When I was little, my playmates were captives

When I was little, my playmates were captives

When I was very little, my playmates were captives: wild ducklings forced into captivity. My father would go to the “sewer ponds” on the Navy based where we lived, where there were nesting ducks. My dad caught the babies and brought them home, to keep as pets. Don’t ask. I can’t explain.

We had a little round metal walled kiddy pool in our backyard that was supposed to be for me. But my parents would fill it with water, prop a board against it to make a ramp, and let the ducks swim around in it. I don’t know how the ducks knew to walk up the ramp. Maybe we chased them over to it. I remember chasing the ducks around the yard a lot. Maybe sometimes it was for a good reason, like to help them go swimming. Mostly it was that I wanted to catch one. I really had no morals or empathy at that age.

Once in the pool, they made happy duck sounds. A little muttering quak-quak quak-quak. But then I’d get jealous because this was supposed to be my pool. And I’d chase the ducks out and dump out the water, which is now full of duck poop. I think that was part of their happiness. Letting poop free.

Sometimes my parents would hose out the pool, other times, when they didn’t feel like it, I had to hose out the pool myself. I have no idea how thorough any of us were in our kiddy pool hygiene. But once the pool was “rinsed,” they or I would fill it up again with freezing cold water from the hose, and it was my turn to go swimming.

Sometimes the victory over the ducks was hollow, and I only stayed in the pool for a minute or two before losing interest. Then I’d get out and chase the ducks around the backyard some more.

Really. I have no idea.

Please support Wendy Davis for Governor of Texas!

Please support Wendy Davis for Governor of Texas!

Wendy Davis has taken on a major challenge: running for governor in a red state. But our previous sheriff ran our state into the ground. It’s hard to go lower on the ladder of progress and enlightenment without digging.

Wendy Davis will help Texas climb back up the ladder and return pride and dignity to citizen of Texas. We need to fully fund public education, provide healthcare to our citizens, improve our infrastructure, and so so SO much more.

Consider donating to her campaign. Her opponent has a $25 million war chest that he can use to defame Wendy. She doesn’t have a war chest of her own, yet, and needs money to fight back and share her vision with Texas voters.

Electing Wendy would be historic and a victory for the poor, uninsured, people of color, and women in Texas. We need this victory to bring dignity back to Texans.

Here is where you can donate. I already have…several times. And I’ll donate more as time goes on. Stand with Wendy. Let her know she’s got your back.

Blog Money Bomb for Wendy Davis

 

Sit on your ass and write! But be nice to yourself while you’re at it.

Sit on your ass and write! But be nice to yourself while you’re at it.

Writer’s block has hounded me for years. Writing this blog is one attempt to break it by putting myself under pressure to write something regularly.

This article from Rookie magazine on working artists and how they deal with writer’s block is cool. It’s reassuring that the thoughts, feeling, spiral of blame, etc. that I feel are not unique to me because I’m a big failure. It’s an unfortunate part of the creative process. It’s how you deal with it that determines whether you move forward or stay stuck.

Another nice thing about this article is that there are many ways established artists deal with writer’s block, anywhere from “be kind to yourself” to “sit on your ass and write.” So we have the freedom to pick the method that works for us. I guess I need a little “be kind” mixed with “just write, dammit.”

Writing about someone else’s article on writer’s block isn’t really writing is it?

Why my daughter takes pictures of baby animals to her algebra tests

Why my daughter takes pictures of baby animals to her algebra tests

A while back, I read about a study conducted by Japanese researchers that demonstrated viewing cute pictures of baby animals makes us more productive at work.

It was reported in The Atlantic, so it must be true.

So now, whenever my daughter has an algebra test that she’s worried about, she creates a page of cute baby animal pictures, prints it out, and takes it with her to her test.

She works through all the problems on her test, takes a break and quietly squeeee’s over the cute pictures, then goes back over all of her problems to make sure she didn’t make any mistakes. She says she always finds mistakes to correct.

Today, her algebra teacher caught her in the act and asked what she was doing. When my daughter told her teacher about the study, her teacher was delighted and said, “I need to hang up some pictures around my classroom.”

Something to think about, teachers!! Squeee for success!!

What’s With the Geek Girl Backlash

What’s With the Geek Girl Backlash

I like this article addressing the vitriol around some geek boy’s perceptions of geek girls and their legitimacy. Geekdom is certainly a big tent. There’s no one “right” way of being a proper geek. I think the original vitriol was spewed by someone who ultimately revealed his own personal issues. Like misogyny. But I’m not sure why his spew is still stinking. Except that it really struck a nerve, where once again women feel the need to explain their right to exist in a stereotypically male world. Anyway, I thought I’d pass this along. Peace and love, y’all!

