Friday, October 19, 2018

A Couple Quick Shout Outs


...or is it shouts out? Ha! Here are 3 things making me happy this week (a la Pop Culture Happy Hour).

1. I know you know that voting is important, at anytime, but even more so now. But if you are in the military, you might not live any where near your voting district. Or maybe you do live in your voting district but you don't have a lot of bandwidth to study up on the candidates and issues. Or maybe you just moved to a new community.  No worries, try out the Ballot Cheat Sheet. Put in your address and it will create your personalized ballot. I tried it out with my address and it was spot on.

2. This song. It's my own personal YOLO anthem, and I can't get enough of it. "I'd rather be making memories, than reminiscing of the past, you see..."

3. Have you ever listened to The Moth either on your local NPR station or via podcast? It's pretty awesome, but last night I got to see one of their live shows. So So So good. If you get a chance to any over their live events do it.

Monday, October 15, 2018

What Did They Just Say?

I was at (another) recent conference, and had a lovely conversation with a group of women I admire. They described an event the previous evening. A woman was being honored for her career-long positive impact. Two men were chosen by her to speak for the evening, and the three had been life long friends. Like families vacationing together close.

The speakers made jokes and comments throughout the night about her family and her good looks. The honoree and many in the room laughed right along, because these were old jokes and stories that were repeated often. Not for a million years were they intended to belittle the honoree, nor did she take it that way.

My friend at the event was equally enjoying herself, but then realized several others in the room (younger, no connection to the speaker) were finding the banter best case odd, worst case offensive to women.

She wondered, had they gotten so used to this banter they had a tin ear to how it could be perceived? What do you do when you hear something in jest that could be offensive, even when not taken out of context, but isn't offensive to the "transmitter" or the "receiver"?

Definitely food for thought.

PS - You can buy the umbrella pictured above HERE

Monday, October 8, 2018

Call Out the Real Stuff

I am privileged to be part of a 8,000-plus group on Facebook for women Air Force officers. As my retirement date gets further behind me, it's nice to keep up on the current issues, plus offer the occasional opinion or bit of my more experienced perspective to those younger in their careers.  And often this gives me ideas for blog posts :-)

What follows is a wise observation I wanted to share. I agree with the writer in that if we label all negative interaction between a female and a male as harassment and discrimination, then it gets harder to ferret out and fix the real deal. Would the older male civilian have treated a male captain differently? Maybe. (He probably would have used more colorful language is my bet.) But does it matter in this case?  Read on...

I made an observation today, and I figured this was the place to share it. Possibly the eponymous “unpopular opinion”, but we’ll see. 

I was in a rush to leave this morning and wasn’t paying attention when I put my patches on my OCPs* (I’ve been wearing them for over a year). An older man in civilian clothes tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Captain, your name tapes are on ass-backwards.” I was appropriately contrite, fixed them quickly, and thanked him. 

Moments later, the annoyance set in. “Why did he have to say it in such an annoyed tone? Why was he so condescending? Would he have said it like that to a male?”

And then, moments after THAT, I realized I’d gotten defensive. We talk a lot about men speaking to us condescendingly, treating us differently because we’re women, older men (and women) using terms of endearment towards us when they wouldn’t do it to men. I wonder, sometimes, if we’re so ready to hear the condescension, that we prep for it and make a big deal out of something less. The gent who helped me out really WAS helping me out, and I’d honestly say he’d have used the same tone when speaking to a man. 

My point is: there’s a lot of sexism out there. We need to make sure we’re calling out the real stuff, or our voices will cease to make an impact. I realized I’d gotten defensive (albeit privately) when the situation absolutely did not call for it. Recognize it when you see it, call it out, but we will never get ahead if we always see ourselves as the victims. Sometimes we are. Many times, we are. But if we want to be taken seriously, we should make sure that we’re not confusing misogyny with the bluntness of the military. I did it for a few minutes this morning, and it made me realize that’s where my mind tends to go. I’ve got to work on that!

NOTE: OCP = operational camouflage pattern, aka, the newest US military camouflage uniform

Thursday, October 4, 2018

A Lazy Excuse

I was just at an aviation conference, and a common refrain when the challenge of finding quality manpower was brought up, was, "Oh, the millennials." Like it was a lost cause, an entire generation! It came up enough for me to notice it as a theme. One speaker even said, "Not only do they not know how to use a wrench, millennials don't know what a wrench is."

Hmmm. I'll admit I've made my own comments about millennial hipsters. They're the punchline of many jokes. What is a millennial? The most succinct definition I found after a quick search was, "early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years"..."generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies."  AKA, the ones with smartphones always within reach :-) Technology aside, I don't think there is anything different about this particular generation. Hasn't it always been those that are younger that are more open to new ideas, and flipping the status quo?

