So, I got a job just last Thursday: I'm going to be a proper chemist (well, "Contract Formulations Chemist" but yeah, not an internship, actually doing chemistry,) as soon as I start on Monday.
This may mean I'm less social in the immediate future while working on other projects. Speaking of -
- I'm a hair's breadth from finishing the first draft of Switchpoint.
- Progress has been made on the new chapter of the EHL. Granted, large portions of that are written rather than filmed, but I have less than twenty new scenes to film (as of now) and a better plan for the next two chapters, which will include an interlude. This one may even be relatively short - no four-post several hundred picture monsters this time around.
- Despite my better judgement, I made a simblr for those of you interested in that. It updates on a "when I can be assed to import pictures to the laptop" basis. I'm also still working on the graphics for the banner/my new EHL banner in general. Yeah, I'm mouse-drawing trees again.
- I am now almost caught up with Secondhand Reviews, meaning that I ought to finish one of the two books I'm currently reading (Diana Wynne Jones' The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Ursula K. Le Guin's The Disposessed.) Especially since I finally ovaried up and reviewed the shitpile that is Lunar Descent, which has been sitting on my "to do" pile for almost three months. It is almost (but not quite) as bad as the Gideon Crew novels, if anybody here besides MM remembers my first attempt at book reviews. ;)
- I made massive amounts of progress cleaning a triceratops braincase/squamosal fragment. (I'm no expert and it's not quite clean enough for diagnostics yet. Whatever undergrad inherits my glorious bone had better be grateful and avoid scraping the edges.)
In other news, I continued to publish fanfiction: I blame Jupiter Ascending for being a terrible trainwreck with bees.
... with no little shame, I present to you Sovreignty: or Space Bees, the Ficlet.
And I'm going to PaleoFest next weekend, which is a formal-dress convention for fossil nerds in Rockford, IL. (It probably means I'm going to hang out with my dino-lab coordinator and the professor that runs the museum while satisfying my curiosity about the Triceratops I've been working on, but the fraternal unit has plans for meeting and greeting the senior paleontologists in 'his field' rather than learning about pollen like me.)
I tried to write something for femmeslash February. It didn't work, it isn't finished, and you guys are just going to have to wait for me to stop trying to get through Switchpoint for pointless Allie and Lindsay fluff. Until then, have something I wrote in December for the 30 day OTP challenge, in which Allie and Lindsay watchThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and thus ensure that they will go to the special hell reserved for people who talk in the theatre.
The Special (Effects) Hell
“It’s such a lovely painted circus tent,” I said to Allie, sotto voce, as we watched the crowd onscreen gather around a stage. She nudged me for silence, though we were the only people in the theater besides the projectionist and a young couple in front who were thoroughly engrossed in each other: the benefit of going to the movies at two on a Tuesday afternoon. “It looks like the walls are made of rubber,” I added a moment later, as two young ladies, their arms around each other’s waists, bought tickets.
The orchestra segued from playing a jaunty tune suited to a carnival, to an odd tense scampering as the magician worked his magic. I couldn’t help but glance over at Allie to see how she took it – she was busy rolling her eyes.
“Somnambulism,” she muttered.
“Sleepwalking is a magical experience,” I told her with a grin. She didn’t dignify that with a response until a moment later, when she read the card onscreen. “Look into your future?” she hissed, incredulous, “seriously.”
“Shhh, we’re in the theater,” I told her facetiously. The next title card, which read you die at dawn, seemed to me to be a little overdramatic, but we followed the orchestra along and then saw a young woman in a long shawl walking through a ridiculously crooked “alleyway” with two young men, and I started laughing – trying hard to stifle it to avoid drawing the attention of the young couple in the front row.
“Theater, remember?” Allie murmured.
“The shadows are painted on the walls,” I said, when I could breathe, “I don’t care about the quack magician, this might just be the best movie I’ve ever seen.”
Allie rolled her eyes and slipped her hand into mine. I smiled warmly over at her and settled in, still giggling a little, to watch what I was sure was going to be the funniest horror film in the world. The only thing missing was the popcorn.
~ *** ~
*Popcorn was "invented" well before 1900, but it was popularized in movie theaters until the very late 1920's, which is both a little too late to be equivalent to the world where Allie and Lindsay chose to live most of the time, and waaaaaay too late to be congruent with early silent films. Yes, I did research for a 300 word drabble that isn't canon. Fear Me.
Things I need to do this coming year:
1) Finish Swtichpoint. This one's non-negotiable - it's not done yet because, as it turns out, having a 40 hour work week is actually slightly more work than my last semester of college was. (Also, there's that plothole in the middle, but we don't talk about that - if it thinks it's not welcome, it may go away!)
2) Go looking for a more permanent job. Unfortunately, this will cut into the time I have to do everything else, but better now than this time next year when my internship suddenly ends. Fortunately, I've still got quite a few months, and my current boss is pretty pleased with me, so she'll be a good reference. I just hope that something actually worth my while comes up... it would need to pay significantly better than what I've got now for me to be able to move.
3) Put out some more chapters for the Elven Heritage Legacy. It forces me to write modern-day, primarily character conflict stuff, which is something that I do not do on a regular basis if I can avoid it. (It also forces me to write a variety of ages and a relatively large cast.) The other reason it's good for me is that I miss it when I haven't worked on it in a while. It's stalled because I'm procrastinating taking pictures, I've been spending too much time on Tumblr and on other projects - including my book reviews and the chapter I sporked of Draco Sinister, and I managed to catch a very nasty cold two weeks ago that makes me sleep a lot. Fortunately, as of tonight, I'm rid of both the cold and the sporking. Well, I finished the sporking, and that cold better see itself out the door.
For those of you who don't care how I draw: look at that snarl and that shark!
Last up, one of my own darlings, Aliea (Allie) Veldon. (A few of you may know her from her appearance in Poor Unfortunate Souls.) I'm slowly learning to color properly in GIMP. The colors are still a little flat (and I have no clue how to draw buttons,) but it's a start!
