ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the June 6, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] janetmiles. It also fills the "Webs and Networks (Power / Influence / Control)" square in my 4-19-16 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Calliope thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains some controversial topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. Calliope and Vagary are still kind of a mess, but getting better. This includes questions about gift-giving, detailed discussions of health coverage, transgender health and other issues, acceptance and rejection, awkward comparisons between supervillains and other people, Vagary is actually rather good with people under limited circumstances for which he has received training, and he's getting better in general due to level-grinding social skills, not exactly hacking but looks like it, vague financial discussions, boundary issues, complications of identity, frog handling, fertility challenges, Vagary is making his own friends in Stillwater, and is a huggy monkey when not trying to avoid upsetting Calliope, and other angst. But mostly it's positive. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"The Health of the People"

When Calliope pulled into the parking lot
of Rocky Fellows Park, there was
a popsicle cart on the sidewalk.

"Do you want to get something
sweet?" she asked Vagary.

"Yeah, sure," he said.

They each bought their own;
they always went Dutch.

It was one of the few things
in their relationship that
actually worked.

Both of them chose
popsicles made from bits
of whole fruit, although
Calliope's was a rainbow in
frozen coconut water while
Vagary's was a jumble
in white grape juice.

The cold treats made
a nice contrast to the heat
baking off the pavement.

They walked past
the visitor center, where
they sometimes met up,
but other times they just
drove here together.

"I um, I got you something,"
Vagary said, not looking at her.

"What?" Calliope said.

He pulled a wisp of fabric
from his pocket. "I found this
at a street fair and thought of you."

It was a scarf, the silk so sheer
that it floated on the breeze.
It had been tie-dyed and
salt-splashed in shades of
pink, blue, and lavender.

"It's in my colors," she said,
reaching out to feel it billow over
her fingertips. "Should we really be
buying things for each other?"

"You don't have to," Vagary said hastily.
"It's just a thing I do. See?" He pulled
another scarf from his pocket, this one
deep blue flecked with white. "This is
real indigo on Indian cotton. I got it
for my friend Inode, he likes blue."

Then he stuffed the scarf back into
his pocket, looking self-conscious.

Calliope realized that she was
being ungrateful, and possibly nosy.
"Thank you for the scarf," she said.

It really was a thing of beauty, and
Vagary was right, it suited her.

They strolled along the path,
watching the people around them.
The park was lively without
being too crowded.

Calliope thought about
Vagary's generosity and came
to a decision on something
she'd been mulling over.

"Hey, there's a thing starting up
that might interest you," she said.
"The Stillwater Medical Center is
launching a, what did they call it,
a health nexus. It sounds great."

"Do tell," Vagary said in an odd tone.

"Doctors buy in and all the services
they offer are covered," Calliope went on.
"Clients buy in and everything in the nexus
is available, including the gender stuff."

Vagary's mouth tightened, but
the corners pointed up instead of
down. He looked like he was
trying not to laugh at something.

"That sounds promising," he said.
"I wonder what brought this on."

"A few folks I know got the ball rolling
because their insurance wouldn't cover
hormone therapy, gender coaching, or
sexual realignment surgery," Calliope said.
"From there it just ... seemed to snowball.
A lot of other people got interested."

"I can imagine," said Vagary.
A trickle of mirth bubbled up
through his shields, tickling
the edges of Calliope's mind.

Maybe he thought she was
teasing him, or that she hadn't
been paying attention to what
he said about himself.

"I know you mentioned having
your own source for health care,
but I've seen the kind of money
that you tend to throw around at
the Tranquility Counseling Center,"
said Calliope. "You could join in
to have emergency backup, or if not,
they take donations from folks who
just want to support community health."

She could see his shoulders twitching
a little bit. "Sure," said Vagary.

"What's eating you?" she asked as
she nibbled the bottom of her popsicle.

"I'm familiar with a health nexus,
Cal," he said, finally letting the smirk
loose. "It's actually our model."

"What do you mean, yours?"
Calliope said, frowning.

"The people I work with," he said.
"Listen, supervillains don't like getting
shut out of things. We've seen it too much,
and we are fucking sick of it. So when we
build a system, it tends to be anything goes.
Once you're in, you're in, no screwing around."

"Supervillains built a health plan,"
Calliope said, now utterly bewildered.

"Well yeah," Vagary said. "Who else
was going to take care of us? Nobody,
that's who. We learned to do for ourselves."

"But this isn't a supervillain organization?"
Calliope said, a little desperately. She was
imagining them taking over Stillwater.

"Nah. We know people don't like us,"
Vagary said. He flicked the empty stick
of his popsicle into a wastebasket. "So
we released the idea into the wild. There's
an open-source operating system that goes
with it, and then people can customize it."

"Supervillains made a health plan that
covers gendercare," Calliope said as she
struggled to wrap her mind around it.

"You're not the only soup who
shifts, you know," he said quietly.

Calliope laughed until she
put her face in her hands.

"What's so funny?"
Vagary asked her.

"I just realized that, of all
the annoying shit you do, you've
never misgendered me," she said.

He shrugged. "Some of us
have manners," he said.

"Could I tell people something
about you?" Calliope said.
"Not with your name, just
a supervillain I know."

"They'll know it's me, Cal,
you don't exactly hang out
with a lot of supervillains,"
Vagary pointed out.

"Yes, but the tornado trip
with you and Kong Vault was
highly publicized," she said.

"Good point," Vagary said.
"What did you want to share?"

"I want to tell people that I know
supervillains more polite than
they are," Calliope said.

"Please do," Vagary said
with a mischievous grin.
"We like for people to know
that we have standards, we're
not all just a bunch of nutjobs.
And poking a bigot in the eye?
That never gets old."

"Weird," said Calliope.
"I didn't know that we had
anything in common. It
feels funny, thinking of
supervillains as inclusive."

"Not everyone is, but the ones
I run with, yes," said Vagary.
"It's a lot easier than trying
to get anything out of SPOON."

Calliope winced. "I'm used
to thinking of us as the good guys."

"Good luck holding onto that
when you're dragging me around
like a ball and chain," Vagary said.

Calliope didn't want to believe that,
but she had already seen it for herself
at least once, just trying to arrange
a teleporter for the two of them.

SPOON dispatch in the Heights had
argued with her, during an emergency.

Vagary's organization, whoever
they were, simply sent them a ride.

It made her wonder where else
the supervillains might be secretly
outperforming the superheroes.

"This conversation is making me
very uncomfortable," she muttered.

"Sorry," said Vagary. "Why don't we
find somewhere to sit down? Then
we can take a look the nexus plan."

Calliope looked around. They were
almost to the playground. "How about
the pavilion over there?" she said.

"Works for me," Vagary agreed,
and they angled in that direction.

