Memories of BiCon 2010

London Docklands from the University of East London

BiCon 2010, the 28th annual bisexual conference/convention took place from August 26th – 30th at the University of East London, Docklands campus. It was combined with the 10th International Conference on Bisexuality, and the first international Bisexual Research Conference. About 450 people attended, from 28 countries!

I got up ridiculously early on Thursday 26th August in order to take the coach from Winchester to London leaving at 06:30. The journey was smooth and I was at UEL by 10am, in time to check in and drop off my suitcase in my accommodation.

The research conference was utterly brilliant, full credit to Meg Barker and Christina Richards for running it. Most of the talks were of exceptional quality, and i feel i learnt a lot. I enjoyed hearing about Helen Bowes-Catton’s research into how people perceive and visualise bisexual spaces. Kaye McLelland spoke about bisexuality in the works of Shakespeare, and i marvelled at how well my English teachers at school managed to hide it all from us!

Robyn Ochs at BiCon 2010

I was thoroughly inspired by a keynote talk from Robyn Ochs, a public speaker, writer, and long-standing bisexual activist. Robyn spoke of the importance of the impact that we make when we create space for people to be comfortably bisexual. I was touched by Robyn’s description of the reward when somebody tells us that we make a difference for them. I felt so proud at that moment that I helped to found Bi Wessex in Winchester: proud that people come along and gain something from the group, and that some of the members were there at BiCon.


Miguel Obradors Campos speaks at BiCon 2010

On Friday i bought Robyn’s book, Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World and attended the workshop where we heard from ten of the people who contributed to the book. They stood up and told us something about themselves and read an excerpt from the book. It gave such meaning to hear them speak personally, and when i reach their stories in the book, i will remember them. Their contributions will be particularly meaningful for me. I asked several of the contributors to write in my book, which they gladly did.


Sexual orientation self-definitions

I enjoyed hearing Heidi Bruins Green and Dr. Nicholas Payne speak about the results of a workplace survey on bisexuality. It was very interesting to hear the results analysed and validated from a mathematical perspective. Their results showed that bisexuality is not a phase on the way to something else, but a valid destination point, as are many other sexual orientations. They had some interesting data to show that happiness at work is directly correlated with LGBT support groups in the workplace, and anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Saturday’s discussion about words and phrases for bisexuality in other languages was intriguing. I shared my Esperanto knowledge about the etymology of the word ambaŭseksema and the positive phrase borrowed from shipping terminology navigi per vaporo aŭ velo (to navigate by steam or sail). We learned phrases, both positive and negative in German, Dutch, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Sri Lankan, Welsh and Hebrew. Everybody contributed something, and the results will be published … somewhere.

Knitting a bi pride bracelet

I knitted a bi pride bracelet in the amazing craft room, and then on saturday afternoon i took some time out to visit Central London. I went to Covent Garden to visit the new Apple store (the biggest in the world) and enjoyed spending time by myself.

Saturday evening was the BiCon ceilidh which i enjoyed immensely. When it comes to dancing, i really like being told what to do! :) I made a new friend that night, somebody who i feel could become a very good friend. We danced together a lot and had some lovely conversations. Later on the music became too loud but i joined the Corridor Club upstairs where it was quieter and i enjoyed chatting to more people. We were actually the last to leave because we didn’t realise when the music had stopped and everyone downstairs had left!

Sunday was the disastrous “Bisexuality in Science-Fiction & The Future” workshop. It was marred by the speaker being late, a church group being in the room we were supposed to use, the laptop being broken, the projector refusing to work, and the speaker’s corny sense of humour which did not go down particularly well at 10am. I gave up and left after about ten minutes of technology fail, and went and joined the church, which i actually really enjoyed! Those who stayed said it only got worse, and by half way through several of them had started their own alternative science-fiction workshop out in the atrium!

The highlight of Sunday was “Smutty Storytelling” which was very well attended, and the storytellers did not disappoint! The stories were well written, and delivered with humour and enthusiasm! There were cheers and a standing ovation by the end! I sat with my new-found friend and mentioned that I had “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” on DVD, which we watched later that evening.

Monday morning seemed to go quite slowly. Things were winding down but there were still a few workshops left. I went to one on sensual play, which was well facilitated, and led to discussions of how we might turn the results into an amusing website! Later i went to have my photo taken professionally, so that hopefully i will appear again on the front cover of Bi Community News and maybe in other publications about bisexuality.

Latimer "the buck" and a lion from BiCon 2008 share a hug

Before i knew it, it was closing plenary. Awards and thanks were given, we celebrated the success of this BiCon, and met the team of BiCon 2011 which will be in Leicester from September 1st – 4th. Registration is already open!

The bi community is amazing. So totally inclusive and unquestioning. I am so happy that i went, I am sad that it’s over, but writing this is my therapy: recording my happy memories and celebrating the joys of the last few days.

