mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
In the tradition of the old Christmas stop-motion shows from the 1960s, Tim Burton created "The Nightmare Before Christmas". Like the old shows, it's also part musical. The opening song for the film is what I hear in my thoughts as I roam the aisles of holiday decorations in the stores in October.

I bought lights this year, and I put them up tonight for a test. I figure I'll slowly add to the collection each year, growing it slowly as I learn what's easy to work with and adds consistently to the mood of the place.

Halloween 2016 lights

I even have a pumpkin patch in the front yard, although I think I'll have to pull the pumpkins for indoor storage.  One or two has already wandered off, and I want to have plenty for the pumpkin carving party on our block that's been suggested by our block leader for the local kids.  I wish I knew how many trick-or-treaters to expect, so I could plan for the candy loot bag.  All I got from the neighbors during National Night Out was "medium" traffic, whatever that means?


Jul. 4th, 2016 09:57 am
mellowtigger: (flameproof)
This is how we feel about fireworks.

fireworks with Hope hiding under sofa 20160704 0955

Fireworks at 7pm.
Fireworks at 10pm
Fireworks at midnight.
Fireworks at 1:30am.
Fireworks at 3:30am
Fireworks at 8am.
Fireworks at 10am.

We're not fans.  Especially not of the variety that seems popular this year, with an enormous earth-shattering kaboom but no colors in the sky.  One night, I saw the flash of it reflect off a car on the next street behind my house.  It's just intended to be loud; that's all it does.  The gunfire is bad enough, but for days now we've had cannon fire in the #WarzoneInMinneapolis.

We're not fans.


Dec. 24th, 2014 09:43 pm
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
The seasons are changing, and not just in the usual sense.

no snow 20141224Minnesota winters have been so reliable for producing a "white Christmas" with snow on the ground like a true winter wonderland. Not this year. I came to Minnesota in 1998.  During my years here, I remember one December or two that was so dry that I wondered if there would be snow for the holidays. This year, though, is a first. It's above freezing. All that snow that we got 2 months ago? Gone. I have never seen this effect until now.

Global warming will bring big changes to Minnesota. They've already had to change the dates of the local ice festivals, or cancel festivals altogether. With "warm" weather like this, however, ice festivals may become stories told by old people to young disbelievers who never knew a climate cool enough for buildings made of ice.

It just doesn't feel much like Christmas this year.

At work, several of us donated food and time to cook and serve dinner at a Ronald McDonald house in the local Children's Hospital.  We heard that our food was good.  People from other floors were coming down to eat after they heard that the meal that night was nice.  That group event was the closest sense of holiday that I've experienced this year, even though I'm not really comfortable doing kitchen stuff with strangers.  It took a long time for me to get comfortable enough cooking meals just for myself in a typical household environment.

The solstice came and went.  I noticed its passing and am looking forward to more daylight hours.  Christmas Eve tonight, though, doesn't feel like much.  Normally, I'd play a marathon of computer games, but I haven't been able to do much of that lately either.  I'm converting my computer from Windows to Linux, and I still don't have everything settled yet.  Not that I've really celebrated Christmas as a holiday in a long time. I think the last winter that I ever did any of the usual stuff was probably the Christmas of 1996, the last time that I dated anyone.

Hope and ChewbaccaEven Hope is low-key tonight.  She can be excused, though, since I was told by my landlords that she had nibbled on some poinsettia earlier today (not normally accessible) while I was out at the movie theater.  She may be feeling a bit nauseous.  She didn't even bother getting annoyed by my Christmas Chewbacca.

The latest Hobbit movie didn't thrill me as much as usual today.  This lack of enthusiasm may be a side effect of breaking my gluten-free diet during the last week.  I've had pizza, burritos, Whopper candy, egg rolls, and lots of other yummy, yummy foods that I've missed in 2014.  I just needed a holiday break, I guess.

I'm already paying for it with a significant resurgence of muscle twitches.  I guess maybe the brain fog is worse too.  Maybe that has something to do with my difficulty in making the switch to Linux in recent days too?  Ah, well.  It was worth it.  I mentioned pepperoni pizza and Whoppers, right?

I suppose it's time to get back on the gluten-free bandwagon, though.  It clearly helps.  A lot.

