Our Wonderful Government
The latest bit of brilliance on the part of our glorious elected leaders is to continue doubling down on the unemployed. In the next edition of "the floggings will continue until unemployment decreases" thinking, there's a brilliant plan in the works to have the unemployed required to submit up to forty applications for jobs per month (ten applications per week), starting in July next year.
The current maximum rate is ten applications per fortnight, or one application per day.
On top of this, if you're between the ages of 18 and 30, you'll be required to sign up for 25 hours per week of work for the dole; if you're between 30 and 49, you'll be required to put in 15 hours a week; if you're over 50, you get to volunteer for it if you want to.
Have some references:
Unemployed to be forced to apply for 40 jobs a month as part of $5 billion dole overhaul
Industry concerned about Coalition's 40-job-applications-a month plan
Work for dole program to be expanded to include almost all jobseekers
Work For The Dole Doesn't Work And Never Has
Now, as I mentioned in my post of 25 JUN 2014, we're already seeing an increase in the experience required in order to get a job - it's gone up to an average of 2 - 5 years recent experience in role (or equivalent) since the budget in early May. I have a suspicion by July next year, we might be looking at a minimum of five to seven years recent experience in role to be considered. Or in other words "so much for working your way up the ranks".
The business community has already spoken up about this one, concerned they're going to be flooded with applications from people who are mainly concerned with getting together their numbers and meeting their targets. Already, employers have largely ceased replying to application letters unless you're a successfully short-listed candidate - a number of ads are saying explicitly that only short-listed candidates will be contacted. Or in other words, applying for these jobs is a bit like Don Marquis' lovely metaphor regarding publishing poetry in the US market - he compared that to dropping a rose petal into the Grand Canyon, and listening for the echo of it hitting bottom.
I find this depressing enough when I'm only required to apply for five jobs a fortnight.
One of the more interesting snarky suggestions on the Guardian's comments is sending regular applications and query letters to the offices of Liberal Party MPs and Senators. I'm strongly tempted, I must admit. Just write up a form letter, put together a brief database of names and addresses, and set the silly thing going on a weekly basis. I'd need fifteen candidates a week to bring me up to the level required for forty a month, and it'd be almost cathartic after another week of combing through jobs databases trying to find something suitable to apply for. Oh, and just think, they could bask in the warm glow of helping another Australian do their share of the "lifting" for the economy. What a pity I'm on the wrong side of the country to realistically send applications or query letters to Messrs Abbott, Hockey and Abetz.
 Yes, I'm being sarcastic.
 No, I'm not being sarcastic. I'd love to try out applying for a job in their offices anyway - and see how fast I get sacked for having left-wing political opinions. Maybe I could try a spin on the US Religious Right trick of suing them for discrimination, the same way anti-abortion types are trying to sue for the right to work in family planning organisations...
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Living with an "Episodic" Mental Health Condition
I have chronic endogenous unipolar depression. This is a technical medical term. Chronic means my depression is always there, as background noise in my life. Endogenous means there is no identifiable "reason" for my depression other than "my brain hates me and wants me to be miserable". Unipolar means I get major depressive downs, but I don't get manic highs.
( Continued below the fold )
Employing me, or someone like me, requires a workplace which allows me to vary my workload in order to cope with the changing mental weather. It requires a workplace where my boss is going to accept me saying "I'm having a bad week at the moment; can I please not be put in customer-facing situations unless it's absolutely necessary" without either complaining, attempting to force me into situations I've said I'm ill-equipped to handle, or attempting to guilt me into performing according to their plans. It requires a workplace where I'm allowed to say "I'm feeling overloaded, can I go home?" (and where there's an acceptance this point may well occur twenty minutes into the working day). It requires a workplace where I don't feel required to meet the performance standards set by persons who don't have my rather interesting set of obstacles to performing at capacity. It requires, in short, a workplace which Western Capitalist society is profoundly ill-equipped to supply.
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The Law of Unexpected Consequences
There's a lot being said about what the detrimental effects of the government's proposed efforts to make young unemployed people "earn or learn" will be for the economy. I'd like to point out an effect it's having right now, before the legislation has even been passed (it was introduced to the House of Representatives this week).
