What's so bad about being a fair-weather fan?

Well, my local NFL team, the Seahawks, lost another game yesterday. That puts them at 2-4, which means they can probably lose, at most, one more game this season if they want to reach the playoffs. There's probably not much chance of losing only one game in the ten games they have left in the regular season, so I figure their season is pretty much over already. A comeback could happen, but it'd be practically a miracle.

And that means I'm not particularly interested in watching them anymore, at least this season. Yes, that makes me that most hated thing in sports, a fair-weather fan.

"Real" fans pay for season tickets even when their teams are doing poorly, or even playing outright garbage. "Real" fans know the names of all the players, not just the team's stars, and they know their stats. "Real" fans buy the merchandise, watch evey game, were fans years before their teams won the championships, and practically dedicate their lives to their team. And anyone who falls short in even one of those things is clearly not a real fan. They're either bandwagoners, following their team only recently, or they're fair-weather fans who only follow while the team is doing well. Bandwagoners are sneered at, but warily; everyone, at some point, had only just started following along, after all, and it might be for a legitimate reason like having only moved to the area. But fair-weather fans are outright hated.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, when people buy a team' merchandise and go to their games, they're making an implicit agreement with the team. "We'll give you our money," they say, "which can be used in any number of other places. In exchange, you entertain me for a few hours, and maybe give me something to talk about with friends at the bar or around the water cooler. Deal?" The team owners gladly take the money, but they dont' always win games.

Well, that's fine. Not every game can be a win, and a good defeat can be as entertaining as a victory.

But when you lose and lose and lose again, it stops being entertaining. At least to me. What is so fun about watching a game where you're expecting to lose? Why should I spend my money and/or time on a team that provides me no pleasure in return? That can be counted on to provide no pleasure? It's like watching your best friend pick a fight - again - and then get their butts kicked. Again. After a point you stop watching the fight. You just watch him head off to the parking lot while you nurse your beer inside the bar. Why bother watching? You know what's going to happen.

I don't deride fair-weather fans, because I am one. And I am one because it's the only kind of fan that actually makes sense to me.

Life update

And now, after making that last post — in which I declare that I won't be posting much about how my life is going — I'm now going to do exactly that. After all, I only said I'd not be bothering with day to day living updates. But it's been 20 months or so; plenty has happened in that time that's worth mentioning.

First of all, I no longer am on RainFurrest staff. That actually happened after the 2012 con, over a year before my last post, but I held off on posting about it because I didn't want to be a drama whore. But enough time has passed that if someone thinks I'm just trying to bash the con, maybe in hopes of getting my position back... well, they'd be idiots. Suffice it to say, for now, that I was demoted away from Programming Track Department Head — essentially, one step below Con Chair — for either bullshit reasons or no reason at all. I may devote an entire post to it at some point, but not right now.

Let's see, what else... oh. Heather dumped me. That was in June 2014. While I'm a little puzzled about it — the issues she gave seemed not worth breaking up over, especially as she never raised them as issues until the separation — I'm honestly more upset at how she not only broke up with me but essentially broke all ties. She hasn't been over for Game Night since, I think, March, and it was pretty rare before that. Her classes for nursing school account for some of it, but not the total lack of visits over the summer. And it's not like she can't bear to associate with past boyfriends, since she lives with one. So it seems to me that it's me. But even the reasons she gave for breaking up don't explain such an extreme reaction. It's somewhat distressing, really. What did I do?

In July I got a new car. My Honda didn't die, but it needed 3 or 4 thousand bucks in repairs an maintenance, and considering it was 20 years old I decided enough was enough. When a car is that old and the repair bills are that high, you might as well buy a new car, since you'd likely be spending even more next year and the year after. So I got a Hyundai Elantra — a new, 2016 model. Yes, a new new car, rather than a new used car. My dad helped. Actually, he pretty much took over the car search and price negotiations, which was a little irritating. I just wanted his help on the pricing, since he's a kick-ass price negotiator; I wanted the actual search to be all me. But I can't argue much with the results. Got a good car with a good package for something like $17,000 after taxes and other fees, which I'm sure is a lot less than I could have gotten on my own. And now I have a car loan to pay off, which is helping my credit rating.

