surprise as Kestrel's.

"She just laugh?" she heard Tracer say from outside her field of vision. "Hey, luv, you just laugh a little?"

"I think she did, yeah."

"Well, tell her after this, we're headed towards... oh, bugger..."

"What?"

"It's official. Bulletin just went out. We're listed."

"Surprised it took this long. Can they shut down the transport?"

"Nah, I changed the codes and blew the interlock, we'll be fine."

Widowmaker grimaced. Intentionally. And it worked. She tried moving her mouth, and managed, focus back on Kestrel's face, "...liffsted?"

Kestrel sighed, and sat, next to Widow's bunk, leaning close. "Word's gone out. Our personal IFF codes have been invalidated. Overwatch may be illegal, but we had a few privileges within it to revoke... we're now 'foe', not 'friend'."

"Ah." said the blue assassin. Slowly, carefully, she looked into Kestrel's eyes, and whispered, "Je... regrette."

"Don't," replied the hawk. "If Overwatch is gonna start doing things like this, I can't be a part of it anymore anyway."

"And just so y'know," called Tracer, "Talon put a termination order out on your head once Overwatch got y'to Gibraltar. No goin' back there, either."

"...how?"

"Friend of yours let us know. We'll be seein' her in a bit."

"...big mouth...?"

Tracer laughed. "Yeah, she said you called her that."

The spider tested her arms. A little movement at the shoulder, not much yet. But fingers - yes, those, those were free. She tapped at the bed, experimentally, and saw Kestrel smile when she noticed, bright like cloudbreak. "It is, then..." managed the spider, "...us, against the world?" She tried her wrists. Yes. Wrists. More quickly, now. Almost to the elbow.

Us, Kestrel thought. Already? "Sounds like."

A louder heh, and the spider found she could move her head. "Then... a challenge. Good." She gave Kestrel a fierce look; it excited the flying agent in ways she did not expect, as did the spider unexpectedly - if weakly - taking her hand in her own. "We will destroy them both, cherie," the assassin said, with utter conviction. "We cannot lose."

-----

"As far as she knew," said the Swiss doctor, some hours later, "it was just sedation." Power had not yet been restored to the medbay, but the wall had, at least, been braced and covered, and structural stability insured. She sat at a small table in medbay's small consultation room.

"So you told her nothing about the enhanced receptivity effects?" asked the hirsute scientist sitting opposite and to her right, snacking on his favourite peanut butter, with oatmeal cookies and lactose-free milk. Hoisting girders about - that was heavy labour. He deserved a treat.

"Of course not," said the doctor, sipping her coffee. "But I didn't lie, we hadn't undone anything Talon did - and it really was a sedative, just one that leaves patients a little more..." she waved one hand back and forth, "...open to ideas, while under its influence. It would've helped with our treatments of her, helped her return to who she really was."

"Nicely played," said Jack Morrison, nursing a judicious amount of Tennessee bourbon. "Hope this doesn't come back to bite us on the ass any more than it already has."

Dr. Ziegler smiled warmly at her old friend, sitting opposite and to her left. "I'd suspected Lena might do something she'd come to regret. I'd hoped she wouldn't, or if she did, I'd hoped I could talk her down. But if push came to shove... she might as well have that thin chance." She shuddered. "I think she has made a grave mistake. I do not think that... construct... is a person or can be reformed, and I wasn't lying about being killed in her sleep, either."

"You did what you could," said the soldier. He put down his glass and rubbed at his eyes. "She's always been impulsive, but this is another level. If they come at us... we'll have to assume the worst. They might as well be Talon." He put the drink down, and rubbed his eyes.

"That will not be difficult," smirked Angela. "I am quite angry, both about being held at gunpoint, and at losing my best change to recover Amélie. And Kestrel," the doctor snorted, "she made a strongly negative impression on Gina and Odion. Gossip will insure everyone knows."

"I know their hearts are in the right place," Winston insisted. "Particularly Lena's. I think they're both being extremely foolish - but do not doubt their hearts."

"Just their judgements. And maybe their sanity," said the soldier.

