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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!


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.


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.


Spacefem's guild to Pokemon Go - updated!

You ever watch The Guild, the Felicia Day youtube classic about a group of gamers who decided to meet IRL and realize they are VERY different? I can't believe that everyone playing Pokemon Go hasn't seen it, I was amazed, like you guys, I finally understand that whole show. But I was the only one who'd see it because of course, we have nothing in common except this game!

In Pokemon Go, you can take down an enemy team's level 10 gym in four minutes with the right number of people, so it makes meetups very fun. And you constantly need to know who else has trained up your team's gyms for open spots. You can't easily see where the action is around the city. So we started up chat groups using facebook messenger, and it goes like that, constantly, updates when someone finds a high up gym worth training in to. I had to turn vibrations off on my phone, the chat groups got so active, so now the notifications just show up on my screen, all day and night people taking down gyms, training up gyms, complaining about losing gyms and asking who wants to meet up to make the gym takeovers faster.

I actually started playing pokemon go because I heard it brought people together and I am interested in anything that increases social capital and gets different people talking together, so I was very enthusiastic about diving into the social aspect. I picked the yellow team, Instinct, on accident, but it turns out that's a great team for social gaming because we're the minority/losing team and really need each other to make the game work. We're an odd lot, team instinct. A lady I met who I refer to as our pokemon encyclopedia said that the true fans of the game will choose instinct because we like a challenge. I didn't tell her that I picked it because the interns at work played a joke on me and said it was the cool team, and now I can't switch.

Characters, if I was to make my team into a sitcom...

Me: The totally normal one, except for my constant threats to quit the game because it's a waste of time.

The pokemon encyclopedia: She's played every version of every pokemon game and has the type matchups memorized for quick access. Quote: "Finally all those hours I spent when I was ten are going for something useful!" My reply: "Useful might be stretching it... but sure. Thanks. What should I use against this pinsir again?"

The older guy: Has such a high-profile job we are shocked that he plays but he goes HARD and buys the first round of drinks and most lures at the bar. Somehow has a giant fleet of dragons and will take down a level 10 enemy gym by himself, especially if he's been off on an exotic vacation and arrives home to find one we let one of his favorite gyms go.

The older lady: Fitness enthusiast, nurturing, mentors the teens who want to join in. really obsessed with dragonball z. shocked that we're not. (again, differences).

The transitioner: Definitely moving out of this city soon so isn't taking his job too seriously and plays until 2AM. Shares tips on avoiding nighttime security.

The persistent neighborhood defender: Will take and retake the same region of gyms every night for three months. Knows which enemy team is trying to re-take because he's memorized the cars they all drive.

The morning commuter: Can never go out because he's got to get his kids in bed, but he's here first with the report of what happened overnight. Retakes 3-7 low-level gyms every day on the way to work.

The college student: Will go to any meetup, but will ask for a ride at the last minute.

The quiet guy: Will meet you to help train up and make a spot. Has a bike in his car at all times in case the location calls for it. Forgets to mention that a gym is located in a mosquito-infested swamp because it didn't really bother him.

The quiet girl: Calmly shows up in the background of meetups, doesn't say too much in chat about what's going on, but holy crap she's in EVERY gym in every corner of the damn city with a 2800 vaporeon. Enemy team posted in the city facebook group that she's got to be a guy, and we just say sure.

This concludes the ten people you will need to hold a gym for a while. Assemble your team and have fun.


laser cutter classes

Last year I started teaching laser cutter classes at the local makerspace. Our laser cutter requires authorization to use, even if you're a member, and we were way behind on getting classes set up and new members were frustrated, so I suggested that we set up a simple cadence. The class is held every three weeks and alternates between Tuesday, Saturday, Thursday, Sundays. It fills up fast.

The basic presentation portion is easy - how the laser cutter works, safety tips, unsubtle encouragement to use the nearby fire extinguisher if your project takes a turn for the worst.

Then comes the project portion of the class. We want everyone to create a vector art file - we start with sample shapes on a wiki page, they download the sample shape of their choice and open it in inkscape, add their name, save as an autocad file and import into the software that talks to the laser cutter.

This is unbelievably difficult. It was important to me that people do a project, but taking a slice of the general population through a basic file setup in inkscape is very rough. In every class I'm bound to have some bored looking college students who do not find this hard at all, so they wander off and play with the software and miss steps. Then I've got some people who seem to have barely used a mouse, I get them to a web page and tell them to right-click on an image to save it and they are lost. What's worst, I learned that I have to walk around the classroom and check on everybody, because nobody ever tells me they're lost until they're 12 steps behind and I spend 20 minutes with them personally trying to get them to catch up.

