Wednesday, March 29, 2006

All Organizey

Have been too busy being volunteer coordinator for this upcoming international event to do much else.

Some of the work can of course be summed up in three words: drama, drama, drama!

Other than that, it's just organizing. I call my Excel spreadsheet of volunteers' availabilities and duties the "Tetris Spreadsheet" as that's what it looks like--a big mass of tiny varicolored blocks.

Oh yeah, I also did the graphics and set up souvenirs for the event. And alternate souvenirs that are only available online, since conflicts over which design to use were about to come to blows (by me).

The Orange Ball of Women won out as the official design for the overall conference instead of the Multicolor Intersecting Women one that I preferred, but the Women of Color Caucus did like my Standing Together Women design for their items. >haughty sniff<

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cosmic Sounds

If I were only a rocket scientist, too, I would totally want to be in this ensemble.

And, wow, lots of public domain old-tyme recordings! As a secret librarian-type, I am extremely happy that this preservation project has occurred. It's about time.

When I was little, I knew a family who had a wind-up gramophone. I still remember a number of the songs. I would like to have a gramophone someday myself. Hey, now that I think of it, I believe I do have some gramophone records mixed into my general unsorted pile of if only I had a turntable! I have long thought I would use them as samples...or something.

Maybe after my internship, since between internship and new baby I won't have time to even fantasize about music geekery.

Ah, Weekends

I'm still g r a d u a l l y creeping past the constant-nausea stage of this whole making-another-person project. However, I was able to enjoy lounging in bed on Sunday morning, although only TheLimey was up to having the obligatory cup of tea. (Have been pretty much off "real" tea, coffee, wine, and beer even in my imagination for the past couple months. Bleah!)

I was going to continue to sleep, but he had brought to the bed some light reading that ended up sucking me in: The Economist, Robot, and Scientific American. I'm pretty sure that this is exactly what marriage is supposed to be like: lounging and geeking out.

I see that Robot's website has exceeded its bandwidth. Guess they didn't expect the flood of interest! In other news, I learned that prions have recently been found in wild deer, so I guess my theory about hunting being a potentially safer form of meat-eating than animal captivity, is not necessarily true either. Go figure.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I Could Do Better!

(No offense, guy.)

In this letter and response, the answer is so philosophical and abstract as to be no answer at all. And look how it ends! "Adulthood is not all that much fun"? If that's how he feels, I definitely don't want his advice about my life, I'll tell you that much. (Only ask people for advice who are reacting to life in a way you wouldn't mind doing yourself.)

The real (short) answer? I saw this quote somewhere just the other day: "To find a soulmate, you have to have a soul." Which is just another translation of the cliche "to find a good partner, you have to first become a good partner." Which includes being a whole person.

We're all attracted to partners who are being what we want to be, doing what we want to do. If she's attracted to pierced coffee-shop employees with skateboards, then she's obviously feeling too buttoned-down herself. She closed off her choices too early! Her identity status is obviously in foreclosure, probably in several areas!

And if she doesn't bust out and express that wacky side of herself soon, then she will (I guarantee you) have what is popularly known as a "midlife crisis" in not too many years. Probably after she's married some guy she thinks she's "supposed to" and also had the kids she's "supposed to", who will then be damaged by the whole thing.

The alternative is to do what you love, and then adulthood is pretty dang fun. (I'm not saying it isn't scary.) It doesn't only apply to work. In fact, much to my surprise, adulthood has only gotten steadily more fun with each year. (Now, I'm not saying grad school has always been easy and fun, but that's only a part of it.)

I would recommend she get an identity status interview and see what areas of her self she's foreclosed on. And as she enjoys "snobby" (ok, "hip") pursuits, I would recommend she do some reading on the Shadow Self and take it from there. Go do something "bad"! (But not illegal, as she's not under 18 any more.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Just One More...

...picture that I stole from a sc r e e nsa v er site with dorky trailing cursors and other annoying elements. Since all the images there were were obviously just scanned commercial greeting cards, I simply can't bring myself to feel too guilty.

When Irish Squirrels are Smiling

I can only wish that I had made this image.

Anyway, have a green beer for me since I can't this year. (Perhaps in memory of the indigenous religions of Eire. Yep, I know how to suck the fun out of pretty much anything.)

Not Used for Meat! I Swear!

I'm a bit disturbed by the frequent insistence that any particular Mad Cow is not a danger to the public "because it never entered the food chain." To me that's a little like telling your parents that the broken window couldn't be from your rock, because you still have a rock in your hand.

