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My Dad listens to the It's Only A Game podcast and recommended really interesting episode about the history of the sports bra. The sports bra? But it was tied in with so many other themes about sports, and women's participation in sports, it made for a fascinating story. Sometimes the little things lead to such big stories.

It was an interview with Lisa Lindahl. In the early 70s she loved running but it was uncomfortable, so she and her theater costume-designing friend started brainstorming. They needed a bra that was comfortable, supportive, and she had a third poignant goal: she wanted it to be modest enough that she could take her shirt off when she was running, like she'd seen her male runner friends do on warm sunny days, enjoying the breeze. Once the design was in place her challenge was convincing sporting goods store owners to sell them, these guys looked at her like she was crazy, "You want me to have BRAS out on display? We're a sports store!" She told them they had jock straps, so what about jock bras?

It was controversial because everything about women's sports was controversial. Why should women have a place in sports? If God wanted you to run why did He give you breasts? Besides, for decades before that, there was all this concern about women "over-exerting" themselves. I had to do more reading about this. She'd made a comment in the interview about girls playing basketball without crossing the center line... WHAT? It was a tiny quip but I had to read more.

So here you go friends, meet Six on Six Basketball. Played mostly by girls and only through about the 1950s and 60s, each team had six players: three forwards and three guards. If you were a forward you stayed on the half of the court with the opposing team's basket, if you were a guard you stayed on the half of the court with your team's basket. Dribbling any distance wasn't allowed. You could bounce the ball once then had to pass it. Nobody thought girls should be running up and down a basketball court, or maybe they just thought any boys sport needed a watered-down, less intense version for girls to enjoy it.

I shot Dad a text to ask if he remembered this and he just said there weren't girls sports at all when he was in school, so I suppose we should be grateful that something existed.

The history of women's sports is full of these stories. At the turn of the century scientists worried that women would over-exert their reproductive organs if they participated in too much activity during their periods. There's only so much a body can do. Our future baby-having was in peril. How did this apply to laborers, I wonder? Did we just not care about them? Women were working in farms and factories, but we thought physical activity was dangerous? It's ironic now that we've found out how important it is to be in shape when you're pregnant. I go on walks now, but when I was pregnant I HAD to walk, stretch, be in some kind of better shape, otherwise I could immediately tell. Physical activity was hard, but missing physical activity made me feel even worse.

Back to basketball... here we are this month all watching men play the NCAA tournament. There is a women's tournament too but the bracket contest is never as interesting, why? Because the teams are too easy to pick. Try it sometime. There aren't 64 schools that really invest in their women's basketball teams so there isn't the depth, there isn't the "who knows!" factor of the men's bracket. It's 2017 and Connecticut has won the past four years. As the rest of our week here unfolds there will be Baylor, Maryland, and Stanford up there as contenders, as always, occasional upset but not that hard to call most of the final four.

Incidentally, I think there is one sport where women's rules are still a bit off. That sport is women's hurdles. In track and field, men's hurdles heights increase from 33" to 39" to 42" in junior high, high school, and college, respectively. Women's hurdles go from 30" in junior high to 33" in high school and stay there.

Given the fact that the average man in the US is not even 6" taller than the average woman, it doesn't make much sense that mens' hurdles are 11" higher than women's. Men's hurdling is a genuine challenge. Women's hurdle races are a sprint. We especially noticed in the 90s when Gail Devers just took everything, she was so fast at 100 meters it didn't matter to her whether the hurdles were there or not, she still won.

There are three people in the world who have noticed the discrepancy and care about it: me, my high school track coach, and my dad. Dad has powerful memories from his transition from high school to college when the 39" hurdles he was used to suddenly went up to 42" - hurdlers train to waste no energy with extra height, he claimed he could knock a dime off a 39" hurdle, he was shocked to hear women's hurdles just stayed at the same height forever.

That's a detail for another day though. For now I'm just happy women are allowed to run. The world has realized we deserve fitness too, and are strong enough to do great things.

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lab partners

Last week at Toastmasters a table topics question was: Tell a story about a time you felt out of place.

I couldn't even hear what the speaker was saying, my mind zoomed immediately back in time almost 20 years. whoosh. good thing I was not given that question.

It was the first day of school my freshman year of college. I was walking into Electronics 101. Wearing flip flops, shorts, and a blue tie-dyed tank top with spaghetti straps, long hair in a ponytail. I was cute. I loved that tank top, it was soft and the tie-dye was faded to a perfect 90s grunge.

I was in that class to get a scholarship. I'd told the college that I loved physics and computers and wanted to go into some kind of technology. At my college visit I'd talked to professors in a few departments, electronics was one of them. I told the professor I'd eventually choose some kind of technology field. A month later he called me on the phone and said, "Well if you pick electronics, we have an extra $1200 for you. It's a NASA grant. You can spend it on anything, books, room and board, doesn't matter, just have to declare your major as electronics engineering tech which is no big deal. You can switch later. You just have to take this one class first semester."

At the visit I vaguely remembered my dad asking about women in the program and the professor said, "She'll be a minority." I remember those exact words. Then he shrugged and changed the subject.

Day 1.

