Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wednesday Factoid: Spirit Animal

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What would be your spirit animal?


"Spirit animal" the way this is written isn't meant for me. There are some religious/spiritual traditions among some Native / First Nations folks that incorporate the notion of spirit animals, and I'm not going to try to explain it because that's not for me to do either.

What I've heard is that a lot of people find it culturally appropriative and gross for people outside these cultures to adopt bits of the spirituality they like and call it theirs. The IDEA, however, is common in other traditions, spiritual practices, and fiction; animal companions are very popular in our stories and are integral to human thought, so it's certainly not the broader concept that people object to. (I've even seen one essay about this where someone said, basically, "That's fine, call it your Patronus." A reference to Harry Potter, ya know.) 

I don't use the phrase "spirit animal" for anything I'm associated with--not when I'm actually talking about Pagan traditions, and not in jest either (the way a lot of pop culture is using it now). But to answer the question outside of acknowledging that "spirit animal" is not a thing that's for me, I think I can still say a type of animal I relate to, that represents me in a way and is a cool emblem for me.

I like birds, particularly the wren. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Personal Digest Saturday: June 9 – June 15

Life news this week:
  • Saturday Victor left relatively early, taking two thirds of the three-way sub sandwich we'd made home with him. I spent the rest of the day catching up on updates and cleaning stuff up. I ate some of the sandwich for breakfast and wasn't hungry again until 10 PM!
  • Sunday I finally finished the sandwich. :D I did some cleaning and finally used my outside table, which was great. Mom was gonna come over to help with curtains but she again didn't feel up to it. I drew some cute pictures of Amethyst Fusions based on a comic book. Also answered some OKCupid messages and got in a few pointless arguments on Facebook.
  • Monday I made databases and ate cookies. It was weird not to have any letters due. After work Mom was supposed to come over but again couldn't. I chatted with Meg in the evening instead. She was about to go on a Disney cruise with her kids so she was super excited. I ate a potato and drew part of another fan drawing.
  • Tuesday I went to work and shopped at the natural food store nearby, but they didn't have any good natural bug spray, boo. Arthur picked me up after work and we got Thai food as usual and ate it while watching Steven Universe. We watched from episode 25 to episode 31. That's the shortest stint so far, sadly, and Arthur had other stuff to take care of so the evening ended early. I also submitted a short story to a magazine for the first time in a while.
  • Wednesday I beat everyone to the office. I did some typing and some transcript creation. Jeaux picked me up after work and we ate at Five Guys and shopped at Winn-Dixie. I posted a bunch of merchandise pictures in an online group, and Jeaux and I watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
  • Thursday I did more of the transcripts my boss needed and then after work I chatted with Victor on the phone while drawing. Mom finally was able to come over but she again wasn't feeling well and we couldn't get any work done on the curtains. After she left I chatted with Victor again. He was also not feeling well.
  • Friday wasn't so great at work, but I finished some stuff and got more letters ready for my boss. Went home and got my webcomic done and made some funny GIFs for Tumblr.

New reviews of my book:

Reading progress:
  • Finished this week: Nothing. I'm about a third of the way through my current read.
  • Currently readingMicroserfs by Douglas Coupland.
    New singing performances:

    This week's song was "Just a Girl" by No Doubt.

    Stuff Drawn:

    Concept of all of Amethyst's Fusions!
    Redraw of Grace Kraft's comic cover.

    Webcomic Negative One Issue 0683: "Deep and Dark."

    New videos:


    New photos:

    Hanging out at my new table!

    Social Media Counts:

    YouTube subscribers: 5,275 for swankivy (3 new), 672 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Twitter followers: 949 for swankivy (3 new), 1,322 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 295 friends (no change) and 201 followers (no change) for swankivy, 653 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 138 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,523 (2 new). Instagram followers: 144 (no change).

    Wednesday, June 13, 2018

    Wednesday Factoid: Organization

    Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Which is more annoying to you: When someone is "too organized" (everything in its place, no toleration for clutter) or "too messy" (has no structure, no toleration for applying a system)?

    I fall heavily on the side of being annoyed by lack of organization.

    I find it easy personally to get organized and stay organized, and though I'm not completely intolerant of temporary messes, I really dislike when items or information have no rhyme or reason. Sometimes disorganized people claim they don't have time to organize stuff, but for me, you LOSE a lot of time sifting through stacks of paper or scrolling through lists of files every time you're trying to find something. Organize it once, and then keep it up.

    Easier said than done, of course!

    It helps that I LIKE to organize. I love systems and lists, always have. So organizing things isn't usually all that intimidating to me, even if it's a big job. I like developing a system and then populating the system. It's satisfying.

    Because I own a lot of STUFF and am not a minimalist, at first glance some people think I have some cluttering tendencies. It's not clutter to me at all. It's decoration or collection and it is organized.

    When other people aren't organized, especially if we've got to get a job done, it really drives me up the wall. When I have to wait because someone can't find or lost the paper; when I get held up because someone scheduled irresponsibly and I have to change my plans; when someone expects me to work with files that aren't in any order and apply impractical techniques to finding what I need; I get really irritated.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2018

    The Tone Argument

    Had a disappointing conversation with a stranger over the weekend that ended when she exited the discussion via the tone argument

    Tone argument, as discussed on RationalWiki:

    The tone argument (also tone policing) is a logical fallacy that occurs when an argument is dismissed or accepted on its presentation: typically perceived crassness, hysteria or anger. Tone arguments are generally used by tone trolls (esp. concern trolls) as a method of positioning oneself as a Very Serious Person.

