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Seattle Day 2: GeekGirlCon 5!

Well, so was the end of day 1, because we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for their pre-party, to pick up badges and see what was going on. It was gaming in a bar! We played a drunk-ish game of Suspend, this Melissa & Doug game where you have to balance sticks on each other, it's fun, I took down the name. It might be more fun and less messy played sober but we were not able to test that after a bottle of wine in the room, cocktails, beer at the bar!

Saturday morning we were at the conference in time for the first sessions! I did some shopping and wandering around, there were gobs of fantastic artists. I brought some zipper pouches that I didn't feel like photographing for Etsy. There was a little girl wearing a brown trenchcoat carrying a sonic screwdriver, so of course I gave her a police box pencil case, her mom was there and said it'd be very well loved.

I haven't been to many comic cons, I'm not a gamer, so I was curious how this would all work out. It was different. I'm used to conferences where there are speakers with powerpoints, this was all panels with 3-5 people and various levels of moderator or audience questions. Several panels I saw, the people didn't prepare a whole lot, it felt like they just got together with their friends and sat up and took questions and there was a general theme. Some good things came out but it takes a while to get to a point or a big takeaway because the opening questions are so very preliminary. At one point I thought about recommending that the outlaw all "what got you into ___" questions from moderators. Some panels better, I noticed that preparation helps. I think as the conference gets better they'll be able to add some depth to the panels. That was my only thing I might have changed... the panel submission process wasn't terribly clear, the timelines to submit your topic, and then the site doesn't do much to say "hey we've got this panel of biologists (or whatever) if any other attendee wants to be on it send us your creds and we'll pass it on to the moderator." There were audience members who made statements in Q&A that made me think "whoh, she should have been on this panel!" I had this feeling like the people on panels were just in with the organizers, and someone from a really different background and a million twitter followers could just be fading in the background. And then you'd see these repeat names - the same person on three different panels - and wonder how hard they really looked to fill these. I think if they want diverse panels, and they've said as much, they'll start formalizing this aspect a bit. It's the fifth year of the conference and it feels like something that's grown fast, and maybe some aspects just need to catch up with the growth.

Just to back up my point some more - some of the seattle natives seemed shocked that I was there from Wichita. And one panelist in a full room asked, "How many people are not from Seattle?" and I promise 80% of the hands shot up and she was so amazed she had to rephrase the question - "How many of you are not even from Washington or Oregon?" as if we all just lived in Seattle metro, ha ha. Again, same tons of hands shot up. It's like the people who've gone to this conference since the beginning are just now realizing that this is big!

That said, there were some wonderful panels. There was one on geek parenting that was just magical and worth the trip all by itself. They talked about screentime with kids and how limiting screentime can just lead to pent up demand so what's the big deal with the limits, let's relax, just let your kids play with the damn ipads and stop stressing. Until that last hour before bedtime when we all need to turn off, kids and adults. They brought up one of my favorite takeaways about how geek culture is about embracing what you love and not caring who else loves it. Which leads to: other people get to embrace what they love even if you don't care about it. Which leads to: hey, we all love different things and it's OKAY! A great lesson for kids to learn - if we were all geeks we might be much nicer to each other.

And in a final kinda tearjerky moment, I noticed that the Q&A line was way too long and gave my spot to this kid in a pokemon costume, explaining to the confused little pokemon that I could tell she wanted to say something and it'd be really cool if some kids got to talk. We lowered the mic, she started with some kinda confusing bits about after school programs but what finally came out was a question about what to do if "kids say something is wrong with you because you have short hair and you don't like pink and you tell a counselor but nothing happens". WHOH. The panelist awesomely responded with some tips and finally ended with, "Remember - school is not the end all be all. Someday you will find your people. We did. Someday you'll be a panelist here! Outcasts have a way of finding amazing success, *this* (gesturing around to the conference) proves it!"

I also loved the one about how improv lessons can help us communicate science. We need to be better communicators, basically. So these two great women from fire and water consulting lead us through some group exercises that people do when learning improve, and explained how it helps you connect with the people you're speaking and interacting with. You know, now that I mention it though, they were really not a panel, they had prepared like crazy, so maybe that one doesn't count because it appeals to my bias of watching thought-out presentations with 10 minutes of Q&A. It was very educational.

And then I got to be on a panel! Which was great, but another "who you know" thing - my friend Rowan was on the one about STEM careers and let me crash it because she knows I really like public speaking. It was fun but all Q&A driven and I think we would have said more great things if we'd gone in with some main points and big topics that we definitely wanted to hit. A lot of the questions were overlapping or very specific - "I have degree X and 3.2 years of industry experience should I now go back for my masters" kinds of things. If I ever get to crash a panel again, I'll try to talk with the moderator or at least slip her some good questions first.