Oh, and I'm going in for sinus surgery again during the 2nd week in January.  It's the same sinus polyp problem that I had in 1998 during my first sinus surgery.  My ex-boyfriend helped with recovery last time.  This surgery should not be quite as invasive, and I'll be relying on landlords for transportation.  I expect it to go well again.

I'm certain that 2014 was a much better year than 2013.  Then again, though, that was a rather low bar to measure against.  Even with T'Reese dying this summer, 2014 was still a better year.  I hope things finally turn around in the coming months.  Maybe Hope and I will both perk up a bit.  Better days for everyone!
mellowtigger: (Pride)
Today is the 27th annual National Coming Out Day. It's a worthy holiday to celebrate because it encourages acts of bravery that have ultimately changed society in the USA. Gay people will always be a minority of the population, yet a majority of Americans now support marriage equality.

lesbians marry after 72 years togetherI've never liked the phrase "legalizing gay marriage", because it makes it sound like marriage was something that never happened previously. It did. I've attended ceremonies over the years that were non-traditional and not recognized by the government.

Consider these 90-year-old women pictured on the right. They finally got legally married after living together for 72 years. Gay marriage isn't something new. Gay social bonds have existed all along. Unlike their straight counterparts, however, they came with zero government benefits, leaving each partner susceptible to the whims of their doctors, family, and neighbors during any time of trouble.

It's important that government recognizes these social bonds. It's government (not church) that lets you see your sick partner at the hospital. It's government (not church) that lets you continue living in the house after your partner dies. It's government (not church) that lets both adults care for their children.

Minneapolis I35-W bridge with rainbow pride colorsWhen Minnesota got marriage equality last year, Minneapolis lit up the Interstate 35-W bridge in rainbow colors to celebrate the governor signing the law. Minnesota became the first state to defeat an existing anti-marriage state amendment.

A few months later, the marriages began.

And the sun failed to darken.

And the institution of marriage failed to crumble.

The world keeps on turning as it did before, in spite of all the protest against equality.

public sentiment same-sex marriageIt's easy to forget amidst the celebration and especially amidst the growing "common-ness" of marriage equality that it was a struggle to reach this point. It's easy to forget that equality has not reached all states within the nation. It's easy to forget that, in some places, opposition is still so fiercely engaged that a mother will petition the nation's supreme court to keep her dead son's estate in her own hands instead of his partner's, after the hospital also denied the partner access while her son died after a car accident.

Marriage provides social benefits granted by the government, not the church. And government should treat its citizens equally. Benefits provided to some should be available to all... or they should be withheld from all.  No other arrangement offers equal treatment under the law.  I'm not the type to socialize easily, so I expect never to marry.  I am glad, though, to live in a state that exercises its authority with fairness and compassion in mind.

We got here through small acts of bravery accumulated over the years, so as Harvey Milk implored in 1978 (paraphrased).... Come out, come out, wherever you are!  It's scary, but it makes a difference for future generations.  Let new generations focus their energy on new challenges in life, not these tired old manufactured divisions of bygone years.  From a position of equality, we all have more time to deal with issues of substance that we can discuss together... like the safety of the water we drink.
mellowtigger: (sleepy)
I went two Sundays ago to the lantern festival in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they have been a sister city with Nagasaki since 1955.

With my low energy these days, I knew better than to try staying the whole day. Instead, I took a nap for a few hours beforehand then drove to the Como Park Gardens. I stayed for about 3 hours. I was joined by my former database administrator (from 15 years ago when I was officially a programmer), and she took these pictures while we were there.

They had Taiko drummers and other traditional music that was all nice. The food was good too. I tried bubble tea which was both interesting and good. There are marble-sized "pearls" of tapioca dough in a sweet, fruity, iced drink. You use a very wide straw to drink the liquid and the "bubbles" of dough that come up through the straw. It sounds strange, but it's very good. Chewy, sweet, refreshing... and tapioca is gluten-free!

They lit lanterns and played music in the Japanese Garden, and they also had lanterns in the water at Frog Pond. They kept the doors to the Conservatory open late so people could access the bathrooms as needed, so we also toured inside the sunken garden where the roses were all in bloom.

crowdgarden 1
garden 2garden 3
garden 4garden 5
pond 1pond 2
Terry and Kelly in sunken gardenConservatory
Terry and Kelly selfieTerry and Kelly with Conservatory

I really need to solve these long-standing health problems.  They are taking their toll on me.  I feel like I've aged about 20 years during the past 5, but I can tell from these pictures that I'm starting to look it too.

