Tag Archives: ramble


Okay so I got linked to the idea of NaBloWriMo by Ann, and yeah it appeals as an idea – in the month of November can I manage to make 30 posts no matter how small?  Hopefully the answer is yes, although I intend to bend the rules a little by starting late and at some point doing a couple of double posts to catch up, also I may post elsewhere and count that so … if there are holes in the posting process suck it up, I’ll report my victory or valiant attempt at the end of it all :)

So what to write about is the next question.  Well tomorrow I think I’ll try and have a dig for some blog posts, but if anyone reads this (and I’ll probably link it on BookFace tomorrow) then I’ll happily accept questions from the audience to write about.

My own writing is a bit all over the place these days, I used to write fiction as a teenager but mostly drifted away from it over time, these days I write a bunch of backplot for various roleplaying games I’m involved in, pretty much daily email communication with partners, and also a lot of my writing goes into forum and community style interactions, so I do still write, but its sort of diffuse now – spread out and all over the place, and much of it hidden from view.  There’s the thing that I spend some time wondering about is how far apart do I want to divide the main areas of my writing and how much do I want to overlap them – the more spread out they are then the harder it is to establish each one, and the more it feels diffuse and ineffective, not enough body and substance, but then again the more spread out the safer it feels, the safer divides between subjects and friendship groups and populations.  Something to think about.

I find it harder to focus than I used too these days on serious long form writing I think, or maybe I’m just more likely to get distracted in the middle (side note: I’m seriously considering experimenting with white noise or maybe even noise cancelling headphones in the office, but we shall see, if they work there then maybe at home too?) then I find it harder to switch back.  Also I really dislike posting drafts, or half thought out ideas, I wonder if having a “draft” tag to put on things would help, or just practising posting whatever at the end of a day even if its half baked.  I do better on forums, although I frequently post, then spend the next 5 minutes editing the thing to get it just so.

Anyway, I guess I’ll just witter for 30 days if I don’t find any more exciting prompts :)

Kitchen Table Poly – And remembering my types are not universal

Okay so recently I read an excellent strip of the ever fun Kimchi Cuddles webcomic entitled #452 Kitchen Table Poly which gives rise to terms like kitchen table poly (“where everyone in the polycule knows each other and are all people who’d feel comfortable just sitting around the kitchen table in their PJs having coffee”) and parallel poly (“having partners alongside each other but not necessarily ever interacting with each other’s partners”).

It’s something I try and recognise in myself as both just a way I function and also something to be wary of.  Due to the way my poly is structured I get interacted with before some of my partners take on new partners, or escalate thing with people (sort of polyfi, I like it that way) and get basically a kind of veto.  Mostly I think I sort of lean towards kitchen table poly, its easier for my brain to say yes when it recognises the other person as either someone I find attractive to my own tastes, or  a “Yeah I could totally have a cup of tea and a chat with that person if I woke up and they were in my house”.  However that gives rise to issues when a partner who I kinda have a veto for comes to talk to me about someone who doesn’t trip this bit of my brain – I’ve found I need to be really careful and try and quiz my brain, because just because I don’t fancy a person, or I don’t want to sit around and idly socialise with that person doesn’t necessarily mean that I should say no to my partner doing partnery things with them, if they’re safe, don’t trip my gut feeling of badness and drama and most importantly my partner is interested those are more important considerations.  I’ve been tripped up by this before and I’m trying to improve my self questioning to catch myself doing it.

NFQ – The ECR (Emergency Control Room) Computer Prop

Those of you who were in the ECR at all during the NFQ/Incident ### game may have noticed a black laptop on the west facing wall (that nearest to the directors office) which had some nice green text on a black backdrop that updated itself pretty infuriating slowly :)  That was one of mine, and something I really had some fun putting together, although it was all a bit bodgey internally.  So this is going to be a walk through a download of that anyone thinking of putting together something similar can see some of the weird tricks I used, I’ll also be talking about lessons learnt from the event and things I’d change next time.

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Visability and Graduations

As several of you know I get to go sit on the stage and wear a silly hat for other peoples graduations, and these are graduations I really quite like for various reasons.  I was never much of a fan of my own graduations, because during the first one I was just all bleh for public appearances in general for reasons that made no sense to me at that time, during the second I knew I was trans and was just filled with dislike for inhabiting my body or my social role at that point, however when you’re on the stage its quite fun as you’re not the centre of attention so much its not about focusing on you, also I’m way more comfortable in myself than I used to be I think, at least in some ways.

Interestingly I quite like going to graduations because it helps remind me why I’m where I am, and why I do what I do.  A lot of the time working for the Uni its easy to lose sight of the awesome good work we do, we educate students in all kinds of things, we do kick ass research, we improve the state of human knowledge at least in some ways – however in the day to day grind of projects and support its easy to get lost from this and instead just throw up your hands at all the politics that floods the place.  So graduations are nice for in some ways fulfilling the promise of the establishment, a time we can come together across departments and do our act as formal academics (processing in is nice, because everyone does their best formal and proper thing, we present a professional front, also you never know who you’ll be lined up next to so a nice point for a chat with new people in the queue) and present a united front to celebrate the achievements of the students.

