Category Archives: Gender Equality

Tech Armor, A Girl’s Security

Techny Armor 2

In many ways, the radio is old timey technology.  A throw back of simpler times, when air waves weren’t modulated and a slight hum was tolerable, as was fumbling with the dial to bring the station in clear.  Nowadays, I only listen when I’m alone driving in my car.

In that closed interior, with the world just beyond my windshield, I’m comforted to hear a voice other than the one in my head.  I tire of reminders,  conflict in my schedule, errands that I need to run and I things left undone, like the shirt that requires my attention and the button I keep forgetting to sew back on.  The radio’s DJ is friendly, almost bubbly with idle chatter, pertinent today, and boring enough so I don’t have to focus all of my attention, half-listening and half being indifferent and non-opinionated.

This is pure technology, copper wire and vacuum tubes, transistor radios, soldered circuitry that’s also portable.  Radio reaches people in a way that television never will, because there’s no visual accompaniment to distort one’s own self-image.   Without product placement, without luxury and without perfect abs.  Instead we’re captivated by a voice, the radio personality’s enthusiasm and a distinct annunciation of words.  In between commercials, there’s a nice mix of music.  I like singing along, belting out a Frank Sinatra song or absent mindedly humming along to Billie Holiday’s August in New York.

Ironically, I always have perfect pitch when no one else is the car, my inner ear comes out.   And then, the very best part of radio, is during the “goldie oldie” moment, when that one long forgotten song comes on and miraculously, I know the lyrics!  And soon the warm feelings return, the powdery fluff of nostalgia.  It makes me smile to myself, as I drive along the road.  And I’m reminded again that simple technology, like the radio has a powerful control over me.

Yesterday, a DJ invited listeners to call in with their stories.  One woman called in excitedly, she had recently lost 150 pounds.  Her happiness oozed from the radio’s airwaves.  This stranger made me smile.   Like her, as a kid I too had been teased, she plagued by obesity and me with my big nose.

Now, here she was on the radio sharing the fact that she carried an old photograph and called it a “Fattie-Selfie”,  a reminder of her former self.  And that was it, the radio personality acknowledged her achievement, told her that she was beautiful!  And then thanked her for calling in, made an off-handed comment about the telephone lines being lit up and took the next call.

I blinked, the era of stringed pearls and frilly aprons forever gone.  I glanced at my reflection in the rearview mirror.  Like the radio caller, I too was now comfortable with my looks, I seem to have grown into my big nose.  Or I wasn’t as self-conscious, perhaps a result of being too busy to take notice.  Still, I recall what it felt like, to not resemble the models in any of the fashion magazines.  When I was a young girl, fairytales always made me think being powerless was okay, by taking away the option of having power, as if by design.

As I pulled into an empty parking space, I saw a group of little girls eating ice-cream laughing, and enjoying their silliness.  They were at that perfect age, when looks don’t matter and eating has nothing to do with disorders.   That being self-sufficient means she can tie a good knot in her shoelaces, as a preamble to running wild and free.

The radio DJ introduced a new song, it was upbeat and a perfect segue from the girls back to my reality.  I reached over to cut the car engine off and thought those little girls will make their own shiny suits of armor; I hope it fits them well.

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Filed under Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, technology

Technology Sees Political Disruption

Eyeglasses

Political disruption!   This election season seems quite different from previous Presidential campaigns and it’s not just because its a Leap Year.

Similar to the phenomenon of “Innovative Disruption”, a term coined by Clayton M. Christensen 1995; it’s a changing of the guard.  An abrupt move away from long standing established markets by new ways of marketing and new network markets.

But it’s also about voters in a digital world, their data collected and stored is failing to tell their story.  When did Americans begin to feel left out, pulled in and tossed about, every which way but loose?

I’m not sure, but I think I became a little less passionate about politics in 2008, during that historical election when a woman and an African-American ran for the most powerful office in the world.  Back then, news outlets hand pumped information via their own agendas and grew with advertising dollars.

It was then that I noticed my rose colored glasses weren’t tinted, they were tainted.   And in true visionary fashion, I’ve been squinting in the dark ever since.