To do this to a drawing (after I've blocked in light colored pencil, and finalized in regular pencil, and scanned) I keep upping the contrast and dragging down the brightness, and color selecting and erasing the colored pencil, until I get lines like this. Then I lasso each colored area (say, the skin) create a new layer for it under the lines, and fill it with the appropriate color. Then I muck around and add highlights and shadows that are horribly timid and make very little difference.
I don't remember how long it took to draw her (too long) because I did it back in January. It took me about 40-50 minutes to clean and color her, mostly because I kept derping and having to fix my selections. Coloring something with more people would take longer... which is what I'm working on now, because I don't know when to quit.
Anyhow, this has been my adventures with the scanner!
Then this happened...
Yup. I don't know why Live Journal switched over to Spanish, or how to switch it back, but given that I'm supposed to be fluent in this language, I might as well keep it. I don't even know why the message box is in Spanish but after I hunted through my homepage, half of the buttons, like journal stats, were in English. The funniest thing? It took me about ten minutes to notice the language switch initially.
Oh! Also I am alive and learning about current events in Spanish, and Ancient Sumerians. I am also kicking the rockwall's ass. And, you know, applying for jobs and have finished my semifinal draft for thesis. (As well as 14,000 words of Switchpoint.)
How is everyone else?
(Now, how did that font become the semi-official header font for the whole series? Eh. It's pretty and readable, which is the only thing that matters. Besides, formatting doesn't matter in a first draft so long as you do the right paragraph breaks and can find where you left off without having to re-read the whole thing. Not pictured here: witty chapter titles. Yes, I have a confession to make: witty chapter titles are often the last thing that I think of.)
So far, my J-term schedule has been
1) Pound the snot out of paper pulp for three straight hours in the morning, and then throw water everywhere in the name of art.
2) Spend two hours in the afternoon pounding the snot out of bags of dirt, then sift through them for seeds and discard any dead beetles I find.
3) Work on Switchpoint for some amount of time between fifteen minutes and an hour. Despite my own laziness, sh_marr's competitive spirit and unsubtle taunting (we're racing to the ends of our respective novels this semester: blame S. and not me for that brilliant idea,) has driven me to complete the scariest 2,000 odd words ever since we started last week: the official beginning of my entire series... and the first impression anyone will ever have of it.
4) Get distracted by the internet, watching movies and shows with the girls (I'm catching up on Supernatural one painful episode at a time, and I'm letting myself watch Sherlock, in accordance with how many chapters I get done,) going to the gym, or booting the sims and making over Riverblossom Hills. Or just doing anything that doesn't involve a) having the main cast age, b) actual shooting pictures. I'm also avoiding Myst 4 Revelations because I am stuck. And thoughts of what happens after Thesis - job hunting and the real world.
Time to go start chapter 2... and blow off class-related research about Chuck Close, considering that I had to write a three page biography of him and do a portfolio of three pieces in his style for honors art sophomore year of high school. I better damn well know who chuck close is, guys. It's his fault that I once made a 24"x36" self-portrait using nothing but my own fingerprints (and my thumbnails dipped in ink when my fingers weren't fine enough.)
This is how artists go mad, guys. Not that being a scientist has a better outlook for continued sanity...
Last Year's highlights:
Since I have no clue when I started the EHL anymore (I think it was some time in the summer of 2010 or even earlier... my notes say that the first post was in late August of 2009,) I'm counting this year as the official fifth year of my legacy. New readers be warned - I didn't take the first five or so chapters seriously beyond editing for grammar and consistency. The quality has increased exponentially since then, so it might be best to hop in at The Three Musketeers part two or three. Or if you want the quick version, start with Memoria. Either way, the EHL is by no means required reading, and definitely not dead, despite my extremely awful updating schedule. The next chapter, Sophomoric, will be chapter twelve on my official counter and out soonish. Emphasis on the ish.
June: I went to Israel. I also dug up some stuff. I saw every single Corinthian column in the country, it seems like. I then came home and spent the rest of the summer working on the Thesis which shall not be named, which went badly enough that I had to start over.
August - December: I worked on Thesis, take two. I also researched and wrote Poor Unfortunate Souls, the forty-thousand-odd word novella length spitefic that was born after I got so mad that Fifty Shades of Grey existed that I decided to research the crimes that were actually committed in the book and end it as civilization, human decency, and common sense intended: with Christian Grey's arrest. The fic was primarily intended for members of das_sporking, and anyone else who likes mysteries, hates Fifty Shades, or blunders by my journal. As of the new year, I'm cross-posting what chapters I haven't already shamelessly promoted to twispitefic.
Longtime browsers over here might sort of recognize the two detectives starring in Poor Unfortunate Souls, probably from snippets of my past attempts at Nanowrimo. Allie Veldon, mage (not wizard or magician, thank you!) and Lindsay Pilot, detective, are in fact part of their own original series, which brings us to my plans for 2014: I'm having a go at writing their first novel, Switchpoint, during spring semester. So I'll probably babble about that at some point without giving you guys anything much to read for it, as I intend at some point to try and get them published. :D
New Year's Resolutions:
1) Finish Thesis and then forget it ever happened. I have to defend the sucker in March. After March, assuming I pass, I can cheerfully kick the monstrosity to the curb, secure in the knowledge that I will never have to do it again and that I hate academia anyway.
2) Graduate. I've been at my college four years - longer than I've known most people who actually come to this blog. While I'm terrified to leave, it's high time for me to go, and Roommate has already expressed her desire to move to the city with me, where we will hopefully have accomplished resolution 3.
3) Get a Job. I'm looking at a lot of chemistry/practical microbiology/water and food safety type of jobs for now. I've been told conflicting things about the job market. I keep hearing of places that supposedly will hire graduates right out of school because they're so focused that they don't care if you have higher education, they'd have to train you on their instruments regardless of how many degrees you have.
The dream job is one at the state water and food safety lab. The c-string backup option is water management... for those of you not in the know, that's often water reclamation, as in purification of wastewater.
4) Move out. Insofar as I live anywhere, since I am a college gypsy, I live above my parents' garage in a room stacked full of boxes, because the damn things follow me from school to home like needy puppies. Assuming I get a job, somewhere, I'd prefer my own place by this time next year, and I'm sure my parents would prefer it too. (I know this because my mother keeps giving me secondhand furniture and dishes.) I'd prefer to get it with Roommate, and potentially some of the other girls from college, but that all depends on who gets jobs and grad schools where. We've located a suitable rental as a best-case-scenario, and for me the worst case scenario continues to be waking up whenever the garage door opens or closes.