See, USDA, it's not that specific cow that is so worrisome--it's all its cohorts that did make it into the food chain.

In one of those links above, I was especially repulsed by the discussion of "restaurant plate waste" being a vector for giving cows BSE. It's gross enough that "restaurant plate waste" is being fed to herbivores in the first place.

But on consideration, I realized that what should disturb me a lot more than that is: people were eating whatever was on those plates before the cows were! And as we all know, prions never die.

Of course, if we were all vegetarians (or even just carnivorous hunters), this wouldn't even be a concern.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Scary Old Movie Spoiler and Kind of Newer One Spoiled a Bit, Too

Shortly before bed the other night, I saw the beginning of Scary Movie 3. As my movie-going habits have been sparse at best for the past five years, I probably missed a great number of pop culture references. However, I did recognize the sequence that was taken from The Ring.

I enjoy scary, creepy supernatural movies (though I truly dislike gory, splattery human serial killer ones). So at one point I did actually buy a used VHS copy of The Ring, but I never got to see it because I loaned it to a neighbor and never got it back. I almost never loan out my movies to people specifically because of how often they don't come back.

I have loaned movies out to maybe three people in the past six years, and now that I think of it, only one person has returned those movies. In fact, I think the person to whom I loaned The Ring later denied that they had ever borrowed it! But when there are only three people in so many years, it's kind of hard to forget, you know?

So anyway, the upshot is that I still have never actually seen The Ring. However, I did recognize the imagery from the trailers and so forth when I saw the Scary Movie sequence. However, I wasn't expecting that ghost-thingy to actually come crawling out of the character's TV screen, so I found that image pretty disturbing.

Normally, the one redeeming thing about scary movies is that there is a discrete boundary between me and the events in the film (the screen), which allows me to watch all kinds of scary stuff without taking it too seriously. I think that image of breaking boundaries between reality and fiction got around that defense into my subconscious and freaked me out a bit.

When I awoke in the middle of the night to make a bathroom run (as I always do these days), it was the first thing that popped into my head. I had to peer over the living room balcony as I went past to make sure that nothing was crawling out of the darkened TV screen below. Also, I had to scamper back to the bedroom really fast.

When I squeezed uncomfortably close to my sleepy husband and mentioned that the movie had scared me, he very helpfully pointed out that the TV was turned off and was thus unlikely to produce any frightening creatures. On the other hand, he continued in the same helpful vein, it was much more likely that something would crawl out of the monitor of my computer that I had left on in the office all night. (Ha; I had already considered this. Why else would I have to run past the office so quickly to get back to bed?)

Luckily, morning revealed that apparently nothing had crawled out of anything during the night. Now I am simultaneously interested and completely against watching The Ring, given that just a silly take-off scene of it scared me.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine came over during the day to relieve my cabin fever by watching with me my recent acquisition, the South Korean frightener A Tale of Two Sisters. There aren't too many friends with whom I can watch horror flicks that are also in Korean (subtitled).

To date, it is probably the scariest movie I have ever seen. Even though I didn't understand the plot while it was happening, until the last five minutes or so. I thought at first this was just because my Western-cultured linear-processing mind was not used to the story-telling direction in which Korean horror has evolved.

However, when we watched the interview with the director afterwards, it seemed that quite a few of his Korean critics were confused and unhappy with the non-linearity of the film. Personally, I can't say I was unhappy with it: I just didn't understand what was happening. This did not, however, detract from the scariness one bit. I like a mental challenge in film sometimes.

We spent most of the movie shouting out our theories about what was happening: "I think this means the older sister did this and the younger sister did that!" "Who was that? What was that?" "I think it was the stepmother's imagination of blah blah blah!" "Now I think these two people are actually the same person!" "I think the father did such-and-such, and that's why this is happening!" "That thing must have been the mother's." "I think that person was there out of the blue because she represented so-and-so."

Scariest movie moments (without giving away the plot--heck, it didn't even give away the plot during the film): 1. A scene in which a character awakes in the dark to find that someone or something is in the room. And then down by the foot of the bed, you see only the top of its head moving silently along behind a sofa; 2. The stereotypical "something reaches out from under something and grabs someone"--but done so surprisingly, and done so well, that it was really a shock. (This was the point where our screaming might have disturbed the neighbors, but no police ever arrived.)

Now my dilemma is whether I should watch The Ring, or its supposedly scarier Japanese predecessor Ringu (which purists love above the westernized version, of course), or skip both as being too scary even for me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Rambling Lecture About Commitment, Dating, Marriage, and Misuse of Terminology

Note or warning: this is definitely a lecture, just because I feel all lecture-y. I usually can't say things like this to my clients directly, after all.

