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This started as a letter to someone, but it's good general advice to myself, and anyone else that needs to hear it.

We live within a system that is generally referred to as a kyriarchy. That system has taught all of us to perpetuate the systems of power present in it. Women are "crazy" and "bitchy." Blacks are "uppity." Poor people are "jealous" and "greedy" or just "pitiable." etc. etc. Our thoughts and language are constructed, in part, by a society that seeks to place certain people at the top by stepping on those below.

As much as I hate it, to me, it's never a question of "if" someone engages in ableist, sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. behavior. It's a question of "what" behavior a person has, and how to change it. It's not about attacking a person and calling them a ____-ist. It's about recognizing the behaviors we have that affect certain people around us disproportionately, and negatively.

To me, this is a liberating thought. Knowing that we all have these behaviors, that we're all "a little bit racist" (as the song goes) enables us to spend time LEARNING about it and changing. We can, without taking it personally, learn how to be better people, every day. Instead of using its ubiquity to dismiss it, embrace it and do a better job of changing.

To be a good ally to those that are lower than you in some axis of oppression, you need to, at least in part, be ready to be called out, (or called in). When someone tells you they're being hurt by something you're saying or doing, when it exists along this sort of axis of oppression, listen.

Yeah, it's true that sometimes, people aren't going to be right. No member of any minority group is a perfect representative of their entire group. Sometimes, people project things onto their kyriarchical oppression where it doesn't belong. But regardless, an ally should always listen to it when they're being called out in this way.

Simply put. Allies don't get it. As a white person, I'll never grok what it means to be black. I'll never fully understand the life experience of what a black person goes through in life. And any ally, on any axis, is more than likely disadvantaged when it comes to understanding how behavior can affect those they claim to support. Chances are, as an ally, you don't know what you're talking about. So shut up and listen and learn.

When you're called out. Stop and think about what is being said. Talk to other socially conscious people about it. Learn about it on the internet. Educate yourself.

But for the love of god, don't get self-righteous about how you're not ____-ist and how the person who is being hurt is mean to call you ____ist.

I still love you, LJ

You will forever be my favorite social network, even if I don't use you anymore.

Quantification is not reality

It is not inaccurate to describe me as an atheist, a skeptic, and a fan of science. I don't really "identify" with these things in any meaningful sense, since I don't feel these things define my identity so much as they describe my behavior.

I'm a fairly strong atheist, as evidenced by this: http://paradox-puree.livejournal.com/818024.html

But there's an issue with atheism. The body of people that are atheists tends to be white, male, educated, of higher income, etc. And the biases of these groups dominate the gestalt perspective of "atheism" as a group. Many prominent atheists have issues with sexism, racism, classism, etc.

Among many things, there is, amongst these folks, a belief or worship of quantifiable and verifiable truth as the highest possible virtue or value in the world. For some, all other forms of truth are irrelevant or inferior. Subjective, emotional, moral, ethical, perceptual, and mythological truth.

There is this sense that the quantifiable and verifiable aspects of reality are the only ones worth relating to. But our subjective emotional experiences are worth looking into.

When I step out under the night sky and look up at the stars, taking in a breathtaking view, you can quantify my heart rate. You can quantify my reaction. You can quantify the fact that I report certain emotional reactions. But none of that is relevant to the reaction I have, which is of a sense of connection to the vast universe that we are all a part of.

Words like "reality" or "truth" or anything like that are loaded terms. Each exists only within a set context. The objective version of reality and truth is certainly extremely important, and recognizing what happens there is vital to our happiness and success, but it is just one context within which you can evaluate the "truth" of something. Another might be one's emotional truth, or other forms of subjective truth.

Categorical errors occur often, and I think this is where issues arise. Many religious people believe their mythological or emotional truths to be objective truth. Many skeptics may focus only on what is objectively happening in a particular scenario and miss asking the question "What are people experiencing, why, and how?"

Concepts of science, objective truth, etc. are superbly useful, but they are but one tool in a large toolbox.

Life snapshot right now

My life has fallen into a fairly pleasant pattern.

Monday: Attend or host Monday Night Dinner and Games with my friends in the evening.
Tuesday: Free day for personal time, or unusual activities.
Wednesday: DM D&D with the guys
Thursday: Date night with my wife
Friday: Play D&D or free day.

One day each weekend switches back and forth between these two things:
1) Exercise/Active date with my girlfriend.
2) DM D&D with the gals

The other day is a free day for planning activities like visiting my mother in law or friends.

Not a lot of room for discovering or building *new* friendships, nor much room for exercise, but it's fun and pleasant.
Ouch. That subject is going to earn me some negative attention.

And for that, I'm sorry.

Wow, let me do my best to do damage control on that before I even launch into my essay.

I respect everyone's choices to believe what they want to believe. And I also will not get on anyone's case about what they believe. I also acknowledge that I don't know everything, and there are things I might not know or understand. I also think there's a lot of value in many religious activities, behaviors, social steps, and I don't oppose all aspects of religion.

*breathes* Okay. Let's try to dig into this.

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And the world continues to turn

I stood in the wings of the ship.

First, two people I barely knew, but SHE knew well, and I had come to know now, stepped in front of the crowd. Their swords crossed, blades clacking against one another as hard plastic weapons tend to do. Once, and then again, and a shout of violence. "HEY!" They walked forward and took their places.

Then again, two people stepped forward. One, a friend as old as can be. Another, another person SHE loved, and I had come to appreciate in our short time together. A clash, a clack. A shout. And they too walked forward to their assigned place.

Now, two of my most beloved, and HERS as well. Slowly they crept into position. Their swords clashed as the others did. One! Two! HEY! And now they too were in place.

It was my time. It was HER time. We stepped forward. CLACK CLASH HEY! We twirled around one another and again, our swords clashed, once twice, and we let forth another shout. Yet again, a third time we whirled about one another, weapons clashing and shouting. But this time, the voodoo Mamba at the stern of the ship shouted "HEY," to ask us to stop. Our parents walked up behind us, took our swords, and as a group, we walked up the aisle to be married.

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Standards of Beauty

A friend asked: When looking for potential partners, how much does physical attractiveness play a role?

I answered: " I'm very into looks.... Someone has to look excited about the world, happy about the things around them. They have to look at the things around them and think about them. They have to look at me, and like what they see. I love it when they give me looks of attraction and interest, and I love to give those to other people as well.

I'm VERY into looks like those.

In terms of physical appearance, I like people whose physical appearance tells something about them that I find appealing, like the idea that they don't give a fuck about social norms of beauty. Like bright colors to indicate they're a happy person... Colored hair to indicate a sense of artistry and creativity... geeky t-shirts that indicate they're into things that I'm into... stuff like that.

But usually, when people ask these questions, they mean "looks" in terms of how well it matches the definition of beauty as defined by white heterosexual cisgender US culture. I Don't give two shits about how well someone matches that.. In fact, the more someone matches white heterosexual cisgender US beauty norms, the less attractive I find them."


I was reading about a recent controversy involving Richard Dawkins saying describing a point about logic and comparing things. As I read about the conflict, the amount of inability of Dawkins and his detractors to understand one another across the barrier of communication was staggering. Many people completely missed what he was trying to say, and misunderstood him to a considerable degree. Meanwhile, he completely missed why everyone was upset. He condescendingly described it as an "emotional no-go areas where logic dare not show its face."

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Ethics, and morality.

What is "right?" What is "wrong?" These are questions that have plagued a lot of people, and are often used as a strong justification for the existence of absolute morality, and as a consequence, absolute knowledge. After a long time of work and study, I've settled on an epistemological system for evaluating truth and morality that works pretty well for me, for now. I'm going to talk about some of my ideas related to this. This may be a bit stream-of-consciousness-y and not necessarily the best organized thoughts. But I wanted to write it down anyways. Usually in preparation for a subsequent essay that is more focused, coherent, and correct.

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Writing more

More and more of my posts on facebook lately are getting back to "long form" writing like I used to do here. I think I might start trying to cross-post. I like being able to journal my life. And things are definitely improving.

Today's entry:

"Spent last night playing a very old school game while cuddling with Jessie. Tie Fighter! It runs GREAT in DOSbox, though you need to fiddle with the settings a bit to get the joystick to not act all wonky.

It's so great to play this sort of old game. It's like a step back into the past."

Missed writing

Gosh, I've missed writing in here. :) It's really good to be back. :)

Tap tap tap

Is this thing on?

I'm not necessarily planning to come back here just now... Just was checking in, as I'm looking around to see what's happening in the world. How are y'all doing?

Anyone still listening?

