A good but tiring day

May. 27th, 2017 08:24 pm
oursin: Sleeping hedgehog (sleepy hedgehog)
[personal profile] oursin

Even though I had a reasonably decent night's sleep last night.

Good meetings with people and good conversations, some tasty food, a panel that (I think) went fairly well even though it was in the room I hate, with the speakers on a platform and a spread-out audience, and cold. (One might also mention the single microphone that had to be handed back and forth among the panel.)

Also managed to get to a couple of other panels.

Was contemplating the Tiptree Auction but felt some recharge time alone was necessitated, May go to the parties for a little while, but am already feeling a bit that what a hedjog wants is a nice cup of Horlicks and a Nice Book to go with it.

Requiescat in Pace

May. 27th, 2017 12:48 pm
onyxlynx: Some trees and a fountain at a cemetery (A Fine and Private Place)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
On Saturday, too.
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to President Carter and father to Mika (TV reporter)
  • Jim Bunning, Hall of Fame pitcher (perfect game) and (*sigh*) conservative Senator from Kentucky
  • Gregg Allman, musician (Allman Brothers Band). Full story as it unravels.
brainwane: My smiling face in front of a brick wall, May 2015. (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane posting in [community profile] wiscon
Per today's Momentary Taste of WisCon newsletter - "WisCon is proud to offer live-captioning services — available all weekend long, at request, for (almost) any panel....would you like to have CART for a panel you’re going to attend? Our CART providers will be hanging out in the Green Room (2nd floor) all weekend long. Check with a Green Room volunteer to see if the CART provider is available. Or you can email access@wiscon.net!"

omgwtfbbq

May. 27th, 2017 08:03 am
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
content note: generally low-pain person complaining about pain, please skip if you like; bad brain; fatigue; anxiety; medical stuff

Read more... )

Culture clash in Canada

May. 27th, 2017 10:44 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll

(no subject)

May. 27th, 2017 09:42 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] redroanchronicles!

More popcorn

May. 27th, 2017 11:22 am
rydra_wong: The display board of a train reads "this train is fucked". (this train is fucked)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
First, Mother Jones have put together a handy timeline, which they promise to keep updating:

Mother Jones: The Long, Twisted, and Bizarre History of the Trump-Russia Scandal

And the Guardian have a helpful guide to the multiple different investigations going on:

The investigations swirling around Donald Trump – a short guide

***********

So, lately:

NYT: At a Besieged White House, Tempers Flare and Confusion Swirls — from the 16th, which is practically decades ago in our new accelerated reality, but still fun:

Some of Mr. Trump’s senior advisers fear leaving him alone in meetings with foreign leaders out of concern he might speak out of turn.

It’s been widely rumoured/speculated that the White House "significant person of interest" is Jared Kushner:

Vox: It’s becoming increasingly clear that Jared Kushner is part of Trump’s Russia problem

(Via [personal profile] robynbender, this: https://twitter.com/bornmiserable/status/865695064722251776 Once this has been pointed out, it's hard to stop noticing it.)

Raw Story: White House looking at ethics rule to weaken special investigation: sources

The two people this could potentially block investigation into are Kushner and Manafort.

This also suggests it’s Kushner:

NBC News: Jared Kushner Under Scrutiny in Russia Probe, Officials Say

And late on Friday, we enter holy shit territory once more:

WaPo: Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

Cut for length )
djm4: (Default)
[personal profile] djm4
Meme grabbed from [personal profile] sfred and [personal profile] ghoti

Meme list )

1: A song you like with a colour in the title:

This one took me a while to think of. I toyed with saying 'anything off Chris T-T's 9 Green Songs album', but none of the songs on the album have a colour in the title themselves, so this was clearly cheating.

In the end, I went for Fade to Grey, by Visage. Yes, grey's a colour.



This is just distilled essence of early Eighties, right down to the lyrics being jointly in English and French because why wouldn't you do that. I'm a lot more familiar with the song than with the video, which is a shame because I've just watched it now and the video turns out to be a thing of beauty by Godley & Cream right at the start of their video directing career.

As with any chart song pre-1983, I missed this completely at the time, but when I first heard it in the late eighties, it settled into my brain like dew from a morning mist, and has never really left.