The three sat quietly, for some moments, letting what happened today finally settle in as the sun went down. Morrison, thinking maybe they should've just handed the Widowmaker over to legal authorities; Winston, wishing he'd found a middle way, something to keep everyone happy, while knowing no such path existed; and Ziegler, angry, but still afraid for the two women who had, to her mind, made such a terrible mistake.

"To absent friends," Winston lifted his glass of water. "May they not become present enemies."

"I'll drink to that," said Morrison, raising the last of his bourbon.

Angela lifted her coffee cup, touching it against her friends' drinks. "To absent friends," she echoed. May they not be dead come morning.

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 07:21 pm
Here's an item that's a couple of days old that I forgot to post about. You all knew about whiny piece of Nazi trash Richard Spencer coming to the University of Florida to spew. If you're a regular reader, you probably also knew that the UF campus was my second home growing up: music lessons, orchestra practice, the summer class where I learned BASIC, my dad's office. I was a faculty brat, but like most of us not really that bratty. (Evil Sister & her friends made up for my lack of brattiness.)

What most of you didn't know was that shortly before Spencer was scheduled to speak, a member of the UF music faculty went to the top of Century Tower, the brick bell tower that I walked past hundreds if not thousands of times, and played "Lift Every Voice and Sing" on the carillon. For those not in the know, that song is the NAACP's anthem and was often sung during the civil rights marches in the '60s.

The UF posted video on its Twitter feed: shots of Century Tower from several points I'd walked through, audio of the song. I watched it from work and bawled.

Oh by the way, I'm told the UF audience and protesters did a fine job of making Spencer and his little band, about two dozen supporters in all, look like the assholes they are. Three of those two dozen were arrested for attempted murder in Alachua, FL, not far from Gainesville, where the UF is.

Says Mom, the reason Spencer was allowed there in the first place was spinelessness on the part of the UF's board of directors, not its president.

How dare they? How dares any of them?
Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 03:29 pm
I just finished framing in the window downstairs. A while back, we got a concrete company to come in and cut out a tiny window and install a window large enough for a person to exit through, thus converting our two bedroom house into a three bedroom house, woo hoo. The down side is that they did a pretty messy job cutting through the concrete/stucco and it had been sitting like a festering sore for a long time. N found some stucco repair material and filled in the major holes, but that still left raw concrete all around the window. Framing it in was complicated because the window frame was only about 14mm wide, but inset about 150mm from the front of the wall, so I needed to get some very wide but thin material that could stand up to exterior exposure (albeit somewhat sheltered: it's under the back awning.) I got some redwood, that I cut and mitered to fit. The complicated part was that the concrete sawing wasn't particularly perpendicular to the wall, so I had to fit the boards to the concrete by removing bits of the backs until they presented a nice rectilinear surround. The more complicated part was that for whatever reason, they cut the sill so it tilted somewhat towards the window. I need to have the sill tilted away from the window, so rainwater doesn't end up settling against the window. Even more fun, the bottom ledge of the window was maybe 14mm above the concrete cut, so I needed to have a sill, sloping downwards, with its highest point below the edge of the window so it can swing open, and its lowest point still above the concrete lip that's tilting the wrong way. I came to the conclusion that with an eight degree slant, using 12mm thick redwood, everything would work.
The top was pretty easy to cut, the sides were only tricky in that I had to match the reverse slant of the concrete, then use a backsaw and chisel to cut in the sill at its eight degree slope. Fitting the bottom was kinda awful. I'd misjudged my eight degrees, that was too much, so I had to plane off a large quantity of the front bottom edge of the sill to clear the concrete, and that left me with a horrible sliding block puzzle: the concrete tilts downwards so the side boards have to be put in place by tilting them in, but the sill won't slide into its slot because there's concrete in the way. If it were all assembled in place it would be perfect, but there's no way to get it assembled in place.
So I chiseled one slot wider, with a bevel, so I could load in one side piece, the sill, then put the other side piece diagonally into the window, raise that side of the sill, get it into the slot in the side piece, then push the side piece into place, and finally jam in the top piece like a keystone.
And after all that, once everything was in place the window wouldn't open because it hit the back edge of the sill, as the sill was touching the concrete and slightly bowed upwards.
I got to undo everything and hand-scrape the sill to fit. This is a technique I learned from [personal profile] gfish and Neuro. Usually it's done to make a dead flat surface, but I used a variant to match two surfaces. I scrubbed the sill back and forth on the concrete, flipped it over, and chiseled out anything that had been marked by the concrete, then put it back in and scrubbed it again. After about 20 iterations of that, I have something that's flat, well-supported by the concrete (as it touches in about 15 spots), and clears the window.
Now it needs to be painted and have some silicone caulk applied.
Framed in:
20171022_154832
Wood shavings everywhere:
20171022_154839
I mostly used my Stanley #4 plane, aka the Stanley Sweetheart, and that damned vorpal wood chisel from the 1880's that wants to draw blood every time I get near it. It does an amazing job in redwood, let me tell you what. But I did have a chance to use my Stanley #8, a plane that is quite a bit longer than my forearm/hand. It removes a *lot* of wood per pass, a strip 35mm wide that is painfully hot when it comes off the blade, and the reason I rarely use it is that I'm not strong enough to use it to its full capability. It requires more power than I can provide.
But at least it's done.
Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 09:03 am
Yesterday? Biking to fetch repaired 'Vogs in the rain* followed by leg waxing, napping, and a trip to the anniversary party for MOKEDO*, an arts space down in Sodo. I had noticed some reflective and translucent sheets of various materials on the floor and adjoining wall, figuring it was Some Art Thing. I figured right. Proprietress Mollie Bryan likes to do and show art involving various forms of light, and around 2230 she stopped the groovy techno from Ed Beier, donned a kimono, put on the sort of finger LEDs beloved of ravers on MDMA, and made with the reflections, refractions, etc. There was super spacey live techno by Cyanwave that really went well with the performance, even if I did think it dragged on a bit. It was kind of like watching clouds or a Rorschach test with moving, multicolored lights.

