Hi Meri! I thought this would be an easier way to make recommendations, since I don't have to worry about a character limit and can embed links and do a little formatting.




Orientation



First things first. Let's get you oriented. This map of Manhattan neighborhoods is a good start. (Although the area just west of Times Square is more properly Hell's Kitchen than "Midtown West.")

The Financial District is where you'll find Wall Street, City Hall, etc. It's interesting to walk around, but other than gaping at all the tall expensive buildings, probably not too much for you.

Chinatown has gotten much bigger and pretty much swallowed Little Italy. You'll find some good restaurants here and a lot of stuff that's actually in Chinese. Patrick might be interested in walking around what's left of Little Italy, but I suspect he's already been there.

The other neighborhoods in downtown each have their own feel, but are mostly residential. Although you will find Forbidden Planet (a famous comic book shop) over near Union Square.

Times Square is filled with tourists 24/7. It's the part of the city you see in all the movies, and there are some cool stores with novelty items to explore. Midtown Comics (the city's other major comic book store) is in the area. You'll find all sorts of people from everywhere bustling through. City law states that every storefront in the area has to have a significant lighted sign (neon now giving way to LED displays), so even the police station, Army recruiting office, and McDonald's all look glitzy. It's worth visiting at night just for the experience. Be on the lookout for people dressed as popular characters. They're there to take pictures with tourists, but they expect tips in return and can get angry if you don't. (The people standing on the corner shouting about Jesus and the End of Days are best ignored.) Besides Broadway shows, you'll find comedy clubs, a video arcade, movie theater, and other entertainment. Do not look for restaurants here. You'll only find big chains selling mediocre junk food. There are also hop on/hop off bus tours available, and people on the street trying to sell you tickets. Don't do it.

Hell's Kitchen is just west of Times Square. (If you watch Daredevil, that's where it takes place.) The area used to be a hotbed of gang violence to the point that the police were afraid to set foot there. The story goes that a rookie cop being shown around said "This is Hell," and his partner said "No, it's worse. This is Hell's Kitchen" (as in the one place even more fiery than Hell) and the name stuck. That was a century ago, though. Now it's a nice neighborhood with pretty brownstone apartments and some really good restaurants.

Midtown East is the fancy shopping district. 5th Avenue in particular is just a row of high end stores. You'll also find Rockefeller Center, which has an underground shopping mall, outdoor ice skating rink, and more. I'll get back to that shortly, as it's my first recommended stop.

Central Park is huge and should definitely be explored. There's a lot to it. I think you'll like the Alice in Wonderland statues in their little playground. And it's just nice to step away from the bustle of the city into something more natural. At the southeast corner of the park, you'll find horse and buggies ready to take you for a romantic ride. Those are fun, but surprisingly expensive.

The Upper West Side is where my sisters live. It's mostly residential, although Broadway continues up this way with shops and restaurants. It's also where you'll find the Museum of Natural History.

The Upper East Side is also mostly residential, although you'll find the Met Museum here.

North of Central Park is Harlem and Spanish Harlem (labeled East Harlem on the map). You may know the area from watching Luke Cage. It's mostly a poorer neighborhood, although people like my evil uncle are trying to change that (in not very ethical ways).

Of course, there's more to NYC than Manhattan. I don't think you'll have much reason to explore the Bronx, but Brooklyn is where a lot of the artists, hipsters, and geeks who couldn't afford to live in Manhattan anymore moved. There are also enclaves of Eastern European (Georgia, Ukraine, etc) immigrants with their own neighborhoods. Astoria in Queens has a large Greek population.



Apps and Information



Nerd York City is a good place to look for geeky events and happenings.
The Not For Tourists guide comes in print or app form and has handy information about how to get around the city and what's where.
NYC GO has good general information. NYC.com is another good one to browse.
NYC.gov has the city events calendar.
Time Out New York has tourist information and events listings.



Getting Around



The subway is usually the best way to get around. The MyTransit app on Android is my favorite, as it has offline maps, a trip planner, and up to date information on delays and closures. The official city website is MTA.info.

Yellow taxis are heavily regulated. They all offer the same prices and services and can be readily found on major avenues. A lit sign on top means it's available. If the sign is not lit, that means the cab is either occupied or off duty. Hold your hand out, and they'll pull over for you. The drivers are notoriously aggressive, but they will get you directly where you're going.

Green cabs are a recent introduction. They're not allowed to pick anyone up in Midtown so they probably won't want to take you there (even though they are legally required to take you wherever you want to go in the city). They're meant to help make cabs more available uptown and in the outer boroughs. Prices are the same as the yellow ones.

Uber and Lyft both operate in the city under the supervision of the same Taxi & Limousine Commission as the yellow and green taxis. So, unlike other cities, drivers are somewhat regulated and given background checks. Lyft drivers are supposedly friendlier and chattier. I haven't tried them yet.

Buses will take the same Metrocard as the subway. They're cheap and readily available. But they stop often and, because they run along the busiest streets, are prone to getting caught in traffic.

If you're looking for a little more exercise, City Bike is run by the city government. Rent a bike from stands scattered across the city and return it to a different stand when you're done. It's scary biking through traffic, but it does get you where you're going.

Otherwise, walking will get you around. People on the streets will generally ignore you. This is a form of politeness. The city is so packed that personal space is at a premium. So you just sort of pretend that no one else exists and give everyone else the illusion of privacy. However, if you need help or directions, you can usually just stop anyone and they'll be friendly and helpful.

