Archive for April, 2007

Medieval Map of Empires

April 30, 2007

What I love most about this interactive medieval map of the rise, spread and fall of empires during the period is the fact that the soundtrack is from the movie Conan.

Advertisements

Boy, I Had to Work For That Number

April 29, 2007

This morning’s number: 92

This is supposed to be a *normal* morning number for me. It shouldn’t take effort to get there, just routine. Not having a routine is probably what’s ruining it for me.

After yesterday’s appalling numbers (178 196 152), I broke out my aggressive testing/dosing strategy that I used to curb my numbers after I got back from Spain.

I made sure I had a reasonable number (100) before bed at 10pm, then set my alarm for 2am. Woke up at 2 with a 145, took 2.5 units. Woke up again at 6:30 am for my Lantus shot and tested at 140 (!!?? Yeah, that’s how I know my body’s just fucking out of wack), took 2.5 more units. And now, finally, at 10:30 am, I’m at 92.

Fucking sugar.

Thought for the Day

April 28, 2007

“The majority of people aren’t sad because there is something wrong with their brain. They are sad because their lives suck.”

Other Cultures Are Icky

April 27, 2007

Hannah had a post up a while back discussing Megan Lindholm’s short story “Cut,” which is about a girl speaking to her grandmother about her decision to be circumcised because, bascially, “all the kids are doing it these days.”

This one stirred up a lot of complex feelings for me (I read it when it first came out several years ago and again recently), and today I figured out one of the things it got me thinking about. Female mutilation is a hot button topic. I have a violent aversion to the idea of circumcision; I’m not big on the whole mutilation thing. I like all my parts where they are. I think other boys and girls should keep theirs too.

Now, I know this ain’t Somalia (thank God), but things aren’t perfect here. We’ve got some questionable practices, and there’s nothing more annoying than somebody yelling at feminists to be grateful because, “You know, in Saudi Arabia, women can’t even drive.”

There are a couple of things that can happen when you present another culture’s “beauty” practices to a Western reader (the big reason given for the continuation of female castration is that any girl who isn’t circumcised will never marry any sort of decent, respectable man. Sound familiar at all? How about “If only my breasts were bigger, boys would like me!” No? Moving on, then). Talking about it can raise awareness about the practice and break the silence, which is great, but it can also lead to that whole “holier-than-thou” reader reaction. It can lead to cozy fiction that lets us marvel at the brutal exoticism of of some “backward” country and reinforce our feelings of superiority.

If it’s just, “Those crazy Africans are MONSTERS. How could ANYONE mutilate ANYBODY???” and that’s the central message of the story, then you end up with some jacked-up piece of uneducated drivel like this whose basic message is ALL MUSLIMS HATE WOMEN. ISN’T IT GREAT WE’RE NOT LIKE THAT????

Instead, you want to do something a little more like what Lindholm does, which is put that practice that we see as “barbaric” into proper context right there alongside equally barbaric practices we ourselves engage in. That’s how you use SF to get people to think about current practices, accepted ideas, and challenge them.

It’s easy to criticize the Other. It’s a hell of a lot harder to turn the mirror back on yourself.

Because then you might end up with something like this.

This May Not Cheer You Up, But it Cheers ME Up, So Really…

April 27, 2007

Husky puppies! In Alaska!

The Cold Equations

April 27, 2007

Having a rough night tonight, basically because I’ve got some medical stuff I want to take care of (like the callous on the bottom of my toe that’s going to get me my foot chopped off if I don’t get it scraped someday this century, and I’m down to my last bottle of Lantus and Novolog, and I need to buy another 2 bottles of testing strips), and weekly groceries to buy, and thinking about money makes me think about my bank account, and when I total it all up, it doesn’t work.

I can make it about 3-4 weeks out here. More like 3. That doesn’t include buying any backup insulin. What I have is what I’ve got. The podiatrist will have to go on the credit card. Which I can’t afford to pay the minimum payment on next month unless something changes.

This means that I’ll need to move out of Dayton right after Wiscon unless I can pick up some work somewhere. As said, I’ll spend this weekend and next week looking at food service jobs. I’ve got to have something soon, because as much as I try to keep upbeat and not talk about bad stuff and impending doom, you know, things aren’t exactly rosy on the financial front. Which means stuff like eating and living is in jeopardy.

