Down for now.

•12/30/2011 • Leave a Comment

Until I can think of what I want to really put here, this page will be down. Thanks for the visit.

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Sex Will Save Your Relationship: The {brief} science behind the orgasm

•07/29/2011 • 15 Comments

I wrote this blog a while ago but thought I would repost it since it’s in the history and not viewable. It came to me after I noticed a search term that lead to my blog was “how to get past a girls defences.” I can answer that easy enough for myself (but not for every girl): food, wine, and sex.

Being trained in neuroscience, and having that be most of my career in my professional life, I always wonder what’s happening in my brain under any given circumstance. Tonight I was thinking, post-coitus, what changes were going on in my brain during sex and orgasm. I know vaguely of this. In short, it’s all a mechanism of the limbic system. You may know the limbic system from biology or psych class as being the “fight or flight” system in your body. Which is to say, it controls pure instinct without consulting your conscious mind. My favourite neurotransmitter, dopamine, is the main actor in sexual activities. It’s part of your reward center. Not surprisingly, the release of dopamine is also what is most rewarding in things like obsessive behavior and addiction. You can get your dopamine rush in artificial ways, like cocaine, but the easiest way is through the simple orgasm.

Which lead me to wonder, what happens when you fall in love? I know oxytocin is a very important love hormone and they’re even undergoing oxytocin therapies in Europe (but the FDA in the states has not yet approved it). But what does falling in love have to do with dopamine? Or what does oxytocin have to do with dopamine? With a little research I found out that, unsurprisingly, dopamine is high when you fall in love with someone. It also turns out that oxytocin is released during orgasm, as well as when you begin bonding with the person you’ve falling in love with.

So, in short, it seems to me the best way to keep your relationship going and to keep that strong bond you initially had in your “honeymoon phase” is to have lots and lots of sex. The same brain mechanics are at work during the course of falling in love, sexual activity, and orgasm. That’s my scientific advice, at least. So go fuck like bunnies. Your husband/wife will thank me.

Addendum: Which leads me to wonder if the amount of masturbation that takes place correlates with self esteem. Hmmm. Probably not.

Someone Has to Say It: We’re all hipsters here.

•07/28/2011 • 12 Comments

hipsterdom!Hipster. It’s not a new word. This word actually came around in the 1940’s to describe the popular crowd that knew everything there was to know about Jazz culture. Now that isn’t so negative, is it? Unfortunately time changes many things and the definition of this word is one of them. The word “hipster” can now be so derogatory that there are literally websites popping up like diehipster.com which fantasizes elaborate beatings of hipsters. Websites like this are classified under the First Ammendment…an Ammendment I oh so love and oh so hate all at the same time. It must be true love.

So before I go on about prejudice and violence, let’s try to define the hipster. Anyone can tell you that this is a nearly impossible task and even quite a few of the people I approached just stammered until they said, “tight jeans!” However, I wanted to delve a little bit deeper into the modern presumed definition of the hipster culture just so I could find out how many of us really are hipsters. Turns out that we all have a little bit hipster in us. Here’s a small list:

  • Clothing: Thick glasses, tight jeans, t-shirts, thrift store shopping
  • Lifestyle: Bicycles, photography, pseudo-European, coffee drinkers, bookstore lackies, computer nerds
  • Age: 20-35 who can’t get past the nostalgia of their childhood (Transformers, Comics, etc)
  • Attitude: Dismissive pretentiousness, smug, obsessed with counter-culture, irony complex
  • Entertainment: Cult films, indie rock, NPR
  • Consumption: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Organic and local food
  • History: Suburban white kids who think they had it hard, or maybe not. Just suburban white kids.

And the following list is from my one conservative Republican friend who absolutely abhors hipsters but for some reason has loved me to death for years, Greg Grockenberger.

  • Aversion to productive endeavor
  • Crimes against aesthetics
  • Music and art they scour the rubbish bins for. The reason this music is obscure is because it’s crap.

