Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Japanese Arcade



Back in 2011 I moved from Austin back to Beachton. I drove a UHaul first with all my stuff and then flew back to get my car. In those last days in Austin I made my friend Daniel Rowe go with me to Arcade UFO so I could shoot photos and high speed video of him playing this crazy Japanese music game. I'd been there with him before and his mad skills blew me away. I knew I had to shoot that activity with my high speed camera.

I have always loved watching people play arcade games. I don't know why. I do not like playing them myself. I am truly terrible at it and it stresses me out. But I am transfixed by people who are good at it. I don't even know what he is doing. I think he hits the colored button corresponding to the columns of dashes moving up the screen. I am totally clueless about how the score works, but I think his score was very high. I think I could watch him for a week and still not figure it out. These Japanese games are particularly overwhelming to me. The graphics are like falling in a swimming pool of multicolored ice cubes, half of them flashing lights at different frequencies and the other half each emitting a different tone. But the random English phrases on the screen are hilarious.

After I got back to Beachton with the footage I didn't really know how to edit it. But after thinking about it for a few years, building a whole office, mounting my monitor on the wall, rigging up a full range speaker, and setting up a comfy chair I thought I should go ahead and make the video. I did the entire length of a song because I don't care if it's too long for you, it's not too long for me. There's one piece of 120 frame per second slow motion footage that is over 6 minutes long. I had plenty to work with. You can tell which is the 120 frame per second footage because it's grainy and the screen of the game is flashing because the refresh rate of the monitor is slower than the frame rate of the camera. I cropped some of that video to fill the screen and used different amount of speed changes on that. There's one high speed section that has black bars at the side because I didn't crop to fill the frame. I also shot some 40 frame per second full quality stills that I used in the video with various duration from 0.1 seconds to 0.5 seconds. They have black bars at the sides and aren't grainy.  The stuff that looks like standard video is real time. I did not speed that up. He is really that fast.

I did the whole thing as a music video to Sting Operation from Anamanaguchi's Power Supply album. This is not the music playing on the game. It was actually much faster and manic, but not dissimilar.

At the time I shot this Daniel was working in Austin at Red Fly studios as a video game programmer. Since then he moved to Dallas to write mobile games for Android. I would put in a plug for his company but I don't know what it's called.

As a hermit I cannot indulge myself in watching people play video games in person, but I have found a great internet opportunity. Do you all know about Co-optitude? It's the Geek and Sundry show where Felicia Day and her brother Ryon play old video games. I love this show. It always cheers me up to watch it. I save it for when I need a good laugh.

**Update: Daniel sent me a link to raw footage of him playing that same video game. (shot by his sister.) That's what it looks like and sounds like not edited. My mind works differently though. When I saw him do that I visualized a more artistic rendering of the experience.
He also a link to just the song he's playing, Curus, by D-Crew. I could not have edited a whole video to that song. It sounds like three songs played at once. It reminds me of a banana split, but you have to eat it all in one mouthful. No thank you.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Boating Solo on Towel Day

Ever since my brother did the Everglades Challenge I've been watching the nearby USGS river gage on the internet thinking I might sally forth and try kayaking by myself one day. I don't want to try it on a holiday weekend though. There might be people. So I thought I would try my own private pond just to get a feel for it. I went in the shed and got my nice double bladed paddle and a boat cushion. I thought the boat would likely be too hot to touch from the sun so I got a towel and put it in a bag with my thermos of water and my camera. I put on sunscreen, donned my water shoes, and set off down the hill.


