Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Morning Thoughts: Jokes?

Whatever happened to blond jokes?   I know that they are politically incorrect and perpetuate the myth that blonds are dumb.  But so many of the blond jokes are honestly just funny, and as a blond I never had trouble with people treating me as stupid.  Though, if I'm being truly honest, I did have men assume I couldn't play pool.  I had a friend named Kathy who was a natural brunette; we would sometimes go to the Yucatan Liquor Stand and scam a free pool table from unsuspecting guys.  Hmmmm...

Anyway, my favorite blond joke?  What do you call a blond who dyes her hair brunette?

Artificial intelligence.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Morning Thoughts

Have you ever dreamed about flying or meeting a dragon or running to the mall, only to have the plot of the dream take a turn towards finding an open bathroom?  You run around and see toilets everywhere, but they are either currently being used or out in the open or in a tiny cube?  Then you wake up and realize that  you actually need to go pee, and your body's been trying to interrupt your dream?

Yeah, that's the kind of morning I'm having.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


I've had strange dreams this week.
I wake up feeling sticky inside and out.
It's as though everything is offset by just a touch.
I feel guilty and horrible and slightly sick to my stomach.
I find my mind cluttered with moments in time where I screwed up.
Times that I want to do again.
Does life have do-overs?
I need a do-over or two.
I try to forgive myself.
I tell myself, "Kathryn, let it go.  Forgive yourself, because you cannot change it now."
I know that I learned my lesson.
For each time I remember, I know what I would do know.
I know how to avoid the situation or at least to react.
But the guilt remains.
I sometimes feel time slip through my fingers, through my hands.
Like sand or water or opportunities not taken.
My head refuses to stop thinking,
but it also refuses to focus.
Fuzzy dreams, fuzzy thoughts, cloud my head
until I have trouble seeing the world around me.
Reality fades on me sometimes.
I feel like a jack of all trades at life.
I can fake it with the best, but I never really live.
I can't connect to people.
Especially those that I love.
How do I get off this merry-go-round?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Women Get Harassed In Public Restrooms

Earlier this week, I watched a video where Aimee Tom discusses a situation where some strange woman yelled at her for being in the women's restroom.  Why?  No one knows with complete certainty, but it's probably because the woman mistook Aimee for a transgender man.  Aimee brings up a multitude of good points, so I suggest you watch the video and then continue reading.

Now, I admit I'm not a conservative and I truly don't care which bathroom a person uses.  I may not understand what it feels like to be transgender, but I also don't understand what it feels like to be a man.  But I still accept both transgender people and men.

Sadly, as I was looking for the original video to include, I found two other videos of egregious behavior.  In the first one, a man attempts to follow a woman into the ladies' room.  When she confronts him, he leaves but only after he blames her because she was wearing a man's clothes. 

This second video is even worse. Some mall cops bully a girl into leaving the restroom because they will not believe that she's a girl. They never say why, but I'm guessing because she's wearing gender neutral clothes and has a low voice. The idiots even have the gall to ask her if she has ID, as if you need ID to use a restroom!!!!!


Let me explain something.  I understand that a bunch of these conservatives are worried because they think that a man wants to go into the ladies' restroom to watch women pee.  But a transgender woman is not a man dressed in drag - that would be a cross-dresser (or transvestite, for older people).  A transgender woman is a person who is female and who happened to be born with a penis.

When a transgender woman goes to the restroom, do you know what she wants to do?

  • Check and maybe fix her hair.
  • Check her makeup.
  • Apply more lipstick or lip gloss.
  • Gossip with her friends about how the evening is going.
  • Apply perfume.
  • Wash her hands.
  • Change her baby's diaper.
  • Feed her baby (if there's a chair available.)
  • Use the toilet.
In other words, a transgender woman wants to do exactly what other women do.

And for all of you judgmental, fear-mongering jerks?  What does it say about you that you think it's your right to judge how 'feminine' a woman must be to use the ladies' room?  What does it say about you that you assume someone would assault someone in the ladies' room?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My Reaction to John Oliver's Take on "Studies"

I enjoy watching "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" every week.  I actually subscribe to HBONow, but I don't stay up late enough to watch on Sunday nights.  Instead, my husband and I watch it together every Monday.

This last episode, John Oliver covers the problems present with all of the "scientific studies" referenced by media, specifically how the media misreports science.  I'm including the video of this segment below if you want to watch it, though I caution you that it's not necessarily safe for work.

After watching this, I felt a bit guilty because I don't include links to all the studies I read for various posts, mostly because the studies themselves are quite boring to read.  There's nothing like a bunch of scientific jargon to put a person to sleep.

Note:  If I ever cite a study and you want to read it, let me know.  I will try to include links from now on.

But I think that John Oliver could have explained a few more bits:

  • The 'p' in p-hacking stands for 'probability'.   
  • Scientists who do p-hacking typically work on meta studies.  That's a study where the scientist doesn't do new research, instead he or she looks through other people's work to find commonalities and correlations.
  • Correlation does not mean causation.  Basically, just because a group declares that eating cabbage is statistically correlated to having an innie belly button does not mean that one causes the other one.  Eating cabbage doesn't changing a person's belly button; nor does the type of belly button influence what a person eats.
  • Scientific study that finds no commonality or correlation can be as just important as ones that do.  Or to paraphrase Thomas Edison, you haven't failed.  You just found a way that doesn't work.
  • We need to set up rewards for people who find no correlations as well as for people verifying the results on exploratory studies.  Maybe we need a Nobel prize for fact checking. 
Basically, I agree with this segment.  I wish that morning shows and other media did a bit more homework before presenting scientific studies, because there is enough craziness out there without mass media adding more.

