Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On your own

Elli plays lot of video games.  This goes all kinds of different ways, ranging from her finding things on her own and learning them without my influence to her wanting to play games I play and pushing me to play with her.  I am often surprised by how she ends up finding games and figuring them out - sometimes she asks for help and I am baffled because I have no idea how the game works at all.

That kind of thing is fun though.  It is neat to see her pick up skills I don't have and explore new worlds all on her own.

It isn't as good when she wants to follow me though.  Recently I have been playing World of Warcraft again with Wendy and Elli wants to join up.  The problem is that when she has me along she never bothers to learn or think at all.  She expects me to hold her hand all the time in all decisions.  She has no interest in figuring the game out.  She just wants to follow my character around.

Quite frankly that is boring as hell.

Obviously I don't expect her to be an instant expert on a game, especially one where I have played for years and know so much.  I expect her to start at the beginning and have to learn it all.  What I wish though is that she would put effort in to do so.

I think it is hard for her because she can see that no matter how hard she tries she will never know all the things I know.  In a game I have mastered there is little point in her trying as she can never compete.  I get that.

It just means that games that I am really involved in aren't good ones for her to play.  It is far better for her, and far more fun, to play a game that I know nothing about so she can sort it out for herself.

I remember this kind of thing from my youth.  I remember having to learn how to install games on our family computer so I could play DOOM.  It took some doing, but I eventually managed it, and the process of doing so was really rewarding.  If my parents had just done it all and then told me what to do and how to play at every point it would have really lacked something.  Reaching out and exploring without a teacher hovering is critical to having fun!

While I like the idea of playing games with her it seems like a tall order.  Either I know a game inside out and she won't much enjoy it, or I don't know a game and am not interested in playing it.  I don't do games casually very often so it is hard for us to have similar levels of mastery.

It is a dilemma I have no good answers for yet.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

An old sadness

Today I took Elli to see Casa Loma, a castle here in Toronto.  It was built in 1914 to look like a really old school castle but used construction techniques current to that time.  Basically an outrageously wealthy couple built the place to establish themselves as having more money than all the other upper class folks, lived there for ten years until they lost their fortune, and eventually died penniless.

It was depressing.

There were all kinds of interesting facts there, and artwork that was neat, and all the other things you would expect in a weird historic site like that.  I just couldn't get past the way the tour took the inequality made evident in the castle in stride.  The ruling couple had every single wall covered in carvings, $20 million worth of art (in 2016 dollars), and imported a marble staircase from Europe to be just the thing for the main hall.

The servants, on the other hand, worked 16 hours a day, six days a week, for a pittance.  The audio tour made it clear that this place was an amazing place to be a servant though, because the servants were allowed to use the bathrooms indoors and weren't made to use the outhouse.

Of course they should tell the truth about the way things were, but I do wish there was a bit more recognition of how much of a disaster this inequality was.  It isn't good that servants were usually expected to sleep in drafty attics and just freeze all winter while the upper class people had comfy beds pre warmed for them.

I think a lot of people will dismiss this as ridiculous.  Am I really so worried about the way that we portray the treatment of servants over one hundred years ago?  That it ignores the inequalities of the time?

I guess so.  Learning more about the world, seeing the mess that it is, makes it harder for me to just ignore these things and enjoy the suits of armour and crenellated towers.  I can't help but look about at the human cost of these things and the way that such effort was expended just to make a very few people look important.

Things haven't changed that much.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tipping point

When I got my tattoos done a week ago I had a choice to make about money.  After swiping my card the credit machine popped up with a prompt to leave a tip for the tattoo artist.  I was surprised by this, not because I thought that you specifically don't tip tattoo artists, but simply because I hadn't thought about it at all.  The hour was late, I was tired, and the people clearly wanted to close up and go home, so I didn't have time to google 'tipping tattoo artist' and figure it out.  I ended up just tipping $40 even and hitting go.

Being me though I couldn't just leave it there.  I had to find out what the correct tip was so I would not make the same mistake twice at the very least.  It turns out that tipping tattoo artists is not so simple as tipping wait staff at restaurants - there doesn't seem to be any 15% standard agreement.  Instead I was told to tip somewhere between 5% and 35%, which is not useful.  Also the tip amount varies on whether the artist works for themselves, how much additional time they put in, and even the size of the bill.  Tipping on a % is not a useful way to express your tip if the % varies based on how long you were in the chair!

