New coffee holder for my powerchair

I had a pretty nice bottle holder for a bike that fastened onto a little bar on my powerchair, with a velcro strap, but it was not firmly fastened enough and would slew sideways. Then while it was sideways I went through a narrow doorway and scraped it right off, breaking the strap and the doohickey that attaches the strap. I’ve had my eye out for a new one for a couple of weeks.

Today I picked up the perfect thing, a bottle cage holder attaching gizmo, called a Minoura BH100 . It is super perfect – you can change the angle, it clamps on firmly and yet has a quick release. That gives some little bolt holes for fastening on a bottle cage. Perfect as this means I don’t have to try to drill holes in the frame of my chair.

I had two choices of cage, and went for the slightly less sturdy option simply because it seems a little more flexible for my metal travel mug.

Which is also perfect by the way . . . I like these 10 oz Chantal travel mugs. Not plastic, very sturdy, easy to clean, can open it with one hand by pushing the button on top and close it again with the same button so it’s ergonomic and also easy to deal with while driving your chair around.

OK, I realize that means I spent 55 bucks on fancy gear but I love always having hot tea or coffee with me. Nice while taking the bus or doing errands. Saves me buying coffee at times but other times if I’m out and buying a drink I can fill up my travel mug. Very handy!

Other stuff dangling off the chair: I have a “baggolini” that fits perfectly on one of the arms, and can be worn facing inside (I have several inches to spare between me and the arms even on the smallest Model CI – I do wish they had an even smaller narrower size.) This is going to be modified soon to have quick release buckles and better adjustability, because I need it to buckle separately with 2 straps over the arm in different places and it would be nice to be able to easily take it with me. This might benefit from expert help from someone better at sewing than me.

Underneath in the basket thing, which still rattles though I keep trying to add foam and tape to muffle the sound, I have a pouch to carry the charging cord and a spare pen and some duct tape. And also a tiny camera pouch velcroed around a slot in the undercarriage with emergency supplies (money, tampons, handkerchief, inhaler, allergy meds).

The back still puzzles me a bit. The protruding horns to hang backpack on are too shallow to fit the backpack plus shopping bags that they’re realistically going to have. So I’m thinking of trying to make them longer with sugru. The other problem in the back is that the slot for velcro for a cane holder interferes with the backpack strap action. If I have my backpack (or shopping bag or bags) hanging on the back, then put my cane through the strap, then need to get the backpack or bags off again, they get all tangled up. Ideally I’d like the cane to slot securely (while folded) just under the seat so I can reach down to grab it instead of reaching behind.

Bus encounter of the day

I got on the bus just before a very old lady with a walker and a fancy hat, as the driver let the ramp down first and it makes more sense to park my chair before her walker, kind of shrugging and smiling a little and she nodded and smiled back. I am so relieved she isn’t annoyed. She is very beautiful, her skin drawn very fine over her high cheekbones. On the bus she asked me some questions about my chair. How much… What was the cause… She would like one maybe but feels she needs the exercise. She has a nice accent, faintly British sounding but African or Caribbean, I can’t tell. I talked about my free tai chi class at the senior center. Another lady got on with a very large wide walker and could not get past. “Mira….” she said, grabbing the first lady’s walker to fold it. “No, you can’t…” The walker was not foldable because the basket underneath was full of stuff including Michele Obama’s book. No, no, I’ll go back here (I slowly trundle further back on the luckily uncrowded bus) and turn around, then there’s room. The first lady didn’t want to scoot down a seat. So the one with the large walker was now able to go around and sit next to her. “What does that mean, Cowwwwwmoooca?” “….?” Comooooooca over there on that sign? I peer around the front of the bus. “Cumaica. I ummmm I don’t think that’s a spanish word it’s probably from some indian language like the name of a place. Maybe it’s Mayan? Or like, sounds more like an um, Taino or Arawak sort of language? I don’t know” THe spanish speaking lady nods when I sum this up as “una palabra de los indios?”. Well you can find out. Tell me what it means. “Ok… ok yeah I can look it up right now. (thumbing my phone) I love the internet. OK uhhh it’s definitely gonna be a place name. Yes! It’s a place in Nicaragua.” But what does it MEAN. I don’t know…. I’d have to dig a little more. Another lady gets on the bus, sparkly eyed, about my age, in a cute scarf. “Oh! You! You are so pretty. You look so familiar. You look beautiful, just like my mother!” “Well what a nice compliment. I like that. Thank you!” “Yes, you could be from my village. It is not really a village but it was. In Ethiopia. Where are your people from?” “I can’t really, we don’t really know a lot but actually I’m researching my geneology and making my family tree. ” “Well you can get the DNA” says the Ethiopian lady. “Yes I’ve been thinking about doing it. I’m going to do it. Did you know you can go to the place, in the East Bay they have a big place, the Mormons, and look up a lot of that history. I don’t know why the Mormons have it but they do.” I chime in. “It’s because they think everyone in their records goes to their heaven.” “They really think that?” “I guess so.” “Well…. huh. ” We all laugh at this.

