Thursday, June 30, 2016

One of my toes hurts. It doesn't look bruised, and palpation suggests it's not broken or dislocated. It's just sort of a stabby-yanking pain, like the high-tension wire-pull feeling you get when you try to stretch a muscle that doesn't want to cooperate, only it happens kind of at random.

Moving it doesn't help. Neither does not moving it. Pressing on it, not pressing on it, elevating it, dangling it off the edge of the bed, keeping it warm, keeping it cool, and knocking back more Aleve don't do anything, either. The pain is neuropathic, an adjective formed from the roots neuro-, "nerve", and -pathy, "with which something has gone wrong". A nerve has become angered for mysterious, inscrutable nerve reasons, and now my toe hurts.

This happens a fair amount. Normally my brain just sort of edits it out. I pay attention to things that change state with stimuli. A foot that twinges sharply when I put weight on it or head pain that lessens when I turn off the lights are things I can affect, and I'm not dumb enough to do things that make parts of me hurt more. Some aches are in a gray area; I can't really stop using my knees or my back, but I make an effort to be nice and not bang them up any more than I really need to. Things that take up hurting for no real reason, don't progress to hurting more in a way that suggests damage is being done, and don't stop hurting when I stop using them, I ignore.

The toe doesn't really hurt that much -- it's not to the point where I can't just quit paying attention to it -- but it annoys me. It's the standard bearer. When one thing knocks me out of whack, my nervous system basically just throws its metaphorical hands up in the air and gives up trying to maintain homeostasis. Sort of like Boston PD Parking Enforcement on Allston Christmas. Do whatever you want, try not to break anything important, we'll sort things out tomorrow.

I don't necessarily have a lot of reserves for dealing with stressors. It's always seemed to me that with other people, if their friends were a 2 on the stress scale, and work was a 3, and maybe this one specific day they had bad hay fever that hit a 4, they'd be suffering to the tune of 2 + 3 + 4 = 9 and be able to drag themselves forward whilst complaining, whereas I'd end up at 2 x 3 x 4 = 24, and it would tank me completely. Whether this is down to health issues or inborn temperament, or if I'm just a morally-deficient parasite, depends on who you ask. Regardless of the reason, it is what it is, and I've been this way as long as I can remember. Getting shouted at has never done anything to fix it, so I try not to make it anyone else's problem. I shout at myself enough for everybody.

Right now I think the immediate cause is that the weather took a sharp left turn at Albuquerque, and went from 'quite nice, really' to 'unbearably hot in between bouts of violent rain' over the course of about 24 hours. I deal with heat poorly at the best of times. Growing up in Phoenix was fun. I had no idea why anyone would ever enjoy anything about summers until I moved to New England and realized I wasn't at risk of heatstroke every time I went outside, and that non-Bermuda grass is soft and pleasant to walk on.

I kept track of all of the random bodily malfunctions for a while, thinking I should probably have some kind of journal to show a doctor. There were a depressing number of entries on the spreadsheet, none of which I could do anything about, so I quit. A similar fate befell the records when I tried keeping track of how much I was eating. The sheet says I only cracked 1600 calories a day two or three times over a couple of weeks, so clearly something went wrong there. I'm still walking around and my clothes still fit reasonably well, so I suspect the problem was less that I actually eat that little and more that I was too lazy to measure anything and guessed at portion sizes by eyeball.

People complain about the aches and pains of getting older, so I assume some amount of this is expected when you hit your mid-thirties? I really have no idea how normal it is or isn't. I'm unlikely to need any kind of hard proof in any case. There is technically a genetic test I can take that will show if I have any of the polymorphisms associated with Ehlers-Danlos, but in clinical practice nobody is going to argue with me after I've hooked my fingers on the edge of the exam table and bent my hand backwards.

