I’m sure it’s absolutely normal for rain to dissolve concrete…

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Mornin’ all.

“Myriad” is a weird word. It’s a thesaurian swap-out for such great words as “multitude” and “horde”. As a noun, it’s used the same way.

A myriad of scarabs scuttered with haste over the rapidly decaying carcass.

Nice word.

However, when it’s used as an adjective, things sound awkward.

There were myriad calculations to be done in order to determine the origin of the alleged alien communication.

See what I mean? You take away the “of”, and that just doesn’t sound right. You don’t take away the “of” from “multitude” unless you spiff up the word.

There were multitudinous calculations…

Doesn’t that sound so much better?

Why do we “multitudinous” but not “myriadinous?” Doesn’t “myriadinous” just sound impressive?

Today shall be a great day of feasting. Myriadinous meats and multitudinous meads shall be consumed by princes and paupers alike!

Why is this not a thing?

Two a.m. thoughts, folks.

Odd night of sleep. I woke up at 2, wide awake. Eyes popped open, brain kicked into gear, and there was not one single comfortable position in my bed. Apparently my mind NEEDED to assess “myriad”. Clearly I couldn’t rest until I had come to terms with the bad side of a good word and reconciled my appreciation in spite of the flaws. When I finally did drift back to sleep, I had a rapid succession of swiftly morphing dreams.

It was like…

…hm. Well, perhaps a drug binge maybe, though I’m not really sure what those feel like. The closest I ever got to anything worse than weed was when doctors shot me with something during the child birth hell of my first kid. The world was blurry, the voices were fuzzy, and I’m fairly certain I took a swing at my mum when her breathing coaching was different than what was going on in my head. If I did, sorry, Mum. Blame whatever it was the doctors shot in my ass.

I just considered whether it was like flipping through tv channels, and no, that’s not right, either. When you flip from channel to channel, there is no in-between. You’re either watching some ridiculous lady try and sell you a kuh-wall-ity Diamel necklace, or listening to some boring dude drone on about finances, or trying to keep up with a riveting telenovela even though your grasp on Spanish is rudimentary at best.

What? Oh come on. Don’t act like you haven’t been there.

Last night wasn’t like flipping channels. There weren’t clear breaks between scenes. One dream would start, then something in the dream itself would be a catalyst to morph the rest into a different dream. In your mind, picture a family barbecue. Auntie Phyllis brings you a hamburger, but as she hands it over, you look at the plate and find that it’s a squirming alien baby. Alarmed, you look up to find that you’re no longer at a family BBQ, but in a delivery room trying desperately to save the offspring of a poor alien that crashed to Earth. Phyllis is gone, replaced by Dr. Carson who is begging you to perform CPR. You look back down, ready to bring the limp alien fetus to your mouth to try and find some orifice you can blow into, only to discover that you’re holding a wrench at the top of a huge building, trying to fix an antenna and save the world…

There must have been fifty short stories in the span of about an hour. Imagine the ones I can’t remember! What a trip.

Instead of waking up tired and groggy this morning, I got up feeling rejuvenated in spite of the brevity of my sleep.

I don’t know if you’re a creative person. I am, and I don’t think that’s any mystery, or something to feign coyness over. I like to make things. The quality is up for debate and personal taste, but I do, in fact, make many things. I like to have weird ideas and bring them to life. I do it in writing, sure, but also crafts, art, music… I just like to take the tangled knitting bag of yarn that is my brain and make something real out of it all.

As anyone who is creative can tell you, sometimes you reach into your knitting bag and find nothing to work with. You pull and pull, hoping to find an interesting snarl or a funky-looking tangle that’ll spark an idea, but all you get is straight, brown, boring yarn.

To anyone who is of a creative mind, this brown, neatly sorted yarn is the kiss of death. If a creative individual can’t create, they feel stifled, stranded, and strangled. Every day without a spark feels beige; like they got up, put on sensible shoes, drove their tan Hondas at a reasonable speed to get to their 9-5 inside a cubicle maze with other beige-y folks who spent the morning staring at the loudly ticking clock looking forward to the watery coffee and stale bran muffins in the break room, the brightest moment in their monotonously lethargic day.

Any day without a creative idea feels so barren and bleak that the anticipation of a stale bran muffin is the highlight.

Pathetic.

So when I have a dream series like last night, no matter what it took to get my brain there, it feels wonderful. It puts a pep in my step and makes my fingers twitch to type, or paint, or burrow into clay, or… It feels like a day of possibility.

No wait! I can do better.

It feels like a day of myriadinous possibilities.

It’s raining, too, so that means I’ll actually get a good chunk of time to work on projects. On my grown up “To Do Before Autumn” list are a bunch of outdoor chores. Boo. Boring. I need to pour a cement stair (just one…it crumbled during a rain burst. The other two in the case are fine. Yeah…I don’t know, either.), mow, trim bushes, prep the apple field…

“Don’t you mean orchard, Bethie?”

