Friday, June 17, 2016

Feminism Friday: Trauma and Content

A short mobile post today.

It turns out that I have connections to both of the sad stories out of Orlando this week. If you've heard of the concept "6 degrees of separation" (or it's semi-humorous twin, "6 degrees of Kevin Bacon")...

I saw research once, that said by analyzing Facebook networks, it turns out to be between 4 and 5.

For both big Orlando stories, The Pulse and the Disney gator, I find myself at only 2 or 3 degrees of separation.

I think it's important to remember, that all of the tragedies we hear on the news? Those are real people, going through real, often traumatic, experiences.

And that, is a big part of why I support content warnings, also called trigger warnings.

Not to censor the material (no one can read this), but to alert people dealing with current traumas in their lives, that they may need to skip this story for now.

That it might be something they want to learn about with people they trust, or in their soft pajamas with a comfy blanket & a cup of tea.

Or whatever is necessary to help maintain their own mental health.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thealogy Thursday: Big Tents and Concepts of God

As I mentioned last week, about a month ago Dr. Amy Jill Levine came to town for a series of lectures sponsored by an interfaith group of congregations.

On Friday evening, she spoke at Temple B'nai Sholom as part of their Shabbat services. One of the things she explained (for the Gentiles in the near-standing-room-only sanctuary), was that Judaism is a "big tent" religion. There are the different types of Jews (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, ethnic), with many different beliefs and many different interpretations of the texts & teachings - and they love to argue about their different perspectives and their different beliefs. But at the end of the day, they are all still Jews.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Thealogy Thursday:Intro

For months now, I've been thinking about doing an occasional spotlight on theology and/or thealogy. Since this isn't a daily or even weekly blog, I'm not going to promise to use this topic every week. But occasionally I'll come back to these ideas.

Important disclaimer: My background is as a casual layperson. Academically, I have a Minor in Religious Studies, and spent 12 years in primary and secondary Catholic Schools. My M.A. in Humanities included some more philosophy, but I did not fit the Sociology course on Religion into my program.

I do a lot of independent reading, and have long been involved in Adult Religious Education discussion groups, but my opinions should be considered just that: opinion. I do not speak Greek, Aramaic, Coptic, Syriac, etc. I've recited or sung Church Latin quite a bit, and my minor in Spanish helps me with understanding it, but it wouldn't be enough to complete Seminary.

As I have discussed in various places on this blog, my faith background has five major roots:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Music Monday: Confident

Over the weekend I got to see some excellent choreography to this song, performed as a senior solo, and really listened to the lyrics. The music video isn't the story that the student brought to mind, but it's also a decent one.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Realities of Pregnancy: After Loss

I said I would come back to the NPR article about Pregnancy Loss. One of the reasons that people often don't reveal pregnancies until about the end of the first trimester, is because they don't want to have to "untell" people if things go badly.

Natural miscarriages are *extremely* common. My mother lost two pregnancies, and my grandmother lost several. Common enough that my high school science teacher expressed the opinion that human bodies prefer to have a "trial pregnancy" before completing the real deal.

When my mother suffered her first miscarriage, she was further traumatized to learn that the medical term for a natural miscarriage was "spontaneous abortion." She was morally opposed to abortion, and there it was in her medical records.

In the aftermath of my salpingectomy, and the removal of my ectopic pregnancy, I had a follow-up visit with the OB/GYN surgeon. I had to have additional blood tests, to ensure that the pregnancy hormone returned to normal levels, indicating that any remaining tissue was absorbed into my body or expelled from it.

It turns out that, if that did not happen properly, a Molar Pregancy could result - which could further progress into cancer.

So I had follow-up visits until my hormones returned to not-pregnant levels.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Music Monday: Wake Me Up when it's over

As often happens, this video takes a bit of discussion.

I ended on more of a dark note last week, but it's important to keep in mind that that story, that happened a decade ago. Much of the drama of it has faded, has passed... although there is still more to unpack.

That was the opening salvo of what I call "Hell, part 2," but my Global Leadership instructor would call another "Crucible." And so, to be leaders, we are called to identify the lessons we learned in those crucibles, and begin the process of articulating them, telling those stories, in ways that can help to teach others going through the process.

I don't know that I'm to that point yet, on this story. I don't know that I have it in a coherent, lessons-learned format.

 I do want to add a caution, from a post a year ago, about Inspiration Porn, because those "inspiring stories of coming through the crucible" can readily be just that.

So, building on that event ten years ago, my theme song for that November was "Wake me up when November ends." Wake me up when 2005 ends.

Because what do you do, after a grief like that?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Realities of Pregnancy: My abortion story

I started to talk about my journey to parenthood a few weeks ago, with Realities of Pregnancy: Infertility.

