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The Strings that Control the System

It has been a very long time since I wrote anything here - more than a year.

So pardon my dust.

It is always weird coming back and looking at Livejournal - I was so active here, so very long ago now. In some ways, it doesn't seem all that long ago; in other ways, it was a very long time. I see all these names I recognize, and I was drawn back tonight because of someone's name that I did recognize... who was working on helping me edit a story.

For you see, I am fairly into the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom. That's right, I'm a brony.

And yet it is kind of funny, looking back at the long chain of events which lead me here. A very long chain indeed.

When I was young, I moved to Eugene, Oregon. I was always a smart kid, and I already knew how to read and write (and had for possibly several years even at that point). Now, Eugene is kind of an odd town, and it had some charter schools there, namely language immersion schools - schools where you spend half the day speaking (and learning) a second language. At the time, they had a Japanese, a Spanish, and a French immersion school. I was somewhat torn between the Japanese and French schools, but I believe I chose the French school because it was likely to be less disciplinarian and because some of my ancestors were French (as I have later learned, my ancestors were, in fact, amongst the very first settlers in New France).

Now, as you might imagine, going to a French Immersion Elementary School is incredibly nerdy, so the school was full of smart kids. I never had any conception that being smart was in any way bad, and of course we played all manner of nerdy games. The older brother of someone I knew played D&D after school, and I joined him a couple of times, which immediately hooked me. I had always enjoyed making up stories in my head, and playing made up stories was just too fun an idea.

I got the boxed set, then a 2nd edition Monster Manual, and, reading through it, noticed that there were lots of types of dragon - but no titanium dragon. This was wrong - titanium is the most awesome metal there is! I even know that as a little kid. So, naturally, I photocopied the blank monster manual page and made up a titanium dragon. I don't remember the details (other than that it was the best metallic dragon ever), but the name, for some reason, stuck with me - I had always enjoyed the symbology of dragons, and a titanium dragon was clearly the best kind of dragon, so I became the titanium dragon in my head, as a title of sorts - and later on, as an internet handle.

Many years later, circa early 2002, I created a free webpage on DigitalRice, back when having a free webpage was a thing. I suppose it still is, to some extent, but modern internet functionality has kind of supersceded such; I may someday soon have a webpage again, but it won't be free, and it won't much resemble what I had back then.

The webpage was called "The Titanium Dragon's Lair". For you see, even then, all that time ago, I was the Titanium Dragon. So, doing a vanity Google search on the first of May, 2002, I ended up finding Dracana's Lair, a website about being a dragon. "That's fascinating," my 17-year-old self thought, "someone who believes themselves to be a dragon must be interesting." And so I looked at her website, and found out about otherkin, and the Gryphon's Guild, and the people who believed themselves to be nonhuman. I hung out with these people for many years, though I have not spoken with most of them in many years at this point.
In that time, I learned about furries and the furry fandom. I didn't know much about them at first - indeed, at first I confused furries and otherkin, a mistake my present self finds amusing to this day - but I ended up browsing through various things, looking at art, and especially coming across various webcomics. I had always been a furry without realizing it, and thus having access to massive amounts of art and other interesting stuff was cool.

Over many years, I followed many webcomics. One webcomic leads to another, via ads on Project Wonderful, and on May 1st, 2010, I clicked on an ad featuring a cute cat and found a webcomic called Bittersweet Candy Bowl which featured anthropomorphic cats. I met some interesting folks there, and started hanging out with not only the creator of the comic but a number of other folks on IRC, Skype, and on their forums at the time. My many years of being a huge fan of roleplaying games ended up leading me to join into a game on their forum - a game called the Adventure Roleplaying Game, or ARG (very original title, to be sure). Everyone played a character in it who was based on a character from the comic, transposed into a fantasy setting, and the idea was that people would slowly die off at random over the course of the story - something which rather got derailed when too many roleplayers actually started roleplaying to a really ridiculous extent. People got invested, we ended up playing through the game, some folks did, in fact die, and we overcame the challenge... and had so much fun that we actually did it again, running another game with the same characters, set a year after the first game, on an entirely different continent. The original person running the game ended up having to drop out much of the way through, resulting in Bribri taking over said game and finishing it.

