Saturday, August 15, 2015

Tumblr versus Reddit, Feed versus Forum

           Feeds have become increasingly popular recently, with social media sites like tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram all using it extensively. People like the feed because it takes no selection. You just pick things before hand to subscribe to, and then when you come back there's always new content scattered around, but easy to go through sequentially. There isn't a lot of following actually, cuz you just look at what's first on the feed and go down. Reddit is much different. With the usage of forums, topics stay organized, but less gets shared. You can't post things to your friend's feeds like you can with Tumblr. You can message people and follow your posts to see what people say, but other than that, things stay in their places. The benefits of this include more directive usage. It's still possible to surf the front page or /r/'s that are just a bunch of gifs and pics, but there are other sites that are better for that anyway. In reddit, the forum, you can actually have topics that are interactive. Things progress. On tumblr, with a feed, things loop in on themselves and spread from their sources, but they have to be small packets, but are also able to be more socially-aimed that reddit's forums.

  Oddly, however, they both have the same number of letters.,


About Adventure Time

Recently, a friend of mine highly recommended me to watch a TV show called Adventure Time (on Cartoon Network). I don’t usually watch TV shows at all, and much less kid’s cartoons, but my friend promised me that it was really good and that it was more than that. So I gave it a try.
It really is amazing! So well done. All the characters (that are important) have interesting histories and character development throughout the show. During the first few episodes, the show was pretty typical in its approach, the main difference being that it was so weird and random. I think that AT pretty much started
that trend of cartoons on Cartoon Network, like Regular Show and a few others. The style is so way out there random. In the very beginning of season one, there was particular character I remember that clearly emphasized the style randomness that the show gets at. He is a minotaur, names the “Manly Minotaur” after his  muscular body, and he loves to flex and encourage Finn (AT’s main character) to proceed on his journey. When Finn gets to the top of the mountain that he was climbing, the Manly Minotaur says “good job!” and then flexes. But when he flexes, little arms that are flexing pop out of his muscles, making for a very weird
looking appearance.
For most those first episodes, I was like “what am I watching??” But then it started to get really good. The character development is what really defines the show, I would say. Of course there are characters that are just fillers or singletons, just like every show has. But AT has so many and such deep characters like Finn (of course), Jake, Princess Bubblegum, the Ice King (Simon), Marceline the Vampire Queen, Betty, LSP, Tree Trunks (to an extent), BMO, and many more.
The setting of Adventure Time, which is a huge and really interesting part of the show, is fist presented as if it just is. I don’t think that they do anything at all to even attempt at explaining things in the first season. There are princesses made of different kinds of food, minotaurs, magic, stretching dogs, and randicorns (rainbow-unicorns), and you watch them all do their stuff, not really thinking about how the hell a backstory could make sense of it. And you don’t really expect a backstory from the beginning (at least, I didn’t).
A little later into the show though (seasons 2 and 3, and definitely 4), the story start to get deep. But the show definitely doesn’t completely revolve around it. Things can get really interesting, and you start to wonder about the world and how things work. There’s tons of setting and story to explore. And, additionally, you really get to know the recurring characters as if they are real and have a complete, all-around personality. Finn especially is exposed to all sorts of different situations that bring out many different parts of him. I know, however, that this isn’t unique to Adventure Time. There are plenty of good shows and books that have great character development. What would make Adventure Time different?
Well, the setting has a lot to do with it. The crazy, magical wasteland that Finn lives in lets the writers experiment with almost any interaction they could think of. There isn’t much of a story at all to Adventure Time, honestly. There is a lot more of it as you get to seasons 4, 5, and 6, but all in all, its a bunch of random adventures that teach you more about the characters (hence the name of the show). Along with the setting, the writers are able to bring in extremely extreme character. A great example of this is the Ice King (Simon). The Ice King fits almost every symptom of insanity that you could think of (besides paranoia). He has no empathy, acts on desire alone, has no consideration for any consequences to anything, is self-obsessed, has crazy ideas, talks nonsense, and is severely depressed without expressing it at all. I won’t spoil anything, don’t worry. The Ice King isn't alone in his insanity.
In fact, almost every character in adventure time is extreme in at least one way to the point that you could, according to the standards of society, call them crazy. The characters on Adventure Time may be crazy by these standards, but it is only because they are too extreme in their conviction, attitude, or behaviors. Most of the characters aren't insane in the sense that they have inhibitions to their thinking capacities, have hallucinations, or are amnesiacs. They are just very extreme in certain ways. The great thing about this show, though, is that the characters don’t become one-dimensional because of this. The Ice King is not just the villain that continually disrupts things. Finn is not just the hero that goes around saving the day. Princess Bubblegum is not just the royalty figure that demands quests in order to give Finn some direction. Adventure Time does an excellent job of making sure each important (and recurring) character has many different angels to them and are well rounded personalities.
There is so much more to AT that I haven’t mentioned, but here at the end of this essay, I would definitely like to recommend the show! However, it isn't for everyone. AT is a great show in the general sense of good TV shows, but to really get the most out of it, you have to be willing to think. There is a lot of symbolism, philosophy, and personality in Adventure Time, and never is it explicit. A large portion of the fan base for Adventure Time are adults; if you end up watching all of the show you won’t surprised. Though it seems like a childish adventure for Finn through a  fantasy candy-scape, like Pendleton Ward initially wanted it to be (mostly), it ends up being the best it can be at that and so much more. Its a philosophical journey of an adolescent as he learns to build his values, discover more about his world, society, and origins, and ultimately experience so many different aspects of human life. Adventure Time can appeal to anyone if you have an open mind. And its funny sometimes too.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Different Views on and Joys in Life