This Grumman sport boat has been leaning on this pile of dirt since 2008. Tropical Storm Fay dumped over 25 inches of rain here and the boat floated away from where my uncle left it and I spied it on the far side of the pond. I went to Walmart and bought a paddle then walked around the pond, waded out to the boat, turned it over, bailed it out, and paddled it across the pond sitting on the point of the bow and pulled it up on dry land. (I acquired a better paddle when I got a kayak later.)
from Wikipedia
By 2012 the pond was totally dry. But we have had as much rain this year already as we had in all of 2012. The pond is full. I used my towel and turned the boat over. I knocked off and threw out a lot of dirt dauber and wren's nests. Then I shoved and pushed toward the water. I was already up to my ankles in it before I looked down to see when I was going to get wet. The water was exactly air temperature I guess. I felt a little nervous I was going to disturb some creature that would startle me, like an alligator or a snake, wading through the grass with my view obscured by boat, but I didn't even see a bullfrog. By the time I got the boat floating enough to get in it I was completely red-faced from the exertion in the hot sun despite my big hat. It's 33°C today.
It's May 25, of course I know where my towel is.
It was hard to get the boat to move through the large bonnets and grass. It's difficult to get up any momentum. It just wants to stop. I allowed as how I was going to the clear water to see if it was more fun to paddle there.


In the clear water it was still a big heavy boat, prone to blowing in the wind. I stopped and got out my thermos of water and assessed my feelings. I felt uncomfortable, nervous a bit. It wasn't interesting or remarkable compared to the view from the shore. The dark clear water was just spooky. The sun was beating down on me. I was worried I was going to get a headache from overheating. I tried to imagine if it would be fun if I was fishing for a delicious, nutritious, and free dinner. It seems unlikely there are any good eating size fish in there in less than a year of having water in it. That's scant motivation, even if I had fishing tackle. I imagined the air conditioner in my lab calling me home from up the hill.


I forced my way back through the friction of the bonnets. I couldn't even take a pretty picture of the blossoms because they don't open up until night.

I got out when I approached the pile of dirt again because I don't like to use my carbon fiber paddle like a pole. I was nervous about stepping in the big alligator hole I knew was somewhere around there. I used to always check if anybody was home when the pond was dry. I managed to not fall in it. I was kind of impressed that my shoes and feet were remarkably lacking in mud. Just little bits of grass and clear water. I found myself quoting a line from the Monty Python Cheese Shop Sketch (4:32). 

Cleese: "It's not much of a fun pond really, is it?"
Palin: "Oh, it's the finest in the district, sir!"
Cleese: "And what leads you to that conclusion?"
Palin: "Well, it's so clean!"



I heaved and shoved with my towel and got the boat back up on the pile of dirt, but this time on the water side near the hole that is the counterpart to the pile of dirt. The hole is the borrow pit where my dad got the fill dirt for the slab foundation of house where I grew up, which burned down when I was in high school, and is now the slab under my lab. Just goes to show this pond has been going dry and filling up again ever since somebody put that dam across the creek in the 1800s.
Yesterday I walked around to the spillway. I saw some gambusias swimming against the current out of the swamp behind the dam. That's some clean water.

Conclusion: I need somebody to go with me or this exercise is just work with no point. Kayaking on a river might be better because there would be shade. I would likely still have the nervous, insecure feeling though. Not sure if I want to bother with it. Should I try to sell the kayaks? If this is representative of a report about a solo boat trip is then I expect you're all hoping I do.

Here's some closing words from Douglas Adams in honor of Towel Day and my here-today-gone-tomorrow repeating pond:
Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!” This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for. We all know that at some point in the future the Universe will come to an end and at some other point, considerably in advance from that but still not immediately pressing, the sun will explode. We feel there’s plenty of time to worry about that, but on the other hand that’s a very dangerous thing to say.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Sexism in the Extremes

Subtitle: From Just Preferring Men to Shooting All the Women

I've been a woman for 46 years. I had one epiphany about sexism when I was about 26 years old when a older woman working in the electronics factory overheard me complaining about something insulting said to me in a meeting. She said, "He would have never said that to you if you weren't a woman."

