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beat up meetings

Goal: next time I'm called into a surprise beat-up meeting over missed deadlines I will...

1) Listen carefully
2) Ask questions about the downstream consequences about not meeting our dates
3) Communicate what can be done
4) Communicate recent successes, both to give everyone a feel for the realistic pace of what's going on, and to make sure the things we have accomplished are what the program really needs
5) Say, "I don't have a great status on X, but with this information you've told me I'd like to check with the team and report back."
6) Offer peace amidst the storms

I will not do these things, which seem to be my autopilot brain go-to moves:

1) Get defensive
2) Say nothing
3) Loudly declare that these dates were unachievable crap from the beginning and everybody knew it
4) Stand up and storm out

I know. I've tested all of these. Extensively. I'm awesome.


new year!

Yesterday we took the girls to a market on south pawnee to see lion dancers for lunar new year, which trended on twitter as chinese new year, but I personally don't know any chinese people. There are tons of Vietnamese in Wichita, especially among the engineers I work with. People with the surname "smith" are actually outnumbered by those with the surname "nguyen". So at work I heard people call it the Vietnamese New Year, you just let your most closely associated Asian country claim it?

Anyway every year St. Anthony's Lion & Dragon Dance Team makes the rounds and thanks to the internet we can now see where they'll be performing and go see them and it's wonderful. Josie loved it. Olive thought she'd love it, based on youtube videos, she was getting ready and told us "I'm going to dance with the monster and pet its face!" but once the dancing and firecrackers started she was not as excited about it.

Although once again... still not sure how Josie's mental processes work, because she is still scared of sports mascots, but these bright shiny lions with drums running up to her face are neat.

She drew this picture:

And here is Olive, not looking as thrilled as we thought she'd look:

The dancers set their costumes down after the performance for photos, and then she got to pet the faces and bragged about it and thought it was just fantastic.

Final note: Josie has been bringing her big stuffed totoro everywhere with her lately, and marc let her bring it to see the dancers, I told her to leave it in the car but Marc wouldn't back me up and I thought it was super awkward that Josie wanted to bring Totoro because it'd make us look like ignorant white people who wanted to turn anything asian into an anime-fest. Marc didn't see it, he's like what, totoro is a normal kid thing, you're overthinking. So that was awkward. And part of the reason I took Olive to another area so we'd be away from them. I should have put my foot down but then I'd be pretending to be some kind of cultural appropriation expert which I am not. Parenting disagreement. Okay, it's done.

banned book 2: Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Drama by Raina Telgemeier got to be Book 2 on my year of reading banned books. The order I am reading them is based on availability at my public library. Luckily this book was readily available, in the childrens section. It's a graphic novel. That's the other reason I wanted to read it, apparently this graphic novel genre has become quite the thing and I have never read one.

Basic story: Callie is a 7th grade girl who loves working on the stage crew for her school's theater department. She's got mad skills in set design. She also gets crushes on boys, befriends new kids, has victories and defeats, stays true to herself and her friends.

If I was a middle schooler I'd like this book, it's cute. I like that Callie throws herself into things she's passionate about, like many theater kids, her creativity is an outlet when the middle school drama is illogical.

As an adult I wouldn't call this book a must-read. It doesn't have any huge life lessons. I had a hard time keeping track of the characters, that's my only criticism. But the book is good for kids and graphic novels seem like a fun, easy way for them to get excited about reading. The author has also done graphic versions of babysitters club books - that's about the intellectual level we're talking about here, light stories about kids getting crushes on each other, getting in fights and making up with friends, that's it.

I was confused about why this book is on the banned books list. It has a gay character and at one point he kisses a boy, in another scene he sits on the steps with a boy he has a crush on and they talk to each other. Callie kisses a boy - and also stops a boy from kissing her in an awesome "she's smart and independent" scene that I love. Sex is not even mentioned. The characters are theater nerds: they work on stagecrew design issues and go to bookstores together. So I wasn't sure why it got banned... is it just that there's a gay character?

Amazon 1-star reviews reveal that YUP, it's because there is a gay character! These are great, guys:


Apparently people are shocked that a book marketed towards 5th graders contains boys who have crushes on other boys, several reviewers say that kids are not ready to handle this "mature" topic.

Heterosexual dating is okay, but same-sex relationships require more maturity.

In a way I guess I agree with them, since my whole life I've thought that people who accepted same-sex relationships were indeed a lot more mature than people who were squicked out by them. But "maturity" in that sense has nothing to do with age. I promise, the only 5th graders who can't handle this topic are the ones with over-conservative parents.

