my baby's in the white fluffy clouds

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1st September 2014

8:48am: request for assistance: HES/clinical psych programs in Boston area?
Hi again y'all!

A friend of mine just moved to Boston and is considering various clinical psych MA programs in the area, particularly through Harvard Extension School's digital program. Does anyone have suggestions, advice, or resources to pass on regarding either of those things? I don't know anything personally but I know some folks here have experience with both clinical psych and HES. :)

Thanks!

-r.

This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/131752.html.

28th July 2014

8:50pm: a post that is not a tasklist!!
Life is pretty good! Here are some updates that were too large to send to Twitter! It’s an exclam day! I'm vaguely sick but I took cold medicine so I'm still enthusiastic and excitable and a bit loopy!
  • Magic: I’m playing Magic! I meant not to get into it super seriously, but I got recruited into a team, cardagain.com, and now I’m editing for their website and sponsored to play in major events. Oops! It’s super fun, and while if you don’t play Magic you don’t care, we recently got Travis Woo as a writer, and you can see a cool new article of his here! If you like it and want to share it around that would be awesome too I guess? I dunno, I'm terrible at social media. cardagain wants to be, like, magiccards.info plus tcgplayer when we grow up, and some of the features (visual decklists sorted by CMC) are already very cool.
  • Computers: The Homestuck Shipping World Cup kind of took up a hobby slot this summer. I don’t really care about the event at this point, and didn’t really participate as a fan, but I’m on the mod team, and did almost all of the coding. I feel like a way more proficient programmer than six months ago. Not _good_, but proficient, which feels nice. I can take python and sqlite and make them do things that someone might want software to do. It’s been very confidence boosty, and I _finally_ learned git. I’ve also gotten to play sysadmin, since it’s all hosted off of my server. I originally planned this as a way to have a record of me being able to do things with computers if I lost my job, but…
  • Work: I was worried I might lose my job because the work I had been doing was kind of drying up, but instead, I got promoted into new responsibilities! I’m doing new and different stuff, which is really refreshing! I’m not good at it and that’s mostly great because I get to learn things but it’s occasionally terrifying!
  • Therapy: I’ve been doing the therapy thing again after all the horrible bullshit from a year or two back. In the past I used to do mean things to future rax, and in the more recent past, I started doing nice things for future rax, and that’s treated me very well for the last few years. Right now I’m trying to figure out doing nice things for past rax. It’s super cool. It’s definitely hard and going to stay hard and… intersects with some kind of spirituality in weird ways I haven’t figured out yet? I dunno. I’ll talk more about that if I figure it out, maybe.
  • Travel: Has been awesome!!! So many wonderful people and I get to see them in so many wonderful places, between Boston and SF and Seattle and random road trips from those places and so on and so forth. (Also, I edited /home/rax/random-text/people-history/people-i-have-kissed for the first time in a long time, and it was great. <3)
  • Music: Has taken a bit of a back seat! But I’m getting back in the groove and have two DJ sets in September and one or two in November and I’ve already started working on them because it remains _super fun_.

That’s about it. Hope y’all are doing wel! This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/130347.html.

7th July 2014

8:17pm: Trans Slurs, Rax Liking Post-Structuralism A Lot, And Some Articles From Twitter
Okay, so. This isn't super honed but I have to pack to be on a plane at 6 AM so I'm posting it as is.

yes this is about that halberstam articleCollapse )
footnotes as alwaysCollapse )
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/129994.html.

30th April 2014

11:24pm: no phone EDIT: PHONE
EDIT: HAVE PHONE WILL TRAVEL FUCK EVERYTHING SEE YOU AT ROAST <3

Lost my phone between the airport and Ruth's house. It's probably in the cab? I don't know where else it would be? I called the cab company and asked and they hung up on me, and I had someone text the phone with my email address and an offer of money. I think other than calling the cab company back tomorrow morning and hoping to get someone who's less of an asshole, that's about what I can do? It looks like there are other things I could have done if I had thought of this in advance?

I would really, really not like to get another phone right now.

I guess I should check outside and then go to sleep.

Edited to add: It rang a bunch, then twice it rung once or twice and then hung up, then it went back to ringing forever. Someone found it and silenced it. Whether they'll contact me or not, I don't know. :(

This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/128223.html.

25th March 2014

3:46pm: Not going to Boston
Hi all! I'm not taking my planned trip to Boston this week. If you were expecting to see me, sorry. :(

boring reasonsCollapse )

I'll probably be there for Steer Roast (beginning of May) but I'm not committing/booking flights at this point. Also, there are baby bunnies in my yard. BABY BUNNIES THEY ARE SO ADORABLE. I am terrible at taking pictures of things but I will see what I can do. They might be more adorable than the baby quails from last year. I haven't decided yet.
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/126788.html.

8th December 2013

3:21pm: Totally nailed it
The CGR set wasn't perfect, but it was flawed in an excited-to-get-better kind of way and not an embarrassed or ashamed kind of way. I think it's worth listening to, maybe you will too? Here's a link. The other sets were awesome too, and hopefully the other DJs remembered to record them. We even had a brief Speed DJing session at the end where I quickly warped six tracks and played/mixed them live, though Ableton crashed during the sixth one so I didn't get it recorded. :/ To everyone who came, thanks for coming and I hope you had a wonderful time, and to everyone who didn't, thanks for supporting me through this. :D

If you're curious, tracklist under the cut:

RAX'S CATGIRL GOTH RAVE SET 2013 YOCollapse )

"FUCKING ANNOYING PHONE SONG" is something we found on Napster by that name in 2000. I've never been able to figure out what it is by searching on lyrics or words from the samples or anything. It is a secret to everybody, but it is a surprisingly danceable secret.



