improperlyhuman: screenshot of Apocalypse from X-Men: The Animated Series (apocalypse)
Just what the hell is the paleo diet, anyhow? I thought the point was to eat like ancient hunter gatherers ate as much as possible. Why does so much processed paleo food exist? Come to think of it, raw food must have made up a very large proportion of the diet of Paleolithic peoples. They certainly didn't eat domesticated animals doped up on antibiotics and growth hormones. I wonder just how paleo paleo dieters tend to eat.

After calling a bazillion veteran's offices, I finally found out that the same transportation service I've been using will give me a ride to other VA clinics, which doesn't jibe with what I had previously been lead to believe. So the frustration ends. I'd tried calling the advice nurse again, and she kept saying  'get your labs done' again and again, even after I'd told her that I wasn't able to get to the lab.

This morning, the person from the transportation office seemed to speak to me like I was an idiot for not knowing that they would drive me to any clinic, undoubtedly oblivious to the runaround I've been getting. The awkward icing on the awkward cake is that I will have to call back; not expecting to book a ride today and thrown off-kilter by the employee's patronizing tone and my usual phone anxiety, I wasn't able to think enough to coordinate a ride to the lab next week.

I need to know more about my craft. The craft of writing, that is. I finally figured out the miscommunication between my employer and I: he hired me as a proofreader, and I'd been serving as an editor due to the horrific writing quality, but he actually needed an editor and a proof-reader. I knew that I was doing too much work and that his expectations were too high, but I lacked the knowledge to explain that, and, for a while, I feared that I was just seeking to excuse my incompetence. Then I did some searching and came across the difference between editing and proof-reading, and, more importantly, the fact that they are two different jobs. I can't do both.

I will be sure to link that article on my work profile. I've decided to market myself as an editor and avoid proofreading jobs, due in no small part to fears engendered by this work experience that I lack the attention to detail and extensive knowledge of grammar and usage required by the later.

Where's the final draft of my audiology report??? This doctor must be super busy.

A couple of months ago, I came across a review which suggested that Maleficent stood out from standard theatrical fare by focusing on female characters. I was tantalized. I finally watched it last night, in out-of-order bits and chunks because I hadn't expected it to be interesting enough to sit straight through. I was moved! I like self-possessed, stony-faced womyn with bitter, vengeful hearts. Then again, I suppose it's easy to be self-possessed when one has magical powers. And the baby was such a good actress. I wonder how they got her to smile and sneeze on cue.
improperlyhuman: screenshot of Apocalypse from X-Men: The Animated Series (apocalypse)
Fluid intake has recently become an issue. Maybe it's always been an issue, and I'm just now noticing it because I've emerged from camel mode. I'm now going through roughly a gallon of water per day, and I get headaches if I don't drink that much. Never before in my life have I consumed so much fluid in a day. Maybe in boot camp. Texas summer heat. Come to think of it, that's a brutal environment in which to start people off in training.

I'm not sure why I need so much water now. It is hotter in this part of the county, but I've also been purposefully trying to increase my water intake. Even before the heat got bad, I noticed that I felt thirstier more often. I woke up feeling like crap, presumably due to hours without water. I used to be able to go all day barely drinking anything. No more. I suppose it's good for me, but I can't say that it's enjoyable. I'm now obliged to get up during the middle of the night to unload the liquid that's floating around in me, and I greatly prefer sleeping straight through the night. I get my water from the water machine, so everyday I have to lug a gallon back home.

As I'm re-watching some scenes of Ex Machina, I'm reminded of the artfulness of the character Nathan. He seems an interesting twist on the eccentric genius stereotype. There is something creepy and weird about him, it just isn't typical nerdiness. In fact, he's into All-American-guy things like drinking, working out, being in the outdoors, and "attractive women." His extremely isolated dwelling isn't a home; it's a "research facility." In contrast, his new employee is the awkward nerd, trying to have academic discussions while Nathan wants to talk about gut reactions over a beer.