But memorable hashtag - #AllTheMath. As in, our advice to young girls who want to be in STEM but aren't sure which field, not all of them require statistics for example... doesn't matter! Take math every year! Take #AllTheMath!

Also #ConLife is what happens when your bag spills and you have to pick up this pile of art cards, clip-on ears, art supplies, science projects, buttons, a plush tribble, electronic devices, chargers for your electronic devices, sci-fi books... and finally your keys and wallet.

There was a fantastic costume contest with three categories - kids, groups, adults. The kids there were just fantastic, I will say that about the whole con, it was a village to raise your fantastic little geek children. There was a DIY science zone with great activities for various ages, panelists were asked to keep their language G-rated. Rowan and I talked a little about whether we'd bring kids in future years. They are not as jazzed about panels as us adults are, that's the only bummer. But they would love costumes, science, and the mega-floor of gaming tables. I loved walking around the game floor and watching parents try out new games with their kids and I wrote down more titles that I'll have to buy and review later, with the kids being there I could really see how well things worked for various ages.

All in all a fantastic conference and I'm thrilled that it EXISTS and is growing. I met people who have gone every year. If I lived in Seattle, that will be me! But given the travel costs, I'll come back in 2-3 years. I'm sure it'll be crazier and selling out faster and that's great - maybe I can just sponsor from afar or something. I just know it definitely has its own vibe, it was educational and fun for me and I met some amazing ladies, so I hope it goes on forever.

I'm still in Seattle

I'd make a good west coast blogger. I like to get up early, but honestly if I update early and get all my thoughts online I worry that the world is not yet awake and ready and my stuff will get missed in the shuffle. If I lived on the west coast I and I was on twitter at 7am, it'd be 9 or 10am for a lot of people. They could catch up!

Or I could just stick to quieter online communities where stuff doesn't get missed and nobody cares about a "good time" to post.

And there's scheduling... but oh, the agony, when you wish people would reply to your tweet but it's not even up yet.

I get to fly home today. I thought that would happen last night - but I showed up at the airport in the evening and my flight to denver was delayed by a LOT, which meant I'd miss my flight from Denver to Wichita. A whole slew of people were in the same boat. Some flights were being held for them. Mine was not.

So United put me up in a hotel here in Seattle by the airport, since the next Wichita-Denver flight wasn't until 2pm or so the next day anyway, why even fly to Denver. I had a very short cry over not seeing my cute kids & husband when I thought I'd get to see them, then remembered there are bombings elsewhere in the world, so why not enjoy this butternut squash with my food vouchers and watch cable TV - oh, a free night in at a marriott, first world problems right? It was evening, there was nothing around me but more hotels, it was boring, but it wasn't bad.

I'm back at the airport this morning trying the whole show over again.

Wish me luck!


seattle day 1

I spent the weekend in Seattle. Never been before! It was great - a few of us from spacefem.com agreed to meet up for geekgirlcon.

Friday I got into town early though and wanted to experience the city a bit for myself, first, and I had a suburb day. I got in around 10am and took the lightrail from the airport to my downtown hotel. Then I walked down to the pike place market for lunch. Yelp did not work well for picking a lunch place, since the market it dense with a zillion tiny places and yelp's location kinda just points you towards a block, so I got some clam chowder at a little cafe and it was alright but not amazing, I just went someplace without a line, I needed to feed myself. The market booths were full of artists, tourist shops, fish places.

People of Seattle were all decked out in their fall neutrals, boots jackets and scarves, and it kinda cracked me up. Years ago around this time of year I went to Long Beach California for a conference. It was the same weather - 50s/60s and drizzly. It was october, so I brought my hat and lightweight brown canvas jacket. But I stuck out there! Californians did not have fall wardrobes, they threw on blue plastic rain ponchos over their florescent Bermuda shorts, defiant against the rain, like "THIS WILL NOT LAST, WE WILL RESIST!"

Seattle is just the opposite. I saw people wearing puffy jackets - and I thought it was WAY too warm for that. I took my jacket off when I was really walking. I had on jeans and a loose sleeveless top and I was just fine. It's like people just assumed it was winter time.

I walked from the pike market to the space needle. It was a good distance over hills but not too bad. At the space needle, I opted to check out the Experience Music Project (EMP) museum because I LOVE 90s grunge music, it's what I immediately think of when I think of Seattle, and I read they had a great sci fi/geek collection too.

It was $25 but for me, totally worth it, because I spent most of the afternoon there and since I was by myself I could take all the time I wanted to sit and watch little videos and read displays and wander around. The sci-fi/horror film sections were amazing. They highlighted tons of films and the horror section had these neat little mini-movies where industry insiders would explain the project and how it changed the genre, psycho, wickerman, the exorcist, texas chainsaw massacre. The science fiction exhibit told the story about how sci-fi is really a thought experiment, take one aspect and really run with it, design a world around and idea, make yourself "pure" characters with one trait you really want to study.

