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I took the test here: - and this is the (unsurprising) result I got:

English Genius
You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 80% Expert!
You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

I could go and look for what I missed, but it's too much like work.

Rochndil, who has to know his language, after all...
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Someone asked me a bit back exactly where I got interested in UnBirthing (UB). I guess to a certain degree it was something I was ALWAYS interested in, but in a vague and uncertain way. Back when I was building lasers, I read an erotic horror anthology that contained a story called "Psychopomp" that was, as far as I can remember, my very first exposure to overt UB. It was hyooman stuff, though, so while powerful, it still didn't quite crystalize in my addled brain.

Some years later, after I had discovered the internet and all its wonders, and also found the furry fandom, I again stumbled across a specifically UB story, but this time it was definitely furry. The tale was "Pony's Revenge," by Dream Weevil, and I was definitely in love. Without any doubt in my mind, that was the story that set me on this course, and I've no doubt it had a similar influence on other writers. Anima, do you concur?

Not long after that, I found Omega's long-running and superior Furry UB group, back when it was whatever it used to be called (OneList?) before Yahell ate it. Sadly, they later on deleted the group without warning (as they seem to so enjoy doing). Nothing has really replaced it, but I keep in touch with Omega, and hope he'll eventually resurrect it.

Amazingly enough, Cerine actually FOUND Dream Weevil somewhere on the internet, and convinced him (or her?) to contribute to the UB group (contributions which I have saved, of course!). I was priveleged to write a parallel story to one of his(?) works, which caued me a great deal of satisfaction, since it's not often you get to write BACK to an author who so strongly influenced your development.

Sadly, I've never heard again from Dream Weevil since the group was destroyed, but I hope he's doing well, wherever life has taken him. Every once in a while I go back to "Pony's Revenge," and it's still quite a tale.

You can find it here, if you'd like to read for yourself:

Rochndil, who missed getting something done in 2006, but 2007 is a new year...
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So, it's a LITTLE bizarre, but amusing. Enjoy!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, rochndil sent to me...
Twelve mammaries gaming
Eleven unicorns silversmithing
Ten computers unbirthing
Nine animals building
Eight goats a-baking
Seven udders a-writing
Six electronics a-blacksmithing
Five ho-o-o-orses
Four video games
Three computer games
Two survival skills
...and an art in a fantasy.
Get your own Twelve Days:

Rochndil, who never knew they could do that...
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my xmas stocking )
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I'm not sure if this "quiz" is totally full of shit or not. I can't say I agree with the results much. Anyways, here it is:

Rochndil, who isn't impressed...
rochndil: (Default)
...or I wouldn't bother posting it, since the result was completely predictable.

You Are Incredibly Logical

Move over Spock - you're the new master of logic
You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.
A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!

Nobody who knows me should be surprised...
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On the way back from VA I listened to Jackson Browne's excellent CD, "Late for the Sky." This is, IMHO, one of his finest works, and also one of the greatest albums ever penned. I was especially struck by the profound and prophetic nature of "Late for the Sky," lyrics reproduced below. Thanks, Jackson, sometimes I need a kick in the arse to remember what it's all for.

Lyrics by Jackson Browne, who is definitely a poet:

Some of them were dreamers
And some of them were fools
Who were making plans and thinking of the future
With the energy of the innocent
They were gathering the tools
They would need to make their journey back to nature
While the sand slipped through the opening
And their hands reached for the golden ring
With their hearts they turned to each other's heart for refuge
In the troubled years that came before the deluge

Some of them knew pleasure
And some of them knew pain
And for some of them it was only the moment that mattered
And on the brave and crazy wings of youth
They went flying around in the rain
And their feathers, once so fine, grew torn and tattered
And in the end they traded their tired wings
For the resignation that living brings
And exchanged love's bright and fragile glow
For the glitter and the rouge
And in a moment they were swept before the deluge

Now let the music keep our spirits high
And let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal its secrets by and by
By and by--
When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky

Some of them were angry
At the way the earth was abused
By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power
And they struggled to protect her from them
Only to be confused
By the magnitude of the fury in the final hour
And when the sand was gone and the time arrived
In the naked dawn only a few survived
And in attempts to understand a thing so simple and so huge
Believed that they were meant to live after the deluge

Now let the music keep our spirits high
And let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal its secrets by and by
By and by--
When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky

Rochndil, who has little more to say...

