naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (self-portrait)
Some of these links are new to me, others I've read before, but I found myself needing to locate them again, and rereading them, so I could point various people to them.

If you're not angry, you're not paying attention.

Concerning Native Americans in children's literature:

Concerning women in open source computing: (now at 243 comments...)

Concerning rape culture:

Concerning feminism:

Concerning racism:

It is the fourth annual International Blog Against Racism Week, and there are a lot of links I look forward to reading here:

Concerning accessibility:

Concerning Othering, Transgender Issues, and the Vocabulary of the label "cis":

Concerning privilege: and

'“Check my what?” On privilege and what we can do about it'

'Men! Feminism needs you! (Not your privilege…)'

'“Check Your Privilege At The Door” – Entering women-only spaces as a man'

The Male Programmer Privilege checklist:

And here's a whole bunch of privilege checklists...

And then there's
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (self-portrait)

(I used to have this on an About Adele page on my old website, and when I moved to in 2008, creating a shortened About page was a more appropriate and modern thing to do. I decided a blog post wass a more appropriate place for this, anyway. Sometimes, it helps to write out my beliefs, my priorities, my activism, my soapbox… and other times, I just need to get out in the fresh air and hike alone with the rocks and trees and open wind. And other times, I just need to go for coffee with a friend. Today was one of the soapbox days, I guess. The original version of this content was in part inspired by NPR’s This I Believe.)

I live passionately, and I focus intently on activities at home and at work. I am a perfectionist endlessly fascinated by life, the universe and everything. This also means that I am endlessly striving for one of those “work-life balance” things I’ve heard so much about.

I believe in imagination. I believe in hope. I believe that the journey to explore ourselves and our world is infinitely engaging.

I believe humanity needs to explore beyond our planet to have a better perspective on ourselves and our universe.

I believe that no single religion has all the answers, nor even all of the questions.

I believe that the United States and our world deserves better than the mess made by megacorporations and politicians.

And I believe that each individual person can make a difference.

I yearn for open spaces and fresh air. I find gardening to be cheaper and more useful than therapy or organized religion. I find peace and solace in wilderness.

However, I also love living in my current urban apartment, which is walking distance from used book stores, a used music store, a lovely little farmers market on weekends, more than a few fabulous restaurants, the public library, and the convenient mass transit rail station.

I enjoy organizing information, writing, reading, crochet, knitting, dancing, sewing, science fiction and fantasy, making jewelry, gardening, going to open-air markets, marking the passage of the seasons, road trips, learning about ancient cultures, camping (day-hiking, car-camping and backpacking in wonderful wild places), and enjoying good food and long talks with good friends.

I retake the Myers-Briggs/Keirsey indicator test every few years, and the results always seem slightly inconsistent; although I’m always coming up a rational NT, the other letters sometimes fluctuate slightly. In 1999, I came up as a Fieldmarshal (eNTj). I also took the Kingdomality test a while back, and apparently, my medieval occupational inclination is to be a Shepherd.

I’m an idealist, a feminist, an environmentalist, an independent thinker, and I care very much about equal rights for everybody regardless of gender or skin color or sexual orientation. I believe very strongly in womens’ rights to control what happens to our own bodies. I believe that the right to self-defense is a fundamental human right. I’m intolerant of intolerance and willful ignorance.

I’m a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, the Nature Conservancy, the Sequoia Natural History Association, Descanso Gardens, the System Administrator’s Guild, the League of Professional System Administrators, and the Project Management Institute.

Whenever my financial situation allows, I donate to the following charities:

If anyone cares about astrology, I’m a taurus, and my eastern zodiac sign is the water ox. This may have something to do with certain people’s observations that in certain situations, I’m a bit… stubborn.

To be honest, family and friends have actually used the terms “bullheaded”, “tenacious”, and, er… “damn hard to sway about anything” to describe me, though I’m sure they meant that in the best possible way! I take it as a compliment, and my peers and leadership at work certainly value my “sticktoitiveness.”

naturedance: (LOPSA)
I won't be attending this one, but I did want to spread the word:

At the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. It starts at noon on Monday, October 22, and goes 'til 6pm on Tuesday October 23. Sounds quite nifty!
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
I typed some of this up as a response to a post by [ profile] armchairgamer last weekend, but I wanted to post it here as well, along with some other links... this is a followup to my earlier post here about the current state of our country...

