liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
So someone on FB, who is an introvert, expressed a desire for extroverts to talk more about what it's like to be an extrovert, as this is something they don't understand. So I thought I'd give it a go, here rather than FB cos I don't like posting thinky things that just vanish into FB's ether.

living up to the stereotype by talking about myself )

Any other extroverts want to comment? I'm making this a public post and will link it from FB for the benefit of the person who wanted to learn about what it's like to be us.

Bike!!!

Dec. 7th, 2015 04:42 pm
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
I bought a bike! I've been trying to for ages but not had time to get to bike shops when they were open. Today we went to John's Bikes in Arbury Court and explained what I wanted and John pointed me out a bike he reckoned would be suitable. It's not a classical Dutch bike but it has some similar characteristics, upright and sturdy. John only sells new bikes, and I sort of wanted to get second-hand but on the other hand, this bike fits my requirements, it's in my price range, and available now. I tried it by riding up and down the road and it felt pleasant, so I decided to go for it.

Talking to John, who is clearly a bike enthusiast, reminded me a bit of my Grandad who use to run a bike shop. But he died before I really got to the point of having adult conversations with him, so I mostly know about him from stories. I do feel sort of wistful that I can't tell him all about my new shiny bike and all the advances in technology of the past three decades, but I suspect that if my Grandad were actually still alive I wouldn't have gone 20 years without owning a bike of my own.

New bike is shiny and black and has Python written on it, so it needs a pythony name. Top candidates so far are Regulus and Apodora. But suggestions welcome, very much including programming jokes.

Getting the bike home was interesting; it's only a mile but it's along a lot of main roads. I ended up wheeling the bike halfway up Campkin Road, and then found one of those barely functional cycle paths by the school, one that has junction boxes in the middle of it and only goes for a few hundred metres before disappearing into road and pedestrian-only pavement. And then I turned off into the little backstreets where our house is and bravely cycled the rest of the way on the actual road. Going round parked cars is still scary but I think I will get used to it.

Definitely need practice at cycling on roads, but acquiring the bike gets me over the major hurdle.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
I've been in a funny mood these past couple of weeks. There have been lovely things, viz:

misc bitty things; mentions death )

Anyway, it's been the kind of time when I keep opening compose windows and not knowing what to say. And I haven't got anything new for Reading Wednesday as I have read basically no fiction in the past couple of weeks. So have some links to other people's writing:

  • I rather appreciated [livejournal.com profile] evilrooster's fic Silence in the hill country. It's not at all the sort of thing I normally like, since it's NT fic for one thing, and for another the main topic is Mary's pregnancy. And I'm slightly hesitant to recommend Christian Bible fic, but as far as I can tell the story is framed in a reverent way; the writer is a practising Christian.

  • A rather sweet story about a so-called natural inseminator, a man who helps women to become pregnant by having sex with them rather than just donating sperm. Although there is a weird bit in the middle where the journalist expresses horror at the idea that people with genetic diseases or autistic people might donate sperm, so if you don't want to run into sudden unexpected eugenics you probably shouldn't follow the link.

  • [personal profile] rachelmanija started a wonderful discussion about how people find hope in a time of despair. I should note, I could hardly be further from despair, there are many many good things in my life and I have more to look forward to. And some of what people are writing about is dealing with absolutely horrible circumstances, pretty much everything horrible that could happen to anyone is in the comments somewhere. I'm finding something very moving about people's descriptions of just still being here after the worst possible things happened to them.
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
( You're about to view content that the journal owner has advised should be viewed with discretion. )
liv: oil painting of seated nude with her back to the viewer (body)
I am a fan of Naomi Alderman in general, and I was really impressed with her piece on being a fat person who made a fitness app (the app in question is Zombies, Run!, which I've been enjoying after several of you recommended it to me. So [personal profile] rmc28, you might be particularly interested in the linked article). I love the title There's no morality in exercise and the lede You’re not a better person for working out, or a worse person for not. And the whole piece really resonated with me. It was so important to me to find a way into exercise that isn't about weight loss or morality, and particularly not weight-loss conflated with morality, and I feel like Alderman really gets that. Plus what she says about competition is really wise; if only people who are already highly athletic are allowed to train and improve, that's a pretty unhelpful situation.

