unicorns, bisexuals, and facebook.

[redacted a whole section about a random FB disagreement, let’s get to the critique about Josh Weed’s Club Unicorn post]

I am somewhat disturbed about the fact that Josh Weed’s number one reason for choosing a traditional hetero relationship over his stated preference is because of religious belief, and I really, take issue with his resistance to the label “bisexual.”

The religion thing bothers me, I think, because of my own upbringing in the LDS religion. There were many experiences over the years that slowly took me down the path of truth, but the cumulative affect was that, well, the church is false.

Joseph Smith married girls as young as 14. He blackmailed the brethren into letting him sleep with their wives. Contrary to all the church martyr myths I was taught, Joseph Smith actually did defend himself in Carthage Jail that fateful night.

But that’s not all — it’s all the odd coincidences, too. Oh, what’s that, Emma Smith? You don’t like tobacco smoke and/ or spit? And “suddenly” the prophet gets revelation that will make his wife stop nagging him. Handy.

Oh, what’s that Utah? You want to become a state? And “suddenly” polygamy is no longer okay. Handy.

Oh, what’s that, LDS church? Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, and in 1978 — 14 years later — god suddenly decided it was “time” to let blacks have the priesthood? It might have been a more convincing “prophesy” if it had preceded the Civil Rights Act. Just sayin’.

Check out the 1890 Manifesto sometime, though — it pretty clearly allows a loophole for polygamy to return. Maybe that’s why mormons are so scared of gay marriage — if gay marriage passes, who’s to say they won’t find themselves in the awkward position of trying to fight polyamorous relations next?

Anyway, the long and short of it is that religion seems mostly a tool to make good people do bad things. A lot of religious teachings tend to promote self-loathing, bigotry, and guilt. I can understand being part of a church for the community, or because you want to be involved in charity and don’t know how to find secular charities.

I understand religious ritual can be soothing, and prayer can be like meditation. I get all that–I just don’t get basing things like your morals, personal happiness, and love relationships on anything other than your own conscience. So, yeah, it seriously bothers me this guy lists his number one reason for not being in a gay relationship as his religion.

Secondly, I really take issue with his resistance to the label “bisexual.”

We already have a kind of biphobic societal vibe goin’ on. It’s kind of disgustingly annoying how many people (including therapists) try to insist bisexual guys are gay and in the closet. In my own experience, for a little while there, it was basically the available research vs. my guy’s word. The (scant) research available when he came out claimed women are “sexually fluid” and that guys are not. This made no sense to me — based both on logic and personal experience, such statements are irrational. If anything, it makes more sense to assume that most people are bisexual (ranging from 2-5 on the Kinsey Scale), with only a small percentage identifying as completely gay or completely straight.

Let’s face it, if you’re anywhere up to about a 3 on the Kinsey Scale, it’s easy to just go with the default and identify as straight, because it’s socially acceptable. And once you’ve joined Team Het or Team Rainbow, any indication of interest in the opposing team gets you labeled as either in denial/ in the closet/ self-hating.

So … if you go through all the social ostracization etc. of coming out as gay or lesbian, are you really going to “betray” your team, your chosen community, by saying, “Oh, wait, um, I was wrong. Kinda. It turns out I like ladies and gents.”

So my theory is that right now, too many people are threatened by the bisexuality label. They think it takes something away from their identities and chosen families. Both the pro-gay and the anti-gay movements fear the fluidity of bisexuality. Interestingly, Josh Weed and bisexuals I talk to pretty much describe their attraction in similar terms:

“Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. I won’t get into the boring details of the research here, but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love.” — Josh Weed, Club Unicorn

Yeah. I’ve been told, numerous times, that it’s not the bits that matter so much as the personality. We’ve talked about attraction and bisexual stereotypes– like the idea that bisexuals want to sleep with anything that moves and are born cheaters. I guess the best way to explain that is to ask if you want to sleep with every single member of your preferred gender. Probably not. Because you have standards.

I’m not saying physical attraction doesn’t play a role– we’ve all been in that awkward situation with a friend where one had stronger feelings than the other, and in those cases it’s often that while the personalities click, there’s just no chemistry.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Long story short, I think this Josh Weed guy is bisexual. Maybe a 5 or 6 on the Kinsey scale. I think he’s contributing to biphobia by pretending he’s not, and he’s not helping the LGBT community, either. His “revolutionary” self-outing as a gay man in a happy straight relationship is neither revolutionary nor new. Furthermore, he doesn’t need to term himself “Club Unicorn.” First off, because he keeps insisting he’s not bi, so he should probably not use bi slang to for his brand new club.

And second, because there’s already a term for this kind of relationship. It’s called being in the closet, or faking it til you make it. And you know what? Sometimes those relationships can be happy, because if you marry your best friend it’s probably going to be happy more often than not. If it works for them, it works for them.

