Monday, November 23, 2015

Music Monday: Music and Learning

Today's music calls for a longer introduction.

See, in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders series, the Harpers of Pern are, among other things, the teachers of children and keepers of culture. Being harpers, they teach through music.

As a child of the '80's, I grew up with Sesame Street and Schoolhouse Rock, programs that used music as a tool to teach anything from grammar, to math, to civics and socialization. I know that there have been many catchy tunes that I would find myself singing over the course of my life, many different lyrics I've learned.  When an uncle showed me pictures from his time in Austria, I recognized Eidelweiss from the "Sound of Music" song.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Music Monday: I Ain't Afraid

By the excellent Holly Near, and at the risk of jumping to conclusions about recent events:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Feminism Friday: Warrior Feminism

Recently I wrote briefly about a history of violence.

Several of my posts have pointed to the diversity of feminisms available in today's discourse and thought leadership, from Radical Feminism, to Global and Transnational Feminisms in general and intersectional feminism in particular, a bit of Corporate Feminism, and also Technocratic Feminism.

Many of the best-known feminisms operate from principles of non-violence, often building on the teachings of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and put into practice by Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and many other civil rights and social justice movements since their eras. These feminisms work within traditions of Social Justice that call for civil disobedience and that put into practice principles of nonviolent resistance to police, military, and other civil authorities.

I support this effort. I certainly do not agree with terrorism or violent means to the end of equal justice for all. I will not support such violence.

However, I struggle with the idea that all feminism must be pacifistic. Specifically, I struggle with histories that look back to mythical ancient pacifistic matriarchies of the Middle East or Europe. (My non-Western Texts & Images course was only a semester long, way too short to discuss how African, Australian Aborigine, Pacific Islander, or Native and Indigenous American civilizations governed.) I have been influenced by the book Warrior Women: An Archaeologist's Search for History's Hidden Heroines and further reading on the subject.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Parenting, Discipline, and Authority

This is the fourth post in my series on Biblical patriarchy. It has been on the back burner for a while, but recent events have brought it back to my mind again. I'll start with this meme, which has been circulating on Facebook. (I don't know who created the image.):

In Biblical households, this concept of respect is given additional emphasis, because one of the 10 Commandments is to "Honor thy father and thy mother." (Whether this is the 4th or 5th Commandment, depends on whether you use the Jewish, Catholic, or Protestant enumeration.)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Music Monday: The Golden Key

A friend shared this lovely video this week:

I think it does a wonderful job illustrating how Art interacts with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Violence and History

A little bit of military history, to start us off:

Much of today's military continue to follow principles that ancient armies developed and then the Roman Army perfected.  For example, the phalanx and shield-wall, which required extraordinary discipline to maintain the soldiers in tight formation.

Now, this shield-wall is mostly stationary, and only holds together for a short time, but it gives an idea how shields can interlock and be used:

At Disney World's Epcot Center, we took the ride, Spaceship Earth as it described a history of communications. Spaceship Earth, like most Western Civilization courses, traces back from Egypt to Greece, and then Rome. Bypassing most of the Fertile Crescent cities (clay tablets are more portable than cave walls!) and the Eastern Civilizations in India and China altogether.

It's... cognitive dissonance, to think about how Rome is held up as this pillar of civilization (granted, there was literacy, philosophy, mathematics), when we also know that it was cruel and brutal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Time Management and Health

Last month I posted an article on Root Causes and Health, tracing health back through prenatal care, maternal health, and even grandmother's health.

There is another aspect of health, that Fortune covered this week: Is Silicon Valley bad for your health?, which highlights some disturbing trends. For one, employees feeling "too busy" at work to have time to establish a Primary Care Physician, or to take care of their regular medical maintenance (annual physical, bi-annual dental care, etc.).

Monday, October 26, 2015

Music Monday: Changes in Attitudes

This is a song that my family enjoys, several of the lines convey real truths about life, the universe and everything:

Most particularly:

  1. Nothing remains quite the same, and
  2. If we didn't laugh we would all go insane.
Some of the things that changed my attitude regarding GLBT issues, were a) knowing someone, and b) remembering that Jesus hung out with the tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, and in general the outcasts of his day. 

If he were teaching today, he would be doing it in the midst of the GLBT community, among others.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Feminism Friday: Spiritual Feminism

Previously, I mentioned how feminism can coexist within traditional and specifically Abrahamic religions, as they draw on the historical women of faith. As I understand Jewish and Muslim teachings where there is just one God, God is beyond gender.

This week I thought I would give an intro to some of the other spiritual paths that feminism has taken. In particular, the remembrance of the divine feminine. The rest of this article may be offensive to some Christians and non-Christian believers in the Biblical preachings against Canaanite goddess-worship.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Light and Darkness

My primary school library had a set of books, perhaps a trilogy, in the fantasy genre, which I very naturally read. I've looked for the books in adulthood, but have not found them yet.

The story is about a family that inherits this amulet, passed down from generation to generation. The amulet has an image of a black dog on it, and of course it is magical.  If I remember correctly, under certain conditions the black dog will jump out of the amulet to protect the children.

But there's also a way that the child(ren) in the stories can travel to another world... a world in which the bad guys are a priesthood, dressed up in white robes, and actually rather frightening.

The stories fascinated me, the way they reversed the imagery I was accustomed to. For a time, I contemplated working on another reversal, a world where left-handedness was considered normal. I still haven't written that story... it seems too hard to do well, without wielding it like a blunt hammer.

Of course, the stories got me to thinking.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Every Girl a Princess

I went to Disney World, for reasons that may become clear in later years.

One of the things I observed, was that the cast members all seemed to call little girls "Princess." And, of course, it got me thinking.

