Posted in books, dystopia, post-apocalypse, random thoughts, science fiction, writing

A Dismal Night

So I’m too cheesed off about the tree incident to concentrate on writing tonight, even on my post-apocalyptic tale, so I thought we could discuss PA and dystopian tales, and why we like them so much. This was inspired earlier today by a HuffPo article on the same topic (not tree trimming gone wrong – why we love dystopian stories).

The article talks about how dystopian stories are more honest, giving us raw, unvarnished truths about how ruthless we can be, and how damaging these horrific events can be to the people who have to suffer them.

Yes, there is all that. It’s good to see man’s inhumanity to man portrayed in an honest way, and instead of glorifying war. Better to show these atrocities in the way that people truly experience them, instead of making it seem like something desirable.

But for me, I think the biggest draw for dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories is the idea that at some point we’ll get a ‘reset’ button, that we’ll have a ‘do-over’ on the world. ‘Cause frankly, it’s a mess, and short of civilization crashing and having to rebuild from the ground up, nothing is going to change. Now, I have to add that were that situation to occur, I can more readily believe a scenario like David Brin wrote in “The Postman”,
or any of the “Mad Max” movies, “The Book of Eli”, “Waterworld” or something like the new show, “Revolution”

will arise to take our current society’s place. We are a vicious, predator species, and a couple more set-backs isn’t going to change that.


Sure, I think some people are kinder than others and anyone with any real smarts will see the value of cooperating with others, banding together to survive. But just as looting becomes the order of the day in any city during a blackout, there will always be those who exist only for themselves and will do anything to anyone to advance themselves, not unlike most politicians.

Even still, part of me would like the chance to reroute humanity’s path, and hope the next time around we’ll get it right. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll make a few better choices.

Posted in dystopia, Office Life, post-apocalypse, random thoughts, science fiction, Tarot, writing

Save Yourself

I know I’ve been very dull and nearly incommunicado lately, but my precious free time is going more to my stories than my blog. Here are the two opening paragraphs from the one that I’m most obsessed with lately, tentatively titled “Save Yourself; I’ll Hold Them Back” (thanks to My Chemical Romance):

Pistol gripped in his right hand, his coat open for easy access to the rest of his weapons he had strapped to various parts of his body, Gareth sat on the ground in front of the house with his back against the wall while Bernie slept on inside. The limited field of view in the company issue night-vision goggles annoyed him and he never used them. He did better with his eyes shut, listening for noises that didn’t belong, feeling the vibrations of approaching footsteps. Like a cat, he rose and stretched every few minutes to keep his muscles loose. He hoped the others had gotten his message but for now he and Bernie were on their own.

She hadn’t wanted him with her on this run, and had made it very clear before they left Chicago. She was the best surviving courier in the west, so when the company had sent Gareth to make the run with her, she wasn’t what could be called pleased. She’d packed her small duffle bag with extra ammunition, a few hand grenades, and her favorite handguns. The rifle, however, was never out of reach. She drove with it on the seat next to her, slept with it inches from her face. As she zipped the duffle bag closed she stopped and looked Gareth in the eye. “I can get to San Francisco faster on my own. I don’t need help.”

It’s a post-apocalyptic piece that I’ve been toying with for some time and really want to get finished.

Be that as it may, let’s keep to our weekly Tarot card drawing for some inspiration to survive another week, shall we? I’m going with a different deck this week, let me know if you prefer the other and the quotes. This is from the Power Deck by Lynn V. Andrews, with paintings by Rob Schouten. I got it in a box of assorted books and decks I bought off Ebay for a song. I believe it’s long out of print (copyright 1991).

This isn’t the prettiest card in the deck, but it’s the one I drew, so I am going with it. Must be something I’ll need this week.

At a time when I’m trying REALLY REALLY hard to fit in and adapt mentally to my job, I’m not sure how asserting my individuality is going to help. I’ve never been good at hive mentality.

Seize your power! Have a good week everyone.

Posted in dystopia, Office Life, random thoughts

Dispatch from the Zone: Paranoia, problem, or just hurt feelings?

I’m starting to get the distinct impression my boss just does not like me. She has barely spoken to me since I’ve been here (nearly 2 months now), yet seems to go out of her way to greet everyone else in the office, poking her head around the corner to say good morning or goodbye to my co-workers, but barely glancing in my direction. This morning she actually stopped to introduce one of her peers (who also happens to be her partner) to the new girl, Ms. Amherst. Her partner, on the other hand, has always been very friendly and pleasant to me. Too bad I’m not working for her. When she asked Ms. A if she was going to be taking over a particular function, Ms. A sort of gave a vague answer because she didn’t know anything about it (which is fine, she’s brand new, no reason she should know about it), at which point I spoke up and said I had it. That ended the conversation. I try to be friendly, always say good morning or good night with a smile. If it was just that she doesn’t know me well yet… well, that doesn’t explain her stopping to chat with Ms. Amherst this morning. She doesn’t know her either. Sometimes someone just rubs us the wrong way, maybe that’s what this is. Maybe something about me just irritates her. If so, I really need to find another job.