Facebook kinda sucks these days.

One journey ends...

If you haven't noticed this already, my live journal is already pretty much dead.

Yes, it's partly because of the massive exodus from LJ to Facebook/Google+/Dreamwidth/etc.

But it is also because of a lot of things happening in my life that have changed around how I use online media.

I don't know exactly why I've used LiveJournal over the years, but I can tell you some things that have been beneficial for me about it. More than anything else... talking about what's going on inside my head and having people support or approve of it has been incredibly helpful and beneficial, and God knows I've had a lot going on in my head over the past 7 years.

When I started this journal, I really lacked self-esteem. I felt disconnected from everyone and everything. I felt incompetent, incapable, and small. I felt like I didn't matter, that everything I did was shit, and that people really didn't like me; they just put up with me. My thoughts were bullshit wrong nonsense that just needed to be destroyed and ignored or something.

Having this journal, I was able to share about my thoughts and feelings to an audience, and be told that I wasn't shit. I wasn't crazy for thinking about the things I was thinking about. I wasn't a terrible person that failed at everything I did.

I also used LJ as a means by which to reach out and connect with people. I met hundreds of people from all sorts of walks of life, all with different perspectives, interests, etc. I learned so much, and explored whole avenues of thought and being as I associated with various kinds of people. I experimented in many ways, including sexuality, relationships, etc. I sought to find my own identity, especially in the face of the lack of identity that I had had previously.

In any case... it was a grand journey, and I truly adored it.

But that journey is over now. At least, that chapter is over.

My life is the best it has ever been. I am happier and more comfortable and at peace than I have ever been in my entire life. My life is by no means perfect, but it is lovely.

A huge element of this change is simply my career. In the past, I believed myself to be a terrible programmer that would never amount to anything or progress in her career. I now work at one of the most awesome companies in the world, a company that theoretically hires only the "best of the best of the best, with honors." Sometimes, I struggle with understanding why that includes me, but most of the time these days, I just accept that people think well of my engineering skills and leave it at that. I enjoy my work, and people enjoy working with me. That's good enough for me.

I've also been hugely influenced by a very different outlook on friendship. In the past, I would often think that I was just annoying everyone around me and that people were looking for an opportunity to ditch me as soon as they could. I felt that I had to please everyone as I desperately tried to keep them in my life, lest I lose them and everyone else and be alone.

Now, I've built up years of strong relationships with some wonderful people. I've got strong, close-knit friendships that have stood the tests of time and hardship, lasting 15 years, 7 years, or whatever. I continue to meet new and wonderful people that I add to that list. And... I don't try to people please like I used to. People don't like me. Fuck em. I don't like them? Fuck em. I'm not desperate to keep people in my life anymore. Yet people stick around and show me that they like me lots and lots.

And probably the third most important thing I can think of right now that is contributing to my current sense of serenity is that I am now secure in the knowledge and understanding of "What's wrong with me?" For years I tried to answer the question, "Why am I different from other people?" Trying to find the reason for the odd disconnect I felt from people. Now, I understand that it is a combination of prosopagnosia, CAPD, and being LGBT. Armed with the certainty of those three things, the majority of difficulties or oddities about my past are easily explicable.

With all of this going on... what I write about has changed considerably. You might say that my writing has gone from that of a child to that of an adult in some ways. In any case, it feels to me ill suited for livejournal, or at least, this particular journal. It feels like this is more or less the end of this journal. A fitting final story in this particular chapter of my life. Whether it really is the end of it or not is hard to say, but it feels very much like this is the terminus of this particular journey.

Of course, this *IS* the eternal journey. My journey will never end. I'm always going to be innovating and exploring ways of existing, being, etc. While I have found peace and calm in my life, and much of the struggles that have characterized the last 7 years are over... there are so many adventures to be had in the future. Not the same ones. Just different. :)

So with that... For those few left that are still listening... I bid you adieu. I hope to see you again if we cross paths in the future! :)

This is Paradox Puree... signing out. :)

...And she lived happily ever after.

To be continued...

Looking back on 2011 and forward to 2012.

Each year, I do an annual review of the previous year and talk about what's coming up for the next year.

This year I'm doing things a little differently.

2011 was... a very difficult, but extremely rewarding year of my life. Almost all of the loose ends of stuff I've been dealing with came together, and I basically just got my life in order to more or less completely.

I'm going to spend 2012 enjoying it, and sharing my happiness as best I can.

That is all.

Speech frustration

I've been frustrated by my CAPD the past few days, because it has been cropping up at work as I start on a new team. There's a guy here with a strong accent that makes it near impossible to understand him without a lot of concentration, and all the initial technical conversation is difficult to follow.

I've also been further delighted by using ASL more lately. I came up with a neat analogy to why I'm feeling better about ASL than spoken English, despite knowing English better.

Trying to understand spoken English is like trying to read some English text on a TV screen with a bad connection, causing it to be covered in static. Trying to understand ASL is more like seeing a relatively clear picture on the TV, but the text is all in Spanish.

In the analogy, I feel more comfortable with the latter situation because I can try to learn Spanish. I can't try to learn anti-static. When the static is bad, I simply can't understand what's written on the TV, or if I do, it takes incredible concentration and effort to do so.

What's additionally frustrating to me is that the "static" comes and goes. Usually, there's not much of it and I understand things just fine. But other times, the "static" increases, sometimes to levels that make it nearly impossible for me to understand people.

A lot of my fear and trepidation around doing things like visiting offices, using phones, etc. comes from my fear of that "static." I wonder, "When I call the doctor, will I get a lot of "static," or will I get a clear line?" "When I go to this office, will there be "static" or not?" I'm fine if the "static" doesn't appear, but if it does, I can't understand what's going on very well.

And because I hear so well when the "static" isn't around, people expect me to hear and understand well all the time, which simply isn't the case.

(EDIT: I wonder if the analogy can also be used to explain the difference between typical deafness and CAPD. Whereas I see the whole image, but covered in static, they see a relatively clear image, but it is missing significant pieces. We both struggle to understand it, but for different reasons.)

audio integration

I feel as though I've reached the point where I feel like I've resolved some of the turmoil I've experienced over the last few months over finding out that I had CAPD. I feel as though I've integrated this into my self-image, have adjusted my behaviors to better manage my issues, and am now moving on...

A lot of my anxiety and difficulty in integrating this knowledge into myself revolves around the fact that this condition has been with me since birth, but I've never understood it.

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Further reflections on CAPD

It may only be a mild-to-moderate hearing problem, and it may only affect me a portion of the time, but it affects me enough to upset me and warrant further reaction from time to time.

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Pondering CAPD

I'm going to ponder this out on here because there *are* a few people listening, and I figure what-the-hey.

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Mic Check

Anyone out there still listening?

My first Deaf event

So, as part of my class on ASL, I'm supposed to go visit Deaf events and engage in communication with folks. I did my first one this past weekend, and... wow.

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Project Lightning Bug

Hey... check it out! I made a thing for burning man.

Getting ready to learn

So... I actually signed up for a night class at De Anza to study ASL. It starts September 26th.

In preparation, I've been practicing my fingerspelling and running through practice sentences in my spare time. I've also been researching deaf culture a bit, reading about their perspectives on hearing culture and the interactions.

I'm stunned how familiar this is, actually. Although the details are specific to each culture, I see a lot of parallels in the attitudes of Deaf people and Transgender people towards the majority culture. I read about the annoyance and frustration that many Deaf people experience towards hearing people. I read about the incorrect assumptions and stereotypes that get applied to them.

It's all quite familiar as a member of the transgender community. A similar sense of frustration and angst with a culture that *just doesn't get it* 90% of the time. Even those that try to be friendly often do so in a patronizing or annoying way. It's a rare person from the other world that actually *gets* it.

As I read about Deaf people getting "congratulated" for how well they lipread or talk, or being told, "I'm sorry," when telling someone that they're Deaf... I am reminded of my experiences of being told how well I pass as female, or how someone "had no idea I wasn't cisgender!" and crap like that. It's like... Thanks for the sentiment... but really? REALLY? Just treat me like a normal person! Don't congratulate me on my ability to fit in with the mainstream!

I think a lot of minority groups probably have similar experiences to these... Similar tales of annoyance and frustration. I wonder if there's a "passing" dynamic going on as well... In minority cultures where a member of the minority can "pass" as a member of the majority culture, are certain assumptions and such more likely to take root? Hard to say.

