June 26th, 2005

Tarot - 7 of rods

Personal Updates

Health and mood: Doing mostly fine. Still don't have enough to do. Went down to alienne's last night, ended up helping her catalog about three and a half bookcases with the assistance of some pretty cool piece of shareware, she should tell you about it. About every two weeks I go over to phierma and cos_x's to mow their back lawn, because he doesn't have time and she shouldn't be stressing her arms that much. When I do things like this, everybody thinks that it's as a favor to them; bullcrap. It's a huge favor to me, because I just plain don't have enough to do. My "happy pills" (Welbutrin SR) are still doing the job, but I can tell from my occasional interactions with bureaucracy that I still am too shaky, traumatized, and generally weird to get through a job interview. Some social worker or something from the Missouri Department of Mental Health is coming over on the 6th to start working out a treatment and services plan; I'm not especially optimistic about that part, but I'm game. It's not like I have anything better to do.

I gave myself a lovely contusion while mowing their lawn the other day, and the time before before that. They have a playhouse in their back yard with one corner where the land rises too close to the corner of the roof. Apparently I only remember it every other time. The first time I just ended up with a goose egg on my forehead. The one I just got over, I actually hit the corner dead on, and ended up with a lovely bleeding scalp wound that got all yellow and infected. I knew from long experience it was no big deal; I think of it as a learning experience. Eventually I'll learn to duck there, if I keep giving myself contusions.

Financial: The cable modem bill is due and worrisome, but I may have enough cash on hand to cover it, or at least to buy more time, I think. The electric bill isn't especially overdue yet because I had a large credit a couple months ago from a past deposit that was released. Gas is a problem, but Monday cos_x is taking me to a charity she found that she thinks may be able to work something out with Laclede for me; otherwise I'm going to have some real problems by the 5th. Groceries are covered; between the food pantry and food stamps, I actually have more food money coming in than I know what to do with. Rent is ... interesting. I spoke to the landlord Friday and he hasn't set an exact deadline for making major payments again, but the numbers he hinted at suggest that I probably have another 2 months. Which should be just enough, because ...

Social Security: I got a call back from the local SSA office about a week ago. I have my own assigned case worker now. She called because the SSA web page screwed up my application, which was apparently not an unfamiliar problem to her, so she needed some specific information that was missing. Some of it was questions the web-based application didn't ask me, some of it was answers that it didn't pass on. But in the process of asking the questions, she let something interesting slip. She said she was 100% sure that the web page must have screwed up again this time, because there was no SSI application, and here's roughly what she said next: "Whether or not you're qualified for SSDI, you're so obviously a good candidate for SSI that I knew you must have meant to apply." Obviously she's in no position to make promises nor am I in any position to ask them, but I take that as a good sign that within at most another couple of months, I'll almost certainly have SSI coming in. That should make up for the scheduled loss of food stamps in September, and catch me up on my rent pretty quick, and still leave me with enough to live on until (touch wood) my SSDI gets rejected, appealed, and approved.

I'm almost daring to hope. Ordinarily, I stick to the 13th Beatitude: "Blessed are they who expect the worst, for they can be pleasantly surprised." But over the last week it has slowly sunk in that this just barely might actually work according to plan. If the SSI then SSDI actually does come through, I might actually be able to live like a real person again. I can barely imagine it. It's been so long, I really have no idea what my life will be like with safe, predictable, steady income.

Random thought, not for the first time: Not for the first time, I'm reminded of why I like real-time strategy games like Starcraft: that's my life.

Take, for example, one of the more difficult Starcraft levels, act one scene 10. You absolutely must escape the solar system you're in, with your 2nd in command, one battlecruiser (that will become your flagship in act three), and at least some technical crew still alive. The catch is that there's an orbital platform with a Big Damned Gun poised to destroy your entire fleet if you make a run for it. You can sneak a small tech crew and a few weak ground forces onto an unused section of that platform. To win, you must leech resources from the platform as fast as you can, while keeping your technical crew alive, because there are two whole large armies out there that don't know you're here yet. Minutes after you start, scouts from the nearer of the two will find you and start sending attack waves. Every ounce of raw material and manpower you spend holding off those attacks is lost to you, and cuts into what you'll have available to attack. If you cut things just close enough, you have just barely enough time and resources to destroy that first army and occupy their part of the platform ... by which time they will have used up nearly all the resources from there. In the meantime, you'll have come under recurring nuclear attack from the other army, if you don't have units in place able to detect and destroy their spotters in time, every time. You have just barely enough time and resources, to obtain just barely enough time and resources, to build a fleet that (the first time you win, until you do it often enough to get good at it) will just barely have a few battered, surviving battle cruisers after clearing the platform, just just just barely enough force to destroy the ion cannon and evacuate. Barely. But the odds are so far against you that hardly anybody makes it on the first try.

