Baseline

USMLE: round 2

Originally posted by endocitosi

So, today, after a wonderful week of vacation I took my baseline for Step 2CK. It didn’t go terrible, 2 points less than my Step 1. So I figured that my goal of beating my step 1 score was going to be doable. For reference, I took NBME #6.

Anyways, since I’m the kind of person that needs to have Disaster Plan A-Z before the disaster happens I had already made a schedule using Cramfighter a week ago of which the highlights are:

- Focus on OnlineMedEd for content review

- about 109 UWorld questions a day

- FA for Step 2CK PRN for weaker subjects. -> I chose this because I was able to skim the ObGyn section in <1hr during the ObGyn rotation. Haven’t really skimmed MTB or anything else. 

- Scheduled “Catch Up Days” on Fridays

- one more practice exam in 2 weeks


Anyways I took the NBME and bought the extended feedback then had Cramfighter organize the topics as they showed up on my results from left (worst performance, cough cough cardio) to right (best performance). 

So, we’ll see. Fingers crossed that I don’t lose my mind like I did during Step 1.

kangadrew24636291  asked:

well said about the difference between book and show treatment of Hodor. I was wondering about how you feel about how book!bran treats Hodor when he accidentally wargs into Hodor or when he uses Hodor to walk around the caves Meera and Jojen?

Accidentally warging into Hodor is just that, an accident. I don’t hold Bran responsible for doing something he didn’t even know he could do. Subsequently and deliberately warging into Hodor, however…

It’s worth quoting that passage again because it really does set the in-universe baseline for how Hodor should be treated.

The maester had only been half listening, Bran could tell. He lifted his eye from the tube, blinking. “Hodor won’t…”

“Go down into the crypts. When I woke, I told him to take me down, to see if Father was truly there. At first he didn’t know what I was saying, but I got him to the steps by telling him to go here and go there, only then he wouldn’t go down. He just stood on the top step and said ‘Hodor,’ like he was scared of the dark, but I had a torch. It made me so mad I almost gave him a swat in the head, like Old Nan is always doing.” He saw the way the maester was frowning and hurriedly added, “I didn’t, though.”

“Good. Hodor is a man, not a mule to be beaten.”

- Bran VII, AGoT

No matter his disability, no matter the nature of his employment, Hodor is a person with all the dignity of such, and the expectation is that Bran will uphold that.

Bran’s warging into Hodor also takes place in a context where we know that warging into another human is frankly monstrous. We have Varamyr’s prologue in ADWD to thoroughly establish that in a context divorced from Bran. And book!Bran himself, even though he’s a good deal younger than show!Bran, knows better than to do what he’s doing, or he wouldn’t be justifying himself like we see here.

I just want to be strong again for a while. I’ll give it back, the way I always do.

- Bran III, ADWD

And finally, Bran’s warging into Hodor is part of his darkest hour, his greatest spiritual separation from Winterfell, in parallel to Sansa’s and Arya’s stories. The structure of AFFC/ADWD gives the three younger Stark PoVs over to tutelage where there’s a lot of valuable stuff to be learned…but the moral supervision is iffy at best. What Bran is doing is very, very wrong, but it’s treated as such, has a deliberate place in Bran’s arc as something wrong, and I have confidence that Bran will internalise what Maester Luwin was telling him back in AGoT before the end.

anonymous asked:

HEALTHY SINCERELY THREE IS AMAZING AND I WANNA WRITE A FIC FOR IT BUT IDK HOW?? Like, i've never written a poly relationship before, much less a healthy poly relationship. Any tips so I don't Fuck Up™?

hi!!

so, like any relationship, poly relationships are founded on trust and communication. communication is especially important when factoring in more than one partner, and all in the relationship should make a point of speaking to each other to avoid miscommunication.

and poly people dont start dating others w/o telling their other partner(s). that’s cheating. of course, depending on the relationship things may be more or less strict, but be careful not to write inaccuracies about poly relationships by showing cheating as opposed to consensual multiple partners.

keep consent in mind ALWAYS!! always always no matter if youre writing poly or monogamous ships.

im not the Reigning Authority on poly ships but these r pretty baseline rules to follow!! and if that fic ends up happening send me a link, i’d love to read it!!

u cant be a grown person and have “dont say anything about me that could possibly be construed as negative, or anything negative that could possibly be construed as being about me” as like, a baseline expectation 4 social interactions. it leads to bad things

Jay-Z, Scarface, Beanie Sigel and DMX, photographed during a recording session for The Blueprint²: The Gift & The Curse at Hov’s Baseline Studios in 2002.

Brad later explained how this session went down: “Our studio session was more or less like a big joke… You go in there and see Jay shooting pool. You see Beans on the sofa asleep. Jay always plays shit for me, torturing me, playing the new Blueprint. I think he does that to fire me up. Then he’ll play the songs he wants me to get on. I’m like ‘How can you do this to me, man? You play all this heat and you want me to compete with the heat?’”

just a friendly reminder that kj apa is 19, almost 20, tho younger than tv shows usually cast to play teenagers he’s still college age. archie andrews is supposed to be a sophomore in high school who are usually 14 to 16 years old.

kj looks like this:

but a real sophomore in high school-archie would look more like this:

so if i catch any of u talking about grundy like she’s not a gross pedophile character i’ll beat ur ass

The fundamental dilemma of trying to avoid humanocentric writing in fantasy and sci-fi settings is that, while the old Humans Are Special trope is undeniably humanocentric, so is the opposite.

If your non-human species are good at exactly the set of things that humans are good at, and they have their own stuff going on besides, they’re effectively “human+”. You’re still positioning humans as the baseline against which all others are measured.

Paradoxically, non-humanocentric writing demands that humans be special in some respects, since the alternative is treating humanity’s exact set of capabilities and aptitudes as the bar you need to be taller than in order to ride. The trick is that you have to make humans special without making them Special - and that’s not an easy trick to pull off!

