because we're grownups now, and it's our turn to decide what that means

Any sufficiently advanced bullshit is indistinguishable from competence.

In brief:

seattle gay pride


June 15th, 2014

Some resources and articles that have been helpful to me so far in my learning process:

This site has been crucial from day one. I started out reading almost exclusively articles about investing basics here, and I still come back to it for definitions when I come across unfamiliar terms.

Investing 101
I started with this and opened hyperlinks in new tabs from there.

Investing tutorials
A bunch of articles about different introductory topics.

Stock Series
A series of blog posts about investing (not just stock investing, despite the name) by a dude called Jim Collins, designed for brand-new investors. He's very, very big on index funds, and I haven't been able to find much solid evidence against that position.

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing
I'm reading this right now and it's great. It does assume you have some basic knowledge (e.g. terms like bull market/bear market, assets and liabilities in the context of investments, the concept of a stock index) but I'm pretty sure if you keep Investopedia close to hand, you'll be fine. It's mostly about the psychology of investing, not fancy formulae and shit.

What Is Dividend Growth Investing?
I intend to do this with a small percentage of my money eventually.

Dividend Champions
Information about companies who have a history of increasing dividend payouts each year. Helpful if you want to do that dividend growth investing thing.

Why Dollar-Cost Averaging Stinks
The title is a bit misleading--essentially, this says that it's fine to add money to your investment portfolio as you earn it and thus dollar-cost average by default, but if you want to add a large chunk of money, you should add it all at once instead of over the course of months as some people recommend.

Why your house is a terrible investment
Don't read this if you own a house, it'll just depress you. But do read it if you're considering buying one.

How Investing in Intangibles — Like Employee Satisfaction — Translates into Financial Returns
An article about research showing a correlation between employee satisfaction and investment return.

Ethical investing indices
A starting point for socially-responsible investing.

May 10th, 2014

why it matters

Add to Memories Share
neuron art
When I was in Chicago recently, I went to the university both of my adult brothers were attending and met some of their friends. After a particular conversation, I mentioned privately to my brothers that one guy had addressed my younger brother the entire time we were speaking--even, in multiple instances, while responding to things I had said. My younger brother thought about this for a moment and said, "Huh. I didn't notice that, but actually, you're right. He did."

My older brother rolled his eyes and said, "Fine, I get it, you don't like my friends." Then he hollered after the departing fellow in question, "Hey, my sister thinks you're sexist!"

I think, already having heard me talk the previous day about how the majority of male hockey fans I meet expect me to know nothing and express surprise or distrust when proved otherwise, my older brother was fed up with my endless complaints. To him, I seemed to be making mountains out of smooth, mole-free prairies. Quizzing a new acquaintance on a subject of mutual interest is nothing out of the ordinary, and correcting her with misinformation is a mistake anyone could make. Eye contact during conversation is a ridiculous thing to even notice, much less care about. I'm sure he knows that sexism exists, but it's something that happens when people get hired based on their gender, or in countries where women can't wear pants. It's a big deal. It's not about imaginary conversational slights nobody even notices unless they're dead set on finding something to be upset about.

Except I'm not imagining it, and sexism is about minor conversational slights. It is about the things we don't notice unless we're looking for them. Because even if we don't notice them, they have an effect. (Really, click that link at the beginning of the paragraph.) Perhaps especially if we don't notice them--because if a girl knows that these condescending speech patterns are being directed at other girls too, then it's easier for her to discount them. If she doesn't know that, she's more likely to assume she deserves to be talked down to and that her words aren't important.

This is the reason girls aren't going into science and tech fields. Overt sexism isn't gone, but it's not as socially acceptable these days, and almost all girls are told that they can do whatever they want when they grow up. They don't think they're incompetent because they're female--they each think that they, personally, are not competent enough for STEM fields, because their everyday interactions indicate to them that no one else thinks they are. It's all that little stuff, the stuff you think isn't important because you don't notice it. I can wave off the condescending male hockey fans because I know the Metropolitans won the Cup in 1917 and not 1907/the Habs have never come back from a 3-0 series deficit/Seabrook's penalty was charging, not boarding/a building designed for hockey is called an arena, not a stadium/whatever else they're wrong about today. But I couldn't do that until I developed a strong knowledge base. It's really discouraging for females of any age to start learning about a male-dominated subject, because for a while, every asshole who assumes you don't know anything is right.

This, Cordell, is why I point out minor sexist speech patterns. Because no, in the long run it doesn't really matter much that some guy told Clayton about his plans for his career instead of the person standing next to him who asked. But it matters that you don't believe it happened. It matters that you don't realize this is part of a larger, systemic pattern. And because you TA physics classes, some of which contain female students, all of whom deal with this shit on a regular basis, it matters that you don't think it matters.