I recently read an article in what I happen to regard primarily as a decorating magazine (Real Simple) in which a guy described how a family tragedy changed his feelings about commitment. And in the article he did that thing that drives the therapist-me nuts, which is to misuse the term commitment-phobic. (Or commitmentphobic with no dash, if you like, and I think I do.)

Now, to confuse the issue, the dynamic of the situation was such that he did actually behave in a commitmentphobic way. However! However, his description of what about him was commitmentphobic was wrong, all wrong. At least wrong in a popular, yet dangerous, way.

What he said was something to the effect that because he did not want to get married, he was commitmentphobic. And he's not alone--you'll hear a lot of people using it that way.

People, please. Not wanting to get married, or even not wanting to just have a committed Significant Other, is not in itself commitmentphobic. A person can be a perfectly legitimate, honest, upstanding rake or tramp who only is interested in one-night stands*--this does not make them commitmentphobic.

--And here's the caveat: as long as they are up front about it!

That's right; the minute you say one thing but do another, that does make you a prime suspect for commitmentphobia.

Such is the case of the stringer, who doesn't want to break up, but also doesn't want to go to the next level (going steady? marriage? whatever), and strings their partner along with hemi-demi-semi-implications that someday, if you can just be patient, they probably will want that. Maybe. Just not now. Of course, the longer this goes on, the more clear it becomes that they really are a stringer or commitmentphobe.

Why is this the definition of commitmentphobia? Because the person can't commit to either course: leaving or staying. They can't commit to making the choice.

They don't want to cross that bridge, but are also reluctant to burn it. They want to "keep their options open" or "keep a foot in the door". And this, this, is the dishonorable act, which is suckier by far than any cad or sex kitten at the bar who only wants one thing. At least you know where that person is ... --never mind, that was going to be a bad choice of words.

I recently picked up a controversial book about finding marriageable men in the bookstore (and I'd like to see you reconstruct that sentence so it doesn't sound like the bookstore is where you find the men). I was reading this book because when I am in a bookstore I find myself reading the most disparate, oddest things, even if they don't seem to have any relevance to me, simply because they are at eye level and have a nice color of cover. I often don't get much farther than 10 feet into the store because I am so immediately arrested by any book. But I digress.

So anyway, regarding this book, yes I'm blatantly ignoring some of the giant questions going begging like the fact that it's always a book about women getting men to marry them; the heterosexual focus; why we as a society have such unbalanced relationship goals; and so forth.

Anyway, one thing that I thought the author got pretty right-on was that if a guy says he's not interested in commitment, then his partner should believe him. (All this would apply to the genderly reverse, by the way. However, I get more women clients in this position than men clients. Not all, but more. Studies suggest men stay home and drink instead of going to the friendly neighborhood therapist--booo!)

I would extend the author's statement to say that if a person says they're not sure what they want, then you can be sure they don't want to go to the next level. (Even if they act all tortured and pitiful when they're saying it. Yep. Maybe especially then.)

If you're someone who doesn't want the level-up, then hey! No problem-o. But if that is secretly (or overtly) what you want, you're not doing yourself a favor by a) staying, or b) pretending you don't want it, in hopes that not pressuring then will make them blossom into a marriage-wanting ... blossom. (Or something.) That means, don't waffle. They're probably already waffling enough for the both of you. And pancaking-fried-egging-and-French-toasting, and pretty much every other breakfast fooding.

One study showed that when people broke up after long uncommitted relationships and got married relatively quickly to the next datee, it was primarily because that next person laid it on the line: "I am in this for commitment, otherwise let's not bother." Notice: not because the first person wasn't sexy enough, or rich enough, or sophisticated enough. No--it was because the first person didn't back up what they said with actions. ("It's been 18 months, we're in or I'm out--nothing personal," for example, would be good.)

A lot of this comes down to being unafraid and unapologetic about your needs and wishes, because if you don't want what the other person wants, you shouldn't be together anyway! Right? Right?! --NO, I don't want to hear any of that "but they have so many wonderful qualities!" That's nice. So does most of the human race, really.

Bottom line: same relationship goals = go forward!; different relationship goals = getoutgetoutGETOUT!

As a dear old auntie of mine has said, the only man you can scare away by being yourself is your future ex-husband.

