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: Amon (from the Legend of Korra) speaking at an Equalist protest, fist raised in the air ([LoK] Amon - revolution)
So because it's been so long since my last entry, and since so much has happened between then and now, I'm splitting this update into three posts. This first one is going to be about work-related stuff.

••• The autism nonprofit where I work has been putting together an employment pilot program over the past few months now. What this program will do is train autistic adults with little to no work history in mid-level jobs, with the ultimate goal of getting them competitive employment in a workplace where disabled and non-disabled people work together. In that way it's sort of based off of places like Roses For Autism, the Walgreens distribution centers, and Specialisterne, which give autistic adults more fulfilling jobs where they can actually use their skills, instead of the kinds of menial entry-level jobs they get "stuck" in by adult day centers and state vocational rehab agencies (like BRS, who I've talked about before). Right now the pilot project has hired a data analytics firm that specializes in patent research to train three people to be research assistants; I really don't know much else as to what's been going on, but from what little I've heard it's doing fairly well, despite the mistakes and mismanagement you'd expect when a big thing like this is just starting out.

I was supposed to be a part of this program; I even had an interview last December with the president of our board of directors, who's also the lead principal of the headhunter agency that's coordinating this program with us (and whose office is just upstairs from ours). And I've heard absolutely nothing since then. XPPP Which makes me a little peeved, because even though patent research doesn't sound like a field I want to get into, I could really use something where I can gain job skills and experience, and make more money than I have been right now. I did get a chance to talk to her last week, though, and she said that not only does the training take longer than she thought (six months instead of three), but they can only train two people at any given time, and it might be a few more months before they find a place for me in the project. Obviously I don't like not knowing when I'll be starting, but in reality it doesn't bother me at all because, as you'll soon see, I've been busy with lots of other things. ^_^;

In the meantime, the project needs grant money in order for it to actually work, and I was told to research facts and statistics about adults with autism and employment so they'd be that much more likely to receive an award. And, well.....I should probably just leave the results of that research here, because I think it just says it all. I kinda figured the job situation for autistic adults was bad -- it is for people of all kinds of disabilities, after all -- but I didn't realize it was this bad. Like, there are some estimates out there saying the unemployment rate for autistic adults is 90%? WTF?! Many of them are perfectly capable of holding down good jobs, and in some cases their autism gives them skills and advantages over neurotypical people; all they need, in essence, is some support and accommodations, but employers too often treat them as if they don't even exist. >_< I could go on, especially about how full inclusion is good for both the employee and the employer, but I think the outline I linked above should help explain that. What really gets me, though, is how little this is being talked about right now -- sure, there are a few articles about it here and there, and NBC Dateline did do a report on autistic adults the weekend before last [autoplay], but with 50,000 autistic kids turning 18 in the U.S. each year (and with this number likely to increase as ASD diagnoses do), this is going to become a serious social policy problem before long. But not as many people care because it's not as charismatic or controversial as, say, rape on college campuses or police brutality against black people. >_>;

(Unfortunately, I've gathered that we haven't gotten much grant money thus far, and it seems that the bill in the state legislature that would help fund our program is stuck in limbo. I just really hope our luck changes soon enough. =_=;)

••• While I was doing research for the pilot program, I came across something in San Francisco called the "Autism Job Club." It's a group of autistic adults who are unemployed or underemployed, who meet once a month to go over things like networking, interview skills, how to dress appropriately, how to get along with coworkers, etc., as well as share job leads and moral support. From what I can tell, sometimes they also bring in guest speakers, employers, and headhunters who are looking to hire adults with autism, or who need a little convincing that it would be a good idea. I found this to be really intriguing, especially since I couldn't think of anything quite like it near where I live. I mean, I go to a support group for young men on the autism spectrum once a month, but it's very informal and deals with a wide range of topics, not just jobs; and between adult day services, vocational rehab, and projects like the ones I mentioned earlier, there are many programs out there to help get people employed. But something that functions as both a support and a networking group, where people are there specifically to talk about employment, which they can't attain despite it being probably the most important way to help them? Something that could be really helpful to lots of people? Nope, nothing.

So I thought to myself, well, what if I helped start one?

Fast forward to last Friday afternoon, and I'm at the Yale Child Study Center meeting with both this woman, who just started a program for young women with autism that would train and then place them in various jobs, and the director of student services at the UConn Law School, who is also a co-director for a consulting firm that helps autistic students be successful in college. They were really interested to hear my idea, and we bounced ideas off each other to see how well a "job club" like this would work. Long story short, I'm going to spearhead this project, the two people I met last week will be providing me with names and e-mail address so I can put together a mailing list, and the first meeting will likely be within the next couple of months, at the absolute latest.

Guys. You guys. I have never done anything like this before. I wouldn't have minded if I helped start something like this, but I didn't think I'd end up being, you know.....in charge or anything. O_o; Still, I'm very excited about all this! This has the potential to turn into something really big, with multiple groups throughout the state or even a foray into activism. But of course, things like this have to start small and slow in the beginning, and it all depends on the needs of the people who actually show up. Oh man, I just really hope this turns out well; after all, this has the potential of helping lots of people (including myself! XD) who otherwise wouldn't get it. Wish me luck! :D

(BTW, the guy who wrote the article I linked to above co-wrote a book called The Autism Job Club: The Neurodiverse Workforce in the New Normal of Employment, which came out just last month. I read it last week and I highly recommend it! It's a great introduction into the issues autistic adults face when it comes to employment, and even if you're not autistic yourself, it still has a lot of intriguing [if depressing] information about the changing nature of employment in the U.S. in general -- namely, how a single, full-time job is becoming a thing of the past, and how most young people today will have to work multiple, short-term jobs throughout their "career.")

••• As far as the BRS stuff goes, I finally managed to do a work evaluation! That's the good news. The bad news is that it didn't go as well as I hoped.

I worked at the Meigs Point Nature Center in Madison, on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for the last three weeks in February, for a total of 40 hours. The job coach and I spent the first week learning about the animals that live there and how to take care of them -- feeding them, cleaning their cages, etc. It was actually quite interesting working with them, and by the end I was way more comfortable handling the snakes, but after it was all said and done I realized it wasn't something I wanted to spend my life doing. (I kinda already knew that beforehand, but it was nice to know with absolute certainty. ^_^;) Most of the rest of the time was spent on my main project, which involved the educational programs they put together for school groups, kids' birthday parties, etc. There have a variety of "scripts" the people who work there use when they give their presentations, with talking points about the animals (or the habitats they live in) and how to demonstrate certain things to the kids; my job was to turn these scripts into outline form so it'd be easier for volunteers to learn, and to flesh them out with information we'd gather from the Internet.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it was, but it wasn't without problems. Editing the "scripts" was one of those projects they'd been meaning to do for a long time now, but because there are only two paid employees there and they had their hands full actually running the place, it kept getting put off. Not that it was a big priority in the first place, if you think about it. And the director, who was otherwise very nice and helpful to us, wasn't clear at all about what it was exactly he wanted us to do or how to do it, which made me suspect he didn't know and couldn't be bothered to figure it out. After all, he had places to go and TV appearances to make, and he was so laid-back and scatterbrained that it wasn't unusual for him to go a week or more without returning my job coach's phone calls. Not to mention the Internet connection at the place sucked, and the only other computer in the building we were allowed to use had no Internet access at all, so I had to go to my job coach's house nearby for a day to work. Eventually we figured something out, but I was still immensely frustrated with the experience. It felt like I was just doing busy work rather than anything meaningful. Between that and the not-fun of working with the animals, it really soured me on having any sort of job at a nature center in general.

And that wasn't even the worst part of it all.

The Sunday after my first week there ended (the 15th), there was a big snowstorm that forced the center to close, and since they're normally closed on Mondays they were closed the next day too. That Sunday, a window in the main room blew out, causing the snow, wind, and cold to get inside and move tables, knock things over, etc. A pipe on the main floor also burst, which meant there was a little bit of flooding too. It wasn't until the director came in that Tuesday morning that anyone knew how bad things got.

24 animals died. 30 if you include the fish.

So not only did the director and his assistant have to deal with the fallout -- you could tell they were deeply affected by it because they had come to develop an affinity for those animals, and I can only imagine the responsibility they felt toward them -- but they also had to clean up as quickly as they could and pretend nothing ever happened. Most of the animals that died were rescues and rehabs with backstories, such as their unofficial mascot, a 46-year-old box turtle named Merlin who was hit by a car two decades ago. It certainly explains some of the director's scatterbrained-ness, at least, so I don't want to be too hard on the guy.

But the more I think of it, the more I think he acted somewhat irresponsibly by not doing enough to prevent it from happening. If you run a place where animals who can't fend for themselves live, and you need to close it down due to a snowstorm, the very least you could do is have someone check in on them regularly to see if they're okay, or prevent more animals from getting hurt or killed in case of an accident. Hell, at the animal shelter near me, sometimes people will volunteer to be snowed in so that they can keep the pets safe. Or have the windows wired to an alarm in case they break, not just the doors, even if you have a tight budget. If part of the purpose of a nature center is to protect wild animals, you should, you know, protect them. >:[

Oh well. I did get to see wild harbor seals for the first time, though, and I got paid minimum wage for my time, so it wasn't a complete wash.