Different Views on and Joys in Life

By different views on life, I mean that these groups are primarily satisfied by different things, and this satisfaction is usually enough for them to keep on living. Of course there are other side things like food, love, sex, friends, etc.. But, for example, someone would only be considered a “Fan” if they enjoyed food so much that they spent much of their time learning about it or making it, enjoyed all of this, and made dealing with food a large part of their life and personality.

The Fan

The Fan is someone who is interested by and enjoys a particular thing or genre of things to an extent where it overcomes all other interests that they have. By overcome, I do not necessarily mean take precedence over, I mean that they spend more time doing / thinking about this more than anything else. So, for example, if a person is a Fan and their interest is figurines, they might spend an obsessive mount of money on them, but they won’t necessarily take away from special occasions with their family, hurt themselves financially, or begin stealing money in order to pay for it all. The Fan is satisfied by the stimulation and enjoyment that learning about a particular thing gives them. Also, the Fan generally likes to show off his or her interest. A Fan interested in Anime could buy little character figurines, posters, computer wallpapers, etc. A person may be a fan of something without being considered a “Fan”. Someone may enjoy watching sports and like a particular team, but it only pushes them towards classification of “Fan” when that person’s interest becomes a main focus of their thinking and life. The defining factor is how a person’s interest in and enjoyment of something fuels their life.

The Artisan

The Artisan is different from the Fan in one main way: The Artisan likes to make what they are interested in (whereas the Fan in content with learning about and experiencing it, not interacting with it). There a infinitely many different kinds of art, from music to bread-making. Someone may have enjoyed doodling in their notebooks in High School, but this does not make them an artisan. People that are endlessly fascinated by the art and spend much of their time thinking, talking, or making it are Artisans. An example most people are familiar with: Leonardo da Vinci, or Mozart. “Art” is a pretty loose term. Many people believe art is simply something useless in practicality that is made to show off. This can be the case, but their are many forms of art that are completely outside that description. Math is an art. Architecture is an art. Most forms of engineering are forms of art as well. An art is, generally, a design by a person. It may be created for the maker themselves, or it may be a product. The line between an Artisan and a Producer is very slim, and in many ways the two overlap. But their is a defining difference: an Artisan makes art because of their interest in the art itself, but a producer creates things (sometimes art) because of their interest in profit / production. The Artisan enjoys the intricacies or the simplicities of their art of interest. An Artisan who is a software engineer loves the intricacies of the code and also how they can be made beautifully simple. They take pleasure in playing around with unconventional ways of coding just so that they may learn and understand more about the structures and systems, and their endless interactions and possibilities. Scientists are artisans.

The Philosopher

The Philosopher takes interest in life itself and also mostly abstract thinking. As with all the other classifications, they may also be interested in art of a TV show or in being popular, but their main joy in life comes from thinking, or talking with other people. Philosophers are generally less common because it is a bitter kind of pleasure that comes from thinking and talking. Many people may enjoy philosophy, they may talk to a Philosopher or read a good book that gives them a slightly different view on their entire life, but if they themselves are not a Philosopher, they will be extremely likely not to entirely apply it, ponder it, or be affected by it significantly. If, however, that receiver is a Philosopher, they will be intrigued. They will want to read other similar books, talk about it with their friends, maybe journal about their feelings about it, blog it. Not all Philosophers are extremely social, but most are interested in the reactions of other people to their thoughts. Most Philosophers reason that they are rare in taking such an amount of joy from pondering, but they know that other perspectives, no matter how small, can still be interesting. Those Philosophers that are extremely private with their dwellings still take input. They must observe the world and other people in order to be inspired. That is not to say that all inspiration comes form the Philosopher’s eyes though, the most inspiration comes from the mind. But the mind yearns for input, and it is close to impossible for a Philosopher to resist that, unless they have other extreme factors at work. Most Philosophers are believers in what they think, for they think a lot. They do not feel as if they have impulsive thoughts that they take to heart, they decide to think and reason and research about their ideas. The Philosopher may sound like they are only an Artisan of philosophy, but there is a key difference. The Philosopher is not making science, they are using their mind as part of it. All Artisans are based in reality, there is not expression inside their mind that satisfies them. They must use the world around them. But the Philosopher takes the world around them, puts it through their mind, and feels the joy there. Art is science, and philosophy is not science (religion is philosophy, by the way). Philosophy is more than a study, philosophy is a way of life, and the way of life that the Philosopher has taken interest in. Biology is not a way of life because, although its research may give personal joy and it may effect your views on life at times, it is a science and doesn’t go beyond observation. Philosophy is beyond observation, although parts of it include it. So, a Philosopher could be considered an Artisan but also more. (Many Philosophers also become writers or other artists).

