Like angry wasps against a window

It is astonishingly rare for a paradigm shift to be triggered from outwith the scientific community, and it’s not hard to see why: in almost all cases, no matter how much amateur theorists may batter against the wall of scientific indifference—like angry wasps against a window—the reason their theory is not being taken seriously is that it has fundamental flaws that are immediately obvious to anyone with even just a modicum of extra knowledge that the amateur does not possess.  It’s no real wonder that amateur theorists often feel themselves persecuted by the “lords of ivory-towered academia”, or whatever—a regrettable situation to which there seems no easy solution: as noted above, scientists have limited amounts of time they can spend dissecting each and every new hypothesis that to them is quite patently nonsense.

John Grant, Discarded Science

Eighteen Panel Skirt

Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe
Stylish Skirts by Sato Watanabe. Look at the prettiness!

I was walking through my local Jo-Ann Fabric store a couple of months ago when was seized with a fiery passion of the sort that overcomes a baron for the new stable boy.   Usually it’s a piece of embroidered linen that stirs my creative lust.  This time it was a skirt.  More specifically, the panel skirt show on the cover of Stylish Skirts: 23 Simple Designs to Flatter Every Figure.

Just look at it over there, all stripy and swishy, with french seams!  Now, that skirt is swoon-worthy on its own, but my mind was going off into another direction.  I had, buried in my stash of fabric, several yards of soft, knit fabric in three colors: grey, heathery-purple, and a smokey-blue.  They had been sitting in a cardboard file box for years, waiting for the time when I would get around to making them into something awesome.  Well, their time had come.

It has been years since I’ve made any clothing for myself.  Which is funny as I originally got into sewing for just that reason.  So, it was with a lot of giddiness, trepidation, and wine, that I set out this past weekend to make myself a new skirt.  The skirt started off very close to the original pattern, which is where I ran into the first obstacle.  Stylish Skirts is translated from Japanese, and there are some glitches in the transition. Fortunately there’s the internet, and I wasn’t the first person to run into problems.

Creating the pattern took about half an hour once I figured out the issue.  I didn’t take into account any changes to the pattern with regards to using a knit fabric.  I drafted it to my waist and hip measurements, and drew it much longer than the book calls for.  I like long skirts.  I don’t care if they’re not supposed to look good on short girls.

Skirt Panel Pieces
Skirt panel pieces, assemble!

The actual cutting out of the pieces took an hour or so, due to the fact that I wasn’t working with intact yardage.  At some point in the past I had cut out two one-piece tunic style dresses for Charlotte out of the blue and purple fabrics.  As such I had to take some extra care to get it all cut out.  Even so, I ended up with only four panels of the blue, six of the purple and then ten of the grey.  The original pattern calls for six of each, but I wasn’t going to let a little thing like that stop me.

Sewing the skirt together took a couple of hours.  The original pattern calls for a zipper closure, but because I was using knits my plan was for an elasticized waistband.  Remember how I drafted the pattern as suggested by the book?  That didn’t take into account the need for the waist to fit over my hips with an elastic waist.  So when I sewed the panels together I dropped the seam allowance down to 3/8″ of an inch, which gave me the necessary room.

I gave the hem a rolled edge because I was tired of sewing by then, and also I didn’t want to sacrifice any of the length.  (Did I mention I like long skirts?)  The resulting skirt is soft and swishy.  I have to kick the hem out of the way when I walk, or pull it up—a bonus in my book.  I have been twirling around the house in it for a few days making little noises of happiness and satisfaction.

Skirt Selfie!
And here is the finished skirt! Super soft and comfy and requires me to kick my feet out when walking.
Lounging in my Skirt
Lounging in my comfy skirt.

