So as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been teaching myself Esperanto using Duolingo. It’s quick and fairly easy, something I do every day for around 15 minutes at least.

I really really like Duolingo. It’s free to use, unless you opt in for the pro version. I never realized before that it was a sort of open source language school. So much of their content is free.

Yes, they are a private company. But they’re clearly doing good in the world.

I know that in the month or so I’ve been actively using it, I am definitely learning. I’m able to read and write on a very rudimentary level in Esprinto already.

I first got the app a couple of years ago to try to learn Spanish. An ex of mine was married to a man who mostly spoke Spanish. I thought it would be a good idea for me to learn it too. That went by the wayside, but I still had the app and my account when I got bit by this new bug .

So about that goofy post title. For the most part I find the way Duolingo teaches me to be really smart, and on the nose. Instead of drilling grammar rules into me, it teaches me words and simple phrases.

Every once in a while though the app really surprises me, in a couple of ways. Sometimes the example Frases it wants me to translate are really odd, or are wonderfully inclusive and progressive. Just recently I translated a bunch of sentences about Adam and his husband, and Sophia and her two boyfriends.

One of the ways it teaches you is by having you select potential words for a phrase out of a pool of choices. Whenever I do this is zero in quickly on what I think are the correct terms. Sometimes after I’m done I take a look at the words that are left in the pool.

More often than not what’s left over is completely ridiculous.

Just now, laying in bed, I was taking a lesson where the phrase was: La edzino de mia frato estas mia bofratino. That is, My brother’s wife is my sister-in-law.

What was left over? You guessed it: sweet beef money niece.

public.jpeg
Posted
AuthorMako Allen
CategoriesgratitudeNow

Who what now? That is, a secret language for us. That language is Esperanto. Esperanto is a constructed language, created about 100 years ago by a polish ophthalmologist, LL Zamenhof.

public.jpeg

The Esperanto flag

The language has 16 grammatical rules which I’m still learning, and a vocabulary which is based on many different European languages. I speak French, although it’s been a while, and that’s been really helpful in my learning. Esperanto’s rules never have exceptions. This makes learning the language really fast and really easy.

Part of what sparked my imagination about doing this is that this is a language that is both everywhere and nowhere. It doesn’t really belong to anybody. There are about 2 million people who speak it, as a hobby. They are scattered all over the world.

It occurred to me that this could work in my favor, in our favor. That is, that kinky people in general and age players in particular could get a lot of use out of this thing.

Having the ability to have a conversation that cannot be understood easily if overheard is damn useful. The only people who know this thing are those who make the effort to know it.

Plus, in the month or so that I’ve been learning it, several interesting things have happened to me.

Learning something useful and real for its own merit on my own time feels remarkably childlike to me. The time I spend every day in practice is a bit like having piano practice, or chores.

There are some Esperanto words which just sound little and are fun to say.

Here are a few fun sentences, see if you can figure them out:

Ĉu via vindotuko estas malseka?

Vi estas tre malbona.

Mi pensas, ke iu bezonas frapadon sur la fundo.

Mi volas tuŝi vin en specialaj lokoj.

So fun! I’ve been taking a Duolingo course to learn it. And over on the Big Little Podcast slack I’ve started a channel for others who are learning it with me.

I’d love it if you’d join me!

Posted
AuthorMako Allen
CategoriesJust because

I’ve got the enry, got it bad.

That is, I’ve got New Relationship Energy, going with my new girlfriend, MJ.

I could (oh heck I am) gush to you about how she’s beautiful, smart, witty, and soooo sexual.  All true. But the thing I most appreciate about her is that we are firmly oriented toward one another.

I feel like she’s this fantastic book I can’t put down, and just need to stay up reading.  She’s told me repeatedly she feels the same way about me.  It’s this positive feedback loop of mutual admiration and exploration.  And, for the skeptical among you, it’s not all bubbles and sunshine. We explore our ouchy places, ways we’ve been hurt before, ways we have hurt others.  We are doing the deep dive.

And each and every time growing closer and getting happier about it. What we’re doing feels like the loving opposite of the scene from How to Train Your Dragon where Hiccup’s dad asks him “Can you just stop doing... this?” To which Hiccup replies, “YOU JUST POINTED TO ALL OF ME!

IMG_1662.PNG

We keep pointing to all of each other and saying how much we love it. 

Posted
AuthorMako Allen
CategoriesgratitudeNow

Everyone lives and dies by their google calendar, when you’re polyamorous.

Recently, because of my new squeeze, MJ, I’ve been adjusting those pesky google calendar settings.

Wanted to write this down for you, dear reader, as well as myself for the future. Because I’m bound to forget this damn stupid thing again.

If, like me, you’re an apple person, and use iCal and iPhones, and iGetFrustrated when they don’t work seamlessly with your partner’s gCal:

These instructions tell you how to add a google calendar to the iCal on your mac:

https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/99358?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&oco=0

And THIS technote has the workaround for how to add them to your iPhone when the above instructions don’t do squat.