One of my more unexpected tastes, for being such a geek, is that I quite enjoy story "A Little Princess" in all its forms:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gardening the Americas

Yesterday, with Columbus Day / Indigenous People's Day, I was pleased that most of my friends shared the truth: Christopher Columbus may have been a brave sailor, but he was a cruel, cruel man.

One of my friends shared this book excerpt from The Atlantic: 1491 , which I will come back to later in this post.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Realities of Pregnancy

Content Warning: Pregnancy Loss.

Many of the discussions about Planned Parenthood and abortion, often reveal ignorance of the #RealitiesOfPregnancy (Hashtag courtesy of Sarah Tuttle, @niais , from July). As Slate writes, "Childbirth is also gross and scary."

Part of the issue, is probably the lack of awareness of just how scary and dangerous pregnancy and childbirth can be. October is Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness month, so here are a few facts about that:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Peace, Anger, and WWJD

I originally intended for "Trauma, Society, and Awareness" to go here, after my Evacuation story. But I picked the wrong date, and it published on Sunday night. So I'm going with it.

I mentioned that there are three books I picked up at the August Chorus retreat. I wasn't sure if I would list them or not. Well, here they are:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


The text is a partial repost from my LiveJournal in May of 2011, entry now locked from public view, with minor additions.

September, 2005
We had been living on the Gulf Coast for five years. Every time a hurricane entered the Gulf, we'd waited and watched to see what would happen. Usually with concern, prayers for the region. For Katrina, with horror.

So far, all of the hurricanes were far enough away that we continued living a normal life, watching the news north, east, south, wherever away from us the storm hit.

Hurricane Rita was different. It was not just that it came mere weeks after Katrina hit New Orleans.

As before, we watched and waited for a few days. Tuesday night, I closed out class at the Dojang, and it occurred to me to say something to the few youth who were present, about being patient if their family evacuated.

By this time we were well aware that we were supposed to evacuate for even a Level 1 hurricane. We knew our evacuation route. It went the wrong direction for where we thought we would go. What that meant was that, in order to take the route we wanted, we had to leave before evacuation became mandatory.

Wednesday, I think, I woke up with the urge to GO, get out of town NOW.

So we called in "evacuating, using leave" to work, and we packed up.

If you ever want to know what you care about most, try packing to evacuate.
Things that made the list:
  • photographs
  • Grandma's quilts
  • clothing for several days.  I think  I packed for both casual/family and work
  • toiletries (though really, these could be purchased afterwards)
  • pets, and supplies for their needs.
Once we packed up, though, we didn't head north immediately.  First we went south, to check on a friend.  I'm afraid we weren't successful in our help, but we tried.

It was about lunchtime when we began to inch our way back north... and we actually stopped for a late lunch back in Clear Lake, maybe 30 minutes before the restaurant was about to close.

We finally left Clear Lake, TX, on the south side of Houston, about 1 pm.  It normally takes about 60 - 90 minutes to reach The Woodlands on the north side of Houston.  For the Rita evacuation, it took us 5 or 6 hours.

This was while my sister was in Iraq.  In addition to our 2 cats, we were watching 3 for her (2 of her own, one for our brother).  So we almost had to take both cars, splitting the cats between us.  We managed to stay together, through it all.

Somewhere towards the north of town, my husband held up a sign in the back window that said "Cat 5".  I saw it and got very confused.  Yes, we're transporting our 5 cats... what do you mean?
It wasn't until later that I heard on the radio that Rita had been upgraded to Category 5.

Somewhere on the north side of town we stopped at a Joann's fabrics to use the restroom.  I picked up some thread to make friendship bracelets after we had reached our shelter.

Farther north, we fueled up at a gas station / barbeque restaurant.  And there we saw a car we recognized, and stopped to greet our fellow evacuees.  Kind of a "You're out?  Good.  We're out too.  If you see someone we know, you can pass the word along."  I probably shouldn't have been surprised, we were all heading to the same state.  In point of fact, if some of my relatives had not moved back to Indiana before then, we could even have ended up in the exact same town.  But since they had left before I ever visited, there doesn't seem to be any point in mentioning connections to a town I've never seen.

We made it to Dallas about 11 pm, and started looking for a hotel to stop for the night.  At first we went looking for one that would accept cats.  But by 1 am on the north side of Dallas, we settled for a room for just us.  The night manager gave us a "no show" room.  I only asked for a couple of hours, standard checkout time, but he gave us until 1 pm.

We got the cats out a couple at a time, for food, water, and a chance to 'walk' on a leash, and then left them in the car overnight.

My husband was much more alert and thinking than I.  We woke up in the morning, and went to check on the cats, they were starting to overheat.  It was a good thing we had both sets of keys, we ended up purposely locking ourselves out of the cars, leaving them running with the A/C, while we got brunch.

And later that day, we arrived where we were going.

Things we learned from Hurricane Rita:
  • Evacuations are not fun for anyone.  It's important to find the right balance of patience and creativity.
  • When the power goes off, gas stations can't pump gas.
  • By the time the emergency is upon you, it's usually too late to go buy supplies.
  • Our church did not have a great accountability plan ahead of time, to know how our members were doing, who was evacuating vs. who was riding the storm out. We somewhat developed one on the fly, over e-mail. Today's technology may make it easier.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Music Monday: Voices that Challenge

This is a song that I learned at Purdue, at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center. It's been 17 years since we sang it, but it still comes to my mind often.

15 years ago, I did the first set of short-term travel from Houston; 5-6 weeks here in Huntsville, Alabama to ensure the ISS Lab and Airlock would be ready to fly.
One weekend driving in downtown Huntsville, I passed the traveling Vietnam Memorial, and I stopped to walk it.
It was solemn, and massive even at 1/2 scale.

