Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

21 December 2014

Guest Post: Roxane Gay on Today’s Feminism: “Better is Not Good Enough”

Nearly three hundred bad feminists gathered at the Chicago Temple on December 10 to hear New York Times best-selling author Roxane Gay discuss issues around feminism, inequality, and the struggles that 21st century women still face at an event hosted by Women Employed. Gay’s commentary and criticisms on Wednesday were in line with those found in her recent book Bad Feminist—incisive and insightful, covering a broad range of topics with her signature quick-witted sense of humor. Some highlights from the evening:
On the wage gap: “Women have compromised enough! 77 cents is a compromise. Pay me a dollar, you asshole!”
On burning out in social services and activism: “Self-care is a priority. You must decide how much self care you need. If you burn out, then you’re not doing anything. If you’re not here, you can’t do any good in the world.”
On not always having an opinion: “Sometimes it’s Tuesday and I’m thinking about macaroni and cheese.” 
On privilege: “Saying that you have privilege does not mean that you do not have suffering.”
On intersectional feminism: “Feminism is so much more complicated than just gender. If good feminism is only about middle class white women, then I don’t want to be a part of that feminism.”
As Gay points out, there are̶—or at least there should be—as many different kinds of feminism as there are different kinds of people. A problem emerges, however, when one type of feminism comes to stand in for all types of feminism—when one approach or perspective claims to authoritatively represent all perspectives. Broadly speaking, mainstream feminist movements have left behind women of color, low-income women, and LGBTQA women. As Gay writes, feminism is certainly flawed, but it is flawed because it is a movement powered by people who are also inherently flawed.  At its best, feminism has the potential to offer a way to navigate our shifting cultural climate and to help women find their voices, which is what we find in Gay’s work.
Bad Feminist is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. Gay’s writing is accessible and her tone approachable, yet her criticisms are articulate and pointed, as she never waters down the complexity of her arguments. In fact, one of Gay’s greatest strengths as an author and speaker is her ability to personally connect with her audience, allowing her to present highly sophisticated and nuanced social critiques without alienating anyone through the use of jargon-laden language, as may be the case with fellow academics (Gay is a professor at Purdue University). After all, what good is critical cultural commentary if someone needs a PhD to understand and respond to it? We need clear and discerning voices like Roxane Gay’s to serve as models and encourage us all to look much more critically at the world around us. Furthermore, the breadth of issues that Gay addresses in Bad Feminist speaks to the landscape of today’s feminism—complex, rapidly developing, contested, and above all, still necessary. 
Sure, things have improved for some women, but they have not improved enough, particularly not for women who are not highly educated, straight, middle-class, able-bodied, documented, and white. When women hold less than 20% of seats in Congress, when popular music boasts lyrics like “I know you want it,” when 1 in 5 women are raped or sexually assaulted in college, when there were over a thousand bills proposed in 2011 that intended to limit women’s ability to access an abortion (200 of which passed), when white women earn 77 cents, black women 64 cents, and Latina women 53 cents to every man’s dollar, how can anyone really say that feminism is irrelevant? At this point, we should not be questioning the relevance of feminism, but rather, we should be rolling up our sleeves and asking, “Where do we even start?”
And this is no easy question. During the question and answer at Women Employed’s event, an audience member asked Roxane how to know when to pick your battles. After all, the problems are complex and numerous, and most of us only have a finite amount of time, energy, and resources that we can dedicate to the causes we believe in. Gay’s advice was simple, but powerful: 
Use your voice where it will do the most good.
You can’t do everything, but you can do something. No matter where you live, what you do for a living, or how much time or money you have, there is a unique way that you can contribute to social change. Do you have a bit of financial flexibility? Make a donation to a women’s nonprofit (such as Women Employed). Do you have expertise in your field? Mentor younger women or donate your time and knowledge by serving on a council or board. Even more importantly: do you have a voice? Speak up, and do so as often as you can. Do you have ears? Listen to others who have experiences and perspectives different from your own. If nothing else, be proactive and stay informed about what’s going on. Sure, things are better than they were a generation or two ago, but as Gay aptly puts it, “Better is not good enough, and it’s a shame that we would settle for so little.”
Here’s the truth: all feminists are bad feminists. We’re imperfect, and our feminisms are imperfect. As individuals, we each have limited perspectives. We contradict ourselves. We make mistakes. We’re human. But does that mean we abandon feminist causes? Definitely not, because then we’re really in trouble. We do the best we can with what we know, we get challenged when someone disagrees, we pay attention and remain open to new perspectives, and then when we know better, we do better. We may all be bad feminists, but it’s up to bad feminists to keep fighting the good fight.
Rachel Clark studies Women’s and Gender Studies at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. In December, she had the opportunity to intern with Women Employed, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that advocates for increased educational and employment opportunities for working women. She aspires to one day be a professional feminist. 

