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Category Archives: Idle Words.

Holy shit… I missed all of 2014 and most of January 2015.

So, here am I back after a near 13 month hiatus, wondering why the hell I didn’t write at all during the previous number of months.  Writing for Cultura is slow, but steady; the Lay of Seidenbard is still slowly (read: very slowly) progressing.  Further, I’m no longer a bureaucrat.  I departed from the steady progress I’d been doing for a number of reasons, all of which I hope to express and discuss further.  I also intend to write a music review a week, offer an update on Cultura/the Lay once per week.  I won’t have much more time than that as I’m moving to start a scientific job within the next week to the east coast.

Like previously, I hope to feature songs and/or a inspirational piece of art once per day (some of Paimona’s newer pieces, if possible).

The section in which I make excuses:

So… why didn’t I write for a damn year and month?  Simple: I was exhausted.  Being more prone to quiet introspection and carrying a generally introverted disposition, my position within the monolithic pyramid could either be performed coldly or spun in a more humanistic way.  Being a metal fan, I decided to rebel against the standard order of business and applied far more supportive techniques; the end result being that I was available and open to my subordinates and their clients as often as I could allow.  The structure does not like this, I noticed, but it won me high praise from my direct managers.  However, the interpersonal interaction that faced the typical day’s work left my nerves and mind to an absolute frazzle (as my very Southern forebears would say).

In the interest of full disclosure as I still maintain a level of anonymity here, my position was as a specialist and later a supervisor at a Department of Human Services (in some states, Social Services) in a small, southern flyover state.  The overall state’s population is unimportant, but suffice to say that it is a poor, historically so, state with poor access to education and a history of segregation.  This office is located in one of the larger counties in the state, exhibiting both very urban (for the state) and rural populations with a far higher degree of diversity than the flyover states are often considered as having.  In the local area, there is a major state run university, a private fundamentalist Christian university, several community colleges, and a number of vo-technical schools.  Major companies in the area are dominated by a global, multibillion US Dollar per year company and its satellite vendor companies, agribusinesses of all types, and transportation.  In other words, there are a lot of people (and goods) coming in and out of the area for a variety of reasons.

The agency itself evokes a snapshot of feudalistic grandeur both (a testament to medieval law and administration).  Many hours travel from the capital city of the flyover state, the county office sits tucked into a curious hinterland – one that is very much part of the state and the other that is very much independent of it at the same time.  This dissonance was astounding.  Previous to the October 2013 threshold (see the link for further information), the role of the specialist within the agency was to interview, document, and dispose (official term for completing) of applications for SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families – formerly welfare), and Medicaid (services ranging from children’s programs to medicare assistance).  After ACA began in October 2013 and after the policy writers and managers returned to their jobs, Medicaid became a mostly automated system with applications occurring through the Federal Healthcare Marketplace or the State Healthcare Marketplace.  Hospitals hired specialists away from the agency and governmental contractors did as well, because the positions paid better, offered better hours, and better benefits.  All these are valid reasons for leaving employment, especially after the threshold of fear ramped up due to the governmental shut down.

Returning to the new marketplaces, it became evident early that were a number of issues with the new web-based data hub driven system.  This was explained effectively by a high ranking member as “attempting to build the airplane after we’d all ready taken off.”  Due to the new income thresholds, the number of new available categories for Medicaid eligibility, and a relaxation in some policies, more people than ever were eligible for Medicaid services, ranging from full coverage (very few) to assistance in paying private premiums.  The hiccups in the system and the delay in training made serving the valid questions of these individuals difficult, time consuming, and heart wrenching for both parties involved.

Having become a supervisor a earlier in the same year this unfurled, I came to realize my role as defined by the agency was to review cases of all types for accuracy, ensure timeliness, and to maintain some semblance of order/discipline.  In actuality, the role needed to be redefined. Accountability needed to be shared to all points of the team, transparency needed to rule (where it could, obviously one need not violate the places where it was not allowed), and the staff needed a leader that was available, open, and honest.  The clients needed this more than anything, because the emphasis returned to focus on the barest fact – the currency of the agency’s work is generally the people that we serve and not the statistics that they become when their application is approved or denied.

