Friday, February 28, 2014

dashing through the snow

here's a little video that shows all the fun of climbing up a snowbank so we can ski on the other side.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

halfway there

i am working on a little geocache challenge, and quite frankly sometimes it feels more like a job than it does a game.

there is a challenge cache near my house for which you need a caching streak that's longer than your longest caching slump. a streak is a number of consecutive days with cache finds. a slump is a number of consecutive days without.

my slump is 236.

i looked at my goal number for that challenge, 237, and i thought: i will NEVER get that.

today is day 119.

granted, you won't have to do every cache, but i'm trying to pick up a challenge i like that will go easier if i can do the challenges near my house. and i have another little cache project i'm working on that i'm not talking about, plus i have decided that i want to finish out the year with an average of 3 caches found per day, for no particular reason.

the weight of the world and the weight of my illness hangs kind of heavy on me sometimes, and having a project helps.

today is day 119.

i have plans to go out tonight with my friend barb and do some night caching in stowe. when you hit your halfway mark, you ought to maybe celebrate with a friend. i am going to bring some nice sammidges and maybe a couple of bottles of ginger beer.

because i am halfway to the seemingly impossible goal.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

peggy dow's

once a season i feel i should remind you that i keep a gallery of photos taken from the elbow of peggy dow's, which is a ski trail at bolton valley.

the elbow of peggy dow's is maybe my favorite place on earth, and ricker maybe my favorite mountain.

and also reminding you of the existence of that gallery is a good time to remind you also that there is a video of my love song to that trail and that place. of course, you can only get there by the number one chair.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

budget cuts to military wages

ok, it's not exactly a secret that i'm a pacifist. i don't approve of militarism, and i don't approve of wars. sadly, there are some wars that need to be fought.

i think we haven't been in one since 1945.

mostly wars that are fought for "honor" and "security" are really fought for somebody's money. sometimes wars are fought to pacify and control a domestic population: we're at war! we HAVE to abrogate your rights! we HAVE to spy on our own citizens! for SAFETY! because REASONS!

really it comes down to somebody's money, and often the money of the guys who own the military contract jobs.

like remember that time the army said it didn't want to waste any more money on tanks it neither wanted nor needed, and congress said great. we really need to save money. here are your new tanks?

there are a great number of men and women who are willing to lay down their lives and the dreams and hearts of their families for the sake of defending this country and we keep squandering their blood and body parts and their minds by leaving parts of them in foreign deserts so that big corporations can make obscene profits by taking whatever they want by force and calling it the "global war on terrorism".

and now the gubmint is talking about cutting the pay and benefits of the very soldiers whom they engage to fight in its name because it needs to SAVE MONEY.

are you kidding me?

that obscenity, that never-ending war is  11.26 million dollars AN HOUR.

i'll tell you how to solve that budget problem. stop the fucking war. stop wasting the lives of the people fighting it.

i think there ought to be some new rules: universal draft. if you're going to have a war, everybody's eligible for the draft, no exceptions, no exemptions. i bet congress would think twice before sending off their own kids for the sake of the oil companies.

and the next rule: we pay the salaries and medical costs and job retraining and home costs of our soldiers and veterans BEFORE we pay defense contractors or oil companies, and if there isn't enough money to do that, the defense contractors and oil companies don't get paid.


Monday, February 24, 2014

the shape of the plate

i have realized that when i have a helping of bread pudding, i ought to eat it off of a small plate, and not out of a soup plate, as i used to do.

the reason is simple: it is very hard to completely lick a concave surface.

i know i have helped you.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

dead serious

my friend john is a political prisoner.

the prison system in the US is already brutal and petty and retaliative, and it's not a secret what abuses our prisoners suffer.

do not make the mistake of thinking that i want more fun for criminals; the thing about rule of law is that the law protects all of us. if the law does not protect criminals and guarantee their safety, the law does not protect the rest of us either.

john is in prison because he is the whistleblower that revealed the information that the US government was torturing people in CIA prisons.

