penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
HR representative Neil Proctor and Mobile Android scientist Keri Sanford sat silently in the glass penthouse office and awaited their final appointment of the day. Since the newest androids (not so new, as they had been developed and on the market for nearly 40 months), had been so improved that they looked and sounded exactly like living, breathing humans, older models were being phased out.

It wasn’t a “recall,” Softgoo Labs insisted. But they did hasten the stoppage of use of earlier models by removing replacement parts from the marketplace and offered generous rebates for turning in such dilapidated machines for these incredibly lifelike units. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance for an improvement?

Neil furrowed his brow as he saw not a single unit, but a group of people getting off the elevator at once. He glanced at his colleague as they both stood up and moved to the front of the glass partition.

Keri and Neil moved to greet the group arriving.

“Hello,” Keri said gathering the group to stand together by reception.

“We hadn’t expected a whole family to show up.”

The man who was likely the patriarch of the group spoke. “Surely this isn’t the first time this has happened?”

“Well, it kind of is,” Neil said. “We’ve had a solo family member escort their unit, but never everyone, kids included!” Neil chucked the head of a small boy who immediately punched Neil in the thigh.

“Look, we understand just how difficult it is to give up a,” Keri consulted her clipboard “a B9-THX1138 unit.”

“Please!” the little boy shouted. “Call her Rachael. That’s her name.”

“Listen,” Neil pleaded. “This isn’t easy for anyone. But it makes sense to, um, turn… in…”

That’s when Neil noticed that there were two identical looking androids.

Neil looked at Keri’s clipboard, looked back to his notes and looked up at the family.

“There’s only supposed to be one unit being retired today.”

The eldest man of the group spoke again. “That’s right. One of these is Rachael, and the other is my wife made to look exactly like her.”

Both Keri and Neil circled around the twins eyeing both them and each other. The husband continued, “So, we have a situation. If you can tell which one is the actual android, we will leave her with you, no questions asked. But if you cannot, then you must provide parts, labor and service for Rachael for the remainder of all of our lives.”

“B-b-b-but that’s not how this works!” Neil stuttered. “You can’t come in here impersonating a machine and expect to get your way!”

“I understand your concern,” one Rachael said.

“But my family truly cares about me,” said the other Rachael.

Keri finally spoke up. “Look, as a creator and a scientist, I understand the desire to hold onto the things you… value.” She looked back and forth at the two Rachaels. “But let’s not make this into something regrettable.”

“Can you tell?” Said one Rachael.

“Which one is human?” Said the other Rachael.

“It would only take a couple of minor checks using our metallurgic…”

“No!” the father said. “You have to decide without the use of any tools or products.”

“Who made you the rule maker?” Neil said, staring him in the eye. “We are just doing our jobs. And these decommission sessions can’t take more than twenty minutes!”

“Please don’t be angry,” One Rachael said.

“This is, at heart, about love,” Said the other Rachael.

The entire group stood motionless, everyone shooting glances at everyone else. Then, Keri and Neil backed away into an alcove.

“Okay, so I can’t tell, based only on observation, which is which,” Keri admitted. “They made the wife up to look just like the unit, even with the serial hashmark behind her left ear. I checked for that first.”

“What about this. Put both of them in retirement tubes. Call their bluff.” Neil said with a tone of defiance. “They would never let their own family member…”

“I don’t know,” Keri said, shaking her head. “They went to all this trouble, they probably expect us to do something like that. Besides, if we kill a human, then we…”

“Yes. But if we don’t get this unit then we…” Neil reminded her, harshly.

Keri scrolled through her clipboard, and came across a concept she thought might work. “Let’s try this,” she said, holding up the notes for Neil to see. They walked back to the group.

“Listen. You aren’t the first family to want to keep their B9-TH…” Keri paused as the small boy was giving her the most hateful look she had ever known. “Um. You aren’t the first family to want to keep their Rachael.”

“But, hey! Look at the ‘Green Family’!” Neil took out a remote and pointed it at the wall. A video of a family in their dwelling began, everyone doing their own things, eating, interacting with video screens and computers, exercising in virtual gyms, all while their B9-THX1138 could only stand by and not do those things.

Then, in the next segment, the new android was participating in all family activities. The family was smiling and laughing together with the new unit. Neil pressed the remote again and the video disappeared.

“So, you see, this is the better way to go!” Neil concluded.

The family stood in stony silence.

Neil looked to the father figure. “Did you know that new androids also function as a purifier? That’s right, they will pee pure water! Now, there’s a fountain you’ll want to drink from!”

After examining the father’s countenance, Neil said, “I see where your son gets his expressions from,” trying to lighten the mood.

Neil pulled Keri back away.

“With all your technical know-how, you can’t tell one from the other?” Neil angrily whispered.

“Not just by looking. They did a really good job of mimicking the elements that made the B9 units obviously android.” Keri lamented.

“What are we supposed to do? We can’t let them go!” Neil stated.

“Time’s running out. Maybe we should try it your way,” said Keri. “Put them both in the retirement tubes. What other options are there?”

“Let’s do it.” Neil hissed, then practically ran back to the family.

“Alright. Here’s how it’s gonna go,” said Neil, grabbing one Rachael by the arm. Suddenly he was on the floor, the father standing over him.

“Do not lay hands on my family members,” he said in a voice so calm it was bone-chilling.

“Please walk over to this area,” Keri said, motioning for each Rachael to follow her to the back of the partition, as Neil got to his feet. Keri directed one Rachael to get into the tube on her left, the other into the tube on her right.

“We have placed both of these androids in the retirement tubes.” Neil said. “With one flick of this switch, they will both be eliminated.”

“Except, we know you can’t harm a human being,” the father stated. “You might say we’re calling your bluff.”

Neil pulled Keri back out into the reception area. “Isn’t there a scan, a remote device, something?” Neil looked at the clock. “There’s only five minutes left.”

“We can send them partway through the tube and see the reaction. Then, when we know, we bring back the human.” They rejoined the others.

“We’re really sorry, but we must follow through on our assignment,” Keri said, with a look of sympathy, before turning to the control panel and flipping two switches, then turning two meters.

The two tubes shuttered then sprang to life with a whoosh of air.

Keri then flipped the switches off and reopened the tubes. The Rachaels were gone.

“Sorry, gang,” Neil said. “You didn’t give us any choice. We had to do our jobs.”

The two eldest daughters immediately hugged, sobbing into each other’s shoulders, while the father and son stared at Neil.

“While you might say you were doing your job, we’d call it murder,” the man stated.

Keri chimed in. “Now that we’re through, which one was the actual human? You know, just for the record, and all!”

The father wiped his eyes and thought. “Who went in which tube?” he thought again.

“Could you please make it snappy?” Neil said glancing at the few seconds remaining.

“In all honestly,” the man said through his tears, “I don’t know.”

A buzzer sounded and two large barrel shaped robots entered the area. They reactivated the tubes and brought the two Rachaels back. Each one escorted them from their would be demise back to the family, then turned to Neil and Keri, each grabbing one and placing them into the tubes and shooting them out before summoning the elevator for the family.

“Wow,” the dad said, kissing his Rachael, and hugging his other Rachael. “I guess those new androids really are human-like!

//

This story, with apologies to Philip K. Dick, was written for LJ Idol using the prompt: Patchwork heart
penpusher: (LJ Broken)
I can remember, way back to the day when I was setting up my Dreamwidth Journal account. It was during the madness that was the SixApart era, when we all believed that company was going to destroy LiveJournal with advertising and its overt capitalist practices.

Little did we know.

But that threat passed and things seemed to be a bit better when 6A sold LJ to SUP. Sure they were a Russian company, but the two halves of LJ were operated separately and nobody said much of anything to us. In fact, I started to see some Russian posts by users and it seemed like a way of seeing into a different world!

My DW account sat dormant with a single entry for about 5 years until the scramble over the LJ servers being migrated to Russia occurred at the end of 2016. Currently, my DW is *sorta* a mirror of my LJ account. I say sorta because I transferred my account over there via the transfer tool they have at DW. I did a post about the transfer, but to sum up the pertinent points:

1. It was very easy to do.

Despite having 16 years worth of LJ material, the transfer was simple, didn't seem to interfere with my being on the internet doing other stuff while it was happening and, even now, seemed to have gotten all of my entries properly - as well as the vast amount of comments. It took about 3-4 hours for the transfer to go through completely.

2. Could it be because I have a paid DW Account and a permanent LJ account?

I did spring for a year's worth of paid service from DW which I'm sure didn't hurt the process of transferring all my material. I have heard that some people have had problems with the transfer but I don't know a lot of details. It could have to do with other factors specific to those journals.

3. All of your LJ Links are unchanged.

If you reference a link to another LJ post in an entry, the link will continue to point to that LJ link in DW. If you want to make your DW "self contained," you'll have to meticulously go through each and every entry you made with a link to any LJ entry and manually transfer those to your new DW link. Sounds like fun? Try it for 16 years worth of entries.

Of course, that makes sense, because if you're referencing a journal outside of your own, it might not exist on DW or might exist under a different name. But it's just something to remember when you're considering this transfer.

Not to mention the photo hosting, which, if you're anything like me, would require another massive series of transfers and posts, and that's just to get the photos visible! Then, you'd have to link them to your entries.

4. LJ Username links remain unchanged.

This is sort of specific, but if you have referenced someone's LJ username in a post somewhere, and that person changed their name - here on LJ the username is updated to the new name or at least it was... on DW the original username is linked and again, it points to the LJ user, not to a Dreamwidth account. This is more anecdotal than anything because this issue won't come up that frequently, but if you're reading through an old entry, it might be a surprise to see a "former" name listed for a person you mentioned.