Santa Meme!

Nov. 9th, 2006 02:58 pm
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Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

This year I've been busy!

In January I donated bone marrow to [ profile] fenderlicious in a life-saving procedure (300 points). Last Friday [ profile] dwivian and I donated clothes to the needy (11 points). In March I caught a purse-snatcher who stole [ profile] rancid39's purse (30 points). In November I put money in [ profile] sushimare's expired parking meter (14 points). Last Sunday I helped [ profile] zefel hide a body (-173 points).

Overall, I've been nice (182 points). For Christmas I deserve a pony!


Write your letter to Santa! Enter your LJ username:
rochndil: (Default)
For the record, I WAS hatched in Philadelphia.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Northeast
The Midland
The South
The Inland North
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Rochndil, still a bit spooked...
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I probably should start at the beginning for this one.

Back in the distant past (late 70s), my father learned of this fascinating new type of game, where you created an imaginary character and through its eyes explored an imaginary world. He heard of this because Gary Snyder's (yes, the poet) kids were playing it. The game was the original Dungeons and Dragons. Not long after, he bought the boxed set for my brother James and me to play. Now, this is WELL before AD&D even existed, and at the time polyhedral dice weren't being manufactured (yet). The game came equipped with punch-out chits to be drawn from a bag. And so we played the game, and loved it. I still have that original rulebook and the module, now horribly marked up with my atrocious handwriting, in PEN of course.

Time passed, dice became available (sadly, I burned that original set of hideously ugly dice when I got my first set of GEM dice, which I have still), and AD&D came along. We bought those volumes, and played on, and on, and on...for many years. In the fullness of time, 2ed came out, and left such a bad taste in my mouth that I lost interest in the system, but hurray, just in time, a rescue came along!

James had met some kids at his new high school, and they played an entirely different game system, and it was supposed to be great! So I joined in, even though the games (at that time) cost money to play (the GM was good enough to be a professional, and used the moderate income to help pay off some bad debts). The game was Rolemaster, first edition, and I was hooked.

Off and on, all through my college years I played with that group. Even after I graduated, and while I was in grad school, I still attended bi-weekly sessions, though not always regularly. Overall, I probably played with that group for the better part of a decade, from about '87 to '95. Alas, all good things come to an end, and eventually we had a falling-out and I went along on my way. Life had become complicated for me, and the time to game wasn't really available anymore either, so perhaps the time was right for a break.

Most of a decade passed again, and things changed, changed some more, and eventually I came full-circle and decided it was time to re-connect with my roots. While I'd been away from the RPG scene, lots had changed. TSR was bought by Wizards of the Coast (evilevil), makers of Magic the Gathering (EvilEvilEvil!), and Iron Crown Enterprises (the makers of Rolemaster) had gone into bankruptcy and come out the other side. AD&D created the D20 license scheme to try to further leverage it's stranglehold on the P&P game market (with considerable success), and, unsurprisingly, fewer and fewer kids took up the RPG torch, preferring instead to follow the easier path of CRPGs and MMORPGs, where instant gratification was the way of the world.

So I step back into the hobby, after many years away, and the landscape has definitely changed. Most of the gaming stores I had known are now nothing more than a fading memory. My beloved game system has become even more marginalized than it ever was, because the complexity and detail that I love, what makes it magic for me, offends the eye and mind of the impatient youth of today, whose short attention span is legendary.

