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So, a couple of months ago, I posted about my need to focus on stuff I can personally affect. I've been working on that with mixed results, and right now I'm dithering about whether I should disengage from Facebook as the next step, because I feel that the sheer amount of crap showing up in my feed is an ongoing distraction, a time sink that actually keeps me from having actual, solid friendships with people. I've thought about just logging off of Facebook and returning to the days when I printed up the Baja Manitoba Free Press and mailed it out to friends, but like so many other things that I'm contemplating, that's probably going to have to wait until next year unless I want to go really old-school and just do an e-mail blast to people. Other social media are as bad as Facebook - G+ was a platform of very dubious utility even before the current Social Justice Wankery, Twitter is where I go for political interactions, most of the people I know have abandoned LiveJournal because OMG RUSSIANS RUSSIANS RUSSIANS, and Gab has its limits as well.

Speaking of next year, after trying unsuccessfully to find work through the local temp agencies, I've decided to bite the bullet, re-apply for disability, and go back to school with the intent of finishing my accounting degree. It's an open question as to how long this will take: I already have a bachelor's degree (ironically, in Liberal Arts) and the core of an AAS degree. I don't know how much of the coursework from those UNLV will accept as transfer credits, or if I'll qualify for any kind of financial aid. I would think that, considering my taxable income has been right around the filing limit for the last couple of years, I would at least qualify for more loans, but that's what we do the paperwork to find out. Once I have the accounting degree, the odds are better that I can get a real accounting job around here. Maybe even fulfill my long-held dream of working for the secret policeIRS.

I do have to do something fairly soon to get out of the current rut. It's becoming increasingly painful and difficult to do the Uber thing, and I strongly suspect that the wound care nurse is right about it doing bad things to my legs. At the same time, I need to pay the bills, so until Uncle Sam comes through (if he does) I'm going to have to scrape the face and hit the streets six days a week. Sometimes seven. That month I was off work after the accident really put me behind the curve.

Another thing to save up money for

Took the Kia over to Findlay Kia this morning bright and early at 0700, where they told me the headlight wasn't covered under warranty (!) and they'd call me when they knew what was up. A couple of hours later, I was woken by the phone; the service guy informed me that replacing the headlight assembly was going to cost me $500 but having his electrician rewire the defective socket would only be $250. Didn't matter since I couldn't afford either one, which I told him before hanging up and going back to sleep.

Woke up a little before 1600 and shut off the alarm before it could go off. Had coffee and called an Uber to get me over to Findlay and get the Forte out of hock; had a nice conversation with the driver about working days v. nights and part-time versus full-time. The dealer charged me $113 to run a diagnostic to confirm what I told them, upgraded the stereo's software, and that was it. Didn't even run the car through the wash. I stopped at Arco on the way home for fluids and cash, but didn't go to Palace Station since I wanted to get home and do the daily blogging, which I did.

Uber upgraded the app so people can now tip us, and they're celebrating by matching tips tomorrow. I'll probably start out the night up by Santa Fe Station, since that's where the Central Committee meeting is. I've gotten a couple of e-mails inveighing against "the Crew" and am not sure what to make of them. Probably going to ask the Political Hat tomorrow night.


There is a scene in The Sword, one of the Raj Whitehall novels by David Drake and Stephen Stirling, where Lady Whitehall is fussing over some detail of Raj's dress uniform*, and he reflects that it's very much like someone in a situation that's so out of control that they focus on the very small thing that they can actually affect. I have felt for quite some time that the media, and social media especially, want to distract us from our own collections of very small things - the things in our lives that we should be concentrating on because they have an immediate impact on our lives, our neighbors, the small communities we actually live in as opposed to the huge nation that is also our home, but that we have very little actual control over. The media want us to get excited over what happens in Washington, New York, LA, Riyadh, Kabul - yes, even Manchester - when in fact there is little or nothing we ourselves can do. We go to the polls every couple of years and vote for politicians who we hope will do a good job representing most of the things we believe need doing, but that's about all we can do. The opportunities to be involved in the Great Game of global politics just don't come along very often for most of us, and even at the national level, it can take decades to come into a position of even minor influence.

Now, if you have the leisure time, influence, and/or money to get involved in these things, by all means, do so. The fact remains that a lot of us don't, and trying to be involved in them is going to turn us into unpleasant cranks who are dogmatically committed to certain points of view and won't shut up about them. I've been one of those people, and it wasn't very fun.

