Vote

Just a quick reminder — if there are elections where you live then vote! 

People fought wars, got arrested, went through many hardships to gain the right to vote. Don’t take it for granted! 

Voting tells our government and politicians that we care and we’re paying attention. It’s not a big presidential election year, so lines shouldn’t be huge in most places. 

Just do it!

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On This Day

In seventh grade I moved from a suburb of Chicago, Illinois to what I thought would be a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee. A lot of things weren’t quite what I expected.

First, the area we moved too — an outer section of Mount Juliet — was not exactly suburbs. It would be better called a rural area with some subdivisions.

We had to drive about 25 minutes to get to the nearest grocery store. No traffic, just winding roads and hills. We had a few convenience marts / bait shops closer than the grocery stores. So you could grab soda pop or toilet paper if needed. But any real shopping would have to wait.

From our new home’s balcony we could see Old Hickory Lake in the distance and lots of land and trees and a few sections with houses. The view was spectacular! There are a lot more houses and subdivisions now.

Our yard was large, dotted with trees, and edged in wild-growth blackberries and weeds. And snakes. We had snakes.

The bus and new school scared me. The sound of my alarm in the morning seemed cruel and unusual.

There was culture shock and more culture shock. I got called a Yankee more than once. I mean, really, how many years ago was the Civil War?

But eventually the shock wore off.

I found friends and food  I liked. Dear friends and yummy food that I still love to this day.

Me Too, Brave

If you spend any time on social media you’ve most certainly heard of Harvey Weinstein, sexual harassment, and the hashtag #metoo. Some of you may feel like you’ve heard enough. Many of us have HAD ENOUGH.

My own #metoo.

I’ve experienced multiple instances. I think most women have to varying degrees. Some we may forget. Some we don’t. I have a pretty good memory. So here’s the first instance that I can clearly remember.

I was about six years old. A strange man tried to get me in his car. As I’m pretty sure he wasn’t enticing me to a game of hopscotch, I’ll venture to guess what might have happened if I actually got in the car.

Teachers and parents warned us kids many times — don’t take candy from strangers and don’t take rides from strangers. We’d seen filmstrips even! This man did not offer me any candy. I was confused. If there was no candy did that mean he was okay? He didn’t fit the mold of child abductor or even seem strange, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to do … except to not get in the car.

Thinking back, what he said to me was clear manipulation. And harassers manipulate. He told me that he knew my dad and that my dad had asked him to give me a ride home that day. (I think he even knew his name.) He told me that my dad would be mad if I didn’t get in the car. Fucker.

I stood staring at the man. I didn’t want to make my dad mad at me. This man looked like any upstanding man or dad in our neighborhood. He was dressed in a suit and drove a nice, four-door sedan.

I didn’t always walk home alone, but I’d stayed at school a little later that day. Having a ride home would be nice. Did my dad know that I was walking alone and send a ride for me?

I froze — neither getting in the car nor running. That small bit of doubt in my head was holding me in place. If the man was telling the truth, then my dad would be mad if I didn’t get in the car. I was always told to tell the truth. I assumed most people told the truth. But I was also faced with all those warnings, “Don’t take a ride from a stranger.” I didn’t know this man.

I stood on the sidewalk several feet away from the car. The man had the passenger-side door open, and he sat in the driver seat. To get me in the car he would have had to have gotten out and grabbed me.

He finally gave up and left saying, “your parents told you not to take rides from strangers, didn’t they?” And I nodded. He told me I was a good girl for listening. (Did that make me bad if I had gotten in the car?)

I walked home as quickly as possible. It stuck with me that being alone made me an easy target.

I wasn’t sure if I should bring it up with my parents. But I actually doubted myself for not getting in the car. Would my dad be mad? I quietly, nonchalantly asked my mom if Dad had sent somebody to give me a ride. She said, “no.”

Afterward, I kept trying to forget. I mean, really, actively trying to get it out of my head because while nothing bad actually happened, the event made me feel creepy and bad. So I’d forget for a while. And then I’d remember again. And sometimes, I was mad at myself for not running away — right away.