Maybe that's the problem - this book features characters who are more mature than the morons on amazon reviewing the book. Gay people just show up as part of the normal population and there's no controversy, the school isn't struck down like sodam and gomorrah, stop the presses! To me, it's exactly how I like to see diversity portrayed... minorities living their lives. The most notable thing about the gay kid isn't that he's gay, it's that he's really talented, that's what the story is about and that's what Callie admires about him. His sexual orientation is not an issue for her. The homosexual agenda in this book is just homosexuals existing. Pretty boring.

Conclusion: this book is shocking if you are from the 1940s or something, so today's 5th graders are going to be totally unaffected and just think it's fun.


How to delegate an assignment

1) Get title of assignment
2) Maybe ask a very simple question for clarification, like... what airplane model is this for?
3) Send to new guy
4) If you're afraid new guy can't handle it, maybe send it along with "my step 1 would be ____"
5) If you don't hear anything from new guy, go ask how it's going

How to NOT delegate an assignment

1) Get title of assignment
2) Ask ALL relevant questions in personal meetings with interested parties
3) Schedule 1-hour meeting with new guy
4) Present new guy with detailed list of all considerations, possible risks and pitfalls, based on your meetings and 20 years of experience
5) Smile and say "this is an opportunity for you"
6) If you don't hear anything from new guy, go to all other interested parties, gather more information, tell new guy you're just taking this one back after two days but you'll cc him on your emails.

In other words... the best way to delegate is to step back and depend on the other person to sort out the gaps. Do not sort out every single thing in your head and speed ten miles down the highway from the person you're trying to delegate to, shouting back, "Why aren't you wiiiiithhhhh meeeeee..."


wisdom teeth

My dentist says I have a cavity on my wisdom tooth and I just have to have them taken out.

I only have top wisdom teeth - the bottom ones never came in for whatever reasons. Not wise enough, I guess. So this wisdom teeth thing has always been a shadow because with no bottom ones to crunch against, the top ones are descending... they've always been kind of slowly falling out of my face. so my last dentist, who's now retired, was constantly telling me that the gaps caused by their descent would definitely lead to cavities and they'd definitely have to be taken out but I blew him off.

new dentist took x-rays, said "this will hurt you soon", we should definitely take them out.

I have two choices. the most common option to get wisdom teeth removed is to get totally knocked out, wake up and they're gone. you have to go to an oral surgeon to get this done. it sounds expensive to me... my health care deductible is jaw-dropping, and I have a special savings account for it but if I blow all the money that means I go back to pouring money into it, every paycheck, it's awful.

option 2: since mine are just the top ones, she said she could just numb me and pull them out, but it means i'll be awake and feeling all the pressure of having teeth pulled, hear any crunching, it's not for the squeamish.

to add to this decision, my dear husband marc has always been by my side, throughout our marriage, telling me that having his wisdom teeth out was one of the worst things that's ever happened to him. he got dry sockets, whatever that means. he was traumatized.

so, hell.

I'm going to ignore this news for at least a week.

the world needs joiners, too

Startup culture, entrepreneur culture, all great things. But sometimes I think we've gone overboard.

I am most likely to see it in the world of STEM diversity initiatives, as a diverse person in STEM who cares about advocacy, I feel like it happens all the time. I won't call out specific examples but egads, it's like every day, someone wakes up and says "we should start a program to reach out to kids and expose them to engineering and science opportunities!" and they start from scratch, a brand new...

website, facebook page, committee meeting time, blog, program, lighting talks session, coffee meetup, board of directors, grant proposal committee, team building retreat, brainstorming session, logo design, tshirt sales, mugs, pens, manifesto, mission statement, badge lanyard.

It's even better when their "newness" and "inspired initiative" gets them noticed by some other powerful CEO or government person and suddenly there's a executive sponsor too.

All this before they've actually done anything.

And the whole time, they could have just volunteered a few hours with an existing organization.

I had a breakdown about it a long time ago on a political campaign too. Back when I was a better gay rights activist, I can't tell you how many times I'd talk to people who'd say "Oh I totally agree with you on this issue, I just never feel like I hear anyone else saying it, the other side is so organized and we are not."

One day in a sunday school class I yelled, "You can't say we're not organized if you've never attended a single meeting of THE ORGANIZATION that is right in front of you!"

Maybe these established groups need help. They need leadership, the existing board is burnt out, they could use a new activity idea, they could use fresh connections.

Those are all reasons to join! Not start a new group.