The Myth of the Fake Geek Girl

Lunasa’s US Tour and a bit about the Stone Roses and a nod to Blur

Lunasa’s US Tour and a bit about the Stone Roses and a nod to Blur

You guys should totally go see Lunasa when they come to the US. They are from Ireland, are amazing and excellent musicians, and are dedicated to studying and reviving Celtic music of all stripes.

Tour dates here.

Why do bands I love always play in the country where I’m not? First The Stone Roses visit Singapore while I’m in the US. Now Lunasa in the US while I’m in Singapore. Ugh.

P.S. I just checked out The Stone Roses website and they are doing some gigs in the UK in June 2013. Maybe, when we move back to the US next June, we can arrange a stop in England? Maybe?

P.P.S. Oh, and the Blur reunion? Again, I’m on the wrong continent. Sigh.

Statistics and probability suck. But you kids! Learn it anyway.

Statistics and probability suck. But you kids! Learn it anyway.

Here’s What Happened

Last summer we left Singapore in June for a visit to the US.. At the airport we saw a friend of one of my sons, with his family and dog, moving back to the US. They happened to be on the same flight to Narita that we were. We chatted for a bit about their move and learned that they were moving to the DC area, out near Stirling, VA. We wished everyone well and the boys sadly said goodbye and promised to email each other.

Our family headed to California, then on an odyssey of the East Coast. Six weeks later we were ready to return to Singapore. The day before our flight we checked into a hotel out near Dulles, so that we could get up early the next day and fly back to Singapore.

As we were loading up our rental car to head to the airport, we saw the same family that we had seen on our flight out of Singapore six weeks earlier. They were staying at the same hotel we were while they waited for their sea shipment (with all of their household goods) to arrive from Singapore. I was stunned. What were the chances of running into this family again? Since we were late for the airport, we quickly chatted about how their move was progressing and again the boys had to say another sad farewell.

Here’s My Brain on Math

On the way to the airport I burst out, “Statistics and probability suck.”

The kids chimed in, “Yeah! Why do we have to learn that in school? It sucks.”

My husband quietly shushed me and whispered, “Don’t say that in front of the kids.” Then louder he said, “Statistics and probability give us a lot of information and allow us to make informed decisions.”

I replied, “Yeah, but what were the chances of us running into that family again six weeks later? And that we’d be staying at the same hotel? Like zero. It’s statistically impossible.”

My husband said, “No, it’s statistically improbable. That’s different.”

“Yeah, but in decision making, the statistically improbably gets ruled out as impossible.”

“True. But sometimes the improbable becomes what actually happens..”

“Yeah, how improbable is it that any of us are alive? What’s the probability that my parents’ DNA combined in the exact sequence that produced me? Statistically improbable. Yet every single one of us is statistically improbable. Yet here we all are. Billions of us. That’s a lot of improbability. Infinite improbability.”

My husband smiled. “Isn’t it great? And oh, by the way, I caught that Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference.”

“Congratulations. It’s because of the quantums. (That’s a Discworld reference by the way. It’s always impressive to touch on quantum physics in a conversation.) Anyway, why even calculate probability if so many things happen that are improbable? It leads to bad decision making because only the most probable is considered.”

“Bad decisions aren’t caused by math. People make bad decisions.”

“Like Katrina. The Corp didn’t build the levees properly because no Category 5 hurricane had hit New Orleans in forever and the probability of it happening was slim, so they used that information to save money and build crappy levees. This is how decisions are made. Bad decisions based merely on the most probable. So statistics and probability suck. ”

My kids are all, “Yeah!”

Then I turned to them and said, “But you’ll need it if you become doctors. So study it.”

My husband whispered, “I think you are giving them a mixed message.”

“Yes. Yes I am.”

My husband, “…”

“So how impossible is it that we saw those people at our hotel?”

“Improbable. But not impossible.”

“Nah, it’s magic. It’s the only logical explanation. Or God messing with us.”

“Um…”

“Science can’t prove His existence. And math can’t satisfy weird coincidences. What else could it be? Magic or God. It’s the only logical explanation.”

“Or that the statistically improbable is what actually occurs.”

“Or that. You kids! Listen to your dad. Learn math.”

“The new phone book’s here. The new phone book’s here!”

“The new phone book’s here. The new phone book’s here!”

Hey! My blog is indexed in Google. I feel like Steve Martin in “The Jerk.”

“The new phone book’s here. The new phone book’s here. This is the kind of spontaneous publicity I need. My name in print. That really makes somebody. Things are going to start happening to me now.”

You betcha!