In the last few weeks, I've been noticing an up-tick in the number of jobs which are effectively demanding applicants have between two and five years experience, minimum, in the position they're applying for. Or in other words, it's suddenly becoming a lot harder to break into the job market unless you have experience. It's also suddenly a lot harder to trade up within the job market.
Now, I'm theorising here, but I suspect this is due to an influx of CVs and applications from people who are under thirty, and who are desperate to get employed before the Budget legislation is passed through the Senate (because they have to work on the presumption it's going to be passed unaltered; pray for amendments, but plan for the full horror). Employers are getting flooded with applications for any job they offer, and as a result, they're tightening up their selection criteria. The first thing to go is the option to take on someone who might need a bit of training. The end result, of course, is experience criteria get tagged onto just about any job.
Problem is, a certain amount of labour market participation is a condition of getting Newstart allowance here in Australia. The general level is an expectation of putting in applications for ten jobs a fortnight (twenty a month). One of the lovely conditions being proposed for younger unemployed people (i.e. those thirty years old or younger) is a minimum of forty job applications a month, or ten a week, whether or not they're receiving a payment. Which means employers are going to be confronted by more people applying for jobs they definitely aren't qualified for, and will correspondingly tighten up the selection criteria even further, making it even harder for inexperienced job seekers to get into employment.
I would venture a guess Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey aren't expecting either of these results. I'd also venture a guess they don't particularly give a monkey's one way or t'other. They certainly don't seem to give a damn about all the job losses which are occurring (Mr Abbott said earlier this week he considered his government to be "the Australian worker's best friend", which argues either a thoroughly warped definition of friendship, or a possibly psychotic level of detachment from the consensus reality).
[Before anyone says anything about this: yes, I'm aware job ads tend to have criteria which are listing the ideal, and employers tend not to find their ideal employee anyway. Yes, I'm aware I should be applying for anything which seems to even vaguely fit my abilities and skills, and not worry about the experience criteria. But really, can anyone please explain to me how doing so is any different, at my end of the equation, to buying a lotto ticket every week?]
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In Response to Another Mass Shooting in the USA
1) Can I re-iterate a call for the name of the shooter to be buried in obscurity, while the names of his victims are memorialised? This would be a far more fitting treatment of these sorts of crimes than the current practice of focussing on the person who committed the crime to the exclusion of the persons who were harmed by it (and, let's be honest, to the exclusion of the persons this fool meant to be harmed by his actions: namely, all women who have ever turned down a self-professed "nice guy" for whatever reason). Why give this bloke the publicity and notice he so dearly wanted?
Instead, let's remember and commemorate Katherine Cooper, Veronika Weiss, Christopher Ross Michael-Martinez, and his other victims (as yet unnamed to the public).
2) Can we stop demonising the mentally ill for these sorts of crimes? I agree, the guy probably had issues. I agree, he had Aspergers Syndrome, which is one of the autism spectrum of disorders. However, he is not likely to have had a single diagnosed severe mental illness, he is highly unlikely to be provably compulsive or psychotic (i.e. he is NOT likely to have been in an altered mental state) at the time of the shooting, and he is more than likely to be found to be legally sane (that is, he was capable of perceiving the distinction between moral and immoral actions) at the time of the shooting.
The vast majority of people with diagnosed mental illnesses (including the vast majority of people with diagnosed psychotic schizophrenia, and diagnosed compulsive disorders, not to mention the vast majority of people who exist on the autism spectrum somewhere) manage to get through their lives pretty much without perpetrating acts of violence on other people. Indeed, the vast majority of persons with diagnosed mental illnesses are more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators.
The issues this bloke had were not to do with an altered mental state, with his reported autism spectrum disorder, with a compulsive or psychotic disorder, or with an emotional disorder. They stemmed far more from his attitudes of entitlement and misogyny. Which leads to my next point...
3) Can we label these sorts of crimes (mass shootings, performed by a single perpetrator, often from an ambush location, at a single point in time, generally without a particular target of preference) as being what they are: crimes of entitlement. I call them crimes of entitlement because the vast majority of the perpetrators for these crimes are white men. There have been a few such crimes perpetrated by black or Asian men. NONE have been perpetrated by women. They're crimes performed largely by people who have structural advantages in our society, and who feel they are hard done by because they don't get the "perfect" life they feel they're owed by the universe. They generally aren't high achievers, they blame other people for their own failings, and they generally "peak" into homicidal activity like this at two possible ages - there's one group who bombs out shortly after high school, usually by their early to mid twenties (and the shooter for this latest incident fit the mould perfectly; he was not even original in his dysfunction), and another group which tends to bomb out in their mid-to-late forties. In both cases, it's because they realise they aren't going to get the life Hollywood promised them they were due as straight white men, and in both cases, their actions are because they think their selfish anger at this "betrayal" is much more important than anything else.