Oh: somebody brought a VR setup to the upstairs. Not bad. I remember how cheesy the first generation headsets were. Display & processor technologies have finally caught up to the demand.

Gotta start icing that tendonitis in my left elbow. Ow.



*Water-resistant messenger bag FTW!
**Yes, all caps.
Saturday, October 21st, 2017 08:02 pm
A long and pleasant evening out with Funny Lady, entirely at her expense because she wanted to celebrate employment, which had eluded her for quite a while.

She took me to Shiro's, which as I've said here before is expensive and sublime sushi in Belltown. She turned me onto it, and it's a joint favorite. Gosh, I would have settled for something way cheaper, but damn, you should have first-rate sushi at least once in your life.

Thence to the Wildrose for a few beers and ogling other women where they can reasonably expect to be ogled by other women, and who may in turn be ogling other women. Fun fact: one of the Siberian Siren's exes was working the door, because how many dykes in Seattle can there possibly be? Funny Lady & I lamented the difficulty of getting the queer wimmins we know through the door. The 'Rose is the quietest, most mellow place on the Hil, and I've had one (1) small issue there which the management rectified PDQ. Funny Lady hasn't had any that I know of, and she's fabulously femme and therefore likely to be taken for straight.

Are we especially thick-skinned as dykes go? Sure, you'd expect that from me because I'm used to getting funny looks and determined to make up for lost time. But Funny Lady, the southern belle? Then again, FL's a woman of the world, having lived several years each in Paris and New York.

Then Lost Lake, which I'd somehow managed never to go into despite walking past many, many times. Finally, all-night eats that aren't terrible! I asked FL how she'd explain tater tots to the French, so she explained them in French; that's why she's Funny Lady. I ate way too many tater tots.
Friday, October 20th, 2017 10:25 pm
One of my transistors isn't sistoring, and I don't know what to do about it. I think I'm just going to sleep.
Friday, October 20th, 2017 02:13 pm
So normally these gaming posts lately have Widowmaker's icon, but today is definitely a Tracer icon day. (I've also been playing around with my Widowmaker sight/targeting settings, now that linear tracking mode is working as it should on PS4, and I'm still getting used to it but I like it.)

