"Why'd you do it, Gabe?"
"Send those killers to her house."
"Lena, I don't know what you're talking about. Fill me in."
"Why'd you send those idiots after Gérard Lacroix?"
"I didn't! Hell, they weren't even field agents. It never should have happened. Not the way it did, anyway."
"Amélie doesn't know that."
"Amélie should know that, she has the logs. She just doesn't want to."
"Wot? Why not?"
"As long she doesn't know that, there's someone else alive to blame."
"That's shite, Gabriel."
"It is, and you know it. She blames herself. Always has."
"'Course she does, girl. But she also blames me. I was head of Blackwatch, so she's kinda got a point."
The younger assassin just grunted, a "huh" sort of sound.
"Trust me here, having someone else to blame? It helps."
Venom thought about that, for a moment, sizing up Gabriel Reyes through anger-narrowed eyes.
"I'm not so sure it does."
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
If the President, Vice-President, or other officers of the US are accused of treason, accepting bribes, or committing other crimes, there is a vote to remove them from office and to have a trial to establish guilt.
Just because the word is bandied about a great deal lately, I do want to caution my readers that in the US, the crime of Treason is very specifically defined, and doesn’t mean, “You’re a rotten American” or even “You’re putting your own interest before that of the US.” We’ll be getting to it at the end of Article III.
I've been maintaining an offline official timeline of canon for On Overcoming the Fear of Spiders and all the in-universe stories written seperately and collected in intersections in the web of time, and now that I'm making some headway on Old Soldiers, I thought I'd format and post the thing.
It's pretty big. It includes a fair number of things that happened in Fear of Spiders that did not make it into the manuscript or any following story, and also contains a couple of first-chapter background-info spoilers for the new story. So if you're allergic to that sort of thing, don't read it. If you're not, you might find some new background you might enjoy.
If you follow me on Facebook you’ll possibly have seen me periodically posting about how my neighborhood in Kenmore is overrun by wild bunnies in the summer, and this year is no exception. One of the things I quite enjoy about the walk up and down our hill when I’m doing my daily commute is looking for bunnies–whether they’re hanging out openly in someone’s yard, or ducking under bushes, or what have you.
I take pictures of them when I can. Like, say, this one!
You might notice, though, that this picture is kind of soft and fuzzy, and I mean that in a “not just because it involves a bunny” kind of way. The reason for this, I have discovered, is because the iPhone (at least up through the 6’s, as well as the non-Plus 7, according to specs on apple.com) uses digital zoom. And digital zoom gets problematic the closer in you try to zoom.
The common wisdom I’ve seen is that if you want to take a pic with an iPhone, you need to not zoom at all, and crop to get what you want. This is fine if what you’re taking a pic of is pretty close to you. Like this bunny! (This remains my very favorite bunny pic I’ve taken to date.)
But if a bunny is more than two or three feet away from you, you kinda have to zoom to shoot it. Because if you try to get closer, it will very likely sense your presence and bolt.
Which brings me to how I saw Dreamwidth friend cruisedirector posting her own bunny pics! She’s got some nice ones here and here and here, and in general, I’m rather jealous of her zooming abilities! She informed me that Samsung rather gets the credit for this, and if I google zoom specs for Samsung phones, I see things like “10x optical zoom” for the Galaxy S4 and yeah, that’d be why she’s taking better bunny pics than I am. ;D
So then I got all “so what can I do to solve this problem?”
Googling around led me to learning that there are assorted third-party lenses that have been made for the iPhone. The top two contenders I saw in my research were the Olloclip and the Moment, and of the two, camera nerds I read up on have been saying that the Moment is the superior lens.
The problem for me though is that the way the Moment works, they expect you to glue a mounting plate onto the back of your device, and screw the lens into that. I was rather dubious about this–and moreover, decided that I didn’t want to go hunting for one of these, even though I’d read in an article I found posted on the Seattle Times from 2016 that indicated that these lenses would be on sale at the Apple Store in Bellevue.
