Gravity's Rainbow

botany, shoes, books, and justice

February 2, 2016
by sarcozona

Finding a place to live with limited barometric pressure changes AND cool weather

Barometric pressure changes are bad for my migraines. Not only does a storm system moving in or out make me sick, but getting on an airplane or driving up a mountain does, too. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on though – I’m not sure how much pressure change is too much, the time scale it matters over, or even if it’s any change or just drops. Some studies show migraines are associated with pressure change, but other studies don’t. Different studies also disagree about whether any change, positive changes, or negative changes are the problem. But pressure changes aren’t the only aspect of weather that hurt my poor head – high temperatures also seem to knock me off my feet. I’m not the only one whose migraines get worse with heat. While there’s some disagreement about this in the literature, higher temperatures seem to be a clearer case of migraine trigger.

Migraine patients can change a lot of things about their lives, but weather seems a bit out of the average person’s control.

Rán and the Wave Girls (1831)

Rán, Norse goddess of sea and storm. By Legis, Gustav Thormod. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You can’t control the weather where you are, but you can possibly control where you are in the first place. I’ve moved three times because of migraine. Kerrie Smyres at the Daily Headache has also moved because of migraine. If pressure changes affects your migraines you might be interested in this list (or this more detailed list) compiled by another migraineur who moved to try to find relief.

I found that list of cities with low pressure variability because I was trying to figure out somewhere I could go that might help my migraines. I wasn’t encouraged. Almost all of the “good” places on it are very warm to hot as hell. That is, if I escape one trigger, I’m exacerbating another.

There’s also the thing where moving seems to be a temporary fix. Each time I’ve moved, I’ve had a year or two of good to moderately good health, and then been totally debilitated by migraine again. It sounds like Kerrie’s moves have also not been as helpful as she might have hoped.

In an ideal world, I might move to a new place once every couple years, but there’s no guarantee it’ll work, it’s financially and logistically difficult, it’s emotionally horrible as I can’t develop and maintain relationships, and it limits my access to good healthcare.

I don’t think I’ll be moving to try to fix my migraines any time soon after all.

December 15, 2015
by sarcozona

You aren’t clever. You’re pedantic.

If I say something about math or stats or programming, I can look forward to getting well-actually-ed by a guy. This is especially common on the internet but happens rather often in non-screen mediated interactions, too. It seems that if I don’t copy my point straight out of a textbook, it’s so wrong they must immediately correct me. Any ambiguity or incompleteness or even casualness in what I say is interpreted as incompetence or ignorance. Even if I do copy something straight out of a textbook, they think I left something important out or neglected some essential nuance.

The default is to assume I don’t know what I’m talking about. The reflex is to show they already knew what I was saying, that they know more than me. This makes it exhausting and stressful to participate in many conversations. It can feel like every interaction is an exam full of trick questions.

The situation I find most demoralizing is when men act like they’re acknowledging my expertise and then dismiss it or criticize it. I once had a colleague who asked me a lot of questions about programming and statistics. This is an example of a typical interaction:

Him: Hey! Why is my [statistic] greater than one? That seems weird.
Me: Huh, [statistic] represents a probability, which can’t be greater than one. That’s definitely weird. What kind of test are you doing?
Him: Well, actually, [statistic] can be larger than one when you’re doing [test].
Me: [Gently explains why probabilities can’t be greater than one.] In this case, [statistic] greater than one means you’ve likely misspecified [model aspect] since [mechanism].
Him: [Spends 5 minutes heatedly “explaining” that not only can probabilities be greater than one, but his statistic doesn’t really represent a probability, and also that it makes sense to have a probability greater than one because of the vagaries of his particular dataset.]
Me: Mmhm

I knew I was right. I knew he was spouting nonsense. I still spent half an hour reading about [test] and [statistic] to reassure myself.

That wasn’t an unusual interaction to have with him, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I stopped interacting with him any more than necessary. I’d already had conversations with this colleague about other, more egregious, sexist behaviour. Based on his response, I couldn’t see the point of pushing on this issue. I started avoiding my colleague so he couldn’t interrupt my work with conversations that made me doubt my knowledge and ability. This isolated me from my other colleagues.