As I mentioned towards the end of that post, my OB/GYN quit practicing. I was really busy with work, so I didn't find a new one. When my birth control prescription expired, I went off of it, but continued my Fertility Awareness tracking. (FA is basically like Natural Family Planning, except that where NFP practitioners are abstinent during the fertile phase, FA accepts barrier contraception).

I keep pointing back to Libby's Love, Joy, Feminism, to compare and contrast her Evangelical homeschooling Biblical Patriarchy with my Catholic, parochial-school Biblical Patriarchy. And, like Libby, when I was a child and was asked how many children I wanted, I thought I wanted a large family. Looking back at my own life, I'm not even sure why. I think I thought that I liked being part of a large family.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Quick Post

I wanted to start the week with something positive... I think I'm going to do some editing and post the next phase of my infertility story later in the week. Since that's pretty heavy, here's something very different.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Books I am Reading, or Finished Reading Recently

I've been doing a lot of reading lately. It feels like more than I had been doing in recent years... although that's not necessarily true.

One of the things I have read, is that leaders should be readers, and should read everything. Fiction, non-fiction, literature. That fiction helps people to understand other perspectives, it helps one person understand another. Meanwhile, nonfiction teaches about the world - past, present, the potentials for the future.


  • Rhea Seddon's, "Go For Orbit" An excellent book, and highly recommended particularly for women interested in the space industry. It's made me even more interested in Marianne Dyson's biography.
  • We Could Not Fail . Again, highly recommend, particularly for those in Alabama. While it touches on KSC and JSC, there seem to be more Huntsville / MSFC stories. The historians also tie in the actions of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and some further insight into Wernher Von Braun. 
  • Digital Apollo. This was loaned to me, and is now on my list of books to buy.
  • Lies My Teacher Told Me. I have an older edition. This is one book that I've been slowly working on for about a year, part of my #WhiteFolkWork.
  • The Challenger Launch Decision, Diane Vaughan's classic work, I think I've finished chapter 3. This had been recommended to me more than a decade ago, but I'm just getting to it. It goes along well with a Great Course I listened to in the car, "Peoples and Culture."
  • Pushback, which discusses integrative negotiation, particularly for women. This is an excellent companion for "Getting to Yes" and "Getting Past No". Everybody at the SWE conference seemed to be talking about this book a few years ago. I'm pretty far in, but not quite done with it, and I am learning from it.
  • Headstrong, by Rachel Swaby. Some of the accounts of the 52 women who changed science and the world are so short that I might read 2 stories in a week, but for the most part I am trying to keep this to my once-a-week inspiration. That means I'm just getting out of the Medicine group and into Biology and Ecology. There are several accounts further into the book that I am eager to read, but trying to pace myself.
  • Welcome To Mars, by Buzz Aldrin and Marianne Dyson. This is more of a science book for kids. I hope I can plan to do some of these activities with him while I'm home.


  • A.C. Crispin, Starbridge volumes 6 and 7. I didn't even know these existed until we went to Con*Stellation one of our first years in Alabama. I saw them at a vendor, but wasn't in a position to buy them yet. Now I have, and for the most part I enjoyed them.
  • S.M. Stirling, "The Desert and the Blade", from the library. I've been reading the Change series for several years now, and still enjoy every novel.
  • Mercedes Lackey, "Blood Red," another library book from her Elemental Masters series.
  • Mercedes Lackey, "From A High Tower," another library book in her Elemental Masters series. I really enjoyed this novel. The first phase of this series was largely set in England, but with these books she changes location to Germany and Eastern Europe, and I'm fascinated by the new settings.
  • Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman." Another library book, I read it the Saturday after she passed away. It's... a complicated novel, about the complicated South. There are aspects of Scout's struggles, coming home, that I can identify with from my own move to Alabama. And there are aspects that I don't know if I could ever understand.
  • Octavia Butler, "Blood Child."  I saw her work featured at the library during Black History Month a few weeks ago, and I had been hearing a lot about her on Tumblr and sometimes Twitter. So this past weekend I checked out some of her books, and just finished this collection of short stories and essays this evening. It has been a long time since I've specifically read books about the art of writing, but I think I want to take notes from this.
  • Marianne Dyson, "Fly Me to the Moon," another collection of short stories that I thoroughly enjoyed.
  • "Eat My Martian Dust," a collection of short stories about God and science from a Christian (primarily Protestant) perspective. I enjoyed Marianne Dyson's two or three stories in the collection (especially her "Kuk Sool on the moon" one). There were two stories I did not like (neither one by Dyson): one argued for young-Earth Creationism, and the other attempts to justify Colonialist evangelism. Most of the other stories are well-written and thought-provoking, and yet I also found the collection leaned more preachy. For examining religious themes within a science fiction context, I like Sacred Visions better.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Music Monday: We Can't Stop parody

Following some of my posts last week, the video below came across my Facebook feed some time ago. Note that it is NOT about me, and should not imply anything about my condition. As I disclosed last week, that would be difficult.

