Today

January 6th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Life - (0 Comments)

In which there are a few images.

Today was much like most of my days.

I slept in ’til noonish. Ate.

Lunch

Had coffee. Internetted. Noticed today was pay day and paid my VISA bill. Made the bed, watered the plants, thought about meditating but didn’t —

My Amma

thought about picking up 30 or 60 minutes of extra hours at work but didn’t, thought about journaling but didn’t, thought about writing a few Christmas thank you notes but didn’t, ordered a few things (including a couple sports bras to squish my boobs down while I work out) from Amazon, worked out —

Afterward

(not because I want to but because I basically have to), and then suddenly it’s dark out because it’s winter. Scott will be home shortly, but I have to login to work in 15 minutes so the poor man’s on his own for dinner.

I have to reconfigure my “office” (our bedroom) for my job, pee, get beverages, and start taking calls.

I hope you had a nice day.

‘Twas the night before Christmas

December 26th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Family | Love - (0 Comments)

In which we each opened a present on Christmas Eve.

I got a ring!

Oooh! Pretty!
Terrible picture brought to you by low light and my cell phone.

According to the listing, it’s a “created Alexandrite pear ring, set in .925 sterling silver with rhodium finish.” I have no idea what rhodium is.

When my grandfather came home from WWII, he brought back a small collection of unset gem stones. When each of his kids, including my mother, graduated from high school, they got to choose a stone and have it set into a ring.

So they’ve all got these rings set in white gold with giant pink stones (pink sapphires? I’m really not sure what they are, but they’re HUGE and they’re PINK) that are unique, and yet still sort of part of a matching set. They’re all different shapes: square, round, rectangular, etc. And my aunts all wear their rings to this day.

When I graduated high school, I got a small Alexandrite — there were no huge pink rocks left, after all five of his kids — and my grandmother had it set in white gold for me. It was so cool and I loved it! A custom-made ring, just for me! And it was a color-changing stone, with tones of purple and aqua. It was my first piece of ‘real’ jewelry and I should still fucking have it.

Buuuuut I don’t. It got stolen out of my bathroom during a party in junior college. (I’ve always been bummed about that. It should have become a fucking heirloom, but my dumb ass lost it. God only knows where the ring is now.)

Then I saw this ring and it reminded me both of my own ring and the rings of my aunts and uncle, so I put it on my wishlist and GOT IT FOR CHRISTMAS! Yay!

He got fuzzy plaid lounge pants.

In which there’s a rant about the joyous experience of aging-while-female.

This piece about perimenopause made me laugh. Especially the line, “Last week, I cried because I saw a high school marching band coming down the street playing Stevie Wonder.” (I sobbed during the end of White Christmas last night, and I’ve seen the damn movie a dozen times. Shit, I nearly cried watching part of an episode of DS9.)

And this fuck-you-menopause rant was pretty great, too, mostly because I too have been asking myself why I feel like shit all the time for the past few years. (Although, to be fair, I don’t feel bad as much as I don’t feel good, if that makes any sense. I’m not in pain or anything, I’m just missing that throbbing vibrant good health of breeding-age hormones.)

I mean, I know there is much room for improvement. My diet’s pretty good most of the time, but not always. (I’m either eating homemade, additive-free soup and home-baked whole wheat sourdough or I’m horking down fries and a Frosty from Wendy’s. Sometimes I live on soup for a couple of days in a row. What the fuck do you want from me.) I definitely need to be more physically active, and, knowing that, I do asanas and mild calisthenics; I go on walks and bike rides (during the three months a year it isn’t 98F with 100% humidity or -11F with a fifteen degree wind chill factor). Sometimes I just do circuits around the apartment building because it sucks ass outside but there’s three storeys and a lot of stairs so it’s a pretty good walk.

But ye gods, this weight gain! The thinning hair! The jowls and the sagging skin! When I take the time to really look at it, I can barely recognize this body as mine. And what, just what the holy fuck has happened to my thighs? They’re horrific! Jiggly and squishy and weird-looking. There are fucking varicose veins appearing on my feet and legs! I HAVE DEAD SKIN ON MY HEELS, for fuck’s sake, AND IT’S GROSS. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.

My lovely 33-day menstrual cycle is now down to, what? Twenty-seven days? I have thirteen-and-a-half periods a year now, rather than 11! What bullshit!