Yet it's just these deviations from the stereotype that come off as curious. His nightly drinking binges seem odd for a scientist or researcher. Then again, he indulges alone, seeming more depressed than animated, which an introvert,  loner, or social outcast might be portrayed. Out comes the fratboy again with his sudden passionate launch into the description of his android's ability to "fuck," which contrasts eerily with Nathan's extreme social isolation and inanimate subject matter, and the creepy factor hits the roof when Caleb finds the closets full of naked, inactive, female-inspired androids. Is it eccentricity or fixation on the female form? Is it stereotypical nerd problem-solving skills in action, seeking technical solutions to personal social issues (one scene suggests that Nathan has sex with the AI unit that serves as maid), or is Nathan just some weirdo who will fuck anything?

Nathan's physique reflects a commitment to exercise that is far from the stereotype of an academic, yet the possibility that most or even all of it may be a mere form of management of his drinking habit bespeaks a lack of self-control unbecoming of such an academic. Is he a disciplined weight-lifter or an undisciplined drinker? His disinclination to talk shop with Caleb contrasts with the expected single-mindedness and subject absorption, yet it is prudent given that the purpose of their work is to experiment with natural human interaction. The clinical nature of the operation re-emerges after Nathan reveals that Caleb was chosen based on mined data.

His straight-faced manipulation of his research assistant is classic movie lone scientist, calculating and unempathetic, as is the concomitant broader underestimation of human nature that proves to be his undoing (the gorgeous twist is that it is the underestimation of Caleb's and Eva's humanness that does them in). There is a modern twist on the stereotypical lack of ethics, given that he mined unwitting cell phone users for data. That telecommunications companies were guilty of similar privacy violations simultaneously humanizes him away from the stereotype, guilty of unscrupulous uses of others that most could not have imagined, let alone stomached, and dehumanizes him as just another corporation-like entity.

The ambiguity of Nathan's ethnic heritage is a departure from the long line of clearly European-descended cinematic geniuses and researchers. It is of contemporary relevance given the reportedly large (growing?) population of Near Eastern men in the U.S. IT sector.

Overall, Nathan is an unusually round character.
improperlyhuman: icon says: Radical Feminism: Females First. Always. (females first)
I watched Interstellar about a week and a half ago. The part of the movie in which a few hours passed from the perspective of the astronauts who'd landed on a planet that orbited a black hole while twenty-three years passed in Earth's frame of reference made a big impression upon me (although I doubt that the math added up). I certainly could not gain much of an idea of what it would be like to experience the effects of time dilation through my studies of Relativity, and I dare say the same would be true of most anyone; yet here was a moving depiction of it (completely realistic or not). The intellectual exercises constituted by absorbing and digesting theory are much different than the reality described by that theory. On the one hand, we have regarding a page full of equations; on the other, missing two-thirds of the lives of one's children.

It is the same with separatism. To intellectually commit to avoiding the company of males is quite a different experience than to reject the company of some guy you know, a sincere request from some guy with whom one used to be friends. It doesn't feel good; being away from one's family for twenty-three years doesn't feel good. It doesn't feel natural; I'm sure that neither of them feel natural. It certainly isn't natural. I don't think that living according to any ideology is natural, but I do think that it can be useful under unnatural living conditions (such as patriarchy). 

Life continues under artificial living conditions; life continues despite the ideological lenses through which we choose to view it. And so we, I, sometimes come up against ugly, complicated disparities between life as it is(particularly natural, neutral human behavior) and life according to our ideologies. In these cases, we must make unpleasant choices. How far will we bend the ideological structure(s) that we've built to order the world? How far can we bend them before reaching the point at which we can no longer legitimately consider ourselves adherents? Is it sensible, healthy, justifiable to decide the concrete, to ignore our emotions, end or begin our relationships, limit our experiences, and plan our day-to-day behaviors on the basis of the abstract principles that underlie ideology? To what extent?
improperlyhuman: (Default)
I finally made it to the farmer's market today. I was not impressed. There were less vendors than I'd expected, and the way they were set up caused a traffic jam of people. I was a bit sickened to learn about the market's pig theme (including adults dressed up as pigs, blocking the already crowded walkway between the vendor tables), but happy to see that there was a sizable group of vegans there representing the cause. I wanted to say something to them, but I wasn't in a state to talk. 