The grunge/punk music movement is all explored in their Nirvana exhibit. Now, I love Nirvana, grew up with Nirvana, had all their albums and wore black every year on the anniversary of the day Kurt Cobain shot himself when I was a teenager. But I thought this exhibit focused too much on Nirvana. Why not just make a grunge/punk section and explore everybody's contributions, like they did with the science fiction rooms? There was a polite mention in one of the videos about the Olympia riot grrl movement, a poster of Nirvana playing with Bikini Kill. I think the riot grrl movement is facinating. There was a video about DIY culture and the grunge concept that anybody should make music regardless of training, skill level, costume budget... well then why not make the exhibit about everything?

And as I told fellow 'femmer and native Seattlite Bork - where was Pearl Jam? To the world, Pearl Jam was THE grunge band, more listenable than nirvana, deeper more understandable lyrics, socially conscious, I love Pearl Jam. She said Seattle doesn't see them that way, they consider Pearl Jam a small player compared to Nirvana. I'm finding conflicting reports on who sold more and had more top 10 singles. I wonder if Nirvana is more likely to be remembered and considered *because* of their tragic ending?

I got out of EMP and there was this amazing playground with giant spider-web climbing structures up to high up bridges. It was nice to have a weekend without kids but you see stuff like that and know they'd love it and you wonder why you're having this adventure without them.

On the way back I swung back by the market, because I remembered this touristy looking cheese restaurant that people had been lined up for - Beecher's. They had a little cup of macaroni and cheese you could buy for $7 or something so I got one, as a snack, it was 3pm or so and I wasn't sure when my friends would all be together for dinner. Well it was incredible. I sat at the market overlooking the ocean and ate it and it was the best macaroni I've ever had in my life.

I walked back to the hotel. There was a Target store along the way so I stopped in because I'd forgotten my toothbrush, and what the heck grabbed a bottle of wine. I chilled out in the hotel for a minute and set the wine on ice and then Bork got off work and Rowan arrived just about at the same time, and we killed the wine bottle and talked, went out for sushi, went to the Hard Rock Cafe for the first GeekGirlCon event - and that was day 1.

time capsule - who I've texted

A podcast I was listening to interviewed the guy who started texts from your ex on instagram and I realized something - I missed all this!

Almost my entire dating life happened in the time before text messages.

Marc was the first guy I dated and would text - and it was not with the speed we text now, and there weren't screenshots. I had my motorola razr with T9 mode. It made for kinda slow texting but we did it. We mostly emailed, if we were typing to each other.

And we got married! so hey, maybe all I needed was texting to really solidify a relationship? heh.

I've never had a text from an ex.

breaking up with sippy cups

With kids you constantly have this battle of independence vs. convenience. Do you unload the dishwasher yourself in 5 minutes without breaking any dishes, or let your toddler "help"? Leave your kid in diapers so you can go to Target without fear of consequences, or watch them like a hawk stalking them with a tiny toilet in the house all day in an attempt to potty train? So many baby things were invented to make the parents life easier.

Sippy cups is one of those things. Our are getting increasingly lost or worn out. But we've got this habit with Olive, age 2 and some months... wake up in the morning, relax on the couch, throw her a sippy cup of milk she can leave around or drink out of and be peaceful.

She can drink out of normal cups now, but there's a risk to that. They spill. They can't be left on the couch.

I read all these posts against sippy cups...

1) They teach kids to just have a drink around with calories that you mindlessly nurse all day. Some ADULTS have this habit... just gotta have a drink in hand! It's not really healthy. Hydration is important, sure, but it shouldn't be thoughtless. And let's face it, for both kids and adults, most of the time we have something in a cup it is not pure water.

2) Injuries due to sippy cups are notable. They turn into projectiles in car accidents. Early walkers stumble while holding on to them.

3) Bad for teeth/mouths/speech development etc to be sucking on something all day instead of just taking a good size drink from a normal cup and calling it good.

So that's where we're at. I'm constantly tempted to have sippy cups for olive because they're so darn easy... so now that ours are worn out, I want to buy some new ones. But NO, be strong, I'm saying, we can gain independence!



I wonder if things have changed now that nerds are kinda cool. Or are they? I don't know. It's 2015 now. There's a thing called "geek chic". There are shows like The IT Crowd and Big Bang Theory. Some of the richest men in the world are from the computing industry... Bill Gates, the Apple guys who are still alive. Maybe guys who spend way too much time are their arduino projects are just chick magnets now like nobody'd believe, they're all suave and experienced and unreachable. If that's true, then let this be a time capsule entry... if it's not true, then let it apply to EVERYBODY now.

