flexagon: (Default)
Last week I went to view the mountains! No, not really. You'd just think that from the name of the town I visited, where my company is based. I had a good visit, and kept things simple by avoiding most social obligations and simply getting a massage on Wednesday to get my dose of physical touch.

On the flight back I got great news from the minion whose fate was hanging in the balance in my last corporate-whining post: he's found a job in his new office, helped along perhaps by my own letters to his soon-to-be-manager. Which means that my bumbling (and the director's bumbling) didn't ultimately cost him his job, and he's not lost to Zillian just because he's lost to my team -- which now happens at/around the end of October, rather than in two weeks. My relief practically made me melt on the plane.

In weirder news, [personal profile] norwoodbridge went from an OKC hello chat to "yeah, I liked her, we had sex!" with a new person while I was gone. I spent about a day having no idea how I felt about that, because I don't always access my emotional side too well while on a business trip (and I hadn't seen [personal profile] norwoodbridge for a week and a half at that point, so he wasn't feeling very real either). I was pleased a day or so later to find that I felt fine: the new girl seems cool, the whole thing is reasonable, she lives far enough away that she can't be, uh, super spontaneous in a way that would bother me. Basically I know Norwood's been wanting a new thing and this new thing seems good. I might even be compersing, mildly? Too early to say, but this very initial response seems decently in line with, I guess, being the person I'd like to be. More generous. Not so damn scared all the time.

([personal profile] heisenbug also has a first date on Thursday. The poly network is really hopping.)

I finished The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, a lovely SF book that focuses on the humanity of the characters (yes, even the alien ones) and generally satisfies. I foresee it making an appearance around Christmas for certain people who like it character-driven, and I also foresee its sequel arriving at my door in a couple of days. I'm trying to think what to compare it to... it has a small cast of specific characters kind of like Starfish or The Sparrow, but its characters have a warmth and depth more like The Book of Strange New Things or Never Let Me Go. At any rate, recommended.
flexagon: (racing-turtle)
I've had great luck with reading lately. I've been meaning for some time now to post about each of two books, and tonight (too sleepy to work effectively) is maybe a reasonable time to unload my brain.

Come As You Are is by Emily Nagoski of thedirtynormal.com fame. I think I've mentioned her before when writing about responsive desire and such.

Anyway, the coolest sex researcher in the world has written a WONDERFUL book whose title is a marvelous sexy pun, and I pretty much think every woman in this culture should read it. The reason I don't have a copy now is exactly that I gave mine away to the other woman in my Paris apartment a few days after I finished it.

Among the reasons it's awesome:

It talks about how sexual excitement isn't about one system that's on or off or whatever; it's about two systems, one that excites and one that inhibits, and how the two systems work antagonistically, and how sometimes pressing the accelerator doesn't help when one also has a foot stomped on the brake. (This is the dual control system and I knew this already from the blog, but still. Something about this chapter actually helped me understand a little more about how [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug operates, as well as how I do, so it wins points.)

It talks about the difference between sexual relevance (which genitals respond to) and what people actually LIKE, with their brains, and how these can be different and how that's okay, because noticing relevant data is just what genitals do. Relevant to both genders, and maybe particularly men since their genital response is often so very obvious to them.

It talks about stress (not applicable to just women OR to just sex, duh) and the differences between anticipating, enjoying, and eagerness (standing in for different brain systems). I wish I had the book now but she pretty much convinced me that these can occur in any combination... like, anticipating without eagerness or enjoying is what we usually call "dread". And eagerness without enjoying is a kind of panicky seeking after something for reassurance or the feeling of normality, rather than for joy. And so on. And all this can happen in the context of sex.

And it talks about normalcy, the wide wide range of normalcy, and how the reader is almost certainly not broken, how sex and women's sexuality in particular is glorious and frustrating and misunderstood, and there are step-by-step directions for masturbating oneself to a several-minute orgasm too. :-)

I am going to give a copy to my mom, and to [livejournal.com profile] bluechromis, and to [livejournal.com profile] phaseolus_v, and to every female-identified person on my Xmas list this year. I don't think I've liked a non-fiction book so much in years.
flexagon: (racing-turtle)
This one's for [livejournal.com profile] miyyu, because I actually do write book reviews. I usually just don't post them to LJ.

Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre crossed my desk because [livejournal.com profile] norwoodbridge and I were trying (between us) to read all the novels that had won both the Nebula and the Hugo. It was good, and I'm going to tell you why.

First, it was science fiction, despite the "healer with a magic snake" setup. I'm not sure if it was set on Earth, but it may have been (there weren't any giveaways, either way, on the order of "the second moon was just rising"). It is definitely post-nuclear-war, with wastelands of radioactive craters. Most people live in a pretty low-tech way, enabling some fantasy tropes to occur, but with some high tech remaining around genetics and biotech and vaccines; it is from this small, high-tech subculture that our heroine, a healer, comes. Also, biofeedback is common and is used by everyone (at least in the mountain cultures) for birth control and maybe also menses control for women. Lastly, there's one super high-tech city, with videoconferencing and firmly closed-up walls, that is in touch with "offworlders" for its own mysterious reasons.

