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outdoorsy things

not many updates this month I realize, if I have an excuse though it's that Kansas is really a two season place to live. We have hot summer, then we have cold winter. In between there's usually a 3-5 day period of transition where it's perfect out. A lot of those days are in September. So we've been taking advantage of the awesomeness.

We went camping last weekend with the kids and they loved it, Josie was immediately sad that we weren't staying two nights. We went on a walk on a long trail and found a turtle. The week before that we were up at the great planes nature center and saw a deer on that trail, although I think Josie was more interested in the grasshoppers. And Olive was more interested in the dirt.

Oh but back to camping! It went great except Olive didn't sleep, so Marc spent a lot of the night in the car with her, and the dog had to get up and walk around every hour and inside a tarp in a tent it was SUPER loud so finally I tied the dog up outside and said "I don't care if the coyotes eat you!" and then finally got more than two consecutive hours of sleep. Josie was crashed out through all this, didn't care.

We made s'mores, ate hot dogs, there was hot chocolate and doritos.

And then we went home. Josie goes on bike rides a lot now and I walk beside her with the dog, sometimes we take Olive in the stroller but that's a lot. Josie's getting a lot better on the bike though and I have our neighborhood mapped out a lot better in terms of slope... you want to start out a bike ride with a four-year-old going uphills, so when she's tired and whiny there's more downhills. We get to the park a lot. Sometimes I can read. That's what's going on in September.

better kid ages

Labor day weekend! We spent Saturday at the pool, last day that would be open, and then Sunday Josie and I drove up to my sister's to hang out with the new baby. We left Marc and Olive at home. I've always said, since Olive was born, that the instant you have two kids being left alone with just one kid it's like a vacation and it's true, it was awesome. So quiet!

Josie and I went to the craft store and I bought her one of those rubber band looms, just a little one, even though they say ages 6 and up they were all on sale. Josie took to it like magic, she was cranking out rubber band bracelets all weekend. She loved holding her baby cousin. We shared the full size bed in the guest room and there was lots of snuggling. We went to the Kansas Discovery Center, Topeka's really cool science and nature museum, which Josie has been to before and adores. I was happy all weekend. Missed cute little Olive, but Josie and I were having a blast.

Which got me thinking... if you're going to split kids with your spouse for a weekend, which one is the better pick: the one year old, or the four year old?

Advantages to the four year old
Watches movies happily on longer car trips
Climbs in her own car seat
Less likely to kill herself if left unattended in a non-child-proofed house
Impresses strangers with intellect. Gives high-fives, says funny things
Can sleep in a big bed
Does not require diapers
Gets excited about things ("We're going to the science place? YAY!")
Can be entertained with basic craft supplies or even crayons
Sleeps in later

Advantages to the one year old
Smaller and, in many ways, cuter
Weaker and less able to destroy shit (can't get the lid off a sharpie)
Doesn't care what you dress her in
Chills out in a stroller admiring the scenery if you feel like shopping
Doesn't ask for stuff in stores
Can be entertained with a cardboard box
Makes no dinner demands
Doesn't talk back
Takes afternoon naps
Quieter screaming - rage cannot transcend an entire Target store
Passes out shortly after sundown

Grandparents seem to prefer one year olds... maybe it's a time thing. If you're going to spend an hour alone with a kid, pick the one year old, they're more likely to require nothing from you. But if you're going to spend a weekend, a one year old gets boring after a while so pick the four year old? I mean small cuteness is small cuteness and doesn't really change.

My sister's baby is almost a month old and is 100% baby. She sleeps. Or at more enlightened moments, she fusses and you give her a pacifier and she works on it and zones out at a window. My sister and brother in law are amazed and in love with this, they stare at her face and don't want to miss a second. I was thrilled to hold her, then happy to take Josie to the science museum where she'd have a ball and tell me "thank you". Then get back to Olive, who pretends to dress herself and tests out new words that nobody can understand. Every age has its perks.

the work-life-balance TV trope

I've been re-watching "Grey's Anatomy" on netflix lately, I guess just trying to relive my late 20s because we watched a lot of that show back in the good old days of the 2000s.

Ever notice how many tv shows have that breakup scene with the angry spouse yelling at a main character all "We've been married for 15 years and I'm tired of you always putting work ahead of our marriage and never being there! You're always saving lives and doing surgeries! It's never going to be MY turn to come first is it!"

