Tuesday, July 30, 2013

10 Self Defense Tips

Tomorrow morning I will be heading off to Sacramento for the Homeschool Association of California annual Adventures in Homeschooling conference. I've been attending this conference for almost two decades -- since I was a little, little kid. I've never missed a conference since we started going. 

Most years I put on some kind of workshop -- either martial arts, or sign language, usually. This year I'm only doing one workshop, but it's something a little new for me. I'll be doing a self defense workshop for teen girls

I've been thinking about and planning this workshop for a while. We'll be doing a combination of physical self defense, practical tips, and how to keep yourself out of danger. Plus some discussion of mental defense and rape culture.

I'm not completely done planning, but I thought I would share a few of the tips I was planning on talking about. 

1. Trust your instincts.
Cliché yes, but for good reason. All too often, after a woman has been attacked, she will say that she felt like something wasn't right, but she thought she was being paranoid. While you don't want to live our life in fear, another cliché applies here: better safe than sorry. If something feels wrong, chances are it is. 

2. Don't look like a victim.
Stand up straight, walk quickly but not at a run, and keep your gaze level. Stick your chest out and look confident, even if you really feel terrified -- people are much less likely to attack or harass you if you look strong and sure of yourself.

3. Keep your keys in your hand. 
If you're walking in an area that makes you a little uneasy, especially alone or at night, keep a hold of your keys. This makes it easier to get into your car quickly without having to dig around in you bag. Plus, if you make a fist with your key sticking through your fingers, you have a good weapon to use against someone's eyes or throat. 

4. Yell.
If someone does attack you, fight back as loudly as you can. Not only does yelling give you more power, but it scares your attacker and alerts other people to the situation, who will hopefully come to your aid.

5. Hit vulnerable targets. 
If you have to defend yourself, use simple techniques such as knees and palms, and hit vulnerable targets, like the eyes, throat, and groin. 

6. Use your surroundings. 
Throw sand in your attacker's face. Hit them with your backpack. Brace yourself against your car while you kick them. Anything to give yourself an advantage. There is no such thing as fighting dirty when it comes to defending yourself. 

7. If you get pinned, keep moving. 
The worst thing you can do in the event that you get pinned down is stop fighting. Whatever you do, just keep moving, especially your hips. If you can, use our knees and feet to spread open their legs while you worm your way out. Get on your feet ASAP. 

8. Never get into a car under duress. 
If someone asks for your wallet, give it them. They want your necklace? Hand it over. Those aren't worth getting hurt. But if someone tries to get you into their car, or trunk, fight back hard. Your chances of remaining alive and well if you get into a car plummet significantly, so use surprise to your advantage, hit them hard, and run. 

9. If someone harasses you, tell someone.
Tell everyone. And don't stop telling people until something has been done. This applies for everyone, no matter what age you are. Tell your parents, tell HR, tell the police. Remember that nothing you did cause this behavior -- you didn't "ask for it" via your clothing, or behavior. If you do nothing, even if the harassment on you stops, there is nothing to say that another person might suffer at the hands of the same aggressor. Make sure that people know what that person is capable  of. 

10. Other people cannot earn sex/love by being nice to you/doing you favors.
It doesn't matter if they walked your dog. It doesn't matter if they helped you through a bad breakup. It doesn't matter if they bought you dinner. You do not owe them sex, or love, or a relationship. You still retain the right to say no. Anyone who tries to demand anything from you and uses the argument that you owe them because of x, y, and z is being emotionally abusive -- and that's not the kind of person you want in your life. 

This is just a small sampling of tips for staying safe. What other tips do you try to follow? Share in the comments!

The Game of Game of Thrones

Last night I played board games until three in the morning. Today I spent seven hours playing one board game.

It was the Game of Thrones board game -- not the two player card game, but the massive six player strategy game. Roxana and I went to John and Garrett's house (John being the friend who recently got married) and played with the two of them, one of John's groomsmen, Josh AKA Draper, and John's new wife Cayla.

It was absolutely wonderful. The game was interesting and engaging, keeping all of our attention for seven straight hours (well, we did have one ten minute cake break). It really came down to the wire -- on the last turn, four of the six of us could easily have won it all. In the end, House Lannister, who I was playing, managed to seize control of Westeros, though House Baratheon controlled the Iron Throne, thereby setting us up pretty much how the series itself actually begins.

