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RIP Tiny Piglet (Neither Tiny nor a Piglet)

My sister messaged me to let me know that my old cat, Tiny Piglet, wasn't doing so well. By the time I got a hold of her, he had died. She was crying when I called. My big bruiser of a kitty is gone, aged approximately 17 or maybe even 18. We don't exactly know. His previous owner said he was about a year, a year and a half old by her reckoning, when she gave him to me over 16 years ago. And when I couldn't take him to Canada, he was bequeathed to my sister.

I've asked Rae to send a picture when she's feeling better. But things you need to know about Tiny Piglet. He was not Tiny, which was one of his first names. He wasn't precisely a Piglet either--the previous owner's kids tried to call him that after the Pooh character. He was big and brawny, white of fur, except for his raccoon tail and a tiny spot under his chin that looked like a spaghetti stain. He had liquid gold eyes that made me want to paint them. When I lived at my parents' house, he would wake me up by batting the door knob of the door until I would let him out. Then he'd would jump up, tap the door knob, run to the top of the stairs, jump, tap that door knob, and dash back down to rinse and repeat. He would affectionately butt his head against my legs, face, armpit. He was the last cat I owned before I came down with adult onset allergies. (Ironically if I had been able to keep him, I might never have manifested with the allergies. But I lost my exposure.)

He got to watch my nieces grow up and he survived their toddlerhood, which I imagine was no mean feat. He was loved muchly and he will be missed muchly.

DASH and Body Stuff

Health stuff:
I can't recall if I mentioned this but on Monday when I was getting blood drawn AGAIN and the doc took my blood pressure, I was at 120/82. Which is down from 120/92! Yay! I'm slowly inching back to healthy. And it seems like the DASH diet is helping with that.

I've mentioned it before, and I'm about to talk about it again, because I'm already noticing lots of small changes. For one thing it has become easier to resist eating foods that were supposed to be consumed in smaller amounts or avoided altogether because of my fatty liver issue. For another, it is becoming easier to listen to my body's full-or-nearly-full cues. Even when eating out, I'm not plowing through the entire mountain of food. I ate only half my banh mi from yesterday, along with a handful of broccoli* and seriously, that kept me sated ALL afternoon. (One memorable day at Kabam I ate THREE banh mi on sandwich day.) It's been easier to stick to portions, while still getting all the calories I need. (I'm at 1500 calories on days where I don't work out, so don't worry, no deprivation.) Oh, and Greek yogurt is easier to eat. It wasn't sweet enough before...but now that I'm not eating sugary or processed things all day long, it's more palatable than I remember it being.

And without trying to put undue attention on weight loss, I have gone from 185 to 176.7. (If you don't count the first week's water weight fluctuations, I'm losing 2** pounds a week. Because of the ongoing health concern I made sure my doctor knew about this and she seems content that I'm fine and not overdoing it.)

My exercise has been limited to walking (because of said health concern) but John and I have done quite a bit of it lately and it seems to be paying off.

*I wasn't eating raw broccoli or anything from the brassica category, or pears last week because it turns out they are goiterogens, but the doc has said judging by my thyroid panel, it looks like I'm cleared to eat raw foods like that again.

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash/ - if you are interested in checking this out. The primary goal is to control blood pressure, but there are incidental benefits to weight control if that is an issue for you personally. It's fairly easy to follow, I think--the biggest change is just getting more fruits and veggies in, reducing certain processed foods, getting low-fat with dairy but still getting healthy fats from things like olive oil and nuts, and balancing your protein intake instead of making meat the centerpiece of a meal. The biggest thing is limiting your sodium. I like the baked potato option in their provided meal plan and they explain how to make low-sodium versions of things like pasta sauce.

Usual caveats: Every one is different and everyone has different body goals. Some folks don't want or even need to lose weight and can have healthy BP at any size. I'm trying to keep my advocacy limited to "This is what is working for me, and it's helping with these problems (fatty liver, blood pressure) and aiding in a self-set weight loss plan."

John is NOT doing DASH. It doesn't work for him--not because it couldn't, but because he prefers other approaches for maintaining his healthy eating habits. We are both doing pretty well with our respective approaches. (Also I notice that even if he dislikes mornings, he's been really good at getting up in the morning recently, something he'd struggled with.)


**It's not medically advised to lose more than 2lbs of weight in a week consistently. You might have water weight fluctuations, things like that, occasionally, and you don't want to lose the lean muscle mass.

RIP Peter O'Toole

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/dec/15/peter-o-toole-dies-lawrence-arabia

Nooooooo. No. No. No. No. No.

