Thursday, February 2, 2017

TLDR -- Using : Facbook :: Drinking : Alcohol

I really love facebook.  These days, that seems to be a borderline shameful thing to say, but if I'm honest that's how I feel.  Let me elaborate.

I love connecting with people who would long since be strangers on a semi-regular basis.  
I love being able to forge new connections and meet people who I would otherwise not know from around the world.  
I love the format of being able to share interesting tid-bits, memes, videos, and sometimes more engaging material.  
I love the social organization features.  Setting up events, group chats really help me stay on track with 'real life' plans.  

-Some people are annoying and facebook will only amplify that.
-Everyone is sharing their highlight reel, so even don't bother comparing.
-Politics have always been difficult to talk about and facebook doesn't change any of that.  (Longer post needed, but I wouldn't say it always makes it worse, depends on a lot of factors.)

Whether from reasonable expectations or otherwise, I don't *think* I experience some of the psychological negatives that some people mention....(I don't think they aren't there, but that I combat them okay.)

But... has some downsides. Mainly, for me, it becomes a HUGE time-suck.  I've seen some people go on facebook fasts, and this isn't really desirable for me.  One) It's my main source of social communication.  Two) I use this for my work and other social groups I've managed in the past.

So... Basically, facebook is like alcohol, a little is pretty good, fun and can be a social lubricant.  A lot is physiologically damaging and can minimize your effectiveness in life.  Where that balance lies probably depends a lot on the individual.

All that to say, I've found a good spot of management, for me, for now, and here are the tips I have that might work for you too.

1) I disable most of my notifications.  I basically limit it to likes on post and comment replies.   Basically, only things that are directed towards me and might require my response.  Also, likes are fun!

2) I use a lesser known feature called lists.  I enjoy reading about politics and things that interest me, but like everyone else on facebook all my friends do not all share all my viewpoints.  For instance, I've created a specific politics list such that only people who are worth engaging with can engage.  I've tried to prevent myself from being insular by including people of different mindsets, but who are capable of being civil.

3) My newest/favorite tool: The Stay Focused chrome add-in.  This tool allows one to limit their access to a particular website to a certain number of minutes per day.  (I imagine firefox might also have such tool, so look it up!) Obviously, I've chosen to limit my access to facebook.  I still have the messenger on my phone, so people can 'get a hold of me'.  I've found a number that works for me and this prevents me from engaging in the endless scroll of doom, which I do find tiring and wasteful.

Otherwise,  the best 'tip' I have is learn how to use it.  Facebook is a tool, and like many tools you should read the instruction manual first.  For instance, understand the privacy settings.  Just like there is a difference between drinking a Budweiser vs a Martini, there's a difference between making a restricted post and a public post.  There are many resources out there that will teach you the basics of what facebook is and what each feature does.  The facebook itself has many great FAQs, and until you truly know what you are doing, proceed with caution!  

Monday, October 31, 2016

Math Survey - Results.

On October 25th, I posted a brief math survey to facebook.  If you would like to see it (or participate) here it is:

I'm working on writing a literary review for my grad school class and as I was stumbling through research I found a statement that suggested that some students miss basic math literary skills because they are too young to handle these skills when they are introduced in school initially.  Basically, spring babies may fair worse because their brains aren't prepared for the material when it's introduced, and the problem is further compiled because by the time they are, we've assumed them to know 'these math skills' already and therefore they never truly learn it.

As I type that out, I see some natural flaws with the theory, but I figured what better way to test it than a 'perfectly' scientific survey on the internet.

Anyway I got 94 responses, which seemed decent and here are the average 'math ability scores' for each group.

While the average for fall students was higher than average for spring students, which fits the theory that brain age matters, there are other observations to be made.  Summer (old for grade), was much lower than Summer (young for grade).  I wonder if that's because if that's because Summer (young for grade) students are often considered advanced, and Summer (old for grade) students may be students who were 'held back', whether or not those presumptions were fair they could affect one's math confidence, which was basically what the survey measured.  Also, Winter (any) was by far the highest.   Winter was also not an option on the original survey, which makes me think that the sorts of people who want a more detailed answer on a survey are the sorts of people with high confidence in math.  