The playground for children 5-12
was an expanse of sand and gravel
punctuated with artful piles of rock,
some of them strung together with
bridges. A waterfall poured over
a ledge to make a little rivulet that
wound through the playground.

As they watched, a little girl wearing
multicolored protective gear transferred
from her wheelchair to a ledge and began
scrambling along the rocky surface.

Nearby stood some play structures
with slides and poles. The pavilion
sheltered several picnic tables where
parents could sit and supervise play.

Calliope dropped her popsicle stick
into one of the ubiquitous garbage cans
and licked the last of the juice off of
her fingers. When she sat down,
Vagary took a seat beside her.

"All right, here's the information site,"
Calliope said as she took out
her tablet computer.

"Great, how many souls
on board so far?" he asked.

"A few thousand, I think," she said.
"The Stillwater Medical Center has over
1100 employees, plus community clinics
run by the city have about that many more --
not counting private ones -- and then
individual citizens." She checked
the counter. "It's up to 3,421."

"Yes!" Vagary said happily,
pumping his fist in the air.
"The bigger the better."

"That right there is the lion's share
of everything medical in Stillwater,"
Calliope said. "Tranquility's in too."

"What about other organizations?"
Vagary asked, leaning over to look.

"OK Queers -- that's the umbrella group
for the gender support stuff -- and
a handful of small businesses,"
Calliope said, scrolling down.

This may have started with
the transfolk, but everyone had been
amazed by how many allocishet allies
expressed interest in chipping in, even
before it turned into a whole nexus.

"Sounds good so far,"
Vagary said with a grin.

"Oh! The farmer's market is
buying in, and SMC is giving them
part of the parking lot on Mondays
so they can expand," Calliope said.

Vagary whooped. "Jackpot! That means
they can do prescriptions for fresh produce,"
he said. "Hit the Tips button, yeah?"

Calliope did, but very little came up.
"Is this what you wanted?"

"Nah, it must not be loaded yet,"
he said. "The OSOS comes with
ideas and forms for things like doing
prescription boxes. The most popular are
usually the low-sugar and high-fiber ones.
People get free or discounted food, they
shop at the farmer's market more, and it
really helps with chronic diseases."

"How do you even know all this?"
Calliope wondered. "You're not a medic."

"No, I'm a joiner," Vagary said. "I love
the sense of belonging somewhere.
So when I first got connected, I went
a little nuts exploring all the group stuff."

"Okay, I'll bite," Calliope said.
"What else is good for a health nexus?"

"If you can get any of the local utilities,
then you've grabbed the gold ring," he said.

"Why would utilities matt--oh. Because
they could swap resources with the hospital,"
she said. "Let's see, water no, electricity no,
looks like Chickasaw Connections is in though.
They do telephone and internet stuff. I buy
most of my secure hardware from them."

"Give it a year or two, then watch
that company grow like crabgrass,"
Vagary said. "The early adopters really
have an advantage during rollout, and for
a business, that lets them grab market share.
Can I borrow your tablet for a while?"

"Um, sure," Calliope said, handing it over.

She watched him flick effortlessly through
screens that, while user-friendly, were
unfamiliar to her and therefore slow going.
She was amazed by how much Vagary knew.

"Okay, this is the basic Tips page,"
Vagary said, tilting the tablet her way.
"It's set to display the most popular tips
by category, for easy navigation. Tap on
Partnership and it shows all the stuff about
working with member organizations for
programs like prescription food boxes."

"Did you just change the website?!"
Calliope exclaimed, grabbing her tablet.

"No, I didn't edit anything, I just enabled
the basic function," Vagary said. "Look at
your menu bar, Tips should be a pulldown
now with Basic and Custom options. If you
tap Custom, then it should get you back
to that page nobody put much on yet."

"But this wasn't on the website
a minute ago," Calliope protested.

"It still isn't," Vagary said. "I told you, there's
a open-source operating system for these things,
and pretty much everyone uses it because it's
great and they don't have anything better."

"I'm surprised they could afford it,
if it's that good," Calliope said.

"It doesn't cost anything because
information wants to be free and geeks
like to improve open code," Vagary said.
"Anyway, there's a ton of stuff for this already
in the cloud, all you have to do is turn it on."

"But you hacked the system," Calliope said.
"How did you even do that? I was looking
right at you and I didn't see anything!"

"Oh, well, I have some admin access for
the OSOS," he said. "Not major stuff, I can't
delete anything, but I can turn things on and off if
they haven't locked theirs to member admins only.
Sometimes I help newbies learn our system."

"I thought this health nexus was
supposed to be secure," she muttered.

"It is. Nothing is impervious, but this
is a nice tight system. It should keep out
anyone short of a master hacker or maybe
a Super-Gizmologist," said Vagary. "I should
probably give them my short file and start
carrying my public access chip here."

"Are you going to resume speaking English
any time soon?" Calliope grumbled.

"The short file is like what I told people at
the clinic, just the bare minimum," he said.
"The chip carries everything I'm willing
to let a nary doctor know about me.
That way I've got both privacy and
access to health care if I need it."

"Will that really work?" Calliope said.
"I mean, you're pretty cagey about stuff."

Most supervillains were, and she
was learning that sometimes,
they had reasons for that.

"The security's in the chip itself,
nobody here is likely to crack that,"
Vagary said. "If I'm a member of
the health nexus here, they can read it
on their machines, but nobody else can.
In case of emergency, it lets them contact
my backup people, who can authorize
more access, or more likely, pick me up
and rush me to a healer before I croak."

Calliope shivered. She might not like him,
but she didn't want Vagary to die, and this
was a pointed reminder of his risky work.
"Let's try to avoid that," she said.

He laughed. "You sound like
my mentor," he said, then wiggled
his fingers at her. "Can I get that
back for another minute, please?"

Calliope gave Vagary the tablet
and watched him dance through
several more pages on the site.

Suddenly the screen blanked,
then scrawled some unknown code.

"What did you do?" she said.
"Did you just break my computer?"

"No, it's fine, it's just connecting
with my home network," Vagary said.
A moment later, the screen brightened
to show a record page, already filled in.

Calliope boggled a bit when she glimpsed
the four-figure buy-in that he had selected.

"Done. Thanks for the loan," he said.
Vagary closed the page and then
he passed her the tablet.

"You're welcome, I guess,"
Calliope said as she accepted it.
"Can you, um, afford that?"

"Well duh, I would've checked
a smaller box if I couldn't," he said.
"I just got a windfall last week, so
I might as well put it somewhere
it'll do some good. It's not like
I need a bunch of fancy stuff."

Calliope wondered, not for
the first time, how much money
supervillains actually made.
"Okay, it's your budget."

