Friday, April 30, 2010

Many a female will complain that her significant other has one friend who is just a bad influence. When those boys go out drinking, they will come home at 3am, singing and missing pants, having spent the rent money on strippers.

I thought that C had no friends like this, but after a drunken Gchat about wedding invitations and Hachi, I'm going to nominate his father as a candidate.

I hate your face, ISTJ: stop pretending such behavior is normal.

Here are some tips, ISTJ.

It is normal to wax nostalgic about the treehouses of your youth. It is even reasonably normal to build a treehouse as an adult. If one were to make it slightly elaborate, that would be understandable. It is not normal to have a treehouse with three stories, a retractable roof, running water, electricity, wifi, and a queen sized bed. Oh, you're putting in a hot tub and a fifty foot rope swing? Well, I guess you have to keep up with the Jones.

It is normal to spend the weekend tinkering in the garage. Repairing bookshelves, that's normal. Tinkering with your car, perfectly sane. Building your mother a harp with hand tools; that's so sweet that we'll call it normal. Wiring pretty much everything electronic in your house so it can be turned on over the internet with a user interface so complex your wife plans to burn your house when you die? That's not normal. When she wakes up and you've been hard at work (in your treehouse) for four hours- it's a little creepy to remotely trigger the coffee machine and turn on the hot water heater. But let's talk about the rail gun. An adult building a rail gun in the garage is atypical, even if it doesn't work very well.

You see how I mentioned turning on the hot water heater? It's normal to leave it on all the time, actually. I've been lucky enough to meet two people who graph the gas used by the hot water heater, and they are both ISTJs. (Bonus points: derive an equation that approximates gas use.) Oh, and if you're really concerned about cutting costs, you can set up a passive solar heater in the garden and shower there. Even when it snows, what the heck. The fences are plenty high, don't worry. Possibly your teenager has some friends over, but the social stigma from a dad who runs naked through the backyard in sleet is minimal. Much less than when a father has his math class correlate increased hot water usage with the child entering puberty.

I think I've given up. I know I'm not the person to enforce societal norms or reasonable behavior. I'll just watch. Next to the phone. Oh, you put 911 on speed dial because previous accidents have made your fingers unreliable? It's 6? Maybe you should label that.

You know how everyone else just complains about all the snow plows dump in their driveway? Go ahead and shovel the street before they show up. You're awake anyway.

Weigh yourself every morning to see if you're dehydrated. Bike cross country with your infant. Grow mushrooms in your bedroom. Convert your bathroom into a darkroom. And explosives... what problems can't you solve with explosives? Have you met advice dog?

And yet on dates you reportedly talk about your stock portfolio all night.

I hate your face, INFJ: you aren't my mom.

INFJs will clean the kitchen without being asked. They will move everything two feet to the left or right, exactly beyond the distance where one glances. They will alphabetize the spices- my goodness, I didn't know I had three jars of allspice- and since so many spices in tiny jars are near the front of the alphabet (damn pumpkin pie) they will built a wall, an embankment that separates the cook from the salt, sugar, pepper, and vanilla.

They will replace the toaster because it is a "fire hazard". They will provide a new toaster that works fine without being watched, so you can wander away while making breakfast and return eight hours later to find cold toast.

Sometimes they will do other household chores as punishment for some complex moral issue no one else understands. Or they will eat all your raisins because they hate raisins and they were cruel earlier, so they need some raisins.

They will help you move. They will be unable to sleep in a strange house. They will unpack your things while you are sleeping and arrange all your books by publisher. You will not find your candy thermometer until the next time you move.

They will be understanding about being awoken at 6 am because you think they hid the cutting boards. They will always volunteer to be the DD, no matter who they are hanging out with. They are the leading cause of hungover strangers on your couch.

You know those sonic pest repellents? No poison, no traps, just a high pitched tone that gently discourages gophers from eating your daffodils. Living with an INFJ is like being the 5% of the population that can hear that tone.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I hate your face, INTJ: You cannot replace everyone with spreadsheets.

You could probably replace me tho.

I really started this series to bitch about a certain personality type- but every time I try, white objects take on a migrainy sinister glow. Let's talk about INTJs instead.