The good news is that my gluten-free diet is indeed helping the neurologic problem.  My twitches and cramps have greatly reduced in frequency, duration, and severity.  When I intentionally broke the diet for a much-needed pizza, I experienced unusually strong (for recent weeks) muscle cramps, so I feel comfortable blaming diet on that issue.  My energy and focus, however, seem to be a separate issue related to years of sleep deprivation.  As you know, I'm taking dopamine-agonist ropinirole, but now I'm also wearing this nose-plug CPAP.  So far, neither is helping.  I may have to spend a lot of money to get a custom dental mold created that keeps my jaw and tongue in place at night so my airway remains unblocked while I'm on my back. At least doctors are seeing evidence of problems then trying solutions.  I'm still hopeful that something will improve my situation.

I had the energy to do some gardening today in the back yard.  Only some, but some is better than none.

Fargo, ND

Mar. 16th, 2014 05:49 pm
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
Fargo is not the desolate cultural wasteland that everyone warned me against.  I took vacation hours on Friday for a planned visit this weekend to Fargo, North Dakota.  Unfortunately, I'm still sick with that lung crud that keeps me coughing, so I spent more time resting in the hotel room than I intended, but it was still an enlightening visit.

I'm considering a career change that would take me to Fargo.  I wanted to see the place firsthand before I commit to anything.  Except for the recruiter(s), everybody has universally warned me against that area.  I was greatly surprised to find amenities there that I would enjoy.  Fargo has a planetarium, a zoo with an indoor carousel, a nice theater that offers both movies and live entertainment, and even an observatory about 15 miles east of the cities.  I also saw a Microsoft campus more ostentatious than the offices they have here in the Twin Cities.  I'm more interested in moving to Fargo now than I was before the trip.  One downside (and it's a big one) is that it's even colder up north than here in the Minneapolis area.  At least Fargo didn't get nearly as much snow this winter as Minneapolis did.  The other thing is that longhair men are an extremely rare sight.  I saw only one during the whole trip; it was a young father at the zoo with his child.  I'd be an obvious oddity there.

Because I wasn't feeling well, I didn't go to the St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday.  I didn't do a lot of my planned driving because I still wasn't feeling well.  Probably a good thing.  While I was out sightseeing, I got confused by some wording on my map, and I ended up far from the correct location.  I didn't get to see the planetarium show because I instead arrived at the observatory, which I didn't know existed and unfortunately was closed.  Oops.  I guess I can see both of them someday if I decide to relocate later.

Yes, Fargo has the obvious signs of an area growing much too fast.  The whole southwest section of the metro was new development.  The streets were much too wide for the current traffic, the housing was all mega-apartment complexes, and the retail was all mega-plazas with national chain store names.  The rest of Fargo, though, was much smaller and older and interesting.  And they have 5 different colleges to choose from, so there are plenty of opportunities for interesting classes if I ever have spare time again.

Well, I guess I need to ponder a semi-scary career change if funding for the position comes through in the next few weeks.  If I decide against it, I guess I can console myself by watching the new Fargo tv series.  Meanwhile, I'll leave you with a few of my holiday photos from the zoo.

Fargo zoo armadilloFargo zoo eagles
Fargo zoo grey foxFargo zoo pallas cat
Fargo zoo goatFargo zoo llama
Fargo zoo Sichuan takinFargo zoo Bactrian camel
Fargo zoo white-naped craneFargo zoo Russian red tree squirrel
Fargo zoo catFargo zoo indoor carousel

An indoor carousel at the zoo where you can have a birthday party even during the bitter winter.  I approve!
mellowtigger: (astronomy)
It's time again for Earth to experience another extreme of its day/night cycles. In the northern hemisphere, the sun was at its lowest height so it marks our shortest day and longest night. (It works the opposite in the southern hemisphere.) Now, our days begin growing longer again.

beer in ice mugI didn't do much to celebrate the event besides enjoy a pepperoni pizza and a beer. I did use my special nICE mug, though. It was a Minneapolis kickstarter project that I funded a while back. It aimed to create molds for freezing water into usable drinking mugs. They work well enough, although I think I'd wish for slightly thicker sides on the mugs, plus a twist-lock top on the molds so the plastic insert doesn't try to float up out of the water.

