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State of the Meg... the New 'Puter Edition.

So, last night, around 9pm, my computer decided to die on me. I have a 1500 word lab report due tomorrow. I have a 2000 word essay due Wednesday, and a 12 part online quiz that needs to be taken before then. So I'm sure you'll understand why I had a bit of a meltdown as a result. We're not sure precisely what died on the old 'puter - my guess is it's either the hard drive or the battery or the power systems. All I know is that when I try to boot the silly thing, it bleeps, switches itself off, switches itself back on again, the CD drive whirs, and then it fails to boot at all. Gave me an IRQL Less than or equal, but of course that vanished before I could actually note anything sensible off it too.

Anyway, Himself offered his spare laptop as a substitute. Problem is, his spare laptop hasn't actually had Windows activated on it yet - he's been sitting with it running non-stop for a couple of months without actually doing anything useful about this. Can we say "no help whatsoever" kiddies? I knew we could.I

Cue meltdown.

I begged a couple of minutes on Himself's PC in order to write up some very rapid emails to a couple of unit coordinators, basically explaining that ohshit, the PC had died, but I was pretty certain I still had all the data I needed, but ummm, I might not be able to get everything in on time, so sorry.

Then this morning, I did some fast research (again, via Himself's computer) and headed down to J&B HiFi down in Rockingham, where I picked up the new computer. J&B won out over Dick Smith because the J&B website actually has all the computers organised by PRICE - so I could see they had a good solid range of options available in my price point, as well as having a lot of possibilities to choose from.

Meet Orac, folks. He's a 15" Samsung laptop, with a nice schmick "no messy fingerprints" case and all the latest and greatest bits and pieces (plus go-faster stripes on the graphics card, if what the salesdude told me is correct - I just walked in there with a list of requirements, a budget, and a bad case of "gotta get this fixed NOW!"). I lucked out - J&B were having a sale, so I got him 15% cheaper. But the name is deliberate. Orac here is small and pretty, has heaps of power under the hood, and blinkenlights galore. He's also cranky, bossy, and determined to be in charge of everything.

I spent most of the day doing the standard install and reboot polka as I found drivers and software and you name it for all my various bits and pieces again, and then I spent the afternoon getting to work on the various assessment items I had to work on. But I couldn't do anything online, because for reasons only known to Orac and Himself, while Orac could see the household network, it couldn't see the internet. So that had to wait for Himself to get home (he knows where the pitfalls are with regard to the household network; I don't. So I don't touch it).

Anyway, now I'm in the process of recreating my previous Firefox setup, and recreating about six to eight years worth of flippin' bookmarks as well (because guess what *was* on the hard drive of the old PC?). If I owe you email, it'll have to wait until I get Thunderbird sorted out.

I love my life, really I do.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/27318.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: frazzled frazzled
Where Meggy's Brane Am Today

There are times when I regret having picked up the psychology units. Now is one of them, mostly because last week's lectures and tutorial discussion for the "Intro to Psychology" unit were about what used to be called "abnormal psychology" - mental illness, the way it's diagnosed and treated and so on. So there was a lot of rather triggering stuff in there, and even though I'm pretty used to dealing with this sort of thing, it does rather back up the mental sewers, so to speak.

One of the key bits which stuck with me was the rendition of the behaviourist perspective on what depression was: a form of "learned helplessness", in reaction to a series of situations in which the person is receiving near constant stress and mental pain, and is unable to alter their circumstances in order to prevent or alter this. Now, this is both a good thing and a bad thing. It's a good thing, in that it basically points out that the depressive reaction is far from being stupid and insensible - in fact, this theory points out that under the circumstances, depression is the only damn thing possible. It stops being a sign of weakness, and instead becomes a wholly sensible and reasonable reaction to the situation - and just being able to see the depression in that light is a Good Thing. It's a not-so-good thing because it got me thinking about what the circumstances could have been in my lifespan to trigger things.

Then along came another article (this one being one I found via the HaT linkspam post) which pointed me at a possible set of triggering circumstances: twelve years of school bullying. Now, this may not seem like much, but it pretty much fits the method for the learned helplessness reaction pretty damn closely: take your subject, put them in uncomfortable circumstances, and make damn certain the subject is aware that no matter what action they take, the uncomfortable circumstances aren't going to go away. In my case, this was school - and it quickly became clear to me that no matter what action I took, the bullies weren't going to stop, and nobody was going to take my side in things - not the teachers, not my parents, not my peers, nobody. Also, there was no way known to mankind my parents were going to pull me out of school just because I was being bullied. So I learned the only thing I could do was endure.

Now, I'm not saying that school bullying was the sole and only factor in my becoming the depressed adult I am today. I grew up with two parents who were both depressed, and at least three out of my four grandparents had depressive patches in their lives, not to mention most of my relations. So there's a strong familial culture of depression, and not that many options for learning non-depressive patterns of thought and action. I suspect there's also a genetic factor, one which responded to a hormonal trigger, because I know that things got a lot worse very abruptly around the time my periods started. So it's likely I would have been prone to depression even if I'd been a popular kid in school, rather than the designated target. What I am saying is that twelve years of school bullying didn't really equip me with any alternative mental strategies for dealing with negative situations other than getting miserable and staying there.

So I'm currently wading through all this (and yeah, I'm weepy as I write this, catharsis is annoying). It comes complete with flashbacks to the worst moments (courtesy of memory pulling these things out to do their turn on the stage of the Grand Old Embarrassing Recollection) and lots of buried pain. Meanwhile, I'm also supposed to be writing an essay for the subject in question, and a lab report for a different psych subject, and the old brain is basically saying "fsck this shit" the whole damn way. All I'm wanting to do is drop my bundle and sleep for a day or so. It's 11.15am, I'm supposed to be diving out the door to go to uni in two minutes, and even after a cup of coffee my get up and go just hasn't got up at all. So I think I'm going to be skipping today's lecture and tutorial, because quite frankly, I'm just not feeling capable of dealing with anything.