I wish that we could quit using "Oh, the millennials" as an excuse. You know what will keep drawing qualified manpower to your organization? Not doing it like you've always done it. I bet that bright "kid" will know what a wrench is, and how to use it, and why you would use it, if there were a couple tutorials on Youtube.  

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Put the Best Construction on Everything

Today in church my pastor's sermon talked about the past week and the impact of the Kavanaugh hearings. It caught my attention because our pastors rarely bring politics into their weekly sermons. This is one of the things I like best about my church - it is a safe haven from the craziness that is Washington DC.

My pastor brought up the 8th commandment, "Though shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor." He then reminded us of Luther's definition of this commandment from the small catechism (source).

"What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, nor defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything."

Bear with me here, I'm not diving in to religious interpretations nor using it as an argument about anything having to do with the Kavanaugh hearings. I'm aiming for a wider view.

Focus on that final phrase of the explanation, "put the best construction on everything." I wish that "put the best construction on everything," was a common practice. As a society we seem to automatically believe the absolute worst in individuals immediately, regardless of the credibility of the evidence against them. If there are enough tweets and posts and comments then it must be true. We leave no room for the effects of maturing, evolving opinions, nuanced arguments, learning from mistakes, rehabilitation. There is not a single human in this world who can look back on a lifetime and not conjure up a time when they said or did something that would be awful in the light of 2018, or any light for that matter.

Please put the best construction on everything. Then maybe, just maybe, we might be able to have important conversations and share opinions civilly.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Guest Post: The 5 Stages of Packing

My favorite guest blogger has more thoughts about traveling. For those that have packed up your kid and sent them off to school, or packed up your family and moved this summer, I thought you could relate to his tongue and cheek response to the task of packing up the car:

When a loved one passes or leaves a relationship they usually go through five distinct stages of grief known as DABDA. The five stages marked the in the acronym are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and lastly, Acceptance. While it can be used to help a friend or family member be safely and gently guided through their long battle with grief as you help them move on and gain emotional strength through their loss, it can, more importantly, be used to identify the five different headaches you get from packing up and cramming stuff into your car as you prepare for a glampy family reunion camping trip. So sit back, relax, and realize that the grief you felt over losing a loved one is similar to the anger and migraine you get as you cram that oversized red cooler into your trunk and realize that it takes up almost 40% of your trunk space

You empty the garage, tear through every closet and scan very email for all the items you might need as you prepare for your expedition into the familial unknown. After an hour of searching for that one rain coat you can’t find, you lay out all your items neatly on a blanket only to finally stand back and think to yourself, “There's no way all of this will fit into my trunk” as the self-doubt and regret sinks in.

While all of the stuff you need to cram into your car sits in a massive pile looking like an evil demon of temptation, you push those thoughts aside and tell yourself, “I’m smart, I can figure this out” or “This is just like Tetris, this will be easy, right?” While the Tetris theme earworm slowly chews its way into your head like a parasite, you grab the largest item to put in first, only to see that the big red cooler and canopy take up almost half the space. You say a few swears and think about grabbing that Motrin when you look over in rage to realize that the stove, tent, sleeping bag, air-mattress, and the assortment of other items have to fit as well.

You're almost ready to give up on neatly packing and just start cramming as you think that “Do I really need the percolator” and “The others brought trash bags, right?”. What about that one random camp gadget that only fulfills a random niche task that you’re too stubborn to leave behind because you the only time the rare opportunity to use will pop up is if you don't bring it. Even thought it sits there taking up more room than your tent.

At this point the temperature in the garage is about 89 degrees and you finally throw in the towel and go get a glass of water. The car is now mostly packed minus a few miscellaneous items. As you pour the water and pop out a few ice cubes you stop to wonder “Do I really want to go?” “Do I really want to see cousin Vicky and all 3 of her rambuctious four-year-olds?”  and you know that when you camp with Uncle Buck that he will make everyone go do something educational. Will there be cell service, will cousin David blow up dinner again and how many dogs will we all bring collectively, are all thoughts that that race through your brain like screaming toddlers running around with sparklers as you swallow the last gulp of your water. (It's also at this time that you find the bottle of Motrin that's always at the very back of the medicine cabinet – ahhhh!)

You finally cram the last few items into your car and pick the perfect music playlist as your caravan-looking mad-max-war-rig pulls out of the of the driveway looking like a traveling magical artifact salesmen from a Dungeons and Dragons campaign or Lord of the Rings movie. You select the perfect fast food joint for dinner as you head out into the familial unknown. Your only hope is that nobody opens up the left passenger door as it will unleash a devastating avalanche of camping stuff that only leaves destruction and despair in its wake.

Regardless of the "struggle" it was great to get away with our family!