Michaelmas 2022

September 29, 2022 - Leave a Response

 

Gerard David St. Michael Altarpiece

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O Michael of the Angels
And the righteous in Heaven,
Shield thou my soul
With the shade of thy sword;
Shield thou my soul
On Earth and in Heaven;

From foes upon Earth,
From foes beneath Earth,
From foes in concealment,
Protect and encircle
My soul ‘neath thy wing,
Oh my soul with the shade of thy wing!

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Happy Michaelmas! Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, pray for us!

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-Isaac””

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9,000 Days

August 4, 2022 - Leave a Response

Isaac’s Log—Stardate: 2022.215, 2 days before the Nones of August (Week 1,286, Day 6).
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As of today (well, technically yesterday now, since this post is being published after midnight), I’m nine thousand days old. It feels a lot like the world’s kind of a different place since the last time I wrote a one-thousand dieversary blog post—which I guess seems pretty fair, given the war in Europe, a (thankfully failed) coup d’état attempt in my own country, and the ongoing, global pandemic that have all been part of this bizarre reality in the time that’s passed since then. On a more personal level, it feels like a good deal has happened, both good and bad, in just the past few months since I wrote a blog post of any decent length; which I get seems to be kind of a common theme to my journaling, but it’s especially true in this case.
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My parents split up again back in May—I can’t really say that I was substantially more cognizant about what was all going on between them compared to the first time, but I guess that that’s autism for you—so that’s been a whole thing. Mommy also had an accidental exposure to the coronavirus that month (the person who had it didn’t know that they were sick at the time), so the three of us all ended up getting it—I haven’t been able to get a booster shot since late last year; but I fortunately still didn’t get as sick as the last time I’m pretty sure I caught the virus a couple of years ago, back before any vaccines were out, although it was still definitely not fun. The really irritating thing is that it took like over a month for us to get over the symptoms; I didn’t end up with like a scary cough like Levi, but I did have loads of these really awful mouth sores. Not to be too graphic, but they were unquestionably the worst part of getting the virus for me this time around; one was so big that I was able to fit part of my tongue under the lesion it left when it broke, I felt pretty sure that it would probably leave some kind of weird scar inside my mouth—but luckily the buccal mucosa apparently heal really well, so that’s good at least. My head always gets worse when I’m sick, so I had days where I wasn’t getting up out of bed much, and the sores messed up the nerves in my mouth so that an old cavity (which is the only one I’ve ever had and hadn’t bothered me for years) was suddenly giving me a lot of pain. It ended up backing down a good deal eventually (although it still hurts whenever I have something really hot or cold, and I try to be careful to only chew on one side of my mouth)—especially after, thanks to Mommy’s help, I started doing a better job at keeping it clean—but I should probably still go in and see a dentist for it eventually, especially since I apparently have wisdom teeth coming in now; I’ve just only been in to see one once, back when I was four, and it was a pretty unpleasant experience, so I can’t say that I’m really anxious to go.
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In really positive news, now that I’m generally managing the pain from my head injury a little better with the new medication, I’m hoping to actually take college classes. I’ve been more seriously considering college for about a year and a half, and I spent the past few months researching a bunch of different ones; I know that most autistics don’t get the opportunity to go, and many who do don’t graduate due to a general lack of accessibility, so I really wanted to find one that gave me the best chance at success. In the end, both considering my current level of independence (or lack thereof) right now and where things are with the pandemic, I’m going to start with just taking classes online for the time being. Thanks to Mommy’s help with sorting out my high school transcripts (I was homeschooled, but was registered in an umbrella school as a teenager), back in May I was able to apply to the same school she’s currently attending, and I was actually accepted! I was both really nervous (I hadn’t technically done any college-level work since a little bit before my TBI, and I didn’t do enough for it to be accredited) and excited to find out that I would actually be a college student, but right now I’m mostly just excited. This is definitely something that wasn’t on my radar back when I had my head injury (which was over six years ago now as of last month, and over a quarter of my life ago as of October 8th), or even just a thousand days ago, so that’s actually really cool. I should start my first class next month; I scored well on my placement test for English, but I’m more nervous about my math one—which I was all pumped up to take last Friday, but didn’t get to due to some scheduling mishap; I suppose the positive side is that now I at least have more time to brush up on my math skills before I get to actually take the test.
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I often feel pretty dejected and discouraged when the anniversary of my TBI comes around, but this year I was mostly just happy to be alive (I recently read about a guy, younger than me, who died due to his head trauma; which is super sad, but definitely put some things into perspective), and that I get to see where my weird life goes next. I’m guessing that I’ll be stuck with a lot of my TBI symptoms for the long haul, no matter how well I’m able to manage the pain with medication and such; but I’m hoping that, with more formal education under my belt, I’ll have a better chance at actually getting a job I can both actually realistically work at consistently and earn enough to make a living. Right now I’m enrolled in an accelerated information technology program, so I should be able to graduate in three years instead of four—which I’m a fan of, since I feel like I’m starting this chapter of my life a little late, plus I already have some background in computer science—and I’m hoping that it’ll provide a good foundation for getting a master’s in library science down the road. I realize that I wouldn’t be finished with that until half a decade from now at the earliest, but it probably can’t hurt to think in the long term; and it’s nice for me to have something tangible in mind to work towards, as far as having work that I’d probably really enjoy and wouldn’t be too physically demanding for my head. I’m sure that figuring out a good balance between schoolwork and the amount of rest I need for my head will be a challenge—considering it’s already a challenge listening to my body enough to know whether I’m having a day where I can help out with housework and do fun projects or one where my head won’t let me stand long enough to take a shower—but right now I’m feeling pretty hopeful that it’ll be one that I’m up to, and I’m actually looking forward to having a new adventure. So watch out, math test! There’s an autistic guy with a head injury heading your way, and he has a Twist ‘n Write pencil!
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Sandy, Katie, and Tami came out to visit us on June 25th, and they stayed the night. Tami brought a lot of cookies that she baked for us with a whole pineapple, and she prepared a whole bunch of chicken for us to use in our meals. Katie brought her Switch, with extra controllers so that Levi and I could both play with her; I’d never played on the Switch before, and she was able to show us the new Smash Bros., Mario Kart (Levi still somehow dominated, I guess some of the skills are transferrable), her Animal Crossing farm, and this other game I don’t remember the name of. In the morning, Sandy and Katie cleaned up like the whole garage for us, and organized it so that it’d be easier for us to find and get to the different cans and dry goods we’ve been keeping there; which was really kind of them, especially considering that that weekend basically had the only really hot days we’ve had here all summer (thankfully, since we’re on the coast, the weather didn’t get warmer than like 86 °F / 30 °C, and we haven’t really been affected by the heat wave that’s been so intense for the rest of the state, but it’s still definitely not comfortable when working out in a garage without air conditioning).
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On the Fourth of July, we celebrated by popping popcorn, watching the fireworks at the Washington Monument online, and hunkering down while some of our neighbours set off their own fireworks—which they’d already been setting off for days prior, and continued to do so for a few days afterwards (on July 1st I jokingly said that they must be Canadians). No one asked me, but if I made the rules my fellow patriots would be patriotic sans sound pollution.
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We went all out for Christmas in July this year; Mommy even brought home stockings for Levi and me, which she filled with all sorts of amazing snacks, and even bought new toy fish for us to give to the cats. She also baked brownies, and made a really amazing chicken dinner with baby carrots, corn, sweet potatoes, and even cranberry sauce! We all watched Frosty Returns in Levi’s room together, and looked up a few funny Muppets clips of Rowlf and Fozzie; Levi and I also showed Mommy the Mario peace anthem that Brian David Gilbert made a few years ago. It was one of the most fun Christmas in Julys that I’ve had; since we celebrated it this year the same day as the anniversary of my head injury (which is pretty common—my TBI was on July 24th back in 2016, so our consistent Christmas in July celebrations predate it by three years), it also felt like an enjoyable way to turn what could have been a dispiriting day into something joyous.
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Papa and Grandma visited us last Saturday; it’d been a little over a year since I’d last seen them in person, which is definitely the longest in my life. Stephie came along with them to surprise us, and Mommy was the most shocked to see someone she loved since Uncle Andrew surprised her when I was a kid. I talked about books with Stephie, and was feeling well enough that I was able to help Papa wash both of the cars. Tami sent us more cookies, Papa sliced up a watermelon and made his family-famous spaghetti (with gluten-free noodles, so we could all eat it), while Grandma made us fruit salad and brought us a bunch of little bags of popcorn.
Papa Jeff and Ramona came over the next day; Papa Jeff gave me a cool ham radio doodad for connecting my radio to my laptop, we all watched some videos on YouTube together (including a movie of Bill’s which had won him three different prizes at a Portland film festival), and Mommy made amazing guacamole hamburgers for everybody.