Near the Wall in the area was a cart, part of the traveling display, which showed photographs of rallies and activists from that era. I was intrigued to see, in close proximity, signs from Catholics and Unitarian Universalists, protesting Vietnam together.
Four of the faith traditions that inform my personal path (Catholic Liberation Theology, Unitarian Universalism, Egalitarian-Feminist Wicca, and the United Church of Christ), connect our faith and spiritual beliefs to our actions in this world. They seek to drive some level of alignment between our faith and our actions.

"Be the change you want to see in the world."

I know I can't do everything. As Stephen Covey describes, my circle of concern is larger than my circle of influence, and my circle of control is pretty much just myself. But I can do something.

A small group of committed people can change the world, for the better. If the influence of what I share inspires you to be one of those active and committed people, then my posts have done some good.
And if the articles are not convincing, then no harm is done.

I do my best to avoid the partisan mocking and biting in most of what I share, especially to the bigger "friends" group. That aspect of politics, I'd just as soon do without. I know that I have friends and family who are conservative, Republican, and/or Libertarian. Those things alone don't offend me.
What does offend me is intolerance, the -isms and -phobias that come from fear and lead to violence.

Trauma, Society, and Awareness

Twice in my career, they've made trauma counselors available to us. Once after 9/11, and again after Hurricane Rita. I don't recall trauma counselors after Columbia's re-entry.

Really, I think everyone in the United States was traumatized by the 9/11 events, although for many of us the shock came at some remove.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Feminism Friday: A Little about Radical Feminism

I've often discussed global and transnational feminisms and intersectionality on this blog. These branches of feminism are particularly developed by women of color (for example, Kimberle Crenshaw developed intersectionality).

I've touched on White Feminism, but I haven't discussed one of its major strains: Radical Feminism.

Radical feminism was part of the women's liberation movement and second-wave feminism in the 1960s, and continues as a strain of feminism today. As with any other feminism, there can be many variations on the theme. The Chorus I sing in recognizes that feminism can be defined in many ways, and does not attempt to define the feminism of the singers.

In my encounters with radical feminists online, they appear to build on the concept of the gender binary, and the ways in which society has allowed anatomy to determine a person's destiny as a human being.

Many of the radical feminists online criticize religion as a tool of the patriarchy, and particularly religious dress as a form of women's oppression. Transnational feminism (which intersectionality is a part of) recognizes that many women draw strength from their faith, even if it is one of the traditional Abrahamic religions. There are Muslim feminists, Jewish feminists, Catholic and other traditional Christian feminists who draw on the stories of the women in the respective traditions.

Some radical feminists are "trans exclusionary" (what intersectional feminists may abbreviate as "TERF"s), who consider trans women to be men invading women's spaces. While they have a few good points about how men should be allowed to wear whatever they want, and all genders should be able to do whatever jobs they want... so many of the arguments in the Wikipedia article are harmful.

Unfortunately, the exclusion of trans women from feminist spaces has had the effect of leaving trans women unsupported, with nowhere to go. Trans women (and men) have unique insights into the kyriarchy and systems of oppression, that cis-gendered people don't experience, as this article discusses:

Why Aren't Women Advancing At Work? Ask a Transgender Person.

Because Intersectionality embraces non-binary gender expressions (as well as a variety of religious beliefs and expressions), proponents of intersectional feminism often find themselves in opposition to radical feminism. Intersectional feminism recognizes Trans women as women, and works to include these women in their safe spaces.

I will admit that on my journey towards becoming an LGBT Ally, it took me longest to understand the transgender aspects. But knowing someone, caring about someone, made it easy. I don't need to know their anatomy, I just need to treat them with respect and honor their preferred pronouns.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Root Causes and Health

One of the processes used in Engineering, is Root Cause Analysis. There are several different methodologies for Root Cause analysis, including 5 Whys.

What I want to do here is more of a thought experiment than a formal engineering process.

In Monday's post, I started to discuss the things that help to maximize human potential, things like:
  • Healthy relationships (not abusive ones)
  • Proper nutrition
  • A body as healthy as possible
  • Adequate sleep
  • Limited stress
The thing of it is, none of these begin in adulthood. Workplace health costs will continue to rise until we learn to address these issues at the root. Because our health doesn't begin when we become adults.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Music Monday - The Greatest Love of All

I may have linked to this once before, but many of the lyrics are coming to mind for me again in the wake of last week.

Dr. Chanda posted her Black & STEM Playlist, and the song above is one of the ones on my STEM Women playlist.

I believe the children are our future. Girls, boys, every color.

My mother read a lot of self-help books, ones that discussed human potential, so I've grown up thinking about what we as human beings need in order to be our best.

  • Health helps, a lot. It may not be required to be a good person, but a healthy body can train hard, study hard, or both.
  • Proper nutrition, which fuels a healthy body.
  • A good education, which supports our interests and allows us to follow our unique gifts.
  • Opportunities, not only for extra-curricular activities, but also internships, role models, travel, etc.
  • Supportive relationships.
I spent one summer in Florida when I was 14, and heard a sermon topic: "People become who we say they are," about the human tendency to live up (or down) to expectations. I'm pretty sure the minister kept most of the examples on the positive side. As I've matured and learned more about abuse, I've learned more about how true this can also work to the negative. I've never forgotten that.

Independently, during my adolescence, I came to believe in the UU first principle: "The inherent worth and dignity of every human being." Each and every person matters, and that is why Black Lives Matter (too).

And Ahmed Mohamed's life matters.

I really don't care whether he developed his clock from scratch, or transplanted it to the pencil case from existing 1970s technology. It's the curiosity that matters for electrical engineering. Everybody has to start somewhere, and many engineers begin by taking things apart. That is good, and should be encouraged.

