Very funny Steve. What, did you think we wouldn't catch on? Did you think I'd forgotten about already seeing the device you supposedly "invented"? That's right. One of Scotty's fine, young engineers (seen here hiding behind some posts, I do like the shy ones) models the device for us.

Oh, maybe you remember now? That's right. It's called the PADD. I sh@# you not. But good thing Stevie could come up with such a "clever" and "original" name. (Seen below the Next Gen PADD, sported by the ever so fine Geordi LaForge [not pictured.])

You see, Tenured Radical has got a great post up about the overblown outrage over this new Apple WhizGadget and its association with certain feminine hygiene products apparently managing to offend people. Brilliantly oblivious Anonymous (real name) comments:
Just what the hell else was Apple supposed to name it? I figured the name
would be iPad along. It makes sense.
Besides the fact that Anonymous will never truly appreciate Mark Twain or Stephen Colbert (ok that was just an excuse to mention them both in the same sentence) he obviously misses the point. Which is that he's (and I'm gender-assuming it's a he since HE is about this close to being a mansplainer) completely forgotten why he "figured" it would be called the iPad. Because Gene Roddenberry coined the PADD term as a name for a flat, tablet-like communication and data device "while your great-grandfather was in diapers!!" to quote the eloquent Mr. Scott.

See 7:44 for the imfamous quote, and 7:02 for great advice from Scotty on engineers dealing with Captains. It's the same philosophy I use for Project Managers so I know it works. Geordi has also snagged for himself one of those new iPads.


                            OFFICE OF THE VICE CHANCELLOR -
                                   STUDENT AFFAIRS
                                           January 29, 2010
SUBJECT: Blah Blah Privacy Act (BBPA)
          Coordinator for the campus
I would like to inform the campus community that as of February 1, 2010,
our new BBPA Coordinator for the campus will be University
Registrar, O. Verp Aid.  Given the critical role of the BBPA
Coordinator it was imperative to identify someone who has expert
knowledge in this critical policy area.
Verp has served as University Registrar and Director of Enrollment
Services at the University of Somewhere Else, and Who Cares State
University.  He also served as the Assistant Vice President for
Enrollment and Access at Somewhere Else University, and as Executive
Director of Enrollment and Student Success for the Global Campus at
Who Cares State University.   Verp brings a wealth of knowledge and more
than thirty years of experience working with BBPA - related issues.
Verp has been University Registrar since January 2009.
I would like to thank Verp for agreeing to serve in this role.  He will
continue to provide the level of expertise needed to insure that we
maintain the highest level of BBPA compliance.  
                                                Jane Jones 
                                                Vice Chancellor -
                                                Student Affairs


I hope Verp gets a pay raise because he's not even in the system. I assume this mean he's working for free (ok it's true, the salary tables aren't recent enough). Jane Jones though makes $228,437. So I'm going to assume she didn't even write this herself. Verp also will likely continue to do no real work as the administrative staff below him working for one quarter or less of Jane's yearly salary will do all the real work.


                            OFFICE OF THE QUEEN BITCH -
                                   STUDENT WHINERS
                                           January 29, 2010
I would like to inform the highly paid executives who decided
to increase my student tuition by 30%, with 15% of that coming
within a month of making the decision, that they are warned and
hereby ON NOTICE that all levels of snark can and will be delivered
to them. While I am aware of our failing state legislature and how
this has resulted in a BS problem for you executives I do not believe
you have thought creatively about your problems. 
In addition to this increase you also asked the State for "an additional 
$913 million to restore program cuts, pay for unfunded enrollment 
growth, end employee furloughs and contribute to the Retirement 
Plan." I am extremely dismayed that your high priority requests do not
include any for Student Aid and do not even take into consideration 
that the University should solve its own problems before increasing 
its size without a reasonable plan for sustainable growth.
I assume the $10 million in your budget set aside for a new Medical
School in NoOneWantstoLiveHere (located conveniently in between
two thriving and pre-existing Medical Schools that are approximately
200 miles apart) is for buildings only and that in the next few years
costly Medical School salaries will increase this budget.
I also note that employees have not been contributing to the
Retirement Plan for the last 19 years and that due to a now failing
stock market you will be required to re-start contributions at a cost
of $96 million to the system. Considering private industry has cut
matching funds and even the federal government dropped its
pension in exchange for a 401k-like plan I am further dismayed
you brilliant academic executives could not consider such a plan
that would require employee responsibility rather than placing
retirement on the shoulders of your already overburdened with
debt students.
I look forward to your further updates when you promote or hire
new Chancellors of Expendability and as you are providing no
metrics as to how these executives are succeeding or improving
the program I will continue to measure them the only way any
citizen can right now; their paychecks.
                                                Vice Peon -
                                                Bitchy Undertakings



