Crooked Timber: Women in computing As someone who works at an all-women’s college, I appreciated this lovely description of the Grace Hopper celebration put on by Google. I’m constantly encouraging women to go into technology fields or jobs and so far, I’m 2 for 3. Not bad.
I spent some time working on the novel. I am somewhat stuck. I am writing about sex–not just any sex but 17th century adulterous sex, from a woman’s point of view. Ugh. There is so little real information about what women were doing in terms of their sexuality that I am at a loss at times of how to describe it. Would they have been on top, for example, or was missionary style pretty much it? Would they have initiated sex or would they leave it up to the man? I just don’t know. And acutally, I think my main character doesn’t know either–how she feels about this sex thing. She wants it, enjoys it (with her lover at least) but worries a lot–about being caught by her husband, about being labelled a whore, about her lover just wanting her for the sex. Okay–probably not a lot different from the way women feel today. Glad we cleared that up. Now if I can just get that into a nice juicy sex scene that’s not too corny, I’ll be good.
I’m making a trip to the library tomorrow to get some books to read for the novel. Research usually helps me focus more. It’s hard to juggle so many things. A job that has nothing to do with what I’m writing, a life that includes children and husband and me, and the mom thing. I was saying to myself today that I should just buck up and finish the novel, but it’s hard. I’ve exhausted myself the last couple of days, reading and writing and thinking, that it’s just hard. Okay, now I sound like Bush.
The writing is going slower though. I was on a roll the last few weeks and now things have slowed down. I had hoped for 10 pages this weekend. I got 5. I guess that’s not so bad. I’ve vowed to write every night this week except Wednesday–the debates. And if anyone has suggestions for this sex problem, I’ll take them.
I was blogging away about the demise of the soccer mom as a political entitity that garnered attention (as a spinoff of my previous post) when I clicked the wrong button and poof! into the ether it went. I had lists going and everything so this won’t quite capture the previous posting, but I’ll try. I was pondering the fact that women’s issues have disappeared from the campaign this year. We’re talking about the war, the economy and health care. All issues that affect women in some way, but are not specifically about women. We’re not talking about abortion, child care, the wage gap, sexual harrassment, rape, getting more women into executive and government positions, etc. So I thought, well, let’s find out what the candidates are saying.
On the Bush side first . . . His web site makes it hard to find information about women’s issues. I decide to go with a link under Agenda for America entitled Helping Families. Apparently, women only exist as a part of a family structure. The first 7 items have something to do with health care. I don’t think all these things are bad, but I don’t think they all have much to do with families necessarily or with women. It reminds me of when I was in sales and selling a product that didn’t have a lot of benefits, so I’d take one benefit and spin it lots of different ways to make it seem like it had more to offer. Finally, we get to an item called “Creating a more Family Friendly workplace”. Under it are two items–Flextime/Comp time and Telework. Neither of these promise that much and neither discuss making it into law. The next item is one that I personally found scary. Entitled “Keeping Children Safe,” it discusses abstinence-only sex education, drug testing in schools, and internet pornography. All of these are extremely short-sighted programs. The final item on the family agenda had to do with Veterans.
On the Kerry side . . . Much easier to find information. Two clicks “More Issues–>Women” and you come to a page with a clear agenda for women: work/family balance, wage gap, reproductive rights, increased access to education. Very clear. There’s also a section under communities for women to work together on issues that are important to them–and of course, to help elect Kerry.
So here’s my list of things not addressed well–completely personal–and from the viewpoint of a married mother of two:
- support women’s rights at work–meaning everything from discrimination in reward and promotion to sexual harrassment to maternity (and paternity) leaves
- support for women who choose to stay at home–a tax break, the ability to earn social security, I don’t know, get creative (read The Price of Motherhood sometime)
- fund education and encourage states and local school districts to reform education so that it fits with current families’ real lives. After school programs are fine, but all-day school with the option of an hour or two (as much is needed) after that would be better. They system functions on this idea that somebody is home at 3:00. This would go a long way toward improving test scores, decreasing drug use and teenage pregnancy (less free time/more time studying).
- While I’m dreaming . . . how about a required ratio of women in the senate and or house? Or at least some programs to encourage and support female candidates?
Well, that’s my rant for the day.