In any case, the whole thing makes me that much more excited about learning more about Deaf culture. It seems like there's a lot it may have common with my own experiences, as well as a lot of new things to learn. I think it may even help me understand better how cisgender people perceive transgender culture by experiencing what it is like to be an outsider to a minority culture and interacting with it directly. (Although I know members of other minority groups that I don't belong to, I don't actually know much about their cultures, which is disappointing. I should probably fix that.)

Anyways... the class is going to be on Monday and Wednesday nights.

I'm also thinking about finally taking that class on Spanish that I've been wanting to take. De Anza offers a Tuesday and Thursday class, but that would mean that my entire week would be taken up by classes after work. Additionally, I'm actually finding that I know more people that know, use bits of, or want to learn ASL than I know people that use Spanish. At least in terms of my more direct social circle. ASL has the advantage of enabling visual communication, which is a really nice capability upgrade to get. :) Spanish is only an additional audio communication system. It doesn't expand my options for communication paths, just alternate audio encodings. Thus I'm currently leaning towards putting the Spanish thing on the back burner until I get enough ASL to sign competently.


Opening the door

It is so awesome when you start to learn a new language. What used to be random gibberish suddenly starts to become actual words and concepts.

This Friday, I finally encountered enough people around me that know and use ASL that I decided it was time to learn it. I memorized the alphabet and began practicing finger spelling about everything I could get my hands on. I downloaded an ASL dictionary app to my iPad and began constructing sentences with thespatula, who used to use ASL to talk to a hard-of-hearing friend of hers.

On Sunday, I decided to load up the ASL version of Re: Your Brains and watch it again. And that's when that magical moment of understanding happened.

Despite not knowing even enough ASL to carry on a simple conversation, what little I had learned during the weekend was enough to completely transform the video for me. When I first watched it, it was entertaining for the weird hand motions and pantomime that I observed during the lyrics, but I didn't really have a clue when it came to the signs. Now, I found myself picking out individual signs, being able to identify when the person was fingerspelling things, and even catching a few jokes/amusing bits that I hadn't understood before.

Before, my brain only saw static. Now, it saw patterns and information. It's quite a delightful experience to have. I even learned a few signs!

As with most things I try out, I don't know if I'll carry on with this, but it has one of the key elements that I generally need to get a new hobby type thing to continue: Other people around me know, use, and are learning ASL. So maybe I'll actually be able to stick with it.

WHY learn it? A few reasons, really.

1) It's really useful to be able to communicate visually. Whether in noisy environments, or to have a secondary communication channel when there are other people around. It's an entirely new channel of communication. I actually learned morse code to try to do this when I was in grade school, but no one else wanted to learn it, too... so I forgot it.

2) I have at least one friend, if not more, that sometimes go non-verbal. When this happens, they use ASL to communicate. It'd be nice to be able to understand what they're saying.

3) I myself find being verbal hard sometimes. Always have, since childhood. There'll be times when people are trying to talk to me, and I just find it really frustrating and emotionally upsetting to have to speak. Having ASL on hand when that strikes me could be a nice way to avoid the frustration.

4) Although I don't know anyone that is deaf, and only one person that is hard of hearing, I really like the idea of learning another language for the sake of learning that language and learning about those that use it. How cool is it that we get these opportunities to explore the languages and cultures of other people? It expands our understanding of our world and helps us to build better communities that are more effectively inclusive.

5) Every time I learn something new, I help maintain brain health and stave off the possibility of dementia when I get old.



Monkeys in suits wander around empty white corridors
Imbibing fine wine from golden chalice
and complaining of the rising cost of dry cleaning

Outside, she's sitting there alone, sleeping under a tree
Numb to the world and numb to her plight

She's one of the forgotten ones,
hiding within the world
Finding the cracks and eddies where she's allowed to exist.

The monkeys laugh and drink and make merry
while she sits outside and fights to live.

The drowning child makes great headlines
for stories and tales to share
Open hearts and open wallets reach out for those in need

But monkeys shy away from the dirty smelly creatures
that wander the land without chains
For fear... for worry... for disgust...

Open doors do not exist when the needy are real


A lament for the loss of innocence


Dark caverns, black and wet
hidden beneath the earth

An age ago, they were filled with light
dry and comfortable
bright and cheery

The elves danced to bright music
Magic and merriment
innocent and care free

What happened to those days?
The times when we danced in the moonlight?
and created our own reality around us?

Music from the past echoes forward
reflecting off the dark cavern walls.
Tear drops fall from the ceiling
weeping for a bygone age

The queen still sits in her gilded throne
But her body is gaunt, and her silver tarnished
The jester sits in the corner, sobbing
The only eyes that still see

The royal court makes webs of sorrow
catching their meals from the air
while servants scurry on many legs
and take their fill from their queen

Buried beneath her own creations
forgotten by the world
she has vanished from the story


Face blindness

Got a request for information about being faceblind today. Thought I'd post my response to the person's questions:

1: When you see a person you've never met before, do you see their face at all or is it just a blur? For example, if someone had say a scar or a facial piercing or bright blue eyes, would you be able to notice them?

Prosopagnosia, or faceblindness, isn't really about not being able to see things. I can see people's faces just fine. I can see a scar or facial piercing or blue eyes or anything. I see it all, and I can even memorize facts about such a face if I need to!

The best description that I've ever come up with for faceblindness is that it is this: There is a special region of the brain that is optimized for doing pattern recognition on faces. It is able to quickly and subconsciously evaluate all of the characteristics of a face and compare it against your memories of all the people you've ever met. For a person like myself, with faceblindness, we don't have this sort of "hardware optimization." We have to do everything in "software," ie. We have to use other parts of our brain to figure out who someone is.

Since these other parts of our brain aren't so optimized, they're not nearly as good. They work slowly, miss a lot of things, and are easily fooled. A close friend only has to put on unusual clothing, cut their hair, etc. to make it completely impossible for me to recognize them, despite the fact that I know them very well. For people I don't know as well, it takes far less for me to be unable to recognize them. Something as simple as a shift in mood, a hair style or color change, or something like that is enough to make someone completely unrecognizable to me.

Perhaps another way to look at it is that I can see all of these facial characteristics just fine. They just don't mean anything special to me, and even the closest people can look like complete strangers to me fairly easily.

2: How do you distinguish between people? Can you recognize voices or hair or skin color or anything?

For me, the big three characteristics that I use to identify people are context, personality, and large scale body characteristics.

So if I run into a short asian guy at work that's really exciteable, I'll know that's Gerry. If I run into a tall happy guy that wears bright colors and is always smiling, that's Bob. If I'm going on a date and a large bearded man comes up seeming to be laughing at the world, that's my boyfriend.

Context is huge. Take away context, and I'll generally completely lose my ability to recognize someone. A guy once tapped me on the shoulder at a supermarket and asked me if I needed help. It was actually a good friend of mine playing a joke on me, but because I didn't expect to see him, I didn't recognize him and thought he was genuinely an employee of the store.

Personality is also huge. So huge to me, that when a person is in a different mood, I can instantly tell. I'm very sensitive to changes in mood, and if someone came to me acting *very* different than normal, I'd run a chance of being unable to recognize them. Personality also influences the way people move, and I've become very adept at recognize people simply by the way they walk, swing their hands, play with their hair, and stuff like that.

And large-scale body characteristics. Stuff like long hair or short hair. Dark hair or light hair. Tall or short. Fat or skinny. Dark skin or light skin. Stuff like that. I'm not good at recognizing people in the middle, though, just on the extremes. Someone with average hair length, medium brown color, average height, average build, and light brown skin will be almost impossible for me to recognize, even after knowing them for a while. But make them pale and fat with short hair, or black, tall and skinny with long dark hair, and suddenly I find them very easy to recognize.

3: Do faces become more familiar the more you see them?

Not really. I become more adept at recognizing people's personalities in those faces though. I start to recognize the smiling bald guy that has a little smirk on his face, or the constantly depressed short woman. Stuff like that. Our brains aren't optimized to memorize these characteristics about people, so it takes considerably longer to learn stuff like this than it would for a normal person to recognize someone else. But over time, prosopagnosiacs learn to recognize people by various means. Just not by their face.

4: Were you born with your condition? If so, when did you realize that you had it?

As far as I know, yes, I was born with it. I realized I had it in college after a friend lead me to the "face blindness and stones" webpage. http://web.archive.org/web/20090525034533/http://www.prosopagnosia.com/main/stones/index.asp

I read that site and went "Yes! Holy shit! THAT is why I have so much trouble recognizing people and remembering faces!" It was an eye opening moment. I had started to suspect that something was different about me in high school, though, and recognized that I had more difficulty remembering faces than most people.

