"The light shall give the dark of the matter, and new paths shall open to you." - Ravel Puzzlewell

Wrong Choice?

Hrrm, maybe I should have voted for Mitt Romney….

Hooray For Books!

Today is finally the day for the book post I’ve been wanting to write since I started thinking about this blog. My friend, Celesteral, started the whole thing by writing her first blog post on books, and then my friend, Rakuno (today is Hug a Ratonga Day so be sure to give him hugs) was inspired by her post and wrote his own. I’ve been inspired to write mine since reading both of theirs.

Books have been a constant friend and comfort to me for all of my life. Some people drowned their worries, cares, sadness, and anger away with alcohol. For me, I drowned everything with books. Mind you, I didn’t have a huge amount of bad stuff happen to me while I was growing up, but things still upset me pretty easily, so if I was upset, I could move into a better place inside a book for a while.

I started reading on my own when I was three years old. My mom would do flashcards of both letters and simple math, and she would also read to me, and on that fateful day when I suddenly started reading for myself, I was looking through a book called Old Hat, New Hat, and was looking at the words and realized that they made sense to me. I started putting the words together into the sentences, and those made sense too! I was so excited, I ran to my mom and had to read the book to her too, and then…then there was no stopping me. I read everything! I attempted to read everything at the library too, including a book I was very excited about at the time called Ping, about a duck who was lost on a river.

When I started elementary school, they put me into advanced reading and allowed me access to every part of the school library, including all of the books that were reserved for the older kids. I was already reading at at least fifth grade level the day I started school in first grade. (I  never went to kindergarten.) The grades in elementary school only went up to fifth grade, and I was never tested for an actual reading level, so I don’t know my reading level other than that I was able to read the fifth grade books in the library as well as everything else. My parents had a set of encyclopedias at home and I would read those too, especially the science and nature sections that dealt with the planets, stars, and animals.

At some point in my teens, I even joined the Astronomy book club. I wasn’t able to afford to buy a lot of books outside of the three or four that were required per year to remain a member, but I was able to initially get a number of books for free when I joined, so it was heavenly (no pun intended) for me to be in that book club and be able to see all the wonderful astronomy and science books that were available each month.

I can’t remember exactly when I got into reading fantasy and science fiction. I’d always been interested in fairy tales and ancient mythology and outer space, and one of the books I’d owned as a small kid was called, You Can Go To the Moon which I really liked. At some point in elementary school, I remember reading a book about some kids who had been captured by aliens. I don’t remember the name of the book or even what happened in the book outside of “kids getting captured by aliens” but by the time I was in seventh grade, I had joined the Science Fiction Book club and was subscribed to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

It was after joining the Science Fiction Book Club that I discovered books like the Foundation Trilogy and other Isaac Asimov stories and novels, Dragonriders of Pern, the Amber series,  Witch World, and even H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve been reading fantasy and science fiction books ever since, even though my reading has slowed down a lot since the internet, university classes, and MMO’s.

I would pretty much read anything that wasn’t nailed down, and even anything that was nailed down if I could get to it. I’d bring books everywhere I went. Car trips no matter how short, in the grocery store or mall while waiting in line, family gatherings, summer camp…everywhere. Even if I didn’t get to actually read sometimes, I’d feel comforted by the fact that a book was available for me to read at any time.

Nowadays, I don’t belong to any book clubs because it is much easier to find a variety of books at the public library as well as buying them for good prices online, either new or used. Plus, I have a Kindle now and have been enjoying getting digital copies of many books for even more portability and much less annoyance when moving. I don’t have to limit myself to carrying around just one or two books, or even lugging around a backpack, but I can now have an entire digital reading library with me just about anywhere I go!

This post only scratches the surface of my thoughts concerning books and reading, but since this post is starting to get pretty long, I’ve decided to save some of those thoughts for future posts.

Guns and Survivors

In order to try to calm my feelings of anxiety and dread for Monday that I mentioned in my first blog post, and that has been getting increasingly worse as the week has progressed, I’ve been watching a lot of movies and shows on Netflix. One series that I’ve been enjoying is Survivors, a British show that aired on the BBC. One thing that has been growing more and more noticeable to me as I’ve continued to watch seems to be a very large cultural difference between Great Britain and the U.S. when it comes to guns.

Now if Survivors had been a U.S. show, there would be no doubt that the survivors of an apocalypse of any sort would be using guns in their arsenal against all the thugs, murderers, and raiders that would be taking advantage of a very lawless situation. But in this show, I have been astounded numerous times how often the main characters are threatened by thugs using guns, and they somehow manage to survive and thrive nearly gun-free.

There is one character who had been in prison before the virus wiped out most of the population and at some point, he is able to obtain a shotgun. Not to use against his allies, mind you, but against the same gun-wielding thugs that had been threatening them, not to mention other dangers. But oh my, the uproar his having a shotgun caused among his allies! I was literally astounded that they would be so adamantly against using any weapons they had available considering all of the dangers of their situation.