For your viewing pleasure; the published salaries at about $246k and above (I got too lazy to go any further). I've removed all the medical school professors (which made up a LOT in between) as my knowledge of what's reasonable in those terms or what tuition medical students might be paying is completely unknown to me. Given how many I had to remove though I can only hope they considered raising tuition on medical students as well and not just business and engineering students because we "cost more" what with our one lab class a year and all. Names have been removed to protect the innocent (and the guilty). For reference the local stats in my metropolitan area: Males had a median income of $36,984 versus $31,076 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,609.







MISCELLANEOUS  $472,683 [1] 


CHANCELLOR  $401,116 [2]








DIRECTOR  $291,200

















[1] MISCALLENEOUS? WTF! This is the "former" President, not sure if this is partial payment for the year he resigned or just old and out of date

[2] The big cheese, you'd THINK she'd be paid the most

[3] I'm in this guy's class right now, he's probably 75+ year's old, and while he's "nice" I wouldn't classify him as one of my better teachers, nor does he seem to have done a whole lot of research in the last decade. He's teaching my class and a graduate level class from what I can tell.

[4] I had this guy before. He has this beautiful beach view as his desktop computer background. The TA (who might be one of his students) told us it was the view from his house. The Prof responded "oh no, no it's not!" like it was a joke, but then mumbled "Well it is but I don't want them to get the wrong idea." What's the wrong idea? That you can own a multi-million dollar home with a gorgeous beach view? Why wouldn't you want us to know that?

[5] The head of his department, also surprised it's not higher.

[6] There were only like 5 women on this list(and none of them were professors), but like, who cares.


Another Barrier to STEM; Washout Rates

UCLA just posted a new brief on rates of completion in STEM broken down by ethnicity (too bad not by gender as well, can't have everything I guess).

Good news first; in 1971 38.4% of Whites/Asians intended to pursue a STEM degree versus 27.9% of what the study calls URM students (underrepresented racial minority). In 2009 however the breakdown was 34.3% White/Asian and 34.1% URM. So the good news is, interest seems to have caught up to near-equal levels.

The bad news? Completion rates. UCLA used two different studies to calculate this. I'm only going to mention their 5-year completion rates here because if any of these students are engineering majors, that's going to be the normal timeframe. Of those who declared a STEM major as a freshman, the following actually went on to complete their degree in five years; White-33% Asian-42% Latino-22.1% Black-18.4% Native American-18.8%.

So I busted out some excel skills on this one(the original study has some nice graphs as well). Below you can see the average number of people indicating an interest in STEM, pretty dire (I think 50% would be a more reasonable interest rate we'd want to aim for). I'm using the UCLA sample size for my arbitrary number of people.

Here's a breakdown in declared major (or interest or whatever UCLA was using) by ethnicity, assuming all races had an equal number of people to begin with which of course they did not.

So Wikipedia, educate me some on college completion rates by ethnicity.

Let's unscientifically combine that with my previous numbers to see a breakdown of those graduating with STEM degrees in five years by ethnicity (note: Wikipedia's data did not include Native Americans, so I had to not show them here).

On the left is a rough population model of the US population in general applied to our sample and not including groups we don't have data for. On the right is the ethnicity breakdown of those completing STEM degrees in five years combined with overall US population ethnicty and with overall college completion rates. One can see how much smaller the URM pie pieces get.

