Another Thing I'm Loathing About Dating...

I'm getting really annoyed at random people who, pretty much instantly want to go out for drinks.

Much of this comes down to time/money calculations. Even if someone comes out to where I am, drinks (in the plural) will probably run around $20 by the time two $7 glasses of wine and a tip are factored in. They will also take at least 2 hours of my life.

If I go into Seattle, we're looking at $30-$50 ($10 in bridge tolls, $20 for drinks, $10-$20 for parking, if I can't find it for free - which is often). We're also looking at 3-4 hours out of my very busy life.

If we add dinner into it, throw in at least another $20-$30.


Now I get it, I get it, people need to meet at some point. But...when we're looking at a minimum $20, 2 hour investment (and remember, that it only goes UP from there - $100 and 4 hours is not unheard of), I want *some* assurance that I'm not completely and totally wasting my investment. Yes, this may be an  hour or so of discussing interests beforehand, seeing if there's mental chemistry, etc. (To be  honest, if there is no mental chemistry, nothing will happen on the date. NOTHING. Now I'm perfectly happy to end up as just friends if we're not wanting to rip each other's clothes off - in fact, I'm pretty happy with that outcome. But if we can't carry on a conversation about something other than the weather, skiing, or hiking, I'm not being friends with someone and I'm not sleeping with them, either, no matter how cute they are. I have needs. These needs include mutual interests.)

Really, my favorite tactic at this point is just to insist that they come out to me (and only meet for drinks) so at least it's at the lowest point of the dating scale. But...I can see why this tips things to the higher end of the scale for someone in Seattle (although parking is free here, so sympathy is low). Still, there's a sense that if $10 in bridge tolls isn't worth it to someone, then why should it be worth it to me?

Ugh, I freaking hate these mental calculations. But...if all I wanted to do with my life was date, I STILL couldn't go out on as many as are I suppose I might as well be like, "Yeah, sure, I'll do drinks. But only if you come out for me. Also, is herbal tea okay? I bet I could get that down under $5...and, even with hair and make up, keep the time commitment down to around 2 hours."

Hanoi - What A Crazy, Chaotic Ride

The history of Vietnam can be seen in the languages used. There is classical Chinese, from the thousand years in which China occupied Vietnam, on the temples and monuments. Then there are signs in French, from when Vietnam was part of Indochine...then English, I suppose, to represent America's disastrous foray into supporting the South Vietnamese (well, their regime, anyway). Then, of course, there's Vietnamese everywhere, perhaps demonstrating that the Vietnamese at last have soveignerity over their land...or maybe not. English, French, and Mandarin are still widely used, although in the modern sense, it's to cater to tourists. (The new conquerors? Ugh...I prefer not to think that.)

(A classic Vietnamese temple. The writing, of course, is in Chinese.)

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The Li River

The best and the worst thing about traveling in China are the Chinese tourists. Since China does not heavily market to foreigners, foreign tourists are rare in China. But if you find a scenic location, it is generally swarmed by internal tourists, who run around taking pictures, chattering, and going on hilarious tours where they all wear matching t-shirts and follow someone following a flag. Like all other tourists, Chinese tourists take what would otherwise be serene, scenic locations, and turn them into zoos. Inevitable, I suppose. I'm part of the problem.

But then, the presence of other tourists tends to mean that there are ammenities in touristy locations, such as food, bathrooms, bottled water, and transportation. These are good things. Also, while I have approximately nothing in common with a Chinese peasant, my life is not that different from a Chinese middle class professional from a major city and it can be interesting to talk to them about the similarities and differences in the places where we live.

The Li river is a major tourist destination. It has inspired countless classical paintings...

(As well as some modern ones, such as those being done by this group of painters.)

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Hiking in Hong Kong Part One - Tap Mun

Every time I'm asked what I like doing most in Hong Kong, my answer is "hiking". Then I get this bug eyed stare, because somehow people picture Hong Kong as a monolithic city. NOT TRUE!  Less than 25% of Hong Kong's land is developed and 40% is reserved for natural parks. Pretty much this means that you either live in a sky scraper next to other sky scrapers or are in the wilderness. It's freaking awesome. Also, because the territory is a mass of islands, you're never far from the beach.