I’m writing about this today because I recently said something on the internet about statistics and got well-actually-ed. It wasn’t even a technical comment, just an anecdote about how the way I initially learned something impeded a deeper understanding of that topic for a long time. The next commenter interpreted me not fully explaining that topic in my anecdote as me still not fully understanding it and proceeded to detail the topic and what he felt I should know about it.

I usually avoid commenting on many of the things I’m interested in like I avoid that colleague because I seem to be well-actually-ed nearly every time I dare to speak on topics where “women don’t belong,” and it feels terrible. But I felt like the community I was commenting in was a good one and that I wasn’t really making a technical point, so it would be ok. The well-actually wasn’t particularly rude or insulting. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed if it hadn’t happened countless times before. But it has, and after being hit in that same spot so many times, I’m pretty sensitive to it. I probably won’t comment again for a long while.

I am a woman. Men do this to me. I watch men do this to other women. We get hurt, we get defensive, we question our abilities, we get tired, we get angry, we leave.

If you’re wondering where the women are in your community, look for this dynamic and squash it.

December 14, 2015
by sarcozona

Drake the feminist comic

I just love this song by Drake where he pretends to be the entitled and clueless ex-lover of a gorgeous and wildly successful woman.

While on the surface this appears to be about a man saddened by a breakup, anything more than the most superficial attention to the lyrics reveals the story of a man who believes that sleeping with a woman a few times means that she should stay at home waiting for him forever. When she doesn’t fulfil his insane and controlling expectations, he rants and scolds while she ignores him and goes on with her awesome life.

The song begins with a description of a certain kind of late night phone call.

You used to call me on my cell phone
Late night when you need my love

The woman appears to be quite busy (perhaps with university or a major work project?), since later in the song he describes her as having more time to go out.

Eventually he moved away

Ever since I left the city,

and her hard work paid off. She has time to go out and money to buy new clothes and travel the world. She’s meeting great new people at work and reconnecting with friends she lost touch with while she was working so hard.

Started wearing less
and goin’ out more
Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor
Hangin’ with some girls I’ve never seen before

She’s probably gotten an amazing job or fancy award since he’s hearing about how great she’s doing even though she’s in another city.

Ever since I left the city you
Got a reputation for yourself now

While this was clearly very important to him and he hoped for something to continue,

I feel left out


Ever since I left the city, you, you, you
You and me we just don’t get along
You make me feel like I did you wrong

She doesn’t have time for him since she’s globetrotting and spending time with her girlfriends.

You got exactly what you asked for
Running out of pages in your passport
Hanging with some girls I’ve never seen before

It’s apparent he resents and is confused by her success, scolding her for not knowing her place.

Going places where you don’t belong

He spends all of his time obsessing over the gorgeous new people she’s seeing and trying to affirm that he’s superior to them

These days, all I do is
Wonder if you bendin’ over backwards for someone else
Wonder if your rollin’ backwoods for someone else
Doing things I taught you gettin’ nasty for someone else
You don’t need no one else
You don’t need nobody else, no

This guy has clearly just been used for sex and can’t come to terms with how unimportant he is in this woman’s life. Women experience this kind of thing frustratingly often – you’re just trying to have a bit of a fling, but he suddenly seems to think he owns you. It’s alternately hilarious and exhausting to deal with. It’s so awesome of Drake to write a song laying out how ridiculous it is for men to act like this!

December 3, 2015
by sarcozona

Your opinion is fringe

Source: The Purple Election Map | Observer

I often see conservatives complaining about how their views are decried as “fringe,” that the only people who don’t recognize the normality of their worldview are those in liberal, coastal cities.

The problem is, there aren’t really that many people outside of those liberal, coastal cities (especially if you include “the third coast” of the Great Lakes), which kind of makes their opinion fringe by default.

It’s also galling that while they whine about being labelled fringe, their political views are vastly over-represented in the US government.

November 30, 2015
by sarcozona

Fun with insurance companies

Good news: after many rounds of paperwork, my insurance company has agreed to cover 60% of the cost of the 3 drugs I take that aren’t covered by the state health insurance.

Bad news: There’s a $2000 cap.


Bad news: That only gets me through the first 4 or 5 months of 2016.

Good news: I’ll save approximately 35 hours of reimbursement paperwork/phone calls/emails in the last 7-8 months of 2016.