Archive for November, 2014

Barbie Makes Women Appear Weak

computer engineer barbie makes women look weak

I loved her as a child. I wanted every doll and playset that Mattel produced, and I thought all of her different personas were beautiful and perfect. Barbie appeared to have her hands in all the metaphorical pots, being portrayed in a multitude of careers and roles. I doubt any woman could rival her list of achievements in a lifetime.

But on a serious note, with her short stints in any one job, I would think she’d be red flagged for her employment longevity–or more like her lack of it.

At any rate, with all of the noise regarding her newest career aspiration to be a Computer Engineer, I decided to blog about it. (Note: She is not actually an engineer yet. Mattel should rename her “I Can Be A Computer Engineer…Once I Finish School and Get My Degree”.)

To summarize the issue about her Computer Engineer fiasco and how it began, Barbie just made women look weak.  Mattel released a short story coinciding with this version of the doll. The story tells of her “designing” a computer game and needing two male classmates to code it. In the meantime, a virus infects her computer but never fear, her stuff is backed up on her necklace/flash drive (it’s on a necklace so she doesn’t forget to back her shit up apparently). How fancy.

She inserts her flash drive into her dear illegitimate daugh–I mean, sister’s computer. You can about imagine what happened then. Yup, Barbie screws up Skipper’s computer because neither were smart enough to have a virus scan on their two inch thick, ten pound, Dell laptops (or maybe it’s an old Gateway).

Barbie, what were you thinking? You could have used your student discount to buy software to protect your precious “Engineer” work.

So, she marches her little fanny to the school to fix her and Skipper’s computers. She asks her teacher (I think it should have been Professor), how she can fix her craptastic machine from 2005. She is told how she can recover her data, and her sister’s precious homework. While attempting to do this, her two male coder buddies show up and the one has the nerve to say, “It’ll go faster if Brian and I help.” Because I guess she can’t get things figured out without males around.

Let me get this straight Mattel, you call Barbie a “Computer Engineer” when she is still a student. Second, you don’t portray her actually engineering anything. Two of her male classmates are doing that part. Barbie is the designer. She can’t even fix her computer. Hm. I see a marketing issue.

Back to the riveting story…Barbie (with the help of her Professor and her two male classmates) saves her sister’s homework and the game designs. Skipper then is able to give her presentation to her class about how she is most inspired by her mom–I mean older sister, Barbie, the “Computer Engineer.”

Cut to Barbie in her class. Ms. Smith is so impressed (by the ability of Barbie to follow instruction). Barbie saved the day with her skills (of following instructions and enabling her sexist male classmates and their chauvinist attitudes by letting them do the tasks that she should have been doing in the first place). She takes the credit for their hard work.

“I guess I can be a Computer Engineer!” Barbie squeals emphatically in her trendy beachy waved, side ponytail.

Fade out.

Um, no Barbie. You can’t. I will tell you why.

First of all, you kind of need to understand coding and how a computer operates. Maybe you should begin by choosing an accredited college for that. Either you have an extreme misunderstanding of what a Computer Engineer does, or you are hoping to just sail through school on your stilettos, while letting your male classmates do the back-end work while you take the credit. Good luck with that!

Second, Mattel, the company that made you has done you and girls everywhere a HUGE disservice. Mattel has consistently made you into a misrepresentation of what real, strong and independent women should be.

Dear Mattel, we are nearly in the year 2015! Yes, women love clothing and makeup. We love looking cute and shopping (not all women, but many…I’m not trying to stereotype), but we also love other things. Some women enjoy getting their hands dirty doing construction, farming, or being rodeo riders. Some prefer to be writers, book editors, or social marketers. We have all types of careers, interests, and skills. Can you stop producing dolls that live in some candy coated world?

I gave you diversity points when you finally recognized the physically challenged population and made a Barbie with a wheelchair. That has long since been a faded memory as you have not made another since. This matter is another blog post though. You definitely don’t win points for sexism.

Why do you keep on insisting a relatable doll has to be dumbed down and clothed in frilly pink garb?