The Producer

The Producer may appear much like an Artisan, but is different in a way unlike the Philosopher. The Producer is interested in the production, profit, and advancement of themselves or their creation rather than specifically in the parts of the creation itself. A Producer that is a s software engineer may be interested in the intricacies of the art of programming and systems, but their main interest would be in how they can advance their position and produce more with the code. Producers often want power. They want and enjoy the prestige of success. They want to become bigger and more powerful. Most Artisans want simply for their work, but a Producer want for himself. He wants these things because he enjoys them, and almost necessarily, knows that he will enjoy them before achieving them. Most people would consider this sort of philosophy greedy and selfish, and some producers are. They want for themselves and feel that what they make is more than enough to repay society. But some producers also feel pride and enjoyment simply in having the power and the capacity to do as much as they do, and they want more always. They always want to advance. The difference between these “subclasses” of Producer are that one of them respects production and the other simply wants it. The latter does not care if they take it from others or if they destroy others to make themselves seem better by co mparison. But the former respects the ability of others and feels morally obligated to better them but not by attack and crime, but by competition. That is not to say that a producer is, by definition, not a criminal. Some producers may be criminals, in fact those at the extreme spectrum of this or any previous classifications may be criminals, criminal minded, or at the very least not completely “moral”. The vast majority of people are not criminals (in the eyes of the law) however. By crime I mean by stealing, claiming things that are not yours to claim. How do you gain the right to something? Through your own effort, and you receive equal to your effort. This is pretty hard to determine, and is generally at the digression of the Producer or person in the better position. However, either party in a transaction can have opinions that are influenced by facts that are not in their control, so they CAN know they are cheating and stealing under their own views of morality.

The Blue-Collar and the Community Member

As technology has advanced and increasingly allowed people to take fuller advantage of their interests, this classification has been diminishing. The Blue-Collar is someone who’s work is generally monotonous and not of their special interest, and their home life is primarily relaxation. These people are important to society for their work, and in communities they can be important filler. What are their interests? What gives them joy in life? Unlike the previously mentioned groups, they do not really have great joys either because they do not have the ability to experience them or they do not feel the motivation to. If not for this, most Blue-Collars would become Artisans or Fans. They may be, to some extent, Artisans or Fans, or even Philosophers, but they do not take it to the level necessary to reach that classification. In general, they prefer relaxation. This may be because their work is very tiring or they have children that need constant attending, or a large number of other possible and reasonable explanations. But the fact is that in the huge majority of cases, the Blue-Collar could achieve the intrinsic motivation of joy if they were to pass a threshold of exposure to their interest. But they do not, they do not have the chance of the motivation to go that far. This threshold is different for everyone, and may very likely be higher for most Blue-Collars that do not turn. A Community Member is almost always a Blue-Collar as well. The definitions of a Community Member are essentially the other half to a Blue-Collar’s life, it is their interaction in the community. There is a spectrum of how much of a Community Member someone is; someone may be passively social and have a few good friends (at one end), or they may be the head of a couple groups and be friends with everyone, having no close friends (at the other end). Most people have private lives, but extreme Community Members may not sometimes (these are generally the only kind of people where that is at all probable). There are different mixes of sociality and close friends and public leadership, but there are general trends. People that are friends with a lot of people tend to be less close to their friends, and people that have few friends tend to be closer with them. In work and at home, the Community Member is part of the community (of course). Imagine a classic sitcom or a community from the South, these are good examples of pure Community Membership. Except the personalities of specific people may be their only defining factors as people, they do not go in any direction to the extent to become any of the classifications mentioned here besides Blue-Collar and Community Member. Going back to the backing behind these classifications, I am separating people here based on their view of and joy in life. The Blue-Collar is a colorless person, they are just not enough of anything. The Community Member, in a lesser extent, is a normal Blue-Collar. To much more of an extent, the Community Member gets joy from their membership, and they view life in the main context of their community. The huge people are Community Members to an extent, but when a Community Member is not any of the other classifications other than Blue-Collar, it becomes their main joy and perspective. Their thoughts and feelings and endeavors to the community or their fitting into the community supersede in time and effort any other interest they have. That is the different between a Community Member that is a Blue-Collar and a Community Member that is anything else. The Blue-Collar has nothing else, so they are driven primarily that way, but someone who is one of the other classifications is not primarily driven by their membership, although they most likely conform to it a lot.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

My Thoughts on Virtual Reality

     I’ve been thinking about virtual reality for a long time, and the implications of going far with it have really amazed me. Of course there is plenty of talk about the artificial intelligence singularity and quantum computing, but in the steps that lead up to that there is a less-popularly explored topic: the effect of widespread virtual reality.
     Some of my inspiration to start thinking about this topic came from a popular anime called “Sword Art Online”. Throughout the story, the main character plays MMO’s inside huge virtual worlds that have players form all over the real world (but especially Japan). To enter the virtual world, the users put on a “NerveGear” helmet, resembling a motorcycle helmet. It connects to your brain, getting input from your thoughts and projecting to you senses (through your brain). The writer doesn’t explain exactly how the connection works, without any sort of surgery or incision into the brain.