I just can’t help but feel it’s really damaging to all the in-the-closet, bullied, self-loathing LGBT people out there to promote this myth that happiness within a hetero relationship is totally doable and oh-so-easy.

There are far more accounts of failed mixed-orientation marriages than there are like his 10-year-long success story, and I would hope most queer people choose a life partner based not on their religion’s requirements, but on their needs and desires.

in e-reader news

I’m not a fan of Amazon, and this is not something I’m real subtle about. This post pretty well covers my distaste of the company, and it comes down to this:
Amazon is:
  1. A monopsony
  2. A monopoly
  3. An unethical company who discourages competition
I get pretty upset about people wasting their money on the Kindle, mainly because I can’t see why you would buy a format you’re trapped in. The average Joe doesn’t know how to convert files, so when the average Joe buys a Kindle, they’re locked into that format. If they want to switch to a Nook, Sony ReaderKobo Reader, or really any non-Kindle reader, they’re up a creek without a paddle. If, for whatever reason, I ever decide I’m tired of my Nook, I can switch to any other e-reader on the market (with the exception of Kindle) and take my library with me.
Own a Kindle, build your library on a Kindle, and you’re stuck with Kindle. There’s no switching, unless you’re lucky enough to know someone who can break your DRM and convert files for you. I don’t like that. I do not like it when a company sells you a crippled product that prevents the consumer from being able to easily use it. I tend to think (radical, I know) that if I pay for an expensive technology (like an e-reader, music player, or tablet device that plays movies), I should be able to buy and download content from any store I choose.
So, yeah, I dislike the Kindle. However, although the Nook is growing in popularity (and is, in fact, the second most popular e-reader available), and although the Nook was designed by some of the best minds from Silicon valley, and although all the “improvements” Amazon/Kindle has rolled out since the Nook’s initial release in 2009 are just sad mimicries of Barnes & Noble/ Nook innovations, there was still a problem with Nook.
Kindle had gotten in first. They’d come out of the gate strong, priced e-books shockingly low, and took serious financial losses in order to build a customer base of Kindle users. Recall, you can’t easily take your library to another reader. If a consumer bought a Kindle in 2005 and began building their library immediately, they now have a vast library of books incompatible with any other e-reader on the market. If they leave the Kindle, they think they’ll have to leave their books (actually, I think you can root a Nook and put a Kindle app on there to access your Kindle library). Because Amazon/Kindle cornered the e-reader market early, they still dominate (hence both the monopoly and the monopsony). There have been serious concerns that even as awesome and innovative as the Barnes & Noble Nook division has proven themselves, they couldn’t compete against the sheer numbers and heavyweight of Amazon, not to mention Amazon’s willingness to take losses and engage in unethical practices just to get customers to invest in a platform they would then be trapped on.
Well, that problem is no more. Microsoft has thrown their weight in with Barnes & Noble, with a $605-million dollar investment. The chief exec at Barnes & Noble says this partnership will enable them to expand their digital business and reach hundreds of millions of new users through the Windows platform. This is also great timing because the much-anticipated Windows 8 will be coming out soon. Plus, as Microsoft works to become a bigger player in the tablet market, they’ll have access to Barnes & Noble’s massive digital content collection. This whole situation makes me happy.

Book review: Longitude


Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of his Time by Dava Sobel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great book. It’s one of the excellent historical non-fiction books that is really well written and interesting, even if you’re not normally interested in the subject. I can honestly say I have never once wondered about how longitude is determined, or why it matters. Until I read this book, it never occurred to me that longitude was not a historical constant like latitude. I had no idea there was this depth of history and tragedy in the story of determining longitude, and it was damned fascinating. This was well-written, engaging, and enlightening. In other words, awesome!