Right. Offense. Junkertown. We're inside, but haven't been inside for long, on the last leg. I am in full-bore Manic Pixie Murder Machine mode, I end up with some very large and enjoyable kill streak that I card for, all that. That's all fairly normal.

But I've never been the greatest with Tracer's bombs, right? They're everybody's weak point because they're so damned random and often just won't deploy and even when they do sometimes they just don't go off. This has been seen in pro play, even. But today was not that day.

'Cause I've just killed their Mercy and their Hanzo and somebody else in their backfield (maybe their Junkrat? I forget who, I was doing a lot of backfield killing and they were not picking up on it) and their D.va comes charging by out of the shortcut just as I'm looking back towards my team and the payload to see what's up.

So I empty both clips into the back of her mecha a couple of times, getting her about, eh, 60% down or so? And just as she jets away, I follow it up with my Tracer bomb.

As I'm doing this, she hits her nerf. Her mech goes flying forward, into the rest of my team, and...

...my bomb goes off, and her self-destruct doesn't.

That's right. NERF THIS CANCELLATION MOTHERFUCKERS. She lost the ult completely, straight up cancellation, had to earn it back from scratch. In other words: nerf this? No, nerf this.

I didn't even think you could do that. I didn't know it was possible.

They didn't even give me play of the game. WRONG. I know who had play of the game. It was me.

eta: IT SHOWED UP IN MY HIGHLIGHTS AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA :D
Friday, October 20th, 2017 09:16 am
[Access restricted for kink - or rather, the consequences thereof.]

But first: Learning Elixir for work. So far so good. Slightly weird syntax in places, but not verbose and not an egregious violator of the sadly underrated Principle of Least Astonishment.

You know those spectacular bruises I picked up at the Folsom Street Fair, or more precisely, the Friday night before? The last of the deep purple and yellow disappeared early this week, but most of the large original area of the bruises is still faintly lavender. I've never seen anything quite like it on myself or anyone else. I can't help but wonder if it's ever going away, because it's been four weeks now.
Thursday, October 19th, 2017 11:11 pm
Most of y'all know that I have a lot of memory problems, and I've had to turn into a somewhat Memento-esque person. I had two different instances of that today: looking for a piece of hardware/software I built for the Spitfire four months ago, and I found the control board nicely packaged with the sensor and the relevant processor, rather than having to hunt them down again (or more likely reorder them) so it's nice when I think enough at the moment of creating a project to physically include all its dependencies. On the other hand, looking through the firmware I wrote for it, and there's an uncommented constant that looks like nonsense, so I change it to something sensible, start working with the sensor, and can't figure out why the output is total garbage, until I look carefully at the hardware and realize I have it set up to use a precision voltage reference rather than just whatever the input voltage is, and that nonsense constant is actually the correct value for the precision voltage reference. So, switch it back to what it was, add some comments, and go back to working on the project. Sheesh.
Thursday, October 19th, 2017 03:10 pm
Written in haste, rather than at leisure...

While searching (as yet, in vain) for a particular science fiction anthology, which I described to a friend as follows:

[Your story] puts me a little bit in mind of a set of science fiction short stories I read several years ago, about what happened i n the wake of "imprinting" of Significant Dead People, on (willing!) living ones, and the "hybrid" personalities that resulted. The concept got explored in ways that I found quite compelling... but not enough, apparently, to remember the name of the anthology, dagnabbit! Just that one of the stories involved either Lewis or Clark, another involved Anne Boleyn, and a third involved a 15th century Italian fencing master.


Ennyhoo...my umpteenth search term attempt lead me to a terrific article, titled: Blending Fiction and History, by Paula Fleming.

I'm not going to excerpt the article here; I'll just urge you to go read it, forthwith! Why? Because imo Ms. Fleming's article is a must-read for anyone who wants to write good "spec fic". Do I know authors who I think incorporate and exemplify what she describes, and do it well? Yes, I do. Some of them are paid well (Patricia Briggs, for example). Others would like to be paid, but don't have or haven't yet made the connections with traditional publishing houses. Though I'll be the first to admit that Sturgeon's Law applies, three of the un(der)paid writers I know (where know == "have exchanged private emails with, about their writing"), I think *are* among the top ten percent, i.e. the cream of the crop. To whit: our own [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith, [personal profile] siliconshaman, and [personal profile] dialecticdreamer.

