Tag Archive for philosophy

Trans is not a gender

Alright, I think some people may disagree with what I’m going to write here, but I came across a few characters that brought it to mind, and I feel the need to write/talk it out.  Since that’s what this blog is intended for, away I go!

There was a statement I recall hearing from some real transsexual folks a while back, about how a MtF who completed her transition was not a trans man, but a woman, and the same applies for the other direction.  From a Transformers board I follow which seems to ironically have a decent proportion of transsexual folk, they want to be seen as the gender they should be, not what they are, and that’s how they present themselves.  If they could snap their fingers and be 100% the gender they should be, they would be in a heartbeat, much like many otherkin would do if they could become their species. (Also ironically, otherkin still tend to be looked down on by transexual folk, despite the fact that unlike their situation, it’s more spiritual than physical.)

Then recently, I came across someone who was getting rid of some characters, and I took a peek cause the thumbnails looked interesting.  A couple of the characters in question were female in shape and body, but with male genitals, and their gender was labeled as trans.

Trans is not a gender.  The people I mentioned above, who have to deal with the situation in real life, would consider this sort of character an insult, and in fact I’ve seen similar reactions to some mainstream depictions of such people that take the same approach.

Now, they could be in the middle of transitioning, but the art and descriptions gave the impression that this was their natural selves, and they were satisfied with being where they were on the physical gender spectrum.  Basically, it’s being used as a more palatably-named version of the old concept of the “dickgirl”/”cuntboy” concept. (Which some trans folk also find offensive, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Nowadays, there is a wider spectrum recognized in the matter of gender, which reflects itself in furry fandom.  You’ve got genderfluid folk, who go back and forth, or folk who identify as neither.  It makes perfect sense to have people who may identify as somewhere in-between, whether a full herm(with breasts or without), a “dickgirl,” or a “cuntboy.”

Now fair enough, people may be confused on these, and said confusion may make them angry that someone is challenging them, or it may make them think the person is simply doing it as a cry for attention, instead of who they are.  There may even be a few for whom that is true. Also fair enough that the two latter terms have been used as insults in the trans community for long enough that it feels wrong to use the terms, but frankly I just don’t have anything better at the moment.  And that, my friends, is part of the problem.

How do you describe the gender of such folk? Stick to the well-used terms despite their negative connotation? Make up something else and piss off the “anti-snowflake” crowd further? Or just go the smartass route(my favorite) and say “Gender: Yes”?

Now some may point out that fursonas have an element of fantasy to them. Some may choose to have their fursona mirror their real-life progress, and that’s fine. And they may decide to stop halfway between like the examples above.  But at that point, if you do stop partway on purpose, you’ve finished your transition, even if the endpoint is not a “normal” endpoint.  You’re not trans, you’re something else.

And honestly, I guess this has turned into more of a rant than a discussion or whatever, and people can claim whatever labels they like, but someone calling themselves trans as a gender does a disservice to the actual transexuals who are in mid-transition, and intend to go all the way because that’s what they truly see themselves as.

Trans is not a gender.

That said, I’ll go back to my hidey-hole now until the next time I get a bug up my tail to write about something, or when I finally get around to another art post, as I have gotten a couple pieces, and have at least one more in the works.  But that’s for another day.

Future Imperfect – Virtual Transhumanism

So I was talking with a co-worker during some downtime recently, and the speculation it led to was quite interesting I feel.  It started with discussing how we’re in the future already that was talked about back in the 80s and 90s, but we just don’t recognize it(which is a topic I plan to go into seperately), and ended up with some discussion on how things may look in the near future, if we take current trends and run them out to a possible logical conclusion.

To start off with, let’s take a look at Shadowrun – take away the magic and D&D aspects, and it’s fairly standard cyberpunk.  In the original version, the Matrix was this world in virtual reality – VR and you could look like anything you wanted there.  Think Second Life, but with a full body VR, usually via direct neural interface.

As we worked on that tech in the real world, pure VR fell more to the side, partly due to the challenges of such tech versus the demand for such.  Instead, what grew up was a compromise; augmented reality.  Products like Google Glass and the holodisplay that Microsoft has demonstrated mix the virtual right over top of the real.  There are even games using similar tech now, such as the upcoming Pokemon Go.

As the developers of the Shadowrun system and universe updated it, they had to work in modern developments that were not expected back when it was created, such as AR and wireless, that people today might take for granted or see as near-future, and they had to do it in a way that made sense in-universe.  Thus came the wireless Matrix being available anywhere, after a fashion, and overlaid on the real world via AR to interact with.

Well, jumping off that idea, with AR you can overlay images to change how something looks.  What this means, is that fashion may take a sudden dive to the left, as the clothes no longer matter.

For purposes of this thought experiment, let’s assume that computational power is not an issue – cloud computing, etc tied into your visor/glasses/monocle/implants.  In much the same way that the studio was able to replace Arnold or his double in the later Terminator movie with his younger self, in AR your device could edit out a person’s appearance and modify it in real-time. Want some expensive, fancy clothes, but without risk of damaging or soiling them?  Let AR overwrite them onto your body for anyone tied into the network who looks at you.