And yes, you will have to attend some meetings and LISTEN and learn the old way first because maybe they won't take kindly to you "I'm the 23 year old who knows everything and is here to save you!" introduction at the first meeting. But you might learn some things by listening to. Maybe that thing that didn't work before is worth trying again, maybe it's not. You won't know unless you actually hear what they're saying.

So join a group.

Join an old engineering society... IEEE, SAE, AIAA, SWE, NSBE.

Want to share ideas? Join Toastmasters, it's like a mini-TED conference every week going on everywhere, without the "you have to be a millionaire" feeling of TED.

Join the rotary club. Join the optimist club. Join a church. Be old-fashioned.

Put your energy into harnessing people who are already there - they'll save you some recruiting work. You'll learn something.


Maybe you can't say you started the group, but you'll meet some amazing people who will all love and appreciate what you've done and see you as a leader, and that's huge.

And maybe you'll learn that your different idea is really different and needs a new group. That's okay too. The bright spots in those old organizations you joined might help you even - people will be behind you, since they know you, they'll vouch for you, it'll be even bigger.

Stop reinventing wheels and try being a joiner. Just try it. What do you have to lose?

Jan. 23rd, 2016

1) What celebrity death affected you the most (all time)?
I'd have to say Kurt Cobain, because I was 14, impressionable, shocked that a great artist would take his own life. It launched me into a whole phase of obsessing and researching deaths of artists. I read whole books about Van Gogh, I mourned Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix. To this day I'm still sad about mama cass elliot. I think she would have been a badass lady to follow on twitter.

I remember Carl Sagans death because adults around me were really affected by it, being 16 of course my reaction was "he was old" but oh no, he was 62. Way too young. Maybe that's a sign that I'm getting young. Anybody who doesn't make it to 80, I feel like they're robbed from us.

2) What celebrity couple were you happy to see together?
I just looked up an article on celebrity weddings of 2015 to find some inspiration for this answer and realized I haven't even heard of any of the people, oops. It was all... Bryan Greenberg and Jamie Chung! Allison Williams and Ricky Van Veen! Whitney Port and Tim Rosenman! Literally have no idea who these people are.

3) What celebrity couple breakup were you the most shocked by?
I liked susan sarandon and tim robbins a lot, they were so cool and activisty, so they might make the list.

4) You could replace your parents with two famous people, who would they be?
I like my parents, but my dad is always joking that I "should have picked my parents better" whenever we talk about people who are insanely rich or athletically talented, so hell might as well dream.

I'm going to go back in time and be the love child of Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash.

Or if I don't want to be older... Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka.

5) Do we spend too much time talking about celebrities?

It's said that great minds talk about ideas, good minds talk about events, small minds talk about people, or something... we can't be great all the time.

friday 5: talking to people

the friday 5 - thanks for giving me a reason to have a public entry! I've been slacking!

1. What makes it easy to talk to someone?
Hard to explain, but some people just project a sense of "I'm happy listening to you no matter what you're talking about, even if it's your dog hair furniture problems, some stupid show you're watching on netflix, your thoughts on brackets on the current vs. next line of an if statement." You get that feeling of non-judgement.

I would like to get better at that. I read lately that successful people all have the ability to draw out our conversations, they convey a sense of "I feel like I'm the only person in the room" to the person talking to them. I don't have that. I have focus issues and I bet people pick up on that.

I had a manager once who forced 1 on 1 meetings out of pure obligation, I could tell. He was a great guy, great at airplanes, but our meetings were awkward, I just felt like he was not interested in anything I had to say. As a consequence I had very few 1 on 1 meetings with my employees for a long time. I'm slowly learning there's a right way to do it though. I hope.

2. What percent of the day do you spend talking?
On my happy days? Like 10%.

3. Who, in your opinion communicates better: men or women?
Totally depends on the situation and content. I spend my days with men. There are times when I've got some issue that I just know they wouldn't care about or relate to.

Oh like yesterday! We were packing for a move, I was kind of crying in my office because I couldn't believe Alan Rickman died, all I could think about was Galaxy Quest. But I'd packed up my tissues! If I worked with women I would have come right out and said "I NEED A TISSUE!" and they would have thought it was hilarious. But the guys? No way! There is no crying in engineering, even over professor snape. So I used my clothes and snuck to the breakroom for paper towels and was quite uncomfortable.

On the other hand, unless I'm good friends with a woman I worry about what she's thinking behind the scenes. I worry less about what men are not saying, if that makes sense. My best girlfriends are the ones who say just what they think and I can tell they don't hold back.

