Thursday, April 30, 2009


I am now the proud owner of 100 pages of sheer drivel.

(You see, I say that... out loud. But, inside my head, I like what I wrote. Most of it. And I think it could go somewhere. After some editing... or something.)

Woot for me!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Blogging for #FairPay

I must confess, I didn't know the story behind Lilly Ledbetter. I had heard her name in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, but that would be it. If you don't know either, go read her story here.

To find out more about the Fair Pay Campaign here, and be sure to check out all the nice linky-links they have for you to click. Also check out the Feminist Majority Foundation's article on Equal Pay Day. You might also want to read this blog post, which is much better than the rambling drivel you will encounter below.

I feel a little silly blogging about equal pay, because my job actually does have equal pay. We have a chart, voted on by the school board (months after we sign out contract), that says how much we get paid, based on how many years we've taught. It has nothing to do with job performance; just the number of years you have survived in the trenches. Therefore, a guy with 5 years of experience is going to make the same amount as a girl with 5 years of experience.

Many aspects of teaching stink, but at least we have job security (a nice commodity in a recession) and equal pay.*

When I was interviewing for my first job, I interviewed with two districts. One had offered me a job first, but I really wanted to work at the other district. My step-dad told me to use the first job offer as leverage with the second district, to get the second district to offer me more money. I tried to explain to him that education didn't work that way, that I was not going to find out my salary until sometime in August (I was interviewing in March/April).

I don't get to ask for a raise. I get a raise based on the district's taxes, or lack thereof. If there is money, I get a raise whether I deserve it or not. (If I were to stay in this district, I'd get a pretty hefty raise next year because they're desperate for teachers and are hoping to attract employees with a higher paycheck.)

The point to all this? There are two: A) my work is not rewarded; nobody cares if I do a good job or not, I'd still get paid the same. But that's not related to today's topic, so we won't harp on that today. B) I may not get to ask for a raise when I do a good job, but you do.

I'll be the first to admit I'm rather ignorant about this topic (again, then why did I sign up to blog for it? Because that's how I roll); part of the reason for that is because this particular issue does not affect me directly (yet). However, my ignorance and inexperience is not going to stop me from mouthing off about it, and saying something that might ruffle quite a few feathers.

Ladies, part of this wage difference might be our own fault.

GENERALLY (not always), women tend to be reluctant to toot their own horn. Men have no problem singing their own praises, especially successful business men (that's how they got where they are, after all). This becomes a problem when performance evaluations come up: your male colleague will tell the evaluator about all the great things he has done (sometimes taking credit for a team's or coworker's efforts) and why he deserves a raise; while you will, generally, try to be polite, modest, and not come across as conceited, so you will downplay compliments, attribute your success to the team's efforts, etc.

We tend to be uncomfortable selling ourselves, so when it's time to decide who gets a raise, or how much of a raise, the guy, who did a stellar job of selling himself and demonstrating what a valuable asset he is to the company, will get a beefy raise. The woman, who prefers to just get the job done without drawing extra attention to herself, work behind the scenes, and who presentr herself more as a "team player" instead of a strong leader, is not going to seem as valuable to the evaluator, so she won't get the same raise.

When women try to be more aggressive and straightforward, when we try to talk "like men," we get tagged as "a bitch" or "a ball-buster." (Uh... Hillary, anyone? HOW DARE SHE HAVE OPINIONS AND SPEAK UP!)

I'm scared to say too much on the subject, because it's a touchy one and I'm not the expert. For a quick intro, read this article by Deborah Tannen. For the full thing, read her book Talking from 9 to 5, about how men and women communicate in the workplace. FASCINATING READ.

(As she says in the article, not ALL MEN follow those patterns and not ALL WOMEN do either, but a large part of what she says is true for a large part of men and women, and our society. Being aware of these communication differences -- and biases -- is taking a huge step toward improving communication and being heard.)

I know these communication differences are not the only reason for the discrepancy in pay between men and women. But there's something to it: we women need to speak up about this more. Things like Equal Pay Day are a good start, but "act locally." Ask for that raise. Make sure your boss knows how much he needs you and what an asset you are. Toot your own horn, often.