For as much as I’m enjoying the show so far, this anti-gun view seems unrealistic and naive, especially in a completely lawless situation where there are no gun regulations. Since Great Britain does have very restrictive gun laws, it might be more difficult for ordinary citizens to find guns  when the world falls apart, but what’s with the attitude once they do find one and they finally have some protection from the criminals who are already loaded down with such weapons and have no qualms about using them? If this had been a real survival situation and not a TV show, most of those people wouldn’t have lasted a week while depending on the goodness of raiders and thugs not to shoot them. I guess I just have more of a Fallout mindset where you stock up on the guns and ammo as well as water, rations, and other odds and ends because it’s best to be prepared for whatever may happen.

Either the producers of this particular show have some sort of anti-gun agenda to present to viewers, or it’s more of a cultural difference and the average citizen of Great Britain wouldn’t find it to be unusual at all, while to me the attitude is just puzzling given the situation.

I Voted Early

This morning I walked to the town community center to fulfill my civic duty and vote for this year’s election. I had a sample ballot all prepared so that I would remember who I wanted to vote for for all of the positions such as judges and county commissioners, etc. The candidates that you rarely if ever hear anything about unless you make a significant effort to find out about them. I was very close to the community center when I suddenly realized I’d left the sample ballot at home. I didn’t walk back to get it. I just hoped my choices would jar a memory when I got the real ballot.

Thinking I had been prepared by bringing my Kindle so I could read instead of be bored waiting in line, I didn’t realize that for most of the line, they didn’t allow electronic devices to be turned on. At some point I asked the purpose for that rule since I couldn’t figure out how a Kindle would be able to jam the ballot scanner or hack into anything. The reasoning is that cell phones are distracting (agreed) and there is a concern about the cameras. Since the Kindle isn’t a phone or a camera, I didn’t see how it applied, but nevertheless, I just stood there quietly in line waiting for the moment when it would be over. It didn’t help that someone nearby just really smelled bad, so I felt I could barely breathe. Plus, all the activity and voices around me were also jarring as I’m still not recovered at all from being around people at work, and I’m very sensitive to everything.

I’d brought my voter registration card so I wouldn’t have to tell them how to spell everything, but the lady didn’t want to see it. Apparently, there is less voter fraud by trusting what people say to them rather than them showing any sort of proof of documentation. I could have told them I was Mary Smith (name made up for example) down the street and so long as I knew how to spell my name and address, I would have been in so long as the real Mary Smith hadn’t made an appearance.

Since we have a huge problem with people being in this country illegally, the voting locations decided to make it easier for them to illegally vote as well by printing big posters of instructions in Spanish. Now with very few exceptions, one of the requirements for being a U.S. citizen (and hence allowed to vote) is, “You must be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language.” So why the need for all of the voting instructions in any language other than English? If you’re a U.S. citizen, then you should know basic English, right? (I realize that many who have been citizens since birth don’t know basic English either, but I can guarantee you that those same people also do not know Spanish or any other language other than grunts or possibly l33t sp33k since they have to be able to text each other using something.)

And then people wonder why there are issues with voter fraud.

So I proudly wore my “I voted early” sticker home for no one else to see and came to the computer to type up this blog post since all these thoughts were running through my mind on the walk back.

Oh and for the record, I did vote for Obama. He’s less likely to stick me into a binder, after all. :P

Le Sigh

I was going to write my first post about books, but I believe that topic will end up being for my second post because I haven’t been able to really focus my thoughts on it today. I’ve been on vacation from work this week and have been able to mostly not think about it which has helped me immensely, but then last night I had a dream about something work-related and I woke up very fitful and have been feeling nothing but anxiety and dread all day today so far.

Even though I still have the rest of the week of vacation left, I still know in the back of my mind that Monday is still coming again, and then I will be reporting back to the literal hell that is corporate existence for 8+ grueling, never-ending hours a day of being a fake person in a dreary environment that is completely dissonant with my values. The feelings of anxiety I’ve been going through today about it have been the only thing that have kept me from just crying all day. I am really very depressed about the whole situation and have been unable to think of any way out other than just quitting the job, which of course comes with its own set of problems. I just feel so enslaved and trapped right now.

(Please note for the record that I am not suicidal and under no condition have any plans of harming anyone, including myself.)

I think part of what is making me so sad today is that having these few days to myself, in quiet and away from other people, has just been so wonderful that it just makes my thoughts of the upcoming misery all the worse. It’s almost been difficult to enjoy them because I know that it’s all just going to be ripped away from me again come Monday. I have been trying hard to keep myself from thinking about it so that I can enjoy the rest of the day, and maybe even the week, but this situation has been going on for me for so long now that no amount of living in the moment, positive thinking, being optimistic, etc. is working anymore. The  cracks are widening to a critical point.

I’m hoping that by writing all of this out in a post, I will be able to put it out of my mind for at least the rest of the day. I was doing so well until today in fighting negative thoughts about work…until I had that dream. I just want to put some bread and cheese into a kerchief (like they do in fairy tales), put the bundle on the end of a stick, lock the house door behind me, and just walk away from it all. Even a zombie apocalypse would be welcome to me at this point.