Parenting Up, Parenting Down, Parenting Across

This year has brought many changes and transitions. In chronological order over the course of roughly six months: Second Daughter graduated from high school; I accepted a new job that meant leaving a job I'd held for 14-1/2 years; we moved across the state into a 500-square-foot borrowed condo, away from the town where Eldest Daughter lives with her husband; I took Second Daughter across the country to college less than a month after starting the new job, then turned around and spent a week at national bike conferences, then did another one-day trip for work; as I settled into the new (and very demanding, challenging, fulfilling, rewarding) job I realized I can't keep running the start-up Bike Style business I launched last year and started thinking about how to wind it down or hand it off; we got through a major fundraising event for the Bicycle Alliance and I traveled some more to meet more bike advocates and then visit my younger sister; and as we made plans to head back to Spokane for the Thanksgiving weekend we learned that after a fall, a broken hip, surgery, pneumonia, and a lung infection, my 95-year-old dad appears to be approaching the end of his days.

As I read the emails among  his six children about the issues and decisions I can see our upbringing at work and credit both Dad and Mom with raising us to be both pragmatic and compassionate.

That makes me think about my parenting, the kinds of adults my daughters will be when they face similar decisions in the (hopefully far distant) future, and where I stand right now as the filling in the sandwich.

My younger daughter chose a college 3,000 miles away to pursue her dreams in musical theater. Once she'd chosen that focus I knew she'd have to be far away to get close to the bright lights of Broadway. I'm okay with that--and I'm not just saying that.

The Buddha taught that attachment causes suffering. I don't want the kind of attachment to my children that does that--the kind in which you want them to be, do, or say certain things. (Think of the dad who considers his glory days as the high-school quarterback the high point of his life and pushes his son to play football and you'll get what I'm talking about.)

I know a few very attached moms who are what I call "smothers." (I might add that my daughters also use this term. They don't want one.)

The smothers cling to the sweet, dependent baby-years memories and miss recognizing that their children are growing up into amazing young adults. Those days are fond memories but if we focus too much on those we miss the wonders of the present moment.

If we've done our jobs well, our children are prepared to enter the world without holding our hands any more to cross the street. They start to make adult decisions with adult consequences. If we shelter them from those consequences we leave them unprepared for the day when we're not around to rush to the rescue.

I've been a free-range mom with free-range kids for years, with the goal of equipping my daughters with savvy and skills to negotiate life without my help. I've never been one of those attack helicopter moms who executes a strafing run on anyone who interferes with her precious darling's happiness. The latest term I learned from a magazine article is the "snowplow mom"--she removes all obstacles from Little Darling's path.  So how prepared can Little Darling be for the real world?

Maybe I feel this more acutely right now because I'm facing that day with my own parents. I'm not the first to point out the similarities between the care we provide our children and the care we provide our aging parents. I'm thinking about how their parenting prepared me to raise my daughters, and prepared me to cope with the changes they themselves face now too.

I still have some "parenting down" work. These days it primarily involves an electronic funds transfer with a touch of mothering, along the lines of, "You should get a winter coat. Here's some money because that's more cost-effective than shipping a coat from Seattle to New York." (As my best friend Betsy says, "It's great when your child's problem is one you can solve with a checkbook.")

I do a little "parenting across". That's how I think of what I do now with Eldest Daughter, who has just finished her first year of marriage. Right now she has to deal with her husband's recent surgery; I can't do much from a distance to be helpful but I can let her know I'm there if she needs to talk and tell her how happy the two of them look with each other.

And then there's "parenting up." When I visited my dad the day before Thanksgiving he was frail and weak. I wanted to give him a hug and tell him everything would get better the way I used to for my daughters. But that isn't true. I can give him the hug, but not the false reassurances.

I don't have the daily responsibilities now; my older sister takes care of the ER visits, the paperwork, the decisions. (I had those back when they lived in Spokane but they've been in Lewiston for over a decade now.) The resemblance to parenting is clear, but without the bright future we envision for our children.

Dad is very deaf now so we write him notes, to which he responds with a smile or a word or two. Mom's vascular dementia makes her impossible to communicate with, although she did say clearly, "We're having fun!" in telling us a long story in what I refer to as her Klingon speech.

Thus I can't tell either of them what good parents they were. They didn't smother. They expected us to do our chores, study hard, get a job. They wanted us to fall in love. (Not everything worked out every time on that front, mind you, but the fact that all six of their children persevered and ultimately found a lasting love stands as a testament to the example set by their 68-year marriage.)

I can tell them I love them as they face the final passage. I can't do the hard work for them. But that's not what parents do.

Social Media Moves: 59 Things to Do in Social Media when You Change Jobs


Once upon a time when you moved from one city to another or one job to another you wrapped newspaper around the breakables, threw things into boxes, filed a forwarding notice with the US Postal Service, and away you went.