Posted in dystopia, Office Life, Portland, random thoughts, writing

Dispatch from the Zone – Urge To Kill

Oh not a good way to start the day. I think I mentioned about some of these guys on the train that have tried to chat me up, and how I tend to give them the cold-shoulder. I’ve had one that has persisted for quite a long time now. I think he first tried last winter, by asking where I worked and I stupidly mumbled the name of the company. Did I continue the conversation (if you can call it that) or encourage him by asking where he worked? I did not. (Sidenote: This is not the short fat black guy, this is a dorky white guy who affects to be a cyclist.)

Well, that seemed to be the end of it for awhile, but recently he’s made a couple more attempts. He managed to sit next to me on the bus one day and tried to revive this ancient encounter by saying “Don’t you work at [company name redacted]?” I muttered something, turned to look out the window and ignored him for the duration of the ride. I even had my “Do Not Disturb” sign on that day (my faux engagement ring). I thought that had done the trick when I was a little obvious about flashing it around. I thought wrong. He tried again earlier this week as we were walking down the train platform to the bus, asking me about my bike and cycling. I kept walking, got ahead of him WHILE HE WAS STILL TALKING, got on the bus and put my crap in the seat next to me to keep him from sitting with me again.

Now, wouldn’t you think he would have gotten the hint after all this time that I do not want to talk to him? Well, guess what happened this morning? You’ll never guess so I’ll tell you.

I drove this morning, which is proving to have been the best decision I have made in some time. And here’s why. Manager Overseer took the train to work this morning. This is extraordinary because this is only the second time he has EVER taken the train to work. You’re not going to believe this, I’m still in shock. HE KNOWS THE STALKER. They were neighbors at some point. And guess what they started talking about? You got it, ME. How this came up in the conversation is still unclear, suffice it to say Stalker now knows my name. I did manage to ascertain that Overseer was not quite stupid enough to give this douchebag my phone number (mostly because he didn’t happen to have it handy, but from the way he answered the question, I think Stalker may have asked for it and Overseer wasn’t able to produce it).  Overseer claims he told this guy that I’m a “private person.” Ya think? Can you imagine if I had been there? Overseer would have seen me and started talking to me, then when this douche got on the train he would have used his past acquaintance with Overseer as a pretext to insert himself in the conversation.

So now I don’t EVER want to take the train to work again. I may have to stagger my schedule and come in later or earlier. I’m not big on confrontations, but I think this may have just passed the point of no return. Overseer keeps trying to say what a nice guy Stalker is, but as I pointed out everyone thought that about the guy who shot his ex-wife and all those people in that hair salon in California yesterday. And this guy should have gotten the hint by now that I do not want to talk to him. His goddamn extremities should have fallen off from frostbite by now. I’m so upset I can hardly see straight. You wouldn’t believe how long it has taken me to type this short post. I’m fuming, I have no idea how much Overseer told him, and he’s not being very forthcoming. He did however apologize for anything he may have done to make the situation worse. I think my liberal use of the F-bomb may have conveyed to him the level of my displeasure with this situation.

It’s not that I’m not interested in ever talking to anyone, but I was never interested in talking to this guy, he should have gotten that message by now, and yet he still persists, so I’m freaked out. He has earned the classification “stalker” in my opinion by this behavior.

Suggestions, advice, sympathy will be accepted with gratitude. I have options that I intend to exercise, but am open to other paths.

Posted in dystopia, Office Life, random thoughts, writing

Dispatch from the Zone – Big Brother Knows Where You Are

Most of you are familiar with Overseer, one of the managers I support here in my job. He’s the classic cheapskate. When he took a one-year ex-pat assignment overseas, he actually had someone at the company ship his underwear to him that he had forgotten to pack, rather than just buy new where he was. Hand to god, I am not making this up. He pulls down a six-figure salary, better than three times what I currently make. His wife is also a professional who makes damn good money when she works, although her work history has been spotty the last couple of years. She’s out of work right now, got laid-off from her last job (I suspect they were kind and laid her off rather than straight-up firing her by the stink he made about how annoyed she was that she hadn’t left on her own terms, intimating that she had been hoping to give notice but they beat her to it. Read into that what you will). She’s been collecting unemployment as a result.

So now, they just got back from a two week trip to Spain and France. If you’ve been on unemployment, you know you have to check in weekly via phone or internet and answer a series of questions about your status. One question is whether or not you were away from your home for more than three days in the previous week, I guess to see if you were actively looking for work or maybe away on vacation spending money you don’t need to collect from them. She answered no. And here’s where it gets interesting. She got a letter back from them stating their records indicated that was not correct and is now being investigated. If they find out she was gone her unemployment will be reduced. She did continue to do some job searching over the net while away, and in fact has a job offer now, so how that will figure in I don’t know. But apparently the two of them felt that because she was able to continue the job search while overseas it was unfair to have to report that she had been gone and therefore not be entitled to collect her $416 dollars for that week (which, I might add, is twice what I got when I was unemployed).  So how did they know she was gone? That’s the question! Possibly from her social media activity. They apparently posted stuff on their social media sites (whichever ones they use) during the trip. Be warned. Even if you’re not trying to put one over on the Man, your social media activity is being watched.