5: Lastly, (this one is kind of personal) how did/does faceblindness affect your relationships with others and/or your view of yourself, if at all?

Bill Choisser's online book goes into this in some detail: http://www.choisser.com/faceblind/

For myself, it has the strongest tendency to affect my ability to connect with people. It's fairly often that I find myself sabotaging potential relationships, both personal and professional, when I hit that inevitable moment of, "I'm sorry, who are you again?"

People are so used to being recognized, that they automatically assume that if you don't recognize them, you don't care about them. I've seen it so many times, my heart tears to even think about it. Imagine lovers, friends, and others being turned away when you looked and them and didn't know who they were. It's horrible, and it makes for a very lonely childhood. When you don't recognize the playground friend you made the day before, it makes it hard to makes friends at all.

As for view of myself? Not really. I guess I don't care about makeup as much as most women, since it makes my face look so very very different that it can freak me out. But that's pretty common amongst people with this condition.

More death

Too much death lately.

This weekend, a friend of mine killed himself.

I find it confusing to deal with death when the person that has died is not a close friend or relative. If one of my roommates died, or one of my close friends that I see on a regular basis died... I'd know what my reaction would be. I'd understand that I'd be overwhelmed with grief and senses of loss. I'd know that I'd want to attend funeral events and connect with friends and mourn and all that... I'd understand my place in relation to that death.

But what if the person is only someone I see every few weeks? Every few months? A few times a year? What if the last time I saw them was many years ago?

In these situations... I don't understand my grief and my relationship to that grief. I don't understand other people's reaction to my grief.

My friend that died this weekend? It has been nearly a year since I last saw him in person. But we've talked online from time to time, and I'm close to an ex of his, and talk to his wife some. We're not close at all, but he was definitely a friend.

It seems strange to me when people say that they're "sorry for my loss." My loss? He wasn't really mine to lose. He was someone else's... He belonged to a community and collection of friends and relatives and people that interacted with him for more frequently than I. I have only had minimal contact with him in comparison. I feel as though I'm simply on the sidelines of this man's life.

Yet he meant something to me. He was someone I thought fondly of. Our last interaction was an 8 hour conversation that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. I still have a text file on my desktop listing some books he recommended I read on the basis of that conversation.

I have grief. Hell... I've been listless and depressed for the past 3 days over this. I've cried over this.

But I don't get it, and I don't get what it means.

More than my own feelings, I worry about the people closer to him that he leaves behind. How they're doing. His widow. His ex. People that loved him and were with him often.

I'm going to miss him. He was a brilliant and wonderful inventor and security researcher, who did great things for this world. I weep for all of the conversations we're never going to have. I weep for those he left behind. I weep for my loss and the world's loss.

Incidentally... I've been watching a lot of TV to zone out and ignore reality for the past few days. Especially Star Trek The Next Generation. It's amazing to me how much of this stuff deals with death, but besides the simple effect of confirmation bias, I think that it is just a fact that much of human literature and media deal with this question.

What is death... How do we relate to it? What does it mean for there to be an end to *me*? To a given person's consciousness? When another dies, how do we accept the permanent changes in expectations of reality? How do we accept the fact that we will never again meet them? That we will never again interact with them... talk with them... etc.

We're all trying to figure this out and answer our questions about what it all is. And how we deal with it when it impacts our own lives.

I'm going to miss him. He was a fascinating person that I wanted to know better.


My weekend so far...

Friday night: Had a small dinner and games party at my place with the usual crowd. Slightly last minute, but at least I didn't have to cook. Afterwards, we unpacked the last of our "communal" boxes and finally finished the stage called "unpacking."

I drank a little, and wasn't feeling entirely normal and wound up staying up until 6 AM.

4 hours later, my friend Rose calls asking me where I'm at... We had arranged to meet at Whole foods to buy food to cook for the housewarming party later that day.


Rose's call woke up me, so I groggily indicated that she should drive to my place and pick me up while I got myself woken up.

Once my head had cleared a bit, I decided it was about time to figure out what I was going to make, food-wise, for the party. I quickly pulled up my recipe book and google and started contemplating and dreaming up ideas.

By the time Rose arrived from Whole Foods, I had managed to get a shopping list of ingredients put together, so we took off around 11.

By 1pm, we had all of the food and a bunch of extra things as well.

I came home and the roommates and I cleaned the apartment in preparation of guests. Around 3pm, I began cooking.

I wound up spending the majority of the next 5 hours cooking.

The foods that I had decided on were the following: Deviled eggs, my father's potato salad, a mushroom cream chicken bake, and a green bean casserole. I'd never made any of them before, and I didn't even have a recipe for the mushroom cream chicken bake. That was entirely off the cuff.

The deviled eggs turned out beautifully. The potato salad was excellent and perfect, but not a lot of people liked the style of potato salad I had made. Too chunky and stuff. The green bean casserole turned out "meh" in my opinion, but the chicken bake was amazing. I almost didn't get to try a bite, but when I did... WOW that was delicious.

The chicken bake was pretty simple:
1.5 c heavy cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
veggie chicken

Fry chicken in olive oil and butter until slightly browned.
Sautee mushrooms and onions in pan until cooked.
Layer chicken in a small glass dish.
Mix cream and soup and pour over chicken.
Put the mushrooms and onions over the chicken as well
Feel free to add some non-sauteed mushrooms as well
Bake for 30 minutes on 375º

It turned out great!

Best thing of all? With the exception of the chicken bake, it was all gluten free. And even with the chicken bake, I had a low-gluten version ready to go for my gluten free guests.

Dessert was brownies, cakes, cupcakes, and more. They were completely gone by the time the night ended.

After dinner and dessert, we played some various games... Topless pirate Fluxx, 2 station Artemis, and drunk Curses.

I had a blast! The party was wonderful and everyone seemed to have a really good time. Our house was delightfully warmed, and I feel very loved in the midst of my friends.

I passed out around 1am in the middle of a sentence, my feet killing me, and my body completely exhausted from all of the cooking and preparation that day.

Amusingly, as I wake up this morning, I need to get myself together and get packed for a 2 day "camping" trip to a lake in clearlake with a friend and her family.

Choice + Action = Result

It's a simple formula. Choice + Action = Result.

If you want something out of life, you have to decide to get it, take the actions required to move towards it, and then you will gain the result.

So... there you go. Secret to the universe and all that. Go forth and make your lives better.

Oh wait... It's not that simple, is it?

There are secrets and hidden pitfalls buried in this formula. Although it is absolutely true... it's more complicated than this.

To begin... choice.

Choice is challenging. The ability to choose something is an important and powerful thing, but our choices are limited by a great deal of things. One of the biggest limiters that I have experienced in my own life, both first hand and in observation of others... is the fact that to choose something, you first must believe it possible to choose.

I know this guy from back in Cleveland who is a programmer who wants to improve his life. He wants to get out there and make more software and do more stuff... He even talked about the idea of someday getting involved with Android or iPhone development. But here the thing... He was doing nothing about it. Why? Because he had no idea that he *could.* In our conversations, I showed him that the tools for doing this development are already right at his fingertips for no charge. It was only after this that he could start working on doing this development. He could not take action to better his life until he knew that the option to do so existed.

Choice is also limited by our willpower. Now don't blow that off as some statement of judgement that you have to just *will* yourself to choose something or other. Studies show that our willpower is incredibly influenced by a number of factors. Depression, poverty, and many other things reduce our willpower and make it harder to make choices in our lives. Additionally, willpower has been shown to behave like a muscle: The less you use it, the harder it is to make choices, and vice versa. It's actually not necessarily some personality flaw if you find yourself challenged by the prospect of making choices. It's heavily influenced by the circumstances of your life.

So what about action? Let's say you've managed to overcome these obstacles to make a choice to do something about your life? But that's not going to necessarily accomplish anything by itself. Choice alone does little. It is only the first step of the journey. The next part of the journey is to actually start "walking it."

But actions are limited as well. Talk to anyone with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, or other physical ailments. They'll tell you, quite emphatically... They don't have the physical energy to *act* in all the ways they want to. They are limited by their conditions and bodies.

The same goes for for mental and emotional ailments. These can have just as strong an effect on the physical ability of a person to act in ways that benefit oneself. People with chronic depression or mental illness may literally not have the physical ability to act in certain ways at certain times.

No matter what choices we make, the actions available to us is ultimately limited by things outside of our own control.

So actions are limited and challenging... But let's say you overcome those obstacles. You make a choice to make your life better, and then you act in accordance with that choice to make your life better. Yay! The results are all yours and you get what you were after now, right?

