QC-L Version 4.0

Yes, welcome to my lair of evil thoughts and incorrect speech where I don't let go and move on and I talk about whatever I please. On a blog no one ever tells you to shut up. If you don't like what I say, just go elsewhere.

This blog now has a new background and a new theme. It is also using a remotely loaded style sheet. That is a first. It is lush, heavy, and uses a background that has a theme I have never used here before, though I have used it for pressies. Let the show go on! It always does anyway. And yes, we are powered by Blogger.

I am putting a temporary illustration here until I have a logo for this design. Watch this space.

temporary illustration


The Backfile: this blog's archives.

Ajayu, home of my story, The Sneezeweed Chronicles. Yes, I do fiction.

It will have Oneiro, my own little role play.

Unfettered Soul, my flagship site.

The Silk Purse, my play pretend Brainstorms.

Failed Messiah Religious news never sounded so good.

New York Times. Read the news and be smart.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I finally had a VENGANCE VICTORY due to the help of Mary Fielder, who works in the medical library over at St. Francis. In repayment for a favor that shouldn't have been a favor, Mary took me to the Mustard Seed around noon today and there are two CD's of hymns sitting on my desk. Woo hoo!

I'm feeling somewhat better about Neopets because I pushed out a couple of loads of merchandise from my shop and I am learning a new game much to my surprise. I still have a few games left I can play that are easy and I'll have a good amount of earnings to salt away. Tomorrow I won't be able to play like today. I am teaching. I want to run errands in the morning and my boyfriend may be coming back to live with me. That means the apartment needs to be cleaned up. Yes, all this belongs on the right side of this blog.

I also want to make sure I get out this evening. The multi-voice blogs are done. I don't know if they will get done tomorrow or Thursday. With Lou in the house Thursday will be interesting. I guess this is just another challenge to my revenge work. I will have to face it and be up for it. Quitters never win and winners don't quit. I have to keep that in mind, even when I sometimes take a defeat. I just have to pick myself up and keep going. To move on or to forget is the ultimate defeat so vengance must continue. Who knows when that big opportunity will come along.

RAOK has a new board and I need to visit there. I have found the RAOK board rather thin. I also need to make a monthly visit and contribution to Aunt Bee's Parlor. Revenge work means supporting the right kinds of groups.

I would also like to say a word about the Golden Elite. The Golden Elite closed down last week. I just learned of it last night after putting this blog to bed. I would like to tell my secret to Cari Cota, the owner, but I may just have Thadea send her a condolence letter. The end of the Golden Elite is the true end of Thadea's fighting career. There are so many rotten competition administrators out there that it is important to work for the right people. Cari was the right people. She and her staff were polite and expected politeness back. They were personable. They recognized and nurtered talent. They scored accurately though a bit slowly. They ran a very good operation. They kept both Thadea and I from doing something that I probably would have regretted forever. Cari taught me that a classic web site competition can run well. Thankyou Cari, your competition will be sorely missed.

I am working on the general medicine webliography which means I finished the chemistry one today. That means we are six weeks ahead of schedule. That is not as good as it sounds, but I can't go into it.

I am reading Nana by Zola and I find it moves slowly with lots of drawing room scenes and conversation. The quintessential stranger in town is a female who is an actress which makes Nana a bit different. I adore Zola but I'm not sure I like Nana.

I just ate the last of my fresh fruit. I don't know what I'll take for lunch tomorrow or if I'll go home for lunch or what I'll do. I need to clean the apartment and make a trip to both the supermarket and to Country Life. I have a class to teach at 1:30pm and my boyfriend may be arriving tomorrow night. Yes, it's on a night when I work. This is Murphy's Law hard at work.

I tell myself that I don't care. I am going to take this one day and one part of one day at a time. I can start cleaning the apartment this evening or I can shop for food. Either of these would work. If I go for food, I can do Country Life in the morning. Lou is not only coming in at the end of a food cycle he is also coming in on a night when there is no cooked food. That means I should cook tonight too. Yes, here I am blogging away but I can't leave before six and if I leave right at six I'll get looks since this work place is a bit of a club house. On a normal day that would be fine but this day is not normal.

Of course there is a chance, and not a negligible one, that Lou did not leave Utica at all. A phone call in the next few minutes will establish whether I have a mad scramble ahead of me or not. Right now I am checking my inbox, not my inner circle, for a letter from Rodney Rickard, a close friend of Lou's who may be coming by this weekend. Yes, I may have company for Labor Day or it all may just go pffffft.

I am going to make a phone call every half hour at six to establish that Lou is in transit. Lou's brother Mario will love it (yeah sure) but too stinking bad. Making the rice salad tonight is probably a good idea as is shopping and some minimal cleaning. ZOID needs to be scored at 10:30pm but I'll probably score it late. OK, it's t minus seven minutes until I can make that phone call.

Monday, August 30, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

Blogger acted up last night and I went to a hand published version. It seems to be OK now on a fast connection. I don't know how it will react later tonight, so I am blogging now. I have everything backed up and can go back to a manual version any time I want. I take my revenge work seriously and keeping blogging and not being silenced is a big part of that work.

Tonight, I am contemplating going to the Mustard Seed which is a Christian book store to buy a record of Protestant hymns. I need the hymns because they sing them at the nursing home and I absolutely don't know them. I want to learn them very badly. This is a terrific opportunity for some economic vengance. Going to a store that caters to bornagain Christians is a super way to spend money in a nonBrainstormish manner.

Unfortunately, it gets later by the minute and I am tired and it looks like rain and I am hungry. You know all the rest. Well when I call vengance vengance work I guess I mean it. I never tire and can always find more energy. I have the vim, vigor, and verve. Quitters never win and winners never quit. That is the way I feel.

I just wish my belly weren't growling. I also wish Neopets weren't so seductive. I'm sort of on a buy nothing week but it has back fired big time. I have succumbed. I want to paint one or both my pets or add a krawk or draik to my family. This can cost any where from 150,000 to 500,000NP. Yes folks, you read it right. It might as well be a billion NP because I have only 45,000NP in the bank and an extra 5,000NP walking around money. I have some items I could auction off for even more cash but then I would be in that territory of not coming close.

Worse yet, if I buy nothing I can not read to or train my pets. We get stuck with whatever Coltzan dishes out and lately it's been food items. Yeah, like I need food.

And even worse, buy nothing week becomes oggle week. Oggling is free and oggling is nasty. I go and price the paint brushes in the trading post. I go browsing to see which ones I want. I can't afford any of them. Some are as much as 500,000NP. Does this sound like fun?

Then there's the oggle board also known as the Fan Club Board. That is its official name. There, owners are supposed to talk about their favorite pets. Every now and again lupe and gelert owners do just this but every now and again, pet owners advertise a pet that is up for adoption. This is a painted or limited edition pet. Otherwise pets are generic, though I'd dare say mine are not. The curious thing about the oggle board is that begging is not permitted. Of course the person with the rare pet that is going in the pound a designated time with its name known only to the recipient so it can be quickly adopted says she wants no begging but why advertise this precious creature on a board if you don't want ooohs and ahs of adulation and deference to come pouring out.

Usually those who apply to adopt a painted pet or rare one from another player have to create a page or submit a letter detailing their plans for this precious thing. Forget that its rich owner is giving it up so it can paint or lab ray another pet. Owners only have four slots for pets so some must go to good homes to give the wealthy more space to consume. The person wanting to adopt must submit to this ritual of the application as a form of deference. He or she must be the model owner which for the large part I am by the way and say how she will give TLC, training, and interaction to her new posession. Is something amiss here? I almost adopted a mutant grarrl the other day by the way, but had to go back to work so that took care of that.

So now I've bought nothing today. I won two pieces of food plus 123NP and I feel like crud. I'd be better off spending some money and staying out of the oggle pits. I'd probably be better off not wanting a very expensive pet or a paintbrush. Neopets wins this round. I lose. I admit defeat. Now the only question is if it happens to me, everyone else must be twices as defenseless.

It is now 6:46pm Monday night. I am here at work because the connection works better from work. I am hoping this blog decides to publish. Blogger gets flakey from time to time. I finally got all the materials for Friday's chemistry library instruction class revised, xeroxed, and collated. The ones for Wednesday's mammalogy class got done on Friday. That feels very good.

I am trying to figure out what to do with my evening. Part of me wants to go to the Mustard Seed which is a Christian book store to buy a CD of hymns. They sing Protestant hymns at the nursing home where I volunteer though I didn't volunteer there this weekend because I was working. I meant to get to the Mustard Seed Saturday night but I napped and overslept.

I am a little nervous buying anything in a Christian book store because I am Jewish. It is sort of out of my league. On the other hand, the staff may be very helpful and the whole thing could be quite enjoyable.

On the other hand I am tired and hungry. There is a spahgetti squash waiting for me at home. It is ivory colored on the outside. I have no idea what color it is on the inside. I need to seed it and cut it up and get it roasting, but I've also been working in a more or less windowless space most of the day. I need to see the sunlight or at least get some fresh air and I can use the exercise of a three mile walk.

I just wish I were as motivated for these adventures in the evening as I was in the morning. And oh yes, my apartment is a wreack. Oh well, I'd be better off shopping than cleaning.

Sunday 8/29 evening

It was an interesting day at work. I have now worked seven days of an eleven day week that will actually be a bit longer. I helped a lot of students on the computer and answered a few rather tough reference questions. We are running into students who have publisher packets that are really NOT supported by Instructional Technology Services or by CINS (Computer Information and Networking Services). This makes things hard on the students. I saw some of this Friday. I did not see any of this this weekend.

I managed to pay my bills this morning. That is a good thing. It means life around here can go on pretty much as usual. That is a very good thing indeed. I also did my hair, and it still feels clean. It has been threatening lightening and thunder all day, but so far none of it has really come down as rain.

I think another marigold in my container garden has died. It is really too dry for marigolds in container gardens. It is nearly Labor Day. I got six months out of those stinking marigolds. I guess it is time for some pansies now.

I feel unmotivated to score my web site competition, ZOID, because turn out has been so low. Still I tell myself, the show must go on. I need a bath in the worst way. I'm planning to take one tonight.

It has not yet sunk in that I am out on the desk first thing tomorrow morning and then for two hours in the afternoon. I want to double check the time for the class I'm teaching on Wednesday. I also have a class on my day off on Friday. It can't be helped. It is nice to be wanted, needed, and have classes again. Oh well...it's scoring time. I'll write more later.

OK, I'm back. Scoring was not as awful as I anticipated. Right now I'm sitting here with a head full of amorphous black thoughts. It doesn't matter what they are about. If they were a taste, they would be indescribably bitter. I don't feel bitter. I just feel dark inside and uncomfortable. I am hoping a hot bath will straighten me out. I know I am in no shape to go to sleep. Maybe it is the eleven day week getting to me.

Even the cats are restless tonight. Hertzel was chasing Georgia around and then they were having a meow conversation and now the cats are yowling from one room to the other, except Hertzel sort of sings to himself. Yes, meows are all different. He is singing to himself as he explores the closet. I have to get that bath going.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

My vengance work has suffered a MAJOR challenge. This time it came from Blogger itself. I'm not sure what you call a blog that you manually update, but my server space does not support SFTP and Blogger no longer supports standard FTP so a parting of the ways came abruptly late last night.

This blog is going to feel a lot less spontaneous than the multi-voice boards, but it always did. It will also feel less like Brainstorms but it never felt like Brainstorms because it was the transcribe that made it feel like Brainstorms and I can still transcribe it to LOTH.

What is happening at Blogger is a degradation of service. Blogger used to free of charge with no ads just let you publish to your web site. By going to an odd variant of FTP, they've just dumped a big share of the market. I guess I won't really miss blogger. I'll probably be doing the archiving manually every week or two. It's just cut and paste to a fresh page and then a new link on the backfile page. I upload all three pages and it's a snap for any one who scores web site competitions. It ought to be no problem. Still, I have my misgivings. This is a step backwards. This blog is just a regular web site now. Oh well, it's still listed at Blogarama and in Blogger's open directory even though I took the links down. Quite frankly, it is no longer Blogger powered.

I think Blogger had more associated with it than just being the Geocities browser based upload for those with rented space. It had a cachet of being cool. Well I guess this blog is cool no more.

I double wammied all my multi-voice boards. Doing Third Rail felt good except Zahava suffered through Gaston. Oh well she was on the edge of the storm so just got a good soaking. Rain is not that interesting and it is OK not to write about it. Mostly we are discussing container gardens and Cori's rather interesting social life. All of this is play pretend, but play pretend is all I have. Play pretend at its best is a form of self-sufficiency and I am one of the most self-sufficient people out there.

I almost adopted a mutant grarrl today at Neopets. I had to go back to work so that was that. The owner wanted me to adopt him lickety split and send her an application on the minute. I had to get back to work so I told her no can do and that was that. I'm kind of glad I didn't. My dream fund is about twenty percent of the way there. I won't say what I dream of buying. That spoils all the fun.

by Eileen Kramer

I have to remember that every time I can not do every bit of patter whether the old or the revised version or a mix, that I am not losing ground in the vengance department. Tonight I had the beginning of an economic VENGANCE VICTORY. I placed a thirty dollar Avon order. I will be getting a candle, two scented deoderants that I hope don't make me break out (I figure I can risk my armpits) and a ring. It's a sterling silver black saphire ring. I thought about getting the ruby cubic zirconium. I adore cubic zirconia and liked them even before getting booted out of Brainstorms. I suspect cubic zirconia are as unBrainstormish as Wal-Mart though I'm sure Brainstormers also shop there. I like Wal-Mart and was glad I went tonight.

The ring is an especially great piece of vengance because I sleep in my jewelry and when I wear it it will remind me about my need to do vengance. Also people will ask where I got the ring and I'll tell them I ordered it from Avon. This makes my vengance a splendidly public act. There is nothing like a new piece of jewelry.

Rosalita became level eight tonight at Neopets. It cost me over 5000NP for the codestone I needed to buy to train her. Shanti gained five more intelligence points. My dream fund lost some NP's. I am still a Neopian in good standing. Whether I'll be one tomorrow who knows. I drew my Neokids at work today. I wanted to scan them but the server fell out of its tree. It said "can not find tree or server" so that is why I say it fell out of its tree. It's just plain English for technical gobbledygook. Anyway, I was good as of 11pm but who knows for how long I'll be that way.

I can play my pets solo. I certainly can write fiction about them using either a web site or ghostletters. In a way that fits in a lot better with patter. Neopets was very disruptive to building a satisfying pretend Brainstorms though it did force me to the Third Rail from which I am taking a break tonight. Since I won't miss anything but a databse, I may choose not to go back if purged (Let's not use Neopian euphemisms on this blog.). I've been doing a lot of defensive work. I did some in Wal-Mart tonight. I am running low on sketch paper. I debated going in to Hobby Lobby just before they closed to get another little mini sketch diary, but I didn't. I'm not that low yet. If Neopets disappears from my life, I'll be doing more graphics. I'm also out more on the desk so I'll be doing more graphics that way as well. I still have plenty of oil pastels left. Also there is a LOTH swap coming up in which you have to include something uniqe. That means I'll have lots of drawing and/or painting to do. Yes, I'm that good. Actually, I'm not good at much else except being verbose.

What this means is I'm getting ready to fill the hole a purge at Neopets might leave. I have several days lead time and the procedure is quite bloodless. I've been down this road way too many times before. I've been down it for all kinds of reasons. It is one of the reasons solo play needs to be a part of my repetoire and a lot of other people's repetoires as well.

Right now I am feeling pulled in four directions. I miss the Third Rail and Run Amuck. I am psyched to get out and vote at ZOID, well not that psyched. I know I'll get to Third Rail and Run Amuck tomorrow some time. I might even sneak them in while doing stand up work. I might do them in the morning etc... It depends how my day falls out. I guess my plans for tomorrow belong on the right side of this blog.

What I have to remember is I missed the boards, not because Neopets interfered (very bad because that means I am forgetting and letting go which can be a natural and bloodless process.) but because I took a nap this afternoon and went out this evening and I worked today. Having a life beyond the computer is important.

I worked today which means I am at the half way point of an eleven day week. That is OK. My hair feels greasey and I feel sweaty. I can't remember when work was so boring. I made some pretty good drawings but never got to scan them in. I stayed after work to do some personal stuff on the computer and the network fell out of its tree. That meant no scanning. That expletive deleteds. I went home and had some fruit and decided to lay down since I had to miss my Saturday morning sleeping in. Three hours later, I awoke.

I had time to get to Wal-Mart and have dinner at Blimpie's but not much else. I found out that chipotle sauce beats wasabi mayo. I'll have to get some chipotl mayonaise at Publix next time I go shopping. Subs made at home have got to be better. I even have seen whole wheat sub bread at Publix.

Lou says he is leaving on Monday. I no longer believe him. Also our mutual friend, Rodney Rickard, who would marry us if Lou and I ever really tied the knot (Oh what a blessing it is not to have to beg a rabbi to marry an interfaith couple.), lost his job and is moving to North Carolina. That means he will be within fairly easy reach either by car or Greyhound bus. Yes, that is good news if Lou gets his tail down here. I have to get back into good girlfriend mode somehow. This is not going to be easy.