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Half the fun of traveling (well, for me, anyway, probably no one else is such a weirdo) is noticing what's not just different, but hilariously, weirdly different (or similar) in other countries.

(Note that I'm planning to add individual entries later - travel in Asia, the Li  River, Ping'An, Hanoi, Tam Coc, Phat Diem, hiking in Hong Kong (maybe multiple entries for both hikes, depending?), general Hong Kong life (possibly late nights and daily life, again depending on my energy levels), and food. But this one is just strange stuff that doesn't really fit anywhere else.)

Sign at the Taipei airport. Being a cynical person, my first thought was, "I am so sorry, Taiwan, that your love is unrequited." (Most - maybe all - of the countries pictured don't recognize Taiwan as a sovereign entity.)
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imperial agent, swtor, chiss

Why I Do NOT Do Netflix and Chill

Let me count the ways:

a) I do not know whether you are a kind, caring person, or someone who will rape and murder me before dumping my still warm corpse in a ravine. So no, I don't want to let you know where I live. I also do not want to go, alone, to where you live. I suppose I could bring a chaperone, but somehow I don't think that's what you're intending?

b) I am attracted to people with at least a modicum of intelligence and creativity. Netflix and Chill manages to be *less* creative than dinner and a movie. This is an exceptionally low bar.

c) There is literally *nothing* lazier than saying, "I can't even be arsed to put on pants. Why don't you just come over to my place?" Literally nothing. I assume you apply this apathy to everything in your life, including your job, your relationships, and how you perform in bed.

d) While I hate to be the person who screams, THIS IS ALL ABOUT ME, TREASURE ME LIKE A PRINCESS!!!!!, I do feel like part of the point of any relationship (even an exceedingly casual friendship) is to make the other person feel important. (In case you're wondering, I see this as a bilateral deal. Women need to make men feel valued, too.) There is nothing that makes me feel less important than a "date" that takes less effort than ordering up a pizza.

e) If I really wanted to cuddle with/hook up with/otherwise do stuff with a total stranger, I'd just show up at a Center for Sex Positive Culture event. (Where, as a positive, there are people hanging around to ensure that outcome "a" does not become a reality.)

Re-Watching Utena as an Adult

Recently I found Utena on Hulu and was like, "Oh, hey! I haven't seen this in a while! I wonder how it has held up?"

I felt like, all in all, it held up better than I would have thought. Like, I got through the whole 39 episodes + movie. I thought it was enjoyable enough. I'm not sure that I'd get obsessed with it if I started it now (like I did as a teen), but there was at least a solid nostalgia factor. A few thoughts from watching:

1. There's a lot of symbolism. Really, the whole damned show is pretty much pure symbolism. Without taking the symbolism into account, little of the series (and NONE of the movie) makes any darned sense. This means that I'm constantly trying to guess whether it was good or not, since I honestly have no idea whether a point I thought I gleaned from it was super insightful (because, wow, isn't that a clever way to show 3rd wave feminism!) or just something that one of the artists thought looked cool.

2. What I think is going on in the TV show/movie is this. Utena is an innocent who must free both herself and Anthy (the ultimate victim of the patriarchy) from Ohtori (which is the physical representation of THE PATRIARCHY) and Akio (who  is patriarchy incarnate). To do so, she must duel various other students (who are all affected by the patriarchy in different ways and experience certain advantages and disadvantages due to it) and eventually give up her own patriarchial leanings (to become a prince), and instead grow to know Anthy as a real human and save her, not by the masculine act of cutting off someone's feminine symbol (a rose) with a surrogate phallus (sword - that, yes, is literally pulled out of someone else *sigh*), but rather by extending a hand of friendship.

Of course, I may be waaay off on this. The problem with heavy symbolism is that you can interpret it pretty much any way you please. But this is my interpretation.

