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Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

Back in March I had a semi-significant birthday.  Not an odometer year, but at least a speed limit one.  My hair, which has long since turned from the blond of my youth to a distinctly ‘ish’ (blond-ish, brown-ish, just a hint of red-dish) is now definitely streaked with silver.  Other signs (discussed earlier) have led me to declare myself a crone.

I’ve also recently begun spinning again (I’ve played around with it before, and will do so again I’m sure).  I’ve recently completed a play-with project, a skein of angora yarn from a friend’s long gone rabbit.  As expected, it’s a very wonky little bit of yarn, but it’s also super soft and I’m totally pleased with it (I hope she will be too).

skein of tifi

Within the past year, I’ve been lucky enough to be gifted with multiple spindles and tools.  This gorgeous top whorl steampunk style spindle for Christmas, and this amazing Sci-Fi Turkish are both from Snyder’s Spindles

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I also got an Etsy gift certificate for my birthday, and I chose to get a custom made Scottish spindle (from Chinese Pistacio wood) from EyeWood Creations.

Scottish

What makes this more fun for me is that I keep thinking of the three Fates from classical Greek myth, which, in my mind anyway, represent the ultimate positive (mostly?  At least partially positive) Crone energy.

Once again, I’m choosing to own it.  And spinning.  Spinning is fun.

I can even pretend to be a ‘sweet little old silver haired lady’ while knitting in public.

Go me!

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I go online, while being female.  Sometimes I play phone games while being female.  Sometimes I allow others online to notice that I am playing phone games while being female.

Sometimes this is a problem.

avatar

Here is my profile for Words with Friends.  It’s a Facebook game, so it’s linked to my real name.  I had previously used a number of different avatars. and  discovered that using a picture of myself (I’m not particularly attractive or young, but I am visibly female) tended to get game requests from unknown middle aged men.  These men who would, in chat, request details of my personal life, the exchange of email addresses, additional photographs, etc.  I had decided that, although I don’t mind occasionally chatting with strangers over a game this was a bit creepy.  So I changed my avatar to a photo of a hat I’m reasonably proud of, modeled by a male friend. (Thanks Steve!)

The profile does still reveal that I’m gaming while female, but you have to at least click to find it.

So, I hoped, that chat requests would at least come from guys who were willing to put a little more effort into the whole conversation thing.   It had the immediate effect of slowing down chat attempts from strangers.

The conversation even started fairly promising.  He made an obvious typo, ‘were’ for ‘where’.  I seized on it, and he seemed willing to play along.

I ended He 1-start

It turned out that he’d never heard of Stephen Hawking’s Time Traveler party, and quickly lost interest once I sent him a pointer.

2-annoyed

‘Why are you asking so many questions?’ Really?  Everything this guy has sent has been a question.   ‘Were’ for ‘where’, ‘I am an engineering’…  The ONLY thing this guy and I know about each other is that we are both playing a word game, and he doesn’t show any awareness of grammar or punctuation.

I seem to have cut out the part below where I tell him he’s getting creepy (which is after he keeps getting personal, and asks if I’m married).

At this Thi3 ending

At this point I put the phone down and got in my car.  I expected him to go into a long whine about how he didn’t mean any harm, he was just lonely, and I should really just be his special friend…

Instead, I got this:

blocked

 

 

OK.  Fair enough.  I did tell him he was creepy, and asked to be called such.  Blocking me seems like a reasonable response.  I’ll take it.

I would have preferred the time traveler, though.

I think I gave him a fair shot.

Have any of you managed to get a decent conversation out of random convo’s on phone games?

 

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So here’s the thing.

I have no job.  I was given the option of getting COBRA for insurance, which was the only way to avoid lapse of coverage.  I have a diagnosis and a scheduled treatment which will be quite expensive.

So I got the COBRA, thinking that as soon as I got verification of coverage I would go to the state marketplace and get a less expensive plan, so less out of pocket right now and no pre-existing condition.  Simple, right?

As soon as the COBRA paperwork came (end of February) I sent in the check.  It was cashed on March 14.

Over the weekend I got a letter from the insurance company stating that my coverage was valid through March 12 (the letter was dated March 11).

