Category Archives: Diary

Don’t expect too many of these. These entries are where I am both trying to document my emotional and mental state in a way that’s useful or meaningful to others. It’s not enough to record what I’m at, I’m trying to record them in ways that’s worth sharing, to make clear the struggles that can come as a part of the work of creative endeavours and research. It matters to me that you can identify me as a person, not just as a dispenser of advice – and that means occasionally, sharing about how I’m doing.

Input/Output Problems

Last night, at one in the morning, I gave myself permission to close the blog without contributing an article to the hopper. Now, it’s the next morning, at one thirty, and I’m debating if I do that again. I don’t like going two days without contributing anything, and part of what leads to that is the feeling that all I have to do is something and that’s a start.

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Remembering The Queen

When I was about eight years old, my older cousin excitedly showed me the little .wav file he had of an excerpt from a Pop Song, which he had reversed in windows sound editor. When played, it made a little weird yelp which he informed me was the phrase “It’s Fun to Smoke Marijuana.” This was proof of the danger of that kind of music.

The excerpt was a snippet of Another One Bites The Dust.

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Cool Tapes

I was born in an age when television was pumped into your house via some variety of tube. This is why the box of a TV was so large – it had to contain the bottle that filled up with television over the course of the day, and the screen you watched it on was the ‘bottom’ of it. You watched it when it was on — and that meant there were times of day, when, well, it didn’t matter what you wanted to watch, the TV was only offering news, news, and also, news. Channel 10 was at least kind enough to put the news on at 5 PM (First at 5) so the ‘news’ slot could be replaced by the Simpsons reruns.

But at some point in my youth, back when I was a youths, we acquired a Beta recorder, then, quickly, a VHS recorder, that let us record dad’s Murphy Brown episodes while he was away at Bible Study and we wanted to watch… I… you know, I don’t know. But we watched something.

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The Great Disappointment

Been thinking about Qanon a lot lately.

Hey have you ever heard of William Miller? He was this really weird dude from the 1700s, a land-owning preacher who started out as a Baptist, then read some books and became a Deist, then got scared about the fact he would die and became a Baptist again, a trajectory that’s kinda familiar to me. Anyway, he got really scared about the fact he was going to die, and then that meant he wouldn’t be alive, and that got him back into being a Baptist and from there, an obssessive reading of the Bible resulted in him getting all het up about Biblical numerology, the sudoku cousin of normal Biblical prophecy’s cryptic crossword.

Content Warning: Me, talking shit about Christian faiths!

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Velikovsky

There is a concern in the sciences of the idea of demarcation. The demarcation problem is the question of how do we tell the difference between science and non-science. This can represent a challenge when dealing with propositions that struggle with replicability or extremely complex systems – think like psychology versus physiology, or even whether there’s a scientific methodology that can be applicable to fields of art, literature, and religion.

The whole fundamental question of demarcation kind of lives in the space of where you can say science doesn’t apply here. The general idea for a time there was that you can’t use scientific methods to grapple with questions of religious belief, a position that was forwarded by Stephen Jay Gould with his framework of non overlapping magisteria. Notionally, science looks at facts while religion looks at values and therefore, these two things should not be seen as competing with one another, and should not be seen as threats to one another.

A problem immediately arises, then, when religion seeks to make fact claims; such is the problem with Young Earth Creationism or fundamentalist Christianity which uses fact claims to justify rules they demand people outside their faith. This can apply on big, important, political ideas like who gets to guide the country and by what rules, and therefore is of specific interest to me; another area it’s important is when you consider who does or doesn’t get to have a voice in a community of ideas.

Demarcation can be seen ultimately as a question of who gets to speak and where.

What if someone had an idea outside your field that made a whole bunch of complicated questions work

… but nobody in that field would ever listen to their ideas?

Let’s talk about Immanuel Velikovsky.

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The Mildest Of Constraints

As you read this, I am many many weeks out from the event described. As I write it, it happened yesterday. There’s no need to be concerned about my foot, is what I’m saying.

Anyway, I hurt my foot yesterday, just before a family gathering. Small biff, I think I knocked it against the bed or something or slept on it funny. A modest little bit of discomfort. Sure, I couldn’t walk on it for a long time, but also, it wasn’t swollen or discolored or bruised. A minor, unimportant, ache or pain that I could accommodate. It’s happened before, after all – and that’s why I have a cane in the house to walk with.

What I haven’t done before is bring this cane to a family gathering.