     All of the nervous system in your body runs at one point through your spinal cord up to your brain, so it is plausible that by ‘hacking’ into your upper spinal cord you could interfere directly with the brains interface with your senses. I don’t know exactly how this would work, and its not completely possible with today’s technology, but in my opinion its not too far in the future.
     Already, we are able to sense specific actions of thinking. Recently, the first man to wirelessly control two prosthetic arms with his mind did. Here is the video demonstration of the research at John Hopkins: I think that what they accomplished is really amazing, and that it is a huge step in the direction of actual, complete integration of virtual reality, at least technology-wise.

     What I am interested in also is the effects of virtual reality on our society. Let’s say that, at one point, virtual reality is able to hack into your senses and give you the experience of any experience programmed into a computer, things you could have in real life and even imaginary ones you might not even be able to dream of. And it would feel real. The computers by this time could be fast enough, considering the prospects of quantum computing power. Think of the possibilities of virtual reality with this integrative power: you can fly, play MMO’s, live in a completely separate world, eat and taste and feel full with whatever you want, have sex, not sleep, anything you can think of. You are basically having your brain detached from your body and put into a computer, and the computer can feed you input through any of your senses. There is a lot of danger to this. For example, if you play too long, you might starve yourself to death because you could turn off your hunger. Or you could not care about anything in real life, because you can have everything you want in your virtual life.
     The social consequences of this sort of technology are hard to predict, but I do have a few ideas. In ancient times, society’s values were very different. People were highly materialistic, and there were basically the nobility and the aristocracy (in most places. I am making generalizations of course). A specific example is how in Italy (as depicted in many famous paintings) the rich would make themselves fat, physically incapable, and generally pretty stupid, because they didn't have to be. The peasants, on the other hand, desperately needed food, efficiency, and bodily ability. The nobility indulged in pleasure, which is the thing that our bodies and minds have evolved to crave all the time. Why do we want it? Because the drive for it prompts us to put ourselves in such a good position that we don't need ability. People are “lazy” by nature, I think. At least, they want to be, and they put effort in making it easier for them to be. People enjoy vacations and taking breaks, playing games, surfing the internet, being unproductive. But we aren't able to do that indefinitely. In order to sustain ourselves we have to, for example, make money. We have an inherent value (normally) for our reputation and standing in other people’s eyes and our own. We want to look nice, attractive, seem successful and good, to others and much less often to ourselves.
     Not everyone is like the majority of everyone else. Of course there are disorders, and they are “disorders” only because they act out of the range of most people in certain ways. Disordered people seem to think and feel extremely in certain ways. Its considered “extreme” when it starts to interfere with “normal living”. For example, people with OCD are diagnosed because they aren't able to do everything in a normal range of normal tasks because of their compulsions (normal is just subjectively voted upon by high-ranking doctors). Disorders aren't a disability of the brain in all cases, its just that the disordered person has "extreme" thoughts, feelings, and compulsions that interfere too much with their life. In a certain way, they have certain extreme values. In general, disordered people have deviating values and views on the world (usually in specific ways).
     So not everyone follows the general trend of the way that evolution has decided that people should think, there are the variations. And this is as you would expect, if you have a good understanding of the theory of evolution. Perhaps one day certain things we consider disorders now will become the norm, for that difference might be beneficial as our environment and society changes. This hasn’t been predicted to be extremely likely, at least in the near future, because evolution has been extremely slow for the Homo Sapiens Sapiens race. Its been slow because most people have been having kids regardless of whether they are more or less “fit” than the majority of us. The biggest effect that fitness has is on one’s financial position and length of life, rather than the major effect of whether one lives till puberty or not.
     In a future society, where the majority of people can have literally any experience they could want at any free moment they have during the day, what would people value? I am inspired how first-world societies today have responded to overproduction of the necessities: some people are indulgent but everyone agrees that it is bad to be indulgent and limiting your intake and maximizing your output is what’s best to do. People value now more than ever to be physically skinny and sexually appealing. Following fashion is at a height because of the instantaneous availability of the media. We have so much information available that advertisement and the promotion of specific items has become a huge, immensely important industry. I have definitely heard, and likely the reader has as well, that companies pour an insane amount of money into advertisement, both online and on TV. The reader may have also heard the term “native advertisement” (watch this youtube video: Last Week Tonight: Native Advertising) which is in reference mostly to news websites showing advertisements in a way that could confuse you into thinking, at least at a glance, that they are part of the news content itself. The reader must have definitely noticed the rate of improvement in commercial quality over the lifetime of television has skyrocketed exponentially in the last few years. They shoot commercials as well as most cinema now, with the expert camera angles, video editing, and music composed specifically for a 30-60 second slot. Advertisement is important, its growing in many ways, and under capitalism and mostly-free economy, I don't think that it will stop. I think its pretty amazing – ads are turning into an entertainment of its own form. But I can talk about that in another essay, I’m moving aside from my point here.
     So what will people value? I don’t know for sure of course, but I do have some ideas. I think that people will become intensely competitive, because nothing at all usually would take any effort. There will be so many things to do in VR that people will never be bored, but their values will get bored. People are instinctual very social (and again, I’m referencing “people” as the majority of people now, as I observe). Sports involving skill will become popular I think (sports + VR) = esports), because skill is just a matter of time spent practicing it in most cases. For something like a real sport (e.g. basketball, soccer, football, etc.), not only time and effort, but pretty much every part of your life must be affected by and dedicated to your success in that sport, if you are a professional. Most people would like to be really good at something that they do, though many times this conviction is not more than some other things holding them back, and that is why not everyone is the best or tries to be at the things that they do. But there are people that do feel that way, and in the right conditions some of them become world-recognized professionals. In today’s society, however, it takes a lot more to be successful than just being good at what you do. So many things, I cannot possibly explain it all thoroughly. But in VR, things can be different. You can work on your skills practically any time you want, and computer would be tapped in to it all automatically, and it would be easier than ever for employers to find you they are looking for. What exactly will people be doing for a job in VR? I don't know, but the amount of skill that people can acquire in specific fields would be pretty amazing I think, and that would open up a lot of things. People wouldn't have to be well rounded, all they would need is VR and they could specialize in exactly what they are interested in, no matter how specific.
     I know that this sort of reality seems far fetched. Won’t people need to care about their real lives too? I’m sure that they will, and a lot, at the introduction of this sort of technology. But after a time, as the technology integrates into the society and larger populations, things will change. People will become more and more accustomed to VR, apply it to more of their life, and in a long enough time, practically all of their life. I actually don’t really want to use cell phones here as an example, but I will. At first, the technology of the cell phone made it clunky, unconventional, and unpopular. But things moved along. And now most first wold countries are dominated by cell phones and people try more and more to make them useful whenever they can; there’s always “an app for that”.
     When VR becomes like this … and actually cell phones are in no way at their maximum now, with the improvements to computing and all that, cell phones have huge improvements ahead of them in the near future I think. I won’t try to predict them right now, but I am excited for them. And VR will reach past the current position of cell phones as well. Well past it, because I think that VR has an unrivaled potential to integrate with people. Its literally everything that reality is, in its potential height.
     I think that VR will completely change society, in is ultimate integration. It will revolutionize widespread values even more, connect the world in pretty much every way, create an unbelievable amount of opportunities for everything, and even be really fun, the most fun that you can possibly have really. Unless you are intellectual, then it might not be the MOST fun you can have.



