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dealing with changes

My etsy shop is still clicking along at around 100 orders a month. This means that several times a year, I'm ordering shipping supplies... labels, envelopes. I order envelopes from different ebay sources every time because I like to make it fun and change up my colors, but the labels I only buy from valuemailers because I trust them, I've ordered ones that weren't as easy to pull off or got stuck in the printer and it's awful. So I stick with what I know.

My latest order though... they're still good, but something changed. They're stickier to pull off the backing somehow, maybe they feel thicker.

Immediately my engineering side wants to kick in as soon as I get these..."WHAT CHANGED?"


then I calm down and realize I'm shipping craft supplies.

it messes with you, engineering. we do not like risk. or change. it burns us. IT BURNS.

someone, somewhere at value mailers changed suppliers and I will never know why because I'm really not that big a customer to them... okay. I can deal.
Did a middle-aged white guy call me out today for referring to our female engineering interns as "girls"?

yup, that happened.

he was totally nonchalant about it too. "You mean women?"

yup, I did.
Dear readers: About 50 times a year, this article gets tweeted around the working women circles for us to ponder. Okay not this exact article. But basically, this article. I've now read it so many times I can write it myself. I'm hoping to get published in The Atlantic.

Hi. I'm a working woman.

When I started my career out of college, I had nothing but stars in my eyes. I was going to run the world. I was going to climb the corporate ladder. I LOVED ladders! None of those aluminum fold-away ones for me, no sir, it was only the ones that went STRAIGHT TO THE TOP.

I quickly ascended the ranks, crushing the balls of all who opposed me. Then at 35 I realized ZOMG BABIES. I had to have babies. Dozens of them. Something clicked in me that I never saw coming. I started cranking out as many babies as possible, buying kegs of sperm off craigslist, grabbing babies off store shelves, every woman must have babies!

That's when I realized all the mistakes I'd made. I was surrounded by babies, working 160 hours a week as CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and I realized: I was trying to have it all. Yes. Work, AND a family.

Whyyyyy didn't anyone tell me that I couldn't have it all?! I mean, when a man graduates from college, he's already heard 5,000 times "just remember you can't have it all!" right? With that knowing wink? People keep it, like, a total secret from women! We never see stock photos of frazzled moms in heels screaming into their mobile phones while burning dinner! We're not raised in a society that constantly reminds us that the world is a scary place where we will lose our minds!

I totally hate my life now. It was really easy to just suddenly make $500,000 a year, but let me tell you now it is just so damn inconvenient! We need to focus more on women like me with problems, real problems! I blame those goddamn pushy feminists always telling us to work work work. They acted like they were speaking on behalf of women who had no choice but to work, but let's be honest, poor women's lives must be super easy compared with mine now.

Women, you can't have it all! If you get an MBA, you are trying to have it all! If you apply for a promotion when you're 25, you don't even know how your life will be when you MUST HAVE BABIES, you are trying to have it all! Be afraid of the future! Don't let those pushy bitches tell you to find a job you love, it will totally backfire! Find a job you hate! Then hate your life, and try to get a man who will support you to "lean out" of this crazy rat race while he seeks out a rewarding career and you surf pinterest for diet fads all day. You were given a brain for... well I don't know why. Don't use it too much ladies, it'll only make you miserable!

Disclaimer: This isn't real. I'm not a CEO, I'm an electrical engineer. l lead a team of about 10 people. I have two daughters who are cool, I work about 45 hours a week and like my job, I'm happy.


kids sewing pattern hell

I sew all the time, but lately I've been running into an awful fact: it is really hard to measure kids for a sewing pattern. It's hard enough to measure an adult, but with the kids patterns there is WAY more variation, and to make it worse, the pattern companies are not helping. at all.

Last year I sewed my 3-year-old a bunny costume from a simplicity pattern. The size was way off, it was for kids but even the smallest size was too big, it was HUGE on her, way too long, dragging on the floor, we had to sew/pin it up all over the place, totally weird. But she loves it and I figure she can wear it for a while.

This year I wanted to make my 1-year-old a sheep costume. mccall's patterns were on sale at joann's and I liked 6105

I was like okay, lesson learned from last year, get the size right! Usually you buy a pattern and it contains sizes 1-4 or something, so I vowed to lay it all out and measure the heck out of the pieces to make sure they'd line up with parts of by kid.

BUT guess what... this pattern contains one size and one size only.

And you buy the size based on only a breast and waist measurement - every inch difference is a size you go up.

This is a baby! She's like 80% squishy fat, how the hell am I supposed to get a waist measurement within 1 inch when I know full well that the most important thing about this pattern is to not have it too long and dragging on the floor? I want a length measurement, somewhere!

I started to grab a size, tear open the pattern, and unfold the whole damn thing in the store so I could measure. I mean I can easily measure the distance between her shoulders and the floor, and there's a pattern piece that makes that run, that's what I'd like to know the length of! But of course that piece was buried, because the package includes the pieces to make an entire zoo of baby costumes (in that ONE size). So I said fuck it and walked out.