Here's my nICE mug filled with Wild Blue blueberry lager.  I enjoy being able to drink beer again since I stopped taking my blood thinner medication last month.  While I was teetotaling, the liquor store that stocked my Wild Blue went out of business.  I had to try a few shops before I found another one yesterday that stocked it.  I can freeze water on the front porch these days, but it'll be nice to try drinking this combination again next summer when I can enjoy it while sitting out in the sun.

Anyway, enjoy the solstice.  The world keeps spinning and revolving in its usual cycles.

pride 2013

Jun. 29th, 2013 09:02 pm
mellowtigger: (Pride)
canoeThere were significant political victories to celebrate this year, so I went out to Twin Cities Pride today. It's the 3rd largest celebration in the USA, estimated at 400,000 visitors over the whole weekend. It's said to be the largest non-gated pride event, meaning that visitors come and go as they please, since there is no admissions gate (or the likely attendance ticket fee that goes with it). Frankly, it's too large for me. I skip Sunday altogether, so I always miss the hours-long parade. I always think they should just move it out to the state fairgrounds, but then everyone would miss out on nice opportunities like canoeing.

rabbitsI've attended many pride celebrations in Texas, and I was active in political student groups too. People who knew me back around 1989 might remember my fondness for pet rabbits. I even took one with me on a road trip from College Station to Dallas for a student group meeting one year. So it should be no surprise that my favorite part of Pride this year was the rabbits.

The large map is divided into different areas, one of which includes the various pet-focused groups of the Twin Cities. My employer was represented there too. I also visited the table for a houserabbit association this year, and I enjoyed looking at their pet bunnies. Also good were the two natives who were running around the busy lakeshore foraging for food.

doom, doom I tell youThe religious section is always a large area. It's usually located on the southwestern corner near the church that usually flies rainbow colors during the weekend celebration. A great many church groups are always there to publicize their welcoming philosophy. This year also had hecklers standing nearby. Not as much "fun" as the Westboro group, but entertaining nevertheless.

Brits Pub rainbow flagAs I left, I noticed while waiting at the bus stop that local businesses were also courting GLBT patrons. Here is a photo I took of Brit's Pub flying a rainbow flag among the others on display.

Still, though, after the day's adventure, I kept thinking more about Kevin and his llamas than about recent political victories. Sure, we've collectively focused on marriage equality, and we're winning that legal argument, but there are other immediate concerns demanding attention. Besides the frequent violence, the bullying, the kids kicked out onto the streets, there is also the matter of employment discrimination. That's where Kevin's situation shines as an example needing redress. He lives in Kentucky, where it's still perfectly legitimate to fire someone for being gay, and he was so fired.

I've faced discrimination on the job too, although my experiences were all back in Texas. I've had my work hours cut from 40 to 15 immediately after my supervisor found out I was gay. I've had a high management figure refuse to shake my hand upon our introduction. I've lost a job while a meddling coworker (who bullied international students too) complained about my involvement with the campus gay student group (and her having to authorize my requests for mainframe computer resources for the group). So I have some sympathy for Kevin's situation.

Vigilance is necessary.  Keep pressing for equality, keep demanding non-discrimination.  What's appropriate for you to do will vary with your own comfort level.  Me, I donated $20 to Kevin and his llamas when I got home from Pride today.  It's not a lasting solution, I know, but maybe it will help keep the animals in their familiar territory so their caretaker has the time he needs to arrange for new income.

There are plenty of other worthwhile causes to donate your attention, your time, or your money. Decide something, though, because both your actions and your inactions help to shape the future that we all must share.
mellowtigger: (astronomy)
Have a happy apocalypse!


Even if today is the proper day for the cycling of the Mayan calendar (there is some minor disagreement), it's merely the "turning over" of the odometer.  It's nothing special to the universe at large, only to the human brain that insists on finding metaphorical meaning in every small detail of its experience.  It's the same misplaced excitement that we faced on 2000 January 01 for those of us following the Julian calendar.  There is no need to panic.


On this winter solstice day, I prefer to hope for real change... the kind of change that determined minds work to create in the world.


Have a happy solstice day.  The long winter nights will now shorten, and the sun will rise higher in the sky.  (Well, it does if you live in the northern hemisphere.)  I hope the growth of light and warmth will inspire work on new projects for building a happier future for everyone.
mellowtigger: (AIDS)
It's been over 15 years since I last saw the AIDS Quilt. It's showing in Minneapolis this weekend, as part of today's World AIDS Day observance. It's housed in the same building where you find Wilde Roast Cafe along the Mississippi River. The quilt was brought here with the help of several organizations, including Minnesota AIDS Project.