I trust Howard Dean, and the Democracy for America folks. -- they're working to put progressive clueful candidates in races nationwide, from the local to the national. That's how I first encountered Barack Obama, who's pretty amazing...

Habitat for Humanity is making a difference for good in the world...

Second Harvest is doing good work in the food bank area...

Which reminds me... the Caltech Y has a group of folks who volunteer at a local shelter here in Pasadena, cooking meals... they also do beach cleanups and such. Easy, local, make a difference stuff in the Pasadena area...

Mercy Corps is doing good things... some of my friends who dislike the Red Cross and/or the Salvation Army for various reasons give to them, and after doing a bit of research, I can see why...

Doctors Without Borders does good work...

Heifer International does, too... (plus it's just pretty cool to give a family a critter that allows them a better livelihood, you know? Critters are cool.)

There's also The ONE Campaign To Make Poverty History at

There are a set of six websites which I try to click buttons on every day... and and and and and
You can click buttons for free and goods/money/services are donated to those causes. Setting one as a default homepage in a browser reminds me to click each day... it's not just that it's a free way to help out, but it's also a conscious reminder that I'm part of the larger world and that I can make a difference in it when I sit down at the web. They also have affiliated stores...

That reminds me... about debt stuff... do you know how much your own credit card companies donate to the Republican Party each election cycle? What about the bank where you have your checking or savings account? I did some research on that last spring, got pretty angry/depressed, and realized I needed to make a significant effort to deal with my debts and my investments to make sure that megacorps weren't using my money or debt to advance their agendas which contradict mine.

Oh, and when I remember to, I check out where I'm spending my money to see if they are green or blue rather than red (and yeesh, color-coding sucks, but, hey...) I try to buy environmentally-conscious or Democrat-donating rather than Republican-donating:
And I just spotted another interesting place...

I get action alerts by email from these:
NARAL ProChoice America
Planned Parenthood
American Civil Liberties Union
NRDC BioGems
The Nature Conservancy
The Sequoia Natural History Association

I also signed up to get news emails from my elected officials a while back... the Congressional folks all have such mailing lists, linked off their official websites. I haven't yet done the same for the state representatives or local government stuff, but I probably should.

Do you read or I don't read them as much as I feel I should... I find that I get overwhelmed if I read them every day, but I can handle the smaller doses at Kit's Concatenation ( and two journals by the Plaid Adder: and

After seeing image after image online of poor black people struggling for survival, and sometimes not making it, in New Orleans, I couldn't help thinking about the United Negro College Fund and that also led me to the American Indian College Fund at I'm still looking for useful organizations for poor white folks and women to get help to pay for college.

V-Day has a press release with information about organizations assisting battered women in the Katrina disaster areas. From that page: "Following Hurricane Andrew in Miami, spousal abuse calls to the local community helpline increased by 50%. The Missouri floods of 1993 saw the average state turn-away rate at shelters rise 111% over the preceding year and an overall 400% increase in need for services." Numerous shelters in the gulf coast region need help to rebuild, and that press release has good links and info.

You can locate blood drives by US ZIP code at

And because I just want to link to pretty recycled and/or eco-conscious things right now... Natural Spaces looks like a really neat storefront.

Lately, I've replaced a couple halogen torchiere lamps with fancy fluorescent bulbs in nicer torchieres. I'd had a fluorescent torchiere once before, but the circular bulb just didn't have the brightness I needed in two rooms of my current place. But I found an uber-fluorescent bulb that works, and I'm thrilled with it. It'll save money on power bills, and it doesn't get as hot, and the light is bright enough. Yay! I use fluorescents wherever I can.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
I could describe this situation in greater detail to give you all more context, but I'm not sure that's the right thing to do right now.

In any case, here's the simplified summary: someone asked me a bit ago if I could suggest some books that could help men understand women. This is not the first time it has happened... I found myself asked to give bullet-point lists of things for men to remember about women at one point. I still shake my head at the memory of that conversation.

Anyway... two titles which came up in this most recent discussion were The Secret Garden (which is a lovely childrens book and I do love it, but doesn't really seem to me to teach anyone anything about women) and Little Women (which I started to read twice and got bored of), and the magazine Cosmo.

I was so flabbergasted right at that moment (in my worldview men and women are more similar than different, after all, and all intelligent people have been thinking for years about the inequalities in our culture between the genders -- and, yes, rationally I do realize that not everyone is like me about these topics but on some gut level it always shocks me to see it in person) that the only thing I could think of off the top of my head was to suggest that watching Absolutely Fabulous might a good quick way to see the logical conclusion of the encouragements women get from consumer/fashion/makeup culture. Which is true, but not a great answer to the question.