The fashion world would be rocked, but adapt, and clothes would lose most of their appearance aspects.  Instead of wearing something to look good, you’d wear(or not wear) what was comfortable and affordable.  Most instances of clothes would become drab and utilitarian, while to the everyday folks they would be surrounded by a cavalcade of color and whimsy, full of outfits that are not physically possible.  In warmer weather, to a person not tied into the AR network, it might even seem as if he or she had walked into a nudist colony!

The capability does not stop there, however.  If clothes can be overlaid, so can full appearances.  While flying may not be possible on a personal level, you might end up with a scene looking like a high-resolution realistic Second Life, as the only limits would be those set by the system.  Furries, otherkin, cosplayers, and many others would be drooling over such a capability to truly become their character, or their true self, depending on perspective.

There would have to be limits of course, as their physical bodies still exist, so likely there would be few taurs or other four-leggers running around, or tinies or macro beings for that matter. That aside, on one level this would appear to be a gateway to transhumanism – to become more than human.  Setting aside any social stigma such as exists now for furries and others of a kindred nature, you could be walking down a street and pass a wolf, a faerie, a sumo wrestler, just to enter McDonalds and be served by a tigress whose outfit barely covers her and a robot with visible gears and pistons. People could effectively be anything humanoid they wanted to be.

On the other hand, it’s all virtual.  Turn off the implant, take off the glasses, and you’ll find the boring, mundane, drab grey world still exists behind the glitzy facade, much like Las Vegas.  For some, that may be enough, and with less push behind it from the semi-human quarter, progress and research in that direction may slow or even halt entirely in some aspects.

With less need to take care of themselves physically, there may be increased health issues as well, though possibly less than some would think, as smell is not included in our little thought experiment.  Sound could be, however, providing voice-changers to all and sundry.

This idea however I could easily see being reachable in our lifetime, given the strides networking, parallel processing, and cloud computing has made in the past decade.  Safely gene-splicing to phsycially modify our bodies is much, much further away, I feel.  But with being able to gain the “perfect” body via AR, whatever your definition of perfect, may dis-incentivize  research into actually gaining that body, which may push the end result out even farther.  Then again, there’s no reason that VR couldn’t take off again, allowing people to move in VR and interact with people in the real world via AR, while in the comfort of their home, or maybe even in a computer if anyone manages to solve the problem of how to upload our minds and souls into our creations.

I guess overall I see it as a blind alley that we could easily head into. There may be a door that leads us to someplace unexpected, or we may end up having to turn around and start from zero once more.  Then again, the rumored singularity may happen and we just hop the alley wall into the unknown.

“You can’t always get what you want.
But if you try sometime…
You just might find…
That you get what you need~”

My Two Cents on Dollars

So, first post I’ve written on my tablet, but bed’s too comfy to leave and I got thoughts to chew on before I go to sleep.

It started by thinking about my current “entertainment” budget, then recalling how some friends of mine were scraping by, and how they think about money, and then how I treat money and what I’d found out recently about where I stand.

Maybe it’s best if I start with my situation.  My current job is salaried, and I honestly probably pay less attention to the amount than I should.  For example, there’s a bonus program going on for completing some training that we need to do anyways, but it had to be done on our own time.  I wanted to do it because it needed to be done anyways, and I had some art in mind I wanted to spend it on, but I almost missed the deadline because the money wasn’t that important – and it was half of a single paycheck in total!

Currently my life us fairly comfortable, though not extravagent.  Thanks to my current arrangements, bills are mostly covered, so most of my paychecks go into savings.  These are relatively temporary arrangenents though, so I still treat that money as if it was already spent, and ignore the total amount sitting in savings unless I need to move money. This keeps me from getting used to overspending and having issues later due to that.

My perspective on money is informed by this treatment of pay as well.  I still feel $200 is a lot to spend on anything, and spending $100-ish on single optional purchases still makes me internally cringe a bit. When I’m  using anything that’s triple digits in price, I usually go over it several times before pressing “buy.”  I still try to pay cash for most small offline purchases even!

Well I was looking at some statistics the other day about salary ranges and was surprised at the ranges.  I had thought I was in the lower-middle class range, but apparently I’m solidly middle class?  My dad before retirement was actually upper-middle, but it never felt like it growing up.  We never really lived like it either.

My friends on the other hand are in a worse situation, though it’s partly of their own making – they have too many dogs and cats to feed and care for, and at least one of them doesn’t really want to get rid of any.  They’be got 4 dogs, 9 cats I can think of, plus 2 more kittens, and then 4-6 people, depending on if either of those last two are covering their own stuff or not.

They’re basically running off two incomes at the moment, with a third partially contributing via rent. Money is tight, and even $3 can seem like a lot at times I think.  They still manage to squeeze in some “entertainment” purchases, it doesn’t feel like they really budget well in advance.  They’re basically going paycheck-to-paycheck right now from my perspective.

Now I’m wondering if I should see if I can help with some electronic budgeting.  At a basic level anyways.

Now I’m not sure where I was going with this.  I try to treat money as if I don’t have it, track my monthly spending on “toys,” balk at big purchases, but a meal out every now and then or an occasional $3-$10 purchase doesn’t seem excessive.  My dad on the other hand will buy a 6-month sub to an MMO he hasn’t even tried yet and think nothing of it.  I’ve got a co-worker who has been subbed to WoW since Vanilla, even though he hasn’t played in years.  And then for the people I mentioned earlier even a month of WoW is a significant cost.

