Back to the F*%#re


I mean…dam, Marty.

Hey kids! Let’s watch a show–
A movie your dad and I both know.
It’s kid-friendly time-traveling fun,
With a quantum-modified DeLorean!

Imagine my delighted surprise
At the potty-mouth on that McFly.
More education than we bargained for
With that god-damned f$#% capacitor.

I am the last person to get after someone for their language, unless I physically made that person. I firmly believe that there are no bad words, just inappropriate times to use them, but when you’re this many (holds up five fingers), every time is the inappropriate time.

We did not remember the extent or the creativity of the swearing in Back to the Future. Have my kids heard some of it? Sure. Usually not in a sanctioned venue that Mom is encouraging them to be a part of. I told myself afterward that it’s better that they hear it at home. Wait. What? Shit, that isn’t right, is it?

98.8% Is Fine


The Ancients thought the solar eclipse
Was the wrath of the great I Am.
In modern times, there’s wrath indeed–
In this God-forsaken traffic jam.

Oregon normally has a population of around four million people, not counting Sasquatch.  On Monday, thanks to the solar eclipse, we’re supposed to have an extra million visitors in the state (and not evenly dispersed).  The traffic started yesterday, and the logjam of RVs, rental cars, and out-of-towners will only get worse.  (If you’re wondering why Oregon is especially blessed with solar tourism, we are the closest destination for all of Asia.)

We live just outside the band of totality.  I am NOT driving the 20 miles to be in totality on Monday.  We’re going to hang out with our neighbors, drink up the champagne they don’t want to move to Idaho, and not be in the car for six hours.

Side note:  That little orange dot in the glasses is the sun.  I hope everyone feels like they got their money’s worth afterwards.



what’s brown and sticky?
someone’s been walking their tree
oaken excremEnt

I once seriously considered starting a Tumblr of “Toys that look like turds.”  I had small children and small geriatric dogs at the time, and scouring the carpeting before you stepped was a necessary habit.  This beautiful work of nature is about 18″ long, so I have to conclude it’s Ent droppings.  Guess they need to install one of those DogSpot bag dispensers in Fangorn.

Shadow of Momdor


I’m not doing dishes,
The laundry can wait.
I’m taking a break
Before I self-immolate.

I was patient ’til two,
When fit pitching commenced.
Why do days have more hours?
It doesn’t make sense?

The Minion keyboard,
And the too soapy bath,
Your unbrushing of teeth,
They aroused some wrath.

I won’t take it out
On my brood suburban.
Instead I’ll hunt Mordor
And drink all the bourbon.

You go commando,
And eat with no forks.
Mom’s in the basement,
Slaughtering orcs.

I find video games to be very therapeutic in a sort of violently fun way.  I’m about 65% of the way through the Game of the Year Edition of Shadow of Mordor.  I might be able to finish it by the end of the summer, since I don’t play it in front of the kids.  Then it’s on to Witcher III.  My older kid is a Minecraft nerd.  Raisin’ ’em right.  Gonna have some little engineers around here.

Also…there might be some typos because that bourbon isn’t a prop.  C’est la vie.



I’m spending this summer’s TV time on Winchesters,
Because most of my friends are hardcore investors.

Season One left me, frankly, shaking my head.
How are these Duke clones not already dead?

I don’t like Impalas, and neither is my “type,”
The things that they hunt are all bogans and snipe.

I mostly wanted them to STOP WITH THE TALKING.
Get on with the hunting and beheading and stalking.

Season Two was slightly better, less earnestly bad.
Eventually they got over their issues with Dad.

By Season Five, I admit I was hooked.
This show’s better than it initially looked.

It turns out, they needed to poke fun at themselves
While salting and burning the goblins and elves.

Plus wondrous Heaven opened, and deposited Cass.
God’s agenda gave the show quite a kick in the ass.

Ambiguous angel, can we trust him or not?
I’m still not sure, with how far I’ve got.

Sam and Dean are a co-dependent mess,
But I like them both and hope for the best.

They can’t get out of their own way, painfully so.
But their charming flaws are the heart of the show.

