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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in zebediah's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
7:48 pm
Steampunk, Cyberpunk, and the Machine as Metaphore
My friend earthdragon once said that the difference between steampunk and cyberpunk is that steampunk is a dystopia run by idealists, while cyberpunk is a dystopia run by cynics.

While I can't say for certain he said more than he knew (Earthdragon can be amazingly and subtly insightful), it just clicked in my head recently with a meaning I hadn't realized before.

In both Cyberpunk and Steampunk, the primary metaphor for, well, everything -- primarily human society -- is that of the Machine.

== Steampunk ==

In Steampunk, we're in the Victorian era. The machine is being constructed. Factories are mushrooming, "Progress" is a virtue unto itself, and everyone lives in an clockwork social world where you know you place, your type, and your function / obligations.

The Machine isn't working right yet -- we're still trying to put it together -- but when it does, it produces wonders. Mad sciencey goodness at its best, without the scientists needing to be mad. Gentlemen adventurers. Crimesolvers and Noble Servants.

That's why we all keep working on it, even though it's full of problems, and causes horrible things to happen -- disease, poverty, pollution, war. These things exist because we haven't build the perfect clockwork world yet, and when we finally do, they will be Solved.

== Cyberpunk ==

In Cyberpunk, we're in the future. The Machine has been built, by man although not always by his intentions, and it's unstoppable. You can't escape it -- the 'net is everywhere, and there's no place the corporations don't reach their tendrils -- the best you can do is fall though the cracks. Even crime is run by massive crime families, huge illegal institutions that can track you.

The Machine does produce wonders, with orgiastic fervor and regularity, but those wonders are horrible. They pollute, they contain, they control, they contaminate and dehumanize.

But we're stuck in it. You can't escape the system -- you can use it or it uses you. But you can fall through the cracks, in the gaps in the perfect clockwork universe, and become shadowrunners, small-time criminals, wacked-out weirdoes living on the fringe. Or blockbuster artists, trying to maintain their individuality as they slowly get turned into a Brand, complete with legal, handlers, and endorsement deals.

And life in the cracks, as squalid as it is -- as squalid as the life of the poor and criminal in the victorian age -- is wondrous. It's where the impossible happens.

== The Machine ==

The Machine is an ordered society, where you are not an individual. You are the product of your world, and tied into it in a thousand visible and invisible ways. It speaks to your soul, whether you want it to or not.

The Machine is nearly everywhere, and grows every day, adding to itself. It is transformative and regularized. It produces wonders.

In the cracks, the machine breaks down. There are gremlins out there, bugs in the system, and you might be one of them. In a steampunk world...that's usually a bad thing. In a cyberpunk world, it's the source of hope. But in either, when the people from the cracks and the people from the Machine interact, that's where the story happens.

Did that make sense? How much do we live in the Machine, or in its cracks? And if we do, is it a Victorian machine, a Cyberpunk machine, or something stranger?

Color Notes: Grey. Black. Some blue, as always. Ant-red, often -- subtlety is favored. For those in the cracks, you may try Green or White concerns to hold up against weakened Grey.
Thursday, January 15th, 2009
2:45 pm
How do you store and process information?
How do you track information, and in what sorts of structures do you hold onto it for future reference?

I have a startlingly small number of basic structures I use to try to catagorize and hold onto information.

First off, I do poorly with lists. Holding onto a mass of undifferentiated details is next to impossible for any length of time. Stuff may get stored...but retrieval becomes a crapshoot.

So how do I store those details? In one of three ways.

* First, I tend to lump details into "core concepts" with clouds of associations, some of which may be relational points to other "core concepts." There are often hierarchies: Medicine is a major category, "diagnostic tests" and "how to tie splints" and "thermic problems" are all subcategories, "trauma assessment, SAMPLE history, stroke test" are all diagnostic tests with individual steps listed under them, the three basic splits and their variations, "mild/severe, hot/cold" are checks for treatment under "thermic problems."

So you wind up with unfolding chains of complexity, not unlike a file folder tree on a computer.