It's amazing how much less flack you get for self-diagnosis when you can put on a live demonstration. I would have been casually swinging my foot over my head twenty years ago if I'd known it would magically make people fucking listen. Not my mother, obviously. She bends the same way (AFAIK, most of the family does, on both sides; the inheritance pattern for EDS is autosomal dominant, albeit with variable penetrance) and she for some reason thinks she's normal. But, you know, medical personnel who still reside on Planet Earth are remarkably attentive after I've pretzeled up in their office.

The best (read: most irritating) part is that this chaos in the central office also sets off basically the entire alarm panel, and I can't shut any of it down without also knocking myself into a coma. I gave up on talking to Jazmin the other night because I couldn't tell if the interaction felt off because she was tired and didn't want to chat, or because I felt lousy and that was overriding any real feedback. It's kind of like checking yourself for injuries with broken fingers -- if touching everything involves an OW, no matter what or where it is, it might actually be your probing hand that's busted.

[There's a similar story, probably apocryphal, that goes around in IT circles. A new hire comes bursting into the central networking office of some global conglomerate shouting that everything is broken, their Big Board O' Status Lights has gone completely red, outages all across the world, nothing is responding to anything, complete collapse. The old-timer in charge looks up and calmly asks, "Has global thermonuclear war broken out?" Well, no, says the n00b. "All right, then," says the greybeard. "Go reboot the status monitor." And after stabbing the reset switch on the machine that produced the outage reports, all was well again.]

I know things are getting unpleasant when I start wanting to lock my bedroom door. I know full well this is not going to do anything. If anyone knocks, I'm just going to get up, unlock the damn door, and open it. It's more that I'm burrowing in and trying to prevent anyone from bursting in and startling me, in the hopes that if I can just avoid making any sudden moves or having any unnecessary sensory input my headache will go away and random body parts will stop complaining. This is also ridiculous. One, my roommates aren't that rude, and two, by the time I've had that thought I'm already unhappy enough that the sound of a knock alone is enough to make me jump out of my skin.

Two and a half, most of the sharp noises in my immediate environment are produced by either a food bowl or an indignant rat getting shoved off a shelf and landing hard on the floor of their cage. Locking the door doesn't ward them off; they live in here with me.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Mystery: Anthonette Cayedito

The 1986 disappearance of 9-year-old Anthonette Cayedito from her home in Gallup, New Mexico, is a sad and in many ways strange story. There is an excellent summary with links here on Reddit, but the gist is that Anthonette Cayedito answered the door to someone claiming to be a relative at 3 in the morning(!) and never came home again. There have been a couple of sightings, one of which was a waitress who claims to have had contact with her and found a secret note begging her to call police.

The other interesting point of contact was a phone call that the Gallup Police Department received from someone who claimed to be Anthonette in 1987. The police could not pinpoint where the call originated, because it was "too short to trace". One of the commenters, whom I am guessing is in their twenties at best, complains that this must be either lies or incompetence, because tracing phone calls takes no time at all -- once the call is completed, all the information is right there!

This is true today, especially on digital cell networks. Data on cell networks is routed just like data on the internet: the signal is split into packets, and each packet has a header on it that says "I came from X and I'm going to Y." The packet enters the network at node A, which looks at the header and calculates the shortest path between itself and Y. The first stop on that path is node B, so A throws the packet to B. Node B looks at the header, calculates the shortest path between itself and Y, sees that the next closest stop is node C, etc, etc, etc. Phone calls are instantly traceable now, because none of the intervening stops matter -- each chunk is labeled with its origin, which is the thing you're trying to find.

There are ways to lie to the routers about what X is, but their utility is limited. Even phones with illegally cloned SIMs don't lie about it. (Your billing is tied to a unique serial number on your SIM card. That's why when you upgrade your phone, you just move the SIM card over and the phone company magically knows the new phone belongs to you. Cloned SIMs are used to make calls that get billed to the unsuspecting owner of the original, legitimate SIM that has that serial number) The phone at Y reads and generally trusts the packet headers, and so will try to send all of its reply packets to X, where the header says you are, rather than to Z, where your phone actually is. You can broadcast but you can't receive, which means this is really only useful for people with espionage-grade paranoia, with specially modified equipment, who only need to call out. I don't even know that a commercial handset will complete a call if it can't handshake with the destination phone.

