marsden_online: (Kea)
Produced 420 units
Exported 197 units (@ 8c/unit)
---
Used 223 units (saving 29.79c/unit)

Total reduction in power bill = $82.19
marsden_online: (Ghostfighter)
Background: Yesterday there was an alarm event at the Hall in which the two intruders did a runner, leading to us wrangling with one of them over possession of a bicycle in the driveway. Eventually he gave up and left without the bike.

At the time my entire focus was on a) delaying him for the police to arrive or b) keeping something they might be able to identify him from. If I am honest with myself there were probably aspects of wanting to enforce /some/ sort of consequences on him for his actions against "our turf" and other less salubrious emotions as well behind those goals. Inwardly and outwardly I was using the justification that the bike was probably stolen as well.

With time for my brain to chew it over though another likely scenario for his determination to keep the bike than the chance it might identify him has presented itself, and it makes me feel like a bit of a heel. Regardless of the facts of the intrusion and that the two were definitely searching the hall looking for stuff that might be worth nicking (we can tell by the way they went through allll the cupboards in the areas they reached); the guy was clearly someone who doesn't have a lot of good things in his life and putting the /unfoundedly assumed/ provenance aside it is a fairly nice bike. We had no right to rip that away from him. It's a mark of my own middle-class privilege that I thought it so justifiable.

Heck it may even have been a legitimately borrowed bike, in which case the consequences of our (my) actions are falling on someone completely undeserving. But I am not going too far down that hypothetical (and metaphorical) rabbit hole, it actually serves no purpose.

Anyway now I feel I want the opportunity to apologise to him and return the bike (which has been recorded by police and we have no further use for any way). It is very unlikely that I will get that opportunity so it will have to join the small hill of other regrets and skeletons in my mental closet.

What I can do is /better/ in the future. I was absolutely expecting my privilege and his lack of to protect me from any legal consequences to what were arguably illegal actions on my part, although were those consequences to come I am prepared to face them. But I was also letting it help blind me into treating another person as an other, an enemy, not due rights or feelings.

This would not be the first time I have let this happen, but it is the time I have become cognizant of it. It ... is not ever a comfortable feeling confronting the flaws in ones character. But if I am really trying to be the sort of person I claim to be trying to be I need to own it and work on fixing it.
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
Over the weekend a young acquaintance mentioned his desire to play a (D&D3) minotaur paladin, and some resistance he had met to the idea. I took the time to explain that the resistance was probably not to the idea as such, but the extra work that would be required to align the DM's world such that any minotaur character and their companions would not be confronted by torch-and-pitchfork wielding mobs / local adventurers / bounty hunters / heroes of the realm in every dominion and at every outpost of civilisation.

By the time the conversation had finished however my worldbuilders brain had come up with an outline for how a larger race with a reliable number of relatively peaceable members would probably be incorporated into a fantasy society without ending up in charge. I present a minotaur version of that below as a plug-in suitable for dropping into a fantasy world, but first would like to take off on a couple of tangents.

chaaanges )

availability )

balance )

Place in civilisation )
marsden_online: (write)
Today I added my body to a Women's March here in Christchurch, a sister and supporting event to one focused on Washington, DC. Because,
- as their manifesto says, Women's Rights are Human Rights and I support that. Both in the specific and in the general sense that improving women's rights will by extension improve the lot of (at least) every other marginalised group containing women
- and I feel it is important for progress that men are seen to be supporting that, because sadly many men are still more likely to listen only to other men
- but also on another level because I feel it's also important for the well-being of men that women are seen and treated as equal.

Here I just want to pull together a few threads from around the internet on why I think there is still a long way to go in western, particularly New Zealand society.

1. From an early age boys have been told to "don't be a girl", teased for being "girly" or put down for "hitting like a girl" in response to failure, asking for help, or expressing any "negative" emotion except anger. As well as indoctrinating the idea that women are somehow less than men in both boys and girls from an early age this negative approach to dealing with emotions also contributes to New Zealand having one of the highest rates of youth suicide (especially among young men) in the developed world.

Things are getting better on this front (I believe) but there are generations of us still alive who need to challenge those ideas within ourselves and strive to do and teach better.

