Random thoughts on PSVR

by Monday, November 13, 2017
Considering an entry into the VR space? We ended up with PSVR...

For us, we don't PC really, and weren't interested in getting a dedicated gaming PC and set up and the extra $800+ that would cost us. We also have a small living room so a large surround-experience footprint wasn't going to fly anyway. So we got the PS VR and have been loving it. The titles are more limited, naturally, because it is only titles developed for PS4 can make use of it. That isn't to say the catalog is small, but it is small-ER than you will get with Oculus. The price point of entry for us was more accessible, and we knew we'd get lots of use out of our PS4 in general (I still hadn't played Fallout 4 or the newest Uncharted, for starters). The demos that pushed us over the edge were Star Child and Moss. I think Playstaion has a thing on their website or in their app where you can do a search for places that demo the rig nearby, so you could go check it out if you haven't before.

Just had two girlfriends over last night for a 4 hour VR play session where I introduced demos and full games to friends with little to no VR experience. Tons of fun. Only complaint: the Playstation has user profiles built into their system which is supposed to customize the experience for each player, but this causes issues when you want multiple people passing the headset around. For instance, we were playing SuperHot and I realized it had my saved data from past games, so I had to go to settings, find the local saved data, and delete my saved data so my friend could start at the beginning. There was no option for setting up a new player in game in any way. The only other option is to set up a guest account for everyone and go through the tutorials and calibration for every person who wants to play, and then switch between profiles with every switch of the headset. No thanks. No idea how Rift or Occulus handle this kinda stuff, since I have only played demos built to be limited and reset, never played in a home environment.

Reverse Racism (and Sexism) Is Not A thing, And Here's Why

by Thursday, September 21, 2017
Was musing on the idea of reverse racism the other morning and woke up to pen this...

Reverse racism doesn't exist for the same reason reverse sexism does not exist: they are not opinions or attitudes; they are ingrained systems in our culture which favor one group or class of people over another. It is an imbalance in power such that if you are a member of the group in power, you enjoy certain levels of respect and accommodation that is not available to those that don't look or live like you do. You are subtly favored--through no direct action of your own--over and above others. From birth. It can have effects over where you live, how you are schooled, the quality of health care you are offered, types of jobs you are considered for, and much much more.

Anyone can have prejudice, but that isn't racism. Racism is prejudice + power, and therefore only people who possess that power can be racist.

Repeating for those in the back row: There is no reverse racism (meaning black people CANNOT be racist against white people in our society). There is no reverse sexism (meaning women CANNOT be sexist against men in our society). This isn't a preference, it's a system that is all around you; and whether you want to or not, you are a participant in this system. What you do with your role in this system is vital, and telling... Where you focus your thought, your means, your energy dictates whether you empower this system or help to dismantle it.

I am far from perfect. Like all of us, I was born into this same system, and I also happen to be on one of the higher rungs of this ladder of power. I grew up surrounded by subtle and overt messages affirming my place of power, as well being reminded of all the rungs above me by people who can and have tried to reinforce my "place" on it as a woman, as a member of the middle class, etc. I wasn't always aware of what tools were given to me and not to others, and I like to believe I am on a path to better understanding these tools and how I can use them to help people on the lower rungs get a leg up. Not because I am a savior, but because fuck that ladder...

PAX 2017 Day 2

by Sunday, September 03, 2017
Like every vacation for me, the midway point is when I start to feel a little sad. Instead of the entire thing ahead, there is Limited Time. So, too, with PAX. There is simply so much to see and do and four days never feels enough.

Today was upside down day. We started at the Olive 8 having brunch and decoding some PAX XP clues, then playing games in The Hotness. Got to try Dice Forge, Dingo's Dreams, and the most passive-aggressive game I have ever played, Magic Maze (photo attached of me legit playing the game as intended).

We usually do the show floor all day and then board game in the evenings, but didn't want to miss out on Olive 8 gaming as we have in the past. Still need to get back to Playtest NW, which is one of my fave things at GeekGirlCon, ECCC, and PAX since I adore meeting indie designers and learning new games with them.

After that we met up with Jamie and Val for a hi-hello, and then predictably hit the Indie Game Booth, where we got to take our first hands-on look at By Order of the Queen, which we almost backed on Kickstarter but didn't. I loved that the designer brought his pre-teen daughter to the booth, who explained the game like a champ! Then we commiserated with dad/the designer about our mutual love of Disney World (and continue to love that our Seattle Disney lanyards spark conversations like this!)

Already tired, but determined, we hit the PAX XP scavenger hunt for a bit, running into Val again and getting a leg up on a tricky clue track. Then off to the 3rd floor: our happy place. Had our sandwiches we packed and then played games from the lending library for hours, including playing Seasons again, followed by Eight Minute Empire, as well as helping people on the annual trivia hunt solve multiple questions. Darn it I wish one year I could get there early enough to find an envelope! I swear every year I help other people play, but never get to myself!

Decided to head home a little early to spend time with pups, drink some wine, relax, and plan tomorrow: birthday fun fun.

Haven't even been to the Annex yet, and PAX XP is there, so that's first. Playtest NW is up there,as is the Sheraton, which we haven't hit yet. We only got to half of floor 6 so far, and we didn't revisit some of the main floor we wanted to, like yet more Indie Game Booth awesomeness, let alone the ACT theater set up.