When you don’t have it, money is precious.  If you have a lot and start to use it, your mental scale for what is and isn’t expensive can change, which can then lead to trouble later if your supply dries up, which I guess is all about lifestyle.  Find the lowest lifestyle you’re comfortable at, then put all the extra away in case you ever actually need it. Even if you don’t follow a hard budget, at least track it so you can catch yourself if you start overspending.  At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.

After all, there’s two tips I’ve heard in the past. First, is that to have a comfortable retirement, you want to have around one million in the bank these days.  With inflation that will only go up.

Second, is that you want to aim for putting about half your post-tax paycheck into savings.  Right now that’she not a concern for me, but once my circumstances change as I expect them to, I’ll be using that as one of my budgeting guidelines to aim for.

It just feels odd that despite having the lowest need to be responsible with budgeting currently of those I’ve discussed, I seem to be being the most responsible.  And yet, I still seem to care less about it than others.

Speaking about being responsible, one last tip: credit cards shouldn’t be used as small change loan sharks, but as condoms for your wallet.  If you don’t spend more than you have and pay it off in full, it’s no different than a debit card in convienience.  However, if someone steals you debit card number, that money is gone until you convince the bank to reimburse you.  If they steal a CC number, you still have all your money while you work with the bank to cancel the fraudulent charges.  Finally, if you don’t pay it off, interest rates can lead to you digging a hole for yourself that you can’t get out of. I was headed that direction once, but used my current money-handling methodology to free myself from that trap.

Don’t really have anything else to add to this rambling now I guess, so I’ll call it here and see if I can actually get some sleep now!

Thoughts on Immortality

Given the turn my personal life has taken lately, mortality is one thing that’s been cropping up now and then.  Strangely enough, I had not too long ago just re-read a book series based on DOOM. The twist was that we were the only known intelligent lifeform in the known universe that was not functionally immortal.

Without giving away everything else, I do need to explain a bit as it goes into my thoughts on this topic.  The situation with the other intelligent races was that they could not die, at all.  They bodies could be damaged or break down, but once the body was repaired they would be back to normal.  While they may or may not be able to act, and they would be able to feel pain the whole time, they would still be fully cognizant of their surroundings and fully conscious, barring maybe some form of sleep as I can’t remember if that was a thing.  If the body was destroyed or sufficiently rendered unusable, their spirit or soul would disconnect and remain in that area as a sort of ghost, able to see and hear but unable to interact in any way with the world around them.  The fact that humans did not do this scared the living crap out of the other races.

Side note: writing about this is making me think of the way Transformers are handled in the modern fiction for it – as long as their spark is intact, their body could be trashed and they could still be fixed.  The only difference is with TFs their spark could be extinguished.

Anyways, thinking about this reminded me of some parallels with Tolkein’s elves.  The elves themselves were also fairly immortal, though there was little said about what happened to an elf who was intentionally killed that I can recall. The thing is, they were unable to leave the world, while humans were able to go beyond to an unknown existence once they passed on, and the elves considered this a gift given to that race by their creators.  Eventually the elves grew weary of the world, and retreated to a paradise of sorts among that universe’s equivalent of deities, but they could never truly travel beyond the end of the universe like humans did when they died.

That train of thought led me to consider what a society of functionally immortal people might look like.

First, with murder no longer an option, unconsensual torture would become the ultimate crime.  I’ll go over why I added the word unconsensual later but for now, consider the fact that without death, suffering from pain could be continued to the point of madness, depending on the tortured person’s strength of will.  Basically, it’d have all the makings of rape cases, but without needing the sex angle to force their power on someone else.  You also can’t just get rid of all pain, as it’s a very important indicator of damage to the body.  Without it, you might not realize your feet are on fire, and cutting it out would lead to people damaging themselves beyond easy repair without even knowing it until its too late.

My second point returns to that idea of consensual torture.  Even today, with fully mortal people, there are folks out there who derive pleasure from pain, whether receiving or giving it.  Take away the risk of death, and you can go a looooot farther- assuming that it’s not the risk itself that makes it pleasurable.

Speaking of pleasures and entertainment, that’s another huge potential pitfall any such society would have to monitor.  Doing the same thing, day in and day out, is already known to be boring within several years.  What about 100 years later, assuming nothing changes?  Would you be able to do the same thing day in and day out for 100 years?  I doubt it.  Just as vanilla sex can get boring and lead to more and more unusual sexplay to “spice up” a love life, other pursuits will become stale and these immortal people will look for ways to “spice up” their lives in general.  This I think is one of the more interesting parts of this thoughtline – the different ways this could go.

The first option I see I’ll call the “Dark Eldar” option, as that’s a good example of it.  As the folk continue to live, they become more and more jaded, and go to more and more extreme lengths for a novel experience.  Morals and conscience are eventually left behind, sacrificed on the altar of new life experiences, eventually leading to a society we would consider demons straight from hell. And hey, there’s an idea for a story or campaign right there!

The second option, which I’ll call the “Sleeper” option, is one that may have been explored previously, but seems like an interesting idea to me.  As folk start to become world-weary, they are put to sleep for a couple hundred years, using cryogenics or some magical equivalent.  Once they come back from their slumber, they would then find a presumably changed world, with new things and experiences to explore.  This would also be a way to address resource issues, which is something I don’t intend to touch on here.  Development would likely not slow down in this case, as newer folks would continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible as they are not weary of the world yet, and then when they grow weary, they could “rest” while the returned folk learn what happened while they were out and continue the work.  There’s still a danger of eventually drifting into option 1 if progress slows or stops, but this would be one potentially healthy way to address the issue of world-weariness.