I’ve already settled on the next skirt I’ll be making from the book. I’ll post pictures and a write up when that happens.  In the meantime, please enjoy the playlist I put together for the skirt:

  1. Not an Addict – K’s Choice
  2. Got You Where I Want You – The Flys
  3. Creep – Radiohead
  4. Linger – The Cranberries
  5. Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
  6. Soul to Squeeze – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  7. Who Will Save Your Soul – Jewel
  8. Building a Mystery – Sarah McLachlan
  9. Celebrity Skin – Hole
  10. Santa Monica – Everclear
  11. I Don’t Need a Hero – Concrete Blonde
  12. Happy Phantom – Tori Amos

 

Beneficial Interaction with your Kids

Being part of several Stay-at-Home Dad groups, I get to see a very different side of raising children than the environment I was raised in, particularly many different individuals telling their story or asking for assistance, or just plain making fun of their situation.  Laughter, shared with a group, is a healthy thing.

This post is inspired by one of them, a journalist who writes about fatherhood (among other things, but mainly about being a dad) called DadScribe (www.facebook.com/DadScribe).  He brought up an interesting comment about Minecraft (Pocket Edition, since he references iPads) which of course pulled me in.  It was simple and quite humorous and to paraphrase: he didn’t know anything about Minecraft, but if he did, he’d leave signs from the mobs to his kids like, “Eat your carrots. Love, the Creepers” or other things along those lines.

Not only did it give me a good laugh, but it also got me thinking.  This is a two birds with one stone moment. I mean, I’m writing from the perspective of someone who actually likes and knows a bit about Minecraft.  I wouldn’t have had that if it weren’t for my daughter’s love of it.  There are nights where the two of us will settle in for an hour of Xbox Minecrafting (http://idiorhythmic.com/vikingdad-minecraft-blues-74-tools-lava-death/) and have a great time.

The ‘a-HA!’ moment came when I thought to myself, “Sure, there are things that Charlotte likes that I’m not really into, but it’s really great that we have Minecraft (and other stuff, like RPG’s, Archery, Boffer weapons) to do together.”  It’s like I’m able to be a cool Dad AND I get to do something I like.  I’m pretty lucky, but the point I’m getting at here is that there are things that aren’t as cool or as fun, or that we just simply don’t have the time to learn, but there are still ways to get involved and be that cool parent.

There may be things your kids really enjoy that they can just go on for hours about that mean nothing to you, because either it’s not your thing or you just don’t have the time to learn.  That’s OK.  We don’t have to be involved in every facet of our kids’ lives. In fact, it’s probably good that we’re not. Anyroad, just because we don’t know how or that it isn’t really our thing doesn’t mean we can’t get involved.  If nothing else, it shows your kid that you really care and can be a good laughing point in the future, “remember that one time when Dad tried to play Minecraft and got pushed off a cliff by a cow?”

So, with that in mind, if your kids like Minecraft and you know nothing about it, I’ve included the below tutorial (though please forgive the less than professional screenshots)where you can have a little bit of fun pranking your kids with signs(for the Pocket Edition, meaning the one the tablet):

 

 

Making it Work: January Earnings

I promised I would make it a regular thing to blog about how much, or more accurately, how little we’re making from our creative endeavors.  To that end, I present the report on our January earnings.

Etsy Sales $26.42
E-book Royalties $1.73
Midwinter Convention $284.47
Total $312.62

The numbers reflect our net earnings.  In the case of Etsy sales that means less shipping and various selling fees.  With regards to Midwinter, the net takes into account expenses for the booth, for getting to the convention, hotel costs, etc.  On the plus side, we made almost three times what we did in December.  On the down side, no one is getting rich off of this.  I’d say we shouldn’t quit our day jobs, but …

We are closer to our goal of getting a new fan for the Jeep, though, almost halfway there.  And we have a convention coming up in March that promises to be more lucrative.  We’re only a month into this whole grand scheme, so I can’t really say if sticking to one or two large conventions a year is feasible.  We may have to add in more events, or I might have to open up to commissions again.  Or, we might have to put in a better effort to market our books, and finish the one that is in the works.

I did add a page to this site for e-book design services.

As always, we continue on.  February is the shortest month and we’re making the most of it that we can.  I’ll keep updating our monetary progress as the year unwinds.

