Friday, April 30, 2010

Story of the Ruined City

I wish I had more time to write.

I few posts back, I wrote down what I remembered of a dream. The dream featured a multiplayer computer game, and while the "real world" elements of the dream (meeting people, setting up computers, logging in) were random and not that interesting, the game itself was. So, while we were in the hospital for the birth of Secondborn, I started writing about it.

If I were writing this chronologically, it would be a "white room" story: the protagonist wakes up with no idea where she is or what's going on, and the story proceeds from there. Of course, if I were writing it that way, it would be a book.

I'd like for it to be a book, eventually; but right now, it's taken me over two weeks to get to six pages. With the arrival of the newborn, the Beautiful Wife's allergic reaction (to the pain pills, we think), and Firstborn's tummy bug, it's amazing that I've captured even this much of the story.

And that's pretty much what I'm doing, here: capturing it. I'm basically writing a short story, alternating between action I remember from the dream and little bits of backstory to flesh out the situation. The idea is that later on (at this rate, possibly a few years later on), I can come back and rediscover not only the basics of the plot, but also the mood and feel of the story and setting. Hopefully this will help me remember not only what I wanted to write, but why I wanted to write it.

Whether I will then want to expand this piece to a full length book, or make it the first chapter of another book, remains to be seen. Both ideas are appealing, and I think I'll have to get some perspective on the piece before I know. (They aren't mutually exclusive, either; I could expand the piece into a book, then use the capsule version as a catch-me-up opening chapter for a sequel.)

Either way, it's nice to have a new world to play in.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reflections on Motivation

So why do we do it? If worshiping the Ancients is this much work, this much risk, this much trouble, why do we do it?

Part of it, of course, is just because we know we’re right. We know the things we worship are real. If you call Them, They come. You don’t get any more real than that.

One of the techs - let’s call him Toby - was talking about his beliefs at work the other day. I’m not sure if he meant to be witnessing, or if he was just really excited about the nice things he thought Jesus had done for him, but he went on for a good twenty minutes. He’d prayed to get into the right college, and he had; he’d prayed to get a scholarship so he could afford it, and he did; and while he was there, he met this wonderful Christian girl, and he hadn’t even prayed for that at all.

It’s times like that which really try my patience. I mean, on one level it was funny: him talking about these things as if they were proof that god was helping him along. But it got real tiresome, real fast. He was so wrong, but of course I couldn’t correct him. And he just went on and on, as if everything he said just made him want to say more. He was still talking when I went on break.

One of the nice things about working in a pharmacy is that there’s a lot of tools around. I didn’t need much for what I wanted: a little salt, a single match, and... well, anything more would be telling. It was just a little ritual; it only took a minute.

I came back inside just in time to see it. Toby was talking to... let's call her Claire. Then he coughed, excused himself, opened his mouth to continue... and threw up all over her shoes. I said, "Wow. Maybe God got tired of you talking about Him?"

Claire shot me a look, but I just shrugged. Toby blundered past her, heading for the bathrooms, while I went to fetch the paper towels (and some latex gloves).

End result? Toby went home for the day. Claire went home to change clothes (and probably shower; I didn't ask), then came back. Having Toby gone made for a busy day, but it was worth it.

So that's the other reason why we worship the Great Old Ones: it works.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Message to D/FW Drivers

Hey, you! Yeah, you - the one in the driver's seat. That thing you're driving on? It's called a road. Got that? Good. You see those little stripes that run up and down the road? They divide the road into lanes.

Now, the reason we have lanes - stay with me, here - the reason we have lanes is so that cars can travel side by side without bumping into each other. That means that you don’t have to wait: you can get onto the road even though I’m already on the road. Or vice versa. We can drive along, side by side, and as long as we stay in our lanes, we won’t bump into each other. That’s right, even when we’re going around a curve, or over a bridge, or... well, just about anything.

Thing is, the system only works if you stay in your lane. You start drifting into my lane, and bad things happen. So whatever it is that you’re doing, there in the driver’s seat? Do less of that, and more driving. Okay? Thanks.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Lunatic Fringe has found me

"DM" has started posting comments on my blog.

As I've mentioned before, I read (and comment on) a fair number of blogs run by agnostics, atheists, ex-Christians, and other unbelievers. I could do a long (and possibly even interesting) post on why this is, but let's make a token effort to stay on topic. "DM" has apparently noted my contributions, and decided to post some, er, contributions of his own. At a guess, he thinks that I'm some sort of militant atheist (I'm not), or else he thinks that my readership (all, what? ten of you) is a hotbed of subversive, anti-religious activity.