And yeah, sometimes I go to pee and it’s a thimbleful. Fuck that; it’s a waste of time and toilet paper.

My nipples now officially point floor-ward. Do I care? No, not really. I mean, my identity isn’t substantially compromised, but yes, yes I fucking do care, because they didn’t used to and now they do and I haven’t done anything wrong and what’s the bloody point of this?

Sometimes I can’t sleep much, which is interesting for someone who spent most of her life having trouble staying wake, but not all that great. I generally use the time to meditate, read, or do chores. But being wide awake for no fucking reason is weird.

And then there’s the intense anxiety, the hammering heartbeat, and the miserable hot flashes. It is possible to be intensely miserable about absolutely nothing, you see, and it fucking SUCKS.

Then there’s the horrible heat intolerance that makes me very nearly incapable of accomplishing anything at all beyond basic metabolism all fucking summer. It has literally made me cry, just being too hot. How stupid is that? You can’t handle a little temperature! Your brain shuts down and in your misery and confusion you cry. You can’t even figure out that what you should do is go get in a cool shower; you just lie there and weep until your fiancee puts you in the truck and drives you around for the better part of an hour with the A/C on full blast and all the vents pointed at you. Eventually your brain boots back up and you say, “I should have taken a cool shower,” and he says, “I suggested that but you said no,” and you think: holy shit, what the fuck is wrong with me? I never used to have problems in hot weather. I never used to have a brain that would go offline, leaving me helpless and stupid.

It’s the subtle changes in nearly everything that just make me feel off, somehow, but not in any, like, emergency medical way, but in a is something wrong? sort of way. Dizziness. Bloating. Joint pain. Tingling extremities. Unexplained fatigue. Brittle nails! It’s a motherfucking laugh riot, this is.

You have no idea how robustly healthy you are until you find you’ve aged out of it. That constant background sense of well-being goes away and you find yourself forever listening for doom.

All the sites say the same shit: stay hydrated. Exercise. Keep a routine. Don’t drink or smoke. (I did quit smoking last spring, but I’m not interested in giving up the wine just yet.) Exercise. Take psych meds. Exercise. Consider hormone therapy if your symptoms are awful. Exercise. Avoid caffeine. Exercise. (One almost senses a trend.)

They also say a lot of stupid shit, even the apparently bona fide medical sites, too, like “take vitamins” or “get acupuncture,” which is troubling, since neither supplements or acupuncture do anything but separate one from her money, but my species is not generally known for its logic.

Let it be known that I am soooo not looking forward to “night sweats,” which is a thing women get, apparently. They sound fucking awful.

Just now I’m feeling more okay than usual, for which I am grateful, and I’m getting cleaning and laundry done while I’m feeling sprightly. But sometimes it’s about all I can do to keep up with the dishes and make the bed every day, let alone exercise or be creative.

Also: not to whine or sound vain, but I want my hair back. This shit on my head now is baby-fine, straight, brittle, and thin. Three years ago it would still curl, if I put product in it and scrunched it under a hair dryer just so; now it’s just straight. It’s like somebody else’s hair altogether. And I color it not because I care about the grey, but because it gives it the tiniest bit of body. So there’s another mystery solved: not only do women my age know exactly what they look like and not give a fuck, but they — we — also aren’t coloring our hair because we think it makes us ‘look younger.’ No. We’re coloring it because Better Living Through Chemistry.

So not only is my face melting off my skull and pooling under my jaw, but my hair is crap, too? I have no waist, my feet are ugly, my hands look old, I feel bad more often than not, my sleep cycles are fucked up, I have hot flashes and anxiety attacks: can’t I at least have nice goddamned hair?!

Force it through a sieve!

December 9th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Food | Recipes - (2 Comments)

In which I’m astonished at the texture!

I like to read recipes. I have liked to do so since they were in actual books rather than on the internet.

I especially like to read old recipes. The oldest through the newest, to see what’s changed and what’s the same. Ancient recipes, medieval recipes, 20’s recipes, 40’s recipes. War time recipes, Southern recipes, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean and Indian and Ethiopian, I like to read recipes.

Well, even in the first version of The Joy of Cooking I ever owned, which was an 80’s version, they sometimes directed you to “force it,” whatever it was, “through a sieve.”