They have more panels here than I expected. The quilt is too big (at 48,000 panels) for anyone to see the whole thing any more. It won't even fit on the national mall at Washington D.C. any more. So groups show a select few panels of the quilt instead.

With tightly limited space, this exhibition showed the panels hung up vertically. This format helps make more panels available for viewing, which is good. I think, though, that it's less effective at conveying the emotional weight of the quilt. Laid out on the ground like a death shroud, the viewer looks down to their feet at the strewn memories of lost lives. Hung up, though, the same panels seem more like "arts-and-crafts" on museum display. It also matters, I think, that the calendar dates on display are receding into the past instead of being fresh in the daily memory.

The selection on display here is very good. There are panels for drag queens and sports fans, hemophiliacs and newborn babies, and famous and unknown unlike.



I ran a search at the AIDS Quilt online, but I didn't find Carl Collier's name listed there.  I doubt that his family would have made a panel for him.  I don't remember us talking about me making a panel for him, but I'm pretty sure he would have been uninterested.  I can imagine him saying, "I'd rather people spent their time finding a cure, instead."  Sprinkled with an expletive or two, of course.  :)
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
Congratulations to American Hindus for winning your first Hindu representative to the U.S. Congress last week. I'm sure that achievement will make the "festival of lights" even more enjoyable when it begins on Tuesday. For Americans not yet aware of it, Diwali in the United States has recently developed an interesting history, including a holiday greeting from President Obama in 2010.

Tulsi Gabbard serves in her state's National Guard and has been on deployment to Iraq. She previously opposed gay equality, but her tour of duty changed her mind. Her positions on war, economy, environment, and homelessness also look very amenable to the Occupy viewpoint. I look forward to seeing her accomplishments in congress.

mellowtigger: (Pride)
It's National Coming Out Day, but I can't muster any enthusiasm for it.  I'm still bummed about the vivisectionist flirting with me last weekend.  Humans are weird, and I wish I could find a life that kept me away from them.  My cats like their kibble, though, so I have to stay in "civilization" to keep them pampered with regular meals and clay litter.  I keep postponing my hopes of walking into the forest and leaving humanity.

I paid money to attend a local sci-fi convention last weekend.  I ended up spending only half of Friday there (after work), skipping all of Saturday and Sunday and the big dinner event that I paid extra for.  I should have kept my money and my emotional balance.  The convention itself was nice.  I even had a panel moderator stop me in the hallway to say that I asked some good questions at her panel.  I spent several hours (into the wee morning) playing a new card game with 3 other conventioners.

There were even other autistic adults at the convention.  I recognized one from an informal autistic group a few years ago.  I recognized two others who were visitors to Occupy Minnesota last year.  One of that pair was an author panelist at the convention, and it amused me that I knew someone who was a panelist.  When I talk to autistic adults, their experiences are more like mine than any other people I know.  It's like autistics send out flare gun signals that attract anyone who might gain something by preying on outcasts and isolationists.

To be fair, I'm only assuming the guy was a vivisectionist.  There were a few clues, though.  First, he kept telling me that he had some extreme fetishes.  Second, he said that he was into throbbing arteries, and he noted that I was difficult to read that way.  It's true, my arteries do a good job of "hiding" so that nurses always have a difficult time collecting blood from me.  Third, he said that he especially liked hearts.  He asked if I had ever seen one, and they were like powerful muscular balloons.  He failed if he was trying to scare or intimidate me.  I already know that humans are weird, and I don't really enjoy spending time around them.  Instead, I was just... "disappointed", I think is the correct word.  Other people attend conventions without vivisectionists telling them that they're one of the best looking people there.  Not me, though.

I guess I just can't take a compliment.

Happy holiday.  The date is 10-11-12, if you're a backward American who orders time components illogically.

edit 2012.10.18: I recently encountered this comic strip, and it embodies the experience fairly well.  Maybe it's not as rare as I thought?  Kinda sad, really.

mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
ColumbusDayA newcomer is either an immigrant (legal) or a trespasser (illegal); there is no such thing as an illegal immigrant.  I can't imagine why politicians fail to make this distinction.  It would help the discussion, I think, to avoid nonsensical language when discussing an issue.  If national borders are so porous that trespassers are automatically citizens, then why even have borders at all?

