semiotic_pirate: (masked wine taster)
Really, this story isn't as exciting as it sounds. It was extremely funny when it happened; for those who were there at least. Let's see if you think so too.

The story begins when I traveled with DH across state lines to visit with my erstwhile estranged half-sister. The handy dandy aside: I have half-siblings from both my Mum and Dad, but am the only child between the two; he remarried when I was around two (when 1/2 sis was born); she remarried when I was sixteen.

BACK TO THE STORY!

So here we are, driving onward to a lunch meet with this woman. I'm regaling him with all of the best of our stories. There weren't a large number of them; this was the woman who stole my identity to sign up for one of her multiple Columbia House subscriptions. A woman who cut me off at the knees as a teen when she believed her lying "best" friend who she never spoke to again six months later over another issue.

We arrive. It's her favorite local pizz/pasta place, in honor of that one time we both nearly busted our guts laughing as only teenagers can, with each glance bringing on a gale of new giggles. It goes really well, we're all telling stories to each other to try and find common ground and to make a connection that might last. There was a lot of talk of music, pop-culture references we all had in common, and movies.

The pizza was great, by the way.

Then... I noticed the shakey cheese. By this point in our relationship, I knew what DH (who was then not my DH) liked on his pizza and what he was allergic to. You ever see those traditional, roundish shaking serving containers that they put both the red pepper flakes and the shelf stable parmesan cheese in? He'd been reaching to eat his freshly prepared slice, doctored with flakes & shakey cheese, when I noticed - there was some bluish-green stuff toward the bottom of the shakey cheese. THERE WAS SOME BLUISH-GREEN STUFF AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SHAKEY CHEESE AND DH WAS ALLERGIC TO PENICILLIN!

We found out he isn't, and likely never had been, allergic to penicillin about two months ago, but this episode was YEARS ago when he was still under the impression that MOLD KILLS.

I held up my hand and stopped him from taking a bite of the latest slice. Just before my interruption, we were talking about The Lost Boys and specifically how we all enjoyed one specific line from the movie, "Death by Stereo.".

At first, as you can imagine, we were all filled with shock, and fear, and waiting and watching to see if SOMETHING should occur. How long would it take, for asphyxiation from anaphylactic shock to happen? We waited. Then we waited some more. It finally got to the point where my 1/2 sis and I would stare at my DH, then look at each other, stare at my DH some more, look at each other, stare, look, stare, look. Then we busted out laughing, DH joining us, with our barely legible words of "Death by Shakey Cheese" wheezing out between the bouts of laughter. It got really morbid as we joked about how his obituary would have to be titled Death by Shakey Cheese, and how we'd have to reference the movie, and go off on tangents. But really, it was the Death by Shakey Cheese. It was just like that day back in the 80s where we laughed so much, in a pizza joint, that we got pains in our sides and nearly fell on the floor out of our chairs.

That was a good day, and there were a few meetings after that that were also good. But then she got mad about something without telling me that she was (1) upset or (2) what it was that upset her. Then this happened.

As a follow-up, in December 2014 I finally found out what had upset her so much. What had her so mad at me since June 2010. When I was getting married to DH, we had originally been talking about the usual size people make things. I sent out informal save the dates to friends and family, given that we knew the date, we just didn't know the details. We'd originally planned to marry back in 2003, but primarily from not wanting to affect my financial aid, my need to finish my returning adult college education, and finding out the COST... we put it on hold and decided to have a long engagement. We find out that the cost was still way too high for us, that we'd rather use the money for more important (to us) things. We ended up with only ten people there. Immediate, close family and friends. My Mum, his parents, my 1/2 sibs on my Mum's side (who I helped raise and was more like a beloved aunt), his brother and three of our long-time friends. Everyone else who got cut from the guest list understood the need to pare down the event. All these save-the-date and cancellation notices were done via email, my preferred mode of communication.

It wasn't until the middle of this past December that she finally let the anger out. "You don't send someone a save-the-date and then don't invite them to the wedding or at least have the decency to call and explain why." This? This after knowing from previous conversation how I communicate with people, how I don't like talking on the phone with most people, especially family. This angry burst of text came out of her after I wouldn't give her an address that she should've already had so she could tell my other 1/2 sib, her brother, so he could supposedly update his security clearance. I wouldn't because she had had her phone and email account hacked multiple times over the years. I got a huge long set of texts venting her anger at me, her shouting that she got married two years ago and how she never bothered to contact me because she wanted to get back at me and she was still angry... It was a veritable spewing geyser. And I haven't heard since.

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE JUST GOING TO GET A FUNNY STORY, YOU GET ALL KINDS OF COMPLICATED UNDER- AND OVER-TONES. THAT'S LIFE, HUH?
semiotic_pirate: (Filling up wit tears)
Yesterday, I discovered that awful article and talked about it. I made a point to talk about what I saw, and what I was made to feel, by all the other people discussing it and writing about it because those words affected me much more than the words of some silly mumper who many are now referring to as a sociopath.

After I posted yesterday's entry, I found out that a couple of people reached out via phone (here and here) because they didn't want to take what she said at face value. They wanted to find out if there was some missing context that was not apparent from the writer given that her writing style is meant to be provoking - that's how she makes her money after all. Overall, her response in those interviews, although she seems to be making some attempt to explain what she was trying to say (and failed to do, as we can all attest) and the feelings she wished to convey to the reader, seemed to vibrate an "it's still all about ME" intensity that had me squinting my eyes. She's really not coming across as a sociopath, she's displaying narcissism, maybe, cluelessness and self-centeredness, definitely.