I've deleted these responses from the posts where they appeared, because A) they don't actually respond to the content of those posts, and B) they're essentially spam: identical, pasted-in responses which consist of a mixture of incoherent ranting and bizarre, semi-random links. Here's a sample:

Now I want you to listen to this little f*cker...


When I see your UGLY FACE I understand why you are an atheist




with the atheists:

they start begging when they start dying...


with their LIVES...



but you have NO ANSWER TO DEATH... therefore you FAIL...






Shermer - Harris - Myers - Dawkins - Randi VS. NOSTRADAMUS - EINSTEIN - MARKUZE



Repent and turn to God.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what to make of this. A (very minimal) bit of research indicates that DM is actually Dennis Markuze, of Montreal, Canada; apparently he also posts as David Mabus, along with various other pseudonyms. His behavior here is entirely typical: drive-by postings of copied-and-pasted text with no direct relevancy to whatever he's ostensibly responding to. (More information is available here, here, and here; or just put his name in a google search.) The text is, as a rule, incoherent and vaguely threatening; it's also utterly repetitive. (Seriously. The first time I ran across his comments, I thought they were being produced by a spambot, rather than a person.)

I'm sure that in DM's head, this is all really impressive. Out here in the real world, not so much; I mean, he's clearly dedicated to his work, but his work consists of pasting in a single, pre-written response over and over, ad nauseum. It's almost like some peculiar sort of performance art, except for the lack of any appreciable artistic merit. (Actually, I guess that really doesn't distinguish it from performance art, does it?)

The psychology of this thing fascinates me. So, while I'm tempted to pick apart the text of DM's comments, instead I'd like to ask him a few questions. The first one is simply this: what's the goal, here? In other words, what is it that you hope/intend to accomplish by posting these comments? What are you trying to do?

DM, if you do choose to respond, please post your responses without pasting in the rant. I'd like to have some sort of conversation, or at least an online interview; and that's really hard to do if I have to skim past a full page of unconnected comments and links every time you post. I don't mind comments from people who disagree with me, but I do ask that the responses be specific to the post.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Silly Chuch Signs

On my way into work, I saw one of those church signs. You know, the ones with the movable letters: they usually have some sort of proverb, or invitation, or spiritually uplifting message. They are also, far too often, trying desperately to be clever or relevant (or both, in this case). So, in tribute to Bruce Gerencser (of the late, lamented Restless Wanderings blog), I thought I'd offer my own installment of Silly Church Signs:


The message, clearly, is that Christianity is for people who just can't cope with their problems anymore. Okay, not really; I think the message is supposed to be that Jesus offers comfort when you're in need. But what really struck me about this was... well, look at this way: you reach the end of your rope; you find the hem of His robe; so you start climbing, right?

So now I'm struck by (and also stuck with) the image of a bunch of worshippers scurrying around inside Jesus' robes like mice in some poor woman's petticoats. Paul and Gabriel are shaking and fluffing the robe, trying to get them out, while Jesus dances around or tries to scramble onto a chair. (...Does the bible say whether Jesus was ticklish? 'Cause in this vision, He was giggling uncontrollably.) Oh, and Gabriel keeps accidentally knocking Paul in the head with one of his wings. Got that? Now picture all this happening to the music from Benny Hill, because that's how it appeared in my head.

Church signs: not the best place to try and be clever. Also, my brain comes up with the most random associations...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reflections on Discovery

Peter came into the store again yesterday. He came to collect his Diltiazem prescription, and asked me again if I was still worshiping “the Lord of This World”. I smiled, and told him that I still wasn’t ready for his fairy tales. We make this exchange - or something like it - every time he comes in.

The problem is, I don’t think he’s joking.

Peter is a priest. I’m pretty sure he’s retired, but he still wears the collar. He’s old. If I had to guess, I’d put him somewhere between my father and my grandfathers in age. Of course, my father looks about my age, and my grandfathers might be in their thirties. (I have two surviving great-grandparents: one looks to be just hitting forty, and the other has begun to change. I don’t think ‘youthful’ is the right word for the sort of vitality she has, but she’s certainly active.)

But Peter worships a false god, and the years have withered him. His hair is white, he’s shrunken and frail, and his hands shake when he reaches for his medication. But every month he comes in, and every month he confronts me... almost.