5. When you edit your entry on DW, it is automatically updated on LJ!

That's a huge time saver: If you edited a post on DW that was linked to your LJ, it automatically also updated your LJ with the edit! I tested it again and that interface still works. You can still post directly to LJ from DW and make edits. The reason I wasn't sure is because I posted a DW entry that didn't go through to my LJ, but that was because I hadn't yet signed the Russian TOS.

Now that I covered the technical, the bones of the story, let's get to the meat: the psychological. Here's where the story gets a little spooky.

Let's be brutally honest. DW is not really a community. It's a storage container. It's an attic. It's a safety net for your words and entries and memories of the glory of LJ long since past. If something were to happen to your LJ account, Lenin forbid, at least you still have the cadaver of what you created. And really that's what it is, because nobody is interacting with your past entries. And the problem is nobody on DW is really posting stuff that's current, unless it's just a mirror of their LJ entries, which people are still reading on LJ.

Several of my friends on LJ opened accounts on DW at the same time as my transfer and for the same reason, but there hasn't been any real interaction between us there. Everyone prefers to stay on LJ because this is home.

Now, I think if LJ actually were to disappear, DW *might* become something like a community. But, for now, that process is like attempting to colonize another planet. Why would you do it if you didn't actually need to do it?

Sure, there are always going to be the daring and intrepid few who are willing to leave behind the familiar and boldly go somewhere where nobody is. But that's sort of the opposite of what a social media site is supposed to be about. You're supposed to go to where people are!

So.

I have an idea. We could make Dreamwidth work. But it would take a drastic step. Here's the plan.

We have to make a pact.

We'd have to agree to go, to leave LiveJournal and we'd have to never look back because that's really the only way we could make it work. We'd have to drink this Kool-Aid together, all of us, or it won't happen.

If we all don't go, it will collapse, because we know that people stayed behind in the old place and the temptation to return would be too great. And once a few people started going back, then everyone would. And it would be over.

Doing this will not be easy. It's going to feel a little bit like killing a parent. After all, we all grew up with El Jay. It's like a constant, always there for us, ready to accept us as we were, to listen to what we had to say, to share our stories with people who cared about them. Now, we're talking about turning our back on it completely? This is a harsh choice.

But LiveJournal isn't that blog service any more. It's LiveJekyll and it feels like it's time to Hyde. Think about it. If you won't go now, with all that has happened already, what would it take to make you leave?

Yes, it's possible that everything will remain as it has. But when they migrated the servers to Russia, we were told that the "western" side of LiveJournal would remain its own entity, and we now know that is no longer true, as we all had to sign that Russian TOS to retain our journals. Who can say what other "adjustments" are on the way?

Okay. I mixed up a batch of Dreamwidth Drank. Here it is.

http://www.dreamwidth.org/

But, and I'm completely serious about this, we ALL have to drink it, and drink it freely, because we think it's the right choice to make. This isn't an ultimatum. You can still say no and ignore it all. Remain on LiveJournal until Vladimir gets tired of allowing it to exist.

But if you want to retain a blog community on a platform like LiveJournal and be free of whatever Russian influence is about to happen, think seriously about where we're going.

Those are the alternatives as I see them. So tell me. How will this story end?

//

This entry was written for LJ Idol using the prompt Campfire stories
penpusher: (Default)
Can you still post directly from DW to LJ?

Answer: You can!
penpusher: (LJ Broken)
So, I'm really annoyed and disturbed by the LiveJournal Terms of Service, introduced, as far as I know, April 3rd, 2017.

First of all, the whole damn thing is in Russian, and though I suppose we all should start thinking about learning that language, based on the actions of our government's current Administration, why are we being required to answer to this? After all, we were told that the Russian side of LJ (aka Zhe-Zhe) was a separate entity from the Western version.

Then they made a note stating that you would get a bonus if you agree to the TOS... but if you choose to ignore it, they attempt to log you out of your account!

So, the obvious question here is what's going on?

And the obvious problem here is... there's no way to find out. We have no idea who the "western" directors of LiveJournal are or how to contact them, or what they are doing, or who they actually care about.

I did note that one of the translated elements of this all Russian TOS stated, and I quote:

"this translation of the User Agreement is not a legally binding document. The original User Agreement, which is valid, is located at the following address: http://www.livejournal.com/legal/tos-ru.bml."

In other words, you can't really agree to the translated version of this document. You can only agree to the Russian version.

WHERE ARE THE NON CYRILLIC LIVEJOURNAL DIRECTORS?!?!
penpusher: (Feet)
Sid and Nancy were having trouble. Not Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, Sidney Allen and his wife Nancy Clark. They met sixteen years ago at a college film seminar, having just seen the biopic about their more famous namesakes, and struck up a quick, hard, penetrating and mutually satisfying friendship in a bathroom stall while their friends hung out waiting to go to the diner for a post-screening snack and talk.

It wasn’t until mid-semester that everyone realized they were emulating the film, minus the heroin, and had sequestered themselves in Sid’s off campus apartment, coming out only for classes, food and fresh tampons and condoms.

Their wedding was right on campus at Bishop Chapel, honeymoon over their Senior Year Spring Break at Lake Havasu. And then nestling in to a decent suburb of Houston, where Sid could attend law school and Nancy could find worthwhile employment, nothing at all like 1977 New York.

Currently, the trouble was sex. Or no sex. At all. In college, all Nancy had to do was face away from Sid and bend at the waist and in seconds, it was happening. Now, when they did happen to be in the same room, they would be working through budgets or reading material for their jobs, her social work cases and his divorce attorney suits. Why couldn’t he see that he was on the path to irreconcilable differences himself, Nancy wondered.

One fateful evening, when Nancy was feeling especially lonely, she broke a rule and fired up Sid’s laptop. She wasn’t exactly “snooping,” and she promised herself if she found something “bad” she would pretend like she never saw it.

Sid didn’t password protect anything on his computer. There wasn’t a “porn” collection. Not even any photos of the three actresses he listed as his “free shots” if he ever met them.

But there was a file folder on the desktop labeled: “Jolie v. Pitt.” That was too tantalizing to ignore.

No, Sid wasn’t working a celebrity case, but in the plaintiff’s list of complaints, there was a link to an unidentified website. Nancy noted the address, shut down Sid’s machine and went to her own laptop to have a look.

A special club for couples and single women. Yes, with photographs and detailed descriptions. And yes, Nancy could feel her libido warming to the words and images.

She hurriedly filled out an application for Sid and her to attend the next “Gathering” as it was called, submitted the fee and the requisite photos of the two of them on a pink sand beach during their excursion to the British Virgin Islands, their last practical time off together almost three years ago.

Nancy was counting the days to the evening of The Gathering, still not even mentioning a word to Sid. She rented him a tuxedo, got a gown on consignment, purchased some new fabulous lingerie and greeted Sid at the door, without the gown, when he got home.

They immediately, eagerly and wordlessly started to make out, but before Sid could get too excited, Nancy backed away, showed him his tux, and went upstairs to dress.

Sid was very curious. A black tie event at an undisclosed location?

The twenty minute GPS directed ride deposited them near the center of a small town at what looked like an old-fashioned bank with Somerset door and columns. Their identification checked at the door against a list before entering.

Once inside, it was a decadent display. A runway where hosts and hostesses would parade, fashion show style, in various states of undress. A lounge with beds for sofas was already getting a light workout by early arrivers. Various people circulated throughout the room taking orders for food, drink or other items.

“What is this place?” Sid smiled suspiciously as they sat on a bed/sofa.

“Why hello, there!” A man in a dinner jacket and his companion, a woman dressed as a belly dancer both plopped down between them. “My name is Jackson and this is Kennedy. Kennedy sat up straight and that’s when Sid noticed he could see right through her sheer top.

Kennedy stared at Sid. “We’ve never seen you here before and we always like to treat the newbies.”

“Greet the newbies.” Jackson corrected. “Treating comes later. So, what brings you here? What are you looking to do?”

“I’m Nancy and this is Sid. I surprised him with this and I was about to explain it when you arrived.”

“Oh!” said Jackson, tracing Nancy’s leg with his eyes. “Let’s show and not tell. May I?”

Jackson got a smile from Nancy and he lifted her leg with his hand and removed her stiletto heel. He paused and sighed, then immediately removed her other shoe.

“Nancy. You have the most beautiful feet I’ve ever seen! Look at those toes Kennedy!” Jackson said, coaxing Nancy into pointing her pedicure straight out.

Sid was delivered a whisky as he watched this stranger wax poetic over his wife’s feet. Somehow though, Nancy was enjoying it. The guy was starting to massage Nancy’s soles and he was getting his face right in front of them for a very close look.

“What do you like Sid?” Kennedy smiled.

“I definitely don’t like feet, that’s for sure.” Sid sniffed as he downed the rest of his whisky in a gulp. “It’s the most disgusting part of the body.”

When Sid glanced back at Nancy, she appeared to be in some sort of ecstatic trance. Then, when he looked down at Jackson, he saw his wife’s toes in his mouth.

“What the hell?!”

“I’m sorry, but Nancy has really gorgeous…”

“Yes, you said she has gorgeous toes. How does that translate into putting them into your mouth?”

Kennedy placed her hand on Sid’s chest. “My goodness. Your heart is beating so fast.”

“What kind of freak massages and sucks the toes of a total stranger?” Sid was irate.

Nancy sat up. “Why are you screaming? We’re just having some harmless fun.”

“You call this fun?!” Sid said, loud enough for a couple of the hosts to approach their area. “Is that why you brought me here? Were you going to indulge your little foot fetish?”