I’ve been to Hell and back twice, at the halfway point,
I expect to go again, before we blow this joint.

It’s preposterous fun, all wrapped in the boys,
With a side of humanity under the noise.

When the writing is suspect or the plot gets thin,
I excuse it ’til the good stuff starts up again.

Am I Superfan Becky? Don’t be an idjit.
I ain’t seen every little thing they did yet.


I’m watching Supernatural for the first time, and it’s grown on me a lot.  The lesson there, in some ways, is that fans will excuse a few less than good episodes if you get the big thing right–main characters you care about and want to see succeed.  Bonus points if you read it out loud in your best Bobby Singer.

As for the children in the picture, there’s a month left before school starts and I’ll leave it to you to decide who the salt is protecting.

The Only Princess I Could Be


I started elementary school in 1979.  That’s roughly two years after Star Wars: A New Hope was released, and about a year before The Empire Strikes Back hit the theaters.  Empire was the first movie that my parents took all of us to see, and I vividly remember the experience.  I don’t know if I’d seen the first movie on TV already, but I knew all about it.

I was a strongly opinionated little girl with no tolerance for bullshit and no interest in dolls.  I never lasted long in groups of girls.  They either played some mind-numbingly boring games involving feeding babies over and over, or they spent their time cruelly dividing each other up in order to hurt as many feelings as possible.  They didn’t DO anything.  I wanted to run and jump and use my imagination.  I wanted to have the chance to lead, to pick the adventure.  The girls included me only so long as I played by their rules and stayed in my place.  (Still very bad at staying in my place.)

Something amazing was happening in those years, though.  The boys at school spent every recess playing Star Wars games they’d made up, and I knew Star Wars.  I wanted to play, too, and because of Princess Leia–they needed me.  They didn’t just tolerate a girl playing with them, they had to welcome me and give me equal footing.  I was a part of decisions, I could save the day, and my ideas were just as valid as any the boys had.  During those years, I had a place where my strengths were celebrated as assets.  It was powerful stuff.

Of course, it changed as the boys moved on to Dungeons and Dragons and the girls got meaner.  David Brickey pushed me off the Big Toy and I hit him on the head with my Holly Hobby lunchbox.  Star Wars faded, and the games the boys were playing involved sports (let me tell you how many different kinds of athletic equipment have hit me in the eye) or sound effects that the girls used to mock me without mercy.  The Dungeon Master didn’t have the foresight to realize he would want to date me in high school, and didn’t let me join his campaigns.  I was gently nudged out of the boys’ world and had no place with the girls.  They didn’t want a Leia, they wanted followers.  I couldn’t do that.

It wasn’t all gloom and lonely pre-EMO moping, though.  There was a lot of that, don’t misunderstand, but I also carried that feeling–the truth that inside, I was just as worthy as Carrie Fisher’s unapologetically powerful Princess–for the rest of my life.  When my career was threatened by a traditional firm because I was “abrasive” and “challenging,” I found a better job and left.  I learned a little diplomacy and softened my rough edges, but I never surrendered my fire.  Neither did Princess Leia, and neither did Carrie Fisher.

Thank you for giving a square peg of a little girl the courage to argue that there ought to be a square hole, and a woman the strength not to strive for equality, but to assume it.  I owe you one, my Princess.  More than one.





I think I’m in love with my phone.
I’d like to say “Not like THAT,”
But I’m not so sure that’s true, as I
Swipe this way, oh YES, and that.

I touch it more than my husband,
Passionately sedating myself.
What about him? Oh, I don’t know.
He can take care of himself.

I should put down my screen.
Ask him to go for a walk.
But if we could no longer text,
I can’t figure out how we’d talk?


Note: I’ve found the solution to this is to introduce your elementary-aged children to Pokémon Go. You’ll never have your phone again.  Also, whoops.  I forgot my titles are all caps, and a little capitalization joke wouldn’t show up.  I just didn’t plan ahead for capitalization jokes.

Pokemom. So?



I’m forty-two years old
But don’t you say that I’m over.
You can’t even see my game
‘Cause I take my kids for cover.