The church knows about us. At least, the Catholic and the Greek Orthodox do. They know there are people who worship the Old Ones, and they have some idea what the Old Ones are like. Nobody seems to be sure what the Protestants know, but it can’t be much or I’d have heard about it. They threw away too much history when they separated themselves from Rome. I don’t know how Peter recognized me, or how much he really understands; but I think, somehow, he recognized my allegiance.

There have always been people who were sensitive to outside influences. Many of them join us, but the ones who don’t are often our most dangerous opponents. I think Peter might be one of them. I think so, but I’m not sure. He never presses the issue, and I never ask him why he says what he says to me.

If I knew - for certain - that he knows what I am, I’d have to kill him. I don’t want to have to kill him. He seems like a nice old guy. Plus, murder is risky. If I changed his prescription, substituted something else, I could take him out easily... but I could lose my license or end up in jail, just as easily. With my value so diminished, I can't count on my fellow worshipers to help me out.

I think Peter knows that, too. That’s why he never accuses me of anything specific. If he did, one of us would have to kill the other. I don’t want to, and I don’t think he’s up to it. So we just keep moving on. Where does it end? I suppose we'll see.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Small Boy Has Arrived

Baby Roland arrived at 9:40 this morning, weighing in at 7 pounds, 14.8 ounces; length 19.75 inches. (Those of you with sensible units of measure will just have do the conversion, I'm afraid.) He was delivered by C-section and appears normal and healthy. Theron appears to be coping just fine, though he'd vastly prefer if his Mommy and Daddy would go home with him, now. (He's staying with his grandparents.) The parents (that would be us) are recovering, and will probably be back at full functionality within the next two years (or so).

(Click for larger image.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reflections on the Modern World

I have to say, worship is a lot easier nowadays than it used to be. I mean, if you wanted to learn more about the Great Old Ones in the old days, you had to go digging through moldering copies of ancient tomes, or study with sinister men in foreign ports, or seek out forgotten tribes in the dark corners of the world. If you were lucky, you’d receive some sort of nightmare vision, and write a scroll of your own – if you survived, of course.

Nowadays, it’s all in the database: indexed, cross-referenced, and available in easy-to-print pdf format. Not just every forbidden book and forgotten parchment, but even the different translations. Audio and video interviews with the last of the Worms of the Earth, or that tribe in the Amazon, or the centuries-old hermit who lives on the edge of the Plateau of Leng: they’re all in there. Transcripts are available at the click of a mouse.

That’s not all, either. Ever had to kidnap someone by throwing them across the back of a horse? My father did that. Nowadays, he swears by the simple utility of a van or SUV. All but the most remote locations can be reached by airplane, Jeep, or motorcycle if the configuration of the stars requires it.

And the drugs! In my grandfather’s day, they mostly used alcohol. Maybe laudanum, or curare, or ether – if they could get it. Nowadays, you can get drugs for anything – helping people remember, making them forget, fixing them up or breaking them down. The stuff is so useful, it’s almost a shame that the Ancients are going to destroy it all when they finally rise.

You know what I really like, though? The clothing. In the old days, it was all heavy, embroidered robes or dancing naked in the moonlight – and catching pneumonia, like as not. I still remember my grandmother scrubbing and scrubbing to get the blood and offal out of grandpa’s robe. Nowadays, most ceremonies are business casual – and for the rare few that require something more… specialized… we have stain-resistant fabrics.

Sure, some of the Elders grump about it – want everything done the same as it was when they were young. And I guess there was a certain style to the old ways. But really, it’s so much more convenient these days… I doubt even the Elders really want to go back.

Dream of the Ruined City

I have spent the last two nights dreaming about playing a really intriguing MMORPG. It was set in a massive, partly-ruined city; the architectural flavor was a bit old-fashioned and European. The buildings tended to top out around three or four stories, and - the night before last - the whole place had a dark, gritty feel to it. There was a large, open area of rubble, which looked like the result of a bomb or something large crashing into the city; a few streets beyond that was a large stone temple set on a hillside. Inside the temple was a progression of battles; each victory offered you a selection of new powers and abilities, until the last. If you challenged darkness at the heart of the temple, it slapped you down - hard.

Last night, I discovered that the other side of the city was cleaner, brighter, more given to white marble than grey stone. There were also heaps more character possibilities than I'd been aware of, and it was a very mix-and-match system. I don't remember the details (they seemed very clear at the time, but either that was dream-certainty or else I've lost them since then), but I have a sense that while some areas of study were contradictory, you could learn all sorts of different abilities. Over on the darker side of town, you gained power and skill by defeating things; on the light side of town, you gained power and skill by helping people.

