Thursday, April 30, 2009

Being One of the Only

I get it. I'm a girl in a field that's dominated by men and I have been for a long time. I do think that software development is even behind the physics community which is saying something. I'm still on some Fermilab mailing lists and the other day I saw an e-mail about a "Women Scientists and parenting" meeting/users group or something to that effect. My question was immediately why isn't there is a group for men scientists and parenting. It always feels like the science community looks at women who have children and they wonder how they can do both, and yet they don't give that regard to men. But I'm not in physics anymore and that's one of the reasons that I decided to leave.

In software development so far it seems that the Woman to Men ratio is even smaller than in physics. I don't actually have a problem with this 95% of the time because I've always been a tom boy, gotten along better with men (Did you know Jason and I were good friends for about a year and a half before we started dating). I can totally hang as "one of the dudes". It's been joked about at my company, Obtiva, that I'm more of one of the dudes than the dudes themselves given my love for any kind of sporting event. Many times, I've been all, "Did you see that great catch Reed Johnson made last night" and I get the "What's a Reed Johnson" look. I laugh and they laugh and we move on. The guys at Obtiva are a great bunch of dudes and I've never felt uncomfortable around them and we can do the give and take thing and everyone is fine and nothing is over the line. So, right, 95% of the time, I'm totally fine.

Then there is the other 5% of the time. The times when a client will say something to me that would never be said to man or similarly say a "funny comment about some hot chick" and everyone will laugh and I'll be like, "wait, I don't get it" or, more to the point, I totally get it but I realize that I don't get to be part of the joke or, at that point, part of the group.

Recently there was a talk given by Matt Aimonetti at GoGaRuco which had images of scantily clad women. Read: a few soft core porn scenes. The first slide has the title of the talk, with a woman's butt in a G-string next to it. Don't believe me? Go here and you can see that slide plus a few others....a full on porn scenes etc etc. (Probably NSFW as I discovered when I started looking through the talk). There has been, as you can imagine, a lot of internet buzz going around about it. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to find all that, because I don't want to get into the back and forth about who said what and rather I just wanted to discuss how this made me feel.

I didn't know about this when we sat down for our weekly studio meeting at Obtiva and when it was brought up I was very very upset. It's not that I'm a prudish kind of person, but Jeezus could you be more unprofessional? The conference organizer said that if anyone at Google, Apple of Microsoft did anything like that they would be fired immediately. What's the most disappointing, I think, is the fact that higher members of the Rails community are all for it. Hell yes, let's use the power of sex to get people to pay attention. Or about just sharing knowledge without it being gimmicky? Be funny and clever because you are...not because you are going to one tried and true thing that might work because you know 95% of your audience will respond the way you want and that's really what you care about...getting to the majority of the crowd.

This post is getting too long and I even waited 12 hours before writing it so it wouldn't be ranty and long and all WOMEN POWERY. In the end, it's like those awkward moments. It's part of that 5% of the time that I don't get to be a part of it. Put naked women on slides at a talk, have it approved by the conference, make jokes about it and I can laugh because I get what the joke is, but it's another time that I'm not actually a part of it. I have to stand on the outside of the inner circle and realize that not yet are women really invited to be a part of this community. I'm not ok with that.

As I said earlier the employees of Obtiva have an attitude that is 180 degrees from that behavior. I am happy that Todd Webb brought it up at our meeting because even though that behavior is not present at Obtiva, I think it's still good to say, "Oh hey by the way, we should be aware that this happened and we aren't ok with that". Thank you to Tom Kersten, Jake Scruggs and Dave Hoover for their blog posts in response (apoloiges to any other Obtivians who have posted and I haven't seen it yet).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Hi Baby Inside Your Mommy's Belly -

It seems that you've been letting up a bit on your mom recently, which is nice. She stayed up all the way until after 10 on Saturday and she's been up until after 9 on multiply weekdays now! It's really very exciting! We're like Britney and K-Fed with our new nightlife (are they still together? Is that reference about 11 months out of date?).

We've been wondering a lot recently whether you're a boy or girl. Everyone seems to think you're a boy, but I have to admit I go back and forth. I'd say I'm about 50% certain you're a boy. Yeah, that's about right. But what I hear is, if you are a boy, your testes (heh) are going to start making the testosterone. I don't know why, but I think it's absolutely bizarre that the little sleeping grey blob we say inside your mom's belly is going to start making testosterone if you're a boy. I guess, just in case, now's when I should tell you that wrestling isn't real and no, I don't know where to find the nearest monster truck rally.

