Friday, April 29, 2016


Today Elli brought a box of Girl Guide cookies to school to sell to a teacher.  Unfortunately things didn't go quite as planned, because the box of cookies mysteriously vanished out of her backpack and she had no idea where it had gone.  When I heard about this I was pretty sure someone stole them, because her dropping a large and noisy object out of her pack and not noticing is unlikely.  The teachers got involved and eventually they discovered that a kid in her class had acquired them and had already opened the box and eaten some.  The story he gave was that he 'found' them and then decided to eat them and share with the class instead of trying to return them to their owner.  Eventually it was decided that he would bring the money to pay for them on Monday.

It was a tricky sort of situation to discuss with Elli.  I want to walk the line between insisting that obviously the kid stole them and outright believing his story because we should believe people.  For one, when someone claims to have 'found' something they bloody well knew wasn't theirs and then just acts as though they own it until they are caught red handed I am not willing to give any story much credence.  This isn't a four year old with no concept of personal property - ten year olds know that stuff you find belongs to someone.

I wanted to get across the idea that the most likely explanation is that the kid in question stole the cookies from her backpack, but also let her know that there is a big difference between being pretty sure someone did something and having actual proof to do something about it.  We can be 80% sure that the cookies were stolen, not found, and since we are stuck needing to think something about the situation that is the most reasonable thought to have.  But that doesn't mean we suddenly need to get all confrontational and demanding about it, because in the end all we have is 'probably' and 'likely' and 'it sure seems as though' and none of those three are proof of anything.

It is hard to say if I got the concept across well.  She was frustrated by the whole incident, but seemed satisfied enough with the conclusion.  Of course it may become a whole different thing entirely if the kid doesn't actually bring the money to class, but we can tackle that when and if it happens.

That willingness to take a step back and acknowledge the possibility of error is a thing I really want her to have.  It is critical in life to both be able to make quick decisions that are usually right but to also have the capacity to realize when you are in fact making the best guess instead of having total certainty.  Understanding the difference between a proven thing and a best guess is something I think the world could use a lot more of, particularly in the area of politics.

Now teaching her about politics, *that* is going to be fun.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Just giving it away

Somebody is telling secrets, and I don't know who.

A few days ago I was chatting with someone on OKCupid and the topic of the movie Willow came up.  You know, the fantasy story about a little person on a quest to fight the evil queen, with Val Kilmer as Madmartigan, the greatest swordsman in the world?

That isn't a particular interesting thing.  Just chatting about an old movie, whatever.

The interesting part is that the next day Facebook slapped some Willow stuff on my page, trying to leverage it to get me to click on things.  I am pretty sure Willow has never appeared there before, and the timing is more than a little suspicious.  I know Facebook targets ads, as it has certainly decided that I want to see fitness oriented ads lately, but since I upload my recent exercise related posts to Facebook that is no mystery.

But how did Facebook find out that I like Willow?

I came up with three possibilities.  One is that gmail is selling me out.  I get emails from OKCupid to let me know about messages, and they contain snippets of conversation.  The name of a character from Willow was there, so it is possible that gmail noticed the character name, linked it to Willow, and sold that information to Facebook.

The second possibility is that Chrome monitors all my text inputs into the internet and sold that information directly to Facebook.

Lastly, OKCupid itself could be selling my information to Facebook.  That seems less likely though as OKC doesn't have my real contact information the way Google does so they would have to guess - or perhaps they could just match up my email address and give Facebook information that way.

It isn't as though this bothers me.  I would happily just tell all these companies that I like Willow.  All the better for them to give me more entertaining advertisements!  Also since I post all kinds of far more personal stuff on my blog this is hardly an issue.

But it does make you think, and should certainly worry anyone who wants privacy on the web.  You don't have it.  Companies shuttle your information back and forth in a desperate attempt to find more efficient ways to get your attention and dip into your wallet.  There is no way around that without just flat out refusing to use things like Facebook completely.  For me this is a cost well worth paying since after all I use these services for free and you don't get something for nothing.  If they couldn't find some sneaky way to monetize free online tools I would either have to pay hard cash or do without, and I don't particularly want to do either.