So, as this political season started out in mass confusion, that is too many candidates, I shrugged and thought, who cares?   Hell, we’ve been buying technology in beta format for years.  Troubleshooting, hacking and fervently downloading bug fixes and we’ve become accustomed to incomplete software and swiped malware into our homes.

It stands within reason, that we’d accept candidates who are trending on social media platforms, as if “Likes” and “Follows” gauged the qualification of a U.S. Presidential candidate.  As if streaming live video and on-demand news would expose a candidates’ flaws like pixels in the image.   And without our having noticed, the political arena became ripe for disruption, like a cracked system failing its citizenry.

But, what would happen if we sat this election out?   If being weary kept us off the battle field?  What would happen to the gains we’ve made?  Even now, as we revisit Roe versus Wade for the umpteenth time and protestors scream at Planned Parenthood sites… under scrutiny still, after so many years… really?

How slow do we go before we realize we’re going backwards?

Voting, it seems is becoming another chore, and a rather huge inconvenience.  Cynicism has weighed heavily, like an anchor and keeping dreams afloat a little longer by faith isn’t sustainable. Truth is, technology doesn’t even care.   Like everything else, politics is ripe for change.

Off in the distant horizon of what was once a prairie, the American flag is waving…  hello or good-bye?  The digital world doesn’t need daydreamers, it demands visionaries.  Be that!

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Filed under Gender Equality, Google Glass, Politics

Women & Technology Again

$ 0 Talk radio

It’s no longer the Golden Age of radio in America and finally girls will have more than a cracked fairy tale to be her moral guide.

All around her are images of womanhood, independent and clear.   Live-streaming, in movies and in newspapers, women are being positively depicted, and a young girl sees herself, without feeling uncomfortable in her skin.  Successful women like Hillary Clinton, Mae C. Jemison, Sara Blakely and Oprah Winfrey smile from the covers of glossy magazines.

The narrative has changed, she can do both- be a mother and have a career.  There’s no sky and no limit to her dreams; from pink sneakers to blue high heels, she can perform!   Hopefully she’ll think outside the gender box, because there’s no social corset and hairpins to keep her tied down, unless she wants to wear them.   Now, metaphorically and literally, she can breathe.

Technology has made life better for all, by freeing her from domestic drudgery to a life of luxury– washing machines and egg beaters gave the gift of time, to read books and to learn.  Because we always knew she could code, given the opportunity to learn code.

The apron has been spun around and the letter “S” reveals two things, one it always was a cape and two, it’s washable.   She has choices!  And while there’s much to get excited about, there’s still a wall to overcome.  Gender orientation is such a huge part of society’s psyche, that it’s not easily cast aside.  And maybe that’s why it continues to be practiced in maternity wards across the country, where the gender color-code begins, when our babies are separated by little blue bands for boys and a little pink bands for girls.   Shouldn’t we start out with the same, equally?

Instead, adults complete the gender code cycle, by unwittingly buying into the color system, toys that should be tools of development create subtle pigeon-holes.  We as a society still respond when we see a little boy playing with Barbie dolls, because we ourselves have been raised to adhere to the gender color code.   And so the stage is set and the cycle continues, gender orientation is passed awkwardly along from one generation to the next.

But things are changing, I did see a little boy playing with a pink truck.  And on Dacia Street a little girl was busy fixing the wheel of her baby carriage, her hands were dirty with axle grease.  I smiled, this is the stuff of her fairy tales.

And hopefully, babies will eventually all be allowed to grow up according to what’s in their heads, and not by what’s inside their diapers.

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Filed under Coding, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls

Yesterday’s Tech Now

#Tech Study

Nostalgia.  That word aims to impress, as if every bit of our past is glorious.  Funny, one person’s account of the way it was, seems fairly different from another person’s account.   And those days, really were College Daze.

Technology is changing our perception, what was won’t be and what is, isn’t ours to reminisce over.   Without such strong convictions, our traditions will seem less important.  The past will be less impressive and old authority less oppressive.

The games we play are changing us, free of religion and politics, we ‘re allowed the joy of winning a trillion jewels as we embark onto the next level.  There seems an infinite amount of possibilities and we’re neither bored nor frustrated by this; which is strange.   Stranger still, is the fact that we practice at these games without being made to or told that we must.