April 20th, 2014

Hockey skates!

Add to Memories Share
you can play
Today I skated in my very own hockey skates for the first time!

Through a complicated series of grant-related issues, the periodic lab work I've been doing for Dr. K as a contractor pays in Amazon store credit at the moment. Normally this is just a couple hours every few months, but she recently needed me for a full day, so I found myself with a nice big chunk of money I couldn't really do anything responsible with. Well, I guess I could have saved it for household necessities or whatever. But no, I decided fuck it, I wanna pair of ice skates.

I tried on skates at Play It Again Sports in Lynnwood to decide which brand I wanted, which I recognize was sort of a dick move when I knew I wasn't going to buy from them, but I figured I'd go there for other hockey-related things eventually. And indeed, before using my new skates I needed to have them sharpened and heat-molded, so Play It Again got some of my money after all. I probably won't go there again unless I have to, though, because the guy behind the counter treated me like I didn't know anything about hockey after we had firmly established that I knew more than he did about recent Cup winners, current NHL team rosters, and the game that was being played on the TV in front of us. Like, I was in the middle of telling him why I thought a particular penalty would probably be called as charging rather than boarding, and he interrupted me to condescendingly explain what a boarding penalty is. (The penalty turned out to be--shocker!--charging. Douche.)

Anyway, that was yesterday, and today I went to Highland Ice Arena in Shoreline to try out the new kicks. It was completely dead; I think there were five people on the ice besides me. I asked the person up front whether it was always that empty, and she informed me that it was Easter Sunday, which explains it. But she did say it would probably be pretty low-traffic from now until the beginning of the next hockey season, so that's good. I like having room to move around.

I skated at Millennium Park in Chicago last December, but that was more a social thing than actually working on technique, and other than that I haven't skated in something like five years. So I was pretty pleased to have my right crossover back within about fifteen minutes, and my left crossover mostly working by the end of the hour I was out there. I also practiced skating backwards (slow going, but generally successful) and stopping (not successful, but then I've never been able to stop). I did not fall over at all, which I deem an accomplishment given my rustiness, and also given the horrendous state of the ice. I don't know what the hell was happening before I got there, but by the look of things I'm gonna guess landmine testing. So kudos to either my awesome skating skills or my awesome new skates for managing to handle that surface spill-free.

Best of all, my hip is giving me no trouble at all. For the last year or so, since that asshole phys ed teacher pushed me when I had an injury, I haven't been able to do more than a few miles of walking, running, biking, or elliptical without my hip killing me, so it's been tough to get a reasonable duration of cardio. Dancing is better, I can do about two hours of club-style dancing before the hip nopes out, but I don't really enjoy doing that outside an actual club context, and obviously I can't go clubbing often enough to get my cardio that way (enthusiastic as I'm sure Piper would be about that plan). But skating is more of a side-to-side motion, and doesn't ping the whiny muscle, so I can skate to... my heart's content. B) Which I plan to do!

February 23rd, 2014

I went to Knee High Stocking Company for a friend's birthday party last night, with a group that's comfortable enough to pass drinks around for everyone to taste, so I got to try a few different things. Knee High is a speakeasy that serves prohibition-era cocktails, or at least so they claim--I don't know enough about cocktail history to be sure of how authentic these are. Anyway, I wanted to take note of the ones I've tried for next time.

Hammock Between the Sugar Cane: Zaya 12-year rum, Barbancourt 9-year rum, coconut, falernum, lime. This was mindblowing. With the caveat that I don't go out for fancy cocktails very often, I would call it the best cocktail I've ever had.

Laura Palmer: gin, Earl Grey, lemon, Coke. I don't like gin or Coke (this was a sip of someone else's drink, obviously) but this was actually pretty good. The flavors were interesting together.

Buffalo Cider: bourbon, cider, lemon. This just tasted like cider to me (good cider, but not really worth 10+ bucks), although some of the people who don't drink much said they tasted a strong alcohol burn.

Painkiller: rum, orange, pineapple, cream of coconut. Basically a pina colada--I couldn't really taste the orange. Good pina colada, though.

To the Moon: rum, blood orange liqueur, lime, cardamom bitters. This was okay, but tasted a little like orange rind.

Drinks I might like to try in the future (because they change up the menu a lot, so these might not be listed next time, but they're still willing to make whatever):

Grape-Beri Knee High: raspberry Stoli, Chambord, lemon, soda, optional absinthe.
Pimento: brandy, St. Germain, olive juice, lemon, 1-5 spiciness range.
Spanish coffee (waitress recommended): coffee, brandy, Kahlua, cinnamon, caramelized sugar rim, fire.
The Wry Grin: rye, Fernet-Branca, lemon, bitters, mint.
Old Cuban: dark rum, lime, champagne, mint.
Deep Sleeper: 12-year rum, Cointreau, port, lemon.