    The fallacy relies on style over substance. It is an ad hominem attack, and thus an informal fallacy.  

    I'll first say I expected her to do something like this before I even started talking to her. A couple of weeks before, she had barged into a conversation I was having with someone else to say that we should ~calm down~ because there was just too much ~negativity~ from "both sides." That's generally a red flag--when someone interprets any argument as "angry" and equally the fault of the folks having said argument, they tend to be incapable of actually having conversations that include disagreements. They will almost always interpret any response at all as an attack, and will try to use the fact that you're continuing the conversation at all as proof that YOU are over-invested. (They, of course, are not.)

    We were not arguing about anything that really mattered. My conversation partner and I, with the participation of several other people, were trying to determine the approximate ages of some cartoon characters based on context clues. My position was that the information we've been given on that topic is explicitly contradictory sometimes, since I can name some evidence that should make them older teens and some evidence that should make them at least mid-twenties. And my conversation partner's position, apparently, was based on evidence she made up.

    That sounds uncharitable, so I'll elaborate: She "remembered" that a character had claimed she started her current job the summer before she graduated high school, and since the character has said in the show that she started the job two summers ago, that should give us a pretty narrow range for her age. The problem was that the character did NOT say anything about graduating high school during this scene (well, or ever). So I countered, saying that line was not spoken.

    And she argued that it was. That she remembered it had been. I reiterated that no it was not, and she wrote an infuriating little line about how we'll have to "agree to disagree" unless I want to show her a transcript. Her response even had a little freaking heart emoji at the end of it.

    ?????? How are you going to agree to disagree about something objectively provable as true or not true, easily verifiable by looking it up yourself or verifying it yourself?

    As the conversation progressed, I had been showing other contradictory bits of info to the others in the group, and one clump of facts appeared in a tie-in book written by the writers of the show. It was a messy bit of contradiction where a character identified himself as a "teen," which would make him at the oldest nineteen, but then claimed an altercation occurred "fifteen years ago," which would have made him at most four years old at the time. We'd seen a flashback in the show of this altercation and the character was an older grade-schooler, definitely not just out of toddlerhood. 

    The same person attacked this evidence too, but she did not attack the evidence itself. She attacked its legitimacy: First by saying she did not think it counted as "canon" because it was in a book not in the show (even though it was written by the same people who write the show), and second by LITERALLY SAYING I MIGHT BE LYING ABOUT WHAT'S IN IT.

    And the way she said it was also super obnoxious. She said there was "no way of knowing" whether the information I was sharing was true, and she's ~not being mean or anything~ but you see, she only believes facts. 

    No way of knowing.

    Oh, you mean just like there's apparently no way of knowing whether a specific line was spoken in a publicly available episode of the show and we'll just have to "agree to disagree" based on your right to treat your incorrect memory like it's as valid as my quote?

    I honestly don't even know how to respond to people like this. People who claim they operate on facts, who then nevertheless plant their feet and refuse to accept verified facts that are spoon-fed to them, and also refuse to pursue their own evidence?

    Like, I know, I KNOW that cartoon characters' ages aren't a big deal. But people who refuse to discuss issues honestly and roadblock conversations by claiming there's JUST NO WAY TO KNOW SOMETHING? What are you even DOING?

    So I laid into her right there. I told her she is not behaving like a person who likes "facts"; people who like facts are happy to go look at them. If you actually want to know whether something you haven't verified is true, you ask for the information you need. For instance, when I see someone claiming that something I've never heard before is "confirmed," I ask, "where?" I don't imply it isn't confirmed, and I certainly don't respond to their statement by saying "WELL THERE'S NO POSSIBLE WAY OF KNOWING WHETHER THAT'S TRUE WITHOUT SEEING THE STATEMENT IS THERE HEART-EMOJI?" No, man. If you want information, you pursue it on your own or ask for it. If you haven't heard of or read this book I'm quoting from, and you want to be sure I'm representing it accurately, ask for a dang picture of the page! I found her behavior incredibly disingenuous and I told her so.

    When I got a notification on my phone that she'd replied to the thread a while later, my very first thought was this:

    I bet it's the tone argument.

    Spoiler: It was.

    She came back to the conversation just to tell me her doubt (and manner of delivering it) was totally reasonable because she personally hadn't heard of my sources, and she's leaving the conversation because my attitude is inappropriate. "We don't need to communicate like that," she said, like she was talking to a misbehaving preschooler, "and I choose not to."

    As is typical for tone-argument users, her response attempts to shame me and assign emotion to my words that does not belong there . . . you know, while not acknowledging that she literally REPEATEDLY called me a liar, and claimed there is not a possible way to determine whether I am inventing the information I'm offering.

    Nope. As they say in the South, not today, Satan. You will not pleasantly exit the conversation assured that you are the bigger person here. Some people think it's mature or level-headed to put conversations to bed with pearl-clutching over another person's bad manners, but that doesn't work very well if the other person has NOT spoken inappropriately. My continuing the conversation including increased detail and increased insistence that she LOOK AT THESE FACTS SHE SUPPOSEDLY LOVES is born of her lack of rationality, not some mythical overinvestment from me.