I walk in and the classroom has seats for about 30 people, not huge, this is a small state college. I am the only girl. The classroom has tables, each table has two chairs, I sit near the front at an empty table. More people file in. No wait, more men file in. Soon the room is filled, but nobody sits by me. They start talking. They start justifying their existence, meeting each other, talking about how they got into electronics, how they install car stereos.

I am not a minority, I am the only girl, in a class of 24. Nobody is sitting by me or talking to me. I feel stupid wearing my tank top. Why didn't I wear sweats or something utterly non-skanky, or non-girly, now it'll look like I want attention, I'm not here for attention, I promise. I start slouching in my chair. I did not know anything about car stereos. They're all going to find out.

Whenever anyone mentions feeling out of place, I remember that class.

The next day we had lab. We had to pair up, of course nobody wanted to be my partner, then a guy comes in late and I'm the only one left and he sits down. He's a business major, he tells me, just taking this class for some tech elective. There are breadboards and we're supposed to build a circuit. "Have you ever used one of these things before?" he asks me. I said no. Okay, he says, we can do this, he grabs it and starts putting in components. That's how the first few labs go, I'm just watching.

The homework and tests weren't bad. It was a lot of stuff I'd covered in math or physics from high school. The circuits drawn out were like puzzles. The professor was a terribly hard grader so my grades were not excellent but I kept remembering that this could be my last electronics class, I'd figure out some other major, just go down to general ed, they all say you can do that for a couple years.

We have the same lab partners every week but mine didn't last long, he dropped the class. The homework was too hard, he said. We had our first test. I overheard the guys comparing scores. They weren't that fantastic. I wasn't feeling brilliant but my score was one of the higher ones. Maybe I would be okay.

My scores on the lab assignments were just fine too, despite being afraid to touch anything. Then one day I realized, half the stuff these guys did in the labs was wrong. They'd fumble around with the voltmeter and put leads in the wrong places to measure drop over resistors... and I started thinking hell, how much of this have they really done?

That's when I realized two things. First, when my lab partner asked me "have you done this before?" I could have asked him the same thing, but I didn't. Another thing I've learned now, after many internet articles and SWE conferences, is that my answer could have been "No so I'd better be at the controls so I learn." or "No but I don't think that will make a difference." Engineering isn't competing with each other, it's competing with the science.

Second thing I realized: these guys were screwing up circuits on breadboards all over the place but nothing was blowing up, melting, or causing the end of the world. They were just going for it. What was stopping me from going for it? What was the worst thing that could happen if I did this wrong, I'd look stupid? A quick cost-benefit analysis made me realize it was worth the risk.

I knew I didn't have confidence, I felt that intensely. But confidence is how you learn. Maybe "technical people" aren't born with a magical inside knowledge, they're just willing to dive in and find some starting point.

I had no lab partner. I grabbed a breadboard and stuck leads and resistors in the little holes to match the circuit I'd pre-designed. I was determined to look extra confident to make up for my feelings of inadequacy, because there was something about confidence that seemed to play into this. If I was smart, and confidence was the only difference between me and all those guys, I could make up for that.

Another student came up to me, and said his partner had dropped the class too, can we team up? I said sure.

He looked at my lab notes and nodded and said "Finally... it'll be nice to have somebody who knows what they're doing."

The class dwindled to 16 by the end of the semester. In four years, I would graduate with 12 people in that small electronics program. Somewhere along the way we got another girl who transferred in. We ended up being friends and partnered together for senior design.

It was a groundbreaking year that had never happened before: two of us.

Good thing I stayed.

stopping cold

My six-year old loves little Shopkins toys, and on the package it says to go to the shopkinsworld website for more fun and excitement. She really wanted to go. The site pointed to apps and games so we downloaded Shopkins Chef club. It was a fun game where shopkins fall into a bowl and you try to connect identical ones with lines and they blow up and more fall and you see how many you can get in a minute. She'd play, then I'd take a turn, then we'd run out of lives for the hour and go do something else.

I started figuring things out about the game, so before she woke up I'd play a few rounds on the ipad and win her some coins to get better helper virtual shopkins. Then I realized if I had it on my phone it was the same account and I could play over lunch too... one thing lead to another, after a couple weeks of this we had something like four million coins, I'd paid something like $18 for game upgrades, I like buying game upgrades because I think developers deserve something back when they provide some fun for us, and then I figure I HAVE to keep playing because hey we paid for it.

One morning, I'd earned enough gems to get a super ultra rare crazy grand power shopkin or whatever, an occurrence that happens about once a week. I traded my gems for the shopkin and shut my phone off. Checked in later, the gems were gone but the shopkin wasn't there. Game bug.

I was mad so I uninstalled it from my phone. Just quit playing cold like that.

It was awesome.

I didn't miss it at all.

It's made me think about what else I could just quit.

Do you ever look around your house and see too much stuff in it and fantasize about torching it all and walking away?

I wonder if I'd miss pokemon if I quit playing. I met some nice friends through that game. It gives me something to do in checkout lines. But it is something I log into every day. I think I am concerned about the things I log into every single day, maybe that's the line when something is unhealthy.