If the side story would have been left out, it wouldn’t have become as big of a deal as it has. It could have been left up to a girl’s imagination. However, because people are going crazy over the absence of a feminism vibe to the story, Mattel and the actual author the company had hired have both been questioned by the media and that has definitely been some interesting reading.

Mattel released an apology on Barbie’s Facebook page:

The Barbie I Can Be A Computer Engineer book was published in 2010. Since that time we have reworked our Barbie books. The portrayal of Barbie in this specific story doesn’t reflect the Brand’s vision for what Barbie stands for. We believe girls should be empowered to understand that anything is possible and believe they live in a world without limits. We apologize that this book didn’t reflect that belief. All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girl’s imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.

So, even though the publishing date on sites like Amazon (where it has since been pulled) were cited as 2013, Mattel claims it was published in 2010. The company also says they have reworked their Barbie books since. Is this the reworked version then? Isn’t that what their timeline suggests if the publishing date is 2013? Or do they mean they have changed the way they have written all of the books since the Computer Engineer one came out, but they didn’t actually change any of the books that had already been published?

Also, where was the quality control? If it didn’t fit the vision, why go ahead with it?

The author, Susan Marenco, was quoted on the ABC website:

The author, Susan Marenco, who previously worked at Microsoft Development Center Copenhagen for 10 years as an “editor and usability designer specializing in linguistic usability,” told ABC News this afternoon she considers herself a feminist and regrets that she may have let stereotypes slip into the book. But the assignment was to write about Barbie as a “designer,” she added.

“I want people to know I am conscious of that,” she said, referring to stereotypes of women in technology. “If I was on deadline, it’s possible stuff slipped out or I quietly abided by Mattel without questioning it. Maybe I should have pushed back, and I usually I do, but I didn’t this time.”

“Maybe I should have made one of those programmers a female – I wish I did,” said Marenco, who is now a technical editor at a tech firm in San Francisco. Mattel has not responded to ABC News’ attempts to confirm her account.

In a story on the Refinery 29 website, Marenco was also quoted from another source:

“They can’t get out of the groove of ‘she’s nice; she doesn’t show anger; she doesn’t show frustration,'” Marenco continued to KTN. She’s written 40-50 Barbie books, and has received many comments from editors saying that the character “has to be more polite.”

Personally, Barbie seems creepily polite. She shoots an unreal amount of sunshine and daisies out of her ass (not literally).

Why did Mattel name the doll with a title of Computer Engineer when they instructed the author to write about Barbie as a Designer? Communication issues?

I guess there is an entire “I Can Be…” Barbie series of dolls. I wonder if any of the other books are as botched as this particular one was. I’m sure people are feverishly looking through them. As of now, the current “I Can Be…” doll offerings are entrepreneur, pop star, singer, cake baker, cookie chef, ice skater, swim champion, soccer player, tennis player, and nurse (wearing skin tight jeggings…I don’t think that’s the typical nursing uniform).

I did find a list of Barbie’s past careers on Wikipedia. I’m not sure how complete this is. How about producing a lawyer, house flipper, farmer, truck driver, do another round of Barbie in the armed forces like in the early 90’s (not in pink camo), or how about a TV camera woman?

I get it, Barbie is a doll that is supposed to encourage girls to be imaginative and creative in their play. There are certain Barbie lines geared towards the different age groups–some that aren’t all dressed in pink. But those aren’t the ones with all the different careers. Children are pretty smart, and they often want to emulate adults. The kids may not have noticed what was wrong with the scenario in the book, but maybe some subconsciously took something from it. If you are going to try to teach a girl she can be anything she wants, try teaching it in a better way.

Somewhere out there, one little girl learned and has internalized that in a male dominated field, men will always be better at the job. Thanks Mattel!

 

Image Credit: Here

Shit From the Interweb: Youtube Food Tasters

shit from the interweb youtube food tasters

I watch a lot of Youtube, or I try at least. Some of the videos I like are taste test videos where people from one part of the world taste foods from another part of the world, and you get to see the initial reactions of the Youtube Food Tasters! I would love to do something like this for fun one day. I am not too keen to be on video, but I have a curious nature when it comes to food and like trying new things.