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PressING Unsubscribe

I spent about twenty minutes today following a thread of memories through my inbox to locate the many, many different mailing lists I was on that I did not realise, I had long since stopped reading.

I mean, we all have it in our heads that ‘spam’ is terrible and bad, and I know that, but for some reason I had, over time, slowly accumulated about ten different mailing lists, for different services I did actually use, and in the process created my own little menu of spam to ignore.

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David And Jonathon Were Gay Right

Content Warning: I’m going to talk about a Biblical figure who I think is probably a historical figure, but whose story was probably nothing at all like what we’re presented with, and also, is possibly very important to fundamentalist and orthodox visions of that Biblical history.

I’m going to talk about a Biblical character and there are people who find that personally offensive. If you think ‘I’m going to get mad about what he says about King David’ then you read it anyway, then uh yes, you have fallen for my elaborate trap where I told you not to read it.

POINT IS I’m gunna bully a dead king and you can’t stop me.

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3.5: Sex Is Bad

The Satanic Panic did things to the culture. We can pretend it wasn’t really a thing (because it was a thing about a thing that wasn’t a thing), but undeniably, a bunch of angry parent-types bellowing about the way their kids were being exploited until the exploitation changed colour did pervert the course of business interests. It was largely, just not worth the fuss to do things that could annoy that vocal body, and you could just change the decals on some of the stuff you did. I mean, having a bunch of weird outsider kids who liked playing D&D doing things like ‘being friends’ could be super upsetting for the parents of those kids, especially if those kids were having fun with their friends and not wanting to have fun with their family. Maybe the family sucked? Anyway, point is, that the Satanic Panic had a direct and meaningful impact on the big business juggernaut that was Wizards of the Coast. Famously, they stopped using demonic imagery on Magic: The Gathering for seven years.

Was that why 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons and its followup edition 3.5 thought sex was bad?

Nah probably not, this was probably just further building on the game’s pre-existing protestant ideology that thought Sex Was Bad. Let’s talk about the Ace Rights prestige class.

Content Warning: Acephobia! And uh… amazingly, just general talk about sexual assault? THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A FUN ONE.

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May 2022 Wrapup

I uh, I started out looking for an icon of a jar of mayonnaise and the result I got is this, here, a blank jar.

Let’s crack on shall we?

I blog daily. I have regular features, where every week I’m going to talk about a game, and a piece of media. I’m also going to talk every month about something to do with worldbuilding, games like Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. Chances are good, you haven’t caught everything I’ve written about this month. That’s why at the end of the month I write you a neat little summary and give you some suggestions on stuff you might have missed that I think is particularly worth your attention.

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The Preposterous Anxiety of Nothing Going Wrong

I got my booster shot today.

Not today today, today when I write this. You’re not reading this for ages, which is a thing I do in part to help build a buffer, and avoid blog posts all bunching up around times when I’m productive, but also so, very pointedly, you are never dealing with the me who wrote the blog post you just read except in the rare case of Kenny Rogers dying. Which is a weird one but don’t expect it to happen again, I don’t think Kenny Rogers can die twice.

I do this in part for the emotional control it offers me, and to make sure I don’t shoot from the hip too readily. Everything has had a chance to cool. Plus that means when I do say something really emotionally revealing, like about fucking Lilo and Stitch, nobody notices.

Anyway, I got my booster shot today.

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April 2022 Wrapup

It’s the end of the month, it’s time for me to point out to you all these great, corking articles that keep you up to date with the kinds of things I’ve been doing that you may have missed. I know that my particular form of blog writing isn’t for everyone, so I hope having a guide for the stuff I’m really proud of is really useful.

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Celebrating Talen’s Birthday, 2022

Hey, it’s my birthday! If you’re into wishlists, I have a Steam Wishlist and Gift Hero wishlist. I don’t know how useful that is to you, I don’t mind if you don’t want to get me anything, I don’t think you should. My birthday is just a day, and I don’t expect to get cool toys out of it, and I don’t think you owe me anything.

But.

but.

If you want to get me something, and you don’t want to spend any money today (good!), then I’d appreciate it if you could do me a favour and bring me a link to something you want me to look at, and add to that a short description of why you want me to look at it.

Yeah, do some of my research and discovery for me.

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Changing Avatars

Good god I need to be careful about how I word this.

Okay, how to word this. How about if I say, up front, NOTHING TRANS IS HAPPENING, and then people will go ha ha but no really, but I’ll have to restate it that I mean it and NO REALLY, THIS ISN’T ABOUT THAT.

