Life in the days of me|
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|Monday, June 27th, 2011|
|Farewell to ElJay
This has been pretty long in coming. The ads and spam finally got to me, so I'm on wordpress now at user name rtayce. My hope is to actually start writing more! And maybe to set a feed to keep up with folks...
|Sunday, March 6th, 2011|
|Ski Patrol Orientations
If you ski and want to take advantage of one of the few opportunities to actually do hands-on medical stuff, you should come to the ski patrol orientation during one of the next couple of weekends. Info
Bonus! watch me fall on my face as I try to figure out moguls.
|Thursday, February 17th, 2011|
It struck me the other day how similar anger and depression were for me. Each has the quality where I feel like I could grab it by the corner and flip it, but I am often thoroughly reluctant and almost lazy to do it.
|Friday, February 11th, 2011|
"I'm here because I want the training to pull out the people stupid enough to put themselves in these kinds of situations. And y'alls are here to receive the training to /put/ yourself into these kinds of situations?"
|Tuesday, February 8th, 2011|
Last night was the final WRFA class. It was a really good experience, though stressful in kind of unexpected ways, and right now, I'm glad to have the evenings back (well, really, evening, because the Wednesday that was WRFA from 6-9 is now MTR from 6-10).
At the class afterparty last night, Annamarie brought up the BCC, the Boealps basic climbing class. I love the idea of taking a climbing course, and this particular class seemed really cool, because it involved going out every weekend with the same team and working through climbing challenges /as a team/. I love mountains and mountain meadows and the views and the sunshine, and the eating lunch at the top, so the gut feeling is "beautiful and fun and serene and full of good company." My main experience with snow (ie going off-trail on the mission last weekend, the last bit of the Wonderland trip, and the horrible trip to Camp Muir) involves going way too fast and getting hurt, so the related gut feeling is "fuck that". So figuring out last night that this was a snow class quickly turned all feelings of excitement into feelings of "and I would want to do this why?" But of course today I looked at the pictures, and I now have a why. It actually looks really awesome. Even if it does involve *cough* ice axes *cough*. (Regardez
). I still can't do it this year, since I want to take the ESAR rigging class and help out with at least a couple of the Course IIIs... but maybe next year.
|Sunday, February 6th, 2011|
Thinking back on the mission last night - a recovery for someone who seemed like a great lady. It was good to be out there; the adrenaline rush immediately got me out of the slump I was feeling stuck in. I wasn't of particularly much help, since I slipped on an icy slope and fucked up a finger on my right hand, but I learned a tremendous amount about equipment (due to apparently being horribly under-prepared). What I had would have worked great for ESAR terrain, but on snow, my boots were full of suck (which was why I slipped). At base, they had us borrow avvy stuff, snowshoes and a radio (all of which turn out to be a pain to pack if you're not expecting it and also with my pack with its broken clip), but what I really needed turned out to be a trekking pole and crampons. Another team member really wanted me to carry an ice axe, but I think with crampons, that's much less necessary (for slides). Though also I honestly am just not comfortable with equipment I'm not used to that I can stab myself in the face with and that takes up a hand to carry. The trekking pole and crampons though - or rather without them - oh my god.
Great people. Beautiful night. Sad reason to be out there.
|Saturday, February 5th, 2011|
Being furloughed in February turns out to not be such a great thing. The SAD tends to hit me pretty hard in Feb (and always kind of unexpectedly, since Dec and Jan are so unproblematic), and it's hard for me to not have a task, a team, and a plan in general. In theory I'm going back to work at Sublime on the 14th, which is not the worst thing in the world. In practice, I'm about ready to start working for an EMS company. I resubmitted my applications to AMR, TM, and R/M. Apparently I'm applicant #68
with R/M, so likely no dice there, but the plan is to call AMR and TM on Monday and see where I stand with them. Or at least get TM to fix the broken link on their site.
Lying in bed this morning, I've been thinking about changes I've been wanting to make in my life and in my schedule. One has been to start writing and to start writing things down (which is obviously happening). Right now this writing is far more for me than for anyone else; a way of restaking my grip on reality and where I want to be, but I want to leave most of this open as well.