girls night out

I went camping this weekend with some friends, and John had some one-on-one time with Kidling. I think it’s important to make space for one-on-one time between kid(s) and each parent; too often when it’s kid(s) and both parents, one parent becomes sort of the dominant, “caretaker” personality.
You know, the one who in the infant years reminded the other when it was time to diaper change, feed, or stop for a break. The one who remembered naptimes and carried the diaper bag. As the kid(s) grew, that dominant caretaker parent was the one to remember and enforce bedtimes and homework schedules and doing chores and (when on trips), the one to remind about potty breaks and time to stop and eat (little tummies do not equal adult tummies!) and time to stop and stretch. It breaks down, to some degree or other, in every couple like this. Sometimes the dominant caretaker takes on a lot more responsibility, sometimes the parents are almost equal in this regard — but there’s always one parent who’s a little more caretaker-y. In our case, it’s a pretty even split, maybe 60/40 with me being the dominant caretaker type. This has more to do with me being the sahp than anything. So I was really excited to have this weekend to take a break for myself and let John and Kidling have some much needed bonding time.
The ladies and I headed out to the Cougar Hot Springs in Terwilliger, Oregon. It’s gorgeous out there, really. We found a campsite, and I set up the 6 person tent John had dug out of the garage for us. Meanwhile, the others unloaded the car. Then we headed down to the hot springs, which are clothing optional. On the way up to the campsite and down to the hot springs, we saw someone the park ranger later referred to as “Nature Boy.” He apparently had not read the sign specifying the hot springs and general area within a 50-ft radius were clothing optional, but beyond 50-ft, clothing was required. He was just walking along the highway, balls swingin’ in the breeze, carefree as could be. It was a bit stunning.
At the hot springs, my friends stripped to their altogether. I wasn’t real comfortable with that, personally– it’s an all-ages, co-ed hot spring, so there were other bathers ranging from toddlers to old, old men . Most of the naked bathers were guys, but after my friends stripped, a couple other girls started getting in topless. I found it interesting how the guys seemed to have absolutely no inhibitions with getting up and wandering around buck naked, but the girls always had a towel nearby to cover themselves with when out of the hot springs. I wonder if that’s ingrained socialized modesty, or discomfort at the plethora of naked peen. For me, it was the combination of naked peen and all ages. If it had just been people in the 20-35 range, or just been the ladies, I would have been fine. But to have boys and girls, men and women, ranging from toddler to geriatric — well that was just weird. So I just wore my swimsuit and tried to avoid appearing to either notice or judge the nakedness. We stayed there for about an hour, then headed out.
Back at the campsite, we attempted to make fire, but the wood we’d bought was damp. So we mostly just made smoldering embers and smoke. Occasionally we coaxed a flame with balled up paper and the constant feeding of twigs. I made foil packets of potato, onion, and bratwurst, then fed the fire a steady diet of twigs to cook the food. We also roasted cheddar brats, marshmallows, and I made foil-wrapped bananas stuffed with marshmallow and chocolate chips. The other ladies took shots while I nursed a hard cider, and we discussed feminist theory and MRA’s and misogyny and chemistry (not relationship/ attraction chemistry, but actual chemistry. We had a science/ medical major in our group). We also discussed the depiction of LGBT and bisexuality in popular media. Oh, and we talked about books, literature, and how utterly evil Amazon is. And toilet zombies. So, the usual stuff.
Around 11:30 or so, we turned in. I heard the others still talking, but I conked out pretty quickly. We got up pretty early in the morning, and my friend went for a forest trail run while I fixed breakfast and the third member of our party slept in.
After we finished eating breakfast and packing up the campsite, we went to go home and . . . my friend had locked her keys in the car while we were packing up. We tried calling a tow truck or locksmith, but no signal (and also, insanely expensive for them to drive out there). So with the help of some nearby campers, we smashed a tiny little, like, half-window– the kind where it doesn’t roll down, but it might prop open with a lever? Smashed that, reached inside, and unlocked the door. Another camper took some video, which I will try to figure out how to upload. Fun times.

to shave or not to shave

I just read this really, really cool article called Hair! (Not the Musical). This chick stopped shaving/ waxing etc. for about 18 months, and it’s fascinating to read her reasoning and experiences. She seems very down to earth, funny, and cool.

Source: Vagenda
I have a weird relationship with shaving. On the one hand, like Emer, I know that shaving is social gender construct. I know my disgust toward unshaven legs/ arms is completely indoctrinated by a thousand million different societal messages, both subtle and blatant. I know that, but every time I contemplate intentionally letting it all grow out, I feel a shuddering sense of revulsion. It’s very weird. Sometimes when I’m shaving in the shower, I’ll get this odd urge to just complete strip my body of hair — remove my arm hair and eyebrows and shave my head, too. I know perfectly well I’d look like a freak, but it’s also the logical conclusion to the association that body hair is gross/ unfeminine — if underarm, leg, and pubic hair are considered “gross” and “unfeminine,” why do the forearms, eyebrows, and head escape this judgment?
The first time I shaved, I was 13 or 14. I had fine, soft, pale blonde body hair when I was younger, and often wore shorts or cap sleeve shirts to school. One day a classmate realized my armpits/ legs had fuzz, and started screeching in disbelief in the middle of class, pointing at me and yelling, “You don’t shave?!? Ew!” I felt so embarrassed and confused — up until that point, I didn’t realize I was expected to shave. Everyone knew guys generally shaved their faces (at least, during puberty/ school years), but who shaves their body? That’s ridiculous!

She was so clearly shocked and disgusted, though, that it really impacted me. She wasn’t normally humiliatingly cruel at all– she was outspoken and kind of a badass (in my eyes). One of the popular girls. But she was cool, and usually nice to me. Her name was Dion, and she wore her hair in cornrow braids, had definite eyebrows that were plucked into a surprised arc, and wore bright lipsticks. In other words, she obviously had quite the beauty regime, even in 8th grade. I admired her attitude, how in-your-face she was to teachers and others students. I admired how brave she was, but how she was also normally thoughtful and kind to the less popular kids. So her shocked reaction the day she realized I didn’t shave was all the more devastating, because it wasn’t from one of the cliques or kids I normally tried to avoid because of their cruelty; it was from someone I considered an almost-friend.

