Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pointless Factoid XXVII

Inter-Uterine Devices (IUDs) are the world's most popular form of reversable contraception. Interestingly, the non-hormonal IUD used in the US is essentially just a T-shaped piece of plastic with a copper wire wrapped around it. Strings extend from the uterus into the vaginal cavity.

IUDs work because the presence of a foriegn object in the uterus prompts the endometrium to produce compounds hostile to sperm and egg alike. The devices have strings so that the wearer (if indeed that is the proper term) can determine that it still remains properly emplaced, and to aid in the IUD's eventual removal. Apparently these strings may be noticeable during sexual intercourse which, I would think, would be a little odd.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A hill of beans, and other cinematic legume references

As it seems this blog, taken alone, may have provided some of my associates with an inaccurate depiction of my varying qualities and insufficiencies, I have decided to take this opportunity to respond to a few claims levelled at me in recent weeks.

Problems: In an absolute objective sense, I don't really have any. I'm not going to starve. There isn't a rebel army looking to chop me to pieces for being the wrong tribe. I've got all my limbs, most of my mental faculties, and a standard of living the envy of millions. Such difficulties as I may encounter are first world problems; I'm not fabulously rich. The girl I like doesn't like me. I wish I was a little bit taller. I wish I was a baller (try identifying that song without recourse to the internet!).

A friend of mine recently claimed that I make spilled milk sound like the Noahchian deluge (though not in those terms, which probably goes some way to proving the point). And, I suppose it is a charge with some degree of validity. I concede that the literary style I have affected is burdened by, among other imperfections, an unnecessary recourse to the dramatic. We tend to see formality as an inevitable indication of importance. When it is employed to catalogue personal disappointments, there may seem to be Byronic pretensions.

To the extent that they exist, they're unintended, and really in life I am closer to Charlie Chaplin than Charlton Heston. My problems seem important to me because they are mine, but I do not flatter myself that they are either particularly unique, or unusally oppressive.

Depression: On occasion blogging seems to be, at least for me, nothing other than a litany of literary self-flagellation. This charge, like the other, has a hint of truth to it, but such validity as it may claim is due more to selection bias than simple disatisfaction.

I use my blog as a forum where I can engage my issues on my own terms. It isn't really even meant for public consumption, and while insofar as any reader may derive amusement from my endeavors they are welcome to do so, I write (for the most part) for a solitary, introspective audience.

Accordingly, if I've had an awesome day, or struck some unusual fortune, rarely do I feel the need, or even the interest, to describe it. Like most people, I assimilate success easily. It's only failure that necessitates discussion.

Inhibition: A friend recently accused me of having "taboo" subjects which, I think, is not particularly damning (as we all have our own little limitations), but he meant it to encompass even such topics as should be commonly suitable for discussion. Again I must concede some accuracy in the accusation, but I actually think it misses the mark.

The reality is that I believe I display a remarkable willingness to describe my own limitations and express my frustrations. Admittedly, such volition is restricted primarily to the printed word, but it is at least in a venue of universal exposure.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (29, that is)

I hate my birthday.

Now, when I say I "hate" it, I do not speak in the simple chronological sense, and the increasing nearness of inevitable mortality. Nor do I express insincere protestations in the hopes of garnering attention, gifts, or social events of dubious value (such as "surprise" parties). Rather, I hate my birthday because it is the one day when my insecurities and inadequacies grow beyond the respectful bounds of colorful idiosyncracies, instead assuming a troubling primacy over my psyche.

For the other 364 days the disparate slivers that forms what passes for my personality maintain, more or less, a kind of workable cohesion. Even when I am unhappy or distressed, these things are in me in the adjectival sense, as in I feel unhappy. But today these terms take on the trappings of nouns, and as a consequence I am unhappy.

The reality is that my miseries, to the extent that they even warrant such a term, are no greater on the 29th of May than they were on the 28th. It is my inability to properly internalize them that makes the day so difficult, and hence why I view it with something akin to dread.

But though my problems are no larger today than any other day, they do loom more prominently in the mind. I am plagued by unfulfilled ambitions and affections, which trouble me as incomplete, or unbecoming, or even in some instances both, or neither, or more.

Some of them seem no further than my fingertips; others may as well be on the moon. But either way I lack the capacity to consumate them, and the good sense to divorce them. Strangely, it may seem that those within my grasp would frustrate me more, as there I am my own obstacle, but in an ironic turn I find I press and strain against the impossible, until the effort replaces enthusiasm with exhaustion.