Another has been to start going to bed and getting up earlier. I become pretty much a vegetable around 11; the only night it really makes any sense to stay up past then is on Wednesday when I have practica until midnight. I do on that note want to start going to more practicas, but I think this means Max's practica on Sat afternoon. Ok, so bed around 11, wake up between 5 and 7 (which should also help with the SADs), meditate for 15 minutes, godforbid stretch (that's another thing that's been bothering me), have coffee and breakfast, write or practice guitar, go to work by 8:30 or 9. Get off work by 5, go home, practice guitar and godforbid cook dinner and eat, do evening activity of the moment and call it good. Which seems to be pretty ok for sane days.
I also really want to start working on the self-education environment (whether with Alexey or some other folks). So that work will have to be an "instead" of some sort, probably a morning "instead". Which is fine; I'm sure it will involve plenty of writing and reflection, so it'll still help me process life.
Ok, but today specifically: I have two workshop classes with Jaimes and Christa in the U district (which will be interesting and intense and a beating, and all kinds of wonderful). There may be a thing with Adam's store afterwards. It sounds like cocktail hour is happening at 8. If Adam's thing is /not/ happening, I think what I want to do is work on my resume. I want to have three versions of a resume available at a moment's notice if and when I should need it: one for computer and web dev/design gigs, one for pm stuff, and one for ems stuff. So, that.
I also really want to work on creating a website for myself. That's been a to-do item for a while. But resume first.
I also need to drive around and get to know the Tukwilla and Kent areas sometime in the next couple of days before I call TM back. That was one of the questions that burned me on my interview with TM, so it makes sense to correct it before I talk to them again (but also to not put off talking to them again).
Yay, plan! Workshop now, resume/paint scraping later, cocktail hour next. Then tomorrow driving around scenic Tukwilla, workshop, resume or paint scraping, and then Compline. Then Monday, call AMR and TM and finish resume and work on website (unless there's a mission), then WRFA.
|Friday, February 4th, 2011|
The other problem with no-but instead of yes-and, especially when it's perceived as (regardless of whether or not it actually is) a pattern is that it sets people up for a crouched, adversarial interaction. This means that 1) the things put forth in the first place will be heavily filtered, 2) the things that DO get verbalized, will be done so in a defensive manner, and 3) there will be much less silliness.
3 especially makes me sad.
The moral of the story is that I don't care if what the other person is saying doesn't make sense. Find what does make sense about it and add an "and". Not that I'm not guilty, etc, etc.
|Thursday, February 3rd, 2011|
As I was driving home from the studio today, the car in front of me swerved. I looked to see what was going on, and staggering across the road was an incredibly drunk-looking miniature mutt with a very human face. It took me a second to react, then I swerved in turn as the mutt staggered around some more. It took another few seconds to process that if the dog didn't get off the road, someone soon would /not/ swerve; maybe another minute to decide to turn around. Maybe another minute to find a place to do this, park, start walking back to where I had seen it. I didn't find it, or any signs of it having gotten hit, which was both good and bad, since the reason it was staggering around like that probably was that it /did/ get hit at some point.
This bothers me. On the one hand, I seemed to be the only one that stopped. On the other hand, I remember driving around AZ with Alexey whose response times to people being stranded and hurt were much sharper. I tend to be very languid and easy with things I do, with my movements, decisions, the ways I walk and move, the way I think. I'm very 40 in 2. That's not *bad* in the objective sense, and sometimes it's great, but it is bad in the "hasty response" part of emergency situations. It again becomes not bad after the immediate response.
I /like/ the languid part of myself, I just don't like that it's such a default for me. It's something I've been working on.
|Saturday, January 29th, 2011|
|Goals of 2011
This was going to be part of the 2010 entry, but that was getting to be pretty huge. So to start with, a brainstormy-type list. It's really important for me to get this stuff down in writing; I feel like there are all these things I want to do, but they are so nebulous in my head that mostly they stress me out.
