~elly@TTBP



03 july 2017
Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. -- Psalms 78:1-3

Summer is upon us. Outside is oppressive, and the clothes I feel comfortable wearing in public (jeans, boots, thermals) are not well-suited for the heat. I need to find a couple of modest dresses, or at least something lighter than what I have. The humidity doesn't help either - it's around 50% most days, enough that you start sweating right away and never stop. :(

On the upside, our back deck is shaded from the sun, so it's a very pleasant place to sit and read, and I've gotten through a couple of books and a considerable amount of fanfiction back there :). Tomorrow we'll have a barbecue for some friends and my immediate family, to celebrate Independence Day, and then a nice short three-day work week. It's hard to believe that we're already halfway through "summer", in the sense that my interns' time on my team is halfway over.

My church has switched to summer services, which are led by lay people, and (importantly) held in the smaller side chapel instead of the main sanctuary, which means we can bring cold drinks in :). Yesterday's service was about the idea of "wholesome living" as meaning like... living in "right relation" with others and with yourself. I do not think I fully understood it, but so it goes.

Let's see... I've been playing Pokemon Alpha Sapphire lately, which I originally got because I had to travel to the SF bay area for work. Every time I have to go on a plane, I get myself a new 3DS game, which is cheaper than most kinds of coping mechanism :). I just got the last gym badge, so the next stop for me is the Elite 4, and then I have to decide whether I care to try completing the Pokedex for Alpha Sapphire or not.

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22 march 2017
They that fear the Lord will not disobey his Word; and they that love him will keep his ways. They that fear the Lord will seek that which is well, pleasing unto him; and they that love him shall be filled with the law. -- Sirach 2:15-16

Some phase change is happening to me. I am nearing an inflection point in my own life and I cannot see what might lie on the other side of it. Scripture sings to me every waking minute, and I see God filling all things. I have had experiences like this before, but never for more than an hour or two, and always under the night sky, out in the woods. This is different. It endures and I do not know why or how. I would be lying if I said I was not scared of this. If God calls, I must answer, and I am afraid of what my calling might be.

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21 march 2017
The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether. -- Psalms 19:9

I really do not like Penn Station. It manages to contain everything cheap and nasty about American culture. The entire concourse permanently smells of fried fast food, the low ceilings and dingy architecture are reminiscent of the worst in "government style", and the people everywhere... even the bookstores are more or less bereft. I spent some time browsing through the largest bookstore in the place and the books on offer were really pedestrian - memoirs by famous people (which can be quite interesting, but are not automatically interesting by virtue of the subject's fame), awful management books like "the fifteen secrets of highly effective teams" and such, and samey techno-thrillers (think like... Michael Crichton knockoffs). To make matters worse, Penn Station seems to be permanently patrolled by hordes of police and soldiers in uniform, for no really discernable reason apart from its being busy. All in all it's thoroughly the worst parts of America: swarming masses of people eating at the same five chain restaurants and reading the same ten books, all under the watchful eyes of twitchy, militarized law enforcement. Ugh.

I had a very good conversation with a coworker today. One of the things we talk about sometimes at work is the idea of "bringing [one's] whole self to work", which I've been trying to put into practice by being more honest with my coworkers about things I feel/think/do. Part of it has been opening up more about my mental health and when outside events influence it - like, what the emotional fallout for me is of an anti-trans law passing in a state I'll never visit, that sort of thing. I also wrote a little bit a couple of weeks ago about my own experience recovering from an eating disorder. Both of those (they were posts on our corporate social network) had people reaching out to talk to me about them, which I thought was very cool. I've also been trying to cultivate deeper relationships with my coworkers in general, which in one case has turned into periodic exchange of multi-thousand word emails as we discuss faith and sexuality with each other :)

Anyway, I was talking to a coworker, and he mentioned the post I'd written about emotional fallout, and said that he really admires the ability to be that open at work. I tend to look at things a lot through a lens of gender, and so I remarked that I often find myself connecting deeply with other female coworkers, but I have a harder time with men. He described having the same experience, like there was a wall between him and other men that makes it difficult to share emotions. I thought that was interesting, and I hope that as more people "bring their whole selves to work" it might start breaking down a little bit.

I have been getting steadily more religious, and I am not sure I fully understand why. It seems to me that religion is like a fire, and sometimes people can sit by it for warmth and comfort while still remaining apart from it, but some people can't resist the urge to throw themselves bodily in and be consumed. I'm a bit worried that the latter might be happening to me... it's increasingily difficult to avoid quoting scripture at work, and that isn't something I want to get into (and probably also it would bother my coworkers).

Still, I can't really shake the feeling that I am being... hollowed out, a little, perhaps so that I can become a vessel for something greater than myself. Down this path lies madness, but the light at the end is too beautiful to turn away.

Eve news: two major things have happened. One is that I've become increasingly involved in the logistics of the faction warfare corp my main character is in, which involves a lot of spreadsheets and hauling but not so much killing. I'm on the fence about that, and considering swapping my main out of that corp in trade for an alt, but I worry that if I did that I would begin to drift away, and I hate doing stuff halfway. If I did leave with my main, too, I'm not sure where I would go... I'm too antisocial to really enjoy being in a corp very much, I think, and I usually play Eve because I don't want to talk to anyone. I have no end of corp invitations, but I think I would go back to living by myself, either in Derelik (my forever-home) or perhaps somewhere more remote, like Curse.

The other thing is that someone attacked my RP-flavored alt corp's Astrahus! I was very lucky that they decided to do so while I had a character from that corp logged on, so I got a notification right away, and was able to log on a gunner to kill a couple of them before the rest got away :)

I am going to go to a reformed Jewish synagogue with an old friend from university next Friday, because they are unhappy with the idea of going for their first time on their own, and in exchange they are going to come to a Sunday service at my congregation with me :) I'm looking forward to expanding that particular horizon a little bit for myself.

I finally figured out what I want to do for my desk ornament at work: I want to get some Warhammer 40k figurines and paint them in our corporate colors, to produce the real Rainbow Legion. I think the bright colors would actually look pretty good so I may get a set of miniatures and try this out. I'd need an area to paint in, but we've been thinking about configuring the basement for that anyway, so this is as good of a reason as any.

The view out the window of the Amtrak train down to Philly is fantastic.

I think that's all for the moment. Be well :)

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18 march 2017
I am in love with high far-seeing places That look on plains half-sunlight and half-storm, - In love with hours when from the circling faces Veils pass, and laughing fellowship glows warm. You who look on me with grave eyes where rapture And April love of living burn confessed, - The Gods are good! The world lies free to capture! Life has no walls. O take me to your breast! Take me, - be with me for a moment's span! - I am in love with all unveilèd faces. I seek the wonder at the heart of man; I would go up to the far-seeing places. While youth is ours, turn toward me for a space The marvel of your rapture-lighted face! -- Arthur Davidson Ficke

I am so drained. Even having taken a day and a half off last week, I just feel like I'm running on empty right now. My body is... alright, I think, but probably hurting for protein, since I'm not eating animals during Lent. I'm very socially burnt out, though, and don't really have a good way to get alone time. Tomorrow is self-care day, so perhaps I will try to spend it alone after church.

I think the drain is a combination of things: Liz being away is always very stressful, plus having a houseguest (which takes away a bit of my alone-space), plus some light drama that happened with my new Eve corp today. One of the things that really pushes me away from being in corps in Eve is voice comms; it's so stressful to be on them, especially when people are constantly talking, that it makes me want to fly solo more and more. It only gets worse when people are arguing with each other, and today people were shouting and just... argh.

I promised myself I'll give it another week. If I really can't take fleeting up with other people and such, I'll drop corp and go back to my ancestral home in Jarizza.

In other Eve news, I started an in-character blog for my PVE alt corp, which is called Anoikis Calling. The blog is here: https://anoikis-calling.tumblr.com/ and I'm trying to post on it once a week. It's written from the perspective of a crewmember on one of the corp members' ships, since I think the NPC crew don't get shown off much in Eve (it is, after all, a game about the capsuleers).

Right now I feel like withdrawing more than anything else, so I'm hiding in my bedroom by myself, with just the two dogs for company. I don't really have any single-player video games that I feel like playing at the moment. I wonder if there are single-player board games? Hmm.

I think I might spend the rest of the evening organizing stuff on my laptop or reading. I should order some paper books from Amazon. Perhaps tomorrow to get more alone time I'll hop on a train into Manhattan and go to a physical bookstore. That's not a bad idea.

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22 february 2017
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. -- Ephesians 4:29

I had a really fantastic conversation with one of my coworkers today; it turns out that he is a lifelong Lutheran, and we talked some about my experiences as a child of atheists, as an LGBT christian, and as a christian woman. It helped me sort out a bunch of my thinking especially around womanhood. In particular, it became clear to me that part of why the biblical image of femininity appeals to me is that it gives me a standard of femininity that I can live up to that isn't as malleable or uncertain as the secular standard feels like it is.

I had another good conversation yesterday about the role of religion in passing down knowledge from generation to generation, too. I think the Catholic Church has a longer institutional memory than any government in existence, and possibly than any other organization of any kind, which is a very cool idea to me.

I actually don't have time to write that much right now since I started writing this entry late, but I needed to get those two things written down so that I can expand on them later :)

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19 february 2017
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. -- Matthew 6:9

A wonderful weekend so far. It's been sunny and warm (for February in New York anyway, at 50-55F) and I've been spending as much time as humanly possible outside. Yesterday me, Liz, and a couple of friends staying with us took both dogs to Mount Prospect Park, and Flurry got herself maximally dirty snuffling around and rolling in some mud. A great time was had by all. Today, Ellie and I went to church together in the morning, then parted ways so I could attend a meeting of the Stewardship Committee, which is concerned with making sure the church can afford to exist. After that I came home and took Flurry on a trip to another park near our house. It was a very peaceful, sort of meditative day; a lot of being outside and being social, interspersed with rereading an old fanfic I love.

I had dinner with my parents and my younger brother on Saturday night, and my dad reminded me that he's been diligently journaling every trip we took together as a family since I was little. He also reminded me that he's been working on a family history, which apparently runs to nearly 150 pages now (!). Today at church, there was a reading adapted from Antoine de St. Exupery, which I'll just blockquote:

Let us bring up our children. It is not the place of some official to hand to them their heritage. If others impart to our children our knowledge and ideals, they will lose all of us that is wordless and full of wonder. Let us build memories in our children, lest they allow treasures to be lost because they have not been given the keys. We live, not by things, but by the meanings of things. It is needful to transmit the passwords from generation to generation. -- Antoine de St. Exupery

I found this very powerful and moving. Sometimes I think about the idea of looking backwards through the past, up the long long line of all the people that not only existed but passed down their stories and ideals and dreams so that I, too, could exist, and I tear up thinking about it. The fact that my dad actually has been making a map of this imagined country of the past is even more moving still, since I can not only imagine it, but actually read back into it. I can know the names and the days of people hundreds of years removed from me, but who nonetheless are still part of me.

Today's sermon, too, was about "The Theology of Home" - what are Homes, how do we make them, why do we have them? Really, it was about chosen families and bonds between people. Something about the conversation with my parents and the reading and the sermon all taken together struck me, and I decided to get back in touch with my favorite aunt, who I fell out of touch with some years ago. I'm feeling good about that decision already, even though she hasn't yet written back to me.

What else is going on? I had a very good conversation with Reuven about symbols. Things that I regularly do or wear or have seem to sponge meaning into themselves, for me. I originally started wearing headscarves back in college, to keep my hair out of my face; the first one I got was a gift from a friend who is still very dear to me. Over many years, they became part of my style and my identity, but lately they've started to take on a sort of religious significance to me - like it feels to me that God intends for me to wear them. Obviously, there are passages of scripture I can dig out to justify thinking this:

But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with [her] head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. -- 1 Corinthians 11:5

Ultimately, though, I don't need to justify it, even to myself. If it makes me feel more connected with God and feels significant and special to me, I should keep doing it.

I think that has to be all for now, since this is getting long and it's getting rather late. Be well, everyone :)

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16 february 2017
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. -- Philippians 4:8

I am feeling Good. I have been in a consistently cheerful mood lately. I think this is mostly because I've stopped reading Twitter, and redirected that time into self-care and the reflective alone time that really recharges me. I decided that I don't actually need the play-by-play of the Washington horrorshow and it's fine for me to catch the daily or weekly summary, so I can just sit down on Sunday and get caught up then. As a bonus, this way I don't have to hear every wild rumor. It feels like everyone's looking for the administration to be doing even worse stuff than they're already actually doing, and so there's leaks and unconfirmed statements and so on and so on. I could burn myself to a crisp trying to follow it all - so I've decided not to.