Moments later they were back in their car, riding home in deafening silence. In fact, they didn’t say a word to each other until breakfast. Sid was eating a bowl of cereal alone in the kitchen when Nancy came in to grab a glass of water.

“You know, I just wanted a little excitement,” Nancy said.

“Where did you even find that place? Or was this something you have been doing without me?”

“It was in your Jolie v. Pitt file. A link to their website.”

“You took me to some sex club listed in my client’s complaint?!”

Divorce proceedings began the following Monday.

Jackson comped Nancy to Gatherings for the rest of the year.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Heel turn.
penpusher: (Obama For You)
Exactly eight years ago today, I wrote a post talking about the presidency of George W. Bush. He has just taken office two months before I started this journal in 2001. None of us could have predicted what would happen back in January of that year, through the tumultuous eight years that followed.

And now, it's time to do it again: time to look back on the job the White House resident did over the past eight.



President Obama didn't have a strong economy, like his predecessor had, entering the Oval Office. In fact, we were on the brink of both a nationwide and possibly a global depression when he took the oath of office.

So, he didn't get to just kick back and enjoy the first few months of his "honeymoon;" he had some serious business to attend to - and he did. Bailing out Wall Street, rescuing the Auto Industry and stabilizing our economy so that we would avoid a financial abyss. Certainly Republicans don't give proper credit for the decisive action President Obama took to get our situation stabilized in those early days, that set the tone for the rest of his term.

Osama bin Laden. The scourge of the west that never could be captured or killed, finally met his fate under the Obama Administration.

But there were many issues that still remain unresolved. Racism is still a very big issue in our country. Classism likewise has yet to be addressed. And, at least when it comes to our election, sexism was the story.

It's interesting to me how everyone is side-stepping what seems, at least to me, the most obvious and most likely reason Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. She is a woman and we still have an issue with women being in charge of many things in this land including our government.

Knowing all of the provable facts about The Donald vs. all of the accusations against Hillary, you have to wonder how anyone would feel comfortable voting for a guy with that kind of record. But, if you believe that a woman shouldn't be Commander in Chief, you would vote for a man with twice the flaws.

And that's just the problem... he may actually have twice the flaws. We simply don't know yet because there's so much that he is keeping hidden.

Even as President Obama made his final press conference, a very different experience from Donald Trump's attempt to have a press conference, he tried to keep everyone calm, to reassure us that we are still here, that things aren't the end of the world until they are.

But that echoes the element I suggested that a President does best. Even in my summation of George W. Bush's tenure in Washington DC, I noted his greatest moment was an inspirational action - a perfect pitch from the mound of Yankee Stadium right after the 2001 attacks.

That was the kind of moment that makes you feel pride, it makes you feel connected, it gives you a sense of strength and that maybe we're going to be okay, despite how everything looks. That is where a president can shine the brightest and encourage citizens to take charge of their lives, to get up and do something similar!

And President Obama had many times where he needed to present such moments, usually after some mass shooting in some part of the country for a varying host of reasons. He was the Scoutmaster: helping us along but reminding us that WE, as citizens, needed to actually do the work to make it work, but that we could make it through.

What sort of message will our new leader send?

This is the last and final time I get to use this icon attached to this post. I made this icon specifically because as the President himself had said: I'm everybody's president. He truly thought about all Americans and their situations and circumstances and how to make improvements for people who needed help. He may not have gotten everything he had hoped to accomplish done, but he gave it his best efforts.

But before we conclude, I welcome and invite you to say what you think of President Obama here... good or bad. Talk about his policies, his efforts, his style, his singing voice, whatever!

Please leave a thought about him as we say goodbye, and thanks for doing so!
penpusher: (Ringling Logo)
The things that entertain us, as a collective audience, have changed drastically over time. I personally never attended a Minstrel Show, but I understand they were beloved by many in their day. Radio was a very popular element of people's lives, and I guess there are still some that listen to certain forms of radio broadcasts, but it's definitely not the crucial source it once was...

And even television has flattened and thinned and has been redefined to go to areas beyond the device itself, with websites producing programming, and our collective ability to watch programs on our computers and phones is more than proof of that.

But with all of these changes over time, there was one constant: The Circus. And by "The Circus," I mean THE Circus: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

A Legendary "Combined" show The Ringling Brothers originally had their own circus, P.T. Barnum, the ultimate impresario, had exhibits which he would display and tour and James A. Bailey teamed up with him. Together these three entities would help carry this particular form of entertainment that has been a staple in the American fabric for nearly a century and a half.

Before television, before filmed newsreels even, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus brought audiences into a world they never would have seen, otherwise. Animals from other continents right in front of your nose to watch perform... unique acts that would amaze, from aerialists that did multi somersaults, mid-air, to the big cat tamers that risked their lives in a cage with twenty tigers.

And then, there are the clowns, the heart of the show, there to bring a smile, a tear, and maybe even a thought about humanity as we go.

The term "Sensory Overload" could have been coined for this three ring monstrosity, that demanded you look everywhere at once to see everything going on! It was organized chaos and confounded and delighted millions throughout time.

So, we have heard the news:

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is closing in May.

Perhaps the writing was on the wall as of a couple of years ago, when New York's boutique show, The Big Apple Circus, shut down. A beloved part of the scene for decades with its single ring and intimate setting, even it couldn't withstand a difficult economy and an era where most people simply didn't care as much about the tradition of this kind of entertainment.

When I was a kid, the Ringling show would come to town and camped out at Madison Square Garden for an unbelievable thirteen weeks... practically every school in the tri-state area took a trip to see the show during the spring, getting the requisite box of popcorn, the cotton candy, and the tiny flashlight on a string that you would swing over your head during a show "blackout" as the Ringmaster would announce the next performers.

The Circus is a throwback to the past, an historic relic of the way things were. Most people had no way of seeing animals like zebras or elephants up close until the circus came through town back in the 1940s and 50s

And that is, of course, part of the problem. As people understood the elements of what it meant for animals to live and perform on a traveling show, there was a constant outcry over the conditions for them. No matter your feelings on this issue, the protests that occurred had an impact on the way the show functioned and how it progressed.

And even with improvements that helped to support the care and raising of these wonderful creatures, eventually the call for change meant not just an adjustment in what was appropriate, but a complete overhaul and eventual dismantling of that element of the circus.

Certainly with alternate, but similar forms of entertainment, with zoos and aquariums becoming more common across the country, and with theme parks starting to be available in every state, suddenly the interest in a show like this wasn't quite the same, either... and even the Feld family, who have been the producers of this show for decades, had also been creating other, similar entertainment, like ice shows, that perhaps had, in their way, cut into the profit of the tentpole itself.

Maybe you were a person who attended a Ringling performance every year, going when you were a kid, maybe taking your kids to see it when you had a family. Or maybe you didn't attend, but liked the concept of what a circus meant. There's a sort of mystical, magical element to a show, people working together, traveling the countryside, performing, bringing a smile, a laugh, a thrill, some positive elements to the lives of others before they move on to the next town - the addition of some excitement and color to an otherwise average existence. That's why the concept of "running away with the circus" held so much romance and charm... you could leave your life as it was and become a part of something that made life brighter, brassier, better.

The collective history of what was known as "The Greatest Show on Earth" had its share of tragedy. Jumbo the Elephant, The Hartford Circus Fire and more recently, some of our community were remembering the deadly Ringling Train Derailment of 1994 which was January 13th of that year, twenty-three years ago now.

There was also some positive inspirational elements too, as the film "The Greatest Show on Earth" won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1952. There was the Broadway show Barnum which won a Tony Award for Jim Dale. And now, almost as a final coda, we have a new film, titled "The Greatest Showman" with Hugh Jackman in the role of Phineas Taylor Barnum, due for a Christmas 2017 release.

Personally, Ringling changed my life forever. I might have remained in a stale retail sales job. Being a manager for a department store seemed to be my life's direction until I got the call to go to Clown College. Because of that, I got some wonderful skills which I still use frequently. I got some fascinating jobs over time which took me to some pretty interesting places. And most importantly of all, I got a wonderful collection of friends and I became a part of a family of sorts. There are less than two thousand people who completed Ringling's Clown College course over the nearly thirty year history of that institution, making this a very exclusive group. I'm both pleased and honored to be among those ranks.

Recently, clowns have gotten a worse than usual name because of the actions of a few. But despite bad publicity, various protests and other elements, circuses haven't gone away completely. There are still some out there touring, and even some in residence in particular locations, so we can't quite say the art form is dead, but this is a very big and very notable milestone that is imminent. This is the loss of a part of our collective family tree.

At the end of every performance, the ringmaster of the Ringling show would make a seven word statement to the crowd as they gathered their belongings, their family members, their souvenirs and their memories of what they just witnessed. It was a way of holding the concept of what the show was about to the hearts of those who attended. I can't think of any other way to conclude but by offering them again, now.

"May All Your Days Be Circus Days."
penpusher: (Dean Wild Hare)
Hey!

This is my first ever cross post from my account at Dreamwidth, my alternate home on the internet. When I first got this Dreamwidth account, I did do a "First Post" on March 24, 2006, in what was my 5th Anniversary of my LJ. Unfortunately, that post was devoured when I transferred the entirety of my LiveJounal to Dreamwidth so that record is gone, but my journal is preserved, which I guess is the important thing.

It doesn't feel like almost 16 years of blogging. Or maybe it does. Or it really hasn't been because I took off months at a time when I wasn't writing here at all. But I do need a place to write, and there really isn't another like LJ er, DW.

I would make the following notes about the transfer.

