Baked potatoes

Shortly after the groom-to-be left the premises, the rest of us realized that we had no plans for dining that night - and all of us were hungry. To prevent any dithering, R. quickly suggested a baked potato bar. And so we did.

Idaho potatoes, wrapped in foil, baked for half an hour... and then another ten... and then maybe another ten, to be sure the biggest ones were completely cooked through. Sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped scallions in the absence of seasonal chives... and bacon, per R.'s request (although I suspect that he was the only person to actually have any, or maybe he and the bride-to-be.) Probably a bit too fattening, but altogether satisfying.

I didn't know the baked potato bar existed before that night. I'll have to remember it for the future.


Burger, cider, yogurt, Coke

It was the first time I had seen her in just under a year. The first time any of us had seen her in that time; for some of us, maybe for even longer. Too long for all of us. Too long for her.

So of course the first course of the night was burgers.


Once I had hope

to the tune of "I Dreamed A Dream"

She spent a year across the sea
A year I waited to be near her
And now she's here, so close to me
But it's so very hard to hear her
For I'm always AFK
Her computer lies in pieces
And we only have a day
'til we're parted once again...
I'll try to write her every day
To tell my love how much I miss her
But there are no words I can say
No words to write that let me kiss her

Once I had hope my life could be
A life spent lived, and not just waiting.
But I will find a way to cope...
...and last the year without that hope.

Third Sunday of Advent

I awoke this morning to something I never thought I'd see: snow. As light as caster sugar, until it turned to sludge under the brush as I wiped it off the windshields. The sky was gray, the ground clear, the air cold as death.

Two Sundays ago the land took my mind to a world of horror. Today I knew that I had arrived.


This week in Andalusada, 12/8/2012

Sunday, 12/2/2012

After a derpy comment to R. last night, my first edit of the day was an expansion, and then a rearranging, of the 8.8mm page.
  • This led to an edit of ACP, to mention that 8.8x53mm ACP was now a cartridge...
  • I also planned to link the Black Friars into the mythos of the Palace of Granada, but while I was doing so I accidentally reverted it to a draft. Since I wasn't sure what it was called, I renamed it "the Winchester Alhambra," which is now its new URL.
  • Once that was done (and all the links to it were corrected), the next thing on my to-do list was to fill out the Black Friars themselves. Which was done, linking them (again) to the palaces of Granada.
  • Next up on the editing list: the Second Mahdist War, to establish that al-Mahdi dies on April 5th, 182?. Once that was done, the next thing to edit was (unsurprisingly) April 5th.
  • After that, my next edit was to the Occidentals, filling out some details about their relations with the Mozarabs and inventing a small number of them that emigrated after the Sodalite Revolt.
Having filled that in, I posted my one new post of the day: the Sodalite Revolt itself. It's still very WIPpy, but that's to be expected.
  • Which called for a significant cleanup of the Sodality itself.
  • And, in turn, an expansion of the post on Dystopian Catholic France to mention the Bastard Prince, and the occasion of his bastardy.
And so to bed.


Lost my wallet

First thought to cross my mind when I remember being fully awake: fuck. What time was I meeting with P. again? And so I showered, shaved, toweled off, dressed up, hopped in the car, pulled on my coat, and made for the center of town as fast as I possibly could.

I remember looking at my watch and realizing it was 12:30-12:40ish. I also remember looking at the sign on the library door, CLOSED - and feeling like a fool, for forgetting that it wasn't even open until 1:00. And so, since I had the time, I decided to take a walk. I wandered to one end of town, and put this year's last overseas letter to the Love in the mail; I stopped at a few places en route to the other side of town, wondering if they had any college-ruled paper to refill my supplies, much depleted from the start of the school year by averaging 10+ pages of correspondence each week.

Then I realized that I couldn't find my wallet. I furiously backtracked, as fast as I could - no luck. Scoured the car, turning both of the seats up - not there. Got down on all fours and ducked my head to look under the cars in the parking lot - not there either.

So I drove back home and furiously searched my coats, my shirts, my pants. Not there. And on that note, I made back for the center of town as fast as I possibly could, for the appointment with P.

And the appointment with J. after that.

And then I drove back home again, and resumed the search. Cleaned the floor - nothing. Rearranged the stacks of books - nothing. I called Mom to angst about it, repeatedly, and to sort out my plans for the morrow, when I would get all of the cards replaced.

And then, at 7:30ish, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. It was AAA, calling to let me know that somebody had reported my missing wallet, and they gave me the number to call her back. And so I did.

It turned out she'd found it at 12:30ish, within minutes of it being lost.


First Sunday of Advent

Kathy Escobar mentioned that this marks the start of one of the Refuge's darkest seasons. After the events of last night, I can second that. After the events of this morning, I can second that again.

How there was any light at all in the stained-glass windows, I will never know. The sky was as gray as William Gibson's proverbial dead channel, the ground was wet, the snow crunchy, the commons silent, still, and deathly chill. The mist took me to Ravenloft, in mind if not in body.

Every Sunday of Ordinary Time, or at least the ones I made it to, started with a processional hymn, accompanied by organ music. Today was the first exception, and the longest to date - there was no accompaniment at all, and the processional wound through the church two or three times as we sang the Great Litany. It was beautiful - right up to its jarringly abrupt ending.

In the Episcopal Church, the liturgical color of the season is blue. Even though it was visible and I had only to behold, it didn't register until it was told to me. I was startled. I was always startled, today.

The Gospel was Luke 21:25-36:
"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see "the Son of Man coming in a cloud" with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
"Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Signs, foreboding. Wars and rumors of wars. As we celebrate Advent, the readings are dark, because our celebration of the first coming flows seamlessly alongside our expectation of the second. Not for nothing was Christmas set to the days after the winter solstice: the darkening is part of the season.

As the first Sunday in Advent, today also marks the turn to Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary. Maybe that was why I had no idea why I spent this year consistently wrong about what readings were coming up next week.


This fortnight in Andalusada, 11/24/2012

This was supposed to be a weekly post (these things usually are), but due to Thanksgiving weekend I got rather derailed by stuff... so here goes.

Saturday, 11/17/2012

I didn't post anything particularly new on Saturday. Instead, I filled out a number of other things instead - starting with a significant expansion of Don Musa. His dates were settled upon (1796-1887), and his service with Caliph Yusuf was pushed back a few years because Yusuf I hired his father first (which means that I need to introduce that father for a bit, if only to kill him later.) He's also been made into a dirty old man; his first wife (who also needs introducing) predeceases him, so his wife can bear him Don Ibrahim without being nearly 60 herself; and, unlike the rest of Andalusada, his old age and death have been written in.
  • After that, a bit of editing was done for Yusuf I: his dates were written in (1772-1839), and mention of Abu Musa was made.
  • Don Ibrahim's birth year was pushed to 1860, and his formative years have been colored in more than anyone else's in Andalusada. His details - his relationship with his mother, his memories of his father, how that relates to Yusuf III - makes for the first family dynamics I've written anywhere in the blog.
  • Yusuf III also got a considerable expansion of his own.
And so to bed.


Thai food

There were two of us for dinner that night, only two of us.
And despite eating naught but leftovers for two days, we couldn't find an appetite for much.
In the end we ordered a tureen of chicken-coconut soup and a plate of pad thai.
But the soup was creamy, and the noodles were cellophaney, and the rice crackers still sizzled when you dipped them in any kind of liquid.

Thank you, Bangkok, for being there after all these years.
Thank you, for being as delicious as I've always remembered.


A winter picnic

We went to see Skyfall in Wilton (the showings closer to home were all way too late for our tastes; we'd be getting home at midnight.) It was completely sold out.

Then we doubled back to the theater in Danbury, and I hopped out and bought some tickets. For tomorrow, because it was too late for tonight. And when I came outside, and passed Mom the tickets, we ate.

Dinner tonight was served on a red plate, wrapped in plastic wrap, wrapped in tin foil. A sandwich, cold turkey and cold sambal oelek to heat it up. Too-tart cranberry sauce. A banana, because I hadn't had one in too long.

And we ate out there, sitting in the car, the oddest packed dinner I ever remember having.


Thanksgiving dinner

The turkey was a twenty-pound behemoth that Mom bought because it was the smallest one she could afford. It was brined this year. It was also butchered; I did a disgraceful job of carving it. Dad taught me better, and I was genuinely ashamed of the hatchet job I did on the beast.