Maybe I should be one of those religions that gives things up for lent, like chocolate or coffee or phone games. When I am into religion I'm really into religion. It's the nerd brain mentality, we are light switches, no in between. What else should I be quitting, that's my question of the week now.

hungry hippos party

We had a grownup party last weekend! Well, relatively. Gist is that a looong time ago when we lived downtown and threw fab parties all the time we had a hungry hippos tournament. It was unforgettable and a blast. People moved around and visited and got to know each other and had a great time. Then we started having babies and our parties became birthdays for our kids, which attracts a different crowd, and the older Josie gets the more her parties become HER parties. Parents we've never met show up, drop their kids up, show up two hours later and I would never recognize anyone in the family if I saw them at a store.

So we had our second hungry hippos tournament.

How we do this:

1) Set our three game boards on different tables. I wish we were more spread out, there had to be two tables in the living room.

2) Give everyone a scorecard with a matrix - you have to play every hippo at every table. But here's the crazy part: after every game, you have to get up and switch tables. No sitting at the same table talking to the same people.

3) Record total number of marbles. Then the highest scores got into a double elimination tournament - still four players at a time but every game had two winners and two losers, until the end sudden death one winner.

4) You know one way to know you're old? When the accountant at the party checks everybody's addition and ranks the round robin scores.

5) Winner wins his or her own hungry hippos game.

Here are some lessons learned and takeaways:

1) ZOMG you guys, I'm getting old and my friends are now OLD. You know how I can tell? Because I said the party started at 6pm, and everybody SHOWED UP AT 6PM. It was the weirdest thing I've ever seen. Then they were ON IT and knocked out their scorecards way too fast. Not enough mingling, it was practically action-oriented!

2) A hungry hippos game comes with 20 marbles. Replacement marbles are not a thing you can buy, apparently. I feel like this is bullshit disposable culture. But whatever... I think a good solution would be to have some reserve marbles set aside, and play every game with 16 marbles. Just get your mind into thinking you need 16, then when you're down one it's not the end of the world.

3) After the tournament a lot of people bailed but a few of us stayed after and played some other games, so I am glad we have other games.

There was a great cross-section of people and since we haven't had friends over in forever, a lot of them had never been over before and didn't know each other but still got along. Marc had some friends from his work over, I did not have work friends, it's harder to have work friends as a manager I'm noticing. I straight up won't facebook anybody in my chain and everybody at my same level is a workaholic with no time for friends. Fine with me. I invited other friends... from my pokemon team, the makerspace, church, we were covered.

Must do this again, at least once a year if not more. I like game nights. We have dinners with people now a lot too but a big party kind of ties them all together and it was something to look forward to and get the house cleaned for.

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spring parent-teacher conference

We had parent-teacher conferences last week and I figured I'd put down the interesting notes.

First off of course Josie is brilliant and above average and her teacher wishes she had a whole class of Josies. This is funny for me to hear because if I had a house full of stubborn Josies I'd go insane.

What should she be reading, I asked. We get these Junie B. Jones chapter books about cupcakes or whatever and she's not that interested, is that because she's not ready? Apparently not. She is past the level of the cupcake books... the reading group she's in will be tackling Charlotte's Web. Advice: don't get "chapter books" just because they're "chapter books", some of them aren't that good. Some children's picture books are better written and more advanced than chapter books. Get GOOD books. Reading level is not correlated to how many pages a book has.

To me, Josie seems to get easily frustrated, but her teacher says her perseverance is above average for a six year old. My expectations are too high.

On the other hand when it comes to communication I have some expectations that aren't high enough. I ask what josie learned she said "I don't know". Her teacher said, "Don't ACCEPT THAT!" In class, when a kid is asked a question she has to answer in a complete sentence of at least seven words. This teacher loves asking kids questions. In fact she says she never gives answers. Everything is questions and getting there yourself. If a kid asks her a question, she asks a question right back.

They do a lot of group work. Sometimes she puts Josie in any group and she just has the best ideas and the others go along with her. Frequently the teacher puts her in a group with another strong kid so they butt heads and have to work together and she says that's always fun to watch, it's a serious challenge. Just depends on the day and the assignments and what's going on.

I asked a lot of questions about math, and in explaining what they're doing the teacher got a little nervous and said "I don't know how you feel about common core..." I said I loved common core. She was like "Oh AWESOME okay here's how cool this is, see a 13 is a ten and a three and we break down everything to find the tens and this really freaks some parents out because they don't know why we're doing this breakdown..." Then she showed me more assignments and told me a lot more about what they're doing. She didn't say it, but it's like she's afraid to show the diagrams because someone will say "IS THIS THAT COMMON CORE BS?" and it gets all political.

Parents get freaked out seeing things that they haven't seen. Marc said it best: he wants to tell those parents "Just because you're a dumbass doesn't mean your kid has to be."

I told the teacher about this interesting conversation I'd had with Josie. Josie asked when she was born. I asked how old she'd be this year... she knew seven. What year is it... she knew 2017. What's 2017 minus seven? blank. What's 17 minus seven? 10! So what's 2017 minus seven? blank.

She's not there yet. Her teacher said these kids are learning tens but hundreds... totally big. Thousands? Way out there! But they will get there, it's okay, and still cool to talk about. Don't get nervous.

