dal niente

Month: January, 2016

After school specials

I don’t know if this is still a thing, but when I was a kid, I’d finish school and get home to my grandparents’ place at about 4pm. My parents would normally come and pick my sister and I up at about 7 to go home. Usually around that time, you’d have the afternoon kids’ programming– the highlight of the day sometimes to see what happened after “To be continued…” from that rare multi-episode story arc of Transformers or GI Joe.

I don’t know if that’s still a thing. Kids can now stream instantly. There is no particular window of opportunity to watch a show, after which, the thing is gone and missed. If you missed the episode, you couldn’t even find it anywhere, because there was no archive of these things online, because there was no online.

The commoditisation of entertaiment is one of the big things that has developed over the last decade– but even more amazing is how our time has been comoditised. This ties in with other things that we never though that we could make any more convenient– like the timing of our mood.

Consider this– if there was a television show you liked on television on Friday at 8pm, that was what you watched on Friday at 8pm. It didn’t matter if you weren’t in the mood for that drama, or that romance, or that detective thriller– it only shows once, and that’s it. Once you’ve missed it, the only way to catch it again would be on DVD. It didn’t matter if you weren’t in the mood– that was that.

The model has now shifted– it’s seldom now that anyone will watch anything that they’re not in the mood for. I have Netflix– I don’t watch things based on title but based on what mood I’m in now.

Does this ability to instantly have what we want have an affect on us I wonder? Does this have an effect on our mental toughness I wonder? On are ability to put up with things that we’re not in the mood for? To see silver linings? To change our minds and simply make the best of what we have in front of us?

The weight of Legacy

I wasn’t in the very very first generation of videogamers. By that, I mean that I wasn’t a child who grew up in arcades where you could play Space Invaders or, even a few years after that, the original Donkey Kong games.

But I did grow up on the end life of a Commodore 64, Nintendo, and spent my formative years on a PSX. Aside from the PSX, I’ve owned a PSOne, a couple of Playstation 2s, a Playstation 3, an Xbox 360, a Wii, a Nintendo DS, and a Nintendo 3Ds– just to say that I’ve played quite a bit, and quite consistently over the last couple of decades. Here and there I’ve also been a bit of a PC gamer.

Before I ever even considered starting out in martial arts, I was long before then a gamer.

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There are a lot of huge serieses that have come and gone over the years, and every now and then I look back and consider the effect that the nostalgia has on my continued purchase of new games in the series. Am I getting what I wanted? Am I romanticising and making those old games and old experiences better than they were? And are game developers now coming to that same situation as literary and comic book writers– where central themes and mechanisms have been exhausted, and we’re left with  putting together combinations of tropes?

 

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Since December 2015, the games that I’ve been picked up include:

  • Halo 5: Guardians (finished)
  • Fallout 4 (started, but resold before finishing)
  • Walking Dead Season Two (started, but currently playing)
  • Valliant Hearts (currently playing with [CM])
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider (currently playing)

As a placeholder to myself, these are the games that I’ll be reviewing over the next few weeks.

Excuses

It is true that, fundamentally, males and females are biologically different. I’m not talking about this stereotype that ‘men are stronger than women’, because, frankly, as a martial artist, I know plenty of strong women. As an ordinary member of society, I also know a hella lot of weak men.

What I do acknowledge is that women physically are the sex capable of bearing and nursing children. Anything else? Mostly social social reinforcement. The cultural acceptance of associating a ‘motherly instinct’ with women, as somehow special from a genderless  ‘parental instinct’, is just that– cultural acceptance, backed up by a lot of reinforcement.

Yes, there is research that says maternal instinct is a ‘thing’ because of the way men and women ‘think differently’. I don’t really think that default positions really get in the way of practice if we try though.

So why is it such a bad thing for a dad to stay at home and take care of the children?

Why is it such a bad thing for women to get the same pay as men?

Roomies

(aka flatmates)

It’s been a long time since I moved out from my parents place, and since then, I’ve moved a fair amount of times. I’ve also had a fair number of room mates, until I came to live only with [CM].

Because our apartment has an extra room, we’re often host to friends and family passing through Sydney– people stay the night, or a few weeks. We don’t usually charge, unless its for an extended period of time.

Money is one thing– being a good roommate is another though. I don’t want to be negative, but if you’ve ever lived with others, you’ll know that domestic dynamics are really important. If you can’t finish work and come home to a relaxing space, life just sucks that much more.

To put a positive spin on this, lets frame what would otherwise be a hatefest into… advice. Advice for people who are living with others as a guest, or on a longer term basis as a roommate. A lot of this has is equally applicable if you are going to live on your own.

Or at the very least, advice on how not to cross my pet peeves. These are a collection of general guidelines or “rules” that I’ve talked to roomies about over the years.

In the kitchen

Do your dishes.

If there is a dishwasher, stack your dirty dishes in them properly. Properly doesn’t mean just putting things in there– it means putting things in there in a way that conserves space so that you can fit in more things, and so that things get cleaned. I kid you not– I’ve had a roommate who thought that you could put an tupperware oriented container-upwards (after the machine ran, there was a tupperware full of dishwater). They just threw it in there, as if it would all sort itself out.

After the dishwasher is done, put those dishes back in their proper place.

If there is no dishwasher, your dishes should not be in the sink for more than  a day at most– it’s hard for others to cook if they keep having to work around your crap.

Treat kitchen equipment properly.

  1. Knives should never be just thrown dirty in the sink– they lose their edge, and are dangerous. If you have any respect for a knife, clean it after use and store it right away.
  2. Never stack things on top of non-stick pans. It scratches them, and then they’re not so non-stick anymore. Even if it’s expensive stainless steel, don’t scratch it.

