quadruplify: John Watson (from BBC's Sherlock) standing in Buckingham Palace ([Sherlock] John - standing)

I was supposed to write this back in April. WHOOPS.


Oh well, it's long overdue for an RL update from me anyway, so here we go. This'll focus more on personal things that have been going on, though I'll throw in some work stuff too because quite a bit happened in the past three and a half months.


••• There was quite a bit of drama at work this past spring, which sucked because it's such a small and usually drama-free place. :PPP It had to do with the employment pilot program I mentioned in my previous entry; a lot of the problems had to do with the man we hired to train/coach the autistic adults in the program, and act as the go-between between us and the data analytics company that contracted out to us. First of all, it seemed he was hired partly because he's the boyfriend of the president of our board of directors. >_>; And from what I've been told, while he's very good at the technical side of putting together programs such as ours, he's not so good at actually working with people. He was stressing out the autistic adults to no end -- taking away their phones, making them sit with their eyes glued to the screen and fingers on the keyboard at all times for hours on end, talking down to them, etc. Thankfully our executive director is not the kind of person who would let anyone get mistreated on her watch, so this issue was resolved relatively quickly. (It helped that one of the adults in the program was the bookkeeper's son, and she made her displeasure very much known.)


The thing was, most of us in the office weren't really being kept aware of what was going on with the pilot program. Which was understandable, since technically if we didn't have anything to do with it then it was none of our business. But what happened as a result was that rumors ended up flying around, which made the above situation (and a few others) sound worse than they actually were. One of the people who was sensitive to these rumors was our chief administrative officer, who was hired last year to a.) help run the office while our ED went into semi-retirement, and b.) research and write grants. The thing about her that's important to this story is that she was very passionate when it comes to disability rights issues. Like, the once-got-into-a-blowout-with-the-CEO-of-the-Hartford-chapter-of-Easter-Seals-because-they-still-run-sheltered-workshops kind of passionate. So naturally when those rumors reached her ears she was upset. Not to the point where she was talking about it constantly to anyone who would listen, but there were plenty of times where she told our IT guy, who got along really well with her and was the only other autistic person in the office besides myself, that he should "do something about it."


Now our IT guy was extremely smart -- he has a computer science degree, and could fix any computer problem in our office in a matter of minutes. Most companies would love to hire a guy with his skill set. He was also painfully sensitive and shy; you could be sitting next to him in a quiet room and still have trouble listening to him speak. He also had a friend in the employment program who told him stories about what was going on (said friend once got so stressed out he just took a nap on the floor right then and there, and he was let go early because the work was too tedious and complicated for him). So needless to say, with his friend in one ear and the CAO constantly in the other, IT Guy became very confused and stressed out.


In late May our CAO was laid off. She was let go because the board deemed her position no longer necessary, and they needed to be more cautious with how they spent their money. (Although from what I could gather, it was also partly because she was one of those people who wanted to "fix" how the office was run even though there was nothing that needed fixing, and because we didn't see a dime of new grant money during the time she was there.) IT Guy must have mistakenly assumed she was being laid off because she spoke up about the drama in the employment program....so he decided to quit. On the same day.


Naturally everyone in the office that day was trying to convince him to stay, but at one point while he was in the parking lot, packing his belongings in his car, he told one of them -- much more loudly than you'd expect of him -- "I'm afraid I'm going to do something to [the job coach]. I don't trust myself around him."


Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh. Given the choice between letting him go and having the police called to your office, it's a no-brainer.


Thankfully I wasn't there when this happened, and I'm just guessing as to the reason why he quit -- it's possible there were other factors involved, he's never given us a reason why, and I doubt he ever will. When the ED called me into her office the next day to tell me, she was on the verge of tears -- she worked with him for the better part of a decade, so to see him act like that was naturally hard for her to handle. And she had to wait two months for an apology on top of that. Even though it helps that it could've ended so much worse, and the fact that I didn't witness this myself, it was still upsetting.


(For the record, the pilot program ended last month; the bookkeeper's son quit the month before because he found a better job doing video/TV production work [which is what he wants to get into as a career], and because the job coach told him to lie to the data analysis firm about him being away on vacation. We sure picked a real winner right there, didn't we. XP In any case, we're supposed to run another pilot program sometime in the future, but before that we're supposed to be getting a report on how this one did, and I have absolutely no clue when that's going to come out.)