I'm crying as I try to write this.

My dad took me to see Lawrence of Arabia. First, when I was approximately nine and the SCERA ran the 70 mm print as part of a restoration run, and then two years later, on the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake. I'm not sure if we felt the earthquake as far away as Utah because I would have been in my seat, rapt, staring at the screen. The first time I saw Lawrence, I was blown away, impressed by a movie in a way that very rarely has ever occurred since, and in a way which has never been replicated. I left the movie the first time, and checked out Lawrence of Arabia in the encyclopedia. I looked up everything I could about the man, read The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, read autobiographies, watched lesser biopics. (BTW, knowing that Lawrence of Arabia was probably gay was no doubt a huge counterpoint to the ideology I was raised with. I was in junior high or high school when I ran across that explanation in one of his biographies--others had sorta glossed it over in euphemisms I hadn't understood until later--and it sorta tweaked my head for approximately ten minutes, and then I accepted it because, well, he was Lawrence.)

So the movie is in large part a technical masterpiece of cinematography and screenplay and directing and of course, acting. And O'Toole's Lawrence was the linchpin for me. "Certainly it hurts. The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYNElueJj_w



I suppose it would be fair to remind you that he acted in other movies. Certainly, he was one of the most nominated and never-winning actors in Hollywood. He even asked Hollywood if they might not delay the lifetime achievement statue since he was still in the game and might yet "win the lovely bugger outright." He lost Lawrence of Arabia to Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, which is the only reason I can not say he was robbed. He also lost Goodbye Mr. Chips to John Wayne's True Grit. And while he was not nominated for his performance in King Ralph, I'm sure that was a mere oversight on the part of the Academy. I used to worry that he would die too early and that King Ralph would be the last thing he would be known for, but I find that even it has achieved a patina of affection with age. And fortunately for the sake of the epitaphs, there is Lawrence. There will always be Lawrence.

I'm glad I went to the Cinerama just a month or so back to see Lawrence of Arabia again. I always do, whenever I get the chance to see it on the big screen, and a Cinerama screen is one of the biggest you can get, taking full advantage of those amazing 70mm desert shots, where the humans are flyspecks on the edge of a vast horizon. It now takes on the vague flavour in my mind...the same nostalgia I associate with the last trip to Utah before my Grandfather Mitchell died. Being aware, subconciously perhaps, that this would be the last time I would see him while alive. I guess that's how I feel now about that recent viewing of O'Toole's master performance.

It hurts thinking that we've lost him.

And as I think that, I hear in my head, "Certainly it hurts. The trick is not minding that it hurts."
As flu season is upon us, today's friendly message is to wash AND dry your hands properly. Everybody knows to wash (although I side eye you people in public bathrooms who only cursorily flick your hands beneath a stream of water) but not everyone knows that drying properly and thoroughly afterwards is the best way to reduce bacterial transfer.

http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/news/2010/09/not-drying-hands-thoroughly-after-washing-could-aid-bacterial-transfer.aspx

This link discusses the effects of different drying methods, as well as rubbing your hands together under that air-dryer. (Rubbing hands together inhibits the reduction of bacterial transfer. ie. don't do it, your hands will be more efficiently clean if you don't.)

And per this link from Eli Maffei the Dyson Airblade is more efficient energy-wise than paper towels. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2010/aug/05/carbon-footprint-drying-hands

For a combination of green and clean, look for the Dyson airblade, then paper towels, then the regular hand dryer, and don't rub your hands together.

http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/ - the CDC recommendations for hand-washing.

Happy handwashing!

A Case of Genre and Girl Cooties

http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2013/09/science-fiction-science-fiction/

I REALLY don't think that this dude can have read either Bujold or Priest extensively based on his criticisms of their books. Priest he castigates for having zombies--oh noes!--and then somehow describes books of Boneshakers' ilk (associatively, I guess, because it's not actually called out other than by Zombies) as being a parade of zombies and military dress and starlit parties? (Even if he's applying and conflating the descriptions of Bujold's books, that's such a mischaracterisation.)

BTW, Bujold's books do unabashedly have romance in them. And mystery. And action. And political intrigue. She's as much said that the series wanders through several genres. But to characterise them as primarily romance--or more so than most SF--is a bit silly. To say that " it takes much of the dramatic urgency out of a story if the hero is already married or if during a skirmish comes back to canoodle or wine or dine with his beloved before rushing back to the fray," is pretty much to admit to NOT HAVING READ THE BOOKS. There are two scenes contained herein that John and I have discussed as being among the most....squirm-inducing descriptions of torture or desperation, and yet they are economically written, not gratuitous, fit the story, and are pretty damn hardcore. I know how the series turns out and yet, even on re-reads both these two scenes make me flinch.