It's a weird feeling, consciously deciding to be uninformed. That's one of the few things that every brand of city-dweller can agree is bad: being Behind The Times or Out Of The Loop. Having scoped the loop out and decided to opt out of it, of course, is fine, but being unaware of it in the first place is shameful. I wonder how much of this is people justifying their own media addictions to themselves.

I wrote a 4000-word guide to how to fly frigates solo in Eve, which I think is a sign that my addiction to that game has returned to full force. Not displeasing.

I've been thinking a lot about religion lately (kind of a thing with me these days), but I don't have my thoughts arranged enough to write them out at the moment, and I'm tired, so I'll just close with one more scripture verse:

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. -- Proverbs 16:32

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25 january 2017
As a nail sticketh fast between the joinings of the stones; so doth sin stick close between buying and selling. Unless a man hold himself diligently in the fear of the Lord, his house shall soon be overthrown. -- Sirach 27:2-3

On the train back from Philadelphia. I'm healing perfectly, apparently, and I'm cleared to go back to work, go back to sports/hiking, and so on. Nice. This trip was really good all around, so Ellie and I scheduled our follow-up appointments on the same day again :).

We went out for dinner last night at a restaurant in Philadelphia called V Street, right near Rittenhouse Park, and it was amazing. Every single dish was incredible, and even the americano I had as a digestif Ellie found tasty (she usually hates coffee). I'm definitely planning to go back when we're next in Philadelphia (so mid-march :P).

What else is going on? At the moment not terribly much. As my recovery from surgery is finishing, I'm turning myself towards other things. I think I would like to volunteer as an usher at church, so I'll sign up for that, and I'm sure I can find other opportunities as well.

I don't really have anything more to write right now :).

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24 january 2017
Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -- Matthew 5:10

Hello from a train heading down to Philadelphia.

I had a lot of trouble packing for this trip. Some years ago, one of my ways of dealing with stress and uncertainty was to keep a "go bag" with me at all times, containing my identity documents, my laptop and phone, changes of clothes, some tools, and so on - basically everything I'd need to hop onto a plane then and there. This is something I started doing because I was feeling really unhappy in my life at the time. The urge came back today while I was packing for this trip, and I've been thinking a bit about what that might be. I don't think I'm unhappy with Liz and Ellie, but I don't particularly like the direction my country is taking, and I am not that pleased with the state of our apartment right now. The same unsettled feeling is making me want to pack a go bag again. It might be a good exercise to do that anyway...

Guild Wars: I learned to glide! I think I can now do some jumping puzzles or reach some areas that weren't reachable before. Nice. It's cool that Guild Wars doesn't have unrestricted flight like WoW does; something that I feel makes MMOs get stale is when players get "too powerful" in the endgame. The level scaling mechanics in Guild Wars are genius for the same reason - in WoW you sometimes see level-capped players wandering through starter zones, but they can not only absolutely ignore the mobs in the zones, but often passively kill them through damage reflection/auras/retaliation/etc. Since Guild Wars scales you down to the level of the zone you're in, elite monsters never stop being a threat, even when you're in a starter zone - which also means they can have daily quests that lead you back to the starter zones, which makes new players and veterans mix. It's a really clever design.

I don't usually write about politics, but the first few days of the Trump administration have been a mixture of the authoritarian and the bizarre, and I want to think about it a bit. Some of the steps taken - forbidding federal agencies from using social media - are reflective of a really deep distrust of the (predominantly left-leaning) federal government. Some are populist canards, like the federal hiring freeze (what - does he think the government will simply start doing less work? they'll end up hiring contractors). A lot are gifts to the big businesses that either supported or are now supporting Trump, like the renewal of work on the Dakota Access Pipeline (!!) or the freeze on EPA grants to researchers. The already-much-derided "Day of Patriotic Devotion" is essentially authoritarian in nature and intent; countries worthy of devotion or patriotism don't generally need days set aside for expressing the same. The calls for "unity" are calling not for compromise but for acquiescence and silence.

And then there's the bizarre. The lying, especially about obvious facts, to journalists who already know better, is baffling. The "alternative facts" debacle with the inauguration crowd sizes is just like... ??? Why even bother lying about that? To what end? People on Twitter have a whole bunch of theories but I don't even know.

Mississippi was hit by a tornado and a bunch of people were killed (I think 20 or so but I don't have the article to hand). Their governor has asked for federal disaster relief. I wonder if he will get it.

I had a really good Eve roam by myself last night. I flew around Providence a bit in a Rifter. I caught a Retriever and killed it, then died after a bunch of Provi dudes dishonored a 1v1 (the shame!), then reshipped, came back, and flew around for an hour or so looking for targets. I didn't find any, but CVA formed up 15 people or so in interceptors and such and clumsily chased me around all night. They do not have good discipline about not having everyone aggress in gatecamps, so it's relatively easy to gatecrash and run from them. There are few joys like flying a fast, agile ship. Since I'm flying solo and don't have any other Eve-committments, I can just log off in space whenever I'm done playing, which is what I did last night. As long as I still have nanite paste and ammo, there's no real reason to go back to a station. I'm thinking about keeping an in-character blog somewhere (!?) but maybe it would be monotonous. Not sure.

I think I need to start a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Ashley and her roommate are interested, and I bet I can get Ellie or Liz to play as well, even if they aren't always available on weekends. I had a rough local setting in mind last time I thought about setting one up, and even started writing it up / mapping it out, so I can probably finish fleshing that out and run it.

Painting Warhammer miniatures looks like it could be quite fun. They're very expensive, though, so it's sort of hard to justify it to myself as a hobby. I've also thought about going to Magic events with Ashley, since I've done a draft before (only one) and had a great time. I'd want to read up on the current sets though.

I'm excited to spend the evening in Philadelphia with Ellie. It's actually the three-year anniversary of our first date :) which is an accident but a happy one. We're going out to dinner tonight at a place she's been raving about, then tomorrow we both have surgical follow-up appointments. After this one I should be good to go back to work, which I am unbearably ready for.

I think that's it for now :).

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23 january 2017
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? -- Matthew 7:15-16

T + 40 days :). Down to Philadelphia tomorrow for my followup appointment (on Wednesday morning), then back up to New York on Wednesday, then back to work on Thursday! I'm feeling recovered enough to go back and really looking forward to seeing my team again. I spent an hour today chewing through my email backlog so I don't have to do it right when I get back.

Guild Wars 2 update: over 50% map completion! I think I'm getting into a sustainable pattern of play - each day I hop on, do dailies, and explore a bit of a zone or do a quest from my story chain, which is a bit under an hour of gameplay. My guild did a Fractal together the other day which was tons of fun, so I'll be looking out for those too.

I picked Eve Online back up again as well. I have no idea how I'm going to play both Eve and GW2 after I'm back at work :) but I don't have any real commitments in either game so I figure I'll just let it shake out. Right now I'm living by myself in lowsec, roaming nearby null (specifically Providence, because Derelik is my spiritual home).

I have also been playing Starcraft 2 a whole bunch. I'm getting to the point where I can see the glaring deficiencies in my own play, but I'm not sure whether I care to invest the time to fix them properly. There are so many good games and I can't choose to be good at all of them. :( In that vein, I have been badly neglecting playing Chess. I'm sort of self-conscious about how bad I am at it, so I've been avoiding taking games with randoms on lichess. Perhaps I just need to bite the bullet and do it. :\

Soon I'll have more stuff to write about than just games, I promise :)

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03 january 2017
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; -- 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Not much of a day, sadly. I went to the coffeeshop and played some games, but I spent a lot of the day in a dispiriting holding pattern. I need another hobby - something that feels like achieving something, which I can do when I can't go out walking. I really hate the feeling of having wasted a day.

Once I'm recovered I think perhaps I should start dating again (?), or maybe just finding more local friends. I should go to the trans picnic with Ellie :)

I think that's it for right now. Tomorrow will be better.

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02 january 2017
Health and good estate of body are above all gold, and a strong body above infinite wealth. -- Sirach 30:15

Hello!

I somewhat fell out of the habit of writing these because of surgery, but as I try to get back into the swing of my usual life, I figure I should return to these as well :).

My main Thing at the moment is still surgery recovery. Dilations are a nuisance but not actually very difficult or painful in the moment, which is a blessing. I have been getting steadily stronger and more flexible, too; a few days ago I was able to hobble to my coffeeshop, and today I managed a 2-mile walk with my dog, which is extraordinarily fast progress for T + 19 days. I'm also experiencing way less pain than most people seem to, which is another good sign; I can sit on chairs (:O) for some hours already, which is something that I think Ellie still struggles a bit with. The main issue I'm having right now is the pain from nerves healing and from some tissue that I think is a bit irritated; it's nothing major but it's definitely noticeable. Ow.

I have been mostly filling my time with Pokemon Moon and Starcraft 2. In Pokemon I've been playing through the story and I actually just finished it today, so now it's time to go Pokedex-filling :). Since Pokemon is for the 3DS it's convenient to play whenever I'm avoiding sitting up, and it's deeply engaging in the exact same way I remember Pokemon Red being when I was like 11.

In Starcraft 2, I've been working my way through the Legacy of the Void campaign, which I hadn't played before. It's just as well done as the previous two campaigns and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I've also just started playing the co-op mode, which lets you play a 2-player scenario map with a friend and has some between-session leveling mechanics and such. It's a clever idea, neatly executed again, and I'm definitely going to play more of it.

Other than that I haven't been doing a whole lot, which is exactly what I'm meant to be doing during recovery. I've been watching various esports, which is making me think I should pick a video game to try to be Good at. I'm not sure which one it'd be, though, and I'm not really competitive enough for like, the idea of a championship or a high rank or whatever to draw me into playing.

I've been giving some thought to what I want to get done in 2017, since this is the time of year to plan about it :)

Here's how that is shaping up:

I think that's my list for the moment. Enough to start with, anyway :)

That's all for now, but I will hopefully write tomorrow :D

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17 december 2016
Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise. -- Jeremiah 17:14

Hello from my surgeon's recovery suite :D

The scripture passage at the top today is shamelessly lifted from the wonderful card tilde.town made me, which is in ~vilmibm/elly_card.txt; I strongly suspect that krowbar put it there, but it's unattributed.

This is going to be my Big Surgery Post, where I'll explain in relatively explicit detail what I have done and am still yet to do, and talk about how far I am along in the process. A lot of this will be very TMI and very medical, so please don't read if you don't want to hear the gross details :)

A couple of days ago (December 14), I had a vaginoplasty, performed by a surgical team in Philadelphia. I think it's fair to say that the leadup to this has been several years long, but I've only recently gotten to a point in my life and career where I felt I could afford to spend 2ish months not working while I recovered.

So, what have I done so far? I came down to Philadelphia on the 12th with a friend who is staying with me for the duration. I had my last solid meal on the night of the 12th (at Fado, an Irish pub in downtown Philly), then for all of December 13, I was on a diet of only clear liquids, which practically meant I subsisted on gatorade, coffee, tea, and water for the entire day. At the same time, I was doing the "bowel preparation" procedure, which is about as fun as it sounds. Starting at midnight on the 14th, I had nothing at all to eat or drink.

We caught a taxi to the hospital at 5:15am on the 14th, got there at around 6, and I filled out a ton of paperwork. Reuven (the friend mentioned earlier) and I then parted ways, and I got put into a stretcher and wheeled down to anesthesia. There, I signed yet more forms, and had an IV needle put into my right hand. After my surgeon was ready, I started getting wheeled to the OR, and that's where my memories end, since the general anesthetic also causes some retrograde amnesia. Anyway, surgery happened for some hours, and then I was taken back to the anesthesia department until the anesthetic wore off, and then down to a hospital room.

I spent the next two days on strict bed rest - basically no moving allowed - in the hospital room, on a morphine drip, and I can now reliably say that morphine is absolutely awful. I don't really remember much of my stay except that the morphine made it difficult to sleep and difficult to stay awake, so I spent most of the two days in a kind of twilight delerium and came out of the experience extremely exhausted and unhappy. I also had drains (little plastic things that suck blood out) and a catheter put in, since my new anatomy isn't up to actually peeing yet and there's usually a bit of residual bleeding around the surgery site.

