Monday, December 13, 2004

2004 Roundup

Because I wasn't invited to today's meeting. I have mixed feelings. That aside... here's a yearly round-up questionairre via Vandermeer:

1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?

Took up martial arts and boxing, started a blog, got a story published in Strange Horizons, got the most "this is a great story that I can't publish" personal rejection letters ever. Went to Wiscon.

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I joined an MA school and *tried* to sell my book. Those were the big ones. I also got hired as a "real" employee at my job. This has probably been my first year as a "real" adult with a "real" job and extracurricular activities that are moving forward.

Next year, I need to finish and sell Jihad. And I want 3 short fiction sales. Also, I plan on dropping back the last two sizes to get me back to my Alaska fighting shape. This means bike riding more, and more boxing sparring, which I've been lax on.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! My buddy Patrick and his wife Karin are now raising up Little G.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. But somebody's going to jail. Anyway, the holidays aren't over yet.

5. What countries did you visit?

Does Wisconsin count? Also went to Vegas, which is also very like another country. Oh. And I saw Indiana, where the Bush voters live.

Seriously another country.

6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?

Traveling money and time. And a more out-going personality. Can I get one of those in my stocking?

7. What dates from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Election day, cause it sucked. The week I was sick with laryngitis, a sinus infection, and an ear infection just after Wiscon, because I spent the entire time psyching myself up to start kickboxing. And the day of my buddy Stephanie's wedding was truly awesome: one of those weddings that proves to the cynical (like me) that there really is such a thing as a gloriously happy wedding day that isn't marred by unwanted pregnancy, unhappy brides, bickering bridesmaids, spastic or drunk family members, or vindictive, back-stabbing friends.

Probably one of the few times in my life where I've been at a gathering of people that was really, truly happy.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Six months of mixed martial arts training. It's made a huge difference

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not selling a book or a story, or getting an agent. Three sales last year: nothing this year, though the SH story showed up in February, they bought it last December.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yea. Aforementioned week confined to bed due to a series of illnesses that all piled on at once.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My tablet PC.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Pretty much everyone's. A bunch of my Clarion buddies had great things happen. Greg sold a story to Sci Fiction, Patrick sold a couple stories to Amazing Stories, Julian got accepted to Oxford, Jenn got her Master's certificate, Inez just landed a great job, and back home, my buddy Stephanie got married.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My sister's still running after a loser guy. The same loser guy.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Books. Student loans. Martial arts school fee.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Finishing the big rewrite of book one of the fantasy saga.

16. What song will always remind you of 2004?

The Secret Machines "Nowhere Again."

17. Compared to this time last year, you are:

Stronger, denser, more self-confident, slightly better read. Also, much better at games.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

More writing. More MA classes. Wish I would have started French. Wish I could get that Planned Parenthood volunteer app. to load correctly. Wish I made more money. Wish I'd paid off more of my student loans.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Less angsting about stupid things, like height, weight, and dating. Should have spent less time playing games at work.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I'll be going back to WA state for a week so I can clean my parents' house.

22. Did you fall in love in 2004?

Oh, at least two or three times.

23. How many one-night stands?

::snicker:: For an SF girl, I sure am a prude about casual sex.

24. What was your favorite TV program?

There's actual shows on TV? Well, the one I've seen the most of is Lost.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

No. The same people who were blowhards last year are blowhards this year.

26. What was the best book you read?

Ack. I'm always reading The Hours (I just keep it by my bed, and when I get to the end, I just start over). But this year's favorite discoveries were Balzac, Vandermeer, Bishop, and Joanna Russ's nonfiction, particularly On Strike Against God and What Are We Fighting For?.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

The Secret Machines.

28. What did you want and get?

A job that pays my bills, and some happiness, however fleeting.

29. What did you want and not get?

Agent/book contract, you know, the usual.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Well, favorites that I *saw* this year: Run Lola Run, followed closely by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I did absolutely nothing for my birthday. I think I bought some food or something. My roommate wrapped up two books and gave them to me. I got quite teary-eyed about it, because I hadn't gotten her anything for her birthday. I turned 24 this year.

32.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?


33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?

Hats. Particularly, newsboy caps. And coats. Boys' coats and striped scarves. Also, boots with good square heels.

34. What kept you sane?

The usual. Writing. This year, that included blog writing.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Kate is the best. As always. But I did officially fall in love with Paul Bettany this year.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

The election sucked ass. The erosion of women's rights continues to trouble me.

37. Who did you miss?

My buddy Stephanie, back in WA state, and my buddy Julian, now rowing his heart out at Oxford while writing a Ph.D. dissertation.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Sifu Katalin & the Amazons.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004:

Here's this year's: there are often long stretches of downtime on the road to where you're going. You know, those long stretches of highway between New York and LA, or the shitty stretches of nowheresville between Seattle and Chicago - but those distances, those driving times, are neccessary to get to where you need to go.

