Monday, May 30, 2016

Simple Summer

We're going to grow tomatoes and tomatillos and spinach and lettuce and herbs.

We're going to sit outside on our front porch every
morning with all the pretty flowers.

We're going to grill, of course.

And we're going to experiment with all sorts of fun things, like 
shaking a can of cream to make butter.

Then of course: Farmers market, bike rides by the creek, the city pool, the reservoirs, the wandering around with friends (me, ha!) long days, late night dinners, afternoon weekend naps.... 

If everything posted on the net was Snopes-checked, or at least thought out...

I wonder what would happen if people were forced to consider every side of an issue before making a statement or spouting off some 140-character hate-tweet. I wonder what would happen if every post everywhere was forced through a Snopes filter. I wonder if everyone spouting off angrily about the gorilla that was shot at the Cincinnati Zoo would spout off if they were there. I mentioned something on Facebook about this. I am sad about the gorilla. I am not angry at anyone. It was an awful situation.

The internet, however, has imploded over this small issue, without, as is usually  the case, facts.
It used to be that people were told to not talk until they knew what they were talking about. Now, it’s more important to talk, just talk. Facts come behind cool sound bytes. (See: 2016 Election Season, all parties)

We live in a world of big mouths. We’ve taken extroversion to the extreme. Speak first. Yell if you have to. Shut everyone else down. Agree with the best sounding words. Everyone else, you're all dolts. It’s today’s main form of communication. People get their news and information from 15-second sound bytes. I blame social media. The internet. Forums everywhere. Facebook. Twitter. News feeds with 30-second clips meant to incite emotion rather than inform. All of it. It allows people to shoot off opinions and take strong stances on things they know nothing about. It allows people to populate the internet and our minds with the worst thoughts of humanity (See: Fat shaming, mom blaming, kid bullying, etc.) It makes me sad for our society, and our future. I like to think the best, though. I have hope that this is just a horrible horrible phase we're going through as we learn how to behave in this 'everything now, everywhere is here' world. We are, by nature, compassionate. We are meant to live in groups and to help each other.

On twitter, I follow the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, Neil deGrasse Tyson (who probably doesn’t follow the Pope, ha!) and Chris Hadfield, because he did a cover of Space Oddity in space, while astronauting. These are all peaceful people who have hope for our future and hope in our people.

I prefer to listen to hope and inspiration. I also prefer to believe that in the majority of instances, if these highly opinionated and under-informed denizens of the net were ever in a situation where someone was in need, basic human compassion would win, and they would help. I prefer to believe that. Because it would have been real. Not something seen on TV or in their Facebook or Twitter feed, where the viewer can distance themselves from the situation, make an instant emotion-based decision, and post some crazy rant about charging the parents or letting gorillas kill little boys.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Images in blogs, boys out of school and someone needs practice interviewing

Images matter in blog posts.

Loot Crate - catering to the people with the real power - whoever
so shall cook, so shall be the keeper of the Infinity Stones, whether
he-she be a he or a she or a thee - but definitely not a me, because
I am not really a cooker person. Cereal is for dinner.

That’s why you’re looking at the Infinity Gauntlet, now used in cooking. Thank you, LootCrate.


The boys are out of school for the summer. WOOT!
They have both had one of their best years ever. If I knew a few years ago what I know now, I think I would have made different choices. I wonder how things would be? I wonder mostly if it’s ‘okay’ now that they’ve had a good year, if some of the insecurities and esteem of the past few years have been repaired. I hope so. I wonder why I didn’t recognize some of this sooner, and then I remember, I did, I just calculated poorly and mis-weighed the benefits.
I can’t believe they are going to be 7th graders at the end of this summer.


I am not a rock-star interviewer. It’s a sad truth that at least I can accept. I have a friend who’s agreed to help me practice for future interviews - not only does she sometimes interview people, but she’s not nice and will tell me when she loses interest in hiring me. Then I will get grumpy at her. But I'll also probably interview better.

I am slowly making progress on getting better at interviews simply because I've been on a few. Still, I don’t know what it is, but I just haven’t hit my stride yet. I am a big believer in Liz Ryan’s motto that when you remember to be human and focus on the problems the interviewers need solved, than you’ll get the job. She is my inspirational virtual cheerleader. She doesn't even know it. I just read her stuff and feel better.