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All right, switching gears now, let’s talk TV shows! For the next two paragraphs, there’ll be spoilers for Ascendance of a Bookworm and the new Obi-Wan Kenobi show, so if you haven’t seen either then you can definitely skip them (I mean the paragraphs, not the shows). The finale for Ascendance of a Bookworm‘s third season aired on June 13th (well, Pacific Time; in Japan it was already the 14th), and holy cannoli, it was so incredible. Main’s magic showdown with Count Bindewald was awesome and just so beautifully animated, her parting with her family was heartbreaking, and the plot twists and reveals were so cool. I had guessed that Sylvester might be Ferdinand’s brother, although I assumed he was the younger of the two, but Mommy was the one who managed to guess somehow that Sylvester was actually Lord Ehrenfest himself. So now Main’s been adopted not just by a noble, but by the highest-ranking one in the city, so hopefully she shouldn’t have too many problems now in pursuing her printing dreams with reckless abandon (and kind of unintentionally kickstarting the Renaissance); Ferdinand’s officially her uncle now, too, which is also pretty great. It goes without saying that I’ve really enjoyed watching this series; I’m consistently impressed with how well it’s been able to both significantly raise the story’s stakes while keeping itself grounded in its characters—this season in particular had much more intense, action-packed scenes than the previous two, but the show still remembers to slow down for quieter moments with Main’s inventions and interactions with her friends and family. I don’t know for sure whether it’s been renewed for another season yet, but I’m really hoping so; I’ve only looked into the light novels and mangas a little bit, but it’s my understanding that there’s still a whole lot of Main’s story out there for the showrunners to use. It still feels weird not having our Bookworm Mondays anymore, and I’m hoping that they’ll be a thing again next year.
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All right, now let’s move on to Star Wars! Just in case you’re skimming this blog post, this paragraph will have some spoilers for the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series, so caveat lector! Back on May 27th, the day that the first two episodes of the show came out, Mommy bought us each our own big bag of popcorn, and made little homemade, gluten-free pizzas for us with chicken and pepperonis for our watch party; and I still don’t think we went overboard, because wow, both episodes were just so amazing! I went into this show without really knowing anything beyond what I’d seen in trailers, so I honestly had no clue that Leia would be in the series at all, much less basically be its deuteragonist. Obi-Wan’s kind of father-daughter relationship with Leia—played by the precociously talented Vivien Blair, who was obviously younger than her character’s age at the time of filming, and really deserves way more credit for acting on the same level as a veteran thespian like Ewan McGregor—paired with his dynamic with Anakin, is really what makes the story work so well. I love Obi-Wan’s description of the Force to Leia so much, and how her past with him in this story really fleshed out why she trusts him so much to reach out to him in the original movie. Besides Leia’s front-and-center inclusion in the show (something which I really wish Carrie Fisher had lived to see), I was also really surprised to learn both that Obi-Wan had never heard that Anakin had survived their fight on Mustafar, and that he hadn’t yet succeeded at getting in contact with Qui-Gon. Seeing Obi-Wan have to grapple with understanding who Anakin was and who he became was both heartbreaking and incredibly absorbing, and I really appreciated how much the writers were able to really focus on Leia’s similarities to both Anakin and Padmé. That evening when I first watched the show, I went away feeling like it could turn out to be my most favourite Star Wars thing ever, depending on which direction that they took it in, and I think that they really nailed the ending overall (Obi-Wan’s final showdown in the show with Vader has to be one of the coolest lightsaber duels ever). I also felt better about it being a miniseries—rather than of a longer show like The Mandalorian or The Book of Boba Fett—once I realized that the story was aiming to be more of the Leia and Obi-Wan space road trip adventure we never knew we desperately needed, coupled with Obi-Wan’s search for closure with his brother he thought he’d killed years ago; it’s a single story told in different parts, rather than a series of different adventures. I had pretty high hopes for the show, Obi-Wan’s been my favourite Jedi for years (I’m guessing he’s a pretty common favourite, especially given that he’s the first that audiences met), and I think that the story really lived up to the hype. I love so many things about this series; John Williams came back to write the score for the whole show, the acting is superb, and the effects are topnotch (I really like the way that they rendered the lightsaber blades in particular, it comes across as different from how they looked in the sequel series, which I also enjoyed, but they really strike a really nice visual chord that’s both deadly and beautiful). If you haven’t had the chance to see the show yet, definitely give it a watch when you have the chance.
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We’re in the last half of the final season in our annual summer rewatch of Avatar: The Last Airbender, so we’re at the point where we finally have Zuko as a part of Team Avatar! Mommy has only watched the whole series through twice I’m pretty sure; her first time she joined us in season two, and she didn’t see any of it with Levi and me last year, so a lot of the episodes are more suspenseful for her since she’s more remembering what happens in the moment. This year it’s particularly exciting, since three feature-length Avatar movies have just been announced, the first of which we learned last month would be all about Aang and company, which sounds totally awesome. I’m really looking forward to getting to see so many of my favourite characters in something new that’s not only in a comic book or fan fiction, and I hope that the show’s creators do a great job with the story.
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In other news, Roe v. Wade was overturned back on June 24th, which is pretty huge; I don’t expect a whole lot to change in Oregon, at least in the near-term (no pun intended), aside from more people probably coming to get abortions from out of state, and maybe a few more hate crimes committed against parishes and pregnancy resource centers. On an entirely unrelated note, I’ve been getting to volunteer online with People’s Town Hall; I’ve been to I guess more than a few town halls that they’ve hosted for senators and such, and I really admire their work, but I only thought of asking what I could do to help out fairly recently. I don’t know how much time I’ll have for it once school starts up, but it’s been really great to finally get to volunteer again even just a little bit. I’ve also managed to stay above 120 lbs (about 54.4 kg) for like the past four months, which is super awesome for me; I haven’t reached 130 yet (which was around where I was when I was like seventeen), but even when I was pretty sick and lost some weight I never dropped below 120, so that’s really cool. The only thing that’s different about my diet is that Mommy’s been super careful about making sure I don’t get any trace gluten (we have one of those big, four-slot toasters, so she’s been using two slots exclusively for gluten-free bread), and I’m not getting in trouble anymore for snacking. I’m pretty short, so I don’t think that I need to weigh like a ton more to be healthy; but it’s definitely good to have a few more pounds for when I’m sick, so I have some to lose without getting really dangerously underweight.
Levi recently bought us three new games on the PlayStation as like a Christmas in July thing. He bought a game called Wargroove, which we’d played on his old Windows computer together back before it broke. He usually beats me; but I somehow managed to win the first match we played on console, despite not knowing what all of the rules were (I’m reasonably certain that there are still more that I don’t know). The second game he bought was a surprise for me: A really fun, co-op game called Nine Parchments. You play as these magic students on a quest to recover missing parchments from this magic school, and the mechanics it uses for casting different spells is very cool; it’s a load of fun to play with a friend, and I highly recommend it. The third game was one that I had shown interest in earlier, called Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin; we often look at different game trailers on the PlayStation and riff them MST3K-style, and Sakuna’s was one of the few that actually made me really curious. The gameplay is a little bit difficult to explain; take like a 3D Stardew Valley, mix it with Smash Bros. kind of 2D fighting, add in a pinch of dinner conversation ranging from poop jokes to religious inquiry, put in a whole lot of rice hulling and menu planning, and you get Sakuna. I’ve only played the game off and on for a few days, but the basic story is that this young goddess named Sakuna gets exiled with a bunch of humans on this island infested full of demons, and literally your entire main goal is just to grow rice. Since Sakuna is the daughter of both a harvest goddess and a warrior god, the more rice she grows the more powerful she becomes while hunting demons, and the more demons you hunt the more meat you get to bring back home. I’m someone that often just skips over enemies in a game if I can, but having your main goal being to feed yourself and your like adopted family really puts a lot of the violence involved in hunting for demon rabbit meat in a different light, and I quickly found myself actually actively seeking and chasing down different enemies (I guess the closest comparison I can think of as far as games is like how many buffalo you might find yourself shooting without hesitation in The Oregon Trail). Part of what made me think about checking out the game was that it seemed like something that would be fun to play in the room with Levi when he’s too tired to use a controller, and in particular wouldn’t be too exciting for his heart while still being fun to watch (I mean watch in a looser sense here; even though I’m the technically the one playing, Levi’s a pretty major reason I’ve been able to get as far as I have, he’s really great at spotting things I miss and making sure that I don’t get lost). On the whole, the game’s a lot of fun, the graphics are very pretty (especially with the way it renders water and shadows), and its soundtrack is criminally catchy; so if you think that it might be something that would be up your alley, definitely check it out.
The weather the past few weeks has been really nice, and I’ve been getting outside more. Lately Mommy started reading When Marnie Was There to us semi-regularly on either the front or back porch; she’s never read the book before, and I’ve only read it through all of the way once, even though it’s one of my favourite stories, so that’s been really enjoyable—it’s also just really fun hearing the story’s descriptions of the beach when I actually live at the beach now.
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I’m probably biased, since I saw the movie first, but the Ghibli version is honestly a really great adaption.