Tipping: 15-20 is the norm for restaurants and such. It's good for cabs, too, although you can also just do a few dollars. (Cabs, like most restaurants, let you pay by credit card and include the tip that way.) If someone is helping with your luggage (airport, hotel, taxi, etc.), $1/bag is the norm. A few dollars if someone brings something to your hotel room would not be amiss. Tipping is much more common and expected in the US.



Things To See and Do



I always start my out of town friends at Top of the Rock. That's the observation deck at the top of Rockefeller Center. There are also observations decks at The Empire State Building and The World Trade Center. Tickets to each will be about $50/person (give or take depending on the options you select). Top of the Rock is the 66th floor, whereas the ESB has decks on the 86th and 102nd floors and the WTC has a deck on the 102nd floor, as well. The view from higher up is a lot different, but I find that 66th floor is more than enough to get a good look around without everything becoming too small to see. Rockefeller Center has a great view of the Empire State Building (which you obviously can't see if you're at the ESB looking out) and the best view of Central Park. It's a great way to get a good look around and an understanding of what's where. The line at Top of the Rock is usually shorter, too. Make sure to look up when the elevator starts moving. (Note that there is a security check before you go up, so make sure you don't have a pocketknife or anything like that on you.)

Alternatively, there's The Rainbow Room. My sister got married in a previous iteration of the restaurant and bar. It's on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center, so just below the observation deck. And you don't have to buy tickets to go there. However, you probably need reservations and dinner is pricey. (I don't think you're much for cocktails at the bar.) It does have big plate glass windows to make the most of the city views, and you're indoors so you don't have to worry about the cold wind.

The Statue of Liberty is a NYC icon. It's relatively easy to get ferry tickets there. The ferry also takes you to Ellis Island, which is where many immigrants first arrived and is now a museum of immigration history. However, if you actually want to go inside the statue museum or climb up to the crown, you'll need reservations well in advance. You do get a nice view of the city from the top of the pedestal museum. Alternatively, the Staten Island Ferry is free and takes you closer to the statue than any of the paid tour boats. You can also get a good view of it from Battery Park at the southwestern edge of the financial district.

You may have seen the Roosevelt Island Tram in the first Spider-Man movie. It's run by the city and costs the same as a subway ride. Even uses the same Metrocard. There isn't much to see on Roosevelt Island itself, but the tram gives you a beautiful and unique view of Manhattan for a very low price. The island is nice for a bit of a walk, and it gives you the best view of the United Nations building.

The Metropolitan Museum Of Art (AKA The Met) is a beautiful museum filled with all sorts of neat stuff. Ancient Greek artifacts, medieval armor from Europe and Asia, an actual Egyptian temple (gifted to the museum in thanks for American help in saving the area from a flood), and more. They've also got a roof garden with a snack bar and a nice view of Central Park. The front of the building is gorgeous, especially at night.

The American Museum of Natural History is fascinating. (You may have seen it in Night At The Museum, which is a fun movie.) Dinosaurs. A life-sized blue whale hanging from the ceiling. The solar system. Gems and minerals. A room full of gold. An actual meteor. And the planetarium overseen by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Grand Central Station is ostensibly just a train station and subway hub, but it's beautiful. And bustling. And it has some neat shops and stuff. Worth exploring if you're in the area.

The Spy Museum is a museum about actual spies. I've been to a similar one in Washington DC and it was pretty cool. I haven't been to this one, but I hear good things. I think you'll like it.

The Intrepid Museum is an actual aircraft carrier parked near Midtown. They've got fighter planes from around the world, a submarine, a space shuttle, and more.

You should probably try to see a show while you're in town. Broadway.com is a good place to see what's playing and learn more about the shows. There is another way, though. TKTS sells off last-minute tickets. They're a lot cheaper than buying tickets in advance. But there's no guarantee they'll have anything for a show that you want, the lines can be long, and you'll have to be prepared to be spontaneous with your plans.

You might be interested in Geocaching. If you're not familiar... regular people leave hidden canisters in various places and fill them with small cheap trinkets. You might have to solve some puzzles to find one. Or the location might be listed directly. When you do find it, you sign the little visitor sheet tucked inside, take a souvenir, and leave a replacement trinket behind. There are caches tucked everywhere around the city.

Busking in the city: It's not allowed in the streets. Rules are more relaxed in Central Park. Wander around long enough and you'll probably find some performer or other. Many of them just doing it for the fun of it. Busking in the subway, however, requires a license. To get one, you have to audition, and there's a lot of competition. So the musicians you'll find in the major subway stations are usually pretty good.

Oh, and since you're staying in Weehawken, their public libary is beautiful.



Food



For restaurant reviews, you'll want to look at Zagats guide and Yelp.
Restaurant reservations can often be booked through Open Table.

Diners: There are many of them scattered around the city. Most of the better ones are run by Greek immigrants and offer things like gyros and greek salads alongside the usual diner fare of burgers and pasta. Stardust diner is more classic, gets good reviews, and has singing waitstaff. There's a list of some other possibilibies from Timeout NYC. There's a fair amount of overlap between that list and Eater's list. You can also just ask Google Maps for diners near you and see what you stumble upon.

Junior's is a local diner chain you might like. I didn't find the food to be anything special, but... they do pride themselves on their cheesecake.

Five Guys burgers & fries is a popular local chain. It's what it says on the label: Burgers and fries. They're good. And about the only place in Times Square I'd recommend.

