Archive for September 2014

The Sims   2 comments

This morning, after I showered, I was still left in a blur of sleepiness, so I sat on the couch for 15 minutes and played the Sims Freeplay on my phone. It’s the latest app I’ve downloaded. I really, really want to play the Sims, and yet there’s always better things to spend money on. But the Sims Freeplay was…well, it was free.

At first I was so happy. It was Sims doing things I told them do! Even though most of the time the game was telling me what to do, in pursuit of various quests to get points and then level up. Still, I always made sure I had one Sim more than was required by the game, so that I could always have Sims that weren’t doing The Man’s bidding. They were doing my bidding.

But after a while I started to resent my Sims. If I didn’t tell them what to do, they would sit down. Sometimes they would walk to another room and sit down. Sometimes they just sat down in the nearest chair. But mostly, they just sat.

Here’s the thing: the Sims that I know have Free Will. This means that, if you aren’t actively telling them what to do, they will go and do something. They woill take care of a Need that was at the lowest level, or they will go do something Fun. And I respect that. I can leave a Sim alone and know that the Sim can take care of itself. The Sim can be busy. I can also tell them what to do, and they can say No, because they aren’t feeling well. I can also understand that, even if I don’t like it. It somehow makes them seem more real.

But these Sims had no Free Will. They just sit and wait to be told what to do. I’m pretty certain they would wet their pants and starve to death before getting up out of their chair and taking care of a Need.

They also didn’t have the ability to form attachments to each other. Relationships between Sims had Levels, certainly — Stranger, Acquaintance, Budding Friendship/Romance, Good Friends/Dating, ???/Partners, ???/Engaged, ???/Married. But they had as much effect on the world as two high school girls who are Facebook-married. I planned all the devious relationship stuff that one does with Sims. I had Maria start Dating both Betty and Austin. Then I injected Maciej into the mix, and had him start Flirting with both Maria and Betty. I intended to eventually set Maciej up with Austin. I arranged the meetings so that Maciej was never in the same room as both Betty and Maria.

But this morning, in my sleep-haze playtime, the two other Sims, Elizabeth and Owen, got married. It took a little arranging on both sides, and a lot of unnecessary running around. First I had to build a Park. Then 5 Sims had to go to the Park. Then someone had to Talk with Ducks About the Rings for 7 minutes (????). Then I had to send Elizabeth and Owen back home so they could look at their house one more time before getting married. I got caught in a loop. I sent Elizabeth and Owen back home three times each, before I finally gave up and made them get married at home, with no witnesses.

Anyway, while Betty was Talking with Ducks, I needed something else to do with the other five Sims. Four of them were sitting on benches near each other: Elizabeth, Maciej, Owen, and Maria. I clicked on Maciej and had him start romancing the nearest person — who turned out to be Elizabeth.

Maciej was hitting on the Bride in front of the Groom on their wedding day. Obviously I knew that the actual Day wasn’t very auspicious to any of the Sims, who are a bunch of pixel bits and software, but previous Sims that I’ve played with would get pissed if someone starting Flirting with their Significant Other in front of them. I waited for drama to ensue.

Owen continued to sit on his bench.

I frowned. Now I had Elizabeth Flirt with Maciej.

Owen continued to sit on his bench.

I closed the app and uninstalled it.

I guess I learned today what sort of God I would be, if I ever became one (that, too, is on my list of possible career paths to pursue). I might be the sort of God that incites complicated romantic entanglements to entertain myself, but I also want creations who are capable of responding to their environment. I want creations who make their own decisions, who take care of themselves, who Go to Bed when they are tired and Eat a Snack when they are Hungry. It may not be fun all the time, for me or for them — they will get jealous, they will get angry, they will shake their fist at a God that forces them to paint paintings for 18 hours a day — I will get annoyed when they complain that they are tired and refuse to paint anymore when they are so close to being a Level 2 in Creativity and they could get promoted tomorrow! — but at least I can respect their autonomy. At least they have autonomy. At least I can feel as though these creatures that I’ve made are real living creatures, something beyond a bundle of pixels on top of a bunch of statistics.

Getting an MLS   2 comments

So yesterday at Petsmart, I was cutting pallets open with a manager there. She seems to like me. She caught me on Tuesday organizing dog costumes by size and was absolutely delighted. She knows I used to work at Books-a-Million and seems to think of me as a “fellow book person.”

She said, “Are you planning on getting your master’s degree?”

I said yes, but I couldn’t decide what to get it in. Classical history? Teaching? History?