revealing the government's illegal and immoral behavior is, of course, a crime.

and if while you're in prison you write letters telling what brutal and illegal treatment you are receiving, the bureau of prisons will retaliate.

i do not know if john will get my next letters, and i do not know if i will hear from him again until he is released.

do not forget him. his name is john kiriakou. don't let him be swallowed whole. he is a national hero. he has a wife and kids. he is my friend.

help him if you can.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

a day and a half of rain

we have temperatures in the high thirties and rain.

i hope i do not need to explain to you what this will do to my snohaus.

later on, it will be cold. not too long, i hope.

Friday, February 21, 2014

osmore pond 9 february

here's an entire day of geocaching by ski condensed into fifteen minutes of norwegian-style video.

(long-form real-time videos of river cruises and multi-day documentaries about firewood or knitting are very popular on norwegian television)

so it's REAL reality video, in which we go skiing and find some geocaches and don't find others and also we replace some that are missing.

we do not create drama like will they fall through the ice? will they get back to the road before they run out of water? and we do not fight or play pranks or do AMAZING things. we just spend a nice day outdoors. this video shows what it was like.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

snohaus 2014

snow farmit has begun. there is FINALLY enough snow on the ground to begin construction of this year's snohaus. each day i move about 650 pounds of snow on this puppy. if you're looking at the photos, 650 pounds does not make a lot of difference.

the key is that at this stage i am building the base, which has to be huge to support both the raised portions and to make the domes safe. it's also very unglamorous at this size, because outside of the stairs, it's still too early to dig in or put on any of the nice architectural touches.

so it's planning and hauling the snow to where i'll need it later.

later on it will be cool.

right now it's just a snowpile.

you can watch its progress here.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

snow and cold

last week i found myself in a brief conversation with someone who had moved to florida. aside from my pathological hatred of florida, i was annoyed because the tone of the conversation suggested that i ought to maybe feel jealous of someone in florida instead of where i live, which is right now blissfully cold and snowy.

i pretended i did not realize what this person was saying, and offered condolences that they'd had to allow a job to relocate them to such an unpleasant place.

"we love the snow", they said, "but we hate the cold".


that's like loving meals but hating food.

the cold is what makes the wonderful, glorious snow possible. the cold is what makes it possible to go out and play in the wonderful glorious snow.

maybe what they meant was "we love to look at snow through windows at christmas but that's about it."

there's a reason i'm nearly fifty years old and never gone to rio or cancun or miami. it's because i cannot imagine wanting to be in any of those places. they have horrid beastly weather in summer, and why on earth would anyone leave somewhere awesome like vermont or minnesota or norway in WINTER? if you leave in winter, you're missing the good part. you are missing the whole POINT.

the list of places i hope never to have to see before i die include australia, mexico, ecuador, morocco, and indonesia.

my list of places i might enjoy going include finland, norway, siberia, alaska, northern ontario, and antarctica.

see a pattern forming here?

meanwhile, i am working on my awesome snohaus. want to know what three tons of snow looks like all piled up? you should come to my yard.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

cabbage eaters

around the world the words "cabbage eaters", "potato eaters" and "garlic eaters" have historically been used to identify poor peasanty people.

yeah? well, get bent. aside from how wrong it is to criticize, humiliate, or dehumanize people on the basis of how much money they do or don't have, those foods are awesome.

want to know what i had for lunch today?

let's back up a little. some days ago i made cabbage and dumplings. this is kind of like the soul food of my pasty slovak ancestors. on the second day, you can take the leftover dumplings and pan fry them until they're browned and then put the heated up cabbage and onions over them.


but if you planned right, you still have some tasty cabbage and onions leftover.

skip to a different thread: i also made hotdogs, mashed potatoes and cheese. and i have leftover mashed potatoes.

so this is an awesome thing to do: stick some of the mashed potatoes in a skillet and fry them without stirring them until they're brown on one side. then flip them over and toss a little salt on. while you're waiting for the other side to brown, put the cabbage and onions in the pan and heat it up.

then slide your mashed potato pancake onto a plate and put the cabbage and onions over it.

oh, my. it is GOOD.

i have no pictures for you, because no matter how good it is, it doesn't look so pretty.