She's getting along with other kids. Here's a weird thing... I have friends whose kids are first graders and they come home with stories about DRAMA and bullying and mean kids, even in the first grade! Josie does not come home with those stories. Is it because she doesn't notice? Is she the one BEING mean? that's my real concern. This teacher said she just does not allow it in her class at all. Doesn't happen. I'm still skeptical and concerned because school can be weird.

Anyway, it sounds like I can bug my kid to get more information out of her and ask questions and have lots of conversations because there's a lot going on in her head, I just need to keep getting it out.
I was at the SWE regional conference last weekend, and talking with someone about women's networking groups at big corporations. She shared an idea with me that I just really want to remember so here it is, paraphrased.

This year our Employee Resource Group (ERG) really hit its stride because we had both grassroots enthusiasts and upper management support at the same time.

That’s never happened before; it was always one or the other. Some years it was all top down: VPs wanted a group to happen, but as soon as there was a re-org or the end of the year goal came to a close the group fizzled out. Other years it was all grassroots efforts with no senior leadership team participation and we had a hard time growing the group. Everyone was “too busy” to come to the meetings. I now think that “too busy” is a code for “people will question my value and priorities if I attend a development program”.

When senior leaders took the time to support what the grassroots enthusiasts were doing by attending events and directly helping with publicity, it sent a message that taking time for these employee development programs was important. If the busiest people in the company can take a whole hour to go to a diversity group meeting 4-6 times a year, nobody is too busy.

gofundme funerals

Gofundme always makes me think. Do you ever just go browse around? It's overwhelming.

It's pretty darn obvious that we need a health insurance system in the US that can cover more people. Obvious catch-22 there. When you're really sick you can't work and we all get health insurance through our work. But I digress...

What I'm thinking about are the other gofundme campaigns that could have been eliminated with other, less expensive insurance. Two main types:

1) House fire - need to replace my things, was not carrying renters insurance.
2) Sudden death - need to pay for a funeral, no life insurance.

For young people, renters insurance and life insurance are both frequently $20 a month or less... less than what you pay for internet. Yes I know there are people who can't afford $20 a month, but there are a lot of people who CAN afford $20 a month, but don't have $15,000 for a funeral, that's the intersection I'm thinking about here.

Accidents happen. Actually they happen a lot, the umbrella "accidents" term tends to rank in the top 5 of leading causes of death. Car accidents, drowning, fire, intoxication, falls, can happen to anyone at any age without warning.

When I was a teenager I remember my parents mentioning that they had life insurance on ME. I was surprised and a little sad that they thought I might die, but they assured me they were pretty darn sure I was not going to die, this is just a thing people do because life insurance for kids is really cheap and it's smart and logical to admit that there's a small chance. Take your emotions out of it, think with your head, and admit that we are all mortal.

Oh but back to the gofundme campaigns. Here are questions in my head. Obviously another system isn't working well because a lot of people are not paying attention to what basic insurance they should have.

If you were in charge of the world, would you just use tax dollars to pay for funerals and house fires? Is it better to be public? How do you draw the line between caring for people, and expecting them to notice these things?

In college I complained about professors who gave us insane tests, and then when everybody failed they accused the WHOLE class of not working hard. Especially in 400 and up level classes where obviously we'd been through some crap to get here, we have proven our competence. If everyone fails the problem is your test, man!

Low cost easy insurance is something that people all over the place are ignoring. Is it a bad system?
I wrote about the women's march and this comment from ali_highland deserved more of a response. It was about who was and was not joining the march...

Trump is creating many refugees from the Christian right, people willing to step away from the traditions of their community and families and willing to oppose this new regime, even to take to the streets. Instead of being welcomed on this first part of their journey they were rejected. We need their support. They need to feel accepted as they start their journey.


This is a complicated topic... intersectionality, unity and inclusion. So I will try to just get my thoughts out in an open letter.

Dear straight white upper-middle class Christian feminist,

I am writing this letter because I want you to join us. Feminism is for everyone. Feminism needs everyone. I too am an straight white upper-middle class Christian feminist who used to be a pro-life conservative.

Feminists are opinionated. We want to be heard. No one joins this movement to stay quiet. When I started noticing things in my world I wanted to change, I had a lot to say.

In being loud, I was called out a few times for saying things that were ignorant, classist, or racist. At first I was REALLY offended. Don't these feminists want me in their movement? How can they try to tell me to be quiet and listen when the movement itself is about not being quiet?

Then I learned that feminism has had many moments in history that we are not proud of, because we were classist or racist or just totally marginalized other minorities. The women's rights organizations of the past were run by straight white rich women. Why? Because straight white rich people run everything. What do the vast majority of our US presidents have in common? Our CEOs?

When we privileged folks follow tradition and jump up to the top we run the risk of ignoring people on the fringes. No wait let me rephrase... we WILL ignore people on the fringes. We're programmed. We'll tell them to be quiet in the name of "unity" so we can save face, but in doing that we miss stories. Minorities do not go a day without hearing what the privileged have to say, they don't have the luxury of ignoring our voices. But we can and have ignored them.

So there's this idea called intersectional feminism where we are trying to step back and put on our listening ears and ask ourselves what historically underprivileged voices we have missed. Listening is more educational and much more important than, say, telling everyone you know everything and MUST BE HEARD NOW.