2. If a little boy pulls a little girl's hair "it means he likes you". Not only is the reverse not held to be true, this normalises attack (physical or emotional) as a form of showing affection. Follow the chain and you get coercion seen as a valid form of obtaining affection in the form of sex, women criticised for not responding positively to catcalls or unwanted advances, and "he only hits me because he cares".

Again, NZ has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the developed world.

3. There's this thing about queer/gay being used as a slur. Why is it that being romantically/sexually attracted to men is percieved as a bad thing by other men?. I'm theorising here, but coming back to my first point could it be that being attracted to men is something women do, so it is another accusation of girliness? Or could it be, as beautifully laid out here that a lot of men are afraid that a man attracted to them will subject them to the same form of unwanted attention they know they give the "objects" (women) of their affection (or even passing interest)?

I believe that in our hearts we men (most of us anyway) know that this behaviour is wrong because we become uneasy at the idea of it being turned on us. Knowing that it is our responsibility to try and
- firstly face up to the discomfort and accept when we are called out on it, then try and do better.
- secondly publicly represent and model for that better behaviour
- the hardest of all (and I fail at this often myself; pick your battles): call our friends and family out on it and support others - whatever their gender, orientation or colour - when they call others out on it in our presence.

If men can step up and do this instead of passively supporting the status quo, then fairness for women (and intermediate/null genders) will come a lot faster than if they have to keep wading through us every step of the way.

~~~
With all that off my chest, here is the gallery from todays march.

Victoria Square to Cathedral Square
The leading banner
marsden_online: (skull)
On Monday I cut my planned holidays short by a week and went back to work to deal with issues which had been unfinished last year and blown up over the Xmas/NY closure. This wasn't entirely unexpected so I was mentally prepared and even eager; so much so that I was at work uncommonly early on Monday and pushed through a 7-hour day in determination to complete what I was working on. (Which I didn't, but made satisfactory progress.) This may have been a mistake so I wasn't unduly concerned when I did not manage the same start on Tuesday, but by Wednesday I was lying in bed in the grip of a very familiar slough, one that held me even more as the week passed so that I didn't actually get out of bed these past two days until after 11am and to work until about 1pm. (Despite that quite a productive week. Quiet office.)

The stupid thing (well, one of many) is that on Wednesday I had been out of bed about 6am to put bread (left to rise overnight) in the oven and again about 7am to take it out. If I had just stayed out of bed I would have made it through the day just fine.

Excepting the really good start on Monday this is of course the pattern of my life which I have been trying to change for the past few years. And it really was absent over the break; or at least the feeling of weight that kept me in bed when I knew I ought to be elsewhere. Thinking back there were one or two times it resurged, when I was only partially enthused for some commitment or other.

I do not want to go through another year like this. As I sit here I don't actually know if I can face/deal with going through another year like this. It seems so unnecessary, and it should be such a simple thing for me simply to stay out of bed each morning.

Installing a standing desk has shaken up my routine and broken some of my bad computer habits, doubtless contributing to the amount of other things which have got done over the past couple of weeks; I am seriously considering reserving the bed for naps for a few months and at nights sleeping on the couch in the dining room to see if that does the trick.

~~~
In better news on Monday I gave a home to a box of old RPG books that a friend was disposing of before heading back overseas. Never mind that I haven't finished reading through the acquisitions from the last time I did that, a couple of years ago (longer)? There's some good stuff in there; collectibles and useful references.

books laid out for display
marsden_online: (Cat Yarn)
Over the past couple of weeks I have spent quite a lot of time gardening one way and another. Whether helping out a friend, digging out a tree stump (two more to go) and filling my now enlarged green bin with weeds and rubbish from my own garden, harvesting some of the the still-present potato population or yesterday an intensive working bee at the Hall I have laid to rest the concerns about an apparent drop in stamina which sent me to the Dr before Xmas.

spade, hole and tree stump
I dug a thing!



I have also acquired a substantial number of blisters, scrapes and scratches on my hands and forearms, and some sunburn. There has also been the luxury of being able to collapse after each period of activity. In fact once the New Year Blues lifted my activity pattern has pretty much been bursts of energy and motivation followed by equal periods of lethargy and exhaustion. There has been a lot of napping.