 

VikingDad Pro-Tip #56 (Fitness from Home)

Being a stay-at-home viking requires a lot of energy and requires you to stay healthy.  Keeping in shape isn’t always easy, particularly in the middle of winter when no one really wants to leave the comfort of their own home. Fortunately, there are many ways around that to get you through the cold winter months.

There is this fitness site that has a ton of visual workouts for the geek in everyone (on top of other great fitness and wellness advice):  http://neilarey.com/

These are great, require no equipment you don’t already have around the house (like chairs and towels) and can be done pretty much anywhere you have enough room to lie down (aside from your bed).

The Shield-Maiden and I alternate times in the workshop since they take about half an hour each.  But doing these 5-7 times a week really helps.

I’ve also started to do 50 push-ups and a one minute plank before each meal.

Like I said, it’s not easy, but there are solutions out there to help you!  Here are the workouts I’m currently doing (alternating between them so I usually do only one or two of these a week):

http://neilarey.com/workouts/sao-survivor-workout.html

http://neilarey.com/workouts/hulk-workout.html

http://neilarey.com/workouts/thor-workout.html

http://neilarey.com/workouts/captain-america-workout.html

Being human… and a stay-at-home parent

So, given recent events on our website and some recent questions regarding how to deal with filling a non-stereotypical role on various stay-at-home-dad (SAHD) groups I’m a part of, I thought it appropriate to write about those topics.  My hope is that this will help raise awareness and increase consideration when dealing with those dads who are taking a more supportive role in the household, but the reality of it is that those that read this are probably already aware and considerate.

First things first, there will always be ‘haters’ and the decisions you will make will more than likely upset someone. Knowing that helps increase the level of resolve in making some choices particularly where your family is concerned, but sometimes even that level of resolute awareness isn’t enough.  Especially with choices that are emotionally charged and/or deeply rooted in a sense of self.

Choices that revolve around becoming a SAHD and not being the person who provides the paycheck for the family may seem easy to deal with on the surface (like hearing someone in the line at the grocery store say, “Man, I’d love to not have to go to work”) but they’re not.

We’ve been raised in a patriarchal society where the man is the person who brings home the money (and even then is judged on how much he brings in and his position at where he goes to bring that money in) and the woman is the person who stays at home with the kid(s) and is the caretaker of the house. We’ve seen just how our society reacts to those that break from those stereotypes.  While times are changing and considerate awareness is growing (in aspects of more than just SAHDs), there are still those situations of intolerance and ignorance.

We’ve all, by now, heard the statement that when dads are alone with their children, they’re ‘babysitting’. While it may have been said in a joking manner, it’s not.  It’s derogatory and demeaning. It’s a thought process that belittles and invalidates the efforts those fathers spend with their child.

We are all people, encountering other people in a single moment, and placing assumptions on motivations of actions in that moment is just plain ignorant.  Most people I meet are not Sherlock Holmes, so they should stop acting the part.  We do not know what led that person to that moment, we do not know their motivations for doing what they are doing and certainly can’t read their thoughts to discover who they are.  Even friends and family we’ve spent significant time with aren’t open books or 100% predictable.

There is an easy way to help curb this behavior, that, unfortunately requires a level of awareness that people tend to ignore:  Ask yourself, before you speak, what it is you expect to receive by saying what you are about to say.  We may not be able to read the thoughts of others, but our own thoughts are right there.  Listen to them. Talk to them.  Have a conversation with them about this situation.  In other words, think before you speak. Sometimes this is an epiphany to some, particularly when a father, who was the ‘bread-winner’ is now the one at home.  For me, it opened up a whole new level of respect for those parents who stayed at home.

Given the new path being forged by the SAHD, it can be difficult to be resolute in the face of confrontation with what has always been viewed before as inadequacy. Especially when it’s new to the particular SAHD or when there are issues of self-worth being worked through in accepting the new role. To those who are, new and veteran alike, I have some things to say (and I’ll keep saying them):

You are awesome!  You are doing what’s right for your family, your child(ren) and yourself. You are setting an example of the wonderful diversity inherent in humankind. You are courageous enough to face the potential societal slings and arrows. You are showing your love to your partner and to your children.  They see you being present and they see how you deal with those obstacles that breaking from the normal parameters can bring. You are not only their parent, but also their teacher.  You are their window into how to cope with a world who doesn’t always accept things that break from stereotypes.  They also see that you are human, imperfect and emotional.  What they see, they become.