Georgia is more relaxed and independent tonight than she was last night when she was clingy and begging all over the place. She is also keeping her food down and going to the dish to eat more. I feel relieved. I think some of her problems is that she eats the Go Away mat, a cocoa mat, my cats somtimes use like a scratching post. I have yet to have a socially engaged cat who is not physically destructive. I think the two things go together. I suspect Georgia, my seventeen year old, half Siamese, blue cream, alpha female kitty, is in my bedroom. Let me go check. Georgia is eating, and the dish is only half full. She must be nice and hungry. Good.

One place I won't be going tomorrow is the rummage sale at my schul. I could go down and do an early shift but with a two to six work day afterwards and no free lunch, it is just too much. If I get up at a decent hour, I will go to Country Life and look for either soynut butter of sunflower butter. Nut butter sandwiches are much better than subs. Organic peanut butter (not Publix version which is very salty and strong tasting) would also be good. I bet there is a way to make a very good peanut butter pseudo sub or other nut butter pseudo sub. The only question is how much I like submarine sandwiches. Sometimes it is pleasanter to talk about food than anything else.

I'm not relieved that I'm not going ot the nursing home tomrrow. It's a work day and that is all there is to it. It just is what it is. I have a four day weekend next week so that should be really strange. That hasn't sunk in any more than this eleven day work week sunk in. I also know I have to work on paying bills. I'll transfer the funds tomorrow. I think I'll start by hand delivering the rent after work. Who knows if the computer will be back in its tree at work tomorrow. That is a good reason not to come by early.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

Writing the one voice blog is always harder than the multi-voice boards. The multi-voice boards like Third Rail, my hardcore Pretend Brainstorms, go snap snap snap. There does not haveto be a lot of depth. The posts are small and I post in packets of five. Here there is a big wide open space. Still with discipline one can fill this in. I have to remember that discipline beats tears.

I'm in the middle of some black thoughts tonight. I think I may get kicked out of Neopets. That starts the demons screaming though they really shouldn't. I've gone through the usual defensive rituals of downloading everything that is keepable. That is important. A lot of my work is outside the walls anyway. The Neopoints and posessions, the most precious of which are three books (one book shy of enough to raise Shanti's intelligence), are all they can take. I have the outside email address of the one Neofriend who really matters. The rest I've talked to once or twice. I also don't know any one who is a regular on the boards. I've seen some store ads I would recognize but the owner and I never interacted. In other words, this time around, I really won't miss anybody and I can play the pet solo and still enjoy the nbnforum where I won't lose my membership. I can even role play my pets there.

This is not a bad deal. If you are curious what heinous sin I committed. A kid was complaining about how his sister got into his account. I said you shouldn't share passwords and that even at work some students don't know this. I mentioned the word password in my post, the board censor kicked it back. I wondered what I could have said that was against the word. I substituted blankety-blank for password and the post went through. It's not against the neorules to talk about what is going on at work. Hopefully someone will actually read the post if any one reports it which is not that likely. I'll know by Sunday or Monday. Meanwhile it will be business as usual this time around now that the defensive downloads are done. I think I can get another account if I am frozen. Two months work is not that much to lose. I play too much Neopets anyway. Getting booted would be a welcome relief.

I could return to my patterage and go to work from there or I could play my pet solo. Who needs a database to set up rules. You can set up your own. Rosalita and Shanti stand a very good chance of surviving outside of Neopia.

That said, I'd like to discuss a play pretend topic, doing multi-voice boards. When you suggest you are going to play pretend still being part of a community from which you have been ejected, you get a lot of strange remarks. You get told "it won't be the same. You can't do it. It will get old fast." Usually these are people who haven't tried it. It does work. You can make a fairly good (often improved) approximation, and you can do it. Here is how.

First, take a few of the members with whom you'd still like to converse. If they are the sort who would raise a legal stink, change their names. Othewise you can leave their names on. Remember the kinds of things they liked to talk about that you liked to read. These will be your topics. One member of my pretend Brainstorms, Zahava was contemplating a move to Washington DC at the time I got kickd off. I settled her in Wilmington, North Carolina instead. She can talk about her job, a recent hurricane, palnts, food etc... There I have four topics. Cori was fixing up her apartment. On my pretend Brainstorms she talks about the apartment, going out, etc... Both Zahava and Arnie are Jewish. We discuss Judaism and related topics regularly. We also discuss revenge because revenge work is a big part of my postBrainstorms life. Sometimes my old nemisis, Terri, even makes an appearance. She snaps at me and I snap back but we do this in moderation. Gardens, cats, going out, and work are all much more pleasant and I like to keep things fairly pleasant.

I've been doing this all for about a month and the board is in full flower. It grows and grows and goes from strength to strength. I could discuss world affairs on my board, but since I avoided the political boards at Brainstorms because politics can get nasty, I don't do it at the Third Rail. My Run Amuck board that is full of my avatars does discuss world events and also events from my avatars' own lives. Yes, they have lives. They have tons of back story and so their world is rich and there is plenty of material. Avatars are often easier to work with than imaginary recreations of real people, but both boards work remarkably well.

Are you ready to try a multi-voice board of your own. You'll be surprised what you can do.

By the way, I went to schul tonight. I realized it is great revenge work. Going to schul is a REVENGE VICTORY. I need to pick out some Avon jewelry and buy it. I'd like a new ring. I'm going to treat myself. I went to schl because I started talking about it on the Third Rail and made a deal with Zahava that if went she should go. I had to follow through on my end of the bargain. I guess my play pretend Brainstorms board is good for something after all.

I went to schul tonight. I did not do home worship. The rabbi's sermon was a bit of word salad but part of it was about an Israeli wind surfer who won a gold medal, his country's first in forty years. Yawn, I'd rather hear about the US women's softball team. Now there is a success story. Now if only the Olympics keep softball as a sport. A lot more people play softball than windsurf. Also there were Palestinian athletes in the Olympics who trained under pretty awful conditions. That too was a success story even if they did not win any medals. Yes, the Olympics bores me but hearing it in sermons bores me even more. At least I survived schul, and Yiddishkeit, the Jewish word for fellowship is always great.

My schul is full of junk for the rummage sale. The sale is this Sunday from 8am to 4pm. I work 2-6pm so no go on doing anything or probably even rooting through the jnk. Sorry, I'm in the middle of an eleven day work week and I'll be sleeping in.

The rabbi said something very annoying in his sermon. It was more a slip than anything else. He said the masses want the least common denominator. Well, who does he think he is preaching to in the audience? Sure there are some wealthy people in beautiful homes in Sears Woods in the congregation and doctors and lawyers but there are also people who are army officers, and teachers, and nurses, and librarians. The young women who work as practical nurses and aides in tne nursing home where I volunteer are no less cultured than any body in the schul and besides even the really wealthy people in the schul do not usually send their kids to elite private schools or even elite private universities. I probably have the most elite education (My bachelors is from Cornell) of any one in the room. Most of the people in the synagogue eat in a lot of the same restaurants (though not always...They avoid China Buffet. Columbus is a classist town.) and certainly they shop in the same stores as most other people. In short, the so-called masses are no different from us or close enough that there really is no distinction. The so-called masses prefer smart over dumb, rich over poor, decent over cruddy.

They may not care for Kerry because he is a quintissential Yankee, but then again I bet a lot of the crowd at schul deep down feels the same way. Many are Southern Jews born in the South. As for the so-called masses, some of them are black. That means Democrat in this part of the world, but it doesn't mean put up the hoop and I'll jump. Kerry for his part doesn't seem to care too much if he does anything to address black voter concerns. The vote's in his pocket so why should her care. It would seve him right and not be particuarly dumb for a lot of the minority voters to stay home or not register. Face it if a politcian is not going to do something for you, why in the heck should you vote for him. A lot of the peace block is very disilusioned with Kerry. I inclde myself in this group, but I'm going to vote for him and hold my nose. Its strictly the lesser of two evils, but hey that is a good enough reason for me.

I don't get to clean up campaign headquarters tomorrow either. I am going to have to work 10am to 2pm. That means that I get to sleep in an extra hour. That should be good for my spiritual life. I work 2pm to 6pm on Sunday. I may go to Country Life that day or help out with the rummage sale, but I don't think the fat cats who are in charge really want me. I figure I pay my dues and that is enough. I think the rabbi has a great voice. That is enough.

Friday, August 27, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I spent most of this evening thinking it was actually later than it was. I was thinking I was going to reach the equal point with my Brainstorms revenge and what would I do. I mean the thing is mathematically weird. Let me put it another way, what will I do when the time I have spent since I was kicked out of Brainstorms equals the time I spent there? I was only there five months I did the calculation and the time will come in about midOctober. I breathe a sigh of relief because it is still late Auguust. I guess the euqal point means nothing. I can carry on vengance as long as I want to.

Brainstorms depends on people forgetting, moving on, and letting the experience disappear. I am hardly the first person they have expelled and treated shabbily. I don't intend to go away silently or to forget or forgive or move on. I am as constant as the northern star. I am the rock that will not be moved. It doesn't matter if I don't have an audience. God is my audience and he is always ready and he never says shut up or go away or I've heard it before. It is great to have a loving God in your life.

Anyway, let's take a closer look at the first sentence of the preceding paragraph. A community that treats its members shittily, operates in secret, and then kicks out any members that don't flee during a miserable internal private trial that you have to keep secret depends on those members they kick out saying "Ah, I didn't fit in" and just letting go. Any one who is pissed at them and who really makes a stink is another story. I'm in that last category and with good reasons.

I was screwed over. I was not just kicked out. I was picked on, picked apart, thought I defended myself fairly was even congratulated for my cool head and good manners and then the rules changed anyway. That sucked. That was wrong. Also the person who runs Brainstorms is a supposed expert on cybercommunities and well respected. I wonder how many people would respect Howard Rheingold if they knew what kind of community he and his close friends really run.

OK, so now you have the answer to the question you might have been asking. What do I want? What I want is simple. I would either like to get let back into Brainstorms with a formal apology which is unlikely because I've broken my bond of confidentiality. Second, I'd like to run full page ads in the New York Times, appear on talk shows, and generally let the intellectual world know what kind of a community Brainstorms is so they can judge those who run it by their fruits rather than their words. I'll even tell the world about my avatars to do it.

Now I don't have the money for an ad in the New York Times, not even a quarter page, and no one is going to put me on their talk shows but opportunities knock from time to time. Twice, I have gotten to give a very nasty critique of Alan Sondheim whose work is trash and who thinks he is a great artist and who kicked me out of his commnity. I might get my shot at the Brainstorms clique in some public place yet. That means I have to keep the experience sharp and my anger simmering. This one is in for the long haul.

Today is mutant day on Neopets and my pets turned mutant which was an ugly shock. I tried logging out and logging in and then went over to the Help Board and found out that it was a system wide prank that was annoying in the extreme. I ran through a batch and a half of inventory at my store and played one round of Tyrannean Miniature Golf for which I got over 1,000NP. That is not bad work if I can get it, but I am busier in real life and at work now so I am cutting back. It feels a bit sad. I miss Neopets a lot when I am not there. I miss it right now.

There is water for tea heating on the kitchen stove. I am trying not to think about my boyfriend, Lou. This morning I got an email from him that said he was on his way out the door. This afternoon he left a message on my machine saying he never left Utica. I call this being jerked around. I've lost track of how many times it happened. I captured Lou over spring break so that it would not happen again. Lou can not pick a date, get his stuff together, and leave. He always finds one reason or another. He does not lie and the reasons are lame. Today's reason was: "My brother and I went for coffee and we started bull* ing with some guys." Excuse me, Lou I'm not chopped liver. You have a trip to start etc...

I explained to him tonight over the phone how I felt being jerked around. He told me not to tell the other ladies at work. I told him even if I told no one I'd still feel bad. Also the jerking has stopped me from making plans for his arrival. I have a mouldy piece of cheese in the fridge that was supposed to be for the both of us to eat. You get the idea. I told Lou I will not clean the apartment this time around. This place was spic and span prior to the capture.

Lou then proceeded to tell me how sick he was. His heart is skipping beats. I had no sympathy. I told him I'd pay for a doctor's visit and medication if he was truely sick. Lou is a class one malingerer and goldbrick. He said he nearly died in the coffee shop this morning. I now think that is... I mean if he really was that sick, why didn't he go to the nearest emergency room.

I know Lou won't be leaving tomorrow though he says he'll call me from the road. I'm not sure I really want him down here any more. I have a good life by myself and Lou can be an imposition at times. I mean when he gets here all the fun things I do on my own kind of get pushed to the side to do the things we do together. We don't have a lot of common interests any more. Yeah, the relationship is really stale. I'd just rather be by myself doing fun things on my own. I've started taking myself out to eat once a week. I don't need a boyfriend to go out with. I don't need someone always complaining they are sick. I don't need to go through being a good girlfirend only to have the boyfriend run away. It is better he not come down here in the first place. I am thinking of telling Lou he simply is no longer welcome down here. He can keep the money. His twin brother, Mario, can have him. I'll go find someone local who holds down a dependable job and who is healthy and who knows the meaning of scheduling and organization. That will be a big relief.

I think I am very close to the end of the rope with Lou. I have a hunch it won't work this time around. It just won't. Lou has more or less used up all my patience and good will. He is coming into this situation with minuses that have nothing to do with the ones he thinks he has. They have to do with all the times he said he was coming and then canceled at the last minute. I'm just worn out with being jerked around.

In other news: I have a class next Wednesday at work and have been making materials. I wish I could tell you why this feels so good. It just does. That is all I can say.

I also got a free lawn sign from the Democratic party at one of their meet-ups tonight. They had a red white and blue tinsel pinata and a hauge sign covered with glitter. I also bought a Kerry for President T-shirt and met a gentleman who teaches mathematics at Columbus Tech, our local community college. He hugged me and congratulated me for protesting the war. A lot of good the protesting did. The hug was OK, though I'm not thrilled when strangers hug me. He said that Columbus being a military town was a tough nut to crack. I said Columbus was apathy ville central. Columbus for those of you who don't know is Columbus, Georgia.

Well I need some sleep so I'm going to put this blog to bed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I am going to transcribe this blog tonight. I've been away, partially due to Neopets but I've never been all that far. I've been busy putting up this blog nearly every day and haven't missed all that much. My two multi voice boards at my Pretend Brainstorms are alive and well. I missed going to the Mustard Seed tonight by not that much. I have cramps and it is going to rain and quite frankly, it is a trip into a territory of vengance that scares me a little, especially after what happened in the nursing home on Sunday.

My mom gave me a pat on the back on that one, but I hated to do it. Religion, especially the conventional conservative kind is as anti-Brainstorms as it can get, so buying a CD of hymns to sing along with is great economic revenge! Having to talk to that minister was an unfortunate evil.

I am playing Tyrannian Miniature Golf on Neopets right now. The game is oddly soothing and a good source of Neopoints. I am not sure what I even want to spend these points on (pardon the grammar). I'm a sucker for books. I don't have the patience to stake out main shops (except the book store where I got lucky this afternoon) or to adverise my own store. I just have more to do in my life. Rosalita, my grarrl, ate a bottle of hair gell. Why she ate this instead of the sardines or semolina that were in the inventory was beyond me. The program that controls hungry grarrl's eating habits is random and maybe she just got curious. I'm not angry at her. She is the way she is with a great appetite.

In some ways I like her better than her grundo sister who just sits there hungry and who refuses food and who gets sick when she gets bloated. Rosalita has a cast iron stomach and has never been sick a day in her life. If that is unfeminine well nobody told either of us.

This afternoon I put all the recipes (It's the same recipe for everyone) for the LOTH recipe swap in the mail. I've been in so-called "intelligent" groups that have had flesh meets and swaps etc... but the only one I've ever participated in and liked were the ones at LOTH and Secretangelfriends. This was my second swap. Of course swaps at LOTH are revenge work. This one was a bit of a bear because the recipes had to be on index cards. My recipe took three cards. I am not used to squeezing my recipes into that cramped a format.

My irritable bowel has refused to quiet down this week. I found out why this afternoon. I have my period complete with nasty cramps. The naproxen pretty much has wiped out most of the cramps but I missed an opportunity to go buy a CD tonight. I guess it will be a quiet night, just doing my hair and putting out the CALL FOR FIGHTERS at ZOID. I owe a recipe to Ladies Advance, a transcribe to LOTH and lots more to lots of other places.

It actually has gotten busy at work. I was doing web jockeying for Erma, my colleague and supervisor. This is good work if you can get it. I have a class next Wednesday so I have materials for that to get together. All this feels surprisingly good.

I made pink bean rutabega barley soup last night. The rutabega tasted nice and sharp and sweet. Like cabbage it improves when cooked in broth. This soup uses up my pink beans but I have a big bag of lima beans to deal with. I couldn't get large lima beans except in a two pound sack at Publix so that is what I have. Go figure. I like lima bean soup. I'm going to have to like it a whole lot in the next few weeks.

The apartment is a wreack as usual. I need to vacuum but am too lazy. Lou says he is leaving either today or tomorrow. I don't believe that. He hasn't called so I guess he did not leave. I am not cleaning up the apartment until I hear he has made it to the half way point which is Roanoke, Virginia. I have to have a way to keep my sanity and in the end this is how I keep mine.