Monday, February 17, 2014

you need this tool

in the second week of januray i saw what is maybe my favorite commercial for a thing ever.

it was clearly intended as an ad before christmas, but it was running afterward for whatever reason.

i only saw it the once, so while it's like to quote it for you, the best i can do is paraphrase:

if you don't have this tool, you should ask for it or buy it for yourself because it's a good tool and it's versatile and well made and you will enjoy using it on your projects. once you have this tool it will become a favorite of yours for years to come and you will find yourself using it more and more because it does a lot of things and is easy to use.

i'd like to say that the down-to-earth tone of it is not a flattening exaggeration on my part. that's really the way the script went.

and instead of showing problems that can only be solved with this tool or emotional needs that can only be met with this tool or how surely your friends would be impressed by it, the video simply showed people working on projects.

it was the most low-key commercial for anything i ever saw. it treated the viewer not as someone who can't manage to fry eggs or close a chip bag or change a lightbulb without special help, but as a competent person who just might want this tool.

this commercial was so effective i wanted to go right out and buy one of these tools, even though i already have one.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


i was going to wait to tell you about our fun and games in groton state forest until i had the video edited.

you know, because naturally you like norwegian-style documentary, which is to say slow-moving films of ordinary things.

but what the heck? if you're a frequent reader of this blog, you are interested in temporal distortions in terms of narrative flow.

yesterday i went up with my friend barb to the groton state forest to ski and look for some geocaches, and i want to tell you more about that, but right now i just want to go all whiny-ass on you and say that i am so sore that it was difficult for me to sleep last night.

typically if i have done some outside activity for eight hours i sleep like a stone.

but oh, no. last night i was so sore i kept waking up.

plus i had to get up in the night to go find food because STARVING.

today i think i will do a lot of sofa surfing.

uh, and oh. i still have to go out and find some geocaches.

and work on snohaus.

i will probably not work so hard on it that i move a half ton of snow or anything, but i gots to do SOME.

it's like a rule or something.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


i want to know if the body has a timed themostat.

usually when i wake up in the morning i have a little breakfast and do some exercises and get dressed to go out to play. by sunrise i am usually well outside, ten below zero or not.

yesterday morning, however, because of the storm i couldn't go out to play in the morning and by eight o'clock i was SWELTERING in shortsleeves and had to keep going outside to shovel and stuff without bothering to put on gloves or even PANTS just to keep from sweating uncomfortably.


not amused.

Friday, February 14, 2014

snow day

well, every school in vermont is closed this morning, as well as a great number of schools in new york and new hampshire.

the thing about vermont school closings is that it's not at all like the georgia school closings we all heard about last week.

here in vermont for the most part people know how to drive on snow, but this morning's forecast has the greatest snowfall volume of the day falling between seven and nine this morning, which is kind of when you'd want to be running those busses.

in burlington the decision point for school cancellation is whether or not crew can clear the sidewalks, since so many of the burlington kids walk to school.

yesterday i went out to do my grocery shopping and find my caches of the day early, so i could be home before the storm started.

today i will simply wait until it;s mostly over to go out.

so far i am not impressed by this storm, but then again, i'm still five hours away from the best part of it. if i can still look out my front windows, i'm not impressed.

i may start my snohaus.

snohaus? you say.

well, last year i started building it and then january thaw destroyed it and we never again had the snow for it.

and the year before i built pretty good, but i didn't show you because there was a thing in which my life was kind of upside-down.

maybe i will get to those pictures.

today i will probably build some and i will sit tight and bake bread and maybe do laundry or clean the bathrooms or something.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

medium size

i was in the dunkin' donuts in downtown barre yesterday where i encountered the idiocy of american marketing, plus just plain idiocy.

the woman asked me what size coffee i wanted.