Women engineers, though... I was not encouraged to disassemble things as a child. We didn't own a lot that *could* be disassembled, and what few electronics we had... I preferred to keep intact so we could keep using them.

Many of the articles I have read about diversity in STEM point to a need to allow late bloomers as well as the people with early interests to find their way here. For example, Harvey Mudd's efforts in computer science.

Friday, September 18, 2015

I Stand with Ahmed - the Economic Importance of STEM Education

I saw another article that included quotes from Dr. Lee (@dnlee5). I can't find the link to share, but I *think* I'm seeing a trend in more "ask the people most affected" reporting. If so, I think that's a good thing.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Legal, Ethical, Moral

Recent news events have reminded me of the final lesson in my Negotiations class, as we discussed negotiation ethics.

Keeping in mind that the professor was a lawyer, he pointed out that:
1) What is legal is not always ethical.
2) Less commonly, what is ethical is not always legal.

Since this was a business class, we were reminded that companies are obligated to follow the law. There are personal and corporate consequences for not doing so.

I've added "moral" to this discussion, in part because I was raised in Catholic schools where we regularly discussed the moral issues of the day.

In reviewing my memory, it seems as though many of the ethical "grey areas", the things that might be ethical in one circumstance and unethical in another, were often given a solid moral line by the Catholic church. For example, the hot topic of abortion. (Be forewarned, more on that subject will likely be coming this year.)

The thing to know about moral issues, is that where ethics are rooted in proper relationships between humans, morals are based in particular theological or religious perspectives.

Remember that there are approximately 5 major world religions, another 7+ "minor" (my term) world religions, and perhaps hundreds of other native, aboriginal, traditional, or non-traditional modern practices.

Also, I've been given to understand that not every religion provides a clear-cut authority on moral questions. A Jewish friend once explained that when they have a question, the Rabbi will gather the relevant passages of the Tanakh and writings about the question, and give at least two or three positions supported by the scholarship to date. The decision, then, is not the Rabbi's to dictate, but rather the individuals to study, weigh, and then make.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Inclusion, Diversity

Hat tip to Geek Feminism for the links:

  1. Ellen Pao Speaks: ‘I Am Now Moving On’ Ellen Pao writes about the bad in Diversity & Inclusion today, including:
    1. issues with legal assumptions about discrimination, that do not reflect today's implicit biases
    2. the financial costs of being a plaintiff, and the severe inequality of resources for a case like hers
    3. Quote: "I have a request for all companies: Please don’t try to silence employees who raise discrimination and harassment concerns. Instead allow balanced and complete perspectives to come out publicly so we can all learn and improve."
  2. Insurance and Feelings a Slack employee writes about a company that is successfully including everybody.
    1. "even in the rough bits, I still feel like I’m ok to be myself. I still feel like I’m part of the team. I still don’t feel like I’m different. I still feel like I belong."
    2. "One [catchphrase]though, is pretty demonstrative of what I think makes Slack feel good to me: “We’re all in this together.”"

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

About Gulf Coast Living and storms

As I mentioned, I'm going to write a bit, here, about the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I'm not promoting these posts, because what needs to be front and center are the direct victims.

So I will start off with links to some of those posts:

I moved to Houston perhaps a few months before Tropical Storm Allison hit. Actually, it hit twice: once on Tuesday, and then it came back on Saturday.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Music Monday: Drag Me Down, Charon-A

A couple more music videos came out recently.

This is the more recent video, One Direction's "Drag Me Down," a professional video which uses footage shot at NASA:

The other is about 6 weeks old, a response to the #PlutoFlyBy, that I saw come through Twitter. The Science x Rhymes vlog produced "My Charon-a," and teaches a little more about Pluto and its moons:


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cautions for religious exploration

Twenty years ago, when I was first researching Wicca and the neo-pagan movement, it seemed as though every site had articles about how to find a teacher, and cautions about what to avoid in a group.

Somewhere between then and now, the conversations suggested that all the warnings were doing more harm than good. Most neo-pagan groups are doing well to "herd cats," they aren't attempting to forge a group-thinking cult.

However, I've read some articles recently regarding ISIS recruiting, that suggest a few cautions are in fact in order.

One of the classic neo-pagan resources was developed by Isaac Bonewits. He calls it the "Advanced Bonewits' Cult Danger Evaluation Form," or ABCDEF. Here's one link to the form, many copies exist on the interwebz.

Also on the more new-agey side of the house, there is a very old book, Chop Wood, Carry Water: A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life. In particular, they quote Ram Dass' "How to Keep Perspective Along the Path," and Daniel Goleman's "Things to be Wary of when Shopping the Spiritual Supermarket."

Cult tactics often take a page from the same #AbuserDynamics, isolating people from their friends, discouraging them from talking with other people, asking you to keep secrets. Know the red flags of people who do not have your best interests at heart.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ten Years Ago...

I plan to continue the series on Biblical Patriarchy, as my time and the topic allow.

Meanwhile, I'm beginning another series, about events ten years ago. In the macro picture, I'll discuss hurricanes: Katrina, Rita, evacuation, rebuilding. On my social media (Twitter, Facebook), I will try to center articles by & about those directly affected. Accounts of people from New Orleans, the Bridge incident, that sort of thing. I won't self-promote my posts.

Here, on my own blog, I have processing of my own to do, as the macro level affected the micro.

Ten years ago, about this month, my grandfather's health was failing. Some aspect of his medical situation put him in a nursing home, and the extended family was encouraged to come in small groups to spend time with him.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Exceptionalism or Behind the Curve?

I remember growing up thinking that the United States was the best.

And then I remember reading, in history class, how the United States was one of the last Western countries to abolish slavery. I further learned, on reading Anna Karenina in Russian Literature, that at about the same time as the U.S. Civil War, the Russians also were discussing "the matter of the serfs." Emancipation and the ending of slavery was (and remains) a global movement, not isolated to any one country.