The good thing to come out of this mess is that I have more responsibilities now. In addition to what I've been doing before, I've taken over some of IT Guy's duties, like maintaining our website and Facebook page, editing the weekly e-mail newsletter, and a few other things. It's great because I've been picking up new skills and working more hours, which I've been wanting to do for a while now! Overall I'm feeling pretty confident about my abilities and good about how I fit into the office, and for the most part I look forward to going into work, so I should think that says something, no? XD


Also, the "Autism Job Club" I talked about in my last post is also definitely happening! I left it on the metaphorical back burner over the summer, but now I have a first meeting scheduled for the 19th and already I've had over 25 people sign up. Which doesn't help with my nerves at all, since I've never actually been in charge of anything before and I have absolutely no plan as to what I'm going to do beyond the first meeting right now and what if this doesn't work out or I royally screw up somehow? But I still think something like this is necessary and a creative idea, and I've been working on this for too long not to see this through. And I do have enough confidence that I'll do a good job facilitating the group anyway. Besides, as I've kept telling myself, when something scares you, that's all the more reason why you should do it, right? ^_^;


••• My work-at-home side gig has also been going well! Not only have I actually gotten paid so I know for a fact it's not a scam, but my picture and bio is on their website! Yep, I'm moving up in the world, no doubt about that. :D This summer was very quiet in terms of work; the woman in charge was struggling to acquire some documentaries that we would be responsible for distributing, but now that we've either picked up or are about to pick up a few I have some actual research assignments, the first one of which I finished up this weekend. So even though things have been moving slowly, it's been working out so far!


With the two jobs I have starting to pick up, this means that I've quit going to BRS. Not only did they have a hard time trying to figure out good jobs to place me in, but the counselor I had there essentially told me, "You'll be very lucky if the job we find for you pays more than $15 an hour." The main focus of an agency like BRS is to get people with disabilities out and working, full stop. They're not in the work of setting up long-term goals for a career; they just want to get their customers in a job, even if it's something they won't necessarily enjoy, and hope that it will be a sufficient "foot in the door" for other, better jobs in the future. This approach certainly works for many people, but it doesn't work for autistic adults, and it definitely doesn't work for someone like myself. The jobs we were thinking about having me do a working interview for weren't nearly as interesting or involved as what I'm doing right now, so I finally decided I was doing all right on my own, and that if I absolutely needed them in the future I'd call them. Oh well, one less thing to worry about.


••• Yet another shakeup at my therapist's office -- Last year I had to switch therapists and psychiatrists because the former had to leave due to budget constraints and the latter sucked. Now my current therapist is going to be leaving this month! Talk about not being able to catch a break. =_=; She had given birth to twins this past winter and was out on maternity leave until June, so even though she's been very good I haven't had a lot of time to really get comfortable working with her. And not only is she leaving because she wants to work closer to home to take care of her kids, but she also wasn't happy with the relatively new policy that all appointments have to be 25 minutes long -- even though they cost the same as full-hour appointments. (I never said the psychiatrist who runs the place wasn't an incompetent shitweasel.)


So once again I'm considering my options. The practice has hired two new social workers in the meantime, but I'm not sure if I want to start seeing another therapist, considering how I've gotten bounced around from person to person over the past four years. I'm not sure how much therapy I need at this point, anyway. I don't feel like I'm struggling with anything right now -- I'm working and taking on more responsibilities with my life, and I feel that's helped considerably. I've grown to accept that I'm an even-keeled person by nature, not prone to emotional extremes, and more often than not I was confusing that with depression. And I'm more comfortable in my own skin and more in touch with myself and those around me. There's a lot I still need to work on, obviously -- some executive functioning issues, moving out of the house, and making new friends -- but nothing I truly need a therapist for. I might even want to wean myself off the meds I've been taking; the less medical expenses I have to worry about, the better. All I know for sure is that when you go to therapy and think to yourself, "Wait, why am I here again?" then that's probably telling you something.


••• All throughout 2014, whenever I tried to get in touch with N. (the friend from college who's really into meteorology and climatology), he never got back to me. In January, I found out why:


He was in jail.


He got busted for heroin possession, which....yeah, I really should've seen that coming. I mean, I didn't really think it was going to happen, and I was hoping it wouldn't, but..... :/ Thankfully he got out with nothing worse than a broken foot and arm, and it was only a misdemeanor charge so he hasn't lost any of his substitute teaching gigs. And the last I heard he's doing outpatient rehab, so that's a good sign at least. It's still tough to hear about anyone you've been close to getting incarcerated, though.


To be honest, the whole thing has made me reevaluate my friendship with him. Not because I feel uncomfortable associating with someone who's been in prison -- far from it! It really sucks that there's a stigma on former inmates in our society, and I don't want to help perpetuate that. Rather, it's just that we rarely speak to each other anymore (he always tries to contact me on Facebook, which I hardly use outside of work), and when we do I never know what to say to him, and our conversations are really boring in general. We both have different lifestyles and mindsets, and I feel like we've been drifting apart for a while now and there's nothing either of us can do about it. So just because I'm desperate for human connection doesn't mean I should hold on to a friendship that's fading away. Right? O_o;


