A new beginning

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Hey! Did you know that Living Wasteland is out today?

No?

Well, that’s okay, because I didn’t release anything about it until now. And now you know, and now you can read the fruits of a year’s delayed labor. It didn’t come out quiet like I’d imagined it, but I’m satisfied with where Eponine took the story, and maybe one day I’ll work up the motivation to write a sequel worthy of him.

I haven’t been here much recently. I’ve been stuck in a rather… destructive cycle. My gym teacher and the torture she puts us students through each day makes me want to unironically hang myself saps my willpower and physical energy, which leaves me with little to write, which means fewer posts. And that leads to fewer views (because you can’t view nonexistent posts) and fewer likes, which makes me feel guilt for neglecting my “duties”. Compounded with the next few weeks of pure agony (you know, finals), and I don’t want to be near anything that I can’t use for escapism.

I don’t want to come here for the sole purpose of filling up my notification panel. I don’t want to write poems and short stories for the sole purpose of getting likes.

Because you know what? The likes are meaningless. The follower counts are meaningless. They’re just numbers on a screen. And a year from now, neither you nor I will remember them.

What we will remember is how the poems made us feel. We will remember that line that made us go “huh, that’s a really clever pun” or that drew an uproar of laughter from our lips. We will remember the sadness from the heaviest scenes, and we will remember the ecstasy from the lightest ones. We will remember the characters, and how we related to them, and how we hated some with a burning passion and wanted nothing but the world for others. We will remember plot twists and beautifully crafted scenes and

I had an entire post about quitting the Super Smash Bros. club at school drafted. I was going to rant and rave about the futility of centering an identity around nothing more than glorified children’s toys. But it’s been over a month since my explosive exit, since I realized the futility of staying around a place, doing things I hated with people who cared nothing for me outside of whether or not I could mash buttons.

In any rate, I’m mashing buttons. I’m manipulating pixels on a screen. But it’s what’s left at the end of the day that matters. In one instance, I leave- or put down the system, or whatever the closest equivalent of “leaving” is- and I’ve accomplished nothing, just put in a horrifying amount of “work” to make a few kilobytes of data that I’ll probably end up accidentally deleting during a routine system cleanup. (Which actually happened once: RIP in peace, my Tomodachi Life island.) But in the other instance, the one that matters, I can collapse from exhaustion at the end of the day, content in the art that I’ve made. The art that I can share with others, the art that has the potential to change the world- or at least the one person who needs it most.

Like I said, the likes shouldn’t matter. The follows shouldn’t matter. The pageviews should mean nothing at all, except if you’re a search engine, in which case either be privacytools.io recommended or get the hell out.

Which is why I regret to inform you that this blog will be closing its doors on June 14. I’m leaving for Neocities, which affords me a great deal more control- full control, actually- over the presentation and content I can put in pages. I can’t do “weirdiverse” pages like “medusa” in WordPress. (It took me an entire day to put together the JavaScript for that page, actually. And it’s fully libre.) I can’t do poem pages that do spooky things like change full sentences on mouseover, make time-based effects. (I haven’t done this yet, but now that I think of it…)

Neocities has a few features- or lack of features, rather- that make it much better for my mental health and future growth. Yes, there is a pageview statistics page, but it’s so basic for free accounts that it’s nigh useless for me to spend any time looking over it. And Neocities doesn’t have any prebuilt themes- you have to build your website from the ground up, unlike WordPress, which offers you a handful of cookie-cutter themes and few customization options and makes you pay if you want to do anything more advanced, like replacing your site’s CSS. (Which I could do in Blogger, but I’m never going back to anything Google-based again.) Neocities doesn’t shovel ads all over my site, and I can write my site to be lightweight and fully functional even for those who have JavaScript turned off.

Most importantly is the fact that all Neocities pages are backed up and accessible from IPFS, a protocol and network for the distributed web. You know how torrents let you download files from any peer who has that same file and the torrent file? Well, IPFS is like that. No more censorship ever again. MayVaneDay, free, forever.