As I'm reading the books I bought while on retreat, I find myself thinking about the United States, Catholicism, and Protestant denominations. Specifically, about how Catholicism is a global religion, while both Unitarian Universalism and the United Church of Christ seem to be United Statesian denominations (both include global outreach, groups like the UU Service Committee and a similar UCC organization).

I begin to wonder if this Americentric religious thought leads to the Americentric perspectives on social issues. Which makes me wonder if it was my Catholic education that taught me to look at abolition as a more global phenomenon, not limited to the Civil War era.

There are several other issues that I've considered over the years, that also show European leadership while the U.S. drags its feet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Taking Time

Two weekends ago, we kicked off the 23rd Season of the Huntsville Feminist Chorus with our annual retreat at Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullman, AL.

The mission of the Chorus is to open hearts and minds through song.

This begins my sixth season with these wonderful women. The songs we sing bring me strength, not only to get through my own day / week / phase, but also fuels my activism, reviewing the literature and promoting women in STEM, women in leadership, GLBT rights, intersectional representation in general.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Music Monday: Gender & Song

On the drive back from GenCon, my iPod randomizer played two songs back-to-back

The first was The Doubleclicks, "Nothing to Prove."

Friday, August 7, 2015

GenCon 2015

The drawback to changing companies, is that I had to start over with Paid Time Off. So while my husband and son headed up to Indianapolis on Saturday for a full week with Grandma, I put in three days at the office before following their tracks.

I got to Indianapolis about 1 pm on Thursday, had lunch with my husband, son, and mother-in-law, and then hubby and I checked in to our hotel. He and our son had gone over to GenCon in the morning, so they had his badge and sons wristband. They also had an update on the time and cost of finding parking.

City Bus

We elected to get an IndyGo day pass for the busline from our hotel to downtown.  The route ran every 30 minutes. One ticket cost $1.75, but an all-day pass for that route was only $4. Parking downtown started at $6, if you could find that, and quickly went up from there.

The major drawback to the bus, was that the last bus on our route left downtown about 8:30 pm. GenCon has events that go until 3 am. I'm not as young as I used to be, but I could still game to about midnight or 1 am, if I had the chance. Maybe next year we'll look for a hotel in walking distance of the Convention Center.

With the Kid

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Reminiscing about Family, Gaming, and Indiana

This post is not my GenCon 2015 trip report. With luck, I'll get that written to post on Friday.

Instead, this is background. History, reminiscing.

On gaming...

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Space Camp Hall of Fame

It has been a very busy couple of weeks, that have included two exciting geeky weekends.

I don't often Blog about my involvement with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). As my disclaimer says, this blog is my personal opinion, that does not necessarily represent that of any organization in which I am a member, nor that of my employer.

One of the benefits of being involved in a porfessional society like SWE or AIAA, is that these societies bring up opportunities. I failed to mention that a few years ago, AIAA brought in Roger Launius as our special guest speaker for the end-of-year awards banquet. I don't always blog about these events, although I usually journal about them. Professional society events are generally public and open knowledge... yet they also blur the boundaries between work and personal life.

So, I'm involved with the North Alabama section of SWE.

Our most recent past President of SWE (at the Society level) was Elizabeth Bierman. On July 25th, she was inducted in to the Space Camp Hall of Fame. As an active participant in the local section, I was given the opportunity to represent the Section at the SWE table, an opportunity that I gratefully accepted.

As my husband and son headed to Indiana for a week of "Camp Grandma," I was re-inspired by the speakers and the Space Camp Youth attending this banquet.

Before the dinner, astronaut Rhea Seddon was autographing copies of her book, "Go for Orbit."

Then there were a few minutes to socialize before we ate, and then the program began.

The Keynote Address was given by the Space Launch System Program Manager at Marshall Space Flight Center, Todd May. He spoke about the Pluto FlyBy, and where SLS is going to take us.

The four Inductees were recognized, although only two were present this evening.

And when the program ended, we took more pictures. The Inductees were not the only special guests that evening. My last summer in Houston, while I was third trimester with my son, I coordinated a conversation that included Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger. She was at the ceremony, so we had a couple of minutes to catch up:

The other Inductee who was present that evening, was Bobak Ferdowski, the "Mohawk Guy" flight director for Mars Curiosity's landing.

And that was a wrap for the evening. My ticket didn't cover the concert in the Rocket Park, and besides I needed to get home to walk the dog & feed both pets.

It was... an emotional evening. The overall message was that Space Camp teaches teamwork. It takes all kinds of people, working together, to make a mission successful. I saw that up front when I worked in Houston.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Music Monday: Watching the World Wake up from History

This is an old 1990's hit, that stayed in my mind.

For any young'uns reading my blog that DON'T remember, to me this represented everything possible, all the changes happening in that era. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of Apartheid in South Africa, the fall of the U.S.S.R.
"When it seemed the world can change in the blink of an eye."
My encounters with global and transnational feminisms in the mid-2000s introduced me to the concept that we in the United States need to clean up our own house before we worry about others'. Remove the plank from our own eye, before attempting to clear the mote from another country's. My own observations in the decade since that graduation show that there is some truth to that thought.

(If your mind automatically rejects the concept, I suggest you go back to read Awareness, because Anthony de Mello can help you with that.)

And so, this song came to mind for me again on Friday, when I heard that South Carolina lowered the battle flag.

It is a symbolic gesture, in many ways. There is much work still to be done, for this to be a land of equal opportunity under law. But it is an important step in the right direction.