The guests were two in number, an old couple that Mom met from somewhere (I think the UU meeting.) The husband was the quieter one. The wife was an old German woman, a former teacher; we hit it off instantly, and talked through a bottle of champagne about Andalusada. (It's very nice to have somebody else who knows what Low German is, and can talk intelligently about it, even though she spoke Hochdeutsch herself.)

Dinner wine was white, with a nose so soft it was almost watery. Dry, yes, but fruity for all that, and fruity without being citric, which is a nice change of pace. (Why I say that I'm not sure, because I don't drink wine on my own. Maybe because most of the beers I've had this year that described their subtle fruit notes had overpowering ones instead.)

The non-meat parts of the meal were actually the best, at least to my taste. There was an enormous amount of spinach - collard greens, mustard greens, a few other greens, at least three pounds of them, all of which I'd shredded myself the night before, but growing up I'd still call it "spinach" and I'd still hate it - with what was supposed to be a cream sauce, but wasn't, because Mom didn't make it after all; and there were steamed walnuts mixed in. Perfect. There was chow-chow (totally out of place with the rest of the meal, and cold.) Sweet potatoes, as ever, and they had been baked faultlessly; I didn't even think to butter them. And there was lingonberry sauce, brought by the guests. Lingonberries.

Pies for dessert, pies and creme de cassis for me. And ice cream. Apparently there are two places on the planet that make chocolate lace ice cream; came as a hell of a surprise to me.

A memorable meal.


This week in Andalusada, 11/17/2012

This week was much less productive than I'd hoped it would be. A big part of that was because of something that hasn't happened much before: posting on both of my blogs about convergent topics, which occupied most of my week because it took so long to write.

Saturday, 11/10/2012

Yes, I mentioned it last week too, but I got one further post up before the library closed: the Maud Missionary, which I should've written last week. (Or not.)
  • Seadling got edited a fair bit, to incorporate what I know about both Japanese pistol cartridges and to incorporate some details about Seadling as an ammunition company.
  • Hispano-Baltic Texas had its foreign affairs rewritten, to state that it has some historic ties to Taiping China through Ross.
And so to bed.


Myers-Briggs for world-building

When I demiurge, I build offices without officers, kingdoms without kings, planets without people.

Populating my worlds is hard for me. People are so concrete, and stories are so ethereal. (Thinking about it, it's kinda interesting that the fictional characters I know the most about in Andalusada - certainly the ones I've already written about, and a few others like Simon Twice-Traitor - are the ones who are at least partly mythical, and that the myth gets fleshed out before the man.) There's gonna be thousands of people that need at least names and a bit of personality, and Andalusada isn't my only world - or my last. And thus far, the non-mythical characters I've written up (and the one I invented) have stagnated as stubs. Not a good sign.

For projects on this scale, I'm going to need a way to mass-produce persons. And last night, while I was editing Don Musa, I had a breakthrough, brought to me by the words "Myers-Briggs."


This week in Andalusada: 11/10/2012

Last week was unimpressive. This one, at least, got off to a better start.

Saturday, 11/3/2012

The first thing that was posted was a serial killer, whom I'd discussed with R. last week while derping about revolver designs that never really took off.
  • While I was at it, I revised Mahdism a very little bit, not only to mention him but to specify that the Third Mahdist War was fought over a Spanish attempt at Reclamation.
  • ...and then had to revise Reclamation, where I'd called that conflict the Second Mahdist War instead.
 And so to bed.


New Toledo

I think enough in GURPS format, especially for Andalusada, that it struck me recently that I could show off and back up a great deal of this by posting it here. Towards that end, and as a test of concept, I posted a writeup for the UCNA's capital city, New Toleto (or however it's spelled; I'm honestly not sure yet.) As of 1930, a tentative writeup falls below the cutoff.


This week in Andalusada, 11/3/2012

So here we go...

Tuesday, 10/30/2012

Only one thing was posted today: Seadling, and the several links to it.
  • Evgeny the Old's writeup got cleaned up a bit. It incorporated the Regency that preceded him, about which I'll have to write more some day; it also found, for the first time, the term "polytechnical schools," which will also merit a page of their own someday.
  • Which in turn required me to specifically mention the Technical Censors, the most important graduates of the polytechnical schools.
And so to bed.


This week in Andalusada: 10/28/2012

I'm not sure how to separate the editing from the original writing here, so fuck it, I'm lumping these together. Let's take it from the top.


Sunday night was spent on gun porn: first and foremost, trying to fill out the details on Go-guns...
  • ...but then writing in some details on skopetchkas too...
  • ...and adding, and changing the layout very slightly, to derping more about 8.8mm, which was still disgracefully written as of when I signed off that night.
That's all I can honestly remember at this point.


And all for an act of kindness

So I wake up in the morning, scrub the crusts from my eyes, shower, shave, clean myself up... and it's time to make a quick $100, by driving B. down to Springfield.

B. has a gift with lottery tickets. I have never seen anybody win quite so consistently with them, and so often in such large amounts for what was put in. This time was the magic number: $1000 on a single ticket. And that meant no going down to the gas station: we were going to Springfield to cash it with the state registry.

In my name, of course. "Child support owed for nonexistent children" is a nasty problem to have, especially when it defies repeated efforts to correct it.

You know what else is a nasty problem to have? Discovering that something's wrong with your taxes, and having them hold the $1000 lottery ticket in your name while and until you get it sorted out. I still haven't, to be honest, because I spent the rest of yesterday moping, and the rest of today editing for the Student.

That was about the time I discovered that B. had not only won a thousand-dollar scratch ticket, but had also committed almost all of it before he actually had cash in hand. I was flabbergasted, and he was pissed. I am now short $820 to keep him in the good graces of his (presumably pistolwhipping) friends.

Oh, and to ice this cake: I also have to report that ticket as earned income and on taxes. That quick, easy $100 is going to cost me money.


The 21st Sunday after Pentecost

The recurring theme of the day was St. Francis, a reminder of why he's still going to show up in Andalusada: his fingerprints are too large to leave out. This morning's processional was a singing of his prayer ("Not to be consoled but to console...")


Mall Chinese food

I can't remember the last time I had mall Chinese food before last night.

It was the usual, in some ways. White rice - always white rice. Mall beef teriyaki, because it's savory and has a lot of onions and capsicums in there... and a spring roll, mostly for the grease. ...and some barbecue pork which isn't even plausibly authentically Chinese, because it's artificial-coloring red and sweet. In a lot of ways, the usual.

What set it apart was that I can't remember the last interesting meal I made in awhile... and, more than that, that the cashier asked if I want something to drink with that, and before I caught myself I said yes, water would be fine.

A small cup of water with small mall-food-court ice cubes came with the meal, and chopsticks. No Sriracha this time, because I didn't think for it. And somehow that made all the difference.

This week in Andalusada blogging: 10/20/2012

Actual new pieces:

Monday: Since I've been on a GURPS trip this last week or so, GURPS Low-Tech has been getting attention from me as well. Since I've had the idea bouncing around in my head for quite some time, and had already written up the sansing last fortnight, I (for no reason other than to maintain a regularity of posting) spat out the other world-specific sword I'm aware of: the esbat.

Tuesday: Monday night was spent reading, trying to figure out naming conventions for things and discovering something interesting: the medieval Abbey of Grandmont. To that end, on Tuesday I introduced St. Matilda, the *Dominican equivalent of St. Clare.
  • And when I was done with that, I introduced a fractious, squabbling order that provides the springboard for the Gonzalans: the Order of St. Stephen.
  • And, building on something I haven't thought about until the night before, I introduced a brand name to Andalusada: ACP.
  • And, once that was done, to one of the very few people I know nothing about in Andalusada: Guillermo I, the first fictional king of 11th-century Iberia.
  • And once that was done, I started some historiography again, in the form of what was at first titled "Plebeian Cabralia." It's changed names several times since then, but as long as the url stays .../early-brazil.html it says everything that really needs to be said.
Thursday: Thursday saw me do the single biggest dot-connecting thing I've done in weeks: not just a post, but an outline of the Burning Thirties, and of course the dot-connecting that follows something like that.
  • On a similar note, I created a page for something else that's been referenced enough to merit its own page: the Order of Saint Gonzalo.
Friday: Friday saw only one post worth mentioning: Go-guns, Andalusada's stand-in for the SMLE.