Shake Shack is another local chain. Burgers, hot dogs, and milk shakes in a somewhat diner-like setting.

The thing about NYC is that it doesn't really have its own cuisine. (Other than maybe delis and proper pizza.) It's more that it's a city of immigrants, each bringing their own flavors and carving out their own small slice of home. Pick a country and you can probably find something from there. For example, you might be interested in the Hungarian Pastry Shop on the Upper West Side.

If you're on the go, don't be afraid to try something from a food truck parked next to the sidewalk. It's pretty impressive what they can do from inside a little truck.

Meske Ethiopian restaurant is always a treat for me. One of several good Ethiopian restaurants in the city. Order a couple of combination platters to share between the two of you. Food is served on top of basically a giant thick crepe. You get a big glop of each dish and a side of more crepes. Rip off some bread, scoop up what you want, and stuff it in your face. Really flavorful dishes with a range of vegetarian, chicken, beef, and lamb available. The nearby Queen of Sheba is also good and has fun native wicker tables available.

Gyu-Kaku has an interesting take on Japanese food. Order small amounts of meat and veggies and then cook them yourself using a fire pit in the middle of the table. They have three locations scattered around the city. It's not my favorite thing, personally, but it is good and an unusual experience.

Ninja restaurant looks interesting, though I haven't been there. I mean, come on. You can get fed by ninjas.

Kashkaval Garden is where I had my birthday dinner this year. They have fondue and Greek food in a beautiful setting.

Turkuaz is one of my favorites on the Upper West Side. It's Turkish food at reasonable prices in a relaxing atmosphere with good food and friendly service.

Zengo is one of several places in the city that offers all you can eat Sunday brunch. It's a little pricey, but you get a good variety of quality small plates. (You'll find a lot more brunch options in Brooklyn. It's the in thing there now.)

Speaking of all you can eat, there's Churrascaria Plataforma, a Brazilian steakhouse. For one flat fee, they'll keep bringing all sorts of roasted meats to your table and carve off as much or as little as you want. Serve yourself salad, potatoes, and other sides from the central buffet. I suspect this will be a little heavy for you, but it is nice to have that variety and freedom.

The Cheesecake Factory doesn't have any locations in Manhattan, but there are a few in the area. There's usually a long wait for a table and service is slow. But the food is really good. And their dessert menu is an entire page of cheesecake flavors. (There's one in San Jose, too. I'm planning to go there with Andvari at some point during TwitchCon.)

There's plenty more, of course. But much of the fun is exploring around and seeing what you find. This should be a good start for you, I think. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Have a great trip! Looking forward to meeting you when I get home from Colorado.



Philly



Erd can tell you more about Philly, but I've been there a few times. You'll mostly want to stick near the touristy stuff.

City Tavern is my favorite restaurant in the city. It's where the founders used to hang out after a long day of trying to write the Constitution. They use recipes from Martha Washington and Thomas Jefferson and others of their day. It's cozy, interesting, historic, and very good.

That is, of course, just down the street from Independence Hall, which was the original capital of the US and the location where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written. You can tour it.

The Franklin Institute is one of the cooler science museums I've found. Among other things, there's a giant replica of a human heart you can walk through.

Philly also has a charming Chinatown by the waterfront.

To get to Philadelphia from Weehawken, go to the Secaucus Junction train station. Take the Northeast Corridor train to Trenton. Northeast Corridor trains go from Penn Station in NYC (stopping at Weehawken along the way) down to Trenton, NJ. Transfer at Trenton to the SEPTA train, which will take you to Philly.
For the last year and change, most of my social life (such as it is) has been in the Twitch music community. I've "met" some awesome people there. And it's done me a lot of good to just have the beautiful live music to carry me through when I'm too sick to do literally anything else. So I'm tempted to try to go to TwitchCon this year. (It's in late October in San Jose.)

On the one hand, it's a great opportunity to meet some people who have become very special to me. And to hear them play live. It would mean a lot.

On the other hand, there are a lot of questions and drawbacks.

First off, health. (See the last couple of entries if you're not familiar.) Going to ECCC took a lot out of me. I was a flat out wreck for a week and a half when I got back.

Also, I don't stream. And I tend to lurk a lot in chat. And I've been missing a lot of streams lately. So I'm not sure how much a part of the community I really am at this point, let alone what I might be six months from now. Would I be going just to end up lurking off to the side? Would I be invited to the parties and sessions outside of the con? Would I be intruding? Would people busy trying to pack in all their own con plans even have time for me?

I don't know what I'd get out of the con itself. I'm not a gamer anymore. I certainly don't watch gaming streams. At all. I'd just be going for the music crowd. Who don't exactly get a lot of space and time at the con.

And then there's the hypersensitivity issue. All my nerves are hypersensitive. Which means bright lights, loud noises, high pitched noises, high bass/subwoofers, certain scents, and a myriad other things are all actively painful. And it's easy to become overwhelmed by too many voices speaking at once. At home, I have volume control and the ability to instantly get away if I need. And scents? Alcohol, tobacco, and perfume are high on the list. Even a trace of anything like that can feel like a spike up the nose. An open glass of wine at the far end of the table is enough. You can put on a dab of perfume in the morning, shower in the afternoon, walk across the room in the evening, and it'll still be painful to cross your footsteps several minutes later. (I'm not kidding. This has happened.)

