Saturday, April 29, 2017

Food Preparation

Right, so:

Firstborn, who will turn eleven years old in June and is currently nearing the end of Fifth Grade, came to us a few weeks back and suggested that we needed to be eating healthier food, and that we should maybe join one of those Send-You-A-Meal programs.

This turns out to have been possibly the most brilliant suggestion that anyone in our household -- and I'm including both the Beautiful Wife and Myself, here -- has come up with in the last five years.

We get three meals a week. Firstborn cooks them, under adult supervision. He has learned to prepare meat and roast vegetables; he has learned to chop, slice, and peel things. He has read and followed directions, but he's actually been surprisingly good at that since he first learned to read. And so far, we've only had two injuries: he's sliced his own finger once, and his mother's finger once. Neither had required more than some Neosporin and a bandaid to fix.

We're now entering our third week of this, and so far the meals have been consistently Very Good, and in several cases Excellent. This, after being prepared by a ten-year-old.

Even more amazing: it's gotten Firstborn, and to a lesser extent his brother, to try some things that they simply wouldn't have touched under any normal circumstance. Cauliflower. Brussel Sprouts. Heck, it's gotten me eating pork in non-bacon forms and actually liking it.

But possibly the biggest revelation to come out of this whole thing (at least for me) is the discovery that it's not that I don't like vegetables. It's that for my entire life, most of the vegetables I've been served have just been badly prepared. Cook them right, pair them with a proper bit of protein, and they're scrummy.

I never would have guessed.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Whence Came This Tupperware?

Responding to this writing prompt from Lilith Saintcrow...

I'll just drop it here, pulsed Heerath, setting the scanner between a rock and one of the oddly-tall local plants, by the side of one of the human roads.

What? Nebath pulsed back. Don't do that. It's right out in the open.

That's why we shaped it, remember? Heerath felt its antennae flex with annoyance. It looks just like one of their artifacts.

Do you even know what kind of artifact it resembles? Nebath had turned, creating a faint shimmer in the air despite the best efforts of its active camouflage. One of the humans was approaching rapidly, accompanied by one of the various domestic animals that the race apparently cultivated. If it's shaped to resemble their detritus, they'll likely dispose of it. If it's shaped to resemble something useful, they'll take it for their own use. They're not going to just leave it lying there.

Heerath rippled its tendrils in irritation. Esteemed Xenosociologist Teer selected this shape as one of the items that the humans would ignore. Of course, Esteemed Xenosociologist Teer also theorized that the humans kept these other species around for religious reasons, and Heerath felt pretty safe in assuming that meant that the xenosociologist had no idea why the humans seemed to prefer to live with lower lifeforms. Explorers were forbidden to argue with any of the Prime, but that didn't mean that Esteemed Xenosociologist Teer had any idea what he was talking about.

Nebath didn't argue, though. The human approaches, it pulsed back. We'll know soon enough.

They backed away, moving across the street. The denizens of this world had a very limited sensory range, and their active camouflage should have kept them undetectable; but every explorer had been trained with the reflex that distance equated to safety when confronted with the unknown. As far as Heerath was concerned, there was far too much about this world that fell into that category, and Nebath evidently agreed.

The human slowed, then stopped and looked down at the scanner.

I told you, pulsed Nebath.

Heerath sent back the brief, minuscule pulse that demanded silence.

The human stood for a long moment, regarding the scanner. Doubtless the xenobiology cohort was ecstatic, in their analysis-space back on the ship. So much data, gathered at such close range...

The quadruped made a little hopping motion, pulling at the strand that connected it to the human's manipulator, and the human glanced at it. Then the human turned its head back to the scanner and pulled a device from its belt. Something flickered, and Heerath and Nebath both made themselves very still.

Then the quadruped pulled ahead, and this time the human went along with it.

What was that? Heerath knew it sounded nervous.

Neerath curled its tendrils. A brief flare of electromagnetic radiation in a very tight set of wavelengths.

Did it just... Heerath paused, considering the implications. Did it just scan our scanner?

I think so, yes.

Using what?

Nebath rippled its tendrils, the gesture puzzled and slightly frantic. I don't know. A burst of electromagnetic on that frequency wouldn't penetrate much of anything, but I didn't detect whatever else it was using.

This is bad. Heerath settled its tendrils by an act of will. All right, we're going to abort. I'll retrieve the scanner. You call for extraction.

Agreed, pulsed Nebath, then began configuring itself for a deep pulse. Heerath crossed the street and lifted the scanner, risking a momentary break in its active camouflage so it could conceal the scanner underneath. By the time Nebath had finished the call, Heerath had returned and was waiting.

They had only a brief wait. The scout ship settled over them, its cone-shape rendered theoretically undetectable by its own active camouflage. It manifested a floor beneath them, and began a cautious ascent back to the August Science Vessel. I'll inform the Primes that we must make a full withdrawal, pulsed Heerath. This planet is dangerous.

I offer my ardent agreement to your assessment, Nebath pulsed back. As far as Heerath was concerned, that settled the matter. An Explorer Second could offer correction, provide additional insights, or outright disagree with the conclusions of an Explorer First, but a unanimous finding would not be ignored even by the Primes. The study would be abandoned, the planet marked as unacceptably dangerous, and the August Science Vessel withdrawn to study some safer prospect.

A brief wind stirred the dust on the street below. Somewhere, a dog was barking.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Music: Bloodborne Rap

So, I showed Firstborn the "You Died" song, and he told me I needed to listen to the Bloodborne Rap.