For the first 25 years of my life, I thought an INTJ was what you became when you grew up. One day, a larval INTP spins a cocoon of unfolded laundry, electronics with dead batteries, and sheets that should have been washed some time ago. The sheets are full of crumbs also; this is important. After a long weekend, a beautiful INTJ emerges, capable of designing an experiment, drafting a thesis, and hobnobbing with professors while rewashing all that disgusting laundry. Caring about bacteria that may get into cuts on bare feet seemed like a small price. Thus, I tried really hard not to hate them. It would be like hating my future self.

But I'm surrounded by them. It's time to admit I'll never ever ever be like them. Thank God.

How surrounded? Here's a list: Father figure, baby brother, Conquistador lord of the Undead, R, Drewscriver, Estebe, current supervisor, and godfather. If they're 1% of the population, I must smell like steak sauce.

I don't mind that they're always right. It's like one stop shopping for your opinions. All my very best debates are bodily lifted from my INTJ cohorts. I expect to learn why my opinions on INTJs are wrong shortly after publishing this, and to be completely convinced.

I don't mind that they're surly. The mind is strong, but the flesh is weak. It continues to be weak regardless of how much one yells at it. So frustrating.

I do mind the paranoia though. In fact, everyone minds it. We've been talking about it when they're just out of the room, explaining how irritating and unwarranted it is, and then making fun of their hair. Specifically their facial hair.

It's just that they are all too willing to assume malice when stupidity is the more likely culprit. Or assume stupidity when the other person has radically different goals or techniques. They aren't willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Specially jerks. They are totally unwilling to try to see the jerk's side of things.*

When an INTJ wants something done, they will either issue a direct order or put on a persuasive Power Point Presentation. (No joke, the godfather proposed with one of these.) They'll never slip in that they'd consider it a personal favor, or that it might look good when you're looking for a raise, or that they picked you up from the mechanic last month. It's as of they were ESL students who skipped the conditional and interrogative forms to spend more time on the imperative.

There are people out there who do not like blunt orders from surly people who are always right. Goddammit INTJ, remember that they aren't plotting against you, they just hate you. If you'd consider that other people have different ways of seeing the world- that they aren't just inferior versions of your superior intellect- then you'd realize that no one else spends their free time stewing over how to damage people they hate. They just vex you whenever an opportunity arises.

*This seriously inhibits their ability to manipulate said jerk into either aiding the INTJ or falling into a clever trap. There Drewscriver, you can use this post for your evil machinations now.

I hate your face, ISFP: Hurry up!

That's my only complaint. They are sloooooooooooooooooooww. They take forever. Creeping. Ponderous. Phlegmatic. Elephantine. Measured. Lackadaisical. Cautious. Thorough.

See, while I came up with all those adjectives, the ISFP just wrote "slow". Slowly.

Also they are more effective at focused activities than I am. I refuse to believe this is related.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The most useful thing I learned in high school

My Spanish teacher once taught us formal tenses by pretending to be a professor of moths. He was arrogant, insistent on extreme formality, and surprisingly callous about the loss of many of his immediate family members. Also, hilarious. Imagine some relic of the 19th century alive today, insisting on archaic etiquette. What a clever teacher to think of such an absurd character. Oh, how I laughed.

Not so funny now, really.

The most useful thing I learned in college was rock climbing. And to always ask where the free cookies came from.

I hate your face, INTP: you aren't smart enough to be this dumb.

It's only fair that I open this series (certain to be incomplete, as I avoid swaths of the personality spectrum) with my own personality type. Also C's.

Our house will never be clean.

You know the absent minded professor? That is who the INTP wants to be. Socially accepted enough to not die alone, but not burdened by social mores. (While finding that link, I wandered away for three hours.) They dream of doing something valuable so well that people will work around their terrible incompetence. Then they can spend hours internetting or pouring water from one vessel to another or figuring out the social interactions of the local feral cats while someone makes them tea and pays the phone bill.

But this is hard! People are generally unwilling to do such things unless one is really really smart. And affable. And reasonably competent about certain emotionally significant issues.

So the INTP applies these skills like a veneer. One has to be reasonably dedicated to study oneself into appearing clever, one must fake extroversion in order to get an audience and minions, one must be slightly empathetic to know when one is truly irritating, and one must be detail oriented enough to remember to wear clean clothes and wedding anniversaries. After a few years of adulthood, you have something that resembles a functional human being.

Then the universe applies stress, and everything goes to hell.