There were a lot of vendors selling expensive gourmet stuff, but I could hardly find staples. There was only one person there selling onions, and they weren't organic. Maybe onions are out of season? There were at least three different kinds of kale on offer (I got my first Siberian kale. I thought nothing but potatoes and maybe onions and cabbages grew in Siberia), but I only saw two vendors selling carrots. No potatoes at all. The organic vegetables cost more than I was accustomed to paying, but I didn't make out too bad. I'm not much motivated to go there next week. The ride is long and boring. It wouldn't be so bad if I had something to listen to, but I don't want to buy any new electronics. I think I'll try a market in a different city next week.

I'm becoming worried about my financial situation. I started preparing to freelance on Odesk again, and the job situation there looks a bit worse than it did when I stopped. There seem to be more people applying for the jobs in which I'm interested, and there are less of these jobs. I looked at the average bid price for one of the jobs, and it was much too low, so I'm more worried about third-worlders driving down payment amounts than I was before. It seems like I won't be able to rely on oDesk for income at all, and the trouble with my RSI has increased considerably with just a couple of days of increased computer usage (particularly since I have no desk or chair), so I need to work harder to get my medical stuff in order so that I have a firm basis on which to ask my new primary care doctor to sign off on the income that I receive from social services. My previous doctor's note expires in May.

Yesterday, I came across someone who claimed to have been diagnosed with migraines. I didn't know that this diagnosis was given out because I thought that it was impossible to verify the presence or absence of migraines. I did some minimal research on the issues, and it seems the diagnosis is basically based on the doctor taking the patient's word. This person was not located in the U.S., so a foreign medical system might be the key to her diagnosis. Being diagnosed with migraines would be a tremendous benefit to my SSI claim, but I don't know if they would accept my refusal to take medication. Perhaps the fact that I would have to take it roughly everyday in order to hold down a full-time job could be a sufficiently mediating factor, but I've no way to prove that I had migraines roughly every day when I worked. 

I've adopted a simple (and rather elegant) technique to treat my tendency to ruminate. I wear a rubber band around my wrist and snap it when I can't think myself out of ruminating. I haven't had to use it much so far; when I start to have the obsessive thoughts, merely remembering the rubber band helps me to exit the loop.

After having read it a million times in reference to autism, I finally watched Rain Man. It was more sentimental than I'd expected.

improperlyhuman: (Default)
I saw the VA neurologist this morning. About half the appointment consisted of her typing up notes about my symptoms. She said that it was unlikely that I was having seizures because my EEG, CAT scan, and the physical exam she gave me were normal. I don't know about that; I thought EEGs often gave false negative results. Whatever. She said she didn't know what was going on with me and that it didn't seem hazardous to my health, so there is nothing more to do.

She offered me some variants of the migraine medication I'd taken before, Imitrex. I declined.

The only thing I got out of this was a referral to a CBT program for my insomnia at the Oakland VA. Part of the reason I agreed to try this was sheer incredulity at the prospect that it might work. I've had insomnia on and off since like forever. My entire adult life. If ~six weeks of CBT puts a dent in that? Wow.

However. I hope that I won't be expected to do a lot of talking about the troubles I've had in my life. I hate that shit, and will refuse and end the treatment if it comes to that.