Lastly, at least in regards to major news, my cat, Terra, died. I had to put her down a little over two weeks ago; her health had been poor but stable for several years, but it started going downhill again recently. She'd been vomiting fairly frequently for some time, but over the last few months she developed arthritis. She never jumped up on chairs or the bed any more, and she had trouble even negotiating stairs. She was losing weight, was getting dehydrated, and had other issues. RIP, Terra.

The following week, the house felt pretty empty without a second cat. I kept looking for something to pet, and correcting myself when I go upstairs to put food in the bowl. So last weekend, I got a new cat. A kitten, in fact. She's a medium-haired cat with longish black hairs and an orange undercoat; I named her Ember. If she's been male I could have named him Char. She's an active one, loving to explore and snuggle and jump and be, well, kittenish. I've never taken care of an actual kitten before, so this is a learning experience for us both.

And that catches you up on the major events over the last 20 months of my life. Now on to your regular blog posts... whatever that may entail.
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    nostalgic nostalgic

Well, It HAS been a while, hasn't it?

My last entry was December 23, 2013. That's... let's see... one, two... over 20 months ago. Why so long?

Well, the simple answer is that I saw my journal as something of a chronicle of my life. If I didn't make a post in a week, then I'd have to make a big post to catch people up. But... not to sound self-pitying or depressed or anything, but I am nothing special. Who freaking cares about my life? Judging by the lack of comments to most of my posts, even when I specifically asked for opinions on what I said or did, the answer was, "Nobody, really." And if nobody really cared, why bother posting?

But LJ is good for other things, too. There have been times when I wanted to muse on this or that, when I wanted to get my thoughts down on paper. (Well, in electrons.) Sort of just thinking out loud. Of course, I thought about my LJ, at those times, but dismissed it. Nobody reads it, and probably even less do now that I haven't made a post in a while.

But... heck, who cares? If I want to make a post on current events, or my thoughts on fiction tropes, or, yes, about my life, then I can. Replies would be nice, sure, but I'm going to try not to get discouraged if there aren't any. I'll just post when I feel like it, about whatever it is I feel like posting.

In short, this is now a blog, not a journal.
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    cheerful cheerful

Early XMas

Well, Christmas is this Wednesday, and I usually work Wednesdays. This one will be no exception, so that means I do the whole gifts and gatherings and food thing either early or late. In most cases, I chose to do it late; I'm having dinner and exchanging presents at my parents this Friday, along with Heather. But foxcutter doesn't like coming along to other people's Christmas celebrations, so I opened my present from him last night.

He got me a Kindle!

It's something I've wanted for a while, but for several reasons never bought. And while I have a good library on paper, there are some books that are only available electronically that I've really wanted to read. It's also convenient when I travel. And... well, you know all the advantages of using e-books, I'm sure. While I don't expect this to replace my paper library - certainly not anytime soon! - it will certainly make a nice supplement.

Thanks, Fox!
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    happy happy

Devil's Advocate #2: Infinite worlds? (Part 2) I Don't Think So!

In a previous post, I pointed out that the "infinite worlds" of Many-Worlds Theory is not, in truth, infinite. Staggeringly huge, yes, but not infinite.

But I don't think the Many-Worlds theory is actually correct. I don't think the world — the universe, the multiverse — works like that. Exactly why that is is more a matter of off-the-cuff philosophy than the mathematics of the last post. This is summing up my feelings and beliefs on the subject, and it's not entirely based on logic. It certainly isn't based on proof. It's just a case of "I don't think it's right, and here's why."

Here's the thing: most people think of MWT either as, "Every time you make a decision, the universe splits and in the other universe you also make the other choice," or, "Every time something may go one way, the universe splits and things go the other way as well." And that's true. But it's inaccurate.

MWT doesn't give a damn about macroscopic events. MWT is all about energy states, Heisenberg uncertainty, and other quantum-mechanical fun. Many-Worlds Theory is properly defined as (or close to), "Every time a quantum outcome must be chosen by probability, each comes to pass, each in a different universe."