5) Write Switchpoint. It's high time for me to finish something geared towards actual publication. I've had Allie and Lindsay as characters for nearly the same amount of time that I've had everyone from the Elven Heritage Legacy. This won't be appearing on Live Journal (undoubtedly, yelling about the research process will, because there's always something you haven't yet researched,) but it's a major goal nonetheless. I've been writing more or less continuously since I was seven, and though college has done it's best to throw a monkey wrench into that fifteen-year streak, I think I've done my ten thousand words by now.
Switchpoint is a dieselpunk science-fantasy mystery (with a cherry on top) involving smuggling, the mob, sarcastic detectives, take-no-shit police officers, a railway timetable (or several), magic, and lots and lots of trains. You will not believe how many trains there are.
6) Put out the yearly two chapters of The Elven Heritage Legacy. In theory, doing this will keep me more or less sane through research, job hunting, graduation, and the mysterious world of actual adulthood.
I'm also headed down to Chicago with the rents and the canine unit on Wednesday, to pick up my little brother, who doesn't have term papers or thesis at this point, as he is a freshman. Then, it's over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house in the snow, and my 10 bajillion cousins and keeping Grandpa from disassembling anything important. Fortunately, I can type while I grandparent sit, and I've set my computer to lock when I shut the lid, so the tykes can't play with it. Not that they won't want to play anyway, but that is officially the job of the Fraternal Unit. If you see me on here at any point in the next six days, yell at me.
Edit, as of Tuesday: Yeah, Yeah I know. Don't bother yelling, I'll be gone in a minute after comments, because guys, I am so bored. I'm set-fire-to-random-things bored. One semester is far too long to spend on one paper subject, especially when you can't even do the damn experiment yet! And, fool that I am, I agreed to spend most of J-term sorting dirt and finishing writing this thing. The previous few weeks I could at least do my other homework, but I'm editing now and it's not even interesting. (The fact that I'm alone at home with a dog and snow and it's fucking November probably doesn't help. I managed to get some stuff done yesterday, but at this point, the 17 page monstrosity is only making me depressed and restless. [Yeah, I tried walking the dog - made me feel better, didn't get any thesis done, back to square one.] Why oh why don't we write monographs any more? For one thing, they're shorter.)
All that and I only have one more page done. One. Somebody kidnap me to go hunt down Atlantis or something so that I don't have to deal with this crap.
Long story short: go straight to last-minute research for supporting details. Do not pass go. Do not collect $1,000.
Americans: Happy Turkey Day/Football Extravaganza/Extended Family Awareness Day.
Students: Happy Drink 'till you forget about Thesis Defense. My life, where did it go?
Everybody not in those two categories: Have some chocolate, and pray for my soul.
As several of you are aware, I'm asexual.
This makes me Asexual.
There are also Aromantics. These people do not wish to have a romantic relationship with people - unlike me, they might actually want sex, but there are to be absolutely no sappy candy hearts and flowers. Or you get the kind of aromantic who kind of wishes that they could have sappy candy hearts and flowers, but never seems to find anyone in particular that they want them with.
The long description: When everybody else was busy having puberty, I was busy reading mystery novels. (That's not to say I didn't do puberty - the fact that I have boobs and hips and my own razor kind of says that biology happened. And hormones - I certainly had the zits to prove it. It's not that managed to ignore puberty, because most of the time I <i>really</i> wished I could, but when everybody else was discovering that they really had the hots for people, and daydreaming about kissing... I think it would have to have been Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom at that point... I was busy. I wrote fantasy novels I never finished, learned chemistry, and wrote in codes. Kissing was something that happened to other people, with other people. I was busy binge-reading the entire collection of Sherlock Holmes stories and crying over the fact that Watson never seemed to be able to keep Sherlock away from the cocaine that probably cut his retired years quite a bit shorter than they needed to be. And what was poor Watson to do with all the untended bees when the inevitable occurred?
Of course, <i>during</i> puberty I was pretty sure I'd hit the phase where I'd start really having crushes and becoming a twitterpated fool like all my classmates in a year... or two years... or the year after that... by the time I was a Junior, certainly... when I met people in college who I would probably be more attracted to since I hadn't known them since they were little snotrags stomping on worms who I kicked in the shins because worms deserve to live too...
Eventually? I was pretty sure by the time I turned twenty that puberty was officially over. No dice.
I also had to come to grips with the fact that I would never receive my Hogwarts letter. There are only so many years an owl can get lost in the jet stream.
In short, it looked like I wasn't a wizard, and my mother's routine interrogation of "Did you make any friends?" (Yes Mom, I went bowling with this dude from chem club and kicked his ass.) "Does he seem like a nice boy?" (Yeah, he knows everything about spectrophotometry.) "Do you like him?" (Mom, he's going out with my lab partner. And I've only known him for a week!) started to take on a worried and somewhat sinister tone.
Several wiki-walks later, I didn't stumble across AVEN. (You can get to their site if you click the flag, too.) I actually got there via TV tropes. Then I did research. While it made perfect sense to me that there were characters in stories who didn't care about sex, or romance, I didn't think I was one of them. For one thing, I still thought I wanted a white picket fence, and that I'd know the other 50% of that couple eventually because the heavens would open and the trumpets would sound and his voice would sound like something suspiciously dessert-y (seriously, chocolate and caramel do not make sounds, you'd have to eat synesthesia to figure out if a voice sounded like them, but I digress) and suddenly I wouldn't feel vaguely bored and uncomfortable at the thought of genitalia and we'd get married and shag like bunnies and have two perfect children who I would name and we would raise.
Actually, I didn't think much about the shagging like bunnies - like, almost never, and then with the assumption that it was probably better than it actually sounded, like squeaky cheese curds. They're actually delicious if you can get past the fact that they rub your teeth.
It was especially complicated because I clearly have a fangirling type for fictional characters: tall, dark, and usually unrepentantly snarky, but with a good heart, buried not too deep beneath the surface. This made appearing "ordinary" sort of easy at slumber parties and on the tennis team bus.