••• I still look for other jobs now and again, and I've managed to get a side gig! Last November I applied for a work-from-home research assistant position at a place in New York called Outcast Films, which distributes documentaries to the educational market, with an emphasis on connecting audiences directly with filmmakers. When I didn't hear back from them at first, I thought the job had already been filled or they didn't think I was qualified enough, because that's usually what happens when you don't get a reply to your application. But a month later, out of the blue the executive director e-mailed me, saying she got my application and was reviewing it. After another month without hearing back from her, I e-mailed a follow-up -- I really did want this job because it seemed right up my alley, I could use the extra money, and it wasn't as if anyone told me no, right? XD I waited yet another month before the ED replied back.

Two phone interviews and a Skype call later, and she wants to hire me! All I'm waiting on is the contract I'll need to sign to make it official, although my parents want me to see an attorney to look it over before I do. The ED has been very busy; the company started off as a distributor of LGBT films until the Internet made it easier for filmmakers to distribute their work directly to their audiences, so lately they've been doing some restructuring to stay in business. Plus, they're working on acquiring two more films, and the ED wants to acquire six films within the next six months. Once they get some new documentaries, my job will be to look for teachers, professors, libraries, etc. that might be interested in screening them. I'd also be writing one-page outlines called SWOTs, which stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities (Where would be the best places to screen this move? Who should we market this to?), and Trends/Threats (How "hot" is this topic? What competition does this film have?); I've already done one, which the ED was actually quite impressed with. :D

Once I start getting some work, I'd be working about five hours a week on an independent contractor basis, making $15/hour, and if I enjoy the job and the ED sees what I'm capable of, it might go up to 20 hours per week. She's really looking for someone who'll "grow with the company" because it's extremely small right now; I don't know how well I'd fit that expectation since I'm looking to get more work at my current job, but there's not much I can do about that right now except wait and see. I really hope it goes well. ^_^;

••• I've had a couple of other interviews as well; some of them were for this place in New Haven called Next Step Living, which conducts assessments of people's homes to see how they can become more eco-friendly and cheaper to maintain, and then sells solar panels, windows, HVAC systems, and anything else that would help with that. I really liked their business model, and I got excited because they were the first to reply to my application. But then I realized I had applied to, well.....sales jobs. As in working on commission, long work weeks, weird hours, traveling long distances, and risking getting doors slammed in my face after showing up on people's doorsteps unannounced. Nope, I am not cut out to sell my soul for that line of work. I still had two phone interviews and one in-person interview because, hey, I could use the practice, but I was okay when they told me I was passed up for the job.

I also had a Skype interview for an internship at a place in Massachusetts called the Dare Institute, which does a lot of psychological research, especially involving autism. And that went somewhat.....bizarre, actually.

My interview was with the founder and co-director -- if by "interview" you mean him rambling off-topic, dropping names and concepts I had never heard of left and right, and me hardly getting a word in edgewise. My job would've been to help market what they called a "developmental task sequence" to autism schools and centers around the country, and then collect the data from those who use it to see how well it works, and if it can be used to detect autism in infants and toddlers. It sounded vaguely interest, and I admit the prospect of having my name attached to a published academic paper was tempting, but the guy had a lot of opinions that were stuck in the 1960s:

  • He's spent so much of his long career working with autistic kids with severe symptoms and serious behavior issues, that I can't help but think it's colored his idea of what autism actually is. I don't doubt that consciously he knows autism is a spectrum disorder (meaning it manifests differently in everyone who has it), but anytime he mentioned autism, in the same breath he would talk about headbanging, violent behavior, criminal activity, etc. It's almost as if he felt a person severely impacted with autism automatically meant they were extremely unstable time bombs with very low IQs. Some fit that profile, but many don't.

  • He thinks the term "developmentally disabled" is too "politically correct" and thinks "retarded," "slow," or "developmentally challenged" are more accurate descriptions. According to him, people with DD don't develop any differently than "normal" people, just slower than average, and it's ~~~very important~~~ to make sure they catch up. Because it's not like it's discriminatory to assume there's more than one "right" way for a person to develop or anything.

  • Worst of all, he has a lot of connections with people who work at the Judge Rotenberg Center, and has done a lot of work in conjunction with them. For those of you who don't know, the JRC is a school in Massachusetts that treats students with emotional issues and DDs like autism; they're one of the few schools in the U.S. that use aversives to condition students to stop behaving in certain ways, and the only one that uses electric shocks on a person's skin as a form of punishment. Yes, "treatments" like this are still being practiced in 2015, and many disability advocates have tried for years to shut it down. Dr. Commons, however, thinks that skin shocks are more humane and ethical than medication, because medication can have severe side effects. Never mind, of course, that using skin shocks will likely give the student PTSD, and in order to treat that they'll probably have to take medication anyway. Then again, he's a very strict behaviorist a la B.F. Skinner, and applied behavior analysis as a treatment for autism is fraught with many, many problems.


After all this, I wouldn't have taken the internship anyway, but the fact that a.) it was unpaid, and b.) it would require me to actually be in Cambridge while doing it, made my decision a hell of a lot easier.

••• Last but not least, since autism has come up so much in this entry, and because April is Autism Awareness Month (or Autism Acceptance Month, depending on who you talk to), I figured I might end this by sharing three articles about autism that I hope you'll find interesting:

President Obama’s World Autism Awareness Day Proclamation Is Right On
Autism Awareness Month – Autism is More than Autism Speaks and Temple Grandin
PayPal founder thinks people with Asperger’s have an advantage

And congratulations to all of you who made it this far. I told you I had a lot going on! XD
quadruplify: John Watson (from BBC's Sherlock) standing in Buckingham Palace ([Sherlock] John - standing)
Update!! :D

••• Every year on the last weekend in March my workplace holds a regional conference on autism, and this year I got to go. The center's executive director encouraged me to go because I didn't go last year and she thought some of the talks and workshops would be relevant to me. My dad went with me that Friday and my mom the following day, and while both of them had to pay to get in, I didn't since I work at ASRC.

Under a cut because this gets long... )

••• I had to go for jury duty last month, and...I actually had to serve on a jury. Read more... )

••• I might have to get my teeth straightened again in the near future, and I really don't want to. Read more... )

••• On the BRS front (which I talked about in my last entry): I met with my vocational counselor a couple of times since then; the past two times it was with a contact/job coach from a job agency I selected that works with BRS in helping find places for ASD people to get work evaluations and more permanent jobs. Read more... )

••• A couple of weekends ago I met up with K. again, and we both had a great time! Since the both of us like sushi, I had us go to Don Asian Cuisine, a place in town that opened up not that long ago; I heard of them because they replaced a Chinese restaurant my parents used to get takeout from, and I read good reviews about them on Yelp. The sushi was extremely good; I had the California, salmon cucumber, and shrimp tempura rolls, and they were all as delicious as I hoped they would! XD Then we went to Redscroll Records in Wallingford, because K. had never been there and she'd never set foot in a record store in three years. We both bought a few things (I finally scored a CD copy of My Bloody Valentine's mbv), and then we hung out in the parking lot for a while. We were talking about all kinds of stuff for a looooooooooong time -- I met her around 2:30 PM, and we parted ways around 8. Yeah. O_o; We promised to be in touch with each other more often, so time will tell if that works out, but obviously I hope it does. ^_^;

••• Good news on the fandom front: Durarara!! is finally getting it's second season! XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD \o/

Bad news: Community got cancelled. =_=; That really sucks, especially since the last season was actually very good. I kinda figured it was going to happen eventually, just not now. But while it would be cool to have that sixth season and a movie, I'll leave that for the more hardcore fans to fight. It bummed me out, but now I think I've been able to let go. :P

*****

Other than that, everything else has been going relatively well, even though I've really haven't been myself this past weekend (both the UCSB shooting and my grandmother getting worringly sick was a little too much for me). The job is still going very well, my psoriasis hasn't come back (I'm only going to phototherapy only once a week now, and I'm down to 10mg of soriatane a day! :D), my sleep schedule has improved (this weekend notwithstanding), the weather has gotten a helluva lot better....yeah, not bad, not bad. How's everyone else been doing?
quadruplify: Matt Berninger (lead singer of The National) with forehead on microphone, eyes closed ([Music] The National - microphone)
••• First of all, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the well wishes you sent my way since my last entry, both here and on Facebook. It was a tough time for all of us, so all your comments really helped, and I appreciate that.