Well, no... Here's the real kicker. If you've struggled and bled and fought to make your choices and act in accordance with them, you may very well not get the results you were hoping for. I dare say... this may even be the likely outcome. You'll probably wind up with something quite different than what you were working towards.

Why? Because your actions can only have so much of an effect on the world around you. There is a limit to your ability to influence your world, no matter how hard you try. Factors such as socio-economic class membership, social networks, and more heavily influence your ability to modify your world and the world around you. Rich people with lots of friends, for example, have more ability to influence their world than poorer people with smaller social networks.

Even more... as people rise in wealth, they are able to purchase *time*. That's right... rich people can buy themselves more *time* to do things to better themselves. How? By buying devices and services of convenience that free them to do other actions. Automatic clothing washing and drying machines drastically increase the amount of time a person has to do other stuff. Same with things like microwaves, robotic vacuums, and more. Services such as house cleaners, car washes, restaurants, etc. free up valuable time as well. The more wealth you have, the more you can have other people and machines do your work for you. You can basically *purchase time itself.*

So... fuck... that sucks, right? No matter how hard you work, you can't fully influence your results? Damn. So what's the point?

The point is that this formula still holds true. If you want something different out of your life, you have to choose to obtain it, and then act to obtain it. The reality is that if you do this, small successes will pile up over time, and while you may not be able to achieve absolutely anything you want, you can increase your ability to achieve in larger and larger ways. Making choices may be difficult at first, but as you do it more, your willpower will increase. Making money may be difficult without much to start with, but if you manage a small success, you'll have more money to achieve even more later.

Basically... it's not an even playing field. People are granted various degrees of privilege and facility and luck with which to act and improve their lives. But despite all of that, there are still doors open to grow and achieve more than you are now. There is hope.

It simply lies on the other side of constant struggle and battle. And probably won't be what you were expecting.

A comment on cis-guys

I just read about some presumably cisgender men invading the dyke march this year. Understandably, there were some trans guys upset that cis men were not welcome, but trans guys are. They see it as a challenge to their gender identity, like they're not "really" guys and thus are welcome to join the dyke march.

I can't comment fully on the politics of this, but I think there is some sense in creating "anyone but cis-guy" spaces, and it all centers around male privilege.

First of all, to those that aren't on the up and up for privilege politics, the idea is that when you are a member of a majority/oppressor class for some characteristic, you have various privileges that you may or may not be aware of. It's not a *bad* thing to be this way, and just because you're a minority in one class doesn't mean you can't be a majority in another class. It's just more or less a fact of life. What's bad is pretending it doesn't exist and being defensive when called out on it.

What exactly is privilege? It's the ability to not have to think about or deal with certain things that people of a particular minority group have to deal with. White people don't have to deal with the shit people of color have to deal with, and are often not aware of how much shit people of color get. Rich people don't realize all of the nuances of being poor. Cis people don't realize just how much their assumptions about gender oppress trans people. etc. etc.

Now, these are, of course, blanket statements, and they are generally true, but not always, and certainly not in the same way with all people. Some majority-class members have more or less privilege than others, based on a wide assortment of things such as life experiences, upbringing, membership in other minority classes, etc. But as a general rule, this is fairly true.

As a member of a minority class, privilege can be annoying, and more-over *exhausting.* It's really annoying to hear the same tripe, the same bullshit, and the same crap over and over again. It's really annoying being the token representative of your minority class all of the time, having to explain to people why what they say and do is fucked up. Frequently, you just wish people would google this shit and stop being stupid. But the unfortunate thing about privilege is that it's usually invisible to the person that has it, so they don't even know that they're being offensive or insensitive or whatever.

So members of minority classes often go out of their way to create spaces, sometimes, that specifically exclude members of the majority class. It's a way to create a space where they can gather and be together without having to participate in the same constant-education-bullshit that they have to deal with all the rest of the time. And it's more than just education, but the fact that this privilege crap has been used time and again to hurt and oppress the members of the minority class. It can be triggery to experience it, and it's nice when you can go into a space where it is far less likely to experience it.

So an event like "dyke march" is a great space for queer women to create a space where they can exist in solidarity with less male privilege than usual. There is freedom and comfort and safety in being in a space that is filled with people that are unlikely to be as filled with privilege as normal. It's not perfect, but it's a big step.

So... That's great for queer cis-women, but what about transgender people of all genders? What about the question at the beginning about the inclusion of trans men in spaces like this?

Well... All that other stuff explained... it seems to me that transgender eople have a particularly unique perspective on male privilege. Many, if not most, of us have seen both sides of the coin to some degree. We know what it is like to have male privilege and then have it taken away, or to gain it after having not had it for most of our life.

As a result, I'd like to believe that we're all a little more sensitive and self-aware when it comes to our own unique experiences with male privilege. Trans women being able to recognize the remnants of male privilege from our pasts, and trans men able to recognize the privileges that they now enjoy. I hope that with this awareness comes an increased ability to accept and be challenged on our beliefs, behaviors, etc.. I'd like to believe that we are "safe" for cisgender women to be around without having to worry too much about us being offensive, insensitive, or whatever as a result of our experiences with male privilege.

So it makes sense to me that transgender people of all genders are included in a march focused on the experiences of women, while cisgender men might be excluded. Because I believe that our unique experiences of male privilege make us far less likely to be problematic than cisgender men who have not generally had as much opportunity to explore their experiences with male privilege.

Certainly, these characteristics have proved to be true within my experiences. When it comes to sexism and issues around male/female dynamics, cisgender women and transgender people seem to "get it" far more often than cisgender men. It's a rare cisgender male that I find that accepts his male privilege and knows how to avoid being problematic towards women. On the other hand, it's a rare cisgender woman or transgender person that *doesn't* get male privilege and male/female social oppression dynamics.

I've certainly met my fair share of sexist people in all gender combinations. One of the most sexist people I've ever met, in fact, was a cisgender woman that claimed that women should not "work men's jobs" because she believes it takes away the opportunity of men to support their families. In college, I wrote a long letter to the school newspaper calling out a presumably cisgender woman for her sexist comments regarding the decline of chivalry in men towards women.

Excluding cisgender men doesn't exclude all male privilege, and it keeps out some really awesome feminist-type guys that *get* and *understand* their male privilege. But when you've got little else to go by, it's not a completely horrible way to keep the usual guys with their unexamined privilege out.

Case in point... the presumably cis guys in the dyke march? Standing in the way, taking photos of the topless dykes, pointing, laughing and giggling. You know... acting in ways that demonstrate their ignorance of how their behavior hurts women. Demonstrating their male privilege.

Some recipes

Toasted Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwiches

This is a recipe based on a sandwich I had at Tommy's Restaurant in Cleveland, OH, called the "Quinn"

Pocketed pita bread
4-5 different kinds of cheese. I used mozzarella, provolone, münster, and a medium cheddar.
Caeser salad dressing
Shredded carrots
Bean sprouts
Shredded lettuce
Unsweeted, unsalted peanut butter

olive oil

1. Take a small amount of peanut butter and put it inside the pita pocket.
2. Take small pieces of each kind of cheese, and lay them on top of the peanut butter inside the pocket.
3. Put the carrot, sprouts, and lettuce in the pocket.
4. Drizzle a *small* amount of dressing on top of the veggies.
5. Place a few more small pieces of cheese on top of the veggies.
6. Pour a small amount of olive oil and butter into a skillet.
7. When the butter is melted, put the sandwich into the pan, peanut butter side down first. Cook on medium to medium-low heat.
8. Flip the sandwich every now and then until the cheese is melted. Don't let the pita burn!
9. Serve!

I also made "meatball" subs recently:

Easy Meatball Subs:

1 jar spicy pasta sauce
2 small cans tomato paste
1 package vegetarian italian sausage
1/2 yellow onion
sliced muchrooms
4-6 "hoagie" rolls
Shredded mozzerella cheese
Chili powder
Cayenne Pepper
Black Pepper

1. Mix the pasta sauce and tomato paste together in sufficient quantity for your table, so that the resulting mixture is quite thick.
2. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to kick the sauce up a bit, since we'll be diluting the original spicy pasta sauce a bit.
3. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until hot

1. Meanwhile, slice the onion into small strings of onion.
2. Melt butter with olive oil in a skillet.
3. Sautee the mushrooms and onions together until the onions start to carmelize.

1. Lightly coat a skillet with oil and heat.
2. Slice the sausage into substantial chunks of sausage.
3. Place the sausage in the pan and start cooking.
4. Make sure the sausage pieces are cooked on all sides.