OFF THE CUFF HOMESTUCK THOUGHTS #3: THE SELF PILE DOESN’T STOP FROM GETTING TALLER OR: THE PROBLEM OF DEAD MARIOS

DISCLAIMER

IMPORTANT THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

[CHECK THE TAG FOR MORE THOUGHTS]

So, a long-ass time ago, Rose and Dave had a conversation like this:

TT: After you go, what do you think will happen to me?
TT: Will I just cease to exist?
TG: i dont know
TG: i mean your whole timeline will
TG: maybe
TT: Maybe?
TT: Is there a chance it’ll continue to exist, and I’ll just be here alone forever?
TT: I’m not sure which outcome is more unsettling.
TG: the thing with time travel is
TG: you cant overthink it
TG: just roll with it and see what happens
TG: and above all try not to do anything retarded
TT: What do you think I should do?
TG: try going to sleep
TG: our dream selves kind of operate outside the normal time continuum i think
TG: so if part of you from this timelines going to persist thats probably the way to make it happen
TT: Ok.
TG: and hey you might even be able to help your past dream self wake up sooner without all that fuss you went through
TT: I think the true purpose of this game is to see how many qualifiers we can get to precede the word “self” and still understand what we’re talking about.

This is the most important sentence in Homestuck.

I am dead serious.

Well, OK, I mean, it’s pretty important for understanding some major Homestuck themes and shit or something like that.

Also, I totally should have said: Pre-Retcon Doomed Timeline Non-Dreamself Rose but ultimately about to become Dreamself Rose who semi-merged with Pre-Retcon Alpha Timeline Rose and Doomed Timeline Dave aka Davesprite AKA future Davepetasprite^2 or as we all call them around the office, Davepeta, had that conversation.

Maybe you begin to see what I’m going to talk about here.

One of the major frustrations a lot of people had with the retcon was that the characters we ended up with at the end weren’t the ones we’d come to love and know throughout the story. Was it even worth it, to lose the characters we loved to the tyranny of Game Over? The victorious kids, with the exception of John and Roxy, were other people, with other histories, other goals, and other choices.

Allow me to submit that that may be the whole point.

SBURB is cruel. We’ve known that for a long time. It’s cruel not as Caliborn is cruel, but as the cosmos is cruel, as a supernova is cruel. It wants what it wants, and doesn’t care about how that intersects with the needs of humanity. It wants to make universes through a complex game-playing method, and drags hapless, vulnerable adolescents along for the ride. And most of the time it doesn’t even succeed, leaving its champions to rot in a doomed timeline or similar! Skaia’s victory is an amoral creation myth where individual human beings are just the carved pieces on the chessboard. (I mean, the other ones. Not the carapacians.)

Again, let’s consider the theme of VIDEO GAMES vs. REAL LIFE.

Homestuck, let’s be real, is basically some postmodern horror timey-wimey Jumanji. For a generation way more familiar with pixels than cute little tokens It’s easy for teenagers and in fact, basically everyone, to fantasize about escaping their life and slipping into some game world forever, where they get to do awesome things and be a heroic person.

Homestuck makes that literal. Congratulations, everything you ever knew is dead. You will never see it again, except your internet friends, who turn out also to be your family and other important people. I mean, from a distance, SBURB sounds like an awesome game, right? You figure out who you are and get to wear a cool costume displaying that identity. You get to make anything you want and enjoy this hyperflexible mythology tailored to YOUR CHOICES. HS fans talk all the time about how cool it would be to play a real version of SBURB. That’s a big part of the appeal of SBURB fan adventures. They put you and your friends in the story. Or your favorite characters! It sounds like a fantasy come true.

The thing is, as fantastical as it is, it’s also really fucked up, and ultimately you and your friends are being used. By a giant frog to let it have its babies. By the universe. By a smug blue cloud thing that doesn’t care about you at all.

SBURB does not care about you at all.

The funny thing, SBURB features a mythology with so many layers and nuances and seemingly human motifs about growth and self that you might search for some grand ultimate meaning behind it, but it’s not even human enough to have a personality, to be something you can argue with or fight. It just is. It’s all the cruelty and power of a god without any of the dazzling personality. It’s empty. It just wants to make universes all day long, or fail trying. It is a great, weird tadpole-making machine that eats children.

One of the big ways it doesn’t care about you is its attitude toward the self. Humans and trolls and whatnot prefer not to be relentlessly duplicated. SBURB says, oh yeah, let’s make tons of copies of the player characters and use them for a lot of different purposes.

There’s the dreamself, an essential bifurcation of identity (you are now and were always the dream moon princex) that sometimes gets merged into god tier but sometimes doesn’t. There’s doomed timeline selves, who exist ultimately to augment an Alpha timeline whose Alphaness is decided very arbitrarily and frequently by Lord English. There’s the you who exists before a scratched session and the you who exists afterward, who are two different people but started as one baby in an act of ectobaby meteor duplication, your player self and your guardian self. Dead timeline yous fill up the dreambubbles made by the horrorterrors and get endlessly confused with each other. Any one of these could be the you experience being at any given moment, and which one it is entirely arbitrary. Don’t like being Dead Nepeta #47? Tough hoofbeast leavings, kiddo.

To top it all off, in Terezi: Remember, we learn that every single time we thought someone changed from one self to another, was resurrected or something like that, it was another act of duplication. For every time someone’s died, there’s another version of them waiting in the Dream Bubbles, surprised that they’re not the main character anymore. And we have no way of knowing which is which. Even John, good old everyman John, may or may not be the person who died three or four times. It’s really impossible to say whether we’ve been following the same person throughout our story, or just the illusion of the same person, like a horrifying cosmic flipbook.