Obviously this sort of stuff is evil, in a way.  But it is useful evil, to me at least.  I just wish everyone understood exactly how it worked before they signed themselves up for it.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pounds of meat

This past Wednesday I weighed myself for the first time since starting my workout routine.  Ever since roughly age 16 I have always weighed between 165 and 175 pounds, never varying outside that range.  My body doesn't seem to respond to changes in diet the way most people's do.  But now I apparently weigh 184 pounds, which is about 10 pounds heavier than I was six months ago.  In my case it is clearly pure muscle gain, so it is a good rather than a troubling thing.

It is a very odd sensation.  It doesn't seem like much, and most people probably wouldn't notice, but when I try to wrap my brain around it everything makes no sense.  I imagined a hunk of ground beef, 1 pound worth, and thought about strapping 10 of those to my body.
It is preposterous!  I can't have enough flesh to make up 10 packs of meat secreted about my person!

I can see some differences, for sure, but they seem small, marginal at best.  Certainly not like 10 pounds worth.

But when it comes down to trusting measurements by instruments and my own intuition about the way my body interacts with the world, it is only sensible to trust the instruments.

When I think about all the eggs I have eaten in an attempt to add on protein I get even weirder images.  I think about my body covered in raw eggs, yolks sliding down me on a slick of egg white.  That is sort of what is happening here, eggs turning into mass.

I want to roughly triple the results I have seen so far though, which means I need to eat a whole lot more eggs.  I guess I can feel good about myself that I am providing employment for so many chickens that otherwise would have to look for public assistance or work at McDonalds or something to make ends meet.

Here's to all the eggs and pain that will go towards getting my next 20 pounds.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A strategy for continuity

I have been on my new workout routine for 78 days.  Throughout that period I have alternated doing cardio one day, weights the next.  I average about an hour per day in the gym.  My consistency has been really good so far, but this weekend I hit a real bump because I got sick for the first time during my routine.

On Friday I wasn't feeling super and I had Elli and her friend around so it didn't seem right to wander off to work out - I think other parents kind of expect me to be around when I have their kid at my place.  So on Saturday I did a double workout and did two days worth of stuff.  On Sunday I was feeling sick, even more so, and had a time crunch again so I missed my workout again.  Today I missed my volunteering at the chess club at school and spent a lot of the day in bed because I was feeling terrible but when evening rolled around I popped a cold pill and hauled my ass into the gym to do a double up again to get back on track.

I felt those weird fever shivers rolling along my body while I was on the elliptical machine.  I figure if my body is fighting by making me hot, I might as well help by doing a bunch of work to get my temperature up anyway, right?

Other people seem to think this level of dedication is weird.  Everyone tells me that I am allowed to skip a day, that there is nothing wrong with just starting up again once I am well.

I do not buy it.

I need to be completely dedicated to the cause.  If I just give up and don't do it when it gets hard, I will abandon the effort completely.  I know myself in this regard.  I need to do a thing fully, or not do it at all.  Halfassed life changes that I don't stick to religiously don't work for me.

I have done this before, back in 2002 when I decided to go on my one treat a day plan for eating.  I sometimes go over and eat multiple treats a day, but I skip days afterwords to make up for it.  I have been on that program now for more then 14 years and it has stuck, and been really effective.

Other people don't do this.  They give themselves passes to eat lots of candy at Hallowe'en or skip the workout when they are sick.  I think for the great majority that is the only way they can stick to a program.  They need that flexibility built in.  I am the opposite because I need to not have any flexibility built in.  Rules.  Absolute, unbending, and without any give.  These are what keep me on track.

It makes me wonder why I am this way.  It isn't something where I can pick out good reasons for it, and I don't have a story from my childhood that justifies my behaviour.  I just know it works, and I know that everyone thinks I am a weirdo when they hear about how picky I am about it.  In my head it is the only thing that makes sense and everyone else is nuts, but obviously I think that about all kinds of things so this isn't anything new.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A pile of Camp Nightmare!

My shipment of Camp Nightmare arrived!  I finally have my bedroom containing a stack of boxes which look like this when opened:

For those who don't know, this is the board game I designed.  It is a cooperative game about camping with players working together to combat endless disasters and trying to have as high a fun score as possible, (assuming they survive, that is).

