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mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Hmm. Mixed. Distinctly mixed. Had bagels and lox for brunch (well, actually, Colleen had bagels and lox, I had my lox on a gluten-free "English" muffin, and the YD had hers neat. Then we headed up to San Francisco, intending to go to the DeYoung Museum, which the YD needed to visit for her art history class.

The parking lot was full, and most entrances to Golden Gate Park were blocked; there must have been something going on there. So we fell back to Plan B: the Cantor Museum at Stanford. The Cantor has a huge collection of Rodin sculptures; I love it. Colleen and I had a blast.

The YD was bored. And unfortunately, I misinterpreted her sitting down and saying "I'm done" as meaning *"done with the museum" rather than "done with this gallery", so Colleen and I left her there while we explored the upstairs. This proved to have been a big mistake; she was in tears at having been abandoned.

We took her out to dinner, partly as compensation, and partly because I was starving and didn't want to cook. We went to Jasmine, our favorite local Chinese place. We hadn't been there in several months; they seem to have a new chef and a slightly different menu. Yum.

But I didn't get much else done. A little work toward replacing the audio on the Conflikt concert page with a better recording, but didn't actually get it done. Blarg.

I also found out that the Westercon 65 web site is out of date and woefully short on contact information. Anyone out there know who I should contact about a filk concert gig? (Hint: not Rick Weiss; that's part of the "out of date" thing.)

A few links in the notes.

raw notes )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

It's kind of ironic -- two days ago I wrote a post asking my friends to call me on my mistakes. Then followed it up with another post that several people called me on. Quite rightly, because I got carried away by my own rhetoric, and lost track of the points I was really trying to make. Being angry, upset, and short on sleep can lead to stupid mistakes, as I damned well ought to know from occasionally trying to drive in that condition.

It's doubly ironic, because I was trying to call some friends on their mistakes. Let's try again, shall we?

Sometimes you have to tell a friend something they really don't want to hear. It's hard. Sometimes it involves a mistake they don't realize they're making, which is bad enough. Sometimes it involves something they're afraid to admit to themselves. That's worse; because it can be perceived as a threat to who they think they are. You can lose a friend, messing with that kind of dynamite. Been there, done that.

Usually they don't listen, but if you're really their friend, you have to try. Sometimes, as in the case I'm thinking of at the moment (I'll get to some specifics further down), you make stupid mistakes that dilute your message. It's really easy for them to focus on a fact you got wrong, or the hurtful way you said it, and to ignore the message.

It's all to easy to give up at that point, or to not even get to that point. To pat them on the head and say "I hope everything gets resolved" or some such, and go on your way hoping that you were right. It's guaranteed to make your friend feel better, which is a good thing, right?

Maybe not.

(Aside: I now understand a little better where religious evangelists are coming from. But I'm not going there tonight.)

So let's get to the specific case in point. If you're tired of seeing posts about what's going on with my friends in Seattle, you might want to stop here. Or, better, you might want to read on and comment if you see me getting it wrong again. Because I think it's important to keep trying.

 

Here's the main point: my friend (not "former" friend -- if I didn't still care a lot about her, I'd just give up on her) has said repeatedly that she's not a danger now. That "I do not wish her harm". That she's on her guard now, and has her temper under control.

That. Is. Her. Mistake. How can she possibly know?

It's been less than two months since the assault. The court has ordered a psychiatric evaluation, but that hasn't happened yet. Let alone any therapy that might be recommended (or required -- I don't know how these things work) as a result. She hasn't yet finished -- may not even have started -- the anger management program that would teach her how to keep her temper in check.

I don't think she ever wished to harm her partner. But she did. She says that her temper is under control. But she said that before the attack, too. She was wrong then, what makes anyone think she isn't wrong now?

She said "But that isn't me" -- but if that's true, then there's somebody else in her head, who comes out when she's angry and takes over her body. Maybe I'm wrong about that bit -- I'm neither a psychiatrist nor an exorcist. It sure sounded like that, the times I heard her voice when she got angry.

That kind of thing can take years to get a handle on -- I've spoken to some of my friends who've struggled with various forms of dissociation. It's not something that she can fix in a couple of months before even knowing in detail what she's up against. There's a reason why she's going to be under the court's supervision for the next two years, and why an order of protection runs for a year and can be renewed for a second.

It's going to be a long, hard road. And it's going to require deep, lasting change, which I know from talking with her former partner is what she's really terrified of. No wonder she's looking for shortcuts!

 

But this isn't just about my friend, it's also about her friends. Yeah, some of you, too.

Do you really you're doing her a favor when you let her lie to herself? When you let her shift as much of the blame as possible to her victim? When you tell her you hope this all gets resolved soon? Cat makes a good point - "resolved" doesn't mean "blows over and everything goes back to normal", but more like "good progress getting her life back together". She's doing that, and I applaud her for it.

How about telling her the truth -- that she's looking at a couple of years of court-ordered inconvenience and hard psych work? And, if you're really her friend, that you're going to give her all the help and encouragement you can, but she has to start walking down that road herself before she can get to the end of it.

... it's getting late, and I'm liable to say something stupid if I keep going in this direction. Must. Keep. Walking... G'night, friends.

ETA: I know all of her friends wish her well, and that some of you may be giving her good advice and help behind the scenes. Keep it up! I've been trying that route, too; there's a lot of email you haven't seen. She's going to need a lot of support from all of us over the next couple of years.

ETA(2): Barring something very unusual happening, I expect this to be my last post on this subject. Flame wars are unproductive and exhausting, and I may not be getting any wiser, but I'm certainly getting older. I hope to provide more light and less heat in the future.

mdlbear: (river)

I'm not really sure how to go about this. And it's getting late. So I'm going to take the easy way out...

REDACTED: That was bloody stupid of me, wasn't it? Bears can be clumsy sometimes. I'm leaving this in place for the sake of the comments, which I found very valuable, but if you want me to remove yours just let me know.

This post should have been sent in email or a private message. I'm really sorry about any damage I caused with it, and will try to be more careful and less clumsy in the future. In particular, I need to stop posting about what I think is going on in other people's heads -- I'm extremely bad at it.

I will, however, stand by what I think is the point I ought to have been making, which is that when somebody has demonstrated that they don't have full control of what's going on in their own head, it will take more than a few weeks of good intentions to get it back. It may take a year or two of hard work.

And that I think such a person's friends would be doing them a service to remind them of that fact.

mdlbear: (river)

I'm going to try to keep this post pretty close to the surface; the next one downstream may cut a little deeper. You've been warned.

If you're my friend, and I do something wrong, or stupid, or hurtful, I really hope you'll be a good enough friend to tell me about it. If I make excuses, or try to feed you a line of bullshit, I hope you'll call me on it. I need you to call me on it -- that's how I learn.

I'm not all that good at being human. I make a lot of mistakes; and miss a lot of cues that might be obvious to someone more sensitive, and sometimes I hurt people without intending to. If you ignore it, or let me brush it off with an offhand apology, I'm likely to do it again.

My parents always told me that "just apologizing isn't enough."

Sure, I'll apologize, and try to repair the damage I caused. Sometimes it's not repairable, which makes me sad. I'll probably offer either an excuse, or an explanation. Don't let me get away with excuses.

I realize this is a difficult concept for some people, maybe even most people, but there's a big difference between an excuse and an explanation. An excuse involves putting the blame on somebody or something else. "The dog ate my homework." "He just came out of nowhere and rear-ended me." "I didn't mean to, I just sort of blew up."

An explanation is an attempt to identify something that I can do differently next time. "I put my homework where the dog could reach it." "I wasn't paying attention to the side streets; I must have been thinking about something else." "I seem to lose control when I get angry, and say things I don't really mean." See the difference?

My Dad was a scientist, and I'm a computer programmer. I know it deep in my bones -- I can't bullshit nature. I can't sweet-talk a computer. There's always an explanation, even if I don't know how to find it. People are more difficult, and I'm more difficult still. It's really easy for me to lie to myself. Or rather not lie, exactly, but to gloss over what really happened because knowing the truth, the reality, would make me uncomfortable.

A friend is, often, someone who's willing to point out uncomfortable truths. Someone who's willing to stand behind me and push me to own up to my mistakes, to stand beside me and hold my hand when I do.

If you see me doing something wrong, call me on it.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Hmm. This is a hard one. I'd call it ok, except that I spent pretty much the entire work day saying goodbye to people, which is sad. I'll stop by occasionally, and try to keep in touch in other ways, but it'll still be difficult.

My last day at EWS coincided with with the monthly all-hands meeting, where each of the three of us who were going back to research got handed a fern for our new office, and a couple of bags of chocolate-covered nuts. And tasty food -- burritos from Chipotle -- augmented by platters of spring rolls and fruit brought in by (lab tech) Grace.

I got several hugs, which was nice. People said they'd enjoyed working with me, and mentioned Middle-Sized Bear qualities like gentleness -- that felt a little odd, but good. I gave out a few of my personal cards.

On the gripping hand, I seem to have gone back to being as bad as ever about making phone calls, and especially to friends. I Do Not Like this, and it makes me feel bad about myself, but I'm not sure what to do about it. It's weird, because I like talking to people, but I don't want to interrupt anything more important (of course, anything must be more important than talking to me, right?). *sighs*

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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It was a pretty good weekend, on the whole, but there was more friction than was good for us. That's fixable, now that we know how to plan Tempered Glass visits. I'll get to that later.