No longer!

I’ve been in a transitional zone the past couple of weeks knowing that I was looking at taking a new job and moving to a new city. That led me to do a few things in social media but I didn’t want to signal too much in case things didn’t work out.

I also had to think about how and when I would notify people in various spaces and tie much of that to the timing of a news release so as not to scoop my new organization, while still trying to avoid having people close to me get the news from strangers. This is not nearly as simple as a going-away party and a forwarding notice.

I got the job and have been busily working away on various fronts to transition. It occurred to me that my activities might serve as a checklist for others in similar circumstances. While not everyone will have the news-release timing element the to-do list is the same; you just won’t have to stage things in quite the same way.

The length of this checklist of social media activities for people changing jobs is just a tad daunting. If you're not in all these spaces--you don't tweet, you don't have a blog--the list does get shorter. But the list of spaces you have available in which to establish expertise and build a network to find that next great job is also shorter.

Job Search and Post-Application Activities

All Spaces

  • Assume that everything you’re doing is part of what will be reviewed by your future employer and all your new colleagues. Behave accordingly. Delete past stupidity.

Twitter

  • Follow people (in the city you’ll be moving to, if that's part of the deal) who are connected to the sectors you’ll be working in. I say "sectors" because, for example, I'll be running a nonprofit (one sector) in biking/active transportation (two more sectors). You might be going to work for an online (tech sector) retailer (another sector) of outdoor recreational equipment (another sector).
  • Start a couple of relevant lists to help you organize the new input. Since Twitter caps the number of lists you can have and I had maxed that out I had to make some decisions about what to keep and what to cut or consolidate. You should also think about whether you want to keep those new lists private or make them public, depending on how many savvy stalkers you think you have.
  • To think about: Do you or don’t you follow people who will be involved in the search process? If I were in a general job search I’d definitely follow people in organizations I hoped to work for. You can always look at profiles even if you don’t follow, or add them to a private list.
  • To think about: Do you want to unfollow some accounts to improve your ability to focus on your new direction/location? Maybe those move to a list so you don’t lose track of them completely.

LinkedIn

  • Clean up your profile overall. You don’t have one? Good luck with that job hunt; LinkedIn is a major tool for job seekers and recruiters.
  • This is a good time to get an updated head shot. Don’t be ludicrously different in real life from the photo on your profile; your vanity (self-delusion) will be too evident the minute the interviewer meets you.
  • Make sure you’re connected to everyone who recognizes you in your current role and title before moving on to the new one. For gosh sakes don’t use their generic message when you send the invitation! Personalize each one so people know why you’re connecting. In some instances you may not have talked to the person in quite a while so it’s time to refresh his/her memory. Whenever I meet someone new I put a note in the Outlook contact about when and where we met and something we discussed; I refer to that when I make a LinkedIn request if it’s someone I don’t work with on a regular basis.
  • Ask people you’ll be using as references in the application process if they’d be willing to write public recommendations for you on LinkedIn. Be specific in the request: What skills or knowledge would be most helpful to have featured on your profile when the future employer looks at it? Even if you don’t get this job you may be looking for another, and meanwhile your profile is more complete.
  • While you’re at it, write some recommendations for others. First get in touch and say you’d like to do that; ask what they’d most like to have highlighted. This is good karma and it also shows your ability to evaluate the work of others and that you’re a nice person generally. (If you’re not a nice person, skip all of this advice and just respond to blind box number ads in your local newspaper.)
  • Check LinkedIn contacts against Outlook contacts and download vcards as needed to clean that up before exporting a back-up copy. LinkedIn lets you upload Outlook contacts to check for matches but that doesn’t help clean up Outlook, which is my master go-to list since not everyone is on LinkedIn. When I started doing this I found that quite a few people had changed jobs without telling me (a mistake you won’t make if you use this checklist).
  • Join relevant groups in the new sector and city. Think about whether to put those groups’ badges on your profile—that may be a step that signals too much depending on your situation.
  • Engage in selected conversations in those groups, remembering that all the activity shows on your profile and is thus visible to everyone you’re connected to already, possibly including your boss and colleagues. You want to start becoming a familiar name and face in the new circles without having a foot too far out the door if you don't want people to know you're looking.
  • Check LinkedIn profiles for your potential future colleagues for group ideas. It might be a tad too stalkerish to join every single one they’re in. If you’re serious about this profession or industry you probably already have at least one good group in common.
  • Answer some relevant questions in the Q&A section if you haven’t already been doing that. Warning note: If people vote your answer the best on a question, that topic appears on your profile as part of your expertise. Don’t answer random questions just because you have opinions unless you want that expertise on your profile.

Facebook

  • Do some housekeeping on old posts that shouldn’t be public.
  • Depending on your current situation you either tell everyone you’re looking, you don’t say a word, or somewhere in the middle depending on what kinds of lists you’ve set up there. Just make sure the update isn’t set to “Public” if you don’t want it to be!
  • Become a fan of the business or organization page for your target. Share their links and updates as appropriate—again, thinking about what you signal and whether you want to do that.

