Manners: Who controls your body?

I couldn’t sleep this morning, so at 5:30, I rolled over and started browsing facebook.  Two things popped up in my feed that made me see a little red.  The first was an old friend trying to make a joke:

“Remember ladies men are dogs. Which means when we do something wrong like grab your ass or fondle your tits you are supposed to rub our noses in them to teach us a lesson.”

The second was a story about a Montana legislature who wants to outlaw wearing yoga pants in public.

I tend to avoid commenting on bait like these, but both of the showed up within a few scrolls of my thumb and I just… I had to.  So to the friend I told him I’m not sure that literally comparing women to crap is the message he wants to convey – even if he’s trying to be funny.  To “reply” to the second I decided to bring it here.  So first off, the man wants to ban any and all exposed nipples – male or female.  Apparently, when this man sees another man’s nipple, he is reminded that women have nipples too and loses all self-control.  And seriously, women wearing yoga pants are just reminding him that they all have vaginas. Because you know. Ankles and legs and hips are just… OMG.  So for him to avoid having to remember to control his own self he expects women to have their bodies regulated so that we don’t remind him that we could have sex with him.

This is some of the worst of the concept that women can be responsible in any way for a man’s thoughts. And there are some great blog posts (here and here are good starts) that already address the lunacy of women being in any way responsible for a man’s lustful thoughts.

I always like to point out to men how insulted I would be if everyone kept telling me I’m worse than an animal. Yes, I said worse than an animal. I have explained this to several of my guy friends before this way (and there is irony given what prompted this post:

Does your dog shit on the floor? No? So you are telling me your dog has enough self-control to hold it until he can be in the proper environment before he takes a shit? Good, we’ve established that dogs have a concept of self-control.  I don’t know about you, I’d be pretty pissed about those people saying you are dumber than a dog.  All I’m saying is you shouldn’t shit on the floor.

Most of them get very defensive and I can’t entirely blame them. It is a crass comparison. It is insulting to make them think of controlling their lustful thoughts along the same bodily function lines as going to the bathroom. The ones who get most upset are the ones who don’t want to have to be responsible for their thoughts (and actions on those thoughts). Unfortunately, when I  tell people this they tend to call me a bitch.  But hey, I guess they’re still saying I’m smart enough that I don’t shit on the floor.

Short Story: Squirrels in the Attic

The family had three cats and a dog.  Two of the cats were hunters and came from the same litter – Taffy and Cinnamon. There was a long debate about which cat to put into the attic the first time the family heard squirrels.  Taffy was far and away the superior hunter.  He brought in everything from snakes to bats.  Alive. Apparently bringing them home and letting the humans play with them was the most affectionate thing he could think.  No matter how many times he got yelled at. No matter how often he was reminded “you bring it inside, you lose it!”

Cinnamon might or might not be an amazing hunter; she was smart enough not to be seen bringing in her prizes. The only time anyone knew she had been hunting was when remains were discovered.  Her favorite spot to take these “toys” was the bathtub in the hall.  Somehow she learned that if you put a mouse in the bathtub – you can play with it all night.  Brilliant and scary in a super-villain sort of way.  So great hunter who catch anything, or the smart one?

It finally got decided to put Cinnamon up there first, see what happened.  The entrance to the attic was an access hole in the parents’ closet.  Space was cleared, a ladder brought in, and Cinnamon picked up.  Being smart, she knew something was going on, and looked at the humans with great suspicion.  Then set out exploring the dark of the attic.

Imagine what it was like, the pink paper-covered insulation, the wooden beams of the ceiling crisscrossing. Cinnamon’s green eyes expand their pupils until she can see in the dark.  She moves on the beams to avoid the crinkle of the paper, her claws retracted completely so only the pads touch the smooth two-by-four.  She slinks along the beam, smelling and seeing the traces of the squirrels which are invisible to the human eye.  A cross-beam away, there is a flicker of movement and she turns, muscles tense as the squirrel darts off along a parallel beam, along the outer edge of the roof where the beams are close and tight.

Cinnamon darts across the beam, leaps to the next one – and the squirrel is out the hole underneath the eaves and scolding her from the safety of the sun-drenched roof.  Cinnamon back-tracks the squirrel’s path to find where it had been sitting when she began her hunt.  She memorizes the scent of the prey and prowls through the attic, searching for any sign of another squirrel.  Eventually, she returns to the hatch to go back down to the brightly lit world of food and water.

