Anticadent

I just realized I never posted my album on my own blog, so here, have some music! You can throw money at me for it if you so choose.

Storlek, 23 Oct 2014 at 1:04pm No comments

barcode #2

I materialized, disoriented, in mere bra and panties, chemical residue from the time transfer coating my skin. Where was I? When was I? North? South? Nothing quite had a direction here. I paused for a moment to let my eyes adjust to the hard light, feeling with my toes to make sure I was at least on stable ground.

As my sense of vision returned, I pieced together what I was hearing and smelling, taking in visual clues as they emerged. Ahh, it's that switching yard by the digital lumber mill. No imminent danger, but decidedly not safe.

Still hazy from the transfer, I headed hurriedly downslope, toward the tracks, making my way over guardrails and along the forbidden space alongside the track, attentive for the first sign of an oncoming car, ready to leap aside at a moment's notice and avoid certain death.

It was curiously quiet, though, with no cars passing along in any direction for quite some time. It must be night, I reasoned. It's impossible to tell around here; millions of archaic metal halide lamps stood tall like trees, planted uniformly, diligently and indiscriminately illuminating their surroundings, no matter what the hour.

I trod along until finally approaching the barrier. The hefty, looming doors were designed to yield only to cars, nigh impossible to move by hand. Sane people dared not even bother, and hopping a car was easier anyway. Alas, I had no chip yet, so that option was out. I was a foreign substance, a glitch in the system. People like me must forge our own routes in this synthetic rail desert, because the ones in place do not cater to us.

I hid in the shadows and waited patiently for a car to break through, so I could sneak through behind it. Since it might be a while, I thought I'd take a moment to catch my breath and stretch my sore muscles. I checked my watch – not that it mattered, but out of curiosity and impatience. 7th of August, 23:39. I scratched at a light itch and ran my finger along my leg. Ugh, I need to rinse myself off ... and shave.

Finally, a car approached, zipping along the track, frictionless, whistling through the air. This was a fast one; I'd have less time than usual. I moved toward the barrier, close enough to the track that I could feel the energy of the approaching car, and braced myself to jump. When the car blasted through, I snuck behind it, touched down on the track, and vaulted across the threshold in one smooth motion while the doors swung back behind me. Success. Just a little ways more; I'll be there soon.

I kept trudging along. The mill was full of danger, but at the very least, it was scenic. Everything was so much more open around here, and markedly less synthetic, even with unleveled hills. The lighting still peppered the landscape, illuminating the whole interior. Day and night were relics of the past.

I walked still further, hoping I was going the right direction, before finally approaching another track along a small hill. I could make out a car parked along a loading platform. Four or five bodies appeared to be boarding it. Did I have time to cross? Probably. I decided to take the chance, and scurried forward to leap the track. Almost as soon as I'd landed, the car came barreling past. Shit, that was much closer than I'd thought. I could have been killed.

"Congratulations, Allison," a detached voice yelled derisively, "for nearly killing that unidentified unit by launching without a clear track." I'd been spotted. Everyone around now knew that I existed, on foot, unchipped. I suddenly felt uncomfortably exposed. "A reminder to all, foot crew should only cross at designated cross points, and always check for the red signal light uptrack to make sure that your way is clear before crossing. All operators, never launch without checking downtrack to avoid accidents."

After that close call, getting to safety became even more important to me. If I were found, I would probably be taken to the central station, which would be extremely inconvenient and might waste my entire time transfer. Fortunately, I only had another few thousand paces to go. I increased my stride.

One of the strangest and most surreal aspects of this time was the presence of birds. They somehow seemed out of place in such an aggressively urban landscape. I could never actually dissect how they survived, yet there they were. In a sense, they were much like me, at odds with their environment. One flew past, calling out to me with a bird-hello. It seemed to regard me with the same curiosity I had for it, admiring my tenacity, wondering how I could possibly exist.

Finally, the silhouette of the hyperstructure appeared on the horizon. I was close.

