Monday, July 29, 2013

Update

Update jul 30
I'm starting to feel better and while I'm far from 100% I am working regularly again and am getting out a bit. The deep depression I've been in is fading back away so I feel like I should be around again. I've been working through some posts for asexy on sex, and am working on ideas for queer transformations and a good night for science. I'll be trying to write a post during work for at least one of my blogs every day. I may resurrect on dread more to write about games. I am actually feeling excited to write for y'all so look for content soon

I love my readers and can't wait to get you some content. More importantly I can't wait to write

It feels good.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

In the mind of a former believer

I was recently listening to the Skeptics with a K podcast and was interested in their bit about the recent psychic challenge they did. Now, if you are curious about that check out their podcast and website and such for details. No, it's the question they raised about what goes on in the mind if someone who believes they are psychic. As some know I used to be a believer in many different things - I was a huge proponent of pseudo-medicine, especially herbal medicine, I believed in fairies, spirits, mystical energy, chi, gods and more. I also did tarot readings and very much believed they could tell you a possible path. I believed I could see and feel auras and that they could tell me something about a person.

This gives me some insight into what a believer may be thinking and feeling when they do readings. Mind you this is one anecdote but I think it may be interesting to those who have never been in that position.

I could actually see the things I believed in. I saw fairies, spirits, and more. This is what led me to believe in them. I would follow a ritual to see the fairies, know what I should see and then proceed to be able to see it. This is a known psychological possibility but at the time it seemed too real to be an illusion. I spoke with them, danced with them, and some were even afraid of. The emotions provoked by these apparitions were real to me. I had no reason then to believe they were a product of my mind. Moreover my friends, who were also believers could see them too and corroborated my experiences. When I spoke to them I heard them out loud or in my head - depending on what seamed to be the whim of what I was speaking to. If I heard them out loud it really did seen like they were standing in front of me and taking to me as a person would. If they were in my head it was a distinct feeling of another mind, with its own personality, voice, accent etc. they really did seem to exist as an other.

I wasn't able to see auras or energy for quite a while, my brain just didn't seem to be able to do it. It took over a year of hard work and belief for me to actually see them. I could feel them - much like feeling a slight draft from an open door down the hall - and could sense them that way but there were no visual effects until I had put the effort in. After that I could see energy, chi and auras. They were often vivid in color though if they were muted it could tell you something as well. Even to this day I can choose to see moving swaths of color in time to music. I essentially can create my own mental light show. Now this isn't just in my minds eye feeling this looks like I am actually looking at something in front of me, something real and moving around and, while ephemeral, still real. Just as real as a beam of light hitting dust in the air. Nothing you can touch but something you can see. Auras seemed to exist surrounding anything alive and they came in a vivid array of colors and textures.

Tarot readings were something different though, I studied the meanings of the cards, the meanings of the symbols on them and I practiced over and over until I had a sense of what each card could represent. When I did a reading I would allow the person their privacy on how it relates to them and simply explain what each position and each card could represent. If it didn't resonate with them then it may be an aspect of the card that isn't its main, overall aspect. The tower can be destruction, a catastrophic end, and an unwanted event or if you take just the symbol of the tower being torn down it can be the removal of your barrier keeping an opportunity away, or a reminder that everything must end - even a fortress made of stone will someday crumble. All varied things and what I know now is that I was learning to cold read, to use this prop of cards that could mean so very many things to tell a person something in a way they hadn't heard or to confirm what is in their own mind. I do still believe that tarot, especially the oracle style decks, can be extremely useful as a tool to give your mind more props to see another side of a situation, but unlike when I was a practitioner, I don't believe they are or should be used for more than that.