3.  I am still upset that, at no point in the show, do any of the characters get to ride a flying horse. THIS IS PROMISED IN THE OPENING CREDITS. WHY DO YOU DISAPPOINT ME? Years later, I am still upset by this.

4. The sexual innuendo was so over the top,, really, inserting the key into the rose? The hair-like forest covering the mounded-dueling arena? The exceedingly phallic chairman's tower...with a rounded cap? (That's, um, standing erect right in front of the mons-dueling arena?) It's pretty spectacular.

5. What is with the movie? Is this an alternative universe? A continuation where they're sent to an alternative universe where everyone has slightly different personalities? An acid trip? I will never understand.

6. DOESN'T ANTHY AND UTENA'S HAIR GET TANGLED IN THE MOVIE WHEN THEY RIDE THROUGH THE PALACE? THEY ARE NAKED, WITH LONG FLOWING HAIR, GOING THROUGH A BUNCH OF GEARS. HOW DOES THEIR HAIR NOT GET CAUGHT ON THE GEARS, KILLING THEM?!!!!!! (Strangely, this bugged me far more than Utena turning into a car. Like, fine, become a car, but at least let's be releastic about what knee length hair will do when tangled with gears.)

7. Speaking of characters becoming cars, why does the student council not escape from the castle, too? Like, THEY ARE AHEAD OF UTENA. THERE IS NO LOGICAL REASON FOR THEM TO JUST DRIVE OFF WHEN THEY WANT TO ESCPAE,TOO. Stupid student council.

8. For a character who is supposedly a lesbian, Juri seems to spend an awful lot of time flirtatiously teasing Miki. And, um, is pretty touchy with Ruka. Maybe this is why Shiori doesn't like her?

9. Speaking of Juri, that stupid rose pendant is very, um...yeah. See sexual innuendo above.

10. Why in the hell does Touga proposition Nanami? Aside from it being one of the most cringe-worthy parts of the show (yes, even worse than Akio-Utena sex or the actual incest between Akio and Anthy), it just seemed so weird. Like...ewww. And I'm not sure what was worse, him propositioning her while he was naked in the shower or him going aggressively after her in Akio's car. Just bleh.

11. Speaking of Nanami, I found her a lot more sympathetic this time around. It felt like she was a semi-normal girl (if pretty darned spoiled), who was stuck in this craptastic universe. Really, out of all of the major characters (other than Wakaba - is she major?) she felt the most normal. Yet the poor girl keeps getting changed into a cow, laying eggs, being propositioned by her brother, etc.

12. None of the characters felt even remotely in high school to me. (This was an issue I had with it in high school, too, FWIW. The elementary schoolers feel almost high school-y, the high schoolers like they should be in their mid-twenties.)

13. I think the roses are all supposed to mean something, but I'm unclear as to what blue, purple, or green roses even are. Like...Victorian rose symbology with with dye? Are blue and purple the same? DOES THAT MEAN THAT SOMEDAY MIKI GROWS UP TO BE AKIO?

That's all I've got for now. Again, I enjoyed it, but SO MANY QUESTIONS LEFT UNANSWERED.

Geek Girl Con!

I spent last weekend at Geek Girl Con, which is slowly becoming one of my favorites. There are a few reasons for this, but mostly it's that it's a very social, very warm, incredibly positive convention. A few highlights:

1. To pass time, I went down to the gaming room and met up with the girls who play magic group. I'm pretty sure I played LONG ago (when it was popular), but have since forgotten all the rules. One of the girls showed me how to play it again and it was so much FUN. The rules are pretty simple, there's an element of randomness that keeps the better player from whomping the not as good player, but there's definitely still a substantial degree of skill and strategy (mostly in building the deck). Anyway, I'm thinking that I may start going to the meet ups as there's a local one, everyone was super nice, and I'd like to meet more women who game.