The Spanish speaking lady with the big walker has to get off the bus. We prepare to do our do-si-do dance in reverse but the bus driver is angry. She is grabbing the Ethiopian lady’s walker but she’s holding onto it tight. “No! You don’t have to do that. She is going to move back there and then she is going around. ” MA’AM…. MA’AM… YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO ME says the grim bus driver lady. MA’AM YOU HAVE TO LISTEN. We are all arguing with the bus driver and trying to explain we have it under control. The bus driver wrestles the walker away from our dignified friend. “She took it. She didn’t have to do that. Well!” We all look at each other. The lady with the large walker gets off, ducking her head in apology at stirring up a problem. The bus driver gets back onto the bus with the walker. “YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO ME” she scolds. “YOU SEE HOW EASY THAT WAS? YOU SEE HOW EASY THAT COULD HAVE BEEN? YOU ALMOST GOT THAT LADY FALLING OVER. YOU CAN”T BE TRIPPING THAT OTHER LADY.” “That isn’t how it was, you see, we were going to move back and let her get off.” she said firmly. I spoke up as well and said, that’s how she got on, we just moved for her and it was fine! But, we shrugged and let the driver keep talking. She finally went back to take the wheel. Behind the partition out of her sight, I stick out my tongue like a child, playing to my sympathetic audience so we can get a laugh out of our sadness. “What are you going to do. The truth is the truth.” says our queen. “She has a hard job. But she could have had more respect,” I say. We all laugh kind of like we just did at the Mormons’ database of heaven.

“My mother would like you.” our friend resumed. “The place where my village, not really a village, it is a PROVINCE, well, it was good, and the people were so friendly and good. Well, now, you could not even buy a house, a place just the size of this, this front of the bus, just so little, is 300 thousand dollars! You can’t live there.” “Well…. Someone sure got rich off of that,” I say. “They did, and you know who got rich from it…. ” No… who? “The ones who came to power. They got rich.” We all are thinking on that as the lady my age who looks like the 90 year old Ethiopian lady’s mom gets off the bus waving to us. “I am going to the doctor. The new one isn’t as good, because, they aren’t by the ferry building, so I don’t get as nice of a lunch.” We discuss the pleasures of the Ferry building and then I have to go. Sometimes the ephemeral nature of these bus friendships gets to me. I think that I will have a good old age someday. There will be moments of indignity but also we will have solidarity and a good time.

Exploring multisensory descriptions in Inform7

Over the past week I’ve been experimenting with different ways to make an interestingly playable game where the player’s point of view can be multisensory in various ways. So, for example, a character who is hearing and sighted would experience visual, sound, touch, and scent based room descriptions, while a Deaf character would not get the sound descriptions.

One way is to use Touchy Feely extension by Quantum Games. I ended up forking this and adding a few things to fix a couple of errors in the extension, and then adding more options as default descriptions for items. This extension builds in some commands like smell, touch/feel, listen, and taste. You can set the sound of a room, a person, or an object very easily just like you set the (visual) description.