Personally, 2014 opened with a heartbreak.  Paimona and I had discovered that we were pregnant (we’d been trying for nearly 4 years to have another child).  We miscarried to start the year and I had to center myself to her grief to help her heal from it (you never do, I don’t think… there are times when I still think on it and cry).  Fortunately, we have an awesome, wonderful, scientifically minded big kid with a great attitude, a beautiful smile, and a penchant to give the best hugs for which a dad could ever ask (her team went undefeated in softball! in the Spring)  This, though she was just as heartbroken, was the only way we were able to pull ourselves from it.  My role as a bureaucrat began taking between 45-60 hours per week, my second job began taking 10-20 hours a week, and the rest of it was devoted to family.  This is why it’s such a BIG DEAL that I got a single job, performing science for one company, earning as much as I would working both currently.

These facts combined resulted in the loss of my “ear” as it were for music.  I was too tired, emotionally and mentally, to fully devote my time and energy to that when I had so many other projects going.  Therefore, I had to abandon this dream here, which is something I appreciate when it works well to keep my nose to the grindstone and continue writing.  It makes me think of creativity and the process of it all.

The plan:

Given that this period has now ended, I intend to return to writing a review per week and featuring some of the new promos and other information that I still get as result of my previous writing.  I’m not going to catch up what I missed in 2014, I can’t, but I can continue from where I left.  To heal from my job with DHS, I will be writing a section regarding a particular facet of what the position entailed either each day or three times a week, depending on how much time allows.

Ultimately, I’m left with the question: “Is it such a crime to go apart and be alone?”

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Rumination: A Return to the Normal

My vacation, now over, has been a respite from the daily routine of continuous work.  In my line, there is no true sense of completion.  It’s akin to playing Tetris constantly; that written, it is equal parts rewarding and invigorating when things go right.  I used the time to refresh my mind.  I’ve caught up on writing for Cultura, but not for the Lay (which is fine because the system is more important than my own creative writing).

In all accounts, we are back to normal here, I think.  It’s something we’ll find ourselves focusing on for a while is to finish out this year strong, writing and finalizing thoughts.  Coming through the end of the year, I’ll not be writing the week of American Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Just as a head’s up, mostly, but ultimately, I’ll be planning on releasing the best album lists the last week of the year.  I try to review albums of the current year (Jan 1 through Dec 25).  I’ll compile a list of my favorite albums of the year, my favorite songs, albums I didn’t review but should have, albums I didn’t review because I didn’t enjoy the music, and my favorite new band (to me) of the year.  I look forward to 2014, where I’ll begin working on the actual play testing of this monster I’ve created and hopefully to having a completed manuscript for the Lay.

Look forward to new comics as well.  Anyway, cheers on the upcoming week.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in Accountability, Geek, Idle Words., Introduction

 

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Hoarding…

Gawker has the full story on this, but suffice to say, this is a bit much:

“The skeletonized remains of a woman missing for nearly 30 years were found behind a false wall in the basement of the woman’s former husband, who neighbors described as an intense hoarder.”

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Anthropology, Idle Words., Ire

 

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Weekly Writing Review: In which it’s been a while…

It’s been a month since I’ve written one of these posts; mostly because I’ve been so busy of late that writing very much more than I have for the blog has been nearly impossible.  This appears to have cleared and I’m back to writing on both my fiction and the game.  Attending concerts on successive weekends was a blast as was the music that I’ve reviewed over the past two weeks.  I really enjoyed writing the Hippie Metal posts as well.

Anyhow, thanks for reading us and for continuing to support.  Have a great week!

 
 

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Weekly Writing Review: In which I spent the weekend ill…

You know, the point of working is getting to the weekend with enough money to a.) eat, b.) enjoy your time and become involved in a hobby or interest, and c.) involve your family in all the above.  This is impossible when your nose becomes packed with cement and you arrive home, passing out in bed not ten minutes after walking in the door and sleeping for an hour.  Then, still attempting to go do the things you want before returning home and passing out again for two more hours, which then borks your sleeping schedule up, making you fall asleep at some ungodly time in the morning before waking up at your usual time for work.  All the while, you still feel fucking terrible.  Being sick prevents you from doing none of the above, which is what the reward of work should be, but makes it where everything in life fucking sucks just enough that you do not want to get shit done.  I believe I knew I was coming down with something Thursday night, which is why I probably did not feel like writing in the morass of the other responsibilities that I had.

Oh well…

On the bright side, I did finally figure out how to integrate casting style into Cultura’s magic system and begin developing it so that player choice defines EXACTLY how your character uses their style and what it MEANS for the caster in question.  That’s pretty fucking sweet if you ask me.