Seriously McCall's, waist measurement of my baby within 1 inch? really? has anyone designing these pattern packages ever seen a baby?

I give up. I'll just make a big rectangle out of fur with arm holes and call it good. boooo.


I had a promising exchange this morning with @McCallPatternCo on twitter in which they informed me to simply contact customer service with my query. I almost had to backtrack this whole rant to say sorry, because they're right I should contact them directly before smack-talking on the internet like a crazy person right?

So I emailed them a polite inquiry about the finished length of this pattern, and quickly received this response:

> Thank you for your email concerning McCall Patterns. Whenever possible we try
> to provide our home sewers with the information they desire. Regrettably no.
> You will need to use the measurement chart to determine the size; toddlers are
> size according to chest and waist.
> Cordially,
> Laurie

Well that went well.

Well McCalls, I also work for a big company so I know sometimes the social media folks and customer service department don't exactly sit by each other, so no harm done. But you did get my hopes up.


spacekid1's coloring tutorial

My four-year-old's life is going to be so radically different from mine.

For one thing, she's got a pinterest account. And she's FOUR. It was just for cute animals, but then she started noticing all the crafts and she loves crafts. Her latest kick is watching youtube tutorials. She'll surf pinterest until she sees that tell-tale arrow that signifies a movie, and she's in the zone.

These things are so long! I mean we're talking 20-30 minutes of a webcam focused on a rubber band bracelet loom, with a lady talking us through the steps - but Josie is entranced! And no, she cannot make these bracelets yet, or follow instructions, or use a crochet hook. I'm certain of it. She'd be nothing but frustrated. But she watches the tutorials and zones out, they're good to get her into late in the evening before bedtime because they're very relaxing.

Inspired by all this, she's started asking me to video her other crafty activities, mainly coloring, while she talks us through them like the women in the other youtube tutorials. This is ridiculous and probably not entertaining at all but I can't resist... it starts a bit slow but around halfway through, she really has a lot to say:

I have a LOT of these videos. We have a lot of drawings, and go through a lot of paper. She's very productive.


the baby learned to walk (w/video)

Olive learned to walk about two weeks ago. It was cute.

I feel like Josie was really absent-minded about walking, didn't even think about it. She was about ten months old and just started letting go of everything, and falling on her face and not caring.

Olive was 13 months old, and totally happy crawling, until she figured out some fun games. She set herself up a little training course at my mom's house, she'd sit on a step, get to standing, then take steps out to us. When she got close to whoever was playing "baby catch" with her she'd lunch forward, mouth open wide, into our arms. She seemed to love the speed of walking.

Olive and Josie did have one thing in common: both of them went from zero to sixty in about five days. Out of the blue you see them taking wobbly first steps, then suddenly it's laps around the house. And no crawling, they never look back. That's such a baby thing, so passe when you're a TODDLER.

So here is big girl Olive showing off her steps:


women and def con: I'd go back.

There's been lots of talk lately about women at computer conferences having to listen to sexist bullshit, including this one that's making the rounds on my twitter feed Def Con, Jeff Moss, and Sexism: why I won’t be going to Def Con again.

I've been to Def Con twice. Alexis Park, and the Riviera. The Riviera experience was definitely different so if there's one thing I will hands-down agree with it's this: Def Con isn't the same. You have to search to connect, people aren't out sitting waiting to meet each other, share drinks and talk shit on the man. The parties are more likely to be closed off. It's starting to feel more subdued.

It's getting more cautious, and feeling more corporate.

And I guess that's where part of me doesn't want to be a feminist killjoy ordering them to be less sexist, because I know what that will mean. It's that old stereotype people have about feminists pointing to a woman in a bikini saying "HERE, SHE is the PROBLEM!" - yes women are used for window dressing at def con. But I was dressed up going along with it, feeling hot in cosplay, what does that make me? And at the same time I was finding really cool, supportive guys willing to teach me about lock picking, and willing to eye-roll at that creepy dude at the Alexis Park pool who asked if I wanted to be this year's Pool 2 Girl (do not google).

Yes, I am in SWE. I'm a former chair of my company's women's network, lead outreach projects to get girls in engineering. I also donate plenty to funds that help women around the world with microloans, or to just achieve justice in the eyes of the laws of backwards countries. To me that's really where feminism is.

At Def Con? I feel like leaving it at home. We are privileged. To the right audiences, we can be heard... there was a presentation I attended in 2005 about why there weren't more female hackers. Well, it was lead by a man and AWFUL, this guy had no idea. But what were we standing up and presenting? It's not like I was rolling out SWE research. And I didn't want to... if I spoke at Def Con, I wanted it to be about security, because just for once I wanted to relax for one weekend and be part of the crowd. And I could be! Arms around sweaty hackers at karaoke, singing our lungs out to "small town girl" drinking coronas and swapping funny stories about times we'd crashed servers by accidentally leaving a sql query in a loop, I felt accepted.

