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Musing on the Oracle

This morning's random ride-to-work play list had a sort of theme. It started with 3 Doors Down's Running Out Of Days
And all these little things in life they all create this haze
There’s too many things to get done, and I’m running out of days
There was Sir Bob's We Are The World, which I didn't even realize was on my phone. My anthem came up, New Model Army's Before I Get Old
Live real fast, still not die
Never get old
This was followed by Peter Gabriel's Biko which is still emotional after all these years, and just as relevant now.
You can blow out a candle
But you can't blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher
I had to think then. To many people that I know now, Steve Biko is just a part of history, if they've ever heard of him. He was more than that to me when I was a teenager.

That was a long time ago. I've become tired & cynical. All of my edginess, if any is left, is in the areas of play & personal interaction. All the people I know now are "safe". Even the burners aren't what I'd call radical, though I admire their skills. I used to hang out with bikies, gang members, radicals, anarchists, criminals (the lines blur all the time in those groups). I used to bump fists with convicted murderers. Not that I want to do it again, but I used to haul body bags from helicopters. I used to fly round the country as part of an aerobatic team. Now possibly the most edgy thing in my life is having friends who are sex workers.

In many ways this is a good thing. I'm probably not physically capable of leaping from a 25ft roof, rolling, and coming up into a run without pause anymore. I probably can't take down heavier and stronger men with speed, skill & ruthlessness anymore. I'm out of practice, lazy, and unfit. It's good I am in a safe environment because I probably couldn't handle an unsafe one anymore.

But it does leave me feeling that there's something missing and I should be doing something about it. The first step though must be to deal with that lack of fitness. If only to better survive the coming zombie apocalypse.

Funny really, one of the reasons I did what I did around combat training when younger was that I fully expected there to be a nuclear holocaust, primarily affecting the Northern hemisphere, and I did what I could to be "ready" to survive it. Now it's zombies.

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Jun. 7th, 2012

This article ('It Evolved Into Birds' on MotherBoard by Claire Evans) asked several cyber-punk writers "What happened to cyber-punk?"
Several people were flippant and seemingly didn't care to give a real answer, and others made the obvious statement that it's tropes got appropriated by the mainstream. But I want to give my answer, which I believe isn't quite like the others. To me, cyber-punk went from being a literary genre to being an emerging reality.

Anonymous, Wikileaks, Lulzsec, the Occupy movement, the Arab Spring, to name just the big ones everyone knows, all reflect the core of the genre. Cyber-warfare teams are a reality on all sides of the law and the world. Physical military attacks where the primary objective is to access a data net have already occurred many times. A private security company is the second largest company (by number of employees) in the world. Corporate armies abound. Security breaches make front page news regularly. Corporate attempts to regulate the net keep coming.

Sure we can't upload minds yet, and we don't wave Wintermute level AI's yet, but we do have swarms of bug-size reconnaissance drones, intelligent limbs, direct neural interfaces (admittedly limited use at present), plug-in cyber-replacements for eyes & organs (if you can afford them), we have citizen surveillance, we have media stars like Jack Barron (from Norman Spinrad's proto-cyber-punk novel "Bug Jack Barron", I could go on & on.

And the core ideas of freedom from corporate controls, of being allowed to follow your own path, dress style, gender-preference, belief system, music, etc. are now endemic in "western" culture (even though violently opposed in some places) and are making huge in-roads into non-"Western" cultures as the net spreads ideas, images, desires, philosophies, movements, anger, support, propaganda, and anything we can digitize.

What happened to cyber-punk ? It moved from theory into practice.

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Sister of Night

In the heat of the night
In the heat of the day...

The Sister's Dominion had just begun playing in my ears, when, like an apparition from long gone nights evoked by that song, she appeared in front of my morning-addled senses.

Petite, in a black leather bustier, only just concealing a bright red lacy bra, tattooed flowers spiralling round her wrists. Dark black hair with a hint of colour, pinned up to reveal her pale white shoulders and a single pair of butterfly wings tattooed on her shoulder blades. The obligatory, over-large and unneccessary, sun-glasses, and a cigarette, completed the gothic fairy look.

Sounds like an opening for a story doesn't it?

But actually that's exactly what happened this morning as I went to get my coffee.

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DreamWatch : Kissing & Training

Last night, I think primarily because of the heat, I slept poorly, and thus remembered my dream

The scene was the kitchen area of a camp-site, like Brookfields, during something like Hydra or Chimera, and people had gathered for breakfast.

We were kissing hungrily, ignoring the stares of those around us, even though I knew that I should not be kissing you where others might see. I didn't care, and it seemed neither did you, there had been something more that night, and we were beyond caring about social norms, basking in each others company.