  Once upon a time, there lived two rabbits. They both lived together happily in a trash can in the side-yard of a most beautiful house. The owner was on vacation that week, so their situation was even better.
  The sun was scorching hot the first few days of the week, much to hot to do anything but swim laps in the gargantuan pool in the backyard. The fox from beyond the fence came too. The rabbits especially liked him, because he was so friendly and funny. Whenever the fox came, he brought his gofer pal from the garden across the street. The four knew each other quite well, and they all loved swimming. The fox especially loved pawing the beach ball around in the water. One of the rabbits had a special talent for balancing himself on the top of the beach ball, while it was floating. But the fox would not let him get to hot, being out of the water, the ball would soon be batted out from under the hare.
  Today was a special day. The animals had not gotten together since the 5th of May, two months earlier, when the house-owners had gone to some barbeque until early in the morning. The gofer remembered the nervousness from that time, however.
  It had gotten so later that the animals had all thought that the owners wouldn’t be back until later the next morning, so they had snuck into the house through the slightly-ajar bathroom window to watch scary movies on the television. When they saw the headlights coming up the driveway, they all bolted. The fox even broke that tiny little bathroom window on his way out. He had always had trouble getting through, but had made sure not to have to be rushed. Not that time.
  They all made it out in time, but they had all felt intensely the exhilaration of terror. While resting on the other side of the backyard fence, one rabbit had panted, “Lets next time have a rotating watch”. Everyone agreed eagerly.
  But, today, this week, was different. The rabbits had overheard a conversation through the kitchen window, which was above the trash cans, all about the owner-family’s plans for a getaway. The rabbits had eavesdropped with uncontained excitement, they had only had a chance like this once before. And that was a long time ago, before they leaned how to take advantage of it. Now they knew. It was going to be amazing.
  Usually, the gofer had a hard time swimming, so he often blew up a little floatie to paddle around on. No one made fun of him for it, he was the smallest of everyone because he was a gofer, and that wasn’t his fault. He happened to be incredible fast, also. He would splash one of the rabbits a few times, then skim his floatie across the water to the other side of the pool, squealing in the delight as his victim chased futily.
  The animals had the time of their lives all week together. They knew the owners had planned to return on the Monday, so they decided to have a special celebration on Sunday night. A rabbit and the gofer infiltrated the house and brought out the finest champagne in the cellar (the finest, that is, that they could safely reach). The fox popped the corks with his fangs, and the other rabbit remembered to run and grab the fancy wine-glasses that were stashed above the kitchen stove.
  “To us! And to a perfect summer’s week among friends!” toasted one rabbit. The rest smiled in contentment, cheered, clicked ostentatiously, and downed their sparkly beverage. They stayed up all night remembering the best memories of the week. They remembered how they had each met each other. They appreciated how this house was such a blessing to them. They marveled at how lucky they were to be able to experience such good times, together. They wouldn’t rather be with any other animals
  Too soon the first rays of dawn breached the cracks of the tall wooded fence. It was time to say goodbye. No one had gotten any sleep that last night, and none of them could be more glad. The fox jumped the fence. The gofer squeezed under the gate in the side yard. And finally the rabbits took refuge in the recycling been, for the family always seemed to have a load of trash to dump whenever they came back from anywhere. They soon fell asleep, nestled in newspaper. It was the best kind of sleep, knowing that they were exhausted from enjoyment among friends, and resting up for another chance, as soon as they could take it.