Lessons learned? I like playing with excel. Also, it's nice that race/ethnicity is no longer a bar to having an interest in STEM. But the washout rates for STEM overall are not good and are really bad if you're an underrepresented minority. This is compounded by the fact that underrepresented minorities have much lower college graduation rates overall. So in tackling this disparity you'd need to focus on not only why STEM washes out more minorities than other people, but also why fewer minorities have both access to and better chance of success at graduating with a college degree.


Two Parts Privilege, One Part Outrage

So I've mentioned White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack before (as always worth a read if you've never read it/heard of it). But a few interesting discussions I wanted to link to. Snarkysmachine's Black Women Need Not Apply (thanks SKM) where she discusses racism on dating boards. But I thought her statement was pretty profound:
There is a huge chasm between white women who frame their experience in terms of feeling pressure to live up to a harsh set of standards versus women who live on the margins yet are still expected to adhere to the same standards that do not even recognize their existence. The former often focuses on specific traits such as blondness, thinness without much critical examination, with the expectation that intersectionality should have no bearing on the discourse.
Go ahead and read that twice. It took me a few times. Yes it's one thing to be irritated at being held up to standards for female beauty. But then to realize that these standards are inherently racist is another. Than struggling with the idea of not being thin enough or blonde enough is such a huge leap above not even being seen in the same terms. Having an appearance that is "other" and so the standards that define you do not even recognize you. Also brilliant is this piece, What If Black Women Were White Women?



-My statistics professor refers to events on a Venn diagram as potatoes. So in using that to explain something else he kept talking about "potato space" which is a great mental image.
-I referred to my brain, out loud, as my mind box.
-I think it's rude* to go on and on about your EXTREME sports activities over the weekend to someone who is disabled and obviously lacks the opportunity to participate in said sport. Especially when you're just answering the question "How've you been?"
-Please don't talk about your infections, rashes, boils, blisters or puss within my hearing distance. This is not work-appropriate banter.
-Just because you are having problems printing at home does not mean "there's a whole mess of problems with having different operating systems" or that "it's that 64-bit thing". Hello?! Note how we use multiple operating systems at work and we're all able to print just fine? You know why? Because the people who run our systems are not as retarded as you, you f-ing troglodyte. I don't expect you to understand the technology, but please don't confuse your ass with your mouth and start lecturing others like you have a f-ing clue. Cause you don't.
*Results not typical.

Pope Tweets, Youth Finds Bible More 'Awesome' in 140 Characters or Less

So the Pope suggested his posse adopt new media; as in, be not adverse to social networking or blogging. I think this is great, because the only thing holding me back from joining Facebook is that it's just not worth it if I can't be Facebook Friends with the Pope. I know people like to criticize the Pope; certainly he's been anti-Vatican II so why not Web 2.0. But I thought he had at least one nugget of wisdom (emphasis mine) in this story:
The 82-year-old pope has often been wary of new media, warning about what he has called the tendency of entertainment media, in particular, to trivialize sex and promote violence, while lamenting that the endless stream of news can make people insensitive to tragedies.
I don't think that's untrue. There was that study that showed that violent video games delay people from helping others (thanks Ed Yong). Keep in mind, I'm pretty pro-"violent videogames" here, but I do think our society has a tendency to say violence is good and to oversexualize our youth while creating impossible standards for both genders.
At any rate (a phrase with which every woman in my family uses to move on to a new point), I look forward to Papal Tweets.


How Leveraged Are You?

Found this great post by Matt SF on Steadfast Finances on how to visualize how much of a slave to your stuff you are. So what do you do?
-Take your bi-weekly POST tax pay (take a look at your last pay stub) and multiply by 26. (Or if monthly pay, by 52, etc). Then divide that by 260 working days a year. This is your daily pay.
-Calculate how many days each liability is: mortgage, car payment, student loans, money spent on food, money spent on gas, utilities, insurance, credit card bills, etc.
-Make a pretty calendar.
So Matt and I seem to have the same problem with an over sized mortgage. But even though I'm not as heavily indebted or spend as much on digital entertainment (included under my utilities) as Matt, I ended up with only one "free" day. And of course, Matt has no category for savings, so I'm assuming whatever you save comes out of that "free" day. What an interesting activity! Obviously I spent too much on a house (and yes this is my DINK household income/expenses), and probably spend too much on food, but what to do? Well Matt offers some suggestions for what HE did to cut back. I'd like to tell the University system they are really cutting into my fun money but they'd probably ignore me and just hire another Vice Chancellor of Pedantry or Chairman of Misplaced Apostrophes for a three figure salary each. So how about you, does your stuff own you?