Fixating on this big-picture stuff will drive you crazy if you pay too much attention to it, and despite having been tangled up in it for most of my life, I need to take a step back and concentrate my efforts on the parts of this world that are going to do the most good. I have to connect with friends, work on the small things in my life and my several communities that I can affect, and disconnect from the things I can't. Depending on my discipline and my health** I probably have a little over a couple decades left to me in which I can do things for friends, family, and other folks I care about. "And maybe they'll be happy for a while." One can hope.

*Minutes before an audience where everyone expects the paranoid Governor Barholm Clerett to order Raj executed.
**Yeah, I'm fucked.
Much to my annoyance, this song is not saved to my hard drive or my external drive, and I'm not sure I own the CD.

Started the app a little after 2100 after grabbing more breakfast-like foods at Jack In The Box using my BOGO coupon, and proceeded to spend about 45 minutes in the airport staging lot before getting my first rider. This was a foreshadowing of how the night was going to go. There were long stretches of the night (by which I mean up to 30 minutes) where I had no calls. So it wasn't too surprising that I ended the night with only 13 rides for $76; I tacked on another five rides between 0400-0600 but they were all short runs adding up to a mere $20. I did make $28 in tips, though, and the babe count was a respectable 13. All this brings me up to $180 for the weekend.

Couldn't find a flat-head screwdriver, but my NRA knife was sufficient to reset the child-proof locks.

Going to have some yogurt and hopefully get relaxed enough to fall asleep shortly. Hopefully Sunday night will get me over $250, but I'm not going to hold my breath.


Woke up around 1100. Weight and BG both lower today; BG in fact was back under 200. Celebrated with eggs and sausage and ham and cheese for breakfast. Fooled around a little bit with the original Bioshock, since Bioshock Remastered is worth every penny I didn't pay for it. The museum of unused ideas in Remasteredwas a pretty interesting conceit, or it would have been if I'd been able to control the trackball better. As for the game itself, I never got past the screen where our protagonist is trying not to drown - it just whitescreened and went back to the main menu. Feh.

Did Rule 5 Sunday more or less on time. Thought about going out for a burger or something, but in the end I stayed in and had a salami & cheese wrap instead.

Tomorrow I'm going to call the credit union about arranging for new wheels, and hopefully they can get me back on the road soonest.

Anime Detour 2017 AAR

well, I was going to post this a week ago Wednesday night, but then I got distracted by filthy, filthy lewdsRule 5 stuff on Twitter...
Would you like to know more?Collapse )
All in all, it was a good weekend. Got to see more of my friends on staff than I have in past years, got the usual pats on the back for starting this mess, and that was good. Not so good is seeing the convention start to suffer some of the staffing problems I expected it would when it got to be this size. I am doing what little I can to help.

*In fact, I did no Ingressing whatsoever over the weekend.
**I got the map later on.

So about last night..

I was having a pretty good night doing the Uber thing until about 2:40 this morning, when some asshole slammed into the back of my Hyundai while I was waiting for the light at Tropicana and Ocean. Said asshole hit me hard enough that I blacked out for a second; when I came to, I shut the engine off and was trying to figure out where my glasses went when the guy comes up to me and asks "What are you doing sitting in the intersection?" and "Are you okay?" My response was less than temperate - no, I was not okay, why the f*** did you hit me? He suggested we move our cars to the right lane of Tropicana and I told him I wasn't going anywhere until I found my glasses, which it took me a couple minutes to do. Once the vehicles were moved, he came over again and asked if I was okay (I wasn't) and then he just left.

I called 911 and then reported the accident to Uber; after about ten minutes a motorcycle cop arrived, took my statement, took pictures, talked to the Tropicana security guard who'd seen everything, and gave me a copy of the accident report. He asked me if I wanted an ambulance and/or a tow truck, and I stupidly said no. He told me I was free to drive at my own risk, so I motored on up the '15 to the VA hospital, because I wasn't sure what kind of hassles I was going to have with the civilian hospitals, especially on a Friday night. When i got out of my car in the ER parking lot, I was accosted by a Nevada Highway Patrol sergeant, who had a number of unkind things to say regarding my brains, common sense, etc., before getting around to delegating writing me up* to a regular NHP trooper. The VA policeman who joined the small mob of police on scene walked me to the triage desk, which is more than those fuckers from the NHP even offered to do.