So now not only is the game available to order online Here but now it also exists in a stack at my place.  I will be getting a bunch of them to Thunder Bay via my brother, so those of you who exist there will be able to acquire it from him.  Contact me or him about it next week, as they won't get there instantly.  For all those who want to visit me to grab a copy in Toronto, do that!  Call me!  Email me!  Find a way!

I am definitely going to leverage this passing out of games to people to have a boatload of games nights!

The final cost is $35 per box.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Speeding to disaster

This past weekend I tried speed dating for the first time.  Before I got married I had never really done the whole dating thing - I just sat around my living room and eventually ended up makin' out with someone I was already friends with (or at least well acquainted with).  This was a polyamory specific speed dating scenario thankfully, as speed dating in a normal pool of people would be pretty hopeless.

It turns out speed dating in a pool of polyamorous people wasn't particularly successful either!

Signing up was actually a bit tricky because the organizers, wanting to be inclusive and mindful of wildly varying preferences, set it up so people could specify what they would be interested in.  You could specify kinky or not, looking for a primary relationship or not, and what gender(s) you would want your dates to be and what gender(s) you wanted them to be into.

In years gone by this would have been trivial for me.  I am a man, into women.  Done.

But that didn't reflect the diversity of the real world and now I know that.   Given this, I needed to figure out what to say about trans men, trans women, and non binary people as well as men and women.  In theory I am open to dating absolutely anyone but I can't ignore that my primary sexual attraction pings for female bodies.  Cis women are definitely the most likely group to ping me, cis men are the least, and all the others are in the middle somewhere, not especially well defined.  I can tell you what I respond to visually, but that doesn't necessarily correspond well to gender.

At any rate I decided that listing myself as open to dating men was silly.  The chances of real sexual attraction are tiny and I would feel like I was wasting the time of any gay/bi man who I ended up on a date with.  Everyone else I was open to meeting.

When I actually got to the event it didn't go quite the way I had planned.  My first date was with someone I already know so while it was fine it certainly didn't accomplish much.

My second date was with someone who looked very much like a cis man.  He liked me, and the conversation was fine so I liked him well enough, but there unsurprisingly no ping.  I wasn't sure what to say, because directly asking for gender identity doesn't seem like the right choice.  At any rate I figured I had a reasonable conversation with someone I had no sexual attraction to, so no great loss, that's gonna happen.

My next date was with a person who also sure looked like a cis man.  He decided that the way the speed date would go was him endlessly peppering me with questions and asking a new question before I even finished properly answering the first.  It was not great, so sexual attraction was irrelevant.

The next date was a date with two people... who sure looked like a cis man / cis woman couple.  I was only supposed to date groups if they were both people I was into (unlikely, but possible) so this was like the first date.  I liked them well enough but they were dating together and that isn't for me.

On my fifth outing I finally talked to someone who pinged for me.  A cis woman, to nobody's great shock.  Our conversation was fun, and we ended up liking each other on the form at the end.  Score one in the win column.

My sixth date was with a gay man.  We had a good conversation and it seemed like he sensed that I am straight (my vibes were probably shouting that out loud) and I apologized.  It was abundantly clear by this point that the computer had just decided to give me dates with five bi or gay men and one with a single woman.  Afterwards I confirmed that yes, it was part of a series of computer errors giving people dates they were not compatible with.

I was not pleased.

On the other hand I did meet some fun people, had good conversations, and generally enjoyed myself, but it wasn't at all fun being on the spot.  It was not enjoyable thinking that my pairing was a computer glitch but not knowing how to address that, especially when the man in question seemed like he was really into me.  It made me feel shitty and deceptive.  I don't want to reject people, particularly when I get along with them!

Thing is, I actually did better than the average straight man at this event.  There were only 67 matches for well over 100 people, and the conventionally attractive women mostly got as many dates as they could handle and tons of matches.  The spread, as best as I can guess, looks something like this:  Half the people got no matches, a quarter got one match, and a quarter got an average of three matches.  So since straight men made up well over half the crowd I did pretty well with a single match.  Now whether that match ends up turning into anything is anybody's guess, but it certainly can't be considered a really strong lead.