Email Accounts

  • Clean up contact lists in Outlook, Gmail, and anywhere else you have an account. When you make the move you’ll be sending a message out to everyone on the list and/or to hand-selected subsets. If you haven’t cleaned up your list in a while now is a good time to do it since you’d be going through it to do that selection anyway. Create groups (Gmail) or categories (Outlook) to batch people based both on where you’ve been and where you’re going.
  • During that step think about your contacts in terms of how you want to notify them when the time comes. If you’ll need to send special messages to specific groups—for example, to all members of a board or committee you’ll be resigning from, as was my situation—do you already have an email group set up for each one? If you don’t you’re probably compiling that by hand every time or using reply-all on the last message from the group. Either way you may want a list that keeps those people grouped for future reference in case you need to tap that circle in your new role.
  • If you're in a position where you are expected to leave your contact list behind for others, clean up any notes you wouldn't want others to see.

Blog

  • Meet your new best friend, “Spellcheck.”
  • Even if you’ve never used an editorial calendar or a plan, use one now. What posts will be visible to someone who comes and looks at the last few before the date you applied? And after?

Other Spaces

  • Same general principles: Tidy up a bit, do something meaningful as your most recent activity, and reinforce the connections you were looking for in that space originally.

You Interviewed and You’re Waiting to Hear

All Spaces

  • More discussion in relevant groups on LinkedIn, tweeting, and blogging, all with the tone and content that are in keeping with the job you’re going for.
  • Keep your references posted on your progress, asking them to continue to keep it confidential.
  • Don't blab on Facebook! You and the organizational have gone on a couple of dates and you don't know whether they're going to pop the question. Don't set yourself up for disappointment or embarrassment. Think of this as the "it's complicated" relationship stage--is that really something you need to share while you're going through it?

You Got the Job!

Congratulations—that’s awesome!

In my situation I had close to two weeks between when I accepted the position and when we’d be putting out a news release. I didn’t want any of my blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking friends to start spreading the word before it was made public by the organization or before I had a chance to tell my coworkers myself, so you know what I did?

Nothing.

As in, I said nothing on Twitter. On Facebook. On my blog. In email.

It killed me.

I told my best friend and swore her to secrecy; she was leaving for three weeks in Europe with only spotty wi-fi access or it might have killed her too.

I told my boss and the HR director, both of whom understood the need not to say anything publicly.

I told my references who had been getting updates from me at each phase of the interview process and thanked them yet again for their support.

I had to wait for the offer to be finalized before I could tell my staff and closest colleagues, asking them not to share the news with others until the date the release was due out.

In preparation for the news release I worked on the following:

Email Draft Copy and List Preparation

  • May as well craft them now. They can all be queued up with a specific date/time for sending if you’re using Outlook. Since Gmail doesn’t have that function I got all the drafts ready with recipients in the BCC field. Think about the tone you’re striking and whether you can do some final good things for the organization you’re leaving as well as the one you’re going to.
  • It goes without saying—but I’ll say it anyway because I just heard of someone breaking this rule—these are not bridge-burning emails. You never know when you’ll be back or who you’ll need to reconnect with in the future. Be professional and courteous. What if your mom read this?
  • If you have all your new contact information lined up, create a new vcard for yourself and attach that to the emails to make it easy for people to update their contact list. Include the information as text, too, for those who can’t import that format.

My list of emails to prep:
  • Colleagues I hadn’t told in person.
  • General list of personal contacts.
  • Separate one for each board and committee I’d be resigning from.
  • Special one for a monthly gathering of friends to invite them to one last bash at my house.
  • Special one for existing contacts in the industry sector I’ll be working in, inviting them to connect with my new organization.
  • General list of all professional contacts.

Blogs


It’s Official!

Email

  • Hit send.
  • Prepare to deal with replies! You’ll be deleting bad contacts, cleaning up others, and responding to good wishes and questions. In my case I sent the email out during a week that had the Fourth of July holiday mid-week so I got a zillion autoresponse emails for people taking the week off. In hindsight I wish I had waited but I was too excited to.
  • If you’re staying at your old job for a while, consider adding a footer to your signature that tells people where you’re going and when your last day in the office is so they can plan around that.

LinkedIn

  • Talk about the new position as a status update with links on your profile. If there's no news release, link to the new organization's site.
  • Post in selected groups as appropriate.
  • Depending on your start date, update the profile to show the new position.

