It’s Camp NaNo time!

It’s Camp NaNoWriMo time! Yaaaaaaaaay!
Well, okay. I don’t love Camp NaNoWriMo. That’s mostly because I tend to set my writing goals way too high. 1000 words a day? With this much depression knocking around in my head?????

Yeah. Nope. I’m not doing that to myself. This year, I’m taking a different approach.

This year, for Camp NaNo, I’m writing a short story. As far as word count goes, I’m shooting for 10,000 words — that’s less than 300 words a day, which is something I can manage pretty well.
Basically, I’m taking it easy on myself, relatively speaking. I’m still going to push myself, writing-wise — I’m sitting down at this keyboard seven days a week and banging out words, because forcing myself to sit down and write is usually the easiest way to make words come out of my hands. But I’m making an effort to be kinder to myself when it comes to my daily output, and this is going to be an extension of that.
I’m not really trying any new things this month as far as tools or my writing process goes. I started using WordGrinder a few months ago for my personal writing projects (read: my partner and I write goofy and gay fanfiction when we’re bored), and it plus git seems to work really well for me. So I’ll keep that strategy — although it occurs to me that I’ve never done a writeup on WordGrinder before, so maybe that’s in the future.
Anyway, more about the story, because I know you’re just dying for details — how could you not be, after all. It’s a speculative fiction piece, and it involves:

• planes
• queer people
• smuggling hormones to trans folks
• did I mention the planes?
So yeah, I’m pretty excited about this one. Let’s see how it goes!

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Happy Belated Autistic Pride Day!

I didn’t get a chance to write about this yesterday (I was pretty busy formatting a buttload of floppy disks, as per my new Special Interest), but yesterday was Autistic Pride Day! Wheeee!

I saw some people expressing frustration about this day being in June (Pride Month) instead of April (Autism Acceptance Month), and I figure I’ll throw my own two cents in here, for what it’s worth.

As a queer autistic person, I love the fact that Autistic Pride Day falls within Pride Month. Autism and queerness are very much intertwined for me; I don’t think I could have one without the other. And although I celebrate them both separately, I very rarely get the chance to celebrate them together.

Autistic Pride Day gives me a chance to do that.

To all my queer neurokin out there: I see you. I love you. ❤

An update!

I’ve been pretty busy the past few weeks and haven’t had time to really discuss anything with anybody, even really close friends, so here’s a general catching-up-and-update post, in my favorite format: an imaginary person asking me questions, which you may or may not be curious about!

 

So where did you go? You were gone a long time.

Back in April, I mentioned to some folks that I was going to be starting school soon, but I was pretty quiet on the details. Since it went well, I feel more comfortable talking about it. 🙂

I spent five weeks at the Michigan Career and Technical Institute, which is a state-run trade school for people with disabilities, in what was basically an assessment period to see which of their programs would be a good fit for me. Since the school’s state-run and I was referred there by the state’s disability services, I don’t have to worry about tuition or room and board while I’m there, which is amazing. It’s about three hours from my house, so I didn’t get to go home the entire time. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from my dogs, and it wasn’t a very fun time in that regard. But I did enjoy my term there, and made a few friends.

I knew before I went into the school which program I was aiming for — office automation, which is basically computer repair, networking, and security stuff. (I know, it’s shocking.) It also happens to have the highest minimum test requirements for entry, which made me a little nervous.

But hey, what the hell, I thought. This is pretty much the only thing I love enough to do for eight hours a day. So I prepared myself to work my ass off to get in.

The assessment stuff was… not my favorite thing. It’s not like they were super difficult for me — they’re mostly English and math tests, some critical thinking, problem solving, spatial reasoning. I did about as well as I expected to on every test — very well in reading, pretty well in critical thinking and problem solving, awful in spatial reasoning. The only exception there was math — I did a lot better than I expected.

It was all basic math — fractions, decimals, percents, single-variable algebra. Every single one of those things is something that terrifies me, because I have dyscalculia. It goes along with my ADHD, apparently — it’s kind of like dyslexia, but with numbers. It means I can’t read analog clocks or do time very well, and it’s caused me to miss a lot of questions on many a math test over the years, for very small reasons — missed negatives, transposed numbers, mixed-up operations. Luckily, they let us use basic calculators for pretty much every math test, so those sort of things were minimized.