Phones did not work like this in 1987. The reason it took five minutes/ninety seconds/thirty seconds/whatever your dramatic cop show said to trace a call is that back then, the intervening hops did matter. Phone networks in the mid-late 1980s were analog in nature. Signals were routed in discrete hops, but they went from exchange to exchange via a path determined by a set lookup table. If a call came into the network at Podunk, IL, and said, "I'm headed for Boca Raton, FL," the lookup table in Podunk would say, "that's not in our area, try asking around at Chicago, they probably know how to get to Florida from there." So the signal would be routed to Chicago, where the lookup table would go, "Well, Florida is southeast of here, so try asking Lexington, KT maybe?" Lexington's lookup table would know that Miami was in Florida, so they'd throw the call to the main exchange in Miami. Miami would go, "Oh, yeah, I know where Boca Raton is, let me connect you to them." And eventually your call would slither its way through the network until it hit the exchange in Boca Raton, which would know all about the local Boca Raton number you were trying to get, and put you through to the customer in question.

This iterative method worked pretty well, and with some alternate routing written into the tables ("Lexington isn't answering? Check Nashville.") was actually pretty robust. The disadvantage for trackers was that no one exchange ever knew anything about your call except which exchange it had personally gotten the signal from, because that was all the information it needed to get your answer back to you. Boca Raton only knew you came from Miami; Miami only knew you came from Lexington; Lexington only knew you came from Chicago; and only Chicago knew your call was originally from Podunk.

By the 1980s most of the network had electronic controllers, so you could remotely query each switch to find out where it was getting the signal from, but you had to know which switches to ask: you literally had to go backwards, hop by hop, until you found the origin of the call. Amusingly, tracing phone calls got harder when computer-controlled switches were first introduced. A lot of hackers took advantage of the change by poking at the computers directly and forcing their call to be routed through a lot of unnecessary (and usually very distant) switches, which bought them extra time in which they could hang up before anyone figured out where they physically were. You actually couldn't spoof like that prior to the advent of computerized switching equipment that could itself be tinkered with remotely via the phone lines. Tracing a call in the days of fully-mechanical exchanges involved scrambling someone from the phone company to go down into the equipment room and physically look at the switches to tell you which bits were linked up where while the call was still connected. And prior to that, you traced phone calls by raising the operator lady on another line and getting her to tell you what her plugboard looked like.

Gallup. NM, seems to count as a city by New Mexico standards, but to anyone outside the desert, it frankly looks pretty rural. The regional phone company -- U S West at the time, née one of the many tentacles of AT&T -- would not have been in a terrible hurry to upgrade the switching equipment anywhere that wasn't Albuquerque (or Los Alamos Labs/White Sands Missile Range, because the branches of the government that like to kerplode things can get really pushy). They may have still been using electromechanical or straight mechanical switching equipment out there at the far end even as late as 1987. If any part of that trace involved getting an engineer to go personally eyeball a giant clanking rack of wires, then it would have taken at best several minutes, and that's if it went through at a time when there was someone already physically present in the office.

This is also an answer to the question of "if the call to Gallup police was Anthonette, why did she call the local police number rather than 911?" The 911 emergency number is a special directory service, and relies on the switching equipment recognizing '911' as a special sequence and automatically routing to the closest dispatch center. There are other special directory services (411, for instance, is Directory Assistance), but none of the other ones need to be routed with any geographic precision -- they can just get kicked to whatever exchange is considered the big hub for that customer's region, even if the offices housing another hub are physically closer. It was slow to roll out in rural areas, because it required a switch upgrade, and as mentioned above nobody was anxious to go replace equipment that served only a few thousand people and wasn't broken yet out in the middle of the goddamn desert.