"Right here, right now, there is no other place I want to be.
 Right here, right now, watching the world wake up from history." 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Gender roles (for Grown-Ups)

This is the third post in my series on Biblical Patriarchy. For previous posts on this topic, I'll refer you to the Introduction and Gender roles (for children), both of which define terms and clarify the particular splinter of Biblical patriarchy that I grew up under.

I want a number of links on this subject, which may take longer to locate. Therefore, I will probably intersperse this series with posts on other topics. I still plan to continue with the posts outlined in the Introduction.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Gender roles (for children)

This is the second post on my experience related to the Biblical Patriarchy movement. As stated in the introduction, my own experience is different from the "typical" Fundamental or Evangelical homeschooling crowd that may also be Quiverfull. My family of origin was devoutly Catholic, with Charismatic influences.

Since I was not raised within that "more common" set of groups, I'll start with a link to Love, Joy, Feminism's definitions and breakdown of the definitions: "Evangelicalism, Fundamentalism, Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull, and the Homeschool Movement". With one caveat. In this link, Libby Anne links Christian Patriarchy/Quiverfull as synonymous. I distinguish Quiverfull as a subset of Biblical Patriarchy.

Also, I say "Biblical Patriarchy" rather than "Christian Patriarchy," because I am peripherally aware of Jewish Patriarchal groups as well. However, I'm currently writing about what I know, at the intersection between Catholicism and the above movements (within Christianity). I may choose, in future posts, to do the research that would link in Jewish Patriarchal blogs or articles, if my time permits.

Gender roles for children within Biblical Patriarchy

Friday, June 26, 2015

Biblical Patriarchy Intro

I'd like to go back, first, to my experience with the UU church. UUs believe in the Beloved Community, and that by following the 7 Principles, by working to build a community that loves and respects each other, and treats people with dignity, we can create a bit of heaven here on Earth.

The family religion I grew up with had similar but different beliefs. As I understand my parents' teachings, they believed that "heaven on Earth" would come when everybody on this planet chose to live Biblically. (Exactly which Biblical lifestyle, was not necessarily as clear.)

My parents tried to teach us to live in the world, but not of the world.

With this series, I hope to raise awareness that Biblical Patriarchy includes a wide range of beliefs AND faith traditions

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inclusive STEM Linkspam

Many of the posts I've seen on GeekFeminism lately have been what they call "Linkspam," a collection of links to articles and blogposts relevant to the Geek Feminism community. Since this is a late and quick post, and many things have happened since I last wrote, there will be many hashtags and links to longer discussions.

Last week in Nashville, Tennessee, there was an Inclusive Astronomy conference. I wasn't there, I followed it through the Twitter hashtag, #IA2015 . Here are some good blogposts about the topic:

In future posts, I want to revisit the concept of patriarchy, and particularly the Biblical Patriarchy movement. Because I was raised in one thread of the movement, it gives me a few insights into both the Duggar situation and possibly Rachel Dolezal (Kristin Rawls, @kristinrawls on Twitter, pointed out some similarities). I link to Love, Joy, Feminism on my sidebar, and would connect to specific posts in the series.

I've lived in the South for 15 years now. I ended up making a series of tweets about this earlier in the week, which I will probably turn into a blogpost at some point.

Key point? Check out #NotInOurNames and #NotInMyName. The South Carolina shooter made statements claiming that he was protecting white women. I repudiate that reasoning. The people in Bible Study were not harming me and did not deserve to die.

For the technical community, you should also read #NSBESpeaks to hear their stories.

I want to share some of the articles from Facebook about the Battle Flag:
Also, a meme that was created to address the sexism in Science hashtags. Dawn Bazely had a Storify to keep up with the hashtags, I'll try to link it later.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Parenting, Property, and Healthy Relationships

The article that inspired the previous two posts, had to do with a YouTube video, Dad forces son to destroy Xbox.

I've posted previously about power dynamics, and included links to resources about abusive vs. healthy relationships.

In the online discussion, some of the women argued that the Xbox was the father's personal property, and he could do whatever he wanted with it. To which my (and other women's) response was that the *father* could sell it, trade it, give it away - but smashing a working device is violence. And forcing his child to smash a beloved toy, is emotional abuse.

The women promoting doing anything they wanted with private property then suggested that if violence to objects was off-limits, then that could extend to policing what other people ate. That would be why I started this series with the concept of body autonomy, and some of the rights / limitations involved there.

When I first conceived of this post, I thought I'd then get into the concept of the patriarchy. My own father argued for the applicability of the ancient Roman pater familias.

But in the meantime, Dr. John Johnson (@astrojohnjohn on Twitter, I've also previously linked to his blog) made a comment that reminded me, intersectionality addresses not simply "the patriarchy," but the kyriarchy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Personal Property

I mentioned that the last post came out of a Facebook discussion. One of the ways that conversation got derailed, was that people converted concern for personal property into intrusive comments about people's bodies, including what they eat.

I hope that my previous post could address some of those fears head-on, that body autonomy means your body is your own, my body is my own, etc. We can talk about issues of body-shaming, Healthism as the New Puritanism, Ableism and fatphobia later. One step at a time.

Part of the discussion involved questions of private property, namely the idea that one can do whatever they want with the things that they own.

Much like body autonomy, I think there's a "Yes, but..." to that discussion. If one began to smash every object in one's apartment or house, I think it's likely that neighbors would call police to report a domestic disturbance.

Wantonly destroying property - even one's own property - is violence. It can be disturbing to perform, disturbing to watch, disturbing to read about.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Body Autonomy

Parts of this blog have become a "Feminism 101" for STEM professionals, who most likely have not taken Women's Studies courses or significant Humanities classes. Today is one of those topics, inspired by an old, private Facebook discussion that has been deleted.  I'm starting off with body autonomy.

Friday, May 29, 2015

About Mental Health

Yesterday, I discussed triggering, and a bit about what it is.