"small", i said.
"we don't have small. we only have medium, large, and extra large"
"no, you still have small, medium, and large. you've just renamed them." "all right, then."
"well, which do you want?" she asked me with a predatory glee as if she were delighted to be playing against someone so stupid.
"obviously, since you have only three sizes and i asked for a small, you should give me the  smallest of those sizes, regardless of whether you have named your small size 'medium', 'huge', or 'gargantuan'" i'll have the medium, please."

...and then she want and put in my order for a large.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

gender issues: identity

i was trying to think about how i would feel if i suddenly woke up male one morning.

i think i would be really interested to know what it feels like to have male genitalia and i have long regarded the point-and-shoot urinary capability of men with some jealousy, especially when it's ten below zero and i have to drop flaps to pee.

other than that, though, i mostly just wouldn't care.

...which leads me to realizing that there are kind of two parts to gender identity: how much you FEEL like one sex or the other, and how much you CARE.

if being a woman was terribly important to me, suddenly waking up male one day would be horrific.

this not caring very much, i think, helped me to regard people who want gender reassignment surgeries as sad sick people who can't cope with who they are and resort to tragic self-mutilation.

but i have talked with and listened to a lot of people and i've realized that some people care very much what sex they feel like, and there are people who feel very strongly their gender identity.

other people, not so much. some people feel gender ambiguous and care about that, and others feel gender ambiguous and don't give a wet slap about it.

it isn't hard for me to imagine the "wrong" feeling of not being properly matched to the body you happen to live in. i know a thing or two about being improperly matched. this is maybe more information than you want about me, but in terms of gender preference (not this chapter, i know) i am likely to be sexually attracted to men but form emotional attachments to women.

that is an inconvenient mismatch.

i've been marginalized and ostracized by straight people for being too gay and by gay people for being too straight.

and i was thinking about writing this piece and this morning i suddenly recalled that time i was hauled in for a psych evaluation when i was in fourth grade and i suddenly understand all those questions they were asking about whether i liked being a girl or wished i was a boy.

it made me so angry today to finally understand what they were getting at: my failure to subscribe to gender rules must necessarily have signaled disorder. and my failure to care must have seemed wrong to them. i remember shrugging at the time and wondering why they had such stupid questions.

if you feel very strongly that you are a man but you were born into a female body, that is a kind of hell. you wake up every day in a body that feels wrong, you don't understand, and probably you feel ashamed of it for reasons that get drilled into you in a bazillion ways. doctors don't take you seriously.

i do not want to think about how craptacular that is.

now add to that pile the idea of people whose sex is indeterminate at birth and their parents guess which gender to assign them to in surgery.

guess wrong? whoops.

but there's this thing called gender identity disorder. here's an important thing: it's only a disorder if YOU care. it's not up to me or anyone else to call you disordered unless it helps you somehow. if you are fundamentally uncomfortable in your own skin, that's a disorder. i believe the best way for me to help you feel more comfortable is to take you however you are. if you need a reassignment surgery to feel normal, that's a thing only you know. if you would prefer to go genderless, that's up to you.

i am going to encourage other persons of privilege, persons who feel ok in their gender, people who match their bodies, people who are happily within the norms- i am going to encourage all of you to think less about putting people into small slots and when you're tempted to make gender based assumptions, ask yourself why.

ask yourself if you want to contribute to the discomfort and marginalization of a largely invisible yet decidedly present group of people.

but it isn't just about being nice to the "less fortunate". it's about creating an equality of gender, of gender identity, and about creating freedom for all people, including you.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

over by the airport

i'd post pictures with it, but quite frankly it's too depressing.

i grew up near BTV, which is enough of a close match with the city in which it is almost located that people tend to use "btv" as a synonym for burlington. as in "i have to go into btv for a dentist appointment".