Here's what's happened since then... )

••• The last month and a half has been rough on me, and not just because of the stuff I just mentioned. I've gotten into a habit of going to bed and getting up later than I feel comfortable doing, sometimes to the point I'm having "breakfast" at 3 in the afternoon. I know there are tons of people out there with worse sleeping schedules, but it's really thrown me off, to the point where I'm sorely tempted just to stay in bed all day for days on end. (I haven't actually done that, thankfully.)

In which wangst and self-loathing make a triumphant comeback! =_= )

••• And then there's the psoriasis as well, which hasn't been getting worse, but hasn't been getting better either. Last weekend I started taking soriatane, which should help the light treatments be more effective. It won't kick in for a couple of months, and I have to go for regular blood tests because oral medications for psoriasis are pretty strong and could do some damage if you're not careful, but here's hoping it works. :P

All right, enough depressing stuff. Here's some of the better news:

••• The Low concert was absolutely excellent! :D Unfortunately, K. had to cancel on me because she had to get really fucking sick that afternoon arrrrrrrggggghhh. >_<; Stupidly, I thought we could salvage this by having her come later, because I really really wanted her to show up (it's just no fun going to a concert all on your lonesome, no?), but right when I got there she texted me saying she had thrown up for the umpteenth time, so I told her it would be a good idea to stay at home and focus on getting better. So yeah, the concert would've been better if I wasn't alone, but I had a good time all the same. ^_^;

(Afterward K. told me she wanted to make it up to me by taking me to another concert; I suggested Explosions in the Sky playing at Toad's Place on August 9. I was hoping we'd get to talk about whether or not it'd be a good idea...but she went and already bought the tickets. So I guess that's a "yes," then! :D)

The opening act was Mike Doughty, who used to be the lead singer for a band called Soul Coughing back in the 90s. I've heard of him before, but I never really got into his music, and after seeing him perform I don't plan on it anytime soon. It's not like I didn't like his music, far from it actually -- he was pretty funny and had great stage presence (considering it was just him with a guitar and someone else with a drum kit), and his songs were well-written and catchy. It's just that it was pretty standard indie guitar rock, and nothing really stood out at me. I did like his performance of "Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well," though, which was the song I listened to when I first heard of him.

I expected a phenomenal performance from Low because they're one of my all-time favorite bands, and they didn't disappoint. They played with the lights down very low, and against a backdrop of vintage film footage of airplanes, nature, cityscapes, acrobats, and the like, which somehow suited the music well no matter what kind it was. And Alan Sparhawk's guitar playing was really good, especially in how he incorporated feedback and reverb to make something beautiful. Just...wow. I'm pretty bad at explaining why it was so good without sounding awkward or like a weirdo, so I've linked some YouTube videos of the concert below to give you an idea. (And someone uploaded audio from two other concerts from the same mini-tour here, in case you really want to get an idea. ~_^)

After the concert I bought yet another tour poster (:3) and CD copies of The Great Destroyer and their latest album The Invisible Way (which was an album I enjoyed the first few times I listened to it but couldn't get too enthusiastic about, but after hearing a lot of the songs live I realized that they were actually very good, so I had to buy the album for myself). So yeah, as far as eventful nights go, I've had plenty worse. XD

Anyway, here's the setlist:

Read more... )

••• Apparently Tumblr has started censoring posts from certain blogs from showing up in tag searches as a way to crack down on porn? From what I've read (and here's an article with more information), the site has been flagging various blogs as either "NSFW" or "adult"; if your blog is flagged as "NSFW," your posts won't show up in tracked tags (other than the people already following you), and if it's flagged as "adult" they won't show up not only in any tag searches, but on outside search engines like Google as well. And as far as I know, this flagging is done without the blog owner's consent, and there's no way to undo it once it's done. The justification for this is to make the site more friendly to advertisers (after all, Yahoo bought out Tumblr precisely because they were having trouble making enough money to stay afloat), but the end result is that if you really want to look up porn on Tumblr (or just discover new content in general, if the blogs being flagged don't exclusively post porn), you have to be linked to it directly.

Now, I'm hardly the most pro-porn guy on the planet (I'm not a fan of how it the porn industry exploits women, or how it makes men less empathetic and more prone to Internet addiction and unrealistic expectations about sex), but I indulge in NSFW stuff just as much as anyone my age would, and I realize this would have a huge effect on fandom, not to mention other kinds of content that has nothing to do with porn. And, well, I'm really not a fan of it. :/ I'm curious what everyone else here thinks about it, though.

••• Two more months:


Guys, this looks fucking awesome, and I absolutely cannot wait for it. 8DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD



quadruplify: John Watson (from BBC's Sherlock) standing in Buckingham Palace ([Sherlock] John - standing)
I know most of the links this week are from The Atlantic; this is only because I follow the magazine on Twitter, and every day they have a ton of articles that catch my interest, and I end up clicking on them all, and pretty soon my browser is crammed with tabs from this one website. Which I find kinda embarrassing, even though it's not a big deal at all. I should go on a bigger variety of sites regardless. :P

--Yes, Money Does Buy Happiness: 6 Lessons From the Newest Research on Income and Well-Being
--The "Most Significant" Photo Recently Taken From Space
--Why We Get Prune Fingers
--Hollywood's Real Bias Is Conservative (But Not in the Way Liberals Often Say)
--The Fact-Free Political Alarmism of Naomi Wolf  (this does a good job of pinpointing what bothers me about left-wing activist writers like Wolf, Glenn Greenwald, Michael Moore, etc. -- they're too extreme and addicted to attention for most people to believe anything they have to say, and whatever good points they make are undermined by their poor research and lack of nuance)
--There's More to Life Than Being Happy
--A GIF Guide to the Most Bannable Semi-Automatic Weapons
--Russian test uncovers strain of space travel  (with all the buzz surrounding the Mars One project, this is important to keep in mind)
--Actually, Don't Write Like You're Dead  (on bad writing advice, and how it's impossible not to be a product of your times)
--Sympathy For the Nice Guys of OKCupid  (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- not because Nice Guys deserve that much pity [they don't], but it's an interesting perspective that's worth thinking about)
--Censoring Pirate Sites Doesn't Work, Researchers Find
--Astronomers Discover a Planet Almost Identical to Earth
--New battery converts physical motion to chemical energy in a single step
--Galaxy's center tastes of raspberries and smells of rum, say astronomers
--What If NASA Could Figure Out the Math of a Workable Warp Drive?  (I'm pretty sure I shared this on Twitter before, but it's worth sharing again)
--Winners of the National Geographic Photo Contest 2012
--A Stunning, Sparkling Beehive Caught By Accident  (on globular clusters and distant galaxies)
--Tongue and Tech: The Many Emotions For Which English Has No Words
--Pondering Our Cyborg Future in a Documentary About the Singularity
--Climate Change Doesn't Have to Mean the End of the World  (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED -- this partly explains why I've become so burned out on even thinking about environmentalism and climate change activism; at this point, adaptation is the only thing we can do about global warming)
--Short animated film: "R'ha" by Kaleb Lechowski  (I'm only sharing this because a.) the animation and CGI is AMAZING, and b.) the guy who made this is a year younger than me, and I feel woefully inadequate because of it D: )


quadruplify: Amon (from the Legend of Korra) speaking at an Equalist protest, fist raised in the air ([LoK] Amon - revolution)
••• So my thoughts on the election can be summed up in these GIFs:





Let's see, we had Obama re-elected, a large number of women and progressives elected to Congress (including a Buddhist and a Hindu), Tea Partiers and rape apologists and anti-abortion freaks defeated, same-sex marriage passing by popular vote in three states (and marijuana legalized in two more), a hardcore video gamer getting elected to Maine's state senate, and overall at least half of Americans waking up and realizing this country needs to get out of the dark ages? Consider me impressed. :D

I might do a politics-related linkdump at some point, but for now I'm sure this will do. ^_^;

••• As for Hurricane Sandy, we got our TV and Internet back on Friday 11/2; my sister was ecstatic because during that whole week it was like living with a drug addict going through withdrawal. And it didn't help that she was out of school a total of four days, too. :PPP I managed to survive by starting to watch Ao no Exorcist (which I've actually been rather enjoying!), as well as a few movies I'll review later because it's 2:30 AM as I'm writing this and I'm hoping to get some sleep soon. XD

But it's long gone now -- no major damage around here, just a few tree limbs falling on power lines here and there (and Halloween getting cancelled, if that counts). I know the coast got hit really bad, though, as well as everywhere south of New York City; I don't know exactly how bad the damage was, and if we're going to be completely honest I kinda don't want to -- I feel like it'd depress me too much. But yes, we're all perfectly fine around here, as I've mentioned before, so no need to worry about us!

If you do want to read something interesting, though, there's this article about the skeleton that was unearthed when a tree toppled over in New Haven, if you're into that sort of thing. (The link contains pictures of the skeleton [though it's kinda hard to make out], in case you don't want to see it or you find such pictures disrespectful.)