We have to fight for these things, locally and globally. They're not just going to give it to us because it's the right thing to do. (Yes, it is sad. But we do have to convince them.)

Call your Senators and urge them to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act! Sign up to receive alerts and updates from the National Women's Law Center, so you know what's going on and what you can do about it. Talk about this at the water cooler! We need to ask for what we want, out loud.

Here ends today's rant. I'll leave you with a few bullet points (from NWLC), just for fun:
  • Today, Equal Pay Day, marks the point in 2009 when the avg woman’s wages finally catch up with those paid 2 the avg man in 2008
  • It takes women in the U.S. almost 16 months to be paid as much as men were paid in a year.
  • Women in the U.S. are still paid only 78¢ for every dollar paid to men.
  • Urge your Senators to vote YES on the Paycheck Fairness Act:
  • See what the wage gap is for women in your state:

*That is, if you don't take into consideration the stipends coaches get... I have no info on those, but A) coaches tend to be male (yes, even for girls' sports) and B) FOOTBALL. How much do the seventeen FOOTBALL coaches make, as opposed to the girls' basketball coach? (Remember, this is TEXAS.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

If I may clarify a few misconceptions about pregnancy

I don't know if you caught this story: Line of text in abortion bill draws political line in the sand / (from Monday). Several items about this bill made my head explode.

Under Senate Bill 218, a woman seeking an abortion must be informed at least 24 hours before the procedure that, “The abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
"Separate"? Really? "Separate"??

Has Kansas developed some new technology where fetuses can now be grown in portable uteri that a woman can carry around, like a purse? Or do women in Kansas actually have exterior uteri, that they can detach from their bodies? How exactly do you pretend to claim the fetus is separate from the woman, when the one is ATTACHED TO THE INSIDE of the other?

If it were indeed a "separate" human being, WE WOULD NOT BE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION. You would simply separate the fetus from the woman; I guess she would just drop her portable uterus off at the nearest church or fire station or crisis pregnancy center, and some rabid pro-lifer could take care of it until it was ready to be born from the portable uterus-purse.*

GET THIS THROUGH YOUR PEA-BRAINED HEADS, PEOPLE: the fetus is NOT a separate entity. It is a parasite living inside the woman. Many women welcome this parasite, so we call it a baby. But when the woman does not want it, DUE TO THE FACT THAT IT IS INSIDE OF HER AND A PART OF HER, she has the right to remove it before it causes her any pain or hardship, physical or emotional. And you know who gets to decide that? THE WOMAN.

Oh, but folks, there's more:
[Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said] "[...]I think the real question is, why would these facts not be presented to a woman about to make the most important decision of her life?”
Excuse me, Mr. Schuttloffel, but where the h3ll do YOU get off telling ME what "the most important decision of my life" is?

NEWSFLASH: My sole purpose in life is NOT to make babies. Same goes for every other woman out there.

I know this might be confusing to someone like you; your brain seems to be especially tiny, but just because God gave us the ability to make babies inside our bellies it does not necessarily mean that this is the only thing we can or should do with our lives. We can do a great many things, really. If you took the time to open your eyes and look around you, you would see all the things we women can do. It's astounding!

Let's see if I can explain it another way... let me think... Oh! Let's try this: Mr. Schuttloffel, your body is designed to poop. You have a colon, and, sometime after you eat and digest, poopy comes out of it. Your body is made to poop. However, does this mean that your only purpose in life is to poop? That "the most important decision of your life" is when or where to poop? No! SO STOP POOPING ON MY RIGHTS.

Can you even fathom the amount of important decisions I make in my life? Because there are quite a bit of important decisions. Because I do lots of things with my life. And I have to make decisions about pretty much all of them. Mind-boggling!

And, because, good Heavens, how can we accept silly women to take responsibility for their choices? I mean, we women are just silly little things who truly cannot be trusted to THINK or DECIDE anything! Therefore, ladies, for our own good, we need this:
If a girl or woman later believes her late-term abortion was illegal, she, her husband or parents could sue the doctor who performed the abortion for damages under the measure.
Yes, you SHOULD sue the doctor for performing a medical procedure YOU REQUESTED. And your parents of husband should definitely have the right to sue the doctor for you, because Lord knows you silly thing can't make decisions for yourself! Silly girl or woman! How on Earth could you possibly be expected to know what is best for you?