In both cases, these people are more likely to either suicide themselves, or commit "suicide by cop" rather than face up to the consequences of their actions. Again, our shooter in this case fit the mould to a "T". He was not unique, he was not some special snowflake, and regardless of his stated "reasons" for his crime, the status of his family or any of the other things people will pull out in order to pretend this crime was somehow "different", he was no different to the last such insignificant wanker to commit such a crime, nor any different to the next one. Which leads to my final point:
4) Can we please have this discussion with and within the USA where we mention that maybe, just maybe, making guns harder to acquire on a national basis might knock the number of these crimes which occur there right the way down? Because this is a VERY AMERICAN CRIME. Everywhere else an incident of this sort occurs, there's immediate action to prevent it from recurring. Gun laws are imposed or tightened up; rules on who can obtain a gun are imposed or tightened; enforcement of existing laws is stepped up; all of these efforts are made to ensure the next time some thoughtless yahoo feels his insignificance is a massive burden, he hasn't got the easy recourse of taking a gun and shooting people randomly in order to get his name in the papers. Only in the USA is this kind of crime treated as something which is apparently unable to be prevented.
Quite frankly, as I've said before, I'm starting to lose sympathy. Yes, these individual events are terrible. But really, there is a solution to the problem, and it's one which has been proven to work quite successfully everywhere else.
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Why There Isn't Going To Be A Double Dissolution Any Time Soon
There's a lot of talk in response to the budget about double dissolutions, and the term has been floating around in the public discourse since early on in the Gillard government, where Tony Abbott was threatening to try and call an election every single sitting day of parliament (no kidding, one of the standard procedures during the Gillard parliament was the regular call by the Leader of the Opposition for a suspension of standing orders so they could call for a vote of confidence in the government. It got voted down every single time, but was so damn regular that Kevin Rudd's first day back as PM was notable for the LACK of this motion). While I'm right alongside a lot of Australians with wanting to get a do-over on the election (hells, didn't we just have one of those here in WA?) so we can get it right this time, I doubt we're going to see a DD any time soon. Here's why not:
1) Tony Abbott doesn't want to call one.
Tony Abbott is not a complete fool (much as he does a creditable imitation of one). He and his minders are no doubt looking at the dismal figures they're getting in the polls at present (the Liberals are down 45 - 55 against the ALP in two party preferred figures) and realising any double dissolution election is not likely to go their way. At present the Liberals have a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives, and a workable majority in the Senate. They'd be fools to risk either of those if they don't have to. Tony Abbott is famous for saying a lot of things he doesn't actually mean, and I suspect his statements about his willingness to face a double dissolution fall into this category. Given he's the one who is supposed to make the "suggestion" to the Governor General regarding when to have elections, I wouldn't expect to see him willing to go to the polls in the near future.
2) Bill Shorten doesn't want one called either.
Yes, the ALP is up against the Liberals in two party preferred figures in the polls. Problem is, "two party preferred" is a polling artefact, rather than an accurate reflection of electoral reality. The question being asked in a "two party preferred" question is "given these two parties as your only choices, which would you pick?". At present, more people, given only two choices, are picking the red box rather than the blue one. But the thing is, at an election, they don't just have the red and blue boxes - they have more choices, and the ALP is still recovering after a rather comprehensive defeat prompted by internal factional nonsense (and there are NO indicators this internal factional nonsense has stopped. Indeed, all the indicators show it's still going strong, and causing more problems than ever; witness the fuss over the pre-selection of Joe Bullock here in WA). At an election, it's more likely people's votes would swing toward other, more minor parties, such as the Greens, the Palmer United Party, and so on. I suspect a more accurate rendition of people's electoral preferences would point toward another minority government situation, with the balance of power being held by independent, Green and PUP candidates, which isn't really something the ALP wants. Yes, they've shown they can deal with it (the Gillard government, for all the poor press reports, got one heck of a lot done during its time in office), but it isn't their preferred situation - they, like the Liberals, would rather have an outright majority to work with.
