So, I'm writing up my notes on my FluentConf talk, and realizing that I'm struggling a bit with the pronouns in the book. Gendered pronouns unwittingly make assumptions about the reader, assumptions I don't want to make. I also don't want to insult 51% of my readers by using an unassociated gendered pronoun (yes, I recognize the projection / assumption that my readership is nominally even for the two main genders, let's go with it).
I grew up learning the two grammar rules.
1. A pronoun's and its antecedent's numbers should match.
Use "her" referring to single female antecedents, and "him" to single male antecedents. "They" and "their" are for plural antecedents, don't match a single-numbered subject number-wise, and would be, therefore, incorrect.
2. When referring to individuals in a group of people, use "he" and "his" if even if one person is male; use "she" and "her" only if everyone is female.
This one is awkward, and completely outdated for a society where women are (well, f---, should be, though we know they aren't) equals. It is reflective of the patriarchal culture from which the rule originates.
These days, most people will go with "they" when referring to individuals in a group. It works as a gender-neutral pronoun, which is great, but breaks the numbers-must-match rule. Honestly, the number-must-match rule is a frustrating rule, because, well, it's the pet peeve of a school mistress from the mid 1800s. There are many published/documented theys as a gender neutral pronoun, it was a common, accepted speech pattern.
The rule is personally frustrating, because it wasn't what I was taught to be true. Go fig. Lots of things I was taught aren't true. Pluto isn't a planet. Canada has three territories, not two. The USSR isn't a country. Fat is bad for you. So many things "true" are really just dogma. So many more things are grey than black or white.
Yeah, so, I've decided to do my best in the notes to use "we," "you," and "I." I'll do my best to avoid having to use pronouns. When I can't avoid them, I'm totally using "they" and "their," without apology.
I hadn't realized that GitHub provides suggestions on new repository names.
I was amused by the Glowing Tribble:
The Scaling Archer has promise:
Massive Adventure? Sign me up?
Okay, I stopped looking at Spawncamping Computing Machine. Do we really need spawn camping machines? I argue not.
Oh, boy, Friday nights are great! Living the high life!
I went to a learning mindfulness class this morning. It was the first of an eight class introductory series on the practice of mindfulness. 15 people had signed up for the class, which was to start at 9:15. By 9:13, only 6 of us were there. One guy showed up 15 minutes late. It happens, even when we try not to be late.
We all took yoga mats, set them on the floor, and sat down. I noticed the same dynamic in most introductory classes: everyone lined up in the back of the class room. I understand on an intellectual level why people do this, I've done it myself in the past. What I don't really understand is why adults do it in a classroom setting for classes they have chosen to take. Which means you should be completely unsurprised that I sat near the instructor, and talked directly with him. It's one of those, "wow, this is outside my comfort zone, I best go all in," sort of things, I guess.
To start, the instructor asked us to introduce ourselves, and tell him why we were in the class. I introduced myself, and said, "Curiosity. As an on-again, off-again practitioner of meditation, how is mindfulness different?" I was/am also interested in how the mindfulness is presented in a structured, group class. Six of the remaining people answered, "Same here, curiosity." I found that somewhat amusing.
After a bit of mindfulness introduction, what it is, what it isn't, and how we were going to learn to be more mindful, we had a three minute, don't-move-a-muscle, eyes-closed mindfulness session where we sat as still as we could. In the reverse of the previous order, I was asked last how'd it go. Pretty much everyone before me struggled with the lesson, focusing on this itch or that itch, that muscle ache, this lopsided something or other. I had noticed that I swallowed twice, and was uncertain if "don't move a muscle" meant, "including the diaphragm," of which mine was moving out and in. The instructor talked briefly about the somatic nervous system (under voluntary control) and the autonomic nervous system (involuntary control, such as breathing and heart beat), and that breathing didn't count as muscle movement in this exercise.
I didn't struggle to keep still for the three minutes, spending the time being aware of my lower body, starting with my toes. In three minutes, I had made my awareness journey to my ankles of both feet. I hadn't noticed any itch or muscle fatigue, so either I'm doing better than I thought I was in my on-again-off-again practicing (I am doubtful of this), or I was lucky to come to rest in a good position (unfortunately, I am doubtful of this being luck). Uncertain on this. Upside, the stillness was only three minutes: not really that long.
After our discussion, we tried another stillness, this time for five minutes. Instead of concentrating inward, we were to concentrate on sounds. Sounds are good for practicing mindfulness, as they happen and are gone. To be mindful is to be aware in the moment, not as a recognition a few moments/minutes after. This time, everyone's experience was easier, despite the longer duration. First, everyone knew what to expect. Second, and more importantly, everyone was able to concentrate on the outside (hear that person walking by, oh that's the espresso beans being ground, and that's Justin on his go-kart zipping by), instead of on the inside (oh, wow, my elbow itches, is that a hair tickling my face?).
One woman commented that she enjoyed the moments of silence, when the only noise to be heard was the air conditioner. When someone walked by or made a loud noise, she admitted irritation at the break in the silence. Nearly everyone attempted to identify the sounds.
When the instructor came around to me, I commented that, again, it wasn't difficult for me, but that I did not like the silence, because my tinnitus flared, and all I could hear was the different frequencies. The high pitch ringing matching few sounds, the low pitch humming blending sometimes with the air conditioner frequency. I struggle with silence, because I will never hear it again.
The instructor looked at me with a smile. "I, too, have tinnitus, and it is my best friend."
I sat up straighter and leaned forward. I can make friends with this horror in my head?
"How? Oh, god, tell me how." I asked.
"Because it's always there. I always have something to hear."
"Aren't you glad cars were invented?"
"Well, given that I haven't known a world without cars in it, I can only speculate whether the world is a better place with or without their having been invented. My personal happiness aside."
"Does that mean you're glad they were invented?"
"Consider what would exist if cars hadn't been invented. Maybe we would all have hoverboards instead."
"What's a hoverboard?"
"A skateboard that floats in the air."
"It wouldn't work in winter."
"How do you know? Do you have a hoverboard?"
"I don't have a hoverboard."
"So how do you know they don't work in winter? Maybe they have some kind of anti-snow repellant thing."
"You'd be cold!"
"Why? Hoverboards could have heaters."
"No, they couldn't."
"Well, how are cars heated?"
"I don't know."
"With heaters and from the engine's excess heat. Hoverboards could do that, too."
"But you would crash!"
"Why would I crash? I haven't crashed the car. Why would I crash my hoverboard?"
"You'd get hurt if you crashed."
"Maybe the hoverboard is covered in one giant airbag that would turn into a giant hamster ball if you crashed."
"Does this mean you're glad cars were invented?"