Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Quickie Catch-Up

It's not all ranting here.. originally this was just a knitting blog. So... here are some of the many things I've knit since we last spoke of knitting (in no particular order):

Lots of deviation from the pattern here - a first for me. Improvising based on a pattern is tough for me, too, but this was ultra satisfying! Beard is attached to the 'helmet.'

Sometimes it is worth making something you'd personally never wear; this made an excellent gift I didn't know I'd need to have on hand, and it suited the person perfectly!

This took me a full year of work and it was worth it. It's not totally obvious in the picture but that is a beaded edge - I think it took about 3000 beads (literally) and I am really proud of it. I'm starting to look at other shawls to knit. This was a wedding present but it can't hurt to have extra elegance on hand.

Made up the pattern but not the stitch, which I borrowed from one of those "stitch-a-day" calendars. Excellent dish rag with texture to scrub made from cheapo Red Heart Super Savor acrylic.

Ended up holding the strands too tightly, I think. This ended up being too small to be comfortable which is too bad because the yarn is insanely soft and it looks so cool! May pick up this pattern again.

This took ages as well but was nice to have on my lap while it was cold. After washing in the machine the yarn really blossomed and is now more vibrant and incredibly soft.

Finally know someone with a baby so I can knit baby things! This was so fast, satisfying, and adorable!

The most recently finished product. 100% cotton I'm not sure it will get much use out here, but it was fun to knit and the yarn is pretty.

That's it for now. Go have some fun!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

List of Things I Learned While Temporarily Disabled

  • People become polarized into complete assholes or unbelievable angels
    • Only the angels know which category they fall under

  • Every single step is torture
    • Find the most economic (step-wise) routes available as soon as possible
      • When on crutches, long windy wheelchair ramps are equally as terrible as stairs
    • Snow is a pain in the ass
      • Nowhere near as bad as black ice
      • Nowhere near as bad as wet tile

  • People who ride bikes through crowds on campus are my personal heart attack

  • Bathrooms marked 'disabled' have serious design flaws for actual disabled people. For example:
    • Paper towels being across the room from the sink 
    • Tile floors are very slippery when wet
    • Low toilets are difficult if it's a bad knee
    • Doors opening into the bathroom is very dangerous if someone is coming in when you're trying to leave
    • The 'handicap buttons' that open the door automatically make people assume they can enter while it is opening

  • Always hesitate (with hand on the wall for stability) before turning around a corner, the person coming the other way will not be hesitating or will suddenly be in pain after a short stop

  • It gets very boring thinking about the things you cannot do; focusing on the things you can do is necessary

  • How to prioritize myself and sacrifice in order to focus on physical, mental, and emotional, personal health

  • Days feel like an eternity, weeks go by in the blink of an eye

  • Physical therapy is an absolute bitch, physically and mentally
    • The excruciatingly hard work results in tiny, tiny victories that are insanely rewarding
      • I jumped yesterday!

  • If I didn't have so many negative drug experiences in my teenage years, I would be an addict today: it's too easy and welcoming to begin and stay while being equally difficult and torturous to stop

  • I was so lucky
    • my injury is temporary - I will one day be back to normal
    • I have an amazing network of people who love and support me
    • the timing worked out really well
      • we happened to have savings to afford a surgery
      • physical therapy is free because I'm a student
      • other stuff
    • I have a goal to work towards outside of "being normal again"
    • I have proof that I keep my resolve when I am challenged
    • I have a new avenue for empathy

      If nothing else: I am lucky, I am strong, I am loved.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Uma Therman is My Spirit Animal

A lot has been happening to me the last couple of days .. week .. couple of months .. this year. I started out with a sense of optimism that this was going to be a a laughably easy year: I finally found my bearings in a new city, had a great job, just started a new hobby (Inti Ombak Pencak Silat), had a couple semesters of my Bachelors under my belt.. and had this as my status on Facebook:

Not this year but the next I will have my Masters, Bachelors, and CPA, plus we will be headed back to California. This year is an investment period; time to become the best I can get emotionally, physically.. optimistically! I feel in a much better place than I was this time last year so I am encouraged.

What could possibly go wrong?

Obviously then this happened:

I tore my ACL and subsequently had my very first surgery, my very first time on crutches, and a hell of a lot of snow. Each point of my progress, things got more difficult than the point before. I have to admit that the easiest part of all of this experience was the few days immediately after surgery, when I was drugged out of my mind. That is my only drug memory I look back on fondly, come to think of it (but then coming off of it was something I never want to do again, so there's that). The consumption of time that physical therapy took (and continues to take), combined with juggling many schedules trying to compensate, classes/homework/projects, mentoring, teaching, and exhaustion/pain resulted in me leaving my lovely job.