What got me up out of bed this morning -I'd gotten back in for an early morning nap after having gorge-watching the entire 8-episode first season of that new show Humans on Amazon until 1am and having just taken the dogs out for their early morning stroll; this made me deny myself that nap just after I got comfortable- were the thoughts about how some of my friends were impacted SO much by the original article and some extreme levels of negativity that they'd been encountering recently that they were having that viral message pumping through their brains "The World Would Be Better Off Without Me."

First off. Suicidal ideation is no joke. Although this is my own ramble of a thought experiment about how I'm perceiving the spread of suicidal ideation and suicide itself through a community... I really do believe it's a brain worm of the first order that can tunnel in and warp every sensory input and thought/feeling output into a twisted dark mirror-world presentation. It reminds me of those caterpillars who are forced by parasitoid wasps to carb load to strengthen the parasitoid and weaken the host, until the parasitoid consumes the host in full. Or those other poor caterpillars that are forced by a virus to climb trees so that they die, liquefy, and aerosolize a release millions of infective virus particles thereby allowing the virus to get on with the next phase of its own life cycle.

In humans, suicidal ideation could be in some ways like a cold sore virus. There would be an initial infection (typically by exposure to trauma that may involve witnessing another person's suicide in some way) that may or may not result in an immediate display of symptoms - which would be that newly infected person beginning to have active suicidal ideation. What it otherwise could result in is an infection that sits dormant in a person's system waiting for its initializing signal. That signal is significant stress or trauma, which may or may not be concommitant to depression and anxiety, though the latter work to amplify that signal to such a degree that the ideation is easier to take hold and influence a person.

What I'm trying to say is that, maybe there's a reason why we see a single suicide having a domino effect in a community, which, depending on how far the viral news has spread, could be contained within a small town, a large city, a country, or the whole world. And that effect isn't just limited to teens - though it may be seen at higher rates there because of the incomplete control mechanisms and higher lack of impulse control that are typically seen in teens coupled with the volatility of their hormonal drives - it is something that occurs with adults, too. I know this because there were people out there who were triggered by this article and who had "bad thoughts" initialized. Some fought against it and declared "NOT ME!" while going to great lengths to describe why not, and some went through a downward spiral that (I hope) was diverted by the outpouring of love and support to those most vulnerable people. There have been studies of this supposedly contagious behavior. In today's interconnected world, suicide has the ability to reach epidemic proportions. When millions of people watch a youtube video of someone's spiral into ideation, that the viewer knows resulted in a successful completion, those millions put themselves and their loved ones at risk.

The biggest and most disruptive thought, especially given the context of that original article and the selfish perspective of the writer of that article, that started this whole string of ideas in my head... The thought was that when people are saying "The World Is Better Off Without Me" they are actually in so much pain, in such a state of confusion and misery, that they are using that phrase to disguise to themselves that what they are really saying is "I WOULD BE BETTER OFF IF IT WOULD ALL JUST END NOW BECAUSE THIS SHIT LIFE IS MISERABLE AND I DON'T FEEL LIKE I HAVE THE STRENGTH TO DEAL WITH IT ANY MORE."

First, I don't think it is the case that a person would be better off. For all the usual laundry list of reasons that are spouted. Further, unless someone has isolated themselves so much that they have excluded all human contact, there are many, many people who would be affected by a successful suicide, and it always, always results in their surrounding community of friends/family/coworkers (of the people who they don't even know that they are affecting every time they interact with them in daily life) being worse off for having experienced the aftermath of a person's decision to suicide.

Don't listen to that inner virus, don't listen to the lies it is telling you. None of us would be better off, ever.
semiotic_pirate: (Pirate Grrl - RIOT)
XO Jane’s publishing of a despicable article titled “My Former Friend’s Death Was a Blessing” was a watershed moment for many people.

[Edit: There is a reason for both my choice of "mood" and currently playing music. Read on and you too shall know.]

The original article was posted to the site sometime on 5/19/16, likely in the morning. Thanks to our handy dandy Wayback Machine, here’s an early cache of the article, in case you want to see what people were upset about.

Here’s what is in the place of the article on XO Jane’s site now; specifically a notice of retraction and an apology from the site’s owner for having the temerity to post it without much oversight to begin with.

The problem was, taking down the article WASN’T the first thing XO Jane did when requested. First, they deleted the byline of Amanda Lauren to try to muddy the waters. That was done sometime between midnight and 7am EST on 5/20/16. Then the site turned the comments off… It wasn’t until it blew up quite a bit more on the vast arrays of tubes and wires through which we all communicate that it was finally taken down and that that apology was posted in place of the article. One has to wonder if the original draft to XO Jane didn’t even use a pseudonym for this alleged former friend. I predict that, as the apology is picked apart word by word, that the apology itself may undergo multiple revisions. I shouldn’t have said that… Apparently it already has gone through two published editions, according to Death and Taxes Mag.

