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wingchunwarrior [userpic]

Since I traded shifts the other day, I ended up doing my shift at the crisis center tonight.  I can't talk about specifics, but let's just say I spent a very  very long hour talking someone with extremely severe OCD down from a panic episode.

In honor of that, here's a video I found on youtube.  It's not that far off.



wingchunwarrior [userpic]

There are times when being the only girl in my main circle of friends is frustrating.  There are just as many times when it's actually pretty cool.  And then there are the times when it's downright bizarre.

I ended up having to work a little late last night, so I swapped shifts with someone else at the crisis center and just went home, which was actually kind of nice.  Rare is the evening these days that I'm home before 8 o' clock.  So, since I was at home, and I was trying to figure out something to occupy myself with while Tim and his students had their clas, it was the perfect opportunity to make a "real" dinner.  Since we're both so busy recently, I normally just throw a couple bags of frozen veggies in the microwave (whoever came up with the idea to make frozen mixed vegetables that you can actually just microwave in the bag is a genius!), bake some chicken breasts or fish or whatever, and cut up some fruit.  Although this fulfills our nutritional needs for the evening, this is not a "real" dinner.  Real dinners involve multiple pots and pans and mixing and recipes and things.  I actually really like to cook and I had just decided to make chicken shumais and stir fried veggies when the phone rang.

"Hey, Rhia."  it was my class brother/mentoree Nick.  One of the cool things Sifu does with his school is that every new student is assigned an older student as a mentor, who is responsible for teaching them the basics like Sil Lum Tao and providing general help and some cheerleading.  Nick got assigned to me several months ago.  He's your typical 19 year old extremely shy geek guy, and so my main job for the moment is bolstering his self-confidence and helping him set realistic goals.  He's just such a goof, though, that I feel this strange compulsion to take care of him and he's got some weird home life stuff going on, so I gave him our phone number in case he needed to talk or get out of the house for awhile.   I asked him what was up, and he said, "Well, my parents are out of the house tonight and I was talking to this girl in one of my classes..."  Which is incidentally a HUGE step for him since he could barely talk to me without blushing two months ago, "...and I sort of invited her over and I want to make her dinner only I don't know how, so what do I do?"

Over the course of my time as the only girl in the dojo, I've grown accustomed being asked weird things.  In many cases, I'm the closest female friend most of these guys have, so if they have relationship trouble or have stuff they need to talk about that they don't necessarily want the other guys to know, they generally come to me.  And that's fine.  Cooking advice, however, is not something I ever really expected to be asked for from a guy.

"Well..." I say, surprised and trying to figure out a good answer, "What have you got to work with?"
"I got some chicken at the store." he said, and then reels me off a list of the stuff he saw in the cabinet and refridgerator.  It should tell you something about his home life when I say that the entire contents of both consisted of a  pack of sphagheti noodles, some packages of ramen noodles, a box of zebra cakes, some instant rice, a 2 liter of coke, and a case of Bud Light. 

At this point, I'm thinking there's no way in hell he's going to be able to pull this off and, being 19 and in school, he doesn't have the cash to take this girl out somewhere.  So I say, "When is she going to be there?"
"About an hour an a half."
"I'll be there in 15 minutes, let me grab a couple of things."

So, I went and cooked dinner and showed him how to make the stir-fry and the shumais so he could do it again if he wanted to, and then left in plenty of time to be gone before the girl got there.  I sent him a text message this morning to see how it went and the reply I got back was "OMG IT WAS GREAT!!!!"  so I expect I'll be getting an earful tonight at class.

Some superheroes can leap tall buildings, I cook dinner for socially awkward teenagers.

wingchunwarrior [userpic]

That would be me.

The good news:  I won.  I KOed her, which actually surprised the hell out me since getting a KO is harder than it sounds and it happened about 38 seconds before the end of the third round.  I actually feel a little weird about it, because it was just an exhibition match, so it almost feels like overkill.

The bad news:  I have a shiner the size of South Dakota, I look like I've been hit by a truck, and I think I've torn a muscle in my shoulder.  I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow to find out for sure.  If so, I will be on light training duty for the next few weeks.

That was a hell of a fight though.  I would kill to be as limber as that chick was.  I got her in north-south once and went for a scarf choke, but she did this weird hip-twisty flip over thing that no one other than people in kung fu movies or Olympic class gymnists should be able to do and got out of it.  I was thinking that it was going to end up coming down to point judging, because I couldn't keep her down and she couldn't keep me down and we were both really tired and I was getting kind of frustrated, but she ended up majorly telegraphing a kick, so I was able to step in and get a good hook in, which dropped her.  But we beat each other up but good.  I've got two huge bruises on my stomach and leg from where she kicked me, as well as a black eye, busted lip, and a cut on my forehead.

I don't know whether to find this funny or not, but I had a training class for the crisis center tonight, and everyone nearly had a conniption when I walked in the classroom and I had to explain that no, I have a wonderful husband and he didn't hit me, although I don't think they were convinced.  Poor Tim.

wingchunwarrior [userpic]

...being able to respond to the inevitable question of "What are you doing this weekend?" from my co-workers: "Me?  Oh, you know.  Laundry, mowing the yard.  Chasing someone across the mat, reaper-throwing them, and arm-locking them  till they cry.  Nothing big."