A lot of those differences are going to be essentially inconsequential. An electron might change energy states, giving out an extra photon. That could cascade into other changes... but they might be equally inconsequential. Who cares if a star gives out one extra photon? Will it really affect anything? No, probably not. So if MWT is true, there'd be a lot of universes that are functionally identical. If I were to travel to another universe (somehow) and the only difference was that one photon, I'd never be able to tell.

I don't believe in God, but this nevertheless strikes me as wasteful. The universe is all about taking the easiest road; water takes the easiest path downhill, energy propagates through the least resistance, and so on. Why would the multiverse spend so much energy doing things with no consequences? Even bringing up the Butterfly Effect doesn't really work, because I'm not at all certain events that small would cascade into something larger. I mean, yes, they can, but would they every single time? Surely not.

Still, if enough of those differences happen at once or that disparity happens in the right place and it cascades, then it would. If enough atoms zig instead of zag, you get a wind in one universe and a hurricane in another, or nothing. And if it happens to take place in some bit of circuitry, it might cause a computer to crash. And there are some who think brains may operate, in part, on a quantum-mechanical level, so possibly the right change in a single particle or atom in someone's brain could, indeed, make you choose ice cream over cheesecake for dessert, or even something more crucial.

It's even possible for these macroscopic consequences to be outrageously weird. After all, the location of a particular particle is never definite. It's a matter of probabilities, and those are determined by quantum mechanics. So there might be a 99.99999999999% chance that the electron is in location A, but that leaves a miniscule chance it's really somewhere else. And that somewhere else is anywhere in the universe. Each location has its own probability of containing that electron. It is possible for an electron that is here to suddenly be there. And in fact that happens all the time, over short distances. Look up quantum tunneling, if you doubt me. Electronics depend on it.

But it can happen over long distances, too, at least in theory. It's quite possible for that electron to suddenly shift across the room. Or the planet. Or the galaxy. There's a probability that it's there; all there needs to be is something to make that infinitesimally tiny chance the real one, and it's there. And there's a chance that all the particles in your body decide to do that. At once. You would essentially teleport across the room, or planet, or galaxy. They say that likelihood is so small that you'd have to wait many, many times longer than the universe has existed for that to ever come to pass, but it is possible.

And that is the other problem I have with MWT. If every single probability gets expressed somewhere in the multiverse, then there is a universe out there where something has teleported. "Okay, big deal," you say. "Kinda cool, actually."

Yup. It is. But the chances of something spontaneously teleporting apply to everything. Which means that there's a universe out there with lots of things teleporting. Repeatedly. Including people. And getting even further off the line of probability, but still withing the realm of possibility, things would appear and disappear all over the place, at random. Brownian Motion, the "random walk" of atoms and molecules, would suddenly line up and all the air would rush out of rooms, and coffee might flash into steam or freeze solid. The teleportation of molecules and atoms would align just right and concrete buildings would turn into tofu. People could change into Pokemon.

And it might happen at just the right instant to create some interesting effects. Imagine that every time someone shouted "fus ro da" Brownian Motion of the air around him would align into a massive gust of wind, blowing things away from him. Every time. It could happen. If every time people waved their hands in a certain way and, coincidentally, all the electrons in his hand changed energy states, he just threw a lightning bolt.

Magic, apparently, can exist. If MWT is real, so is magic. Somewhere.

This is nuts. If this happened here, people would literally go insane. Nothing could be certain anymore. Except... maybe they wouldn't go insane at all! After all, there's a possibility that the electrons and other reactions in your head would react just so, and you'd accept it calmly. There's a chance everyone on the planet would just go about their daily business, just working around whatever the daily weirdness is.

And there's a chance that, however normal things are right now, it all begins in the next instant. There's nothing that says such a universe had to start out so bizarre. At any second you could start teleporting all over the universe, or explode into your component atoms, or turn into a couch. With a really ugly upholstery pattern.

If MWT is true, it's already happened. Somewhere in the multiverse, you have transmogrified into a couch.

Perhaps now you can see why I don't think MWT is real.