Who is Bribri? Well, I didn't know him very well at the time, byt he ended up started a community roleplaying game group set some twenty years after the original ARG. The idea behind the game was that everyone there worked for an adventurer's guild, and we would randomly get jobs and group up as a random group of characters to do quests, and the rest of the time sat around roleplaying. It was a great deal of fun, and I made many friends, but I particularly ended up bonding with Bribri and sort of becoming the second in command there. Bribri became my best friend, and we ended up participating in other roleplaying game activities together, and just generally hanging out, watching television shows and movies together, and generally having a grand old time.

Bribri, like anyone who read a cute comic about cats, enjoyed cute things, and when a show called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic started to take off, he sent me (and some other folks) a whole folder full of pony reaction images, showing just how cute they were. I ended up starting to watch the show, and made it about ten episodes in before I gave up and turned away from it for a long time. This might have been the end of the story, save that a couple of years later, as season 3 of the show was wrapping up, Bribri started streaming the episodes again, in order… and I watched along with him, and ended up hooked, watching the whole series and then joining the fandom, primarily posting on the Ponychan imageboard. I visited TV Tropes as well, and from there, ended up coming across a few random pony fanfiction stories on FIMFiction.net, but was not really hooked until I read a trollfic there. Or, more specifically, a comment on the trollfic. The story wasn’t important; what was important was that the trolling comment indicated that the reader was not trolled enough by the story.

And I realized, at that point, that I was home.

And so I started hanging out on FIMFiction, creating an account there and reading stories I was curious about. I poked my nose into many disparate types of stories, and eventually fell to the dark side of fandom, reading one too many shipfics and deciding that I had to become involved in such. For those of you who don’t know, shipfics are stories about characters from the show being put in a relationship together in a work of fanfiction. I found out about a group called Intelligent Shipping Discussion, which existed because the ordinary Shipping forum was full of people making mindless comments and some of the more sophisticated writers wanted a place to talk which was more moderated for “intelligent” discussion about shipping. As you might guess from the statue icon and the renaissance painting used as a banner for the group, the group’s sophistication was somewhat kidding on the square – it was pretentious as heck, and everyone knew it, but it also really did exist for the purposes you would think such a group would exist for. And many good writers really did hang out there, and gave feedback on other people’s stories.

This eventually resulted in me writing fanfics – first shipfics, then regular old fanfics of every genre, leading to a massive and rapid improvement in my ability to write prose. Eventually I started hanging out with a lot of other good writers on the website, shipfic writers or no, and participated in random write-off competitions with them, wherein we wrote stories with only a very small window of time in which to write them. These stories were often less than perfectly polished, and after the competitions we would all work on polishing them, often with one anothers’ assistance.

All of this lead to tonight, when someone who offered to help edit my story turned out to be someone who not only knew Dracana, but who had written a website about dragon otherkin which very likely encouraged Dracana to profess their draconicity openly on the internet. Something they did in 1999 resulted in them editing my My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfiction about Celestia raising the Sun 15 years later.

Most of the time, we don’t really see the strings that control the system, but sometimes, if you pull long enough, and have a good enough memory, you can find that it leads back to someone you meet many years later. And it is funny how a few little events can result in you spending large amounts of time doing something you never would have expected you would spend time doing.

Every day, we influence people in ways, sometimes small ones, and sometimes profoundly. Sometimes, the little things we do can change the course of our lives, and we may not even be aware of all the ripples we have set off.

Big changes this year

It has been a while since I posted in here. The last post was ages ago, reflecting on the fact that my livejournal has existed for over a decade.

That project I spoke about? It was a game. IS a game. Specifically a tabletop roleplaying game. I quit my job at the end of August of last year at Energ2 in order to pursue it full time. It was going well at first, but then in October I hit a rough patch - a rough patch that lasted until the beginning of January.

The truth was that my original plan - my original timeline - was a bad joke at my expense. Well, sort of. I suspect my actual guesses about time were fairly accurate, but my guesses for when I would get stuff done by? Hopelessly, hopelessly overoptimistic. I still think I am being so, but hey, fly or die, right?

But I am happy. I am happy because I feel like this is the first thing I have legitimately done to try and break from what is expected of me by others and upgrade to what is expected of me by myself. I expect the world from myself. In fact, I expect MORE than the world from myself. Merely living up to the expectations of others just isn't enough for me. I need to be impressed by myself. And while I don't impress myself overall, I feel like I am actually on the path to being truly awesome.