My character had (or had adopted?) a very Victorian appearance, with a dark coat and top-hat and a cane; I have the impression that there were a lot of different looks available, not all of them belonging to the same time period.

The overall dynamic seemed to be that the dark things had taken over, or moved in to, one side of the city. Some people were fighting them back, and some were dealing with them in exchange for power, and some were doing both by turns; the balance of power was pretty delicate. I imagine - though this was not part of either dream - that there was a lot of political intrigue going on. I have no idea what the ordinary citizens were doing; the denizens of this city seemed to be mainly squatters or scavengers or survivors, as if the solid citizens had fled or died. All sorts of supplies were available, but seldom in quantity.

I have no idea where this came from, or if I'll dream about it again; if there's a game like this already, I don't know about it. (And I don't play MMORPGs at all, so the game mechanics and whatnot in the dream were all based on one-player computer RPGs.) Still... if I had a skilled development team and a couple of years to work on it, I would totally try to build this.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Light Blogging

So, Secondborn is due to be delivered by Caesarian Section on Wednesday morning. I will be with Beautiful Wife in the hospital while this happens.

I have steadfastly resisted the urge to liveblog the event, or even Twitter my way through it, so odds are extremely good that I won't be making much in the way of updates until sometime next week. (I do have one pre-written episode of Reflections of a deranged cultist which will go up... probably late Tuesday night.) Take care, and remember - you don't have to get work done, just because I'm not here to entertain you...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Afternoon joke

First guy: "You know, you really need to get your tires rotated."
Second guy: "What are you talking about? They rotate all the time. That's how the car goes."

Okay, so that was completely lame. What's keeping you amused on a Friday afternoon?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Arrogance in Action

See, here's the thing: the moment you start explaining to someone that their experience can't possibly be what they say it is, it must be what you say it is, you're being an asshole. If you have any sense at all, you'll take that as your cue to shut up.

Daddy is Broken

To the tune of "Morning Has Broken"...

Daddy is broken,
like the first Daddy.

Shoulder has spoken,
Damn it is sore.

Lifting the boy was,
not a good plan, then.

Not in good shape, now,
Not anymore.

I don't know why it's my left shoulder, in particular, that hurts. Mostly, I was lifting the boy up to the bars so he could hang and then drop. Oh, well... time to take some Ibuprofen and get back to work.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reflections on Conformity

You know what the worst thing is about worshipping the Great Old Ones? Learning to act “normal”. I mean, we’re raised in these isolated areas: decaying farmhouses, innocent-seeming orphanages, “survivalist” (ha!) compounds in Texas and Wyoming... And then we have to go out into the world. Some of us do, anyway.

Take me, for instance. I work at a pharmacy in a suburb of Austin. I’ve been doing this for eight years – and that’s just the job; I’m not even counting the education – all so my fellow worshippers can have access to certain sorts of pharmaceuticals when they need them. I have a lot of practice fitting in.

But just yesterday, one of the technicians sneezed, and I came this close to saying... well, never mind, I can’t really repeat that here. The point being, it wasn’t “Bless you” or “Gesundheit”.

Oh, it had been a long night – the virgin sacrifice ran late – and I was tired and not thinking too clearly. It’s not even as if anyone would have understood me; there are only a handful of the Ignorant who can even read that language – nobody speaks it. That’s no excuse, though. There are no excuses. If those words had left my lips where unbelievers could hear them, the Whisperers would have come for me... and that’s something I don’t care to contemplate without a stiff drink in hand.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

You just can't win

During my brilliantly misspent youth, I spent some time at a drug and alcohol rehab. (I was recently reminded that when I say that, I should be sure to emphasize that I was employed there, rather than being a guest of the facility.) I was on the adolescent boys' wing, and this was not, let us say, an ideal job. The management was atrocious, the pay was abysmal, and the work was unrewarding. However, it allowed me to work nights - and night shifts were usually slow, so I could study. And there were some interesting bits; I learned more about Twelve Step programs than I ever wanted to know.

That was also the first time I'd really done any serious thinking about the nature of denial and the role it plays in human behavior. Denial can be a problem for anyone; for addicts, it's one of the mechanisms that allow people to continue self-destructive activities long after the point where any objective assessment would tell them to stop. As a result, learning to recognize and overcome denial is a large part of the treatment process.