Only time will tell the full story, but the way I see it, if we, who love these games, don't actively recruit some young blood into the fold, all the wonder and joy they brought into our live shall die with us. And I, for one, am not going to take that lying down. Torches only cost a few copper, it's not hardship to pass one on. Rolemaster lives, in me.

Rochndil, strapping on sword and shield, and carrying a 10' pole...

Gay Rights!

Oct. 5th, 2006 08:52 am
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Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?" - Ernest Gaines

We would like to know who really believes in gay rights on LiveJournal. There is no bribe of a miracle or anything like that. If you truly believe in gay rights, then repost this and title the post as "Gay Rights". If you don't believe in gay rights, then just ignore this. Thanks

************ (NOTE: This is a meme. The part up THERE^ is what's to be copied. The part down THERE\/ is my personal commentary, and is usually not copied.)

Personally? I think gay folks are a bit cracked. Lesbians I can understand, but I just CANNOT wrap my brain around the idea of males being sexually attractive. BUT, I would and do everything in my power to make certain that they have, and retain, ALL of the rights of any other citizen. Freedom is for everyone! If two people, male, female, or both, want to join their lives and households together, why should anybody else be able to say anything about it? What's BAD about folks coming together and building a little piece of stability, community, and sanity in this mad world?

Let me tell you, I've seen PLENTY of rotten "breeder" couples out there, that should NEVER have been allowed to spread their sickness to a new and impressionable generation. Is anybody doing anything about them? Nope. Instead they waste MY tax dollars and MY legislative time persecuting folks that are trying to CONTRIBUTE something to this country instead. Now, in my mind, THAT is a crime that should be prosecuted to the fullest possible extent of the law.

There should be no question that the essential rights of gays and lesbians are the same in every way as the rights of everyone else. Any movement to the contrary is, frankly, un-American. Lets move on and focus on something that URGENTLY needs our attention as a nation, like, maybe the unfolding disaster in the middle east?

Rochndil, who will take any unpopular position as long as it's right...
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Not bad, really. There are a few areas I take issue with, but overall it's a pretty good take.

My Personality
Openness To Experience
Test Yourself Compare Yourself View Full Report

Bebo, Ugg Boots and MySpace Codes by Pulseware Survey Software


Aug. 15th, 2006 02:14 pm
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It's almost that time again, DC is just around the bend. Anybody out there coming? Since we're still stuck in the house for now, we've actually got crash space for anyone who can stand to commute to the con with a couple of old fogies. Let us know!

For anyone who does NOT know, DragonCon is one of the bigger fan-cons in the business, and happens September 1-4 here in Atlanta. Their page is at, and has LOTS of info on it.

We've already got our badges reserved, so we'll be doing all four days, albeit on a somewhat odd schedule since we'll have to go home at night and in the middle of each day to walk the dogs, but it does mean getting to sleep in our own bed, which is a GOOD THING.

We're happy to meet up with anyone who's interested at the con, just Email me at and I'll give you our cell phone number (I ain't gonna post it here!). Our experience has been that cell phones are the best way to co-ordinate a meeting among 20,000 other fans.

We've been attending DC together for 10 years, and have always had a good time. Hopefully we'll be able to see some of you there too!

Rochndil, who will be attending with Opal, Dora, Llama, Poe, Bird, and Malcolm. -:)
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For those that haven't known me for a long time, that name may not mean a lot. Fred Martin (middle name omitted for security reasons) was my father. He and I had a pretty rocky relationship, for several reasons, but I still miss the old SOB.

Fred was one of the most brilliant people I've ever known, and possibly ever will. I mean that in all sincerity, and I don't throw that term about lightly. I don't say that because he was my dad. I was quite old enough to tell the difference when he went along his way. There were times, when I was younger, that I decried his "old" ways and how much he didn't know. It was only as I, too, grew older that I truly came to appreciate the breadth of his knowledge, experience, and capability.