If you're a girl, I'm not 100% sure what would be happening (presumably no testes). I didn't read that part. It seems to me that, at least in the womb, what you don't have is more important than what you do have (you'll note that they always say, "there's the penis" or "nope, not a penis to be found" and not "oops, no vagina. It's a boy". And, of course, you're a baby so I should have said Hoo-Hoo and Pee-Pee. I've got a lot to get used to before you arrive). I don't really think that's fair.

I'm not sure that I had a lot of point in this post, other than to be amazed at the fact that, inside that womb, is not a thing but something that's trying to becomes a baby boy or girl. That's crazy. So Congrats on the continued development of body part and good luck in your quest to have a gender.

3 Miles Monday, Sunshine Cleaning Tuesday

Monday we stuck with our every other day running to get aggregated to training ... well every other day, and did a nice three miles on the lakefront path. We've been running south because I really love the path between Belmont and Fullerton.... kinda monotonous, but so pretty and fun so it's ok.

Yesterday we decided to walk a bit even though it was kind of cool outside, and as we were walking we realized that we were really close the the River East 21 Movie theater. I took out my handy dandy iPhone, using the app Showtimes and found out that Spring Cleaning was playing in 30 minutes. So we stopped at a Dominicks and grabbed some pizza slices and headed over. It's a good movie, and just fun to randomly stop at the theater.

Tonight we are going to run...yep you guessed it...3 miles! And actually we'll probably do that again tomorrow because on Friday we have dinner plans at Pizza Grinders! Yay for pizza pot pies.

Other than that...just work, running, oh...and the big knitting project I'm working on needs to be completed (try to be anyways...) by next weekend. AND I'm reviewing a book which needs to be done by next weekend...but that's really this weekend because my Mom is flying in for Mother's Day next weekend. So. Right. Good thing we aren't doing anything else this weekend.

Oh and I think we'll hit up Yolk again this weekend. So right...that's about it. Happy Mid week all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Do You Like Running?

Hey there Baby, so your Dad and I have been running... although I suppose you can't tell if he's running but I'm wondering if you can tell that me and you are running. Do you bounce around in there? Are you holding on to things going, "What the What is this woman doing?" I feel better if I run, so I'm assuming you like it. I've slowed down quite a bit, but I'm still trying to run 3 miles 4 days a week. I'm thinking I've got much more slowness to go as the time goes on but even if I can continue with slowing running/walking 12 miles a week I'll be happy. We also took you for a 7 mile walk on Sunday, which I think you thoroughly enjoyed.

In other news around your world, I like to think that I'm starting to feel better, but you've made me very tired these last few days and yesterday while I was at work, I'm pretty sure I was sleeping with my eyes open at times during the day. You also made me throw up in a dirty alley downtown on Saturday morning...although I'm not blaming you for that. I'm a pretty smart lady as you'll find out...but I took some vitamins before I ate anything....and then rode the el downtown to meet cousin Lisa (you'll really like her, she's fun!) for breakfast. So that one is kinda on me...but wow, that wasn't a good time. I think your Dad was laughing at how mad I was at the situation...I'm hoping he wasn't laughing *at* me, but I'm sure he actually was.

We get more and more excited to meet you and are already planning your first summer, along with trips to visit your Baba in Florida and your Grandpa wherever his boat is. We are going to be running the Chicago marathon in 2010, so you'll get lots of long rides in your baby jogger next summer. So....right, I think you'll think it's fun. Do you think I'm kind of crazy for planning things a year+ in advance? Most people do, but that doesn't stop'll find out I like having things planned :).

I hope you're enjoying your Week 10.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Great Weekend Depise Some Showers

Another great weekend for your fearless duo. Friday night through Sunday night were exactly how summer weekends in Chicago should be. Friday night we got home and grilled out for the first time this season. Jason made his delicious hamburgers and I made potatoes and asparagus (which...I'm sorry, we just can't seem to get right...we put them in the steamer and it's just they are too finiky with how long they need to be in there). We spent most of the evening on the back porch and when we were done eating we walked to the Dairy Queen that is about a mile from our house. Apparently between 8 and 9 pm is when you go out and walk your dog/push a stroller. It was just one of those great Chicago nights where everyone was out.

On Saturday morning we met my lovely cousin Lisa and her husband at my new favorite breakfast place, Yolk, downtown. We had a great time with them as usual, and then from there we walked a bit north and jumped on the Red Line at lake, and back home. From there we threw on some running clothes, went out for an easy breezy three miler, took some naps and then headed out the Des Plaines to hang out with my friend Jean and her husband.