This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/123748.html.

7th December 2013

12:43pm: why this CGR is a big emotional deal for me
Every year Catgirl Goth Rave is a pretty big deal for me, and y'all who don't go probably get annoyed with me for posting about it, emailing about it, &c. so often. For me and for a lot of people who attend it's a chance to see a lot of friends in a type of environment I don't often get to spend time in, and to have friends share artistic/musical creations and, increasingly, traditions with each other. (I think everyone spends at least some time watching Kim's ridiculous video loop, which was first made for, like CGR 3?) But this year is especially a big deal for me, and I can tell because I'm alternating between bouncing hopelessly and kinda freaking out, and I want to share why to combination share myself/steel myself/understand through writing. Once I'm done with this post I'm going to go find something spicy and hearty to eat, then it will be SETUP MODE followed by PARTY MODE followed by SLEEP MODE.

This year I am DJing. I am learning to DJ for this party, and it will be the first time I've played music in front of other people in any significant way in like... fifteen years? Maybe only thirteen. "A long time." I had a pretty hardcore music education as a kid, getting steeped in music theory as well as reaching a pretty high proficiency level on a number of instruments (violin, piano, voice, tuba...) --- this is one of the tremendous gifts my parents gave me. Unfortunately it came along with one of their tremendous ungifts.

cut for vague-ish descriptions of abuseCollapse )

I've tried to get over this a bunch of times, between occasional plucking away at a bass while listening to music and trying to start a band with friends and having all of one rehearsal and keeping a tuba in my cramped dorm room for years while basically never touching it and all manner of other things. None of them took; I couldn't do it. I actually bought the equipment and software that I'm going to use to DJ tonight in order to try getting over this with electronic composition, which hasn't worked for me yet, but has a little for my brother.  Two things are different this time:
  • I'm back in therapy dealing with other abuse, and weirdly (or maybe not-so-weirdly), that's helped me manage my feelings around this and take care of myself while also pushing myself.
  • I'm doing this for CATGIRL FUCKING GOTH RAVE --- I'm not doing this (just) for me, I am doing this as a gift to all of my friends.
Typically the gift I've given is finding a bunch of real DJs and getting them to entertain my friends, and running all of the logisitics, because that's the sort of thing I genuinely like doing. This year, for a host of reasons, there weren't enough people to make music, and for a while I was worried we wouldn't really have anyone at all. Luckily a couple of good friends are back to spin, and I'm filling in a slot --- at 10 PM tonight, I'm going to get in front of a bunch of people I care about, and share music with them, and after the party's over, I'm going to upload it, and share it with all of you, mistakes and all, and if you take the time to listen to it, I hope you enjoy it.

And if, after I'm done, I find myself on the floor crying, this time it won't be because I'm afraid. <3
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/123403.html.

18th November 2013

3:53pm: It wouldn't be a CGR invite if it weren't late.
Remember, remember, the 7th December, [0]
    Catgirls, glowsitcks, and goth.
No justification why catgirl goth ravin'
    Should ever be forsought.

Short version: CATGIRL GOTH RAVE NINE / address in friends-locked post / doors at 9 / wear cat ears dress goth / volunteers wanted [1] / invite individuals / ask before passing on to groups / party theme: UNDOMESTICATION

Long version:

Returning Catgirl Goth Rave to its ancestral home in Boston offers us an opportunity to re-examine the founding principles of the occasion and our positionality with regard to them. Have these principles changed? Have we changed? While the history of such an event is important and there is value to keeping a line of continuity, we should also examine the possibility that bending or forking our collective line of flight may be the best way to proceed. In light of this possibility, I offer this digression on the concept of UNDOMESTICATION, particularly as applied to the cat/girl identification presented in the event's name.

The catgirl plays on tropes of femininity, vulnerability, and cuteness in order to establish agency and power --- balancing the double domestication of female and feline against the allure and intimidation of the feral unknown. I've found this position exceptionally useful in a number of contexts. It's allowed me to smooth the edges of my gender traditions, it's made it easier to enforce boundaries in social situations while feeling safe, it's made my sex life infinitely more interesting. Perhaps most importantly, in the context of this missive, it's allowed for a rockin' party entering its ninth year.

Domesticated animals behave in ways that are, for them, childlike and significantly more open to social hierarchy. Neither of these things is automatically bad, but it's worth considering the ways in which we, partially, domesticate ourselves, and whether those actions always serve our needs and desires. Domestication --- the taming of the Little Prince's fox, growing comfortable in a particular family structure, holding out a hand so that the neighbor's cat will let us pet them --- is about shifting boundaries from one state to another. When we are domesticated, consensually or otherwise, the boundaries between us and other entities are altered. Are they being altered in ways that we want them to be? How do we balance the possibilities and the dangers of mutual vulnerability?

For me personally, the challenge is in feeling empowered to sheathe or loose my claws, in learning the difference between my nervous and comforable purrs by taking the time to listen to myself, in understanding my own desires enough to own the domestication I want and reject the domestication that hinders me. I have some idea how this works for others, but everyone has their own metaphor-space, their own relationship to power structures, their own desires. What does undomestication offer to you?

Want to dance about it with me?

<3,

-r.

[0] The Fifth of November, Observed
[1] We'll need folks at the door, running the bar, and if you're interested in contributing music or art, please get in touch! This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/122683.html.