"Like I said, worth it.
Are you planning to join
the nexus too?" Vagary asked.

"I've been meaning to, yes,"
she said. "I haven't done more
than glance at the entry page, though."

"I know you're filed at Tranquility,"
Vagary said. "Did you give
the clinic a name or a number?"

"A name, and I've been to
the hospital too," Calliope said.

"Then this will be easy," Vagary said.
"You just pick your buy-in level, then tap Yes
where it asks if you have gotten service from
a member organization. Select which ones.
Then tell it Fetch and Confirm, and
it'll fill in your records for you."

"That sounds ... suspiciously easy,"
Calliope said, worrying about security again.

"That's for stuff you already gave to a member,"
said Vagary. "New contacts need to fill out
a much longer form. If you want to bring in
any of your anonymous-numbered files, then
you have to do that from a secure computer,
either theirs or mine at home or maybe SPOON,
not portables, those are too hard to protect."

"Okay, then what?" Calliope said.

"Identify yourself, put in the number,
tell it Merge and Confirm, then it'll connect
the files from your name only," Vagary said.
"The number still calls up just that one bit."

"Wow," Calliope said. "Merging records on
SPOON's system is a pain in the ass, you
have to type in all the information by hand."

"Yeah, it's because supervillains
rack up anonymous-numbered files
all the time," Vagary said. "If we made
our clerks hand-load all that crap, they'd
mutiny inside a week. So we put in
secure automation protocols for it."

"Smart move," Calliope said.
"Let's see, membership page ..."

It was pretty clear, now that she
was starting to get the hang of
this system, and Vagary helped
walk her through the process.

She hesitated over the buy-in,
which had overlapping ranges of
income and a note that if your situation
was 'complicated' then you could book
an interview in person to work it out.

"Problem?" Vagary asked.

"I'm not sure how much to spend,"
Calliope admitted. "I want to support
this health nexus, but my real income is
more variable than my dayjob shows."

"That's true for most soups," Vagary said.
"It's why we put a Base Plus Windfalls option,
which is the one I checked on mine. I just
bumped up the initial payment because I
have it this week. My monthly's lower."

"How does that actually work?"
Calliope said. "It sounds weird."

"BPW lets the accountants know
that some folks are good for extras
occasionally. Whenever you get some,
you just peel off part for them and mark
it as a windfall donation," Vagary said.
"After a year or so, they'll have an idea
how their budget is going to look."

Calliope glanced at him, sighed, and added
the part she'd really been dithering over. "I've
got no idea what to do about the Calvin part
of my life. I have records there too."

"We actually have modules to handle
different identities, variable body shapes,
but I doubt naries have downloaded those.
They're complicated and most people don't
need them," he said. "Like the number files,
you'd have to work that from a secure line.
My home nexus has them, though."

"I don't want to tell supervillains
about my secret identity, thanks,"
Calliope said dryly. "Nice try."

"Medical neutrality is a thing,
but whatever," Vagary said.
"I just wanted you to know what
the options are. You can keep
your identities separate."

"Sure," Calliope said. "I hope
this thing works out. I like the idea."

"Oh, it's working," Vagary said.
He tipped his head toward
the crowd. "What do you see?"

"The park, the playground,
a bunch of people?" Calliope said,
wondering what this had to do
with the new health nexus.

Vagary's mouth quirked. "You
really are a big-picture thinker,
aren't you?" he said. "What
are the people doing?"

Calliope looked around, then
she frowned. A lot of them had
their phones or tablets going. They
didn't seem to be looking up wildlife,
doing citizen science, or making
actual phone calls. Weird.

"Hey, why are there so many folks
on their smartphones?" she said.
"Who the heck comes to a park
just to stare down at a screen?"

Vagary reached over and
gently tapped the frame of
her tablet computer. "Likely
for the same reason we are."

Startled, she repeated her scan
of the immediate area, and was able
to recognize at least the shape of
the nexus logo on several screens.

"Wow," said Calliope. "I guess
this is getting more popular fast."

"Worth my effort," he repeated.

"Oh, look, that's Dolorita!"
Calliope exclaimed as she
recognized her friend. Then
she raised a hand to wave.

Dolorita obligingly turned in
their direction, and then shooed
two children toward the playground.

"Hi, Calliope," said Dolorita. "I'm helping
my sister Conchita today. She's got
her youngest two at the tot lot and
her husband took the oldest for tennis,
so I've got the ones in the middle."

"It's sweet of you to pitch in
like that," Calliope said.

"Well, they've got six kids, so
the rest of the family needs to carry
some of the load," Dolorita said.
"What brings you here?"

"Interpersonal exercises,
and I wanted a nice place
to sit down and look over
the new health nexus,"
Calliope replied.

"Oh, are you two joining?"
Dolorita said as she took the seat
next to Calliope. "Alberto and I want to
do that, I just need to fill out forms."

"It's easier than it looks
at first," Calliope assured her.

A little girl scampered up to them,
chattering eagerly in what sounded
like Spanish. She held out a large frog.

As Dolorita leaned away from
the dripping amphibian, Vagary
replied in swift, liquid tones.

Then he turned to Calliope
and said, "Don't you agree?"

"Don't look at me, I took
Chickasaw," said Calliope.

"What? How?" Vagary said.

"There's a place nearby called
Tatanka Ranch, and in summer they host
Chickasaw Nation Language Immersion Camps,"
Calliope said. "I went every year from first grade
through high school, first in the outsider session
and then later on I added the mixed one.
What were you saying in Spanish?"

"I said that's a very nice frog, and
she should put him back in the creek
where she found him," Vagary said.

"Pond," Dolorita said. "He
should go into the pond."
But she made no move
to take child or frog there.

"How do you even know
this much about handling kids?"
Calliope asked Vagary. "You
don't seem like the sort."

"It's job related, and there were
classes for it, so I took them,"
he said, giving her a wary look.

Calliope wondered whether
he was involved in kidnapping or
something else horrible. Then she
remembered a SPOON lecture about
supervillains breaking up trafficking rings,
and how to avoid working at cross-purposes.

Maybe his experiences with children
were not altogether nefarious after all.
Certainly his gifts would suit rescue work.

Vagary turned to Dolorita. "Would you
rather stay here and watch the playground,
or walk her to the pond?" he asked.

"Playground," she said, "and thank you
very much for offering to take over frog duty."

"Ah, I've handled way slimier things
than frogs," Vagary said casually.
Then he took the girl by the hand
and headed for the nearby shore.

"So, what hooked you into
the nexus?" Calliope asked,
turning back to Dolorita.

"It's a great program all over,
but the fertility clinic is buying in,"
Dolorita said. "We'll be able
to keep trying, and they offer
a huge kickback if you donate
any extra gametes or embryos."