Today, I saw a re-posted video pop up on Facebook and I watched it because it relates to a few of the foods in Minnesota that are known to this region. I confess, there are some foods we are known for that I think are not so great. However, I grew up eating some of them.

First up was Jello Salad. If I had laid eyes on it for the first time, I’d be baffled too. If you know any Minnesotans, you probably have tried it. It can be seen it at all major gatherings. This is especially true for Christmases and family reunion potlucks. There are too many versions of it to keep track of, using every different flavor of Jello. The green ones are usually the worst. The worst of the worst are comprised of green Jello, canned pineapple, and cottage cheese (I take that back. Some salads have been known to contain Jello and shredded carrot. Lord knows why anyone thought that was a great idea). The version in the video is one of the better ones. It looks like it has marshmallows and Cool Whip in it.

I can’t believe the tasters were given Lutefisk next! A lot of us might be Norwegian, but I don’t know many families who like to bust this stuff out. Think fish Jello…not to be confused with one of the Jello Salad varieties. Lutefisk is just…so wrong. Of all the things brought from Norway, this is the worst. Maybe Ylvis should write their next song about it!

Then, we have good ‘ol Tater Tot Hotdish. Again, I’m not a fan–just like I’m not a goulash enthusiast. I have never had Tater Tot Hotdish with cheese though. Usually, it’s made up of tater tots, ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. Most often the vegetables are corn, green beans, and carrots. There are variants of this too. It’s similar to the Jello Salad, no two are ever alike!

Fourth is the Juicy Lucy. A cheese stuffed burger…what can I say, it’s a thing. Who wouldn’t love a cheese stuffed burger? You could stuff it with other things too. Maybe some bacon, jalapenos, or give it a twist and stuff it with some french fried onions.

Last up is the Nut Goodie Bar. I didn’t know this was something we were known for. I can’t complain about them. I think the last time I ate one was a couple decades ago. I personally liked Skor and Reese’s.

Here is the video of the taste testing! It was made by Movato Originals!

What food dishes is your area known for? Are there any that you really love or hate?

 

What Book Should I Read Next?

what book should i read next?

This weekend, I just finished the last book in the Game of Thrones series, A Dance With Dragons. Eagerly after I had ingested the last word on the final page, I tore through the interwebs to find a potential release date for George R. R. Martin’s next book. I thought I had read somewhere before there was a Spring 2015 date. It would coincide with the ending of the next show season.

Well…looks like I’ll be waiting until friggin 2016! Ok, I may not be. There are conflicting reports, and you can’t exactly force a person to churn out the rest of a 1000+ page book. These things can’t be rushed. Hopefully, the book is more like 2000 pages so it takes longer for me to read it. I checked Goodreads to see if there were any more official updates. There were none, but there were some comments with responses that made me laugh. Check them out to see what I mean.

Now the question is, what should I read next?

I read the excerpt of Andy Cohen’s new book, The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year. It seems funny, as was his last book–although I am not sure I feel it will be worth the money at the moment.

The next book I was contemplating is The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau. It sounds like an uplifting read that will motivate and inspire. It seems to get high reviews and sounds like a book I might enjoy.

Otherwise…also by Chris Guillebeau, The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future. The author interviews a bunch of entrepreneurs and asks them questions about when they first started their businesses, including how much their initial investments were.I am always intrigued about start-ups and how someone can take an idea and run with it.

The Miniaturist by Jessie BurtonThis is a historical novel set in Amsterdam in the 1600’s. A woman marries a merchant, and as a wedding gift he gives her a miniature replica of their home. She commissions an artist to make miniatures of the decor of their home to fill the inside. Apparently, the woman begins to uncover secrets and understand the dangers that could befall them. Oohhh…how mysterious!

So, what shall it be? I’m having a difficulty time deciding.

What are some books you are hoping to read in the future?

 

Mondays and Dreams of Moving

I am at a loss on what to post right now. There is only two hours until midnight, and I have yet to do a NaBloPoMo post. I’d better start writing I guess.