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That’s all that I have for today. Stay safe, please at least consider wearing a mask when you go out for the sake of the immunocompromised, and слава Україні!
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Today’s Question: What’s one of your favourite, non-musical sounds? I really like the sound that the wind makes when it blows through bamboo; we have a whole bunch someone planted as like a property barrier between our backyard and our neighbours’ back in the day, so I get to hear it fairly often. It sounds almost like rain in this quietly sublime kind of way; I wish that I was better at describing it, I guess it does still have sort of a musical quality to it, it sounds sort of like if sunshine could whisper.
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Today’s Joke: This joke’s one of my new favourites: An Englishman, a Frenchman, a Spaniard, and a German are all watching a street performer juggling. The juggler notices that the four men have a very poor view, so he stands up on a large, wooden box and calls out, “Can you all see me now?”
“Yes.”
“Oui.”
“Sí.”
“Ja.”
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-Isaac““
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A Prayer for Guidance

July 16, 2022 - Leave a Response

O God of All, my Life and my Righteousness,
Grant me Your Wisdom to know what is right,
Your Courage to do what is right,
And Your Love to do it rightly,
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Give me the grace to find You in my work,
To thank You in my prayer,
To praise You in my play,
To see You in the hated,
To hear You in the silenced,
And to love You in the forgotten,
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Your Compassion guiding my steps,
Your Word teaching my mind,
And Your Spirit lighting my heart,
That I may walk in Your way until my final breath,
Praise Your Name until my last words,
And serve You in Your children until my final day,
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Loving Father, make me a channel of Your grace in this world and in the world to come,
That Your Life may be born in my heart,
And that I may live, die, and rise by Your Love.
Amen.

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I came up with this prayer this evening; the first part was probably an unpremeditated riff on Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer (the one made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous), and the rest just kind of went off in its own direction. The prayer should also be okay for Calvinists and Lutherans, just by changing the first line to like “God of All Life and Righteousness” or something similar.
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I’ve been sitting on this GIF for over two years, just waiting to get to use it in context.

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-Isaac““
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Pentecost 2022

June 5, 2022 - Leave a Response

Pentecostés (Juan Bautista Maíno, 17th century, small).
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Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Your love.
Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created,
and You shall renew the face of the earth.
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Let us pray.
O God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructed the hearts of the faithful,
grant that, by the same Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Happy Pentecost!
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-Isaac““
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Easter 2022 (Scilicet, Isaac’s Super Ticked but Also Still Really Likes Cartoons)

