Hail

We had hail twice earlier this week and the noise on the skylights was really loud.

Epigenetics

I’m taking a class on behavioral neuroscience. As expected, everything is fascinating and I’d like to spend all day for a few years just learning about how brains work — there’s been so much new research and development of knowledge since I was last immersed in studying anatomy/physiology/psychology around 20 years ago. Just now I watched this Nova video about epigenetics, and my mind is racing with ideas and implications. Holy crap, this class is going to be cool.

School, Cancer, and Smoking

I’m taking a medical terminology class as a co-requisite for my acupuncture program. It’s a pain in the ass because it will drag out for a whole semester, and if I had the option I would test out of it — I remember all this stuff from massage school 15 years ago and my various stints as a medical assistant (which in one case included medical transcription). They don’t allow testing out, though, and while the lectures and practice exercises are posted in advance, the assignments and tests are released on a weekly basis, and I have to log in at least 3 times per week to pass the class. This morning I’ve been doing the exercises for the chapter on oncology, and it’s brought up some memories.

One:

  • My Irish grandfather’s thick head of silver hair — complete with “Irish wave” — disappearing due to chemo, leaving him first bald as a pool cue (with a freckled scalp), then the possessor of wispy baby-fine white hair. Adiós, silver fox hair.
  • Hearing about my grandfather’s decline during chemo while I was across the country.
  • The excitement of hearing the chemo had worked.
  • The anger when the cancer came back.
  • The selfish despair when he decided not to do chemo a second time. “Go through that again? For what? I’m done.”
  • Family strife in the wake of his death.

Two:

  • My stepfather, who bounced back from a heart attack and open heart surgery as if nothing had ever been wrong and showing no outward physical changes, becoming a walking skeleton wrapped in papery skin.
  • Troubleshooting a stubborn oxygen tank replacement.
  • Buying a bed, having it delivered and set up in the living room, and carrying the nice mattress down from upstairs because he couldn’t climb stairs anymore. Not being able to use my hands without pain for a few days because that was too much for my bad wrists.
  • Looking at x-rays and scans with the pulmonary oncologist and hearing, “You know, a long-time smoker who’s destined to get cancer could have caught it sooner by getting regular chest films. Not catching it until Stage 4, there’s really nothing to be done.”
  • Hanging out with the technician during the PET scan because my heretofore-unwilling-to-show-any-emotion-except-anger-or-rage stepfather was afraid and didn’t want to be alone.
  • Teaching my stepfather the right way to hold the steroid inhaler.
  • Pretending it didn’t bother my bad wrists to have to load up the wheelchair and extra oxygen into my car every time we went to chemo.
  • Running down 5 flights of stairs so fast I almost broke my leg in a fall trying to get to the street as quickly as a I could to catch a cab while booking a flight on my Treo.
  • Driving 90 miles per hour from the airport an hour and a half away from the hospital, because it was the only flight I could get on in time, trying to get to the hospital before he was going to be put into an induced coma for surgery from which they weren’t sure if he’d wake up.
  • Looking through the broconchoscope at the ruined cells and wondering how the hell he was still alive.
  • Watching my mother wear down from her partnership turning into a nursemaid-patient relationship, with a cranky patient.
  • Overhearing, “Do you still love me?” “You’ve made it hard to love you lately,” before taking the train back to NYC, exhausted from so many weekends of coming up to help with cancer care.
  • Helping with stupid chores that could have been done later, like taking an old refrigerator to the dump, because he didn’t want my mom to have to deal with it when he was gone.
  • Sleeping through the call the next day when he died.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Go lung cancer!

Smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer, as well as many other cancers, heart disease (I haven’t started flashing back to my grandmother’s heart disease and subsequent death yet, thankfully — also smoking-related), emphysema, and other bad stuff. Lung cancer rates are going up instead of down, despite how much we know about what smoking does to your body.

Seriously, people: stop smoking. Don’t put your family through this kind of death for you. Is your momentary addictive pleasure really worth their suffering later? Have some compassion for your future kids, your future grandkids, your future spouse, your future friends. Don’t be a selfish ass. Quit smoking now.

Defending Drupal

The last 7 years of my life have been all WordPress, all the time. In that time we went from powering around 2 million sites to many tens of millions. Today, W3Techs says:

WordPress is used by 23.6% of all the websites, that is a content management system market share of 60.8%.

I wish that sentence had a semicolon instead of a comma, but wow. Drupal, by comparison:

Drupal is used by 2.0% of all websites, that is 5.1% of all the websites whose content management system we know.

Sometimes, people like to pit WordPress and Drupal against each other, as if we are fighting each other, rather than fighting proprietary software. At WordCamps, meetups, or any professional gathering where someone asks a question (or makes a snarky comment) about Drupal, I point out that we are far more similar than we are different. “Open source CMS built with PHP” describes us both, as does any description of the contributor model, or even the economic models — how many times have I heard Acquia is to Drupal as Automattic is to WordPress? (A lot.) We’ve even shared booth space at the OSCON expo.

