Counting blessings

The taxes make me want to scream, and cry.


I have a house. It is entirely mine and my husband's. It is solid. It is largely waterproof. And I'm pleased that I don't have to test this the hard way, since we're not that close to anything which could flood us.

We do not have soldiers patrolling outside.

I don't need to worry about bombs.

We are not under or on a hillside which could decide to be down at the bottom all of a sudden.

I have clean water -- as much as I need -- at the touch of a tap.

I can go to the store and buy as much food as I need or want.

I have family who I love, who love me -- and they're safe too.

I think that all my friends are safe.

I can afford to take a week off work to deal with problems.

I have a monthly budget with which to buy books -- any books I want.

If I were injured or ill, I could simply go to the hospital, and I have a reasonable confidence that they have the resources to cope with whatever it is to the highest standard that medical science currently gives us.

So I am part of a privileged elite. My life is already better than probably 96-98% of humanity. I am not poor. I'm not in that absolutely absurd top 1% and I never will be, but for all my stress and grousing, I look at what I have and know that actually, I'm pretty well off.

It pays never to lose sight of the important things.
happy me

Small celebrations

I just wanted to note that I moved desks, today.

Not moved jobs. Not even moved my office. I just moved to a new desk.

For the first time in over two decades of continuous employment, I have a desk next to a window.

And it has a really nice view, too.

I's happy.
intelligent interested

Writing exercise #2

There was once a young man, a very athletic young man. He played many sports, and he was good at them. He practiced constantly, morning to night, throwing, batting, running.

And because he worked so hard at his sport, he was always hungry. He ate, and ate, and ate! Whenever he wasn't playing, or practicing, he was eating. It was all right; he never got fat -- he burned it all off.

But in his quest to keep himself fed, he got more and more ambitious -- to the point that he decided to go "paleo", and bought an entire sheep from a farmer which he decided to roast, except for the bits he decided he would stew, and he would boil all the usually non-edible bits into soup.

A raven, attracted by the butchering of the sheep, took a keen interest.

"Hey," it said, sidling up to the young man. "Howzabout you give me some of that."

"Piss off," said the young man. "It's MY sheep. I bought it."

"You bought it?" asked the raven. "You humans buy things with money, right?"

"Yeah?" said the young man.

"Well, I know where there's a lot of money," said the raven. "One of you humans buried it, and then the area got flooded and he left, and he never came back for it. If I show you where it is, can I have some of that sheep?"

"Well, sure!" said the young man, because that seemed perfectly acceptable to him.

The raven was true to its word. It led the young man off across fields and to a swamp, then flew to a drowned tree and perched there. "Here," it said. "It was here."

"Don't mess with me, bird." The young man warned. The raven was somewhat offended, but confined itself to croaking a few insults in the Raven tongue, because it still wanted some of that sheep.

It took the young man considerable effort, and renting some rather specialised equipment -- but with quite a lot of wet digging, he did indeed find there was a lot of money buried at the roots of that tree. Quite an enormous trunk, in fact, and it was stuffed with paper money (which was actually somewhat soggy, but not yet rotted) and antique coins.

The young man was at least true to his word, as well. "Hey bird -- go ahead and take the rest of that sheep." And the raven was happy.

The young man didn't declare his find to anyone, though. (Obviously the raven knew, but it had little enough reason to converse with humans in the ordinary run of events.) Instead, the young man took his find home, and started to count his new wealth. With the antique coins, he ended up spending quite a bit of time researching on the internet, to find out how much they were really worth. He found he actually quite enjoyed counting up the values -- so much so that he abandoned his sports, and spent all day indoors, at the computer and with an adding machine and account books.

And that was the end of him, because he ate less and less, and exercised less and less, and lost all his muscle and became twig-thin and pale -- and eventually he died, rich but far younger than he should have, because the lack of activity and proper nourishment shaved years off his life.

The raven didn't know about any of that, and probably wouldn't have cared if it did, but it was rather sorry that the young man didn't come out again and buy more sheep.

The moral of this story (if it has to have one) is obviously: always help out talking animals, but don't get greedy.

StoryCubes 22-04-2015
intelligent interested

Short fiction -- writing exercise.