David Hume once wrote that reason could aspire to no other office than to serve passion. In my everyday life I acclaim reason and disdain passion, regarding even its pleasures as deleterious. It may then be fitting that on the 29th of each year I am forced to pay the compounded interest of sentiments deferred the rest of the year.

But even so, I hate my birthday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Four days in Xanadu

This weekend I was at Kublacon, a gaming convention in Burlingame, near the San Francisco Airport. It's four days of RPGs, CCGs, LARPs, miniatures, board games, and sleep deprivation. To these activities must be added drinking, socializing, and more than one or two hook-ups, as despite the general stereotype assigned to nerds, cons tend to have something of a party atmosphere, and gaming is at its heart a social hobby.

As usual I had a good time, managing to play a wide variety of games and meet up with a number of people I only encounter at these events. Such "con friends" occupy an unusual strata among the layers of social relationships. You see each other infrequently, but that in large blocks over a short timespan, and amongst a sea of like-minded strangers. Even someone ill-disposed to quick attachment would find that con events can help forge instant, though shallow, bonds.

Aside, or simultaneous to hanging out with con buddies, I managed to fit in a lot of gaming. On Friday I helped run my brother's Napoleonic War board game. We had a good mix of new and veteran players, and the game developed an interesting dynamic and ended, appropriately, with an unlikely resolution.

On Saturday I filled a seat in the Game of Thrones tournament, but was solidly defeat by almost all my opponents, including my brother. After that I gave Vampire: Prince of the City a try but didn't really care for it, and watched as a friend playtested his homebrew CCG. The highpoint of the day, and in some ways the con itself, came later that evening when I ran my Serenity game Love in the Time of Compression Coils (apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez for the title). Upon finishing that game, I spent all night battling a master strategist for control of the ancient Mediterranean in Pax Romana.

Sunday was a little less busy than Saturday, but I still managed to play several games. I beat my brother in Zombies, almost destroyed the Galactica as a Cylon in the BSG board game, lost to friend and stranger alike in Vampire: The Eternal Struggle, gave Carcassone another try (won, but still don't care for the game), and played Race for the Galaxy and La Havre until Monday morning.

Now exiled once again to the real world, I'm already looking forward to the Labor Day weekend con. If only September weren't so far away.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Northern Sirens

Their album came out on April 28th. R&B isn't exactly anyone's first idea of Swedish music, but these guys are pretty cool.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stealth Mode

There is something about RSS feeds that I find objectionable. What exactly it is I'm not entirely sure, but I do know that I don't like the idea of being tracked. Therefore I have, insofar as I understand the process, gone into the settings and disabled feeds. Whether or not this will actually do anything I can't really say, but at least for the moment it makes me feel pretty sneaky.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Life Imitates Art

Every so often we have a moment in our own lives that resembles more a scene bound by celluloid than reality. Earlier this evening, I had one such experience. In itself it was a trifling affair of little note, a misunderstanding born of mojitos and poor judgement, that subsequently assumed somewhat epic pretensions.

Maybe another day I'll go into more detail, but for now I'll just note that, without the benefit of laugh tracks or montages, movie scenes aren't always as fun to live through as they are to watch.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ebb and Flow

It never rains but it pours. When I was in trial, and without time to accept other work, I had to decline a number of potential cases. Now that my trial is done and I have all this free time, there's nothing to do.

All I've done this week is write a contract, revise an NDA, and give a nickel's worth of free advice on landlord-tenant law. Thursday is another volunteer session, this time at the bankruptcy clinic in Oakland, which however good it may be for karma, does little to help the balance book. I did pick up another translation editing assignment. Better than nothing, but not much.

I think I need to marry rich.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

First rule of Fight Club

Don't talk about Fight Club!

P.S. I hate that movie.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Gmail: Now with drunk filter!

Apparently drunk people sending email is a rather common occurrence now. Common enough, at any rate, for gmail to have a feature meant to help lushes avoid sender's regret. I think I know a few people who should sign up!

Unfortunately, their gain is our loss, as experiencing and cataloging the escapades of the inebriated is one of the great joys of sober visitors to drunk land.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Arms hurt, and other stumbling blocks

Just returned from the gym, where my complete lack of upper body strength continually manages to manifest itself in new and humiliating fashions. This prompted me to consider a few things that are, for me, stumbling blocks.

1) Pull ups.
2) Unguarded left turns.
3) Homophones.
4) Appropriate human social responses.
5) Water conservation (I'm a lengthy showerer).

Of course, the first step to solving a problem is identifying it. Thus, from a certain perspective, I'm on my way to self-improvement. Unfortunately, were there a #6 on that list, it would be an inability to progress any further than a single step on any personal project.