There were nervous attempts at jokes from those around us, about us "practicing for our character roles". Some acted disgusted, some looked jealous, others just found it funny but it was obvious everyone knew that what was happening in front of them would have significant consequences to the social group and our other relationships.

Later that day, everyone prepared for sleep, and somehow whatever had happened to the original pair of us appeared to have infected others. A whole group of us placed our sleeping bags in a pile along with some mattresses and jumped into them together. There were limbs, torsos, hands, feet, and other parts, all touching and moving together. It was very difficult to sleep that way.

Later, I awoke, and the camp for LARPs had somehow morphed into a training center, and it was my first day on the job. I stumbled into it, hungover, wearing only bath robe & shorts, looking very Dude-like, to discover that some-one had scheduled me to run a course on Digital Communication Technology first thing in the morning that I had not even read yet.

I went to the class room, and, in my bath robe, apologized to the three or four students who were already there, saying there must be some sort of scheduling mistake, and that I'd sort it out, and headed off to the staff room.

There I found all my colleagues from when I was at Software Education, along with the writer of the course. When I approached him about it, he told me that it would be easy, I knew all the stuff in the course already, and I could easily handle it. I restrained myself from punching the smug-looking bastard in the face and told him that while that might be true, it would have been nice to have been told about the course before breakfast this morning...

At this point I woke up to find that both the side of my face and the top of my left foot were aching as if they'd been punched or stood upon, respectively.

And no, I'm not going to run the first part of my dream as a LARP at Hydra. Though I suppose it's possible the Slash LARP might head that way.

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Been wandering around today as if I have a concussion, finding it hard to think straight, to remember thing to get things done. I've been not very observant, being surprised by things I should have seen earlier, etc. and my head has felt woolly and on the verge of illness. I've pushed on through it, getting a new hoover for half price at Farmers, and number of little things done round the house. But if this keeps up, I'm not going to be up to any new year partying. Which would be a shame, as I have many invitations.

I have got nowhere near as much done this week as I had hoped, I suspect mainly because of the lure of Skyrim, finding GOG, and the fact that a lot of what I want to get done involved sorting stuff of mine, and that is always distracting, as one discovers something one hasn't actually read or looked at in detail yet, or going off on tangents associated to what one finds.

For instance, finding GOG was a result of trying to throw out ancient photocopied manuals for ancient PC games, that I had copied back when I was in the air force in the eighties. I reasoned to myself that if I could find online PDF copies of these manuals I didn't need to keep the stack of photocopies. Searching on the game manuals led me to a link that described how GOG had bundled Wing Commander I & II, with no DRM, in a form that would run on Windows along with official PDF copies of the manuals, and the original "Bible" distributed to those working on the Wing Commander projects. At GOG I discovered several free games I remembered and found myself buying several of their games that I missed being able to play on more modern machines at half proice because of their holiday sale...

That became some tangent, huh? All from trying to throw out a small pile of paper.
See why I don't get anything done?

There has been an awful lot of linkage and discussion about geeks, depression, and Asperger's, on the web recently, culminating in the inclusion of suicide in Violet Blue's latest column due to the suicide of one of Diapsora's founders. It's interesting, I have never, ever, considered suicide during my life, because it always felt to me that doing so would be to admit defeat, and letting the bastards win. "Do not go gentle into that good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light" has been my motto with regard to death ever since I read that poem. It's stuck with me since school, from the one few high school English syllabus parts I really got into, the war poets.

I've had situations in which suicide would have been considered a potential option by some people, so much so that I've even had people worried for me in that way, but the closest I have come is that potentially fatal recklessness one gets when one just doesn't care, and I guess I have just been lucky when in those moods

Oh, I got my packet of random shirts from Tee Fury today too. It was full of win. There was only one shirt I had to look up to figure out what it was about, and having done so, I might be forced to give it to someone who likes bacon.

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Back to the Egg

As most of you will know I hit fifty last Friday. This led to a bit of retrospective thinking about my life, which in turn led me to asking my other if she had any photos of me as a baby as it would be nice to see them. They arrived today, and I decided to scan them so my other could have the originals back, and then I thought there might be some amusement to be gained by posting them on here.

My mother didn't have very many photos, but you have to remember that back then getting film developed was quite expensive, at least in comparison to wages. People actually got employed to develop films in local chemists. My mother was the daughter of a "downstairs" lady, and as I was born out of wedlock as the result of an affair my teenage mother had with an older and married naval officer, our little family, consisting of me, my mother, her mother, and her mother's live-in companion, were on the poor end of the scale when I was born.
Image Heavy, click to see pictures!Collapse )

Well, I hope some of you enjoyed that little glimpse into my early childhood. I certainly enjoyed putting it together, being all reminiscy and stuff.