Vid: 1985 (Tomorrowland)

May. 27th, 2017 01:11 pm
starlady: Mako's face in the jaeger, in profile (mako mori is awesome)
[personal profile] starlady
source: Tomorrowland
audio: Passion Pit, "Lifted Up (1985)"
length: 4:24
stream: on Vimeo
download: 258MB on Dropbox
summary: I won't lie, I knew you'd belong here.

My [community profile] wiscon_vidparty premiere!

Password: tomorrow

1985 from starlady on Vimeo.

I don't watch movies on planes; I'm the creeper who eyeballs your movie while you're watching a movie on planes. I caught enough of this one in flight at one point, though, that I actually watched the rest of it when I couldn't sleep on another flight.

There's no point beating around the bush: Tomorrowland is a compelling movie with bad pacing and execrable politics, but it's also a movie where two girls save the world, one of whom is a robot. (George Clooney helps.) I wanted to make a vid about that part of the movie, less about Brad Bird's weird elitism and despair. The song choice seemed almost too obvious, but on the other hand, I like it.

Weirdly, this is the second vid I've made for Wiscon with a Disney connection, the first being Just a Dream Away. Making this vid also helped me to realize that the movie has already been influential at the level of visuals: Yorktown in Star Trek Beyond, last seen in my [community profile] equinox_exchange vid We Are Who We Are, is almost a carbon copy of the city in this movie, right down to some of the camera angles. I had originally hoped to make this as a Festivids treat, and then November happened. At least I can now go watch the Festivid that did get made for the movie.

One of the things I like about vidding is that it's changed the way I watch movies and it changes the way I think about the sources I vid. Towards the end of making this one I started thinking that they should have cast Casey as not white, which cemented my ambivalence about the entire film. (It wouldn't work, of course, because Brad Bird not so secretly fears the postmodern present, which is why his vision of Tomorrowland is anchored in the late 19thC and the high water mark of the modern, the 1964 World's Fair.) In conclusion, Star Trek does it better. Onward.

Financially Savvy Saturdays #196

May. 27th, 2017 04:01 am
[syndicated profile] brokegirlrich_feed

Posted by Mel @ brokeGIRLrich

Welcome to Financially Savvy Saturdays, the savviest personal finance blog hop on the planet, created specifically for personal finance writers! We welcome all things money here. Whether you’ve written anything from the best budget travel tips to when to use your emergency fund, you’re invited to link-up.

If it ties into personal finance, we want to read it! FinSavSat Banner Tweet about it. You can use #finsavsat when tweeting about the party!

Concerns about SEO? Recently many bloggers have decided to stop participating in events such as Carnivals. If you’re worried about how participating in this link-up could effect your SEO, I’d encourage you to check out this article.

Interested in co-hosting? Co-hosting is fun AND easy. If you’re interested, you can email us via brokeGIRLrich(at)gmail(dot)com with any questions. Or if you’re ready to take the plunge, you can sign up on this Google doc.

If you’ve co-hosted before and enjoyed it, please consider doing it again! If you’re interested but nervous about getting involved, please email one of us, we love talking to new bloggers and would enjoy explaining how blog hops work and getting you more involved!

Feature of the Week

My favorite post from last week’s blog hop is this week’s feature: Why Gift Cards Are Not Free Money by Brock at Clever Dude.

Click here to read his post!

Click here to read his post!

If you submit a post, you could be featured in next week’s party!

We do have a couple of rules for participation. Those who don’t follow the rules will have their link taken down.

1. Your post must be written in the past seven days, related to personal finance and not be solely a giveaway.

2. Be sure to include a link to one of your hosts by copying and pasting the html in one of the boxes below into your linked up post. You have the option of the button or a text link.

3. Follow your hosts. You can follow brokeGIRLrich on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, OR by subscribing to her RSS feed.

4. Comment on at least one post before and after you that have joined the party.

5. HAVE FUN!

Please copy and paste this button into the post you link up:

Disease Called Debt

OR copy and paste this code for a text link:

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The post Financially Savvy Saturdays #196 appeared first on brokeGIRLrich.

Fess up

May. 27th, 2017 12:04 am
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
Which of you mentioned "cultural appropriation" to Orson Scott Card?

Also, are Irish accents really as hard as all that for Americans to understand?