Sunday looked like it was going to be a stinker. I didn't sleep that well and still got up really early. I was craving some french toast and so I made some, and was really impressed with how easy they were (has to be as it was one of my Dad's staple meals...although with kraft dinner...ok it was one of two meals) AND delicious. After eating breakfast I promptly fell asleep on the couch. After a short cat nap, we ran to the jewel as we were getting low on supplies, came home, watched the Cubs...napped (shocking!!!). After the game, the rain stopped and I checked and noticed that there was no more rain in the forecast. So we went on one of our usual long long long walks and actually found a route that we hadn't walked before. We walked north on Sheffield to Montrose, over to the lake, all around the harbor and back. I clocked out how far we walked and it was almost 7 miles. No wonder our feets were screaming by the time we got home.

Finished off the weekend with a delicious dinner, some DVR and a movie.

I just love weekends where you don't exactly do anything...but it seems like you did everything. Awesome. Summer is here in Chicago (I hope!)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Not Knowing What You Are Good At

What are you good at? It seems like an easy question right? You get interested in something in college (or earlier) you take classes in said topic and get a job in said field. Or maybe you are so overly enthusiastic about the field you go on to get an advanced degree in said subject (ok maybe you just wanted to see if you can push the start button at the biggest particle detector in the world).

Sometimes you end up realizing that aren't that enthusiastic about what you got your degree in, or start poking around in another field that has some similarities and start moving your life in a new direction. Maybe you just think you aren't good at what you are doing.

I was talking to my Dad the other day and he laughed and said, "Leah, you've never thought you were good at what you were doing at the time." I laughed with him and agreed. I always look back on things I have done and with the usual 20/20 hindsight (I might have just said,"Jason what's that know like back vision". How that man is still in love with me is beyond me) and realize that I was good at whatever it was I was doing, even though I didn't feel it at the time. Hell I was good at selling shoes at Sportmart when I was 16. I mean that's just like a PhD in physics right? No? Ok maybe not.

My new (not that new anymore, but still pretty new) job has taken me on an even stranger path than I thought it was going to when I accepted it. I was in a mathematics, physics, sciency, engineering career for over 10 (!) years and so moving into software development with no previous formal training was a scary step for me to take. When I decided to go into software development it was because I thought could take those logic skills that I had developed over the years and apply them to programming and become a better more organized programmer in the process. Only I've found myself being in positions where I've been applying design to websites and getting frustrated at being put in that role because, Damnit I'm a physicist! I dropped out of the one art class I took in college how can I be good providing any value saying that the brown looks better and should be all of the background instead of two colors. Or, wait, what if we do this with the design instead which would make things a bit easier for the user to follow.

I had a talk with one of my bosses a few days ago about how the apprenticeship is going and we talked about my level of design ability. Not that I am saying here that I'm a designer by *any* means, but I can get through enough to provide value. I mentioned that it's frustrating that people think I'm good at the design when I have such a strong mathematics background and I don't really know how that's possible. He laughed and said, I don't know but you are. I've been thinking about that conversation for the last few days and even while I was in physics, my designy self stepped in frequently. Now it might have only shown up in my talks, and the graphs I would make...but I was able to make plots, and talks that were well designed, looked good and got the point of what I was trying to say across very clearly. Well that and I talk *really* loud when I give talks, so the point gets across :).

For those of you that have been following my photoblog you know that I've been getting pretty deep into photography and while I like to think that I've always had the eye for the picture, I've never been so good at the developing of picture. I've been teaching myself to navigate through photoshop for the sake of my photos and I keep thinking about it as my off work hours hobby and it doesn't really apply to work things. But in these last few weeks, I've been able to provide value to my company because of that ability to navigate through Photoshop relatively quickly, and add some nice design elements to whichever site I'm working on. It's nice when your personal interests and your job start to merge together.

After talking to the aforementioned boss, I've realized that I don't have to be frustrated at doing something I might be good at just because it's not what I have focused my energy on for the past 11 years. Maybe for once I should just breathe, think about the value I'm can add and enjoy it. We also talked about how I don't want to get shoved into a designer roll only because I can do it with some competence but to move around and learn all aspects of software development. I might not be able to jump the highest in graphic design, given my lack of ability to actually draw anything, but I really enjoy that I can add value on a consistant level and get the fun pieces of design in place.

Yesterday for example was a great day: I did some great pairing on some backend work on a small site we are developing, worked through a funny failing spec problem with Jake Scruggs (ok, I watched him figure it out but I learned not to ever do what the problem was. I'll discuss that problem over here on the Software Apprentice Tips blog shortly) added in some new design elements to that site, helped out with our company's webpage (using a photo I took as one of the style points on the page) and did a bit of photoshop work on another application I am working on. A little bit of everything helps the day move along, and I get to flex the small muscles I am gaining in the designy stuff.