For example, one time we were playing Trivial Pursuit, the original (hard) Genus set. Over the course of a couple of games (and maybe 4 hours), not only did he NEVER miss a single question, but he frequently answered OTHER people's questions correctly. Now, of course, there is a great difference between knowledge and smarts, but he had that too. Had, of course, being the operative word.

Fred was, at one time, a student at the University of Virginia, which is a pretty damned good school. He intended to complete his course there, and go on to study law. And I have no doubt that he would have been a hell of a lawyer, though that's not necessarily a good thing.

But there was a problem at home, and he had to leave school suddenly to return there and help support the family, and help put his younger brother through school. And this, I feel, ultimately broke him.

Don't misunderstand, he had an AMAZING career. He worked in the racing industry, in advertising, and finally as an editor for one of the more forward-looking publishing houses, New Directions. He worked, daily, with literary talents like Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsburg, and many others. He became a member of the Player's Club, home-away-from-home to many actors, producers, and others in the theatric realm. He worked himself to the top of his game, and, ultimately, he threw it all away.

Fred was an alcoholic, from a solid family of the same. And he was bitter. Gods, was he bitter! I don't think a day passed when he didn't resent how his "big chance" had been stolen from him by the fates. I don't know that he ever truly appreciated just how much he HAD, instead of how much he did not.

His story saddens me greatly, but it's worth telling. The pain and resentment ate away at his soul like a worm, and when he sought solace at the bottom of a bottle, everything fell apart. First he destroyed his marriage, then his career (he was ultimately fired from the position he created), and then finally the damage he'd done to his body caught up to him, and he died at only 52.

He knew he was going, and didn't even say goodbye. I know he knew, I was there, but he was just too damned stubborn to admit it. But that one look he gave me as he was vomiting black bile (blood) said more than any words could. If I'd only realized it at the time. And let me tell you, moving an unconscious body is a LOT harder than it looks on TV.

Now, so many years later, there are a world of questions I'd ask, if I could. Not just about personal things, but about how to do a proper brake job, or how the HELL he cut those compound miter cuts when he did some flooring work, or what some of his surviving notes, sketches, and ideas meant. But I'll never know. And neither will anyone else. No more "tiny stories."

What sucks is that the loss isn't just for me, but for all the others whose lives were touched by him, and COULD HAVE been.

May you have found peace at last, dad. Until we meet again. [toasts]

Rochndil, who learned many lessons from Fred, especially after the light in his eyes flickered out...
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...and most terrible. Yet, sometimes, it's all we have.

Most probably know that I'm in the midst of a massive reorganization of my life right now. This takes a heavy toll on both myself and my lovely wife. I can only hope that, someday soon, there will be a chance to take a breath and look onward to the reason for all this effort.

Most days I drudge through my work, like most folks, one hoof in front of the other. It's all I can do just to make it. But every once in a while, there's just the tiniest glimpse of a WHY.

Sometimes it comes in a snatch of song, or a turn of phrase, or an image seen out of the corner of my eye. For that one tiny moment, the lightning flashes down my spine, and I say "YES! That's why!" Unfortunately, it rarely lasts long.

I've asked the eternal sky, the slumbering earth, the cool waters, the ephemeral fire, why I'm here, what the hell I'm supposed to do. Unfortunately, there's never a satisfactory answer. And I STILL haven't found the damned manual.

But the way I look at it, if I'm not HERE, there's always the chance I'll miss that one moment, when I'm the right 'corn in the right place. So I struggle on, enduring the mundanity of life, and treasuring those few moments when the light shines in from beyond.

Hope can be a terrible burden; waiting, holding on for that time to come, with all the times between weighing you down like lead. Believe me, I know. We've just got to hope it'll all be worth it when we make it.