    So I told her the tone argument is very common with people like her who can't admit their mistakes and want an easy way to escape a conversation, blaming their partner's inappropriate emotional investment instead of looking at themselves. I told her I knew what she was doing. And I told her next time she isn't sure about a fact, she should ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW/WHERE SHE CAN VERIFY IT instead of writing weird smug statements about how it's impossible to know the truth. The truth on something like this is so freaking EASY to find! It's not even an opinion! It's not even an interpretation of an opinion! 

    I'm trying to have a conversation about this topic based on information that exists out there, but we can't do that if you won't stop dismissing whatever I say as not counting because you, personally, refuse to perform a basic fact check. THAT is what's rude and inappropriate--repeatedly calling your conversation partner a liar--and THAT is why you are receiving an escalation in the detail of my responses. You do not get to tell other people their info isn't good enough for you (for no apparent reason), and then act like your discourse has been perfectly polite just because you SAY you haven't been mean. You don't have to swear at me or call me names to be engaging inappropriately. You absolutely did engage inappropriately.

    Now, if the way someone is talking to you is making you uncomfortable, you're welcome to leave the conversation at any time. I don't begrudge her that. But I am side-eyeing the hell out of someone who repeatedly refuses to acknowledge facts while claiming only facts are good enough for her, and who finally nopes out of the conversation when I back her into a corner saying "why won't you look at this? this is exactly what you asked for. why isn't it satisfying what you claimed were your doubts about this issue?" What this shows is that it was actually never about "facts." (Surprise.) It was about pride, and about inability to admit wrongdoing, and about the disappointingly typical refusal of responsibility for one's own education.

    If this is how she responds to explicitly verifiable facts that I VERIFIED REPEATEDLY AND PUT IN FRONT OF HER, God, I would HATE to see her debate something more questionable, or something that matters a hair more than cartoon characters' ages. 

    And that tone argument response? The only thing surprising about her using it was that it took as long as it did for her to pull it out.

    Given what I learned about her in that conversation, I'd bet you anything she's a "both sides" advocate to the extent that she thinks bigots deserve just as much a right to a platform as civil rights activists because it's their opinion. I bet she blames oppressed people for rioting and for peaceful demonstrations alike because all lives matter. I bet she goes out of her way to defend the free speech of people who lie and troll because they have rights too, though I'm sure if she was on the receiving end of it then she'd say their attitudes have disqualified them from civil discourse with her. I don't know this person, but the way she talks is so condescending, hypocritical, and sanctimonious--I just don't know how to have a conversation with someone so intellectually dishonest. How is a rational person supposed to handle a discussion that was essentially this?

    Me: We don't have this fact, so we don't know this information.
    Her: You're wrong, this fact was revealed here!
    Me: No, that was not said.
    Her: It was too, I remember that it was.
    Me: It wasn't though, if you believe otherwise you should go check.
    Her: Let's agree to disagree! Unless you want to show me! I will only believe facts! <3
    Me: But here is a fact. And here is where the fact is displayed. Please look at it.
    Her: We don't know that's a fact though, you could be making that up!
    Me: But I'm NOT, I'm quoting from something that objectively exists, and is easy for you to check yourself if you don't believe my description.
    Her: Hey, it's not unreasonable for me to doubt you over and over again no matter how much evidence you gave me that I literally asked for! Gosh you're so rude! I'm not talking to someone so rude anymore, and I haven't been rude myself because I insert emoji hearts and flounce conversations by saying "have a good day!"

    Wow, really.

    Saturday, June 9, 2018

    Personal Digest Saturday: June 2 – June 8

    Life news this week:
    • Saturday I did a cute drawing of Steven Universe characters and prepared my blogging. Also spent a bunch of time filling in a cool chart that shows which markers I currently own in my Copic set. Then at night I had to deal with really gross rotten potatoes. (I had bought them at the store and they turned out to be rotten the NEXT DAY.)
    • Sunday I was supposed to go to Queer Brunch but there were speed bumps with the person who was driving me there and I didn't really feel like it anyway. I made some cookies, though. I did laundry, played with one of my websites, and got some messages answered.
    • Worked on a letter at work. Spent the evening playing around making cute GIFs of Steven Universe characters. (This time, it was a GIFset of a bunch of times Steven hugs Garnet in the show. He always hugs her around the knees because he's so small and she's so tall, and it's really cute!)
    • Tuesday I had to wrestle with an uncooperative FTP site at work. Also had to deal with a hefty letter (they're usually 2 pages; this one was 5). My co-worker drove me home and I did some drawing. (Mom was supposed to visit but she didn't feel up to it.)
    • Wednesday I had to work on utility coordination. I got stuck working a little late because of glitches on finishing some brochures, but Jeaux was patient about waiting for me. He picked me up and we ate at Golden Corral, and then we went grocery shopping and listened to Welcome to Night Vale. I drew some of my webcomic.
    • Thursday I did more utility stuff and we finally got our package sent to the project manager. Also, I found a rock outside the office that looked just like a potato, so I took it home. After work I hung out with Mom and we had some pasta, and she tried to help me with curtains but we didn't have the energy to finish. My outdoor furniture covers finally arrived so after she left I took my patio furniture outside for the first time. Shortly after, it rained ridiculously while I was watching cartoons and drawing, so I guess it got broken in really fast!
    • Friday was quiet--I finished a report for my boss and our newest employee visited the office, and she wanted to give me some of her old clothes. Haha. I left work and rode the bus too far because I was engrossed in reading, so I had to turn around and get the bus back. Then Victor came over to help me make a three-way sub sandwich! He was having some trouble with his leg misbehaving though so it was kind of stressful because we didn't know if it would go away and he couldn't balance very well. I didn't want him to lurch around the kitchen so I made the bread dough myself and he just helped me fill the sandwich, but we got to eat it! We also watched Despicable Me 3 and some music videos.