That residue still coated my skin, a harmless yet annoying reminder that I didn't quite belong yet. The pool water was inviting. I exchanged a short glance with the two children walking along the water's edge. One of them made a presumably snarky comment, but I couldn't hear it and didn't much care regardless. Kids are naive. Some day, when they grow up, they'll learn the ways of the world, and make a journey to their own home-times, and they'll understand.

I jumped in, rinsed my face, and floated for a moment, watching the shimmering water subtly change shade around me while the chemicals dissipated. I swam a small circle, dunked my head under, ran my fingers through my hair. This was refreshing and invigorating, but best not to waste too much time here. I needed to move along; I could return later. I climbed back out, feeling cleaner and much better overall, pulled a couple of towels from the bin, dried off, wrapped up. I should probably get some proper clothes; to this point, I've interacted with few people, and not very closely, but that would likely become an issue in the morning.

The building towered above me. Fifty floors up, a hundred down, an endless sprawl, this place was massive, a city in itself. I entered through the glass doors and boarded the tram. My destination was down 41, Section E West, only about twenty minutes' travel. Not bad, considering – and after all that foot travel, it felt so liberating to let something else do the moving. Even better, I'd soon be in my unit, changed, and chipped, and I would be able to live like normal for a few weeks until my time here was up. I fiddled with the strap of my watch and cast it off. It was a relic from another era. Maybe I'd need it later, but for now, I was home.

Storlek, 18 May 2014 at 6:09am No comments

HRT 255-day reflection

Since my last blog post, my life been a roller coaster of unexpected events. I thought it would be neat to write a post looking back after six months, but that would have been some time in late February or early March... whoops, that failed. No matter, there wasn't a lot to talk about yet by that point.

Last November, I had the fortune of meeting Danny, who has been a wonderful friend, ally, impromptu therapist, girlfriend, boyfriend, and soon, roommate. He has been completely supportive of my transition, and also recently came out as trans as well. He has become a huge positive force in my life and I'm not sure what I would be doing now without him.

I have a new job, too, as of February. I'm getting paid better, I have more hours, my schedule is far more consistent, and I even get occasional tips, and all of this has made a huge difference in my financial and mental state. I'm not out as trans yet, but I have at least gotten almost everyone to call me Star. Trouble is, that makes the occasional deadname from the 3-4 people who refuse to "play along" sting a little more, but it's progress.

Speaking of names, it's looking like I'll be able to make things official fairly soon, on the order of probably a few months. What's holding that back is mostly finances – a legal name change isn't cheap! – but it seems like it might actually be possible to get my gender marker changed too, so I'd like to talk to some people to see about that, because renewing my license three separate times in one year is a bit absurd.

After a long fight to get an appointment, it looks like I should, if everything happens correctly, get a legitimate prescription for HRT in June. Maybe. Unfortunately I'm totally out of what I've got, which is kind of sucking, but I have been amusing myself by considering how ironically appropriate it is that I'm dealing with a hormone crash at 255 days... what idiot used an eight-bit variable for that counter?! :)

I'm still presenting "male" pretty much everywhere... I think. I no longer have the slightest clue what that even means anymore; I keep quietly adding more feminine traits to my appearance, to the point that it's become a total crapshoot how people refer to me. For one thing, it's pretty great to be seen as female on occasion, because it tells me that I can pull off female without even really trying to. On top of that, I must say, it's nice to be called "miss" because that's telling me that I not only don't look male to some people, but also that I haven't dragged my feet on transition long enough to miss that nebulous "miss"/"ma'am" cutoff. (Maybe the internet is right about my age? and incidentally, I took that stupid quiz yet again and this time it's added a year, which is amusing to no end considering I last took it shortly before my birthday!)

Danny and I went to a concert at the end of March, I went in full-on "girl mode," and it was spectacular. That night destroyed every doubt I had about transition. Alas, much like the hum of a noisy appliance, dysphoria becomes much more obvious once it's been shut off for a moment, and the downswing from that has been rough. There are a few impediments to presenting female that I still haven't been able to deal with, most prominently my stupid facial hair (laser is expensive!) and my stupid guy voice (vocal training is hard! especially if you have no one around to listen) ... but I'm doing all right, and the outpouring of support from awesome people online is such a huge boost when I'm feeling down. I love you all. ♥

Storlek, 11 May 2014 at 11:49am 2 comments

she, her, hers

[As a sort of general rule, I don't tend to write about really personal stuff on here. Then again, I also don't write much at all in the first place, so here, have a highly personal post about gender stuff.]