I am just so appalled that these people who are not in financial straits by any stretch of the imagination would lie about being gone for a couple of weeks. To Europe. I wish I could afford to go to Europe. Maybe in my next life. I’ve had to sit and listen to this guy pontificate about how everyone should be putting aside money for emergencies, it’s just a no-brainer, blah blah blah. He has no idea what it’s like to live from paycheck to paycheck, with nothing leftover to put aside. Not a clue.

And the second lesson to take away from this is to watch what you do online. He’s pretty sure it had nothing to do with the passport checks or the airline tickets (which they got months ago) that triggered anything. While I think they’re getting what they deserve for lying about being gone, I do find it disturbing that people’s movements are being tracked like this. If this had happened to me, you better believe I wouldn’t be in the office complaining about Big Brother catching me in a lie, but he apparently feels so entitled to this pittance (seriously this is like chump change to him) that he thought nothing of telling me this whole tale this morning.

And to see people who really are in financial straits, I direct you to We Are the 99 Percent. This was tweeted out by Arianna Huffington, who famously is richer than God and doesn’t pay the writers on Huffington Post. I find it insulting that she (or one of her minions tweeting on her behalf) would tweet this out, as if she’s suffering right along with the rest of us riff-raff. And no, I don’t follow her. It was retweeted by someone I do follow, who got it from someone they follow, who apparently follows her. So like a fourth-generation tweet. Overseer and Arianna would probably have lots to talk about.

Posted in dystopia, writing

Milestones and Veggies

A milestone for my little blog: Just broke 50,000 views (50,002 at last check) on the site today! Woohoo! Thanks to everyone who comes by and reads on a regular basis, and to those who drop by once in awhile, or ever at all.

In other, vastly more interesting news, all charges have been dropped against the Michigan woman who was cited for planting a vegetable garden in her yard. I wish I was kidding that this had happened at all. Julie Bass’s blog is here. I first heard the story via the Health Ranger, Mike Adams.

(NaturalNews) This is a breaking news update: Michigan gardener Julie Bass has confirmed with NaturalNews that all charges have been dismissed in her case, including the two misdemeanor dog licensing charges the city threatened her with after dropping her “illegal gardening” charge.

You can read more about it on his site, and here is the article that sounded the alarm.  This is right up there with the illegal clothesline issue I blogged about awhile back on my other blog. It just baffles me that there are people who feel the need to control other people’s lives to this degree. I have neighbors who grow huge zucchini plants in their front yard. They have a teeny tiny backyard that gets almost no sun so where else are they going to do it? I couldn’t care less.

Anyway, I just thought it was incredible that it actually went to court.

Posted in books, dystopia, post-apocalypse, science fiction, science fiction, writing

Post-Rapture Reading Suggestions

I think we can all conclude that even if the Rapture occurs as predicted by Harold Camping, (where it says, “The End off [sic] the World,” I guess spelling doesn’t count in Heaven) I’m not going anywhere. Furthermore, I refuse. I’m holding out for Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods, as any good Norsewoman would. Hand me that labrys, would you?

That said, those of us who are still going to be here (you know who you are) will still need something to read. So I started looking at post-apocalyptic books, you know, to get in the mood. I was mildly surprised to discover that post-apocalyptic lit dates back to the early 1800s, when Mary Shelley (yes, THAT Mary Shelley) wrote what is apparently the very first post-apocalyptic book all the way back in 1826. Overshadowed of course by her earlier more famous work,Frankenstein, The Last Man
is set in the year 2100, after some kind of plague has decimated the human race. The book was trashed in its day, and it wasn’t until the 1960s that it was revived.

In 1885, Richard Jefferies wrote After London: Wild England wherein an unspecified disaster of some sort wipes out most of the population and nature begins to reclaim the land.

Everyone is familiar with H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds from 1898 but unlike the movies the book is set in Victorian London. I remember how surprised I was when I first found that out, although I don’t know why I was surprised that Hollywood had moved the setting to the United States.

Another surprise was finding that Jack London had penned The Scarlet Plague in 1912. Set in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2073, again, a mysterious plague nearly obliterates the human race. More a novella at only 86 pages, it is sadly out of print.

In 1909, E. M. Forster (better known for Howard’s End, The Remains of the Day, A Room With a View) gave us The Machine Stops.

I admit I am surprised at so much dystopian, apocalyptic writing during this Victorian era. Was science advancing too quickly for comfort? The new era of mechanization also gave rise to the Arts and Crafts movement, and Art Nouveau. It must have seemed like the world was already out of control, and the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 hadn’t even hit yet.

There has been more post-apocalyptic/dystopian literature written since the 1940s than I can shake a stick at, but it’s easy to see where that came from: World Wars, the Cold War, space race, and so on. Rather than try to list it all, I refer you to David Brin’s Facebook list (you don’t need to be a member to see this) of post-apocalyptic novels, including his own The Postman from 1985 (do not be deterred by the movie that was made of it). And if you are of a science-y bent, you can follow him on Twitter @DavidBrin1 .

I’m going to go sharpen my weapons now.