Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Youtoo

I have seen a lot of women posting on social media with the #metoo tag.  They are talking about their experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault, and the sheer number of them that I know who are sharing their stories is hard to deal with.  It is made far worse by the fact that so many have terrible stories to tell who aren't telling them for one reason or another - the stories I have seen are just the beginning.  Of course there are men (and people who are neither men nor women) posting these stories too, but the ones that I know whose #metoo posts have affected me are women, so that is the thing I will focus on.

Awareness is great and useful but the real key is a commitment to change and that has to happen from men or little will change since men are the great majority of the offenders.  We have to step up and make it clear that we believe these stories, that we want the world to be different and better, and that we will take the steps we can to change it.

So I will join my voice to the chorus and say that I want a world where women are not sexually harassed and assaulted, and that I believe them when they say they are.  It is not their fault, it is the fault of those harassing and assaulting them.

I will refuse to make excuses for predatory behaviour because the predator has other traits I admire.  Just because I like what you make does not mean you are not doing something evil.

I will call out catcalling and other harassment.  I will not let it slip by.  I will not ignore misogyny when I see it, and I will examine my actions and thoughts for internalized misogyny to do my best to catch myself.

I will work hard to educate people, particularly young boys, to try to show them a better way to be so that they may do less harm than the generation before them.

When I screw up I will own it, apologize for it, and not do it again.  I will not ask women do the emotional labour of coping with my apology or atonement.

I wish the world was a better place and these stories were not true.  But they are true, and we must work to make there be less of them.  I will work to recognize the mistakes of my past and do what I can do nudge the world toward a better future where people don't need to take to social media by the millions to post their stories of trauma and heartache just to get people to believe that there is a problem at all.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving this year had a new thing for me.  It has been 15 years that I have been attending Thanksgiving events with Wendy's family and this year I did that again.  But I also went to The Flautist's family Thanksgiving dinner too.

I don't care about Thanksgiving at all.  I like the usual food that accompanies it but the day itself is utterly meaningless to me.  Most holidays are that way for me, with the possible exception of Christmas since I have so many positive memories associated with it.

There are all kinds of things swirling about in this.  I really like the idea of being a part of the family for someone I am dating but not married to.  Doing this sort of thing makes me feel like I am part of a larger web and also that my relationships that don't include living together are more ... real somehow.  Like there is an added legitimacy to it once you do things like go home for Thanksgiving dinner with a partner.  I don't place all that much importance on that sort of recognition, but it is a thing I can't ignore.  Meeting the family adds a level to a relationship that has impact whether we want it to or not.

The odd thing about that though is that I can't easily return the favour.  My family lives far away and inviting someone for a family get together would usually involve a full week staying up north.  That has the trouble of costing a bunch of money, requiring a serious time investment, and requires everyone to be around each other for a week. 

Inviting partners home for family things has appeal but these logistical issues do make it a tricky affair.  Plus there is always the potential struggle of navigating people's attitudes.  Lots of poly people find that their partners are not invited to family affairs to cater to people's bigotry.  I didn't feel that at all at The Flautist's Thanksgiving because people were welcoming to me, though of course I don't know what is actually going on inside their heads.

If I invited somebody home I don't know exactly how it would go.  I know mostly everyone would be fine with it and most of the rest would be weirded out but polite.  But there is at least one person who would not be okay with it, and I am pretty sure that no discussion on the matter could be fruitful.  I won't hide and I won't lie, but I don't want to have a giant mess during a family get together either.  My instinct is to just charge in and tell everyone to bloody well cope but inviting someone home for a week saying "Want to meet a ton of new people all at once, and oh by the way, this might be full of awkward tension." isn't ideal.

If my family was close by this would have been resolved by this point one way or another but the raw logistics have made it not a thing so far.  Makes me wonder how long it will be before I have to really sit down and navigate the challenge of family vs. living outside the norm.

The end of 100

I just finished binge watching The 100 Season 4.  (Massive spoilers ahead).  While I was watching it was entirely clear to me that the show was ending.  The last few episodes saw main characters being killed off at a rate that would make George RR Martin proud.  All the plotlines were resolving themselves.  Romances were coming to fruition.  They even set up an ironic twist to how all the characters who were going to survive would manage to make it.

Then in a massive explosion filled final few minutes nearly the entire population of the earth was wiped out, the most important character in the series died saving her closest friends, and the story finished on a hopeful note despite all the tragedy.

And then somebody said "Oh shit!  We have enough of an audience to keep cranking this stuff out for more money.  Quick, find some way to have the main hero not die, and make up some ridiculous stuff to have a new season of the show!"

This show has had major changes in it every season, so massive shifts at the end of a season are the norm.  Season 1 was Teenagers vs. The Wild.  Season 2 was Teenagers vs. High Tech Underground Dwellers.  Season 3 was Teenagers vs. Evil A.I.  Season 4 was Teenagers vs. Wall of Fire.  Each time the scope of the show shifted drastically and the characters' struggles were quite different.  I liked that!  It kept things fresh and new and while the later seasons were not nearly as tightly written as the first one I still enjoyed them.