Routing 911 calls is a much more complicated headache than you think, and in fact the service has been breaking down in recent years. Cell towers are basically radio towers, whose service area is affected not just by distance as the crow flies, but also by the height and elevation of the tower, the power rating, and what kind of intervening crap the signal might be bouncing off of. Your call doesn't necessarily connect to the nearest tower, but to the one that comes in the strongest, and that one doesn't even necessarily belong to your own cell provider -- most of them have some sort of reciprocal agreement with the other major companies. (There are also such things as signal boosters, which catch and amplify all cell signals to enable them to break out of an area where there would otherwise be terrible or no reception. The MBTA has them down in most of the subway tunnels now, so your calls and data won't drop out even when the train is underground. Those are indiscriminate; my AT&T Kindle and my T-Mobile phone both get 5/5 bars even when five stories below ground level at Porter. I don't know for certain, but I suspect if someone were to try to locate me while I was down there, the signal would physically track back to the location of the repeater, rather than the train I was on.) There is a way to triangulate the source of a cell signal the same as you can with any radio broadcast, but it relies on your phone pinging more than one tower, which often it doesn't. GPS depends on the phone having line of sight to one or more of the satellites, and even if you get close enough to a window to make it work, won't register what floor of a building you're in.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Ah, here come the think-pieces about Orlando. I keep writing and re-writing this and deleting a rant about them, uncertain whether I'm "allowed" to have feelings on the topic. The fact that I even have to ask myself, "Am I allowed to have an opinion?" rather than, "Is my opinion informed and at least kind of reasonable?" is one of the biggest problems I have with the practice of identity politics, so fuck it. Here it is.

Some lady -- I think it's a lady; everyone is using feminine pronouns -- apparently wrote a thing declaring that cis het white people are not allowed to comment on anything that happened in Orlando. How dare you offer condolences now when you are so silent the rest of the time, usw. I expect in a week or two someone else will write one decrying a lack of supportive commentary from the mainstream, oblivious to the flaw in their logic. If no one is allowed to comment unless they've been commenting all along, but they're not allowed to comment at all if they can't prove they occupy the correct little wedge in your Venn diagram... well, then you're going to get an echo chamber surrounded by a ringing void, aren't you?

It has been my observation that, no matter what circles you run in, the proportion of people who are asshats is pretty constant. Maybe 10%. Most of them are just oblivious and self-absorbed, like the louts who won't take their backpacks off on the train. About 10% of the asshat population is so dedicated to their craft that they rise beyond mere asshattery into the fine art of asshaberdashery, which is when you are such a colossal asshat that you force otherwise normal humans into temporarily being asshats as well just to fucking deal with you. Cis het white people are good for a lot of examples, mainly because statistically there are loads of people in that category in my neck of the woods; for more information on this, see Fox News, C-SPAN, and almost literally any other mass medium where people are allowed to talk. Other cohorts seem to be similar, proportionally speaking. I figure the columnists who run on a constant fugoid cycle of  'how dare you speak' to 'how dare you stay silent' and back are the social justice equivalent.

The idea that you should listen to people instead of just assuming you know what they're thinking is a good one, but the way I see it applied in social justice circles bothers me, and it took me a long time to figure out why. It seems to have morphed into another one of those zero-tolerance policies, which states that no person can ever understand any of anyone else's lived experience. There's no allowance for kinda-sorta getting it well enough to communicate. It presumes, a priori, a complete failure of empathy in the same way that pop feminism presumes I wander around in constant fear for my life; that the body acceptance movement presumes I hate the way I look; that diet culture presumes I live in mortal terror of becoming fat; that the organic food industry presumes I am concerned with the genetic purity of my groceries; and that Evangelical Christianity presumes I am in unremitting danger of being tempted by Satan. There was once a germ of a good idea at the center of all of these things, but over time they have drifted into the belief that everyone is fundamentally a destructive failure of a human being, and the only way to avoid this is to second-, third-, and fifteenth-guess everything you say and do, to make sure you're not somehow transgressing.