1. It was extremely easy.

Despite going back through 2001 (and the handful of entries dated prior to that), it was just a couple of clicks to get the transfer set up and running.

2. It was successful.

Though I have heard that some people have dropped entries, my journal was transferred successfully without any issue - a feat that could be because I have a permanent account on LJ and now a paid account on DW. Though I also transferred a couple of free LJ accounts over (with a lot fewer entries, of course) and that seemed to have been fine.

3. All your LJ links remain LJ Links.

If you reference a LiveJournal post in one of your archived entries being transferred to DW, that reference will still point to the LJ link. That means, if you actually want to turn your DW journal into one that is self contained, you would have to go through and change those links manually to connect to the DW post you were referencing.

I expect that the same would be true going from DW to LJ. So that would be inconvenient, for certain... especially for me because I have linked pertinent entries to each other frequently and it would take a lot of patience to comb through all of the archive to adjust them all!

4. LJ user links remain unchanged.

If you have written the name of an LJ user in an entry, and that person had since changed their username, the original name still shows up in the DW post. I think that if you clicked the name, the link goes to a "non existent" user page. Again, this would have to be corrected on a post by post basis, manually.

5. When you edit your entry on DW, it automatically gets updated to your LJ!

I discovered this just now, but I had a typo on my DW entry and I noticed it when I was reading through the LJ version. I corrected it there, then found another on Dreamwidth. When I corrected THAT one, and came back to the LJ version, it was already fixed! Handy Dandy!

Meanwhile, are you on Dreamwidth? if you are, please add me to your journal there... I know a couple of folks like [personal profile] binaryorchid, [personal profile] jazzy_dave and [personal profile] ragdoll have done so already!

And yeah! On DW, to link someone's journal name in an entry, the term is

[user name=username] with the "[ ]" standing in for the "< >," just to get you up to speed on the HTML.

And if you have any other questions about transferring your journal to DW, let me know.
penpusher: (CBS)
I have been a game show contestant on two programs, both of them very different experiences. And I have applied to be a contestant on five others (six if you want to count “Jeopardy!”), which were all very unique and memorable events.

But because of the timing and because of the history of the program, I had to attend a taping of “The Price Is Right” while I was in Los Angeles this past fall. Yesterday, they ran the episode I appeared on, and, spoiler alert: I wasn’t asked by George Gray to “Come On Down!” But I think the experience is worth noting, for the sheer elements of the mechanics.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 )
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Jailee was still assessing the whole Berg affair and taking inventory about her feelings. She was somewhat responsible for the death of another person. Well, yes and no. If he hadn't taken the bait, hadn't tried to break out of the cell he was in, he would still be alive. But wouldn't anyone have tried to escape, Jailee found herself asking her reflection as she got ready to go out at sunset? It's a choice that really was no choice at all.

Jailee couldn't help but feel guilty about it. Yes, Wilfred did contact him when he was asking a lot of probing questions around the markets, and brought him to Oorsfeld specifically to keep an eye on what he intended to do. When it was discovered he was some agent from The State, the options were few. See if he would have been understanding about who Jailee was and what the community here was. And every benefit was extended, every opportunity given for him to renounce his assignment and understand what was happening was something more. Even though he still chose the work of The State over what he could see, even though at times his actions and reactions ran counterpoint to themselves, he left little choice. He needed to go.

So creating a ruse, making him believe he was working with a spy that had infiltrated the group and getting him to list his reports to Wilfred as if he were a superior was just protection, a way of understanding what he intended to share when he got the opportunity to report his findings.

But now, now that Berg was dead, that can only mean that if more agents weren't on the way, there would still be some kind of pressure to find her and attempt to question her about what happened to Berg and possibly threaten her friends at Oorsfeld.

Jailee knew exactly what that meant.

So, tonight was going to be as special and as splashy as she could make it. It was going to be her first Poetry Tsunami!

Something that was popular in history was what was known as a "Poetry Slam," where people would recite how they saw the world through the use of beat and rhyme. Jailee thought to revive this by making it a Poetry Tsunami, something that would have more meaning and maybe even more power. It would be a new wave of creativity, a subversive voice calling out against the establishment.

Jailee wondered if giving her friends a week to write their entries and perform them would be enough. It seemed odd that she even was worried about the fairness of this considering the other circumstances. Still, she was trying to retain a sense of normalcy in a world that seemed more and more threatening. But she couldn't wait longer than this.

Inventory. Jailee went through her room and scoped out anything that could be associated with her or finding keepsakes she wanted to retain. It was time to pack what she wanted to keep and recycle all of the rest.

In a moment of impatience or just understanding the need to travel light, she took everything that wasn't a fixture, instant recycled it all and made her way to work, with only her single case of clothing and a small bag of accessories.

Jailee was eager to set up the stage for the Tsunami. There would be ten readers, a really good number, and there would be prizes for everyone. This wasn't really a competition, it was just a way of sharing thoughts about the world, the community, each other. Jailee had high hopes for a good night.

Focusing lights so that the reader would be illuminated without blinding so they could read their poems took a bit longer, and people began to arrive before Jailee was done. She immediately stopped what she was doing to greet guests one by one. At twenty-one hundred, it was time to begin.

Jailee played the host and introduced each reader in turn.

The shortest piece was a couplet presented by Wilfred himself:

"For this, I must tell the truth,
I'm simply too long in the tooth."

And based on the reaction and the feeling she suddenly had, Jailee got on stage, looked out at the gathered group and stated:

Hi. I'm Jailee.

Ring the bell
Break the spell
all is well
can't you tell

In a place
with a space
you can't face
anyplace

I can't be
you can't see
trouble free
is not for me

There's a stranger
there is danger
But no ranger
to be a changer.

We all must know
how this must go
the common foe
just has to go.

So don't be mad
And don't be sad
this isn't bad
It's all I had

So have some fun
Before it's done
Remember one
Is more than none.

Jailee's bright eyes lit up in the beam, as the crowd reacted with applause, slaps or grunts. She dashed off and programmed a message into the bar system, designed to play at exactly zero hour.

The Poetry Tsunami was, as Jailee hoped, a great success. The fun of writing rhymes to make statements was an immediate hit and people started trying to have conversations with rhymes. Jailee took a look around the room at how the interactions were going and how much fun everyone was having. She told Wilfred that she was going to the back room for a bit, but that wasn't the direction she was headed.

At the zero hour, the recorded message Jailee made automatically played for the patrons.

Each screen lit up with Jailee's face.

Hi, It's Jailee again. I have one more poem to share.

The crowd got silent, anticipating more inspiration for their budding rhyming efforts.

Some of you know I have the ability to dream.
Some of you know just what that can mean.

Last night I had a dream that I can't save
I dreamt a possum swam over my grave.

When I have a dream that I can't understand
It means I need to get out of this land.

The State has tried to rid itself of trouble
And so it's time for me to leave this bubble.

You have all been so good and sweet and kind
That's why I must now leave you all behind.

I wish there was some other. better way...
I hope to come back here, again, someday.

Each screen faded to black.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Possum ran over my grave.

Jailee's previous LJ Idol Appearances

Season 9

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

Season X:

Week [1]
Week [2]
Week [3]
Week [Holiday Break] Part 1
Week [Holiday Break] Part 2 and
Week [Holiday Break] Part 3
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Peter stared at the padded ceiling of his padded room.

At least the floor was comfortable. But, of course, when he could have used a blackout and a time jump ahead, to get to a new situation, there were none to be had. He was sitting in this room for, he guessed at least twenty-four hours and counting. Even his brief naps refused to send him into a new place and time.

Berg thought about his current circumstances. He figured that the answer he provided must have been right, or close enough to right that it concerned his captors. Telling the Blue Girl and the Walrus he was under the Great Marston Sea was simply a guess to his location. He had no idea where he was. But he knew that the fall he took was a long one to get to this cell, and it was nearly a lock that he had to be underwater in a circumstance like that.

Where, specifically, under the Marston was the question, and that was something he did not know. He also was out of communication with Sector. That meant it was assured that they didn't know where he was, either, for at least the time period that preceded his most recent memory lapse episode.

What were these blackouts? What caused them? Why was he having them and were others also experiencing time shifts where they don't remember swaths of their lives at a go? What was most disturbing to Berg was that he was, to the outside world, living a life, probably conversing with people, doing things, going places, and he remembered none of it. Even the people at Sector, who were trained to notice anomalies, had no clue that he was experiencing this.

Peter sat up straight and looked as nonchalant as possible as he watched Jailee approach the door of his cell. As long as they believe there are others that know what I know, I should be safe, he thought to himself.

The surprise was that instead of the expected inquisition, asking him about what he knew, who he was working for and what his intentions were all about, Jailee opened a small frame under the door and slid a covered tray through it. The door closed and she walked away, wordlessly.

Peter stood up and watched her leave, walking through a rounded hallway, disappearing beyond the curve of the path.

Then, he realized he was smelling something very familiar. He lifted the steel curtain off of the tray.

Sure enough it was a rare delicacy, that Peter loved: Brothless Burgers! Many foods, especially meat based foods, had some form of gravy, water or sauce. But these did not. They were solid meat on freshly baked bread. Each little burger was a bite sized treasure, and there were so many of them! For a few moments, Berg forgot where he was and just indulged in the wonderful treat.

Later, after his belly was full, he turned back to his mind, to try to make more sense of the circumstances and to review what he had learned, or what he remembered, about Jailee.

He thought that Jailee was a kind of kindred spirit, a different version of himself, Peter remembered. So, perhaps if he put himself in her place, he would know what she was planning.