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Fifty Years On

Last Friday I turned fifty.

The previous night, I had attended Thursday Night Curry, starting in the Fork & Brewer with adrexia, Joel, Jacob, & Martin. seraphs_folly joined us at Dawaat, along with others regular TNC-ers.

I'd taken my birth day off of work, after seraphs_folly expressed surprise that I hadn't already arranged to. I had intended just to go to work as normal and head into the party after work. Had I done so, I might have gotten to the party on time! As it was I slept in at seraphs_folly's place.

When she awoke I was presented with a marvelous gift, two beautiful limited edition resin Studio McVey miniatures that had had been masterfully painted by Rachel (of Iron Halo. The first is "ar Fiach" a modern/steampunk fantasy avian elf creature with a musket perched on a brick chimney, sculpted by Yannik Hennebo, and the second is a lovely rendition of "Pan" sculpted by Jaques-Alexandre Gillois.



Yes, those are tiny naked green fairies in the Pan picture, and while ar Fiach is wearing a fancy jacket (probably stolen from a washing line somewhere) she sure ain't wearing a shirt!

I think you'll all agree Rachel has definitely done these sculpts justice. She went town on adding fairy forest detail to the "Pan" base, and added an entire roof to "ar Fiach", as you''ll see if you go and look at the originals on the Studio McVey site (I can't provide a direct link because they have a silly Flash-based site). I spent some time examining the detail on these miniatures in sunlight. I would have loved to show them off to people at the party, but I was afraid of potential damage. Not that anyone would do so intentionally, of course, but they are resin and very fragile. Anyway, you really need sunlight, or really good artificial light, and a very close look to see the detail, so photos are probably more useful to get the full effect.

Following that lovely start to the day, we toddled down to Caffiend's in Petone for a late brunch, where I made my first mistake of the day, leaving my Samsung Galaxy SII sitting on the table when we left. Of course I didn't realize this until somewhat later.

After returning from Petone, my lady retired for further rest and I proceeded to play Borderlands on my Envy17, as I had recently purchase the PC version complete with all downloadable content for the minimal fee of $7.49 during Steam's Halloween sale.

It was then that I made my second mistake, of not keeping a proper eye on the passing time, and suddenly realized I should have been at the Fork & Brewer five minutes ago. It was also at this stage that I realized I no longer had my cell phone, as it is my primary timing mechanism. Then had to wait while my lady got up, as I was also supposed to have woken her with time to get up, so in the end I didn't get to the bar until almost ten to six. Sorry to keep people waiting!

Despite the late start, Part One was good, with people from mutilple "families" turning up. Certain people were being naughty in the corner of the booth, not that I minded, but as a result certain ladies might be interested in the picture that wyldcard pxted to me... Moving on, I received a number of presents, including a dice bag complete with dice flogger, a book on bootleg whisky during WWII, and some white curacao from my D&D dungeon-mistress.

The Fork & Brewer's beer selection was good and I discovered a couple of new brews that I will drink again, though I stuck mainly with the good old Emerson's Bookbinder.

I would have stayed longer in the bar, but some people wanted actual food ( I don't know why, it just soaks up the alcohol quicker!), so we cruised off to a Korean place Sophie knew which was too small/full, and ended up instead at a nearby Vietnamese place.

Got back home not too late and fell asleep.

Saturday morning I got up early, as I'd gone to sleep pretty early for me, and then played Borderlands again until seraphs_folly woke up, when I got showered & dressed and headed down to Caffiends and luckily recovered my Galaxy, did some shopping on the way back, and then waited until it was time to go to Yum Cha at Dragons with the family.

My mother and sisters came down from Levin, the first time I'd seen them in quite some time, Ele & Ben came over also, but the big surprise was ferrouswheel turning up with tatnja, all the way from Hong Kong! Thanks for that Joel, it was a nice surprise, and I'm sure others appreciated seeing you too! :)

seraphs_folly tells me Ben tried all of the strange foods, and thomasdequinc seemed to get on well with Ben also. The food was good (I <3 coconut buns), but I had to sneak into Joe's Garage afterwards for some real coffee.

Then it was back to Harbourview for more Borderlands before needing to prepare for Part Two. Yes I know I should have been playing SkyRim, but that would have involved taking my PS3 round too, and anyway seraphs_folly's TV isn't big enough. *grin*. I have actually shown great restraint in not playing SkyRim over the last few days. I think it's wearing thin though, maybe I'll give in tonight.