Especially for men raising daughters, I hereby recommend the following books:

The Father's Almanac, ISBN 0385426259 (I also highly recommend the companion volume The Mother's Almanac)

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, ISBN 0345418786 (I also recommend Shelter of Each Other by the same author)

Smart Girls: A New Psychology of Girls, Women, and Giftedness, ISBN 091070726X (I highly recommend this book for gifted women of all ages, and those who wish to understand us, in all of our infinite variations)

Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, ISBN 1580050751 (don't let the title deter you, and be sure to check out the the resources section in the back of the book)

I also have a list of books my favorite books at

I also recommend Bitch Magazine (again, don't let the title deter you) and The Vagina Monologues, if you can't see them performed in person, watch the DVD.

Also, please check out and and feel free to surf over to the links on my page at

That reminds me... thanks to everyone who's taken the time to fill out the gender curiosities poll in this post.

Do you know of any other fabulous books that belong in this post? Please share.

(And for anyone who still says, "I don't understand [insert gender here]" here's my advice... find someone of that gender and listen to them. Don't assume, ask and listen. And remember, before we are any gender, we are all people.)
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
A book group I'm in recently read Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. I missed the group's in-person group discussion about the book, and in fact haven't finished reading it yet, but the followup discussions have had the net effect of smacking me on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper about gender issues.

This? Is my frustrated face. Grar.

When all else fails in an ongoing attempt to understand human behavior... try a creating a LiveJournal poll, right? *sigh*

random questions )
naturedance: Caltech GeoChem BS, former ITS staffer, and member of Blacker Hovse (techer geek)
This coming Saturday I will be volunteering as part of the Sally Ride Science Festival here on campus.

They happen all over the country. They're only one component of the cool stuff done by Sally Ride Science.

*big happy grin*
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
Every time one of these messages lands in my inbox, I think about making this LJ entry, and now I'm just going to step up and do it.

The following email was forwarded to me this week, but it's similar to a lot of other internet humor I sometimes get... and always, the emails with these sorts of things are from my heterosexual female acquaintances in Republican areas of the country.

I do not understand the culture which creates and perpetuates this sort of humor.

Fwd: FW: The Funeral Procession )

I know plenty of heterosexual and bisexual women who do not feel this way about the men in their lives, their fathers, husbands, sons, friends. I know plenty of bisexual and lesbian women who do not feel this sort of hatred/disdain/distaste for their fathers, brothers, friends.

Want other examples?

How about We all have a purpose in life. Her job is to bitch, mine is to give her a reason.

Or how about True bravery is arriving home late after a men's night out, being assaulted by your wife with a broom, and still having the guts to ask, "Are you cleaning, or are you flying somewhere?"

Still doubt me? This one landed in my inbox last spring:
FW: CIA Opening )

And yes, all four of these were forwarded to me by women.

Why do women persist in perpetuating this sort of crap about other women and about men? And why would men or women want to be around women who see themselves or others in this way?

Why would anyone want to be in a situation where they find themselves bitching constantly, and with an irresponsible, inconsiderate partner who deserves to be bitched at constantly... who revels in being irresponsible and inconsiderate? And... why would anyone find this stuff humorous?

No, I'm not looking for an answer. I just had to state publically that I am baffled by this crap.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Howard Dean)
I seem to be having odd dreams, and waking up unrefreshed. I'm not sure if this is because of the sinus meds I'm taking, or stress, or just sheer randomness. In any case, I'm not feeling rested.

My cat is doing better thanks to the insulin shots I'm giving her morning and night. She's more active, and just perkier, but she's still passing a lot of water through her system, so I suspect we need to increase the dosage. I need to take her back into the vet early tomorrow morning to have her glucose levels tested again.

There's ten tons of political stuff going on, as the election looms. It's stressful.

The deadline to register to vote for the November 2 election in California is October 18, 2004. More information from the CA Secretary of State:
Voter Registration Information
Voter Information
Election and Voter Information
The Official Voter Information Guide (Principal and Supplemental) for the CA November 2, 2004 Election

Cripes, I need to read up on all of those propositions. There's all sorts of important stuff going on.

League of Women Voters
LWV's site for Election 2004: Candidates and Information lets you type in your zip code for information about you specific candidates and ballot measures.

