Thursday, February 23, 2006

Big sigh

A bad day in a string of bad days. I could post. I could talk about naive comments and alarmist fools. I could talk about how, once again, I've committed to way too many things and as a result, I'm back to crying everyday. I could complain about the two Indian fellows in my cube farm arguing about the structure of family names in their respective villages. I could try to articulate the exact kind of chocolate cupcake I am craving.

I will not do any of these things.

Instead, I will post a cute picture.

Have a nice day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bea Arthur Wrasslin'

Preparing for a computer science education conference. Reading papers about gender, pipelines, and psychoanalytic feminism.

These stereotypes did not lessen with age, as high school students expressed the same impressions. One high-school student described technology workers as "smart...They've got to be kind of nerdy," and added, "I'm not that type of person...They don't do anything. They don't talk on the telephone...they don't want to do anything by's not a good life." Her description paints a picture of an antisocial person, who is single minded in his or her focus on work. By distancing herself from "that type of person," this student is creating a barrier between herself and people who have careers in technology.

Here's the thing. This high school girl, wherever she is, isn't too far off the mark from where I'm sitting. And yes, I'm sitting in front of a computer. I do work all the time, I do focus on work like my dog focuses on cat turds, and I actually do hate talking on the phone.

I admit, I don't sit in front of the computer EVERY day. I have finally restructured my schedule so I don't sit in front of the computer every day. Fridays are what I call my "face day." I have a lot of really productive meetings on Fridays in which I get to work with other people. On Saturdays, I take off a half-day (maybe the whole thing if I'm particularly mentally unbalanced), but then I start working at the computer again on Sunday.

So, do I live this way because I want to, or because the computing culture at my department forces me to? If this high school girl is so right on the mark, do I really feel like telling her that computer science is for girls, too? And not just girls. Can I honestly say, without lying through my diet coke stained teeth, to a roomful of extroverted people who want to work on teams and do interesting work without sitting in front of a computer all the time, that computer science is for THEM too?

I have no answer. I just go back and forth. Some days I just feel like a genderless machine. Other days, I feel I don't belong here. Other days, I'm ready to burn down the school if that's what it will take to get some attention on the issue of diversity in computer science.

All this back and forth, and I feel like Bea Arthur wrasslin' a velociraptor.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Hey kids, circle round! Auntie FCSGS is going to tell you a story! And by story, she's going to tell you a thinly-veiled allegory involving anthropomorphised animals in the style made legendary by her good ol' buddy Clive.

Once upon a time in 1907, shortly after the first anti-rabbit fence was built in Australia, a hungry rabbit named Mocra sat solemnly in the dust of the Northern Territory. He was an ancestor of one of the original rabbits released in Australia by Thomas Austin in 1859 and he was proud of his great heritage. He was a proud rabbit in general, and would not hesistate to tell other rabbits of his great sacrifices and those of his lineage.

On this particular day, Mocra the rabbit was particularly hungry. The anti-rabbit fence kept him out of his favored farms, and he hadn't anywhere to gather carrots and lettuces. He sat in the dust of the Northern Territory and grumbled while his tummy rumbled.

After many hours of grumbling, a grey hare came by. The rabbit said, "Hello. I'm hungry. Do you have any food?" Mocra replied, "You cannot possibly be as hungry as I. I was one of the first rabbits caught behind the fence. In fact, my ancestors, brought here by Thomas Austin in 1859 were those especially victimized by hunger, for it was they who were the first domestic rabbits who had to learn to live in the wild..."

Mocra the rabbit could not finish, because the grey hare merely scampered away in search for food. Mocra sat in the dust of the Northern Territory and grumbled while his tummy rumbled.

After many days of grumbling, five white bunnies and their mother came by. The mother said, "Hello. We are hungry. We are on our way to look for food in the West. Would you like to join us?" Mocra replied, "You cannot possibly be as hungry as I. You are a mother bunny, and you must have a father bunny to provide for you. In fact, my male ancestors, brought here by Thomas Austin were those especially victimized by hunger, for they had many mother bunnies to provide for..."

