“Don’t worry, kid.“ Blitz brought out the silken cord. “This rope can’t be weakened. And Hearthstone’s right. We might as well tie it to one another for safety.” “That way if we fall,” Sam said, “We’ll fall together.” “Sold,” I said, trying to tamp down my anxiety. “I love dying with friends.”
It took an explosion and 13 pounds of iron to usher in the modern era of neuroscience.
In 1848, a 25-year-old railroad worker named Phineas Gage was blowing up rocks to clear the way for a new rail line in Cavendish, Vt. He would drill a hole, place an explosive charge, then pack in sand using a 13-pound metal bar known as a tamping iron.
But in this instance, the metal bar created a spark that touched off the charge. That, in turn, “drove this tamping iron up and out of the hole, through his left cheek, behind his eye socket, and out of the top of his head,” says Jack Van Horn, an associate professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
Gage didn’t die. But the tamping iron destroyed much of his brain’s left frontal lobe, and Gage’s once even-tempered personality changed dramatically.
“He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity, which was not previously his custom,” wrote John Martyn Harlow, the physician who treated Gage after the accident.
This sudden personality transformation is why Gage shows up in so many medical textbooks, says Malcolm Macmillan, an honorary professor at the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences and the author of An Odd Kind of Fame: Stories of Phineas Gage.
“He was the first case where you could say fairly definitely that injury to the brain produced some kind of change in personality,” Macmillan says.
Phineas Gage is one of the most famous patients in the history of neuroscience. He was 25 years old when he experienced a serious accident at his work place, where a tamping iron was shot through his head - entering under his eye socket at exiting through the top of his head - after an explosive charge went off. The tamping iron was over a metre long, and after exiting Gage’s head landed 25m away.
Initially Gage collapsed and went into minor convlusions, but recovered quickly and was able to speak after a few minutes. He walked with little assistance to an ox-cart and was brought to a nearby physician. Initially the physician did not believe his story because he was in such good condition, but was convinced when:
Mr. G. got up and vomited; the effort of vomiting pressed out about half a teacupful of the brain, which fell upon the floor.
Gage exhibited a number of dramatic behavioural changes following the accident. Harlow, the physician who initially treated Gage, described this change “He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference for his fellows, impatient of restraint or advice when it conflicts with his desires”. However the surgeon Henry Jacob Bigelow described his condition as improving over the course of recovery, stated he was “quite recovered in faculties of body and mind”. This may have been early evidence of neural plasticity. This recovery was also reported by a physician who knew Gage while he lived in Chile, who described his ability to hold on a full time job as a Concord coach driver, a job that required exceptional social skills.
Gage’s neurological deficits following his traumatic brain injury is thought to have been exaggerated and distorted over the course of history, to the point that he is often portrayed as a ‘psychopath’. Scientific analysis of the historical accounts of Gage’s life following his accident, namely by the psychologist Malcolm Macmillan, find that these distorted accounts are most likely untrue, and that Gage made a very good recovery.
Post-mortem analysis of the Gage case concluded that it was the left frontal lobe that was damaged in the accident, although further neurological damage may have resulted from infection. Combined examination of the Phineas Gage case with the other famous cases of Tan and H.M. have concluded that social behaviour, memory, and language are dependent on the co-ordination of a number of different brain areas rather than a single region.
The Domestic Garden Witch: Pocket-Sized Green Thumb
So maybe you’re a college witch with limited space and money, limited to the one window in your dorm. Or, maybe you’re a witch without extensive backyard space who wants to start up a magical garden. Perhaps you’re a kitchen witch who wants the freshest herbs right at her fingertips.
For many witches, having a garden seems to be a bit of a no-brainer. After all, plants and magic go hand-in-hand. Plus, when thinking of a witch, it’s hard not to think of a cottage in the woods with a little vegetable garden out front. Unfortunately for the majority of us, our cottage in the woods is a tiny flat, and our garden out front is a windowsill with limited space.
This is when it comes time to embrace your craftiness and bring your garden indoors! Not only does it place your garden in a convenient location, it also allows you to freshen the air, recycle what would otherwise harm the earth, and embrace your witchy green thumb!
An Excuse to Have More Wine!
Okay, so this is a cute and somewhat family oriented garden. It breaks away from the more meditation-oriented garden from last week, and strays away from the initial intensity of terrariums. But it sticks to the simplicity and ease of care that you would have with any succulents!