I just had my second epiphany about sexism this spring: Sexists only listen to men. I came to this realization partly as a result of starting to follow women on Twitter and reading about it more. It finally dawned on me that it doesn't matter what women say about this topic. Sexists only listen to men. And everybody is sexist, even feminists. We just don't even know it. My extremely liberal mother will take any advice a man offers, no matter how illogical, without doing any of her own research. She just implicitly believes a man knows what he's talking about. And she automatically distrusts me when it comes to things men usually do. She refuses to believe I can fix a septic tank problem no matter how much research and experience I have.

I was on IM the other day telling a friend of mine (a man) the story of the academic who had her job offer rescinded because she tried to negotiate the details, and about the attorney general in Texas who pays women less than men. My friend said "I don't believe women are paid less than men. If that were true women would have all the jobs."

This was kind of a sweet thing to say, in a way. He genuinely thinks women are just fine. He doesn't get how many companies simply do not want them. They would rather pay more for men than work with women. It reminds me of that Pete Seeger song written by his sister about being an engineer. She was only hired because they couldn't afford a man, but the implication was that they hated it and as soon as the budget increased she would be out so a man could have her job.

I recently figured out that when I was in undergraduate school things were better for women than they are now. Back in the '90s there was such a high demand for scientists and engineers nobody gave a damn if you were a woman or a man. But now that there are so few jobs businesses don't want women, they only want men. Just one example, the percentage of female computer scientists has plummeted from 50% when I graduated from college to less than 30% now.

I mused about this to my father the other day, a man heavily involved in the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club, and he said, "Well of course businesses should preferably hire men. Women will just get pregnant and quit."

My introvert neurology prevented me from formulating a proper response. I just said, "Oh, like all those times I failed to finish a job because I had a baby." (I have been vehemently child free my entire life and have NEVER left a job without reaching the goal of the project.) Of course this exchange has been bothering me ever since. Thanks to reading lots of articles recently about sexism I realized there's nothing I can do about my father. All I could think of to do was write a letter to my brother and appeal to him as the father of three daughters, "Please reassure me you understand how reprehensible that attitude is." He didn't answer.

It requires men speaking out to change the attitudes of men. It's down to men to tell the other men not to rape women. It's down to men to tell other men that they must practice fair hiring and not presume women are mindless baby factories with magical moneybag husbands. (Who does that?! I don't have a lot of women friends from college but the ones I do have make more money at their important responsible jobs than their husbands. I don't think it ever occurred to them to stop working when they got pregnant.)


It's up to men to change the culture so both genders get equal parental leave like Scandinavians. If that was the case then fathers and mothers would have the same expectations. I'm horrified to live in a culture that says Mary Bara, the CEO of GM, is expected to act a certain way about cars that routinely kill people because she's a mother. Were none of the male CEOs fathers? I don't believe it for a second. Why is it up to a mother to not want to kill people with her product but it's ok for a father? I should think any engineer would be insulted as hell by the idea that they should knowingly produce a deadly product, regardless of their gender or reproductive status. Is this just a management major thing, killing your customers?



I think the low end of the sexism spectrum is covered really well in this article on Slate titled "Sexists Don't Hate Women. They Just Prefer Men." It's scientific.
In a review of five decades of psychological research, they found that while most researchers defined prejudice as an expression of hostility, the more pervasive form of bigotry in the United States comes from people who favor, admire, and trust people of their own race, gender, age, religion, or parenting status. Even people who share our birthdays can catch a break. That means that—to take just one example—sexist bias isn’t largely perpetuated by people who hate women. It’s furthered by men who just particularly like other men.
I don't know what to do about that. It seems like a problem that needs a solution, but I'm stumped.

On the other extreme of sexism we have a man in Santa Barbara who went on a killing spree because women didn't find him attractive. There is a part of society telling men that women owe them something. I read some good commentary on this news from rational women. I followed Xeni Jardin's advice on boingboing.com about the YouTube video that has already been taken down. (Seven dead, seven injured in Santa Barbara rampage shooting.) "There are copies floating around. Do yourself a favor and do not watch it, your life will be better for it."