The customer service representative just said she couldn’t do anything.  I had to demand that the call be escalated before she checked to see that the coverage was in force (even though the system says it’s not).  I’m ready to kill someone.

In the job hunt front – I applied to a position with the State of Maryland.  They want to interview me (AWESOME!).  They want a college transcript.  OK, shouldn’t be a problem.  I hope. The last time I tried to get a transcript I went round and round with the registrar’s office for a while before they found me – apparently my birthdate is wrong in the system.  So I had sent in the documentation to get my records corrected.  I tentatively tried to request my transcript again…  Nope.  Can’t find myself in the database.  The campus, apparently, is on spring break.

*sigh*

I have until March 26 to schedule an interview on April 1.

That’s just today.  I’m not even going to get into last week…

Honestly, this whole thing feels like a bad April Fools joke.

 

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Just Moving Forward

Following up on the last post.

The job market has changed a lot from the last time I looked.  There seem to be a lot more jobs out there, but they don’t seem to be any better in quality.

In the almost two weeks since I’ve been looking, I’ve had two face to face interviews, two video interviews and one phone screen.  The good news is that I’ve now landed a 40 hour a week temp job (the hours suck but you can’t beat the commute and the people are nice).   The highlight so far has been an interview with a large distributing company which is very tied in to many of my fandoms.  The pay and commute would both suck.

In addition, I’m trying to navigate a really obnoxious insurance situation.

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Job Hunting Sucks

I’m in a state of shock about exactly what happened.  How much was me, and how much was them?  I may never get all the answers, but I really feel that something went seriously wrong, and it wasn’t all on me.

I’ve found some interesting positions and applied.  My old temp agency has offered me some part time gigs I’ve had to turn down; I had said I’d be available Monday, they had something available immediately,  there was an evening and weekend admin job at a tax agency, which sounded tempting, but it would mean that I’d be committed to not taking a full time (i.e. insurance providing) job until April, or I’d be leaving them in the lurch.

There was the barely literate email contact which offered me the possibility of working from home, shipping and receiving packages.  That one kind of creeped me out, and I’ve passed it along to the FTC to let sort it out.

There are also three separate sales openings.  Nothing, and I mean nothing in my resume says sales.  I have no interest.  I’ve worked with sales people, I know that some people really love it, and if you don’t need to sell you’ll probably hate it.

I don’t need to sell.  I have no intention of taking an outside sales position.

I did apply to an entry level recruiter position, and as far as I can tell that’s the resume which has generated the interest.   I’ve already gone through one video interview, and have a face to face interview with another company lined up for tomorrow.  I expect to have no interest in the position, but interviewing itself is valuable practice.   I’ll stop by and visit my mother and sister afterwards, because I don’t see them often enough.  That should make up for what I expect to be a completely wasted half hour drive.

Who knows, it might surprise me.

I’ve been using the rest of my expanded free time to catch up on housework, and I’m planning on doing NaNoWriMo again this fall.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I deal with depression. I’m currently doing it without professional assistance, but I do have a support network, and I take St. John’s Wort and try to use the skills I got from REBT in my daily life.

One of the things I keep remembering is the story of the Two Wolves. It’s a really positive image. More, it’s a great bit of imagery, and it serves as a reminder that every time you follow a thought chain you are building a path in your brain. For me, this doesn’t so much mean that I never follow my mind into dark places, or forbid myself negative feelings (yeah, you can really hurt yourself that way too) but I do make a conscious effort to keep most of my mental trips grounded, and I make sure to indulge in wishful thinking every now and then. Try to use all those different emotional muscles, so they don’t atrophy.

Still, because I’m perverse, and because I reject the idea that a wolf could be evil, now and then I allow that story to morph a bit. The ‘bad wolf’ is more like a wendigo. You think you are feeding it ‘the enemy’ by villifying those who have wronged you. You even get some energy back in the form of renewed anger. Do it long enough, though, and you’ll be feeding it all the time, and that ‘righteous’ anger you get back is all that sustains you. Do it long enough, and one day you’ll realize that the flesh you’ve been feeding it is your own…It’s a powerful image, and I’m fond of it, but I think the two wolves image is more suitable for everyday use.