Time to indulge the inner three-year-old and her fit of the "don't wannas". Maybe tomorrow I'll be all grown up about things. Right now, though, I think I need a blankie and a hot drink and lots of sulking time.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/27083.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

location: Not at uni
Current Mood: depressed depressed
Back to Uni and Daft Things I've Done Recently

This semester, I've decided to pick up a couple of psychology units, because I'm interested in tacking social psychology (or indeed any psychology) onto the side of my computer science degree as a way of making things a bit more interesting. I figure the computer science will teach me the what and how when it comes to dealing with computers, while the psychology side I'm picking up in an effort to try and figure out why they've become the sort of mega-meta-tool they are now.

So I'm up to week two, attempting to recover from the massive kick in the hip pocket I've taken by purchasing my textbooks (two subjects, textbooks coming to the better part of $300, we're on the dole... oh well, I didn't need to eat anyway), and attempting to keep up with the reading. Thanks be to the gods I'm only studying part-time, since that means I have two days a week where I can pretty much devote my time to things like setting up a decent meal in the slow cooker, then spend the entire day scribbling down notes.

Today, however, I am functioning on approximately 5 hours sleep, if that. Why? Well, through an interesting concatenation of circumstances last night, I wound up browsing my way through my LiveJournal archive. It was interesting seeing where I'd been (I was also digging through old posts on fanficrants, because I can't for the life of me remember what I did there - it was over five years and two computers ago, and I've long since lost the email archives which record these things), but I got so distracted that before I knew it, it was 2am, and I realised I needed to get some sleep. I set the alarm to wake me for 7am, and I'm now drinking my first cup of coffee in months before I get back to writing notes from the textbook for one of my subjects for the next couple of hours before diving out the door to go to today's lecture and tutorial.

I think when I get home tonight, it's going to be a case of "dig out some frozen leftovers from the freezer" (the slow cooker is a godsend, because I can cook up large meals, serve up some of them, freeze the rest, and save myself from having to try and think about cooking on my Uni days), have dinner, and then collapse and sleep. Particularly since I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow at 7.30am (because that way I'll hopefully get in before my GP has had a chance to get massively behind in her schedule).

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/25382.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: tired tired
USAlien Privilege - Unpacking an Online Knapsack

This is something which has been coming out of a bit of reflecting I've been doing about online culture, and about privilege and the nature of it. One of the more esoteric forms of privilege is what I'll call "USAlien Privilege".

I should define my terms. A USAlien (to coin a phrase) is a citizen of the United States of America who has never been required in their ordinary lifetime to deal on a day-to-day basis with anyone from a different cultural background to their own, or to interact on a regular basis with anyone who isn't a fellow citizen of the United States of America. (Fellow alumni of alt.fan.pratchett would probably recognise the term "Merkin" as a synonym).

USAliens tend to conduct themselves as though there is no other way of doing anything aside from the way that it's done in TheirTown, USA, and will also tend to regard any suggestion that other ways of doing things either exist, or might possibly be preferred by persons not living in the USA as either utter falsehood, heresy against any extant deity, or at worst, utter treachery (optional subtype: communist/socialist). They do not understand cultural references to anything other than the hegemonic aspects of US culture, and will tend to regard such references with suspicion at best, outright scorn at worst. Their knowledge of other cultures is rudimentary, to say the very least, but they will expect persons who have never lived in the USA to have a level of knowledge of US culture equivalent to their own (if not greater).

It's a frequently encountered form of online privilege, because the USAlien will automatically assume that they have the right to have everything repeatedly explained to them (often in tedious detail) rather than engaging in any active learning of their own. As a member of a non-USAlien culture, a person from outside the United States of America will be expected to supply this knowledge, in convenient bite-sized chunks, without query, and without any expectation of having any of the oddities of US culture explained in return.

Some little manifestations of USAlien privilege which can be highly annoying to those of us who aren't US citizens:

* The whole "everything revolves around the USA" mindset.
* "Everyone shares our holidays"
* "Our politics are the world's politics"
* "Our issues are the world's issues"
* Actually, the whole "we are the world" mindset in general is highly annoying, to be honest.
* "If it's done this way here, it's because this is the One Right Way of doing things".
* Historical context? Wot dat?
* If it isn't happening in this particular USAlien's back yard, it isn't happening anywhere.
* The entire circular gospel of US Exceptionalism (The United States of America is a special case because they are The United States of America because they are Special because...)
* Moderation is for wimps - everything happens at the extremes
* The idea of supplying an external frame of reference (for example, for timezone-specific data) just Doesn't Occur.

It all gets a bit wearing, to be honest. Particularly since, as per the standard rules of argument vs Privilege, the less privileged person is automatically In The Wrong the moment they point out either that the privilege exists, or that the privileged person is talking from a position of privilege. I can expect to have my own country and my own culture 'splained to me by USAliens (and never receive even so much as a "sorry" in response, should I take it upon myself to correct them) and be expected to take it without comment. I can expect (and have received) a screenful of abuse as a result of offering an alternative scenario to a rather esoteric aspect of US culture, and I will be expected, again, to take this without comment, and often to apologise to the person who is abusing me for having offended them through my ignorance.

If at times I seem to be a bit overly-aggressive in waving my (non-US) nationality around, it's because I've learned to do so as a way of preventing such abuse.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/23652.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: awaiting the incoming bombs
Another Very General Fanfic Rant.