Jackson Browne is, IMO, an amazing poet. He said in one of his songs, "When the light that's lost within us reaches the sky." We all have our little spark of light, and everyone's color is a bit different. It can be damned hard to keep that spark burning. There's not much of anything left in this world that doesn't do everything it can to smother us in darkness. But if that spark goes out, no matter that our bodies may go on about their duties, WE are truly dead. You know, I'm sure, those that have died. You can see it in their eyes.

No matter how hard it gets, don't give up. Keep dreaming, keep believing. And every once in a while, there will come that moment when you remember why you bother to care. Because even a small light can conquer the darkness. And don't think it doesn't know that.

Hope to see you there, when we all finally arrive. Until then, I'll keep surviving, until I have the chance to live again.

Rochndil, tired and with a splitting headache, struggling onward.
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This is another post copied from WISWRP.

Yup, we're in trouble. As a nation, and as individuals.

But, as much as he might LIKE to think he's the boss of everything, Georgie isn't totally responsible. He's just the latest and greatest idiot (and I mean that literally) in a long line of deluded, short-sighted leaders. Now don't get me wrong, I liked Bill, I STILL like him, and I'd vote for him again. Heck, in retrospect I even like GWB senior compared to his moronic son.

But as powerful as the Prez is, he's still not the only player in this world, and the game's getting, as the saying goes, "interesting."

Like anything else BIG, the nation doesn't change course quickly. The entire government system, in fact, was DESIGNED to prevent rapid change. There is no way that all the negative things we're currently experiencing could possibly be accomplished in the reign of one El Presidente, no matter how megalomaniacal he might be. Things have gotten this way very slowly, and, if time allowed, would also change again equally slowly. But, as technology and long-distance communications have evolved rapidly, so has the pace of change hastened to levels unimaginable only a generation ago. It's still slow, but up a notch maybe from tectonically slow to glacially slow. -:)

There are many "bad" things happening now, but there have always been bad things happening. What has changed is WHAT those things are, and how we hear about them. The media, unfortunately, is very biased toward the negative story (I used to work for a major paper, I speak from experience), so you hear loudly and often about what's bad in the world. What I find more interesting is what is NOT said, and what is not discussed, and, sadly, how little the loudest voices often really know about the world that is, and the world that was.

One of the greatest ills plaguing our society today is simply stated, but complex in its rammifications. "Lack of consequences."

Imagine the world of a century ago, or two even. Travel was difficult, epensive, and very time-consuming for most folks. Long-distance communication was also rather slow and not always available. People, for the most part, lived, worked, and interacted in relatively small and close-knit communities. Manners were vital, as was civilized behavior, because any violation of these codes of behavior would bring significant, inescapable, and long-term consequences. Yes, it's kinda creepy if all your neighbors know how your family has voted for 6 generations, but it's also good if they know when you're hurt and your family needs help. And heaven help you if you offend someone who can talk...word gets around fast, and you'll never hear the end of it - and the consequences can be far more than whispers. Lack of service and outright shunning come quickly to mind.

Fast-forward to the present. People live, are encouraged, or even FORCED to live incredibly isolated lives. Wake up in sterile box, eat sterile factory food, get in wheeled isolation box, travel from A to B without actually interacting with anything (or anyone) along the way, perform meaningless job for equally meaningless currency, return to sterile box, sleep, repeat.

Our current way of life severs all the connections to the REAL world, and because nothing we do is real, neither are there any real consequences for our actions. Imagine, for example, that you go to a restaurant and make a huge scene, insult the owner, etc. As long as you don't do any actual damage or break any laws, the ONLY consequence you will suffer is that you probably can't go back there ever again. But there are 50, 100, more other restaurants in the same range from your box, so what's the problem? You could do the same thing at a different place a night for a year, and hardly break a sweat. How you act, effectively, has ceased to matter.