Dear you

Dear ________,

For the longest time, I thought that Carly Rae Jepsen talking about how she missed you so, so bad before she met you was incredibly, mind-bogglingly stupid. Then I started writing this letter. I've reached this sentence, and I get it now; it seems like the best way to express my feeling right now.

Because I do miss you, and we haven't even met yet.

A stranger in my own life

The tag and concept of "presence" were created because I'm really bad at it. I got that from my father.

When he was of a mind to, and he had a chance to show it off, Dad could hit some inner switch and could turn his amicability on. He could be the life of the party. A month or so ago, Mom remembered that he could be "dazzling," and the word struck me: Dad actually could turn on Bishie Sparkles if he tried.

My love says that I got that from him, but when I introspect, what I see most of him in myself is the other side of that switch: he didn't try. "It was his story," I remembered to Mom at the funeral reception, "and I was honored to be a secondary character in it." - and it's true. It was my father's world, and we were all invited into it only if and as he made it known. How much of it was the fact that he was devoted first and foremost to his art, and how much was his undiagnosed cancer, I'll never be able to say. But when I compare myself to him, I do see that: I'm in the presence of another world. [viz], and just as he can devote himself tirelessly to photography, so can I to demiurgy: attending to the art and neglecting the world of the artist.

Sometimes it's small, like not even trying to meet up with the friends last night. Other times it's bigger, like revisiting a blogger I haven't thought about in years and discovering that while I was away she became a mother.


This week, in Andalusada...

Something that's bothered me for awhile now has been my single most consistent bit of writing here: a weekly chance to show off all the work that I've done with Andalusada. I was bothered, most of all, by the fact that it was making my tags a lot less useful: not only was it using two categories of tags, "Andalusada" and "week in review," but there were so many of them that it was becoming a pain in the ass to actually find anything that wasn't related to them.

Well, no more: in a vain attempt to get Thankless Days, Dreamless Nights a bit more love, I've gone back in time and edited all of those posts (and this Saturday's upcoming one) to a new and obvious tag, "This week in Andalusada."

That's pretty much it, world. You may now resume your regularly-scheduled ignoring of this blog. Thank you.

Oblative love

For the sake of modesty, this entire sonnet lies below the cut.


Letters, mine and yours

Friday's sonnet was no mistake.

I remember when I first wrote you letters, love. The first one was a tear-streaked confession of how badly I'd destroyed my life, and I never expected to hear from you again. The next dozen or so - the ones I'd photocopied myself - were the ones I spent coming to terms with the fact that nobody had ever said "I like you" to me before you did.

I remember this year's letters, love. The ones that I'd reliably turn out once a fortnight, fifteen pages of them, all blue and (eventually) copper ink. The ones where I would sing your praises, write them beautifully and well and mail them off to you with the Amnesty International letter seals. I wrote them all through this summer, love, and you'd be adorable about getting them on Facebook.

And then, suddenly, it got hard.


The 20th Sunday after Pentecost

Prior to this morning, when I dragged my ass out of bed and hurried out the door at 10:20, I can't remember the last time I actually made it to church. There's been far too many weeks of me waking up at noon, or sometimes on time and simply getting caught in some petty excuse to not get out the door. Far too many, and too much time beating myself up for not doing so.

It's the first time I've been to a 10:30 service in months. The last time was the Second Sunday after Pentecost. And honestly, when I sat down in the usual pew, and realized that I'd forgotten my pen, one of my first distractions was the realization that it'd been 133 days since I first set foot in church, and where the hell had the time gone?


This fortnight in Andalusada: 10/13/2012

The fortnight since my last post was (forgive me) a hell of a week. If anybody actually visits this and cares, forgive me. I've had my reasons.

But it hasn't been entirely unproductive:
  • The first post of the month was a biography, specifically of Sufyan, he of the thirty-odd kids and the family named after him.
  • The next day or so was dedicated to cleaning up Urraca and, just as much, blogging about some things that I actually could write about substantially: real Iberian people.
  • And then the Church of Hungary, partly to elaborate on what it is, partly to get down some thoughts on Hungary's history during the late medieval era.
  • Tuesday last saw me increase my workload a fair bit (as if it wasn't increased enough by permanent changes to Mandarin) by a bit of simple cyphering of Polish orthography.
  • Wednesday saw me make my last significant post, hammering out a character archetype that I've had bouncing around in my head for quite some time: the Taiping Princess.
    • And, as a side effect of introducing her, defining what I mean by "skopetchka."


Epistolary form has its limits

To, more than steady, be a worthwhile boy -
Be looked on as the artist by the muse
And offer to her all the arts I use,
And make my only pride to be her joy -
As yet I can't pretend that this is true.
The letters that you say were writ so well?
Mundane dispatches from the private hell
Of waiting, ever lonesome, here for you
To come home safe. My dear, if I confess
Epistolary works to be a chore
And drudgery, and that you merit more
And better from me, would you love me less?
Forgive me, my beloved, as I seek
A better written voice with which to speak.

The logic of Andalusada and playability

Yes, yes, I've neglected this for the last two weeks. I'm lazy, and I've had a full week of excuses. Now, where was I? Ah yes. Writing about how Andalusada's been shaped by being inextricably tied up with GURPS.

Most alternate history writing makes a point of prizing plausibility. Andalusada does too, or tries to; it's why I went from this thread to this scrapbook-blog, which gets more attention than this. But because it was first GURPS, and only secondly a serious alt-history, Andalusada has another value that many TLs don't: playability.



Two envelopes on Saturday were sent
To circumnavigate the world, my dear,
En route to you. I wonder where they went,
And where they are, and struggle not to fear
That all the hours with my pen in hand
And midnight oil not have been in vain;
That all my poured-out words might not withstand
The gloom of night, or heat or snow or rain.
And pour them out I did, for you to read,
In copper and in blue transcribed my heart
In tongues of men; I poured them out indeed
For you, so many miles and months apart.

The birthday gift

It was a gray day in March, about seven months ago and about three weeks after I'd asked my sister for it, that I went outside to check the mail and found a slip for a package.

It took me a little while to realize that I was supposed to go inside and ask at the front desk for the package, but I did, and I did, and they had it. There was absolutely no evidence that it was what I'd asked for: a cardboard-brown box, sealed up with tape and marked with an Amazon sticker. Even the dimensions of the thing looked wrong somehow. At this point in time, I'm not sure if I had to sign for it or not; there's a patch of my memory that's faded out. The next thing I remember was walking around the complex, back to my room, holding it in my hands. Looking forward to cracking the tape open.

One memorable meal

My father died on February 10, 2012. His funeral was the next week.

At the memorial service, one of his lifelong friends - Aaron - spoke about the morning that he met my father. He also mentioned a detail about my father that I'd never known before.

Every day, throughout his life, one of my late father's hard and fast rules of life was to have one memorable meal. It was an important part of his ethos; he'd spend an inordinate of time driving out of his way, in every state of the Union, to get to somewhere that would allow him to have at least one memorable meal.

It was brilliant. A worldly thing, but a brilliant and beautiful rule of life anyways.

And, because it's not something I actually abide by very much - and it occurs to me that I should write about other things here than Andalusada and miseries - I've established a new tag, "a memorable meal," to prompt me to write about the ones that I've had.

And also, maybe to eat them more often. Thou shalt not live by Concerta and water alone, Edo.

One bad week

The seven days spanning from September 29 to Sunday, October 6 were something remarkable: a series of crises and nightmares, one for almost every day. I've blogged most of it (including some of it retroactively, I no longer know exactly what), but I'm going to try putting it into perspective and connecting all the dots to wrap this up and continue writing the things I was intending to.
  • Friday, 9/28-Saturday, 9/29: Went out to dinner with A. (which merits a retroactive post tonight, if only for the sake of filling out "one good meal," because it was a good meal.) Played part of a game of LOTR Risk, and watched Looper (which I'm still trying to write a review of.) The first sign of the coming week of fail was after midnight, when I got home and realized that I'd left my umbrella in the car.
  • Saturday, 9/29: Alarm clock was set to go off at 8:00, 8:15, and a few other times to wake me up. There was a further alarm set to remind me to get out the door for my car inspection at 10:30. When did I actually wake up? 11:15. Oops.I rushed my ass down to Holyoke to drop the car off, and managed to reschedule for Tuesday - at which point I realized that because of my scheduling I'd be driving two days after my inspection sticker had expired. That meant super-cautious driving, because the cops would be out in force, and if you're pulled over for a bad inspection sticker you're going to be pulled over forever. And so I drove home, super-cautiously, noticing a vibration in the steering column that I hadn't felt before.