It was also tiring, with about 500mi worth of driving, and me doing a lot of the cooking, fetching and carrying. With special thanks to the Younger Daughter, who was exceptionally helpful. We took her out to dinner Sunday night, while Callie and Naomi were having dinner with old friends of N's, and Mike Whitaker was visiting the Bohnhoffs. Good times were had.

We got in some good rehearsal time, too, with four songs worked on. One of the problems, though, was trying to cram in an intensive rehearsal session every day, along with shopping expeditions (Callie and Colleen), a baseball game (Naomi and Mike), dinner in San Francisco (Callie and Naomi), and a full day of work from home (me). Yeah. Not a terribly realistic schedule.

One of the other problems was that Colleen, not being a musician herself, really doesn't want to sit on the kind of intensive rehearsals that we do when we're working on new songs. They quite understandably drive her crazy. So...

The conclusion we (well, mostly Naomi, but she's Tempered Glass's artistic director and main inspiration) came to was that, when they're visiting the Starport, it's a social visit. Talking, hanging out, visiting other friends, making music certainly, but if there's time to squeeze in an actual rehearsal it's an extra. In contrast, when I go up to Seattle, it's a "working weekend" and the emphasis will be on getting in some good, solid rehearsal time every day.

Did I mention that we'll be giving a concert at Conflikt? That's the plan. And it'll be almost all new material.

Did I mention the crab lasagne? There was crab lasagne. Also salmon. And cheesy eggs, and bacon.

Plus a surprising anmount of coding done; about an average work-day's worth in spite of being at home Friday and fitting it into the spaces between bouts of insanity.

So, ... a good weekend, but kind of stressful and disappointing because we tried to fit a week-long visit into a weekend, with predictable results. We're learning, though -- next time will be better.

Not a whole lot of links, but you'll find a few in the notes.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Not a particularly noteworthy or productive day; it felt a lot like a Monday. I did get My concert at Westercon posted, though I screwed up the audio links via cut-and-paste. Have to work on that.

I got in a two-mile walk; it was hot, and I'm clearly very out of shape. But still, walking is good.

It occurred to me that the fact that I'm reading far fewer books these days may have something to do with the fact that reading books is a solitary activity. (Reading the web feels different; LJ is a way of connecting with people.) There may be something there. (ETA:) On the other hand, I may just be getting lazy, or losing my ability to concentrate, or something totally different.

Only one link, up in the notes as usual.

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So it was... ok, I don't know what it was. Managed to get to the con without overloading this time, so the day was relatively relaxed. On the other hand, I missed my panel because it was scheduled for after the business meeting, and for some reason I failed to see the sign on the door saying that the panel had been rescheduled.

The business meeting took three hours. This was because the hoax bid, for Granzella's, had won the site-selection vote. Whereupon Kevin and Andy decided that, if selected by the business meeting, they would actually deliver, and hastily recruited a committee of convention veterans. They won.

Be careful what you wish for.

My concert went off well. The final set list was: "Keep the Dream Alive", "Millennium's Dawn", "Where the Heart Is", "Ship of Stone", "Cicero in the 21st Century", "Daddy's World", and "Quiet Victories".

I was followed by Allison Lonsdale, who is a brilliant songwriter and a polished performer whose sets are always high-energy fun.

We had dinner at Johnny Rockets again, which probably explains my weight gain over the last two days. After that I mostly hung out in the parties and with Colleen outside the filk room, though I did go in around 10:30, getting in one song ("The Owl and the Pussycat") before we left around 11:30.

Some excitement was added by my having forgotten to plug in the scooter the night before, so Colleen started the day fairly low on charge. And whoever plugged her in in the afternoon didn't check to make sure that the battery was actually charging. Which it wasn't -- it's all too easy to plug it in wrong. So it was touch-and-go at the end, or rather touch-and-go-very-slowly.

She stalled out on the ramp going into the house, and cleverly told the YD to put it in freewheel and push. With predictable results. I yelled "stop", but it was too late; the YD freaked out as the scooter started rolling back at her, and I had to finish the job (put it back in gear and push to boost the motor, not replace it) while the YD stalked off in a huff because I had yelled at her.

There is a good reason why I can't teach the kids to drive -- I cannot come up with words in a situation that requires a fast, accurate response. I either freeze altogether, or come up with something unhelpful, or that would have been helpful a moment ago but makes matters worse now.

And I discovered this morning that she hadn't put the garbage out, despite having been reminded twice.

But a good day on the whole.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Not the greatest day, but on the whole not all that bad. I woke up absolutely convinced that it was June 5th and that I had some bills that were overdue. There was a dream involving a deadline, and submitting forms from a hotel room. I was nearly right about the second of those, so I set about making payments. Not allowing for the automatic mortgage payment on the 4th, because of course I thought it was the 5th.

Luckily, I managed to catch the error in time to fix it.

Meanwhile, I had quite a lot of pain, this time mostly on the right side of my neck (opposite the shoulder that I injured on Monday), and got a few things done at work but mostly design rather than tangible code. Monday, hopefully. The drop deadline is Thursday afternoon.

Someone recently asked me why geeks seem to be totally unable to learn not to launch into a discussion of geekery around non-geeks. Lawyers and midwives, to give two examples, don't seem to have this problem. It was an interesting question.

I think there are two parts to the answer. First, we geeks have learned that when most people mention a geekish problem around us, it's usually an implicit plea for advice or help. And all you have to do is... Many of us are proud of our ability to explain the problem and guide a non-technical person through the fix. And we're the same way; if I mention a medical complaint around a friend who's a doctor, it's usually because I'm hoping for some advice, not a few sympathetic words and a quick change of subject. But asking by implication is a good way to allow for that possibility if they don't want to talk shop in a social environment.

The second part is that, unlike lawyers and midwives, geeks don't usually have a clear separation between our work and our hobbies. We all come home, sit down at our computers, and read our LJ friends list. When a midwife does that, it's clearly different from delivering babies. When I do it, on the other hand... Especially since I use the same text editor for code, web pages, and LJ posts.

Anyway, I went splat early; I think I mentioned that pain is exhausting.

I brought home a couple of eQuill tablets to show off at the party, and cleverly left the pens at the office. Silly bear. I'm going back to fetch them in a couple of minutes, and pick up the ice on the way home.

Meanwhile, here's GeekDoctor on the Cool Technology of the Week. His previous post (see notes) was about choosing a good single-malt. Enjoy!

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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Yesterday's main event, besides getting the shell script that I've been working on working, was a power outage at home. Wherein I discovered that the external disk on the router was what kept it from coming back promptly when the power finally came back.

It's less obvious why the net connection went out immediately instead of waiting for the UPS to time out; I suspect that a power strip isn't on the UPS that I think it's on. Growf.

An amusing link: How long until Internet Explorer falls below 50 percent?

Want to bet that, a year from now, IE has dipped well below 50 percent, and Chrome (including native Android browsing) sits around 20 percent, with Apple products not too far behind? I'd even venture a guess that IE6 will still be gunning at 10 percent or more. Old habits -- and old proprietary systems -- die hard.

In all, a pretty good day. Even managed a short walk.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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A pretty good couple of days. As a matter of fact, I filled out a depression questionaire yesterday and scored a 3, which is an all-time low. (Of course, "all time" covers only the last two years, but I suspect that I would have scored somewhere in the teens or higher through most of the last couple of decades.)

To cap off the happiness, I got the pink slip for the Ford van in the mail yesterday -- apparently I'd made the last payment on it without noticing what I was doing. The extra $400-odd/month will come in handy. And I was surprised to find that my FSA carrier approved the new battery pack for Colleen's scooter.

I'm not used to feeling good. It's weird.

At work, of course, things aren't so happy-making. It's just that I'm pretty much a short-timer now (going back to research at First Customer Ship, which is sometime around the end of July if all goes reasonably well) and can smile at the insanity without getting sucked into it.

Tuesday I did get sucked in for an hour, wasting my lunchtime listening to a coworker griping about the instability of the server software he's trying to test against. Sorry, L; that's part of the system you're testing. It's not done yet; that's part of why you're testing it.

But I do it myself. A lot. It's easier and more satisfying to complain that things don't work the way I want them to, than to figure out a way to either fix them or work around the breakage.

Dr. Rogers pointed out to me that there's a difference between a communication problem, and an agreement problem (where both parties understand what's being discussed, but disagree about some aspect of it). One can continue to work on a communication problem as long as the channel is still open (e.g. due to emotions); an agreement problem is best walked away from until some new piece of information can be introduced into the discussion.

Here's another interesting one: It seems that one reason I have a tendency to talk over people in a conversation is that I think of something to say, there's a pause, and then someone else starts talking before I say whatever it was but after I've decided to say it. Race condition, in other words, brought on by the fact that I can't listen while I'm thinking about what to say. I also have a lot of trouble figuring out when somebody is done talking. There must be a cue I'm not getting.

A few good links up there; since there a lot of conventions this weekend, Networking 201: How to work a room and How to Hang Out in the Bar with Writers at a Convention seem highly appropriate.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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A pretty good day. OK, a good day -- any day that starts out with Atheist Barbie and ends with an hour or so of heavy snuggling is going to be a good one, even if it does involve paying $2700 to ransom my car in the middle.

