Posted in kids, z personal

Closing the US Gender Gap in STEM

SUPER inspired on my way to work listening to this story this morning. I was a casualty of the misogyny of university level Engineering/Computer Science – quit both degree paths after being exhausted dealing with my peers and teachers. My nerd powers were just not strong enough for the non-stop eye rolls, loud sighs and general exclusion I experienced. So good to hear some avoided or plowed through it and are still fighting the good fight.

It’s worth noting, though, that women approach things different not because of biological reasons, but because of societal, especially in the examples given in this story. Other cultures without our weird gender divisions do not have the same issues. So try to qualify statements of “women do it this way/men do it that way” with a quick “in our society” before/after (even if it’s just in your head).

How One College Is Closing The Computer Science Gender Gap

Adorable. AND Inspiring. Harvey Mudd President Maria Klawe
Posted in traveling, z personal

Weddings! Nature! There’s life outside of work!

I am not the best at posting things of late.  Give me break!  It’s been mildly consistent for over 6 years!

The long and short of it is that life happened.  Big time.  This cool guy Kelty said he wanted to marry me.  I said yes. (That journey’s a feminist memoir in itself that I will gladly tell whomever would like to share a nice bottle of vinho verde or malbec sometime).

Then we did a roadtrip to bring my car to Utah, I looked at tons of amazeballs Chicago venues and went to a friend’s wedding as well.  Oh, and we managed to get my soon-to-be-stepkids (!!!) on their first camping trip (to Moab! the lucky ducks!)

I have been a deliriously happy workaholic for years now, bouncing from project to project, conference to conference, country to country, with not a plan to stop.  Having a stupid happy off-hours life now as well is taking some getting used to – kinda like getting ANOTHER latte when the large one you just had, had caffeinated you just fine.  But I am doing well adjusting, I think.  Time will tell, but the extreme way that life dumps either good or bad things on me seems to be evening out.  (a gal can hope, right!?)

Long winded way of saying I am still here and I ain’t going anywhere.  I am still going to live this life harder than most of my peers.  I am just being forced to round out some of my rougher edges.  And, apparently, I will retain my awesomeness, so good deal. 😉

Posted in kids, television, z personal

Stop it, Rihanna

Hi, My name is Joi and I’m a pop culture addict.  I have been one for most of my life.  In fact, I can’t remember a time when pop culture wasn’t important to me.  One of the more embarrassing areas of my addiction is pop music.  I am obsessed with it. I know all the words, the back stories to most songs and much of the gossip that was woven in with the releases.

Tangentially, I consider myself a progressive, probably more so than most.  I really don’t care what you do in your house, your bedroom, etc.  Try not to hurt anyone without their consent. This is, of course, with the caveat that the persons participating are A.) Adults and B.) Capable of granting consent without coercion.   And while I don’t care what you are doing behind closed doors, I would prefer if you just kept it to yourself.  I am happy you are happy being an exhibitionist, just please don’t do it around me.

So, given all of the above, I have a huge problem with many pop artists of late and their disregard for the public space and their audience demographics.  The airwaves, specifically, are supposed to be family friendly space.  Why do we bleep curse words, but not content that talks about abuse?  How does that work?

Some examples?  Eminem talk about tying a girl to a bed and lighting the house on fire.   Rihanna’s new song S&M has tons of explicit descriptions of pain/fetish play, and she has an older song about Russian Roulette.  Bruno Mars has songs about being bored and choosing marriage for the evening, and another that describes multiple ways he would kill himself in order to prevent the object of his affection from leaving.  And just pick randomly from the Brittney Spears catalog lately – threesomes seem to be one of her favorite topics, but who can forget Hit Me Baby and Slave for You, among others.

Eminem is a difficult example, as he would never posit himself as targeting a younger audience.  But Rihanna, Brittney and Bruno Mars – they are clearly targeting the tweenie boppers and their song lyrics are insanely inappropriate.  I don’t expect their music to be all Pollyanna, but you cannot have your cake and eat it too (altho, I DO hate that cliche – why CAN’T you eat your cake that you have?).  You shouldn’t market yourself and stylize yourself for a younger audience, cashing in on their lucrative wallets, and then pretend that your music is not intended for their ears.  Or at least not be flabbergasted when someone calls you out on it.