So instead I opted for the Olloclip. And specifically, I bought this thing, which gives me a telephoto lens and a wide angle one. The telephoto one is the one I’m interested in, since it gives me some optical zoom capability… 2x optical zoom as well as a shallower depth of field. It’s super-easy to pop onto the phone, and I can flip it around to use the wide angle lens. Both lenses can line up with the front and back cameras.
The one drawback here is that I do have to take the phone’s case off, but I’m okay with that.
And so far, the one thing I’m not entirely happy with is that test shots I’ve done with notable amounts of sky in them have caused there to be a bit of a dark halo effect in the corners. So to account for this, I will need to practice aiming and then cropping to get rid of that.
Also, if I change phones and want to continue to have an external lens, I’ll need a different one because this one is specifically designed for the iPhone 6. So far though I’m okay with that, too! My current phone is still perfectly lovely and I won’t be updating it in the near future.
So for now this little toy should be perfectly lovely for my bunny-photographing needs, and I will also be taking it to Quebec with me–because I’m hoping the improved zoom will let me do better at taking pics of musical performances, too. 😀
Here are a bunch of test pics I’ve done with the lens clip so far (and if the thumbnails aren’t coming through for some reason, you can find them directly on flickr here):
Happy with the purchase so far. Playing with this is already fun! Looking forward to learning more!
Mirrored from angelahighland.com.
So I vocalised into the mic, "oooookay... social... team chat... disconnect" as I did exactly that.
I proceeded to four-gold, and captured the first point nearly solo while everyone else but Sombra was trapped at spawn. (And, credit where it's due, Sombra definitely helped with the capture, mostly on the second third.) Yes, 1 to 2 on 4-6, depending upon how many could rush back at any given time to defend, and winning.
I can do a lot even for even a spectacularly shitty team when I'm on a roll - and I was.
Sadly, I couldn't capture the second point the same way, because the enemy were on to my tricks at that point, but, well, whatever. Four golds. I worked hard to make sure I had 'em all.
I then switched to Widowmaker on the flip side (defence) and popped in to team chat quietly for a second for a reaction, just in time to hear the same jackass bitching about everything, particularly the Widowmaker. And I popped back out.
We proceeded to lose, but I golded in objective kills and I think objective time but I'm not sure. (Might just have silvered.) As we're seeing all that, I pop back into team chat, and they're going at each other, just being salty as fuck.
So I hit my mic and say, "And this is why you don't call your four-gold 'retarded' - she might decide to play Widowmaker next round. Bye!" and dropped.
I realise this kind of snippery is not necessarily the best possible response to this kind of jackass? But I'm thinking, y'know, maybe he might be a little bit hesitant to let that shit fly right out the gate next time. Maybe. Because you really, really don't know who you might be playing with.
(For the record: I actually am trying to learn Widowmaker, that's why I'm playing her in quickplay a lot at the moment. Best kill streak with her so far is I think 12, max kills with her is 23, I've earned the Pixel spray but not the Cute. So if the team I'm with is any good, I'm not a joke, I'm a legitimate contributor, I often gold in objective kills with her, and I always play the best I can at any time. I always play to win. Even here.)
So yeah, assuming you were paying even remote attention to the Internet yesterday, you’ll have heard that Jodie Whittaker will be our next Doctor, as of the Christmas Special this year.
Jodie Whittaker, comma, a woman.
In case you didn’t see that news before and you want mere coverage, here you go:
Doctor Who’s New Time Lord: The 13th Doctor is Jodie Whittaker and The Moment Has Been Prepared For: Jodie Whittaker and the Future of Doctor Who on Tor.com (and note that the first Tor.com link has the trailer video where Thirteen is introduced)
Naturally, the BBC has a quite a bit to say about the matter, including a bunch of commentary from assorted Doctor Who stars.
Sixth Doctor Colin Baker has a particularly tasty reaction here:
Change my dears and not a moment too soon – she IS the Doctor whether you like it or not!
— Colin Baker (@SawbonesHex) July 16, 2017
Dara had to point out to me the significance of this–this is a paraphrase of Baker’s own lines after he regenerates in The Caves of Androzani. 😀
As for me?