Twitter

  • Update your bio to reflect the new position.
  • Announce a few different times of day with a link to the news release or your updated LinkedIn profile.
  • Send @ messages to people in the new organization or location if you’ve established a relationship with them or feel comfortable saying, “Hey, I’m headed your way!” You’ll have some new friends all lined up when you get to town.
  • Prepare to deal with @ messages. You might do several round-up “Thx for good wishes @name @name @name” tweets to deal with in batches rather than one at a time. Since some people seeing the thank-you tweet will not have read the news, include some reference to it or a link: "Thx for good wishes on [link]" or "Thx for good wishes on new job."

Facebook

  • You could have fun with your cover photo or profile pic to tease the news. I changed my cover photo to the Seattle skyline the night before the public announcement without saying why because that’s where I was moving.
  • Monitor both your own profile and the organization’s page; respond to good wishes.

Blogs

  • Publish.
  • Update your bio on the blog.
  • Monitor and respond to comments.

Everywhere Else

  • Send messages to specialty online communities you’ve engaged in.
  • If I were uber-organized I would know where all those other bios are that I’ve created over time in various social spaces and be able to clean them up systematically. As it is I can think of a few, such as Quora. The rest I’ll find as I stumble around the Web. (oh, right, StumbleUpon)
  • If you haven't Googled yourself in a while now's a good time. Is the word spreading? Do you find bios you need to clean up? (Run it as an incognito search for cleaner results.)
  • Maybe this is your cue to start a list of all your social identities so when the next time comes for some clean-up you have your broom and dustpan all ready.

Now You’re Really Gone

Email

  • If you didn’t have your new contact information available when you notified people, now you can send an email to your cleaned-up contact list with an updated vcard. If you’re having some kind of goodbye event the invitation to that should be part of this so you’re not emailing people too many times.
  • Set up an autoresponder on your email at your previous organization with contact information for people there who can respond and with your new contact information. Work with your IT folks on how long that can stay active.
  • You may want to do the same with an autoresponder or a signature line for your personal email account for a while to catch people who didn't see the original message. (If you do a big blind BCC list the message can get flagged as spam.)

Good luck, and happy socializing!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes


(Not all the lyrics fit my point--it's the refrain I was going for.)

We’re creatures of habit. We floss daily—or we don’t. We sleep on the same side of the bed every night. We buy the same brand of cereal or variety of fruit over and over. When a kid does something we hear our parents’ phrases come out of our mouths even though we swore we’d never do that.

We tend to take the same route to work every day. Although I’d argue that riding a bike frees the mind so I’m less likely to get stuck in that particular rut, I do park in the same spot in the bike rack every day. When I had to change “my” spot because someone else was getting there before me and using it, I felt the mental wrench. Now my “new” spot is “my” spot and I don’t even look at the other one. So we can change.

What would it take for you to make radical changes in your life? To develop all-new routines and relationships?

While I wasn’t looking to shake things up dramatically, that's what the next phase of my life holds, at least for a while.

Given the chance of a lifetime to pursue a long-held dream—to run an organization doing something I believe in passionately—I’ve accepted the position of executive director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. With headquarters in Seattle. And I start in four weeks. The professional opportunity excites me and offers a great challenge, coming as it does at a critical time for active transportation because of the cuts in federal funding

There are losses as well as gains, of course. This post isn't about the sad parts of moving, like leaving my best friend and my older daughter (Skype! Text! Facebook! Maybe even actual phone calls!) and my work and colleagues at WSU Spokane. I haven't had to do those things yet so that will hit more as the departure date draws closer.

Instead it's about the chance to reshape some other elements in my life, which is giving me a charge I hadn’t expected as Eric and I pack up the house. For example:

I get to walk away from every decorating decision I’ve ever made! We’re going to rent our house furnished rather than try to sell it in this market and initially will live in a small furnished condo belonging to my brother and his wife while we look for a permanent place.

We’ll put a few pieces into storage, but only a few. When we settle I can change everything: color schemes, style (such as it was), the overall mish-mash of things from my childhood and pieces I’ve acquired through more than one marriage and move.

I will finally acknowledge that certain craft projects will never come to fruition. I already gave away two big bags of leftover yarn that will go to a high school knitting club. I have 5 yards of a beautiful lightweight wool herringbone that I snagged when I cleaned out my parents’ house—in 2001! After more than a decade I’m clearly not going to whip up a fabulous suit the way I thought I would and I’m giving it to a friend. I bought candle-making supplies, did it a few times, wasn’t all that great at creating candles that would burn down consistently, and am giving those away.

I’m not getting rid of my grandmother's knitting needles or my mom's sewing machine, mind you. I’m just getting rid of the flotsam and jetsam of projects both finished and abandoned.

How old are those spices anyway? I love to cook so over the years I have accumulated many a jar of something used once, then filed alphabetically in my spice drawer. At some point in 2008 I started writing the month and year of purchase on the tops of the lids so at least I know just how stale most of that drawerfull is. I’m going to pitch everything older than 2011 since they all smell roughly the same and presumably would impart no flavor to the dish.