The Democrats have a new headquarters and they are having a clean up day starting Saturday at 10am. The problem is I work an early Saturday shift this weekend. Yes, I am in the middle of an eleven day week. I tell myself that the Saturday when it is over I escape to Altanta for a day of shopping and maybe more. That is a long ways off. I still haven't really realized that this really and truely is an eleven day week. I guess I'll learn some time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I need to get back in to the habit of transcribing this blog on to the LOTH boards. The problem is that both the right and left side sof this blog are now full of stuff that may not belong on the LOTH board. That is the trouble with conversationally restricted groups. I still also believe that restrictions on conversation have their place. It is easier and better for all concerned to set rules at the beginning than to evolve "norms" as you go along.

Meanwhile I wish I were in Neopets right now. I wish I found a really good bargain at the Igloor Garage Sale. There are some really great bargains there every eight minutes. I miss the hustle and bustle and hurly and burly, but I swore when I got kicked out of Brainstorms that I would not be silenced.

I am batting zero tonight. I did not get out the LOTH recipes though I do have sufficient cards and stamps. Haldis, did manage to score her team at the Webleagues. My multivoice boards, Third Rail and Run Amuck, are moving from strength to strength. I felt so good when I posted to Run Amuck today. Third rail felt good too in its own way. Some days always feel better than others. Right now I am trying to simulate something other than arguments over me. I have Arnie_P and Zahava_W talking about Messianic Judaism (Jews for Jesus) while Cori and Zahava talk gardens and garden nurseries and gardening in the South.

My Pretend Brainstorms is simply the best! I wish I could teach others how good play pretend is. There is so much prejudice against it that most people never try because they assume their efforts will result in an inferior product. Oh are those people mistaken!

Meanwhile, both my pets on Neopets are mega geniuses. I'm not sure what to make of this. I've spend weeks putting NP, effort, and TLC into the pets. I guess I am a typical Neopian in some ways. In some ways of course I am not. I submitted the Samizdat page to Google and Dmoz. I don't now what will happen with that. I found out this blog gets spidered regularly. That ought not to bother me. I want people to find their way here. I think this blog is a great place and every word of it is worth reading, otherwise why would I be writing it.

I learned today that my white grundo, Shanti, is now smarter than my mentor's much older white grundo, FangoBoy13. It feels weird to have such smart pets. To see the level of committment and obsession scares me.

There is stuff about work I would like to write on this side of the blog and I can't. It's off limits. It makes me angry, but there is not much I can do about it. It is political. It is ugly.

I ought to start working on resumes again and get the heck out of this job. Somewhere else may not be better but there is always one more place and no point in staying put except this job supports my sidework. I still think I am a bit too young to live for the weekend. That is unfortunately how I am going to end up.

I went grocery shopping tonight and hit a new cashier. Kelly, one of my former Libr1105 students, helped him because I had a ton of exotic produce and it was going to take forever. As a result, I did not get to play stump the cashier, one of my favorite supermarket games. Kelly has a lot of Publix' produce codes memorized. Last week it was Kelly who handled my complaint when I got drastically overcharged on a buttercup squash. None of the winter squashes had made it into the new produce price book or none of the other buyers had noticed they were overcharged. Anyway, I was the one who alerted her to the problem, so now I'm sort of branded a trouble maker.

On the way back from Publix, I got hit with nasty IBS cramps. When it is dark and you have a long ways to walk up hill and you are hauling groceries it is the perfect time for cramps and cramps always know the perfect time. I always see them coming becase of this. I am not really hurting now and that is good, but I am very very tired.

I want nothing more than to sleep. I probably won't transcribe this blog tonight but at least it is up. By the way, the spahgetti squash I bought tonight at Pblix is almost white. I've never seen one that color. I suspect the flesh inside is yellow or pale yellow. I used to think the golden yellow spahgetti squash were better than the pale green ones. Maybe the white one is a new kind that will be even better. I like trying new foods. I stilll have a recipe I want to transcribe.

In other news, I helped give out free water that we soaked in a big recycling bucket of ice that turned into ice water. I kept dipping my hands in the frigid stuff to give out bottles of water. I was glad when we ran out of the stuff.

I also taught a lot of students how to log on to the computers. I guess this made it a useful day. I'll write more tomorrow.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

It is good to be back at Neopets again. It is good after a long day of volunteering at the nursing home. I may have another REVENGE VICTORY soon. I think I want to read Gorfman's the Total Institution. This is inspired by my volunteering at the nursing home rather than "intelligent conversation."

I have also been busy discussing revenge on the Third Rail, my hardcore Pretend Brainstorms board. So far the more I talk about revenge, the more I believe it is a good thing. It is a matter of doing one's revenge work every day. It takes discipline.

Buddy's cousin, Mandy, who sells Avon at Oak Manner, is no longer allowed to sell Avon in the building. I told her I'd be in touch with her Monday to place my first order. I also want to go to the Mustard Seed and buy a CD of hymns. Buying something in a bornagain Christian store is a wonderful act of economic revenge too.

This may be a revenge packed week. Now if only the Mustard Seed is open good hours like evenings. I work an eleven day week starting Monday.

I'm not worried about what this will do to Neopets. They will survive in care taker mode if I have to keep them that way, besides days are long. Being on there a little less is good for all concerned including me and the pets. Neopets does not wear well.

Right now like the good little Neopian I am within the walls, I am deciding on what the next major purchase will be. I could put up a Neohome and I want to do it in Tyrannia near the golf links. So far I'm looking at a 20,000NP plus investment, probably closer to 30,000NP. I have 26,000NP in the bank. I could save for a paintbrush. That will ultimately be between 120,000NP and 150,000NP. Third, I could get a Krawk as the third member of my family, or a Draik for that matter. We are now talking 500,000NP. See what a good little Neopian I am.

I don't have to do any of this stuff. I can keep earning a bit every day, putting loss leaders in the shop, and spending what I earn on books and training. The pets still have a long way to go though they are by now super geniuses. Intelligence is the easiest stat to raise and the one with the most status attached. Who wants a dumb pet.

I want to write an essay on the good social/consumer side of Neopia. I feel I ought ot write this essay for balance and because quite frankly I am of two minds on Neopia and ought to show both. Basicly there are five or six real good things about Neopia.

I completed my first Neopian wealth survey on Friday. I think it may not be a random sample. I am not sure what a random sample of Neopians is or how to obtain one. I am going to try a different sample source and see if the numbers differ. My sample was all those who sell semolina cheaply in their shops. I know that doesn't sound like much but it is good to have these numbers. So far they are proprietary so I am the only source for them that will be public. I think there may be some ethics of using humans in research that I have to consider. Then again, I am just surveying public information and counting beans.

I almost didn't go to the nursing home today. I lay in bed this morning thinking that this will be the last day before an eleven day week that I will have all to myself. I wanted the day to be all mine. Then I did some vision work and Gerry asked me if I was going to the nursing home. I decided it was best. The nursing home would still (would have definitely) scaird Gerry but he knows I don't work like him and it's getting out of the house and something other than shopping for food....

Well I went. This morning we had the singing preacher and then more singing preachers. Then this afternoon we had Grace Baptist Church. The kids were great singers. They sang in parts but the pastor's son who is studying to be a minister gave the sermon. He told about how we all have to make decisions whether to accept Christ and call out to him and then he told about the story of the crucifixion in Matthew and how Pontius Pilate and the mob in the streets and the judges of the SanHedrin and the priestly establishment (No he did not use a simple four letter word starting with J but he did nto have to and yes Pontius Pilate was a Roman etc...) all made the wrong decision for all sorts of reasons, that of wanting Jesus deead. Of course if they had decided Jesus was not worth executing, the whole crucifixion drama would never have happened and you would have no Christianity so go figure.

It was the J word I heard loud and clear. The young pastor was calling the Jews Christ killers and doing it about as bold facedly as you can without saying the four letter word out loud. He had no idea he had strayed into red hot territory. He had no idea a Jew was in the room. I walked out and realized that my gesture had done no good. I walked back in knowing what I had to do even if it meant I never volunteered at Oak Manor again. I needed to confront the minister.

I took a historical tack. I told him after the program was over that the story in Matthew was often used to foment hate and that children in Catholic schools were at one time routinely taught that Jews are Christ killers. I explained how the story had been used by priests and the nobility to whip up ignorant peasants into a pogrom frenzy, and that the pogroms of 1903 brought most of my ancestors to America.

The young pastor apologized profusely and we talked about Israel (He is far less critical of their human rights record than I am.) and the Roman Empire and I recommended Spartacus by Arthur Koestler as a great book about Roman cruelty. We parted amicably....I hope.

I have yet to tell my mom about what happened this afternoon. I think she as a fellow Jew would understand. I have a great deal of admiration for Christians and have been trying to learn Protestant hymns because I like religious music. Judaism is a singing faith. I like what a lot of the Christians who preach at Oak Manor say. I like the testimony, praise and prayer on my Christian mailing lists, though I am not fond of the forwards. If a person wants to give their own praise and testimony fine. If they feel called to preach a sermon or write religious poetry even better. Giving someone else's words in lieu of your own is a religious cheap shot.

I pretty much live immersed in Christianity, and I've lived that way since I was kicked out of Brainstorms. In the four months of living immersed in Christianity today was the first time I encountered anything anti-semitic. I don't even know if anti-semitic is the right word. Anti-semitic is a word that stops all conversation. This was a kind of unknowing anti-semitism. It was more words and choice of topic that have served as fuel for hundreds of years of hate. It was words that touched a nerve.

On the other side of the matter, as a Jew, I have a duty to speak up when something like this happens. I also have a duty to know that the young man was not a raving anti-semite and to know when sincere experssion of faith is not hate. Most bornagain Protestant Christianity is personal in the extreme. It is ahistorical and exists only in the now moment of affirming one's faith. There is no past. History is not important, not even the history of one's people or religion. There is no future. Jesus is coming tomorrow. There is the now that leads to an eternity in Heaven. "When we've been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun..." Bornagain Christianity is a very mystical religion.

Judaism, Catholicism, and perhaps the religion the young pastor was learning in Bible college (though I don't know about this. Insiders learn something different than the laity.) are historical. Catholics have the Church Fathers. Jews have their paople's history all through the Bible and on into historical times. A lot of Jewish holidays are historical events.

Judaism is also a tribal religion. You exist not just in relation to God but in realtion to your people. The worst punishment is to be "cut off from your people" not sent to Hell. There are whole books in the Old Testament that detail laws for living in a society with others. These books are considered more sacred than the story of King David or the Psalms, for example. In the late 21st Century United States this group empahsis is hard to take. Telling young people (Usually this is happily married old people) not to marry outside their faith because it is bad for the future of the tribe is good for a laugh. I after all am an individual free to love whom I choose.

Anyway, I owe my mom a phone call. I want someone to give me a pat on the back for going to bat for my tribe. My mom is more tribal than me. Yay tribe!

Yesterday, I went down to Quiznos all the way downtown to have a sub. I did not have any caffeine. I did the worst I could do with that on Friday and my intestines hurt most of yesterday. IBS is painful. Fortunately, with me it is painful only when nothing happens. IBS cramps also hurt with a Murphy's Law predictability. I knew that some time during my walk down town, the cramps would start and they would hurt worse when I came back in the hot sun. Yes, I can walk with my hand on the lower left quadrant of my stomach. The warmth acts like a hot water bottle and soothes the pain. The pain is short lived. It feels like bad period cramps but in the wrong spot. The pain hit just when I expected it though not on the walk back up the hill except for a minor bout. Today there were almost no cramps.

The Quiznos sub was not worth the walk. They don't put pickles or cucumbers on their subs. A sub without either of these doesn't taste right. Also their only sauce is an Italian dressing that just lacks the proper zip and zing. Also there are no banana peppers on their subs. This makes their subs taste flat. You don't even need to have Dr. Pepper with their creations. Their subs were also expensive. Now I satisfied their curiosity but their sub was definitely not worth the six mile (each way) walk. Give me Subway or Blimpie any day.

I also got to see some of the street skateboarding festival down town. It surprised me that only boys ride skateboards and do tricks on them. Since women and girls figure skate and do gymnastics and go off the high diving boards, why shouldn't they skateboard too. I guess it's the high risk thing. Skateboarding is macho. There were lots of kiddie attractions, and one lone student practicing his French horn on the steps of the River Center.

It was kind of sad because despite all the effort to make downtown into something, downtown Columbus is a vast wasteland. Half the stores are out of business and the only businesses that make it are bars and a few restaurants. It is supposed to be an entertainment meccah but all the retailing has fled far away, and I mean all of it. There is no grocery store (unless you go across the river to Piggly Wiggly in Phenix City, Alabama), no drug store (except for a CVS across the river), no hardware store etc... The shopping malls did this. The city fathers let the downtown go and once a downtown is gone, it is very hard to bring back. I don't think you can build a downtown on bars and restaurants alone.

Another weird thing is that Total Systems was allowed to build a beautiful campus with its own cafeteria off to the side of downtown. This was brilliant (yeah sure!). The city fathers should have insisted that Total Systems infill into the existing downtown or gut and rennovate existing buildings the way Columbus State did with some properties. This way the employees who come from out in the boonies where land and property taxes are cheaper would have to be right in downtown and support some existing businesses. I ought to be world dictator for a week. There is a lot I could fix.

Friday, August 20, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I haven't blogged in oh so long. I'm stretched thin and it is letting me get silenced, something I swore would never happen. I added a chapter to A Thing that Would Not Die today. Sentient and intelligent virtual pets make great fictional characters. They are abject yet strong. That is the best way I can put it. I realize I have another essay coming. It has to be a positive one this time and there have to be economic ones too and the site is going to have to have a facelift. It was a quick and dirty put up so it did not get any graphics.

I still want a graphic for my avatar at Nothing But Neopets. They have a forum that does not have the Neopets' forums censorship rules. It also moves slowly enough that posts don't disappear in five minutes.

Anyway, I still owe multi-voice boards (Those are the jewel in the Play Pretend crown and Ladies Advance) I have half an hour to decide whether to go to schul. Going to schul is a good revenge act. Organized religion is traditional, hierarchical, and thus represents the antithesis of Brainstorms values. That makes it something worth supporting. Also I'm a practicing Jew so I don't have to turn myself inside out to do it.

I try not to turn myself inside out in my revenge work. That is why I have not joined the Republican party and totally messed up my politics or started supporting the war or become a flag waving patriot. These would be great acts of revenge because my effort would be in the right place against the Braintorms ethos but they would also be acts of self-betrayal. Some parts of yourself you can't change for revenge.

I still need to make that phone call to Fort Benning and I do need to buy more things on my wishlist at the Un-Registry. Buying some of the items is good economic revenge. I think my budget will get on track come September. I'll be able to do some revenge oriented buying then. These are all items I want so the revenge is easy. The Avon catalog is also going to be part of my revenge work. Since the Brainstorms ethos declares itself against old fashioned direct marketing, it is important to support my local Avon representative. I wonder if I can wear Avon scented deoderants without breaking out under my armpits. Avon has a nice pillar candle and some very pretty jewelry. Revenge comes reasonably cheaply.

The Play Pretend E-zine is still on hold due to the fact that I'm doing a lot of Neopian writing instead. I guess I can manage one thing at a time. I do like Neopets. It is commercial. It is important in my revenge work to support the commercial side of the web. The commercial side gives access to those with very little social capitl (Brainstorms slang defnition). Social capital in the Brainstorms slang definition is a mixture of seniority, glib tongue, credentials, and clout. Your average netzien just can't summon up the wherewithal to be in the elite. I was too crazy for Brainstorms but I have my play pretend version and it was just as good.

It was worth it to be kicked out of Brainstorms. It is worth it to be who I am and do what I do an say what I said not that I was impolite or not playing by their rules. I played by their stinking rules and got screwed anyway. No I don't let go and move on. That is what running up a mast head is all about I am the rock that will not be moved. I am constant as the north star. Get used to it. Revenge work is part of my life as is play pretend. Both are great. I work with my avatars loud and proud and hope others do the same. I realize how important, precious, and worth defending my avatars are. I guess I can be grateful to Brainstorms for that.

OK, I have a new project for Neopia. It is to find some sort of a way to build community there. I hate that word because it sounds so Brainstormish. I need a new vocabulary. One of the great things about Neopets is social capital (Brainstorms slang defintion) does not work there. You are as good as your Neopoints and your job is to shut up, get and spend. You can only do so much of that though before you want companionship of others of like mind or even unlike mind, just plain old compoanionship. I guess I could dig out the old pompous term collegiality. Neopets permits light conversation. That means sending more Neomails to my Neofriends every day. There are even traditional ice breakers used where people are more reticent. I know a fair amount about this stuff. It is time to put it to use.

OK, I have twenty minutes to decide whether I go to schul or not.

Let's start this side of the blog off with a very pretty periodic table http://pearl1.lanl.gov/periodic/default.htm Call this one your tax dollars hard at work. I just finished grooming the chemistry webliography. I'll go link hunting Monday, add the links and by the end of the week, I'll be hopefully working on medicine webliographies which means that the webliography revision process at work will be well under way and way ahead of schedule. I don't want to say more about this but it is not as good a thing as it seems.

I am thinking of going to schul tonight. I have political reasons for wanting to go there but there are some net tasks I also want to do. I have fifty-six minutes to make up my mind. Going to schul is a good thing basicly because I am starved for fellowship. This is a week where I don't have to put up a comp on a Friday night not that it takes me that long. Going to schul is a bad thing because I detest the rabbi. Back and forth, back and forth. That is how I go on all of this.

The buttercup squash I bought last week was lousy. That is sad because I had two really good ones before. I suspect it was the last squash in the box. I should know better about squash in summer but the last two were so good. Go figure.