So, you write male-male slashfic or yaoi. You're in the middle of writing something hot and heavy in third person (either third-person omniscient or third-person limited). You're referring to each of the characters with the pronoun "he" or "his" or "him".

Do you see a potential problem here?

Somewhat lurid hint below fold )

Can we say "subject-object confusion", kiddies? I knew we could.

Again, character names are useful things. They can prevent your readers from having to be jolted out of the moment by mental images of anatomy which just does not work like that.

(This rant brought to you by entirely too many slashfics where it seems the only way to determine what is being done with which to whom by whom is by backing up and re-reading the paragraph, maybe about three or four times.)

PS: Same rule/problem applies for female-female slash or yuri, just different pronouns. Please, just use the character's names.
PPS: This goes double or treble when you're dealing with more than two characters of the same pronoun-using gender in the same sexual act.
PPPS: Yes, this does still apply when one of the participants has tentacles.
PPPPs: It's also nice to see character names in het, too, particularly when gender games are being played.

[1] Not an actual quote, just a sentence made up on the spot to demonstrate the problem. Now, tell me which one of the characters is moaning, and why?

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/22583.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
Current Music: The neighbour's lawnmower
A Very Generalised Fanfiction Rant

Okay, this is very general, it isn't aimed at anyone in specific. This is just me getting something off my chest so I don't damn well explode.

Characters have names for a reason. Use them.

Seriously, if I see many more fics where the various characters are referred to by their height, their hair colour, their age, their gender or anything else other than their blinkin' names, I'm going to go potty.

This rant brought to you by far too many fanfics wherein Cloud Strife is described as "the blond(e)" and entirely too many where people try to coin new words to describe the hair colours of Sephiroth and Zack.

(also cross-posted in [community profile] fanficrants on Dreamwidth)

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/21420.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
A brief comment on the chest cold and cough I appear to have picked up

It sucks. I hurt. Could it please go away right now, kthanxbye?

[A slightly longer comment: I've been coughing now for about three days, my chest aches, and I really didn't need to wind up with a trapped nerve in my right arm overnight just to add to the fun. Feeling very sore and very sorry for myself, but not emphasising this because Himself has been barking away for about two weeks straight with this while attempting to carry out his job and find us new rental accommodation. I may not be dead, but boy, it's starting to sound like a fun alternative at this point.]

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/19458.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

location: Agony
Current Mood: sick sick
Suffice it to say...

House hunting sucks rocks through a straw.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/19223.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: distressed distressed
Responsibility

The scandal over the phone message data theft in the UK is terrible, and one of the questions which is being asked is "who is responsible?". Who is responsible for this terrible thing happening? Who should take the blame? Who should we punish?

Well, from one angle, the Murdoch family and their News Corporation bear at least some of the responsibility, for creating a news climate where such things can happen, where they can be tried, and where they can be covered up with such success that the true depth of the scandal is only starting to become visible five or six years later. This means everyone in the chain, all the way up from the first journalist to pay the PI for information, right the way through the corporate hierarchy to Rupert Murdoch himself. They profited from the misery of others, and they haven't paid the price. Some of the responsibility is theirs.

From another angle, some of the responsibility lies with the advertisers, who are always seeking the ideal vessel to purvey their product - they want something which will attract a lot of people to see or hear their ads, but they don't want their precious product associated with anything bad. So the advertisers play their part in this, through demanding both the high circulation that the News of the World achieved, and through also demanding the cover-up of sources, and the hiding of illegal behaviour. They were willing to accept the high circulation figures, without asking what was done in the name of achieving this circulation. So some of the responsibility is theirs, also.

From a further angle, there's the responsibility of the telephone companies to provide education and data security for their users. In a large part, the crime of hacking into the message databases was caused by the lack of knowledge on the part of people who owned phones - they didn't know the pass-code existed, didn't know they could use it, didn't know they could alter it. So the pass-codes were left at their default. A simple procedural change, such as ensuring that the account was locked to external access should the user not attempt this within a month of opening their account, would have secured the vast mass of this data. That there was a back-door left not only unlocked, but practically gaping wide open, is not decent data security. So the phone companies bear some responsibility, too.

The journalists who paid for the stolen data bear responsibility, because they knew this data wasn't coming from kosher sources. They knew they weren't respecting the privacy of the people involved. They knew they were effectively breaking the spirit of the law, if not the actual letter of the law, by using this data in order to create their stories. They knew they were encouraging further breaches of the law by paying for the data.

The private eye who figured out how to hack into the phone message banks, and then sold on the data to the News of the World, also bears responsibility, as the one who committed the crime. According to reports, he was paid 100,000 UKP for his services.

There's the politicians who permitted the Murdoch family to purchase so much of the world's news infrastructure (the world's largest news gathering organisation is a privately owned family company). There's the police, who didn't understand the magnitude of the crime when it was presented to them (not to mention the police who were bribed into silence). There's the various managements and journalists of other news organisations, who let their concerns about their own profitability over-ride their interest in the privacy and rights of the people they purport to represent. All of these people are responsible, and all of them will probably be mentioned in articles regarding the whole scandal.

But there's one responsible group the news media won't mention. One group who will be allowed to skate by scot free. One group who won't ever be expected to look their responsibility in the face and name it for what it is. And that's us.

If you've ever bought a newspaper, if you've ever clicked on a link to a news site, if you've ever listened to news radio, or watched the news on television, you bear some responsibility for this as well.