Maybe that's because in elementary school the meanest kids to me were always girls, so I worry that those girls are still lurking around my life being super judgey, and sometimes I still do meet women that make me feel like I just don't fit in and I'm not cool, like we're still in high school and I'm the nerd. I've met fewer men who make me feel like that.

Also weirdness: women engineers never make me feel like that. It's an oddity I noticed about SWE and something I love about the group. Maybe because we're all nerds? I just find it very, very easy to talk to those women.

4. What topics do you avoid when talking to a stranger?
I'm very delicate about politics. My goal at work is for everyone at work to think I'm a moderate republican. I also do not talk much about my internet obsessions. I have a livejournal entry about the different answers I have for the "what do you do in your spare time?" question... my human answer is a very sanitized version of the truth so people will think I'm normal.

5. Do you like to eavesdrop on other people's conversations?
Oh good god yes it's the best! Who doesn't? It's all I can do to not butt in and give life advice.

2016 Resolutions

I love my annual new years resolution post. I love reflecting on the good things I accomplished last year, love dreaming up creative new ideas, everything about it makes me happy.

So here's what I resolved last year, and how I did:

1) Read up on anti-poverty initiatives - no. actually friends, I decided this problem is bigger than me. I'm going to just try to make my 10% donation goal (eeeehn) and let others focus on this while I focus on being an electrical engineer, can I do that?

2) Make the whole spacefem.com mobile-device friendly check!

3) Join the local maker group and be more involved - I did this! Just in the last few months. It's been amazing though - I took the woodshop class, the laser cutter class, I will certainly be talking more about makerspace because we have an amazing one in Wichita!

4) Keep my car cleaner - oops, nope.

5) Finish my toastmasters CC manual check

6) Back up and probably replace the graphics computer I have in the basement. totally on its last legs. check

7) get properly measured to make sure I'm buying the right bra size - did not blog about this, but I did it :) I didn't believe the woman when she told me my size and bought a compromise between what her and I thought I should be. But the compromise was SO much better that I did go back and buy the recommended size and yeah, I was off.

8) keep up the livejournal - definitely, way more entries than last year! mostly thanks to reconnecting to the community a bit and making new friends. Summary is in this entry I wrote: Ten ways to make Livejournal seem new again. I lost some friends too, that's what happens when people get to know eachother, we don't all turn out to be besties, okay I'm not sweating it, but I gained more than I lost and love reading your entries and coming here and it's really motivated me to keep writing.

9) stockpile canned goods, buy more food in bulk - We did get a costco membership but my first-in-first-out always have a backstock dream isn't quite there yet, I'm getting there. With the costco membership I mostly just bought ice cream for the guys at work.

10) realign my mentors at work - what did this mean? go out to lunch with people, find mentors? It's been a strange work year.

And now for my 2016 resolutions, which are simple...

1) Reduce my mail. I want to check my mail and get only the few magazines I like. No more hauling out the recycle bin once a week and filling it with junk and catalogs. I will mark this crap "return to sender", get off these charity mailing lists, switch to paper statements and be free.

2) Go for walks, at least three times a day. I work at a very walking-friendly place, a big campus, and I have a pretty flexible schedule, but this year I got so busy at work that I'd get stuck in these two hour meetings then run straight back to my desk to sit for another two hours and eat lunch at my desk and I just haven't gotten to take nice walking breaks like I used to. I need to make it happen, I deserve it, my days are never just eight hours anymore so surely I can find the time to walk.

3) Food journal. Write what we eat, on the days on the calendar. We've done this before sporadically, it's really nice because it removes all doubt about the age of our leftovers, shows us how much we're eating out, and inspires ideas if we don't know what to have for dinner because we can glance at the past for suggestions.

4) Visit every Little Free Library in Wichita. There are like 20 now! As the steward of the second-oldest LFL I run the Wichita Little Free Libraries facebook page that has almost 700 likes and we post up photos of all the libraries we visit, there are some in Wichita I've never been to but I am ready to go!

5) Mail cards. Christmas cards. Or not, maybe veteran's day cards, I don't care, I just have such a nice address list and get all these nice updates from families and haven't mailed cards in years.