Since my kids became soccer-playing age, Saturdays are no longer days of relaxation for me. I used to sleep in–sometimes until noon. I was blessed with late-sleeping kids and so even post-kids, I could sleep until 9:30 or 10:00 some weekends. Now, I’m up between 7:00 and 7:30, then it’s shower, wrestle the kids into soccer clothes–shin guards, cleats and all, rush off to Wawa (local convenience store), get the 24 ounce coffee, bottle of water, banana (cause I never have food left by Saturday), then drive around to find the soccer field (it’s never the same one), plop into a chair, sip coffee and watch 5 year olds try to figure out which way to go. It’s pretty cute–but definitely not relaxing. After the 5 year old game, we have an hour until the 9 year old game which is much more exciting, but still not relaxing. When I get home, it’s laundry folding, ironing, grocery shopping, dinner prepping, flower planting, Halloween decoration putting up, collapsing in front of the tv.
Funny how you never see the soccer mom and the geek mom at the same time. They can’t possibly be the same person, can they? The soccer mom sits on the sideline and yells, “Go! Go! Go!” She worries her kids may be sitting out too much. She notices that she’s better-dressed than the mom to her left, but not the one to her right. She grimaces when the dad stands in front of her and blocks her view with his butt–and it’s a big one too. The geek mom, on the other hand, stares at her computer screen, shouts across the room to her colleague, “You gotta see this cool flash movie!” She worries she may be losing her tech knowledge by the minute. She thinks in acronyms–wiki, xml, html, pdf, php. She carries usb and firewire cables in her purse. She looks good compared to most geek women–and way better than the men who are really all that are around her anyway.
When she pulls into the parking lot at the afterschool care building, all of the acronyms fall away and suddenly, her thoughts are all peanut butter and jelly and Yu-Gi-Oh! She must wrap herself in these until Monday morning after the bus pulls away from the curb, its red and yellow lights signalling it’s safe to change identities. With the drone of National Public Radio for the 15 minute drive to work, she slowly metamorphizes into geek mom once again. She arms herself with her smartphone, which begins to beep for the first meeting of the day, and her iPod, which she uses to drown out the smartphone.
Sigh. And that’s just two of her identities.
I’ve accomplished a few things from my list, though others don’t look like they’re going to happen–oh well. I managed to purchase a scanner and successfully scanned in one of my old poems with Abbyy FineReader (included with the scanner). I have version 5 here, but I have 7 at work, which is sooo much nicer. I did a quick search for some free or cheap OCR programs and there’s not much out there. I’m guessing that OCR is pretty hard to do, so not many people are going to take it on as an open source project. I might have to bite the bullet and upgrade. Sigh. I will be scanning some pictures here shortly–to go with the poems. I think this will be a fun project. My poems have never been published. Frankly, they’re not good enough. They’re better than poems that might show up in Ladies Home Journal, but they’re not Missouri Review material. But I’m attached to them for a myriad of sentimental reasons. They represent a slice of my life from college through graduate school. I’m thinking only a handful will make it.
I also managed to do a little writing–3 pages. No planting, no laundry. Oh well, there’s always the weekend.
Today, I skipped work. In my former life as an adjunct professor, I usually taught on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I used Fridays to learn new things–mostly new technical things. I wish I could reinstitute this policy. I am sometimes able to do this at work, but not always. Because the phone rings, the e-mail comes in–someone needs me for something. And that’s one difference between working a regular, 9-to-5 job vs. being in the academy. Oh, I know there are committee meetings, students at your door, letters of recommendation, etc. I’m married to a professor, so I know. But if you want to hide at your house one day a week, you can. Your time is your own to decide how to fill. You decide when the students can come visit (office hours) or when you’ll write that letter. Committee meetings, faculty meetings, okay, but these are far less frequent than my phone calls–believe me.
So today I’m taking my life back. I’m really feeling pretty good about this. I’ve been gradually, over the past year, taking my life back. I jumped from the professor track to an I-don’t-know-what track and am really starting to make it the Laura track. So here’s the plan for the day:
- Work on the novel–writing, not reading. I’m on page 87. I’m hoping to be to 100 by the end of the weekend.
- Pull out the poetry again. My poetry is not so great, but it’s mine and I’m thinking I want to work on posting it online in some sort of multimedia form.
- Buy a scanner. I need to scan pictures for the above project.
- Plant flowers. As I said, I’m not much into Mom/Housewife stuff, but I feel compelled to keep up just a little. Plus, I like looking at flowers.
- Take housewarming gift to friend. Much belated.
- Laundry–but I might wait until tomorrow. 🙂
Not a bad list. We’ll see how it goes.