Of course, I could fail horribly. But I don't think I will if I actually put in the effort. If I don't just put something out, but actually, genuinely try. Truly trying, for a sustained period of time, is a very different thing for me - I've always been able to avoid it in the past, even when working, even when my work was excellent, I STILL wasn't trying my hardest. I can see that now. And I have seen just what I can do when I do try.

We'll see how much I post here again. But I am well, and perhaps better than I have been since 2003.

And yes, I am working at 5 am. Why? Because I didn't get enough done during the day yesterday. Not that I mind really; apparently my sleep cycle is completely cycling about every two weeks. I went to sleep last night at 8 am. Healthy, I know. But at least I am getting stuff done today.

This journal has existed for over a decade

In July of 2002, Stormy of the Gryphon's Guild sent me a livejournal invite.

Ten years later, its interesting looking back on how things have changed over time... and how things have not. I'm still spending hours and hours on IRC, but with different people. I've graduated from high school, graduated from college, had my first real job, and had a second job.

That's right, I don't work at Hewlett Packard for Lionbridge anymore. Today I work for Energ2, as a quality control technician in their first factory.

My best friends now are Carl, Alex, and Bribri - two familiar names, one that only popped up a couple years ago but is very important to me now.

Overall, I'm a pretty okay person emotionally. But, I think I could be better. Not better emotionally, though that as well; better as a person in general. I long have had great aspirations, but what have I done to achieve them? Little. Too little. But perhaps that will change soon.

I spent the last week working on a project. I'm not sure if it is a good idea or a bad one at this point. But I sense opportunity. I sense change in the winds, and I know what the future holds. But can I ride those winds better than anyone else? Am I sure enough of myself, am I confident enough in my competence, to take such a risk?

We shall see.


Mar. 8th, 2011

I wonder sometimes if others experience emotions in the same way that I do, and it is simply my reactions to them which are abnormal, or if I truly experience these things in a different way than anyone else. I lean towards the former, as the latter is vain and unlikely, but there are times...

I choose not to be angry. I choose not to be worried. Sometimes, I choose to be happy. And it is not some sort of bullshit, "Oh you do things to make yourself that way" thing - I literally just decide to be happy sometimes, and can literally simply shut down my anger. Oftentimes, I experience no emotion at all - these last couple days, I've managed to almost completely shut myself off, and it was a late birthday present which brought emotion to my chest once more.

It is a strange world. Do most people walk around with no real emotion, only occaisionally feeling bursts of one thing or another, with the vast majority of their life simple neutrality? Do most people have a broader emotional range than I do? Is my default state actually neutrality, or am I actually what most people would consider happy, with giddy joy being so close and anger being so far away? Is it possible to even tell?

I often wonder these things (though the answer to the last is yes. Thank you brain scans!). They're interesting thoughts, and interesting to think about.

But if I am not abnormal, if my emotions are the same as anyone else's, why can so few simply switch off an emotion, and why do so few understand that you choose how you feel?

Interesting data from OKCupid

Alright, so we all know all about those lame online dating sites. One interesting application of these sites, however, is to analyze their users for patterns. Apparently, OKCupid does this and posts it to their blog:


The blog entries are surprisingly well-written and funny, and the actual results are quite interesting (though sometimes depressing). Its an interesting read, if you have some time to spare.

I have $19.89 to my name!

This may sound really sad, but in actuality, its the most money I've had since I went to college.

I now have zero debt, so every cent I get (post-taxes) is mine. All mine. Mwahahah!

Step 1 complete: 9/29/2010.
Step 2 begins... now.


These two stories are excellent examples of the science-fiction genre.

Rescue Party, by Arthur C. Clarke

The Last Question, by Isaac Asimov

I particularly enjoy the final lines of each, as they are quite epic. This is what I really enjoy in a story like this, but sadly, I suspect it is very difficult to capture this sort of thing very well; a lot of stories try, but fail, or simply do not achieve the same level as is required.

Cultural Imperialism

A million and one people have written essays on this subject, decrying the evils of cultures around the world dying, languages vanishing into the mists of time as the world becomes increasingly homogenized, culturally and linguistically. They talk about how people should keep their cultures and their languages alive...