I've improved the class this year to make it only last two hours...

1) Made a printed handout of all the steps and icons we'd use so I could yell "I am on step 3! Is everyone on step 3?"

2) 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.

3) Limited class size to only 6 people. A sadly low number, given how fast the class fills up.

4) I always have someone in the class run the up front projector computer so I can walk around. This can be intimidating to people. I joke that I make the latest person to the class do it, as punishment. But as I explain, if I'm doing the computer stuff I get way too excited and move too fast and people get lost.

5) We tried offering a "daily computer user" class and separate "computer novice" class... no one signed up for the novice class.

Smaller class size had the biggest effect, because the more people are in the class, the higher the odds of having a computer novice in there who required personal attention.

Teaching the class has also made me a crazy person now because when I teach classes at work, I am very slow. I tell people to find File > Open and then say "DID EVERYONE FIND THAT? STOP AND CHECK YOUR NEIGHBOR!" and all these engineers are looking at me like I'm trying to teach them the ABCs.

I still enjoy teaching it. It's relaxing. And it's made me known in the makerspace, since I've taught lots of people the laser cutter.

Just have to keep improving.

pants pockets

Since I do whatever I want, I'm going to just answer one of the thefridayfive
questions from this week:

2. Do you like pants pockets and what do you tend to put in them?

Oh my gosh yes. I love pants pockets. I love all pockets.

I hate how many women's slacks do not have pockets. It's almost a killer for me, but since I'm a weird size and it's hard to find pants, sometimes I can't be that picky. If I was a normal woman of average height who could buy pants anywhere, I would only buy pants with pockets. If I do somehow find two pairs of pants that both mostly fit, and one pair has pockets, that will be the deciding factor.

Some geeky sites are coming out with skirts and dresses that have pockets. I support this 100%.

For best results, the pockets are big enough to fit my iphone5.

I have not upgraded to an iphone6, mostly because it's bigger, so it doesn't fit as nicely into my pockets.

I heard they came out with a 6SE that's closer to the iphone5 in size. I'm considering it.

I must have chap stick in my pockets all the time. I also frequently have spare change, scraps of paper with notes, and tissues.

I guess I'd like to carry a pocket knife but I'd need like a dozen of them like I have chapsticks so I don't. I have a swiss card in my bag all the time - It's like a swiss army knife, but credit card size. It's really nice. I also do have some pocket knives in various purses. When it comes to pocket knives, they have to have the tiny scissors.

This concludes this very important entry. Thanks!



you know what really encourages minimalism? when your sweet neighbor lady dies of cancer, and you see the family spend days going through her stuff and taking out a few carloads of things. then they sigh, realize it's too much, and hire a company to just clean it out, and everything starts going out in dumpsters. they're on the third load of semi-truck sized dumpsters just all going away. this has been our break, negotiating with the truck drivers to back out of our shared driveway when they're idling there waiting for the dumpster to get straightened out enough to put a tarp over it.

some of it is still good stuff. we claimed a jar of marbles, a chiefs license plate, a pair of binoculars and two sets of shelves for our garage.

some of it is still good stuff but we don't need it so like everyone on the street, we've gone numb to the sheer amount going into a landfill this week. wobbly side tables, vases, rugs, throw pillows, framed pictures.

In the midst of this we went to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) thrift store down the street because we were out of wine glasses again, we broke some. Wine glasses that end up at DAV are old, sturdy, and narrow... think slightly shorter champagne glasses with fat stems. They're from the days when wine drinkers drank sparingly because there weren't as many $10 sales on 1.5L yellow tail. We were standing in line and a lady behind us was lamenting that she likes the big fishbowl shaped ones, can't find those for 45 cents at a thrift store, I don't blame her but also just don't feel like buying new.

I see thrift store trips as the best we can do to make up for America. It's a drop in the bucket, it doesn't make up for dumpsters of stuff, but it's something.

I freecycled a toddler bed and today we're going to clear off a whole table to freecycle it too, with the four chairs it comes with. Sometimes I thought I might like it but I just realized that someday, I will be like my neighbor, we all will, we're all mortal, and our stuff can't be organized, someone just wants it out of the house. Everything I like will be in a dumpster. That's the end destination. If I can take the time now to find it a home where it'll be used, I am doing my family a favor. And I'm preventing someone else from buying a new thing from a factory that it cranking out more stuff, all bound for dumpsters. I'll turn into a minimalist in a heartbeat, easy, and never look back.