I went home and found a razor in the shower– it may have been my sister’s, may have been my brother’s, I don’t know– and I tried to shave. I was so embarrassed that I hadn’t known about this thing that apparently everyone knew about that I didn’t ask anyone for advice on how to do it. I just used soap and cut myself a few times. Over time, I discovered shaving cream, then shaving gels, then after-shaving lotions and so on and so forth.

Source: Fashion Me Fabulous

The first time I was introduced to the concept of women growing body hair to subvert gender expectations was when I was 17 or 18. I really didn’t like my family ward, so I had started attending the Young Single Adults ward with my older sister. There was a young woman in that ward — we’ll call her Daphne, because I can’t remember her name — who was attending the local liberal arts college. I’d never met someone like her at church before, so clearly hippy and counter culture, but so devout at the same time. She wore long, loose maxi dresses in tye-died patterns and chunky leather sandals. She didn’t shave at all or wear nylons, so her armpit hair curled out from the edges of her short-sleeved dresses, while her bare legs flashed fuzz whenever her dress pulled up as she crossed her legs. I asked her why she didn’t shave, and she told me that she had fallen to the temptations of the flesh before, and decided to grow her hair out to signify her second virginity. She would not shave until her wedding night.

It was really an interesting idea to me, because it both reclaimed her personal ownership of her body (nominally for god, but she was the one who chose this unique method of re-virgination), but also because she was subverting socially-constructed gender norms to repel men. Another interesting thing about a woman choosing to grow out body hair in order to repel men is that this is something that could only happen in this place and time in history.

I don’t know how the tactic worked, ultimately. I stopped going to church for a bit (a year and a half), and when I returned she was gone.

Anyway, that’s just some of my own personal experiences with body hair and culture. I’d like to grow out my hair, but I don’t feel brave enough to. I like to wear skirts and tank tops and camisoles, and I don’t like the idea of drawing attention with hairy pits. Emer addresses this:

Q5. Do you actually go out in string tops and shorts with the unsightly keratin-based proof that you have gone through puberty on show for all humanity to see?This is a tricky one. Short answer – no. Cause it’s hard, y’know? It’s not so much the pointing and the laughing. It’s the fact that I’ve been socialised since birth to think that my body hair is unclean and unfeminine and, even though I believe in what I’m doing, when I go out in public something else takes over and I think ‘oh my God look at your legs woman, what is wrong with you?’ I AM THE CAGE.. . .  One of the first lessons the hair taught me is that my clothing puts me on display: bare arms and shoulders, fitted busts and waists, and short skirts with sheer tights – even in winter. I seriously re-examined my wardrobe. Not only did most of my habitual attire display a significant amount of skin, but the body parts on show needed to be ‘feminized’ before they were acceptable for display in women’s clothing at all. There’s a critique of the objectification and commercialisation of the female body under capitalism to be made here, probably, but the editors of Vagenda have asked me not to write like a total dryballs, so if you want to hear it, you’ll have to take me for a pint.

I think that pretty much sums it up. All the pretty clothes show my legs and underarms, and I am supposed to wax, shave, or pluck to be acceptable. Now there’s a trend of wearing skirts sans tights or nylons, so the shaving thing is amped up in importance — no more ignoring a bit of light stumble and throwing on nylons/ tights when you’re feeling lazy; you must be always perfectly hairless and smooth. I still wear nylons and tights, because I like them and if I’m all dressed up in a skirt, I want to look put-together all over. I personally feel bare legs make an otherwise nice outfit look weirdly casual and poorly assembled. Emer addresses the wearing of dresses and make-up, too, and I think she says it best:

Q6. But I have seen you wearing make-up! Are you not a big hairy hypocrite?I like a smidge o’ mascara on a night out, me. I choose to wear make-up. I know this, because I choose not to wear make-up the vast majority of the time. When I leave the house without make-up people don’t point and laugh at me. No-one handed me a Mac lippy the second I hit puberty and told me I had to wear it or everyone would think I was disgusting. I can choose to wear make-up or not wear it. I’m comfortable with that.I’m not waging a war against all things normatively feminine in our society. I like dresses, but I wouldn’t like it if dress-wearing were tacitly compulsory for all vagina-bearers. I would like dresses even better if the men who wanted to wear them could do so in public without fear of ridicule or violence. Fuck body policing! Smash the stupid arbitrary gendered bullshit! Do it wearing whatever the hell you want! Yeah!