Went to the Baycon barbecue at Michael and Ali's; tasty food (expected) and some good conversations (not really expected, but delightful). I seem to do a better job of meeting people if I go someplace without somebody I'm close to. Otherwise I'll just stick close to the people I know.

I also confirmed that I don't do well in a conversation with two or more people (unless they make a serious effort to include me, which didn't happen this time and is pretty rare in general).

Links include Wikipedia articles on Canola, rapeseed, and Olive oil, which made interesting reading. There appears to be no good evidence that canola is unhealthy, despite The Great Con-ola which I linked to a couple of days ago. Also see snopes.com: Canola Oil and Rape Seed.

It's easy for me to get lost in Wikipedia.

mdlbear: (e8)

I don't have nearly as much anxiety as I once thought I did. I avoid things like phone calls and going to the fitness center at work much more out of procrastination or unfamiarity than out of anxiety. (When it's something unfamiliar, like a new kind of business call, there's often a lot of anxiety just before doing it, but once it's familiar it's just like anything else that I avoid for no particular reason.)

I don't seem to qualify for social anxiety. Starting a conversation with a stranger doesn't make me panic, or even scare me a little. I just don't do it in many cases, for one excuse or another. I wonder if there's such a thing as "social procrastination"?

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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A good (very good?) day. OK, very good. It started with two huge, looming problems for me to beat myself up over, and ended with both problems happily resolved, and watching what's been called the best performance ever on Olympic ice, with Colleen and Naomi, followed by loverly snuggle.

The first problem was having signed for the hospital beds back on Wednesday without counting boxes. What was I thinking? Nevertheless, the seller (contacted via Amazon's online email form) found the mattresses in about an hour. They should be arriving today. Whew!

The second was that the backlight on the XO I'd given to Naomi to give to her daughter on her sixth birthday appeared to be turning off at roughly 10-minute intervals. That turned out to be the kid accidentally hitting the backlight-control keys, without knowing what they were! I'm particularly thrilled that the kid figured it out herself. Geek-grrl in the making?

Note to self: you have no future in online tech support. None.

And the women's figure skating was spectacular. Wow.

All's well that ends better? I'll take it. Links under the cut, as usual.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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On the whole an "ok" day -- my mood stayed mostly positive. And I did something that I've been avoiding for maybe six months, and called Alhambra to ask for a refund of some of the $1500 payment I sent to them instead of to Amex (the two lines are, of course, adjacent on my bank's payment page). The rep was very pleasant; I have no idea why I'd been avoiding it, except that it was something I'd never done before. Did I mention that I'm not very adventurous?

I also pointed RDNA.ORG's nameservers at Yahoo so that the person who has a wonderful Reformed Druid site on Geocities can move it to a more appropriate location. That was another thing I'd been putting off a little too long.

I have yet to think of a good way of rewarding myself for doing the hard things on my to.do list, aside from patting myself on the back here in LJ.

I started reading The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron. It's been something of a revelation. A year or so ago I wouldn't even have thought of classifying myself as "sensitive". But I scored 20 on the self test, where 12 is the threshold. Some of the questions were iffy, but a 33% margin doesn't leave much room for doubt.

And thanks to [livejournal.com profile] cflute's data-mining skills, I have a new pair of Keen brooklyn mid boots on order.

So, yeah; a pretty good day, now that I think about it.

A few more links up there in the notes.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I was suddenly reminded, while doing the dishes of all things, that I get an odd sort of pleasure out of watching other people work. Not because they're working and I'm not, but because I like seeing how other people do the same kinds of tasks that I do. Sometimes I end up liking my way better; sometimes I decide to change.

I was reminded of this because I'd observed [livejournal.com profile] cflute washing a pan by dribbling a little soap on it and then attacking it with a sponge. I do the opposite, putting the soap on the sponge first. It was from C, also, that I rediscovered how much better bacon is when you fry it rather than microwaving it.

In the other direction, I remember how surprised [livejournal.com profile] jenkitty was to learn that I scramble eggs in the pan instead of in a bowl. I enjoy hanging around, chatting and occasionally helping, while people in a household I'm visiting go about their daily chores. I don't think this is weird, but I suppose it might be. I don't get out much.

Anyone else? Actually, I expect this is pretty common, especially among geeks. Is there anyone out there who doesn't like to see how other people do things? Or who prefers to be left alone while they're doing chores?

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I had a fascinating conversation with a couple of coworkers this morning about avoiding the phone. R. described herself as "phone phobic", and it brought home the fact that it isn't a phobia at all. There's no fear involved; one simply... doesn't make calls. As R. said later, one simply doesn't think about it except at times when it's impossible to make the call. Or, as K. said, it's something you can do any time, so there's never a pressing reason to do it now, and there's always something else more urgent/desirable/easy/fun to do.

So what is it?

Maybe it's just that it reminds me of or requires me to think about things that make me uncomfortable. That seems to be generally true of things I avoid. It's not just the phone: taxes, anything involving paperwork or finances -- my finances are a trainwreck and I really don't want to think about that. But phone calls? I can see being uncomfortable with calling my broker on some financial matter, but Callie?! What's making me uncomfortable about that?

Maybe it's the whole "I don't want to interrupt anything; I'm not important; why would anybody want to talk to me?" thing. Low self-esteem. That's this month's whipping boy.

Or maybe there is some fear down there -- I already know that I'm not in touch with my feelings. But fear of what? It doesn't made sense.

Of course, if it made sense, it wouldn't be an irrational behavior, would it?

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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I see that not a whole lot got done yesterday, but it was moderately productive for all that. I booked our hotel room for Conflikt, bought a neck-roll pillow for Colleen (she wanted to steal mine, so I had to), and had two "aha" moments.

The first insight was realizing that I've been avoiding the (free to building tenants) health club in the building where I've been working for the last 17 years because "I know I'd hate it". Just how do I know that, when the last time I saw the inside of a gym was 35 years ago? Right. I should pay for a session with a trainer and get checked out on the equipment.

The second was realizing that having trouble meeting and getting to know people is a common problem. The reason why it doesn't seem to afflict many of the people I've spoken to about it is that the set of people willing to talk with me at that level of intimacy is a small, self-selected, biased sample.

And Colleen figured out how to make gluten-free bread pudding, using gluten-free stuffing mix, eggnog, and an extra egg. How cool is that?

I didn't sleep very well Tuesday night, and started flaking out around 10pm. Finally gave it up, took a cyclobenzaprine, and went splat somewhere around 11.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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I didn't take a walk yesterday; that probably explains the restlessness, though [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi was quick to suggest that what I really needed was a trip to Seattle. I really need a teleport, is what.

Several phone calls: I called Mom, Colleen called Callie and passed the phone to me after a while, and Callie called asking for help setting up the wireless router I'd sent up. I realized that I've probably learned a great deal through not asking people for help, but on the other hand I didn't learn to ask for help when I really need it. On the gripping hand, I'm slowly acquiring that skill now, but it's harder than it would have been forty years ago.

I was mortified to realize, on checking my history, that I hadn't booked our hotel rooms for Loscon yet. (I did it this morning.)

Spent some time looking at travel wallets and filing receipts.

 

Today's hot links are the Finding Free eBooks blog, and Musician Making A Living With Forty Committed True Fans at techdirt.

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Hugs make me happy! That may not sound like much, but for someone who's been mildly depressed as long as I can remember, and can't think of anything I can do that makes me happy, that's a major discovery. Whimsy makes me smile, too. Snuggle makes me feel loved, and loving, and contented.

I'm gradually learning that even little things that are a little bit pleasant can raise my mood, bit by bit. I realized, as I was getting ready for my bath, that I expected it to be pleasant. And it was. That's new. I'm starting to learn that things that feel good are good for me even if they don't make me "happy" but only relaxed and contented.

I realized that things like programming, writing, and performing, where I'm in a state of flow while I'm doing them, give me a pleasant feeling of accomplishment afterward. I don't need to think of them as just a way to escape from my feelings.

... and I spent some time in the afternoon helping a friend understand herself and her fear better, and reminded her of what courage really is.

I can be eloquent when I'm trying to be convincing: "Both paths are painfully steep; go with the one that leads up-hill." "Remember, courage consists of pushing through in spite of your fears. You're scared, but you're going out shopping this afternoon because you know that the fear is transient, and the love and happiness will still be there when it's gone."

I'll have to be very careful, though; words can hurt as well as heal, and sometimes the word that seems most accurate at the time can bring up a lot of unwanted associations and cause unintended pain. Deeply regretting my words is all very well, but it doesn't undo the damage.

I've often tried to explain to Colleen, and occasionally to other people, that, no, I wasn't making an accusation, I was just trying to describe the situation. Maybe I need to pay attention, take a couple of deep breaths, and take the time to choose my words more carefully. I'm a songwriter -- I ought to be able to find words that get the point across without causing damage in the process.

A good day. Sometimes a little uncomfortable, but worthwhile.

 

Today's link sausage includes Wikipedia articles on positive psychology and flow, a program that composes images from sketches, the FSF's brief explaining why software patents are bad, Sanyo eneloop rechargeable batteries, and this fascinating list of possibly pleasant things to do.