The retcon is a return to this same theme. Ultimately, there’s very little new in the changes John makes to reality except that they drive the point home.

John’s friends all died. John and his friends won the game. These things are both true at the same time, except those things may not have happened to the same people. There was a happy ending. Hooray! For, um, some folks who may or may not be the ones we care about. In fact, it’s very confusing, because from Rose’s perspective, Roxy is dead but came back to life, and from Roxy’s perspective Rose is dead but came back to life, except also she came back to life as a weird tentacle catgirl of pure id and self –indulgence. So there’s that. Um. Which Rose are we rooting for again?

Or wait: is it none of them, because the first Rose died in a doomed timeline, hundreds of panels and a number of years ago?

There’s a tension here which one experiences between saying it’s okay because it’s still the same people, and saying it’s not okay, because it’s not the same people at all. This tension is exactly what we’re meant to wrestle with. To put it another way, Homestuck asks if identity can work in aggregate. Are all Johns John, all Roses Rose, and do they all share in what they accomplish? Or are the final victors only accidents created by the whims and needs of the frog baby machine?

What I’m saying, basically, is that the retcon, in the sense that it pointed out our confused relationship with these characters, was already here.

In interviews and questions put to him over the years, Hussie constantly compares HS and SBURB to other video games, particularly Mario, which he frequently returns to as a baseline of comparison that most of his readers will know. One answer, from a recent Hiveswap interview, is particularly revelatory. To the question of “Why do you kill off all your characters?” Hussie replies:

[…]HS is supposedly a story that is also a game. In games, the characters die all the time. How many times did you let Mario fall in the pit before he saved the princess? Who weeps for these Marios. In games your characters die, but you keep trying and trying and rebooting and resetting until finally they make it. When you play a game this process is all very impersonal. Once you finally win, when all is said and done those deaths didn’t “count”, only the linear path of the final victorious version of the character is considered “real”. Mario never actually died, did he? Except the omniscient player knows better. HS seems to combine all the meaningless deaths of a trial-and-error game journey with the way death is treated dramatically in other media, where unlike our oblivious Mario, the characters are aware and afraid of the many deaths they must experience before finally winning the game.

The big man hass the answer.

Homestuck is the story of those dead Marios.

Other works, like Undertale, have engaged with this topic as well. But one of the major differences between Undertale and Homestuck is that in Undertale, between “lives,” one’s consciousness is preserved. In Homestuck, it’s discontinuous, and the value of the overall trial-error process is called into question by the fact that you, the player, may not even get to experience the victory. What meaning does victory hold if that is the case?

So, to put it in a nice thesis format:

One of the central themes of Homestuck is the challenge of reconciling an arbitrary and destructive pattern of growth and victory with the death and suffering you experienced along the way. Homestuck asks: is victory worthwhile if you’re not you anymore? And would you be able to know?

What even is the self? Is there such a thing?

If you were left feeling somewhat disconcerted by our heroes’ tidy victory and departure to their cosmic prize, or by how which Rose gets the spotlight is so deeply, deeply arbitrary, there’s a good reason for that. You’re supposed to be.

The philosophical problem of Wacky Cat Rose is insignificant next to the bullshit of SBURB.

And don’t forget—John and Roxy’s denizens helped them achieve the retcon. Ultimately, the victory they achieved was mediated by the same amoral system of SBURB, and was a victory over an enemy, Caliborn, whose power was created, perpetuated, and ended by that same system.

Okay, so here’s where it gets contentious. There’s an argument to be made, which I’m not sure how I feel about, that some of the character development that could have been in post-retcon Act 6 was left out precisely to push this feeling and play up this tension. Note that this is not the same thing as saying that they were deliberately badly written, but that they’re deliberately written to make us uneasy.That Hussie deliberately played with the balance between making these retconned characters feel familiar and making them feel eerily different to leave us feeling uneasy with the result.

I’m not sure I like that idea. It smacks a little too much of that “everything is perfect” thinking that comes sometimes from the far Metastuck camp. Some of the differences may also be the result of flawed writing. (See: Jane and Jake’s character arcs, which I might talk about later.) And I want to be able to critique those flaws. Ultimately, I think we still needed more time and development to figure out who these new people were—even if our goal was ultimately to compare them to their earlier selves. And again, more conscious acknowledgement of the problem from our heroes—especially John, the linchpin in this last and biggest act of duplication—might have helped drive this theme home.

Still, I think the Problem of Dead Marios is one of the most fundamental questions of Homestuck, maybe THE biggest question. It’s essential to understand it to understand what Hussie’s doing—or attempting to do— in the retcon and the ending.

I don’t know that Homestuck offers us a clear answer to that question. There are some confusions around the issue, too. Where do merged selves fit in, exactly? Clearly they’re a big part of the discussion, because Hussie spends some time in Act 6, especially near the end bringing the identity-merging powers of the Sprites to the forefront. (See also: the identity-merged nightmare that is Lord English.)  Can we even come up with a clear answer to what it means when a dead Mario returns to life grotesquely fused with Toad? How does he beat the game? Does he tell himself that the princess is in another castle? Or what if he merges with Peach? Are they their own princess? How do they know if they’re in the right castle?

Um. Anyway—

Interestingly, it’s not all grotesque—spritesplosions suggest that personalities that are too different don’t stay together long, so a fusion might rely on some inherent compatibility between the two players. Erisol’s self-loathing, sure, but also Fefeta’s cheerfulness. Davepeta seems to be a way of bringing out the best in their players, a way of getting Davesprite past his angst and Nepeta past her fear. Honestly, I know a lot of people don’t like Davepeta as the ending of these two characters’ arcs, but I can’t help but love it. They’re the ultimate coolkid. Cool enough to know they don’t have to be cool. Regular Dave got there, too, of course. But was his retcon assist from John ultimately any different?