    New reviews of my book:

    Interviews, Articles, Mentions:
    Reading progress:
      New singing performances:

      This week's song was "Rolling in the Deep" by Adele.

      Stuff Drawn:

      Pearl and Greg talking out their differences.
      It's hard when you loved and lost the same person.
      Random shiny Garnet pencil sketch I did.

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0682: "Simpler."

      New videos:


      New photos:

      Proper kitchen safety while making cookies!
      Rock I found that looks just like a potato
      Enjoying the hot day at the bus stop!
      Rock potato at home in my patio area.
      The three-way sub Victor and I made.
      We tried to eat it together.
      Victor's enjoying his.
      I'm enjoying mine!

      Social Media Counts:

      YouTube subscribers: 5,272 for swankivy (9 new), 673 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 946 for swankivy (4 new), 1,320 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 295 friends (1 new--I accepted a friend request from someone I met at Jessie's wedding) and 201 followers (no change) for swankivy, 653 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 138 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,521 (1 new). Instagram followers: 144 (no change).

      Wednesday, June 6, 2018

      Wednesday Factoid: Starting the Day

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What's the best way to start the day?

      My answer's pretty unoriginal. I love getting out of bed and having coffee.

      Unfortunately, most days (the days I go to work), I don't do this. I get up and get ready to go out and I don't have coffee until I go to the office.

      Maybe it's because I want to drink it leisurely--I don't want to be rushed through a cup of coffee.

      When I have it at home on a weekend morning, it's just the best. Just sets such a great tone for a day. Drinking coffee and checking out messages or notifications or whatever, checking out news and posts from my friends. That's such a nice relaxing way to start a day.

      Tuesday, June 5, 2018

      "Congressional District Census"? Propaganda and money grab, same thing.

      Last night I received an official-looking envelope that I initially mistook for a jury duty summons.

      It wasn't. It was some weird fake mail from a Republican organization urging me to a) answer a survey designed to confirm the rightness of their agenda and b) send them money.

      I don't know where they got my name from. They know my congressional district and my full name and mailing address, so it must have been taken from somewhere official, but since the introductory letter and the survey made it 100% clear they believed "Republicans" and "Conservatives" was a "we" here (and therefore they had no problem screeching a bunch of incendiary things about, you know, the groups I actually identify with), I am sort of alarmed that I have somehow become misidentified as sympathetic to Conservative causes. 

      (I'm not.)

      So! A lengthy survey begged me to fill it out so Republicans can better represent their constituents, and it was accompanied by a four-page letter full of alarmist phrases, apparently designed to leave me feeling that me and my fellow Real Americans are Under Attack and our very way of life is Threatened, and that giving them my opinion and my money will help save the country from Them. (It's disturbing how often the phrase "take our country back" is uttered without ever naming a From Whom. When pressed, usually the weasel words come out about what "we" must protect: Our Values, Our Children, Our Rights, Our Legacy. Guess what those values are, and whose children they actually want to protect, though? They're not interested in preserving a way of life for me and mine, that's for sure.)

      After screaming at me for four pages about how Critical it is that I Save Our Country with my generous donation, I guess the senders of the letter believe they have me primed to answer the survey how they want. I've been pep-talked into feeling like Decent People Like Me are losing a battle against political correctness, forced diversity, unrestricted immigration, high taxes, and hippies who want to take my guns away. What confronts me now is the most laughably biased survey I think I've ever read.

      To give you some idea, they start by asking me to declare my political alignment. I am given five flavors of types of Republicans to pick from. At the bottom, I have "Democrat" and "Other." As if it wasn't clear enough who they expect to hear from and which boxes they don't really want to know anything specific about, you then get questions about WHICH of these multiple-choice options you think are the most important (and 90% of them are specific Conservative talking points), questions about whether political correctness is out of control, and intensely biased phrasing on prompts like "Do you believe the national media has a strong bias against all things Donald Trump and Republican and fails to tell America's voters the real facts about Republican policies, principles, goals, and accomplishments?"

      They ask me if Obamacare should be fixed or just kicked out entirely. (You know, making it clear that there is no option that doesn't admit it's "broken.") 

      They announce that vetting can't be controlled from certain terrorist countries and, given that, do I think we should ban immigration from them entirely? 

      They start a ton of sentences with "Do you agree that" and then ramble about creating jobs, cutting taxes, and making America great, drawing assumed conclusions between their policies and these results, forcing you to say you don't want prosperity or better employment opportunities at all if you disagree with the Republican proposals to achieve them. 

      They state outright that Obama's term was full of "unconstitutional" legislation and want to know if I agree that these should be canceled because they--and I am not making this up--"destroy freedom."

