Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holiday Reading, End of Year reflections, and a Preview of things to come

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and Happy Holidays to the rest.

Finals are over, and I've been picking up many of the things I let drop over the semester.  Catching up on reading, catching up on news, holiday obligations, and this blog.  In the weeks between classes, I hope once again to set up a series of posts ready to go throughout the spring semester.  I have two drafts saved that I haven't been ready to share yet.

We made a library run at the beginning of the break, so I was able to catch up on some of the series I've been reading.  When I first encountered the Anne & Todd McCaffrey collaborations for the world of Pern, I read the books out of order and got rather confused.  But sometime earlier this year I was able to re-read them IN order, and they make a lot more sense now.  So, from this library run I was able to re-read Dragon's Time, with less confusion.  Followed immediately by Sky Dragons.  I really enjoyed both books.  They've made me think some more about the Pernese society, particularly the dragonriders.  Subtle things that I didn't pick up on as a teenager in the '90's, but recognized in more recent years.  I may well make a blog post or three out of those reflections, later.

I've checked out Tamora Pierce's Mastiff, but I'm not very far into that book yet.

Last year, for Christmas, I bought a Nook, knowing that I would be traveling several times this year, and hoping to save my back from the heaviness of my "to-read" list.  I have used it, both more and less frequently than I thought I would.  It has been great for airplane rides, but I haven't spent as much time reading in hotel rooms as I thought I would.  At home, my use waxes and wanes.  Many of the books and poems that I would like to read are now available as free ePub downloads from sources like Project Gutenberg.  A lot of classics.  So I've nearly filled the Nook's memory, but haven't read them as often or regularly as I would have thought.

I can remember, as a child, wanting to know EVERYTHING.  One of the items on my bucket list, is to spend a week in Washington D.C., just at the Library of Congress.  The beauty of the internet is, I'm not sure I need to do that anymore.  So many of the books I longed to read, are now available to me right at home, over the internet.  (Not always for free, of course.)

Naturally, the first books I bought for my Nook were the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit.  I first read The Hobbit in 3rd grade, when I was about 8 or 9 years old, and moved on to the ring trilogy soon after.  Growing up, I usually read those four books about once per year.  I can even remember searching the Offutt Air Force Base library for some books called "Edda," the Elder and Younger.  A long time ago.

My reading pace slowed as we moved around and I started college, much like my TV watching habits.  However, Peter Jackson's "Fellowship of the Ring" reawoke my love for Tolkien.  I couldn't get into The Silmarillion before Peter Jackson, nor most of the other Christopher Tolkien collections of J.R.R.'s writings.  Jackson's "Fellowship" changed all that.  I saw the movie 12 times in theaters and read most of the collections.  So definitely expect a post about "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" at some point.

I started re-reading The Hobbit on my Nook perhaps two months ago.  When I picked it up again over the holidays, (SPOILER ALERT)

the eagles had just set the party down.

I also have a list of about 7 or 8 non-fiction books, available through some online services, that I'm trying to finish by the end of January.  I'm not sure how much I'll write about those.

I may or may not write more posts about Glee here.

I have been thinking for quite some time about writing a post about cinematography (why, as a big Transformer's fan, I did NOT like Michael Bay's movie adaptations, how the advertisements for G.I. Joe actually made me decide not to watch it, either... and how they relate to my reasons for only watching The Hunger Games once).

I've also been thinking about the choices I make, as a parent, in screening my son's media exposure.  How my choices differ from what my parents chose. 

My hit count suggests I don't have a very large audience, so for now I mostly write as I please, but please feel free to leave a comment.  Is there any topic you're interested in hearing more of my thoughts about?  (I can not guarantee an answer.)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Touching base again

Classes seem to be going well so far.  It's been challenging, but I'm learning a lot.  I think I actually succeeded in finding a business school that's fairly supportive of my values!  I'm still rather impressed that that is even possible. 

My mother's MBA did not bring the career and financial stability she hoped for.  Then, when I went to the Purdue Leadershape camp, there were conversations with business majors, about business ethics and product recalls, that I found disturbing.  More on that another time.

My guys (husband and son) just finished a game of Castle Panic, and I'm waiting for my teammates to comment on my draft homework assignment, so I had a little bit of time.

I did want to mention, if anyone was following me for Glee reactions, I'm still active in the fan community.  I switched most of my Glee fandom-related Tweets to a dedicated fan account with an anonymous username.  That allows me to focus my by-name Twitter account on women-in-STEM, technology, and more conventional geeky topics.

It's also tied that Twitter to a Tumblr account for longer posts.  However, I am keeping those account anonymous in order to allow me to talk about some things I'd rather not tie back to my name.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Advice to the GOP

I don't call myself a Democrat.  I call myself a liberal Independent.  I never voted for Bill Clinton.  I sat out the 1996 election, through a combination of avoiding the complicated absentee voter system and not liking either candidate.

And yet, since I started voting in 2000, I have yet to see a Republican candidate at the Federal level that I would vote for.  I clearly remember seeing one or two Republicans that I thought were the best choice at the state or local levels, but not federally.

Really, it comes down to three major things:

1) The GOP's disrespect for women.  Women's Issues Were a Problem for the GOP.


Women, like me, who have been pregnant:

Obamacare, which forces insurance companies to cover "pre-existing conditions" like Down Syndrome, Pregnancy, rape, and domestic violence.

Women, like me, who are the breadwinners for their family.  In whose stable, two-parent home and heterosexual marriage, it made more sense for my husband to stay home with the baby, and typically cook dinner.
Senate GOP Blocks Equal Pay Act for Women

I actually wrote to my Republican Senator asking him to support this bill.  He wrote me back with a letter that (paraphrased, since I'm not sure where it is right now) said that he was voting against Equal Pay because it would harm businesses.  Sorry, I'm not buying that.

'Binders,' cooking and equal pay: Did Romney undo gains with women voters?

As I posted on Facebook:
Stop telling me that I don't deserve to make as much money as the man in the next cube, even if I work just as hard and produce better results.  (Note that this is a conflation of events.)
Stop assuming that *I'M* the one who needs flexibility for my family. In my family, that's
 predominantly been Brian's role.
Stop saying *IF* there are going to be women in the workforce. I am the breadwinner for my family, and I need the Republicans to acknowledge my reality.

