After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
i’ve been reading about bad youth in bristol for an hour and a half and now i’m BORED
While traditional horror video games seek to provide an exciting thrill, Nevermind is a biofeedback-enhanced horror game that has greater ambitions. It requires you to manage your anxiety in alarming scenarios – the more stressed you feel, the harder the game becomes. The aim, says Erin Reynolds, its creator, is for players to learn how to not let their fears get the best of them in nerve-wracking situations and hopefully carry over their gameplay-acquired skills into the real world.
A Garmin cardio chest strap akin to the ones gym-goers use to monitor their workout acts as a sensor, relaying the player’s heart rate information to the game through an ANT+ USB stick. The game calculates the player’s Heart Rate Variability (HRV), measuring the change in the duration between their heartbeats to figure out when their “fight or flight” response has kicked in and adjusts the gameplay accordingly. While Nevermind can’t zero in on specific stressful emotions like frustration or upset, it’s able to detect the intensity of the player’s feelings and gauge how deeply they feel stress at any point during the game.
Instead of having fanged horrors and hordes of zombies jump out from around corners, which might need a learning curve, the game is more subtle in inducing fear and is designed to appeal to non-gamers too. It creates a warped chaotic atmosphere where the creepiness factor is slowly dialed up, with huge screaming heads, blood-spattered doors and thrashing body bags.
Assuming the role of a newly hired Neruroprober at the Neurostalgia Institute, players boldly dive into the troubled minds of traumatized patients who are repressing their most horrific memories. To root out the cause of their suffering, players will need to solve puzzles and be willing to face a host of unimaginable terrors before the patient’s subconscious is ready to release its painful memories.
"This psychological phenomenon is based on how some people cope with severe psychological trauma in real life," Reynolds tells Gizmag. "These are individuals who experienced an event so terrible at some point in their lives that their conscious minds locked all memories of that event away completely. Although the patients can’t recall exactly what, if anything, happened to them, the repressed memories end up festering within their subconscious and create immense challenges in their attempts to live a normal life."
The sensor detects how scared or stressed the player gets as they move through the patient’s subconscious, recovering ten Polaroid photographs that each represent a distressful memory. Once all the photographs have been collected, they’ll have to differentiate the false memories from the five true ones and reconstruct the traumatizing memory. If they start to feel more fear, which the game sets out to trigger, the gameplay becomes perceptibly difficult. While some situations impact players more than others, they are all designed to push the player’s buttons.
For example, in the “car maze” section players follow the guiding sound of a blaring car horn through a twisting cave-like maze of crashed and wrecked cars full of disorienting imagery. As the player’s fear levels rise, the visuals become increasingly distorted until they are barely able to see what’s ahead of them.
"Some players become anxious over the car horn, others over the complexity of the maze, some over the imagery – there are a whole host things in this area that can rile up one’s nerves," says Reynolds. "The player needs to have a good grasp on how to calm down by this point in the game as it’s a nearly impossible challenge to escape the maze while scared or stressed."
In another scenario, the player explores a grotesque kitchen to find an ambiguous writhing mass in an oven and a giant bloodied refrigerator buzzing with flies that offers a puzzle. If the player gets rattled trying to solve the puzzle in this disturbing setting, milk starts flooding the room, pouring in from all over. Sloshing around in the waist-high milk makes it harder to move and the more anxious the player feels, the more milk floods in until it drowns them. If they are able to calm down in time the milk stops pouring in and drains out. If not, they drown and the game pulls them out of the room, returning them to the peaceful surroundings of the Institute until they feel ready again.
Making the game tougher as the player’s fear increases might seem counter-intuitive, but its developers were very clear about designing it that way. “We wanted players to become aware in a very real way of when their anxiety levels were starting to become elevated and reward them for being able to manage that anxiety on the fly,” Reynolds tells us. “We knew making the environment change so significantly that it would impact what the player was doing would get their attention.”
Developed as part of a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) thesis project within the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media and Games Division, Nevermind took about a year to build and presently exists as a “proof of concept game.” It has one level with one patient’s subconscious mind connected to a hub area that’s built to support the minds of 10 more patients. A play through takes about an hour. Reynolds plans to get a Kickstarter project going and launch the game with a variety of disturbed patients in late 2014. The team also plans to conduct thorough studies of the game’s impact on players and explore its use in therapy.
Will playing the game have us reacting to freaky situations with a Yoda-like serene gaze? Its developers hope it will help.
“Nevermind draws players in with the promise of a fun, exciting horror game that uses some spiffy new technology, but I hope it ultimately leaves them better equipped to take on the world more bravely and confidently than ever before,” Reynolds tells us. “In a way, it’s the biggest puzzle in the game – how do you solve your gut, knee-jerk reactions to unpleasant scenarios? If you can figure it out in the game, you’ll find success. If you can figure it out in life, you’ll find success there too.”
my job ladies and gentlemen
my brother tried to pick up a banana to make it look like he was talking on the phone but all the bananas in the bunch came with it and he just looked at me and went “i guess it’s a conference call”
don’t encourage him
My will is down and has -
bowed out - the final curtain
fell as the overheated footlights
sparks flew out
and so my will takes its bow,
down to its knee, folded to the floorboards.
Applause ricochets out, and over me,
but to who?
To the One who lifts my chin, to You
whom my will is bowed to
And the encore calls for
The One who steps in.
And maybe who you fell for and who you eventually loved wasn’t rational, no matter how hard you tried to list pros and cons and sum the results. You couldn’t think your way through it, not all the way. Maybe just the scent of somebody carried more weight than everything else put together.
Apparently people move house on average eight times in their life and I’m already at five
I told my mum this and she’s at THIRTY ONE
Anyway tomorrow she’s taking me to see a cottage she wants to buy in Derbyshire and it’s gonna be so beauuuuuutiful up there
flower language has always been an intense source of disappointment for me
like, they all mean really generic things like “love” or “forever” or “i’m sorry”
i thought you could combine flowers
like you could just send someone a bouquet and from the…