••• I'm about 21,000 words into NaNoWriMo, which I'm really impressed by since I wasn't expecting to get that far by now at all. I've always seen myself as a slow writer; when I was writing papers in school and college, it took all the effort I could muster to stay focused and concentrate on what I needed to get done, which meant writing the damn things felt like pulling teeth. A lot of these hangups I developed about writing as a result have stuck around, which has definitely made it a struggle, so I guess being ahead of schedule is my way of compensating for that. :3 But whatever, even though those 21,000 words are total word vomit (as all first drafts are, I suppose), I'm using the advice of some famous writers to power through it, I'm proud of where I'm at right now, and I'm excited that I might actually make 50,000 before the end of the month, so yay! 8D

(And of course, you can add me over there if you haven't already.)

••• The Twilight Sad concert was Tuesday night, and it was as excellent and mind-blowing as I was hoping it was going to be.

Details under the cut... )

••• I've changed the layout of my LJ blog! ---> [livejournal.com profile] quadruplify The last one was more of a temporary thing because it was kinda ugly, so I hope y'all like this one more. ^_^;

Anyway, that's about it from me. How's everyone else doing?
quadruplify: Gay pride parade participant, dressed as astronaut, holding sign that reads: "Gay Astronaut Association Members: 1" ([Other] LGBTQ+ - gay astronaut)
I need to go to bed somewhat early tonight, so I'll try to keep this short:

--Now that I've been off Tumblr for a while now, I've started to work my way through the backlog of movies I've been meaning to see for the longest time now. I don't have time to review each one, so I'll just list them:

Movies that were great:
Movies that sucked tremendously:

Guilty pleasures:
If you want me to explain why I classified these movies the way I did, feel free to ask me in the comments.

--I've slowly started taking steps to take on more independence and responsibility and deal with my depression in more proactive ways; I've been driving on a more regular basis, I've been doing my own laundry, and on Sunday I cooked my own dinner. Spinach linguini with cooked bell peppers, celery, and scallions, to be exact. I still needed some guidance, of course, and I charred the vegetables a little bit, but other than that it came out perfectly. XD Obviously many people already do these things on a regular basis and take them for granted, but these are little victories I need to relish however I can. ^_^;

I've also been going to different places in the area we haven't been to before; the weekend before last my dad and I went to Books & Co., a small used bookstore in Hamden, and we were very impressed by it! Sadly, there aren't a lot of indie bookstores in our area, so it was good to find one by chance and support it however we could. Most of the books there are mainstream/literary fiction, and they also sell greeting cards and jewelry made by local artists. Oh yeah, all the books they sell are half off list price, so if you want a good deal....8D I couldn't resist buying a few books while I was there (Assia Djebar's Children of the New World, Yukio Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea, N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn, and Ntozake Shange's Betsy Brown), and they served a great chai latte at their café too.

And last weekend we checked out Redscroll Records in Wallingford, which also turned out to be pretty great. It's a small store that focuses on alternative/metal/hardcore/punk (they even sell zines there, which isn't too surprising to me since I know there are people out there who still make them, but still), and lots of vinyl if you're into that sort of thing (my dad ended up finding records he hadn't seen for 30-40 years), but there is something for just about everyone there. (Hey [personal profile] two_grey_rooms, it's better than Cutler's, trust me. XD) I ended up buying Soundtracks by Can and the Zol! EP from BLK JKS, as well as two used DVDs -- The Fall and Fargo, the latter of which I rewatched recently and was just as awesome as I remembered it to be.

--So the first two episodes of The Legend of Korra came out this weekend. And it was AMAZING. And AWESOME. And all those other adjectives I like to overuse when I really, really enjoy something. XD No spoilers, but this GIF just about sums it up:



Ugh why do we have to wait another month for the new episodes to come out D:

Seriously though, if you haven't seen this already, you should, even if you aren't familiar with A:tLA or its fandom. If you missed it when it was online this weekend, leave me a comment and I'll see what I can do. ;-)

(BTW, glad to see Community is back on the air too! Wasn't too impressed with last week's episode, but here's hoping this week's will be better.)

--Some links that I think might be of interest to some of you:
--And finally, a meme I ganked from [livejournal.com profile] iron_valkyrie:

Which kind of bender are you? )


quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
I got a Christmas card from [livejournal.com profile] misskalloway the other day, so thank you very much for that! :D

Speaking of Christmas cards, I plan on sending them out on Monday, or Tuesday at the very latest. It's definitely cutting it close, and for those who asked for one, you'll most likely receive them late (especially if you live outside the U.S.), but they will be coming soon, I promise. ;-)

Also, since the first holiday love meme I linked to in my last post filled up, here's part 2, if you haven't gotten a chance to comment on it and want to. Thanks for those of you who have already!

The past couple of weeks I've been working at my mom's workplace as a paper-pusher again; it's as extremely boring as it usually is, but I've been making a decent amount of money that should keep me going for a little bit. Hopefully in 2012 I can get a more stable job, but that'd require me actually making the effort to look. :P Ah well, I think I'll ride out the next couple of weeks and then start putting myself out there after the first of the year. That should work out, no?

Anyway, before I forget I should tell you about this anti-Islamophobia campaign a friend of mine from college has started. It's called "Say Salaam," and it involves people making videos of themselves saying the Arabic greeting "as-salaam alaikum" ("peace be with you") as an expression of solidarity against stereotypes, hate crimes, bullying, and hate against Islam in general. It's a campaign that's very much in the vein of It Gets Better, and while it has its problems much like IGB does, I honestly think it has the potential to become something big (and I'm not just saying this because someone I know is spearheading it XD). Here's the video he posted to kick things off, and you can find more info at [tumblr.com profile] saysalaam. Even if you can't make a video yourself, please spread the word!  I'd love to see this take off.  ^_^;

And after reading it on-and-off for five months, I finally got around to finishing The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle -- it had some really interesting and powerful parts, but all in all it was really, really open-ended, and in a not-all-that-compelling way either.  Good, but not one of Murakami's best.  I've also started on Adam Haslett's Union Atlantic; I've been enjoying it quite a bit, even though it's rather simplistic and maybe a bit clichéd, especially compared to something like Wind-Up.  I'm going to reserve judgment until I finish it, though.

I've also taken a break from reading Homestuck -- probably permanently, from the way things look.  :(  Maybe because I was reading it on-and-off too, but by the time I hit the beginning of Act 5 I pretty much lost my ability to care about what was going on. I mean, I get why it's so popular, it just doesn't seem to be doing anything to me, y'know?  Unless I still haven't gotten to the "good part" yet or whatever.  :/

And then there was all those Legend of Korra leaks a couple of weekends ago.  Yeah, old news is old at this point, but whatever, I'm still excited.  8D

Other than the fact that I've been trying to be more active on Plurk recently ([plurk.com profile] democracies , for those who are interested), that's really about all the notable stuff that's happened with me recently.  Which still isn't much, sadly, but hopefully that'll change with the new year.  I'll leave y'all with some songs I've been obsessed with lately, since I haven't done that in a while:

Gotye, "Somebody That I Used to Know"
The National, "I Need My Girl"  (new songs from The National?  YESPLZ :DDDDDDDDDDDD)
The National, "Rylan"
Sleigh Bells, "Rill Rill"
Tindersticks, "Medicine"
Lana Del Rey, "Born to Die"
Moby, "Extreme Ways"
Friends, "I'm His Girl"  (a.k.a. the current guilty pleasure)

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
Of all the nights I really want to stay up really late, tonight's the night I can't. Fuck. =_=

Anyway, I have some good news to share:

You have to click the cut to find out... )

* I'm thinking about doing NaNoWriMo this year. I do need a kick in the butt to get myself writing again, and since I still don't have a job and I have plenty of free time, why not? Good idea y/n?

* The reason why I have to go to bed early is because I'll be spending the weekend in Boston with my mom and sister, and we're leaving early in the morning. :P We're going to see my cousin at college because this weekend is their "Fall Family Weekend"/"open house," so we should definitely have a good time. The only thing that's gonna really suck about it is that Ex-Uncle and his ugly-on-the-inside wife will be meeting us at points, which is a huge DNW. But it'll be great to get to travel and see my aunt and cousin again! I'll be gone until Sunday night EDT; I'll still check LJ and (as much as possible) Tumblr on my phone, and if you want to get in touch with me I can PM you my contact info, but FYI I'm going to be a little bit more sparse this weekend than usual. (I also have AIM and Skype on my phone, but I'm not sure if I'll try that just yet.) Expect an awesome summary of everything when I get back, though. ;-)

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons (Default)
I CAN'T EXPRESS IN WORDS HOW EXCITED I AM ABOUT THE NEW SERIES RIGHT NOW

EVERYTHING THAT CAME OUT OF THE PANEL WAS ABSOLUTELY AMAZING AND FIERCE AND AWESOME AND ALL THAT

IT'S BEEN A COUPLE OF HOURS AND I'M STILL COMPLETELY PUMPED TBH

(AS YOU CAN TELL BY THE CAPSLOCK I'M SURE)

I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO BEGIN

KORRA'S BADASSNESS AND THE AANG STATUE AND THE RETURN OF APPA AND THE POLAR BEAR-DOG AND MAKO AND BOLIN AND THE STEAMPUNK SETTING AND TENZIN'S FAMILY AND AND AND

WHY DO WE HAVE TO WAIT ANOTHER YEAR THIS IS GONNA BE SO AWESOME

SO I'VE CREATED A STORIFY WITH ALL THE NEW INFO AND I'VE PUT THE LINK TO IT BELOW, IF YOU WANT TO CHECK IT OUT

(AND PLEASE SPREAD IT AROUND!)