All of my poems up to G (in alphabetical order) are already in the Archive. I’ll be frantically putting more in over the next few days, along with short stories and various articles I’ve written over the years. I’ll keep writing the books and poems you love. But I want my freedom, and I want it now.

I hope to see you there.

https://mayvaneday.neocities.org

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prayer to dark

we were born in the summer rain
the segway to autumn on the horizon
pit-pattering on an old woman’s kitchen windowsill
her own rain carving timeless canyons in her skin

I never put much stock in the seven deadly sins
until greed became my downfall
and I traded my wings, my flight, my freedom
for a measly amount of human gold

instant regret

hair sopping in the rain
I picked myself up and pushed past the searing pain
ribbons of ripped flesh still hanging off my back

we turned our eyes away from the light
so hard that we forgot how to see
so we built our own heaven
you and I, you and me

together until the end

rescue disk

last night I had a dream
where I was the god of the universe
a whole blocky expanse at my feet
and I had to choose between swearing my allegiance to a clan of fat kids
and the clean-cuts but scraggly underneath

and instead
I accidentally blew half of my birthday money on a single smoothie
why should a smoothie cost twenty dollars?
unless it’s gilded with gold, I guess
then I would understand

but the waitress thought I’d asked for a pop first
light green and bubbly and enemy of waistlines

last night I had a dream
where a certain boy came back into my room
and told me to retrieve the old computer from my grandmother’s closet
and install parabola on it so I could be free

and instead
I tucked his suggestion away
because it was nowhere the weekend
and unfulfillable plans cause a great deal of stress
just festering in the back of my mind

but sometimes I do wonder
and I am still wondering
if someday I will ever run free

Leave yourself a backdoor out: how to make a backup Tails drive

Say there’s some kind of extenuating circumstances where you’re not able to access or safely use your laptop (or computing device of choice) for some reason: maybe you’ve been grounded; maybe your parents have foisted and forced spyware down your throat; maybe your school bring-your-own-device policy is pozzed completely out of touch with reality and requires a mess of captive portals and Chromebook-carrying normies and you need to protect yourself.

You don’t have to be subject to Google’s botnet. You don’t have to rely on someone else’s goodwill or an ignorant Windows user’s ineptitude at maintaining their antivirus software.

Let me tell you about Tails.

Tails (The Amnesic Incognito Live-System) is a, well, live system that runs on a flash drive. It’s like a computer on a stick. You turn it on, the computer boots from it, and you have a little peace of mind you can carry with you wherever you go. On a lanyard, in your pocket, on your keychain. Tails is different than other live systems, though, because all internet access is forced through the Tor network through a SOCKS proxy. All the preinstalled software is already configured to use the proxy, and if you want to install a program that doesn’t support it, it won’t be able to access the internet.

Now onto the incognito part. Tails is designed to reset itself upon every reboot, yes? So even if you somehow manage to bypass all the security restrictions and the general fact that it’s based on Debian and Debian is as rock-stable as can be, any messups will be washed away on shutdown.

But say you want to keep some files on there. What’s a computer without your personal files? Your thirty-gigabyte music library? The chapters of the next novel you’re working on?

Tails has a persistence option. So yes, if your flash drive is bigger than eight gigabytes, you can section off whatever is left after installing the live system and use that for all the files your little heart desires.

So let’s get started, shall we?

  1. First, you need to download the ISO file and verify that it didn’t get messed with on transit. The most normie-friendly method of verifying it is by using the browser extension that they provide, but it only works with Firefox. If you’re using a different browser, take a few minutes, pull up a different tab, and figure out how to use the GPG method. I promise it’ll be worth it.
  2. Are you using Windows, a Mac, or anything that isn’t some form or derivative of Debian? If so, skip down to step 4.
  3. Assuming you are using Debian or a derivative like Ubuntu or Mint, you’ll want to go to this page and add the Tails repository to your software sources and install the Tails installer. Ubuntu/Mint users can use this shortcut instead, though:
    1. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tails-team/tails-installer && apt update && apt install tails-installer
  4. Users of anything else should do themselves a favor and download and flash Lubuntu to the smallest flash drive they’re willing to temporarily sacrifice and then complete step 3.
  5. Now open Tails Installer, pick the drive you’ll be using for Tails and the ISO you downloaded, and follow the instructions. (Lubuntu users might have to mount their main hard drive and go digging for their Downloads folder.)

