Contains Spoilers for Star Trek Discovery through episode 14: The War Without, the War Within
So, I recently decided to re-purpose my brassfrog.net domain for something roleplay related (project still in early progress, so no idea when it launches), which mean the whole two galleries I’d had up there aren’t posted anymore. So I’m moving those pictures here. I’ll make an effort to post more pictures here too, new stuff that hasn’t been posted anywhere yet. I got a bunch of stuff that I’ve never edited, as well as random crap on my phone. Since I can’t seem to follow through on writing here, maybe I can at least make the space useful for something.
These pictures were taken behind the deli I grew up going to regularly, where one of the houses with a backyard that was backed up to the parking lot behind the building had their passion flowers spilling over the wall. I couldn’t resist taking the pictures. These were taken on an old Casio point and shoot that was probably 3MP? Hella old. I still like the pictures.
So, the conversation in the writing slack I hang in can range from super serious to super silly. For your amusement, I’m going to share an example of the latter that spanned multiple channels this morning. All participants have given their permission for this to be shared.
It started in #wordcount:
[09:07] Oh hey! I missed word day
[09:08] pulls out her fountain pen and takes a fencing position
[09:08] I’ll fight you!
[09:08] Aw shit
[09:09] En garde!
[09:09] lunges, driving the sword pen fight into #random
[09:10] falls over a chair, dizzy from pushing through the channel membrane. Drops sword
[09:10] chases @misterroque into the channel, brandishing her fountain pen as if it is a sword
[09:11] kicks the sword away, and bops @misterroque on top of the head with the pen
[09:12] That’s one point for me.
[09:12] scurries under a table, whimpering pathetically
[09:14] uses confused sympathy as a distraction, reaches out and grabs dk from under the table, tripping her. Steals pen and runs into #general
[09:14] grabs the discarded sword and gives chase
[09:15] swings into the channel on a chandelier
[09:16] tries to get into a good fighting stance, carefully stepping around all of pathics birthday cakes
[09:17] throws pen like a knife at dk’s head as she lands from the chandelier
[09:21] ducks, the sharp nib of the pen leaving a slice across her forehead as she almost doesn’t duck fast enough
[09:22] gives chase, seeing her foe is unarmed save for his wits
[09:27] surprised the thrown pen didn’t finish her, roque falls back into an absurd pile of birthday cakes, sending collateral confectionery flying everywhere
[09:27] realizing he’s unarmed, he takes a candle, still somehow lit, and sets fire to the channel drapes
[09:28] Ooo, fire
[09:28] is dazzled
[09:29] flees into #ididathing closing the door behind him, attempting to seal dk in the burning channel
[09:30] remembers she’s supposed to be the second most responsible person in the slack, and the first most responsible is probably still sleeping off birthday celebration, so she should probably put out the fire
[09:31] drags out the firehose and rinses the channel clean
[09:32] comfortable in what he assumes is victory, roque begins grabbing handfuls of cake off his person and eating it
[09:32] sneaks in through the air vent
[09:33] nom nom nom
[09:38] silently sneakily sneaks up behind @misterroque and holds the sword to his throat
[09:38] Drop. That. Cake.
[09:41] swallows one last bite, then invokes Rob Roy and grabs the sword with his bare hand, cutting himself deeply but creating just enough space to escape. Flees into hatch leading down to #submissions
[09:42] takes the pool cover off the bog of eternal sadness that lives in this channel, setting a trap for dk
[09:44] takes a shortcut, chasing a swan over a fence. The swan gets caught in the trap
[09:46] carefully pulls the now Very Sad Swan out of the bog, and begins swinging it by it’s neck as a feathery club at dk
[09:47] Swan abuse!
[09:47] pulls out a citation book
[09:52] pauses to grudgingly accept the citation before sticking his tongue out, blowing a raspberry, and poking dk in the eye
[09:53] Ow! Hey!
[09:53] smacks roque up side his head
[09:53] That hurt!
[09:54] puts on eye patch
[09:58] realizing the eye patch makes her look way more badass than he does, he flees through the bog of eternal sadness (immune to its effects from a lifetime of exposure) into #political
[09:58] Aha! Let’s see if you can survive The Shitstorm!