Thanks so very much to the BiCon 2010 organising team – you did an incredible job!

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LOLKATOJ ESPERANTAJ

For Kapitano:

LOLKATOJ

Kapitano, vi estas prava: ni ne povas havi lolkatojn esperante. Tio ne funkciias ĉar esperanto estas tro simpla por malparoli! Do la lolkato perdas lian humoron.

LOLCATS will never work in Esperanto. Firstly the spelling is entirely phonetic, so you can’t mis-spell things or use homophones. There are no double letters so no chance of a spelling mistake by dropping a letter. Also, you can’t use humorously wrong verb forms because all verbs are perfectly regular. If you tried to get it wrong you’d be saying a different word. There is no humour in it.

Better just enjoy the original then! :)

Why i love Esperanto

Resumo: Mi diskutas mian lernadon de Esperanto, kial Esperanto tre plaĉas al mi, kaj kion mi dezirus ŝanĝigi.

I am so happy to be learning Esperanto again. I have come a lot further than i ever did before – the difference this time is i have lots of people i can talk to in Esperanto. In Second Life, particularly, although i am suddenly finding people all over the Internet – Facebook, Youtube, and even commenters on this blog who speak Esperanto! I go to Esperanto lessons in Second Life, i receive homework by email, and i’m doing a bit of Esperanto practice a couple of times a day from Teach yourself Esperanto.

I have studied many languages over the years, but i am still learning things about grammar through Esperanto. It’s quite amazing how it highlights ambiguities in English which are distinct in Esperanto.

For example: I met an old friend could mean:
Mi renkontis maljunan amikon – the friend is old in years
Mi renkontis malnovan amikon – it is a friend i have known for a long time.

How about: The mouse ran under the bed:
La muso kuris sub la liton – the mouse was not under the bed but ran to be under it
La muso kuris sub la lito – the mouse was already under the bed, and ran around underneath it.

A cup of tea:
Taso de teo – as opposed to a cup of coffee
Taso da teo – as opposed to a pot of tea.

John was unhappy because George drank his beer:
Johano ne estis kontenta ĉar Georgo trinkis sian bieron – the beer was John’s
Johano ne estis kontenta ĉar Georgo trinkis lian bieron – the beer was George’s.

For the first time in my life i understand the difference between to lie (kuŝi) and to lay (kuŝigi) – the latter is a causative verb:
La knabo kuŝas sur la lito – the boy is lying on the bed
La knabo kuŝigas sin sur la lito – the boy lays himself down on the bed (causes himself to be lying)

Lay is to lie as teach is to learn. Or as remind is to remember. How fascinating is that?! :)

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Esperanto

Esperanto and Second Life – a match made in heaven! In Second Life you have a lovely mixture of people from all around the world who want to speak Esperanto and are happy to teach other people. Plus you have this real-time conversation style which, combined with the easy grammatical rules of Esperanto, helps newbies to pick up a bit of the language very quickly.

I have discovered how to modify my Dvorak keyboard layout to include the extended Esperanto keys. On Linux, all you have to do is find your current keyboard layout (for me it is in /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/gb) and add or replace the following lines:

key <AD07> { [ g, G, gcircumflex, Gcircumflex ] };
key <AD08> { [ c, C, ccircumflex, Ccircumflex ] };
key <AC04> { [ u, U, ubreve, Ubreve ] };
key <AC07> { [ h, H, hcircumflex, Hcircumflex ] };
key <AC10> { [ s, S, scircumflex, Scircumflex ] };
key <AB03> { [ j, J, jcircumflex, Jcircumflex ] };

For me, i simply had to add the lines because the gb(dvorak) layout extends the us(dvorak) layout. This allows you to hold down AltGr with the letter to type the modified version. Shift-AltGr also works.

Nun mi povas tajpi ĝusta en Esperanto! :)

Shavua Tov! – Happy new week!

I had a lovely Shabbat experience with my partner. It was a couples retreat workshop in a hotel, with meals included, activities, opportunities to think about what is important to us as a couple. We met some lovely people there, and had a very good time. The meals were excellent, plus we pigged out on kosher Oreos (yum!) and we had a red wine that i actually like!! It is from Israel, really sweet! We were fortunate to be able to bring some home with us! :)

The whole thing was very spiritual, and symbolic. I enjoyed participating in the traditions, and i especially liked singing in Hebrew. There was a guitar player among us who made the songs very lively and everyone enjoyed singing. It’s great to sing psalms in Hebrew because you find out they actually rhyme!

I can say one thing really well now – almost every prayer begins with it!

Baruch Atah Adonai, Elohaynu Melech Ha’olam
Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe

I think we have made at least one new friend that we will keep in touch with … probably more via Facebook. We are also intending to observe Shabbat as a weekly ritual at home together. This means no Internet from Friday evening to Saturday evening – and on the plus side – no chores either!! I think it will be really good for us both, to take a break and spend some special time together once a week.