May 13, 2022 - Leave a Response

Isaac’s Log—Stardate: 2022.133, 2 days before the Ides of May (Week 1,275, Day 1).
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He has risen!
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So, it’s been a pretty long time since I last blogged in any great detail about what’s been going on in my life and what I’ve been up to. I feel like a lot has happened that I want to talk about, it’s been nearly a month since Easter and I haven’t even written a little about it; so I’ll try to cover as much ground as I can, even if the end result is a little laconic and desultory.
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As of this week, over a million Americans have died of COVID-19. I can’t say that I didn’t see where the numbers were going, but it’s still very upsetting. What’s really asinine is that Oregon ended its mask mandate back in March (it was one of the last states to do so), despite the fact that cases are higher now than they were at the same time last year (not to mention cases surging in Asia and Europe, which of course they do every single time before they start surging here in our hemisphere). To say that this was a premature decision by the state government would be an understatement; and I strongly suspect that it was made less in light of the actual data they had on hand, and more just because we have the midterm elections coming up soon—and politicians don’t want to lose votes from the ableist, apathetic, or just hopelessly ignorant and misinformed. I’m genuinely not totally sure whether it’s more sardonic of me to think that I’m right and it was largely out of political expediency, or if we just keep electing people who are genuinely so incompetent they can’t spot really obvious patterns and make intelligent decisions that will help protect the public welfare. So now a huge amount of people are basically acting as if the pandemic is over; and it’s honestly really bizarre, it’s like they’re living in a different reality (aside from the fact that their actions are still endangering the vulnerable). I generally try my best to interpret others’ words and actions as charitably as is reasonable, but it’s difficult when it seems like the only logical explanations for some people’s behaviour other than malice are apathy or stupidity. The whole situation is incredibly frustrating, it’s definitely cemented the idea in my mind that this whole hyper-individualism thing we have going on just isn’t sustainable in any longterm capacity; and I’m genuinely scared of going anywhere now, even though I’ve been boosted and of course wear a mask even though it’s optional now. I knew that things would only get worse when it was announced that they’d get rid of pretty commonsense protection measures with this whole plague situation still very much a thing; basically I was expecting cases to rebound, like when they removed mask mandates last July, and all I could really do was hope I was wrong, but of course I unfortunately wasn’t. It’s just so unbelievably exasperating, it’s not like we don’t have institutions in place to provide us with information so we can figure out what to do and when; OHSU even put a thing out saying how cases were going to rise if the state just prematurely removed mask mandates at this point in the pandemic, but people in charge apparently just ignored science again. Mommy’s absolutely swamped with work, and higher-ups frequently change protocols and shuffle people around on different tracing teams, which doesn’t make her job any easier. Apparently they’re also changing how they measure outbreaks in schools from a small set number of students to a percentage of all students in a given school, so in bigger schools you could have loads of sick kids without the government even counting it as an outbreak. Thankfully cases still haven’t spiked as high as they did after last Christmas; but, again, they’re still higher than they were last year back when we still had measures in place and at least some state governments had a shred of backbone when it came to protecting the vulnerable from a deadly disease. I don’t know what the heck is going to happen with the midterms coming up, Oregon’s state GOP straight up put anti-mask and anti-vaccine mandate stances in their freaking party statement in the voter’s guide—and, flipping through it, it’s difficult to find Republican candidates who don’t have some kind of position reflecting that. Since I started being able to vote, I’ve always had to weed through a few nutjobs in tinfoil hats, but a whole lot of it has just become mainstream; it’s just so absolutely insane, like freaking germ theory shouldn’t be a real political issue! And somehow we need to elect a new governor who will take the pandemic seriously, which frankly leadership in neither party is doing a great job at, but with Republicans right now it’s just past the point of all reason. I genuinely thought that I’d have to like do a lot of research on each candidate to make sure that they weren’t someone who, say, doesn’t believe vaccines are the Devil, or that Catholics are poisoning the water (no, really; it’s genuinely concerning how common hatred of that variety has become, and how slow party leaders on either side of the aisle have generally been to even kind of condemn it, if it’s mentioned at all; like it’s always been an element in American society, but now I think it’s easily the most explicit it’s been since JFK ran); in particular I figured if candidates were even a little anti-vaccine they’d mostly keep it to themselves, but the one plus to the their asininity is that they literally write in stances like that when they send in their stuff for the voter’s guide. I’m not totally sure how things will shake out here in Oregon, what with the vote for whoever’s going to represent the new congressional district and everything, but in the big picture I’m guessing that Democrats will most likely lose majorities in both the Senate and the House at this point (nationally, obviously, not in the state legislature)—partially because that’s just what often happens in the midterms after a party wins the presidential election, although I had hope that the backlash at least wouldn’t be that bad, what with their getting a more centrist president elected, but a lot of them are clearly too sheltered to realize that they’re alienating loads of moderates and single-issue voters by pushing their whole on-demand-abortion-absolutely-no-exceptions-or-you-hate-women rhetoric after the Supreme Court leak (not to mention how oblivious many seem to the possibility that the whole “my body, my choice” argument just might leave a bad taste in some people’s mouths after it’s been used so much by the anti-mask and anti-vaccine crowd).
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Meanwhile, thousands of people are dying in Ukraine, many of them noncombatants explicitly being targeted by the Russians, and over twelve million people have been displaced—all due to Putin playing war crimes bingo while the rest of the world mostly just kind of sits the whole situation out. It’s incredibly sad, I’m immensely disappointed in my country’s leadership; I know that things would be even worse if Trump were still running things with his weird crush on Putin, but the way the current administration has made it clear that it’s perfectly happy to pat itself on the back for just not buying Russians’ junk and not selling them any of ours—while dragging its feet on providing any really meaningful aid, and kind of failing to realize that there’s way more at stake here than just higher gas prices—is beyond pathetic. I remember learning about Germany’s invasion of Poland back at the start of World War II, and thinking how nuts it would be nowadays if America did mostly nothing for years while another major player on the world stage invaded another country purely for territorial gain, but apparently we’ve learned nothing and history repeats itself ad nauseam. Congress managing to resurrect Lend-Lease and providing financial aid to Ukraine (despite the best efforts of the pro-Russian wing of the Republican Party, the existence of which I’m sure has Reagan spinning in his grave, and isolationist or just straight up pusillanimous Democrats) is absolutely a step in the right direction, and I’m glad that we apparently haven’t been stingy about sharing our intelligence to help Ukrainian forces in the fight for their own freedom, but I still think that loads of lives could have been saved had we actually fortified the country and put all of the sanctions we have on Russia now before the invasion actually started, back when Putin was still just stacking forces on the border like he was playing Civilization. I just don’t get why the same nation that intervened when Iraq invaded Kuwait, which doesn’t even pretend to be a democracy, doesn’t have the mettle to intervene in any really concrete way in Ukraine when the ideal of rule by the people itself is at stake. I understand why people fall for Putin’s bullying when he touts the nuclear capabilities I think we can all agree he shouldn’t have; but, last I checked, Iraq supposedly having weapons of mass destruction was a reason for military intervention not even that long ago. The people of Ukraine have put up one heck of a fight, they’ve consistently defied expectations and proven once again that it’s not just numbers that win a battle, but they absolutely should not have to be fighting Putin on their own. Sincerely, though, what the heck is the point of spending so much of our money on our military, to the point that it’s the best funded in the world, if we’re not willing to rise to the occasion when it really matters? Maybe I’m just a little too hawkish if I’m thinking like this, but America’s superpower status isn’t something that should be taken for granted; if we never actually back up our encouraging words with concrete action when circumstances require it, even when another major power is literally committing genocide against a foreign country’s citizens all in the name of some stupid Soviet revanchism, then what does it matter how many tanks we’ve built or jets we fly? We’re essentially surrendering our space on the world stage, and what America is really about, to a hostile power while the liberty and balance of power in Europe are at stake and more and more people are dying.
What’s been really upsetting on a personal level is that Daddy was in Ukraine himself just a little over three years ago; and now many of his friends there are dead, a lot of the places he’d seen have been reduced to rubble, and watching how unbelievably sad it’s made him while not really being able to do anything about it is one of the worst feelings ever. I tried looking for volunteer opportunities to help out with Ukraine’s war effort while I wait for my country to get its act together; and at one point it seemed like I’d end up with an organization I could work with stateside that could really make a difference, but essentially its primary infrastructure literally blew up due to Putin’s barbarity.
On an interesting historical note, perhaps the only positive thing to come out of all of this is that Putin’s aggression and paranoia about NATO has entirely backfired; it’s not only strengthened the alliance to probably its highest point since the fall of the Soviet Union, but now even countries that technically stayed neutral throughout the Cold War are wanting to join (for obvious reasons). It’s weird and terrifying basically watching history unfold so violently; and it hurts when you really want to help and mostly all you can do is pray, but I have to remember that it still matters.
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Okay, shifting tone now from crimes against humanity to cosmically insignificant, First World problems. Back in late March, as a result of multiple bad decisions on my part, one of which entailed assuming competency on my computer’s part, I managed to basically wreck my hard drive while attempting to reformat it. The whole situation was one frustration after another, and complicated by the fact that I was already nonverbal at the time and so couldn’t easily communicate a lot of stuff specific to computers when Mommy came to help.
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WordGirl_FrustratingDay
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Fortunately, thanks to Mommy’s technical and moral support, and her ordering a boot stick from Amazon, I was able to technically resolve the problem five days afterwards. What I ended up having to do was totally wipe the computer, reinstall the OS from the boot stick, and then use my old laptop that broke in January as a backup to restore all of my files up to that point in time. At that point I was too relieved to have a working computer again to be super upset about losing two months’ worth of work; but the good news is that basically all of the important stuff that I’d worked on since January had either been backed up online (I’ve never been more grateful that I’m in the habit of journaling my thoughts online like this, instead of just keeping everything on my hard drive) or shared with Levi, so with his help I was able to restore the bulk of the work I’d done on my big projects. I’m really glad that I had uploaded a minor update of Esther Has No Voice really recently, that Itch lets you download files you uploaded earlier so I didn’t have to recreate all that I’d written, and that I had just finished my first serious attempt at a piano and cello duet and exported it from sheet music to sound files (one of which Levi had on his computer, and one of which I’d uploaded to YouTube with a looping video of the sunset I’d taken at the beach). It sounds cliché, but the moral of the story is remember to backup at least important stuff if you can. Also, I may be haunted by gremlins.