The Kerry campaign in my town is giving away lawn signs if you can find someone who will let you place one. I called Suzette who is my direct supervisor at the nursing home where I volunteer and asked her if she would be interested. I told her to call me back via the landline and leave a message. I guess I should whip out the old cell phone and check. I also would like to register workers at the nursing home to vote. I don't care how they vote but a lot of them would be Democrats and that is with a big D.

I am glad we are getting lawn signs at all. I am actually thrilled. Georgia is a "red" state. That means we are essentially written off. My feeling is we will see about that. I haven't looked at the news today yet so I have no idea what is going on in Najaf, but one thing I know is it isn't good. It can't be good for W. It can't be good in the long run for Kerry either.

I find the news of the Republican convention bores me as did news of the Democratic convention. As for the Olympics, that is an even bigger and more crashing bore. It's a bunch of sports no one takes an interest in unless one does them or has a child or friend who does them, except every four years. Soccer may be the exception and basketball certainly is but the rest are high school/college type things. If I were interested in them I'd go watch my local team regularly or I'd go to a gym or pool and do them myself as an amateur.

It is rainy outside but you would never know it if you were in this office. It is a windowless dungeon. I've started a no forwards (for me only. Others can do whatever they please but since I loathe forwards on other lists I am putting my money where my mouth is) policy on a list I run. My feeling is if I detest finding an inbox full of forwards, there is no reason I should be sending them. Again, what others do is their own business. I have to walk the walk in this world. OK, time to do the left side of this blog.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

The World of Neopain Samizdat has a new chapter for A Thing That Would Not Die, and A background gallery plus A Page on Neopian Consumerism. One of these days I'm going to get the two books on consumerism that I ordered via universal borrowing. I guesst his is vengance victory number two because Neopets of all places is stimulating me to read. I don't need so-called "intelligent conversation" to do this. I haven't worked on the Play Pretend Ezine yet. I can only handle one controversy at a time. I have to eat and sleep and Haldis and I both have to score web site competitions too.

Today Haldis and Ithamar left Mississippi. He is due in school next Monday though I am unsure whether it is for orientation or classes. Anyway, he needs a few days to settle in in Iowa. His truck goes to its winter lodgings after Labor Day. He does not want to pay car insurance or keep it on the road once he is in Iowa City. Haldis slept through about half the trip. Riding through the rural south (They only went part of the way on the interstate because it bores poor Ithamar to tears) felt lonely and distressing. The couple had their own food and leftovers from the kitchen of U-Hall Seven. Their last pay check will be direct deposited to them. Haldis has done well for herself this summer. I took a day off from the Run Amuck Board because Haldis and Ithamar were MIA due to their journey home. Some time after Ithamar's truck goes into hybernation (I don't have an exact date for this yet, but I do have one for when Haldis starts school) Haldis will travel east, maybe with Thadea, to Dartmouth and start her second year. She is living in Mid Fayerweather hall on the third floor. No more Choates.

Orelle has found herself and her voice on the Run Amuck Board too which I find kind of amazing. I've always had the most trouble with Orelle of all my personnae. She is older than I am by a generation and it is hard to figure out what old people think.

Haldis scored Webleagues tonight and I scored at ZOID. Double scoring nights happen every other week. They are rough. I got started late because I went down to Publix to get cat food and a drink for tomorrow. I'll write more about this in the right hand column.

Personnae and revenge are fine. They are all over this blog. Work is not. You only get bits and snippets and that is all you are going to get. I am thinking a lot about work. I just wish I could write about it here. If this column looks short today, you will know why.

Tomorrow morning is a purgatory of meetings at work. I have to go. We start with an openhouse for faculty. It features goodies from the Atlanta Bread Bakery. Why any one would go all the way up to that hideous strip mall in North Columbus to get large soft treats that have to be cut in half is beyond me. I don't find that kind of thing one bit impressive. Were it me, I would go to Publix and get some kind of graham cracker cookie (The sticks are great but so too are the chocolate covered ones) and pretzels (preferably sweet ones if you can find them), apple and/or banana chips (nothing too heavy. This is morning), and bagel chips, and possibly one or two other kinds of cookie, maybe a newton with fruit filling. This makes a nice mix of hard and soft textures and the treats already come in a small size. They are also different colored treats and offer a nice wide range of flavors without being too rich. It probably also costs less than half of what the stuff we are getting tomorrow costs.

At lunch I have to attend the welcome back lunch. This is catered by Country's Bar-b-que. It features treif meat and long lines. I am bringing my own lunch. I simply can not eat the food. My employer wins the cultural sensitivity prize for this luncheon. I am bringing my own drink too because my irritable bowel is acting up. This means bouts of cramps and a kind of broken urge that leaves me weirdly bloated and hurting. It's the pain that I can really do without.

IBS cramps have a Murphy's law quality about them. They always come at the wrong time and in the wrong place. The favorite time and place for them is after sundown down at Cross Country Plaza where Publix is. I also seem to get them on Macon Road at night. This has happened enough times I am weirdly used to it. I go out anyway and just know that I'll get zapped.

This particular (I wish) run (sorry for the bad pun. In my case it is the absolute opposite) of IBS is due to the caffeine I imbibed over the weekend. The Dr. Pepper at Subway on Saturday and the green tea behind the nursing home on Sunday are public enemies number one and two. The effect is cumulative. It will take several days for crampy bloated spells to end.

Drinking sweet tea tomorrow at the luncheon would just mean several more days of nasties. I am bringing a can of Publix black cherry soda. It has all the full dark coloring, all the great sweet dark taste, and none of the caffeine or caramel color. Caramel color is IBS trigger number two for me. and trigger number three is alcohol. I suspect though I'm not sure that theobromine (and that means chocolate) is trigger number four. I'm not a big chocolate fan, but I have gotten cramps from drinking chocolate milk (I'm not lactose intolerant.) and theobromine is a close relative of caffeine.

Tomorrow night I get to make soy curl, string bean, eggplant surprise. Yes, it's another one of those dishes. I have the rice to eat with it. I also am going to roast the fatted buttercup squash, the last one Publix had on Saturday and the one on which I got grossly overcharged because their new produce book left out all the varieties of winter squash. Yes, I'm looking forward to the first apples and to those monstrous hubbardolas (my private name for hubbard squash) from Michigan.

Sometimes I am a stomach with two feet attached. Sometimes it is late at night, but I'd rather write than sleep. I promise myself I'll go back to doing LOTH transcribes one day or other. That day probably won't be tomorrow.

Monday, August 16, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I'm starting today with the solo voice blog since I blew off blogging last night. That is a bad thing. My being kicked off Brainstorms can not and should not silence me. I am seriously thinking of doing a Play Pretend Ezine. I love writing and do it just for fun. I think that is the bottom line. I write all day. I write all night. I write while the moon is a shining bright. You know, I've always wanted to write that and I just did.

I am not in the mood for a mast head, so I'll skip it. I am still on Neopets. I feared a mildly critical comment that as a ten year old I would not have liked their site because I enjoyed discussing current events would get me booted. The problem is a lot on Neopets is not working. The games have not paid in points, and without getting paid there is no point in playing. The games might be fun once in a while, but there are more useful things to do online. Writing this blog is one example. Also, once you get started playing the games for points, there is no point in playing them for free. Yes, Neopets has left me outer directed in ways that make me ashamed.

Anyway, this morning, a lot of stuff on Neopets was not coming up. The boards were difficult to post to and I could not reach my pets' Quickref page to see how they were doing and let them talk to their petpets. I managed to feed and groom them, all I can do until my earning capacity is restored (sorry for the passive voice there). Now of course all of that is academic. Neopets has suffered some sort of hardware crash. I tested with a traceroute and could not reach the site. Requests were timing out. This could be anything from a crash to a cable cut. I miss Neopets.

I also remember that what drove me away from Neopets in 2000 was an unreliable server. Like it or not, and there are stranger things, most of your interaction on Neopets is with a computer rather than a live human being. That is why a play pretend version would probably be easy to do and in the end better. All you need is a java goodie that can do random numbers for the gambling and random events and the rest is just a matter of keeping score for yourself.

Well, Neopets came up this time around but I don't trust their being up and in good shape just yet. Both web site competitions are up and running. Haldis doesn't see much activity with the Webleagues list. Fatigue is endemic among competition administrators. I am one of the ones with the highest energy level going. Haldis misses the interaction, though right now her mind is on packing up her junk so that she and Ithamar can head north from Mississippi to Iowa. Ithamar starts school next week or at least the activities to help him get ready for school. He is a senior at the University of Iowa where Dr. Bechstien, Thadae's husband teaches. It is all one big happy family that is not one bit dysfunctional.

My own mailbox looks scrubby, but that is because play pretend makes it look bad. I suppose it will be time soon to write some very good articles about play pretend. Well maybe they won't be very good but writing is important. Self expression is more important than community which is why I am here, pouring out my heart, soul, and passions. I've learned that from being kicked out of Brainstorms so I make sure I have my opportunity for self-expression every day. That is why I come here.

As for the multi-voice boards, including my hard core Pretend Brainstorms, the Third Rail, that is simply the best. I feel so good after a conversation there. I think it is the snap-snap instant gratification end of it. Yes, something this good just might be sinful you know....

I guess an article on multi-voice boards or starting conversation in a vaccuum is a good place to start for a Play Pretend newsletter/ezine etc... I think one has to start with the basics for such a project. I also want to discuss keeping avatars, how and why make them. A lot of why and very basic how is necessary before I get to the finer points. This is not going to be easy. Basicly, play pretend comes in four or five varieties.

  1. private play pretend, dialogs in journals and locally mounted pages. If you are very scaird of legal problems or good old vengance, this is the play pretend for you.

  2. avatars and personnae, being someone else. A new identity. Lots of fun. Very useful. Everyone deserves a fresh start. Authenticity is over rated.

  3. substitution. Nasty people can be replaced. What makes substitution different from seeking out a new group? Substitution is living your ethics. If someone has said no one wants to listen to you, you'll listen to lots of others etc...

  4. slow or quiet lists and fora. How to pretend you are on an old list in a new environment. How to instigate when there is no response. How to post to a slow list or even one you create.

  5. Single voice exhibitional writing as with blogs or personal web pages. How to keep them going. This is not always easy. A lot of people are less than confident about writing for themselves.

  6. multivoice boards or lists. Pretend you are having a conversation with people who refuse to speak to you. It's role playing at its finest and it is so much fun. You can also use multivoice fora with avatars. This is surprisingly satisfying.

Other topics I can cover are the legality of play pretend, the social impact (imagine if everyone played pretend or could. No one could threaten to withdraw attention or tell any one to shut up because an avid play pretender could just call their bluff without a blink.), the whole psychological self-esteem end of play pretend. Play Pretend is a fantastic self esteem builder etc...Plus there will also be lots of practical how-to's and hints, and a section on play pretend and theology/religion. Talking to God while not strictly play pretend is closely enough related that it deserves some coverage.

Now I want to say a few words about Neopets besides complaining about their technical troubles. As a ten year old, I would not have lasted a week there. The reason was that I was the current events star of whatever grade I was in until current events cesaed to be a big deal. I could hear the inner ten year old in me screaming "but there's a war on. People are dying. The world is going down the tubes. That is more important than fluffy little pets." The inner ten year old takes no prisoners. After all, having your account frozen is not like going to jail.

Second, the censorship and monitoring on the Neopets boards is so tight, I dare not say what I feel. Someone has started the well believed rumor that Neopets staff do not work weekends. This is bullshit on two counts. The game, Dice Escape, was put up on Saturday. Also any computer used by millions of people or even a few hundred thousand has someone coming in to make back ups etc... The staff may work a forty hour week and have fewer of them around on the weekends, but they don't just close up shop and let the thing run itself. The game glitch occured around the time the new game was installed. Fact: Neopets has a stability problem and those in charge just don't care.

We had three programs at the nursing home yesterday. That was good. I even got asked to sing and I sang Dona Nobis Pachem. What else... There is not much news out of Najaf but at least Hugo Chavez is still in office down in Venezuela. Who knows what this will do for oil prices and who cares. The interesting thing is that Chavez' opponents are complaining about fraud done with electronic voting machines, demanding to see a paper trail, asking for a recount etc.... It will be interesting to see what the Carter Commission says on the fairness of the election. If it is fair, then too bad. I think that the CIA had a hand in trying to unseat Chavez.

I haven't checked on the news from Najaf today and I probably should. Let me go check... Well US tanks are within 1500 feet of the Imam Ali shrine. The only question is when this powder keg is going to go kaboom. Next to this powder keg in Iraq my little problems in this life are pretty worthless.

I am trying to get a webliography done that is between nine and ten pages long. I'll have another big one like this next week and then it should thin out. The webliographies are getting done way ahead of schedule.

Let's see what else is new. My apartment is a wreack. I haven't transcribed pieces of this blog to LOTH like I should. I hope to fix that today. OK, the webliography is revised. I guess I had better send it to Diana, the systems librarian, for mounting. That leaves me with a ton of clerical work to do.

I've had one or two bouts with prickly heat of late and my intestines are doing the screamies due to caffeinated soda I should not have had on Saturday and green tea I should not have had on Sunday. There are so many good tasting readily available caffeinated beverages. Besides I was flying on four hours sleep down at the nursing home. That wasn't too pretty. I did make spinach salad yesterday and put habenero sauce (just a few drops but a little dab'll do ya!) in the salad dressing. I guess I have to transcribe and copy recipes too. My online social life is many, varied, and never ending.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

World on a Knife Point

I awoke dazed from a nap with a do list at the ready.
I awoke with intestines dazed from too much Dr. Pepper.
Caffeine does not agree with me but
what is a Veggie Delight at Subway without chipotle sauce
and what is chipotle sauce on a sandwich without Dr. Pepper?
A small indulgence for a Saturday afternoon.
The house was full of groceries and the do-list manageable

And I awoke to find
BBC headlines put it near the top.
My bed and belly in Columbus Georgia are
are far way from a city on the other side of the world.
Yet there was the world, balanced on a knife point,
but now sliding down into a bloody rip.

I calculate the time zones between Najaf and here.
The first drops of blood have already fallen
The rip is silent, except for this dripping sound.

Sweet Honey and the Rock plays on the new boom box.
They can not drown out the feeling behind my eyes,
and the new tightness in my stomach.
This is it,
the epic fight between brothers who believe in the one God,
the bloody battle in the holy place,
not our own but close enough.

There are those who think this is the last battle,
the one that ties up all the loose ends in a happy ending for our side.
We've been through this too many times and that promise is hollow.
Once we slide down that bloody knife,
there will be only ripped skin, muscle, blood, and pain.

Once the holy place that is not our own but close enough lies defiled
we will not be able to put it together again.
Fade to black.
Fade to red.

Neopets and site fighting mean nothing,
but don't laugh.
Subway and Blimpie mean nothing.
Nor does my full house of groceries
and the bed with its light green jacquard cotton spread.
Nor does the Presidential election.
Can whoever we elect lift us for the river of blood about to flow tonight?

Time for a prayer request.
Time to call out to God, Ha'Shem, Allah;
for in the end all Your names are one.
Let the word of this poem break and shatter.
Let my voice reach as a cry and scream,
And let others raise thier voices with mine.
We are going to have a future after this,
All of us....DONA NOBIS PACHEM for all of us.
We are on the knifepoint tonight, Lord
and nothing else matters.

Eileen H. Kramer
August 14, 2004 10:16pm

by Eileen Kramer

Well, I'm still doing Neopets. Don't ask me why. You can guess what's in the open window on the other window. Right now though I'm just blogging away. I started a Neopets samizdat site. I'm going to work on that in lieu of a Neopian Adventure. I'm also going to publish essays on economic and social issues that effect Neopians. When I find people I trust, I'll send them to the samizdat pages. Samizdat is by its nature underground literature. Since this is happening outside the walls, it is legal as long as I am careful whom I tell. Neopoints are not fungible anywhere but Neopets so losing them is not difficult. One can play a Neopet without all the infrastructure. One might have to change it's species name and use one's own pictures but aside from that there is nothing to stop me from doing this. The idea of having a virtual pet is not copyrighted.

That last is very important. Anyway, I'm writing here instead of doing samizdat, but that is OK. I signed both Savannah's and Aidan's guestbooks at Caringbridge. Aidan's site is largely abandoned. After the money appeal no one felt like writing about their child. Lisa continues to write about her life, her grief etc... Like me she is a very public person. I need to support that kind of thing. The fact that Lisa does not recognize or care about me shouldn't bother me and I am resolved not to let it bother me. Signing Lisa's guestbook is a lot more productive and worthwhile than playing games on Neopets.

I ought to deal with the RAOK guestbook. I may do that tonight. My Pretend Brainstorms boards are still going strong. I look forward to posting there. On the Run Amuck board, which is my avatar board, Haldis and Orelle and sometimes Ithamar are discussing world politics. True it is a superficial discussion, but it is polite, friendly, and strife free. It is interesting to see what avatars do when you let them run. Running multi-voice boards is very stream of consciousness. You pretty much decide what you will write on the spur of the moment, though I would be lying to all of you if I said I do not think about what I want to write during the day. Once I'm facing that blank box though, something else takes over with a momentum of its own, a kind of groove. It is a very pleasant something. I wish more people knew how absolutely much fun this was and how fulfilling.