It is now May and I am about 2/3rds of the way through the physical therapy regiment. Before it all I was leg pressing 200 pounds. My first time after surgery was pure agony lifting 60 pounds..  it was so disheartening. Now I am at 180 (and 100 on one leg)! Today, though, things turned amazing.

I started running. I have always had a strong dislike for running; it is high impact and hurts my heart after a while, it makes me cough and gives me a headache, it gets boring moving so slowly and I always end up tripping over something. But it was taken away and replaced with careful, agonizingly slow stepping and being hyper aware of everyone around me at all times (my biggest fear on campus was an idiot on a bicycle running into me and tearing my graft). Today, though, I was on the treadmill facing a mirror, and I could see the full impact of losing nearly 60 pounds of weight, I could breathe because my legs were strong, and I was faster than I have been in four months. My physical therapist was so impressed that he said my right leg (the bad one) was running even better than my other leg! He shook his head in disbelief! This wasn't my biggest moment of freedom, however.

This was my biggest enemy:

I had to jump up on it (raised about 8 inches), jump off, then jump forward, landing in a squatting position. Physically, not terribly impressive I admit. Psychologically it was the toughest moment of my entire experience (which is saying a lot). For months every instinct has been focused on protecting my leg, learning to walk and lift high enough to walk on stairs, carefully (carefully!!) place each step so I don't tear the graft by pivoting or putting to much impact on my knee. Suddenly I was tasked with jumping (for the first time in months (or "fftm" for short)) up a step (fftm) and landing with the full impact of my weight (fftm).. five times in a row. Staring down at that thing I felt I had a better chance reciting an Italian opera word for word from memory, and I don't know Italian. The therapist (Eric) saw me struggling and even offered to lower the height if I wanted, but no: I do things the hard way or why bother. I don't know how, but I did it. There aren't words to express the willpower it took, but nothing has ever taken that much in my life, and I have been tested. 

That's not even the best part! Eric let me know that it is only 2 and a half months until I can prove to the surgeon that I am a fully fledged human being through a series of physical tests (as ya do) and he will say the words I have been coveting for literally several moons: "no restrictions." I will get back to silat full fledged. I will kick and punch and pivot my little heart out because, even though this happened in silat, it is truly the only thing that keeps me going back to the Rec center, pushing my leg to the point where it feels like it is about to break 30 times in a row for 7 different machines and become exhausted for the rest of the day. It is how I justify the loss of my job. It is the only thing that still makes me feel powerful and something that is my choice to do. Today (well, literally yesterday), I still cry after 10 minutes of only upper body work, but my passion and enthusiasm keep me determined for tomorrow (figuratively).

I will become a black belt. I will be my own master.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Stay With Me.. Just.. Stay With Me Here

First things first: I believe psychic abilities exist. Now that most (all?) of you have stopped reading allow me to clarify. I do not believe that those popular television 'psychics' use psychic abilities at all in their highly edited and tricky programs. I don't believe in the websites that predict you are going do die on X date. I believe that psychic abilities 1) relate to our failed perspective of time and 2) are often explained away as intuition.

Second things second: I use tarot cards. Now that the rest of you (all?) have stopped reading, let me clarify yet again. Of course there are scam artists that exist which, sadly, are the most popular and instantly recognizable tarot card practitioners. They are usually about as credible as the aforementioned television "psychics." Second most popular are the witch-type figures who are showcased in creepy late-night movies who typically will tell you that you will meet a dark stranger next Tuesday or, alternatively, you will die. Personally, I do not use the cards this way, I use them to create a conversation to shift a perspective on an issue and more often than not, they have helped me in uncanny ways. But more about this later.

So. Now that nobody trusts anything I have to say or think, let's continue!

1) Our Failed Perspective of Time

Scientists understand that we don't really understand the concept of time.. Some say that it is circular, some say it is multi-directional, some say it is a mass of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff. Altogether, they do seem to agree that how we perceive time (past, present, future, all straight in a line) is probably wrong.

2) Intuition, Exactly

That said, let us blame our brain on how we perceive time, since the presence of memories implies that things happened in the past. What if some people had a part of their brain (like the temporal lobe, for memory) that is able to access things that have not yet happened? For instance, I wrote about in my earlier late night ramble about feminism, my psychic moment of convincing my husband to not get onto the train in Japan, without being able to provide a reasonable explanation (until my brother showed up 10 minutes later). There, I attributed it to intuition being heightened by being in a strange place and PMSing, but what if it intuition IS this ability to access things that have not yet happened yet? What exactly is intuition, scientifically speaking, anyway?

I personally believe that intuition is a skill that can be honed. I believe the same thing of psychic ability, and both feel exactly the same when they occur (in my personal experience).

3) Tarot Cards

I've already explained that I use Tarot to shift perspectives, and sometimes (a lot of the time) this ends up with cannily accurate explanations for future events. Personally, I believe that Tarot taps into the aforementioned intuition/psychic skills by displacing the decisions onto interpretations of cards. Intuition is only reliable when there is no personal element of emotion involved, and the cards offer themselves as the perfect 3rd party to talk to/with/about in order to draw it out.