AND IF YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT THIS FANDOM, THAT'S FINE -- YOU JUST SUCK

View ""LEGEND OF KORRA" PANEL @ SDCC 2011" on Storify



ANYWAY, RL UPDATE COMING IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS FYI

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
I have to go to bed REALLY SOON so that I can get up early enough for the flight to California (which I'll go into below), and I have a bit of a headache right now, so I need to keep this short:

--Saturday night was the Okkervil River concert, and it was awesome. It was my first time at Toad's Place, and I certainly didn't mind it there; I haven't been to too many venues like that, but I did find it to be a little bit on the seedy side, given that they've been around for a long time and they're coasting on their reputation at this point. The acoustics weren't exactly the greatest either, and because I went alone and didn't know anyone else there, my social anxiety kicked in big time and I wasn't able to enjoy it as much as I'd hoped. :/ That being said, though, the music was nothing short of excellent, and I had a great time.

Details under the cut... )

--We went to my dad's mom's house on Sunday to celebrate her birthday, which is next Saturday the 11th. We celebrated with great take-out pizza and some pretty awesome cupcakes my parents bought in a pastry shop in Wallingford which they want to take me and my sister to because it's apparently really good. XD For my birthday, she gave me shortbread cookies as a gift -- she knows what I like, LOL :B And apparently some woodpeckers built a nest in the apple tree in her backyard, so I managed to get a glimpse of some baby woodpeckers in their nest. Pretty cool, no? ~_^

--And today I got my birthday present from my parents -- a Teavana tea set. I for one am not complaining. \o/

--So as I mentioned before, I'm going to California (San Jose, to be exact) tomorrow/today with my mom and sister to visit my aunt and cousin for the weekend. My cousin is graduating high school on Thursday and will be going to college in Boston in the fall, and I'm really proud of her! I'm not that enthused about the airplane rides (6 hours from DC to San Francisco --> YUCK DNW D:), and family sometimes irritates me, but it'll be a nice change of pace and I'll try to make the most of it. Here's the itinerary as I know it right now:

Wednesday: Flight, get settled at aunt's house
Thursday: Cousin's graduation
Friday: San Francisco!
Saturday: ??????? (probably hanging out in San Jose)
Sunday: Flight back home

Unfortunately, I'm going to have limited Internet access while I'm there. I'll still try to keep up on everything as much as I can, but it won't be easy. In the meantime, if you want to get in touch with me for any reason, e-mail me (mecteol -AT- gmail -DOT- com) or contact me through Twitter or Facebook. (And if you want my cell phone number, let me know and I'll PM it to you.) So consider this a mini-pseudo-hiatus until I get back Sunday evening EDT. I hope to have some good stories when I get back. 8D

Hope everyone else is feeling well!
quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
Uh.......hi. Been a while since my last (real) post. Sorry about that. ^_^;

So, I've graduated from college. I'd write more about it -- about all the things I'm going to miss about Middlebury and Vermont (and everything I won't miss, because there's plenty of that too), about all the awesome things that happened to me over the past four years, about how much Middlebury became a second home for me whether I liked it or not, about how I changed and how beautiful things were there, etc. But this past week, I've had zero energy to do anything more taxing on my brain than doing some unpacking and spending all day on Tumblr. (Seriously, it's gotten to be a near-addiction at this point. I should probably ease off on it sometime soon. :PPP) I might still write about it eventually, but I have a track record of saying I'll make an entry about something and not actually doing it, and besides, if you've known me long enough I'm sure you could guess what I'd write about anyway. :B

Anyway, not much happened the day before graduation -- just eating at restaurants with my mom and sister (including dinner at American Flatbread), buying some more books for myself, and spending the rest of my time trying to relax alone. I was feeling rather disconnected from everyone else there the last few weeks of the semester, which sucked because I had grown close to lots of different people over the past year and I wanted to see them again and celebrate graduation with them, but at the same time I was extremely tired and wanted nothing more than to go home.

Graduation itself was fine -- not much to write home about, really, except that even though at least have the class was hungover, no serious shenanigans happened. Oh, and as per Middlebury tradition, we all got canes in addition to our diplomas, as a rather symbolic "souvenir," for lack of a better term. (It's a pretty badass cane, if I do say so myself. 8D) This page has some pictures and video of commencement, in case you're curious. And this page has some more information, and is totally worth looking at because of a comment left by "Pissed Off Crip" about some of the transphobic and ableist BS that went down during the ceremony.

And I got a new digital camera as a graduation present! :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD In addition to money and some new clothes, of course. And my parents decided to decorate my bedroom as a surprise when I got home -- complete with balloons and banners and a fake tree. And some of the bunny statuettes around the house were wearing mortarboards too. SERIOUSLY U GUYZ *embarrased.gif* XD

So yeah, that's about all the interesting stuff that's happened lately. I need at least another week to rest and recuperate from everything and just........deal with the fact that I've graduated from college, holy fuck holy shit how did this happen seriously. ._., And the trip to California in mid-June will certainly help. I am going to have to look for a job pretty soon, though, considering I have student loans to pay off (even though the first bill won't come until next March), but the good news is I do have some long-term goals I want to start working toward. I'll write about said goals eventually (and I will get around to it, scout's honor!), but for now, all I'll say is that it's great to finally have some direction in my life right now.

And I'll end this rambling here. Thank you very much for all the well-wishes! And feel free to make this into a party post or whatever, since this journal certainly needs one. ;-)



quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
First off, a warm welcome to [livejournal.com profile] archy_the_roach!  Glad to meet you, and if you have any questions about me don't be afraid to ask!  ;-)

Second, thank you so, so much for all the comments you left on the "You Are Beautiful" meme a few days ago.  You guys are absolutely wonderful, and I can't thank you enough for being so awesome.  ^_^;

Third, I've started using Tumblr again recently, and it's been a major time suck, as usual.  XDDDDDDDDDDDDDD  I'm sarcasmisdead over there, so please feel free to add me if you haven't already!

And fourth -- I'M DONE WITH COLLEGE!!!!!!!!!!

I wish I could be more excited, but I'm too tired to feel much excitement right now, mostly because my sleep schedule is once again out of whack -- I had been going to bed at 5 AM some nights, and last night I didn't get any sleep at all.  :PPP  The big reason was that I was working on my Japanese lit final paper all last week.  As in, the one that was due last Monday but I handed in on Saturday, almost a week late.  -_-;  After finishing my take-home exam for Politics of Virtual Realities (which I did hand in on time), I was so utterly burned out, and I so didn't want to do the other paper, that I just......lost all motivation to do it.  And the allergies and general low mood didn't help matters either.

But......it's done.  I put a lot of work into both papers, so I think they came out well regardless.  And considering I didn't study all that much for my African Politics exam on Friday, I think I did pretty well on that too.  :D

It feels weird that it's actually over, that I actually don't have any more schoolwork left to do and I'm going to be graduating on Sunday -- it feels utterly surreal, after college has been a big part of my life for the past four years.  Well, I do have a lot of ~feelings~ about the whole thing, but I think I'll write about that in separate entries later this week.

Anyway, this week is Senior Week, which means a lot of events are going on.  But unless I absolutely have to be there (like the ES department reception, the senior class photo, and of course, commencement), I don't really plan on going to most of these events; not a lot of them look all that interesting, and I don't have the energy to be all that social anyway.

Besides, I've been doing a lot of stuff over the past week or so anyway.  I've been kinda splurging in town lately; I've been going out for tea and eating out quite a bit lately, especially having dinner at American Flatbread on Saturday night (which was seriously one of the best meals I've ever had IN MY LIFE.  *_____*  Seriously, if there's an AF near you, GO THERE -- you won't be disappointed!), and buying yet more books (Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter, if you're curious).  I've also been running around doing all the errands I need to do before leaving town, like getting a haircut, closing my checking account, and picking up my sertraline prescription (I'm back up at 150mg now).  So as you could probably guess, I'm near flat broke right now.  :P  That's all right, though, I can survive a few more days.  ~_^

Other than meeting with my first-year seminar professor for the last time this afternoon, that's about it as far as things going on in my life are concerned.  This is really just a post to let everyone know that no, I'm not dead, just busy and worn out.  ^_^;  How is everyone else doing?

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
The Bad:
1.