We become deeply engaged in an activity that requires time, concentration and we pay to play.  Sure the payment isn’t monetary, so we’re less worried.  But to think, so many finger swipes and so much data, from IP addresses to our likes and dislikes.  Data gathered stored and analyzed, while we play Jewel Hunt!

That’s powerful stuff.

And one day, that stuff will tell our story.  The games we played, what we liked and disliked and who were our friends.  All of this information will be preserved and live-streamed to us,  on a platform called “Our Memories”.    Telling us what we struggled to forget, our stories manipulated into ready fill order:  “iNostalgic”.

We are a changing society, today’s mores and values have replaced our ancestor’s principled beliefs.   So curated arts, culture, and education that was once spoon fed will be outdated.  It’ll be replaced by new inventions, new research and opened to new interpretation.  Long ago vetted information will now be less useful, but technology can’t protect us from ourselves.

Ironically, to enjoy the good, like the orange glow of an Autumn afternoon, we might have to admit the human mind’s ability to filter our memories is positive.  There’s pleasantry associated with remembering the regal day, without the total recall of the argument that preceded the moment, that left him alone, seated in a picture window depicted in a print by Norman Rockwell.   Mercifully, emotions like pain aren’t remembered verbatim.

The Digital Age will have no boundaries, and our memories will be streamed to us intact.  Yours will look eerily similar to mine and mine to his.   Hopefully it’ll be worthwhile, like watching a replay of your favorite sport.  By watching it, perhaps we’ll discern what we did right, what we did wrong and what we could do better.   And then like the games we play, we can practice to get rewards and maybe even reach the next level.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Gender Equality, tech, technology

Ideas: Selling More Than Technology

# vacuum hoover tech

What if the vacuum cleaner salesmen did more than just suction up pet hairs?

What if there was a subliminal conversation?  Words of encouragement and a smile that hinted, “your time is more valuable, than you think”.

If a sales pitch is the purest form of Persuasive Speech, then it also has to be flattering.  As she watched him unload and pack up his machine, her mind would have wandered.   Demonstrations have that before-after effect.

Think, Prometheus returning with fire…

It’s likely that the first reaction to a flame was to reach out and touch it, but as any moth has discovered, a touch can be fatal.   So, the second more thought out reaction  to fire would’ve been to apply a “Best Use Practice” and not get burnt.

The vacuum cleaner was thought to be, just another fad; more for those with health issues, like breathing problems than the general population.  But then the vacuum cleaner did the one thing that all great technology does, it stayed.

Whisk!  The broom industry went into lower sales and poof, the carpet beater was gone!

Once the vacuum cleaner became affordable, the salesman became a welcome guest at every door.   He was a hero, with a simple gesture and a smile, no need of a sales pitch.   Technology had ignited a flame.

An added bonus was watching the salesman bend down to plug the vacuum cleaner in, to stand and turn it on.  Oh, what a treat that must’ve been, as he guided the vacuum cleaner across the dirty floor.   Surely, she must’ve smirked just a little, as a man did the proverbial “women’s work”.

Stuck in the carpet, were bits of dirt and shards of glass, just like her dreams.  Scattered long ago and deeply embedded in the carpet’s fiber.  So much so, that she had forgotten about them, until she saw the carpet become clean, its color returned.   She might’ve gasped a little to think of new uses of her free time, more vivid.

For days and weeks after the salesman had gone, she’d think back on the possibilities; of what she could achieve with the gift of time.  She shared her ideas with other women , at the window, shopping and back fence.  And if women can think alike, then they can raise their daughters with more education, so she’ll become a doctor, engineer and coder.  Maybe those vacuum cleaner salesmen hadn’t intended to, but they ended up selling more than a product, they sold her an idea.

Isn’t technology clever?  It completely changed the labor pool in a task driven society!

No gimmicks.  And eventually she’ll be paid equally.

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Filed under Coding, Consumers, Gender Equality, innovation, Vacuum cleaners, Women

Mixing Technologies with Metaphors

$ eggbeater right

As revolutionary as the eggbeater was, it was innovation that freed her from the kitchen!