The third option could be termed the “Fae” option, as it is along the lines of your typical fantasy elves.  It follows the idea that with the longer lives(in this case unlimited), there’s less drive to do anything worthwhile.  Progress would slow to a crawl as there’s no ticking time bomb to try and make something of themselves before they go.  Life would become ephemeral and passive, and the immortals in this case would simply drift through life without any sort of care, dancing, singing, playing, doing nothing but meaningless things.  Eventually, this could lead to stagnation and decay, and potentially could end up drifting into Dark Eldar territory if they started to take a more active role rather than the passive one that this option embodies.  Rather than trying to change the world, they let the world change them and drift through it like a breeze or slow stream.

Option four could be best labeled the “Amnesia” option, as that is what it essentially is.  This borrows a bit from some Transformers lore, where some ‘bots reportedly were so old they forgot things despite being computers, because they ran out of  “memory space” and erased old memories or overwrote them with new experiences.  We would ahve the same approach here where an immortal may only remember a couple hundred years of the mundane parts of life, and only the most major events stick with them across the aeons.  The immortals would never become truly tired of the world because there’d always be new things for them to (re-)experience, but over the years they could become someone completely different as they lose experiences and gain new ones.  There is a risk here of becoming stuck in a progress treadmill, but presumably written records would allow knowledge to be preserved against the collective amnesia.  Still, that’s one risk only perhaps the Fae option shares.

Option five is probably the most extreme, and could be termed the “Cthulhu” option.  Given aeons to live, rather than adapting but remaining something that our current minds could comprehend, these immortals would become something else, something other.  Their personalities and motives would become strange and unnatural to our mindset as they assimilate the truths of the universe that we might never be able to comprehend in our limited lifetimes.  Given that, they may even be able to transcend their existence to something unknowable to us, ala the Elder Gods or Great Old Ones of Cthulhu mythos, or the energy beings such as the Q and Organians in Star Trek.

After all:

T̙͉̟̱̯͐ͤ͆̄ͅhͯͮ͐̊a̟͊̚t̮̰̟͈̳ͣͦ͂̔̍ ̥͔͇̈́ẁ͓͉ͫ̂h͓̜̾̉͊̿̌i̱̗̔c͈̳̙͈̑̏͗h̞̜̹̎̈ ̻͙ͧͪ̽͑̽̍i̩̥̰̼̬͕ͪ̄ͧ̑ͩ͗s̙͇̬̮̖̳̰̋̌̈́͆̊ ̣͖͓̯ͫ̉̆̋ͫ͆̅d̳͚̪̖͕͉͈͂ͥͬ̾̂̉͐e̓a̦̥̘̹̺̳̬ͩ̑͊̇̓̒̚d̮͎͈ ̈́̒d͚ͤ̀͗ó͈̠̮̥̙͚̃ͬe̒̑̇͐̐́ͧs͇̰̹͈̖̜̹ͩ͋͗ͬ ͓̹̪ͭ̾ͅn̠̲̠̰̲̥̏o̳̫̿ͮ̉̈͆t͖̘̝̙͕̲̹̋͛ͨ̀̾ ̱̮̲́̈́ͯͥ͂̄ͅeͣt̪̠͕̏ͅe̜͈ͬ͐ͧr͔̳̳̼̦͎͐͛́ͦ̿ṉ͍ā̍̏̄͗l̥̤͎̮͔͌̍ ͍͕̠͙̠̞̇ͯ̎̂̈l͓̻̩̊̄ị̘̫̻͋̉͑e͕͎̠
̞̲͖̤̟̊̎̈́A̓͒͛n̻̮̖̓̀̊ͬͧͬd̤̂̐ͅ ̲̺̝̣̺̞̩ͩ͆̿ͮͣ̋͑ȋ̲̣̲͚̥͉͉n ̹̅̓͒͒̓̈́̆s͍̦̹̯̜̤̈́́͛͂ț͙̗̮̈̐ͯ̊r̺̖̱̰͓͙̟ͣ̽̓̍a̲̱̺̰̝͎ͫͩͣͮ͆̀̚n̰͍̘̼͓͒ͮg͙͎̫̹͓̫̳͊e͈̳͍̳̯ͮ ̅ͥ͊̈̃ͭa͔̭͖̘̻͈̭ͧ͂̐e̻̳̞ͬͮ͑̐̉o̖̫͚̤̭̳ͨ̇ͫn͙͈̟̿̎̐̿͗̓s̱̝̦̤̹̪̟̋̏̊ ͔̆̈̊̊͛͋e̙̥͚̩͇̔ͭ̿̈v̟̣̟̱̮͎̜ê̪̤̤͖̖̮ͦ̃͆̍̍ͣn͍͖̲̗ͩ̓ͥ ͔̻̻d̺̉̌̚e̥͍̩̭̺̅ͭ̏a̖̤̫̮̮̼ͪͪ͆ͅt̮͔̼h ̝ͤ̔͒͑͋m͔͖ͬͪͦ̓̇̓a͚͕̰y͇ͮ́͗ ̦̠̺̰̓ͦ̆̑͋d͔͇͙͍̄͊̈ͤ͋i̱̺̮̫̊ē̼͓̱͇̖̪͉̚.̥̱͇̪̭͐ͅ

Life Moves On

So my last living grandparent passed on this past weekend.  Oddly, I don’t feel any different than I did before, and looking back, that was the case with all my grandparents.  This seemed odd to me at first, considering all the folks mourning, until I thought about it some, and I think there’s a few factors here, some of which deserve to be looked at.