Where did all these dishes come from? I’m not quite clear on how I ended up owning five glass pie pans but I know I’ve never baked more than three pies at a time. I bet I could make perfectly good layer cakes with  a set of nine-inch pans or a set of ten-inch, but I've never needed both at the same time. And so on through utensils, pots, pans, knives, and everything else in an  over-stocked kitchen.

Many of my books deserve new readers. This actually started 6 years ago when we moved out of a 5,000-square-foot house with lots of built-in bookshelves and wall space for even more. The house we moved into has less wall space and only a few built-in shelves.

At that time I set free quite a few books to find new homes and acquired a whopping credit at Auntie’s in return. The inevitable result of that, of course, was that the stacks of books crept back up. I now own a Kindle to reduce my carbon footprint and am going to keep only a few special volumes. (The signed copy of Joyride by Mia Birk goes to Seattle with me, of course.)

Style purge! This one is trickier. I’m changing to a different climate and my sweaters will come in handy. But anything I’ve been keeping with the thought that it’s perfectly good and surely I’ll wear it one of these days is going away. I've been shopping for bike-friendly fashion for a long time so no big adjustment is needed there.

So there you have it. I'm packing, sorting, dumping, and giving things to friends; visiting favorite places one more time; tying up loose ends on work projects; and looking down the road and around the bend to something new. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes indeed!

Related Reading
Your Turn
  • If you cleaned as if you were moving, what would you get rid of?
  • What are you waiting for?

Is There Such a Thing as a Lowercase "nazi"?

Inspired by an exchange on Facebook.

An editor friend posted a completely appropriate rant about the use of non-words such as "conversate" and "orientate", which some poor misguided people have created as backformations from "conversation" and "orientation" instead of using the perfectly good words "converse" and "orient." These people are very wrong.

In the ensuing discussion someone referred to her as the "grammar nazi."

After contributing the equally grating "administrate" to the list of nonwords to be avoided, I added this:
-------------------

I'll also put in a plug for not misusing the word "Nazi". I lived in North Idaho where the neo-Nazis were; they chased and shot at acquaintances of mine simply because their car backfired near the compound, burned crosses, and held parades. They lost the compound in the resulting lawsuit after the shooting incident, thank heavens.

There's the real thing, and then there are people who are sticklers for one thing or another, whether it's soup (a la Seinfeld) or grammar. I'm a stickler for not using a word that means killing 6 million people to refer to people who have certain rules they follow because that diminishes the impact of the word when applied to the real thing.
-------------------
To which someone responded:
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I think the misunderstanding here with the use of the word "nazi" should be recognized thusly: "Nazi," with an uppercase N, refers to a group of people in Germany prior to and during the Second World War, who were acting out orders from a lunatic because they were cowards. In constrast, "nazi" with a lowercase n, refers to a group of people for whom rules an regulations are of utmost importance in a given subject.

Hence, "Hitler's Nazis" refers to genocidal maniacs and their pawns, and "grammar nazi" refers to a person for whom proper grammar, spelling, and syntax are of utmost importance and value.
It's the difference between a proper noun and a common noun.

You're welcome.
-------------------
(As a professional editor I'll overlook the potential connotations of "You're welcome" and just address the underlying issue.)

I get the difference between proper nouns and common nouns. There are Democrats and democrats, Socialists and socialists, Stoics and stoics.

But are there really Nazis and nazis? Wasn't what the National Socialist German Workers' Party (its real name) did so utterly horrifying that we can't lowercase it and diminish the impact of its real meaning in historical context? I am a stickler for grammar most of the time but definitely not interested in being referred to as a lowercase nazi.


Tab Set: A Round-up of Current Miscellany

The title of this post refers to a habit of mine: Click on lots of links from Twitter, email newsletters, Google Reader, and Facebook, opening them all with every intention of reading them later, and eventually lose them because I decide I can't stand the number of tabs open in my browser and I don't have time to do the reading right at that moment. Multiply this by the fact that I have a work computer, a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone, and that's a lot of tabs.

Partial tab set
I'm choosing to do this sharing in a medium other than Twitter, where to tweet is to cast a twig into the floodwaters, or Facebook, where the rate at which I read things I want to share is a bit overwhelming for my friends. (I realized this after having Twitter tied to Facebook for a brief while--something I now consider a social media faux pas--and having a friend dub me "Queen of the Status Updates.")

This choice to create a post is thanks in part to the first entry on the list (a link I did manage to follow and finish reading because he writes really short posts):

What are you leaving behind? By Seth Godin: A blog post that asks why we don't collect our various musings and sources of inspiration in a more permanent form than social media postings.

Neil Gaiman commencement address on Brain Pickings, one of my very favorite websites for wonderful writing and unusual discoveries. While I click regularly on links from the @BrainPickings Twitter account, this particular post was recommended to me by Kent Peterson, who writes the charming Kent's Bike Blog (which isn't in the tab set because when I go into Google Reader I read the posts).