30th September 2013

2:31pm: I can... eat... food?
One of two things has happened:
  1. I can eat nightshades again, due to some bizarre change in my GI system over the last threeish years. Thank my doctor for pushing me to try again I guess?
  2. It only looks like I've been able to eat nightshades for the last two weeks, and sometime in the next few days I will literally explode.
I'm rooting for 1. I would be able to eat at restaurants again.
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/121263.html.

7th September 2013

7:38am: Brief recommendations for things
A few recommendations for things while I procrastinate!

LJ/DW ICONS: A friend of mine, [personal profile] armaina , is doing a Free Icon Day, where you can get a free black and white icon of you[r character] drawn for the 100x100 LJ/DW format. If you tip, the icon's in color! If enough people play, then everyone's icon is in color even if you didn't tip! It's like a kickstarter, except free if you want it to be, and instead of getting mailed a video game in two years in theory you get a little picture of yourself in like two weeks in actuality. Feed your vanity! Feed [personal profile] armaina ! Click the link. :P

PESTO SAUCE: Oh my god y'all there's a company in SoCal called BasilTops that makes vegan organic hydroponic pesto sauce, and you can order from them online and they ship you a bunch of pesto and all of their flavors are awesome. Well, all of their vegan flavors that aren't the spicy one at least, since those are the only ones I have tried. :) Of the three varieties I've had from them online, my favorite is the hempseed --- there's something really nice about the flavor and texture of it --- but they're all delicious. Krinn found a vegan Chia Seed variety locally once, which was really good, but you can't get it online and also I haven't been able to find it again in Tucson? Perhaps it was just an illusion designed to whisk me away into a world of PESTO ON EVERYTHING. (seriously I have tried pesto on a lot of things you should not try pesto on okay)

ALMOND MEAL: Okay so I'm trying this be gluten-free for two weeks thing at the advice of my doctor and one week in I am pretty sure that being gluten-free is not getting me anything? But I've been baking anyway, and my god is almond meal awesome. The pie crusts I've been making aren't as structural as I would like, though I'm trying xanthan gum next, but if you're making a strudel or crumble topping or whatever the heck you call it when you mix flour and nuts and sugar and spices and lipids and put it on top of a baked good and it's awesome? I think I like almond meal better than flour. Also the fact that I can take ground nuts and turn them into a pie crust and it even 90% works is so cool, food is awesome. PS almond meal is surprisingly cheap at TJs check it out yo
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/120157.html.

2nd September 2013

1:08pm: One Way Of Becoming-Animal: Furriness and Abuse
This post discusses trauma, abuse, gender, furry, and theory. It's written kinda flowery-like, but fuck it, I feel flowery. Please read it if you'd like. <3

I am become menagerie.Collapse )


footnotesCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/119997.html.

8th August 2013

9:00am: Pokemon Worlds Information
Hi all! Today I am leaving Seattle to go up to Vancouver for the Pokemon World Championships. I mostly won't be answering texts or my phone, since it will cost me money, though I'll try to keep people posted about how I'm doing. I'll post updates to Twitter (@raxvulpine) --- which I otherwise don't use --- and here when I can. The main reason to follow Twitter would be to see if I'm going to be in a featured match --- some matches will be streamed on www.twitch.tv/pokemon and if I know I'm going to get featured I will let people know. You can also see standings once the event starts Saturday at http://www.pokemonworldchampionships.com/2013/standings/ ; I am in the TCG, Masters Division.

I also got some positive press going into the event, being picked as part of a fantasy draft:

For the first time, a female player was chosen in our draft! After qualifying through the last chance tournament at US Nationals, Rachel Dillon from Arizona will be playing in this year’s World Championships (and for the Black Ballistas). Historically the Pokémon TCG has been a male dominated game, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change. Rachel did knock Jason Klaczynski out of the last chance tournament, so she’s a great player who’s on a roll.

So that's pretty awesome, although pronouns argh. Expect a post about gender, Pokemon, and competitive gaming in general when I get back.
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/118430.html.

13th July 2013

7:41am: Book Notes: Beasts; Engine Summer; Little, Big (all John Crowley)
So for a few years I've had a random three in one huge paperback thing including Beasts, Engine Summer, and Little, Big by John Crowley on the shelf, and I've always meant to read them (in my hilarious failure to read speculative fiction a few years back I went to find a book by him and ended up with The Translator [0]). The last couple of flights I brought the huge paperback with me so that I would read the novels contained therein, and I have thoughts about each of them, so I figured I would blog about it so y'all can read something that's not a tasklist. I'm not planning to reveal any endings or anything, but I will cut-tag for spoilers just in case.

Beasts: Meh.Collapse )
Engine Summer: Good.Collapse )

Little Big: Brilliant but gross.Collapse )

Little, Big got me thinking about how fairyland-as-a-parallel-to-here-accessed-though-an-endless-forest functions as a trope, though, and what it depends on. I don't think it strictly requires that most or all of the characters involved be white, although I've always seen it done that way. (Were all of the characters in The Great Night white? I forget. ^^;;) The Fae can be written many different ways, or maybe not even be there. The forest, though, seems structural; what would it look like to go through desert to get to fairyland? Arctic tundra? Ocean between islands? I suspect that different places grow different kinds of myths but I also wonder about the transposition; I spend time wandering through what feels like endless desert, and I want to know, what sort of Fairlyand would I get to if I walked in one too many circles and didn't come back out at the trailhead? The couple of books I've read like this drew really heavily on First Nations mythology, and that's potentially really interesting (and potentially really exploitative!) but not what I'm thinking of here. Has anyone put the path to Fairyland not in the forest but in the desert, or somewhere else, and seriously explored what that shift would mean? I'm kind of tempted to try, but I'm woefully underread in this genre and don't even really know where to start research.

footnotesCollapse )
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/116834.html.