And no, that wouldn’t be the last time some man made me feel like that — made me feel bad — not because of something I did but because of something bad they did or tried to do.

Ronan Farrow broke the story about Harvey Weinstein in an article in The New Yorker. Brave job, Ronan Farrow!

When all those women that Harvey Weinstein harassed or raped had a hard time coming forward. I could relate. At six years old, I promise I was not wearing sexy or provocative clothes. So when women are asked what they did to provoke an attack, I have no reason to believe that the women did anything other than be female. Yet when so many of them doubted themselves … wondered if they had done anything wrong to bring it on themselves … I can relate. Those women are brave!

How is it that society has allowed these actions to continue?  How can the Harvey Weinsteins of the world not realize that what they are doing, what they have done, is so wrong? Just because a man is sexually attracted to a women, does not mean that she wants to attract him or have anything sexual to do with him. And manipulating women into those actions through candy, power, or threats is wrong.

Woody Allen called the situation “sad.” He spoke even more words to say, “You also don’t want it to lead to a witch hunt atmosphere, a Salem atmosphere, where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.”

How can the Woody Allens of the world worry about a “witch hunt” over the physical safety of women and children?

Witch hunt. Let those words sink in. Instead of saying, “Mr. Weinstein did bad things.” And that maybe people shouldn’t do bad things. Allen brings up images of … of … witches. When many people think of witches, they think of women who practice evil. Nice to know what’s on your mind, Mr. Allen.

The Salem Witch Trials — where women were falsely accused of evil that resulted in trials that lead to the deaths of innocent women, men, and children … and Woody Allen worries that winking might get men into trouble because of the Harvey Weinstein situation —  Harvey Weinstein, a man who is not innocent, has admitted guilt, and is guilty of some pretty nasty things. Maybe Mr. Allen should blame Harvey Weinstein for any negative fallout from Harvey Weinstein’s actions. Instead Mr. Allen seems mad about the publicity and article.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t nice, good men out there. Thank god! There are nice men! Men who know boundaries. Men who can find a woman attractive, but who don’t assume that their own attraction automatically gives them license to touch or force women into actions. 

Trust me. Most of us women know when a wink is just a wink. (And really, maybe, winks are best left out of the workplace anyway.)

If you aren’t sure how to act in a way that will ensure that you don’t get accused of sexual harassment, then you might be interested in The Rock Test: A Hack for Men Who Don’t Want To Be Accused of Sexual Harassment. Feel free to share it. The Rock himself even endorsed it on Twitter. (Makes me kind of love the 3D, 7-11, souvenir Slurpee cup featuring The Rock that I’ve been using to water some of my plants.)

Women don’t want the nice stuff to go away! We even like sexy stuff too (under the right circumstances). But if a person must be coerced into something sexual that they don’t want to do, then that person is being sexually harassed or worse. We will usually be happy to tell you if we do or don’t like something. Amazingly, we have brains, and we’re interactive too.

Unfortunately, sexual predators are a lot like terrorists. Most people are not terrorists. Most people don’t want to hurt others. But it only takes that one terrorist to cause a lot of damage to many people. One of the biggest problems with sexual predators is that people don’t seem to like to bring the instances to light. Women who do are often more punished than the man who commented the act. 

Brave women and men who come forward to clear away the terror and stop predators are heroes.

 #metoo

Aside from sharing actual experiences and opinions, this was also written as a response to the WordPress: Daily Post’s Daily Prompt, Brave.

Summer 2017

In 2016, and all the years prior, the school year started the day after Labor Day. That would have been today if our county hadn’t changed the start date this year making it one week earlier. So today my daughter starts her second week of 10th grade.

I don’t know where the summer went. It was a good one! Just short. Really short. I really would have preferred longer.

We visited Pittsburgh twice — once for my cousin’s wedding and once for Pinburgh and ReplayFX.  Both were wonderful, amazing experiences (especially the wedding which was really a one-of-a-kind event). ReplayFX and Pinburgh, a pinball tournament, will be there again next year. But it was gobs of fun! Some people go to the beach, we go to Pittsburgh. (Okay, we like the beach too, we just didn’t fit that in quite yet. Hopefully it will still be there for a while.)