I'm also not sure what this year is going to bring. I'll be moving out on my own for the first time within the next couple of months, and with chronic health issues, it's hard to say how that will go or what I'll be doing.

Oh, and it won't likely be cheap. I refuse to use Uber or AirBNB, for a variety of reasons.

Also, there's another (much smaller and cozier) convention that month that I might want to attend out on the west coast. And an as yet unscheduled event I'll need to attend in LA. Oh, and my mother's birthday is that month, too.

But this is a rare chance to meet people I care about. That's often worth it. If they have time for me, anyway. And I'm not struggling to breathe. And I'm awake enough to do things like sit up and speak out loud. Writing it all out, it seems crazy to even consider it. But it's still tempting. I could do it. But it would cost a lot, and I don't have a handle on what I'd get out of it. Could be awesome. Could be me just sitting in a corner with nothing to do, trying to shut out the pain. Could be anything in between.

I'm not sure what to do. (Did I mention my executive function is impaired, making it really hard to take in multiple factors in order to make a clear decision.) Any thoughts? You can comment here even if you don't have an account. (Though please let me know who's writing.) Or you can ping or message me on Discord or Twitch.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Oct. 10th, 2017 02:47 am)
Please brainstorm with me.

What's been going on:


Here's the story so far. It's a few pages long, which I realize is considered a wall of text when you're reading on a screen. (In any other context that would be fairly short. Weird how our perceptions work.) Skim it or whatever you need. But context matters. If you're going to help, you should know where I'm coming from, what I've been through, what I've tried, etc.

The short version is that I've got chronic illness, I'm over the hill, and I'm stuck trying to figure out what to do with myself to make a meaningful life.

The following lists will probably be updated as more things come to mind, but here's the overview:

What I'm trying to do:


  • Find a way to be productive.
  • Find a way to make a positive difference in the world. Better, happier, fairer.
  • See if I can start a business that can at least help support me so I'm not reliant on my family's generosity for the rest of my life.


What I've Got Going For Me:


  • I can listen to people, sympathize with them, and try to be supportive. I have patience and a willingness to try to see different points of view.
  • I have enough money available to maybe start a small business.
  • I can often write clearly to express ideas even when I'm too exhausted to think.
  • I've got an above average knowledge and comprehension of science, politics, and various random subjects. I've got a pretty good memory for concepts I've learned, and I can usually explain them in ways that make sense to people.
  • I've got a loving family and good friends who try their best to be understanding and supportive.
  • My immune system kicks butt, and not just my own.
  • I can sew stuffed animals and pillows. (Though I spend more on materials than I could possibly sell them for.)
  • Puns just come naturally to me. My brain likes to make odd connections between random things.
  • I don't have a wheelbarrow here, but I could probably get one. It's worth listing among our assets. (I do not, however, have a flammable cloak.)


My Limitations:


  • I'm physically exhausted. Getting less than 9 hours of sleep in a night can mess me up for days. It's not uncommon for me to be so weary I can't sit up, can hardly draw breath, am really woozy, etc. On a good day, I can walk a mile or so. But I'll pay for it the next day. On a bad day, I can spend the entire day crashed on the couch, barely functional. I cannot, in general, predict when I'll have good or bad days. A string of bad days can last for months or longer.
  • Attempting to exert myself, mentally or physically, exhausts me frighteningly fast. That can include keeping up with realtime conversations, particularly via audio instead of text.
  • My nerves are hypersensitive. I'm constantly in pain. Bright lights, loud noises, high pitched noises, physical contact, etc. etc. are painful. More some days than others. But a friendly slap on the back can ache for several minutes. On rough days, I'm sensitive enough that people making small sounds halfway across the house, though a closed door, while I'm wearing high-end noise dampening ear protectors designed for the gun range, can still be overwhelming.
  • I've got a non-24 "free running" sleep schedule, meaning that I'm awake different hours from week to week. I generally average a 25 hour day, but it can be hard to predict more than a couple of weeks in advance (at best) what hours I'll be awake. Makes regular commitments very difficult.
  • Due to the exhaustion, it can be hard to focus mentally, and I can't maintain focus for long.
  • I'm somewhat dyslexic. (It runs in the family, but I can never remember on which side...) Possibly related is a difficulty translating information from one form to another. It makes coding and diagrams very difficult.
  • I've also got various other autoimmune disorders. Diabetes, hypothyroidism, alopecia totalis (i.e. no hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes).


What I'm Looking For:


  • Practical advice for what I can do.
  • Brainstorming for what kind of business I can start that would employ others in a way that makes a positive impact on the world and generates income for me.


What I'm Not Looking For:


  • "Buck up. Others have it worse." Irrelevant. Yes, you can always find someone who has it worse than you. That doesn't mean that your own struggles aren't real. I'm dealing with my life. My limits. My needs. I'm dealing mentally as best I can. But I need actual practical solutions. Being told to just cheer up and/or get over it is unhelpful.
  • "Have you tried this cure/treatment?" I've been at this for decades. I've worked with more doctors than I can count. We've done research. I've tried medications and treatment regimens. I've explored some "alternative" treatments. I know how to meditate. I'm doing the best I can for myself. Medical marijuana isn't for me and it's not a magical cure-all. If you've got some suggestion that's got actual clinical evidence, I'll consider it. But odds are I've already tried it or been advised by a medical professional that it doesn't apply to my individual case.
  • "Seek professional help." I've tried. Psychiatrists, psychologists, antidepressants, a hypnotherapist. It hasn't been helpful. And it's not what I'm looking for now. I need to address the root issue.
  • Unhelpful or negative comments. I'll ignore them. Spam and trolling will be deleted.