Final Preparation:
1. Lightly toast the interior of the roll. I did this by opening the roll up and placing it on a dry heated skillet.
2. You will want the roll to be only gently toasted. When this is done, take some of the sausage and put it in the deepest part of the roll.
3. Cover the sausage with the sauce. Don't be shy.
4. Cover the top of the sauce with shredded mozzerella cheese and some of the sauteed mushrooms and onions.

Serve hot!


Do I go to Burning Man this year?

Assuming there are tickets left to buy... I've been pondering this.

I've been really wanting to go in my new mental state. The last time I went there, I was still in my "crazy teenager" phase, and had the sort of experiences that a wild teen might have there. This time, I'd be coming as my much quieter and calmer adult self. It could very well be the kick-in-the-ass that I need to start contemplating spiritual and artistic stuff again. I've been married to the concrete since December, dealing with an amazing amount of life and mental crud since then.

Reasons to go:
1) I'd love to reconnect with some of the poly people, friends I haven't seen in a while, etc. that go every year.
2) The theme this year is "Rites of Passage" with the temple being the "Temple of transition." Could it be any more perfect?
3) I'd love to get away from everything for a week and just chill out and have fun out in the desert.
4) It's a magical place. I really really want to see it again!

Reasons not to go:
1) I will need to dilate every day out there. This involves finding a space that is private, *relatively* playa dust free, and comfortable to lay on my back for 30 minutes. I also need a means by which to wash my dilators after each use.
2) It's already pretty last minute to go. I don't really have much in the way of outfits to bring at this point.
3) I expect I'll still be pretty low on stamina after a year of being sedantary and having surgery.
4) I don't have any close friends going that I could camp with. The only such person camps with someone that is full-of-drama, so I don't want to be involved with that. I have some less close/long distance friends that go, but that requires coordination and stuff as well.
5) Instead of going to a giant art/music/awesome-fest more or less by myself for a week, I could grab some closer friends and go on a week long road trip throughout the south west, or go camping, hiking, and climbing at Joshua Tree.

I'm leaning towards not going this year... but still... damn.

Your thoughts?

(And is there anyone out there that would be interested in camping/going with me?)

House of Leaves deep analysis.


House of Leaves is a SERIOUSLY amazing book, and it would not behoove you to read this if you haven't read it, as it spoils a great deal of the novel.

That said, I'm going to do some deep analysis on a particularly interesting point that I want to go into. If you've read the book, or are ABSOLUTELY SURE you'll never read it, feel free to carry on forward.

You've been warned.Collapse )

Self-centered LJ

To the person that recently mentioned this about my LJ, this actually isn't about you for the most part. It's coincidence that I happened to be thinking about this topic a bit at the same time that you made your comment. Please take no offense.

So... over the years, I've had several people accuse me of being self-centered on my LJ. I don't get this criticism. Not because I think it's not true, but because I'm surprised that people see this as being a problem.

I've always treated my LJ as a sort of open journal. I use it the same way I'd use a private journal, but with the expectation that other people are reading it. It's my personal soap box, rant space, and space for me to noodle out my thoughts on my self and my world.

In other words... I've always used my LJ as a place for me to be centered and focused predominantly on myself.

Oddly enough, I've never heard anyone make the claim that *I* am self-centered beyond my LJ. It is only in the context of my LJ that I receive this accusation.

I dunno. Am I using my LJ differently than other people? Am I doing things different here? Or is something else going on?

Done with the crazy

I think I posted a year or two ago about being done with the crazy in my life.

It's taken a long time in coming, but I really think I've finally hit a place where I've basically excised all of the crazy and crazy-making elements from my life.

Being crazy was something I had to do for a while. I had to go through a second adolescence because I spent the first one rigidly following the rules and never doing anything "wrong" or "crazy" or whatever.

I went through it. I survived. And now I'm growing up.

The journey towards self-improvement, self-healing, and everything like that continues ever onward.


Yes Yes YEs Yes YES!


Go Zinnia!

Of course... It's still not necessarily *safe* for a trans woman to keep her transgender status private, but it is absolutely, 100% her valid right and choice to keep it private if she decides to take that risk.

The onus is on the people that have a problem with this, not on the trans person. If you have cissexist issues with having sex with transgender people, it is *your* responsibility to make sure that you're sleeping with cisgender people. Your bigotry and attitudes about the "reality" of transgender genders is *your* problem, not ours.

I've heard some people claim that some people just have a "preference" for cisgender people. Fine. But the racist analogy holds true again. A person that has a preference for white people... fine... But consider a person that is attracted to a person that appears white to the point that they sleep with the person or want to... and later find out that the person is descended from people of color. If they "lose interest" because of that person's history, that person is, in my book, a racist. Period.

Same for someone that loses interest in someone after finding out they're trans. That's cissexism, plain and simple.

(For those of you not up on the vocab, "cissexism" describes prejudice against transgender people, especially related to the validity of their genders. It is much the same as "racism" is used to describe prejudice against people of color, or "heterosexism" is used to describe prejudice against lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.)

I'm angry

One of the things I've been exploring in the past few months is the ability to be ANGRY at people.

I'm feeling a lot of anger today.

Read more...Collapse )



I had a dream last night that there was this tech corporation that wasn't doing too well. They had really bad management and were all over the map in what they made. They made electronic toys, Mathematics software applications, computer games of various genres, clients that added additional features to existing games like second life and World of Warcraft. They made bizarre electrical engineering hardware for diagnosing circuit board problems. Just... a whole range of random stuff that didn't seem to have anything to do with each other.

Worse, these projects were horribly managed. The engineers were left to figure it out themselves, what was important and what wasn't, and as a result the Second Life client was sucking up the most resources in the company, while the original fighting game the company was working on was getting no development.

Even the cubicle arrangements were left to the engineers to figure out, resulting in these weird "engineer camps" ala Burning Man, where engineers were mostly smoking pot, playing video games, and doing whatever they felt like doing engineering wise.

The company was running out of cash quicky, was in debt up to its ears, and had no direction. It was dying.

A friend of mine happened to be in the upper management of the company and called me up. She wanted me to basically take over running the company and try to rescue it. Apparently, the CEO and several of the higher level managers were so bad off that they had fled the country.

It somehow wouldn't impact my existing job, so I decided to give it a try. Why not!

I put on my "fuck me, I'm a business woman" outfit and headed into the fray.

I immediately started gathering intel on what the company was doing. The company was so badly organized that no one even had a clear picture of what projects the company was working on. I organized a meeting of everyone that would be reporting to me to give me a full report of what their teams were working on and what projects they had identified. Meanwhile, I walked through the makeshift programmer villages, checking out what people were working on and encouraging or shutting down projects as I saw fit. Engineers that struck me as superfluous, I challenged them to explain what they did for the company lest I fire them on the spot.

It was a lot of fun! I was cleaning up the mess of this company and slowly getting it moving in the right direction. In a few places, I even was doing this literally, cleaning up programmer villages by sweeping up trash, blunts, etc.

At first, I was pretty nervous about taking over... but after a while, I started hitting my stride and gaining confidence, and it was really cool.

You know... Maybe I should do something like this in real life. Like maybe in the future, start getting into management roles in jobs and stuff, moving towards running my own company or engineering team or something.

Could be a fun goal to work towards. :)

Interesting dream, regardless.


Change and opinion

Fascinating article on science denial. It brings up the fact that much of what we do is rationalization. If you want to convince someone of something, lead with your values, not your facts. Leading with your facts can even be counter-productive.

The article seems to hold true to me. A great example is that the people I know that brag about how logical and rational they are tend to be amongst the most irrational and least self-aware folks that I meet. Reason being, I see these people spending more time justifying their beliefs and rationalizing their feelings than they do actually considering information and changing.

I would normally take this moment to acknowledge that I do this myself, but for once, I'm not going to. I'm actually going to go against modesty and claim that I'm actually better than this. How? Why?

I present to you something I wrote a scant 12 years ago about a book I was reading in my freshman year of college for a class.
"I feel weird being the first one to post on this subject, but did anyone else notice the heavy amount of bias in this book? While I don't have the text with me at this moment, there were derogatory remarks made about conservatives, pro-life people, and creationists. While the author may disagree with these groups, isn't it improper to make such off-hand derogatory remarks?"

"I agree that the author is biased toward this belief, but I think that the belief of evolution as a product of God's creation is expressed as it should be: as an intelligent respectful belief. The things I mentioned were treated without respect."

Yes... I used to be a conservative, pro-life, creationist. I actually protested in front of abortion clinics, worked with right-to-life to promote pro-life propaganda. I actually started debates arguing that being gay wasn't right. That sex outside of marriage was wrong, and a whole bunch of other stuff like that. I went to Christian conferences where we all talked about how to convert the entire world and show them the love of Jesus.

