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Meme questions - Qualified Perceptions
Meme questions
Original questions from desireearmfeldt:
Things That Are Not Right
I kind of like the phrase "What is this I don't even" for things that are completely and bafflingly Not Right. Like the left-turn signal from the right lane (which I did get an explanation for). I have a hard time using the phrase, though, because it's so incoherent (but that's the point). That's for things that are so Not Right that they're hilarious and amuse me - being in customer support, I run into a fair number of those - and they make for good livejournal posts. There are other things which are so Not Right that they're rage- or despair-inducing, and those are less funny, and I am not really sure what to say about those.

Things That Are Puzzling
This could be technical challenges, or it could be certain people. Technical challenges that are puzzling are fun. I tend to talk to myself during these (the other night, producing B5, there was "Why are these signs showing up off the left edge of the paper? Wait, for the love of God, why did visage put things at -9 inches outside the box?" (And I figured out the "why" answer to that, too, which is even better in puzzle-solving). "Why are you receiving mail to this 400-person list that you are not on?" was one of my favorite recent technical puzzles that took me a long time to figure out but I was very pleased when I finally did. But a technical puzzle that I can't get any traction on at all - that I don't understand enough to do anything, or even know where to start, and all the documentation is written for someone who knows more about UNIX or encryption or whatever than I do - that frustrates me very quickly, which is a character flaw. It is a thing that I love about my job, that it presents me with these occasional puzzles that need solving, and that it also lets me mess around in my spare time and build puzzles for myself like "How do I write database-based webapps to run octopus contests?"

People I know are also interesting puzzles. I like making models of people in my head - they're more explanatory than predictive, but I think they do help to throw warning flags for me when I seem likely to annoy someone else by tweaking them in a way they don't want to be tweaked. They are not as predictive as I'd like, because people are not easily simulated to that much detail. There are also people who I don't have good models for - sometimes I might have instincts for them, but sometimes they are just mysterious black boxes who might say anything at all. (On the other side of things, I really love when I can communicate with someone without any actual content - things like "Did you do the thing with the thing? I figured out who it should be - it's obviously *that* guy", talking to mjperson in front of players, or "rectangle with squiggle in it" for "Jabberwocky" in Pictionary with justom. But that's not about Puzzling at all, that's about having solved the puzzle).

I do find myself wondering why these two topics in particular - they seem to be bookends for something, but I'm not recognizing it as an obviously Me Thing. (In particular, I don't recognize Things That Are Not Right as one of my Things, but I don't know whether it's that I'm missing the point somehow, or this is something other people see in mee that I miss, or what.)

The Fascination Of Yarn
There are a bunch of different components to this for me. First, there's color. A lot of people have spent a lot of time turning yarn into lovely colors, such that they're kind of mesmerizing on their own. Between the color and the depth - the interplay between light and dark between each ply and the space between, or the edges of the yarn, I find a lot of yarn just really cool to look at. Like this image of a MadelineTosh yarn - there's a depth of contrast there that isn't in something like this. And many of them feel pettable - cashmere, angora, bison, that sort of thing. So, that's coveting the item for its aesthetic properties. I think I only have one skein that is *only* for aesthetics and I can't imagine what to make with it - that's this, and the picture doesn't really do it justice. Next, there's the potential that yarn has in it. It could be anything! It could be created into anything! It's like the fascination of an art supply store for anyone with any dreams of being artistic, or a stationery store for people who daydream that they might ever write more letters or a novel, if only they had the perfect pen. Yarn is suggestive that way - there's a whole universe of might-be comprised within everything. If only there was enough time. Third, I think my whole family has some prediliction towards hoarder-ness; I only let it come out in me in books, bowls, and yarn - but boy does it come out there. Fourth, visiting yarn stores I've never been to before is a Thing I Do With harrock when travelling - sometimes it's a good escape when I need more introvert time, it's always a fun little adventure. And if you're using "going shopping" as an excuse, you have to get something. Interestingly, I seem to have talked for quite a bit about yarn without really touching on why I like knitting. :)