Anyone can comment. I'll respond as I can, if I have something to say. You do not have to have an account or log in to comment, but if you comment anonymously I would appreciate it if you would tell me who you are. If you're not comfortable doing that, I understand.

You can also sign in using OpenID. You should be able to use your WordPress, Blogspot, AOL, Yahoo, LiveJournal, or other participating account to sign in here. You just need your provider's OpenID URL and to be logged in at that provider. For more information, you can try OpenID Explained or the Wikipedia article. (Yeah, I know. You probably haven't used any of those services in years. But the option is there if you want.)

Alternatively, you can message me on Discord (WearsHats) or Twitter (@hataroni) or email me (hatman at dreamwidth dot org). I'd prefer to keep everything here in one place, especially since it allows people to review what others have said and bounce ideas around. But if public comments don't work for you, I'll take them where I can.

You may share this post if you think doing so would bring in helpful responses.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Mar. 20th, 2016 03:44 am)
The last 5 months, in a large nutshell:

You know that feeling when you're totally exhausted after a really long day (or maybe first thing in the morning after a rough night, before you've had a chance to get coffee), and you just can't handle anything? It's hard to think, hard to move. Just totally wiped. All you want from people is to be left alone because the tiniest request for attention is overwhelming.

Now imagine that several times worse.

Now imagine that, on top of that, you've got a condition where all your nerves are hypersensitive. To the point that a friendly pat on the back can leave a stinging ache that lingers for several minutes. So that moving through the world is a constant question of "is doing this worth the pain it will cause?" And your brain is so exhausted from all the constant noise that it's hard to think, and everyday noises and interactions can easily become overwhelming.

Now remember that when you get really tired in the way I described at the beginning, your nerves become hypersensitive and it's really hard to concentrate or hold a train of thought, and little things can easily become overwhelming. Now imagine that problem amplifying the chronic hypersensitivity you're already dealing with as a baseline.

Put that all together.

Exhausted. Overwhelmed. So woozy you can hardly sit up for hours at a time. Beyond hypersensitive. So tired you can hardly find the strength to breathe. There are times when you can feel the strain of your rib muscles just to keep going. Trying to muster the concentration to put words together, remember what you're trying to say, endure the pain and fatigue of pushing your ribs to take a deep breath, and coordinating the muscles of your voice box all at the same time is like running a juggler's marathon. You can't read a book because it's too hard to sustain focus to follow the plot. You can't watch half of what's on TV because it takes more concentration than you have to spare. You sit in the living room with the door closed, and the sound of someone gently clattering dishes halfway across the kitchen is like thunder. Just the weight of having someone physically in the same room becomes oppressive.

Then some doctor says, "Oh, it's a flare-up. If you could only get moving, you'd be fine." Except that it feels nothing like a flare-up, and you've never had one that lasted a week, let alone four months. But there's nothing else on the table, so you roll with it. He gives you a steroid. Now you've got chest pains. Your blood sugar is soaring. (That causes extra wooziness. Also, your brain is trying race because you've got a sugar rush, except it can't because it's too exhausted to handle anything.) And now you can't sleep because the blood sugar spikes and chest pains keep waking you up.

You can't think. You can't move. You can't breathe. Literally everything is overwhelming, and most of it is painful. You struggle to find something that will just let you zone out until you can try to sleep again.

You lie there, trapped, as your mind falls apart from sleep deprivation. You want to scream from the depths of your soul from the existential horror of watching your very self shrink and hollow and crumble, but you're too worn out to breathe. So you bury yourself in whatever you can tolerate, and try not to think. Which mostly works, except when you get too woozy to even watch cartoons.

But you're so experienced at putting this stuff into words and slowly typing out coherent sentences even when your head is spinning and you can hardly see straight that people have trouble believing you.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Feb. 15th, 2016 05:10 am)
Things Donald Trump said in this weekend's Republican Primary debate:

  • The Iraq war was a huge mistake, and you shouldn't vote for someone who couldn't admit that until last year.

  • There were no WMD in Iraq.

  • The Bush administration knew that, and they lied us into a disastrous war that cost us trillions of dollars and netted us nothing.

  • The Iraq war destabilized the Middle East, bringing about the current situation.

  • We shouldn't cut funding to Planned Parenthood because, while he's against abortion, they do a lot of good work for women's health.

  • You can't just say that "Bush kept us safe" when 9/11 happened on his watch, and he ignored warnings from his own administration's CIA.


Man, that kind of reality-based rhetoric is going to kill his poll numbers. He's got to get out there ASAP and say something insane, hateful, or shockingly offensive (preferably all three) if he's going to have any chance of undoing the damage and winning over the GOP base.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Dec. 23rd, 2015 05:17 am)
Conversation with a friend sort of led to the creation of a new icon. Feel free to share/use/whatever.



Description: Robotic dog K-9 from Doctor Who. Caption reads DOG MATIC.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (HatMan)
( Jul. 2nd, 2015 09:53 pm)
A decade or so back, Marvel did a miniseries about Daredevil's early career. Daredevil's original costume was yellow, so the book was titled "Daredevil: Yellow." (And that really influenced the coloring of the comic. One of the little things I loved about the Netflix series is that they took a cue from that book and had a lot of yellow backgrounds, with the gradual introduction of bits of red towards the end.)