Then, of course, we come to Davepeta’s speech to Jade in one of the last few updates before Collide. Davepeta suggests that there is such a thing as an ultimate self beyond the many different selves one piles up throughout the cosmos. A set of principles that describes who you are that’s larger than any individual instance of you. Your inherent Mariohood. (Maybe this is comparable to your Classpect identity, which attempts to describe who you are?) Davepeta even tells Jade, strikingly, that one might learn to see beyond the barriers between selves. Be the ur-self, in practice, rather than theory. This would be incredible news for Jade, who wrestles with the issue of different selves perhaps more than any other character. (There’s a lot to say about Jade.)

Honestly, I wish this ur-self idea had been developed more, and I honestly expected it to be. It doesn’t fully come to fruition, I feel. (Same goes for Davepeta’s character. Ohhhh, ZING!) I’m not sure it entirely makes philosophical sense, especially with fusion—I mean, doesn’t Davepeta themself disprove it? Or at least complicate it? Like, are they part of the ur-Dave or the ur-Nepeta? They seem to imply they’re BOTH? Does that even work? Does that mean that Marieach is all the Peaches and Marios at once?

(In fact, Bowser/Peach/Mario are but the three manifestations of one eternal principle. Also, Bowser/Peach are the true power couple. Read my fanfiction plz.)

And what, say, of Dirk, who ultimately ends up rejecting aspects of his other selves? It feels like there’s a lot more you could say here, and I wonder if Hussie would have said more, if he’d had time. What’s weird is, none of our victorious kids never reach an ur-self (though to their descendants, they become archetypal to some degree), which one might have expected. They’re just individual selves who happened to get lucky. Does that make them representative of the whole? It feels like something’s missing here, or like something got dropped at the last minute.

Same goes for the idea of the Ultimate Riddle. You’d be forgiven for missing it, but there’s been this riddle in the background lore of SBURB that seems to have something to do with personal agency in this overwhelming, overarching system. Karkat called it predestination, saying something like “ANY HOPE YOU HAD OF DOING THINGS OTHERWISE WAS JUST A RUSE.” But others have interpreted it more positively. My favorite interpretation, from bladekindeyewear: the answer to the Riddle is that YOU shape the timeline through your existence, personality, and choices, even when it looks like it’s all predestination. Ultimately it’s your predestination, your set of events, based deeply on your nature, that you are creating. Someone like Caliborn can use his innate personality to achieve power; someone like John might be able to use it to achieve freedom.

I definitely expected something like that to be expressed more explicitly. Like, a big ah-ha moment that helps John or Jade or whoever understand how to escape Caliborn’s system. Something like that would have been very helpful for a lot of our heroes, actually, who’ve been pushed around by Skaia and SBURB together, in finding a cathartic ending.  Once again, I wonder if something was dropped or rushed because there wasn’t time to put it all in. There’s places where you can see hints of that Answer being implied, maybe? But it’s kind of ambiguous.

You can see how the Answer to the Ultimate Riddle ties into some of Davepeta’s ideas. If your personality, the rules of your behavior are a fundamental archetype that goes beyond each individual self, then the answer to whether it matters if one self of yours makes it through to victory is an emphatic YES. You are all of those people, and by winning one round with Skaia, you’ve won the whole game, despite all the arbitrary challenges and deaths it heaps upon you along the way.

This may strike some as too positive for Skaia’s brutality, or again, some way of excusing flaws in many characters’ arcs, or unfair things that happen to them. To be fair, I don’t know that Davepeta’s necessarily meant to be taken as authoritative or the voice of Hussie. They may simply be offering a purrspective.

Hussie not choosing to come right out and engage with the Ultimate Riddle leaves the question of Dead Marios and what they mean for the victorious versions of our cast very open. I like that in some ways—let the reader decide—but I can’t help but wish we had more to work with in making that decision. Plus, it might have brought the thematic messages of Homestuck all the way home to tie them more closely to our characters and their experiences—character development being one of the things most people found most lacking in the ending.

NEXT TIME: All that wacky gnostic stuff probably

“If Republicans are serious about lowering costs while expanding coverage to those who need it, and if they're prepared to work with Democrats and objective evaluators in finding solutions that's something we should all welcome. But we should start from the baseline that any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans.”

Former President Barack Obama in a timely statement marking the 7th anniversary of the ACA

“May I?” Lady Lunafreya asked. She held out her hand.

“Are you… offering to heal me?” Prompto asked, hesitant. Everyone was watching him. He shifted nervously and brushed a lock of hair out of his face. “I’m really grateful but, uh. No thanks? I’m not hurt. But—but I appreciate the offer!” The last thing he wanted was for the Oracle—for Noctis’ friend, the person who had pushed him to meet Noct in the first place—to think him ungrateful.

But Lunafreya didn’t seem to hear. Her arm didn’t waver. “Please.”

Everyone was still watching. Noctis, with his head cocked to the side. Ignis, quietly observing. Gladio, arms crossed, making sure nobody got too close to the Oracle or the King. Prompto didn’t want to be the odd one out.

Lunafreya’s hand looked warm and inviting. So he took it.

Within seconds, Prompto was doubled over, something acidic and awful falling from his lips.

The sensation of throwing up had always been unpleasant.

This was awful.

Despite all that, Lunafreya clutched his hand. Her grip was surprisingly tight, even as Prompto bent over, his free hand on his knee in a last ditch effort to stay upright.

He heaved and heaved and heaved. All he saw was black.

And through it all, Lunafreya held on.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

I've always thought it'd be wild if humanity ever entered an irl sci fi future scenario and met another alien race, let's call them the Quacksians, because like, all previous sci fi would be invalidated and all future sci fi would have to include the Quacksians because that's the new baseline reality(and would Quacksians show up in future fantasy fiction alongside humans?). Then I realized that's what happened to a lot of stories when the moon turned out barren. Funny how these things happen.