2017 Resolutions

You guys, my resolutions this year... the WORST. This is an annual entry and usually I'll mark down a few good ideas for resolutions but I am in a strange time right now, a very strange time.

First let's review the 2016 new years resolutions...

1) Reduce my mail. This is impossible! You can mark your junk mail "return to sender" but unless it's sent first class mail, and it never is, they don't get return service, so it doesn't matter. They don't care. I also noticed that a lot of my mail is charity receipts - you donate electronically, they have to mail you a paper receipt. What the crap! Junk mail is a constant whack-a-mole game, you get off one catalog mailing list, turn around and you're on another one. I don't get it.

2) Go for walks, at least three times a day. Actually I did a good job of this, partially out of determination, partially for pokemon. In fact seeing that this was a resolution is nice because now I don't feel guilty for trying to hatch pokemon eggs.

3) Food journal. Still a good idea, but when I failed to be home on time for family dinner for three months straight due to work, all food intentions went to hell. I was constantly a day behind on meals, always eating last night's leftovers, and had no part to play in the decision process about what we'd eat.

4) Visit every Little Free Library in Wichita. I was a Little Free Library warrior this year. I kicked ass. There are 40-some in Wichita, and I've been to them all. At times this required a lot of organization, so go me for hitting it. I even made a printable crawl map for our facebook page so the whole community could keep books rotating through our LFL system. I am so awesome.

5) Mail cards. Oops. Forgot.

6) Book list: banned books. I actually got on these and read most of my list.

I loved these, please everyone read them:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

These were young adult fiction and okay, read if you want:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

I did not get around to reading The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison. I think I'm afraid of reading Toni Morrison.

7) Snack on carrots instead of chocolate. I was bad at this, especially when work got crazy. I lived on coffee and hot pockets.


And now for my confession: I have no idea how to do good in 2017. How to make myself better, how to make the world better. I'm in a dark place. I'm in survival mode.

We're about to have an awful, awful president with a congress to match. They're going to repeal obamacare. Your insurance company can end your coverage at any time for anything they deem is a "pre-existing condition". There will be lifetime maximum coverage, god help you if you have a premature baby who eats up your lifetime max, I guess you're just done. When you graduate college, you're off your parents insurance. This guy is in it for the money.

The economy is not going to improve. We have experimented with this in Kansas - eliminate small business taxes so business owners can grow wealth, and hope for the best. It didn't work. It never does. This is why I am scrambling. This is why I work 18 hour days. We have to hustle and be aggressive just to get by. Make a rich guy ten times as wealthy, he doesn't buy ten times as many pants, or shoes, or airplanes. There's no trickling down.

There's no money for schools. In Wichita, they extended the school day so they could have fewer days in the year. It's almost 5:00 when Josie gets out of school. Combined with my new work schedule of barely seeing the kids before bedtime, it's like we're all just extended. That's Kansas. That's going to be the world.

How are we supposed to make new years resolutions?

Hold up inside and don't go out. Keep your head down at work. Say yes to the people in power, get in on their side and secretly do what you can. Protect your people. Tell the young guys that it's all okay, nothing to see here, find the fun, isn't this fun? There's no screaming at the top, no. You're safe. Fight from the inside. Be in the inside. Don't look back.

There will be no march on washington from me, friends. I am playing the game on all fronts.

2016 Year in Review

I always do this entry on the last day of the year in case anyone missed anything going on in my life, and re-cap my popular entries (according to google). Usually it's month-by-month. I'll try.

January - Social Capital is an important word to me this year, it's about how connected you are with your community. Entry of the month is The World Needs Joiners Too about how you should join an organization before trying to start up your own. This was really inspired by a book I read in 2015, Bowling Alone. This year I found more and more ways to apply things I learned by the ideas I got in that book.

February - As my career has gotten more complicated I'm growing more and more reflective about what leaders need to do. One of those things is my go-to methods for handling beat up meetings when I'm being challenged to do more with limited resources. I tried passing this on at work, some people really appreciated it, others just want to keep fighting and being defensive. I have thoughts on this too. Tune in next year.

March - Marc did a good thing and made a locator site for Little Free Libraries. We planted a lot of LFLs this year! It was a fun spring/summer project. We run a city-wide facebook page for Wichita too, and enjoyed lots of exposure and people sharing the love from that... posts that reached well into the 5000 range, good publicity for new libraries.