"You're considering that?"
Calliope said, startled.

She remembered hearing
something or other about
the fertility clinic, because
some transfolk wanted to bank
their gametes before seeking
sexual realignment surgery, while
others sought donors or surrogates.

There were even rumors of
"full-spectrum" surrogates who used
telempathy to share the whole experience.

"Alberto and I have been discussing
options. Our doctor says some couples
aren't very viable with each other, so
we're looking at donors to see if that
produces more results," said Dolorita.
"Maybe strangers, but we're going
to talk with our siblings too, and see
if we could arrange a family match."

"And if it works?" Calliope said.

"We're not greedy," said Dolorita.
"We want two kids, maybe three.
If God blesses us with extra embryos,
we'd like to share the joy with someone
who can't make their own at all."

They were still talking about
Dolorita's family plans when
Vagary came back to the pavilion.

"Life is a gift. It's kind of you
to share it," Vagary said.

"Thank you," said Dolorita.
"What about the frog?"

"Mr. Green has been
released in the pond with
a standard 24-hour headstart
and a warning not to get into
any more trouble," said Vagary.

Calliope had to laugh at
the supervillain references.

She expected the private talk
to dry up after that, but it didn't.

"I think everyone should be able
to have a family, and if I can help,
then I'll do that," Dolorita said. "We're
still considering adoption as a possibility
if this doesn't work. But we'd like to keep
trying, and that could get ... awkward."

"Not necessarily," Vagary said. "You
could have a blended family, some kids
adopted and some homemade. Plenty
of people do it that way; it can work."

"I hadn't heard that," Dolorita said.

"You can look it up," Vagary said.
"There are resources, but some of them
are ... uh, kind of difficult to find."

Which meant they were probably
somewhere in the shadow nets, but
maybe Vagary could be coaxed
to print out those for Dolorita.

"That's still useful to know,"
Dolorita said. "Thank you."

"It's no trouble," Vagary said.

Then the little girl came back,
tugging on her aunt's sleeve.
"Sorry, I need to go," Dolorita said.

"Shall we take a walk?"
Calliope said to Vagary.

"Sure," he said, but now
he was looking at her funny.

"What's up?" Calliope said.

"You're a really good listener,"
Vagary said, sounding surprised.
"I overheard you with Dolorita."

At the moment, Calliope couldn't
sense anything through their shields,
although the rest of the crowd was
a soft, constant ripple in her mind.

"I try to be," she said. "Some days
I guess I do better than others."

"Maybe it's not the timing, maybe
it's the company," Vagary said. "You
seem to do fine with other people.
You just don't tend to do it with me."

Calliope winced. Or maybe
she was just getting sloppy
with her interpersonal skills,
which was not a good thing
for a superhera to do.

"I'm sorry about that," she said.
"I can add it to the yard-long list of
things that we need to work on."

"Heh, yeah," Vagary said.
"We're doing okay with the park,
though. I think coming here
helps us to relax a little."

"That it does," Calliope said.
Maybe she'd invite him to
Ten Bears Park some time,
since he had behaved himself
here at Rocky Fellows.

"Vagary!" someone caroled.

The next thing Calliope knew,
someone was plastered all over
her nemesis in a full-body hug, and
Vagary was hugging him back.

"Hi, Quincy," said Vagary.
He seemed happy to see the man,
which made Calliope wonder if
the stranger was a supervillain.

"So, you two know each other?"
she asked, narrowing her eyes.

"Quincy, this is Calliope," said Vagary.
"Calliope, this is Quincy, we know
each other from yoga class."

"Oh! You're the lauded Calliope!"
Quincy exclaimed. "I'm pleased
to meet you. Vagary always talks
about you in such glowing terms."

"He does?" she said dubiously.

"All the time -- not why you're at
Tranquility, just what kind of person
you are and some of the stuff that
you've done together," Quincy said.
"Lem and I have both signed up for
the year-long course in Marital Skills.
We're hoping to get married after
we both graduate from college."

"Wow, okay," Calliope said. She
hadn't even known Tranquility offered
such courses, although certainly that
was a good idea. "So, couples yoga?"

"Not yet, we're not ready for that,"
Quincy said, shaking his head.

"Oh," Calliope said. "Then
what are you doing there?"

"It's rude to pry," Vagary said.

"I don't mind," Quincy said. "We're
doing Santosha Yoga together -- which is
where we met Vagary -- and then I've got
Satya Yoga while Lem has Swadhyaya Yoga.
Hey, you could come too, it's terrific."

"Calliope isn't really into yoga,"
Vagary said, turning away from her
to wrap himself more around Quincy.

That made a weird waver
in Calliope's feelings.

"That's okay, no pressure,"
Quincy said agreeably.
"It's not for everyone."

"It's fine for people who like
that sort of thing," Calliope said,
even though it wasn't the yoga
that she actually objected to.

Quincy didn't need to know that.

"Better leave therapy in the room,"
Vagary said. "It's too nice a day
to worry about that stuff anyway."

Quincy groaned and then bonked
his forehead against Vagary's shoulder,
almost dislodging his nerdy glasses.

"I thought coming out in the sun
would help, but it hasn't," he said.
"We want to join this new health nexus,
and the website is driving me nuts."

"Yeah, I can see why," Vagary said.

"It's a little confusing at first, because
it's new, but you'll get the hang of it,"
Calliope said. "Vagary showed me
how to work with it earlier."

"Can you, um, give me a hand with
the entry page?" Quincy asked Vagary.
"I've tried and tried, but it's mostly images,
and you know me, I'm more of a reader."

"Just switch to the text interface,"
Vagary said. "Give me your smartphone."
Quincy did so. Vagary tapped two buttons
on the screen. "There you go. See how far
you can get with the fresh setting."

"How did you do that?" Quincy said,
staring at Vagary. "That's amazing!"

"It's a simple toggle, see?" Vagary said,
pointing to the screen again. "Tap here
to switch between text and image modes.
Don't forget and hand it to Lem on text.
No big deal, I know this system from work."

"Oh my god, I am soooo sorry,"
Quincy babbled, letting go of Vagary.
"I had no idea, I didn't mean to!"

"Sorry for what?" Calliope said,
completely baffled by the exchange.

"Don't bug your geek friends for
computer help," the men chorused.

"I don't mind, though," Vagary said.
"The system is really user-friendly and
intuitive, but it caters to different intuitions.
You have to find the setting that works
for you, or it's like staring at a wall."

"Thanks," Quincy said. "Text is
so much easier for me than pictures,
I was totally lost before. This helps."

"Great, now try again with it in
text mode," Vagary said. "I'll be
right here if you get stuck again."

Calliope opened her mouth
to complain about their park trip
turning into tech support.