7th July 2013

11:09pm: POKEMON WORLDS INVITE EARNED.
Today I earned an invite to the 2013 Pokemon World Championships in Vancouver (Aug 9-11).

HELL YES.

This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/116287.html.

26th March 2013

8:36pm: asking the internet for suggestions
I have a few problems/goals I want to ask the internet for suggestions regarding. So, hi Internet! There are a jillion things I could be doing, but these particular things are taking up a bunch of space in my head, so I want to get them resolved or at least in progress so they won't do that anymore. These issues include the emotional and the logistical.
  • I'm making awesome friends in Tucson who do not share the value with me that you should refer to people by the pronouns that those people prefer. This is obnoxious. I don't want to not be friends with them, and occasional requests for correction are doing jack all. I've been trying to present more neutrally with them so that there is some kind of physical cue, but everything I do just codes feminine or butch to them as far as I can tell. Is there something clever I can do here? If I say "I prefer they and would appreciate if you used that pronoun," they sort of nod and say yes and then just don't, and they aren't really open to talking about it. I don't expect to get it 100% of the time and that's fine, but I'd feel more comfortable with it if it happened sometimes, or if I felt I'd exhausted my options. (Maybe I'll ask Zury to pull them aside or something? I don't feel like it's done much good coming from me.)
  • I have this water feature --- a little circulating pond and waterfall thing --- and it's full of nasty plant gunk and algae and whatnot such that the thing is kind of clogged and also gross. That's fine, I can clean it! But... how? My current plan is to drain it, let it dry, sweep it out, pull stuff out with gloved hands if necessary, and then fill it back up. This feels pretty reasonable, but how do I drain a pond? I am considering some sort of shopvac, but I don't know what kind to get --- I probably want something where I can just suck up the water and let it go into the ground, not have to fill the tank, empty it out, fill the tank, empty it out a billion times. Who do I even ask this question? A hardware store? (I can't redirect the pump I already have elsewhere because the piping is all underground... I think. I should doublecheck that when it's not dark out.)
  • How stupid of an idea is a king-size bed? (I have a lifestyle that occasionally but not often calls for three people sleeping in a single bed, or I would not evenbe considering this.) If it's not stupid, how expensive of an idea is it? I'm used to platform beds with futon mattresses, and knew how to shop for those mostly, but then Dream On Futon in Cambridge closed and it turns out all I know how to do is buy things from them that are good and buy things from Amazon that look good but are actually kind of shitty. It's not even that I expect the Internet to have the answer to the question "what bed do I want, if any" --- that's a synthesizing-information thing that I'm good at --- but I don't even know where to start. Bonus points for things that aren't "go somewhere where people will try to sell me something," although I guess at some point if I decide I want to upgrade I will need to patronize an establishment and disburse funds.
  • I think I answered this last one with a duckduckgo search, so nevermind.
Thanks for reading, even if you don't have any suggestions. :)
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/113308.html.

12th February 2013

8:01am: bloggable bits
Random things:
  • This morning Krinn convinced me not to write a mail client with the most effective threat I have ever had made to me. (Recently our office mail server upgraded, and while in theory getting new webmail and access to Apple Mail and Outlook 2012 should make things better, each of those three clients has some critical flaw I can't chase down that makes me have to run a minimum of two of them at all times. I now understand why people write mail clients.) She said: "If you try to write a mail client, all of your Shaymins will stop smiling." I think I actually gasped. The image is SO SAD. Good work, Krinn. <3
  • I dreamt last night about being part of a band that did abstract process-as-performance shows where we dragged beanbag chairs on stage and had shitty rehearsals at various venues. It was awesome. I think the other members of the band were punk kids from our Pokemon league and from Albuquerque's. If no one has done this schtick yet, someone should. *finger on nose*
  • [personal profile] rushthatspeaks 's blog (and in particular this book review) got me thinking about generation ships --- which, if I understand correctly, are giant spaeships meant to serve as a habitat for many generations of human as they go off to colonize some new planet. I mean, I have never actually read a book or really consumed any media that used generation ships, because I'm a very sporadic consumer of science fiction, but the idea in and of itself makes sense and has some plausibility benefits over AND THEN THEY WOKE UP FROM CRYOSTASIS ON "EARTH, BUT WITH CAT PEOPLE" or what have you. What it did get me thinking about was Lyotard's essay "Can Thought Go On Without A Body?," which I am pretty sure is in The Inhuman. He talks about the difficulty of producing machines capable of thought, with the idea of sending them outside of the sphere of influence of the sun so that  thought will persist after the sun explodes/implodes/whatever. The reason he thinks it wouldn't work is that machines don't have gender --- that is, some difference between some fo them that has an almost religious inscrutability and implies the imbrication of the other with the self. Or something, I'm butchering his argument. The point is, if I take that argument at face value, I actually think generation ships could be the cure for gender, if that inscrutable difference as expressed in the people on the generation ship was the difference between the people who did and didn't stay on Earth. Maybe? I dunno. Been chewing on it, figured I'd share. (Also: Does gender need a cure? "Curing gender" is not unproblematic, but boy are there some interesting thought experiments and maybe stories in here. Haha. "Boy." GENDER WHY)
  • It turns out I can make fairly spicy lentil curry by just milling good black pepper into it until my arms are tired and then asking someone else to do the same. :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D I have been trying and failing to make reasonable curry since losing nightshades from my diet, and apparently the trick was to start from an Ethiopian recipe and modify, rather than starting from an Indian one? Once I've got it at "I know what I'm doing" I will post a recipe or something.
  • I hate to do anything that even comes off as complaining about weather when I know a number of my friends are still stuck under snowdrifts, but on Sunday Rik and I walked for five miles or so and it was cold enough with the wind that my legs were covered in hives. Stupid cold allergy, and arguably, stupid me for walking five miles in shorts in February. It seems mostly better although my calves are still itchy as all get out, and while this is mostly not a huge deal I scratch in my sleep. :( I think as fashion disastery as this is, the best solution I have without spending money might be shorts, leg warmers, and sandals. ... ... ... how does one go about selecting good hiking pants? I don't know how to garment.
  • There's still a long-form life update email... coming... soon... ish? Hope y'all are doing well!
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/111367.html.

