quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking shocked and/or surprised ([LoK] Lin - surprised)
So today my family -- on a complete whim, and without informing me ahead of time -- got a dog.

Obviously I'm really happy for them (and me, of course!) because we'd all been talking about doing this for I don't know how long now, and the dog -- a female 8-month-old black lab mix named Harper -- is abso-friggin'-lutely adorable.

But I'm also a.) slightly more than a bit peeved that I was out of town when they adopted her and my family didn't include me in the decision-making, and b.) freaking the fuck out because I want to be absolutely sure we're all as responsible as we can be as owners and not massively screw this up.

So for all of you out there who still use LJ and DW who own dogs -- could I have some advice please? Important things that might not cross the mind of a first-time dog owner, things you wish you didn't have to learn the hard way, what to look for in a good trainer (or training program) -- things like that. (We already have food, treats, a crate, at least one toy, and a few other necessities I can't think of right now. She peed on the floor a little while ago, so I don't think she's housebroken. She's whimpering right now, but she hardly barks, she's not terribly stressed, and otherwise has an excellent temperament.)

Thanks in advance for all your help!

(And yes, I know I haven't updated this journal since September. I'll do a proper RL update......eventually. A lot has happened over the past few months, and the more I end up putting it off, the more stuff happens to talk about. It's been on my mind a lot, though, so hopefully I'll get around to it soon.)
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: 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: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking shocked and/or surprised ([LoK] Lin - surprised)
So I just realized I haven't updated this thing in about a month, and I haven't written a proper RL update since February. Yeah. Sorry about that. D:

This year is moving by way faster than I expected; it's almost May already, and it feels like last week that there was still snow on the ground. I guess it's because not much has been going on with me over the past couple of months that I felt were worth mentioning here. Plus, I've been sick this past week -- it was just a cold, the worst of it is over, and I've had far worse, but it still didn't help things at all. And I'm supposed to get up early tomorrow to help my dad and his brother put up fencing around my grandmother's/their mother's house, which won't be hard at all, but still...bleh. ("It'll take no time at all!" Sorry Dad, but around 4 to 5 hours is NOT "no time at all." And if there's ever a day in which I absolutely need to sleep in and spend all day on the computer, it's tomorrow. XP)

So I'm going to do what I can to make this as short as possible:

••• The volunteering gig at the ASRC has been going really well! I work there Tuesday and Thursday mornings after my phototherapy treatments, and I've been there for about two months now. The work is the boring administrative stuff I'm used to -- making labels, putting labels on envelopes, stuffing inserts in flyers, writing letters for donation requests, making copies, looking over contact info for newspapers, etc. -- but it all needs to be done, and since I'm not working there all day it doesn't bother me as much. It certainly helps that everyone there is kind and considerate as well. ^_^; Right now they're busy with organizing for their "Walk For Autism" next weekend (their big yearly fundraising event), so that's what I've been focusing on, but once one of the employees comes back from medical leave I might just help work on their new website, which I gotta say I'm looking forward to. :3

••• I've been trying to take advantage of some of the other services the ASRC has for me, to mixed results. I've been attending monthly support group meetings, which have been going very well. But twice a month on Saturday evenings they host a "games night" as a way for adults "on the spectrum" to socialize, and those, well...haven't been as helpful. The games themselves are fine -- the ones I've played include poker, blackjack, Uno, Telestrations, and some video games -- but I haven't been able to click or connect with anyone else who's been going to these things. With some people it's because they have more pronounced symptoms (the first time I went, one girl had a serious chair-throwing temper tantrum because she didn't win a round of poker -- everyone else told me that sort of thing almost never happens there, but it was still really uncomfortable to watch), but with the others I haven't yet found anyone I think seems cool or interesting or otherwise someone I'd like to get to know more. Not that there isn't, I'm sure, and obviously you can't expect everyone there to have good social graces, but still. The guy who runs these events recently put together a "special" monthly games night for me and a few other guys he feels are on the same wavelength, but while it's been good to get out of the house more often, so far I don't feel I've gotten anything out of it yet. Of course, it's only been a few weeks, and I do want it to work, but I'm not very confident it will. :/

The center has also referred me to the CT Bureau of Rehab Services, which is supposed to help me find what jobs I'd be a good fit for and ultimately hook me up with one, so my parents and I are considering going down that route in the near future as well. You know, when we can find the time to go over my resume and all that. :P

••• My psoriasis has hardly improved, so now I'm back up to two light treatments a week. And I have a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist this week to go over my "progress." I'm not looking forward to that, gotta say.