With midterms and various other tests plaguing our college witches, there’s sure to be plenty of wine being consumed in order to ease that tension. (Or, if you’re like me, your excuse for having a lot of wine is the fact that you “cook” with it.) Regardless, corks are often seen as nothing more than a tedious obstacle blocking your way to the delicious and happy-inducing fermented grape juice inside the bottle. Well, to most folks, anyway… I’ll leave the significance of corks in wine bottling to one of my kitchen witchery posts. So when all is said and done, many corks end up just being thrown away by the end of the night.
Succulents come in a range of shapes, colors, and sizes, from the massive saguaro to the tiny rock plants. But what makes them so easy to care for is the fact that often they can easily root from clippings and they require very little water in order to survive.
Corks, meanwhile, are great at maintaining low levels of moisture for extended periods of time, providing an ideal potting source for succulents. As such, it only makes sense to bring a bit of green into the home by using the corks as a pot!
You Know the Drill…
All you need (aside from the wine) is a cork, a drill with two bits (a quarter inch bit and a smaller bit for making a leading hole), potting soil, a little bit of aquarium gravel, and some clippings from small succulents.
Using the smaller bit, drill a leading hole into the cork, being careful to avoid drilling all the way through it. Then, use the larger bit to widen the hole so as to turn your cork into a miniature pot. Add a little bit of potting soil, followed by your clipping. Add a little more soil and gently tamp it down to secure the clipping into place, and decorate with a little bit of aquarium gravel. It’s as simple as that!
A common use for these plants is to glue a magnet to the back, allowing the succulents to serve as living refrigerator magnets. For me, I see these adorable little succulents being great gifts or even cute decorations for the small dorm room.
As I’ve mentioned, not much care is needed beyond watering every ten days or so. You can use a dropper to administer the water, or carefully use a small spoon to apply water.
How Can I Witch This?
Succulents vary greatly in their magickal uses. Jade plants are exceptional for inviting wealth into the home, whereas agave is great for attracting sweet and positive energies. Coordinate your plants with what your intent is. The cork itself can be decorated with runes, sigils, symbols, et cetera, or can even be studded with crystals!
If you’re going for the magnet idea, you can take a green spin on the concept of crystal grids, and instead create a succulent grid right there on your refrigerator, using the intent from the plants to attract the energies you want much in the same way as you would arrange crystals!
As mentioned before, these little plants make for great gifts, and therefore can be used as spells for others, as well. Aloe for healing, or jade for prosperity, et cetera.
If you’re trying to practice discreetly, these plants are a great way to do so!
And lastly, you can place crystals in the bottom of the hole you’ve drilled to correspond to the intent of the plant or to encourage health for the plant. This is a great way to practice a little bit of garden witchery in a very small setting!
Play around and get creative with the different ways that you can work with these little succulents to brighten your dorm or window!
characterization, filters, and characterization to be found in the lack of filters
Talking about Jane earlier got me thinking, you know, Jane is not at all the only character that uses this device to show off the less desirable traits lurking in the psyche of all these damaged teens. Like. So many characters have these lurking deep seated issues that stay hidden deep down because the characters are pretty good at projecting a less damaged and more together version of themselves.
If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s a fucking outrageously relatable quality and part of what makes the Homestuck characters RESONATE so much. Why they feel like they have all this dimension and depth that makes us grab on to them and never want to let go.
I’m just going to run through some examples here while I’m thinking about it. The first OBVIOUSLY since thinking about her is what got me going on this – Jane. Crockertier Jane removing the layers of self-imposed filter on Jane’s festering insecurity, entitlement issues, jealousy and so on. I’ve already talked enough about that today.
Grimbark Jade! You notice Jade says what she’s thinking WAY more easily while she’s mind controlled, and she still sounds like herself – she sounds kinda like she does when she’s owning Karkat repeatedly, doesn’t she? Because angry Jade has that same effect of pushing her nice girl filter aside and letting the angry witch (not a cutesy slur, her literal witch class) within fly free. Grimbark Jade tells us that behind that nice girl front Jade Harley actually thinks some pretty uncharitable thoughts sometimes, she just keeps a tight fucking lid on it because – well, don’t most people? Relatable as fuck.