I guess the result of this is going to follow the normal pattern of poly dating - the attractive cis women will get more offers than they know what to do with and will ignore most of them.  I bet at least half of the matches come to exactly nothing, not even a coffee date.  The rest of the crowd (both cis men and all the trans folks of various stripes, and also the women that aren't so conventionally attractive) end up chasing the pieces with mixed success.

This is basically the online dating story, just in a different format.  While it was nice to try something new and I did have some good chats I am not particularly optimistic for doing this again.  Even if they fixed the computer problems and I got more dates with people I have a better chance of being attracted to my odds of finding anything lasting out of it are slim at best.  Speed dating isn't that much fun for me, poly or not, glitches or not.  I want to be able to actually talk about stuff.

Live and learn I suppose.  Onward!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dear Jian

Last week I posted about the result of the Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault trial.  Part of my post was based on the idea that the judge found the witnesses' testimony not credible based on their collusion, lying under oath, and withholding information.  I concluded that we really need to stop trying to put sexual assault victims in situations where they are giving information that isn't absolutely necessary to understand the event, and which will result in them being unfairly judged.  They will often lie in that situation, we know they will, it has nothing to do with the guilt of the accused, and it makes victims unlikely to come forward.

One of the underpinnings of my post was the assumption, based on a variety of mainstream media sources and legal experts, that the judge made a reasonable judgement on the issues with the testimony.  Ghomeshi is obviously guilty, but the judge found that the testimony was insufficient to convict beyond a reasonable doubt.  Or so went my thinking, and many others thinking.

However, when you actually read through the things the judge said you find that an awful lot of his conclusions had nothing to do with actual collusion or lying and everything to do with his unfair and immoral judgements of the victims.

He didn't think the victims behaved in a way that victims should.  Which is bullshit.  Victims don't all behave the same way, and insisting that they follow a specific pattern in order to be believed is disgustingly misogynistic.

He thought that the victims used foul language and were extremely angry, which cast doubt on their testimony.  Which is bullshit.  Being angry about their suffering and wanting revenge is not collusion.

I wasn't present for any of the crimes Ghomeshi committed, but I can know for sure that he committed them by looking at the complaints of the victims and their numbers.

I wasn't present for the trial, but I can be sure that the victims weren't given the credit that they were due because the judge holds archaic, immoral, and sexist views about sexual abuse and its victims.

Did the system and its flaws cause the witnesses in the Ghomeshi trial to say a bunch of untrue things?  Yes, and we should fix that.  But it isn't even clear that fixing it would have changed this outcome, because the judge had already decided that the people testifying weren't 'proper' victims and as such he didn't feel obligated to believe them.

Fuck that guy.  His screwup may have hurt even more people that Ghomeshi did, by promoting the idea that sexually assaulting women has no consequences and that coming forward to report assault will be ignored, disbelieved, and always judged as insufficiently well performed suffering.

Allo, sort of

I read a post about primary and secondary sexual attraction on valprehension and it made me think about the way I experience sexual attraction and the way I make decisions about it.  The post postulated that primary sexual attraction is roughly speaking the desire to have sex with someone based on superficial qualities, while secondary sexual attraction is based on intimacy, emotional connection, etc.

One particular quote stood out:

The way I think about secondary sexual attraction in an allosexual context is that it’s the thing that allows people to remain attracted to each other over time in long-term relationships, as their bodies inevitably change drastically from however they used to look, and stop having the characteristics that caused the initial primary sexual attraction they may have felt for one another.

This gave me pause, because I suddenly realized that this illustrates how different I am from most allosexuals in terms of the way I experience primary and secondary sexual attraction.

If I am in a relationship with someone the idea of not being sexually attracted to them just seems impossible.  It isn't as though I need to lean on shared experience and emotional closeness to maintain desire, because the only way that sort of bond can exist is in combination with intense lust on my part.  Granted, I haven't been in a long term relationship with someone whose body changed drastically over time - like, for example, being in a relationship with someone from the age of 20 to 80, but I do know that lust doesn't diminish with time at all for me.  From day 1 to day 4000 it is always there.

When I think about the idea of being in love with someone and not wanting to jump their bones it feels preposterous.  Romantic love doesn't help sexual desire along - sexual desire is a requirement for romantic love to even exist for me.