••• Things with both of my grandmothers have been about the same. The only really notable thing that happened was that a few weeks ago, my dad's mom (the one who lives alone and has the hearing-voices issue) had a fall and bruised her ribs pretty badly. She was out of it and had a lot of difficulty walking around that whole week, and one time when my dad was visiting she had some very serious visual hallucinations right in front of him (e.g. thinking my sister and dead grandfather were in the house, or that my dad had spoken to someone outside the house earlier in the day). My dad got her one of those automatic reclining chairs to help her stand up and sit down more easily, and ever since she's started feeling better it's been a huge help. The good thing about all that happened, though, is that it finally made her realize that a.) there is absolutely no way in hell the voices in her head are real, and b.) she needs to move out of the house and start living in an assisted living community or a place like that. Her being alone in a house she can't take care of and is falling into disrepair isn't going to help her one bit, and I hope we can get that situation sorted ASAP.

That's about it for now; if I think of anything else, I'll probably add them to this post or make a separate entry, and I'll try to do another linkdump sometime this week as well. So yeah, I can't really complain with how things are right now, even though I get really frustrated it's coming up on two years since graduation and I still haven't found a job or kept myself busy doing other things and all that. I suspect I would've been doing all those things by now too, if the temptation to sleep in and do nothing wasn't so great. =_=; Oh well, I'm sure I'll manage to figure something out eventually. How is everyone else doing? (If you're still using this site, that is. ._.,)
quadruplify: Lin Bei Fong (from the Legend of Korra) looking mildly pissed off ([LoK] Lin - pissed off)
Another entry because I'm bored and I feel up to it. ^_^;

••• So, Christmas went relatively well! It wasn't very eventful, and I've had far better Christmases, but it wasn't too bad, all things considered. Here's what I managed to get:

Under the cut: Loot, long-lost family, acting like an asshole, and illness... )

••• I'm still trying to think of what to do for New Year's resolutions; I know they rightfully get a bad rap because people hardly follow through on them, but I really need to get myself in gear in 2013 to prevent a repeat of 2012, which was ... a whole lotta nothing, really. Which is not to say awesome things didn't happen this year, or that I didn't grow as a person, but in a lot of ways I'm in the same position I was when I wrote this, and that's not good. The main difference is that I'm in a better position now to be more proactive when it comes to developing skills and achieving goals than I was two years ago -- or at least, I hope so. ._.,

Of course I need to work on the important things, like being more proactive in looking for jobs, volunteer work, and grad schools, cooking, taking better care of myself (including hopefully joining a gym), and driving. But I've also created a huge backlog of books I want to read, movies and TV shows and anime I'd like to watch, music I'd like to listen to, video games I'd like to play, etc. Far too often I put these things off to one side saying to myself, "I'll deal with this later," and I never do; instead, I end up constantly feeling bored, doing nothing, and wanting to do nothing. So maybe trying to get through that backlog should help? (Oh yeah, and fitting in some time to write while I'm at it. :P)

Anyway, I hope everyone reading this has a Happy New Year, and that if your 2012 was meh like mine, I hope 2013 will be better for you. ;-)

••• Finally, some more articles and links you might be interested in:

--This Tiny Gizmo Could Be a Very Big Deal in 2013 -- And Beyond (I know I already posted something about this on my Tumblr, but it seems so interesting enough it's worth bringing up again, especially since this article goes into greater detail, and it reveals it'll only cost around $70)
--27 Science Fictions That Became Science Facts in 2012
--Should Buddhist Meditation Make You Happy? (I don't think I've read a better explanation of what meditation is supposed to do before, or what benefits it's supposed to bring)
--Hacking the Human Brain: The Next Domain of Warfare (DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD:)
--No Longer Vaporware: The Internet of Things Is Finally Talking
--Videogames Do Belong in the Museum of Modern Art
--'Brighter than a full moon': The biggest star of 2013 could be Ison, the comet of the century
--Amazing new house proves that green doesn't have to mean expensive


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)
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)


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