First, there’s the matter of how often I interacted with them.  My grandparents on my Dad’s side moved several states away when he retired, and on top of that I was in college at the time.  As such, I barely saw them much after they moved out there before they passed on.

My grandparents on my mom’s side lived a lot closer, but they were still about a half hour to 45 minutes away, and combined with my usual business I didn’t see them much either.  I still going to have all the memories, but I hadn’t seen much of either before they passed on in the end.

What really then is the difference between moving out of touch somewhere and moving on from this life? Emotionally for me, I think that it feels like they just happened to move to somewhere where I can’t reach them is all, and they’re not truly gone.  It’s even in the phrase, passing on.

Which brings us to the second aspect, what death means.  For me death is an ending but also a new beginning.  There is a picture I commissioned before which unintentionally did a good job of bringing out that feeling.

1395159812.adalfyre_dekafox

The color pallette and lighting gave me a feeling of a old worn foxdragon moving on into the afterlife, but pausing to look back one last time at what he’s leaving behind.  When death comes naturally, as it did in all their cases, this is how I feel it should be.  A laying down of burdens, and of moving on to greater delights and serenity.

Which then comes back around to the third part of it all, mourning itself.  The funeral was a somber but not overly sad ceremony, but it did make me think.  A lot of times the sadness and such is a reflection on the people left behind looking on what they have lost, rather than a celebration of the life that person lived, or that they have been released form whatever pain and suffering they may have been experiencing.

Me, I’d think I’d prefer something more along the lines of a wake.  Celebrate the life they lived, and raise your glasses to what they’ve left behind.  Celebrate their life rather than mourn their death.

I think in the end that’s why I’m not too torn up about it all – they’ve moved on to Heaven or whatever the afterlife may hold, and they passed on when it was their time, a life fully lived.  Whether they’re 1200 miles away or a dimension away, they still exist in the hearts of every person who cared for them.  The body has been returned to the earth it came from, and their souls have moved on to the great beyond.

And someday, just like in the picture above, I will rejoin them.  Someday, in the sea of stars…

Commitments

Been a little while since my last post, but there hasn’t really been anything other than minor life updates that I felt were worth writing about, and I felt like just writing a few sentences would be a waste.  I’ve tried to keep up a blog before that petered out, and when I started this one I told myself I’d make sure that wouldn’t happen with this one.  It’s a commitment I still intend to keep, and actually that’s what the theme of this post will be revolving around.

Before I dive into that though I may as well mention those life updates.

First, in the matter of art. Besides the badge I’ve been waiting on, I’ve got 2 more adult pieces I’m currently waiting on.  One I’m not expecting anytime soon, as the artist both has school issues and issues with his tablet.  He’s done awesome work(both for me and others) so it’s worth waiting.  The other was more of an opportunity thing.

You see, I’ve been considering getting my reference sheet redone as there are a few things that need correcting now, so I’ve been keeping an eye out for artists I might like to do it.  Most of the ones that I feel would do me justice I haven’t gotten art from yet though, and ref sheets seem to typically run between $150-$200.  I’m not about to blow that much on an artist when I don’t know how I’ll look in their style, bits and all.  One of the artists I was eyeing though had an issue come up and opened emergency speedpaint commissions, so I jumped on that to see how it comes out.  One thing interesting is instead of a pose description, we gave them personality traits and reference sheets, and they go from there.  It’s not first-come-first-serve, though I am in the first round, so I’m not sure how soon they’ll get to me.

… And actually, you know what?  I just realized I do have a non-adult picture I can share, that I totally forgot about listing here!  When I was doing my ref sheet searching, I found another artist I liked had a couple commission spots open so I snagged a pic I’d been wanting: a nice flying picture.

Above The Clouds

Just look at that happy dragon!  Such a nice day to fly on~

I’ve got other reasons to be a happy dragon too.  Things are going great between my dragoness and I, and there is most definitely an us now.  Sunday for example we got to hang out together most of the day; playing cheezi, wandering around the Raglan art walk, and other such sundry things.  We were thinking about hitting the Fantasy Faire together this evening, but it’s a Tuesday, and that means Raid Night.

Since 2008, most of my Tuesday nights, Thursday Nights, and Sunday Nights have been spent with 9 other folks in WoW fighting internet demons and greyhawking their bodies.  The guild I was with in Wrath raided up until the xpac changeover, as it took us a long time to get the Lich King down.  Then in Cata I raided up until near the end, but in Heroic at the end, only taking a break about a month before the new expac came out.  Now with WoD not coming out until Fall, unlike previous xpacs I’m feeling pretty done with WoW until new content comes. Most of my current raiding guild feels the same, so as of last week we’re done with progression until nerfs or new content comes.  As a guild we’ll probably faceroll through some old content and faff around still, but I’ll be taking a break from WoW and canceling my sub for the first time since I started in a couple weeks, once my current time runs out.

