I Needed That Egg

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.

Not All Cities That Wander…

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.

Rise Up Into the Light

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.

Prompt:
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?

Drip.
Drip.
Drip.

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.”

CRASH.

The water rushed in.

Penguins and Computers

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? 😁

Flaming Broadsword

To the assholes who constantly roll ahead on their right hand turns without looking at the crosswalk first, then wave me along like they’re doing me a favor when they finally notice me glaring at them for trying to run me over? Fuck you. With a flaming broadsword.

Unicorn Softserve

So, I recently gave in and bought a new laptop. I was long overdue, my old one was seven and a half years old, a machine that had been a gift and was admitted by the gift giver to be the cheapest model in stock at the Best Buy on his way home from work on my birthday. Yeah. It was a Toshiba Satellite that survived a drop on concrete and a drop on tile, yet somehow continued to mostly work despite damage to the power jack so that the power cord couldn’t reliably maintain contact to power it unless it was sitting just so… and the battery had long given up the ghost by the time it hit that point. Somehow, despite all that, I still managed to milk seven and a half years out of it before it reached a point where I couldn’t make it reliably work anymore and had to dig into the savings account that I’m trying desperately to accumulate enough money in so I can buy a reliable car.

I mean, even though internet and computer access is pretty key for daily life these days, I guess I feel a little guilty buying myself a new machine knowing the mess we’re staring down right now. So I guess I’m trying to justify it to myself, and using this blog post to verbalize it? The thing is, I am barely hanging on in the bay area right now, so I gotta figure something out that’ll enable me to pay the bills… or I may need to give in and look at moving out of the area. I would really hate to move, because I love it so much here, cost of living aside. At least, I seem to have lined up some part time freelance work to get a little extra money coming in. Waiting on the final details to gel, and I’m not sure how long it’ll last or if it has a chance to pan out into more work later, but for now… a little extra money isn’t a bad thing, even if it doesn’t directly extend into something else.

I’m not even sure why I’m writing about this, but I set up this blog to try and make myself write regularly, so let’s just focus on that goal. I got burnt out because the last election cycle was just that draining… and now that the idiot in chief has been in office for a month, it’s pretty clear that it’s not going to let up unless he’s impeached, and even then… Pence is a pretty scary too, but he at least plays by the conventional rules. It doesn’t help that the GOP still thinks they can control the Cheeto faced idiot, so they’re ignoring and stomping out every effort by the Democrats to try to get the impeachment ball rolling. I can’t help but wonder if they’re trying to hold off on the impeachment until the midterm, in hopes that Pence will have less than half of idiot’s term to serve, leaving him open to two reelections. Scariness.

In better news, I am trying to push myself to take more pictures again. I need to do something creative that gets me out of the house. Now that I have the new laptop, I’ll try to make an effort to post the pictures for people to see if they come out well enough. I do have a site set up for it, brassfrog.net, though I need to do some work on the theme, probably add a child theme to it. We shall see. I also use the heck out of VSCO on my phone, adjusting pictures with filters and snapping interesting things when I spot them when I have time to stop and snap the picture. I’ll try to get those posts on the photo site, but some of them have been posted to VSCO’s site or twitter. So they’re out there.

I used to write these stream of consciousness posts on LiveJournal back in the day, and while I don’t know if anyone will read it (not even sure if I care if anyone does), I do miss writing whatever comes to mind like this. So I’ll try to do this, even if I don’t have something a little more conventional to write.

Electoral College

So, I’ve been a little quiet here lately. I had been overwhelmed by this toxic election cycle, and in the end, I did cast a vote for Hillary… not that it mattered much, since California always goes blue. I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter retweeting messages better phrased than mine, considering all the voices that are shouting right now. I am terrified of where this country can go under the leadership of Trump. A man who is surrounding himself with assholes who are racist, sexist, and generally hateful individuals with no respect for anyone but people like themselves: rich white cis het men.

People talk about wanting to get out of here, hell, I’d heard that the Canadian emigration page was crashed on election night as more and more of the middle states went solidly red. I don’t even know if that story is true, but it doesn’t really matter in the end… anyone who thinks they can just leave the country and escape this hasn’t been paying attention to the world lately. That’s easy to do, with how much the US media has been failing us, but that could easily be a whole post of its own and I’m not ready to rant on that. I came here to share.