BTV is owned by the city of burlington, even though it is located wholly in the city of south burlington.

back in the 70's airport noise wasn't such a big deal and nice middle class or working class families lived in perfectly nice homes over near the airport.

but then the airport was upgraded and jets got bigger and whole big swaths of south burlington and winooski became pretty close to uninhabitable, but people still live in some of the homes because they;re too stubborn to move or too poor to afford somewhere else, but now the gubmint is bringing BTV the f-35 and i would mind it less if the f-35 was a project that wan't already obsolete, problem-plagued, and super expensive.

and there's an FAA buyback on some of those houses, but dozens and dozens of them just stand empty without so much as blinds on the windows. whole streets of abandoned houses are sad and creepy. whole streets of abandoned houses where your friends and schoolmates used to live even more so.

but it's about the money, you know?

not your money or my money, but the insane greedy profiteering of the defense contractors.

Monday, February 10, 2014

gender issues: preference

the thing about sexual preference is that people get it confused with gender identity.

in the misspent days of my youth i viewed bisexuals with suspicion.

clearly these people just can't cope with being gay and are hedging their bets, or trying to be less gay than they are.

you know, because being partly gay isn't as bad as being gay. isn't it a shame these people are so filled with self-loathing that they can't just be who they are?

see what i did there?  i wasn't too far off of those people who think gay men want to be women.

ok, so self-loathing does figure into the equation and in some cases even fuels gender identity problems, but i think mostly we aren't born despising who we are. that gets drilled into us by others.

i said it wasn't binary, and it isn't. there are a great many ways people experience sexual attraction.

but let's for a moment pretend it's a linear scale and that we all fall somewhere on the line between preferring men and preferring women.

if you're unsure of who is appropriately male or female or who is behaving according to gender norms, you might be attracted to a WRONG PERSON and be punished for it.

so you'd have to guard against wrong sexuality and you'd have to make sure OTHER PEOPLE are getting it right.

so, ok, now you have a self-perpetuating cultural bias against the wrong kind of sexual attraction. people who might fall along the middle of the continuum now have incentive to keep to the "proper" side.

and a secondary damaging thing emerges: people who have to make sacrifices to stay on the "right" side do not like it when others decide not to make those sacrifices. this is a common thing in any case where some people give up something for whatever reason and others do not. those who have sacrificed sometimes feel as if their choice is threatened or devalued and anger results.

but really, if you look at it rationally, why do you care what kind of sex other people want to have?

i can think of a lot of sexual behaviors that squick me, but there are perfectly competent adults who enjoy those same behaviors and as long as i don't have to engage in those behaviors, there's no reason you shouldn't.

i have to kind of get around my own sense of "ewwww, that's just WRONG", but if i think about it, it's only really wrong for me.

if you are an adult and you like the thing you're about to do with another adult who likes that thing, it's just none of my business.

of course, to make sure i am not about to be doing something with someone who might like a thing that squicks me, i'd actually have to talk with that other person, and that might be uncomfortable.

if i get RULES made so that nobody is supposed to be able to do the things that squick me, i don't have to have any awkward conversations. i can just punish people who do the thing i don't like.

sucks if you like it, though.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

crying out of a speeding ticket

i have gone through moretown a few times recently, which reminds me of that time i cried my way out of a speeding ticket.

well, truthfully, the purpose of the crying was not to get out of the ticket. when the officer pulled me over i had clearly already been crying for a LONG time and was covered in tears and snot. and being pulled over for speeding in moretown did not make me cry less than i already was.