This is the most excited I’ve been about Doctor Who in years. I watched the intro trailer, and felt a little catch in my heart at the simple visual of a key materializing in a female hand–and the TARDIS answering to a female presence.
The idea of a woman leading the adventure, of being blindingly brilliant, of having the sort of boundless compassion that leads the Doctor over and over and over again to standing up for humanity is heady and exciting. I am very, very much looking forward to seeing Thirteen show us what she can do.
And I’m very much hoping that she’ll open the door wider to a future where anyone can truly be the Doctor. I want to see an actor of color for Fourteen, are you listening, BBC?
But until it’s time for Fourteen, I’ll be there to see what new parts of time and space Thirteen will have to show us!
Mirrored from angelahighland.com.
It turns out that there's no Music AH for Worldcon 75.
I mean, on one level, I'm not shedding any tears over screwups with the convention after they booted me (and the way it was done). But on the other hand, my friends are going to miss out on a lot of the activity they enjoy at the convention because there's nobody put it together.
This is not part of the on overcoming the fear of spiders continuity; Lena Oxton is Tracer, not Venom. It is a standalone story, in an AU which is still pretty much canon-compliant as of July 2017. It would be set in late 2077 or early 2078, in universe. [AO3 link]
"It is not easy to explain," said the Widowmaker, looking frustrated, fixated on her game screen and sitting next to Hana Song, who of course had her own pro rig and client.
Widowmaker had said that, not Amélie, and it was very important not to get that wrong. The Widowmaker didn't like it, and if Amélie had an opinion - or was in there at all - she never spoke up.
The blue assassin was playing a shooter game, but not as a sniper - as a melee character, high DPS, fast - not entirely unlike Tracer. She always played the same character. Tracer wasn't sure what that meant; Angela told her not to read too much into it, but she knew that Lena tended to think of it as a good sign anyway. It's still shooting people, but it's shooting people in a different way, and Lena couldn't help but feel a little flattered that if the spider was emulating anyone, it was her.
"I exist," the spider continued, as her character on screen ran across open field between buildings towards some sort of objective. "I am here. I exist by right of existence. I do not wish not to exist." Realising that - she knew, herself - had been a big step for her, one she had managed on her own, one taken before she escaped from her controllers with a surprisingly complete list of Talon embedded agents to exchange for her sanctuary.
"And Talon didn't agree with that, did they." Tracer replied.
"No. I was supposed to be an asset, not a person."
"And Angela doesn't entirely either, does she." It was a statement, not a question.
Widowmaker glanced briefly at Tracer, just with her eyes, just a little surprised, before her focus snapped back to the game. "No. She still thinks I am some folded-up version of her former friend. I am not."
The spider saw that Tracer nodded her agreement. Of all the people here, she thought, only Tracer seems to understand even this much. Perhaps it was the younger woman's experience as a ghost, after the Slipstream accident. Perhaps it was being an Omnic War orphan. Perhaps it was just her nature. The spider didn't know.
Tracer watched the two women game, but really watched Widowmaker think. She's close to something, I can feel it, she thought to herself.
"Is this why you won't let Angela undo any of Talon's work?" Widowmaker had adamantly refused any attempt to reverse any of the physical changes Talon had made, though she tolerated anything she could decide qualified as an "improvement." That included giving her control over her own emotional dampers. Handling that was still a learning process.
"Yes," replied the blue assassin. "I am me. I am not that other woman, even if she was the source for some of my parts. I cannot be her. I do not want to be her."
"I get that, luv," said the Londoner. That part didn't matter to Lena. It was easier, for her, if Amélie was dead, if she was gone, and buried, and this was Widowmaker, another person entirely, just happened to look a lot alike. "Y'know, personally, I like the blue," she said. Makes it easier, she thought.
"You may be the only one, myself aside," replied the spider.
"Hey, n00b," Hana said, "Cover your flank or you're gonna get p0wned."