One of the reasons I'm coming back to LJ is that I'm at the point where I really ought to get going on all of the things I want to do with my life (there comes a time in every life where you have to stop putting things into your bucket list, and start doing them, or there is no point in having a bucket list in the first place) -- and, I finally have the energy again where I can at least try to.

One of the things I want to do, do properly I mean, is writing. Fiction, and not just opinion, which (let's face it) I do anyway quite thoroughly unasked.

So: One of the gifts I've gotten from Beloved Husband is StoryCubes. ( ) In fact, I think I have all of them now. (Overkill, maybe, but hey.) And I wanted to use those as a daily short-fiction exercise.

Roll 9, drawn at random out of my Great Bag O' StoryCube Goodness, arrange them, and write.

So here is effort #1. It has had all of one draft. Expect great variability.


Tim woke that morning with a percussive music in his head.Hard to say why, and hard to say what, exactly, except that it had a sharp, driving beat that just wouldn't let him alone. His whole day became the game of it, and an attempt to keep up with it -- tapping his desk, tapping his pen (much to office annoyance), kicking his chair, flicking sheets of paper sharply. He disregarded all the frowns in his direction; the beat felt so much more important. More and more important, in fact -- as the day went on, rather than fading instead it seemed to take over.

By the time he left work, he was slapping lamp-posts and car wing-mirrors, kicking fences, picking up sticks and snapping them across every hard object in his path.

He didn't even really notice when he hit the glowing egg. Not until it cracked.

It hadn't registered. The sight had been unimportant, only the beat in his brain worthy of his concentration. It had only been noticed as "solid object which I can hit." And hit it he had -- two sideways kicks (proud, in some corner of his mind, of his own coordination), a spin, and a good solid whack across it with his stick, all in the service of the beat. But the crack of his stick across what was indubitably shell was followed by a long crack of the thing itself, and somehow that sound cut across everything his day had been.

He felt suddenly very cold. Rather an irony, that would turn out to be shortly.

He backed away. Now the beat was gone. Now he stared. It was as large as he was -- larger, even -- how had he not noticed? -- and as out of place on the pavement as a Bengal tiger would have been at his work cafeteria. It glowed dull orange, except for the widening red slash across it. Something moved inside.

Now he wanted to run, except that somehow he couldn't.

The egg hatched.

Nobody ever did find out what happened to Tim. He'd left work, after a day of annoying people, and just never made it home. Nobody knew what melted a 6-foot wide and 50-foot long gash into (and through) the road, either. It was, after all, a very quiet street of tiny local businesses which all closed at around 5 pm, and could not afford and did not rate having their own CCTV.

Fortunately for everyone but Tim, the World-Turtle managed to -- well, not quite become airborne, since airborne is after all entirely the wrong word for a thing that swims through dimensions. But it found the dimensional lift that it required after only a very short crawl, and being one of the lucky ones headed out off the planetbound shore into the Great Rift, where it might find others of its kind to stack with and eventually, maybe, bring another world into being.

Story Cubes for 20-04-2015

I don't know if I will in fact manage this daily. I do know that a lot of it will be complete crap. Mostly I am putting this up publicly so that (a) I have a record of effort, and (b) I have some pressure on me to keep doing it.

Ignore it, or don't. YMMV.
intelligent interested

No way, lookie, I DO still exist!

1. I do not have cancer. That was my concern in 2013. I am perfectly fine with this result.

I may have a little bit screwed-up brain, but then, we all knew that already, didn't we. ;¬P

It isn't cancer. It's just occasionally wonky brain function...and to a large degree, it seems that this may have been brought on by stress, from an escalating cycle of bullying and stress at work, and chronic sleep deprivation.

Which leads to
2. I have a new job! Woohoo!

University. Development. Different management structure entirely. I can definitely live with this.

And so life continues on. I hope to catch up with people I knew, way back in the day....

One step forward, two steps back, and a sideways shuffle.

The good: I had a job interview last week, and it went reasonably well, and I know I'm on a shortlist of three and I should find out this week and I really want this job.