Mondays are not my favorite day of the week. If I had to decide what day people choose to be the most irritating, it is on a Monday. Or maybe, my brain just wants to be a little cranky. Either way, the calendar should skip Mondays and go directly to Tuesdays. Another solution to eliminating the first day of the week is to add the hours to Sunday and Tuesdays. Don’t worry, the hours wouldn’t be working hours unless people wanted to work.

The internet has also been distracting me. Last night I was looking at ranches and farms for sale in Washington. I really like that state. There’s such a mix of environments there. My mom and I had fun driving across Washington in September. I have never seen bigger dust devils in my life! It’s pretty dry and nearly desert-like in the central part. Throughout the state there are woods, mountains, plains, vineyards, orchards, wind farms, river regions, ranches, urban areas, small towns…it’s a pretty cool and diverse state.

I’d probably move there if I could. Last night I came across this interesting environmental development called Skokomish Farms. It’s sort of like a community farm thing on the Puget sound, close to Olympia. The land is divided into 40 acre homesteads. Individuals can buy a parcel, allot 5 acres to build their home and anything else they’d like, a stable for example. The rest of the parcel is farmed by the community. The buyer can plant and do the labor themselves if they want, and if they have a particular crop in mind they can ask to grow it. On the website it said they were trying to get organic status.

There are orchards, vineyards, fields, greenhouses, pastures, and livestock areas in the community. The developers brought in some unique cattle from Britain. White Parks I think. I liked the fact that it’s an attempt to partake in clean agriculture, and residents can be as involved as they want in the farming activities. It sounded like an interesting concept with other business opportunities coming from what the farm produces.

Unfortunately, it’s an expensive dream. You have to buy the land ($275,000) and build your own house. Here is a half hour video that shows some of the area and an interview with the developer.

Perhaps one day I will win the lottery!

Did I mention you can see Mt. Rainier? And it’s just a short drive and ferry ride away from the Seattle fish markets and all the organic food you could probably imagine. Wouldn’t that be awesome? I didn’t quite get to the Puget area when I was on vacation. Maybe next time.

I think ideally, if I were to move anywhere in the world of my choosing it would be in Europe somewhere. I like their attitudes towards limits and bans on GMOs and foods. Plus, the history of so many places there intrigues me. All of my ancestors came from there. I’d like to see where they lived.

If you could move anywhere, where would you move?

The Definition of Humility

the definition of humility

Humility is an important trait in people. That is how I feel anyway. I have grown up around mostly humble people (there have been a couple of exceptions, but in the Midwest, I’d say humility is more common than not). I kept thinking about humility today and how I wanted to write about it. But first, let me give the definition according to Google Search.

hu·mil·i·ty
(h)yo͞oˈmilədē/
noun
  1. a modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.
    synonyms: modesty, humbleness, meekness, diffidence,unassertiveness;

    lack of pride, lack of vanity;

To be humble is to be modest about oneself and the skills or achievements that person may possess. It means not thinking anyone is of a lesser level of importance than yourself. In the above definition, it says a lack of pride and vanity, but to be of a humble mindset I don’t think a person necessarily needs to have a lack of pride–just don’t have an excessive amount of it. People should take pride in what they do. It adds to the value of their work or something they have created. It stimulates a sense of worth and self-satisfaction.

We need this as humans. It encourages healthy self-esteem and goal setting. It is a motivator.

I think the quotation in the image above makes a great point. Have you noticed the more full of pride and arrogance someone is, the more artificial they seem? I mean, hello Kanye West! He is the prime example of what humility is NOT. I get it, he loves his own work. That’s great, but talk about an overdose of pride. If he wouldn’t have gotten Kim Kardashian to marry him, he likely would have cloned himself and wed his clone.

If you look up self-love in the dictionary, his photo will be there, maybe hers too–wait, not maybe, it’s a resounding yes.

I get annoyed when celebrities or anyone doesn’t remember how to show genuine appreciation for where they are in life. They seem to forget how to be normal. It’s dehumanizing.