In August we visited South Carolina both to visit my dad and to witness the total solar eclipse.  My dad lives in an area that would have been about 99% eclipse but not quite total. We drove a little over an hour southwest landing us in a delightful town called Newberry, South Carolina. I am SO very glad we drove the extra distance to see the total eclipse. It is a different animal — the difference between a partial and total eclipse is literally like night and day. (Really literally.)

Partial eclipses aren’t that different from each other. Granted 99% is going to be more impressive than 85% but you still get a tremendous amount of light from a tiny sliver of the sun. We were impressed at how light it was even when the sun was almost entirely covered.

Moments before totality


During a partial eclipse, it still looks like daytime, but with a large enough occlusion it’s a dimmer daytime with sharper shadows. It looks strange, and it’s pretty wild!

Totality is like somebody hit a light switch and turned the world to night for a couple of minutes. The crickets chirp. The air cools. Some people can see stars and planets. We saw Venus! There is a glow around the entire horizon that looks like the last few glimmers of sunset before pitch blackness. But the sun itself is still overhead and covered by a black disk that is the moon.  The corona radiates from that sharp black disk. It is mind boggling! I want to do it again.

Totality – removing the eclipse glasses.


Between the fun out-of-town events, my daughter had several camps. Like many previous summers, this year I spent many a lunch hour driving her to or from camp and then drove back to the office. I love that she gets to do some fun and educational things like her orchestra camp and dance camp. But it makes for a busy, tiring day with less time than I’d like for things like eating or breathing. And there’s scant little time for blogging or even for visiting the pool. I want more summer! I guess it will be back next year.

So that’s about it for this update.

One more thing, I maybe had like 1.5 seconds of “fame.” Saturday, I went to a new eye doctor because I really needed new glasses (I haven’t gotten real, new glasses in YEARS), and I had some flex spending to use. When I gave the receptionist my email address she asked me if I blogged. Yes. So I asked if she’d just Googled me. She said, “no,” that her sister-in-law (or somebody like that) blogs, so she reads a lot of blogs and my email addy rang a bell (my email is similar to my blog name). So I guess that’s like a second and a half of fame, maybe, right? Though I’m still not convinced that she didn’t Google me or look me up on Yelp to see if I write reviews. Regardless, the eye doctor got me in that same day, I found frames I really liked and was able to get a reasonably okay deal after a little haggling. I’d have gladly gone to Walmart if their price was too high, so there’s that. Still waiting to get my new glasses… but I just had to share. It feels kind of weird, but maybe kind of good too.

The glow of the horizon during a total eclipse.

Happy 40th Anniversary, Star Wars

May 25, 1977, Star Wars was released in the United States. 

I first heard of it was in class in elementary school in Wheaton, Illinois. Our teacher mentioned it. I think one of the dads of the kids in my class worked for an advertising firm, and they were trying to promote it. So she heard of it from him (possibly through his son). And before it was even released, the teacher (who wasn’t really my favorite for a variety of reasons) mentioned it to the class. I think it was something like, “there’s a new movie coming out this summer called, Star Wars, and it’s supposed to be really good.” (With this, she redeemed herself some … )

So we saw it sometime after school got out (though I don’t think it was the first day …) Looking in the newspaper, I saw those bold black letters in the movie listings and show times, and I remembered the mention in class. Newspapers were needed to see show times back them. No online listings or apps.

We went. I sat mesmerized. I barely moved I was so captivated, and with my brain so alive with spaceships and laser (blaster) fights and lightsabers, my foot fell asleep. It blew me away! 

I’m pretty sure there was an extra scene in the very first showing that I saw — one where Luke throws th grappling hook and misses the first time as the storm troopers are trying to capture Luke and Leia. Later, he makes the shot on his first try. Maybe there are others … or not.