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Keyboard Utility

Hey, you know, back in November, when I mentioned ‘oh yeah, my keyboard broke?’

Turns out yeah, that sucks!

It’s been a weird time, when a single major tech disruption can just knock everything I would normally do in a day out. I can’t sit down and play board or card games without a computer right now, because nobody’s prepared for it. That meant when my keyboard broke – my one button failed – I then went to clean it, and try to get it to work, only to find that the nest of hair and fur inside my keyboard was now making interactions I didn’t want to see happen happen.

I pulled off the buttons, I cleaned them, I put them back, and then it started to spray out twenty character chains every time I opened a text field, which suggested that it was not just that a button stopped working but that perhaps my keyboard was broken.

That led to me considering: Do I want to fix this keyboard?

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Thresholds and Habits

Turns out I’m an adult?

I don’t like that. It seems in appropriate, and honestly, I think it was a bad idea. At some point civilisation decided that I was responsible for killing Applebees, and having a functional awareness of the different characters in MASK and how their toys weren’t the same scale as GI Joe, which were the same scale as C.O.R.P.S toys wasn’t actually a disqualifying criteria for that full-time adulting thing. But I don’t have any spaces where I can be fourteen years old, eat fuit gummi and play videogames, so instead, I make do with trying to manage my day to day with as reasonable a facsimile of being an adult as I can.

There’s stuff I’m not good at.

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The Embarrassing Impact Of A Fridge

You know that mental image you have of yourself as like, independent and not subject to your surroundings? Like, how we all have it in our heads that yeah, sure, I know my experiences and memories shape me a bit, but that’s not all of it. That’s not the whole thing, right?

Anyway, last year I changed my life because we bought a new fridge.

I am at the point in my life where I am no longer living with a second hand thing that was bought from a store that specialised in refurbishing whitegoods and that worked pretty well for the space we had. I wrote about this fridge once, about how the light didn’t work, and that never landed in my brain as the default.

This fridge lived in an alcove in our kitchen, and it was, as far as I could tell, pretty much the right size for it. But Fox, sick of a variety of problems with it, and wanting something to improve its efficiency, dedicated some of our money to buying it.

It’s wild that I feel ashamed for admitting that. That we bought a fridge. That somehow in this time of our lives, when remote work is something I can do and she can do well that we were able to save money and now, when I talk about things like labor and valuing people’s work and joining a union and being poor as a kid, I’m going to have someone go yeah but you bought a fridge.

Anyway, this fridge has changed a lot of my day.

The fridge has room for a large tank of water, and two bottles. It also has a water dispenser in the door, meaning at any given time the most convenient thing to do, if I want a drink, is to have a bit of water. Not a lot, because completely filling a glass is annoying. Result? I’m drinking more water. Also, the schedule of refilling the water each night before I go to bed means that I’m keeping the sink clear, and that means more dishes put in the washer before bed, rather than ‘ah, I’ll do it in the morning.

The crisper drawer is bigger and higher and closer to my eye level. I no longer have to tilt down to look into it. I no longer have to worry about if I already have too much of a head of lettuce, and therefore, I can’t buy another one, meaning that there are times when I may want lettuce and I can’t have any, just because of the modest logistics of a small crisper drawer.

The freezer is large, but has drawers. This means that it’s very effective got a large purchase of food that can then be frozen for long durations and thawed at meal times. This is making me plan ahead for meals more, because it’s not wasted effort.

This single piece of household infrastructure has made a bunch of stuff in my life tangibly easier and therefore, as a result, better for the way I want to live my life and it’s because we did the tremendously middle-class thing of getting a good appliance.

It feels weird to stare at it and think about the impact. Like surely this wasn’t the barrier to doing these things.

Right?

Surely.

January 2022 Wrapup!

January has come and gone, a new start for a new year, and also a bunch of free articles that are either retrospective, or update you on things that have been happening for a while. It’s also something like a holiday month for me, a month of preparation for the new semester and a time to refocus on important, big projects.

Like, you know, a PhD, or games.

It’s also a time when I would have, hypothetically, been heading down to Canberra, to be part of CanCaon, which after much agonising, we decided to abandon, because of panini concerns. More on that later.

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Writing Between Christmas and New Years

Something that I still have difficulty processing is writing in summer, in that particular little period between Christmas day and New Years, and then, as an Australian, kiiiinda for the bulk of January because hey look over there, Invasion Day is right around the corner. Like, for the past few years now, Summer has been the season when I am, largely, off work. It is the time when the holidays land, so after a bunch of extremely high-impact days of associating the fuck out with people, I am largely, not under a lot of pressure.