Show your children what it means to be human.  What it means to be a parent.  What it means to put forth that effort in a way you’re not used to and a way that breaks from the norm.

Show others respect, for we don’t know what brought them to this moment or why they would say hurtful things (whether intentional or not) but have the courage to call them out on it, with the faith that your child will see you, and will follow suit when they’re older and able.

You are their example of what they can become. Be you, so that they can be them.

So, if you see a stay-at-home parent, whatever role, be considerate and understanding.  They work hard on more than just physical chores.

Stalking the Epilogue

Posting about Mrs. de Winter and addressing her openly yesterday was nerve wracking.  My natural response to conflict is to curl up and make myself as small of a target as possible.  Bringing this issue to light had as good of a chance of escalating matters as it did of resolving it.  Add in the issues I’ve been having over the last few months with feeling safe, and I was a bit of a wreck when I hit post.

Several friends offered suggestions on how to deal with this: mainly to document everything.  One, Priya, advised letting Stephan’s ex know what was going on.  I really didn’t think that would help.  Honestly, I was stuck in a mindset of fear and anger that all my months of work to feel safe had been undermined by someone I had never met.  Writing that post was as much as I was capable of.   And when the commenting started up again, I felt I had made a horrible mistake.  Rather than nipping the unpleasantness in the bud, I had fed the troll.

That’s when Stephan stepped in.

As can be guessed from his Viking Dad moniker, Stephan doesn’t shrink from confrontation.  Instead he puffs out his chest and says, “Come at me, bro.”  He wrote Mrs. de Winter, her husband (who we had believed to be the author of one of the comments*), and his ex.  What followed was an unpleasant back and forth that established:

  1. Mrs. de Winter has no desire for a resolution with Stephan.
  2. Nonetheless he shouldn’t hear from her again (although whether this means she’ll never comment here again, or e-mail him was not made clear).
  3. Stephan’s ex had no idea this was going on. She offered that she thinks Mrs. de Winter is acting out of love and did offer to talk to her friend and clear some things up.
  4. Like many people, Mrs. de Winter doesn’t have a good understanding on what constitutes libel.  Posting, say, that there is a warrant out for someone’s arrest when there is no such warrant is a libelous statement.
  5. Mrs. de Winter’s husband doesn’t care “what Stone Age gods” we worship.  This actually has nothing to do with the situation.  I just thought the religious bigotry (coming from out of nowhere in the conversation) is funny in its confusion.**

It is clear that this will most likely never end.  Mrs. de Winter and her friends will probably continue to read this blog.  There’s not much I can do about that.  I considered the idea of quitting; just stop posting to the site and retreat once again to the safety of Facebook.  If I can face the challenges of going against the norm when it comes to other aspects of my life, I should be up to the challenge of doing so under the scrutiny of someone who harbors my family ill will.  Stephan and my friends have my back, which makes a difference.

So this is less of an epilogue as an unsatisfactory denouement, I guess.  I promise the next post from me will be much more fun, and much more satisfying.

 


*It turned out we were wrong on that point.  Apparently, Mrs. de Winter recruited friends to read and comment on the site.

**If our religious practices are so offensive just how upset would he be if he knew, for example, I’m bisexual, or that we’re pro-choice, or that we’re practically socialists in our politics. The list of ways in which our beliefs go against mid-Western norms is long and varied after all.

How to talk about your stalker when she isn’t stalking you

I have dealt with my fair share of unpleasantness online.  As a publisher there was rape writer: an author who sent graphically written rape scenes to Miscellanea.  At least l think they were meant for that market, he never included a cover letter or anything else to indicate it was a submission.  There was the writer whose cover letter consisted of “I’ve been doing some writing since I’ve been institutionalized.”  There was the man who became angry when I didn’t respond to his offers and suggestions on how I could improve my business plan.  That one I had to eventually block.