Republican Joe Walsh: abortions to save mother's life never necessary
I've been working on the post(s) to tell that story, but it's on FB and on Twitter.  7 years and 8 days ago, I had an abortion to save my life.  I was 10 weeks pregnant.

It happened "accidentally-on-purpose," with my husband.  And then I forgot about the possibility as we went through the Texas Tournament, the Hurricane Rita evacuation, and preparing for our trip to Korea.  Until I started thinking through symptoms, and took a test, and it was so.  And I decided it was a good thing, and I planned to keep my child.

Until I ended up in the ER, and saw the ultrasound that looked like a pre-menstrual Uterus - all lined up with nothing to support.  The blastocyst had implanted in my fallopian tube, an ectopic pregnancy, even though I had none of the usual risk factors.  The pregnancy grew through the tube, rupturing it so that I was bleeding internally.  The salpingectomy that I had (surgery to remove the ruptured tube) is, oddly enough, the only abortion that the Catholic Church accepts, as "incidental" to treatment of my life-threatening condition.

10 weeks is not enough time for viability.

And then, on top of those comments, were these messes:

Indiana GOP Senate hopeful Richard Mourdock says God ‘intended’ rape pregnancies

The roots of Akin's 'legitimate' rape remarks

2) The GOP's disrespect for social and education services that allowed me to become the productive tax-paying citizen that I am today.

I've already written about being on the free lunch program as a junior in high school.  I was also on WIC as an infant.  My mother and youngest brothers went on WIC again when they were born.  In truth, all 8 of us ended up eating the cereal, milk, cheese, peanut butter, and such that we got from WIC vouchers.  Apparently, my mom thought it important that I know how to get that assistance.

I'm still at the college part of my narrative, but I will say that my experiences with poverty in the last years of high school and through college have been a strong motivating factor in my productivity at work.  I do NOT want to go back to the fear, the anxiety, the hunger, the uncertainty of (my parents) changing jobs every six months to two years.  I'd rather provide MY family with stability.

I take strong exception to being called lazy.  I also take exception to income being compared with the grades one receives in school.  While more studying can raise grades, more work does NOT necessarily lead to more income.  The wages matter at least as much, usually more, than the hours do.

And stop demeaning the poor, and those on public assistance. Just because I ate government cheese at my grandparents, and WIC cheese when I/my youngest brothers were little, does not make me lazy. If anything, it's made me work that much harder to make sure that I and MY family don't require that help.

Stop cutting support for education at all levels. How can kids POSSIBLY prepare for college if their preschools, elementary, middle, and secondary schools don't prepare them to learn and be productive in society. And stop cutting student loans, Pell grants, etc. College would have been easier if I had not had to work my way through it.


3) The GOP's misunderstanding and disrespect for science.

The start of this goes back to my comments on women's health and medical needs.

But it's also the GOP opposition to climate change, the biggest threat to  American society in the 21st century.  As I experiences with Hurricane Rita and assisting in the cleanup after Hurricane Katrina, hurricanes take a toll.  Climate change causes bigger and stronger storms.  On top of that, rising sea levels mean storm surges go higher and farther inland.

By all means, we could be working a deal with companies to help them transition to cleaner infrastructure.  We could be working on ways to save energy and water, so that more people have access to it.  We COULD be working together on this, if the GOP would quit sticking their heads in the sand and acknowledge that a problem exists.

And then there's the science that shows homosexuality is not a choice, people are born that way.  It's just part of the diversity of being human.

In addition to those three big ones, there are also some smaller issues.

What I like about the Republican Party?



- Most Republicans I know are good, honest, caring people. It's the politicians I take issue with.
- The devotion to & support for families. I just wish their definition of "good family" was not so narrow.  I stand as an Ally in support of GLBTQIA rights.
- The talk of fiscal responsibility, and the fact that many Republicans actually walk that talk.  I do believe in fiscal responsibility, just as I believe in social justice. (Too bad about the Bush administration, squandering the surplus they had. Perhaps another slate of candidates could make me believe again.)
- I do believe in the importance of faith in my life. I wish the Republican Party would recognize and acknowledge the faith of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. Sometimes I hear too much of a "Christianity is the only way" message in Republican leaders' speech-making.

If the Republican party, or even my candidates, would acknowledge these realities, then I would most certainly consider sending votes their way.  Until then...

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm still here

Hi,

I'm still around.  Grad school has been keeping me busy, and I haven't had time to refresh even the Follow Friday series this month.  My second class just started this week, so I'm adjusting to the additional workload.  It might be Thanksgiving before I can do any batches of scheduled posts.

I'm slightly more active on Twitter, so feel free to follow me there if you wish..

Friday, October 12, 2012

Follow Friday: Freakonomics Blog

I blogged once before about reading Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" within a week of reading "Freakonomics."  That was one of the experiences that helped me to realize that I am something of an economist.  So I was thrilled to realize that there is a Freakonomics blog.

I file it under "thinkers," because it helps me to think about and consider different sides of issues we may have thought we understood.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Follow Friday - Wayne Hale's Blog

Here is another post in my Follow Friday series.  If you haven't noticed yet, I have a variety of diverse interests that I am trying to cycle through.  Today's post is targeted towards the Space Tweep and enthusiasts community.

For those of you who don't know, Wayne Hale is a retired Space Shuttle Flight Director.  He writes now about his memories on the shuttle program, and space leadership.  Recently he has begun to reflect on the Columbia accident, in recognition of the upcoming 10 year anniversary.

As a space enthusiast, I was profoundly affected by the space shuttle Challenger accident 26 years ago.  As I worked and studied towards becoming an engineer, I have read about and studied many failure investigation cases, in an attempt to absorb the lessons learned.  Much like parenthood, I don't expect to avoid mistakes.  I simply hope to avoid making the same mistakes again.

I had made my way into the NASA family by the time of the space shuttle Columbia accident.  It brought back everything... with one minor difference.  In Omaha, mourning the Challenger astronauts, I felt isolated and alone in my desire to keep the space shuttle program going.  I felt like I was the only one who believed we still had to explore space.  In Houston, I wasn't alone.

Living in Clear Lake, Texas... among people who knew the Columbia astronauts personally, who felt the same commitment to space exploration that I did... Walking through the hallway in Building 4 at 4 am each week, where the STS-107 "Welcome Home" decorations were replaced by memories of the crew... It brought everything back.  I lived in Taylor Lake Village.  Right down the block from a neighbor I don't ever remember meeting.