Okay, so there are some hipster definitions. In the end most people gave up and admitted that it was really hard to define. People seem to use the phrase on a certain age group that they just don’t want to deal with or don’t want to give time to understand. Sure there are scene kids who go to the extremes, but are they the real hipsters? Perhaps we are the real hipsters and they are trying to be like us. Metahipsterism. How many of us have those qualities? I know all my friends do and most of them outright deny being hipsters. But I love them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having hipster qualities.

Krog St Tunnel, (c) Elly Winstead

This graffiti embodies the essence of hipsterdom

Someone actually referred to hipsters as the “dead end of Western civilization.” That’s a little extreme considering us hipsters will likely be taking care of said person when they are old and feeble. We’ll see who is a dead end here. I have to strongly disagree with this statement. I know hipster-like friends who are extremely productive, working at companies like Google, Apple, Netflix. They are the future, not the dead end. Anyone can agree with this.

One thing I noticed in asking all my friends what they thought a hipster was, not a single one of them said they were unintelligent. I think many of them are the minds of our future generations. Some of them are our future Bukowskis and even if you think Bukowski was scum he did amazing things for poetry and literature. I would like to share some quotes from books and articles on what I see are extremely accurate views of hipsters:

In his book  The White Negro,” Norman Mailer characterized hipsters as American existentialists, living a life surrounded by death — annihilated by atomic war or strangled by social conformity — and electing instead to “divorce [themselves] from society, to exist without roots, to set out on that uncharted journey into the rebellious imperatives of the self.”

This, to me, leads me to believe that the hipster culture is a culture of discovery of the self and how we may advance in the world we are given.

Hipsterism fetishizes the authentic” elements of all of the “fringe movements of the postwar era—beat, hippie, punk, even grunge,” and draws on the “cultural stores of every unmelted ethnicity,” and “regurgitates it with a winking inauthenticity.”

-Christian Lorentzen

As much as I admire this writer’s vernacular, why all the animosity? Regurgitate? What about inspired by? Yes, hipsters do enjoy recreating old styles but with every era style and fashion has been created based on what existed in the past. Time repeats itself. Why is it so bad that it is repeating itself this time?

Stop and think about it. Look at all these qualities. Couldn’t they also be applied to geeks and nerds? Isn’t this a general term to apply to all semi-forward people between 18-40? Anyone who is urban and not blue-collar? Quit with the hate. You’re probably a tad bit of a hipster yourself.

I’d like to close this off with my mom’s definition of a hipster. My mother lives in a very small town, the same town I grew up in, where there are no hipsters but only hippies. Out of all the hipster definitions I heard, I think my mother hit the nail on the head. Thanks mom. You’re the best.

Hi,  I did not google this to get a definition so this is what I have in my mind.
I would say a hipster is someone age 20 to 30 that lives in the city or wants too…and is up the latest styles, fads, things to do, places to go.  Some people would look at a hipster for information  while others would think it is a bad thing, that these people are shallow and want to be seen and heard ahead of others.  I sometimes think hipsters are out to get exactly what they want but they don’t seem to mind working for it or getting it the best way  they can . They have their on  style and don’t give any excuses for it except if you don’t like it don’t look at me….  I also think these persons can put material possessions over practical  situations and their feelings over others , but not always because it depends on the person..  I would have to say, about me, if I were young I would probably be one!

-Jeanette Awtrey, 2011


Other contributors:

-Jes Gearing of http://www.eatingappalachia.com/
-Sean Flynn of http://www.seanflynnphotography.com/
-Amy DuBoff
-Soni Powell
-Drew Dubois
-Gregory Davis
-Greg Grockenberger
-Amy Manlapas http://amy-elizabeth.net

Why Do I Do It?: A girl’s defense of a scifi/comic convention passion.

•07/22/2011 • 6 Comments
 
Edward James Olmos

No way, I'm no nerd!

I get a lot of blank stares when people ask me my hobby and I come back with the reply, “Science fiction conventions, dressing up like superheroes, and dogs.” I can’t blame them for reacting oddly since it is entirely possible they’ve never even received anything close to this answer before. I thought that today I might try writing why I like conventions and costuming, as well as false beliefs regarding the hobbies that accompany it.