At any rate, I feel people are more likeable, approachable, and totally real when they take on a humble attitude. We all should be thankful for the skills we were blessed with, and any compliments or accolades we might receive. If you’re real, more people will be able to relate!

What is a character trait you think is important?

 

Russian Borscht

Russian Borscht

Russian Borscht, a soup I have never tried. I had been thinking about making borscht for awhile. I had heard the name many years ago, and the word always intrigued me. What was in borscht? It sounded like a meaty soup to me. The heavy sound of the name made me think of that. Ha…was I ever wrong!

When I was growing up on the dairy farm, my dad had hired employees who hailed from various countries. Maybe this is partially why I love international cuisine so much. Sometimes these guys or their families would cook us a meal, or introduce us to things from their cultures. I always loved that. I often was tired of basic American food, you know…meat and potatoes, burgers, hot dogs, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed those things sometimes, but when I had the chance to try something new I eagerly took that opportunity!

When I was in my last years of high school, my dad had employed some Russian interns. They had come to learn about dairy farming and agriculture so they could take what they’d learned and use it when they went home again. They joined us for holidays and shared things with us about Russia. One time, they had us over for supper. I chuckle about it a little writing this because, at the time, the two young men who were employed were only a couple years older than I was. It seemed they were really excited to have us over for a meal.

They had made some kind of dumplings (I don’t know what they were called), and they were stuffed with meat. We topped them with sour cream and some pepper. It was somewhat like eating a stroganoff stuffed pirogi. They were very good. A simple dish, but tasty. What was cute though was the guys had given us boxed wine to wash the food down with!

That memory made me want to try cooking Borscht. I am curious about Russian food since I have had so little of it. Read more »

Fantasy Wardrobe Friday: Southwestern Fringe

Fantasy Wardrobe Friday: Southwestern Fringe

You know what Friday is? It’s Fantasy Wardrobe Friday! I am looking forward to doing this weekly segment every week because I do enjoy shopping! Albeit this is virtual window shopping, but that’s ok too!

Today’s inspiration was this Southwestern Poncho from Forever 21. Last Winter, I had been at the Mall of America Forever 21 and bought a different Southwestern patterned poncho with a detachable fur collar. It was really affordable, as is the one above. I love ponchos. They are such an easy thing to put on and wear. Speaking from a disability standpoint, I like being able to throw it over my head and not need to worry about threading my hand through a bulky sleeve. That can be a bit challenging. Actually, it’s a downright pain in the ass (my animosity for the cold temps is coming out).

Anyway, when it’s cold like this I still need to wear my Winter coat…maybe if I had a poncho made out of a down comforter I could ditch my coat.

The fringed Minnetonka boots I felt were a nice addition to the poncho. Monnetonka makes really comfortable leather footwear. I have a pair of their moccasins and they feel nice on the feet.

To round out the rest of the Southwestern fringe ensemble, I added a black fringed bag, silver accented rubber bracelets, feather earrings, and a fun fedora like hat.

The One Blogger Skill

One Blogger Skill BlogHer Prompt

I am taking the BlogHer NaBloPoMo prompt that landed in my email today and I’m going to roll with it! As bloggers, we are always trying to improve our skills. One week we are learning and tweaking our SEO, the next we are researching how to take better photos. There are a lot of things we are trying to do in rapid succession. But we all have the one blogger skill we hope to get a better grasp of so that we master it. Until then, we see this skill in our favorite bloggers, and admire what they are doing with that skill.

I love reading about the personal experiences of other bloggers and how they are helping themselves and their sites grow. When they write posts about what they learn, it helps the rest of us too. We get to read about what that person tried and discovered, as well as what worked best for them–or didn’t work at all. While every blog is different, in reading what others have done we can make more informed choices on how to progress with our own blogs.

The one blogger skill I wish I had that I often see in others is the ability to plan an editorial calendar. Granted, I think I needed the NaBloPoMo challenge to give me the extra push I needed to focus and become more determined to get myself into my writing groove. Deciding to do this gave me some confidence in my ability to write regularly and share. But as I touched on a bit in yesterday’s post, I wish I would have planned some content in advance.