Yeah! Fuck the body police! Fuck gender policing! I wear make-up because I choose to — I often don’t wear make-up, and I wear varying amounts of make-up when I do. I sometimes wear dresses because I choose to — I often lounge around the house in skirts because know what? They’re comfy. I do feel bad that guys face so much social prejudice for things like wearing make-up, skirts, or pretty colors. My husband would look amazing if he wore some eyeliner and mascara to highlight his gorgeous eyes and long lashes.

fixing my bike

So, there’s this subreddit called r/samplesize, where you can answer surveys and take quizzes and such. I like surveys, so I’m on there pretty frequently. It’s usually people asking for respondents to a survey for their statistics/ human psych/ sociology class, and they generally do not offer any sort of incentive (other than the love of sharing ones opinion!) for participating.
Well, a week or so ago, I offered to participate in a survey about media consumption and t.v. viewing habits, but this one was a bit more in-depth, with a Skype interview and such. So I got a $20 gift card (Amazon or AMC) for participating. I opted for the Amazon one, which is how I paid for these footpegs:
Through Amazon
I was planning on getting black pegs and handles, but these weren’t available in black (that I could see). These are the Emgo Slash-Cut Style Footpegs. They’re machined aluminum (the OEM ones I broke were forged aluminum, I gather), and they’re compatible with Yamaha R6 and YZF6 up to 2005. Some quick research indicates they’ll be compatible with my 2008 Yamaha FZ6, as well, and a close up of the picture on a different site indicates the same conclusion. They also have pretty positive reviews.
They were $25.60 through Amazon, so I only had to pay $5.60 out of our own pocket with the $20 gift certificate. They’ll be arriving in 3-5 business days. Overall, I’m pretty damn excited, and I should be back on the road soon, thank goodness. I’ll update with whether or not they fit when I actually get them. I’m just so super excite that they’re ordered and on the way!!!

watching t.v. and thoughts on advertising

I’m watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart right now. It’s available on the Comedy Central website. A few years ago, John and I got rid of cable t.v. because it’s insanely and stupidly expensive. We didn’t like paying so much (about $160/month for cable tv and cable internet) for something like 80 – 130 channels — honestly, I can’t recall exactly how many, because who watches all those channels?
There’s like 5 ESPN channels. I don’t even like sports — nobody in our household does — but cable packages include a plethora of channels dedicated to shit we don’t care about. We can’t opt out, we have to have them. I don’t want to pay for MTV or MTV-2, but if I had cable t.v., I wouldn’t have a choice. And even though I was paying out the wazoo, there were still 7-10 minute-long commercial breaks. What the hell? Why am I paying extra for these channels (remember, you do get basic t.v. without having a cable package) if they’re loaded with commercials?!? And why do I have to pay extra-extra for channels like HBO and Showtime, but I still get commercials?
Remember when they started doing that thing where they would play the commercials — about 3 to 5 advertisements — then the musical chime and canned laughter indicating your show was back sounded, but it wasn’t back. It was just a notice saying, “Your programming will return shortly, after these messages,” and then they played more commercials. I hated all those commercials so, so much, so we canceled our cable t.v. package to watch t.v. solely through the internet.

That was when Hulu just started, and their commercials were minimal and usually advertising a nonprofit or something you’d want to hear about. You could watch South Park or Comedy Central programming almost completely commercial free. We had Netflix, too, which doesn’t have commercials at all. Basically, there was this whole setup where you didn’t have a lot of commercials and advertising interrupting your viewing. But that’s changing. Like I said earlier, I’m watching the Daily Show right now, and I just saw 3 commercials in a row.

1. A rip-off of a Saturday Night Live skit, except instead of fake jeans they’re selling Verizon phone plans.

2. A guy marrying a piece of bacon in order to sell Jack in the Box bacon hamburgers. Get it? Get it? Because men are supposed to be afraid of commitment, but Jack in the Box bacon hamburgers are so manly that a man will commit to this shit! So men will commit to meat!

He picked out a tiara and veil for his wedding meat.
image source

3. A woman and a man standing in their yard, playing on their smartphones. A neighbor asks them a question, and they answer, then snark, “So 2 seconds ago.” This situation repeats several times. The commercial is advertising how fast/ awesome AT&T speeds are by having the protagonists — the people we’re supposed to project ourselves onto as phone owners — be complete and utter assholes. This is not a one-off, but a whole advertising campaign:

I just don’t get this trend in advertising. I really, really don’t. I can almost see the adversarial, tearing-down-the-competitor trend we had a few years ago — remember when Quiznos had those “Subway Sucks” commercials? I enjoy Subway, but sometimes I used to eat at Quiznos. After those commercials, I just kind of . . . stopped eating at Quiznos. I don’t know, I felt like the logical conclusion to “Subway sucks,” was an unspoken, “and if you like them, you suck, too! To not suck, eat at Quiznos!

But while I didn’t like that commercial, I could at least see the logic behind it. Quiznos had a short 30 second spot, and they decided it was a better and more efficient use of their time to try to be hip (insulting) instead of going into why they believe their company provides a superior sandwich product and/ or customer experience. Nowadays, so many commercials don’t even give the pretense of saying, “Our competitors suck.” They’re just going, “You consumers suck. You’re awful. You’re assholes and you know it. Buy our shit, because we’re assholes, too . . . just like you!”