I don’t care what it is,
Weedle, Meowth, or Spearow.
I’m gonna catch ’em all.
Hell, it’s my new careero.

I’m looking for that round thing
Covered in wriggly stuff.
Meanwhile, I’ll just grab my ‘balls
And catch this Jigglypuff.

I used twenty Pokeballs
Locking up a Gastly.
Never gonna give him up,
I’m the PokeRickAstley.

I’ve got so much Pokecred,
I’m the yugest Big Fromage.
Honestly, man, I’m so great
I deserve a Pokemontage.

When I finally get them all,
Spots, spikes, and paislies.
I bet they’ll be worth a FORTUNE,
Just like my Beanie Babies.


Note: Yes, people are actually selling their accounts full of rare Pokémon on eBay. I do not get this, just like I didn’t understand Beanie Babies during that craze. I buy bags of Beanie Babies at Goodwill, cut the carefully protected tags off, and wash them–then I give them to my kids to play with. Also…. #rickrolled.

I Do Not Believe You, George R.R. Martin


I started watching that Game of Thrones,
I realize I’m a little behind.
Y’all are about 5,000 deaths ahead
But you keep going, I don’t mind.

See, I read the books already
So I’m not exactly a newbie.
I’m not shocked by a little blood
Or the sight of the ubiquitous booby.

I’m not scared of your spoilers,
I knew more than you did to start,
But my advantage seems to have slipped away
Because The Winds of Winter are mere farts.

Yes. I’m doubting you, Mr. Martin.
Another book? He’s just pretending.
I’ve given in, I’ll watch the show,
Just so I can see the ending.

Getting a PhD in Biochemistry Is a Lot Harder Than Running a 5K

We went to a wedding this weekend for one of my husband’s coworkers. I had met the affianced on a couple of occasions, and some people from the office were there, but otherwise I was swimming in a sea of strangers. Since I am naturally inclined to pop under the table when confronted with a Mass of Humanity[1], I had my best “executive wife” game face on. I was charming and engaged, offered a witty riposte when appropriate, listened with rapt attention when spoken to. (My rapt attention is a force of nature. Think of it like having Counselor Troi look deeply into your eyes and ask how you’re feeling. People spill.) I was using up my reserve of social interaction points, but not so quickly that I was worried about it.

Can you show me how to get...away from all these people?  Gah.  I can't breathe.

Can you show me how to get…away from all these people? Gah. I can’t breathe.

We watched the lovely couple say their vows and moved to tables to wait for the buffet line to open. After round seventy gazillion of pictures was done, the emcee introduced the wedding party with a few personal tidbits and seated them at the head table. It turns out, the sister of the groom has a PhD in biochemistry. This is a great and wonderful thing. Lady scientists are a huge intellectual turn-on for me. It’s knowing someone’s brain size before you even have to talk to her .

Now…maybe I’ve been hanging out in the running community too much lately. Certain behaviors are more accepted there than in regular society. For example, biochemists appear not to be used to getting a “high-five for science.” When I introduced myself to the lady scientist, she was quite taken aback to have someone fangirling her over her PhD. Since there was no alcohol at this wedding (gasp!), she spent a moment evaluating whether my apparent social and/or mental deficit was dangerous or just awkward. I did get my high-five, but I also got the question, “Why?”

I confess, I didn’t have a very good explanation. I hadn’t exactly thought out what I was going to say, well, because of running. If you slap palms with someone who just finished a race, they don’t stop and say, “Why did you do that?” They say, “Woooooo!!! Damn right I’m awesome!!! Wooooo!!!” So… I probably sounded sort of stupid, which was embarrassing and confusing. “Because SCIENCE!” wasn’t an adequate answer for an actual scientist. I have a college degree and a lettery credential of my own, but I couldn’t come up with anything convincing enough to stop her from asking who had invited me and how I was related to the wedding and did I really know her brother all that well?