It is rare to find a game with no random elements. This one technically had one (three cards get flipped at the beginning of each round that have a somewhat significant effect on the rest of the turn), but it was minor compared to the overall game. In spite of this game being essentially a new kind of Risk or Axis and Allies, it had absolutely no die rolling of any kind. Plus, no card drawing -- all of your cards are in your hand at all times, unless you've chosen to play them. In addition to all that, everyone can see your cards and your influence tokens (basically money, although used for other things as well) at all times.

It really is a strategy game in the truest sense of the word. You have essentially all the information at all times -- all you have to do is plan your tactics and try to figure out what the other houses are going to do. It's a game I walked away from mentally exhausted -- always a good sign in my book.

The six houses you can play as are Lannister, Baratheon, Stark, Greyjoy, Tyrell, and Martell. The game worked thematically very well. It really felt like you were in the Song of Ice and Fire universe. All of the elements of the game added up to a very Westeros feeling match.

Seven hours for one game is a long time. However, it moves quickly and since everyone is taking turns almost simultaneously, there are never long periods of sitting around doing nothing. It is also a good game for non-readers -- though there is some text, all of it can be read for you by other players.

Overall, I loved it. So much that as soon as this blog post is up, I will be googling it to see how much it costs to buy. Thank you to John, Cayla, and Garrett for inviting us over to play. I can't wait to play again, so I can try out one of the other houses. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones (either the books, the TV show, or both) and love strategy game, then hurry up and learn how to play (which you can do by watching the twenty two minute instructional video provided by the game makers -- it seems excessive, but it's extremely helpful).

Plus, it's a great excuse to sit around all day trash talking each other with Game of Thrones quotes -- what's better than that?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Wedding of Cayla and John

Today I attended the wedding of an old friend, John. Him and his now wife are moving to the easy coast (where she is from originally, and where they met), so this was their west coast wedding. In a few years, after she graduates, they'll be having their full blown, legit wedding on the east coast, with all of her friends and family included. 

This felt like a pretty legit wedding though, I must say. There was a lovely white dress, vows, dancing. It was at a gorgeous mansion I wish I had taken a few pictures of, in Yorba Linda.

Roxana and I went together, thankfully, since we didn't know another person there, aside from the groom and his best man (and the bride, barely).

There ceremony was interestingly military, complete with dress uniforms and sabers. But it was also very casual and brief and sweet.

I was honored to have been invited, as it was a rather intimate gathering, and so glad we were both able to go, since we both are moving soon (me back to the valley on the 16th, while Roxana will be going straight from the Sacramento conference to San Fran).

The best part of the wedding? The look of complete adoration that crossed over the faces of both bride and groom every time they looked at each other. In the words of the best man, "When you know, you know. And I'm glad they knew."

Friday, July 26, 2013

Happy Birthday Kris

Today is the birthday of this guy I used to know. We went to Cypress College together -- his whole family was involved in theater there. Roxana did a lot of shows with his mom and sister, with him working on the technical side of things.

He lost the battle to cancer back in January. He had been sick for a while, but the last time I had seen him in person was at Barnes and Noble, before he got sick. He was looking for a book on guns -- I think I was looking for anything on feminism. We ran into each other and kept the store from closing while we (and my mom and Roxana) caught up on each others lives.

He was engaged, and Facebook still lists that as his relationship status, which never fails to break my heart. Kris was a geek in the true sense of the word -- passionate about everything he was interested in. He was full of life, and joy, and energy.

Every time I run, and CharityMiles asks me what cause I want to run for, there is no question in my mind. I always think of Kris while I run my few miles to help cure cancer.

The Facebook page of someone who has died is an odd thing. It's wonderful, because it fills up with wonderful words about the person, not just in the days following their death, but continuously, and on days like today, Kris's birthday. Plus, if you go back far enough, you can see posts from the person who passed away, and you get to pretend for a moment that they're still around.

But it's hard too. Like when I'm throwing an event, and Facebook suggests that I invite Kris. It's always a shocking moment of reality.

Missing you today Kris. I wish I had hung out with you more, gotten to know you better. I'll regret that forever. But I'm glad I knew you at all -- you have made the world a better place to live in.

