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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."

---------------------

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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welcome new lj friends!

I posted in 2017revival last week or so and found some new lj friends so I wanted to say HIIIII to you all! As I've written before, livejournal is a fantastic community, but like anything it only feels alive if you treat it like a "new thing" every once in a while, go out and find people to make it feel alive. So I like these little refreshes that pop up once a year or so.

Wanted to remind everyone that I still have the friends history tool working if it helps you comb through your list and make sure you're friending back:




Who's friended you today?

Show me the friends of:






by spacefem get yours here


podcasts I'm listening to right now

Greatest Generation - a startrek podcast by two guys embarrassed to have a star trek podcast. They're going episode by episode through TNG and I adore them.

Baby Geniuses - Comedian Emily Heller and cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt talk to guests, find the best darn pages on wikipedia.

Harvard Business Review - this will surely make up for my lack of MBA. And my lack of pricey subscription to the print harvard business review. right?

Fresh Aire and Diane Rehm Show - my favorite NPR podcasts. Diane Rehm just retired but has people keeping her show on as a podcast. They also replayed an interview with Mr. Rogers that had me in tears every five minutes, but SO HAPPY.

TED talks - Gotta prep for the day I become terribly famous and am invited to do a ted talk.

Freakonomics Radio - Good topics, plus I can count on them to be cool and pretty uncontroversial if I've got coworkers in the car.

partner learning FTW!

Previously on spacefem's livejournal...

I talked about teaching laser cutter design classes and the struggles of getting a general slice of the public to do a series of tasks on their individual computers. I wrote that I "Encouraged people to spy on their neighbors to make sure we're all on the same step, since we've all got to get there together. This didn't work like I hoped. It basically didn't work at all."

Anyway I wanted to publicly thank randomdreams for this comment:

I suspect that unless you somehow enforce people checking on their neighbors, like only giving every other person a computer and having them share, you're not going to get that at all because it's inherently a space violation.

Giving every other person a computer would force them to work together as "partners"... hmmm. So it gave me an idea. At the next class, I still gave everyone a computer but told them they had to be arranged in pairs, two laptops together. No rows of three in the classroom... only rows of two or four. And now you have a partner. Meet your partner. Say hi to your partner.

Guess what? It worked out AWESOME!

For some reason, telling people to check on their left and right neighbor had no effect, but telling people they had a partner was radically different. They worked together through the steps. Some partner pairs took off on their own, but together they were less likely to miss stuff, which was happening a lot when people individually took off on their own. There was a significant reduction in me getting called over for individual help and an significant reduction in anyone falling 12 steps behind and not saying anything.

I'm not sure I totally understand the psychology of it but it was such a good class I'm now thinking I can increase the size and reduce our backlog of people wanting to take it and I'm really thrilled. YAY!

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my sick leave policy

Oh my goodness it's cold/flu season again and every year around this time I have to have the same conversation with my team at work.

If you are sick, I don't want you to come to work. "Sick" means that your health is compromised in a way that will make you a less productive engineer. If you're a little sick, I'd rather you off for a day or two of rest and heal so we can have three good days this week with you, instead of five days dealing with you being sick with a lingering virus. If you have a contagious sickness that spreads to your coworkers, then you'll definitely hurt company productivity. Do a cost-benefit analysis.

Text or email are my preferred ways to learn that you are sick. A phone call or voicemail is okay too. Coming into my office and presenting your sick self to me in person is my least preferred method.

As a professional, I trust you when you say that you are sick. Just say "I'm not coming in today, I am sick." That's enough information.

I don't need to hear details about what's coming out of you, from where, for how long, anything about the consistency or chemical composition. I trust you. Also, that's disgusting. If you want to warn others you can offer up a simple "I believe this is a contagious respiratory virus" or "I am having digestive distress, possibly from the potato salad in the break room" - leave it at a high level summary.

Sympathy is not one of my strong points but let me assure you, we all hope you feel better soon. Lay on your couch, eat soup, watch the weird al "I'm calling in sick today" video that always cheers me up. Celebrate the fact that you work for a company that pays sick leave. This isn't elementary school, you don't get a certificate for perfect attendance. We'll see you in a couple days.

happy places

I went to a seminar on mindfulness. It was amazing. We were there almost three hours, I don't have the attention span to do anything for three hours, I hate spending time anyplace because I am so buried in work, but that's part of why I took the seminar.

I've been stressed. We talked about physical reactions to stress, the health effects, and feeling it, I admitted that lots of times lately I FEEL the stress, when it all comes down. In my body and stomach and chest and lungs. And my thought it always, "Well I hope that goes away." How stupid have I been? Given my family history of heart disease, and my scientific mind having read WELL DOCUMENTED studies about how stress can kill you, my thought is always "well that's weird." Not, "Whoh, pull over, let's reflect a bit, let's take the bad thoughts and put them in a mental container, off to the side, slow down and organize."

Let's talk about the yelling at work! When I'm getting a panic call at 6:30 in the morning of "something doesn't work we need your team HERE NOW" My response is HOLY SHIT BE RIGHT THERE WHO ELSE NEEDS A CALL I'M IN IT I'M IN IT I'M IN IT.

What I need to do... calm down the person on the phone. Focus on what they need. Get information. I have this basic set of questions written down, I just ignore them because.

I am pulled into high-adrenaline situations like gravity.

Anyway, one thing we talked about was picturing a safe, happy, wonderful place from our memories when life gets stressful.

I pictured my home, the sacred couch, a warm blanket... that's happened a few times at work, my mind drifts back to the couch, but it immediately makes me sad that I'm not there. I'll close my eyes and try to teleport out of whatever awfulness is happening around me.