12th November 2012

9:13am: I am alive.
Today we're going to be talking about what it's like coming out of the hole I was in!

For a while I blamed the hole entirely on grad school but that's not entirely fair. I was already pretty fucked up when the first PhD program started, from a few things. First, the MA program, while not as stressful/bad for me as the PhD programs by far, was a lot of work, and that whole thing where my advisor refused to read my thesis or show up to my thesis defense was pretty bad. Second, the whole moving-to-Indiana thing (not helped by leaving a year later) was pretty draining and was kind of the worst a move could have gone without technically being entirely successful: no one was injured, no significant objects were broken or lost, no major unexpected costs were incurred. And yet. Then there was the dissolution of my relationship with Cassandra, which, well. I am going to continue (and make spoken) my unspoken policy of not talking about it publically on the Internet, but it made me very sad for a very long time and in some ways I am still recovering. I do not regret it, but I do regret that it was the right choice.

Which is remarkably like how I feel about leaving school.

When I left, I expected that things would get better, and then they would get worse, and then they would gradually get actually better again. I had the general gist of it right, but it turns out that I misunderstood just how poorly I was doing. I did in fact have a rush of energy for a few days, and then plunge into a hole of "oh god all of the things I have been putting off indefinitely are still real and still problems and they are my problems and I cannot escape them by working on grad school anymore." That was ugly for a while and I was worse for longer than I expected. I'm still not done, but I can tell that I'm doing better, weirdly, by noticing myself doing things that a few years ago would have been signs I was slipping down from where I wanted to be:
  • actually taking time for myself to just fuck off (more on this later)
  • putting every single little five-minute task on my tasklist
  • isolating myself from other people more than usual
  • caring an unproductive amount about cleanliness/organization
  • a couple of other things that aren't important to this blog post
Right now though these are all improvements. I've been doing things that I've wanted to do since I moved here --- there is now a working hot tub in my yard, and after today the circulating pond next to it should work as well. The leak in the irrigation system is (a) found and (b) getting fixed. (That was a huge pain, it was hidden in this really random place and only came on at 4 AM and ugh. I happened to wake up ridiculous stupid early one morning and realize "wait why does it sound like it is raining when I go to do dishes at 4 AM because I am a weirdo.") The house is clean...ish. (Waaaaaaaaaaaay better than it was.) Today, assuming the ibuprofen I'm about to take I just took fixes this weird headache, I'll be putting up shelves, reorganizing my Shaymin collection, and starting to put up art in rooms that aren't the dining room. I've lived here for how long and a lot of my favorite art is still sitting on the floor next to the walls I want to put it on? More than a year? Yeah fuck that. I'm nesting, yo. It is avian as shit up in here.

Also I make kombucha now (anyone local want a SCOBY?). And am starting to do hikes with a lot of vertical in them instead of just flat ones. And am starting to cook interesting things again. And am still making a play to qualify for the Pokemon World Championships in the summer. And all of this is good.

The thing where in the evening after dinner I pretty much do whatever I want and don't feel obligated to be productive is really nice. I've been reading, talking to friends, playing silly games (including the occasional "Watch Rax Beat Some Old NES Game In One Sitting" in the living room, which is hilarious --- I might give the Zelda Second Quest a shot someday soon if I feel like it), sitting in the hot tub, cleaning things up in a leisurely way... It's really nice. I'm not sure this is actually bad. I do think it's important that as I pick up projects and work I care about, that it take up some of this time. But right now I am recovering, and part of the work of recovering is to chill the fuck out. And that's really, really good.
I have to decide in the next couple of weeks whether or not to permanently withdraw from grad school. I'd hoped that I would be able to take one or two extra classes and get an MA, but it turns out I'd have to take like four, because of UA's transfer credit rules. That's annoying --- between UA and IU I have enough or more than enough classes for an MA at either university --- but I cannot get one at either. Luckily I already have an MA, and while a second one would be nice, I don't need it. What I value the most is what I've learned. I went to grad school to make myself a better person and hopefully to make the world a better place. I don't think grad school is a useful way to do either of those, for me, anymore; I've learned a lot but I experientially know that this program, and the last one, made me worse off in more ways than they did better, and I don't think I was doing the rest of the world any favors by being there either. I should move on, let someone else have the funding slot who needs the money, read books on my own, and continue my scholarship in a different way.

So... yeah. That's the last while in a nutshell. How are y'all doing? <3

This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/109340.html.

5th November 2012

10:29am: catgirl goth rave: December 8th, 2012
Catgirl Goth Rave VIII will be either December 7th or 8th, 2012, in San Francisco. Probably the 8th but there may be shenanigans. If the difference between those two is likely to matter to you, please let me know now. SHENANIGANS AVERTED.

Hope to see some of you there! <3

(more content for people not able/willing to travel to SF in December later) This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/109243.html.