As viewers, listeners, readers, we create the demand for news articles. As viewers, listeners and readers, we've fed the Murdoch machine, given it the money it needed to create a monolithic view of the way news "should" be, a monolithic view of "what sells newspapers, what sells advertising space". We have allowed our news to become tawdry, cheap, nasty, vicious, invasive, insensitive. We have allowed this, because we haven't spoken up and said no. We have allowed this because we've purchased the products the advertisers sell. We have allowed this because we've bought the papers, listened to the radio stations, clicked the links, watched the programs, bought the magazines. We have allowed this, we have facilitated this, by demanding more and more and more and more from the news media; by not criticising it enough; by continuing to feed the maw.

If you feel sickened by the actions of the News of the World; if you feel angry about the actions of the Murdoch family; if you feel self-righteous about the way the advertisers are fleeing the sinking ship, remember: we asked for it.

We asked for it. Now we have it.

Maybe we should start asking for something different.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/18706.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
Memo

To: The anonymous nitwit who left the one-line comment on my IJ fic archive
From: Me

I don't particularly disagree with your sentiment, numbnuts. What I disagree with is your choice of venue for posting same, your choice of anonymity as a vector, and your use of my fic archive page as your personal bulletin board. If you want to be saying that sort of thing to all and sundry, get a fucking blog of your own.

If it was meant as a personal message, you need to check out my back history a bit further. Christian, I ain't.

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/17541.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
Achievements for the Week

Meds: 6/7

Didn't take them yesterday, but then, yesterday was a crap day all round.

Jobsearch: 2/10

Okay, definitely falling down on this one. Managed it just fine on Monday, but then Tuesday I had my counselling appointment at PVS, and Wednesday I had an interview for a position offered by Hays. It was the interview which threw everything out the window. The interview turned out not to be for any actual position which might have paid wages. Instead, I was being interviewed for a position on the list of people Hays might be interested in actually finding jobs for - so the ad was effectively burley thrown into the water to attract the fish.

This made me angry. Very angry. Part of the reason I was so angry was because in order to attend an interview of about twenty minutes duration at 1pm (I'd originally asked for a 9am interview, but had to be rescheduled), I had to effectively put the entire day "on hold". I needed to dress up, put on decent "interview" quality clothes (of a quality which would be appropriate for the weather), catch a bus and a train into town, find their office and attend the interview, then repeat the entire process in reverse. All of which consumed resources, both monetary and psychological, that I didn't really have in large supply. I can accept this when there's a prospect of an actual paying job at the other end, because the job offers the chance of maybe getting at least some of the monetary resources returned to me. But to do all that for a "job" which never existed in the first place just strikes me as futile, and the whole process seems incredibly cruel. Add to this that I'm not really allowed to express my anger with the whole thing then and there (on penalty of finding myself unable to ever find work through this contracting firm) but instead had to effectively "suck it, swallow, and smile, bitch!" the whole way through...

I spent Thursday feeling irritable (for no particular reason), and yesterday I spent dealing with firstly an eruption of generalised anger at just about everything, then coping with the aftermath of this eruption (namely, feeling thoroughly depressed and hopeless). Today I'm still recovering.

Knitting: 7/7

I got slightly behind on this over Tuesday and Wednesday, but caught it all up on Thursday. Current length is 101cm, which means I'm about half way complete on this first half (1/4 of the way through the whole project). I've started reading my way through "Innocents Abroad" by Mark Twain (I have the Project Gutenberg ebook version) as a way of keeping myself going on the whole thing.

I've also set up a way of keeping track of what I've done so far - just a tick-off page for everything I need to do each day as a way of keeping up with my goals. It looks a bit like this (I've copied down the entries for the next few days)

p185 SUN 1 2 3 4 5 M
MON 1 2 3 4 5 M J J
TUE 1 2 3 4 5 M J J

The page number is a note of where I'm up to in the e-book. Then there's the day, the 5 rows (tick each one off as I complete it) and a note for the meds. On weekdays, there's the two jobs per day. At least this way I'll be able to keep track of things. Once classes start up again, I'll substitute in either lectures or tutorials for one of the job efforts (So Mondays will have "L J", as will Wednesdays, while Tuesdays will have "L T").

This entry was originally posted at http://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/16915.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Current Mood: flat flat
Female, Middle-Aged Gamer Speaks

http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-6-most-ominous-trends-in-video-games/

Just read through that one, and yeah, I agree with the author: the range of games available is decreasing by the year. I've been playing various computerised games for years now (since I was about fifteen or so) and quite honestly, the console gaming range these days is pathetic compared to even the variety available five years ago. Ditto the range available for PC gamers.

This is becoming a common problem across multiple media, where the amount of money required to provide content means the investors are less and less willing to take risks with what they have, so they're only willing to provide a new version of something that's already been proven to have worked. Their justification for this is "everyone liked it". There isn't any money being spent on the smaller, niche markets - instead, colossal amounts are being poured into efforts to capture the eyeballs of the One True Demographic (which appears to be 15 - 25 year old, white, middle-class, suburban, heterosexual, Christian-raised, American males).

The rest of us, unfortunately, get to spend our lives looking through shelf after shelf of what "everyone likes", searching vainly for something even vaguely different to the endless loop of FPS; FPS; oh look another FPS; and gee, did you realise there was an FPS here? We're never asked whether we might want something different. (See multiple previous rants re: choice of salt-and-vinegar crisps or vinegar-and-salt crisps when what I'm actually looking for is barbecue flavour.)