Let me clarify. I am not a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or any kind of therapist. I have several friends both here and in Houston who are active with NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I have not been involved, what I know is more from the "osmosis" of being around people who discuss these matters, and talking with friends who are familiar with various conditions.

I come from a military family. I know the stigma that mental health care can have, the resistance to admitting one is seeing a "shrink." As the daughter of an Air Force veteran, the sister of an Army war veteran, I follow the news articles about veterans, brain injuries, and mental health.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

About triggers, content, and warnings

This is the third of my posts prompted by a mix of the Agents of SHIELD finale and my social media reading. Last Friday, I wrote about Death and Grief, and on Tuesday I wrote about Science Fiction / Fantasy and Parenting.

This is, in part, an Agents of Shield reaction post to the Season 2 finale, "S.O.S. part 2." If you desire to be completely spoiler-free, you might wish to watch that first. That said, I don't intend to discuss Agents of SHIELD itself, it's more my own thoughts, influenced by the show, that build on my recent blogposts and other articles I've read and topics I want to write about.

In Friday's post on Grief, I mentioned how a renewed grief can be triggered years after the fact. I used the term "triggered" deliberately. By triggering, I mean a rush of vivid emotional memories that can overwhelm a person, or affect their mental equilibrium.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

SFF and Parenting

This is, in part, an Agents of Shield reaction post to the Season 2 finale, "S.O.S. part 2." If you desire to be completely spoiler-free, you might wish to watch that first. That said, I don't intend to discuss Agents of SHIELD itself, it's more my own thoughts, influenced by the show, that build on my recent blogposts and other articles I've read and topics I want to write about.

Anne McCaffrey has a series of books about Talented people, telepaths, telekinetics, empaths, healers, etc. There's two major eras in the series. The first era is early in Talent history, with Get Off the UnicornTo Ride PegasusPegasus in Flight, and Pegasus in Space, as Talents are discovered, organized, and trained.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day - Music Monday

This Memorial Day we remember our dead, and particularly our military personnel who fell in battle. That is important, particularly for the family and friends who knew them, so I want to take a moment to recognize the solemnity of the occasion.

The rest of this post may seem irreverent in the context of Memorial Day. I wanted to post this series of videos on a Monday, for Music Monday. A holiday seemed like a good day a short, easy, queued post, so this is in the spirit of barbecue, fireworks, and Formula 1 racecars.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Death and Grief

This is, in part, an Agents of Shield reaction post to the Season 2 finale, "S.O.S. part 2." If you desire to be completely spoiler-free, you might wish to watch that first. That said, I don't intend to discuss Agents of Shield itself, it's more my own thoughts, influenced by the show, that build on my recent blogposts and other articles I've read and topics I want to write about.

It starts with a story that I read from Anthony de Mello, that comes from the Rabbinical tradition. There once was a woman who lost a family member. Perhaps her husband, perhaps her child, she lost someone she loved, and she wanted them back. She went to the Rabbi and asked him how she could bring her loved one back. The Rabbi told her she could weave a shroud for them, but she must obtain the thread from houses that had not known death. And so she knocked on every door in the village, but every house had known death.

"Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. But involve me, and I’ll understand." - Dr. Herb True, paraphrasing Xunzi

I've written a lot about grief in the past two years, particularly on Glee forums since the untimely passing of Cory Monteith. The popular 7 phases of grief (shock, anger, denial, bargaining, acceptance) do happen, but not in any particular order nor on a given timeframe. Every person grieves in their own way, and grief has it's own time.

One can reach acceptance of the death of a lost loved one, then later find that wound re-opened, a fresh wave or new layer of grief, years after the fact. Sometimes the renewed grief may be triggered by a date: their birthday, their death day, an important anniversary. Sometimes renewed grief is triggered by a scent, a sound, an experience. And sometimes renewed grief may be triggered by words on a page.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The future is here, it is global, it is multiple.

Yesterday's post on women and poverty comes with many caveats, nuances. I try to touch on a couple of those caveats today.

Ten years ago, when I took Cultures of Asia, Dr. Reddy emphasized that we needed to re-think our image of "Asia." She discussed how there are MANY different cultures of Asia, and we couldn't hope to cover them all in a single semester, even in graduate-level coursework.

One of the first days, we saw a slideshow or video of parts of Asia, the cities as well as the countryside. The images emphasized modernity, the ways that Asian cities are similar to places like New York or San Francisco.

Here's a photo from our trip to South Korea, with Starbucks in the background.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Additional background: Women, Poverty, and Microlending.

In 2000, I moved to Houston, TX. I've written occasionally about my encounters with Studies of the Future. Over the next few years, I had many conversations with futurists, discussing how we could improve the world.

We discussed the research on education, poverty, and gender, and the ways that gender equality plays a key role in building a better world.

We discussed the role that poverty plays in fostering terrorism, and the potential microlending has as a tool to end extreme poverty and thereby end terrorism:

All of this knowledge feeds into what I believe now, and into my own attempts at praxis.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Life, the universe, and everything

Last week was a little bitty whirlwind slice of life, death, and nearly everything in between.

I don't like writing too much about the future on my blog, protective of my family's security, but the past is over and done, and often fair game.

Sunday was Mother's Day, and a decent day for all of us.

On Monday, one of our friends from church passed away suddenly. We knew he had been in the hospital, but on Sunday he had seemed to be recovering. And then he was gone.

I knew in January that I would be job-searching, and was open to moving. I would very much like to get back to Houston--some day. I feel like that's where I was able to really be my best self, and to be respected for who I am. But I'm starting to wonder how much of it is just wishing to go back. I don't think I would stay settled in Houston now. Maybe another few years, and then move on again.

