Monthly Archives: July 2016

a morning run

I thought this was an interesting article.  Basically, the author, who takes a cold shower every morning, notes that research supports various benefits to a brief cold shower first thing in the morning but suggests that is not the real reason to do it.

Even though I know all the research, understand the benefits, and feel great every single time I do it (at least immediately afterward), it’s still hard. Not just hard, but really hard. And maybe even a little bit scary, if I think too hard about how it’s going to feel every time I reach for the handle.

The point is that starting your morning by tackling challenges head-on will help encourage similar behavior throughout the day. And, it turns out, there’s a wealth of research to back up this idea as well. People who do hard things first tend to procrastinate less and get more done, according to Brian Tracy’s book, “Eat That Frog.”

I am not a morning person, and I’m not about to start taking cold showers any time soon.  If you’ve never tried it, I bet it’s harder than you think.  I took some ice baths when I was running more (pre-kids), and that was breathtakingly difficult.  Literally breathtaking.  Anyway, for a variety of reasons, I’d really like to start running more again.  The bottom line is that the only practical time to do it is in the morning.  I haven’t run in the morning in a good decade.  At least.  And it’s really, really hard for me to hop out of bed and hit the road.  This article was a really nice piece of encouragement.

reflecting on politics

I saw an interesting suggestion to check your Facebook and see how many supporters the various candidates have in terms of likes for their pages among your friends.  I had to change to the mobile version.  In my case:

9: Hillary Clinton

0: Donald Trump

4: Gary Johnson (Libertarian)

6: Bernie Sanders

0: Ted Cruz

Now, obviously, this is only a small fraction of my FB friends, so it’s probably not very representative.  Nevertheless, I find it interesting that not a one of my FB friends like Trump enough to like his page.  Supposedly, 39% of Americans support Trump, at least to the extent of planning to vote for him.  I have never personally met a Trump supporter.  Not a one!  Have you?  I’ve written on here before that I can understand why some people might like Trump, even if I disagree with them, but I guess I don’t really have any friends that would or do.  (Who might like Trump?  Someone who has lost their job to globalization and otherwise feels left behind in our new global economy and ignored by the Democrats with their focus on social issues and series of trade agreements.)  There are some very conservative folks at work, not surprisingly, but certainly none of them have given any indication of actively liking Trump, though I imagine some of them will vote for him.

Of course, many people who don’t particularly like Trump will hold their nose and vote for him anyway, exposing our country to great peril.  For example, a passionate pro-lifer who really feels that abortion is state-sanctioned baby-murder, may feel compelled to vote for Trump, despite the fact I believe he is really pro-choice at heart.  Why?  The Supreme Court.  There will be a lot of Supreme Court voters on both sides, I would guess, people who dislike both candidates but recognize the stakes.

Really, I feel Hillary cannot lose as long as she keeps her health and avoids major scandal.  Demographics and the mood of the day are in her favor.  But she is not young.  Her VP pick is not perfect, but overall, I think he’s a good choice, and I suppose he would probably be able to step in if she had a heart attack before the election.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Assuming all goes as expected and Hillary wins in a landslide, what happens next?  I vaguely remember Democrats getting trounced in elections, but I don’t remember them completely reinventing themselves.  They may have done so, and I was just too young to notice.  Remember Dukakis?  He lost badly.  Trump may lose even more badly.  But what is the right path for the Republicans?  I’d suggest that the party might collapse, but again, both parties have gone through hard times before, and they seem to be able to evolve and become successful again.


a little rant on biology

I was pondering privilege at the playground today and wondering if there is such a thing as male privilege, and if so what it is.  I concluded that it does exist and is overwhelmingly biological.  If a man wants to have genetic children, he can do so without going through pregnancy or delivery.  I realize that pregnancy affects people differently and that I struggled with it more than most, but still, what an incredible privilege.  My female readers, imagine being able to have a child without facing a C-section or an excruciating vaginal delivery.  Without facing the prospect of throwing up nearly daily for three months.  Imagine being the proud parent of two children without 18 months of weight gain and discomfort or pain and heartburn and acid reflux and so on.  Without having had to interrupt all your interests and hobbies and athletic activites.  I could go on, but you get the point.