At any rate my tip only worked out to about 5% of the cost.  It seems like my artist probably gets to keep about half the take and the other half goes to the business, so she took home $450 for 4.5 hours of work.  Pretty good!

But the setup and takedown and such for my tattoos filled up the remainder of her shift, so her billing hours were really only half the hours she spent.  Plus they offer free touchups so she is definitely going to have to put in another bunch of time to fix me up perfectly after the healing is done.

Also there is the complication that tattoo artists have to pay for some of their own materials and tools, but how much is completely beyond me.

So there doesn't seem to be any real authority from which to determine a tip amount.

There also isn't any useful way for me to figure out what a 'proper' wage might be since there are so many variables and guesses.

However, my % is on the lowest end, and even though people mostly recommended tipping low % for relatively expensive work, I don't want to be the lowest.

As such I wandered back into the tattoo place a couple days ago and asked them to give the artist another $40 to double my tip.  It still isn't a lot of money, but it seems like enough to be reasonable.  They seemed pretty surprised by this.  I guess most people coming in a few days after are asking questions, panicking about healing, or complaining.  They probably don't often just show up to hand over more money voluntarily.

Anyhow I feel like my mission is accomplished.  That is, I no longer feel self conscious about my tip and it seems defensible so I will just move on and think about other things.  That is how people mostly make these sorts of decisions I imagine, though perhaps my research and consideration of the choices was an outlier.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Does this hurt?

My arms hurt.

I got tattoos yesterday on both shoulders, and while I love the tattoos themselves, the damage my body sustained is kind of annoying.  It turns out that poking one thousand tiny holes in my skin is painful.  Who knew?

People talk about how much pain is involved in getting tattoos but I wasn't at all sure what to expect for myself.  I know that getting them right on the meat of my shoulder as I am should minimize the suffering but I couldn't really translate that to what it would actually feel like.

Before I really got started somebody in the tattoo parlour fainted, which apparently is a fairly common occurrence.  That didn't fuss me any though as fainting really isn't a thing that affects me.  I don't like being poked with needles but it isn't going to knock me out.

Initially the pain was quite trivial.  No worse than the pain from running really hard or other strenuous exercise.  I didn't have the runner's high to compensate of course, but it just wasn't much of a thing.

Later it got pretty unpleasant.  I grunted and winced a lot, and by the end I really had to dissociate a fair bit to be able to ignore the pain.  I was able to read my book all right but I wouldn't have been able to think clearly or have a decent conversation.  I couldn't really tell if the increase in pain over time was due to fatigue, hunger, or a shift in the way the artist was working.  The last parts were filling in big areas which apparently hurts more but putting together the parts of the changes in pain is challenging.

At any rate it wasn't that bad.  It was a long time though - five hours actually in the chair being stabbed wears you down, even if the pain isn't really much of a problem in the beginning.  Perhaps when I get tattoos in more delicate places things will be different.  However, I can say that all those people that told me that I wouldn't be able to sit in the chair being tattooed for more than a couple hours were wrong!  Hah!

Things are kind of unpleasant today though.  My shoulders are really sore, especially when I move my arms up and bend the damaged skin.  Showering was actually quite easy but hoo boy did it sting a lot after I had gotten out and carefully dried myself off.  Sleeping was also challenging as I couldn't sleep on either side so I ended up on the couch on my back propped up with lots of cushions.  It wasn't the best.

Final conclusions about the pain:  It is annoying, for sure.  But the pain of getting a tattoo is definitely not the thing that will delay me from getting more of them.  The price holds that honour, as I certainly found it hard to swallow the cost.  Once I convince myself to spend the money, the physical suffering is a small thing in comparison.  If somebody gave me ten grand to spend getting myself tatted up I would be in the parlour an awful lot over the next few months, you can be sure of that.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

I would like to axe you a question

I got my tattoos today!  It took a long time, longer than I had thought, but they are on my body and I have no regrets and they are beautiful.  I was in the tattoo parlour for almost eight hours, though not all of that was spent in the chair being poked and prodded, as the artist spent some time modifying my designs a bit to suit.


