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You like me! Of course, you probably don't know me very well.

Archive for July, 2011

credit where due

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Yesterday I mowed the lawn.

All by myself.

Doesn’t it look nice? See, it was getting so long that Maida was getting lost in the grass, and Crockett is still out of town. He usually does it, but I told him (in sort of a snotty voice), ‘it’s my house too, and I can do it’. Before we left for summer camp, he showed me the string pully thing and the gas cap and I very seriously nodded and then totally forgot.

Turns out it’s not that hard. I mean getting the lawnmower to work. Actually using the lawnmower is a different proposition. It’s heavy and noisy and stinky and unwieldy. I went to the gym afterwards and was able to do about 60% of my normal arm workout because my muscles were still in recovery from the shake of the handle.

After I finished the mowing, I called Crockett and declared myself a lawnmowing goddess. Then I sent him the picture you see above. Then I called him back, to hear more about how proud of my mowing he was.

Then, when I was at the gym, I remembered the recent Jezebel post titled Should Husbands Be Rewarded For Being Functional Human Beings?

The post includes a video of an Australian morning show in which some dude and two women are having the following discussion:

The dude: “Why not have a scheme with your husband that is not unlike a frequent flier scheme? Where say for example the husband did the vacuuming or the dishwashing, they got a lot of points that they could use for a week in Thailand with their mates? Something like that where you encourage them instead of expecting something for nothing.”

The more outraged of the two women: “So you’re saying treat you like three year olds? Why do you need that to do housework?”

The dude: “It’s in our genetic makeup. We need incentive.”

He comes across like a complete asshole, and when I saw it the first time I actually took the topic to a breakfast I was having with my friend Laura. Why do some people seem to feel that men should be praised and rewarded for doing housework? It only underlines the concept of housework being ‘women’s work’, which isn’t a great proposition for either gender. A man who loves to cook or really wants to spend time with his babies and knows that changing diapers is an important part of that can be made to feel effeminate, and a woman who doesn’t feel either of those things can be made to feel like a failure.

Today, I took on what I (apparently) have always thought of as a man’s chore.

If you’d asked me, I wouldn’t have acknowledged that. I would have said no, I just prefer to be inside. Moving furniture around? Sure. Pushing around something heavy outside? No thank you. If you want more proof, I’ll show you my garden – even traditionally ‘lady’ outdoor fun isn’t my thing. I don’t like dirt. Or bugs. Or plants that aren’t in pots, really.

The thing is, when I was pushing the mower around the front yard, I wanted people to notice me. Cyclists and neighbors – I wanted them to see that I was taking on something that … well, women in my neighborhood don’t usually do. I wanted Crockett to tell me that I’m awesome. I wanted praise for doing something that is traditionally man’s work.

Damn it all to hell.

Feminism is hard. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

(A girlfriend of mine is getting into engagement ring mode, and she asked me if I ever looked at rings, and I explained my problem with said rings. She told me that feminism is fine until it gets in the way of having pretty things. I laughed. She wasn’t kidding.)

Anyway. I mowed the lawn today. I also cleaned the kitchen, hung up a new shower curtain in the bathroom, and watched Piranha for the fourth time. No praise needed for any of it.

Actually – fuck it. Praise needed for ALL of it. That’s how I roll now. Equal opportunity praise.

babies teaching babies

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Over the last few days, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to around 60 K – 5 teachers about diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) careers.

Not a lot of what I had to say was super interesting. Women have leveled out at about 26% of the STEM workforce, and we represent twice that much of the total workforce. Underrepresented minority groups represent 29% of the American workforce and only 9% of those working in STEM careers.

Blah didie blah.

I love this stuff, I do, but I don’t really have any relevant conclusions. With the elementary school teachers, I was mostly trying to open a discussion on the topic.

I didn’t get a lot of conclusions out of them either.

What I did notice, though, is there were two – two – teachers who appeared to be over 40. Another 10 or so were pretty clearly in their 30s. I’m sure that of the remaining 48 or so, several more were in their early 30s – it’s just kind of hard to tell, you know?

The point is, the overwhemingly majority of them pretty clearly had a 2 in front of their age.

Reviewing my elementary school experience, my teachers were uniformly young. Even Mrs. Ward, who I thought was super old, looked pretty young when I saw her 10 years later. If they weren’t all in their 20s, they were damn close.

Is this a thing? Do teachers move out of elementary school when they get older? Or do teachers move out of teaching all together as they get older? I think had plenty of middle aged high school teachers, but a) my school attracted lifers and b) I may have overestimated their ages from my I’m-never-going-to-be-that-old smugness at 16.

And, if elementary school teachers are mostly young and this wasn’t just a fluke, what does that mean for kids? Are 25 year olds the only ones who can keep up with elementary schoolers? Are the kids missing out on a level of maturity that they would gain if they spent all day with 50 year olds?

