they’ve got no horns and they’ve got no tail

This morning dawned chill and grey and overcast and Seattle. I’m sure all the natives cheered it, as they cheered a similar day yesterday; July was record-settingly hot. But me? My body’s learnt that skies like that mean it’s time to shut down and hibernate for another three-quarters of a year.

I went out with a book for a sandwich for breakfast, and no urge to get anything done today. I was just gonna sit in the park with a hot drink and read for a while.

But on the way to the park, I found myself singing the chorus of the title track of Genesis’ album “A Trick Of The Tail”. It’s a little story about a person who leaves a “city of gold” to wander a world that sees his city as just a legend, ends up a freak in a cage for a while, and eventually makes it back home. And today I felt all too sympathetic to that plight: I come from a strange, colorful city that’s been on the edge of sinking into the swamps for my whole life, and could quite possibly vanish within my lifetime thanks to global warming. I’ve spent most of the past decade in a cold place full of people who recoil from the sun that gives me life; they wail in misery during the few weeks of the year I actually feel alive for. A mythical beast, lost in an alien land, telling tales of a place that sounds straight out of myth, beginning to question if the place they remember ever existed at all? Yeah. Yeah, I can sympathize with that. I can sympathize with that a lot today.

I used to visit my mother at least once a year. Two years ago, I went back during summer for her funeral, and I haven’t been back since. I sat there in the park watching homesickness well up and spill out through me, and cried.

Seattle’s seemingly inexorable flight towards being another city that only people working for “disruptive” software companies seeking ways to suck profit out of every corner of human effort can afford to live in has been making me think it’s time to leave more and more. I’ve been thinking about a few places but I think today just really made it clear that it’s time for me to go spend at least a few years in the city I grew up in, a place that’s so implausible that there was a Twitter thread going around for a few days in which an RPG designer pointed out all the things he’d ask for revisions on if someone handed in a world map with an accurate depiction of the place on it.

Maybe I’ll stay. Maybe I’ll find circumstance slinging me out to some other adventure, hopefully in a much more mild way than when I moved there three days before Katrina and ended up in Boston with Nick and Rik. I don’t know. Or care. I just know that I am getting perilously close to the maximum number of Seattle winters I can make it through and survive.

He grabbed a creature by the scruff of his neck, pointing out:
There, beyond the bounds of your weak imagination
Lie the noble towers of my city, bright and gold.
Let me take you there, show you a living story
Let me show you others such as me
Why did I ever leave?

They’ve got no horns and they’ve got no tail
They don’t even know of our existence
Am I wrong to believe in a city of gold
That lies in the deep distance, he cried
And wept.

And so we set out with the beast and his horns
And his crazy description of home.
After many days journey we came to a peak
Where the beast gazed abroad and cried out.
We followed his gaze and we thought that maybe we saw
A spire of gold – no, a trick of the eye that’s all,
But the beast was gone and a voice was heard:

They’ve got no horns and they’ve got no tail
They don’t even know of our existence
Am I wrong to believe in a city of gold
That lies in the deep distance

Hello friend, welcome home.

a vanishing, in progress

This morning I started batch deleting old Twitter and Facebook posts. Twitter’s relatively easy, if “deciding to trust one of several websites, or to get a script up and running” is easy. Facebook though? Boot up Chrome (not my main browser). Install an extension that can batch delete old Facebook statuses. Start using it. Watch Chrome wedge up so hard that it just shows blank windows when I restart it after force quitting it.

I did get as far as 2011 (my second year on that site, I held out a good while) which is when Ricky died. I got to watch some of those comments scroll by as they got deleted, one by one. That was basically the thing that got me to ever really use my Facebook account in the first place. Those conversations are gone now.

Possibly this is not something I should be doing when I’m mopey and haven’t had breakfast or my pills yet but I’ve been contemplating this for a few days. I’ve been in a place lately that can best be summed up as “for-profit social media considered harmful”. And having Facebook and Twitter’s attempts to fix their problems end up interfering with the ways I’ve set things up to copy my posts from my blog and Mastodon is just getting a big shrug from me; really the only thing that’s keeping my Facebook account alive at this point is the pile of people watching the Tarot deck’s page, waiting for me to get a Kickstarter for a second edition moving.