6) Book list: banned books. We got to talking on spacefem about the ALA's annual banned book list because Sherman Alexie's memoir tops it and is one of my favorite books of all times. I wanted to re-read it, and while I was at it, I figured I'd add the others! So our sorta book club schedule is:
February - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
April - Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
June - The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
August - Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
October - The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
November - The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

7) Snack on carrots instead of chocolate. Honestly, I think I eat junk food just because I can buy a bag, throw it in my desk, leave it there for a month and it's always there. I love carrots but they don't have a month shelf life and need to be in a refrigerator, so they lose out on the snack wars. Well stop being lazy, spacefem. eat your veggies. you'll feel better.
I read Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian several years ago and thought it was a striking portrayal of poverty, diversity, coming of age and living between worlds as a minority trying to succeed. I've recommended it to all kinds of people. So imagine my surprise when I read about it in this article, Parent calls cops on teen for giving books away at a book giveaway.

Apparently this awesome book is #1 on the ALA's Frequently Challenged Books List, having stirred up controversy all over the place, parents and school administrators are fighting like crazy to have it removed from curriculum, pulled from libraries, and all out banned.

So I re-read it just to see what was so offensive. According to the article parents were quoted as saying it used language that they do "not use in their home". So I'm not the best source of judging whether this is offensive I guess since I use all kind of language in my home, hell, my 5-year-old uses all kinds of language in my home, as long as she's using it in the proper context I figure english is english so why sweat the small stuff? Is she nice to kids? That's what's important.

And this book is chock full of valuable lessons about being nice to people. Being understanding, empathetic, non-judgmental, tolerant. Maybe that's why I like it.

Maybe that's why other parents hate it.

I made a mental list, while reading it, about why it might be ban-worthy...

Uses the word "retard". I do find that offensive but it's not used in a derogatory "making fun of people" way, it's used as self-depreciation by this kid who thinks he's not as good as other people.

The main character mentions that he masturbates. But the article involving the cops is about 10th graders... by age 15-16, I'd say the word is out on that topic.

After a family tragedy the main character is angry at God. They are a Christian family in the book though, so there's not much evidence that the author is anti-Christian.

The n-word is used by a bully.

A girl has bulimia.

The main character is tolerant of actual gay people and admires his grandmother's tolerance but still calls people "faggot", sometimes in a friendly way sometimes not, and the less kind characters in the book ask if his actions like drawing pictures or wanting to make friends is "gay".

It's got Indians making fun of white people who claim to love Indians. That part is priceless, actually, read the book just for that.

The book is just so brutally real, with these irreplaceable ideas... Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.

And this famous quote that gets repeated in many places... “I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,' I said. 'By Black and White. By Indian and White. But I know this isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes: the people who are assholes and the people who are not.”

I think sugar-coating the story by stripping out bad words, eating disorders, fist fights, reality of homophobia, anger at God... would all make it less real. The point of the book is this kid breaking out of his harsh reality. So how do you convey the necessity of that without making it harsh?

I'm going to keep recommending it. Especially this one, which is young adult fiction so you can read it in a day. I hope that you do.

The fact that this book tops the ALA's list of banned books has inspired me to read more of the list. Maybe it's pretty good. Part Time Indian certainly made me think of generational poverty in ways I hadn't before, and it showed me a world I've never set foot in, that's what books are for right? If a book shakes people up enough to get banned, there's something there worth saving?
Originally posted by ariestess at The Friday Five for 1 January 2016
Looking back at 2015!
  1. Favorite TV show: I'm currently watching Fox's The Last Man On Earth because Kristen Schaal is awesome.
  2. Favorite Movie: I watched The Martian last week. Amazing!
  3. Favorite Book: This year I read Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo and think everyone should read it. Also read Bowling Alone, an important analysis of the decay of social capital in america.
  4. Favorite Video: My kids watch the heck out of Ariana Grande's Break Free! It's in space.
  5. Favorite "Current Event": Oh gosh, so many good ones. I'm going to go ahead and nominate fundamentalist Christians in mega-cheater databases as my favorite for 2015 though, for sure.

holiday break activities

The company I work at shuts down completely between Christmas and New Years every year, so I have the luxury of having a real break, like a college student, except it's gone on my entire adult life. I worked up until December 23rd, then we were off Christmas eve and aren't returning until January 4th. That's nice.

So it's been a relaxing adventure. We spent Christmas in KC with my family - drove up Christmas Eve and stayed three nights. The kids played together pretty nicely except for the toddlers trying to hurt each other. They got lots of fantastic presents... art supplies, play food, a fort-making kit sort of thing that's like giant tinkertoys you can throw a sheet over when you're done.

We went to Ikea while we were there and spent $30, I'm getting pretty good at getting in and out of ikea without going nuts.

In other shopping trips, Marc and I bought ourselves a new vacuum cleaner to replace our 25 year old electrolux. I got him white gold earrings for his birthday.