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I slept very well the first night back from ConChord -- my own bed? good pillows? total exhaustion? the glass of gin? Who knows? I'll take it.

I bought a nice, handmade 10" djembe at Guitar Showcase's consignment shop after my therapy appointment. Heavier than the dumbek, but sounds better. Only $75.

I was moderately productive, although work was more than a little frustrating. Git doesn't do too well in a machine with limited memory, it turns out.

Sent in my membership for OVFF.

I found myself walking rather slowly and awkwardly, almost as if I had back pain. I didn't feel any, but took it easy anyway.

I was having some kind of weird communication problem with the YD; everything I said seemed to upset her, and she flew into a tizzy when I tried, several times, to explain something she'd misunderstood in a recipe. It was confusing -- I'm not surprised she didn't get it; it took me a couple of readings. But why flap her arms and yell? She said "you wouldn't understand" when I asked her to explain. Teenager?

It took me a long time to fall asleep, as usual.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I explain myself a lot. Too much for some people, Colleen among them. I realized that I'm so used to having my words and actions misunderstood, after decades of it, that I have an uncontrollable need to keep explaining until I get a response that indicates that the other person has, in fact, understood what I said or did.

Which would be a great idea, if the normal person's reaction wasn't to get angry and stop paying attention because, to them, I'm either repeating myself endlessly, or contradicting them.

... and in a somewhat different direction, yes, I did catch myself apologizing for a miscommunication between Emmy and Colleen. Possibly because I kept trying to ask questions that were intended to fill in the gaps, and they both kept brushing me off.

They really are, when you think about it, parts of the same problem. I can easily see the gaps in other people's logic (I'm not taking about my own logic, you'll note -- it's always easier to debug someone else's code than one's own), and they barge ahead anyway, either not noticing or not caring, and thinking they can easily fill in the gap with what they're quite certain the other person was trying to say.

I'm a lot less tolerant of uncertainty and ambiguity than most people seem to be.

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A very uneventful and mostly unproductive day. Yeah, I know I need a little down time, and I did get about a foot or so of books moved into the bedroom, but still...

Odd walk to the Rose Garden, with a couple of poorly-explained slowdowns. There were people's lawns that I'd never noticed before, or at least don't remember noticing; I must have been at least a little bit in the moment. I sat for a while by the fountain, observing but not really meditating.

Thought about calling a friend, but didn't. Slightly tense; a little down.

Made dinner by microwaving some packaged, frozen chili verde: the fact that it came out significantly better than what we'd had a Chevy's on Thursday was pretty sad, but not unexpected. I decided not to have seconds, which is rare. Go me! (I'm having the leftovers for breakfast.)

Since I'd noticed it while shuttling books I decided to read Julius Fast's Body Language. Some of the cultural differences, from having been written by a male, white East Coast resident in 1970, were a little jarring. And I don't think it was particularly helpful, though I did get one useful insight out of it:

Colleen and I usually sit next to one another, facing in the same direction, but close enough to hold hands with a little reaching. Some of our communication difficulties may come from the fact that she's often not looking at me when she wants to start or continue a conversation, so she has no way of knowing whether she actually has my attention. We're both getting a lot better about this, though.

Mostly what I got from Body Language, though, was that the subject is still poorly-understood even by experts, and that there are a lot of signals I never learned when most people do, and will probably never take the time and effort to learn now. I may be able to pick up a few by observation now that I know what to look for. Maybe.

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It's not clear how productive one can be after a night when both of us were awake from 3am to 5am. Not particularly; I only got about half of my list done.

On the other hand, I didn't have to do it all, for once - the fabulous [livejournal.com profile] moshez volunteered to do the data-entry for Colleen's address book!

And I had a fairly productive walk by Los Gatos Creek, in spite of a feeling of non-specific anxiety (which I'm still feeling) and feeling rather out-of-shape and tired. OK, just noticing these things is something of an accomplishment for me.

In any case, I decided to post a link to, and current status of, my Caregiver's Wish List on "Wishful Wednesdays". I thought about doing a web-based demo "album", and realized (thanks to some old email I ran across) that I'd decided back in March that the best thing to do was to move thestarport.* off of my old ISP at rahul.net.

I bought, and set up, a nice little laptop desk (obtained at Longs/CVS for only $15). It's in the living room; it has the advantage of being quite small, so it's not going to get used for anything but the laptop. I bought the YD's bus pass for September. And I processed and uploaded the audio files from last week's Tempered Glass practice sessions.

I also noticed, when I got home, that "something was wrong", so I made sure that I had put everything down and gotten comfortably seated before allowing everyone to dump on me. (As it turned out it was nothing more than a Mess that the YD hadn't cleaned up. But still...)

So far my "homecoming ritual" seems to consist of hanging up my shoulder bag, taking off my glasses, and sitting down in the living room. Probably not quite enough.

The Link Sausage for the day consists of this excellent post on communication protocols in a marriage by [livejournal.com profile] phoenixpdx, and Twitter Guide For Writers (Part 1) by [livejournal.com profile] ohiblather.

For some reason my right hand has been hurting a lot. Possibly arthritis or tendonitis. Or it could be more stress/anxiety. It seems to be going around.

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Mostly a work-from-home day, though I was able to squeeze in a very productive couple of hours at the lab between taking my car in for service and Colleen's follow-up appointment with her surgeon. At the former, I found out that my warranty will save me roughly a grand on repair to the windows, but that the parts aren't in stock. I think maybe I'll leave the car there, since the warranty expires in 500 miles. At the latter, we found that Colleen needs to see a gyneco-urologist to evaluate her bladder problems, which means more delay.

The big breakthrough came on the drive home from Kaiser, when I caught myself saying "I'm sorry" in a context where I could figure out what it meant. It meant "I'm sorry I can't pay attention to you right now; I need to concentrate on what I'm doing." In other words, an attempt to forestall interruptions at a time when they would have been dangerous. Of course, it didn't mean that to Colleen; I'm going to have to come up with a different protocol. Possibly something like "Concentrating now...OK".

I use "I'm sorry" in far too many different contexts. Drives Colleen nuts, and with good reason. More protocol development needed.

I also realized that my habit of repeating short commands multiple times comes from dealing with the kids when they were younger. I'd say "stopstopstop!" for example, starting when I notice a problem and repeating until the kid actually stopped doing it.

I am having a lot of trouble explaining some things to Colleen, and it made for some friction yesterday. One is the idea of making a 90-degree turn while backing up her scooter. I think I may finally have gotten through to her on that one. The other is the reason why I ask questions multiple times. Mostly it happens when I can't usefully interpret the first answer. Often that's because I didn't finish asking the question, so I need to make very sure she understands what I intended to ask. It's stressful. Grump.

Colleen spent most of the evening being understandably unhappy about the lack of a quick fix from her Kaiser appointment, and I ended up feeling unhappy and distressed as well. "Contact low?"

I also noticed that I'd eaten too much, but still felt "hungry" in the sense of wanting to eat. I didn't; I brushed my teeth instead. But it may mean that there's something in my diet that I'm not getting enough of. Just have to figure out what.

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Pretty decent day, and pretty productive, though a whole lot of stuff still didn't get done. :( No walk.

The promised email from Dell still hadn't shown up, so I tried calling. No love to Dell's customer service. They call it "customer care", but it doesn't.

10 minutes of meditation, which was calming but generated no insights. Minor argument with Colleen about telling me things. She tried several times, apparently, to tell me that the YD was using her sister's room as a playroom but would clean it up for guests, but then gave up because I wasn't paying attention. When it's important, I really need her to keep trying, but apparently it's hard for her to determine when I'm sufficiently not-busy to be paying attention.

Hint: if we're in the same room, I'm looking at you, and not reading or engaged in some task, I'm probably paying attention to what you're saying. Otherwise all bets are off. Saying "Steve, I have something to say to you" will probably work best to get my attention -- I may not hear the whole phrase, but I'll probably catch my name and a few keywords. But wait until you can see I'm listening before you go on.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I've mentioned verbal tags or keywords before; "snapdragon" and "Basingstoke" for example. Another one, a little more recent, is "meow". (Colleen is also known as the Cheshire Cat -- it fits.)

"Meow" basically means "come over here and hug me or kiss me as soon as you have a chance." It's something that Colleen can say any time, in any company, without being embarrassed and without embarrassing me. Useful.

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I do NOT like this "getting enough sleep" business. I'm not getting enough done.

I rarely remember dreams; this one must have come in just as I was waking up. Colleen was trying to give me detailed directions on making a fruit salad, only the details didn't make sense, like putting aluminum foil on the stove and using it as a cutting board. Very weird. The more general insight I got out of it is that it's better to tell someone what needs to be done, and let them figure out how to do it, and ask questions if they get stuck.

The high point, really, was finding out that Colleen used the toilet in the back bathroom (which I'd installed grab rails on over the weekend) rather than the commode. Major win.

Link of the day is this paper on copyfraud -- claiming copyright over material in the public domain.

I upgraded my work desktop to Lenny, finally. When I left yesterday it was only semi-usable, but I would have missed an appointment if I'd stayed to fix the ssh host keys.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Recently I was asked the question, "what do you do that makes you happy?" I found it surprisingly hard to answer at the time. I realized that many of the things I like to do are things that require concentration. They make me focus my attention on the activity, and leave no room for emotions or thoughts about emotions. They're very calming, and often involve a light trance.