As well as agreeing with Alderman politically, I find that my experiences in many ways chime with hers, so I want to babble about that for a bit. This will involve talking about weight, body image, dieting and social attitudes to health / fitness / weight, all that scary complicated emotive stuff. I also mention childhood bullying, which is not a very surprising thing to come up in this sort of context.

reasons for exercise )

And it's not a moral imperative, not at all, I get certain benefits from exercise but I could well imagine another person deciding it's not worth the effort. I am putting a lot of time in, and I have had to give up some stuff I wanted to do to be able to do this regular running. But at least I want to offer the possibility that you can exercise because you want to, you don't have to try for weight loss, you don't have to do it because it's healthy and you are obliged to strive for health. And you can still exercise even if, like me, you're fairly bad at it. Competition can be fun, but it's not the only option.
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
I was doing so well, managed to post every day up to Boxing Day, and then I fell off the wagon. It's for a good reason, though, cos I've been having the most amazing weekend celebrating my 36th birthday.

Saturday we had a party and lots of people I really like showed up, in spite of really horrendous transport doom in London. My sister (who wasn't present) made me 36 square pieces of gingerbread to mark being a square number of years, and we had fun eating them in ways to keep them arranged in squares for as long as possible. We got to meet [personal profile] morwen's brother and [personal profile] kaberett's boything. However one friend had not quite registered that it was supposed to be an afternoon party rather than an evening party, and showed up at 11 pm. I was so pleased to see her and have a chance to catch up that I ended up talking to her instead of writing my post for that day.

Then Sunday we celebrated the second half of Granny's 95th birthday. The first half had been on the day itself, Boxing Day, when we travelled up to Brighton for a roast dinner hosted by my brother Screwy. Whereas yesterday we had a tea-party at my parents', with my other brother, Thuggish Poet, present plus a few of Granny's local friends. It was especially nice to see both my brothers, albeit consecutively! [personal profile] cjwatson and [livejournal.com profile] ghoti came over to ours for the evening, and I wanted to spend time with them more than I wanted to catch up with DW posts, so. It definitely felt like the whole weekend was my birthday this year!

Anyway, on 27th if I hadn't been busy turning 36, I was going to write about owls, as requested by [personal profile] jack, and this is fairly short so I can squeeze it in now. owls )

[December Days masterpost]
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
[personal profile] bugshaw asked for Colours you saw that day, and when I put the calendar together I accidentally put her prompt on a day when I'm working from home, then travelling back to Stoke probably after it gets dark. So I don't have many opportunities to go out and find interesting colours. I will talk about the colours in our home instead.

domestic )

[December Days masterpost]
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
[personal profile] cjwatson gave the really thinky prompt:
"Homes": you have active roots in several quite geographically separate places, not only in terms of where you actually spend your time, but also communities you feel attached to. How does this affect your concept of home?

wherever I lay my hat )

[December Days masterpost]
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
[personal profile] watersword asked about Cambridge-the-town. Basically I've considered myself "from" Cambridge from 1987 to today, though I've only actually lived there full time from 1995 to 1997. And I have only indirect connections with Cambridge-the-institution, I mean, quite a lot of indirect connections – just about everybody I've seriously dated (apart from [livejournal.com profile] darcydodo) has been a Cambridge graduate – but I've basically spent my whole life clarifying, Cambridge-the-town, not Cambridge University.

but men from Shelford and those parts / have twisted lips and twisted hearts )

[December Days masterpost]
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[twitter.com profile] kake linked to a cool post by [personal profile] doug about changing history with a time machine. It's the sort of post that makes me realize just how weak my history is. There's absolutely no way I could come up with any sensible argument for which people and events made a substantial difference to the course of history, or how history would have been different if those fulcrum events ran differently. Anyway I really like reading stuff by knowledgeable people playing around with ideas like this!

Also I accidentally rekindled the debate about whether Harriet Vane is a Mary-Sue at [personal profile] staranise's place. People are being careful about major spoilers but if you don't want to know anything the plots or characters of any Sayers books at all you might want to avoid the thread. [personal profile] legionseagle quite rightly points out that my initial premise was simplistic and probably sexist, and also has some really informative and insightful ideas about Sayers' oeuvre, about Mary-Sues, and about the law. And lots of thinky stuff about class and how that's changed historically from various people, including [personal profile] naraht. And [personal profile] staranise herself brings the psychological insight regarding relationships between authors and characters.