Then she remembered that
A) she had brought up the topic of
the health nexus in the first place, and
B) as long as Vagary was helping people
with their computer forms, he wasn't
out breaking the law somewhere.

Besides, the program was supposed
to promote community health, and
a healthy community relied on
neighborly ties between people,
and this was fostering those.

Calliope shut her mouth,
found a nice bench to sit on, and
watched her nemesis actually behaving
like a decent human being for once.

* * *


Inode (Zeck Sedgewick) -- He has fair skin, blue eyes, and short messy brown hair. He works for Kraken and is a friend of Vagary. Inode works in computers, creating programs and showing people how to use the available systems.
Origin: He was born with his powers.
Uniform: Kraken uniform of dexflan and capery. The jumpsuits are sensibly designed with sleek fit, plenty of pockets and fasteners for equipment. They provide Expert (+4) Camouflage to a designated user, but if worn by anyone else, turn garish neon colors. Off-duty, he wears business casual or geeky men's clothes. His favorite color is blue.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Computer Programmer, Expert (+2) Focus, Good (+2) Collector of Action Figures, Good (+2) Explaining Things to People, Good (+2) Fast
Poor (-2) Not Good with Girls
Powers: Good (+2) Super-Intellect
Motivation: To write impressive code.

Dolorita Rojas -- She has tinted skin, brown eyes, and straight dark brown hair past her shoulders. She has seven sisters and one brother, along with many nieces and nephews, whom she adores. Dolorita is the younger sister of Conchita and wife of Alberto, the Ombré Hombre. She works at the MultiArts Center in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She enjoys growing Mexican plants in a greenhouse such as gardenia and bougainvillea. Dolorita is a friend of Calliope.
Dolorita and her husband Alberto have been trying to start a family for several years, so far with no luck, despite all kinds of fertility treatments. It is a source of pervasive grief for them. They've talked about adoption off and on, but haven't decided yet.
Qualities: Good (+2) Art Gallery Worker, Good (+2) Big Happy Family, Good (+2) Greenhouse Gardener, Good (+2) Pretty, Good (+2) Visual-Spatial Intelligence
Poor (-2) Infertility

Quincy Vanderberg -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and brown hair that sticks up. He wears glasses and has a big nose. Although skinny, he has wiry muscles and is stronger than he looks. He is gay, and going steady with Lem Alberts. Quincy is majoring in English with a minor in Nonprofit Management, hoping to work for a literacy program or something like that. Lem is majoring in Recreational Management with a minor in Business Sustainability, aiming for park or community work. They met through the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. They are currently taking a year-long course in Marital Skills at the Tranquility Counseling Center, and they hope to get married after they graduate. Quincy is cuddly with boyfriend and platonic friends alike. A definite word nerd, he does poorly at deciphering images and has trouble with unlabeled icons or photos. Fortunately he has Lem to help compensate for that.
Qualities: Good (+2) Caring, Good (+2) Gay, Good (+2) Huggy Monkey, Good (+2) Stronger Than He Looks, Good (+2) Word Nerd
Poor (-2) Visual-Spatial Intelligence

Lem Alberts -- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and short curly brown hair. He is tall and gangly. He enjoys sports and is in good shape. He is gay, and going steady with Quincy Vanderberg. Lem is majoring in Recreational Management with a minor in Business Sustainability, aiming for park or community work. Quincy is majoring in English with a minor in Nonprofit Management, hoping to work for a literacy program or something like that. They met through the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. They are currently taking a year-long course in Marital Skills at the Tranquility Counseling Center, and they hope to get married after they graduate. A natural leader, Lem inspires people toward better teamwork. However, he struggles with reading, and often turns to Quincy for help with the text portions of his homework. That's a key reason why Lem wants to find a job that involves playing and talking with people, rather than pushing papers around a desk.
Qualities: Good (+2) Athletic, Good (+2) Collector of Sports Memorabilia, Good (+2) Community Spirit, Good (+2) Gay, Good (+2) Leader
Poor (-2) Reading

* * *

"The health of the people is really the foundation upon which all their happiness and all their powers as a state depend."
-- Benjamin Disraeli

This is the parking lot at Rocky Fellows Park.

Here you can see the play structures and pavilion. Notice all the rock ledges and the variety of stair styles. That actually makes this piece of playground equipment accessible to a wider ability range. For relatively mobile wheelchair users, those ledges make fantastic transfer areas. With appropriate safety gear, they can then scramble around. Gravel and extensive paved paths make the area easy to navigate, and some features such as the waterfall are fully accessible from a wheelchair. This part of the playground is paved with a gravel/resin surface that is firm but relatively smooth, with just enough texture to avoid slippage. The paths and creek bed are paved with concrete. The area around the slide and other play structures has gravel. The waterfall and creek are fully accessible.

At the Tranquility Center, the large meeting room upstairs is the multipurpose room, used for the bigger group therapy sessions and classes such as yoga. It has posters on Be Kind To Your Mind with speech bubbles, group rules, the 8 Limbs of Yoga, and a large yogasanas chart.

Terramagne-American parks often have food vendors such as this popsicle cart. In L-America, some places love food carts while others destroy them. Most T-American food vendors offer free samples or a cheap taster portion, and they're often healthy. It's a cheap way to try new foods.

Healthy popsicle recipes include coconut water with fruit and white grape juice with fruit.

See the scarves that Vagary picked out for Calliope and for Inode. Read about salt dyeing.

: a relationship or connection between people or things
: a connected group or series a nexus of theories a nexus of relationships
-- Merriam-Webster

"Improved water, energy and food security on a global level can be achieved through a nexus approach — an approach that integrates management and governance across sectors and scales. A nexus approach can support the transition to a Green Economy, which aims, among other things, at resource use efficiency and greater policy coherence."
-- Wikipedia

In Terramagne, a health nexus is an organization which connects caregivers and clients in a symbiotic relationship. This interdependent thinking is typical of Kraken and their love of synergy in systems theory.

Things that make this idea workable:

* In some regards, a health nexus resembles a friendly society or a cooperative. Money is not taken out of the group's fund for the profit of outsiders. If there is money left at the end of the fiscal year, it is either refunded to members or used for group improvements; a popular split is 50/50. Members also get special offers relating to other members or group projects; for example, sponsoring scholarships, investing in a startup business, or buying bonds to construct a building. In a health nexus, it's common to pay for someone's medical training in exchange for a term of service.

* Money spent on local businesses tends to stay in the local economy, instead of departing like money spent on megacorps, thus enriching the town. Spending locally has up to four times the economic benefit of spending nationally. Up to 80% of money spent on local businesses returns to the community. Because money spent on local health care goes into other Stillwater businesses, it boosts the municipal economy; and because it cycles back through the Stillwater Health Nexus, it helps that organization stay afloat. What flows out is overhead for things that can't be produced locally, such as advanced medical equipment or pharmaceuticals. A health nexus probably won't hit 80% because medical supplies are expensive, but they should get well over 50%.

