Saturday, September 12, 2009

depressing thought for the day

Take a kid who is institutionalized. Institutions tend to vastly under-stimulate kids, for a number of reasons. Now look at that kid's brain.

Current research indicates that our young brains vastly overproduce the number of both neurons and synapsis, and then trim them back. The thing is that we overproduce according to a genetic program but trim back according to experience, so kids who are chronically (and severely) under-stimulated trim back way too many neurons and connections because according to their environment they don't need them. And as we all know, at least for the sexy higher-functioning regions of the brain, a dead neuron never gets replaced.

So life is horrible and we are all going to die.

And I really shouldn't be complaining about studying because I am incredibly privileged and I know it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

fun fact

It is a Friday night, and I am not out getting drunk with friends as God intended. Instead I am at home studying the mental status exam and the implications of evolutionary psychology for future research. My consolations are few at the moment, but let me share something cool that I learned.

Say you are walking around one day when a flying saucer lands in front of you and a lithe, buxom (if slightly green-skinned) alien emerges to gather samples of earthling sexual energy. How do you know if you are crazy or not?

The answer is simple: touch him/her. Hallucinations derived from mental disorders tend to only be audial or visual, so if you can touch said alien it is probably real. Well, you know.

Hallucinations that are olfactory or tactile tend to derive from more organic disorders or from substance abuse, so if you are on a mess o' mushrooms then all bets are off. Still, it seems like a cool way of being able to distinguish reality from non-reality.

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

shorter interview

Dr. Foo: You are obviously smart, but I don't know if I can trust your judgment because you were fired from your last job.

Me: I understand. Please check my references and you will see that this wasn't as bad as it sounds.

Inner me: I work for a bloody year and a half to build up the trust of my boss, my coworkers and the company itself, only to get fired for a damn technicality because some mid-level bureaucrat had a stick up her butt, and I am still paying for it. Worse, I have no way of explaining this that doesn't make me sound like an arrogant and/or bitter jerk.

Dr. Foo: Oh, I hear Baker has changed their policy so that now you are fired after three mistakes rather than two. (meaning I would still have the job).


End result: I probably have the job anyway, but I go in having to prove myself all over again. Also, I will be the only practicum student there who is in their first year rather than their second, which means I am already handicapped in terms of the number of hours I can work and the type of work I can do. For a relatively successful interview, I am so frustrated I could cry.

Monday, August 10, 2009

insights gained from 10 days of meditation

Forgive me, I am about to wax verbose. If so, it is only because I have been deprived of words for so very long that the ability to speak and write them again is really, really satisfying. So sit back, relax, mix up a non-intoxicating organically farmed beverage of your choice. You might just gain some insight into the nature of reality (and Buddhist monks).

1. Wanna know something interesting about not talking for many days at a time? When it started out, I actually thought I would like the whole "no communication" rule, because it meant I wouldn't have to bother trying to make small talk over the fruit and oatmeal breakfast. Instead, I actually experienced a Haley-esque kind of fracture where different parts of my personality starting interacting. No really, I'm not just saying this for comic effect. There was the cynic, the cheerleader, the numbers guy, the contemplator, the whiner, and the buddha, and they all had different things to say about the experience ("God this sucks, no, you must be a prodigy of effort! There are only eight more days to go anyway, just experience your own breathing. Ah, my back freaking hurts! Pain is impermanent, pain is impermanent...") So lesson number one: words are amazing, and living without them makes you a little crazy.

2. A word about the "numbers guy" voice in my head. He's the one that thinks like this:
At the end of day one, you have completed 1/10th of the course.
At the end of day two, you have completed 1/5th of the course.
Half-way through day three you have completed 1/4 of the course.
Mid morning of day four you have completed 1/3 of the course.
At the end of day five you have completed 1/2 of the course.
At the end of day six you have completed 3/5 of the course.
In the mid-afternoon of day seven you have completed 2/3 of the course.
Half-way through day eight you have completed 3/4 of the course.
At the end of day nine you have completed 9/10 of the course.
At the end of day ten you have completed ohmygodthatwasthelongesttendaysofmylife of the course.

So the moral of the story is don't listen to numbers guy. He's an asshole.