Let's talk about reproductive issues. So you want to be a pro-life feminist... have you ever faced an unplanned pregnancy? Has your family ever been unable to support you if life took a turn? Have you ever been without health care? Have you ever been unable to access to birth control? Have you had a pregnancy where your fetus was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor or fatal chromosomal abnormality?

If you answered no to a few of these questions, you have been privileged. You're missing some experiences. I am suggesting that you hear some of those stories from women who've had abortions.

One great way to listen is to just be present. Maybe you can't carry the sign you wanted to carry because you're at odds with some part of our movement... instead of taking your rejected sign and going home, sit back, give us a few marches, do some reading, question yourself.

In your journey you will feel called out sometimes. That's good. It means you're out of your comfort zone. If you're like me, your first reaction might be to try and defend yourself, tell us you KNOW what is right. Ask yourself how you KNOW. You might find that your isolated experiences need to be challenged. I did. I'm still learning, I'm not perfect, but I'm committed to keep listening.

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the friday five - meds

1. Do you take any daily prescription medications?
nope.

2. Do you take any daily OTC (over the counter) medications?
I'm taking some allergy meds now. We've had some unseasonably warm weather lately and it made me sniffy and I blame nature. This always happens in Kansas, some gutsy trees are like "SPRING NOW? YAAAAY!" then we get some march/april ice storm and that'll teach 'em.

3. Do you take vitamins?
nope. I did when I was pregnant, but now that it's just me I'm sure this steady diet of coffee and quiktrip roller grill taquitos will suffice.

4. When you are sick, do you take OTC remedies or immediately go to your doctor?
OTC. In my desk at work I have a steady supply of zinc and vitamin C lozenges for the occasional cold.

5. Do you take aspirin?
for headaches, which I get rarely, maybe once or twice a month.

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1) Don't apologize. Every online community has serious attrition losses, if we got "mad" at everyone who started posting on a website and then stopped we'd 1) lose our minds and 2) obviously have WAY too much time on our hands. So you don't owe the world anything. Writing your excuses and explaining how it'll all change and feeling guilty for not being better... all a waste of energy.

2) Post up some short ideas. This place is not an essay for grade school, not every entry needs an introduction, three body paragraphs and conclusion. A few sentences can be enough.

3) Schedule your entries out into the future. Nearly all of my entries are scheduled posts, obviously I do not take time at 10AM on a weekday to write in livejournal but it's a nice time to get readers and comments. I get a warm fuzzy knowing that I've got entries set up for a week of posting every 2-3 days and it takes the pressure off of me having to write something TODAY. When I look at my journal and I've had a regular cadence of posts I'm proud of myself and think well hey, this isn't too hard to keep going.

4) Have a place, on your phone or a notepad, to make a note of topics for entries you'd like to write about later. When I do have time to sit down and blog it'll often involve tackling 3-4 things that have been on my mind.

5) Make sure your community is alive. Here are my tips. Commenting and seeing what other people are writing about will inspire you.

6) You're doing great. Writing is good for you. Do it!

four syllable words for six year old girls

Here's these conversations I have with my kiddo about her ever increasing vocabulary.

Josie: "We can wear tank tops to school, but the straps have to be at least three fingers wide."

Me: "That sounds like a good rule. They probably want you covered so you're not cold while you're trying to learn."

Josie: "No. It's because they're not appropriate for school."

Me: "That's a big word, do you even know what appropriate means?"

Josie: "It's when you just shouldn't do something."

Me: "Okay. I have rules at work for what I can wear too, there's lots of reasons, we won't worry about it."

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Josie: "I'm ready for gymnastics!"

Me: "Okay have fun! Before you go... do you know what's the most important thing to have for gymnastics?"

Josie: "What?"

Me: "You need to keep trying things even if they're hard. You can't give up. You need... perseverance! Do you know what perseverance is?"

Josie: "Nope."

Me: "Have you ever heard of perseverance?"

Josie: "Nope."

Me: "Okay, well... it's a lot more important than appropriate."

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I accidently followed a right-winger on pinterest, yes there are anti-feminists even on a site that's mostly about crafts. But it's okay because I get to see what the big freaking issue apparently is with feminism. And I've heard this before, but it boils down to stuff like this...



Feminists are wastes because they stick up for American women, who've got it great. They're obviously self-absorbed whiners.

Years ago I when I was going to tons of gay rights protests, a guy asked me why I was interested in this crap that has nothing to do with me. Don't I have better things to do? Lack of gay marriage wasn't hurting me, I'm just being noisy for nothing. Then later I heard him complain that feminists were self-absorbed because we were only standing up for ourselves. Well make up your mind dude! It became immediately obvious to me that he didn't care what I was standing up for, he just thought I should be sitting down.

The other side of that coin is that there are things worth fighting for, and that's feminism in 3rd world countries, and apparently western feminists are totally ignoring all those places in favor of ourselves.

First I'd like to challenge anti-feminists to go to an actual feminist website to see what they're talking about. This week Feministing covered sexual assaults in bangalore and one of the first stories on Ms is Taiwan's election of their first woman president... are they perfect and including all cultures? Probably not. But if you still think we're missing world news, well start your own feminist website. Show us how it's done. There's not a card-issuing feminist clearinghouse you have to go through first.