I got discharged from the hospital yesterday (the 16th), took a taxi (!!) to the surgeon's recovery suite, and got checked in there. I'm now essentially on less restrictive bed rest for another 4-5 days, with Reuven taking care of me instead of nurses, and the surgeon's staff checking in on me every day or so.

Apart from the drains and catheters, I also have some "packing" inside my new vagina, which makes sure it heals in the right shape and at the right size. This feels even more freaky than it sounds, as someone unfamiliar with the sensations of vagina ownership, and I'm constantly aware of its presence. On Tuesday (December 20), I get the catheter, drains, and packing removed (woo!), but to keep the healing process going properly, I have to "dilate" regularly, which involves sticking pieces of plastic of precise and unpleasant sizes inside myself on a daily basis. I am not really looking forward to that part, but it will be considerably better than the catheter/drains/packing setup I'm sure.

So far, I feel like I am recovering very well. My surgeon said my results look "spectacular", which is nice to hear, and my nurses have all said it looks like I'm healing very well. I feel very little pain, which is heartening; so far I have only barely touched the percocet they gave me for post-surgery pain management.

Anyway, then on December 21, I get discharged from the recovery suite and I get to go home :D After that, it's a couple of months before I'm well enough to go back to work full-time (dilation is extremely time-consuming and exhausting when you first start it), and some months after that before I can resume athletics. I'm impatient for all that to be over, but I also feel like the hardest parts are behind me already :D

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07 december 2016
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. -- John 1:5

Slowly settling into our new place. We have most of our stuff unpacked, except for a couple of boxes of clothes and some miscellaneous house stuff that doesn't have a home yet in the new place. We've also started doing some maintenance and trying to fix things that don't work as we'd like. So far so good.

The main sticking point so far is internet service. No local ISP has service already provided to our address, and since this is a new place, there's no extant cable hookup / etc, which means that in order to get internet service, we have to get someone to come and do capital-c Construction, which implies a lead time on the order of weeks. Until that happens, we're stuck with tethering to our cellphones, which have low data caps, high latency, and low bandwidth. The result is that all of us are doing our "low-internet" hobbies: Ellie is reading unbelievable amounts of fanfiction, I am playing PS4 games (which I mercifully own on actual physical media), and Liz is... well, I'm not sure what Liz is doing. It's oddly peaceful, though, being almost forced out of my usual night-time relaxation routine and into something unfamiliar. Last night I read from a physical novel for the first time in a while :)

It's T minus 7 days to surgery, also. My last day of work is on Friday, then I am on medical leave until the end of time more or less. I really hope we have internet sorted by the time I get home from the hospital or I might go stir- crazy. I guess I should protectively lay in a store of books against the possibility :)

I wonder what life would be like if I spent every evening, or part of every evening, off the internet? Not sure if it would be better or worse, but it could be interesting to try.

Hm, I think that's it for now. A lot of my posts lately have been just status updates without any discussion, which is a shame because I have a lot of thoughts about things, but I lack the time and energy to turn them into coherent posts. Oh well!

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05 december 2016
And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. -- Acts 5:38-39

Bone tired. Two long days back to back this weekend, then I slept terribly last night (like, 4 hours of sleep :(), then we did more moving today. I'm about to go to bed and it's not even 8:30pm yet. Goooooood night.

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03 december 2016
Quench not the Spirit. -- 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Moving moving moving! Today the movers came to pack up all our stuff, and I went to the new place to do a couple of hours of yardwork. The yard had been left to its own devices for some months, which in Brooklyn means not only the hardiest strains of weeds, but also a thick layer of assorted rubbish that has just somehow drifted there, as if it sprouted from underground. I now have seven bags of yard waste and a much cleaner yard, but we still need mulch for some ground cover. We also put together some Ikea stuff, although we have this one table which is like... it's made of wood but shipped with sheet metal screws, which are difficult to drive into wood, so we went and got some wood screws, but those aren't meant to be driven into hardwood without a pilot hole, so I snapped the heads off two of them. :(

Look at me over here, writing an entire paragraph about yard work and furniture assembly. Homeownership!

What else is going on? Tomorrow the movers come and pick up our stuff and take it over to the new place, then leave the boxes in the right rooms. We're going to spend most of Sunday unpacking, putting more furniture together, and trying to settle into the new place. We badly need new... just about everything, honestly. Basically every scrap of cookware we own dates from before me and Liz met, and a lot of it is showing its age. Also, I'm almost out of clothes... :( I think I need to make a trip to Gap (I get all my clothes at Gap, basically :P) and to... where do I even get pans from. Are we yuppie enough to go to Williams-Sonoma? That would be a little too much, maybe. I have no clue where else to get cookware from that will last a while.

If I can, I want the inaugural dinner at our new place to be food we've cookedd :) - part of my sinister plan to do Less Takeout.

The only other thing on my mind right now is surgery. T minus 11 days. I have one more work week, then a weekend, then I head down to Philadelphia. I'm ready.

Nothing else to write about, I think.

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01 december 2016
What [doth it profit], my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what [doth it] profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. -- James 2:14-17

A pretty great day, actually! Slept in late-ish (like, 8am), took Flurry to the park, commuted, did a half-day of work, then therapy and more volunteer work at church. This time we had over 20 people (!) where last time I went we had four. There were even some children volunteering, which was good to see. There were only two men, though, out of 20+ people :. There's a saying (actually about evangelical churches) that "the church rests on the shoulders of women but is led by men", and it seems like it would be true of our church too except that we are led by women :). I a little bit wonder why the gender imbalance was so big and if that is true for other volunteer events too. We'll see, I guess, since I definitely want to keep volunteering :D

Let's see, what else. The quote from James at the top of this post is one I think about a lot because it aligns closely with the UU motto of "deeds not creeds" - i.e., the articles of our faith should not need to be spoken, because they should be apparent to anyone who watches what we do. James 2:14-17 says that the works are what actually matter, just as much as the faith that underlies them; works without faith are meaningless, but faith without works is a sterile theory sitting in your head. All the knowledge and understanding and wisdom in the world has no weight if it's not put into practice. The same passage goes on:

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. -- James 2:18

This means specifically that good works are how we are meant to demonstrate our faith, and that good works serve as their own demonstration of faith; good works are evidence of faith, and without good works, faith has no evidence. The Protestant work ethic in a nutshell :)

Tomorrow, dinner and hangouts with Sophie, and then this weekend, the move-pocalypse over to our new place. I'm very much looking forward to it :D

That's it for now.

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29 november 2016
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it]. -- Hebrews 4:2

Not a very productive day at work, but afterwards I went to church to do some volunteer prep work for a fundraiser we're having, and that made it feel all better. Nice. The rest of the week is busy too: date with Ashley on Weds, therapy and more volunteer work on Thurs, hangouts with Sophie on Friday. Also, Eternal came out of beta :D so I played a bunch of that after I got home.

I sort of want to write about the Hebrews passage above, but I left writing this post until like 2340, so I don't have the time to do so before bedtime :( Maybe tomorrow night.

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28 november 2016
Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness [which] they have prescribed; To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and [that] they may rob the fatherless! -- Isaiah 10:1-2

A very good day! Not a terribly productive work day per se, but some good talk on IRC, a good therapy session, and an excellent dinner and catch-up with an old friend afterward. We had a really honest and refreshing conversation about politics and the future of the world, and it was good to be really engaged with someone who wasn't like, actively freaking out about it. We talked a bunch about likely Russian aggression in eastern Europe, and when I got home I was greeted by a BBC article with this money quote from May:

At a press conference in No 10 following the first-ever UK-Polish summit, Mrs May also confirmed the UK is to send 150 troops to Poland to help "deter Russian aggression" in Europe.

Check that out. The UK feels the need to deter Russian aggression against an EU and NATO member. I wonder why that is?

Also, I picked up something beautiful today: a black hardcover KJV bible! There is a picture on my instagram. I love the understated look, and the actual text is gorgeous also.

Out of stuff to write about at the moment, but maybe tomorrow I will write about C error handling conventions :)

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27 november 2016
Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I [am] strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge the all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness [is] great. -- Joel 3:9-13

A lovely day. Church service in the morning, then lunch with a friend, then home to spend time with the family. I've been off the internet all day, which has been thoroughly relaxing. I really like making time like that to just be myself and experience things directly and firsthand. I have a habit (I think a lot of people do these days) of experiencing things vicariously instead of directly - like, looking at pictures of something on social media, or reading about other people's perspectives or experiences, or whatever. I want to get away from it because one of the sources of unitarian universalist faith is the direct, transcendent experience of divinity, which can necessarily only happen "in person". I've had experiences like that before. One of the ones I remember often was in Boston, walking outside on a winter night, and just looking up and seeing that the clouds and the trees were arranged just so, and it felt like I was standing momentarily at the center of a stage, in a divine spotlight, waiting to say my line. The experience and the feeling had a lasting impact on me. It sounds cheesy and trite when I write it down like this, but that's one of the inherent properties of these kinds of experiences - they aren't serialize-able into words.

It reminds me of a phrase from Kafka: "a cage went in search of a bird". I sometimes think of the written word as a cage, in this sense: every experience or thought or sensation we have, we try to put it into writing, where it can be contained, sterile, on a page. Worse, everything that doesn't fit into writing is somehow lesser. You can see this in basically every western tradition of thought - the idea that things have to be trapped and frozen and written down, just as understandable and meaningful a hundred years hence as they are today. I wonder what ideas we exclude this way?

I started designing a Thing for building MUD worlds in a nicer way than like "write a bunch of JSON by hand". I made some progress, but ultimately the experience of building by writing YAML files was tedious, and limited by the syntax YAML supports. Instead, I think I'm going to write a single-user "MUD" program that lets you build a world into a sqlite database interactively. I'm not positive about sqlite; I don't have much experience with it, but it could be good to learn.

Speaking of learning, I started trying to learn Go. It's... okay, but there are some sharp edges and some stuff is really more painful than it should be. I'm already sick of writing if err != nil { return err } and I'm agog that there isn't lambda syntax (??) but, warts aside, it seems like a nice language to do network services and such in. Unfortunately, I was writing a string-heavy single-threaded thing, so Go wasn't exactly shining for me and I ended up switching back to Python. Oh well :(

I wandered around the lower east side today and took a ton of photos :) I'll have to remember to put them up on Instagram tomorrow evening.

I think that's all for now.

PS: I am informed by my lovely wife that Go does have lambdas, but they are called "function literals". TIL.

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26 november 2016
A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not ever been the like, neither shall be any more after it, [even] to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land [is] as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. -- Joel 2:2-3

Life is great :). Liz and I started doing the setup for the new place and getting ready to move; we think we'll be able to move in a week and change. Also it's T minus 2.5 weeks to surgery! I feel very ready, and at this point just impatient to get it over and done with so I can get back to everything else. I had Thursday and Friday off for thanksgiving. On Thursday we (well, Liz and Ellie :P) cookied thanksgiving dinner for us + some friends, and we played a bunch of board games together and generally just Did Companionship. On Friday Liz and I went over to the new place and laid down tape markings for where we want all the furniture to go, then Liz went with one of her partners to Ikea and picked up a whole bunch of the stuff we don't already own. The new place is like double the size of the current place (!) and I was pretty worried that we would end up with most of it empty, but I feel like we came up with an arrangement that actually fits pretty well. Today, I did housework at our current place, Liz did housework at the new place, and Ellie and I made a trip (her first since surgery!) to a bakery near our place for coffee and a celebratory cupcake. I feel like I got a lot done today and I'm generally in really good spirits. I managed to get blood work for surgery done last week, which was something I'd been fretting about a bit (I do not like blood work at all). Not only did I get it done but it turned out to be a lot less awful than I remembered it being, so I'm gonna not worry as much about that in the future.

I'm actually very ready to go back to work. Tomorrow I have church as usual, then I'm going out for a late lunch with a friend from work, then there's a volunteer event at church in the evening that I'm going to go to. I've never done anything outside of service at church before (except the introductory theology/history class I took) so I'm really looking forward to that.

Liz said something the other day that made me tear up: we were joking about having bought our new place in cash, and I said "well, I married into money" (this is totally true btw, Liz gets paid like, 4x what I do :P) and Liz said "yeah, well, I married into happiness". I just... yeah :).