Why I'm not interested in online or 3D gaming )

If there's a game company exec out there browsing around haphazardly, looking for inspiration, here's what I want out of a game (and even though I may be a rare bird as a 40 year old heterosexual, female, Australian gamer, I'm not the only one):

* I want a good story - something that catches me and keeps me interested. Give me plot twists, give me character interaction, give me a reason to keep playing the godsdamned game past the first five minutes and the second cutscene. If you're not sure how to do this, get hold of the writers for the Final Fantasy series and ask them, because they certainly have it down to a fine art. Bioware also appear to have writers who can tell the difference between a plot and a hole in the ground.
* I want gameplay which is consistent. There are four buttons on the average console, and I'd prefer to be just using those. I should not have to remember the equivalent of the emacs macro set (look it up) in order to be able to defeat the second mini-boss.
* I want gameplay which accepts that not everyone is a hyperactive teenager hopped up to the eyeballs on caffeine and energy drinks with the reflexes of a greased ferret on crystal meth. My visual processing and verbal processing are slower than average to start with - they're only going to slow down more as I get older (and I'm part of Generation X, the first gamer generation). So have stuff which doesn't rely on pinpoint pixel perfect accuracy, or exact timing, because otherwise I'll get fed up and switch the game out.
* Oh, on that "growing older" thing, and the slower-than-average verbal processing speed - give me subtitles, and give me a way to turn off the fucking background music (for verily, background music on constant repeat is the number two reason why I'll give up on a game; no subtitles is number one these days, because I don't like trying to guess my way through games).
* Make the game in third person perspective (Third person omniscient if at all possible). I'm one of those weird people who finds First Person perspective (whether shooting or not) makes me nauseous. I get motion sick, because my eyes are telling me I'm moving, but my body is busy saying I'm sitting right there on the couch. I had enough of motion sickness as a kid for a very similar reason (scenery says I'm moving, body says I'm strapped into a seat in the car) to find the combination distasteful. Given the opportunity to avoid it, I will.
* Give me the option not to have to hear about online/multiplayer content if I don't want it. This is something I'm finding slightly annoying in games like Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Little Big Planet - there's such an emphasis on the online stuff that I feel somewhat left out because my PSP doesn't connect to our household wireless network (not a deliberate choice on my part; rather an inadvertent choice on the part of my partner, who opted for a secure network rather than one the PSP could participate in). So I don't play those games much.
* Have a pause function in the game. I'm female, and most of the time I'm the only person home. This means I have to be able to put the game on hold while I do things like answer the door, go to the loo, answer the phone or stir dinner. If there isn't an easy way to put the game on hold (even if it's just ducking into character menu mode), I'm going to get annoyed fairly quickly.
* Don't worry so much about making the next version of whatever everyone else is busy selling. If we want any of the famous franchises, we know where to find them. To be honest, the only franchise I'm really all that sold on is the Final Fantasy one - because they very rarely make sequels. Instead, each new FF number is a completely different plot, a different set of characters, a different world to every other Final Fantasy game. Most of them are mediaeval-style worlds, but there's a few futuristic dystopias thrown in there (FFVII, FFVIII, FFXIII) and the characters from one Final Fantasy plotline generally don't interact with characters from another (Dissidia is a special case of pure fan service, ditto the Kingdom Hearts games).
* Oh, here's a thought: have the guts to try risking a tragedy on the market. Not everything has to end all happy and smiley. Take a hint from Square Soft (now Square Enix) - their big breakthrough game for the English-speaking market was a tragedy: Final Fantasy VII. (No, really, the plot of FFVII is a revenge tragedy of a type which wouldn't have been out of place on the Jacobean stage).

What's On Meg's Consoles, and Why )

Basically, my preferences can be summed up thus:

* If you're going to give me a story, give me a flamin' story. Make it long, make it convoluted, make it tricky to understand - if I'm playing the game to get through the story, I'll come back and play it again to catch the bits I missed the first time (I re-read books for the same reason...). Of course, make sure that the vital plot points are made clear, but the little subtleties can be skipped over.
* If you're not going to give me a story, then give me something I can make a story out of myself - even if the story is just "How I beat the crap out of this next opponent". But don't give me a story which is so scanty it puts some of the costumes on the female characters to shame.
* If you're going to offer eye candy, have some which is suitable for a het female (or maybe even a gay male) to ogle as well. Yes, most of the gamerbois out there won't like it. Did I mention I'm not a gamerboi? It might just be worth doing a little market research and finding out precisely which proportion of the electronic gaming market these days is composed of members of the One True Demographic (see above for description) - I've a feeling they're a smaller proportion than they think they are.

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Current Mood: irritated irritated
In Recovery

Started 31 MAY 2011

As those of you who've read the piece below this know, I got rather majorly triggered today. As a result, I'm currently attempting to recover from it, and regain some of my mental balance. For those who don't know what it feels like to have been there, feel free to read on. For those who have been triggered before, I should provide a warning: I'm going to be discussing the aftermath of being triggered, and it may be triggering in and of itself.

Potentially triggering stuff below )

Overall, I'm recovering. It's not an easy process, and it's certainly not a fun one, but it's a process and it's ongoing.

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location: The usual
Current Mood: recovering recovering
Bullying: It's Not Just For Primary School

Parents welcome ruling on bullying victim's suicide

The article I link to above is about a determination by a coroner in Victoria that a young man who killed himself had done so as a result of being bullied. It's an interesting enough article, and it raises some interesting issues about bully culture as it surrounds people.

It ends with a note that "If you are experiencing difficulties with bullying contact Lifeline on 13 11 14."

And I started to weep, because I'm a bullying survivor.

I was bullied by my peers, socially and emotionally, for twelve years. I was taunted, teased, degraded, abused, stalked, and pushed constantly throughout primary school and high school. I survived it, but mainly because I grew up in a family which had a strong history of chronic depression, and thus had a strong intra-family cultural taboo on suicide, self-harm, or any other form of behaviour which might bring the family to the attention of the authorities. Keep your head down, suck it up, and see whether you can fly under their radar; that's the family mantra.