Technology has a certain knack for curbing and flexing time, so that even if we can’t create it, regenerate or domesticate it, we can work to get around it. By getting a task done in less time or arriving at our destination faster and faster.   We’re constantly working in a timeframe, trying not to lament or anguish over the loss of it, but to enjoy life.  After all, there are no life instructions, but if there were one would read:  “Absolutely No Do Overs”.

So gadgets, like the eggbeater, invented with good intentions and far-reaching implications have always been welcomed.  Not only did it efficiently mix ingredients, but it helped to make baking easier, cutting the cooking time to bake a cake in half!

Additional improvements were made to foods, which helped in preparation, including storage and processing.  Key products like sugar, that had proved difficult to use, sold in blocks or sugar cones that had to be cut and then broken into useable pieces were now being purchased in granulated sweetness!  Flour was now being sold pre-sifted, and the ice box, long vulnerable to melting in the summertime, was being replaced with an electric refrigerator.  Fresh eggs stored indoors!

Cooking ovens became more efficient, with a knob that controlled the temperature of the heat.  Gone were the days of baking disasters– open fires and damp fire wood, that flameless smoky soot.  Now the modern woman had the convenience of coal, gas and electricity with which to run her kitchen.  This ease of cooking led to clichés and it changed pop culture, “If I’d knew you were coming I’d a baked a cake,” was not only a song, it was her carefree attitude.

Women were no longer slaves in America’s kitchens chained to temperamental cast iron stoves.  With her new freedom came time to think and she began to join clubs.  Book clubs, garden clubs, philosophical and reading clubs, these seemed to form and sprout up everywhere.  She had time to think, to discuss her thoughts with other women and to reconsider the world, and her place in it, she became politically aware.

That’s innovation!

From electricity, the eggbeater was redesigned with two separate mixing arms and an ejector button that popped them off for easy cleaning.  Women found an additional use, she could quickly release the mixers and use them to pacify a baby.  Many a toddler was plopped in the middle of a kitchen floor and allowed to lick the cake batter from the mixers.

Technology has always valued time, with a monetary value established for a “by the hour” workforce.  Among men there has long been an equal day’s pay for equal work.  Unions made certain that compensation was fair.  But for some odd reason, that hasn’t had cross over appeal, call it gender inequity.

Hmmmm, maybe we’re mixing technology with our metaphors…

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Filed under gadget, Gender, Gender Equality, innovation, technology

Gender Technology

$$ tv circuit She

“Hello, up there!”

From the ground looking up, technology looked completely incapable of bringing anything of value into our homes.

Outstretched aluminum rods, like the arms of an umbrella’s skeleton were mounted and fastened on rooftops, so television signals could find their way into the living room.  It flowed along copper wires and quietly took over our lives.

It took less than 60 years for technology to completely shrink our world and go global, connecting us in ways vastly different from the box that allowed us to first watch a man land on the moon; an image that came across airwaves, like wings of a prayer, unseen.

We tuned into the same programs, at the same time and talked about the show for days.  We laughed at the same jokes, re-enacted parodies and fell in love with Lucy.

After a night of storms, people emerged and yelled out of windows that their television set now got a clearer channel, as though God and the wind had favored them. Particularly because their aerial antenna hadn’t been disturbed, they were spared of having to prop a ladder against the house and make adjustments. For better or worse, it was a marriage that required better positions to catch airwaves. Serious hi-tech stuff!

Responsive to either gender, equally manipulated and made to work or improved upon by a calloused hand of a man or the soft tender skin of a woman.

But back then, who knew that a girl could climb a ladder and make it picture perfect.  Norman Rockwell  had never depicted it that way in magazines. Instead she was dainty in her dress, with legs crossed properly at the ankles.

It took a long while, but now we know that technology has no gender bias. It favors neither pink nor blue; it’s ageless and doesn’t discriminate.

In fact, it encourages across the board collaboration and it’s empowering. Coding schools have opened doors to girls and to those who are impoverished, giving them amazing opportunities.  And in addition to that, an ecosystem has been created which shows gaps for skill sets needed to maintain the technology!