I think femininity is something that specifies things that I can do (wear perfume, wear a shawl when I'm cold at work, put my hair in a bun), but I don't think that it speficies things that I must do (wear makeup, wear heels). And it's something that I... never really got the hang of. I wore makeup some in high school, but I never felt comfortable that I was doing it right. But being fat is depressing when shopping for women's clothes, and being fat and tall is even worse. (Most nylons, in particular, will allow you to be tall and skinny, or short and fat, but not both, and if you have fat thighs, wearing a skirt without nylons can be chafingly painful). So when I find jeans or pants that fit, I wear them to death, and I wear shirts rather than blouses, and I couldn't tell you whether more of them are men's shirts or women's (much to ilhander's despair). Well, hum, I seem to think that femininity is all about what you wear. I guess there are behavior patterns that are "feminine", some of which I fall into (not asking for raises, being deferent, knitting), and some of which I don't (solutions v. sympathy, not very kid-nurturing, perl hacking).

I don't listen to background music very much. I do use music for specific tasks - fast music to bicycle to, wordless music to tune out distractions and work on a task I don't want to work on for hours (like writing the log) - I can't listen to music with words while doing something with words, or they get muddled together. Bouncy music to clean or cook to, a very few specific pieces for destressing or calming down. A while ago, rifmeister was collecting mix tapes (well, CDs) from people, and I made one for him. I alternated between "Music I like for no reason" and "Music that hits me emotionally in one way or another". I probably haven't thought about music that hard before or since, but I really did like the exercise.

The Art Of Happiness
Some of it is innate temperament (which I really want to spell without the "a". "temperament" sounds like something you do to cure paint), I think - I don't fret about a lot of things that other people do. I don't worry about what the meaning of my life is, or if I have a purpose, or if I have lived up to expectations of me (except in the "would my PhD advisor disapprove" sense, which I'm still a little dysfunctional about), or mortality, or... a lot of stuff. I find it hard to stay angry or unhappy overnight, which is very convenient. A whole big ton of it is luck - I kind of fell into a job I love, I have a husband who's competent and wise and a housemate who's good company, and a strong social circle, and enough money, and pretty much everything I could want from a life. And some of it is process in living/working with others - concede on the things you care less about than the other person does. Care less more often than you care more. Er, I don't mean "be apathetic" about everything, I mean "don't invest all your ego in all your opinions." Since this is a desireearmfeldt subject, I will say that I think that "concede rather than compromise" is a way in which I strongly differ from you - you strive for fairness between trusted allies/partners while I strive for... I guess communism? "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." And one last bit that didn't fit anywhere else - "I knit so that I don't kill people" is a button I've seen. Enjoyable hobbies is key, and bowing out of hobbies when they stop being fun is also important.

More Nifty Things I Bet You Didn't Know About Cephalopods
The Indoneian Mimic Octopus is pretty awesome. A lot of octopodes can change color and texture, but this one actually acts. It'll hide in a hole and stick out two arms and pretend to be a snake. Or it'll put all its arms parallel and swim along and pretend to be a flounder. Or it'll swim sideways with all its arms sticking out and pretend to be a lionfish. xkcd captures it pretty well. I can't tell if the stories about the octopus sneaking across the room to eat the fish in another tank are real or not - they seem to be ascribed to enough places that it might be an urban legend, or it might be really really common. On the other hand, the octopus who kept shorting out a bright light that annoyed him by squirting it with water when no one was looking seems to be real. The octopus at the New England Aquarium gets given puzzle boxes full of food for lunch, as opposed to all the other lazy fish who can just eat stuff without doing any work. Octopodes are "honorary vertebrates" in the UK (which means that you have to treat them vaguely ethically when doing experiments on them) and are pretty much the only tool-using invertebrate that we've found. Octopodes have fairly poor proprioception - the only way they're really sure what their arms are doing is to watch them.
Non octopus factoids: Some squids have elbows (actually, they look a lot like bacteriophage to me). Then, there's the flamboyant cuttlefish. Most octopodes and cuttlefish use their color changing for camouflage. This guy, though - he's decided that since he's invested all that energy in being able to be whatever color he wants at any given moment, he is going to *rock* the fuschia and maroon and dark gold. Not to mention, he's going to set them to move in waves, to be extra-fabulous.
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From: desireearmfeldt Date: April 22nd, 2012 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not all of these prompts were for the same reason: some of them were (obviously) firstfrost Things; others were more like "I'm curious what you think about this, because I know you have opinions but am not very familiar with what they are." Things That Are Not Right was...only a you-thing in the sense that you have stories/posts that fall into this category (and really, as you point out it's two distinct categories). It was meant to be fairly open to interpretation. :)

