jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
Just added my import to the Dreamwidth queue. Should have done this years ago, I know, but... well. Call me sentimental, because I am.

I found LJ through Irresistible Poison, the H/D fic of my thirteen-year-old heart. I remember what drew me to make my own account: it was the way people used the comments. Threaded conversations between people who knew each other, often only tangentially related to the original post. Constant parties, with the OP as hostess, commenters as guests, icons as accessories. I was so eager to be part of it and so awkward when I tried. But I found people, and I built my space, and I watched that space grow and evolve over the past 14 years or so, and even though I hardly use it anymore, it still matters to me. It's the emotional archive of my entire adolescence, and even though I'm not actually losing the information (if the import goes through okay) it still feels like a big deal. Imagine photocopying all your childhood diaries and then setting them on fire.

But we don't really have much of a choice anymore (in case you hadn't heard), so. See you all on Dreamwidth.

Resolutions

Jan. 1st, 2017 10:27 am
jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
I didn't post these last year, but I wrote them down:

- pay student loans down to 40k
I did not do this, because I spent a good chunk of the year unemployed and job-searching. So my loans are at just under 48k. But it was worth it, because...

- get a job that is relevant in some way to my career goals
DONE. I started this research assistant gig in September and it is pretty much perfect. I love the work, I love the team, I love the location, I love basically everything about it.

- do the splits
Not all the way, but I got close.

- submit journal article for publication
:/

- score a goal
:D!

- finish novel
Barely worked on it at all, mainly because my wrists were so fucked for most of the year that job-searching was about the limit of my pain tolerance.

- rehab wrists
Done! A couple months ago Macey clued me into this thing called the Graston Technique that would have been crazy expensive to actually get done professionally, but I watched some YouTube videos and did it myself and lo and behold, I was cured. Thank fucking god. I was honestly starting to think I would be in pain for the rest of my life. I'm having some issues with palm pain right now, but it's not nearly as bad or as constant.


I'm not sure I want to do resolutions this year, because most of the things that come to mind are habits more than goals, and I don't do well with resolving to establish habits. It's better to set myself up to fall into them naturally. I dunno, maybe I'll write down some things in a text doc and keep them private until the end of the year like I did this year.
jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
Remember when I said that the story of me and Ava was narratively perfect in a pretentious literary-fiction sort of way?

I just found these socks she gave me. I think we were fifteen, or I was fourteen and she was fifteen, and she was living in Thailand for a year through an exchange program. I can't believe it's been more than a decade. She found these socks at a place selling recycled American tourist crap, along with pirated DVDs and such, and she got them for me because I was just coming out of my Lord of the Rings RPF phase and she thought it was funny. It was funny--I wore them so much the cheap fabric gave up the ghost a year or two later, and then I just kept them for sentimental reasons. After she died, everything she'd given me got sad, so I tucked them in the back of my sock drawer and forgot about them.

My friend is having a clothing exchange today, so I was going through my dresser, and I found them again. They're ankle socks, pink, printed with the message I ♥ ORLANDO.

I'm telling you, I'm living in some stuck-up first-year MFA student's early draft of the great American novel, and I can feel the poor prof's forehead thunking against the manuscript.
jedusor: (food: dessert)
This post is a work in progress. Mostly for my own reference, but might well be relevant to the interests of others.


Favorites

TaDah Lemony Roasted Garlic Hummus Falafel Wrap
I love these fucking things. They're like two bucks apiece at Central Market, they've got a ton of protein, and they're delicious.

Amy's Bean & Rice Burrito
The filling has a kind of cheesy texture that really works. I eat it with Tofutti sour cream.

Amy's Black Bean Vegetable Enchilada
The sauce on this is frickin' amazing. I put a dollop of Tofutti sour cream on this, too.

Gardein Crispy Chick'n Patties
This is the best meatless burger I've had.

Gardein Chick'n Sliders
Basically the same as the patties, but smaller and complete with buns for the laziest possible meal.

Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n
Little lumps of crack, I swear to god.

Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders
Lots of protein, nice texture.

Sukhi's Samosas & Chutney
These are pricey (7-8 bucks a box) but they're the best non-restaurant-fresh samosas I've ever had.

Shanghai Kitchen Vegetable Spring Rolls With Shiitake Mushrooms
I can't find a link for these. I get them at Central Market; they're super tasty and not as unhealthy as most spring rolls. The sauce they come with is awful, but I like them so much I don't think they need any sauce.


Decent enough

Amy's Chinese Noodles & Veggies in Cashew Cream Sauce
Broccoli gets weird when you freeze it, but other than that this was good. Felt like a really small portion, but maybe I was just hungry.

Amy's Tofu Scramble
Frozen tomato slices are gross, but the hash browns and tofu scramble are both much better than I would expect from a quick-reheat meal.

Amy's Aloo Mattar Wrap
Pretty much what I expected.

Amy's Mattar Tofu
Kinda watery but okay.

Amy's Rice Mac & Cheeze
I wish they did a non-dairy version without the gluten-free noodles, but this actually isn't too bad. Very gluey texture, similar to regular boxed mac-and-cheese.

Daiya Margherita Pizza
I'm not that big on Daiya. Wish the tomato sauce had overpowered the cheese a little more.

Gardein Fishless Filets
These actually have a subtle kind of fishy taste to them. Not sure how they do that. The texture is a little off, though.