When I have time, I may flesh out some of these findings with a more refined survey, that considers more factors.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Marriage Post

There's a thing going around facebook which is a like a 7 Day Marriage Challenge... or I'm not sure exactly, but people post pictures about their marriage for 7 days.  Anyway, I've been 'challenged' at least 3 times now, so I thought I would go in.  I've decided to put my own spin on it though.  hah - gotcha! (jk)

Anyway, I think married life is worth celebrating and can be rather challenging sometimes, so it good to remember why you bothered.  I also think single life is worth celebrating and can be rather challenging sometimes, so it's good to remember why you are bothering.  This has been sort of my crux of participating, so here I go, reinventing things a bit.

Day 1 - Past.
I don't keep it a secret, but naturally something I don't speak to in open company often, but my current marriage is not my first marriage.  Sometimes people regret divorce, but in my case I regret ever getting married in the first place.  I know now the reasons I got into it were based on insecurity and loneliness and so in choosing a spouse, I choose poorly.  And while I could easily vilify my ex, very few men would have been much of a match for me at that point in my life.  It simply wasn't truly what I wanted at that point in my life, which wasn't something I truly knew about me and certainly wasn't comfortable admitting to myself.  

Life goes on, you pick up the pieces and you tell yourself it isn't worth wallowing... and it's not.  You find a career you enjoy, you open yourself up to friendships and eventually love, and you run.... you run and run and run.  I've been applauded for walking away relatively non-jaded, and I know I'm a tough cookie... but I don't discount the struggle it is to live life with regret.  To process that, without hating yourself for it.  It's a challenge to get there, but a worthy one.

This is the only photo I have of the TC 10 mile, the longest I had ever ran at that point in time.  I felt alone, but I had just come farther than I ever had before and that I could keep going without anyone by my side. 

Day 2  - Choice

While I won't bore you with the philosophy, I'm a skeptic to the idea that we actually have true freedom of choice.  That said, I believe a mentally healthy outlook is too feel like you are in control of your own choices and to take ownership.  What a dichotomy!  So to the extent that I can, I believe I choose to be married.  It's something I wanted.  Why I wanted it... is not as easy to pin down.  The shared bank account, tax benefit and double income are certainly benefits, for instance I couldn't afford my home without a partner, but I believe it's more than that.

I like having a best friend, a companion, a cheerleader.  I like someone who understand my problems and gaps and still accepts me as who I am.  I wanted a family... and I don't just mean 'baby'.  I mean children ... and maybe some grandchildren some day, and nieces and nephews and even inlaws.  I wanted a backyard with a firepit to roast marshmallows.  To sit by it with someone who's with you through thick and thin.  I wanted to make coffee for someone in the morning (and I usually do).
The family I gained
Day 3 - Love

I'm guilty of being somewhat of a serial monogamist.  It's not something I like about myself, so I try to embrace it by telling others before they tell me.  ;)  hah! Anyway, I guess you get that point where the 'cult of the new' in dating sort of fades and you are actually looking for worthwhile relationship which seems to not exist.  
I remember vividly the first time I met Matt McCrorey.  He was energetic and interesting, and clearly a lover of life.  He understood things about me and my history that I had trouble explaining to anyone, partially because we had a lot in common, but also because he really listened.  He was also really darn cute ;).  It had been a long time since I felt that excited about anyone... perhaps never.  

Our first picture together

Day 4 - Luck 

I think finding the right person is tough to do.  I honestly think it almost boils down to luck.   I think you can increase your luck by attempting to meet more people, and being open to the possibility, but that's basically the two cards you get.  

Here are just some of the things I'm really lucky to have with Matt
-He's a really hard worker and is exuberant about doing lots of things.  
-He's gone a long for a few crazy rides and supports me though all of the crazy schemes I cook up.  
-He thinks I'm smart and beautiful. (and I know this on my own, but I like being on the same page ;)
-He fixes things around the houses and makes our house a home.  We would live in shambles if it was up to me.  
-He understands more about about me than anyone else.  
-He think it's cool that I'm a feminist (and I think he is one too!)
-He cheers me on at races and even is doing one with me this fall!
-He also fixed my computer so this post is actually possible.

I'm really lucky.
Lucky enough to be kissing this 70s stash! 