It’s more than we could’ve asked for, that a job shortage could actually bring about wage parity.  Imagine that, women being paid the same wages for the same work. We’re not there yet, but technology knows no gender.

 

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Filed under Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, Television, Women

Free Flowing Technology

1 what if faucet

Unlike a water faucet, once turned on technology can’t be turned off.   And maybe that’s a good thing.

This is my 50th post here on WordPress.   And while there’s no award, no special dinner and no time to acknowledge this accomplishment, this post will be a moment to pause…

Technical journeys tend to begin with a free flowing dream.  It’s exciting and at first seems unstoppable and predestined.  Of course, as it moves forward through a series of obstacles, both real and imagined that defy logic, motivations change, but technology moves ahead.

It’s in the unscrewing of a metal plate found underneath a music box.  It’s in the portable transistor radio, with exposed capacitors and printed circuit boards, soldered and fingered by a kid that’s exploring the world from a rusty wrought-iron fire escape.

Safe.

Despite a gender obstructive environment, I managed to climb up a telephone pole past my mother’s lot in life.  From there, I enjoyed the view and never felt a need to climb a mountain, because technology always moves society from idea to idea and from gadget to gadget and improves life.  Everywhere.

Today, I’m left wondering what if a little girl’s aptitude had surpassed her curiosity and what if, that natural tendency had been fueled with guidance and attention to detail?

This post will not have cleverly inserted hyperlinks, but instead will casually mention my digital technology awareness that came from and could never have been achieved without gears, switches and analog circuitry that faded, old-timey technology.

I’m an OG, an Original Gal who was born into a male dominated world, who went out and took on a man’s job as a technician.  Maybe, perhaps, just maybe my career helped open a path for another little girl.   So, here I am way past 50, staying up late and writing with a sharpened No. 2 pencil that was tucked behind my ear, for when I set down my wrench and screwdriver.

These days, I’m engaged in soft discussions of encouragement; slow thoughtful development rather than the quick movements, that I can no longer sustain.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, because experience in a tech world has upside, there’s always room for growth and innovation.

Next week I’m going to begin scouting locations for a pink lemonade stand.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Gender Equality, Girls

Bartering Technology for Cool Pink Lemonade

11 Lemonade Girls

What if Norman Rockwell’s America had been depicted differently?

What if little boys and little girls were treated equally, that they might pursue similar dreams, based on their aptitude; and not by what was in their diapers.  Maybe then, coding, and entrepreneurships wouldn’t be as male dominated as they are…

What if “Rosie”, the Riveter wasn’t just a wartime phenomenon, but was commonly seen in everyday life, as a woman no more extraordinary than the housewife attached by an apron string, by choice.

What if after the war she was promoted to CEO and we saw that image as well.  What dreams might her daughters and grandchildren have and how might they have lived, seeing themselves depicted equally?

That’s what I think. And I’m only thinking that way now, because this past August my idea was accepted and then advanced to phase two of the YouNoodle competition, Verizon’s Powerful Answers.  And as I moved along in the competition, the portion which I found most difficult was entrepreneurial, because I had no training in that area.  So I did my research and pushed forward, but it did sit with me and ultimately, my idea was passed on.

That’s what encouragement or lack of encouragement does, it can sit and become a burden, one that vexes you, or it can inspire you to rise and push, that you might become your greater self.  I call it a lemonade stance!  Taking life’s lemons and bartering them for a chance to live your life, your way!

Sometimes, we do it to ourselves, because it might be easier to create our own club, rather than knock on the door of his club.  But we need to remember that separate is never equal.

And being comfortable to speak, doesn’t guarantee that we’ll be heard; because we’ve effectively made it easier to be ignored, as a group huddled to one side of society.

I’m not a history revisionist, but if I were… we’d all know the wives of the great men of America.  Her story, the wife’s story would be motivational, for surely she had a story, as we all do and must.

Of the five men who have been credited with making America one of the most affluent and influential countries in the world, we know very little of their wives.   Try looking them up, there’s very limited information about them and it’s not simply because of the times, but society that has historically and effectively stifled them.

In tribute…

Laura Celestia Spelman, Abolitionist, Philanthropist and teacher married John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil) who she met in an accounting class.