(Speaking of friendships, let me take the time to say I'm really really sorry for not connecting with you guys more often! Work and personal stuff have taken up so much of my brainspace in general that I practically forget about everything else. Even though most of you have moved on to Tumblr, I had to drastically cut back on using that site because it was affecting my mental health. Plus, if I can be perfectly honest I don't think I can relate to a lot of you like I used to; it seems we all have different interests and priorities these days, and trying to make relationships work when so much has happened in our lives and there wasn't much connection to begin with might not be worth it. Still, if any of you would like to start talking with each other more often, I'm available on AIM, Skype, and Facebook, so let me know what you'd like to do. ~_^


In the meantime, I want to try to focus on joining more groups on Meetup, or starting over on Tumblr. Right now K. is the only IRL friend I have outside of work and family, and trying to meet new people and [hopefully] make new friends would do me some good. Except every time I seriously think about it, I freak out and get really self-conscious, and so I never get around to doing it. Ugh. :PPP)


Since this entry is (as usual) long enough already, some bullet points on other things I should mention:


  • Since last December I've been writing these entries on a new MacBook Pro! I had my old MacBook for four and a half years, and while it was still technically working it was also really slow and, due to a stupid SMART error, wouldn't let me upgrade to the latest OS. This one is much faster and more robust, which is great because I really want to start getting into a routine of playing video games. Except that over the past nine months of having this thing.....I haven't played a single one. Even though I own far too many as it is. Like I said, brainspace. >_<;

  • I have, however, been playing Two Dots on the iPhone 6 I also got as a Christmas gift to myself. I finally beat all 410 levels this weekend! Of course, I'm not sure if I'm supposed to feel proud of this, or utterly pathetic for having wasted so much time on it. ;_;

  • This summer my sister graduated high school, and just finished her first week at college. She's going to Wheaton College in Massachusetts to study history and Italian; my mom and I helped move her in to her dorm last weekend. Naturally she was crying when we had to leave her (even though we didn't see anyone else do the same -- I'm guessing it was because she gets emotional when she's tired, and she's a really flighty person to begin with), but from what I can gather she's settled in very well! And she's only a two-hour drive away, so she's far enough away so that she's in another state, but close enough so that we can reach her quickly in case the unforeseen happens. In any case, it's going to take some time getting used to not having her in the house. Not that I mind, obviously, but still. :DDDDDDDDDDDD

  • My cousin graduated college this past May as well, so my mom, sister, and I went up to Boston to visit her and her mother the Sunday before -- we didn't want to go the day of because practically every other college in Boston does their graduation on the same day, and the city would've been mobbed. We got to meet my aunt's new boyfriend (who from what I can tell seems like a keeper, finally!), and we spent the say on Newbury Street, where I bought a few CDs from Newbury Comics.

  • My psoriasis is all but gone! For almost a year now I've been on methotrexate, which was doing a good job maintaining the status quo without the soriatane's side effects, and I haven't had to go for phototherapy in who knows how long now. Really the only spot of psoriasis I had left was this stubborn patch on the right side of my forehead, but thanks to some ointment the dermatologist gave me a couple of weeks ago, that might just about be gone too. ^_^;

  • Lastly, I have a couple of concerts I'll be going to later this month that I'm really excited about! I'll be seeing Low (again!) on the 25th in Hamden, and then on the 30th I'm going to see The Jesus and Mary Chain at this new venue that opened up in New Haven called the College Street Music Hall. Can't wait! \o/


And I'm sure there are a few other things I'm forgetting, but I doubt they're all that important anyway. XD



quadruplify: Julian Minci (from Legend of the Galactic Heroes) sticking his tongue out in disgust ([LoGH] Julian - yuck)
1. So I'm sure many of you know about that video about Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony produced by the NGO Invisible Children that went viral a couple of days ago (if you don't know what I'm talking about, look up "Kony 2012" on YouTube). The video has become quite a big deal, generating a lot of buzz and publicity in a remarkably short amount of time; I've seen many people on LJ, Twitter, and Facebook talk about it, so I felt it was necessary to do a post about it, much like the 2009 protests in Iran and last year's "Arab Spring." I would make a big linkdump about it, complete with pertinent quotes, but I've been feeling too lazy and tired to do one up this time, and besides, many people have already beaten me to it:

--[livejournal.com profile] eska_rina has put together a great assortment of links and relevant quotes
--[livejournal.com profile] ontd_political has its big compendium of links here; of particular interest is The Guardian's liveblog of the fallout
--The conveniently titled "Reader's digest to Kony 2012"

I know it may seem like a ton of links to deal with, each attached to rather long reads, but I highly, highly recommend you skim them at the very least. The issues, criticisms, and commentary Invisible Children's campaign has raised can't be neatly summed up in a quick soundbite, and it's very important to read up on the issues before you decide to donate money or engage in activism -- not just on this particular issue, but on everything else as well.