2004 has been a shitty stretch of midwestern highway, with road stops along the way like Toledo's Tallest Tree & Billy Bob's Lint Museum, intercut by signposts that say stuff like "Civilization: 2000 miles," and the car has mostly run pretty good, but it overheated once (luckily, I keep a couple gallons of water in the back), and got a couple of flats (ever since my roadtrip to Skagway, I keep two spares in the trunk), and there was the odd problem with something hanging off the engine that was resolved by tying a couple of choice parts back together with a shoelace before I got to stop off at the shop and get it fixed proper, and I didn't stop for any hitchhikers along the way, but I felt bad about it. I'm now consulting a really confusing map somewhere in the Salt Flats of Utah on my way to the ocean, and yea, I'm stronger and more confident, and I'm getting better rejection slips, but I can't see the ocean yet, likely because I'm just not ready to see it yet. Likely because I need to pick up a few hitchhikers and learn how to play the harmonica and trade in the car for a motorcycle, but I switched from fast-food to granola bars sometime back, and I've got better shoes and a good pair of sunglasses, and there's nothing so cool as arriving at the seashore on a sweet-ass motorcycle, wearing a floppy newsboy cap as my striped scarf streams behind me, and maybe that's the whole point.

There's a place I want to be. This is the road I'm taking to get there.

I don't mind that it's a long road. It just means I'll be a more interesting person by the time I get there.


A Perfect Circle has a remix of Lennon's "Imagine" (and, uh... check out the very familiar propaganda posters they've got scrolling over their front page. I laughed and laughed)

I'm usually not a fan of remixes, but I've had this one on repeat all day.

Makin' the Crazy

One of my favorite studies on caloric restriction and the effects of dieting on appetite, metabolism, and brain function is actually 50 years old. Ancel Benjamin Keys, PhD., did a groundbreaking study about the effects of a restricted calorie diet on healthy men during a 6-month period.

I'm very, very thankful that he did this study on men, cause you can bet that if it'd been a bunch of women consuming 1600 calories a day (which, these days, is considered a pretty liberal "diet"), the amount of freak-out hysteria he found would have been attributed to the fact that his patients were women.

Check it out:

Young male volunteers, all carefully selected for being especially psychologically and socially well-adjusted, good-humored, motivated, active and healthy, were put on diets meant to mimic what starving Europeans were enduring, of about 1,600 calorie/day -- but which included lots of fresh vegetables, complex carbohydrates and lean meats. The calories were more than many weight loss diets prescribe and precisely what's considered "conservative" treatment for obesity today. What they were actually studying, of course, was dieting -- our bodies can't tell the difference if they're being starved voluntarily or involuntarily! Dr. Keys and colleagues then painstakingly chronicled how the men did during the 6 months of dieting and for up to a year afterwards, scientifically defining "the starvation syndrome."

As the men lost weight, their physical endurance dropped by half, their strength about 10%, and their reflexes became sluggish -- with the men initially the most fit showing the greatest deterioration, according to Keys. The men's resting metabolic rates declined by 40%, their heart volume shrank about 20%, their pulses slowed and their body temperatures dropped. They complained of feeling cold, tired and hungry; having trouble concentrating; of impaired judgment and comprehension; dizzy spells; visual disturbances; ringing in their ears; tingling and numbing of their extremities; stomach aches, body aches and headaches; trouble sleeping; hair thinning; and their skin growing dry and thin. Their sexual function and testes size were reduced and they lost all interest in sex. They had every physical indication of accelerated aging.

But the psychological changes that were brought on by dieting, even among these robust men with only moderate calorie restrictions, were profound. So much so that Keys called it "semistarvation neurosis." The men became nervous, anxious, apathetic, withdrawn, impatient, self-critical with distorted body images and even feeling overweight, moody, emotional and depressed. A few even mutilated themselves, one chopping off three fingers in stress. ­They lost their ambition and feelings of adequacy, and their cultural and academic interests narrowed. They neglected their appearance, became loners and their social and family relationships suffered. They lost their senses of humor, love and compassion. Instead, they became obsessed with food, thinking, talking and reading about it constantly; developed weird eating rituals; began hoarding things; consumed vast amounts of coffee and tea; and chewed gum incessantly (as many as 40 packages a day). Binge eating episodes also became a problem as some of the men were unable to continue to restrict their eating.

So... the dieting industry keeps itself in business by encouraging the binge/purge cycle of starvation. And dieting men and women are more likely to be weak(er) and more hysterical than average.

Excellent. We'll be less likely to make informed political decisions. Old White Rich Guys must love this.

WTF `04, indeed.

Why Women Appear to Be Crazy - Just Like Everyone Tells Us We Should Be!

Amanda regularly takes "advice" columns directed toward women and their hetero dating habits to task. If you're not following these (particularly if you're a guy), you should.

With advice like this, it's no wonder a lot of guys keep telling me that they find women really confusing (I've never found myself very confusing) and women feel so confused. Look at all these mixed messages about women's "proper" social behavior and then tell me how anybody connects with anyone else anymore:

To sum up: To make a man love you, come on strong and then ignore him so he wonders if he did something wrong. When you do consent to go out on a date with him, wait with an expectant look on your face for favors while declining to do anything nice for him yourself. Then stare at him lovingly like he was the last man on Earth. What kind of man could resist? Well, besides the ones who are too smart to hang out with crazy people.