Someone has built a website called #AskTheElectors, where they’ve collected as much contact information as they could about how to contact the actual people who are going to cast their votes in the electoral college come December 19th, specifically the ones who do not have any sort of legal binding to vote the way their state elections went. Because our schools fail so badly, a lot of people don’t fully understand how our election process works and don’t understand why the electoral college exists, nor do they realize that they’re not actually voting directly for a presidential candidate, but instead a person who has pledged they’ll vote for your candidate of choice. The constitution outlines this electoral college process, but it leaves it up to the states to handle how to allocate their electors. It’s also left up to the states what, if any, penalties an elector will suffer if they vote differently than they pledged, and as mentioned above, some of them will suffer no legal penalties at all (I don’t say they won’t suffer no penalties, because these days the electors are selected by a party often to reward loyalty and service, and turning against the expressed will of the party will have consequences).

While I am not holding my breath that this effort will work, as I fully expect loyalty to their party will continue to do what has happened since this election cycle made it clear that Trump had enough of the population behind him to become the Republican nominee, I took the time to use the information on #AskTheElectors to compose an email of my own to make my plea for them to change their votes. Knowing that the chances were slim that the email would even be read, especially since it was likely to become a tide of people participating in this long reach, I’ve decided to share it here too, though I will leave out my personal information.

Dear Elector,

My name is Amy [=====], from [=====], CA.

Since the results of the election back on the 8th became apparent, I have become more and more afraid of where this country is headed. Watching the hateful actions that are the result of racists feeling legitimized by Trumps win strikes fear into my heart, and the whole world holds their breath as they watch where we go from here. Countries that have long been known to show no regard for the rights and safety of their citizens are cheering for Trump’s win, Russia’s even admitted to making efforts to sway the election results.

Donald Trump has spent his whole campaign telling the American people that he’s a racist sexist man who has nothing but his own self interest at heart. He has spread one bald face lie after another, supporting and encouraging hatred and fear wherever he goes, and showing that he has nothing but disrespect for what our country stands for. On top of his personal conduct being appalling, his choice to surround himself with racists, homophobes, and sexists reflects poorly upon our country.

The popular vote has far and away shown that the American people who did vote wanted Clinton to be our next president. On top of that, this was the first election in 50 years that did not benefit from the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. There were many states that either reduced early voting or enacted strict voter ID laws. Both have been shown to disproportionately affect those who are low income and of a minority background, both groups that have been statistically shown to vote largely Democrat.

Part of the role you play as an elector in the electoral college is to represent the best interest of the people. Even though the average person thinks they’re voting directly for a presidential candidate, they are actually voting for you to represent them. In a normal election year, where the popular vote and the electoral vote agree with each other, it’s a pretty easy process… but when the popular vote and the electoral vote disagree, you owe it to the people you represent to take the time to really consider why that is. Sometimes it’s just because it was a close election, but the conduct of the two candidates this election year, as well as their history and actions, are like night and day and show that this isn’t just a close race.

It is your duty to look beyond party loyalty, and ask yourself: Which candidate is best prepared for the job? Which candidate will put America’s best face forward? Trump claims to want to ‘Make America Great Again’, but what makes America great is the diversity that he is clearly against, what makes America great is that we learn and grow as the world changes, but Trump wants to take us back to the past that we’ve outgrown.

Please, change your vote to support Hillary Clinton. Help us more forward instead of back.

Thank you for your time and consideration, I appreciate and respect the role you serve in our electoral process.

Sincerely,
Amy [=====]

     “Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.”
     -George Bernard Shaw

Even as I reread it before publishing, I find things I could have adjusted, punctuation and grammar I might have handled better… but I knew if I did what I normally do in writing, I never would have sent the email. So what I am publishing here is exactly what I sent out.

Be respectful in the comments (not that I expect any, as I’ve not received any here before) and be aware that I have no qualms about using the ban hammer. While I feel strongly that the first amendment is a very important right, and feel that part of what got us to this point is the popular trend to hide from political conversation, I will not suffer hate speech and I will not tolerate or feed trolls spreading straw men and fallacy.

Theme Undergoing Repair

So, because I’m a complete n00b, I didn’t realize that I needed to create a child theme instead of modifying directly the theme I’d selected… so when an update was pushed to the theme I’d started from *poof* it was all gone. Annoyingly I’d read up on child themes and thought I should take care of that before the worst happened… and then didn’t make time before an update pushed that did it. Yeah.

So I’ve set up the child theme correctly now, but I haven’t finished correcting it the way I wanted it. So things may be a little messy for the short term here. Sorry!