I read an article on Skepchick by Courtney Caldwell titled "'Alpha Male' Elliot Rogers' Retribution."
Of course, instead of talking about these issues, the media will likely default to the usual armchair diagnosis and hand-wringing fuckery about how Elliot Rodger was "crazy" and "mentally unstable." It has already begun with Sheriff Brown who told reporters, "It’s obviously the work of a madman." Spoiler Alert: Unless you were Elliot Rodger's therapist, you don't get to diagnose him. To do so is not only actively contributing to mental illness stigmatization, but it’s perfectly plausible that it's not even accurate. To quote Miri Mogilevsky of Brute Reason, "It is not actually 'crazy' to believe stuff that’s been shoved down your throat from birth." 
We simply can't ignore how dangerous this movement's rhetoric is, while hoping that they'll simply fade into the darkness. If you still think Men's Rights and Nice Guy rhetoric doesn’t actively condone violence against women, you need to start paying attention. If you think society as a whole doesn't tell men that they are entitled to women's time and sexuality, you need to start paying attention. You need to be angry.
BoingBoing referred to PUA and I didn't remember what that stood for at first. I figured out it's Pick-Up Artist. Later there was an article about it on Slate, "The Pick-Up Artist Community's, Predictable, Horrible Response To a Mass Murder."
Rodger was also allegedly a member of PUAHate.com, a website for men who feel they’ve been tricked by the Pick-Up Artist pyramid scheme, which takes men’s money and promises to teach them how to have sex with women. (And not just any woman, but one who scores at least a 7 on the PUA decimal rating scale of female attractiveness.) PUA Hate is a community devoted to criticizing the Pick-Up Artist movement and “the scams, deception, and misleading marketing techniques used by dating gurus and the seduction community to deceive men and profit from them." It is not, however, interested in putting an end to the PUA community’s objectification of women; it simply complains that the tips and tricks don’t work.
Here's a cross stitch design I made for my grandmother
when I was a little girl. This sort of thing taught me
 that I could decide to do something and then do it.
I did not need a self-help coach to teach
 me this about myself.
Despite not recognizing the acronym I do know a bit about pick-up artists. One of my best friends I talk to all the time went to high school with a guy who is part of this community. His name is Tynan. He has an eponymous blog about self-improvement including the story of how he became a Famous Pickup Artist. It seems he approached learning to pick up women as just one of his many projects like learning languages or to play the violin or to support himself playing competitive poker. I have a pretty hard time reading the stuff about pick-up, and actually all the self-helpy stuff grosses me out pretty bad as well. He's not a bad writer, but I've always preferred to figure out for myself how to run my life. To just have somebody else tell me how to do it seems like cheating. One of his recent blog posts about trusting yourself to follow through is a rather precise description of my own approach to life. Yet it makes me very uncomfortable to read it. I would never write that on my blog. I decided to restore an old aircraft trailer so I could sit down to work on my computer. And then I did it. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't finish. I've been starting and finishing projects since I was just a little girl. It seems that if you are old enough to go reading blogs for life advice you are too old to learn to trust yourself to finish something.

I kind of feel the same about the pick-up stuff. I think figuring out what works for you is an essential part of the process. Just having somebody else teach you their extremely offensive method seems like a bad idea. As an empathetic person I can feel Ty's anxiety about women and I understand that he considered it a form of growth to overcome what he saw as a flaw in himself, but the terminology gives me the creeps. The idea of breaking down the act of meeting somebody into defined steps, I don't know, it just feels really wrong to me. I'm not opposed to a systematic approach to things, but in this case I am just not able to get behind it. From How I became a famous pick-up artist Part 1:
When I arrived at Spill, Hayden and others were already there. Immediately, Hayden asked, "Are you ready for your first set?" 
A set is a group of people, including at least one girl, that you approach and talk to.
I'm sorry, I hear "set" and I think of surfers. To me Pick-Up Artists are surfers and women are waves.  "Are you ready for your first set?" sounds like they are paddling out, diving through smaller waves, counting how many are in a set, deciding that the seventh and biggest wave is the only one worth riding. I am simply uncomfortable having this strategy applied to meeting people. Women. I expect they have a term for the woman they are trying to pick up and I don't even want to know what it is. I want this person to not be reprehensible, but I struggle with it. He sounds like a tool. But he's a friend of a friend of mine. They hang out on holidays. I doubt Ty approves of a man shooting up a sorority house. I'm interested to see if he responds to this shooting rampage with a blog post, but he seems to be out of the country.