I want to close with an open letter to my first grade teacher.

Dear Miss B,

I really liked your fingernails. Even when you used them to pull my loose teeth that one time.

Also, thank you for using McDonalds as motivation to teach me to read. It totally worked and I seriously doubt you’d still be allowed to do it now.

I really hope that baby you left to have worked out for you. Also, if you haven’t started wearing your fingernails shorter, you might want to consider it. Inch long florescent nails were cool in 1987. Now they’d be lame. Just a thought.

Love, Emma

thanks for asking, hulu

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

But no, I’m good.

mah mah mah mah Super 8

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

I am now batting 1000 for crying at the movie theater. For at least the last year, if not my entire life.

Actually? I do remember crying during a showing of Major League II when I was in 8th grade. We can actually probably assume that this unnecessary crying does in fact carry through my entire life.

I’m telling you this in the spirit of full disclosure, because I’m about to laud Super 8, and when I say it made me cry I don’t want you to wrongly assume that means something special.


Super 8.

Here’s the thing about E.T.-esque movies. Well, here’s a thing about E.T.-esque movies. I was never that into them. Sure, I saw it. Didn’t everyone see E.T.? I really only remember seeing it once, though, and I probably only cried fourteen or fifteen times during that viewing. It was good. It was sweet, sort of, and interesting.

It’s possible that the reason Super 8 appeals to me more is that it isn’t actually a Spielberg film. He just produced – J.J. Abrams did the writing and directing.

I don’t think that’s it, though. I actually think that it’s coming to the genre from an adult perspective.

By that, I mean having crushes on the dads instead of the kids.

The children in this type of movie are admirable. They’re brave – they explore things that are scary (caves, alien spaceships, creepy woods, etc). They’re gutsy – they put their own safety at risk to hide or protect people (or aliens, or … well, it’s usually aliens). They’re learning who they are. They explore their friendships, which are generally strong and awesome.

It’s not that I don’t admire those kids. I just never identified with them. I had friends, but not prevent-a-hostile-takeover-of-the-world friends. I would not have gone into those woods or those caves. I sure as hell wouldn’t have gone into a spaceship of ANY kind. I explored via books, not actual walking around outside exploration. The biggest thing I hid from my parents was that when I cut food to share with my brother I always cut it 60/40 and took the bigger half. If asked to hide something from the authorities I probably would have turned that shit over and lobbied for witness protection.

While I was watching Super 8, I found myself wondering how the main character (a 14 year old boy), would deal with a step-mother.

Are you suggesting that the fact that Kyle Chandler played the dad had something to do with that? How DARE you.

What's that you say? Me, have a type?

The parents in these movies are usually struggling. Life isn’t perfect for them – maybe a spouse died, maybe someone lost a job, maybe a move is imminent. While they’re dealing with those issues, their damn kids are running all over creation finding crashed spaceships and pissing off the military.

They’re still young enough to be pretty.

Everything about the kids in Super 8 is perfect and exactly as you would expect.

Everything about the parents in Super 8 is heartwrenching, surprising, and tearjerking. The peripherals (the parents with 7 kids who are so worried about the boy who lost his mom, for example) are pitch perfect and the kind of people everyone has lived down the street from at one time or another. The two main dads, though – they’re glorious. They struggle with their own problems while they love their respective kids, and they do it in ways that are unpredictable enough to keep you engaged while the kids are doing exactly what you expect.

I could (and might) go back and watch E.T. and Flight of the Navigator, see if those parents have the same underlying story line. Maybe, since I was 14 myself, I missed it.

Maybe, though, Super 8 is just a wonderful stand out in what is otherwise sort of a predictable type of movie.

I mean, it’s no Major League II…

but it’s pretty wonderful.

You should probably go see it now.

But Kyle Chandler’s character is all mine.

stop whining about netflix before I bitch slap you

Monday, July 18th, 2011

First – what is ‘bitch slap’ from? Does it mean to slap someone who is a bitch, or slap someone like you’re a bitch?

Questions-Emma-has period is over. People whining about Netflix period has begun.

Some background: last week, Netflix sent an email to all of their customers informing them of a price change. If you don’t currently have Netflix, you’ll have to sign up at the new price if you so desire. If you do have Netflix, the changes don’t kick in until September.

The changes can be summed up with one simple difference. Streaming and DVDs by mail are now two different products. Instead of buying a single plan that includes both streaming and movies by mail, you have to subscribe to the two separately, and if you do decide to keep both, you will have to pay more. The cost difference is anywhere from $3 to $6 a month, depending on how many movies by mail you want. For example, I currently can have 3 physical DVDs and get unlimited streaming to my phone, computer, and iPad – for $19.99. In September, I will pay $23.98.

Now that we’ve covered how TERRIBLE AND HORRIFIC SUCH A THING IS, let’s see how people are reacting online, shall we?