I don't have words for how STUPID and INSULTING this is. REALLY??? Are you EFFIN' SERIOUS???

Now I'm just yelling. Because I'm at a loss.

I'm also at a loss about "women who say they consented to having abortions after being told the fetus was a mass of tissue." Look, ladies, if you are too stupid to comprehend what pregnancy is and how it works, then you have no business bringing children into this world. A fetus is a mass of tissue. It's a mass of tissue growing inside of you. Really? You don't know how this works? A fetus is a mass of tissue that, if everything goes the way it's supposed to, will grow inside of you until it's ready to come out of your uterus as a baby. Was this really news to you?

I know we're slowly emerging from the fog of abstinence-only education, but seriously?

Ladies, it's your body. It is your responsibility to educate yourself about how your body works and what happens to it, even if the legislature won't let schools educate you. Walk into any Planned Parenthood and ask them to help you, they're pretty good about that whole "education" thing. Don't be stupid, and don't be helpless. You're embarrassing the rest of us, but worse, you're seriously hurting our cause. The fight is hard enough as it is; fight with us, not against us.

*At which point that same rabid pro-lifer would then hold a tea party rally to denounce the tax dollars the government is spending to raise this welfare child. But I digress...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Epic #AmazonFAIL of 2009, the aftermath

You'd figure after such a brouhaha, Amazon would be all over damage control, sending out formal apologies, giving out free copies of the de-ranked books, something. Apparently... not so much.

So it was a little glitch. Oops! And Amazon employees were yanked from their family Easter festivities to find the problem, which "didn't take much digging" to figure out. But they couldn't issue any sort of statement, or switch that one little tag from "true" back to "false", until late Monday afternoon? Really?

Have we even received an "official" response to the situation yet? All I've read are these "unofficial comments" from Unnamed Source. I guess this is an "official response." Posted Tuesday morning. If I'd ordered a book Sunday it would have gotten to me faster than that, wouldn't it have? Maybe they should put their shipping department in charge of PR.

Several people are unimpressed with the whole affair, and the explanation. Such as Jane at Dear Author, and Sara at SmartBitches (where Tasha, in the comments, makes a good point: "I would be more likely to believe this was a simple error that resulted in mass de-ranking had there been a mass re-ranking when the error was reversed." I didn't go on Amazon to do any searches myself yesterday or today [don't want to give them more business, still miffed with them], but if what she says is true, the "flipped the wrong switch" story doesn't hold much water, does it?)

Richard Nash has some thought-provoking things to say about the mess.

So does Vroman's Bookstore.

Interesting to note, while the GLBT community was affected the most and was the most vocal about it, their books were not the only ones affected. Which brings us back to Richard Nash's point, doesn't it?

I don't have much to add. Just felt I should update on the situation, and I had lots of linkies to share. I hope they make sense, because my brain is tired and I feel very disconnected from the blogosphere. I haven't had time to read any blogs (that were not tagged #amazonfail), and the six weeks ends Friday and I'll be out Thursday and Friday and I have quizzes to grade and two tests to create and lesson plans for two days to invent and other random grading to catch up on and instead I'm here, writing this. So I hope that explains the discombobulation.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Epic #AmazonFAIL of 2009

Yesterday (Easter Sunday) I was, indeed, hiding under a rock. Freddy and I went to church, then to his mom's house to do the Easter thing with the nieces and nephew. I was a good girl and did not take my laptop*. ALAS! I log on to Twitter this morning and find out I indeed missed quite a bit of brouhaha.

Quick run-down of the events: Why did gay books disappear from Amazon?