So much, and only two days to do it. This is why I get all antsy when the end is in sight!

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Iced tea

by Sunday, May 21, 2017
Makes 1 gallon

  • 10 tea bags (remove tags and tie stings together for easy removal)
  • 8 cups water
  • (1 cup of sugar for sweet, or less to taste)
  1. Place all ingredients in pressure cooker pot.
  2. Lock the lid lid and set valve to sealing.
  3. Press the manual button, set to high pressure for 4 minutes.
  4. When done, quick release pressure with a set of kitchen tongs.
  5. Stir well if you added sugar.
  6. Remove tea bags with tongs.
  7. Place 8 more cups of cold water/ice in a 1 gallon pitcher and then add brewed tea.
I made mine with my daily-drinker, Yorkshire Gold tea, which has no strings. I just used a slotted spoon to remove them, pressing another spoon on them to press out any retained water in the bag itself. I also love making tea with different flavored teas, like using Earl Grey, or an herbed tea, etc I saw one recipe call for putting some peeled slices of two apples in before pressure cookin', which would be a great natural sweetener. I could see that with a little cinnamon and lemon for a unique iced tea experience, or substitute different natural fruits such as mango or peaches!

Directing Troupes: To Audition or Not to Audition

by Monday, April 24, 2017
Today, Janet Taylor (formerly of FCBD and now an ATS free-agent, as it were) posted a blog about why she currently favors the audition process when assembling a tribal bellydance troupe. It's a thoughtful perspective, and clearly a very personal one based in specific past experiences--give it a read.  I particularly resonate with her assertion that the audition as a form of mutual discussion compared to other methods. Food for thought.

As someone who used an audition model for years, and now has an invitation-only model (what you call "always auditioning" model), I can tell you both methods invite the exact same problems to varying degrees. In inFusion Tribal, for years we chose to audition members. Our intent was to widen the pool of potential candidates, and for me personally I felt it valuable to give students the learning experience of auditioning. I am pleased to say that many who didn't get into the troupe came back after thanking us for the experience, grateful for the growth opportunity. Late we moved to an apprenticeship model and invitation-only model, which had its own pros and cons by comparison. What I have learned from different methods of growing a troupe over my 17 years teaching and directing this dance is this: No matter how transparent you believe you are being, people inside and outside of the process will bring their own interpretations of the results; and those who are hurt or offended by not making the cut will still make assumptions about your motivations, and may gossip and perpetuate a negative dialogue--to which you as a teacher or director may not be privy and thus are unable to address--regardless. It's par for the course any time you set up a goal post and not everyone is able to pass it.

For me, the major problem with the audition model for our purposes is it implies that demonstrated skill is the only criteria for entry, when I think we can all agree that there are a myriad of factors more subtle and difficult to define or codify--including personality traits--which play into the ideal troupe member. Now if you set up a skills-based-forward audition process, and someone nails it technically, but they create problematic friction or are otherwise difficult to work with, what are you left with? You are stuck having to explain why someone so talented wasn't invited, and no matter how you word it, the answer they tend to hear is "you don't like me". You literally have to be ready to tell someone to their face, "You have all the skills we're looking for, but we don't think it's a good fit..." or move the goal post on an individual basis and answer all the questions that follow.

Believe you-me, I wish that bellydance classes and troupes had a bit more of the professional standards of the Western dance styles and theater I steeped in growing up, a boon which would allow entering a troupe to be much more heavily-weighted in skill/ability alone because other factors would be a more foregone conclusion. The major difference here is that most people don't come to bellydance as malleable young women and men. Those dancers grow up in, and have their attitudes and expectations shaped by, that culture of long-established class and rehearsal etiquette, auditioning, developing a thick skin, the nuances of professionalism, etc. Instead, we are primarily a community built from adult learners, many of whom have never developed those skills or otherwise learned what it means to audition and be part of a functionally professional working group of artists. Add this to the fact that we are also performing a dance which relies on a deep trust and physical and emotional connection in order to be successful. We are left trying to not only bring them along in their dance skills, but also their interpersonal skills/ability to work in groups, and both are harder to influence/improve as the initiate is older.

Some "get it" right away and are fundamentally better candidates for working in a troupe based on their attitude and professionalism than someone who might be a better dancer but lacks those traits. You can audition the latter group, admit them to the troupe, and hope they come around; but if they don't...it's a lot harder to kick someone OUT of a troupe than it is to thoroughly vet them and filter out the problem-personalities before they get in. It makes auditioning very tricky...

Ultimately, a lot of what Janet addresses in her blog regarding gossip and mistrust has as much to do with overall class culture as it does the troupe member process. Teachers can't avoid gossip and hurt feelings at times in our student population, but we can mitigate it on a daily basis through our leadership in general, as a teacher, mentor, and director. Nobody is gonna get it right 100% of the time, and no system is going to end-run around the ultimate heartbreak of those who won't "get in", unfortunately. The best we can do is foster an environment of trust, honesty, and openness. We need to be welcoming of ambition, and be ready to address student questions as they reach for their individual goals as best we can.


On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:

I hope you will enjoy both my sites. Thanks for visiting!
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