friday 5: expertise


What are you skilled enough at to get paid for, but do for your friends for no charge?
idk if this answers the question, but I have posted to my facebook friends that I will come to their house with my handy dewalt drill to install furniture anchors so fewer children are harmed by tipping furniture. Too many kids have been killed or injured by drawers, shelves, and TVs. I was deeply saddened to learn about all the accidents, especially as a mother of a toddler who had to climb EVERYTHING, it scared the crap out of me.

I wish I could do this "professionally" as a good deed for the world, start an army of moms with power tools going door to door anchoring furniture. but I'm too scared of liability implications. Heaven forbid we do one wrong, miss a stud, or do it right and it somehow falls anyway... the financial repercussions against me would be infinite.

So, I quietly offer my services to friends and run my own personal little awareness campaign but that's as far as it can go.

What did you used to be very knowledgeable about but aren’t anymore, because you didn’t keep up with latest developments?
In the early 2000s I assembled my own computer. I spent weeks carefully researching cases, power supplies, motherboards, videocards, memory, you name it. Of course all of that doesn't matter anymore. If you asked me who's the best videocard brand now, I wouldn't be able to name any of them, good or bad. And nobody cares anyway because we all have laptops and ipads. But there was a time I was an expert, and it was a workhorse of a PC for many years!

What are you skilled enough at to get paid for, except nobody actually pays anyone to do it?
I'll say sewing... not that nobody gets paid to do it, obviously, but nobody gets paid enough. The world thinks pajama pants are worth $10, even it takes me two hours to make a pair. For this reason my sister and I have a mantra: "only make handmade gifts for other people who make handmade gifts." We have learned to never make something for a person who flippantly says "oh that's cute will you make me one?"

What have you become super interested in only recently, and what’s something you know about it?
Landscaping, especially building my knowledge of types of plants that will die in my yard. Coral bells heuchera, sage, lettuce, purple rain... everything that dies I'm like well, now I know not to try that one. I did water them.

Who do you admire for his or her vast knowledge about a topic you care about?
everyone I work with who knows more about airplane systems than I do. every. day. I don't feel pressured to understand design, lofts, aerodynamics, it's the other little things... where is every valve, sensor, fitting and hose, what do they do, how do you tell if they're doing it right, how do you get to it. what's more, even people whose expertise amazes me say that they learn something new every day. Who knows when we can really call ourselves experts?

Queen Bess: Daredevil Aviator

I don't remember when I first heard of Bessie Coleman, the first black woman to earn a pilot's license, but every time I heard anything about her I wanted to know more. So I finally found a whole book about her.

You hear "first black woman pilot" (and first Native American pilot) and wonder what got her into flying, then you find out she was the oldest of 13 babies (nine surviving), she was born on a Texas farm in 1892, flying schools wouldn't teach black students so she had to learn French and study in France... you ORDER THE BOOK.

Bessie Coleman's parents didn't know how to read or write, but she got to go to school two years after the supreme court determined that black children deserved a "separate but equal" education. Black teachers, with barely a sixth grade education, would hold class in one cold room for grades 1-8 after the cotton had been harvested for the entire county. If the harvest took until December, that's when the school year started, and it would end when it was time to plant again. Bessie was her family's star and entertainment. They'd spend their evenings listening to her read, first the Bible, then an annual library wagon brought her books about black heroes... Booker T. Washington, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Harriet Tubman. That ten year old girl, tired of picking cotton, raised by a mother who told her children to "amount to something", must have gotten some ideas. She attended college after finishing the 8th grade at her school, but the college said her education was closer to a 6th grade level, and she ran out of money after one semester anyway.

In 1915 she followed one of her brothers and moved to Chicago. Texas was violence and poverty, fellow blacks were telling each other it was "better to die of frostbite than at the hands of a mob". She became a beautician in Chicago, part of a new exciting economy that included up-and-coming circles in everything from industry to journalism to organized crime. When her brother returned from WWI, he bragged about how wonderful Europe was, how impressed he was that even French women could fly airplanes. That's when the ambitious Bessie Coleman decided to be a pilot.

With financial help from black newspaper editors (they liked news, she'd be news) she studied French at the local school, boarded a ship to France, found the only school there that would train a woman, and learned to fly. She finished the ten month course in seven months, walking an 18 mile round trip each day from where she lived, speaking a new and unfamiliar language, watching other students crash to their deaths right in front of her. After returning to the US she went back to Europe for additional acrobatic training, and returned to Chicago in 1922 to try earning a living as a "daredevil aviatrix".