Before Columbia, when I initialed something, I usually used all three of my initials.  Yes, I did feel amazed when I finally realized that my married name gave me the intials "KSC."

After Columbia, I began to embrace just using two letters.  My way of remembering.

If you share my interests in human spaceflight, I encourage you to read what Wayne Hale writes.  Think about the program decisions he and others made.  Work to remember the lessons of the past.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Follow Friday: PhD in Parenting

It was my friend Amy over at PrettyBabies who first introduced me to the PhD in Parenting blog.  Annie, the blogger at PhD in Parenting, was one of the first Work Outside the Home Mothers (WOHM) that I encountered over the internet.  Not only did she WOHM, her husband is a Stay At Home Dad (SAHD), as my husband was when I first started reading her blog.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Follow Friday: Budgets Are Sexy

Another feature that I'm working on is restoring "Follow Friday"s.  I follow enough blogs and news sites now to make this a regular feature, as long as I make time to keep writing & scheduling posts.

Budgets are Sexy is a personal finance blog written by J. Money, that makes personal finance interesting and fun.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Technology Tuesday: Evernote

One of the things I hinted at Time Management: Part 1, is that I usually have 6 or 10 different "projects" going on at the same time.

My garden is ongoing, it only took one or two years for me to realize that what I wanted to do with my yard was going to be a multi-year, possibly even a lifetime effort.

My writing, I just keep trying to make a habit of sitting down and putting my thoughts to paper and/or computer screen.  This goes for both fiction and non-fiction.

And then there is organization.  I've recently decided to start digitizing our recipe collection.  See, a year or so ago, my friend Amy over at PrettyBabies wrote a blog post about Evernote.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Patience is a virtue: A follow-up on preschool bullying


Almost two years ago, the parent's newsletter at preschool had a note asking the parents to talk with their children about bullying, there had been a few problems at the school.  I write a little about the journey on my previous blog (here: book reviews and reference articles and here: Memoirs, Pretty, and about fighting back).

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Money

So some Chik-Fil-A executive ran their mouth a few weeks ago.  You know what?  It's not about that.  Of course he has freedom of speech, he can say whatever he wants, and I'll go on my merry way.

But then, of course, it doesn't stop with speech.  Chik-Fil-A puts their money where their mouth is.  Nearly $2 million dollars worth in 2010, and the same in 2009.  Funding groups like Exodus International, which up until this year tried to change people's sexual orientation from gay to straight.  This is a scene from a play based on actual court records:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Life moves on...

I had started writing the series of how I got to where I am.  Most recently, I was writing about my first semester as a cooperative education student (aka, "co-op").

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Graduate school is exhausting...

... and I haven't started any classes yet.

Now I know why I took a break in 2010.  It wasn't just because my mother died in January of that year.  It wasn't just that my employer revised benefits.  Nor was it the other family health concerns that I have chosen not to write about.  And not just concern for my son, either, making sure that his needs were being met.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kids and opportunities

Some good things and some sad things today.
Good news: I'm officially re-admitted to Purdue's Graduate School through their Professional Education / distance learning program.  Once I get the log in information, I can submit my Plan of Study, and the other next steps towards registering for classes.

Sad news: Sally Ride passed away today, of pancreatic cancer.  It should come as no surprise to anyone who's been following my blog, that she is one of my heroes.  She was not who inspired me to want to work for the space program - I'm fairly certain I saw the space shuttle before she made history.

But I have some faint childhood memories of telling people that I wanted to be an astronaut, and some people saying that girls couldn't do that.  Even though the first female astronauts were selected in 1978, I guess they didn't register until Sally Ride flew in 1983.  That, that told people that yes women can.  THAT put a stop to THOSE comments, so thoroughly that I can barely remember them.  And for that, I am profoundly grateful.

I want this blog to be inspirational, to be a positive thing.  But the truth is, traditions can be deeply rooted and hard to change.  Our SWE section in Houston decided to invite high school girls who were interested in STEM fields to a holiday party with college engineering majors and professional women.  One school system, the guidance counselor told the woman calling, "Oh, none of our girls are interested in that."  As if they didn't need to ask.  Because they just assumed that no girls would want to do that sort of thing.

Which always makes me wonder, how many opportunities did I simply miss, in elementary school or so, because the adults around me just assumed I wouldn't be interested?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life in the Real World

Going back to my first co-op session, that spring semester...  All my life, it's like I lived under two different sets of rules.  There was one set of rules for school, where the teachers kept discipline without corporal punishment, and a different set of rules at home.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Time management Part 2

In Part 1, I listed many of the activities that I would like to make time for in my life.  Here, in part 2, I'll describe one of the ways to make it happen: My calendars.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Water Restrictions

Just in time for the 4th of July, my county has gone on water restrictions.  Houses with odd numbers can water on Tuesdays and Thursdays, houses with even numbers can water on Mondays and Wednesdays, with time limits.

I believe I've already written previously about the problems with grass lawns.  Among them is the matter of watering, pesticides, herbicides, using fossil fuels for mowing, etc.  Unfortunately, turning my Bermuda grass lawn into a more xeriscaped edible landscape, on a budget, takes a long time.  So most of my yard is still grass.

But along with the water restrictions has been some discussion of how we can better use the water we already have.  For example, bathwater is usually not THAT dirty, it could still water trees.  Bathwater, dishwater, and (usually) laundry water are all considered Greywater, that doesn't have to go down the sewer with the blackwater (toilet water).

Now, I do not have a greywater system in my house... yet.  Right now, my house is a typical suburban / urban house with all water going to the sewers.  So, to reuse greywater, I have to hand-carry it outside.  This morning, I kept a shallow washtub in the shower with me, and took what water it collected from my shower out to water a tree.  It wasn't much, but it can help.  If you use a dishtub, that water could go outside for watering as well.  Today I also read a suggestion of keeping a pitcher or something under the tap, to collect the cold water while you wait for it to warm up.

There are cautions to keep in mind with greywater systems, with what chemicals can be used in one.  The link above has some ideas, and a simple search can provide more.

The thing is... I don't think this drought is accidental.  Global warming changes weather patterns.  Previous years had made me think I lived in an area where we were likely to get MORE rain (flooding, etc.), but this year just proves that the climate & weather will not be consistent.  Sometimes we'll get flooding and too much rain, other times we'll get drought.