This one's just an exhibition match, so its not a huge deal, but it's good practice.  One of my class brothers is fighting this weekend and the dojo that's hosting it is trying to get some interest in women's MMA classes.  They were having a hard time finding another female fighter in the same weight class as their junior instructor, so I volunteered.  I've never competed full contact against a primarily karate fighter, so we'll see how it stacks up.  I'm fairly confident that Muay Thai + Judo + Wing Chun > Karate + BJJ, but it'll be interesting to see how it turns out.

wingchunwarrior [userpic]

We went to Tim's parents this weekend for the 4th of July.  By and large, I like Tim's family.  His parents are nice and really, now that the shock has worn off, they just seem happy that Tim is finally and at long last married, which means they can rekindled their hopes of adding at least six (or so I'm told) more grandchildren to the horde.  But that's a different story.  His other relatives are colorful in that sort of upper middle class rural Southern way, and they're at least fun to listen to.  His grandfather, though, apparently had political aspirations at one point in his life and seems to have spent the bulk of his retirement from the military (seriously, they guy was in the tail-end of WWII, Korea, AND Vietnam.  The only reason he retired was because they wouldn't let him fight in the first Gulf War) writing letters to any elected official that he can get an address for and assaulting people with his collected opinion on government, economics, and world affairs.  Many of his observations include a word I can't bring myself to type, but it rhymes with "chigger".   For me, sitting through a whole dinner with Tim's grandfather is about as pleasant as being tried by the Spanish Inquisition and bears many resemblances to the latter.

This weekend, somewhere between the usual tirade about Obama being a terrorist and the assertion that America is going to be a Communist country soon if we don't do something, he mentioned that he had bought a new pair of boots from the store and that the sole had come right off a week later.  When he looked at the box, it said it was made in China.  "Communists." he said, with the sort of venom and disgust most people reserve for Nazi war criminals and telemarketers.   "Well," I said, trying to turn the conversation to a lighter tone, "that's actually not too bad, considering they probably paid some Chinese kid eight sesame seeds to make them."    "What?" he said, with this expression that was about halfway in between confusion and suspicion (because I'm one of those uppity females that has opinions and things, rather than sensibly letting the menfolk handle it while I make dinner).  "Well, a lot of the products shipped to the US from places like Asia and Africa and South America are made by women and children who get paid less than a doller a day."   He seemed to consider this for a few moments, before responding, "Well, you know those Orientals, they're so small, it's not like they eat that much anyway."   And to think, this man failed to get elected to the Georgia legislature OR the local city council.   It's a mad, mad world.  

wingchunwarrior [userpic]

I recently started volunteering at the local crisis call center, because Tim teaches on Wednesday nights and I've decided to keep out of their way for a bit so that the younger guys can be comfortable and not get all macho and weird with a girl sitting in.  And even though I decided to stick with my current program of study, I might as well be putting my psychology background to good use where it can help people.  It's actually a really good arrangement, because I can go straight from work, do a four hour shift, and get home about the time Tim's class is wrapping up.  And, of course, I get to help people and serve the community in some small way, as well as getting a nice little blurb to stick on my resume.  Everyone wins, aside from the occaisional call where you just want to reach through the phone and shake someone or at least crack open a bottle of Jack.

Another good thing is that they bring in people from the local social service organizations to do little 15-30 minute classes now and then on various topics, and tonight they had someone come in and talk about helping people deal with grief and loss.   The lady gave us a copy of this poem and I thought it was really cool, so I decided to share it with you guys.  It's about dealing with grief after a death, but I think it's relevant to a lot of things.

The Elephant in the RoomCollapse )

wingchunwarrior [userpic]

While I'm waiting with baited breath for the details to be ironed out on a certain potential book publication, I've been feverishly working on two other writing projects and laying the groundwork for a third.   You know, inbetween work and my dissertation and being married and the job of just being alive in the 21st century.  I finally pulled Singularity out again and started to edit it.  On the suggestion of melindadansky , I let it sit for awhile before going back to reread it with fresh eyes.  The result being that what started out as a 50,000 word nano-book is now creeping steadily towards 100,000.  A friend of mine in the physics department is beta-reading it right now to help me with the fiddly bits that are outside my area of expertise.  One of the great things about being a space-centered SF writer in Huntsville, is that we have a major NASA installation here, so you can't throw a brick without hitting five rocket scientists who actually do know how a space-vessel would behave under certain conditions because they man the control center for the International Space Station and keep an eye on such things as the various Mars survey projects.   Even better, most of them are die-hard SF fans, so they're only too happy to talk to you for hours about it.  So, when the fact checking is finished, I will probably be begging for beta readers.