Also put down (today's) interest level (0,1,2,3) with 3 being active, 2 being things I feel I should do, 1 being "meh", and 0 being no actual interest
(2.5) Get experience working for an ambulance company (AMR, TriMed, or Rural Metro)
(2.8) Follow up on EMT classes (CBTs)
(3.0) Volunteer at Burning Man for REMSA
(2.8) Take OEC
(3.0) ESAR missions/hikes/training
(3.0) Hikes in general (I-90 corridor)
(2.9) Self-Education Environment (talk to A about this on Tuesday)
(3.0) QRC cards for DAT
(2.0) Software for Language Bank
(1.0) Volunteer in office for language bank - (talk to Irene about this)
(2.5) Bookfest volunteer
(2.3) Tango (no blues)
(2.5) Singing and Dickens Caroling
(2.2) Music theory
(2.1) Bartending experience
(2.0) Suzuki movement training
(2.9) Reading more
|Thursday, December 9th, 2010|
(Reappears from the darkness) Come skiing with me on Sunday! (Disappears back into the void)
|Sunday, August 22nd, 2010|
It's the end of an era...
I've always been a fan of measuring time not in arbitrarily established demarcations, but in more personally meaningful chunks - relationships, events, projects. The art car has been a massive one, and as it approaches the finish line, it feels like the end of a lifetime.
This has been the largest project that I've ever done, and next to getting to know people better, which is always huge, the most valuable part for me was understanding that I could make something like this happen in the world. Ultimately, I think leading projects like this is what explores my potential to the fullest, and really points out my strengths (juggling priorities and keeping things in my head) and weaknesses (asking people for money; trying to balance different social groups at an event).
The problem with having events like the one last night is that having put something like this down for a night, it's so hard to start back up. Packing it, getting it to the Burn, driving it around, figuring out what to do with it after - all really hard things. It's one of those times when I suddenly feel the weight of all of this and don't know where to turn. Life. Sometimes I feel happy and connected, and other times I feel so incredibly alone, inept, and disconnected that I can't even imagine anyone I could feel close to and struggle with the question of which these realities is truth, and which is illusion. And of course it's neither.
I don't know what the next project will be. I'd like to get back and start going on missions with ESAR and apply for EMT jobs. I'd like to get back into playing the guitar. D has been tossing around some project ideas. But I'm still looking for something that I can point to and say "that!".
|Saturday, August 14th, 2010|
|For those who haven't aready been pestered:
Who we are: The Wandering Hands Piano Bar is a roving piano and orchestra pit built around a Ford F250 pickup. It's a wonderful calamity setting out for Burning Man 2010 on August 26th. Please check us out on our website: https://sites.google.com/site/pianoartca
What this is: The concert and the poker tournament serve at once as a debut, a sending off, and a fundraiser.
The concert will be held from 1 PM to 5 PM. Come out, relax, and see the Beast before it takes off on its epic journey to the Burn. We are looking for people to perform as well, so please bring any instruments you might play!
The concert will be followed by a No-Limit Hold 'Em poker tournament. The tournament will run from 6:00-10. There will be a rules and strategy session a half an hour before the tournament.
Saturday, August 21st
Concert (all ages): 1-5
Poker rules and strategy: 5:30-6
Tournament (18+): 6-10
Come play with us!
|Thursday, May 27th, 2010|
Self-sacrifice is not strength, nor is it a fundamental aspect of heroism. It is an act of a lack of faith in the strength, competency, and potential to learn in other people. This is obviously not black and white, and it's something I'm not entirely guiltless of, but self-sacrifice is for the most part a bad, bad thing.
|Friday, May 21st, 2010|
So among other things with the website that's been taking me way too long, I've had to translate these six poems. Finally made myself sit down and crank all of them out today. This last one especially has been a pain in my side, but I like how it turned out:
When life is like a graceful dance,
When in my head's swampgrass romance
Bloom poems and constellations
I'm a loon.
And when I feel my hours fly,
They push and bustle, scampering by:
The day will come, the hour arrive -
I hear the timeless river twine
But your warm hand is soft in mine
And when we share a glass of wine,
I am a knight.
Who, in the queen's forgotten dreams,
Gallops upon a charcoal steed
All through the night, beneath the moon
|Monday, May 10th, 2010|
SIFF starts on the 20th. Last year was an off year, so the hope is that this year will be awesome (that's how it usually works).