2. Ever since I went back down to 100mg of sertraline, my mood has started to destabilize big time; it's been tougher to work up the motivation to do anything lately, even getting out of bed in the morning. Right now I'm OK, though, and I'm sure things will get better in due time. I finally got around to calling the psychiatrist's office today, and he should get back to me tomorrow morning to see what to do next.

3. Missed my radio show again this week. :PPP

4. Students in my Politics of Virtual Realities class have pissed me off yet again. This time, we saw Avatar this week (the James Cameron blue aliens one), and the class discussion about it was absolutely dismissive of its racism and other problematic aspects. And when I tried to bring it up, the professor ended up telling me, "You get a gold star for working up the nerve to disagree with everyone else, but you're still wrong." She said it was a joke. Mmhmm. :/

(For the record, Avatar was mediocre to average at best. Stunning visuals, and Sigourney Weaver was actually pretty awesome, but everything else was hackneyed and predictable and cheesy. I know I'm supposed to ~~~suspend my disbelief~~~ when watching movies like this, but this was ridiculous. It was bearable, though, I'll give it that. Would've been better if Col. Quaritch had a shirtless scene, though. /shameless XD)

5. We've been getting warmer weather around here lately -- temps finally hit 80°F/27°C today. This is not a bad thing, in and of itself, but it's happened really suddenly, the humidity has been a huge shock, and I'm slowly starting to get my seasonal allergies again. Wonderful.

The Good:

1. Some of my African Politics classes were canceled this week because the professor is in Cameroon right now. So there's that, at least.

2. I'm officially done with my Social Movements class! Today I did my final project, which was a group project where we had to come up with talking points, an action plan, and a stump speech for a hypothetical new organization devoted to abolishing the death penalty. And I think we did pretty fucking well, if I do say so myself. :D We still have class next week (the last class), but I don't need to do anything for it, and we have no exams, so it's one less thing I have to worry about.

3. Speaking of Social Movements: our class recently did a compilation of all the big-ass papers we wrote earlier in the semester. My essay is on pages 54-64.

4. I started watching Community recently, and I really really really REALLY REALLY like it! I don't normally go for these kinds of shows, but god-DAMN I love this one! The jokes are absolutely spot on, and it's so funny the outlandishness of the situations don't really matter. Now I'm going to be on the lookout for fic and icons and fandom and all that good stuff. [personal profile] radiovolume and [personal profile] ninasafiri, YOU ARE TOTALLY AT FAULT FOR THIS. 8DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

5. The new episode of Pioneer One is coming out tomorrow/today! Can't wait! ^_^;

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

And now for the meme:

Previous songs under the cut... )

Today's songs under the cut because there's quite a bit under here. ^_^; )

DAY 20: The last song alphabetically in your iPod/iTunes.
DAY 21: Your favorite song.
DAY 22: A song that someone has sung to you.
DAY 23: A song that you cannot stand to listen to.
DAY 24: A song that you have danced to with your best friend.
DAY 25: A song you could listen to all day without getting tired.

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
1. So I've just been made one of the new maintainers for [livejournal.com profile] durarara, which is very exciting! Even though I'm a total lurker and not exactly the most active guy in the fandom. (OH GOD WHAT THE HELL DID I GET MYSELF INTO DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD:) Anyway, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or if there are any not-so-funny shenanigans I don't already know about, feel free to PM me, e-mail me (mecteol@gmail.com), or leave a comment in my latest public entry on this journal. I do try to keep tabs on everything as much as possible, so I'll definitely try to respond ASAP. (And while we're at it, here are the rules in case you need a refresher.)

Between that and [livejournal.com profile] drrr_bigbang seriously tempting me, I just might get more involved in the fandom after all. I still haven't finished rewatching the series, and I haven't yet gotten a chance to look at episodes 12.5 and 25 and the light novels, so I should probably get on that when I have the chance.

2. All right, RL update! This past Friday was the Spring Student Symposium, where students talk about the independent work they've done this past year, whether it's thesis work, senior essays, or anything else they've been researching on their own time. It's very cool because you get to talk to your friends about all the interesting stuff they've done, all in a pretty relaxed atmosphere. Some of the presentations I went to included ones on post-apocalyptic fiction, why the Taliban have gotten stronger in Afghanistan over the past few years, factors that affect how long insurgencies last, a sociological analysis of a campus celebrity, Jerry Springer, prospects for Korean reunification, honor killings in Turkey, the English-only movement in the U.S. and why it's completely and utterly stupid, how hard it is to translate fiction, attitudes toward beach littering in Chile, and ecopsychology. If some of them sound boring, trust me, they weren't -- the kinds of larger themes people talked about were fascinating, and I learned a ton. A perfect event for eggheads like me. XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

(Oh, and there was an impromptu Improv Everywhere-style dance-off in the main area of the science building during the reception at the end of the day. And it was pretty fucking awesome, if I do say so myself! ^_^;)

3. Before I forget, I'd like to mention HELA, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to help Afghan women, primarily through building schools, developing other education programs for women, and building and maintaining wells, among other things. What's really good about this group is that they work with the Afghan government and existing structures and systems in order to make sure these projects can stick around for the long term (something I know [livejournal.com profile] mcollinknight can appreciate). The president of HELA is a senior at my college originally from Afghanistan, and she's also the executive director of the Afghan Youth Initiative. Here's some more info about her, and here's an interview she did on NBC's Today show back in September. Please spread the word; this is a great cause that more people should know about!

4. Last Friday I also went to Playing at War, a one-man play put on by a senior Theatre/History double-major about British theatre -- especially plays put on by British soldiers -- during the American Revolution. The student played William Dunlap, a playwright who wrote the first history of American theatre in 1832; he was also a British Loyalist who wasn't a big fan of Washington and his ilk, and it showed. (Like how he mentioned how the Sons of Liberty wanted to ban theatre because it was a "foreign influence" and "un-American," even to the point of burning one down in New York City after it was known that the controversial Stamp Act had been repealed. Nevermind that the theatre had an important role to play for the people living in the colonies at the time. Sound familiar?) It was a fascinating alternate look at history, especially something that's often ignored, and it was interesting to hear about the British military's appreciation of theatre, which is something you wouldn't expect. I definitely don't regret going. (Especially since I got in for free! :B)

5. I finally got around to finishing Kafka on the Shore, and it was EXCELLENT. I had been meaning to read that one for a while now, and I'm glad I did! Highly recommended. ;-)

6. Has anyone seen the first episode of A Game of Thrones yet? It's gotten a lot of hype lately, but I'm wondering what people thought of it if they saw it, or if they've read the books. I won't have a lot of time in the next few days, so I'm wondering if it's worth it.

Well, that's about it for me right now. How is everyone else doing?
quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
Life has been going relatively well these past few days; nothing too exciting has been going on lately, but I did get a 99 on my Japanese lit exam and an A- on my latest African Politics paper, the weather's been getting better, and I finally got to check out the new student-run cafe on campus. Belgian waffle with maple syrup, bananas, and dark chocolate = DELICIOUS. XD

Also, this meme is still going if you're interested. ;-)

Anyway, I've fallen behind on the music meme, so here goes nothing:

DAY 01: A song from your childhood.

DAY 02: A song that reminds you of your most recent ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.

Since I've never had an ex, this question doesn't exactly apply. (I know, I suck, but that's life I suppose. :PPP) Next!

DAY 03: A song that reminds you of one/both of your parents.



Yeah, this is a Beatles song, but I'm putting up Low's cover version just because I absolutely adore Mimi Parker's voice. ^_^; And yeah, as much as I love my parents, this just about sums them up. >_>

DAY 04: A song that calms you down.



This song is actually split into two videos, just because it's 17 minutes long and YouTube has a 15-minute limit on uploads from normal users -- fortunately, I've set it up so the second video should play after the first is done without you having to do anything.

Anyway, it's worth listening to the whole thing, because then you can see just how good this song is at calming anyone down, not just me. 8DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

Upcoming days under the cut... )

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
I just finished reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and I really enjoyed it! So while I'm letting it sink in, here's a multi-day music meme I got from [livejournal.com profile] hairspray -- hope you enjoy it!

DAY 01: A song from your childhood.