I personally find myself agreeing with the backlash against IC's campaign, and while I think #Kony2012 has good intentions, it has not been thought out very well. The campaign appears to ignore much of the context of the conflict in Uganda, such as how Kony and the LRA became prominent, the circumstances in which (and reasons why) it happened, and the legacy of European colonialism and imperialism that ultimately led such a situation to come about in the first place. The campaign also paints a picture of Uganda that is overly simplistic and reductive; it plays into the common media narrative of Africa being a place of nothing but war, starvation, and poverty, and that only Americans/the West/white people can "save" Africans from this predicament. Not only is this narrative rooted in the same kinds of ideas that led European powers to colonize Africa in the first place, but it's also extremely inaccurate, given that a variety of peoples and cultures exist on the continent, that there are already many organizations on the ground in areas affected by the LRA run by Africans themselves doing the work IC claims to be doing, and that many Africans -- some of whom have been directly affected by Kony's violence -- take issue with the campaign and suggest better ways of going about it. The fact that the campaign's promoters don't appear to be listening to the voices of Africans themselves, especially those of the people they're purporting to stand for, shows how paternalistic it really is, and how it's nothing more than "Kony is evil, he used child soldiers, he must be brought to justice." Obviously Kony is evil and needs to be brought to justice, but if you think about the "nuts and bolts" of how to do it, and the consequences it might bring, then you realize just how good intentions aren't enough.

Obviously these criticisms shouldn't be an excuse to dismiss #Kony2012 as an exercise in feel-good activism targeting American college students; human rights violations are an affront to all of humanity, and we shouldn't stand by and let them happen. But creating change isn't nearly as glamorous as the video makes it out to be, and context (and the nuances, complexities, and frustrations that come with it) matters. If something seems too black-and-white, it probably is. It pays to do your research and come up with your own conclusions, and this is no exception.

*********************************************************************************************

Onto other things:

2. This is the best modern-day retelling of a fairy tale you'll see this week, hands down:



3. I don't post fic recs that often on here, but I found a great LoGH fic worth checking out: Inheritance. Cross-dressing!young!Reuenthal fic that's not crack and is actually pretty well-written? YESPLZ. :D

4. A continuation of the seven-questions meme from the last post, this time from [livejournal.com profile] iron_valkyrie :

Read more... )


quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
So I'm sick again.  Wheeeee.  -_-

It's just another headcold, and it started Thursday night, but like most colds I get, this one has really bowled me over, and for the past few days I've been trying hard not to do anything, popping vitamins and cough drops like my life depended on it, being supremely pissed off about being sick, and trying to stay away from people as much as possible so I don't cough on them (not that that's hard to do for me anyway).

This is the worst week to get sick, though -- I have two papers due on Friday, and another due a week from tomorrow.  They're all around the 5-7 page range, so it's not too terrible, but trying to write papers I have no interest in writing while feeling like I'm about to keel over really isn't something I can deal with right now.  :PPP  What does help is that I've canceled my radio show tomorrow morning, one of my Wednesday classes have been canceled, and I don't really plan on going to any of the events this week that sound interesting, which gives me more time to rest and work.  What would really help is if we all got extensions on these papers, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.  :(

I also have two screenings for two of my classes going on at the same time tomorrow night -- which is also at the same time Andrea Gibson will be performing in town, who I really want to see.  At first I was really bummed about not being able to go, but I realized recently that by giving the "oh I have to go to the other screening I have that night!" excuse to both of my professors, I might just be able to get away with it.  One of them I have to see before Wednesday (a relatively short one on former DRC dictator Mobutu), and the other one, The Social Network, I can put off for a bit, so......yeah.  My one social event this week.  ^_^;  (And for those of you not familiar with Gibson's work, here are a couple of examples: "Stay" || "I Do")

There is some good news, though: one of my professors is going to be on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Wednesday!!  :D  She's my Politics of Virtual Realities prof, and she'll be on the show to promote her book One Nation Under Contract, about the outsourcing of jobs typically performed by the government and military to private contractors, and what implications that trend has.  People who've known me long enough may know that I'm not a TDS/Jon Stewart fan at all, but I'll definitely be watching.

And one of my other professors has published a very funny op-ed to the Washington Post today, another one is a well-known and distinguished translator, and the other one is a bit abrasive but otherwise very charismatic and really intelligent.  How I managed to get such awesome professors this time around, I don't know.  XD

Other than that, not much has been going on.  Had an interesting debate with some people at the QSH Thursday night on ways to make the college's queer organization more inclusive, and Climatology Nerd made a surprise visit this weekend!  It's awesome to see him again; right now he's applying for a really competitive teaching fellowship in New York City this summer, and I hope he gets it!

That's about it, I suppose.  Now I'll have to go back to being sick, trying to do work, and other fun stuff.  >_>  Though I'll leave y'all with this little bit of I Can't Believe Something Like This Exists™.  (And why did Harry Belafonte agree to take part?)  O_o;

So.......

Feb. 12th, 2011 12:22 am
quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
.........how 'bout dem Egyptians?