Looking back now after three years of being a skeptic I know the varied ways and reasons for why I believed what I did but at the time it was very convincing. We ask for evidence but to someone like me when I believed I couldn't understand why you wouldn't believe. If seeing fairies was as simple as asking them to come and play why didn't non-believers just try. I had never realized that not everyone had the over active imagination that was needed for that kind of sight. Even in the faery faith community I wasn't the norm. I was gifted with the sight to be able to see them so easily. Many others I knew had gone years of study and faith without getting more than a feeling and a glimpse out of the corner of the eye. If I hadn't done the 180 to skepticism I would likely be still in that world - teaching others to feel and see as I did. I am grateful that I have come to this community however. A place where the majesty of the universe is celebrated and where I can strive to figure out what is real and what is there by suggestion and an over active imagination.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Update

So what is new in the life of me? I am sick as all get out. I caught the postCon cold and have been laid up coughing like crazy. It is obnoxious. I have however been writing -a lot- It just is not really blog material. I have written up three erotica scenes. Much fun ^_^ nothing to do with the book I am writing but still fun to write. The not so fun part? I sent them to the person who inspired them. At his request >.> Not my usual MO but should be interesting anyway.... <.< 

More later when I am not so drugged up. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Some thoughts on TAM9

I will do a longer more exhaustive post later when I am not quite as sleep deprived as I still am now but here are my thoughts a mere 24 hours after arriving home from TAM...

Tuesday -
The day I arrived was frankly, a nightmare. I couldn't find an ATM to deposit the money I needed to pay for my room and ended up having to walk 3 mi round trip to the bank at 1300 in 100 deg F heat (around 37C) only to have my card declined when I tried (again) to check in. Two pissed off phone calls later and the lovely lady at the Southpoint canceled my whole stay except one night to get my card to accept. She then told me to come back Wends once the funds cleared and she would put it all back on for the conference price. (which I did and it all worked out)

What made it better? I didn't make it off the tile in the lobby when the wonderful Janice ran up and gave me a hug to say hi. What an awesome welcome to TAM. I went to the Del Mar after dropping my bags for a much needed drink and was met by none other than the Amazing Randi himself who shook my hand and gestured to sit next to him. I spent an enjoyable time with Randi, DJ Grothe and was eventually joined by Banachek as well. There were around 15 in our little circle of laughter and stories. A better welcome back I can't fathom. Definitely made up for the start. The pub was hopping that night with friends, laughter and good times.

Wends -
I am not a morning person on the best of days so I got up around noon and wandered down for some breakfast as per usual at Seattle's Best. Tea and a bagel in hand I found my fellow TAM people in the Del Mar and started my favorite TAM tradition - chatting and drinking. This is how I spent my day and it was lovely. The topics we covered were wide and varied but I was very happy to feel completely accepted admitting I am gender-fluid, asexual and do BDSM. I got lots of questions on what asexuality is and will be doing a blog post about that shortly. I had a lot of conversation about human sexuality, the idiosyncrasies of our behavior and more. It was great. I am feeling more and more accepted by the skeptical community and I love it. I actually feel like I belong when I am in our community. If I remember correctly we got our badges that afternoon (which were quite swank with pockets and the like) and Ellen and I squeed and bought Richard Wiseman's new book Paranormality (I will review this once I finish it)

Thursday -
The conference officially started with workshops all day. Again, I slept in, but I hear the morning workshop set was wonderful. I went to the SBM workshop as is my wont and loved it. The overarching themes of pseudo-medicine from the humunculus (sp?) to energy and more. My second workshop, after lunch, was my favorite of the conference: grassroots skeptical activism. Holy shit Desiree Schell, Lyz Liddell, and Brian Thompson rocked my socks off with an *actual* workshop (rather than a panel) and a kick-ass take home booklet as well. Words can not describe how awesome this is and the book is available from grassroots skeptic - how fucking awesome is that.

Dinner as per usual for Vegas was greasy and gross - vegi's don't have a huge selection in the casino. The conversation was spectacular and I got to meet all sorts of super cool people - like more PDX people! Two awesome peeps that live right down the road from me that I needed to go to Vegas to meet. Go figure.

Oh yeah - Drinking Skeptically was fun, got yelled at by security (who knew you weren't allowed to stand on chairs), flirted, drank and talked. A lot.