If you enjoy speculative fiction in a modern, not-quite-utopian* setting, these writers' works are ones I urge you to come and explore.

This is an entirely unpaid and unsolicited plug, brought to you by the word "left" and the number 4.

brief pico-description, below the cut )
Tags:
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 02:40 pm
I've still got this damned head cold or whatever it is and it's awful and won't go away. I was feeling better yesterday but that didn't last.

I was fuckin' terrible today in lunchtime Overwatch. Well, as Widow, anyway. I was good as Tracer as always, and the weird thing is, the one time I wasn't terrible as Widow, it was in deathmatch, where I was surprisingly competitive against a pretty heavy set of enemies including three Pharahs and a D.va, which is not normally a recipe for competitiveness but I was.

So I was feeling pretty okay in warmup. But christ, go into quickplay and suddenly it's WHAT IS SNIPERS? and I can't hit a shot to save my life. (And that included while winning. So.)

This is in huge contrast to yesterday where I was not just playing well, but had another entire game of being the Widowmaker I want to be. Defence in Hollywood, 70% scope accuracy, eight criticals, golds in objective kills and objective time and silver in total kills, enemy Bastion got so sick of me that he tried being enemy Widow and yeah that did not help, enemy Pharah kept trying to go over the gate wall and I just kept one-shotting her out of the air until she got so mad that on their last serious push she apparently decided "y'know what, fuck the objective, fuck the game, I'm killing that fucking Widowmaker at least once" and went through the security office while I was busy with other people, jumped me from behind and let loose her one and only ult at point-blank range just for me.

Honestly, I felt quite flattered.

I guess the short form is I am still a work in progress, and it shows.
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 11:31 am
I called Mom from the bus yesterday to warn her that the zit on the face of humanity that is Richard Spencer is coming to the University of Florida, and that she should avoid the UF campus while that's happening. It turns out I needn't have worried: she knew who he was. She also knew that the president of the UF had originally planned to deprive him of a platform, but what I didn't know was that the UF's board of directors had caved in to the threat of a lawsuit and allowed Spencer to come. She also knew that Florida's governor had arranged for a heavy law enforcement presence. I'm relieved in more than one way that she's on top if this situation.

I've mentioned this before: the UF campus was my second home growing up. It was my happy place to be a nerdy closet trans girl. And now it's being defiled by chickenshit, broken-headed racists. I hope Gainesville gives them hell.

My father, who was a professor at UF and death on racism, is turning in his grave.
Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 10:34 am

Widowmaker brought herself in from the cold, one day, exchanging a list of Talon agents for sanctuary, and at first couldn't or wouldn't say why. Her first breakthrough in explaining herself came in a talk with Lena Oxton, who then helped her break through Angela Ziegler's insistence that Widowmaker was not really a person, and that Amélie Lacroix could yet be recovered. But despite that truth, sometimes, some of Amélie's last memories - mostly but not always tightly compartmentalised away - trouble the spider, and this is one of those times.

This is the sixth in a series of stories set in the It is Not Easy to Explain, She Said continuity, a timeline largely compliant with known canon as of July 2017 (pre-Doomfist/Masquerade), which is when I wrote and posted the first story. It is not part of the on overcoming the fear of spiders AU.

This story follows "It's not easy to explain, said Lena Oxton" in chronological sequence. [AO3 link]


"Do you remember what it was like?"

Lena held Widowmaker's hand, gently, as they sat together, otherwise alone, mid-afternoon, in the smaller canteen at Gibraltar. She drank tea, cream, two sugars. Her counterpart drank obscenely hot coffee, unsweetened, strong, and dark.

For the most part, Amélie's memories stayed safely in their place, out of Widowmaker's way, but there were a few, occasionally, at the border between her birth and the previous woman's death, that picked at her, at times. Dr. Ziegler suggested that was because of the emotions around them - emotions could, perhaps, last long enough, even if the thoughts themselves didn't, to become Widowmaker's emotions as well.

