Weird accounting

Something I now feel comfortable venting about, now that my PhD is over a year behind me, is their timekeeping practices.

At some point in the middle of my PhD, they started requiring that we record hours.  I (and other students) were pissed off about this, because we weren’t being paid by the hour, we were on fixed salaries.  Being salaried has the disadvantage that your employer pressures you to work long hours, because they know they don’t have to pay you overtime.  Being paid by the hour is better, but has the disadvantage that you have to record hours.  By making us record hours, while keeping us on fixed salaries, we were getting the worst of both worlds.

Once we actually started recording hours, it was even more ridiculous than we initially thought.  It was not possible to record accurate hours–the maximum number of hours I could record was about 20 hours per week.  This was supposedly because I had a “50% appointment”, meaning that half of my time was devoted to my position as a research assistant, and the other half devoted to being a student.  Which was not accurate by the way.  I wasn’t taking any more classes at this point.

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On Schizoid Personality

Earlier, I wrote an article on low emotionality, and I heard from a handful of readers with similar experiences.  However, one reader response caused me some chagrin.  They pointed out the similarity to Schizoid Personality Disorder, and I immediately regretted not mentioning it, since it’s the one that actually fits me best. It’s a bit embarrassing to figure out this stuff in real time while I’m blogging about it. But I want to do right by the readers who related to my article, so here we are.

So, Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD). Perhaps the best way to briefly describe it is to cite the DSM-V diagnostic criteria:

  1. Neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family.
  2. Almost always chooses solitary activities.
  3. Has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person.
  4. Takes pleasure in few, if any, activities.
  5. Lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives.
  6. Appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others.
  7. Shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity.

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Living gay (and ace)

This is a repost of an article I published in 2015 on The Asexual Agenda.  It was originally written for a blogging carnival on the theme of “living asexuality”, thus the title.

Recently, there was a very short documentary entitled “I’m Graysexual” (no longer available), featuring a man about my age, and using the same identity as I do: gay and greysexual.  He does nothing more than briefly explain his personal experience, which is somewhat different from my own, and as I said, it’s very short.

What was particularly significant to me was not what was said, but what was unsaid.  Specifically, the documentarian chose a stream of clips that imply close interaction with urban gay culture.  He walks around what appears to be West Hollywood (the gay neighborhood in Los Angeles).  He hangs out at gay nightclubs, watching go-go boys.  He looks quizzically at packaged dildos, racks of porn videos, Grindr.  This is all incredibly familiar to me.

I often feel like I’m the only ace who interacts with that kind of gay male culture.  This is not surprising: this is only one of many gay cultures, the ace community is dominated by women, and not all ace men are homoromantic, gay, or bi.  But even among those in the right demographics, I often hear that ace men simply aren’t willing to put up with it.

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Low emotionality

In a recent post, I said I’m a very unenthusiastic person. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m never enthusiastic. But my husband says it took a while for him to internalize that e.g. when I say “yes” to a choice of restaurant, I really mean it, even if I don’t express enthusiasm. And that’s not a matter of communication style; if I appear unenthusiastic, I feel like I’ve communicated my internal state accurately.

Enthusiasm isn’t unique.  I feel like most of my emotions are muted relative to the norm.  Another really noticeable one is anger. My “anger”, such as it is, rarely rises above what I would call irritation. It’s not very visible. And I find it very difficult to maintain a grudge, even when I know intellectually that I should.

In short, I’ve always felt like I must be experiencing emotions differently from most people–not necessarily in a neurodivergent way, but just somewhat outside the norm.  I don’t know of any preexisting term for this, so I’m dubbing it “low emotionality”.  Wikipedia describes “emotionality” as emotional reactivity to a stimulus, so I think the term fits.  I never see anyone talk about low emotionality, so I’m being the change I want to see.
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My free time

One of the dreaded questions that people ask me, is what I do with my free time, now that I’m unemployed. I have a strong sense that people are judging me, and that the only acceptable answers are the ones that are somehow productive or personally fulfilling.

The “productive” answers are that I am applying to jobs. I am “building my resume”. I lead the Ace Community Survey Team.

The “personally fulfilling” answers are that I maintain two and a half blogs. I am an origamist.

The more embarrassing answer is, I browse the internet. I watch youtube videos.
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History education

I Have Forgiven Jesus has a post discussing the legacy of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. I’ve only ever read part of the book, and I remember none of it, but it turns out I have feelings about it.

The thing is, I read APHUS as part of a high school class, where it was the only book. So it’s strange to read the responses to Chait’s tweet, where everybody is saying that they don’t believe Chait, and that this is a meme made up by right-wingers. And it may well be a meme made up by right-wingers; I have no reason to believe there is any widespread use of APHUS as a main textbook. In any case, my personal experience doesn’t support the conspiracy theory about liberals spreading propaganda by teaching Zinn.

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In which I destroy marriage

Attentive readers may have noticed a while ago when I started referring to my robot boyfriend as my robot fiancé. As I’ve told various people, we’ve been cohabiting for years, so we’re functionally already married. But after graduating, getting legally married has become a good financial decision, for two reasons.

First, it lowers our taxes. The general principle is that marriage most benefits couples where one partner has much higher income than the other.1 Since I’ve been unemployed for at least the first half of 2018, marriage very likely benefits us this year.

Second, it lets me buy health insurance through my partner’s employer. This is fairly significant, because I regularly take medication for asthma, and this stuff is surprisingly expensive without insurance coverage. Obamacare guarantees that I at least have the option to buy healthcare, but as I found out when I looked at insurance plans last December, the options aren’t nearly as good as what you can get through employers or universities.

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