16 December 2014

Bindercon & Women of Color in the Media

I missed BinderCon because it was in NYC and I was at Space Camp! I haven't heard a lot of what happened so I was excited to see this video clip from the panel "Looking Forward: Roles for Women in the Future of Media." Jessica McGlory, the founder of Forecastr (@TVforecast) says some awesome stuff. Hopefully BinderCon will realize that those of us in the Midwest would love to host!


12 December 2014

Judy Baar Topinka, the Polka Queen of Illinois Politics Dies at 70

Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register
Illinois politics is a lot of things, but boring rarely is the word to describe it. That is until yesterday. In the wee morning of December 10, 2014, Illinois politics lost its Polka Queen, Judy Baar Topinka.

Since I am an unabashed feminist who normally votes Democratic, one might wonder why Topinka means enough for me to write this post. Well it is because she was freaking awesome to watch. As many people in the media have said over the past day, she was blunt. The only spin Topinka knew how to perform was on the dance floor. I really wanted to share a video of her spinning around during a polka but every single media outlet's videos seem to be tagged with "Topinka polka" at the moment. ARGH!

She seems to be best remembered for her Chicken Little moment of telling Illinois that former Governor Rod Blagojevich was under federal investigation. But Illinois reelected him anyway after he linked her to the previous Governor who was already convicted of corruption. I told ya Illinois politics ain't boring. I still believe if she had chosen almost anyone else other than Joe Birkett as her running mate she may have won. Birkett's strident anti-choice stance pushed a lot of women away from even considering Topinka. For me, I could not forget his role in the Rolando Cruz case. 2006 was the year that the Green Party topped 10% of the vote, meaning a lot more voters than just me had lost faith in Rod, but couldn't vote for Joe.

But what she should be remembered for is that she was one of the first politicians, Democrat or Republican, who marched in Chicago's Pride parade. She was also pro-choice. Hell, she even bragged about voting for the ERA! That was Topinka, a straight shooter.

Which reminds me that one of my friends on Facebook (can't recall!) said something about picturing Dawn Clark Netsch and Judy meeting up in Heaven over some drinks and just shaking their heads at the mess the rest of us are left with. I can see it. And I hope so, because we're gonna need all the divine help to get through the budget mess we are in and appear to be headed into the "even worse" category.

Topinka was beloved by not just Republicans (heck, during her race for Governor her male primary opponents were so vicious to her, Hillary must have send her a card.) but also a lot of us Democratic women who respected her ballsy ways, her feminist sensibilities and how much fun she made politics look.

Thanks, Judy. You inspired a generation of women to lead this state with a wink and a hearty laugh. We shall carry on.

10 December 2014

Happy Nobel Peace Prize Day!

Women testifying

Today is the day the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. While recent awards have been controversial, today Malala Yousafzai receives the award for her work advocating for the education of girls, along with Kailash Satyarthi an advocate for children's rights. I'm the type of person who believes all our issues are connected, interconnected and intersectional. 

In that spirit I share with you a three-part series based on the Nobel Women's Initiative delegation to Mesoamerica I traveled with in 2012. These films are an excellent representation of the whole delegation. In these films you will meet women who are feminists fighting for their homes and families. Far too often the media in the USA depicts Mexico and Central America as lost lands. The framing of Central American children fleeing from their homes is sometimes seen as fleeing from countries that cannot be saved. Yet these women are fighting to reclaim or retain what has been their land for longer than one can imagine. Take a moment to watch at least one film today. Save the others for later.





09 December 2014

2014 Holiday Feminist Gift Guide


It's that time of the year again!


