Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Zeldathon 2010

It's that time of year again (yay!).  This year, I won't be attending in person, due to finances, work, other commitments, and so on.  Did you know that plane tickets are expensive?  I would like to see what happens if more fuel-efficient planes are designed, and if airlines reduce fares.  Yes, I know that airlines are already broke, so sad, etc.  And I'd love to keep them afloat, you know?  Except I don't have $400-$500 to spend on a round-trip ticket.  Thanks.


This year's 3rd annual Zeldathon, as in previous years, will tackle the mainstream Zelda console games: The Legend of Zelda (NES), Zelda II: Link's Adventure (NES), The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES), The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64), The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64), The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GCN), and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GCN/Wii).  Most of the games, if not all of them, will be played on the Nintendo Wii, using the Virtual Console and backwards compatibility for the GCN (Twilight Princess will be the Wii version).  I've also heard that this year, we're trying some of the handheld games, specifically the Oracle games (two Gameboy Color games which can be linked with a password) and Phantom Hourglass (on the DS, which is the sequel to Wind Waker).

The games will be played non-stop, although players will be switching off so people can eat and sleep.*  Zeldathon starts on July 5th at 6:00pm on (live streaming with chat).  We are raising money!  If you dislike child abuse (of course you do!), please donate.  100% of donations will go to the National Children's Advocacy Center, and these (tax-deductible) donations will go towards training advocates and professionals, as well as providing therapy and treatment for survivors of child abuse.

Good cause, yes.  Even if you can only donate a few dollars, please consider it.  If every viewer donated $5, we'd raise a LOT of money easily.

Monday, July 5th
6:00 pm EDT
7-9 (or 10) games, non-stop
100% of donations go straight to the NCAC.

Warning: In the past, I've tried to ensure that the Zeldathon players, friends, and chatroom members keep language and jokes appropriate, out of respect for the organization we donate to.  There are some chat moderators, myself included, who work very hard to keep inappropriate language, jokes, and comments in check, but obviously, the chances of us preventing anyone from saying something stupid are next to none.  If you think that someone has said or done something completely inappropriate, alert me immediately, even if it's something as basic as a chatroom member using the term "rape" inappropriately.  I'll do what I can to take care of it.  Unfortunately, the gaming community is male-dominated and not progressive-friendly, so we have to work hard to be subversive.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Construction of PCOS

PCOS: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.  Affects 10% of women.  Leading cause of fertility problems in women.  Symptoms include "high" free testosterone, infertility, ovarian cysts, acne, obesity, difficulty losing weight, infrequent or absent menstruation, lengthy/heavy/painful periods, and hirsutism.  Prescribed treatments include hormonal birth control, fertility drugs, anti-androgens, and weight loss.  Many women with PCOS do not have all of the possible symptoms.

I hate PCOS.  Not just because I apparently have it.  But because it's a syndrome (that is, a combination of symtpoms) that revolves almost completely around the idea of traditional femininity.

Women aren't supposed to be fat or hairy or have acne.  Women aren't supposed to have more than a specific amount of testosterone.  Women aren't supposed to have trouble having babies.  Periods aren't supposed to interfere with your life, and they should come regularly.  In fact, the only symptom that isn't on what I would consider the spectrum of health would be ovarian cysts; those motherfuckers HURT when they rupture.

I don't know how doctors decided I had PCOS.  I wasn't getting my periods regularly, which isn't that uncommon in young girls.  I didn't mind not getting my period regularly, except for the fact that it was usually a surprise when I got it.  My acne was cleared up already, and while I wasn't hairless, I did NOT think I was that hairy.  I didn't think there was anything wrong with me.

Until I had two cysts rupture.  Then all of a sudden, I was too hairy, too fat, my skin was too gross, I had too much testosterone (SO?).  And my doctors (both my pediatrician and an endocrinologist) did some things that should have gotten them suspended.