"where are you going?" the officer asked.
"h-h--home." i wailed. "i live in fayston."
"where are you coming from?"
"the h-ho-hospital".
"all right, ma'am. just be careful and slow down."

and he let me go.

it was a long time ago, but i never drive by there without thinking of his kindness.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

gender issues: not the same

sexual orientation: this is who you prefer sexually. this is not just not binary; it's not even a linear scale.

romantic preference: this is who you are likely to become emotionally attached to. it is related to sexual orientation, but not necessarily the same.

gender identity: this is how you experience your own gender, male female or something more ambiguous or complicated. it is how you feel you are. most people tend toward male or female but some people fall somewhere between.

sex: the gender of your physical body. even this isn't binary. people exist who have ambiguous genitalia, or even a complete set of external genitalia belonging to one sex but chromosomes or organs of the other sex.

it is important to understand that while these things are related, they are not the same.

life is more convenient for you if these things match in your life.

it is none of anyone's damn business to decide how you should experience these things in your own life.

i only take the time to clarify because if you're going to think seriously about gender issues it helps to be aware that there are separate related concepts operating and if you want to work toward gender equality -true equality- you're going to have to make room at the table for people who don't fit the standard binary model.

you can call people freaks, or you can just accept them as valid variations.

Friday, February 07, 2014

backroad sign

i was driving along an ofrrum offrum road last week and i passed this sign, which made me happy.

on my way back i stopped to take a picture and the man whose sign it was came out of his shack to talk with me.

"i like your sign", i said, "and i'd like to take a picture if that's ok with you."

it was totally ok with him. he told me about his house, which is not the shack near the road. the shack near the road has electricity and running water and internet access so if he wants those things he hangs out in the shack. the house which is much nicer, and where his dogs are, is up the hill a couple hundred yards.

and that kind of explains why the shack has so many windows and amenities but does not look large enough to live in.

and to an extent it explains a bunch of other odd architectural and decorative details, like the two-tiered tree towers with the glass fronts, sort of like a tree house, but clearly the work of a grownup for grownups.

the man (let's call him jesse) says his new sign is because people have been complaining about his old signs, and driving by and taking pictures and then complaining to the town boards but of course there are no rules governing what kinds of things you can have on your front lawn sign, so they're out of luck.

"it's all for entertainment", he tells me, and i am given to understand that it is his own entertainment mostly.

but also i get the feeling he is political. and i think he's a bit of "an eccentric", which makes him of my tribe. i get the feeling that he maybe shares some of the same political beliefs i do, although i can't be too sure.

i bet you a nickle he's for 2d amendment rights and world peace, and probably civil rights for gays, but i don;t know. around here it's an easy bet that everybody hates government corruption. our state republican party tends to lean left and our democrats lean right. we elect bernard sanders term after term, so assuming this guy is against something the government did is kind of like picking low hanging fruit.

he invites me to come back in summer and see his garden, which he says, is a political display of beautiful perennials and he is very proud of it.

he seems sensitive and timid about it, which kind of fits: signs and flowers about your views, but deferential in conversation.

he invites me to come visit anytime.

maybe i will.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

gender issues: roles and behaviors

let's start this particular installment with the understanding that for now i am talking about cisgendered people, which, if you don't spend a lot of time thinking about gender issues you may not realize is the current term for people whose gender identity matches the body they were born with. i want to stress that even that isn't necessarily strictly a binary construct, but let's just go with the idea that most people find themselves near one end or the other of that continuum.

we have a lot of expectations culturally about what is and is not appropriate behavior and appearance for men and women.

i am not in the least bit ambiguous about my gender identity. i am a little middle aged lady, completely comfortable in my middle aged lady-ness. i have the experience, though, of being both approved of and disapproved of for my appearance or behavior according to gender expectations.

i say the words "what cute little shoes!" completely without irony. i love charming lavender-infused recipes as much as the next person. but also i laugh too loudly and talk too directly, traits i have been told make me "not a proper lady".  i wear clothing for function and comfort and usually not for appearance. i wear my hair and fingernails very short, and i've been told i look very butch.

most people just assume i'm a lesbian. i do not know why perfect strangers feel they can come up to me on the street and inquire about my sexual orientation based on my appearance, but yet they do.

i have friends who have a son who, when he was very young, loved all manner of things with engines and wheels and all kinds of tools to work on things with engines and wheels. he also loved things that were sparkly and pink and the greatest disappointment in his young life was that he couldn't get a pink sparkly dumptruck.