Basically this dude has a hardcore case of Genre and Girl Cooties. He tries to play it off by leading with Gene Wolfe but tips his own hand when he talks about details that only women would love: balls, courts, military dress, palace intrigues, gossiping, and whispering in the corridors. AND THEN HE SAYS...All of this is right out of Alexander Dumas. OH TEH IRONY. So...only women love them. And Alexandre Dumas. And Robert Jordan. And George R. R. Martin. And David Weber. And the aforementioned Gene Wolfe. And...well, you get the picture.

Penny Arcade...Again.

I keep seeing strawmanning by PA supporters, re: original joke. This strawman goes something like "One rape joke doesn't mean they support rape--I don't understand why you are upset." The original joke highlights the comparative immorality inherent in the quest systems of MMOs. I could see the point they were aiming for. I can ALSO see where they ran aground by making rape the punchline. My disappointment stems less from the original comic--we could have had a fruitful discussion if they had allowed it. It could have been a teachable moment. Instead, they doubled-down on rape survivors and made them the butt of the very next strip. They also didn't rein in the abusive fans who were attacking the survivors. Then they followed up on that by making the Dickwolves shirt to appeal to that same set of abusive fans. Their response to survivors has not been compassionate. Their failure to realise the very diversity of their audience makes this strip even more ironic: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/07/18

This leads me to another point I keep seeing by PA supporters, which is that the comic wasn't meant for feminists/survivors, etc. Which is ridiculous, because so many of the people initially upset were long-time PA fans and supporters. I've been following them since Year One. I've donated to Child's Play in the past. I know they were capable of better, more nuanced thought than this. I'm disappointed that this is the hill they would like to defend.

Another strawman that gets brought up all the time is the Fruit Fucker. Why are we not screaming over the rape of fruit, one asks? We could start with the fact that fruit is not sentient, that the rape of fruit is not a Real Problem in the world. The Fruit Fucker is removed enough that for many people it is an absurdist, if tasteless, piece of hyperbole that you can't achieve when you substitute a human face. Or we could also go with, "We were all younger then and less educated. We're all being educated together." My tastes in humor have gotten less mordant as I've gotten older and (hopefully) more empathetic. Molly Ivins said that great satire punches up, not down--that when you aim satire at the powerless it becomes vulgar and cruel.

Why should any of this matter? Because at the moment, PAX is one of the biggest gatherings of nerds, and short of Comic-Con and DragonCon, the tenor of the conversations springing out of the nerdosphere can largely be determined by how inclusive these major cons are. If major voices are saying that rape survivors deserve to be silenced, that they don't have legitimate concerns, that it is okay to make spaces where they feel unsafe, to poke at their scars...that's a problem. I see a lot of guys who just don't get it. They shrug--it's somebody else's tempest in a teapot. But I can tell you that among my girlfriends, that 1 in 6 statistic is optimistic at best, and it's a rare woman in my acquaintance that hasn't been sexually harrassed or assaulted. (I myself have been harrassed at an old job, in school, cornered in a nightclub, and hit for not letting a guy put his legs between mine. That's not even getting into the low-level daily stuff I get told about how to be a woman.)

That enough for the moment. Here's some links to marinate on.

https://nerdy.quora.com/Penny-Arcade-The-Cognitive-Dissonance-of-Sexism
http://leighalexander.net/still-never-going-to-pax/
http://debacle.tumblr.com/post/3041940865/the-pratfall-of-penny-arcade-a-timeline

No comments, cuz I've got other stuff going on in my life, and no time to do 101.

Arrival

Last night we flew in nearly two hours after we were supposed to. The flight was delayed coming in, and then we were missing a computer part, and the long shot is: we didn't leave until after we should have landed. And then it was turbulent, although I zenned my way through that with meditation and trying to deceive my husband with my seeming serenity. :) But we finally got in and collapsed. :)

...

I am so pooped from just a morning of hauling my butt around a shopping center so labyrinthine it reminded me of how casinos trap people inside to keep them from leaving so they spend more money.

Bellevue is clean and nice and totally not for me. It's like if you took suburbia and tried to pile it together to make a downtown core of a city. (Which is totally fine for some folks.)