25th September 2012

9:46am: northern california navigation help
So I'll be in NorCal Oct 11-16, staying in the Mission, I won't have time to see everybody I'd like to but would love to see some folks and say hi. (Drop me a line!)

On Saturday and perhaps Sunday, I'll need to get down to the Santa Clara fairgrounds (344 Tully Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95111) for Pokemon Regionals, where I'll be competing. Gmaps tells me the only way to get there is to leave the previous night, because Caltrain doesn't run (early enough) on weekends, but a helpful Pokécquaintance suggested BART to Fremont, VTA 181, VTA 73 to get there. It's like a two and a half hour trip, but whatever, I can live with that. (I have rediscovered reading novels! It is boss!) If I have to do it two days in a row that will suck (winners advance to play on Sunday) but I can probably cajole a hotel floor out of someone on Saturday night if I am winning.

My question to y'all who actually live there is: Is there something I am missing, either something better that neither the person nor Google knows, or is there something Google knows that I don't that means the VTA route won't work? I can't find any reason for that, but when multiple sources disagree I get nervous and look for expertise.

Also, if you're in northern CA and think this sounds amusing, you're welcome to come along, I'll even provide you a deck to play and teach you the basics. :::;D

Thanks!

This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/108124.html.

29th August 2012

4:41pm: out.
Just left graduate school. Still have to do some paperwork but that's it. I will have the option of returning next semester, but most likely won't.

Apparently the amount of time that I am willing to work full-time and attend school full-time is: Five years and one week. You know what, that's pretty fucking good. I'll take it. There are things that would be worth burning myself down further for. This program is not one of them

To do:
  • paperwork to finalize leaving
  • drown self in pokemon over weekend
  • spend some time making my house the place I am living in and not the place I am surviving in
  • ???
I'm not glad this was the right thing to do. But it was the right thing to do, and I'm glad I did it.

This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/106997.html.

28th August 2012

7:42pm: Rhizomes, Databases, and Heidegger
The title makes this sound boring, but bear with me. It's going to be ridiculous and really boring instead. Also I am submitting this as homework but I am writing it primarily for this audience and my class can deal with it. (Also this is an attempted edited version from what I posted last night, particularly in the last two paragraphs.) So:

Deleuze and Guattari, in their introduction to A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, discuss three different ways of organizing knowledge (and thus of organizing the world): the arborescent model, the radicle system, and the rhizome. The arborescent model is like a tree, growing from a trunk into a branching structure. The radicle system works like the part of a seed from which all of the roots grow --- there is one point of articulation from which everything else is developed. The rhizome is, well, a rhizome --- while it sends out occasional roots or stems, all of the parts of the rhizome are just rhizome, and do what they do. (Ginger root is not actually a root and is a good example of a rhizome. If you cut parts of it off, the edge will turn into edge. It all just... gingers.)

In trying to understand this and what I might be able to do with it, I started thinking about data structures. The arborescent model is a common way to construct a data structure; you start from some point, and then fork in two directions, and each of those points can fork in two directions, and so on. You can even have points fork in more than two directions if you want, but the way you move through the data structure is to traverse the tree and get to individual nodes of data (which I think are even called leaves if they terminate, but it's been a long time since my intro CS class). This makes certain types of searches incredibly fast/efficient because you can make certain assumptions about the way the data is organized --- at my job, our secret sauce database is based on this kind of structure --- but relies on having the entirety of the structure to work. If you disrupt the tree, the relationships between the leaves, and thus most of the leaves themselves, are inaccessible.

The radicle system strikes me as more like a lookup table or dictionary. The radicle itself contains paths to all of the pieces of knowledge within it, so you can say radicle[key] and you will get the value of that key. If you take a segment of the radicle system away, one of two things can happen. If your segment includes the radicle, you at least know what information you are missing, because you will have connections to some values and not to others. If you lose the radicle in your cross-section, you just have arbitrary data points floating without context, which may or may not help you at all. (There isn't much reason to take a random cross-section of a database that I know of, but we'll get to why this matters in the Heidegger part.) The radicle system is also called the "fascicular root" and D&G connect it to fascism because of the way power is bundled in one place (not just because of the wordplay). I don't think a hash table is fascist; that's pretty ridiculous. But the concentration of power and knowledge may be.

The rhizome, on the other hand, contains all of what's needed to generate itself in all of its parts. So every piece of the ginger knows how to send up a stalk, or put down roots. It's... sort of like self-replicating code? You can chop up the ginger and each piece of ginger will still be able to do what the ginger does. Now, they may put down roots or send up stalks in different places, but the overall algorithm doesn't changed; nothing about the organizational structure except the individual manifestation of stalk/root is changed. I'm not sure how this would be useful in a digital data structure (anyone know?) but it's interesting to D&G because of its non-hierarchical structure and lack of necessary organization. (This ties into the Body without Organs.)

Heidegger, in "The Question Concerning Technology," says a lot of really busted and technophobic things (including the ludicrous claim that a windmill does not take energy out of the wind but a turbine does out of the water, because Heidegger is wiser than all gods and scientists) but provides something useful in the idea of the standing-reserve. Essentially he criticizes modernity for treating the world around us as resources to be exploited rather than entities engaging in active being in relation to each other. He follows up on this in "The Thing," claiming that modernity/science looks at things as objects and to truly understand them we have to look at their fourfold (earth/sky, human/divine) nature and their enmeshment in all other things, particularly but not only systems of gift-giving and ritual.

