Crazy times around here!
I started a new job a few months ago. It’s going great, I love it, I’m super happy, but… I’ve been insanely busy. A lot of time spent in front of a screen during the day. Or setting up other, bigger screens. When I get home at night, I just want to play with LJ and do craft projects and read and not look at any more screens . I would ask if there’s a way to write blog posts without using a screen, but I’m pretty sure that’s just an old-fashioned journal.
For the most part, things have been good and I’ve been feeling relaxed and happy. There have been a few little hiccups, though.
- Cat pee. All over the house. (Ugh.) It took us some time to figure out which cat was responsible. Kristian ended up setting up a camera and we caught Tabitha in the act. It turns out, she has hyperthyroidism. Which means giving her a pill twice a day. Which is quite an improvement over a pee-stained house. But is still kindof a bummer.
- Our dryer died. So… we decided to get an all new set. So… we really needed to redo that bathroom (it was pretty horrible in there). So… things went wrong. So… it stretched on and on and on and on. So… we didn’t have a washer or dryer for months . We never packed for vacations this summer. We just hauled all our dirty laundry to wherever it was that we were staying. By the end of the summer, I was hand washing my work shirts and then hoping that they’d air dry enough to wear the next day. We finally got the bathroom (mostly) up and running again and…
- Our oven died. The range works, but the oven itself is dead. We still haven’t replaced it. Because: argh.
- Our upstairs bathroom. The tub is still leaking. This is going to end up being a complete gut renovation. Get in line, crappy bathroom, get in line.
- My car. It’s a TDI .
I was kinda sorta maybe ok with dead appliances and pilling the cat and owning a car that screws over the polar bears, but this last one is the final straw…
Kristian found a sore on our dog Gracie’s stomach. He mentioned it to the vet when he brought her in for her annual exam a few days later. They were concerned enough to take a biopsy, and it turns out it’s cancer. She’s scheduled for surgery next week (move farther back in line, crappy bathroom), and that’s when we’ll find out what the extent of it is. Hopefully, it’s just the one tumor, and they can get it all out. If not? Well, I don’t want to talk about it.
It’s funny… people have asked me over the past few days how things are going, and without hesitation I say “oh, they’re pretty good.” And I’m not just doing that small-talk thing where you say that things are good without thinking too much about it. I actually feel pretty good these days. Partially, I’m in deep denial about our dog’s prognosis, but a big part of it is that life is actually pretty good these days .
Obviously, I wish we had fully operational appliances at our house. And the cat is probably going to make me bleed a lot one of these times that I give her the thyroid medication. And I have no idea what we’re going to do about that leaky bathtub. But our family still manages to have a lot of fun. We can afford medical treatment for our pets (something that I am very, very grateful for). My new job keeps me busy, but I actually have a great work/life balance, and I love the work that I’m doing. All-in-all, life is not too bad. Life is expensive as shit these days, but it’s not too bad.
At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
My step-dad’s sister’s husband (we just call him Uncleish) is super into biking. He’s also super into supporting his niecishes on social media when they post about biking (or running, or boating, etc.). You could write that you ran 50 feet, got tired, and then sat down and ate a cheeseburger… and he’d tell you that it’s good that you knew your limits and got some protein in. He’s supremely positive, in a way that makes you want to run just a little bit farther and faster next time. I don’t know how he does it. It’s a pretty impressive super power.
Uncleish goes on some pretty long bike rides. I mean, his short rides would be long rides for me. And, every year, he makes sure to do a ride that’s the same mileage as his current age. He’s more than a few years older than me, so riding his age is pretty impressive.
I thought it would be pretty neat to start up a tradition of riding my age as well, both as a personal challenge and has a hat tip to Uncleish. Now’s the time to do it, when I’m young enough to not require serious training to get the mileage. I asked a bunch of people in my family if they’d like to join me, and two of my sisters, plus a brother-in-law, plus Kristian all decided to ride along.
(There were a few other folks that wanted to join as well, but work and dislocated kneecaps got in the way.)