Interrogator: Hey Scribbles, who do you think is hot?
Scribbles: *Racks brains for interesting characters.* Aragorn. I really like him in the movie, they did really well with his emotional arc-
Interrogator: Oh, Viggo Mortensen? He's hot, good choice.
Scribbles: *Internal Monologue* Who the frick-frack is Viggo Mortensen?
Interrogator: So as I was saying, about Orlando Bloom's ass...
All of this was despite the fact that I had limited patience for the silly bits of people's crushes - the ones where they wouldn't man or woman up and face potential success or rejection already - and the fact that I'd sort of known since I was eleven that I was like Sherlock Holmes, more interested in puzzles than people's pants. In fact, peoples pants and the preoccupation with what was in them was pretty silly. In fact, most people were pretty silly, come to think of it. Was it too much to ask that my project partners concentrate on the presentation instead of making cow-eyes at each other across the table?
Yeah, puberty was frustration. It just wasn't sexual frustration, it was can't-wait-until-college things-move-too-slow-around-here out-of-good-fantasy-novels-at-the-
The late teens were more "I'm sorry, you want to what?" followed closely by "My boobs are not that educational. Stop staring." (And seriously, when the hell did those things show up on my chest? Last I paid any attention to them, I was having difficulty buying them training bras that didn't show hot-pink polka-dots through white shirts.) You could say that I was a bit of an alien to the stereotypical college freshman lifestyle. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I went out to class, went to clubs, and then sat in my room playing computer games and hoping like hell the squeaking from next door was my neighbor's wheely chair or someone jumping on the bed.
See, most of the people at high school - people who, in the large majority, I'd known since somewhere between eleven and fourteen - caught on to the whole asexual thing before I did. Not specifically, because, like I said, the tennis team liked to bait me during practice because they had nothing better to do, but in general most people's knowledge of me ran "This is Scribbles. She's still a unicorn magnet, and probably will be for the foreseeable future. Possibly until the sun burns out."
But honestly, in high school, I was the bookworm and nobody gave a flying fuck about my sexuality or lack thereof, assuming they ever gave it more than a momentary thought. College was suddenly very different, and yet, not different at all, because other than a few specific people who were blatantly interested enough that I actually noticed, I did the same things as usual, with the same kinds of people.
I guess I could wrap this up by saying that finding out that I was asexual was freeing (it was, but... honestly, mostly it killed the "there has got to be something wrong with me or maybe I'm just the suckiest actress ever," and brought on the "omgwtfbbq other people actually do think about the possibility of going at it like bunnies! Like, often! Like, with other people! What in hell is going on?") and that I finally found my people.
Not so much. I like the people on AVEN. It's nice to know that there's a place where people can come with similar problems to the ones I'm likely to face "re: I think I might like this guy, but human lips! I can't! They're like fishes, why do people go around sticking them to each other?"
Honestly, though, I worked through the ten stages of utter denial at high speed. (1. But there was that guy, in middle school... who I really wanted to play chess with? 2. I can't be! I'll be foreeeeeeeeever aloooooooooone. 3. Fuck you, life, just fuck you. Well, don't, but yeah. 4. Probably I'm only attracted to really damn smart guys? 5. Well, of course I'm not attracted to any guy at my college, the ones I don't know are all party hogs, and the ones I do know are dating my friends. 6. Damn it, I see the appeal of not giving a fuck about sex or relationships. This is a stupid thing to spend so much time thinking about! 7. I haven't known any guy long enough to be sexually attracted to him, except for the ones I've known so long that they're practically family, and, ew. (This lead to several weeks thinking that I might be demisexual, which was a.o.k. with me, because of the fact that I can't seem to shake the arguably catholic upbringing off my shoes.) 8. What the fuck ever, I don't care. 9. Okay, so I care, because this is yet another thing that most people will never get about me. 10. I am a floating brain, motherfuckers! Be careful or I'll clone myself into a goddamn army!)
Lately, though, I've come to realize I've always had my people.
I've got the girls at school, who I'm out to - especially my shiny new roommate, known to some of you as Watson (still like Sherlock Holmes, obviously,) who gets kudos for standing there and glaring at people who gear up to ask stupid questions - I've got my club and board members, who are more than willing to not make an issue... and to tell people to go wikipedia it if it comes up. I've especially got Moustache Dude, my favorite history major, who was just one week ago willing to cut through the bullcrap for me and explain his attraction to me... and allow my non-attraction to him to continue unthreatened. We might be going to see Monsters Universe tomorrow night.
I've got my mom, who is creeping towards the acceptance side of disbelief. I've got my dad, who never wanted to run off boys to begin with. I've got my little brother, who doesn't care in a very fraternal way and says that it's all good because sisters shouldn't have sex anyway.
I've got the net folks - lots more now, than I did last year about this time, when I was still stuck at the intermediate stage where "but houses and chocolate and flowers and reading over people's shoulders and eskimo kisses noo, don't leeeeave my future foreeeeever....!!!!"
And hey, I've always got myself. I figure I can work my way into most of the pickles being an odd type of human lands me in. :D
* Fun note: I still had no idea who in the nine hells played Aragorn - this despite the fact that he was a damn good actor and looked exactly like I'd imagined Aragorn - so I had to look him up. Things don't change.
It also helps that she knows my taste: Steampunk, blues and greens, mixed metals and leather. :)
This is my steampunk jewelery stash. Not pictured: earrings. Only getting holes punched in my ears once, thank you! (Actually, the punch isn't so bad, but I'm a side sleeper so the year of perma-studs is a major pain in the ass. No idea how I managed to sleep with the backs of my puncher studs poking into my head the first time around.)
Top necklace: defunct watch. Got it while we were in California. Ironically, my mom found it while I was trying to secretly buy her christmas present, a cast-iron squirrel nutcracker.
Middle necklace: Watch key, beads, self-securing washers (we raided my broken wall clock looking for gears earlier this morning: all the parts were plastic, unfortunately) and an hour of de-stressing. My mom makes jewelery when she's frazzled.