Spectacular sunset over the lake

May. 26th, 2017 08:18 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

One of the benefits of being on a higher floor of the hotel, even if this also means a lot of rather tedious waiting for lifts. I was going to take and post a photo, but I really don't think that my present state of tiredness is a good state in which to get to grips with DW photo posting. Also, on essaying to take a photo for later presentation, realised that the grimy marks on the window would be rather obtrusive.

Quite a full day, which started with waking up rather earlier than I had hoped, but not horribly so.

Socialising has taken place. There was going to be a walk, but then it started to rain (I wouldn;t say there was no chance of a walk that day, but not at that particular time).

Also have been on one panel, which I think suffered a little from ambiguity in framing its terms but nonetheless evoked some interesting discussion.

Observations of note: in the stuffed toy and knickknackery shop just around the corner in State Street, there is a stufft swan, right at the front of the window display: also an inflatable pool version. However, I should eschew props for my reading.

[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of a pub Photoshopped to be named 'The Beloved Community Pub'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

Belly up to the bar,
and be in this space together.

As Monday is Memorial Day in the United States, we will be taking Monday off and will see you back here on Tuesday!

The Friday Blogaround

May. 26th, 2017 04:45 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

This blogaround brought to you by leaves.

Recommended Reading:

Lance Mannion: [Content Note: Class warfare] They Hate Us. All of Us.

Sarah Kendzior: There Are Many Reasons to Oppose a Mike Pence Presidency—But His Skill at Lying Is the Biggest

Sarah Lerner: [CN: Culture of abuse; white male privilege] Only White Men Get to Do Apology Tours

Amy Littlefield: [CN: Christian Supremacy; war on agency] Will a Catholic Hospital Merger Gut Health Care in Gary, Indiana?

Kenrya Rankin: April Ryan Explains Press Responsibility in the Age of Trump

Keith Reid-Cleveland: Gina Prince-Bythewood Becomes First Woman of Color to Direct Marvel Superhero Film

Rebecca Bodenheimer: [CN: Fat hatred] Where Are All the Fat Women in The Handmaid's Tale?

Shannon Gibney and Lori Askeland: [CN: White supremacy] Race, Intersectionality, and the End of the World: The Problem with The Handmaid's Tale

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

Comey's Devastating Unprofessionalism

May. 26th, 2017 03:30 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

On Wednesday, we learned that former FBI Director James Comey's public communications during the election about the Hillary Clinton email probe were influenced by a fake Russian intelligence document.

And it gets even worse.

[Content Note: Video autoplays at link] Dana Bash, Shimon Prokupecz, and Gloria Borger at CNN report that not only was the document fake, but Comey knew it was fake.
Then-FBI Director James Comey knew that a critical piece of information relating to the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email was fake — created by Russian intelligence — but he feared that if it became public it would undermine the probe and the Justice Department itself, according to multiple officials with knowledge of the process.

As a result, Comey acted unilaterally last summer to publicly declare the investigation over — without consulting then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch — while at the same time stating that Clinton had been "extremely careless" in her handling of classified information.

...US officials now tell CNN that Comey and FBI officials actually knew early on that this intelligence was indeed false.

In fact, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe went to Capitol Hill Thursday to push back on the notion that the FBI was duped, according to a source familiar with a meeting McCabe had with members of the Senate intelligence committee.

...In classified sessions with members of Congress several months ago, Comey described those emails in the Russian claim and expressed his concern that this Russian information could "drop" and that would undermine the Clinton investigation and the Justice Department in general, according to one government official.

Still, Comey did not let on to lawmakers that there were doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to sources familiar with the briefings. It is unclear why Comey was not more forthcoming in a classified setting.
As Eastsidekate succinctly summarized: "They admitted to intentionally using hostile propoganda to undermine HRC in order to prop up their own credibility?" Yup.

You know how I keep hammering away about how this war between Donald Trump and intelligence community is not a good thing? And issuing reminders that pro-Comey leakers are shaping their narratives to be favorable to him? Yeah, this is why.

Comey engaged in devastating unprofessionalism during the election, and it had catastrophic consequences. There is very good reason to withhold enthusiastic cheerleading for James Comey, and many of the people on "his team" in this escalating war.

As usual, Hillary Clinton gets it right (commenting before this news broke) in a new profile by Rebecca Traister:
"I am less surprised than I am worried," she says of the Comey firing. "Not that he shouldn't have been disciplined. And certainly the Trump campaign relished everything that was done to me in July and then particularly in October." But "having said that, I think what's going on now is an effort to derail and bury the Russia inquiry, and I think that's terrible for our country."