[09:59] gets into a ready position for fisticuffs (queensberry rules, of course)
[10:00] bursts into the channel now dressed like a pirate, even with a parrot on her shoulder
[10:08] feints with a jab at dk, and then throws a right cross at the parrot
[10:11] dodges the jab as the parrot goes sailing across the channel and into #playlists, yelling “YOU JEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK, SQUACK” as it goes.
[10:13] It was Jackson’s last day before retirement.
[10:16] laughs, then prepares to throw an uppercut, but ducks and rolls for cover just as The Shitstorm of the channel rolls in, like a veritable haboob of shit
[10:19] pulls her billowing pirate coat closed around her to protect herself, pulling her hat down over her face. She silently bemoans the death of the peacock feather in her hat
[10:24] fights her way to #playlists
[10:12] a parrot comes tumbling into the channel
[10:25] stumbles in, disposing of shit covered jacket, hat, and boots just outside the channel in the in between.
[10:36] crawls into the channel through a hole in the wall of harsh noise, starving for air, his body now covered in a slurry of shit and old cake. He realizes the best way to win the combat is through love, so he pulls himself to his feet, looking like some kind of marbled monster, stumbles toward dk with arms outstretched screaming “HUG ME!”
[10:37] pulls out the fire hose and sprays all the shit cake off roque
[10:39] picks up the poor punched parrot and tentatively approaches the drownedroque for the offered hug
[10:44] the offer is genuine, and roque embraces dk, hissing at the parrot behind her back and mouthing the word “SOON”
[10:46] hugs it out as the parrot squawks “roque is a parrot hater!”
So, a dear friend recently gifted me a Raspberry Pi after I mentioned how I’d been toying with the idea of setting up a Pirate Box, the idea being to use it for file sharing and messaging during tabletop RP sessions. It showed up about a week ago, and due to an annoying combination of lack of time and anxiety that I’d do something to break my new toy, I didn’t actually do anything with it until yesterday.
First step was easy, grab the install image for the Pi via BitTorrent — it was well seeded, so I had that in no time flat. Next step was writing the image to the SD card, which I am ashamed to say was probably harder than it should have been; considering that I’ve been using one flavor of Linux or another as my daily driver OS for 13 years now, I shouldn’t have had such trouble figuring out how to use dd in the terminal window to write the image to the SD card (GUI makes me weak). My first attempt to fit the Pi into the case that was included in the starter kit made me afraid I was going to break it, but after setting it aside a minute, I did eventually figure out how it fitted into place. From there, everything else went pretty smoothly: put the sd card in, powered it up, and connected via wifi from my laptop. Followed the last few steps of setup via ssh, and now I have a default set up working.
I need to do some customization now: need a way to power it off without ssh for those times I’m using it on the go without a devices that I can access it via the shell to tell it to halt, and need to decide if a physical switch added to the case or a hidden and protected webpage will be a better solution. Want to customize the pages it serves to connected users for chat and file sharing. Want to set up bluetooth to connect to a speaker to play back audio. Need to be able to get it on home wifi network, to allow me to be connected to it for shell access while still having access to the internets for irc and forums to access help and tips. Maybe add a QR code sticker to the case that’ll direct people to the landing page since it doesn’t always auto-redirect on my phone (though it does on my laptop),
Overall, I’m pleased that I was able to do a thing and it works. I may buy a larger USB drive and a higher capacity external battery pack, but for now the 16GB drive I already had, and wasn’t using, is enough space, and I don’t expect to run it mobile very much yet, so I can use the existing battery pack I use to charge my phone on the go (ingress eats all the batteries!). Eventually I may upgrade it to a cooler case, or get a second SD card to set up another project.
Sunlight filtered through the tree as Ronan lay on the quad lawn with his textbook.An ant crawled along the spine and Ronan flicked it away before turning the page — smashed ant might further lower the value of the book when he sold it back at the end of the semester. A shadow fell across the book and Ronan looked up. It was that geek with the camera, always hiding behind it, contorting himself to get the perfect shot — today that was the sunlight filtering through the tree above, by standing not a foot away from Ronan’s book.
Glasses emerged from behind the body of the camera, looking around. Finally they looked down.
“You’re in my light.”
“Oh, uh, sorry.” He raised the camera again, turning his attention upwards. Ronan grunted. “It’ll only be a moment more, sorry.”