Kickass female main character often felt small and grubby; was very human, yet also persistent and brave. Convincingly feminine, as well as being ethically non-monogamous; realistically sexual without coming across as indiscriminate. (This characteristic holds for the book itself, also -- the MC's main sex scene in the book ends up serving a major plot point.) She adopts a child during the course of the book, and this feels natural and organic, very real.

Gender stereotype busting. Main character and a man kind of fall in love at the beginning of the book, but are separated by their duties and life choices; as they wait to re-unite, he passes up the chance to have casually friendly sex and she does not, though they both think of each other at these times. Near the end of the book, when MC is trapped in a bad situation for a while and the love interest is catching up, he doesn't rescue her -- she rescues herself. (Sweet!) He finds her as she's stumbling tiredly toward her camp, 90% out of danger but still in need of some serious snuggles.

Poly-friendly. A romantically fully-involved triad requests the main character's help early in the book, as one of their party is badly injured. This is not commented on as either usual or unusual, merely taken in stride.

Not an overly tidy world. This is a "slice of life" book, not an "understand everything" book. The dreamsnakes are like magic because they are alien. There are "offworlders" in contact with the city. The city has different ideas about biotech than the out-of-city healers do. There are alien domes dotted around (one of them broken open) which hold alien biomes, and plants spill out from these and coexist with the local plants. We never find out much about these things; they're part of the backdrop of the world for MC, and therefore for us readers too. I might guess that panic over the alien contact is what triggered the nuclear war... but who knows.

Not an overly tidy plot. There are two main plot arcs. One is "The dreamsnake is dead, MC must get another dreamsnake so that she can be a healer" and the other one is the love story. These two both end reasonably neatly, but the path to each one is not straight. MC's first attempt to get a new dreamsnake, which takes considerable time, essentially comes to naught. The love story is interrupted by other options and possibilities for both MC and the love interest. There's the whole child-adoption arc, which fits into neither initial setup. It feels a bit Japanese, or... a bit like real life.
flexagon: (racing-turtle)
Mmm, life. That cold I wrote about last Sunday took me out completely on Monday, after which I rested and didn't get back to my upside-down ways until Friday. I get sore in such a nasty way when I don't work out -- all tense through the neck and traps, not a "used my body reasonably" sort of sore at all. After a circus party at Esh in which I got to do Spanish web and bungee and acro, and two partner acro semiprivate lessons this weekend, I'm feeling much more like myself.

Next disruption: massive snowstorm! I've punted on the afternoon's work to scurry down to Rhode Island and see [livejournal.com profile] norwoodbridge before it hits; a mildly risky move since I could conceivably get stuck for two nights, but it's easy to get work-forgiveness for messing up today's schedule, when half my team is working from home and Esh is probably canceled anyway. Also, it's already been 2.5 weeks since I saw him last, and, for those who don't know, well, my tactile memory is crap. :-( I forget what it's like to be with him, I start to doubt his reality overall. We've been dating other people (and dumping them, about which maybe more later) and all of that is fine, but it puts me more in the mode of feeling like a friend than feeling like a lover. I hate that... must fix.

Oh, look, my form submission failed a few hours ago, so I guess I can just continue:

All fixed now, and on the way back. Yay! It's kind of scary feeling a commuter rail skid on the tracks, though. And I don't like having gotten to within two stops of Boston and then having engine trouble.
flexagon: (begin each day)
Today feels drifty, dreamy, like a day that didn't happen, because I wasn't supposed to be on this bus back to Boston -- I was supposed to be doing acro and handbalancing at the British Invasion acro workshop in NYC at an awesome parkour gym.

What happened is, I reassessed. For one thing, I'm sick. For another thing, I was there without the Ant, who asked me to go in the first place but then just never committed, and ultimately didn't show. Yesterday I got to take the lesson I really wanted (inlocate to hand-to-hand as taught by Nathan Redwood Price) and picked up a couple of tips, and got to practice with a strong (but shaky and hard-to-read) base. Honestly, that and some handstand tips from Sammy Dinneen were most of what I wanted, along with meeting a new kitten who happens to now reside in New York. I also got to jump into a foam pit from about 15 feet up, a few times, and do back tucks into it from ground level -- FUN! (Also fun: assessing the physiques of the parkour guys who usually frequent the venue.) This morning I woke up, reviewed the day's schedule, examined my own symptoms and energy levels, and decided to call it good and go home.