As Thanksgiving approaches, I've reflected on that whirlwind of events comprising this past year, and there really is a lot I can be thankful for. I have had a lot of great experiences lately, but I have also put up with a lot of crap, and really, as backward as it might sound, that's what I should be thankful for the most.

In particular, I would especially like to thank Darkly for ditching me and running off to marry someone else right after co-signing a lease, thus leaving me alone in an unfurnished apartment. This probably sounds sarcastic or facetious, but I am being completely serious.

I was more or less stuck in this apartment with no money, no internet access, no friends, and practically nothing to do, and so I had copious time to analyze myself, scrutinize myself, consider my direction and however-vague life goals, and by and large, beat myself up for not having accomplished pretty much any of them. Being financially drained and recently dumped added a lot of stress, and not being able to properly talk to anyone added to that stress – and maybe I needed that.

Let's back up to about eight or nine years ago.

Many years back, some time in the early 2000s, I began to come to terms with the fact that I might be transgender, but at the time these feelings and tendencies were not prominent enough for me to put much thought into them. I eventually wound up joining the military, and shortly thereafter it became clear to me that this was actually a terrible decision, as the amount of testosterone that I'd exposed myself to in doing so, along with the stresses of basic training and then a deployment (as cake as that deployment was, in some respects) kicked that gender dysphoria out from under the rock where it'd been hiding very well up until that point. Stress amplifies dysphoria; dysphoria in turn elevates stress. It's a tight and remarkably powerful feedback loop.

I ended up reading up on a ton of trans stuff then, but while I was in the military there wasn't much I could do without winding up discharged (and losing all my GI Bill money) – or worse, tossed into a psych ward. I was planning on finishing my degree and transitioning when I was fully discharged rather than trying to pursue anything after I was out of active duty, but any semblance of a plan that I might possibly have had went right out the window when I got into ponies.

Fortunately, though, the fandom friends I'd made helped to serve as sort of a safe haven for me to explore fragments of gender non-normativity: a necklace, a bracelet, hijacked skirts, painted nails. This adjusted my comfort baseline in profound ways, such that when I was more or less hurled back to a "normal" life of going to work and back to a dull, empty apartment, I found myself thinking about some rather dark stuff. In what was probably a wise move, one day I gathered all of the sharp objects I could find and locked them in the glove box in my car. Thanks to the military for that suicide awareness and prevention training! (I'm not even sure if that sentence is sarcastic or not.)

Ultimately, this was my catalyst. I had been discharged completely by this point, and while my financial situation was far from ideal and my near-term outlook wasn't particuarly hopeful, it was becoming obvious that things weren't getting any better. After copious amounts of research on transgender hormone replacement therapy, I placed an order on a rather shady-looking online pharmacy that had nonetheless confirmed as reputable by a number of people.

Within a couple weeks of getting on HRT (August 29, in case anyone's interested), I was already noticing that although the world was the same, I just felt a lot better about everything. It became easier to shrug off minor annoyances that previously irritated me, or to take a deep breath and relax if something made me mad. I started rediscovering emotions other than anger, flatline, and fleeting amusement. I like myself. It's pretty cool.

Storlek, 16 Nov 2013 at 6:46pm 3 comments

The surprising consistency of stupid internet quizzes

About seven years ago, this quiz determined that I was 14.

It now claims that I'm 21.

Storlek, 16 Sep 2013 at 3:55pm No comments

On Python and web development

Q: Why are there so many Python micro-frameworks for web development?
A: Each one has a unique set of features – and an equally unique set of ridiculous bugs to deal with! By the time you've managed basic functionality, you have practically written your own micro-framework, and might as well go the extra step of publishing it.

Storlek, 2 Jun 2013 at 4:51am No comments

Debugging

In one section of a job application I'm filling out, the keyup event is hooked to this informative dialog:

Yo, Kenexa! Maybe get rid of your debug code before putting it into production, okay?