Since this is a desireearmfeldt subject, I will say that I think that "concede rather than compromise" is a way in which I strongly differ from you - you strive for fairness between trusted allies/partners while I strive for... I guess communism? "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

Wow, there's pages and pages of unpacking that could be done, there... :) The thing that compels me to respond is: You're right, I strive for fairness between trusted allies/partners, and am frustrated when I can't get it. But...there are two bits of that sentence, and they possibly can be uncoupled. (Only, no, the relationship is more complicated than that.) That is: fairness is important, and trust & partnership are important. But I think my attitude towards concession vs. compromise is somewhat difference depending on whether I perceive myself to be in, or potentially in, a trusted-ally relationship or not.

If I don't trust the other person to care about my needs as well as their own, then concession feels both unfair and unsafe -- because the other person will just take advantage of me. (Note that I generally start out trusting other people in this sense, until they give me evidence to the contrary; and even then I find it hard to remember to act on my mistrust, and hard to deliberately do so. But this is cancelled out by my tendency to focus on the content first and the social dynamics only after I start fearing I've screwed them up.)

If I do trust the other person, I may be trying to operate in the compromise/allies paradigm, but I'm also more likely to concede, because I don't perceive it to be dangerous to my chances of getting what I want in the future. I'm also more likely to concede if I think that I'm railroading people or winning more than my fair share of the arguments -- note that this is about fairness, but is orthogonal to trust and partnership; it's only about relative power.

However, it's true that I find it hard to feel comfortable with a partnership that doesn't have a big dose of fairness, or perhaps that I get uncomfortable when things seem to unequal in a partnership. I think this is because... Well, OK, if I think the unfairness is in my favor, then I get nervous because I have no idea where the tipping point is that will break the partnership by making it no longer worth the other person's while to deal with me. If I think the unfairness is not in my favor, then, hrm, either I feel the other person is imposing on me/taking me for granted, or I feel that the other person is well-meaning but needs me more than I need them and isn't that kind of awkward? But now I've generalized beyond the point of concession vs. compromise and confused myself. :)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: April 22nd, 2012 09:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I went back and added the "between trusted allies/partners" because the sentence didn't seem true without it - it overgeneralized you in ways that didn't seem right (hah!) and also overgeneralized our differences into places that we're less different. :)

if I think the unfairness is in my favor, then I get nervous because I have no idea where the tipping point is

For me, at least, this is self-correcting. If I don't care as much about where to go to dinner (my classic example), and concede to go to the place you want to go, that's all good. If every time we go to the place you want to go, then at the point at which that starts to bug me, then that's also exactly the point at which I care more that we go to the place I want to go, so I push harder for my place rather than starting out by conceding. Assuming that you are using the same negotiation protocol as me, then you concede when I care more and we go to my place as much as is necessary to keep me from hitting the tipping point.