Where are the Women Bike Commuters? on Sightline, another site I read regularly via Twitter and email links. As someone who writes a lot about biking, aiming particularly at women, I'm sorry that the data from Spokane in this piece on riding in Northwest cities represent too small a sample to draw any conclusions, although I know empirically that I see more people--and more women--riding than I saw when we started Bike to Work Week celebrations five years ago. This tab is still open because I'm not done reading the comments and I know I'll want to add to them.

Why Bicyclists are Better Customers for Local Business than Drivers: It's on DC Streetsblog, which I follow on Twitter, but I found it by way of someone's tweet about a Planetizen bit that linked to this (another demonstration that the good stuff gets passed around and eventually I'll see it so it's okay if I close a tab after a while). I'm saving this and similar resources as inspiration for a future post on Bike Style Spokane and my occasional (okay, frequent) discussions with businesspeople about why biking is good for their bottom line.

What does your bicycle mean to you? A question on Quora I've been meaning to answer.

Nine-year-old's lunch blog shames school into making changes on Grist: I cheated on this one--I had actually read it, commented, and closed the tab, but just had to share it here. I serve on the board of the Empire Health Foundation, where we are working on childhood health by, among other things, supporting schools in making the switch to scratch cooking. I got to see the results a few weeks ago at the Cheney School District and in July will get to meet Cook for America founder Kate Ademick at a Culinary Bootcamp for school nutrition folks.

Statistical Abstract for My Home of Spokane, Washington, by Jess Walter. OK, see, I'm cheating again a little bit because I followed this link from inside Facebook and was so sucked in by Jess's wonderful writing that I devoured the whole thing. But by putting it on this list I make a record to remind myself to read it again, and I get to share it with others. I also signed up to follow Jess on Byliner, where this was posted and which looks like a fantastic resource for finding new authors and following favorites. This same piece was later highlighted on The Spovangelist, another on my regular reading list.

Lowest Difficult Setting Follow-up--Whatever: I read the original piece (nice gaming metaphor explaining straight white male privilege without using the word privilege, except I just did here), loved it, and shared it on Facebook. Now I want to read the follow-up so it's waiting for me.

pbump.net: Site of Philip Bump, who's going to work for Grist and who was part of a Twitter exchange I was in that somehow involved sprinkles and whipped cream. Twitter is so random and his site appears to be the same so it would be dangerous to start reading it and following links. Squirrel!

How to Fix Shockwave Flash Crashes in Google Chrome: Yeah, really tired of this problem. Love Chrome--hate the washed-out white screen and twirly circle and "Kill this page or wait?" messages.

From the sublime to the ridiculous or thereabouts, part of my current tab set. What are you reading? Post a link so I can pop it open and have it sit there staring at me, waiting to be read.

Hitting the Heights. In the Heights, that Is.

Why I'm excited to see "In the Heights" tomorrow night in the West Coast Entertainment Best of Broadway series:

A#1: My younger daughter, Princess Laura, plans to major in musical theatre, a little item I've mentioned, oh, a thousand times or so on Twitter, Facebook, via email, in person at work, in comments to strangers waiting in line at the grocery store....

Having her involved has increased my appreciation of what it takes to put on a full-blown production that is not just singing, not just dancing, not just acting, but all three coming together to make something far greater than the sum of the parts. The dedication it takes to be on that stage? Awe-inspiring.

#2: Because of her career plans we spent a week in New York City in early February, where she auditioned for 8 colleges. While we were there we got to take in a couple of Broadway shows: "Memphis" and "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying." (By the way, "Memphis" goes on tour at some point and when it gets to Spokane You. Must. See. It.)

The chance to experience Broadway-quality live theatre was mind-blowing. And we get that all the time right here in Spokane! The shows that come through here are simply incredible and we're lucky to live in a city with the facilities that allow us to bring them here (along with all the tourist dollars they attract).

#3: I'm seeing the show because I'm part of a social media gang recruited to talk about the show. That's pretty cool of West Coast Entertainment and it's a chance to see the show in the company of some awesome local folks who really get social media, which means they're good communicators, so that will be fun. There was also mention of an after-party.

#4: As a result of reason A#1 above Princess Laura and I went to the preview event held by West Coast Entertainment earlier this week, where they rolled out teasers on the next season and we got to hear from three members of the cast of "Jersey Boys," one of the shows that's coming. I got so excited I bought season tickets.

A different A#1 reason: The show! The show! "In the Heights" won four Tony Awards in 2008: best musical, best score, best choreography, and best orchestration. Check out the video preview on the West Coast Entertainment site (if the link works right).

I'll be there when the lights go down, jumping in my seat with excitement and getting ready to hit the heights.

The Mindful Biking Series

A few weeks ago I had a "near miss" on my bike. Why we use the term "near miss" I don't know--if someone nearly misses you that actually means the person hits you.