Hope you're having a rocking birthday.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Love and Movies

After seeing one to many movies that had their few female characters almost exclusively focused on romance (and only heterosexual romance), I posed a question to my Facebook friends this morning:

All I want out of life right now is a movie that includes female characters that has nothing to do with romance or love. So lay it on me Facebook people -- I need some suggestions.

So far there are 96 comments, and the conversation has continued for over three hours solid.

Not many of the suggestions follow my guidelines (which were amended, a few comments in: Well, I guess I should be more specific: I want the female characters to matter/be primary.)

Here's the list that seem to apply, based on my criteria, so far:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (I can't remember the newer one, but I think it works)
Wizard of Oz
Terminator 2*
Phantom Menace (although it's awkward, since you know two of the characters will end up together in the future...)
Whale Rider* (child, not adult, female character)
Little Miss Sunshine (main female character is a child, but there is the adult mother as well)
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?*
Winter's Bone*
True Grit*

We also had Coraline and Spirited Away, but I think animated films might need a separate list.

(Any movie marked with a * means I haven't seen it myself, but am relying on other peoples' suggestions and my Wikipedia search skills).

Pan's Labyrinth may apply, but I feel like I want to watch it myself before making the distinction.

So now I'm asking you -- what movies can you think of that have important/main/primary female characters that do not include romance or love? For that matter, what movies can you think of with no romance or love period (even those that don't include women)? Share in the comments!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More Exciting Life

This post was written longhand -- I was not at camp, but my computer hadn't been turned on since camp, so I'm typing it up now. It's from July 22nd.

Some days are calm and quiet and nice, and nothing of much consequence happens.

Today was not such a day. Today I signed a lease and picked up the keys to my new apartment.

Big. Exciting. Scary. Awesome.

Stars, Smoke, and Signing

This post was written while at camp, on July 16th.

It doesn't matter if you're hearing or Deaf -- if you have jokes and stars, a night of camping never ends.

This blog post is brought to you by a hot fire and ASL.

(Addition, now that I'm home, with internet, and not writing this by the light of the campfire: the night this was written I was sleeping outside, with a sleeping bag and the stars. I had been put in change of the campfire and the camp out for all the kids ages 10-14. It was stressful, like everything that happened at camp, but sleeping outside was absolutely wonderful.

The staff members that were there stayed up half the night (three of the counselors actually stayed up all night) chatting and laughing, telling jokes and teasing each other. It was a lot of fun. It was also cool to be able to make as much as noise as we wanted without worrying about keeping anyone up -- all of our charges were Deaf and sound asleep. Overall, probably the best night of camp).

When was the last time you slept outside? Did you love it or hate it? Share in the comments!

What Do Kids Really Need to Learn?

This post was written while at camp, on July 15th.

I've been thinking today about what kids really "need" to learn. Some people say algebra. Some say reading. John Holt has a great quote (that I can't find, because I have no internet) about how the only two things you need to learn is how to say I'm sorry and I love you. [EDIT: I finally managed to locate the quote, thanks to my mom randomly stumbling upon a note card that had it written on it. "Once when John Holy was speaking to a school audience, describing his views on their structured curriculum, a student asked him, 'But surely there must be something important enough that everyone should learn it?' He thought for a moment and replied, 'To learn to say I'm sorry, I don't know, and I was wrong.'" --Jan Hunt (Natural Child Project)]

I think that's a pretty good rule of thumb. But I do have a couple other things I will try to help my one day children learn:

1. To ask for help.
2. To admit to not knowing something. [EDIT: Apparently John's already got that one covered.]
3. To smile in the face of stress and anger.
4. To be able to look around and assess what needs doing -- and then do it.
5. To count to ten and breathe when stressed instead of blowing up.

Now, I am by no means an expert at any of these. I have bad moments, bad days -- bad weeks. But I try and do all of those things as much as possible, and it certainly has helped me through some stressful situations (such as the one I'm in right now).

Which reminds me:
6. To realize that all things, good and bad, will pass.

What do you think all kids should know? Comment below!

New Scary Experiences

This post was written while at camp, on July 14th.

Today I did something new and scary. As I stated in my last post, I'm working at the sports and rec director at a camp for Deaf children this week. I was hired last minute (I had planned on volunteering). Today I had to get up in front of 112 Deaf kids (and two hearing ones) plus all their counselors,  most of whom are Deaf, and give the instructions to our game for the evening (that I had to pick out and plan myself).