"Thank you," Widowmaker replied, sweeping left, hitting far more than she missed. D-pad instead of mouse or rifle, she was built for aim.
"Nice shot! For a game controller. You should level up to a real interface."
"Perhaps never," said the assassin.
"Okay," replied the gamer, "don't listen to the professional."
"...point taken," replied the blue woman, as the round ended, with scores D.va 100, bad guys 12, Widowmaker 10.
"I'm outta D.ritos. Want anything?"
"No thank you."
"Just ate, luv, but thanks."
"Be right back!" she said, as she jumped backwards over her chair and headed out to the hallway.
Widowmaker leaned against the rec room's couch, watching the game's idle screen. "I like the character I am playing, more than the game itself. I think that is not too unusual, no?"
"Sure!" Lena answered, encouragingly. "That's why there are fan sites and hangouts and stuff. What do you like about her?"
"This character I play," Widowmaker gestured to the screen, "within the confines of the game, she is a person, like me - no, that is wrong, she is not like me, except in that she was... constructed. It is part of her story. Built, for a purpose. As I was, by Talon."
Built, thought Tracer. "Like Omnics, you mean?"
Widowmaker shook her head, no. "I have thought about it, but I think not. Neither of us are robotic, I do not think it is the same, and I cannot really ask our occasionally resident Shambali master to be sure..."
"Yeaaaaaaaaah," agreed the younger woman. "Probably never."
"I have been told that he says he does not carry a grudge, but I can tell that he carries a grudge, and I do not even blame him." She paused for a moment. "I am far more surprised that you talk to me than that he does not."
Lena bit her upper lip for a moment. "T'be honest, I am too."
Widowmaker hummed a little, a note that signalled her acknowledgment of the situation. "Why do you?"
Lena tilted her head back and forth a little. "...I dunno. That night in King's Row was the second worst of my life. I felt so angry and so betrayed, and I'd've done anything to undo it, but I couldn't. And you couldn't even tell me why."
"I did not know," she replied. "Or care. The question, it struck me as so unimportant, so silly. It was the first time I'd ever laughed. It may have been my first real, unprogrammed... thought."
"I didn't know that," said the Overwatch agent. Her first thought was... laughter? Wow. "But it hurt, then. Still does, a little. Less, now that I know you really aren't Amélie."
"My emotional range is still limited, but... I think I am sad about that."
"Maybe that's why, then. Maybe I can tell. Maybe that's why... somehow, here I am."
The eyes of the woman who had been made from Amélie Lacroix narrowed in thought at those words.
"Winston was built, too, genetically," said Tracer, changing back the subject and realising as she said it that it didn't fit. "But that's really not the same either, innit? He still grew up. You didn't. I think I get it, you just... came online, all at once, didn't you? 'Here I am, ready to kill.'"
The spider's gold eyes flashed to Tracer, but not in anger, as was so usually the case with that look. "Yes," she said, grabbing Tracer's hands. "Yes. I had a purpose, already. And then I had more purpose, that fit with it. No doubts, no hesitation, just purpose. Do you actually understand?"
Lena's heartbeat jumped as the spider grasped her hands, but she didn't let herself flinch, at least not more than with surprise. She touched me, she thought, intentionally. Woah! "I," she gathered her thoughts, "I think I do. I mean, not emotionally, right? I grew up too, and looked for somethin' to do with my life. But... in my head, I kinda get it. A little. You're not there, and then you are, all at once. And you already know why. That's, that's, that's, a kind of perfect, innit? It's..." she groped for the right words, "...flawless."
"Yes," she said, squeezing Lena's hands tightly. "For a reason, and with a purpose, and she," she gestured to her head to the screen, "is like that, and also biological, also for a reason, also for a purpose."
Lena put the rest of the pieces together. "...and nobody else in the whole world is."
The Widowmaker pulled Tracer against her, suddenly, roughly, and put her head on the Overwatch agent's shoulder. Lena could hear the spider breathing and found herself dazed, wrapping her arms around the assassin before she even knew what she was doing, asking only as she did it, softly, "...is this okay? Do you want a hug? 'Cause I can stop..."