The upshot is, this has really changed the way I approach serious emotional conflicts. I try to stay away from judging the other person, and I take a long, hard look at my own actions and motivations. I also figure out what reconciliation would take, and whether or not the relationship is worth it (not whether the person is worth it – that never works well).

The upshot is  I am (I’ve been told) the least satisfactory person to come to when you need to vent about how terrible your conflict with someone is, especially if that someone is central to your life.   Which is fine with me, because I’m completely unsatisfied to be put in the middle of other people’s conflicts.  I’m as prone as the next person to feed the drama llama from time to time, but I do my best to make sure that llama is grounded in fiction (literature, video, or role playing games) or distant from my life.  I find it’s just better all around.

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Trigger Warnings

Trigger Warnings are Controversial

A University has now come out with the official statement that the movement to request trigger warnings in schools is an attempt to limit academic freedom.  Neil Gaiman (whom I adore) has publicly mocked the idea of trigger warnings, explaining that being shocked by things is a really important part of life.

They’re missing the point.

The idea of a ‘trigger’ came out of the study of PTSD.  Over 10% of the US population has PTSD at some point in their life.  If you have PTSD you can often function, more or less normally, until something triggers you.  Sudden, unexpected exposure to a trigger might produce flashbacks and/or some kind of psychotic break.  Triggers are very specific to an individual, there is no such thing as a generic trigger, any more than there is a generic trauma.

In many circumstances it is possible for a patient and doctor to figure out a list of things which might trigger someone. If someone (for example a student) has a list of known triggers which could produce serious symptoms, and they go to a person in authority (for example a professor), and explain the situation it should be common practice to get warnings when triggering images will be presented.  If an unreasonable number of people make this request (which seems very likely) it would be logical for the authority figure to ask for some sort of proof of diagnosis, such as requiring the request to come from the individual’s physician or other qualified professional.  At that point, a refusal of the request is basically a refusal to make reasonable accommodation (because what is being requested is a warning, not a substantial change, because modern technology makes it trivial to provide that warning in a timely manner without affecting the environment of others – a text message warning the individual the day before isn’t asking much).  So refusing to provide real trigger warnings, when they are requested, is probably a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Having said that, if we’re talking about general things which might make someone uncomfortable, or even give someone nightmares, that’s not just unreasonable, it’s asking the impossible.  There is no way to label everything which might make someone uncomfortable.  I mean, one of Dottie’s college roomates gets the heebie-jeebies every time she sees a frog.  It really ruins her day.  That’s unfortunate, but it’s not disabling enough to make a focused trigger warning reasonable, nor would a general .’trigger warning’ policy on campus do her any good at all.

People have always wanted to not be made uncomfortable, and I can only guess that the existence of trigger warnings as a ‘thing’ has made many people feel that they want them too, because if someone else gets them it’s ‘only fair’.  I get that as an impulse, but not as a matter of course.

When Abby was a sophomore in High School she tore her ACL.  She was on crutches during the school year, so she had another student carry her books and she got to take the elevator.  That didn’t mean the entire student body did. Yes, the entire student body wanted to have an elevator pass.  Yes, it would have made their school day easier.  It made Abby’s school day possible.

Another example.  Abby has a serious fear (not quite a phobia)  of spiders.  She was required to take an entomology class for her major.  On the syllabus there was one lecture scheduled for arachnids.  She, very sensibly, planned to skip that class and get the notes from another student. The professor ended up moving the schedule around and she ended up in that particular lecture.  So she kept her eyes averted from the overhead, was very uncomfortable, and got through it.  She was confronted by her fear unannounced, but no consequences were triggered.  She would have appreciated a warning that the spidery lecture had been moved, but she couldn’t have gotten a trigger warning because no symptoms were triggered.

So yeah, trigger warnings are a thing.  Those who need them should get them – it’s important.  Those who don’t should be educated on what they are, and re calibrate their expectations a little bit.

Because I’ve picked on Abby enough in this post, there’s a creepy clown behind the cut.  You might not want to look.  It’s your choice, and you have been warned.

(more…)

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