Day 5 - Adventure

Matt goes along with my crazy schemes, and cooks up a few himself too. Together, we have traveled across the country, and now the world, helped run a non-profit together, planted a garden, opened up our home to our friends, gone camping, gotten trapped in a blizzard in the Appalachians together, caught the last bus, then train, then bus again to get back to Muenchen, and caught a lot of pokemon!
Sportin Passportin

Day 6 - Heart

Matt's has the biggest heart of anyone I know.  It's sounds cliche I know, but Matt always gives it his all.  Consequently, he's not mild mannered or of soft reproach, but I guess that wouldn't be very interesting.  He maximizes and perfects, and he gets involved.  He wears his emotions on his sleeve, and it's a beautiful thing to live life that fully.  It's something I'll probably never do, but I have had a lot more feeling of the feels since I've been with him, and for that I'm largely grateful.  It's good to not be a robot... sometimes ;) .

Feeling all the feels with my main guy Matty McC

Day 7 - The Future.

As of my first wedding anniversary, this is the longest relationship I have ever been in.  Somehow, I feel this legitimizes something.  It also is a thing that makes me feel old.  #meh  Anyway, everything going forward is uncharted territory, and that's exciting!  My hope for the future is that we go on more adventures, do more crazy stuff, and maybe take a little more time to just relax and enjoy life once in a while.  

Rockin the Mun, and Marriage #winning

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Swimming: weirdly good.

For the last 4 years, I've participated in a triathlon in my local area.  While, I'm not much of a triathlete in general, I really enjoy participating in this particular event.  Here's what I wrote about it on my facebook wall a couple years ago:

Today I saw women who were considered 'too' by societies standard. Too old, too fat, too poor, too boyish, too bossy... but luckily they were all too strong to let that stop them. I saw women dog paddle all 500 m of an open water swim. I saw women her 70s biking 15.5 miles on a dated looking huffy. I saw a visibly pregnant woman running the last leg (a 5K) in. I spoke to a women who had recently dealt with an abusive relationship, and then I saw her pass me on the bike. 
My participation in the YWCA tri has always been a positive one, but today I felt shaken by the influence of these people who weren't living up the expectations that society had chosen for them, and were simply being 'too' awesome! 

Anyway, back to me, myself and I... So Swimming.  Here's the thing, I like to run, and every year a toss in a little time to swim and bike so I can do this tri.  On the bike, I'm as you would expect, mediocre.  However, for the swim, I rank into the top third, which doesn't make me ultra competitive or anything, but that's really pretty good considering the level of effort I put in.

Again, let's compare.  Biking, I hardly do at all, and wind up towards the back.  Running, I pour my heart and soul into and it is a dire fight for mid pack standing.  Swimming, I approach with even more lethargy than biking, and I'm in the top third.  This is such a confounding result that I didn't even notice until late last year, when my dear friend kept mentioning how strong I look out there (thanks J!).  Anyway, I riffled through old results, and yes, I always place the best during the swim.  Even in the year I was running my fastest.

I share all this because I have a theory on it.  My parents weren't real into signing us up for sports, we did between zero and very little of that.  However, we did swimming lessons all the time.  My susceptibility to colds with wet hair in MN winter encouraged us to skip the winter months, but I recall taking swimming lessons at least twice per year most years between the ages of 3ish and if you include school lessons, probably 15.  After that, I didn't do anything serious, but was still spending a lot time in the water at the lake or community pool.  When I signed up for the first triathlon, I didn't think much of knowing how to swim.  My theory is this:  all those early years of swimming ingrained some skill in me that I was easily able to tap back into when I was 26 and looking to try a tri.

The larger point.  I loved swimming lessons as a kid, but I obviously didn't sign up or take myself.  However, I ,quite possibly, am benefiting now.  It's seems like many things are this way, we get rewarded or punished for decisions that were never made by us.  This encourages me to withhold judgement for the performance of myself and others.

It also encourages me to swim more!  hah!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Letting "We are equal" be the beginning, not the end of the conversation.

Growing up, I lived in a community that was incredibly white and wealthy.  I guess that same neighborhood has diversified up a bit in recent years, but in my elementary class I remember one black kid.  This is out of 4, 30 person classes for the entire 1st grade.  I don't think he stayed with us for the whole 6 years of elementary either, which means we were probably down to 0 at one point.

I read the Addy books, and I was taught about the civil rights movement and we honored MLK day and I knew there was a history of poor treatment of black people, but I figured it was all in the past and hardly anyone did stuff like that anymore.

I was pretty darn ignorant, and I stayed with this belief system for quite sometime.

I remember a conversation in high school about interracial marriage, where someone pointed out that there can be a lot of cultural challenges?  What?  This was news to me, because I never knew there were any cultural differences to begin with.