Sophie Johnson married Cornelius Vanderbilt (Railroad) and ran the Bellona House, a hotel for weary travelers of her husband’s steamships.

Clara Bryant married Henry Ford (Automobile) and along with gardening was a business supporter in her husband’s business deals, that included convincing him to sign off on a Union contract.

Frances Tracy (2nd wife) married J.P. Morgan (Financier).  She preferred the quiet of the suburbs and home.

Louise Whitfield married Andrew Carnegie (Steel) and was a philanthropist.  She said it best:  “I am the unknown wife of a somewhat well-known businessman.”

But it’s wintertime in New England, a wonderful time for white fluffy snow that appeals to our aesthetic sensibilities.  A good time to pause and ponder life’s inequities, and like snow, thaw ideas that then nourish future minds, and grow so a child might become her greater-self and he might know of her.

Let’s begin by bartering life’s lemons for lemonade; to build lemonade stands.  So we can pass along tech advice, while we sip on cool pink lemonade and reimagine stories of what a damsel in distress looks like.

Cheers!

 

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Filed under AARP, Coding, Entrepreneurship, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, Women

Pink Lemonade, the New Slice of Pie

L Pies

“What’s my plan?”

I’m not sure how to respond; I’m trying to figure it out, as I go along.  Lately life has supplied a bushel of lemons, and I’m familiar with the saying “When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade” but what I’d really like to know is how do I make it into a slice of lemon pie?

For years, I’ve been delving around on the internet trying to get published.  But working full-time and raising a family limited the time I spent and some sites that offered me a steady readership, PNN (defunct) and Yahoo, byline offered anemic compensation.

But I’ve also seen some succes.  There was a “Name Us” on-line contest, an experiment that went viral with international submissions.   I entered the name “Pxyl” and won.   The company has since been named to INC Magazine 5000 list, as one of America’s fastest growing companies, maybe there’s magic in a name.   I won a Kindle (I still have it) and they’ve mentioned my name a few times.

The MIT Age Lab in Cambridge, MA selected me to participate in a driving study.  I was exposed to new technology, and discovered that age does have its perks.   I was given the keys to a specially equipped vehicle, and connected by electronic leads to external computers, while video cameras mounted in the interior of the vehicle recorded me driving along the highway.    The data and my responses were gathered, collected and uploaded to a Cloud in real time.

The world is fast changing and I’m interested in everything!  This past August I was invited to Maine for a huge tech conference and saw first hand how the business IT landscape is changing.  And yes, I noticed that it was mostly men, so I was happy to write about the many doors that are opening for Girls Coding.   Meanwhile, the open platforms, the cost of processors (dropped) and the Internet of Things is real and it’s all rather amazing!

I’m a technician at heart.  My mind is trained to always approach a problem by getting on its good side, and the only dumb question, is the one that wasn’t asked.  So I started to ask questions on the internet to anonymous engineers.  I took a free on-line coding class, I read and wrote and realized I was becoming more and more unemployable.   Social media seemed appealing, so I decided to become a brand.

In April of 2014, I created a pseudonym, both tech savvy and internet friendly, named TechnyGal.  I started a blog, first on the WIX  platform and then here, on WordPress.  I opened a Twitter account and tied them to Facebook.  I purchased a few domain names Technygal.com and PinkisTheNewGreen.net  and then I started writing.

Two months later I received an email from the Washington Post Live, inviting me to a forum in Boston, I accepted.  The next day, I received another invitation to attend a 3 day conference being held in Boston, by AARP  50+ Life Reimagined.  I graciously accepted.

While seated at a Press only luncheon, I leaned over and confessed to an executive VP, that I had no idea of how I had gotten there and that I was humbled and overwhelmed.  She smiled and replied, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”  So I have…

It’s been less than a year, and I’m thinking more and more of what direction I’d like Technygal to go in, and I’m thinking it includes girls coding, selling lemonade and getting bigger slices of pie.  But like I said, I’m not sure of how I’m doing what I’m doing, there’s just this steady movement always forward.

Your suggestions are welcome…

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, facebook, gadget, Gender, Gender Equality, Internet, small business, technology, Twitter