There are a LOT of steps we could take to be more water-wise.  More than turning off the water while you brush your teeth.  I have two cans that I've been planning to use to collect rainwater, but I haven't started using them yet.  Greywater systems.  Composting toilets, even.  I've also seen systems for composting pet waste, but I don't think I'm ready to try those just yet.

If this is Global Warming, then the issue is not going away, and our society will have to adapt to survive.  These things may seem a little strange now, but our children may find it hard to remember a time when they weren't used.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Time Management part 1

A few weeks ago, I made a list of things that I want to try to do regularly.  Here's what it is, with some comments:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Another suitcase in another hall...


As I mentioned, during my internship in St. Louis, I suddenly found myself with free time and space to start processing everything that had happened in recent years.


One of the first things I had to do at my new job, was locate and write down the addresses for all 8+ of the places I had lived in the 3.5 years since I turned 16.  If that's not a setup for asking "Where do I belong," then I'm not sure what is.



I had developed a pattern for moving.  One of the first things I did when I knew I had to leave a place, was take down my posters.  That made it obvious to me that I wasn't staying, and helped me get motivated to pack.  On the other side, often the posters were the last things I'd put up, when I finally felt settled in.

There weren't any love affairs involved, I don't want to give the wrong impression, but the rest of the lyrics to this song seem to fit:


I just had to shake my head with the realization that I had intentionally decided to move every 3 to 6 months for the next 4 years.  But at least this time it was my choice.  I knew where I would be, when.  I made connections in both locations, often with people who would still be there when I returned again.  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Story of Mom's Cancer.

This post has taken me a long time to write.  I picked out the photos first.  Wrote up the story, and then let it sit for a while.

June, 2007.  I returned from several weeks overseas to find 5, 6, maybe 7 voice mail messages from my family.  While I had been in Europe, Mom came down with a severe case of jaundice and digestive problems that landed her in the Emergency Room.  An exam found two tumors on her liver, and she had surgery to remove them for biopsy.

I only had about 3-5 weeks to decide if I was going to visit before my Obsterician grounded me... but Mom hadn't cleared me for her HIPAA yet, so I couldn't get very good information to make the decision.  We had so much going on that I ended up not travelling.  During that time, the tests came back with a diagnosis of Biliary Cancer, cancer of the bile ducts, also known as cholangiocarcinoma.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The outside life of a Student Engineer

January 11, 1996, I started my job as a student engineer.  Backing up a bit, my mother took the day off work to drive me to St. Louis, through driving snow and occasional blizzard conditions.  I had a furnished two-bedroom apartment, and a roommate.

My roommate had arrived to discover that "furnished" was minimal.  We had no shower curtains, no dish cloths or dish towels, no soaps or even toilet paper.  So about the time that I arrived, she was making a run to Target to pick up those essentials.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Blog Rate.

I set the goals at the beginning of the year.  I wanted to write one fictional story (fanfiction) per week, of any length (most of them tend to be short scenes, ~500 - 1500 words), and I wanted to write two to three blog posts per week on a given topic.

I've fallen behind on both.  On the fiction side, I missed a couple of stories while travelling last month, and another 1-2 a couple of months back.  On the other hand, travelling gave me the time to map out a multi-chapter story, that may have brought my average back to 1 per week.  On the non-fiction, blog side, I'm usually posting at least once per week.  While this isn't as much as I had hoped, I'm beginning to think it's more realistic.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Story on Federal Student Loans


This is adapted from my entry to the President Obama Tumblr regarding Federal Student Loans.

My parents are both first-generation college graduates.  My mother’s older brothers and sister went to college, but my father was the first college graduate in his family.

I grew up knowing that I and my siblings were expected to go to college.  And knowing that we would have to figure out our own way to get there.  My parents raised four of us on an Air Force Captain’s salary.  In order to send us to Catholic schools, we grew up without cable television, eating out was a rare occasion, we rarely traveled, and much of our furniture was purchased from thrift stores.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Family roles and support

I truly believe that family is supposed to be the place where you are loved and accepted for who you are.  One of the things I have learned in life, is that it is when a person is accepted, that they are most free to change.

There's a meme going around Facebook today, an image that says "Family isn't always blood.  It's the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are.  The ones who would do anything to see you smile & who love you."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Attachment parenting

As I wrote last time, May was a VERY busy month for us, and it looks like I'll be busy much of the summer.  I don't have any intention of stopping blogging, but updates may not be 2-3 times a week the way I had intended.

Attachment parenting has been in the news recently, in part due to the provocative (or inflammatory) Time Magazine article the week of Mother's Day.  As someone who tries to practice attachment parenting, I find that I have a lot to say about this article.

The trouble began with the cover photo and headline.  Other critiques have pointed out that the very pose is unnatural, nothing like what breastfeeding a toddler is like.  I know, because I breastfed my son until he was about 3.5, about the age of the boy on the cover.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Grandparents and College privilege

Life has been crazy the past few weeks, we have had a lot to celebrate.  Mother's day, birthdays, anniversary, cousins graduating, travel for work.  All those things that make life fun.

I wasn't quite done with talking about my second fall semester at Purdue.  That was an eventful time, too, and I haven't talked about half of it.  Some of this is about my grandparents, and some are about not fitting in.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Glee Nationals Reaction post

Okay, I'm stalling.

I have a lot to say about going on cooperative education, about choosing to do the Long-Distance Relationship.  If anyone wants to call it easy, it's not.  But we learned so much about ourselves and each other in the process.  And... getting experience in college most definitely got my foot in the door, made it easier to get a job when I graduated.  So, for me, as hard as it was to leave Brian behind, I had to do it in order to pursue my dreams.

Anyway.  Glee.  I loved Props, it was a really well-done show.  But most of what I have to say right now is about Nationals, because those are the fond memories I want to talk about tonight.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Space connections

Some time ago, I mentioned how when I was growing up in Nebraska, the space program felt so far away, like I had not connections with is whatsoever.  I was in college by the time Clayton Anderson was selected as an astronaut, my understanding is that he's the first astronaut from Nebraska.


My classmates seemed to think that working for the space program was an impossible dream, "You have to be SMART to work for NASA!"  Sometimes it seemed like my parents agreed with that assessment.

(The truth is that intelligence is a big help, but superhuman Genius is not required.)