Expect to see a lot of horse-trading going on in the House and the Senate between the ALP and the Liberals - this would be the more realistic outcome. While there's going to be a lot of talk about the prospect of a double dissolution, I'd not be expecting one until we actually see writs issued.
Incidentally, if we're really wanting a double dissolution, the person to petition is the Governor General. In strict constitutional terms, the GG is the one who calls elections, usually on the advice of the Prime Minister, but not always. Theoretically, if the Governor General were faced with a sufficiently large indication of the displeasure of the Australian people with their elected government, he would be within his rights to call an election, but I suspect the more practical upshot of such a petition would be an immediate call from the GG to the best firm of constitutional lawyers in the country, to find out whether or not he's obliged to pay attention to such a thing (so any such petition would need to have signatures from at least 75% of Australian voters to have an impact, in my opinion).
 The most notable example of same is back from 1975, in the Whitlam dismissal, where the Leader of the Opposition managed to persuade the Governor General of the time the Prime Minister could not pass his supply bills (the ones which pay the wages of the parliamentarians, federal public servants, and federal government beneficiaries and pensioners). This led to Sir John Kerr dismissing the Whitlam government, and installing Malcolm Fraser as a caretaker Prime Minister while an election was called. In the subsequent election, the ALP was voted out rather solidly, and the Liberals were voted in. The ructions of this are still echoing around parliament to this day.
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The whole Frances Abbott thing:
I've been following this as it surfaced in my feeds, and a couple of things which spring to mind:
1) Frances Abbott is as human as everyone else, which means when she sees what looks like a chance to get something for nothing, she'll grab it. Let's be honest - we'd all take the offer were it made to us. The problem is, as Frances is no doubt learning, there is no such thing as a genuine "something for nothing" offer. Everyone pays somehow. If you're getting "something for nothing" in terms of access to services, you're probably being asked to supply your information to the service provider in order for them to on-sell them to advertisers (as per Web 2.0 portals such as Facebook and Linkedin). In Frances' case, what she's paying with now is her self-respect - she's no doubt learning the stuff she got was basically aimed at getting her Dad on side, and not something she obtained through her own hard work and effort, and this apparently includes her job as well. I feel somewhat sorry for her, because through their political machinations, her father and his cronies have essentially reduced whatever level of talent she has for the work to nothing - a non-event, a sideshow. No matter how good her work is, she will always have this hanging over her head, and she will always be regarded as someone who got by on connections rather than ability.
That can't be easy for anyone.
2) Tony Abbott apparently has a deeply entitled attitude toward life, since he appears to have hit up this particular "donor" or "mate" on a regular basis for things like clothing (suits) and similar. I can't help but wonder how many people find a similar cost applied to their "friendship" toward him, and how many he's dropped like hot rocks along the way when they couldn't supply him with what he wanted.
3) Given this tale of an unprecedented scholarship being offered at this "no scholarships" institution to the child of a friend of a director, I find myself wondering whether this kind of thing won't become much more common for the children of politicians, company directors and similar in future, as our higher education becomes much more monetarized and cash-driven. It won't ever be named as "favours for friends", but instead we'll see the children of the Right People (self-defined) getting scholarships, intern-ships and similar through connections, while the rest of the group struggles along on effort.
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So, How Was Your Week?
How's my week been? Ooh, let's see.
1) Physically, I'm breaking in a new mattress (as in new-new, never been used before). We swapped out my previous queen bed for a single bed (so we can manage to fit more than just the beds into the bedrooms of whichever place we move into next) and as part of this I'd purchased myself a new mattress to go with it. New mattress is very firm (designed for kids to be jumping on it, I suspect) and thus I tend to be not getting quite the same quality of sleep I'm used to. Plus the single bed with my queen-bed continental quilt on it is a lot warmer than the queen bed used to be, so I spend a lot of the night overheating. Not helped by item 2) on the agenda, below.