To drive the point home I often say that if you were stuck in an elevator/sitting next to someone on a plane, how psyched would you be to be sitting next to a Drupal person, who would totally get all your references and be able to have a conversation you’d enjoy? That usually gets a nod or two. Because, yeah, we’re a bunch of open source geeks who care way too much about things like software licenses and commit status and number of props. We are, in short, both ridiculous in the grand scheme of things — we’re not curing cancer or ending world hunger. At best we are powering the websites of those who are, and if we ceased to exist tomorrow, it wouldn’t be the end of the world (just of us). But free software is awesome, so yay! Let’s all be friends!

At conferences, people sometimes have been confused if I’m hanging around with Amye or other Drupal women I know and like. They ask, “Aren’t you rivals?” And then we laugh at them. Cue the more-alike-than-different stuff.

So I was kind of bummed today after all those years of defending Drupal and claiming kinship to see it pissing* all over WordPress today. But I should backtrack.

For years, people in the WP community have wished there was a way to pay the more advanced contributors to work on core full-time. Sure, Automattic, 10Up, Human Made, and other companies have been contributing some people, but there are only so many donated employees a company can float. We all get that. For a while people talked about the WordPress Foundation as a way to pay people to work on stuff, but that didn’t wind up being possible. So when people started doing things like Jtrip’s Indiegogo, it was a natural evolution, though it seemed not very scalable.

So when I saw Ruby Together a few weeks ago, I thought it was amazing.

screenshot of rubytogether.org

Then came the Drupal 8 fundraiser, and I thought that was pretty cool too. Matching donations and whatnot!

And then I saw this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 9.49.35 AM

I smiled, recognizing several people I quite like. But that one in the lower left, what?? I clicked through and saw this:

fundraising website for drupal 8 featuring a graphic of the Drupal logo peeing on the Joomla and WordPress logos

I was like, “What?”

Then I was like, “No, really, what?!”

I get it, this person thought this shirt from a previous Drupal event was funny and would fire people up to donate. But really?

That shirt is so completely tasteless I am horrified that the Drupal community endorses it.

And now we’re back to Drupal is pissing on WordPress.

I’ve given so many talks at WordCamps with a component about how it’s important to be nice, respectful, and welcoming — including the use of appropriate language and imagery — to the point that some people would really like to tell me to shut the fuck** up (or have!). I have extended that “let’s be nice” spiel to talking about Drupal multiple times. I would never design a tshirt that showed the W pissing on the Drupal (and I’ve designed a controversial WordCamp shirt or two in my time) because it’s not funny, it’s just tasteless and disrespectful. So that Drupal shirt makes me sad. I know that probably none of the people I know and like had a hand in making it. But it bums me out that as a community they seem to think it is okay, good even, if they’re willing to put it on the front page of the fundraiser.

“You can feel good about our project without putting down other projects, so let’s keep it clean.” I said something similar (s/our project/yourself) to my nieces and their friends when they were in 9th grade and had a habit of putting down other girls to feel better about themselves (as so many adolescents do). I hope more people will remember this in the future, and just because you can think of a snarky/sarcastic/mean/tasteless joke that elevates your side and pushes down the other doesn’t mean you should.

In any case, one person’s misstep shouldn’t be cause to demonize a whole project community. Assume good intentions. Reach out when something is awry instead of devolving into one-upmanship. Competition is healthy but there’s no reason to be jerks to each other. And also? Thinking there are sides is really silly. We’re all ridiculous open source CMS geeks. We’re all one side. Let’s stand together, y’all.


I’ve always hated the Calvin peeing stickers, and so has Bill Watterson.

** Profanity used intentionally to illustrate that it’s not appropriate language in a welcoming community.

… on a quiet word to music parents (shhh, don’t tell!)

Featured Image -- 4906

Jen Mylo:

This is another reblog test, but also, music is good, and a totally vaild career choice. :)

Originally posted on just ponderin':

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Number One Son Sam, Jazz Student, on the Big Bass

Okay. Firstly….

Breathe.

It looks like little Johnny’s or Susie’s interest in the drums, or sax, or bass…

Or guitar, or piano, or clarinet, or flute, or didgeridoo…

Or that cute little triangle thingie they used to give you if you couldn’t play anything else, has lasted through elementary and middle school.

And now it looks like that cute little hobby that was supposed to stay a hobby has grown up and maniacally land-war’d itself into Potential Vocation territory, crushing the once-safe provinces of Medicine, Engineering, Nursing, Plumbing, Law, Accounting, and/or Fashion Merchandising along the way.