Rainbow Ship

     Wow look at me, flying on a rainbow ship. This must be a dream or something, there’s no such thing as a rainbow ship. What is this thing anyway, what the hell is a rainbow ship. It’s a ship shaped like a rainbow. Ha. This ship is definitely not a rainbow ship then.

     Its colored like a rainbow though, all around. Its got red, orange, yellow, and yeah, everything else. Just like a rainbow. Its going pretty fast too, almost straight up. But it seems to be curving a little, like we just did a take off and now we are leveling off. But what do I know, I’ve never been in a rainbow ship. This is kind of fun though, even if it’s just a dream. The rainbow ship is going faster than I’ve ever gone, and the wind is incredible. But also silent, how can that be?

     Maybe I’m inside? Is there some sort of glass covering the cockpit I’m in? I don’t know, let me see, hm, nope. No glass, the wind is just silent here. Just me and my thoughts. Except the wind does hurt quite a bit, its really strong, whipping me around, but it’s consistent at least. Always coming from right in front of me, where the rainbow ship is going. Where is this thing going?

     And cockpit too? Am I in control then? There aren’t any steering wheels or knobs or whatever, how weird. There’s just a nice comfy chair that I’m sitting in. And its rainbow colored, of course. Why not. The rest of the inside of the ship is all rainbows. Rainbows, rainbows, rainbows. I must be pretty crazy to be having this dream, to think all of this up.

     But not much is happening. Its just quiet. It’s actually pretty nice sitting here, enjoying the blizzard in my face and the empty silence of the universe. Relaxing. And mesmerizing. For some reason I don’t want to think, I want to just keep being here with nothing changing. Why do I want that. What the hell, dream. Why is my mind telling me this. Is it my mind? Maybe this is real. Why not.

     Actually something has changed, the ship is traveling almost perfectly horizontally now, whereas before it was vertically. I guess the ship must have been leveling of for a while now, in a big arc. I don’t know how long I’ve been going for, it seems like forever. I can’t remember when I started, if I started.

     Oh, ha, I get it. It’s a rainbow. A big rainbow, ha. Looking behind me… yeah there’s the rainbow. I’m leaving this big rainbow behind me. I mean, the rainbow ship is. I’m not really doing anything. I’m just stupidly sitting here because there’s not a lot I can do. I could jump out. Fun. I could keep sitting. Yeah, I’ll do that. This is just a dream, I should enjoy it.

     I’m the rainbow god! I get it now! I’m the god of rainbows and I fly my ship super fast over the spot where a rainbow should be, and I make one. Duh, why didn’t I think of that before, it makes perfect sense. I wonder if I have rainbow powers. Can I shoot rainbows? Can I eat rainbows?

     Ok this is getting pretty boring, how long is this dream, brain. I need to get up at some point so that I can go do stuff. You know, you’re my brain. So please can I get off now. This rainbow ship has been great and all, but seriously, I need to go. There’s no controls at all on this ship. What the hell. Why am I freaking out? This is just a dream, calm down. It will be over when it’s over.

     But it just really scares me, the ship is pointing down now. I feel like it’s going faster too. Too fast. Way too fast. And down even more. I feel sick. Are we going to eventually be doing straight down? This fast? We are going even faster than I could fall I think. I feel weightless. This is not good, where am I going where am I going. That nice little patch of green down there? Right into it? Please tell me, please tell me what’s going to happen rainbow ship.