My point about the pick-up artist is that while I am trying not to hate them all automatically, I'm afraid the people that are delivering advice like they know how to improve everything, well, maybe they actually aren't helping. It may be more important for people to learn to think for themselves

I think there is value in doing your own research so you can choose what to do based on your own capabilities, resources, and personality. People should practice thinking for themselves early and often. It's like the value of really learning to cook so you can read several recipes and then make up a slight variation with the ingredients you actually have instead of just going to the store to buy things you can't afford so you can follow a recipe exactly. You might end up with a great dish that way, but it isn't yours, it's just a copy.

It's important for people to think for themselves, and it's important for the men who really do see women as equals to point out when other men are being unfair.

From BoingBoing, quoting Elliot Roger in the video:
“I will be a god compared to you. You will all be animals. You are animals, and I will slaughter you like animals. I hate all of you. Humanity is a disgusting, wretched, depraved species," the man in the video says.
Well, way to prove yourself right, Elliot Roger. I disagree with his idea that he is somehow above humanity just because he recognizes that they are disgusting, wretched, and depraved. I'm as misanthropic as the next atheist old maid in the south, sure humanity is disgusting, wretched, and depraved. But I don't think shooting up my neighbors who only like people the exact opposite of me is going to make me better than them. Quite the opposite, it would reflect poorly on all atheist old maids and I don't think we need that kind of press. Yet somehow rich white guys can keep doing this shit and it never diminishes the status of their demographic.

** Update May 25 **
From wikipedia rampage killer entry supporting my assertion
about rampage killings by white men.
(Chart doesn't say men, but there are no women's names in the lists.)
Laurie Penny, a writer I follow on Twitter, posted an article on this topic today, "Let's call the Isla Vista killings what they were: misogynist extremism." She writes about feminism all the time; she gets rape threats. She's bona fide. I am surprised that all by myself I came to the same notion about the importance of thinking for yourself. I mean, I guess it makes my point for me, but I'm still patting myself on the back for it. (You can tell she's worked up because of the typos.)
Violent extremism always attracts the lost, the broken, young men full of rage at the hand they’ve been dealt. Violent extremism entices those who long to lash out at a system they believe has cheated them, but lack they courage to think for themselves, beyond the easy answers they are offered by pedlars of hate. Misogynist extremism is no different. For some time now misogynist extremism has been excused, as all acts of terrorism committed by white men are excused, as an aberration, as the work of random loons, not real men at all. The pattern is repeatedly denied: these are the words and actions of the disturbed.
The whole article is very good. She is speaking in terms of how to move forward, what to do about it, which is what I want. Not just blaming the NRA or the Pick-Up Artists, but talking about how the men that AREN'T the problem MUST be part of the solution. If there is to be one at all. I want solutions. It's part of my engineer mentality. But reading the comments under a Laurie Penny article quickly reminds me that most people want to either cast blame or claim it's not a statistically relevant event and disallow using it as a conversation starter to move towards an improvement.
As soon as women began to speak about the massacre, a curious thing happened. Men all over the world - not all men, but enough men - began to push back, to demand that we qualify our anger and mitigate our fear. Not all men are violent misogynists. 
Well, there have always been good men. Actually, I firmly believe that today there are more tolerant, humane men who recognise and celebrate the equality of the sexes than there have ever been before. Today, what I hear from many men and boys who talk to me about gender justice - decent, humane men and boys of the kind the twenty-teens are also, blessedly, producing in great numbers - is fear and bewilderment. Who are these people? Where do they live? And the unspoken fear: do I know them? Might I have met some of them, drunk with them? If the wind had changed when I was growing, if I had read different books and had different friends, might it have been me? If any man is capable of this, is every man capable of it? 
Well, those are the correct questions to ask. What I hear more often, however, is “not all men”. I hear that age-old horror of women’s anger drowning out everything else. Not all men are like this. Don’t look at us. Don’t shout at us. Please, don’t ask us to stand up and be counted. 
One thing I’ve found, when talking to people involved in the savage end of the "Men’s Rights" community, the Pickup Artist scene, or both, is that to a chap they are keen that I understand the difference between their grouplet and the next - those guys over there hate women, those guys over there have a broken worldview, we’re the reasonable ones. And before the charges of book-burning and censorship begin: interpretation does change everything. There are certainly men out there who engage with the ideas of "Pickup Artistry" without absorbing the contemptuous misogyny at its core, much less pursuing it to its conclusion. One of my best relationships, in fact, was with a young man who swore by The Game as a handbook for shy boys who wanted to be able to talk to girls at parties, whilst mocking the sexism at its core. 
So no, it’s not all men. But then it never was. 
But if you think for one second, for one solitary second, that demanding tolerance for men as a group, that dismissing the reality of violence against women because not all men kill, not all men rape, if you think that’s more important than demanding justice for those who have been brutalised and murdered by those not all men, then you are part of the problem. You may not have pulled the trigger. You may not have raised your hand to a woman in your life. But you are part of the problem.
I very grateful that I've only gotten positive feedback on this blog post through Twitter and IM. Both my friends I mentioned in it responded briefly. I'm grateful that so few people read my blog. I don't want to be like Laurie Penny, haunted by violent threats. I like to write, but I sure don't like when mean people read it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A New Chair