"A little," said the former Talon assassin, after some delay. "Not very much, thankfully. I do not think she was making new memories very well, by then. But there are some."

Lena shuddered a little. "I can't even imagine it."

Widowmaker shook her head. "For her, it was not even the fear of it happening. It was..." She pondered a moment. "It is not easy to explain."

"I can't imagine it would be."

"She would feel, and think, one way, one thing, and then, she would find herself thinking another way, a different thing, a thing like I would think, sometimes, but she would be thinking it, and not me. And sometimes it would be something neither of us would think, but something they very much wanted her to think. And she would believe what she thought, and what she felt, but she would know, she would remember, moments before, thinking very differently about the same thing."

"And she'd fight it," assumed Tracer, "and that would hurt."

"No - but yes? Both would feel like it was her. There was nothing for her to fight. But the difference in the two... that, she found horrifying."

Lena let out a long breathy hoo sound, and took another sip of her tea, before continuing. "So they were making her think... their thoughts, then."

"My thoughts, at least, at times." She leaned her elbows against the table. "Or, to be more correct, the kind of thoughts they wanted me to think. About... how lovely, how beautiful, how perfect it would be when they put her back, and she killed Gérard. And she would believe it, because she could already feel it." The assassin smiled. "As I do, when I kill."

Tracer shuddered. She knew, she knew that the assassin enjoyed her kills - that for a long time, it had been all she lived for. But making Amélie feel that, and Amélie knowing they made her feel that... "Was it you, then? When they did it?" she asked, hoping for an unlikely yes.

The blue assassin laughed, a sound that still made Lena's heart ring every time it happened, no matter the context. "No. I could hardly have imitated Amélie so well for so long. I'd've been discovered, almost immediately. No - it was still her." She took a sip of her coffee. It had cooled a bit, but remained hot enough for her tastes. "That's why it took her two weeks to strike."

"So in the end..." the teleporter said, voice distant in her own ears, "Amélie killed Gérard. And enjoyed it."

Widowmaker nodded. "In a way. They were never above to achieve everything they wanted with her, but they were able to recondition her enough to kill - at least, for a time. And so, she assassinated Gérard, but being torn between the grief and the guilt and the ecstasy..." She shook her head. "That all but shattered her. When she returned, as programmed, they took her apart completely. And built me."

"But you feel some of her... emotions, from then? Her conflict?"

"I do," she said, a tinge of sadness in her voice. She put down her cup. "It was the only death about which I felt conflicted, until Mondatta, and the fight with you."

Lena put a third sugar in her tea. She needed something sweet right then. "D'ya ever wonder," she said, as she refilled her cup from the teapot, "if they'd done a better job sealing her off, if you might not've started to, y'know, think on your own?"

"Internal conflict as the source of self-awareness? Dr. Ziegler has suggested that idea as well." She shrugged. "I do not know. But let's say it's true - in which case, Talon did me yet another favour. They..." she picked her cup back up, sipped at the coffee, and put it back down, "left me open, on accident, to you." And she smiled again, just a little, at the side of her mouth.

The Overwatch teleporter let out her breath, and her eyes softened just a bit, as she looked into those metallic eyes. "Aw, luv. That's..."

"May I kiss you?"

Lena blinked, putting down her tea. "...you... care about..." She shook her head, just a little. "...things like that?"

"I don't know." The spider shrugged again, this time with something artificial in the nonchalance. "But I am finding I... may. At least, with you. Shall we find out?"

Lena wasn't sure what she expected. Would she be cold? Would she feel wrong, would she feel like some dead - and then no, she did not, she was not, she was none of those things, she was cool, yes, but not cold, cool like the first breezes of autumn, like the first hints of snow off the mountains, not chilling, but invigorating, and Lena returned the kiss, almost involuntarily, herself warm, no, hot, like summer sun, like the last day at a Spanish beach before the turning of the weather, and Widowmaker was just as surprised, finding herself melting just a little bit more, and she gasped, pulling away, panting, looking down at her coffee, thinking, How can she be so warm?, before looking back up at the one who had reached past her eyes of molten gold, and finding she had no words then at all.