      They put "climate change" in scare quotes while stating as a fact that Democrats' "fixation" on this has created unnecessary regulations that are totally crippling business. They make a STATEMENT out of that, and then ask if I think climate change is a threat. 

      They bundle an anti-crime statement with a bit about how the law enforcement officers are under attack and experiencing too much violence. That's what they're talking about here when it comes to crime. That the POLICE are at risk. Nothing at all about the major problems with, oh, police murdering black people and not facing consequences typical for murder.

      Okay, you know what? Putting aside how laughably transparent this is, how dirty this is, how vile it is that they pretend to want your opinion but are going out of their way to make you answer a certain way . . . 

      Objectively, these questions are worded horribly if the survey wants to yield honest answers.

      I know, I know, they in no way are looking for differing opinions or anything beyond confirmation of their beliefs, which they will not honestly report anyway; they're looking for a way to create solidarity with people who already agree with them (and maybe they'll send money because they feel like they're Helping!), but . . . really?

      A child studying bias in middle school could smell the slant on this a mile away.

      I mean, if you want to talk about fake news, deliberately programming people to answer a certain way and *not giving them options to answer differently* is NOT ACTUALLY A SURVEY.

      This survey is "So, are you a Real one of US? You are, right? We are talking to you assuming you are, and that any Good Person who is With Us agrees with these things, and we want your opinion as long as it's the one we're angling for. Give us money and use your own stamp to tell us 'yes' in all the places we already think yes, confirm that we're right about things, and obliviously bleat Patriotic and Nationalistic phrases with no recognition that our language pressures you to agree with us." 

      Ugh the crap at the bottom asking for money even has a box for you to check that says "I am enclosing $15 to help pay for the cost of processing my Census document."

      Are you serious.

      You sent me this pretending you want my opinion but you're going to end the survey shaming me for making you process what I said without paying for the privilege.

      Look guys. I know some members of your audience are easily hoodwinked but good lord, you should be embarrassed by this. By how incendiary, how blatantly intolerant, how shamelessly biased this is. I know, I know it's nothing more than a thinly disguised excuse to ask people for money. But please. Don't pretend I was "selected" to voice my opinion and give me no way to do it. Don't squeal about some mythical "us" with a common enemy when you're making caricature villains out of my siblings. 

      And don't pretend you want to know what I think when this survey is designed to tell me what I should be thinking.


      Saturday, June 2, 2018

      Personal Digest Saturday: May 26 – June 1

      Life news this week:
      • Saturday began a long weekend where I finally got some time alone! I had to do a bunch of photo processing and review posting for my blogging stuff, but I got it all out of the way rather early, and then I made some GIFs of funny stuff, took photos of my new shirts, did some drawing, and made a video.
      • Sunday I did some house stuff, cleaning and laundry, and posted some art. I did my karaoke, talked to Meg on the phone, drew a writing comic, and started working on a very silly Steven Universe fan comic.
      • I spent nearly the entirety of Monday working on my Steven Universe fan comic, which is about Amethyst asking Garnet for advice on being a good leader, after which Amethyst uses her shapeshifting powers to turn into a purple Garnet and they start trolling each other. I can't believe the nonsense I spend my time on sometimes, but it was hilarious.
      • Tuesday I had to go back to work. It was a busy day because it was sort of like a Monday plus a Tuesday. I had a bunch of paperwork to do and a letter to edit, and a bunch of important stuff kept popping up for me to do. My friend Arthur picked me up from work and we ate at the same Thai restaurant as last week, and then we went to my house and watched cartoons. We ended up getting from episode 16 to episode 24--not as far as I hoped. But we got to play music again!
      • Wednesday I had to work on a sign inventory at work, and after work I went to Cici's Pizza with Jeaux and we went shopping and didn't really do anything, just talked and hung out.
      • Thursday I paid bills and updated people's resumes and training logs, and did more of the sign inventory. I drew some silly "selfies at work" drawings about cartoon characters, and when Victor called I finished my fan art and worked on my own art for the webcomic until we hung up and I fell asleep.
      • Friday I worked hard on some letters and projects for next week, and then my co-worker gave me a ride home. I took some funny pictures of toys and posted my comic shortly before the deadline.

      New reviews of my book:

      Reading progress:
      • Finished this week: Oh whoops I hardly even started reading the book I'm currently reading. Sorry.
      • Currently readingI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
        New singing performances:

        This week's song was "Express Yourself" by Madonna.

        Stuff Drawn:

        Colored pencil sketch of Kiki and Jenny in the summertime
        What if Amethyst impersonated Garnet for a day (and stole all her dance moves)?
        Click this to read my 16-panel SU fan comic "Hold That Pose."

        Pearls taking selfies with their Diamonds at work
        (The Yellow one is based on a real screenshot, and I made up Blue and Pink.)

        Webcomic So You write Issue 84: "For Kids."

        Webcomic Negative One Issue 0681: "Experiment."

        New videos:

        Letters to an Asexual #58 is about being confused over societal pressure to date vs. actual intrinsic desire to date.

        New photos:

        Silly capsule toys

        Social Media Counts:

        YouTube subscribers: 5,263 for swankivy (lost 13), 673 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Twitter followers: 942 for swankivy (6 new), 1,319 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 201 followers (lost 1) for swankivy, 654 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 56 likes for Negative One (no change), 138 likes for So You Write (3 new). Tumblr followers: 2,520 (3 new). Instagram followers: 144 (1 new).