MY FIRST REACTION TO READING THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE WAS TO REMEMBER THAT MAY IS MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH AND TO WONDER WHETHER WE WERE ALL PRANKED AS A WAY FOR US ALL TO SEE THE ARTICLE, TALK SHIT ABOUT IT, AND IN THE PROCESS MAKE SOME REAL PROGRESS IN DEMYSTIFYING AND DESTIGMATIZING MENTAL ILLNESS. BUT NO, THAT ISN’T XOJANE’S STYLE.

The responses to the article being put out there by a variety of people were, on the whole, fantastic. There were many, many shouts of outrage, bouts of diarrheic vitriol, moments of introspection, vociferously worded petitions to take down the article, and other reactions that were generated in response to the article. It has been amazing, the outpouring of heartfelt feels. Most of the responses were written approximately 24 hours that the article was live on the site in either its attributable form or in its anonymous form.

Without listed them in order of when they encountered the article itself, these are some of the ones that I read today.

http://gomiblog.com/amanda-lauren-is-glad-youre-dead/

https://ajgoode.com/2016/05/20/my-response-to-xojane/

http://jezebel.com/xojane-publishes-terrible-article-by-a-woman-who-s-glad-1777778960?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+jezebel%2Ffull+%28Jezebel%29

https://medium.com/@melissamcewen/an-open-letter-to-xojane-about-my-former-friends-death-was-a-blessing-facdad00cfce#.c6eyakunh

http://jezebel.com/xojane-publishes-terrible-article-by-a-woman-who-s-glad-1777778960

http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/291339/xojane-amanda-lauren-my-ex-friend-is-dead-garbage/

http://themighty.com/2016/05/response-to-xojane-article-my-former-friends-death-was-a-blessing/

https://letsqueerthingsup.com/2016/05/20/open-letter-to-amanda-lauren-from-someone-beyond-help/

https://madgirlslament.com/2016/05/20/suicide-is-never-a-blessing/

http://www.hercampus.com/life/its-not-blessing-when-mentally-ill-people-die

https://haphazardcoffee.com/2016/05/20/i-have-schizophrenia-and-i-do-have-something-to-live-for/

http://www.pajiba.com/think_pieces/xojane-publishes-a-post-about-being-happy-a-mentally-ill-woman-died-alone.php

https://samambreen.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/we-are-none-of-us-beyond-hope/

http://www.mediaite.com/online/everyone-angry-over-that-xojane-piece-celebrating-a-mentally-ill-womans-death-is-right/

My absolute favorites were the ones where people chose to use the moment to introspectively tell us about their own, personal experiences will mental illness and their battle with suicidal ideation. While I was out searching and reading these articles, I found some more really great people who existence I am happy to learn coincide with mine on this earth.

What got me started on this relatively mild diatribe (The outrage speaks for itself, doesn't it?) was reading the discussion started by my friend Rob, aka @UnseenPerfidy. THANKS ROB – MY BRAIN NEEDED THIS EVALUATION, EXAMINATION, AND REAFFIRMATION BUCKSHOT OF POSITIVE OUTPOURINGS OF SUPPORT BY ALL THE STRANGE AND WONDERFUL PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET.

Note: another article was brought to my attention by this reddit thread where the one was noted as seeming really strange. Part of that is, I think, the remaining, underlying guilt the author still feels about the friend’s suicide and her own survival from an attempted suicide.

Survivor's Guilt is a bitch in spike heels doing the cha cha on your naked, prostrate body.
semiotic_pirate: (SVU flashlight-search)
Right now, I'm in the process of searching for a new job. I want to continue in the field I'm in, but the job opportunities in my area are thin on the ground. There's way more jobs of the type I'm looking for in NYC or other big cities; however, moving to one of those places is not an option. So I have to wait and apply like crazy when something comes up in my area. I've gotten lucky recently, I've been able to not only apply for three places and get asked in to interview for all three.
Click through to read about each of the three and a wrap-up statements. )
In the end. The fluctuations of anxiety (including a couple of anxiety attacks) have me worrying that I'm in danger of slipping into a depression (or hypomanic state as I'm not sure of what role anxiety plays in the bipolar mind) and I can't seem to connect with anyone at my doctor/therapist office. So I cope as I can, with deep breathing, and use of different meditation techniques (like sound therapy and aromatherapy) to get me through.
semiotic_pirate: (BattlePrincess)
Today I got a taste of what it's going to be like when I go back to work on 11/9. My last one-on-one with Alan included me making a promise to try going to Group. It's a group made of only women, each with a different grab-bag of problems that they are dealing with. Up until last night it was a nebulous obligation. This morning was okay, but as the day progressed I started getting really anxious. About three hours before the 4pm meeting time, my gut started roiling and I had what I recognized as happening nearly every Monday morning since I went back to work after the hysterectomy (until when I was officially on leave toward the end of September.) My colon was stuck in spasm mode and it turned into five trips to the bathroom as my system emptied itself out. The last visit happening forty minutes to meeting (ten minutes from my go time, when I had to leave to make it on time.)

I made it to the meeting. I didn't have to talk a lot this time. It was still difficult to bear whenever anyone's eyes turned in my direction the few times I spoke out with something that I thought would help someone else. Next time I'm going to be expected to talk a bit about myself at the beginning of Group. I'm scared but willing to participate. It was nice to be able to fully allow myself to be anxious in the social setting instead of pushing it down in order to function in a group work/social environment.