But this is a whole different level.  The story was done, finished.  The ending felt right to me.

And here's the thing:  I don't object to more seasons categorically.  I enjoy the show, I want more of it.  It is just that if you set up heroic deaths for characters and then have them shrug those off, and if you set up Total Apocalypse and then just fast forward past it, the big things you have set up fall completely flat.

A lot of the big emotional moments in this show, like any show, don't have world shattering stakes.  When Finn dies in season 1 it is a big deal and the audience feels it despite the fact that it is just one person.  You don't need an apocalypse to make us care, so if you use one you really ought to let it have the proper impact.  What I am saying is, you don't need a wall of fire a kilometer tall that stretches from horizon to horizon to get me involved, but if you conjure up said wall of fire then you had damn well better let it burninate the countryside.

If I had just forgotten to watch the last four minutes of the show everything would have been fine!  I would have been quite happy with the resolution and gone away thinking that finally somebody had the guts to end a show correctly.  Faugh.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Getting the guns out

Recently there was a mass shooting in Las Vegas.  58 people died and hundreds were injured by a single person with a huge collection of guns.  Gun control has been a huge topic on the internet as a result, and stocks in gun companies have shot up on the assumption that people will buy guns trying to get ahead of possible gun control laws.

The debate is a mess.  Talking about it is tough because we get bogged down in details, when what most people want is for action to be taken that will change the status quo.  For example, people will call for bans on assault rifles, not realizing that 'assault rifle' is not a well defined thing.  What differentiates a semi automatic rifle from another one that is classed as an assault rifle but which is pretty much equally dangerous?  Random details in the gun laws, that is the only practical difference.  Ban assault rifles and gun manufacturers will just make new guns that are outside the definition of assault rifle and you are back to where you started.

It is true that 'ban all assault rifles' is nearly worthless as policy, but the trick is that gun regulations in general aren't particularly effective as policy.  25% of Canadian households have guns, and 38% of American ones do, and yet the mass shooting rate in the US is somewhere between 4 and 6 times higher, depending on how you count it.  Most shootings don't include really powerful, large, military grade weapons either.  The difference is less in the number of guns or who owns them, and more in the culture.

You can't legislate away the toxic masculinity that goes along with gun fetishization.  You can't write a law that tells people that going out in a hail of bullets is pathetic rather than brave.  You can try to write laws to get the most dangerous of the guns out of people's hands, but those are only going to be modestly effective, especially in a country like the US where there are already more guns than people.

What is actually necessary is a change in thinking.

The US needs it especially, but the rest of the world could use a dose of venerating nonviolence.  The culture of honour that demands that you be able to defend yourself violently from attackers is incredibly destructive and it leads to all kinds of deaths, both deliberate and accidental.

We will get modest results at best from legislating away guns.  We should still do it, but that isn't actually the thing that needs changing most urgently.  The real culprit is the belief that having guns and using them makes you a big shot, powerful, worthy of respect.

"Ban assault rifles" is not useful policy.  This is true.  But the appropriate response to such a statement isn't "Bah, we can't define this correctly, so we shouldn't bother."

The appropriate response is "Guns are a problem, so I am going to get rid of my guns, and so should everyone else."

When people minds have changed, and guns are seen as the problem rather than the solution, then the laws will change with them pretty nearly effortlessly.

As to how to convince the gun enthusiasts to come around en masse and advocate for a gun free society... I don't have a lot of good answers for that.  I wish I did.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sleep is dangerous

Yesterday I was looking at a picture of myself from my wedding day.  The difference in my appearance from then to now was momentarily shocking.  The usual things have changed - my hairline has receded a lot, my hair has gone from solid brown to salt and pepper, and I have a few extra lines on my face.  Like a lot of people I guess these changes snuck up on me, and only seeing an example of myself before I really had any signs of aging made it hit home.

Those things don't bother me though.  If a beautician fairy showed up and offered to give me back hair and make it brown again I wouldn't take them up on it.  This is me now.  Those changes are the marks of my life, the way my body has become different in response to all the things I have done and experienced.  That younger version of me isn't really me anymore.  (If the fairy offered to get rid of my acne, I would take that in a *second*.  Other things, probably not.)

The thing I really notice though is how slowly I heal.  Near the end of August I slept oddly on my hand and it has been messed up ever since.  In the time span from then to now I have done lots of really heavy physical labour, worked out to the point of failure and exhaustion many times, paddled a canoe for hours and tossed a canoe up on my shoulders, and any number of other things that might hurt me.  But no, the injury that continues to plague me is a sore wrist I got from sleeping wrong.

In years gone past this wouldn't have stuck with me like this.  A silly injury like that would have just faded away in no time.  But now it takes me a long time to get past it and even though it has been a month and a half the healing isn't done.  I am nearly there, I think, but I can still feel it when I stretch my hand around to test its boundaries; the injury isn't gone yet.

It makes me wonder about my workout regimen, and how it will affect me long term.  Being in shape is a good way to avoid injuries, but lifting heavy weights and really pushing myself to greater feats of strength is likely to cause injuries instead.