At any rate, that led me to write a series of posts on my Bike Style Spokane blog on mindful biking. Mindfulness is one of the three watchwords I've adopted for my 2012 biking, along with consistency and variety (two sides of the same coin). 

As a friend of mine years ago was fond of saying, there's nothing quite like the prospect of a trip to the guillotine to focus your mind. In my case I've found there's nothing quite like almost hitting the side of an SUV when the mindless driver pulls out in front of you to focus your mind on your surroundings. Herewith, the mindfulness series:
Other posts that relate to mindful biking:
A couple of posts on applying my three words:

Why Marriage Matters: A Valentine to My Sweetheart and a Thank-You to the Washington Legislature and Governor Gregoire

“Third time is the charm.” That’s what my daughters say about my marriage to the love of my life, who is neither my first husband nor my second.

Marriage in and of itself is no guarantee of a successful relationship, obviously, although I'd argue that the lessons learned in two previous marriages prepared me for being very mindful and attentive and succeeding in this marriage. 

So why the big deal for marriage equality that will allow people who are gay or lesbian to marry each other?

Because marriage matters. Standing in front of our friends and family in our backyard nearly five years ago, with my dear friend Betsy Lawrence taking us through our vows, we committed to each other and to our children. We took on obligations as well as privileges, rights and responsibilities.

We gained many things through the simple mechanism of taking out a marriage license: Community property rights, the ability to be at each other’s bedsides in a medical emergency with no questions asked, and much more.

These are the rights denied people who cannot marry. As I’ve written before, it is high time we move forward as a nation and I am proud today to live in a state where the legislature and governor have acted to provide equal rights to all.

Would you want your right to marry to be the subject of popular opinion? I sure wouldn’t. And since we moved on as a nation some time ago concerning race and ethnicity, no one could stop me from marrying my dear sweetheart even though he is not 100% “white” as some would define it.

This summer and fall, no doubt people with sincere beliefs (and some paid petition carriers) will stand at the entrance to your local grocery store and ask you to sign a petition to overturn marriage equality. Just say no to the petition, yes to equal rights, and yes to marriage for everyone.

We all deserve to love and be loved, and to be able to show that love to the world. It's as simple as that. Happy Valentine's Day to everyone.


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Paying It Forward: Why I Vote YES for Kids and Schools

When I was in elementary school in the Tammany School District outside of Lewiston, and then in junior high and high school in the Central Valley School District in the Spokane Valley, my parents voted faithfully for every school bond and levy. I didn’t realize this at first, of course, but at some point tuned into this and asked my dad why they always voted yes.

“Somebody paid for my school,” he said in his blunt, no-nonsense way.

I’ve come to understand and appreciate a lot more about public policy and public funding since then. His answer still makes sense.
  • Somebody paid for my school.
  • Somebody paid for your school.
  • Somebody paid for the schools attended by the anti-school/anti-kid people currently perpetrating outright lies about school funding.
  • Public infrastructure relies on a "pay it forward" mentality: We use things funded by someone before us, and we fund infrastructure for the future.

The antis are trying—yet again--to kill support for the levies that are up for a vote in over a dozen districts right now. I just wish the antis had paid a little more attention in math class. Mrs. Whosie-Whatsie probably tried to teach them percentages but they apparently slept through that one. They’re mailing around a flyer that claims, in big bold type, that the state pays “100%” of public education.

Gosh, I guess the Washington State Supreme Court missed the memo. In their ruling of January 5, 2012, they held—quite unmistakably—that the state legislature does not fully fund basic education, failing in their constitutional duty.

Education is the primary obligation of the state according to the constitution, but the funding doesn’t reflect this. Perhaps the anti-school people slept through reading class, too, and thus missed the stories in the Spokesman-Review and around the state about the ruling.

The state Supreme Court directed the state legislature to fulfill their duty. But guess what—in the current resource-poor, revenue-challenged environment, the legislature is considering further cuts to public education funding.

This makes the local levies more critical than ever before, and the lies of these anti-school, anti-kid, anti-future people even more egregious.

In Spokane local levies fund a full one-quarter of the district budget. Take away 25% of the teachers, 25% of the aides, 25% of the maintenance crews, 25% of the books, 25% of the computers, 25% of the science lab equipment and supplies, 25% of the people responsible for reporting to the federal government so we can keep getting the federal dollars that make up another portion of the budget, 25% of the effort to identify at-risk kids early and help them graduate successfully, 25% of sports and extracurriculars and math and reading and science—that’s what you get without the levy.

This isn’t abstract for me. I have put two kids through the Spokane Public Schools system by choice, moving back to Spokane from Coeur d’Alene and choosing my home based on the schools they would attend.

They each received an outstanding education, bonded with teachers who served as special mentors, and participated in precisely the kinds of activities that are most threatened by budget cuts.