And since I refuse to face this alone, here you go:

Hey, if you weren't curious, you should never have agreed to submit to blood ministration.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Past The Rocks and Shelves

The cart moved slowly down the aisle. One wheel creaked with every turn: Yeenk. Yeenk. Yeenk. The two boys pushing the cart couldn't hear it, though. Their ears were stuffed with wax. Their job was simply to push, moving the heavy cart from one end of the aisle to the other. They would not empty their ears until the danger was past.

The man in the cart was heroically built, but his body was hunched over with his knees just below his chin. The breadth of his shoulders was bent down by the heavy ropes that crossed over them, tying him firmly to the cart. His wrists and ankles were similarly bound, tied together and held fast against the metal of the shopping cart. He looked ahead with curiosity and a hint of trepidation; there was no wax in his ears. That was what the ropes were for.

They were a third of the way down the aisle when the song began, rising from the shelves along either side. There things there: unnatural things, but alluring. The first faint strains of their song caressed his ears, and his arm twitched involuntarily. He stilled it, but the song continued.

They near the center of the aisle.

Then the full power of the song comes upon him, and he struggles against his restraints. The boys pause, exchange glances, then draw more ropes from beneath the cart. Deaf to his cries, his pleas, his commands, they bind the man tighter still. When they have finished, they return to pushing the cart. The man curses them, but of course they cannot hear him.

The song crests, then begins to grow quieter as they near the far end of the aisle. The man's struggles grow less desperate, less violent, until finally he is still beneath the weight of the ropes. They emerge at last, and the boys steer the cart to safe harbor beside the dairy products. They pry the wax plugs from their ears, dig fingers in to scrape out the last little bits, and yawn to equalize the pressure. Then they set about untying the man, who slumps within the cart.

In that brief time, he has changed dramatically. His face has acquired new lines, and his hair is touched with gray. He is a sadder man, but wiser: he will carry the weight of this ordeal and the knowledge of the song for however much of life remains to him.

He has heard the song of the corn chips and survived.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Music: You Died

Apparently written in relation to Dark Souls, but let me tell you: this was exactly my experience with Bloodborne. Music by Miracle of Sound:

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ash Knight Scene 2

The House of Charity was a dark, squat stone building that sat on one side of an unlit, irregularly-cobbled street. As Edrin watched, a shadowy figure pushed off from the wall and staggered away, leaving a wet stain behind in the moonlight. It caught up with two other figures who were waiting and few steps away, and the trio wandered off together. Drunk on a workday, Edrin marveled. The last of the brandy-houses would have closed hours ago; likely this group was drinking from their own bottle. They'd have made easy targets had there been any thieves about, but this neighborhood only bordered on the dockside slums. Though poor, it was still respectable, and the young men were in little danger.

Edrin watched for a few minutes longer, then eased out of the shadowed doorway and crossed the street. Ignoring the sharp smell of urine, which carried clearly on the crisp night air, he stopped at stone arch that framed the wide front doors of the House of Charity. The doors were thick oak and bound in iron, but the one on the left had a narrow slot in it for donations.

Using his cloak to conceal his movements, Edrin began emptying the messenger's bag into the slot, one handful at a time. When it was empty, he rolled it up and tucked it behind his belt. He took a moment to survey the street, but at this hour it was completely empty. He could see a single light in the distance: the lantern of a solitary watchman, moving slowly along a cross-street. That was fine; even if he was seen, he was too far away to be identified, and most likely the Watch had no idea that anyone had been stealing from the High Temple. It wasn't the sort of thing that the priesthood would willingly admit.

The House of Charity was part of the temples, of course, but it was almost as far from the High Temple as it was possible to get. It was run by the cenobitic Order of San Tribulus, and the Gardeners (unlike the higher orders of the priesthood) took their vows of poverty, charity, healing, and support quite seriously. The High Priest's coins would be put to good use here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tweets from a Random Housecat

I started a new Twitter account, mainly for my own amusement. As with everything else I do, tweets are going to be somewhat erratic and I have no idea how long I'll keep it up. However, it's amusing me, and it might amuse the rest of you as well.

Random Housecat

Monday, April 17, 2017

Compassion Burnout and Empathy Fatigue

A post on Facebook recalled this memory:

Decades ago, my brother broke both his legs in a motorcycle accident... and shortly after that, had a bad reaction to the anesthesia. He was in another city, but not out of reach; maybe a four hour drive. Only, at the time, I was in the middle of a number of issues that would eventually culminate in a divorce from my then-wife. So when the news came in, my reaction was simply: I do not have it in me to engage with this as well. If he died, well, I was going to have to deal with that; and I was going to have to deal with the fact that I hadn't been there. Even understanding that that might be the outcome, though, this was just one thing too many for me to deal with.

Now, yes: you can tell me, or I can tell myself, that this is a terrible reaction to have when your brother might actually be about to die. And that may even be true. But it doesn't - didn't - change the fact that I simply didn't have it in me to deal with that at that particular time.

It happens.

(In this case, my brother lived; he attended a Halloween party a few months later costumed as someone with only *one* broken leg - not much of a disguise, really - and only has minor residual effects.)

Caregiver Burnout is a real thing.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Oh, Lordy...

The Whiskey-and-French-Fries dinner?

Yeah, that was not the best idea I ever had. Maybe not quite the absolute worst idea I ever had, but I'd put it somewhere in the top ten.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Rorschach Joke

I am (inexplicably) reminded of this:
Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, "Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says, "But doctor...I am Pagliacci.”

If you don't recognize the context, it's here:

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Music: Want You Gone

Since I seem to be on a Portal kick:

Work stuff is still dragging on. We'll see how this shakes out.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Music: Still Alive

I know I've been kind of absent lately; I'm trying to sort out some real-world, work-related stuff, and it's eaten both the blogging and the comic. On the plus side, I'm not dead yet.