(reader's digression is advised; this is a rated R article)


It is late at night and I am sitting in the bathtub. Its been a long day, too long. My friends hate me, and I know why. Its me, they hate ME. They like each other, other people like them, they have fun, and the hate ME. They talk behind my back, they lie about the personal things I tell them. They don’t trust me with anything but giving them fuel for their mocking fire. How are they my friends? How do I still hang out with them? I do because they are my group, I belong with them, I can’t just leave. I’ve been with them forever, we’ve all been best buddies since 6th grade.
I’m crying, I remember back then, I think of them as the good old days. Fuck why are they gone! Why did I have to change! Why did they have to change! Did I even change or was it just them? Everyone always had other friends other than just among our group, even though we were all best friends to each other. I only had one friend outside the group, because he was younger than us all by four years. He is really cool, and talented, and smart. He always likes to show me things that he makes or learns. I love listening to him, he is so immature but so playful. He makes me laugh with his anger, annoyance, happiness, and realization. He is like a cartoon to me, but a cartoon I care about. I spend time with him every Wednesday at the library after school, and we always have the best time. I love Wednesdays. Is that depressing? That the best part of my week is when I get to spend two hours with some little kid? No, that’s not what its like, that’s just what my friends say. They’re wrong.
I care about him because he’s a true friend, and also someone I AM able to help. No one else needs me or appreciates me, but he does. I almost feel suicidal right now, but then there’s my little boy that needs me. He cares about me too. Whenever I’m down, he makes me laugh, he makes me feel warm and full inside. It doesn’t matter that what we do is so trivial, but it matters more than anything that we have fun. And we do.
Why do I only have one friend like that? Should I only have one friend like that? I wish I had someone in school with me I could talk to like I talk to him. But that would be weird, even the friends I have now would ostracize me. That would be devastating, I need him but I can’t have only him. I need other people too, their attention. I need them to know me and still be my friends. Yeah even though they torture me, make fun of me, hate me. They are my only friends, I need a group, my own age.
If I had a friend like Jacob who was my age, I would undoubtedly have a huge crush on him. He would be so cute and he would care about me, do things for me. And I would care about him, and it would be mutual. Oh I wish that, can I have it? No, of course not, there’s no one that’s just going to care about me like that and then love me. Jacob does because he’s a little kid, little kids are like that. He‘s just a little kid. What does that change? It means we aren’t romantic, it means I can’t talk to him about certain things, certain thoughts, and certain urges. It mean, I have to keep it PG around him, and that’s not a problem. He’s a good kid and I don’t have to try to even censor my thoughts around him, he emanates innocence and optimism, I love being around him. Hearing him talk is like getting a hug. It always makes me want to cry, but I don’t because I’m with him and he would ask what’s wrong.
I can’t tell him everything, so who do I tell? Why do I have to tell anyone at all? Because I always have to tell someone. The bath is pretty cold, and I’ve taken off all my clothes, so I shudder. My body is pretty skinny, and no wonder, I haven’t had the biggest appetite lately. Why? Because eating makes me sick, I’m so empty it hurts to be full in any way. I have to be as far away from that as possible. Maybe I can make them pity me if I look sickly. But I do look sickly, I am so weak, why don’t they pity me. Why do they keep bullying me, torturing me. Its hell, and I’m enduring it. Why am I enduring it.
Well actually, I don’t have to. There’s my Swiss army knife, I got it from my Dad in … the good old days. We went on family camping trips a lot, a Swiss army knife’s got it all. Corkscrew, bottle opener, scissors, large blade, small blade, wrench, screw driver, saw, eyeglass repair tools, toothpick, its amazing. When I got it I was so happy, I could imagine myself living out in the wilderness all by myself, living off the land. I didn’t need anyone but me and my tools. How could I ever even think that?
I am so anxious around other people, but I need them. It hurts when they target me, but it would feel worse if I was ignored. I need to be there, but now I am in solitude. I can hear my breath, its pretty slow. Too slow? I don’t know, I could take my pulse again but it probably hasn’t changed. My mind isn’t racing, I’m just relaxing here in the tub. I think its 1 AM right now. In the good old days I would go to sleep at 9. Now I don’t sleep, I just lay in bed. But I got over that. Now I lay in here.
The bath is perfect, it leaves nothing behind. I can do what I want in here. I’ve got my Swiss army knife. I’ve never used anything but the blades, actually I have used the corkscrew, just not to draw blood. Just to prick.
Outside I can here the wind, its soft and comes in waves. Exactly like waves. I lie for another ten minutes and listen. The wind comes around almost at exact intervals. How weird, I never noticed that. How does it do that? Its never done that. Or maybe I just never listened.
I don’t want to listen, I realize. The wind is fine, but I don’t want to sense anything anymore. There’s always death, but I, I don’t know. That’s so permanent, I mean, things could change and Id be throwing that chance away. I just want to be done with now, oh god please. Make me fast forward to adult life when I can live the way I want. This isn’t what I want? Is there really nothing I can do about where I am now? Am I helpless to suffer, or can I help myself? I can, but I don’t. I guess I must want this, because I choose this. My arms are so pale.