The last option, which I didn’t take before this one cause it really is a last resort, is to move back home. My parents can help with food and meds. I’m screwed as far as credit card payments and student loan payments go, but there are also way more jobs that will pay me far more money in the Portland/Vancouver area than in depressed Dayton. Problem is that means I’ll eventually be paying for gas, too, which I can’t afford. My parents will have to front that, too, until I can. Then there’s insurance to consider, and etc, and you know, my parents aren’t exactly rich. They have enough trouble paying their own bills.

So that’s the last-ditch option, and just looking at the way the numbers add up, it may in fact be something I have to do very soon. Not exactly looking forward to it, but it beats dying.

Sometimes I try too hard to be stubborn, to try and do stuff on my own, and then I end up in these really desparate situations where I wait until the last minute when I’ve blown through my other options, and then it’s almost too late. I should have jumped at the opportunity to move out a long time ago, but I had other committments. And this is where I’ve ended up.

Deep breath. It’s OK. It’s not over yet, and then even when I’ve blown through this option, I have one final fall back.

Deep breath.

Take a Tylenol PM.

Go to sleep.

Tomorrow will be better.

Did Someone Say Something?

April 27, 2007

"I’m ashamed to be seen with such a skinny gamer!"

April 26, 2007

Ah, Wii.

Sugar Sugar

April 26, 2007

Before bed test revealed!

232

Blast that damned barista!

According to spreadsheet, I’d correct a 232 with 8 units of insulin, but that’s only if I’m going to eat something beforehand, and it’s also bedtime, so I subtract 2 units.

But I know that if I take 6 units I’m likely in for a nighttime low, unless my sugar’s doing that weird nighttime jump that it did all last week, so I take the 6 anyway.

2 hours later, I’m lying awake in bed. I start to feel lightheaded.

This is the signal to get up and test.

44

Trudge to the kitchen, measure out 8 ounces of orange juice. About 20 carbs.

Try to get back to bed.

Feel too cold. Put on sweater

Start to shake and sweat.

Take off sweater.

Throw off comforter.

Still hot and shaky.

OK, that didn’t do it.

Test again.

35.

Still dropping.

Back to the kitchen for a granola bar (yes, I keep lifesavers and jelly beans by my bed for emergencies, but if I can make it to the kitchen, I prefer the variety). Another 20 carbs.

Back to bed. Sweat some more. Shaking increases, but heartrate levels out.

Get up to write blog post about how much I love low sugar episodes.

Shake some more.

Shaking begins to subside.

Finally feeling a bit sleepy. Must be coming back up, cause lord knows I can’t fucking sleep when my sugar goes low (a blessing, really).

So I guess this means I take 4 next time instead of 6.

This is what it is: trial and error, trial and error, until you get something that works well, except when it doesn’t.

It’s all estimates, never an exact science.

But at least it’s not the year 1900.

Bed now.

Thinner Than Thou

April 26, 2007


In the not-so-distant future, worshipping God not only goes out of vogue, but becomes illegal, and worship of the body takes center stage.

Too fat? Too thin? Too old? Too ugly? If you don’t look like Ken or Barbie, it’s all right to rejoice, because gyms, spas, lipo and face-lift clinics have become places of worship. You can have a cookie cutter body forever… almost.

But if you don’t want to get fixed… then heaven help you.

I’ve been meaning to read Thinner Than Thou since it first came out a couple of years ago, but that first chapter is a bitch to get through. The prose is set out in blocks, and for snappy teeny-bopper dialogue gosh-bang stuff, it needed Chuck Palahniuk-like breaks. I found the teenage protagonists annoying (as many non-loner/non-geek teenage protagonists tend to be – it’s always tough to sympathize with physically perfect people who don’t have anything interesting going for them except physical perfection).

It gets better as it goes along, because you get some more interesting characters: an overweight executive who signs up for a “however long it takes” fat-camp run by the Reverend Earl, who’s cult of thin dominates the country’s economy, and the mother of an anorectic teenager who realizes that she’s let her obsession with her looks overtake her concern about her daughter’s health, as well as the locked-up, spunky anorexic herself.

There’s good worldbuilding in here, and plenty of stabs at our current obsession with the body. There are the infomercial/”religious” programs put on by the Reverend Earl admonishing fat people, telling them they’re disgusting, telling them they can achieve “success through sacrifice.” Telling them. Telling us.

The world outside is one long superhighway of fast food joints and food advertising but inside, among and between is the cult of thin that’s grown up around it. The 24 hour gyms, the face lift clinics, and the seedier sorts of places, the places inbetween. Because porn is about everything forbidden, the fatter you are, the more deviant, the more fetishized. A lot of this book ends up being about food porn, and sadly, along with that we end up with this sort of hyper-satirized stereotype of a fat person, these enormous, insatiable people who are so fat they can’t walk, who can’t stop eating, or thinking about eating. They just can’t help stuffing themselves. I mean, aren’t all fat people like that? I don’t even bother with utensils!!

