Category Archives: Girls

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

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

Salivary Tech

$ Marble

In the Digital Age, how could a discussion that includes the word “Anti”  and “Beta”, not evoke a strong salivary response?

That’s what anticipation does when disruptive innovation is encouraged to flourish and failure is advanced, not as an end-game but instead as part of the game– an option.

Like a game of marbles, disruption is not only willed by the sharp-shooter’s accuracy, but also by the purity of the glass sphere.  Its dimensions, the grade of gravel underneath it and the velocity as it rolls.

Exterior elements, like the wind’s whimsy or the hush of spectators, as they hold their collective breath.  The anticipation of the impact…  when that prized marble thunders along and into the circle of marbles.  As it hits, grazes and bounces against the opponent’s marbles! It’s exciting, but also a fading sport; one that has no need for wires, sneakers or a net.  Just the breaking apart of glass balls, that kinetic energy that then settles into a pattern, that no one had predicted.  Because it hadn’t truly been considered before; but now it’s the open platform, where everyone there can take a turn and participate.

And isn’t that the whole point?

Lately, I’ve been approached by strangers who asked me what attending the Tribeca Anti-Summit Beta was like; specifically “How to break the mold to create impact?”

But like my finger swipes on a touch screen, I’m very mindful of how I respond.  How I use my words, as a writer are very special to me.  Punctuation still matters, with effective pauses and sentence structure to engage the reader; these are part of my integrity.  And so is my self-contained excitement, really a part of me wants to shout “Bravo! Well done!”

But, I refrain.  Here instead is the soft-spoken, introverted me, who views free speech as that which needs no disclaimer, because I haven’t said anything, not too much.   And that’s how it should be, in a Digital Age, where you never know who’s who.  It’s not paranoia but branding, everyone has an angle and there’s no such thing as “Free Press”.

But, if I were asked outside of this realm… I might view things differently.  I might’ve set my closely guarded bag of prized marbles down and expressed my jubilation, with my nose for a true news story.  Yup, I would.

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Filed under Girls, innovation, Uncategorized

Cellophane: An Unsung Technology

$ marceau and Printed_Circuit_Board_Wallpaper_bgv2

“Wow!”

And just like that, the art of pantomime gets us.

Our attention is snatched away and whatever we were purportedly doing– strolling along, roller blading or running, we stop to do an about face to our own reality, to watch his painted face.

Desperate outstretched fingers seem amphibian and web-like; pressed against a sheet of glass that isn’t there, tells a compelling story of anguish.   We empathize with his herculean effort to get from underneath the crushing weight.  And even though we know it’s simply air that holds him back, we cheer for his freedom!

The street artist treks up Mount Ceenomore, to hear nothing and say nothing in a magical show of humanity.  The myth of Sisyphus intrigues us, the daily grind is mesmerizing and so is the mime’s control over his agile limbs, taunt muscles and loose facial skin.  And his thorough command of silence that calls out to us, not to help but to simply share the experience.

Like a glass ceiling or an invisible box that only he can feel, processing…

The mime’s performance reminds me of how modular obstacles in life can actually be; easily moved and erected.  Constructed of short-comings, self-imposed lamentations and even by the most loving, a grandmother or doting father.

Harmless, ambiguous words that provide their own walls, that are systemic to a nation or a culture, that reiterates a woman’s role as a mother.  And leaves her to languish in a kitchen.

Small girls are given baby dolls and miniature tea sets, dressed up to mimic their mothers in some infused setting, a long ago time and place.  Where etiquette modified behavior and nods of approval were given each time she remembered to cross her legs at the ankle.

Stay clean and to be sweet…

Women do it to other women.  Discussed and served on a platter and covered with cellophane, used to preserve the female.  How her life should be, what she should do and old innuendos.  It may be too late for my generation to dismantle the invisible walls that shuttered off technical spaces, but I imagine a different existence for my daughters.

A digital world where we’re mindful of our words, that we don’t recreate a mime’s struggle of walls and elevator rides that don’t go up.  Where she’s paid more than chump change, pennies tossed into a basket for a million dollar act.

Someone asked me about my bucket list, I don’t have one.   If I did it wouldn’t be a list of things I wish to achieve in my lifetime, but rather a list of dreams I was told couldn’t come true, without ever having dreamt of them.

Like a mime on a street, as we stop and watch him, as he does nothing.

 

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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

Technology Express

$$ money train

Technology chugs along at a nice clip, and like passengers on a train we’re part of its movement.

“All aboard!”

Whether we’re ready or not, it forges ahead as if on some imaginary track, intersecting industry and connecting communities and countries, seamlessly. Stops along the way allow people to embark and disembark in a whirlwind of economic supply and demand. There’s a transparency that allows growth and it seems, as we proceed ever onward, on schedule.

Technology has no motives.  With proper instructions, it’ll be efficient in most hands.  From invention to innovation and back again, beta mode or syntax, technology works to make life easier, better.  But we’re nearing the frontier’s edge, the area where we must switch tracks and become something more than fun.

