Men’s Workplace Behavior Rules

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An op-ed piece by Cathy Young in the L. A. Times prompted me to come up with some men’s workplace behavior rules.  The conclusions Ms. Young reached seemed to accept that boorish behavior is just something men can’t stop.  There’s always going to be a few that don’t get how truly rude and coarse their comments and behaviors are.

Her article prompted me to write to the Times.   It was published.  I’ve written a half dozen letters to the Times, and about half have gone in to print.  I’m happy so many people will get the benefit of all my wisdom.  [happy face emoji here]

Letter to the Editor Rules for Men

Letter to the Editor


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Cataclysms sound apocalyptic.    Fires, hurricanes, earthquakes.  All natural cataclysms that have dreadful impacts on society.  But, the recent announcement of a cosmic cataclysm involving gravitational waves and electromagnetic waves reminds me that there are “good” cataclysms, and they are important. My Twitter feeds about current events–politics–can be discouraging.    But there are dedicated scientists who have decided to just get on with their work, regardless of the chaos our “leader” is creating.

Researchers from around the world discovered (confirmed) something new in our universe–a “kilonova.”

I’ve had just a passing interest in the stars. My genealogy, history and geology have always been more interesting to me.  But this new discovery does have something to do with our geology.  The event is where silver, gold and other minerals on earth are from.  It’s about us.

Explaining the event so even I can understand it (a little) also interests me.  Graphically presenting a difficult subject is an art.  This video explaining the new discovery is not just educational, it is a work of art.

Cosmic Catalysms

Artist’s illustration of two merging neutron stars. Credit: NSF/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet

When things seem to be spiraling out of control, and the threat of a cataclysm involving nuclear warheads is in the headlines, reading about what scientists find–no matter the area of study–gives me hope.  I’m not sure why.  It just seems like they’re above the fray, and have higher goals.  Their work is overshadowed by politics in the media. But my science alerts remind me there are bigger things in this world than politics.

Cataclysms:  Science versus Politics

I’m rereading (listening to) Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything.”  He introduces the curious and dedicated people over the centuries whose work has led to the current new discovery.  The kings and queens, the politicians, over those same centuries have added almost nothing to our knowledge. Forgetting the current unimportant blowhards and remembering the people and their discoveries keeps me hoping there will be solutions to the problems those egomaniacs create.

Peer Mediation for Hollywood

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When I worked in the counseling office of a middle school (6th-8th grades), the school implemented a peer mediation program.  Eighth graders were trained to mediate a grievance between two other students.

Over the three years I ran the program, we mediated over 300 sessions.  The pattern was simple.  The person with a grievance completed a request for a mediation.   It included the name of the other person, and what the problem was.  When in the mediation, the aggrieved party said “I feel _____________ when you _____________.  The next time please [fill in the action that would be acceptable].

The real magic happened when the person behaving badly had to repeat back how the other person felt, what he/she was doing to cause that feeling, and what was expected the “next time.”

The two signed a form that committed the mediation to paper, and that was that.  In all the mediations I oversaw, not one was a repeat.

What would happen if peer mediation came to Hollywood.

Imagine, say, George Clooney and Emma Thompson as the peer mediators.

An actress requests a mediation with Harvey Weinstein, completing the form:

I feel violated and disrespected when you put your hands on me and make sexual innuendos and advances.  The next time I would like you to behave professionally and treat me with respect, and keep your hands to yourself and not make sexual innuendos and advances.

In the mediation, the actress reads her feelings, experience and expectations to Weinstein, who must repeat back:

You feel violated and disrespected when I put my hands on you and make sexual advances.  The next time you would like me to behave professionally and treat you with respect, and keep my hands to myself and not make sexual innuendos and advances.

Think about it.  Weinstein doesn’t get to hide behind nondisclosure settlements.  His money doesn’t buy a pass to allow him to do it again.  There would be no explaining or justifying of behavior.  He is shamed before his peers by hearing how his behavior makes another person feel, then having to repeat it back.