The family put Cinnamon back into the attic sporadically for the next several weeks.  Then came the day when the squirrel didn’t just run out.

There was no foreshadowing that today would be different. The parents heard the squirrels above their bedroom, found Cinnamon, and put her up through the hole.  They had found the hole where the squirrels came in and out, but without making sure the squirrels were outside – they didn’t dare patch it. The only thing worse than living squirrel in the attic would be starving or rotting squirrel in the attic.

Cinnamon made her way along the beams and then found them. The family. The squirrels had been carefully building up their little nest and had their little ones now among the pink insulation, twigs, and leaves the squirrels had brought in. The parents, with little ones too small to make it outside yet, didn’t run for the hole.  They stayed to fight.

The sound of the fight came through the hole in the attic. The outcome was pretty assured. One strong hunter-cat would win. In the closet below her brother, Taffy, was tortured. He could hear it all. Why should she get all the fun? Taffy is the one who could catch a bat and bring it home uninjured for the humans to play with. Snakes… lizards… a baby possum once… He paced at the base of the closet, staring up at the darkness.

If you were there, you would understand that prayer does work.  At least for a poor cat who is hearing his sister get to do what he loves above all else. Whatever cat god lives in the universe heard his plea.  As the sounds above continued there was a grey puff falling from above, one of the young squirrels fleeing death had not known what the word “hole” would mean.  The little puff landed on the floor practically between Taffy’s paws.

Taffy hardly hesitated, snatched up this morsel and took off. He knew the rules of the humans. Bring the toy inside, you lose it. He couldn’t make it to the cat-door fast enough. The rest of his days, Taffy spent waiting for the god-of-the-hole-in-the-closet to hear his prayers again. When he was a fourteen year old cat, beginning to waste away from illness, the humans picked him up from the floor of the closet on his last day.

Life Memories: The Dime Theory

As a trainer, the most-dreaded question is “why do I need this.”  Especially if the person signed up to take my class. I can tell you then and there, they are going to be obnoxious from here to next week.  Everyone remembers in school the question “why do I have to learn _______” whether it was math, history, a foreign language, or Shakespeare.  How many teachers had good answers?

My mother is the one who always gave me the best answers to this.  “Why do I need to learn Shakespeare, it’s sooo boring.”

“You’re learning how people interact. Shakespeare lived hundreds of years ago, but people still behave like idiots and make these types of crazy choices and look what happens.”

As the youngest of three, I had already learned the lesson that I could avoid making the same mistakes my siblings made… so the idea that even “old” books could teach me about people…. suddenly opened a world of literature up to me.   My mother did the same with other subjects as well (the rare days I asked).

This same application came to life-skills as well.  And sometime in high school my mother and I were talking about skills and I complained how I seemed to “get it” yesterday but not today. I managed it all yesterday, but today… it was like I couldn’t keep my life together and everything was spiraling out of control.

“You dropped a dime,” my mother said.

“What?”

“Ok, skills are like dimes.  You need to do all these ten things today – you need these ten dimes to accomplish them.  One for showering, one for cooking breakfast, one for homework… got it?”

“Yeah, ok.”

“Well, you have to hold all these dimes in your hand at the same time and then at the right moment use your other hand and pluck out the dime you need.  Sometimes you have too many dimes, or your finger gets in the way, or you are also walking on a tightrope and loosing your balance… and you drop a dime. Maybe that was the homework dime. Or the how-to-keep-temper-in-check dime.”

“And that’s ok?”

“No. But it happens. As you get older, you have to try to keep more and more dimes in your hand, and they are everything from finding the right thing to say to reading to making dinner. Part of growing up is learning to hold more dimes. And good parents help you learn how to hold more dimes. You are going to spend your life trying to pick up new dimes and add them.  The trick is to realize when one of them is falling out of your hand and try to catch it.  If you can get really good at it, you’ll catch the dime before anyone else realizes you dropped it.”

When I graduated from college, my mom gave me a little round frame with a dime glued to some felt backing. Most people thought it was the weirdest present ever. But to me, she was saying how proud she was that I had those dimes.