Lower necklace: Skeleton key found at the world's longest rummage sale. I need moar keys! Especially considering the number of kitschy wing and feather charms running around. Steampunk, my stubbed left big toe. :)
The earrings are spoon handles. medleymisty, I finally have pictures of them for you! Dang things wouldn't stop vibrating long enough to take a picture.
Also pictured: Scribbles' hair responds enthusiastically to the humidity.
Spoilers for the first three episodes of TOS reside in this post. Fair warning.
Right. For those of you who want to know, The Man Trap is an episode where the Enterprise makes a pit stop on a desolate world in order to allow the sole inhabitants, an archaeologist and his wife, a medical checkup and to bring them supplies. While they’re there, a crewman dies unexpectedly, his face covered in circular red marks, and when they bring him back to the ship for an autopsy, McCoy determines that he had all of the salt sucked out of his body. Turns out that the archaeologist’s wife, Nancy, is actually a salt-eating-sucker-thing that drains the salt out of living beings in order to survive, and did so to the original Nancy. She’s not drained the archaeologist because he’s been giving her his supply of salt tablets.
Nancy is the last of her kind, probably because she doesn’t appear to be able to suck salt out of the rocks and sand where it would naturally be, and because her salt consumption is enormous. If a person’s body is about 70% water by weight, and the salinity of cytoplasm is about 135 to 145 moles per liter, blood salinity is about 1% and River Tam says that there are about five liters of blood in the body… hang on, let me crunch this…
At a loose calculation, Nancy would consume about 50 milliliters of salt per person, about 1.75 grams assuming pretty high salt-sucking efficiency. (That’s assuming that McCoy can only test the blood, and he did state that he found absolutely no salt in the blood.) Nancy as the hairy-salt-sucker looks about the same size as McCoy, slightly stocky, so we’re going to estimate her body weight as close to the average human male, a bit under 80 kilograms. (80,000 grams.) Nancy eats less than one hundredth of a percent of her weight in salt per person she kills with her suckers. During the episode, which I estimate took about two days, she kills four people. And she’s still ravenous, so her daily necessary salt intake is at least double the amount that can be found in a human body: I’m going to estimate it at about four people a day, plus the salt tablets she consumed, which look to be about three or four grams apiece. I can only assume that with the 25 pounds (11 kilograms,) plus Nancy prime that she consumed of salt before the Enterprise showed up, over the course of a year, she was starving to death, though far more slowly than she had been before, due to the archaeologists bringing along salt tablets as well as being tasty snacks.
(Yeah, I did the math. At a conservative estimate of more than 20 grams a day, the 11 kg of salt should have lasted about 550 days, or about a year and a half. It’s safe to say, since there wasn’t that much salt left even though they were clearly rationing it, that her salt intake actually needs to be higher than that.)
Despite starving to death, Nancy clearly learned on her own to communicate with the Archaeologist, and refrains from attacking and eating his salty, salty blood because otherwise she’ll be alone again in the universe.
In summary: Nancy is clearly capable of feeling some inter-species empathy (for the archaeologist), probably has the ability to read minds (there is no other way she would have known about Nancy Prime and McCoy’s past involvement, or have appeared to Uhura as somebody that she used to know,) tries to keep the archaeologist happy by taking on the form of his dead wife, and appears to be not only the last of her kind, but the only non-plant organism surviving on her planet. She’s at least as sympathetic as most vampires, despite having less reason to feel kinship with the crew of the enterprise. Sure, her problems could have been solved by massive shipments of salt, rather than eating the crew, but it’s debatable how much she understood about humanity with just the archaeologist for company.
Charlie X is what happens to the Enterprise when another ship delivers them a castaway, who apparently survived on a desolate planet after being shipwrecked there at the age of three. (There are legends that the planet is inhabited by a race of psychic, immaterial beings.) Charlie is now seventeen and they’re trying to deliver him to a human colony where he can learn to be a normal human.
Charlie was given psychic powers by the green immaterial psychic things so that he could manifest himself food, because otherwise he would have starved. The immaterial psychic things could not otherwise take care of him, but they did all that they could to rescue him, with the side effect being that he has no knowledge of human society and is spoiled as all hell by the age of seventeen, when he is picked up by a friendly human ship.
The scary thing about Charlie is that he doesn’t seem to have any conception of consequences (possibly, when his adoptive species don’t have bodies, there really aren’t that many if he has a fit at home – it might not be possible for him to harm them by disappearing them or changing the forms of things,) and therefore he is, in effect, a two-year-old with psychic powers in an adolescent’s body. As such, he could be kind of sympathetic… except for the fact that he blew up an entire ship because the crew was uncomfortable around him and wasn’t “nice” to him, which by his definition is telling him no or refusing to give him what he wants.
Yup, that’s right folks: in the first three episodes of TOS, the person with the highest death count is the only one that the captain and crew decide that they can’t harm and that more chances should be given to. Their plan when he actually takes over their starship and could blow them up at any time is still “let’s sedate him for the rest of the trip and let him loose in a human colony!” Kirk even argues with Charlie’s foster species when they come to pick him up after his ship-wide people-disappearing, leg-breaking tantrum, saying that he should be with his own kind. Despite, you know, the fact that he regularly gets rid of people who disagree with him, treats everyone that he comes across as objects, and has clear anger issues. He’s also a compulsive liar, (he lied right off the bat coming onto the enterprise about how he survived on the planet, and even if it was to protect the secret of his powers he later had no qualms about showing them off, and he lied about how he learned his “card trick,” which he had no reason to do,) doesn’t seem to understand why the crew of the enterprise reacts to him admitting that he blew up another ship, and he demonstrates random cruelty to the crew. (He turns a girl into a lizard for saying one cross word to him, disappears a crew member for laughing when he’s sparring with Kirk, he makes Uhura choke because she teases him, and he casually breaks Spock’s legs with his psychic powers when Kirk and Spock are trying to restrain him.)
Oh, and he has tantrums like Annakin Skywalker.