Peter made sure not to speak aloud. He figured the very first thing they would do was have nanocams positioned around to see, hear and record any word or sound he made.

Now. She knew that he was an adversary. How would he handle that? Well, she did set a trap, the fake "emergency exit" and captured him. But he would be working her over, trying to find out every piece of information available. So far, since the first discussion, there hasn't been a word. Why is that?

Do they already know what they need to know? Are they going to try to score a ransom?

Peter didn't know much about Jailee's monetary circumstances, or whether she was trying to become wealthier to buy her way out of investigations or private situations. Was she just working in that place or was she the owner of it? If she were the owner, how did The State not have some record? Then again, where was this location under the sea?

What about those talking aquatic animals? How did they exist? Did The State know about them? Probably not because they likely would have been destroyed or at least herded for research.

Peter sat in silence playing out the various scenarios in his mind, until a robotic arm came and took the serving tray back through the slot in the door, paused and provided a new tray.

Berg once again lifted the lid, this time to find Bradshaw Stew, a mix of tender cube-cut meats and rice in deep brown gravy with still warm biscuits on the side. The serving looked like it was meant for at least four people but there was no one to share it with, Peter thought as he breathed deep the aroma of the dish before savoring the flavor.

As he was dining, a stray thought came to Peter. What if...

He blinked and suddenly, he was large. he could barely fit into his pants. his shirt was ripped in the front. There were stains of various sorts on all of his clothing. Another time jump. He had been doing nothing but eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom in the sani-corner which auto-rinsed itself clean, for how long, he didn't know. There was no way to measure it. He had no memory of the enjoyment of the meals he ate, aside from the two first ones. But he saw the results. He had put on maybe a hundred kilos?

Berg was disappointed in himself. He never did things like this. Or he never remembered doing things like this. And with no way of exercising, he would not be able to lose this weight easily or with any speed.

Jailee appeared at the window again. The robotic arm retrieved the used food tray and replaced it with a new one as she walked away.

Peter considered not eating it but it smelled so appetizing. It was a pizza covered in bacon and extra cheese.

An hour later, after the pizza was consumed, Berg looked and noticed the tray had slightly propped open the door that the robotic arm used to remove used trays.

The arm itself was slightly extended into the room and its pincers were solid and tight. He managed to use a thumbnail to unscrew them from the arm and work them towards the hinges of the door itself. Working patiently and diligently, Berg made progress, getting first one hinge, then the second hinge detached from the door frame.

Peter had no idea how much time he had, if Jailee would return soon, or if any alarms would be triggered, so he realized he had only one chance. He was able to open the door wide enough for his old self to fit through. That wasn’t good enough. He heaved and pulled and threw the full weight he could behind it and was able to get the opening wide enough for him to squeeze through.

At long last, Peter stood in the hallway where he saw Jailee eyeballing him all this while! Rather than going to the right, as Jailee always did, he would go left.

Peter took no more than five steps before he fell into a hole in the floor and again started sliding downward. He built up some momentum and then splash! He hit water. His muscles atrophied from no exercise and the extra weight he was now carrying caused him to flail around.

The last thing Peter Berg saw was the mouth of a Great White Shark.



//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Kummerspeck.

Jailee's previous LJ Idol Appearances

Season 9

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

Season X:

Week [1]
Week [2]
Week [3]
Week [Holiday Break] Part 1 and
Week [Holiday Break] Part 2
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Even though Peter detested being the center of attention in his workplace, he implicitly knew that he was always the most capable, the most aware, the most intelligent person in the room. It wasn't like he had any control over that. Those were just the facts. But, in a very big way it gave that nickname he hated: Peter "'Ice' Berg" a second and more important meaning. He was always cool in the clutch. He never overreacted.

Except this time. falling off of his chair in a strange barroom setting and meeting the woman he was trying to find wasn't typical of him. But it couldn't be helped. Another episode. Another time jump forward with no warning. Another location change with no understanding of what preceded it. It appeared that Peter lost roughly one hundred and five hours in this one.

Bending his right elbow to bring a second shot to his lips was painful. That's how he landed on the floor. He downed the shot and looked back at one seven six zero two three four. He was in a room filled with sentient sea creatures. This was going to take all of the sang-froid in his arsenal to make this work.

"So tell me, Jailee," Peter began, "How did you wind up here?"

"I might ask you the same question, except I know that you're chums with Wilfred," Jailee said glancing at the walrus on the far side of the room.

"I'd say we were acquainted," Peter squinted.

"Are you feeling alright?" Jailee seemed concerned.

"I'm fine. My question is how are you?"

"I'm not the one who fell." Jailee stated.

"But you're blue..." Peter tried.

Jailee's smile instantly vanished and she walked away, disgusted.

Berg sat there, stewing. What did he say? Surely she knew she was blue already.

Peter had to wonder what he said during the period he didn't remember, the time frame when he befriended a walrus and traveled to this location, wherever it was. He looked for his GPS but it was missing.

One seven six zero two three four busied herself with other customers and other work, not giving Peter a second glance.

Berg was a detective, certainly, but he usually had more clues to work with than this. He sat, thinking, trying to imagine what took place during those gaps.

He must have traveled to that bakery and fish market where he noted Jailee had been. He had to have asked questions. Was this walrus, Wilfred there? Wilfred the Walrus. Surely that was an alias. As he glanced back at his ivory tusked chum, he was in a bit of a struggle with two other creatures that seemed to be looking to move him towards the door.

"The next round is on me!" Peter shouted, and a small cheer came from the room as patrons moved towards the bar.

Jailee immediately started grabbing bottles and pouring drinks. The distraction apparently worked, at least for the moment, as the walrus was abandoned by his assaulters for a free glass. Berg tried to count heads to get a rough idea about what this was going to cost The State, but math was difficult for him.

He looked back and Jailee was gone. A different server was pouring. He spun around, searching the room to find out where she went. He jostled his way past the place where she was and looked for a way out from there. Nothing.

There must be an emergency exit, Peter thought.

That's exactly what the button was labeled when he got to the other side of the bar. he squeezed in past the server, saw a red "X" on the floor that color matched the button, stood right on the "X" and hit the button.

Immediately the floor opened up and he went falling down into the darkness. Though Peter couldn't see it, the walls began to narrow, and as they did, they began to bend the chamber to a horizontal position, slowing the fall and sliding him to a stop in a small, padded room.

when he stood up, the panel that Peter slid through immediately closed. Peter walked to the door. It was locked. Through the reinforced glass window, he could see Jailee.

"Hello, Ice Berg." she said.

"Let us entertain you," said Wilfred who also nodded from the other side of the window.

"Maybe it's time for us to share a little information," Berg said, confidently.

"Maybe it's time for us to shed a little blood." Wilfred grinned.

"Killing me won't do you any good. My operatives know everything I know."

"Good," said Jailee. "Tell me this. Where are you?"

Peter's brain raced as he tried to come up with some kind of answer. They would know he was bluffing if he wasn't able to answer.

Berg stared at his captors and calmly stated "Under the Great Marston Sea."

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Sang-froid.

Jailee's previous LJ Idol Appearances

Season 9

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

Season X:

Week [1]
Week [2]
Week [3] and
Week [Holiday Break] Part 1
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
Peter Berg had a headache. Even in ideal conditions, riding in a submarine was an extremely claustrophobic experience, featured stifling, unventilated air and a pressurized atmosphere that made it difficult to concentrate at best, and impossible to do anything but recline and attempt to breathe as gently as possible to stave off nausea in this particular case.

Whatever required a sub ride, this was important, and if no one was available to accomplish this task in the whole hemisphere he was moving towards, then clearly, he was the man to come over and do it.

Some of his colleagues nicknamed Peter “’Ice’ Berg,” a moniker Berg immediately squelched when used in his presence. Nothing made him angrier than being made into the focus of his work, when, really, the point was to not notice who he was at all. Which also explained why the nickname was so appropriate. “’Ice’ Berg” would quietly sit in the center of it all, allowing you to see just a bit of his process, while underneath he was this massive working machine that could take you out with a single swipe.

But, Peter couldn’t think on a journey where his cranium felt like it could crack wide open from the inside. If he could sit up and approach the bridge, perhaps he could get the Captain to surface the sub so he could get out of the airlock and breathe naturally for a bit. But that would slow the excursion down at least a couple of hours, possibly more, if craft traffic in the area was heavy. Best to just try and focus on breathing and the fact that this would be over soon.

Berg jolted awake in his chair, looking at the screen in front of him.

“Did you get all that?” said the undersecretary for Sector West Continent.

Berg scowled at her. “Of course, I did!” and waved her away.

He checked the screen for the date and time and silently shuddered. Then, he looked again. Another episode. This time, Peter apparently lost thirty-two hours of his life. The recurring questions: What happened during that time? How did he get here? Why did people think he was sentient when he was unconscious or sleeping this whole while? What had he said or done? He thought back, straining his brain and the very last thing he could remember before speaking to that undersecretary was closing his eyes in his quarters on the sub.

The screen said Case #1760234. At least the head wasn’t throbbing any more, Peter thought as he scanned the screen and took the useful information into his dossier.

The subject was a woman named Jailee. She had several questionable situations with The State in her previous history, and at least one of her associates had also had a negative court listing.

Why would they need me for something like this? Peter was about to ask himself when he saw a photo. This woman was blue. Surely, a blue woman wouldn’t be difficult to track down.

As Berg read on, he understood. She tended to only go out at night and she also tended to stay close enough to water to vanish, blend in or speed off silently.

The State had placed her under surveillance before, a case that was dismissed over fifty-thousand hours previous. No movement since then.