With those rules, and a few others, I started writing rooms like this:

The Bedroom is a room.
The description of the bedroom is
"[if the player is sighted]A small room with white walls and some posters hanging up. The bed has a colorful striped bedspread and paisley sheets. The doorway is in the west wall.[end if]
[if the player is hearing] There is an air filter humming loudly in the corner.[end if]
[if the player is not sighted and the player is not hearing] A small room with a bed in it. The west wall has a wide doorway.[end if]"

The sound of the bedroom is "A loud air filter in the corner fills the room with white noise."
The scent of the bedroom is "The air in here seems very clean and fresh."
The bed is scenery in the bedroom. The description is "A soft, comfy bed. You give it an experimental bounce."
The pillow is scenery in the bedroom. The description is "A nice, soft, squishy pillow."
The bedspread is scenery in the bedroom.
The bedsheet is scenery in the bedroom.
The air filter is scenery in the bedroom.
The doorway is scenery in the bedroom.
The walls are scenery in the bedroom.

Things that are scenery aren’t described until you examine them. I wrote a general search command called (explore, or tap ) which conveniently lists all these “scenery” aspects of a room for non-sighted characters. Sighted characters have to examine them one at a time.

The problem with this method is that it is clunky and I’m repeating various elements of the room description. Ideally, I’d be able to replace a bunch of Inform7 behavior so that:
– Each room (and thing) can have a visual, sound, etc description.
– The game checks if the player has those senses
– The game concatenates the various sensory descriptions appropriately

This turns out to be difficult. I got into reading the Standard Rules (which, from the Inform7 IDE, you can see as an extension) and then realized what I wanted to do was basically happening in the Carry out looking (this is the room description body text rule): section of code. I thought maybe I could hack in a check on the sound of the room and print that.

But! This code refers to the Inform6 core of the game, with

To print the location's description:
(- PrintOrRun(location, description); -).

I tried copying THAT and doing something like PrintOrRun(location, sound), which didn’t work because location and description here are constants from Inform6, I think.
Not sure how to pursue this further. Maybe in future as I get more familiar with the guts of Inform.

So, I tried another way. I suppressed the room description body text rule like so:
The room description body text rule is not listed in any rulebook.
And copied it and pasted it into my example game with a slightly different name.

Carry out looking (this is the room descriptions body text rule):
if the player is sighted:
if the visibility level count is 0:
if set to abbreviated room descriptions, continue the action;
if set to sometimes abbreviated room descriptions and
abbreviated form allowed is true and
darkness witnessed is true,
continue the action;
begin the printing the description of a dark room activity;
if handling the printing the description of a dark room activity:
now the prior named object is nothing;
say "[It] [are] pitch dark, and [we] [can't see] a thing." (A);
end the printing the description of a dark room activity;
otherwise if the visibility ceiling is the location:
if set to abbreviated room descriptions, continue the action;
if set to sometimes abbreviated room descriptions and abbreviated form
allowed is true and the location is visited, continue the action;
print the location's description;
if the player is hearing:
say "[sound of the location][paragraph break]";
otherwise:
say "[feel of the location] [scent of the location] [taste of the location] [paragraph break]";

Because I’m not using the “print” function the sound and other sensory qualities of the room are described under the actual room description. That might be OK but now I need to learn how to elegantly write a room description that is broken out into visual, sound, and other qualities. I also need some kind of bare bones description that doesn’t show to the player unless the player character is deaf-blind. This will take some practice to learn to write well, and some more refining of how I show which bits of the descriptions.

Note that I will probably be adding in low vision and hard of hearing (by taking the visual and sound descriptions and munging them a bit.)