Here's the thing you need to understand about feminism: our goal is to fix the BIG UNDERLYING issues that cause imbalanced power structures. Anti-feminists say that when there's a rape, you throw the rapist in jail, problem solved. We don't need a movement. Feminists say that if we publicly drag a victim's name through the mud for reporting the crime then award stupidly short sentences to rich white boys in return, we're discouraging other victims from coming forward, making it harder to put every rapist in jail, so the problem is not simple to solve. We see a case where patriarchy has widespread implications. Then you go to another country where they're honor killing their rape victims and that's another more extreme form of rape culture, we immediately see it for what it is and know that they are also not trying to end rape. We don't ignore the US college student just because she was bullied on facebook after her rape instead of publicly murdered, we use all of those stories to see how patriarchy manifests itself. Every story is worth talking about. Some need addressed with more resources and swifter consequences, but no one should be told "your story doesn't matter because you aren't first in the oppression olympics".

Every story needs heard. We are not wasting our time by recognizing the fact that cat-calling, media images, and equal pay are a symptom of a bigger problems. We look at everything.

THEN, we prioritize. Which brings me to my next point...

What exactly are anti-feminists doing to prevent acid attacks against schoolgirls? What are they doing to ensure maternal care to prevent or repair fistulas? I am willing to bet I'm out-donating you on these specific issues. Name a problem women are facing in Jordan and I'll tell you how I'm "ignoring" it because I'm a mainstream American feminist. I'm capable of looking at several things at once. I am supporting organizations that release political prisoners, shelter refugees, provide medical care to the hungry. I'm a feminist. If you're amazed by this, I bet you got your definitions from an anti-feminist website. Try talking to an actual feminist before you post up your problems with "all these feminists".

You're not fixing any problem or coming up with solutions, you just don't like me talking. Admit it. Your distaste for feminism has nothing to do with your concern for child brides in Yemen. Good luck ending the world's problems one woman at a time without ever asking greater questions about underlying issues because you don't believe in feminism. Let me know how it goes for you.

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biking!

We are having an oddly warm weekend.

I bought Josie a new (to her) bike yesterday. It was a bit of a random splurge but her bike that we bought her for her fourth birthday is CLEARLY too small, even towards the end of last summer she looked funny riding it. This weekend I wanted to ride, so on a whim we just went to bicycle exchange and got a used trek. privileged kid.

The guy at the bike shop was chatty so it took a while but it was a good trip. Her new bike has a kickstand, she'd never encountered it before! He said "Let me guess... her other bike had training wheels? Some big box store brand?" He was right on both counts! He said "Those cheap bikes never come with kickstands because they don't think you'll take the training wheels off, just figure you'll throw it away. I hate disposable culture."

She tried a 24" and it was comically big and she almost fell off and killed herself so I settled on the 20" that has a little growing room, I had wanted to get the biggest one possible because the kid seems to grow REALLY fast but this size should last a little while, and she can easily ride it now, and it still has a coaster brake that she's used to.

My bike has been spiffed up lately. A nice fellow makerspace member helped me fix my shifter. It had been shifting rough and finally just quit. I thought it was cable tension so I was watching all kinds of youtube videos about fixing derailleurs, but I failed at everything and asked for help. It was not the derailleur, or the cables, it was the shift assembly on the handlebar that was all gummed up. He took it apart, cleaned and greased it up, and now I can shift! I don't need to shift much riding around on roads in Wichita Kansas, but certain gears need to work, and now I can get there. Taking apart a shifter is not something I should have tackled myself, he was really in the zone about it, he also said people frequently just replace them because they're not that expensive.

I also got new tires. I told the bike shop "I have a mountain bike, but I never ride on mountains. I've heard there's better tires for that." There are! I am enjoying a much smoother easier ride.

Josie was so happy on her new bike she was singing. We went on a ride, then met Marc and Olive at a neighbor friend's house for dinner, then biked back home.

Josie's old bike needs new tires now too, it's crap, and I'm going to put training wheels on it for Olive. I'm not sure she's ready, she has a tricycle that she manages to fall off of. I KNOW. But someday she'll get it, and we will be quite the biker gang.

the family baby

a long time ago I was pregnant and I also had an almost-three year old spacekid to chase around. she was getting heavy, I was getting heavy, and one day she ran to me to be picked up and I felt something bad happen in my back and had to put her down right away, and I announced okay, you are no longer being picked up. SORRY.

flash forward. I am not pregnant. I have a six year old and an almost FOUR year old, and said four year old still insists on being picked up and carried around on a regular basis. this kid is heavy. Louis C.K. described his toddler as "tiny, but she has the density of a dying sun."

I say "I can't pick you up you're too heavy." And she says in her cutest voice, "But I'm really small, mama." then she stands there stubbornly, and her big sister is getting impatient, I'm getting impatient, I'm like okay fine whatever and I pick her up or if we're really trekking give her a piggy pack ride.

This post really has no point except to say younger kids totally get away with so much more craziness because there's nothing really forcing them to grow up.

Also I gotta be strong and stand my ground, officially cut this kid off. Also make her stop sucking her thumb. Somehow.

2016 movies

The friday five this week reveals how little I go out to the movies.