“Why not library science?” she asked. It turns out that’s what she’s getting her master’s degree in. She thought I seemed like a good candidate for a Masters in Library Science. I confessed that the thought had crossed my mind as well, but I couldn’t seem to decide.

I mentioned the idea to James over lunch, and he gave a chuckle and said that he was doomed to always date librarians.

It’s honestly not a bad idea. All of the non-teaching careers that I’ve considered — archiving, government bureaucracy, working in libraries — all seem to require an MLS. Not to mention that, presumably, knowing library science would help in future historical research. No one really cares that I have a degree in history. What practical use is a history degree, after all? But an MLS, that means I know how to do databases and research and organize things, right? (I guess? Just from scanning shelves in the library science section at Fenwick Library I could tell there was more to it, but most people seem to think that’s all there is to library science)

I decided to do some research this morning. UNC’s program requires 48 credit hours and comes with a technology requirement. They also “look for strong, past academic records, judged by the applicant’s past Grade Point Average (GPA), and we examine the coursework on the student’s transcript(s) to determine personal strengths and areas of mastery. Recently accepted graduate students had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.”

Well great. I graduated with a 3.09 on a 4.0 scale. Now, that 3.5 is an average, but what that means is that I have to be amazing in other areas, like strong recommendation letters, GRE scores, and my statement of interest.

North Carolina Central also has a program; it requires 36 credit hours and mastery in a second language (modern, sign, or computer). It also has an online program. They only require a 3.0 to attend and they don’t seem to list what GRE scores they want, and they only want two letters of recommendation. Also, their website looks a lot less modern than UNC’s website. This is the program my manager is going through.

Honestly, I think that what I need to do now is go out to these various colleges, walk around their campuses, and ask questions from their admissions people and the people who run the programs I’m interested in. This can’t continue to be theoretical. Do I want to work in libraries or archives? Do I want to teach? Do I want to be a classics professor (UNC’s program is basically a training program for classics professors)? What do I want to do with my life? It can no longer be about “what opportunities am I able to get” because I need to go out and get those opportunities.

Poor things   5 comments

James (reading off the internet): “Would you slap your mom for $2 million?”
Kelsey: Yeah.
James: Yeah. I’d just give her a million of it.
Kelsey: I wouldn’t. I would just tell her that I slapped her for $2 million. I feel like we have that kind of relationship where I could do that.
Kelsey: *feels pretty bad about that*
Kelsey: I mean, I’d pay for her house renovations.
Kelsey: I know what she would spend it on.
Kelsey: She would spend it on house renovations.

I haven’t mentioned this before, but at Petsmart, there’s been a leopard gecko that hasn’t been eating. We’ve been keeping him in the back and offering him crickets and worms, trying to get him to eat. He hasn’t, so every morning and night we give him a bit of liquid appetite inducer. We rub some of it on his mouth, and he instinctually licks his lips to get it off. It’s not much, but it’s something.

Well this leopard gecko finally died last night, and I was the one who found him, because of course I was. It was probably one of the strangest moments of my life. I hadn’t particularly liked the lizard, but still, it had once walked this earth. And it was dead. And I had found it. I wasn’t sad. I think I was in shock. I kind of paced in the room for a bit. I completely needed to take a break and deal with the sudden emotion, but it was 8:15 and the store opened in 45 minutes, and I hadn’t fed the birds, hamsters, and reptiles, much less started any of the other opening activities.

I made myself go take care of the birds. It’s a much more automated process, for me, than taking care of hamsters and reptiles. You take out the bowls, dump the food, replace it. The birds fly away from you, so you don’t have to interact with them.

The hamsters were fine, willing to sniff my hand. The reptiles were actually interested in eating mealworms. What made me feel better, really, was people bringing in puppies to the vet. Puppies get a lot of check-ups, so these were completely healthy puppies who were just excited about everything. They wouldn’t sit still for a second, not even for a petting, but they were so happy that it made me happy.

I really want a dog.

The Most Interesting Lizard in the World
I don’t always bang my head against glass, but when I do, I do it for hours on end.

But Sinbad is getting bigger! Look at him!

Sinbad growth

He’s alert and sassy too. I’m nervous about his prospects for adoption. Look at the top picture — his leg problem is never going to go away completely. But he’s really taken off, health-wise.

Man, I thought I had more exciting things to say. But yeah, other than Sinbad and the leopard gecko, I just worked for a few hours this morning, and tonight James and I playing board games at the Gamer’s Armory. I tossed around the idea of running an RPG in Savage Worlds or Josh’s FASTTRPG system. Just to stretch out my GMing legs. James was for it. We tossed around GM theory on the drive home. I need to think of/develop a plot, and then I’ll start reaching out at local gamestores and on reddit, see if there’s any interest. I looked at the Gamer’s Armory flier board; a couple of people looking for games, no one advertising for players. Also, Gamer’s Armory is running a Pathfinder intro on Wednesday nights. I might email the people running that. They’re looking for players and GMs.