Yes, I'm aware of media spin and megacorps and all sorts of misinformation, propaganda and bullshit. Voting may not make as much difference as it should. But every citizen's voice is important. Voting, for me, is more than a right. It's a civic duty, a responsibility and an honor to cast my ballot now for me, and for those who came before, and for those who will come after.

Do you feel empowered yet? Feel like standing up and making your voice heard? Or do you need more inspiration?
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
I've been having a low-level headache for the past few days, and I'd thought I was coming down with something, specifically a sinus infection or something causing one, but now I'm more convinced it's "just" allergies, since a tablet of Tylenol Allergy/Sinus helped cut the headache last night after my usual heat pack and hot steamy shower didn't help the day before. So I went ahead and started a full dosage of Claritin this morning.

Let me state for those of you who don't know this about me that most meds hit me like a ton of bricks. Falling from a very great height. No, I'm really serious. Even though I'm pretty much average height and weight, though slightly small-boned, meds seem to affect me in weird ways and more strongly than most people in most cases.

Most allergy meds, at full strength, either make me jumpy and hyper, or jumpy and sleepy, or just sleepy. To the tune of sleeping for a day and a half kind of sleepy. "Daytime non-drowsy formula", my fanny. I end up chopping a lot of pills in half before I take them. Considering how muzzy I feel just at the moment, I probably should have started myself on a half-tablet of the Claritin this morning, but at least my skull doesn't feel quite so pressurized now.

I think I'll find some nice webpages to work on rather than trying to do anything that requires root access on the Unix servers. :-)

*pause to blow nose* Which reminds me, I need to stop at the store on my way home and buy more Kleenex.

Once I've been on the dosage of Claritin for a few days, I'll be OK. It's just going onto it that's such a speed bump for my system. And Claritin is the one that affects me the least while still mostly solving the allergy problem. Stuff and bother.

*mental gear shift*

I love my Sentra. That little car (and the near-identical one I had before it which got smushed back in fall 1997 when I was trying to turn in to the DMV parking lot and a big SUV' driver behind me was on his cell phone) has been just wonderful. Good gas mileage, comfy seats, very dependable, fairly affordable parts and maintenance since I go to Taijohn Auto in Alhambra (I can't recommend him enough, he's an angel and a wizard disguised as a mechanic)... and if I didn't know better I'd say that it can haul things bigger than itself inside itself.

Really, I've fit more crap into this car at various points... last evening it was three bakers/garden rack shelfey thingies from OSH. Another customer bought one, and she and her husband and their daughter had to leave it sticking halfway diagonally out of the trunk of their big 'ol Grand Marquis. I wonder how many miles to the gallon such behemoth beasts get? Heh. Heh heh. But when I pulled my li'l Sentra up to pick up the racks the Roommate and I bought (two rectangular ones and one quarter-circle), I just popped the back seats down and the boxes slid right into the trunk/back seat. Perfect fit.

We managed to get them unloaded and up to the apartment with only my one slightly-dented knuckle as casualties, and they're just perfect for where we wanted them.

I love my car.

And also I love the office foldy cart thingie we bought when we first moved in to get heavy stuff up from the underground parking and across to our place. It did come in handy again last evening. See? Woman the Tool User!

Oh, and I love my Makita. A modern independent lady should never be without a powerful cordless drill. Especially living in a earthquake-prone area where one should secure tall bookshelves and such. :-)

A few random links from my flist:
[ profile] src points out a post by an animal shelter/rescuer with some hard truths about pets. Also, a collection of posts and communities which could be collectively called Ways To Survive This Sucky Economy.

[ profile] fusion_reaction links to an update about the situation from Wired.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
But for now, I'd just like to point anyone reading this to go read these entries over at Fusion Reaction.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
Unpacking the dusty dishes yesterday gave me a bit of a headache this morning. Bleurgh. Other than that, I'm doing OK. Glad I got an iced coffee this morning, though.

Yesterday afternoon and evening were good. We found the dining room table in time to have sushi for dinner, and spent some time going through my ridiculously overflowing fabric stash.

It feels good to be simplifying some of my life... I've taken three or four carloads of excess stuff to Salvation Army over the past weeks. I'm usually very easy on my belongings, and I have so many interests... I accumulate a lot of stuff because it lasts and seems like it would be useful to have, but it's gotten to the point that I was more than a bit weighed down by it all. Someone will get some use out of the things I've given away, I'm sure. And I've still got a bit of optimization to do in the bedroom before I'll be satisfied with the shelves and tubs there, but it's progress.