3. The meditation center is located sort of in the hills, nigh mountains east of Fresno. Now every hill essentially amounts to a giant pile of rocks and dirt, usually with a fine layer of vegetation on top. Well, the vegetation on this particular hill was not enough to make one forget that it was still basically a giant pile of rocks and dirt. Apparently there was some cool wildlife and vegetation around that Jon was able to appreciate, but for me, the experience was highly bug-laden. I recall making fun of him a few years back before his forestry trip, telling him that ants seek out nutrient-rich human anuses to feast on. Guess what crawled down the back of my pants the first night we got there? Hence lesson number three: karma is real, and it is a bitch.

4. To be fair, lesson number four is that Jon has a freakish propensity for attracting bees.

5. I have never so directly experienced the nature of my own ability to work. I found that for me, there is concentration and there is willpower, and the two don't necessarily correlate. When both were high it was a great productive period. When concentration was high but willpower was low, I was still able to meditation pretty well, although I was more easily distracted by physical discomfort. When they were both low everything sucked. But the most interesting part was when concentration was low but willpower was high: I would sit for an extended period of time, not really able to meditate but determined to see the session through. The feeling of personal satisfaction and of pure effort made was so intense that I actually got an endorphine rush a few times, but then I would have almost no willpower for a day or so afterwards. That said, I think I have a slight but noticeable increase in both concentration and willpower. So my fifth insight is this: concentration and willpower work like muscles: you can wear them out, but they get stronger over time.

6. You know the kind of guy who says, "trust me, we don't need to use a condom?" Wanna know the only thing in the universe that can lower my already rock-bottom level of trust and respect for that person? The answer is Buddhist monks. If we were meditating for an extended period of time, the monks conducting the course would give us a rest break. Specifically, they would say, "take a break for about five minutes and then return for further instruction." Five minutes my firmly toned ass. It was unlikely that we would return in ten minutes, sometimes even as long as fifteen. Even the monks didn't return on time. Now part of me appreciates that their mommas didn't raise no fools and they knew that people would stretch out the breaks and planned accordingly. But another part can't help but observe that even Buddhist monks will lie to you. Doesn't say much for no-condom guy, does it?

7. One day I am standing outside the dhamma hall, which has many big trees around it, when suddenly this guy grabs one of the branches and starts doing pull-ups. One of the bystanders, not to be outdone, grabbed another branch and did the same thing. When the first guy left, a third guy grabbed a branch and began swing on it back and forth. Meanwhile, the first guy started doing one-legged squats in front of the hall. My seventh insight: excessive meditation drives people crazy, and possibly causes them to regress into monkeys.

8. On day four we actually learned the vipassana technique we were there to learn. Unfortunately, it takes two hours to teach and they only started teaching us after we had already been meditating for two hours. Needless to say, I was pissed. And sore, and tired, and bitter. So part of the way through it became almost impossible for me to follow, although I did in a sort of minimal way. Basically it amounts to a body scan technique where you go through your body bit by bit and really concentrate on feeling some bit of sensation everywhere, no matter how small or obscure. Every moment, we were told, there is some sensation coming from every part of your body, you just need to develop your ability to feel it. Then the point was made that every sensation you feel is something changing, whether that is hot or cold or prickly or tingly or dull, it is some kind of change going on in your body. And this, finally, is the nature of impermanence. Everything is changing all the time. Don't take Buddha's word for it, experience it for yourself.

And you know what? That was a really awesome moment. I really did have a sense of being able to understand, if only briefly the nature of impermanence. Insight number 8: life is impermanence. Even if their way of demonstrating that was through slow arts of torture.

9. Gender segregation is stupid. It was so strict they wouldn't even allow men and women to walk on the same paths; the course was divided into male and female halves. Men and women sat on opposite sides of the meditation hall and entered from different doors. The male instructor only spoke directly to the male students, the female instructor to the female students (and let me tell you, what a couple of sexpots!) Trust me, between the boredom and the back pain I was in no mood to jump the bones of anyone else at the camp.

10. Know what the biggest thing I got out of the trip has been? A profound new appreciation for chairs. You, sitting there reading this! Find the nearest chair. It may be the one you are sitting on, or perhaps there is one in the room near you. Now take this opportunity, right now, to thank that chair. Let it know that it is a valued member of your household and/or community and that its many contributions do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. You may give the chair a hug if you feel so inclined. If you find this excessive, try sitting on the floor for ten hours a day. Oh sure, you can do it, you may even get used to it and feel fine with it, but anything that can support both your back and your feet with relative comfort for hours on end with such a simple, elegant design is truly a god among objects. Here's to you, chair!