Morals and Passing Judgment

Arikia over at The Millikan Daily has been doing some really great posts on the situation in Haiti. Because I agree we (as Americans? as middle-class internet users?) can not forget this I too will add my uneducated perspective.
NPR has a really poignant gallery of one of the inevitable events now: looting. I can't help but be struck by the photo whose caption is:
A little girl runs down the street crying after a group of men took the bag of good she had gathered from a collapsed market.
Not her understandable expression of terror but her crisp white Yankees shirt. A symbol of the influence that America has always had on this part of the world. And I wonder what the shirt means to this little girl. Does she like American baseball? Does it mean something to her in the way baseball has often been used as a symbol of success or overcoming barriers? Does she like the Yankees in particular or just like watching baseball? Or does the American team and American brand have some other kind of status for her? And I think of the irony that this group of people has finally turned to looting with American troops somewhere no doubt nearby; but still not fast enough and not enough food and aid for everyone at once.
Professor of Law Anita L. Allen writes a thought provoking essay, "The Ethics of Looting." I think it's easy to say looting is morally wrong. And easy to admit if put in the same situation of no food, no medical supplies, and no sanitary supplies we might all turn to exactly the same solution. Her essay is a bit superficial but it does at least touch on some of the things to consider in this instance. And it's easy to say a looter who walks away with a TV or some other non-essential is morally wrong, but I'm not sure one can make a judgment there either. I think of the people stealing barbie dolls and think of the children for whom this might be the only small comfort they are going to get since the earthquake. What horrible things they have seen and we will begrudge them a doll? I thought one of the commenters on the essay had some interesting things to say:
first off, everyone can argue about what is moral and what isn't but in reality when face with a situation such as the Hatians many of us would probably do the same thing. It's very tempting to take an ipod when you don't have one (or whatever the item may be). I would say this especially holds true for someone who may be of lower income and has not had the chance to own something that has now come readily available, but let's think about all the celebrities who are caught stealing. Also, for the man who is seen with the knife as he is trying to find supplies- I feel saying he is "ready to do violence" and therefore it is "condoning violent theft" is simply a philosophical argument. Let's take a realistic approach. This man may need legit supplies. He does not know who else is in that store and in this situation it is truly "survival of the fittest." In a sense, he may be prepared for a violent confrontation but is that his intention?
So in closing, how can we help? Obama asked Americans to text Haiti to 90999. This will charge $10 to your mobile bill and have it sent to the Red Cross. Other organizations that accept donations online at their websites: Catholic Relief Services, Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Direct Relief International, Doctors Without Borders, The Salvation Army, and UNICEF. Stay vigilant. Do not forget.

Not a good swimmer

What am I supposed to do when I see that flooded sign, huh? Do I stop? I'm on a two lane two-way side street and there's a sign and I think great, am I about to drive into a swimming pool? PANIC!
The good news is, the car got to jump like a two year old in a variety of deep puddles whose corresponding spray as I passed through was taller than the car itself. The bad news is drivers in this city do not bother slowing down for rain. This is all fine and dandy normally but given that this is Rain with a capital R for once, I maybe would've been better off inflating a raft and floating home. The best part was sitting at a stop light and watching a recycling bin and all its (buoyant) contents floating along rapidly the next lane over like it had some place to go. Some guy's going to be like, WTF happened to my recycling bin?


Updates from the Edge

- Find out what level of Hell you'll be going to.
- Realize the Massachusetts Senate win is boring and who cares except for the fact of that there's a ridiculous double standard in that a man who poses nude can still get elected as a Senator; and a conservative one at that.
And for the record; Fifth Level of Hell: Wrathful and Gloomy.