Sometimes I ponder what it means to be a woman and whether I’m happy being a woman.  Usually I conclude that I’m not exactly sure what it means to be a woman, but whatever it is, I am very happy being female.  I wouldn’t want to be a man.  Except.  Except for the pregnancy part.  I can see trading genders merely to avoid that problem.

I was pondering today also the recommendation from the AAP that one breastfeed exclusively for six months.  Six months!  I did this with both my children, and I honestly can hardly believe it.  In black and white it seems crazy – that one should be the sole source of nutrition for another human, around the clock, for six months.  It is impossible to do such a thing without major disruption to one’s career and life.  Of course, many women use formula partially or entirely, but the fact remains that our government recommends breastfeeding.  Exclusively.  For six months.  When combined with the standard 12 weeks of maternity leave that is typical for professional women – and the even more meager benefits other women get – it’s crazy.  But I’m not sure it would be better if the government were to say give 6 months paid leave so that women could fulfill the AAP’s recommendation.  While I support more leave in the general sense, I’m not sure I support the government overtly forcing the issue of the six months of exclusive breastfeeding, especially since the evidence to support this (as opposed to some breastfeeding) is rather tenuous.

I realize that there is institutional sexism and various challenges women face, but for me personally, these pale in comparison to biology.  Yes, it was tough being the first female engineer at my company.  It was annoying being the only woman in my group for a decade and often feeling like I represent my entire gender when I open my mouth.  But, this is insignificant compared to the trial of pregnancy, childbirth, and around-the-clock breastfeeding.

jane austen characters

I have been re-reading an watching the various Austen books and movies.  Not all – but Pride and Prejudice (book, mini-series and movie), Sense and Sensitibility (book, mini-series and movie), Emma (book and mini-series), and Mansfield Park (movie).  I spent some time pondering which of the characters I might be most like . . .


Elizabeth – sensible, clever and witty, and beautiful.  kind of perfect.

Jane – beautiful and good, if a bit boring

Mary – ugly, accomplished, but utterly lacking in tact and taste

Lydia – a hopefully, foolish flirt without any sense


Elinor – emininently sensible, ever observant of decorum to a fault.  ethical.

Marianne – loves without reserve or sense.  not very discrete.


Emma – Mostly oblivious to men and not very perceptive about them in general.  Good-hearted, tasteful, talented, smart.

Jane Fairfax – Excessively reserved and shy.  Talented and diligent.

Harriet Smith – Easily influenced, read to fall in love with any man at a friend’s suggestion or slight indication of interest

I can see a little of myself in a lot of these characters, some good, some bad.  Mary from P&P is a little too close for comfort.  I flatter myself that I have a little Elizabeth, too.  Overall, though, I think I’m most like Marianne.  When I was younger, I loved impetuously and without caution, resulting in many a broken heart.  At the end of the day, I think that lack of caution certainly helped me end up with H.

So which Jane Austen female are you?  I feel I should do a follow-up post for picking the male we’re most like.



vocabulary size

According to this, my English vocabulary size is 30325.

★★★ Top 0.01%
You are Shakespeare! You can even create new words that will expand the English dictionary.
How about you?  I’m guessing most of my friends will get a similar result.  My husband informs me that I don’t speak like a normal person.  He says he’s used to it.  Anybody else get accused of this?

ten books

Obviously, I can’t resist Sarah’s book challenge!  From her page: “In your status line, list 10-12 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be ‘right’ or ‘great’ works, just ones that have touched you.”

These aren’t the best ten books I’ve ever read, but I stayed true to the meme, and they’re the first ten that jumped to mind.  They cover my favorite themes – feminism, our beautiful planet, foreign lands, immigration, and motherhood.

The Blind AssassinWhere the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing PredatorsNothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North KoreaEuphoriaThe Poisonwood BibleHistory of the RainCloud AtlasSnow Falling on CedarsPlainsong (Plainsong, #1)The Namesake