I'm upset that I'm again caught waiting for the gastroenterologist to get back to me about the results from my (hopefully) final round of tests. I've already called twice. Last time I had to call three times in two weeks and didn't hear back until the third week. I want to know the results before I go back to work so I don't have that hanging over my head - especially if it results in adding any other medications to the ones I'm already taking in case there is an interaction that messes with my already delicate seeming GI system.

I'm still having a hard time pulling out of the apathy that I wake up to every morning. I've sent an email over to HR to find out what follow-up paperwork they need Dr A to send them to give me the option to work 1/2 days for the month following 11/9. So I can push myself to go in, but so that I don't have to stay the whole day if I can't take dealing with everything.

It seems like such a chore whenever I have to be in any kind of social situation. Having to carefully go through all the things I've taught myself how to read the subtle cues that people use to indicate all the other stuff that they aren't just saying for one reason or another. Always wondering if I'm wearing the right thing, saying the right thing, using the right facial and body position cues, things I've been learning to do with other women since around junior high. It's so much more complicated dealing with women than it is with men.

It's not that I'm inhuman, that I don't have feelings or am unable to connect with people. It is just that I have difficulties in reading people, in seeing past the literal things they say and understanding the subtle undertones and overtones. If someone plainly states what they want/need or are thinking, then I can interact much more easily. I can interact without having to depend on my various filters in order to try and make out what is really meant.

There are three articles/essays that have become touchstones for me in the time since I've been out of work. Writing that has reinforced other things that I have read in the past or discussed with people online.

The Lost Girls, an article about how difficult it is to assess and diagnose women on the Autism Spectrum.

Everything Doesn't Happen For a Reason, an essay on grief and (among other things) how platitudes are so damaging.

Dealing with Bipolar Disorder, an essay by a friend of mine on Twitter that addresses how he has come to deal with the disorder.

Each of these three writings has helped me enormously - in addition to readings I've done about asexual orientation.

If I have the chance, I'll continue to write in this entry. But for now, dinner must be eaten.

*EDIT* I added a link to a site discussing asexual orientation to the prior penultimate paragraph. It really helped me to understand what makes sense to me.
semiotic_pirate: (eyeball)
I'm going to time delay this post by a month. This should give @femsplain enough time to sift through all the offers to do articles/stories for the Self Improvement theme. My problem is that they've already begun publishing stories and I can't tell if it's because these are meant to set the stage (they are written by their editors and other people that work for FS) or... *shrug* Hence the delay to the post.

Of course, to you it will seem like this just appeared. In fact, I wrote the following just after seeing the theme hit Twitter, before the end of June. And I'm setting up this post on 7/4/15 in the aftermath of seeing Star Trek: Genisys. Oh, wait... That was my hopeful Brightest Universe version of the title. I meant Terminator: Genisys.

Anyway. Here it is:Here it is: )

Awake Now

Jul. 11th, 2015 04:23 am
semiotic_pirate: (boat on land)
This is what happens when the dog, the little warm, soft, cute dog sleeps on the bed. I get woken up at 2:20 in the morning and am unable to get back to sleep.

So. Since I am awake, I might as well get some stuff done. I've recently, with encouragement, started submitting my poetry again. I've got four submissions currently waiting to hear back from (one just submitted minutes ago even.) All but that last set I have gotten confirmation from the people I submitted to that my submission had been received. Likely the last one is going to wait until someone wakes up at a more reasonable time and notices the incoming emails.

One set was submitted through Submittable, two were directly through submission web pages within the publications' website with uploads of documents, and the last was submitted via a series of emails (one poem per email, in plain text, as directed.)

Not counting the one that is AN ENTIRE MANUSCRIPT OF POETRY FOR A BOOK, I have a total of twelve poems floating in front of editors' eyes. I believe the final draft of the manuscript was 89 pages, or approximately 85 poems. Yeah. I had a significant backlog of stuff that I've written over the decades that insisted on finally seeing the broad spectrum light of day.

In researching these places to publish, I discovered a newly named form that I've been writing all along: slipstream. Happily, I write well in this form, and will have no problems creating new poems for this format. I tweet snippets of this stuff all the time, around which I can then build a poem.

-----------------

In other personal news... some of which may be triggering )
semiotic_pirate: (eyeball)
For a couple months or so now I've had this dream, based on a nebulous offer of a job that would only happen if something specific came through for this person.

Last week, I was approached by that person, who told me that the plan was approaching implementation and was I and DH in.

Yesterday, I got taken out to lunch to toss around ideas, brainstorming on said dream. That I'd have my choice of two sweet projects that would support and benefit the community it was based in and that I already had a person with a hefty bit of project management to be teamed with to get it done.

At 1:30am this morning I awoke with a stream of panicked thoughts about if I was ready for this kind of leap, if I could find a way to avoid self-sabotaging this amazing opportunity. If it goes through, how I would resolve stuff in my present environment (house, bills, current job, etc.) I didn't watch the clock to see how long it took me to get back to sleep because I would've never gotten there if I had.

Sorry for being so cryptic, but I've kept this a secret for so long that I've gotten used to talking of it in sheer generalities unless in a closed room session with the other parties involved.

Here's the deal.

A coworker of mine comes from money. Her cousin is coming into an even bigger sum of money via a lawsuit that is pending a payout. Once the payout drops, the whole lot are moving off to the US Virgin Islands with plans to build some businesses, be philanthropic, partner with existing businesses (bringing in new tech & needed public services) as well as the local university system. I was approached as one of the people at my company that she wanted to cherry-pick / poach for her/their future plans.