As usual, I'm behind on my full book reviews, but here is a list of books I have read this year that should go on your gift list. Some are linked to their review, others to their publisher or author page. A reminder that if you click the link to buy from either Powells (P) or IndieBound (I), VLF gets a small cut from your purchase:
  • This is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education by Jose Vilson P | I
    • A challenging and honest look at our public education system through Vilson's own education journey and path to becoming a teacher-activist. 
  • What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know by Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey P | I 
    • This is the book you need to read instead of "Lean In." Williams has studied women in the workforce for years. Academic work in everyday speak.
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer P | I 
    • A beautiful book about a girl who has amazing ideas and how she learns that fail is often the first step to success.
  • Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence edited by Lisa Factora-Borchers P | I
    • A painful, but loving collection of essays about sexual violence.  A slow read.
  • League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada & Steve Fainaru P | I
    • An investigative look into concussions in the NFL and the NFL's attempt to hide the pain and injury that cause. 
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell P | I
    • This was a very uncomfortable tale of a young woman not ready to grow up and stand tall without her twin sister. It was a great read
  • It Runs in the Family by Frida Berrigan [not available at Powells or IndieBound]
    • Frida is the daughter of acclaimed peace activist Phil Berrigan. This book is part memoir of growing up in the peace movement and her journey as a mother. The biggest challenge in this book is that she is devoted to anti-capitalism and her judgement for those who do not adhere. It is uncomfortable, but in a good way. It will make you examine your choices. 
  • The Good Mother Myth by Avital Norman Nathman P | I
    • The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality looks to dismantle the myth of the “good mother” by sharing essays from women whose voices and stories are normally silenced or ignored within the mainstream narrative of motherhood.
  • MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood P | I
    • Personally, I'm still at the early part of the last book, but had to include the whole trilogy on this gift list.  
  •  Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor P | I
    • Another great vision of post-apocalyptic Earth, this tale occurs in Africa. A young woman with anger and power fights for her life. Okorafor writes in the tradition of Octavia Butler and Ursula K. LeGuin by interrogating gender roles and speculating on where humankind may lead.
  • Redefining Girly How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween by Melissa Atkins Wardy P | I
    •  One of my favorite parenting books..and not just because Melissa asked me to write a letter to the reader either. Ella is 11 and I have lost count of how many times I've been asked for advice on raising a strong and confident daughter. Not all my secrets are in Melissa's book, but until I get moving on my own parenting book, this will more than do.


Flipstir: I tried this baby out at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and it was tough but a lot of fun. I did end up winning one for myself because I had one of the top times over the weekend. *YES* And because of that, I get to share with you a code for free shipping. CODE: SHAKESTIRSOLVE14

Catan Junior: Ella & I got a full game in at ChiTAG in about 30 minutes. Catan Junior is smaller and that makes the game go quicker. I know this is great for smaller kids who may lose interest in a longer game of Catan.

Sew Cool: This is definitely for the very junior DIY kids. I have no idea how it sews the felt-like material together, but I think it would be great for kids who are too young to have on a real sewing machine, but want to sew. You can see me in the collage above sewing a hamster pillow together. There was a line of kids who wanted to make their own pillows.

Family Challenge: This one was Ella's favorite. It has four types of questions, which include physical challenges, where it pits the kids versus the parents. We did note that in our home, that would pit Ella against two parents. But isn't that why we have only one? May the odds be our favor.

Make 'n' Break: If you are looking for a good game to help your kids with spatial skills, this is a great one for the younger set. You get cards with a design to build, a timer and blocks to build the design. Perhaps with competition will help make this game a family game, but Ella & I did think it was pretty easy. Then again, we didn't compete with the timer.


And some other ideas that fall under miscellaneous awesome gifts:

Bitch Magazine - Also check out the BitchMart full of feministy gifts
HipMama Magazine
Donate to their favorite charity! 

What other things are on your wish list?