Now, keep in mind I'm an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, and an amateur author at it. I like the idea. It allows for some absolutely awesome story possibilities. So I'm not going to fault any author who uses it, and I'm going to use it myself on occasion. But I don't think it's actually true. It's just too messy!
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    thoughtful thoughtful

Concerts and shows! Yes, plural. Of each.

Earlier this week, Heather asked if I was interested in going to a concert held by Switchfoot. Her friend had won some free tickets in a radio giveaway, but couldn't go due to being in Hawaii being the subject of a marriage proposal. After I told her I never heard the band, she sent me a link to some of their music on YouTube. Since it wasn't bad, I said sure. The concert was to be Friday.

Wednesday I'm told good news: she has permission to ditch school that day in favor of the concert. Hooray!

Thursday I got some bad news: the concert was a studio appearance at the station, and it was at 2 PM. Worse, they wanted people there by 1:30. This would require I leave at 12:30 to make sure I get there despite any traffic I hit, and that in turn meant getting up at 11 AM. That, for me, is equivalent to about 3 AM for most people. But I said sure, I still wanted to go. (Heather said to that, "Gee, you must really like me!" to which I replied, "Well, duh.")

So the plan was to meet at the station, go to the concert, then grab lunch and head to her place. We'd hang out in the hot tub, I maybe would take a nap to catch up on sleep, and then I'd head home. Or maybe head home and then nap.

That plan quickly went to hell. Traffic had delayed her bus, so I wound up picking her up and heading into Seattle. And it was cold and rainy all day, so a dip in an outdoor hot tub was looking less pleasant than we envisioned.

But those were about the only change in plans that were for the worse. The 1:30 check-in time was not so they could get us settled, but because they wanted to feed us. Yay, catered lunch! And as we walk in Heather is told that she not only won admittance to this studio concert, but of those winners 3 also won a pair of tickets to Switchfoot's concert later that evening!

So we eat lunch (Qdoba chicken tacos), and watch the show. 15 people won, each was allowed to bring a friend, but there were still only 12-15 people there. There was almost more station staff present than general public! It was a good show, though, with 4 songs being played in an acoustical rendition.

We then got a short tour of the radio station (KNDD 107.7 "The End"), which included a moment when we got on-air by popping unannounced into the radio booth and loudly greeting the DJ in unison with, "Hi, Penny!" Penny said into the microphone, "And about a million people just popped in here. I'm going to turn the radio over to them!" She then pressed some buttons and started some songs or a commercial or something. We chatted for a few minutes, but left before whatever she began needed her live again, so that was it for my radio debut.

After all that, it was only 3:15. The concert opened its doors at 6 and the show started at 7, so we had time to kill. Heck, there was enough time for a movie. So that's what we did. We say Gravity.

DAMN good film. See it before it goes out of theaters! It's great. Just... not if you're agoraphobic.

So then we go to the Moore theater. And find our seats are front row center. Out of 8 seats in that row, Heather and I were seats 4 and 3, respectively. Sweeeeet... well, mostly.

The show was in two parts. First was an 80-minute movie the band made about surfing and music and their world tour. It was interesting, but not especially my thing. Then there was an intermission, and then Switchfoot came out and played their set of 10 songs. They also answered selected questions that were asked (at their request) over Twitter during the intermission. (My favorite was, "On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your favorite color of the alphabet?" His answer: "Hamburger.")

The songs were good, very upbeat. That is apparently one of Switchfoot's "things." They try to foster positivity and hope, not hate and despair and anger and angst like so many other bands.

The one downside of the second concert was that the seats sucked. Oh, the location was great, but they were folding chairs with little padding. By the end of the movie (called "Fading West," by the way) my butt was sore. And when the band came out everyone stood, so then my feet started hurting as well. I ache...

But the concert ended happily enough. We got out, I brought Heather home (with a quick stop at Wendy's, since that lunch was by then 9 hours past). We ate at her place, checking in with the roomies as we did. Then I headed home.

We never did get to the hot tub.

This was a very long day, and unexpectedly full. But nearly all of it was in a good way, so I'm happy. It was a fun day and eve.

Now I just need to unwind...
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    happy (and tired)

Whooda Thunkit?