Gardein Sweet & Sour Porkless Bites
Not bad. I don't really love the sauce.

Evol Veggie Fajita Burrito
I was surprised at how well the guacamole held up to being frozen and thawed. I don't like peppers and they're pretty discernible in the filling, so I haven't gotten this one again, but it wasn't bad at all.

Sweet Earth Foods Kyoto Burrito
Adzuki beans, edamame, bok choy, spinach, ginger, and mushrooms in a wrap. A little weird, but good, and a solid little chunk of protein.

Tandoor Chef Channa Masala
Stupid high in sodium, so I don't get it often, but it's good.


0/10, would not ingest again

Amy's Thai Red Curry
Yech.

Saffron Road Thai Basil Chili Tofu
I dunno if Thai just doesn't freeze well or what, but both this and the Amy's are inedible.

Simply Balanced Mushroom Miso Meatless Turkey
Doesn't someone put the food in their mouth before they try to sell it? Couldn't anyone at any point in the production of this item have said "yo, anyone notice that this shit is FUCKING AWFUL?" Jesus.
jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
This post is for Lisa, who said: While I often come across people saying that they outline, and there's definitely much discussion of the plotter/pantser dichotomy, I feel like I haven't encountered a lot about what's actually involved in outlining

I wrote a post a few years ago about the details of my writing process. My process has changed a lot since then, for two main reasons: I've written three hundred thousand words of fanfic in the interim, and learned a ton from that; and I've read a dozen or so books about writing. Those books are often frustrating to me because they overwhelmingly consist of shit I already know and shit I disagree with, and most of them are irritatingly self-satisfied about the timeless wisdom they believe themselves to be imparting... but then here and there, usually somewhere between two and ten times in one book, I'll come across something useful. It's not an efficient use of time, but oh-so-gradually it's helped a lot. (Story by Robert McKee is my favorite so far. It's about screenwriting, but most of it applies to novels too. He's kind of a dick--especially the part where he's all "race and gender have nothing to do with success! if your script is good it'll get attention!"--but there's a lot of good advice in there.)

I don't need to do much outlining for short, simple stories, which is a lot of the fic I've written. With that kind of thing, the process I previously described works fine--jot down some notes in a separate file and periodically refer back to it. But when I get into anything plotty without serious outlining, I find myself losing track of threads and messing up the pacing of my subplots just because there's so much to keep in mind.

So here's my current process:

1. Generate premise. Spend a few days rolling around in how awesome it is. Manically begin writing the first scene from the vague shape of a story in my head. Immediately stumble across a major plot hole and realize that this is going to be way harder to execute than I thought.

2. Braindump ideas--plot twists, characters, backstory, worldbuilding. Get distracted by a minor character detail that will never get more than a passing mention in the final product. Write fanfic of my own canon before there's any actual canon. Laugh at myself for being ridiculous, but nonetheless gain a better grip of the characters through the exercise.

3. Organize all the scattered notes into the chronology of the story, with chapter breaks. Freak out that the story will be too short and rushed. Add in unnecessary subplots to make it longer. Sleep on it, come back to it, shake head at myself, and remove said unnecessary subplots. Add actual plot-relevant information to chapters that seem too sparse, instead. (This step probably isn't necessary for most people; I gather excessive longwindedness is a much more common problem among writers than excessive concision.)

4. Try to articulate the theme. Undergo a crisis about whether the story even has a theme. Go for a walk. Come up with four themes. Undergo a crisis about whether they can all be incorporated at once. Undergo a crisis about whether I can even call myself a writer. Go the fuck to sleep. Come back to the outline with a fresh head and realize that the theme is obvious. Undergo a crisis about whether it is in fact too obvious.

5. Break out the corkboard.



Everything here is incredibly subjective and will not apply to every other writer, but I suspect the corkboard is a particularly individual thing. I doubt any two writers organize their index cards in quite the same way. Here's how I do it.

First I tack on an index card for the opening scene at the top left, and four cards along the right side: the final scene of Act I, the midpoint scene of Act II (commitment to the goal), the final scene of Act II (the low point), and the last scene. The top and bottom rows get filled in first; Act II is a pain in the ass but eventually, reluctantly, plods into place. The smaller cards on the far right of each row are wordcount targets; I'm not super worried about those yet.

I write the general gist of each scene directly onto the index card, and use those little colored Post-It page markers to track particular threads: one color for the main plot, one for character development, one for the progression of an important relationship, etc. TMM is action-focused, so on this board I have a color for action scenes. This is to give me a visual idea of pacing, so I can be sure I'm not abandoning any particular aspect of the story for too long. I don't really refer back to these a whole lot--I keep the detailed notes in a document. But if I do any major restructuring, I check back on the pacing.

Then I go over it all with little colored dots that represent characters. Again, I don't refer back to this much; it's just to make sure all the major characters show up in the right number of scenes. This helps me figure out which characters need more presence and which need to be cut. The card at the top right is a key to the character dots.

And then I reorganize it. Stare at it. Reorganize it again. Go back to my outline document, bring it up to date with the corkboard, and in the process reorganize it again. Add scenes. Remove scenes. Lie on the floor, arguing with myself about that one scene I can't remove, it won't work without it, but it's not working with it either, uuuuuugh, and eventually sit up and remove the damn scene. Merge scenes. Write new index cards to replace the ones that are all scribbled on. Eventually decide it's good enough to move on.