So how do you tell if someone is an addict? The primary distinction is whether or not the person can stop. For drinkers, one test is whether you can cut yourself off after two drinks. (This leads to numerous, and often amusing, stories about ways people have tried to fudge the test; for example: "He only had two drinks, but each of them was a twenty-ounce mug that was half full of rum!" Denial and rationalization in action...) Another way to look at the question is whether the behavior is causing trouble in other areas of a person's life. Is drinking (etc.) causing poor performance at work or school? Is it leading them to make bad decisions that get them into trouble?

It's probably worth noting that addiction is often part of a larger pattern of destructive behavior. This often makes cause and effect hard to determine, and also means that a lot of treatment focuses on changes in lifestyle: finding new hobbies, learning how to make better friends, and like that.

Anyway, the problem with that kind of assessment is that you have to know what's going on in someone's life. You have to see their behavior in order to evaluate it. That takes time, resources, and access to the person. Counselors, as a general rule, don't have any of that.

So if you've been sent to rehab (and the adolescents were almost always sent, by either their parents or the court), there is essentially no way to establish that you are not an addict. If you try to say that you aren't, the counselor will automatically assume that you're in denial, which is clear evidence that you're an addict. If you try to lay out the specific details of your behavior, they will assume that you are rationalizing, downplaying, or lying outright about your usage - because, again, that's what addicts do. Pretty much anything you say, do, or offer just provides further proof that you're an addict.

This is the best example of a real-world Catch 22 that I've ever encountered. It's also exceedingly frustrating to deal with (but don't get angry about it; then you're acting out, which is - again - further proof of addiction). Hell, it was frustrating to watch - because I knew that inevitably, the facility was going to wind up with some boys who didn't actually need to be there. There was no way, in that system, to account for the fact that the world is full of people who simply aren't addicts.

I bring this up because it's a very similar dynamic to the one I mentioned in a previous post: the idea that if you aren't a Christian, it must because you've never heard about Jesus; or, if you're an ex-Christian, that you must never have been exposed to True Christianity - you were never really a Christian in the first place (I John 2:18-20). I've even encountered the (rather daft) argument that since the Bible says people will leave the faith (1 Timothy 4), the fact that people leave the faith is actually proof that the Bible is true.

The problem with both of these views is that they narrow down the available options, creating a sort of logical trap. The only way to disagree with them is to reject the validity of the whole setup. Depending on the power dynamic, that may or may not be possible.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Book o' Parenting

Back when my first child was born, I decided to create an online journal about it. I hadn't yet created this blog, so I'd just write things out, put them in html, and add them to my website. This actually works pretty well, not least because it keeps the parenting stuff separate from the writing and ranting.

I'm still doing that, so if anyone is interested in reading about my experience as a parent, I invite you to check out the Book o' Parenting. There is also a mailing list, which I use to notify people when I make updates there. (Yes, I'll catch up with the current technologies one of these days. No, it probably won't be any time soon.) If you're interested in that sort of thing, you can join the mailing list by sending an e-mail to It's a one-way list, and won't make much impact on your inbox; I make updates (and send notices) about once a month.

They went there...

So I'm driving around D/FW a week ago, and I see that the "I Am Second" sign has changed. For those unfamiliar with the program, it's a Christian (but theoretically nondenominational) ad campaign which - until now - features an image of someone's face, the words "I am second" and a website. I've talked a little about this before; for the most part, it just strikes me as... odd.

There is a curious conceit among certain sorts of Christians that if someone is not a Christian, it must be because they have never heard the Good News of Jesus. As far as I can tell, this is mainly a holdover from two thousand years ago, when it might actually have been the case. In modern North America, however, people who have never been introduced to Christianity are few and far between. So the idea that Christians must spread the word (or spread the Word) seems a bit, well, silly.

(There is another possible explanation for why this view persists in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary: if Christianity represents Ultimate Truth, then you need an explanation for why some people don't agree with it. The idea that they must not know - or, more insultingly, must not understand - fills that need. By the same token, if they do understand but still don't believe, they must be angry at God or unwilling to turn away from their sins. The part where these views deny the possibility of any legitimate disagreement with Christian teachings is not a bug; it's a feature. Truth be told, I think that this explanation works in tandem with the leftover-from-long-ago explanation.)

...But I digress. Anyway, the ad campaign so far has been just abunch of people saying, basically, that they're putting God/Jesus first in their lives. While this strikes me as a bit useless (and/or unnecessary), that's fine.