When I was in high school I was just starting to learn BASIC, javascript, and HTML. I was barely online. But I knew guys who were. They learned BASIC in the second grade, they bragged. They totally intimidated me out of getting a CS degree... but I only drifted into engineering, so not a total loss to STEM.

I wanted to be them. But more than that... I wanted them.

So someone asked me recently (and by recently I mean "in yesterday's lj entry") if I'd ever pined away unrequited for someone who did not love me back. Yes I have! But the thing with me, was it was always for computer nerds, and it made my feelings even more confusing because when a computer nerd doesn't ask you out you can't just wonder if he's "not that into you".

you also wonder if he's so obsessed with technology he's not into GIRLS period.

And you wonder if he's SECRETLY into you but since he's never had a girlfriend, he doesn't know how to flirt back.

I had several crushes in high school that went on way too long. Looking back, maybe they weren't into me. Okay probably they weren't into me. I was too tall and awkward and not terribly attractive. But it took me extra long to figure out. One guy I was obsessed with for like two years... finally we got to cuddle at a camping trip. It went nowhere from there.

There was this movie Angus about this nerdy guy who was in love with the most popular pretty girl in school and the point of the movie was that she just didn't see his inner coolness, so sad. Everyone liked it. It was "so deep". The soundtrack was great. I hated that movie. I was like you know what Angus, there's probably some nerdy girl who likes you... why is it that since you're a guy, you're entitled to the prom queen if you've got some ounce of inner beauty? where are the normal girls in these stories? Why is it okay for you to only pay attention to a girl who's stereotypically beautiful, then turn around and tell girls in general they're all shallow for looking past you?

I wasn't sure if this movie was totally sexist (looking back - yes it was) or a sign to me that I just needed to work REALLY HARD to let these guys know I was interested, because they are busy looking for the short busty cheerleaders, I don't even exist in their worlds, but if I did they'd be happy! right?!

In college I finally had boyfriends. My first few boyfriends were not total nerds... they'd had girlfriends. It was the start of understanding what a relationship feels like when the other person cares. Then I started back to flirting with computer nerds, this time getting some of them to actually be interested in me. Maybe it worked because we were older.

Shoot I have to conclude this sad rambling.

To the nerdgirls: You're wonderful and the right guys will see it. Don't let these nerds confuse you. Don't obsess on them. Be around them, be there for them, don't expect much.

To the nerdboys: Be honest as early and as often as possible. If a girl in your class asks you over for C++ tutoring way too often and wears perfume when you meet up in the lab but she's not your type or you'd rather play minecraft or whatever, it's okay! Talk about another girl you like so she gets SOME hint at least of where she stands.

To everyone: high school just sucks, so much, doesn't it. I just remembered that. I am so happy to be 35.
Knowing that my livejournal entries to go twitter, I try to think up the most anti-clickbait titles for them ever because I hate clickbait with such a passion. So that explains the title of this one. not "my least favorite broadway song" or even "my least favorite Les Mis song"... nope, the whole entry in one line. And if you read the rest of the entry it's because you like me or my writing or just want to know more, not because you were manipulated into it. The whole internet should be like that. I live to be an example.

When I was in high school I sang in choirs. I especially loved Broadway songs, always have, always will. I was listening to the Sirius XM Broadway channel this weekend and "On My Own" from Les Misérables came on and it brought back a memory of being asked to sing this song as part of a medley type thing we were doing. I hadn't seen Les Mis at the time.

I immediately picked up on the fact that this song was a girl singing about a guy who, as we would say today, was "JUST NOT THAT INTO HER". I actually started laughing in rehearsal once and had to stop the music and ask, "Who sings this, seriously! Who is this woman who needs to get the hell over herself? There are other fish in the sea, kid! WOW!"

I was like 14 and hadn't even had a boyfriend when I was saying this... already starting into my feminist journey because I'd seen way too many girls at my school making WAAAY too big a deal over who had a boyfriend. I was like I don't know if I can sing this. The choir director assured me that in the musical, in context, this song was loaded with substance and so sad and all about unrequited love and if I'd see it I'd really feel for the character.


Years later I watched the musical. If you haven't seen it, Les Mis is about some huge, sad, dramatic topics... in fact I can't even watch it anymore because as a mother, I hurt so much for Fantine. A woman being told she has to give everything for her daughter, and she TRIES, because that's what we do! I feel the same way about Miss Saigon - it just hits too close to home. How can we even watch this for enjoyment?

Another broadway fan told me, "I'll watch those shows again when somebody writes a musical about a father dying for his kids."

amen, sistah.

So there's Fantine dying for her daughter, Jean Valjean trying so hard to escape his past, Cosette trapped in abuse, Javert basically wasting his life on bureaucracy, Marius launching a revolution, and then in the second act, here comes...

Eponine singing about her boy trouble!