Guys, this is all really, really, REALLY exciting stuff, it's just.......OMG I don't have the words. Seriously. XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD I've been rather excited ever since I heard the news of Mubarak's resignation, and right now I'm just really proud of the protesters for toppling their oppressive government peacefully after 18 days! I was beginning to suspect Mubarak would hold on to power until September or beyond that, or that he would really dig in and start killing protesters on a wide scale, but thankfully that didn't happen. And now that the military is in control for now, I hope the protesters will hold them accountable so that a true democracy can be formed like they've been fighting for. Anyway, here's a quick linkdump since I haven't done one in a while, and since a lot of these sum up my feelings about today:

[livejournal.com profile] ontd_political has their latest liveblog/party post here; there are plenty of snarky and hilarious comments originally from Twitter posted by [livejournal.com profile] akuma_river which are really well-worth reading. (And in case you're curious, here's the liveblog before the latest one, with links to good sources and previous liveblogs.)

More links under the cut... )

********************************************************************************************

..........I just finished my first week of the last semester of classes. I'm going to hold judgment about the classes right now, but I will say a few things about them:

* I think I'm really going to enjoy my African Politics class; the professor is pretty funny and engaging (and from Madagascar), it doesn't look like there will be heavy amounts of work, and right now we're reading Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost, which is absolutely AMAZING -- yeah, it's about Belgium's colonization of the Congo and all the oppression and exploitation and evil that came from that, but it's a really good read that I've had a hard time putting down.

* Social Movements will probably be the toughest class for me this semester; the two big things we have to do for that are 1) involvement in an organizing project outside of college, and 2) a 5,000-word paper (that's about 16-17 double-spaced pages). The paper is already stressing me out -- I mean, it's doable, but it's still one of the longer ones I've had to do, and that's going to be a pain in the ass to write (though not as much as last year's 25-page monstrosity). Plus, the class only meets once a week on Wednesday nights, which is bad because I have three classes before that during the day, so by the time this class starts I'm already pretty drained. I really think it's going to be a great class, mind, and I have high hopes for it (not least of which because Bill McKibben is teaching it), but I'm beginning to have my doubts. One of the things we're going to be doing all semester is reading Taylor Branch's Parting the Waters, about the early days of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, which is turning out to be excellent so far.

* I'm going to have a ton of reading this semester. Between that and the essays I have to write (the 5,000-worder mentioned above, the 12-page term paper for my Japanese lit class, and various other essays), it's going to take up all the free time I'm going to have these next couple of months. And I'm not exaggerating all that much when I say that. D: Even when I find out what assignments I can afford to skim or skip, it's still going to be quite a bit. And I have to do work for VIP, search for jobs and internships, and take care of myself on top of it all, and I just......don't know how I'm going to do all that. Some people are lucky enough to have the ability to juggle all these things and more at once with relative ease, and I'm most definitely not. ;___; I don't know how often I'll be on AIM, guys, though I'll see what I can do.

And because a.) of all the stuff that went down in Egypt today, and b.) I have no classes on Fridays, I ended up doing absolutely none of the reading I planned to do today. Which wouldn't be so bad, except I have to read 100+ pages of Tocqueville for my Politics of Virtual Realities class by Monday, and that's going to be a pain to get through. Bleh. :PPP

Anyway, some other things that happened this week:

1) It's official: an A in my Korean culture class. \OO/

2) I helped table for VIP at the student activities fair on Thursday, which was a disappointment as only four people signed up. (Meanwhile the club next to us, Mchaka [a Swahili-chanting running group], got a shitload of new names on their list, despite not having anyone actually at the table. WTF. O_o;) But we're planning on doing quite a bit this semester, so hopefully that'll work out, unlike last semester when all our plans fell through. ._.

3)
Following the breakout success of last year’s Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Art of the Animated Series, Dark Horse is proud to collaborate with Nickelodeon on a comprehensive publishing program built around this beloved and exciting Emmy-winning animated series! The first installment of this new series will be released on Free Comic Book Day, May 7, with two introductory short stories — including the unpublished tale “Relics” and the iconic Dirty Is Only Skin Deep... This free comic will be packaged with Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars in a special flip-book comic, available only at your local comic book shop.

Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Lost Adventures will be released TK. This all-new 240-page comic book contains over 70 pages of never-before-seen material in addition to long-out-of-print comics previously published in Nickelodeon Magazine. With 26 stories set in Airbender continuity and created by a host of top-notch talent, many of whom worked on the original animated series, this is an essential addition to any fan’s bookshelf. [source]


SO. EXCITED. 8DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

The bad news is that I'm not sure how I'll be able to get the Free Comic Book Day comics, considering a.) I go to college in the middle of nowhere Vermont, b.) I don't have easy access to transportation out of town, and c.) it's during finals week. But I'll try to see what I can do, because I need these books bad, as a good way to tide me over until Legend of Korra drops. ^_^;

That's about it right now, so I'll leave you with this meme....

The Social Networking Friending Meme!!