There is no one more calculating, more cold, more cowardly than an INTP who feels put upon. They'll sell you down the river to get five minutes of quiet. If they have an interpersonal problem, their decision tree looks like this:

cut enemy's brake lines> grind teeth down to nubs > abandon bits of life that contain said person >> talk out problem

Also they can lose something neon in an empty room.


If you couldn't tell, I was a bit envious of the dude in the last article- Oh my goodness, so many cool finds! Welp, today I found something.

266 kilograms of toxic waste. In a barrel.

Sometimes I envy those environmental ecology majors who spent their education learning job skills instead of taking three years of chemistry. They know the fungi, they know the birds, they know the fish...

But I know how to read a Material Science Data Sheet that's been sitting in the weather for 20 years. And it's toxic! Reactive! Flammable! Flammable vapors! Extremely damaging to the ozone! Right next to a reservoir! (Hello my downstream readers.) Right next to a campground!

Beat that, fancy pants.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Short Faced Bears.

Okay, this is just too awesome for words. It's an article about the Bay Area during the Pleistocene. There was a river to rival the Amazon! The continental shelf was exposed, resulting in a thirty mile band of coastal prairie west of Golden Gate Bridge! There were mammoths, cave lions, cheetahs, dire wolves, and giant ground sloths! There was a twelve foot tall bear than could sprint 40 mph!

If there were three huge rivers trisecting the Bay Area, the island effect would lead to speciation- populations would be divided, and you'd expect to see an unreasonably high number of endemics. And this is so! I've been fretting about the diversity of crazy rare plants in the Bay for a while.

The best part of the article is that it cribs heavily from a book on Paleobotany that is currently on my nightstand. I now have more reason to feel guilty about not reading it.

No, the best part is that the type specimen for short-faced bears is from Shasta Caverns- an entire skeleton! Oh my goodness, that is an awe-inspiring thing to contemplate.

I bumped into a friend of my parents in a field of poison oak behind a locked gate yesterday. He gave me a list of everything he'd found in the area, starting with a field stripped rifle (a 308, so nothing super scary) wrapped in several garbage bags, a couple of caves, a rare aster, a rare salamander, a feral pig skull, and a terrible allergy to Toxicodendron. Thus, I am inspired to find bear teeth. (I have previously stated that I maintain certain friendships primarily for entertainment value and exposure to truly insane schemes- remind me to do a post on R's first roommate- and I believe this man serves a similar purpose for my father. Except he's pleasant. And most of his schemes involve trail building and waterway restoration.)

Also, I keep bitching about poison oak in the abstract, fact-of-life fashion that occurs in the workplace, and people keep offering sympathy. At work, I'll say "I want to bite this skin and worry at the rash like a dog." and my coworkers respond "I'm so coated in tar I no longer do a spot check before peeing." On Facebook, I make a pleasant reference to Technu showers, and dudes start talking about how they once had oak balls whilst ladies try to sell me on pharmaceuticals.

I want to do a series on "Why I hate your Myers/Briggs personality type", but I think it may be unwise. Thoughts?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I was peeved because one of my favorite bloggers hadn't updated in a couple of months. She's extraordinarily hapless and still somehow a functioning adult. On the other hand, she tends to let blogging slide. Like a slacker.


Yup, she has ear cancer.

Fancy Pants

I bought my first pair of Carharts. They're awesome.

They have a second panel from the shin to the mid-thigh- to protect against brush. When I am walking, certain angles of fabric and skin convince me that there is something pressing against my calf. I then do my automatic shuffle that frees me from low growing vines or entrapping sticks.

I understand it is quite humorous to watch.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Yesterday my cousin* posted her disappointment with Obama's decision to skip the Polish president's funeral. (It's a trap! the want him to prove he can fly without a jet. You know who else can fly unaided? The Antichrist.) Today she posted extensive Leonard Cohen lyrics on a sadomasochistic relationship. (Possibly she does not realize.) Then she started talking about Sailor Moon and math being hard. I'm delighted.

*I have twenty-three cousins. Probably. I can't be bothered to think of awesome nicknames for each of them, so as far as you are concerned, dear readers, I have two cousins. One with a gender identity crisis, three different religions, anorexia, diabetes, Obamania and tea party delusions who lives in seven different states and occasionally France or Haiti. The other is Pete.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


C's visiting. We're introverts, so our visit is currently sitting in different rooms, typing on separate computers. This is the worst part of the long distance relationship bit: we like each other very much and are sad because we don't spend more time together, but after ten hours together we desperately need to sit quietly.