Ever watch a movie where it's obvious that two central good-looking characters are falling in love? And then you realize everyone else is just sort of a prop written in just to die? I think that's Eponine. So why give her a song? And in the middle of the effing paris uprising of 1832! Good night lady... is there anything more important you could be focused on right now?

Call me unsympathetic, okay. And maybe if I read Victor Hugo's book I'd feel something, maybe one of you can fill me in. But if I was remaking this musical, there would be no Eponine. And definitely no Eponine singing about her love interests. Be strong and walk away, dear. Just walk away.


perler takeover

we were at the craft store last weekend, a place I try to avoid because there's always SOMETHING I can't resist, you know how it is, but marc had his big local burning man thing coming up and was making himself a light up tutu. anyway they had perler beads on sale and josie hadn't ever done them before but dang it, I loved these things as a kid. so that's what happened.

we got this kit:

it's fun, and josie's great at it. gets a little frustrated when she's tired, got really pissed off once when we bumped a board and beads went scattering everywhere. little sis tried to eat a few beads but just chewed them up and spit them out. gross.

the only problem with the kit is the colors.

I am pretty good at seeing colors, I think... my husband and father are colorblind so I can totally out-see those guys on the dot tests, I know something's right!

but these beads are a new story. I think all the hot pinks are hot pink. But Josie sees something totally different, apparently. She knows that between the little color bins, the hot pink shifted a bit. then there's the white and light yellow, ugh. and the bright teal and bright blue.

no we did were not able to leave the little bins all separated. there's a two year old involved, for heavens' sake.

but back to the colors... I can't win. They look okay to me unless I STARE at them. She sees the differences right away, so any time she can't find a color and I try to help, it means bad things.

oh well.


rest in peace, brainy the guinea pig

I'm sad to say the last member of the original crew has passed on. We found him yesterday morning. He will be dearly missed for his relaxed nature, fabulous white fur, and neat Himalayan coloring that made his nose darker or lighter depending on the season.

Brain was preceded in death by his cage mate pinky. It was kind of weird explaining to people why we had a guinea pig named Brain, so we always had to say we *used* to have a Pinky too.

His current cage mates Furdinand and Pugsly will miss him too I'm sure but they seem to be doing pretty well. I cut up a lettuce core for them. It was sad to only have to split it in two.

I got home from work and asked Josie what we did with Brain's body, she just told me "Daddy took him to his dead place in the forest." Alright then. She told me that Brain's death was very sad, but she did not seem terribly sad.

Here is Brain in 2010, a year after we adopted him from the Humane Society. KSHS said he was born in 2007 but with guinea pigs you never really know, their typical lifespan is 5-7 years so he'd be pretty darn old if he was really two in 2009. We're not sure what he died of, he didn't seem sick, we just found him in the pen in the morning like that. Oh well.

Thanks for being so lovely Brain, we'll miss you.

And here he is in his favorite halloween costume that always goes kind of pinterest-viral this time of year, I just don't have the heart to tell them he's gone so I won't. He'll just always been remembered as he was.

spacekid's christmas list

I got home from work last week, at the far off date of like September 15th or so, and the 5-year-old comes bounding down the stairs to say "I have my Christmas list ready!"

just in case we were worried she'd miss the deadline, you know. I thought about explaining to her that Christmas lists should really be saved for the 4th quarter, if there's too much padding in your dates your project won't be taken seriously by the individual contributors. but I shook off the workday and listened to her anyway.

here's what she's got and how she explained it all to me and it was kinda cute so I had to post about it:

from top right to bottom left:

Googley eyes
Two colors of glitter
Playdoh flower cake maker (not sure this is a thing but who knows she watches a lot of youtube and the ad satelites get into her head)
Easter egg dying kit
Snowcone maker
Glow sticks
Frosting bag to squeeze out frosting

Not pictured because she went to page 2:
Donut kit
Pink ballerina leotard
Flower seeds for butterfly flowers

I relayed this to a coworker with teenagers and he just shook his head and said "I wish my kid just asked for glitter", so I'll appreciate the age.
GAADS I'm so frustrated!

I'm on amazon looking for used books. Some of them say they are former library books with markings... I skip those, I want something nice I can display on my shelf. Some of them say they're in poor condition.

And then you get to the ones that are "like new" or "very good" and sure they're a little more, and sure maybe they have some highlighting on the inside, but that's it.

So you order the book.

You receive your book and see that it's a first edition hardcover, published 30 years ago with its jacket still perfectly intact, it made it through life unchanged since the early 80s, except...


and it doesn't come off without ripping the book jacket.

what level of hell do these assholes belong in, really? On what planet is it okay to vandalize an otherwise beautiful book? Do you really think my bookshelf needs to be full of advertisements for your stupid business, is that why I bought this book?

If you MUST... put your sticker on the back. Or the inside. Or your asshole. I don't care. But you're getting shitty feedback from me for not disclosing this.