It's not about forcing yourself to be in a box. It's about looking through the windows of the box, seeing something that could be interesting and charging forward. If you stay in the box, and continue to be mad that you aren't interested in what's in the box, and you're frustrated because you aren't yet great at what is outside of the box...well that just makes for a long and boring life. So step outside the box AND enjoy it. As my Dad says, "Life's good. Good and short." Get as most of it that you can, and have fun doing it.

There you are

Hey little blob thing -

So yesterday your mommy (you know her. She's the one you're slowly trying to kill by sucking out all her energy. But don't worry. It's totally different than being a some way) and I got to see you through the magic of sound and some sort of wand thingy (don't ask). And you know what? You look like a gummy bear! I'm not sure if that means you look like your mother or father, but either way I think it's a good sign.

But regardless, no matter what anyone else says, I think you're cute. All curled up in your little bag of waters, probably desperately trying to suck your thumb except that you don't have a thumb...or the ability to suck. It's terribly adorable.

So anyway, it was really nice to meet you. We're really excited to see you at the next ultrasound when we'll be able to hear your heartbeat and see some arms and legs and stuff. We're also looking forward to when you stop stealing all your mom's energy. We've forgotten what prime time TV looks like.

Have fun swimming in the amniotic fluid!

I See You!

Hey Baby!

We had our first ultrasound yesterday morning and your Daddy and I got to see you in there. You have a very tiny flickering in the center of your body, which is apparently your heart beating. I had to stay laying back on the table and I kept wanting to lean forward to stick my face right in front of the screen to see it but the Doctor kept telling me I had to stay relaxed. But I saw it, and your Daddy really got a good look at it. Right now ... well yesterday morning you were 1.87 cm long. I wonder how much you grow in just one day....

You Daddy and I think that you look like a gummy bear, and don't worry that's not an insult to you because as you'll learn in your life we *love* candy and gummy bears are right at the top of the list...well maybe after sour patch kids and lemonheads, and we are glad you don't look like a lemonhead. We also think you're kinda cute, and look like you're sleeping and when we look at your picture it makes us smile.

You are still making Mommy *very* tired. Yesterday we walked to the doctors office and then all the way to work and I felt like I was dead for most of the day. I could barely keep my eyes open when we got home which made me sad because we were going to go for a run. Well maybe we'll get a run in tonight. I hope I'm get back my full "LET'S DO EVERYTHING" attitude when you get here, or at least in a couple of weeks!

The weather in Chicago is changing for the better. Two days ago it was 30 degrees, and today it will be in the 70s and 80s tomorrow. You'll grow to love Chicago as much as your parents, although I suspect you'll hate March and April as much as we do....well April starts the baseball season and so it's a step above March.....In my opinion March could just be deleted from the calendar. Although....I suppose you were conceived in March and so I take it back, it's my favorite month!

Alright, well it's time for your mommy to go to work.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Very Cool iPhone App

I follow quite a few photo blogs, and one of the ones I follow (greyscalegorilla) has recently made this ShakeItPhoto iPhone application. It uses the iPhone camera to take a picture, but then develops it as a Polaroid. My dad gave me a Polaroid camera when I was a little kid and I loved it. Not only is it funny in that you can shake the phone to make it develop faster, but the photos seem to have been developed to look more like how the polaroid film looked like. Careful though, as I was demoing the shaking feature to Jason yesterday, I shook the phone right out of my hand and into a revolving door. No shattering yet though. Here's some photo examples from it. Enjoy!

Just When I Thought I Was Out...They Pull Me Back In

And when I say "they" I mean the nugget and when I say "thought I was out", I mean out of the tired arena of pregnancy. (Also the sore chest...but my dad reads this blog so let's just say the girls were not happy two nights ago at about 2am. At. All.)

Nope. I went to bed at 8:30 last night. For real, like I couldn't stay up one minute longer and so had to go to bed. I am such a rock star. I also then slept until 6:30. I feel really good in the mornings though, so I got that going for me.

Today marks the end of week 8! Which is good cause nothing terrible has happened yet. On Wednesday of next week I'll be getting the first ultrasound which both Jason and I are looking forward to. I'm tired of thinking there is no baby and he's tired of hearing me tell him that I think there is no baby, so we'll be happy to really see it in there. I'm thinking this whole thing will just get a little bit more real at that point.

My good friend from high school is also pregnant and so that's been a lot of fun for both of us I think. She's about 9 weeks ahead of me and having a good pregnancy so it's been really really fun talking to her about working while pregnant, the fun wake ups at 1 or 2 in the morning. She's a chemist and works in a male dominated field and with me in software development...well right, there aren't many woman (read :none) so it's been great having her available for pregnancy comments/questions. AND she gets to go through it all first.