"Blimey, luv..." managed Lena, after a moment. "You're... only the second woman ever to make me feel like that with a kiss."

"For me, you," breathed Widowmaker, eyes wide, "...are the first."

"I hope it don't make you feel like killin' someone," Lena half-laughed, half-serious, half-joking, a lot nervous and a little afraid, and if that made more than a whole, so be it. "Chiefly, me."

"Never." Widowmaker reached across the table, grabbing Lena's hands with both of her own. "Do you understand? Never. I could not."

She pulled Lena forward, close, quickly, knocking the teacup across the table, shattering it on the floor, and the smaller woman gasped, startled, but did not flee.

"I do not know why, and I do not know how, but..." The spider kissed the teleporter, again, the meeting short but intense, "...I have found someone I could never kill."

Hooooooo, thought a part of the teleporter, unexpected emotions swirling around her mind, throwing her into responding before she even knew she was doing it. This is not gonna be easy to explain, to... to anybody.

Monday, October 16th, 2017 09:57 pm
I went to Moab, Utah, over the weekend to meet some G+ friends and ride all over creation. I'll post pictures later. It was utterly exhausting, mostly because I rode with them in the morning and then went and rode really hard in the evening on my own. I am officially no longer in contention for world-class racing. Dammit. But I am within a few percent of my best times from 15 years ago, which is nice. (Less peak power, but way better endurance.)

Right now I'm battling a spigot. We have frost-resistant spigots on the house, and both have now failed to a lesser or greater extent, one no longer working at all but at least not leaking, and the other leaking at somewhere between the rate a dog would pee and maybe a drop every two seconds if I mess about with it. Traditionally, frost-resistant spigots are easy to fix: you shut the house water off (or, in the case of my previous house, you turn off the cutoff valve I installed in the plumbing right in front of each spigot, for exactly this situation) and extract the spigot valve from the body and replace the gasket and you're good for another 15 years. Well, I shut off the house water and extracted the valve control hardware, and it doesn't have a gasket on the end. The entire valve control assembly is buried in the wall. The only access is by cutting a hole, either in the nice hardwood floor in the bedroom, or in the finished/textured drywall ceiling in the nonfiction library. I'm choosing the library.
Monday, October 16th, 2017 05:14 pm
last time i posted, i was in a bit of a slump - possibly more perceived than real, according to the numbers - but i've been digging back out a bit the last couple of days. i definitely needed to do more annabots, because of what it does for my tracking, which deathmatch does not do. the two training modes compliment each other well.

anyway, i'm home sick today with a head cold, and so had two daytime sessions and i just gotta say

do not step to me as widowmaker on defence in hanamura

just

don't

okay, so, i'm up to a 12 kill streak and my scope percentage is pretty good and my critical hit count is decent, and there's like 35 seconds left and we seem to be in good shape on defending the second point. torbjorn's got his turret up, all that, i'm coming back from spawn where i've re-healthed 'cause we don't have a healer, but while i was healing up, somebody blew up my mine on the upper platform on our left.

so i'm running out the right corridor and it's mccree and his ult is up and nobody on our team takes him down. he pulls a quadruple kill, then takes out a fifth, but gets taken down doing it.

i proceed to hold the point solo as widowmaker against reaper, lucio, and the piggy, the latter with no doubt the most brutally effective widow:76 play i have ever pulled off.

15 kill streak. and my whole team has seen it 'cause I'm the only one alive.

they all come charging out as i'm finishing off roadhog and i just wave - "hello there!" - and present them with a cleared objective, and we win.

smooth as silk.

unf.
Monday, October 16th, 2017 02:53 pm
I'm not doing regular linkspam posts anymore, but I had a pile of links to file and I thought I'd put them in one place.

Some advice for survivors and those writing about them, Leigh Honeywell (2017-10-12). Some great advice on talking to journalists that applies to situations where you're exposing any kind of wrong-doing.