1) Do you try to see all the nominees for Best Picture each year before the Academy Awards show?

Obviously not, as I had to google who the nominees even were. For the record they are:
  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Moonlight


2) How many of this year’s nine Best Picture nominees have you seen so far?
I have seen Hidden Figures. It was great.

3) Of those nominated films you’ve seen, which is your favorite?
Hidden Figures.

4) Is your favorite the same as the film you think is actually the “best picture”?
Still Hidden Figures.

5) Which film do you think will win Best Picture?
Hidden Figures.

I thought Hidden Figures was amazing for several reasons. First, science movie about going to space, I love being amazed by the ancient technology that somehow got us to the moon. Second, let us never forget all the complete and total bullcrap we have put people through because their skin was a different color. Race was an even bigger issue than sex seemed to be in this movie, especially evident when white women were absolutely no help. It was sad. Go see it. Take your daughters.

Speaking of movies I googled the top-grossing of 2016 and here is my quick list of other movies I somehow saw this year. Lots of kids stuff, because my life. This is literally every single movie from the 2016 list that I have seen, that should tell you how often I watch a new movie, of the hundreds of movies released this year I got around to nine.

Star Wars Rogue 1 - Loved it, surprisingly worthy of my time, would see again.

Finding Dory - Not bad.

Zootopia - Really happy this is in our rotation now, it's deep!

Trolls - Puts my kids in a happy mood. Not deep.

Ghostbusters - AKA Feminist Ghostbusters. I thought it was delightful but it's hard to outdo the original. Several times a week my melissa mccarthy inner voice says "Kevin? I'm gonna have to ask you to try a little harder."

Kubo and the Two Strings - Pretty but not as good as I'd hoped at all. Really just pretty. The plot could have used some of those disney writers from Zootopia to add some interesting characters, I am not interested in stories where one side is pure good and the other is pure evil and they have a swordfight in a thunderstorm. Seen it.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - Tina Fey was good in this. I thought it was a very interesting film.

Keanu - About a kitten. I didn't like the ending but it made for a decent date night movie with funny moments.

Zoolander 2 - I only saw part of this but it was awful. AWFUL. Let it burn away forever. WHYYYY BEN STILLER WHYYYY.

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I found this nice list of studies showing the benefits of writing, or as we do it, typing: The Research Is In: Writing Makes You Happier. I have always felt like livejournal was good for me, that's why I keep coming back even if fell away for a bit. It's like reading, exercising, being outside... I like the overall affect it has on me. I feel like a flower that's getting sunlight and water.

And unlike working out, I can write for five minutes here and there and eventually a whole entry comes together about some feeling, I don't have to dedicate 30 minutes at a time, don't have to wear special clothes.

Reasons I particularly related to:

1) When you write about your activities you want the complete story of them to include the reasons why you did them, and thinking back on those reasons makes them more valuable. You're reminded of the "what's it all about".

2) Writing organizes your thoughts. You're not as likely to stumble through finding the words if you force yourself to sit down and make the words. When we speak, everything is so fluid you're never forced to put the whole puzzle together like we do when we write.

3) Writing complicated thoughts gets them out of your head. Your mind doesn't have to mull them over and over, they're in a neat little box, you can move on to other things.

4) The memories stick better. This is one thing I really love about LJ, having these records of finishing my masters, meeting my husband, having babies.

5) Finally, if your words are out there leaving an impact on people, it's gratifying. Maybe some part of my story is helping some friend? Just the chance of that happening is motivating, and I bet it has happened, and that makes me happy.

So that's why I keep wanting to make livejournal a priority. Yes I'm busy, but I can cope with being busy if I'm in a good mental place. Writing it all down helps me get there.

cabaret

It seems like after the election someone asked why I wasn't posting more post-election feelings, and the answer was I just couldn't, but...

I keep thinking about Cabaret. I'd never seen it until 2014 when my friend dragged me to NYC to see it on broadway, and it was shocking, then I saw the movie from 1972 and it's also very good.

Anyway, check it out if you've never seen it because lately it reminds me of the country. We're sitting around eating in restaurants and having fun friend drama and all these weird sneaky little things keep happening in the background... more nazis here or there, the right getting bolder... songs, demonstrations, arrests.

Sometimes I won't blog about politics for weeks because I can't deal but it's very much in my head.

I think about Alan Kurdi a lot. I close my eyes and see him on the beach, a drowned little boy the same age as my baby, it haunts me. I donate to the IRC.

I think, maybe nothing matters, because Obama also didn't save the drowning syrian refugees.

But he didn't all out hate them so much either. With the immigration ban it's almost like we're saying they deserve it, because they're from Syria, and now you just straight up can't come in here if you're a refugee from Syria.

My family came here from Germany to escape the Kaiser in the 1920s. I've always thought about what a big move that was, leaving everything behind, because your country is so bad. Now I'm just wondering why they were given a place to go, but now we can't do the same for other families because we think they might be terrorists?

At the end of the musical, this latest revival, the master of ceremonies reveals a concentration camp uniform, and he says...

Leave you troubles outside.
So - life is disappointing? Forget it.
We have no troubles here.


and in my head I knew "here" was where I was sitting.