Now I’ve got no idea who’s going to show up tonight or what we’re going to do, but I’d honestly prefer to wander the Faire with my dragoness, barring a few specific runs which I don’t know if we’ll be doing.  I also feel a bit bad about putting the raid over her suggestion, but I’d basically already committed to showing up, so I’m going to see what my guild’s doing and decide then.

You see, once I commit to something I always do my best to follow through on it.  I’ve long admired the idea of honor and I try my best to live to my word if I give it.  Because of this, I don’t always jump up and volunteer or can waffle on things, because I know what committing to it means.  It also means I sometimes get annoyed when I get voluntold to do something and it’s something I can’t do(which happens sometimes at work) or if other people don’t keep up on their commitments when they should be able to- especially when it affects me too.

Of course there’s times when it’s unavoidable, due to conflicts that come up later, as in the case of tonight.  In those cases, all I can do is prioritize.  In general, Most people say(and I agree) that RL > online. This makes sense, as typically anything RL can have an immediate effect on you, while most online things are either for entertainment or something that is not immediate.  Especially when you’re on-call – after all, work is what keeps the bills paid!

The distinction blurs though in my opinion when real people are involved.  A WoW raid team is more like a sports hobby team than a bunch of guys getting together to shoot the shit.  If you don’t show up, it’s not just you, but 9 or more other people that are affected, that are just as real as you despite their distance.  In the same vein, my dragoness owns my heart fully, and whether she’s by my side or several hundred miles away doesn’t matter in that respect.  I’m still hers, and she still has the same place in my life as any other guy’s girlfriend would have in his.

A second layer though then adds on to this: lost opportunities.  Every moment we live, we’re deciding to do one thing, and losing the opportunity to do something else.  Every tick of the clock, another slice of our time in this world spent.  Tock, a doorway closes and another opens.  When we choose to do something, we’re giving up whatever else we could have done.  So, opportunities that may not come again should have priority, as once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Looking at tonight as an example, while my dragoness is important to me, we could wander the Faire just as easily tomorrow as today, as far as I am aware.  Raid night is every week, but with dropping my sub  I probably won’t be running this stuff with these guys for a while.  On the other hand, if it’s something I’m not interested in running, like Cata content, I’d much rather be with my dragoness instead.  In other words, this time there’s no easy answer, and there won’t always be either.

I don’t really have anything else to add, so I’ll leave it at that, and see how things work tonight.  Tomorrow might be a better night anyways, as we have a couple gigs tonight with maybe an hour between them, but we’ll see!

 

In this Serenity… and Pride

1395159812.adalfyre_dekafoxSo since I don’t know how long it’ll be until I have another picture to post, I figured I might as well post this one now… but I also had another reason to bring it up.

Adalfyre had some bills come up earlier than expected, and had to open emergency commissions, so I hopped on that to help and snag another picture in the process.  At the time, I didn’t have anything in specific in mind apart from the general pose, and she produced the above very nice pic.

Since then however, the more I’ve looked at it, the more I’ve got feelings of serenity and passing on from it.  The best way I can describe the imagery it’s evoking now is it’s like a spirit form of myself is  pausing in the fields of green to take one last look back at life/mortality, before moving onto whatever awaits me next.  There’s no one thing I can point to, but it’s some combination of all the individual elements that combine to give this impression of an aged (fox)dragon passing into the Light.

It’s all completely unintentional, but it works so perfectly that it may as well have been planned that way.

When my life does eventually end, this is how I hope it goes.  A peaceful passing, pausing one last time to look back at all I have done and seen; one last view of the mortal world as my spirit and soul takes its true shape and reunites in Heaven with my friends and loved ones that had gone before me.

Yes, I said Heaven.  What’s wrong with believing in the trinity and believing in my own draconity at the same time?  There’s nothing that contradicts the two, as far as I’m concerned.  If God wished to put the soul of a dragon in the body of a human, I’m sure He has his reasons, even if we are unable to comprehend them ourselves at this time.

Before anyone start throwing Bible quotes around, let me remind them that the current English versions of the Bible are a translation of a translation, with potentially even more changes on top of that.  Take an English text, translate it through German and Japanese and then back to English, and see how accurate it is.  In fact, there’s even one obvious example:  “Thou shalt not kill.”  The word that “kill” was translated from apparently, if properly translated according to our current understanding, is actually “murder.”

There’s also all the people who mouth Jesus’s commandment to “love one another as yourselves” and all the times he preached similar messages, then turn around and use his name to preach hate against others.

Should I add that a lot of the current imagery of Heaven actually comes from Dante’s Inferno and similar works, and never actually from any version of the Bible?

But that’s all a topic for another time.  The other thing I was wanting to cover is something completely different, and it’s not a man with three buttocks.

Last night, my raid group and I finally got our next Heroic boss down in SOO in WoW!  We’d finally gotten to work on it in earnest this week and last, and we ended up switching to a single-heals strategy which was what netted us the kill.  Tuesday, we were getting him to 10% before the wipe.  Last night, we got him to 1% and 3%, then finally got the kill.