Here, there has been too much... some of it is just pressure to be quiet, conform, be smaller... I'm not sure whether it's the whole town, or just that I hadn't quite found the right fit yet. But there are things I would miss if we left, and this dance studio is one of them.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Cognition & Ally Homework

This week has been an exciting one for my family. Some bad, some good, but stressful all the same.

One of the concerns I had with The 4-Hour Workweek, is the recommendation for a low-information diet. I've certainly seen, in the past four months, how internet and social media, while they have their place, can become a time-suck.

My concern, though, is that ignorance often enables the -isms. It is a privilege to not know about what life can be like on the other side of the tracks.

Anthony de Mello tells a story about two young fish, swimming in the ocean. An old fish swims past them, and asks them "How's the water?" The young fish look at each other, and ask "What's water?"

Without awareness, without education, without understanding, we behave in passively racist ways. It takes education, awareness, practice to change from passive racism to active anti-racism. Yesterday, there was an excellent guest-post published: Homework for Those Seeking to be Allies.

I've also seen discussion of a Young Mormon Feminists group working to actively learn and deconstruct white supremacy. A similar group is being established for the Astronomy community. I would love to see similar groups for Engineering communities.

There are *elements* of a low-information diet that I agree with, that are connected to human decision-making. The science of cognition is sometimes discussed in terms of clothing:

And since I am stressing today, my own cognition for writing is reduced. I'm not sure how many blog posts I'll write next week.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


One of my favorite authors is Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit Priest who wrote books about mysticism and awareness.

When I first encountered his writings in books like One Minute Wisdom, he was synthesizing Christianity with the other mystic traditions, and it fascinated me. He adapts the stories about Buddha, Nasrullah, and Baal Shem Tov to fit his theology. In a world where we discuss culture appropriation, I'm beginning to question whether his syncretic approach is okay. Okay or not, it is part of my spiritual journey.

In Awareness, he writes about letting go of expectations of ourselves, expectations of others, and seeing reality. A month or more ago, I tweeted about a comment from this book. He writes about "I'm Okay, You're Okay," and says that if he were to write a book, he'd write "I'm an Ass, You're an Ass," because it disarms us. Chapters include (but are not limited to):

  • Listen and Unlearn
  • Good, Bad, or Lucky
  • Our Illusion About Others
  • Negative Feelings Toward Others
  • Fear--The Root of Violence
  • Change as Greed
  • Cultural Conditioning
  • Listening to Life.

Heart of the Enlightened has an entire chapter of story-meditations about Service. Here's one:
A commuter hopped on to a train at New York and told the conductor he was going to Fordham. "We don't stop at Fordham on Saturdays," said the conductor, "but I'll tell you what I'll do. As we slow down at Fordham station, I shall open the door and you jump off. Make sure you're running along with the train when you hit the ground or you'll fall flat on your face."
At Fordham the door opened and the commuter hit the ground running forward. Another conductor, seeing him, opened the door and pulled him in as the train resumed speed. "You're mighty lucky, buddy," said the conductor. "This train doesn't stop at Fordham on Saturdays!"
de Mello comments on this story:
In your own small way you can be of service to people--by getting out of their way. [p. 135]

Susan Silk and Barry Goldman have written an article, "How not to say the wrong thing," which discusses the Ring Theory of Kvetching: Comfort in, dump out.

I think this also can be applied to social justice efforts. Too often, our toxic culture teaches us to dump in, which is where bullying and harassment usually occur.

A related concept is applied to comedy, that jokes should "punch up" rather than "punch down". But instead of discussing punching, or dumping, I think we need to discuss support.

The idea of focusing ones support on the weakest and most vulnerable is not my own. It is stated by the Activist women of color who are working in that space. Similar thoughts can be traced back to Christian teachings, "Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me," and also to Jewish traditions that have often favored the underdog.

What I propose, just combines these two ideas, is the Ring Theory of Social Justice. Support goes in. Kvetching goes out.

Now, we sometimes need to be careful about where the center is, which direction is "in" for anti-oppression. It's very similar to Joseph Campbell's concept of a circle or sphere, whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.

We don't want to get into the Oppression Olympics. Different spaces may focus on different aspects of oppressions, like race, gender and gender identity, orientation, class, ability, and in that space it may be derailing to change the conversation to a different type of oppression.

Which circles back around to Anthony de Mello. His chapter on Service frequently reiterates the ways that when we try to help, we may inadvertently make things worse. Excuse me while I go re-read for a while.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Aftermath & Recovery

In case you missed it, I added a note to yesterday's post. If the relevance of my experience is not readily apparent to those who wish to promote gender diversity in STEM, AAUW has a report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, which discusses statistics and similar experiences for 21st-Century adolescents.

I've expressed some of my discomfort with conventional White Feminism in previous posts. Some of that discomfort had to do with my originally-conservative religious leanings. Some of it had more to do with the economic and authoritarian / partriarchal background that I come from.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ripples of Doubt

I have been writing about media, leadership, and culture, and the ways in which Gaslighting and similar   are used to maintain power and control. Much of the recent conversation about Abuser Dynamics and their connection to 'isms, is owed to the black women and women of color who began that hashtag.

Yesterday's conversation with Astro/Physicists and Science Communicators brought up 2013's  conversation (Storify by Karen James). Trigger warning for sexual harrassment in the post below.

While I read and re-Tweeted from the hashtag in 2013, I didn't share my own experiences. One of the reasons I didn't share my own experiences, is that my experiences in undergraduate and graduate education and my experiences with work have been TAMER than what I grew up with.

[2:36 pm Update] In case the relevance of my experience is not readily apparent to those who wish to promote gender diversity in STEM, AAUW has a report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, which discusses statistics and similar experiences for 21st-Century adolescents. [/Update]

I went into college knowing I wasn't physically attractive. Therein, lies the story.