Building accessible infrastructure into writing and coding style

As you may be aware by now, faithful reader, I am obsessed with my game, which is set in the Bay Area on and around the BART train system. It is science fictiony and magicky, with time travel and weird stuff abounding. I set out with the intention that the player should be able to pick a mobility level and sightedness, possibly in elaborate gradations but for now, at a minimum viable level, the player can choose to be walking or a powerchair user, and blind or sighted, in any combination. For the powerchair character, they can’t do stairs and that’s about it. The blind player (simulated at this testing phase by providing the player a pair of wraparound mirrorshades) will have the “look” command replaced by listen *(maybe) or all room, object, action, and NPC descriptions will have non-sight-based descriptions.

Just as a note, I have not written the system yet for cane tapping but that will likely be integrated.

I am finding it interesting to try out the alternate description route. For example here is a super easy case where the description is written to make it very flexible, with only one word difference in the description:
The description of Calle 24 Northwest Corner is "A busy corner at a busy intersection. You can [if player is blind]hear[otherwise]see[end if] a steady stream of cars, buses, and people passing by."

Or, a little bit longer example,

A flower seller is a person. In Calle 24 Southwest Plaza is a flower seller. The description of a flower seller is "[if player is sighted]A short, smiling woman in a baseball hat and a red checked scarf pushes her wheely cart full of roses and carnations. Her jacket has a ladybug pin.[otherwise]You can hear a short woman just next to you, fussing over a metal cart.[end if]".
Every turn when the player can see a flower seller:
say "A flower seller [if player is sighted][one of]beams at you with a huge happy grin[or]watches the people passing by[or]smiles as she stops to talk with a friend[or]offers you a little bunch of carnations tied with string, saying 'Flores para ti?[otherwise]calls out, 'Flores!'[or]'[or]shares a coffee with a friend, chatting[or]fusses over her bunches of flowers, arranging them nicely[end if][as decreasingly likely outcomes]."

It becomes clear to me that I have to train myself to structure the experience of the reality of the game in particular ways. I might establish a convention (enforced with tests) where each thing defined in the game is required to start with a description for the blind point of view character, then have a description for the sighted. Each clue for the puzzle needs to be playable both ways, as well, and both should have a richness and depth of experience that makes the game fun & action compelling, hinting at possible avenues to explore. So, it will affect how I design the puzzles and clues as well as just some sort of “layer of extra text” to think through. One result is that talking with other characters will likely be more important than it might have been otherwise.

This shows very clearly how important it is to design an environment (whether it is a game, a novel, a class, a web site, software, a real life building, or a city street ) with the point of view of different people in mind. Having written only 6 sample rooms and couple of NPCs and objects and their behavior, I’m very glad that I’m doing this now, and not trying (as so many designers, programmers, and architects do) to staple on a half assed ramp or some probably flat braille a month before finishing a 2 year long project.

Triage day in a couple of ways

Work had a lot of bug triage today among other things but then after work I went off to the 3rd of 6 classes in the Neighborhood Emergency Response Team training. It was triage day at NERT class too. We got a video on pandemic flu, the gist of which was, wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough (hilarious electronic music, closeups of a person coughing, freeze, zoom in, turn it to photo negative or some wacky filter effect, cut to other person giving serious side eye to the coughing person as if plague was leaping right the hell out of their mouth!) Then START – Simple Triage And Rapid Treatment. We went over some examples and then some people went out of the room to prep to be the rescue team and 20 others went up on stage (or whatever you call it at the front of a church) and arranged themselves artistically as disaster victims. The rescue team then came in to check them and tag them with triage tape (remembering to tear off a bit and pocket it for each person to record how many were triaged to where.) I will probably do some online practices for START triage (there seem to be lots of them!)

I enjoy the class as a sort of meta thing to think about, how they came up with the most basic possibly useful things to get across. Like 24 hours of basic training but for this very specific temporary purpose. What do you choose to teach? Is there any hope of cramming something useful into random people’s heads? Will it stick? In a disaster I think the more official first responders would want to mobilize whoever seemed useful and on the ball and was on the spot. But, between the first days of whatever it is, and the time when Red Cross/National Guard or whoever get there, maybe this program becomes useful, and/or, maybe it attracts and sucks in the sort of people who want to help and meddle but might without some direction be more likely to rush in and get killed. So it serves that purpose too (to kind of soak up those people.) It’s also interesting to think about which principles from this training are applicable in general, in less extreme circumstances, as … assessing a situation and basic leadership skills I suppose.