Who is seeing what? Recommendations?
Also, I have four SIFF vouchers left that are good for SIFF cinema films up until May 20th, so if anyone wants one (or four), please come and get it/them from me.
|Saturday, May 1st, 2010|
I've been informed that far more people than I realize are into surgical staples, so now I'm amused and curious. So:
Are you into surgical staples?
I hadn't been, but now I'm curious
|Sunday, April 25th, 2010|
|Artificial worlds and SAR dogs
Neuromancer: "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. [...] Night City, with Ninsei its heart. By day, the bars down Ninsei were shuttered and featureless, the neon dead, the holograms inert, waiting, under the poisoned silver sky.
Altered Carbon: "The sky was the texture of old silver and the lights were coming on across the Bay City by the time Bancroft's chauffeur got me back to town. We spiraled in from the sea over an ancient suspension bridge the color of rust, and in amongst the heaped-up buildings of a peninsula hill at more than advised speed.
Altered Carbon has been on my to-read bookshelf for a while (said bookshelf the result of not-infrequent loose behavior in relation to HPB). Finally got around to it because I needed something to read while hiding for SAR dogs. It's been a really enjoyable read so far, keeping in mind that I'm a sucker for these worlds.
I've been interested in getting involved with Search Dogs for a while, though I don't anticipate having a stable enough life to do that for another couple of years. Which is fine, because their recruiting happens just about every three, and they had one about a year ago.
The process begins with a public meeting (the last one being held at the library). They get about 60-80 attendees at the meeting, of which about half are scared off by the commitment (mandatory back-country twice a month, plus Wednesday evening recommended back-country trainings and Sunday in-town trainings). About 40 submit applications, and 20ish are chosen to come to the meet-and-greet (with their dogs, if they already have them. Some of the people chosen are prospective owners, or just work as "support" for the owners). Of those, about six are picked after the meet-and-greet. The dogs that I saw there were border collies, a couple of labs, and a German shepherd. Generally giant breeds don't do well (too many injuries while going through back-country), which is sad for me, because my heart belongs to Great Danes, Mastiffs, and the Leonberger.
For the first six months, the new members just shadow trainings already in progress, hiding for the dogs and providing general support, so they can get an idea of how the trainings work. The organization doesn't provide basic obedience training, nor does it require it, but the new members are expected to be able to keep their dogs under control, so it is kind of a de facto requirement. They recommend that your dog be able to pass the (pretty basic) AKC Canine Good Citizen test
as kind of a handwavy benchmark.
After that, your dog starts going through the training. There are four major areas of SAR dog expertise - Air tracking (finding any human in an area), tracking (searching for a specific human), cadaver search (finding a dead human), and avalanche searches (finding a human under the snow). They also do water searches (ferrying a dog around in a boat while the dog sniffs around for bubbles produced by a decomposing body), and crime scene/evidence searches. Apparently if you start with air tracking, your dog is highly unlikely to be able to learn to track, so people start with 12 weeks of tracking and then switch over to air. Once they're certified in air tracking, they can go back to ground tracking, or any of the other areas.
For the actual training, the dog gets a Search Dog vest with a bell on it. This lets the dog know that it's in work mode, allows other people (particularly the subjects but also the general public) to recognize it as something that should be there, and lets the handler know where the dog is when it's doing a search deep in the brush. The owner gets a chew toy hung off his or her belt, that the dog is trained to come back and pull on once it has found the subject. The way the training game works is that the subject goes off and hides somewhere in the woods (a couple of hundred feet out for a basic exercise, further down the trail for more advanced scenarios), and the dog is told to "go find" the person. Once the dog has "been in" to the subject, the subject radios back to the handler and lets them know. Meanwhile, the dog is supposed to come back to the handler and tug on the chew toy. The handler yells "show me!" and runs after the dog to the subject. When the dog brings the handler to the subject, the game is over, and the subject praises the dog heavily and plays tug-of-war with him with a reward kong (bite me, everyone who says that playing tug-of-war ruins your dog).