Some friends from church needed a sitter so we watched their kids, they came back and we drank wine and talked until late.

We took Josie to see star wars, had other friends to watch olive, we came back and fed them dinner and drank wine and talked until late.

We went to the makerspace several times. The kids colored. I just learned to use the laser cutter. I've been making all kinds of things. Ornaments, boxes, little wood shapes for josie. I made acrylic inserts for the kids' playdoh squirter thing so it can make all different shapes, since their fun factory broke. I always wanted a playdoh fun factory growing up... then I get one, and I don't love the design.

Today we went to the YMCA and swam at the pool.

Last night was new years eve. Marc had a DJ gig as usual, I went to a party down the block, Josie is good friends with their daughter so she stayed the night. Olive and I watched the countdown in new york... well, I watched it, Olive passed out about 10 minutes before the ball dropped, poor thing. Then I went to sleep. I felt no need to watch new years happen in my own time zone.

as a family, we have slowly drifted towards waking up at 10am. we eat and do crafts and clean things and get out of the house maybe once per day at a really unambitious time like 2pm.

I got sick of opensuse and installed xubuntu on my xi3. I'm still troubleshooting a sporatic screen flickr but the printer setup was really easy, that's always the thing that concerns me with linux. most distributions of such nice package managers these days it's nothing like it was back in the day. I could reinstall different linux distros every week, and know that I will quickly get inkscape up and running.

I re-read Matilda by Roald Dahl.

I labeled a box full of books destined for little free libraries.

two more days to chill, then we have to figure out how to only do this on the weekends.

Best of 2015

I'm going to combine my "what happened this year" with "best entries" in this annual roundup. To find my most notable entries I used Google's site search and set the filter to "this year", just to see what hit the internet's radars.

January - Websites aren't DIY anymore and it's sad - the rise of 3rd party CMS and kids these days.

February - I still really like Etsy despite criticism that they're being too open on their definition of "handmade" and selling out to manufacturers. Still feel that way for sure.

March - Why I'm in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) - I actually became a lifetime member this year! We also celebrated epic pi day with a party.

April - Finally wrote up an entry on how I met my husband.

May - Reviewed two methods pilots uses for Crosswind Calculations - mnemonics vs. plain old trigonometry. I choose trig.

June - Traveled to Buffalo NY for marc's registration and visited the Seneca museum and Corning glass museum, both fantastic.

July - Wrote about safety margins and how engineers know it can't be 100%, making us different from the rest of the population.

August - Why donating to thrift stores is not that eco-friendly Celeb news commentary on Christian leaders in megacheater databases

September - Took my 5 year old on an airplane ride out to Hutch with another girl, we had a blast and she loved seeing the houses from above! Little Olive has yet to go on a flight with us.

October - Traveled to Seattle to meet rowan and bork from spacefem.com at GeekGirlCon, fantastic trip!

November - Speech pacing - yet another voice in my life reminding me that great leaders slow down and maintain calm in the face of craziness.

December - another great Christmas! relaxing holiday break, spent Christmas in KC and now we're back and I'm not writing much but there's lots of crafting, playing, friends over and relaxing, that's it.

santa logic

So here's this conversation with the 5 year old...

her: I know you bought me the shopkins!

me: Santa gave you the shopkins, babe.

her: No he didn't. I saw santa, and I asked him for shopkins, and he said he didn't even know what they were.

I mutter under my breath that we have got to start visiting better santas, geez guys play along. Then I'm like, "Hey wait Josie, I don't even know what the hell shopkins are! I still don't know what they are! Why is there a shoe if they're in a grocery store?"

her: you bought the shopkins.

marc: So who bought you the hello kitty rainbow backback? (side note: marc totally bought her the hello kitty rainbow backback, he was so proud)

her: SANTA!
Last week I went to menard's to buy some craft wood to cut in the laser cutter at makeict and it was pretty much like every hardware store adventure where I spend 10 seconds buying something, 20 minutes looking for it. Why isn't there an electronic aisle search yet? Or at least a search employees can access quickly? Of all the stores to make into mega big box stores, hardware stores were the worst. They have a million items in two million categories - it's not like grocery stores where you can group foods into "baking" and "pasta". Hardware stores are anybody's guess.

So I find some kid who works there and ask where's the balsa wood, because that's the simplest craft wood everybody knows about (I'm not going to be a confusing a-hole and ask about beech veneer plywood). He is stumped. "How thick do you need it?"