I've recently finished a lot of back-breaking projects. I'm projecting forward to a hot, humid summer where chiggers and ticks are lying in wait for me if I try to do any more work outside. It's time to spend some time at the computer. The problem now is I did so much back-breaking work it causes me great pain to sit at the computer on the big blue ball I bought. I hoped it would be adequate. It is so gentle to the new floor in my lab. But it is not working. I keep putting off computer work that I want to actually do. I think I better try a real ergonomic chair.

After I decided this I went to Tallahassee to get a new timing belt in my car. I was killing time perusing Craigslist for any high quality chairs. Not a single used Steelcase, Herman Miller, or Knoll chair in the whole capital city of Florida. I looked for showrooms that would have floor models I could try before ordering a new one. You'd think all those state offices would require a ton of chairs. But Tallahassee is such a backwater wasteland there is nothing I could find open to the public. I decided I might as well stop on my way home at the furniture store across the road from my house, just in case they have something that would work. The furniture people had the same idea as the television broadcaster who put their transmission tower out by me, halfway between cities. There is nothing for 15 miles in either direction, then GIANT FURNITURE STORES! I mostly have ignored these because I have no need of furniture and I don't want to interact with salespeople.

I should have trusted my instincts.

I repressed my revulsion at the sea of poofy recliners and hideous bachelor sofas, sat in both of the desk chairs they had at the back of the store, good looking, but not ergonomic, and started hustling back to the door. I was not fast enough. The salesman stopped me. I allowed as how the chairs they had just weren't what I needed. I may have to go to Atlanta to try out the different new models of ergonomic chairs at Sam Flax.

"Oh! I'm going to Atlanta this weekend!" he said. "I'm taking my daughter to the AMFC tryouts. That's Actors and Models for Christ. It's like American Idol for church."

Oh Jesus. "I've heard of American Idol," I said, "But I've never watched it. I lived in Atlanta for 20 years and I sort of don't have much reason to go back there anymore." I may have overcompensated and said too much in my attempt to disguise my horror.

"What do you do now?" he said.

Salesmen. I know their game. "Nothing," I said.



"Really? Nothing? You should come work here!" he said enthusiastically.