Both of them bullied me to start taking hormonal birth control.  I didn't want to take it.  The battle went on for over a year, when I was 15.  The endocrinologist performed a pelvic exam on me without telling me what she was going to do.  I think it's actually fair to say that I was moderately traumatized by that; I cried when I got in the car, and my mom was livid when she found out what the doctor did (my mother was unaware of what the physical exam would entail).  I remember going back to school that day, and my brother, who was a senior at the time, was shocked when I told him about it.

Now that I'm twenty-three, I look back on that experience and believe that this prominent adolescent endocrinologist should have been suspended.  When I think about what she did, I feel as angry and helpless and upset as I do when I think about my sexual assault, which did not involve penetration.

Both the endocrinologist and my pediatrician lied to me about what PCOS would mean for me.  I asked them both a very basic question: If I decided not to take any medication for PCOS, would I be able to have children when I was older?  They both lied and told me that UNLESS I took hormonal birth control, I would probably have even more problems conceiving later on.  This isn't true; I would have just as many problems conceiving regardless of my decision.

I told them I didn't want to take it.  I told them I thought it would be embarrassing to take birth control at age 15 (later, 16).  I told them that I was concerned that it would impact my decisions about sexual activity (specifically that, since it would remove the obstacle of aquiring birth control, I would be more inclined to take an earlier chance to start having sex).  And if I were a doctor, and a fifteen-year-old patient of mine was explaining to me, maturely, that she did not want to take birth control pills, that should be the end of it.

But these two doctors kept telling me that I needed to take birth control, until I caved a year and a half later, age sixteen and a half, no boyfriend in sight.  And I spent six months trying to find a better prescription; my first two pills gave me morning sickness, and I would miss school several times over the course of one week, every month.  I hated it.

Now, I've been on the same pill for about 7 years.  I want to keep taking hormonal birth control; I enjoy that my periods don't surprise me, and by cheating with how I take my pill, I'm able to have periods that don't last 5 days.  Cramps are uncomfortable, but manageable and not long-lasting.  I haven't had any cysts in these past 7.5 years.  And I'm sexually active; while I use condoms, I like the extra insurance that comes with just not ovulating.

But I wish I could have made this decision, to go on the pill, when I was older, when it was my decision, and not my doctors'.  And I'm still fat, still hairy.  My acne is gone, but thanks to Accutane, not the pill.  And I will probably never be able to conceive easily; if I go off the pill, I won't ovulate regularly by MAGIC.

Treating PCOS is using medicine and hormones to make corrections that aren't necessary.  I was fine the way I was, and I didn't need to be bullied by two doctors when I was an insecure teen.  This is a made up disease.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

10 online dating mistakes for dudez

I still hate the Frisky, and I always will.  And while I like this list, there are still issues with it.  For example, all Frisky articles seem to be from a hetero-female perspective, even when they're not relationship articles (i.e. an article about how to improve sibling relationships, which could have been gender neutral, but was decidedly, "Ladies, here's what to do").  It's ANNOYING.  But that said, here's their list, and my comments.

1. TMI. We don't want to know about your ex-wife, your bankruptcy, or your feelings of masculine inadequacy. If you're neurotic about it, leave it out.

I've found this to be true when it comes to some of my friends--male and female.  Self-esteem issues, family issues, etc., are things that can come up after the first few dates.  I didn't write on my online profiles that I was estranged from my father, or that I'm a sexual assault survivor, two things that any boyfriend would have to learn pretty soon in the relationship.

2. Mr. Eager. If you send us an overly long e-mail that sounds overly solicitous, we won't think you're interested. We'll think you're desperate.

Desperate, or creepy!  I've also found that very suck-up messages tend to have this attitude that I will feel SO complimented, I will want to go out with you.  It'll also make me concerned that you won't be able to handle the idea that I might not be interested.

3. Only Interested In One Thing. Just after a one-night-stand? With few exceptions, we're happy to show you the door.

I don't completely agree with this one.  While I definitely wouldn't be interested in a person looking for a one night stand, it's insulting for the Frisky to assume that almost no women in general would be interested.  And I also would prefer to know whether or not a guy was looking for one night; otherwise, I'll end up going out with him and we'll waste each other's time because we want different things.  Since sites like OKCupid allow you to make it clear, just in your preferences, that you're looking for casual sex, not a relationship (or even dating!), it's not that unacceptable or weird for men or women to write that they're interested in something casual.