April - Tried and failed to each my 6 year old about toy fads. She is not a minimalist yet.

May - Josie learned to ride her bike without training wheels. She picked it up like she was born to do it, and we spent the rest of the summer on bike rides. Sometimes on quiet bike paths, sometimes off to shops for ice cream, she's a pro.

June - Tried talking to 5th grade girls at a STEM event that went hilariously.

July - Repeated the class I teach to our summer interns, once a week trying to help them transition to be real engineers. It's become my favorite thing to do and a luxury, something that's so fun I can't believe I get paid for it, so I hope I can still find the time for it in future years.

August - I got way into Pokemon Go. It's a great game, I'm one of the few and proud still playing and it's only gotten better as I've met more people because you have to get in with your team to be successful at the higher levels. I'll have to write about it sometime.

September - Fall career fair recruiting at colleges. Interviews, resume reviews, looking out for next year's engineer rock stars.

October - After YEARS of putting it off I finally got my wisdom teeth out. It took five minutes. I was awake, just numbed up. Recovery involved a weekend of not talking, which was really hard for me, and then a month of eating lots of soup. I lost some weight.

November - Airplane I was working on got full-on crazy, with high tensions, 24x7 support, I worked every single day except Thanksgiving day when they made us take just the one Thursday off. Gave me a lot to think about. Also there was a presidential election.

December - Airplane flew by Christmas, barely. We got a week off. I was determined to stay productive and did. The night before first flight was one last classic work until 11PM, because of course. There are some cool things about a project like this. There are some not cool things. We'll see how it goes next year, if we're all just right back into it.

this week's fixes

I had this ambitious list of things to do when I finally got a day off from work. Yesterday I was down with a cold and Marc was running around so I took it easy, did some organizing and cleaning up but that was it. Today I got to it. Here are the things I made or fixed at the makerspace:

1) fisher price drillin action replacement screwdriver bit

Disposable culture is driving me batty, people. Olive got this drill set for last Christmas and LOVED it. A month later, we lost the removable drill bit that works for the screws. Fisher price doesn't sell replacement parts. I guess they just expect you to pitch it and buy a new one since your kid wants the next thing every month. Thrift store toy bins are full of the big component pieces of these workbench sets, in the case of this one, the blue holder thing. But the little parts are gone into space.

Anyway I was going to 3-D print one but realized it'd take a split second to laser cut two pieces to make a screwdriver once I took a few measurements so that's what I have, this one is hardboard, when it breaks I can make a wood one, I could paint it, I don't know. The point is Olive's screwdriver set works again and she had a blast with it yesterday.

I wonder if any other parent is as bothered about this as me. Maybe I could make a business around 3D printed replacement parts. Well if anyone googles this and is desperate I'll at least send you one of my cheapo hardboard ones since they cost nothing to make (spacefem at spacefem dot com).

2) Diagonal knife drawer organizer

As seen on pinterest. I have the matching white paint so it'll blend in with the drawer, but we'll use it for a few days and make sure we like the size first.

3) Soap dish that says Soap on it

This was purely me being arty, I think it turned out cute though.

4) Replaced bed slats on toddler bed

We were freecycling this anyway but first, I had to replace the slats that my darn kids broke because they were too rough on this bed. It is fully slatted now. The people who claim stuff on freecycle don't always have access to the tools needed to fix stuff so I'd worry that they'd make do with something quasi-safe, which we did, and it's not like I just made it 100% safe, but it's a step up.

So those are my "around the house" projects so far.

Still on the to-do list:
1) Visit the library
2) Get a haircut
3) Take down Christmas tree
4) Organize scary room in basement
5) World peace



I've been teaching Josie card games. I have this philosophy, not scientifically tested at all, that games teach kids persistence that they will need for success later in life. Does that make sense? I mean we all get to this point in life where we realize we are not going to be the CEO celebrity president who wins everything, somebody is better than us, we are going to win and lose, but the game is still worth playing for the sake of it. I think a lot of kids deal with this in high school or college.

I attribute a lot of my success to the fact that I'm competitive, I grew up playing games with my family all the time, I thought maybe the two were linked.

I digress... Josie made up a card game, it's totally fun and I was so proud of her! We have two variations of it but our favorite is Jo Go Fish.

It's like go fish, you get five cards, when it's your turn you ask people for cards and if they don't have it you draw two.

Instead of pairs though, you have to put down a one big card, and other cards that add up to it.

Aces can be 1 or 14, Jokers are zero. Jack Queen King are 11, 12, 13.