Reading is the best example: when I'm reading, the rest of the world goes away. I go away, leaving little besides a calm point of view. Programming and writing are other examples. So are singing and listening to music. So, most of the time, is conversation: I'm focussed either on the person I'm with, which is similar to reading, or on what I'm going to say next, which is more like writing. (This may explain in part why I'm easily derailed when I'm talking or about to talk -- I'm much more distractable when I'm writing than when I'm reading. It's also probably why I get distracted while I'm singing.)

Notice the pattern? These are all verbal. I may get a great sense of satisfaction after I do them, if I do it well, but I don't feel much while I'm in the moment, in the activity.

Over the last week or so I've been realizing that there's another category of things I can do, that do make me happy while I'm doing them. The best example is hugging. Lately I've not only been hugging more people and hugging more tightly, I've been noticing that I'm enjoying it. That's major.

I've also noticed that I enjoy other kinds of contact: cuddling and holding hands. Sex not so much; it seems to involve more concentration and a certain amount of anxiety. The silences in a deep conversation. I'm comfortable with silence, if the other person is.

Walking and driving are oddities: they leave me enough mental space for a conversation. So if I'm walking or driving with someone beside me, I'll be happy when we're together but not talking, and will have a split focus while one of us is talking. I think this is the only kind of multitasking I've ever been capable of. When I'm by myself, I may notice I'm happy, but only if I'm not doing anything verbal like thinking or listening to music. I turn the radio off in the car these days, and don't use an MP3 player.

I discovered last night that noodling on the guitar falls into this category. It does make me happy if I'm not singing or trying to learn the chords of a song, and I can even carry on a conversation to about the same extent that I can in the car.

There are undoubtedly other things in this category: doing the dishes, cooking, woodworking, puttering about the house. I need to find something quiet and portable that I can do in my lap. Doodling works, I remember. Probably so would drawing, if I put in the months of practice it would take to get barely adequate at it.

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A very odd day. The morning was cold and grey and bleak, and I was worried about something I couldn't quite pin down, although a particular friend was much on my mind. I'll get back to that. Even a visit to Colleen, and seeing her standing (with mechanical assistance) for a few minutes didn't seem to lift my mood much.

I was still lonely and worried after the party shopping, but perked up when people started filtering in.

When the first guest came in the kids were still watching a DVD out in the living room, so I took her into the office for some quiet. I found that I was pretty comfortable doing that at other times as well, when a loud conversation was going on in the living room and interfering with the one-on-one I was engaged in.

Mid-afternoon I had a stray moment to read my email and found that the friend I'd been worried about had been having a temporary but alarming health problem in the morning (been taken care of -- ok now). Do I really have that much empathy, or was it just a coincidence? Probably the latter: my worries were mainly about a different aspect of my friend's life. I can see how one can easily start believing in ESP, but I remain skeptical. Memory is very selective.

The party really warmed up in the evening, and I had a good time. I noticed that I was much happier and more engaged than previously; other people noticed as well. Go me!!

I circulated more than usual, and used my computer a lot less. I also discovered, to my delight, that I can noodle on guitar and follow a conversation -- and even make brief comments -- at the same time. It's exactly the same kind of multitasking I do when I'm driving. Some of the chord progressions came out a little odd. I need to find something quiet that leaves me the same mental space.

I've always liked hugs, but I found that I was hugging more tightly and enjoying it more this time. More to the point, I noticed while I was hugging people that it made me happy. Um... OK then.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I may have occasionally mentioned that I don't seem to be very good at "small talk". (Note that I'm not talking about the programming language Smalltalk here; I can do that.)

Yeah, I know, it's yet another social skill I don't have, and have never been interested in acquiring. But it means that I have no way to hold up my end of a conversation once I run out of things I particularly wanted to say.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I'm beginning to wonder whether my (now-crumbling) assumption that I lack social skills is simply due to the fact that for most of my life I haven't been social with more than a very limited number of people.

And I think Colleen, who's one of the few people I do interact with socially and is in a position to give me valuable feedback, simply gave up long ago trying to reach me. (added 3/4) In any case, I don't get feedback or calibration from real people in a real social situation: I have no idea what I'm doing wrong, or what cues I'm missing.

I've always been shy, and afraid to interact much with people I don't know. I seem to have lost a lot of that fear in the last year or so, but not all of it, and the habits are still there.

My biggest problem may still be getting an interaction started. Starting a conversation with a stranger; making a phone call to anyone, joining a conversation in progress.

On the other hand I may just be too tired to make sense -- my brain is pretty seriously fried tonight.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
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I'm particularly pleased with my lunchtime call to [livejournal.com profile] cflute -- she had apparently been thinking of calling me later in the afternoon. Go me!

I'm a little surprised that it's taken me this long to figure out the chords to "Riverheart", but I'm happy enough with it now to be comfortable singing it at Consonance.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

This is largely a continuation of the discussion I started in Friendship and love a long while ago. You should probably go read it soon. It was getting long, had been in the queue for altogether too long, and I had a particular reason for posting it when I did. But it wasn't the end of the story by any means. This post has been in the queue even longer by now, and it looks as though there will still be more to say. But Valentine's Day seemed like a good excuse to finally post it.

Unlike F&L, which was mainly about the emotion of love and what the word means, this post is about talking about love, and in particular talking about it between friends. I don't have a whole lot of experience in this department -- in fact, I'm so far out of my depth that I can't touch bottom -- so if you have anything to add or to correct in this one, please do. It could probably also stand a thorough going-over to see whether I still believe anything I say in it. It won't get it.

So, is it love? Should we talk about it?

You know, if you have to ask either question, the answer is probably "yes." Well, if I have to ask either question--I don't know how it is for you.

The first one is pretty easy, at least with my definition of love as an emotional relationship worth taking seriously. If the question comes up at all, you're taking the relationship seriously enough to call it "love", at least to a first approximation. It probably won't come up unless one of you has recognized some of the symptoms of falling in love (the subject of a future post, perhaps). How do you refine that approximation? Ask your friend for help.

(As an aside, I think that missing your friend -- thinking about them when they're not around, wondering whether they'll call, feeling happy when they do -- is a good indication that that there's enough of an emotional connection to be worth at least talking about and clarifying.)

You'll notice I'm assuming that you are friends. If not, start by becoming friends, unless all you're looking for is a whirlwind romance that's likely to end quickly and perhaps painfully. I don't have any advice for you in that case.

The second one is even easier, especially if your friend has just started the conversation. You need to talk about it.

I'm also assuming that one of you is a geek.

I'm using "geek" here to mean someone a lot like me: someone not very in touch with their feelings. We geeks tend to be shy, inexperienced, and socially awkward, though there are exceptions and some of us hide a core of deep shyness under a veneer of superficial friendliness. We have trouble expressing ourselves in social situations and especially in relationships. We tend to be very analytical (as you can see), and prefer to overanalyze social situations rather than diving in and going on intuition. We either don't have much in the way of intuition, or don't trust it. We can't "read" other people, and have to rely on analysis again to figure out what the other person in a conversation is thinking or feeling. We don't understand people very well.

I could also have used the term "loner", as I did a few weeks months ago. Perhaps even "introvert". No matter. If you see yourself or your friend in that description, I'm talking to you.

If neither of you fits very much of this description, go for it, and have fun. I probably can't help you much except to say "be friends first." If you're in touch with your feelings but tend to have trouble expressing them, you can probably proceed as if you're a geek; that's pretty much where I am these days -- a recovering geek who's trying to figure out this whole "being human" thing.

The remaining three cases might be better analyzed by thinking about which end of the conversation you're on: are you a geek trying to talk to your friend about your love for them, or are you a non-geek trying to talk to a geek about your love for them? Or, in the third case, are you a geek with a friend who says they love you? Are you a geek in love, in love with a geek, or a loved geek?

We'll take those in reverse order, which also turns out to be in order of increasing difficulty. Did I mention that we geeks tend to be analytical?

Are you a loved geek?

This one is easy, because your friend has already done the hard part and started the conversation. You're loved. Cool!

Now you have to take a good look at your feelings, which isn't exactly easy, but let's face it: you've been given a broad hint about where to start looking. It may take a while to figure it out, but that's OK. The main things to remember are that you're friends, and friends like to talk to one another, and you're a geek, and geeks like to figure things out. It may be a very different conversation than you're used to, and a very different problem from any you've solved before. Nothing wrong with that.

It's not that simple, of course. This may be a completely new experience. Even if you've had people fall in love with you before it probably came out of nowhere, from someone you thought of as "just a good friend". You're going to have to totally re-think that relationship.

If the person who asked is not a geek -- and they probably aren't, considering -- this is probably as new and weird an experience for them as it is for you. Maybe weirder. They may not realize that you're totally unlike anyone they've ever fallen in love with before.

You need to recognize that they probably haven't thought it through -- they're going on intuition. They may be terribly disappointed if you don't immediately say that you love them back, or if where you'd like to see the relationship going is different from where they see it going.

Tough. This might take a while.