In case you weren’t sure, I turned 34 today. So, 34 miles it was! (My sisters and brother-in-law get extra points for riding their ages+2, Kristian technically needs to do a few more laps around the parking lot.) We picked Labor Day, because it seemed like as good a day as any. And then we picked the Farmington, CT rail trail, because it’s super flat and scenic.
We mostly kept to the path, but we did make a quick detour to the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge . My sister says it’s even more impressive at the height of the summer, but it was still quite pretty.
I’m not exactly inspired to take a bazillion selfies after spending miles on a bike in the hot sun, but I did take a couple at the bridge.
Most bike ride recaps are pretty boring, so I will say that it was a nice challenge, but not impossible… and then I’ll pretty much leave it at that. Kristian and I were the only ones without road bikes, so we were kinda slow compared to everyone else, but we mostly stuck together and it was nice to get to spend the morning with everyone.
A family friend was kind enough to watch Lilian while we all rode, and then he met all of us for lunch afterwards. My sisters had some fun with the little bendy toys that the restaurant gives to kids.
We ended the day at my Grandmother’s house, where we consumed a good chunk of a peach pie that I baked for the occasion.
(I’m not usually super into food photos, but this pie was seriously tasty and it totally hit the spot after a long bike ride. I wouldn’t mind remembering just how good it tasted.)
Having a long biked ride planned for Labor Day weekend was a great motivator to get out during the summer. We probably could have done some more training, but I think we did ok. I wouldn’t mind making this a yearly tradition.
… It’s Lilian’s birthday party!
I’m not ashamed to admit, I was just as into the idea of a My Little Pony party as she was. But she did have some very specific requests.
She wanted cupcakes.
She wanted goldfish crackers in a yellow bowl.
And she wanted music so that she could dance.
(Not pictured, but I’m a card-carrying AV nerd, so you know we had pony music out on the back deck and plenty of dancing.)
I bought some pony decorations on Amazon, and then paper goods in purple (for Twilight Sparkle, duh) and rainbow (for Rainbow Dash, double duh).
Lilian and I made the cupcakes ourselves. I found these awesome wrappers on sale at Michaels. Those, combined with some purple sugar sparkles, and a little bling on top, and you could hardly tell that I’m not so good at frosting things. Especially not when I’m trying to keep a three-year-old from dumping an entire container of purple sparkles out.
We mostly just let the kids run around and have fun together, but I did put out some craft supplies so that people could make magic wands.
(Technically, pony magic involves unicorn horns and not wands, but Lilian is super into magic wands these days, and I’m not that OCD.)
(OMG, I am such a nerd).
We didn’t have as many kids as I was expecting (there were a few no-shows and a couple of illnesses), but that just meant more sparkles for the rest of us. And, hell yeah, lots of adults got into wand-making as well.
The best part of the party, though? Lilian had tons of fun with her cousins (and other little friends). And isn’t that the whole point of getting together in the first place?
(Ok, those purple mason jars were also kinda fun, but the cousins playing was so much better).
I’d say that the birthday girl had a pretty damn good time.
Happy birthday to my little Lilian!
It feels like this was just yesterday.
My sources tell me that this was actually three years ago, but man oh man, it really has just flown on by.
Lilian, you get more and more fun every day. Just when I think I couldn’t love you any more than I already do, my heart grows another three sizes. You are smart, funny, kind, and thoughtful. I wouldn’t change a single thing about you.
I love how you do everything with gusto, from running to the other end of the backyard to eating a peach. I love how you pat my back when I hug you. I love that you can tell when someone isn’t feeling well and give them hugs and kisses to cheer them up. I love that you love to be helpful. I love the way you sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Hearts as Strong as Horses. I love it when you crawl into my lap and say “I am a baby to sing songs with you.”
Love you to the moon and back,
I recently got into a (somewhat) heated discussion on twitter with some folks about all-male technology panels and what that means for women in technology fields. It’s pretty much impossible to talk with any nuance in 140 characters or less, so I thought I would expand on my thoughts here.