2) This year, Perth looks to be having a lovely wet winter, which we desperately need in order to get even a little more water in the dams (this graph gives a picture of where our water storage levels are at present). However, while I love to see the rainfall, I'm not so keen on the small problem where we have absolutely zero undercover drying space for our laundry. It means I spend a lot of time frantically monitoring the weather radar (to tell whether the rain is likely to be falling/clearing up soon); the washing gets hung out in frantic bursts of hope, then hauled back in and spun dry again (well, drier than dripping wet, anyway); and smaller items get hung up on the clothes airer which is now occupying one of the few patches of clear space in our main room.
3) Just started with a new psychologist yesterday. She's based out at the old Fremantle Prison (built back in the convict days of the early 1800s - our colony was founded in 1829 - and still being used as a prison within my lifetime) which now has at least some of the cells being used as office space by a small business development group. Let's just say I can now understand why the prisoners used to riot. That office/cell was crowded with two women in it. I'd hate to think how cramped it would have been with three big boofy blokes in it. Standard first appointment - "tell me about yourself" - which has stirred up the mud at the bottom of the psyche. Consequently feeling a little flattened at present.
4) Second installment of a short course on MYOB happening tonight (six week course, 3.5 hours per week). I'm having my usual problem with all of these sorts of things, namely that I could probably have blitzed through about two weeks worth of content inside the allowed time for one week, and thus spend a lot of the time reading ahead in the book and getting everything done quick smart. Last week I spent a lot of the unused time writing up an explanation of the difference between closing down a program using its own exit routine (File -> Exit on most Windows programs) and letting the operating system take care of things (click on the X in the upper right corner, for Windows), and why it's wiser to let the program handle the closing routine if you're working on a slow system, or a system using networked file storage, or if you're using large data files. Formatted it a bit when I got home last week, and I'll print it out today and take it in for the fun of it. Wonder what I'll wind up with this week? Maybe I should take along a few bits of fanfic to work on.
5) Picked up some more acrylic yarn from the Red Dot store in Fremantle (they had 100g balls of 8-ply acrylic going for $2 a ball; I grabbed some in black, which I plan to use as joining/edging yarn for rugs, and some in dark purple and white, which I plan to use to create a "Fremantle Dockers" knee rug for my father-in-law). This has now brought my yarn stash to two 50L roller bins bulging at the seams. I am now no longer allowed to buy any more yarn until I've used up some of the stuff I already have. Which may well necessitate me making an effort to turn some of the half-bin (another 50L roller bin) of granny squares sitting in waiting into rugs.
6) Replaced the pair of jeans which blew out an inner thigh a couple of weeks ago. $30 at Best and Less, and unfortunately it appears it is no longer possible to find larger sizes jeans which don't have some form of "tummy trimming" panel in them. Which is annoying - if I wanted to wear a girdle, I'd fecking well buy one. I don't need the designers of my clothing making the decision for me. They're currently in the wash basket, waiting for Himself to get home tonight, so I can put his current hi-vis shirt through the wash with the rest of them (and any other blue or green articles of clothing which are waiting on washing).
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So, How Badly Were You Shafted By The Budget?
I'm basically looking at trying to find an extra $70 per year from an income which had no discretionary spending available anyway (as per First Dog On The Moon, this is not a budget for people who fancy eating food and living in some sort of housing while wearing clothes). Basically, I can stop replacing clothes, shoes and underwear as they wear out, and thus put that money toward things like health maintenance for my two chronic health issues (under-active thyroid and chronic endogenous depression), or I can do things like actually replace the pair of jeans which gave up the ghost last week and keep the two replacement pairs of sneakers I bought about a month ago for $30, thus keeping myself shod for another six to eight months and wait for my health problems to get bad enough to put me in hospital. The latter will almost certainly cost the Australian taxpayer a damn sight more than $70.
So that particular program is almost certainly about the government cutting off its nose to spite its face for ideological reasons.
[Actually, given a new bra is likely to cost me about $80 a pop (and I need at least three of the wretched things), I'm starting to wonder how expensive a double mastectomy would be. It'd certainly make things cheaper for me overall - I could buy men's clothes, and save a fair old whack of money over the amount I'm charged as a woman who wears larger sizes. Heck, if they'd take the uterus as well, I'd be able to avoid spending money on "feminine hygiene" products too, which would be a nice little saving over the long term.]