As always, thanks for reading.  Have a great week!

 

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Nocturnal Ruminations: Intelligence Disappearing into an Alternative Space

Inspired by the commentary from this post of all places, I spent time thinking today on the current realities. Most specifically, “With us being on the verge of complete environmental simulated encapsulation through either consumer-friendly VR glasses or full-room projections, the day will come where we’re able to transport ourselves directly into our characters. I don’t know if philosophically that level of escapism is advisiable(sic).”

Reality, to wit, is created anyhow. It is socialized from the moment we are born and constructed into us by the cultural inputs of our times. For example, this is the dreaded “generation gap” when it comes to parenting or educating. My parents, who were from a different period of time and from a far more geopolitical insular area of my home than I, raised me different than I am raising the spawn. I learned far different things than she does as well. My comic books were hard earned via chores and brought tangible (yet environmentally unfriendly) publications of brightly colored heroes whereas her accomplishments and chores often bring digital (yet environmentally friendly) reward. The concept is the same, but the reward occurs in a different space; one we cannot touch.

The Computer Age brought about a new period in human reality that had heretofore been defined in the most basic of senses: the tangible and the imagined. It brought a GUI to our imagined interface, fulfilling a prophecy of the Matrix’s philosophy it would so seem. Instant access, instant communication, instant and stalking knowledge of what and where your peers are. The family reunion became a Facebook group and profundity occurs in 140 characters or less. These are earmarked localities that define our identities, except these localities exist in only a mental place. Similar to Palaniuk’s discussion regarding how identity is more than the contents of ones wallets, you are more than your Facebook profile and you are more than your Twitter feeds.

Yet in this space, you elect a persona, adapting the identity you wish to portray. Look at your Facebook profile, realize that the bands you like at a given time do not demonstrate a specific set of life codes and photographs are just memories in still life and captured in frame. Exploration of the Yukon becomes a google search, and the image is easily referenced again, and again, and again. Ultimately, social media becomes an echo chamber of what you are and what you favor; something that was constructed starting from the moment you were born. Those who disagree with you are ignored or quieted while those that agree scatter a feed, solidifying your beliefs. Think of the irony in this: the space that was created to offer infinite ability to speak one’s mind, to learn about new things, and explore things digitally has condensed down into a social chamber of echoes, bouncing from all sides.

To a large extent, I have embraced this identity that I have created here for this blog. Buer, a Lieutenant of Hell, whose name was mentioned in the Pseudomoncharia Daemonium, is just a face I use for anonymity’s sake. It is something I have to do, because of my current employment. I readily and open embrace the idea that I constructed this identity, but this is not alone the place that we construct identities or thoughts. We do so at work, school, home, &c. We, in as much as we want to know ourselves, are constructed by the perceptions of others and our own self perceptions (remember the Thomas Theorem). Who I am at home is not who I am at work and neither of these were who I was at school.

Nietzsche writes that in life what does not kill us, makes us stronger. Then therefore, in thought, what must be defended makes one more thoughtful. The adverse effect of an echo chamber is that one does not have to defend their thoughts or their opinions, rather they are expressed and then reblogged, retweeted, or liked. We can go through life being entirely validated constantly by people who’s thoughts and opinions we too validate! This is not intellectual maturity; this is not life; this is not education. This is a sign of a construction of comfortable and interchangeable social liaisons through we cut the fat of those that are disagreeable to our deeply held and lead filled convictions. Yet, all the while, we see the negative effects of overuse.

One of the most addictive narcotics is the persona you cultivated. It is a cult of Ego so overwhelming and at times abusive that once overwrought, you cannot see who you are and what you truly believe anymore. Returning to Nietzsche in summation: “Europe has spawned two great narcotics: alcohol and Christianity.” In the Computer Age, we have spawned a third: “the Persona.” Some recognize their own hand in the creation of their online identity, whereas others completely and wholesale purchase it. Advertisers now market to you a fragment of a means to construct your reality.

 

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Diurnal Aural Experiences: Amorphis’ Silent Waters

One of the best songs I’ve heard; it’s tone and mood seem to fit the day spot on.  Enjoy!

Also, interesting site that NCS linked on a discussion about Deafheaven.  It’s called Steel for Brains and discusses artistic creation from the artist’s perspective.

 
 

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