Taryn Fiol, in a post on Unplggd, writes that she (he?) probably only watches $7 worth of movies a month. There’s not a lot of information on how Taryn came to that conclusion – how do you price streaming movies? Do you assume that you rented them at the Redbox and just estimate a dollar for each one? What if you don’t finish the movie? Was it worth less? The $9.99 price was worth it for $7 worth of flicks (apparently), but neither the DVDs or the streaming is worth $8 a month on it’s own.

Fine. Nice cost/benefit assessment, person with the genderly unclear name. You get a gold star for reasonableness.

The comments on the article were a little less deserving:

  • I agree it feels like a big screw you to their customers to up it as much as they are. … come on, they don’t have the biggest overhead and for customers who’ve been with them form [sic] the beginning, it really is a jerk move on their parts. Top that off with not being able to see newly released to dvd movies for a month or so after their release because of netflix’s dumb rules. Sheesh. – Yes, it is in Netflix’s best interest to say screw you to their customers. Good for you for catching that, internet commenter.
  • I’m actually more than a little irritated–and the plan’s going up $6 not $5. But it’s not the money, it’s the idea that Netflix has such flagrant disregard for customers who’ve been loyal for a very long time–long before streaming was a possibility on the site. Occasional price hikes, OK. A deliberate attempt to rifle us, not OK. What? Those with stakes in Netflix aren’t going to be billionaires anymore? Mere millionaires? … And the only thing I watch streaming is SVU, and that’s gone the way of the dodo, too. – What is ‘rifling’ someone? Is that something they explained on SVU?

I’m not claiming that any of these people are crazy, but they do seem to be taking this whole thing awfully personally.

These people are getting closer to crazy:

See? More firmly on the unreasonable train, but not nuts.

But all of the people who expressed a sentiment like this?

Fucking nutballs. Jesus H Christ. First of all – SHE WAS FOUND INNOCENT. Ahem. Second of all – what? I just spent a few minutes trying to think of a similar hyperbolic comparison and literally couldn’t come up with one. Like comparing a rise in the cost of flea collars to Michael Vick and his doggie shenanigans? Nah.

Anyway, there are two different threads of whining here.

1) Was Netflix justified in raising the price?

Well, yeah. I mean, in that they’re a company that provides a service, they’re justified in charging whatever they want for that service. More specifically though, are they charging a reasonable amount of money for the service they provide?

Remember when I used to work in telecommunications?

What kills me about telecom right now is this idea that it should be free. (There’s a whole net neutrality thing in here too, but let us stay away from that clusterfuck.) Someone pays for the shit that makes the internet run. Netflix does in fact pay money for the videos that their end users stream. They pay to store that data. They pay to get that data to places where someone like Comcast can pick it up to send it to your house. Hell, every time that data moves, Netflix pays someone. At least once, and sometimes more.

They ALSO pay for the DVDs that they mail (and they pay the cost of mailing them). They pay people to deal with those DVDs. They pay for the database systems that organize the hundreds of thousands of conflicting queues that are out there.

I’m not claiming that the average user costs Netflix anything near $15 a month.

If the average user DID, we wouldn’t have Netflix, now would we?

Netflix isn’t cheating you. Netflix has, in my BOE analysis (which I won’t share with you because I’m pretty sure that some of what I used was confidential pricing information) , been underpriced since they added unlimited streaming for a bump of $2 – 3/month.

Netflix is trying to make some damn money. Sue ’em.

P.S. I heard a rumor that they just finished negotiations with Starz and some other company that required the number of streaming users to be contractually limited. As in, if they had more streaming subscribers than some upper limit, they’d have to pay more to stream Starz movies whether or not anyone was actually watching those movies. That’s a pretty good reason to give people who aren’t using streaming to opt out for a price cut, don’t you think?

2) But Emmmmmaaaaaaa, there’s nothing to watch!

Fine. If there’s nothing to watch and they’re literally not using it, they should have cancelled at $10.

If what they mean is that they want to be able to watch things that just left the theater or just aired last night and they want them right now this very second and they just absolutelycannotwaitforaDVDinthemail…

Then I want to know how much they pay for their cable television. If it’s less than twice what they pay for Netflix, I will literally eat my words.¬†At the risk of sounding like a grandma (get off my lawn you damn kids), there’s never anything on cable.

(Did anyone else see that episode of Scooby Doo where Shaggy had to eat his words and so they carved them onto a sandwich that was like 30 feet long and then Scooby ate them for him? I would like a cheesecake with ‘quit whining about Netflix’ written on the top in raspberry sauce please.)

These people need to either decide that it’s no longer worth it for them or realize that it’s still a pretty slick service and cut out one Starbucks visit a month.

Whichever one they choose, they need to shut the hell up about it.

It’s making us (Netflix users, internet users, Americans, whoever) sound like brats.