It's only going to get harder as things go along, because I'm on Newstart, which is inadequate even now, and isn't likely to get any better (not with the payment rate frozen for three years). I'm old enough I'm not going to be forced to Work for the Dole, thanks be to the gods, but I'm not old enough for an employer to be able to get a subsidy for employing me (ah, the joys of being part of Generation X - neither fowl nor flesh nor good red herring!). Mr Nahan here in WA has already put up the cost of travelling anywhere by public transport, and Mr Hockey over in the federal house has decided to start slugging us more for fuel, so going out isn't going to be an option Any Time Soon.
So tonight I'm celebrating the budget with a cup of hot chocolate enhanced with a good solid slug of the cooking brandy.
May Tony Abbott's path be paved with Lego. And may all his shoes have cheap soles.
*drinks deeply in the hopes of oblivion*
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Budget Countdown 2014
Is it just me or are our Federal politicians sounding more and more like particularly authoritarian parents justifying themselves while reaching for the strap or the cane? "We'll thank them later", Tony Abbott told us on Friday or Saturday. Christopher Pyne is saying we'll be "glad" after the budget. I'm almost counting down the hours until Joe Hockey tells us the budget will hurt them more than it will hurt us (a platitude I'll only find believable if the budget is revealed to contain cuts to political salaries, a massive tightening of the rules on parliamentary travel allowances and when they're claimable, cuts to political superannuation and changes to the time frames where it can be accessed, and other such restrictions to the perks of political life. Or when I see the flying pigs landing at the airport, whichever comes first).
A bit of news for you, guys. It isn't working. It isn't reducing my skepticism about the budget in the least, and it certainly isn't making me any keener on possibly voting for you in some distant electoral future.
Honestly, I'd be a lot happier if the various elected members of the Liberal party could maybe start treating me as an intelligent adult voter, rather than either a mug punter who deserves to be fleeced, or a disobedient child who deserves to be punished.
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This Week's Unexpected Constraint
I've just discovered that, aside from today and tomorrow, the whole week is going to be rainy. Which means I have to get the washing done and out on the line pretty much today and tomorrow so it has a chance to dry. Plus, of course, our old washing machine takes about two hours to run a load through, so it's going to be a long process. In summer, of course, I do about one load a day, and it dries quickly. But, drattit, it isn't summer any more.
I think I'd better set up the drying rack in the garage. I get the feeling I'm going to be needing it.
(Before anyone asks: no, we don't own a clothes dryer. Nor do we have the space to be putting one).
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Fic up on AO3
Scorn of the Women - Captain America: The First Avenger.
"All I recall is the scorn of the women,
And a white feather that I received in mail"
In time for ANZAC day, a fic inspired by one of the songs on my ANZAC playlist, "Scorn of the Women", by Weddings Parties Anything.
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Thoughts on Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier
Okay, thoughts on "The Winter Soldier". ( Spoiler-heavy, and over-thinking galore. )
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New Fic at AO3
So I got carried away, and decided put some work up on AO3.
First up, http://archiveofourown.org/works/1336939 - "Little Battles" (Kingdom Hearts universe, Cloud/Leon, rated Mature for language).
Cloud and Leon have a discussion regarding invoicing and stevedoring.
Next up: http://archiveofourown.org/works/1336969 - "Once In A Lifetime" (Final Fantasy VIII, part 4 of the "Singing the Travels" series).
In which Squall reflects on matters past and present, and on his habit of drifting in the current.
And finally: http://archiveofourown.org/works/1336999 - "Sorceress' Theme" (Final Fantasy VIII).
A reflection on one of the unexplored ramifications of the closed time loop of the FFVIII plotline.
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I Love My Fsckin' ISP...
... and it appears my ISP loves fsckin' me, too.
Our (phone and) internet connection went out on Thursday afternoon (around 12 noon to 1pm). Given our nyetwork at home tends to be somewhat picky about matters of temperature, and also given Thursday was a fairly sultry and humid day, I figured the most likely problem was that one out of the modem or the router had decided to throw up their little hands in horror at the heat, and collapse. It's happened before, and Himself keeps them in a cupboard without much air circulation in the hottest room in the house (his bedroom). So I opened the cupboard, and being unable to reach the silly things (they're up on a shelf) I decided to wait for Himself to get home.
Once he got home, he did a few diagnostics, determined the problem wasn't with the router or the modem, and also determined (by the highly technical expedient of picking up the phone) that we didn't have a dial tone. So, pick up the phone and call up our ISP.