I suppose that this might make me seem erratic in things like "how much do I care about this sort of thing" but the whole protocol fails if one can't make a reasonable job of both perceiving and conveying how much both parties care about the things being negotiated.
mathhobbit From: mathhobbit Date: April 22nd, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wait, there's a difference between shirts and blouses?
From: desireearmfeldt Date: April 22nd, 2012 10:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, but as with the definition of a sandwich, I'd have a hard time saying exactly what I think the difference is. I want to say that if it has the sort of collar you can wear a tie with, I would never call it a blouse, but I'm not sure that's 100% true. (It is true of, say, firstfrost's collared silk shirts.) If it's made of something heavy like denim or corduroy, I wouldn't call it a blouse. (If it's made to be worn by a man, in the 20th century, I would also not call it a blouse; but that begs the question of how I know it's made for a man.) If it has poofy sleeves, or lace on it, I'm likely to call it a blouse, but I own exceptions to this rule.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: April 23rd, 2012 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think one could wear a tie, or at least a bow, with a peter pan collar, which is generally a women's style.

Going back in time, blouses stop being their own thing, and plenty of upper-class shirts had lace or poofy sleeves. That's not so helpful for this distinction, though.

And now I want to figure out a corduroy blouse, though I'm not sure that'd work ...
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: April 23rd, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
One can find anything on the internet if you look hard enough (sort of like Rule 34, but more general).

This, for example, can be made in either velvet or corduroy, and I think it must be a blouse, though maybe it has to be worn over something, in which case it's a jacket. :)

And this one is arguably a blouse, though it is labeled as a shirt.

kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: April 23rd, 2012 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
The internet is full of things! And okay, I buy fine-wale corduroy as sufficiently interchangable with velvet for this purpose.

That last one is a fine example of the fine line between a shirt and a blouse. I'd be surprised to see a male here/now wearing that combination of ruffle, collar, and cut, but it's not so many tweaks away from a tuxedo shirt or a poet's shirt.
From: desireearmfeldt Date: April 23rd, 2012 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I assert that "can you wear a floofy bow with it?" is not at all the same criterion as "can you wear a necktie with it?" and that while you *can* wear a necktie with a Peter Pan collar, it's Not Done. :)
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: April 23rd, 2012 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
But is it only Not Done because Peter Pan collars are a "women's" style?
From: desireearmfeldt Date: April 23rd, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes. I realize this is a circular argument. :) (And there's the whole weird schoolgirl-uniform-with-necktie thing, which might be a counterexample.)
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: April 25th, 2012 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)
IIRC, the school tie is a socially/ritually important part of some school uniforms, so leaving it off of the girls' uniforms would make them not work as school uniforms. But any translation from a standard/male outfit to a female one has issues like that -- copy, or translate?

While digging around the net, I did find one peter pan collar and tie combination, though I though peter pan collars had to be rounded ...
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: April 22nd, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Something like this

desireearmfeldt is doing a better job defining the difference descriptively rather than proscriptively; I think of blouses as gender-standard for women only, and shirts as gender-standard for both men and women, in a way that skirts are gender-standard for women only and pants are (now) gender-standard for both men and women. (And kilts are unusual but non-gendered; the difference between kilts and skirts is another interesting line to draw...)
lillibet From: lillibet Date: April 23rd, 2012 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)
I found that wearing bike shorts (or more femininely-labeled variations thereof) under skirts, with or without tights, significantly changed my relationship to skirts.

Your happiness sounds a lot like mine, although it does not (yet!) involve knitting.

And I'm finding the conversation on concession/compromise/communism fascinating.

Thanks for sharing!
bluepapercup From: bluepapercup Date: April 23rd, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes! I mocked my mom my entire adolescence for wearing pettipants under skirts. Well, then I started wearing skirts often as an adult and understood why she wore them! Bike shorts squish my organs too much (and the one size up falls down) so split slips are the Way To Go™ for me. :)

Edited at 2012-04-23 08:08 pm (UTC)
bluepapercup From: bluepapercup Date: April 23rd, 2012 08:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your explanation of yarn was fascinating! I love how you articulated the feeling of yarn as raw material because it contains possibility! I can see how that might lead to the acquisition of it without definite plans to use it.

If you decide to write about why you love knitting itself, I'd be quite eager to read it. I didn't enjoy knitting much myself (though I did like crocheting) so I'm fascinated by the deep passion people seem to develop for knitting.
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