When I put these things together, I don't see rhizomes versus arborescent structures; I see entities that interact in rhizomatic, radicle-ish, and arborescent ways in their complicated enmeshment, but that sometimes have a dominant form of interaction. Rhizomes put down roots; trees sometimes end up with radicles; some trees can be cut and grow from cuttings. (Tree radicles: The mesquite trees in Tucson, for example, sometimes hit a point at the end of a branch with a sort of weird nodule that has dozens of branches coming out of it. I wish I had a picture, it's kinda freaky.) The body without organs --- the rhizomatic space, smoothness --- cannot be achieved, it can only be approximated. Even as rhizomes we have to put roots down to get nutrients, extend up flowers to reproduce, and those connect us to the world in non-rhizomatic ways. Organization is required for haecceity, or roughly (I still don't quite get this concept either), the distinguishment of one thing from everything else.

How I read D&G suggests that we need to not grow too attached to those connections, continuing to produce new and different connections rather than letting the stalks that provide for the flowers turn into trees or the roots turn into fascism. At the same time they're not suggesting the disconnect that upsets Heidegger so much --- in particular, their chapter on the war machine argues against the standing-reserve when it emphasizes the nomad's connections to and relationships with both the literal stuff of earth and to the State. The nomad figure's pack nature calls attention to the figure's multiplicity, but also to its internal replicability; if you separate part of a nomadic pack and put it somewhere else, it will keep doing what it does in a different context, just like lifting part of a river and putting it somewhere else will still produce a river, but one that looks different because of its relationship to different grooves and channels in the ground. In this way taking a cross-section of a nomadic pack is more rhizomatic than taking a cross-section of the State (or of a database).

I'm still trying to work out exactly how to make this useful. Thoughts?

This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/106645.html.

30th July 2012

2:16pm: Readercon: This Isn't The Only Reason Not To Go.
If you don't care about Readercon, you can safely ignore this post. If you're not sure if you care, Readercon is a small books-focused convention held in the Boston area that I used to attend and spent a year on the committee for. They are currently getting a lot of negative publicity because of a sexual harassment case that they chose to violate their policy in handling. You can read their statement here and the comments have most of the context. If you want more context, there's plenty out there on the Internet; you can start from this great summary.

A few of my friends and a bunch of strangers have been posting about how this makes them unwilling to attend, or deeply conflicted about attending, Readercon. I've felt that way for multiple years at this point, but haven't said anything publically, both because I didn't want to start drama and because it just felt like too much to actually talk about this shit. I think it's important to bring this up now, not because the sexual harassment and safety issues aren't more important --- they are --- but because I know some of you are on the fence about attending Readercon, especially a Readercon organized by the current board. I am telling you this story because I want you to get off the fence, and not attend a Readercon organized by the current board.
And here is why.Collapse )


footnotes, because I do thatCollapse )
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/105421.html.

7th July 2012

8:59am: My gender is cactus.
A while back I complained about wanting to replace my gender with a set of outward-facing spikes. I've been feeling prickly, wanting the space between me and other people to be delineated and defended, and some of that prickliness has been about gender. I've also been bonding with the desert, and spending time (though not as much as I'd like) among cacti and thorny trees and tiny flowers and birds and lizards. And I realized that... actually cactus works way better than male or female as a gender for me. It's a little tongue in cheek, but I mean, look at this. Cacti:
  • care more about sunlight and water and safety than appearances, but still blossom in (bright pink, for many species) flowers when they feel like it
  • are covered in spines to protect them from being consumed, but need the touch of the animals that know how to interact with them safely (particularly but not only for reproduction)
  • won't hurt you if you don't hurt them!
  • move between periods of relative stasis and calm and very sudden changes in shape and size depending on the resources available to them
  • are perfectly comfortable when birds nest in them --- sometimes literally inside them, in the case of cacti like the saguaro --- and keep those new spaces opened up in them for other animals to live in when the first occupants move out
  • over time, develop patches that are smoother and safe to touch, but only for those who take the time to tell the difference
  • are simple in construction yet labyrinthine on the inside (seriously, look at this blog post I found, unless you are one of those people squicked by fractal structures full of holes, in which case NEVER LOOK INSIDE A CACTUS)
Seriously though, doesn't that make sense? This makes so much more sense to express my social and sexual relations than the gender binary I'm expected to be using. To be clear, I don't identify as a cactus --- if nothing else, I travel far too much --- but I find it a very useful metaphor, so I'm rolling with it. (Normally I wouldn't feel the need to be explicit about something like that, but since I am a fox and saying that isn't really any more believable than claiming cactushood, I figure it's best to be clear.) When I finally get whiskers, I can call them my thorns, too. =^_^=

Randomly: I made a comment about this at Anthrocon, and "#gendercactus" briefly became a twitter meme among bronies, though it appears to be out of Twitter's search cache at this point so I guess it didn't have staying power. Zury joked that I had managed to hit zero-day appropriation.
This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/104477.html.

17th May 2012

7:12am: state of the rax!
So first of all it is pretty great to start my mornings to wake up at 5:30ish, work for an hour, and then go take a one to two mile walk, and then go back to work. Like, seriously. This lifestyle, I like it, even though it is ludicrously wholesome; it is just too warm for extended walking in the afternoon when I am done with work at 2:30 or so. Well, technically, Rik and I went out a couple of times even though it was in the 90s and did long walks, but we brought a ton of water and also I was kinda zonked afterwards. A mile or two in the morning is refreshing and almost upwaking like a shower would be, which is pretty great. I don't know if I will be able to spare the time for this when I am in school again, but on the other hand going to school gives me structured exercise in the process of biking there, so probably it is okay? And I will still have weekends.