We're using iinet in WA. Just so's people know.
( Saga below the fold ) we now have temporary internets.
And himself is no longer twitching and shaking... as much. The connection is via Orac, so he has to figure out a way of getting Orac and his PC to talk to one another (and share the internet connection nicely). But that's minor stuff.
I have no fewer than four copies of the iinet technical support customer satisfaction survey in my inbox (I'm tempted to forward them on to Himself so he can have the joy of replying to them).
Oh, and I've worked out an update for that lovely quote by Susan Ertz: "Millions long for immortality who don't know how to cope with an internet outage."
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The Last Remnant Drinking (to stay hydrated) Game
Unlike most drinking games, this one isn't intended to get you drunk. Instead, I designed it to help me stay hydrated while playing The Last Remnant. So, be warned, this works best if you're drinking something non-alcoholic and caffeine free. If you choose to do otherwise, on your own head be it.
I tend to play with a bottle of water (or a pot of tea) and a glass (or cup).
* At the beginning of each round of combat
* For every 10 enemies chained
* At the end of each successful combat
* For each successful loop chance with Mr Diggs
* For each use of the Gae Bolg, Omnistrike or equivalent attack.
* For each treasure chest opened.
* Per boss battle
* Per 100 enemies chained
1 gulp (or drain the glass/cup)
* When David's accent wanders off toward the Estuary (Brits will know what I mean; for everyone else, just rest assured that Lord David's "upper class" British accent sometimes slips a bit).
* Each time you're killed (in other words, for each "Game Over")
* Each time you exhaust your mining chances with Mr Diggs
* Each cinematic cutscene
* Each time Mr Diggs finds a morsel
[Note to the wise: if you're playing this and find you have to keep stopping to go to the lavatory, yes, that's the idea. If you're getting to the point where your kidneys feel as though they're backing up, or you're feeling bloated, cut back on the sips at the beginning of each round of combat. As with all drinking games, the rules can be altered if you feel you're on the brink of self-harm as a result.]
 I get distracted by the game, and forget to take care of myself. This isn't a good idea in the middle of an Australian summer. At least this way, I'm going to be reminded to take care of myself while I play.
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Depression: Something That Helps Me
Okay, I've written a lot about my depression on my various blogs over the years, and mostly it's been the "screaming silently in text" type of post which is all about how horrible I'm feeling at the present moment and all the rest. Today, it's a bit different.
Today, I'm going to talk about something I've been doing for nearly two months now, which I'm finding is helping me with my depression.
It developed out of a bit of thinking that came to light in about mid-May, when I realised one of the things depression did for me was it made it very difficult for me to see the positives in what was going on around me (and thus made me very cross with people who said "look on the bright side", because as far as I was concerned, there wasn't one). Given my natural state of mind, I'll see the negatives, spot the rain cloud surrounding the silver linings, and always, always note not only is the glass half-empty (if that), it's also a dirty glass and there's a chip in the rim. I'm a natural for disaster planning, because I'm automatically looking on the bleak side of life, and preparing for the worst to happen. As a job skill, it's probably invaluable if I can just get into the correct field.
However, as a life-long habit, it sucks rocks through a straw. So I decided what I needed to do was start noticing when things went right, and writing those down, if need be. I tried it for a bit back in June, and it seemed to help - certainly it's harder to think everything in your life is going wrong if you have a list of things which went right. However, the notebook I was using in June for this was my general "stuff" notebook (the one I started up as an adjunct to my memory, which is starting to get a bit spotty as I get older), and I found I was forgetting to write things down each day.
So, in September, I bought another notebook, and designated this as my specific "What Went Right" notebook. At present, I only have one rule: I have to write down at least three things every day which went right, or were good about each day. No maximum number, but a minimum of three per day. I haven't missed a day yet (although I'll admit there are some days when I filled in the three things from the day before early in the morning of the next day), and looking back over the book, it makes for interesting reading. On days where I know I'm going to be stressed, I'll tend to keep the book with me, and fill in things as soon as I notice them.
I'm finding it does help with the depression, because I'm deliberately looking for the positive things, and for the things which went right, and writing them down when I spot them. It's harder to focus on the negatives when I'm looking for the positives - and it's harder to forget the positive things when I've written them down for future reference.