Watching commercials these days, you get the sense that not only do the corporations selling us stuff have no idea what the average American’s day-to-day life is like:

5 Hour Energy — “For when you don’t have time for coffee.”
Seriously? Seriously? When you don’t have time for coffee? Who can’t spare 5 minutes here or there?! 
Look at that guy! He sets his alarm, but he’s still too lazy to make coffee! He’s so lazy he doesn’t even have time to stop on the way to work for coffee, or to donate to his company breakroom with decent coffee that he knows everyone will enjoy — but he works at a job that pays enough he can chug a 5 Hour Energy drink costing $3/ apiece every day. He just doesn’t have time for coffee.
Look, don’t sell 5 hour Energy — or any energy drink, really — by saying it’s “easier/ quicker/ better than coffee.” It ignores all the other awesome reasons people drink coffee, like the taste or the cute barista, or that it’s provided free in the breakroom. If you’re selling your product by dogging on the ubiquitous coffee, at the very least try pointing out how global climate change is depleting the world’s coffee and chocolate crops, so in a few years we may not even have the option of a morning mocha — so make the switch to 5 Hour Energy now and save the planet!
You actually get the sense the corporations actively despise us. They think we’re lazy, self-involved, rude, and selfish. Protagonists of commercials, in trying to depict the everyguy or everygal, often end up depicting some of the most disliked and derided stereotypes, and it’s just sad. Why would I want to buy something from someone who clearly thinks I’m crap? And I’m hardly the first person to say this, so why aren’t advertisers changing their tactics?
I like Costco. Costco doesn’t advertise. Customers talk about how awesome Costco is, or the latest deal they picked up at Costco, and it spreads through word of mouth how awesome that place is. The closest thing they have to an advertisement is that coupon booklet they give you at the store, or the Costco Connection magazine. Why can’t more corporations rely on the quality of their goods and service to bring in customers?
As for television, I’d like them to deregulate the cable packages. I like it when I can access the shows I want, when I want. I’d gladly pay HBO directly to have HBOgo, and never have to deal with cable t.v. or all those other ridiculous channels I don’t want. I’d pay $2 – $5 extra a month on my Netflix streaming account to have HBO and Showtime and AMC stream commercial-free episodes to Netflix the same night they air on television. I’m tired of not having any real choice in my internet/ t.v. provider or the offered t.v. packages. All the rebranding in the world doesn’t change the fact that Comcast sucks.

found! (fun with euphemisms)

Found this on reddit:

From a Psychology of Women textbook, it’s a list of euphemisms for menstruation. The list includes these euphemisms (commentary in italics is all mine):

Bunny time (Australia) I don’t get this one.
Monthlies (Australia)
Mary is visiting (Belgium)
I have my moon (Canada) I love this, but I’m picturing carrying around a little handheld moon in my pocket.
Blowjob time (England) It’s funny cause it’s true.Blobbing (England) What? I don’t even . . . what?!Lingonberry days (Finland) Hahahaha! . . . I will never look at lingonberry jam the same.Japanese week (Germany) Because of the red dot on the Japanese flag? This just seems wrong.Monthly tax (Germany) I like this one.Cranberry woman (Germany)
Casual leave (India)
Out of doors (India)
Aunty Mary (Ireland)
Jam Rag (Ireland) very unpleasant visual.Cookies (Mexico) How did cookies and menstruation even get associated? I’m confused.Little Miss Strawberry (Japan)
Ketchup (Japan)
The tomato soup overcooked (Netherlands) Why do so many reference food?!? Stop it!
Mrs. Noodles (New Zealand)
Doing time (Nigeria) As in prison time? Like punishment?I have the red label in the old typewriter (Portugal)
Aunt Bertha (Scotland) People hate their aunts, I swear — Aunt Mary, Bertha, and Flo came for a visit and everyone got angry.
My aunt parked her red porsche outside (South Africa)
Granny came in a red Ferrarri (South Africa)
Wearing the red beret (Vietnam) I wonder if this is related to the uniforms of invading armies in any way.
The curse (United States) This makes me think of the Salem Witch Trials.The plague (United States) This makes me think of the Black Death and those crazy bird masks.Aunt Flow (United States)
Riding the cotton pony (United States) This makes me think of a Native American warrior riding a paint  pony.On the red (United States) I’ve always heard it ‘on the rag’.Shark Week (United States) This is almost as funny as ‘vampire’s teabag’ to me.

source: Museum of Menstruation & Women’s Health.

Euphemisms fascinate me. I tend to be exceedingly polite in public situations, but kind of sailor-y in my private speech. I use euphemisms for a lot of stuff actually — I have my “monthlies,” or it’s “that time.” I enjoy “intimate relations” with my husband, or we “do the hippity-dippity.” My nylons are too tight and my “area hurts.” I banged my thumb and yelled, “Jeezy cow on a butter cracker!” or, “Scheiße!” (less euphemism, more translation).