Monday, May 7, 2012

Electrical Engineering


Before I move on to talk about my internship experiences, I wanted to talk a little more about what college was like my third semester.

I had finished the project that the Band had needed a work-study student to do, so I had to find a different job.  Brian had done well enough in school the last year, that he also needed to get a job. So we both started working at the cafeteria in his dorm.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Second Chances: Cooperative Education

I had interviewed for cooperative education positions in the spring of my freshman year of college, with no luck. One of the difficulties I discussed seemed to be proving my interest in aerospace on the resume, as an electrical engineering major.

So in the fall of my Sophomore year, I made a few changes to my co-op resume.  I added the Russian language I had begun to study.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Semi-random

My mom always loved to watch Figure Skating competitions on TV.  It seems strange, because I've only ever worn ice skates twice in my life, both the same winter.  I guess Mom loved the artistry, the music and the motions.

I don't even remember how many figure skating competitions we watched when I was growing up.  I knew a lot of the skaters's names.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Learning Russian

Over the summer between my freshman and sophomore year at college, I continued reading books from the space history section of the local library.  One of the books that I found, was Deke!, the autobiography of D.K. Slayton, one of the Mercury 7 astronauts, who flew on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission.  As part of the project, he had to learn to speak Russian, at 40-something years old.

Russian is a Slavic language, very different from English. Also, our brains are wired to learn languages when we're young.  It's still possible to learn new languages into adulthood, but adults tend to struggle more.  So, Deke wrote about his struggles to learn Russian.

I had always intended to study more languages than just Spanish.  Spanish was simply the first language I had access to.  Had I stayed at Mercy High School for four years, I was thinking of taking beginner French.  I wanted to learn German, Russian, Arabic...

Second Year fears

This was supposed to go out around 4/20.

There was a very surreal feeling to returning to Purdue for my second year.  Those who have followed my blog the past several months, since I started telling my story, will know that I ended up attending three different high schools.  Going to Purdue as a Freshman, was my fourth new school in five years.

With my first high school, Mercy, I had hoped to have four good years with my friends before we moved on.  I got two.  My junior year, at the public school, I had the possibility of a second year there.  I wasn't sure whether I wanted that or not, but it was possible.

Week of Space

I apologize, this was supposed to go out on 4/16, but it seems to be stuck "publishing" on my phone.

Last week was a good week for me, a lot of space events going on.  Saturday a week ago was Yuri's Night (observed) for the Huntsville area, with a huge party in the Davidson Center.  Yuri's Night officially is celebrated April 12 (4/12, get it?), in honor of the launch of Yuri Gagarin, first human in space, on April 12, 1961.  For anyone concerned about why Americans would want to celebrate that, April 12, 1981 was the date of the first Space Shuttle launch.  So it has become a World Space Party day.

Friday, April 13, 2012

First cut

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I had the recurring nightmare that I would be cut from the marching band.  I hadn't marched a show on the field my entire first season, and I wasn't sure which would be worse - knowing I wouldn't be performing all season, or failing the Challenges for every show.

I practiced playing, and tried to work on marching, but I didn't know anybody in South Bend who could help me.  I felt like I was on my own.  Brian was encouraging.  Dear Brother #1 was... not.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Discovering Space History

A few posts ago, I wrote about COMM 114, and how, when I researched my speeches, I discovered the world of space history: biographies, autobiographies, and so on and so forth.  I didn't stop reading when I had what I needed to present.  Even after my speeches were over, I looked through the stacks of HSSE to look for more, and when I returned to South Bend for the summer, I checked out the offerings at the St. Joseph County public library.

I had many reasons for studying space history.  Foremost on my mind was the common expression from George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  I made a promise to Challenger, that I would do what was within my power to prevent another tragedy.  If I'm going to do that, I have to understand where we came from.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Wisdom teeth

I must have seen the dentist when I went home for spring break.  Since I didn't have an internship or cooperative education job, I went back to live with my parents, sister, and brothers again for the summer.  As my second semester at Purdue wound down, my parents were arranging for me to have my wisdom teeth removed.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Time keeps on slipping

[EDIT: Updated on 4/8/12 to add photos, captions, and fix spelling mistakes]
I feel like the days are getting away from me.

The budget drive continues, I still have more work to do for that.  Last week was DS' spring break, so we took some time to visit family.  Mostly, we visited with DH's family, but I did make a side trip to have steamed milk and Chai with my little brother (DB3) and his wife at The Runcible Spoon in Bloomimgton.  He's a sophomore at IU, and I worry for them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Impostor Syndrome and siblings

My first semester at Purdue was pretty good.  I enjoyed most of my classes, I've already reported that I did pretty well.  The hardest part was not getting to march... which, considering that I never marched in high school, probably should not have been a surprise.

My second semester, was about the time Impostor Syndrome began to kick in.  Impostor Syndrome is a feeling like "who am I to do this?" or "I'm not as good as they say I am," or "feeling like a fraud."  It's not uncommon among women in STEM.  So, not only am I at about the right point in telling my story... the previews and spoilers for Glee's "Big Brother" are affecting me.  For me, impostor syndrome was brought on with a little help from my younger brother.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cooperative Education - First Interviews

When I was a student, Purdue's Cooperative Education program operated a little bit differently from most universities.  Purdue liked to distinguish between Cooperative Education and Summer Internships.  Most students could fit in 3 summer internships during a 4-year degree program.  Therefore, at the time I attended, Purdue's Cooperative Education Certificate required 4 or 5 semesters at the sponsoring company.  They preferred to have 5 semesters, beginning with the first summer after a student's Freshman year.

My first-semester grades were good enough, I was invited to work with my school towards finding a cooperative education position, a co-op.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dandelion seeds

It's a military brat thing.  A good case has been made, for the dandelion as the Military Brat Flower.

The hardest question for a brat to answer is, "Where are you from?"  My usual response is another question, "Do you want the long answer, or the short answer?"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

Sorry this is late.  I drafted it late Wednesday night, then realized I wanted to sleep on it before posting.  Life is really busy, our spring concert is next week, the Annual Budget Drive is in full swing, and I'm trying to learn Python for the Natural Language Processing class.  I'm still *trying* to post on Monday-Wednesday-Friday.