I think it went well, overall. Unfortunately, my watch is broken, so I had to bug everyone else for timing. But the kids were laughing and smiling, which is a good sign (no pun intended).

My signing skills, both expressive and receptive, are already improving. My self confidence is going up too -- a  lot of people asking me if I'm Deaf or being surprised I've only been signing for four years has helped lessen the nerves (though not completely).

Tomorrow I'm helping with swim tests, which ALSO makes me nervous. Here's to hoping all the kids pass.

Now if I could just get used to the loudness of the lower bunk, I would be all set.

Have you done anything scary in the last few weeks? Share in the comments!

Lions Wilderness Camp for Deaf Children

This post was written while at camp, on July 13th.

I'm writing this post long hand. I'm currently in a (stifling hot) cabin with five or six other staff members at a camp for Dead kids. I applied to be a volunteer here a few months ago, but last week I got hired as the sports director.

I will admit, I was nervous. I'm still nervous. I didn't even want to come the last few days, due to my nervousness. But overall, I'm sure I'll be happy I came. I'm sure it will end up being a good experience.

And if not, at least I'll learn something. And isn't that really the point of life?

Have any great camp experiences? Got any awful ones? Share them in the comments!

Friday, July 12, 2013


Tomorrow (well, in about five hours, actually) I head off to a week long camp. It's a camp for Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing kids, and CODAs, and I've been hired as the sports director. I'm anxious (I didn't apply for the job and got it thrown on me at the last minute) but excited too. It should be a great experience, and the benefit of all the extra stress and responsibility of the job I got is that instead of just volunteering, I now get paid as well.

I'll be missing out on some stuff here -- a few demo performances, including one at the fair which is always fun. I'm a little bummed to be missing out on the fun. Plus, this is the last week before three of the students at my studio test for their black belts, which means I won't get to help out in the last few days before they test.

This is a month full of trade offs. I didn't bother to get Comic-Con, and as it turns out that's a very good thing, because I'll be at this camp. I have to skip a DZ thing while I'm gone this weekend as well, and on the 27th I'm missing both a DZ workshop and the studio beach party -- I had to give those up in order to run a 5k in the morning (the second in a series that I'm doing) and attend a friend's wedding in the afternoon. Good trade offs, and I'm happy with my choices, but it's frustrating to think that the next day I'll have literally nothing at all to do.

Should be heading off to bed, but I'm watching Doctor Who and eating chips instead. But hey, I can sleep in the car, right?

Friday, July 5, 2013

All the Items in My Purse

My goal for this month is to write every day, either a blog post or fifteen minutes of fiction. I opened up my blog today and didn't have any bright ideas, so I did what I always do when I'm stuck and googled the answer to my problem.

I found lots of blog post ideas, and I'm going with this one for today: a list of all the items in my purse.

At the moment, I'm carrying around a large zippered Delta Zeta tote bag. It's rather large, for a purse, so a lot of stuff fits inside of it. Bear with me.

1. Two Burt's Bees chapsticks (both almost gone, need to get a new one). The pomegranate kind.
2. One of my sets of CSUN Be Greek red and black plastic sunglasses.
3. My planner, which has a pencil attached, plus a piece of paper tucked into it on which I am keeping track of my knitting. Speaking of knitting...
4. My neverending Tom Baker Doctor Who scarf (which is attached to a green ball of yarn).
5. Three mores balls of yarn (purple, yellow, and blue).
6. My wallet (which itself is stuffed to the brim with various items).
7. Two packages of tissues.
8. A small plastic hairbrush.
9. A ten dollar bill, which is now getting put into my wallet.
10. Earbuds.
11. My iPod touch.
12. Feminine hygiene products.
13.  My house and studio keys.
14. My Delta Zeta badge.
15. Another pencil.
16. A schedule of classes/list of prices from my martial arts studio.
17. A CHN Expo schedule.

Plus, the items that have been in my purse within the last 12 hours, but got taken out for bed last night:
1. My glasses and case.
2. My phone.
3. One of the books I'm rereading at the moment (Cold Fire, by Tamora Pierce).

So there you have it. Possibly the most boring blog post of all time. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into my life -- and I also hope you aren't judging me too hard for the amount of stuff I keep shoved into my purse.