Lobes For Business Run In The Family

With all the hot topics being political lately, I’m having a hard time coming up with a topic that isn’t politics for this week. I don’t want this to turn into a political blog. Fuck knows, there’s a lot to say, a lot that needs doing, so if I wanted to make this a political blog, I certainly would have enough fodder. I’d also feel obligated to spend a whole hell of a lot more time reading up on political stuff, and I just don’t have the energy to do that. Particularly the emotional energy because so much of what’s going on lately is so frustrating or heartbreaking. So, let’s talk about something a lot more light hearted today. As I mentioned in Time and Divergence, I run a Star Trek RPG online called The USS Joshua Norton. We use a content management system called Nova, and the game is very much a collaborative writing project. For the most part, players come up with a character they wish to play within the setting, and craft a bio, then they either write by themselves or with others about events that happen in the setting. The command team function similar to how the Game Master (Dungeon Master, Storyteller, whatever) does in a tabletop game, but without dice involved, we focus more on the overarching plot and the bulk of the NPCs, though the players can, and often do, write some of these too!

Currently, we have a murder mystery on the side of our official mission. The official mission is pretty simple: we have a visiting Romulan Delegation on Earth, and the crew’s job is to keep an eye on them and see if any useful information comes up. Nothing unexpected has come up, which is why when the CO’s brother, Noah, shows up asking for help because some strangers are trying to kill his friend who saw the strangers kill a retired intel agent, Amelia picks a few of her crew to look into it. So far it smells of a cover up, and one of the mysterious men killed himself rather than be interrogated. A Ferengi overheard some information, which he sold to the Romulan delegation, and now we’ve got a race between them and the crew to reach evidence hidden by the dead retired intel officer. To add to the stakes, the crew has reason to believe that the big secret the retired intel officer was murdered over was the true story of how Captain Sisko brought the Romulans into the Dominion war — something that even though Starfleet HQ knew some of the story, they didn’t know the whole of it, and even the partial story could be enough to unravel the delicate peace between the Romulan people and the Federation.

Here’s a sample of one of our recent mission logs: “Want Some Whiskey In Your Water?” I like to use song lyrics for log titles, that one comes from Three Dog Night’s Mama Told Me (Not To Come).

Zola settled down at her terminal in her quarters, and opened the secure channel with the Latinum Star. She knew Catalina was off the Emperor, and guessed she wouldn’t be back for a while, but she’d set up a notification in the computer in case her roommate beamed back. Negotiations were delicate work, and though her brother was better than some of their species, someone he didn’t know, particularly a female, would put him on the defensive. Also, he’d spend more time leering than talking. Zola needed information, so it was a risk she couldn’t take.

“Ah, Zola, my favorite little sister,” he cooed at her as the channel connected, his wrists pressed together and his fingers curled in front of his chin as he nodded his head in greeting.

“Ah, Nug, my doddering senile younger brother. I am still the eldest, even if I found a shortcut you didn’t,” she returned in kind, extending the same gesture of greeting. He bared his teeth at her with a growl, and she smiled wide. “How’s business?”

“None of yours.”

“Funny you should say that, as Broq apparently did make it my business,” she returned. A frown passed Nug’s face, and Zola lifted her hand within view of the screen. She slowly let the gold pressed latinum tumble from her fist. “My friend acquired this from Broq, or at least I assume it was Broq, since he’s usually not stupidly aggressive unless there’s latinum already involved. I was told he was spitting in my friend’s face.”

“So they were Starfleet,” Nug said, and Zola laughed.

“Bold assumption.”

“Return Broq’s property.”

“Rule of Acquisition number one, brother,” she chastised, waving her finger at him. “We could negotiate what the return of his latinum and other property is worth to you though.” She settled back in her chair, crossing her arms as she waited for his response. He frowned and chewed his lip as he considered. “Though I’d be happy to give you what was his if you just push him out the airlock instead.”

For a little context: Zola and Nug are twins, with their Moogie having raised Zola, and their father having raised Nug. Presently, Zola has lived fewer year, despite having been born first, due to an unexpected one-way trip through a time traveling worm hole. Their Moogie had collected on Zola’s life insurance and bribed her way into the divine treasury long before Zola’s reappearance, so in order to avoid being brought up on fraud charges, she continues to act as if Zola truly is dead. The only family who acknowledges her as alive are her brother and father. She doesn’t really miss Ferengi society, because she’s never understood the drive to collect profit, so she’s been just fine continuing her career in Starfleet since the wormhole incident.