A lot of science fiction novels talk about the fiction that exists in the world itself. It’s a good narrative device to show how people in the world itself see something. For example, in Isaac Asimov’s Caves of Steel, there are pulpy novels about the arrogant, rich spacers who visit earth: usually, they involve a beautiful spacer girl who falls in love with the tough earth hero. The point of telling us this is to show us how the residents of earth’s dome cities resent and distrust the spacers and believe they are aloof because of their wealth and arrogance, instead of the more humanizing truth: Spacers can’t mingle in an earth city because they have no immune systems. 

Another one of my favorite examples of this is in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen, where, because real superheroes exist, comic books are all about pirates. I love that because apparently the major figure in comics history, the Stan Lee, Steranko, and Jack Kirby rolled into one of this timeline, is EC horror comic guy Joe Orlando. Orlando was a tremendously gifted artist but he never really “got” superhero books. I wonder if Don Heck, another gifted comic artist, is a more major figure in the Watchmen earth. He was a good artist who was good at Westerns and horror but who was terrible at fantasy elements. 

(Side note: based on the art, for years, I thought Steranko did Watchmen.)

One of the best novels about how science fiction stories actually change scientific development and shape a science fiction world would have to be Alan Steele’s Chronospace (2001) which is about how UFOs are actually time machines. The idea is that time travel would only be possible in space, as that is where wormholes could be safely created. Combine that with the fact that they avoid all contact with us, there’s a good case that UFOs are time traveling observers from earth. When time traveling, our heroes learn that it was scifi that inspired their own time machine.

I’ve often championed this series, but one of the most incredibly ahead of its time series would have to be L. Sprague de Camp’s “Hand of Zei” and Planet Krishna stories from the 1950s, which are both a spoof of the John Carter of Mars planet yarn, and a decent straight example at the same time. And part of the reason I like it is because even though it’s written in the 1950s, it’s genre self aware in a Whedonian style, with wisecracking and people identifying tropes. Yet this was written in the early 1950s!

One of my favorite details is that people sign up for jobs in space exploration because they read Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and wanted to do something romantic and exciting with their lives. 

Lesson 29: Spirit Work 101

By: Mama Bones

Live class date and time: 04/13/2017 at 6pm CST

Disclaimer: spirit work is a path that requires a lot of intuitive thinking and “feeling”, but it’s important that you not let things get toxic or dangerous with your emotional and mental health. Be aware that this is a path that deals with “talking to non-physical beings”; which can be dangerous for many types of diagnosed conditions. Please be safe and logical in your own practice. Spirit work is absolutely not required for the practice of witchcraft.

Primary focus on: basic communication/sensing


In this lesson, I will be working with nature spirits, not ghosts, as those are easier and honestly, more safe, for beginners. However it’s still vital that you are familiar with basic shielding and warding before putting this lesson into practice.

 I won’t go into detail on that since we’ve had at least one lesson and numerous references shared on the server that are in pins.


There are some important things to remember with spirit work.

           1.) Always shield, at least on a basic level, before working with a new spirit. It’s good policy to shield with spirits in general, regardless of how well you know them, but I’m not going to helicopter your longterm decisions. For myself, the only spirits I don’t actively shield around are my personal companions.

           2.) Be patient. Spirit work is NOT an instant gratification path, nor a constantly rewarding one. It’s difficult and frustrating. But the rewards can be entirely worth the frustration if you stick with it and remain as levelheaded as you can.

 

           3.) Be polite. This should go without saying, but you will not find spirit work successful if you’re a dick. Don’t be a dick. That’s not to say you have to be overly chatty or friendly. You can be logically cool, but still not be a dick.

           4.) Be logical. Yes, spirit work requires some openness to the esoteric and intangible. But don’t overwhelm yourself with daydreams and fantasies. Mundane is still mundane. Don’t force interaction. And remain aware of your physical surroundings. Don’t let yourself get in a bad or dangerous situation just for spirit interaction (i.e. a non-witch observing or prying, weather, lighting, laws, etc.).

 

Nature spirits

I am Hellenic, so I deal with them mostly in the sense of dryads and nymphs. But do feel free to treat them as you would for your path. The above rules should apply to all, regardless of your visualization of their “essence”, so to speak.


Do NOT choose a plant/tree that you or your family has caused damage to in the past. I.e. through landscaping, weeding, etc. Even if it was years and years ago, they remember. Especially trees. Trust me. If you are stuck in a situation where your family does harsh landscaping/poisoning of the plants in your yard, go to a park or friend’s house where you will be a neutral party.

I like to sit with them. When it’s a spirit I don’t know, I will sit near, but not touching/leaning. Definitely not crushing! Once you work with a spirit a lot and become friends, those rules may change. For example, I lean my back against my pine trees frequently. They like the physical affection.

Get comfy. This will likely take some time. Feel free to have a book out on your lap or headphones with music playing quietly if you are needing a cover for sitting outside for that long. I also encourage bringing water with you, both for yourself and as an offering for the plant. A snack doesn’t hurt, especially to help ground you afterwards.
You can bring a divination/communication tool as well if you want to try that route. I don’t personally use them for my spirit work, so I’m not good at instructing on that, but you can incorporate them into my lesson today I’m sure.

Place your hands on the ground lightly and focus on the feel of the earth, the soil. The temperature. The texture. If your sense of smell is sharp enough, focus on the smell of nature around you. Filter out human related sounds and focus on things like wind, birdsong, insects. If you’ve done meditation or trance-states before, what we’re trying to achieve is a light version of that. A receptive trance state. It’s very much similar to what you do for many kinds of divination, like Tarot, runes, pendulums, etc. It’s up to you on whether you would like to do this with your eyes open or closed. Please choose what makes you feel safe, especially if you are in a public area.