There was a tequila one I was thinking about trying, too, but I don't see it on the website and I don't remember what was in it.

February 2nd, 2014

Here is why it bothers me that all the songs are about romantic relationships:

Because even though I'm sick and the weather sucks, I still choose to drive eight hours round-trip from Chicago to Ann Arbor to have dinner with a dear friend I haven't seen in over two years... and I hear "oh, are you two dating?"

Because I talk about my favorite hockey player, how invested I am in his success, how his incredibly distinct playing style helped me understand when I was first learning about hockey that the guys playing are not just interchangeable uniforms, that there are nuances to each player's game that make them special and interesting and worth distinguishing... and I hear "aww, you have a crush!"

Because I sometimes hold back from telling my friends how much I care about them for fear of being misinterpreted, and every time I realize I'm doing it I lecture myself about how ridiculous that is, but it's not entirely ridiculous, because it's true that affection will very often be interpreted as romantic interest.

Because I say I love and I hear so why don't you marry no matter the context, no matter the history, no clarifications asked, just knowing grins and assumptions all over the place.

I just want some different songs once in a while, I guess.

January 11th, 2014

Here is what I love about babies, all right. Adults, they see somebody do something they can't do, and they go: "Wow, that's amazing! I could never do that." Or sometimes: "Ooh, I'd like to learn how to do that someday." Babies, they see somebody do something they can't do, and they go: "Oh hey sweet, empirical evidence that this thing can be done! Move over, bitch, lemme try!" And then when they can't do it, they try again. And then they get frustrated, and take a break to scream, and then they eat something or sleep for a while, and then go: "Oh yeah, that thing! MAYBE I CAN DO IT NOW." You gotta admire that.
Tags: ,

December 26th, 2013

if only in my dreams

Add to Memories Share
neuron art
I'm in Chicago with my family for Christmas, and it's by far the longest I've spent with them in years. I'm actually not sure I've spent more than a week with any of these guys since I moved away around my seventeenth birthday. I've been sick for a few days, which sucks, but other than that it's been mostly good. I love my weirdo clan a lot. It's been nice to revisit all our family Christmas traditions, Mom's been cooking like a fiend and my stepdad has been baking my favorites, and my brothers have all grown into pretty cool people.

It's been interesting, though, to note the ways I've changed over the last few years. Like: Mike gets pretty much traumatized by yelling, so I've learned to be aware of when I'm about to lose my temper and tap out of the conversation before it reaches that point. And Mike knows that's what's happening, and doesn't push it. But that's not how we did it in my family growing up--arguments always continued long past the point of potential resolution. So now when I feel myself reaching a point where I can't communicate productively and I exit the situation, my family gets confused and irritated about it.

And my sense of humor has changed, or I suppose is in the process of changing. In this family, intelligence is valued above pretty much everything, and wit is the most common way to express intelligence. So if you think of something funny, you say it. Doesn't matter if it's gonna make someone feel bad, as long as it's funny enough to make up for it. This is something I still struggle with a bit myself, because instincts are hard to fight. But I am trying to fight them, whereas when I was younger I embraced the "it's okay to be an asshole if you're funny enough" philosophy.

And there are the trodden-toe situations. You know the metaphor: when you step on someone's toe by mistake, you don't tell them not to be hurt because you didn't mean it, and you don't argue about whether your foot had more of a right to occupy that space than theirs. You just apologize. This is one I think I've gotten a lot better at over the years, and it's kind of a jolt to be back in a place where being right is generally more important than anything else.

I think I was at least vaguely aware of most of this when I lived with my family, but I've changed in another important way since then: my values have had some time and space to settle, and I don't spend nearly as much time worrying about whether the thing I just insisted I believed was actually flat-out wrong. I'm pretty solid where I stand on this stuff. I might not be perfect about implementing my values, but I know what I'm aiming for. That's actually really reassuring. As is the fact that I know Mike is with me on all of this.

Like I said, I do love my family and I am very glad I'm here. It's just that there's this extra person floating around in the back of my head right now, the teenager I used to be, and I don't really get to check in with her that often, so I'm trying to take the opportunity to work through the things that might be important.

November 7th, 2013

(no subject)

Add to Memories Share
seattle gay pride
A big part of my growing-up process has been coming to terms with the fact that people change, and people grow apart, and even the closest relationships can't promise to last forever because it's impossible to know who you'll be and whether you'll fit in the future. Funny that I've never had any delusions about romantic relationships in this regard, but I have so much trouble shaking the belief that friendships are till-death-do-us-part. They certainly can last that long, but you can't promise they will. You can't know in advance which ones will.