02 December 2014

#ILGiveBig on #GivingTuesday

This #GivingTuesday Illinois organizations are asking us to give big - #ILGiveBig. Organized by the Donors Forum, you can search for an Illinois organization where you can donate. But if you don't want to do the searching here is a list of my recommendations:
  • Chicago Abortion Fund: They support women who are in need of financial assistance to make their health care decision to terminate a pregnancy a reality. I served on as the co-chair of CAF's board for a few years and their work is transformational to the women they serve.
  • H.O.M.E.: Simply put, they help seniors stay in their homes, find new homes when necessary and are basically awesome. A dear friend works for them so I am quite familiar with the awesome things they do and trust that any donation goes the distance.
  • Access Living: They foster the dignity, pride, and self-esteem of people with disabilities and enhances the options available to them so they may choose and maintain individualized and satisfying lifestyles.
  • Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana
  • Chicago Foundation for Women: Helping to meet the giving gap for women and girls issues.
I also recommend the Chicago Community Trust, our region's biggest foundation.

The Broad Side also has a list of great orgs to support. 

Have fun!

01 December 2014

Reducing Open Enrollment Headaches!

President Obama Signs Health Insurance Legislation Into Law by Pete Souza
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Far too many of my friends are underinsured or have no insurance at all. That is why I was a proponent for the Affordable Care Act or ACA. But I know that just because we have access to ACA things are fine and dandy either. For many people it can be overwhelming to choose an insurance plan. I know when it is open enrollment time for my workplace insurance plan I hid my head because it was confusing enough to select a plan the first time around.

That is why I am partnering with UnitedHealthcare to bring you helpful videos to make selecting an ACA plan a little easier for you. The first thing is to check out their Open Enrollment Guide to help you figure out what you should be thinking about when selecting a plan.

Another aspect of health insurance that you should keep in mind is the differing cost of treatment and procedures. Before ACA, friend of VLF, Kathie Bergquist, Editor in Chief of Ms. Fit Magazine, had been covering herself with the same plan since grad school:
As an adjunct professor, I don't receive health insurance through my employer. Up until earlier this year, I never used my insurance for anything other than routine check-ups. Then, this past winter, I was hospitalized for a severe asthma attack; almost as soon as I was out of the hospital, I received a notice that *former insurance company* was jacking my premium by more than $100/month, from $328 to $430. In the ongoing treatments I required, I came to realize that my exiting plan was pretty terrible. It covered absolutely no diagnostic care; I had to pay 100% of all tests, etc., plus for any doctor visits outside of my annual exam. I never realized how limited my plan was because I'd never really had to use it before, and I had it for a long time. So, I'm getting all these tests and follow up doctor visits, getting billed 100% for them, Also, there was no prescription coverage, and I was put on medicine that costs $300/month. AND I was still paying my insurance premium, and when I turned 45, the raised it again -- to $460, for terrible, useless coverage.

The open enrollment period couldn't open up quickly enough for me.
 
Through the healthcare.gov website, I was able to get a platinum insurance plan with no deductible, PLUS pretty good dental coverage for $100/month less than the monthly premium for my worthless *former* plan. Now I know that I can continue to receive the medical care I need (and some overdue dental work) without having to worry about it bankrupting me or ruining my credit. Such a relief! I'm glad to know that I will actually be getting what I am paying for. 

And if you don't know what a deductible is, you should know because it is an important part of your health insurance plan. 

So hopefully you know a little more about what you should be considering as you go through the menu of options in your state marketplace or the national marketplace. And if you are like me, I have learned that we should also be checking out our deductibles and out-of-pocket fees on a regular basis. I am guilty of sticking with a plan unless I change jobs or a carrier is dropped.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was compensated by UnitedHealthcare to create this post. 

28 November 2014

Dear Kate and The Perfect Body

 As some of you rush out to the mall to get in on deals, I wanted to share this response to the Victoria's Secret "Perfect Body" campaign from Dear Kate. While they changed the slogan to be less offensive, if you are looking for some comfy underwear AND some cute period panties, look no further than Dear Kate.


So not only are they a super neat idea (pretty period panties) and they have awesome marketing images. This "Perfect Body" campaign is not the first time a wide range of bodies have been used in their images.

BUT...get this, they have a line of underwear called "The League of Ladies" that depicts bad ass ladies of history as superheroes. Which, I guess they kinda are.