There is a name for this. It's called "having scruples". We use 'scruples' today in the casual sense of 'a conscience', but the original technical meaning comes from the Catholic Church, where it describes a state of being so self-debasing and afraid of inadvertent sin that you tie up the confessional for hours every week, obsessively detailing everything you might have conceivably done wrong. Even the Catholics thought this was a bit excessive, and invented a shorter term for it so that everyone could go home to Sunday dinner while it was still Sunday.

There is a lot of space between "your opinions are not paramount to this discussion" and "shut the fuck up". This blog resides smack in the middle of it, right on the corner of I Have A Bunch Of Thoughts About This Street and You're Probably Bored At Work Right Now Anyway Avenue. I try to stay in the general vicinity of "I wish to express condolences and support, and would like you to tell me about your experience so I can figure out if I have had similar experiences myself, and whether we can communicate on that basis." Since I am in the US, at least for now I am allowed to express anything that is not a threat, a direct incitement to panic, or actionable slander without legal consequences, which means that I can say things to friends and gauge the reaction before I start spouting off to strangers.

I have a lot more to say about how I see social justice principles being misused all over the goddamn place, but I will hold off on it until I can write them up in such a way that I do not want to punch walls when I read it back. For now, I am going to support my local LGBT* community, which in my case means going to see the premiere of Spider Cult! The Musical, which was written and produced entirely from scratch by some friends of mine who are queer in pretty much every conceivable sense of the word. I love their weirdo brains, so at the odd times that I actually have money, I give them some in exchange for entertainment.

Friday, June 17, 2016

I am really tired of being angry at things, so here is something adorable and cheerful.

Every so often I remember I follow figure skating, and go check to see what my favorites were up to. Much to my delight, Johnny Weir and Stéphane Lambiel are working together in Fantasy On Ice this year. I adore them both; the technical jumps are impressive and all, but they both do a lot of fancy spinny things and daring layouts that I am sad I can't get up enough speed to do on a dance floor.

They are also both rather interesting people. Weir's always had a smart mouth, and surprised a lot of people by being an entertaining commentator for NBC Sports -- admittedly, when you think 'professional athlete' or 'fashionista', the first thing that stereotypically jumps to mind is not 'well-read wit'. Weir's book is a hilarious, if quick, read. He wrote it when he was twenty-five. He'll probably be terrifically embarrassed about it when he's fifty. Most of us are fools when we're twenty-five, but most of us have the luxury of tactically forgetting about it later, because we didn't publish it in hardcover. He's a more than reasonably entertaining writer, and has a head just level enough to recognize when he was being an irrational histrionic idiot as a teenager.

Lambiel is just hellaciously smart. The kind of hellaciously smart that claims not to speak Italian and then starts doing interviews in it a month later. For anyone counting, that would be language number five -- he comes from a French-speaking canton of Switzerland, he has school German (useless for understanding Schweizerdeutsch, he needs translators as much as I do), speaks fluent English from all the travelling, and apparently got Portuguese from his mother, who still has family over in Lisbon or some such. His coach has tales of when he was a wee little nipper and already flashbulb-memorizing the contents of competition invitations he'd seen for a few minutes, printed in a language he didn't really speak at the time.

The two of them are great friends and have worked together on several professional shows since retiring from competition. And whenever they have a chance to rehearse together, they end up working on things like this.

One of the reasons Weir didn't do as well as he might have in the sport was the persistent accusation that,to be blunt, he skated like a girl. Skating choreography is ludicrously sexist, mainly because the ISA is run by old rich white people who are aghast at the idea that anyone might get the impression that their sport is full of (gasp) homosexuals. This is exactly as insane as it sounds, and as a lot of your points come from the totally arbitrary assessment of your artistic merit... well, you know where that's going.

If you're going by rigid gender standards, then yes, Weir does skate like a girl. He does it very well. Johnny Weir girls up better than most ciswomen I know, who have been practicing at it since day one. Lambiel also has a very fluid, dance-inspired style. (Contrast to another friend of theirs, Evgeni Plushenko, who is gorgeous, but does skate very much like a dude. Not so much emotional sliding around flat on the ice, etc. And that's his tribute to a famous ballet dancer.) He didn't get nearly so much flak for it as Weir did, possibly because I've seen Lambiel give himself whiplash watching the lady skaters, whereas Weir was so openly, unrepentantly gay from the start that when he and another competitor had a spat over rooms in Vancouver, the Olympic housing committee threw up their hands and solved the problem by putting Weir in a suite with one of the girls.