A few other things I have accomplished:
- baking bread (gluten-free, from a sourdough "bug" gifted by a friend)
- standing desk (previously posted)
- hosting my now-annual bring-a-thing for charity boardgaming day. Attendance was (disappointingly #ifIamhonest) lower this year than previously but I think that was mostly a co-incidence of timing. Normally it would have been a week or so later.
- several enjoyable outings with small groups of friends, myself specifically invited rather than the broadly invited parties and such which make up most of my socialising
- A variety of cleaning tasks around the house, but these have taken a back seat to the gardening.

For all the bursts of energy I still have a list of things I would like to get accomplished this holiday that have not been reached. I have not completed the prep for the next arc of the game I am running on Sundays; indeed I have managed barely any. (A small relief that tonights game was cancelled after two players could not make it, giving me another week and time today to among other things have a nap and write this post. Which will make 12 tasks crossed off todays todo list alone.) There are still gardening and annual cleaning tasks to be done (some of which are years overdue all ready ...). There are still several books I had planned to take time to read. More blog posts to be written.

Tomorrow I am cutting my holiday short by a week and returning to work early to deal with matters arising for one of my current major projects and another regular project which I have been on-called to deal with this past week. Given the state of things when work closed for the Xmas break I was half-expecting this to be the case so I am not mentally unprepared. I don't expect to be doing my full-time hours, just what is needed for these projects so I will still have "spare" time to schedule getting things done in, but it will be back to scheduling rather than the free-flow approach which has seen me be (what feels) so productive over the last few weeks.

I hope to be able to springboard off this time into a routine which sticks with me for the year, if I can keep myself from wanting and attempting to do all-the-things at once. Especially as the days get shorter again. I know my level of success at this has been mixed in all previous years and am not entirely confident.
marsden_online: (Kea)
Produced 397 units
Exported 199 units (@ 8c/unit)
---
Used 198 units (saving 29.79c/unit)

Total reduction in power bill = $74.90
marsden_online: (Default)
Yesterday was a good day. I woke up feeling somewhat as if my brain had reset from the previous few days self-inflicted misery and ready to get on with some things. The weather was not conducive to planned gardening so I set out on an extended series of shopping errands, acquiring
- a socket set and impulsively a fairly comprehensive set of screwdriver heads / drill bits for my power drill/driver
- more half-price short-dated bacon than I am easily going to consume (good stuff from a butcher, not water-filled supermarket stuff).
- ditto discount bananas (from the supermarket, not the butcher)
- the real score of the day was visiting the EcoShop to find items useful for converting my home computing environment to a standing workstation. I picked out two items which between them came to somewhat more than I really intended to pay, not discovering until I reached checkout that the store was having a "five dollar furniture day". :D

The two bits cleaned up nicely, most of the markings coming off with a little Jif and elbow grease. The screwdriver heads I had impulsively bought earlier meant I had the bit I needed to remove the wheels from the horizontal cabinet :)

A lot of unplugging and replugging later, this is the result.

Photo of the new setup including resident cat

The monitor alignment is a bit odd but unlike like work where all 3 monitors are pretty much constantly in use at home the left one is usually off and the right is quite auxiliary. I am actually finding having it a little higher to be better than the lower it was before. If I had a touch screen in the array I would find it very tempting to experiment with that much lower angled up.

I've been wanting to experiment with a standing desk for some time, multiple reasons including
- less sitting / stronger posture (my sciatica has been playing up regularly over the past year)
- less getting "trapped" at the computer: just the few hours I have spent yesterday proved that once I have finished everything I have to do I am more likely to wander off and do something else than sit there flipping between social media channels
-- sitting time is more likely to be non-screen dominated eg reading an actual book (Terry Pratchett's "Men At Arms" this day), game prep (I have the laptop if I feel the need to sit and write something extended and again that will at least happen in another room)
-- also no more eating at the computer, which is another shake up to my routine.
- An improvement in my touch-typing as it is not quite as easy to just glance down at the keyboard.

An added bonus is that the powerboard and case now being at normal-desk height mean I no longer have a nest of cables gathering dust down on the floor beside the desk. I've put the chair in there for the moment and the room actually feels a little less cluttered as a result.
marsden_online: (Blueknight)
One of the few reasons I continue to maintain my LiveJournal account has been the FaceBook cross-posting extension (so posts go from here at Dreamwidth to LiveJournal, and them public posts go on to FaceBook). It works pretty well, but I've been meaning to find a way to cut LJ out of the loop so that people clicking on my FB links come to here instead of there. The final push came in learning that LJ now has it's hardware and thus it's data in an even more insecure location than previously.