The only downside to "Dear Kate" underwear is that the magic science stuff that make them awesome for wearing during one's period make them not suitable for drying in a dryer. And if you're like me and a bit forgetful, you might ruin a pair.So careful!

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this glowing blog post, but I did receive some pairs of their underwear for a test run.

27 November 2014

TBT: Historical Feminist Backlash

Most people think that the US feminist or women's rights movement began at Seneca Falls, with perhaps a hat tip to Abigail Adams and her "Remember the Ladies" letter to future president John Adams. What most people do not know is that the US feminist movement was influenced by the power sharing that was found in the Iroquois Nation. While I have known of this connection for some time, what I did not know is that once Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth & others ignited the move towards suffrage and equal rights, the US government swiftly took away Iroquois women's right to vote in their Congress.

As we gather for Thanksgiving today and try to reconcile our tradition of thanks with the legacy of imperialism, I thought we should take a moment to note our feminist roots and some world class backlash against our indigenous sisters. Sadly this was not remedied until the 1960s. Another failure to see when one of us is oppressed, we are all oppressed.

Watch historian Barbara Mann discuss this backlash at the 42:50 mark:

24 November 2014

Book Release: Mothers of the Nations: Indigenous Mothering as Global Resistance, Reclaiming and Recovery


Demeter Press is pleased to announce the publication of

Mothers of the Nations: Indigenous Mothering as Global Resistance, Reclaiming and Recovery

The voices of Indigenous women world-wide have long been silenced by colonial oppression and institutions of patriarchal dominance. Recent generations of powerful Indigenous women have begun speaking out so that their positions of respect within their families and communities might be reclaimed. The book explores issues surrounding and impacting Indigenous mothering, family and community in a variety of contexts internationally. The book addresses diverse subjects, including child welfare, Indigenous mothering in curriculum, mothers and traditional foods, intergenerational mothering in the wake of residential schooling, mothering and HIV, urban Indigenous mothering, mothers working the sex trade, adoptive and other mothers, Indigenous midwifery, and more. In addressing these diverse subjects and peoples living in North America, Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Philippines and Oceania, the authors provide a forum to understand the shared interests of Indigenous women across the globe.

Mothers of the Nations, edited by Kim Anderson and Dawn Memee Lavell-Harvard is wonderfully written and captures your attention from start to finish. The stories that Drs. Anderson and Lavell-Harvard weave together from around the world are poignant, inspiring, perhaps most importantly, timely. Indigenous women, in particular, are reclaiming their indigeneity - many through birthing and mothering practices. This book is extremely diverse and will speak to readers on many levels. I highly recommend it not only for students but for anyone who is interested in understanding what decolonization looks like for Indigenous women, our families and communities.
—Carrie Bourassa, PhD, Professor, Indigenous Health Studies, Department of Indigenous Education, Health and Social Work, First Nations University of Canada

21 November 2014

How to change a tire

For some reason our last car attracted nails and screws like it was made from a magnet. We lost count of how much time and money we put into patching the tires and even a few times having to call a tow truck for help. One time we even got a flat on the tollway, which was not a happy moment at all. Now that Ella is closer to driving than not, we have definitely pondered how she will maneuver Chicago's streets behind the wheel. This was especially on our minds after touring Lane Tech and seeing their pretty awesome drivers ed course.

While I am focused on getting Ella to focus on where we are driving (street names, direction, etc) before we have to really seriously think about drivers ed, the idea of a flat is a big concern of mine. I wonder how much of it is related to her being a girl and that cars represent safety and protection. If she is out with friends, things move in a direction she's not interested in going, she can jump in the car and vamoose. And yes, I do plan to have her do a lot of vamoosing on the CTA as well.

I actually think it comes from the fact that I had a flat tire once in Chicago when I was 18. I could not remember all the steps to get the spare on, not to mention getting the lug nuts off was tough. So I relied on a very nice stranger dude who did the job for me. There was no harassment or anything bad about it, I just had to rely on the kindness of a stranger. That is one reason why I share this infographic as a quick reminder of all the steps. I do find it funny that the women get more "appropriately" dressed as the infographic goes along. But the reality is that Murphy's Law states we will be in stilettos on the day we get a flat.Well not me cause I don't wear 'em, but if you do, you know it'll happen then. Anywho, so here is a cute guide to changing a tire. And guys, I know some of you need this too.

how to change a flat tire
Image via Every Car Listed.