Blogging is fulfilling in a different kind of way. Well why shouldn't all this stuff be fulfilling. There is nothing like standing on one's own two feet and not being dependent on moderators, other people's infrastructure, or rules. This is why personal web pages are so popular. Going solo is a wonderful feeling.

I am right now psyched to write my samizdat fiction but it has to take a number behind my pretend Brainstorms board, Third Rail. I also need to write Ghostletters but a few days' delay has messed up my plot line and I need to do some rethinking there. I finally caught up on all my Ladies Advance patter. All these recreated lists are some of the most wonderful net work I have done. I wish I could teach others this art and get others to do what I am doing. The world would be a better place if all of us had the option of going solo and playing pretend.

I went to schul last night. I told Sam about how I have been doing home worship. He seemed surprised. Sam is our kitchen manager/steward. He puts out a nice oneg buffet. Of course in the Protestant church next door, they do their own buffets. They also built their own addition with labor from the congregation. That was kind of a culture shock for us since we worried about them taking a little useless morsel of the parking lot. I shocked a lot of people when I suggested that we sell them the morsel for a dollar to keep the peace since we have no use for it. Racism and classism rear their ugly heads but not on my watch! My little schul, the only traditional spot for Jewish worship in a group in Columbus, Georgia is still my little schul, warts and all. You've got to love it. The reason I went to Friday night services was that the rabbi, Mr. Cheapshot himself, was on vacation.

Today I want to go out and get groceries before they are all picked over. Publix does not get any produce deliveries on Saturday so by Saturday night the produce department looks even sadder than usual. There is a woman named Lise who works at Publix. She is German. She learned I was Jewish and asked if I still believed the messiah had yet to come. I told her yes. I also told her there had been many false messiahs, including a rather famouus one two thousand years ago. Actually there were several famous ones. The idea of waiting for the one has never died out. There are Chasids who are awaiting the ressurection of their Rebbe, but I don't think he is coming back any time soon.

Anyway, the funny thing about Lise and me is that we share the same tastes in food. We like the German sunflower bread and square sticky rye. We eat greengage plums and ranier (Queen Anne) cherries. I eat some very American foods being fourth generation and I mean American, not processed. We are talking winter squashes, peanut butter, and other nut butters. I also eat some mediterranean things that she does not eat. Jews were originally mediterranean and never forgot that. Still Lise and I are more the same than different.

I may even treat myself to a sandwich at Subway. I would like to go to Quiznos but they are way downtown. Now if they were out at Bradley Park.....I should check their web site and see if they opened there. I could grocery shop and try one of their sandwiches. I think Blimpie's Meximax and Vegimax are both better than Subway's Veggie Delite but I don't like that Blimpie's doesn't have Dr. Pepper. You need Dr. Pepper to eat with the hot sauce. I love chipotle or wasabi sauce. I also like the Dijon mustard sauce. The bread, sauce, and pickles are what make a sub taste good.

I made pink bean green olive soup last night. That means I will be posting a recipe soon. I also got a registered letter that says I have to acknowledge I still have a bank account in Utica which I do. That's not a big deal except I should make a xerox of the paperwork that I have to send back. I think I can make a copy down in Publix today. Publix does not have pink beans. The pink beans came from New York city. I bought them the day of Harvey's wedding. I went to Fairway Market, the big one which is in Harlem on the banks of the Hudson. That was a neat trip. I'd love to go back to New York for a weekend.

And last but not least, Georgia, just barfed a hairball. I have something secret I do with Georgia that I'll tell all of you. When I see her sleeping in that deep relaxed kitty way, I fear she has died. She seems so far away. I talk to her and pet her and she greets me with a broop and I curse myself for having this stupid kind of fear. Georgia who is a seventeen year old blue cream half Siamese alpha girl kitty is in good health for one of such an advanced age. She is currently sulking a few feet from her hair balls. I have no reason to be scaird like this. This is really dumb.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

Here is my Neopian Adventure -- The Thing That Wouldn't Die

Rosalita, the red grarrl, who really has a longer name than that, careens down the newly paved path to the laundromat in the service building in the middle of the complex where the pets whose owners have not yet built neohomes all live.

It is a busy somewhat raw looking concrete complex. In some places the grass has not sprouted. In many places there are no paved paths, but when the paths were paved yesterday, Rosalita's owner bought her a red bicycle which she shares with her sister, Shanti, a white grundo.

This is laundry morning. The owner is away at a meeting at her job in the world beyond the security gate so it is a morning for doing laundry. What kind of laundry do Neopets do? They wash their sheets and bedding. Shanti carries the big sack of laundry on her lap and balances precariously on the bike's handlebars. This way both pets can use the bike at the same time.

Rosalita stops in front of the laundry and leans the bike against a big tree. The laundry is crowded with lots of pets doing their washing. There is a human woman at the counter. Since this is a story about Neopets, there are lots of other species besides human.

"And what can I do for you Mr. Grarrl?" the cheerful woman who looks old and tired asks Rosalita.

"I'm a girl," Rosalita answers.

"Oh I'm sorry,""says the woman who hands Rosalita a token for the washing machines and a packet of detergent.

"Rosalita!" a voice calls out. It is Da_best (that is what her owner named her) a green wocky "Can I borrow your new bike?"

"It's Shanti's turn to ride the bike," Rosalita explains as she slips her token into the machine. She empties the laundry bag in and sets the machine for cold wash. This was something her owner insists she does. The owner who brought in special custom made kente cloth bed spreads and pillow cases does not want the dark brown patterned things ruined in the wash.

"Hey," calls out Serenity, a yellow female acara. "How many bags of laundry can Rosalita carry!"

Rosalita shrugs. She and Shanti have always had only one bag of laundry to tote to the laundromat once a week. "I guess we can find out," says Rosalita.

"OK, everybody! Let's bring in your laundry. We're going to see how much the grarrl can carry!" Serenity seems enthused. Too bad Shanti is missing the show.

Rosalita holds out her willing arms as wockies, acaras, aishas, shoryus, korbats, chias, jubjubs, unis and mincies all dragged in heavy bags of dirty sheets and bedding. Most are regulation white, a few are pink or light blue and some are black. A few have custom patterns stamped on them, but Rosalita and Shanti's are the only kente patterned ones.

Five bags, six bags, seven bags, ten bags... By now a huge crowd of pets has gathered to see how many bags the big grarrl can hold in her arms. Rosalita would break out in a sweat but I don't think grarrls sweat. "Come on!" calls out Serenity. "We need more bags!"

The crowd grows larger. Pets drag bedding that is not even dirty into the laundromat. Suddenly Shanti pushes her way through the crowd. Her big red grundo eyes are full of tears. In fact, she is sobbing uncontrollably. Worse still her behavior and the crowd have attracted two humans who are tall and male.

They wear dark blue pants and shirts and carry night sticks and....

The humans wear dark blue pants and shirts. They each carry a night stick and a flashlight and wear a silver badge on their chests. They have mean older male human faces. They do not look happy. They look sweaty and hot.

"What is going on here!" the taller male human bellows.

"If this is some kind of fight break it up now!" bellows the second tall male human.

"An owner stole our bicycle!" wails a disconsolate Shanti, but no one seems to hear her.

"An owner stole our bike!" she cries again.

Pets begin to try to offload laundry from the overburdened Rosalita as she all but drops the bags on the floor. "Officer," she says in her loud grarrlish voice. The two security officers blink. "Someone stole our bicycle."

"You pets are going to have to learn to keep the peace among yourselves," says the smaller officer.

"It wasn't a pet who stole it," says Rosalita.

"Well who could it have been then?" says the taller officer.

"It was an owner," says Shanti.

"It was an owner," repeats Rosalita.

"I guess we'll have to investigate this," then "Er uh can...."

"Her name is Shanti and she is my sister," says Rosalita.

"Can Shanti make out a statement," says the smaller officer.

"Yes, if that will get the bike back," says a weepy Shanti.

"OK, the cart's outside," says the other officer.

The cart is a big golf cart. Shanti and Rosalita sit in back watching the apartment blocks go by. Security has its office in the chasm that separates the complex from the rest of Neopia. Owners entering and leaving Neopia do so through a gate at the bottom of the far end of the chasm. At the near end of the chasm is the bridge. Pets can not cross the bridge unaccompanied by an owner, but today the golf cart goes across the bridge.....

The golf cart goes across the bridge and then down a road that runs along the far side of the chasm. The Security Humans live in a big two story building. It is yellow on the outside with brown trim painted to look like wood. Inside the building smells funny. It is a stale sour smell that Rosalita has never smelled before.

"I don't like it in here," says Shanti.

"Then you can leave and forget the whole thing," complains the taller officer, "but we dragged you all the way over here to make a statement and you are going to make one."

The officers have an office with a battered wooden desk and a computer. Rosalita realizes she is hungry and wishes the officers would give her something to eat. Of course they don't think of that. The taller officer powers up his computer and asks Shanti to give her statement.

"Well I was practicing riding the new bike," she began.

"Was the bike yours?" asks the officer.

"It was mine and my sister's. We share...."

"You have a sister."

"Rosalita is my sister. She's sitting right there."

The smaller officer rolls his eyes as if Shanti has just said something absurd.

"OK but the bike is partly yours and belongs to your...er...uh...family," says the taller officer.

"Yes," answers Shanti.

"OK," says the officer. "Now what happened to the bike."

"I was out riding it while Rosalita was in the laundry and an owner came up and asked to borrow it."

"How did you know this was an owner?" asks the taller officer.

"She was a human and she was small. Most owners are kids like us," says Shanti.

"And did you let her borrow the bike?" asks the officer.

"Yes, but she never brought it back." Shanti bursts into tears.

"Well if you let her have the bike, there's not much we can do," says the smaller officer.

"Excuse me," says Rosalita. "That was a human who stole our bike. Your job is to police the humans."

"OK, so tell me about the owner," sighs the taller officer. "Can you tell me what he looked like?"

"It was a she," says a weepy Shanti.

"Alright, then tell me what SHE looked like."

"Well she was smaller than my owner, but taller than Rosalita and taller than me. She had dark brown skin. Humans come in different colors just like we do. She was a brown human with very short hair. She had on an old skirt and a shirt that had something on it I couldn't read."

"Can grundo's read?" the smaller officer asks his companion.

"We can both read," snarls a tired Rosalita.

"Well maybe the shirt was too advanced for you," says the taller officer.

"We are brilliant," says Rosalita.

"OK, so why couldn't you read the shirt," laughs the taller officer.

"I could read the letters b-o-i-r-e-z d-i-a-b-l-o m-e-n-t-h-e" says Shanti.

"That's one strange shirt," sighs the taller officer. "I guess we've got a mystery on our hands." He sighs. "Well we'll do our best with this. I guess it's time for you to go."

The pets and officers head back to the golf cart and ride back up the chasm, across the bridge, through the aparmtent complex and back to the laundry. It is nearly time to put the wet linens in the drier.

Suddenly Da_Best , the green wocky, rushes back into the laundromat and cries out. "Rosalita, Shanti the [unrepeatable name] who stole your bicycle just left it by the big tree while you were with the police."

Sure enough the bicycle is back. "We went to the police for nothing," says Shanti.

"Maybe not," says Rosalita. "Owners don't usually steal from pets."

by Eileen Kramer

My pretend play moves from strength to strength. I posted five times to the Third Rail and four times to Run Amuck today. It is easy to post one time after another since the voices can respond instantly. I have a disclaimer up on the Third Rail which should keep all but the worst trouble makers quiet. Hopefully any one who would make trouble would consider themselves so puffed up and superior and little old me so pathetic that I would not be worth going after. Given the nature of the denziens of the original Brainstorms, that is not an unreasonable assumption.

I got a warning on Neopets today that leaves me feeling sad and tired. I got warned because I told someone on the shop ads board who was gathering donations and making a great show of it that "Christian Scripture said 'do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.'" by which I meant shut the bleep up you noisey show off, but a literary allusion sounds a good deal politer. Well someone "reported me" or there is a word catcher that caught me. My little allusion is also religious speech and that is verboten on Neopets. All this goes on while some Neopians have big gold crosses in their stores and messages that Jesus died for my sins etc.... Those stores owners have not had their accounts frozen. I am not a snitch but I don't buy anything from any one who tries to proselytize me.

I can still play two games of golf. I started my Neoadventure this morning. It will be in violation of the Neorules within a few episodes. It is not in violation right now except very tangientally. I should start saving copies of the chapters. An endless world of get and spend is not for me. It is just a matter of time and I can run a virtual pet through the patter prompter. I'll go back to doing what is productive.

That said, I haven't signed Savannah's mother's guestbook yet. Haldis did make the graphics for scoring her team at the Webleagues later tonight. That is a massive take down. I also have things to do around the house. I am not looking forward to any of it.

Let's try a little experiment. I get out my cell phone. I call my voice mail. There is no message from Lou. I call his house in Utica and get the answering machine but he eats out every night with his brother. You get the idea. You can guess what is not happening. There is a reason I am not cleaning out the apartment and a reason I probably should say &qut;I don't want you down here if you can't schedule a time for your arrival." I don't have the guts so forget it.

I am exhausted. My spiritual life is in the toilet bowl. My intestines are crampy. I don't have a cold but I ought to as rotten as I feel. Spending a day in a windowless office is probably a big part of the problem. I dread going out to buy cat litter tonight even though the pans need to be changed badly. The shabbos queen is coming on Friday whether I like it or not.

I have another weekend to plan out doing something. Most likely I'll go grocery shopping again, nothing too exciting. My real life has turned weirdly dull all of a sudden. The rabbi is on vacation so I could actually go to Friday services and not have to worry about one of his sermons. I'd help manke a minyan and that would be a very good thing.

The weird thing is that the net side of my life was until I got that stupid warning on Neopets going stupendously well. My new boom box that I bought last weekend is also working quite well. Its radio reception is excellent. I keep it in the bedroom by the dressing room door.

I've been sleeping like a log lately and having weird dreams that are almost nightmares. Last night I even dreamed I was at work and helping someone with a math reference question. This is the break week before Faculty Planning Week so it is as dead around here as it gets.

Sometimes when you go looking for a trouble, it's outside of you, you have no control over it, and all you manage to do is figure out where it comes from. I guess that is better than being at the mercy of a trouble of unknown origin. It is a matter of judging the cup half full rather than half empty.

Note: I may reprint my Neopian adventure here on this blog as I get more of it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

Haldis finally got to do a bit of graphics for the Webleagues. It looks like there is going to be a banner link leading to her team's running page. She had to supply the banner. I also added two t-shirts to the Run Amuck board accessible through my Pretend Brainstorms and the Third Rail now has a big disclaimer and a midi. I ought to rename the Third Rail Paper Moon but Third Rail it stays. Inspiration is a fickle thing.

I finally got back over to Caringbridge.org and read Savannah's page. Her mother updates even though Savannah is dead. I don't feel as good about Caringbridge as I once did. It is great to be wanted. It is not so great not to be acknowledged or even appreciated. And people who lose kids think they are special. They just do. That is fine as far as signing their guestbooks are concerned but the attitude gets just a bit wearing, especially if these are people one doesn't know except through the web. Right now I feel like shaking Lisa and saying that just because you have had a horrendous tragedy in your life doesn't make what I do and care about my life unimportant. I didn't sign the guestbook. I probably will in a day or so. The RAOK guestbook has started to hang fire, and that one has priority since I am in charge of it. It is kind of hard to be in the Caringbridge groove after being away.

When you lose a community like I lost Brainstorms, your choices for substitutes include those who are ready and willing to accept attention. Caringbridgers update frequently and give you space for comment. They are at the ready. Their stories though are all distressingly the same and sometimes that can get boring. Besides I'm using them just to have LS material to read. I'd be better off with the blogs and perhaps better off with some play pretend in the mix. Hey, I am better off with lots of play pretend in the mix.

I'm still taking care of business on Neopets. I'm not sure if I want to save for a large purchase. Neohomes do not look impressive and a white paint brush is 120,000NP. For the first time, Neopets is leaving me weary. I did submit Rosalita's page for the page spotlight. I know that it will not win. It discusses gender (not sex) issues.

Anyway, right now Neopets is actually leaving me weary. Some of this is too much access to it. Some of this is knowing I should be elsewhere and I don't mean what you think. I mean in my online life.

Taking care of business gets boring unless it goes somewhere. That is where the getting and spending monster rears its ugly head. Now I realize I have been fighting since day one with my store. It has a nice ambiance. It is well cared for. The fact that the merchandise is cheap does not make poor Neopians who need to feed it to their pets feel like they are shopping somewhere second class. It's a small fight but it is a sustainable one.

The problem as always is WHAT NEXT A paintbrush is over 100,000NP away. You use it and then what. I'm looking at day after day of more of the same. I realize tonight I just might get bored with the whole business. This is not something I contemplated. I don't get bored cruising the stores, seeing new products, and wondering where they originally come from (how they enter the system). Now I'm bored knowing that I should play three rounds of Chemistry for Beginners. I like Chemistry for Beginners. I don't like having to play it every day like work.

Also there's a Neopian Adventure I need to start for my own sanity. I think I know how it may start. It's going to be quite (for Neopets) transgressive. Meanwhile, I don't want to drop out of Ghostletters and I need to keep blogging here (one of the most important parts of postBrainstorms discipline) and keep up with Ladies Advance and ZOID. I'd like to do more with Cbask-l and get back the attitude of humility that lets me do work with CaringBridge. I am going to have to take myself in hand. Attitudes like sleep/wake hours are changeable if one works with them and one believes this is so.