After all of the testing was done, we had three weeks of what was basically “skill-boosting”, while everyone took their trade assessments. I was pretty lucky — I got to do mine during the last week of testing and was accepted basically on the spot. The only things that tripped me up were spatial and mechanical reasoning, and Microsoft Office. Specifically, Excel.

This did lead to a pretty excellent exchange between myself and the instructor, though:

Instructor: “So, are you a Mac or Linux person?”

Me: “Linux. Well, both. Any Unix, really. …Wait, how did you know?”

Instructor: “I was watching your interactive test portions. You know your stuff, but you really don’t know your way around the Control Panel.”

Since I didn’t have to do trade assessments, and my scores were good enough to not really need math or reading work, I was put into the electronics lab to work on various things, handed an Algebra II book, and given some online cybersecurity coursework. I basically got to spend three weeks doing things I love all day — quadratic equations, writing about Stuxnet, poking printers until they worked, and taking things apart.

And then I found out that I don’t get to go back until the end of November, because there’s a long waitlist for my program. So I’m at home for a while.

 

Wow. That’s not ideal. So you’re keeping busy in the meantime, right?

Obviously. I don’t know how not to be busy.

I’ve been home a couple of weeks, and I’ve already got some stuff running. Some of the things that I can tell you about are:

  • I just released a new album! You should check it out if you haven’t already.
  • Starting to dive into IBM’s Master the Mainframe thingy. I’m having a lot of fun with it already.
  • Becoming very interested in engineering notebooks as a Thing, but they’re expensive and I don’t really need certain bits of them. Considering making my own, because of course I am.
  • Adventures with ChipSpeech, as I work on fun commissioned music. And by “adventures”, I mean “fighting”, because my computer is old and absolutely wheezing as it tries to keep up with me.
  • Searching for a new computer because of this.
  • Working on a second cybersecurity class, since I finished the first one (although it’s stalled while I look for a new computer, since it requires some software that made my computer choke and die)

Are you sensing a common theme here, reader? I think I am.

(Seriously, my current computer is a seven-year-old mobile workstation. It would be fine if I didn’t make music on it. It needs to be replaced with a desktop that can handle the work I throw at it, then given to a kid who’ll use it for gentler tasks such as homework and social media.)

 

Hold on. Did you say…. mainframes?

Yeah. And?

 

Your geek is showing.

FIGHT ME, Z/OS IS FUN AND PRETTY.

22 trips around the sun

Holy crap I’m 22. Or I will be, by the time this post goes up.

Actually, at exactly that time. I was born at 12:22 PM — conveniently the time for which I’ve scheduled this post. But since I wrote this beforehand and scheduled it, may I just say, from the past, that this is weird and I’m not sure that I like it.

Because here’s the thing — birthdays are weird for me. On one hand, I’ve survived another trip around the sun — and I won’t lie, this year wasn’t an easy one for me. The low spots were tough to recover from, and I’m still working on that with a couple of them; the victories weren’t glamorous, high-flying ones. They were small victories — taking my meds daily, reading more, making better music, coming out to more people, starting to code again after nearly four years, starting school again a week from today.

On the other hand… as I get older, I feel like I care just a little less about my birthday every year. I think I actually get more excited about my transition anniversary (which is 11 January), which might just be because I still haven’t fully connected my “online” existence as a Fully Out Genderqueer Person with my “offline” existence. (I refuse to believe that they’re totally separate entities, however.)

I’m sure future me — current me, as you’re reading this — has already come to terms with all of it. In fact, I’m probably celebrating by stuffing my face with spicy things from my local Chinese restaraunt while binge-watching Star Trek right now!

And that’s all pretty nifty, right?

*blinks* hi April.

…Huh. I totally meant to write something in March, but I guess I dropped the ball there.

First, a happy Passover and/or a happy Easter to everyone celebrating either (or both!) of them. I hope you find them joyful and that you’re spending them with the people you love, whether in person or virtually.