Every student that graduates from Purdue is required to take Comm 114, a course on communication, speech, and working in groups.  As a required class, COM 114 draws from a larger pool of students than usual.  Most of my other classes were full of engineering students, or Spanish majors/minors.  But here I met a much wider variety of students than I had encountered so far.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Heritage

The first time I ever visited Huntsville, AL, it was on a business trip.  I walked into the office on a Thursday morning, and at some point my managers asked me if I was willing to fly to Huntsville that night.  When you are young and childfree, as I was, the only appropriate answer to that question was "Yes."

One of my first encounters was with a very Southern gentleman who promptly asked me that question that is the bane of all military brats, "Where are you from?"
"Uh, well, all over."
"Where'd you grow up?"
"Nebraska"
"Yankee!"

The thing about being a military Brat is that... while I have an awareness of regionalism in the U.S., I don't identify with it.  I identify as an American, and that's that.  One nation, no North or South, no East or West, just one nation.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Supporting each other

In the last post, I wrote a little bit about our falling in love.  It's frustrating, that so many of the fairy tales and stories that we read, hear, see on television, etc..., so many stories just stop and handwave "happily ever after."  Because I know that the story continues.  That happiness may continue, but it's not a constant.  Nothing is.  Just because you've found someone, does not mean that everything else will suddenly go right.

Finding Brian was the *start*of something right.  But that didn't mean things were perfect, or that all troubles had ended.  I was only in my first semester of engineering school, at one of the top schools in the country.  I'd like to move on to the second semester for next post... but I don't want to sugar-coat college life.  I struggled with a lot of things, things that I think are not unique to me.

I was living in South Bend when the movie Rudy came out.  Everybody loves a happy ending.  But it is an unfortunate fact of life, that everyone has to choose what is most important to them.  In the things that mattered the most to me, engineering and a career that lived my dream, graduating from college was a triumphant success.

In other things that mattered to me... choosing engineering, and those academic pursuits, had a price.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Teenager in love

I was 18 when I started college.  The first week of classes, I noticed that the calculus assignments were work I had done before.  I checked the syllabus, and realized I knew 3/4ths of the material already.  So I went to the Freshman Engineering office, and asked about what I could do.

The advisers their told me that I could test out of that calculus course.  So we scheduled an exam.  I stuck with the class, took the test... and did not pass.  A different adviser gave me the results, and when I explained my concern that I would not do so well in a class where I wasn't challenged, he revealed that I had only missed passing by 5 points, about 1 question.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bonus post: 2012 Annual Budget Drive

Since I missed a post last Friday, here's a make-up post.  Life is getting busier, I start the Natural Language Processing course on Coursera this week.  I mentioned last week that I am co-chairing the Annual Budget Drive for my church this year.  As part of the lead-up, we asked people to give testimonials, describing why they attend the church, what it means to them, and why they support it.

In the spirit of leading by example, I gave my testimonial last week.  The theme this year, is GIFT: Growing Into the Future Together.  Here is a lightly edited version of what I said:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Solar weather

There has been a LOT of solar activity this past week.  Growing up, it FELT as though I had almost no connection to the space program whatsoever... but the reality was rather different.  For starters, Dad has quipped that the refrain of this song described one of his jobs:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Programming

One of the classes I took in my first semester was C programming.  The class was held in the huge lecture hall in the Class of 1950 building.  The class looked to me to have a decent mix of guys and gals, but then we were divided into sections for our lab homework.  While I had a female Teaching Assistant, I was one of only three female students in the lab.  The rest were all guys.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Astronauts at Purdue

This weekend was very hectic.  Worried about storms, trying to write, catching "8" on YouTube (not live).  

I'm working on the Annual Budget Drive at my church, and we're doing testimonials each Sunday.  The people we were trying to reach for yesterday's service weren't going to be ready in time, so I gave my testimonial.  Writing a 1-minute speech about what my church means to me and why I contribute to it... was difficult.  That sort of "from-the-heart" discussion is one that I usually prefer to improvise, since that seems to work for me.  But I need to provide the transcripts for the newsletter, and I can't do that with an improvised speech.  So I had to write it.

Anyway.  I promised to tell the story of performing for Neil Armstrong.  One of our first performances in the marching band happened on a Thursday afternoon, when we would normally be at rehearsal.  Purdue had just finished a capital campaign, called Vision 21.  The co-chairs of that effort were Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, the first and last men to have walked on the moon.  Both were supposed to be at this outdoor event on campus.  Later that evening / weekend there would be a big fancy dinner with the jazz band, but the $75 tickets were well beyond my student means.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Band camp, continued...

One of the evenings in band camp, possibly Tuesday, Roy Johnson (the Voice of the All-American Marching Band) spoke to the group.  He asked all the freshmen to stand up and look around the room.  After we had done so, he said that the chances were good we had just seen the person we would marry.  He also gave some good advice on time management, how to fit the 10-20 hours a week of rehearsals plus performances in with sleep, meals, studying, and classes.

Another evening, perhaps Wednesday, we started practice at the drill field and parade-marched back to Elliott Hall of Music.  Something like this, except it was evening:

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Interlude: Glee "On My Way" reaction post

Last week's episode of Glee was... intense.  Several dark storylines, and inspiring Regionals performances.

I tried writing a couple of "It gets better" posts on my old blog.  I'm not sure they're all that good.  Truthfully, I have experienced some AMAZING things in my life, at all stages.  Snapshots of some of the GOOD things that I will eventually talk about,  following the text.  There's just a little -- well, a lot -- of angst to get through first.

Monday, February 27, 2012

This one time, at band camp

One Monday in August, a week before classes started, my dad & my sister drove me to Purdue and helped me move into my dorm room.  Because I was checking in a week early, I had to pay fees for that extra week.  Also, all members of a residence hall are enrolled in a club, which has its own mandatory dues.

Purdue has a variety of options for living on or off campus.  Things have changed considerably since I lived there, I see that most of the dorms have become "co-ed."  However, it is worth checking what Purdue means by "co-ed."  When I lived in Owen Hall, at the time it was the only co-ed H-hall, and by co-ed it meant that one wing was for women, one wing was for men, and the common areas (the bar of the "H") were shared.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Meeting my first astronaut

The very last weekend before I started college, an astronaut made an appearance at one of the malls in town.  The way I remember it, I was able to attend because it turned out I was not needed to work on Sunday.  I brought three of my brothers along.  Kawphy (almost 14), Sguth (12), and we had to bring our youngest brother (20 months).