    On the way back, I stopped and checked at all the places I'd been with A. the night before. None of them had my umbrella. Fuck. 
  • Sunday, 9/30: Woke up in time to miss church, and as planned drove up to Sunderland to meet Mom en route from Vermont. Fuck "vibration." By that point, I was driving my own private earthquake. We got out of the car and walked a bit (before it started pissing down rain), and I rumbled my car back to its parking lot to get my first good meal of the day - my first mediocre meal at the little Korean restaurant. (And, after that, some delicious caramel apples.)
  • Monday, 10/1: I honestly have no recollection of this day at all.
  • Tuesday, 10/2: Accounted for here.
  • Wednesday, 10/3: A thankless day, a dreamless night. I ate some breakfast at the Route 9 Diner, which improved things a bit, but then got stuck in front of a computer monitor until dawn, at which point I trekked back to my house, took a Concerta, showered, shaved, lay down, got up, and had...
  • Thursday, 10/4: Which was spent walking in the rain, without the umbrella that I'd lost on Saturday. (Isn't it fascinating how these things keep recursively connecting?)
  • Friday, 10/5: I drag my ass out of bed and sprint my ass up the street. Late to appointments. Fuck.
  • Saturday, 10/6: Accounted for here. Fuck.
  • The last Fuck of the week was Sunday, when I slept through church again.
It's not pleasant to write, but it is cathartic at least; now that I've got this off my chest, I can get back to active writing. So yeah.


I had to say no

Saturday came. And with Saturday, the completion of the car work. So the time came to deal with the last logistical headache: "How do I get there from here?"

So I asked H. She was at work, but she'd swing by as soon as she was able. That gave me time to pick up a new umbrella, and wait in the rain for a bit, and such...

"As soon as she was able" turned out to be later than I thought. The bus route wasn't running the right way, and so she had to take a windy one home that ran around the campus once. Okay, no problem. I had time to wait. So I waited, and walked back to the library and such...

...and then got the call that she was in her car and would be on her way, and where did I want to get picked up. "Haigis," I said, and she was okay with that, and F. would be coming with her, and maybe ten minutes later, lo! she was there.

She took the back route to Holyoke. Why I honestly don't remember at this point, although there was a reason for it. F. was gushing about Pokémon number-crunching, and to be honest I wasn't paying anybody any mind. And at 6:00, we made it down there.

And that's when I discovered that the lights were out.

"Maybe they parked it in front?" F. said, and so we carefully backed up and drove over to the cars parked in front of the dealership, gingerly, to see if one of them had the license plate that was mine. Nope. Not a blessed one. My car was parked securely behind the chain-link fence.

At which point, F. asked me directly: "Did you even call to see how late they were open?"


Walking in the rain

I rolled over, on Thursday... oh, who the hell am I kidding. I was on the Internet the entire night, because I got dropped off here, ostensibly to pick up the bus schedules, but really to get away from my life because my sleep had been so unremittingly awful that I didn't want to miss the last appointment of the week that was contingent on waking up early enough to be there.

Namely, the appointment with my therapist.

I got back home at 8:00, as the sun was up, and showered, and shaved, and took another Concerta to keep me moving until I passed out that night. I changed my pants, changed my socks, changed my shirts, and got ready to trek back to the last place I was certain the bus would stop en route to Northampton.

And that's when I discovered that all of my ID was missing.


Car work

On Saturday, I slept through my scheduled mirror repair in Holyoke.

On Tuesday, I drove my car back down there, arriving at the dealership almost exactly 59 seconds late. They didn't care. I handed them the keys and asked them to take care of the side-view mirror (driver's side), and one of the tail lights whose bulb had burned out, and to winterize it a bit. I also asked them to check the engine mounting, because the car was starting to rattle a bit at high speeds, and the steering column would tangibly twitch a bit.

They said it'd be a few hours, and so I sat down, made myself a cup of coffee, and started writing the newest letter to my beloved.

A few hours later, they came back with the bad news.

The reason it was twitching wasn't the engine mounting (as Bennie had suggested.) It was because both struts were worn, much more than they ought to have been, and the rear tire rims had slightly warped (possibly as a result?) This, in turn, had caused uneven wear on the tires, which would've been enough to automatically fail the inspection even if the superficial stuff had been bad.

The total bill comes out to a hair less than $3,000. FML.


This week in Andalusada: 9/29/2012

It's been an incredibly bad day for me in a lot of respects, but at least I can save the work on this a bit: not only have I been awesomely productive with it, but I've also Pretty much immediately after I was done posting the last weekly review on Saturday, I started writing for this week, which is unusual - usually I try to take at least one day off.
  • The first post was for Oskar Sansinger. I don't know much about him, but I do know his name; it's enough to start writing with.
  • The second, also on Saturday, was the first post on the Scrapbook to have no tags at all: "Best Practices: tagging and titling." It's more of a note to myself (and an introduction to the insane mess of labels over there), setting some guidelines down for better writing in the future.
  • Because I'd been furiously editing everything related to the House of Sansinger on Monday, and because the details of the war were scattered throughout several pages, I created a master page for the Axamallan Revolt that evening.
  • After a discussion with Rob (in which he mentioned the role of the nebulous "Grand Princess [who?]"), I wrote a biography for her, settling on a name for the lady: Grand Princess Teresa.
  • And because it was one of the few names that I'm aware of, and I'd mentioned the Cordoveros before, I wrote up a stubby biography for Don Musa as well, raising the population of named Andalusians to three.
  • I skipped out on a social event Wednesday. Instead, I wrote some of the details into Teresa Maria's life, and in particular into one specific part of her life: the Christianization of Mexico.
  • The last post this week was on Thursday, when (in keeping with other things) I posted the Greater Japanese Empire, allowing me to hyperlink everything else to it.
That's what I have to show for my week, and if that was all I did it'd be enough. It wasn't.

More below the cut:


Dinner, 9/27/2012

I lied. My hair wasn't remotely cut, the way I said that it was on the phone. And when I went to get it cut, the first thing I did was to drive home to see if I'd just left my debit card there or bothered to lose it properly. (I'd just left it there.)

I pulled $60 out of the bank today. $20 went straight into the gas tank, $16 went into the haircut, and the rest went into a vegetable platter, a large lemon, and $8.99 worth of fiery chrysanthemums. And then it was off to the party.

Orders were very strict: I was to be there no later than 5:15 if I wanted to remain in good standing. I was fifteen minutes late. The traffic across the bridge to Northampton was awful, stop and go every minute of the way.

Dinner was superb. Crudités, a quiche and a half, a bottle of champagne, caviar (which was meh), a random scattering of pastries for dessert... the single richest meal that I've had in months.

And then, driving home, there was "Gangnam Style" on the radio. I nearly drove off the road.


The logic of Andalusada and GURPS

On Monday, I started writing about the reasoning that guides and shapes the formation of the Andalusada universe. Last night, the first identifiable force in Andalusada was sloth. Tonight, it's something that I've touched on before but never seriously discussed: GURPS.


The logic of Andalusada and sloth

It's been a long time since I did anything that merited the tag "regular writing." The most I can say is that I've reliably posted weeks in review for Andalusada consistently - that I've been writing on the Scrapbook rather regularly indeed.

I mentioned that I started a standardization campaign on Friday. It's sent me looking back over dozens of former pages, editing them to fit my new standard policies - and rereading them, because I usually haven't thought about any of them except to look them up for links. And it's left me wincing a lot, because of how awful my writing can get over there. And how inconsistent.

There's one thing about it that's managed to routinely get my attention, though: the times when I stop to explain why I wrote Andalusada the way I did on that point. Those side notes are fascinating to me. And since this is (alas) a vanity blog, and Andalusada is what I'm thinking about at present - and since a lot of those notes are going to get obliterated in the great reformatting to come - I'm going to start discussing the overarching forces that have shaped my work as a Demiurge.

The first of these forces, and it's a shameful one to admit, is sloth.


In which I talk about a papyrus fragment

The stores sell caramel apples and fresh cider, and there are racks of pumpkins outside the doors. The nights are colder now, and the blue hour comes too early. Autumn is upon us.

And instead of honoring that, I'm going to talk about a papyrus fragment, the details of which are found over here.