And because you CAN, some small portion of the "you" out there, do. School-age children, not far from me, ran a car stereo theft ring. Not becuse they needed the money, but just because they could. And as juveniles, they probably suffered little more than a slap on the wrist and a fine paid by their well-heeled parents. Other people threw rocks at the windows of new cars on delivery trains, just to be destructive, until the car companies were forced to screen the rail cars. Why? Because they could. I can understand, to a certain degree, bad behavior with GAIN involved. But pointless, GAIN-less destruction boggles my mind.

Anonymity is a powerful tool in the hands of someone with nothing to lose. Hence, the dark side of the internet *COUGH*P.O.E.*COUGH*.

Think about most common crimes, like theft. So, you get caught? Big deal, you get thrown into a prison (for a short while) where, it's very likely, you live better than you ever did on the street, and when you get out, you can do the same thing again. Consequences? Hardly.

You're a CEO, and you embezzle your heart away until your company is ruined, and thousands of employee's lives are shattered. But what happens to you? Oh, you pay your fine (usually a fraction of what you stole), and, by the way, you still get to keep your contracted salary and severance package. That was fun, let's do it again!

The list goes on. The most powerful force for the maintenance of civilized behavior, community, has effectively ceased to exist. So we're all left to our own devices, and unless we happen to have particularly strong moral compasses, as a few still do, more often than not we become just another part of the problem, and not part of the solution.

Now some will say that it's all because of a lack of religion in the country. Personally, I think it's exactly the opposite. IMO, the fundamentalist movement is at least as destructive to this country as any other negative force. Now, I personally speak from a pagan perspective, but I find one key element of the christian creed (all 64k flavors) to contribute to bad behavior.

Pagans, generally, believe in the law of Karma. What you put out into the world, is what you get back. If you're a bastard (or a bitch), then that's exactly how life will treat you. And it happens NOW. On the christian side of the coin, however, the consequences usually happen AFTER you die. Now, take a basic tenet of human nature into account, and you can see the problem here. Most people, if they give it much thought at all, don't ever think of death as something that will happen to THEM. So, these divine consequences based on the lives they live, also, are something so distant, so ephemeral, that they can, while living, be safely ignored. And, in the worst case (in some sects), all you have to do is recant everything on your deathbead and you'll go to heaven anyways. What a great system to, yet again, remove any immediaate consequences from bad behavior.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not claiming that all pagans are good people, or that all christians are bad. I've known slimy, underhanded pagans and incredibly honest, decent, godly christians. It's the system that concerns me, not the individual people.

Now, there are some hopeful people that believe that, with ongoing advances in technology and communication, we as a people are on the verge of an entirely new kind of society. I applaud their optimism. But, as a professional pessimist, I just can't see that as anything more than a pretty fantasy.

I think two key factors, too, are going to derail that train before it even leaves the station.

1) Petroleum reserves are finite, and may well be reduced sufficiently in the next handful of years to cause sudden and widespread chaos and starvation throughout the "civilized" world. Wars are ALREADY being fought over oilfields, and that's just the start.

2) Global warming is an accelerating, but very hard to SEE, process, and will significantly contribute to 1 above. And that's a damned big top to stop spinning.

So, in large part, the game as it stands my well cease to matter much in the next few years, when the Gods sweep the board clear and appoint some new players.

Me? I'm leaving my place at the table of false abundance and heading for the hills. Literally. Whether I make it or not, I intend to go down swinging, not staring vacantly at a TV as the food riots hammer at the door of my soulless box. I encourage you all to think for a moment, what would YOU do for your family if the grocery store suddenly had no more food? It's a sobering thought, and one far too few in this world consider.

As always, plan for the worst, and hope for the best.

Rochndil, who is a pagan, anarchistic, gun-owning VOTER, for all the good it does...-:)
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As a pretty open-minded pagan, I've given this some thought. Bear with me as I digress into philosophy a little.

What IS real? I won't dice that up too finely, since far wiser heads than I have been debating that subject for centuries past knowing. Here is my take, which I know is rather simplistic. Everything.

