Real Sexy Cyborg

I’ve only taken a cursory glance at Naomi Wu’s (@realSexyCyborg) twitter, and I like what I see. She hooked me with the last line of her bio:

“Everything is about merit until merit has tits”

I love this because I do believe in competence as a valid construct, and I do believe in competent women (and men) and I don’t appreciate it when people subvert meritocracy. This quote is an excellent quip encoding a response to three obnoxious attitudes:

  1. You can’t have merit because you have tits
  2. I don’t need to have merit because I have tits
  3. Forget your merit; let’s talk about your tits

Old Fashioned Sexism

The first attitude is old fashioned sexism; you are female so you cannot possibly be competent. The weaker version of this is: you are female so you cannot possibly be as competent as most men. Fortunately, I have been spared exposure to this. I can imagine it would fan the flames of indignity in anyone’s heart to the point of resentment and retribution.

New Fashioned Progressivism

Working a corporate job, I encounter the second item quite often. This is about including people, promoting people or providing people access to spaces and resources just because they are female. You can tell me all you want about historical wrongs that need righting, but I will never attend an event to be the token, or join a group “for” my gender.

Puritanical Prevarication

Similar to the first, but more sexual in nature. This is when no one objects to your competence or participation but can’t contain their attraction to the point where they can see you as more than your body.

I actually have some sympathy for this view point. Arguments about psychological effects of attractiveness on perceived and actual competence aside; I’m not here to shame anyone for normal human sexuality. This tweet sums up what I’m talking about nicely:

Naomi Wu Tweet

I’m guessing that Naomi is referring to commenters ignoring the lesson in lieu of her (lack of) dress. This implies that her outfit  is a more pressing matter than her content. The magic of the internet is that, if you’re (understandably) distracted by the presenter, you can just watch a different video. The shit move is to try to shame your sense of propriety onto the presenter. If you can’t enjoy material if it’s too “sexy” that’s your problem, not hers.


I like the quote. I like merit. I like tits. I like competent people. I don’t appreciate it when people try to undermine measures of competence with non relevant criterion.


Disclaimer

I don’t know if this is what Naomi meant by her quote as I only have it out of context.

Centaur Playing a Lyre

I pulled into my usual parking spot, near a large tree at the end of the lot. Underneath sat a centaur, legs wreathed in ethereal flames. As I stepped out we locked eyes; his forehead he bore the mark of Gal’esh, Lord of Liars.

“Are you real?” I asked.

“No” he replied.

The flames crackled and grew brighter.

Mount Rose – Failed Attempt

Memorial Day weekend was fucking great.

Miki surprised me by taking me to hike Mount Rose, a hew-edge mountain a little north of Lake Tahoe. This from the man that says he doesn’t hate hiking but “I don’t like to walk uphill.” Nevertheless, he has become quite the hiker and I was up to my eyeballs in glee as we ascended through clouds to the trail head.

I must be Stockholm’d by Michigan weather because I was beyond excited to hike a snow covered mountain in freezing weather. Unfortunately this excitement was premature. I did not check out the destination out before packing and we set out woefully ill-equpped. Perhaps “woefully” is a bit dire, but snow shoes would have been nice.

The trek is really cool, you circle around Mount Tamarack, then then climb partially up Mount Houghton for the final summit of Mount Rose. We only made a partial summit of Mount Tamarack before heading back. The blue line indicates our path out, the red our path back.Mount Rose Hike with trail completed markers

The trek started off easy, but trail conditions quickly worsened. Our sandy, gently inclining path dissolved into deep snow. This retarded forward progress and obscured the trail so we decided to summit Mount Tamarack (instead of circle) to avoid the snow. We didn’t make it far before we ran into snow on the summit and decided if we were going to hike through deep snow anyways it might as well be on the official trail.

We slid down the side of the mountain until my map said the trail was right below us. Bounding down a snow covered hillside had given me a boost of energy. Miki was faring much worse. He was exhausted and his tennis shoes were soaked and his feet freezing. Not seeing anything but pristine snowbanks we decided to call it quits and began the painful, snow-filled struggle uphill to rejoin the dry part of the trail.

Near the trail head we pulled out the quadcopter for a quick test drive. I buzzed us once or twice and when I I got bored I tried the auto land feature and promptly broke a propeller off. Wamp.

We changed out of our wet clothes and drove around looking for a campsite.  Unfortunately, in California you need to pay hotel rates and book months in advance to reserve a campsite. Fortunately, Mount Rose is a wilderness area so anyone can camp anywhere. So we drove back and packed out tent and bag. We hiked up to the first ridge and pitched our tent in a tiny space between a tree and a snow drift. It was far from ideal. It was cramped, slightly sloped and had a tree root underneath but it was all we could find. As we settled into to camp, the visibility worsened, snow starting falling and the winds howled. I loved it.