I keep thinking I've learned this lesson, and I keep being wrong.

October 26th, 2013

I'm going clubbing tonight with some friends, and we're wearing costumes, kind of--in the sense of sexy tights and horns, not in the sense of actually attempting to depict anything. I pretty much don't wear makeup at all these days, but this is the sort of outfit that calls for it, so I decided I wanted some dark purple lipstick. Last time I bought lipstick that looked purple in the tube it actually turned out to be red, so first I googled "purple lipstick reviews" to find some pictures of people comparing different shades. I took notes on my phone organizing them in order of preference and trotted off to Target to buy me some facepaint.

Target had none of them. I asked if they had any dark purple at all, thinking I could google-image it on my phone, and the salesperson said no. No? Okay, there are like four colors that lipstick can be, right? Red, pink, brown, purple. Target has aisles and aisles of makeup and they only have three of the four options? That's like a Bed, Bath & Beyond that only sells beds and beyond.

She shrugged and offered me a shade of vaguely purplish red that was nowhere near what I wanted, then directed me across the street to Nordstrom with a warning that it would be expensive. I went warily, telling myself that if they tried to charge me more than twenty bucks I'd just use black eyeliner on my lips like I did at Pride.

I found Nordstrom's rack of MAC testers and blinked at them for a moment before asking someone else perusing them if she knew where the names were. A salesperson magically appeared as I asked the question (there was not even anything for her to have been hiding behind, I have no idea where the hell she materialized from) and plucked a tube from the rack to show me, as she and the other customer chorused with matching tones of disbelief, "They're on the bottom."

Oookay. Clearly I missed a few lessons in How To Be A Girl school. I checked a few of the darker tubes and found one marked "Cyber," my second choice. "How much is this?" I asked the salesperson.

"They're all fifteen dollars."

"Okay, I'll take it," I intended to say, but before I opened my mouth, she had once again vanished into whatever spacetime portal she clearly had at her disposal. I stood there awkwardly for a moment, trying to figure out what customer service protocol could possibly incorporate Disapparating right before an obvious sale. The other customer continued to browse, pointedly averting her eyes from me.

Eventually I tracked down another salesperson with a little more respect for the laws of physics and asked if they had my first-choice shade. "Hm," she said. "I don't think so. Do you know what collection that's from? It might have been limited-edition."

Lipstick comes in collections? There are four colors, how do they make collections out of that? "Sorry, I'm not sure," I said. "I'll just get the Cyber, then."

"Sure, I just need to finish up with my appointment and I'll get that to you in a minute."

Oh. You're supposed to make appointments to buy lipstick. I did not know that. "Take your time," I said, and stood around awkwardly some more. The other customer by the MAC rack had somehow summoned the first salesperson, who was doing something to one of the tubes. As I watched, she handed it over to the customer, who applied it directly to her lips. I began to wonder if there was a makeup acquisition user's manual somewhere I could consult.

Fortunately, the other salesperson reappeared with the Cyber before I managed to actively set anything on fire. She whisked me off to a register--she didn't actually touch me, but the way she guided me there was impressively forceful. As she rang me up, she complimented my week-and-a-half-old brick-and-mortar-patterned nails and asked if I wanted a bag.

I looked at my purchase dubiously. "Do people really ask for a bag for one tube of lipstick?" I asked.

"Well," she said. "It says MAC on it."

"Oh," I said, baffled, and stowed my new lipstick in the pouch of my flour-dusted Phoenix Coyotes hoodie.

Maybe next time I'll plan ahead and order this shit online.

July 31st, 2013

Garlic press reviews

Add to Memories Share
seattle gay pride
Excerpts from Amazon reviews for various garlic presses:

(from a review titled "My Special, Steely Friend") "I'm afraid I've developed an unhealthy relationship with this garlic press."

"This thing is built like a tank."

"I showed my fiancee how it works and she seems to be impressed."

"As others have reported here, the handle retains water that can drip out into your guacamole or other favorite dish. Alternatively, in your frustration, you can administer a thorough shaking to get the water out. Unfortunately that propels water drops all over your kitchen which can be a source of further aggravation. All-in-all, probably better to look elsewhere for your next garlic press -- unless you're into drama."

"As an added bonus, you could probably blackjack and knockout an intruder while holding this thing."

"I've retired my old garlic press to lesser, cruder duties."

Review title: "Anthony Bordain Be Damned"

"Since I bought this garlic press, I have been using more garlic than needed."

"This press is so awesome, sometimes I just press garlic for fun."

"Crushes garlic? No, it obliterates garlic."

"This smashes garlic like I WISH the Cleveland Browns could smash the Steelers. *sigh*"
Powered by