Archive for July, 2010

My Sister, Myself and Our Underwear on

My underwear makes a small cameo in the book “Remarkable Trees of Virginia”. Now it has a more prominent placement on! The site shares a slideshow called “Little Girls Across the Country Unleash Their Inner Wonder Woman“. Picture #10 is my sister and myself. Enjoy!

Screenshot - Carolyn and Vicky as Wonderwoman on
Carolyn and I as Wonder Woman

(Hat Tip, Clint!)

July 27, 2010 at 12:33 pm 3 comments

Banking on Disgust

Years ago, I had my own special strategy when I left valuables in my car. I kept a box of tampons in the console between the two front seats. If I had to leave money or jewelry in my vehicle, I would bury it in that box. If anyone wanted to steal from me, they would actually have to touch a tampon to do so.

Now these are unused tampons, of course, but from the faces I have spied on various male acquaintances when their significant others requested a “special pick up” from the grocery store, I was pretty confident the mere notion of a tampon would be deterrent enough.

I was banking on disgust.

A couple of months ago, when hiking Old Rag, our group of hikers ran into a dung beetle.

Old Rag - Beetle with Dung
Dung Beetle at Old Rag

I was actually unaware that dung beetles lived in North America. I had thought they were only found in Africa, when in fact, they inhabit all the continents except Antartica. While reading to rectify my dung beetle misconceptions, I ran across a cute Aesop fable called THE DUNG BEETLE AND THE EAGLE.

Basically, a beetle got pretty darn miffed at an eagle for brutally devouring a hare. To retaliate, the beetle ransacked the eagle’s nest and destroyed all its eggs. The eagle made another nest, this one higher and safer. But never underestimate a grudge! The beetle found that as well and once again the eggs were destroyed. The next time, the eagle had to step up his game. Men are always having to protect their crotches from the likes of irate knees or toddlers with whiffleball bats. So what safer place could there be than the lap of the almighty Zeus himself?!?

So here’s this little beetle. If he wanted to destroy his nemesis’ eggs, he would have to take on the King of the Gods. The King of the Gods! He’s a tiny beetle!!! Zeus is HUGE, not to mention he has a whole arsenal of lightening bolts at his disposal! There was only one thing the beetle could do.

He banked on disgust. 🙂

…he stuffed himself with dung and went straight up to Zeus and flew right into his face. At the sight of this filthy creature, Zeus was startled and leaped to his feet, forgetting that he held the eagle’s eggs inside his lap. As a result, the eggs were broken once again.

— “THE DUNG BEETLE AND THE EAGLE” translated by Laura Gibbs

P.S. It’s all a happy ending, I suppose. I never had anyone infiltrate my tampon box and run off with my jewelry. Meanwhile, Zeus changed the eagle’s nesting season to when the beetle was harmlessly hibernating underground. The eagle’s eggs were safe for centuries. That is…until the beetle finally mastered DDT.

July 19, 2010 at 10:59 am 6 comments

Hearts in Nature: Flamingos

Courtesy to Creative Commons, here are some Hearts in Nature presented by pairs of pink flamingos:

Dance of Love
“Dance of Love” (Photo by Kjunstorm)

“Heart” (Photo by Lex’i’con)

Dearly Beloved
“Dearly Beloved” (Photo by bobdole369)

July 7, 2010 at 8:07 am Leave a comment

RHOK and Programming Stereotypes

Last month, Ryan and I went up to Chevy Chase, Maryland to attend Random Hacks of Kindness (RHOK). The event gathers volunteer developers and tech-geeks together for a weekend of marathon coding in order to knock out projects for non profits.

I highly recommend the event, particularly if you are like me and you work from home. Working late into the night in a room full of diligent developers was nostalgic. Between all the learning and the concentrated productivity (the type of productivity that proceeded meetings and phone calls), it made me feel “young again”… only with much, much better food. 🙂

I did learn an uncomfortable lesson about myself though. When we sat in the opening session, I looked around the room at my fellow developers and found myself surprised.

“Look, you aren’t the only girl,” Ryan whispered.

But I didn’t expect to be the only female programmer. I have worked with plenty of competent and inspiring women in technical positions. I did, however, expect Ryan and I to be far in the upper percentile of “thinness”.

We weren’t. Actually, most everyone in the room was quite fit.

Had I been living in Elizabeth City too long and I expected everyone to have the extra plumpness that I’m told accompanies rural life? Perhaps most of these programmers are from the city where they walk more regularly? Maybe the type of programmers who want to take care of the community are the same type of people who’d take care of their own bodies as well.

Or most likely…. I am victim to a stereotype. When I look back on my career, most of the people I worked with were in good shape. I wonder how it was that I began to think otherwise.


Regardless of the source, the RHOK event shed light on a stereotype I had in my head– one that wasn’t even based on my own experience and observation.

How inaccurate was my perception? Ryan Somma recently authored The n Types of Programmers, a collection of software developer stereotypes on his blog. Each type of programmer is accompanied by a little cartoon… and guess what!

Most of those little guys and gals appear pretty thin as well. 🙂

Ryan Somma’s Programmer Stereotypes are Thin!

July 6, 2010 at 10:43 am 1 comment

On Hitting It Over the Fence

Tonight Ryan and I will be playing tennis, an activity we’ve been squeezing in about once a week lately. Ryan isn’t the first tennis opponent of my adult life. First there was Brian N, then Aaron E, then a different Ryan S and finally Ann. I rarely play actual games, so through the years, I have adopted a different metric to measure my tennis success:

How Many Times Did I Hit It Over the Fence?

Hitting it over the fence deprives you of a ball and it’s also quite embarrassing. A badge of shame. You have so little control, not only did the ball buck the confines of your particular court, it fled the whole tennis area altogether! It may have even crossed a street– that’s how horrible your hit was! So each outing I kept a little tally in my mind and when I finished, I could note my progress, “OOh I only hit it over the fence twice today!” or even better, “I didn’t hit it over ONCE!”

As Ryan and I have slowly improved (please note the slowly), I’ve had a paradigm shift. I noted we weren’t hitting it over the fence willy nilly. It wasn’t, “My serve! OH NOOOoooo!!” The few times we were hitting it over the fence was when we were taking on trickier shots. When we ran for that forehand we knew would be hard to get to or made one last desperate attempt by wacking over the back.

What we were doing was straying out of our comfort zone. We weren’t apathetically sweating and watching the ball bounce by while we caught our breath…at least not on that particular shot. We were going after challenges.

With that in mind, hitting it over the fence doesn’t seem like a necessarily bad thing anymore. It’s certainly not optimal and can still be embarrassing (especially since it seems almost always someone is sitting on their front porch staring in our direction). But at the same time, it shows we’re pushing ourselves.

Bring It On! (Photo by Noise Boy)

So tonight, I hope I do push myself. I hope I DO hit it over the fence at least once.

Preferably just once.

And when no one’s looking. 🙂

July 1, 2010 at 12:15 pm Leave a comment

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