The organization provides all of the training support (though you're there doing the training with your dog for all of it). You can get certified about 18 months later. The test (for air tracking) consists of being able to find two subjects within a large area in the span of two hours. After that, your dog is mission-ready. It sounds like when you're on the actual missions, the air scenting dogs are generally off-leash searching larger areas, and the trail-following dogs are leashed. The dogs are generally "good" until they're 8 or so, though it highly depends on the dog, and some work until they're 10 or 12. Also as they get older, they can switch to doing less demanding tasks that still use their valuable tracking experience; maybe searching smaller or more urban areas. /end report.
So there were three things about this that really impressed me:
The first was the "added communication channel" of training the dog to pull on the chew toy to indicate that they had found the subject. I think this is a brilliant idea. Even if you're not going to train your dog for SAR, this can be a really useful signal for something that you and your dog do have in your lives.
The second was something one of the trainers had told me: "Some people get into the mode of these trainings being tests. When we get "subjects" who aren't well trained trying to work with the dogs, they often tend to think in terms of "how can I fool this dog?" We're not trying to trick the dogs; we're trying to train them, to teach them things." Which brings back a number of bitter memories about classes that I'd taken.
The third was how happy the dogs had been to be out working. It's so rare that we can give them a real job outside of a farm environment. When I get a dog, I want to give him a job. In my experience, humans aren't happy unless they're working either (where working != having a job, working == being engaged in something that they perceive as having meaning).
And here really is the tie-in to artificial worlds:
(here are some things that happen to be independently true)
* Existentialists say we are responsible for creating our own meaning
* Kids enjoy playing war
* There's this tendency to dislike existentialists, to look for some kind of a "real truth"
* Specifically, there's a tendency to think that "things that we do to ourselves" are less "real" than " things that happen to us".
* The more experience we have, the more we tend to realize that "things that happen to us" are really "things that we do" to wit:
* Going to Burning Man makes one realize how many things that seemed like they were built by mysterious black-box "government" agencies are really built by you/people/communities.
* Adults like to play war too
* Things like war that happen to you are and are not like natural disasters. Although they are on a larger scale, they are things that are created by people.
* Somehow realizing that global things like that are created by people playing a big game makes natural disasters and things that "happen to you" somehow less in a different category of things than they were before, which brings us back to existentialism.
* It's ok to find meaning in playing the game.
Artificial worlds, right? Existentialism, in a way. In most ways. On the one hand, giving your dog meaning and work through something that doesn't really exist until something goes wrong, a disaster, is kind of artificial. And, who are we kidding, yourself, not just your dog.
On the other hand, how many things are not? If any.
It's not quite that simple of course, because then you get into the distinction between fixing (DR) and building, and the meaning differences in making something sustainable and just providing support. (And is it meaningful to just provide support?). But you know, it is. Because I guess of the connection, of the smile or of the relief. Or of the cadaver, I don't know. You need both sides of it, but both are pretty real. And it's ok to give yourself permission. Or maybe what I'm trying to say is that I give myself permission. I doubt it's going to be the last time that I'm going to have to do it, but I give myself permission /this time/.
|Monday, April 19th, 2010|
|Russian Car Mechanics, Culture Shock, and Relationships
So I have a regular Russian car mechanic now, I guess, which is rare for me, because I hate paying for car repairs almost as much as I loathe paying for doctor visits. "Car, heal thyself!" is as far as I'm concerned the magic invocation that makes my Frankenstein, like my body, invincible.
Having a Russian mechanic is an Experience, very much like at Universal Studios you have E.T. the Experience, or Backdraft the Experience. It's an Experience with a capital E.
I went to Midas a couple of weeks ago for an oil change and brake change (I did an oil change myself with Travis' help about a year ago, and it was all kinds of fun and exciting, and awesome to know how to do, and also a huge pain in the ass if you don't have the tools to do it, so now it's back to Midas). The guy there ran all sorts reports and gave me a printout and explained some stuff to me and let me choose what sort of repairs I wanted and whether or not I wanted to have mithril brakes or +13 AC dragon plate brakes. Pretty standard. Lots of control over the whole process, for the most part. Nothing got done without my OK. Took about 4 hours, all told.