Stuff still to do at the new place:
- finish organizing bedroom shelves and tubs
- get a wrapping paper box which actually will fit under my bed, rather than the one which is two inches too tall to do so
- secure the tall bookshelves
- secure the ethernet cable
- give away and/or recycle the collapsed boxes from the move, so we can reclaim our balcony
- hang up the art prints and sit out the random artsy objects
- hang the pressure rod across the washer/dryer closet doorway
- go through the file boxes and give the shredder a workout (why do I still have phone bills from 1993?)
- sort, put away, file and/or shred the contents of the three boxes and one laundry basket of fairly-recent paper-clutter labelled "sort me!"
- build our container garden on the balcony

Oh, [ profile] fusion_reaction has links to women's issues in the news today, and Parenthetically Speaking has news from yesterday about Diebold voting machines being decertified in California. I'm also heartened that concerns are being voiced back in Indiana and other places as well. Sheesh. How very fragile is our democracy that a couple very powerful companies can decide whose vote is counted and whose isn't, and who finds out about the process? I hate megacorps.

Ah, well, the coffee's kicked in, so I'm back to work. Whee!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bountiful harvest)
I'm exhausted. Moving is just darned tiring. But 95% of my things are at the new place thanks to Big Burly Guys With A Huge Truck and a couple car trips for the really fragile items and/or security-sensitive papers. Yes, this includes the cat and the aquarium (and the orange mollies in it), all of which are still getting used to their new digs. My problematical sinuses are recovering from all of the dust kicked up at the old apartment and from the boxes... Friday was miserable, sneezy and headachey.

I'm catching up on my work email from Friday afternoon and waiting for the chai tea to kick in before I do anything requiring admin access to the servers, because while I'm awake enough to drive, all of the packing and shifting boxes around and unpacking has made my hands rather sore and uncoordinated this morning, so I want to type rather more deliberately before pressing [enter], you know?

Mmmm, chai.

I was listening to KNX 1070 this morning for traffic reports (for the record, leaving Burbank at 8:20am via the 5 and then the 134 to Pasadena got me to campus by 8:45am this morning, with only two blurbs of slowing: right after getting on the 5 and as the 5/134 interchange merges into the 134 in the left lanes). They had a little mini-report about how single women have the most trouble of any demographic saving for retirement.

As I usually say to "news"... DUH.

Let me break this down a bit, for anyone who's missed this sort of information: 1) On average, women make less money than men. 2) On average, women live longer than men. 3) Being single is one of the most ineconomical of the possible lifestyle choices, especially if you live alone. I'm not even going to go into issues of single parenting... the first three items alone make for pretty simple math. Women are also less likely to have pensions, and more likely to develop chronic (and expensive) medical conditions during our longer old age.

The radio station interviewed a woman from the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement. Their website is and it has information and strategies. Of course, everything has to be shortened for radio, so she gave the URL and said (I'm paraphrasing), be aware of retirement issues early, and get rid of debt.

That's good advice for anyone.

Looking at their main page, where the top five reasons women have such trouble saving for retirement are listed... I have to say I'm thankful for my life. I have a good college degree (which is nearly paid for), I have a good job (which I'm going to get back to now that the caffeine and sugar from my chai tea is kicking in -- yes, it has milk too and at least that's good for me), I have a retirement plan and thanks to my recent move into a great apartment with a fabulous roommate, I'm getting even more control over my budget, my finances and my financial planning.

Yeah, it's a good day. Back to work!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
OK, let me preface this with a little insight about me... I hate basketball. I hate playing it (in addition to having absolutely no aptitude), I hate watching it, I hate talking about it... and I grew up in Indiana in the '80s. That's the Hoosier state, where and when Bobby Knight reigned supreme and Could Do No Wrong, and where there were basketball hoops on every driveway... well, except ours.

Yeah. That was lot of fun, I can assure you.

That said, I caught part of a WNBA game at a seafood bar last weekend, and found myself drawn in. It was interesting. I actually cared whether or not the ball went through the blasted hoop, actually found myself rooting for the players, no matter which team they were on, and actually laughed out loud when one of the players did a lovely nothing-but-air shot and her teammates congratulated her.