I have to tell you, after working on that boss a while, there was definitely an adrenaline rush when we got him close, hoping and praying internally for the kill.  That’s part of what raiding is all about –  those edge kills in progression, busting your butt to clean up the strategy and play and push those last few centimeters for that first kill.

When we were getting close, I starting to feel a bit worn, so I decided to throw on a little music to help, and funnily enough, the two songs worked out almost perfectly in theme and fight length.  Just Live More, the op to Kamen Rider Gaim, and Eternal Saint from Saint Seiya Omega.

If I start the first song during the pull countdown, the main music kicks in a few seconds into the pull.  The time when stuff just starts getting busy coincides with the lyric “It’s survival, you got to move” which describes that fight to a T.  Then that wraps up and segues into Eternal Saint when things are starting to get heavy.  That one is all instrumental, so there’s no lyrics to potentially distract you, while it swells up all orchestral and inspirational, and it was fairly close to wrapping up at the moment of the kill.  It just felt like a perfect match.

As for the loot?  Nothing dropped for priests and my coin roll was gold.  But like another raid member said, “I ain’t even mad.”  If we did it once, we’ll do it again, and there’s plenty more bosses waiting to have their faces melted.

 

Wants

“What do you want?”

As Babylon 5 demonstrated in its stories, this can be just as dangerous a question as “Who are you?” albeit for different reasons.  Unlike the post on that question however, I could not find a good quote to show this.  Still, it is worth examining, as unless you know what you want, you won’t know where you are in life in regards to that.  Really, it gives you a set of goals to work towards.

I suppose, for me what I most want(and is actually achievable) is: financial stability, a nice place to live, and someone who cares for me and that I care for.  Of course, there’s lesser wants, and unacheivable(in this world) dreams, but this is the foundation that underlies it all in adult life, and what ultimately probably most people probably desire.

Financial stability is, in the current world, simultaneously the easiest and the hardest to achieve.  My definition for this is no debt, a steady and secure job that pays well enough to live on, and savings to cover any emergencies.  The hardest part of this is finding a job, especially with the way the economy cratered several years ago.  Once that step is past however, the rest all fall into place like magnets lining up.

For me at least, this is one that I have managed to wrangle for myself.  From the time I graduated, I made paying off my debt my highest priority, and was fully debt-free after the first year of my current job.  This job is also a full employee position, not contracted, so from all appearances it is as stable and secure as I’ll find anywhere.  The savings is a natural consequence of both those put together, as anything I don’t spend can get put away rather than be eaten by interest on debt.  (Of course, there’s the issue of inflation eating at the savings, and the idea behind investing debt so overall you make money with inflation and interest accounted for, but that is a lot more complicated, and beyond the scope of where I’m looking at the moment).

Now the second thing, a nice place to live, is actually fairly easy to get.  The hard part is to achieve it without compromising the financial stability above.  Currently, I’ve been eyeing a couple places not too far from work; one rented, and one that I would have to enter a mortgage for, which means more debt.  Now a mortgage isn’t necessarily a debt=bad situation despite a kneejerk reflex to consider it thus, but it’s also a very long term commitment.  Rent, while effectively throwing money away, also preserves a certain freedom that owning property does not.  I also have a promotion at work that I am still waiting on(manpower situation, but suffice it to say I understand why and am content to wait), and I’m sort-of holding off on rocking the boat until that goes through and I see if my financial situation changes any.  I do know whatever place I get will need a dedicated room to be a library/collection room/study.

The third is the hardest, because it depends 100% on other people.  You can love someone with all your heart, but if they don’t care equally for you, it means jack shit, if you’ll pardon my french, and I’ve learned this from painful personal experience.  There’s millions and millions of people out there, but finding the ones that you click with is still difficult, especially if you’re an introvert of any sort.  If you’ve read my last few posts, it should be fairly obvious where I’m currently standing on this point by now.

Now if we step into the realm of the unachievable, if consequences do not apply and you discount anything that does not fall into the above three(for example, asking for $$$$$$ falls under financial stability) then being able to become my dragon self would definitely rank up there, especially if I could go back and forth ala the “Dragon and the George” series of books.  If it were permanent, then there’d be other factors I’d have to consider, among them if I’d be alone, and what would become of the people I care about – but that’s something to expand on in a different post.

Another big one would be exploring the universe, but I wouldn’t want to do it by myself.  All the worlds out there we have yet to see or discover,mankind’s true steps out into the great darkness; there’s so much envisioned by science fiction that I would love to see before I depart this mortal coil, but the way the world turned inward once the space race was over makes it seem like it may not happen before we wipe ourselves out.

Then on the other end of the scale is the minor things.  Like for example, I collect Transformers. As for a while it looked like my budget might be changing, I spent some time going over all the toys that came out before I was financially independent and figuring out which figures I still wanted – then went and bought almost all of them. At the point the only figures I want and don’t have are either so expensive I can’t justify it to myself for what it is, or aren’t out yet.

And so, like the other B5-style post asked, what do you want?  What are you doing to get that?  What progress have you made, and what lies ahead yet to do to take care of those wants?

Just something to think about.

Head vs Heart

Things seem to be going well right now in many ways.  There’s actually someone that I think might be into me and that I might be into.  I’m playing things slow and easy right now, just letting things happen at their own pace and see where they lead.  If it works out, great, and if it doesn’t, oh well, though I admit I am hoping for the former.