And they are all wrong, and horrible hypocrites.

The reality is that these people are as bad as the people who want to destroy cultures and languages, they just don't realize it. The truth of the matter is that cultures are always changing, and it isn't a bad thing. The culture of the United States in the 1950s is dead, as sure as the culture of various tribal folk who subside on subsistence agriculture and fishing. It may take a while for it to completely vanish, but vanish it will... and this isn't a bad thing.

The reality is that it is bad to impose culture on others, in general, but it doesn't matter which culture is being imposed, be it whatever culture you happen to possess or supposedly "their" culture - "their" culture is theirs to choose, not anyone else's, and this is part of the problem. You see, these cultures don't die just because they are inconvenient, but because they are outmoded. The youth reject them and move to the cities to get a chance at a better life and not die at age 50 in some awful village. If that were not the case then they wouldn't be leaving in droves and letting the languages and cultures die. And people from the outside moving in and trying to keep those people in their villages, culture, and language are wrong - these people are rejecting it with good reason, and it is their own choice.

Some languages HAVE survived, like Latin. But many, indeed most languages have not produced what Latin produced; their deaths do little to the world. We can translate the legends, but few cultures have really produced anything all that meaningful to the world in general. Those which have proved foundational, or produced writings, manage to endure, if only in the hands of a few scholars, but a language with no writings, with no great works, will disappear and there is little to mourn.

It is too easy for people to think they are doing others a favor by keeping their language and traditions alive, but in reality those languages and traditions may well be what stands between them and a better life. When we drill a well in an African village to give them fresh water at all times, rather than forcing the women to spend 8 hours a day hauling water while the men work the fields, will irrevocably change their culture as surely as anything else we do. Empowering women to make choices about their reproductive health and place in society will surely change societies as much as anything else we do. And we see these as good things, and anyone who argued that we shouldn't do these things because we would negatively affect their cultures would be seen as a horrible person. So why is preventing these people from communicating with their neighbors, let alone the rest of the world, by keeping them in their language spoken only by a couple hundred people a good thing? Why is keeping them trapped in a culture reliant on agricultural methods which haven't been optimal in millennia, or keeping them as hunter-gatherer societies, a good thing? Are these people wildlife?

I hold that no. I think it is a good thing to allow cultures to change, evolve, and yes, even die. The purpose of language is to communicate, so languages dying is actually a good thing, as the fewer languages there are, the more people we can all communicate with and the more chance there is for the exchange of ideas and the improvement of the culture of all the peoples of the planet.

Anything else is to stand in the way of progress, not just of everyone, but especially of those with cultures and societies which are outmoded. If they want to stay out on their island doing subsistence agriculture, that's fine... but if they don't, then we shouldn't work to keep them there.

A quarter century

Today was my birthday, so I felt it appropriate to map out some future finances.

3/21/2010: Six months at this job allows me to state that I have six months of commercial lab experience on my resume. Begin applying for different, better paying jobs.

9/23/2010: At current wage, I will have paid off all my loans and be in the black on this paycheck date. Will come sooner if I get a better-paying job.

12/31/2010: By this date I should have $2,000 invested in the stock market.

3/5/2011: By this date I should have a net worth of at least $10,000 and a better job.

Mid-2013: Next stock market bust should occur within a year of this point in time. By this point, net worth should be over $100,000. Once bust begins, bet against vulnerable players.

3/5/2015: Assuming I can cheap out as well as I have been for the last six months, I should have enough to buy a house outright. However, if I can I will instead take advantage of the bust to invest back into the stock market and reap the rewards.

So, pretty rosy future, assuming I manage to be frugal. Of course, if I find another Sirius Radio circa January 2003...

But can I? http://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE:FRE Perhaps. The trick is to buy low and sell high, as they say, and the key to that is to find something which is undervalued. Banks all took a big hit, but the trouble is that banks are a rather dangerous investment, as some may well still go under (unlikely for Freddie, but it may not go up all that fast either). There are other options out there as well, and I'll be looking for them.

The stock market is a gamble, of course, but very different from other forms of betting because there are far more cards on the table.

A rather odd thing to think about on your birthday for some people, but why not? Fabulous wealth is but step one on my path to world domination.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.