My first response was the one I posted on Slacktivist:
There's a strong tendency on the part of many scholars to err uncritically on the side of the exotic and non-traditional: the same person who takes the standard gospels as unreliable in their depiction of Jesus will then treat a text written centuries later, which makes outlandish claims attested to nowhere else, certainly no text written when there were still living witnesses to Jesus's life, as if it were very good evidence!
YES. THIS THIS THIS. Thank you so much for saying that. 
On a broader scale, my biggest issue with this whole topic is the horrible looming sense that there isn't going to be ANY intelligent, rational discussion about if and how this papyrus fragment means or matters: that people will, for personal psychological reasons, arbitrarily and dogmatically declare "Jesus was/wasn't married!"
Because as a relatively studied Christian (and usually the one who has to represent Christianity in my completely unchurched social circles), I waste enough time as it is dealing with the Rapture and Dan Brown. And maybe it's because I'm short of sleep, but I have no hope that popular culture won't make a mess with this, and I am tired of endless remedial cleanup.
 My expanded thoughts are as follows, below the cut.


This week in Andalusada blogging: 9/22/2012

No blogging happened for me until late on Wednesday night, when (powered by Concerta) I decided to forcibly reset my sleep schedule. There, in the twilight of it, the writing started:
  • The first thing I posted was "Very Poor Introductions," linking back to the very first post I ever began on this (back when it was Ixbiliada.) It connected a few dots for me - in particular, I invented Annemarie Sansinger on the spot, because there was no plausible Bonaparte left to write Bonapartism: a Very Poor Introduction any more.
  • Next up on the list, after some cleanup (about which more below), was a master page, keeping track of Andalusada's authors.
  • The UCNA, the nation that is Moorish civilization as of Andalusada's present day, is a successor state. The third post of the week was the placeholder for what it succeeded: Umayyad Seville. Writing that (especially answering why?) was both satisfying and very, very instructive: I'm gonna have to revisit all of this later.
  • And because I'd already introduced the "families" tag earlier, I decided to make "families" a bit more substantive by writing a substantive family to tag it with: the House of Umayya.
  • Due to a terrible accident, a truly terrible post from I think May (regarding Ibero-Romance languages or something) was completely erased and lost. I took the opportunity to edit it a fair bit, turning it into something specifically about Moorish (the rest of Iberia be damned; I'm not even sure that Castilian is spoken.)
  • And lastly, on Friday night, I finally posted an entirely place-holding page for the House of Sansinger, tying together a fair number of other assorted entries. I'm still editing it as of this posting.
If the writing was all I'd accomplished this week, that would've been enough. It wasn't.


Slacktivist says it like it is

It occurs to me that I've been essentially neglecting any writing about the Discourse of Decline recently - and just on time, Fred Clark (a smarter man than I) delivers:
Everybody knows that evangelical churches are more theologically conservative and orthodox. And everybody knows that mainline Protestant denominations are liberal and heterodox....

It goes something like this:
1: Find the most liberal theologians you can from mainline Protestant denominations — Tillich! Spong! — and then sketch caricatures of them that make them seem as outrageously liberal as possible.
2. Make these caricatures the avatars for mainline Protestant churches, always suggesting that they are typical, hugely popular and influential.
3. Cite this outrageous theological liberalism as the cause of mainline “decline.”
4. Contrast this mainline liberalism with the orthodoxy of evangelical churches.
5. Cite evangelical orthodoxy as the cause of the rapid growth of evangelicalism.
6. Lather, rinse, repeat. For years and years and years.
This is propaganda. It’s the shell-game that we evangelicals have been playing for decades now. And it’s a shifty, dishonest trick.
Fred, you nailed it.

A non-owner's taste in gun porn


I haven't been there for awhile, though, and last night saw me glutting through its archives. Six or seven pages back, I stumbled across this:
I also have a real interest in guns with interesting histories. Guns with a long series of modifications, or pieces that were used by 2 or 3 or 4 or more different countries before finally finding their way to the US....
I could go on – K98k Mausers and MG42s taken from Nazi stockpiles and used by the fledgling Israeli state, Gewehr 88s used in WWI by Germany and then given to Turkey, updated to use spitzer ammo, and then reworked to look like Mausers... Vetterli rifles updated every time a European war looked imminent... They may not appeal to a lot of people, but to me those are the really interesting pieces. “If this rifle could talk…I’d need to learn three new languages to understand its story.”
What do you think? What do you find appealing in a prospective gun purchase?
And so, having neglected blogging for a few days, I thought I'd write about it here.


This fortnight in Andalusada: 9/15/2012

It's been two weeks since the last time I blogged about Andalusada. I have an excuse: last week I was driving into (and then driving home from) Pennsylvania, suffering a cold, and generally not writing about Andalusada very much anyways.

So it's been another fortnightly update here, and a very Russian one at that.
  • September 6th saw the first post, "Christianities of Andalusada." I'll spare you the list of what it's about, because it was mostly about lists. (See for yourself.)
  • September 6th also saw a post on the Eugenian calendar, because it was relevant to the writing about Great Russia and stuff that was going on in my head at the time.
  • Seeing that I'd mentioned him many times, and that he's a pivotal figure in Russian history, and that I'd been writing about his calendar so much, I created a placeholder for Evgeny I yesterday...
  • ...and today saw me start a new taxonomy, of the collapse and schism of Russian Orthodoxy.


The drive home on Sunday

Driving this weekend was uniformly awful. I got lost twice in two days; I burned an enormous amount of gas; there was no un-Christian radio for an enormous swathe of the travel time, so no consolation from the disappointment of the worship that day. Worst of all was the visibility - there was none. The rain came pissing down, so hard that I had to turn the wipers on full-speed to see the tail lights of the 18-wheelers not a dozen yards in front of me, so hard that I had to dime the volume to tell the radio static apart from the downpour outside.

All of that was worth the beauty of the last 90 minutes or so of the ride home.

Bad by dawn II

Apparently there's a timer with sleeping pills. When you take one, a one-hour countdown starts ticking, during which time you're supposed to actively try to fall asleep. And if you don't try, after that countdown ends a much shorter one starts before you start dreaming while you're awake. Before the hallucinations come.

Wednesday morning, B. didn't realize that and took his sleeping pills. And once again, at 2:50 in the morning, I stepped out of the room to discover that not only were the lights on, but the main room was smoky.

Latin Mass with Granny

Sunday was spent in Pennsylvania with my 96-year-old grandmother. She's feeling her age now, and relying on a walker to get around; going to church is a challenge she doesn't feel up to.

As such, for the first time in my life with Grandma, we didn't spend Sunday morning going to church. We spent Sunday morning watching church on TV. It was the first time I've ever done that before - and, also, the first time that I've ever seen a Catholic service using Latin before.


In which I am a glorified chauffeur

Before I headed home to sleep last night, I settled down in this very computer bay to have some nice quiet time alone. Then, at ten minutes to ten, the phone call came.

It was from B.: "I need you to come over and take me by Jimmie's place. It's an emergency."

I told him the truth: "I'm parked away from the car. I'll be there in half an hour." And dragging my body out of the seat, I started the long trudge back to the center of town.


Bad by dawn

My sleep became erratic this week, after a month of stability. And I knew I had my one scheduled early appointment of the week the next morning. So last night, at 10:30, I sped home.

I wound down and shut down by midnight for an 8:00 wakeup, and... sorta... slept. That's been a problem for a few nights, these experiences of not being sure whether you're starting to fall asleep or wake up at ungodly hours of the morning. ("Ungodly hours" is a really nice concept I've introduced Bennie to, that nobody cares what hours you normally keep, there's a point beyond which you simply do not give anybody a phone call unless the situation is absolutely critical.)

One of those ungodly hours was at 3:00 this morning, or thereabouts, when I woke up and decided to do what I sometimes am able to do: deal with annoying external stimuli. Namely the lights on and the TV yapping in the other room.

That was the least of my problems: the room was half-full of faint white smoke that made the air translucent. And both B. and M. were lying back, mouths open, snoring as if nothing was wrong. On the stove was the root problem: a pan sitting on the burner turned to high, with the faint sizzle of what looked like a fist-sized lump of coal smoldering into the air.

I turned it off, pulled it off the stove, and woke Bennie to see if he was all right. (He was. Apparently I'm not the only one having sleep issues in the house, though; he was tired enough to try to cook himself some hamburger to eat before he conked out and left it to burn.) In the morning, he thanked me for basically singlehandedly saving the house.

And so, with a serious crisis averted, I went back to my room, lay down in the dark, and appreciated that it's really hard to fall asleep when your heart is pounding like a racehorse's and the adrenaline is flowing free.