Mocra the rabbit could not finish, because the white bunnies and their mother merely scampered away to the West. Mocra sat in the dust of the Northern Territory and grumbled while his tummy rumbled.

After many days of grumbling, a rabbit of the Great Sandy Desert came by. The rabbit said, "Hello. There is great news of food in the harbour! We only need to crawl beneath a hole in the fence. We can feed our hunger there!" Mocra replied, "You cannot possibly be as hungry as I. You come from the desert where there are many cacti for feasting. You must certainly have been to the cape where there are many shipments for scavanging. In fact, my ancestors..."

Mocra the rabbit could not finish, because the rabbit of the Great Sandy Desert merely scampered away to the harbour. Mocra sat in the dust of the Northern Territory and grumbled while his tummy rumbled.

One day, Mocra caught the Myxoma Virus and died.

The Moral: Wallowing in your own self-pity about problems in the face of those who work towards solutions will get you nowhere.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Race from Asia Ending with Tulips

My old 14-inch Apple laptop is sitting on a shelf in my basement; a basement which I'm now calling the "Laptop Morgue." It's 12-inch replacement arrived today, having been shipped from China just yesterday. I'm slightly amused by the fact that my laptop arriving from China beat my boyfriend arriving from Japan today. It's a strangely contrived race, since my laptop had an Army of people in China, Alaska, and GradShitTownVille. The boyfriend has to carry his own luggage onto the plane. Unfair, I know. Who said life is....

Mom? No, that's my own voice. Sometimes my voice box gets stuck in a certain tone and I swear my mother is talking in my ear. Really it's the sound of my own voice.

fair. And so the Army sent my new laptop to me and the kind gentleman in a purple shirt who brought it to my door woke me up today. Since grad school, "THE CRACK OF DAWN" shifted from 5:30 am--the time I used to get up to go to the gym in North Portland--to 8:30 am.

I don't even exercise in the morning anymore. I swim in the evening.

And I swam last night, but stop interrupting me Ms. Italics! The man in a purple shirt--which makes me think of Tom Hanks' "The Man With One Red Shoe"--woke me from a dream that actually didn't involve people trying to kill me. I dreamt of the garden I'd planted at my mother's third husband's house. In reality, he lived on half an acre, and while I lived there, my mother and I filled as much as I could with gladiolas, lilies, columbine, and tulips. It was theraputic. It was over 10 years ago. In the dream, the garden had become wild and overrun with tulips. I sat in the backseat of a car, and as the car drove slowly past Battlecreek Road, I could see the tulips. It was the scene from Logan's Run, except replace the White House with my ex-step father's house and replace the ivy with tulips.

But Logan's Run is a really cheesie movie.

I agree. Which is why I must find it for next Cheesie Chick Flick Night.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Grammar Hotline

Until I was 17 years old I wanted to be an English professor. I loved teaching and I was fascinated by all the rules of grammar that could allow a person to construct a perfect, elegant sentence. At 17, I realized that majoring in English would likely get me as far as waitressing tables. My boyfriend at the time suggested I try Computer Engineering since I was good at math and liked working with my computer at home. And voila, here I am. Thanks Logan Rhodehamel.

When I got to college, I took a CLEP test and received 6 hours of English credit. I never took an English course again. I took Spanish Literature, Modern Art, and 8 hours of theology; including a course on Martin Luther, which I thought was hilariously rebellious as a Catholic University undergraduate. I also took Materials Science, Semiconductor Physics, Signal Processing, and two years of Electrical and Electronic Circuits. As a result, many grammar rules have become foggy for me. Is it "Software Engineering" or "software engineering?" Is it "Department of Computer Science" or "computer science department?" Some searching on the web led me to my new favorite thing: Delaware's Grammar Hotline.

The website also led me to two books I hope to find at the library. I need as much help as possible to write a fabulous research paper which will get accepted and therefore get me closer to my prelim.

Monday, February 06, 2006

During the blues show today

As some of you know, I am a DJ for the local community radio station. Today during the blues show, I played a song called "I'm a Woman" with the following lyrics:

"I can make a dress outta a feed bag and I can make a man outta you."

Thank you Christine Kittrel. And Santa, if you are listening, bring me this for Christmas.