Put that good credit score to use

Can someone loan me 28 million dollars? I'd like to buy a space shuttle.

Why Women Apologize and other ridiculous generalizations

Thanks to M. LeBlanc at Bitch Ph.D. for a very edifying take on Clay Shirky's A Rant About Women where Shirky calls for women to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again! Oh sorry, I got carried away. I mean he says women should behave like:
arrogant self-aggrandizing jerks...self-promoting narcissists, anti-social obsessives, or pompous blowhards
Or, in his fresh new hole, the words digging him deeper are:
Now this is asking women to behave more like men, but so what?
I don't know that I even want to touch this with a 20 foot pole. There's a difference between a personal hope that more women (say an equal number as men) can be confident in themselves and their abilities versus asking women to strive for a heightened level of aggressiveness. Because while we like to talk about how Women Don't Ask and yet studies show that women who ask are penalized. Assertive behavior from women isn't rewarded, which is the likely explanation why studies show they are less likely to negotiate pay.
All this led me on an internet scenic detour to White Privilege: The Invisible Knapsack which should be required reading for every person in America. I can't believe it was written in 1988 and yet certainly the ideas in it were eye opening to me. All this gets me back to what Shirky's responsibility is as a citizen. It's all very well for him to hand out advice, that I'm sure he thinks is very pro-women and of a feminist nature. But where's the beef? If Shirky is in a position of authority, what measures does he take to mentor his female students in being more confident about their work or assuring that he has appropriate levels of diversity under him or that he makes sure the men he mentors are equally qualified and doesn't let them in because they are like him. Or perhaps even most importantly, how does he make sure he mentors his male students to be good citizens with an appreciation for equality and the rights of women and minorities to be heard, listened to, and respected.
My former boss got commended in an industry magazine with a brief excerpt about his work. In it, he expressed his desire to encourage diversity in the workplace and be a good mentor as well as boss. And you know what? He walks the walk. I've seen him make the effort to encourage everyone from white man to Asian woman and be inclusive and supportive. Not every boss has the balls to do that. Most are too busy looking ahead and keeping their eyes on their own prize to care what kind of environment they are creating beneath them. So Shirky, to thee I say, walk the walk. Then come back and tell us what worked and didn't work. Think of it as an academic experiment.
And for the daily personal anecdote, I am reminded of an incident at work. One where I should have spoken up about something that was happening (or felt I should have spoken up) but at the time lacked confidence in my own judgment and felt that those around me were certainly more experienced and intelligent and knew better than I, so I said nothing. When asked what happened later on when managers wanted some accountability for the situation, I said only that I didn't know better. But then later, in a guilt-ridden mood, I confessed to a superior that I wish I had spoken up and certainly felt doubts at the time but lacked the confidence. The supervisor than chided me not for speaking up but also for lacking confidence, as if I had just exposed two weaknesses at once. I thought this was over until he brought it up later, as an example of a personal shortcoming, or as an explanation for why I was not more successful in general. Well remember you said it was your fault for that incident. I was irritated. Had I not confessed this to begin with, surely it would have been written off to my inexperience, not seen as some personal shortcoming responsible for every failure in my life, and likely he wouldn't have even thought to place responsibilities on my narrow shoulders.
Then I realized: Of course, a man wouldn't have apologized.* Maybe in his head a dude thinks about what he did wrong. But he never would have felt the need to confess to self doubt. He would have only wiped the sweat off his brow in relief that the moment was passed and move on. Men only look back and question when it's football. I've got to remember to stop apologizing.
*FrauTech acknowledges this is ridiculous gender bias. FrauTech also realizes that an asterisk at the end of some blanket statement does not justify the use of that statement. Perhaps sentence should read, "The men I know wouldn't have apologized."