Taken that the universe is infinite (a leap of faith), it is statistically certain that a single instance of something existing is far more likely that an infinite number of non-existances. So, everything exists. And I believe in everything.

Taken a step further, everyone lives in their own pocket reality. Literally, each person's universe, bounded as it is by their own perceptions and faith, is a different place, and only shares "objective" space by coincidence.

So, then, where do folks go when they die? Wherever they believe they will, of course.

So the Wiccans will go to the Summerland, the Muslims to sit with at Allah's right hand, and the Christians to the pearly gates. But here's where I feel sad for some folks.

I'm currently living in the deep south, and down he-yah, they preach about FIRE AND BRIMSTONE! That's all they think about, hell and damnation. So, does that mean that all the southern Christians are going to their hell? They certainly seem to believe in it a LOT more than their heaven.

If I were one of them, I cultivate a little stronget faith in heaven, and take my focus off the other place...besides, we ALREADY live in hell here. That's why it's so hot!

It's like they tell you in soccer training...look where you want the ball to GO, not at the goalie...or you'll kick it straight to him! Perhaps more time spent instilling virtues in one's self would be better than bemoaning the burden of sin in others. But that's just a thought.

Rochndil, who is glad his spiritual system is a little less rigid than some...
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This is something I originally posted to a thread on What If She Was Really Pregnant (, a site I'm fond of for fairly obvious reasons. I thought it was good enough to be copied and preserved here.

One of my rants:

There's a concept I've given some thought to, "Specialness."

Everyone, everywhere, needs to feel that there is something special about themselves. This is, really, a good thing, since people need to have a healthy ego. The problem comes when they go about being "special" in the wrong way.

Enter "Betterness." In this case, which is FAR too frequent, the way that people feel good about themselves is to feel that they are "better" than someone else. The terms of this "betterness" can be ethnic, financial, religious, athletic, etc, etc. The specifics are less important than the effect. People feel good about themselves by making someone else "bad."

What's amazing to me is how often the differences between the "good" group and the "bad" group are practically microscopic, especially to a disinterested observer. For example, to a non-christian many of the "great schisms" of the faith are over pretty minor theological issues. And yet, the faithful in all these splinter groups dislike, shun, or in some cases even HATE members of other, yet only slightly different, splinter groups.

But if they would all stop and consider their similarities instead of focusing on their differences, they'd lose part of their specialness. And paradoxically, it seems that the smaller the differences, sometines, the more passionately they are maintained by folks on each side of the fence.

It's a trap that's heavily reinforced by our society and media, since the competitiveness that comes from "betterness" is very financially lucrative if the sellers can trigger it at will. Why else would people feel that the size of their projection TV equates to how good (or bad) a person they are?

Here's another example, which I find particularly sad. The Jews and the Arabs (both great peoples), from an outsider perspective, are practically the same. Ancestrally, they came from the same roots. Their religions, viewed from a distance, are substantially the same. Put two in a room in the same clothes, and most westerners couldn't tell the difference between them. Yet, these two peoples have been trying to exterminate each other for millennia. Why? Because each, to be special, has to be better than the other.

On a national perspective, the same concept applies. Who's BETTER, the Elephants or the Donkeys? Depends entirely on who you ask. Truth? The answer is neither. Both parties are in bed with financial interests, corrupt, and sleazy. Their difference in political activity do not make either more morally sound or "better" than the other. Yet, proponents of each will go to almost any length to defend their chosen one, preserving their specialness-by-association.

Take a big step back and breathe. Be special for who you ARE, not who you are "better" than. Being old gives you perspective. I've long since had to accept that no matter how smart, knowledgeable, or capable I become, there's always someone out there that'll be better. I'll never be richer, I'll never be purer, and I'll never be morally superior. All I can be is me, and make the best of it.

Giving someone else a hand up instead of a putdown is the best way to be special.