Columbus Day is observed in the USA on the second Monday of October, which is today.  It's meant to commemorate the day on 1492 October 12 when Columbus set foot on the Americas.  We actually have a holiday to celebrate the arrival of the first trespassers here.

For myself, I favor very lenient immigration laws.  I also favor unrelenting use of those laws.  I think that it should be easy to become an immigrant, and I think that trespassers should be deported.  I think that nationality should be inherited from parents rather than determined by where you were happened to pop out of your mother's belly.  I think it's time to end the pointless anchor baby fears by changing the citizenship clause of our constitution to something new.

My opinions don't fit easily into the left-versus-right politics in the USA at the moment.  I hope that's a good thing.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I went to Pride last year, but I think I'll be avoiding it this weekend. Last night's dream suggests that I should be avoiding stressful situations for a while.  Apparently this year will be fertile for subconscious farming.  I just experienced my 3rd dream of 2012, and it's only June.

It was the zombie apocalypse. They were slow zombies, so they were easy enough to outrun. Strangely, people were still able to speak during the first stage of reanimation, so it was difficult to tell who was affected until they started aiming their teeth at your flesh. One of the recently-turned kept asking me to take my bat and hit him in the back on his spine. Apparently it itched madly, and he thought crushing it would help.

I was accompanied by a man and a woman. They might have been a couple; I'm not sure. I didn't recognize them from the waking world. We were making our way across a metropolitan landscape to some sort of city council meeting where people would decide how to respond in this disaster.

In a crowd somewhere, I explained to my duo that I finally recognized that my body was shrinking. That's why my "perspective" had been so skewed lately. I needed to find the cause so I could stop the process and maybe reverse it. I suddenly found our trio located in a massive lobby to a bank. The guy recognized one of the paintings (of a red-headed man) in the lobby as someone who had faked his own death so he could safely abandon his banking empire. He wanted to use his ill-gotten gains to earn personal redemption through bioengineering. He worked in secrecy to avoid "contaminating influence" from his former life. How did the guy in our group know all this detail? I don't know. We decided to visit him. It required going downstairs through some strange mini-elevators in the bank that could only fit one person at a time.

Like an Alice In Wonderland dream, my shrunken body seemed barely to fit into one of the two elevators. My perspective was wildly out of control. I warned the woman in the elevator next to me (the guy was waiting upstairs until one of the two elevators returned) that I was getting claustrophobic from being so cramped in the tiny elevator... even though my body was shrinking ever faster.

The young cat walked across me and interrupted my slumber, so the continuation of the dream at this point included "disjointed" time as I slowly woke.

Apparently my brain was failing to function properly during the massive shrink, so I lost consciousness. The other two got me to the scientist (former banker), and he cured my problem. My body had already grown back to normal size. This time, though, my brain had grown back into its "natural" form. This Remaking was happening much too quickly, and I couldn't direct it properly. I was restored to my adult form, but I was mute. Time was too out-of-synch, so I was having trouble making sense of the world. I couldn't properly understand what people were saying to me, and I couldn't formulate any words for response.

By now, I'm fully awake, and the dream ends.

My sociability has been "all over the map" during the past two weeks: ranging from wanting a boyfriend to wanting escape from civilization. I've explained before the danger in my thinking too hard about complex social realities. I think it would be safest if I avoided crowds of people for a while. I already skipped Bear Coffee last week. I think I'll skip it again this week and also the local Pride festival this weekend.  I had already scheduled time off from work for a camping event next weekend, but I think I'll cancel it too.

It would be wise to avoid the festive crowds until my thoughts are back under familiar control.  Meltdown is subjectively unpleasant.
mellowtigger: (we can do it)
Grace Hopper wrote the first computer language compiler back in 1952.  She was also a Commodore (Rear Admiral) in the U.S. Navy.  Her mind was quite sharp throughout her lifetime, and at one point she was the oldest active duty officer serving in the U.S. military.  She was among the programmers who coined the phrase "computer bug" after they found the first very literal bug in their computer.  This short video shows her brilliantly presenting a thought-provoking analogy about computing and communicating within the known constraints of time and space.