It will be days before newspapers report that Trump asked Comey to move away from the Russia investigation prior to firing him, but the implications are already clear. History, says Clinton, "will judge whoever's in Congress now as to how they respond to what was an attack on our country. It wasn't the kind of horrible, physical attack we saw on 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, but it was an attack by an aggressive adversary who had been probing for many years to figure out how to undermine our democracy, influence our politics, even our elections."

Her hope, in the wake of Comey's dismissal, is that "this abrupt and distressing action will raise enough questions in the minds of Republicans for them to conclude that it is worthy of careful attention, because left unchecked … this will not just bite Democrats, or me; this will undermine our electoral system."
The takeaway here is that it is the Republicans' job as the majority in Congress to take this stuff seriously. That's the way our system of government is supposed to work.

When they refuse to take action—and we can be certain they will refuse to take action on this newest revelation of breathtaking failure, as they have on every other piece of the colossal scandal that was the 2016 election—they are actively preventing the government from working the way it was designed. They are breaking it.

Because they are enemies of the state.

Will Comey ever face meaningful accountability for the role he played in 2016? I suspect not. And that is a real shame. For us all.
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Today, Hillary Clinton delivered the commencement address at her alma mater Wellesley, 48 years after she gave the first-ever student commencement address. And it was tremendous.


[Complete transcript.]

There were, as ever, so many things to appreciate and value about this address, but this part was particularly meaningful to me:
You know, our culture often celebrates people who appear to go it alone. But the truth is that's not how life works. Anything worth doing takes a village. And you build that village by investing love and time into your relationships. And in those moments, for whatever reason, when it might feel bleak, think back to this place where women have the freedom to take risks, make mistakes, even fail in front of each other. Channel the strength of your Wellesley classmates and experiences. I guarantee you it will help you stand up a little straighter, feel a little braver, knowing that the things you joked about and even took for granted can be your secret weapons for your future. One of the things that gave me the most hope and joy after the election, when I really needed it, was meeting so many young people who told me that my defeat had not defeated them.

And I'm going to devote a lot of my future to helping you make your mark in the world. I created a new organization called Onward Together to help recruit and train future leaders, organize for real and lasting change. The work never ends. When I graduated and made that speech, I did say, and some of you might have pictures from that day with this on it, the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible. That was true then. It's truer today.

I never could have imagined where I would have been 48 years later. Certainly never that I would have run for the presidency of the United States or seen progress for women in all walks of life over the course of my lifetime. And yes, put millions of more cracks in that highest and hardest glass ceiling. Because just in those years, doors that once seemed sealed to women are now open. They're ready for you to walk through or charge through. To advance the struggle for equality, justice, and freedom. So whatever your dreams today, dream even bigger. Wherever you have set your sights, raise them even higher. And above all, keep going. Don't do it because I asked you to. Do it for yourselves. Do it for truth and reason. Do it because the history of Wellesley and this country tells us it's often during the darkest times when you can do the most good.

Double down on your passions. Be bold. Try. Fail. Try again and lean on each other. Hold on to your values. Never give up on those dreams. I'm have been optimistic about the future. Because I think after we've tried a lot of other things, we get back to the business of America. I believe in you with all my heart. I want you to believe in yourselves. So go forth. Be great.
Hillary Clinton is a leader for people who want to lead. She is a shatterer of glass ceilings. She is a blazer of trails. She is a dreamer of big dreams, and the inspiration for even bigger ones.

Above all, Hillary Clinton is a builder of villages.

She knows, and reminds us often, that it takes a village. She knows, too, that not everyone has the village they need—and so her life's work has been, and continues to be, finding ways to ensure that every person is part of a strong, supportive, sustainable village that can uplift its villagers to achieve their goals. And to imagine radical goals of otherwise improbable scope, which can only be conceived in the safety of spaces where opportunity and community make the impossible seem within reach.

Clinton embodies the absolute inverse of the Republican Party's destructive instinct. Following days and weeks (and months and years) of the Republican Party proposing and enacting policy designed to destroy democratic institutions, communities, and people's very lives, it was an excruciatingly stark juxtaposition listening to Clinton speak about the things we can—and must—build. And promising to help us build them.

image of Hillary Clinton in profile, sitting outdoors in the sunshine
[Photo: Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America.]