I've been pondering why I'm so tired and then I remember, oh, right, you just spent the last two days doing the fourth or fifth most stressful thing a western-hemisphere First World human can do, which is packing up, throwing out, and moving. Okay, the lists vary on this, I've seen at least one list that puts it above death of a loved one, and I think those people are on crack. Here's a more scientifically derived list http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale which I don't find all that accurate for me personally, since I put moving way ahead of a bunch of things on that list and they have it down at Change of Residence. But then if you add up a bunch of things on that list that are incidental to moving, like change of recreation, job loss, etc, it might add up to a more cumulative whole.

Poor John's been at work, so I feel guilty for complaining about being tired, since he's endured all the same stuff I've been. (Although his weeks have been more regular than mine in the last month.) He's flown more often too, and flying usually takes a lot out of me for a good 24 hours after.

Anyway, got temporary bin things to store my clothes until we can get the new place and have the movers bring our things. I also made Lego people of John and me at the Lego store in the mall, so you can see how stressful that was. (Sarcasm.) I'm gonna check out the library hours and then collapse for a nap or somefing.

About Rape

When did you first have to think about rape? Soraya Chemaly asks the question.
http://www.rolereboot.org/culture-and-politics/details/2013-08-when-did-you-first-have-to-think-about-rape

I was eight or so and my mother was reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and I wanted to read it. She wouldn't let me and explained in loose terms why, thinking that I was too young to deal with the concept. Ironically, it was the same age as young Maya gets raped.

I never was sexually abused or raped, although I was subject to some consistent and ongoing sexual harrassment, and I've been groped or felt up in public, but by the time I was in my mid-teens, I had such a exposed conciousness about all the messages girls get that I was fairly regularly experiencing rape dreams. (About once a month, I think. I get less as an adult, weirdly.)

A week probably doesn't go by where I don't have some situation where I've performed a mental triage of Exits, Weight/Height, Weapons to Hand, Cell Phone, Keys, even though I know that most rape is by acquaintances. (I've had guy friends tell me this is me over-reacting but then I wonder if they'd have a good third to half their girl friends tell them that they'd been raped/assaulted, if they'd feel the same.)

The Introverted Extrovert

It's only in living with John Sheffield that I know I'm really extroverted, because I do have a strong introverted side in that I like to read and make art and write which are all really solitary. And I'm pretty adapted to going to museums and doing urban hiking by myself. (Although I really prefer going hiking with friends. Museums, I love to show people, but I also have a strong "I'm gonna sit here and sketch" thing too.)

My second week in Toronto was really weird because normally I have balance between my two sides: write all day, chat all evening, but my writing friends weren't there. I met a whole bunch of other folks like Yuula and John and Devon and Jessica and so on, so I wasn't completely asocial, mind you. I'm a much happier person if I have people to talk to. I get creative gestalt from it. (And I've been socialised/nurtured to really value family life with relatives, so if I know somebody long enough, I eventually start counting them as Family.)

The social anxiety side comes into play though. My extrovert tendancies get me into situations where I start second-guessing myself: Do I talk too much? OMG who says that sort of thing outloud, shut up, Lis, shut up, shut up, shut up! Go hide! Oh, wait, you like THAT TOPIC! Oh, that person has an interesting face, it would be fun to sketch them. Oh, crap, that person I like is WRONG. Do I tell them they are WRONG? I better not, I want them to like meeeeeeee! But that's wrong, letting somebody labour under a false apprehension, you better tactfully correct them. Tact, you? HAH! Keep your mouth shut! Oh wait, different topic, okay, whew. Let it slide. Maybe send them a nice email later. Wait, what did you ask me? Fuck! Oh, yes, I am totally over that. You too? NICE! Let's bond! New besties!

It's like living with your emotions tethered on a bungee cord--if the balance between extroversion and introversion slips, you are all over the sky.

All that to introduce this link. Hah. http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/frustrating-things-about-being-an-extrovert

Guilty of: 2 (needing to talk out upset with 3 different people) 4 (blurting out thoughts) 6 (more shame?) 7 (needy? not really, please let me love you!) 9 (but only if I don't have my Nook, sketchbook or photoshop) 11 (I don't talk in meetings mostly but I do talk everywhere else) 12, 13, 14, 15 (yep, yep, yep, yep) 17 (yes, I have I need to be around people days) 19 (I love yoga and meditation, but it is hard to calm the monkey mind) 21 (so sorry, introverts!) 22 (in my case, too weird) 23 (yep. I also get separation anxiety at the end of parties, events, leaving the fucking room. At GP I tagged along to the docks.) 24 (I don't wonder, I know. I have to reacquaint self with inside voice)

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