The funny thing is, I generally just use these substitutions in real life. The swearing substitutions I use a little bit on the internet (which is actually kind of weird, come to think of it). It’s interesting to me, though, that I often try to obscure the more controversial parts of my personality in real life. It’s a losing proposition, really, because there will always be someone who’s upset at something you do, so your best bet is to just be someone you’re comfortable with and proud of. I’m still trying to figure out the line — when is a euphemism perpetuating and promoting the idea that something is so shameful it cannot be referred to in direct terms and when is it just being polite or showing basic manners?

For instance, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the human body or breastfeeding. I think moms who breastfeed are awesome and more power to them, and the human body is beautiful and fascinating, flaws and all. But I still don’t like to see a woman breastfeeding in public — I’m not talking about the discreet, polite, shawl-over-the-babies head breastfeeding; that’s fine. I’m talking about a woman popping out her boob right in the middle of a restaurant/ mall/ park, latching the baby on and breastfeeding with her boobs exposed in full view of everyone.

And I can’t even really verbalize or explain why, other than I think it’s rude. I think it’s rude for someone (male or female) to walk shirtless into a sit-down dining establishment. I think it’s rude to wear heavy perfume in public areas. I think it’s rude to swear in public areas. I don’t think any of these things are, in and of themselves, inherently wrong. I don’t think it’s wrong to go shirtless say, on the beach. I don’t think it’s wrong to wear heavy perfume if you enjoy the smell and are planning on staying home all day so as not to trigger allergy attacks in strangers. I don’t think it’s wrong to swear.

I just think sometimes an action appropriate for one situation is not appropriate for another, and sometimes people get this weird idea that their rights are being infringed on if they’re asked to conform (nicely) to a harmless social nicety.

At the same time, this view makes me uncomfortable, because it’s the rabble-rousers, it’s the people who said, “Why shouldn’t I wear pants instead of skirts?” or, “Why do I have to wear a corset?” that set us on the path leading to me being able to wear jeans and enjoy freedom of movement.

So just because I personally feel uncomfortable with a strange woman flashing her boobage in the park, or overhearing a stranger in a bathroom stall yammer on about their yeast infection — does that mean I have the right to silence them? If they feel comfortable airing their most private information in public, who am I to say no? Maybe these people are, in some incomprehensible way, setting the path for the freedoms of tomorrow. I really can’t see how, but it’s feasible, right? Right?

on home ownership, PNW living, and motorcycles

I love living in the PNW. It’s friggin gorgeous out here. Since moving out of the house everything has been easier, even winters. It used to be I hated winters out here, all rainy and cold and wet. Now that we live in a rental in the city, the feeling of being “stuck” is gone. Home mortgages really suck, you know? I mean, they’re essentially 30-year rental contracts, with the option to own at the end. I know, I know, there’s all this other stuff involved with equity and perceived investment and blah blah blah, but the way I see it is this:
  • Society is more mobile now. We don’t buy a home with the intention to live there, retire there, and have our children raise their children there. We buy a home with the hope we’ll be able to sell it for some sort of profit in 5, 10, 20, 30 years. It’s ridiculous.
  • We tend to calculate the value of the home in terms of purchased price vs. sold price. We don’t factor in sunk costs for repair, renovation, interest paid, etc.
  • The idea of home ownership as a measure of success is a societal myth we built and perpetuated on ourselves, and has no bearing on reality.
I mean, if I live in a home, I have to pay “rent” (mortgage) to the mortgage company, who can and will sell my note to anyone they choose. We bought our home through First American, who sold it to Chase the day we moved in, who sold it to Litton Loan, who sold it to Ocwen. We didn’t get a say in any of this. We never even made a mortgage payment to First American, because they sold our loan immediately to Chase. I have to do my own repairs or pay a guy to do them — roofing, plumbing, etc. With a rental, my landlord provides a handyman and I gotta say, this is an aspect of renting that is highly underrated.
If I want to move (transfer for work, maybe?) or I get cabin fever from the same walls and layout every day, I have to either commute or deal with it until we can find a buyer. With a rental, you just look for a new place.
Oh, and you know how they sell your note? Believe it or not, the personality/ values of your mortgage company matter. I know it doesn’t seem like it’d effect you like a petty landlord does, but it turns out that some mortgage companies will work with you to overcome bad times, while some level fees against you and stick hard-and-fast to the rules until you have no choice but to foreclose. It has the overall negative effect and stress a bad landlord does, except a mortgage company can ruin your credit and send you into foreclosure. So there’s that.
I know, not exactly on target, but still hilarious.

I digress, though. This wasn’t supposed to be a post about home ownership, mortgage companies, and why I think renting > buying when it comes to living spaces. This was supposed to be a post about gorgeous PNW spring weather and how I want to ride my motorcycle.