Following Clinton's address, a number of Important People wondered: "Where was this Hillary Clinton during the election?" There is, perhaps, no more dishonest or self-serving musing anyone could make in response to that address, which was classic Clinton.

It is a musing that is naught but rank victim-blaming and gaslighting. A rhetorical device meant to absolve oneself of having failed to see who she really is.

She was right in front of our faces, all along. I spent the entirety of the campaign writing about "this Hillary Clinton," which was one of the great privileges and highlights of my professional life. She was there to behold, for anyone who was not busy instead being enchanted by Trump's empty podium or four decades of misogynist filth.

The difference between now and the campaign is not in Clinton: The difference is that she is no longer seeking power. The terrifying threat of female power is gone. (For now.)

"This Hillary Clinton," the one giving a sharp and stirring commencement address, was the same Hillary Clinton who has always stood before us, offering her service. The same gifted leader, the same master of policy, the same patriot who petitioned to lead this nation.

The same builder of villages.

I am incandescently angry at the people who made great efforts to not see "this Hillary Clinton" during the election. I will never get over her not being my president; we will lose so very much because she isn't—and I lay a significant portion of the blame at the feet of those who couldn't be bothered, or flatly refused, to see Clinton for who she is and has always been.

And I almost—almost—feel sympathy for them, that they have denied themselves the opportunity to get to know and spend time with this extraordinary woman, and with the people who believe in her; the people who see her.

Because it is a fine experience indeed to be a part of the village she's built.
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hi Captain,

So, I’ve been attending a salsa dance class the last few months. The class is structured so that you are welcome to come as a single person, and the participants shuffle through partners throughout the class. It’s a lot of fun and the men are generally pretty respectful and appropriate.

My problem is that a young man has been attending the last two weeks, and while he is very polite, his body odor is HORRENDOUS. I really cannot overstate how bad it is. By the middle of class he is sweating profusely, such that there is perspiration dripping off of his nose, and yes, onto his dancing partners (or at least *this* dancing partner, which is my main concern).

I really don’t want dance with him, but I don’t know how to refuse or what to do about it without being rude. I can totally see his attendance in this class as a suggested “assignment” from a therapist or other advice giver (such as yourself!) to get out there and be around people, even if it’s something he’s not comfortable doing.

Do you have any scripts that I can use? I do want to be kind.

~Dreading Dance Class

(She/her pronouns)

Dear Dreading Dance Class,

I’ve gotten a lot of “how do I tell someone they smell” and a lot of “how do I deal with this awkward dance partner” questions that I haven’t answered yet – thanks for this question that lets me combine both!

You don’t have to dance with him (or with anyone that you don’t want to) and if his turn as your partner gets a “No thank you/Not this time/Oh, sorry, I need to use the rest room/catch my breath/make a quick phone call” for now while you work up to talking to him about it, that’s okay. This is as true for The Dance Partner Who Never Stops Talking, Too Much Perfume Lady, and The Brotherhood of the Traveling Hands as it is for Febreezio The Fragrant.

Ideally dance teachers and studios should communicate ground rules for class and issue periodic reminders, for example:

  • Dancing means getting really close to people, so we expect that you’ll wear clean clothes and freshen up before class. Don’t forget to brush your teeth/use breath mints, too.
  • Everyone sweats when they dance so please remember to blot/mop yourself up occasionally – handkerchiefs or bandanas are useful for this!
  • Please avoid strong cologne or perfume due to allergies.
  • We like everyone to dance with everyone else and feel welcome, but you can refuse to dance with anyone or sit a dance out for any reason. If someone doesn’t want to dance with you, or sits out a dance, don’t take it personally – in 5 minutes you’ll have a new partner.
  • If you feel like someone is dancing too close here is how you signal that!/Here is how you signal or ask for permission to dance closer.

Of course, posting general “for everyone” rules definitely don’t magically solve the issue. We all know that Sylvia-in-your-office-who-cuts-a-sliver-out-of-each-of-the-free-cookies-in-the-break-room definitely doesn’t think she is the problem when the office manager sends out the “Please can everyone just take the whole cookie from now on? You don’t have to eat the whole thing, but it’s gross when they’ve all been handled and look like there are bites out of them” emailThe office manager needs to send the email and have a “Sylvia, could you please stop doing that” talk.