I was fifteen minutes late to the appointment this morning.


Memorizing 1 John: six weeks later

This was where it started:
7/14/2012: ...picked out the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook from the library, again, and this time I set myself to one of them: a memorization of 1 John 3. One of my go-to Epistles of the NT, and it's... one of my go-to Epistles in general, like Psalm 103 and Psalm 19....

There are 24 verses in the chapter; one verse a day, and I'll be able to memorize it all by August 19.
Well, that didn't happen. I did, however, manage to memorize 1 John 3:1-24 by September 1, though. As of today, I've skipped back a bit to 1 John 1:1-3; my plan is to work my way through 1 John 1-2 and take it from there. Hopefully I should have the entire thing down by the end of the year.

In praise of John

First, an irrelevant update to the rest of this post: the Andalusada Scrapbook is currently hovering at 1999 posts right now. My little blog is growing up, and catching it at a moment like that feels like seeing your child take their first step, or getting the first printed copy of your own book.

And now, for the serious one: on today's "Smart people saying smart things," walden posted this:
It's interesting.  This part of the gospel of John is widely regarded as an interpolation and is not in the oldest of the versions to have come down to us.  So in all the scholarly editions, it's in fine print or is footnoted.
But it seems to me to be way more authentic and in keeping with the gospel than most of the rest of John -- which is filled with a lot of neo-platonism and philosophical claptrap.  Which seems more like Jesus of the synoptics -- the woman taken in adultery? or the long self-referential preaching prayer that takes up pretty much of three chapters of the last supper sequence?
I think that John mostly doesn't belong in the N.T., but that this story (based probably on an older oral tradition) does belong.
What exactly do you say to something like that? In my case, I said this:
Serious question here, walden: If we're setting the Synoptics as the litmus test of Jesus's biography, the Pericope's doubly problematic. It not only "isn't" in John (until it was), but it isn't in ANY Synoptic Gospel, and while there were several versions of the Jesus-forgives-a-sinning-woman story circulating that's no guarantee of accuracy.
So on what grounds could we now declare that the Pericope should be in the NT canon and John SHOULDN'T be? Because I don't see any good-faith way to argue that position without making glaringly bad assumptions, the first and worst being "There's nothing wrong with editing NT canon to make it sound more like what we think it should."
(I'd also argue that the Johannine tradition's theology is a really important feature and not a bug, but that's for later.)
 And since it is later, I may as well take the opportunity to get my thoughts down.


This week in Andalusada blogging: 9/1/2012

It's been a very Russian kind of week this week:
  • The first post this week was the B_Munro draft. I haven't touched the map of Andalusada since at least spring, when the UMass libraries were open 24/7 and I could stay on with their awesome big screens for as long as I wanted - but the writeup for that map is still floating around.
  • Last week's beverage was beer. This week's was tea and vodka, after some derpy thoughts from weeks and months before. (The question of what the Great Russian political parties are called is still kinda up in the air; I'm revisiting thoughts here as I go.)
  • Wherever there is a revolutionary Russia, there has to be a commissariat. Thursday saw me (very briefly) define Commissars, and explain (in very sketchy detail) what they do besides, you know, be Russian and wear a commissar's cap.
  • Because Great Russia's Commissariat is a liaison office between various brigades of the Russian Legions (or Guards?), the obvious next step was to do a writeup about them. It wasn't taken. The step that was taken was, instead, to write up Great Russia itself.
No significant editing was done this week, but I do have some forecasts for things that'll be upcoming in the next week or two:
  • The derp about the Eugenian Calendar is going to get fleshed out a bit, and possibly reverted back to actually being about Old Calendarism (with a new post to introduce the Eugenian Calendar itself. [ADDED! -9/23/2012]) This is in no small part because of the other questions I've had in the last day or so...
  • "What happens to the Russian Orthodox Church?" Under the tsardom of Tver, it's a strange beast: an Orthodox church that's not recognized or in communion with the rest of Orthodoxy. What happens to it under the Veche is really complicated; I have at least one post, and quite likely a series of posts, to write about the fallout of the fall of Evgeny the Old. Amongs these are:
    • What exactly is the state of Orthodoxy in Great Russia at the moment?
    • For the better part of 300 years, the Russian Orthodox Church didn't need to worry about its foreign ties; it was the single biggest Orthodox church on the planet. A lot of them backed the Tsarists, with all the consequences that entails - and now that their church has been, at the very least, wrested from them and reformed (if not completely disestablished), how is that Tsarist diaspora handling the breaking of its haughty power?
    • What hay does the Papal State make with all of this?
  • New World beer styles is still a work in progress. Last post was about the Ibero-Baltic styles; the next one is going to be, I hope, about the Northern (and very Brittanic) styles, to help fill it out.


Things I learned in CPR/first aid certification

#1. 100 chest compressions/minute is an amazing aerobic workout. Don't forget to breathe.
#2. There's actually a specific depth of compression: 1.5" for infants, 2" for everyone else.
#3. Chest compressions for infants involve three fingers and are incredibly painful to do.
#4. You are supposed to pound a choking victim's back (between the shoulder blades) in addition to Heimlich.
#5. AED training is now part of basic first aid.
#6. As a first responder, I'm exempt from legal consequences as long as I get patient consent and don't bill them afterwards.
#7. The classic set of heart attack symptoms (in particular, chest pains) are sexist: cardiac arrest expresses differently for women.
#8. If there are bystanders, one useful thing they can do is clear the way for the EMTs.
#9. It's possible to have pepper allergies. (And it sucks to have them and be Romanian.)
#10. Swelling in the legs is a sign of hyperthermia.

It feels really, really good to be Red Cross certified again. Even if it does involve a $25 fee for getting caught in the wrong parking lot.


The Bibles of my life

A day or two ago, the Anarchist Reverend responded to a question:
You’ve lived some radical changes between your fundamentalist upbringing and now. Out of pure curiosity, what have the Bibles of your life been, and (how) have they related to those bigger changes?
You can read his response over there. For the sake of disclosure, and because it's something I've thought and derped about but never blogged about, I'm sharing my life in Bibles here.


Christmas Eve, 2011

Several Decembers ago, a moment passed out behind the wheel taught me to keep myself alert and my radio on whenever I go on long drives, especially after dark. Usually it's tuned to a mediocre rock station, or a grainy classical frequency - but there inevitably comes a moment When that moment comes, I flip to something totally unlike what I'd normally listen to: a Christian station.

It's a habit that I really ought to break, because my motive for listening isn't because I love it, or even like it: I listen to them for the hatred. Sooner or later, there will come a moment when the music will let up, and the spoken words will begin, and that's the cue for the eight-minute countdown before the station reminds me of everything that is wrong with American Christendom.

There comes a report on "the issue of homosexuality." There comes a plug for Focus on the Family, or a unilateral condemnation of working mothers at a time when my mother was running the house because her husband was dying. There comes the break from the Oberammergau Passion Play to pray against the ACA and for the deliverance of Holy Mother Church from the oppression of the Pill. (I shit you not.) During the Holy Week, there comes... actually nothing at all, and that was the most infuriating part: an uninterrupted block of evangelical pop songs, with nothing even acknowledging that it's 3:00 in the afternoon on fucking Good Friday. ("Positive. Affirmative." Some other Christian buzzwords - at the one hour, of the one day, when Christians and Trent Reznor can join together in one voice to say that God is dead.)

It's not something I do outside of Connecticut-to-Massachusetts driving, for the very simple reason that there's usually other stations once I get off the corridor from Waterbury to Springfield. But last Christmas Eve, I discovered that a few exits into Pennsylvania the devil's music came to an end. And as I pounded through the stations with my good hand, my attention divided between the backlit numbers on the display and the harrowing road conditions of Wilkes-Barre, my worst fears were confirmed:

It was Christian stations all the way down. And with no way to resist it, I settled on the least noisy stations and settled down for a nice winter's Two Minutes Hate.