Yeah yeah, I hear what you are thinking, that innuendo has been part of songs forever.  I agree and I think it is fine.  My problem is that we have left innuendo land and are now knee-deep in explicit description land.  What happened to nuance, metaphor, allusion, subtlety?

Those of you who know me offline know that I am far from a prude.  But I know how to separate my worlds and how to draw lines for appropriate behavior.  why is it so hard for millionaire pop stars with a gaggle of handlers?

I have been a children’s content producer for years.  We have an ethical responsibility to our audience.  In the online world, we have tons of watchdog organizations making sure we stay on the straight and narrow in the ethics arena.  It is fair for me to bring this up.

Will I change it? – uh, probably not.  Do I sound like a geiser screaming for the kids to get off the lawn? – kinda.  But if you can’t rant on your blog, gosh darn it, where can you!

Posted in z personal

What I’m thankful for

Last year around this time, my life was a bit complicated, so I sat down and thought about what I was thankful for.  Yeah, cliche, but it helped me a great deal.  So I decided to do it again this year.  It’s a shame I only force myself to think about what I am thankful for in an organized fashion once a year.  Kinda like how I formally review my goals at the beginning of the year.  Well at least both happen regularly.  Maybe I will add to my goal list to increase the frequency… Regardless, here are my publicly sharable list of thankful things for right now (feel free to not read, gets a bit sappy):

– My family – they are numerous and crazy, mostly don’t share my world view, don’t appreciate good restaurants and live in the suburbs.  But they are so amazing and I am totally head over heels in love with all of them, so much that I can overlook political, religious, ideological and all other difference (as much as possible).

– My siblings – holy crap, they are great.  I am the oldest of 5, all of us with completely different personalities.  But we are all so close and there for each other through good and bad, no matter what.

– My parents – I love the relationship we have as adults.  They love me as much as I love them and I am so happy.

– My new nephew – OMG, he is amazing.  I understand that others have felt this before and now I understand.  He is so cool and cute and great.  Not sure on the smarts yet, but I am gonna go out on a limb and say he will be brilliant.  I love being an aunt and can’t wait for my siblings to reproduce more.

– My dog – Linus is the best dog.  Many agree with me. I am so glad he travels well, because this gypsy lifestyle would suck without him.

– My friends – As a professional networker by habit, I know a great deal of people.  But the people I choose to call “my friends” are really the cream of the crop.  I have “crews” in the different cities I travel to, some of them vacation buddies, some of the them weekend dinner friends, some of them baby mommas/daddies that I steal time with when our schedules permit.  But I am truly thankful for each and every of them and glad they are in my life.

– My job – I love National Geographic Animal Jam.  I love Smart Bomb.  I love Salt Lake and DC.  I love my team.  I feel very lucky to be able to work with them each day and do the cool work we do.  We rock and the kids are starting to realize that too.

– My industry – I heart all you folks.  You are all so passionate about kids and their happiness and safety.  We fight the good fight (and sometimes the bad fights and nasty fights) but we keep our heads up and focused on the light at the enbd of the tunnel.

– My drive/ambition – Yeah, it’s huge and scares even me.  But it has brought me so much over the years that even though I am getting tired lately, I keep going.

Cool, that’s a happy list.  File it away til next year… 🙂

Posted in trends, z personal

My fav holiday tasks

I have had a crazy year, especially within the past couple months and I wasn’t really feeling up to decorating and embracing the holidays like I usually do.  My other Holiday fanatic friends were appalled and ganged up on me a bit.  Their peer pressure convinced me that I should rally and get in the spirit.

So I did.  Tree is up (almost done resting and ready to be trimmed) and the house is decorated.  I have already finished a quart of nog this month and I am thinking of what Christmas baking I will do for what party.  Mission accomplished, friends.

So in that vein, I thought I would share my favorite Holiday tasks that I do to get in the spirit.