That's what I love about hardware help... irrelevant question land. As if they have different thicknesses of balsa wood in different sections. People don't make livingroom tables with this stuff, dude.

My favorite ever story about this was a few years ago when I went to a hardware store looking for magnets, preferably hook magnets, but basically just magnets. The store clerk said, "Let's see... you're wanting it to stick to... something metal?"

No, I said. A tree.

So anyway back to this week... poor kid is dumbfounded about balsa wood. So I said, "Sometimes it's by the dowel rods."

He just said "Sometimes."

As in, just you sit back, I know many things that you do not! He didn't. We're wandering aisles with no direction at all. I feel like I'm following the Israelites in the desert.

Finally he walked past the registers and found a coworker who actually knew what balsa wood was and the guy said, "It's by the dowel rods."


Of course the kid says, "And dowel rods are in aisle... " yeah.

43, says the guy who does know something, thank goodness. We found dowel rods together, sure enough the craft wood was right there, and I got what I needed somehow by chance.

Just once I'd like to have a store clerk say, "I honestly don't know where that is but we can ask!" or "Hey spacefem, you were right!" or "I won't waste your time by asking stalling, irrelavent questions in hopes that a light bulb goes off, I will make practical suggestions!"

Whatever, hardware store people, anything.

Fabric gift bags

In an earlier post I mentioned my family's conversion to using fabric as gift wrap at Christmas, a few of you liked the idea so I figured I'd post more details.

A few years ago my eco-friendly brother in law started introducing non-paper-gift-wrap ideas into our gift exchanging and it was awesome. Baskets, boxes, even yards of fabric with pinking sheered edges so they wouldn't unravel.

I took the yards of fabric they gave me a step further - I could wrap four times as many gifts if I sewed them into bags.

So here's what my pile of presents looks like this year:

The benefits:
1) No more paper we're throwing away, that's awesome
2) Super fast to "wrap" your presents
3) They only take five minutes to sew when I make new ones
4) Once they're out into the world they last for YEARS. My non-sewing family members are using my last years' bags, now that we've had this going for a while we don't even get the trash/recycle bins out for gift unwrapping time, our trash consists of a few ribbons and sometimes not even that if I splurge for nice ones.
5) Throw them in the trunk of your car without worrying about them getting crushed or wrinkled, unlike paper bags
5) Cheap as hell. Christmas fabric goes on mega-sale after Christmas every year, you can wrap 3-4 good-size gifts or a million little ones with a yard.
6) Good project to use up the last of a spool of thread you're tired of since nobody's looking too closely at thread color on these
7) They store flat and take up no space in storage, unlike gift boxes and baskets

To sew them, I just sew a side seam, then sew the bottom, then hem the top. Here's the inside-out view:

Then to close them I either just tie up the top, bag style, or I fold the extra into the package kinda pillowcase style:

tie ribbon or string and you're done. the end.

cross posted to my much neglected crafty blog

friday 5: Christmas traditions

I haven't thefridayfiveed in a while so figured I'd pay some attention. [this week's questions]

1. What is a favorite Christmas/Hanukah tradition of yours?
I don't do this every year, but many years I like to go to the mall the Saturday before Christmas during the special early hours and watch it slowly turn into a zoo. I worked in the mall when I was 19 or something, at some nature store, and a lot of people don't know that malls open early. I don't buy anything, I just get a good parking place, do a tiny bit of browsing, and then people watch. It could happen this year, I'll see.

2. Do you listen to Christmas music while wrapping/bagging gifts?
I've really transitioned to fabric gift bags so it cuts down on "get everything out and make a craft project out of wrapping". You buy a present, take it home, throw it in a fabric bag, tie a ribbon, done. You don't even have to make sure there's tissue paper strategically sticking out the top. We did this to make our Christmasses more eco-friendly but I have to admit it's a real time saver too.

3. How soon do you start playing holiday music?
We had it on thanksgiving weekend when we put up the tree, it was awesome!

4. If you could change one thing about the holidays, what would it be?
Firebomb "The First Noel". It's my least favorite Christmas song, I think the lyrics were hammered horribly into the music (the angels DID say? night that was SO DEEP?)

5. Have you been naughty or nice? Remember, Santa is listening.
TEH NICEST. At work I have been much better at slowing down and listening during meetings, have yelled at fewer people and made no one cry this year! I was also nice to my husband sometimes.

what to say about fucking weirdo feminists

There's a lot of "I'm a woman and I don't need feminism" kind of posts going around the internet, I see them, mostly on teen sites like tumblr or whisper. One thing that people seem to be concerned with is that feminism has apparently gotten just way too OUT THERE to be useful to the mainstream human population, that's why they don't want to be feminists.