In fact, a surprising number of older recipes direct the cook to force “it,” the soup or sauce or whatever, through a sieve, before adjusting the seasonings and serving.

I have never in my life forced anything through a sieve, because I assumed that modern blenders obviated the need.

I WAS INCORRECT AS FUCK.

Here’s the scenario:

Yesterday, I made broccoli cheddar soup in the electric pressure cooker. I used a bag of cheap, frozen broccoli, because it’s been so long since I’ve bought cheap, frozen broccoli that I’d forgotten why nobody ever buys cheap, frozen broccoli: the bags are always half-filled with stems rather than florets, and the stems are woody as fuck. Every. Single. Time.

Once cooking was done I opened the Instant Pot, removed the liner, and carried it over to the counter, where I proceeded to blend the soup with the immersion blender. Super excited to nom down a bowl of homemade soup! Ladled some into a bowl, toasted up some whole wheat homemade sourdough, and sat down at the table.

Delicious!

Except, um, a little fiber of stem. Kind of unpleasant, but not a big deal–

And another. And another.

And another!

Aaaaand basically this soup is inedible, because after every spoonful you’re taking bits of what basically amount to centimeter-long hairs out of your mouth.

UGH!

Later that evening, I blended it again, well past what your typical broccoli cheddar is like, far into cream soup territory.

Tasted it again.

Same fucking thing: tiny little hair-like fibers in every mouthful!

So there was only one thing left, before throwing out the whole pot: force it through a sieve.

sieve

Turns out something that thick will not go through a sieve on its own, hence the word “force.” Turns out you use the back of a big spoon (I used a small ladle) to push it through. Doesn’t take too long, once you find the right spoon.

And then, OH. MY. GOD. The texture! Not only is that stupid stem fiber gone, but they are not fucking kidding about this forcing-it-through-a-sieve bullshit. What comes out is silky smooth and luxurious and amazing.

How have I never done this before?!

Moral: If it says force it through a sieve, then fucking force it through a sieve.

Even if you’ve used modern blending equipment. Just do it. It’s so worth it!

Traveler’s Notebook

December 8th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Nerd | Travel - (0 Comments)

In which, yet again, I become what I judge. This time was quicker than usual! (It took twenty years for me to end up fat and the owner of a fake Christmas tree, but only weeks to end up with a Traveler’s Notebook!)

Behold. My Traveler’s Notebook.

Traveler's Notebook

This object has totally captured my imagination. I’m not really sure why, as it’s just a piece of leather and some elastic, a tin clamp, a waxed thread bookmark, paper, and accessories, but I adore it. (No hyperbole. Sometimes I just sit and hold it and look at it.)

So elegant and clever. So satisfying. The smell of the leather, the feel of the paper. The thoroughly modern faux-rusticity.

You feel as if, should the world end, you’d carry this with you always, and scribble in it with the smallest and most cramped hand to save what little paper was left. Future feral generations would marvel at the even-cut edges, the fineness of the paper, the way the leather was treated. The impossibly complicated dried-out old plastic-and-steel pen, and the precision-milled pen clip. It would be scarred and bent, but beautiful, and you’d have put all you knew in it for them.

IMG_20161208_142718

(Of course, what will really happen is that when this journaling generation goes, there will be millions upon millions of these things, stuffed with inspirational stickers and craft paper flowers and tabs and clips and cutesy drawings and a personal, woman’s-eye view into life way back in the teens, unearthed in boxes in grandmas’ houses and glutting the antiques market and whatever will pass for eBay by then. If they come back in style, like Polaroid cameras have now, people will probably buy them and gut them and re-use the by-then antique leather covers.)

I got the notebook itself (a “fauxdori,” made by a company called September Leather) for free, using points from my Chase Amazon card. (I can’t tell you how much I’ve spent on accessories since it’s completely embarrassing.) I soon restrung it with a Midori repair kit, even though the original elastics were just fine, to make it look more like a Midori.

Notebooks

I’ve purchased hand-made inserts, official Midori inserts. Pencil boards, kraft folders, pens. Colored pencils, brush pens, a couple of stencils. Book darts, washi tape, a repair kit, double sided tape, pen holder clips, and Midori post-its designed to fit inside.