The scripture quote on this post is from Joel, which is one of the apocalyptic fire-and-brimstone books (I think :P). I don't have a lot to say about it but I find it beautiful, so here it is.

Hm, I think that's all for now :)

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21 november 2016
LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? [How long] shall they utter [and] speak hard things? [and] all the workers of iniquity boast themselves? They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, and afflict thine heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard [it.] -- Psalms 94:3-7

One of the things people have been recommending is to write down a moral anchor for yourself, so that if the goalposts move and different stuff gets normalized you can look back at them and see your past self's perspective. I've been thinking about my morals a lot lately anyway, so this seems like a good time to write about it.

As I see it, the highest law is love; to quote John 4:21:

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. -- John 4:21

Clearly, we are commanded to love everyone. So, what does that mean for our behavior? If we love someone, their spiritual and emotional and physical growth is as important to us as our own; their fulfillment and contentment are as vital to us as ours. This is a bit nuanced, though; loving someone does not mean enabling their every desire. It does not mean not opposing them, possibly forcefully, when they are wrong or doing something evil. It does not mean letting them speak or act unjustly, because unjust speech or actions diminish them and bring them further from God's light. Loving someone does not mean agreeing with them, and may mean vehemently disagreeing. For example, loving a member of the nazi partyalt-right does not mean accepting their hateful ideology; rather, it means working to understand why they hold it and to change their mind away from it, since holding those beliefs is harmful to them.

All other commandments flow from this. In particular, all the exceptions to the commandments come from this! The commandments are:

  1. Honour thy father and thy mother.
  2. Thou shalt not kill.
  3. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  4. Thou shalt not steal.
  5. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  6. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, nor...

These are given in Exodus 20:12-17. The prohibition against lying, for example, is widely acknowledged to have exceptions. If one were sheltering people wanted by the government unjustly, it would be an act of love not only for the victims but also for the oppressors to lie about sheltering them; this protects the victims from suffering or death, and protects the oppressors from adding another sin to the weight on their souls.

So, okay, I've been dodging the point of this a little bit. What's my list of moral principles?

  1. I will not hate. This is sometimes really easy (people I know, groups of people) and sometimes harder (specific people I dislike).
  2. I will not lie. There's an "unless" here, but I will do my best not to lie to protect myself. If I ever feel like I need to be quiet about who or what I am to protect myself, I'll start being loud about it instead.
  3. I will not assist in evil. It's hard to draw bright lines here because a lot of things in capitalism are pretty evil, but in a nebulous and broadly- defined way, so I need to be more specific: a. I will not be silent, or stand by, while my neighbors are treated as suspects or criminals or un-people. b. I will not be complicit in the environmental death of the planet, insofar as I can. c. I will not betray people's secrets without their consent. d. I will not keep secrets that should not be kept.
  4. I will not discourage others. That means no cynicism, no normalization, no minimization, no devil's-advocating.
  5. I will not sacrifice others to protect myself, nor allow others to be sacrificed for my benefit.

I don't even know if this is a good start or not. This calls for meditation and prayer, still.

Unrelatedly: Diablo 3 update! I just passed paragon 100, and can comfortably do level 20 greater rifts now. I'm mostly farming level 15 greater rifts and T2 nephalem rifts for gear at this point. Progress is slow but steadyish.

I think that is it for now :) Be well, everyone.

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20 november 2016
Thou [art] beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as [an army] with banners. -- Song of Solomon 6:4

Two things today:

First, it's me and Liz's fifth wedding anniversary! Five amazing years and hopefully many more to come :D. We went to church together (Liz's first time!) and then went out for dinner this evening at one of our favorite places. It was low-key, lovely, and very Us. We talked politics over dinner, as one seems to do lately.

Second, it's Transgender Day of Remembrance, on which we remember the transgender and genderqueer people who were murdered during the previous year. 2016 has been a bad year so far. Nobody thinks things are likely to get better any time soon.

Today's church service commemorated TDoR, but was mostly about thanksgiving and native Americans. We talked about how the original role of native Americans in thanksgiving is almost always forgotten (that role being like, "kept the settlers from starving to death") and how the history of interaction between Europeans and native Americans has been pretty much all exploitation, theft, and genocide from the beginning. We then drew parallels to the Dakota Access Pipeline: originally, the pipeline was planned to be just north of Bismarck, but it was decided to move it because the area around Bismarck was "high impact", with the obvious implication that the native lands it was moved to are not. The church has been really active in the NoDAPL campaign, and I hope we continue.

I don't actually have a whole ton more to write about right now. I just finished Redeeming Love, which is a christian romance novel set in the 1800s. I adored it but it is seriously sex-work-negative, so ye be warned.

I think that's it for now :)

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16 november 2016
Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city! She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; she drew not near to her God. -- Zephaniah 3:1-2

We closed on our new place today! We are now the proud owners of a 3-bedroom condo in Brooklyn :). This is the end of months of work, pretty much entirely done by Liz, and now the next step is to move in.

I can't think of anything else to write about just now.

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15 november 2016
Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. -- Matthew 5:9

I want to write today about a subject which is near to my heart and which is one of the pillars of my faith. To start off, I need to write a little on the subject of universal salvation, which is a christian theological position. Most Christian denominations believe in a doctrine called 'special salvation', which holds that some people enter heaven after death and some people do not. What, exactly, gets you into heaven varies by denomination: Calvinists believe it is pre-ordinated; many other denominations believe it comes from faith, or from good works, or obedience to commandments set down in the scripture or in traditions, and so on. There's a central problem lurking at the heart of the doctrine of special salvation, though, which is this seeming contradiction:

  1. God loves every single one of us
  2. God sends some of us, permanently, away from heaven after we die

There's a lot of different answers to this problem, most of them beyond my rudimentary theology, but 'universal salvation' is a doctrinal answer. Those who believe in universal salvation hold that every person, no matter what, is eventually 'reconciled' with God. That addresses the contradiction above.

The idea of universal salvation is tied firmly into my personal faith. The main tenets of my faith are:

  1. All of us - every person - is a child of God.
  2. All of us are placed on earth as part of a journey of understanding, which continues into the afterlife after our bodies die.
  3. Once we reach the end of the journey of understanding, we become one with God.

There's a critical point here: all of us, no matter what we do or believe or think in life, are on the journey of understanding. Our souls remain until they reach the end of the journey. That might be at the death of our bodies, or it might be far, far afterwards, but all of us eventually reach it. What this implies is that not only are all of us here on earth children of God, but also every one of us will eventually become (part of) God.

One of the consequences of this line of thinking is that bad or evil things that happen, no matter what they are, are part of a journey of understanding; perhaps not mine, but someone's, somewhere. Every single thing that happens is part of this endless flow of souls towards and into God. What that means is that nothing happens without a purpose; everything, even if it seems evil or horrible on the surface, is part of something bigger and older and more complex than I can ever grasp.

Anyway, enough about my faith for now I think! Some exciting news: Liz gets home tonight from Ireland! I have missed her terribly. We have our lives set up so that each particular task is done by one or the other of us for both of us, so when one of us is missing, everything sort of falls apart :P. It'll be good to have her back, and I think she won't be travelling again until next year some time, so we'll get lots of good home time together. I've felt super close to her lately - I think we've been talking more, which is awesome.

I think I'm going to end this one on that note :)

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14 november 2016
Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: Though war should rise against me, in this [will] I [be] confident. -- Psalms 27:3

Nobody seems to know what kind of foreign policy Donald Trump wants to have. A lot of people think he's an isolationist, but it's also clear that he has no principles or experience, so it's most likely he will defer to his advisors. It follows that who he picks for key cabinet positions will make a considerable difference in government policy - certainly much more than usual. So, let's look at his five suggested picks for defense secretary:

Anyway, every single one of them seems to support a rather interventionist foreign policy more in line with what the GOP establishment has historically preferred, which suggests that a Trump presidency would actually be more interventionist than one might guess from his populist rhetoric. I would expect to see the United States in more wars rather than less.

So, what does this mean for the rest of the world? Well, Europe is eyeing a weakening NATO (Trump said a while back that he might consider not defending NATO members if they were attacked) and a weakening EU (brexit and the looming prospect of a Le Pen victory in France) and then nervously looking eastward, and I think their defense staffs are getting skittish. Germany is pushing for more EU military; if Le Pen wins and France takes an isolationist turn, Germany would find itself staring down Russia without a nuclear-armed ally, which sounds like a recipe for nerves in Berlin to me. A united EU could stand against Russia, but I worry that Russia is feeling expansionist and the eastern european countries are awfully tempting right now - especially after the international community did nothing for Ukraine.

Also, China: if the US actually did pull out of Southeast Asia substantially, it would obviously be a massive gift to China, which would become the region's sole power. They would be able to apply economic or military pressure pretty much at will, and if I were a small country, that prospect would be very worrying indeed. It's basically in everyone's interest in southeast asia for there to be a balance of power between China and the American-Japanese alliance, and an isolationist foreign policy would really weaken that, invariably pushing small countries towards China's sphere of influence. There's a good piece in the Straits Times about it Singapore's concerns about China.

I'm a little tired of writing about foreign policy now, but here are the headline points:

  1. American isolationism plus Russian/Chinese expansionism spells a Bad Time for Europe and Asia;
  2. American interventionism and military expansion probably doesn't;
  3. Trump's stated policy is isolationist, but all his SecDef picks seem to be interventionists;
  4. And so the international situation might not be as dire as it looked.

What else is even going on? I had a good conversation with a coworker today, who turns out to be Roman Catholic. We talked at some length about faith as a source of strength, and about being people of faith in an almost entirely secular culture (ie, the tech industry). Both of us are fervently hoping that the people around us without our faith in God will be able to find some kind of stability and resolve to go on. My twitter feed is filled with people destroying themselves with anxiety and fear, and I feel like the eye of the storm; I know this is all part of God's plan, and so I am not afraid.

I had a pretty good day at work today, actually. It feels good to get back into the groove of being productive. I have about three work weeks left (!) before I vanish: this week, then the first two weeks of december. Yikes. I have a LOT to get done and not much time to do it.

Oh! Today is T minus four weeks from surgery! Today is the day I stop HRT, and I need to get blood work done in the next week or so. I'll ask OneMed about that tomorrow. We have a OneMed office right near work so it shouldn't be too hard.

I sort of feel like I'm coming back to life somehow.

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13 november 2016
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. -- 1 Timothy 2:1-2

I think I need to quit Twitter.

I've been driving myself crazy with it lately. My feed is an endless storm of horrible predictions about the future, horrible news from the present, and horrible stuff from the past. The actual news is difficult to handle, but the constant stream of argument and discussion about whether this or that tactic or self-care technique is workable or ideologically sound or effective is really maddening. Honestly, I think I've probably seen fifty people arguing just about the safety pin symbol today, and like... I don't know, I just can't be bothered to read arguments about it one way or the other any more. I think I need to deeply adjust the way I relate to social media, so that I'm not so reliant on social media for news, because it's an incredibly ghastly way to get it. I follow people in multiple different echo chambers, so whenever something happens, not only do I get a dozen breathless takes on it, but I get a dozen breathless takes on it from each side! Perhaps I should go back to keeping up with RSS feeds for news and get actual subscriptions to a couple of real news sites instead of trying to extract any meaning from Twitter.

Here's a bit of positive news, though: I've discovered a very effective form of self-care when I'm feeling helpless. If I start to worry that I can't make a change in the world, I get dressed, go outside, and just pick up litter off the street and gutter for a while. It's soothing (and kind of gross, to be honest) and afterwards I'm one hundred percent sure that I made a positive change in the world. You might ask "what do you do if you can't find any litter to pick up?", to which I would reply that I am in New York, and I have literally never seen a street without litter in my 18 months here.

Here's my plan for the next while:

That ought to keep me busy, especially with surgery coming up. Speaking of which, surgery is coming up! It's four and a half weeks away. I still don't really feel scared or worried about it. I'm actually finding that I have a much deeper reserve of both energy and willpower since I started attending church , which makes me wish I'd started a long time ago :) F'rex, earlier tonight, I straight up emailed our landlord to fix something, then called a plumber, and it wasn't even a thing. I think this is a mix of church giving me social- skills practice and it giving me more strength. I am so glad Ellie invited me to attend with her.

One of the things I want to do is get to know how both local and state politics in New York actually work, because I have no idea at all. I more or less voted straight party line in the election just now, which feels crummy. I'd especially like to know what's up with local politics, since I feel like it's an arena I could actually make some difference in.