The bad: I've got cause to worry about breast cancer right now. I have an appointment on Thursday to find out more. I don't know for sure, and I may get lucky with this and have it be something a bit lot less drastic...but it's so hard not to get wound up and worry right now.

The sideways shuffle (what, you didn't think you would get an entire post without some political flavour, did you?): The US Congresscritters are still involved in their strop, are STILL throwing their toys out of the pram, and are STILL in a position to tank the world economy (again) in so doing. I would really like to see this not happen any more, and for those of you who vote, it's time to remind your local Congresscritter of that fact. These people get paid more than 95% of Americans do, it is not unreasonable to expect them to sit down and talk like adults.

I just want to mention, relevant because of all this stupidity rolling around about healthcare in the US right now: this is why I can't move back to the US even if I wanted to. I have such cause to be so very grateful for the existence of the NHS right now.
also somewhat annoyed

American Politics

I would address it in more detail, but...

I can't. I just can't. There are too many people out there addressing it anyway.

The things I would really like to point out are that some of the organisations currently shut down, are precisely the ones that would keep people from needing more healthcare in the future. Like food inspections by the FDA (not happening), infectious disease monitoring by the CDC (on hold), and medical research in the NIH (paralysed).

...I am actually genuinely considering giving up my US citizenship out of extreme disgust with the whole pack of idiots.
intelligent interested

I exist

A Man Said to the Universe

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!"
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

-- By Stephen Crane

And.....slightly belatedly....rabbits.
angora rabbit 2

False Economies

Yes, more about US politics, I'm afraid.

The Republicans have been trying their hardest to cut funding for all the things they hate. I mean, at least they've been seen to be trying; for some of it, you can only guess that they know they'll fail, but they can proudly point to the fact that they tried, and it will make the people who voted for them very, very happy. The degree to which this is merely cynical manipulation of the electorate is left to the reader's imagination.

Some of it I can understand, if one were to accept the Republican viewpoint as valid. Take the House vote to defund Planned Parenthood a couple of weeks ago, for example. I mean, Planned Parenthood provide sex education, support for pregnant single women, and worst of all abortions; since sex education (beyond "abstinence only") seems to be generally frowned on, single mothers are obviously the downfall of society, and abortions are obviously evil (<--sarcasm, here, folks), then it makes absolute sense that PP are bad and should not have any Federal support. Nevermind the fact that abortions are less than 3% of what they do, their low-cost contraception, prenatal wellness and cancer screening for poor women takes up far more of their time and effort and money, and they fill a healthcare gap for poor women where there is no other service in existence which covers this area in the US; and nevermind that they already keep Federal funds strictly sequestered for non-abortion healthcare. Abortion=bad="PP should not get support" (let's face it, healthcare for poor women was never a Republican priority under the best of circumstances).

But then we get to their vote to kill the funding for Poison Control Centers.


The American Association of Poison Control Centers takes over 4 million calls per year. Each call costs in the region of $30-$40. An ER visit will inevitably -- MUST inevitably -- cost far more than that, and in the case of the many uninsured, will cost the government and other taxpayers. The majority of Poison Control Center calls actually result in the case NOT having to go to the ER. As the NY Times article points out, "A study in the Journal of Medical Toxicology estimated that the poison centers saved the State of Arizona alone $33 million a year."

(And as a healthcare worker has pointed out elsewhere, sorry don't have the link to hand, even ER technicians make use of Poisone Control Center expertise!)

And it's not like only poor kids of single mums get poisoned.

So what, exactly, is the rationale, here? "We have too many people, let's get rid of a few on a random basis"? And nevermind the increased cost in all the states, when overburdened ERs get hit with this new double-whammy?

It beggars belief, it frankly does.

Yes, a tough budget means tough choices, but this is not sensible under any particular way that I can stretch that word.

....That's leaving aside Obama's massive betrayal of his electorate in his decision to defund Energy Assistance for the elderly poor, something the Republicans didn't even ask for, and all the other ways in which the budget overall looks like a war against women, children and the poor, because as everyone knows, the best way to get the country out of a deep recession and avoid depression is to let the poor keep getting poorer. But hey; at least the military is still able to spend millions sponsoring NASCAR. It's a good thing that they know what's important, right?