It was a tough living with lots of competition. She was constantly bragging that she was on the threshold of buying an airplane or starting a school for black pilots. She was not always honest about her age or achievements. But she definitely had the license and definitely amazed crowds with her flying. She wore a custom tailored uniform, refused to fly at shows where blacks were not admitted, chewed through managers who tried to tell her what to do, double-booked herself too many times, and was never quite financially ahead of the game. When she finally bought a plane in California in 1922, the motor failed on its maiden flight. She was pulled from the wreckage and badly injured. She took months to recover, and even more months to find the financial means to get back to flying.

She finally hit her stride when she went back to Texas in 1925. She flew rented planes at popular airshows and gave lectures for groups all around the south. It was a successful year, and 1926 could be even better. That year she finally had the money to buy a Jenny she'd been eyeing at Love Field, a "veritable shopping mall of used aircraft", crowded with surplus planes and parts. She made the final payments to the shop she'd had fixing an old plane up for her. The lead mechanic flew it out to her in Florida, surviving two forced landings on the journey. He took Bessie as a passenger so she could look out for parachute jump spots on a show the next day. The plane failed again when a loose wrench jammed in the engine. They both died in the crash. She was 34 years old.

She'd flown for 10000 people at single shows, and 5000 attended her funeral. She'd been a sensation, loved by children, credited with inspiring so many Americans, black and white, male and female, to fly.

She never gave up. Her story shows that getting the license, getting an education, making a story, can never be the end-all-be-all, she was constantly looking for the next step. She always had her dream of starting a school. So many aviation pioneers never lived long enough to see their visions develop. But of all the stories I've read, she came in with the least, and somehow outdreamed the most.

favorite animal subreddits

I think I'm going to do some lj posts about subreddits that bring me joy. I realize I was anti-reddit at one point in my life, but I've come around, I like the organization and voting structure of most parts of it. As long as you stick to the positive, it's great!

Anyway I follow like 200 subreddits but for the sake of livejournal, I'll split them up and throw out a few a week.

First up: what's more positive than animals? Yes. Here are my top 6 non-obvious animal subreddits on my list. I would love to entertain additional suggestions in the comments!

Dogue Majestic, stoic, beautiful dogs posing like they're on a magazine photo covers.

WhatsWrongWithYourDog The complete opposite. Dogs being dogs, in all their glorious weirdness.

RealBeesFakeTopHats Bees photoshopped to look like they're wearing top hats. Each post must have a real bee, and it must be wearing a fake top hat. They are very dapper!

TinyAnimalsOnFingers Frequently bugs but not always. Sometimes it's turtles or lizards or, on a great day, a tiny monkey. They are all small enough to just be on someone's finger and look really cute.

Spiderbro Spiders doing good work for the world, being celebrated as roommates or outdoor bug eaters. A community of spider love!

HappyCows Cows living their best lives! I still kinda want to eat them, sorry.

How I became a gay rights activist

pink_halen's birthday question for me: To what do you owe your tolerance and championing of the LGBT community?

Actual graffiti I spotted on a bike path last week in Wichita, KS. Yes. August 2020. Then again it might say “no goys”, the writing is pretty bad.

I have to admit this question stumped me a little bit! I tried going back and looking at 2004-2005 entries, when I really got sucked into The Fight. 2005 was the year Kansas tried outlawing gay marriage and all same-sex unions forever by amending our constitution. I was 25 years old, working overtime, struggling through grad school, and working this campaign. I was on the board of what would eventually become Equality Kansas. I started out as their website designer, by the end I was making phone calls and knocking on doors every night to tell people about the issues in the amendment.

We lost. But ten years later, we won. And I was forever an "activist", one of those people who's been to protests and worked campaigns, even though I'm no longer as involved.

My livejournal from those days has a lot about my feelings THEN, and my feelings for the future, but no nicely spelled out "how did I get here?" kind of entry, which is really too bad but that's the risk we take blogging our lives. It's hard to find the balance between writing about your whole life, and writing about your life this second. It's better than other social platforms where everybody's posting their lunch, but finding that balance is totally up to you.

With that said here are some factors that might have lead me to get involved:

1) I didn't know many gay people, but the ones I knew were wonderful. They were my sister's friends in theater in high school, there was the guy on the 2nd floor of college with a zillion friends, shrugging off the fact that nobody wanted to be his roommate. I loved hanging out with them.

2) I was a libertarian. I loved that pure philosophy. I was raised to believe in freedom and hate big government. I'd been railing against the power since I was 13. We had to change the world to be what we wanted. There was a time when women couldn't own property or attend universities, we were held back... I didn't want that happening to anybody else. What's worse, the republican party, defenders of this freedom, had been hijacked by social conservatives who didn't understand the original purpose of this great nation. Which brings me to my next point...