And a friend just sent me this link. Whoa. That's cool. I think I just might not hate basketball, if I could watch someone like Candace Parker play.

naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (spring valley)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
-- Margaret Mead

34 Million Friends of UNFPA Campaign
About UNFPA: the United Nations Population Fund

Note that I do not advocate sending emailed chain letters about this or any other issue. However, letting your friends know the URL to get complete information about the entire situation is a great idea.

From the 34 Million Friends very informative FAQ webpage:

In July 2002, the U.S. Administration announced its decision to withhold $34 million - that had previously been appropriated by Congress to UNFPA - based on false claims that the Fund supports coercive abortion in China. The decision was taken despite recommendations made by a State Department fact-finding team to release the funds. The State Department team investigated UNFPA-supported projects in China and submitted a report in May stating, “based on what we heard, saw, and read, we find no evidence that UNFPA has knowingly supported or participated in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization in the PRC [People’s Republic of China]. Indeed, UNFPA has registered its strong opposition to such practices.”

UNFPA has publicly stated that it has never, and will never, be involved in coercion in China or any part of the world. The Fund is a staunch supporter, and promoter, of the human rights-based approach to family planning.

In a nutshell, the 34 Million Friends Campaign seeks to replace that 34 million dollars via private donations, one dollar at a time if need be. They've already reached their first million dollar milestone. And a buck or two is less than the cost of a latte these days.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Two mirrors of the same article:
here and here. Go read.

This woman is the essence of coolness.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
I'm a science geek. I've always been a science geek, and the heroes of my childhood are the women of NASA's astronaut program. My parents kept me home from school for a partial day so that I could watch the first launch of Columbia back in 1981. My parents had posters from the moon landings, a moon globe... I had two little die-cast shuttles, I remember that one of them had openable payload bay doors. I had the Lego Moon Lander, and a bunch of the Lego space sets... the little red Lego people were pilots and drivers, the white Lego people were mission specialists, and the yellow Lego people were mission commanders. I had a few whole space programs developed to explore various places in the house. And yes, I was also a Star Wars and Star Trek geek, but that's a whole 'nother topic.

Young people today (and some older ones, probably) don't realize what the space shuttle program meant to folks like me. The manned space program had pretty much stagnated since 1971, starved for funding and recognition. Columbia was a gleaming symbol of our hope for ourselves and our world. It was step along the way to our collective brighter future. It meant a return to the path of innovation and discovery and exploration which had previously slipped into disrepair and drifted from the willful focus of the American people, and our government, since the moon landing goal had been reached.

For many in this modern world, scientific discovery is our quest, our challenge, the highest calling we can imagine. Space is the greatest unknown that captures our imagination, because while medicine and sub-atomic physics are incredible, no one can travel those frontiers, we can only observe them. Those who choose to risk their lives toward this purpose have our utmost respect and thanks, and some envy... their dedication and daring and qualification for such elite jobs sanctifies them on some level deep in our psyche. If scientific endeavor is our faith, then researchers, scientists and astronauts are our shamans, our priests, our wisewomen, our saints... and some become our martyrs.

For women and girls, the fact that the shuttle program had the United States' first group of female astronauts in training to reach for the heavens was such a significant milestone... the first woman to undergo the same testing as the Mercury astronauts, Jerrie Cobb, passed with flying colors back around 1960, but the program was not opened to women until 1978.

I was born in 1973, and yet I remember clearly when the first women were accepted into the program. I have vivid memories of my childhood back to younger than age two, in case you're disbelieving me at this point...

If you are unfamiliar with the progression that women have made, check out this page and this page (there's another mirror with similar content here). The profile stories are very inspiring.

There for a while, I followed every launch, every mission payload, every astronaut's life story. I had photos of the first women to complete the astronaut program hanging on the wall of my room, encouraging me to reach for my own type of excellence, whatever it might turn out to be.

Part of the reason that the loss of Challenger was so hard on me was that it was the ship that carried Sally Ride into space for the first time. The loss of Columbia, the ship that revitalized our space program, that hosted Peterson and Musgrave's first spacewalks... it has hit me hard, especially during a time when I have been trying to accomplish a lot of lofty goals with little resources at my workplace.

It is a tragedy to lose seven of the world's best and brightest, and my heart goes out to their families and loved ones, as well as the large behind-the-scenes teams on the ground who are grieving. It is a tragedy that some of the science experiments on board Columbia cannot be completed. It is a tragedy that the delay caused by grounding the remaining three shuttles (Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour) will further impact the already-stressed International Space Station program.

