Harassment/Misconduct/Criminal Behavior

Friday, 27 October 2017, 7:20

Well, The Rock Test wasn’t what I was expecting (I was thinking “rock”, not “Rock”), but yes, it’s valid. This all has been yet another revelation in my life. It’s a bit like my experience with work/office affairs (no, I’ve never had one of those, that isn’t what I mean. And I’m not trying to relate affairs to harassment, so bear with me). There was a time in my young professional life when I would hear rumors of Mike who was married to Sally, having a fling with his co-worker Jane who was married to Bill, Or not married. Whatever. And I would think, “no way, they’re married”, or “no way, they’re just friends”. And gradually my obliviousness would be shattered by the reality that Mike and Jane really *were* having a fling, and it wasn’t really such a rare thing either.

Obliviousness has often been part of my character, sad to say.

When it comes to sexual harassment/misconduct/criminal behavior – I think my professional life has been a little different from many, especially in the IT field. For most of my 30+ years in the field, my managers were women. So the environment wasn’t male-dominated, and that made it easy to engage in the thought process that what I experienced was “normal”. My managers treated me as a professional, I treated them, and my coworkers, as professionals, the world turned as it should. Did I know of situations where women were subjected to things they shouldn’t have had to endure? Yes, but those were isolated, and everybody knew those guys were pigs. That’s what I always thought, anyway. And now I look back and realize that once again, I was oblivious to things going on in plain sight. Maybe not in my immediate environment, but still…and I think about the women with whom I’ve worked, and I wonder just how much crap they’ve had to put up with through the years, and I wonder how many signs I missed, how many situations might have been helped if I’d just noticed what was going on. Maybe none – maybe I wouldn’t have been willing to speak up. I like to think I would have, maybe that’s just vanity on my part. But being a white male has meant I could stay safely within my perspective and ignore so many things. As one of my daughters once pointed out, being male, 6’5″, and not a skinny guy meant I could feel comfortable in situations where a woman would feel unsafe. I know, this is rambling but what I’m trying to say is, learning to break from my happy little world, learning to explore other perspectives, learning to have empathy for others, has taken a lifetime for me. And that’s the first step, I think, that people need to embrace. As we began to be inundated by reports of women claiming harassment, my first thought was “really”. And then I began to think “yes, really”. To the women I’ve worked with, if I missed things along the way, if I ignored the signs, I’m sorry. I really am. Being oblivious isn’t an excuse.

Category : Life

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Please Don’t Stop Trying

Tuesday, 3 October 2017, 10:58

When I was in Belfast 10 days ago, I saw the “peace wall” and got depressed. The progress I thought they had made really isn’t there. Basically, they’ve stopped killing each other, which is good, for sure, but you just get the feeling that it could all come crashing down with one incident. Our cab driver (we took the Black Cab Tour, which was great, BTW) told us he didn’t think that would happen, because they’ve come too far, but still…

But as I was reading the messages written on the wall, some good, some mundane, some just typical graffiti garbage, one small phrase near the ground jumped out at me:

“Please don’t stop trying”.

If I could find whoever wrote that, I would give them an enormous bear hug. It kept the spark from going out. Today, 5000 miles away, we need to write that message again.

“Please don’t stop trying”

When maniacs kill dozens of people with guns that are adored by the NRA and their gun-worshiping sheep, and they tell us new laws won’t stop it – please don’t stop trying.

When the president lies about everything, and his supporters stay with him regardless, and you think there is no hope for sanity in our political system – please don’t stop trying.

When it seems like the social progress we’ve made over the past fifty years is suddenly rolling back – please don’t stop trying.

Please don’t stop trying.

Category : Life, Politics

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We Are

Tuesday, 6 June 2017, 21:32

We are the ones who came after
We are the dreams of old people
In the days before they were old
The sun of other days
The stars of other nights
Belong to us now
Belong to us now
For a short time
Our dreams will visit like fireflies
On a summer night
They dance and swirl
And slip away to tomorrow

Category : Poetry

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Too early for pumpkins?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017, 13:34

Category : Gardening

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Somewhere Out There, Updated

Tuesday, 28 March 2017, 16:34

Constellation Opiuchus

Walk outside some clear evening this summer, and look to the south (assuming you’re in the Northern hemisphere!). You’ll see a bright red star – Antares – and if you’re familiar with the night sky, you’ll recognize the constellation Scorpius. Look above Scorpius, into a fairly dark area without many bright stars. This is the constellation of Opiuchus (a bit of trivia here: Opiuchus is actually the 13th Zodiacal constellation, but having only 12 makes things simpler – sort of like how the Big Ten Conference continues to call itself the Big Ten even though it has somewhere between 12 and 16 teams, depending on which reports and rumors you believe). While you’re looking at Opiuchus, think about the mantra of some on the Right, that government can’t do anything right. And then think about this: somewhere in the patch of sky containing Opiuchus, a spaceship called Voyager 1 is continuing the journey begun on September 5, 1977; Voyager 2, actually launched 16 days earlier, and Voyager 1 had a combined cost of about $250 million (not including support in the ensuing years, which has raised the entire mission cost to somewhere around $900 million). Both spaceships have continued to perform important scientific missions as they hurtle in roughly opposite directions towards stars they won’t reach for 40,000 years. Their nuclear power plants will stop long before that – another 10 years or so – but as long as they have power they will continue to send data back to Earth. Currently, Voyager 1 is about 12,800,500,000 miles from Earth (that’s over 12 billion miles). Voyager 2 is about 10 1/2 billion miles in the opposite direction, in the constellation Pavo (the Peacock) in the southern hemisphere.

And we’re still learning. Data from Voyager 1 has revealed that the structure of the solar system isn’t quite what we thought. There’s a layer at the edge that wasn’t suspected. Is this important? Well, we don’t know, and won’t for a long time. Did 15th century Europe know that the islands they had discovered in the western ocean were one day going to be of vital importance to western civilization? Here’s what we do know: science matters, even if you try to deny the sometimes uncomfortable truth. And science at the level of the Voyager missions is only done at the national level. No private research lab is ever going to do science at this scale. Government does, and often does it very well even at the bleeding edge, and in these times of budget cuts and debt reduction, we would be wise to remember that.

Category : Science, Stargazing

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