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Livejournal dream

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I think some dreams I have are really not like other people's dreams. I just woke up from a dream that consisted of me reading a mass of comments on a livejournal post I had previously written. The people commenting were all dream characters, not actual people I know on LJ. In the dream, though, I knew some of them, while others had just found the post somehow through friends.

It was mostly writers talking about about books and writing and the publishing industry (the original post was about a book), but some things reminded people of other things and some comments went off on tangents.

There was one tangential comment thread of a musician friend of mine (named Barry) reminiscing about all the bands he'd been in, and I read it and was like, "oh yeah, I'd forgotten that first band, but I heard them play at Convergence way back when HarmCon was in an atrium". None of these bands nor this musician actually exist, to my knowledge, and I certainly hadn't heard of them in real life, but dream memory is funny.

And once again, to people who say "you can't read in dreams", I say, "well, maybe YOU can't read in dreams . . ."

To hell with fear

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I've seen been seeing various links turn up in my social media feeds to essays written (generally) by men, trying to explain #YesAllWomen to other men. I've been noticing a theme to some of them, which I would boil down to this concept:

"Guys should watch their behavior in regards to women, because certain behaviors, though they seem innocuous to guys, will cause women to fear them, because they remind the women of bad things that have happened to them or to other women in the past. You may think women are overreacting, but they're doing it because they're afraid, and they might have logical reason to be afraid, because it's hard to know for sure whether a guy is just annoying or if he's going to turn violent if rejected."

So, there might be some truth to that, but still it bothers me. And I'm going to have to say Not All Women to that one. I completely refuse to be afraid of stupid guys who don't know how to cordially interact with their fellow humans. Annoyed? Sure. Angry? Sometimes. Cautious? When it seems warranted. But not afraid. There are things I fear in life, but douchey guys giving me unwanted, inappropriate attention are not one of them.

Letting fear of them effect how I live my life is a waste of my time. In the unlikely event that one of them points a gun at me someday, I'll consider fearing that one, because then I'd actually have good reason to. Until then, no. Knowingly or unknowingly, harassers will USE that fear to get women to tolerate and placate them, to coax them to be nicer and less firm in their rejections of harassment.

Aside from my personal belief of refusing to live in fear and let those idiots win, there's something else that bothers me about the fear explanation. It implies that the reason harassing behavior is wrong is because it makes women afraid. But the fear is really just a side effect, and there are all sorts of reasons harassment is wrong that have nothing to do with fear. It's really more about consent - if you are indulging in a behavior, and if the people primarily effected by that behavior tell you it's inappropriate and that you should cut it out or go away, you need to cut it out or go away, not try to explain why you think your behavior is appropriate.

EDIT: By the way, I absolutely do not mean this as a criticism of anyone else's fear, even if I don't share it. We all have our personal fears, and our personal reasons for them. There may well be other things that I'm terrified of that don't phase you.
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At one point at this year's Minicon, on a panel about the best science fiction of the previous year, one of the panelists recommended a book in a way that really bothered me: "It's military science fiction - written by a girl!" I think the guy thought he was being funny, but there are a few things wrong with what he said:

1. I wouldn't think of Ann Leckie as a "girl". She is unquestionably an adult woman.

2. Military SF written by women is not even that unusual. Over the years, I've read several works in that genre that were written by women, including some long series. And I'm not even that into military SF! Had that panelist been ignoring them all as "girl stuff" until one won a Nebula? It boggles the mind.

3. Even if this WAS unusual, pointing out that it was written by a woman is a silly way to promote it, opposed to saying that it won a Nebula and is really good. Unless you are trying to point out that it's military science fiction that isn't horribly sexist like a lot of the stuff men write, which would be a valid thing to note, but not really what the guy was saying.

I haven't read "Ancillary Justice yet, but I expect I should, it's supposed to be really good. I don't know much about it yet though, since I was so dumbfounded I tuned out the rest of the guys recommendation.
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Something I realized a long time ago is that I find it much easier to dance a dance routine that I choreographed myself than one someone else has choreographed, even if they are otherwise equal in challenge and quality. Because my own choreography feels right to me and makes sense to me in my mind in ways that someone else's doesn't, even if it is no way superior or easier for anyone else to understand. When I was a senior in high school I was chosen to do movement in a theater piece based on an audition that never tested my ability to learn someone else's choreography, to less than ideal results. Though I could choreograph and dance a complex piece, I sucked at learning to dance someone else's choreography, because it will always full of choices that are not the choices I would have made.