I've been running...although slow and steady. Now that it seems that the weather has made a nice 180 degree turn, it should be easier to get out there every other day (that's my basic plan). Jason and I run 20 minutes out, then 10 more minutes (total of about 3 miles) and then finish by walking home. Starting on May 11th, Jason will start training for the Rock and Roll 1/2 marathon that is on August 2nd and I'll be trying to think of ways to help. I'm probably going to try and ride my bike with him for his long runs until I can't lean over my belly anymore, and I'm sure we'll be clever with some other ways to keep me involved as his coach. We live across the street from a track and so I'm going to sit on the side and cheer him on while he does his laps for speed work. Whatever it is we'll figure something out.

So Right Week 8 Done. And Done. I will be publishing all of these probably in about a week or so. I just want to get through the ultrasound before I post anything. I just would love to hear from other women who are pregnant and runners and see how they are getting along in the process.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Here We Go Again

Apparently with the random posting. Sheesh, it's been forever since I posted on here last night. Things have been busy and kind of crazy in the JasonLeahRun household these last few weeks, thus putting the posting into a stalled state. The running however has not been in a stalled state. We are just working on getting back to running 4 times a week and for now we are just running for 30 minutes at a time. We seem to have finally hit a rhythm which is a nice feeling.

Work has been busyish as well. I'm working on some new pages for Obtiva's web page which has been an interesting ride in making some IE-6 pages work. Finally got it though, even though it might be a bit of a hacky solution.

So that's all from here. I'm taking a day off today because my brother-in-law + family are here and I'm going to play with my nieces instead of playing with software so that should be a good time.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Listen Here Baby

So I'm tired. Tired. Tired. Tired. I take naps on the weekends that could rival some people's nightly sleep times. Then I go to bed at 10 and bang on the alarm at 6 and still sleep for another hour. I am not one to sleep that much in general. I'm usually one to be, "HEY LET'S GO DO SOMETHING". Even if the weather is crappy out I always up for a movie or shopping or WHATEVER. Yesterday we thought about going to see Sunshine Cleaning and stopped at the Jewel for some lunch food before hand. I got all hot and tired and bothered at the store and so decided to stick at home for the rest of the afternoon.

So Baby, I love you and I am hoping that I'm making a nice home for you to enjoy for the next 7 months and 1 week but I gotta say that I'm looking forward to getting out of this first trimester so that I can have a bit more energy. I think your dad is also looking forward to getting out of this first trimester as I think that he wants his fun loving wife to come out from under this sleepy woman that has invaded his house.

I hope you are doing ok in there. When you get to know me, you'll understand how hard these first few weeks were. The not knowing things makes your mother crazy. But apparently you are forming your mouth and throat right now, and I'm just hoping beyond hope that you are going to get your father's teeth and jaw structure instead of mine as otherwise you are going to be in for a lifetime of annoyances.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


That's how I felt last night when I went to bed. I was asleep just about when my head hit the pillow..
*side note: Jason and I went from being relatively hip, to going to bed hyper early and watching VHS movies on our old box TV. Now....right now we are watching the orignal Star Wars movies. I think in most people's eyes my stock would have fallen a little bit, and my nerd level would have gone through the roof. In Jason's eyes however, holy hell did my stock rise. You mean you WANT to watch Star Wars. Awesome!
...ok so I got through like one space fight scene and I was out. I didn't move all night and woke up when my alarm went off at 6am. I seriously was so out of place that I thought it was Saturday which is quite the disgusting thought when it's only Wednesday morning. I went to the bathroom and climbed back in bed feeling like I had only slept a few hours. I didn't work out yesterday but did go for about a 2 mile walk....really that much activity knocked me out? I wonder how I'm going to feel tonight when I go for a 3 mile run. I might also try to go to the gym and lift a weight or two depending on the weather and if we could walk back from the gym without freezing out asses off.

Yesterday I had a doctor's appointment just to talk about dos and don'ts and get a medical history type thing. I'm a fairly healthy person and so that's all good news, and the practice seems really good, AND I'll get to deliver at a brand new hospital right downtown. Whee! Jason and I are both looking forward to the ultra sound that will come on April 22nd. Have I said that before? Probably. Note...I like to know that everything is ok, and the fact that there is a black box in my uterus right now is driving. me. crazy.

So we wait, and read more books about the fact that the baby right now is about the size of a grain of rice and hope that it's a grain of rice with a forming brain.