We arrived at the mall in time.  I found where the appearance would be.  The adolescent brothers ran off, I could see them on the 2nd floor balcony while the astronaut talked.  I've heard many astronauts speak since then.  The main quote I remember was about getting into a rocket built by the lowest bidder.

They were still upstairs when I got in line with my baby brother to get autographed photos.  I'm sure it looked bad, 18-year-old girl with toddler in arms.  But we got two autographed pictures, my brother's was even personalized.

It was so short, there wasn't a lot of time to talk.  Besides having my fussy baby brother, I mumbled something about being a "space case," which probably didn't come across the way I meant it.  I met up with my other two brothers, we shopped a little, and then when nearly everyone had cleared out, the four of us went back downstairs where the astronaut was heading out.

It was... different.  I don't know what I expected.  I learned a lot.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Registering for college classes.

Purdue had a Day on Campus for incoming students to attend over the summer, before starting classes.  It seemed like most students had their parents with them, but my parents didn't come.  I wanted to bring my high school friend, but they said no to that too.  So I made the 3-hour drive each way by myself, first road trip.

Monday, February 20, 2012

First real jobs

The summer between graduating high school and beginning college was a very strange, transitional time.  I took a job with a temp agency, doing secretarial (2) work, mostly data entry.  Mom had ensured that all of us were decent typists, we kept Typing Tutor software on the computer and were encouraged to practice with it.  But there's nothing like spending a ~40-hour workweek typing to really hone that skill.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

College funding

I've written about high school preparation for college. What classes to take, about college entrance exams, and choosing a college.  Today I'd like to talk a little bit about funding college and leaving home.

I'm a second generation college graduate.  My parents both attended Indiana University in Bloomington.  I grew up knowing that they expected us to go to college, and knowing that I would be on my own to pay for it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Role-Playing Games

I indicated in my last post that I got into role-playing games (RPGs) in college.  Actually, I encountered game manuals much, much earlier in life.  But I didn't really have a gaming group, or understand how to read them, until the summer before I started college.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rest in peace

Sorry that Monday's post didn't go up until Tuesday.  That was my second scheduling FAIL, I'll try not to let it happen again.

Sometimes it feels like everybody's dying.  One of the biggest factors in my move to Alabama was that my mother and grandmother were dying. I'm not quite ready to relate that story here, just yet. I'd like to write chronologically where I can.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Gender Roles

I'm set up to start talking about college soon.  Definitely this month.  This week, though, I think I'll continue to talk about different things instead.

I got into Glee just last summer, which means that I've been processing 2.5 years of material in about 6-8 months, where most Gleeks have had that much time to think it over.  I'm beginning to think that those 1- 2- and 4-week hiatuses actually give people time to go back over the previous episodes and think about the implications.

I am... often... slow to declare my favorite shows and favorite characters in public.  With Star Trek: The Next Generation, it was Wesley Crusher.  Hey, I was a geeky teenage girl.  I've already said that my crushes were usually based on intelligence more than looks - though Wesley had both.  And maybe my father was just trying to protect his little girl... although how a fictional character could really be a threat to one's virtue, I do not know.  But my father made sure I know about every criticism his co-workers had.  How they wished the character would leave the show, one way or another.

What I learned was to keep my cards close to my chest.  That to talk about the things I liked the most, just brought on more criticism.  Perhaps they didn't mean to attack me by attacking the things I liked.  But neither did it encourage me to be myself.  So perhaps I am making a mistake one more time, when I talk about my favorite Glee character.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Globalization and the Global Village

In elementary school, one of the things I wished for was to have lived in a small town.  (I have to admit, the year that we did just that, I discovered I didn't like it.)  Looking back, I believe what I truly was yearning for was the concept of the village.  This is much the same "village" in the oft-quoted proverb "It takes a village to raise a child." (See here for a discussion of the phrase's origins.)

I have heard that proverb used in many contexts.  Ever since Hillary Clinton used it as the title of her book, I have heard some Conservatives mock the phrase.  Which confuses me, considering how traditional the concept  is.  I've also heard many people talk about how, when they were children, it didn't matter how fast they ran home - the gossip of their mischief would reach their mother's ears faster than their legs could carry them.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Remembering

I want this blog to be inspirational, not depressing.  I didn't write this blog to be a downer, but somehow I managed to work most of my angst playlist into last week's posts.  To counter-balance it, I think I will post my playlist of pick-me-up songs soon, probably on Friday.

High school was hell.  Unfortunately, it was only round 1 of hell.  There were more rounds, later.  But the later rounds were also quite different.  I was no longer alone.  They say that when you hit rock bottom, the only place left to go is up.  I started college, I found my husband, and things started to look up.

I'm still here, I'm still trying.

And on Friday, for the second time, I submitted my application to be an astronaut.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Giving Arts a Chance: Senior year

We moved again, the summer between my junior and senior years.  My father's contract was not renewed, so he spent the summer looking for a new job.

I missed a lot of the job search.  My aunt & uncle in Oceanside, California were preparing to move, and needed someone to house-sit for a few weeks.  So for the price of a plane ticket, I spent the summer with them.


He found another job in South Bend.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Giving Arts a Chance: Junior year

So we moved from Nebraska back  to Indiana.  The place that is home, but not mine.  My mother's family has lived in Indiana since at least 1920.   My father's side of the family has been on the Indiana/Ohio border for about 200 years.

Mom grew up visiting her grandmother on Sundays, and playing with her cousins regularly.  I was lucky to see my grandparents once a year, and my cousins less than that.

We moved to a small town in northwestern Indiana.  Starke County, just north of Pulaski County.

I don't recall registering for classes, so I am guessing my parents registered me.  I'm not sure why I didn't take band that year.  Did I consciously choose not to?  Did they simply forget to sign me up?  Or did it have activity fees that they balked at?  It might not have fit the schedule that I had.  Regardless, I didn't take band.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Endless winters when the dreams would freeze

The summer between 8th grade and high school, was the summer I went to Florida.  I wasn't sure it would actually happen.  Truthfully, living in Nebraska, where the oceans were multiple days drive away?  We didn't travel that far, and I had never seen an ocean before.  Florida and California both seemed like exotic locations.