Posted September 18, 2014 by agentksilver in Lizard, Personal

Tagged with , , , , , ,

Optimism comes from Latin “optimum: the best thing” so Is optimum sensum est.   1 comment

So on Saturday I came home crying from Starbucks. I had even spoken to HR about how overwhelmed I was feeling. And, to my humiliation, they clearly spoke to my supervisor about how I was feeling overwhelmed, and so he told me that I was doing okay and started saying more encouraging things? And then I was super humiliated? Because HR had done what HR is supposed to do? And then we had a rush and after the rush I went in the back and cried some more? And then I went home and James told me about how he went to Petsmart and there were puppies there? And then I cried because I didn’t see the puppies?

Then after a while I stopped crying and took a shower and James made dinner and everything was okay.

And we played Arabian Nights, one of my personal favorites.

Honestly that seems to have been the peak of my feeling awful. Hopefully. I worked Sunday and tonight as well and so far I’ve been doing okay. I’ve been learning recipes. I’ve gotten the hang of lattes now. I’m remembering the flavorings for different frappuccinos. Tonight, Makaela was in the back, doing dishes, and a woman walked up and ordered a Passion Tea Lemonade. I panicked. Then I took a deep breath and recited the name in my head — Passion Tea Lemonade — and realized what the recipe was. Passion Tea. Lemonade. Ice. Shake. Serve.

I’m still not very good at the job. A guy ordered a latte extra-hot and I forgot to make it extra-hot, so I had to remake it, and then nearly forgot to make the replacement extra-hot. I can’t really handle variations on the recipe yet. But, you know what? I’ve only had this job for two weeks. I think it’s okay that I’m not perfect. And I remembered tonight that this is all part of the plan. I don’t have that dream job yet. But I looked specifically for retail jobs that could cover my bills while I looked for my dream job.

I think I’m going to be okay. I think I’ve settled in enough; I think I can go out and start looking for new friends. New social opportunities. On Wednesday I’m going to go take an exercise class at the fitness center across the street. Then I’ll visit the local game store and see if there are any RPGs looking for players. I’ll start reading the GURPS manual and then find a pre-fab game online to run. I’m going to apply to volunteer at the Wake County Animal Shelter. There aren’t any historical sites in the immediate area, so I’ll cruise through a list of museums and see if there are any that are looking for volunteers.

I’ve become a crazy small pet lady. It’s time for me to branch out, learn new roads, meet new people (seriously, I only know one road here, because I live and work off of it).

This morning I managed to scoop up Sam without frightening him. His reaction was to start running all over me, exploring my arms and legs. I was able to pick him up again and hand him off to James. I’m taking it as a sign. I’ve grown up. I’ve moved beyond the bratty college student who can’t handle responsibility.

I’m feeling optimistic.

[I would have concluded with a picture of Sam but all the pictures I took were blurs]

Posted September 16, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

Tagged with , ,

Ghost Hunters: pt 1/?   1 comment

The last job Claire and Eva worked before Labor Day was at a little farmhouse out in the country. Claire explained that it wasn’t the real real country, the house was only ten minutes from the county seat, but nevertheless the whole place had a very country feel. The house, with peeling paint and holes in the roof, was situated in a two-acre plot of land, marked on all sides by trees. You couldn’t see it from the road, which made it ideal for teenagers to explore and hide in.

“A hive of teenagers,” a cop sniffed.

The land surrounding the house was all grassland, overgrown. The previous occupants had laid down heavy gravel to the three-car garage; otherwise the grass would have prevented penetration by car. Claire and Eva hid their car behind the garage. A car meant adulthood. Adulthood meant legitimacy. They couldn’t appear legitimate, not here.

The house had, at that point, been abandoned by seven years. The owners had foreclosed on the house, had moved on to a small apartment closer to the county seat, where they had managed to find jobs. They were safe. The bank had been unable to sell the house, unable to mow the grass, unable to do repairs. The teenagers claimed the house was haunted. After seven years, the bank was inclined to agree.