At any rate, I reinstalled Chrome and kept poking at the Facebook batch deleter. I’m up to 2015 now. It’s kinda slow and takes multiple passes but I sure have a much smaller trove of stuff to mine off of Facebook than I did this morning.

goodbye, facebook; hello, dreamwidth

So.

In the course of setting up things for a potentially really cool collaboration, I have recently been reminded I have a dormant Dreamwidth account.

And today I got informed that Facebook is going to stop letting me automatically crosspost from my blog at the start of August.

I have never wanted to be on Facebook badly enough to manually crosspost my blog entries to it. So if you follow me on Facebook, be prepared for my new posts to pretty much stop next month. If you’re on Dreamwidth, let me know – maybe some of the people I knew in the LJ days will reactivate their dormant accounts too and we can, like, have conversations that aren’t being relentlessly monetized.

Process: marker

Today I realized that I was a couple days past a deadline: I needed to do a couple of sketches that would be added to copies of a Kickstarted comics anthology I was part of. I don’t do physical work very much any more, so I figured I’d document my current process.

Now that I look over the whole process, I might go back and add the earring I had in the rough and forgot about. I should also either do the other sketch I have to do for this Kickstarter, or get some work in on Parallax – I spent half the day procrastinating on doing this drawing!

the most casual of gaming

Out of the jillions of games available for iOS, I keep on coming back to Bejeweled. There’s a handful of games installed on my phone but that’s the only one that ever really gets any play; mostly in its “Butterflies” mode, which is turn-based, and requires no investment in remembering what you were doing from moment to moment – perfect for a game that has to be juggled with keeping an eye out for my bus stop, and could be paused for a week until the next time I’m on the bus and don’t feel like reading.

I used to mix it up with a Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move clone (also from Popcap, I think) but quit when I started getting nothing but levels designed to make you cough up the in-app purchases on that. If iOS wasn’t such a walled garden I’d consider sticking MAME on there with the appropriate ROM, but that sure is work. Although writing this made me do some rudimentary duckgoing for “puzzle bobble ios” and discover Puzzle Bobble Journey. Which has IAP but sounds like it also has a decent amount of distraction before hitting that wall.

I should maybe try looking for more turn-based stuff for the phone but honestly I don’t really want to have a ton of that in my life.

an ending

Today was supposed to be D&D but I woke up just knowing it was time to leave the campaign; I just don’t have the energy or enthusiasm for getting it rolling again after multiple spring holidays disrupted it for a month or two. Especially with a new player coming in. So bowing out of that with some (hopeful) measure of grace was… fun.

I hope this isn’t the death knell for the entire campaign. I will feel bad if it is. But leaving feels better than continuing to be part of it and spending my Sundays failing to play a role that I just don’t have my heart in any more.

Anyway. Back to work, I guess. Comics ain’t gonna draw themselves.

(later: looks like two of the other three original players decided to bow out as well. Might be continuing with the one remaining original player, the new one, and another new one. Good luck to them and the GM.)

Huh.

Called out as a highlight on a sidebarred MeFi post. Well that’s a weird little sort of achievement.

I will have been on Metafilter for ten years come this August and I feel impossibly old because of that.

the dream of the centipede ritual

This morning I woke up from a dream that Donald Tump was riding a giant centipede around the perimeter of the entire continental US as part of some magical ritual to claim the whole country. It was not pleasant.

Then we went to the computer repair shop to pick up Nick’s laptop and they said the SSD had stopped working when they put it back together. They’re gonna see if they can do anything with it and we’ll pick it up again tomorrow. In the meantime I pulled out the old Air and set up an account on it for him, so he can actually have the option to leave the apartment again.

I am still not entirely sure the tradeoff of Retina screen and a faster CPU versus the Air’s ability to spend a whole day out working on art without the battery getting anywhere near empty was a good one. Picking it up to start setting it up for him reminded me how incredibly light it feels, even without factoring in the fact that I’ve started habitually carrying the power brick around with the Pro…

Podcast? Podcast!