Ronan grumbled, rolling over to sit up, drawing the large textbook into his lap instead. The fringe of his hair fell across his eyes, providing almost a curtain to divide him from his surroundings and shading everything but the book. Movement through the fringe, followed by the soft sound of the shutter, caused Ronan to look up in time to see the guy with the camera standing up. Ronan brushed aside his hair and fixed a glare on him as the guy reached into his camera bag.
“You can see how the shot came out,” was all he said as he dropped a postcard on Ronan’s book and walked off. Ronan picked up the postcard, ready to wad it up, when the clocktower chimed four. Time for his next class, book shut quickly, trapping the postcard inside to mark his spot, and the encounter nearly forgotten.
The space cowboy is orbiting Earth. It's about hyper-surveillance. Word length: 400. #WriteMoreSciFi
— SciFi Prompt Bot (@SciFiBotPrompt) March 28, 2017
The sun flooded through the observation port, blinding Maurice momentarily until he fumbled for the button that tinted the glass. Sunrise hit about every hour and a half up here and one of these days he’d have to program a small script to automatically trigger the tint. He could leave it tinted all the time, that’s what many of the other egg operators did, but he liked being able to look over and see the blue marble that was home floating there below him. So he manually triggered it each sunrise, the momentary distraction took less time than it would have taken to create the small script to do it. All the data passing through his satellite had to be routed to the right people, sent through to the right computers for analysis, and that meant constantly paying attention. No time to program small comforts, the dumb eggs didn’t have breaks programmed into their algorithms, so he only had time to himself when he was scheduled for his sleep cycle and his egg was taken off the network for six hours.
Only two dozen sleep cycles until one of the skimmers came and scooped his egg up to pull him for a home cycle. He was counting down to seeing Jessica again, had a ring on order for her due to arrive the day after he got out of quarantine; a custom piece with rose gold and black diamonds. He touched her photo as his console lit up with a high alert and he received a personal communique on his encrypted blackLine feed. He touched the red WANTED FUGITIVE headline on the egg control panel as he glanced at his data pod.
From: J. George
To: M. Miller
Subject: I’m So Very Sorry <3
Her picture came up on the egg panel before he could open the personal message.
“Fuck,” he muttered as he skimmed the alert. Data trafficking, running from the law, spreading anti-governmental propaganda. There was nothing he could do for her, especially since he knew she wouldn’t be caught dead sending her data through the WorldNet. He shut off his blackLine pod, dismissed the high alert, and opened a communique to the home office. She wasn’t going to be there when he landed for his home cycle, he might as well put in for an extra couple cycles in the egg to help pay off the useless ring.
So, I just added a plugin to my WP install on my domain that should automagically crosspost to D*, and want to see if it works. So let’s see if this works?
Update: It worked, w00t.
The anarchist is in the wandering city. It's about communication across huge distances. Word length: 1100. #WriteMoreSciFi
— SciFi Prompt Bot (@SciFiBotPrompt) March 26, 2017
The sun sat high in the sky on the vernal equinox as Ronan stood in the shade of the Joshua tree. If he’d decoded the message right, it would be here any time now. Of course, there were so many variables to take into account, so many ways he could have confused his research, that he couldn’t be sure it was coming until—
The ground shook — someone who didn’t know better would attribute it to an earthquake — but Ronan could feel it, he knew what was coming. The desert disappeared in the blink of an eye and as far as he could see there were buildings, people, the bustle of a city. Not just any city, but the city. The Wandering City.
The Joshua tree he’d been standing under had been replaced by something taller, more delicate, bark the color of platinum with translucent rose gold leaves. It was one of many in this park that filled a square block, surrounded by shops that spilled out into the walkways. Ronan’s eyes slid along the overflowing tables and racks, lingering on trinkets and baubles that looked particularly shiny as he wondered if Wendell would appreciate any of them. Perhaps not, they were only things.
It had been so many years; Ronan just freshly 19, Wendell just shy of 23, and their car had broken down on their road trip and they had nowhere to be, so they’d just walked. Nothing for miles until they’d instantly found themselves in the city, surrounded by tall buildings and people… there were so many people. That there were so many may have caught their attention first, but soon they started to notice so much more. Wendell had immediately pulled out his camera and started taking pictures — skin in a rainbow of colors ranging from a nearly translucent pale pink, to a royal purple so deep it was as if staring into the depth of space, earthy russets and mosses, tones the colors of precious stones. Hair and scales, hooves and horns, clothes that ranged from hardware to hardly there. Wendell had gone through all four of his unused rolls of film before he’d realized.