You want to stay quiet and observing for a couple minutes. You’re welcomed to let your mind wander and think- we aren’t going for traditional blank meditation by any means. Ideally you want your thoughts to be about nature and the plant you’re about to focus on, but it’s okay if other thoughts pop in.

After a couple minutes, you should gently start to focus your observation and thoughts on the specific plant. Do not touch it yet. But you may lean closer and smell it, look at it closely. Observe how the texture is of this plant up close. What colors it has. The shapes.

Now, after all that physical observation and use of your normal 5 senses, it’s time to try and exercise your non-physical observation and sense. I like to close my eyes for this, but it’s absolutely not required. It may help you “catch” the sense initially though if you want to try it for a minute or two and then open your eyes again for safety.

You will be reaching for something abnormal. It is hard for me to describe, but if you can’t snag the sensation, it’s okay. This is just an exercise that you want to practice regularly when starting out with spirit work. It’s not uncommon at all that it doesn’t work the first time. The best way I can describe it without narrowing it too much for individual experiencing of the sense, is you will get a “pop” sensation when the connection/sense clicks into place. But the way you experience the sense is entirely your own.

If you are able to sort of feel that connection to the plant, fantastic! If not, don’t worry but stay open. It could be that the connection will snap into place after you start the communication itself.

Now you’re going to do the meat of spirit work. Communication!

Talk to your plant. It does not have to be out loud. It does not have to be in English (although it does need to be a language you understand). Keep the inquiries pleasant and light initially. Don’t give your life story. Don’t talk about global warming. Like office parties, the weather can be a good opener, especially if it’s pleasant outside. Although discussing rain or storms is perfectly fine as well and not “upsetting” to plants.

For “replies”, you likely will not get them in comprehensible “human” language at first. That’s fine. It’s normal. The easiest thing to sense is vague emotions or concepts. Some people hear music/sounds. Some see pictures. Some get scents. It’s okay if you struggle with this. Continue carrying on your one sided conversation, remaining as open as your can to things that don’t “seem” to come from you.

You can ask if they need anything like water or soil loosened. Even if they don’t seem to need any tending, you can ask if they would like an offering (water is really the best offering, although you can bring a stone/crystal if you like as well). Keep in mind that if you are still struggling with sensing “replies”, it’s okay to give a splash of water as a good faith offering regardless. Don’t give it a bunch though, unless it looked very thirsty.

Honestly, you can keep this communication/conversation part going as long as you’re comfortable with. If you keep getting feelings or impressions, feel free to go until they start to sort of fizzle a bit. That’s a good way to know that the spirit is done talking for now. Don’t take it personally, there’s a variety of reasons why they’re “tired” of talking. Thank them for their time and wish them well.

You should end with the similar trancing actions that we began with- using your standard senses to connect with nature. Smelling, touching, listening, looking at the soil/grass and plants around you. Slowly ground yourself. Feel free to drink or nibble something at this time. If it helps you, turn your music up. Stretch slowly, rolling your joints.

You may feeling like you want to encourage that extra sense to linger and keep paying attention to it as you do mundane things. I do not recommend this, especially for beginners. For many people, your body is used to processing “peripheral” sensations from your other five senses without clogging up your ability to function smoothly. It takes a lot of practice for this to be possible with a new sense. Take it slow. Reach out for it only when you have the time to focus on it until you’re more comfortable and at ease with the sensations and impressions.

Spirit work comes more quickly if you direct your focus, so I do recommend going back to the same plant/tree and working with it more than once to try and strengthen that connection. Once you have one more solid connection under your belt, the others will come much more easily.

The biggest tip I want to leave you with though is to balance being practical/logical with that esoteric optimism. That’s what I’ve found has given me the best and safest baseline for my spirit work over the years.

Note: This technique can be tailored to work with communicating with your pets/animals, spirits that aren’t from this plane, and ghosts. Just remember to do the order of “centering, semi-trance state, connecting/communicating, withdrawing, grounding”.

Any questions?

Suga Kenta and Kimura Tatsunari
Livedoor Interview Translation

Translation continues under the Read More.  It’s important to note the actual interview took place about a month ago, it’s just this second part is now finally published.

Q: This will be my third interview with the two of you after the re-run “View from the Top,” and “Karasuno, Revival!” 

Kenta: Whoo! [applause] Thank you each and every time!
Tatsunari: That’s right, and for this particular production…
Kenta: Whoah whoah, no, too fast! [laughs] They haven’t asked us anything yet!

Keep reading

hey guys! let’s talk for a while. 

so there’s been a lot of stuff coming up in fandom. a lot of it has been a little…worrying. 

i know that a lot of fandom - especially in ficdom - are young, inspiring writers. even if you aren’t a young, inspiring writer, and are in fact a lovely 40-year-old with a penchant for knitting and writing in your free time, there are some things that everyone should know, especially concerning how people should write their fic. 

now if you’re posting on ao3, good! that’s the platform i’ll be talking about (mostly because i use it myself) but if you’re posting anywhere else, this applies to you still. 

now, bts fandom has been posting a lot of fic recently that are rated 18+ for numerous reasons, some of them because they contain sexual content - others because they talk about sensitive topics. from this point on, please be aware of trigger warnings such as: rape, abuse, manipulation, etc. 

now, here’s the problem. if you’re gonna write a fic about, say for example, domestic abuse, heres what you got to do: your homework. go out and research. go and ask someone - if you have to - about their experiences only after you’ve asked them explicitly if they’re ok with talking to you about it, if they’re okay with the limits of your questioning, if they’re okay with you writing about it, etc. you have to ask this. same goes for any other traumatic experience. if you’re going to write it, research it. don’t just do it through the internet, because everyone’s experiences are different. do it through people. it will be painful, hard, and you will feel numerous things that might make you question why you’re writing this in the first place, but if you’re really serious about something then show that you are. treat the subject with respect. 