The most recent iteration of my part of the plan is to start up a biodiesel facility as well as a series of vertical farming operations. The latter is likely to be tackled first as there are a number of domestic and foreign companies that already do this and can be partnered with for a JV w/an option for us to take full control at some point in the future. The reason for going with the vertical farming plan first is because there is a real need for locally grown fresh produce since nearly all of what is available locally is either shipped over from mainland US, (via Fla.) from PR, or from South America. By the time it gets there it's all practically going bad. This is an image of one, growing strawberries:



I can talk about the technology for hours, mentioning that it's aeroponics, that it uses a significantly lower amount of water than traditional farming, that it is all monitored by computers for moisture and other environmental factors, that it uses LED lights that are programmed across each day to provide the optimal spectrum range and amount of light... I have the ability to research the hell out of this, pros and cons, typical stumbling blocks and so forth. The talks I had with my coworker included mentioning that I'd do onsite gladhanding and working with existing production companies as well as figuring out the types of people we'd need to implement.

Part of me is so excited about this whole idea and is hopeful that it actually happens and gets all wide-eyed saying "Woooooooo!" Another part is daunted. By their belief in me. By my lack of experience in doing anything like this. By a fear of failure.

Taking on this opportunity would require I figure out what to do with my house [because my DH is also included in said plans (he would be doing things he already has experience doing and has plenty of contacts to get what he'd need to do done) and he says he's looking forward to not having to rake or shovel snow] because accepting would require relocating to the US Virgin Islands.

Looking into the locale, I start learning about the cost of living on an island. I learn that USVI is the only US location where drivers drive on the left hand side of the road... I'm waiting until something becomes definite before looking more into all this.

If it happens it would do so sometime in the fall, from what I gather. I don't want to get my hopes up too high, or count any chickens before they hatch... I've promised DH that if it DOES happen and we move to USVI and do this, he gets a lizard and a Land Rover Defender. Sometimes it feels like I'm joking. Sometimes it feels like I'm serious.

This seems like an opportunity that has the patina of a "follow your passion" experience.
semiotic_pirate: (speak your mind)
The other day, I bared a piece of my past and perhaps a bit of my soul. You ever notice how, after a long time remembering one thing or another that you assumed to have happened for one reason may have - upon further experience and better filters being installed - have happened for a completely different reason? Or, if not a reason, maybe the outside influences you assumed to be in play weren't. Enough babbling.

Today. You will learn the true value of money. Or at least the value of money as interpreted by a middle-school aged younger me.

Picture yourself in one of those tiny desks, the little wooden ones where the top levers open to store your books and stuff, with the attached seat... the kind that DOESN'T swivel out for easy seating.

Okay. Are you there yet? Good. Let's get on with this story. Don't forget the popcorn. )

This was not the worst series of events I've lived through. But I did have a lot of happy times mixed in with those bad times. Plenty of days filled with laughter. Plenty of books that took me away to somewhere golden, somewhere special and magical. Crocodiles with lollipops and a talking Phoenix. Tesseracts. Life got better for me.

I had teachers who saw my potential and wrote glowing remarks in my report cards, who took me under their wings and showed me the beauty of words and creating stories from my imagination.

I had a Tom Sawyer themed adventure with a friend, where I traipsed across the city, getting fed a bucket of fried chicken from a pair of cops, a pair of cops who ended up being the ones called to interview my Mum when she reported me missing (after my friend came back without me), who looked abashed but didn't say a word when a neighbor from our last neighborhood showed up and delivered me back to her.

I had nuns who once decided they wanted to teach me how to knit, who offered us a home within their halls (which was turned down by my proud Mum, thank you very much... I wish I knew more of the details on that story because it seemed like a damned good deal to me.

If you are having a shitty time, know that it can get better. That you can push through. That $2.00 (or whatever the inflation adjusted amount that number represents today) can go a long enough way to get you through until it gets better.
semiotic_pirate: (eyeball)
About an hour before I was scheduled to leave work today I got called by my half-sister and was baldly told that my biological father had just died (of a heart attack). Let me preface this by saying that I have been estranged from this man since I was in my early 20s, or at least that's when I realized that my relationship with him qualified as estranged.

Sink into sadness back behind the blank stare )
semiotic_pirate: (eyeball)
Yeah. So I am discovering that this is a THING.

My workplace, that will not be named, touts itself as "family friendly" and pats itself on the back when it talks about "flexible hours" and even makes a point to let you know that they have a network set up so that you can work from home when needed.

WELL. Needless to say, and you can certainly tell when you've already been clued in by the subject line of this post, this DOES NOT APPLY to people without children.

Come run around with me & the other Unicorns in the forest. )
semiotic_pirate: (foamy french fry assault)
Well me fine hearties... I bring to you a tale of rage, irritation, journeys, scandal, and redemption. It all begins with the anticipation of the viewing pleasure of our wee little furry footed friends.

Yeah. This is about my travail about finally scoring advanced tickets for the upcoming flick:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Companies involved: MovieTickets.com and Rave Cinemas at Buckland Hills Manchester.

It really began about a few months or so ago, when I put an item in my calendar to remind me to look up information about advanced ticket sales at the end of October. Once Halloween rolled around, I had found out that tickets were supposed to go on sale (for the December 14th premier in the U.S. and Canada) on November 7, 2012. Reset calendar item.