I grew up thinking there had to be something inherently wrong with me, something which made those other children pick on me, something which made me a target. I grew up learning from my age peers the "normal" response to my existence was either outright aggression, masked aggression, or just outright denial of my humanity. If I had any friends at all, they were mistakes, errors, only putting up with me because they were outcasts too. If someone was being friendly to me, it wasn't going to last. If someone had my back, it was only so they could stick a knife in it more effectively. I grew up knowing this had to be the case, because if it wasn't... well, if it wasn't this meant that people were getting away with being deliberately cruel to me, for no other reason than "because they could". Easier to believe in my own inappropriateness than to believe in generalised acceptance of malice.

Bullying broke me.

I don't trust people even now. I particularly don't trust other women (and if you're a "popular" woman, you're going to have a lot of trouble winning even the slightest particle of trust from me, because I spent too many years being the target of the malice of the popular girls in school), I don't trust good-looking men, I don't trust people who have any sort of power over me, and I don't trust people who say they're my peers. I live my life on the lookout for the next knife in my back, the next attack out of the dark. I shadowbox my way through relationships. The closer a person gets to me, the more danger I'm in.

I expect to be bullied as a default state these days. It was the cause of a near-breakdown in my second year of university study, because I was so strung-out waiting for the other shoe to drop... prior to starting uni I'd never been in any educational environment where I hadn't been subject to some form of bullying, where picking on me because I was there hadn't been just an accepted part of the day.

I still wear the target on my soul. I found that out when I got my first full-time job in the public service, and was put in the charge of a manager who proceeded to play mind games, most likely with the deliberate intent of breaking me down. That job brought me as close as I've ever been to actual suicide, and I can still recall the absolute despair I felt at the thought of having to endure something like that all day, every day, for the rest of my life. The only reason I'm still here now is because my instinct for self-preservation overrode my lower-middle class upbringing (and led me to quit the job with no idea at all what I was going to do next). What that experience did for me was reinforced the half-understood lesson of my university days - that what had happened to me for twelve years of schooling wasn't a result of "kids being kids".

This is important: children don't bully because they're children. Bullies bully because they're allowed to get away with it, and they don't "grow out of" their bullying behaviours. They keep at it for as long as they're able, and they'll leave a trail of victims behind them. Oh, and they generally don't see themselves as doing anything harmful, either. They were "just having a bit of a joke" or "taking care" of their victim, or carrying out their actions "in the interests" of their victim.

I've never actually called Lifeline. I don't think they'd be interested in what I have to say. I doubt calling them would change anything, and it won't make the pain I still carry go away. I'm broken, and I doubt I'll ever be able to be fixed. I can paper over the cracks, I can pretend I'm functional, but underneath, there's still the little girl who doesn't understand why people are being so nasty to her without any reason. She's crying, and she's probably going to keep crying for the rest of my life.

My name is Meg, and I'm a bullying survivor.

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location: In tears
Current Mood: triggered triggered
On My 40th Birthday I...

Washed up the dishes (and cleared the backlog of dirty dishes, yay!)
Collected the junk mail delivery from the driveway, read it, and dumped it all in the recyling box
Thought about making a chocolate mud cake (and decided to put it off for a bit)
Told the local JWs I wasn't interested in a copy of the Watchtower (or whichever publication God is pressing them to sell at present)
Brought in the washing from the clothesline
Added a few more cookbooks worth of data to my ongoing list of "recipes I'd like to try".
Noodled around on the internet a little
Answered a phone call

(really glamorous way to spend the day, huh?)

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Current Mood: pensive pensive
Holy Crap! I Found My Desk...

And the kitchen table. And the receipt for the new printer and the expansion drive which didn't work. And a whole heap of paperwork from the past three years.

The thing which triggered all of this was installing a new printer (well, all-in-one device really - it scans and it prints and it photocopies and although it doesn't fax things, it's connected to a computer with an internet connection, so it can perform the equivalent of faxing too) and discovering that the only place I had where the printer would actually fit on my desk was (at that point) covered with an ever-increasing stack of paperwork. So, I got the printer installed (and working very nicely, thank you) and then realised I really had to do something about the piles and piles and piles of stuff which had been occupying the space on my desk where the printer had been. Mostly because it was now occupying the space on the kitchen table where the eating spaces had been, and I really did want to sit down and enjoy a proper dinner at some point in the next couple of days.

So, I decided to get started by clearing a bit of space to put down my little hand-crank shredder (handles 2 pages at a time, and is also capable of chewing through credit cards and CDs) and started shredding all the obvious crap as it all came to hand. End result (before I got bored) was two plastic bags of hamster bedding. Then I pulled out the ring binder/portfolio I'd been using to store all my corro and stuff from a couple of years ago - it was a system which had worked for me right up to the point where I stopped being dilligent about it, at which point the backlog took over and it disappeared under the mess. So, pull out everything for the past couple of years from that, and grab three envelope-style folders from the storage cupboard - one for 2009, one for 2010, and one for 2011. The 2009 and 2010 stuff just got dumped into the folders, and the folders go into the filing cabinet for further action later. The 2011 stuff got put into the appropriate categories in the portfolio binder (and I wrote up a new index for this binder, so I can find what I'm looking for).