I mean, seriously, it’s insane out there — the trees are budding leaves of green, and the sky arches blue and cloudless overhead. The pavement radiates warmth from the 70 degree sunshine. In the PNW, our roads curve and twist in spirals and loops both long and tight — with mountains and varying terrain everywhere, every motorcycle ride is both an adventure and an exercise in skill.

Source: A View of the World

We could ride to the ocean and talk to the instructors at the Grays Harbor MSF Course, who taught me how to ride. We could ride to Mt. Baker  or Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Rainer and enjoy the scenic vistas. If we had motorcycle insurance (Washington is one of the few states that does not require motorcycle insurance), we could ride to Portland, Oregon and browse Powells Bookstore for a bit — and we could do any one of these during the 7 hours or so Kidling is in school, and still have time for coffee.

Unfortunately, I can’t ride. Besides the obvious (footpeg being broken), I actually need to grab some riding gear, too. My helmet is about 4 years old by this point, and you’re supposed to replace it every 2-4 years, or immediately after an accident. John needs to replace his, too — his was on sale at something like 75% off for being unsold inventory when he bought it, so it’s actually about 6 years old. I need new boots, and we both need new summer gloves. Also, I need to adjust my chain, because it’s a little loose. And getting that motorcycle insurance wouldn’t go amiss.
So there are actually several reasons I allegedly couldn’t ride today — but let’s be honest, the chain adjustment is easy to do, and if my footpeg wasn’t broken, we’d adjust my chain and be off. I’ve decided I’m going to replace my clutch/ brake controls and the footpegs with matte black versions instead of the silver versions. I also want to get new gear.
I just realized all the gear I want is black. That’s . . . interesting. I wonder if that says something about my character or outlook on life. Most gear (when marketed to girls) seems to feature flowers, pink camo, and just various shades of pink. I’m not really a fan of flowers, pink, or camo, so I tend toward the neutral-toned gear.

plans change . . .

So I was going to do this year by year series of posts in honor of our 11 year wedding anniversary, covering all the stuff John and I have gotten through together. I wrote up to year 8, and I realized it just wasn’t working for me. The posts were too short; they didn’t allow room for any motivations or interpretations but mine. The experiences sometimes cast people we interacted with in a bad light — sometimes people I love, sometimes people I don’t particularly care about, but don’t want to humiliate, especially on a searchable blog.
I’ve been told by several people — teachers, friends, readers — that I should just compile all this stuff into a book. Frankly, I’m baffled (and delighted!) this blog has as many readers as it does, and is continuing to gain readers — I have a hard time believing anyone would want to read about my personal tragedies and hardships in book form. Then again, each draft post is basically the outline to a chapter, so maybe I should try my hand at it. Who knows.
So instead, I’ll just put the drafts in my documents to revisit later and share some links right now. Today we went clamming as a family, so I’m going to be making clam chowder. I like to use an altered version of this recipe from Allrecipes.com. The clams were huge, and we got one catch limit (40 clams). Both John and I have licenses, and with Kidling being under 14, we could have gotten 80 or 120 clams . . . but I’m not okay with that. I don’t see catch limits as “this is the minimum amount we are allowed,” but more as, “this is the maximum amount we are allowed, but we shouldn’t catch more than we’ll eat.“. We have enough clams for chowder, fried clams, and maybe garlic clam sauce over spaghetti.
Anyway, I’m all sticky with sunscreen, sweat, and saltwater, so I’m just going to go settle down with my Nook and read for a bit. I’ll leave you with some of the stuff I’ve been reading this week:

This breaks down the difference in Republican and Democrat-supported bills that effect families and the ability of moms to work. Basically, liberals and moderates in general pass more family-friendly bills that make daycare affordable, raise child tax credits, and make it easier for mothers to get educated, employed, and paid fairly. Hard-right conservatives, on the other hand, tend to promote and vote for bills that  have an end result of gouging middle class families.

Author Charlie Stross explains how by relying on disintermediation, Amazon has become both a monopoly and a monopsony — in other words, Amazon.com has taken advantage of  the changes retail internet sales precipitated to institute a situation where they both control the suppliers and what is offered to consumers, resulting in less market competition and consumer choice. He suggests that traditional publishing and bookstores can save themselves and move into the future by removing DRM restrictions and no longer treating ebooks like software. I agree, but I’d also add that I think it’s about time we start automatically charging sales tax to internet sales based on the zip code of the of the purchasing credit card and/or shipping address. Amazon has shafted traditional retail far too long in this regard.

Long story short, this NYT article covers the difference in mindset between creation of the Nook vs. the creation of the Kindle. If you want the short version: The Nook comes from a love of reading, literature, and bookstores, as well as the desire to preserve and promote growth in these areas. The Kindle comes from a desire to make money and corner the market share of readers.

So . . . read, enjoy, comment, share the word. And try that clam chowder, because it is delicious.