So you could put down 2, 3, and 5 as a set. Or 8, 3, Ace and Queen.

If you totally run out of cards you get to draw three more fresh ones. We keep playing until there are no more cards in the take pile. At the end whoever has the most sets down wins.

I love that she made up a game and it's helping her with her addition, all the way up to 14 requires getting the fingers out sometimes for a first grader, but it's a blast and she wins a lot.



To all of us who work on weekends I offer this memorable quote from Dr. Kwon, professor of information theory, recalled from the last year of my masters courses in electrical engineering:

No I will not answer your questions on Sunday.

On Sunday I have to hear God's voice.

I cannot hear God's voice if I have to hear your voice.


Whenever a press photo comes out of an experimental airplane doing tests for a major program, the most common question I get is "why is there a pointy thing at the front?" Some jokes about combat, shish-kabobs, or magical unicorn powers can ensue.

I'm not an expert on these but it's fun to have an avionics engineer explain non-electrical topics and shows that I see the airplane as more than just a flying case for blinky lights so here goes, I'm striving to do more.

The pointy thing at the front of a test plane is an air data boom. I don't like Wikipedia's entry on it, too sparse with not enough pictures, so allow me to expand. The boom's job is to hold airspeed measuring instruments way out in front of the airplane, where none of its wind-moving parts will mess with the measurements. It's sometimes a bright color or striped because we want everyone to notice it and not walk into it when they're working on the airplane.

It's quite common. In fact googling around different manufacturers first flight events of new models, they ALL had an airspeed boom.

Pilatus PC-12, from AOPA:

Lear 85, from Business Journals:

Gulfstream G500, from AIN:

Sometimes when there's a pesky propellor needing that space, they'll put the boom out on the wing, like this GippsAero GA-10 (photo: motoroids)

For nice pretty airplanes we sell to people, we tuck two airspeed instruments away in unnoticable places: the pitot tube (pronounced pee-toe... it's french) and the static port. The pitot tube faces front and air blows into it so we can tell how fast we're going. The static port faces the side so we can tell what altitude we're at. The airspeed indicator on the airplane compares these two instruments - for instance at a high altitude, not as many air molecules are hitting the pitot tube. That's not because we're going slower, it's just that there are fewer air molecules up there. So the static port measurement gets considered in that calculation.

Using the test boom, we verify that the nice pretty hidden locations of the pitot and static ports are accurate enough at different airspeeds and altitudes, even with the wind currents of the airplane doing strange things around them. We also put numbers in a book that tell the pilot how far off those measurements will be... on a little airplane, the pilot gets to see Indicated Airspeed, but she's got the book to look up Calibrated Airspeed... which is the actual airspeed corrected for those placement errors. We use Calibrated Airspeed when we did the math to design the airplane and decide how fast it can safely fly, so it's important for us to tell the pilot the equivalent numbers in Indicated Airspeed, that way she knows what number will be showing on the airspeed indicator when she's nearing that speed limit.

That's why we only need that boom on experimental airplanes - we get the numbers we need, then you don't have to deal with it. You can get rid of it and use the nosecone for better things, like holding a weather radar inside of it. A weather radar is awfully handy, can stay nice and hidden, and definitely needs to be in the front of the airplane, unlike the pitot/static ports which we have clearly learned to correct for because science knows how air moves.


helping people with mega career goals

I gave a speech about career advice and one of my points was to have realistic short term goals. Think 1-3 years out. Make sure you are doing something new this year that you were not doing last year. Keep your eye out for categories you haven't hit yet, and take those to your supervisor when you have discussions and reviews. If you tell him you've never done a test report but would like to, he might very well assign you the next test report. Leaders are need to be versatile - understand lots of things. So if you want to be a future leader, do everything. Keep your eye out for challenges and say yes when they come up.

On the other hand, I said, big huge goals are not as helpful. When an intern tells me he wants to be the CEO someday, I'm not entirely sure how to help him with that. Especially if he's not exactly hitting it out the park as an intern! As a manager I don't want to deflate or demoralize anyone, so when somebody has huge goals it makes me more hesitant to be brutally honest with something they need to improve today... unless they tell me directly they want me to be brutally honest, and assure me that they're ready. This doesn't happen as often as it should.

My advice got mixed reviews in the crowd though. One manager said he had exactly that, an intern who wanted to shoot straight to the top, and you know what? This young person did do very well, moved up faster than others, he's a director or something now and his vision really helped.