3) The Christians, defenders of love and tolerance, had been hijacked by social conservatives who didn't understand the words of Jesus Christ. I was extremely religious in my teens and 20s. I was convinced that God made the world and all the people in it, and that He tested each generation with outcast groups of people to see who we'd hate. Jesus' words were clear to me, I had no doubt that the Parable of the Good Samaritan was an order to me to treat everyone as a neighbor.

There's a story in John 8 of a woman caught in adultery. The Pharisees asked Jesus what to do. He drew in the sand with his finger as he considered them. Then said "let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone".

Someone random at my youth group once told me that Jesus was writing the sins of the Pharisees in words in the dust, that's what the writing was about, that's how they became so instantly scared. This strange psychic Jesus folklore isn't in the Bible, but it stuck with me as I read more and more stories of Christ sticking up for minorities. The Christian right wasn't just wrong, they were stealing my faith. Using the name of God for their own political power and blasphemy. The problem was somewhere else, they said, fingers pointing to the "sinners". Churches shrank as my generation rolled our eyes at it, and I was so offended.

Christians love to decode things, I am no exception. We love to read the Bible and use it to back up whatever our gut feeling is (gut feeling = must be from God). Plenty of people read the Bible and decided we should make homosexuality an evil illegal thing. I'm actually not sure why I went left on it... but I did.

4) And the final straw in the perfect storm... I felt isolated in Wichita. I'd lived there for several years without making any terribly close friends. As an introvert, I was great with that for a while, but it was starting to get old. So I went to meetup to see what groups were active. One of them was gay rights. I went to a meeting in a Unitarian church. We sat on chairs in a circle and introduced ourselves. I said that I was a political moderate, but in Wichita I felt way left and guessed I'd have to go to a group like this to find people I could identify with. I had cubicle mates at work telling me they hoped I'd see the light, truly find Jesus, and vote republican. Ha! I had found Jesus. Bullshit right-wing advice was what I needed to lose.

So that's how I became their website designer.

I was home in that group. I found love there, and made friends. I met strong experienced activists, energetic young people, I got invited to parties where people admired my margarita making skills, it was a perfect break from everything else going on in my life. I am still friends with them.

I've read more about identity based decision making... we make decisions based on thinking "I am this type of person, what would this type of person do?" I'm a straight woman, but the LGBTQ community was just counterculture enough, just welcoming enough, just nerdy enough, to make me want to be one of them.

So looking back I can't really kid myself that I was a Great Philosopher. It was the people who got me in and made me feel welcome. I looked at them and saw that I could call out injustice and change the world. I loved it.

I might have gone the other way. I also went to a local libertarian meeting, but it was pretty awful. Three hours, old guys talking around parliamentary procedures, no introductions, no one interesting. I walked out at three hours (they might have gone longer!) and never went back. Maybe that's why I later realized that most other libertarian fantasies were stupid. I am also not as devout a Christian as I once was. And I've given up trying to fix the republicans from the inside.

The only thing that stayed for good was my certainty that the LGBTQ community deserves all our love and support. We should look out for them in school so the bullying stops. Let them get married, adopt kids, visit each other in hospitals, show photos of their beautiful families on their desks at work. Just like us. The world obviously isn't all there yet. But we're working on it.

telling the same joke & my regular makerspace gig

Kids under 8 have to wear a wristband at the YMCA swimming pool. it's to signal to the lifeguards which kids need to be within arms reach of an adult.

So marc is checking us in at the front gate, surrounded by our kids, and tells the lady "We need a wristband." She says, "for you?" marc laughs his big giggly laugh and says "yes for me!" she smiles and says, "I've been waiting all day to tell that joke!"

walking away marc was still laughing but he said, "I bet she tells that all the time and it's really old to her." but I thought for a moment... nope! it's not old! it's her gig, right?

I used to give makerspace orientation every other monday, I had to go over how the place works, how it started, what it is, membership, policies, rules... and I got to really love giving that presentation. over and over and over again. Sometimes three times a night. I had to go pretty quickly to get it in the 20-30 minute range. I did have jokes. Some in the slides, some I told. I loved my jokes. Every time.

We had a rule about no illegal activity, I'd say "We haven't had many problems with this one, I'm not even sure what you'd do. I guess no making... crack?"

I explained we had lots of volunteer events throughout the year. "I spent last Riverfest in a tent teaching small children how to solder. Very few third degree burns!"