I camped out on the break room couch tonight. I thought I would just lie down for half an hour and awoke in a darkened break room three hours later. This was all after hours. This is usually a very disturbing sign. It means I am depressed, yet I don't feel one bit depressed at all.

I even attacked some rather nasty clerical work today at work. I'll have to do it again tomorrow and Friday and then the project changes. That will be a good thing. This is the interloan data entry project. Next week are the big all-faculty meetings and the luncheon served by Country's Bar-b-que. I bring my own food and don't touch theirs with a ten foot pole. I'll even remember to buy my own drink and bring it since I don't want to wait in that long line for just a drink. This ritual takes place in the gym.

There are only two biology webliographies left. I think I am going to get even further ahead of schedule than last year. Having a do-list on my corkboard on my compter is a big help for keeping me disciplined. I had to learn all the discipline I discuss on the left side of this blog somewhere and I learned it at work.

Georgia threw up by the food dishes. I will have a lot of cat vomit to clean up tomorrow. I also have to go to Publix tomorrow night and get cat litter so I can deal with litter pans. Once that is done we are sort of marginally ready for the shabbos queen around here. Yes, even a dirty dog like me prays and observes shabbos. Would you prefer this dirty dog to be a total reprobate? Georgia seems to e her old self, feeling fine, and all that.

I'll need to make another pot of soup soon. I'll probably do it over the weekend. One of the banana peppers I bought at Publix went bad. I paid good money for it so I'm more than a bit angry. It's not worth taking back. Trying to convince them that a banana pepper is supposed to last a week is just too much work.

Lou keeps saying he'll be coming down to Georgia. I have given up on him since he can't seem to schedule a departure from Utica and stick with it. I'm kind of glad I did not call Lou tonight. I have to plan next week's menu. This comes with buying groceries. I think I'm going to make bok-choi based stir fry with soy curls. Soy curls are so good. First though, I'm going to make pink bean soup with rice. I guess I am eating tons of brown rice. The next bag I have is long grain. Short grain is better but very hard to get in Columbus. If Lou comes down here and there is a soy curl dish for dinner, than so be it. If he can't get organizd too bad. My life goes on.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I met the owner of a female grarrl on Neopets yesterday! I guess that is news. I thought I had the only female grarl. This is a real gender issue. Neopets has a way of placing a very thin veneer over human prejudices. That is the history of the place. In some ways, I have a female grarrl because I am forty-two and don't have to worry about looking cool any more. I mean if I am healthy and keep my weight down and exercise I'm going to stay fairly decent, but no one expects me to look like the latest model. A middle aged body, even one in good shape doesn't look like a kid's body. There is no pressure to wear hip huggers, which one can't do any more. I have a paunch. It is not large because I am not large but it is there. It has been there since I was in my twenties. My mother who was not big had one at my age and even when she was younger. I remember her showing it to me. I can't wear strapless dresses either. I am all bones through my chest and I have big ugly collar bones.

Wow, this is not where I wanted the conversation to go. Economic revenge is stymied due to the new boom box. BMG music and a mesuzah and a Neopets T-shirt with Rosalita on it are all going to have to wait. That is OK. I feel as if I scored another revenge victory today. I decorated the Third Rail. It feels wonderful to post there and even more wonderful when I see it with its new moon and stars theme. Actually the theme is paper moon as in the song. The song started going through my head as I brought home groceries over the weekend and my brain said "yes" boy does that ever fit with the theme of play pretend.

I'd like to start a support group for others, particularly normal adults, to learn the art of pretend play. Pretend play liberates and empowers. I could not be on Brainstorms at all except in a pretend way and yet with the Third Rail and Silk Purse there I am. It is great. I would have nothing without Pretend Play or be forced to seek like a supplicant or an exile. With Pretend Play I have something. I can still have those people who want nothing to do with me in my life, albeit as pretend versions but still that is better than the other way. I don't have a choice between real life and pretend as far as Brainstorms is concerned. I wonder how many other people are in my position and could benefit from pretend play.

Now I don't kid myself. There is a horrendous taboo against pretend play, especially in public. The Third Rail is terrificly transgressive. The rest of the Silk Purse is also mildly so. The reaction of rationalists and unthinking well socialized others is going to be "get a life! Isn't the real world better? Why are you doing this?" etc.... Then it will go to "such things are not done?"

Well why can't they be done? This is my web space. I pay for it. I hold down a job and do all my service in the real world like I'm supposed to and obey its rules etc... I pay my dues. I'm entitled to my play pretend time and my play pretend space. Am I hurting any one? Since I state very clearly (The board needs a big disclaimer paragraph. I'll stick one in there pronto) I am playing pretend and that the people I am talking to are pretend versions and therefore not the real people or any attempt to imitate them beyond playing I doubt I am hurting the people I am pretending about. Am I hurting myself? Hey, this one feels so good, how can I be hurting myself. Yes, I could be doing something else, but I am free to choose what I do. If you don't like my choice or think there are better choices, well choose them for yourself.

Now here is what is so scarey about play pretend. It is fun. It is empowering, and it is a choice. And yes sometimes we choose between real life and pretend. Sometimes we choose between interacting with others and interacting with play pretend voices we make up. Sometimes we choose between interacting with others in real life and spending time on play pretend. Which choice do we make depends on our resources and our circumstances and there are going to be times (not all the time because nothing is ever one hundred percent) when play pretend is clearly the better choice.

The choice between looking for another community and playing with my pretend brainstorms, between forgetting letting go and moving on and playing with my pretend brainstorms on Third Rail is one of those choices. I prefer play pretend. Play pretend makes me happy, but suppose I had a different choice. Suppose I was dealing with a really obnoxious parent, boyfriend, or in-law. Well I could create a good play pretend version of that person, one without the flaws, one who would listen, I could have conversations with that person via a web board or emails (just get a web based email box) or I could even just do the conversations via a diary or tape recorder. Now I have an option. I can also spend time with both versions and feel satisfied and relieved when dealing with the pretend one. I can deal with the real one knowing that there is a pretend one waiting for me to fill my needs. How do yousay nice comping mechanism?

But if the real one threatens to walk away, not listen, gets really obnoxious or whatever, fine let them go. I have the pretend version and it's better. Now the real version had better watch out because I have an alternative and I just might choose that alternative if the real version gets really ugly. The real version in other words had better shape up. He or she is no longer the only game in town.

You can see how play pretend is powerful and why it is taboo. Those who would like to lord it over others and be the only version and set the rules, are going to be pretty upset if their intended victims have play pretend as their alternative.

Now my only problem is how to tell the world about the benefits of play pretend. I mean I am doing this on this blog right now but this is a very small blog, microcirculation if you will. I'm not sure what kind of a forum I could publish in that would get the word out to those folks who would need it and who could use it. This is one heck of a way to start a movement. And yep, I've got some delusions of grandeur here but one can dream. That is quite different from play pretend.

I survived clean up day. I can't tell if the reference area looks any better. I wiped down every table and chair and computer desk with dusting stuff and a rag that started out white. The rag was not white when I got done with it. I think the reference area looks better.

We had lunch at the boss' house today. It was pretty good. She has a "lovely home" that is really that. Her furniture is all old and very distinctive and the place is painted yellow and green on the outside. It used to be peach pink. Callie changed the color because Callie is good with colors. There are nice homes and then there are really nice homes, and Callie's house falls into the latter category.

I got back from lunch and started working on the animal physiology webliography. The new version is not up yet. I am hoping to have all the biology webliographies up and revised before Labor Day. I just might get to do it.

I am zingy on caffeine right now. The only thing other than water or Sprite Callie had to drink was Coke. She had no black cherry soda, no grape soda, no decaffeinated Coke, no lemonaade. I mean all that stuff is available. I always serve my guests black cherry. Publix makes very good soda even if everyone at work thinks it's cheap. I'll give you one more, unless you are buying soda from Whole Foods which has their own line of exceptional soda, or Dr. Brown's which is special in its own right, soda is a generic product. The big difference is the flavors so a variety of flavors is a must.

I felt really sick last night. I'm not sure if it was stress, a cold, or what. Suzette is running around with a cold that never goes away, but she is malnourished. I may have caught it from her. I took some Naproxen and I am fine right now except for what my intestines are doing but they haven't been good all week. Too many cheese sandwiches and not enough beans and soy products. Cheese is binding.

It rained all day, and we needed the rain. I won't have to water my container garden tonight. We also had a democratic primary runoff for Senator. I voted for a woman who unseated Christine (I believe) McKinney due to ADL and AIPAC money. As a Jew I can say that. It's a pro-Israel lobby, not a Jewish conspiracy. It just is there. I think the candidate who took this money two years ago can be forgiven. It would be nice to have a woman in the senate from Georgia. I think Majette is no flaming conservative either. I feel good about my vote.

I'm due to roast beets tonight. I try not to think of how scuzzy the roaster will be two or three days from now. In this age of the microwave I am totally lost without my roaster. The beets come from Atlanta. They are sold without tops. Roast beets are a delicacy since one rarely has enough beets to load up the roaster unless one brings them home from Atlanta.

The apartment is a mess. Lou still hasn't left for Columbus. What else is new. I don't expect him this weekend. Life goes on.

Monday, August 09, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

No Neopian essay today. I'm just not in the mood. I'm not really able to do all the patter or Neopia today. The reason is meetings. The one this morning lasted two and a half hours. I am cleaning out Haldis Voila box. I'd like for it not to bounce for another week. I messed up the main Hopefulviper.us page when I updated Haldis' site to keep it in fighting trim, but at least the site is fightable and current because Karla did not put Haldis on leave so she is fighting away over at the Eastern Hemisphere.

Rosalita, my red grarrl, advanced to level four and has brilliant intelligence. Shanti got a speed raise right bfore the meeting. I have two very intelligent and agile Neopets.

Now here I was ready to reform Neopets or get booted out trying. What is happening? Well with any system that requires routine action and rewards it, there is a great incentive to do it. Remember, I am an ace site fighter and a born-to-do-it site fighting administrator. As a Neopet owner my instincts to win the small rewards and do right by my pets kick in. So too does my instinct to run my store.

Yesterday, I helped an eleven year old run her store. I explained about mark up as a percentage of what you pay for a good. The problem is running a store at Neopets is a complex endeavor. Because goods range so widely in price markup is not a fixed percentage so explaining all this to an eleven year old who may have a hard time with percentages let alone variable ones was a bit daunting.

She was a bit surprised to find an adult of forty-two playing Neopets. Now adults are not that scarce at Neopets. They even have their own guilds. The not so weird thing about this is that most adult Neopians are female. The demographics for Neopets are about the same as for the preCOPPA site fights. Women and children stick together. The fact that Neopets are animals makes the site female appealing.

Also owners on Neopets are usually mommies or daddies to their pets. Neopets sets up a nurturing model. I'm proud of my grarrl and my grundo. I redid Rosalita's page over the weekend, but I feel the story is flat. Yes, I found myself doing a ton of self-censorship. I think I can let more of me get through and still have a shot at the Neopets Page Spotlight. Being aperson who can code html competently has its advantages.

Yesterday, I only volunteered for a half day at the nursing home. Two programs no-showed. Both of them were churches. This kind of thing gives Christians, especially the Protestant bornagain kind a very bad name. We have the weirdest preacher in the morning at the nursing home. His sermons always slam the young people. Two Sundays ago he complained that young people weren't firm in the Lord because some of them smoked pot. The preacher should read the book of Genesis. Jacob kept laudenum in his house. That is stuff made from opium. Was it only for medicinal use? Then this week he complained because he saw a two year old have a melt down in a doughnut shop. He felt the kid's mother should have used physical discipline to use a euphemism from To Make the Circle Whole.

I told Suzette that the preacher's sermons were perfect. I mean if the old people are all there enough to understand, they surely know that their children are NOT visiting them this Sunday and that is enough to make them less than happy with the younger generation. The preacher is hitting a very pleasant spot when he slams my generation and the one after it.

Late in the afternoon, I went to buy a boom box. I set out to buy a boom box or a stereo. I need somewhere to play CD's and my stereo is dying or dead. It's fifteen years old. I guess it just reached the end of its useful life. Anyway, they had boomboxes that played CD's starting at twenty dollars at Best Buy. To get one that also played tapes cost sixty dollars but it was a SONY. I still had my tapes and CD's that I take to the nursing home so I tested the box's doors and then I put in a CD and got it to play. Then I tried the radio and the antenna. Then I tried the tape.

Well over on the other side of the barrier that was on top of the boom box shelf were the big stereos and someone had turned one up so that it was blasting this really obnoxious rap music. I cranked up the tester boom box I was testing to play NPR real loud, and then I put in Sweet Honey and the Rock on CD and blasted that and then I stuck in my klesmer tape and I really blasted that. People came down the boom box aisle and I could see they were not happy, but I had a big grin on my face. I knew how all the doors on the boom box worked by the time I brought it home. Yes, I bought the sixty dollar SONY boom box. It is light as a feather and all its doors work though I think the CD door is a weak spot. Doors and buttons are always weak spots on stereos and boom boxes.

In nine minutes I have a half hour meeting and at two o'clock I have another one. I had two and a half hours worth of metting this morning. How do you say "meetinged out?" I am definitely well beyond my tolerance point for this kind of thing. I'd rather be doing regular work. Give me the reference desk on a busy night or afternoon. Give me an irate student. Give me anything but meetings.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

First, let's run up the masthead. It was worth it to be kicked off of Brainstorms. It was worth it because I can play pretend. I have the power!!!!! It was worth it to be who I am. It was worth it for my avatars whom I love and cherish. It was worth it because authenticity as in truth is not all it's cracked up to be. Truth can often be just a tad lame. It's worth it because verisimilitude often beats the pants off of truth. It's worth it because everyone should have the chance to make a bit of a fresh start on the net and I'm not talking about rip offs, scamming, or theft which you can do as yourself anyway. I'm talking about a fresh start without the baggage of your past. No regrets. It was worth it!

And even if I neglect the outer part of the outer part of the patterage my Pretend Brainstorms is the best! I do miss doing graphics and signing guestbooks. I do love my pretend Zahava and Cori on the Third Rail Board. They are the best. When I go to the Third Rail I really do feel that I am at Brainstorms once again and when I'm done I feel pleasant. I wish I could tell the rest of the world how absolutely wonderful and liberating pretend play is. Come on and feel the power too!

Now on to Neopets: The transition happened last night. It did not happen when after two weeks of hard work I saved up the money to buy Bahiti, the ghostkerfish for Rosalita. It did not happen when I bought Isoke, the eelika for Shanti. Bahiti and Isoke are petpets, little pets for your pets. This completes my family or so I say. I'm glad I did not get a Ruki. Two personalities are enough to work with. The petpets do not really have personalities except as victims.

The transition happened last night. I went from being a have-not to a have. Some of this is due to the fact that Rosalita is level three and Shanti is level four. They have improved intelligence, speed, and hit points. In a fit of I am not sure what I tried the Kitchen Quest. I did not want to sit throgh traning Rosalita and Shanti already had her level raise courtesy of Coltsan, so against my better judgement (having been ripped off once) I went on the kitchen quest and spent 3,000NP. For that Shanti (not Rosalita!) got one hit point. I went on the Kitchen Quest a second time, something I could barely afford, and this time for 10,000NP ended up with a CandyChan Plushie. I know another Neopian who is a candychan fan and sure enough she wanted the plushie. She traded me 20,000NP, two books, and eight codestones (trading currency) for it. She said my prize was worth 60,000NP. All I know is the pressure is off to play games just for the points. I can train up my pets and improve their intelligence and the money can go either towards a Neohome in Tyrannia, near the golf links (where else since I play tons of Tyrannean Miniature Golf) or into a fund for a paintbrush. Yes, you heard that right. I'd like to paint Rosalita white.

Well, I'm not sure about that. Remember what I wrote. But money in Neopia has a way of burning a hole in your pocket and slipping through your fingers. I was lucky with the Kitchen Quest last night but I could have been just as easily burned. That said, a question nags in my brain: WHAT NEXT There is always a next after you buy something. Pets can keep advancing at this point so putting money into them is a nobrainer. It's a good place for that. The Battle Dome is not such a great idea since finding an opponent who is evenly matched and will show up doesn't always happen. In fact, it hardly ever does. Buying a Neohome sets off a never ending cycle of consumption. Petpets do nothing but answer randomly, but talking to them is fun, especially the way I operate. The way petpets are supposed to work is you start with a cheap one and then sell it and then trade up.

So what do I do now? My membership in Neopets either has to end or become sustainable. I probably will be thrown out rather than quit. The experience is too intense for me to walk away from and the server works on my slow connection at the house. I will be thrown out for speaking my mind. Unfortunately for those who want to politely speak their mind, there are few fora. The boards are ephemeral and most of the personal pages have size limits that preclude posting essays. The Neopian Times, poetry contest, and short story contest also are tightly controlled. They pick only one item for their spotlight and you don't know their criteria but certain issues are clearly off limits. The Neopian Adventure Generator is a bit different. Of course there are outside pages, but Neopets allows no outside links except posted within a graphic and that is iffy. Do it quietly and if no one complains you can get away with it. The idea is simple. You are free to write all you want outside the walls, but you can't get that writing inside. Do what you like, but keep it under the radar. I'll eventually figure out a way to get my message out over the radar.