There's not much I can really say about this song, just that I remember loving it when I was really young and it was playing on VH1 a lot (I used to watch a lot of VH1 when I was little, back when it still played music videos). My 5-year-old self really liked the lead singer in the video with his whole don't-give-a-fuck aura, so I always danced with him whenever it came on. XD

Upcoming days under the cut... )

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

So because this month is National Poetry Month, some people on my f-list (like [livejournal.com profile] dreams_of_all and [livejournal.com profile] eska_rina) have been posting one poem a day for the month. While I don't plan on doing that, I'll try to post some poems I like and have enjoyed every so often, when I remember. For now, here's some Pablo Neruda and Khalil Gibran:

Pablo Neruda -- A Dog Has Died )


Pablo Neruda -- Un perro ha muerto (original Spanish version of A Dog Has Died) )


Khalil Gibran -- On Children )


Khalil Gibran -- Tears and Laughter )

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

I have a lot of other things I'd like to post, but for now I'll leave you with this: oneword.com. I was recently reminded of the existence of this site recently, since I used to use it a lot back in high school; basically you're given a one-word prompt, and you have 60 seconds to write about it (though I'm sure you could get away with writing for longer than a minute if you got really into it). It might be a good way to get you writers out there out of a writing slump, so feel free to try it out! Hope you like it. ;-)

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
Ugh, this week was a total bust. I hardly got any of my work done -- especially the activist stuff for Social Movements -- I didn't get a chance to do most of the things I wanted to do, I didn't look for any jobs or things like that, I'm still angsting over the summer job I wanted that won't work out, the pictures for my class yearbook all came out horrible, a bunch of other little things I won't mention here, and I've just been lethargic and unmotivated the whole time, doing nothing but sitting at the computer all day. And I go back to college tomorrow. And I have an hour-long exam on Monday morning that I barely studied for. Wonderful. :PPP

I mean, I suppose none of this is really all that bad, since none of my assignments for classes were all that urgent, and some of these other things can be fixed rather easily. Besides, I've decided that it's probably a good idea to wait to get a job until I get my driver's license, because it would be really hard for me to get a job otherwise, considering my parents' work schedules and the piss-poor public transportation around here. Not to mention my mom wants us to go on a family vacation sometime this summer, so there's that too. >_>; Things could always be worse, I suppose, but even though things aren't bad, per se, they're just......blah. Let's just hope life picks up once I get back; after the exam on Monday, I won't have any major assignments due for another month, and I plan on skipping all the schoolwork I can afford to skip, making sure I enjoy and make the most out of the last few weeks of college in the meantime.

The only things of note I did this week was start rewatching A:tLA yet again, and seeing two movies, the Italian movie The Right Distance, which was awesome, and the Korean film A Frozen Flower, which sucked horribly. I've been meaning to write a long-winded rant on A Frozen Flower (yes, I hate it that much), but I'll have to get around to it later. Maybe. ^_^;  (Oh yes, and the latest episode of Pioneer One, which was awesome as always.  :D)

Here are the only two plans I have for summer so far:
--June 4: Okkervil River will be playing at Toad's Place. It's close by, it's on a Saturday night, and I really want to go!
--June 8-12: Trip to California for my cousin's high school graduation. I'm definitely looking forward to this, especially since I love the Bay Area and I've wanted to go back since I visited three years ago. (Yes, this means spending a good portion of my 22nd birthday on an airplane, but it's all good. XD)

Also, [livejournal.com profile] queer_fest has released its list of prompts! Here are some that really caught my attention, and hope someone gets around to fill:

Cool prompts and ramblings on them behind the cut.... )

Finally, so that this post isn't completely pointless, here are some links:

--Ten adverts that shocked the world -- This is why I won't go into advertising, and you shouldn't either.
--Creepy app warns of an end to privacy
--Behind the Scenes: How Do You Get Into Amherst? -- Warning: Likely to be very disheartening and rage-inducing
--How Americans defeated efficiency with consumerism
--More Black Men Now in Prison System than Were Enslaved
--For Lovers and Fighters -- A long but EXCELLENT piece on polyamory, queer and trans* identities, and what love actually is (hint: it has nothing to do with romance) -- *HIGHLY RECOMMENDED*
--[personal profile] fightingarrival: "I have trouble following conversations on Tumblr" -- in which Sucker Punch and female empowerment is discussed, and Sady Doyle from Tiger Beatdown fucks up royally.
--The Male German Bodybuilder That Got Gandhi All Hot and Bothered
--Straight Gamer Calls for "No Homosexuality Option" in Dragon Age 2; Game Maker Responds: Shut It -- I'm only posting this link for the video. (Is it bad that I want to play this game now? XD)
--Information Is Beautiful!
--Color Picker Pen by Jinsu Park -- THIS IS SUCH A COOL INVENTION OMG *_*
--Nature photography by Henrik Just -- HOLY CRAP Y'ALL THIS STUFF IS AMAZING :O
--"Animal portraits" by Alex Castro
--DADT photography by Jeff Sheng
--Strange Maps @ Big Think
--What would've happened if Peanuts was written by Charles Bukowski.
--3eanuts, in which the last panel of Peanuts strips are omitted.

That's about it for me right now -- now time for me to stay up for a few more hours and regret it when I have to get up early in the morning. :B

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
1. Firstly, my thoughts and best wishes go out to everyone affected by the earthquake and tsunamis in Japan -- if you're in Japan right now and can read this, I hope you're doing OK, and if you have family and/or friends in Japan I hope you know they're doing OK too! It's assumed the students from my college studying abroad in Japan right now are all right, but the college hasn't confirmed it yet. I also know one of my former Japanese senseis is originally from Sendai, one of the worst hit cities, and if she still has family there I bet she's worried sick. D:

Anyway, here are some pertinent links:

--Al Jazeera liveblog and live feed
--current liveblog @ [livejournal.com profile] ontd_political
--[livejournal.com profile] fruitsgrow's links to live feeds and charities
--[personal profile] azuire's links to live feeds, liveblogs, and charities
--lists of charities: Yahoo || TIME
--[livejournal.com profile] help_japan/[community profile] help_japan -- fandom auction
--something worth keeping in mind

2. So I went to bed at 5 AM last night, following everything that was coming out of Japan, and I didn't get a lot of sleep (just like the past few nights), and by the time I actually felt like doing anything the sun was setting, so I took another mental health day today. Even though that was probably a bad idea, since I have a 3000-5000 word essay due Wednesday, an exam Thursday afternoon, and a 500-750 word essay due Friday. Oh well, I'll manage. :P

3. The comments on this post at [livejournal.com profile] sf_drama really skeeved me out, in particular this thread (warning: bigoted/offensive/erasing comments against genderqueer and gender non-conforming individuals). Now, it's not really my place to say what feminism is and/or should be, but wow, way to prove s.e. smith's point. Anyway, I don't plan on visiting sf_d anytime soon. >B[

4. On to happier stuff: the video for The National's "Conversation 16" was released this week. And it is the purest of beauty and the most distilled awesomeness, all in one 4-minute-20-second package. :D



What's better than reenacting movie scenes IRL? )

8. Well, this post turned into a vidspam, didn't it? :PPP Oh well, not much else that was interesting happened this week anyway. Now I'll try to go to bed early, even though I'll probably find some reason to stay up late, as usual. XD


quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)


‘The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra’: Exclusive First Look

OMG YOU GUYS



... *ahem* Sorry about that. Just needed to get that out there. XD

(Unrelated: Right now I'm procrastinating and listening to the new Low album, and it's phenomenal! I'm so glad Mimi Parker has more songs all to herself -- she's a wonderful singer, and totally deserves getting more attention. :D)


quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
1. So after exhausting myself writing two papers yesterday right near the deadline, I'm taking a much-needed break today. Even though I have another five-page paper due Tuesday, and a 3000-5000 word essay due in a week and a half -- which I only found out about last Wednesday. Crap. :( At least I don't have that much else to do this week, and I'm starting to get over my cold, which is good.

2. The only truly cool thing I did this week was go see Andrea Gibson perform in town Tuesday evening, and she was absolutely amazing. Seriously, words can't even describe how good she was (not like I'm all that good describing how good something is when I'm half-tired anyway :PPP)! She had a great on-stage presence with an awesome rapport with the audience, and the way she performed her poetry was, to be slightly clichéd and over-the-top, spellbinding. Definitely worth missing the two screenings I had to go to at the same time. ;-)

(For those of you who aren't familiar with Andrea Gibson, I have links to some videos of her performing in my last entry, but here are some others: "Swingset" || "Crabapple Pirates" || "Unfinished Masterpiece" || "Photograph" || "How It Ends" || "For Eli" || "Andrew")

3. I finally got to see The Social Network today, and I really liked it! It's a very well-done movie -- the acting, dialogue, and cinematography were all top-notch. That said, I still wouldn't put it in my "favorite movies" list, considering that it didn't really grab and engage me the way I was hoping it would. (I still think The King's Speech deserved its Best Picture Oscar anyway. :D)

4. Tai chi has been canceled this semester.  Boo.  DX  At least I didn't pay for the class (even though I was meaning to but decided to wait)?  That's consolation, at least.