6. Think about the characters. Put them in random hypothetical situations and decide how they would react. Figure out which qualities of my main character each one brings out. Make sure each character challenges readers' expectations in some way. This overlaps with a lot of other steps of the process--it's a good way to keep connected to the story when I need to take a break from outlining. I once spent half an hour straight thinking about what my characters would each bring to a potluck while I was driving on the highway, and jumped out of my skin when the "get gas now, moron" alarm dinged.

7. Not!fic the thing. This is a very important step in my writing process that I never see non-fannish writers talking about, and even in fandom it seems to be going out of style. "Not!ficcing" means writing a sort of treatment of a story in a very informal conversational style, e.g. "and then she's like"... "so obvs he can't let THAT shit stand"... "they have a awk conversation about feelings and everyone is v I-love-you-bro-cough-cough about the whole business"... etc. This lets me sort through the details of scene progressions and such without focusing on getting the wording right, and it puts all my outlining in the right order within scenes.

8. Articulate goals, conflict, and emotions for each scene. (Most people probably don't need to specify emotions, but feelings aren't my strong point, so I prefer planning them out.) Check that there is either a "therefore" or a "but" relationship between each scene and the next. Plan the theme statement in Act I, and make sure it resonates throughout. Make sure the first act sets up all the characters to be the sorts of people who would react the ways they do in the next two acts. Make sure the first half of Act II is about stakes of obstacle (external conflict with the goal) and the second half is about stakes of issue (internal conflict: do I really want the thing? am I willing to give up another thing to have the thing? is the thing actually worth it? is this thing the thing I thought it was?). Make sure there are no coincidences past the midpoint of Act II, and after that point the narrative is driven primarily by the main character's actions. Make sure information is not introduced, only combined, in Act III. Make sure aspects of the main character's character development in Act II are applied during the climax. These are all guidelines, not rules, but they're the ones that usually make sense to me.

9. Get feedback on the not!fic. I'm almost at this point with TMM, and it's a little terrifying. But I want to hear opinions I trust about overarching structure and development before I waste time writing it out for real. If I'm going to do any more reorganizing, I want it to happen now.

10. Write the thing. Refer back to the not!fic constantly. Take occasional breaks to daydream character development and write scenes that won't be in the final product. Solicit cheerleading from friends. Start worrying about those wordcount targets.

11. Do a few more passes: a tension/conflict pass (at every point, either shit is going down or the reader is assured that shit is going to go down), a description/feelings pass (I tend to skimp on emotion and setting, so I need to double-check those and fill in what's missing), and a voice pass (make sure every single observation in the narrative is filtered through my main character's perspective).

12. Another round of feedback.

I'd love to see similar breakdowns of other people's processes, maybe yoink ideas, if anyone wants to link me!
jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
It's funny how life goals morph without really changing at all, the older I get. I've always had a good handle on the things that are important to me, but the words I use to define those things keep changing over time. I know (and have known on a very deep level since I was 13) that my life's work is shaping large-scale cultural changes of opinion on social issues, but I used to think that producing research was the only way I could do that effectively, and it's not. It might not even be the most effective of the many possible ways. I still want to pursue science as a career, but it's no longer tied to my self-worth. I don't need a Ph.D. to be the person I want to be, and I don't need to treat my life as on hold until I get into grad school. I did that for a while, and it sucked. I don't anymore, and I'm happy.

So here's what I'm doing:

I'm writing a YA novel. It grabbed my brain for the first half of this year, then I took a month away from it, and now it's back to keeping me up late at night and early in the morning thinking. I love it when my muse sinks its teeth into a project like this. And it's been really great to play with character building and worldbuilding, two things I haven't gotten as much practice with as most other aspects of writing because most of my creative writing has been fanfic.

I'm preparing a journal article for submission. It's been a long time in the works, but our UW contingent finally finished the testing and now there's pretty much nothing to do but sit down with the doc and make this thing publishable.

I'm playing hockey. I love skating more than pretty much anything. It's good for me on every level--it clears my mind, it helps me make friends, and it's great for my body. I talk about my ass a lot these days, which I'm sure gets old to the people around me, but you try experiencing a significant alteration to the basic structure of one of your body parts and not harping on it. Basically, the way I used to walk relied mostly on my thigh muscles, so actually exercising my glutes has made a massive difference in my posture, my stride, and my silhouette. And I'm more flexible because of hockey, and I'm sure my cardio health is better, and I feel more solid in myself. It's fantastic.

I'm running a sizable mailing list designed to enable in-person fannish meetups in Seattle. Queer movie night has been a particularly successful result of that; I also organized a group trip to a coastal resort last month, which was fabulous. My closest friends these days are mostly through that group, and it's been a great part of my life.

I'm inventing cocktails, mostly themed ones for movie nights. The Jupiter Ascending party was a spectacular success--I still need to get the recipe macros up on Tumblr. I also did themed drinks for Frozen, and I'm doing more for Mad Max: Fury Road next month, as well as a prohibition-themed party at some point. I'm really loving mixology, and having a good time gradually building up my stash of liquor to work with.