You're going to have to figure out what you mean by love. We geeks don't always have "falling in love" as a guide -- if you didn't hear bells and choirs of angels when your friend said "I love you", don't worry. I'd been married to Colleen for years before I had anything approximating that feeling.

I've also had the fascinating experience of falling in love without realizing it at first, and taking even longer to figure out just who I had fallen in love with. It's going to be hard for your friend to understand just how unsure you are of your feelings. Talk it over.

Are you in love with a geek?

(I'm assuming you're the non-geek in this conversation. Otherwise it reduces to the next case.)

If you're waiting for your geek to start the conversation, to say they love you, don't hold your breath. Seriously: even if they know they love you back, they're probably too shy to say anything. And they probably don't know. You may be dead certain that they love you, but they aren't likely to have even thought about it until you speak up.

Don't hint, either. They won't notice. They can't read people the way you can. You're going to have to be direct.

Bear in mind that this is probably going to be at least as weird an experience for you as it is for them. Maybe weirder -- it's entirely possible that your geek has had relationships with non-geeks before. You probably haven't.

If you're comfortable saying "I love you" to someone you've fallen in love with, you're probably used to getting an instant response: either a quick "Oh, I love you too!" or an equally quick and hopefully gentle rejection. You're probably not used to bafflement, stunned silence, or outright fear. You've probably never heard someone say "I have no idea what that means." Brace yourself.

The geek you've fallen in love with might well find that they love you without having "fallen in love" at all. Or they might not have any idea what love is -- the prevailing cultural myths and assumptions about love don't apply to them. Figuring it all out is going to take time. Maybe months. Maybe longer.

Hang on to your friendship. That's your lifeline, your connection. Work with your friend on figuring out what your relationship is, and where it wants to go. Don't get too hung up on whether you both call it "love" -- that's not the important thing. The important thing is to figure out what you both want. I'll get back to that.

Are you a geek in love?

If you have to start the conversation -- if you love your friend but they haven't said anything about loving you -- things may get a little complicated. Maybe not -- it's possible that they love you too, and simply were too shy to say so. In that case, the game's over: you both win. Keep talking.

(There are lots of reasons why your friend might not have said anything. Maybe they're a geek too, and simply hadn't noticed or hadn't thought about the possibility. Or maybe, especially if they're not a geek, you simply didn't fit the "person in love" pattern they're used to. They don't realize that the "falling in love" part may be optional for you, or that you've gotten good at hiding your emotions, sometimes even from yourself. But it doesn't matter: you're talking.)

It's also possible that your friend doesn't love you, or hadn't thought about the possibility, or simply has such a different idea of love that they can't wrap their head around your version. It's important to remember that, in that case, you still have your friendship. And what's more, you're talking about your friendship.

Of course, that means you have to start talking. That's the hard part. It's also the part of this discussion where I have the least experience.

My friend [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi occasionally speaks of "my habit of throwing my heart over a wall and jumping after it" -- and of sometimes having to haul it back by main force and worry about how many pieces got left behind. She's very shy, but she isn't a geek -- she knows where she wants her heart to go.

My own experience is more like having my heart dive off a cliff and wait at the bottom -- sometimes whimpering plaintively, sometimes making silly faces at me where I can't see it but everybody else can -- until I finally figure out where it went and summon the courage to dive after it. My main worry is whether I'll land on top of it and squash it flat.

Usually my friend throws me a rope; jumping off on my own would be scary. I think the biggest fear is whether saying something about love would damage the ongoing friendship. All I can say is that it probably wouldn't. It never has, when someone said it to me, or when I've said it to someone else.

Hmm. I think there's a lot to say here, but in the near-total absence of any recent experience, I'm probably not the one to be giving advice.

I do know this: you can't start exploring without starting the journey. If you don't start, you're always going to wonder where it would have taken you.

What do we talk about?

Mostly, you have to talk about what your relationship is, and where you want it to go, not what to call it.

Yes, one of you might feel more strongly connected than the other. One of you might even be willing to call that connection "love", while the other continues to insist that's it's merely deep friendship. One of you might have fallen in love, or noticed the symptoms, while the other hasn't even considered it as a possibility. Very likely, speaking from my own experience. But how can one really tell? Is it a difference of emotion, or of committment, or merely of personal terminology?

You have to ask questions like "What do you mean by {love, romance, friendship}?" "What do you want out of this relationship?" If you're starting the conversation, you should have at least preliminary answers ready.

Again, this is something that I have no recent experience with, though I can speculate. More later, perhaps.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Someone pointed out to me this evening that, although I say that I'm very afraid of being embarrassed, I don't seem to have any trouble talking about some moderately personal things, even with comparative strangers. So of course I had to think about what does embarrass me.

Mostly, it's making mistakes in a social context. I would be deeply embarrassed if I called someone by the wrong name, so it's easier for me to forget names. It's embarrassing when I have to ask someone their name, so I work around that too.

I don't mind talking about my own stupidity, as long as I get to mention it first. (I'm used to working with computers, after all.) Things that would embarrass me to hear someone else say are just part of my self-deprecating style of humor if I say them.

Still not sure how this relates to not making phone calls. That may be something completely different.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I think I must be able to read facial expressions better than I usually give myself credit for. I can recognize at least some emotions when I see them, at least enough to know that I have to ask for clarification.

I'm a lot worse at reading tone of voice. That probably has a lot to do with why I'm much more uncomfortable on the phone than I am with either text (which I can edit, and where I can take enough time to be very explicit about saying exactly what I mean) or face-to-face, (where I can get visual feedback and correct my mistakes immediately).

mdlbear: (audacity)

It happens pretty often when I'm driving in unfamiliar territory: I make a wrong turn, say something grumpy, and the first thing Colleen says to me is "don't panic" in a rather frightened voice. The next thing you know I'm shouting at her that I'm not in a panic, just frustrated, and she's shouting back or in tears. It's a feedback loop. She expects me to panic, and everything I say to assure her that I'm not only reinforces her belief that I am.

It happened again a couple of days ago: I was in the middle of a rather ticklish task amid both distractions and knee pain; I dropped something and... I'm not sure whether she actually said anything to try to calm me down, or just gave me a look that I interpreted as being upset. I tried to calm her down, which made her more upset, and I lost it. Feedback.

You've heard it in concerts: all of a sudden there's an intolerably loud whistling sound, and somebody yells "turn down the gain!". The sound guy turns a knob, and there's blessed silence again. If he's really good, and he really needs that gain, he'll adjust a notch filter to take out the one frequency in that room that's ringing.

Positive feedback (in the engineering sense -- they may be negative emotions, but the level increases and that's what makes it positive feedback) happens in any closed-loop system with a gain greater than one. The signal gets reinforced each time it goes around the loop, and all of a sudden you have an earsplitting shriek.

It doesn't take two people, of course. "I'm too nervous: I'm going to screw this up... See, my hands are shaking... Oh, shit!" But having two people in the loop almost inevitably brings up the question of who's responsible for it?

The correct answer is that it doesn't matter. You have a system with two amplifiers and positive gain: the only meaningful question to ask is which gain control is within reach, and how do you turn it. After that, if you need a little more gain, you ask who has the better-tuned filters.

If you have some magic phrase or agreed-on keyword like "calm down", or "safeword", or "Basingstoke" that you can use to get the other person to reduce their gain, use it. A hug, if possible in the situation, might calm both of you down. But in most cases, it's your own gain control that's within easy reach. Use that. What works for me is to take a deep breath, shut up!, and either put some more space between us or go on with whatever I was doing but calmly and without trying to say anything to make things better. Your mileage may vary.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

We both seem to be doing better today. Hard to say whether it's a lot better or only a little, but better nevertheless.

Worked from home all morning -- I can get through most of the email before breakfast and do a little writing -- and went out for a walk around 11:15. Called [livejournal.com profile] cflute and had a pleasant chat, made even more like a walk with a friend because I had my phone on loudspeaker. (I have to do that because otherwise it thinks there's a headset attached to it. But it works nicely in this case.)

Calie gave me a good suggestion: take an extra breath or two before saying anything when I'm interrupted or broken out of concentrating on something. Should help control my tone of voice and prevent the snapdragon effect.

Everything went smoothly with the disconnect; I had lunch and went in to work and actually got a little bit more done besides catching up with people. Came home to find the Cat in good humor after a successful shopping expedition (with Joyce driving) and good news from the lab and her nutritionist. She has a GI appointment Thursday, and it may actually be possible to schedule her surgery at that point.

In the afternoon I finally took the unfamiliar and scary step of requesting a psych appointment. (The person who makes appointments wasn't there, of course, but I left my info for a callback.)

Just got done "fixing her dinner", which has gotten to be a pretty smooth routine. Only thing I forgot this time was clamping the secondary port before removing the flush syringe; doing it in the wrong order apparently allows a little bit of blood to flow back into the line and clot. We had to go in last night and get them unclotted. :(

But it looks as though there's a little light at the end of the tunnel. (Do not cue old Vietnam-era joke. That's not funny.)

Coping?

Jan. 7th, 2009 10:00 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I seem to have considerably more cope today. Successfully disconnected Colleen by myself, with Selkit observing. We had a nurse here this evening; [livejournal.com profile] selkit did most of it, with me assisting and Marty observing and the nurse walking him through it. So I'll have help.