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Unstrapping Jetpack

I have been using the Jetpack plugin on my blog for about five years. It comes as a default tool available to free wordpress accounts, you see, and I installed it on my blog when I realised that I really did care about how much or how little attention my work was getting. There’s a long ongoing story that starts with the Long Live The Queen Game Pile review (which, really, isn’t that good, and for all I know the soundcloud has long since been shut down), but which has steadily progressed through a yearning burning nerding over feedback.

I got rid of it because it was doing some things to maintain its own statistics but also in case it maybe sorta wanted to serve ads of its own, or maybe just putting graphics on the page without telling me, but the important thing is that a proper web developer looked at this useful package of tools and recoiled, hissing, like I’d tried to bring a Domovoi over the threshold of the family home it protects.

Jetpack has problems, see.

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Mental Diet

It’s like, 1.30 in the morning, a November night, and I didn’t write anything today, until now. I worked on some projects – a little bit in a few places – but the main thing that happened today was that around 4 pm, I told my friends ‘I think I’ll lie down, but I have my phone,’ as if I would chat to them while in bed, then woke up four hours later to find everyone asleep.

This is because in the morning, I woke up bolt awake, holding on to Fox and the dog because I’d had a nightmare about the Rapture. These are not uncommon things for me, like I’m not surprised by them, but they do pretty badly exhaust me. It meant that I just didn’t get much sleep – I was asleep, but it wasn’t restful sleep – and when I was tired, I didn’t want to go back to sleep, because I didn’t want to return to the nightmares. The fear that I would fall back into that place, as if the dream is a place I was going to go, not a dumb trick my brain plays on me for thirty years.

But that meant I was exhausted today. I shambled around a little, I watched some Youtube videos, I planned for dinner – I did some laundry! Hey, go me, that’s a chore I easily would forget. But then I went to bid at four twenty nap time, and whumph did not wake up until 8.30.

Then I watched a movie with Fox, and we recorded a podcast about it, and we went to bed. She watched AmberCyprian and Argick play a game about balls on a string – Argick’s channel is really top tier balls content – and I kid you not I spent about a half hour watching minute and two minute clips of things like capybaras jumping into water.

It’s been a bit of a rough day.

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Decemberween: You

There’s a want, an intuitive reaching, for the idea of calling this schmaltzy or cringe. To say, oh, that’s embarrassing, or oh, that’s not worth doing as a subject.

At the end of each month I write a ‘wrapup’ of the month. These serve as a guide for reading, encouraging people who only check the blog sporadically for particular articles I think were very good, or which I felt work well when you link them together. The wrapups are also a chance to reflect on my life in the month and have a moment of diarying. You know, hey, here’s what’s happened in my meatspace life, what that might have done to the blog. Ostensibly, that’s what would go here, today, on the blog: What happened this month? What articles were interesting to me in hindsight?

I think that works against the spirit of Decemberween, a festival of looking at the whole year, an exercise in sharing and gentle content. If you want fanged writing, you can go check the rest of the year, and lords knows there’s stuff that got missed up there. There’s an article about Shadowcaster, I doubt you read that.

I did a year-end wrapup for the Story Pile feature, and tomorrow, you’ll see a year-end wrapup for the Game Pile. Which means that this is the most natural place to wrapup the blog as a whole, and maybe the whole year. Point out some faves, tell you how great these articles were, all that…

But I kind of feel it’s more important to make it clear, how much, in general this blog has been driven by people reacting to it.

There’s a joke I made, last year, about Touhou, that it was a ‘fandom that predates Dark Souls – as in, could hunt and feast upon it.’ On Twitter, a long-term reader (hi Dana!) said that it was ‘one of those lines’ that made her get up away from the computer and laugh. And … I think about that line regularly. I think about it because it implies that there’s multiple times I make a joke like that, that that’s something that can form a pattern.

That excites me.

That fills me with joy.

You, the people who engage with this – either a little or a lot, either reading or just talking to me about the things you want to see me write, you are all part of this process. I don’t want to disappoint you, and I don’t want to bore you.

Your time, as always, is a gift.

And I am grateful.

(I am also grateful for those of you who decided that not just time, but money could be given to you, and those people are extra-awesome, but I don’t want to frame it so that you feel like your money is worth more than your attention. Trust me, I want both.)

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