Storlek, 8 May 2013 at 6:31am No comments

I canceled my cell phone service

Bye, Sprint. I won't miss you, or the $70 a month I was paying for a phone I barely used.

Canceling my service was a tremendous ordeal. First off, there's absolutely no way to cancel without calling them, so that they can argue with you about how great their service is and provide feeble excuses for not canceling.

I said that I'd determined it wasn't worth keeping my service considering how rarely I actually talked on my phone, and I could just use wifi practically anywhere I went. They suggested I could switch to a basic phone with a low-end plan, which is stupid not only because they were clearly not listening to me when I said that what I used my phone for was exactly the one thing that a basic phone can't do, but also because the plan they suggested was still $50 a month. Wtf?

So while I was arguing interminably with the idiot "service" rep, who insisted on checking with his supervisor to see what other stupid plans he could offer me instead of just doing what I'd asked, ironically, as he was going on about Sprint's great service quality, my call got dropped.

After calling back, I got a non-idiot who actually listened to what I had to say and went through with the cancellation after just a couple minutes of back-and-forth, and he gave me a confirmation that my service would be shut off by the next day and I wouldn't have to pay the next month's bill. Great.

But the best part wasn't until later on, when I noticed that I'd gotten a voice mail from Sprint. Google Voice's transcript was predictably hilarious, but here's the best part:

> You know, we definitely need to lose you as a customer. Just give us a call back please. Thank you, you're alone. Ohh hello hello hello.

You got that right, Google.

Storlek, 17 Mar 2013 at 5:07pm No comments

PayPal and clarity of word choice: an adventure

Here's the header of PayPal's website, with all the actions you can take:

I am by no means a frequent user of PayPal, so my use of the site generally is stuck at the "stupid newbie" level. This means that any time I use it, I have to think about what I'm trying to do, and then look around for the option allowing me to do it.

Every single time, I get hung up on how to move money into my bank account. Their choice of wording, frankly, sucks. Consider my typical use-case, of getting money that I have tied up in PayPal moved to my bank, so that I can make a withdrawal, stuff some cash in my wallet, and go spend it. Which option do I pick?

  • The money is right there in PayPal. I want to send it elsewhere.
  • Or should I make a request that the money be put into my bank account?
  • Maybe I want to add money to my bank account!
  • Ohhh, I get it. I wanted to withdraw the money! Hah! Got it.

The fact that, in the typical left-to-right, top-to-bottom manner of reading, "Withdraw" is the very last option, only exacerbates the frustration. Half the time, forgetting which thing I have to choose, I'll end up clicking one of the top tabs, only to find myself on an irrelevant page and have to try again.

An alternate structure for their site, which would make far more sense, might be to have a single tab for all actions pertaining to fund transfers, whether to/from a connected bank account, or someone else's PayPal account. Then, on that tab, have "To" and "From" menus listing, for example, "This Account", "Linked Bank Account #12345", "Other PayPal User", etc. (Then, as an implementation detail, once one of them has been selected, the other one can likely be determined, as one endpoint of any transfer is going to be the PayPal account in question.)

The bank transfer isn't the only point of confusion, either. One of the sub-options underneath "Request Money" is ... "Request Money". Curiously, it leads to an entirely different page than the top link with the blue background. And why are there two separate tabs with "Services" in the title? Which thing does what? Don't merchants sell products? Arghhhh.

Storlek, 23 Dec 2012 at 11:04am 2 comments

'])?>"/>

I know I give Perl coders a hard time for having an egregious amount of punctuation sprinkled everywhere, but I think the mess at the end of this line of PHP trumps it:

<input name="stuff" value="<?php print($values['stuff'])?>"/>

That's eight punctuation marks in a row! Outside of a regex (which is a separate sort of ugliness, independent of the surrounding programming language), this must be some sort of record.

In other news, why does everything on the web have to be written in PHP. Come on people, there are other languages out there that suck far less.

Storlek, 24 Nov 2012 at 8:15am 3 comments