"Oh, no, I don't want a job. I'm... I'm working on a book!" I blurted out. I figured it was a generic blow off, like anybody in California and their screenplay, but boy was I wrong.

"OH ARE YOU?! Let me show you something!" and he whips out a tablet computer and flips through book covers and points to a gaudy orange jacket illustration with some sort of gruesome still life and gothic lettering. "This is my book! I wrote it! It's a thriller. It's like Stephen King."

"It's certainly a... striking... cover?" I ventured. I am really rusty on small talk. I wanted to not be having a conversation with this person. "Thrillers aren't really my thing. I've never read Stephen King," I said truthfully, hoping this would get me off the hook. "I like young adult books."

"Great! My wife told me to write a children's book. I told her I couldn't do it, then proved it by writing one. Let me read you from it...."

Fuck me.

He proceeded to go through three pages of rhyming couplets on his tablet. I was working on what I was supposed to say. It was deeply offensive to me personally. But the more he talked the less I wanted to reveal. But at the same time I felt obligated to stand up for myself.

"By concentrating really hard I think I got past the rhymes to understand what happened. You're saying that the boy was totally wrong to ask his little brother to get out of his bedroom, that wanting to be alone is a huge mistake, and that everybody needs to share their personal space or else they'll be miserable?" I said, incredulously. "That doesn't sound right to me." This was me, a hermit whose longest face-to-face conversation of the year was with her auto mechanic.

"It's important life lessons. Yes, one never wants to be alone. Let me read you another one!" and off he went. It was more tortured rhymes so bad I think I snorted out loud at least twice about a classroom where a boy was punished for expressing individual creativity instead of trying to fit in like the rest of the class. I was starting to back towards the door as I made up some other ambiguous remark about this horrifying affront to everything I stand for.

The salesman physically blocked me at the door, holding the handle and refusing to let me out while he told me about his other book, the one that everybody said had to be made into a movie. It's so long it really should be a miniseries. I can download it for Kindle. "Oh, sorry, I only have an iPad!" I crowed.

"Oh, then I'll tell you about it. It's based on time travel."

Nice. He has covered most of my hot button issues, now he's going to attack physics. Let's see what you've got, buddy. I put my heavy purse down on a console table and crossed my arms.

"It's partly in the Civil War and partly in the Gold Rush. This young man, who is 27 meets this lady who is 32 and they really hit it off, but they can't be together because she is too old for him."

I tried to do that math in my head but I was too flustered to manage it. Knowing that most of my men friends are in their late 20s or early 30s and I'm in my 40s was enough to tell me that his scenario was just way WAY out of line. While I'm counting on my fingers he jumps ahead.

"But then he time travels and when they meet up again they are the same age so they can be together," he finishes. And goes right into something about Indians and nature so convoluted and racist I just blanked out until he said the word "atheist." "So the Christian met this atheist and asked him what he would do if he went into the woods with his father and they got separated and he got lost. Couldn't he depend on what his father taught him to find his way back out again? But the atheist said, 'My father is dead,' and the Christian explains that the father is metaphorical for God and faith in God will help you find your way out of the woods. And the atheist is converted."

At this point I don't think there is a single actual thing in all of my intellect this man hasn't attacked. I'm simultaneously impressed at how thorough he was and horrified. At how thorough he was. This is RIGHT ACROSS THE ROAD FROM MY HOUSE! He gave me his card and I made my escape.

I went back into my woods with my unmarried, childless, atheist self, closed the gate and LOCKED THE CHAIN. I'm not trying to find my way out and nobody better come in, either. I binge watched Continuum, about time travel to stop corporations taking over the world (or maybe just Canada, it's not clear). There are time traveling terrorists, cops, and boy geniuses, but nobody tries to convert any atheists or rejects any women for being five years older. (The evil chemical company is called Sonmanto. I'm not kidding.) I was all alone for a solid week doing creative things with no supervision. Then my 25 year old friend came to visit and I told him about the furniture salesman. He thought it was hilarious. I still can't laugh at it. It just leaves me agape.