Humorous incident, which I will mildly obscure in the world’s longest paragraph, no one patted me THIS TIME (the training is full of nice church ladies who like to pat a wheelchair user and fuss about them pointlessly) but during the 10 minute break I laid down in the little nook of a pew where I was sitting with Danny and Ada and my feet on Ada’s lap, reading stuff on my phone and playing pokemon (feeling tired from my long day and because I have a sinus headache) I knew this would be likely to happen but it doesn’t make it any more fun when it does, one of the Nice Ladys came wittering up to “check if I was okay and needed any help” OK so, number one, I’m sentient and know if I need something or not and would do something about it if I did; number two I’m obviously there with my family and what kind of assholes would they be to just like, ignore me if I were … fainting or dying or something? In actuality she was partly bothered that I was doing something a bit unusual that I should not be doing (lying down in the pew) and partly just unable to deal with her own basic discomfort for my being there at all, which is super obvious and annoying to me but not always visible to others. And she wanted also to perform her role of authority figure in some way, at me, as a result. Like the other lady who kept patting me the first two days (who hate-whispered “you’re WELcome!” at me when I didn’t act right when she told me my bag was on the ground or something – which I actually did say thank you but i didn’t like, SMILE I guess, because I was recoiling from her touch) she didn’t like that I didn’t respond correctly (with the right sort of performative gratitude and kowtowing and probably also not the right sort of self deprecating middle class white lady femininity) Because I kinda looked her up and down a little bit too long before saying, “Well you’re certainly super ready for an emergency!” with chirpy sarcasm. “I just had to make sure that you’re alright blah blah” (Yes I understand I’m being scolded.) “I’m just lucky you didn’t whip out a tourniquet!” and I start cracking up. “Witter witter witter twitter whisp oh well *breathes heavily* it’s just so GREAT that you’re HERE and THANK you for BEING here and we UNLOCKED the DOOR for you over by the RAMP this time I mean we are really GLAD to have you HERE, THANKS” (Remembering Suzette Haden Elgin’s explanations of that speech emphasis pattern as hostility.) Yes… yes i’m sure it took like twelve committee meetings to achieve that dangerous miracle of unlocking the side door which the 15 year old independently went in to unlock for me the first two nights of class; it took about 3 seconds to do… I waited a few beats too long again to let her just work it all out of her system and finally said “Yup well thank you for organizing things.” I mean…. go thank all the other people in here! Fuck… this is why I never like to be part of anything organized unless it is a bunch of fucked up anarchists.

But I am great in a disaster, so go figure. Hope the patting committee spins its wheels for like the next year trying to build Awareness of Helping The Disabled. (Too tired to come up with hilarious acronym for it.)

The firefighters and EMTs on the other hand are just great. A+ for them. They don’t act weird. They have probably met a wheelchair user before and had a normal human conversation.

The circle of life on the bus

So I was waiting for the 51A bus in the rain in the dark with some other folks and was super happy when the bus pulled up and it was near empty and the driver let down the ramp without any weirdness or fuss. There was another guy in the front of the bus sitting on the other side. The bus driver got out some big old straps. I thanked her and said I would rather not, and didn’t need them. She said she would have to call her supervisor because it was policy that she had to restrain my wheelchair, or I would have to get off the bus. She was nice about it and I just kind of nodded like, OK…. and said I had been riding buses in wheelchairs for many years and go ahead and call.

The guy across started yelling at me during this exchange, from almost the first moment, that I was a bitch, an asshole, a cocksucker, a goddamned bitch and he hopes I die young.