Being back in this sort of situation however has pointed out some things to me that I never looked at all that closely in the past.  Namely, my head and my heart tend to be at odds with each other, when left to myself.

I think a lot of this comes back to the way my personality is.  Besides anything draconic, I’m a engineer; a problem-solver.  I analyze problems, and look logically at what’s going on and why.  It’s part of why my favorite toys growing up were things like Legos and Transformers, and why when I started working I gravitated towards troubleshooting.

Okay, maybe I don’t 100% work off logic, as sometimes my intuition will kick in and get me to a solution even if I can’t quite articulate how I came up with it, but close enough for government work, as the saying goes.

Anyways, it’s all fine and dandy in the professional world, but my mind is one of those that only seems to have two gears: idle and GO. So, when sitting around with nothing specific, it tends to wander to random subjects, and off kicks the analyzer.  Again, not an issue if I’m working on a story I’m writing or trying to figure out some point of something I’ve read recently.  NOT a good thing however if my mind wanders towards things I’m emotionally involved with.

That’s where the second part kicks in.  I’m not sure whether it’s just some small masochistic part of me, or it comes from that engineering background where you have to examine all possible outcomes and risks, but I’ve tended to worry at times over various things.  Did I lock the door when I left?  Is there something I forgot or am forgetting that I needed to do?  Harmless with minor things, but not a good idea when applied to matters of the heart.

So this time, I’m actively working to keep that in check.  I’m sure I’ve made mistakes in the past with some of my ex-gfs due to this, but I don’t intend to anymore.  Life is too short to spend worrying myself over imagined things, when there’s plenty of good things and people right there in front of me.  If things don’t work out this time, it damn well won’t be because I let my head dictate terms to my heart.

On the other hand, I’m not the kid I was at 18, when I let my feelings blind me to everything until I got the proverbial bap on the nose with a newspaper. Going to the opposite extreme is just as bad, as it can easily lead to heartache and being walked on more often than the doormat in front of the Sears tower.  My heart won’t be leading my head around on a leash either.

Instead, what I need to find and keep is a balance between the two.  Thoughts and feelings, working in harmony.  Sounds nice, but it’s a bit harder than you’d think, and I don’t mean only me.  Emotion overriding logic is why we can end up with crazy laws/lawmakers, but pure logic leads to neglecting the personal sides of matters.

So where am I going with this?  I dunno, but writing it out tends to help me think through things like this without going into a descending spiral of navel-gazing.  Putting it in order for other people helps me put it in order for myself, sometimes.

Sometimes, all we need to do is just to take a long, hard look at ourselves and recognize where we need to grow.  Then, do so.  It may not be simple, and it may not be easy, but the rewards can be worth it.

Labels Are For Boxes

I’ve put this off twice now, so I suppose it’s time to actually discuss it.  As I stated in my very first post here, labels are a shorthand, to allow us to quickly get across concepts and ideas that may otherwise take a lot longer to make clear.  They are at their heart a distillation of the idea behind a concept into a single word or set of words.  As they are shorthand,  however they are also imprecise and their meaning depends on the experiences and opinions of the ones using it and the ones hearing it, which is why using them improperly can lead to issues.

Let’s start off with a simple example: secretary vs administrative assistant.  On the surface, they’re both job titles with basically the same duties. The latter however sounds a lot more important, while the former carries connotations for most of society that suggest it’s an easy and not-very-important job.

For another example, take the term fag.  Used in normal company it’s considered very offensive, and demeaning of gay people.  For someone who hangs out on the chans however, it’s basically lost all meaning in that regard, and people tend to just throw it around carelessly.  For example, calling someone a newfag on /m/ just means they’re a newbie, but if you said that among a random group of people, they’d be offended and misinterpret your meaning completely.

The most dangerous aspect of labels is that you can use them to organize and compartmentalize things and people.  This can easily lead to dismissal of ideas, or attacking people because of it

One hot-button example of this in the US is the Islam religion.  A small sect of extremists causes issues, but they claim the muslim label with the same right that Joe down the street claims it as a worshipper of Islam.  Then you take your average person that doesn’t care to educate themselves on issues – all they care to know is “Muslims are ‘tacking mah ‘MURRICA”  They automatically put anyone who has taken that label in the same box – that of extremist religious zeaolot.  If they happen to know anyone that doesn’t fit their mental image, they just write it off as an exception and continue dumping everyone in the Box of Evil.

To put it more plainly, labels encourage you to stop thinking.  For a lot of people, the shorthand that they represent becomes the entirety of their meaning.  To be honest, it’s the “stop thinking” part that makes the whole aspect dangerous.

For example, take the possibility of a particle physicist who also believes in Intelligent Design.  He may be extremely smart.  He may have discovered what appears to be evidence of some major discovery, such as a stable wormhole.  However, because he believes in ID, people put him in their mental “religious kook” box and ignore whatever he may have come up with.

It happens all the time if you look for it.  Conservative.  Liberal. Muslim. Creationist. Libertarian. GEEWUNNER. Furry. Feminist.  All labels that people may take up for perfectly valid reasons, but also labels that can carry misunderstanding and drama, when used among some crowds, due to each side thinking it means something different.

I guess what it comes down to is be careful how you use them.  Educate yourself on what they actually mean, not what a “news” program after ratings declares them to be.  Think, and learn.