(My apologies for this diversion away from the usual content of stupid stories and pictures of my kid, but I have thoughts and I feel like I need to put them out there.)
(I’m mostly going to talk about women, because that’s the perspective that I’m coming from. But a lot of this applies to other minorities as well.)
A little backstory: there is a growing online movement to highlight all-male panels at conference. Nothing is quite so egregious as that all-male panel on women in comics , but there are a lot of all-male panels out there. I will be attending InfoComm , the yearly AV convention, for the first time this week. Someone on twitter pointed out that the key-note speech is all dudes. A bunch of dudes started arguing about this. I put my two cents in, saying that when I see all-male panels at industry events, it makes me feel like an outsider.
This much is true: all-male panels do make me feel like an outsider. This much is also true: there isn’t a quick fix for this. Our industry gets better about diversity every year, but women and minorities are still a very small part of it. And, of the women in our industry, there are very few of us doing the nitty gritty nerd work. This is a classic chicken and egg problem: women feel like outsiders when they’re not well-represented on things like keynote panels. But if there aren’t enough women working in technology, who do you ask to be on panels in the first place? When you add into the mix that many women are uncomfortable with public speaking, you suddenly have a tiny pool of women to draw from.
One of the things that I said in my tweets is that I don’t want to see us resort to tokenism. If I’m ever fortunate enough to be asked to speak on a heavyweight panel, I want it to be because I’m a kick-ass programmer, not because I happen to be a woman. I think that there are women out there who can nerd it up with the best of them. But it’s going to take some significant effort to find them. And some of those women are going to have to step up and agree to take on some more public speaking, even if it’s outside of their comfort zone.
One of my biggest difficulties with being a woman in technology is that most people who don’t know me assume that I don’t know what I’m talking about. This is (gradually!) getting better, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pretty much had to read off my entire CV just to get someone on the other end of a tech support call to take me seriously. I have literally had a CSR tell me at the end of a call, “We don’t get a lot of women calling in. You really know what you’re doing!” He meant it as a compliment, but it came across as “wow, you sure are smart for a girl.” (Just in case you think I was projecting, a male coworker overheard the entire exchange and was floored by it). When people don’t see women doing this kind of work, they end up internalizing some pretty retrograde assumptions about what a technologist looks like.
I want to see more women on technology panels, because it challenges people’s assumptions about what women in our industry do. I want to see more women on technology panels, because there are some amazing, kick-ass women in our industry who have thoughts that I want to hear. I want to see more women on technology panels because it gives us all new thoughts and perspectives to think about.
Please don’t take this post as any sort of knock on InfoComm and the amazing programming that they put together. InfoComm is incredibly supportive of women. They recently formed the Women of InfoComm Network (WIN) Council, dedicated to bringing together women (and all of our allies!) to support each other in our industry. I will be speaking at the WIN Council meeting at InfoComm. For all I know, InfoComm asked a few women to speak at the keynote and they all turned them down. This particular panel just happens to be a catalyst for some thinking. And sometimes I can’t get my brain to shut up until I write my thoughts out.
In the long run, I think it’s the generation behind me that’s going to change the face of the technology industry. Women my age and older weren’t usually encouraged to get good with technology, or to take STEM classes. It’s hard to play catchup when you didn’t learn this stuff when you were younger. I am so fortunate to have had parents that pushed me to work had at math, to play with our family computer, to build with Lego, and to (eventually) major in computer science. When I first got started, I didn’t have a lot of women in tech that I could look up to. There are so many more female role models now. I think that, as enrollment in STEM programs goes up, the face of technology will change with it. There were three women in my computer science cohort, and we were the class with “wow, so many more women!” That’s a tiny baseline, you can pretty much only get better from there.
All too often, online discourse tends towards stratification and antagonism. People hurl accusations at each other, and then retreat into their corners. I have a tendency to throw out some barbs myself. Whenever I get too heated, I like to stop myself and say “Do I want to be right? Or do I want to be effective?” I would take being effective over winning a high school debate tournament any day. Hopefully, this post is effective. If it made you think some thoughts, I would very much appreciate hearing about them.