First reason why I like these things? I grew up a geek. I read comic books with my brother and older cousin as a kid and I grew up on the internet from age 13 on. I’m not an ironic hipster nerd, I’m the real deal over here. I don’t have any official nerd credits today, but in the past I have written guest magazine articles, website articles, appeared on television, and wrote an entire thesis on video game culture. I got around in my heyday! Ahh, the good ol’ days.

Battlestar Galactica

Dragon*con, Atlanta, GA

While discovering an outlet with others like me on the internet, I discovered the existance of anime and science fiction conventions. My parents took me to my first several conventions and soon I was going to 5-6 a year all up and down the East Coast. Since I was 14 I have been to conventions on average of 3 a year with my peak time being around age 18 when I was going to 5 or 6. Let’s roughly guesstimate that I have been to over 50 conventions so far in my lifetime, including Dragon*con in Atlanta for 12 years in a row (this year will be my 13th anniversary!).

Okay, that’s all good and proves my obsession, but why am I obsessed? To look at this we have to go back and see that suddenly my best friends were met at that first convention about three and a half hours away from the small town I grew up in. We had the glorly of the early days of the internet to keep in touch. We all knew each other back then, it was a small community. These were the days when the only anime you could get was a copy of a copy of a copy of Ranma 1/2. You really had to know people. For the first time in my life I had friends I wasn’t nervous around or that I didn’t get tired of extremely fast. I got to express my love for this hobby which was never socially acceptable to like as a girl. Freedom of self = pure bliss to me.

Costumes simply SO MUCH FUN

2001, A-kon in Texas

So the love of conventions seeped over into a love of costuming. Here is where I want to speak of false beliefs and misconceptions. The outside world sees us costumers as having no real lives whatsoever and the inside can view some of us as stuck up attention whores who aren’t real nerds. Let me dissuade you of believing either of these things is true for us as a whole. We aren’t all middle aged chubby men dressed up in school girl uniforms or spandex. We also aren’t all running sex sites and have never picked up a comic book in our lives. For me, it’s something that fulfills much more than the nerdy side, it also fills the artistic side.

I have always been artistic. I used to spend hours sketching or playing with makeup. When I first tried costuming at a science fiction convention I realized how much fun it was to plan out, construct, and aim for a goal or deadline. Acutally wearing the costume came second to the construction of it. It’s kind of the same reason that I picked up knitting the few years I wasn’t costuming. For 13 years now I have always went to the sewing machine or cutting board when I feel a lull in my daily activities. I’ll sew aprons, dresses, curtains, and costumes. It feels so amazing to construct something so detailed. Mind you, I can’t sew a straight seam to save my fucking life but that doesn’t mean I don’t like doing it. Wearing the costume can be just as much fun as making it, providing you aren’t in the most detailed or most skimpy outfit of the convention, because you really get a chance to meet other people who like what you like. It gives you a great chance to make new friends, crack inside jokes, and/or speak in Wookie to other attendees who can speak the same language.

There’s really so much to these conventions and so many different layers as to why we all love them. I feel like I barely scratched the surface and only gave a stereotypical answer. To be honest the entire idea of this post came from me fuming how people think I costume just because I like tons of attention. To be honest, I never get tired of science fiction or fantasy and now people at these conventions are so much like family I keep going back. They are my best friends now, some of over 12 years. We’re all still there or at least in touch online. I have watched so many people graduate, get married, have babies…they are a family. They’re my cousins. My giant group of huge nerdy cousins that make me love being where I am a guaranteed to be at least two weekends a year.

Perhaps my good friend Bean said it better, and in more of a compressed space:

I love sci-fi/comic conventions because they capture the ‘nerd zeitgeist’, so to speak. It’s a microcosm of what makes ‘geek.’ They’re a perfect cross-section of a plethora of unrelated (but equally nerdy) pursuits, shoved into a tiny one-way elevator and made to speak to each other for a days. Conventions are equal parts spectator sport, freak show and awesome. It’s a chance to disconnect from the real world for a long weekend, and plug in to some of the most ridiculous (and awesome) scenes with people who speak your language.

Also, booze and mostly naked women.

                                                             -Bean Flynn, 2011

Jay and Silent Bob

And also at Sci Fi conventions you regularly see hilariously awesome scenes like this.

of Legos and futures

•06/01/2010 • 1 Comment

Note: Here is an old post from before I redid the blog. It is to tide any awesome readers over until I finish my massive novella on my Hawaii travels. Orig published in October 2009.