Today, when I got to work and checked for tickets online, I found out that tickets weren't going on sale until NOON EST. Those bastards.

Okay. Reset calendar item and set a timer to go off five minutes before noon. While I'm waiting for noon to come, my husband calls to tell me he's heading home to work the rest of the day from there as the Nor'Easter snowfall had begun. I look up from my desk (where I had truly been hard at work finishing up on a project report) I see the practical whiteout conditions in the back parking lot of the building. Lovely.

Five minutes before noon arrives. I get myself logged into my usual ticket purchasing website, making sure I have my credit card ready. I get onto the day in question and, every so often, hit refresh in the address bar. Noon arrives. No tickets. Refresh, refresh, refresh... Five minutes pass - no tickets.

I call the theater and press zero to be connected to a live person. They very nicely tell me that due to a new computer system that they'd installed a few weeks back they were having technical difficulties. Perhaps sometime between while I am talking to them and 6pm, or as late as 6pm the next day the glitch would be worked out. *beginnings of irritation/annoyance*

More snow falls. More work gets done. I doggedly keep hitting the refresh button, hoping.

I had come in that day at 7am so that I could leave by 3pm, since I had thought that the snow was going to hold off until mid-afternoon. I realize I forgot my snow brush and scraper at home; I hadn't yet pulled it out of its storage space in the garage and put it into the trunk. I come up with the brilliant idea of using a gallon ziplock baggie to seal around my gloved hand to keep myself both warm and dry when I finally get out to clean off my car before leaving for home.

More snow falls.

At 2:50pm, after hitting refresh yet again, I am rewarded with three theaters of showtimes. IMAX, and two others. I notice that (unlike what I'd gotten my posse to agree to) there were NO MIDNIGHT SHOWINGS. *sigh* I go for the 7pm showing instead as I must have my assigned seats when I go through the trouble of getting advanced tickets and purchase them online (where you get a $1 surcharge on each ticket).

Wait! What's this?! No offer to choose my seats? ARGH! I buy the tickets anyway, thinking that if I didn't there was a possibility of them being sold out before I could later get the chance to purchase them. Besides, the snowfall had turned into more of a snow-drizzle and I figured I could stop at the theater on the way home and make sure my seats were assigned where I wanted them to be.

So. 3pm arrives and I am (surprisingly) all ready to go with laptop bag in tow just in case. Snow cleared off the car handily. Although there was some slowdown as (most) people drove more cautiously, the drive to the theater was done on relatively snow free roads - though there were plenty of slick spots.

Walking in the theater, I find myself glad that it seems to be a slow time. I'd been able to park very close to the front doors and the snow was starting to pick up a little. Shouldn't take too long, right?

Over a half hour later... They had to refund my purchased tickets one at a time. They hadn't realized they hadn't set it up to allow/assign seating (IMAX is ALWAYS assigned seating). They had to call the back room techie and have them set up the system to get the seating problem cleared up. One good thing - they weren't allowing any other sales until my refund was processed and I had purchased my tickets with the seats of my choice.

Did I mention they'd recently gotten a new computer system set up? They all hate it (the people working with it at the front desk area - including management). It is clunky, counter intuitive, and one big hassle. There really didn't seem to have been any intensive training to instruct the employees in its use either. One of the many annoying things to result in the new system (besides those annoying things I've already discussed) is that if you have purchased tickets for multiple movies (say one on Saturday, another on Sunday, and advanced tickets for something in a couple of weeks) the kiosk will no longer just print all of your purchased tickets out for you - it gives you an error message and you have to go to the counter just like all the shlubs that didn't think to buy their tickets ahead of time. Utterly stupid. Especially because once you get up to the front of the line it takes forever for the person to look up those tickets and has to access each show/set separately for printing.

When I finally got outside again? Snow was falling more heavily than when I'd gone in, and it was finally starting to stick and build up on the roads. It was pretty hairy driving home from there. And it didn't help that I needed to bypass home to pass to the other side of town and pick up something for dinner too.

Now I am home, driveway heater on, warm and toasty on the couch because I am cuddled under a blanket with my living hot water bottle (half Chihuahua half Daschund). My Unexpected Journey is over. Wish I had a ring and a bunch of gold... guess I'm not as lucky as some hobbits I know.
semiotic_pirate: (eyeball)
Make your voices heard people! Food, not fuel. See this link for info on the situation:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/10/01/162127460/does-your-gas-tank-hold-enough-food-to-feed-22-people

and this link/document for how to make your voice heard via public comment:

http://www.epa.gov/oms/fuels/renewablefuels/documents/rfs-waiver-request-comment-extension.pdf

Written comments must be received on or before October 11, 2012.

Here's the email I sent:

Greetings -

RE: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2012-0632

I think that the mandate for the amount of ethanol produced should be suspended. Specifically, the amount and use of corn to produce that ethanol. Although I am a supporter of alternate fuel sources, I do not believe that we should take sources of FOOD and turn them into fuel. There are plenty of alternatives to corn and other food grade inputs (like soybeans for biodiesel) in creating fuels, (cellulosic, alga sourced, etc.) Please, at the very least, lower or suspend the Renewable Fuel Standard requirements for next year.