* Second, I do combinatorics. There's a small number of "basic concepts" and things that unfold as combinations of two or more of those. Sometimes, you get "choose N from column A, choose M from column B." For example, all fourth ed D&D characters get classified under "choose one power source, choose one role." I did a post in gamescratch.livejournal.com a little while ago defining power sources as singletons or pairs of the four worlds of 4e.

Cookie recipes also get stored in my head this way. Pick several from "chocolate, soft or crisp, peanut butter, nuts, fruit, jam/fruit flavor, oatmeal, spice, frosted" and you get most of the cookies I like to eat.

* Third, I do node maps. Edges may be classified by type, but I probably won't hold onto individual "weights" like exist in many real node maps.

Oddly enough, this is how I track locations. Each location is a node, and I know connective pathways from node to node. I can sometimes trace a multistep path, or even (although this is hard) find that I'm in the middle of an "edge" and jump onto it to get to someplace I know.

* Fourth, kinesthetic procedures. This is the hardest for me to describe, as often I don't have any actual words for these. They're... sequiences of movements or steps.

I'm learning to swing dance right now, and it's mostly a process of picking up a bunch of kinesthetic procedures, with notes on how to transition and string them together.


And for me, that's pretty much it. I can do some combinations of the above: swing dance will be a Major Category, with combinatorics of kinesthetic procedures...and some space to improvise.


I know other people store information differently.

Some people remember pictures as whole images, with information embedded in them, or dangling off keyed to the image. I'm more likely to break down a picture into details, sort them as above, and then reconstruct the image if I need to remember it.

Some people remember locations, and can navigate easily. I get by as I can with kinesthetics and use maps as auxiliary brainspace.

There's apparently a way of storing concepts *socially* as lumps of networked personal information. I wind up with Core Concepts and some node maps, and it gets....clumsy, pretty quickly. People become subsets of other people, or parts of categories of permutations of social settings and roles, or have categorized edges connecting them to other people.

Some people keep track of time relationally, and hold to do lists in their head as simple chains of events. I suck at this.

Are there more ways out there I don't know or see? How do you store information? What do you do with an "undifferentiated mass of detail" in order to track it all? How do you remember it, and what things do you actually remember, and what do you reconstruct in your head instead?

I'm really quite curious.
Friday, October 3rd, 2008
2:06 pm
is kicking my butt. And it's not the only thing on my plate. If I'm being slow to respond and you want to talk to me -- send me email again. I'm losing track of things that aren't Of Critical Importance.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008
4:25 pm
Relationships: Four Tenents of Belief
Fodder for conversation:

I identify as polyamorous (polyphilious? Multiamorious?) and, as part of that, I hold four things to be true.

1) Communication is Superior to Assumption.

2) "Different" is not "Wrong"

3) A working practicality, even if messy, is superior to a nonfunctional ideal.

4) Love is necessary...but not sufficient.

Which of these do you believe? Why, and why not?

Do you know other people who you think believe them all, or who believe none of them?
10:35 am
It must have been so bright...
..bright as a dozen suns, and larger than life itself, to cast such a shadow. Soft as dove's wings, cold as silence -- a shadow dark enough to dim the light that cast it.


Old news, stirred up again. I am, and will be fine. Sometimes, though, expressing something helps to grapple with things too big to feel all of at once.

Current Mood: Enigmatic
Thursday, August 28th, 2008
2:52 pm
New Job, New Schedule
Let it be known to all that I am starting a new job as an EMT in a couple weeks, and have a new (and somewhat screwy) schedule.

This may (read: will) cause me to look at everything else I have scheduled in my life and see how it all fits back in. I'll be gathering information for that asap -- logistics have never been my strong suit, and I'll need some time to make it all work in my head.

In particular, I'm basically not going to be available for anything fridays: it's my new hell day, starting before sunup and ending well after sundown. It's not actually like this will be my first time with 14 hour days, but it has been a little while.

Oh, and -- New job! Yay!