I'm experimenting with my appearance. I've been doing nail art for a couple years now, and more recently started messing around with makeup. Shit's harder than it looks. But it's fun to sparkle, and it's fun to get to know the nooks and crannies of my own face, and figure out what works on me and what doesn't.

I'm reading more books. I don't know when I stopped reading physical books in my spare time--sometime in my teens, I think--but I picked it back up this year and it's been great. There's a certain level of focus that doesn't tend to be possible on a computer, with distractions all over the place. I value my computer time and I don't think reading books is better than reading things on the internet, but it's nice to have both.

I'm taking better care of myself. I figured out that the headaches I've been having for over a decade are from dehydration after all--drinking the recommended amount of water didn't work to fix it because the amount of water I need is approximately twice that. So as long as I drink ridiculous quantities of water, I don't get headaches. (I figured this out just before the beach trip, which was nice timing.) I never thought I would be a person with a skincare routine beyond soap and water, but I have a fairly complicated one now, and my face is way less dry and flaky and uncomfortable. I'm focusing on protein more, because of the hockey, and I think it's been good for my energy levels. I'm trying to take care of my wrists, but that hasn't been going so well. At some point I'll pick a two-week period to just go entirely off the grid to let them heal, but right now it's not practical. In the meantime, I'm trying to take the strain off them by watching a lot of Netflix--I've worked my way through almost all of The West Wing in the last month.

There's a corkboard covered with notes for the novel leaning against the TV, and in my kitchen I have a bag full of tomatoes and oregano from a friend's garden, and on the back of the couch is a practice jersey draped on top of a volume of Frank Miller's Daredevil run, and I am surrounded by people who love me. That's about it for the moment.

in peace

Mar. 12th, 2015 02:26 pm
jedusor: (neuron art)
At some point in my teens, several celebrities I'd only vaguely heard of died in quick succession. A lot of the people I knew were upset about one or another of them, and it occurred to me that I'd never been truly distressed by the death of a famous person. Bummed out, sure, but never sad like I would be for someone I'd known personally. I wondered if I didn't connect to celebrities like other people did, or if I just hadn't been around long enough for the ones I cared about to die. I thought: was there anyone famous whose death would really get to me?

Terry Pratchett, I decided. If he died, I'd be upset.

A lot of people are digging up Discworld quotes about death, and that is good and right and I appreciate them, but I'm... not able to sum it up in a quote right now. I'm not really able to sum it up in anything. Teen me, you called this one.
jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
Becoming A Sports Person has really opened my eyes to what a dick I was when I was A Non-Sports Person. Not everyone falls into these two categories--there are plenty of people who just don't care about sports, and don't feel the need to make that part of their identity. But there's a large number of people, myself formerly included, who don't like sports and have to make sure you know that. They have a lot of opinions about how useless and ridiculous and harmful sports are, and they say repeatedly that they don't care, but it's hard to keep believing that when they won't let you change the subject.

I've tried to unpack what exactly it was that made me so hostile to sports before I tripped and fell into hockey; I think it was that the whole idea was so very unappealing to me that I didn't understand how it could appeal to anyone. Sports get so much attention and money and energy from so many people, and it irritated me that all those resources were being wasted when those people could have been doing something productive, or at least something actually fun. On some level, it just didn't compute that other people honestly got the same enjoyment out of sports that I got out of the things I loved. Especially because they all complained so much when their teams lost--and boy, if my seventeen-year-old self could meet the me of today, she'd get a nasty surprise there. I think there just isn't another realm of interest that fits this structure of constant emotional highs and lows, and so I had no context for understanding why anyone would want to subject themselves to that. It just seemed like a colossal waste of time. There's really no way to convey the joys of sports to someone who has internalized that.

For my last birthday, I received this from my mom and this (reverse) from my friend Carrie. Neither of those people get sports, but they don't need to get it to understand that hockey matters to me. They put their own resources into it purely for my sake, and that really means a lot to me. That's the kind of person I aim to be, when it comes to things I don't get. It's a hell of a lot easier for me to be supportive of other sports fans now that I am one, though a few (particularly football) still don't appeal to me. But there are other things I don't get, like shoot-'em-up video games, or following celebrity news, or fashion. There are things to criticize about those pastimes, like there are things to criticize about sports, and it's okay to have those conversations. But I am trying not to be a person who talks endless shit about things other people love.
jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
(My little brother posted this the other day, and it turns out I have rather a lot to say about it, mostly working through things about my past self I see reflected in it. Apologies to Clay if I'm projecting too much; I'll let him figure out how much of this applies to him.)

I used to spend a lot of time feeling curious about what other people were thinking, and frustrated that they wouldn't open up and tell me. Why wouldn't they just say the things in their heads? Just throw things out there, don't worry about how people will judge you! It doesn't matter what they think!

Except there are reasons that people judge each other, and there are reasons not to share everything that's on your mind with whoever wants to know. When I used to toss out whatever I was thinking without much filter, the people around me were judging me. Not just on a negative-to-positive scale, but in different ways: as a confidante, as a participant in a community, as a potential babysitter, as entertainment value, as a drain for their social energy. I may have scored more highly on the entertainment-value scale among my peers when I was fifteen than I do now, but I'm certain that I'm now seen as safer to be around by people for whom socializing requires a lot of energy. I may have been more fun at parties back then, but now I'm more likely to be considered a good resource for friends in need of someone to listen to their problems and support them in their decisions without turning the conversation back to themselves. There is social value in being an open book, but there are also social costs. And I still do tend to express my thoughts more than other people, but I pay more attention now to the question of what is an appropriate context for doing that, and I try to respond more to cues of discomfort from the people I'm with--which, if they aren't also open-book-type people, may not be explicitly verbalized.