Money Hand with Coins 13005 480x360 jpg

Manners: The Console Question

Ask a gamer why they like the console system of their choice. Most will tell you they picked it because of the hardware inside the case. It has better graphics, more memory, has mod capabilities other models don’t, plays the right apps and games to stay fun and interesting…. the list can go on and on.
A good console matches up play style and extra apps. The best consoles are the ones you feel like you never need to turn off because they are good at letting you switch apps and games without fighting about it. Some consoles are just really cranky… And some consoles get cranky about specific games.
There is a horrifying movement to judge a console by the case only. I mean, we finally got out of the brand-dependency era and started encouraging people to look outside the big manufactures to all the indie (or nontraditional as the brand insist) console choices. There is so much potential out there and people are wasting it by only looking at the case – chassis don’t last. Haven’t you heard that the good consoles out there self-update to the latest firmware?
When you pick a console  just because of a nice case, it’s easy to find that that console doesn’t play any of the right games. No Netflix??? Pandora can be jury-rigged, but it crashes every thirty minutes? The Console obsessively switches to their favorite reality tv show…
And then there are the worst culprits of all. The ones who only look at the controller.  And I mean ONLY. They are so singularly focused on that one aspect of the system, they don’t even seem to remember you can play games with a good console! I think the ones that think they need the console with the absolute biggest controller in a room are sad and funny at the same time.
Especially because when you don’t keep the firmware up to date, you can run into some pretty nasty problems. That cranky-to-play game inevitably gets worse. Sometimes the console gets a virus and begins infecting all the other hardware around. Worst, you may have a total system crash and you are left with no console at all.
Take care of your console. If everyone decides to take care of the consoles in their life, then hopefully everyone playing on your hardware will take care of you too.

Writing: My Love Affair with the English Language

I pity people who don’t love English. I am not ashamed of my love affair with the language. Part of the beauty is in the acceptance the English language has for the nuance and culture which other languages can provide.  Oh, I will grant you that sometimes it’s gets a little creepy the way the English language has “borrowed” things from so many languages – especially the European languages. Yet, when you approach vocabulary, the English language is quick to adopt a word that allows us [the speakers] to become more precise in our language.

This topic really enticed me to write about it when I was talking about my job recently.  I told the person “Yeah, I’ve been pretty frenetic recently” and their first response was “don’t you mean frantic?”

“No, frantic implies something distraught and out-of-control and bad. Frenetic is the same kind of wild energy without the negative connotations.”

These two words, so alike and yet with such different nuance of meaning allow me to communicate more succinctly with educated people. And this is where I struggle with a form of classism – I can’t understand “non-readers.” People who say they never read for fun; only when forced. No articles. No books. Not even comics. How do they live without consuming new words?  How do they live without absorbing the new inflections and seeing how our favorite words (or hated words) are evolving in new context?

Review: Sims 4

I have been a Sims fan since my brother bought me Sims 1.  This new game idea, taking SimCity and zooming into the individual lives.  Maxis did some cool things in Sims 1, and when Sims 2 came out they had taken some of the best, strongest and fan-favorite themes and grew the series.  They kept stretching the bounds of the game through Sims 2, really straining the engine completely. Sims 3 required a new engine because they made it open world.  Yeah, at first it was a little bare, but I was ok to have them add (most) of what they sold in Expansion Packs.  It really allowed you to customize your game – don’t like magic, ok you can avoid the supernatural stuff (more easily).

I like the idea of customizing games and when EA put out a survey talking about whether to keep using Expansion Packs or some kind of subscription -get-what-you-want-from-a-store… I was intrigued they might actually try something new and different.

The first time I saw an actual play-through on Sims 4 I was horrified. Loading screens.  Sims 3 had some loading, but I could play hours – days – without them if I was careful. I hate loading screens. With a passion.  And they sure better be worth it.

So this weekend Origin offered 48 hours of Sims 4 game time.  I downloaded the game on laptop and sat down to play.  I’m going to try to talk generalities – my problems with the game – and only use specifics as examples.  So, long intro over: here is my review of the game.

Engine: 1/5

Specifically, this is running the game – not game play (I’ll address that a little later).  The Sims 3 was a huge leap in engine technology (open world) but had some issues that plagued the game throughout its life. Sims 4 is not only NOT open world, they didn’t add anything to replace that concept easily. I will grant them a 1 because I played Sims 4 on my laptop (granted, a nice laptop I can game on – I play Guild Wars regularly on it) and it only locked up once. They say they wanted to improve the game, make it more accessible to people without big gaming rigs – but they didn’t improve the good stuff they had. They stripped it down so it’s more like Sims 2!  Load screens. UGH.