It seems to be all of a piece with the way things have been going: acro getting less fun as I'm partnerless and plateaued, high-level workshops being kind of a waste of time without a dedicated base, travel getting less worthwhile now that there's such good stuff at home, and realizing how much more work I have to do on handbalancing. But I'm happy to be financially supporting the NYC scene and to have met the kitten, an anxious little wisp of a ragdoll who doesn't yet enjoy being held.

The sky has poured rain all day, giving things a swampy sleepy hallucinogenic feel. I'm really glad I'll be sleeping in my own bed tonight, and will have all day tomorrow in which I can get things done at my own pace. I've read about half of The Martian on this bus ride, and I'm enjoying it -- near-future science fiction with adventure, a plucky hero and plenty of humor (without seeming too Swiss Family Robinson). I can see how some people would have found it dry, but I'm enjoying it.
flexagon: (Default)
What does Santa bring you? Santa brings books to me and [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug. Santa brought All Cats have Asperger Syndrome, Animals in Translation, Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy, Geek Love, This is Your Brain on Music, Musicophilia, Dying Inside, Quo Vadis... but my favorite was, wait for it, Flexagons Inside Out. Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug, you make me smile.

Dinner was beef stew along with a bean-and-mushroom dish from my newest cookbook, the Veganomicon. It was pretty tasty, and despite several people telling me the beef-and-vegan combination was weird, um, no it isn't. First, people eat vegetable dishes (often vegan) in the same meal with with meat ones all the time. There's basically nothing more normal than that. Second, the beef stew was mostly plant-based itself, with only one non-plant ingredient out of six. All in all, the only bad thing is that we ran out of bowls and spoons, since we were just finishing up a big batch of chili when we started cooking all this. The mushroom/bean dish has a lot of thyme, and of course the mycoprotein from the mushrooms, and is savory as all get-out. I'd definitely make it again.

And I'd definitely play Dvonn again, even though I can't seem to win it.

Today was chore day, undecorating, feeding and walking other people's critters, and going to the bank to get my interest rate bumped up since I now have an actual lump of coal money in my savings account there. By way of incentive, I explained to the nice young man that if this could be done, I would close out another account elsewhere and put more coal in there. And that led to a longer discussion, culminating more or less in "yes, [livejournal.com profile] flexagon knows what she is doing". Ah, the nice young men who try to be helpful despite the fact that they're seeing about 1/8 of a situation. I left him, went to Starbucks, and finished knitting up a tiny sock for the sock blocker key chain Chia gave me for Christmas.

I am reminded that someone has basically wrecked our garage door, and something should be done. Like religion, I find my brain just won't focus on it. Unlike religion, though, to my displeasure, I can not-care about the garage all I please and I'll still have a garage.
flexagon: (Default)
I failed to get Beautiful Stranger in the mail in time for the retreat, which is probably just as well, since I would have gobbled it down on the plane and ended up leaving it in Mexico. [livejournal.com profile] miyyu posted about it a while ago and I had promised to share my thoughts when I read it... so here they are. (You can read [livejournal.com profile] miyyu's very good description of the book, about a young woman obsessed with beauty and cosmetic surgery, on her post.) I've been diagnosed with OCD and I've had minor cosmetic surgery (totally unrelated things for me, as far as I know) so I guess she thought I'd have some perspective or something.

My thoughts on the book, cosmetic surgery, transhumanism, responsibility and armpit hair... )
flexagon: (Default)
I went to dinner with a friend last night who lent me the study guide (i.e. 700-page textbook) for NASM personal trainer certification. It looks really cool. I may end up reading about half of it even if I end up with no desire to take the test.

I've been thinking again about the idea of owning my own gym (actually, I never stopped). It seems like something that could reasonably be approached gradually; and the fitness industry seems like a very plausible backup career option, but it would be a huge risk to jump there directly from here with my current level of savings. It seems like a better idea all around to wait, enjoy my time in software, and save up money, while slowly creeping toward credibility on the fitness side of things. Personal training certification would be a great step in that direction, and would open the way to doing that part time (it could be REALLY part-time, like one client per weekend, or more, like one day per week) to see whether I enjoy that aspect of the industry at all. A weak connection in my social network recently pointed out that a lot of what clients want from you in that situation is your enthusiasm -- and while I do have that when it comes to fitness, it might be very draining for me to work with unenthusiastic clients. Let's not even get into how it would pay a lot less.