So I'll have a little more assistance than I expected; I'm not too worried about Colleen's care while I'm at Conflikt. And I have several offers of generic help from various friends. The problem there will be, not so much asking for help (which I have no experience at), as figuring out what help to ask for. I've never had to even think about it before.

I've also discovered that I deal very badly with distractions. Somebody was here when I was disconnecting Colleen this morning; I had to shush them several times. Colleen wanted to stay in the living room this evening; I had to force the conversation back on topic several times, and silence a few distractions. I don't like to do it, and I'm no damned good at doing it politely, but I simply can't work through crosstalk.

I'm going to be working from home most mornings, as I did this afternoon. It's difficult even with the office door shut, but I think it'll work. It'll have to -- I don't have the time or energy for a double commute.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I am, gradually, coming out of multiple decades of some combination of chronic mild depression, flattened affect, Asperger syndrome, ... I have never visited a psychiatrist and have no idea what to call it. In any case, I am slowly gaining the ability to both feel emotions and to respond to them in others. There are some skills I need, and don't have.

  • Mainly, right now, I need whatever will help me live with and help a person who has recently developed a chronic, life-altering disease. She needs all the help and emotional support she can get, and I'm currently unable to provide it or even to figure out what she needs. She is highly emotional, and has a lifelong hatred of the psychiatric profession that will probably make it impossible for her to get help in that direction herself.
  • Related to that but more generally, I need the ability to communicate with people who become upset (whether angry or tearful) easily, and are incapable of thinking or communicating rationally when in that condition.
  • Longer term, I need the ability to communicate with normal human beings on an emotional level: to read emotions in others and especially to make sure that the emotional message I'm sending matches what I'm feeling. I'm coming out of decades of unwittingly having my emotions and motives being completely misread by people close to me. This includes both the ability to recognize someone else's tone of voice and body language, and to control my own so that other people can understand it.
  • I need the correct vocabulary for talking about this kind of thing.
  • I need to know where to find the help I need, what it's called, and how to get it, preferably from my HMO, Kaiser. All I know for certain right now is that it's somewhere in the social sciences, but probably not psychiatry.

This post is primarily for my immediate reference when talking this morning to someone from Kaiser's psych department or whatever they call it, but suggestions from the audience are certainly welcome. I'm particularly interested not only in suggestions of where to find the training I need and how to ask for it, but of what other skills I need. I need to know the dimensions of this hole in my mind that I've only recently discovered.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

This one's about the languages of love. No, not the Romance languages, despite their suggestive name and the fact that both French and Italian lay claim to the appellation. I'm talking about The Five Love Languages -- Dr. Gary Chapman's hypothesis that

unhappiness in relationships is often due to the fact that we speak different love languages. Sometimes we don't understand our partner's requirements, or even our own. We all have a "love tank" that needs to be filled in order for us to express love to others, but there are different means by which our tank can be filled, and there are different ways that we can express love to others. Dr. Chapman's divides love languages into five categories: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

There's a good summary of the languages here on Chapman's website, but a much better way to assess yourself is to take this 20-question version, since it actually compares each language against the other and gives you numeric scores. I strongly suggest you and your spouse/partner/SO/sweetie both taking it, and discussing the results. I found mine (behind the cut) somewhat surprising -- I would have expected words to come out higher. For that matter, see if you can get your (older) kids to take it.

You see, love isn't about treating the other person the way you want to be treated, it's about treating them the way they need to be treated. Saying "I love you" in the language they understand best. I've written about this upstream, but this clarifies it a lot.

Mismatches in language can cause a lot of havoc. If your language is "gifts" but your partner's is "quality time", they may weep at an expensive present because you could have spent the money on an intimate dinner for two at their favorite restaurant. If "acts of service" is high on your list but low on theirs, they might not even notice all the little things you've done for them. They might be waiting for a good-night kiss or a simple "I love you".

So, query for the audience: Were your results surprising? Your partner's? Will knowing this make a difference?

I'll start: )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Managed to get in a bit of a walk; turned around when it started sprinkling. If I'd started a little before noon when I actually finished my lunch, I would have missed it.

Apparently my aversion to phones hasn't improved a whole lot. Unfamiliar people and unfamiliar tasks are still difficult -- in some cases next to impossible. And I still have trouble calling even people I know if I'm not reasonably sure they'll be unbusy and able to answer, or likely to call me back.

Post-song depression? Rainy-day blahs? The huge list of things I haven't done? Damned if I know.

See mood

Dec. 7th, 2008 10:03 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Got a rather sad and lonely call from Colleen this morning, wanting my summary of last night's outing with Joyce, and suggesting an expedition for this afternoon.

I damned near lost it, and I'm not entirely sure why. In particular, I slowed down, stammered, repeated myself, and was generally freaky; I hope I didn't upset her. In part I'm deeply worried about the whole impending home care situation, in part there was a lot of distracting background (TV) noise on her end, and in part I had made some other, though tentative, arrangements for the afternoon (music and conversation with Joyce) and had no idea how to tell her or how she'd react.

Plus, I'm worried about a friend.

Feeling nearly sick from worry, unfortunately, doesn't solve any problems.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I was surprised -- actually, shocked might be a better way of putting it -- when I realized was forced to admit last night that I actually do have an interpersonal skill that I seem to be good at and even comfortable with: talking with people, one-on-one. Mostly, I'm a good listener.

It's true that I sometimes presume to offer advice, or bring my analytical ability to bear on some problem that I usually don't know much more about than the person talking with me. And I can often offer an outsider's (or occasionally an alien's) perspective based on my observations of normal humans. But mostly I listen and nod sagely. And offer hugs, or even cuddles when they're asked for. Middle-sized bears are usually, if nothing else, comfortable to be around.

Not surprisingly, it was my "little sister" [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi who shattered my carefully-built self-image by making me realize that, in spite of my social awkwardness, my inability to meet people, my inability to notice or drop hints, to understand or control tone of voice or body language, I still seem to be able to carry on an intelligible conversation on subjects of interest to ordinary humans.

Not to mention geeks and musicians -- swapping songs or technical tidbits has always been easy for me.

The ability to talk about, and understand something about, such things as relationships, interpersonal dynamics, mental states, love, and friendship appears to be very new indeed. It still feels deeply weird to have people coming to me and talking about their relationships, and even weirder that they're finding my comments valuable. That's not something I'm used to yet, and I don't have much trust in anything I have to say on those subjects. You shouldn't either.

I think I've been a pretty good listener for a long time. I am, as I believe I've mentioned, shy, self-conscious, and socially inept -- that means that I find it difficult to actually say something except in answer to a question or in response to some remark that gives me an opening. So I spend a lot of time listening.

The only person I can recall who's recently accused me of not listening is Colleen, and that's because, in her personal vocabulary, "you're not listening" really seems to mean something more like "I don't think I got my point across; if you'd been listening you would have understood it and agreed with me." At which point she usually bursts into tears. It may also be because too often she doesn't have my full attention when she says something. You do have to get my attention: bears are easily distracted.

Colleen's firm belief that I'm not listening may also have come about because I seem to have lost the ability for a while couple of decades and she doesn't realize I have it back.

It wouldn't surprise me if it's what attracted her to me in the first place. I've said elsewhere that, for me, relationships are mainly about friendship, and friendship for me is mainly about talking to one another.

I've written upstream, under the title of Friendship and love, that the River is mostly about love and friendship. So, even more fundamentally, it must be about conversation.

Talk to me.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

"What can I do for you?" -- I used to ask Colleen that question rather often. She told me recently that it drove her crazy. She felt that she was being put on the spot; that I was fishing for some specific response. Really, all I wanted was to be helpful. But when I thought about it, I realized that I wouldn't like it either. Nobody wants to feel helpless or incompetent, even if they do have problems getting around. Maybe, especially if they have problems.

N. told me of a similar problem: she didn't want her lover wasting time and energy doing practical things for her, when what she really wanted wwas affectionate attention. Time together. Sometimes we loners have trouble remembering that our lovers would rather have us with them doing nothing, not off doing something for them somewhere else. It makes sense, when you phrase it that way.

I rarely ask Colleen what I can do for her anymore. I confine my practical questions to things like "Is there anything I can bring you as long as I'm up?", or "Would you like a cup of coffee?" as I'm pouring one for myself. Something that clearly would take little or no extra effort on my part, and would bring me close enough for a quick kiss or a hug after I've set down whatever she asked for. She shouldn't have to ask for those.

If I think the dishes need doing, I can do them while she's asleep.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

I believe I've mentioned that I don't do subtle. Whether sending or receiving -- I'm no good at recognizing hints, and even worse at hinting. In an IM conversation last night I had the vague feeling that the other person wanted to flirt with me, but I had no idea how to confirm it. No idea what I could possibly say in response that would indicate a willingness on my part to continue.

Instead, my mind veered off in largely irrelevant and in some cases potentially dangerous directions; it was an hour before I decided it was worth asking for calibration. Which prompted a more serious discussion, at the end of which I realized that, even on those rare occasions when I can recognize that I'm being flirted with, I don't know what to do about it.

Sometimes, to be sure, someone feeds me a straight line with an obvious response, and in that case I can usually be counted on to make it. But I still don't know where to go from there. As is usual in dealing with humans, flirtation seems to be a foreign language that I have little talent for and would be too embarrassed to practice in public.