Why the "glitch" story doesn't really click: David Niall Wilson: Glimpses Into an Overactive Mind - Amazon Sales Rank and Some Reality

What to do about it: Smart Bitches - Amazon Rank and Dear Author - Amazon Rank

Or, if you're so inclined, here's something else you can do: Jackson Pearce's Amazon FAIL (or: Twilight Made Me Gay)

Other good posts (this list will be updated as I find more links. And find the ones I already read, but closed the window before I realized I needed to blog about it):

After Ellen - What Amazon's "Glitch" Says About American Pop Culture

Narcissistic Ramblings... - And ANOTHER Fail Sister: #amazonfail

Urban Dictionary: Amazon rank

[EDIT] - Amazon Fail: Certain "adult" books (like mine) are de-ranked

[EDIT 2] Neil Gaiman - Amazonfail Sunday


This guy claims he did it. I don't understand all that code-speak, so here's the explanation in layspeak (from Fiction Matters).

The guy quite clearly has an issue with gay people. I can't tell how much of his post is serious, and how much is him trying to be funny (I'm not going to waste time out of my life to find out). Was he just trying to pull some prank on the gay community? Was he out to target authors (gay and straight)? Did he really find Heather Has Two Mommies that offensive?

Did he choose which books people "flagged"? Or did people choose the books? If the guy chose the books, why are feminist books and books that deal with disabilities also being targeted?

And as I was writing this, FictionMatters updated the post, because this guy says the first guy is a liar (which is not entirely surprising to me). I started to read the post, but it speaks a language I do not understand. So I stopped, since I prefer not to pursue fruitless endeavors.


And there's more! Jessica Valenti from Feministing (who's had two books de-ranked) has an update, after her editor spoke to an Amazon rep.


There seems to be an "unofficial official" response from Amazon. FictionMatters has a summary and links to the "unofficial official" explanations.

* I took my AlphaSmart, in case Script Frenzy inspiration hit me. (It didn't.) But I left all Internetzed devices at home.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Can you lay-off pregnant women?

Do pregnant women deserve special treatment when it comes to lay-offs?

Laid Off – and Pregnant - The Blogs

Let's think about this.

Who's going to suffer if the woman does not get proper pre-natal care? Who requires massive amounts of pre- and post-natal care?

Remember that whole potential child inside that woman?

The woman herself, no, she doesn't deserve any "special treatment." But the baby inside of her does. That potential baby (and actual baby, once it's born) requires massive amounts of medical care, and in our country, medical care is tied to your job. No job = no insurance = no doctor because how in the world are you going to afford it?*

Laying off a pregnant mother is not like laying off an expectant father. An expectant father doesn't look pregnant. Because he's not pregnant. He can still work through the pregnancy and the birth. Yes, he'll want some time off, but he can manage working through it much better than the mother can. He's also not going to be breastfeeding for the first year after the baby is born. (Guys, I love ya, but IT'S NOT THE SAME FOR YOU.)

All the points brought up in that post are true: you think you're going to be given a fair interview when you walk in preceded by that belly? And where are you going to get the money to pay for your six weeks of maternity leave when you were hired three months ago?

(PS: read the comments. I think I'm moving back to Chile. Or President Obama needs to take a trip down there and have a little chat with Bachelet about maternity leave and such.)

*And please keep in mind that is only if you are lucky enough to work for a large enough company that can provide you with medical insurance (not the case for my darling husband, though he works full-time); or that you work for an ethical enough company that they will give you full-time work so you can qualify for benefits instead of consistently scheduling you for just a few hours short of FT...

Monday, April 06, 2009

I Know You're There, God. (It's Me, Criss.)

I've always known You were there. It's always been a given. However, I didn't always feel I could talk to You, or ask You for help.

That's one of the things that struck me about Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret: here was this girl who "didn't have" a religion, because one parent was Catholic and the other Jewish and they raised her as neither, but she had a much closer connection to You than I did. She talked to You all the time, and asked You stuff... and I didn't.

Then again, the Catholic Church isn't that keen on us talking to You directly. They want us to talk to You through them -- we go to confession and tell them what we did, and they tell us if You forgive us or not*. We're supposed to go to them to find out what the Bible says, instead of reading it for ourselves.

They also told me other stuff, that I'm sure they didn't mean to sound the way it came out. Perhaps they weren't counting on a 10-year-old trusting them and believing them so faithfully... who knows. Either way, they told me that You didn't like when people "put God in the closet, with moth balls, and only took Him out when they needed something." I didn't want to be one of those people. So I was scared to take You out of the closetand ask You for anything.