At that point I stared back at him and said it was too late for that since I’m already 50. (OK, well, 49 and a half.) The driver told him to shut up a few times and told him he should not call me out of my name. By that time we had driven off because her supervisor told her to tell me that, should I be injured because of not being restrained on the bus, they could not assume any liability. Thanks. OK. I agree! We drove down Broadway towards downtown.

Then the guy said someone should kill me. Staring right into my eyes he said “I’ll kill you myself you bitch!” Driver finally told him to shut up or she would make him get off but that just made him madder. At some point he started just mouthing or whispering his threats while flipping me off.

I felt very glad I was not strapped to the bus while I was a couple of feet away from this horrible man.

Was I married? He bet I was not. I’m too nasty! Too much of a bitch! He’s been married 4 times! He was in Vietnam! Also, he’ll kill me! I need to die! BITCH!!! You’re a BITCH!

It was amazing how much venom he got into the word “Bitch”!!!!

Let’s take a moment to quote the beautiful words of the immortal JOREEN,

Bitches must form together in a movement to deal with their problems in a political manner. They must organize for their own liberation as all women must organize for theirs. We must be strong, we must be militant, we must be dangerous. We must realize that Bitch is Beautiful and that we have nothing to lose. Nothing whatsoever.

Thank you Joreen!!! You give me strength!

At one point I said, You know what, we all have the right to ride this public bus, me, everyone, and you too even though you’re a sad and crazy old guy yelling at me, you get to ride the bus. That’s it. I was shaking with rage and fear but that’s what I said!

So that went on for a little while and I mostly didn’t say anything more, and I kept my camera on and pointed at him in case things heated up and my other hand on my folded up cane that I was half sitting on, which is quite sharp on the folded ends, carbon fiber edges, and which honestly I was ready to drive into a motherfucker’s throat if he came at me, and then he got off the bus while humbly thanking the bus driver and apologizing to her and everyone else on the bus FOR WHAT A BITCH I WAS SORRY TO EVERYONE EXCEPT HER THAT BITCH and now he was gonna go to Grocery Outlet. Bitch.

Wild!

Then, like, all the women on the bus came up to me and patted me and were sweet and concerned to check in that I was ok and say they were so sorry I had to go through that. And stuff. They were very nice but I was so mad I found it hard to talk any more. I actually thought then, Oh, they were more scared than I was. Until he got off. Huh.

My BART ride and extra bus ride home were peaceful. I then twittered cathartically about my experience all the way home, at some point realizing I should put on headphones and listen to the loudest possible riot grrrl and punk music. Thank you 7 Year Bitch, L7, Tribe 8, Crashprez, The Soviettes, MDC, Black Flag, and J Church. Very healing to the soul.

So, I am still super mad, and I so wished I could yell at that guy (more than the little bit of pissy backtalk that slipped out from me in the moment ) And also I had the thought that actually he did cross a line legally and it was all recorded on the bus camera which is easily obtainable through FOIA request. Like, he did threaten me and stuff but… Actually I just wanted to go home and recognized that my truly obscene amounts of privilege did not need to be whipped out just here. I disagreed with how the bus driver handled it but also figured that she probably saw this guy every day and she had a notion of whether he was really going to be violent or not. And I still had a part of me that didn’t want to agitate to kick an old guy out in the drizzling rain any more than I didn’t want to get off the bus myself and wait another 25 minutes for the next one. Anyway so I did not escalate and didn’t ask the bus driver to kick him off. She really was super calm and chill about the whole thing and I admire de-escalating in general. But, she could have – should have maybe – protected me a little more, I think. I’m going to be thinking about how I could have tried to set a boundary myself with the guy that I would have felt better with than what I went with which was “me shutting up while he yelled insults at me”.