Please see this fantastic article about the nutritional content of the ethanol that goes into our fuel tanks and the effect of the lack of this food source in feeding people.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/10/01/162127460/does-your-gas-tank-hold-enough-food-to-feed-22-people

As someone who works as an analyst in agricultural banking, I am seeing the effects of the yield and quality reductions in our nation's grain crops. Those effects are being felt by every level of agricultural production; from the farmer that is harvesting the grain, the marketing cooperative/company, the input cooperative/company, the protein ranchers and farmers with their input prices, the further processors, the consumers.

Food. Not Fuel.

Thank you for listening.

Sincerely,
*real name here*
semiotic_pirate: (speak your mind)
Some of the following was a comment to a recent post by Ginmar. Between my recursive and fascinating internal dialogue about my experience watching Looper today to catching up on Glee... A toggle was switched on in my brain and I got to thinking about the state of things. I saw this article interviewing Michael Dorn (famously known as Worf on Start Trek Next Generation) and his thoughts about needing a new Trak on TV. He was saying something along the lines of all the stuff we are seeing in the media about science fiction these days is dark, distopian, without hope for a better future. Without some type of bright story to inspire us, as ST OST and ST TNG and all the other iterations did, we'll possibly start believing too much in the darker possibilities.

A recent episode of Glee I was watching last night (catching up on the new season, yes I guess I am a bit of a Gleek) began a new story arc for the show. I love that there's been a return to a show similar to what Fame was for me earlier in life. Some things are good when they come around again.

Back to the episode: there's this ultra-bitch new cheerleader type character called Kitty (I think). She's got this thing for getting her little popular crowd to mercilessly make fun of everyone she takes a dislike to - and she starts this new after school club called Left Behind. Do I have to go into details about the whole "left behind after the rapture" mania about the end times and the series of books (describing what happens to the people that are left behind, very distopian and full of righteous fear mongering) that the fundies are probably using to bankroll a lot of the shit they're doing? I hope we are all on the same page at this point - use the Google if you need to.

So this club of hers. They decide to meet at the local diner, with a bunch of people that they dragged in as potential members and/or targets. This poor asian-american "nerd" girl with giant glasses ended up being that night's target... Poor girl gets tricked into leaving the room and all of a sudden Kitty's like "everybody out!" They left bits of clothing similar to what they were wearing in each of their places and watch from the windows outside as the girl comes out and has a mental breakdown b/c she thought she had gotten left behind. Fear! Be afraid! Do what we tell you and conform to how we think you should think/feel/act. That was so telling to me about the way Mittens and all his right wing fundie folk operate. That and the way they railroad people into becoming followers by shaming them, after having gotten them to do something that they can turn around and say "you can't walk away now, look at what you've already done, we are your only path to salvation" and further bullshite. The techniques of mind washing and such where they talk at someone for so long that they get their head turned around and they can't even see that the sky is blue. That a wall is just a wall and a window is just made of glass.

Why can't they get it through their heads that "free will" means you need to let me make my own decisions, my own mistakes, to be autonomous in my thinking and in my actions? The sky is blue. I am a person. My friends are people too.
semiotic_pirate: (gunbarrelgrimace)
Watching the season opening episode for Bones just now - found it happily waiting on my Hulu home page of most popular currently watched shows.

1. Bones has started up again. Huzzah!

2. Who the HECK said that it would be a good thing to modify/change the opening theme song? Really? What were they thinking? There's no reason for them to have changed it.

One of the things that I've noticed about the most popular, longest lived shows: they kept the SAME opening theme song throughout their entire run. It is a sensory key that links all of the episodes and story lines into a person's mind in a happy memory palace. When something so vital as an opening theme, or the day and time the show airs (if that is one of the sensory data crucial to that particular viewer and they don't use a DVR or streaming service) is changed, it breaks those sensory links and creates a sensory dissonance within the individual.

Okay. Maybe I'm just talking about me here.

---------------

In other news: One of the commercials that keeps coming around in the ultra-short marketing spiels is that new Toyota Prius "family" commercial. My problem is about the disconnect between the happy-happy world of the commercials and the abrupt and condescending manner of all the dealership drones I came into contact with in my ENTIRE STATE. They're all "we have the only car that can do what our car does so you have to pay whatever we tell you to pay in order to take one of our very wanted vehicles home with you" and it made me so sick and disgusted that I disconnected entirely with the marketing pattern and focus. The consumer should not be assumed to be ignorant of the difference between the amount you demand, MSRP, Dealer Cost, etc. I totally walked away from "The Brand" and it felt good and empowering.

I did end up getting an excellent hybrid with nearly comparable fuel mileage (my average lifetime mpg so far with 5.5K miles or so is 42.0 mpg) and a MUCH better service package (completely, absolutely free regularly scheduled maintenance and fancy car washing, vacuuming and waxing of my vehicle whenever I want). In fact, I find myself deliriously happy with my ride and I truly believe that I am happier with this vehicle by far than I would ever have been with a Toyota Prius.
semiotic_pirate: (J-Park)
So this morning started with some poetry writing - see my last post for that. It's surprising that, since I've gone not just gluten free but dairy free as well, I've started writing again. I don't know if it was a brain fog, something to do with how I was feeling behind the glutinous and casein-coated monster that had been holding me in its slimy grip all these years versus how I can feel (am feeling) when I've broken the chains made from methane blown mucus bubbles.

Yeah, metaphor slipping at the end there - only thing I could come up with is milk comes from cows, cows produce methane.