I just got back from Boston, where my schedule looked like this:
  • Attend the first day of Steer Roast. (a party thrown by my old dorm every year, which does involve roasting a steer but I completely ignore that part; alums way older than me, as well as a lot of friends of mine from ten years ago, come back into town and we all hang out and it's awesome)
  • Skip the second and third days of Steer Roast to work on final papers.
  • Attend a conference for work, taking a training for advanced users of a software package I had never seen before; this was both really challenging and really rewarding, in that I mostly caught up enough to get a lot out of the training, even though there would be a lot more work to do if I were going to deploy this thing. But I have books, and a dev environment set up on my machine!
  • Spend two days catching up on work, seeing a small fraction of the people I would have liked to see, and having an extremely pleasant Providence double-date with my girlfriend, her wife, and her wife's girlfriend, during which we concluded that the worldBoston is extremely small as we all knew all of the others' friends in like four different ways.
  • Spend the greater part of the weekend bridesqueering [0], including both fun parties and a bunch of carrying stuff, and helping to make sure two of my dear friends wed without troubles.
  • When I wasn't doing that, three(!!!) people drove in to see me from different states, which was pretty amazing. [personal profile] larky  even did my nails! [1]
Okay so that was the Boston trip. Now I have this whole summer stretching out in front of me where all I have to do is work my job. I have a bunch of things planned, of course, but none of them are for school, and that is amazing. (I'll be talking about school in a different post.) My plans include doing some art, meeting more people in Tucson by actually going to events and doing activities [2], traveling a bunch (another wedding, Anthrocon, Pokémon Nationals, seeing Rik, work might send me to Singapore?), continuing to groove on how awesome living with [personal profile] krinndnz  has been, reading books that are not assigned by a professor, and spending a lot of time out in the desert. This plan is, I argue, pretty awesome.

In a bunch of ways I am still kind of getting back into my own head after the debacle that was my year in Indiana. There were awesome things there --- I met some great people, I learned a lot of things, I feel like some aspects of my lifestyle changed for the better --- but between the breakup and the overwork and the comparative loneliness, I sort of worked my way out of my head to go live somewhere more nebulous, and that's not actually what I want. One of the things I'm trying to do both in my academic practice and in my practice of living is to take myself more seriously as part of the process of taking others more seriously. It's had really interesting effects on how I think about species, which obviously is part of my academic project but at least as importantly affects how I interact with myself on a day to day basis. I'm not quite sure how to express this yet other than it's good. But... it's good? It's good.

Any of y'all have exciting summer plans? :)

[0] Bridesqueering: Like being a bridesmaid, a bridesmatron, a bridesman, or a bridesmotherfucker, but with one's gender or marital status expressed as some combination of "none of the above" and "none of your business." Unrelated to bridequeering, where you try to get the bride to make out queerly at the bachelorette party.

[1] You can see an awful picture here. It looks better in person, but even in this photo you can tell it matches my color scheme, and color scheme trumps gender stereotypes for what I do with my appearance, so I will probably keep doing this.

[2] other than Pokémon ^^;;

This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/102445.html.

23rd April 2012

6:10pm: not dead, I swear
As of this morning I have no homework left for the semester except for my two final papers. Now that's a pretty major except, but they're not due until May 8th or so and I expect each one to take me maybe 30 hours total, so that's not actually too bad. I feel like I can at least sort of breathe, and that's nice. I even care about both of my final paper topics! I'm writing about the connection between Junot Díaz's Drown and Dubliners for one class, and writing about commissioning furry porn as part of identity work for the other. It's actually super exciting to be writing a paper that (a) isn't about furries, because while I love furries we are not the only important thing in the universe, and (b) will let me take advantage of my background in Joyce studies without being nothing but a deeper and deeper delve into stories that have been around for a hundred years. I am really excited, y'all. This is awesome. ...we'll see if I am still excited when it is May 7th and they kick me out of the Diesel at 11 PM and I am like "WHY AM I STILL WRITING FINAL PAPERS" but for now hooray!

I've been trying to do at least one big desert hike per week when I am in town. It's pretty awesome. I've also done a lot of other long walks lately (5.2mi today, whee!); I can walk like a half-mile north of my house and all of the sudden I can follow a trail along the wash (that's desert for "where a river would be if this weren't a desert," for those playing the home game) for like ten miles in either direction. Sure, sometimes you have to go under a road, and there are buildings along it, but there are still beautiful mountain views and cactus wrens feeding their babies inside a cactus and one time I even saw a coyote. Yesterday Rik and I wandered around the national park for a few hours. We saw a rattlesnake! All of this deserting has me skilled enough to tell a snake from a branch, but not skilled enough to tell what kind of snake; I was like "Ooh look a snake!" and it got startled and was like "Rattle rattle, motherfucker" and well that was some adrenaline! I didn't turn around, but backed up quickly until it turned and bolted and then so did we. I had read about what to do, and had looked at lists of "which snakes are dangerous," but I didn't really internalize it. Probably I should do that. That rattle is pretty terrifying, seriously.

Other than that? Uh. I dunno. I'll be in Boston 5/4 to 5/14, including for Steer Roast, and it looks like I will be at Anthrocon after all. At some point I'll be back in Seattle. I should be at Pokémon Nationals. I still love the desert. I still need more local friends. I just got a joke a friend of mine made like a week ago and it was really clever but I want to keep that cleverness to myself? ...that's not a very good blog story.

How are you all doing? What should I even be talking about here?

This entry was originally posted at http://rax.dreamwidth.org/102053.html.
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