I'm starting to find myself in a similar place with guitar playing, though I've been trying to get past it. Lately I've been writing songs and trying to learn to play them well, and I find it a lot easier than trying to play other people's songs (or, at least, to play them anything like the original). But I want to be able to play other people's songs and to play them like the original, both to learn things from them and also just to be able to play songs I like.

Part of it is that when it is my song, I can say what the right way to play it is, I don't have any outer thing to compare it to. But that's not all it is. There's a song I'm trying to learn. All the chords in it are familiar to me, but getting the chord changes down feels oddly tricky. There's a spot where I need to go quickly from C to A minor, which is just moving one finger but it feels awkward to me, even though in a song I wrote I go quickly from A minor to C. The reverse is harder, for no particular reason, just because it's not a musical decision I made myself.

I'm sure I can get past it with practice though. There are other things that will be harder, though - the big challenge ahead will be syncing up my singing to this strumming pattern that lines up with the singing differently than I would have done.

The Time Traveller's Wife

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I caught up on lj-friendslist-reading this weekend, which I was a couple months behind on. Then tonight phoenixredux and I watched a DVD of the film adaptation of The Time Traveller's Wife, a book we'd both read. The movie was not as good as the book, and had a lot of interesting bits cut out of it, but it did get me thinking new thoughts, some of which I hadn't thought before after reading the book (which I think I've reread a couple of times). The main one was something sad . . .

cut for spoilersCollapse )

Reframing unhealthy relationship ideas

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Someone posted this article to Facebook:
http://loveisinfinite.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/five-romantic-ideas-that-are-really-not/
. . . and I thought to myself, "It's easy to come up with healthy-relationship-alternate phrases for some of these":

Turn “I can’t live without you.” into something like "You make me happy to be alive" to remove the creepy "I'd die without you" implication.

What's creepy about “I know you better than you know yourself” is the direction it is being said in. If it's really true, the other person might say things like, "Sometimes I think you know me better than I know myself" or "I love the way you know how I like to be touched."

The last 2 are just plain wrong, though, they don't have a clever alternate.

“You should JUST KNOW…

…what’s wrong/exactly what your partner wants in bed/if someone wants to have sex with you/if you’re serious or casual or exclusive.”


No, don't assume you just know, Communicate, dammit!. Because it's so easy to THINK you know when you don't, really. Unless you communicate, and then you know for sure!

“If you really love someone, you want to keep them all to yourself.”

No. We all get possessive of things sometimes, but possessiveness doesn't mean you care about something, it just means you want it. There's so much more to love than that.
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Awhile ago, I got together a big batch of songs to try to learn to play on guitar. A couple of them* I was really enjoying, and liking the sound of, except they each had one chord I was finding impossible to play - sure, I could try to play them, but however slowly and carefully I laid down my fingers, I'd get dud notes.

The problem is that I am not good at barre chords - when I try to press more than a couple of strings with the same finger and simultaneously play other notes with other fingers, it is a mess.

The first thing I tried was the half-assed solution - play a familiar, easier chord that is vaguely similar to the chord I'm supposed to be playing. That was unsatisfactory.

The second thing I tried was just practice the impossible chords a bunch. That didn't really help much - I'd have to get them right in the first place to be able to practice up to getting them right in the middle of a song.

The third thing I tried was researching how to get around difficulties in playing barre chords. I actually watched a couple of instructional YouTube videos, which is something I rarely do. They told me some potentially useful stuff, but also led me to the idea that barre chords really just aren't my style. If I switched to a different guitar or lowered the action and put thinner strings on existing guitars, it might make barre chords easier. But it would also make the guitar much less the sort that I like to play in general.

The fourth thing I did was google for alternate ways to play the chords*. And there, I unexpectedly hit the jackpot! I found a good source for alternate ways to play chords, and both chords had alternate, non-barre options that I found much easier to play, which didn't even require me to slide to a totally different section of the neck or anything crazy.