Being forthcoming with your thoughts also opens you up to criticism--sometimes well-deserved, if those thoughts were inappropriate to the social context or just not developed enough to be worth sharing. People don't need to be afraid of criticism to prefer not to invite it--or to put themselves in the position of deserving it. It makes sense to consider a thought before expressing it, and it makes sense to choose not to express it if you don't think it's worth expressing. If speaking up in a social setting is a process that costs you energy--which it does, for many people--it makes sense for self-care reasons to default to not expressing your thoughts unless you see a good reason to do so. It may be easy for me to run my mouth off about nothing in particular when I'm bored, but it's not easy for everyone, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Not everyone falls at one end of those extremes. For most people, expressing random thoughts as they cross their mind happens more around people they know well, people who aren't forming initial impressions and won't allow a careless remark to shape their general view of the person. Those relationships take time to develop. I've had a lot of relationships that went from zero to sixty intimacy-wise over the course of a single conversation, and while that can be wonderful and exciting, it's not always wise and it's not for everyone. It's okay to be more reserved around people you don't trust. And telling people who are being reserved to be more forthcoming is disrespecting their choices about how much they want to share. Everyone gets to make those choices for themselves.

Here, I think, is the crux of this: a thought unshared is not a thought wasted. A thought to which I am not privy can still have value to the person who thought it. I am not entitled to the inside of anyone's head; trust is earned, not deserved, and that applies to even the most silly and inconsequential of thoughts, because people judge each other for being silly too. No one is obligated to be interesting to me, and if I'm going to decide they're not being interesting enough without taking the time to get to know them and let them grow comfortable with me, then my definition of "interesting" needs to be reexamined. And indeed it has been, and as a result I have a lot of good friends I might not otherwise have bothered to get to know.
jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
It's been a long time since I gave LJ a general rundown of how my life is going, hasn't it?

I don't think I ever updated here about the UChicago thing. I let them fly me out and woo me, and the program seemed really excellent; I would definitely have done it if they'd given me full tuition and stipend, like the program I actually applied to would have. I'm not going to go into further debt, though, and it would have been expensive. But I did have a spectacularly productive conversation with the director of the program! This program shoos a whole lot of students off to Ph.D. programs, and so they see a whole lot of acceptances and rejections, which gives them data about things like GRE score cutoffs. This guy went through my application and told me what exactly I need to improve on and how. He also told me what the admissions committee liked, and which parts of the application they don't actually care about. It was immensely helpful. If I'd had all this information in senior year of college, I might have my doctorate by now.

So I'm retaking the GRE this fall, and adjusting a few other things on the application. I'm also pulling together a journal article on which I will be first author, which I'm hoping we can get submitted in time to put on my applications. I've been doing some soul-searching about what exactly I want to accomplish in my life and whether grad school is something I need for that, and I've concluded that I could potentially live a happy and fulfilling life without a doctorate but would really rather have one.

In less pleasant news, Pi and I broke up. Not because it wasn't working out--god, we worked so well together--but our long-term situations weren't ever going to align, and she needed to be able to start setting up the life she eventually wants. It's the first time I've ever broken up with someone when everything still felt right, when I still really desperately wanted to be in the relationship, and that was hard. It was really hard for a while. She came to my birthday party and picked up the variety cryptic Mike made me and quietly got the hang of it right off the bat while helping me color in posterboard for the giant Set deck, because understated brilliance in the midst of efficiency is just her, and my heart hurt a whole damn lot. But I'm okay now, mostly. It had to happen, and I guess I'm glad it happened now, because I was only ever going to get more attached to that girl the longer I was with her.

Mike and I are at six years now and still doing great. We took a road trip to California last month to see my grandpa, who's not doing so well. It was really good to see him; I got to know him pretty well the year I lived there as a teenager, and I miss his subtle humor and habitual kindness. He's hard-of-hearing, so it can be difficult to talk on the phone. We visited a few other people in the Bay Area I hadn't seen in forever, too, and that was awesome. I've always thought I wanted to end up living there if I could, and I do think I'd be very happy there, but... we came back after a week and Seattle felt like home. I have never loved a city like I love this city. Dr. K's been pestering me to apply to UW again, and even though they've rejected me twice, I'm considering it.

I've been skating two or three times a week since April, and can't see myself getting sick of it. Actually, I think I'm addicted--if I go more than three or four days without making it to the rink, I start feeling antsy and crappy. I'm looking into hockey gear, and I have two road trips to Vancouver planned for NHL games this upcoming season, assuming I can get tickets: one to see the Coyotes by myself in November, and one to see the Penguins with friends in February. Hockey will be the death of my bank account.