You could probably argue that since his green intangible guardians “reset” everything at the end of the episode, and since they have the ability to take over and keep his powers in check, he’s less dangerous than say, Gary Mitchell. But that would be forgetting the Antares, which they couldn’t bring back because it had been blown up rather than disappeared. My only guess for why he was given more of a chance by Kirk and co. than Nancy or Mitchell is the fact that he was a kid, was better at hiding his true intentions, and still looked very human. In fact, part of Kirk and Spock’s later response to Mitchell’s attempt to take over the enterprise is probably due to the fact that they’d just gone there with this kid and were only saved by an application of guardians ex machina. Come to think of it, the immaterial psychic things are pretty darn scary to begin with: after all, they raised this little monster.
On the subject of Gary Mitchell and psychic powers, I’m going to have to log my disappointment with Where No Man Has Gone Before. I know it’s something of a fan favorite, and I can see why to a certain extent: there’s a major amount of feels for Kirk watching an old friend descend into madness, and the electric shocks that Kirk and Spock get zapped with look like they hurt. (Also, what is it with this show and hitting Spock with something? First episode, he gets clocked by Nancy in search of salt and is mildly concussed, second episode Charlie breaks his legs [and puts them right again, but that’s beside the point here], and in this episode Mitchell shocks him a lot harder than Kirk and McCoy has to drag him back to the Enterprise. It’s almost as bad as Firefly’s “how many times can someone punch Simon Tam in the face?” counter. Judging by fandom and the 2009 movie, I’d thought that everything in the known universe wanted to kill Kirk.)
For the record, the setup of this episode is an old cliché: man runs into an unusual force, assimilates its powers, goes mad in the “a god am I,” pattern. I’m fine with the fact that it randomly introduces ESP, but am highly disappointed by the fact that the application of ESP dropped all coherency afterwards, especially when compared to Charlie X, where Charlie’s powers were somewhat limited and given a working description of a) transporting things elsewhere and changing their shape, usually in a small way, b) flinging things about, and c) mucking about with electronics. But what really steams me about this episode, besides the whole geometric progression of Psychic powers, is that ESP is conflated with some sort of superintelligence, and portrayed as a bad thing before any reason for fear is ever brought up. In fact, the entire reason that Kirk and Spock decide that Mitchell is dangerous, while he is still acting like himself, is that the ship whose trajectory they followed into the glowy purple cloud of doom was blown up by its own captain, who had been looking for information on ESP. That’s it. There’s no consideration given to the possibility that the captain was doing research on ESP in hopes that Esper crewmembers might save them by fixing their junked engines, the possibility that he just wanted to know if a crewmember whose ESP subjected them to an attack by the glowy purple cloud would be all right, or the fact that Mitchell was acting completely normal at the time. They also seem afraid of Mitchell’s increased reading speed, comprehension, and retention.
Mr. Spock, it is not logical to jump to conclusions. Maybe there was more on the tape, but we didn’t get to hear it out here in the audience. In addition, every single change in Mitchell’s condition happens after Kirk and Spock come to the conclusion that it will happen. Yes, they were right that he would go crazy and decide that he was above them all, but weird glowy eyes are not a diagnostic symptom of a psychotic breakdown.
In essence, my beef with the scripting of this episode breaks down to 1) the assumption that Mitchell, having gained comic-book style super-intelligence, must necessarily become arrogant and psychotic, 2) that Mitchell’s fate was decided upon (gee, thanks, Spock) before he showed any symptoms of anything other than a knock to the head and glowing eyes, 3) that more was made of his psychic creation powers and “superintelligence” being a problem than the fact that he was no longer acting like himself, and 4) that somebody on the writing team decided that there was no hope for somebody who had previously been a functional, empathetic member of the Enterprise crew once his ESP was activated or turbocharged or whatever by crossing the edge of the galaxy. Apparently, any change from neurotypical behavior automatically removes human empathy and all past connections from the equation.
Additionally, there were many sensible solutions to the episode that didn’t lead to death, and they just kept skipping over them or chopping them down, making Mitchell as psychotic as possible. The first was that hey, maybe it’s not imperative that people who suddenly gain ESP and super-intelligence develop a god complex at the same time? The second (when Mitchell started acting threatening and playing with the ship controls,) would be to give him something to do and let him re-acquaint with crew-members who he remembers fondly. It might have gotten them some help with their burned-out engine, and maybe a little dose of hey, you’re smart enough to scan the engine by yourself, go you could have gone a long way towards preventing a psychotic breakdown. The third, which was totally on Mitchell and no one else, would be to remember that nobody outside his head knew what was going on, and to maybe actually be nice to them and stop playing with the ship controls out in deep space. The fourth, which would have been a logical and understanding response on Mitchell’s part to the whole Delta Vega marooning, would be “Okay, I feel kind of betrayed that you’re marooning me on this planet, but it’s livable and I’m slowly developing the powers that can make me manifest anything, so it’s not really a great hardship for me. I recognize that I scare the shit out of the crew and can’t be trusted not to play with the ship controls, so maybe advise someone to pick me up after I’ve gotten this ESP thing under control?” But the writers of this particular episode chose to take a formerly functional person and insist that the addition of super-intelligence or psychic powers made them into a monster that had to be killed for the good of humanity.
I disliked Where No Man Has Gone Before (1966) for some of the same reasons that I disliked the end of Flowers for Algernon (1958), am ambivalent about the entire premise of Understand by Ted Chiang (1991) and was bored to death by Limitless (movie 2011, adapted from the short story The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, which I will have to read under the assumption that it’s better than the movie.) First, I could pick holes all day in the decisions of any of the characters whose intelligence was augmented, who all gain unusual intelligence coupled with psychic powers, which tells me that my armchair reasoning skills are better than their decision-making skills or just the scriptwriting. (The protagonist of Flowers for Algernon is excused to some degree because he has literally zero life experience, being severely cognitively disabled prior to his treatment. I also like Flowers for Algernon because it’s well written, the protagonist wants to do good with his newfound intelligence, and because it’s a tragedy due to lost potential rather than “everyone here is a moron” syndrome, as in Romeo and Juliet. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to tear the ending’s hair out, but sometimes those are the best ones.) Second, except for Flowers for Algernon, they portray intelligence above the norm as dangerous to everyone within spitting distance.