Only on days where I want to sound uppity. Those are also the days when I talk of the acreage of my berry patches (er, maybe 1/15th of an acre?) and my vineyard (wild grapes that popped up outta nowhere to cling to my falling down redneck garage). On THOSE days I’ll go on about my orchard.

There are only three trees, though, so anyone who knows me in real life would roll their eyes if I waxed too eloquent. The trees were never properly trimmed and trained when they were young, so they’re far too tall to belong to a proper orchard. I’d say they’re easily thirty feet high. Not exactly idea for pickin’. There are two McIntosh trees and one Cortland, and sometimes they grow respectable sized apples. Sometimes, they grow jack shit. Last year between the three, they grew one. One apple reached ripeness. And a worm got to it first.

This year, the super high branches are positively laden with the biggest apples I’ve ever seen on the trees in the 12 years we’ve lived here. It’s a bumper crop.

….waaaaaayyyyy above my head.

Way up high in the apple tree,

Two little apples smiled at me.

I shook the tree as hard as I could,

Down came the apples; mmm were they good!

My mother used to say that little poem for us. I always remember it when I stare up, up, up into the impossibly high branches trying to figure out how in the hell to get those apples that taunt me.

*sidenote: You know, thinking about that poem now, maybe those apples just wanted to be friendly? “Oh, look! A person! Hello, friend! Here’s a smile to brighten your day!” And then what did the person do? “Are those apples…SMILING at me?! Oh NO they di’int! I’ll show those little bastards! NO ONE smiles at ME and gets away with it!” And then he eats them. He eats them for spreading sunshine and kindness. *sniff* The world is an unjust place.*

I’ve tried everything from using a crossbow to shoot a rope over the branches so I can shake the apples loose, to extending grabby-claws on the end of poles to try and pluck the fruit individually. Getting the apples has become a “thing” here. This year, my man thinks I should weld together a grappling hook. The teens want to pepper the trees with BBs, and can’t understand why I think that’s a monumentally bad idea.

See, I don’t have a tree shaker. I could hire one, but there’s no way it could safely get to the trees. A ladder is positively out of the question. I have too much mass, and as much as I’ve begged my molecules to go quantum, I can’t get said mass to ignore gravity.

Pfft. Traitorous slave to physics.

No matter what I come up with, I’ve got to clear the grass out there. Apples are turning red, and soon the tree will start dropping perfectly good fruit. I’ll cut the grass, maybe set up some tarps, and gather the dropped fruit every morning before Nature can send hordes of animals and bugs to feast. Those apples will be bruised from the fall, but they’ll make great applesauce to freeze. Nothing is better on a cold evening than warming up some homemade applesauce to pour over pork chops. Applesauce cake. Applesauce donuts. Applesauce…applesauce. No need to muck it up. Applesauce is delicious on its own. *sighs thinking about autumn food*

I don’t just want applesauce, though. I also want apples for snacking, so I have to get some before they fall. I will create an apple contraption, and I most certainly will tell you all about it, no matter how much of a failure it is (and let’s face it, we’re all secretly hoping I end up with a few apple-sized lumps on my head because that makes for a much better read than if everything goes to plan). That will be a different story I tell on a different day.

Today is for painting. Today is for writing. Today is for listening to music that inspires, and hearing words written by other creators that will twist and gnarl the strands of yarn in my own head until the threads twine into something beautiful and moving. Or maybe something ugly, yet equally moving.

This burst will not last. This wave of rejuvenating creativity will peter out as it always does. There will be a day in the not so distant future when I wake up to a beige world and stuff my feet into sensible shoes, my eyes and ears hungrily seeking another muse as I go about the drudgery of everyday life.

But today, I sit here stretching my unbound bare feet in the thick, fluffy carpet, surrounded by a world of greens freshened by the shining drops of life that fall from the roiling, riotous clouds.

Today there is no beige.

Thus concludes a Morning Musing for Tuesday, August 4, 2015. I’m off to dip my brush in paint and see what happens. I hope you all have an equally verdant day.

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Like stars, novels are born from deep, dark spaces that are best left alone…

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Mornin’ all.

I’m off to a late start today and am already on my second cup of coffee. If the text starts getting jittery by the end, apologies.

I had a series of weird dreams last night, and woke to find my man did as well. Any of you coupled up ever have this happen? There seems to be a vibe some nights. While there’s probably a perfectly logical scientific explanation (my restlessness and physical signs of unease are picked up by his subconscious, which in turn forms his dreams accordingly…blah blah boring blah…), I’d much rather believe in some sort of nebulous shared mind field theory.

i.e.- I’ve got him whipped even in sleep. *evil cackle of glee*

His dreams were a mash up of people and places from his past all confused in space and time. We’ve all had dreams like this, where you mother is now the president of Uganda and orders you to join that kid you used to play with that summer you were five and haven’t seen since, so the two of you can go repair the gaping pot holes on I-91…or some shit like that. These kinds of dreams are odd, and make you chuckle and say, “Huh. What the hell, brain?” It’s as if your mind takes tons of snippets of memory, sticks them in a Boggle shaker, and then tells you to try to make sense of the jumbled mess that results.