ISA rules forbid non-mixed pairs in competition. (To wit, they specify one male and one female skater in each competition pair. Women were also required to wear skirts until 2005. I think the idea of nonbinary or agender skaters would just make their heads asplode.) But, as you can see in one of the Johnny Weir clips above, there is nothing stopping you from doing anything you damn well please in a commercial exhibition. I happen to be a great fan of both Lambiel's and Weir's style, and I keep holding out hope that someone will give them the chance to make an actual piece out of that, and perform. I would pay actual money to see it, assuming I had any.

[Bonus post: Weir tweeted a bit after the first one that he was pretty proud of that video clip, because they'd screwed it up plenty in practice. He's got a good sense of humor about falling flat on his ass on the ice.]

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I don't often comment on current events here, because, to be frank, they're not about me. Most things are not about me, really. The vastness of the cosmos, and so forth. I can have whatever opinion I want, on whatever basis I want, but I am a college-educated white girl who grew up middle class in a place where the Anglo families didn't talk to the Hispanic families because they were terrifyingly brown, and nobody talked to us because we didn't go to church. I knew fuck-all about the less WASPy parts of the world before we got an internet connection, and in a lot of ways, I still don't. I try to at least think before I begin blathering on and end up with my foot jammed so deeply in my mouth I can taste my own kneecap.

The Orlando shooting was not about me. But it was about an awful lot of my friends.

As a rule, I stay out of advocacy. For one reason or another, pretty much every group considers me part of the Privileged Elite. My life experiences are irrelevant; through the lens of identity politics, I am a list of adjectives that have at some point caused them pain. Between that and the in-fighting and the constantly moving goalposts. nothing I say or do or think -- or have ever said or done or thought -- meets with their approval. I spent my childhood trying to please people whose only feedback was 'nope, still not good enough, we still hate you'. I have no interest in spending my adult life doing the same. They can do their own thing in their own way, and I am just going to go about my daily business of doing my best not to be a dick to people.

I make an exception to this no-advocacy rule for the LGBT community. Your goal is very clear: You have only ever wanted a world where queer people are left alone to do the same tedious mundane shit that non-queer people do. All you have ever asked of me specifically is for me to not particularly care what kind(s) of consenting adults you want to mash genitals and/or have stupid fights about the household budget with, and for me to stand up and be mad when someone else is being a complete troglodyte at you. This is one of the most reasonable sets of expectations I have ever run into in my nearly 35 years on this godforsaken planet, and it makes me very much want to be your friend.

You have no idea how much I appreciate you continually inviting me into your spaces. Queer spaces are not my spaces, and I respect that, but as long as I'm not behaving like an asshole, I'm welcome to come hang out with my friends there. This is a lot more than I've gotten from most of the communities I'm supposed to be a member of. I don't know if this is part of some sort of interdisciplinary weirdo exchange program or what, but I'm grateful as hell. It's not an accident that I picked up and moved to the sort of city that replaces all but the American flag on the front of the public library with giant rainbow banners for Pride Month.

I'm not typing all of this stuff out to get a social justice cookie. You don't get cookies for being a decent human being, that's not how this works. But I was at a burlesque show at Oberon on Sunday night -- a bar/theater space that is just about as culturally gay as it is possible to be without blasting techno remixes of Eurovision winners in between episodes of RuPaul's Drag Race -- and I have never seen a room full of people be so terrified while cheering for glittery tits.

I don't know what I can do. I don't want to hijack anything, because again, this is not about me, but I want to do something. I'm watching my friends fall apart after part of their family has been murdered.