That became something of a tradition for Marvel. In the years since, they've done flashback miniseries about other characters, each named for a color prominent in that character's costume. Spider-Man: Blue, and so on.

More recently, Marvel made a big move by depowering Steve Rogers and having his longtime partner, Sam Wilson (The Falcon) take over as Captain America. You may recall the media buzz over a year ago about the new Captain America being a Black man.

Right now, Marvel is in the midst of what may be their largest event yet, resetting the entire multiverse to introduce a new, more up to date status quo. Spider-Man will be Miles Morales, the biracial teen who took over as Spider-Man in the Ultimate universe, there will be more emphasis on female characters, including an all-female team of Avengers, a spotlight on the new Ms. Marvel, a Muslim girl, and so on. On the other hand, while Logan himself will be dead, there will be two characters who go by Wolverine. Because you can never have enough Wolverine, apparently.

It's not clear yet what will happen with many other characters. The event is just starting, and Marvel themselves may not have decided. But they did announce a new flashback miniseries about Captain America's early days in WWII.

See if you can spot the problematic part of that.

I really wonder what they were thinking.



(Description:

Text: Captain America
Image: Steve Rogers as Captain America shouts as he powerfully holds up his shield.
Text: WHITE)
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jun. 28th, 2015 06:27 pm)
I don't know how much this will help, but I'm going to try to clarify some things.

1. Drug testing welfare recipients is a bad idea. Florida implemented this law. Very, very few of recipients tested positive. The state ended up paying out orders of magnitude more in testing fees than they "saved" by withholding the pittance from the few who did test positive. And the tests are prone to false positives. Eat a poppy seed bagel a week before the test, and it will show positive because it can't tell the difference between lingering opiates from that and traces of heroin. It's just a further indignity and bureaucratic hurdle heaped upon people who are already having to swallow their pride and ask for help. The law has been a disaster for everyone involved except the woman who owns the company that does the tests... Who just happens to be the governor's wife.

2. The Confederate flag is racist. I cannot believe this is in dispute. The leaders of the Confederacy made it explicitly clear that they were fighting for the right to subjugate Blacks and keep them as slaves. The Confederacy were also traitors, starting the bloodiest war in American history against the legitimate Federal government with the goal of breaking the country apart. The flag itself did not go up on state capitols until the 1960s, as a direct protest against desegregation, and as a visible symbol of the entrenched power of Whites over Blacks. Oh yes, and in much of Europe, where swastikas are banned, the Confederate flag is used by neo-Nazis as a proxy. Just in case you had any doubts about how racist it is. And that attitude and the symbol of the flag itself directly inspired the Charleston shooting.

3. The rainbow flag, on the other hand, is a symbol of pride from an oppressed minority. People who are asking for equal treatment, protection, and respect. They're not out to hurt anyone or take anything away from anyone. Rights aren't a zero sum game. Giving them to others doesn't deprive you of anything.

4. Marriage is a legal contract. It's entirely in the government's hands. A church can preform a wedding, and that's within the laws of the religion. But a marriage is a matter for the state. And, in this country, we have separation of church and state. No one gets to impose their religion, especially not when it means taking rights away from others.

5. That your religion describes homosexuality as a sin is irrelevant. In my religion, pepperoni pizza is a sin. It is an abomination before the Lord to eat the meat of a pig. And even worse when you cook that meat with dairy. Guess what? I don't get to outlaw it. I can't tell you that you're not allowed to eat it because my religion forbids it. I don't get to impose that on you. My religion applies to me and those of my faith. No one else. And it has no place in secular law.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jun. 28th, 2015 06:26 pm)
A friend on FB was looking at all the happy rainbows and lamenting that the culture and laws of her own country are still so incredibly homophobic. This is what I told her. (The "posts just like this one" at the end refers to her OP about thinking her country should be more accepting, and wishing it were so.)

Here's the thing.

In the early 80s, rampant homophobia was so much the norm that I would not let my father kiss me on the cheek because I'd internalized how terrible it was for a man to kiss another male.

In the mid-80s, mainstream broadcast news was pretty sure that if a woman turned up HIV positive, it must have been because her husband had been hanging around gay bars. Anchors noted in passing that there were respected clergy who were convinced that AIDS was a punishment from God for all the dirty icky sinful things gay people did. And everyone knew that a stable gay relationship was one where you stayed with the same man for the whole night.

In the 90s, a major question in the news and in Congress was what to do about the discovery that gay men wanted to serve in the armed forces. On the one hand, there were those who didn't want to exclude anyone willing to fight, but there were many who felt it would be inappropriate and hurt morale and destroy unit cohesion. Eventually, over many objections, we got the compromise of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Which seemed pretty fair at the time. Just stay in the closet and no one needs to worry. Problem solved!

In 2008, on the same night Obama was elected, thanks to a massive ad campaign financed by the Mormon church, marriage equality (still a fairly new idea that only the most Liberal states were even trying) was repealed by popular vote in California.

And now, here we are. DADT is gone, and we have nationwide marriage equality.

But DADT was a hard fight. And it's only in the last couple of years that marriage equality gained a tenuous majority of popular support. It was passed by various state legislatures, but never won on an open ballot. It had to be imposed by the courts. And still there are many deeply opposed.

We've got a long way to go. But look at how far we've come. In one generation.