One of the major topics I've been thinking about recently is how to maintain communication with people I care about a lot but who aren't regularly in my life. Partly sparked by this really chewy discussion chez [personal profile] kaberett, which started off responding to a Captain Awkward discussion about when you should just assume someone who isn't getting back to you doesn't actually want to be talking to you and it's time to stop pestering, and moves on to talking about different media and how they work or don't for communication. Also I've been talking to [personal profile] lethargic_man about related stuff; he used to joke that the reason he asked me out was that that was the only way to get me to answer emails, and it's somewhat true, I've been a direly terrible correspondent in the decade since we broke up. And now I am committing the terrible irony of failing to keep up with an email conversation about ways of keeping up with email conversations...

So, I'd like to hear from people, how do you manage this kind of thing? What sorts of communication media work for you or don't? noodling about this )

Anyway, how do you do this? How do you handle email guilt and deal with Facebook's horribleness? Are you comfortable flexibly moving between different media depending what suits your friends? Have you, like me, started to lose people now that lots are migrating away from DW? Thoughts very much welcome!
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
So I'm trying to move to Cambridge to live with [personal profile] jack, even though I still work in the Midlands. Today I finally managed to sell the house where I was living until February, so that's tangible progress towards the shape of life I want.

boring details )

Skills gap

Jul. 7th, 2014 01:44 pm
liv: Composite image of Han Solo and Princess Leia, labelled Hen Solo (gender)
I'm bad at really a lot of things that women are expected to be good at. Some of them don't matter very much: clothes, make-up, fashion, personal adornment in general, for example. This doesn't matter to me because I'm cis, so people rarely challenge whether I'm "really" female, and I have a weak sense of gender identity so I don't feel hurt, weird or dysphoric if people do in fact think I'm unfeminine. And it's easy to dismiss looking pretty as just superficial; certainly my professional life doesn't depend on succeeding at it.

Lots more stuff in this category consists of valuable skills, but ones that men get away with being mediocre at, so although I would like to improve I don't worry very much that I'm below average compared to women if I'm at a level that's fairly typical for men in my society. Things like cooking and baking, housekeeping, fabric arts, domestic sphere type stuff. Being able to cook, clean and sew are in fact important, and they're devalued precisely because they're seen as "feminine". But I'm pretty sure if I were male I would be praised for keeping my living space as clean and tidy as I do, for being able to cook a decent if not extensive range of nutritious and tasty meals, for being able to sew on buttons and carry out minor clothing repairs. To some extent you could say the same thing about appearance-related stuff; in our particular society, men aren't expected to know how to put on make-up or wear a range of different clothes carefully matched to the formality of various situations, so these things are considered unimportant, not because they actually are.

The third category is where I'm more concerned about my deficiencies. I guess you could broadly call it social or communication skills. Empathy, intuition, emotional communication. I want to be better at these things primarily because I'd do better in life and be less likely to inadvertently hurt people, not really because women are "supposed" to be good at them.

more noodling )
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
My mother had a theory that the best route to a good social life was to know how to swim, play tennis, dance formally, and play bridge. This turned out to reflect a society that isn't quite the one I grew up in, but still, I did learn some of these skills.

social skills and bridge geekery )

And coming full circle, [personal profile] jack has made himself very popular by making a fourth at bridge when he's visiting my parents. So far we seem to be an exception to the maxim that couples shouldn't be bridge partners! I think this is partly because we've set out very determined that we are interested in improving our game not "beating" our friends, and also because we are using bridge learning as a sandbox to practise communication. So ways for [personal profile] jack to point out that I did something wrong without turning it into a fight, and ways to come to a compromise quickly when we have incomplete information or limited time for negotiation. And generally being partners, something which we strive for in our life in general, not just at the bridge table!
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
I was a fairly early adopter of Gmail, back in the days when Google was the non-evil alternative to Microsoft. As a result I was able to snag an email address which is just my (common) first name plus initials. A consequence of this is that people quite frequently sign up to web services and mailing lists with my email address.

The other day I received one such email, acknowledging receipt of $500, welcoming me to a business service, and listing "my" details, including full name, address (in New York State), phone number, SSN and partially obfuscated credit card number. I'm not sure why I even opened the mail, I could tell it wasn't really intended for me. At this point I felt a bit sorry for my namesake, who had spent $500 on a service she wasn't going to get, and I was a bit concerned about all her personal details being shared with a total stranger (you would think that a competent business would verify the email address before emailing details; at least they didn't send out her password in the clear). I was also a bit unhappy at the prospect of receiving all this person's emails forever.

