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Black & White 5: Staving Away the Darkness

The thing I most like about Christmas is the lights. I like the symbolism. This is the time of year when the darkness presses most closely against us, swallowing up ever larger parts of the day and replacing it with chill night. The lights seem, to me, of being a way of shouting our defiance against the darkness. They say that even at the worst, we know the light will come again, that death will give way to life once again.

One of the things I’d like to do someday is to sit a solstice watch, starting from sundown and waiting all night, the longest night of the year, for the sun to return. It’s never worked out for me, but it’s something I’d like to do.

These particular lights have meaning for me. We’ve had the snowman for a very long time — I remember that he used to sit on the roof above the garage. He’s colorful, which is something that is missing from black and white. Then there’s Santa’s sleigh and the reindeer. And last, curled in front of the oak tree is the little Christmas trees.

I love coming home at night when the lights are all on. It feels like a beacon, calling me home.

et lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non conprehenderunt
And the light shineth in darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:5)

(LJ/Dreamwidth readers: The crossposter I use for both these services does not attach the featured image, so you will have to click through the link at the bottom of the post to see the image.)

Prior Entries:
Black & White 1: My Buddy
Black & White 2: It’s What’s for Dinner
Black & White 3: The Platform
Black & White 4: Chairs

Mirrored from katster's closet.

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Black & White 4: Chairs

I spend way too much time in this room, mostly in the chair at the far end of the room facing the camera. It’s long and narrow, and when it’s a day when the room is full, it can get a bit claustrophobic. The weirdness of the room is because it used to be the waiting room and reception area of a doctor’s office.

But in black and white, it looks artsy.

(LJ/Dreamwidth readers: The crossposter I use for both these services does not attach the featured image, so you will have to click through the link at the bottom of the post to see the image.)

Mirrored from katster's closet.

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Black & White 3: The Platform

This is Skimbleshanks. I name all my laptops after cats in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, and the prior ones have been Macavity and Mistoffelees. This is part of my larger computer naming scheme, the poems of T.S. Eliot, of which I’ve had desktops bearing the names of wasteland, prufrock, and hollowman. You can also read dad jokes right here for entertainment.

I bought Skimbleshanks in 2013, and even though I bought a top of the line gaming computer at the time, it’s starting to show its age. The nice graphic card burned out because the laptop had a heat problem. The ports on the right side of the computer don’t work because, in trying to release a busted DVD drive from the slot, I accidentally dropped it, forcing the little USB receiver that goes with my mouse which I had left in a USB port to shove the motherboard to the left. Most recently, I managed to spill water over the computer. Thankfully, it only killed the keyboard letters z, x, c, v, m, period, comma, right shift, and enter. That’s why there’s a second keyboard in front of the laptop.

Alas, money to replace anything doesn’t exist, so I’ll just have to deal with Skimbleshanks’ quirks and hope it doesn’t get worse. I hate not having a job.

(LJ/Dreamwidth readers: The crossposter I use for both these services does not attach the featured image, so you will have to click through the link at the bottom of the post to see the image.)

Prior entries in this series:

Mirrored from katster's closet.

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On Patriotism

I don’t like to talk much about politics in public places, and none is more public than my blog. Even though I have a disclaimer, I’m searching for a job and there’s some worries that if I disclose my political beliefs, it might cost me a job. But I can’t write about this subject without saying it. I’m left of center and a Democrat. There are reasons for these stances, but I don’t want to get too deep in those weeds right now.

Anyway. I want to say that I’m tired of the insinuation that because I’m on the left side of the political system, I cannot be a patriot. Even more offensive are the ones that say that I’m not a “real American”, when I can trace my roots to the Mayflower or, in another direction, the Bering Land Bridge. I’ve had ancestors on this soil long before this country existed. Telling me I’m not a “real American” because of my political stance simply ticks me off.

I am a patriot. I love this country. I’m proud to be an American, just as I’m proud to be a Californian. I still attempt to hit the high notes in the Star Spangled Banner. I’ll admit I loved poking through the airplanes the Air Force and the Navy would bring to the airshow, and cheer as the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds went through their paces.

From the beginning, we were a beacon of new ideas. The French Revolution — the call of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité — has its roots in the American revolution. A fledgling nation, trying an entirely new way of governing, became an inspiration for people around the world.

Where I depart from those who say that they are patriots is that I am capable of understanding that (gasp) America isn’t perfect. For all the good this country has brought into the world, there are ways in which we have completely failed. The stain of slavery is woven into our founding documents, and the resulting treatment of African-Americans to this day perpetuates that great sin. There’s the internment camps of World War II, taking American citizens and putting them behind barbed wire for no other reason than that they were ethnically Japanese, assuming that none of them were actually American. There is the way we’ve treated Native Americans, the ones that were here first. And last, don’t forget the numerous governments around the world that we’ve destabilized or outright overthrew. We have brought light to the world, but we have also brought hideous darkness.