Project #2 is a bit of a departure from my chosen genre.  I've talked about it on here a little, but it's turning out to be a much more massive project than I thought.  I don't really like what most people call "High Fantasy", like Tolkien and the Wheel of Time series.   There are some stories when lots of really powerful magic, strange creatures, and high drama is a good and fitting, but it seems like just about everyone does that now.  And I'm annoyed with the number of over the top fantasy novel inspired D&D characters I've had to put up with.  Yes, I'm looking at you, Driz'zt clones!  I wanted to write something that was a little more subtle.  Keep all the good earmarks of fantasy like magic and mythical creatures and powerful villains, but make them sort of the strange underbelly of the world, something that is rare and exciting and difficult to exactly pin down rather than the center-piece of the book, and add to that the edge-of-the-seat tension of a psychological thriller and the in-depth setting and character psychology of a historical fiction.   When I first started on it, I was kind of worried it would go the romance novel route, but it's actually shaping up to be something really interesting.

Only now I have writers block, and the best cure for writers block I've found is to read.   On that note, one of my class brother's wife is a cultural anthropologist who's guest lecturing at UAH this fall, so I dropped by her office to see how she was settling in today and we ended up going to lunch, where we got to talking about some of her research and I mentioned I was trying to get a reading list together, preferably some books that would help me get a handle on how to write the societies in the books I'm working on.  She suggested a few, so now I at least have a place to start:

Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, by Paul Fussel
The Return of the Player, by Michael Tolkin
Global Woman, by Arlie Hochschild
The Interpretation of Cutlures, by Cliff Geertz
Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond
The Singularity is Near: When Human's Transcend Biology, by Kurzwiel
Consider the Lobster: and Other Essays, by David Wallace
The Moral Animal,  by Robert Wright

If anyone else has suggestions, tack 'em on.

wingchunwarrior [userpic]

A little early for a post, but I got to thinking about this while I was in the shower, and I couldn't let it go without some thoughts.

I made the mistake of reading Sandra Tsing Loh's article On Marriage: Let's Call the Whole Thing Off yesterday.  While human sexuality and gender issues is something I think about a lot, I tend to shy away from reading feminist and post feminist texts.  I don't know why, I think it has something to do with the mystical fear of the liberal arts college that is generally instilled in science program students to keep them from defecting, or it could just be that I don't like the way people sensationalize and manipulate evolutionary biology to prove the theory of the week about why men and women behave the way they do.  But, being a newly wed, I just couldn't pass this one up, so I read it.  On the whole, I think the article was a little self-indulgent and in poor taste, but some of her conclusions and reasoning have gotten me thinking.


Rant aheadCollapse )

I have to say though that some of her other articles are interesting.  I looked them up just to get some background.  Every writers puts out a dud now and then, so it's hardly fair to judge her as a writer based on one weird piece.  I don't necessarily agree with her chain of logic in many cases, but I think some of her ideas are at least worthy of consideration.   Sadly, though, this has only served to deepen my already deeply ingrained aversion to feminist/postfeminist literature.

wingchunwarrior [userpic]

Everyone knows that most of the pharmaceuticals companies in the world get their products by studying naturally occuring chemicals in plant and animal life and learning how to synthesize them in the lab for human use.  Everyone does it, and the big secret of drug companies is not where their drugs originally come from, but how you produce them in a lab.  That sort of information can make a company millions, or it can break them if the secret gets out.  So, naturally, there are tons and tons of laws that protect the industrial processes and intellectual property of companies who come up with these drugs and people can get very touchy about it.  Fair enough.  The latest trend, though, is much more disturbing.

Companies that do genetics research are starting to copywrite strains of DNA.  People have been copywriting laboratory DNA lines for years, but there are some companies that are actually trying to copywrite genomes"in the raw" from naturally occuring species.  One of the more famous cases was the RiceTec debocle wherein a US company tried to patent basmati rice, which has been grown in India previously for several thousand years.  Thankfully, they lost (one of the few instances, in my opinion, that the WTO actually did something good for the world).  That's a fairly mild example, too, compared to some of the things pharmaceutical companies have tried to copywrite. 

In my mind, this kind of thing is especially dangerous, because who's to say it will stop at plant and animal DNA?  Somewhere down the line, when the science is more refined and people are more used to the idea of genetics modification, someone is going to say, "Hey, why can't we all have the Kenyan "runner gene" if we want it?" or "Why can't we decide what hair color our baby will have?""  and someone will come up with a procedure to do it and will make a lot of money.   That will inevitably spawn a whole industry of "generichment".  Anyone who can afford it will be able to get their kids DNA scrubbed for hereditary defects and add in a few little perks too.  And, to keep their business going, these companies will probably get copywrites on their respective DNA packages and insert the new genes in such a way that they can't be passed on to offpspring.  A new chromosome perhaps, resident in every cell but the stem cells that produce eggs and sperm.   However, most of the companies will probably start with pre-existing genes, like the proposed "runner gene" or the gene that increases your immunity to viruses, because it would be much easier than creating new genes.  Which means that there could be whole sections of the population walking around with "pirated DNA", eventually, and what on earth do you do about that?  Revoke their genome?  It sounds like science fiction, and honestly, I don't think it will happen this way, but it's something to think about.  Who knows?  One day, 30 or 50 years from now, your genes could be someone elses' property.

wingchunwarrior [userpic]

...is screwing with Republican telephone surveys.Collapse )

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