I saw it many times after that first one. It would be the first movie that I’d want to see multiple times. And at the end, seeing Darth Vader spin away in his damaged TIE fighter (not dead), I had hope that they would make more movies to continue the tale of Luke, Leia, Han, C-3PO, R2D2 and the others …

The rest, as they say, is history. 

Happy 40th Anniversary! 

May the 4th be with you!

Somewhere … sometime … a long time ago … in a galaxy we’re in right now, somebody noticed that, “May the 4th,” sounded a lot like, “May the force,” and thus Star Wars day was born. So may the 4th be with you … always!

I have a lot of catching up to do on this blog. We’ve been busy. Sometimes super busy! And it meant that I had to lighten up on something or I’d just fall down exhausted and become a blob. Actually, I did become a blob and exhausted, so I guess I should say that I would have been a worse blob. So the blog got lightly set aside. Sorry, blog. Sorry, WordPress.

I’ll do some catch up in the coming days and weeks … things we’ve been doing … are doing now … and stuff that may be yet to come. Subjects covered with include Science, Robotics, Apatite, Salad Surprise, Dance, Balcony Gardening (Herbs and Plants that Survived the Winter), and more!

I hope you enjoyed the rainbow I posted on May 2. The photo was actually taken on May 1. Rainbows may be a little cliché in some ways, but they are still so amazing when they show up in all their spectacular glory. It was a really impressive start to May.

May the 4th be with you, and may it be a good one!

Rainbow 

Yesterday evening we had this spectacular show of sky and color and general awesomeness. 

Rainbow


 

We all dashed outside when my daughter noticed the light coming inside through the window looked a little strange. It is probably one of the most beautiful rainbows we’ve ever seen. 

If you look a bit to the left of the main rainbow you’ll see a faint second rainbow. And we even saw a little third rainbow that was quite unusual too — it was right next to the main rainbow but the stripes were thinner and maybe the colors were reversed. So possibly it was like a reflection of the first rainbow? It was really hard to capture that in a photo. But Dave got a close up where you can kind of make it out. 

The way the light reflected off the clouds just made it that much more amazing. The photo here is right out of my phone with no Photoshopping. It doesn’t do it justice. I might try to bring out the other rainbow in Photoshop, but you just can’t really capture the feeling on “film.” It was huge. You could see the rainbow stretching over so much of the sky. Amazing! Photos are just souvenirs of this rare and spectacular show. They will have to do for now. 

Same rainbow but on the right side of the sky.

Mushroom Popcorn

This is a follow up to my post on types of popcorn.

I ordered and received a two-pound bag of mushroom popcorn.

Not having read my previous post on popcorn, my daughter thought I’d ordered mushroom-flavored popcorn. It is not. But mmm,  we might have to try that sometime. I’m not sure how I would add mushroom-flavor but it could be interesting.

It is also not some kind of 1960s psychedelic snack food.

The “mushroom” part refers to the shape of the popcorn when it’s popped. Butterfly or snowflake popcorn is the kind found in most grocery stores for popping at home. Mushroom popcorn is generally used by commercial poppers for caramel corn, kettle corn, or other kinds of popped popcorn that benefit from a rounder, more durable popped kernel (also called a flake).

I ordered JustPoppin’s Tru-Pop brand Mushroom popcorn from Amazon because it came in a 2-lb size — manageable for at-home consumption. Plus it had generally good reviews as well as popping tips and a hotline in case you had trouble achieving a mushroom-shaped flake with their kernels. It costs a little more than typical popcorn but is still pretty economical for snacking.

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Just-Poppin’s Tru-Pop Mushroom popcorn with instruction sheet and a hotline for help.

In the bag, it doesn’t look much different from standard yellow butterfly popcorn. But side-by-side unpopped kernels are a little larger.

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Clockwise from top: White kernels, standard yellow, and mushroom kernels.

The popping instructions said there’s a narrow temperature range for optimal results. We followed the recommendation of using a higher heat and adding the kernels only once the oil was hot enough. Readiness is determined by putting three kernels in the pot. Once they’ve popped, add the remaining kernels.

The oil used should be one that tolerates a higher cooking temperature like peanut or coconut. We like refined coconut oil — no coconut flavor, but a good cooking oil that tolerates high temperatures and may have some health benefits.