I'm reading The Book of Lost Things by Jonathan Connolly, which was given to me by a smartypants friend of mine who kept seeing it compared to Coraline and thought I might like it. I thought it started off slowly, but it's rapidly improving -- and it's covered about 10 things that could easily have given me nightmares when I was small. It has fantastic twists on a number of old tales, such as a version of Little Red Riding Hood in which the main character is smart and independent, and chooses to "lie with a wolf" rather than a human husband because she's intrigued by his wildness. It ends badly for her eventually, but in the meantime she seduces the wolf, and plays a very creepy part in luring other women off into the woods. Yeah. Let's hear it for adult fairy tales. :)
flexagon: (Default)
Am I ever exhausted! Slacking off in CA was lovely but it seems to be over, and now I'm fighting off something. Two things though:

1) I read The Tipping Point while on the airplane to CA last Friday. It suggested an experiment that I decided to do: you list about 40 non-family, non-coworker people that you'd consider your "social circle", then for each person figure out who introduced you to that friend, and who introduced you to that person, etc. For example, I met [livejournal.com profile] miyyu all on my own, so I'm the introducing agent; but I met [livejournal.com profile] bluechromis through J who I met through H when I posted an ad looking for a subletter for my apartment. Apparently in most cases you'll find yourself discovering the same name over and over again; much or most of your social circle will trace back to the same "connecter" person.

What I found is that this isn't true for me. I met a lot of my social circle all by myself. There are only a couple of cases where I'm now closer to someone than I am to the person who introduced me to that person; [livejournal.com profile] heisenbug, who I met in concert choir because Vicky persuaded me to take it, is one, and [livejournal.com profile] bluechromis is another. The longest causal chain in my social circle that I could find is this: I met Whiplash Boy through Dark Sister who I met because she was friends with [livejournal.com profile] bluechromis, who was going out with J who was best friends with H when I posted that fateful ad. Of course, I just realized that I wouldn't have come to LJ if not for [livejournal.com profile] bluechromis, either, so maybe my LJ friends should all reference her. Maybe I'm a little bit wrong and I have a prime mover in my social life after all. :) I have a lot of ex-coworkers though, and ex-roommates and other people I met without help.

2) I went to adult gymnastics at MIT for the first time, and not only do they have actual equipment there but the teacher is so much less insane than the Jamnastics guy. We actually warmed up! He also spotted me a few times on cartwheeling out of handstand, and zowie, it felt weird. No wonder I wasn't getting it on my own. That really helped. I also did a pretty decent negative hs press, tucking down in a semi-controlled way, and that was nice. So that's what I'll be doing on Wednesday nights for now; just have to avoid the evil drill where we did cartwheels from kneeling, because that seems to have done some trashy things to my right hamstring. To make up for the lost yoga class I'll be taking advanced yoga on Mondays instead. Possibly Saturdays too. I really want to get back to doing yoga 3x/week.
flexagon: (Default)
Oh god, I don't feel like doing code-type thinking today. I feel verbal. And if anyone names the story that verbal gerbils are from, I'll give you cookies.

* For one thing, I just finished Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin (you've heard of her, yes? The high-functioning autistic woman who designs animal handling systems). As with anything on autism, a lot of things she said aroused echos in me. Most especially, it made me really, really wonder again whether the things I feel during social interactions are the things other people feel. Read more... )

* For another thing, I keep having to relearn some really simple physics regarding handstands! Note to self: to straddle up easily you must bring your head forward of your hands before trying to jump anywhere, doofus. Without that, it's hard. Based on yoga tonight, letting the head come through also helps a lot when trying to jump feet to hands with straight legs.

* We just interviewed a managerial candidate today who I would actually like to work for/with. It's a woman I once knew (just barely) from a figure skating club I used to go to, which might have been a little odd but actually wasn't. I hope we have the resources to get her. I don't want a sucky manager.

* Found out what the deal is with "im in ur something verbing ur somethingelse":

http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/index.php/I_am_in_your_base_killing_your_d00ds

* Lastly, house stuff. I just got a letter from my gym letting me sign up for 1,2 or 3 more years, which made me wonder whether we'll have this condo for three more years. Answer: yeah, probably. We haven't even fixed up the kitchen yet! There is some work going on right now though -- the front and back stairwells are both being replastered, which means both sets of stairs are entirely covered with weird, really strong paper, and we can't get out our front door, and it smells funny and white powder is coming in under the doors. I'm glad now that our insurance made us get handrails, because that led to "well, while we're messing with the stairwells why don't we just..." and the walls have been in lousy shape ever since we moved in.
flexagon: (Default)
As some of you probably know, the 13th Lemony Snicket book (The End) comes out tomorrow, on Friday the 13th. I have some morning meetings and then I'm going to run across to the mall and buy/devour it.

I just reread book 12 (The Penultimate Peril) last weekend to get myself on track. While doing a bit more online research today, I came across a pretty complete list of literary allusions in the series that left me feeling like a completely uneducated Cro-Magnon. I mean, I recognized quite a few things. I know what short story Esme Squalor's name comes from, I recognize Mr. Poe, I laughed at the name of the Silent Spring, I smiled when Sunny says "akrofil" to mean "they certainly are fond of high places"... and yet!

From the back of The End:Read more... )

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