If accepting this is a hard pill for you to swallow, then my favorite book recommendation is Don't Call That Man. Again, applies equally to women too, but we still raise men and women to approach relationships differently, so it often ends up being expressed differently in practical terms, blah blah blah disclaimer. Also, you don't have to be breaking up with anyone to read it, though if you are breaking up, it's great for your mood.

And while I'm handing out unasked advice: While recuperating on the couch the other day, I saw an episode of Blind Date. The first thing the woman did was to tell the guy that she didn't trust men, because a lot a lot a lot of men had cheated on her.

Okay, don't do this. This goes for guys, too. You don't immediately douse a new date with exactly how terrible your ex was. Why? Well, for starters, picture seeing a man or woman sitting there with their drink telling how much wrong they been done. Oh so wrong! That's not a great mood to set right in the beginning.

Next, and you're going to hate this one, it cognitively lowers the threshold of what they think you are willing to accept as behavior from a partner. Not consciously, of course. But we all want to outdo our S.O.'s last partner. So if you portray that last partner as a horrible ogre, then what's to outdo? And what does it say about your spine that you would tolerate such terrible treatment?

Next, and you're going to hate this one, too, the more you emphasize how you've been mistreated, the more likely you are to push away someone who is healthy and attract someone who has a rescuer complex. (This doesn't sound so terrible, but believe me, it'll end up that way.)

Finally, how someone talks about their ex is also how they are likely to talk about others--including you. Your date will know this, and will be somewhat more repelled the more you speak negatively about others, no matter how terrible that person really, truly was. It makes you sound hostile and/or disrespectful. It makes it seem as though you could view them in that negative way, too.

Besides, what you focus on is what grows. Do you really want the focus of your date to be your misery? Because then I guarantee it'll grow.

So, what can you say that doesn't sound pollyannaish and fake?

Well, if you tell someone that your last relationship was nice enough, but you just had different goals, or personalities, or grew different ways, or whatever, that sounds respectable and respectful and reasonable. There will be plenty of time dish and gripe about your ex later, gradually, when you're all involved with each other. That's what 3am emotional talks are for.

Oh yeah, that TV couple with the distrustful woman (Ms. Trust, let's call her)? There was a setup with a hottie private eye who hit on the guy using a hidden camera. He was great. He respectfully turned her phone number down and said he was with someone else.

He was very kind and respectful to Ms. Trust the whole date through. I liked him a lot! In the post-date individual wrap up, he was eager to go on another date, whereas she flatly said there would not be another date. >sigh<

My guess based on that "a lot a lot" (a clear relationship pattern) is that she seeks out men who fulfill her cheating expectations, and he simply couldn't live down to them.

*Or someone who is completely uninterested in any of that kind of interaction at all.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Very Useful for Students or Tourists

I'm upset that I didn't think of this site myself. it seems like such an obvious move! Guess I can't do everything.

I did, however, email the webmaster with some better squirrel stories and pictures of my current school, so that he might upgrade the ratings.

I think it would be fun to go on a cross-country squirrel road trip to check out the veracity of the reports.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Those Sons-of-Tribbles

If you haven't seen How Liddy and I collaborated to simultaneously mutilate both Lyle Lovett and Star Trek, you really should.

Waitress, where's my hot Earl Grey tea?'s so melancholy when the holodeck's all but gone.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Technical Data

For those who wondered how the Match works, the algorithm is briefly explained here, with links to more detailed explanations. (So whoever wrote that if you don't get your first choice, it's randomly assigned from the subsequent choices, that's just wrong. As I thought.)

I also read (somewhere) that when they first started using the Match system, the algorithm began with the preferences of the internship sites. People (interns, probably) complained that this gave sites a power advantage, so they tried out the current system, beginning with applicant preferences. Although this showed less than a tenth of a percent difference in placements when applied to previous Match years, they decided to adopt that system anyway.

Amazon Love/Hate

I was so proud of my review that I decided I might as well post it to Amazon--why not?

The page that allows one to preview the review correctly displays text markup stuff like italics. So thinking it was just as I wanted it, I published it. However, when the review showed up on the site, all the markups were annoyingly displayed throughout the text naked--wads of various characters and punctuation marks.

Once I tried to edit a review and the edits never showed up, so I thought instead of editing this one I'd just delete it and rewrite it with no text fanciness. However, when I tried to save that one, OOPS! I'm not allowed to write more than one review for a product.

And while it's easy to look up any product, it's hard as heck to navigate and find information on Amazon's own processes. I often just go to Google and look up whatever Amazon operation I want and get in from there, because Amazon sure as heck isn't going to help me navigate itself.

Stoopid Amazon.