We use a three-to-one ratio of oil to kernels and cook it in a single layer in an ordinary medium-size stainless steel cooking pot with a lid. We love multitasking kitchen utensils, so we don’t have a specialty popcorn maker. (Except my daughter, she likes making it.)

Our results were excellent.

A bowl of mushroom popcorn, lightly seasoned.
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Mostly shaped like little balls.

As you can see, our flakes look rounder with fewer little blobs protruding. This looks a lot like the kettle corn or caramel corn we’ve purchased at fairs and festivals minus the carmel or sugar coating. We had very few unpopped kernels, on par with other quality varieties.

In the photo (below) the top flakes are white kernel popcorn that I purchased at a farmers’ market. It’s also available at many supermarkets. The bottom right flakes are standard yellow popcorn — the most common variety at grocery stores. The bottom left is Mushroom Popcorn with large, round flakes and a few that look like standard butterfly popcorn too. It’s available online and may be carried at some gourmet and specialty shops.

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Comparing three varieties. White (top) is a little smaller and brighter white. Yellow (bottom right) is typical size and shape, not quite as white. Mushroom (bottom left) is similar in color to yellow popcorn but larger, rounder, and with more noticeable husks.

As you can see, the mushroom popcorn has more husks attached to the flakes themselves as well as left behind in the bowl or pot. I included a few husks in the photo. The husks are pretty tough. You can shake out a lot of the larger pieces and/or let them collect at the bottom so you don’t get a mouthful of husk. But there are still little bits attached to the flakes themselves. In caramel corn, those husks will be masked by the sugary coating. The white and yellow flakes have fewer husks attached and left behind in the pot. The husks they do have don’t seem as tough.

Along with the difference in shape, the flakes themselves have a slightly different texture. As previously reported, the mushroom flakes are a little tougher. They have more of a crunch whereas the standard butterfly flakes have a lighter crispiness to them.

The flavor was better in the butterfly kernels. It’s a small difference, but if I was eating plain popcorn then I would definitely choose butterfly popcorn. It was a little sweeter and cornier tasting. The mushroom kernels had a slight styrofoam taste. That sounds terrible. But it wasn’t bad, just not as good — a little blander overall. Naturally, adding salt and a sugar coating will overcome a lot of the difference in taste. For now, we tried it with our usual salt and butter- and cheddar-flavored topping.

I can definitely see how the mushroom popcorn would work better for commercial popping purposes and even homemade caramel corn. The rounder shape allows for a thinner, more even coating of sugar. When I made kettle corn at home using standard popcorn, there were some fairly thick globs of sugary coating stuck in the deeper nooks and crannies of the butterfly shapes.

The mushroom popcorn includes a notice that it should only be used as intended — for eating — and that, while not GMO, it is a specially bread popcorn and is proprietary. So they don’t want you to use these as seeds to plant a crop. No worries for me, I don’t have room for growing corn on my balcony.

It was fun to try. We’ve made a couple of batches now and like mixing the two varieties. I would definitely suggest mushroom popcorn for homemade caramel corn and kettle corn. But if you just want a nice snack, butterfly popcorn is still the way to go.

Catch Up – Red Tie and Rangers

Our nation is on week two of the 45th Presidency. It has been interesting … I still feel like we’re all stuck in an alternate universe. Three years ago watching a few episodes of The Apprentice, no way would I have imagined Donald Trump to be president here in 2017. But it happened. And I gotta say, it’s a little stressful.  I’ve been craving yoga and chamomile tea.

At his inauguration our new president wore a very large red tie. I guess that’s one of his signature looks except that I hadn’t watched enough television before that to know. So I saw it and thought, “wow, that is one ginormous tie.” And I wondered if I was the only person on the planet to notice the tie. I Googled it. Then I wondered if I was the only person on the planet not privy to the fact that this was his “signature tie.” Then I wondered about some other things  because …

The president talked about how the people were taking control of their government again — a very populist sounding speech. But it would be more accurate to say that about half the people were “taking control.” No wait, maybe about 35-40% of the people. Because while he has some very loyal supporters (whom you may have missed if you live in a big city like L.A., Chicago, or New York), there are also people who voted for him who simply didn’t want to vote for Hillary or any third-party candidates. And, really, it’s not like any of them are really in control either.