Obviously, I am no scientist. Obviously, I am a bit weird. However, the long and the short of it is, I do not believe that just because scientists do not have an explanation for psychics or 'hippy' or 'witchcraft' things doesn't mean that they don't exist, aren't valid, or that they can't ever eventually be explained by science itself! It's a big ol' universe out there and we can't hope to learn all about it if we automatically put our blinders on to things that seem weird (and our wonder of which scam artists have taken advantage). Plus, using intuition and psychic abilities as synonyms, this means that anyone can be psychic, there can be varying levels of psychic talent, and might even prove some theories of perception of time.

Or I could just need some sleep. What are your (kind, nonjudgmental) thoughts?

Friday, May 02, 2014

Obscure Myth - Modernized for the Business Nerd

So, I had an assignment this semester to modernize a myth of our choice from Ovid's Metamorphoses. For all you business people who enjoy Roman mythology.. this is for you (both)! There's a link to the original myth after my version:

Procne, CEO and Philomela, Inc.

            Procne, owner of one of the most successful companies in the world: MacDonulds Corporation, presents a merger idea to Tereus, CEO of Bargar King Inc., in order to expand into the world market. At the merger, they conceive a start-up company, I.T.Y.S., despite the advice of their financial consultants, who predict a grim outcome for the new company.

            As the years pass, Procne confides in Tereus for financial advice and eventually asks him to examine MacDonuld’s sister company, Philomela Inc., for growth opportunities. Tereus accepts out of respect for their friendship and convinces Procne that Philomela is in good hands. Upon looking at Philomela’s books, he is overcome with greed at the expected growth and profitability of the company. As it grows, he levels out the profits and embezzles funds on the side, manipulating the books as he sees fit, keeping it all a secret from Procne.

            For several years Tereus continues this embezzlement in exponentially larger and larger amounts. In order to keep embezzling, Tereus takes total control over the books and advantage of his authority in the company to force the accountants to falsify financial reports to the authorities. Eventually, the actual profitability of Philomela, Inc. begins to dwindle (though Tereus never lessens the amount of funds he takes) and, without interference, will succumb to bankruptcy.

            Procne is e-mailed by an anonymous whistle-blower a copy of Philomela, Inc.’s actual financial statements, before any manipulation from Tereus. Seeing the tattered remains of her once extremely profitable company, Procne decides to exact revenge on Tereus. Knowing his personal investment and enthusiasm for I.T.Y.S., Procne convinces all the other shareholders to sell their shares of stock, effectively ripping the new company apart and forcing Tereus to eat the remains of the company’s debt.

            When presented with the news of this sabotage, Tereus becomes furious and attempts to slander MacDonulds and Philomela, Inc. in the media: accusing them of insider trading and obscene business practices. As a result of the heated, reactionary, and public fight between the two company owners, Nightingale, Swallow and Hoopoe, LLP are forced by the powers that be (the Internal Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, and the International Financial Reporting Standards board) to dissolve Philomela, Inc. Tereus and Procne are now, by law, forbidden to own or operate a company for at least 25 years.

Original (begins at line 401): http://poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/Metamorph6.htm

Saturday, December 28, 2013

In Which I Rant

I never really expected to become this sort of person, but I'm getting a bit angry so I'm allowing myself to vent.

No matter how well I feel that the human species is evolving, I am still seeing more and more examples of the continued prevalence of inherent sexism in many constant things; the English language, popular religions, media of all types. The biggest issue seems to be: men are considered the 'default' human, as it were. Similar to most white peoples' mistake (it was mine as well, formerly thank goodness) of considering white to be 'raceless' while every other race builds on the raceless template. It limits understanding and is 99% of the time subconscious.

The English language is fairly obvious in this assumption; masculine pronouns are simply more common than feminine and not only shape our biases towards something, it is nearly always subconscious. Male words are often short in syllables and conjure up images and feelings of strength (it's most obvious in names like Jack, Max, etc.) while female words are associated with soft and delicate (Jessica, Madison, anything ending in -ey). I'm making generalizations because I'm not a scientist, but the point is that the way think of men being the default is obvious even in our choice of words and language. Changing them to things like "herstory" is never going to work.

I read an article a long time ago, describing the dynamics of a couple in a relationship. When one person is in the dominant role, they are comfortable. They won't understand why the other person gets upset that they leave the toilet seat a certain way or the cap off the toothpaste, because they are in power it means they chose to do so; how can the other person be so upset about some mundane decision? Because the other person had no choice but to deal with the decision of the first person. This way of thinking applies to men: they don't understand these silly feminists bickering about terminology like "herstory" when it has the significance of leaving the cap off the toothpaste, but feminists are legitimately angry because they are dealing with a decision made hundreds of years ago that gives the assumption that men are supposed to be in power.