Rochndil, who does what he can, with what he's got. -:)
rochndil: (Default)
So, now you know how to make

How to make a rochndil

3 parts friendliness

1 part brilliance

1 part madness
Stir together in a glass tumbler with a salted rim. Add a little cocktail umbrella and a dash of fitness


Personality cocktail

Rochndil, who added in the descriptor for the third part, since he broke the machine. -:)
rochndil: (Default)
I actually got to read a fiction book the other day, and it's quite a refreshing experience. Usually I'm scrambling to keep up with my magazine subscriptions, or trying to bull through the MANY technical books I'm going to need shortly.

I'd heard about this book from, I THINK, Backwoods Home Magazine. I put it on THE LIST* (which, amazingly, is actually shrinking these days.) It's a relatively old text, written in the 50s, but still has a lot to say. I found it a fascinating read, and have a few thoughts about it that are relevant today.

Pat Frank, with one notable exception (EMP), did a pretty good job describing what might have happened during a major nuclear bombardment of the US. Of course, the situation would be significantly different today than back then, not the least because of major changes military capability on both sides of the pond. Quite honestly, a bi-lateral war, as described in the book, is pretty unlikely today. The international power situation is no longer a see-saw balancing act between Russia and the US, and probably never will be again.

The book is set in Florida, in a small, but not exactly rural, town on a river. This particular setting gave the characters some significant situational advantages over, say, some poor schmuck in the central US, but generally he addressed things well, as they probably WOULD have happened. I don't know much about the author's background, but he apparently has some kind of military connection, which would explain where some of his source material came from.

From a literary standpoint, the book was really not bad. The most glaring thing thing that I noticed was that there were several clear story hooks that were never developed, although there may be editions other than mine. It's a compelling read, and the "good guy" characters are all interestig and likeable.

Some things that Frank really did well were describe the immediate and long-term effects of massive supply disruption. The panic buy, and the repeated descriptions of storekeepers with nothing left but worthless money were priceless. He did a good job with the effects of dietary changes on the survivors, and even touched on some elements of home industry.

There ARE racist elements in the story, and considering when it was written that was no great surprise, but I think that the author was looking forward from his own time, and spent a good deal of effort making the black characters as intelligent, industrious, and noble as their white counterparts. I will admit to never having heard the term "dinge" before, but I'm not surprised by it.

What really strikes me are the similarities and differences of their society then, and ours now. Honestly, they were much better off than the average small town/suburb would be today when the bombs fell. As technologically/scientifically ignorant as some of the people were then, they often had a far greater share of useful life skills, and were not NEARLY so far removed from their sustainable roots as folks are today. One area, however, where we could be much better off today than then, is in electrical power. Nowadays it's not difficult OR expensive to have a minimal array of solar-powered devices (a radio, for example), or even a small self-contained solar power system. Back then, when the lines went down, that was pretty much it. Other than vehicles (which run out of fuel fast), there really wasn't any other alternative. But personally I'd rather do without electricity (then) than food (now).

There are a few things I would have handled differently, in part becasue I wouldn't just be telling a story, but also am compelled to try to TEACH folks. Although it would have made for a longer text, I would have spent more time telling HOW the survivors did this, that, or the other. Brief treatment was given to livestock husbandry, wild food gathering, and many other important (in a survival situation) topics. I would also have altered the ending very slightly, just to add a little coda and tie up a few odds and ends.

But overall I think the book, and others like it, are a worthwhile investment of time to help prepare for the psychological/social aspects of a cataclysm such as we will all be facing soon. It takes more than physical preparation to survive in a crisis, and often ones fate can be determined in the first few minutes. It behooves all of us to prepare our minds, as well as our homes, for what will come.

Rochndil, who hopes to be ready before the wheels stop turning...

*THE LIST is a 3x5 card printed, front and back, in 5 point type, with all the books and CDs we're currently looking for. Some of the books on the list have been hunted for for many years, while others are added as occasion warrants. The white space is actually growing, though!
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