......and this video:





quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
Before I begin this entry, I just wanted to say a few words about the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, AZ yesterday. This is an absolutely unspeakable tragedy, and I'm sure I'd be in agreement with many Americans when I say that this has really disturbed me in a lot of ways -- and yet, I can't say I'm all that surprised it happened, given that Sarah Palin's PAC created a graphic that put a gun's crosshairs on Giffords' district and used "don't retreat, reload" rhetoric when describing her and some of her colleagues. That, and other such speech and commentary from various people on the right, have contributed to a political climate in which it somehow becomes acceptable to attack and kill politicians, public servants, and public figures just because they don't share your opinions and beliefs. No matter how directly connected recent vitriol and violent rhetoric from the right-wing was to this act of terrorism, it all still helped contribute to a political climate where such an event can occur, and where the idea that a public official or figure is not actually a human being with a family and a set of friends and a life like us, but is merely a thing that represents an (entirely fictional) enemy and a number of a district that "needs" to be won, has become prevalent. And today, six people are dead because of this climate and these ideas, including staffer Gabe Zimmerman, federal judge John Roll, and Christina Taylor Greene, a nine-year-old girl who was on her school's student council.

Of course, the right-wing in this country is so steeped in ideological purity and self-righteousness that they won't apologize and own up for their words, and take responsibility for the fact that they had a hand in this because their words actually mean something. Which means I'm very afraid that the next time this happens, it won't merely be an attempted assassination.

Anyway, my thoughts go out to Congresswoman Giffords, her friends and family, and and the friends and families of all those who were killed or injured in Tucson today; I wish all the best for them. (And here are comments from Keith Olbermann and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, both of which are more eloquent than I ever could be [even though I'm not a fan of Olbermann's false equivalency and hypocrisy here].)

UPDATE: Giffords is apparently "doing well," given the circumstances.

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I'd also like to mention what's going on in Southern Sudan right now: the current vote on whether or not to secede from the rest of Sudan (New York Times article; Al-Jazeera article).  My thoughts are also going out to the people of Southern Sudan right now, in the hopes that no matter the outcome of the referendum, that the process is as peaceful and free of irregularities as possible.

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This has been a rather......interesting first week of 2011, and of J-term. Though I gotta say, I haven't been following my main New Year's quasi-goal/"resolution" so far -- I mean, I've been trying, but it's still a problem. Many people call this time of year "Yay-Term," but I haven't been feeling many "yays" about it so far. :(

My class is on Korean language, literature, and film, and despite the fact that I find a lot of what we're talking about so far to be very interesting, I'm having a hard time being all that enthusiastic about the class in general. For one thing, it's hard to do a good introduction to those subjects when the class is only four weeks long and it meets three times a week for 2-3 hours each time. Plus, it meets in the afternoon, which means that given my sleeping habits, I'll have a hard time getting up early enough to be sufficiently awake for class. :PPP It's also apparent that most of the people there are upperclassmen who are only taking this class because the classes they wanted to get into got filled up too quickly (sophomores and freshmen get first dibs on J-term classes), and even though the professor is extremely intelligent and knowledgeable (she grew up and spent a good portion of her life in South Korea [even though she's not Korean herself], and has done a lot of research on Korean literature), it's quite obvious she doesn't have much experience in the classroom, given she's often disorganized and not the most engaging lecturer. Lastly, we didn't do all that much this past week; there's only so much you can do with teaching the Korean alphabet and other random bits of information about the language and how it works in that amount of time, and considering we're not actually learning the language in this course, it was hard to take what we were doing all that seriously (especially since I already know the Korean alphabet, from when I took an informal Korean class run by students back in freshman and sophomore years). And now the work is going to pick up a little, which will take a while getting used to. Still, I'm sticking with it because it's a fascinating topic I know little about, and other than the things I just mentioned I've been enjoying it so far. (I kinda want to write about some of the things we've learned in class thus far -- and what I've learned through research done on my own as a result of that [mostly through Wikipedia, lol XD] -- but I don't really have the time or energy right now. Let's just say that now I really want to learn Korean -- in addition to all the other languages I want to learn -- and more about its history and culture as well. Great. ^_^;)

Speaking of languages, I had my first Persian workshop last week as well. It was originally supposed to be on Monday, but our teacher, a freshman who I'm 99% sure is from Iran, apparently didn't know that anyone had actually signed up for the class because the people in charge of J-term workshops never got around to notifying her that fact, which led to all of us sitting around for a half-hour on Monday evening twiddling our thumbs. Yay. :PPP So she rescheduled the first meeting for Thursday evening, and that went pretty well. There's only so much we can learn in weekly one-hour classes (unless we decide to go twice a week or something), but there's only six of us in the workshop (including a political science professor!), so that helps. The only problem I have with it so far is that we're not learning the Persian alphabet; our teacher told us that it would take too much time to learn because it's quite complicated, which is fair enough -- except that she's also given us textbooks to use so that we can reinforce what we've learned in class and teach ourselves Persian on our own time, which would be great if those textbooks actually had some romanizations instead of making you read Persian script from the get-go. So yeah, learning the Persian alphabet is kind of a necessity if any of us wants to stick with it, in addition to making sure you're pronouncing the words correctly. There is an audio CD that goes with the textbook that the teacher didn't get for us because of a lack of funds, but it costs $50; fortunately, one of the other students has the CD, so I'm hoping he'll rip it for us so that we don't have to spend the money. XD In any case, I've really been liking the workshop so far, and I can't wait for class tomorrow!