Donald Trump to become first president to speak at anti-LGBT hate group gathering, Benjamin Butterworth for PinkNews (2017-10-11). Remember when people were saying "at least Tr*mp is pro-LGBT"?

[CW: rape] On predators who won't accept that they are predators, E Price (2017-10-12). "It’s important for men to question whether there are rapists in their midsts. But good men, really feminist men, need to go even further: they need to question whether they have ever been rapists themselves."

Sister Outsider Headbanger: On Being a Black Feminist Metalhead, Keidra Chaney for Bitch (2000-11-30). Good stuff about being in intersecting outsider identities.

We fired our top talent. Best decision we ever made, Jonathan Solórzano-Hamilton (2017-10-12). "Rick was a very talented developer. Rick could solve complex business logic problems and create sophisticated architectures to support his lofty designs. Rick could not solve the problem of how to work effectively on a team." (Other people have rightly pointed out that the author doesn't place enough responsibility on the environment "Rick" was in for allowing him to escalate his toxic behaviors, but the fact remains that some people deal with pressure by seeking help and support from others, while others deal with it by harming others in an attempt to preserve themselves.)

We Warned You About Milo And You’re Still Not Listening, Katherine Cross for The Establishment (2017-10-09). 'The hypersensitivity that reels from “trigger warnings” but thrills to Yiannopoulos’ joyful transphobia, that likens workplace diversity trainings to “gulags,” is what fuels the outrage culture about “outrage culture,” an insatiable rage that can never be sated by giving it what it says it wants. It will merely demand we make ourselves smaller and smaller until nothing of us remains. Reactionary outrage about “PC” is not a philosophy as much as it is a burning sun that demands our compliance as its nuclear fuel, consuming it endlessly until it can feed no more and goes nova.'

America Loves Plausible Deniability, Lindy West for the New York Times (2017-10-14). "When faced with a choice between an incriminating truth or a flattering lie, America’s ruling class has been choosing the lie for 400 years."

A guide to modern Nazi dogwhistles from [twitter.com profile] secretgamergrrl:
"Modern nazi dog whistles- Accusing people of "calling everyone a nazi." Specifically, doing this in contexts where it makes no sense. i.e. shouting "you call everyone a nazi!" when someone is talking about nazi book burnings in the 40s, or "everyone you don't like is a nazi!" in response to a statement like "this is a profoundly homophobic statement from this organization." The hope is that someone listening who has, in a more appropriate context, been at some point likened to a nazi will give some subtle gesture of approval, outing themselves as someone ripe for recruitment. A common variation is shouting "why do you hate Trump!?" when people discuss bigotry in contexts with no tie to Trump."

Cyrus Vance and the Myth of the Progressive Prosecutor, Josie Duffy Rice for the New York Times: "The progressive bombast is meaningless if prosecutors continue to promote the same harsh practices behind the scenes. Instead, voters must look closely at their policies and hold them to high and specific standards. We should ask: Are prosecutors opposing new mandatory minimum sentences during legislative debates? Have they declined to request cash bail in a vast majority of cases? Are they keeping children out of adult court and refusing to seek life-without-parole sentences for them?"

"Fun sexual assault fact: you only hear the stories we can bear to tell." -- [twitter.com profile] sarahhartshorne
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Monday, October 16th, 2017 01:43 pm
I did a little drive by to Inn Thrall to bid a relatively brief happy birthday to the proprietress, Kathleen Ashford. Against my better instincts I showed up empty-handed; I had no idea what she might like that she doesn't already have several of in that rambling and well-stocked house. (Yeah, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.) I discovered from the other gifts she got that she's partial to her weed, which is surprising as sunrise, really.

Over drinks with J&R last night I mentioned regretting not getting her some weed, and they pointed out that there's still a limit to how much you can legally have in your possession if you're not growing or selling it. It had never occurred to me that birthdays might present a problem for stoners in a legalized environment.

Speaking of birthdays & B&Bs, the Tickler has expressed a desire for a stay in a nice hotel sometime. I checked, and Inn Thrall, despite being a B&B, is acceptable to her. Pity her birthday wasn't that long ago, but I can find another occasion.
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