I realized that a high percentage of CEOs probably did have ambition that other people thought was too strong. Maybe that'll be my question for senior leaders... who were you at age 23?

But does it work the other way? A high percentage of CEOs have ambition, but do a high percentage of 23 year-olds with ambition become great leaders?

I was ambitious but not in a "I want to climb to the top" way. I wanted to earn respect, I wanted to be the go-to, I wanted my coworkers to think I was smart. At some point along the way, about 5-10 years in, I started asking about leading people.

Where's the balance? Do I sound like a "dang kids get off my lawn" kind of fogey if I tell new hires to calm it down and do next week's job first? When is ambition healthy, and when does it annoyingly get in the way?


got my wisdom teeth out

Thursday I finally got my wisdom teeth out.

On previous episode's of spacefem's livejournal: I only have top wisdom teeth, they came in just fine, but every dentist I've ever had has told me to have them removed. I fought it as along as I could and I guess I finally gave up. February they found a cavity in one and referred me to an oral surgeon. I ignored it. Six months later they showed me the x-rays again how the cavity was clearly getting bigger. With no bottom teeth the top ones were kinda falling out of my face anyway, creating gaps that they said would be an even bigger problem.

So Thursday morning I woke up early to give Josie a few dollars for losing second front tooth. That kid's been losing teeth like crazy lately.

I am literally the tooth fairy.

I would get no dollars. I should have asked for my teeth, put them under my pillow, given myself the money. Or asked Josie to do it. That'd be weird.

Related favorite link... watch this animation of how people grow teeth. It's creepy. It shows wisdom teeth growing in perfectly, and being perfectly normal. http://imgur.com/0RuE23o

Anyway back to August. The dentist was like "seriously get these out" so I made an appointment, rescheduled it, rescheduled it, rescheduled it... apparently this surgery place isn't busy because they only pushed me out a few weeks every time I couldn't make it. I didn't want to be in pain the first time I met my stepdaughter, I won a Toastmasters speech contest and wanted to be in good shape for the next one, big deadline at work... reasons kept popping up.

Finally October 6th I could think of no good reason to not do it so I went in.

The dentist said the procedure would take about 20 minutes and he was right. 19 minutes of getting me numb and gassed up. The gas made me relaxed but also philosophical and chatty. I thought about telling them I was the tooth fairy. I talked about car insurance. We talked about cancer because it had been a bad day in the office, and cancer is on my mind, they had to diagnose two cancer cases and it made me feel bad that I was so worked up and stressful over my silly two teeth. They were happy to have me. I was simple.

19 minutes of getting numb, 30 seconds maybe for each tooth extraction. It was nothing.

I sat in the waiting room and read and bit on gauze then drove the the pharmacy for my prescriptions... why can't they ever give you those ahead of time to get them filled in advance when you're healthy? I wasn't great. Friday I was off work and sore and weak from not eating. I took one hydrocodone but didn't want to do too much of that so I switched to the 800mg ibuprofen and those worked but I could tell the instant it was time to take a new one.

I must drink coffee but it was mostly ice cream, I had some yogurt and protein shakes and soup that I blended up.

I am not terribly motivated to eat.

But today I'm also not in much pain, haven't needed to take anything, just a little sore. I can't talk normally and it's bothering me. I can't talk as loudly or quickly as I normally do. I'm thinking a lot about my voice - it'll be back, I know, I'm just thinking about how big a part of me my voice is. Especially now with my job. I spend so much time talking to people, running meetings, needing a voice.

With so many airplanes one of my teams said they miss me, they never see me anymore I'm not in the building full time. I told my boss this and his advice was to make sure when I am in the building, I'm with THEM. No sitting in the office with the door open getting work done assuming they'll come in if they need anything - go talk to them, spend all the time in conversations. It was good advice and I noticed the difference. It's also exhausting, because I am a fake extrovert.

How many days can I just sit and observe and not say much? I'm samson with the hair cut. Our voice is where our power comes from. I'd go crazy without it. It hurts my mouth to talk much now but I can do it. I hope it's better soon.


My neighbor passed away. We went to her funeral last week. There were bikers, rock-n-roll music, they laughed about her awesome clothes and quippy comebacks. We miss her. The girls will miss her, she was always sweet to them, she'd watch Olive on her days off just because she loved little kids and her and Olive had quite a bond.

She was a good neighbor.

It was cancer.

Then with her death from cancer I realized I forgot to check up on penguin_emerald...


She did get her last Christmas, but not much more, she died January 9th. She was diagnosed in February 2015, so not even a year...

It's not fair.

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