Besides the hockey, though, I've been doing okay at money management. The last few months I'm averaging over 40% of my income put toward savings and paying off my student loans, and I'm almost ready to start a personal investment account. The kind of fascination I have for finance right now is the same kind I usually experience with fandoms. It's interesting to examine because that kind of fixation almost always comes with a dollop of guilt for not doing more productive things instead, whereas stuff like obsessively calculating a plan for paying off different student loans on different schedules that overlap based on a combination of balance and interest rates is just about the most adult, responsible use of my time possible. So I'll get lost in this for an hour and resurface automatically going "oh man, what time is it, I should be..." and then realize that no, there's nothing I should be doing instead. It sort of makes me question the guilt I feel about watching movies or reading webcomics or whatever, because... you know, it's okay to do things that make me happy. And yet somehow that's instinctively difficult to accept.

I'm still watching kids for a living. It's not my ideal career, but it's still going fine. There's actually a lot of opportunity for applying psychological concepts and thinking about preference and decision-making in the process of wrangling little kids. They're both great kids, and the two-and-a-half-year-old has been turning into a super awesome little person lately--she has shitpiles of grit and she's getting pretty good at things like negotiating for things she wants and chasing down follow-through on promises.

Other things... I've gone to a couple Mariners games, and started learning and appreciating baseball, which has been fun. I've taken a couple of really cool geology field trip courses, and learned a lot about Washington's geological history. I recently finished a "Welcome to Night Vale"-related audio project I'm very pleased with, and am impatient to release. I've been vidding a bit; the one I'm most proud of is the Nathan Fillion one (NSFW). I'm working on some non-fandom writing projects, slowly but surely. I'm working PAX again in a couple weeks, at a booth I think will be a lot of fun. I made a local fannish mailing list and started hosting fannish dinner parties a little over a year ago--haven't had time to do one in a few months, but I love doing them and I've met a bunch of amazing people through that group.

Overall, life is going really well, and I'm grateful for that.
jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
I realized when I was thirteen or fourteen that I had a strong preference for male vocalists. Female singers tended to get on my nerves, especially the ones with higher-pitched voices and styles incorporating vocal fry. At that point this was just an observation, but over time I got more uncomfortable with it and started actively trying to change my preferences. That's a tough thing to do, but I stuck with it, and after a few years there's a lot more female representation in my current rotation.

I don't know exactly why it happened in the first place, but I do know there were a lot of male voices in the music I heard when I was little. Ben Folds, They Might Be Giants, Moxy Fruvous, Queen, the Beatles, Weird Al... I guess once in a while Loreena McKennitt and Ani DiFranco got a turn, but the vast majority of the music playing in the background of my childhood had dudes in it.

So I made a playlist of profanity-free songs by women to put on while I babysit. While I was putting it together, I decided to go full feminist agenda and exclude songs that are explicitly about men as well. Except the Diana Vickers one, because it just straight-up belongs here. God, that song is great. Anyway, there are some dudes on instrumentals and a few male writers involved, but mostly I tried to keep this lady-centric.

(These are in no particular order; I usually listen to playlists on shuffle.)

Family Jewels - Marina and the Diamonds
Afterlife - Ingrid Michaelson
New Soul - Yael Naim
Falling - [profile] greedydancer (cover of Florence and the Machine, but I like GD's version better)
Brave - Sara Bareilles
99 Red Balloons - Nena
Royals - Lorde
Itsumo Nando Demo - Yumi Kimura
Applause - Lady Gaga
The Christians & The Pagans - Dar Williams
It's Not Your Day To Shine - Smoosh
Ya Soshla S Uma - tATu
Genius - The Murmurs
Invite Me - Sofia Allard
Extraordinary Machine - Fiona Apple
June Gloom - The Like
Anything But Ordinary - Avril Lavigne
Let Go - Frou Frou
Ribs - Lorde
Le petit voisin - Jeanne Cherhal
Eyes - Monsoon
I Love It (clean edit) - Icona Pop
Zingaro - Golden Bough
Some Velvet Morning - Primal Scream (cover of Nancy Sinatra)
Science Genius Girl - Freezepop
Music To Make The Boys Cry - Diana Vickers
The Mother We Share - Chvrches
Get Over - Dream
What's In The Middle - The Bird & The Bee
Wandering Star - Portishead
Not A Pretty Girl - Ani DiFranco
Bury My Troubles - Imelda May
Against the Wind - Máire Brennan
jedusor: (you can play)
And I know I could be more clever
And I know I could be more strong


I love this. I keep listening to the song it's from ("Out on the Town" by fun.) just for the part with that bit sung over and over, because singing along to this is more comforting than anything else to me right now.

I don't particularly love the song. Like most fun. songs, it's catchy and has kind of problematic lyrics. In context, I don't really love this line either. But interpretation is everything, and to me this phrasing doesn't mean "I'm not good enough." It means "This isn't as good as I get." It means "I have the capacity to be better."

Control is important to me. Being a kid was awful, because I hate being expected to do things for reasons I don't understand or agree with. And being in control of my own personality is incredibly important to me--that is, how I present myself and am perceived by others. Not whether they judge me favorably, but whether they judge me accurately. One reason I love studying social heuristics is that it helps me understand the tools people use to perform those evaluations.

"When you talk to a new person, you are making you. Inside of them. And you don't wanna do a bad job. [...] Judgment is just someone creating you inside of their head without your permission, without full knowledge of who you are. They're making you, but they're making you improperly." --John Green

I want to have the ability to make myself properly. In other people's heads, and also in the course of my development as a human being. There's not much I'm afraid of, but the idea of having reached the limit of my potential terrifies me. I never want to plateau. I never want to be as good as it gets. I could always be more clever and more strong. There is always room for improvement. That certainty grounds me; it keeps me going.
jedusor: (neuron art)
Some resources and articles that have been helpful to me so far in my learning process:

Investopedia
This site has been crucial from day one. I started out reading almost exclusively articles about investing basics here, and I still come back to it for definitions when I come across unfamiliar terms.