5. Finally got around to playing Puerto Rico with the gaming club this afternoon, which I really enjoyed! Check it out if you can/are interested, as it's quite fun. (I also really enjoyed History of the World, which we played a couple of weeks ago, though I don't think I mentioned that yet. :B)

5a. Speaking of games: [livejournal.com profile] vethica recently pointed out to me that an online version of Dominion exists! Even though I'm not at all good at it, I have a lot of fun with this game, and I'm wondering if maybe any of you might be interested in playing? If you're interested but never played before, here's some more information about it, and I've uploaded the game rules here. Anyway, I'm always looking for more opponents, so although I'm not sure when I'll find the time in my busy schedule to fit a couple of games in (even though a game usually lasts around a half hour, so it's not that long), if you're interested in playing just let me know, through AIM (when I'm online), e-mail (mecteol@gmail.com), PMing me, leaving a comment here, whatever. My username over there is quadruplify, BTW, surprise surprise. XD

6. As I mentioned in my last entry, one of my professors this semester did an interview on The Daily Show on Wednesday! If you missed it, here it is:



And for all you Canadians reading this, here's where you can see it.

7. Finally, a big welcome to [livejournal.com profile] thecityofdis, [livejournal.com profile] theeonenonly, [livejournal.com profile] monochromejive, and [livejournal.com profile] minamoto, who I met through various friending memes this week. Hello new people! *waves* I don't have a real intro post right now, but this is the best I've got (or here if you prefer Dreamwidth). If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask! :D

(And to those I met over at [livejournal.com profile] russia_sushi, sorry about the lack of giant gay robot ninjas in this post. D: I know the Transformers franchise has some if y'all are interested, but now that I've mentioned it, I.........kinda want to come up with my own. And now I think I have an idea for a book series or movie or TV show in my head right now. Great, just what I need, another one. :3)


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:





Egypt #2

Jan. 31st, 2011 12:01 am
quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons (Default)
Here's an update to the Egypt linkdump from two nights ago. Sorry to spam your f-lists/access lists with this, but this is kinda Really Fucking Important™.

Liveblogs:
[livejournal.com profile] ontd_political : #3 || #4  (the best place to start, as it has some of the best comments and commentary)
Al Jazeera: Saturday 1/29 || Sunday 1/30 || Monday 1/31
Mother Jones (scroll to the bottom [before the comments section] for the latest)
The Lede @ The New York Times
The Guardian (UK)
Other liveblogs, plus video feeds

Al Jazeera:
Egypt front page

BBC:
El Baradei tells crowd "change coming"
Anxious waiting game as standoff continues
Tension rises as jets buzz Tehrir Square in Cairo
Hillary Clinton urges "orderly transition"
Profile: Mohammed El Baradei
Can Mubarak survive the revolt?
Tough questions if revolution succeeds

Foreign Policy:
Pharaoh's End: A roundtable
The Worst of Both Worlds
Five questions about Egypt
President Obama, here is your "game changer"
Unmasking Mubarak's "chaos"
Democracy is not all that different....
Obama's handling Egypt pretty well (h/t [livejournal.com profile] mcollinknight , and an article I agree with 100%)

Guardian:
Egyptians form makeshift militias to stop looters
Editorial: Mubarak's dictatorship must end now
Voices of the Egyptian rebellion
"We've waited for this revolution for years"

New York Times:
Opposition rallies to El Baradei as military reinforces in Cairo

Independent (UK):
Robert Fisk: Death throes of a dictatorship

The Nation:
Live from the Egyptian Revolution

The Globe and Mail (Canada):
Egypt's new vice-president has been crown-prince-in-waiting for years
Enough!  Why thousands of young Arabs have taken to the streets in protest

Kansas City Star:
Why has Egypt's army not confronted protesters?

Huffington Post:
A complete guide to the 2011 revolution

Associated Press:
Iraqis watch Egypt unrest with sense of irony

Center for a New American Security:
Egypt: A humble request  (another necessary punch to the gut for Western observers)

Los Angeles Times:
White House quietly preparing for a post-Mubarak Egypt

UNCUT:
Egypt's Twitter-less revolution

Mondoweiss:
The Egyptian revolution threatens an American-imposed order of Arabophobia and false choices  (h/t [livejournal.com profile] mcollinknight -- highly recommended reading)

Canonical.org:
Why Egypt's popular rebellion is the greatest historical event in a decade, and how Barack Obama missed the boat  (I don't agree with this person's assessment of the American response to the crisis in Egypt, but this provides a good background to what's going on, and has some good arguments against the pro-Obama Foreign Policy article I linked above)

As always, feel free to link to this page if you want, and please leave interesting articles and other links related to Egypt and protests throughout the Arab world (especially from non-mainstream and non-Western sources) in the comments.  ;-)

quadruplify: Stuart Staples (lead singer of Tindersticks) surrounded by pigeons ([Music] Tindersticks - pigeons)
So as many of you probably know already, Egypt has recently erupted with a slew of anti-government protests that has left president Hosni Mubarak and his party's grip on power tenuous at best, and could mean big changes to the political makeup and stability of the region as a result (not to mention U.S. foreign policy and America's place in the world).  Inspired by the protests in Tunisia, the protesters managed to gain enough power to nearly topple their government in the space of four days, which is really fucking remarkable -- and considering what this may mean, it's a Big Fucking Deal™ (even if Joe Biden himself wouldn't use that term to describe this situation, sadly enough).

[Before I go any further, I need to make a disclaimer: I've tried to follow this as closely as I could seeing as it is history in the making (especially since things really got interesting today), but this isn't Iran in 2009 when I had a ton of time on my hands -- I had an exam today, I need to pack to go home tomorrow and I haven't done that yet, I'm pressed for time, my computer is being unreasonably slow, and I'm perpetually exhausted.  So this is going to be pretty limited, and I haven't read all the articles just yet, but I'll plan on it this weekend when I get more time.  (And if you must know: I think I did good on my exam, and I got an A+ on my journal entries, so other than current events and my rushing around to get things done, life is good right now.  XD)]

Anyway, here's the linkdump:

EGYPT
Al Jazeera's main page on the Egypt crisis  (includes live video)
Al Jazeera: "Analysis: Upheaval in Egypt"
Al Jazeera: "Profile: Hosni Mubarak"
Hossam el-Hamalawy: "We Don't Expect Any Help From America, Just to Leave Us Alone"
Mondoweiss: "Egypt is burning and most Western pundits have no idea why"
New York Times Liveblog
New York Times: "Mubarak Vows Cabinet Shift by Defends Deploying Army As Revolt Sweeps Egypt"
New York Times: "Al Jazeera Covers Protests Despite Hurdles"
NPR Liveblog
NPR: "Egypt President Asks Cabinet to Resign Amidst Protests"
Guardian Liveblog
BBC: "Mubarak Sacks Cabinet and Defends Security Role"
BBC: "Analysis: Why Egypt Matters"
BBC: "As it happened: Egypt unrest on Friday"
BBC: "Egypt's security and armed forces: The deciding factor"
BBC: "Obama's caution on Egypt is winning him no friends"  (and yet, at this stage, there really isn't much else he can do)
Washington Post main article on the Egypt crisis
Washington Post: "U.S. to review aid to Egypt"
David Frum: "John Kerry Calls For Elections in Egypt"
Foreign Policy: "The New Arab World Order"
Foreign Policy: "Washington eyes a fateful day in Egypt"
The Atlantic: "After Tunisia: Obama's Impossible Dilemma in Egypt"
zuky: "Third World Protest as US Spectator Sport"  (definitely a punch to the gut, but something worth reading anyway)
Huffington Post: "Graph Visualizes Egypt's Internet Blackout"
Enduring America liveblog
Wikipedia article

In terms of Twitters to follow, @SultanAlQassemi and @bencnn are probably the two best English-language ones to follow; you could also follow mine if you wish, as I'll try to retweet some of the best bits of info I can get.  I've also been reblogging Egypt-related stuff on Tumblr, though they also have their own stream of Egypt-related posts[livejournal.com profile] ontd_political put together a live post as well (though it seems to be inactive right now), as well as a news round-up from earlier in the day.  As always, Andrew Sullivan's blog is linking some of the best commentary, but since apparently Sullivan himself is on leave it might not be as good of a source for that as when he covered the situation in Iran.

ELSEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Al Jazeera's main page on Tunisia
Tunisia -- Ben Ali allies dropped from cabinet
New York Times: "Seizing a Moment, Al Jazeera Galvanizes Arab Frustration"
Washington Post: "As Protests Swell From Yemen to Egypt, Middle East Faces Uncertainty"
Iranian.com: "Tunis Not Tehran: Why Tunisians succeeded by Iranians faltered"
The National (UAE): "Thousands protest in Jordan for third week"
New York Times: "Protests Unsettle Jordan While Most Other Neighbors Stay Calm"
New York Times: "Waves of Unrest Spread to Yemen, Shaking a Region"
Washington Post: "Inspired by Tunisia and Egypt, Yemenis join in anti-government protests"
Wikipedia articles: Tunisia // Yemen // Algeria // Arab world in general

I'll try to add more links within the next 24 hours or so, so check back to this page for updates.  Also, if you have any other interesting links about current events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, please feel free to share them (especially if they're from non-mainstream media sources).  You're also free to share and link to this page as often as you wish, if you want to boost the signal.  ;-)


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.

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

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.

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

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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