For all of my life, I was taught to believe that black people are equal, the community I grew up fostered this belief the best they knew how.  I don't know anyone I would have to convince that this is true. I think people exist like that out there, but for good or for bad they are not in my sphere of influence.  However, this belief system came from white people with similar experiences is to mine, so naturally it missed a big part of the story.

I missed the experiences that black people have today.

This is to say that the only experiences I saw were the black people I knew on TV.  One was a cop, and one was a doctor and they had families that seemed very similar to ours.  Other than the color of their skin, I figured their lives were exactly the same as mine.  I didn't think about why, if that was the case, were none of them living in my community.  

I wasn't taught about generational poverty, culture, ethnocentrism, oppression.  I wasn't given role models of color, I didn't celebrate traditions that included other histories besides my own.

I think a lot of people are in the boat I use to be in.  They believe all people are equal.  This a great thing to believe, but quite simply not enough.  We need to remove ourselves as much as possible from our own bubble.  We need to hear other people's stories.

It took years and time for me to do that.  I made friends outside my social circle, I listened, I read, and I still have a lot to learn.

Last fall, I remember getting pretty riled up about threats to protest a marathon last fall, but I listened to what people had to say and I realized a marathon cut short is much different than a life cut short.  (Also, only fair to say, they did not do what they threatened)

The BLM tactics don't always make sense to me, but I'm willing to ask myself why that is. I have not lived that oppression, I do not have my own life to fear, I have a lot of resources and education to make change that others may not.  It is my belief that those who have those experiences don't deserve to be evaluate from afar by the mainstream media.  I encourage you to ask these questions.

What are the stories of people involved?  
Alton Sterling and When Black Lives Stop Mattering by Roxane Gay (super awesome and smart lady)
The problem we all live with (2 part series on This American Life Podcast)
A Letter from Black America.

What are the actual goals of the movement?  
The actual demands of the movement may be things you can support.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Not yet 40

I've got over 8 years before I'm 40, but a friend of mine shared this list of facebook of things to do before you are (Sourcing The LIST!).   She seemed to think I was well on my way, so let's evaluate. Also, I tend to think these things are a little silly, and I'm treating it much the same way here!   

1. Fall in love.
Well, I don't really think love is something you fall into, but have I had the whirlwind romance experience and did it mature into some I care about deeply and hope to spend my life with... ?  Yes, I did, and yeah, I'm super fortunate.  
2. Get her heart broken.
Oh yeah, that too.  
3. Find a gyno that doesn’t make her feel like a seventh-grader in sex ed.
Growing up fundamentalist, I skipped sex ed in 7th grade, so really, I have no idea.  
4. Take a solo vacation.
I've gone to places alone, but when I got there I was a part of a group... or visiting someone.  
5. Skinny-dip.
I haven't and I don't honestly know what's in the way of that happening.  I did change in the Y bathroom without holding a up a towel... so that was a step in the right direction.   
6. Try a short haircut (it’s OK if “short” means shoulder-length).
My senior year of highschool... and DONE! 
7. Cook Thanksgiving dinner.
I know all the dishes now, but I've never done them all together by myself.  

8. Perform karaoke.

9. Read Jane Austen.
ehh.. I've tried.  

10. Own a dress she feels stunning in.
Many!  ... Because I always feel stunning, but seriously I have this purple one.  

11. Own a handbag she’s proud to bring to a job interview.
I did recently upgrade my 10 year-old laptop bag, because I began to realize it wasn't super professional.  That said... was I not proud before? Gawd-damnit! I'm proud that bag lasted so long! 
12. Own a toiletries bag that’s more than a Ziploc sack streaked with sunscreen.
yes!  (and honestly, way too many!)
13. Understand her color palette.
Not knowing if there's anything more to understand beyond, I'm pretty Scandinavian but tan well, but I have no confusion there... so DONE! 
14. Have a stance on organized religion.
so so so so DONE! 
15. Have an orgasm. 
Let's just say I'm happily married.  ;) 

16. Operate a power drill.
... and own.  

17. Ride a roller-coaster.
Now I'm sad for everyone who hasn't done this.  

18. Ride a motorcycle (yes, on the back, going six miles an hour counts).
yes... but I'm currently a bit phobic.

19. Sleep outside, in a tent.
Every summer! 

20. Make a presentation in front of 20 people or more.
That is my job.  

21. Tell off a stranger.
maybe... certainly a telemarketer.  

22. Apologize to a stranger.
I've apologized to everyone.  It's a way of life.  

23. Accidentally send an email to the wrong person and then realize that life goes on
Probably, certainly I've made worse mistakes, and came to the same conclusion.  