I've also been meaning to investigate the If This Then That service for some time and multiple responses to googling for a pre-existing solution pointed there.

This solution will work for any blogging or journal service which provides an RSS feed of recent entries. (Find your Dreamwidth RSS urls here). This will only work to cross-post publicly published entries not friends-locked ones, but that doesn't matter for my use-case. The cross-post is not instant as IFTTT will only check the feed every so often; but should appear within the hour.

[Note: the below captures are displayed at reduced size for ease of layout]

1. Sign up for an IFTTT account and find your way to the My Applets page.

2. Click the New Applet button

3. Now the first time I visited this page I didn't even register that the blue "+this" part of "if +this then that" as displayed in this screenshot was clickable (damn flat designs) and followed the link below it instead, which was not helpful. So click on the +this - assuming the interface is mostly unchanged.

screen capture showing blue clickable area

4. Choose your service: the service you want is "Feed" (generally an orange-and-white icon with a dot and two semi-circles above-right of it)

screen capture including the RSS icon

5. Choose a trigger: I just used "New Feed Item", if I wanted to narrow it down for Dreamwidth I would set up the feed itself to only display particular tags rather than relying on the content to include a keyword.

At the next screen paste your feed url into the box and click Create Trigger. You'll be taken to a page displaying "if [RSS icon] then +that". Now it's more obvious where to click, we're learning.

screen capture showing blue clickable area

6. Choose your service: FaceBook. I think it was at this point I had to link up my Facebook account into IFTTT. Don't give it access to anything it doesn't need; and see step 9 to clean up these permissions from FB itself as there doesn't seem to be any way to edit them from the IFTTT end.

7. Choose your action: Create a link post.
At the next screen the Link Url field will be filled in for you, don't touch that.

the action fields screen

You can add what you like to the Message field, click on the +Ingredient button below it to add details from the post itself. After some experimentation with various post content and the EntryContent ingredient I gave up on that and just put a generic message about the source of the post in here. There were some issues around getting line breaks in the right places while stripping out html tags and dealing with journal cuts. Some of my posts can get quite long and I can see them copying over to FB in a very messed up way.

On that note: the link tag will pick up on an image you have in the content; it will not pick up your profile icon as a fallback. The short summary and the icon were the two things that I consider were better about the LJ implementation.

8. Click the "Create Action" button, wait for the page to update, leave notifications or turn them off as you wish (they only show up in your IFTTT dashboard, I'd leave them on for a while at least for debugging, you can come back and turn them off later) and then the Finish button. The applet will now be available in your My Applets panel.

My Applets panel

Click on it here to go to a larger view where you can see see it's status (bottom pane), manually run the check for new posts (bottom pane) or change the settings/delete (cog icon, top left)

9. Go to your FaceBook > Settings > Apps and click on the IFTTT icon to check what permissions IFTTT has actually received (they certainly didn't match what I thought I had allowed it). At minimum for this purpose it should only need the "required" access to your public profile and the ability to Post to your timeline. If you are pushing the posts to a page or group instead of your personal timeline it may also need permission to manage those. Also make sure it is posting with the level of access you told it to.

My IFTTT Facebook App settings

"Helpfully" once you uncheck items and save they disappear from display. I haven't found a way to get them back except theoretically by deleting the App from the FB end and re-establishing the link from IFTTT. In the course of my experimentation I did "Disconnect" and "Reconnect" from the IFTTT end but this did not give me the option to re-select permissions. It did delete the instance of the cross-posting app I had created with no warning though :( So beware of that.

~~~
Now the last thing I need to dispense with LJ entirely is a reliable way of backing up Dreamwidth locally. Currently I still use LJArchive (from the LJ cross-posts) but I haven't had any luck getting it to reliably talk with DW.
marsden_online: (Sisters)
The same thing we do every day, fight the ennui and despair with distractions* until we are past exhaustion."
"But what if we are past exhaustion** to start with brain?"
"Then we're fucked, and not in the good way***."
ya-snip )
marsden_online: (Default)
Reading back over my LJ and FB it looks like I started the year in much the same place emotionally as I am right now, there were quite a lot of individual good days in the company of friends but also some pretty bad patches - May, July, October through now ... I may have made some progress on identifying some of the puzzle pieces ...

My regular Sunday and Monday games were regular high points, other gaming was mixed. Recorded some good games; know I didn't bother griping about many not-so-good ones.

My muse turned on a few times, mostly in February and March but there are a few other substantial opinion posts througout the year.

I'm confident that I made a positive difference in the lives of a number of people over the year; less confident that I didn't impact negatively on anyone.

Politically the world seemed to continue to go to shit, both in NZ and overseas.