I pictured the river, floating with friends in a canoe, the sun through the trees, again, I wake up and I'm not really there and I'm sad.

A third happy place came to my mind. I'm on an airplane. It's taken apart, it's in work, I have test equipment. We're talking through a system and what changed. We're showing how it works, and it works. This happens all the time and it's the best feeling. I'm not in the cockpit, I'm someplace weird... on top of the wing, or crouching back in the tail, some weird connector, I know where it is, I'm confident.

Suddenly I remembered that I like my job and all of this is for something, there's an end goal. We'll get there. I know, because we always get there, even if it's weird. There are happy people on my team who seem unshaken by the stress. There are less productive people who add to it. I will align myself with the happier ones, because they're coming with me and we've all got the same goal. Sometimes it's a bad road to get there but it's a good end. I can be good at organizing everything needed to get us there, if I focus and don't let the negativity eat me.

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spacekid's shoe tying

When Josie started kindergarten we bought her a new pair of tennis shoes, some sketchers.

When Josie started first grade I took her shopping again and bought her another pair of sketchers, and also noticed that 1) her kindergarten shoes were so done. They looked like she'd been working in a mine all year or something. Kids are hard on shoes! nothing left to the bottom, holes in the toes, they went straight to the trash. 1) she'd gone up a size and a HALF!

So mental note: maybe I should be nice to my child and buy her tennis shoes more than once a year.

Here we are mid-year, her first grade september sketchers look like crap, so I was wanting to get new shoes and try a different brand. That meant we had to make the big jump to shoelaces. People, we can all only wear velcro for so long (guys at work disagreed with me on this but I digress...)

She was game to learn how to tie shoes. I got her some filas, and a pair of converse all-stars. Marc tried to shoe her how, on the couch, but she was getting frustrated, the TV was on, so I said Josie we need to go upstairs to a quiet place and do this!

Right hand: pinch one shoelace so it's folded over and you've got a loop. Left hand: wrap the other lace around your bunny ear. Push left hand lace through where your thumb is. Switch hands... right hand grabs what left hand is pushing through. Monitor dangly ends and pull tight. GO SLOW.

Glad I didn't have some weird left handed kid, would I have to switch this all around to teach her?

She got frustrated, threw herself on the ground, grabbed other random toys. If she doesn't learn something INSTANTLY she wants to abandon it. I yelled "JOSIE YOU HAVE TO BE PERSISTENT AND PATIENT AND DETERMINED AND KEEP TRYING! IF CAN'T BE PATIENT I AM WALKING OUT OF HERE BECAUSE I HAVE OTHER THINGS TO DO!" And she'd yell "NO I DON'T WANT YOU TO LEAVE!" but she'd be laying on the floor losing her neurotic little six-year-old mind, NOT listening to my advice on shoe tying, not wanting to sit UP, wanting to tie the two shoes together because it looked funny, not getting anywhere.

Then I realized that I was yelling and threatening to leave, as a punishment for not being patient. Bit of irony there. Okay, I have to do this. So I counted to ten, took deep breaths, and patiently said "Let's try again!"

Honestly once that happened it went really fast. Each attempt got closer. I told her "you have to do something a lot to get it right... at least ten times!" She was counting attempts. After 10-15 minutes of attempts, she had one that she did by herself and it was TIED! I was so proud, but told her that's the start, you have to do that ten times, and we got a cup of marbles and I put a marble in it. After ten marbles we went down and showed Marc and she was so proud of herself. We've still got some subtle form improvements to work on but I have to admit she learned really fast, like she always does. And I learned an important lesson on mindfulness. Good all around.

I didn't march

I was really happy to see wonderful turnout for the women's marches yesterday, but I was not part of that turnout. I went to Toastmasters meetings in the morning, a seminar in the afternoon, a birthday gathering in the evening. I stayed normal and kept my head down because that is what I feel like doing. I have a "what's it all for" voice in my head this year, hardcore. I've done the activism thing before. It helped. I made some friends. I met some people I would not have met... social workers, political science professors, non-profit managers, lawyers, therapists. I would explain to them how I spend my weeks building airplanes as an electrical engineer, they'd glaze over and laugh and say "I'm glad we have airplanes but that is so not my thing, no part of my brain can be asked to focus on those ideas for more than ten minutes." Oddly enough, that's how I'm starting to feel about activism. I'm all about influencing within my sphere, but the complicated sausage-making aspects of politics are so frustrating. I want to leave it to the experts. Throw my hands up, go back to work, send them a check when I can.

I was eating lunch this week overhearing a conversation between some men at another table. They were saying that if we truly embraced the second amendment and everyone was armed and saw it as their civic duty to own & have an in-depth knowledge about their piles of guns, we wouldn't have to fight all these wars to keep terrorists governments out of power. We wouldn't need diplomacy. Terrorists just wouldn't screw with us. They'd be afraid, of all of us and our individual shotguns. We could keep to ourselves, they could self-destruct over in the desert, great plan.

I sometimes think I could write a whole blog about things I overhear just living in the middle of a very red state.

Anyway in case you don't know me, I am the kind of person who sees a lot of logical flaws in the "let's arm ourselves to the teeth then terrorists can't get us" argument, first there's the cost-benefit analysis of guns doing more harm to us than good, then there's the arms race bit to bring up about how terrorists could just get weapons that are tougher to defend ourselves from... but their conversation, none of my business, I just ate my chicken fried steak and wrote this LJ entry in my head.

Yeah, I know, the evils of sticking to our own bubble echo chamber... well I'm not the one to break that whole wall down. I'm tired, and I'm going to stick to what I do best, which is not politics. I'm not sure who does do it best. Not my whole side, apparently.

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