"minimum"

And, if all that weren’t enough, I also bought a passport-sized Midori, plus a few accessories for it, too.

Pens

I use the little one as a wallet. It’s the most expensive wallet I’ve ever carried, and it’s not even a wallet! But it does hold one’s passport perfectly, plus money and cards.

I looooooooooove it.

The big one, the standard size, is my daily journal. And sketchbook. And spiritual journal. And place for lists and to-dos, and a catch-all for random bits of paper, and post-its dispenser, and pen holder, and it just looks cool and feels cool and is fun to handle.

Traveler's Notebook

It’s really nice to journal by hand again; I haven’t done so regularly since high school. It’s different than writing online or even typing, and I’m enjoying it very much. My wretched handwriting is slowly improving, and I’ve begun to sketch and doodle, too — something I’ve never really done.

Sometimes I sketch things from books I’m reading; other sketches are scenes from what I’m watching on TV. I have no talent for art but it’s fun, and feels better than wasting time scrolling endlessly on social media.

Matilda

I discovered the Traveler’s Notebook by accident when looking up Bullet Journaling. And here’s where the judgement comes in.

In August, I posted this innocuous entry about the chores I’d done that day, and Jinjer, whom I blame completely for my journal obsession, told me about the world of BuJo and posted a handy link.

I clicked.

And fell down the rabbit hole of modern planner obsession. Just like standing in front of a Franklin Planner display back in the day, only seemingly infinite. Instagram hashtags, Pinterest, endless blogs and YouTube flip-throughs. And eventually I stumbled across the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, a refillable Japanese stationer’s flagship product, and that was that. Had to have one. Had to have two.

The judgement thing was that, at first, as I looked at all the stuff, at the endless pictures of piles of planners and journals and pens and stickers and stamps and tapes and myriad other stupid meaningless and often plastic accessories, I thought, “Gross. Wasteful. Needless. These people could bullet journal with a Bic and a two dollar spiral notebook!”

I came across online stationery and pen stores, and thought, “How fucking stupid and pretentious can anyone be? Nobody needs a two hundred dollar fucking fountain pen.” But before two months were out, I’d placed my first Jet Pens order, and read through maybe half of their lovely, clever tutorials, learning several useful things.

Full disclosure: I did buy a fucking fountain pen, but it was under two bucks. I just wanted to see if I, as a leftie, could write with it. Turns out I can, but I have to hold it upside down, in order to pull rather than push the nib. I’m not super fond of it because I prefer superfine pens, and it writes medium-to-heavy.

Fauxdori Traveler's Notebook

So my knee-jerk reaction was a negative judgement, and I ended up turning into what I’d judged. In almost no time at all.

Do I need not only one but two relatively expensive journal solutions? No, I could write online here, or in a private local document. Or if I simply had to go analogue (which I felt I did, as there appears to be evidence it’s good for brain plasticity), any pen and pad of paper would do. It’s just typical Western gluttony and wastefulness (even if it does stimulate the economy (which I’m not confident is wholly good no matter what they say)).

Do any non-professionals need special paper types, wide varieties of writing utensils, or other accessories? No, not at all. I’m no artist, or famous diarist, or world traveler.

But do I really need most of what I have? No. And I’m ashamed of it, honestly, but not enough to force privation on myself. I focus instead on my gratitude and good fortune, most of the time.

Much of my adult life I couldn’t have afforded to buy these things on a whim; I would have put them on wishlists and eventually forgotten about them. Now that I’m in a spot where I can drop sixty bucks on a glorified wallet I don’t need, well, I did. So I’m just like everybody else and I use my discretionary income to buy shit I do not, in any way, shape, or form, need, but only want.

I love this thing

It feels weird. It’s strange that when my life is at its most abundant and comfortable, I’m mentally so Spartan in outlook. I frequently feel a sense of melancholy about how normalized my relative wealth is, when so many are still suffering heartbreaking lack. I have so much, from hot running water to grocery delivery to the luxury of enough free time to make my own bread and pickles and salsa and soups and sauces and hats and socks. Other people are literally shooed off of the part benches they’re trying to sleep on.

Oh, well, enough pontificating. The positive outcome of all this is that not only do I have a couple of objects that give me great pleasure every time I use them, and a new habit of offline analog time, but also I donated an equal amount to the local food kitchen and shelter just so I could stand myself! True story.