11. I can live (happily!) on a minimal vegetarian diet. I was probably consuming about 1500 calories a day while I was there, the vast majority of that before noon. I was never hungry, or dissatisfied. I'm not going to stick to something so minimalist now that I am back, but I will look a lot harder at what I eat and why.

12. Aversion and craving really do appear to be the source of most of my suffering. That has given me a lot to chew on over the last several days.

13. Finally, one night I was walking back from the meditation/dhamma hall and I noticed one of the guest monks walking on the path ahead of me. He had taken off his shirt and was waving it wildly over his head. Overcome by my repressed lust at that point, I immediately tackled him to the ground and began making out with him passionately. The other guest monk (there were two), also unable to hold back any longer, joined from behind as he unleashed his sleeping tumescence. Men everywhere began either running to the women's side of the site or satisfying themselves or one another in wild displays of orgiastic lust. Where was I? Right, so this monk has taken off his shirt and is waving it in the air. And my first thought is, "why is the monk showing us his tits? This is not the Mardi Gras I was promised!" So the final insight is... actually, sorry, I have no idea what I learned from this experience. Maybe the universe is a mysterious, sexy place? Or possibly gender segregation was appropriate after all? We may never know.

Friday, July 17, 2009

because i hate you and want you to suffer with me

Let's see:

Belief that systemic racism only targets white men: check! (1:07, 8:18, 9:53)

(Related) Automatic dismissal of examples of potential prejudice against people of color: check! (7:55)

(And finally the unsurprising and rather logical conclusion of 1 and 2) Belief that the rights of white men need active protection and by implication that the rights of people of color do not because they are not discriminated against: check! (9:28)

Belief that white men are (roughly) the only positive contributors to American history: check! (2:06)

Assumption that a person of color must automatically be unqualified for a position despite an extraordinary list of accomplishments: check! (0:39, 3:28)

(Related) Belief that a person of color must only be under consideration due to affirmative action: check! (0:52, 4:00)

(Also related) Assumption that he himself must have performed better in school despite not having that information: check! (5:53)

Ignoring the fact that there are racial groupings in this country that do not fall into "black" or "white," despite having a conversation about a Latina(!): check! (2:25)

Belief that we should only choose the "finest minds" to serve higher office and that by implication this explains why white men have been predominant throughout American history: check! (3:02, 6:45)

Assumption that our country's long history of racism has little or no impact on our current state of affairs: check! (5:10)


Saturday, July 4, 2009

the white flight of facebook

I am still digesting this, but it was so interesting that I couldn't not post it immediately.

awkward conversation

guy: (makes random joke, follows it up with): Good thing you aren't a Muslim or you probably would have killed me.
me: ...Isn't that a little... insensitive?
guy: Oh, that's me! I just make sure to offend everyone because otherwise that would be racist!
me: (Actually it kind of still is)
guy: Except for Italians, because they would probably kill me.
me: (Maybe you just awkwardly say stupid things when you just don't know what else to say...)
guy: It's okay, though, because I'm Jewish.
me: (He isn't stopping! Must do something!)
me: Have a nice day sir!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

top three gay porns that carry a nerd/latin theme

Number Three: May the Foreskin Be With You

Number Two: Dungeons and Daddies

Number One: Super Barrio Bros. Strike Back!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Exploring a Thought on Racism

Simultaneously reading Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria and blogs that deal with racism is, well, trippy. There is a trend that I feel I am noticing more and more among a lot of the, um, less polite blogs on the subject.

People pick out news stories or other blogs in which someone, usually Obama, is painted in a way that jives with traditionally racist overtones. Or Clinton is painted in traditionally sexist overtones. And this is decried as proof that the authors are racist/sexist and usually that by extension everything else they say is invalid.

Political blog noise machine aside, here is my struggle with this: I do not doubt that we live in a society where racism is a structural feature of much of the system. I don't think it takes much argument or convincing to notice that there just aren't a lot of black romantic leads (let alone Asian or latino), or that people of color get stuck more easily in poverty cycles, or that there just aren't a representative number of people of color in positions of authority.