Also it’s a more personal thing, in that not only does it give an institutional/group celebration but I tend to mostly come and sit on the stage for students I know through various societies, so its also a personal thing of celebrating the achievements of friends and giving them a grand sending off as yup – you are now officially recognised as more awesome in some specific manner, its nice to sit on the stage and try not to grin too much to be improper while applauding them :)

The final point, which is kind of what spurred me on to post this (being as I’ve just come back from watching the Manchester Pride Parade at the weekend) is the visibility aspect of it.  Whenever I go to graduations I make sure to flag with at least a small rainbow pin, if not a trans one as well, and also while I tend to blend into crowds in direct or focused interactions I get read as trans pretty easily – and this is one of those cases where I don’t mind.  By being there, being in a group of academics and walking formally with them as a colleague and academic doctor and making myself obviously visible I aim to get some subtle exposure – to help say to people that hey it’s okay to be trans or queer, I’m here, looking respectable and not hiding.  And hopefully I’m helping out closeted students, and I’m helping normalise various minorities as a thing that exists for visiting friends and family who are in the hall, and those who watch the remote streams or for times I’m caught in pictures (amusingly I was grabbed for pics out of the line with some students this year, I’m not sure what I was doing beyond featuring as an academic to pose with, I have no idea how they were even reading me, and I don’t really mind).

While it’s true this could be said to be in some ways being over obvious with my sinister dark agenda (okay I’m maybe being snarky), or “rubbing their faces in it” I like to think I’m striking a balance between being too obvious (on a day that’s about the students), and being too hidden.  All I’m doing is wearing a small rainbow badge in my outfit and just existing and being there which is the part I think is important, physically being there and in front of people and being comfortable – and I can do this because the University is an accepting place, I know that 99% of the staff and students wouldn’t give me shit, so based on the work of others (standing on the shoulders of giants) I can help continue that work by being there, by normalising things, by being visible and wearing small subtle symbols to help make it okay for others to come out and be themselves.


There’s a project afoot to record the stories of my University as a place a community, and one of the parts is filming people holding up single words to describe the place, I was talking to Lee online about this and saying:

How do I sum up the place I came with no real clue why I was here, that’s given me an education and a job, friends, a house, where I’ve gone from asexual to heterosexual to bisexual to homosexual to bisexual queer, from aromantic to poly, from experiencing self as male to experiencing self as female, transitioning, falling in love with people, failed relationships, taking up new hobbies, dropping old ones, walking about in the early hours, learning magic, becoming a kind of pagan, running talks, reading books, the fog and mist and rain straight from the sea and lakes and mountains in the distance :)

And his suggestion was just “Revelatory” which I think kind of fits.  It’s not so much the University itself – as in many ways upper management are kind of lizard people at times and feel disconnected, but its the community that it fosters on its campus and in town, the friendly people I’ve basically grown up with (I think I avoided doing a lot of growing up pre-Uni, or at least it feels that way now) and who have been there for me and let me be there for them in adventurous too numerous and surreal to list them all.

Sure I may not live here forever, but I’ve really rather enjoyed a lot of the time I have lived here, so thanks to everyone who’s done that with me.

Meta Call For Papers: How to make friends and horrify people

Okay so I threatened to write this post in the aftermath of … I think Haunted Hotel?  (Was it Nam?) but now I’m finally going to get around to it, or at least start it, so I’m writing this blog post in the hope of spurring some discussion for the structure of a Call For Papers (note for others, this is mostly getting discussed back and forth over on Facebook)

I had an idea to collect various articles from those of us who have been involved in reffing, propping, crewing, writing for and indeed playing LARP events designed to create horror, wonder, strangeness and otherness based out of the community in Lancaster.  Then wrap up said articles into a bigger document and do the whole printing on demand thing to get it out there as a useful collection of opinions for anyone who wants to think about making events like these happen.  However first off I wanted to discuss the meta aspect – how to structure the categories of articles at least a little bit – I figure if we’ve got some rough ideas for structure then that gives us areas to aim to fill with writing.

My initial structure looks something like this:

  1. Concepts (so coming up with ideas for concepts and hooks to hang events off, atmosphere, goal states: flavour and reactions you want to inspire and how to weave those into the base of the event, mixing in various bits of different bits of background, etc.etc.etc.)
  2. Logistics (Project Management – how to make things you know actually happen before its too late, how to structure reffing teams, deal with conflict, project management, time scales that kind of thing, how to coordinate communication, insurance, handling money, all that stuff you need in place before you can do anything thats sort of overarching for the whole thing)
  3. Locations (where to look, what sort of criteria, ideas on pricing, how to divide up spaces, uses of spaces, reusing spaces and associations, flow of people)
  4. Characters (how many, archetypes, writing timelines, sections out early, structure of info, communicating goals, mental history, aligning them with the event and predisposing them to react well to horror, background research, interrelations, double acts, teams, etc.etc.etc)
  5. Props (small, large, monsters, set pieces, players bringing props, written, recorded, sound tricks, weapons, how to add creepyness, etc.etc.etc.)
  6. Systems (types of system, what systems should fulfil for criteria, what inspires certain ideas behind systems, experimenting with systems, how to write up systems, how to give examples to players, what to do if systems go wrong)
  7. At the Event (set up, dividing space, crisis management, reffing on the day, inspiring desired reactions in players by ref interactions, positioning props, timing events to help create those experiences, crewing on the day, monster handling, emergency propping, what happens when characters die, players are ill, monsters don’t feel scary enough, players do something batshit that you don’t expect, building tension, things you need to know to scare the shit out of players, dread vs. terror, dealing with player conflict, delicious foods to make with nothing but a kettle)
  8. Post Event (debriefing players, debriefing crew, best ways to organise tear down of the set up, writing constructive feed back, receiving feed back, planning for next time and reuse of characters, elements, props)

So I guess I must have missed a few things, or maybe the structures breaking things up in the wrong places, any more suggestions on how to break things up and move them around?  Do I even need this many categories of idea?  Should I make it more general of Pre-event/Event/Post-Event?