But more than that, it is a tragedy that it takes a disaster to bring our space program to nationwide attention.

It is a cold fear wrapped around my heart that Congress may try to further cut funding to the space program. Beyond the technical advances of both manned and unmanned space flight, our space program is a symbol of hope for the future and a celebration of our country. I'll be writing my representatives in Washington, D.C., to that effect, and I urge you to do the same.

Columbia flew its first mission in 1981, and though it's been overhauled, it's basically reconditioned 1970's technology. We owe ourselves more than that. We owe our dreams more than that. And we owe the smart, hard-working folks at NASA more than that.

This article says that it costs $435 million for each shuttle flight, and that there are 1.2 million separate procedures required to prepare a shuttle for launch. What we are attempting with the space program has a huge scope, and the shuttle program was supposed to be merely a step, not the final effort.

Feel free to use these icons wherever you like.

I am so thankful to have lived now, when we have a space program. I am so thankful to have had real live heroes when I was a child. What heroes will today's children look to for inspiration in the coming decades?

Without our dreams, without our heroes, without our inspirations, will we fail to solve the more earthbound problems facing our world, which are no less important than reaching for the stars? Hunger, violence, intolerance, inequality of opportunity and education... these are problems with solutions, but only if we have the spirit, the intellect, and the intestinal fortitude to deal with them.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
Still sits the school-house by the road,
  A ragged beggar sunning;
Around it still the sumachs grow,
  And blackberry vines are running.

Within, the master's desk is seen,
  Deep-scarred by raps official;
The warping floor, the battered seats,
  The jack-knife's carved initial;

The charcoal frescoes on its wall;
  Its door's worn sill, betraying
The feet that, creeping slow to school,
  Went storming out to playing!

Long years ago a winter sun
  Shone over it at setting;
Lit up its western window-panes,
  And low eaves' icy fretting.

It touched the tangled golden curls,
  And brown eyes full of grieving,
Of one who still her steps delayed
  When all the school were leaving.

For near it stood the little boy
  Her childish favor singled;
His cap pulled low upon a face
  Where pride and shame were mingled.

Pushing with restless feet the snow
  To right and left, he lingered; ---
As restlessly her tiny hands
  The blue-checked apron fingered.

He saw her lift her eyes; he felt
  The soft hand's light caressing,
And heard the tremble of her voice,
  As if a fault confessing.

"I'm sorry that I spelt the word:
  I hate to go above you,
Because,"-- the brown eyes lower fell, --
  "Because, you see, I love you!"

Still memory to a gray-haired man
  That sweet child-face is showing.
Dear girl! the grasses on her grave
  Have forty years been growing!

He lives to learn, in life's hard school,
  How few who pass above him
Lament their triumph and his loss,
  Like her, -- because they love him.

This was another of my favorite poems growing up. I had a small book of Whittier's poetry, and this was one of the shorter poems included. For the longest time I had it memorized, and I remember most of it even now.

I also often thought about the fact that it's a little girl who is apologizing for doing better than the boy. Neither should feel that they need to apologize for doing well... lamenting hard-earned triumphs should not be necessary, for anyone. Lamenting the friends' losses, however, is something many adults, both men and women, have had to stop doing in our modern everyone-for-themselves competitive society. Why is it necessary for one to lose for the other to win, when often cooperation can make things better for everyone? Interesting concepts to think about...
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Susan B. Anthony. Lucretia Mott. Carrie Chapman Catt. A whole, whole lot of other women and men. By whose efforts I have the right and privilege of deciphering a sample ballot which is more than 100 pages long to vote in the elections tomorrow... here in California, the land of sunshine, citrus, Propositions and Ballot Measures.

Consider the numbers:

The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified August 26, 1920, though its wording was unchanged from the version of the Woman Suffrage Amendment which was introduced in the United States Congress in 1878.

It took 144 years from the Declaration of Independence for our country to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. US women have only had the right to vote for 82 years.

Most of the women who crusaded actively in the Suffrage Movement in order to reach the Amendment's introduction to Congress in 1878 did not live to see it ratified, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Their life's work was not finished in their lifetime.

I'm going to spend the evening with my sample ballot, my voter information booklet, all of the flyers that have come in the mail, and my connection to the internet for additional research... researching how I feel about the issues about which I have the right and duty to cast my vote.

Thank you, crusaders and gentlewomen and rabble-rousers and quietly determined workers. We wouldn't be here without you.

February 2017

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