4. The Dealbreaker. There's a difference between knowing what you want and having a list of criteria no woman could meet. Keep it real.

This I agree with, way way way much.  Knowing what you want is something like, "college-educated, looking for a relationship, Jewish, politically liberal."  Being a picky asshole is like, "has to be shorter/taller than I am, must root for the Red Sox, has to be really funny, wants to spend time with me but is completely independent," etc.  Your perfect, ideal person does not exist.

5. Body Obsessed. If you say you won't date "fatties," even skinny chicks won't date you. You're not a hater. You're just a jerk.

This one's a big duh.  If you don't want to date someone overweight or underweight (or midweight), then just don't message those people, or politely turn them down.  Duh.  Easy.  Don't be a jerk, if you're male or female, and make demands on other people's bodies.  We're tall, short, big, small, bony, fat, all shades of pinks and browns, and our bodies all function differently.  And yet we're still all awesome people who are just looking for relationships and sexual partners.  So don't insult us.

6. Stalker Boy. Keep e-mails, calls, and date requests to a minimum. We'll let you know what we want from you.

I once kept getting messages from a slightly older man who really wanted to go out with me.  I barely knew anything about him, and vice versa; our conversations were mostly mundane.  I explained to him that I was in the middle of finals (I was still a college student), and that I would not be available until they were over.  I even told him when that would be!  He kept asking to have dinner with me before finals were over, and I just stopped responding.

When you continually badger someone to date you, you're basically saying, "Nothing should be as important to you as meeting me and having dinner/lunch with me.  It is perfectly acceptable for me to harass you and demand your attention." 

7. Material-tastic. We appreciate your toys -- your car, your motorcycle, your boat -- but we would rather hear about what makes you tick. That we like.

Well, let's be perfectly honest here: there are men and there are women who are materialistic, and who would want to date someone who had cool stuff, or could take you to Paris or something.  That said, in the context of "mistakes hetero-men make that turn off women," bragging about your possessions is an indication that you want to swap finances (of which your toys are a sign) for sex. 

8. Grow Up. Your resume should include something other than trips to Mardi Gras, booze-fueled tales of debauchery, and all the hot girls you dated. We're looking for love (mostly).

Again, this is a case-by-case thing, much like one night stands.  I don't love to get trashed and party, but there are men and women who do.  It might reduce the number of messages you get from people who aren't into partying, but I got fewer messages on OKCupid when I explicitly stated I was a feminist, and I considered that a good thing.  Talking about the hot girls you've dated is a bit different; in general, it's a bad idea to write about sexual prowess and past relationships/flings on an online dating profile.

9. The Black Booker. If we want you to have our real e-mail address and our phone number, we'll let you know. Asking for it right out of the gate creeps us out.

One of the fantastic things about a lot of dating websites is that you can meet people without having to give up your personal information.  That way, if you don't like someone, they can't stalk you using your email, phone number, or IM-client screenname.  It's one thing to swap numbers if you're meeting up for a date and you want to be able to call the person to find them or let them know you're lost or late (for what it's worth, I didn't always swap numbers before the first date, and things have gone fine).  But asking for personal information, including a person's real name, in the first message or so is unacceptable and rude.  Giving our your own personal info right away is also rude, as well as creepy.  And saying, "Hey, why don't you give me your AIM screenname?  The OKC IM-chat is so buggy," is douchey.

10. Chill Out, Dude. Take it slow. We're not going anywhere. If what we're both after is a relationship, let's take the scenic route to get there.

If we don't message you back right away, chill. CHILL.  If we don't go out with you again right away, keep CHILLING.  If we're seeing other people, calm the fuck down.  This goes for anyone of any sex.  If you're this high strung about dating, then a relationship won't work.