They’d integrated into the society with little effort, everyone welcomed them without a moment’s hesitation, and Wendell was so happy that Ronan couldn’t help but be infected by it. Two years they lived together in a little loft, all their needs met. Wendell spent his days wandering and taking pictures once he’d replaced his camera with one that didn’t need film, sometimes leaving the city in the afternoon to explore wherever it was it had connected with reality today, usually returning in the small hours of the morning to find Ronan pouring over a book. Hundreds of alien worlds covered every inch of the walls, even more prints in galleries and eateries across the city. Ronan had been amazed at the number of cultures and races that were in the city, and he filled his time learning everything he could of all of them. He soon realized that the city existed as a living catalog, collecting a sample from everywhere it visited — people, objects, plants, animals — all kept happy and allowed to just be. So he went looking to find out who ran things.
A passing person bumped into him, drawing him out of his memories, and he only caught the wisp of an apology in their wake as they moved on. His hand slid into his pocket, drawing out a folded postcard. On one side was a landscape featuring two suns and three moons, the other was a hand written invitation to a gallery opening. The café hosting was a few blocks from the park he stood in, and the date should be today if he was remembering the conversion between calendars. His feet took him there on memory alone.
“Ronan! You made it.” Hair longer, silver breaking up what was once jet black, laugh lines at the corners of his eyes, but it was Wendell for certain.
“I couldn’t pass up a personal invite from the artist himself.” It was as if the surrounding people had disappeared as they closed the space between them. Ronan’s hands wrapped around Wendell’s, the postcard sandwiched between. There was a long pause as their eyes met.
“I wasn’t sure if you’d get it—” Wendell’s eyes dropped to their hands. “If you’d gotten any of them. And even if you had, if he’d—”
“The other thirty-five that made it are posted on the walls of my RV above my bed.” As he spoke, Ronan moved his hand up to cup Wendell’s jaw, a thumb crossing his lips and silencing him. “It had just taken me time to find my way back.” Another long pause, then Ronan looked over his shoulder at the café. “I think it’s almost time to start, I wouldn’t want keep you from your audience.”
Wendell laughed, shifting so that he could hold Ronan’s hand as he silently lead the way inside. When they let go, and Wendell made his way to the spotlight, Ronan hung at the back of the crowd with his heart in his throat. Just that small exchange had brought everything rushing back as if it was only yesterday when they’d still shared that loft.
“Wendell hasn’t smiled like that in years.” Ronan turned his head toward the strange voice, and the person who seemed to have spoken shifted to stay on the edge of his peripheral. “He thought you should know he’s watching, but as long as you behave, you’re welcome to stay.” And with that, the person quickly left the café, and all Ronan saw was the back of a feathered head. He swallowed hard as he turned to look at Wendell again, and was met with two deep brown eyes staring deep into his own, and a smile that could outshine the sun.
“It’ll be okay, I’ll make this work,” Ronan muttered to himself, smiling back at Wendell. After all, it had been his own fault he’d been chased out of the city without even having the chance to tell Wendell goodbye. Three months of trying to find him, a hint here, a whisper there, and finally an offer for a meeting outside the city. He’d fallen for it and was left alone in the middle of cornfields with nothing but the clothes on his back when the city disappeared early. A letter via a courier arrived some months later telling him that his disruptions had gone too far. It had been a small mercy the city had been connected to his earth at the time.
So, in my ever floundering efforts to try to and get myself writing more, I joined a Slack started by a Twitter friend that’s focused on writing. We chatter about all sorts of writing related things, and generally try to cheer on and help each other out. So far I’ve been less than pleased with my results, but it’s the fault of things outside this group such as work and life stress, and everyone’s been pretty awesome so far. One thing we’re going to try out is a weekly writing prompt to encourage the creative juices.
The 4am Breakthrough #162: A Car Wreck In Repose: Write a short scene that takes place entirely inside a vehicle that has been in a serious accident. Let there be a driver and two passengers. All are badly injured, but all are conscious. They cannot escape from the vehicle, but the vehicle is not about to explode. Still, things aren’t good. Write about their perceptions and their fractured conversation in the moments before rescue arrives. 500 words.