* Similarly, a nexus creates a cycle between providers and clients, with extensions looping through other parts of the community that serve collateral needs, much like the theory of industrial ecology helps create circles of factories where each one's waste becomes the next one's raw material.

* Community sponsored health care is socialized medicine on a small scale. The town chips in some money, and government grants also available. Local support also reduces the temptation to ignore beneficiary needs in favor of more influential outsiders. The community benefits from funding health care by gaining a healthier, happier population in a nicer place to live. In L-America, community health centers and related programs are struggling; in T-America, they're thriving.

* Non-profit, non-government organizations outperform both for-profit and government organizations on health outcomes. Expanding these providers can therefore improve results.

* By covering all services offered by member practitioners, it is easier for them to make money because types of treatment or whole providers don't get shut out; and it improves health for member clients because their caregivers are definitely available and so is their whole range of services, so that better health lowers costs. Conversely, for-profit insurance creates an inherent conflict of interest between shareholders (who want to make money), patients (who want that same money spent to fix their health problems), and doctors (who want freedom to advise best practices, not cheapest ones). Insurance is notorious for denying coverage and tampering with medical decisions.

* By covering all the preventive and maintenance care offered by member practitioners, the health of member clients improves greatly, thus lowering overall costs. Public health and community wellness programs have enormous benefits. Individualized services may have a higher initial cost, but bigger long-term benefits.

* Caregivers and clients both report extreme stress from health insurance and other red tape. Stress worsens many illnesses, raising costs. Less pressure on all members lowers costs related to all kinds of complaints caused or exacerbated by stress.

* Sliding scales based on income allow more people to access health care without causing problems elsewhere in their life. For the organization, this type of funding makes it easier to cover everyone without losing money. T-American folks are inclined to chip in extra when they can afford it, and their economy is better, so the support is good.

* Not everything runs on money. Barter offers many more options for people with low or no income. There are usually options for poor people to cover their membership with raw materials and/or work-trade hours instead of cash. For better off people, there are opportunities to augment their cash payment with goods or services to help support the organization. In this way, the nexus can save money on supplies and labor. Many positions may be filled by volunteers, which expands offerings and fosters community. T-American hospitals in general have many more volunteer positions than L-American ones do, mostly aimed at patient comfort (such as companionship or running errands) and provider support (such as time management or prestarting staff cars in winter). Most of those are additional roles rather than replacing paid jobs with volunteers; they actually have more paid staff, too, which avoids overwork.

Protective gear designed for sports can also work for disabled people climbing over playground equipment. Because they're more vulnerable to injuries (they may not have sensation everywhere, and scrapes may not heal as well) the extra padding keeps them safer.

As of 2012, the Stillwater population was estimated to be 46,560, making it the tenth largest city in Oklahoma. Stillwater is the principal city of the Stillwater Micropolitan Statistical Area which had a population of 78,399 according to the 2012 census estimate.

Stillwater Medical Center is a non-profit, public trust authority hospital located in Stillwater Oklahoma and has about 117 patient beds. The hospital and clinics have a total staff of over 1100 employees. Stillwater Medical Center consistently earns high ratings on measures on patient satisfaction, patient care quality, and employee satisfaction including being named by Modern Healthcare Magazine as one of the Top 100 Best Places to Work in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Company size influences what kind of health insurance they need to offer and how good a deal they can get. Larger employers with 100 or more employees (about 2% of employers) have the easiest time negotiating good deals on corporate health insurance. At that size, an organization can think about forming their own health plan, much as some hospitals are doing. T-Stillwater already has a great start and will quickly attract a lot more people.

In L-America, transfolk face many barriers to health care, to the point that it is may be less about help and more about managed abuse: how much damage you can take in order to get something you need from people who think you shouldn't exist.  Here is a proposal for best practices more aligned with the expressed desires and needs of transfolk.

Cishet is shorthand for "cissexual and heterosexual," meaning a person who identifies as the sex/gender assigned at birth and feels sexual attraction for individuals of the opposite sex/gender.  Apparently this has become derogatory in some circles, whether to disrepect cissexual people or to exclude asexual and aromantic people, and allocishet (short for "alloromantic cissexual heterosexual) is proposed as a more acceptable version.  This is somewhat redundant, as heterosexual necessarily specifies sexual attraction, but it is preferable to using a term that seriously bothers part of the target audience.  Originally I wrote cishet, which I'd seen in wide use; someone suggested changing to allocishet, and I would expect a gender support group to have cutting-edge vocabulary, so I changed it.  This helps cover the split attraction model, and discourages certain types of hypocrisy.

Prescribing fruits and vegetables is a very effective way to manage many chronic conditions such as diabetes. A box may focus on low-sugar produce or fruits and vegetables high in fiber.

In L-America, Chickasaw Telephone Company has primarily a small business focus with telephone and DSL service. In T-America, Chickasaw Connections offers fiber-optic telephone and internet services, along with hardware labeled in Chickasaw. Besides carrying English-language programs, they also offer both entertainment and education in Chickasaw. Most schools within their service range therefore recognize that as a valid language for fulfilling a foreign language requirement, including the University of Oklahoma in Stillwater.

The Chickasaw Reservation covers several counties in south-central Oklahoma. The driving time from Stillwater, Oklahoma to Norman, Oklahoma is 1 hour, 31 minutes. The driving time from Stillwater, Oklahoma to Tishomingo, Oklahoma is 2 hours, 26 minutes.

In L-America, people often get distracted by their smartphones, even when outside. In T-America, it's less common, but you still see people using nature apps for park trips, wildlife observation, and citizen science.

Gamete or embryo donation assist people in starting a family. Fertility clinics often offer this option to clients who succeed in reproduction and wish to pass along unused materials to other families for adoption.

Banking gametes prior to sexual realignment is best practice for transfolk, but not all are offered the choice. It's just one of multiple options for trans parents. Proper care for transfolk includes fertility treatment.

Tatanka Ranch has 1,000 acres including 8 ponds and a 15-acre lake. Other amenities include an event barn, lodge, pavilion, recreation room, gift shop, playground, and swimming pool. They rent horses, boats, bicycles, and other recreational needs. There are 10 guest cabins and a guest house. (The T-American version has 12 guest cabins.) Among their regular programs are the Chickasaw Nation Language Immersion Camps. In T-America there are three sessions: one for tribal members, one for outsiders, and the last is open to both. That way, the more serious students can pick up a second session.

Here is the entrance. The lodge contains a porch, kitchen area, a bar, and an entertaining area. It can accommodate up to 45 guests in the gathering areas.