Eh.

Though I realized that a lot of Reed’s plot hinged on the whole “unable to be satiated” thing (as this is also part of the Reverend’s plan: make it so that people are always hungry, always fat, and yet always yearning to be thin), there’s only one anorexic in the book, and she’s not shown as wild, ridiculous, and out of control as the fat characters are. In fact, there are no fat main characters in the book (one of the POVs starts out heavy, but goes to a fat camp and slims down by his second chapter). The fat secondary fat characters are all these gross stereotypes, the women who steal food, gorge themselves on Hershey’s bars (not occasional binge. Gorge. All. The. Time) and those who become the Reverend’s “Queens” – the women he feeds in order to get them fat (the term for this suddenly escapes me) so that he can get off on watching them eat and then revel in their fatness.

The obesity’s all about women, about uncontrollable women, uncontrollable desires, and OK, yeah, that’s traditional and all, but I get kind of bored seeing the fat female body as a symbol of out-of-control rebellion, even in this book where the rebellion is “good.” Not only was fat forbidden, but it was then linked to sexual desire, and then, in every case, linked to the desire for a fat female body. So fat, boundless, overstimulated, insatiable women. Gee, that’s a new one.

But that’s just on reflection. It doesn’t become really crude in its obviousness until the end.

One of our primary characters is an anorectic teenage girl whose parents, horrified that she’s too thin and sickly to look the part of the perfect teen, sign her away to a hard-core hospital/spa/nunnery where a bunch of “Dedicated Sisters” preach to her about food and body image and coax her to eat. Her brother and sister and boyfriend go off on a big cross-country roadtrip in order to find her. Her mother leaves their father and goes off on her own to search for her, too. When the “Deds” get a hold of you, they don’t tell you where they’re taking your daughter.

The book starts to unravel toward the end, as all of the disparate characters come together in an attempt to topple the Reverend. The thing is, this book was a satire from the start. It’s supposed to hit close to home and then go over the top, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. It reminded me a lot of Egalia’s Daughters, in that respect, though this was vastly better written. Both were difficult to take seriously, especially toward the end, even knowing it was *supposed* to be over the top and it wasn’t really serious because it was… serious.

Because there’s beautiful stuff in here, as when the army of “big” people who don’t fit the Reverend’s ideal go on the March (and again, when we see the massive “army” they’re all “big” people. These mysterious anorexics and others who don’t fit the mold [I’d assume being too tall or too short or otherwise “malformed” would count, too, but no, it’s really all about those out-of-control fat people] are no where in sight).

And the army declares:

We are tired of it. We are just plain sick and tired of it. Why should we slave and suffer and waste our lives trying to please you? We are done smiling and pretending that we eat like birds just because you say normal people do. We are fed up with dieting and suffering in gyms because you think we should look like you. We are fed up to here with you and your impossible standards. Who put you in charge of standards anything?

All nice rah-rah stuff, but again, here’s an army of fat people saying, “we just pretend to eat like birds!” and it clunks into that stereotype of the-out-of-control fat person, the one who must eat piles and piles and piles in order to gain that twenty extra pounds that makes them imperfect, and that’s the most annoying stereotype. The difference between a “normal” (ie BMI blah blah whatever) weight and overweight person is about a 100 calories a day.

An extra three tablespoonds of peanut butter does not make somebody a wild, crazy, insatiable pig. The thing is, in the cult of thin, it’s not just about people who weigh 800 pounds. There just aren’t going to be enough of those people to fuel your dieting industry. It’s about the people who are 140 and want to be 120. It’s about dying for “perfection.”

But anyway.

So after the anthem-march comes the convergence of everybody to bring down the cult of the body, and it’s a little silly and over the top, as the anthem is, as the book is, but…

I think there are places where Reed might be writing from her own fat prejudice, and that comes out in some of the language and the big-fat-slob stereotypes (and the fact that NONE of the main viewpoint characters are these uber-monster fat people this society so fears), but well, you know, there was enough in here to get me thinking about the cult of thin, and how far we’re willing to take it. It does what a lot of SF and satire like to do, which is take what we’ve come to see as “normal” out of its everyday context and blow it up, bright and shiny and ridiculous, and slap it over a new background so it shows up in stark relief, and we can look at it in horror and tried to figure out how the hell we could think of any of that behavior as “normal.”

Interesting experiment, but not a grand slam.