When you join a scene or a hobby or a workplace or any social enterprise, certain expectations come with that (There is no talking in the Diogenes Club). If Febreezio doesn’t already know that “It’s okay if you are a naturally sweaty person but dancing close to people means doing what you can to manage your sweat”/”Your usual hygiene game is not cutting it for this level of close contact and physical activity” someone in that scene – you, or the teacher, or another old hand – is doing a kindness if they tell him directly as soon as possible. Communicating those expectations is not persecution.

He will definitely not enjoy the conversation and not feel good! Nobody likes to get told that they stink! It’s embarrassing! But it will also be wicked embarrassing if everyone suddenly needs to take an urgent phone call when it’s their turn to dance with him.

If you want to have the conversation, pull him aside privately (not on the dance floor) and try this script:

Hey, X, can I talk to you real quick about something awkward? Great.

I’d love to dance with you sometime, but I’ve noticed you don’t smell so great today and you don’t mop up when you get sweaty. Can you make sure to freshen up before next class, and bring a handkerchief or bandana with you to mop up sweat?

Casting it as a thing you’ve had to deal with personally can help:

“When I first started coming to dance classes I definitely underestimated how sweaty I’d get. I needed to raise my deodorant game for one thing, and I also realized I needed to bring a clean shirt with me to change into between work and coming here. I’ve noticed you having some of the same issues. Can you make sure to freshen up before next class, and bring a handkerchief or bandana with you to mop up sweat?”

Whatever you do, keep it short and treat it like a normal, reasonable request that you think he will want to follow in order to make you more comfortable as a dance partner.

If you talk to the teacher about it, try:

X is new here, and I’ve noticed that he doesn’t smell so good or mop up when he sweats, so I don’t want to dance with him. I don’t want to hurt his feelings and I want him to have fun and be included here. Can you speak to him about it or do you have suggestions for how to approach it with him?

The teacher should take him aside and say something like:

We’re very glad you’re here, but I’ve noticed* some issues with body odor and sweat today. Please take a shower, use deodorant, and please make sure you’re wearing clean clothes before you come to dance lessons next week, it’s part of being a good dance partner. Also, bring a handkerchief or bandana with you to mop up if you get sweaty.” 

Notice the list: Clean clothes, shower, deodorant, bandana to mop sweat. Now is not the time for vague euphemisms like “be more aware of hygiene.” Either the guy doesn’t know he smells, or he does know but he doesn’t have a good practice to make it stop. You’ve come this far into Awkwardtown, might as well be specific and tell him what exactly you’d like him to do.

As for your worries about driving him away from dance class forever, let’s get some perspective: What if a therapist did recommend for him to come here? What if he is really really really nervous about dancing? What if he comes straight from working a really physical job and doesn’t have time to shower and this is his only outlet for exploring the pleasure of dance? What if it’s a medical issue? What if these are his only clothes what if the closest washing machine and shower are 10 miles away from his house and uphill both ways?

Is that really your baggage to take on?

Isn’t it also patronizing to project all of those possible explanations, excuses, and reasons onto other people? After all, he is an adult man who signed up for and attends a dance class, so isn’t it likely that he can:

a) Take steps to clean himself up before doing a social activity (See Jimmy’s trunk full of wet wipes on this week’s Better Call Saul)?

b) Experiment with and adjust his hygiene strategies if it is in fact a medical issue?

c) Handle 5 minutes of awkward conversation about it?

d) Make choices about how he deals with uncomfortable feelings, whether that’s “Clean up a little better so I can enjoy dancing” or “flee forever…too mortifying…ack?”

When someone is doing something that makes you uncomfortable, it’s very easy to get lost in diagnosing all the reasons they might do it. Compassionate people try to walk in the other person’s shoes, and it’s even more pronounced when you factor in how relentlessly women are socialized to protect men’s feelings. But if you avoid a difficult conversation with someone who is making you uncomfortable because you can’t stop worrying about the reasons or stop generating possible excuses for them, it won’t help the person or solve the problem. It will just put you through a lot of emotional labor without making a single thing better for anyone.

 

*Important: If you are ever a peer or an authority figure who has to deliver embarrassing news to someone, and if it can possibly be avoided, don’t start with “We’ve had complaints” or “Everyone talked about this and we think ____” or “Some people have suggested that you…” I understand the temptation to displace the awkwardness onto the anonymous authority of the group, but it just makes it worse for the person and also risks derailing the conversation with “Who complained?” “What exactly did they say?” The first time you have the conversation with someone, let them save a little face by not making it them vs. the whole group or the whole world. You’re already here delivering the awkward news, so use your “I” statements and own the problem.