I didn't think I could talk to You.

I've started to get over that. This crisis has helped a lot. I have known for a while now (since I joined the Lutheran Church) that You don't hate me, and that You're not going to send me to hell. That's not the way You work; it just doesn't make sense.

I've known for a while now that I can talk to You, and that You like to hear from me. (And others.) But it was still hard. That shy-girl part of me, and the years of Catholic rule, still made me think I was not worthy of asking You for help.

But I can ask You for help now. And I know You are helping me. I know You're there.

Like this morning, when Unpleasant Student said goodbye to me in her snippy, unpleasant way, but You made me say, "Bye, have a good day" automatically, in an honest, pleasant tone, and then You let it just roll off.

You do have a twisted sense of humor sometimes, though. I guess being around for all Eternity would lead to quite a bit of boredom. Which is why the pen I grabbed this morning was leaking ink, staining my fingers black for the rest of the day (because it had to be during first period, didn't it?) And why somebody decided to slam my door shut during the passing period, who knows why (at least it was before my conference period, so I didn't need the door to be open). And why seventh period decided to -- well, You know. You were there.

I've been doing a lot of talking to You lately, but I've also been trying to listen. It's hard. I sure wish You weren't so cryptic.

Patience has never been one of my virtues. Neither has listening (who, me? Loudmouth? Bossy? ... Well, yeah). But I'm trying... I'll figure it out one of these days. (You'll help me, right?)

Thanks for chatting with me. And for, You know, being there.

*PS: they told me You did not. I know now that You don't work the way they told me You did, but I'm still bitter about it. I mean, who tells a 10-year-old she's going to hell???

Saturday, April 04, 2009

WAG #6: Overheard

She's back! (Don't get too excited... don't know how long it'll last.)

This weeks assignment: Another people-watching exercise this week! This time, let’s listen! Choose a stranger and do your best to overhear what they say, and then write it down. It can be on the phone, to someone else, or even them talking to themselves. What does their voice, word choice, or tone tell you about them? Feel free to write their exact words OR write it as you would for fictional dialogue. By now you guys know the rules aren’t what’s important, but the experience!

I'm kind of cheating. I hadn't read the assignment for this week (since I'd slacked off for two weeks, it was depressing to read others' stuff), but I overheard a good conversation this morning. After reading the assignment, I'm going to do my best from memory.

Today is parent conference day. Not for our students, but for our homeroom kids; we're discussing next year's schedule and blah-blah. Not the most fun way to spend your Saturday, but I'm getting paid. And, as you can see, there is a lot of free time.

The teacher next to me had a conference right after my first left. I was catching up on Twitter, but my ears perked up when I heard her say, "First, Student, I have a question for you. Why didn't you go to the office yesterday when I sent you?"

Wow. This was much more involved than I was planning on being with any of my students. (Honestly, half of them? I don't know their names.)

I didn't eavesdrop on the whole conversation, but the father's voice drifted from her table to mine several times. I liked the dad's voice -- it was firm, no-nonsense, tough.

"You call her Ms. Teacher, not 'her.' Her name is Ms. Teacher. She's not one of your friends, one of those girls you hang out with -- you don't talk about her that way. She's your teacher. You talk to her with respect."

I wish I could remember the other things he said. He laid down the law -- what the teacher says, goes. Period, end of story.

I liked hearing him talk to his son with respect, but a firm hand. The father was not going over the top, making grand, sweeping statements and announcing unreasonable expectations. This did not come across as a show for the benefit of the teacher -- the "I've neglected your discipline for years, but NOW we're going to make some serious changes, YOU HEAR ME?" chest-beating rant. He also wasn't boasting abuse: "Ms. Teacher is going to email me every week and let me know if you're behaving or not. And if you are not behaving, if she says you do one thing wrong in class, if you forget to say, 'Bless you' when she sneezes, you know what's going to happen, don't you? Yeah, you know. You're not going to be able to sit down for a week. Don't worry, Ms. Teacher, I'll make sure this never happens again."