But I do kind of take issue when someone points out a particular story or blog (or movie or book) and says "here! This is an example of racism manifesting in society!" Because the things is, they might be right. It could very well be a manifestation of racism. But even in really compelling cases, it also might not be. The best example I can give is this. If this featured Obama, there would be a huge outcry, and reasonably so. There is a huge amount of racist literature comparing African Americans to monkeys, and it would be really hard to argue that such a comparison was not tapping into that dialogue.

But maybe it wouldn't be. Maybe it would honestly be someone comparing Obama's less photogenic moments and saying, "hey look, this kind of looks monkey-like. That's kind of funny!" And that's the thing: in individual instances we can never really get into another person's mind and say what motivated them. Even if there is an undercurrent of racism that sparks a lot of similar-sounding rhetoric, any individual instance of that might not be motivated by racism (or sexism, or whichever ism). It's essentially looking at a scatterpoint and noticing a trend without necessarily being able to account for any individual dot.

And this, I think, sparks what one of the major difficulties is with racism: it's hard to name. It can be hard to see. And in individual instances it can be hard or impossible to know if it is really happening. I don't think anyone is comfortable with that uncertainty, and some people respond by saying that racism doesn't exist at all and others by pointing out every instance of seeming-racism as absolute incarnations of racism in society. And I think the reality is both a lot less certain and a lot less comfortable for everyone.

Friday, June 19, 2009

on the sadness of lost things (or death by implosion)

Let me start off by saying that it is unnecessary to follow the links in this post, and perhaps an immense waste of time. It is more a chronicle of the train of thought that has led me here.

Since I am now reading blogs more frequently than I have in a few years, I have noticed the passage of time impacting some of the stuff I used to read. Nowhere is this more evident than with the Shakesville blog. This is a blog that I used to absolutely love. It taught me a lot about what feminism is, and what it means to be feminist, and why that is something worth standing up for.

I would not start reading it now. Not that there aren't still some excellent posts and some insightful commentary, but the tone has changed and it makes me really and quite viscerally sad. The comments section is an incredibly hostile environment, where it seems to me that people have become so used to trolling that any disagreement is read as trolling and the responses are unmerciful. Perhaps not always, but often enough that it makes me feel ill to see people shot down in the way that they are, or to hear commenters echo the points of the original post using the exact words of the original and trash anyone who doesn't use those words. Or, and this one hurts the most, to see people use terms like "safe space" and "trigger" as ways of minimizing commenters who aren't seen as socially progressive enough.

It turns out that I am not the only person who feels this way, and that just as I have started to read it again the blog is disintegrating under the weight of its own comments section and losing a fair amount of its readership. In fact, it is at the center of a huge internet controversy about what it means to be a "safe space" and an "online community." Perhaps the thing that struck me the most was the blog entry of a former contributor at Shakesville, a contributor whom I liked, essentially trashing what it had become. I hadn't even realized that she no longer contributed, and have to wonder how bad that must have tasted for the creator (Melissa McEwan) to have heard or read.

Here's where I acknowledge that probably nobody reading this actually knows or cares anything about Shakesville. However, I would liken it to the sadness of being disillusioned by a favorite teacher who you find out is racist, or an old TV show that takes a terrible story-arc, or a book series that goes sour (I'm looking at you Terry Goodkind). It's the sadness of a progressive who thinks of change as inevitable and wants that to be a positive thing, but sometimes it isn't. I want something back that I will never have, and its current incarnation only reminds me of that more painfully. A minor thing to grieve, definitely, but still grief.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

an observation

This American Life uses the Amelie soundtrack a lot.
Also this just in, I'm an aging hipster-nerd. Except mostly without the style or music. Awesome.

Monday, May 11, 2009

i could comment on this

but why bother?

something I don't know

I have noted on numerous occasions, mostly to myself, that sometimes technology seems to expand faster than society's ability to keep up with it, a la texting. When exactly is it appropriate to text versus to call someone? Very brief messages or question requiring a one-word response, obviously, but there are some grey areas (like when/where do you want to meet) that are really just as likely to wind up being a twenty-text conversation (no bueno, for those of us without unlimited texting).
More recently for me, it's Google chat. Is it OK to be surfing the internet while chatting with someone? To read a webcomic? How undivided is your attention supposed to be? Suddenly I have two chats going on, one about relationships and the other about Feist. I am sure this is much less virgin territory for veteran AIMers, but I was never much into that, and I feel like chatting on Google is different (and a little less formal) anyway.
Damn you, ambiguous and evolving social norms!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

and i'm feeling fine

It's the End the University as We Know It, wherein the chair of the religion department at Columbia makes a case for completely restructuring universities, and in particular graduate programs. His six major points synopsized:

1: remove individual departments in favor of an interdisciplinary web
2. create disciplinary focuses around current problems
3. increase collaboration between universities
4. let people do their dissertations in hypertext and web pages and... video games.
5. expand graduate student options (meaning teach them something practical)
6. abolish tenure, have regular reviews of professors

He definitely makes some interesting points. He starts by pointing out the stiltedness of a lot of graduate academic research. He reflects on how there are too many graduate students for too few faculty positions, and that they will be overworked and accrue massive debt and likely end up doing something else entirely. He also talks about the way that individual departments are isolated and inflexible, preventing a free flow of ideas.

Overall he seems to be saying that the university system as a whole is too rigid and needs room for new staff and completely new frameworks. And y'know, free flow of information and ideas, who is against that? It would be would be like voting against democracy. Interdisciplinary web: hot. Who knows, perhaps I too am merely an ossified relic of the system, but his arguments just don't add up and even make me a little cranky. Are people still really arguing about academics being too removed from reality? I mean, isn't it kind of the point to have a space in society where knowledge is pursued for its own sake, and is that not valuable, oh head of a religious studies department?

And naturally not everyone in higher academia will remain in higher academia. This is already allowing for a certain freedom of academic movement as our scholars of religion and politics and art move in to the fields of... oh I don't know.. religion, and politics, and art. Jesus.

Okay, sure, our system is not all love and rainbows and puppies. Let me frame this in terms of another "I theoretically sympathize but still think it's a bad idea" moment: let's get rid of marriage. Why bother with it? If people want to make a lasting commitment to one another before their communities and God, why does that need to affect how they file their taxes? Why put families and communities through the trauma of divorce proceedings instead of couples who are no longer compatible simply parting ways? And why should we have such a complicated legal framework of rights and privileges, most of them relating to property, when people could simply expand the use of the will system (living or otherwise) to make it clear who has rights over their person and property?

Well, lot's of reasons, actually, and that's kind of my point. People like a certain amount of structural rigidity, probably because it makes you feel secure. People also like to be plugged into a social institution that has been around for pretty much ever. Same thing in academia, really. After all the crap you have to go through (and would still have to go through) as a grad student, at some point I think you've earned your tenure. Besides, imagine how much more ruthlessly professors would squeeze their grad students if they had to constantly worry about job performance reviews? They already have to worry about keeping their names published to avoid sliding into academic irrelevance. And of course grad students would pass much of this on to their lowly undergrads, who would be crushed underfoot like grapes at harvest, their cries of agony echoing unto the heavens.

Besides, organizing departments around current world problems? Really? Besides the fact that you would risk having departments of "Getting Bush Impeached" and "Behaviorism Rules Freud Drools," the nature of the subject matter is likely to change a lot faster than the bureaucracy of the department. And the cost of maintaining the department would skyrocket. And it would be impossible to organize effectively. And people's foundational education would become less globalized as it became tailored to one individual world problem (ie. learning biology only as it relates to water conservation). And it would take a lot more time and energy to maintain institutional memory if you keep changing your academic framework. And if your department is under review every so often, it might get abolished or massively restructured halfway through your degree. And what the hell would a degree even mean anymore?

There have to be better methods of reforming academia than this.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

three epiphanies while cutting into an orange

#1: Oh Jesus it's a grapefruit!
#2: Oh thank God it's a blood orange
#3: Huh, my blasphemies seem to ascend by rank

women and power tools

This is an interesting study.

Researchers used brain scans to show that when straight men looked at pictures of women in bikinis, areas of the brain that normally light up in anticipation of using tools, like spanners and screwdrivers, were activated.

Scans of some of the men found that a part of the brain associated with empathy for other people's emotions and wishes shut down after looking at the pictures.


The finding confirms a long-suspected effect of sexy images on the way women are perceived, and one which persists in workplaces and the wider world today, Fiske said.

I'm not actually sure that it does, although I am willing to rethink my ideas. I find this study challenging for a number of reasons.