By the way, this “Hollywood” mediation would be confidential among the four parties involved.  It would not be a prelude to or could be a part of any lawsuit.  It is about having an accuser being heard, and the accused having to repeat (if not internalize) the other person’s feelings.

Going back to a middle school mediation

I had a flurry of sixth grade girls request a mediation with a single boy in their class.  He was cute and they liked him, but he was making fun of them, and they didn’t like it.

Two mediations were held with him over a lunchtime.

The next day, two more mediations were held.  After the last one, I told him I had six more girls who requested mediations.  He said, “I get it, I get it.  I won’t do it anymore!”

Over the next few days, I checked in with the girls whose mediations had yet to be held, and they said they didn’t need it anymore.  He was very nice now, and they didn’t want to make him feel “bad.”

Simplistic for Hollywood?

Perhaps.  But shame and accountability could be much more powerful than a lawsuit.  If all the Hollywood celebrities who have been incensed by Weinstein’s behavior worked to establish a “Hollywood” peer mediation program, I believe it could put a stop to the Weinsteins in their midst.

Picking out the right pumpkin

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When I was growing up, pumpkins came from the grocery store. There were three pumpkins, each carved by its owner. When Kate was growing up, it was grocery store pumpkins for her as well.

Ellie at the Pumpkin Farm, October 7, 2017

Ellie at the Pumpkin Farm

But these days, it’s places like Longneck Pumpkin Farm, where picking out a pumpkin is only part of the fun. Rides and activities have been added.

Ellie at Longneck Pumpkin Farm

With no kids at home, there are no Jack O’ Lanterns here.   In the past, I have bought  small ones for decoration, but no large ones for carving.  Walt was our premier pumpkin carver.  And at his previous firms, the employees held contests to see whose Jack-O-Lantern was the best.

In case you were wondering, the Irish brought the pumpkin carving tradition to America.

Ellie at Longneck Pumpkin Farm


Ellie at Longneck Pumpkin Far

“I’m going to be a scientist”

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That’s what my granddaughter said when I asked her what she wanted to be for Halloween.  I asked what kind of scientist, and suggested a few:  a geologist, and she could put rocks in her pocket; a microbiologist, and she could carry her microscope in her bag to show people; a veterinarian, and she could carry a stuffed animal.  She thought the last idea was a good one.  It may change over the next three weeks, but  that’s the choice now.

I wondered if she would be a bat, wearing the costume I made for her mother, complete with sequined wings and a head covering with bat ears  Her class had been studying bats, and I thought for sure she’d want to take the opportunity to be one.  Nope.  A scientist.

Every year I made a costume for my daughter.  I still have The Rainbow Bright one.  It had to be the most complicated.  I think there were 45 pattern pieces.  My daughter had a friend who was an only child, and so I collaborated with the mom, and we divied up the various pieces (top, leggings, arms) and each of us sewed two, making the project go faster.

But that was 30 years ago, when there were no costumes at Costco.  Now, I couldn’t buy the fabric for less than the costumes available in so many stores.  Those patterns in my drawer (some used, some not) may remain untouched, and tossed after I’m gone.

My friend, Joyce, posted a terrific read on Halloween.  I especially liked her description of her mother’s efforts for prize-winning costumes.

Halloween Prep

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Being the mother of only one child, I tended to think everything she did was worth saving.  After she got past kindergarten, I became more selective.  But those special crafts in the early years were SO important, I kept them.  She, of course, is settled and living in Colorado Springs in her own home.  During a recent visit, I gifted her with most of the precious art I kept for her.

Ellie with her mom’s kindergarten Halloween crafts.

Her daughter decided that some of her Halloween crafts should be decorating their walls.  So, for the next month, five-year-old Kate crafts decorate five-year-old Ellie’s home.

Her first cult

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Ellie joining Daisies in September 2017.