No nation — no person — stands at the pinnacle of perfection. Even heroes have feet of clay. The United States is no exception in this matter. We’ve done amazing good across the world; we’ve perpetuated some dark deeds. How can I be a patriot and think this way? Very simple:

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

Senator Carl Schurz ended a speech on the Senate floor in response to Senator Matthew Carpenter’s use of the first half of the phrase. But the phrase has a kernel of truth that connects to something I was taught in therapy. I learned about the juxtaposition of two important thoughts: “I am good enough.” and “I can be better”. While those thoughts seem to be contradictory, there is truth. I am good enough, but I can always strive to be better.

I feel the same about my country. The United States is good enough, even great. But she can strive to be better — we can strive to be better, because the United States is the sum of all of us. Such is the nature of a republic.

I prefer to think of it as a thoughtful and nuanced patriotism, as opposed to simple “Love it or leave it!” rhetoric. But I am just as much a patriot as any right-winger, and I am not going to give ground simply because I happen to be on the lefty side of politics.

Mirrored from katster's closet.

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Black & White 2: It’s What’s for Dinner

I can cook a few things. One of the things I can cook is stew, and that’s what I made for dinner tonight. I promise it actually was more appetizing than it looks in a black and white picture. I experimented with potato sizing on this batch and ended up with a thick potato sludge, which means that I cut them too small. I’m still trying to hunt down a happy medium.

However, I hate stew in the very end stages, when it’s boiling through all that thickness. At that point, it turns into a mudpot of the sort they have in Yellowstone or Lassen. The nasty thing about it is that it spits boiling hot stew goop onto the unfortunate hand stirring the pot. I have to wear an oven mitt to stir. It’s crazy.

But it was good. We have leftovers!

Prior posts in this series:

(Note to LJ and Dreamwidth users: The crossposter I’m using does not allow featured images to come through. If you would like to see the post, you will need to click through to the blog post.)

Mirrored from katster's closet.

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Black & White 1: My buddy

There’s a challenge going around on Facebook to spend a week taking a black and white photo of your life. The catch (besides that it must be in black and white) is that it must have no people in it. I figured it gives me something to blog about.

The picture on this post is Winter, our grey and white kitten (he’s seven months old), who came into our life at the beginning of July and brought joy to a house that had none. He’s part, if not full, Maine Coon, and we know he’s going to be a big boy if he looks like a full-grown cat at seven months. (He looked full-grown at six months, but we know he’s got a bit more to go because his paws are still a little big for the rest of him.)

But he’s my buddy and my fuzzy boy. Okay, technically, he’s my sister’s cat, but I love him and call him mine.

(EDIT: The Livejournal crossposter does not repost the featured image, so you'll have to click through to the blog to see it.)

Mirrored from katster's closet.

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Unravelled

No, that’s not a statement on my life at the moment, or a statement of my interest in the fabric arts.

It’s actually about a neat little game I’ve been playing called Unravel. It’s available for Windows, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. This has been a game I’ve wanted to get since it first came out in 2015, but I caught it on sale for five dollars and pulled the trigger.

I’m glad I did. The premise of the game is about memories — in the opening cut scene, you’re introduced to a grandmother who is straightening pictures of her grandkids and sighing. It’s obvious they don’t come around much anymore. I’m not entirely sure why — if they’re grown up, or if it’s something sadder. But a red ball of yarn rolls out and from that we meet the character we play.

It’s amazing how simple the mechanic of a little yarn guy (called Yarnie) unravelling himself to get through the various worlds. He can use his yarn as a lasso, or as a way to climb back up into spots. He can tie knots to various posts, and can use them to make a bridge so he can jump higher or transport objects. To get more yarn, he crosses through spools, which serve as the checkpoints of the game.

But I think what amazes me most is simply the background and interactive graphics. Here, let me show you some of the screenshots I’ve collected.

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signs of life

It first sounds like random gibberish, the signal on the radio, as if something is keying the radio randomly. But slowly, it begins to resemble an actual human signalling…

cq...cq...cq...

There might be somebody there after all.

(image credit: photo taken by Mike Finucane CC BY-SA 2.5 , via Wikimedia Commons)

Mirrored from katster's closet.

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I have a new blog

So my friends Zibb and Mal, and I have started a new blog where we’re talk science fiction and fantasy, in all corners of the media world from books to movies to games. You can find us over at Conceptual Neighborhood and while we’re still ramping up, there’s some good stuff there. (PS: thanks [info]lirazel for the name suggestion.)

I will probably still post here occasionally about things I’m thinking of that don’t necessarily fit the baliwick of Conceptual Neighborhood.

Mirrored from katster's closet.