All of the above works suffer from what I like to call Algernon Syndrome, with Flowers for Algernon being, of course, the originator of the idea. In essence, a character’s intelligence is dramatically augmented, usually allowing him access to some other skill not actually correlated to intelligence or not actually known to exist, such as ESP (Where No Man Has Gone Before,) Gestalts and the manipulation thereof (Understand,) or an eidetic memory (Limitless/The Dark Fields.) The character discovers that his newfound intelligence is impermanent, (all of the above save for Where No Man Has Gone Before,) damaging to his sanity, (Understand and Where No Man…) erodes his morals, or making him psychotic (Where No Man… and Understand), an arrogant jackass, (all of the above but Algernon) or leading him to believe he’s above it all and above everyone else (again, all but Algernon.) Additionally, the characters start playing with other people’s lives (not in Algernon, have I mentioned that I love that story even though I hate the ending?) and become unwilling to accept anyone else’s options or opinions.
This is a bad thing because it perpetuates the idea that geniuses are at best, arrogant snobs who look down on the general population and can’t be bothered to make their own toast, and at worst, psychotic nutjobs who manipulate people for shits and giggles. In Understand and Limitless the assholeish behavior was somewhat explained by drug dependence and the fact that both of the protagonists were kind of jerks to begin with. But it’s still an annoying trend, just like the decision to portray Sheldon Cooper of the Big Bang Theory as non-functional without the support of his friends makes sense for the show, but is annoying when you consider that television and literature almost never portray a believable genius who is capable of basic social interaction and isn’t an asshole. It seems to me to indicate that people who write these types of geniuses are either afraid or resentful of great intelligence, so they either write megalomaniacs or assholes.
The problem I have with this being the introduction to ESP for the series runs somewhat along the same lines. The episode takes ESP, which is explained in the episode as a harmless little neurological quirk that makes people a bit better at card games, and makes it the pathway into cackling, megalomaniacal, ominicidal assholery. If Star Trek wasn’t so famous for pushing the envelope on race, gender, and other societal issues through text and thinly veiled symbolism, I probably wouldn’t be putting so much thought into this, but as it is, I have something to say.
What did the 1960’s have against the neuro-atypical?
TLDR; Scribbles now watches Star Trek the Original Series, and really needs an off switch for her brain. Also, this is the second time in the last few months that I've apparently named a trend only to find out that there is a near-identical TV trope of the same name. I think I might be plugged into the internet a bit too much of late...
I shit you not, these aren't even some weird cultivar. There are purple carrots and the purple on the outside comes from anthrocyanin, the same thing that makes blueberries blue and purple pansies violet. The orange carrot has only been around since the 17th century, when the Dutch bred it to show support of the House of Orange.
A note to historical (pre 17th century, of course,) and medieval fiction writers: If your carrots are orange on the outside, you're doing it wrong!
Did you know that I just finished my thesis draft and that I've been excused one of my seminars for the next semester because I'm kind of brilliant that way and talked them into letting me follow the science thesis format exclusively instead of the weird hodgepodge of Humanities and Science standards that I have been following?
Did you know that there are also purple potatoes?
Anthrocyanin again, though these are a weird cultivar.
Did you know that if you eat any number of these lovely vegetables containing anthrocyanin, or blueberries, blackberries, beets, or eggplant, your teeth and lips will not be stained purple, and people will not avoid you for half an hour as if you are a purple people eater?
Eat just one cookie from the cafeteria covered in "blueberry purple" frosting, however...
This has been a public service announcement by Scribbles.
... Yeah. I'll try to be around for a little bit, but my ass is being kicked by thesis and will be kicked until sometime after April 30. I'm not actually dead, just busy. I have to finish a draft in two weeks and I only have eight sources.
... Strike that. I am actually dead. I'm gonna die. Did I mention I don't have my sources yet? Zombie Scribbles will be available between April 30 and finals, and then again after July the 4th, at which point I will be the limited-time offer of Zombie Scribbles while running an experiment on seeds. I'm due for revivification Christmas of next year. See you guys, it's been fun.
Some of you know that I'm in research methods, which is mini-thesis class, so I've been sort of incredibly busy. Add to that the fact that this month is crazy because of all the family birthdays, tax season, new semester school obligations, and the fact that I'm retaking Cell and Molecular Biology, (Which isn't really that scary this time because I sort of know what I'm doing already and am not currently having a month-long panic attack,) along with the fact that I went home last weekend to help fix things up around the house because my dad pinched a nerve and my dog slipped his patella (so someone needs to walk him at a very controlled pace,) it's been a bit quiet on the Midwestern Front. The dog is having surgery on Thursday - according to the vet, this sort of thing is to be expected, as he's a male lab and a bit shy of seven. He's not supposed to play so much with other dogs any more because he just doesn't know when to quit.
There's not really a lot of this in my life at school. (Well, dancing lamas, that is: unidentifiable caf food happens quite a bit. I think they ran out of vegetables.) Also, is it just me, or does the llama mascot mesh look a bit... awkward at this angle? I guess it could just be that there's no way a sim can see out of that. Then again, when have I been surprised that Maxis has it's most fun with the last meshes you'd ever use?
Now, this looks much more familiar. I'm currently working on my readings and bibliography for my pre-thesis papers, which are all about the importance of forensics and geosciences in archaeology. (Archaeology and Environmental Science major, hopefully going into Archaeometry (the chemical study of artifacts) for the big "if," otherwise known as grad school.) I've spent the last week or so simply finding extracts from articles that might be helpful; I've still got to order the books and articles and then read them and take the notes. All this so that I can spend my summer rotting eggshells and chicken bones.
... I realize that wasn't precisely in common English up there, so... I have to spend this semester doing a 20 page paper with nearly 50 sources on how my job as an archaeologist is exactly like being Sherlock Holmes, except with less Victorians and very little glory. (Decidedly less falling off cliffs and people trying to murder me with trick boxes full of germs too - that's a good life goal, I think.) Also, the Religions Majors that I share this class with are a bit skeeved that I'm going to be burying chicken legs and that half my articles so far come from the body farm. A strong stomach is not a prerequisite to major in religion.
On a completely different note, my simself kind of looks like Belle.
What the heck is with the dude in the window?? I've never noticed how many background Disney characters don't even have human proportions....