I put out all the snacks with assistance from others at the the flat, and the first selection of drinks, and then got a bit flustered as the first people were arriving as I had discovered the secondary hard-drive on my lap top, where the play list I had set up was stored, seemed to have failed. Anyone happen to have a spare 1TB laptop drive anywhere? Hopefully I haven't lost too much in that crash, as the first sign of the drive going was the back-up failing, and I thought it was the the back-up drive and it's drivers that was the problem initially, so I don't have a recent back-up of the drive.

Luckily all the actual music was on the main drive, and wyldcard expressed his love for 80's music, volunteering to be the de-facto DJ for the night, so we managed to work around the hardware issue.

More people arrived, and I got other presents including new music from panda_pitt booze of various varieties, including a nice looking Laphroiag, and books. tyellas insisted on feeding me a chocolate-coated strawberry, not that I needed much convincing.

I'm not sure what time I ended up getting into the spa, but it was after the first round of savouries, and there were a lot of other people already there when I got in. Obviously, one does not talk about the spa, but I feel it's OK to talk about a few fun things around the periphery, such as how evie_fae and jarratt_gray's choice of Bruichladdich Rocks</a> as a gift went down really well. Coming after the strong peatiness of the 16 yr-old Lagavulin (trust adrexia to go straight for the good stuff when sent out for another bottle!), it's easy to see why this spa event was particularly memorable.

The one draw-back of the spa is that there were people that I'd intended to talk to, that I never really got the chance to, and even some gifts that were left for me that I didn't get to thank people for in person. I know pombagira left me some witchy bath salts, so thanks for those, Polly! Apologies to anyone else I didn't manage to spend time with, and thanks for coming!I don't even know if any fire-spinning occurred out front, as had been rumoured to occur.

Once the spa party finished up (not sure when that happened, someone may be able to let me know) I found myself involved in a long session of interpretive dance with adrexia to the soundtrack of Bob Dylan's "Blood On the Tracks" (primarily). I'm sure we must have been amusing to those socializing in the kitchen, but it was a lot of fun, even if I am not the most co-ordinated of dancers, and the one or two lifts I attempted were abortive, despite adrexia's co-operation. I hope we didn't scare the hare too much. The dancing was eventually ended, I believe, by car pool people needing to leave, and I do not know if I said good-bye to all the people remaining, I was, after all, somewhat drunk.

After everyone left, I found myself lying in bed with seraphs_folly listening to songs on my Galaxy SII (Tori's Bells for Her seemed appropriately beautiful to my mood) whilst exchanging tweets and Facebook entries with other party-goers who had also not yet gone to sleep.

On waking in the morning I found my legs very weak and wobbly. I blame the combination of several hours soaking in hot water, followed by the interpretative dance. Overall though, I felt pretty good. My commiserations to those who did not, and/or who had to get up & go to work.

My lady & I got up relatively early, to head into town to pick up her latest cat from the airport, which had been kindly brought up from Christchurch by argentbear, whom it was good to catch up with during the car ride, and then did some party clean-up.

After I got back to Wolf Castle I found a large pile of parcels had arrived while I'd been away, including a large order of RAFM miniatures that had been spending several months making it's way toward me across the sea, so before crashing I unpacked and processed some of that stuff. My lounge really looks like I've only just moved in now. So many figures, so little time.

To sum up though, I have fun memories from a great weekend into which many people put effort to make it lovely and memorable. Thanks to all, though especially thanks to seraphs_folly for hosting us and transporting me when I was drunk, and arranging beautiful gifts, and being accepting of me sharing significant & meaningful times with others. Thanks to those others, and to all, for your hugs, kisses, gifts of song and joy, your presence, your assistance when needed, your energy, and your love.

I am now fifty, but I've had a spring in my step on the way to work this week, and am not at all feeling old, because of you all. <3

I'll leave you with a song from the party play-list that is one of my favourites, from Simple Minds, the title of which I think sums up my attitude at present : Alive & Kicking

You turn me on, you lift me up
And like the sweetest cup I'd share with you
You lift me up, don't you ever stop, I'm here with you

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Bliss Stage

"I'm an Eager Young Soldier!"

"You don't need to worry about me. Those aliens won't stand a chance. Bring'em on!"

Personality:As an Eager Young Soldier, you're still a novice ANIMa pilot, but excited to do your part in the war. You difficult history has toughened you and your fascination with violence drives you, but your determination has yet to be tested in a real war. Your heart is filled with anger and passion.