Def Con is just unsexist enough for me... I find jerks, but I find friends. I find nerds who've never been accepted, and that's when I as a woman feel like someone relates to me not being accepted. I am not there to advance my career, not worried about who's passing me by, because there are enough cool people listening to me. It's not like a professional conference, it's not IEEE. I don't need everyone listening. I'd rather everyone just be totally honest - and they are.

And I might want to wear a leather miniskirt, and not wonder what social gender constructs lead me to chose that. I just want to relax.

I realize that I have said women engineers shun feminism as a defense mechanism. A shield we have around us to act like "one of the guys".

But just for one weekend a year of cussing, alcohol, and debauchery, I like the shield.

why birth control is a human right

I know, everybody talked about Hobby Lobby yesterday. Here are my three talking points for the time capsule.

1) It's freaky that a company can decide that any random thing is an "abortifacient" that should be written out of a woman's healthcare coverage. This is what sexism is. I don't know everything about men, but I do know one thing: a man can get any treatment his doctor recommends, and it will not be labeled an abortifacient.

2) I have an IUD. I love it. Just want to be public about that. I do not consider myself someone who's having tiny abortions every month.

3) There was a time in my life when I first got my period that I medically needed birth control. It happens to millions of women. I could either be on the pill, or I could be crawling on my knees for two days a month unable to stop vomiting.

4) But regardless, I think every woman deserves access to contraception regardless of medical need. Let's stop talking about the fact that pregnancy can kill you or periods hurt, because a lot of people haven't experienced that or they just don't care. Let's talk instead about the fact that we just deserve access.

Let's all admit, as a society, that sex is something that many perfectly normal people have, just as a part of life. Stop acting like sex is just for childbearing women performing their "marital duties" and trying to get pregnant. Stop acting like only sluts need to have sex. Just get over those two categories, and call it something that humans do.

Then birth control becomes healthcare. See? That wouldn't hurt anybody. In fact I think it would be good for all of us, because we wouldn't be wrapped up in sex, clutching our pearls at the mention of it, afraid to bring up the topic of contraception.

We could all just be okay.


When Marc and I had our apartment, we ate most nights on the couch with a movie on. It felt lazy and kinda unhealthy, so a few times we made the effort to set the table and eat there, with serving dishes and forks to the left and all that. I was afraid that eating on the couch was unhealthy.

Then came the baby. If we sat her in a high chair at the table, we could sit and eat and it was the only 30 minutes of the day we weren't holding her, she was occupied! It was great.

Then came another baby. Josie had to sit in a chair at the table, she's obviously not balancing things well enough to eat at the couch. Olive was restrained and occupied in the high chair like babies are.

So that's what we do every night - we sit and have a family dinner like civilized people. But not by choice. It's because that's the only way we get a break to eat our food. Command a kid to sit in a chair so we don't have to chase them. I thought families that sat at tables were so much more wholesome than we were - not so! They just survive.

Oh but then there are nights like tonight... Josie is at a parents night out thing and Olive is still at that age where friends WANT to watch her because she's a cute baby and not an insane toddler, so it's just marc and me. And we are eating on the couch and watching a movie and it's AWESOME!

Being married with kids is an endless adventure. Today we went to the aviation museum, Josie and I played with duplos, we read books, Olive practiced her walking, it was a blast.

But being married with no kids? That's a sleepover party, every night! It's no time to be wholesome! If I could send myself a message back in time that's what I'd say - screw wholesome! Stay up way too late talking! Spend an entire saturday in bed! Get drunk at a club and don't wander back home until 2! It's not immature, it's fabulous, you've got to soak that fun up like a sponge because it'll all change soon and suddenly your fun can only happen between 8am and 3pm (before naptime) - you are on someone else's schedule. And you're tired. And you're strategizing. In it together, still having fun, but wholesome happens to you. You don't invite it in.


have you hurt yourself on a bicycle?

So follow up from a few days ago... Josie got a bike with training wheels for her fourth birthday. We've gone out every night, I walk the dog and she's close by me on her little bike, pedaling her heart out, she loves it.

Bikes are awesome. My bikes led me to many adventures and happy memories throughout my life.

My first bike also lead me to bust my teeth out of my face when I was ten. Now, when I was a kid NONE of us wore helmets. They were commercially available, just dorky, I don't even remember if we owned them before my accident. Nowadays someone would probably call child services if you let your kid ride a bike with no helmet. One of those "how did we survive?" things.

I'm still wondering what's going to happen to Josie on this bike though. I don't think a helmet would have saved my teeth. And since we've been finding her in dangerous situations since before she could walk, she's obviously not the most careful child. As awesome as bikes are it's like opening pandora's box.

So let's look at the statistics with a poll, shall we?

Poll #1971519
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 62

What have bicycles done to you?

View Answers
I never had a bike, or never rode much
3 (4.8%)
I have happily ridden a bike for years without suffering any injuries
9 (14.5%)
I've had cuts and scrapes but all fixable at home
39 (62.9%)
Accident requiring medical attention, but not hospitalization
11 (17.7%)
Long term damage/days of hospitalization
0 (0.0%)


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