Monday, May 9, 2016

What is the Gender Pay Gap?

While I avoid labeling myself a "feminist" because of the overabundance of man-hating rhetoric associated with modern feminism, I do want to contribute to the burgeoning equality of our society.  A few weeks ago, online media spewed a plethora of articles about the question, is there a gender pay gap?  What I found missing was a definition of "gender pay gap" and why it's important.

What does "gender pay gap" mean?

gender pay gap:  the difference in the amount of money earned between two people of disparate genders for similar work, with the difference rooted in gender as opposed to other factors
That's my definition, and in simple English it means that for every dollar a man makes in the workplace, a woman makes statistically less than a dollar.  For clarity, I haven't found any data for transgender or other non-cis people, so I am leaving them out of the discussion for the moment.

Several studies have been done to determine if women get paid less than men, using a variety of technique and methods.  I've read through several, and I can say with certainty that there is a gender pay gap, both here in the United States and in the European Union.  I don't have research from the rest of the world, but I assume that there exists a gender pay gap most places.

The problem is that no one can agree on how much a woman is paid, and how to fix the problem.  I've seen estimates as low as 66¢ up to 95¢ for what a woman earns for every dollar a man earns.  But until the number is $1.00, we have work to do.

To compound the problem, how much a woman is paid changes based on years of experience and job description.  In general, women just entering the work force face a much smaller pay gap then women who have worked for decades.  Also, blue collar jobs tend to have a smaller pay gap than white collar jobs.

But, Why??

Reasons abundant float around as to the "why" - though to be completely honest most of these "reasons" are gut feelings and opinions.  People blame everything from men to glass ceilings to sticky floors for the gender pay gap.

In case you didn't know, a "glass ceiling" is an figurative invisible barrier that limits how high a woman can reach in terms of promotions and salary, while "sticky floor" is a figurative ground level that keeps a woman at the bottom of the pay scale.

But I see glass ceilings and sticky floors as mechanisms that impose the gender pay gap, not as reasons for this phenomenon.  I also don't think that there is a single reason, a single culprit that anyone can point to an say, "Look!  There!  That is the cause of the gender pay gap!"  I also believe that we have a long way to go before we honestly understand the whys behind the gender pay gap.

So what can we do?

Actually, I think there are a few things we can do right now to help the situation.  First and foremost, remove pay secrecy from the workplace and remove the social stigma associated with talking about salaries. More than once, a woman learns that she is getting underpaid because of discussion with her co-workers about salary.  Companies try to discourage this type of discussion, some of them even attempt to ban them even though pay secrecy is illegal according to the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.  Currently, the repercussions for pay secrecy violations are minimal, and Congress has yet to fix loopholes in the law.  Luckily for anyone working in the federal arena, in 2014 President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from punishing or retaliating against employees who discuss wages or other compensation.

Second, for certain industries, I think it makes sense to have a public pay scale.  In other words, everyone who works for company X in position Y will always get a specified wage.  Yes, I know this won't work everywhere.  But it's a start.  

And  yet...

my two solutions don't address the entire problem.  Most industries began with only male workers, and so most industries organically grew into male-centric organizations.  The way we interview, how promotions and raises are gotten, and even how groups discuss and solves problems - these are all done in ways more comfortable to men than women.  This matters because our current economic system incentivizes companies to pay the least amount of money for each employee.  So if an employee is willing to work for a lower amount, the company happily will pay less.  Typically speaking, a man has more self-confidence than a woman; therefore a man will ask for and receive more money.

I don't know how to solve this problem, because it's inherent in our version of capitalism.


Monday, May 2, 2016

An Honest Explanation About My Absence

Wow - this is a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I am writing today to explain my sometimes strange - or sometimes nonexistent - posting schedule.

I suffer from depression.

No, I'm not talking about feeling blue for a few days or feeling a bit under the weather.  But full-blown, colors all look gray, can't see the room I'm in, walk around like a badly handled puppet depression.

I can't point to a day and say, "That's it!  That's when my depression started" because honestly, I don't remember not living with depression.  Even as a child, I suffered bouts of depression that got worse when puberty started, better when puberty ended, then worse again as I attempted to navigate life as an adult.

Some days I'm fine, and I accomplish a lot of tasks.  Some days I feel like I have a limit on how much emotional energy I have.  And some days I struggle to get out of bed and get dressed.  Not brush my teeth or take a shower or even face my face - those all take too much energy.  Just. Get. Up.

The current societal attitudes towards mental illness in general and depression in particular don't help the situation either.  It's more acceptable to miss a meeting because you have a hangover that because you're depressed.  It's easier to lie and say I don't feel well because of the latest virus/cold/fill-in-the-blank-disease that to admit that I suffer from depression.  Because society doesn't really understand that people actually suffer.

Depression stole so much from me:

  • It has stolen time from my family. 
  • It's stolen pictures of my kids when they were younger.   
  • It's stolen parts of my health.  
  • It's stolen opportunities and might have beens from me.  
  • It's stolen friendships with people I still care about.  
  • It's stolen relationships with long distance family members.

But I'll be damned before I let it steal my blog.  I've spent six days working on this blog post, trying to figure out what I want to say and how to say it.  How do I explain to people who have never lived through depression how hard the struggle is?  How much I detest the phrase "snap out of it"?  How much I don't want your pity, but your understanding?  How much everyone you know who has depression needs your understanding?

Anyway, I just want you to know what is happening on my end.  I truly hope life is treating you well, and I will be posting more now because I have beat back depression, at least for now.

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