What this doesn't do: it doesn't change my underlying mood. If I'm miserable, I'm still going to be miserable, but I have to find at least three things during the course of even the most miserable day that went right - even if it's just something as simple as "I got out of bed"; "I ate something"; or "I didn't kill myself (or anyone else) today". (There're quite a few entries which basically consist of "the weather is horrible, but I'm not outside in it")
What this does do: it encourages me to recognise the things which went right, or the little things which were good about the day, even on days when things are absolutely catastrophically horrible. (There're at least a couple of entries which are me putting a good face on frustrating things which happened on a particular day; things like "my employment services provider did see me, eventually" or "found the limitations of the Centrelink appointments system").
Why I think this works for me: I'm fond of practical things I can do to deal with my condition (and I'm sorry, but referring to it in such a manner makes me think of the old codger in the Avengers speaking to Bruce Banner - "Son, you got a condition!" - which always makes me grin). The goal is easy to reach (a minimum of three things per day that went right, or that were good about the day). There's only the one rule (I have to put down at least three positive things or things which went right per day) and it's an easy one to stick with, even on the worst days. No rules about what counts as positive, or what counts as going right - it's a day by day decision.
I don't know whether anyone else will find this helpful. But I know it helps me, so I'm putting it out there as something which might help others. The notebook I'm using is a little A6 sized spiral-bound "Colour Hide" one (with a bright shrieking pink cover), and I'm keeping my place with an elastic band around the unused pages.
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Falling off the Internet (again)
Just a quick update: I'm moving house tomorrow, and we may not have internet at the new place for another 2 - 3 weeks after that (why it might take 2 - 3 weeks to update some switches and hubs is beyond me; presumably the network admin at the ISP is a busy bunny and can't spare the Copious Free Time to add new users). So, if you don't hear from me, that's why.
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US Government Shutdown - The way I see it (as an Australian, and a student of Computer Science)
Your government is like your operating system for your country. Now, there are a lot of different OSen out there, some better suited to their purpose than others. The US government is basically a very old, very buggy version of RepresentativeDemocracy (RepDem) 1.51, complicated by the problem that you haven't been applying upgrades for a long, long while (I think the last attempt to patch the US OS was the Equal Rights Amendment patch, and it got rejected by the buggy hardware even though the majority of the programs running on the system support it, as well as it being a major requirement for a lot of world networking). Basically, your country is running on a fairly old and buggy legacy system.
(By comparison: The UK is running some kind of bastard hacked-together hybrid of Monarchy 3.5 and Westminster 1.314; Australia is running Washminster XP; France is on Republic 5.0; and New Zealand is trying some sort of Linux-derivative thing called MMP 1.0)
Your system has currently wedged. One misfiring process has managed to wedge the entire system such that nothing is capable of happening. Your country is currently sitting there with the blue screen of death blinking at them, showing a large amount of hexadecimal gobbledegook, which is only really useful to a constitutional lawyer or other such systems architect. Some of the less major processes (the ones running the display etc) are still running behind the scenes, because they're handled by separate data paths, and don't need access to the CPU to operate. But the majority of functionality is gone. For ordinary users, a reboot would fix this - switch the whole system off, replace some of the defective components in the hardware, and restart. Unfortunately, the OS controls the power supply (which is really poor design, by the way) and since the OS is wedged, you're not able to even partially reboot until a scheduled outage in 2014.
My guess, as a former tech support type, is that your system appears to have a serious viral infection - it looks like you have a serious infestation of all of the neo-Con group of viruses, ranging from Objectivism, through (g)libertarianism. Gods, you've even got anti-Communist hysteria running on there, and that's a really ancient one which doesn't even RUN on most systems these days - it's been obsolete since about the mid-nineties. This is causing the system to hang when you attempt to install a working anti-virus program (your current anti-virus isn't working; it's been corrupted by the neo-Con viruses to the point where the OS doesn't supply necessary resources to a lot of programs in order to prevent virus infection).
Ideally, you need to restart your system in safe mode, install an up-to-date anti-virus program, scan your entire system to root out or at least quarantine the Neo-Con viruses, including that really weird "NRA" variant you have in there, and then restart things gradually, to see whether you've rooted out the worst of the problem.
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