Staring at her photo, pulling the image in close on her facial features, Berg recognized a look in her eye. He felt as if somehow, he already knew this woman.

Berg depressed the COM button.

“Get me the names of every person on record to have been in contact with one seven six zero two three four in the past one, no, make it two hundred hours."

“Everyone follows a pattern. Everyone has habits,” Berg nodded at the screen as he explained the strategy.

“You don’t,” came the unexpected reply from not turning the COM back off.

“I do,” Berg snapped back. “You just aren’t looking deeply enough.”

CLICK!

This was the exterior plot, the way that Berg got Sector to allow him free reign to do what he wanted to make the arrest. On the interior, he was trying to examine something he considered much more important. This was focused on understanding what the subject wanted and what methods she might use to get it.

Berg surmised that if he could figure out what she wanted to achieve, what her motivation was, it could lead to something bigger and more important than just her arrest.

Working quickly, the agent looked through the listing of contacted people. It was, unsurprisingly, short. A baker at 400 hours and a fishmonger during that same half hour. She went back to the baker in the ensuing half hour and those were her only contacts in two hundred hours? Only KNOWN contacts, Peter reminded himself.

Berg spun her picture around, three hundred and sixty degrees. If not for the fact that she was blue, she might have been a State Promoter, a person seen on vid screens and posters helping encourage good behavior, sharing, making things great for your fellow citizens.

Berg pinched his nostrils shut as he murmured to himself, who are you, blue girl?

“I’m Jailee.”

“Wha-wha-what?”

Peter slipped off his chair and hit the floor hard.

“You haven’t even had any yet and you’re falling over.” Jailee smiled, reaching for a glass and bottle. She poured a shot and placed it in front of him before moving down the bar to another customer.

Berg looked down the bar at this woman. His quarry. How did he get here? Where was here? At least before, he knew he was in a Sector office. This was what? A darkened bar with people in a lot of fur coats.

Suddenly a tap on the shoulder. Peter turned and a walrus gave him a slow nod and a wink before waddling away.

Peter couldn’t down the drink fast enough.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Jantelagen.

Jailee's previous LJ Idol Appearances

Season 9

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

Season X:

Week [1]
Week [2] and
Week [3]
penpusher: (SciFi  honoring <lj user=melodymuse>)
When Conroy and I surfaced, we were in some sort of enormous cove. I had never seen anything like it and yet it felt so very familiar. There were sparkling rocks all over the walls and smooth surfaces for us to walk across, almost like it was constructed, but it couldn’t have been.

“Where are we,” I asked.

“Oh, this little place,” Conroy shrugged. “It’s Oorsfeld. It’s a kind of an underwater sanctuary.”

“Won’t The State come dismantle it or at least use it for some specified purpose?” I asked.

“Jailee, if The State could have dismantled this, it would have happened long before I found it.”

We walked a little further around the area and I looked at the towering cliffs that reached up.

“Surely, The State can get to this area send some nanocams or other robotic devices to observe or destroy it.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you,” Conroy stated as we walked through a spacious hallway. “The State is only interested in what you humans are doing. There’s no interest in an area where only we go.”

“We?” I asked, with surprise, “what other creatures are aro - aaaaaaaah!”

Before I even realized it, I fell into a hole in the floor and began quickly sliding down a steep tunnel! Water was starting to fill the further down I slid! I took a last gasp and held it as long as I could but the tunnel was deep and the water rushed into my eyes and nose. I pinched my nostrils and tried to stay relaxed so I wouldn’t use any extra energy. I tried to think of something happy. It wasn’t working.

Just as I thought I was going to die, I flipped, then landed, belly first. It was like the shallows so I jumped up gasping and got sloshed again when Conroy made a splash all over me when he came down.

“Aah! What did you just do to me?!”

“Oh, sorry,” Conroy shrugged. “I meant to tell you to watch your step.”

“You know, humans can’t breathe underwater!”

“I can’t either! This was fun!”

“Yeah? Well, you were prepared for what just happened.” I yelled.

Conroy chuckled as he shook off the excess water, spraying me again, as I quickly turned my back and looked around. We were standing in a room, nearly as expansive as the pavilion area at Belleview and Kipling but much less arranged and not at all maintained. Starting to regain my equilibrium, I noted there was something lovely about the lack of order.

“I always imagined that the world looked like this” I said, staring at the light shimmering through water, the growth of vines along the walls of the area, the warmness of the wet sand on my feet and even some plots of green that weren’t seaweed. Stepping on the soft green patches made me feel something. I felt like I was home.

Conroy jaunted off toward some long, flat surfaced hut and disappeared inside. Of course, I had to follow him.

The passage led to another tunnel, no water this time, that took us to an interior area where a small group of creatures were gathered. Three of them quickly disappeared into another area as we approached. Then, there was a couple who seemed to be engaged in throwing things towards each other on a table. I can’t even! One of them resembled a large round rat with a flattened and expanded tail. The other was also like a rat only thinner and without any tail.

“Constantinople!” shouted the thinner rat. “We wondered where you dashed away to this morning.”

“Who is that?” said the other rat.

I tried to act like talking animals was normal.

“My name is Jailee,” I told them.

“You look almost human. Are you a human?” the thinner one asked.

“He can’t be human. Humans can’t get here. Tell me, how would he have gotten here?” the other one responded, as though I wasn't standing right beside him.

“First of all, I’m a she, and second, I am a human.”

“Constantinople spending time with women,” the larger rat laughed, “I guess anything is possible.”

“Leave Jailee alone!” Conroy called back at them. “She’s a friend of mine, and I brought her,” and he walked behind the counter by the far wall.

“What are you drinking?” he yelled at me.

“I just had a faceful of seawater. I think that’s enough!”

“Jailee, have you never had alcohol?” Conroy brought his front flippers up and rested his head between them.

I knew what alcohol was. And I knew what it was supposed to do. I also knew that The State strictly regulated any substances that changed your perception or could impair your ability to work.

“You must try this,” Conroy said before grabbing the neck of the bottle in his mouth and tipping it towards a glass. He slid it over to me.

“This water looks brown.”

“Oh, it’s not water,” he said. “You have to drink it down as fast as you can, like this.” He mouthed the rim of his glass, balanced the bottom on the edge of his flipper and turned it up.

The first thing I noticed was the smell. It reminded me of when the light watercraft department had a fire and a lot of rubber rafts got burned. But the bigger shock was swallowing it. That’s when it felt like a fire at the back of my throat, running down to my stomach. I thought I was going to regurgitate it but then it would have hurt coming back up.

“Are you sure YOU aren’t trying to poison me?” I sputtered through a gasp for air.

“If I wanted you dead, I would have just left you with your friends. And what did you do to deserve death?”

“I don’t know if you noticed but I don’t look like a lot of people.” I replied, stroking the blue skin on my arm.

“Yes. I understand all too well,” Conroy said, finishing a second glass. “That’s why it’s great to have a place to escape from all of that.”

There was silence for a moment. Even those rats were quiet just then.

“Anyone or anything that is different, is...” I started to say, then just grabbed the bottle and poured a full glass, and drank it right down practically in one gulp. Then I looked upward and stared hard at Conroy.

“I think I just decided something.”

Conroy just looked at me, mouth open as though *he* was the one watching a talking animal for the first time.

“It’s time to challenge the system. It’s time to take on the world.”

“You know, Jailee...”

“This is it. I am not a second-class citizen. And neither are you! And neither are your rat friends!”

The two rats stopped what they were doing and glanced at me.

“She’s had a couple,” said Conroy.

“It’s time to take on authority. But first, I’m taking on the rest of this bottle.”

Conroy slapped my hand with a flipper and waddled away with the drink.

It didn’t matter. I suddenly knew what I had to do, and I was ready to start.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: Brushback Pitch.

Also, note: This is Jailee's eighth LJ Idol appearance. Her previous appearances include five during Season 9:

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23]
Week [26]

and two others during Season X:

Week [1] and
Week [2]
penpusher: (Pen)
Today was the weirdest day of my life. I wanted to say it was the worst but the main point is something seriously devastating happened.

It was supposed to be a day at Summit Trade with Hangnori. We were going there to apply for a special opportunity to get a whole new school wardrobe, everything and some extras, so we went to Belleview and Kipling to meet with the sponsors of the float to try to be the lucky recipients. We had planned this at least two thousand hours before and even arranged a performance for the judges. This was going to be solid and festive and Atlantis.

There were many other girls and even some boys in line when we arrived, and we were there at six hundred hours. We both thought that would be early enough to insure we would get in since that’s like two hours before standard class start. We saw that school of people and thought there was no way we would make it. So we got into line and decided to try anyway. But this is the strange part. A creature came in right after we did. He was the same height as me, but on all fours.

I tried to ignore him, even with the grumbly sound of the breathing and the snorts near my ankles. It was difficult until Killeen joined us a few minutes later. She didn’t realize she was supposed to bring a friend along to apply. Hangnori said we should let her be in our group. And I thought it would disqualify us. All the other groups were two. And our choreography was for two, not three!

I went to the bathroom while Hangnori and Killeen talked about it some more. Then when I returned, they took a break.

That’s when the weirdness happened. The creature behind got really close to my foot and licked my heel. I nearly jumped into space. I turned around and as I was about to crash down on him, he said:

“You know, your friend doesn’t like you.”

“You can talk?” I asked him.

“Yes. And I can listen. And I overheard your friend, the one with the dorsal fin hairstyle, say she hated you to the other one that just showed up.”

“That’s how we joke with each other, so you just didn’t understand and you shouldn’t be listening in on other people.”