A few spotty protests took place during his inauguration.

There was dispute about how many people attended Trump’s inauguration. I don’t know why this is a thing. It shouldn’t be a thing. I would absolutely expect Obama’s inauguration to draw more crowds. He was the first African-American president, it was a very historic moment.

A huge Women’s March took place the day after. Women and men around the world marched for women’s rights. The streets of D.C. were positively flooded. Many expressed their anger over some of the president’s past comments about women and worried how they may be treated as a whole by the upcoming administration and its policies.

The throngs were speckled with pink hats. I hadn’t read much about the march ahead of time. But that day I saw all kinds of reports on costumes, signs, and on what the hats were. The hats were usually a bright pink and had two protrusions — one on each side. Were the hats supposed to be lady parts? Ovaries? Uteruses? Some folks dressed up as those things. I thought, “those hats don’t really look like lady parts; they look more like kitty ears.” “Ah ha!,” I thought. They’re pussy hats!

Some folks who marched or spoke were loud, in your face, and used a lot of language probably not suitable for children. Some people were offended, some thought it was a great expression of the hurt. Basically, the marches remained peaceful and non-violent. So that’s good.

The president announced a hiring freeze on government employees, and later I saw reports that the National Park Service, NASA, and other federal organizations weren’t allowed to Tweet or send out press releases without first having the information reviewed by the administration. Basically, the reports said these science agencies had been given a gag order.

Then I saw Press Secretary Sean Spicer at a press conference saying that the order did not come from the White House. That there were already rules about what could be sent out, so that reports of a gag order from the White House were wrong.

So whom do we believe? As usual, I’m sure there are lies and misunderstandings on both sizes of the political spectrum. It is always that way. Though neither side usually admits it.

Regardless of whether there was really a gag order or not, these are the days of the Internet and Twitter and instant everything. So the National Park Service went “rogue.” They set up an Alt National Park Service Twitter account and started Tweeting about the environment and how a wall between the U.S. and Mexico will affect the wildlife that lives in that area (and I don’t mean the people). NASA and several other departments of government also set up rogue accounts on Twitter and Facebook.

Officially, these accounts are not set up by the Park Service or government agencies. But unofficially the accounts are probably set up by park service and other similar employees on their own time.

nps

I generally like parks and go camping in them, so this was an interesting turn of events. I would love to see this as a movie. There’s something reassuring about park rangers.

Then I saw the president on the news saying he was going to ban “catch and release.”

Now here’s where my brain does what my brain does and uses past experience to make meaning of the present, and I think, “he’s going to ban catch and release? Does that mean we’re going to have to eat all the fish we catch?”

But no, immigration is what he was talking about. He wants to change current policy.

He signed papers to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. And lots of people thought, “But there’s a hiring freeze. Who’s gonna build the wall?” Days later he signed executive orders banning folks from 7 mostly muslim countries from entering the U.S. for a period of 30 to 90 days depending on stuff. People who had already been vetted to enter the country were stopped mid-travel at airports. I mean, I would have been pissed. Tickets paid for, flights flown …

This made quite a few people furious because it stranded a lot of good people including women and children and people with paperwork saying that they could be here and live here.

There was a lot of confusion. (Which may be the understatement-of-the-day.)

But other people were like, “hell yeah!” Because they don’t want terrorists to enter our country and they see this as a move to prevent that.

One side sees Trump as evil incarnate —a budding fuhrer. Forbidding specific ethnic groups along with a gag order on scientists only fueled that fire. But did the president even issue a gag order? Maybe yes, maybe no. Some reports said that everything that happened with the park service was nothing more than standard internal procedure during a change of administration — happens every four years, give or take four years. They were just doing their thing.