Friday -
I had homework to do and as per usual slept in so I missed all of the morning talks (really want to know? go read someone who is actually interested in the lectures blog, I am not) but I got some of my homework done then headed upstairs to catch up with one of my favorite TAM people Richard Saunders who was fresh off the plane from Oz. Poor guy, arrived 1230 Fri and leaves 1630 Sunday. Still good to see him. Very good to see him. Then again I have a thing for smart professor looking types who make good conversation. (side note - finally watched The One. Interesting and not what I expected for some reason) Caught part of Pamela Gay's talk (she's also awesome) but my first full lecture well, wasn't a lecture. It was the panel I had been waiting for - Our Future in Space. Pamela Gay, Lawrence Krauss, Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson moderated by Phil Plait. Does it get cooler? seriously just go watch this - it will be online soon, DJ said so. This panel was followed by Tysons keynote - which was super-cool and followed by dinner time. I went to the pub then met up with Richard, Dr. Rachael Dunlop (aka Dr. Rachie), Brian and Lisa Dunning, Pamela Gay and two really nice gentlemen whose names I have unfortunately forgot. Needless to say it was fun. I then went back to the pub, said goodnight to Richard and Rachael who were beat and then changed into my clothes for that night's party. Ellen was awesome to act as my ladies maid to get me into my corset and we were off to Penn Jillettes private Bacon and Doughnuts party featuring the No God band. I danced, I screamed, I sang and overall had an amazingly super awesome time. After a small set-back requiring an inhaler to breath I headed back to the Del Mar for some awesome convos till around 4 am. Oh yeah and Brad had gotten in to room with me but unfortunately I have now learned that he snores. Loudly. You rock Brad but I am never rooming with you again, I need all the precious sleep I can get...

Saturday-
I dragged my sleep deprived bum out of bed to catch Professor Richard Wisemans talk - my hero, funny, smart, and a great speaker it was - of course, awesome. Watched part of the SGU recording, hung out with Dale and Travis Roy, Richard, Rachie, Brian and Lisa at the Skeptoid/Aus Skeptics table. Helped sell Placebo Bands and generally had fun. Again - great conversation, met new people and had a ball. SitP that night rocked and I set myself up to play a game of Race for the Galaxy on Sunday. Happy Panda.

Sunday -
Slept in, but woke up in time to catch another lecture I was excited about by Desiree Schell. Great lecture on the history of activism and how we can learn from it. Again - have I mentioned how awesome she is? And AND I got to chat with her - Happy me. Dr. Novella did an awesome lecture on mental illness denial and I went back to the pub. The Del Mar is always hopping during TAM so there were people galore to chat with. I lost three games of RftG in a row and socialized till about 1. Early bed since I was BEAT. I also said goodbye to Richard and Rachie and took a midterm - apparently classes don't stop when you're at TAM. Go figure.

Monday -
Oh happy day - nothing planned, read some, napped, wandered down to the Del Mar after getting my usual sweet tea and bagel. Nommed a musk stick. Yay. Drinks, conversation and meeting the super sexy and smart Per Johan - of course he was just the sexy part when the mention of hitting the strip was made. five hours of wandering and talking later and I am really glad I got to meet him. Another instance of loving TAM. I spent an entire evening chatting with a Swedish professor turned mentalist about everything under the sun. <3 People wonder why I go to TAM. It was a late late night (read 4am) and I still had to pack so upstairs I went, packed and attempted to sleep.

Tuesday -
My last day in Vegas was bitter sweet. One hand - homesick, the other hand - TAM was officially over. I woke up WAY too early (8am should not exist) and couldn't get back to sleep so I opted to check up early and head to the Del Mar. I didn't expect anyone to be there really since it was early and I know a lot of people had gone to red rock that day. Tea and Bagel in hand I found a seat (not hard, the pub was empty) and proceeded to check my variety of social networks and lament the fact that for the first time in a week - I was alone in the Del Mar. Not long however and people showed up. It was great. More and more people came and then I got a free buffet lunch with the awesome zooterkin from the UK (can not for the life of me remember his given name - I have never admitted to being good at that...). More talk on relationships, sexuality and the like ensued and we were back to the Del Mar. As the evening wore on more and more people left for the airport and it came down to just Per Johan and I. Despite his flight being an hour and a half later than mine he joined me for the trip to the airport and kept me company. It was awesome, great conversation and some card tricks to pass the time. My airport luck continues unabaited and my plane was delayed again and again. In fact he ended up leaving for New York before me when I should have landed in PDX before his plane even took off. Ah well. We finally got on the plane and in the air by around 2300 and I made it home to PDX around 1. Thankfully the boyo picked me up (I had missed the last train) and I finally got to bed around 3. Poor Kevin - he had to work Wends morning.