I'd say we do not allow project storage except on a very short term basis, because some makers start projects, leave them in a corner and forget about them, "YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE"

I'd talk about how your 14 year old can technically learn how to weld, if the metalshop area lead decides he/she is mature enough to pass the required safety class. But there's a flipside, if we approve mature 14 year olds, we can reject an immature 30 year old!

These were all things I'd worked into the presentation over time, and in MOST crowds I'd get a decent reaction. And it made it worth it! I could share the same rules again and again, but as long as people were making eye contact and smiling and laughing at my jokes, it was a lot of fun, and I never minded the repeats at all. Will I win open mic night? Probably not. Did my presentation get some people to join? I like to think so!

I wonder if the world is full of people who work with the public, who do the same thing every month/week/day/hour, and tell the same jokes, just to keep themselves sane? And maybe brighten some stranger's day?

it's worth it! keep at it, pool lady, we laughed!

friday 5: consumption


What would you consider your most recent major purchase?
Paid a mechanic to address the check engine light on my ford. The code said a PCM timing failure, I googled and learned the engine computer software probably needed re-loaded, and then I could learn what other sensor failures were lurking behind that one. I talked to a coworker who said reprogramming was possible, but he's bricked a computer before. That shook my confidence enough that I didn't want to try it. I unhooked my battery for an hour to see if the light would reset and go away. It did not. So I paid somebody. While it was there I got an oil change.

On what are you hoping to spend a good chunk of change in the near future?
Fixing the damn roof on my house. Waiting on two estimates, it's a race! One guy had to emergency fly to houston, another is waiting on the gutter supplier to get back to him.

When did you most recently resist the urge to splurge?
Well... for like three years, marc and I have wanted the inflatable sandworm from beetlejuice for our halloween decor collection. We might just do it.

When did you most recently experience buyer’s remorse?
I bought the wrong damn windshield wiper for the back of my car and might have broken the arm trying to get it on there. Ordered a new arm and wiper, it's on the way. It said it was for my model, it lied.

I can't decide if I regret buying new citronella votive candles for my back porch. After they arrived I got curious and did some googling... apparently they don't do a damn thing to repel mosquitos. But the ambiance is nice, so maybe it's okay?

What’s something interesting you consumed this past week?
My whole family consumed a mega-pan of lasagna that marc made. Dang I tell you, lasagna used to mean leftovers for a week! But the bigger my kids get, the more I find myself scrounging for lunches.

do you have a guest room?

We shuffled bedrooms around this month, again!

Our house is two stories. The upstairs has two nice size bedrooms and one small bedroom. Downstairs has one nice size bedroom and all the other living stuff. Over the years they've changed a LOT, because what do you do with that one really small room upstairs? It's like half the size of the other rooms.

Over the years we've been...

a family with one baby:
1 (large room upstairs) - our room
2 (large room upstairs) - guest room
3 (small room upstairs) - baby nursery
4 (large room downstairs) - sewing room

As a family with one toddler one baby, we moved Josie to the other big bedroom:
1 - our room
2 - toddler room
3 (small) - baby nursery
4 (downstairs) - sewing room? guest room?

I honestly cannot remember what we did with the queen size guest bed at this time. Olive slept in our room for a while. Where was she before we bought bunk beds, but after she'd outgrown the cosleeper? This is what a second kid does to you. I just have no idea. Wait maybe we kept Josie in the small room, but put the crib and guest bed in the big room?

Eventually it was time for big girl furniture. We bought bunk beds. And I made myself a sewing room!
1 - our room
2 - girls sharing a room, awe!
3 (small) - guest room
4 (downstairs) - sewing room

Then Josie wanted her own room. So we unbunked the beds and moved her bed out.
1 - our room
2 - Olive's room (you get the big one if your sister wants to move out, right?)
3 (small) - Josie's room
4 (downstairs) - guest room

Then Josie wanted a bigger room, and as a ten year old she didn't mind sleeping further from us. We realized we didn't really have guests that often, so we sold the queen size bed, mom gave us this cool trundle bed setup that fits in the room way better.
1 - our room
2 - Olive's room, now with bunk beds for sleepover friends!
3 (small) - office, maybe? Marc bought a desk.
4 - Josie's room

The guest room was also C's room but she NEVER wants to stay with us, and we rarely have guests, so I had this epiphany... when we have guests, we shuffle kids. A guest can steal Josie's room, she can sleep on the basement couch. That's what lots of families do, right? I think I did that growing up. Who has real estate for a guest room?

I haven't done a poll in a long time, so...

Poll #2104459 Guest rooms

Where do you put your guests?

Official Guest Room
Multi-purpose room that becomes a guest room
Shuffle other family members to give a guest their room
Common area couch
My home is one giant room, like a desert yurt
Tent in the back yard
Tell them to get a hotel
I never have guests

What do your guests get to sleep on?