In which there’s an image.

Gosh, I haven’t!

Well, here it is!

fuck yeah presents!

Universal basic income

December 8th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Introspection | Reading | Work - (0 Comments)

In which I ponder the cuddle-the-baby or ignore-him-when-he-cries approaches.

I’ve been reading a lot about Universal Basic Income lately.

What is it? Well, the basic idea is that everybody gets enough income to keep them just out of poverty even if they never do anything at all.

In the U.S., it would be the equivalent of about $1,000 per month.

Everybody. No matter what. If you’re wealthy, you’d probably just shove it in your IRA or something; if you’re not, it would keep you sheltered and fed and off the streets and off welfare. It would put a lot of social services out of business. Homelessness would plummet, for instance.

Would people “abuse” it?

Well, let’s consider abuse:

Is deciding you don’t want to work abuse? I don’t want to work. Working sucks! With the exception of a couple of jobs that stimulated me and were interesting for awhile, I generally have never enjoyed work. Nobody truly likes going to the same place every day and doing the same meaningless shit over and over (especially not while being abused by the public). Most humans do not enjoy pretending to be total twats for money, just to align with the inhumane dictates of some company that doesn’t give a shit whether you live or die and which will fire you at the drop of a hat no matter how faithfully you perform/conform.

Is using that money to buy drink or drugs abuse? Well, if you’re addicted, you’re going to get those substances anyway. With basic income, you’d get them with your own money rather than other people’s. Probably a measurable reduction in theft. If you’re not addicted, you might party for awhile, sure, but that sort of life is pretty boring, so eventually you’d stop and look around for something fulfilling.

Many people object to the idea of giving everybody money because they think it would encourage laziness and slovenliness, but I think those objections reflect the objector’s personality more than anything else. Just because you’d drop out and let your place go to shit if you got free money doesn’t mean everybody else would.

And I think a lot of people would drop out, briefly, especially those in the bottom classes, and let the pizza boxes pile up. Daytime TV ratings might explode for awhile, sure. But so what? Eventually, people who are not disabled physically or mentally will get up and go do something. It’s human nature. And with basic income, that thing wouldn’t have to be degrading jobs at fast food restaurants or big box stores. That thing could be going back to CC to get qualified to work in a nice restaurant’s kitchen, or learning how to finally write that novel, or volunteering full-time to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. With universal income, if your circs sucked, you’d be free to reject them, leave, begin again elsewhere. You could find your correct place in society, eventually.

People in good, satisfying jobs would probably stay put. But people in shitty, demeaning jobs would probably migrate out of them, forcing employers to retool those jobs to be less shitty and demeaning in order to attract workers. Right now, and for the last thirty years, it’s been an employer’s market. They’ve lowered wages and worsened scheduling, benefits, and other work parameters to the point where most jobs below a certain level are really, really awful. I know this because I’ve worked them; if you haven’t, you can shut the fuck up. “Random scheduling” doesn’t sound that bad until you’ve done it for a year. Closing at eleven followed by opening at six followed by no schedule certainty for years on end will exhaust you: physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s bullshit, because it serves no purpose. We’re not at war; we’re not fighting for our lives and our way of life, we’re just making the rich richer. This is not sacrifice-worthy, noble employment. It’s theft.

Ignore-him-when-he-cries people think that by ignoring requests for attention, we’ll raise strong, self-dependent kids.

Cuddle-the-baby people think that by answering every need, we’ll raise confident, self-assured, unafraid children.

Obviously both approaches can fail and create selfish, self-serving monsters. Both approaches are imperfect, because they choose law over what’s actually on the ground.

I say the law was never meant to presuppose every possible nuance; you have a brain for that. React appropriately in the moment. And in the moment, machines are taking jobs, and a lot of industries are dying. Considering the lay of the land, it’s not possible to bring back all those dead manufacturing jobs. Not to mention that so many of the jobs that are left are poor quality and don’t pay shit. (If you’re working full time and still on welfare, something’s very wrong.)

It’s not like we don’t already have the wealth needed; if everybody had income, no matter what, we’d have a much healthier economy.

I believe that the more I learn about it, the more I’m very much in favor of UBI.

Ceramic Christmas Tree

November 21st, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Introspection - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a pretty thing.