Five Financial Resolutions

Time to clean your financial house. Time for me to give financial advice because it's one of the things I do.
1. Get Debt Free
Don't tell me your debt is "good debt." Don't tell me you have no debt, other than your student loan. Debt is debt is debt. I don't care if it's on a really low rate. You need to pay it off. You should prioritize this above buying a NEW car, or buying a home. Why? First, paying off debt is like giving yourself that money at a guaranteed rate of return, where that rate of return is your interest rate. Even relatively low interest rates are still paying better than most CDs or money market funds today. So what's the safest way you can earn interest off your money? Pay off your debt. Second, keeping a debt payment is what's keeping you from not reaching your other goals. Whether that goal is to buy a home, buy a car, feel financially secure, start a retirement fund, or just to spend $200 a month on THINGS YOU WANT not some scummy bank's interest rate.
2. Have Some Savings
How much should I save? Well this all depends. I like Michelle Singeltary's advice that you should have both a "life happens fund" and an "emergency fund." Life happens fund is like, your furnace needs to be repaired or your car's water pump goes out. Maybe $1000ish give or take some for how expensive your lifestyle is in general. Then an emergency fund, to be X months of your expenses. As in, you and your spouse lose your jobs tomorrow, how much money do you NEED to keep paying the rent/mortgage, utility bills, etc. It won't necessarily be a one-for-one of your expenditures, because hopefully you'd cut back a little in dire circumstances, but overestimating savings never hurt anyone. How many months? Depends on your job security and responsibilities. If you have an apartment you can leave any time and Mom&Dad have any extra bedroom, you probably needn't be as careful. If you are both government employees, you probably don't need to be as careful. But if your jobs are less secure, more is better. If you have nothing? Start with one month's emergency fund and work your way up to anywhere from 3 months to 6 months to 12 months as fits your situation. 3 months is a good average for most people.
And where should you keep this? Life happens can be in your bank's savings account, you will want to access this quickly. Emergency fund should not be touched unless, duh, an emergency has occurred. So put this somewhere safe, separate, but still accessible. Do not invest in stocks. In fact, do not invest in bonds either, with either of these funds. If your bank offers money market funds, or you can open a set of revolving CDs (i.e., open 3 3-month CD's each with 1/3 of your emergency fund, one month at a time, so every month a single month's emergency fund "matures.") Or online savings accounts such as ING or HSBC are great.
3. Start Saving For Retirement
If your employer has a 401k or 403b or TSP, that's where you start. Sign up to get X% withdrawn from your pre-tax income. What %? Well conventional wisdom is, if your employer offers any kind of a match, you should contribute the minimum to get that match. If you get some kind of pension, if it's especially generous, you may be able to save less. But really, most people don't save enough. And if you find out in your 50s you've saved too much, you can always cut back THEN rather than cut back now. Beyond your company's plan, you might consider an IRA. If you have a household income of something less than $150k (or thereabouts, might be different now) you should consider opening a Roth IRA. This means you put post-tax money in it now, and when you withdraw in retirement you pay no taxes (versus your 401k withdrawals you WILL pay taxes on). I know you're thinking, "Gee FrauTech, I'm not made of money, how am I going to start this?" Well let me recommend the Schwab Roth IRA. If you open an account with Schwab they'll give a free initial consultation if you're unfamiliar with what you might want to invest in. But let me recommend something like their Total Stock Market Index Fund. With an expense ratio or 0.09%, you're talking one of the lowest expense ratios on the market period. You can open with an initial investment of $100. I'll talk about what to invest in in more detail some other day though.
4. Start Saving for College
Okay some of you will never have kids and both have your PhDs so nobody's ever going to college (again). But if you're married, and planning on having a baby, open a 529. Especially if you've been through the higher education system, you know how ridiculously expensive it is. If you don't even have a kid yet, that means 18+ years of compounding interest on your hypothetical child's college savings. So even if it's just $50 a month (the minimum to open a 529 with say, Schwab, though there are lots of good options out there) your kid will thank you. The people who don't save because they think their special snowflake child will get aid or scholarships are deluding themselves. If your state offers tax incentives to open a 529 through your state's plan, that's who you should open a 529 with. Especially if your state offers a match.
5. Spend Money
...on what's important to you. Don't spend a ton of money on a mortgage because everyone's telling you "It's a great time to buy!" or because 'Real estate is always a good investment!" or because you think this is the only way you'll feel like an adult. Mortgages are almost always more expensive than rent in the first 5-10 years. And if owning your own place doesn't come with some particular advantage to you that you couldn't get some other way and cheaper, don't do it. Yes I do think it's a good idea to try to own your own home outright by the time you retire so that you don't have that fixed expense every month, it still isn't for everyone. Even if you have 20% for your downpayment saved, it might be worth it to save even more before you take the plunge. So spend the money on things that are important to you. If a new car is important, make that the goal of your money. If you want to travel, make sure your money goes towards that. Don't spend money on fast food, flat screen TVs, new carpets, or furniture if these things aren't important to you. Find what gives you joy, and make sure beyond #1-4, that that is your spending goal.