Eldest Daughter, who sings like an angel (if that angel sounded like a somewhat husky-throated jazz lounge regular), got amazing choir instruction from the late Kathleen Blair at Lewis and Clark High School. She gained practical work experience through a program that built her resume and prepared her for the world of work she’s now in, and she excelled at Spanish, English, and social studies.

Second Daughter, who heads to New York City with me this week so she can audition for several colleges in hopes of majoring in musical theater, has grown incredibly as a performer under the direction of Greg Pschirrer, who heads the drama department at Lewis and Clark. She also benefits from the head start on college-level math and everything else she got by going through the Odyssey gifted/talented program at the Libby School, and she’ll start college with quite a few credits already in hand thanks to advanced placement courses.

This is Second Daughter’s last year in public school. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop voting for levies and bonds. I still have a stake in the outcome. I'm not "done" with public education. No one ever really is--that's why Greater Spokane Incorporated, our combined regional Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, is speaking out strongly and actively in support of the levies.

The kids entering kindergarten now will be getting out of college around the time I become eligible for Social Security.
  • Some of them will be applying to medical school (maybe on my campus) when I start receiving Medicare.
  • They’ll fix the brakes on the STA bus I ride to work when I’m not biking.
  • They’ll test (or reinvent) the instruments my eye doctor uses to determine whether I have the first signs of glaucoma—which is preventable but only if you detect it early.
  • They’ll dispense my prescriptions—I’d like them to get those right, please.
  • They’ll climb the Avista poles to fix the wires when another ice storm hits.
  • They’ll program the computers at Spokane Teachers CreditUnion that keep track of my money.
  • They’ll teach my grandkids in school.
  • They'll work for your business--or buy it--or hire your kids to work for them.

I will rely on those kids. So will you. Let’s pay it forward the way someone did for us.

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Note: I've volunteered on every levy and bond campaign for Spokane Public Schools beginning in 2003, and co-chaired Citizens for Spokane Schools through two election cycles (2006 and 2009). I'm proud of the incredible outpouring of support from parents, community leaders, and volunteers in our schools every day, and through each and every campaign cycle. I'm proud to live in a community that has voted overwhelmingly in support of school funding time after time. I hope and expect to be proud again on Election Day February 14--or whenever they finish counting the ballots.

Hate Cannot Drive Out Hate; Only Love Can Do That

Years ago--but not that many years ago--it was illegal for two people of different races to marry each other.

We look back now and (most of us) can't imagine how the law could categorize one set of human characteristics as somehow less or more than another set of human characteristics, let alone tell two adult human beings who love each other that they may not state that commitment publicly to the world.

We can't believe that two adult humans who love each other couldn't receive all the same rights and obligations that two other people, with a different set of human characteristics that fit within a particular boundary, can have for free after a quick stop in Vegas.

We can't believe that having a particular characteristic was so shameful that people had to hide it and pretend to be something they were not so they could "pass," or that people could be brutally beaten to death simply for being who they were.

We have come so far as a society, truly. Can't we come the rest of the way and complete the spirit of the civil rights movement by ensuring that all people have an equal right to love and to marry?


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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -Martin Luther King Jr.

A Few Things You Can do with Quinoa

Quinoa is the vegetarian's best friend because it's a complete protein in the grain family. It's also best buds for people who are gluten-free. That makes this assemblage of things you can do with quinoa a great dish for potlucks because you can feed people who can't eat the other stuff on the buffet. If you leave out the nuts or leave them on the side for people to add you're almost 100% home free on food sensitivities.

This is really approximate because I don't actually use a recipe.

2 c. quinoa
1 can garbanzo beans (or 2 if you really like garbanzos), drained/rinsed
3 T. pine nuts (could substitute slivered or chopped almonds)
4-5 green onions, chopped w/green tops
Approx 1 c. chopped celery
You could also add some carrot—I’d probably grate it for a change of shape from the chopped things

Curry option
The seasonings are REALLY approximate—taste and adjust after you mix everything up.
2 t. curry
¾ t. coriander
¾ t. cardamom
Dash of cloves
1 t. salt
½ t. pepper (or white pepper if you have it because that hides nicely in the pale ingredients)

Cook the quinoa with 4 c. water and the seasonings for 15 min. Toss with all the other ingredients. Taste, and sprinkle in a bit more of the various seasonings if it doesn’t seem zingy enough. I find curry kind of raw-tasting if it isn’t cooked and mellowed out, which is why I put the seasonings in the cooking water.

Something I didn’t add that could be kind of fun: chipotle or chili powder in place of the regular pepper.

Sweet option
Another direction I’ve gone with the same basic ingredients listed above:

Add ½ c. or more craisins or currants
Change seasonings to cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and salt
Add approx. 1/3 c. honey

This is kind of like a salad I got at some airport that I was trying to replicate.

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