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Levi turned twenty-one on March 30th; it’s a weird thought that my little brother is technically old enough now to go to bars and stuff. I was able to surprise him with Hilda books, which I was really happy I was able to do, since they’d ended up being shipped much sooner than anticipated and I had been hiding them in my room for some time without managing to say anything about them. He and I had reheated Chinese food and popsicles for lunch while we watched Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro in his room, which we’d only watched once before (which had been a library copy with a scratch on the disk, so there was this big part in the climax we’d never actually seen). In the evening, we had nachos for dinner and all hung out in Levi’s room to watch one of the new Mystery Science Theater 3000 shorts. Before we went to bed, Levi and I played Battlefront II on the PlayStation, and then synced up the audio from one of our favourite muted show games with an episode of The Legend of Korra (called The Kegend of Laura in this case). I think that Levi had a good birthday overall, and I’m glad that I was able to be up for so much of it.
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Uncle Jim, Aunt Janet, Cousin Matt, and his girlfriend, Kathryn, came out to spend a vacation at the coast, so they stopped by and visited us for a short while on April 1st. I hadn’t seen any of them in person for a long time, so it was great to get to see them all. The next day, Sandy, Katie, and Tami came out to spend the night; Tami stayed in Daddy’s office, and Sandy and Katie bunked out in the dining room. Levi and I had fun playing Brawlhalla with Katie on the PlayStation in Levi’s room (we were able to play it with her more recently over the Internet, too, checking out a bunch of the different modes the game has), and Tami brought a great big cake she had baked to celebrate Levi’s twenty-first birthday a couple of days after the fact. Before they left the next day, Sandy and Katie watched some of The Last Airbender on our big TV, and even though I wasn’t verbal that morning it was great to see them.
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We had snow of all things a week before Easter, which was definitely weird for the time of year but very pretty. We had a lot of doctor appointments that week; I met with my new primary care provider on Maundy Thursday, which turned out to actually be pretty productive, and he prescribed me a new medication specifically for nerve pain (more on that later) that’s helped me handle the pain from my TBI a good deal so far; and Levi had appointments at the local hospital on April 11th and on Good Friday, and from the 12th to the 13th (Silent Wednesday; and also the day I turned 8,888 days old, which I’d been counting down to for a while) he stayed overnight with Daddy at the children’s hospital at OHSU. It was super quiet at home without either of the family’s extraverts around; but Mommy reheated leftovers to make really amazing nachos, and she and I watched Ascendance of a Bookworm together on the big TV in the living room, which was really nice.
When Saturday came, I wasn’t really feeling safe about the idea of going to church when not many people would be wearing masks, although Levi really wanted to go, but he ended up not being well enough to go to the Easter Vigil anyway; so he and I stayed home and watched the Mass at the Vatican (Daddy watched a good deal of it with us, too) on the computer in his room, and Mommy brought home the Eucharist for us. The following day, Easter Sunday, Levi and I were surprised in the morning with Easter baskets that Daddy had put together, full of all sorts of delicious treats. In the evening, Daddy made an amazing turkey dinner for all of us, which we all had in Levi’s room and rented Spiderman: No Way Home to watch together on his computer. On the whole, it was a happy and quiet holiday.
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In more good news, Levi also ended up being prescribed the same nerve pain medication that I’d been taking for my head, in his case starting out at a much higher dosage, and now he’s been able to walk some for the first time in like a year. He’s had a lot more energy in general lately as well, just the other day he was sitting out on the front porch playing his guitar, which would have seemed kind of unthinkable even just a few weeks ago.
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Levi and I started watching Little Witch Academia (which I’d heard of before but never seen an episode of), the day before his birthday, and we finished the series four days later. The first season of the series was good, like I don’t remember watching it and thinking, “Wow! This is going to be one my new favourite things!” But I liked the show overall and thought it was fun; the animation was really impressive and clearly quite expensive, and the story and characters were still definitely a cut above the average. Still, I was pleasantly surprised when the series’ writing improved a lot, in my opinion, during its second season, and I ended up enjoying the story a lot more and getting much more invested than I was expecting. If you’re like me and also a little late to the party (the show came out back in 2017, and it’s on Netflix), I’d definitely recommend giving the series a watch.
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Bookworm_Main&GuntherWalkingIntoEachOther
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One of my favourite shows ever, Ascendance of a Bookworm, started airing its third season on April 11th. I’d been eagerly anticipating getting to see more of this amazing show ever since seeing the season two finale, back when I first discovered the series last July, and I was unbelievably excited when they started releasing trailers for the new season; so it’d be kind of an understatement to say that I had pretty high hopes for season three, but so far the new episodes (which have been coming out every Monday since the season premiere) have still managed to exceed my expectations. So far, the story has still managed to balance its more intense fantastical elements and worldbuilding with its grounded, slice-of-life tone really well; the music is as spectacular as always, Main continues to be the greatest isekai protagonist ever, and the show has even managed to keep including its randomly educational elements like in previous seasons (seriously, if you haven’t seen the show yet, definitely check it out if you get the chance; just be ready to laugh, cry, and probably learn way more about the Japanese version of the Dewey Decimal System and how to make paper than you’d expect). There’s a lot more that I’d like to share about this new season in particular, but Levi and I have been able to get Mommy to watch more of the series with us lately while Daddy’s been away, so I don’t want to include a lot of spoilers here. Needless to say, I can’t recommend this series enough, and it seems kind of criminally underappreciated; so far the only people whom I know who had already heard of it are my penpal up in Canada and one of Levi’s Dungeons & Dragons friends. Hopefully word about the show gets out a bit more in the Anglosphere, so I can get more people to talk to about the show while I’m still getting beyond a toddler’s grasp of Japanese.
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In other animation news, Amphibia‘s last episode is set to air tomorrow. Levi and I have really enjoyed watching the series together, and I’m sad that we won’t be getting new episodes anymore, but I’m also really excited to see how they wrap up the story. It’s been a lot of fun getting to see all of the main characters change and grow over the course of the show, and I’m hoping that whatever happens the story will have a happy ending and Anne will still get to see her frog family; so don’t make her leave her friends in Narnia, Matt Braly! Anne’s no pushover, she’ll take Narnia home with her through the wardrobe if she has to!
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Lately I’ve also been reading graphic novels from the library by Ben Hatke. I honestly sometimes have a hard time following the action or conversational flow in comics when they’re just even a little more complex than ones you’d find in a newspaper, I can get unsure about which panel I’m supposed to read first and what order they go in, but so far all of his books have been I guess well choreographed enough that I’m able to enjoy their stories without getting too confused most of the time. I started out by reading Mighty Jack, which is this really unique retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk in a more modern setting. A lot of the book’s characters are charmingly unique and specific; Jack is joined in his adventure by his mostly nonverbal autistic little sister, Maddy, and his homeschooled neighbour, Lilly (whose older brothers are exchange students in Spain). I can’t honestly remember the exact circumstances of how I first stumbled upon the series, but I remember Maddy’s autism being mentioned in passing and being intrigued, since autistic characters, especially of the more nonverbal variety, aren’t exactly staples in fiction (especially in stories that aren’t about autism specifically). It was also cool to see a little homeschooler representation, since that’s also pretty rare (and rarer still not just as the butt of a joke). I’ll try not to go into spoilers much here either, but I will say that the first book ended on a cliffhanger, so if you’re reading copies from the library I’d recommend checking out its sequel at the same time. The next book in the Mighty Jack series is a crossover with Zita the Spacegirl, which I actually had heard of before but never read, so before reading that I read through that whole trilogy (which is also excellent, and really fun at times) so that I’d be all caught up. I also checked out Ben Hatke’s Little Robot book, although I haven’t read it yet; and I actually reached out to Mr. Hatke by email after finishing the first two Mighty Jack books, and it turns out that he’s a pretty nice guy.
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I’ve been sick for a while, although thankfully to less of a degree now than even like a week ago. It’s never fun being really sick, but I know that I’m lucky to live in a country where vaccines are available, so even if I catch the coronavirus I’m a lot less likely to have to go to the hospital.
In unrelated news, recently, due to me not realizing that one of my squirt bottles was spilling, my bible ended up getting soaked all the way from Genesis to Esther; Mommy’s my hero, because even though that it was late when I found out, she helped me save it by drying out each page with a hair dyer so that they wouldn’t stick together (so basically exactly like how Bob dries out the books in The Incredibles). So, a note for posterity if they notice the water damage: No, that wasn’t your Aunt Hannah, it was that way before she had it.
Last week, Daddy went to the Philippines for work; one kind of fun but weird thing is that, because of when his flight left and when it crossed the International Date Line, he ended up technically skipping a day. In other news, Sable learned how to play fetch with toy mice and it’s the most adorable thing ever, I’ve been learning Morse code, I finally finished the Esperanto course on Duolingo (so I’ve technically finished two whole courses now, since it’s my second after German); and Levi and I started this really fun, fictional epistolary project, which we’ve talked about maybe sharing online later.
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We’re a little less than two weeks away now from the Feast of the Ascension, commemorating the day God took the humanity that had become a part of Himself—through birth to death, and through death to new life—from the world we live in up to the Paradise our first parents had been barred from entering; and how Jesus left the Church with a mission, that His Father’s will be done here on Earth as it is in Heaven. Even when the future of that mission looks bleak, when it is difficult to see traces of Heaven in a present world that includes such intense violence and suffering for so many, we can remember the story about how God looked at this same messed up, pugnacious, brutal, pestiferous world, and loved it—so much so that He was willing to give His life for it; to die in the most cruel, painful, and ignominious way known to the classical world, just so that He could raise us up both with Him and to Himself. He left the apostles with this story to tell, the Good News (technically the “spel” part of Gōdspel, Old English for Gospel, means both news and story; it’s also where we get the word for spell, as in an incantation)—the story of a suffering, dying, and rising God. A story about the paradoxical challenge to see the greatest Good in the greatest pain and suffering, to genuinely love those who hate you most, and to live your life trying your best to build a better world as it constantly falls apart. Stories, whether true or made up, are powerful things; you’ll find storytelling in literally every culture throughout the world, because stories are part of what help make us human, creators made in the image of our Creator. Stories are a gift to be shared with each other, to help us celebrate the good and live through the bad; and the fun and incredible thing is that God can be seen both in the hopeful story He tells us, and even in the goofy ones we tell ourselves. God manifests Himself to us both in prayer and in play, in work and in rest, in war and in peace, in life and in death, on Earth and in Heaven; and I think that that’s pretty cool of Him.
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He has risen, indeed!
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Today’s Question: What are some of your favourite songs?
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Today’s Joke(s): Three today! First, a belated Star Wars Day joke: What did Yoda say when he saw himself in 4k?
“HDMI.”
(That’s one that kind of works better out loud than written down).
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Next, a belated Mother’s Day joke: Why was the cookie so happy to see his mom on Mother’s Day?
Because he had been a wafer so long.
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And, lastly, here’s one that I came up with the other day: What’s WordGirl’s favourite pastry?
A synonym roll.
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WordGirl_TwoBrainsKaraoke
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-Isaac““
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To the Mountain