And I think a fair amount of that came from the Internet, which gave people a place to find support, make connections, build a movement... And expose the populace to a new narrative, new realities. To openly gay friends.

Change is possible. And it starts with posts just like this one.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (HatMan)
( May. 25th, 2015 02:23 pm)
I've finally bought out a restaurant and leased the space!

My manager did his first interview with a local news blog last week. (I see someone named Frank is skeptical of us. We'll do our best to be neighborly and earn his trust.)

So excited that we can actually start building and creating!

We had our first party this weekend. I met some of our new neighbors and one of our future bartenders and showed my family around the place. It was a lot of fun. Especially seeing my nieces and nephews' enthusiasm.

We've registered our domain name and are beginning to set up some social media accounts. We've got plans to redecorate the place. We're looking for a chef. After two years of waiting and false starts, we're finally moving, and moving fast!
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Apr. 28th, 2015 05:48 pm)
The pollen this year is killing me. At least, I think and hope it's the pollen. Even staying entirely indoors with all the windows shut and the air filters on and everything, it's hard to sit up, let alone keep a train of thought going. Which is not good because we're trying to get all the paperwork in order to set up a lease deal. Not a good time for me to be out of commission. It also means I'll be missing a rare chance to meet [personal profile] cesy and possibly some others.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Apr. 20th, 2015 11:50 am)
Summary of most of the last 18 months:

They adjusted my meds for one reason or another. It went badly. We undid the change, I got better. Just in time to try something new. Which went badly. Rinse and repeat.

Latest change is an increase in my Lyrica (the one thing that's been any help with my sleep or the fibro pain). I didn't feel anything for the first day or two, but then spent most of Saturday too lightheaded to do much of anything. Yesterday, I still wasn't feeling right, but better than before. Sleeping more than usual, but that could be a sign that the Lyrica is helping me sleep more deeply. I hope that's it.

At least I was well enough to make it to my cousin's wedding. Which is good in that everyone was glad to see me and the bride was very grateful I could make it and I got to spend a little time with my nieces and nephews.

Only problem is that the band had their amps turned up to 11. My phone's (somewhat unreliable) sound meter app tells me they clocked in at 85 decibels, which is on the edge of what can cause permanent hearing damage. (I suspect the band has long since gone half deaf from doing this every weekend.) Fortunately, I carry a bag of earplugs with me wherever I go (hypersensitive ears, thanks to the fibro). Which is still not as well-prepared as my uncle was. He brought two pairs of high-end noise-dampening ear cup protectors. Wish I'd thought to bring mine.

Managed to have a good time, though.

Still waking up today. Kind of fuzzy-headed. But better than this time yesterday. I think my body is adjusting to the increased dosage. Then we'll get to see if there's any benefit to it. That would be a nice change.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Mar. 18th, 2015 12:20 pm)
For the record, I'm still here and still reading. Life since January last year has mostly consisted of me not sleeping and/or dealing with side effects. (With the notable exception of a thrilling but exhausting August.) Stuff has been happening around me, but I've pretty much been too bleary to do much about it.

Good things are on the horizon, but I don't want to jinx anything before it's actually in black and white. I'll try to update more when I'm feeling better and actually have something solid to say.
My niece needed to do a presentation for school dressed as 16th century Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama, pictured below:

Vasco Da Gama )

Sis emailed me to ask if I had an appropriate hat, but the closest thing I could find was my pumpkin beret, which is roughly the right shape, but entirely the wrong colors and also adult sized. But I had some black fabric from a previous project lying around. I went to the craft store, picked up a few things, looked up hat sizes online, and got to sewing. I used the pumpkin as a model, but sized everything to roughly 90% of the adult measurements.

Finished hat )


It came out a little smaller than I'd intended, but it fit. Niece was thrilled. Said it looked "perfect" and "awesome." Also she said she loved the pompom on top, and it looked "so pompomy." This is the girl who, at 9 years old, already makes her own (very stylish and professional-looking) pocketbooks and dresses using her sewing machine, and will happily strut like a model to show them off.

I spent two days making that. (Would have gone a lot faster if I hadn't done it by hand, but I didn't want to use Mom's antique sewing machine without her.) It was worth it, no question. Niece absolutely loves it. (My other niece was impressed and told me I was making her Halloween costume. I said sure and asked what she wanted. She said she usually decides the day before...) I finished it as a rush job, putting the last few seams together on the train into the city. I was still working on the last touch when she arrived at my sister's apartment. It was a crazy thing to do, but it was fun. One might almost say I'm mad as a hatter...
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jan. 21st, 2015 08:17 pm)
Been off the Hetlioz for a week now.

It has been a week of living Hell.

I've hardly been able to move. I feel more dead than alive. I'm too lightheaded and woozy to think. Or do much of anything. I saw my GP yesterday. He was really impressed with how absolutely fucked up I was. Nearly passed out in the chair as he was ordering my prescriptions. Almost couldn't get off the exam table by myself. Nearly collapsed while the secretary got the bill ready. (I stumbled over to a chair and let Dad take care of it.)

I can't tell if I'm getting any better because my memory is shot, too. The whole week is less than a blur.

I keep thinking of things like Batman getting his ass kicked by Bane. Batman is dead on his feet, having utterly exhausted himself. And Bane just beats the [preferred euphemism here] out of him. "I wonder which will break first - your body or your spirit?" That's how I feel.

I'm too tired to live.