The new sign said:

It's not about the bunny

After I'd finished my moment of blank incomprehension, and finally managed to parse that, I realized that they must be talking about Easter. The implication is that the holiday is not about chocolate bunnies and hidden eggs, it's about the resurrection of Our Lord And Savior.

Now, I could point out the actual origins of the bunnies, eggs, and other fertility symbols; I could talk about Christianity's long history of co-opting pre-existing pagan holidays; and I could point out that if Christianity had actually established its own holy days instead of taking over others, this confusion wouldn't exist in the first place. I won't, because that wasn't what really disturbed me about this.

What really disturbed me about this was the prospect that now, every spring, we're going to have to listen to moronic talking heads on the television as they blather away about the War On Easter.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Apocalypse River 001

Tammon crouched at the edge of the inlet, spear held ready. The water was only a little murky, and the overhanging trees held back the sunlight that would have turned the still surface into a mirror. Nobody hunted down at the river anymore; not since that fish - or whatever it was - had dragged Sashil into the water last year. The inlet was shallow enough to keep out the larger predators, and as a result made a good site to spear smaller fish; but Tammon remained cautious anyway. Old Man Gaston said that in his youth, the fish had stayed in the water, and maybe that was so; but that world was gone.

A hopper swam into view, and Tammon raised his spear. It was a light, thin weapon, fast rather than strong. The hopper’s tail drifted back and forth, holding it still against the slight current; its front fins raised and lowered lazily. The second fins, below those, looked suspiciously like paws tucked against its belly. They were useless in water, but allowed the fish to hop around on the shore for as long as it could stand the air.

The tree branches stirred above him, but Tammon didn’t move. He knew that tree, and it only ate birds and the stupider sorts of rodents. If he flinched, he would scare the hopper away, and the food situation in the village would become even more precarious. The hopper drifted closer, but Tammon remained still, barely even breathing.

It darted towards the shore, and his spear flashed down. His first thrust missed, but the hopper was breaking water and didn’t see it. His second strike pierced its scales and pinned it to the ground; it gave a low, moaning sigh. Tammon twisted, holding it place with the spear while he extended his net. He had to be sure it was covered before he lifted it; he’d seen hoppers and other fish twist off of spear tips and push themselves into the water. It was only a temporary escape - the other fish brought the wounded down almost immediately - but it still cost the village food.

The village is dying anyway, he thought, as he raised the netted fish and reached for his knife. We cower back from the river we depend on. Like the fish - if you could believe Old Man Gaston - the river had once been merely water, flowing from one place to another. Now it grew increasingly strange - like everything else in the world, only faster. Tammon could remember when his father, and others, had taken boats across it, or rowed out to the center to fish the deeper waters. Nobody would dare that now.

He stood, holding his prize in the net, and wrenched the spear free. Then he heard the warning bell from the village, and knew that they were dying faster than anyone had expected.


Anger is an odd thing for me. I have a long, slow fuse. Push me a little, and I'll move. Push me a little more, and I'll move again. Again, and I'll withdraw further - maybe a big step, so I don't have to deal with you. Push me far enough, and eventually I will go for the throat - which usually comes as a surprise to the sort of person who thinks that a lack of immediate response is a reason to keep pushing.

I don't suppress my anger - not consciously or deliberately, at any rate. But I have a hard time getting angry, and it doesn't happen very often. As a result, I sometimes don't realize that I *am* angry until we're well past the point of no return. There have been times when the sudden rush of anger is a great relief: finally I know how to react to this. It's a relief because the times when I've reached this point have been well past the point where any reasonable person would already have gotten angry.

And once angry, I don't easily let go. Oh, I don't stay angry; what would be the point? I'm not vindictive, for much the same reason. But if someone manages to get me truly angry, I don't forget it. And I treat that person accordingly. There's no point in communicating with someone like that; no point in treating them like a person.

My brother has a much quicker temper; also a much firmer, more black-and-white sense of right and wrong. (So does my mother, actually.) Cross his boundaries, and he'll let you know immediately and in no uncertain terms. I've watched him do this, and sometimes I'm jealous of it. Sometimes, it saves him an awful lot of trouble. Other times, it causes problems that he could have avoided with a more patient approach.

As a general approach, they both work; what I'd really like is the ability to use both, and to know which response is appropriate to the situation. Because sometimes one is a real advantage, and other times the other one is.