Anyway, he had dreams like that last night. Snippets mish-mashed with others snippets to produce one of those Hollywood “insider” films that no one really understands.

I had two dreams last night that I distinctly remember. In the first one, I led a team of scientists on a mission ordered by the government to study and observe all forms of the undead in the wild so Congress could finally get a definitive set of standards of classification and terminology in order to create better protection laws. Those were the parameters of my mission, and it seemed the main focus was to be on determining the scientific differences between “zombies” and the more general “undead,” because in creating laws designed to protect them in their natural habitats, Congress was divided on whether or not zombies truly died first, or simply went into a dormant state from the living virus inside until the virus could multiply enough to control the flesh and make it walk.

A very compelling argument, indeed.

The second dream I had took place in a butcher shop. We were butchering lambs and joking around, when one of the butchers cut into the skull and a disc-like parasite jumped out and landed in his eye. He started sweating and when we asked what was happening, he said, “I saw this back in Canada in ’06. Looks like it’s come to the states!” …I clearly remember that because it was a total horror movie line and you really don’t forget when your brain is that fricken awesome. The parasite began to take hold of his body, and we scrambled to decide the best way to stop the infestation. Alas, I woke before I found out if he made it. Judging by the tense music, odds didn’t seem to be in his favor. Poor Canadian Ralphie.

So, when we woke, my man told me about his dream and how odd it was. I nodded and kept my dreams to myself. I mean, it’s Sunday. And I’m looking forward to a relaxing day wrapping up a video game. I don’t really want to be committed to the psych ward on such a lovely, lazy day.

Let’s see what happened this week in the news. Surely there are things there to discuss that won’t get me a fancy white coat to wear in a padded room!

Some parents of the Newton victims are suing the estate of the shooter’s late mother. This one, this gets me. I understand the parents are still trying to get adequate public blame placed on the event. It’s not about the money, it really isn’t. They want a court to say, “Yes, that mother was a bad mother and failed, and because of it, your child suffered.” But that won’t give the parents the peace of mind they’re looking for, and I can’t help but feel furious at the lawyer leading the charge. That lawyer IS doing it for personal gain. That lawyer has rounded up hurting parents and promised them the first restful night of sleep since the tragedy occurred for personal profit. Sometimes there is no closure. That mother died, too. Lanza’s mother paid the ultimate price. If she was a shitty mum, her son already exacted every possible revenge. There is a time to stop. And greedy lawyers egging these hurting families on is just shameful.

I could go on. The Lanza story hits me in so many ways, especially the handling of the aftermath by the press and public at large, that I honestly could write a book on it. Maybe I will…but not today. Let’s move on to other news as we get back to placidly sipping our third cup of java.

Apple unveiled a watch and Hillary Clinton unveiled emails. Does anyone really care about either of these stories that have ridiculously taken up 90% of my newsfeed headlines this week? With everything else going on in the world, these two stories bombarded all the other stuff. They even had “updates”. Updates? For what? I just literally told the entirety of these two stories in one sentence. No updates necessary.

I don’t want to be angry and sad, and I don’t want to be bored. There’s got to be a story we can really sink our teeth into. I know…video game news!

“Ugh, Bethie. Not more stupid video game stuff I don’t care about.”

Actually, it’s more a business story. Gaming is simply the business involved.

“I feel like this is another trap to discuss Bow-somebody taking power mushrooms…”

*…twitch…twitch…spasm…* *deep, patient breath*

No. I promise I won’t get into any actual gaming details. Need a pot sweetener? It makes a multi-billion dollar international company look like assholes.

“Sold!”

Sony is a thing. They own PlayStation, a gaming console. Wanting to keep hip with the youngsters, they created the PSN, or PlayStation Network. It’s a service that allows PlayStation console users to download demos, games, ads, videos… Think of it like gaming Netflix.

“Okay, I’m with ya…”

It’s been around for quite some time now and is wildly popular. They have millions of global users signed up for the service. And of course, that’s not free. People link a credit card to their account to pay for the games, movies, and subscription fees. Because it’s so huge, with so much cc info stored, it’s a major target for hackers. It’s a bug zapper on an August evening at the swamp.

Classically, Sony has done their level best to keep the hackers at bay. There’s only so much a company can do, though. If there is a piece of technology that is controlled by even a single line of code, then it CAN be corrupted. It’s just the nature of the beast. It’s a challenge. With every new safety feature a tech company adds, the hackers’ jaws set in firmer lines of determination. Now add to that potential billions of dollars unsuspecting users throw into the tempting pot, and the hunger to crack the codes and corrupt the programming only grows.

