Within smelling-distance of the ocean

After spending some time at the animal shelter a few weeks ago, Matthew and I walked along a path beside Elliot Bay. I grew up within smelling distance of the ocean. It’s not something people who grew up deep inland notice when visiting. But often when I walked down the stairs at SJC, I took a deep breath and, having smelled salt air, knew I was home.

Seattle is also near large bodies of both salt and brackish water. It’s got the Sound, a fjord carved by Alpine glaciers sliding into the sea. Then, on the other side of some lovely mountains, the Pacific. Seattle is further from the Pacific than the Bay Area is, but makes up for it by being a city of navigable water pathways.

Seattle is belted by a channel into Lake Union, that then flows out the top into Lake Washington on the right-hand of the city. With Lake Union as the jock-strap, the 2 channels hitch up the city’s hips. On the weekends are full of kayakers and sailers, as are the lakes. There is island living here; that week Mercer Island was struggling with 2 outbreaks of E. Coli in its on-island water supply. There are towns and cultures confined and defined by the islands they live in.

A moment of local controversy arose a bit ago around the ferry boat transportation director’s position. There’s something so fictional-sounding about a city that runs on ferries, sort of like reading about the internal political intricacies of the Witches’ Guild in Discworld.

But for all of the magical realism of a transportation system that includes ferries, Seattle also has the most important characteristic of a city within smelling distance of the ocean: a deep respect for nature, with her powers and rages. With sturdy andesite chunks holding the breakwater back, and AT-AT cranes a dozen or more stories tall, the port is a working one.

That Saturday evening we walked by a salmon catching area, where 2 local tribes are reseeding the salmon population from that found in the Sound.

At the end of our walk we found a park. It appeared to be a compromise between the Port and the City. There were gardens constructed out of driftwood, and another garden of ill-tended rose bushes. On it walked couples, biked the kind of serious people who wear lycra on a Saturday in October, all while the cries of gulls whooped overhead.

Just walking there was a connection to a nature I missed living far from the ocean these past years. It’s good to be back.

Inspirational Quote:

“The world, we are told, was made especially for man — a presumption not supported by all the facts.”
― John Muir, A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf

Images to get you through a mansplaining session

To the men in my life: this is not apropos of anything other than I discovered manfeels-park a few minutes ago and needs must share. If you do not know what mansplaining is, Google freely. This post is for people who have passed Feminism 202 or above, with optional courses in intersectionality, kyriarchy, media studies, gender-neutral pronouns, and humor.

To date, whenever I am in a conversation with someone who I can tell is about to explain the equivalence of an actual injustice and xir personal anecdote of inconvenience, I have turned my internal ear to the charming voice of the Birds Rights Activist Twitter account in this immortal tweet:

As of 10 minutes ago, I have another laugh-track image to muse upon until the person stops speaking and I can redirect the conversation back to the original topic/shimmy away in an obvious manner.

It is this lovely reimagining of a conversation between the Bennet sisters and two men of the regiment, this time in the context of an experience of street harassment. Go read it yourself in its entirety; this is the panel I will be thinking of:

Imagine the pain of men who legitimately enjoy public snake impressions?

As an aside, if you love Pride and Prejudice in all of its problematic glory, come and join me in watching the show in Seattle. A brilliant friend is working on it and it is sure to be a delight.

Inspirational Quote:

“Imagine the pain of men who legitimately enjoy public snake impressions!”–Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice (probably)

Inspirational Hand of the Week

This post is from a series digging deeper into the stories behind the cards in our Notable Women in Computing playing card deck. The hands are for 5-card draw poker unless otherwise noted. If you’re already a Backer on Kickstarter, thank you. If not, become one today.

The second hand I’m going share is a full-house, 7s and 6s:

Notable Women in Computing_Hand2

Here are their names and achievements, original list work of my Mom:

Honoree Name Position, Honors, Awards Learn more
 - Grete Hermann Univ. of Göttingen mathematician, 1926 foundational paper for computerized algebra Wikipedia page
7 ♣ – Kathleen McKeown Professor Columbia Univ., ACM and AAAI Fellow, Founding Fellow Association for Computational Linguistics, ABI Women of Vision No Wikipedia page
7 ♦ – Sophie Vandebroek CTO Xerox, IEEE Fellow, WITI Hall of Fame, Royal Flemish Academy for Arts & Sciences Member No Wikipedia page
6  – Manuela Veloso Carnegie Mellon Univ. Professor, IEEE Fellow, AAAS Fellow Wikipedia page
6 ♣ – Helen Greiner CEO of CyPhy Works, ABI Women of Vision, WITI Hall of Fame Wikipedia page

You can help: As with all of the hands in this series, at least one of these notable women does not have a Wikipedia page. This time it’s Dr Sophie Vandebroek and Professor Kathleen McKeown. If Donald Trump has 12,000 words dedicated to him on Wikipedia, they deserves at least 100 each.