24. Learn how to knit.

25. Forget how to knit.
not yet... but I've got 8 years! 

26. Decide she’s comfortable with her crafting skills, whatever they may be.
Skills yes, projection completion, maybe not.  

27. Host a dinner party.

28. Know how to order a bottle of wine.
Very comfortable here.  

29. Do something big and selfless for the planet or the people living on it. 
I try... 
30. Vote for a winning president.
Twice!   I also have the distinction of voting for three different parties.  

31. Play the lottery.
yes *sigh* silly math major.  

32. Negotiate a raise.
I've spent the last 7 years working as a part of a union... and it has done that.  so yes! 

33. Start a 401(k).
As in enrolled, but no, I have yet to start a large tax shielded long-term investment fund.  
34. Tell her mother/grandmother/favorite lady mentor just how influential she’s been.
...that's a lot of emoting, but certainly a nice idea.    

35. Help a friend through a difficult time.
I hope so... 
36. Accept a friend’s help during a difficult time.
37. Figure out how to make a house a home.
I got a husband for that!  
38. Grow something green.
See 37.  
39. Salvage something broken.
If by salvage, you mean use, then yes! 
40. Dance like no one’s watching (bonus points if it’s the moonwalk).
Yes, and also, no one was watching.  

Monday, June 6, 2016

Day 1

I started grad school today.  This has been a long time coming.

I have a BS in Manufacturing Engineering, which I got in 2007.   In the summer of 2006 I met up with a bunch of people during my internship who were ... very successful, but also very privileged individuals to put it plainly.  I sort of had a crush on all of them.  They exposed me to to another world of different types of opportunities, that I hadn't really considered myself a part of.  They were all talking about and going to grad school and I felt I was just as smart as them too.  I had wanted to go grad school too, but now it felt more possible.

Then the internship ended, and reality returned.  It seemed then that no one I knew was going to grad school.  My parents were not particularly supportive of the idea either.  I think they saw it as a bit pie in the sky, and a heedless career move.    I didn't give up right away though.  I studied for the GRE... by myself, as no one else I knew was studying for the GRE.  I then took the GRE ... and I got a horrible score.  It actually wasn't that horrible, but I knew it was less than I needed/wanted to get into my preferred program.   My parents appeared to think the phase would now pass, and my friends didn't seem to understand why I was upset about scoring low on a test they didn't care about.

So I sort of gave up.

I still wanted to go though.

I worked as an engineer, and while I did that I learned that people who had grad degrees were given better options in the field.  These jobs were more research focused, which is more akin to what I like to do.  I think a non-grad school guy at Medtronic referred to himself as 'an Engineering Grunt"... and remember that sinking in as the reality when he said it... even though Medtronic was by far the best place I worked.   At this time, I was also realizing that engineering wasn't an ideal fit for me... but I do wonder if I would have felt differently if I had been in a different role, one that grad school might have afforded.

I did apply to and start a grad program in 2008.  Took one class.  The program was a Master's in Career Education.  I stopped taking it because I got married and my life went to shit.  (Condensed version: That marriage ended)

Anyway, 6 plus years ago I started working at a technical college teaching developmental math classes.  In this field it is advantageous to get as much education as possible.  I started thinking that the best option for me would be a Master's in Math because it would afford me certain credentialing, even though I knew my heart was with Education.   In order to get into a Masters in Math program I needed more Math classes, which basically meant getting another bachelor's.  I got my BS in Applied Math in 2015.  By the time I reached the end of that degree I realized that regardless of it's career benefits there was no way I could put myself through a Master's in Math program and remain sane.  Secondarily, I couldn't find a MS. Math program that was funded my institution and fit with my schedule.  So, I settled for a MS in Technology Education that would be funded and met my interests even if not quite on career objectives.  However, the summer before I started to apply, I was informed of a program that would be funded, is online (fits my schedule) and meets the math credentialing.  It's a Master's in Education with Emphasis in Math... finally!  By the way, this whole bit is the condensed version, I have researched dozens of programs before settling on the final verdict.

Also, took the GRE in 2015, and got above 94 percentile in Math and 74 percentile in English... so boo yeah!