Hey so would you like to hear me talking about my Tarot deck and stuff? The Tarot Visions podcast interviewed me a couple weeks ago, and it’s up now.

https://tarotvisions.podbean.com/e/tarot-visions-chatting-with-margaret-trauth/

thank you for the ice cream, mr. tuffy

This morning, I woke up. Went to the farmer’s market, then started to plan my day. It’s a gorgeous, sunny one, normally that’d be my cue to take the computer and go out and work somewhere around town, then come home and go to bed. But I felt like sometimes that’s all I do any more. I wanted to go Have Some Fun.

Having Some Fun turned out to be going to the bike shop to get new tubes for my perpetually-flat tires, and some Mr. Tuffy to put between the tubes and the tire. Seriously I think half the reason I so rarely use my bike is that it keeps on having two flat tires every time I forget about it for a week, and the impulse to go for a ride fades fast when I think about dealing with that. I was surprised how easily the rear tire came off the wheel; I finally figured out the right technique for wedging one little tube lever in there, getting it parallel to the hub’s axis, and just gliding it along. So that was nice, given that it always used to take forever with my old techniques of using two that were largely parallel to the surface of the wheel and fidgeting them along; I expected to break half my nails and broke none instead. That was a happy surprise.

And then I confidently went to deal with the rear wheel. Got it off the deraileur. And then I put it down with the gear cassette facing down, and, well, gravity did its thing on something that’s been sitting around disused and unmaintained, and soon I had the cassette’s retaining hub and the first couple gears sitting loose on the ground. Oops. I couldn’t get them back on, so back to the bike shop I went. They were able to put it back together for me without much hassle, so pretty soon I was able to get the bike back together.

And then I was off, with no real destination in mind. I wandered up to Ravenna Park, though about maybe riding to Northgate, there’s some nice views along the way. But nah. This was the first time I’d been on a bike in a while; I really haven’t been using it since I moved to the University District, and worrying about the inevitable flats that came from not having any Mr. Tuffy in my tires since the last time I was in the bike shop they had no clue whatsoever when I asked for some of that. But here I was with fresh tubes and a +7 boost to their armor level from the Mr. Tuffy, fuck it, I’m gonna go suck down some fumes like I did when I was cycling through the gridlocked French Quarter to my college job in downtown New Orleans, or when I was commuting to animation school and various third-rate animation studios in Los Angeles.

It was pretty much downhill all the way from there and it was glorious. Down from the park through the University, with a few bits going back up along the way, then hanging my bike on a hook in the train and reading on the way down. Then I came out of the tunnel in the middle of downtown and just plopped myself right in the middle of the street, taking my place in traffic that wasn’t generally running any faster than I could have lazily cycled. Downhill all the way to Pike Place, where I sat in a secret garden on the roof eating a tasty barbecue chicken sandwich I bought down there. Read some more. And then it was a short hop over to the station under Benaroya Hall, which took me back to the University station.

And then I contemplated hopping on a bus and coming back home. But I’d been spending some time on the stationary bikes at the YMCA recently, and I felt like I’d maybe built up some basic strength and stamina in my legs? So I threaded an irregular route back through the University, instead of taking the straightest path possible along steeper roads. Until I came to the edge of campus and had to power up slopes I was definitely feeling for maybe five blocks. I had no shame in going slower than a walking pace here and there when I downshifted more than someone more enthusiastic about Cycling might; I just wanted to see if I could do it without getting off and walking the bike.

By the time I made it home, I was sweaty, thirsty, and low on glucose. Which gave me an excuse to go right back out and get some tasty ice cream from the ice cream shop a half a block away that I pass, and don’t go to, pretty much every time I leave the apartment.

So yeah. Thanks to a fresh install of Mr. Tuffy in my bike’s tires, I had the confidence to go out on a pleasant little cycling adventure today, which burnt more than enough calories that I could justify eating some really good ice cream.

It was also really, really nice to be able to take a bike ride. That’s always been one of the things I’ve took physical pleasure in ever since I started cycling around New Orleans to college – whizzing along, exerting my body, feeling the wind, and occasionally asserting my presence in the middle of a row of multi-ton death machines. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to flying under my own power, and it feels good.

(does this sound like ad for Mr. Tuffy, it’s not one I swear)

(also I really miss living somewhere with a great climate for cycling pretty much all year round)