Lessons from TAM in short -
1. Plan your activism, look at your goal, audience, and message and design your behavior to reflect what needs to get done.
2. Skeptics are super open minded - gender, sexuality, sexual behavior, experiences and more are all open to discussion and no real condemnation. While we don't all agree - that doesn't mean we won't learn something.
3. We need people willing to report unwanted behavior. Issues from a past TAM were continued to this one and likely wouldn't have had it been reported. (an FYI - if you have -anyone- make you uncomfortable tell them clearly that you don't want the behavior and if they persist then report it. If you are not comfortable reporting it to staff yourself, you are welcome to talk to me and I will report it on your behalf - anonymously or not as you choose. Or I will go with you to report it if that is what is needed.)
4. I will miss my TAM friends even more this year. Damnit people, we need to keep in touch better.

A note:
You will notice I did not talk about the drama myself and some of the other women were involved in. I don't wish to talk about it here and so I won't talk about it here. Know however that if the person did something to you, said something to you or in anyway made you uncomfortable you can email me (skepticalpirate(at)gmail(dot)com) or find me on twitter/facebook/g+ to talk about it. Also if you are willing to report it that would help make it so the person can not do that behavior again and potentially not attend next year. Email your report to events@randi.org citing what happened, when, with whom. Put TAM9 Incident Report in the subject line. Questions? feel free to ask.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Freaking homeopaths!

So I know it has been a long long while since I have blogged on here and I am sorry for that but I am back with a vengeance! It is time for the homeopath complaint saga to begin I am afraid. See I was poking around the inter webs as I do when I have nothing better to do and I found some homeopaths in Portland's websites. First thing to do? Look at what they claim to treat of course. I found cancer claims everywhere it was crazy! So I poked around some more and found the FTC Complaints website. (found here) and have submitted my first complaint.

So what do you need to submit a complaint? It's quite easy actually - get the name of the company, the address, phone and email, website URL, and what you are complaining about. It only takes like 5 min total and poof it is there. Not sure what happens next though. I will have to wait and see really but I hope it does something. Have one other site I am debating on reporting, I may just wait to see what happens with the homeopath.

I have a PDF of my complaint if anyone is interested - email me skepticalpirate@gmail.com

Monday, February 1, 2010

Andrew Wakefield found to have Acted Unethically

I am sure that people have heard of Wakefield's Lancet study that sparked the MMR 'debate' which was recently shot down by the GMC in an investigation. (if you don't know what was going on with this check out my article over at examiner.com) But what I wanted to share was some of the lovely comments I got namely that from Age of Autism. My day was made with this - I came to the attention of Age of Autism! yay! Anyway - the comment -

In 2006, the Daily Mail published the comments by Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Scientific Officer in the UK concerning the MMR.
"[Fletcher] said he has seen a 'steady accumulation of evidence' from scientists worldwide that the measles, mumps and rubella jab is causing brain damage in certain children.
"But he added: 'There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves.'
" 'It is the steady accumulation of evidence, from a number of respected universities, teaching hospitals and laboratories around the world, that matters here. There's far too much to ignore. ... authorities are, it seems, more than happy to do so.' "
The GMC decision proves that 'very powerful people' are in control.
Anne Dachel
Age of Autism

To begin with for this comment - heard of a conspiracy theory? Wow, "very powerful people are in control." Yes they are, that is the point, being in control gives you power but I digress. This is a straw man - what research is she talking about? I have evidence that the MMR is not correlated with autism and that vaccination is safe... she offered no research to back this up and in fact it is against the consensus in the scientific community. I asked her to provide the research for me to see, but I seriously doubt that she will provide.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Templeton nonsense

So in a recent (ish) post on Richard Dawkins website led me to find some of the exams and such offered by Templeton. I have to concur with everyone over there that some of the requirements for both undergrad and masters students make the ID trolls comments make much more sense. Mainly because the requirement - for 20% of the grade - is to post at least 10 comments on 'hostile' website. Holy monkey people. 20% of your final to make comments? I no longer wonder at some of the idiotic comments that can be found on the more popular blogs regarding ID/Creationism. Seriously this blew my mind. I wish I had requirements as easy as these.