* * *

Yesterday, as we still had the car, we went for a nice drive out into Wiltshire, doing some family history research. In a church cemetery we met a friendly couple doing the exact same thing, and they invited us into their holiday motor home for a cup of coffee and cake! :D On the way back we passed Stonehenge, and went through Wherwell, which is a beautiful village that i have loved since childhood.

We had an exciting journey back because we actually ran out of fuel! It’s amazing how far you can drive in Hampshire and not find a filling station!! By some miracle we managed to get home although the gauge was reading zero for at least 10 miles!

The return of the apostrophe

Thanks to Liz for an insightful comment, i am not about to start campaigning for all apostrophes to be abolished. I have found out that apostrophes are not in fact pointless; they do aid understanding. Okay, you may be able to understand something without apostrophes, but you might need to read it twice to get the context in order to understand it. That’s not helpful.

Since i have no particular need to avoid apostrophes, i am going to continue using them as they ought to be used. I still maintain that i’d rather see a piece of text with no apostrophes than see apostrophes where they shouldn’t be … but that’s a different story. I am unlikely to be able to teach the whole world the laws of English grammar and punctuation so maybe i shouldn’t try … instead i could try just letting it go.

Thank you to Lola and Liz for your valuable feedback.

Waking up slowly

Happy Caturday! :) I am eating hot porridge oats and a cup of coffee … what a nice way to wake up.

The last two weekends i have been stuck in front of my computer, programming. Whilst that is very satisfying for me, it has taken its toll since i tend to spend every day at work also in front of a computer! My shoulders feel tense and i feel tired and in need of a rest. So this weekend is going to be different. I am going to Southampton today, to see a friend and watch Harry Potter. We saw Prisoner of Azkaban recently, and well watch Goblet of Fire today. Unknown to my friend, i have also bought Order of the Phoenix DVD, so we may well end up watching that too! :)

Tomorrow i am going to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. We went nearly a year ago with my partners parents, but we didnt see much. The tickets last a year, so we are going to take my grandparents tomorrow … well … to be more accurate, they are taking us, since they have the car! Well see the Mary Rose and the HMS Warrior, plus the museums. Should be fun! :)

I am currently trying to make up my mind about a certain punctuation character – the apostrophe. Here are two websites:
The Apostrophe Protection Society
Kill The Apostrophe

I have to say, having read them both, im more inclined to go with the latter. Its not that im against proper punctuation; i have long been a fan of the semi-colon, as many people know! ;) But the semi-colon is useful; the apostrophe is not. You can read almost anything without apostrophes and the meaning is not lost at all. To me, leaving out the apostrophe is far better than using it where it shouldnt be (as in greengrocers apostrophes)!

I think a blog is a very good place to experiment with grammar and punctuation. So im going to be leaving out apostrophes for a while and see if it annoys anyone!


killtheapostrophe.com

Lets discard the apostrophe. Its pointless.

Oh yes, and as i said, its Caturday! Well hey, this is the last apostrophe youll get from me for a while:

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Enjoying the holiday

We had such a lovely meal last night. Today we went into town, caught a bus, had a nice walk, bought some rolls to eat on a hill with an amazing view.

I have discovered i can rceive text messages for free but a text to Twitter cost me 35p so i’ll not do that again!

I have been learning the language. Yesterday i only knew one word and it felt so embarassing. But today i have been communicating a bit and it feels good!

Feeling sleepy …

I have had a very hectic day week year. We had to do a demo today on the new version of our software, which really isn’t very reliable yet, and i felt awful, letting our product manager go into the demo not really knowing whether the demo would work or not. It relies on network connectivity and all sorts of things can go wrong, so it really was dodgy. Apparently it went quite well, though.

I really need to go to bed at a good time tonight because i have had too many late nights recently. Part of that is due to the whole Six Apart fiasco, but mostly it is due to me having poor self-control!

LJ support have been quite nice to me, replying to my abuse report. They pointed me to a suggestion that OpenID comments be treated differently to anonymous comments, something that i would appreciate greatly. I’m glad that it hasn’t been forgotten.

I’ve been having an idea of a way of forming communities in a similar way to an RSS aggregator. Something about posts i make being automatically cross-posted to a community on another site, either individually or chosen by tag (ie every post i make with a particular tag could be sucked up into the community). That community would of course have its own RSS output which people could follow. I’d love to code something along those lines, but i would be better off leaving it to the experts in the RSS aggregator domain. I have been wondering whether it might already be possible with Bloglines, but i don’t think it is quite.

Two more things … i might fancy learning Interlingua … wonder where i can attend classes? … and Nye has made a lovely MyChores post – it’s things like that which make me very happy i made MyChores!