Miki zipping up a tent in the Mount Rose wilderness

With the high winds it took several attempts to start fire. I had to build a wall of rocks and contort my body to block wind tunnels through the rocks to keep the wind from gusting it out. Miki was feeling cold and sick so he retired to the tent just after I got a fire going. The worst part of the wind was that it was causing the fire to blow back onto me. It would carry uncomfortably large embers off to land in trees to burn for an equally uncomfortably long time. Despite it being cold and wet, fears of a fire (and mountain lions) drove me to call it quits not long after dark. Putting out the fire also sucked. I had to scrabble down the the base of the rocks, form a large snowball with my bare hands and scrabble back up to dump it ontop of it. It took about a dozen trips and some stamping and stewing to satisfactorily put the fire down. I climbed down the rocks and into the tent.

Amy sitting next to a fire on top of a Mount Rose wilderness ridge

I didn’t have much time We didn’t remain in the tent for long. Miki was uncomfortably cold and feeling ill enough that he wanted to pack it in early. We broke camp in the cold and dark and headed down the ridge, back to the parking lot. Thirty minutes later we were on our way to Reno where we were refused by 20 hotels before we found an empty room and could finally fall asleep. Poor Miki, first time camping and his psychotic girlfriend takes him wilderness camping in the snow.

We’re not dissuaded though. We’re going back to Mount Rose better prepared to finish the hike. Miki says he’s up for camping again, but I think I’ll take him somewhere more sane this time.

Amy's face lit by the glow of the fire

Caffeine Monster

My life is in a steady place and during these periods I try to develop good habits. Working on your daily routine is important, after all how you spend your days is how you spend your life. Last week I focused on dropping a bad habit instead of forming a new one. Most of us have convenient habitual shortcuts that we know aren’t good for us. Unfortunately, reflecting in the moment is not as conducive to long term change as introspection done ahead of time.

I drink too much caffeinated soda. This bad habit started in 7th grade when my computer lab began selling soda out of mini fridge. I quickly progressed from Mountain Dew to Monster Energy; my drink of choice for 14 years. I drink about 3 Monsters (or 16oz energy drink equivalents) a day, and if I go out to eat I’ll have additional soda with my meal. After starting my first RealJob™I started to drink Coke Zeros during the day. This added up to a Monster in the morning, 3-4 Coke Zero’s during the day, and have another 1-2 energy drinks in the evening.

Amy themed Diva reskin raises hands in exaltation as Monster Energy's fall from the sky

I’m aware that drinking so much dissolved sugar is not healthy (I switched to diet a long time ago). I’m aware the acidity dissolves my teeth. I’m increasingly aware that the caffeine antagonizes my general anxiety and I go on a “Monster run” to avoid what I should actually be doing. So why do I still drink so much soda?

So a week ago I asked myself if I would be willing to drop this habit. This sounds kind of stupid, who wants to do self-harmful things? Nevertheless I find it easier to ask myself if doing something is worthwhile than telling myself. I’m a bad manager (don’t tell my boss) and a worse employee. In addition, bad habits are not without their utility, and if you don’t have a plan to replace this utility it makes dropping them more difficult.

Upon asking, I found that I was willing to give up part of my caffeine intake to test the effect upon my general anxiety. I hoped that by reducing my caffeine intake, I could start feeling less high strung, and become more productive. Asking myself what I’d be willing to do, my mind quickly concluded that we could cut out caffeine at work.

Having set myself in alignment before starting out made it easy to switch from Coke Zero to seltzer water. This reduced my soda intake to a Monster before work and sometimes a Monster afterwork. It also had a moderate effect on my anxiety although that could be confounded by the increased exercise I’ve been doing lately.

Now comes the harder part; cutting out energy drinks from my life. This is harder because they touch other parts of my life besides sustenance. They’re a social ritual with my friends, “Hey let’s walk to Target and pick up some drinks.” They’re an avoidance ritual to work, “Hey let’s walk to the gas station before starting…” They’re a facet of my life in a way that Coke Zero never had the time to become. It’s less clear what the benefits are.

That said, I asked myself if I’d limit myself to a single Monster per day; I was pleasantly surprised to hear the answer be “yes.” Reducing my caffeine intake may have helped my anxiety and I think it would be worth experimenting further.

I’ll try it out and let you know how it goes =^__^;;=

Writ Ludicrous

Ludicrous, that writing should be so difficult! In the mind thoughts flow fluidly. In speech, rants segue tirelessly. Pen hits paper; and faculties fail.

Thought! Unbounded by the material; an infinitely associative symphony of synthesis guides your movements. A fanciful flight of possibility.

Speech! The wheels of production greased by evolution; the audience real time critics. Awful, stupid sounds fade away; ephemeral manuscripts memory can mend.

Writing! Majestic dimensionality made flat, living lights compressed. Mutilated and dismembered, their bodies scatter across a page. Ink fixes their form. Carefully arranged squiggles articulate the shadows of the dead.

Colorful dreams pinned; exciting ideas rendered dull. Structure makes plain your vacuity.