Just surviving hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute, in the faint hope that this will get better and I can go back to merely feeling sick and tired. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up.
Tags:
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jan. 18th, 2015 03:29 pm)
1. I posted to the therapy dog page to let them know about Henry. Got a lot of sympathy (which I appreciated, but was still hard to handle).

1a. Apparently, the meme there is that dogs go over the Rainbow Bridge. They have a picture of a whole bunch of dogs on a grassy field at the end of a rainbow, captioned "The Rainbow Bridge Greeting Committee." Which is kind of cool, but... Valhalla is for great warriors who died in battle, who are collected to be an army of the dead to fight in the last battle. They spend their days hacking each other apart in glorious battle, and their nights partying. That's... not Henry.

1b. I got a sympathy card in the mail yesterday with his name and picture on the front. It was sweet and unexpected, but got me choked up again. Tearing up a bit now. He was a good friend.

2. Had my appointment with the sleep doctor on Wednesday. I told her the schedule wasn't sustainable and not worth the price. I'm now off the Hetlioz and back on a free-running schedule. She's looking into other medications and gave me a referral to another specialist.

2a. Getting off the Hetlioz felt like hitting the finish line on a marathon. I just collapsed. Slept 11 hours the first night, and have been deep in recovery mode since. I'm far more worn out than I'd realized. Yesterday, I had breakfast over an hour later than I should because I was too tired to even lift my head off the pillow.

2b. (Or not.) This means I'm even more hypersensitive than usual, my brain is such a soggy mess I can't even think of an analogy that accurately conveys how hard it is to think, and my emotions are raw and mercurial. It's the "I want to grab something by the throat and punch it in the face for no reason, but I'm too tired to move" phase of exhaustion/recovery. Yay.

3. Naturally, as I'm dealing with all of the above, a possible real estate location shows up, and I'm being rushed along faster and five steps ahead of where I can think by someone who keeps missing or talking past the main point of whatever in trying to say at the time. I'm not sure whether to be afraid, pissed off, resentful, or cautiously optimistic.

3a. It's taken far too long to find a space. We've had too many deals fall through. I want to get started already. But I'm not sure about the place, and I'm in no condition to handle any of it.

3b. But it seems like the second I say "Okay, maybe we can take half a step forward. I'm not even barely functional, but I want to at least keep the option open" I get hit with a long list of things that need to be done ASAP so we can charge ahead.

4. Time to get moving so I can listen in on a meeting to which I likely have nothing to contribute and am also likely not to be able to process.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jan. 14th, 2015 10:58 am)
I'm officially off the Hetlioz. It was nice to be able to keep a regular schedule, but I just couldn't sleep regularly. Too many nights where I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep, and that was taking too heavy a toll. (No telling how it'll work for anyone else, such as [personal profile] synecdochic.)

Doc gave me a referral to another specialist, and will look into some other possibilities.

Meantime, I need to catch up on sleep. Three hours last night.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jan. 12th, 2015 04:34 pm)
As for myself...

I'm exhausted. My body has been fighting the Hetlioz. I can fall asleep at roughly the same time every night, but for a long time I wasn't sleeping well. Got the sleep study moved up. Took care of that last week. I have an appointment on Wed (first thing in the morning, unfortunately) to go over the results with the doc. But it's worn me down and I don't think it's sustainable.

Didn't get enough sleep last night, and I'm really freaking tired. But for the four nights before that I slept 10 hours a night... and still was so tired I could barely function. Spending far too many days too tired to get out of bed until lunchtime, if then. Yes, it's nice to be on a daytime schedule, but not at this price. Not if it means I'm too tired to do anything.

In other news... my dog has an appointment tomorrow afternoon. His last. He's old and tired and in pain and can't stand up on his own anymore and is turning away from taking his pills and doesn't seem to be getting much out of life and... it's time. Dammit. At least we got a really good decade with him. He's been the best dog I could hope for. Kindhearted, generous, intelligent, loving. I wish we'd gotten him his therapy dog license sooner, because he loved going out on visits but got too old and arthritic to keep them up after only a year or so. He was there for my grandparents in their last years. He was there for my nieces and nephews as they grew up.

Unfortunately, one of my nieces grew up to be allergic, so, even though she loved him as much as any of us, we're not getting another dog after this. It's going to be really strange here. And probably kind of tense.

I'll miss him. He's been the best.

Excuse me. Going to sit here and cry for a while.
hatman: HatMan, my alter ego and face on the 'net (Default)
( Jan. 12th, 2015 02:18 pm)
(I will never get over how weird and wrong it feels to type that instead of "Spider-Man.")

Marvel Comics' latest big event is Spider-Verse, which is touted to include "every Spider-Man ever" in at least some role. (Many of them have been killed off on the same page they've been introduced.) One of the latest issues featured the version from the 1978 Japanese TV series, which got some people excited. So Marvel, which had previously published all 42 episodes of the series on their website back in 2009, put up a blog post about how cool this all was and reminded people that the show was available to stream from them.

The blog post links the first episode, but it turns out the links to the other episodes are mostly broken and/or difficult to find.

It can be done, though. So I'm collecting the links here. Mostly for my own reference, but hey, some of you might be interested, too. The series is pretty interesting, actually, if you like the idea of a Spider-Man (excuse me, Spiderman) who got his powers from the extract of the blood of an alien from Planet Spider and who spends his time fighting an alien invasion of Earth which has been slowly brewing underground for 400 years with no one noticing.

More about the show )

Episode links )
.