The reason is that Neopets as I am playing it now and as most successful folks play it is not sustainable. Neopets is a time sink. It takes time to load up the store and time to hawk it. The store works and makes ok money. It could make more maybe. It is not a great return on the time invested. The games are fun (some of them) but when you have to play them multiple times per day they lose their luster. Also games are utterly unproductive. Signign guestbooks, having a discussion, reading other people's writings is all socially more worthwhile.

The censorship is annoying. There is also the fact that on some level I am being subtely manipulated. I am being manipulated by the difficulty and lack of setting up alternative activities. I am being manipulated by the glorification of the wealthy (and I'm sorry for the passive voice folks), and I'm being manipulated by all the lights, the color, and the rewards that gambling and the joy of the hunt completed successfully bring. The two kitchen quests were proof that the manipulation is getting to me. Long term at Neopets, the way I am playing it now, no matter how wealthy I become, it will never be enough. I will always want more and my ability to get off the wanting tread mill will either atrophy or my attempt will get me booted.

Now my goal right now is either to get booted or play Neopets sustainably. How does one play Neopets sustainably. Remember the paintbrush essay. The focus is the pets. The focus is producing as much as consuming. I redid my userlookup I wish I could show you but I don't think I can, but I figured out how to use the style sheet code to disable the ugly yellow bar and most of the cheesey illustrations as well as Neopets description of me. I wrote in all my own stuff and put in the links manually and am using a two cell ring table. It looks like a million Neopoints and it cost me nothing but time and I learned something. In other words, it was a productive act. Both Shanti and Roanna, need their pet pages updated. Shanti's page could use a new background border but it is not that urgent. I think the collage work is legal.

Second there is the Neopian Adventre Generator. Right now I have a story starring Primo Levi and his niece/cousin, but I'm going to take that down and write some Neopian fiction that will fall in the guidelines but which would NOT be the stuff that gets the spotlight. At least it will get published on the site and I can make the adventure as long as I like which means I have a nice big platform. True it is an obscure corner of Neopets, but I can put the link in my userlookup. Remember knowing html comes in very handy. The Neopian adventure will deal with all the issues the consumerist censors refuse to publish in the official media which remind me of Pravda. My story may get me booted, but hopefully it will be up long enough for others to read. And if the story doesn't get me booted, and it probably won't...for a while... I intend to take my capital and do some good works.

One of the ways Neopets stimulates consumption is by making poverty look wretched. It does this by putting junk all over the market. Those looking for cheap food often find themselves with burnt, scorched, spoiled and half eaten items. Dung and bits of barbed wire and rough rocks sell cheaply. These items exist to create dissatisfaction. Selling good food to poor pets where it doesn't all vanish the way it does under the money tree or in the primary shops, may stop some of the wanting. If most of the food goes to resellers who are wealthy, I can always simply give the food to newbies. Philanthropy is considered getting scammed and it only exists secretly but it is legal in Neopia. It is a choice.

And there is a big up side to Neopia. It is very much through and through a consumerist paradise. You really do have some choices. I hardly ever feed my pets jellies and I would not feed them the name brand foods that become collectors' items. I like healthy food and Neopia has a healthfood store. I also like the bag of peas you can buy in Merridell, the Medieval (actually it's 16th-17th Century world) and the clawmatoes in the Haunted Woods (these last look like ugly ripes). I am not penalized for wantting to buy and sell food like this. I am not penalized for having a small shop. I can decorate it and keep it up all I like. I am not penalized for not buying plushies or makeup for my pets. I am free to exercise my tastes. I am free to spend time in other activities that playing the games. There are no punishments. I am free to flout the dominent (13 year old female with a lot of body consciousness and too much television) aesthetic by owning a red female grarrl and a white female grundo.

And Neopia is full of kids. Is it healthy to immerse kids (and this place bills itself as family friendly -- yeah sure!) in an environment where all there is to do is want and buy and no one questions anything or discusses anything of substance or does very much that is productive. That's a rhetorical question. I have a duty to start the conversation and hope I can keep it up without being silenced. It may just be sustainable for me. It may get me booted. I may get sucked back in to where the lights are bright and the ethos is getting and spending, but I need to give it a try.

I have prickly heat on my belly button. Yes, for real. I must have the ugliest navel on the planet. I guess everyone's navel is ugly. Go contemplate yours some time in a place where the light is good. I had a bath for the prickles. I think the waist band of my panty hose is the culprit. Prickly heat forms where clothing is tight. Once you get prickles, you get rid of them, but more come as if to fill a vaccuum. In the winter I have eczema on my fingers. In the summer I have prickly heat in a variety of places. Right now I have both.

Georgia has not thrown up since Thursday. She is eating well and brooping and her old self. She also cleaned up her back end which had mats. I don't know how she got them but they were there last weekend. I think she may have sat in something. The bath tub in the kitty bathroom where Georgia likes to drink water is disgusting with a mess of cat hair and dead roaches in the bottom. I'm not the world's greatest house keeper and this apartment comes with a second bathroom for which I have no use other than as a place to put a litter pan. The faucets in there drip so it is also Georgia's drinking fountain.

Anyway, Georgia's hairs on under her tail and above her rear haunches were all stuck together. Monday, I snipped as much of them as I could off of her and I sponged down her back end. She let me do this no problem. Thursday I noticed Georgia was washing her privates. She has washed them several times since and now looks quite presentable under the tail. There is something about snipping out mats. Usually the cat begins grooming again and does a good job of it once you give him or her a little help. There is something profoundly embarassing about a cat with a dirty back end. Through all of this by the way, Georgia's privates were nice and pink and clean. it was just the hair around them that was a mess. Like most female cats I have known, Georgia is fanatical about keeping her privates themselves clean.

I skipped out on home worship last night. I played Neopets and made a ton of Neopoints. I am trying to figure out what to do with the rest of the afternoon. I've decided I'm having moqua squash and tomaotes with dip or moqua squash salad with dinner. I am going to have black bean soup for dinner too. The problem is what do do with the afternoon. I could go to the museum or all the way downtown via Weyracoba park and eat at Quiznos Sub Shop. Quiznos is the only sub shop in Columbus I haven't tried. I could also just go to Publix and take myself out to Subway. I do need to refill my meds so Cross Country Plaza is kind of where I am bound like it or not.

I'm almost finished with A Man in Full and have started reading a book on Consumerism and the New Poor. I got the book through Universal borrowing. It came UPS all the way from Athens (Georgia that is). This is supposed to help me understand Neopets better. It does in a way and the author writes well for what can be dry as dirty prose if one is not careful.

We have a lot of meetings at work on Monday. I am trying not to think about any of this. Tuesday is clean up day. I am going to hide in my office. I don't feel like cleaning anything up. I don't get paid to be a janitor. Callie is having a lunch at her house on Monday. I'm not sure she is going to serve anything I can eat or want to eat or want to drink. You get the idea. I am not looking forward to either Monday or Tuesday one bit.

And Lou says he is coming down to Georgia next week. I'll believe that when I see it. I'll believe that when I see it. I'll believe that wheen I see it. Yes, I said that three times fast. Well you get the idea. Well, the sun is shining outside and it is time to put Mr. Blog to bed. I have some web boards where I need to do some serious talking.

Friday, August 06, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I'm still taking care of Haldis' beaurocratic garbage. She has started switching email addresses and she is going to need to do a big revision on her personal site which is lovely but very outdated in all the worst ways. Haldis is feeling very disgruntled. She is on LOA this week. She is a caring and hard working CoJanitor of her team. She wishes everyone else was.

Anyway, I haven't found out if there are any unpainted pets in the Spotlight on Neopets but my store turned over three times today. I got tired of restocking, played some games, and went to get cat litter so I could clean the apartment for the shabbos bride.

I have IE6 on the computer at home so Haldis can use Gmail. I like the targeted ads. I find them interesting. I am curious what Neopets looks like in the new browser. I have an idea for a great essay that I may publish on the guild site or at least circulate among friends back channel. The way the restrictions at Neopets work is that you can say anything you want among those you trust via even Neomail but just one slip and you can be reported and lose your account which means weeks to months of hard work down the drain. This is a nice system of social control. I have to admire it because it leaves me wondering where I can publish the following essay:

Do You Really Want that Paintbrush?

Of course you want that paintbrush. Everyone wants to paint their pets, or else transmorgify them. Painting your pet gives them a whole new look, and with the specialty brushes, it's a look you can't get by creating a pet or adopting one at the pound. Pets come in about forty-five generally accessible species and four to six colors. That means there are only about three hundred and fifty variations of species, color, and sex. Sooner or later, your pet will meet his or her douuble. Painting your pet makes this less likely. Painting your pet makes her special.

But do you really want that paintbrush? Maybe you don't. Here is why. Though there is a sort of moral argument against painting or transmorgifying pets, let's not go there. Let's consider a paintbrush the same as hair dye or makeup or tattooing.

The problem with the paintbrush (or for that matter the transmorgifying potion or the secret lab map, all of which are means to the same end.) is that there is no way it can deliver all that it promises. The reason is cost. Paintbrushes for the standard colors start at around 30,000NP. For those of you outside Neopia, a Neopoint is worth around ten cents. Stores in Neopets can charge up to 100,000NP for an object. Objects starting at 100,000NP are unbuyable. Fancy colors of paintbrush such as Christmas, Mutant, Sketchy, and Draigian are often priced at 100,000NP or more.

This effectively takes them out of the open market of user owned shops. You obtain one of these paint brushes through a private sale negotiated quietly. Occasionally you can buy one at auction or get one through a faery quest. Consider yourself lucky if you get such a deal. Paint brushes exist on what I call the tertiary market. This means third market. The first market is the official shops that are restocked every eight minutes and run out of goods. The secondary market are user owned shops. This is the market that sets the prices of items that most owners pay. Then there is the tertiary market that operates in the shadows and where it shouldn't.

The problem with the tertiary market is that it includes few safeguards for honesty. Night after night someone on the Shop Ads board is holding an auction or contest for or promising a paintbrush as a promotion for doing something or other. The Neopets safety rules warn that this kind of behavior is illegal and a form of "scamming." One would think these private raffles, contests, and auctions would be pulled from the board as an egregious violation. They are not. Those who want the item are not going to do any reporting and those who believe the deal is dishonest have their own business to conduct. I don't have it in me to be a snitch.

Paintbrushes are also a symbol of wealth so those who have them often "put them in a gallery" rather than sell them. This means they put them in a store at a value of more than 100,000NP so no one can buy them but the whole world can see them. You can guess what this does to stimulate desire for paintbrushes. There is even a Neopian word for items displayed in galleries: "unbuyable." The option of galleries and making paintbrushes "unbuyable" shrinks the market for them even more and of course further raises the price.

Still if you want that paintbrush, you are going to play games of skill (the only kind that really pay Neopoints consistently) day after day, week after week, until you have the agreed on amount. You are going to find that trusted party and you are going to paint your pet no matter what it costs. You are also going to hope that all that money is well spent. Sad to say it won't be. Paintbrushes (and kin) are so expensive that it is doubtful they can give satisfaction equal to what you pay, and even if they give something back, it won't be enough.

Paintbrushes, as mentioned above, make your pet special, but do they really do that? Paintbrushes add a few more colors to what is available. That is all they do. True any one looking at your userlookup sees that you have at least one painted pet and knows your pet is special, but there is no such thing as a custom made just for you paintbrush. Though the chance is smaller, you can always meet a clone of your pet in her new color.

A painted pet also screams to the whole of Neopets that you are rich. Is this such a good idea? Desperate owners beg, and you will be a target. Also, it is quite possible to be posession/paintbrush rich and Neopoint poor. Except for food which you can get quite cheaply once you know what you are doing, owners do not have recurring expenses. It is easy under this scheme to spend oneself broke. It is quite common to find users with painted pets, large Neohomes, huge shops, and other indicators of wealth who are pleading poverty, and who may well be poor. Given the economics of Neopets, a painted pet may end up screaming that you head wealth and squandered it.

Also there are plenty of ways to make your pet special that do not cost 100,000NP. If you are selecting or adopting a new pet, choose one of the less popular species. Check under Stats under World and then choose something unusual. Choose and unsual species and sex combination. The larger (meaner?) pets, are seldom female. My female grarrl is rare. I have yet to meet another of her species and sex, yet she cost me nothing to create and had she been a second pet, she would have earned me 50NP.

Do a good job with your pet's name. Many pets have names you can not pronounce because they are full of a long string of numbers. Decide on a common last name such as Sunny Acres, Clear Springs, or your own name and then name your pet name of your choice_of_last name. My Rosalita is Rosalita_of_Roanna. I can think of her as Rosalita. She has a real name. A name is important for bonding with your pet. A name can be unique or close to it.

Now if you have already created and named your pet and don't want to start with another one, don't despair. Race horses who often have long and unwieldy names, have short "stable names." Give your pet a stable name. This will make it easier to think of him/her.

All pets come with pet pages. Go and revise, personalize, and customize yours. This costs no NP. You can give your pet a personality through your prose or let the world know the personality you already feel your pet has. Pets after all live first in our hearts and minds. The writing just lets the world know what we see in them. And while you are at it, don't forget to add a description for your pet.

If you want a more literary experience write poetry and prose about your pet on your hard drive or on your personal web page that is outside Neopets. Fan fiction is permitted and this gives you a space to make sure it gets published. Neopets can only publish a fraction of what it receives but you can send them your writing if you choose. There is also the role playing board. Go role play your pets there. There is also the Neopian adventure generator. Have fun writing stories about your pet. All of these activities are free!

If you have a few NP to spend, invest them in several inexpensive toys and a brush or comb. Having the tools to give your pet TLC on a daily basis pays off. Groom your pets and play with them every day. The result is that they end up delighed! Isn't a well cared for pet a special pet? And if you spent all that money for petpets (I have two of them so I should talk) make sure your pets talk to their petpets regularly even if they bite and nip. Giving your pets a chance to talk helps them bond and it also helps you feel closer to your Neopet family.

If you have more NP to spend, spend it on books and codestones/dubloons. The Sahkmet Scrolls and Booktastic store move their stock a bit slower and are a bit cheaper than the main book store. They are also primary market and books are about half what the secondary market charges. Every three to four books raises your pet's intelligence and this is a statistic everyone can see. I always wonder about owners who paint their pets, but whose pets still only have average intelligence. Developing what is on your pet's insides, makes your pet very special. Training is also a good investment, though it costs a bit more than books.

All of the above cost a fraction of what a paintbrush costs. All of these are available through your own ingenuity or on the primary and secondary (open and safe) markets and all of these will make your pet special. Given the high cost of a paintbrush and all the other ways to make a pet really special, do you still want that paintbrush? Only you can decide.

I also scored my first revenge VICTORY. Last night I ordered two boks on consumerism via the Georgia University System's Universal Borrowing. I don't know when I'll get them but I am looking forward to reading them. I realized I don't need a group of glib folks making intelligent conversation to stimulate my reading or viewing habits. I can get that stimulous anywhere, and I got it on Neopets, the most unBrainstormish place I can think of.

Having paid my bills, I'm ready for another round of economic revenge. I almost bought a grarrl figurine at K-Mart but they didn't have one. Buying Neopets toys helps support the accessible commercial end of the web and it's a part of the web I want to support. I'm probably going to order my grarrl t-shirt from 99 Dogs some time tomorrow. Woo-hoo! Onward and upward as we say around here.

I guess I don't sleep tonight, but I swore I would not be silenced. Lou is not coming down to Georgia until next week. He was going to leave but he went to the coffee shop. He only eats one meal a day but he does go to the doughnut shop to use their facility and then he has to order coffee and a doughnut and then... Well he met this gentleman selling religioius supplies and talking to him was so much fun well he lost track of time.

The words "I'm scheduled to..." have no meaning for Lou. I told him tonight that this is a nasty side effect of more than a year's unemployment. Regular work punching a time clock should get rid of the problem in less than a week. I'm glad I don't have to clean up the second bathroom in this apartment. It is a wreack. The tub is full of cat hair. I think Georgia sat in that stuff and that is how my seventeen year old blue cream half Siamese alpha kitty girl got mats on her back end. I snipped them off and her privates look pink and clean. Most female cats keep their privates a lot cleaner than even neutered toms do. I'm not sure why.

One of the weird things about Lou is he doesn't lie. That is why his excuses are so lame. I mean a guy who lies would say his car broke down. A flat tire is always good for a day or two's delay. He could even describe in great detail the nail or spike in the road or piece of debris that did the deed. The story would be fascinating and utterly plausible. Lou's excuses on the other hand are absolutely true. I keep lists of Lou excuses. These include: an uncomfirmed speaking engagement, floaters in his brother's eye, a leaky roof (People live alone do just fine dealing with contractors), the death of a friend's lover (OK that one was not so lame), my getting pissed off at Lou for quitting a job. I also keep lists of the holidays and occasions that Lou managed to miss. The list grows ever so long, but Lou did manage to be down here for Passover this year. Win some. Lose some.

Lou is surprised when anything has to be scheduled, including a vacation. He has totally forgotten that this is how the rest of the world operates. He says he wants to go visit his friend (and sort of mine since I appropriate all of Lou's friends) Rodney Rickard out in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Rodney may be a wastresl and Rodney is also an Old Catholic priest, but Rodney has this weird knack for landing on his feet, which I admire. Lou just lands. It helps in all of this to be able to live on air. I've been there and done that. I didn't land at all. I went to grad school and got professional work and brought home a pay check and grew fat and comfortable. I lost the weight but I didn't lose the taste for comfort.