I’m not so fragile! I’m mnot going to like, be fucked up that some asshole yelled at me! Assholes have been yelling at me on buses since I was 10 years old! They called me a faggot and a bitch and spit in my face and I cherish the memory of some guy who told me on Facebook 35 years later that he cherishes the memory of tiny 11 year old me double flipping off everyone on the bus clutching my bookbag to my chest and screaming shrilly, “FUCK YOUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!” I cherish my fierceness! I am a little badass inside! I don’t like being yelled at! It freaks me the fuck out! I would never tolerate it in my everyday life, not for a moment from anyone at all! Obviously, I’m fucking bothered or I wouldn’t be writing this hours later. But you know what….. WHATEVER. You know what is the best fierceness – it is maintaining your vulnerability. I don’t have to not be bothered, it is right to be upset, inside, it lets me defend my vulnerable self, which I assert to the world.

Anyway, I got off the bus pretty near my house and went across the street to see if this guy who lives on the corner was there because, he got all his stuff stolen again, and I got him some warm things but the shoes the VA gave him were two sizes too small, he took them because, half way on they kept his feet warmer and drier. He has a wheelchair but cannot push himself in it very well as his hands are also messed up but he gets along pretty ok. Whatever I asked him his shoe size the other day and realized it is the same size as my brother in law, and i was at him and my sister’s house all today, so I had these shoes to give him. He was happy about the shoes but he was also drinking and a bit messed up. I realized suddenly that between the bus stop and his niche on the corner I had seen a blanket and some bags and a backpack. Bob do you have your backpack. Was that your backpack over there on the other block? Oh no does it have an american flag on it? I went to see. Yes…. so… I brought him all his stuff. I think it just fell off the back of his chair as he was going along and he was too messed up to notice. No one had even gone through it. He kissed my hand drunkenly and invited me to sit with him. I went home but felt like so much more human because I took all the meanness and transmuted it into kindness and being decent to other people which is literally JUST WHAT HAS TO BE DONE. What is to be done? Do the work in front of you and be decent about it people. Like I said on the twitters Kindness is punk as fuck, and this bitch will bring you a boot party where it’s a present of boots that fit your feet and keep them warm and dry. Motherfucker, you will take these social services and this transformative justice and this example of nontoxic masculinity, OR ELSE. P.S. Fuck you, asshole!

How weird is it that I went from hating on one old guy to helping out another one. It is really true, that helping someone out is something to be grateful for, because they trusted you enough to let you do it.

I’d like to thank this cat, this nice loud riot grrrl music, this feminist manifesto from the year I was born, this soothing mint tea, and this excellent marijuana for the massive improvement of my evening.

Also my nice spouse who spent all weekend and all day since 5am trying to like save Europe from Article 13 and Article 11 and thus save the entire fucking Internet. And then who brought me the soothing mint tea.

The rest of the day was super nice, I spent it working while my sister worked on her stuff, and we showed each other physical therapy exercises and had tacos. When I stopped working I got to show my nephew how to write a little Inform7 and then I left him playing Zork.

Good night all.

Progress on BART interactive fiction

I threw out the first prototype trying to write a train simulation from scratch and started over using Emily Short’s Inform7 extension Transit System. Now, I have two working train lines, the Red Line going from Daly City to Richmond, and the Yellow Line going from Daly City to Antioch. I could not quite figure out how to make the trains go north and then turn around and come south again and still be able to tell the direction of the travel from the platform. I’m leaning towards having separate north and south lines for each train, arriving at their correct platforms within the station.

Then, because I went all through the 24th St Mission station (the agent kindly let me in free to take notes!) I thought more about the level of detail for the game. I could stick with a very simple model or could make it very walkable in a way that means by playing the game you’d learn the geography. Leaning towards starting simple but having a placeholder for each station, then expanding the station descriptions and maps gradually as I go.