We must anticipate and identify issues that are adverse to the human condition, things like age and climate change on a global scale, require attention and technology that will resolve, improve or at least redirect energies for the better good.

The Digital Age, like the Industrial Age and all the ages before, marked by Periods– Neolithic, Mesolithic, and served on tectonic plates have such a  huge impact on life and on earth. Some of the growth is sustainable and sadly, some of it is not.

While some rise, others fall and it seems some malady or some catastrophic event might happen, like factories with no fire escapes.  So doesn’t it just make sense that legislation is put in place?

Think Google Glasses, modified that we might see what’s up ahead, around the bend, coming fast… why not?

We are, after all an aging nation. Dementia, senility and frailty are part of the human experience and we need to develop technology that addresses these issues, as people get on and off the train.

It makes me think of Lionel train sets, those miniature replicas of locomotives zooming around curves and not falling off the track, because they were engineered and properly weighted down to stay on track.   Watching them being remotely controlled with an electric transformer, going forward, reverse and at variable speeds.

In 1959, psychologists wrote that “…a child who controls a Lionel train today, will control his life tomorrow.”  I see technology like that and most definitely, I see it including girls… “All aboard!”

 

 

 

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Filed under Girls, Google Glasses, tech, technology, Trains

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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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

Readers of Code

world book 9

I like that people are reading. For a long while it seemed that people had stopped reading, but now thanks in part to social media, people are reading more, albeit snippets of information.

Still, these easy readers, Tweets, status updates and likes, have created a renewed readership, with links to blogs and articles, that have been written by real writers. Technology, it seems is getting people to read!

Once upon a time, I was an avid reader. Not voracious, but still very much on top of things. I read any genre and was always on the lookout for new writers. It seemed that I had more leisure time, and I was a fast reader, able to enjoy a quick read as well as a long casual one.

Books you see, are my friends. They stay up with me when I can’t sleep, whispering to me about new ideas, old innuendos and faraway places right here on earth. Books lean against the wall, or sit patiently on the table, stacked and ready for my retreat into them, away from reality.

I like to savor what I read. Let the words swirl around inside my head. Discover new thoughts, evoke emotions that softly touch or ruffle up against the edges of a memory. All mine. If left to my own vices, I’d sit with a nice glass of chardonnay and read a whole book; a book a day, as if it were an elixir, ah …

Unfortunately, I have fewer hours to read. But I make time to visit the library and I browse local bookstores. Because I like the way a book feels in my hands, as much as I like the smooth feel of my iPad, which replaced my 1st generation Kindle.

And in addition to that, I’ve been learning code. I’m a big advocate that all girls should learn code, and wasn’t I once a girl?

So, I signed up for an Edx course, purchased a few books and started to run programs on a computer. (And here, dear reader is where I must add a disclosure: “I’m not a computer geek, not a rocket scientist and not a genius and not a programmer.”) I’m a student in the world of variables and integers.

Anyway, yesterday I curled up with my book, my laptop and executed a C program in terminal with Gedit. It was mind-boggling, as I started to believe, that if you read it, you can understand and do it. And to that end, I’m learning.

I created a social message about girls coding in MIT’s Scratch website; it allows you to code with blocks. (For giggles, here is my project, click the green flag Girls Jump.)

I like that people are reading again. Technology it seems, does require us to think and it’s making us readers of code. And that’s a good thing.

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Filed under AARP, Baby boomers, Big Data, Code, Coding, Gender, Girls, social media, tech, technology, Twitter, Women

For Another Time

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I was listening to music on the radio, when the Dee-Jay invited listeners to call in with their stories.

One young woman called in to say that she had recently lost 150 pounds. Happiness oozed from the airwaves. She said that after years of being teased and bullied; she had been plagued by obesity. And although she lived with the fear of putting the weight back on, she carried a photograph of herself, a “Self-Fattie” she called it; it was both a reminder and a deterrent.

I paused. Having grown up during the “Leave It to Beaver” Mrs. Cleaver era of stringed pearls and frilly aprons; I appreciated the caller’s honesty. I never looked like my Barbie doll and I never resembled the models in the magazines.

For many girls, growing up and not quite fitting into a “one size fits all” world is very difficult. I was moved by the discussion, but the moment didn’t last.

“We’re so happy you can fit into your skinny jeans!” the female disc jockey chuckled, then hung up from the caller.
And just like that, she cut off the stream of social consciousness.

“We’re heading into a commercial free hour of music,” she announced, and mentioned a possible rain shower.

I thought about the caller and bullying– from the schoolyards to cyber- bullying on the internet. It warranted further discussion, especially with a female disc jockey; part of a social triumphant moment. The music started and a voice sang “don’t it feel good?”

Normally, I would’ve sung along, belted out the chorus…

Perhaps, at another time.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, radio