That project where a feminist allegedly made bread out of her vagina yeast? It comes up a LOT. So does wearing your menstrual blood, painting your placenta. All that.

What they're saying is that this is what feminism is so let's ditch it.

Reality is my feminists friends are much more focused on enforcing laws against honor killings and providing birth control access to women in every country and ending domestic violence than out there art projects... in fact, I'm a smidgen grossed out by some of that stuff, but it was just internet forwards to me, it's not like I go to meetings and it shows up, I don't even know if it's real.

If it is real, it means there's some weirdo feminism out there. You know though? Whatever. There's not much of it. Every movement has to have some weirdos otherwise you worry that there's no diversity in it. And hey, our "out there" extremists aren't fucking gunning people down like elliot rodger... if you want to judge a movement by its extremists, I still think feminists win the game of cool safe causes.

Then I realized that if people bring up weirdo feminism you know what we should bring up? The words of the fabulous amazing Eddie Izzard in Dressed To Kill... who hasn't seen this? It's about men who dress in women's clothing but still, take heed...

There was a guy in the Bronx, when I was in New York who was living in a cave, like you do, and he was coming out and shooting at geese. A lot of weird things going on with this guy. The police picked him up, they found a collection of women’s shoes and they thought, “Maybe he’s a transvestite."

If he is, he’s a fucking weirdo transvestite! I’m more in the executive transvestite area. Travel the world, yes, it’s much more... executive.

J. Edgar Hoover – what a fuckhead he was. They found out when he died that he was a transvestite and they go, “Well, that explains his weird behav – ” yeah, fucking weirdo transvestite!

Executive transvestite. It’s a lot wider community than you’d think.

So there you go. There's some fucking weirdo feminists. Like, two of them that we've seen on the internet so far this year. There's weirdo everything. And there's the executives, right? A lot wider community than you'd think. Mostly because when it comes to feminism, a lot of people don't think, they just accept whatever anti-feminists say about us... but if you're a weirdo, feminism doesn't explain your weirdo-ness, and if you're a weirdo and not hurting anybody, we shouldn't give a fuck anyway, we have more important things to think about.


Etsy for the holidays

Yup I'm still on Etsy. I shall post about it... oh gosh my current frequency is about twice a year.

But with everybody's holiday shopping going on I figured this was a good time, especially with shipping deadlines looming.

Buy handmade! It's fun.

I run a site called EtsyContest.com - sort of a hot or not for Etsy things. Today's contest is desk items. Your friends might need office stuff!

Last month we had a contest that was all sharks. The winner:

Great White Shark Stuffed Animal, handknit plush shark. Handmade Stuffed animal.1st place November 12th, 2015
Theme Thursday! Shark items from $1-$50.

Great White Shark Stuffed Animal, handknit plush shark. Handmade Stuffed animal.
by FeltedFriends

It has a big page of coupon codes - artists who REALLY want you to visit them. They sign up themselves, make their own discount codes, they need your love.


My five year old watching Silent Hill

When Halloween came around this year spacekid, age 5, was thrilled. She wanted the house to be scary, wanted to visit halloween stores, and of course wanted to watch scary movies but according to her, none of the movies were scary ENOUGH.

She used to love Coraline and Nightmare Before Christmas but was like, "no really I want a REALLY scary movie!"

Moster High? Hotel Translyvania? Addams Family?


So finally I just tried to think of movies that scared me. Needed something that pretty quickly got into monsters. Put on Silent Hill, which is basically a straight horror with spasmodic bandaged zombie nurses slicing at each other while a half-naked metal triangle head cuts people in half.

But with a heartwarming anti-bullying message, amiright?

Well she just loves it...

This might have worked out though. I noticed since we let her watch Silent Hill about seven times, she seems to be at her threshold and has stopped asking for scarier films. She tells me it's her new favorite and wants to watch it all the time, but doesn't want to keep going. And I've noticed she's also enjoying movies like Addams Family - it's like she can relax and enjoy more kid-friendly stuff since she knows we're not using them to lie to her about what's out there.

I have told her, and she checks to make sure, that this stuff is fake. She knows zombies aren't real. We talked about how the blood is really ketchup or syrup or chemical sludge and how people make up effects in movies just like she draws pictures and makes art.

Also want to note that my brave, zombie-loving kid is still afraid of people in sport mascot costumes. So if by chance I'm ruining her developing brain and raising a serial killer, I want you all to know her weakness.

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