Shit, throw out that Cosmo. Don't read dating advice at MSN. You'll become one of those people hovering over the telephone every night. I was channel flipping last week and found the authors of He's Just Not That Into You fielding questions from Oprah's audience. One woman stood up and said she was a lawyer, and that for the first couple of dates she had with a guy, she tried really hard not to mention it, and if she was online dating, her friends told her not to put that she had any post graduate work, "Just put college or some college," her friends told her. "Otherwise, no guy is going to go out with you."

I wanted to throw something at the TV. All the time and money and hard work and cramming sessions, and we're reduced to this: lying about how smart we can get some lame underachiever into bed. As if that were really difficult. Can't we all just act like nice people, and hang out with other nice people, and be nice and respectful and have fun learning from each other and spending time together?

Ah, yes. But "we're all just looking for respectful affection from a healthy, intelligent partner(s) who isn't boring" doesn't sell magazines. I keep forgetting.

Margaret Sanger & Radical Feminism & Silencing History & All That Jazz

Margaret Sanger (1879–1966)

Stumbled across this, and it reminded me of a couple of my posts: "On Merit. And Sex. Of Course" and "More On Why Power is All About Women." Just to reiterate, once again, that there's nothing new under the sun.

Just keep saying the same damn things, over and over and over again, until we reach critical mass. Or something:

THE MOST far-reaching social development of modern times is the revolt of woman against sex servitude. The most important force in the remaking of the world is a free motherhood. Beside this force, the elaborate international programmes of modern statesmen are weak and superficial. Diplomats may formulate leagues of nations and nations may pledge their utmost strength to maintain them, statesmen may dream of reconstructing the world out of alliances, hegemonies and spheres of influence, but woman, continuing to produce explosive populations, will convert these pledges into the proverbial scraps of paper; or she may, by controlling birth, lift motherhood to the plane of a voluntary, intelligent function, and remake the world. When the world is thus remade, it will exceed the dream of statesman, reformer and revolutionist.

Her whole book, Woman and the New Race (1920) is online here.

Revenge of the Media

No. I'm not watching Earthsea tonight, in all it's whitewashed glory. Author Nalo Hopkinson and Leguin each rant about it. Remind me never to sell the rights to anything I've written that's really close to my heart. I'll end up screaming at the television (apparently, according to the director, it's a "multicultural" adventure because there are British and American actors in it hahaha hahaaha).

Speaking of moving pictures, the trailer for War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise is out. In true conservative SF fashion, all of "mankind" and "men" and "man" are in trouble, according to the voice-over. I always wonder what all the women are doing when the men are out getting slaughtered. Oh, yes, that's right. That's how I got interested in my research topics.... try watching Cold Mountain instead. There are actually people in that movie. For an urban guerilla movie, check out Guerrila, which looks cool.

Nicola Griffith has an excellent, excellent essay called "Alien in Her Own Tongue" about the frustration with the proliferation of "he"s in the media. This article really resonated with me, and helped me figure out what was bothering me about all the he-man language. I haven't backed down in my defense of neutral pronouns since.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to plug some books I haven't read but know will be good because... because... I just do. I had to cancel my recent order due to money constraints, but on it was Catherynne Valente's book The Labyrinth, which you can order at a slight discount from Nightshade Books . Also, Vandermeer & Friends (& Co. & Conspirators? et. al? it's actually edited by Jason Erik Lundberg) also have a new book out, a quirky mix of fiction and recipes which looks like a lot of fun - check out Scattered, Covered, Smothered.

Big Dogs in Town

The Big Dogs from corporate are in town today, so it's been a bit of a "busy" (this is a relative term) morning, prepping some stuff for Blaine, my boss. I've got a few hours before their plane shows up, but they'll be here all week, so things could be busy with meetings I'm invited to... or not. I really never know. Just a head's up.

We're doing a bunch of heavy restructuring, as we've just signed a nationwide contract. My boss has moved from Senior Project Manager to VP Business Development since I've been here, and the VP of Wireless North America - let's call him Mosh - wants to put me back more firmly into the wireless team and ease up on my "support" function for my boss, because really, Blaine doesn't use me all that much, and I'd be way better as a Project Support Manager better melded with the corporate wireless team. This also means that when I'm ready to move in a year and a half, it'll be easier to switch offices. I wouldn't mind working at corporate. They're out of Colorado.

So I'll be meeting - let's call him Piper - the Senior Project Manager (wireless) for North America today, who'll be my new boss. Yellow's also going to be moving up in the world - they're giving him Project Manager North America for this project, so we'll both be reporting to Piper.

On the phone, Mosh made it sound like this was a Big Promotion for me (we'll likely be hiring on other people to take over some of my prior duties - you know, back when I *had* duties, six months ago), and he wanted to sit down and talk to me about my "career."

You better bet I'll be asking for a crapload more money. Especially if they give me my own support staff.

Muwahhaa haha aha

More later. Linkdump coming up.