Foot Long Spiders and Other Tall Tales

So there was this giant spider. I mean like, the size of my hand.* Ohmaigod. So I went with a melee attack which only knocked it out. I followed that up with my sonic attack. Kitty was not amused. Though she was curious, she deigned not to help me. Eventually I called in another member of my formation to finish it off.

I think spiders must have resistance to sonic because it didn't seem fazed by my impressive power.



I'm trying to learn new things. Like say, improve my drawing skills. I'm a pretty terrible artist which is especially amusing considering what I do for a living. Behold my masterpiece(original on the left).

Wear to Work Wednesdays #6

This time I'll let other people do the work for me, and pick a few already put together looks from some of the big names. On the left is Ann Klein in blue and blue. In the middle is J Crew for those with the style to pull off a more hip and funky look, and on the right is Nordstrom in some safe and neutral colors but still dashing and strong. Keep up the good work!


The List

-First cup of coffee.
-Tackle final test documentation.
-Second cup of coffee.
-Finish test documentation.
-Revise failure analysis.
-Third cup of coffee?
-Get the pink elephants to help me with the failure analysis.
-Chocolate. Maybe.
-Propulsion lecture.
-Stats homework.
-Eat. Live. Sleep.
This message was brought to you by delicious Folgers. Folgers; The best part of wakin' up is having coffee instead of cussing out your colleagues.


Party School

Historiann/ has an interesting post up about excessive drinking and partying on college campuses based on a segment on This American Life. She says:

Instead of seeing graduation from college as an exciting beginning of their
lives as free adults who can explore the world, establish themselves in their
chosen fields, and/or engage in creative projects, it's just the first blow of
the work whistle they'll be waking up to for the rest of their lives.

I think this to be pretty interesting and a symptom of a culture where we're always expected to seek peak enjoyment. There's a pressure to have fun and enjoy our youth and exceptions (like Historiann, and some of the commenters) who looked forward to some of the elements of adulthood are dismissed.

But then, I don't get out a lot myself, probably because I dance like this guy at 1:15.


I'm a PC

So I've had Windows 7 on my machine for a little while. It's pretty nice. But then, I liked Vista, so don't call me choosey. What I'm appreciating today is the built-in themes that come with Windows 7. Themes like architecture, landscapes, and scenes. But my favorite has to be the Characters theme because I get to take an acid trip every single damn day.


Wish I could say I knew it

Thanks to Dr. Isis I've been clued into the fact that Garrison Keillor is a bigoted douchebag. I must have spent the last month under a rock because despite the fact that I am an avid NPR listener this is the first I heard about it. And let me just say I might be the only one, but I've always hated Garrison Keillor. He has such an annoying voice. He sounds like he's salivating all over the microphone. And he reads all this inane poetry and all this crap that he's written himself and tries to pass it off as anything better than his projectile vomiting all over the room. I can't stand his honky-tonk style sing-a-longs. I hate how in his little plays he's always the dashing lead and yet you can tell he's some arrogant, pompous and backwards old man. I've hated him for years. And now finally I can take my hate public. I'm going to guess by his Prairie Home Companion movie that he's got tons of chic friends in Hollywood and probably plenty of NPR listeners who appreciated his crappy little show and his antics. But every year I hope he'll get taken off the air so I don't have to turn NPR off every time his self-promotion event comes on the air. And if I'd gone off on a rant on him six months ago, I'd probably be called crazy or out of touch or without taste (I'm probably all of these things anyways). But finally, my uncontrolled disgust of this man has a legitimate foundation.