18 November 2014

When the child needs to give the "quit smoking" talk

In sixth grade the anti-smoking message was drilled into us HARD. I remember health class going on and on about the dangers of smoking despite it still being a sign of coolness in the last 1980s. We were subjected to very graphic photos of black lungs and diseased hearts. Smoking equaled death. I freaked the hell out.

I became the most passive aggressive anti-smoker campaigner. Fueled by multiple viewings of “Mask,” I utilized Rocky’s use to hiding anti-smoking brochures around the house where my mom would find them. She rarely ever smoked in front of me, but I knew she smoked. It was weird because she did not quite hide her smoking, but relegated it to times when she was not with me. I even tried to sabotage her smoking by squishing the cigarettes she kept in the seat pocket of her van, while also occasionally stealing a cigarette. If these things were as evil and addicting as every one is telling me, but they are also so cool and sexy…I had to try them myself.

I was an utter failure.

I failed at my attempt to become a smoker. I could never inhale. I would puff and let the smoke escape my mouth before it truly infiltrated my lungs. I became addicted to trying to look cool. I am pretty sure that the real smokers in my circle of friends knew I was a phony.

I was also a failure at getting my mom to stop smoking. Just as in “Mask,” we had a confrontation about my brochures. She asked me why I could not just come out and tell her, “Mom, I love you, please stop smoking.” I could never answer that question. I still can’t. I am pretty sure that I shrugged and tried to say just that anyway. It was my mom’s superpower to thrust the issue back onto me and me failing at throwing it back at her. She went on smoking and I went back to squishing her cigarettes whenever I could.

Sometime in high school my mom figured that I was enough of a friend that she could smoke in front of me; specifically in my car. Armed with teenage rebellion I was able to tell her to hang out the window. “I tell my friends who want to smoke in here, if you want to hang out the car while smoking, go for it, but no smoke inside the car.” She laughed and lit up. I stopped the car and asked her to get out. I want to say she put out the cigarette and we drove on with our day, but I feel like she just went on smoking because she was the mom.

I never spoke to her about her smoking after she was diagnosed with diabetes. She made it clear that since I did not live with her, her health issues were none of my business. “What are you going to do about it?” was her mantra. Looking back I know it was my mom’s way of pushing me away. That is why I implore those of you reading this to push back. My mom was 47 when she died from complications due to diabetes.

I know this is my guilt speaking, but I do wish I had done more to talk to her about her health. If you have someone in your life that smokes and you want them to quit, just tell them.

Why not take this opportunity to invite your loved on to join the Great American Smokeout on November 20th? November 20 marks the American Cancer Society’s 38th year of the Great American Smokeout (GASO), an initiative to encourage smokers to commit to quit or make a plan to quit on that day. By quitting, even for one day, smokers will take a critical step to a healthier life that can reduce the risk of cancer. Need some assistance? Call the GASO 800-number (1-800-227-2345) or join the Quit for Life Facebook page.

And good luck!

This post represents a sponsored editorial partnership with the American Cancer Society. All storytelling and opinions are, of course, my own.

03 November 2014

Space Camp: Day Two

One secret about Space Camp is that it is not just about space, but about team work. This lesson was drilled into us on the second day when we went out to a wooded area and told to find a way to escape an exploding Earth to Venus. We had to build a bridge and since we were in space, we had to stay tethered to each other, always maintain contact with the bricks AND could not speak. As you can see in the photo above, we did pretty darn well. We fell for the oldest trick in the book - we trusted our trainers! They watched us like hawks waiting for us to let go of each other or of a brick and OOPS! It floated out into space. For me it was a lot of fun because I like these type of challenges.

 We obtained our second mission and I got to be the pilot! Lea Thompson, eat your heart out. The previous night we learned that the pilot is actually the co-pilot. The shuttle commander is the actual pilot. And I'm totally ok with that! Phillip, the commander, and I focused mostly on landing the shuttle. We had that baby down. A bit off the runway, but otherwise a safe landing. Of course later on in the day when we did the real mission, we crashed miserably. But it was such an amazing experience to have to flip all these switches over and over. Ha! It sounds silly, but when you are there and you are preparing for landing...it's just awesome. Even if you have to find the three switches on this board in less than a second. Yes, they tried to keep us on the timing that actually occurs. This is why astronauts log hundreds of simulations before the real thing. They need that practice to find the switch so oxygen actually comes on!