My life has been a series of assaults aimed at robbing me of what I need to survive. Each time, I have just barely enough time and resources to build up the reserves and "troops" I'll need to survive the next assault. But the timing is so tricky, and the resources so barely close to what I'll need, that I never know for even a minute if I'm going to win this round, or crash and have to start over with nothing -- just like a real-time strategy game. Only with fewer starships and aliens and nuclear explosions.

Important: New Phone Number: I got a donated left-over GSM phone from minikin, a hand-me-down from her older son. It's an Ericsson T226, an unspeakably tiny little thing. At some point I'm almost certainly going to want to get a full-sized external headset for it, because as it is it's so tiny I can't imagine talking on it for more than a couple of minutes at a time. But then, hey, that's all the longer I can stand to talk on a full-sized phone before I start hating it. alienne got me set up on her Cingular plan, so that's set. The new phone number is 314-402-9244. Throw away the old number; by the end of the week it's going to be turned off and stuffed into a drawer somewhere to die. (And barely in time, the keypad is wearing out.)

You know how Cingular advertises "more bars in more places"? Doesn't apply, so far as I can tell: the reception here, and for that matter at her place, is worse than I'm used to. Of course, that may have less to do with Cingular than with the fact that the phone has about 1/3 the antenna of my old one. So if you do talk to me, don't be surprised if it cuts out every couple of minutes. And keep weekday daytime phone calls to a bare minimum; I'm sharing minutes with 2 other people, and there aren't a whole ton of them.
Meme Sheep

What in the heck does "six favorite songs" even mean?

At least two people have "tagged" me with the "name your six favorite songs" meme. And I like to think that I'm willing to answer any question. But I've been putting this one off for days, because I don't even understand what the question means. I'm also pretty sure that it doesn't actually mean anything in terms of how I relate to music. Imagine a hierarchy of genre to artist to album to song. In general, I relate to music at the genre level only. I almost never think to myself, "I'm in the mood to hear (name of song)." Only once in a very, very rare while do I even think in terms of, "I'm in the mood to listen to some music by (name of artist)." By and large, the way I prefer to relate to music is to decide what genre I'm in the mood for. Then I go looking for a radio station (if one is at all available), online or over the air, dedicated to that genre and put it on, and listen to whatever comes along. I seldom pay enough attention to even notice where one song ends and the next begins.

So I guess the only way I can answer this in any meaningful way is to pick six genres of music that I listen to the most often, pick one artist that I've actually noticed in that genre, and then flip through the music directory on my computer or a couple of web pages to see if I can even pick out an individual song by that artist as a particularly good or noteworthy or typical example. So for the love of god and all that's holy, do not think of this as "six specific songs that Brad likes more than all others." Even more so, I abjure and cast forth any suggestion that I could stand to hear these six songs over and over again! The only meaningful answer I can give, if any, is that these are the six best examples I can come up with of what kind of stuff I listen to - genre, then artist(s), song, and album.
  1. Tiki & other Exotica, for example: Eric & Ryan Kilkenny, "Bongo Avenger," Two Zombies Later: Weird and Unusual Music from the Exotica Mailing List
  2. Dance, especially Deep House, for example: Club 69, "Riding into Battle with Her High Heels On," Adults Only
  3. Lounge Music & Cocktail Jazz, for example: Quincy Jones Orchestra, "Soul Bossa Nova," Austin Powers: Original Soundtrack
  4. Comedy, parody, and novelty songs, for example: H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, "Oh Cthulhu," A Very Scary Solstice
  5. Electronica, Ambient, Space Music, for example: Robert Rich & Steve Roach, "The Grotto of Lost Time," Strata
  6. Darkwave, for example Xorcist, "Governet," Soul Reflection
And at that, I feel like I'm leaving a ton of stuff out.

P.S. I'm not going to tag anyone else, because I'm running out of people I know who haven't been tagged. At six people per, this pyramid scheme is about exhausted.