We were sitting in the living room corner building the first leg of a desk to be entirely made out of Legos, sans the glass top so everything could rest on it smoothly and you could avoid little bumps impressed on your forearms after typing on the keyboard. It was a desk that had been talked about for years, but never truly realized. A desk that was only believed in after an unexpected turn of money came our way. A desk that finally made us realize we were living our dream.

serenity at the big tank; shot at ga aquarium

serenity at the big tank; shot at ga aquarium

I wanted it purple, but purple Legos were more expensive and it was ultimately his desk. However, I held the point that I paid for it so I should get to pick the style and color while he gets to help build and enjoy it. But he won out. The desk ended up classic colors after all.

The desk took a month total of two people’s unemployed-average-social-life-time to complete. Once we were finished we started setting things upon the desk and inside the functional drawers and cabinets. The things we set on top were staples of our modern day time together. The iMac we had purchased, a Lego picture frame of us smiling and drunk in Vegas, a keyboard that had not only once fallen prey to our lovable dog (why we didn’t buy a new keyboard before a desk made of Legos, I will never know). In the drawers went notes we wanted to keep around from our days in college, bills we didn’t want to pay but could now afford to, paperclips, jewelry bought by each other and previous lovers, and extra Legos just in case we had any mishaps.

But time passed. And this desk we built, toiled over, became more than a desk. Soon it began to gather an assortment of items to define our life together. My engagement ring after my carpal tunnel started acting up, a picture of my father who had passed away since the construction of the desk, his acceptance papers into graduate school, pens we had stolen from funeral homes to wedding chapels, and at random times the desk would even hold a place for one of our cats. We were, however, never courageous enough to see if the desk would support our afternoon romps. We didn’t want to have to start all over (regarding both things).

So was the desk that we kept throughout our lives. A desk that made us always feel young. A desk that would make movers panic every time we relocated. A desk our children one day loved and that our friends would always brag about. A desk that my mother would always roll her eyes over, but secretly enjoy the humor in. A desk that watched us grow older and happy, even throughout the trying times in life. A desk of individual pieces of well formed stuck together plastic that stood like a fucking rock.

how i miss my dad

•05/14/2010 • 1 Comment

My dad died in November, right before Thanksgiving. It killed me. I was in shock at first, but now I am just so sad. I start sobbing uncontrollably about once a day. The cries last for about five minutes and then perhaps if I’m in a good mood I’ll pretend I’m talking to him on the phone. I’ll thank him for all the cooking things he gave me when he passed, even though in my version he was just downsizing to an apartment and gave them to me. I’d tell him about all the meals I cooked, like the white cream veal stew. Daddy loved to cook after the divorce. He made the best steak I’ve ever tastedand I guess I’ll never have the recipe now.

dad and me in greece, beastie boys style

dad and me in greece, beastie boys style

It’s hard. I can’t lie. Dad shaped me in more ways than I realized before he passed. A lot of the good and a lot of the bad came from my relationship with dad. I have to thank him for my adventurous nature but also for my social anxiety. It’s okay, though. Even the crippling mindsets he bestowed upon me make me who I am, and I wouldn’t change that.
I think he’d be proud of me these days, except for the fact I’m unemployed. I think he’d love that I moved to Portland. I think he’d love that I’m happy in our cozy house with Mike and the animals. I think I’d get him a plane ticket for no reason and make him stay out here for a couple of weeks. Then I fantasize he would fall in love with the city and plan to move out here, living in our spare bedroom while he found a job and a place of his own. We’d go boating on Crater Lake and catch fish the size of our arms. At the end of the day we’d come back to the house, grill a pork loin, and sip beers as we watched the sun set.
I realize that in my daydreams, daddy does not have a drinking problem.
I wanted daddy to die happy. Not alone, not stranded. That heart attack took him away too soon and it made me want to die along with him…but I’m standing strong. I’m happy. I love life. I am learning to cherish my relationships with friend and family like I never had before. Thank you for everything daddy. I miss you.