We got a tour of the Saturn V rocket museum. These are the rockets that helped take NASA astronauts to the moon. But wait, it was not just a tour...it was a tour by one of the rocket scientists who worked on the rockets! Oh, yeah...if a group of nerds could get even more excited, it was when we walked around the corner and saw the massive engines. He walked us through all 300+ feet of the monster of technology that is really a huge can of fuel on top of five engines with a tiny room at the top for the humans to sit in.

I have seen memes that remind us that the technology in our smartphones is more advanced than the technology that took us the moon. This is correct. But having walked alongside the rocket, it is not just the computing power that landed us on the moon, but it was also the ingenuity, innovation and curiosity of the people involved. The most impressive factoid I learned was that the fuel was too hot for the metal so that is why the fuel lines zig zag. That keeps them cool enough to function.
Next up we got to play in the astronaut simulators. THIS IS WHAT I WAS WAITING FOR! THE MULTI-AXIS TRAINER!!!!! This is the spinning chair that simulates what it feels like to spin out of control. This is what friends & I were joking about me having the best vomit of my life. I rode it twice. BECAUSE IT WAS AWESOME TO THE INFINITY POWER! Do you see that smile on my face? This is when everything I was waiting for since I was 12 became reality.

31 October 2014

I have a treat for you!

 

Happy Halloween! As you can see it is time to start planning for the Chicago Toy & Game Fair. To kick things off here is a coupon for $2 off admission. The Fair runs from 10am - 6pm on Saturday, November 22nd and Sunday 10am - 5pm on November 23rd.

AND....a free family pass! And yes, big families, NO LIMIT.

GIVEAWAY RULES:
1) Comment on this blog and tell me your favorite game as a kid.
2) Additional entries (still must do #1) for tweeting, Facebooking, etc about this giveway. You can either tag me* or link to your social media mention in the comments.
3) That's it! Pretty simple, eh?

This giveaway ends on Monday, November 3rd at 12 pm Chicago time.


* My social media
T: @veronicaeye
F: vivalafeminista
IG: veronicaeye

30 October 2014

Illinois Feminista Voter Guide


It's that time again folks! And I have again put together some helpful tools to help you prepare for your visit to your polling place.

1) Where to vote? Check out "Where's My Fucking Polling Place?" Not only will it tell you where to fucking vote, but also who you can fucking vote for:

2) Who to vote for?

Since we're feministas here, I don't think I need to say who to vote for in the Governor's race, but I will point out great places to look for endorsements for the other races.
  • Judges: I put this first because most people do not take the time to get through the whole ballot to vote on judges. I think mostly because we have no idea what to do! So hit up VoteforJudges to find out what the different Bar Associations (groups of lawyers & legal experts) think of each judge. Or you can skip right to the PDF'd summary of the judges. It is important to note that a judge running for retention must receive at least 60 percent of the vote in order to be retained.
    • Interestedly VoteforJudges does not list Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier. Only those of you in Southern Illinois get to vote on him. You can read about the race at the Chicago Tribune. Page 5 [PDF] of the Illinois Bar Association ratings has their rating on him.
  • Personal PAC has a list of endorsements
  • The Better Government Association has a non-partisan comparison of the candidates for governor.  
  • IVIPO has a list of endorsements and a printable PDF sample ballot
3) What to vote for or against?

Not just people are on the ballot! But a lot of initiatives. I think that the Mujere's Latinas en Accion Guide is the one to print out and take into your polling place.

4) Wait? How will you remember all of this?

You can bring in a list of people and initiatives to vote for. You just cannot be wearing a QUINN FOR GOVERNOR button or anything that declares your vote to the public.

Do you have other voting resources feministas in Illinois should know about? Please leave them in the comments!

AND...take a photo of yourself after voting (NOT IN THE VOTING BOOTH!)  and tag it #votefeminist and share it on your favorite social media channel!