I keyed three county records this week- I'm a little disturbed. There must be an error in my technique. Also, pleased.

I'm souring on Facebook. I have a friend from kindergarten on there. She is raucous. Her profile picture disturbs me. Reading about her life is either depressing or irritating. (It's not tragic that people can't fly to Europe. It's tragic when people die, not when our magic floating boxes don't work.) Also, she adores me and comments on most things I say. Unfriending would make me feel like a terrible person! So bad!

We bumped into people while we were out for a walk: they asked about the Chilean earthquake. C was talking about how some buildings that should have been fine were not fine, and that was vexing. Literally dozens of people were killed, he said. I started thinking about infrastructure.

All of his family lives pretty much like college students, even into their forties. I'm just beginning to understand that's because their infrastructure is so good. For instance, one of the major complaints about the last president was her messing with the bus schedules. For another, an 8.6 earthquake knocked out power for 36 hours, and they complained. A snowstorm took out a line somewhere and we were electricityless for twice that long and were still soldering on. (Oh no, one can cook Christmas dinner in the fireplace. Let's sit around and sing carols!) This is a culture where the framework for civilization is solid. And entirely government owned.

That sounds nice. Except for the looting.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Rewards for Behaving Unwisely.

Today I had a meeting with my work leader, the botany specialist, and the head of the alive things that are not underwater department. We were hammering out plans for the summer. We discussed a scheduling conflict where my work leader needs to go work on another project for a while, and she expressed confidence that I could work alone for a couple of weeks.

Somehow that led to me complaining about my previous job to everyone at the meeting. It was in a light joking matter- I swear it was- but still a faux pas, no?

Right. It informed the botany specialist of my experience with certain geologic formations. This led to me looking up a couple of free internet tools for him. These allowed him to cut several hours off of a proposed project, which enabled the company to submit a lower bid.

So... gossip and malingering led bonding with my superiors and possibly getting my company a job. I...

I think I might start doing the reverse of whatever job advice I get.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lares and Pennates

One of my favorite columnists warns his readers when he's going to be talking about his cats. I feel like I should have a similar warning for my posts on analysis of trashy literature.

There's only so much "turn rock over, check for snails, turn log over, check for snails" that the brain can do without offering up a couple of revelations.

About a fantasy novel I read ten years ago. Shut up.

In Small Gods, Lu Tze says he changed the history of Omnia from some horrific perpetual holy war to the land of earnest, questioning, pamphlet distributing theists we know and love. I always figured that the sabotage of the Turtle (steam tank!) was his contribution.

So I was turning over rocks, and I realized- Om falls on a pile of compost! Because of the compost, the Great God Om (holy horns) was trapped in the disturbingly pragmatic body of a tortoise. Which means that originally, the library was lost, Didactylos was probably executed, and Brutha became just another fire and war prophet. And then died. And the Ephebe attacked with steam tanks, and rebels rose against the church, and Om died.

So yeah, that's a pretty useful pile of compost.


So Kate introduced me to Health at Every Size. I read the first three chapters and the last two, and conveniently missed all the "moderate exercise" and "prevent insulin spikes" stuff that actually promotes health. Mostly I have been hanging out with the appetite directed eating, basically loading up on chocolate and fat. Nom.

Hey, other people who went to college with me on Christmas Island! Remember all the wall posts looking for women who wanted to lose weight? Yeah, that was for this study. The author explained that they would never permanently lose weight and that their attempts to do so were slowly killing them. Then she stole their lunch money.

I don't know what I was thinking about dieting before I read the book. I have poor instinct control. I can't keep myself from falling asleep at my bedtime, I can't resist mocking people who irritate me, I scratch my poison oak until I have bleeding welts... Sure, I could remain constantly vigilant about my body's attempts to sabotage my eating plan forever. I will totally be one of the 5% who can lose more than 10 pounds permanently. This is a good use of my mental resources.

Anyway, after a couple of months of such things, I weigh about what I always weigh. My clothes still fit. I've stopped buying ice cream on the way home from work because my desire for fat is so strong that I fantasize about drinking olive oil. My hair looks fantastic.