One, I would be curious to know under what other circumstances that part of the brain lights up. For instance,

The brain scans showed that when men saw the images of the women's bodies, activity increased in part of the brain called the premotor cortex, which is involved in urges to take action. The same area lights up before using power tools to do DIY. "It's as if they immediately thought to act on theses bodies," Fiske said.

If this is simply a center of the brain that urges us to take action, then I would rather expect it to activate if a person was using power tools or sexually aroused. They are, after all, both actions. The quote also stands out to me; "It's as if they immediately thought to act on theses bodies." The whole acting on the body screams of feminist theory. Now don't get me wrong, feminist theory and I are homies, but inasmuch as it is one framework for understanding the world, it has its limits, and I don't feel that the conclusion here (that women are objectified) is compelled by the evidence (that one region of the brain is activated under two different circumstances).

I am further bothered by the inclusion in this particular article, and I suspect in the discussion section of the original study, that scans of some men show regions of the brain associated with empathy shutting down after looking at these pictures. It is entirely possible that this is a valid research point drawn by the study; I don't know, since I couldn't find it within five minutes of Google searching, got bored and proceeded to look at porn. What percentage of men is some men? Were other random parts of the brain flicking on or off during these scans?

I'm sure part of what is bothering me is the synopsizing of this research for whatever the newspaper equivalent of a soundbite is. Here's my bent, though: I'm humanist enough to believe that people can generally separate out their fantasy lives from reality, and that for most people, even habitual users of porn (which I suspect is most people) this does not seriously impact their view of their fellow humans. Can fantasies be objectiying? Absolutely. Is porn frequently objectifying? I sure think so. But does this mean that images of women's bodies alone, within this culture, lead to overall objectification? That is where this article is pointing to, and I find myself dubious. To me it speaks of a lack of faith in the human ability to separate out their feelings, and generally a lack of faith in human complexity. But I dunno, audience, you tell me.

Now how do you feel about women?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

just a thought

Make your point, or shut your mouth.
Anything else is chickenshit.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

further conversations with my grandmother

gm: So what are you doing right now?
me: Getting ready for a date
gm: Really? With that same guy?
me: Yup. I had a really great time last time. I'm trying to figure out which shoes to wear.
gm: You are putting a lot of thought into it. Hoping to get lucky?
me: Oh, I've tidied up the apartment and everything.
gm: You are hoping for big things.
me: Oh, six inches at least.
gm: ...
me: I apologize for nothing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I have just re-read this entire blog

and you know what I realized?

My sense of humor has really not changed in the last two and a half years.

It is funny, because I picture myself as such a different, hopefully more mature person than I was back then, thanks largely to my job. I am more comfortable around people, more comfortable in my own skin, and generally a lot more confident. Yet it scares me to think that many of my views have not changed much since then. I suppose I fear becoming stuck in my ways and not growing as a person.

Back then I was grateful to be getting out of school and working. Now I am grateful to be going back to school (which was the progression I was expecting all along). Back then I was cementing a lot of my views on race and gender, and I think a lot of what has happened the last two years has been my heart and gut catching up with my head somewhat.

And while I want to read my own progress as positive, I find myself feeling strangely conflicted about it, wondering if maybe I have not grown enough or if I am missing something. Maybe I fear that I have not taken enough risks, enough chances, that I have held back. And perhaps I am too hard on myself.

Perhaps most importantly, maybe I should not get all nostalgic an hour before I have a date with someone. I bet my newfound friend Pink will snap me out of this!

the rules of dating

with examples!

Rule 1: Respect yourself.
Hey, you can trust me, I'm clean!
Hey, you can kiss my ass!
Do we have to do that with a condom too?
Wow, goodbye.

Rule 2: Respect the other person.
You weigh 350 lbs.
Yeah, so? I said that in my online profile.
Your online profile said "beefy"
Exactly! So?
Ugh, I'm not attracted to you, but I also kind of feel like an asshole :(

Rule 3: Have fun (or walk away)
Hey man, fart in my face!
I really like it. Just fart in my face!
Uh, no thanks. Sorry... eeehh...

Rule 4: Never get so drunk or high as to leave yourself vulnerable
What's your name again? Wait, wasn't that the state line?!