Claire and Eva made their move on a Friday night in the last days of summer, when teenagers would feel the impending doom of September and act out, leave their homes, try to capture the last of the summer stars and the freedom of being young and broke. Claire was 23 and Eva nearly 21, but they still looked fairly young. They could mingle with the teenagers and lie about their age. It was better if they lied. Eva claimed 16 and Claire claimed 17. Eva’s hair was jagged and short, too short and too long to look cute; it was awkward and in her eyes. Combined with her cheeks, she could pass for 16, especially in the dark flashlight and candlelight they and the teenagers brought. Claire didn’t look 17, not even in the dark, with her long, confident limbs, neat hair, and wise face. Still, the teenagers accepted her as one of their own; lots of teenagers looked like they were in their early 20s. Perhaps Claire could get them beer later.

Claire and Eva sat with the teenagers and listened to their rituals. There was beer there. Eva was panicked slightly; they were adults and there was teenagers drinking beer. Claire and Eva had decided that the blatant illegality of the whole situation would make it more likely that their plan would succeed. Claire even assured her that her panic made the situation even better. Still, there were cops out there.

The cops had found them, the five teenagers, Claire, and Eva, sitting in the living room doing rituals. Some of it had been show-offish stuff with the candles. There was Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. There was a telephone squeeze game. Claire had even performed a séance (entirely fake, of course). Some of the boys scared the others, pretending to be ghosts, banging the walls and breathing on girls. But finally the cops arrived, in the dark of night.

The teenagers, being teenagers, were driven back home by a pair of the cops. Only two cops remained to interrogate Claire and Eva, who were adults after all.

“Trespassing,” said the cops.

They actually had legal permission, but Claire and Eva kept tight-lipped. They were in real trouble now. Soon it would start.

“Purchasing alcohol for underaged minors,” the cops said.

“Are there any other kind of minors?” Claire asked.

Eva glared at Claire.

“We are going to arrest you,” the cops said.

“You can’t do that,” Eva said, sounding resigned but trying to sound firm. “We pay your salaries.” The cops, predictably, looked annoyed at the comment.

“We weren’t doing any harm,” Claire added. “This old house is so broken down anyway. No one even owns the place.” Claire had been doing this longer.

“Yeah,” Eva said. “Don’t you guys have robbers and murderers to apprehend?”

The two cops began reaching for their handcuffs. The two young women exchanged glances; this was getting serious, and more importantly, it wasn’t working.

Eva grabbed at her necklace, hidden beneath her shirt. The cops jumped a little at the movement. Eva was easily able to unclip the necklace. It was a cheap necklace she had bought for $2.99 eight months ago, but it was the most handy tool in her arsenal. She held it out at arms-length, away from Claire and the cops.

“Oh no,” said Eva. “This necklace was my grandmother’s. My mother gave it to me when my gramma died. I don’t want to lose it!”

The cops stared at her.

Eva felt a pull on the necklace. Her mouth tightened with effort as she pulled back. The necklace dug into her hand. She leaned back, trying to pull them, hell, trying to keep her ground. If the ghosts pulled her towards them, who knew where she would end up?

Claire gasped. There were two ghosts, flickering in and out of her sight; not one, as they had originally thought. She ransacked her brain, trying to come up with some advice for Eva, but her mind pulled up a blank. It was Repellers who handled these jobs, and there were no hard rules for Repelling. Attractors could find ghosts. Attractors were sought out by ghosts. Repellers “only” got rid of ghosts.

Oh. There was one thing she could do.

“There’s two of them!” she shouted.

“What is going on?” one of the cops asked. Claire spared them a glance; their shoulders were wide, they were looking around in all directions. It occurred to her, then, that the lights were flickering. The candles had been blown out, of course, but the flashlights were going off and on. The headlights beaming in from outside were flickering as well.

“It’s working!” Claire shouted. She didn’t know why she was shouting; technically there was no noise. But she could feel noise, in her head, the droning and humming of mundane existence rubbing against the pocket of spirituality of the house. The proximity to the rub – just a few feet away, inches from Eva’s clenching fists – drove her to near-deafness. She rubbed her ears and shouted to the cops, “We have it under control, don’t worry!” She rubbed her temple next. She rubbed the top of her head. It was inside, trying to get out.

Eva considered moving her foot, pulling back and trying to gain harder ground behind her, farther away from the source. But there would be a moment of weakness, before she gained her ground, when she would be at her most weak. It also occurred to her that the pulling wasn’t doing anything except keeping them in one place.

Claire was shouting, which meant that they were almost there. They were so close to get rid of these guys. What, exactly, did they know about these guys, except that they always did the opposite of what anyone wanted (taking out lawnmowers, breaking hammers, drying paint in the can)? But they were doing exactly what Eva wanted. They were where she wanted them to be.

Perhaps they wanted only what they couldn’t have.