        Wednesday, May 30, 2018

        Wednesday Factoid: Favorite Year

        Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What was your favorite year of school?

        I think the best year for me while I was actually going through it was probably my ninth grade year.

        I had just joined the chorus on a whim after not doing any singing classes in my life (beyond, you know, elementary school chorus practice), and something unexpected (to me) happened: I was singled out for being unusually adept. The teacher had encouraged anyone with an interest to try out for the All-State Chorus and I was one of only three people in the beginning chorus to get in (and the one with the highest scores), so I was just kinda, I don't know, blindsided by this cool realization that I was really good at something and maybe I could build a life around this. 

        Most of my focus and time went to my chorus stuff that year. I was really pretty obsessed with it--with my music, and learning new music theory stuff, and with spending time with people I knew from the classes. Along with All-State, I was also really excited about performing in the Madrigal Dinner event (even though my class as a beginner class had to play the serfs and do the waiting of tables), and I kinda looked up to the upperclassmen in the show choir as role models, thinking I'd get to do that one day.

        Halfway through the year I was promoted to the advanced choir and learned more intense music, and I was totally living for it, it was great. I auditioned to be in the show choir (even though people kept saying not to do it as a freshman because very few sophomores are included since it's super exclusive), but I actually got picked to be in it the next year and was on top of the world. 

        During the rest of the year outside chorus stuff, I also made some cool friends, got my first boyfriend, and felt really confident for really the first time in my young life. That was also the year I wrote my first novel, when I was fourteen.

        It's weird to think about how quickly all of that was over, too. My dad's job got moved to a different city and the family had to pick up and go, so I didn't get to continue singing with that group, didn't get to be in the show choir that I'd been selected for, had to leave my friends. My boyfriend dumped me, my summer camp for the chorus was full of weird anxiousness and awful crap, and everything kind of went to shit when it was over. 

        I am pleased to say I met some lifelong friends the following year and there were a LOT of aspects of that that made it way better than ninth grade, but since I was also dealing with some obnoxious boy problems for the entirety of my years at the high school I graduated from and because everything was a bit lower key in the music department, it just wasn't as weirdly magical a time as ninth grade was. Maybe if I'd gotten to keep any of it, it wouldn't have seemed so huge in retrospect. 

        Tuesday, May 29, 2018

        Three-Day Weekend!

        I had a three-day weekend because of Memorial Day this past weekend.

        I got a few invitations to do stuff but after having so little free time to myself for the last entire month, I decided I needed a weekend in. So I spent it by myself.

        May 5 & 6: Saturday was Free Comic Book Day out with my friends Jeaux and Victor; Sunday was Queer Brunch.

        May 12 & 13: Saw Deedee Magno Hall in concert (had to drive out of town) on Saturday and had Mom over for Mother's Day on Sunday.

        May 19 & 20: Out of town in Detroit for Jessie's wedding; flew out Friday, arrived back Sunday.

        May 26, 27, & 28: FINALLY SOME ME TIME!

        I spent Saturday doing my blogging and catching up with updating my photos and book reviews, and then I got to play online with updating some pictures of my cartoon merch and got some drawing in at night. And I recorded a new video.

        I spent Sunday doing laundry, drawing my writing webcomic, talking to Meggie on the phone, subtitling and processing my new video, doing karaoke, and playing my ukulele.

        I spent Monday, the day off, finishing my laundry, relaxing, and drawing comics for like eleven hours.

        It was an interesting mix of productive and relaxing--because almost everything I love to do to relax also involves making something. I'm a little disappointed in myself that I decided to indulge in drawing fun cartoon comics instead of maybe taking the opportunity to do some writing, story submission, or website editing, but sometimes you just have to do something fun.

        For a lot of people, "fun" means going out and "doing something," but the most fun activities I would default to are always solitary. It really is my idea of fun to stay in my house and draw for hours.

        It was an overdue and much-needed break, and I feel like I got a decent amount of rest and achieved a satisfying level of creative output, but I still want another weekend right now. :/