Maybe other non-doctor shows, like lawyer shows or whatever, have this scene too... I don't remember because I mostly watch doctor shows. It happens a lot on those. And every time I just totally don't understand, I mean is this a real thing? Do people marry someone in medical school and think "well she's busy now, but in a few years she'll be on vacations all the time with me! nothing better to do than stare into my eyes! let's get married!"

I thought that was sort of a marriage 101 thing. Like, if they hear you say "I just keep hoping he'll change... marriage should do the trick!" then no pastor, rabbi or justice of the peace in his or her right mind should actually conduct a marriage ceremony for you.

I'm constantly stumped about why divorces happen, they always take me by total surprise. Maybe the TV shows are written by people with more experience and more realistic than I think. Or maybe nobody understands why marriages break up, so of course the TV shows are wrong but they're scraping at something?

Oh well, for anyone wondering... grey's anatomy still has a really weak season 4. I kinda lost interest around then in the 2000s and rewatching it I just remembered again why. we never even saw bailey's husband until he showed up whining about wanting to leave her, what a jerk.

there's more than one wrong way to do it

just a reminder: I like programming, but I'm a hack at it.

I wrote a calendar sort of thing that reported out what the first saturday of the month was, for the next 12 months. It worked great. PHP has this function called "strtotime" that converts a string (any text) to a timestamp... so I just put in "+1 month" so it would tell me the timestamp one month from now. I found the first saturday of that month. This was in a loop so it would do +2 months then +3 months and then so on.

It worked just fine until... yesterday! August 31st. Because one month after August 31st? Puts you in October! And two months from that is ALSO october... it was repeating even months and skipping the odd months.

It sucks to have a script that works one day, and then surprise one day it DOESN'T and you didn't change anything, you're like "I've been hacked!" but no... I haven't, I just don't think ahead all that well.

And to further my laziness I didn't even change my algorithm... just put in a trap that says if today is the 31st day of the month, tell me +1 months from yesterday.

do you have a separate work cell phone?

My company doesn't want us to have blackberry devices anymore... fair enough. I have a choice between asking them for a new phone, or installing their software on my personal cell and just using my phone for both home and work.

Reasons to just have one phone:
1) I don't have to carry around two phones or remember two phone numbers. Kinda awesome.

Reasons to have two separate phones:
1) I always know how to answer based on which phone is ringing... I won't say "Hello?" when I should have said "Engineering this is spacefem".

2) Company can't spy on me. When you sign up to use your own phone for company email and intranet, you install and app and agree to let them wipe the whole thing clean if they think security is at risk.

3) Free charger.

4) They pay for it.

And then finally, a lot of people have this sort of "home is sacred!" philosophy when it comes to combining home and work phones, they do want personal phone number that coworkers do not have. I honestly don't get tons of phone calls anyway, yet, and with my blackberry I usually do just answer it even if I'm home because it might be important, so I think I'm already failing at work life separation or whatever.

Anyone else dealt with this, probably years ago because I'm a little behind? What drove your choice?

book: how the world sees you

I saw this book, "How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through The Science of Fascination", at the airport in the business best sellers and wrote down the title. Did not buy it, because I was traveling and it's over 400 pages... massive!

But I got home and checked it out from the library and read it, and sorta hated it.

The author uses the word "fascination" over and over and over and over. The whole book is about how you fascinate people. be excellent. very peppy and motivaty. It's about how you should focus on what's best about you, how you have something special and unique to deliver you just have to find it, I was waiting for unicorns to come up.

Then there's a personality test... oddly enough, no one had scratched out the code in the library book. I also chose not to. That'll be an interesting experiment, see who takes the code. I figure if I want the code, I'll buy the book.

I also just realized that if you ever write a book, be sure to include a secret one-time-use code for everyone to take a special test, a code you only get from buying the book brand new.

I guess I just realized reading this that I am officially personality-tested OUT. Strengths finder. Myers-briggs. DISC profile. Enneagram 9 types. I can't do it anymore, kids. I need to read books with substance... and I am in another book with substance, a business book about the automotive industry. I need some reality in my life, not these lofty pep talks about my inner spark.