If you’re willing to write or edit an article about these incredible women, learn more about Professor McKeown and Dr Vandebroek accomplishments and get some tips on how to get started writing or editing an article on Wikipedia. If you write them, let me know and I’ll send you brownie points in an update.

Inspirational Quote:

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” ― Jane Austen, Persuasion

The things that do not come with houses

Since moving to Seattle, I’ve spent some time setting up a house, rather than a manageable place to live. Most of the other places I’ve lived have had elements of beauty–maps or prints on the walls, a soft blanket here or there. But I’ve never had the chance to build a household to spec until now.

When I was in college, it was easy to find serviceable stuff. The first house I lived in after leaving the dorms came stocked with 6 beds, 2 couches, 3 rice-makers and approximately 147 forks. All of it had been abandoned by other students, and our rat-landlord charged us to haul it out at the end of our lease. The experience of living around the flaws of the objects is useful, but because this time I had some time, I chose to create a house in Seattle where most of the objects fit my and Matthew’s patterns.

This has led to me realizing that there are things that do not come with houses. Somehow this far into adulthood I had always imagined some things just came with the lease. In no particular order, here are some of those things:

  • Calvin and Hobbes bathroom books
  • Cutting-boards wide enough to dice carrots on
  • Magnets
  • Wire shelving inserts
  • Hedge-clippers
  • Picture-frames
  • Floor rugs
  • A broom

These are all things that I saw in so many houses growing up that some part of my brain had reduced them to permanent objects that traveled through the world with houses. I never saw an adult buy a broom, or a wire-shelving insert. I watched my Mom buy rugs and magnets, but that there were refrigerators that existed in a pre-magnet state never rose to mind.

I spent the last few months slowly accumulating these things, along with baskets and boxes and coat-hanger-replacements. It has been a transitional adult moment, like the time I realized I should put a nail through the wall rather stick than a Command hook on it. Like the time I realized that buying meat for a fresh meal meant I needed to cook the meat that day.

There are restrictions that come with adult life that I’m starting to see from the inside. Meat goes bad if you don’t cook soon; crooked paintings are more annoying than spending the time to fix them is worth. And there are things that do not come with houses.

Inspirational Quote:

“[T]he world would be a better place if more engineers, like me, hated technology. The stuff I design, if I’m successful, nobody will ever notice. Things will just work, and be self-managing.” — Radia Perlman

Inspirational Hand of the Week

This is the first post in a series digging deeper into the stories behind the cards in our Notable Women in Computing playing card deck. The hands are for 5-card draw poker unless otherwise noted. If you’re already a Backer on Kickstarter, thank you. If not, become one today.

The first hand I’m going share is a 2 pair, Queen* high:

Notable Women in Computing_Hand1

Here are their names and achievements, original list work of my Mom:

Honoree Name Position, Honors, Awards Learn more
Queen ♦ – Anita Borg Founder Anita Borg Institute, WITI Hall of Fame, Fellow ACM, EFF Pioneer Wikipedia page
10 ♦ – Cristina Amon Univ. of Toronto Dean-Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, IEEE Fellow, SWE Achievement Award, Canadian Academy of Eng., Spanish Royal Academy, Royal Society of Canada, US NAE Wikipedia page
5 ♦ – Laurie Hendren Professor McGill Univ., ACM Fellow, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada No Wikipedia page
10 ♠ – Clarisse Sieckenius de Souza Professor PUC Rio de Janeiro, CHI Academy No Wikipedia page
5 ♣ – Mary Lou Jepsen Google X Head of the Display Division, ABI Women of Vision, WITI Hall of Fame Wikipedia page

You can help: As with all of the hands in this series, at least one of these notable women does not have a Wikipedia page. This time it’s Professors Clarisse Sieckenius de Souza and Professor Laurie Hendren. If Donald Trump has 12,000 words dedicated to him on Wikipedia, they deserves at least 100 each.

If you’re willing to write or edit an article about these incredible women, learn more about Professor de Souza and Dr Hendren’s accomplishments here and get some tips on how to get started writing or editing an article on Wikipedia. If you write them, let me know and I’ll send you brownie points in an update.

*As an aside, in our deck Queens rank above Kings.

Inspirational Quote:

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ― Nora Ephron