Liz suggested visiting one of the (predominantly black) Christian churches in our neighborhood. I'm not Christian but I'm also kind of curious. I don't know if this would be rude or not. Maybe I can just ask someone?

Oh, I need to have another baking adventure, too.

Something Reverend Ana mentioned during service today: keeping sabbath as a form of self-care. Specifically, she makes a point of setting time aside during which she does neither work nor travel. I think she does it on Sunday, but if so she must be making an exception for the actual church service :) so maybe it's at another time. Still, it got me thinking about the idea of having a no-electronics time for myself every day, or for a day once a week or something, where I just don't internet or computer at all. I've done this a few times as one-offs and always found it very refreshing. This could be a good way of unplugging and relaxing a bit. Perhaps I'll declare Sunday to be no-electronics day :).

I actually feel a lot better than I did a couple of days ago. Today's service was really helpful for that, and so's writing this post, because it's helping to dispel the helpless "what do I do??" feeling. I don't think most of the stuff I listed here will change the course of the country but it is Good Stuff I Can Do and having that is vital for my own mental health.

Here, I'm going to close with another scripture passage:

He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. -- Psalms 33:5

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12 november 2016
Then builded they the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for them. And they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein. -- 1 Maccabees 1:33-34

A refreshing day. I slept in until 0700, had breakfast at a vegan bakery near home, then went to see a friend and her partner to talk about the last month of happenings, hug a bit, and play some Pandemic. After that, back home for some hangouts with Cass and video gaming :). I'm also getting over being sick which has me feeling a lot less drained on every front.

On my way home, I saw a bunch of anti-Trump protestors on the train. I fully support them and I said so to them. It really warms my heart to see people protesting and organizing. I'm sort of distantly hoping that a Trump presidency and a Republican congress will revitalize the American left, which has been more or less dormant since the early 80s, as far as I can tell. Our two political parties are "center-right" and "right", so it would be cool if there was an actual left wing party. Also, Maine passed ranked choice voting! Which has some neat effects, like getting rid of "tactical voting" (where voters vote for a candidate they are sorta ok who might win instead of one they love who they know won't win). I hope this will make third parties way more viable in Maine and if it leaks into other states too it could be a serious change to the way politics are done in the US. There is, at least, a bit of light on the horizon.

On the subject of light on the horizon, Liz and I did some contingency planning. We now have a list of things that could prompt us to leave the country, a list of things we need to do now to be prepared to do that, and a list of places we could go if we needed to leave America. None of the options are perfect, but there's definitely a few that are more than liveable. It would unavoidably mean leaving many of our friends behind, though :. I also struggle with guilt at the idea of leaving everyone who couldn't afford to move to their fate, but... ugh. I hate having to prepare like this, and I hate the idea of having to make this choice.

Tomorrow's church service is special: we're postponing jazz to have a discussion and sermon about the election and the outcome. Our church is extremely liberal and I think a lot of people (including my partners, heh :\) are just devastated and having trouble dealing with the outcome. I wrote about this a few days ago but I've been doing reasonably well. Faith gives me a couple of things: a community to be a part of which will support me and which gives me an outlet to volunteer/donate through, and a belief that there's some larger plan happening here. There's a couple of verses in Psalm 37:

The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, [and] to slay such as be of upright conversation. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. -- Psalm 37:14-15

Sometimes God gives evil people dominion over good, but it never lasts long, and it's always to some better end in the future. As long as I hold onto this faith, there's nothing to despair about.

What else is even happening? Surgery's in four and a half weeks; I stop HRT middle of next week. I'm as ready as I can get. I need some blood work done next week, too.

A couple of friends have been asking me for privacy advice, since they're worried (entirely reasonably) about the apparatus of the surveillance state being turned towards more malicious ends. I've been recommending Signal to just about everyone. I should go have a look at the source some day...

I think that'll have to be it for now. More later :)

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11 november 2016
Dry your eyes, each day you're alone Is one fewer to wait 'til your lover comes home The world is still round, my compass is true Each step is a step back to you Each step is a step back to you -- Heather Dale, "Each Step"

I wish that I could gather all my partners to me and keep them near for the next... however long this takes.

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10 november 2016
And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. [But] the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. -- Leviticus 19:33-34

I have things to say but am too drained to say them. Tomorrow.

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09 november 2016
And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. -- Revelations 18:1-2

So Trump won, and with him are coming a republican House and Senate. I hate to lightly use the word "catastrophe", but... here we are. Nobody knows what to expect or what will happen; nobody can tell which of the things he's said were sincere and which weren't. A couple of things are clear, though:

First and foremost, that my entire family are in many of the overlapping groups he's made reference to as (essentially) enemies of America. In particular, all of us are trans and otherwise queer; all of us are women; Liz is a person of color, and I'm an immigrant (although from Australia, so it barely counts?). All three of us feel like we are now in the sights of not only the federal government but of a majority of the population. This is not a nice feeling, and Liz and Ellie are both basically worried sick. I'm maintaining calm at the moment by acknowledging that God's plan runs through all things and that therefore there is some purpose to this, even if I can't see or understand it. Liz and I have begun contingency planning; we have decided upon our boundaries (things we are not willing to tolerate from our country) and are working on a plan for what to do if/when those boundaries are crossed.

Also, this election was pretty clearly won (and lost) through racism. There's not a lot else to say about it. Every group except white people voted overwhelmingly for Clinton. A lot of PoC are rightly calling out white liberals for not taking the fight to white conservatives. It made me think at length about the "don't read the comments" internet rule - like, does that rule effectively cede internet comments, as a discussion space, to the alt-right? Or to other hateful things? I'm not sure what the moral thing to do is, there.

I bet I already know what this week's church service will be about. I think Cass wants to come with me; I hope she enjoys it and finds it helpful. In the coming days/months/years I think we will all need more community than we have. Historically UU churches have been on the right side of issues more often than not, and I think (hope?) our church is the kind of organization to stand up when things are difficult. I want to get more involved with church volunteer work and activism now, much more than I ever have before.

What else? Work's okay, sort of dragging just because I can't focus on anything. I'm physically sick, but hopefully will be better in the next day or two. I miss Liz very much, and I hope Ellie is better soon so I can spend more time with her.

The scripture quote today is just something I thought of when I saw the election results. Pretty self-explanatory, I think.

More later.

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08 november 2016
For the leaders of this people cause [them] to err; and [they that are] led of them [are] destroyed. Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still. -- Isaiah 9:16-17

Liz has gone to Dublin and I am getting sick. Not an auspicious middle of the week. I had an extremely productive workday, I think; I'll find out one way or the other when I get the first round of code review back. I'd like to go in to the office tomorrow if I can but if I'm sick I'll stick it out here. :(

I've been avoiding political news all day. Tomorrow I'll look when I wake up, and then decide how to feel based on that. There was no reason (still isn't) to stress myself out with minutely updates on everyone not knowing anything. As I see it there's an outcome where I probably keep a bunch of my civil rights, and an outcome where I probably don't, since a lot of them come down via executive orders and not legislative acts. I have no idea what's going to happen but I'm pretty sure we're going to be in uncharted waters, no matter what tomorrow brings.

I've been quoting the Book of the Prophet Isaiah lately because it deals a lot with this theme. As I read it, the entire book is a warning to Israel of the dangers of defying God, and a list of the weaknesses and follies of the nation, and a telling of the dire consequences of God's wrath. It has seemed apropos lately. I've been telling myself that whatever happens, God will guide us back to something alright in the end, but that's cold comfort when quite possibly a lot of people will be hurt or killed getting there. :(

I miss Liz.

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07 november 2016
Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases [were] torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. -- Isaiah 5:25

Voting day tomorrow. A pretty decent workday today. I chewed through some of my bug backlog and spent the emotional energy to declare that I was just never going to get to a whole raft of my bugs, so I'm finally below 100 assigned for the first time in more than a year. Tomorrow I'm working at home so I can head out to vote around 11am, when people who can't take the day off are less likely to be waiting. I'm kind of afraid of either outcome of the election, but such is life.

I don't have much else to write about just now. Liz and I are close to done with our current Civilization 5 game so I will write about that when we finish. Other than that, there's not a lot else going on. I'm in a holding pattern until surgery.

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06 november 2016
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. -- Ecclesiastes 9:10

Back to work tomorrow :D We made a big breakthrough - more political than technical, but what can you do - last Thursday an I am filled with renewed project enthusiasm. It's also good to be back after ditching my routine for a couple of weeks to head down to Philadelphia with Ellie. I only learned a few days ago that Philadelphia is actually a biblical place name: it's one of the seven great churches of Asia to which John was meant to deliver the Revelations. Be that as it may, it's back to work tomorrow.

I've been chatting with a person on twitter a bit about my religious exploration. The thing I'm trying to address is that I know I am happiest living in a structured system because it gives me a sense of direction and purpose, but the society I live in now doesn't provide that. I've been digging through the Bible to see if I can find structure for myself, and while I've found some beautiful and inspiring things, I haven't found a moral code that I believe I can actually live by. My search continues.

Today's church service was run by our youth group, which recently returned from a trip they took to Hungary, with the goal of befriending a Hungarian UU congregration - sort of an exchange program. They apparently had a great time and I enjoyed the service, but homilies from teenagers aren't the most relateable for me. Oh well. Afterwards I took an introductory class about UU history and theology, taught by our intern minister and our Director of Congregational Life, which was mostly stuff I already knew but did have some interesting bits of history. Apparently our congregation was one of the few that wasn't explicitly abolitionist before the civil war, which caused such a conflict inside the congregation that we temporarily forked into two churches, only reconciling once the civil war started. This is not a period of the congregation's history that anyone is particularly proud of. I also learned that our church is built on land that was acquired underhandedly! Specifically, in the 1830s, unitarianism was a heresy on par with atheism, and so nobody would sell the nascent congregation land to build a sanctuary on. Eventually, a friendly Presbyterian church nearby purchased the land for us, then turned around and sold it to us. "I never realized 1830s Presbyterians were such bros", remarks Ellie.

I actually feel like just ending this post with another passage:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil. -- Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

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05 november 2016
A false balance [is] abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight. -- Proverbs 11:1

Not much to write today, actually. I left writing this one pretty late since it's 11:45 and I have to get up early to do housework before church tomorrow. Work is a sacrament, and all that.

I hope you're doing well, whoever you are.

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04 november 2016
And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. -- Revelations 16:19

The weekend arrives :) Tomorrow is housework day, Sunday is church day. I'm very much looking forward to having time to decompress. We're doing one of our closing walkthroughs on our new place this evening, and then a friend is coming over and Liz is cooking dinner for everyone.

I feel like I should write a Thing about my personal relationship with faith, religion, and spirituality, since I'm worried that I might be misleading people by quoting the Bible at the start of each of my posts, and people are starting to express concern :P

I don't actually consider the Bible a source of moral laws or to carry any particular sort of moral authority. I've been reading it because it's interesting and because I find parts of it beautiful or inspiring. My personal conception of the world is really built around the idea of a "story", which we (all of us!) are somewhere in the middle of. My life is a sentence, or maybe something bigger or smaller, in the Story Of All Of Us, past, present, and future. Since I think about life a lot that way, I like and value anything that I feel connects me either to the past or to the future. One of the things that I feel connects me is the Bible! The original text is milennia old, and the King James Version (the oldest English translation I have access to) is a bit over 400 years old. The idea that through the ages millions of people have read, thought about, enjoyed, or been inspired by the exact same text that I'm reading today means a lot to me, which is why I've been using the KJV even though there are newer translations that exist (and which have the benefit of centuries of extra science and archaeology). It's also pretty likely that the KJV will survive for centuries hence unless Christianity dies out altogether, which means that it links me with the future in a way that few other things in my life today do. I often feel like I kind of live in a disposable world; I have few posessions that are from before my birth or that are likely to endure after my death, but the text of my Bible is one of them.

Anyway, here's my view about the Bible as a critical reader of it: there are many parts of it that are objectionable. Some parts of it are outright unsupportable (Exodus 21:20, which allows beating servants; Exodus 21:7, which allows selling daughters as sexual slaves, ...) and nobody seriously considers them moral guides. Parts of it are objectionable to me personally because they forbid things I think are perfectly allowable (the infamous Leviticus 20:13, for one, which forbids homosexuality). Parts of it I find beautiful or inspiring. I don't have a single opinion about the entire Bible, which sort of makes sense to me, since it was written over hundreds of years by dozens of authors and stretches to nearly a million words.