This week in Andalusada blogging: 8/25/2012

For the last two weeks I'd sadly neglected The Andalusada Scrapbook. I stood convicted, enough so that this week I resolved to do better. The question is... what was there to write about?
  • Well, first things first there was beer. I'm still writing about it, still cleaning it up, but it was so long in coming that it needed to be posted before I forgot about it.
  • The next thing to go up was a glossary of the Scottish New World. It's something that R. and I had been derping about extensively, on and off, for the last week or so; and while this isn't exactly a blog post the way the others are, it was an infodump that merited posting. Not least because it introduced things like Scotland-Norway.
  • One of the things that's bugged me about the history of Scotland-Norway was the tangle of religious politics that resulted from trying a Catholic-*Protestant dynastic union. Last week, in a Barnes & Noble book I'd never read before (and haven't read since, because I'm not gonna pay for it), I discovered that the medieval Scottish church was awesomely corrupt. The same night I posted my Scottish New World glossary, the dots connected, and I gushed my thoughts to Engel about this. They were posted on Wednesday, as "The rise and fall of the Ryal Kirk."
  • Up to this point, most of the nations I've posted on ABC have been ones that don't exist IRL, and so need some introducing. What I haven't done much is write about the pasts of nations, especially the Great Powers. So on Thursday, for want of better thoughts to write, I introduced the first writeup of a nation in an era: the ubiquitous, regularly-mentioned Dystopian Catholic France. Watch your tongue.


Moments: an overview

So yesterday I started writing about that "constellation of moments":
[I]n my mainline experience, no, I’ve never been Born Again™ because I’ve never had any single moment that was like that.
What I have had is a year-long constellation of moments. From memory I can identify all of them, date most of them, and time one of them to within a few minutes. No single point was decisive (not even the timed one, which involved a decision) – but the gestalt is. It hasn’t ended yet (I was saved; I am being saved; too soon to go on), but I can definitely single out a moment before which it hadn’t begun.
And today I'm going to do so.


A year-long constellation of moments

This was me, on The Anarchist Reverend:
[I]n my mainline experience, no, I’ve never been Born Again™ because I’ve never had any single moment that was like that.
What I have had is a year-long constellation of moments. From memory I can identify all of them, date most of them, and time one of them to within a few minutes. No single point was decisive (not even the timed one, which involved a decision) – but the gestalt is. It hasn’t ended yet (I was saved; I am being saved; too soon to go on), but I can definitely single out a moment before which it hadn’t begun.
Thinking about it now, it's sort of astonishing that the moments of this constellation haven't been written about already. I may just do so.

Starting tomorrow, that is, because I'm getting kicked from the library tonight.


In which I am Cassandra

This was me, on August 9, 2012, on Slacktivist:
That's one of the big glaring things I'm not getting about Tony Jones's challenge: what exactly is it accomplishing? The problem with God-talk isn't that we don't do it, it's that it's easily and often dismissed as not Christian enough. Defining the parameters the way he does, it feels like his Storify stream is gonna wind up VALIDATING any future claims that "liberals are weak Christians and suck at God-talk." Because as much as I wish I was, I'm no mystic, neither apophatic or cataphatic. Without that kind of experience, I need to refer to Jesus and Scripture to say much that's substantive. And even if I did have mystical experience, without reference to the Word, in print or incarnate, it still wouldn't make the cut as being Christian enough.
(For the record, I'm gonna answer the challenge anyways.)
Today, Googling, I discovered that not even a week later it's already starting to happen. And to add insult to injury, the first comment was eaten by the Internet and didn't post.

I fucking hate being right.


A Bible As It Might Be

GAS is the clinical term for a psychological issue first recognized in the guitarist community. It's an acronym for "Gear Acquisition Syndrome." I got it early on in life, and I've had it ever since.

It comes in a few forms. One of them - most prevalent with books, for me - is completism. Series of books are self-reinforcing, cookbooks especially. There are two series of cookbooks that I will buy less because I'm interested (or able) to make any of their recipes than for the simple satisfaction of a rainbow row of books lined up together, all the same size and series. The other - especially with guitar paraphernalia - is utopianism: drawing up the exact utopian specifications for every last detail, in ways that would honor Fourier himself. This year, my GAS has been for Bibles.

Starting in January, when I first found religion, it was driven by dissatisfaction with the one that I had, which (as I've testified before) I had no idea how to read or even approach. Starting in the late spring, it was linked to the discovery of new favorite authors and new versions. As of the last month, it's been enabled and furthered by the GAS-inducing Bible Design and Binding Blog, which finally confirmed what I'd realized without knowing: that the Bibles I like are both marginal and poorly-supported. (The marginality and support are directly tied into the Discourse of Decline, and while it's going to take a lot of research to get the details it will be touched upon.)

I'd tried outlining point-by-point things about my dream Bible before. I fell asleep last night on  another specific list from Christian Matters of Taste. And in the morning, I awoke to the ever brilliant Slacktivist's article, "When 'evangelism' intends to alienate and exclude," which just about brings me to the matter at hand.

Fred started with an Orwell-grade lead: "The Truth For Youth culture-war Bible we discussed yesterday is destined to be poorly received. I think that's by design." Invisible Neutrino followed up:
One attraction I could see is that for teenagers questioning their place in the universe - what their purpose is - one possible answer is given in the Bible and its associated faith. But it has to be a process of self-discovery. You can't just patly supply the answer and expect someone to uncritically accept it; that's not the bedrock of a proper foundation of a faith-based existence.
It's linked because I'm still responding to it, and will write more on that in the future. But the first words out of my mouth on reading that were "I've been mulling over something like that myself..."
Evangelicals have tons of teen Bibles, with very specific culture-war topical notes and horrid garish finishes that instantly doom them to a fate no Bible should ever have: being outgrown. (I can't speak for the mainline, but I was given more or less a bonded-leather pew Bible; I have sentimental bonds to it but it's been totally unapproachable my whole life.)
Teenagers are questioning and establishing their place in the cosmos, and the Bibles they're given either give them pat answers or walls of text that are clearly meant to be filled in by an outside source (which teens are challenging.) From a product-side view (inspired by lurking on the Better Bibles Blog), somebody needs to design a Bible that lends itself to being both critically engaged and kept.
I'd mulled over specifics in the past, but right there was a half-sentence embodiment of what my dream Bible is meant to be. And now I'm going to spell out why it would look like itself - and what that self would look like.


This week in Andalusada blogging: 8/18/2012

I confess before you, almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have neglected the Andalusada blog, in thought and in deed, in what I have done and what I have failed to do; and I ask you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God. Or words to that effect.

In my last post, I was excited about a few things that I was gonna post. I managed all of two of them:
  • The first of them was the one that I had the least excuse for: the Meammosiran Cossack Host. It was, like everything else, late. (Tony Jones provided an excuse, but the fault is mine.) Truth be told, it's still being expanded upon.
  • The second of them was, as promised, the Grand Principality of Brazil. Also a work in progress.
There was some updating going on as well:
  • Most of my nations have a "INSERT NATIONAL NAME HERE Today" section where they should go. At present, it includes an entry or so about the nation's languages, government structure, and national economy. This week, after the G.P. of Brazil was written up, I added in a fourth section, on foreign relations. Expect that to be added to everything by next week.
There is also, it should be noted, something relevant I discovered: a limited-edition Samuel Adams beer that may, in fact, be relevant to the long-promised, long-awaited discussion of New World beer styles.

That is all, alas.


This is my story

The single most visited page in the history of this blog was "Testifying." My list of 15 reasons why I spent ten years out of the church, written in response to Rachel Held Evans's post of the same name. (I've retroactively tagged it "responsive writing," because it totally was that before the tag existed for it to be.)

Rachel also wrote a follow-up piece to it, "15 Reasons I Returned to Church." It doesn't have nearly as many responses, and while I may yet itemize a 15-point list of my own, this isn't going to be that list. It's tangentially related, though, because once again I'm writing a confession of faith.

No rest for the non-rightist Christian, I guess. Last week it was Tony Jones. This week it's the Anarchist Reverend:
But in our attempt to not be the screaming of the religious right we’ve become a kind of watered down left filled with platitudes and vague warm feelings. That doesn’t cut it for me anymore. And I have a feeling that it doesn’t cut it for a lot of other people either.

I want to know why you’re in this faith. I want to know why you remain a Christian? Why does it matter?
It was a good question, and although I didn't answer before the 24-hour deadline was up, it got me thinking.


Attempting "something substantive about God"

Back on Tuesday, Tony Jones wrote "A Challenge to Liberal Bloggers to Write One Post About God":
I challenge all progressive theo-bloggers to write one post about God between now and August 15.
I mean, all of you: Fred, Scot, Rachel, MPT, John Shore, everyone at the Patheos Progressive Portal, and all of you I haven’t mentioned or even ever read. Write something substantive about God. Not about Jesus, not about the Bible, but about God.
Now that I'm done, as Tony Jones would put it, "clearing my throat," I'm gonna (pardon the metaphor) spit it out.
God is sacred, and near at hand and difficult to grasp, and love in an eldritch non-Euclidean way, and kinda self-explanatory but not so much, and above my pay grade.
So there you go: a substantive sentence. And having said that, let's unpack this thing.