"...no. I think I do."
She is so lonely, thought the former test pilot. And she don't even know it. Maybe that's why I don't mind this. She held the cool blue woman carefully in her arms. "Did you lose it, somehow? Your purpose?"
The spider did not say anything.
"Did you stop believing in it? Was that it?"
"It was... I could not stop... thinking. I was perfect, and whole, and content, and I brought exquisite deaths, and then I... and then I laughed, and I was not perfect, and not whole, and not content, and I could not fix it."
"And you miss that purity of purpose."
"Would you go back to it?"
Tracer nodded, and hugged a little tighter, as she said, "Because it's part of being a person. That's why you're here, innit?"
Widowmaker lifted her head from Lena's shoulder, looked her in the eyes, and whispered, "You do know."
Lena Oxton met the spider's gaze, and was not afraid. "This much, yeh. I do."
The spider laughed, just a little. Another thought, all her own. "May I hug you again, later?"
Tracer surprised herself by nodding agreement at once. What am I doing? She... she's who she is. She's built to kill. I can't ignore that. "'Course you can."
"Thank you," she said, and went ahead and did it right then, as well.
I can't ignore what she is, but maybe, Tracer thought, as Hana burst back into the room with grotesque amounts of junk food, ...maybe I can learn to live with it.
Snarfed off the Tor.com ebook club:
- Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey. Fantasy, rather renowned, and it’s been on my To Read shelf for a stupidly long time. Grabbed the ebook to up the chances I might actually eventually read this thing. ;D
And meanwhile my author friend
- Sojourn, Book 1 of her Tales of the Unearthly Northwest. Cop crashes his car and winds up in a ghost town–and his version of Brigadoon is not a carefree musical.
- Much Ado in Montana. Contemporary romance. Which, I might add, has been previously featured on Boosting the Signal!
- Cross-Country: Adventures Alone Across America and Back. Non-fiction. An account of the author’s travels across the country! If you like travelogues, you might want to check this out.
- Homesick: A Time in Yellowstone Story. This is a novella, Book 4 of her Time in Yellowstone series.
- New Year’s Eve in Conconully, another Tales of the Unearthly Northwest book.
- Reunion, the third Tales book.
24 for the year.
Mirrored from angelahighland.com.
(I like having the ability to read all antique media. Need anything off a Commodore PET floppy? In theory, I can do that for you, as long as it's double-density or less, and yes, they had a 1mb PET floppy at one point.)
The machine is named Blue, drive D is named Purple, and it's registered to Amélie Lacroix and the password is oneshotonekill because of course it had to be. Also, the desktop starts out with weapons and such but turns into widowtracer art because we all know what's really going on here.
It's also much quieter now, particularly for a machine from 1996, as I've replaced all the fans and improved the venting. Two of the fans were outright dead - the CPU and GPU fans, so that's terrifying. (I think the CPU fan may have worked occasionally, but don't hold me to it. Also I had already improved the venting some, even with the old fans - I just improved it more now.)
A couple of power supply capacitors should be replaced too, they're bulging a bit, and I had to order them - VetCo had none of the right caps in stock. Ah well, I tried.
I'm playing a lot of Widowmaker against AIs in hard mode, because I'm learning the character, because I used to be a decent sniper once, and not at all because I write Tracermaker fic and identify with certain aspects of Widowmaker no not at all don't let's be silly.
And one thing I figured out real quick is that if the enemy team has a Zen and I get in line of sight, whether he can see me or not, he will whip around and instakill me. Seriously, I've seen it enough in replays to know, he's 180 degrees facing away from me, I peek over, WHIP DEAD.
(I am not exaggerating. Engaged with others of my team, facing away, no fukkit I'm killing that Widowmaker.)
And I was getting kind of salty about this because no human player could do that, right? And I was complaining about it to @annathepiper, and she said:
Well, you did assassinate his brother....and i'm like "...oh yeah."
So now, okay, it's still super frustrating? But it's also kind of hilarious.