        Saturday, May 26, 2018

        Personal Digest Saturday: May 19 – May 25

        Life news this week:
        • Saturday I woke up in my hotel, went downstairs for breakfast in the hotel's restaurant, and got some blogging done in the room. Used the shower and got ready for my friend Jessie's wedding across the street on a boat! I had a little trouble finding it because I'm hopeless, but I let me phone talk me through it. I got to board the Detroit Princess and see Jessie get married to her love Max, and then we had the reception with some of the most fantastic wedding food I've ever had and some great cake, and I got to sit next to a really cute baby and some of the couple's friends. The boat crossed the border into Canadian waters, which was neat. I didn't get back to the hotel too late.
        • Sunday I got Uber to the airport and came really close to missing my flight; security was very crowded and moved very slow, so by the time I got through they were paging me to board! I didn't miss it though. The connecting flight was tight too, but not quite as bad and I was able to get a bagel before boarding. Back in Tampa, my Super Shuttle was kind of a disaster--the driver's system lied to him that I had checked in at a different place than I did and he kinda took it out on me even though there was no possible way I could have accidentally checked in at the ground transport area on the complete other side of the airport where he thought I was. Rude. I came home, unpacked, and took a nap for pretty much the rest of the day.
        • Monday I went back to work super tired. I edited a letter and didn't do a whole lot of other productive things, just adding to databases. My co-worker took me home because of the rain. I fell asleep after work and woke up again during the wee hours, finally finishing my laundry. Also found out one of my websites got hacked.
        • Tuesday I wrote a survey and did some office stuff, and I initiated steps to unhack my website. Made some progress. My friend Arthur picked me up after work and we bought some Thai food, then took it to my house and watched Steven Universe. (Arthur had asked to be introduced to the show, so of course I was happy to do so. We got through 15 episodes!) What's also fun is Arthur likes to play guitar and ukulele so whenever there was a song we'd stop and have a jam session. So much fun!
        • Wednesday was Jeaux Day and also Jeaux's birthday. He's 39! I took my cartography training and couldn't finish the exercises because my computer kept crashing when I tried to do animation on my maps. I got the hacking junk out of my site but deactivated it in the process. Jeaux and I ate at IHOP and grocery shopped at Target, and then at home we played around and I gave him his birthday present (one of those cool drones).
        • Thursday I managed to settle the issue with my website and it's back good as new. Also finished my cartography training and that was the last day so I got a certificate of completion. Hooray. Went home and drew a doodle of some cartoons and also talked to Victor on the phone while drawing my webcomic.
        • Friday I went to work, completed some reports for my boss, and went home after work to finish my webcomic. I fell asleep shortly after posting it because I've just been tired all week.

        New reviews of my book:

        Articles, Interviews, Mentions:

        Reading progress:
          New singing performances:

          This week's song was "As Is" by Ani DiFranco

          Stuff Drawn:

          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0680: "Sleep Mirrors Wakefulness."

          New videos:


          New photos:

          The outfit I wore to Jessie's wedding
          Jessie marrying Max
          Jessie dancing with her new husband
          Wonderful wedding cake! I got a piece of the bottom layer, which was minty.
          Classy wedding selfie with Jessie

          Social Media Counts:

          YouTube subscribers: 5,276 for swankivy (lost 5), 674 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 936 for swankivy (4 new), 1,320 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 202 followers (no change) for swankivy, 655 likes for JulieSondra (lost 2), 56 likes for Negative One (1 new), 135 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,517 (lost 4). Instagram followers: 143 (no change).

          Wednesday, May 23, 2018

          Wednesday Factoid: Rafting vs. Gliding

          Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Would you rather go whitewater rafting or hang gliding?

          I'm not very interested in either and don't actively want to do either one, but if I were made to choose and had to do one, I'd probably pick hang gliding. I'm not afraid of heights and "flying" around would be pretty neat, while I'm not so good with water and I think whitewater rafting would probably be cold and a little more physically intense? I don't know if one is more dangerous than the other or if you need training or whatever. Plus I think with hang gliding you're controlling the apparatus on your own while in a whitewater raft you're going to be with other people, right? I'd rather do it by myself.

          Tuesday, May 22, 2018


          Gonna write about some petty stuff. 

          The example I'm using involves arguing with some kid about cartoons. The overall message I'll get to in a minute is broader.

          So! I had a pointless argument with someone on a cartoon fan site. It's about this Steven Universe character, Yellow Diamond.

          Because of the way she looks, some people have wondered whether her hair is a helmet. And it's so easy to mistake for a helmet that actually a couple of the people who work on the show have mistakenly called it a helmet. A popular cartoon analyst on YouTube made a video about this back when one of the show artists made this mistake during a drawing livestream, spreading the news to everyone that it must officially be a helmet because Kat Morris called it a helmet.

          I know, this sounds really silly, arguing about what's on a cartoon character's head. But stay with me here.

          Because I follow stuff about this show pretty intensely, I knew that this artist Kat Morris later published a clarification on her blog to say actually Yellow is not wearing a helmet, and she even had to correct some show art that made it look too much like helmet lines in the final drawings for the show. She apologized on her blog for saying the wrong thing.

          And then recently another show artist, Joe Johnston, accidentally referred to it as a helmet on his blog while answering a question, and when someone asked for confirmation he wrote this.

          I think he means it, y'all.

          So when I saw someone on one of my favorite sites posting that Yellow Diamond's hair is actually a helmet, claiming "Rebecca Sugar said so herself!" I was curious where they were getting that information. Rebecca Sugar is the creator of Steven Universe. I had my doubts that Rebecca was a third artist on the show to be making that mistake, so I commented on the person's article and told them that Joe Johnston has recently said otherwise pretty adamantly. (I shared the image of him writing "hair" over and over again.)

          So this kid's response to me was to be pretty snotty, sneering that *Rebecca Sugar* THE CREATOR OF THE SHOW YOU KNOW said otherwise sooooooo. I asked for where they'd gotten that info because two other artists on the show have made that glitch but I hadn't seen Rebecca do it. They linked me to the popular fan video I mentioned earlier, claiming "She says it somewhere in this video, skip to 1:30." The video was Kat Morris, NOT Rebecca, and nothing in the video misrepresents it as being Rebecca either. It's an easy mistake to make if you're not super familiar with them, but to mistake one for the other, you'd have to ignore the introduction and the captions. You'd basically have to assume any dark-haired woman with glasses drawing for the show must be Rebecca.