King/Queen bed
Twin bed
Sofa sleeper
Regular sofa
Air mattress
Pile of straw and corn husks

Post-covid, can I crash at your place?


covid-19 update

It's been a while since I wrote about coronavirus. still dodging, nobody I'm close to has it.

I guess my county stopped tracking recoveries so we don't know how many active cases there have been, but we've had about 5500 total cases and 50 deaths.

We are masked up at work, unless sitting at our desks. But for moving through hallways, elevators, restrooms and cafeterias, it's all people in masks.

We are masked up in public, at the grocery and hardware stores. I have no idea what the laws require, I can't keep track. Every time the governor mandates one thing the county says they won't enforce it but the mayor says he will but the city council says they won't but the businesses say they'll require it... so who knows! I just throw my hands up and figure hell, I'll wear a mask. And I see others wearing them too. So maybe the end answer was to wear a mask?

In my zip code of 10000 people, 1400 people have been tested, there have been 250 cases. I have not been tested. To my knowledge I haven't been exposed in any way.

The kids are supposed to go back to school after labor day, September 8. I feel like it's "school chicken"... like, are they really going to open schools? They're supposed to wear masks.

Olive immediately said "but I'll get coronavirus!" I tried to assure her that her school will keep her safe.

Josie hasn't said much. She's 10, and her interactions with us seem to be decreasing with age. She's never been a real wordy kid when it comes to explaining her feelings anyway. The idea of going back to school gets a shrug.

I know it's a stereotype, but I do think she'll be great in a technical field someday, given her total lack of attention to both her own and anyone else's emotions. The most talking she does is insulting the boys she plays with on fortnite. She can trash talk a manifesto. Then I see her in the kitchen getting food, ask how she feels about school, and she shrugs. Then she opens a cabinet and says with a smile, "Cereal".

One day I said, "Josie, we need to talk about how you only speak in single words."

She said, "No."

maybe that's why my livejournal doesn't have as many covid-19 entries these days? we've all mastered the art of focusing on the one thing right in front of us. School is weeks away, weeks I tell you, why is it worth worrying about?

maybe this will be in the livejournal top 25

Anybody ever had an entry in the livejournal top 25? It pops up sometimes for me, apparently it doesn't take much to be in the top 25, these entries made it:

How to disagree with people 8 comments
How to exercize 3 comments
single pushbuttons that cycle through too many modes 7 comments
Pomona lake cabin 3 comments

I mean, that last one about the lake was really boring. What's weird is that my most commented entry recently, frugal internet groups had 14 comments and was not in the top 25. I think it's more interesting than several of those others. Maybe a busy news day?

livejournal has these user ratings too, where I have always been firmly in the 200s. That implies that there are 200 livejournals on that list who are as cool or cooler than me, right? But no, they're mostly in other languages or totally not updating anymore. I don't care about moving up, but the randomness is annoying. It makes me wish there was some genuinely interesting way to find people I should have friended, entries I should comment on, news I might have missed. I think good things are happening all across livejournal but we're all in our own little silos.

friday 5: back one decade

from and the actual post has some wikipedia links to help jog one's memory, which helps! especially since I had a baby in 2010 and was probably blindsided :)

What are some albums you really like from 2010?
Yeah I have no idea. Apparently Kesha went big that year. I didn't have the album, and she later revealed that her early career was associated with unspeakable tramas that I cannot ignore in hearing her early party albums.

What are some songs you remember fondly from 2010?
Besides Kesha, I remember learning about vuvuzela horns during the world cup. They were loud and consuming and brought tears to my eyes seeing a crowd swell together with energy. Of course, I'd had a baby, so I was crying a LOT.

What’s your favorite movie released in 2010?
Nothing overwhelmingly memorable but wasn't The King's Speech wonderful? I'm surprised that The Social Network won so many awards, but it was good too. The fact that it's ten years old now really says a lot about the staying power of facebook.

Which television programs* debuting in 2010 did you rather enjoy?
I don't remember anything I watched. I remember feeling like I got to the end of Netflix when I was on maternity leave, but it totally runs together. What was I watching? It's really gone now. I don't recognize any popular shows listed for the year.

Which events in 2010 bring back good memories?
I know I said a lot of bad things about that baby, she deprived us of sleep and had extreme anger management issues. But she's grown into a unique and outstanding kid. 10 is a great age. Even with all the craziness of that year, I remember wonderful things, watching her grow strong and sturdy and cute. The strange new wonderfulness of a baby. That was 2010.