In fact, in the case of Heart of Gold, I'm pretty sure I discovered how the song was actually supposed to be played, because I find it very unlikely that Neil Young would switch to the annoying chord of annoyingness when he could get the same basic bunch of notes by simply lifting up one finger from the chord he was playing previously!

I guess the moral of this story is, don't assume the most well-known fingering for a guitar chord is the right one for you and what you are trying to play, if it isn't working for you.

* "Something Fast" by Sisters of Mercy, and "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young.
* Most notes on a guitar have more than one spot they can be played. If you count the same note in a different octave, there's even more options. So while chords have common fingerings, there is always another way to get basically the same set of notes. Whether it is a better way or a worse way, depends on the chord or the situation. For an example, click here and select a chord, any chord, and see some different ways it can be played!

Some People Regenerate . . . Get Over It

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SomePeopleRegenerate500px-01

I made this bit of art in reaction to the reactions fans were making to the announcement of Peter Capaldi playing the next Doctor on Doctor Who. Every time the Doctor regenerates, there always seem to be people who don't like the new version of the Doctor. To me, they're all just the Doctor.

If any of you would like this image on a t-shirt, they are available for order here through September 27. Any profits go to the Tardis Tea Society.

Thoughts on Iron Man and Batman

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Thinking about Iron Man and Batman today. They are both popular superheroes who don't have any true superpowers, but do everything with gadgets. They are both orphans. They also both were born into incredible wealth with family-owned corporations. I wonder how they'd have ended up without the money.

Batman I think would definitely be in a different place. He isn't a supergenius. His incredible gadgets were taken from the family corporation's R&D, and his skills were learned traveling the world. If Bruce Wayne was an ordinary orphan with a lesser inheritance, he would have turned out rather different.

Iron Man, though . . . Tony Stark IS a supergenius who actually created his own gadgets. He created his first electromagnet chest piece and Iron Man suit in pretty horrible conditions, in captivity and secrecy when he was supposed to be building something else. I think much of his story could have worked as well without the inherited wealth. Having the family corporation certainly helped him along the way, but it wasn't required to make the story happen. He was a boy genius who went to MIT at 15 and didn't become Iron Man until many years later. It might have been harder or less plausible, but he could have got there on his own.

Are there any major superheroes who don't have either superpowers or inherited riches? I can't think of any.
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I have some friendships where, whenever we see each other, there are big smiles, big hugs, and general excitement to see each other. I have other friendships where we greet each other with much more reserve, no physical contact, smaller smiles, quieter conversation. Large smiles and excitement will occur only if there is some exciting news or something, and hugs are a rare event. And of course, some friendships are somewhere in between.

I generally prefer the hugging model, but I'm pretty easygoing about it and try to pick up on cues from others on what they are comfortable with. What I didn't really realize to myself until recently is the fact that the hugging friends aren't necessarily closer friends than the non-hugging friends. I used to assume that the hugging friends were closer friends and liked me better than the non-hugging friends, unless there was some major cues otherwise. But when I heard a friend say she "wasn't really a hugger", something clicked into place in my brain and I started thinking differently.

For example, when I ran into the former accountant from my work at IrishFest last year, she and I had a typical "hugging friend" greeting, even though we barely know each other, and had never worked closely together or had much personal conversation. She greeted me that way because that's the type of person she is - it doesn't mean we are close friends. On the other hand, when I ran into another former coworker and her partner at PrideFest, we did the "non-hugging friend" greeting, even though we had worked much more closely together and had much more personal conversation. She greeted me that way because that's the type of person she is, not because likes me less or feels less close to me.

Some people just aren't really huggers, or at least tend to reserve hugs for special occasions or people they are very, very close to. Other people like to hug everyone they like, even if they barely know them (though, when they encounter people who are similarly free with hugs, they may form close friendships easier than the non-huggers).

I have realized that I know several people who are probably closer friends than I thought they were, because I had assumed no hugs meant we weren't that close. But when I look at all the other details of the friendships, I realize that some people just aren't huggers and that sometimes the hugs don't really matter.

If you want to be my hugging friend and you're not, it is probably because I've misread your cues. It happens. But it is easily corrected - just start giving me hugs and I will respond likewise. But if I've read your cues correctly and you're just not much of a hugger, that's cool too, I know now that it doesn't mean I'm consigned to some outer ring of friendship.