Appendix: I’m not a dancer but as a teacher and a manager and a dater and a person with a body, this has been my approach Private Conversations About Smells (And Other Body Awkwardnesses).

Case Studies #1-???: Conversations With Stinky College Students

Odor/hygiene problems are almost always co-morbid with the student falling behind academically, so that’s usually my angle.:

Me: “You’ve been missing a lot of class/You didn’t turn in your last assignment. What’s going on?

If The Stink has crossed to a Truly Problematic place, then I add: “Also, is really awkward and I hate to put you on the spot like this, but I’ve noticed that you don’t seem like your usual self in class lately – you don’t smell good/your clothes aren’t clean – is everything all right?

As you can imagine I find out all kinds of stuff, from “I live in a homeless shelter” to “I don’t know how to do laundry and I’m too embarrassed to ask” to “Showering wastes crucial earth resources and deodorant is just a conspiracy from Big Pharma to make us CONFORM!” … to depression, grief, sexual assault, and other really hard stuff, so I never, never assume what the problem is.

Results/Follow-up:

  • Obviously, deadline re-negotiation and referrals to many campus resources for the hard stuff.
  • For the “Oh, Buddy” Freshmen: “Have you Googled ‘how do I do laundry?’ “No” “Maybe try that? Oh look, here’s a couple of tutorials” “Ok!” “Cool, I don’t want to smell you next week.” “LOL, you got it.”
  • For the “I’m stinky FOR THE EARTH, DEAL WITH MY RIGHTEOUS STENCH” student I’ve had luck with “I get that but if I can smell you from here it’s gotten out of hand for what’s okay in a small classroom or working on a film crew in close quarters. Can you research some environmentally-friendly solutions or schedule the weekly bath for right before my class? I’d sure appreciate it.”

Case Studies: SexyTimes Stink! 2000-present day

Brevity and directness are kindness:

  • I’d very much like to put my _____ on your _____ or your _____ in my _____ but I think you/I/we both need a shower first.
  • Oof, it’s a little funky down here. Can we pick this up after a shower? Awesome.

If you’re close enough to someone that you’re going to put your ______ on their ______, then you’re close enough to say “Bodies are gross sometimes, let’s agree to take mitigating measures.

Case Studies In Which I Was A Manager Of Someone With Awkward Hygiene Stuff

Script/Mad Lib:

“Hey, this is awkward and I hate to put you on the spot, but [you don’t smell good][you aren’t wearing clean clothes to work][you’re probably not aware but when you lean over in that top your whole chest area and bra can be seen (true story!)][that white shirt is see-through please wear an undershirt][there is some other specific thing about your hygiene or physical aspect that is giving me cause for concern].”

If appropriate:

“Have you noticed that, too? That’s not like you at all, so…[Is there anything going on we should know about][Have you had a medical checkup lately][Visited a dentist to talk about that?][Do you need a couple of days off to catch up on Life Stuff like laundry?][Need to make a Target run for something that doesn’t have holes in it before our client meeting?]”

As with students, people who had difficult life reasons got referred to whatever resources could be had, and everyone got a “Hey, this is informal right now – I just wanted to check in with you and talk about it before it becomes a real issue. Please [do the stuff we talked about][take a few days to get it together][take another look at the dress code and let me know if something is unclear or seems impossible] and it will go back to being a non-issue.

By way of contrast, here’s a story about what not to do about The Stinky Guy:

Case Study: The Saga of The Smelly Hippie Guy I Shared An Office With For A Year In The Late 1990s Before I Had Therapy/When I Was Still Terrified Of Conflict

Me: :Agonizes for months about whether to say anything:

Him: :continues to stink:

Me: :Complains about him to everyone who would listen…except him.:

Him: :keeps it funky:

Me: :Tries to get my office moved: :Have a choice of sticking with stinky-but-quiet guy or sharing with a lady I hate who never stops talking: 

Me: :polls my work friends at length re: The Noise or the Funk?:

Me: (sigh) :inertia + Funk:

Him: :wavy stink lines come off him sometimes:

Me: :executes a complex series of trades with everyone in the office until I am his Secret Santa: 

Me: :gives THE GIFT OF TINY FANCY MAN-SOAP & DEODORANT: (We travel a lot for our work so this can be played off as “I got you some awesome travel supplies!”)