Character creation: 3/5

I almost gave this a 4 because I do like the new interface (dragging around instead of sliders). but they took out Create A Style (CAS)!! I’m stuck with the colors EA thinks I should play with instead of the palate.  And this is something I know has been in the game since Sims 2- so now we’re talking go back to a Sims 1 game play style!

Building: 3/5

Again, this almost got a 4 because they really did do some much-requested improvements.  I was able to take a set of shelves and “stack” them along the wall instead of everything being the same height.  Rooms are quick and easy to build and edit. But without CAS, my creativity kept hitting some walls (no pun intended) and I’d go “well, I guess I can settle for X” instead of being able to make it perfect.  The lots are very limited and I don’t feel like I have a good handle on what the whole world looks like – what you see in the “neighborhood” map and what’s actually on/around that lot…. there is a lot of disconnect so finding the perfect view and the perfect setting for my sims – impossible.

Simulation: 4/5

This is the big area of improvement, as any long-time player could guess (you know, it’s all the previews ever showed us….).  I don’t think the emotions are THAT huge a jump… but I can see some slight improvement.  And I will grant the developers that multi-tasking was long overdue.  Being able to watch tv, eat and have a conversation… note-worthy improvement. That being said, the traits are really the same, achievements are the same.

I was hoping for traits to be more like traits in Sims 3 Pets – wherein when a pet chooses to use a trait more, they get “stronger” in that trait and they can be “trained” to change traits.  Since there is no in-game-non-cheating method to change traits in Sims 4 – once you set the personality it’s locked. Which means when my woman sim started falling in love with a man with “hates children” trait… the only recourse was to break up with him. He had no chance of changing his attitude and having kids with my sim (until I cheated, but that didn’t seem to have 100% effectiveness).

Overall, Sims 4 is as big a disappointment when I sat down for a “play through” as I expected from the demos, previews, etc.  I was allowed 48 hours to play.  After 10 (between Fri night and Sat morning) I went and loaded up Guild Wars instead to take advantage of double XP weekend.  This morning I went ahead and uninstalled Sims 4. With the first expansion pack due out in a few months, there is no way I want to spend money on this game.

Manners: My Bubble

I don’t remember the first time I talked about “my bubble.”  It might have been middle school.  I do know I remember in my young-childhood-life the adults who invaded my bubble space and my reactions to them.  Most of them were church-people, well-meaning, and loving people in many ways. But as extroverted adults, some of them felt it their right to impose hugs, cuddles, pats, or clothing-fidgets on me.  “Oh sweetheart, let me re-tie your bow, it’s crooked!” or “Look at you [HUG]!”

There was an older gentleman (older than my parents) who regularly wanted to hug me.  And it made me uncomfortable. I remember being in fourth or fifth grade and telling him no. He looked to my mother with an expression of “are you going to let her do that?”  I don’t remember exactly how my mother replied, but the end-result was that he stopped hugging me. I suspect it was a quite intelligent explanation that as a young lady (you know, 9? 10?) I had the right to exert independence and choice of who is allowed to touch me.

The thought of “my bubble” came to me later, I know that much.  I was probably trying to explain to someone why crowded places made me uncomfortable.  Too many people squishing into the space where I want my bubble to exist.  Oh, if I have warning and planning I can deal with crowds, but I don’t generally like them.  When I saw this comic a few years ago, I realized other people had also adopted the bubble-idea.  The one things this comic doesn’t address is the variability of the bubble.

There are times and places where my bubble is bigger and places where it is smaller. There are people for whom my bubble is bigger and smaller as well. What makes it difficult to navigate (for anyone that isn’t me) is the intersection of all the variables which need to be applied.  So this week, because I am mentally prepared to have my bubble invaded, it is skin-tight.  I carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and tell myself this refreshes my bubble (seriously, this mental game works for me) when I begin to get overwhelmed.  If however the wrong person crowds into my bubble (since I’m meeting people I don’t know, this is a threat!) my bubble can expand and I’ll need more space.  Step outside, take deep breaths of cool air, and then approach people again.