So I had a couple of geek moments today. The last and most astonishing, to me, was the sudden desire to have a phone/iPod combo. I was walking across campus to the car, listening to my iPod, Buddy Holly I think, when suddenly my cellphone rings. I yank my earbuds out, cursing because I almost step on them (I’m not very tall), then nearly dump out the contents of my purse trying to get to my phone (I really hate purses). So after talking to my husband, who just wants to tell me he’s going to the hardware and that the kids are at the neighbors and could I order the pizza, I think, damn wouldn’t it have been great if I just could have hit the “phone” button which would have paused the song, and voila, I’d be talking and then could go back to listening when I hang up? I tell my husband about this when I get home (he’s a geek, too) and he says, well duh, don’t you think they’ve come up with that already. And I’m thinking, where’s the marketing campaign? So, of course, I Google it, which brings up on two items. A concept photo for the iPod/phone combo and the n-gage which is an MP3 player and a phone, but the site is so flashy that I can’t tell if it would work in the way that I just described. I think it’s a cool idea anyway.
My other geek moment came when my boss walked in and I was blogging away and I had to confess I was a little addicted. (I love my job, though. I mean, I got paid for that blogging. 🙂 )Now this was work-related blogging. I’ve had a work blog on my server there for a while, but I’ve become increasingly obsessed with it. It’s even better than usenet and listservs–other forms I was once obsessed with and still use. I’m a bit of an information hound, I guess–or maybe it’s a communication hound because a lot of the blogs I read and enjoy don’t necessarily provide information; they are often discussions of key issues related to topics of interest to me. There’s just something nice about finding people who share my interests. I live in a big city, but aside from the people I work with, I don’t regularly run into people who are enthralled with all things technological as I am. In fact, many of the people I know are kind of horrified by it–they hate tv, for example. Some of them are simply frugal–technology costs money and they don’t rank it highly on their expenditure list. We do. I mean, we plan for computer replacement the way most people purchase homes and cars. We’re working on a second Tivo purchase–with better tv attached–as I write. I have other obsessions. You’ll find out about them later.
Hello, my name is Laura and I’m Geeky, and a mom, thus Geekymom. I have been a Geek now, for, oh, about 25 years. I have a SmartPhone, iPod, and an iMac. I think Tivo is the greatest invention since the remote control. I’d rather play video games than go shopping. I learned how to design web pages on maternity leave. I don’t do much in the way of mom things, and other moms I know look at me like I’m from another planet when I talk about the things I do in my spare time–like blogging. In geek circles, I’m like the woman who likes sports at a party. Thankfully, my job is geeky. I’m an Instructional Technologist. It’s actually my job to explore new gadgets and software. I create web pages on a regular basis and train others how to do it (maternity leave paid off well). I get paid to blog and read blogs. What cooler job could there be?
I’m also a writer. That’s what my original degree was in–Creative Writing. I’m working on a novel now. Originally, I was a poet. So you’ll probably see some blogs about that, too. You can see by my previous two posts that I intended this to be my professional blog at first, but I’m letting the school host that and here, I can have some fun.
To be the jinx master, you have to have monkeys in your head.–Geeky Girl
So I spent some time the other day searching for a decent, inexpensive word processor for my Mac. Apple Works just doesn’t cut it. We have a Linux machine too and have OpenOffice for that machine. OpenOffice is okay, but it’s just so ugly. If I’m going to have to stare at something for long periods of time, it should look nice. Plus, it does weird things with my fonts.
So I downloaded a version of OpenOffice for Mac–NeoOffice/J. It’s ugly, too. It’s a java-based application that looks just like OpenOffice for Linux. Plus, I couldn’t open a document. I could create a new one, but I was never able to open one–not good. Granted, it’s beta, so you can’t expect much, but still . . .
So then I downloaded a program called Mellel. It’s actually very pretty and seems quite functional. It looks like Safari and has the formatting palette just like Microsoft Word. I haven’t run this program through all of its paces, but I’m planning to in the next couple of days. This program seems to offer the most promise so far. It only costs $29, which is quite a bargain.
I have just downloaded Nisus Writer Express to see what it’s like. It looks nice from the screen shots, but we’ll see. I’d also heard about Mariner, but they offered no free trial, so I couldn’t test it out.
I also looked into AbiWord, but it’s only available for 10.3 and I haven’t upgraded yet.
I must say I find this whole process frustrating, but I suppose there aren’t too many options on a Windows machine either. You either go with Word, WordPerfect, or OpenOffice. I would really like a better alternative to Microsoft Word and I’m willing to pay for it, though I have limits.
Ultramookie has some good comments about all of these.
Tomorrow–some stuff about Multimedia.