(I also liked the art on the cards and found it strangely entertaining to visualize the action taking place. Ah, hah, so you attack! Well, I shall send out my giant necro-slug to defend me! He shall slime up your cat warrior before returning to his dungeon to defend me yet again! Mwah hah hah hah hah!!!! I know. I should not be allowed into polite company.)

2. The "You Too Can Make a Video Game!" panel. There were two female game designers, talking about making games, one of whom was a pretty good story teller (Jessica Sampat, I think?) but didn't give a lot of information beyond how to be inspired. (Which, as we know, is rarely my problem, although I did think about trying to incorporate my life into a video game and came to the horrifying conclusion that it would basically be a not as good version of "The Stanley Parable".) The other was Zoe Quinn, who gave a lot of super helpful information on building video games. (She has a site over at that I need to spend some time on.) Weirdly, prior to the panel, I had no especial desire to build a video game (I just figured that, what the heck, I had no better way to spend an hour than watching the panel.) By the end, though, I was thinking, "You know...I can probably do this. And it *would* be pretty cool to show off a game that I made." So we'll see. This is probably one more project in development that I'll never complete, but hey...I just programmed a web form to load into a SQL database by hand using Notepad (I think I've given up on doing more than that...the Facebook integration is too freaking difficult for me to spend more time on, as is prettying it up by doing things like making stars that highlight when you mouse them, etc.), so heck, maybe the next step in me trying to become a better programmer is creating a dating sim or something equally silly...

3. The fashion show! I was actually sort of disappointed, in that I'd been hoping for ideas for actual fashion that I could wear on a daily basis. (It's another project I'll probably never complete - to create a full fashion line of clothing that I'd actually wear.) Don't get me wrong - it was fun...but most of the outfits were too costume-y to ever be worn off a runway. (With the exception of the t-shirts, which struck me as a bit *too* boring, and the leggings, which I actually thought were just about perfect, although they don't come in a size tall - frustrating as they went *on and on* about how inclusive they were being by selling up to a 6XL...but then they still don't come in an inseam larger than 28", which is freaking tiny. I need at least a 34" to cover my ankle bone, and ideally wear more like a 35-36".)

4. The Anita Sarkeesian/Zoe Quinn panel. The main thing that interested me in this was how *different* the two are. Sarkeesian is more cerebral, more measured, etc. (Which I suppose makes sense for someone who has built her career about dissecting problematic elements in media. She's an academic, albeight one who is really hated for no explicable reason. Gamers are *weird*.) Quinn is far more quirky and, interestingly, seems to be devoting a lot of her time to helping other people who are targeted online. One of the saddest things she went into was how, since she's seen as a high profile target, generally companies are pretty willing to help her when someone targets her...but a lot of the people she's trying to help just aren't seen as worth the bother. Ugh. Depressing. They also had a lot of information on how to *proactively* make it more difficult to dox you...which I may look into, not becuase I suspect anyone is ever going to come after me (I'm just not that interesting, folks!), but because it rarely hurts to be a bit more invisible.

It was also rather intersting hearing Quinn talk a bit about Depression Quest. I haven't super followed Gamergate (it makes me sad), but it was just so random. At the time she'd made the game that made her one of the most hated people on the Internet, she'd apparently just been fired (for having pnemonia, which meant she couldn't go into work at her coffee shop job - 'Murica, folks!), was in a relationship that was ending, and was severely depressed. She created a little game just to have something to do and posted it, figuring that maybe a few dozen people would play it. It ended up being mentioned on Kotaku...which in and of itself probably wouldn't be a big deal, except that her now-ex took to Reddit and...well, you know the rest. It's really peculiar and really, really freaky that she could get that kind of hostile attention for posting a small project that she meant mostly to share with friends,

5. The LED sewing panel. Apparently there's a tutorial on making a scarf with a color sensor that will change colors depending on what you hold it up to. I didn't know that I needed this, but I apparently do. *sigh* Since, of *course* I need another project...

I'm really wishing I didn't have to sleep so I'd have an extra 8 hours a day to work on things. Damn you, Geek Girl Con, for inspiring me so much!