Some of the bloggers I follow regularly have written about editorial calendars and how much they help in the content creation process. This is something I will be trying once this challenge is done and I determine what days of the week I will be posting. The daily thing is not a routine I can continue after November, so I will knock it down to 2-3 posts per week. I think that is still a pretty good goal, and hopefully with an editorial calendar I can plan things out a few weeks in advance.

Do you utilize an editorial calendar? How is it working for you?

 

NaBloPoMo: What Happens When…

…You decide to challenge yourself with National Blog Posting Month at the last minute, and you have other things you need or want to do? Posts like this happen! I have no topic I want to blog about right now, I just needed a break to do some other projects. However, I can’t just post nothing when I can post a little blurb and not miss a day of the challenge.

November isn’t halfway through yet, and I usually have only enough energy to write one post per day. Yesterday, in addition to writing one, I did the prep for another recipe post. That will be tomorrow’s task I think.

This NaBloPoMo challenge has already taught me a thing or two about the next one; start early and pre-write some content for the days I can’t or don’t want to invest a major chunk of my day to writing.

I just need to keep pushing. I can do this!

Have you written any of your NaBloPoMo content in advance? How many posts did you prepare beforehand?

Take Me Back To The 80’s

Take Me Back to the 80's

If time travel were possible, I would have a time machine take me back to the 80’s. I wouldn’t go back permanently, bt taking a vacation to that decade would be fun. I’d bring back a lot of souvenirs…not that I’d need many, since I think I still have some memorabilia stashed at my parent’s house! Just kidding, I’d be bringing tons of souvenirs back with me. I wouldn’t miss that opportunity!

The 80’s were old school, with a blast of neon and high-top sneakers, ripped jeans, head bands, and stuff hair. Socks had to have just the right scrunch over the tucked in pant legs that were also pinned to make them tighter around the calf. They were simpler times with a complex wardrobe.

I was only 7 years old when the 80’s ended, so I know I didn’t experience them in their full splendor. I think I would’ve needed to be in my late teens or early 20’s for that. The music was and still is pretty important to me. Give me some Journey over Nickelback any day!

What I really get nostalgic about are the toys. Weren’t the toys great?

My personal favorites were She-ra dolls. Remember those? They were like the first action figures for girls. I had a few of them: Cat Woman, Entrapta, Angella, SweetBee.

Princess of Power: Cat Woman

Cat Woman

Princess of Power: Angella

Entrapta

Princess of Power: Angella

Angella

Dolls2_SweetBee1b

SweetBee

There was a similar set of female action figures made by Galoob which were pretty cool as well. They were Golden Girl and the Guardians of the Gemstones. I had two of those, Golden Girl and Dragon Queen.

Golden Girl

Golden Girl

Golden Girl Dragon Queen

Dragon Queen

They need to bring these dolls back! The She-ra dolls were made from 1984-87, and the Golden Girls were only manufactured for a year in 1985. Both sets of dolls had separate outfits and playsets that could be purchased. I think it’s weird these dolls didn’t last long. Maybe if these companies gave the dolls another go, they might be more successful.

It annoys me that there aren’t any female groups of action heroes. If you have a team, it’s all men except for the token female. Why aren’t the genders represented more equally? Sure, there are the single action figures, like those of Katniss from The Hunger Games, or Princess Leia from Star Wars–but it’s not like having that strong female group of women with each having a uniquely special power, and bright colored outfits.

There’s nothing wrong with having power and being feminine…as llong as it’s not objectifying. We don’t need toys with Playboy Bunny boobs.

There was a Kickstarter I read about once that was promoting a line of female heroine figures. I looked it up again, and they’re pretty cool. They’re called IAmElemental. If I were a kid again, I’d probably like these. But I don’t particularly like that the clothing is all plastic and the hair is all molded and not like real hair. I know the aim isn’t to be a fashion doll, but action heroes might like to change their wardrobe too, right?

Maybe one day the retro figures from decades past will be revisited, given a little makeover, and brought back. My Little Ponies were. My inner child can always hope!

 

Image Credit: Here and Here