I am getting closer, I think, but I still always leave the interview thinking, I can’t believe I just said ‘insert whatever stupid comment I made…’ I think there is always one thing I say that i’m like DOH Take it back, take it back! Of course you can’t and it just hangs in your head, that one thing you said… til the next interview, when you say something else… ha ha.

Liz Ryan would say, it’s okay! Make a note. Learn from it. It’s okay if you want that job but didn’t get it, it’s not the only one! And you don’t really know until you’re in it… so. It’s all fine.
Liz Ryan is my hero. Penelope Trunk, too, though she’s a bit abstract.


I went for a jog today, and had to walk, ugh, because cookies. Which is why I charged up my fitbit and reinstalled My Fitness Pal. Because cookies, while often delicious, are rarely helpful.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Summer without plans... aka... every other summer

Where my sons will be this summer. Hopefully, in better, less
rainy weather... this is not summer weather, but it sure is green out!
We’re about a week away from summer vacation, and like every other parent in America, I’ve been busy making summer plans for the boys. This is what it looks like: we have no summer plans for the boys.

No summer camps. No sports. No music. No languages. No robotics camps or maker groups. I’m not even trying to force them to do the reading program, like I do every year.
I told them one thing: one morning a week is mine. They are going to be forced to do some local outdoorsy thing involving biking a dirt trail, hiking, going to a reservoir to swim in water, ride their bikes the full path, something, anything, that gets them out of the place they are sure they want to be: Their room. The garage. The basement. The computer.

Both boys despise structured activities of any kind. They always have, with the exception of Turbo’s good 3-year-run of gymnastics. Soccer? No. Music? No. Drama? No. Chess? No. Field trips? No. Climbing? No. Wrestling? No.

So fine. They win. They get a summer doing what they’ve wanted to do for years. I know this is what they want, because every year they tell me it’s what they want to do. Stay home. Sleep in. Lounge. Be bored. Ride their bikes to 7-11. Whine about the heat. See matinee movies. Go to the local, overcrowded city pool. Wander around looking for other kids to play with. Complain about the pool. Draw. Flop about the house. Watch reruns. Go on a few long camping trips.

It’s not a bad summer. It’s every summer I ever had growing up, and I loved my summers, though I do remember being bored a lot. I’m not looking forward to the hours of bored-ness. It’s probably good for them, though, a bit of boredom. I’ll also admit it shows a lack of ambition for my sons’ future. They’re not learning anything useful! They’re not developing valuable skills! They might fall behind in school!

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t believe in half the crazy things most parents believe in. School days are long enough. Childhood is fleeting. Intensive sports before middle school sucks the joy out of weekends and ruins play time. Growing up is about exploring the world and their place in it. Finding an identity and something to strive for. It’s hard enough to do that without adding Mandarin classes or nightly practices because no really, the children so enjoy it…

They do have ambitions, though, my boys. Pure ambitions not placed on them by anyone other than themselves. Engineer. Professional YouTuber. Scientist who studies space (space scientist - astrophysicist? whatever). Director. Comedian.

I can hear the thoughts now - oh they have tons of summer camps for those! You can put them in a maker class, and they have camps for kids on how to make movies, and there are space camps and theater… except no, because I don’t want to crush the dreams of my structure-despising, free-thinking, independent-minded sons just as those dreams are beginning to take form. I could send them, could tell them this will teach them how to do all the things they want to do, but it’ll feel like work to them: assignments and projects and guidance and following rules can feel like work. I’d rather have them dream of it, play around with it in their heads, and experiment with it on their own time, as they do with their Lego and Hero Factory creations, their drawings, their writing, the storyboards they create without realizing they are storyboards, the notes about monsters and creatures and powers and the descriptions and drawings of islands and planets and environments - all the world-building that goes on late at night when they don’t know they’re world-building, the introductions to a future YouTube channel that gets practiced when no one’s around, the creation of an online persona… all these are more valuable and useful to the pursuit of their future dreams than a structured class that will teach them what they can easily learn later, when the desire is more fully formed.  

Summer will include a lot of the above, in between fits of boredom, biking, and playing in the creek. Maybe we’ll even paint their room.

And I can’t help it, but a small part of me thinks it’s going to be a great summer for us, precisely because of its lack of ambition.