Investing 101
I started with this and opened hyperlinks in new tabs from there.

Investing tutorials
A bunch of articles about different introductory topics.

Stock Series
A series of blog posts about investing (not just stock investing, despite the name) by a dude called Jim Collins, designed for brand-new investors. He's very, very big on index funds, and I haven't been able to find much solid evidence against that position.

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing
I'm reading this right now and it's great. It does assume you have some basic knowledge (e.g. terms like bull market/bear market, assets and liabilities in the context of investments, the concept of a stock index) but I'm pretty sure if you keep Investopedia close to hand, you'll be fine. It's mostly about the psychology of investing, not fancy formulae and shit.

What Is Dividend Growth Investing?
I intend to do this with a small percentage of my money eventually.

Dividend Champions
Information about companies who have a history of increasing dividend payouts each year. Helpful if you want to do that dividend growth investing thing.

Why Dollar-Cost Averaging Stinks
The title is a bit misleading--essentially, this says that it's fine to add money to your investment portfolio as you earn it and thus dollar-cost average by default, but if you want to add a large chunk of money, you should add it all at once instead of over the course of months as some people recommend.

Why your house is a terrible investment
Don't read this if you own a house, it'll just depress you. But do read it if you're considering buying one.

How Investing in Intangibles — Like Employee Satisfaction — Translates into Financial Returns
An article about research showing a correlation between employee satisfaction and investment return.

Ethical investing indices
A starting point for socially-responsible investing.
jedusor: (neuron art)
When I was in Chicago recently, I went to the university both of my adult brothers were attending and met some of their friends. After a particular conversation, I mentioned privately to my brothers that one guy had addressed my younger brother the entire time we were speaking--even, in multiple instances, while responding to things I had said. My younger brother thought about this for a moment and said, "Huh. I didn't notice that, but actually, you're right. He did."

My older brother rolled his eyes and said, "Fine, I get it, you don't like my friends." Then he hollered after the departing fellow in question, "Hey, my sister thinks you're sexist!"

I think, already having heard me talk the previous day about how the majority of male hockey fans I meet expect me to know nothing and express surprise or distrust when proved otherwise, my older brother was fed up with my endless complaints. To him, I seemed to be making mountains out of smooth, mole-free prairies. Quizzing a new acquaintance on a subject of mutual interest is nothing out of the ordinary, and correcting her with misinformation is a mistake anyone could make. Eye contact during conversation is a ridiculous thing to even notice, much less care about. I'm sure he knows that sexism exists, but it's something that happens when people get hired based on their gender, or in countries where women can't wear pants. It's a big deal. It's not about imaginary conversational slights nobody even notices unless they're dead set on finding something to be upset about.

Except I'm not imagining it, and sexism is about minor conversational slights. It is about the things we don't notice unless we're looking for them. Because even if we don't notice them, they have an effect. (Really, click that link at the beginning of the paragraph.) Perhaps especially if we don't notice them--because if a girl knows that these condescending speech patterns are being directed at other girls too, then it's easier for her to discount them. If she doesn't know that, she's more likely to assume she deserves to be talked down to and that her words aren't important.

This is the reason girls aren't going into science and tech fields. Overt sexism isn't gone, but it's not as socially acceptable these days, and almost all girls are told that they can do whatever they want when they grow up. They don't think they're incompetent because they're female--they each think that they, personally, are not competent enough for STEM fields, because their everyday interactions indicate to them that no one else thinks they are. It's all that little stuff, the stuff you think isn't important because you don't notice it. I can wave off the condescending male hockey fans because I know the Metropolitans won the Cup in 1917 and not 1907/the Habs have never come back from a 3-0 series deficit/Seabrook's penalty was charging, not boarding/a building designed for hockey is called an arena, not a stadium/whatever else they're wrong about today. But I couldn't do that until I developed a strong knowledge base. It's really discouraging for females of any age to start learning about a male-dominated subject, because for a while, every asshole who assumes you don't know anything is right.

This, Cordell, is why I point out minor sexist speech patterns. Because no, in the long run it doesn't really matter much that some guy told Clayton about his plans for his career instead of the person standing next to him who asked. But it matters that you don't believe it happened. It matters that you don't realize this is part of a larger, systemic pattern. And because you TA physics classes, some of which contain female students, all of whom deal with this shit on a regular basis, it matters that you don't think it matters.
jedusor: (you can play)
Today I skated in my very own hockey skates for the first time!

Through a complicated series of grant-related issues, the periodic lab work I've been doing for Dr. K as a contractor pays in Amazon store credit at the moment. Normally this is just a couple hours every few months, but she recently needed me for a full day, so I found myself with a nice big chunk of money I couldn't really do anything responsible with. Well, I guess I could have saved it for household necessities or whatever. But no, I decided fuck it, I wanna pair of ice skates.