He wasn't like that. I believed this dad. This wasn't a show, this was parenting.

But he still made me think of all the other times I've sat through a parent chewing his kid out just for my (the teacher's) benefit. The times when the parent has let me know that things are going to change, because he's going to beat the kid if he misbehaves again. And how much the parent values education, and how hard teachers work, and how teachers need to be respected... and then nothing changes. The kid acts the same way, gets the same grades, and the parent never follows up. Because the parent said all those things to look good, but he takes the kid's side at home. And, directly, indirectly, consciously, unconsciously, the parent teaches the kid that teachers do not need to be respected. That they are inconsequential. If the teacher doesn't do what we say, we just go over her head.

I don't know if you can tell, but I had a very unpleasant conversation with a very unpleasant mother before I wrote that paragraph. So the post I originally sat down to write, about the parent at the table next to me, kind of went away after the mother at my table had her say. This was several hours ago, and it's still with me. Every other conversation I have had today with a parent has been pleasant. The mother waiting to speak to me while the other woman chewed me out was very sweet to me. But none of those exchanges are going to stay with me; the unpleasant mother, and her unpleasant child, are what are going to stay with me.

I have an hour and 45 minutes before I can go home.

I hope I don't have any horrid typos in this post, because I'm not in the mood to reread (because I'll edit too much). So, there is it. Nekkid.

Spread some LOVE today!

You know what, Blogosphere?

I love you.

I think you do some really good things. I like coming over here to tell you about stuff that's interesting to me, stuff that bothers me, stuff that enrages me... you're a good friend, Blogosphere.

I also like coming over here to see what you have to say. You tell me about my friends. You show me photos of my friends and family. You show me funny things. Blogoshpere, you're a good pal.

So I just wanted to say "I love you." As a whole, and as individual bloggers. Y'all are pretty cool peeps.

Spread some LOVE today! Obsessed with Conformity: In the Name of Love

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Condoms on Campus

This blog post: In trouble for distributing Condoms? | Amplify got me thinking... what if I put condoms in the bathrooms on my campus*?

It probably would not be hard to find the culprit. I may be able to recruit some of the other faculty to help me with this social experiment, but that just means there would be more of us sitting in the principal's hot seat. What exactly would happen?

Would the administration acknowledge reality and look the other way? Or would they be too worried about their own arses, and throw mine to the wolves?

Would the students take them? And use them for their intended purpose, or would we suddenly see a slew of "water-balloon" fights breaking out in the halls?

Would the students heed the Pope's dim-witted words and just leave the sinful condoms there? (Mind you, they leave the sinful condoms... but carry on enthusiastically with the sinful sex and baby-making!)

What do you think, blogosphere? Should I do it?

*For those of you who don't know, a public high school in Texas with a high teen-pregnancy rate. Yes, I said public school. Yes, I said high school. Yes, I said Texas. No, I did not say death wish -- why do you ask?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Reproductive rights don't exist on the border

Give me your poor, your hungry, your tired... we'll rape them, then deny them medical services.

Please read this article: Access Denied by Kevin Sieff - The Texas Observer

I know it's a long read, but it's worth it. Read it.

This makes me mad on so many levels. Where to begin?

How about with Sister Zita Telkamp, and her butt-ugly smug face that makes me want to punch the screen? Especially when she says things like, "The babies are miracles."

NO, Sister Zita, they're not "miracles." They're the product of RAPE. Are you saying rape is a miracle?

These women DO NOT WANT these "miracles." They risked their life to come to the US because they could not feed the children they already had at home. You think they want ANOTHER ONE? One that will forever remind them of BEING RAPED?

How stupid are you, Sister Zita?

And how's this for a complete and total flaw in logic: We don't want illegal immigrants. We arrested these women simply because they wanted to come here to clean houses. How dare they!

Ew! Bad immigrants! Go away!

Oh, but, PLEASE, have your babies here! Birth a child on our soil, so it will be a US citizen, and stay here forever.

I can't even rant on this topic because my head is exploding as is. SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

Anti-immigranters and pro-lifers: YOU ARE STUPID.