Just as an example of "inspiring", Proverbs 31 (which I've blogged about in the past) lists this among the virtues of the noble woman:

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

Every so often, if I'm thinking about slacking off on housework, I remember that line, and it encourages me to get up and get the work done :) maybe this is a silly place to take inspiration from, but it works for me. If I can find places in the Bible where the moral precepts do match up with my own beliefs, I can use the language from it to reinforce my own morals, which I think is good to do - for example, the famous 13th chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, which is a long-form reminder that without love, all other works of life are meaningless. I use this to remind myself that it's not useful for me to be generous or wise or whatever other virtue unless I'm doing it out of a sense of genuine empathy and love for others, which is something I feel I need to be reminded of.

This post turned out less coherent than usual! A lot of my thoughts about faith are still only half-formed, which is a big part of why I wanted to attend a church devoted to figuring things out instead of a church that already has the answers. There are some things I do know:

That's about as far as we go. I've been thinking about Christianity a bunch, but I think it just doesn't resonate with me the way the three things I said above do.

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03 november 2016
Whose adorning let it not be the outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. -- 1 Peter 3:3-4

It's so good to be home. I'm transcendently tired but it's just after 8pm and all my housework is squared away, so I can finally try getting a solid night's sleep. Cass is here to take care of Ellie, so I'm able to recharge and take care of myself a bit. Tomorrow's friday, too, which means time for the weekend :) so housecleaning and church, both of which are very calming and centering for me.

I've been keeping on with A Year Of Biblical Womanhood and I'm currently in the chapter dealing with Proverbs 31, which is... really eye-opening. Proverbs 31 contains a description that in a lot of Christian traditions is taken to be the "ideal woman", which starts like:

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price [is] far above rubies.

After that comes more or less a laundry list of traits the "virtuous woman" has:

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.

It goes on at some length. This passage carries a lot of weight for many Christian women, and it's one of the few passages that I was quite familiar with even before I started seriously considering religion. The problem with this passage is that it's often used by women to self-flagellate, since the woman portrayed in it is impossible to actually live up to; it presents a standard that just isn't achievable, which doesn't stop people from trying, in a Stepford Wife fashion.

Anyway, Evans' book contains a brief interview with a rabbi, who describes (one of?) the Jewish interpretations of the passage: instead of it being an exhortation to women as to how they should behave, it's actually directed to men, to remind them of good qualities they should praise their spouses for; Jewish men are directed by it to praise their wives (as virtuous) when they exemplify any of the qualities, not all. That interpretation turns the passage from a checklist of qualifications for ideal femininity into a succession of reminders and prompts for cherishing one's partner, which I find much more palatable. :)

I feel like all I talk about these days is religion! Maybe I need to branch out so I don't bore y'all. Let's see, what else? A little while ago I adopted a new rule for myself: no buying new video games, no matter how much I want them, until I've played the ones I already own. That turns out to be quite a backlog, but as a result I'm playing through Starcraft 2. I'm sure I already wrote about this but Kerrigan is one of my favorite video game protagonists of all time, and I think Blizzard does a really good job of giving her actual emotional depth and character development through the series. She, more than anyone else (even Raynor, who seems to think he's the anti-hero of the story) actually drives the plot and makes the decisions that affect the fate of the universe. I really, really adore Kerrigan.

Oh! Surgery's in six weeks. I'm feeling ready. I'm just impatient, honestly; I keep going over my list of Stuff To Do After It's Done and just like... waiting. My list is like:

I'm hype.

I had a good long conversation with a friend about like, addiction and laziness and the feeling of "wasting one's life". There are two ideas that sometimes sieze upon me. One is the notion that we all have a fixed number of minutes to live (unless someone develops immortality, which seems unlikely) and that each passing minute can't be gotten back, which is horrifying but also motivates me to actually Do Stuff when I find myself wasting time. The other is the idea, somewhat inherited from my parents and from protestantism in general, that God makes an accounting, after we die, of whether we have spent our lives diligently in service to Him or not. Sometimes if I'm like, lazing around, I imagine the eye of God on me in that moment, and that usually gets me off the couch :) I don't know if this is like, a subtly unhealthy thing to do to myself or not.

That actually leads into another Thing I Think, or maybe a view that I've secretly held for a long time, which is that work, for the good of others and specifically for the good of society at large, is itself a holy activity and a sacrement. Thinking about work this way makes it truly joyful for me and makes me really, really look forward to going to my job. Seeing and hearing my coworkers complain about having to go to work makes me wince a little because I feel like if they thought of it this way they'd appreciate working much more than I do. At the same time, I'm keenly aware that this view I hold is like, custom-tailored to support oppressive, exploitative capitalism, so I don't want to evangelize it. Shrug!

I think that is all for now. This one's a bit stream-of-consciousness, but what can one do.

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02 november 2016
And she said unto him, My father, [if] thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengance for thee of thine enemies, [even] of the children of Ammon. -- Judges 11:36

We're back in New York, and it feels so very good to be home. My dog is asleep beside me and things are back to how they ought to be, in large part. Tomorrow I'll go back to work and try to figure out what happened in my absence. At least my recent promotion makes that way more anxiety-fraught than it would otherwise be and I feel at least sort of okay about having taken eight days off to be with Ellie.

I put my previous book aside and picked up Rachel Held Evans' A Year Of Biblical Womanhood. The setup for this book is that Rachel, an evangelical Christian from a liberal tradition, decides to spend a year living by the Bible's precepts for how women should live insofar as she can. One of the key points of the book is that doing this necessarily involves being choosy about which precepts to obey, since many of them are products of their time and society - for example, Exodus 21:7 allows a man to sell his own daughters, which is obviously not something that should actually be allowed. I find this liberating because of the theological dilemma I mentioned in my previous post - i.e., that if one necessarily has to choose parts to abide by, it's okay for me to choose the parts that fit me. I don't know if this is a particularly high-integrity position, but it might be workable for me :)

The third chapter of Evans' book addresses two stories from the book of Judges: chapter 11, the story of Jephthah, and chapter 19, the story of an unnamed Levite. In Judges 11, Jephthah pledges to God that he will burn as an offering "whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me" (Judges 11:31), which is not a smart pledge to make, but after his victory his overjoyed daughter comes to greet him, and he realizes that he has pledged his own daughter's life. He explains what has happened, and she... basically just accepts her fate, mourns her own death, and then Jephthah burns his only daughter to death as an offering to God. It's extremely dark, but the ending of Judges 11 is almost haunting:

And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her [according] to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man.

Stories like this, about people who did nothing wrong realizing they're goingg to die anyway, always affect me considerably. It's especially poignant because most of Judges is about God intervening to save the Israelites from the consequences of their own sins, so the fact that God simply lets her die here is very moving.

The other story in Judges that Evans' book touches on is from chapter 19: an unnamed Levite's concubine cheats on him (as I read it - "And his concubine played the whore against him", Judges 19:2), and the Levite basically throws the concubine to an angry mob, who rape and murder her. The Levite then takes her body back ("And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered." , Judges 19:28), cuts it into pieces, and sends the pieces all over Israel, seemingly to kick off a war (or something, I don't understand Judges 20 that well). It's... well, gruesome, like much of the Book of Judges.

Anyway, one of the things Evans stumbles across during her journey of Biblical womanhood is the idea that women of faith down the ages have kept these stories of women oppressed and crushed and murdered by men and held onto them, passed mother to daughter for thousands of years. The chapter ends like this:

Those who seek to glorify biblical womanhood have forgotten the dark stories. They have forgotten that the concubine of Bethlehem, the raped princess of David's house, the daughter of Jephthah, and the countless unnamed women who lived and died between the lines of Scripture exploited, neglected, ravaged and crushed at the hand of the patriarchy are as much a part of our shared narrative as Deborah, Esther, Rebekah, and Ruth. We may not have a ceremony through which to grieve them, but it is our responsibility as women of faith to guard the dark stories for our own daughters, and when they are old enough, to hold their faces between our hands and make them promise to remember.

I think I really like this book. I'm only a quarter of the way through but I'm sure I will end up writing more about it.

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01 november 2016

And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

-- Genesis 9:14-15

I think about these verses from Genesis every time I see a rainbow.

Anyway.

Ellie's just about done being in the recovery suite, and both of us head home tomorrow, her to start the home part of recovery and me to get back to work for the next six weeks. After that, my own surgery. December 14. I'm no longer really nervous about it, just impatient to get it over with so I can think about other things in my life. I did find a decent coffeeshop in Ardmore, though.

I'm still wrestling with my basic theological problem, which is that Christianity (the protestant flavors) are appealing to me conceptually, but I don't feel like there's much integrity to it unless it adheres pretty closely to the Bible and the Bible flatly forbids a bunch of things that I consider God-given parts of myself, like being trans, being poly, and being pansexual. I can't get myself to believe that a loving God would make me the way I am and then forbid me from living it out, and I (obviously) don't see any moral or other problem with being any of those things, so I'm led away from biblical literalism and thence away from Christianity in general, which is sort of a shame. I wish I could find what I felt was a solid theological case for accepting those three things.

I had my own pre-surgery appointment today, and got handed a sheaf of paperwork, consent forms, instructions, and so on and so forth. In two weeks I have to stop my HRT regimen, which might make me a bit weird; we'll see. I'm not excited for that bit because my skin breaks out like crazy when I stop hormones.

Diablo progress: still paragon 75 or so. I'm in the grindiest phase of the progression, where I'm basically farming bounties and rolling for gear upgrades so I can handle higher torment levels. I can one-shot T2 non-elites with my resource spender right now, but there's no huge benefit to going up until you hit T7, where the drop rate of Death's Breath and some other stuff basically doubles in one step. This is also the phase of the game that feels a bit pointless since you can already do all of the fights, and it's just a matter of turning the difficulty up repeatedly. I started playing with Cass, and I might be able to lure Ellie or Hazel into playing with me too, in which case we coulld run rifts as a group or something. That would be nice and sociable.

Let's see, what else is going on? Surgery has been looming so large that it's keeping me from thinking about anything else. I do still want to make a D&D game with Ashley, her roommate Koba, and someone else (Ellie? Liz? Cass?) but I need to pry loose the spoons and time to do it, so it probably won't happen until after surgery recovery. I also need to do more yoga - I did it once with my nutritionist slash yoga teacher and it was very good for me, but I won't be able to get far before I go onto a strict no-bending-over regimen.

Next book on my reading list: http://rachelheldevans.com/biblical-womanhood

I think that's it for now. I have to find food for me and Ellie.

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31 october 2016

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

-- Proverbs 5:18

Ellie and I are still in the surgeon's recovery suite. Tomorrow morning, Ellie gets the last surgical stuff removed and she should be cleared for travel the day after that. Both of us are considerably stir-crazy, despite an entire internet worth of distractions, and very eager to be home with Liz and the dogs. Ardmore is a nice enough town in a nice enough area, and there's even a surprising variety of good food available, but there just isn't that much to do here. I've walked around Haverford College's campus twice now, and there are some truly gorgeous parts of it (https://www.instagram.com/p/BMPTCqEA9S5) but I'm running out of campus to wander.

I've been thinking a bunch about Proverbs 5, because one of the big tensions in my life is how to reconcile the way I am (and the way I like being!) - i.e., a polyamorous lesbian - with trying to find some kind of meaning in the Bible. I wrestle with Proverbs 5 a bit because it's a strong prohibition against adultery for married people. The way that I think of this is that it's actually talking about wantonness and distraction by "strange women" (what a phrase): "For the lips of a strange woman drop [as] an honeycomb, and her mouth [is] smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword." (Proverbs 5:3-4). The rest of the passage makes it pretty clear that it's talking about like, casual adultery and allowing oneself to be seduced away from the duties of one's home: "Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours [be] in the house of a stranger" (Proverbs 5:10). Since Ellie is just as much a part of my family as Liz is, I don't feel like I fall afoul of this warning. Liz will always be the "wife of my youth", but I don't have to let go of her for Ellie to be the wife of my... adulthood? :P

Diablo 3 progress report: Paragon ~75, and almost in full legendaries. I'm going for a holy Crusader build, which feels on-brand. I've basically always played religious zealots in games, because the idea of being wholly subsumed to something larger like that has always fascinated me. Yesterday night I found Whimsydale, which is... very strange. Of course, to stay in character, I slaughtered every living creature and then put the rest of it to the torch in Akarat's name.