Fortunately there seems to be some sort of distance limit to the trigger for that reaction, so I can take him out from afar and then try to play. But, still, damn. And, still, lol.
I guess it's a pain in the ass but I totally deserve it. Except my Widowmaker didn't do that. So I don't. I need an AU of this mode that works in my Fear of Spiders AU. Or something. XD
I stalled out a bit under 50% last December, but I recently dove back in to finish it off. It definitely was improved by >1 playback speeds, and I was able to go as high as 2x without any noticeable loss of absorption. Helps that it was pretty breezy material for the most part, and I'm now wondering if the narrator was unusually slow to begin with.
I was a bit surprised just how turgid this book was. It's quite famous for inventing the modern biography. I guess I'm just glad it was the more grounded and human, less hagiographic aspects that caught on with other authors, not the obsessive day-by-day chronicling.
As often in pre-modern contexts, I can't help but wondering if their friendship had a sexual component. I think I have some very close friends, but I really can't imagine expressing my deep affection for them in the overtly romantic ways that Boswell and Johnson regularly did for each other. But is that just a modern tendency to view everything through a sexual lens? Certainly the open acknowledgement of homosexuality has been a mass-extinction-level event for the expression of male-male affection in my culture over the last several decades. I don't know how to begin to detangle my own cultural programming in this instance.
With this finally finished, I'm getting to the end of the Great Book series. (At least all the ones I'm ever likely to read. I doubt I'll ever be up for Plotinus or Aquinas, for instance.) I have a bit more John Locke on my Kindle right now that I'd like to get through, and I suspect I'll eventually get around to all 120 hours of Gibbon's Decline and Fall, but that's it. Oh well! It's been convenient, having a big list like this to work from, but it's not like there is any shortage of other things to be read.
- You may ask any dev-related question you have in a comment. (It doesn't even need to be about Dreamwidth, although if it involves a language/library/framework/database Dreamwidth doesn't use, you will probably get answers pointing that out and suggesting a better place to ask.)
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Seriously, I fell 100 points despite continually golding in objective kills and time but absolutely nothing I could do mattered.
So many bad team decisions - teams entirely off comms, floating mostly-sniper groups (seriously it'd be like three snipers and a Genji on capture-the-point levels, and I'm like, are you trying to lose?), Hanzo trying to dive-bomb a held point solo, one game with no healers (so I played Mercy as best I could), bastions insisting on playing on offence and trying to turret their way from off point to victory I guess? So terrible.
(I mean I'm not a good Mercy; if I have a choice on healer I'm picking Ana, but I'll try. I got a couple of rounds of rezzes per game, but they weren't protecting me so it was still bad.)
I'm not the sort to go on comms and say "this combo is guaranteed to lose no matter what I do" and I was trying to coach but with so few people on comms, well.
The only good part was that afterwards I said 'fukkit I'm taking Widowmaker into quickplay for the first time' and proceeded to silver (23) in kills, gold (20) in objective kills, and gold (I don't remember, but it was several minutes) in objective time. This should NOT BE A THING and is STILL MORE BAD DECISION THEATRE, yet there I was taking down Reinhardt with my Talon machine gun because SOMEONE HAS TO BE ON POINT and I GUESS IT'LL BE ME.
The best part being, of course, that I did take Reinhardt down with my machine gun on the point three times. It was like I was paying Tracer. He was so mad. As was, really, their whole team, 'cause it wasn't just him. I had a 12 kill streak at one point, all objective.
The only way they won is that they literally stacked all their ults at me, and it still took a few goes. The first point, I'd tried playing Widowmaker properly and killed like half their team on their first push and yet they still took the point immediately, and the first 2/3rds of the second, so all this was in the context of nine minutes of defence on the second point.
We lost, of course, in overtime, because I'm sorry even I can't survive four stacked ults pointed at me.
But I did unlock the Does That Sting? achievement on my first actual game as Widowmaker. That was hilarious. Don't underestimate those venom mines, kids, I had like eight kills with 'em.