In any case most of the change in sexual desire in long term relationships has little to do with appearance.  People who have sex every day at the start of a relationship generally wind down fairly rapidly whether or not they change how they look.  It is more a function of time and familiarity.  Appearance is definitely critical at the start for most people, and matters some down the road, but it isn't the critical factor that changes sexual desire for most people.

I suspect that sexual desire and romantic attraction aren't so dependent for most people.  They are independent variables, and people are mostly quite able to have lust for some, love for others, and search for that magical person in whom they can have both things.  Like the quote above says, that lust fades with time and the love maintains the bond, and this makes sense to me.

Demisexuals are different in that they don't normally experience lust except when an emotional bond is already there.  I appear to be the opposite of that, where love doesn't appear except in the case where lust already does.  I tried thinking of a term for this, like hemisexual or duosexual, but all the words are already taken, so forget it.  I found lots of discussions on what the opposite of demisexual is, but the concepts were all quite unlike me.  Perhaps I should have been looking for the complimentary version of demisexual instead of the opposite?

Not to say that I am some special snowflake, particularly, because most allosexuals experience romantic love and lust as intertwined most of the time.  However, most of them also experience lust declining while romantic love remains, and most of them are quite capable of maintaining romantic love without primary sexual attraction.  I don't do either of those things.

I do totally agree with the main point of Val's post though, my ramblings on this small chunk of exposition aside.  There is nothing wrong with having any particular set of things you find attractive about people, and certainly no moral fault in making their physical characteristics part of the package.  You definitely should think about it like "This is what I have found attractive in others" rather than "X group is unattractive" though, because it is fundamentally a thing that happens in your brain, not a characteristic of the other person.

I often see sapiosexual listed as a thing on dating profiles, and if a person really is only interested in somebody else's brain, then all good.  However, there are definitely people who pitch themselves like that because they think it makes them superior... and a strange tendency for them to still mostly want to date conventionally attractive people.  What you are attracted to is your thing, and you can be whatever way you want, but don't try to place your attractions on a pedestal, and don't pretend that it is some universal property of the world.

Like whatever stuff you want, just don't make it out that you are better than others for liking the stuff you like, nor that the stuff you don't like is inherently bad, or even unlikeable.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Gotta learn the hard way

When I started looking for advice on how to go about lifting weights I saw a lot of things that didn't make any sense to me.  One of them was the way that people who lifted weights just sat around for most of the time in they spent in the gym.  I couldn't quite figure out why that would be, because I figured that if I was spending time in the gym I ought to spend all of the time doing something.

Initially my routine was to do a set, jump on the elliptical machine for 1 minute, then do another set.  I just kept myself constantly working.  Efficiency!  Fitting in extra cardio!  I wondered if the reason other people didn't do this was just because in most gyms the cardio equipment isn't right beside the weight equipment, or that there are lots of people competing for equipment so you can't just run back and forth between machines monopolizing everything.

Now I think I actually understand.  When I started out I wasn't lifting much weight so when my muscles were worn out I still hadn't actually burned through that much energy.  My cardiovascular system wasn't being particularly taxed even though my arms were sore, so I could easily do some extra cardio between sets.  Now though my weights are a lot higher and I am struggling because I really need actual rest between sets and can't just 'rest' on the elliptical.

So it seems that all those people who were sitting around actually knew what they were doing.  Who would have thought?

I also had the problem that while I was trimming away the tiny amount of fat my body had, I wasn't really bulking up much.  Of course that was because I was working out for an hour a day but hadn't changed my eating habits at all.  No matter how much weight I throw around it isn't going to get me big unless I put all the food into me.

My solution was to eat my normal amount of food every day and just add on 6 eggs.  I like eggs a lot and they are healthy, cheap protein so that was an easy choice to make.  The trouble I have been having is that my eating and lifting is messing with my schedule.  I need to pack in extra meals but I can't do it right before working out or I feel absolutely gross.  I keep running into the situation where I realize I have 3 hours and in that 3 hours I need to eat two big meals and do the whole work out / shower / cool down routine and that just doesn't have an obvious optimal route.

I need to redesign my life around always finding time to eat a lot and have 90 minutes to spare that doesn't come right after eating.  I really thought it would be the pain or exhaustion that would be the tough part of bulking up, not the raw logistics of fitting the stuff into my schedule.