There was no unsubscribe link, presumably because the person had already positively opted in to receiving the emails. I went to the URL the email originated from (typing it manually, not clicking any links in the email). I saw a website that looked legitimate in the sense that I guessed it was actually selling the thing it was claiming to be selling, not just trying to install malware on my computer. But it looked pretty slimy in the sense that what it was selling was essentially some kind of multi-level marketing scheme. I could not find any useful contact details for said slimy company; the only way to contact them was through their members-only area. I tried their Twitter account, and as expected got no reply. While this was going on I received a whole bunch more emails from the company, which made me the more determined to get myself off their books.

So I tried calling the number listed in the person's details in the email. I already have a calling plan such that calls to the US are free, so it was just a nuisance, not expensive, to do this. To my surprise, it was a home number, not a business number. The person who answered made no attempt to find out who I was or what my business was, just informed me that the person I was asking for was out, would be back in an hour and would I like her cell number? So I called again an hour later, having considered what I would say to make myself sound convincing. I personally would be very suspicious if I received a call from a stranger in a foreign country claiming there had been a security breach and the foreigner had access to my personal details. In the event the person believed me straight away without needing any convincing, and was effusively grateful that I'd let her know, and promised me to get things fixed straight away.

A little later I received an email from the company with a slightly panicked tone and rather poor SpaG begging me to please delete the email with the personal details. Of course by this point they'd already sold my email address on to various even scummier "business" services, so my hope that I was going to avoid getting unwanted mailshots was in vain. But at least I helped the person whose email address is one letter away from mine to get what she paid for.

security thoughts )

I have no particular suggestions for how to fix this, but I'm annoyed.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
Lots of internet communities I'm peripherally aware of talk about consent culture. I think the idea started from sex-positive feminism, a sort of more advanced stage of dealing with sexual consent beyond just "no means no". People should actively choose the sex they want to have, without being subjected to even subtle or indirect pressure. It's not a big leap to notice that this principle applies to interactions that aren't particularly sexual, hugs and other social touch, say, and indeed relationships and emotional connections beyond just physical touch.

So in a consent culture frame, the only reason to enter into any kind of relationship, or to continue an existing relationship, is because everybody involved actively wants that relationship. That includes capital-R officially together romantic couple relationships, of course, but also everyone involved should consent to how close they want to be as friends or acquaintances or whether they even want to have any kind of contact and interaction at all. This seems a totally logical extension of principles I hold about autonomy, and I want to live in a world where relationships are freely chosen and not coerced. I think I need to adapt my own attitudes and behaviour to promote consent culture values, though. And I definitely want to think through the detail of how this works in practice.

contains angst, passing mentions of partner abuse and domestic violence, and references to personal sexual history )

Last time I tried to talk about something like this, I think some people got the impression I was advocating forcing people to stay in abusive relationships, for largely spurious reasons like "for the children" or "because God said so". I don't want that at all, I want to be in consent culture, I'm just trying to work out how to be confident and secure enough, let alone all the practical considerations, to make sure I don't find myself coercing people to be in relationships with me that they don't want.

The Plan

Feb. 5th, 2014 07:46 pm
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
One of the things I've been bursting to talk about, but got queued behind the January journal stuff, is that I'm in the process of some serious life rearranging.

ch-ch-changes )

In other transforming my life news, I've just ordered some new glasses. I only did this because my old glasses have broken, but bowing to the inevitable, I'm going to change my image a bit. Having to go back to my old glasses while my recent ones are broken, I've realized that round glasses suit me a lot better than any other shape. Unfortunately round glasses are not at all in fashion at the moment, so I had very little choice of anything like the sort of glasses I had in mind. The saleslady had no hesitation at all in guiding me to the section labelled "for him" because she thought that the kind of glasses I want were more likely to be marketed to men than women. So I've got a pair of slightly hipsterish, androgynous round glasses with thin but not ultra-thin black frames. And since glasses are two pairs for the price of one, I chose something much more striking than I've ever dared wear for my second pair, top-heavy ones with thickish, shaped brown tops and a thin rim round the base of the lens. (Neither style seems to be listed online, so I can't show you.) It's going to take me a while to get used to my new face, let alone anyone else!
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] ephemera wanted me to talk about childhood memories of food. If there's one thing I've learnt from this meme it's that I'm not cut out to be a food blogger, but I'll have a go.

fooooood )

[January Journal masterlist]
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] mathcathy offered a very thought-provoking prompt: Reflections on the beginning of a new year, both calendar and Jewish - compare and contrast.

ring in the new )

[January Journal masterlist]
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
[personal profile] mathcathy asked for my favourite 3 places in the UK

I love this country )

[January Journal masterlist]

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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