Ceramic Christmas Tree

I’ve had this thing on my wishlist for pushing a decade. It’s a fairly close replica of the one my great grandmother had, which now belongs to my uncle. Ten years is a long time to covet something that costs less than forty bucks, and I finally just went ahead and bought it.

It arrived today and it’s wonderful and pretty, and I’m so grateful that I can just buy something like this and have it show up on the steps a week later. But it’s not a $40 meal to be digested and forgotten about, it’s another box to keep in the storage space and to have to carry the next time we move and I basically always feel guilt about accumulating things because I know at some point in the future I’ll be moving it or donating it or throwing it away or somehow trying to get rid of it, to deal with it, so I can take myself and the few things I really need someplace else because that’s how it’s always been for me.

I’ve owned entire sets of furniture that are gone now. Record album collections, dishes, waterbeds and sideboards: all gone. A table my maternal grandfather made: gone. An heirloom ring, a handmade doll, 99% of the books I’ve ever owned: gone. Leather coats, good winter boots, cast iron pans and whisks and 6×8″ woven rugs and a samovar and high school annuals and pictures in frames.

Once in a dorm building in Albuquerque I just threw shit into the incinerator shaft because I couldn’t get rid of it any other way. Good shit. But I couldn’t keep it and I didn’t have the resources to sell it or donate it. Once in a farmhouse in Iowa I had to walk away from things I wanted because they were ruined or wouldn’t fit into the Jeep. Once in an apartment in Portland, I abandoned a baby grand piano because I couldn’t afford to move it and I couldn’t find anyone to donate it to.

Everything ends up being a burden. Everything ends up being a burden. Everything ends up being a burden.

But before it does, it’s frequently beautiful and brings joy.

In which I’m disappointed but not surprised, considering how many said they’d be voting their ‘consciences’ in this election.

I have several hundred Facebook friends; they are disproportionately musicians and cult members, and a lot of them announced they’d vote third party.

I really, really wish they hadn’t.

capture

So, to those of you who voted for anti-vaxx Jill Stein: congratulations! You voted for Trump! Ditto Johnson and all other third party voters.

Now, it’s quite normal for the country to vote republican after having had a democrat in office for two terms; it was very, very likely the republican candidate would win. Which is why it was particularly important we voted for Clinton this time, even though she wasn’t an ideal candidate.

Buuuuut we didn’t. So the republican candidate won.

Sadly for us, this time the republican candidate happened to be a spoilt little rich boy who does things like build hotels that fail, and host pro wrestling events and reality TV shows. And now this man will have his tiny little finger on the button.

RIP health care, gay marriage, help to refugees.

What’s wrong with ‘Westworld.’

November 4th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Uncategorized - (2 Comments)

In which I keep lecturing people about what’s wrong with this show and they don’t want to hear it, so I’m going to blog it for my own amusement!

I’ve heard it’s possible that HBO will lock in as many as five seasons of ‘Westworld,’ an episodic TV reboot of the 1973 movie of the same name.

Five seasons of this? It’s well-acted and well shot, but it’s rife with fail. In the opening credits you see the creation of biologically printed robots; in the show itself you see technicians pulling rubbery skin onto metal skeletons. Which is it? Are they biological or mechanical, or both?

And how does keeping humanoid robots so life-like they look exactly like humans naked help to dehumanize them to the staff, rather than merely degrade them like prisoners or slaves?

The plot itself is interesting… if you like sappy, emotional Westerns with no science fiction whatsoever, and only a mere nod to game-playing in the “hidden level” sub-plot followed by Ed Harris’ Man In Black character.

All these robots can pass the Turing test, but they’re fodder for human guests to fuck and fight and maim and rape and kill. They bleed. They appear to understand freedom enough to want it. The whole show is gratuitous violence and weepy scenes of robot subjugation. It fails spectacularly to do what sci-fi does best, which is ask important questions:

If you can build robots so subtle they can pass as human, are they human?

What is consciousness?

Where’s the line between a very convincing machine and a self-aware AI? How do you design a test to find it?

Is it moral to build a device, giving it the capacity to feel and understand pain, just so you can hurt it?

Is what they feel actually pain, when they’re just robots? Can they feel, as we define feeling, or is it all programming designed to mimic feeling? How can anybody tell the difference?