Put down the condition as, "WAS like new, but we're idiots who want our company name stuck to everything so we ruined it". Then I'll know to skip your listing.



took my five year old flying

So I haven't posted much but I have been flying again. I know I know - my last post about it I was kinda "EFFFF THIS" because I was frustrated about losing currency, anxious and unsure how to fit this into my life. But after a few more comfort flights with instructors I finally put on my big girl pants and flew an airplane by myself. Then I did it again - boring stuff, fly to an airport, do some touch and goes, fly back.

A friend of mine from SWE just got her license, and we were talking about keeping each other motivated, so when we heard our local women pilots organization (the 99s) was hosting a fly-in out at the Hutchinson airport steakhouse we decided to give it a go. I took Josie with me too, since she was really excited about flying but unlike my husband, she doesn't weigh enough to mess up our fuel reserves and unlike my two-year-old, she's kind of manageable, predictable, and maybe making memories. So off she went.

I flew the first leg down and my friend was the copilot and, we joked, flight attendant, since I asked her to check on Josie in the back seat a few times. Josie was doing great, except at one time we looked back and she was freezing because these blowers were shooting cold outside air at her.

I realized I should have told her how to turn the blowers and shut them off. Before our flight, I made her sit in the front seat herself and open the doors just to show me she could do it. That's a safety thing in little airplanes - if something bad happens, you want every passenger to be able to escape. She had to get both hands under the door handle and push up with everything she had but she could do it!

It's funny because in cars, there are these child safety locks and window locks so kids can't open doors and it's always made me feel funny because what if we wreck and she's the only one in the car? Different philosophy.

Oh but back to the blowers. I felt bad and it made me wonder what I should be telling passengers about - I looked up some info on basic passenger briefings. And darn it if the FAA didn't already think of this and I probably learned it in ground school and was supposed to remember it.

There's even a mnemonic because they love mnemonics:

S - Seat Belts - how to use them and when they have to be fastened
A - Air vents - duh
F - Fire extinguisher - I don't think a five year old can handle that one
E - Exit doors and evacuation plan
T - Talking and Traffic - there are times when you must shut up and not bug your pilot, like when she's on approach. But it's nice if everybody is involved in helping look for traffic and spotting airplanes and pointing them out.
Y - Your questions

So okay, I'll know for next time.

The Hutch steakhouse had a lunch buffet and Josie decided she loved the rolls. She killed at least three of them and they were big. Then on the way home she passed the hell out and slept through every bit of the flight including my friend's landing, taxi back to the hangar and engine shutoff. We were yelling "JOSIE WAKE UP!" and she wasn't, then my friend said "uh she's still got her earmuffs on" and we realized she couldn't hear us, so we took them off.

They're just hearing protection, not headsets. Another gal had a kid with her and her son did have headsets but she said they weren't working out, on the way home he would have to unplug the mic input because five year olds don't listen well when you ask them to not talk.

oh well.

here's this bug:

here she is with her in-flight entertainment that she brought with her - a clipboard, paper and a lunchbox of markers:

and here is an aerial photo of Wichita, Kansas taken through the window:


unfriending, unfriending, unfriending

ran a history report on my lj friends and found 65 people (!) who were on my friends list, but they never friended me back, so I'm trying to clean those off.

I realize I'm not the best lj friend - sometimes I don't know what to say in comments, sometimes I don't comment, I am in a comment deficit that I'm trying to improve on but life gets ahead of me.

some of the people had tragic things happen to them, their last entry public is something like "I'm sorry I'm going through a lot right now and need my livejournal closed off to the closest people" and those are tough, I wish I knew more because some of those are people who I genuinely cared about. but I can take a hint and left them alone, and left them in my friends list for years just so they'd know I had no hard feelings and they could come back. but they didn't ever want me back. you can tell from the "last updated" on their profile that they've posted this year, but not for me... so it's like okay, seriously spacefem, drop the torch.

others are people I just friended during my enthusiastic friending phase earlier this year and I've learned not to do that, much better to meet people who are looking for friends, at their request, than to randomly say "hey we're both in the same community surely this person will be thrilled to see me!"

Livejournal emails you whenever you lose a friend, at least that's how mine is set up. I wonder what the world would be like if those emails also let the person add a sentence for why they unfriended you? honesty day! would that be better or worse?
inspired by the ladies who lunched at mccalister's when I was there friday.

here's the scenario: your friend has a baby. you want to get her out of the house so you invite her to lunch. that's nice of you, really it is... give her a chance to feel like she could be normal again. I encourage this.

her baby is too little for a high chair so she's holding her baby and eating a salad. this means she can't eat quite as fast as you.

you finish your lunch first.


not sit looking bored at your empty plate while she's one-hand eating a salad with her face three feet from the table because there's a baby between her and her lunch and she's trying not to drop lettuce on the baby.

and an epilogue... inspired by something that happened to me in 2010... please try to let her enjoy a nice lunch? she's been on maternity leave, you're one of the three adults she's gotten to talk with in the last two months, she got dressed and showered which is a big deal.