I'm now a fairly liberal, near-communist, extremely pro-choice, agnostic/pagan.

I changed.

I submit this merely as evidence for my claim.

Now let me make another claim...

I'm extremely irrational and I rationalize my feelings all the time. I'm constantly drawn into exactly the sorts of behaviors the author describes, judging things based on how I have pre-judged them, rather than evaluating them more objectively.

So what makes me better than this?

Let me come clean. I'm not actually "better" than anyone in this. Rather, I consider it a good about me that I hold as a value being aware of the ways in which I rationalize my feelings. I am constantly spending incredible amounts of time doing self-analysis. Attempting to work through my thoughts and feelings to grow in self-awareness and self-knowledge.

I believe that it is only through measures such as these that we can even marginally overcome our human tendency to irrationality. People that boast about how they are logical and rational? Bullshit. The best and only way to be a person of reason is to admit that you *aren't.* To admit that you're an irrational fuck driven predominantly by emotions. If you want to be a rational and logical person, you have to first acknowledge the things that prevent you from being such. By recognizing and working through those things that stand in the way of rationality. Not things outside yourself, but *inside* yourself.

In my mind... this is all about being on the path to self-awareness. It is a path of humility and pain. It involves being capable of acknowledging that you're wrong. Spending time seriously questioning your own actions and beliefs. It involves being willing to change if deeply held beliefs about your self or your world are proved to be wrong, invalid, or incorrect. It involves the sacrifices and hardships associated with such change.

I feel that I do well about being rational because I know that I am prone to irrationality. I know that I'm on a never ending journey of self-betterment and improved self-awareness, but I will never be wholly rational or self-aware. I'm okay accepting that I don't know everything about the world or myself, and I'm willing to explore all of the questions about this. I am willing to question myself and change. It's obvious from the way I've lived my life.

This is a good thing about me. I'm good at this. My life, behavior, and mind are still flawed and always will be. But when I look at who I am. The person I am... I like this aspect of myself and am pleased that I am capable of doing things like admitting when I am wrong. Especially after I've had some sort of really bad fight with someone and was being really emotional and irrational. Being honestly able to come back to them and say, "I was wrong," and mean it feels really good. It makes me feel good about myself. :)

Incidentally.. it is more and more becoming a measure by which I judge who I want to be associated with. People that seem to be on a path of self-awareness somehow are people I want to spend time around. People that are convinced they already know themselves are a turn off. There's a reason why a lot of the people I associate with have a tendency towards self-analysis of various sorts. (examples include people that attend therapy, support groups, do lots of journaling, etc.)

We are all on this journey called life. We're all trying to figure it out.

I'd rather journey with folks that recognize our mutual idiocy as we stumble along this path. Not those that claim to be superior in their logic, reason, and such while they stumble right along with the rest of us.


SRS-mentionedCollapse )

In other news... I've become obsessive about reading house of leaves... I meant to hold off until our little book club got started, but... omg... There are so many secrets hidden in this book... Wow. I've never had to spend time decoding a book before. This is a book that does more than present a story to you. It invites you into the story and makes you a participant in it.

For those of you that don't know, here's the brief synopsis of the book:

This is not for you.

A few decades ago, renowned photojournalist Will Navidson decided to settle down from his wild and adventurous life and retire to a domestic family life. Not content to fully leave his passion behind, he decided to document his transformation to a family man by setting up cameras around his home and recording the process on video. However, he moved into a house that had more going on than he bargained for. It starts with the discovery that the house is 1/4" longer on the inside than the out. Then he discovers, hidden in the recesses of the house, a sort of other-worldly labyrinth and the horrors that lay within.1

The documentary that Navidson created, "The Navidson Record" was, within the book's universe, released as a film by Miramax in the 90s and received incredible academic acclaim and interest.2

At some point, the film came to the interest of a man named Zampano. This blind man watched the film and was taken in by it. He began analyzing it and living as part of it. Eventually, it seems that this exploration killed him, as he was found dead in his apartment next to several gouges on the floor, as if made by a thick set of claws.

A deadbeat tattoo artist and his friend came upon the dead blind man and the mountains of notes, writings, and other odds and ends discussing the Navidson Record, and the tattoo artist, Johnny Truant, decides to take them, compile them into a coherent narrative, and send them to a publisher to be released.

House of Leaves is the final result. It is a compilation of what is supposedly Zampano's analysis of The Navidson Record, as well as extra information, pictures, etc. about the lives of all of our characters, from Will Navidson and his colleages, to Zampano and his life, to Johnny Truant and his troubled relationships and family life. There is far far far more to this book than meets the eye.

I'm, uh... getting into it. As you can see.... (Where did that blue tint come from?)4

The book is more than a novel... It's a puzzle and a maze and a riddle in and of itself. It doesn't just present the story to you, but it puts you as part of it. For example, the chapter titled "SOS" had several hidden messages in morse code. And the chapter titled "Labyrinth" was laid out in such a confusing way that it took me about an hour to figure out where the damn thing began. And somehow, I kept winding up back at the beginning of the chapter. I'm not kidding. You don't so much read this book as you become an active participant in the tale it's weaving.

In any case... I'm... Maybe 20% through the book so far? It takes a while to read, and doesn't go in a strictly linear fashion. I'm constantly jumping around the book, grabbing my phone to google some phrase or translate some foreign language, and stuff.5

1These sections were removed from the original draft of this entry, but have been recreated here to ensure that the entry is as complete as possible.
2The book also acts as a satire of excessive academic analysis of literature and other things. 3
3Makes considerable use of footnotes to get this point across.
4I really don't know how that blue tint got in there... Uh...
5Cracking the code - Andrew Lawrence 2008

back to the other stuff.Collapse )


Gone, but not forgotten

So... I don't know that I'm going to be writing much in my LJ for a while. I mean... I'll keep updating it here and there...but I'm just not seeing myself posting much. In the past month, I've written 10 entries in total, several fairly small, when I've written multiple big entries a day in the past.

Changing times, I guess.

I'm also withdrawing a whole lot. Committing to less. Staying nimble in my time commitments so that I can react in the moment and do what I'm the most comfortable and capable of in the moment. Being able to take care of my needs to the best of my abilities.

In any case... Don't be surprised if you don't hear much from me for the next 2 months. I've got a lot going on, and I need to deal with all of it and don't have a whole lot of time for reflecting on it in long winded essays that I write online. Besides, I'm starting to discover that I can have thoughts that I keep to myself in my personal journal. That's surprisingly useful and nifty to me.

Dunno where things are going in my life... but this is really and truly the end of a major chapter in my life, and the beginning of something entirely new. I won't know what that is until I'm there, but everything that's happening is leading to that. Everything is pointing towards it being something awesome and amazing. I'm looking forward to it.

Discerning distinct experiences

It's really interesting to me how one's ability to discern between different experiences is developed. You go through life experiencing some diverse set of things as one homogenous thing, until something or other happens and you realize you're looking at a heterogenous set of experiences.

Take, for example, my exercise induced asthma. Up until a few years ago, every time I tried exercising, after a while I would experience a collection of sensations. Fatigue, shortness of breath, wheezing, headache, etc. I referred to it as "being exhausted" and that was it. It was one homogenous experience.

However, when I received my inhaler this past summer, I discovered that I was actually experiencing two different experiences. Actually several experiences. One experience was muscle fatigue, which is where a particular muscle starts getting harder and harder to move. Another experience was general fatigue, where my body is out of energy and needs food, water, and rest before continuing. And still another experience was asthma attacks, where I was out of breath, wheezing, etc.

Nowadays, I'm starting to be able to tell the difference between these various things. On the way to work today, I started feeling the familiar burning in my lungs coupled with short, shallow breaths, lung pain, and wheezing, and I knew that I was starting to have an asthma attack. Years ago, I would have assumed that this was just exhaustion, and the fact that it came on so soon after starting out meant that I was really out of shape. I would have beaten myself up for not working harder on losing weight and getting in shape, and then pushed on in pain, stopping every few feet to gasp for breath and wait for oxygen to return.

Nowadays, I know what's going on. I stopped, whipped out my inhaler, took a few shots, and waited. After a while, I could feel my throat relaxing and air flowing normally. Once I was taking deep breaths again, I hopped back on and rode off. No other feelings for the rest of the 10 mile ride.