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7647157

The crucial thing to remember is to add a new CalendarDAV account, using google.com as your server, and your regular credentials to log in.

You should probably ALSO remember that sharks are the best animals on the planet. That’s not technically helpful, it’s just true.

Posted
AuthorMako Allen
CategoriesImportant

So, this is about a person, a t-shirt, and a difference in attitudes.

There’s this person I know. I’ve known them for years. I’m not going to say who it is, or even drop any hints about their gender, age, or relationship to me in any way. Because this daily think is about me, and only tangentially about them. I need to call them something, so for the duration of this post, I’ll refer to them by the wonderfully androgynous name Storm.

I’m not going to bandy about here. Storm is conservative, and more than just conservative: hatefully so. I’ve heard Storm refer to liberals as snowflakes, express glee over getting into arguments with them, say hateful, essentialist, reductive things about women, black people, and transgender people.

Over the many years I’ve known Storm, I’ve seen these attitudes go from just peeking above the surface, a little glimpse, to full on hate-iceberg floating above the water, ready to crash into my boat. (It’s not a great metaphor, work with me here.)

As this hateberg has made itself more apparent, I’ve gradually distanced myself from Storm, as well as some of Storm’s family and friends. I just don’t have the space in my life for that sort of toxic hatred, irrationality, and anger.

“Fuck Your Safe Space.” Lovely.

“Fuck Your Safe Space.” Lovely.

Recently, I bumped into them again. They were very proud of a new t-shirt they’d bought.

This isn’t the exact t-shirt, the slogan isn’t the same, nor the color. But the sentiment is very similar.

When I saw this thing, it really bothered the heck out of me.

I got a look on my face, that surely conveyed how unthrilled I was by it. I heard Storm comment to a friend, “Some people just aren’t gonna like it. Too bad for them.”

I didn’t confront them directly. I did stew about it.

Hence, this blog post.

I have this daily practice. Each day, I spend some amount of time in meditation and contemplation about some aspect of my life, human consciousness, emotional intelligence, and our relationship to one another. I study, for lack of a better term, being. This is something I’ve done for about 17 years or so now. Sometimes, I will ponder the same thing for many days, weeks, months, even years. (Compassion was one of my longest ones - I spent a good 18 months on it, several years ago.)

Lately, hate has been on my mind. What is it? Why do people do it? What can and should I do about other people’s hate?

I’ve been working on this latest contemplation for several days now. A few things have jumped out at me.

  1. That shirt, and the sort of attitude it espouses is inherently paradoxical. “Hey,” it says, “pay attention to me not paying attention to you!” The very thing it protests, it also demands. Ridiculous.

  2. For a long time now, I’ve held the belief that negative action is both more expensive and less useful than positive action. It’s human and natural to get angry. But to go out of one’s way to be negative costs a lot of energy. And it doesn’t really yield worthwhile results. Whereas positive action is the very opposite.

    I’ll use an example from my own life. I used to have this very negative boss at an old job of mine. He was horrible. Racist, judgmental, snarky and dishonest. I tried over the course of a year or so, to point out to him what an insensitive jerk he was, and to get him to do better. Eventually, I realized it was fruitless. So I found myself a new job, and quit. That was more than a decade ago. My career has blossomed since then. He’s a distant memory.

  3. I think hatred is a manifestation of a form of discomfort, or perhaps fear. “I don’t like this thing that is happening, so I’m going to react to it in this way.” It’s reactionary.

  4. Whether they realize it or not, hateful people serve a purpose that they themselves cannot avoid. They’re instructive. Every time I hear Storm open their mouth to say some terrible thing, it furthers my own resolve to be as little like them as possible. Not just that I want to be kind and compassionate, but also that I strive to be self-aware, self improving, and not blind to the ways I might harm others through my own actions and beliefs.

There’s a taoist precept, wu-wei, the “action of inaction.” It’s not passivity. Rather, it’s a form of detachment. Do that which is necessary, and only that.

There’s a particular verse from the Tao te Ching, #2, that describes this very well. (Stephen Mitchell translation)

When people see some things as beautiful,

other things become ugly.

When people see some things as good,

other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.

Difficult and easy support each other.

Long and short define each other.

High and low depend on each other.

Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master

acts without doing anything

and teaches without saying anything.

Things arise and she lets them come;

things disappear and she lets them go.

She has but doesn't possess,

acts but doesn't expect.

When her work is done, she forgets it.

That is why it lasts forever.

Kindness and hatred also define each other. So, Storm’s attitudes, and actions have furthered my resolve in some very important ways. More than ever, I’m committed to my default position of being kind to others. More than ever, I look for opportunities to help other people. In my voting, politics, charitable giving, I’m committed to pass laws to minimize the ability of hateful people to harm others, and to help out the little guy when and where I can.

On a personal level, I can see that, as has been my previous course, I’m steering clear of Storm. If the occasion arises for me to compassionately tell them why, I will. But I’m going to do my best to not fret about it, because it’s not necessary.

Posted
AuthorMako Allen
CategoriesDaily Think