There's no good way to end this piece, mainly because there is no good way to deal with any of this. So in lieu of coherence, please accept this gif my roommate made of the critters scrambling around in ../tmp/bin/rat/ (aka, the plastic storage bin where I dump them while cleaning their house) when they were still only half grown.

Monday, June 6, 2016

I went to a stage combat workshop the other night, and while I was pretending to beat up on my roommate, I discovered that I am a mutant (again). I am conventionally right-handed for all of the various fine manipulations you would expect -- I use my right hand to write, draw, mouse, paint my face, open bottles, zip things, etc. But apparently, I am a left-handed fencer, and more or less ambidextrous at punching people out.

I could probably have predicted this had I thought about it at all, which I hadn't. I knew about the punching; I play Mary Stone in the Mrs Hawking series of plays, and Mary's job is to hit things fairly frequently, and usually rather hard. Mary doesn't know anything about beating goons in the first play, so all of my fights are with a large brass fireplace poker, which I wield in classic Luke Skywalker style, i.e., grab it by the handle and swing it around like a bat. They made me a prop poker out of wooden dowels and paint, with the idea that it would be safer. It probably was, but after I broke several of those (in the same fight sequence, across the same wooden club, with the same overhand swing), they gave up and handed me the real brass one again, with strict instructions not to clobber anyone for real, which so far I haven't.

In the second show, Mrs Hawking has taught Mary a few tricks, so I have some brawling. I've never hit anything in my life, so our tech director, who does krav maga in his spare time, had to teach me how to shadow-box before I made an absolute fool of myself on stage. I kept getting confused as to which hand guarded and which foot went forward in a fighting stance, so we tested and it turns out it doesn't matter -- I'm right-handed and left-footed, which means I am equally good (or terrible) both ways. Great, said our violence designer, we'll just have you hit things with whichever hand is more convenient for blocking! And so it goes.

Mixed lateralization explains why I tend to go the "wrong" way in things that involve turning. A while ago when I was experimenting to see if I could do skating jumps on a dance floor (yes, but it's difficult, and you blister your toes), I ended up going clockwise for all of them. It's not exactly unknown, but the vast majority of figure skaters spin the other way. The preference is typically so strong that most skaters can't do their jumps with the opposite spin. You can theoretically fix this with some effort, but you don't get docked points for being contrary. You also don't get any bonus for doing them backwards, even at the Olympic level, so nobody bothers.

[I've only ever seen one skater switch directions between jumps in the middle of a sequence. It was Stéphane Lambiel, faffing about in rehearsals for something unrelated, and even he keeps biffing it. Lambiel has an interesting brain that way. He's also one of the very few skaters I've seen both throw and be thrown. Maxim Trankov is a pairs skater, and normally tosses around the little blonde lady they're both hanging out with, Tatiana Volosozhar; Johnny Weir is just one of his friends and actively gives no fucks about sexist traditions. The governing body of the sport has decreed it illegal to skate in non-mixed pairs, but as Lambiel and Weir have both retired from competition, I keep hoping they'll get around to doing that in a show.]

My hoops all go clockwise as well, which creates some interesting problems. You can mirror-reverse most of the standard tricks, but that assumes that if you're going clockwise it's because you're left-handed, which I am not. One of the more annoying ones to adapt was the vortex. The idea is to grab the hoop behind you with your coordinated hand, and to switch in the air so that your uncoordinated hand brings it down over your head again. The reason you do this is that the hand behind you needs to be able to continue along the hoop's path, and the hand that brings it down over  your head needs to be able to swing the hoop out and over that elbow in order to not whack any important parts of you as it comes back down.

Well, my coordinated hoop-grabbin' hand is my right, which is the wrong one for following the hoop around, and the hand that swings the hoop back over my head is also my right, because that's the way the hoop is going. I can do it perfectly well one-handed by catching the hoop in front of me, although if I want to go up and down a few times in sequence I have to catch, swoop up, yank down, let it go to rotate around me once, and re-catch. Which I can also do. But fuck me if I can work out how to do the regular ones without barking my knuckles and dropping things.


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