Current Mood: Excited
Friday, August 22nd, 2008
5:31 am
Gah. GAH.
New and Painfully Annoying Conditions, Part 1:

(or, if not new, at least ones I haven't experienced in quite a while)

Too stressed to sleep.


Too tired to stay awake.


coming up and down out of obsessive revisiting of everything I may have done wrong and very strange, vaguely terrifying dreams.

Internet, to the rescue?

Current Mood: like a swirly
Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
8:00 pm
Public Service Announcement: on Happiness, and Convincing
You can convince me that something is right.

You can even convince me to support something. Especially if I believe that it is a good and right thing. I may convince myself.

But that does not mean you can convince me to be happy about it.

Don't you think I want to be happy about what is good and right? I have tried, and it is not that easy. If I am not happy about it...

Well, I'll tell you about the source of my emotion. I'll remind you that I believe you're right. And then, we'll both have to walk away for a while, because we're at an impasse.

And that doesn't mean that it's your problem.

Or your responsibility.
Thursday, February 21st, 2008
3:06 pm
Realization About Poly
Something just gelled in my brain. I know it's not a new realization, but it feels important.

Being poly doesn't mean not having jealousy, or feeling loss, or wanting different things than (one of your partners) wants. It doesn't mean that those who do are wrong, or just need to deal -- and that goes both for one's self and for others.

That's the "locked into the only relationship I'll ever have, so I have to be OK with it" mentality.

Poly means acknowledging jealousy, loss, and differences in wants, and working with or around them so that the people in your relationship constellation can be happy.

And it often means trying things that don't work, and, in an ideal world, rolling back and trying something else instead until you find something that does. Because not everyone has the same idea of "reasonable" or "rational," and emotions are annoyingly changeable and unpredictable.

If I violate this, people have my permission, nay, my request to smack me upside the head.

Current Mood: overworked
Tuesday, February 12th, 2008
7:03 pm
Who Needs a Place to Live?
Because there will be one, soon, in my house.

We're in Somerville, right near tealle square (less than a block to the 88, 87, and 89 buses, a couple blocks from the 77, 15-20 minute walk from Davis Square). The house currently has 3.5 housemates, and one is leaving in the next month or so. They're all neat people. Full (and rather expansive) kitchen (we share grocery expenses), dining room, living room, and foyer, semifinished basement workshop w/laundry on the other side, 2 full bathrooms (ok, so the downstairs one only has a shower, not a tub), garden in progress in the back yard (or it will be, once spring rolls around again), grape arbor. And people. Did I mention cool people? We're kind of geeky, although we point in different geek directions.

I'm screening comments. If you have questions or are interested, leave on, and I'll answer you or get you in touch with my landlady. If you know somebody whose interested, you can point'em here.
Friday, December 14th, 2007
3:17 pm
Hey, who raised the drawbridge?
I can feel it. The little withdrawals, the cocooning inside myself, the pull back to the smallest familiar world. My mother would suggest I suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder, as she's noted this tends to happen as it gets cold, and would recommend I get extra doses of light. I don't know what causes it, and if there are any easy fixes, but, well, it's both poor and aggravatingly subtle. When it's more blatant, at least it's easy to detect early, instead of months in.

The worst part? I've got a couple of projects, with which I should be stupidly busy, so I always have something I should be working on rather than socializing. Whether or not that's what I'm actually doing...

Yeah, it's a problem. Sorry, folks. It usually gets better in february, but I can understand annoyance (heck, I'm annoyed at me) if one has to wait that long.
Thursday, September 6th, 2007
6:22 pm
[local] Friends, Romans, Countrymen -- lend me your card tables.
My house (and some others) are having a yard sale this saturday, the 8th, at 126 powderhouse blvd. in somerville, from 10 to 4. There should be a few posters up in powderhouse square, and near davis -- I refer you to the journals of damselfrog and cindy_lu for more content. What I'm actually concerned about is logistics.