In Terramagne, police or superheroes will often reward good behavior from supervillains by giving them a mercy lead of 12 to 24 hours before resuming pursuit. It doesn't excuse their bad behavior, but does encourage them to be helpful by making sure they don't get arrested while doing so or immediately afterwards. This leads directly to things like Boss White dumping a child molester on the steps of the police department. Why think of a frog as a supervillain? Because in educational presentations, the Antagonist wears green, and it's a good excuse to discourage the girl from picking the frog back up.

Santosha is the study of contentment through yoga. Learn how to practice it.

Couples yoga, or partner yoga, features asanas with postures that require two people. It has many benefits, especially for people in therapy for a troubled relationship, because it requires teamwork and makes you more aware of each other. Calliope and Vagary are not ready to work at this level, but the premise is sound, and they can work on easier stuff with an eye toward building up enough experience to make couples yoga safe to consider. Here are some dual poses for beginners.

Satya Yoga focuses on truthfulness. Read a description or watch a video of these practices.

Svadhyaya Yoga is about self-study. Here's a sequence and a related video.

Marital skills are essential for a successful family. They may be taught before or after marriage. L-America considers this controversial, and it's not all that common. Most people are left to flounder through it on their own, with predictably low rates of success. T-America offers this material widely, ranging from weekend workshops through semester classes. A full year is on the long end until you get to serious school programs, but it's still fairly popular with couples who plan to marry. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Historically, finishing schools trained upper-class girls in etiquette. Modern finishing schools in L-America have added business aspects. Some international ones now teach both female and male students. In T-America, finishing schools typically accept all genders, although some are still gendered. Etiquette is still popular as a minor, less often as a major; business poise is common major; but most of the students go there for advanced study in household dynamics. This is college for people who are serious about wanting a family more than a career; they may plan to be stay-at-home parents or to balance work and family. Home economics, household repairs, child development, and marital skills rank among the most popular subjects. People can choose to specialize, but many prefer a general curriculum that covers all the major topics. The approach is very different from a conventional, academic school and caters strongly to students with high interpersonal intelligence who learn by conversing and doing things. This option is a key reason why T-America has a lower divorce rate and higher satisfaction rate in its marriages.

Ideally, software should be user-friendly. Here are some ways to accomplish that.

Intuitive software is less well defined. There are some general principles, though. I noticed that people don't seem to understand intuition well, so let me expand on it a little. When I call a computer program or interface intuitive, I mean that it capitalizes on cultural or universal knowledge so that people can use it without needing to study a manual much. If I want to do something, an intuitive interface will have that thing under the first or second place I look: the programmers have accurately drawn upon common awareness to put it somewhere easy to find. The most-used features will be in the best places, like the upper left corner (for speakers of English, which is read top-down, left-right). Red = bad/stop and green = good/go is intuitive because many dangerous things are red, so a red warning is intuitive while a green warning would not be. But the goal also means catering to intuition in the sense of how people think or feel most efficiently. Visual thinkers find images intuitive, while verbal thinkers favor things like text headers. Most interfaces use both images and text, but often weighted strongly toward one, and you usually can't switch between them. Supervillains have thoughtfully keyed the information to reconfigure itself in several ways to suit different user mindsets, and one of those is a simple toggle between image-heavy and text-heavy modes. It makes me think that they simply looked up sociology and anthropology for all the studies on how humans tend to think alike in certain ways, and maybe L-American geeks haven't done as much of that.

The open-source operating system for the health nexus handles all data and programming functions for health care.  The closest thing I've seen in L-American is Solix

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-21 12:11 pm (UTC)
kengr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kengr
I don't know if this is still common, but at one time banking sperm would "prove" to your shrink (gatekeeper) that you weren't really trans....

I recall many a comment about it in various mailing lists and the like.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-21 01:06 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: (cascadia)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
You know, you just made me realize that I may have landed in the same bucket as a certain real-life supervillain .... because I always thought of myself as a good guy, but the idea of some sombeech telling you you can't have both identity and progeny makes me want to punch said sombeech...

In other words, if the world is gonna label me a villain for doing the right thing, then maybe I should own that. Especially after the last two mornings waking up cheering supervillains for doing the right thing when the cops and SPOON won't.

Freek flag, HOIST!

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-06-21 05:25 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: (cascadia)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Sometimes what you need is a supervillain.

... and *some* people are going to completely lose their shit at that.

I don't think I like those people anymore. If I ever did.

I don't think that a punch in the face for attempted genocide is excessive force, regardless of what the mainstream might say.

*epiphany* You're right, that's what it is, isn't it. *invokes image of Cap punching Hitler*

Further epiphany. Cap at the end of the *movie* Civil War has gone full-out Stage Six. He gives up country, stability, and most of his `ohana because it's right... because being an indentured servant for an America that is shockingly similar to L-America is Not Right.

Flag on, haul aWAY!
I should be happy to have you for a Sailing Master when I get my ship... or to sail on yours, if you get one first.

Okay. A pirate ship goes around stealing things and slitting throats, completely outside the law. A privateer works more or less within the law, but still commits mayhem on other people's ships. Hmmmm. I suppose you could call my ship-to-be a Q-ship... sort of like the Millennium Falcon but better maintained and far less... disreputable. :) Kinda like SNMS Ambuscade from the Honorverse.

I like it.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-21 12:42 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lone_cat
I'd been wondering how Calliope handles identity when she needs to give a name while in civvies.

"I want to tell people that I know
supervillains more polite than
they are,"

It's a pity Calvin can't say this the next time Austin acts like a jerk at the store.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-21 01:24 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
:D :D :D

Everything about this was wonderful.

On intuitive design, the one resource I know is The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman, which was given to me as a text in engineering school. But not nearly enough of my teachers talked about it, I agree!


Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-06-21 06:39 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Yes, that's one of the great examples of intuitive design.

I think it's not so much it being hard to describe as it being hard to do. Certainly there are places it's talked about now in the schools that these geeks are graduating from, but implementing the ideals is another thing entirely.

In my experience, some of it's a matter of assuming that because it makes sense to *you* it will make sense to everyone else, some of it's a matter of laziness, and some of it's a matter of conflicting needs. Which is why I liked your text/image heavy page switch so much. I can't process most image heavy pages well because I interpret images differently than most people (emojis confuse the hell out of me). I wish that was a thing I could use irl.

And The Design of Everyday Things was an early resource on inclusive design as well as intuitive design, so if you get a chance to read it you might find it worthwhile.


(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-21 05:26 pm (UTC)
we_are_spc: (Default)
From: [personal profile] we_are_spc
"It's like running a motor off safety; it goes faster, but is more risky."