April 28, 2022 - Leave a Response

I recently started drawing in Krita; most of what I’ve worked on so far is trying to get better at character design. Here’s a recent example, from one of the frames I drew to match the audio for Levi’s character, Riley, from “Small Sorceress Scholasticism” (our “muted show game” improv for Little Witch Academia; I was particular happy with her design, since it was one of the times where I didn’t really have to draw directly from a reference).
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Riley.
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Besides improving how I draw characters, I really want to get better at backgrounds, particularly landscapes. I also wanted to experiment with drawing first, and then colouring in everything afterwards. With those things in mind, this is what I drew this evening for practice.
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ToTheMountain(Coloured).
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I’m overall pretty happy with the way the piece turned out, especially since it was my first real try at something like this. It took me around forty-five minutes to finish all of the different colouring layers, although a lot of that time was spent just figuring out how Krita works. I tried to fill in the colour kind of lightly in most areas, to make it look a little more like a painting (and make the sky look cloudier). Probably the most challenging part of the whole project was figuring out how to draw characters much smaller than I’m used to.
For comparison, here’s what it all looked like after I’d drawn the lines, but prior to filling in anything with colour.
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-Isaac““
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Erratum Corrige

April 5, 2022 - Leave a Response

I went down a fascinating rabbit hole last night, investigating something that confused me; but I actually found the bottom, so this story has a happy ending.
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I was reading the life of St. Taurinus in the English translation of Orderic Vitalis’ Ecclesiastical History, because I was curious about the etymology of the word goblin—and the dictionary let me know that, although it’s likely related to the German Kobold, our version of the word comes from Old French’s gobelin, and that Gobelinus was the Latin name of a spirit who was supposed to haunt Évreux in Normandy back in the 1100s. The demon in question was said to have been exorcised centuries prior by St. Taurinus (Évreux’s first bishop) from a temple of Diana, punished by being frozen in place and forced to watch the conversion of the pagan populace it once tormented. This is pretty interesting stuff in of itself, but not actually what I’m here to talk about today; I’m here to set the record straight on a mistranslation (and a little inaccurate mythology that started as a result of it).
Orderic Vitalis’ life of St. Taurinus is extraordinary, even by medieval hagiographical standards, but I’d argue that the most inexplicable part of the story you’ll notice in apparently not a few translations isn’t any of the the saint’s numerous miracles, but the fact that the narrative randomly calls a demon he’s exorcising “Zabulon“—capitalized just like that, like it’s its name. The fact that it’s so completely out of the blue with zero introduction, as though the story’s audience should already be familiar with who exactly Zabulon is, is pretty weird in of itself; the other confusing part for me is that demons in stories, in the relatively uncommon instances where they are given names at all, usually get them from vices (Asmodeus ultimately comes from Avestan for “anger spirit”) or Canaanite gods (such as Beelzebul)—but the only Zabulon I know of is the biblical patriarch, one of Jacob’s sons (in most modern translations his name is more commonly spelled Zebulun). And while the tribe of Zebulun was one of the ten who parted ways with Judah, I still can’t think of any places in the Bible where the name is ever used negatively, even as like a poetical proxy like you might see with Edom or Moab. So why in the medieval world, possible antisemitism notwithstanding, would a hagiography have a demon named after one of the forebears of the people of Israel?
The short answer is it doesn’t; and, thanks to living in an era where the Internet is a thing, I was able to figure out what “Zabulon” was supposed to be after about forty-five minutes of googling. The folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland (probably more popularly known for writing Aradia, or the Gospel of Witches), in his 1892 book, Etruscan Roman Remains in Popular Tradition, quotes from this exact section of Orderic Vitalis’ work on St. Taurinus. His translation is similar to Thomas Forester’s 1854 translation linked to above, with the narrative likewise randomly calling the exorcised spirit Zabulon. Helpfully, Leland includes the Latin he’s translating from, which says, “Zabulon que”.
However, in an 1840 collection that includes the Latin original I was finally able to find (thank you, Fr. Jacques Paul Migne, rest in Heaven’s library), the text clearly reads, “Zabulumque”. Zabulum is the accusative singular of zabulus, which is an alternative spelling of diabolus, “devil” (hence where we get the word diabolical).
So the whole cause of this Zabulon confusion apparently just stems from someone centuries ago mistaking an M for an N, and the sentence should just be translated like, “Then Taurinus entered the temple of Diana, and compelled the demon, by the power of God, to stand visible before all the people, at which spectacle the heathen multitude was greatly terrified.
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What I find baffling is that multiple generations of scholars published books either reproducing the Zabulon typographical error verbatim, or referenced and even expanded on it (in Dr. Lucy Allen Paton’s case in her 1903 work, Studies in the Fairy Mythology of Arthurian Romance, she mistakes it for the name of a species of demon), even though it makes no sense in context. I understand that it was a lot more difficult even just a few decades ago to get access to original works and check for mistakes like this, but it still surprises me.
I’m currently not entirely sure whom I can reach out to who aren’t dead to correct the error, maybe in future editions of those books publishers can at least include a footnote to explain what it’s supposed to say, but hopefully for now this sets the record straight enough that we don’t end up with zabulons as enemies in the seventy-third edition of Dungeons & Dragons or something like that.
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-Isaac““
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Jokes for Pi Day