1. Xmas Movies – Haven’t watched any yet this season, but just thinking of them makes me smile

  • Elf – I LOVE THIS MOVIE.  I get giddy thinking about it.
  • Scrooged – I know this is a bit sacrilege to say, but Bill Murray’s Scrooge is the only way I can consume this classic, the story has gotten old for me otherwise.
  • Christmas Story – One of my all time favorites.  Sweet yet mildly dark in it’s story.  This story, in contrast to Dickens’, never gets old for me.
  • Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer – “I want to be a Dentist” and the island of misfit toys makes this my favorite Berl Ives classic
  • Frosty the Snowman – Not my #1 Ives animation, but up there.
  • As a side note: I did a search on Twitter the other day and accidentally found TONS of people lamenting and rejoicing in the sappy Christmas movies on Lifetime and Hallmark Channels 🙂

2. Xmas Music – I love it.  I prefer cheesy, funny, silly or fun takes on traditional.  And the more obscure the better.  My friends Tom Deja and Theo each always make great mixes. And I have been exploring Pandora’s Christmas mixing abilities (try asking for an Ella Fitzgerald Christmas tune – hours of goodness will follow)

2. The lights “Downtown” – I think this is universal to all “Downtowns,” nowadays, but the lights on the major street(s) (I am partial to my Chi-town) during the season are so pretty, especially with a new snow on a milder evening.

3. Holiday Parties – I know they stress people out, but I love them.  Probably because I rarely throw them.  Love getting together with different friends groups and all my crazy family members. Especially love the traditional foods and treats I get to have only this time each year.

4. My Holiday decorations – I inherited half of mine from my mother, when she decided to class up her decorations, so, like most of my aesthetic, I have a hodge-podge of old and new, gaudy and pretty, decorations throughout my house.  The best:

  • Hand crocheted stockings made by my late grandmother
  • 30+ years worth of hand made cartoon character wood ornaments from my grandfather and cross stitched ones from my mother.
  • Not one, but two, 4-foot long latch hook rugs. One by my mom from the 70’s and one by me that took 7 years to finish.
  • An altar’s worth of snowman figurines
  • An obnoxious monster toy that sings Mahna Mahna when you press his foot.

🙂 Happy, Merry, and all that jazz to everyone. 🙂

Posted in online community, z friends

Just Be Cool (Netiquette 101)

Had a bit of a family flame war on Facebook today.  Oh, n00bs… So I wrote this letter to my FB friends, old and new alike.  Thought I would share it on here too.

I have been an internet nerd for over a decade now and I am excited to see such an influx of those who “aren’t good at computers” joining the connected world.

As a online community person, I know that there is a trajectory that a user goes through, no matter their age, as they are introduced, learn and soon, master this brave new world.

I wanted to take this chance to remind my newbie FB “Friends,” as you climb higher up the ladder of knowledge about these new playgrounds, there are somethings you might take for granted or forget in your haste to assimilate into this new environment:

  • Take control and use your blocking and filtering tools. If you don’t like something, almost every site (including FB) has tools to help you not see those things – and you can always leave too.
  • FB has very few content rules, meaning anyone can post whatever they like – esoteric, prolific, insane, benign, professional, inspirational, etc – it’s the beauty and drawback of social media.
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe they WEREN’T mocking you.  Maybe YOU read it wrong.  Usually, it is text, after all.  you don’t have the benefit of body language or tone to help you out.
  • You can liken it to a playground for kids – Just because you want to play a fairy tale princess game on the jungle gym, doesn’t mean everyone else does. There are also: kids who want to play tag, kids who want to read, kids who want to kiss up to the teachers, kids who want to tell dirty jokes…
  • Don’t be a hater – there are too many of those already in the world online and off. And noone likes them. Anywhere.
  • The internet is a relatively public forum. Social networks are a bit more walled, but they are just the same. If you wouldn’t rip on your nephew at the summer bbq, in front of the whole family, don’t do it online. Online is almost worse as it’s now documented.

So, my newbie friends, if it feels like I am giving you a lesson that I would an 8 year old, it’s kind of because I am.

You are new here in this digital space and we will have patience with you while you learn the ropes. But don’t use up your newbie cards to soon, because the internet is like the real world and people will just stop dealing with you here too.

Now if you can’t manage the offline space either…