While lying on a gurney at the ER, Uber called me to follow up and I gave them the accident report number, which I hadn't had at the time I filed the initial accident report with them. Doctor came by shortly thereafter and checked me out; he didn't see any need for a CAT scan and released me with some painkillers and muscle relaxants, which I am going to take right after I post this. I thought about taking an Uber home but decided the DVX bus was a better option, or at least cheaper. Changed buses downtown (and did breakfast at the Golden Nugget since I hadn't eaten anything but a bag of almonds since 9 PM last night) and took the SDX home.

What a shitty start to the off-season. The Hyundai is safe at the VA until at least Monday; I need to make arrangements with the credit union to get it fixed -or replaced, if it's too trashed to fix. But that's for Monday.

*for driving an unsafe vehicle. Court date's in July.

The Heinlein Standard

Moe Lane asked,

As in: love or hate JRR Tolkien as you please, but you may not ignore him when it comes to the fantasy genre. Venerate or despise HP Lovecraft for any number of reasons, but when we talk about horror we are ultimately using concepts and conceits that he defined and developed.  But if there’s a single figure of the science fiction field that similarly towers over the landscape, I do not know his or her name.  Bob Heinlein comes close. So does John Campbell, although that would have been more true thirty years ago.

*cue arguments in the comments and on Twitter*

Moe seems to have skipped right over the obvious candidate right there. I'm a big fan of John W. Campbell, Jr., as the editor of ASF who defined the SF genre and particularly the "hard SF" occasionally sneered at as "engineer porn", but as an author, JWC belongs in the Golden Age of Pulp along with his contemporaries Doc Smith and Edmond Hamilton. Nobody today, or even in the last fifty years, compares themselves to Campbell.

Uncle Bob, though...the man has been dead for almost thirty years, but the mere mention of the author or his works can still set supposed adults to frothing with rage. I have lived long enough to see authors in two separate generations have their best-known works compared to Heinlein, and likewise to see his critics flame out and disappear into obscurity. Whether one likes it or not, anyone writing military SF stories that deal with elite infantry is going to find those stories compared to Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Conservative and libertarian SF writers hold up Heinlein as an icon, a touchstone, an inspiration; leftists, on the other hand, have reviled him for the last sixty years for leaving the Socialist Democrats of Upton Sinclair and becoming a fervent nationalist. They complain that Heinlein's portrayal of women was offensive and denigrating, when it's well known that he modeled a lot of those characters on his wife Virginia, an accomplished woman in her own right as an engineer and quite a babe besides.

There are a lot of other SF writers who had an impact on the field; there are others who were as popular as Heinlein. You seldom see people compared to Ray Bradbury, Arthur Clarke, or Harlan Ellison, though. That's because for better or for worse, the Dean of Science Fiction is also its gold standard, the towering figure against whom all others are measured. I could probably make the argument that his impact on SF has been greater than Lovecraft's on horror and Tolkien's on fantasy, but that's not my point. It is comparable, and that is enough.

Oh, hello there. Been a while.

I see that it's been five and a half years since I last logged in here at Dreamwidth, and there have been a few changes. For those of you that haven't been following my misadventures on LiveJournal, here's a short summary.

2012: Failed the CPA exam, got evicted from my apartment in Foxchase, and after a temporary stay in Crystal City for a month, I wound up renting a bedroom out in Springfield.

2013-2014: Nothing much happened. I collected disability from Social Security, worked for Block during the tax season, attended Balticon and Anime Detour and sometimes Katsucon.

2015: I got pushed into declaring bankruptcy, which I managed with some help from my friends, and eventually packed up a bunch of my stuff (after giving away several pickup truck loads to people who could use the charitable contribution deduction better than I could) before driving to Las Vegas immediately after Balticon by way of Louisiana, Houston, Albuquerque, and various points in between -like Chattanooga, Wichita Falls, Tucumcari, and Kingman- before settling into the Plaza Hotel for a couple days until I got my apartment lease done. Friends helped me fix my truck and get my stuff out of hock as well. It's very good to have friends, and I have been especially blessed.

2016: After a disappointing tax season, I started driving for Uber in May. This was fun and profitable, if occasionally annoying. Went to Anime Detour and Balticon and the Salt Lake City Ingress Anomaly, which was disappointing. Got back in touch with an old friend from Civil Air Patrol days.

This entry was originally posted at http://wombat-socho.dreamwidth.org/1095086.html. Please comment there using OpenID.



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