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28 october 2016

No scripture today.

Ellie got discharged from hospital, a day earlier than we both expected. The discharge process wasn't really a party, but we got her to the recovery suite, and now she's resting comfortably in a real bed. Her appetite seems to be back now that she's off the morphine too, and she's put away a pair of solid meals.

That's honestly all my spoons for the day used up. I don't really like that religion is a spoon sink for me instead of a spoon source right now; maybe I need to change the way I relate to it some. Praying is good for me.

That's it for now. Oof. After two nights in a hospital bed (and 3h of sleep the night before) I'm so ready for a good night's rest. I did eat three solid, balanced meals today, which was a good decision. Gotta make a point of remembering how much a balanced, nutritious diet affects my mood and general ability to even.

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27 october 2016

Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: Another esteemeth every day [alike.] Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth [it] unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard [it.] He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

-- Romans 14:4-6

In hospital with Ellie all day. She's recovering slowly. Her appetite isn't back yet, which is worrying me a little. My need for a shower reached the breaking point and I got a hotel room nearby for the express purpose of showering in it, and it was absolutely worth it. The delicious meal I had right after served to remind me that hospital food, while edible, does not nourish me that way actual fresh food with real ingredients does. I need to make more of a point of getting fresh stuff to eat while I'm here, heh :)

The scriptural quote at the top of this post is about the idea that not only are people obligated not to judge others in matters the Bible doesn't address, but people are actually responsible for deciding their own understanding of what one should or should not do. The matters given as examples are eating meat vs not and keeping Sunday holy vs not. There's a bunch of interesting (well, if you're me :P) essays about these verses online; I like this one: https://bible.org/seriespage/16-strong-and-weak-romans-14

Speaking of holiness, I've been playing a lot of Diablo 3 lately, since spending time in Ellie's hospital suite leaves me without much else to do. I'm leveling a Season 8 Crusader up to 70, and then I'm not sure where to go from there, but this game is definitely just as fun as I remember it being :)

And now, hopefully, sleep. Early day tomorrow.

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26 october 2016

God [is] our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar [and] be troubled, [though] the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

-- Psalms 46:1-3

I'm in a hospital, with Ellie. Her surgery went fine and she's recovering in a ward room; I'm sleeping on a little fold-out bed next to her. She's in a considerable amount of pain (not surprising) but pretty lucid and otherwise okay.

Hospitals make me desperately anxious. Death is never far from the mind, here, and while Ellie was in surgery I spent a considerable amount of time in the "Meditation Room" praying. One of the things I appreciate about the Gideon bibles is that they have a table at the front of passages relating to specific problems or worries, like this: https://www.gideons.org.uk/about_the_bible/bible_helps

Ellie and I got pretty deep into a conversation about death and loss, and then the night nurse, who turns out to be quite catholic, came by to make her rounds and we ended up talking a whole bunch about God. It was exactly the kind of conversation that can only happen late at night in a hospital. I really enjoyed it and it was really warmly mutually respectful and accepting, even though I'm not catholic (nor is Ellie) and I'm quite sure a catholic would find our life paths objectionable in a bunch of ways. Chalk one up for religious tolerance, I guess :)

Sleep now. More later.

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25 october 2016

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

-- 1 John 4:20-21

Waiting in the surgeon's recovery suite with Ellie. Tomorrow morning she goes under for surgery, then she's in hospital for three days, then back in the recovery suite for a few days afterward. I'll be with her the whole way. Ellie's still anxious but I'm more or less calm by now; all the unknowns have collapsed and all that's left is what we have to do. I'm background-anxious about my own surgery, but seeing this once and now again is helping a lot with that.

Philadelphia is quite nice, actually, but the suburb we're in (Ardmore) is a dead zone. I went out looking for food, and there's seriously nothing at all open at 7:30pm. I counted a McDonalds, a bad Chipotle (somehow), and a new fancy artisan pizza place. The pizza place turns out to be pretty alright. The bad Chipotle is actually a marvel to me - last time I went there, when I was here with Cass, and I got a burrito with actual frozen guacamole in it, which doesn't even make sense! Chipotle's guacamole is made fresh! Or it's supposed to be :P

In the absence of anything else good to do, I've been playing games. Diablo 3 doesn't work that well over the wifi here, but I happen to have UT99 and Eternal both handy, and I apparently have gotten MUCH worse at UT99 than I used to be, because the bots are giving me a real run for my money :) I'm not sure what I'm going to do at the hospital tomorrow; I might try to do some work, if I can. I do have my work laptop with me but working on slow wifi is agonizing.

We have eight more days of this, I think; we head back on November 2. My own pre-surgery appointment is on November 1, which is convenient.

More as the surgery progresses, I think.

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24 october 2016

Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are all labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

-- 1 Corinthians 3:7-9

I got promoted.

The culmination of five years of effort! A ton of personal and professional growth, and especially learning to be more assertive about my ideas and opinions. One of the hardest things to change for me was actually self- confidence - it took me years, literally, to get myself comfortable with taking on the kind of work I needed to be doing to be promoted. I'm feeling proud of myself right now. As icing on the cake, my performance review for this cycle came back as "Superb", which is the first time I've ever gotten that; it's the highest rating in our performance system. I had honestly talked myself out of thinking that I'd get it this time, so it came as a really big shock. The good kind of shock, though :)

Other than that: I'm on a train again! Ellie and I are on our way down to Philadelphia for her surgery. We're both fretting about it but there's not a lot to be done for that. Being ticketed together on the train was surprisingly stressful for me, heh :P Ellie uses electronic tickets and I don't trust phones that much so I was worrying that her phone would lock up and need to be rebooted or something at an inopportune moment. Kind of a silly worry, but that's how a lot of my worries are.

Ellie seems to really like my theraputic deck of cards :) a couple of times she's asked me to draw her a card when I've drawn one for myself, which is pleasing. I'm glad that it works for her too. She actually has a deck of her own - a really beat-up cardboard one - that Cass gave her.

I got really back into Diablo 3 right before we left, which is unfortunate timing :) Season 8 just started, which is basically a limited time to level fresh characters and get season-specific achievements, which give you rewards in your non-seasonal session after the season ends. It's a really neat idea and a good way to keep a game without a ton of replay value (the story's always the same) fresh. I also played a little more Starcraft 2, but I'm still around 1/3 of the way through Heart of the Swarm.

It feels really good to have the question of promotion off my chest. I'm at the first "secure" level of Google promotion; I no longer need to be promoted regularly to not get fired. That makes a big difference to my peace of mind. The only other big stress right now is surgery preparation, which is happening slowly but surely.

My writing mood is coming back, I think. We'll see.

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23 october 2016

For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, the whole stay of water.

The mighty man, the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient,

The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.

And I will give them children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.

-- Isaiah 3:1-4

Tomorrow, we head to Philadelphia for Ellie's surgery. I'm doing my level best not to worry about how it's going to go. We're all packed and stuff, and I resurrected my old X230 Thinkpad for the occasion, although I think I'm still going to travel with my Macbook. Irritatingly, i3 can't make terminals exactly 80col wide? so I had to switch to vi to get proper 80col wrapping while I write this. Sigh :P

The scripture quote at the start of this post is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, which (at least by my terribly uninformed reading :P) is a description of how Jerusalem will be destroyed because it has been overrun with corruption and sin. The first few verses of chapter 3 (the quoted ones) are about how God will destroy Jerusalem's government by removing all the men of virtue from it and leaving it in the hands of children, which... sort of fits how I feel about the 2016 election.

I've been playing a lot of Starcraft 2 lately. I wrote a fanfic a while ago and I got a comment on it requesting that I write a sequel to it, so I decided to replay the singleplayer campaigns (and play the Legacy of the Void campaign for the first time, as well as Covert Ops) so I'd have a better sense of the lore. The campaign is exactly as engaging as I remember it being; the story is good, the missions are well-designed, the inter-mission mechanics give you meaningful choice and variation. I'm about a third of the way through Heart of the Swarm right now, but I'll have to put this on hold while Ellie and I are in Philadelphia.

Today's church service was all about the idea of "beginner's mind", from Zen practice. Specifically, we talked about beginner's mind as it applies to knowing and interacting with other people, and the idea of deliberately trying to empty our own preconceptions of someone else so that we could experience them "as a stranger". I liked this idea a lot but I'm not quite sure how to put it into practice.

I tried yoga a few days ago. Did I mention that already? It was really good! It sort of felt like taking a nap and stretching at the same time. I will definitely do it again.

I think I'm close to being able to write again. When I write, it drains something out of me, and I have to recharge it by reading and doing other stuff. I think of this as "filling the sponge" - I sponge up ideas, concepts, and thoughts from other media, then "squeeze" a story out. Soon.

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22 october 2016

For [this] deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not.

-- Esther 1:17

Hello from an Amtrak train from Boston back to New York.

I had a fantastic, if very short, visit with Reuven and now I'm headed back to do housework and go to church on Sunday, and then on Monday Ellie and I head down to Philadelphia to start getting set up for her surgery. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous on her behalf, but I think things will go alright. In any case, there's nothing I can really do about it other than pray.

A lot of people know about a decision-making trick where you flip a coin, then see how you feel about the outcome. The idea is that your reaction to the result can put subconscious feelings into more relief. I've been doing a similar thing lately with the deck of cards I carry. I've assigned meanings (after a fashion) to the suits:

Now if I find myself anxious, I shuffle (which is itself a coping technique for anxiety - having something to do with my hands), then draw a card or two off the top of the deck, and use them as... prompts? Like, for example, if I draw the Seven of Spades, it directs my thinking towards places in my life where growth, healing, or nourishment are happening, or if I draw the Two of Clubs, it directs my thoughts towards places where conflict or struggle might be causing me anxiety. I've found this pretty helpful, even though it seems a bit silly when written down like this :)

The scripture quote at the top of this post is from the Book of Esther, which begins with Vashti, a queen, defying Ahasuerus, her king. Ahasuerus consults with his wise men and they warn him that Vashti's behavior will set an example for all the other women in his realm, so Ahasuerus kicks her to the curb and replaces her with Esther.

I really love the part of New England this train passes through. A lot of it is tiny little Protestant towns with dapper little churches and tidy main streets, inhabited by the kind of people many New Englanders imagine themselves to be. If not for the cars and electric lights, I bet a lot of these towns look just as they would have hundreds of years ago. It has a kind of timelessness to it that I find very pleasing.

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21 october 2016

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

-- Colossians 3:23-24

Hectic! I slept in this morning (and ate the bread of idleness :P), so I got to work around 10, did a bunch of bug triage, and an onsite interview. Nothing else done today. I feel pretty bad about the amount of time off I'm taking next week, since I'm on the hot path for a couple of launches. Whenever I catch myself feeling like that, I try to imagine what I'd say to someone else in the same situation, which would be "it's your manager's problem if you leaving scuttles a launch, not yours". Still, I can't help feeling a bit guilty about it.

I'm on an Acela right now, headed from NYP to BOS, and my round-trip latency is probably about five seconds. Since I do the 80-col wrap for these entries by hand, I can't type too far ahead of the echo, or I lose track of whether I need to wrap at a given word or not :) Maybe I should swap over to just typing and using fmt(1) after I'm done writing.

We just passed through the town I grew up in, actually. I remember how this train station used to sort of represent hope to me, just because it was a really visible manifestation of there being an entire world out there that was... more. Especially since it's on the commuter rail track to New York. I spent more nights than I care to admit either sitting on the platform or on the bridge passing over the tracks, just watching trains full of people I'd never meet go by.

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20 october 2016

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

-- John 1:1

Exhausting day, but in a good way.

This morning, my nutritionist (who is also a yoga teacher, apparently) led me through a bunch of yoga exercises, which is my first time doing yoga. It was relaxing in a way I've never quite experienced before, like I was somehow stretching while taking a great nap. I'm pretty sure I will yoga again, but right now I'm a bit too self-conscious to wear yoga pants :P

I also volunteered for an event at work, being a guide for a party of ~30 blind and low-visions folks who were visiting our office. I ended up doing a lot of wayfinding and helping people navigate our baffling cafeteria. Everyone was very nice and appreciative. I got misgendered a LOT, I guess since people's only cue for me was my voice, which was kind of upsetting :\ but overall it was a really good experience and I felt good helping run the event.