I also implemented (early this morning!) player choice for mobility and sightedness. I may write something for cane use but I sort of don’t want to write service dog, maybe because I know almost nothing about them but also because I am not super fond of dogs. It could be an expansion later. But, I’m figuring out how to make the choices impact each room, thing, and the player experience. I may write a “tap” command that would work like an extra sense in the Touchy Feely sensory extension. I could replace “look” with “tap” for example but I’m leaning towards, “look” will say something either practical or snarky (randomly). The practical would encourage the blind or low vision character to listen, tap (with cane), feel, smell. I have to figure out what “examine” would be understood as (feel for objects, tap for a room, maybe, and “listen attentively” if it’s an NPC). I ended up last night late reading blind wheelchair user forums for thoughts on handling blind/low vision plus manual or powerchair use together in descriptions of rooms or actions.

Coming this weekend an initial github repo with (playable) early versions of the game for testing. There will not be much game there yet but the mechanisms will work and you can board trains and walk (or roll) around.

Notes on 24th street station, I spent my lunch hour there yesterday taking notes and drawing maps. I sat one bench over from the Raccoon McDonalds guy while I ate my burrito and scribbled in my notebook in the Northeast plaza. A lady was selling tamales there – we smiled at each other a lot as i ate my delicious burrito – I saw someone with a chihuahua in a sweater, Lots of music in the background including, in El Farolito, some mariachi guys who wandered in with guitars, accordion, and a big speaker on a hand truck, the murals, rather a lot of pigeons, the tall washingtonia palms, the chinese donut place, silver stone coffee tea cafe, the Southwest corner plaza and its lively market scene, construction going on in the concourse level, saxophone player in the stairwell, the lovely arched ceilings that make me think of how some airport architecture is, like a hangar or wings, the abstract concrete bas reliefs in both majestic stairwells and the strange ridging of the walls (for decoration? for acoustics?) Anti pigeon nails everywhere in high up places. Of course the elevators…. And the platform with its brown and orange tile, its mysterious locked rooms, its beige “contact agent” phones which I longed to pick up but did not quite dare.

The game will have magic, and time travel, by the way! Working title, “Transitory”.

Well that escalated quickly

Going home tonight down Guerrero from the NERT training, I paused on the sidewalk as a couple of cars were coming out of the driveway by Mitchell’s Ice Cream. One pulled out onto Guerrero and the other started to inch out. I was waiting for them both to leave before crossing the driveway in the dark. The second car’s driver noticed me and motioned for me to cross in front of him. But, he was pulled up so far that to get by I would have had to go on the uncomfortably angled part of the driveway as it went down into the street.

So I waved him on, smiling and nodding as if to say thanks for the thought but no… and waited. There was no traffic at all at 9:30pm. So he could just go and be done with it.

He shook his head and started to back up his car a little bit, maybe a foot or so, but it still wasn’t really enough and I decided what I usually do, which is: do I want to wait 10 seconds for this car to move along, or do I want to put myself in front of a 2 ton death machine in the dark when someone could come along and rear end it, etc? I mean, why bother? Am I in a hurry? No and I’m even comfortably sitting down in my nice powerchair.

So I shook my head and waved at the guy again and said “It’s ok I’ll just go after you” and he shook HIS head and started to roll down the window and told me to go on and I said “No I really don’t have any interest in being in front of your vehicle I’ll just go after you go.” He looked angry and started to roll forward while still telling me I should go! As he pulled out into the street he yelled “BITCH!”

Yeah that guy’s heart was definitely in the right place! He was so kind! So charitable! So thoughtful! Too bad his head was up his own ass!

I need this new project like I need another blog entry

That is not at all, and VERY MUCH THANKS!!!!!11!!

New project idea, combine BART riding project with my Inform7 obsession and make a ridiculous BART simulator text adventure. I have got a single train line working by lifting it from the examples in documentation. It’s so satisfying!

Not sure how accurate I’m going to get though I could imagine putting a whole day’s schedule into this. The Red Line comes first since I tend to be aiming for it to visit my sister. I’m so amused — already you can get into the Richmond northbound train, then wait, then it pulls out of the 24th St. Mission station. Wait or look again and it pulls into Civic Center! Bwahahahaha! I’m dying here.

I’m going to make each station and make the player play a wheelchair user and ride in the elevators full of pee, because I’m evil.