There are certainly other famous women who have had a profound influence over the progression of science.  Ada Lovelace postulated the first computer algorithm (1843), at a time before computers.  I've written more than once about the famous Jane Goodall.  Madame Curie was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, once for Physics (1903) and again for Chemistry (1911).  Mary Kies was the first woman granted a U.S. patent (1809) at a time when women couldn't even own property independent of their husbands.

These accomplishments are worth repeating today in celebration of International Women's Day.  It's also worth saying that I have worked for more female bosses than male bosses during my lifetime, so it's not surprising that the best boss I ever had was a woman.

It is especially worth keeping these high standards in mind throughout this year, considering the nature of political discourse in the USA recently.


Jun. 27th, 2011 09:13 am
mellowtigger: (Pride)
I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that Target and Best Buy had the largest tents at Pride.  I tried to walk around them a few times rather than directly past them because they're both still on my boycott list.  Somebody had them in mind even before Pride weekend...

I ran into Patrick Scully when I was heading home from Pride, & gave him a quick hug.  "Careful," he said, "I've got a knife in my back."
Of course I had to look.
Yep.  Nice plastic knife attached to his shirt.  RIIIIIIGHT in the middle of a Target logo.
"Target stabbed us in the back, so I'm going over to their booth, lie down, and see what happens."
"Well, then let's get to it!"

Yay!  That's Patrick of Patrick's Cabaret fame.  I've also seen him out at Radical Faerie events before.  Thank goodness somebody has more dramatic sense than I do.

In related news, at least this year's Pride festival had a state governor participating for the first time.

mellowtigger: (Pride)
I went to this years's Pride festival on Saturday, though I'll be skipping all of the "main event" on Sunday. It was interesting to see that marriage was the topic dominating so many minds.  I've written before about the significance of marriage as a legal concept, whether gay or straight. There are multiple groups devoted to the concept here in Minnesota. One group details the 515 ways that government discriminates against gay couples by refusing to recognize their marriages. Another group focuses on getting people to engage in direct communication with other people, the kind of thing that always ends up changing society.

"At [MN]Love, we believe Minnesotans have the power to create real change in the fight for marriage equality. This is why we strive to empower constituents to create change through direct engagement with other Minnesotans."

It's kind of sad, though, to see heterosexuals at gay pride that are more outrageous than the homosexuals.  Like the straight man (with wife and kid in tow) whose shirt read "Straight Breeder For Marriage Equality".  Like the straight woman in bikini top whose painted body read "Straight Girl For Gay Marriage".  There was even an animal spay/neuter group handing out free condoms.  Gay people have gotten very boring in comparison.  The best moment "we" produced was the asian muscletwink in leather collar and chain posing next to the "All Dogs Must Be Leashed" sign by the doggie playground area.  How did we get so dull?  Not that I ever contribute much to that category, I suppose, so who am I to complain?

Back to gay marriage, though.  It's so very fitting that New York state legalized gay marriage on Pride weekend, since they're the ones who gave the world the gay pride movement anyway.  I'm just barely old enough to remember the police in east Texas near the university who would enter the local gay bar as a group of about 4 officers just to intimidate the patrons.  Even so, I was never rounded up and carted off to jail as they used to do in New York.  At least, that's what they did until the dykes and drag queens finally had enough of it and actually fought back, even rolling over the paddy wagon while they were still inside it.  Yay for contempt of abusive authority!

As usual, comedy makes the point about marriage equality much more succinctly than my attempts at persuasive argument can produce.  (Click images twice to view in original size.)

dinosaur logic gay couplesscary gay couple

Whose dinosaur logic will you heed?

Pride 2010

Jun. 27th, 2010 03:11 pm
mellowtigger: (Pride)
Dan and TerryPride film stripMinneapolis is said to host the largest non-gated Pride celebration in the USA.  I was intending to skip Pride celebrations again this year because I have mixed feelings about them, but then I got an email asking for help to attend a table for Outwoods. I agreed to work Sunday morning. I figured most people would be in downtown Minneapolis to watch the parade. I was right; the park didn't get crowded until the parade ended.

I wore my very old and somewhat ratty "Every kiss is a revolution" t-shirt. I worked the 10am-noon shift with Dan, another Board member (I think) for the group. Afterwards, we walked around the park to see the other booths. There were free photo booths set up by Target, so we stopped in for a quick photograph. The booths even had email capability within the park, so the images were waiting for me in my mailbox when I got home. Very convenient.