How's that for imagery? Great flipping toads of grandiosity. I'm not ecstatic or anything, but I am happy and enjoying the fact that I can get things done. This is the same happiness that I was feeling during the first five days of vacation back in July. I'm still feeling irritation at appropriate moments (idiot drivers etc.), am able to relax, sleep a full eight hours, have both focused and unfocused periods at work, and so forth. In other words, I'm just as normal as the next person that isn't weighted down by heavy food allergy and intolerance symptoms.

I absolutely despise the fact that I have that niggling worry, the one that questions the state of my neuro-chemical balance whenever I'm feeling happy. There was nothing to the suppositions but it almost always intrudes, though less often as the years go by thank goodness. Self doubt sucks ostrich eggs.

One last thing before wrapping this post up: I've suddenly realized that the problem with blogging intermittently is that I likely get lost in the "noise" of more frequent posters couple with the likelihood that intermittent readers never even see my posts. So those of you out there who have occasionally been catching my infrequent posts - and have either mutely read or posted a comment - thank you.

Good night internets.
semiotic_pirate: (Lion in Winter - Peel U Like a Pear)
I would have to say that watching The Corporation followed by watching They Live is even more consciousness raising than the watching of The Corporation alone. Indeed. The exposure of the subliminal programming and motivations of the aliens and their human allies emphasize the message of the need to take control of how corporations interact with humanity in the documentary.

All of this is, for me, being emphasized through a champagne filter. Yes. As I was watching The Corporation, I was imbibing some yummy champagne that CoB had purchased earlier today. The third and final glass before switching to water for the rest of the night is being consumed during the first few scenes or so of They Live.

At an earlier time during the day today, I read and commented briefly on the following articles:

Nation's first "underwater wind turbine" has been installed in the Mississippi River: article here

Human (and animal fat) powering mad liposuction doctor's SUV: Supposedly... Alternative fuel is people!

The fifth taste, umami: Speaking of food... We have little venus flytraps within us!

Is this new iPhone App the Kindle killer? Is it? or is this the best hope: Eh? Both of these caught my eye because I am thinking of getting the Kindle when the new version comes out some time in the first three months of 2009.

Europe gets the cool cars because they are already at much higher gas prices: At least, that's my theory. The fuel-sippers are not at the top of the "cool" list but they are heavily in the majority of what is contained on the list. For good reason. I guess this is why so many people are in favor of a much higher gas tax in the United States - with exemptions for people who live in poverty. Because you CAN live hand to mouth and own a vehicle, still. Barely, but still.

Yes. I stopped myself from getting on my soap-box after that last sentence. Because I know how dire it is to be poor and yet still need to have some form of personal transportation in order to make that very same money to barely live upon. Shitty world that supports this type of existence.

Full circle back to The Corporation and They Live I'm afraid. Are you afraid? Afraid enough to make your voice heard? Do not sleep, citizens of the world!

For another look at the intersection of The Corporation documentary and the They Live film, go read CoB's latest post.
semiotic_pirate: (Dreaming)
Just an announcement: I've culled the f-list. Some are people that I recently added but decided not to keep and other are people that I haven't heard from or seen posting in a really long time. Don't take it personally, right? Except for some, my f-list is more of a "like to read their posts and keep in touch with" list.

I'll admit, I haven't been posting as much lately... and life is changing for me. I don't know.

If anyone feels that I made an error in my culling - feel free to comment and say "Hey! I should stay on the f-list SP... really!"

Capiece?


I'm watching Monster right now; it is quite disturbing. Anybody else watch this movie? What did you think of it? This is why our education institutions and socialization into society is soooo important. Is it unnatural for me to feel so much pity for this woman? (EDIT: This is also why we need a labor organization for hookers, regulations, protections, etc.)

Before that, it was Outland with Sean Connery. You all may think that Firefly was the first space western, but you'd be wrong.
semiotic_pirate: (Lion in Winter - Peel U Like a Pear)
People have been arguing for years now whether medication induced hypomania or mania is actually a case of triggered bipolar disease. Medications that can induce various levels of mania would make a very long list indeed. Many are anti-depressants of many stripes, also known inducers are steroids like prednisone, thyroid medications and medications that are taken for Lyme disease, TB and HIV/AIDS. In other words, a lot of shit can induce various levels of mania.

Did a little research into the general take on this topic and discovered that all the people that are quoting subthreshold BP as a problem are MISQUOTING a study that came out and was then retracted... because there was no scientific evidence that subthreshold BP exists or that if it does, that is needs to be treated with medications like BPI and BPII.

Here's my recommended reading list (mostly written in 2007 when this storm was reaching maximum surge levels on the shores of the WWW): Furious Season's take , the report from PsychCentral and first one post then a follow up post on Clinical Psych Blogspot.

And as Clin Psych asked: "Preparation of [the] article was supported by AstraZeneca.” As my astute readers know, AstraZeneca makes Seroquel, which is one of the “appropriate” treatments in this study. How does a company support the preparation of an article?" Again, this is the article that retracted and redacted itself after everyone had latched onto the original version.
semiotic_pirate: (SVU flashlight-search)
[livejournal.com profile] not_secure this message is for YOU! I joined LinkedIn (revealed in previous post) and I know you are there, in CoB's network... Are you open to having another link in your network?

Hope you are doing well. We should all get together sometime in the near future, neh?

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