I also read an argument online (earlier today, in fact) about letting women in the military. People on both sides and in all different positions (in the military and not) were giving very well thought out, completely "justified" examples of why women just should not be soldiers. I put justified in quotes there because it was completely justified, but only in their own minds. One solid example is that women tend to have hips, which cause them to be unable to deadlift over 140lbs. Ever. All women. Any shape, size, stubborn-ness, etc. are all lumped together and were decided that they cannot ever deadlift over 140lbs by some guy, who everyone else decided to agree with. One woman was staunchly arguing against this point, claiming she did crossfit, martial arts, and other forms of exercise and could lift 145lbs. People were brutal in their defense of their made-up facts, despite the fact that her profile picture indeed had her wearing a crossfit shirt. Do you see the danger here? One of the guys arguing claimed to have been in the Marines and, since he never saw any woman lift over 140lbs, declared it impossible; the hips just wouldn't let women lift more than 140lbs ever. The crossfit woman must be lying to "prove a point." Don't even get me started in that direction. Clearly, in this venue, the men's argument is revealed to be total bullshit. However, in the forum it was in, it was at least 20 guys arguing with one woman. Only the woman had legitimate proof that she could, even as a woman, lift over 140lbs, despite her hip disability, but she was outvoted because of the assumption that men are supposed to be in power, therefore right.

I'm not even touching media, which is so vast in its wrongness that I don't have the energy to touch the rant.

I never thought of myself as a 'radical feminist' or even a feminist until a year ago. No big event happened, I just decided to say something every time I noticed something, that's all. Just that little change has made me see these base assumptions everywhere I look. It's easy to say "I want equality" but what does that mean? I thought it meant women = men, but that's not true is it.. can it ever be? People will always argue women are physically different than men, because they are right. Hell, medicine is JUST NOW realizing that "hey, women react differently to medication designed for men.. huh" one example is heart attacks. Women typically don't get the whole arm tingly, tight chest, etc that every single person can recognize as a heart attack. Usually they get flu-like symptoms and a 'sense of impending doom.' Sometimes they just get the sense of doom, not the flu.. but it results in 80% heart damage. So no, women are not the same as men and therefore and not equal in terminology. However, levels of respect should absolutely be equal. Guess what, when I'm on my period (or in unfamiliar surroundings or in stress, imagine that) my intuition and levels of empathy go through the roof. My favorite example, because it totally won my husband over to its level of reality, is as follows:

My husband Billy and I were in Japan, visiting my brother, Mike. Mike had to go to work, Billy wanted to explore, but I didn't... it's not that I didn't want to as such, but I didn't think we should. Just had a feeling. Billy talked me into it enough that we started walking to the train station. We were feet away from buying our ticket when I started to get a very deep feeling that we shouldn't go. Billy got upset because I had no reason to back it up, other than some vague feeling that wasn't based in rooted fact that he could understand. I eventually talked him into it and, very begrudgingly, we started walking back to Mike's house. Halfway there, Mike pulls up along side us in his car; he had gotten the day off in order to be able to hang out with us. If we had gone exploring, we would never have run into him, and (later we found out) we were about to buy tickets to the wrong place and would have gotten very lost.

The point is, I'm not the only one. Men don't get this every month, but women do and can be 'trained' to recognize the feelings and enhance them. Maybe that should get some level of respect instead of the usual eyeroll and marginalizing cringe of "oh god pms." Not to mention the odd double standard of "women are so delicate they can't handle blood and violence" and the fact that we bleed for a week every month and handle it with dignity (well, women do.. girls not so much. There's a difference). It's the most metal thing I can think of.

Clearly we have a long way to go, but I cannot believe we are still figuring this shit out. I mean, we've been here the whole time too ya know? /endrant

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

In Which I am Beside Myself

This morning, the first day of 2013, I was awoken at a reasonable time by a text message from a friend informing me of his immediate plans to kill himself. He was currently in an abandoned laundry mat and trying to calculate the quietest and quickest way, and was deciding on an overdose.

My husband and I managed to keep him texting (his preferred method of contact) for an hour but he ended the conversation with "I just got arrested" and then two minutes later "It was nice knowing you. You're the only person I bothered to contact".

I have no idea if getting arrested was a lie or the truth. I've never hoped so much for someone I know to be arrested.. then he would be watched and he wouldn't be alone. I don't know where he is or what he's doing. I don't know if he's alive.

I contacted a member of his family through Facebook, for I had no other choice. Besides that, I am impotent in my abilities for further action. All I can do is stare into space and let the water drip. He's the only friend I've made in this new town and the thought of losing of him is unbearable. I have no words.

*Edit* He is alive and in a better place.