She was quiet and sort of kept to herself.  - All the Neighbors After They Found the Bodies

She was quiet and sort of kept to herself.  She didn’t look crazy.          – All the Neighbors After They Found the Bodies

I’ve had time to think about it a little more. Here’s what I wanted the science lady to know: Science is something that I am personally very grateful for. Science has not only saved my life, but improved the quality of my life in ways that I don’t explain to most people, because science made it so I don’t have to. I was born with a cleft lip/cleft palate. I have had five reconstructive surgeries. In the 1800’s, my chances of surviving infancy would have been very bad. Instead, I had two surgeries, and my mom fed me using specialized equipment made of those space-age plastics that were so popular in the mid-twentieth century. Then, like all cleft palate kids, I had about 471 ear infections, several of which were bad enough to have cooked my brain without antibiotics. At the very least, I would be deaf for all intents and purposes. Then, in high school, I had three reconstructive surgeries to make my appearance more symmetrical and close my palate. Oh, and ten years of orthodontia, because I had a seriously messed up snaggletooth thing going on.

There are countless ways that science touches everything we do—but science touches a lot of what I am. I do not have to explain to people what is “wrong” with my face. Sometimes people see it (generally they have a close relative with a cleft lip), but mostly they see a little scar. My speech doesn’t have the nasal echo that a cleft palate often causes. I have never thought of it as a handicap. I have, however, said many grateful prayers that I was born when and where I was (and for parents who sought out the best doctors with the best possible approach). The medical skill and technique was available. I not only survived, but thrived. I feel grateful to those scientists—the doctors, the researchers, the chemical engineers—because without their discoveries and techniques, I would be a completely different person. Science saved my life, and gave me more of a life than I could have ever hoped for 100 years before.

On top of that, when a woman goes into a field that is traditionally dominated by men, as most of STEM is—she deserves a little extra support from the rest of us. I worked at a large semiconductor company, and I’ve seen what it’s like to be the only technical woman in the room. I have an Up With Women campaign going, where I support women I know individually. It’s my own brand of microfeminism[2]. See a woman doing something cool? Run over and tell her you think it’s cool. Here’s the template: “Hey, insert name, I just wanted to tell you that I really admire how you _______________. It’s something that makes the world a better place.” End of story. Don’t add “because I can’t do that” or “I wish I could do that” or “but your shoes are atrocious.” Don’t make it about you. If women could be supportive of women in an unqualified way…maybe the opinions of all those men in those male-dominated STEM fields would be easier to navigate. Be in someone’s corner. Tell her that bread is delicious. Tell her that PhD looks really fine on her. Tell her that the screaming tantrum her toddler threw is not a sign of failure, it’s normal, and you appreciate how she handled it. Be her fan, even when it’s awkward and makes you feel slightly silly.

You may want to put more thought and effort into your supportive actions.

You may want to put more thought and effort into your supportive actions.

I’m not sorry I went over and did my fangirl routine at the smart lady scientist. Sure, it was sort of awkward at first, but by the time I got to my little “Yeah, Science!” hoppy cheer[3], she had pretty much decided I was just a harmless nutter. I’m going to work on my technique and do it again the next chance I get. Maybe I will start carrying an autograph book with me and collect signatures–because getting a doctorate full of sciency goodness is a hell of a lot harder than running a 5K. Women of STEM, I am unabashedly a fan. Give me an S! Give me a C! Give me an I….

[1] A Mass of Humanity is any group of people over six, whether I know them all or not.

[2] I made up this word, as far as I know. It’s far more than just being nice and giving an occasional compliment. I probably should write a whole “thing” about it. It means ditching your own insecurities and competitive judginess, and just helping another woman see something about herself that she desperately needs to. For example—fighting for your employee to get the raise she deserves, so you can tell her that she kicks ass tangibly. Or telling a woman who is habitually thoughtful that you admire that, and want to be her when you grow up. TELL them. It’s a personal touch. It’s someone you know, or someone you would like to know.  I have mixed feelings about “FEMINISM,” but that doesn’t mean I’m not into women.  Wait… um.  …  I have no graceful exit from that.

[3] Yes, I really did a little cheer and hopped up and down. This is the part of the routine that needs the most work. The French judge didn’t deign to score it, and the Russian….yeesh. Ouch.