Anyone that knows me well probably assumes that I am not the least interested it taking it easy in my workouts and just maintaining what I have.  That assumption is correct.  I am going to push myself to get bigger, stronger, and more, or I am going to not bother.  That isn't what a doctor would advise I expect, but I know how I am.

I suppose I ought to be thinking about this whole healing thing carefully though.  Injuries I would have laughed off fifteen years ago are likely to be a lot more of a problem now, and trying to avoid them makes sense.

If only I was the sort of person who was willing or interested in doing that.

Which, to be sure, I am not.  I am kind of stupid that way.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Pushing and Pulling

One of the standard ways to go about organizing your weight lifting is Push, Pull, Legs.  That is, you operate on a 3 day cycle where you focus on exercises that involve pushing with your arms, pulling with your arms, and then leg exercises of all sorts.  For my entire eighteen month workout career I have been trying to do all of my upper body exercises in a single day and it eventually became a problem.  As my weights went up the amount of time it took to do everything kept increasing and my state when I was done kept deteriorating.

Over the past little while I would finish my upper body day in about 90 minutes and just collapse in front of my computer for an hour.  I was stunned, unable to do much of anything.  My muscles were strong enough to handle the new weights, but the amount of energy I was outputting had become a problem.

I decided to split up my exercises into two rough Push / Pull groups and see if I could get them done faster and feel better afterwards.  When the weights were smaller I could get the whole routine done in an hour so I assumed breaking it up like this would mean I could do my 90 minute workout in two 30 minute chunks over two days.  Heck, with doing half of the work on any given day I felt like maybe my weights or reps would go up.

It turns out I can't, and they didn't.  I get through it in 30 minutes no problem but I can't do the same number of reps I was before.  Even though I am doing half the work in a given workout I am compressing my exercises much closer together and this is a problem.  I do circuit style training where I do a single set of every exercise and then do another single set, so my sets of dips, for example, would be about 30 minutes apart.  Now that I am doing dips 3 times in 30 minutes my dips sets are only 10 minutes apart and I just can't keep up my rep numbers.

I certainly found that the 30 minute workouts leave me feeling more energized.  Instead of feeling like I need to just stand there like a zombie for an hour I need only a few minutes and I can get back into whatever it was I was doing before. 

I find it funny that I am so bad at predicting my body's limits.  I would have thought that after all these years I would have developed some kind of decent ability to know what tires me out and how, but apparently even something simple like figuring out whether splitting out my pushes and pulls will tire me out more or less is beyond my ability to know.

I suppose it is an opportunity to know myself better.  I could just spend a full 90 minutes doing my pushes and see where my reps numbers are at, obviously with a huge amount of resting in between each set.  Then try it at 45 minutes for the full workout.

Time to do some more science.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Take most of it off

Yesterday I went to a burlesque show.  I think most people would assume it would be the sort of thing I would like.  I like sex, I like naked people, and this show was about women taking off most of their clothes and singing raunchy songs.

It didn't do it for me.

This has nothing to do with the performers.  I think they did a good job.  It has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with me.  The first burlesque show I saw many years ago was the same thing - I went to see Spins and she did a fantastic performance that I enjoyed because it showcased her talent and athleticism.  But the rest was a total bore in that it did nothing for me though again the performers seemed to do a fine job doing a thing I just don't care about.

I think the problem here is my dual nature again.  Director is pretty much asexual, and just doesn't care about naked people.  He likes the theory of nudity and the destruction of social norms surrounding clothes but the sexiness of the show slides right off.  Director can admire the skill of the performers or the structure of the show but the sex just fails to sell.

Passion loves sex.  But Passion has no interest whatsoever in sitting passively while a sexy show occurs.  If I could masturbate, or have sex with somebody else while the show was going, or have sex with the performers, any of these would make it all work quite well.  But to just sit there?  Fuck that noise.  No interest.  Call me when it gets exciting.

The problem is that one of the two has to be in charge.  Director gets nothing out of the show, but Passion isn't interested, and when that happens Director ends up driving.  I end up watching the show disinterestedly, clapping at the points I know I am supposed to, but mostly watching a show that is trying to do one thing simply doesn't work on me.  I end up being Director, coldly examining the show, bored.

I suppose it doesn't help that the two times I have seen burlesque the volume was cranked up *way* too high for me and I found it quite unpleasant.  I often cringed at a peak of noise and it felt almost like physical pain.  I am way more sensitive to noise than most people I guess, and this certainly made the experience a poorer one.  I doubt though that a quiet show would have worked for me but it would have been less jarring.

Perhaps this also explains why I have never had interest in stripteases.  I don't like teases.  Director doesn't get it, and Passion has no fucking time for just sitting there.  He wants to DO, not observe.

Long term I guess it is good to know what I want.  I am one of those people who loves sex, but isn't interested in vaguely sexy things, or sexy teasing, or sexy shows.  I want sex, itself, in all its meaty goodness.  Or not.  But the halfway in between thing really isn't my cup of tea.