I had some ladies invite me out, since I'm that kind of mom I noticed when they were done eating and said "here hold this?" so I wouldn't do the one-hand baby thing, and then one of them seriously said to me, "She's grabbing my clothes, shovel it in, mom!" just to make it clear that my pesky decision to get pregnant, have the baby and then accept a lunch invitation should be appropriately punished. you're a mom now, you don't deserve a nice lunch, get it?

then don't invite me out to rub it in! I didn't tell you to come to my house and babysit, don't ask me to come entertain you and assure me that you'd LOVE to see cute baby and then shun us all the second you decide you're done.


Why I believe in public schools

When I was in college I dated a guy who'd gone to private Catholic schools his whole life. When we visited his hometown, I was amazed at how many rich friends he had. His house was nice, sure, but when we visited other friends of his I just saw so much more money. Kids whose parents set up a whole suite just for them in the basement. Kids with brand new cars. This was 1999, DVD players were $800, they had them.

My boyfriend worked at Best Buy. One day we were talking about how some kids grow up knowing nothing about computers, and how sad it was that they'd be behind in knowing about technology. He scoffed and said, "That's just stupid parents, not providing for their kids. We have computers for as low as $300 now. Who DOESN'T have $300?"

After a short pause I said, "Uh... dude? I think a lot of people actually don't just have $300."

He couldn't believe me. At all. It was just so outside of his world and realm of thinking, he didn't believe that there were families without savings living paycheck to paycheck who couldn't afford to spend $300 on a computer.

There was also recently a completely wonderful edition of This American Life where they examined what's wrong with "bad" schools. The conclusion? If you segregate schools so that all poor minority kids are together on an island, you're killing any possibility they have to succeed. They will never get the good teachers or examples. The chaos of poverty will take over and rule every day, so even the kids who try hard can't get a decent education. You're setting them up for failure. The only hope for an at-risk kid is to be in an environment where half or more of the kids are not at risk - where it's considered "normal" to line up and listen, where kids were taught from an early age that success is a possibility. If these kids were raised by parents who had to work three jobs, leave them at the cheapest daycares, never read to them... then they had to be around kids who were read to as babies.

That's my kid. The privileged. No - they do not have their own playroom suite or expensive electronics, but from birth my kids have been given markers and crayons and paper to draw with, they could go outside and explore nature because our neighborhood is safe, we had piles and piles of books and everyone around them is educated enough to know that those books must be read to those babies.

I was sitting around in a group of parents talking about how we all want the best for our kids. To them "the best" meant two options: private school, or homeschooling.

Now - my kid is only in kindergarten. People pull their kids out of school for lots of reasons and I won't judge. But I decided right there that for our family, public school should be the option that we try HARDEST at. It would be priority #1: do everything we can to make this work.

I decided right there: I believe in public school.

I believe that I might need a lot of people in my world when I'm 80 years old: doctors, nurses, government leaders, engineers. I only have two kids. They can't cover all my needs. You know who can? The hundreds of kids who live in my community. In that way, they are all my kids. Public school is the best chance we've got to get all those kids to be my doctor someday, and if my own kids are in public school then I'm bound to be invested in it. To get "the best for my kids" I can't just think about the two of them, I have to think about their whole generation, because my kids can't succeed in a world where we marginalize and and isolate half or more of the population.

I believe that my kids are smart, but there's more to success than just being smart. The world is full of systems to navigate. As a public school student, the system might not always set up perfectly for them on an individual level. But you know what else isn't set up perfectly for a single person? The rest of the world. Sometimes you'll be bored in a meeting. Sometimes you'll have a distracted boss who can't hold your hand through your tasks and you have to teach yourself some things. Sometimes the person next to you isn't up to your level yet and you'll have to help them. I'm a manager now at a fortune 500 company. You who I need working for me? Not the kids who learned calculus at age 10 and were so far ahead of their peers school was a bother to them. I need the kids who can navigate a system, hear out other ideas, teach the person next to them, compromise, and realize we're a team.

I believe that diversity is an asset. Companies know this - where racial and gender diversity is higher, financial performance is better too. The big tech companies are setting goals. Diverse groups of people come up with diverse ideas, challenge each other, relate to a wider customer base, and are less likely to slide into the status quo. A school that's diverse gives kids a head start in the benefits that these companies see - they can relate to and talk to people who aren't like them.

If our public school isn't great, I'm going to fight to make it better. PTAs have grown to have a reputation of being obsessed with valentine parties and petty squabbling. They need to be about being involved, understanding and hearing out teachers.