My daughter doesn’t take things quite as seriously as I did.  Thus, her comment when she sent the photo:  “Awwww, her first cult.”

Ellie called to tell me she was now in Daisies.  She also showed me her vest and said her mom was going to sew her troop numbers on it.  She urged her mom to do it that evening.  Her mom said she would do it tomorrow.  Unconvinced of her mother’s commitment, Ellie made her “pinky promise” to do it.  On Saturday, the vest was duly ornament.

This is Kate nearly 30 years ago.

Kate with her fellow girl scouts at 8. She’s in the rear at the left.

“I Saw It on TV?

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My granddaughter is learning about money. My daughter has worked steadily since she was 16, earning her own money and becoming a competent adult. After graduating from UCSD, she moved to Colorado, married, had a daughter and divorced. All along the way she maintained financial stability. She paid off her college loans, settled her assets with her ex-husband relatively amicably, and bought a modest home for herself and her daughter. She developed a sense of independence that she wants to pass along to her daughter. She’s in the “one and done” crowd, so my only granddaughter is going to benefit from her wisdom.

She read up on how to teach children about handling money, and found a sensible plan. Ellie will get four dollars (she’s four, and her allowance will go up a dollar every year) and she has $2 to spend, $1 to give/donate, and $1 to save. This, apparently, has opened new doors for her four-year-old. She will go to the store, see something she wants, and ask her mother if she has enough to buy it. Her mother will say yes or no, but if it is yes, then it may mean Ellie will have no more money for spending. The few times this exchange has happened, Ellie decides NOT to buy whatever has caught her fancy. She delays her gratification. No arguments. No pleading. Just acceptance. She has control, and she decides if it’s worth it or not.

So when I was on Face Time with her the other day, and she was doing a craft I hadn’t seen before, she told me she “saw it on TV,” and wanted it. She saved her money, bought it, and was now happily enjoying making art with little beads. Two weeks later, she told me she wanted a watch. I wasn’t sure what kind, but she said it had lots of things it could do, and she “saw it on TV.”

As far as I know, she gets to watch children’s movies on an iPad or on a television set, but not commercial TV. I think both her parents have that rule. But she plays at other children’s homes, and somewhere along the line, she’s exposed to the commercials targeting children.

As much as it would be nice to block access to all that (and I know my in-laws did just that with their boys when they were growing up in the ’70’s-’80’s–NO television in the home), Ellie will see commercials for the rest of her life, and be tempted with all sorts of products that will promise fun and happiness. Her mother is preparing her for that world by teaching her how to handle money. As she gets older, I’m sure there will be broader discussions of wants and needs, but for now, she’s allowing her to learn to delay instant gratification, and decide what is and isn’t worth spending her money on.

As an aside, she’s also learning chores and her allowance are unconnected. Chores are a part of life, and she learns to pitch in to make the home livable.

I’m proud of both of them.

Learning Curve

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The first automated word processer I used was in 1972.  It was an IBM Mag Card “Selectric” Typewriter.  A single page was stored on a Mylar-based magnetic card.  The cards were stacked, and printed from the typewriter.

The technology amazed me.  I was the technical typist for a research and development firm in Denver, and I started using this marvelous machine to “type” tanks (x’s and o’s typed in the shape of a tank, with the o’s indicating the vulnerability).

Fast forward to 1982, and my husband at the time was going to be an author.  He needed a computer.  I remember sitting at the dining room table reading the manual, and not getting any results.  I don’t know how many hours I attempted to open that computer, but I finally did, after discovering that the period at the end of the sentence was NOT a part of the entry.

I’ve continued to work on computers and laptops, learning DOS, the various Microsoft operating systems, and even an Apple database program that I used at a middle school when I was a guidance tech.

All the technology and programs were puzzles.  And now I’m tinkering with this website.  It’s a huge learning curve, but fun.

So this website is not focused on any one area of my life.  It reflects my interests, in all their various stages.