I have a couple of posts planned for this month, seeing how it’s Autism Acceptance Month. But I am going off to school in a few weeks, so there probably won’t be a bunch going up around here. (We’ll see how well my ADHD cooperates with the posts in the first place…)

Finally, a quick reminder to allistic folks: Autism Speaks sucks, please support autistic-led organizations like the Autism Self Advocacy Network!

Musings on a Declaration

Twenty-two years ago today, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” was published, in response to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Its author, John Perry Barlow, passed away early yesterday morning.

For those of you who might not be up-to-speed on your Internet history, Barlow was a titan. He co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Freedom of the Press Foundation; he wrote a whole bunch of essays; he was also one of the greatest Grateful Dead songwriters (in my humble opinion) — I was pleasantly surprised to find out that many of their songs which remain in my usual writing rotation were songs to which he contributed.

I read “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” for the first time ten years after its publication. I was ten years old (it was published a couple of months before I was born), and I’d developed an interest in peer-to-peer networks and the history of the Internet. My grandpa had observed this, and printed off a copy of this essay for me.

“I want you to read this,” he said. “I think you’ll like it.”

I did, in fact. I read it several times, and as was my habit even then, processed my thoughts on it via writing. It seemed to me that even if the community Barlow envisioned in it hadn’t flourished on all corners of the Web, it certainly existed in many places, particularly the places I frequented as a kid (primarily now-defunct writing websites).

Shortly after this, and directly as a result, my interests pivoted from the structure of peer-to-peer networks to the legal issues that were surrounding them at the time, and to copyleft and Creative Commons. At some point during the following school year, I wrote an essay whose thesis was, in essence, “Copyright law is broken, the record industry doesn’t understand how either the Internet or culture work, and peer-to-peer networks are the solution”. Culture, I asserted, was fundamentally about sharing; music, art, and stories are meant to be spread, transformed, and distributed. I suggested that Creative Commons and peer-to-peer networks could change the way that people created and shared art, for the better.

It wasn’t a very good essay — I was a kid, after all, and my level of understanding was accordingly limited — but writing it seemed to cement for me that this was a thing I cared about. In a very basic way, it laid out my beliefs about the Internet, creation, and copyright; although those views have evolved over the years, the core of them remains the same.

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that I would be a very different person, had I not discovered Barlow’s work when I did. It’s possible that I still would have found an interest in digital rights during the protests against SOPA and PIPA (which began during my sophomore year of high school), but I likely wouldn’t have developed such an all-consuming passion for defending it. I owe that passion, and the opportunities that it’s given me, to Barlow and the many other activists who have been inspired by his work.

On treason, apparently.

I guess I should note that I really was not planning on writing about politics on this blog, at all, ever. For the most part, I stick to snarky comments on Twitter, retweeting people smarter than me who talk about said things, and writing to my senators about policy issues.

But then, the president suggested that not applauding for him after the State of the Union address is treasonous.

And I quote: “I mean, yeah, can we call that treason? Why not?”

Okay, sure, maybe he thinks he’s being funny, but you know what? This is bad, no matter how you spin it.

My only experience in politics thus far is a couple of years doing volunteer digital rights advocacy. My preferred area of that whole thing isn’t even freedom of speech (although obviously everything is connected), it’s copyright law. And even I can answer the question “why not?” in this context.

It’s because words mean things.

For anyone who might not be aware: “treason”, in general terms, refers to an act of betrayal toward one’s country (especially something meant to overthrow a government). So, can you call refusal to applaud a leader after a speech an act of betrayal toward one’s country?

Sure, but it makes you look suspiciously nationalist.

I do find this whole thing hilarious, in a very twisted and ironic sort of way, because this isn’t even dissent; it’s polite disinterest. This is “your speech didn’t land with me/I didn’t find it convincing/I think you’re not a great person, so I’m just not going to applaud”. And Trump gets so bent out of shape about it that he says they’re un-American, claims they must not love their country, and calls it a crime against the government.

Dude. It’s a speech. It’s not like they colluded with the Russian government to fuck with our elections.