Lou is unmaterailistic enough that living on air suits him just fine. I am unmaterialistic enough though more materialistic than Lou that I appreciate Lou's lack of materialism. I just have small wants: art supplies, a container garden, bedding for the queen size bed that was a gift for Lou and me from my mother. Lou said the bed made him feel like a sacrifice being presented on the altar. I bought the bed after Lou absconded for the fourth or fifth time. Lou has an incredible history of running away. He is my boyfriend. I love him. He doesn't beat me. He does ont steal. He keeps a civil tongue in his head. He is intelligent, charming, has a sweet voice and nice sparkling eyes and is intellectually alive. We are both serious about religion. Lou just can't get organized or stay put. It is a good thing I don't want a family though I would like to get married. Lou would too. I'm glad I am getting too old to have kids. Lou would leave me with all the work of disciplining them, and if he ran off and left me and them, that would make me really angry. I've gotten used to the running away. It's Lou's disorganization that is driving me nuts.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I wish I were not of two minds about Neopets. I stopped to visit the Pet Spotlight last night. It was late and I only saw two spotlights. They were both painted pets which meant they had wealthy owners. That hurt. The Lawrence curve for Neopets is an unknown. Now I know how many users make enough neopoints for specialty paintbrushes and other "unbuyables." They have multiple accounts. This means extra chances to play games. The games play points. It also means extra trips to certain gambling spots though this is illegal. Multiple game plays (the limit for each account) are legal. How do I feel about this? I just live with it.

Trying to make a spotlight post for my pet would come out all wrong. It would come out too sad and without the right emphasis. Put bluntly, I am probably not wealthy enough. I never will be wealthy enough. My experience with MU**'s is that I am chronically poor. I notice that the painted pets which get spotlighted frequently are not particularly intelligent. That means that the owners do not bother investing in their pets beyond a very showy splash. These spotlights hold the pets and their owners up as model citizens. The current spotlight is an owner with multiple accounts. His pet is painted but his draik's intelligence is only average. I feel myself to be a respnosible owner, but responsible ownership is not rewarded.

Think for a moment, it is the less wealthy owners who read the spotlight. It tells them to what they should aspire. It says spending and getting is the most important. Couple this with conversational restrictions and Neopets message is not good. Of course I have become a fan of consumer capitalism. Without the commercial net, I would not be at Neopets and neither would thousands of ordinary users who lack social capital (Brainstorms slang definition). This makes Neopets a fantastic place and one worth supporting, but the manufactured wanting is not healthy.

Remember under market capitalism you have a choice. When does a choice give way to manipulation? I would like to do some reading on this. I am tempted to take a trip to Adbusters.com. On the other hand, consumer capitalism as it is practiced on Neopets is utterly and completely fantastic. I am not being penalized for working on my pets' intelligence. This is not the easy or apparent choice. I just found a reasonably priced book store today. I wanted a paintbrush when I first started with Neopets, but I don't want everyone looking at my pets to know that I am rich. Conspicuous consumption just does not feel cool to me. I have to revise both my userlookup and my pets' pages. We hae all matured. It is possible to do many interesting things that don't cost anything at Neopets. There is no penalty for doing those things, but you have to think about it. That is the best way I can describe the way choice works on Neopets. And some choices are off limits. You can not talk politics, religion, or sex. Notice, I did not say argue. I said talk. A Bible study is off limits. A discussion of current events is also off limits. All of these distract from getting and spending and just might dilute the manufactured wanting.

My pets intelligence has risen in the last few days and Rosalita, my grarrl (big lizard) won her first match in the Battle Dome. There is only one enemy she can fight. She can fight him endlessly, but she is not a good enough fighter to take on anything stronger. It was great to see her walk away a winner.

I am also going to try and get my pets to act less brutal about their petpets. Bites on the nose don't do damage. It's just a quirk of the computer program. I think petpets are created to let off steam. Petpets are pets your pets can own. My pets each have expensive petpets of their own.

I also got to other parts of my Pretend Brainstorms yesterday. I wrote for Ghostletters and visited Aunt Bee's Parlor and My Home is Where the Heart Is. I also spent time on the Third Rail for direct play pretend. I wrote to Jethro about it. He did not write back. I had to use my Gmail address because Jethro's email provider blocks Everyone.net Haldis' email is crippled. Yahoogroups.com won't talk to Voila.fr and something is not working with anti-ignorance.net Haldis has a Yahoo address but she doesn't want to have to use it. She may have to. I am not thrilled with that. Such is life.

I am trying to teach myself to like inspirational poetry. I don't always like it. My academic training works against it. I've been socialized to prefer things with a twist and a certain ambiguous style. The problem is that good inspirational poetry expresses an upbeat and supportive message. I want to feel that good affirmative message. I am making myself read some of the poetry forwarded through my lists. I like Edward Guest. I think his messages are frank and his verse feels good and his work is nice and uplifting. It is great to realize you can work on changing your tastes.

Some people on one of my mailing lists like this cartoonist called Leunig. I look at his cartoons and they are sad looking things. The messages make me feel sad too. I need inspirational prose to build me up. My bad experiences with Brainstorms and other things in my life make me thirst for a really positive message. No Leunig for me. Give me Eduward Guest any day. Actually, I like my Big Book of Poetry best. That's World Poetry edited by Washburn and published by Norton in 1998. I also like reading the Psalms. There's lots of good high quality inspirational or just plain interesting poetry out there and as for art and messages give me color, and I find big abstracts impressive. I'm not a Thomas Kinckade fan, but I like something a bit more polished than those Leunig cartoons.

My stereo in my living room is on its last legs. I am going to have to get something new to play my CD's. I am going to see if those Bose stereos advertised in the Atlantic play CD's and are something I can afford. They look like the mother of all rack systems.

I tried my Google mail today and much to my surprise I liked it. I even liked the ads which led to prayer web sites. I guess they figured that with my relentless attitude of optimism in my letter to Jethro, a friend out in California, that prayer would be just my thing. The targetting was super perfect. This kind of targetted advertising feels good rather than creepy. I may get IE 6 so I can use Gmail at home. I really like it a lot.

Georgia was her old affectionate self last night. I think I ought to learn cat massage. If she gets sick, being able to give her a massage as well as the usual petting and brushing which she loves would be a big help.

And here is more news though don't any of you believe it. Lou says he is coming back to Georgia. Lou is my long-distance boyfriend. I'm a you know what kind of fool as far as he is concerned. Lou is up in Utica New York. He wants to stay with me. He wants to marry me. He has to get his rear end down to Georgia and keep it down there. Once Lou arrives there will be a pool of how long he will stay. The last time around it was only two weeks. Actually the excuse Lou uses to return to Utica is always more interesting. Lou doesn't lie so the excuses are often excedingly lame. These would be funny, except I am the victim of all this stuff.

Anyway, Lou may arrive just in time for home worship of which he wants no part. Sorry, Lou, you said you liked me because I am serious about religion. Well, guess what, I still am!

Monday, August 02, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

My revenge feels more balanced. My Pretend Brainstorms lives. I even wrote for Ghostletters and I am busy working my two personal web boards. I have a real pretend Brainstorms going now with ficitonal versions of Brainstormers to talk to. I can play pretend whenever I want to enjoy as much as I want. This is a very good feeling. Playing pretend is extremely powerful. I'm glad I did some of it today.

Balanced revenge is not an oxymoron. Revenge is a long term proposition on many fronts. I talked to the woman who sells Avon, but she can no longer sell it in the nursing home. I still have to find an Avon source. I also need to buy a Neopets t-shirt. I want to wear my support for the commercial net on my chest. I also have to visit BMG Music. I owe them one CD at full price. Too bad they don't have Kurt Weil. It is great to be able to put my money where my mouth is.

Revenge is complex because as I said above it is on many fronts. I was able to keep my Pretend Brainstorms working today which made me very happy indeed. This is important to me because my happiness comes first, as your own happiness should be with you. That is why revenge is such a good idea. Revenge is also doable. Those who tell you not to be involved with revenge are afraid they may be targets. That is my guess, either that or they have not done revenge right.

One of the revenge myths is that it uses up energy. So what, I am a raging power plant. Energy is like muscle strength and revenge is exercise. The more you do, the more you have. I get stronger and stronger in my revenge.

That said, I am going to have to seriously rethink the Patterage. With Neopets here to stay (I wasn't thrown off, though I'd be better off if I had. It would hurt and I'd be donig revenge here or a pretend version but a pretend version of a virtual pet site is like falling off a log compared to a pretend version of a live board or mailing list.) I need to shuck some outer circle components. I will definitely keep Ghostletters and my personal boards. I am rethinking what is important. I guess I will need a new patter wheel. Of course I am continuing to blog.

I guess that is a big plus. I wasn't even thinking about it. I was just thinking of all the time I sink into Neopets, and speaking of Neopets, it is time for some Neopian fiction. Of course it happens in The World. Let's look in our favorite virtual pets.

I am glad I don't live in New York. I don't have to deal with the orange alert. I still think it's so much BS (and that doesn't stand for a certain online "community.&qout;) It stands for bovine excrement. I try not to curse on my blog, but I want to scream it from the rooftop. I think this is a political surprise.

It was a very slow day at work but I got something done. A lot of it was clerical. Some of it has no deadline. I keep a do-list. I think the do-list helps me with my other online ventures but that is for the left side of the blog.

Georgia got sick last night. She was busy barfing hair balls. She seemed to be her old self this morning with curious copper eyes and a big meow. I had fruit from the DeKalb Farmer's Market as dessert at lunch and I also met the guy who drove me to Atlanta (and back too!) on the Columbus Shuttle.

I am out of cat food, so I am heading off to Publix after I blog. Georgia will have her Iam's. I hope she does not scarf and barf. I am listening to Marketplace fed in through the computer's earphones.

Tomorrow I am on the desk right at the start of the day, so I have to remember to eat breakfast before I leave the house. At least I paid all my bills last night and the apartment is fairly clean. Tomorrow, I actually get to add new links to my Microbiology Webliography. Nobody cares about this, but I want to stay on schedule. It is something to do and it is productive so that is a good thing.

Tonight, I get to cook. I want to make chayote, tomato, and peapod stir fry. I call snow peas, pea pods. That means I have been eating them for a long time. I am one of the few people out there who cooks from scratch. I am also going to make cole slaw or rather pepper slaw with savoy cabbage tonight. The idea of cooking doesn't feel real, maybe because I am too tightly hooked to this machine right now. The carteledge in my ears hurts from the earphones and the silence will feel strange when I turn the radio off.

The owner brought the minpet home in the wicker basket used to tote food to the store. Rosalita, the sauro-1 already head her minipet. It was a white frill fish that swam in both air and water. The fish, named Bahiti, could be graceful and acrobatic and had wonderful facial expressions if you like them a trifle mean which the owner did. Of course like most minipets, Bahiti never said much and she had the bad habit of occasionally biting Rosalita on the nose.

The new minipet was an eel-knot, a green eel that could also breathe either air or water. She did not have much of a face. The owner named her Isoke. The owner looked up names in a data base. "When people see our minipets, they will realize that I am an owner of substance. These are rare and expensive minipets and people who know something will know we have wealth even though we live in the complex and I don't go around talking about paintbrushes and secondary currency. What do you think?"

Shanti, the alien, who was getting the eel-knot as a minipet simply smiled. She was very happy and she couldn't wait to talk to her eel-knot so that they could get to know eachother. "Isoke, you and I are going to be good friends," said Shanti to Isoke as Shanti stared at her new minipet lounged in a bowl on the counter. Isoke leaped up out of her bowl like a green bow whip and sank her teeth into Shanti's white nose. "That's not fair," cried Shanti, very disappointed.

"My eel-knot bit me!" Shanti complained to the owner.

"Talk to Isoke," the owner told Shanti. "She's a bit wild, but she'll learn to speak and become tamer if you give her TLC."

That evening, Isoke bit Shanti three more times. "I know what we can do," said Rosalita. "There's a Purple Thing in Medeivalia that calls itself King of the Minipets. You can wake it up and win a prize but it also has a bad temper. I sometimes take Bahiti over there to try and wake up the Purple Thing. I figure that purple thing can whip the crud out of our petpets if they try to wake him up."

"Great idea!" said Shanti. She bundled up Isoke and headed out to Medievalia with the owner in tow because it was necessary to have the owner. "I'm going to win a big prize for us" Shanti told the owner. The owner noded. "And it doesn't cost anything or hurt your pets," Shanti added. "It better, not," said the owner. "Isoke cost me 10,000 World Dollars."

Shanti approached the Purple Thing's cave where the Thing lay snoring away. She put Isoke on the ground and gave her a stick. "Go and beat on the Thing as hard as you can and you'll win a prize," she coached her minipet. Isoke, beat on the Purple Thing as hard as she could. Then when the Purple Thing kept sleeping, she bit him. The Purple Thing slumbered and the attendent in the cave told Shanti and Isoke and the owner to move on. They were only allowed to try and wake the Purple Thing once per day, and besides there were others waiting in line for their turn.

"I have to do something," Shanti told Rosalita. Shanti scratched her no longer dim alien head. Against the kitchen counter reposed a broom. Well, what the Purple Thing wouldn't wake up to do what needed to be done, she an ordinary World Pet would.

She began an ordinary civilized conversation with Isoke and...Isoke leaped out of her bowl like a green whip and bit Shanti on the nose. "You're going to be sorry!" Shanti announced. Shanti hesitated at first. She wasn't sure it wasn't illegal to beat your minipets. Still her nose hurt. She picked up the broomstick and proceeded to wail the tar out of Isoke. Isoke didn't even say the beating hurt her, but she hoped she would get it through her dim witted eel-knot brain that if you bite you get a beating.

Later that night when Bahiti, Rosalita's white frill fish, bit her, Rosalita took the broom stick from Shanti and went to work. As Orange Thing, the moon rose over the world, there were two rather chastened minipets. "We'll probably have to use the broomstick regularly," said Shanti. "At least we have a broomstick and can do something. We don't have to take being bitten," Rosalita replied. In their bowls on teh counter, the minipets blew bubbles and looked nonplussed. They had no visible bruises or injuries. Who knows what they were thinking, if they were capable of thought.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

by Eileen Kramer

I think I have been kicked out of Neopets. It took a week but it happened. I am unable to login and when I first tried to read my email (before I logged off) I got a Neopets is Down for Maintenance Page. I get the same page if I try to login. This would of course not let any one else who uses this computer log in since I never get a chance to give my userid. I also can't search the database or access news items. A few pages work. It could be a technical glitch, but it also could be a very impersonal way of getting rid of a potential troublemaker.

It doesn't feel final yet, so I am not angry or all that hurt. I put a Plan B in place last week or most of it. I'm not sure if I'll actually award myself patter points for productive action. I do have backups of everything except my last petpet who is actually Shanti's so I can keep playing with my pets. I'll have to alter their images to make sure I'm not working with anything copyrighted since I want to do that publicly.

In a big way, Neopets, has done me a favor. They have lifted that monkey off my back. I can go back to my patter and work it regularly. This in the end is better for me. I can still play many of the games at Neopets and I won't really miss working the store. I can always set up a store page with access to retailers and make pretend purchases by deducting from my patter points. The stores would set the prices and I could order the food for the pet. I couldn't have a store of my own but so what though I suppose I could have one of those too. I'm not sure how I would work that. I have pretty much everything else down.

I guess this is the beginning of something better and I ought not to be sad. I will miss the hustle and bustle and hurly burly of Neopets but I will miss little else. There is more to life than hurly, burly, hustle, and bustle. Goodbye and good riddance Neopets and if it comes back up, I've got a store to stock and two hungry pets to feed.

I went to Atlanta yesterday which feels extravagant and wonderful. It no longer feels magical since I've been doing it about once a month. Now I m stuck in Columbus for the next three Saturdays at least. Lou says he will be here by next weekend. Why don't I believe that?

It looks ready to rain outside. I have to get dressed, load my backpack and walk over to the nursing home. It is going to be a long day. I know going to the nursing home is the right thing to do though I'd rather spend this whole day being hedonistic.

I'm going to take my two newest CD's to the nursing home. They are the Fantastiks and Annie Get Your Gun. I realize I owe BMG Music a CD at fair price. I'm glad I'm a member of BMG Music since buying from a music club encourages me to build up my CD collection and to do it in a way that respects copyright, something I am determined to respect and honor for political reasons. Private ownership of intellectual property drives a large part of the net that is publicly accessible.

I hope the preacher shows up for services this morning. I am glad they have a preacher at the nursing home. Atlanta was still pretty good even if it was not magical. I bought Celestial Seasonings Herbal tea. I can not get all the flavors in Columbus. I also bought a moqua squash and roasted marinated zucchini and edam cheese. I am eating pseudosubs again. I also bought the makings for some pretty good savoy slaw. Now if I can finish eating what is in the house and leftover, I can do some cooking.

And the bathroom in this apartment is even clean. I cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed the apartment before I left for Atlanta. Sometimes I surprise myself with what I do. MARTA was single tracking in places and the trains ran slow all day. The buses ran slow too though so I did not have to carry way too many groceries back to the AvonDale train station. It feels like I've returned to a load of problems both online and off that sort of need to be addressed. I guess that is a good thing. Going to Atlanta is a break not running away.