Particle Physics is still hanging on, but it doesn’t look good.

And you know this has happened because your perfect cherub just walked into the room and told you that they want to be… wait for it…

A musician.

Yes, they did tell you that.

Yes, they…

View original 1,333 more words

On Blog Comments

Jen Mylo:

I’m mostly testing the reblog feature right now, but this post by Christine Lee about comments was good. :)

Originally posted on Press Publish:

Comments from readers are some of the most gratifying parts of blogging. Someone’s reading! Someone felt compelled to send a note!

Even more gratifying is when a lurker de-lurks and identifies him or herself. Those are times when I’ve re-read my post to see what on earth it was about THAT post that got someone to shed their anonymity, and introduce themselves.

It is very much like inviting guests into your home, and making a connection. And sometimes, making very good friends as they return repeatedly for your hospitality, and you in turn, invite them to return for their good grace.

So how do we make our home and blog inviting? And what it is that keeps people returning?

I’ve found that it’s about making your blog safe–and curating the comments, should people disagree and escalate disagreement into barbs. It’s starting a dialogue in your own post, and then facilitating…

View original 88 more words

Writing 201 Day 3: Trust/Acrostic/Internal Rhyme

Writing 201 Day 3

Word prompt: Trust
Form: Acrostic
Device: Internal Rhyme

Trust or loss of trust as a topic: I’m not particularly interested in delving deep into my psyche and pouring out my heart on my blog in a poetry class assignment, so I chose a topic that has been going around lately that touches on trust (or lack thereof) between people of different genders.

Acrostics: Put a secret message into the poem by linking the first letters of each line. Not to be confused with acrostic PUZZLES like the ones my grandmother used to do when I was growing up. Meh, but okay. I chose a phrase/hashtag that ties in with my trust topic. Also, it’s pronounced uh-kross-tick, not like it says in the daily class assignment.

Internal rhyme: Here there, everywhere, this is free verse, not something with a specific meter, so I just threw stuff in.

This was another poem that I wasn’t really interested in spending much time on because it felt like too much of a contrivance, so it’s not exactly literary journal material, if you get my drift. Still, it’s done!

Now and then I briefly wonder when it was my faith in man was torn asunder —

Or why it was? Because at some point it became clear that there was fear behind the words

That hurt, and taking a man at face value (when his face showed two sides) stopped making sense

As a plan or default setting, because even good intentions sometimes had a cutting edge.

Loving assumptions of feminism stumped me every time when revealed to be false,

Leading and misleading along a pleading path of hopefulness until my trust was lost.

My skepticism, grown from years of tears and schemes and broken dreams of all men friends feeling just like me

Eventually took their toll and now my soul demands that I question all beliefs without relief, forever asking why.

Not that I think men are evil or unjust as a whole, it’s just that now the goal is to trust — but verify.

Writing 201: Journey/Limerick/Alliteration

Day 2 of Writing 201: Poetry. This is an absolutely terrible poem, but I don’t want to spend any more time on this assignment. Sorry. :)

Word prompt: Journey
Form: Limerick
Device: Alliteration

A twittering teen down on Tybee
Posts pics of her stuff labeled BUY ME
Her plan is to leave
Her parents will grieve
And then she’ll start over and fly free

My old creative director always used to say, “When in doubt, rhyme or alliterate.”

I didn’t like this assignment. I don’t have a great fondness for limerick, never have, but I tried to stick with the traditional place naming in the first line, etc. One thing in the assignment didn’t make sense to me. It’s cool that they try to make things pretty open ended just to get people posting, but this instruction bugged me a little:

If you prefer free verse over rhymed poetry, your challenge is particularly interesting: can you write a five-line free-verse poem that’s clearly a limerick?

A strict rhyme scheme is part of the defiition of a limerick, so if you’re going free verse/no rhymes, then by definition it is not a limerick, so saying it could “clearly” be a limerick just doesn’t make sense to me.

This bit got to me as well:

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

That’s a lot of Ps! My ear is definitely pricked, but does it mean anything? Hard to say.

It does mean something, and something fairly specific (two separate links) at that, so it’s pretty easy to say. Why the diss on Peter Piper? Hrmph.

The topic of journey encompassed all meanings of the word, and despite starting out thinking I’d write a little ditty about that old creative director and how he moved down to Mexico, I wound up with something about a runaway girl. Tybee is a weird place — really poor and really rich all jumbled together on a little strip of sea island (with feral cats). The teens there range from accomplished to apathetic, as anywhere, but because Tybee is so small, it’s hard not to notice the high incidence of drug use among teens, and to see that among the lower economic tier there’s an attitude of giving up before they even hit 18, focusing on Facebook updates and parties rather than trying to get out of the cycle. (Admittedly, Tybee doesn’t do a good job of giving them other things to do there.) Bah, bummer poem.