The other big thing that happened this week was the Night Kite Revival poetry slam on Thursday evening. I first heard about it just last Monday; I wasn't at all familiar with the poets in the group, though I was thinking of going anyway because a.) I'm really starting to love slam poetry, and b.) some student poets, including a couple I know personally, were going to be performing as well, and I wasn't going to pass up a chance to see them. Then I noticed that they were bringing in Taylor Mali as a special guest. And I was like, "HOLY SHIT OMG YES I'M SO GOING NOW :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDD" For those of you who don't know, he's the one who wrote "What Teachers Make" and a whole host of other awesome poems; I was familiar with his work for some time, so I definitely didn't want to miss this. And lemme tell ya, I had an excellent time! Mali and the student poets were absolutely brilliant; even though Mali didn't perform "What Teachers Make" (probably because it's so ubiquitous by now, and because it comes from a poetry collection from 2002 that he really doesn't like anymore), he and the students were magnetic, charismatic, impressive, thought-provoking, and all-around awesome. I admit I wasn't as taken by the Night Kite poets -- Buddy Wakefield, Anis Mojgani, and Derrick Brown -- but they were still absolutely hilarious; they had a wonderful dynamic on stage, and it was great when they made it so that you couldn't always tell when their poems began and ended. I'm pretty sure I laughed more times that one night than I have in quite a while, so that's gotta count for something. Here, here's some photos of the event -- human pyramids, shirtless poets, bagpipes, and off-the-wall-ness galore. Probably one of the best events I've gone to here in my four years of college, if not the best event. 8D

If you're interested, here are some videos of some of the poets performing:

Taylor Mali, "Miracle Workers"
Taylor Mali, "Like Lily Like Wilson"
Taylor Mali, "The The Impotence of Proofreading"
Taylor Mali, "Depression Too Is a Type of Fire"
Buddy Wakefield, "Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars"
Anis Mojgani, "Come Closer"
Anis Mojgani, "Shake the Dust"
Derrick Brown, "Cotton In the Air"
Derrick Brown, "Meat Loaf"

Other than all that, the radio show, gaming club, and anime club went rather well, and I spent most of the rest of the week being lazy and not knowing what to do with myself, completely unmotivated to do any work or anything else I've been wanting to do this J-term. :/ Hopefully, next week will be better for that. In the meantime, I shall go to dinner and then try to do all the work I've been putting off this weekend -- if only I can gather the energy and clarity of mind to do so. :3

In My Past Life I Was...




quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
1. [livejournal.com profile] demoneyeskyo87 and [livejournal.com profile] misskalloway, I got your Christmas cards in the mail recently. Thanks so much! :D

1a. And [livejournal.com profile] misskalloway, thank you so so so much for the huge box of CDs you sent me this weekend! It was unexpected, I admit, but I really appreciate it! Now I just need to get a chance to listen to some of them -- I already have quite the backlog of music I've been meaning to listen to, just like my books. ^_^;

1b. Speaking of Christmas cards, I finally got around to sending mine out yesterday and today. I was writing them up at 3 in the morning, so apologies in advance if they're not 100% coherent or if you have trouble reading my handwriting. (And I think two of the envelopes are upside-down. Sorry about that. XD) There's a chance most of them will arrive late, but I hope you enjoy them all the same!

2. Not much else has been going on lately -- I worked at my mom's office yesterday, and I might go again later this week (probably Thursday) or sometime next week to finish the job that needs to get done. Filing is extremely boring work, and I think I threw my back doing it too (I'm fine now), but I need the money. :P And I missed the lunar eclipse last night too -- it was too cloudy outside, and even if I could see it, it wasn't visible inside the house, which meant having to go outside in the bitter cold and wind. No thanks. -_- Though I at least got to speak with K. again this past weekend; that was good, at least. :D

3. Despite everything, I'm definitely happy that Don't Ask Don't Tell will be ending very soon. A lot of people in the queer community have found it very problematic, however, for reasons expressed here and here -- namely, that this new legislation does nothing to deal with the problems of American imperialism, the military-industrial complex, and the rights of transgender people, all of which serve to oppress and risk the lives of LGB and other marginalized people, moreso those living outside the U.S. While I'm sympathetic to those arguments, and I agree with them to a certain extent, I'm still celebrating the repeal of DADT anyway. It's still a big step toward stopping discrimination against LGB people, as well as improving how they are seen and treated in the U.S., and even if you're "against equality" and assimilation it still moves toward the ultimate goal of having queer people be seen as, well, people, and it's important not to lose sight of that. And it also gets us a little bit closer to having imperialism, the military-industrial complex, and trans rights being thought about more critically for once -- while that's still a long way away, it's still a step. And I know small steps are frustrating after a while -- why can't we have big change instead? -- but if you actually stopped to consider the political environment we're in right now, it's either small steps or no steps.