Jadesprite! Since we’re talking about Jade anyway. Jade likes to think she has everything together, that her visions from Skaia and her scientific prowess and the tools her Grandpa left her are more than enough to handle everything that comes her way, she’s independent, she’s capable, she’s certainly never LONELY oh no of course not certainly never CRUSHINGLY OVERWHELMED by the responsibility of her own existence nah those are weak feelings for weak girls who aren’t as awesome as Jade! And then – Jadesprite. Why do you think Jade got SO ANGRY at Jadesprite? Because she was being confronted with something she knew deep down was a reflection of weaknesses in herself (totally normal ones that her later arc reinforced were a mistake to pretend weren’t there – Loneliness and fear and regret are all tied in with Jade’s character progression and learning how to deal with those things is where I imagine her arc would have gone if Homstuck’s ending hadn’t been the literary equivalent of chopping off a limb and cauterizing the wound.) Jadesprite is Jade without the filter of implacable strength Jade imposes on herself to fuckin cope with living on a hell island with the stuffed corpse of her grandpa who she grew up thinking literally killed himself at BEST. god damn
Davesprite. Dave Strider with a slow long agonizing depressing arc wherein he realizes his coolkid persona won’t make anyone think of him as their best friend anymore, and in the absence of the security that persona afforded him when he was The Real Dave he has no idea what to do with himself. He’s lost, he feels aimless, untethered, incapable of being happy – and yes, Davesprite is his own character, but you can still infer a lot from Dave’s character about him – for instance, how he completely ties his self worth up in how useful he is to his friends or how worthwhile they find him and has no idea how to even BEGIN the hard journey of looking within for worth instead of relying eternally on changeable external sources. Davesprite is Dave not WITHOUT a filter but certainly with a VERY DIFFERENT one.
Homestuck does this with almost every single damn character on its roster at some point. Shows a version of them with a different or lesser or completely missing filter to highlight flaws and issues and internal struggles of all kinds.
Homestuck is a damn deep dive into an exercise about analyzing nature vs nurture and what we’re predisposed to do and what comes from within and what is put upon us by forces out of our control, and how that line is blurry and messy and everyone has the potential to be either the worst or best version of themselves. Even Caliborn was given a choice. Hussie-The-Character explained it to him at great painstaking length.
There are so many other examples. Jasprose is Rose without a filter, and the way Jasprose goes around gleefully calling every hot girl she sees hot and delighting smugly in knowing more than just about anyone else and lording over the information and playing smarter-than-thou games – that tells us a LOT about Rose! A LOT about what sort of urges Rose tamps down on every day in an effort to just be fucking cool!
I bet you have things like this with yourself, right? Doesn’t everyone?
Tricksters! Look at how they act. They’re not themselves but there is plenty to glean from them. Jane immediately goes for Jake, the object of her desire, to pursue an exaggerated version of her idealized future. Trickster Jake is a passive fucking ragdoll who immediately acquiesces to everything everyone demands of him because their happiness becomes his happiness – Jake hates confrontation, so Trickster Jake is just a fucking doormat. Roxy goes for Jake AND Dirk because divorced from the guilt she normally feels for harboring desire toward either one of them she knows exactly what she wants! ETC ETC. Of course they would never do any of this shit if they weren’t high as balls and incapable of understanding the meaning of the word “consequence.” That’s the point. Seeing what they do in this situation is an interesting window in!
Brain Ghost Dirk is a version of Jake (yes, of Jake, not Dirk) without a specific filter Jake runs his own personality through before he’s comfortable presenting it to others, and you’ll notice, it’s EXTREMELY biting and critical sometimes. Jake knows what he’s about. He just buries it most of the time because that’s easier than dealing with it.
I could seriously keep going.
Homestuck loves to show us what our favorites do and say and ARE when basic filters go out the window. Those filters that most of us employ to make other people believe we don’t all have intrusive thoughts or bad desires or just plain old weaknesses we’re ashamed of and want to keep hidding at costs – or that we occasionally think things or think about doing things we would never ever ever do in real life are demolished or changed or temporarily suspended.
It’s brilliant tbh. It lets us see facets of characters that would normally never really get full spotlight reveals by their very nature, especially with protagonists.
Vriska vs (Vriska) – (Vriska) is just Vriska with some more self awareness and more willingness to let down her self-imposed filter and actually examine the shit she wants and why because watching Aranea fuck the timeline over out of motivations eerily similar to her own
hardcore shook her enough to develop in that direction.
(which makes sense since HER original motivations are copying Mindfang who IS alt-aranea lmao I love Homestuck) (Vriska) is still Vriska, it’s just a very very different lens through which to view her character.
blah blah blah blah etc there are so many examples
anyway I love Homestuck and good character writing what up
and bitty tries to move on and jack goes onto join the falconers
and there’s some falcs family get-together early on in the pre-season and bob and alicia can’t make it for Reasons
so jack invites his other family
which – is sort of a terrible idea bc Tater’s flying solo so he adopts Ransom and Holster and shenanigans happen immediately
(think Tater and Bitty doing lifts on the ice but with ransom and holster and alcohol)
and shitty’s hanging all over jack because they haven’t seen each other in weeks and he introduces himself to everyone as jack’s brother – “but not like a lame- ass biological brother, a brother of the heart” – and lardo’s somehow got all these falcs rookies following her around like little ducklings
so bits is kind of off by himself, hovering near the refreshments to monitor which pies are most popular
(he might be distancing himself from jack on purpose. he might be trying to move on. it might be really hard.)