I don't mind the fact that my response to some flirtatious remark is likely to send things off into a deeper conversation -- I like deep conversations, and know how to handle myself in them. To strain a metaphor, I don't mind diving into deep water; it's hitting the rocks on a too-shallow bottom that I worry about. How does one keep the conversation shallow and playful?

I don't mind things getting silly, either, though I tend to be overly serious, and my brand of humor tends toward dry, wry, and often self-deprecating. I might be able to be silly. The thing I worry about is going in the other other direction -- saying something unintentionally offensive or hurtful or inappropriate, or simply stupid.

(Hmm. This is a tricky one to phrase. I've mentioned before that I have very few limits on how deep a conversation or a relationship can go. Even when I know that someone is not available and/or not interested, how do I avoid damaging a valuable friendship by exposing the fact that I might be happy to fall madly in bed with them if they were? That's a topic that probably needs a separate discussion; I've been close to stepping over that line, or maybe stepped well over it without even noticing, a couple of times in other situations.)

The whole thing seems to rely on being able to walk along some invisible line that only humans can see.

Still, it sounds like fun. I'd be open to giving it a try, provided I could be reasonably certain that the other party wouldn't mind the occasional digression into linguistic, psychological or interpersonal meta-analysis. That's probably asking too much on either side.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Over the course of the last couple of mornings I've finally finished fixing my toolchain software, and in particular the rather misnamed album.make, to handle multiple named sessions (concerts, for example) in a single directory. There are, needless to say, a few bugs left, but I should have split copies of [livejournal.com profile] cflute's and [livejournal.com profile] tibicina's concerts at ConChord by sometime this weekend.

My attempt to upgrade Matrix, the ancient Thinkpad that I've been using as the living-room browsing machine, to Lenny ended with no X and a mysterious hang. Considering its age and condition, I'm going to give up and either drop back to Etch, intall Puppy, or, more likely, give it an honorable burial in the attic. Harmony or one of the mini-ITX systems will work fine. I'll start with Dantooine, currently the bedroom computer, because Colleen won't be needing it for the next month or so. I'll have to come up with something to put it on.

Some good phone conversations: [livejournal.com profile] cflute on Tuesday, [livejournal.com profile] joecoustic today, and of course multiple conversations with Colleen. Still not as good as I'd like to be at originating calls -- it's all too easy for me to procrastinate them.

I slept fairly well last night, but woke up about 5:30 with a somewhat sore throat and the impression that I'd forgotten my facehugger. That or woken up, taken it off, and gone back to sleep. *sigh* I really resent the time I spend sleeping. Especially when I don't have anyone to sleep with. That's what I miss the most.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Colleen and I went for a nice long drive yesterday; around the long loop up the coast and home through Half Moon Bay. It was mostly good, but some disturbing things came up toward the end and I'm afraid my mood crashed pretty badly. Yes, my baseline mood has improved recently (Colleen confirms it, and ordered me in no uncertain terms to stay away from gluten from now on). But the amplitude and frequency of the swings has also increased considerably.

This will be briefer than I would have liked; details have already started to fade. But some of it is very important, at least for me.

Somehow, probably in response to me asking her to clarify something, we got back on the subject of my attempts to get her to answer questions when I didn'tunderstand or didn't hear the original answer. She blew up at me. You may remember a post upstream titled Why I asked. Yeah, that again. Plus something that triggered memories of last March and April when she feared she was losing me (which I've touched on under the title of The Silicon Mistress). And didn't believe me when I said she wasn't, because she was paying more attention to my attitude than to my words.

The combination sent me into a tailspin, wondering whether our relationship had deteriorated to the point where she no longer wanted to talk with me about it. From further conversation, I don't think so. I hope not. She also came up with a fascinating bit of information. It raises more questions than it answers, unfortunately.

She was under psychoanalysis for years, from a very young age; it left her with a lifelong hatred for and distrust of the whole profession. It hasn't stopped us from getting the kids help when they needed it, but she reacted vehemently when I asked whether we would benefit from counseling. I wouldn't know -- I've never done it.

But apparently my way of asking questions, multiple times with different wordings to try to come to an understanding of what she said, sounds to her exactly like what a shrink does. No wonder she rejects it.

Question: what in Hell can I do about this? I can't stop asking her for clarification: if it was important enough for her to say something to me, it's important for me to understand it. Is there a way of asking for clarification that doesn't make me sound like I'm trying to psychoanalyze her?

Public service announcement #1: When I ask you a question I am not trying to psychoanalyze you. Nor am I trying to see whether you know something, the way I would with a kid drilling for a test. I'm just trying to get an answer. When I ask a question it's because you know the answer and I don't. If I ask again in different words, it's because I didn't understand the first answer, or because it sounded like the answer to a question I didn't ask. If I paraphrase your answer and ask you to confirm it, it's because I want to make damned sure I understood what you said, because it seemed to be important.

Public service announcement #2: Please listen. I will usually tell you why I am seemingly asking a question again. If I do, I mean exactly what I say. Please listen to the exact words of the question, too. Don't respond with the answer to the question you think I was going to ask: it will only confuse both of us.

I don't know how I can make this more clear. Suggestions welcome.

mdlbear: portrait of me holding a guitar, by Kelly Freas (freas)

This is a follow-up to my upstream posts Tres Gique: Weekend of Win and Tres Gique: Weekend Wrap-up, this time from the point of view of the River posts.

A weekend is barely enough time for catching up with a friend. Fill it with 8 hours of rehearsal, a couple hours of commute time, lunch and snack breaks, and add the fact that [livejournal.com profile] cflute is not only my good friend but Colleen's. I got plenty of time with Callie, but most of that time was busy and tightly focussed. All the one-on-one time was spent in my car, and while I can talk and drive, I can't concentrate as much as I like to do when I'm talking with a friend.

Colleen, of course, got even less time -- she'd wanted to at least do a little recreational shopping. Schedules permitting, we'll have to try tacking an extra day onto the next visit.

 

Colleen ended up feeling excluded, even though she excluded herself because she knows that listening to us rehearse would drive her crazy. And because she knows that if she's around we'll be trying to entertain her -- perform for her -- rather than working on the hard parts in a way that would be excruciating for someone who listens to music purely for pleasure.

Next time we'll have streaming audio, probably using icecast, with a text backchannel probably using either IRC or Jabber. That will mean that remote participants like Colleen and [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi can be flies on the wall if they want to, and drop out quietly if they're bored.

Having Colleen cater lunch on Saturday was highly successful. Next time we'll have her come in with a snack on Sunday as well, which will hopefully make her feel even more connected and give her a chance to say goodbye to Callie, and sit in on our last session if she wants to.

 

We had a different set of problems with [livejournal.com profile] pocketnaomi, who wanted to be included even though she was stuck up in Seattle. Our initial attempt on Saturday, using a cell phone, was disastrous: Callie interpreted N's saying that the sound quality was barely tolerable as meaning that she didn't want to continue listening. The result was a very upset PocketPerson on the other end of the line, especially since Callie and I turned our cell phones off at that point.

Sunday we set up Skype on my laptop, which was much better, especially after we turned off the video. We used IM (to Callie's laptop) as the backchannel. Naomi told me the next day that

I'm quite happy communicating to you in text while being able to hear you but not be heard. It means if I need to deal with the kids or ask someone a question or rustle the pages of my book, I'm not interfering.

The only glitch came when we took a break, and both of our laptops timed out and dropped the connections. Leaving an upset PocketPerson on the other end of the line again. This time, fortunately, we were able to recover quickly and almost gracefully.

The lessons for next time )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Note: stress, anxiety, hunger, dehydration, and sleep deprivation are a hypergolic mixture. Handle with extreme caution.

Note: There are comparatively few things that can cause a full-scale Mandelbear melt-down, complete with gibbering apologies, silent, dry-eyed sobbing and a deep desire to simultaneously curl up in a ball, storm out of the room, and drop through the floor. Being told by an angry Colleen that I have hurt her without even knowing it -- totally failed at this "being human" thing -- is one of them.

Note for next time: take a big drink of something cold and wet, have a very quick dinner, put any unexpected guests in the care of the kids, and retire to the bedroom with Colleen and two glasses of something alcoholic for an hour of snuggle and catching up.

OK; I'll unpack that.

On the way home from the airport we had some silly argument over caller ID and our cell phones. I should know better than to try to explain something like that to somebody who clearly doesn't care about the technical details, but I was tired enough for it to have seemed important at the time.

The anxiety and stress part was mostly over Colleen's not having heard back about her ultrasound. We were both hungry; I was sleep-dep'd from the con and stressed from travel.

I thought we'd talked enough about the con, at least for a while; there were unexpected guests in the house -- at least, I hadn't been expecting them -- and Colleen didn't want to embarass me in front of them by telling me to stop paying attention to my LJ and pay some attention to her.

Public Service Announcement: It may conceivably embarass me a little to be reminded to pay attention to my wife, but I'm a bear of very little brain, and an occasional whack from a cluebat doesn't hurt. Something along the lines of "stop hanging out with your silicon mistress and talk to me" would work fine. Or, "kiss me now, you idiot!"

As I've said several times, I don't do subtle.

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