Meanwhile, I looked at a couple of file trays I had on top of the filing cabinet, and decided they could be re-used in a more constructive manner. One now has a pile of stuff in it which needs to be shredded - and a label saying "to shred". The other is currently empty, but there's a (smaller) pile of stuff to sort on top of the filing cabinet, and I figure I may as well use the capabilities of my nice new scanner to scan those things which I want to keep, but which I can't figure out a decent "away" for. So it has a label saying "to scan". My eventual aim is to get to and scan all the hundreds of recipe leaflets I've collected over the years, so I'll have a permanent record of them, and then I don't have to bloody well keep the silly things! Yay! More storage space!

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Current Music: Best of Queen (now on the HDD).
I Love Centrelink - Part 2

More on my ongoing argument with the Australian government regarding money. I was due to be paid this week. It was a public holiday on Monday, and there's usually a bit of a quirk or two about the way payments are processed on public holidays (it's still set up for the pre-computerised days, where you actually needed staff in the building to handle the transactions). So when I couldn't see any money in my account on Monday, I didn't curse or swear. I checked my account yesterday - still no money.

Now, this is where things get interesting. Being the logical creature I am, I decided to troop off down to the local Centrelink office to find out what the heck was going on. Well, it was a busy day yesterday - day after a public holiday, plus I think the computers might have gone down for a while fairly early on, since the queues were just about out the door when we got there, and hadn't really dropped much by the time we left about an hour or so later. I found out why they hadn't paid me, though - while my Newstart had been suspended, pending the processing of my Austudy claim, the claim hadn't been processed. They booked me in for a walk-in appointment, warning me it could be up to a 2 hour wait.

It wasn't. I think I might have waited about three-quarters of an hour. So that was one good thing, anyway.

When I finally got to see the CSO (Customer Service Officer) who was dealing with my case, I discovered the reason why my claim hadn't been processed. They'd lost it.

No, really. They had lost my claim.

Now, I'd handed in this claim form in person, at the same office I was talking to about the whole issue, about three weeks previously. I had given it to one of their staff. She'd presumably put it into the internal mail, and sent it off to be processed by whoever the Austudy experts are (and wherever they are). And somewhere in all of that, the whole thing had somehow got lost.

The end result is I have to submit a whole new claim form (complete with proof of ID and enough bits and pieces of evidence to sink a small battleship) and start the whole process again. If I'm lucky, they'll backdate my payment, so I get paid for the time spent waiting for the whole shemozzle to process.

Remind me again why I wanted to go back to university. I keep forgetting.

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Current Mood: totally gobsmacked totally gobsmacked
Meg answers the "But Don't You Know You're Fat?" trolls

(Prompted by this thread on Shakesville)

Yes, I'm fat. Yes, I know I'm fat. No, I don't give a damn about it.

Yes, I've tried dieting. Yes, I've tried lifestyle changes. I tried for ten years or so, and all they got me was an extra fifty kilos; a thyroid condition; dodgy knees; an aversion to exercise and clothes shopping; and a major blow to my self-esteem that I'm still recovering from some fifteen years later.

Yes, I've given up dieting and lifestyle changes. I came to the conclusion they didn't work for me, after the gain of those fifty kilos and the thyroid condition. When should I have given up, in your opinion?

Yes, I know being fat is a health risk. I may lose years off my life. Given I've had three out of my four grandparents survive into their nineties, I have to admit I'm not overly worried. Yes, I realise I'm talking from a position of privilege here - feel free to complain about the genetics which give me a likelihood of an extensive lifespan, just so long as you realise they're also the ones which gave me a metabolism which was ideally adapted to surviving for a long time on low food levels. The same metabolism which was only optimised by ten years of dieting (oops, sorry, "lifestyle changes") so it now runs for ages on the metabolic equivalent of the smell of an oily rag. Can't have the one without the other.

Yeah, my body shape is a type the fashion industry isn't designing for (I'm short, big-busted, small-shouldered, big-hipped, short-waisted and small-waisted). The fashion industry hates me. Boo-fucking-hoo. I'm so upset. Given I'm a geek, all I tend to want out of clothing is a decent pair of jeans or trousers with enough pockets for the things I want to carry around with me; some shirts which don't gape at the cleavage; a bra which doesn't drive me bats or try to pierce my armpits (no underwires, in other words); and knickers which don't try to ride up my bum crack. Oh, and a decent comfortable pair of flat shoes which are built around the assumption humans have five toes rather than three or four. I've found all these, and often multiple examples thereof.

Yes, I'm sure I could find heaps of clothes which would make me look sexier if I was a smaller clothing size. But that's working from the assumption I want to look sexy in the first place, when, to be honest, I don't give a damn. I have a partner who thinks I look sexy no matter what I'm wearing - this is a man who thinks I look gorgeous when I've just woken up, can barely focus, and have bed-hair from hell. He's the one who matters. Please to explain why I should give a damn what Joe Monaro in the car park thinks?

Yes, I have aches and pains which are probably connected with being fat. My knees ache, I have a dodgy ankle, and I have chronic depression. But, given diets Lifestyle Changes don't appear to work for me on the physical side, and have the lovely side effect of making the mental illness worse, there doesn't appear to be much I can do about it, does there?

Yes, I am aware a lot of people find fatness physically unattractive. That's their problem.

No, it's their problem. Not mine. I refuse to apologise for my existence. They think the world could be a better place without me, they can take it up with my parents. I certainly don't see it as my responsibility to change my physical self to fit their world view.

Nope, don't give a damn who else it is. I like me for me. My partner likes me for me. My family accepts me for me. The rest of the damn world can go tie itself in a knot.

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Current Mood: activist activist
Current Music: "Buses and Trains" - Bachelor Girl
I Love Centrelink.

I love Centrelink. Really, I do.

But sometimes, they make it extremely, agonisingly difficult to so much as like them. Like today, where I've received a lovely little note from them saying my unemployment benefit had been suspended pending enquiries regarding my eligibility. This effectively means I have no money coming in.