... I ought to clarify: I don't actually usually walk outside with my books. I just wander the halls muttering. It's part of a small war I have going on with the people who live below me and keep playing music at all hours of the night. Some day I shall isolate the room that it has been coming from and stuff their keyhole with paper. Or maybe not, because that would be unreasonably hard to get out. But I'll think of something. ;)
My campus looks less like this and more like there's a wet white blanket on everything right now. It's still snowing, and has been since about thirty minutes after I went into the lab this afternoon. Microscopy labs are nice because they're very clean, but at the same time they play hell with my depth perception because most of the binocular pieces don't have a setting that will actually accommodate my eyes. I think mine must be unusually wide-set or something, because I have 20-20 vision and there really shouldn't be this much of a problem, but it took me an extra half an hour today due to a combination of actually trying to represent the cells and eye strain.
So far, I'm resisting the urge to roll in the snow like a dog, because I'd be drenched.
I made a very small snow mound last time it snowed, but mostly I ran up and down campus taking deliberately artistic pictures of trees and looking for someone I knew to attack with snow.
Unfortunately, our school mascot is nowhere near this accommodating to my insane antics.
... Although, I do have a class full of Religions majors that I might be able to pull a fast one on...
(Also, our mascot is a torch. Yeah, you heard me. He's a torch. He looks even derpier than the llama, just in a different way. And no, he's not part of the Fantastic Four, because that might actually be interesting.)
Yeah. When I get a chance to sim, I'm busy setting up the college and the rotation, I've got most of the chapter mapped out but not written, and I hope to update sometime around spring break. Other than that, I'm doing good, I have a short story in the works wherein I and some LJ buddies go back in time to knock some sense into the selfish head of Ayn Rand (look up objectivism: you'll figure out why I think she's one of the most self-centered, slimiest weaklings to ever crawl the earth,) [and damn, why is there not a clip or a gif for that?]
That's because today was the day that I found out about the anti-gay-rights activism of Orson Scott Card. I feel rather disgusted, frankly - I sort of prefer not knowing too much about authors who appear to be willing to tackle tough issues, but most authors that I later learned more about turned out to be as awesome in their private lives as they are in their writing. Madeline L'Engle and Lloyd Alexander made up a large portion of my reading as a child, and I was one of the many, many mourners when they both died in the same year. L'Engle is a major driving force behind my own stance on religious tolerance and tolerance of religions. Also, Tolkein's response to the Nazis when questioned about his race (specifically, was he Jewish,) comes to mind: "I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people." (That's basically old-fashioned gentleman for "fuck off, racists.")
( When I realize that people have hidden dark spots they may not know. )
The chapter might actually have been up tomorrow, if not for my roommate's car, and Birdie, my lovely former-almost-roommate, who dropped in for a surprise visit on Saturday. (Yes, it's my fault that people call her Birdie.)
What happened was this:
( "How many college girls does it take to change a tire?" )
That said, I ought to blog about literature more often. Last time I went into full-on infodump mode about scifi and it's unholy love children with fantasy, Diane Duane showed up to poke my blog. Which caused me to have a near aneurysm from joy this morning when I checked my guests from this weekend, but it's not my fault that I spasm. Most of the authors I enjoyed that much as a child are currently dead - first ones that come to mind are Madeline L'Engle and Lloyd Alexander, who both died in 2007 and broke my little heart. At least Susan Cooper's still alive. (Hi to everyone else who's shown up since last Thursday: I love you all, but I think you got steamrollered a bit here.)
Anyhow, I did some digging, found her blog, decided to read some because I'm a
Hmmm... I had a point here other than jumping up and down with glee, recommending books to you all and playing with the internet's Ouija board in order to summon authorial spirits. Oh, yes - it was to point out that although my NaNo project is still lagging, I do have something to show for it. Namely, chapters and chapters before I get to the bit that I actually have planned out.It actually feels good to be writing young teenagers again, though, since I haven't done too much in that department since I was about fifteen. I guess I finally have the experience to be able to look back.
The sky was heartbreakingly blue, the shade only seen from the bottom of deep wells and behind prison bars, and whenever life hands you an unexpected dead end. They’d launched the rocket and now were sitting on the damp concrete wall, staring at its broken pieces on the dewy grass before them, planning its funeral.
“Something had to have gone wrong,” Martin said, for the fifth time. “I just don’t understand where the flaw in the design was.
“It could have been the fins – they were too wide,” Aliea replied, turning over the red-painted triangle of balsa wood in her hands, “could be why they snapped off.”
“I think they snapped off when it landed,” Martin said, “That’s when the nose cone got smashed as well.”
“Well, with new fins and a new nose -”
“At that point we might as well design a whole new rocket. Besides, the fuel chamber’s bent.”The two of them looked at the bent cardboard tube lying forlornly on the grass. The crumpled nose and torn fins lay beside it, along with the somehow undamaged rail, a handful of leaves and twigs, and what remained of their enthusiasm for the whole project.
Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Comment if you want to know why I chose a specific book or tell me what you think about me based on this list of influences.
2) The Theif (Megan Whalen Turner)
3) The Hound of the Baskervilles (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
4) Black Beauty (Anna Sewell)
5) The Hobbit (JRR Tolkein)
6) To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
7) So You Want to Be A Wizard (Diane Duane)
8) The Book of Three (Lloyd Alexander)
9) Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson)
10) The Book Theif (Marcus Zusak)
11) Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman)
12) The Merlin Conspiracy (Diana Wynne Jones)
13) The Once and Future King (T. H. White)
14) The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (Howard Pyle)
15) House of the Scorpion (Nancy Farmer)
I feel a bit like I'm recapping my childhood here - I read almost all of these books before the age of thirteen. Actually, only 10 onwards are ones that I read after that. Except for Robin Hood, that was some time in fifth grade.
Oooh! I forgot Othello (Shakespeare, obviously,) and Macbeth (same source, of course.) I also could have filled this list with Madeline L'Engle and Lloyd Alexander books, but I felt that might be cheating a bit. Not that I didn't cheat a little based on what was truly influential rather than the first thing I've thought of, and that I picked the most important books for me from some of the series I've got. Also, I just noticed, but I could probably make a list of these influences for each storyI've ever written and still not cover all of it...
The true secret to creativity? Read so widely that no one else can discern your influences and inspirations for anything in particular. XD