Maybe part of the problem is that I've written personality quizzes for my website and figured out, at the age of 19, the tender formula for those: ask people questions, then rephrase what they just told you into a compliment that makes them feel good about themselves. They will identify, and pass the quiz along. Go ahead. Find out what color your rainbow is. Apparently I missed the boat though, I should have packaged my quizzes with a book and charged people to take them.

But my biggest disappointment was that I thought the book would discuss methods to discover, well, how the world sees me. I thought the book would be about reading people, interpreting cues to tell if they're on board and how I should reshape my message based on them. It never got there. Did I miss it, I thought? Kept flipping around the three chapters... the vast majority of the book is describing the personalities in this 7x7 matrix, so nope. I read about how to write my personal anthem. I read about how I can be successful by being more of who I am. I read about how I should answer questions about myself to tell how others saw me... uh, that's kinda messed up right? Shouldn't I ask other people how they see me, not myself? Reminded me of my cop-out boss who said he wouldn't give me feedback because "most people know their weaknesses". No they don't! That's why they're weaknesses!

Oh also... to get this book at the library I had to put it on reserve, because it's a brand new bestseller right? I was like tenth in line. I'm used to this, I waited seven weeks to get the second hunger games book once. But this book? I had it three days later! Sure the library has multiple copies, but damn that was a fast line... which made me realize that nobody actually spent any time with this book. There's no substance, in 425 pages. Maybe that's why they didn't scratch the code. All of us library readers, who do not just buy whatever book we see at the airport... we need a little more. We are tired.

So I don't know, amazon reviews of this book are awesome so maybe I'm being cynical this week, I just think this book is a LOT like strengths finder 2.0 only more cheerleadery, repetitive, with less substance. so if you need a "YAAAAAY YOU!!!" go ahead and buy this book. I was not fascinated. I was bored.
Last week NPR ran a story about how women leave engineering because everyone it's an unsuitable climate for women. I've ranted about these kinds of stories before (are STEM fields too mean for women?) and just realized they have something in common. They're based on bad studies. It's pretty easy to recognize a bad study, too, because there's never a control. In other words they'll interview a bunch of women who left engineering, but they won't interview men who left engineering, and they won't interview women who stayed in engineering, and they won't interview women who left other fields. The authors go in with a sensationalist argument, interview whoever they can to back it up, and somehow make the news.

There's science reporting for you.

I would like to take a moment to make a plug for SWE. The whole question of "why are women a minority in engineering" has been asked before. It's a complicated question. There isn't a simple answer.

But every year, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) examines the dozens of notable studies around the question and publishes a literature review - the review of 2013 was completed and added in the spring of 2014. It's big reading. It's complicated. But if you want to figure out the puzzle of women in engineering, that's where I think you should start.

This year the first few pages make you think SWE is just tired of reviewing the same ideas by new authors who've never read anyone else's studies... they make a plea for academics to study fields outside academia, stress the need to ask questions around the intersectionality of race and gender, and mention (yes) lack of controls in many studies. But they find some good stuff that was published too... feminist critiques of engineering, programs for girls, engineer identity trends. And they find that just like in other fields, women leave engineering because they don't like their boss, don't find meaning in their work, or just have other interests. Are there things engineering could do to be more accommodating? Sure. But articles like the NPR report, that are all about how engineering is hostile, are not very well founded.

And they run the risk of scaring away some women who'd be great engineers because they don't aren't featuring any successes... if a woman likes her job in STEM, that's too boring to make a headline.

People have a tendency to criticize movements for being unorganized, even if they've never tried to be part of the organization. Don't do this to SWE, I'm telling you. My membership may be 12 years so yeah, I'm biased, but the work they do is important and the research is fascinating. Don't oversimplify this, and don't skip over the work others have done.

things my 4 year old has to say...

This morning I was downstairs cutting up fabric when I hear Josie wake up, emerge and start talking to Marc. He had a gig last night, then Olive work up early, so the guy is going on two hours of sleep. But by the time I went upstairs, Josie had already asked for pancakes and he was making them, with half-closed eyes, because he's a good sport. Oh, Josie calls them "pain-pakes". He looks at me and says, "I couldn't say no to painpakes" then kinda zones out by the stove.

So I go attend to Olive, and in the kitchen I hear Josie talking to him and I can't help but chuckle at it... she talks the entire time he's cooking. This is also typical. Josie hasn't stopped talking since sometime in 2012, and I think the more exhausted marc is, the more she has to say.