The tiger shark paused on the other side of the windshield and met Kathleen’s eye, and she held her breath until it swam off again. Wait, swam?
She turned and looked at the window to her right and saw water pushing its way from under the weather strip she’d been telling Steve to replace for the last three years.
“Kath? Vic?” Steve reached over to lay a hand on Kathleen’s knee, and looked over his shoulder to the backseat. Victoria sat with her head back against her seat, staring up at the growing wet spot in the drooping headliner.
“What the fuck just happened?” The teen finally lifted her head, meeting her mother’s eye through the rear view mirror.
“Last thing I remember, something hit us. It was moving too fast, I only saw a blur and then we were through the guardrail on the side of the bridge.” Steve pushed aside the deflated airbag that covered the steering wheel, searching for the horn. When he found it, a sickly muffled meep was all the reward he got. “Hopefully someone saw us go.”
“Rescue equipment is going to take a while to get here, even if they did. How much air do we even have?” Kathleen unbuckled her seatbelt and pressed her face against the window trying to look up. A water drop hit her in the eye and she pulled away from the window with a start as she furiously blinked the brackish water out. “It’s not that deep here, is it? Couldn’t we just swim up?”
“Oh my gawd, Mom. Do you even know how much force that water will roll in here with if we open a window to get out? And we’ll lose all our air when we do it.” Victoria unbuckled her seatbelt and dug into her pocket to pull out her phone. She poked at the touchscreen for a long minute, flicking and biting her lip. “Fuck. No signal. Nothing.”
“We have to do something.” Steve jabbed the window controls, and there was a small jerk and then nothing. Water started to trickle through the top of his window as he unbuckled his seatbelt and leaned over to yank open the glove box. “Be ready to move, I’m going to break this window. Ready?” He pulled out an orange tool with a small cone shaped hammer top on one end.
“Right behind you, dear,” Kathleen said, leaning in to give Steve a kiss on the cheek.
“WAIT!” Victoria yelled, throwing herself forward, grabbing her fathers arm. “We need to wait for someone to come get us. We won’t make it. We won’t.”
“It could take hours, and we probably don’t have that much air. Hush now, take deep breaths and be ready to go as soon as your father breaks the glass.” Kathleen gently pulled Victoria’s grip from Steve’s arm, awkwardly putting her arm around Victoria’s shoulder.
“On three…” Steve raised the tool as he turned towards the window. “One. Two.”
The water rushed in.
So, as I mentioned in my last rambling, I bought a new computer. I went with System76, because I felt it was important to buy a machine that was sold as a Linux machine first and foremost. Partially because it meant I knew it wouldn’t take a lot of fussing to get working (and let’s face it, I’m a lazy Linux user, and have been for nearly 13 years now), and partially because I feel it’s very important to vote with my money, and buying a machine that comes with Windows preinstalled is basically a vote for Windows hegemony even if I immediately wipe it and replace it with a flavor of linux.
Now, of course, because I’m the crazy and masochistic sort of Linux user… after I ordered a nice shiny machine that came with a working distro installed on it, all shiny, new, and working perfectly… what do I do with it? I format and reinstall. Granted, part of that was because it didn’t come with /home as its own partition, and part of it was because I thought it would be good to start with an absolutely no bloat distro, instead of just installing the desktop environment I wanted in the default ubuntu install. I had so much fun that first weekend I had my new machine. >.< It took me forever to figure out why I didn't have a gui preference panel for keyboard stuff (wasn't installed, yay!), just so I could enable the compose key... because the non gui solution involved preference files that had a lot of other settings I didn't need to change, and ubuntu based things changed the files I needed to look in to verify that I was copying my current settings... but because ubuntu has a gui solution, it was hard to find command line and preferences based solutions for it when running a derivative without the gui panel. So much fun. And bluetooth still isn't working the way I want it to. Audio quality was all messed up, and for some reason it didn't want to pair with the mouse I bought... so I'm stuck usinng the usb dongle I didn't want to have to use. All that said, I am pretty pleased with the new machine. It's zippy, has lots of space. It's lighter than the old machine, bigger screen, number pad. Would have been better if I'd known to leave well enough alone... but what can I say, would I truly be a Linux user if I did? 😁