But once these ideas spread, it’s hard not to have them stuck in people’s heads. And I mean, ROGUE PARK RANGERS! That’s like rogue Bambi or superhero cottontail bunny rabbits. How cool is that?

But rogue scientists or not, there are a lot of people who are thrilled that they have a president who actually follows through on his campaign promises.

I’ll give them that. Good or bad, there aren’t many politicians who’ve attempted to do so much of what they said they would do in so short a period of time.

But plenty of people didn’t like what this man said he would do in the first place, and he could really use some lessons in diplomacy (oh look, another understatement). He issues his own brand of rogue, ego-fueled Tweets.

We tend to hear more from people who are mad — happy people don’t usually complain so much. But there are a lot of mad people right now.

With some people loving what he’s doing and some hating it, straddling between is a challenge. There’s hardly a middle-of-the-road anymore, it’s more of a suspension bridge.

Cabinet members have been nominated and mostly confirmed. Some love them, some hate them.

There are enough protests going on that I’m pretty sure there must be clandestine operations taking place that we may or may not hear about later. (All these protests are the perfect cover and distraction.)

At least a few things probably aren’t even the way people think they are because that is how it works. Rarely do we ever get the whole, real truth, and rarely is one side all right or all wrong. Though sometimes things can run 60% – 40% or even closer to 90% – 10%.

I would love to have a good, reliable source for news and analysis, but I’m not feeling that right now.

The best I can hope for is to read and listen to what both sides have to say and hope some of the truth is filtering through.

It is so very early in this presidency. What will happen today? Tomorrow?

 

Hidden Figures on MLK Day

This morning I saw the movie Hidden Figures with my daughter and her Girl Scout troop at a theater that had been rented to show it to a crowd of all Girl Scouts.

It was the perfect day to see it and a great bunch of girls to see it with.

I laughed. I cried. I felt shame and pride and joy.

Hidden Figures is a fantastic movie based on the even more amazing true story of three very special woman who changed a bit of the world as they made their mark on the U.S. space program (NACA which would later become NASA) in the 1960s and beyond.

Katherine G. Johnson,  Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson used their smarts to politely break down barriers, worked hard (I mean relentlessly hard, constantly, for years), and used their sharp, talented brains to the very best of their abilities.

It’s hard to imagine that less than 60 years ago women and men of different colors had to use separate bathrooms, separate drinking fountains, and were allowed such vastly different opportunities. That’s less than a single lifetime ago. It’s not some ancient fact from 300-plus years ago. People who lived that are still alive including Katherine Johnson (who is 98 as of this writing). On the other hand, some days I feel mankind should be so much further ahead in jettisoning antiquated ideas. There is still hope. 

I’ve seen other movies and read books portraying the space program — The Right Stuff, Apollo 13 … It’s a fascinating time in our history. (And I hope the space program remains a part of our world for a long time.) It’s hard to image how those stories could be told without these women. I’m glad their stories are finally being shared outside the small circle of people who have known about them for decades.

These women are truly inspirational.

It can be easy to think, “I can’t.” These women didn’t let that get in the way even with other people telling them they couldn’t. Even with laws that slowed them down. Even as working mothers. They educated themselves, worked smartly, and succeeded.

It was so nice to see the movie in a room full of Girl Scouts from so many walks of life as they got to hear the story of Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary at NASA. The Girl Scout troop that organized the movie planned it well. An engineer from modern-day NASA spoke to the crowd about how she got to be an engineer there with the help of education and summer internships.

I know, even today, it is still hard for a lot of women to break into male-dominated fields.

After the movie, I dropped off my daughter and went in to work for the remainder of the afternoon. Then I ran errands — dropped off some cookie forms, stopped by the grocery store, and went to a homeowners’ association meeting. I cooked and ate dinner with my family. (I probably should have let them do more cooking, but it was just quicker this way.) And I’m finally blogging a bit. It’s been a full day. And I’m very thankful that I didn’t have to run several buildings over, a quarter of a mile away, just to use the restroom. (I think that would have done me in.)

The movie stuck with me throughout the day. And I have a feeling it will stick for quite some time.

I hope everyone had a great Martin Luther King Day.

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