March 14, 2022 - Leave a Response

Pi

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Happy Pi Day (also, Happy Albert Einstein’s Birthday)!
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To help celebrate our favourite irrational number, here are a few pi-related jokes.
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Why did pi fail its driving test? Because it didn’t know when to stop.
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What do you call 1.57? Half a pi.
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What do you call it when a bunch of sheep stand around in a circle? Shepherd’s pi.
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“Pi R squared,” said the mathematician.
“No,” says the baker, “Pies are round, cakes are square.”
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One of my favourite foods has a radius of z and depth of a; its volume is pizza (pi•z•z•a).
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What do you get when you divide a jack-o-lantern by its diameter? Pumpkin pi.
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What did pi say to the circle? You look radian today.

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And, finally, here’s a bonus joke that’s more infinity-related than pi-related.
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An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar.
The first one says, “I’ll have a beer.”
The second one says, “I’ll have half a beer.”
The third says, “I’ll have a quarter of a beer.”
Before the fourth one can speak, the barman fills up exactly two glasses of beer and serves them, then just shakes his head and says, “You guys really have to learn your limits.”
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-Isaac““
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“Twosday”

February 22, 2022 - Leave a Response

Isaac’s Log—Stardate: 2022.53, 7 days before the Calends of March (Week 1,263, Day 5).
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Happy “Twosday”!
Just in case anyone forgot to take a look at their calendar today, today is 2/22/2022, the date with the most twos of this century! I made sure to watch the time this afternoon so that I could see 2:22 (and I even saw 2:22:22 AM, since my computer’s clock has seconds and I stayed up too late last night looking for work); but, if you happened to miss it, you still have a chance to see 10:22 PM (22:22 in military time). Every day until the end of this month will be a palindrome date (just including the two digits of the year), but we won’t get another Tuesday on a 2/22/22 date until 2422.
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So, you might be wondering, other than excitedly anticipating calendric palindromes, what have I been up to this past month? Well, here’s a quick rundown of the major things that have been going on in my life.
The day after my last blog post, Mommy and Daddy were driving on a part of the coastal highway with no cell service when they hit black ice, and their car went right into a guardrail (thank God it was there and they didn’t go into the ocean). They fortunately weren’t hurt, and they were able to call a tow truck with the assistance of a young couple who stopped to help them out. Since it took a while for them to get cell service again, I had no clue about the accident until hours after the fact; so, when I found out, I was mostly just relieved that they were okay. Other than the lack of injuries, the really good news is that the car actually ended up being much cheaper to fix than I think any of us were expecting (we only have liability car insurance). So, on the whole, the ordeal turned out about as well as a car wreck in an area without cell coverage can.
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A week later, on January 29th, Mommy and Daddy brought home a new cat that Levi had been wanting to adopt for a while. Her name is Sable, we think that she’s like a Maine Coon / Ragdoll mix. She’s very sweet, she adapted to her new home surprisingly quickly, and she and Jasper mostly get along pretty well (even though we’ve only had her for less than a month, he already seems a lot less anxious and depressed just by having another cat around, and the exercise she gives him is definitely doing him good). Her fur is basically all black except for her tummy, so she’s quite difficult to get a good picture of even with the flash on.
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Sable (2:12:2022 @ 2;13 PM, Favourites)

Sable (2/12/22 @ 2;13 PM).

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In the following days, I decided to take the plunge and finally take my Technician Class license exam. It’d been a goal of mine to get my ham radio license for basically half of my life (when I was twelve I had a receiver Papa Jeff gave me that I’d use to listen to morse code), but I’d never taken the test, so this felt like a pretty big deal. I had already basically studied enough to take the exam over a year ago, but, between me naïvely expecting to be able to just wait a little while to take it in person (back when people thought the pandemic was winding to a close last summer), not having a bunch of energy to study back when I was in therapy, and then having months’ worth of technical difficulties, I still hadn’t scheduled a remote exam. It had even been a while since I had taken just a practice exam, but I decided to start brushing up on my ham radio knowledge once I had a computer that functioned reliably. I made it to the point where I was averaging around eighty percent on the practice exams, which, although technically a passing grade, I was still concerned meant that I hadn’t learned enough of the material to pass the test; but I eventually realized that waiting until I was absolutely certain I’d pass might mean I’d just never take the exam, and I figured having an actual deadline would make me study more religiously, so I found some friendly proctors in Hawaii who run remote exams, and scheduled one about a week in advance. Their standard protocol for payment was mailing a check; none of us keep checkbooks around, but they were fortunately really flexible, and Daddy was able to work out paying for the exam using PayPal. In the days leading up to the test, I took a practice exam online at least once a day (often multiple times), and finally the big day arrived. The exam was scheduled for 5:30 PM on February 5th; but 5:30 in Hawaii time is 7:30 here, so I was able to take it after resting a little after I came home from Mass. It was originally going to be me and one other guy taking the exam, but he had to pull out at the last minute, so it was just me and the three proctors. I was pretty nervous, but the guys were super nice and pretty relaxed. There were thirty-five questions in all, and I ended up getting what felt like a bunch that I wasn’t sure of; but my head held up (even though I’d just been out and about), I answered enough of them correctly, and I passed! I was super happy that I passed on my first try, and the proctors said welcome and to try contacting them over the ocean sometime. With the exam behind me, I was genuinely excited about finding out what my callsign would be and getting on the air. Papa Jeff was happy for me, too; when I was a kid, he said that he’d give me my first radio once I was licensed, so he was really excited to have me pick out one of his spare radios once he found out I’d passed. What’s really cool is that, after I had taken the exam, Mommy decided to retake it the following Saturday (she had her license as a kid, but she had to take it again since the grace period for renewing her old license expired a few years ago) from the same group, and she also passed on her first try! So now we’re both licensed, and Papa Jeff mailed us each a handheld transceiver, which both made it here last Wednesday; I’m still figuring out all of the ins and outs of mine with all of the different features it has, but I was able to make my first contact (Mommy, KK7DPE) at 5:24 PM that same day, so that’s awesome. My callsign is KK7DLZ (Daddy even bought this really nice wooden plaque of it to hang in my room), which in the NATO phonetic alphabet is Kilo-kilo-seven-delta-lima-zulu, which is a lot of fun to say; it also has a really fun rhythm in morse code: Dah-dit-dah, dah-dit-dah, dah-dah-dit-dit-dit, dah-dit-dit, dit-dah-dit-dit, dah-dah-dit-dit.
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Callsign Sign (2:18:2022 @ 1;07 PM)

My callsign sign!