I got an axe on my right arm, because that is my weapon arm.  A shield on my left.  And it is a wyvern, dammit, not a dragon.  See the stinger on the tail.

I was actually pretty surprised at how good the detail managed to be on my pictures.  I wasn't really expecting to get the pictures to look so good under a close inspection but I am so pleased.  The shop was closing and my skin was starting to be very angry about the abuse so we didn't end up filling in the entirety of the shield with a grey background.  I can get it finished up later if I do end up wanting that - I can't quite decide yet what I think.  It looks good, but maybe with a steel grey it would be even better?  Hard to say.

The artist just next to the one that did these tattoos is apparently an armour specialist, and was listening to a DnD podcast while working, and loves all things fantasy.  He was talking about playing a gnome in an upcoming DnD game, and while I can't say I am behind the whole gnome thing, he sounds perfect for my next tattoo.  I want a paladin (heavily armoured warrior) on my lower back.  So I might be going back for more pain and suffering, and also more looking awesome!

I had some fantastic conversations with the artist about all kinds of things, and faced a bit of a conundrum.  She and I had a lot of things in common - we discussed science fiction novels, authors, roleplaying games, video games we loved, politics, and polyamory, which both of us are involved in.  If I had a multiple hour conversation with someone with so much in common in most contexts I would ask them out in a heartbeat, but I hesitate in doing such things when someone is at work.  For one, there are often restrictions surrounding flirting and/or dating customers at work, especially when giving out contact information could be a professional issue because of worries about poaching customers.  For two, women get hit on at work all the time and have to grin and bear it or face the consequences, and I hate that.  I don't want to be that guy.  I assume that goes double for female tattoo artists since they end up spending so much time in close proximity to clients.

(Aside:  I have never spent half a day with my hand dangling in someone's lap without somebody's clothes coming off before!)

So I ended up concluding that I had no reason to think I should actually ask her out, and good reasons not to.  It is tricky, because I dislike not doing things that could be fun for everyone because of propriety, but I really don't want to assume that a professional relationship can be more than that without some kind of unmistakable signal, and I didn't have that.

And hell, I can't complain because it was a fun few hours no matter how you slice it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A sign

Sleep has been difficult lately.  For nearly all my life I have had a consistent sleep pattern - I sleep on one side for an hour or so, wake up, roll over to my other side, then fall back asleep immediately.  Actually getting to sleep for the first time has been occasionally difficult, but once I go to sleep I am extremely predictable.

Or I *was* predictable, at any rate.

Now my shoulders hurt and my arms don't fit properly and everything is weird.  I don't quite know what happened or how, exactly.  I can't even say if it was all in one day or if it slowly crept up on me.  I just know that I used to be one way and now I am another and I don't like it one bit.

When I lie on my side my elbow feels strange, as though everything is bent in a not quite right way.  My shoulder gets sore much more quickly than it used to, and I have to turn and flip about a lot more than before.  I move my arms about from position to position, looking for that effortless comfort I once enjoyed, but it is elusive.

I don't know for sure what caused this.  I have been working out, but having more muscle mass on my shoulders and arms should make things easier rather than harder.  I can't see why padding myself would make me hurt, and these changes seem to continue regardless of how frequently or recently I have lifted.  The obvious answer then is that I am simply getting older and feeling the effects.  Mostly I feel great about my body, since I don't get fussed about greying hair or receding hairline and those are the only really notable concessions to age so far.  But this arm sleep thing seems like the first real sign of ageing that I can't just ignore.

It is all very irritating.  Naked Man and I have an ongoing debate where I claim I will feel wonderful forever and he claims I will suddenly be full of pain, weakness, and frailty as my fortieth birthday looms.  I was really hoping to make it to at least 42 or so before having to admit that my age was getting to me... I could have used that extra four years of victorious taunting.

As it is though I think I need to ramp up my pillow usage.  I have used a knee pillow for years, but I think I might need to graduate to a body pillow that I can snuggle with while I sleep.  One arm on top, one on the bottom, and it can provide the knee pillow effect as well.

Extra pillows so I can convince my aching body to just go to sleep.  One more step into the cold clammy blackness of the grave, I guess.