Advice: Relax. Regardless of what's happened to you in the past, don't be so afraid of being hurt that you don't make new friends. You've got a wealth of experience and knowledge, but that's all wasted if you don't share it with the people who need it. If you open up to the world just a little bit, who knows what might happen?

Which Bliss Stage Pilot are you?
Bliss Stage

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Para-sailing in Paradise

Yesterday turned into the least boring** day I have spent here so far.

The day was horribly hot and bright, but I allowed myself to be dragged out to brunch overlooking the ocean, and other than the amount of interest the ants found in my legs, it was quite nice sitting in a little shaded gazebo drinking pineapple juice and eating pancakes.

Later I was also convinced to go swimming in the ocean, and to go para-sailing, which I have to say was absolutely terrifying. Being strapped into a harness that is old & worn, and then being dangled over shark-infested waters several hundred feet up with nothing but the skill of a bored boat-driver keeping you from crashing into the hard water and being drowned by the parachute canopy (they didn't give us knives for cutting our way out of the parachute and it's lines, and we weren't wearing quick release harnesses either) is not my idea of fun.

Possibly it's because I know far too much about what happens when you hit the water in a parachute from training in the Air Force. Possibly it's because the people running the operation actually forgot to put us in harnesses in the first place, and I had to remind them. Possibly it's because it felt like I was going to fall out of the harness at any moment, and I spent the entire time I was up in the air trying not lean forward too far. Anyway, I doubt I'm going to do that particular trip again.

I will admit that in the brief moments I managed to distract myself from the terror, the view was wonderful, and the soaring swooping motions the parachute would make as the wind changed and the boat driver adjusted for it, were great fun. I found the driver's skill at being able to winch us in and land us standing on the deck of the boat impressive.

After having survived that, I needed a drink, and my lady bought me a "bananarama", something quite alcoholic with bananas in it, that may or may not have been a political comment, and was accompanied by deep fried bananas and ice cream. I chased that with a big glass of pineapple juice to deal with dehydration.

This was followed by another dunking in the ocean to cool off, as all that flying around had resulted in quite a bit of heat being captured my skin. Playing in the ocean is a lot of fun here, as long as you avoid all the wild-life.

After that we crashed for a few hours back in our room.

We got up at around 7pm and walked to the resort next door for dinner at Cross. Cross is the most expensive of the restaurants attached to the Raddisson, It's run by Richard Cross, an ex-Christchurch chef, and I can heartily recommend it. Every course was superb, from the ciabatte garlic bread entree, thru the beef main, to the kava ice cream dessert. The beef was probably the best I have ever had, cooked perfectly even though it was inches thick, served with cubes of a wonderful cheese, shiitake mushrooms, & potatoes au gratin. The kava ice cream was presented with a tower of spun green toffee almost as thin as candy floss, home made marshmallows, and a pina colada to wash it down. My lady had a huge Akaroa salmon steak, and their "chocaholics" dessert, both platters being presented in such wonderful style, I wished Id brough my camera with me to photograph them.

The service was superb also. My lady asked for water melon juice, and though they didn't have it on the menu, they came back with freshly crushed water melon in a glass. Naturally the meal cost more than most, but in this case, I think the meal was totally worth the price.

Today we woke up late. I haven't bothered with any breakfast as yet. Weather outside is a bit oppressive.

Only about another two weeks of this hell to endure before I get back home.

(**Yeah, I'm afraid beach resorts largely represent boredom to me. There's only so much of sitting around waiting for other people to do nothing I can take. Thank Gaia for Inotia 3 on my Galaxy SII. I also don't get this fascination that other people have for exposing themselves to the radiation from an un-shielded fusion reactor.)

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Roleplaying Nostalgia

Cetain people out there might remember the following concept album track listing, and go on a bit of a nostalgia trip, like I just did when I opened  a notebook found while sorting a pile of ancient junk.

  1. All Trolls Are Blue
  2. Unchivalrous War Machines
  3. Planet Dance
  4. How Many Emmeline's To A Grand-Pa?
  5. Hayworth Riding The Astrolabe
  6. One Red Dog Gives You Crayons
  7. Like A Telesocpe
  8. Holly "Sweeps" Over
  9. His Bat-Like Wings Covered In Snow
  10. Three Giant's Pass
  11. The Mountain Swallows The Ship
  12. Slidin', Ridin' Grand-Pa
  13. Under The Mountain
  14. See Them Crying Thru The Stone
  15. Drake Over Ice
  16. Lambeth Circles The Tower
  17. Nocker Knockin'
  18. Behind Enemy Lines  or  We're Not Fighing The Dwarves, the Dwarves Are Fighting Us!
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