Congrats! You now have a Tails stick! But now we’ve got to configure persistence.

  1. Put the stick into your computer. Or keep it in. No matter how it got there; it just has to be in.
  2. Turn your computer off.
  3. Turn it on again.
    1. If nothing happens, you’ll have to go into your BIOS and disable secure boot and enable booting from USB.
  4. The Tails Greeter should appear after anywhere from five to fifteen seconds. Accept the defaults and click “Start Tails”.
  5. Click on the top-left of the screen where it says “Applications”. Under the “Tails” category should be an option to configure your persistent volume. Click on that too. Man, we’re doing a lot of clicking here, aren’t we?
  6. Pick a password. A good password- nothing weak like “dogs14”. You’ll have to remember it, because if you forget it, all your data’s going down the toilet.
  7. A new screen should appear with a bunch of options. At the very least, pick network connections, anything to do with APT/packages, dotfiles, and persistent files. Depending on your needs- I know I certainly have these needs- you’ll want to also enable the GPG keyring, the GNOME keyring, Tor Brower bookmarks, KeePassX, and maybe Pidgin if you have an account that it supports. It hasn’t yet loaded any plugins I’ve manually installed, so I can only use Matrix/Riot from the browser. 😦
  8. When it tells you that you’ll have to reboot your computer to apply changes… well, reboot your computer.

Congrats! You now have a Tails stick with persistence! Now’s the time to start copying your files…

…that is, if you’re a lucky Linux user, because otherwise you’re going to have a helluva time trying to install the EXT4 drivers and trying to open your encrypted persistence partition.

Most distros should prompt you to unlock the drive when you plug it in. All the normal files you’ll want to put in/take out are in the “Persistent” folder. Anywhere else, and Tails will chuck them out when it starts.

That should be enough for most normal users. Remember, this isn’t meant to be your daily driver- just a safe backup in case anything technological goes wonky in your life. And also remember: any files you download while in Tails have to be moved from the “Tor Browser” folder to the “Persistent” folder if you want to keep them, and any files you want to upload have to be copied over to the home folder first since Tails doesn’t let the browser see the persistent drive. (It’s a security risk.)

But if that’s somehow not enough:

  • If you enabled dotfiles, you can put pictures in that folder, and they’ll be available for the system to use as wallpapers. If you change the wallpaper or the favorite shortcuts on the left dash (the only two things I’ve ever gotten to stay with dotfiles), you should make a folder in your dotfiles folder called “.config” and another folder in that called “dconf”. Go to your home directory, enter .config and the dconf folder inside it, and copy the “user” file to your .config/dconf folder in the dotfiles.
    • If that was too hard to follow:
    • /.config/dconf/user <– copy this file (it won’t have an extension)
    • dotfiles/.config/dconf/ <— and put it in the folder you just made (don’t rename it!)
  • If you install cmus, you can listen to music. Be sure to put it in your additional software configuration file so it automatically reinstalls on reboot:
    • Go to your persistence root folder. (It should be one folder up from your dotfiles folder.)
    • Execute the following command (you’ll need to have set an admin password on boot for that session):
    • sudo gedit ./live-additional-software.conf
    • Add all the programs you want, each on a separate line, and then save and exit.
  • Yes, calibre also works in Tails. But it’s a much older version, and you’ll have to reconfigure it on every boot.

negative spaces

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I took a nice long walk outside by my own volition for the first time this year. No tyrannical gym teachers forcing a certain pace or arbitrarily passing/failing students based on “effort”, just the wind and the sky and the occasional car passing by.
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It was rather peaceful, actually. Everywhere was flooded, puddles reigning supreme. Land of a thousand lakes, indeed.

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