Now, I am well aware that the whole business revolves around the issue of which section of Centrelink's budget the money they will (hopefully) be paying me once again will be coming out of (I'm hopefully moving from Newstart - aka "the dole" - to Austudy). But a single-sentence letter saying my payment has been suspended, when I'm on the low end of a pay fortnight, and I am literally down to my last week's rent (I have $300 in my bank account - this will cover the cost of my share of the rent for next fortnight; after that I don't have any money at all) DOES NOT HELP THINGS at this end of the equation. Now I'm in a real tizzy about whether or not I'm actually going to be paid any money at all for the next fortnight, and what the hell I'm going to do if I'm not paid anything and what the hell I'm supposed to do to obtain the next instalment of the rent.

Okay, maybe I'm over-reacting, but the absolute terror that comes from realising I have no money and I have no way of getting any in a world which is very much geared toward needing money from people in order to acknowledge their very existence is very hard to overstate. Particularly since one of the number one nightmares I have, the really deep, existential fear which drives my very being, is a fear of vanishing completely from people's notice - slipping through the cracks in reality, perhaps.

I'm stressed, and I'll admit it. If I don't wind up getting onto Austudy; if I have to re-apply for Newstart, or worse still if my eligibility for either of those benefits is cut off and I'm regarded as being ineligible for both of them (for whatever reason) then I am genuinely without resources. The global financial crisis may not have hit Australia very hard, but it's hit our particular household hard enough that we are teetering constantly on the verge of bankruptcy, and we literally have no financial resources available to us. It's a stress I don't need, coming on top of a bundle of other stresses I didn't want.

[I'm having to write this in fits and starts, because if I stop and think about things too much, I'll wind up flooding my keyboard with tears, and at this stage I can't afford a new one.]

So for the rest of the day I'm going to sit tight, and try not to think too hard about any of this. I may have to sublimate a lot of the anxiety in a frenzy of washing dishes and cleaning the house, or gaming, or find some way of doing something to take my mind off things. Tomorrow I have my orientation day at uni, and I'm going to be absent from about 8 in the morning until I finally stumble home at about 10 past 5 in the evening. Hopefully by then I'll have received a nice letter telling me whether or not I'm getting Austudy. If not, I have a meeting with the nice man from CRS on Friday (to which I am going to have to scoot directly from the second uni orientation day, missing the social activities side of things... damnit) where I'll be able to get him onto the whole mess. After all, HE was the one who recommended I go back to uni. He can damn well earn his fucking keep.

Now, if you'll all excuse me, I'm going to pour myself a cup of tea, and try to convince myself that this will all work out in the end.

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Current Mood: pissed off pissed off
Well, that's my free time sorted for another year

I got a nice letter from the university I went and attacked dracolichs at on Monday. They said "yes, we'd love to see you here this year, here's a web address, now get cracking on your enrolment, O Week is next week!"

So I am now enrolled as a full-time student (I hope... I have a funny feeling that because I don't have to do a Foundation Unit[1] I may just be scraping in a little below the "full-time" course load radar). But I'll go along there tomorrow (bus and train again) and then over to the nice people at Centrelink some time soon (oh crap... I've just realised, the best time to go and talk to them would be NOW! before they get mixed messages from Murdoch, Transperth and everyone else they get information from, and decide on an Alexandrine solution to the whole Gordian mess by cutting off my payments altogether! Excuse me while I grab the phone...)

And having done that, I've discovered I can't actually sign up for their customer disservices online, because I don't have (wait for it) a receipt number from Centrelink for some time in the past eight weeks. I'm on delayed lodgement through my Job Services Australia provider (my next form isn't due in until about the middle of March) and this means I generally go three months at a stretch without seeing the inside of a Centrelink office. The last time I went in there was when I went to find out why the heck the nice people from the government agency who were handling the bond assistance hadn't managed to get things set up to take the money directly from my payment (which apparently needed a different piece of paperwork from the one I had in my hot little hand, and therefore couldn't be dealt with right there and then).

[...]

And now I'm back again, stressed out, tired out, shopped out, and about ready to strangle things. And I still have to head back to the Centrelink office tomorrow to actually get the bloody stuff submitted and handed in (because although I can *print out* the form from their online page, I can't actually submit it online (or at least, that's how I'm reading things - and since just *finding* the bloody form took about six go-rounds of their website, because I still had my mind in dealing with the university mode, where they go for "sensible and logical" as a default, rather than bureaucracy, where the default is "bloody-minded to the extreme", I'm not going to push my luck). My only worry is that there's apparently rules which say the government is only going to support me for so many years of study (and this is equivalent to the length of the course plus one semester). Now, over the past twenty-two years, since I finished high school, I've spent at least eight of these engaged in either full-time or part-time study. Of those eight years, Centrelink was supporting me for an absolute maximum of four (and three of those four were when I was working for them, so I strongly doubt they count!). But I am in full "dealing with a government department" paranoia mode at present. So I'm going to head down there tomorrow, tidied up and ready to face the worst they can throw at me.

Meanwhile, since the paranoia module in my brain is kicking out in full throttle at the moment, I'm currently panicking that I'll bomb out in the first semester, crashing and burning and failing horrendously. Ah, the joys of going back to uni.

Wish me luck, folks.

[1] Foundation Units are a Murdoch University speciality for students who have never been to university before - basically "uni in a box 101" for kids who are just learning how to put things together. Since this will be my fourth attempt at an undergraduate degree they figure I already know what I'm doing with regard to things like writing essays, attending lectures, and showing up for tutorials.

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Current Mood: frantic frantic
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