Here life is beautiful...
The girls are beautiful...
Even the orchestra is beautiful!


I keep thinking that the ocean is beautiful.

we have no troubles here.

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coin wells

you know something that makes me really happy? coin wells.

those things where you can put a penny on a track to set it up, and it goes around and around and around and around until plink, down through the center hole.



There's one at third planet in the mall, and there's one in the entryway to our science museum exploration place.

here's the best thing...

1) get a pile of pennies
2) go to exploration place on a pretty crowded day
3) hand a penny to a random kid standing by the coin well
4) hand another penny to another random kid
5) that's all it takes, kids notice and pull in and you stand aside and they're coming to you for pennies until you are out, and they're surprisingly understanding if you announce that the end is near. it takes a while to run out. usually the reason I stop handing them out isn't supply, it's some other poor mom is trying to get her kid out of there and here's this crazy lady handing all the kids pennies and they're watching them all spin around and around and it's not helping, so I pretend say I'm out, then start back up again when they're gone.

all the kids are excited and the pennies are zooming around and they're happy and you're happy.

something about centrifugal forces or momentum or science.

the best things in life aren't always free, sometimes they're 20 or 30 cents.

pets

I can answer thefridayfive any day I want. This week it was questions about pets.

How many pets have you had at one time?
We had four guinea pigs and a dog. And a baby, if you count that! Unfortunately the lifespan of guinea pigs leaves something to be desired so we currently only have one guinea pig and our dog.

What is the strangest pet you have ever had?
When I was in high school my parakeets had a baby that I named Agamemnon because I thought he'd really need warrior strength to survive. He did! But during that baby phase... definitely looked like an alien.

What is the coolest trick you have ever taught a pet?
That's a struggle. I consider it a huge accomplishment that my dog kinda sits for treats and to get her leash on for walks, and she's not even so great at that. The guinea pigs give zero fucks about tricks. I even tried playing with a laser pointer in their cage once, they went over and sniffed the dot and declared "not food" and went back to their pigloos to nap.

Real animals: What animal have you always wanted as a pet?
Marc wants a hedgehog. I'm lukewarm on the idea.

Imaginary animals: Describe the ideal pet, an animal that doesn't really exist.
A dog that doesn't have to poop might actually be the ideal pet. I really like dogs. They love us, they're excited about just about anything.

Runner up to that would be a guinea pig that cares about people. One friend of mine said that herbivores know "we're not on the same side". Pugsly, our current guinea pig, is interested in our activities and kinda likes to be petted, but doesn't run out to see us, doesn't follow us around if left out like the dog does.

There's so many cute fuzzy animals that could use more dog tendencies, that's what I'm saying.

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pro-life feminists

There's been some scuttle this week in my forum over the fact that the women's march was a lot of pro-choice groups and pro-lifers felt left out. As a pro-choice person I see no problem with this but I will admit there was a time, mostly before I'd had two pregnancies of my own, when I too wondered if you could be pro-life and a feminist.

What changed me? Well, I moved to a city where anti-abortion protesters uses stolen images of bombed babies to plaster on trucks and drive around town, that definitely made me want to be on the opposite side. I also realized that regardless of how I felt about abortion there was one important question: do I want it to be illegal. Plenty of pro-choice people want abortion to be more rare. Some of the biggest pro-choice organizations out there are also increasing access to birth control, which is not a pro-abortion thing to do. Abortion rates decreased during the Obama administration. So when it comes to picking a side, there is pro-choice and anti-choice. Saying "I want abortion to be legal I just want everyone to feel bad about it" doesn't mean anything.

So let's say you want it to be illegal, but you're still a feminist... I guess I just have some questions.

Do you truly believe that a zygote is a human? What about an embryo? If you don't, then you believe abortion should be legal for almost the whole first trimester... genuine pro-lifers are not on your side here you realize.

Do you think we should make exceptions for rape victims? Does the victim have to get her attacker convicted, do we have to wait until the sentence is given out so she's got "proof"? That usually takes longer than a pregnancy, and a lot of victims don't want to come forward because we do such a nice job of raking their names through the mud, will you just trust women in this situation?

Given the fact that miscarriages are so common, especially in early weeks, how will you test whether a woman had an abortion or a miscarriage? Or is it okay with you when a woman is sent to jail for a miscarriage? Does that seem "feminist" to you?

Do you think families should be allowed to terminate a pregnancy if a fetal abnormality is detected, or should a court should force a family to carry a child to term only to have it face a hard, short life? I personally think that's really cruel, are you going to force that on people?

Do you know that families learn about these situations at their 20-week anatomy scans? So all-out bans on abortion after 20 weeks limits their choices at the worst possible time?

Should abortion be legal at any time if the health of the mother is at risk? Will you set up a court to hear these cases or just trust women and their doctors? When a woman finds out late in pregnancy that she's in danger, time is very short. Will you let a few die so we don't err on the side of too many abortions?

Did you know that there aren't doctors who provide late-term abortions for no reasons, so your concerns about women skipping down to the abortion clinic in month 8 because they're bored are totally unfounded?

Where, pro-life person, are you wanting to draw this line? How do you think this will play out in a way that doesn't traumatize, hurt, or kill women?

I guess if you can answer those questions you can be a pro-life feminist.

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