No, I wanted to share this as a combination of the #RealitiesOfPregnancy, the thread on #BiblicalPatriarchy, body autonomy, and also reproductive justice.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Feminism Friday: Purity Culture

One phenomenon that has swept the U.S., particularly conservative Protestants, is Purity Culture.

Love, Joy, Feminism has a great collection of articles on the subject, the practices, and the problems with it.

I think one of the most damning commentaries on Purity Culture comes from Elizabeth Smart. The counter-example, then, is the story of the $20 bill. Crinkling it up in a ball, dropping it in the dirt, stepping on it - whatever you do to the $20 bill, it is still worth $20. It doesn't lose its value.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Realities of Pregnancy: Infertility

One of the subjects I thought I might get to on this blog last fall, had to do with my own journey to parenthood.

Some of my experiences have been shared on Twitter, under several different hashtags: #RealitiesOfPregnancy, #ShoutYourAbortion, #7MonthsAwesome, to name a few.  I've been slower to write about them here, for several reasons: 1) they're politically charged, 2) they're very personal. But I think it IS important to share, because they are relevant to laws both on the books and under consideration today.

My journey to parenthood was not straightforward. So today, I'm going to begin writing about my Infertility.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Looking forward: Professional Development reprise

One of the first things that I did when I got my layoff notification in 2014, was I took the GRE again.

The Graduate Record Examination is one of the tests that may be required for admission to graduate school. It's not the only admissions test, there are others like the LSAT for law school, but it's the one most commonly used for science, engineering, and humanities degrees.

In fact, I had taken the GRE once before, in 2003, as part of admission to my M.A. program. In that case, I was allowed to take classes on a provisional admission, while I completed the requirements.  When I returned to Purdue for distance learning, I successfully argued that I already had one graduate degree, so the GRE could be waived... but I had seen indications that for doctoral programs, I would need to take it again.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Music Monday: Dr. Horrible "My Eyes"

Ordinarily, sometime in the previous week I would have mentioned the Day of Remembrance. While the Apollo 1 fire was before my time, Challenger affected me profoundly. And Columbia brought back echoes of Challenger.

So it's unfortunate that the first Music Monday I've gotten around to posting is on February 1. But it is what it is.

Rewatching this before posting, and thinking of Flint, MI, it might be more timely than I thought

But really, the reason I'd been wanting to post this for the past several weeks, is because of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Spoilers below the cut. You have been warned.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Feminism Friday: Spectra and State Space

In "The Great Human Diasporas," the Cavalli-Sforza's point out that human biometrics cover a wide range of types, without clear divisions. They did so in order to point out that race has no basis in biological science-- it is a social construct.

In the UUA's Welcoming Congregation refresher, a similar range of types was described for human gender and sexuality.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Not forgotten - Professional Development


So after a month of not posting, and probably losing most of my regular readers, I finally have a few moments, again. My family was super-busy with theater in December, and then the holidays.

As I said when I got this job, I'm not able to keep up a post-per-weekday rate. I've had a lot of thoughts that I'd like to write about: about: Professional Development, A Christmas Carol, Star Wars, family, decolonization, and so on.

Speaking of professional development.

Let me start with an anecdote about martial arts. When I trained with the Masters Harmon in Houston, we had several students who were taking both dance and martial arts.  What I recall, is that Master B. Harmon didn't exactly try to change their ballet kicks. Rather, it seems to me like he and his instructors helped build on that kinesthetic dance knowledge to make their martial arts kicks.

One year we traveled to St. Louis for tournament, and somehow I ended up judging a ring. (As far away from my home dojang as I am, I certainly prefer keeping scores and/or time. But it was a good experience.) For hyung, forms, we gave one young woman a silver medal, and her teacher approached to ask about it. He made a comment that she is also a dancer, and they were struggling with the differences in the movement. That was, in fact, the factor that lowered my score. In my home dojang, the dancers often seemed to me to have some of the best forms, because of that integration.

Engineering skills have similarities, in that eventually engineers need to integrate the knowledge into our being.

At the SWE conference, I participated in an Indiana University research study. In my own engineering experience, I've often worked from experience-based principles, rather than mathematical calculations.

Over the holidays, Dr. Chanda's tweeted about teaching Under-Represented Minorities. Some of that applies to my own white woman experiences with engineering education... with how my male professor's explanations often didn't quite connect to my own experiences, and I often had neither the time nor the money to purchase additional, supplemental books and explanations that might suit me better.

So one of the things I've been doing in my "spare time," is reviewing textbooks (old & new) and working practice problems, to better integrate the applicable mathematics into my knowledge base.  Especially now that I have a Master's Degree, it's this sort of review, refresh, and extra practice that will move me from "experience" to "mastery."