I tried on skates at Play It Again Sports in Lynnwood to decide which brand I wanted, which I recognize was sort of a dick move when I knew I wasn't going to buy from them, but I figured I'd go there for other hockey-related things eventually. And indeed, before using my new skates I needed to have them sharpened and heat-molded, so Play It Again got some of my money after all. I probably won't go there again unless I have to, though, because the guy behind the counter treated me like I didn't know anything about hockey after we had firmly established that I knew more than he did about recent Cup winners, current NHL team rosters, and the game that was being played on the TV in front of us. Like, I was in the middle of telling him why I thought a particular penalty would probably be called as charging rather than boarding, and he interrupted me to condescendingly explain what a boarding penalty is. (The penalty turned out to be--shocker!--charging. Douche.)

Anyway, that was yesterday, and today I went to Highland Ice Arena in Shoreline to try out the new kicks. It was completely dead; I think there were five people on the ice besides me. I asked the person up front whether it was always that empty, and she informed me that it was Easter Sunday, which explains it. But she did say it would probably be pretty low-traffic from now until the beginning of the next hockey season, so that's good. I like having room to move around.

I skated at Millennium Park in Chicago last December, but that was more a social thing than actually working on technique, and other than that I haven't skated in something like five years. So I was pretty pleased to have my right crossover back within about fifteen minutes, and my left crossover mostly working by the end of the hour I was out there. I also practiced skating backwards (slow going, but generally successful) and stopping (not successful, but then I've never been able to stop). I did not fall over at all, which I deem an accomplishment given my rustiness, and also given the horrendous state of the ice. I don't know what the hell was happening before I got there, but by the look of things I'm gonna guess landmine testing. So kudos to either my awesome skating skills or my awesome new skates for managing to handle that surface spill-free.

Best of all, my hip is giving me no trouble at all. For the last year or so, since that asshole phys ed teacher pushed me when I had an injury, I haven't been able to do more than a few miles of walking, running, biking, or elliptical without my hip killing me, so it's been tough to get a reasonable duration of cardio. Dancing is better, I can do about two hours of club-style dancing before the hip nopes out, but I don't really enjoy doing that outside an actual club context, and obviously I can't go clubbing often enough to get my cardio that way (enthusiastic as I'm sure Piper would be about that plan). But skating is more of a side-to-side motion, and doesn't ping the whiny muscle, so I can skate to... my heart's content. B) Which I plan to do!
jedusor: (seattle gay pride)
I went to Knee High Stocking Company for a friend's birthday party last night, with a group that's comfortable enough to pass drinks around for everyone to taste, so I got to try a few different things. Knee High is a speakeasy that serves prohibition-era cocktails, or at least so they claim--I don't know enough about cocktail history to be sure of how authentic these are. Anyway, I wanted to take note of the ones I've tried for next time.

Hammock Between the Sugar Cane: Zaya 12-year rum, Barbancourt 9-year rum, coconut, falernum, lime. This was mindblowing. With the caveat that I don't go out for fancy cocktails very often, I would call it the best cocktail I've ever had.

Laura Palmer: gin, Earl Grey, lemon, Coke. I don't like gin or Coke (this was a sip of someone else's drink, obviously) but this was actually pretty good. The flavors were interesting together.

Buffalo Cider: bourbon, cider, lemon. This just tasted like cider to me (good cider, but not really worth 10+ bucks), although some of the people who don't drink much said they tasted a strong alcohol burn.

Painkiller: rum, orange, pineapple, cream of coconut. Basically a pina colada--I couldn't really taste the orange. Good pina colada, though.

To the Moon: rum, blood orange liqueur, lime, cardamom bitters. This was okay, but tasted a little like orange rind.


Drinks I might like to try in the future (because they change up the menu a lot, so these might not be listed next time, but they're still willing to make whatever):

Grape-Beri Knee High: raspberry Stoli, Chambord, lemon, soda, optional absinthe.
Pimento: brandy, St. Germain, olive juice, lemon, 1-5 spiciness range.
Spanish coffee (waitress recommended): coffee, brandy, Kahlua, cinnamon, caramelized sugar rim, fire.
The Wry Grin: rye, Fernet-Branca, lemon, bitters, mint.
Old Cuban: dark rum, lime, champagne, mint.
Deep Sleeper: 12-year rum, Cointreau, port, lemon.

There was a tequila one I was thinking about trying, too, but I don't see it on the website and I don't remember what was in it.
jedusor: (neuron art)
Here is why it bothers me that all the songs are about romantic relationships:

Because even though I'm sick and the weather sucks, I still choose to drive eight hours round-trip from Chicago to Ann Arbor to have dinner with a dear friend I haven't seen in over two years... and I hear "oh, are you two dating?"

Because I talk about my favorite hockey player, how invested I am in his success, how his incredibly distinct playing style helped me understand when I was first learning about hockey that the guys playing are not just interchangeable uniforms, that there are nuances to each player's game that make them special and interesting and worth distinguishing... and I hear "aww, you have a crush!"

Because I sometimes hold back from telling my friends how much I care about them for fear of being misinterpreted, and every time I realize I'm doing it I lecture myself about how ridiculous that is, but it's not entirely ridiculous, because it's true that affection will very often be interpreted as romantic interest.

Because I say I love and I hear so why don't you marry no matter the context, no matter the history, no clarifications asked, just knowing grins and assumptions all over the place.

I just want some different songs once in a while, I guess.

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