Eva held out one of her hands, where another random tool sat on her ring finger, waiting to be used. A $10 ring, found at the same place she found the necklace. Cheapo and made for teenage girls who thought wearing dark clothing made them rebels.

“I hate this ring,” Eva said. “But it’s mine.”

The ghosts swarmed her hand, swirling and rubbing her hand; it was like a hundred hand dryers set at “cool” were covering her hand at once. It was hard to keep her hand still, especially since they dropped the pressure on her necklace. But they had imbued the necklace with their esoterica now. Eva draped the necklace over her hand, then twisted it and wrapped it around her hand again. In the corner of her eye, she saw Claire begin to shake; a cop grabbed her before she fell. Eva again twisted the necklace and made another loop over her hand. She did it four more times, until there were seven loops on her hand.

Everything suddenly became still. Even the cops noticed it. Eva could hear ringing in her ears. Claire slowly stiffened and straightened in the cop’s arms. She gasped something, cleared her throat, and repeated, “Seven.”

Eva nodded. The ringing was overpowering; she wasn’t sure she would be normal for a while.

“They’re gone?” Eva whispered.

“Oh, yes,” Claire said.

Posted September 15, 2014 by agentksilver in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , ,

The taste you can taste   Leave a comment

My manager/trainer, Manny, was not working the Starbucks counter today. Instead, it was Alicia and Kelli, although Kelli was transitioning to the cafe counter. I was nervous. I have never worked Starbucks without Manny and I still don’t know how to make drinks.

“You don’t know how to make drinks?” they asked.

I felt defensive. “Well, I know how to follow the frappuccino instructions on the counter, if you tell me what flavors to use.”

“You’ve worked here for three weeks and you don’t know how to make drinks?”

“No,” I said. “Manny won’t let me.”

Kelli got angry on my behalf and muttered something about talking to management about this. She completely understood that watching someone else make a drink is not the same as learning how to make a drink. She, too, is a hands-on learner. Alicia began to panic. This was as bad as closing by herself — working with a completely untrained barista?

Kelli found a book of recipes. Two, actually. She showed me how the pages worked (drink order/sample picture on the front, actual method of crafting on the back). Those books were my guide to getting through my shift. Sometimes Alicia told me what flavors to use, but mostly I made drinks. By myself. With just a book as my guide.

It was awesome.

I made drinks you guys! Acceptable drinks! The customers could tell that I was new — they kept smiling sympathetically and saying, “First day?” to which I said “Yeah” because heck, I felt like it was my first day. I pretty much have the Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino down pat, and a really good idea of how a Pumpkin Spice Latte works. I just need the book open to remind myself what the flavors are. BAM.

I might go into Target tomorrow. I’m not scheduled to work, but I kind of want to sit down with HR and discuss my situation. Since discovering this book, my comfort level with Starbucks has improved dramatically. But I still don’t feel like Starbucks is the right location for me. But Alicia and Kelli are super-nice and I’m really glad I worked with them.

I did some dry-goods shopping after work. And since I was in charge I could treat myself.

the taste you can see

I am an adult and that means I get to decide that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is an acceptable dinner.

Posted September 12, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

Tagged with , , ,

Optimism, or hamsters   Leave a comment

Voltaire’s Candide: or Optimism is a novel meant to snub noses at the idea of philosophical optimism, or the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds. After all, in this world, bad things happen to good people. The book is about a good, optimistic young man, to whom terrible things happen. He never loses his optimism. Or maybe he does, I don’t know. I’ve never actually read it.*

This is relevant because when I came in to open Petsmart this morning, the entire tank of large feeder fish was infested with some kind of scale disease, and about 60% of the fish were already dead. I spent an hour today pulling dead fish out from the feeder fish tanks. It was disgusting, it was depressing, and it got me behind on my opening tasks.

And yet this is the best of all possible worlds, is it not? If there were a worst world, those fish would still be alive, festering in pain with their scale disease. If this were a worst world, there would be no hamsters.


Via tumblr

*Candide sits on my shelf, waiting for me to decide, on a whim, that I am a smart person who does smart person things like reading philosophical 19th-century literature for fun. Last time I did that, I only got about two-thirds of the way through The Scarlet Letter, which turned out to be a thoroughly dull book not worth reading. I don’t know why Scarlet Letter is so dull: it’s meant to imitate works from the turn of the 19th century. But I’ve read books from the turn of the 19th century, and, like, things happened and the plot moved forward and the writers didn’t try to hide what was happening behind terrible, terrible writing. I HATE SCARLET LETTER.

Posted September 11, 2014 by agentksilver in Personal

Tagged with , , , , ,