This is why I bought a house in the middle of the city, not a suburban outskirt - I was starting to have these feelings even when I was pregnant. And it's all gotten more solid all the sudden, hearing all my friends talk about their priorities. I realized that my priority has to be everybody. I personally will benefit if I'm helping more kids, not just my two.

Schools should be public. Even people without kids benefit from living in a society where everyone is educated. We should all be pooling what we have and working together to make this happen.

Hell yes, my kid is going to public schools.

just pre-ordered @HydroxCookie

Last year Leaf Brands out of california bought the rights to our favorite original sandwich cookie Hydrox and promised to start production. It took a while, but last week they were posting some great videos to their facebook page of cookies shooting off the line into packages, and this week they started taking pre-orders on amazon. I ordered mine!

Egads, it's been 16 years since I started my hydrox cookie fan page - been a while since we had a new chapter in the saga. hope these cookies are awesome.

no high fructose corn syrup, that's nice.


I might have a below-average ability to care about people's lives and I'm wondering if that's a problem.

here's what happens all the time at work. I go visit Bill at his cubicle. we're talking about a project and all the stuff that has to get done. he says he can do all this stuff by Friday but also tells me he's leaving a tad bit early today because his cousin is coming over to help build a shed in his yard and he wants to get it started, cool whatever.

Friday I stop by to see Bill again and ask him about all the tasks and he's telling me about how everything is going, and says that Jim in the next cube is helping out too and calls Jim over. We all start talking. And then Jim says, "By the way how'd the shed turn out?"

Well shoot, I realize, that would have been a NICE way to start this conversation, right? Shouldn't you ask how people are doing, how their lives are, try to remember what's important to them?

aren't your coworkers supposed to know the names of your kids, know what your spouse does, know your hobbies?

I am so bad at that. It's not that I don't care - I do. I just don't think about it. I get right to the work stuff.

in my last group a guy arranged for us to all chip in for a christmas gift card for the lady who cleaned our offices. It's a contract company that does that so usually you don't see the same person twice, and often they're at night so you never see them, but for some reason we'd had the same person for a while and this guy knew her name. I was blown away.

It's like my brain lacks some social skill. They say that people like you when they get to talk about themselves to you. It builds trust. I've been told before that I'm seen as pretty kick ass and too the point, but kindness is something people remember too, and I'm not sure I remember when anyone has said I was just a darn nice person. It's good to be to the point, technical and get stuff done, but there's a balance - you have to be able to just relax and ask people how it's going, and I'm not sure I'm balanced.


new friend

Latest addition to my friends list is petrini1 who I met in the Little Free Library Stewards' group. The group lives on another website that shall not be named.

She likes writing about authors, and the little free library tourism adventures of her Jane Austen action figure.

This is so not hard to figure out. In fact if you asked me to come up with the perfect formula to enable under-the-radar perverts I don't think I could do any better than the following:

Step 1: Brainwash a person from childhood to believe that "others" are the problem: gays, feminists, non-christians, welfare recipients, anybody who "ain't from around here". If you're not one of those things then you're doing alright!

Step 2: More brainwashing: unquestionable authority is good for people. Men and women should fit into strict gender roles with power structures clearly defined, the husband is responsible for all decision making.

Step 3: Keep your teens from dating, tell them that God is the only thing you need in marriage so why talk about it or even get to know the person you're marrying? Does he go to your church? Does your father approve? Then ladies what more could you want!

Step 4: scandal? I'm SHOCKED!

no check that, I'm faking being shocked. always, guys.

sorry about the celeb news commentary, you can all get back to your real lives.

environmentalism and parties

How much do you consider the environment when making day to day decisions (what to buy, what to throw away or recycle, etc)? For the environmentally conscious, what's one simple thing that is environmentally friendly that you wish more people would do?
You know what's one thing I wish people would do? Stop with the paper plates and throwaway party cups.

We like to have parties. I hated the bags of trash that would happen - paper plates, cups, forks. If you have ten people over they will easily make a bags of trash that you're leaving the party to take out. So I just stopped doing the throwaway thing. I bought packs of reusable plastic cups, like stadium cups. They come in packs of 4-6. I set out sharpies and told our friends that YES you can still write your name on that cup, and if you come back to our house maybe you'll find it next time, and if you don't come back well someone else will just cross your name out. Or pretend to be "angie" today. No big deal!

We set out our real plates and real forks and told everyone to just keep track. And life was so much nicer. No giant bags of trash. Yes we had dishes to wash but we have a dishwasher, and a load of just basic cups and plates is the easiest to run.

Some of those cups with names on them we've had around for years and they make for great memories. There are cups where little kids scrawled their name at age four, and now the handwriting is much improved but the ugly early writing is cute. When we're not partying we stack up the cups and keep them in a closet, no big deal, but when people come over we get them out and we've got plenty.

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