and then he went to preschool, where he learned that boys do not like pink sparkly things. pink sparkly things are for girls, and girls are decidedly not as good as boys. you don't want to be girly, do you?

i have a friend whose grandson likes to paint his nails. his father does not approve. what message does this send?

you are less acceptable if you are girly.

if you want sons who really respect women, try telling them that it would be ok to be "girly".

i have gone dancing at the montpelier grange, and  had the enormous pleasure of being whirled around the room by a stunningly handsome young man who was redheaded and tall and lithe and breathtakingly vital and muscled in the way only young men can be.

he was oh-my-goodness-throw-me-down-and-take-me-now gorgeous, strong and manly and his skirt was nicer than mine.

yes, i know.

but there was nothing remotely girly looking about the way he wore that skirt. young men at the montpelier grange often wear skirts. i have talked with some of them about it. it turns out that these young men think a skirt is cooler to dance in (it's a hot room) and they like the way it feels when they spin.

ladies, you get this, right? those are the reasons *i* wear a skirt when i go dancing. is there a reason that men who want those things can't have them?

real equality for men and women is going to happen when we don't make separate classes of people.

and remember that things are not going to fall apart. if culturally and socially we allow people to express traits that are pleasing and natural to them without categorizing behaviors according to acceptability by gender norms, most people will still fall closer to the norms than not.

that's why they're norms.

but we'd free up people who don't fit exactly into categorical norms, and we'd be a lot closer to gender equality.

a long time ago i was invited, at my workplace, to join a regular "girls' night out" social grouping. i said i thought it was wrong.

i said this at some social cost.

i said that if the men AT OUR WORKPLACE had put together a boys only club, we would be outraged. well, yes, they said, but this is different. because, you know, girly things.

more recently i belonged to a church with a ladies' book discussion group. i got the invitation to the women's group after i had left for another church.

i wrote in to say that i thought this was wrong.

but the books we read are only interesting to women, they said.

well, what about men who like flowers and art and "ladies' things"? isn't it hard enough for those guys to find people to share these interests with? is there a reason to separate and stigmatize men who might like these ideas?

they wrote back to say that they had considered my points and decided that in the future they would simply announce the topics of interest and invite everybody.

if you have a group to talk about things that are typically interesting to women, you'll still get mostly women.

but you'll also make it ok for men to be interested in "women's" things.

think about it.

if men are not stigmatized for "feminine" traits, it elevates both men and women.

and it lets people choose for themselves which traits they wish to express according to their comfort and not to expectations.

resist gender labeling. resist neatly categorizing people as one thing or another. let them be who they are.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

from the roots

usually when i have something this fungussy looking in a container in my kitchen, i start planning which day i will take out the trash and i time the opening of that container to coincide with a trip to the dumpster.

this thing, however,  looks all fungussy on purpose. i grew this from a chunk of the mycelium of some nearly spent oyster mushrooms i grew from a kit.

it turns out that if you have good roots and they're not totally dead you can give them a food source and tuck them in the fridge to go dormant for a while and they'll start to eat the new food and then when the clump of stuff is all fungussy like that you can leave them out in the open and they will fruit.

this particular clump of stuff is a ziploc bag containing some straw that i sterilized and wrapped around a chunk of oyster mycelium and i wrapped the whole thing in a moist paper bag and stuffed in the fridge until the mushroom started to eat the straw.

it likes to eat cellulose.

i like to eat oyster mushrooms.

this is going to work out nicely.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

gender issues: back to the roots

gender issues are too big and complex to boil down to just a handful of concepts, but when you back up and look at a lot of the component problems that attach, i think one thing way down at the root is old fashioned misogyny.

it's kind of a vicious circle: people need to know and carry out their roles in the gender binary and when they do not, they need to be punished. fear of punishment leads people to want to be very, very certain who does and does not properly carry out their roles, which makes the roles more and more rigid.

women have to be kept in their place. women who step out of their place must be punished. worse, men who show any feminine characteristics must be punished into full personification of the male ideal and the male roles.