so many fics now in the archive are flippant, using abuse or noncon as a plot device, or even worse, make it seem almost sensual. it’s not. it’s not fun, it’s not good, do not make it that way. for fuck’s sake, have some decency. this is not your little kink world, you cannot get away with doing stuff like that without doing your research first. 

fics that contain controversial subjects (like male pregnancy, which if written with a cismale character is inherently transphobic, don’t fight me on this) should be written with care. either spend substantial amount of time researching them or don’t write them at all. there will be people who will be triggered by this kind of material and you cannot do anything about it, but as an author, what you can do is try to be as respectful and as polite as possible when you try to tell your story. this is not a smut-filled world for you. if you want to write about real-life things, then you better sit down and realize what real-world consequences are. trying to make traumatic and controversial subjects romantic for the sole purpose of ~otp~ is not okay. it’s not.

writing, for most people, is not just a fulfillment; it’s catharsis, it’s a lifeline, a hobby, a form of expression, a movement. when you post something online, it’s public, it’s real. it’s out there for other people to see. you give your permission for others to connect with it the way you feel you’ve connected with it. (that is, not to say, that they’re allowed to steal it.) people are allowed to get upset and disgusted at your work. they’re allowed to like it, too. but realize that it’s your job to try and be as sensitive as possible, because if you’re going to write about something that you yourself have not gone through, then you need to realize that you have no precedence to stand on a soapbox when your fic is being criticized and defend your own words. you don’t. you have no idea what you’re talking about; how can you defend it? 

secondly; sex. listen, it’s totally okay to be as sexually free or conservative as you want; it’s your body, your life, your words. do as you want. but when we’re talking about sex, take a moment to educate yourself on what a healthy sexual relationship is. where do we cross the line between abuse and bdsm? what is the difference between a dom/sub relationship and a relationship with a harmful imbalance of power? most people don’t seem to understand this difference. it’s okay; a lot of people don’t because of the world’s lack of good sexual education (HONESTLY) but it’s your job to make yourself educated. if you haven’t had sex, that’s fine! if you have, that’s fine! my advice: still look it up. we don’t know everything. there’s always something to learn. fandom/ficdom has long migrated away with vanilla sex, which totally okay, but kinks can only be negotiated if you know what your healthy baseline is. learn it. learn it and understand it and know everything before you attempt to write it. 

these were the two things i really wanted to say. i’ve noticed a lot of fics have been having these problems; i know i’ve really condensed things and i could say a lot more. this is my own personal opinion, even though it really is good to try and learn more about things before writing about them (form your own opinion, you know?) i just wish to see a better change in fic; after all, words is how most of us live. 

nytimes.com
Jon Mooallem, Our Climate Future Is Actually Our Climate Present
How do we live with the fact that the world we knew is going and, in some cases, already gone?
By Jon Mooallem

Jon Mooallem does a great job of using our changing climate as perhaps the best example of the future colonizing the present:

The future we’ve been warned about is beginning to saturate the present. We tend to imagine climate change as a destroyer. But it also traffics in disruption, disarray: increasingly frequent and more powerful storms and droughts; heightened flooding; expanded ranges of pests turning forests into fuel for wildfires; stretches of inhospitable heat. So many facets of our existence — agriculture, transportation, cities and the architecture they spawned — were designed to suit specific environments. Now they are being slowly transplanted into different, more volatile ones, without ever actually moving.

We’re accustomed to hearing about the tragically straightforward cases of island nations that will simply disappear: countries like Tuvalu and Kiribati that face the possibility of having to broker the wholesale resettlement of their people in other countries. Yet there must also be, in any corner of the planet, and for each human living on it, a threshold at which a familiar place becomes an unfamiliar one: an altered atmosphere, inundated by differentness and weirdness, in which, on some level, we’ll live on, in exile. The Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht describes this feeling as “solastalgia”: “a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at ‘home.’ ”

[…]

Still, we insulate ourselves from the disorientation and alarm in other, more pernicious ways, too. We seem able to normalize catastrophes as we absorb them, a phenomenon that points to what Peter Kahn, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, calls “environmental generational amnesia.” Each generation, Kahn argues, can recognize only the ecological changes its members witness during their lifetimes. When we spoke recently, Kahn pointed to the living conditions in megacities like Kolkata, or in the highly polluted, impoverished areas affected by Houston’s oil refineries, where he conducted his initial research in the early ’90s. In Houston, Kahn found that two-thirds of the children he interviewed understood that air and water pollution were environmental issues. But only one-third believed their neighborhood was polluted. “People are born into this life,” Kahn told me, “and they think it’s normal.”

A University of British Columbia fisheries scientist, Daniel Pauly, hit upon essentially the same idea around the same time, recognizing that as populations of large fish collapsed, humanity had gone on obliviously fishing slightly smaller species. One result, Pauly wrote, was a “creeping disappearance” of overall fish stocks behind ever-changing and “inappropriate reference points.” He called this impaired vision “shifting baseline syndrome.”

[…]

Kahn calls our environmental generational amnesia “one of the central psychological problems of our lifetime,” because it obscures the magnitude of so many concrete problems. You can wind up not looking away, exactly, but zoomed in too tightly to see things for what they are. Still, the tide is always rising in the background, swallowing something. And the longer you live, the more anxiously trapped you may feel between the losses already sustained and the ones you see coming.

[…]

The future is always somebody else’s present — it will very likely feel as authentic, and only as horrific, as our moment does to us. But the present is also somebody else’s future: We are already standing on someone else’s ludicrous map. Except none of us are in on the joke, and I’m guessing that it won’t feel funny any time soon.