I bought an actual physical bible today! The people at the bookstore kind of looked at me like I was an alien when I asked, but they had a copy of the authorized KJV :) so I now own one. The reason I've wanted a physical copy for a while is that one of the things I value about religion is that it connects us to the past and the future, and to people who came before and will come after. I picked the King James version specifically because it's been almost unchanged since the 1600s, and I love the idea that I'm reading the same text, and speaking the same prayers, that people generations and generations back did.

In talking about this with Reuven, he mentioned the Jewish concept of a "Sefer Torah", which is a Torah that has been hand-copied from another Sefer Torah; thus the Word is passed from hand to hand down through the generations. Judaism has a way, way older holy text too - the Torah as used today is unchanged forr like 2000 years, and the Sefer Torahs that exist today are, by a chain of hand copying, the same as the original. Amazing.

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19 october 2016

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

-- Proverbs 31:26-27

I'm having one of those days that makes me feel crazy. My paranoia's getting out of control and I'm really worried that it's affecting my behavior with my coworkers. On the way home I got really distressed by the idea that I was leaving fingerprints on everything I touched and so I started like, shopping for gloves... nothing makes me feel as irrational as when I start "feeding" my paranoia like that. I got into the usual recursive argument about it with myself: "get gloves" "don't get gloves, that's stupid" and so on back and forth.

The scripture quote above is from one of the chapters I look at often - Proverbs 31. The description in Proverbs 31 of the "ideal woman" has always kind of stuck with me: industrious, kind, generous, and devoted to her family. I don't actually think that other women should be that way, but I like it as a guide for how I should live and relate to myself, my family, and others. Sometimes I think about Proverbs 31:15 - "she riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household" - and seriously contemplate cooking breakfast for my family every morning, except that I leave for work at 0530 and they sleep until like 0800 :) maybe once I settle down and become more domestic, if that ever happens.

It all kind of fits together into my like, recurring fantasy of being a cult-of- domesticity style housewife, which isn't founded on desire for any particular part of it so much as an idealized conception of how I should be. I write about this sometimes, although not very publicly, because I think it would read as very anti-feminist if it wasn't clear that it applies only to me.

I've also been thinking, off and on, about the idea of sanctity of work or the sacredness of labor. This is sort of a descendant of the protestant work ethic. The hymn "Work, For The Night Is Coming" sticks in my head (sort of? I've never heard it sung before) when I think about this. The protestant version of this is that we demonstrate grace through good and diligent work during life, which is a belief that I actually more or less identify with directly. Somewhere I heard the phrase "God makes a full accounting of our deeds" and it stuck with me; you can read it to mean that all our sins and good works are totalled up after death, which means that no individual good or bad thing will make or break salvation. I'm not sure I even believe in salvation, but I think it's probably good for me to believe in this.

This entry is so incoherent, reading back over it. I can't bring myself to edit it and I'm in a weird frame of mind anyway, so I'm just going to leave it. Make of it what you will :)

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16 october 2016

Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.

-- Proverbs 3:31

What a busy day. Church, lunch with Ellie, gaming with Liz, housecleaning, gaming with Ellie, dinner (made by Ellie!), and now some last unwinding before bed. It's been thoroughly lovely from end to end, really. Today's church service was "Someone posted a Blue Lives Matter sign next to our Black Lives Matter banner. We took it down; let's talk about why.", and it was very well-done and well-delivered. Rev. Ana keeps impressing me every time I hear her speak.

Liz and I have been playing Civilization 5 against AIs. Our last game was 2v2v2, and we absolutely crushed, so we tried the same strategies 2v4v4. Once we all hit the Medieval Era, all the AIs declared war on us simultaneously and since we were both running slow-ish lategame strategies ("huge, sprawling commercial naval empire" for me, "world religion" for Liz) we had some really desperate knife-fighting to hold onto our cities. It was quite tense for a while and very absorbing.

Ellie and I are playing World of Warcraft together because it's relatively peaceful and cooperative, and pretty much all I have to say about this is that warlocks are overpowered as anything. I'm leveling as Affliction, which is probably the wrong spec for leveling in (Destruction seems better) but it does not matter at all - I can tank even quintuple pulls off lifedrain. Ridiculous.

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14 october 2016

And though I have the gift of prophecy, And understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, And have not charity, I am nothing.

-- 1 Corinthians 13:2

An exhausting week. I made a scheduling mistake on Wednesday and ended up working 0600 - 1900, then compounded it by not taking it easy on Thursday and working 0600 - 1500. Today I'm working at home, but honestly not working all that hard since I've already worked >40 hours this week total. So it goes.

Anxiety about surgery and surgery logistics is strong. Getting my second letter from my old therapist is proving tricky or error-prone or something and it's setting off my "gonna be late for a deadline" anxiety.

I've been thinking a bunch about the fact that women are significantly more religious than men. I'm not really sure what to make of it. For example, as of march 2016, 64% of American women reported praying daily, vs 47% of American men; 40% of American women reported attending a religious service weekly, vs 32% of American men. This sorta lines up with my observations at my own church: I would guess the congregation is maybe 60% women. I don't know if it's that the sense of community resonates more with women (I know it's important to me personally, at least...) or what. I wonder if anyone's actually done an analysis of this. There's a similar gap in other first world countries but the base percentages are a lot lower because they're less religious in general.

I miss Liz. She gets home this evening after a week away and I'm aching to see her.

I should write something for the tilde.town zine :) I'm not quite sure what yet but I've been considering writing a guide to something. We'll see.

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10 october 2016

The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.

-- Psalms 9:15-16

I've been watching with increasing interest as the evangelical community debates internally about whether their leaders should support or rebuke Trump. Obviously, I have my own opinion about this (as I saw it put on twitter: "like many trans women, I'm a single-issue voter, and my single issue is not being murdered"), but it's interesting to watch what looks like a growing schism between younger, more liberal evangelicals and established leaders. Watching Jerry Falwell defend Trump (seriously) is just... well, I already had no respect for Falwell, but it seems like increasingly many of his followers are losing that respect too.

I got into an argument earlier today about this, actually, with one of my friends who thinks my church is like, a branch of christianity? Which it kinda is, but only in the same way that christianity is a branch of judaism.

Work is going really well! I actually just had a very joyful day (which frankly is most of my days these days!) and knocked off like, half a dozen of my TODO list items. Ellie's making pie tonight now that she's home from Vancouver, and I'm going to try to write a sequel to "ghost", if my muse shows up.

Be well, reader!

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09 october 2016

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, Let every man be swift to hear, Slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. -- James 1:19-20

Church today was very Judaism-flavored in honor of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The sermon was about Noah, and how Noah is given the burden of fixing something (in his case, wickedness, by saving all the animals/plants from the flood) despite not having any personal blame for it. Ana (minister) drew a parallel between that and our responsibility for working to end racism and heal the environment, even though perhaps none of us created the problems to begin with. Also, today was Jazz Day apparently, which means all the hymns were to jazz and such. It was definitely different but I think I prefer the traditional style :)

Let's see, what else is going on today... we're doing housecleaning, Liz is leaving for Dublin, Ellie is getting back home from Vancouver. I don't really have much in the way of plans since the rest of the day is going to be packed with those things.

I caught up with a couple of people I hadn't spoken to in months last night, when I suddenly remembered the existence of Skype. That felt pretty good :)

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08 october 2016

Saturday! The weekend, finally :)

I have some housework I'd like to get to today, but I'm sort of low on spoons; mostly work stress, I think, even though I've been doing a lot of self-care. The dynamic between my TL and one of the other engineers on the project is stressing me out a bunch. I need to scan all our incoming mail (inbox is literally overflowing), clean the kitchen a bit, do some laundry, do a big order from Amazon/Gap so I have some more winter gear. I want to get a pair of like... not quite opera gloves? but thin gloves that I can wear all the time.

Ellie's surgery is in 3 weeks, which is kind of looming over the entire house; mine is like seven weeks after that. That's my next Big Life Thing, along with finding out how my promotion case went. I think even if I don't get promoted this time I'll be in good shape for next time, with the way I've been doing lately. I think the leadership skills are starting to actually develop. idk.

I think I have my first laugh/smile lines :) Another milestone.

Today I need to:

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06 october 2016

what a day.

My TL and one of my coworkers got into an argument with me in the middle of it, which was basically twice as stressful as being around arguing angry dudes usually is because I was CCed on the entire thing. It sorta put my entire day under a cloud and definitely kicked my paranoia up three notches, so that wasn't too good either. On the upside, I did get a decent amount of stuff done and therapy was really good. Plus, one of my friends is trying out a UU church and I think it's because of me talking about mine, so, ^^. He's going to be at the service at the same time I'm at mine, so we'll be praying together, which I think is really... something, because when I pray it feels sort of like I'm connected to everyone else who has ever prayed or will ever pray, and it would be so good to be connected to a friend in the moment this way too. Dunno.

On the personal projects front, I haven't really had much motivation for writing or coding recently; I'm so drained from work and surgery stress that it's hard to summon the energy. I want to write a vi clone I think :) that can be my next project. I have this idea for how to build an editor using a stack language that I think could be cool.

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05 october 2016

My word.

I'd kind of forgotten about feels! I'm sorry, anyone who read these.

A lot has changed recently. I have surgery coming up in a couple of months, for which I am very very excited and of which I am quite afraid. Also I joined a unitarian universalist church near home, and I've been attending services, which is making a big difference in my life somehow.

I've started having Religion Conversations with friends, and I'm finding that my impression of most of my friends as strongly anti-religious is not actually right, and in fact many of them were raised in religious families, which is a pleasant surprise (although a lot of them have bad experiences with it, which is not happy).

I've been writing too! I've been posting stuff iin https://tilde.town/~elly/fiction/ as I go. A lot of it's kind of nsfw (and also a bit embarassing) but I soldier on. It's theraputic!

What else to say?

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15 june 2016

What a shitshow.

The Orlando massacre is impossible to grasp or make remotely any sense of. Someone just killed fifty of us and wounded fifty more because of hate. Doesn't really fit into the head properly. Liz got yelled at on the subway this morning by a racist old lady.

I basically need a week off from existence.

In happier news, I got my SRS consult booked, which is my first real, concrete step towards Getting This Done. It seems like everyone else I know is, and I really want to. I have some designs on Reuven after I do :P

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19 may 2016

Hello feels-readers!

The past couple of workdays have been very productive, very social, and also very draining. Liz gets home from Dublin tomorrow, which will be nice, since I'm just like oooof about taking care of both dogs by myself. I've been doing so much interaction and meeting-ing at work that I'd really like to spend a day or two entirely by myself, if I can get away with it.

Flurry and I did the round-trip to the park (about 5km) in 40 minutes or so today, then we got back and we were both like fwump :P

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17 may 2016

Trying out some feels. The first workday of the week; Liz is in Dublin, so I'm at home watching both dogs for the entire week. Watching them both by myself is draining and stressful, especially since Flurry's been sick and Misty is... basically always just Misty.

This thing is quite cool. My first instinct, when I saw it, was to think about implementing something compatible with a more git-like interface, like this:

$ feels write
$ feels list
$ feels read

I stared at my editor for a minute before thinking better of doing that. That kind of interface is really... transactional, and it doesn't feel as social to me, somehow. Part of socializing is giving up a part of yourself, and finding common ground with other people, and maybe using an interface that is more like standing in someone else's living room than sitting at my own desk is part of that.

The thing where you see everyone else's entries in reverse chrono order is really neat, and I love that it's called "exploring" instead of just "listing". Empathic software is great.

I wonder what it would be like to build a really empathic personal environment? Like, with anthromorphized software with personalities, with some sense of actual space and passing time. It could be kind of cool :) and maybe a neat use case for IPC. I need to think about this a little more.

Tuesday Morning

I guess that the "midnight" of feels is around 1900 my time, so I actually end up with my entries misaligned with days. So it goes.

I accidentally wore a gmail hoodie to get breakfast this morning, and the barista at my go-to coffee place tried to start a very awkward conversation about Google with me :(. I never really know what to say... it went like this: "You work at Google?" "[looking down at own hoodie] uh, yeah." "That must be... fun." "Yeah, I guess." and then me basically running away :P

Nothin' but coffee and bagel so far today. I should really eat lunch. Maybe when Ellie gets home.

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