women can be sexually objectified for male gaze, or they can be scorned as being unworthy of male gaze.

and who is unworthy?

women who do not fit the "feminine" ideal.

but there's a greater shame than being a woman: being a man who is in some way "effeminate". and yes, i'm putting that in quotes because i don't think you can lump all behaviors and appearances neatly into categories by "masculine" and "feminine". it's more of a continuum than a binary and when we try to jam people into only two categories, bad things happen.

one of the bad things that happen is that people farther from the binary categorization get treated with contempt from both sides.

and this really only talks of gender roles without touching on gender identity that doesn't match a physical body or people of ambiguous gender to begin with.

but it isn't a zero-sum game. we do not need to strip dignity from anyone to give it to everyone.

Monday, February 03, 2014


they call it volunteers when things you might raise come up in your garden without you planting.

last year i was experimenting with some potatoes that were going to go bad and i stuck them in a big pot outside but then the vines died and i didn't give it another thought until this fall i pulled the pot inside and got lazy and didn't clean it out or take the pot downstairs and then recently where i originally had planted four potato chunks i got nine or so volunteers and i have vines growing all over that corner of my living room which is kind of nice and house-planty, but i have no idea what to do with these guys or when to dig them up and maybe have CROPS!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

gender issues: introduction

i've been meaning for some time to write about gender, which is a much larger concept than just gender identity or gender roles or the gender binary. gender, along with its closely related concept of sexuality, are much larger and more flexible things than most of us ever suspected.

as i've been thinking about how to write about this, i have realized that it's going to be more than one post because i'd like to follow some different threads and also because it's a lot of stuff to jam into one post.

i want to say first that as i talk about this i am going to contrast how i USED to think about some of these issues with how i think about them now, so if any of my transgendered/intersex/indeterminate friends are upset by my old ways of thinking,  i'd appreciate it if you weren't all offended over stuff i USED to think. on the other hand, if you take issue with some things i think now, i am interested to hear your opinion, because listening to people with different life experiences than mine is how i came to have an evolving set of thoughts and beliefs on the topic in the first place.

i'm a person of mixed privilege and disadvantage; we'll talk more about that later.

but if you take a look around you, you will notice a great deal of media representations of gender normative people in gender normative roles and although these days there is much more tolerance and sometimes even appreciation for nonstandard roles and behaviors, there is still a strong and deep social bias about it.

and when i say "strong social bias", i mean that when people who rigidly adhere to the gender binary and "normative" gender roles and behaviors are exposed to ambiguity, it presents to them enough of a crisis that they do not know how to cope except by way of extreme anger and often violence.

there is something deep-seated there, and it is wrong.

i can tell you simply that it's wrong because unless i was hoping to relate to you sexually, it is none of my damn business how you experience your own gender or sexuality. it poses no threat to me nor to my sexual relationships with other people, nor does it undermine society unless your idea of society is everyone rigidly adhering to what's normal for YOU.

people are struggling in a too-often hostile world every day, and we should be talking about it.

or rather, we should be talking about it until some future time when it's just not all that big a deal and your gender identity or sexuality carries with it about the same level of interest or importance as your eye color or you handedness.

because while it's rather a big deal to YOU and a large component of who you are, it'd be really nice if it was one of those things that just doesn't matter to other people.

"oh, i notice you are left-handed. how do you take your coffee?"

Saturday, February 01, 2014

dear indiegogo backers

dear indiegogo backers,

hi! here's an exciting update on that project you funded!

i'm still working on it, but not very hard because even though i'm ten months overdue and i already took your money, i have other projects i haven't been paid for yet and they have deadlines.

you know, because backers who already paid you to do work you're not doing doesn't really count as a deadline. it's more of a donation. to me. because you already paid me and because you don't have much in the way of recourse.

so thanks for your donation.

and every three or four months i'll send you a little message telling you how much fun i'm having doing other work that's more important than the work you already paid me for.

thanks for your support!


Related Posts with Thumbnails