I went to see Misha today because the check engine light came on in my car, and because I had a torn CV joint boot and needed to replace the battery and was leaking fluids and needed to top off something or other. Mine is an old Frankenstein, and other people drive it, and I don't want them to die. So seeing this guy is like seeing a family doctor, in every possible way. He knew my father and grandfather. Last time I was in there, his clients knew my uncle (who lives in Russia and only comes to Seattle about once a year). Here things are presented differently, not as a series of options, but get in, get out, he'll do some things, get some parts (don't ask from where or whether they are from a car that's like yours), but they will outlast the rest of your car and be about a third of the cost of anywhere else. And then you pay. And you're done. Two hours later. And the parts that you were only supposed to get from a dealer? Magically appear on your car. Don't ask.
So let's talk about the difference between the two and culture shock. In the first case, the situation is neatly and carefully analyzed, things are presented to you on a nice, tidy checklist, and nothing is done without your permission. The things like broken headlight caps you have to go elsewhere for; some other things you have to wait another couple of days for to get fixed, and you have pretty much total control over the situation. And you pay essentially retail.
In the second case, you are swept up by a whirlwind in which you have very little feeling of control. Things that the mechanic (not you) feels need to get done get done; the items which in the first case you would have had to go to several places to collect-them-all magically appear in the right places; if you squint, your Frankenstein might not look quite right, but the elephant that's now replaced your CV joint will outlive GLADOS. How much you pay varies greatly, but unless you did something to piss the mechanic off, it's going to be much less than retail.
And that's kind of a typical difference between an American and a Russian interaction, not just with car stuff, but also in life in general. It's one reason why there could be a lot of culture shock going from one type of interaction to another. As someone who's been in the states for almost 21 years, I get a shock going either direction. It's hard for me to go to my Russian mechanic, to my Russian dentist, to interact with L, because it's hard to not lose equilibrium, being so used to having so much control in a situation. A lot of people I know refuse to try drugs because they are so terrified of losing control - I say, fine, forget drugs then, go live in Russia for a while. In Russia you put words and money and connections with relatives down a black hole, and then wait for something to come out of the other side (never quite sure what and when it's going to be). But sometimes it's awesome. You kind of get used to it. Right, so going the other way is hard too. There's a large part of me that got raised with having that sort of loss of control, or at least a need to be around people that have the sort of personal strength and confidence that comes with being used to McGuyvering all the time without having the need for me to tell them what to do or check the boxes. It results in having little attention span for people who hold themselves back or fail to express their opinions or desires.
Which in turn informs a lot of my relationships. I just turned down an awesome, creative, intelligent guy who I had a lot in common with, partially because I am just not emotionally interested in people who I don't feel I can look up to. I've wondered for a while now how much of confidence is a (learned) behavioral thing and how much it's an inherent thing. I've been super-shy my entire life, and have only over the past year (since the last Burn) and really only last week have really been able to figure out how to interact with different kinds of humans, how to get past the feeling of not belonging and how to make myself belong, especially around folks who act defensive and territorial or who I feel "belong" more than I do. So I feel like I'm getting there, and I'm really curious to see where it will go in another year or so, and if I can do it, so can others. But it's taken frakking years of consistent work.
The short of the last part is that I'm glad we're getting older. I think our 30s will be awesome. I know a lot of people who have been doing a lot of processing and work on themselves, and this is very exciting for me. I can't wait to see it. And I can't wait till the next Burn.
And Russian mechanics still scare me.
|Tuesday, April 13th, 2010|
I was watching this tango video
and it really brings to mind how aware of your partner you have to be in order to do a lot of the more risky and beautiful moves. Some of the embellishments that the follow is doing I would be pretty hesitant to do with any lead that wasn't really good about paying attention to the follow and playing off whatever she was doing, making the dance mutual, instead of executing a pre-programmed set of punchcards. It's an interesting comment on risk-taking in relationships as well - how 1) paying attention and awareness, 2) support/"yes-and", and 3) good communication are paramount for successful risk-taking. And how it's so much more beautiful and complex if both people are doing the risk-taking and not just one conforming to the other.