Take out the trash.

Everyone should do this simply whenever they can. I have had roomies who simply assumed that because others did it, they wouldn’t have to. That’s bullshit– nobody likes taking out the trash. Everyone should do it.

Don’t stack things on top of pots and pans.

They get scratched when you do. And you know those non-stick coatings? The pan becomes a hella lot less nonstick when you scratch that coating off.

Similarly, when cooking, don’t use metal utensils.

Don’t sharpen my knives without asking.

I know you’re trying to help, but just because there is a steel in the knife block doesn’t mean you know how to use it.

 

In the bathroom

Change the toilet paper rolls

Don’t just use all of it and leave the empty cylinder. Throw that cylinder out. And if it’s not quite finished? Find a new roll and leave it somewhere nearby.

Shared stuff

Communicate with your roomies about the costs and value of the shared stuff. That means that if someone brings a TV to the communal, maybe someone else should pay for the chairs. To have all the furnishings be used by everyone but owned  (and more importantly, paid) by an individual is just not fair.

Conserve water

You really don’t need two half-hour showers per day. Actually, in the majority of cases, dermatologists say that you can get perfectly clean taking a 5 minute shower, and you don’t even have to do it every day (although if you’re a sporty person, you probably should). Using about 2 hours of hot water per day is just ridiculous.

Conserve electricity

You probably don’t need the air conditioning on full blast while you’re sleeping at night. You probably don’t need it running while there’s nobody home. And you probably don’t need to leave all the lights on while you’re in a single room by yourself.

Don’t clog the internets

I’ve lived with people who were downloading torrents non-stop, and that meant that nobody else could even watch a youtube video without it stuttering. Not only is eating up the monthly bandwith cap a shit thing to do, it’s annoying when others are simply trying to use the internet for simple thing. Throttle your usage, and figure out when’s a good time when nobody will mind the congestion.

About sleeping

Learn to walk lightly on your feet to not wake people up.

Don’t slam doors.

Don’t kick the fridge shut.

Don’t bang plates or make a racket with dishes.

If there’s a risk that others are sleeping, maybe that’s not the best time to watch television really loudly or to invite people over.

Maybe you should be considerate and not skype at 1 or 2 in the morning.

Maybe you should stop showing up at home drunk.

 

About chores

Clean the place. Sweep and vacuum, especially if you’ve dropped something.

Don’t leave your stuff in communal areas.

If you use tissue papers, throw them in the goddamn trash.

If you drink things, put the cups in the dishwasher. Empty cans, bottles and drink packs? What do you think?

Don’t piss anyone off.

I’m not saying you tiptoe around all the time and censor everything you say– but if you are a guest, I’m trying to make you as comfortable as possible. Saying or doing things to make people uncomfortable? That’s not your place.

Similarly, don’t complain about my cats. They’re a part of my family, and they have way more tenure than you do here.

Communicate

If you’re not sure what the house rules are, err on the side of discretion and ask first.

Progress?

When you have children or teach children, it is best to keep in mind that half the world’s population is women.

The narratives need to change– and while I’ve lost all hope for a lot of my own generation, it’s important to have an open mind in raising children to an alternative.

See the link about the new Star Wars merchandise.

 

Yes, Hasboro has given a statement stating that it was not to release spoilers– but I’m talking about end results here.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

2015 marked a number of changes for [CM] and I. We watched the Sydney New Years Eve event on television (SydNYE), and it was pretty freaking epic.

Our family size has doubled. 

We got our first cat [RD1] in January of 2015, and our second one [RD2] just weeks ago. It was touch and go for a moment, because RD1 was the queen of the castle and really wasn’t used to sharing. She made herself look a bit silly by being threatened by RD2, who, when I brought him home from the airport for the first time, as barely a third of RD1’s size.

But after a week of carefully managing their interactions, they’re finally getting along. (I should note that for any of you who are thinking of introducing a new cat to an older cat, you should really read up beforehand– otherwise, you will run into more problems than we did, considering that it was so difficult even when we were doing it right).

CM and I both have some security.

As of October 2014, I have held a full time job as a lawyer. I also secured a part time gig on the side teaching law at a university here in Australia.

As of January 2015, CM was offered an intern position at a hospital, where she has been “doctoring” for the past year.

This doesn’t sound like all that much to most people, but considering that we were immigrant students who two years ago were in massive debt, had no stable income, and were in constant fear of our visas expiring (and us getting deported), this is a pretty huge step.

As a child growing up, I always wondered if I’d ever be able to match my parents’ or my grandparents’ “immigrant stories”. Even today, us moving from Canada to Australia is not the same as moving from Asia to Canada, with the differences in language and the racial issues of the time– but we have something big that we’ve survived, and it is now our story to tell.

 

We’re in good health.

Well, mostly. CM and I are both recovering from our second bout of gastroenteritis in the last two months. And we’ve both suffered a bit of sleep deprivation due to the all sorts of things going on. But nothing too serious. We’re getting better at managing our work life balances, and on the whole, we’re making progress.

 

We’re married now.

We signed the papers on December 19th. (If you’re an Aussie, then you’d call this 19 December.)

It was a low key event with some select friends and family, but it was nice and simple, and CM was beautiful. We held the event near the water near our apartment.

The real celebrations will be in September 2016 when we hold the formal gatherings for everyone (more like your traditional weddings) in Sydney and Montreal. Lots of planning ahead of us!

 

The possibilities are all in front of us.

Who knows what is next!

Happy New Year to everyone!!