This is a completely different experience from what happened the other day when I did 20 miles on my bike to go to a friend's house, and found my body shaking with exhaustion towards the end. I wasn't wheezing or having trouble breathing. My body was simply out of energy. I needed to collapse on a couch and rest for a while.

And both of those are completely different from a time early when I was hiking where I felt my leg muscles become harder to move despite the rest of me feeling fine. I wasn't out of breath or tired, really. I just couldn't really push my leg muscles any more.

I was unable to discern these experiences from one another until I could experience them separately and name them as distinct experiences. Yet I've been experiencing all of them all my life.

It's just something interesting to think about. What experiences have you had that are like this? Where you've discovered that experiences in your 'verse are actually more distinct than you realized previously?


Title change

I have changed the title of my LJ.

I used to call it "I will become greater"

I don't like that anymore. It embeds the sense that I'm not good enough right now into the title.

From now on, this is just "The Eternal Journey."

Oh for the love of FUCK


Z Budapest, you disgust me.

Just stamp that boot harder. My face isn't numb enough yet.

Gah... I just write a post about compassion and then someone does something like this to enrage me.

I guess what I have to realize is that compassion doesn't mean you don't get angry. Maybe it's just what you do with that anger.

Contemplation on identity

Identity is an interesting thing.

I've met a number of people that claim that they are elves, dragons, lizards, vampires, angels, reincarnations of ancient wizards, and more. I've heard people claim to be collections of multiple people in one body with some coming from fictional media, some from other people, and some from alternate realities. I've heard even more claims of identity beyond even these.

Are these people crazy?

Personally, I don't think so.Read more...Collapse )

I reject your God

I am not dedicated to any deity over anything else... Whatever the ultimate source of everything is in this universe, I do not hold it in the highest esteem.

Over all other things, I hold my values of freedom, responsibility, and compassion. (Possibly others, but for the purposes of this post, this is a nice collection of some things I hold in high esteem.)

If it ever came to pass that I encountered the ultimate source of all things, and it turned out that this thing was against any of this... I would stand against it and vow to spend every ounce of will in my being to fight it.

The creator being called "God" by many Christian organizations seems to stand against these principles. Not all versions, mind you, but the versions believed in by many. Certainly the God of the Old Testament has many of these anti-freedom, anti-responsibility, and anti-compassion attributes, if you take those writings as literal truth.

Thus, simply put... to those that would believe in this sort of God... The sort of God that would support murder and hatred towards any group of people... I reject it. I reject your God in its entirety. And if it came to pass that I one day came before the creator of all things, and it turned out that you were right about its nature. It turned out that your version of God was the real one all along... I would continue to reject it. I would continue to do my best to fight against it and fight for ideas of freedom, responsibility, and compassion...

I am a being with a mind capable of deep rational thought, and a heart capable of love and compassion. No matter what beings may or may not have created me, I will do my best to live honestly according to my heart and mind. No higher authority of any sort will ever again have my consent to cause me to act against what I believe and feel.


Tech dreams

I had 3 dreams merging into one another last night.

One involved a few kids playing a new nintendo handheld console that featured incredibly powerful graphics and the ability to wirelessly transmit video to nearby TVs, with minimal configuration.

Another involved me being a super hero and a parent. I had a son, and I was fighting against this entity that kept taking over his body and possessing him. The entity was also possessing others. While they were possessed, they had powers roughly equivalent to my own.

A third, and final part of the dream involved me doing game development with my team, and we were coordinating getting some of the work done for our next sprint.

Weird stuff.


Open-source spirituality

I finally ran into the crazy Feri schism stuff going on. Don't bother looking into it if you don't know what I'm talking about. It's boring and silly and involves a bunch of people arguing about who owns what words. At least, that's what I got out of reading a handful of websites of people arguing about it. I'm not really fully aware of it, and I'm sure I'm mischaracterizing any real issues going on there. But at a cursory glance, it just seems like silliness to me.

Inspired by this silliness, I thought I would post a meditation of my own on my spiritual practice, my life, and everything else that I do.

I don't get this world sometimes. Frankly, I don't think anyone really does. The longer I live, the more I recognize that nobody really knows how to do this "life" thing, and that people are learning what they can, building on past knowledge, and making up the rest as they go.

What it comes down to for me is understanding my Self, and understanding my Universe. Or perhaps more importantly... improving my relationship with Self, as well as my relationship with my Universe.

All I want to do is figure out my way through this universe in a way that works for me. I want to be happy and satisfied with my life. This seems to frequently include helping others find happiness and satisfaction, so that's cool.

I know that I sometimes get embroiled in drama-filled arguments about what certain labels mean or how people should behave or whatever. I know that sometimes, I get stuck on an emotional button that I need to deal with.

But most of the time... I think it would be best to constantly remind myself that my Goal is to improve my relationship with Self and Universe.

I figure that we're all more or less struggling with these same sorts of questions, trying to find our own answers to things. We're building systems of information and knowledge. Behavior and practice. etc. It's really a cool moment when I get to listen to another person share their knowledge, information, and practices with me. When they can tell me about what they've come up with to answering the great questions of the universe. I also absolutely love to share what I've come up with as much as I am able.

In my mind... what better way to improve my ability to relate to and understand Self and Universe than to engage in a community of people that are all openly sharing what they've come up with, and where I can share as well... where we are a community of creators, creating the universe itself around us as we seek to comprehend and define it... A community that constantly welcomes fresh insight and thought... That embraces innovation and creativity.

Let's face it... I'm an open source junkie when it comes to knowledge. Whether it be computers, spirituality, science, art, poetry, whatever. If you see anything in my life that I've created, and want to improve on it, go right ahead. And I'd absolutely love to take anything you share and improve upon it in turn. Maybe by working together we can come up with something even more awesome.

Hell, this entire LJ is under a Creative Commons license:

Creative Commons License
All public works within this journal not otherwise copyrighted or licensed are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

So when it comes to spirituality, religions and religious/spiritual practice of any sort... I am firmly and completely on the side of doing what is going to benefit me the most, and in my mind... that's practicing open sharing of information as much is possible and appropriate. I'm not saying that guarding information is always wrong... just that it is usually less useful than full and open sharing.

If I were to throw a label on myself, I guess I'd say that I'm an open source witch.

Anyone that wants to take issue with that can go right ahead. Haters always gonna hate... Who cares? I'm not in this for them. I'm in this for my Self and my Universe. I'll make my own decisions about what's true or not and folks that disagree can just deal.

Everyone else that wants to talk and build on our mutual experiences, come on over. :)

Multiple Person Disorder

A while back, I read a really interesting short story about a guy that had the opposite of "Multiple Personality Disorder." I forget the name of the story, but the idea was that this guy didn't have a body, but every day woke up in someone else's body, like one person spread across multiple people, instead of multiple people being inside one person.

The backstory is that some sort of mad scientist slowly removed more and more brain tissue from his child to try to get to the core of "self" that this person was. Unfortunately, the child turned out to be more or less a vegetable, and the father was eventually arrested on abuse charges.

But the child's brain didn't die. Instead, it began to sort of... possess other people around him... borrowing a day of life at a time from the brains of people within a few miles of his real body. Every night, when he went to sleep, his consciousness would involuntarily slip from one body to another, and he would live inside that body for that day.

From his perspective... he grew up watching everything changing around him. At first, he thought this was just normal. People literally changed bodies every single day. His body changed every day. He delighted in the various ways his parents looked day after day, often changing their bodies to match his. Of course... He thought everyone else was changing because he thought himself the static point in the universe.

It took until school to start realizing that he was the one that was changing, and that the world around him was actually remaining static. He took it very hard when he realized that his parents weren't "his" parents, but rather, they were the parents of the host body that he was occupying.

For years, he struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide, but realized that trying to kill himself might well be better described as murder in his unique situation. Hell... it might not even work and he'd just slip into another host.

The short story deals with him in the midst of this depression coming to discover his original body and the story of his sick father and what his father did to him. By the end of the story, he finally knows that he has a real name and a real body and resolves to strike out into the world and create a life for himself.

I've always wondered what happened next. A man that has been jumping from body to body for his entire life, struggling with depression over his condition, finally discovered his real body and finds determination to build his own life as something more than just a psychic parasite onto his host bodies. He can't occupy his own body because the brain damage is too severe, but he finally recognizes that he has a *self.*

So... Consider this a writing prompt or contemplation prompt. A person in this situation... one person spread across many bodies... How might you imagine someone dealing with this sort of thing? Growing up in such a confusing world of constantly changing houses/parents/siblings/whatever... How might someone go on to create a life for themself? How would people react to a person like this if they were to discover their secret?



Paradox Puree

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