"Something substantive about God": clearing my throat

Back on Tuesday, Tony Jones wrote "A Challenge to Liberal Bloggers to Write One Post About God":
I challenge all progressive theo-bloggers to write one post about God between now and August 15.
I mean, all of you: Fred, Scot, Rachel, MPT, John Shore, everyone at the Patheos Progressive Portal, and all of you I haven’t mentioned or even ever read. Write something substantive about God. Not about Jesus, not about the Bible, but about God.
This is not going to be that post. In fact, it's gonna be everything but that post, so I can save time writing it.


Critical, apocalyptic optimism

Kathy Escobar is back from a month-long vacation. I didn't usually get around to responding much before she left, but after a month of silence, I'm not gonna lie: I was waiting for her.

What is the Discourse of Decline?

Growing up, the narrative I heard (pretty much from Bruce Bawer onward, at least) was about the worrying rise of "fundamentalism." The word eventually changed to "evangelicalism," but there was still that sense of being overwhelmed; the awareness that we were struggling even as the local megachurch exploded, eventually drawing my sister (and thus my mother) until it burned them both out.

What I've read, what I've heard, the Christians I've spoken to, the non-Christians I've spoken to - all of them share an overarching narrative about the history and fate of American Protestantism. That narrative runs something like this:
  • The mainline churches are the hegemonic ones in America. I use "hegemonic" both in the conventional sense of "dominant" and the Gramscian sense of "normative, such that outsiders are forced to define themselves relative to it."
  • The mainline churches have lost the Mandate of Heaven. They no longer take the faith seriously, and have increasingly accomodated to the secular world.
  • The Mandate of Heaven is passing to the evangelicals. Evangelicals, who do take the faith seriously and present it in an unadulterated form, are growing like gangbusters picking up those who leave (or are left behind by) increasingly irrelevant mainline Protestantism.
The only problem with the narrative is that it's not true.


This week in Andalusada blogging: 8/4/2012

The Andalusada Scrapbook has had, as of when I started writing, 1666 hits; it's rapidly closing on this blog itself, several years its senior. (Lesson from there: post more regularly.)

So let's start with what's new:
  • "The only new stub that I have to announce," I said last week, "is about Mahdism... It's going to be up first, because it's relevant to a lot of things later on down the line." For the first time in the history of announcing upcoming stubs, I was right. The first post of the day, on July 30th.
  • I really love posting nations, especially New World nations. Also on the 30th, I introduced Axamalia, or Axamalla, or whatever the hell it's called. Hispano-Baltic Texas.
  • Hispano-Baltic Texas (hereafter HBT) didn't just form itself. First, it had to break away from Mexico - one of the giant, space-filling empires that I've acknowledged but never actually written anything about before. So on the last day of July, I posted the G.P. of Mexico.
  • On the next day, 8/1/2012, the first of August, I introduced what (thematically) should have been posted on April 5th: the state that almost the entirety of Andalusada was building up to. I posted the Umayyad Caliphate of New Andalusia. It's the stubbiest of my national posts by far, for the simple reason that it's such a big topic, and I didn't manage to get anything else done that day because I was so busy searching through the blog and linking it to every post that mentioned it already.
  • After some really big-stroke posts like that, I started to write another fluffy one. At that point, though, I stopped - and, seeing how I'd already blogged the Great Realignment and several of the nations that came out of it this week, went on to write one of the few wars whose details I was really certain about: the Mexican Liturgical War.
And on the sixth day, today, I'm not posting anything; I'm just going to go back through the last week or so, clean things up and expand on them.


Why the fundamentalists win

Last month, Ross "Don't" Douthat took the opportunity to concern-troll the mainline after some fallout with the Episcopalian General Conference. A bunch of bloggers I follow wrote in response, and reading them was a humbling experience; they're all smarter folks than I, and what did I have to say? Nothing, that's what. Because I was in Niantic at the time, gorging myself on books on spiritual formation at $3 apiece. I didn't even discover the kerfluffle until a week later.

I was really meaning to write something about it. Anarchist Reverend's post "Progressive vs. Liberal" got me wanting to write something about it (or at least about related topics.) But then, yesterday, Slacktivist brought it up again: "Progressive religious voices not irrelevant, just ignored."

This is particularly big for me because, as I've written before, I have some issues with tribalism in my past, and I've read enough Nietzsche to be leery of ressentiment. I don't want this to turn into an excuse to curse the right and mourn the mainline.

I want to contribute to this discussion. I want to think substantial thoughts, and say substantial words. I'm tired of being a commenter. I want to write.


Instead of a regular sonnet, 7/31/2012

I really do adore the way you write.

Your style is *graceful* - short and poised and true.
And so I bought a card the other night
And, having bought it, tried with all my might
To write a card as gracefully as you,
To imitate your voice, to forge your hand.

I botched a dozen drafts in ballpoint blue
And butchered several more before I knew
That all the words whose power I command
Had simply proved inadequate for this,
Could *not* achieve that grace that I demand.
No words sufficed.

Beloved, understand
That in the end I gave the card a kiss,
Addressed it to the woman that I love,
And mailed it to the woman that I miss.


On the merits of liturgy

This was me, six weeks ago, "in which religion is a relationship too":
But ever since I came back, I've discovered that I can find God in that "religion." That I was moved to share the Eucharist, Elevation and Fraction and queueing up and all. That those creeds and sacraments move me. That they are sacraments; in them everything is brought together and I... relate.


This week in Andalusada blogging: 7/28/2012

The Andalusada Scrapbook has been quite busy this week, writing in a few things like so:
  • The first thing that merited writing about in Andalusada was prompted by my own comment, discussing the thought of regular Andalusada blogging, which mentioned that I'd derped more about the existence of Polish-Ruthenian parerga than the existance of Poland-Ruthenia itself. So, on Monday, I fixed that and introduced the most steampunk society in the verse.
  • The next post I was planning to write out was one on gun porn, but after I was finished hyperlinking the previous comments to Poland-Ruthenia, it occurred to me that I'd also mentioned "Technical Censors" before without explaining the concept further. (Which is inexcusable, because they're a critical force in Andalusada's future dieselpunk turn.) So, the next day, I explained who the Technical Censors are and why they matter.
  • I have a big blind spot concerning Andalusada's last major-power war cycle; while I know it was an epic on par with the Great Realignment, I don't know that much about how it actually played out, at least when it doesn't involve the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. So, also on the 25th, I wrote about the one war I can write about - or at least as much as I could.
  • Wednesday was a dead day on the blog, because I was so busy writing about the gun porn I mentioned earlier. On Thursday, though, I finally completed my technical derping enough to post it without needing an immediate revisit (as happened to my first post on gun porn.) Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Warsaw School.
There is some editing that's going on too:
  • By far the most significant edit was an expansion of the Russo-Japanese War. In part, this is because Meammosirsk is still getting love and attention from me, towards its posting on August 13; but another, and a bigger, part of it was actually spelling out its flow, and explicitly stating how important Japanese espionage was in the Easter Revolt.
  • The Miramoline got a bit of cleanup too; initially it was simply tagging her "gender," but when I realized that she didn't actually address gender in any way, I had to explain her significance.
  • Towards the forthcoming post on Mahdism, which has become too long to finish in the time I have today, I amended the Great Realignment to note a very, very important date in Moorish history: 1786.
Looking back on previous weeks, it occurs to me that whenever I mention things that I'm going to be posting about in the next week, it pretty much guarantees that I won't write about them. This is going to change, because most of the things that I've written about now have convenient lead-ins (or at least tie-ins.)
  • The only new stub that I have to announce is about Mahdism. It's going to be up first, because it's relevant to a lot of things later on down the line.
  • "An allohistory of vodka" is going to go up at some point after that, now that Poland-Ruthenia has been introduced. Baltic influence on New World beer styles, though, is going to take a lot more time to do, because there are a few Baltic-style republics that need writing about (at the very least, the G.P. of Mexico, G.P. *Brazil, and Hispano-Baltic Texas) - and some spelling out about what Baltic republican thought is and looks like.