On the other hand, it's been hard, because it brings home how much female bonding is based off of body shame. Women talk about how fat they feel, or how much weight they've recently lost. I was always fuzzy on the appropriate social response, but now I just feel like grabbing them and shaking them while yelling "IT'S A TRAP! YOUR BRAIN IS IN A TRAP!"

So yeah, my apologies to anyone I've offended with that shit recently. Also, if I send you a book about fat acceptance, it's not because I think you're fat. It's because it's an awesome book. Thanks Kate!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Speaking of Vaudeville...

We just mapped Moore Creek. The following conversation occurred.

"Put Moore Creek on the map."- H
"But I think I've gotten everything in the polygon. Where do I need to put more?"- J
"That looks fine. Just put Moore creek on the map." -H
"Like... into the lake?" -J
"Moore Creek. The creek is named Moore Creek." -in unison, after a pause.

Also I bumped into my old next door neighbor. We were both working, and the jobs we were working on were quite different from the jobs we last had. There was a certain amount of economy commiseration. Also, his coworker's huge black dog butted my hand until I petted him.

Later I found that this dog was normally extremely aggressive towards strange people crawling around the repair yard. I was hoping for a meeting around coworkers so I could show my (fake) psychic dog taming skills, but no dice.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Roundabout Explanation for a Pun

One of the most important things we look for when delineating wetlands is scour- evidence that water flows, removing leaves and topsoil.

Remember I' from Arrested Development? There's no site I can link to- sad!- but when Oscar is mistaken for his brother George and arrested, he starts a website to prove his innocence: I'

Later, Saddam Hussein tries a similar tactic.

Whenever there's a drainage that we don't have to map, I note "no scour" instead of all the other facts. Then I sing "I am no!"

It took me a while before I realized my boss had no idea what I was talking about.

Also welcome Cuervitito!

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's a wonder they hire me.

Often my job entails walking through a sunny field, staring at the ground. In the summer, the ground in a sunny field is full of grasshoppers. Every time, and I do mean every time, I curl my hands into claws and start stomping theatrically. I yell "TOKYO IN RUINS, FOR GODZILLA LIVES AGAIN! FLEE PEOPLE OF JAPAN, FLEE INTO THE HILLS!"

I do this whether or not other people are around. For those of you wondering if I am capable of shame or theatrics.

My most cogent current wedding plan involves setting the gifts up like a makeshift city, and yelling "BRIDEZILLA APPROACHES! FLEE HER WRATH!"

Adorably Human

This reminds me of the time I got schooled on feminism by a two-year-old.

It's fueling some debates on sociology pages about parents unconsciously enforcing heteronormative behavior- things seem evenly split between "Aw, so cute" and "That man is crushing his child's spirit by insisting that he act like a man."

I was babysitting a little girl with a forceful personality. At some point my mother's voice came out of my mouth and said "Has anyone ever told you you're bossy?". She fixed me with her steely gaze.
"Yes." she said, "I am a bossy girl. And that is a good thing for a girl to be. My mom is bossy, my sister is bossy, and all my aunts are bossy. I want to be like them."

To my credit, after blinking a little, I said "You are absolutely right."

Follow ups

Remember how I was all "the wedding industrial complex will be the next bubble"? C keeps cold calling vendors and dangling double the budget in front of them, and they keep being incredibly willing to compromise. And travel.

Remember how I was complaining about Girl Scout Cookies? Here's how to make them from scratch. Without cottonseed oil.

Watch this. It's good for you.

Oh, and I was blathering about getting lost. I think I need to append notes, as a couple acquaintances had nasty embarrassing encounters with nature recently. Sometimes things go wrong, and it sucks. You can't prepare for everything.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

I have seen this scene in three pieces of media

Amistad isn't the only one who's got a fancy NDA at work. I think it's safe to tell y'all an anecdote though.

My crew was having lunch. One member turned to another, offering a bag of dried fruit.

"Wanna date?" she asked. He stared at her in horror and incomprehension for about four seconds before figuring things out. Vaudeville isn't dead, it's just sleeping.

Speaking of media from the first part of the last century, here's a discussion of the Jazz Age by Fitzgerald. It's eirily appropriate for the previous era, except with the gender politics. He wrote it during the rally after the first plunge of the Depression, just before everything went to hell again. Like now!