Political correctness is the backlash. Blaming political correctness for President Trump is like blaming the civil rights movement for Jim Crow, or feminism for rape culture, or Stonewall for anti-gay hate crimes. It’s every battered wife who has been murdered by her husband when she tries to leave. It’s “I wouldn’t have to hurt you if you’d just behave.” It’s a disingenuous rationalisation peddled by people who know they did nothing to help when Trump’s Voltron of hate was gathering steam and are suddenly terrified because the stock market is crashing. Oh, now you’re afraid? Now you’re angry? Welcome. You’re late. You spent eight years obsessing over college students’ opinions on standup comedy and now a racist clown is president. Trump is a man who believes in registering Muslims, restraining black protesters with violence, building a wall on the Mexican border and non-consensually grabbing women by the genitals – and you don’t think he has a vested interest in tamping down the dissent of Muslims, black people, immigrants and women? He is institutional silencing personified. Are you sure political correctness went too far? Are you sure we were overreacting?
hey if you're still doing prompts, the time(s) someone outside of the team (or inside) mistakes aaron for andrew or the other way around?? thanks!! i love your writing!!
There should be some sort of rule, Aaron thinks, that identical twins have to avoid celebrity.
It was disarming enough to be a teenager the first time he saw his own face with nothing inside of it, like an indifferent stone likeness. Then Andrew went and got himself famous, made himself important to everyone (including Aaron). He stares out from magazine spreads with his middle finger up when Aaron goes through the checkout counter, and he follows him closely with his reputation.
He’s had patients bow out of the exam room when they heard their intern was ‘A. Minyard’. He’s had anger and relief flip toggles in his chest when he caved and bought a magazine, finding Andrew and Neil piled in Exy gear to promote a product. They looked uncommitted and severe except when they were jostled together and shot from the side, candid, staring.
It almost makes him miss the moments with the foxes when everything was as simple as watching Andrew’s face for the changes and catching the wave to the next game.
But it’s better to have the kind of work that he knows he does best, stockpiled for the rest of medical school and the rest of his life after that. It feels good to stretch on rubber gloves and distance himself from the worst sort of rot in the world.
It feels good for his feet to throb and his head to twist itself into knots, and to come home to Katelyn, who always tries to wait up for him and never can. She passes out with her legs over the armrest of their secondhand couch and her hair fanned over the cushions. He kisses her awake more often than not.
He goes for runs, sometimes, like he never did in college. It’s when his own reflection makes his neck prickle and he thinks, god, he’s here. He’s never not here. If you’re a twin you’re a member of a club, and you’re constantly in uniform.
He gets stopped on the street and asked for his autograph, and he feels comforted to know that his “piss off” is gentler than whatever Andrew would have said.
He sees his own face hoisted at pride, watches Andrew become half of a relationship that handcuffs exy to entire social movements, and it coaxes old fear into his blood. It takes some wrangling and undoing of rusted closed spigots before he realizes that he’s impressed, too.
He hates Neil out of habit. He watches the sun make new colours with Katelyn’s hair at 5 am. He puts his alarm on snooze just so he can lie there with her. He likes that his life is a can on a string, and somewhere, tossed out into another state, in a high-rise with blackout curtains and an orange cat, Andrew has the other can.
Sterek ficlet inspired by this: “i grew up not knowing i was royal and now i guess i’m heir to a throne and you’re the guy who’s supposed to be teaching me how to be royal bc i suck at it and oops we made out” au
This is kind of Princess-Diaries-ish. I know that’s been done before in this fandom (and thank god it has—it’s awesome), but I couldn’t help myself. Yay for self-indulgence!
Stiles thought the most annoying thing about suddenly being a royal heir to a small eastern European kingdom he’s never heard of would be the hyper-aggressive paparazzi, but he was dead wrong.
The most annoying thing is actually Derek Hale, the guy Stiles’ grandmother hired to teach Stiles how not to screw this up.
“Princes don’t chew with their mouths open, Stiles.”
“Princes don’t shove an entire fistful of curly fries in their mouths, Stiles.”
“Princes don’t wear pink-and-green plaid shirts from Target, Stiles.”
“Princes don’t slouch.”
They don’t slump, either, or yawn or sneeze or cough in public, or fist-pump, or drive beat-up old blue Jeeps, or wear bright colors, or rock out to the radio, or do anything fun.