I’m completely undressed, and the air in the room is cold. The heater comes on at night around 10 and turns off around now. I should have come to the bathroom earlier, but I guess my parents were still up watching TV. They do that sometimes, its annoying. I can’t risk them getting up and coming over to use this room for what its for. I remember that time when I was in here, and my mom got up in the middle of the night. I was in the tub, luckily with the curtains drawn. I held my breath for at least 4 minutes while she did her business. I was so scared. If she opened the curtains and saw me, with my knife, with my arm and leg, hell would happen. Hell would happen. I know it, I just know it.
So they care about me. Do they? Or is that their job, am I’m just their legacy. I’m an only child, so I’m their combined legacy. Its all up to me, right? And look how I’m turning out… They don’t give me love, they are just concerned about me like I was a pet. If they left me at home alone for a day without telling me, they wouldn’t be guilty. If they forgot to feed me a meal they wouldn’t feel guilty. If I complain about anything, they are furious, I become terribly ungrateful and undeserving. But I am, I don’t appreciate them for all they give me. I don’t want their love, but they don’t want to give it to me, and that hurts me. I don’t get to deny anyone anything. I don’t have anything.
Its dark, but I have a soft light on, I always do that. Its time now, I don’t feel like thinking anymore, it just makes me sad. I’ve stopped crying, I was only crying a little. I can’t cry a lot anymore, I guess I just don’t have any tears left or something. I’ll use the small blade tonight, at least, first tonight. I like it the best because it can go deep without going through a lot of skin. Its weird, sometimes I like the skin part, and then other times I like the inside part. It makes me feel weird thinking about that. Not exactly excited, I’m definitely scared, but expectant. I want what I’m going to feel, even if its not a good feeling. What defines a good feeling? I guess I just know, I mean, I do know pain is bad.
I have a lot of scars on my left arm, that’s what I do the most. Then there are a few on my left thigh, I hate looking at myself there though. I do now. I look pretty skinny, I’ve got that thigh gap everyone wants so bad. I am sickly, but that’s ok, right, that’s what I want. Is everything I want ok then? Is that how it works?
Mostly on the inside of my leg there. I can see my bone, not just at the knee. It kind of thrills me, wow I’m almost dead. How close am I? Will I ever know for sure? Sometimes I think of what would happen if someone found all my scars, and how obviously they were made, as I try to hide them. For some reason when I think of that, they smile when they see them, like my having them was what they wanted all along.
I’m doing my arm now. There’s the skin part. I sometimes file along the same place for a bit, just to get the feeling to last long. Ah. Sometimes I push down and there’s almost a crack of release as I go through the skin right down to something that stops it. Ah. Pain. That’s all I’m thinking, just think it, pain. Nothing to distract me from the pain. When other people feel pain they think… pain pain pain. Ow ow ow, that really hurts. That hurts more than usual actually. Wow I must have hit a vein or something now it’s really flowing. I’m in the tub though, its ok. Its getting a little on my belly, that’s ok, I watch it drip down along me to my pelvis, and drip down there between my legs then to the bath’s cold white surface, where is drips under me, and I can feel my butt getting a little wet. The blood isn’t warm, it isn’t cold. It’s me, its my temperature. Its weird, I think it should feel warm. It feels good. It’s wet, and sticky, but smooth and flowing. I lick just a little bit. That saltiness wow, that’s something. It tastes like what metal extract would taste like, copper or something. Salty copper, like a penny on the bottom of the ocean. Ow, its hurting a lot now, I think I went a little too wide maybe, I don’t know. What am I, an expert. No, part of this thrill I’m getting is the risk I’m taking right now. Risking what?
Go a little deeper, yeah. I can feel something inside my arm. I scrape that tip of the blade over it, and cut something. I feel it cut. Ow, ow, ow, ow that fucking burns. Ow. I’m getting another gush, my tummy has a little pool now almost. It this what a dead person looks like? Is this what a dead person should look like?
This is bad, this is really bad. I don’t think I’ve seen this much of my blood before. I look at my arm again. The cut I made looks really long, a lot longer than it did when I cut. What did I do? Did I slip again? But I would feel that, I would know. Then I see it, the knife is in my leg, I dropped it. The short blade must be at least half its length in. Ow, that looks painful. But I didn’t feel it at all. Why didn’t I feel it? Because I wasn’t looking? Is that it? Now I feel it, oh fucking god…
The knife is bending to the side a little because of the weight of the heavy handle, and that’s what makes it burn the most. I pull it out, slowly. Ow, ow, ow that’s a lot of blood. Too much blood this is not good this is not good. I close the knife and put it down. Damn, I forgot to clean it! But I have to do something about my leg now.
The gash is in my upper left thigh, were only one other scar is near. This one is really going to leave a scar. And it hurts like a dog is tearing at it, shoving needles in it. I grab my leg suddenly, I cant help it. I try to suffocate its blood, but I don’t, it just waterfalls more, especially when I squeeze tighter. What do I do? What do I fucking do?
I’m really wet between the legs and under me now, this is such a weird feeling. Its almost, good? I just hold on, there’s nothing else to think about right? I’ll just sit here and be occupied like a good little girl. But it hurts so fucking much, its evil how this burns me. Now I’m wet in the face too, and it’s hard to breath, I hear a weird noise. Me, moaning. That’s not weird, it’s in place, it just seems … like its not coming from me. The pain isn’t coming from my body. My mind isn’t behind my face. I just hear that, feel that, see that, it’s not me, it’s just… something. But I’m here somewhere, don’t think too hard, let it be. Just let things be

Just shhhhhhhhhh

S.H. (self harm)