I got my mail while I was waiting for the VA shuttle early this morning. There was a book; Desert of The Heart, upon which the movie Desert Hearts (one of my favorites) is based. My bootleg copy of the film won't play, so I was looking up other downloads online and ended up on Amazon buying the book. I made it through some forty pages today, and it isn't nearly so charming as the movie. The dialogue is odd, a bit too poetic to be realistic, crisp to the point of stiffness and formality. Some of the author's metaphors don't make sense to me. I was a disappointed to see how many of the details were different, details that were rather dear to my heart, such as the setting (a ranch in the Nevada desert vs. a suburban house on the edge of the desert). The characters are far less likable so far, but that's partially down to the writing style, perhaps.

Also in the mail was a letter from the grad student who conducted my Asperger's assessment. She wrote that she'd tried to contact me again; again, my phone did not register her call at all. The clinician who supervises the neuropsych assessments has left for the holidays, and I cannot get my feedback session without the final report having been signed off on by this person. The student, in turn, will be on some sort of tour for internship interviews for the whole of January. Long story short, I won't get my damned results until the end of January/beginning of February at the earliest. Nice. Ok.

The way to deal with homelessness, the way I deal with it, at least, is to take things one day at a time. I try not to let myself look to the future too much. Today's view of tomorrow is distorted by yearning and dispair, but today is always clear, seen through the lens of practicality as it is. So goes this. I bury it. No more anticipation of my assessment results.

I haven't gotten a call about my apartment inspection, so it obviously isn't going to happen this week, and, I'll bet, won't happen until after Christmas, maybe not until January. Maybe it's the phone acting up again. The school is going to close for winter break tomorrow, so I'll be out in the cold for a while.

It is a bit surreal to see "LGBT" stuff up in a military establishment. There was a large poster sitting on an easel down the hallway from the cafeteria, announcing the VA's commitment to serving its "LGBT" members. Tacked to a corkboard next to the vending area in the main clinic was a rainbow-colored printout asking for input from "LGBT" veterans to be communicated to a social worker who is serving as some sort of liaison. An LGBT liaison! Crazy.

I remember when I filled out my enlistment paperwork, sometime around late 1999 or early 2000, there was a question asking if the enlistee was gay or lesbian. It had been lined out with a black marker, but the text was still visible. Half-assed implementation of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, although I hadn't known it at the time. I was only about 19 at the time and hadn't even heard the acronym DADT. 

Yes!

Nov. 30th, 2014 11:56 pm
improperlyhuman: (Default)
There's a Jurassic Park movie being released next year! I will pay to go see this.




and I survived November.

improperlyhuman: (thinking)
Cool Hand Luke is one of my favorite movies, not only for the sheer novelty of a prison movie in which the inmates are not constantly trying to destroy one another, but for its quiet mood, and, most of all, the underlying religious theme.

Luke apparently has no purpose or direction in life; in fact, his attempt to alleviate his boredom in his small town is what lands him in prison. The fact that he is playing with an "empty hand" is underscored several times throughout the film, but most poetically in the scene in which Luke receives his prison moniker, Cool Hand Luke: through pure, artful bluffing, he wins a substantial sum with a completely worthless poker hand. Ironically, his randomness and carefree attitude towards prison life serve to bouy up the spirits of his brow-beaten fellow inmates; his aimlessness earns him respect and lands him in a position in which he actually achieves something.



Here we see Luke stretched out in a crucifiction pose immediately after winning his fellow inmates a ton of money in a bet over whether or not he could eat fifty eggs in one hour.

On the other hand, the more his free-spiritedness motivates his behavior, the more trouble he gets himself into. Overseers of a chain gang, the guards seek to retain control by keeping the inmates exhausted and hopeless, and the change in general mood does not escape their attention. They attempt to make an example of Luke each time he escapes, and they seem to achieve this the second time around, when the other inmates begin to show shame and disgust at the beaten yes-man Luke has apparently become.

After his third escape, the heretofore silent guard, Boss Keane, shoots and kills Luke with scarcely a moment's hesitation. In this final sacrifice, Luke achieves a Christ-like immortality in the eyes of the other inmates, having left them with the legacy of his antics, many of them notable for the smile he kept on his face despite all odds, even in the moments before his death.
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