Offline I have dealt with what I called my convention creepers: men in my LARP community who had a hard time distinguishing between their in character interactions with me and the out of character reality.  I could tell them, “Hey, your attentions are making me uncomfortable, so could you please back off?”  Most of the time that worked.  And the couple of times it didn’t, Stephan would step in and scare them off.

Last night two comments were posted to this site.  They came from two different e-mail addresses and under two different names, but the content was similar, and familiar.  I showed them to Stephan who laughed and rolled his eyes.  Mrs. de Winter was back in our lives.

Mrs. de Winter* first came to my attention in 2008, I think.  I was on LiveJournal back then, posting about costuming and sewing.  I saw a new profile looking at my journal … a lot.  These were weekly, sometimes daily visits.  It seemed a bit weird, but I didn’t give it too much thought until one day when Stephan saw her profile picture.  “That’s Mrs. de Winter,” he said.  Who?  It turned out that my new #1 fan was a friend of Stephan’s ex.  What had just been weird became a little concerning.  “She’s into fashion, maybe that’s why she’s reading your journal,” Stephan suggested, trying, I think, to make me feel better.  Maybe.  In case not, however, I blocked her from commenting on my journal.  It was a precaution against my space becoming a drama-soaked battle ground.

Over the years it became clear that Mrs. de Winter wasn’t reading my journal for my thoughts on corsets and publishing.  The first place I mentioned my pregnancy was in an entry there.  A day later Stephan’s ex wrote to him about it.  I began to censor myself, not posting as much about upcoming conventions, especially ones we attended in Michigan.  Part of me felt I was making a big deal about nothing.  So she was reading my journal, so what?

But she was reading my journal because Stephan didn’t have an accessible internet presence.  His Facebook, like my own, is locked down.  For years the only way Mrs. de Winter could get any information about him was through me.  I stopped using LiveJournal a couple of times, letting months, even years, pass between entries.  No matter how long the hiatus, though, within a week or so of posting, she would be back, peeking into a part of my life that I had chosen to make public.

Over the years it is clear that this vicarious creeping has affected the way I interact online.  I think twice about what personal information I post online.  I abandoned LiveJournal altogether.  I don’t post pictures of my children’s faces in public because I don’t want her knowing what they look like.

Last night, reading the two angry comments, I was nauseous and near tears.  The content wasn’t aimed at me (except in the most oblique way), nonetheless it was upsetting.  This site is supposed to be a safe, positive place.  With two comments that safety was shredded.  I am once again reconsidering posting our upcoming events.  I will be telling our daughter again that no one but her parents are ever to pick her up from school.  And again, a part of me thinks I am overreacting.  To hold onto this much animosity after seven years, though, is irrational.  Who knows how much further she would take things, given the chance?

Blocking her, ignoring her, deleting her comments, none of it has made a difference after seven years.  And so, I’m taking a different approach this snowy morning.

Dear Mrs. de Winter: I don’t know you, nor do you know me.  We’ve never met.  Never even exchanged a word.  But you’ve been a part of my life for almost a decade.  I want you to know that I hold you no animosity, no anger, no hatred.  I don’t know you, so how could I have any feelings for you?  I do feel fear though.  Your attentions makes me feel unsafe, it makes me fear for my children.  All you have done all these years has been to watch me, and it scares me.

Please know none of your comments will ever see the light of day on this site.  Comment moderation was turned on when it was first set up and I will never approve anything you write.  This is to your benefit, as one of your posts last night was libelous.  I have, however, taken screenshots of the comments, and will do so with any future ones, to hold on to in case I need to build a legal case.  I do not wish for it to come to that, however.

I do believe you think you are being a good friend.  Your loyalty is commendable, but any hurt Stephan may have caused is between him and his ex.  You are overstepping your bounds.  It is said that holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  Perhaps it is time to let your anger go.

Please leave us alone.

I wish nothing but the best for you.

Blessed be.

 

 


*Not her real name.