          Left: Rebecca; Right, Kat
          I came back and gently corrected the person, informing them that this was not Rebecca, and that the person who DID say it, Kat Morris, printed a retraction on her blog shortly afterwards. I showed the person a screencap of the blog and said I remembered the confusion when this originally aired, and I was glad that it's cleared up now.

          Well, the person replied to me a couple more times but I wasn't able to read the comments because before I could they deleted the entire thread. Okay, fair enough, you're embarrassed that you tried to shove evidence in my face without making sure it was what you thought it was, and now you want to delete all evidence because you're kind of a turd. But what really irked me? Is that the person left the post up with no clarification, apparently happy to still claim they'd discovered THIS WAS OFFICIALLY A HELMET NOT HAIR AND REBECCA SAID SO, wow, and didn't seem interested in being corrected.

          This is where it gets kind of frustrating. See, ultimately? It doesn't really matter to me if someone chooses to be ignorant, especially over something very insignificant like a cartoon character's design. But I was wondering if there had been some explanation for this in the comments they deleted (and if they realized the comments never got to me), so I commented again to ask what messages they'd tried to send. They said it wasn't important and I said I thought it was disingenuous to delete a conversation that disproved their claim and then leave it up like nothing happened--especially since they were putting words in someone's mouth, claiming Rebecca said something she has not said.

          The kid deleted what I said there too, went to my account profile, and posted "TRASH" on it.

          I replied with a funny GIF of one of the characters yelling "I'M REPORTING THIS!" and did so. They protested that ALL THEY DID WAS SAY "TRASH" and oh well later hater and blocked me.

          Now here's the thing.

          Again, ultimately? Arguments like this aren't important.

          But in the grand scheme of things?

          Why are some people SO DEAD SET AGAINST learning new information?

          Why do they react to well-researched, indisputable, accessible counterpoints by erasing evidence, doubling down on their demonstrably wrong positions, and lashing out at people who tried to help them learn?

          When this happens, I always wonder if there could have been a way for me to change my approach to reach a better conclusion. This person behaved like I had attacked them. Regardless of the fact that new information on a topic you're not informed about should not feel like an attack, they behaved exactly as if I was out to HURT them or EMBARRASS them. I mean, I don't know how old this person was (and I'm assuming they were a child because a) there are many children on that site and b) they type in a certain slightly incoherent way that's common with kids--I'm quite familiar with it after hosting kids' chat rooms for years). As the "mature" person in a situation like this, it's really my responsibility to do something so my audience receives my intended message, right?

          This is very hard when the other person is wrong, full stop, and there is no room for concession or negotiation on it. It's a little different if it's a matter of opinion, but we were arguing about an established fact, and I was absolutely right and they were absolutely wrong. I had more information, and I was willing to show it to them, and I did so without taunting them or trying to make them feel bad, but I think the problem is that certain kinds of people always feel threatened by being corrected NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO.

          I immediately became less willing to make allowances for their probable youth and their possible embarrassment or hurt feelings as soon as they sneered at me as if I'm the one who doesn't know who Rebecca Sugar is. I was not going out of my way to make sure this snotty person had their negative feelings assuaged after they demonstrated willingness to shove evidence in my face without examining it. But if some kid responds to being corrected by arguing shrilly, deleting everything when they realize they look ridiculous, and responding with namecalling, well, I'm thinking there probably was not much chance that I would have gotten through to this person no matter what my initial approach was.

          Is there ALWAYS a path to amicable settling of differences with people like this, or are people like this just impossible to argue with because they will not, under any circumstances, accept any input that amounts to "you're wrong"?

          I've known people before who were like this--it didn't matter what I said or how I said it; if I corrected something they claimed or asked for clarification, first came the aggressive defense, then came the personal incredulity, then came either the deflection of blame or the complete derailment. "It is too XYZ!" "How dare you suggest I'd be wrong about this!" "Okay fine but So-And-So told me XYZ and HE'S an expert/Well I guess I can never be right about ANYTHING because you went to college and I didn't." This pattern would immediately begin as soon as I requested more information about why they believed something I thought was wrong or explicitly told them it was wrong.

          In short, correcting someone like this is OFFENSIVE, and there is no acceptable way to do it.

          If possible, I look for face-saving possibilities if the other person is displaying signs of reacting this way. I remind them that it's a common misconception, or agree that if someone billing themselves as an expert told them that, it's not their fault for being mistaken. I can braid in some understanding, or point out that lots of people have repeated their wrong belief without including the full context that would allow them to know why it's wrong, but so, so often, they're simply hostile to changing what they believe even if it's a very simple argument with an incomplex answer. If I'm correcting you about which Founding Father is on the twenty-dollar bill, I shouldn't have to pat you on the head soothing you with the assurance that yes that guy DOES look a lot like that other guy, or give in to your misconception that maybe it USED to be the guy you thought, or let you get out of the conversation by insisting that you remembered the information perfectly from third grade but your teacher taught you the wrong thing. I just . . . you're responsible for your own education, and if you want to know the real answer and you have respect for logic, you should never respond like this to new information--whether it's about a cartoon character's hair or about your whole world view.

          You need to be able to evolve and learn new things. Being actively hostile to new information because it makes you feel silly for not knowing it is not a rational option.