Him: “Sweet! Thanks! Hahaha! Are you saying I stink?”

Me: “Hahahaha no. No. Hahahaha. No. Why would you think that?

Him: “Right on!” :gift disappears into desk drawer:

Also Him: :rocks on with his funky self:

Me: :Periodically checks his desk drawer to see if the soap package has been opened or moved:

(It hasn’t moved)

(It never moves)

Him: “I’m going to start biking to work, is it cool with you if I have my bike in here?”

Me: “Sure!”

Me: :buys a scented candle and moves it slowly closer to him each day when I burn it:

Office Manager: All Staff Email: “Reminder: No candles or open flames in the office.”

Me: :buys a carved wooden incense burner and some incense from a street vendor down the block. For some reason tell him that I got it on an international trip:

Him: “I like this incense you brought back!”

Office Manager: All Staff Email: “No incense, either! No fire at all!”

Me: :sprays Glade:

Him: “Ugh, could you not spray that stuff? It’s full of chemicals.”

Me: “Oh…ok.”

Him: “Yeah, and also I just can’t stand the way it smells.”

Me:

giphy (13)

.gif of John Krasinski saying “Oh my god” and pouring wine.

Another month goes by. It’s my turn to take over our department’s “Word of the Week” email. It’s a fun game so I’ll describe it for any office workers reading: Junior staff would secretly take turns picking an unusual word and gaining bragging points by using the word as much as possible in meetings and office communications throughout the week. Points were awarded based on sophistication and correctness of usage, frequency of use (more points for being the seventh person who says “I think we’ve crossed…the Rubicon… here” in the same meeting than for being the first), whether we could say it without laughing, whether we could make the one Cool Boss who has caught on to the game laugh or (better yet!) use it, and (best of all) whether we could make the expression catch on widely among senior staff.

My words that month: noisome, malodorous, putrescent, fetid.

Him: :adopts some kind of all-rotten egg, all-compost lunch routine:

Also him: :keeps on reekin’ on:

Another month goes by. It’s almost a year to the day that we started sharing an office. In summer. In Washington, D.C. aka SWAMPY MCHUMIDPLACE.

Me: :Walks into our office and gags because it smelled like old socks have been dipped in ball sweat, wrapped around road kill, and slow-roasted over a dung fire:

Me: “DUDE, it’scoolthatyoulikebikingtoworkandeverything but it is getting RANK in here. THERE ARE SHOWERS ON THE TOP FLOOR OF THE BUILDING, PLEASE USE THEM!!!! Or bring a change of clothes with you. OR SOMETHING.”

Him: “Whoa!”

Me: (small voice) “I’msorryIdidn’tmeantoyell”

Me: (small voice) “But you stink.”

Him: :smells his own pits: “Wow yeah I am kinda stinky today. Sorry.”

Me: (almost a whisper) “Not just today.”

Him: “There are showers?”

Me: “Yeah! Top floor.”

Him: “Is there a code or a lock or anything I need to know about?”

Me: 7-2-0-1#

Him: “Sweet! I’ll bring a towel with me tomorrow.”

Me: “And…every day?”

Him: “And every day.”

Me: “Thanks.”

Him: “No worries! I hope this wasn’t bothering you all this time?!?”

Me: “Hahahaha…no, of course not. All good. Just…clean yourself.”

Him: “Got it.”

Me: “MaybethatsoapIgotyouisstillinyourdesk?

(It was)

(I had checked 2 days ago)

Him: “GOT it.”

Me: “OkI’mgoingtolunchnow…bye…can I bring you anything back…”

Him: “All good…”

Me: “Ok!”

Him: “Seriously, Jen, it’s all good.

Me: :goes to lunch, brings him back a cookie and a brownie and a coffee:

And lo, he did take regular showers, and behold, a bike makes a pretty good good rack for holding a damp towel, and indeed, when his towel started to get funky I said “Hey time to wash that towel, yeah?” and he smelled it and said “Good grief, yes, I’m sorry!” and we never spoke of it again.

Letter Writer, your conversation with this dancing guy is going to be easier than that, right? Right.

 

 

 

 

 


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