lost time incident 57 – uplifting sloths because we can

lost time incident 57
Greetings from the dark shores of adulthood! Just yesterday, I passed a milestone, having now circled the sun 41 times (according to people much smarter and older than me). It’s not a big round number so I spent the day as I spend most weekends: Just kinda puttering around the apartment.

I’ve got a book I’m reading. Made a fish curry. Played a board game. Listened to music. Watched some TV. Uplifted a mammalian pre-sentient species and had them join my interstellar federation of planets, just because I had the power to do so. That’s one of them at the top, there. I added the animated halo as a representation of my species’ godlike power.

I should probably clarify that this happened in a video game called STELLARIS. My brother, in a well-meaning act of sabotage, sent me the game as a birthday gift. I’ve lost so many hours to it, folks.

In the game, you pick a species based on how you feel about their core values, and then you’re handed a home planet and the capability to travel between the stars. So you set about some mundane tasks like sending science ships out to scan systems and find out what’s out there, and build a navy in case you meet anyone scary, and before you know it you’re colonizing other planets and researching alien artifacts. All good fun.

The first time I played, I didn’t want to be distracted by warfare… not when I had a whole gorgeous star system to fly around in. So I decided to play a pacifist race that’s essentially sentient mushrooms. However, after expanding a bit, I ran up against the limits of pacifism, as one of my neighbors in the universe didn’t share my beliefs, and promptly destroyed my navy, my space station, and bombed my home planet until they got bored.

I thought that would be the end of the game, but nope. I was welcome to try to rebuild and keep exploring… until I got too close to the same bullying neighbors and got beat up again.

It must be possible to be a space pacifist, but maybe that’s a bit advanced for one’s first game. So I started a new game as the human race and I gotta tell you, fellow humans… we’re pretty good at this thing (in a game designed by humans).

Anyway. I’ve torn myself away long enough to put a newsletter together, so without further adieu…

I joined Twitter in 2008. Nine years later, I have 144 followers on my account, most of which are inactive, or followed me primarily to promote their own brand. It provided a fun platform to watch comedy writers work, and try to fit joke/story ideas into a tiny box. But more and more, I think I’m done with it.

A journalist I follow on that site, Sarah Jeong, wrote an article about a Twitter competitor called Mastodon that was gaining traction. It was called Mastodon Is Like Twitter Without Nazis, So Why Are We Not Using It?

Mastodon is a free, open source platform. This means that anyone who wants to can set up their own instance and run it on their own server. In fact, you have to… there’s no corporate-owned Mastodon site. If you want to join, you have to find someone’s Mastodon and see if they’re allowing new users. Each instance is also federated, which means there’s not just a local feed of posts from everyone in your instance, but also a “global” feed of every post from people in other instances who someone in your instance follows. The more people you follow outside your instance, the more you introduce them to your instance-mates and the more threads connect all the different Mastodon environments.

I settled into a Mastodon instance called witches.town. For one thing: it had the best name. Its admin is a French person who represents themselves with an illustration of a winged unicorn-horned fox and who says “Witches Town is made to provide a nice place on Mastodon for queer, feminists, anarchists and stuff as well as their sympathizers.” In the few weeks I’ve been there, our admin has gone about relabeling all the site elements to keep a witchy theme. You don’t “fave” a post, but you “place a sigil” on it. It’s cute.

Anyway, I’ve been using it as a space to write short, witch-themed whatsits, and have been amazed at how much easier it is to get engagement on that platform. It’s small so the local and global feeds aren’t impossible to follow, so most people are keeping tabs on what strangers are posting.

Take this post for instance: It takes advantage of a “content warning” feature built into the platform (and isn’t that nice?) to lure the reader in with a meme-phrase:

Then expanded:

Mastodon tells me that this little post has thus far collected 140 “likes” and has been reposted 90 times. By comparison, my most popular tweet ever got less than 30 retweets. I’ve already got over 100 followers on Mastodon and it’s only been a few weeks. For a writer, that’s a lot of validation on tap.

Granted, it’s also a “big fish, small pool” thing, when most other posts are folks microblogging, or talking about Mastodon itself. Not much competition yet. Anyway. That’s where I’ve been.

imported content from witches.town
You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but you do need to supply us with a hank of hair, a vial of blood, complete the three day chant of binding, sign a nondisclosure agreement, summon a minor thoughtform and have it perform up to three tricks or japes, get fitted for a hooded robe, sage your cubicle, and give a cancelled check to payroll.

(tarot reading)

*flips over cards reading STOP EATING GARBAGE and GET REGULAR SLEEP*

“That’s the thing with the Tarot: It’s so open to interpretation. No way to know what it means.”


“Forget” – This medium-effort spell has made big inroads this year as people found more and more things they didn’t want to remember… and who can blame them? An incantation and drinking an anise-flavored vial of fluid, and it’s done. Simple and true.

“Forget” – The votes are in and nothing can beat newcomer spell “Forget”! Easily reversible, this spell guarantees the target must face the very regret they thought they were free from. If the weight of this reversal is severe enough, it can be crippling.

I don’t remember. I honestly don’t.


ending theme song
Okay, folks, that’s plenty of words all in a row for this week. See you next time!

—Michael Van Vleet