*raise hand* I be one o'those that if official methods don't effin' work, I got several fuckin' backups includin' a good bit o'my crew (Startin' wi'Q...) If it don't get done by those who say they job is gettin' it done; out it go to the streets-Q an' I got connects... Thankfully that ain't had to happen much-we got so much damn pull in our Cali that they afraid to mess to much wi'us, 'nless it be shifter shit, in which case we still got a damn long ways to go. >.<

If I were T-made, Ain't sure where I'd fall ethics-wise, probably black wi'fair bits o'gray 'cause there are thin's I just won't do, but ya hurt anyone vulnerable, ain't nothin' I wouldn't do-includin' makin' sure (After a quick sweep around) some of'em don't be botherin' people nomore. An' that don't just mean makin'em disappear; sometimes I dropp'em in front of officials I know'll do somethin' about if it; more often than not now; it easier to let people hang themselves most days-less work for all o'us.

I like the health nexus, we got somethin' similar (Or startin' to) but we call'em crossroads care centers. Same premmice, though. Most of'em be started by thin's like shifters an' shifter-friendly folk who see we ain't gettin' the care we fuckin' need elsewhere, so they start'em up thinkin' they pro'ly gunna fail-an' ... *singsong voice* Surprise! Not so much. Some of'em now fullblown advantage care (What we call our hospitals sometimes) places that now can't be shut down like they afraid some crossroads centers could be.

This were good all around, thank ya.

Edited (What the ff spellin' today. >.>) Date: 2017-06-21 05:43 pm (UTC)

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-06-24 05:04 am (UTC)
we_are_spc: (Default)
From: [personal profile] we_are_spc
I done had to learn to 'take out the trash'. Most often I were makin' it permanent-or makin' sure I pass along to peop who were gunna-especially if it were repeat offences an'shit. I didn't to be growin' up in the best part of Cali (Let's jus say that My!Watts/CPT area's about the same's the one here, and the Nicks (Nickerson Gardens)...well now. So I grew up in a place where most time it were act first ask latah-'xcept for mah crew who would do kinda a mix o'both-but we done learned who to protect an' shit. Mah past ain't exactly...crystal clear, eithah, I done some pretty nasty shit in my time-all o'which I ain't proud of, but it there. Ain't afraid to give people what comin' to'em wher that be give'em rop to hang theyselves, or somethin' more serious. (If I be too graphic, I apologize. :(_)

New family I got teachin' me that violence ain't always the best way-but I still got...I gotta go somewhere sometimes to get it out 'cause it still in me an' I gotta get it out someway whether that sparrin' goin' shootin' at a range-somethin'. (Huntin' in tiger form help too, thank al the gods.)

(...ain't used to sayin all this open like, o.o)

Yeah racism sucks and our president (We got Pence, an' he fuckin' scary shit)...ain't helpin' none. Neither is cowards who say they gunna join, then run at the first tap o'trouble. *sitghs* I hate that shit.

I do enjoy it-a lot. :d <3


It's nice that the focus was on Vagary--

Date: 2017-06-21 10:23 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Especially in positive ways!

The whole poem made me want to see the pair working together again, actually.

Calliope /really/ needs to own up and get more therapy for herself before letting the blame fall unevenly on Vagary, again. But that frustration is small and realistic, rather than a deal-breaker for this particular series.

It means I look forward to watching their process of working things out!
Edited (typo) Date: 2017-06-21 10:24 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-21 11:27 pm (UTC)
thnidu: A maze. www.promrds.com/chapter9/mazegenerator.htm (maze)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
I really like this one!!

• my sister Conshita
• younger sister of Conshita
> That spelling, in English, has... problems. Not just the Scunthorpe problem, where badly-written programs block email and links over internal strings that human readers don't notice. Here it's obvious. Any reason they didn't use the Spanish spelling, "Conchita"? Especially since "sh" isn't used in any major European language BUT English, as far as I can think of offhand.

• The system is really user-friendly and intuitive, but it caters to different intuitions.
> Not that intuitive, if the interface change isn't obvious:
"Just switch to the text interface,"
Vagary said. "Give me your smartphone."
Quincy did so. Vagary tapped two buttons
on the screen. "There you go. See how far
you can get with the fresh setting."

"How did you do that?" Quincy said,
staring at Vagary. "That's amazing!"

"It's a simple toggle, see?" Vagary said,
pointing to the screen again. "Tap here
to switch between text and image modes.
Don't forget and hand it to Lem on text.
No big deal, I know this system from work."
If V. can do it easily only because he knows it from work, it's not intuitive (enough).

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-06-22 04:00 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Yes, thank you. But my understanding of the sentence was betrayed.

• "I don't mind, though," Vagary said. "The system is really user-friendly and
intuitive, but it caters to different intuitions.

I read "different" in the sense of "various", i.e., built to be readable / learnable in a variety of different intuitive systems. But you mean "different from Vagary's intuitions".

I'm damn near asleep, ... and five letters into "asleep", the computer reminded me that I've scheduled it to shut down at 12:10 a.m.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-06-22 02:06 pm (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
A trend that I find encouraging is the way some programs and websites start up with a tour or a tutorial to get new users oriented. It's even better if the user can get back to that whenever they want -- GNU Emacs is one of my favorite examples of this, and it's had that feature for at least the last 30-odd years, along with an online hypertext manual that predates the web by over a decade. You'd think more designers would take the hint. It's also infinitely customizable and extensible; that's harder to get right.

Dreamwidth also gets a lot of things right -- you can always append ?style=mine to any page's URL and get it displayed in a format you're familiar with.

I don't remember which website I saw it on, but it has the word "text" in rather pale outline letters up in the upper right-hand corner. It doesn't clutter the interface much, but any text-oriented user is going to spot it immediately. Not sure what the appropriate icon for getting back to a visual interface would be.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-06-24 12:12 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
I should also have mentioned ?style=light -- it's explicitly designed for use with screen-readers.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-06-22 05:20 pm (UTC)
thnidu: Box, labeled: "Contents: One infinite universe. Open other end (arrow)." Caption: It figures... From lj:lapislaz (it figures)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Hmmmm... That's a very general problem, true.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-06-22 01:05 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
I really like this, both because of the tech content and because it shows Vagary in some healthy interactions both with C and other people.

[personal profile] thnidu has a point - if it takes somebody who knows it from work, something isn't quite obvious enough. I think there's an unavoidable trade-off between how easy something is to walk up to cold and start using, and how easy it is for an expert to actually get work done on it. There's also easy for who to learn? The Mac requires the user to be highly visually-oriented. Windows to a lesser extent, but it's still a problem there, too.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2017-06-22 04:03 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
«Read my reply to that comment, I explored that more.»
Read my reply to that comment, I explored that more. ;-)


ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

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