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So, as of yesterday, Russia’s invading Ukraine even more than it already has. I understand why Biden is playing it cautious and has only implemented some sanctions so far, since he still wants to have cards to play that aren’t military related when Russia takes even more territory; and I get that he and other world leaders besides Putin are all obviously reticent to let what’s happening in Europe spiral out into another world war, but I genuinely doubt that anything short of actual military support is going to make Putin change his mind—he knew what sanctions the West had in mind before we put them in place, and he’s made it clear that he and his giant tables with nothing on them don’t really give a rip about them; and, based on his speech yesterday, I’m honestly not going to be surprised if he’s going to eventually go after the whole former Eastern Bloc if he doesn’t get any more concrete resistance in Ukraine. Both America and Britain recognized Ukraine’s right to its land and security when they signed on to the Budapest Memorandum back in 1994, and just waiting for things to get worse when a major global power is actively trying to annex even more of the nation than it already has is a pretty major dereliction of duty, not to mention setting a terrible world precedent when it comes to territorial integrity and the legitimacy of elected government. I am grateful that at least right now we don’t have Trump still in office to lick Putin’s boots, I’m just really hoping that Biden’s response is ultimately significantly stronger than Obama’s was with Crimea eight years ago. I don’t know what the heck is going to happen, the world’s already had enough death with the pandemic to have to deal with bloodshed created by Putin’s asininity, but I think if we mostly just let him get what he wants more lives are going to be lost; better to stop Hitler before he’s taken Czechoslovakia than waiting until he invades Poland. I do really want to be able to help Ukraine, and serve my own country; I know that, even without my TBI, I’d probably be more of a liability than not with anything having to do with loud guns and explosions, but maybe I’d be able to make a difference with like a civilian government job or something like that.
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Regardless of whether World War III has basically started, I’m trying my best to be grateful for the little things in my life; and there’s a lot of great stuff to be thankful for. We’re finally getting the first pictures from the James Webb Space Telescope, John Williams is coming back to compose for Obi-Wan Kenobi, my penpal up in Canada sent me a really nice postcard, and there’s this bird that apparently has its nest in a tree not far from my window. I don’t know birds really well, and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen it, so I don’t know what species it is; but I know that it’s the nocturnal kind because it tends to sing really consistently every night, usually around midnight. It doesn’t sound like an owl, either, it has this sweet, monosyllabic “Cheep! Cheep!” kind of call at pretty regular intervals.
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WordGirl_FourthWall.
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Another cool thing that I’m grateful for is that WordGirl has randomly gone kind of viral! I don’t know why my favourite show’s suddenly being memed to Lexicon and back, but I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s also really cool seeing a bunch of people getting introduced to the show for the first time; I don’t know why some people get like annoyed when a thing they really like suddenly grows exponentially popular, it’s a lot of fun having your “Hey, which episode is this from?” type of knowledge suddenly be in a lot of demand—and this is definitely the first time that I’ve been in the position where people who grew up having cable all of the time are asking me about a show they missed out on as kids, usually it’s the other way around!
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WordGirl_TwoBrainsChazz
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Well, that’s all I have for now. Take care, stay safe, and be on the lookout for palindromes!
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Today’s Question: I might as well go really specific; what’s your favourite WordGirl episode?
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Today’s Joke: I made some fish tacos, but all they did was ignore them and swim away.
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-Isaac““
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Fellow Pro-Lifers, Please Get Vaccinated

January 21, 2022 - 2 Responses

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Thousands attended the National March for Life today in Washington, D.C., although there were apparently some in the pro-life movement who considered boycotting the event this year—and not out of concern for having such a large gathering of people without requiring masks during this pandemic (again, for however worthy the cause), but to protest the city’s government for recently issuing stricter regulations to help combat the Omicron surge. Multiple pro-life groups have not only gone on record for griping about such commonsense anti-pandemic measures, but even maintain that this constitutes a deliberate attempt by the mayor to sabotage the march, with one activist rhetorically asking how she couldn’t know that “pro-lifers are among those least likely to be vaccinated”.
Now, I haven’t found any polling data comparing COVID-19 vaccine acceptance of people opposed to abortion versus the national average, so I can’t honestly confirm the veracity of that statement; but there is enough information out there to make an educated guess. The American pro-life crowd, notwithstanding a few secular groups (such as Secular Pro-Life and Rehumanize International), is mainly represented by religious organizations, and the movement is largely composed of a political alliance of Evangelicals, Catholics, Latter-day Saints, and Jehovah’s Witnesses; so, given that White Evangelicals have the lowest vaccination rate among Americans, while Catholics (despite our American bishops, to put it mildly, presenting less of a united front than I’d like when it comes to advocating for COVID-19 shots, not to mention some Catholic media outlets taking a borderline schismatic attitude towards the Pope’s public statements regarding the moral obligation vaccination entails) have one of the highest (a difference that was actually noted even earlier in the pandemic), I’d expect that a nationally representative survey of the pro-life movement would probably find a religious divide of one degree or another when it comes to vaccine acceptance.
Whichever way you look at it, though, enough of the pro-life movement has an issue with vaccination that it’s become an actual talking point, and the way so many of my fellow pro-lifers have behaved in the years since this pandemic started is beyond frustrating. How did so many of the same people supporting the 2019 March for Life—the theme of which, as many may recall, was “Pro-Life Is Pro-Science”—end up just over a year later opposing people wearing masks as a means of curtailing the transmission of a deadly airborne virus, and a year after that refusing to get vaccinated against said virus? I expressed some of my frustrations with pro-life leaders last year; but, in the time since, it seems like the asininity in so many parts of the movement has only become worse. Now, some of the same people who ridiculed pro-choice arguments have literally co-opted their rhetoric verbatim without a hint of irony, putting individual liberty at the expense of others’ wellbeing; and I might be as pro-life as people get, but I’m not about to pretend that the effort of getting a shot is anywhere near the sacrifice entailed in carrying a baby to term and giving birth. The lack of self-awareness of people who are supposed to be standing up for the most vulnerable, supposed to be standing up for life in all of its stages, but can’t recognize the incongruity of pro-lifers being “among those least likely to be vaccinated” during a plague that’s killed hundreds of thousands in our country alone, has to be one of the most disappointingly ironic things I’ve ever seen. What’s perhaps most exasperating is that our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is likely the pro-life litmus test of our generation—a chance to show the world that we’re not just a movement that simply opposes abortion, but that we’re willing to put in the work to protect the lives of those around us and help them flourish as fellow human beings, and that we won’t back down from our principles the moment they require us to actually make some kind of real effort.
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If, like I do, you believe fetuses are children, and you want to truly protect their lives at all stages; then please, if you haven’t been vaccinated yet and you don’t have some genuine medical reason not to, get vaccinated for those who are too young to get their shots.
If, like I do, you believe that Black preborn lives matter; please get vaccinated for the sake of born Black Americans, who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
If, like I do, you believe people have the right to live dignified lives to a ripe old age; please get vaccinated for the sake of the elderly, who are some of the most likely to die of this virus.
Please, no matter how invincible you might think you are, get vaccinated for the sake of those most vulnerable in this pandemic.
Vaccination isn’t just about protecting ourselves, it’s about protecting the lives of our families and neighbours. For people who consider themselves pro-life and understand germ theory, doing whatever we can to protect the lives of those around us from a deadly disease should be a no-brainer. Let’s all do our part, so that we can close the book on this sad part of human history sooner rather than later.
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-Isaac““
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