“Oh yeah? Tell that to The State," He said, the last two words almost as a whisper. He looked past my leg towards the rest areas. "Well, she said she was going to poison you. She said they would go to a sushi restaurant after this, order you tuna and she would cover it in Mercury.”

“There’s just no way. You’re making this up.”

“Starfish, Do I look like someone who makes up stuff to discuss with random human women?”

“Who are you?” I asked.

“My name is Constantinople Roy” He bowed his head and saluted with a flipper.

“Why did you come here?”

“Up up...” he said.

Hangnori and Killeen returned to the line.

“Look at that thing behind you,” Hangnori said. “What is it doing here? Must have gotten lost on the way to some show aquarium!” she laughed.

“You know he can underst...” boom. A butt to my butt by the butt of his tail interrupted my sentence.

“Wow,” said Killeen. “That was either a nasty reflex or he was trying to stop you from talking.”

The three of us eyed at the creature for a moment and he honked and swung around.

“Maybe we should figure out what to do with the rest of the day,” Hangnori smiled. “Where should we go for lunch, Killeen?”

Killeen stared blankly for a moment, then looked away.

“What was that place you mentioned to me earlier?” Hangnori asked, “Namiko’s?”

Killeen nodded wordlessly.

“That’s a... that’s a sushi restaurant, isn’t it?”

“The Thunnini is to die for!”

“I have to go to the rest room.”

“You just got back before us!” Nangnori said. "You know you're only allowed three restroom breaks per cycle."

“I’m just not feeling quite right.” I said.

I walked as slowly as I could back to the rest area, trying to think what I could do and where I could go. I entered into the privacy hatch. I had no idea what to do, where to go or who to trust. Then the thought drifted in: "Why would someone like Hangnori make friends with a blue girl like me?"

I looked at my reflection in the mirror. Was that all I was, just a means to an end, a chance for a more popular girl in school to get her much deserved wardrobe and I guess mine too?

As I exited the door, there was Hangnori.

“I’ve got a little something for you,” she said then the next thing I knew, I was tied to something slick and slippery, almost flying through the air before plunging into the water. I couldn’t move but I was inside of an air bubble so I could breathe. What was happening?!

Whoosh! The next thing I knew, we were out of the waters of the Great Marston Sea. I was released from the bond and slid down to the ground. It was the creature. He had somehow roped me to his back and carried me away from the area.

“I hope you’re okay. I know this was a shock but I don’t like seeing people get hurt.”

“I’m okay, Constan...?”

“Constantinople Roy,” he nodded.

“Um, would you mind very much if we shortened that to Conroy?”

He blinked and pondered for a second “Yeah, that’s great. But what should I call you?”

“I’m Jailee.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you Jailee,” Conroy said. “I’ve got a lot of questions for you like why do you have friends that want to kill you?”

“I have a lot of questions for you like, how are you talking?”

“I think this means we need to get to know each other a little better,” he winked as he motioned for me to get on his back and we plunged into the Marston again.

And that’s when I went somewhere I never knew existed.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt: That One Friend


Also, note: This is Jailee's seventh LJ Idol appearance. Her previous appearances include five during Season 9:

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23] and
Week [26]

and one other during Season X:

Week [1]
penpusher: (Pen)
Threats are motivators, Lou Bingham thought to himself as he breathed a sigh. The State was a threat, always watching, always suspicious, always expecting the worst. A government was supposed to work for the people, or so he believed. But he was from Arid Zone, an area that was one of the last bastions of both independent thought and dry land in the southwest region.

The girl was a threat too, and a much more direct one. She was smart, as smart as anyone he had ever met in his nearly sixty years. Beautiful, of course, but also very aware. Most people wander through their lives, occasionally having a moment of enjoyment, dejection or possibly even anger! Not this one. She of the blue skin, the bald head, the lithe body, she was full on passion. She nearly killed him for filming her while she slept!

Lou placed his hand to his throat, as if he could heal himself by touch, the place where she nearly choked him with her bare hands. Of course he understood. If she was ever found to be a dreamer, and not just that but a Lucid Dreamer, The State would envelope her as they apparently did with a whole generation of young people with that ability. That is a threat that could motivate homicide.

There was an issue of trust. Neither he nor his female companion completely trusted each other, but they were all that they had. Well, that and The State, who they both knew could never be trusted. Still, the unease between them was something Lou was trying to resolve somehow. He hoped that by restoring her friend, that would prove he was both safe and loyal, even as he didn't understand her intentions and desires.

Threats are motivators, Lou reminded himself. They take you out of your comfort zone. They push you into action, doing something to stop it, or at the very least, avoid it. He wondered if The State knew what he was doing, despite all of his fail-safes. Could they already be aware of everything he knew and were just waiting for the right moment to...

"Conroy?" The girl stood at the incubation door, trying to peek through the opaque glass.

"Just place your hand on the pyramid" Lou called to her.

Jailee closed her eyes, took a breath and put the center of her palm on the tip of the sideways inverted red illuminated pyramid attached to the wall by the door. Her fingers gripped around it. The pyramid turned green and the door began to rise with a shush of cool air and a bit of water vapor.

Once the door had raised, the chamber became illuminated. There, inside a tank, was a baby seal. Jailee leaned in to have a better look.

The seal began flapping its flippers excitedly and seemed to smile at her. She turned away.

"What is this?"

"That's your friend. Or my closest approximation," Lou replied, walking towards the chamber.

"This is a baby."

"Well, for the moment he is. But we can age progress him."

Jailee turned back to the tank and watched Conroy doing aquatic somersaults and for the first time since she last saw him, she started to laugh.

"No," Jailee said, "He's perfect as is."

"Well, he seems to know you!" Lou nodded as he approached the tank. "How else can I help?"

"The person who... put that counter... on him." Jailee trembled.

"The counter that blew him into a million pieces?"

Jailee bit her lip. "We have to find him. All I know is that his name is Sam and he works in Local Sector. Can Conroy help?"

"I'm sort of new at all of this, but I would say it's fifty-fifty that he would remember anything related to any previously experienced trauma."

They both looked at the baby seal splashing at the top of the tank. He poked his head up, placing his front flippers on the shelf of the glass, opened and closed his mouth once, then again, looked directly at her, blinked and said "Hailee!"

She paused, then rushed over to hug him, so neither Lou nor Conroy could see her face.

//

This story was written for LJ Idol X using the prompt - "I need the struggle to feel alive."


Also, note: This is Jailee's sixth LJ Idol appearance. Her five previous appearances occurred during Season 9:

Week [3]
Week [15]
Week [16]
Week [23] and
Week [26]

Two-S-A

Nov. 12th, 2016 01:42 pm
penpusher: (Flag)
Since the results of the 2016 election, a meme has been floating around.





Basically, it’s a thumb your nose moment from conservatives stating that THEY hold the true values of the United States and that their way of thinking and voting is a much more accurate reflection of the way the country should be.

But, is it, really?

As we know, Hillary Clinton won the Popular Vote across the country, meaning that she was voted for by more Americans than her opponent. But, because of the configuration of where those votes were, the Electoral College stated that she did not win, and her opponent would assume the presidency.

There are two points that need to be made about this map to put it into context. The first is that the Electoral College seems to be a problem. But I have a couple of suggestions as to why we have issue with it. The first is that Electoral College vote distribution needed an update to properly reflect the population.

Here’s how it stands right now. The state with the smallest population, Wyoming, with just over a half million citizens, has been assigned three (3) Electoral Votes. South Dakota, a state that also has three (3) Electoral Votes, has a population of more than eight hundred fifty thousand, or roughly 350K more than Wyoming. It seems like it deserves at least one or two more Electoral Votes than Wyoming, doesn’t it? Compare that to California, the state with the most Electoral Votes: 55. With a population of over thirty-eight million (38 M) people, we should expect that Electoral Vote total to be closer to at least 130 and possibly a little more. I mean, if we're going to be fair and base this on where in the country people live, that only makes sense, right? Of course, we would have to change the number to win from two hundred seventy (270) to a higher total as well, but that’s easily done and again, in the name of creating a ballot that truly reflects the will of the people.

But, here’s an additional tweak that really should be brought to bear.

Even though the population determines the number of Electoral Votes any state receives, they get those votes whether their population votes or not.

That shouldn’t be the case.

We know that a bit more than forty-seven (47) percent of the population did not vote in the 2016 election. But their states still receive the same number of Electorates. How does THAT make sense? The number of “popular vote” ballots cast in each state should be reflected by the number of Electoral Votes permitted to vote on behalf of that state in the Electoral College.

Think about it. The point is in REPRESENTATION. If the number of Electoral Votes cast by any state remains the same no matter how many (or how few) people vote, that gives a completely inaccurate tally of the voice of the citizens of this country. Electoral Votes are being placed on behalf of people who did not vote. That is, in my view, the biggest overlooked problem with the Electoral College and the entire process of how it works and why people perceive it as completely unfair.

Tweaking the vote to base it on number of ballots received will also mean that everyone’s vote actually will count, and in a direct correlation way to how the results will be presented. Suddenly, a state like Colorado, with its nine (9) Electoral Votes could out vote Georgia’s fifteen (15), because they turned out the vote with many more ballots cast. Then it becomes a real battle to make sure every state has everyone voting so they can retain their Electoral Votes and will get their fullest representation. And this would have the added benefit of practically preventing voter suppression. In this configuration, no matter who the population of your state votes for, it relies on people who actually vote to determine if you get Electoral Votes.

How would the vote have gone if we weighted the Electoral College balloting based on actual number of voters per state? I’d have to do the math to figure it all out, but no matter what, I know it would be a more equitable result, based on who actually voted, and the results really would produce a case where you could truly say “If you didn’t vote, you can’t complain.”