Rule 5: Always have an exit strategy
Hey, wanna go to the Barracks? I'll drive.
Four hours later: Oh sweet mother of mercy I want to go home!
Hey just a little longer. Wooooooo!

Rule 6: Trust what people do, not what they say
I don't drink that much, really.
Really? Because you just pulled off six belly shots like it was nothing.
So? It was your belly!
Well, yes, but that isn't the point...

Rule 7: Be consistent about what you want and what you are willing to do.
Drink 1: We should just be friends
Drink 2: We should really just be friends
Drink 4: Friends make out with each other
Drink 6: Oral sex isn't really sex
Drink 9: Threeways? I love threeways! Wooooooo!

I suspect this list will continue to grow in the coming weeks and months. Open to suggestions!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I am sitting on my bed, downloading the latest Pink album. An hour later it will happen.

It is two weeks ago. I driving with my friend Jesse in Virginia. He is describing Pink's most recent album. He says that he initially though Pink would be a one-hit wonder.

In ten minutes the album will be downloaded and "So What" will start to play.

It is 2000. I find myself wondering who the hell would listen to someone named Pink.

In thirteen and a half minutes "Sober" replaces "So What." It is the most popular song on the album to date.

It is 2001 and "Get This Party Started" is a hit. I can't stand the damn song, nor the artist.

The album continues to download. I am wondering why the hell I am doing this.

In twenty minutes "Bad Influence" will be playing. It will be my favorite song on this album.

My friend Jesse is still talking while he drives. It is dark out. I am wondering if he sees something in pop music that I am missing.

In 45 minutes I will be listening through most of the songs a second time. The event is almost upon me.

It is 10 minutes ago. On a lark, I decide to download the most recent Pink album, based largely on Jesse's recommendation.

In 55 minutes I will be eating a carrot and humming "Bad Influence." I then realize that I want to listen to it again. I become horrified at this realization and begin experiencing Dr. Manhattan-like flashbacks.

It is still 2001 and a few of my friends are talking. I hear one of them remark, "I really don't feel like listening to someone who's going to have an identity crisis every time she decides to dye her hair a new color."

It is an hour from now. My sense of myself and the universe has lost all cohesion. My mind shatters, my will breaks, my brain feels as if it will implode. At this moment, I will have to admit that I like Pink.

In an hour and ten minutes, I will begin to blog. It will be the first time in several months that I have done so.

It is five days from now, a Sunday. I am going to watch a movie with friends. They tease me mercilessly for all of this.

Friday, January 30, 2009

thoughts on a month of not drinking

Primarily it comes down to this: holy crap, is this part of my social life. Maybe January just happens to be a social-gatherings-requiring-alcohol-heavy month, but there must have been around seven or eight times where me drinking would have been more appropriate to the situation than me not drinking. That's around one in four nights.

I'm thinking my new rule is going to be only to drink socially, never alone. Which I didn't do a whole lot of anyway, but it has been nice at times to come home, read a book and have a glass or two of wine. Or a fake Margarita where only the alcohol was real.

I also noticed that during my interview to volunteer with the AIDS Health Project they asked us about our using habits. My response went something like, "Well, that's funny, because I am actually taking a month off of alcohol or any other kind of drug. Not that I was using that much before, but it is nice to take a month off to make sure your habits are healthy. I would say that I drink mostly on the weekends, with friends or when I am going out. I mean, I certainly never drank at work..." I sound like a total alcoholic...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

a coworker

coworker: (to me) hey, you been working out?

me: (not sure whether to feel flattered or just awkward) um... yes?

coworker: see me checking you out?

me: stop that! stop that immediately!

awkward wins :(

Friday, January 23, 2009

i just saw my therapist

walking down the street. I'm 85% sure he was drunk. Stumbling, and the like. I think god has decreed it official awkward run-ins day. And if He/She/Sie hasn't, I do. My therapist didn't see me, and obviously he is a human with a personal life (like I someday hope to be) but it's still weird.

scrubbing my corneas

I was walking down 7th St. yesterday when I saw someone wearing a hoodie walking in front of me and another guy standing on the edge of the corner. The guy standing on the edge of the corner gives the person ahead of me one of the most intensely lustful up-and-down looks I have probably ever seen. This kind of thing doesn't really bother me one way or the other, but the guy tripped my gaydar a little and I got curious so I picked up my pace to get a look at the other person's face. My thought process at that point went something like: "Small-framed guy? Baby-faced street-girl? Or... oh... you're a... 12-year-old boy... eeeewwwwwwwwwwwww...."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

thoughts on valkyrie profile lenneth

This is a more enjoyable game than I thought it would be, as I am playing it an 10:20 on a work night.