2

He had not known that he could love, not really. Gansey and he had fought about it, once – Gansey had said, with disgust, Stop saying privilege. Love isn’t privilege. But Gansey had always had love, had always been capable of love. Now that Adam had discovered this feeling in himself, he was more certain than ever that he was right. Need was Adam’s baseline, his resting pulse. Love was a privilege. Adam was privileged; he did not want to give it up. He wanted to remember again and again how it felt.

anonymous asked:

I have a female character in her early twenties. How realistic would it be for her to be skilled (enough to hold her own against larger opponents) in hand to hand combat in under two years? If not, what would be realistic for her to master?

It’s realistic, sort of. There’s a few minor issues that don’t really fit together here, making it (at least seem) unrealistic as written.

Practical martial arts training intended to put someone into combat lasts far less than two years. You can learn effective hand to hand techniques that you can then apply in combat in an eight week course. If you’re coming out of the military or from a police background, your hand to hand training took, at most, a couple months. Then you go back every six months to a year, and update it, meaning you learn what others have developed to counter your training, and how to deal with their counters.

Practical training isn’t so much about spending years learning how to fight, as checking in often enough to see what’s changed. When you’re dealing with untrained opponents, it really doesn’t matter. Most people haven’t been in a fight since high school, and even basic police adapted Judo from the 70s will take them down.

As we’ve said many times before, most martial arts apply to larger foes without missing a beat. This is especially true of the adapted Judo/Jujitsu which forms the core of most American police and self-defense forms. This may be a difficult concept to wrap your head around, but it is far easier to put an opponent on the ground when they’re a foot taller, and a hundred pounds heavier, than the other way around.

Depending on how zealous they are about keeping their training up to date, someone who underwent training two years ago will have gone back four to six times, to update. They may have also elected to retake their training just to, “brush up.” Either way, we’re not talking about someone dedicating a lot of their life to this.

That said, if you’re talking about someone who signed up at a Dojo, and has been taking weekly classes, there’s no way to know what they’re trained to deal with. Some recreational schools will get into practical applications for their martial art, and offer it as an optional advanced class for their students. At that point, it’s entirely dependent on her instructor if she gets in (as an adult, these would probably be open to her if she wanted). It’s also, depressingly common for a martial arts school to offer, “self-defense,” classes that are just their normal curriculum with a different advertising hook. A class like this will not prepare your character for a self-defense situation.

For reference: If you’re taking a self defense class, and the discussion doesn’t include a serious discussion on situational awareness, and/or your instructor puts a lot of faith in your ability to overcome via superior force then you’re probably in the wrong place. Real self-defense training focuses on creating an opening so you can retreat to safety (if possible). It’s concerned with your ability to escape the situation and survive, not your ability to win a fight. Sticking around and dealing with an assailant is something you would only want to consider very situationally.

Also, in case it’s not clear, when I’m talking about Police adapted Judo, it is not the same martial art as Judo. It was derived from Judo after the Second World War, and the modern martial art still shares some techniques, but there have been substantial modifications to it, in order to produce something functional for combat. Judo itself is intended to be a sport martial art, and not something you’d take into combat.

There’s also no way to know exactly how fast the school moves its students through, and how quickly your character would advance. These are all dependant on human interactions and how quickly they learn and internalize techniques. In a more traditional school, two years is not a lot of time, but a modern Dojo may move a lot faster. It all comes down to the instructor’s preferences.

That said, recreational martial artists are not (usually) trained for combat. There’s a fundamental disconnect between how practical martial artists approach techniques, and how recreational ones do. They’re often studying the exact same techniques, but with different goals in mind. The recreational martial artist is learning to perform it, the practical one is learning to apply it. This might not sound important, or could come across as irrelevant trivia, it’s not. This is a large part of why practical training is so much faster. You’re learning how to do things to your opponent, not how to perform the techniques correctly.

A character who’s spent two years taking a martial art in a recreational capacity, may be able to handle an untrained opponent (it’s actually, fairly likely, assuming they don’t make any critical mistakes, which is also quite possible), but may face serious issues dealing with a trained opponent (this will depend entirely on what each character’s training focused on). Someone who has trained with a practical focus will be able to take on an untrained opponent (assuming they don’t make any major mistakes or misjudge the situation). Ironically, they’re also far more likely to attempt to avoid direct confrontation, and try to defuse the situation non-violently, than a trained recreational martial artist would.

So, your character’s been training for two years, and you want to know what she can tackle. If she was simply going to a Dojo twice a week, that’s not combat ready. That may not even be combat ready, if the Dojo’s “self-defense” class was run by the same instructors who believe their decade training in a sport martial art is good enough for “the streets.”

If your character’s been training with a cop, or ex-military, relative/friend/rando, or been in police sponsored self-defense classes, then two years is more than enough time to be able to deal with an opponent.

There’s an unrelated issue that Michi would be irked if I didn’t bring up. (We both started typing up radically different responses to this question.) Mastery a term that gets tossed around a lot in fiction. In martial arts, two years isn’t long enough to master anything. It’s not enough time to master the basics, it’s certainly not enough time to master advanced techniques. Mastery reflects a very high baseline of skill, and can easily take decades of dedicated training. A character can become proficient in elements of a martial art fairly quickly. That is to say, they can perform them correctly, and present a solid (or effective) technique. But, mastery, in this context, is a much higher bar to hit, and not one a character will reach within the first few years of starting a martial art.

There’s one last thing, “hold her own,” is a very difficult goal. Unarmed combat doesn’t tend to equalize out like this. You either win, lose, or wear each other out in fairly short order. Combat is extremely tiring, it’s part of why real self-defense tends to focus on creating an opening and escaping. Sticking around and trying to win a fight through attrition is a losing proposition for nearly everyone. Getting a good clean shot in on someone is usually enough to create the distance you need to escape. It’s not, “winning,” but, if all you need to do is retreat, that’s all you need. If you’re going to stick around, then the goal is to take your opponent down quickly and decisively. Unarmed combat doesn’t allow for protracted dueling the way Wuxia films present it.

-Starke

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