But I had an aunt & uncle living there.  They had a 3-year-old, and another on the way.  I could buy a round-trip ticket, and be their au pair for the summer.  Eight weeks, and I only got yelled at once.  (I don't count my cousin, she was only three.)  It seemed like heaven.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rabbits

I live in town, where backyard chickens are not allowed.  If I'm going to be serious about making my suburban yard as independent as possible, the gardening literature recommends raising rabbits.  I've done that once before.  I could do it, I've done it before.  Even if I just keep them for fertilizer.  But I hesitate.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Good teachers

I'm sorry I didn't get a post ready for Friday.  I was trying to decide what direction to go.  There were a lot of other things that happened from 7th grade through my sophomore year of high school, things I haven't described.  The summer between my sophomore and junior years, is really the pivotal moment.  That is when my world was shattered.

And I don't know how to write it.  I decided to finish the last two years of high school in this Giving Arts a Chance series, and then I can go on to other topics.  I have written the posts, and they will be posted.  But the order the facts are presented in, makes a huge difference in what the posts mean.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Giving Arts a Chance - Sophomore Year

Continuing my series of thinking about arts in my life.  My Sophomore year of High School, I was actually enrolled in band.  We had two bands: Intermediate and Advanced.  I was in the Intermediate Band.  This was the year I learned that the only other clarinet player in the school was a Senior.  I got to know her a little better that year, as the only other clarinet player.

Then again, she was out in front of everybody a lot that year.  She was selected as Mother McAuley for the senior's Mercy Day play, she got the lead in Godspell, the Fall Musical.  The school did that with an all-girl cast, it was cool.  And she was the lead for Cinderella, the spring play.  I was so in awe of her.  We exchanged pictures towards the end of the year, she wrote a note asking me to take care of Mrs. Jensen the next year.  I wish I could have done that.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Giving Arts a Chance - Freshman year

In my last post I wrote a little about the arts offerings at my first high school, and I thought I would elaborate on the classes I mentioned, the plays my friends were in.

Being the only student from my elementary school to go to that high school, I didn't walk into school with friends.  The day that we had class retreats, one of the Freshman activities was to make friendship bracelets, and then give them to someone in the class.  I guess the teachers figured out that nobody knew me well enough to give me one, so Mrs. Wells (my Academic Advisor, who was there that day) made up a bracelet and when we did presentations, she gave it to me.

Intro to Arts was required for all the Freshmen.  The school operated on a quarter/semester system, so the class was divided into four groups, and each quarter we rotated to the next class.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Memory

One of these days, I plan to write about new beginnings, starting all over again... about globalization, family, the village and the internet.  Every time our family moved, it was both a blessing and a curse.  It was an opportunity to start over again, to try something different, be a different "me" than I had been before.  It also meant that nobody knew where I was coming from, or why something might be meaningful to me.

My first high school was Mercy High School, in Omaha, Nebraska.  An all-girls private liberal arts Catholic high school run by the Sisters of Mercy.  I was there for two years, transferring to a public school just in time for my Junior year of high school.  But today I want to talk about Mercy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Choosing a high school

As I reached 7th grade, I wasn't sure what my parent's plans were for high school.  I knew money was getting tighter as my parents went back to school, and they now had 4 of us in Catholic school.  I half expected them to switch me to the public schools after I graduated from St. Mary's.

My mother did that, she went to a Catholic primary school and then to Hamilton Southeastern High School.  One of her brothers was chosen to attend a Catholic high school.  I wonder, now, if that influenced her.  If Mom wanted me to have an opportunity that she was denied.  I know sometimes I want that for my son.

My parents asked for my input.  If I were to go to a Catholic school, where did I want to go?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Careful what you assume

Sometimes I think I could do a lot worse, than be the person I was in junior high.  Running around playing tag with my neighbors, and such.  I was a long way from perfect, and did some things wrong.  But here's something that I did right.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hobbies and family support 3: Instruments

In part 2, I mentioned that my mother had taken a few piano lessons in college.  I'm not sure whether she ever took formal voice lessons, I would think I'd have heard if she had.  Mom & Dad actually had a guitar when we lived in Illinois.  I don't know what was wrong with it, but they put it out, cased, for trash pickup.  Mom said that the garbage collector did NOT put it in the back of the truck, it was placed in the passenger seat of the cab.

When I was in 4th grade, a band director (not our regular music teacher) brought in a variety of wind instruments for us to look at and try.  A classmate and I were looking over the woodwinds, both interested in the flute.  She tried the clarinet first, and couldn't get any sound out.  But I could.  She was able to get a note out of the flute, so the band director assumed I wouldn't.  I told my parents I wanted to play, either flute or clarinet. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hobbies and family support 2: Elementary school Vocals

I have always sung, around the house, wherever I was.  There used to be an old cassette tape of me and my mom, I was probably in preschool, singing some Sound of Music songs.  When I was a little older, I can remember singing "Hard-Knock Life" from Annie while I was doing chores around the house.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hobbies and family support 1: sports and classes

I read through Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers: The Story of Success" within a week of Levitt and Dubner's "Freakonomics."  Many of the ideas in the two books complemented each other, so that there are some concepts where I am not entirely certain from which book they came.  Since they were both library books, I don't have them on a shelf to check.

Both books talked about how social class can affect talents and hobbies.  One book spoke about a child who sang at their school.  The child had talent, the potential to turn it into a career and live a different life from what her family had known.  But the family didn't think of it that way.  Music wasn't seen as a viable career that could/should be nurtured and encouraged.  Instead, it was seen as a minor hobby, just something that the child did.


That hit home, for me.  It reminded me of a conversation with one of my aunts, about how her father, my grandfather, always encouraged education, but on practical things.  I don't think it's coincidental that of his 8 children, the 6 college graduates majored in subjects like accounting and mathematics.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all the best, health and happiness for the new year!

I mentioned earlier this week that Glee has been something like "The Artist's Way" for me.  Of course, it's not Glee alone.  It's also the Huntsville Feminist Chorus that I sing with, and a book from my summer reading (Horning in: The Grown-Up's Guide to Making Music for Fun), and waking up and realizing that all the things I had been stressing over for the past 4-6 years are... no longer worries.  Well, our son will always be a concern, but he's also a blessing :)

I've been reflecting a lot these past few months.  The previous time I wrote fanfiction was about twenty years ago, in partnership with a high school friend.  Thankfully, that piece of writing is NOT posted to the internet to embarrass me now.  The manuscript is safely unread on a shelf in my living room.