Wear to Work Wednesdays #5

Another week at work, and today you'll wear some good clothing staples. Start off with ye old standby, the crisp, white button-up shirt
Warm up with your favorite black wool trench coat
Wear these great smokey tailored slacks

And add some bite to your bark with these patent purple pumps


Girls Can Too

So the Washington Post is featuring this story about an engineering class at an "all-girls school." I'm almost always supportive of any attempt to get more women into engineering, and definitely that starts with young women and girls. But this supposedly optimistic piece about encouraging women to go into engineering rubs me the wrong way. Firstly, their teacher sure has a laid back attitude about the whole thing.
If students do go on to an engineering job, "great," Lee said. "Certainly, the world needs more women engineers."
I hope that's because he'd rather recruit them for physics, his own discipline. But it seems like that's not the case. That he doesn't really care what these young women do with the rest of their lives. And while I usually think all-girl programs like this are helpful, because they specifically target women instead of the usually easier to recruit dudes, I'm put off by a statement by one of the students.
"I love the all-girls aspect because you connect with them so well," said sophomore Kelsey Good, 15. "It's such an open environment."
Now, this is good for women. And good for a young woman's self esteem not to have to compete with dudes who will drown her out before she can get excited about the science. But at the same time (and obviously this class is not part of this, as this is strictly an all-girl school and they don't have the option) it doesn't teach The Dudes that women can be engineers too. That womens' intelligence and science can compete with the boys in the classroom. Sure, we try to recruit more women into this male-dominated industry, but then what do we do? We segregate them in these "safe" female only groups. And while I think it's beneficial that women learn to cooperate and work in teams with each other, I think it's important they learn how to work within the larger world. Even if (or especially if) that larger world is sometimes unfair or inhospitable. But then, if you expose them to that too early do you lose them? Or if you wait until they find it for the first time (whether in high school, college or elsewhere) are you just delaying the inevitable on when they'll walk away?
I have two young girls in my family who have absolutely no interest in engineering. They tell me they hate math. I might have even said similar things when I was their age. Science classes in junior high and high school can be extremely frustrating with a series of projects where the kid whose parents help them out usually do the best and the rest of the class if not given the resources will often find the class especially challenging. And even as close as I am to these two girls, I'm not sure what I could do or say that would spark their interest in engineering. I don't mean to convert them that this is necessarily their future job, just to get them to have an open mind about it, add it to the list of possible interests they are considering as they growing up. Because I know now it's not on that list.
Obviously, more women in engineering will have a compounding effect and inspire a greater number to the field. But how do you get there? I think of notable figures in certain fields; say, someone like Sally Ride, inspiring young women to pursue science. And I think what a real dearth there is in almost all fields. Maybe politics nowadays is the exception. We seem so concerned about having or not having a woman president and yet, where are the women scientists? There's been several women as secretary of state now, many (though not enough) senators, a female head of the FDIC, but there's no female Carl Sagan. And why is that? Does the good old boys crowd still not want to play nice? I appreciate programs that encourage girls to be self confident and to pursue science and engineering. But it might be more important to educate young boys that girls are just as capable and teach girls and boys to cooperate with one another in scientific projects from an early age.


No Really

I hate it when people ask me point blank questions that there's no way to not answer. Especially about other people that I don't care about. Because then I end up having to explain that Jim is no longer working on this project and then they ask me why. And I have to tell them that Jim's dog died. When really? I don't care. Because Jim is an a-hole. But if when they ask why I say, "I don't care, Jim's a douchebag" they'll probably decide I'm a hateful person and never cooperate with me again. And if I say, "What, I look like Jim's keeper to you?" They'll decide that I hate them personally and never cooperate with me again. So there I am, relating someone else's story with as much stoic ambivalence as I can muster. And it's annoying. You know why I sound like I don't care? Because I don't. Now go away and leave me alone.


Happy New Year

Another year and we're still around.

Humans: 1
Zombies: 0