But there’s another element about this map that I think is just as important and maybe goes a bit deeper into the psychology of our collective consciousness.

The bulk of the midsection of the country is conservative. The bulk of the south is conservative. And the only blue areas in those wide swaths of red are in or near larger cities. We also have more blue in places where liberal thought is welcome, like in Vermont and Washington.

Here’s the thing about that.

When you live in a rural area, the communities are homogeneous. It’s mostly all white people who have a fairly rigid sense of who they are, what they believe, how they think and where they want the country to go.

Meanwhile, in a city, you typically have people of many different sorts all sharing the same geographic space with you, sometimes in the same block, sometimes in the same building as where you live.

You have to be liberal to be in a city because you know and understand that you are sharing your home with a lot of other people who aren’t exactly like you! Everyone wants to have a chance to live the life that they want. So, what people in cities understand is that you have to leave space for everyone to do that. In a rural or even in a suburban area, that kind of thinking doesn’t enter because people who are different typically do not enter.

If the United States were a vehicle, liberals would be the accelerator, pushing to change things, moving us forward, taking us to a place where all of us can be open, free and able to have the American Dream. Conservatives would represent the brake, slowing or stopping any changes, sometimes even shifting us to reverse as far as where we are going collectively.

The problem is also reflected in the responses we have seen from these two camps.

When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the basic response of conservatives was to close up shop. There was no protest, but there also was no support from that side. In fact, the brakes were in full effect as every program and bill that President Obama put forth was challenged and sometimes gutted to slow or block any progress.

Now, what we have is a case where the conservatives are shouting they have a mandate, that they are the best, and that liberals have to kowtow to what they want. It’s a difficult situation to negotiate, especially since the race, even by our unaltered standards, was basically a dead heat.

So, the problem really is, how do we connect these Two different iterations of the United States?

The answer is, quite simply, through communication.

Well, it's quite so simple, though. Have you ever tried to discuss political issues with a person who has an opposing view? Depending on the topic, it can get quite personal and emotional very quickly. It often dissolves into value judgments, insults and worse.

And yet, that is the ONLY way we can pull ourselves through this. We are going to get a little personal because these are elements of life that are dear to us. This will become a little emotional because we really do care about these points. But, and I know I’ll get some flack from some people about it, that leads us to the following truth:

Liberal thinking MUST rule the country.

See, you can always be conservative for yourself. If you feel like the direction of the country is too progressive for your tastes, that’s fine. You don’t have to change what you’re doing. Stay exactly like you are, as far as your personal life is concerned. But not allowing everyone else to move forward, simply because you don’t want to change, is not fair.

The problem is in thinking that we are trying to offend the sensibilities of people who don’t always agree with these changes. And that’s the thing that city people understand so much better than folks who live in the less populated areas of the USA. If I can put it in an agrarian way, we are constantly re-potting our plant, adjusting to allow growth. We can’t stay stagnant. That benefits no one. We have to continue to move forward.

Ultimately, we are a nation of many different kinds of people. If we are true to the tenets that the Founding Fathers wrote into those documents we cherish, the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States, we have to make space for our citizens, ALL of our citizens to live free, to not fear, to have the same opportunities to help themselves and to help their country. OUR country.

That’s the way to Make America Great Again.
penpusher: (Trump)
I'd like for you to say hello to the new Commander in Chief, to the new leader of the Free World, to the new President of the United States. His name is Donald J. Trump.

I know a lot of you are happy to meet the new boss, and I know that some of you are wondering just how he got the position. Let's review.

We had a black man as president for the previous eight years. This did not sit well with certain members of the opposition party.

I know that there will be a call stating that the fact that Barack Obama was black has nothing to do with it; that it was his policies that were disliked and dismissed. But there really was a movement to discredit him for who he was, and one of the biggest mouthpieces of that movement was Donald Trump.

See, Trump constantly stated that he didn't believe that President Obama was a "natural born American," a requirement for anyone seeking the office of President, and he continued to make the claim that not only was POTUS not born in the US, but that he was Muslim as well. Clearly, a kind of wedge was being driven into the collective consciousness about who this man was. This point cannot be underestimated. If you readily claim the person who is leading the country has a massive stake in it failing, that suggests a content of character issue, not a failed policy maker.

Eventually, it was time to see who was willing to run for the office and Trump was one of the people who chose to enter the field on the Republican side, this though he was a registered Democrat. It was a very crowded group with people from various parts of the country, some old familiar names, some up and coming politicians, even a brain surgeon, if you can believe it.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was the most likely candidate. She had run and lost to Obama in 2008, then became his Secretary of State in 2012. Her problem was she had no competition and that made her both the prohibitive choice almost before she announced, but it meant that the GOP could start to prepare their approach for how they planned to attack and dismantle her.

Enter Bernie Sanders.

Sanders was a surprise and a force that, like Trump, came from outside of the typical political channels. He was an independent who joined the Democrats and started to travel to get his message out there, one of inclusion, of thought, of caring.

Sanders made a point not to attack Clinton through the bulk of the primary season. But he got a movement going, a groundswell for the Democratic "outsider" view, similarly as the GOP started to support Trump with his campaign. But everyone on the Republican side attacked the policies of Obama and Clinton, presenting at least that common thought for all of the baker's dozen of candidates. They united to pound Hillary for anything and everything they could think of, whether it was accurate or not.

The problem is in politics as usual and in the concept that politicians are, for the most part, corrupt. Both Sanders and Trump carried that message along with them as their popularity grew. This did no favors for Hillary Clinton, who was still dealing with the question of how she used her private server for what were potentially classified emails, possibly putting the country at risk for allowing secrets to fall into the hands of our enemies.

Never mind that Trump continually said and did things that would have taken down any other candidate. Never mind that Trump constantly made statements that contradicted himself. Never mind that Trump never actually stated anything he would do as President. Yes, he said he would build a wall on the Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it. But 1) there already is a wall on the Mexican/US border. And 2) that isn't a policy that the president can actually enact. And that was typical of everything Trump said during the run up to the Republican National Convention. He literally gave no one any information about what a Trump presidency would look like, what it would focus on, how it would function, and what it would be about.

"It'll be great" or "Watch and see" were typical phrases he would shout at reporters when they asked about these points. Why no one focused on the fact that Trump said nothing real or realistic about his concept of what the office was about is clearly an issue that was overlooked by the media. I don't recall hearing anyone say that they didn't feel Trump understood what the Executive branch was actually about. Instead, focus was on the fistfights and the anger at his rallies, the constant mantra of "Let's Make America Great Again," and zoomed in close on the next outrageous comment from the candidate's mouth, be it against a physically challenged journalist, a female opponent's face, or some media outlet or business he felt slighted him. It truly was the definition of the term "political circus."

Come election night, with the polls showing Hillary having a 3 point lead, the voting did not go that way, with Trump winning pretty much the entirety of the center of the country and the south, Hillary winning the West Coast and the Northeast with a few other states included. Too close to call was the official term, but everything seemed to tilt toward The Donald.

What does this mean? There is a new shift in how America sees itself and how it plans to move forward on the world stage. Diplomacy will become a meaningless word. Women's rights, both in the bedroom and in the military, will likely be stripped away, as Trump stated he is pro-life and anti-women in military positions. The Affordable Health Care act will likely be destroyed, with nothing to replace it for more than 20 million Americans. And with the help of the Republican Congress and the Republican leaning Supreme Court, we could see a repeal of the equality of marriage laws, permitting gay people their basic human rights to love and wed who they choose.

Clearly this was a "take back the country" message being sent from people who felt minorities, women, the LGBTQ community, and anyone with little or no power to do anything in this land, were getting a little bit out of control, a little bit too cozy and comfortable. Time to put you all back in your place. There will be no more images of the White House bathed in a rainbow. There will be no more entertaining the thought that climate change might be a thing. This is the end of tolerance. This is the rise of political incorrectness.

Meet the new boss... nothing like the old boss.

This thinkpost was written for LJ Idol X, using the prompt "Introduction"
penpusher: (Pen)
It has become clear to me that if I intend to actually use LiveJournal as an active and important part of my life, and I do want it to remain an active and important part of my life, it will have to be in its use as a testing ground for writing or something related to writing.

I have been on a month long excursion which allowed me an opportunity to get a new perspective on both myself and my direction. I got to do some workshops related to writing. I understand some elements that would make my writing that much more sharp. Now, can I incorporate what I have learned into telling a good story?

One way to find out is by once again, attempting [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol, the weekly competition that pits those people foolhardy enough to attempt the wrath of [livejournal.com profile] clauderainsrm and each other, in order to be crowned the champion of the El Jay.

So, this is my verbose way of saying, I'm doing LJ Idol again.

Apologies in advance.
penpusher: (Pen)
Dean and I have been trying to pinpoint the time frame that he and I added each other on Livejournal. He found a post from 2003 and I am still positive that it was sometime in 2001. For close to 15 years we have followed each other's lives and cheered each other on through jobs and relationships.. ups and downs. Through loss and expectations, our own and other peoples..

We are still here. We are older and we have smile lines and life under our belt. And we are here.

I remember the fantastical birthday posts that he used to write and I still remember the first one that he did for me. Seattle made me feel very alone. But Livejournal was this balm that made everything that was hard just a little easier. You had this social safety net that you could pour your heart out to and they helped get you through.

Dean was one of those people for me. I am thankful for his friendship and for his continued part in my life.

I am very thankful that I got to hug this person today that has been a part of my life for so very long.

** Note: This entry was written by [livejournal.com profile] theda for my blog! It's a science experiment!

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