The place where I work, Animal Humane Society, also had a booth at Pride.  They had some great t-shirts there. I picked up the one that said "You had me at Woof" with the AHS logo. I took it over to the Bear booth to make sure they knew that there were still some XL sizes available. I'll try to remember to wear it to Bear events, so I can let people know that I can get more for them if they want to buy one.

I see that even Livejournal is getting into the holiday spirit this year by adding a Pride banner this weekend:
Livejournal pride banner

I often have mixed feelings about Pride celebrations.  More than once, back in the times before Diagnosis Day, I would leave Pride hurriedly without fully understanding why. The last time I dated someone, I had an especially bad meltdown moment when I abandoned zhem at Pride (that would have been 1997 in Austin, Texas) so I could get away as quickly as possible from all the people, the talking, the social networking. *guilty sigh* Post-autism-diagnosis, I think that I am even better at understanding my emotional limits and moderating my stress.

Another issue that makes Pride celebrations wonky for me is the realization that there just aren't as many guys around that are my age.  I see older. I see lots of younger. I don't see many males my age. I know why, of course. I wish Pride celebrations insisted on displaying a portion of the Quilt at every event.  It worries me that people forget and that we may end up with another lost generation.

I am proud, of course, that the gay American reponse to AIDS succeeded in changing the whole world. Everyone learned from us to stop whispering about poor health, to stop submitting to professionals for choices of care, to stop accepting mediocrity from the government that we pay taxes to support. Everyone learned from us to take control of our treatments, to educate ourselves so we can make our own treatment decisions, to demand better personal care from our doctors and nurses, and to demand better response from our government medical institutions.  No longer do people whisper with sad expression, "She has cancer"; now, the announcement is stated with determination, "He's taking chemo to fight his cancer."  Good for us!  There's reason to be proud of our contribution to our culture.

I think it was great to see so many children at Pride. I hope that I'm reasonable to interpret their presence as a reassuring sign that the next generation have a little easier time growing up. It would be great if they (gay) have fewer of certain hardships to face because life offers enough difficulties without hatred and violence being added to the mix, and it would be great if they (straight) have wider perspectives on the world and the joys of finding their own special place in it.
mellowtigger: (Ark II)
I left work on Friday and then drove out to Fort Ridgely.  The Memorial Day Weekend camping was so nice that I packed up a day early and hightailed it out of there as soon as I woke up on Sunday.

Cut for pictures and messy details... )

I'm no longer a walking biological hazard.  Today, I'm a big fan of civilization.  It's rare, but I think I have a reasonable excuse for the temporary enthusiasm.
mellowtigger: (astronomy)
In which I discuss "the reason for the season".  :)

Today is one of Earth's two solstice days.  At 11:47am in the U.S. Central timezone, Earth's tilt carries all of us to the extreme point where the sun dips its farthest into the southern sky (from viewpoints in the northern hemisphere).  Starting now, the sun marches northward, and days will begin getting longer again.  I had been considering making a recording of me singing the "sun dancer" song and posting it for Winter Solstice.  I can't remember how many years it's been since anyone's heard me sing.  Anyone besides the accidental interloper, I mean. I do sing, but only for myself.

Here it is Day 4 post penicillin, however, and I still have the infection in my throat. The drug knocked it out of its recently acquired territories, but so far no success in overwhelming it at its initial foothold. Still, I'm going in to work this afternoon. Gotta earn money. I'll try not to cough on people. :) My voice still isn't back to normal, so no singing for me today.

So here I present to you a Ukranian boys choir singing my favorite holiday song, "Schedryk". You might recognize its Christianized form as "Carol of the Bells". Originally, though, it was a Ukranian song inspired by the pagan "Giving God" (no other name known) who would gift people with blessings once a year as the new year/season began. Today, instead, we have the magical Santa Claus. (At least, until the climate change deniers finally succeed in melting the North Pole, and Santa's home and workshop sink into the depths of the ocean never to be heard from again. I intend to blame Republicans for killing Santa when it happens.  *grrrrr*)

In even better holiday news, though, we can look forward to some interesting science fiction and science!  Doctor Who will appear on this year's special adventure.  I can hardly wait.  Plus, the Mythbusters will test out a Gorn cannon!  Watch the preview.

Overall, a good holiday season.  :)


mellowtigger: (Default)

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