I am realizing that I feel like most magic systems in the games I have played cast magic as a big-gun kind of weapon, and as such they load a lot of limits onto it in order to balance it out. MP, charge times and limited spells per battle, off the top of my head. Usually I find the result is that magic is overburdened to the point of being useless. Final Fantasy 8, Vagrant Story and Xenogears come to mind, although I think the classic example of this is FF Tactics.*

One thing I am liking about Valkyrie Profile is that it isn't nearly as weighed down. There is a kind of rebound charge time after casting that varies depending on the spell, but over-all it balances nicely with the strengths and weaknesses of normal physical attacks. It's powerful too; the basic heal spell heals 80% of every character's HP but has a long rebound time, so your caster is out of commission for the next 3-4 turns. This can mean the end of the battle anyway. The result is a challenge that actually makes me think over my options rather than "more ninjas!"

On a side-note, the premise of the game is that you are a Valkyrie in Norse Mythology who collects noble souls, trains them, and then sends them to the Ragnarok in Valhalla. A pretty cool premise, I think. One of the things that you have to do is improve character traits to make them more heroic. Some bad character traits that you have to eliminate are "romantic" and "non-drinker." I suppose if you are being sent to a version of heaven in which you hack each other to peaces all day and drink mead and have sex all night, "romantic" and "non-drinker" would be bad things. I appreciate the wry humor of that.

*On why I hate magic in Tactics: Tactics has all of these things, plus you risk hitting your own troops, your ability to cast spells proficiently also makes you more vulnerable to them, and caster classes usually have crappy stats and crappy stat growth. Even magic as an ability does not go up when you level as a caster- yeah, I checked the stat growth charts. There just aren't a whole lot of spells worth all of the limitations. The thing that gets me is that this game is so remarkably balanced in so many ways, but not magic. No wonder I had so many damn ninjas.

do I have a dirty mind, or does the universe?

I was watching TV at the laundromat, and there was a shot of "the world's longest waterslide," the "Black Anaconda," which had three or four African-American gentlemen sitting in it.

My question: how much of this is me seeing this, rolling my eyes and being willing to read something into it? How much is it the creators of the ride who decided to give the world's longest waterslide a provocative name? And perhaps most of all, how much of this is the producers of this stupid news segment who saw the Black Anaconda and decided to wait for the first group of dark-skinned men before saying, "there, Joe. There's our shot."

On a note vaguely related in my own head, I was on the bus yesterday innocently day-dreaming of how changey everything was when I see a poster ad that read "yes you can" with the middle "o" being a Pepsi symbol. Righteous indignation followed, although in retrospect I'm not sure I have a good reason for feeling that way. Is there any reason why a company can't coop a political message? Sure, it's dishonest, but is it any more so than when they show biscuits making a dough-man fake an orgasm or cereal that make your kids do better in school? I don't know that it is.

Mmmm... biscuits...

Friday, January 2, 2009

master cleanse

Alright, day one of the master cleanse.

If you aren't familiar, I'll spare you the google search. You drink saltwater in the morning, a homemade lemonade concoction through the day, and a laxative tea at night.

And since I know you are screaming at your computer screen "why!?!?!" let's get the disclaimers out of the way. I know that the master cleanse is a goofy idea. For most people it's a shock weight-loss diet that isn't even particularly effective. The guy who created it was pretty much a nut-job. It's also a little, well, unpleasant as fasts go. It does have a few selling points, though: it cleans out your (ahem) piping, it gets people to think more closely about what they are eating, and I have a few work friends to do it with. There also isn't much to eat around the house, besides the roughly 20 slabs of red meat I got from my grandmother for Christmas. No, really. More than anything, though, not eating for a few days (10 is the goal...we'll see) can't be any worse for me than most of the crap I eat daily anyway. Really, I've been trying to be more food conscious anyway recently, and this is another way of exploring that for myself.

So...not that bad so far, other than that I want food. Not hungry, just really wanting to eat a biscuit. Mmmmm, biscuit.

I don't actually think I have the willpower for this. We'll see.