Hacks happen. In the past, I sighed or chuckled when PSN has gotten hacked, but I’ve never blamed them like some folks do. There is no way to plan for crazy, and there is no way for anyone to know every possible weak point until they are breached. I can’t blame Sony for hackers getting lucky from time to time.

However, the problem with this particular story is how Sony decided to handle the situation when one user with the handle “Kadjar” had his PSN account hijacked and discovered that $600 was charged to his linked bank account. Kadjar noticed the situation almost immediately and contacted Sony’s customer service for help.

So how did egg-on-their-face Sony handle the situation?

By threatening Kadjar, refusing to refund his money, and blackmailing him into dropping any idea he may have had about legally pursuing the thief.

This is how Sony decided to make things “right” with Kadjar. He was told that he couldn’t get his money back. That was gone, even though Sony told users their information was secure on their servers. Kadjar could, however, get a $150 credit in his PSN “wallet” that was good for only buying Sony games and services. Sony said they would then launch a full investigation, which is good, but at the end if Kadjar was, in fact, determined to be a victim and not a scammer, any “refund” would be in PSN wallet credits. When Kadjar protested, he was told that if he tried to contest the charges with his bank, his PSN account would be erased.

“Well, isn’t that a good thing? Doesn’t sound like he should want to be a member anymore to me.”

Right, except that how PSN works is that when you download games that you legally purchased, sometimes for upwards of $60 a pop, the digital rights are stored on the PlayStation Network. It used to be that all games came on a physical medium…cartridge, disc, whatever the hell they call those ridiculously tiny handheld things. Those physical games contained the digital rights within their code. It’s a way to make sure people aren’t pirating games. There’s a unique ID assigned to each and every game that’s needed to play it. If the game system can’t see the code, you can’t play the game.

What Sony was saying was not that he just couldn’t be a member of the PSN anymore, but that he would lose any and all rights that he already legally paid for. Forever. He would have to get a new PlayStation, since his PS ID would be banned, log on with different information, and re-purchase all of the content.

Just to be clear, Sony point blank told poor Kadjar that if he took any further steps to get his OWN MONEY BACK, they would steal EVEN MORE from him.

Now, Kadjar posted a screen grab of his first interaction with PSN customer service on his Reddit account. He contacted them through their live chat. The info in it is sort of vague and unclear, so Kadjar not only called customer service to get clarification and posted his breakdown of that convo, he did a little digging and found three other similar user stories that supported his own experience. Sony ass kissers are quick to point out that it’s a Reddit user and we have no way of knowing the actual facts. Sony haters are quick to ignore some of the ambiguous language in the original chat.

My point is that either way, it does not at all look good for Sony. As I said, hacks happen. There’s a valid point that in these types of situation, the company is also a victim and shouldn’t be expected to be held responsible. I can see that POV, and actually could agree with it in this case IF Sony didn’t tell the dude he had to stop legally pursuing refunds through his bank. That’s where they totally crossed the line into Assholeland, in my opinion. You can’t threaten to suspend a user’s account for doing what he’s SUPPOSED TO DO when he gets robbed simply because you’re afraid it’ll make your company look bad.

Bet Sony’s rethinking that choice themselves at this moment! This made mainstream news. It’ll be interesting to see if there is any type of investigation into their business practices, or if this, too, will be swept under the rug alongside Kadjar’s $600.

And lest you think I’m simply a Sony hater, I’d just like to state, for the record, that I don’t think Microsoft, Nintendo, Steam, or any other similar networks are any different. In fact, they probably ALL handle hack victims the same way. I’m not fan-girling for one or the other. I think they ALL handle hacks poorly. Sony just did it in a way that kind of sums up every individual complaint into one pile of shittery.

It’s about time stories like this make the news, especially with the industry shift away from physical copies of games into downloads and cloud-stored rights. As embarrassed as Sony might be, this is actually GOOD for the gaming industry. If the future of gaming is going to rely on cloud services, then these issues are the next big hurdles the industry as a whole MUST start to get a handle on. Hacks aren’t going away, and the more people sign on to use cloud services, the more faith they put in these servers. If the industry doesn’t get its act together and offer some better level of protection, and satisfaction when their safety nets fail, they’re GOING to start losing customers. That WILL happen and then the industry is going to find themselves scrambling against the demand for…

“…*snore*…”

You put up with it longer than I thought you would. *shrug* Guess I can’t complain.

Thus concludes a gamy Musing for Sunday, March 15, 2015. I’m leaving you with my favorite quote from my favorite author who shuffled off this mortal coil this week.

“They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.”

Sir Pratchett, you will be missed.