Here is the gist of her conversation. Marc had an occasional one-word reply, but it was basically all her:

First she listed off her pancake requests: food coloring, whip cream, sprinkles, and asked if she could help make them because there were eggs and she's really good at cracking eggs. She explained that she likes to help make deserts too, and we should have desert when we have dinner at our house, in fact whenever we make dinner we should make desert.

And since we make even more deserts at Christmas time, her and daddy should make cookies and cakes, she will help. Christmas is a time when we need lots of deserts. She wants a perry the platypus cake for her birthday. We need to go to the store and get frosting for it. And we should make cookies for halloween too, halloween cookies.

She ran through her list of costumes... I'll mention here that Josie thinks Halloween costumes should be like Christmas presents, a dozen of them should show up in our living room brought by some kind of santa of halloween... So Josie reminded us once again that she wants to be princess tangled, a pumpkin, batman, elsa from frozen, and a ghost.

And remember on halloween we put out the big blow-up spider, we have to put the spider out this year? spider pig, spider pig, does whatever a spider pig does, does he spin from a web? no he can't, he's a pig look ooooout, he is a spider pig... remember that song from the simpsons dad?

the teeth at the front of our mouths are big like bunny teeth, we all have bunny teeth don't we?

By this time Marc was done with her pancake and she remembered that she wanted to cut out shapes with the cookie cutters, so she asked him if she could do that and he said yes, she ran to the drawer and asked if she could use the butterfly shape (yes) but wait no can I use the heart instead (yes) wait I want the duck... and so on and so on until she'd narrated all the cookie cutters, then she said she didn't want the outside just the inside of the shape.

and that was josie's first 15-minute monolog of the day.

I'm an AUNT!

Last week when I was in New York I get this text from my mom that "baby girl is here!" and... not much else. I got a pounds/ounces a bit later and stalked my family on facebook for pictures. My sister's baby was due August 15th, so when I set up the new york trip I told my friend we had to avoid mid-august. I knew being gone August 5th was cutting it close but hey, not too close, most babies don't show up 10 days early. I know because I am the internet's largest collector of due date statistics.

Well I missed my nieces' birth!

BUT it was okay, I got back into town and we went up the next day to meet the new little one. Her name is Amelia and I think she is AWESOME:

I think I will be great at this aunt gig, I've been almost as excited about it as I was when I had my own kids! It just sounds so cool, being the aunt, giving the risky advice, being there.

And the fact that my feminist sister and I have now made three little girls between us? Pretty badass. We have enough for our own riot grrrl band. Sure, either of us would have been totally happy with baby boys but the girls, well, what can we say.

I spent hours getting some quality baby-holding in, scrunchy newborn against my chest barely squeaking. Josie was so excited... WAY better with a baby than she was when Olive was born a year ago. It's an age thing. I look back at her last year, just about to turn three, and she looks like still a baby, couldn't even really hold Olive without us having a hand supporting her head. Four year olds process the whole "baby" thing much better. Maybe that's a better kid spacing.

Well anyway watch out world, my niece is one more kid whose going to have a lot of my influence... really she'll be just like having all my influence because my sister is almost the same as me, just imagine spacefem with an arts degree and lighter hair and you've got my sister. this will be one great group of cousins!

My Visit to Etsy

Cross-posted to my arts & crafts blog

Last week I visiting New York when I get this tweet from @ansate asking if I'd want to swing by the Etsy offices in Brooklyn for a visit. My response was "seriously?!" Well, seriously! I guess she'd been following me because we're both women in tech and cool like that, happened to be in town instead of remoting in from portland, and wanted to learn to give official Etsy tours anyway and this was a great opportunity. I was thrilled!

The thing is, I spent a LOT of time on Etsy because I run a shop ( that pulls me into shipping 2-3 bags of fabric around the world every day, and I'm in way too many Etsy Teams, and I dink with the API all the time... so the idea of visiting in person almost threw me, I was like "Am I in trouble? Too weird? Will I be able to act normal?"

Well I totally acted normal, it went great! And I learned some things by visiting the office and seeing a cool trendy tech company at work. There are some similarities between Etsy and any workplace, I certainly saw things that are the same as where I work. There are totally unique things too.

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