I'd kind of given up on ever getting married or having kids. The girlfriends I've had in the past have all proved a poor match in one way or another, and I'm not big on the social scene so I wasn't exactly meeting a whole lot of prospects. And, at my age and with my job, I considered it unlikely that one would just fall into my lap and be The One.

But that's practically what happened at RainFurrest. A girl I've known for years, but was always dating Someone Else, became single again. And immediately hunted me down. We've liked each other, of course — we were friends, like I said, for years — but I didn't realize she was actually attracted to me!

This is looking pretty serious, too. It's only been a month (or five years, if you count the time we knew each other without dating), but we've talked a lot of stuff over. And so far, we're in pretty close agreement over nearly everything.

This was a surprise. But, for once, a pleasant one! Yay, me!
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    bouncy bouncy

not happy

Just after Rainfurrest, Fox came down with something. It knocked him out of work for a week. The next weekend, I got it. it didn't hit me as hard... but it still caused me to miss work. Tuesday, because I still wasn't up to snuff, and Wednesday — today — because the crap in my lungs prevented me from sleeping. I wound up going to the doctor's for the first time in perhaps five years. The visit itself wasn't too awful or expensive; the co-pay on my insurance is fairly low. Even the pills she prescribed were cheap, but the new albuterol inhaler is another matter! Add in the 2 days worth of lost pay from missing work, and this was a financial punch in the gut.

At least the pills work. Really well, in fact; I'm feeling much better, the crud is already mostly gone from my lungs, and I have a 5-day supply to make sure it stays gone. But I just hate unplanned-for expenses...
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    annoyed annoyed

Rainfurrest 2013, Days 0 and 1

Day 0 (Wednesday)

Did my normal day type stuff. Went shopping. Met Phil Geusz at about 8 PM for dinner. Since he hadn't eaten all day, due to that whole "plane" thing, we went where we knew there were large portions, Too-Much-Food-R-Us. Also known as Claim Jumper.

Fox had chicken, Phil pasta, and I had steak. Phil paid for it all after we stole his wallet, which was very nice of him.

Afterwards, went to his hotel room. Along the way we noticed registration was open, as it often is on Wednesday night as RF staff checks in the staff and makes sure everything's working right. So we collected our badges and other swag, avoiding the lines sure to form during the con proper. We also met Aloha there, a friend and this year's Con Chair. So the four of us went back to Phil's room and talked for, oh, 90 minutes or so, about no particular subject. Just chatted about whatever.

Left around 11:45, came home and played Halo 4 until about 5, when I went to bed.

Day 1 (Thursday)

Woke up around noon, left the house around 12:45, arrived at the hotel at 1 PM. Dropped off my bag of board games (containing Cutthroat Caverns, Power Grid, King of Tokyo, Nuts!, and Lunch Money) in the game room. Played King of Tokyo (lost), then went to a Writing Track panel about dialogue. Afterwards, wandered the con, visiting the Art Show, the Dealers' Den, and various other places. Bought one piece of art from a dealer. Dropped the print off in my car and returned to the Game Room for a while to just hang out. Mark and Lauren, who are in charge of the room and are regulars at my Sunday Game Night, bought some food: gyros. (I need to pay them back.) Played Small World (lost badly), then went to a panel giving general writing advice for beginner writers. Returned once more to the game room, played another game of King of Tokyo (lost again), and then hung out with Phil for an hour, discussing my story ideas for "What Comes After Wings."

By now it was after 11 PM. I was frankly ready to go home, but I had hopes that the parking gates would be open after midnight. So I played one more game, this time Power Grid. (This time I won.) Left the hotel about 1:20 AM, and stopped by Safeway on the way home. Bought some cheese (we were out) and took the opportunity to get some cash for the con. Got home at 1:45.

Fun day. It was soooooo nice to simply attend. I didn't have to worry about anything at all, other than what I wanted to do next. No concerns over how things are going, if the equipment got where it needed to go, where the panelists were, or anything else. I think I like it. :)
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    mellow mellow

Rainfurrest 2013

Well, RF is on this weekend. I'm looking forward to seeing the con from a new perspective: that of the average attendee. :)
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    excited excited