~~~
Notable events:

February: substantial aftershock just a few days short of the 5th anniversary of the 2011 quake brought everything flooding back for a lot of people.

April: Family reunion in the high country, returned to find an acquaintance had passed to cancer.

June: Buckets of Dice (mixed)
: combined having to get the drains replaced due earthquake damage with getting some substantial garden alterations done above ground, a very expensive month which nevertheless crossed two major projects off the list.

August: Hosted the KAOS 48 Hour Party despite being plagued myself during the weekend.

September: started a new drug/supplement, which didn't seem to help. Discontinued at the end of the 3-month course (wasn't subsidised)

November: SAGA's 48 hour charity event
: "Kaikoura" earthquakes (ongoing)

December:
This year I didn't spend anything on my family for Xmas and instead focused on friends and other acquaintances whom I knew needed some nice things in their lives.

Had the family lunch not been at my relatively close parents I would not have attended that for the first time ever; this was something I was doing for myself as I did not feel up to the effectively full day of travel otherwise would have entailed. I did then end up appearing (and eating) at 3 different socials among friends in Christchurch and was quite exhausted by the end of the day but overall it felt lower-key.

I do appear to have completely exhausted myself physically* (gardening/housework) and mostly exhausted myself emotionally so I am hoping for a good KAOS New Years party tomorrow night to pick me up. Historically this is against the odds.

* My stamina seems to have plummeted over the year. I went to the Dr concerned a few weeks ago and he sent me off for a raft of blood tests, which I haven't heard back from yet.
marsden_online: (write)
There's a bit of a zeitgeist going around at least in my echo chamber about 2016 and the deaths of a number of celebrities who were of great influence on my cohort in their formative years. I have been mostly an observer in all this as I have never really attached to a real-world role model in this way. Partly because growing up I never had exposure to the same mass-media which made them household names elsewhere, but as I read more about what each of these people meant and represented to people only a click away through social media it becomes clear that it is also greatly because as a cishet white male on an easy course through life I never needed that role-model to aspire to. (Which isn't to say that I wouldn't have been the better for some more varied role models in my life.)

This was particularly well summed up in what I think was a retweet I saw a couple of days ago but have been unable to find to quote exactly, thanking "Prince, David Bowie, George Michael for showing me there was more than one way to express masculinity". Searching has however shown that this is a very common sentiment.

Today it is Carrie Fisher (among others, to be sure) we are mourning; and I do mean we because although I do not have the same strong personal connection I am not so emotionally stunted that I can not respect and and share in the grief for a woman who stood for - and spoke out for - so much to so many.

But to quote one angry man we "lost" in 2015
“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away...”

These people and many others both past and still with us are the butterflies which create storms on the other side of the world with a flap of their wings. But they did (and do) it not by flexing their own but by inspiring others to do the same, until the beat of a million wings upon wings creates a force which can not be ignored.

With their passing the storms which are their legacy still rage and they will not be forgotten as long as those they inspired, and those whom are in turn inspired, over and over ... as long as we continue to beat our wings, sing their/our songs, carry their light*.

* I don't believe Princess Leia ever used a light sabre. But I believe wasn't entirely unrelated that that she was dressed in light/white, and Carrie stepped up to be a beacon in the real world.

~~~
It's particularly poignant for me that I write this today as I remember a friend of my own.
marsden_online: (Kea)
Produced 386 units
Exported 183 units (@ 8c/unit)
---
Used 203 units (saving 29.79c/unit)

Total reduction in power bill = $75.11

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