See, I'm looking to borrow a few card tables for the weekend. If you can loan us one, please drop me a line (comment or send me email) and I'll attempt to pick it up tomorrow, or if you're willing to bring one by saturday morning between 9 and 10am, that would be lovely. Although we're unlikely to be able to get card tables back to you saturday, we can arrange reasonable return.

Contact me if you'd like to help! Oh, and come by and see if you'd like to buy anything -- we have some good stuff for sale this weekend.

we may have enough to be set at this point -- many thanks to those who responded!
Friday, June 22nd, 2007
10:28 am
thanks to all...
...who commented on my last post. It was following a genuinely positive experience, though with some significant doses of bittersweet, and I needed to be maudlin for a bit. I appreciate the comfort and the empathy. I'm not staying in the maudlin place -- it was a necessary stop, but not where the real psychological work gets done, so onwards, ever onwards, to bigger and brighter things (ow, my eyes!)
Wednesday, June 20th, 2007
12:54 am
cryptic and maudlin
Sometimes, the best things in life make you cry.

Current Mood: cryptic and maudlin
Monday, June 18th, 2007
11:59 pm
quick thoughts on tabletop gaming: making a party
from Nod:

Everyone in the party must have a connection to everyone else in the party. Up to one of these may be fairly spoofy, depending on party size, but it should exist. Key reason: these are the people you go to when Story (i.e. conflict that's going to be pushed to resolution, rather than being defused) happens in your life. You need a reason to go to them.

Everyone needs to be the kind of person who pushes for conflict resolution, not just defusing or exacerbating conflicts. The former leads to people just pulling out of the story, the latter to aggravation, not story. In some fiction, there's one person who pushes for defusing conflicts -- they must have strong enough party ties that the party drags them along anyway, and be of the sort for whom fighting with the party over whether or not to go on an Adventure is, pretty rapidly and apparently, more work than going on the Adventure itself.

Putting new PCs into an existing group is HARD. REALLY HARD. There have been a couple of qualified successes. New Madu, the personality that emerges, needs to be examined from the POV of the party-building criteria above. Concerns are already being worked on, this should help clarify them.

It also helps, for a Grand Game, to have both several people with nonconflicting Grand Goals that involve/benefit from other party members, and to have in the back of people's minds (although, in nod, I don't think it was generally in the forefront) the Final Arc -- in this case, that there would be some form of elemental "Let My People Go" conflict between the Aramites and Enoch.

Oh, and tonight, the Arovim racial theme got much better qualified in a way I very much like. It's not just "what is a man, what is a beast" but "how do other's perceptions affect the question of what is a man and what is a beast?" I find this highly appropriate.

If I do say so myself, the Land of Nod? It rocks. It rocks on toast.
Tuesday, June 5th, 2007
11:16 am
Moment of Gloating
I have just returned from taking the final exam of my EMT-B course at Northeastern University. My final average for the course was 97%, a solid 4.0, coming in as the second highest average right behind the guy who's been a practicing paramedic in three states and whose average wavered all the way down to 99% at on point, but slightly (slightly!) above the Red Cross instructor who's planning to go on to teach paramedics. Victory is mine!

::insert utterly gratuitous victory dance here::

I'm not entirely done yet -- I'm arranging two review sessions before the state practical exam on july 7th, and then there's the state written, but I'd say confidence here is high. EMT-B license, here I come.

I should do something to celebrate.

Current Mood: Accomplished
Saturday, June 2nd, 2007
3:47 pm
Retraining Diary: Inappropriate Responses to Anger.
cut for concrete introspection. Did I mention I'm very blue/grey?Collapse )

so yeah. I have some stuff to work with. Now I just need to work with it.

Current Mood: relieved and determined
Wednesday, May 9th, 2007
11:33 pm
a couple quick thoughts...
This bit is mostly QI, for myself -- I am not happy with my actions at the hospital on monday. There were some good things (the fact that I may have convinced someone to go into medicine, making some people laugh, etc), but near the end there was a patient who was grouchy, with a high level of frustration, and Very Clear Ideas of what her treatment should be, that didn't conform exactly with what her treatment was. After talking to her for a bit, it became clear that she didn't want to be unreasonable, but was, in fact, grouchy, in part because she'd been suffering from something chronic and deeply scary for a relatively short period of time...or at least, knowingly for a short period of time, but the manifestations had been obvious only for those few(?) months.