I was so traumatized by this event I had to wait two weeks before I could even type up the story. I still haven't dared to look in my purse for that card. I am not about to put a link to his fucking kindle book on my blog anyway. He doesn't deserve one single click. But I do have it as proof I am not making a bit of this up.

After this trauma I redoubled my efforts to secure a chair without dealing with a salesman. I found that Steelcase actually has a demo program where they will FedEx me a black chair for a 14 day trial and then FedEx will pick it up and take it back. I'm totally doing that. I already got my fabric swatches in the mail so I can pick out what color to get if the sample chair is comfortable. I'm thinking about this one. It's called Amia. That means beloved, exactly what I'm looking for in a chair.


Friday, March 7, 2014

EC2014: Across Florida Bay to the Finish Line

Harry and Bryan set out at 6:16 am this morning from Flamingo, with the sun and tide both rising. The weather station in Marathon said there were 15 mph winds from the West, gusting to 20. They had to beat into the wind slightly to get in the channel and start across the very shallow (1 to 2 feet outside the channel) Florida Bay.

The speeds early on were exceptional. The sailboarder was going 10 knots again. Harry was doing about 3.5 knots on an early track point, then the next time I checked he was going 6 knots. That's faster than I've seen him go all week! He must have strapped all his water jugs around his shoulders and hung out the high side of his boat by his ankles! I texted Wes this impressive news.

Friday morning crossing Florida Bay
Then he stopped. His track went up to a little island and didn't move. I didn't get an OK message or anything so I figured he hadn't just had a close call or anything. He probably wanted to put another reef in his sail. I texted Wes to that effect. Wes guessed he was probably just stopping to unclench various orifices. 6 knots is a lot for N8R and Harry. I emailed Hugh Horton and he said that would be extremely tiring. I thought it was possible Harry was also using it as an excuse to wait for Bryan to catch up.
Stop at 11:02 am
Interesting little place where he stopped though.
Stayed here an hour
At 12:02 the track points started moving again. Bryan hit his OK button so I could tell they were together again. Harry went a lot slower after that, so I think he must have rigged up a lot less sail area while he was on that little island.

He got up to 4.23 knots going parallel to the Keys towards the finish. Yet it seemed to take so long! I was excited for him to get there!

I got the OK message at 3:59 pm. That's when the tracker logged him as finished. Elapsed time 6 days, 8 hours, 59 minutes. Outstanding. Good job, JibeTurkey. Good boat, N8R!

Bryan's still not showing up on the results. Push OK, Bryan! Push OK! I think a lot of the results are a bit squirrely. They'll have to update them from the log books for people with devices that failed. I can't imagine they're going to DQ people for that.


Here's the whole map of JibeTurkey's track for the Everglades Challenge. Now he just has to get back to St. Petersburg to get his car and be back at work in West Palm Beach on Monday morning. He has all weekend to do that. I think it will be very easily done. I think for a long time everything will be very easy, relatively speaking.

For the purposes of race-type statistics, here's the final results in Harry's class. I don't know why it shows Anonymous. Error in the database. Here's the results page if you want to study the whole thing. It's interesting to see who didn't finish. Like that Folbot Greenland II, made it to the first check point and dropped out.



Despite moving over 10 knots across Florida Bay this morning, Sean Hawes on the sailboard got to the the finish after Harry. Wonder if that's an interesting story?

Somebody asked me why there aren't many entrants in Class 3. I think it's because sailing canoes aren't a mass produced product. You have to make it yourself or order one from a boatbuilder. That is held up as a barrier to entry. I think when it comes to barriers to entry for the Everglades Challenge the boat you choose is the least of your issues. And the barriers to finish are even more complex.

I have reached the extent of my ability to speculate. Maybe after some time to reflect Harry will write up his thoughts and let me publish them here on Spasms of Accommodation.

Thank you for your attention. It was fun! Now I think I'll go binge-watch that hilarious TV show about Vikings.