(Plus, a lot of criticism of DADT repeal from the left, I feel, tends to come from a strong anti-military standpoint, and that I can't accept. The size, scope, influence, power, and violence of this particular military needs to be criticized and changed, but the existence of militaries in general is and will always be an unfortunate necessity, even if it always is good to work toward reducing war as much as possible.)

4. And now for something completely different: I got my grades today! A- in GIS, B+ in the ES senior seminar, and B in geology. They weren't as good as I was hoping for (except for GIS, considering that was my toughest class), but I'm still happy with how they turned out all things considered, and I'm never truly unhappy as long as my grades stay above a B-. ^_^; Right now I'm pulling a 3.58 GPA, and my goal is graduate with at least a 3.6, which I think I can do. XD

5. Finally got around to reading Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez; it takes place in a world where gods and goddesses from all religious traditions and mythologies actually exist, interact with human beings on a regular basis, and still have followers (though following a god nowadays tends to come in the form of business contracts made through websites very similar to dating/matchmaking sites), and a Court of Divine Affairs exists to prevent divine shenanigans and deities smiting people left and right. The story itself is about a young couple who starts to follow Luka, a raccoon god of luck and good fortune they nickname "Lucky" who asks to move in with them as his only asking price. It's an interesting premise, and the story itself is very enjoyable and fun, but I found Martinez's writing style hard to swallow. He has a very annoying tendency to tell and not show; I don't see any reason why he'd deliberately do this except a.) to write like some sort of comic Hemingway and rely on understatement for his comedy (which occasionally works, but falls flat most of the time because the build-up you need to make it work just isn't there), or b.) to appeal to younger readers (except his simple writing style may actually be an insult to the intelligence of most younger readers). It almost seems as if he's relying on the absurdity of the situations in the story to carry the humor, when at least half of writing good comedy in novels is the language you use to describe those situations. Plus, he misses out on a lot of good worldbuilding; I absolutely love the premise of the story, and as such I was fascinated and wanted to learn more about the universe it inhabits, but Martinez instead focuses on the ~WACKY HIJINKS!!!~ of the characters. There's nothing wrong with doing only enough worldbuilding to service the plot, but I still don't feel as if the world Divine Misfortune inhabits is all that fully realized, and there's very little opportunity for the reader to engage in it. The premise and world of the story just shine through the dullness of the writing, but only just. In the hands of a Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett this can be a brilliant, witty, engrossing, and even poignant story; as it is, it's an enjoyable, pleasantly inoffensive, easily forgettable comedy of errors that has little reread value.

6. I've been obsessed with this song lately, it's so good! <3 The Delgados!

7. So I've decided to let my LiveJournal paid account expire -- bye-bye extra icon space and ability to edit comments, considering those were the only two features I was actually using (and the Statistics feature, though I got into such a habit of obsessively checking it that it's probably for the best). I decided to do this because over the past year I've become very unhappy and disenchanted with how LJ runs things -- I'm well aware every company with a bottom line to uphold screws up more than occasionally, but LJ's screw-ups have been so frequent and so directly affecting its users that I've become very uncomfortable with supporting them financially with anything more than ad revenue. I don't like that some of my icons have been deactivated, but I'll figure something out with that.

Since I have this Dreamwidth account laying around, and since it's easy to crosspost from DW to LJ, I've decided I might as well start using it. I know DW isn't nearly as active as LJ is, but I realized that if I wanted to see it be more active and make the most out of it, I had to take it upon myself to do what I can to be a more active user. Plus, DW has a lot of cool features that LJ doesn't have, and the features DW doesn't have but LJ does tend to be rather useless ones I can do without. And even though a 1-year paid account on DW costs more ($35 as opposed to $20), it gives you 100 icons spaces instead of 35, and considering I'm becoming quite the icon fan (and a fan of supporting new services with great potential) I think that'll be more than adequate for my needs. ^_^;

So I'm going to start posting from DW from now on, and I'm considering getting a paid account here instead of LJ. I don't plan on turning into one of those annoying "DREAMWIDTH BEAUTIFUL!! LIVEJOURNAL EVIL!!!" folks anytime soon (believe me, stay away from [community profile] lj_refugees if you know what's good for you), and rest assured I'll still be using LJ as much as I did before. This just means I'll be crossposting most of my entries on DW onto LJ, and you guys have a choice of where to comment on my entries if you so wish. 8D We'll see how this works out.

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