What should I have done? My role is to be compassionate. By listening and being present for her, I may have been able to do a fair amount of good. Instead, I "gave care" -- got her things she stated or implied she wanted, and mentally filed her as a "problem patient." Instead of assuring her of the competency of the doctors, I spent my breath telling her that I was not the person in charge of deciding what was done, and that even the nurse wasn't the one with all of the (insert relevant decision making power here). Instead of just letting her know she couldn't eat until her results came back (everyone in the ER wants to eat or drink, and there are a million and a half reasons why they can't), I could have told her that she wasn't allowed to eat yet, but that her nurse was aware of her hunger, and could let her know when the results were in.

I did not know how to respond to her passive-aggressiveness...or her unwillingness to embrace things, other than medication, that would giver her something to do and help her remain calm in an ER setting. I still do not. "Swift and professional" action where I had something I could do was...a decent fallback. It was not up to what I feel I should have been doing, however. I'm looking into nursing for the Helping People...and she wasn't a People, even though she clearly deserved to be (setting aside even the question of whether or not simply being a human being in an ER is qualification enough). She was a Problem to be Solved.

In particular, this means that my background emotional state has a significant effect on my ability to care, even when I'm not consciously aware of it, or experiencing it overtly at the time. This is worthy of note. More awareness may help, as will -- in general -- better behaviors around managing my own emotional situations. I do not control my environment, but I both influence it, and regardless of that have choices about how I respond to it.


the other quick thought? I'm working on a metaphor, where Anger is the "lactic acid" of the limbic (~emotional/emotional-communal) self. Just as lactic acid builds up in a muscle when it is worked past a certain point, anger can develop in a relation or emotional loop when it is overtaxed or overstretched to some degree. Some amount of anger or discomfort may, like lactic acid in the muscle, signal for the build up of strength, giving more power to the limbic self, or to the connection that is an aspect of it. But a state of chronic overwork in a muscle causes it to atrophy rather than build up.

This is obviously pretty incomplete -- I need to go look up the actual metabolic effects of anaerobic respiration in muscle cells, and the body's processes involving its byproducts, but there may be a seed there. Remembering, of course, that a muscle really only grows stronger in one way -- the limbic self can develop strengths in many different directions.

Current Mood: tired, but focused
Monday, April 23rd, 2007
10:06 pm
EMT-B Class Eats Month of May
So, as some of you know and some of you don't, I'm taking an intensive EMT course at Northeastern. It's already started, goes throughout all of may, and if all goes as planned, I should have my certification as an late birthday present to myself.

The course is, as is becoming increasingly clear, intensive, especially for someone like me who hasn't really had any prior serious medical training and who is not very good at using his own senses as measuring devices. It's been a while since I've taken a class, and doing well in this one is Really Important.

Really, Really Important. As in, class time and the serious study and note-taking I'm actually needing to do outside of class are trumping all other priorities in my life until June in cases of genuine conflict. I will attempt to add "unless I really need to study" at the end of any commitment I make, but if I forget, please assume it.

I'm still attempting to maintain the other things in my life that are important, that I'm committed to, or (inclusive) that I enjoy doing, and class is not taking up all my time in a rigid manner. But this is a heads up. I have a new Primary Commitment, and it is needing of my time and energy, and it is needing me at my best.

this has been a public service announcement.  Thank you all for listening.

Current Mood: Serious
Friday, April 13th, 2007
12:34 pm
Old Songs!
filler post, to remind me to post again soon:

Old Songs Folk Festival, June 22-24th in Altamont, NY. Amazing folk festival. Details at http://www.oldsongs.org/festival/index.html I try to go every year, didn't last year due to moving. Many performers there, even those who aren't performing. Very participatory. Rocks on toast. Yar.

Current Mood: Yar!
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