Underboob and Sarah in Italy

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Sarah has been mentioned before is several posts but I have never taken the time to describe our friendship. I’ll do that now. We met at work. I meet some awesome people at work. Shared misery will really forge the bond and all. Anyway, I had my own lab for the first time and Sarah was newly out of college and hired to do quality control. Because she had similar education she often ended up in the lab with me.

Sarah is ten years younger than I am. I was dealing with putting my life together after a divorce and she was dealing with an engagement that ended unpleasantly. What resulted was two women that were sick and tired of waiting for their lives to matter. We decided we were just going to get out there and experience life. Now both of us are perfectly fine doing just about anything solo. What we found is that you often get a much better price if you go as a pair. Especially in regards to travel. We became adventure buddies.

We go to concerts, shows, and activities. Groupon and Goldstar became our best friends. It was a source of information, inspiration, and cost savings. Pretty much if one of us suggests it, the other goes along. We get out of our comfort zones. Far, far out of our comfort zones.

Once I emailed Sarah and asked her if she wanted to go to an event that mimicked the running of the bulls and tomato fight in Spain. Her reply was “We are probably going to die, but I’m in!” And it’s been like that for a few years now. Occasionally one of us dances a little too close to each other’s personal limit. Since Sarah has a fear of heights it looks like my two-day mule ride in the Grand Canyon will be solo. And responsibility has gotten in the way. I couldn’t go to Iceland because of limits in my vacation time and she couldn’t do a few things with me because of her research for her master’s degree. These are minor inconveniences.

Sarah and I are going to Italy. This will be our first international trip together. Here is how it happened. We were eating dinner before attending The Who’s 50th anniversary concert (because let’s face it, there might not be another chance) and discussing Iceland. She had found an incredible package deal that didn’t include those annoying tour groups. Of course they had limited departure dates and none of them were accommodating to my work schedule. With my wanderlust, the lure of adventure dangled in front of me and then yanked away by something so provincial as work was more disappointment than my psyche could bear. I just about had a temper tantrum over a plate of crab nachos.

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Sarah, being a much more adjusted person than I am, suggested we look for something that would fit into my oppressive work environment. And that is how we found our trip to Italy. It includes the flight, hotel, rental car, and breakfast. It’s someplace in Tuscany. Most importantly, the hotel is across the street from the train station. We have a car, we are near a train. It is on! We pulled out our phones and bought the trip before the server could bring our check. What a great night. There will be stories generated from this trip. Oh, there will be stories! Most current will be available on Underboob’s Facebook page.

Critical Thinking- You Are Doing it Wrong

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What we are deficient in his critical thinking skills. There’s a lot of talk on the Internet and all these blogs about privilege.  White privilege, male privilege, white male privilege, female privilege, CIS privilege, ad nauseam.  Perhaps it is a larger issue that affects our society. Maybe it’s some sort of cultural inherent behavior that were taught from birth. Personally I think it’s a failing of our schools and the curriculum

No one in this country is taught how to think critically. Logic is something they cover briefly in a math course, usually in high school. I’ve sat in boardrooms with CEOs and VP’s that are not capable of finding a root cause to an issue. Highly experienced professionals that can’t tell the difference between an opinion and a fact.

Example:  There was a minor fender bender involving two forklifts. Both drivers were following company policy, drug tested, and came up clean. So now everybody meets around the boardroom and tries to discuss what happened, what went wrong, and how do we fix it.  I was informed that the root cause was carelessness on the part of the driver. No one could illustrate how they came to that conclusion or find any supporting documentation. They thought about it and they put themselves in the drivers position and they came up with they just weren’t paying attention

No one went out to the site of the incident, no one took pictures, no one looked at the dock area. They just stated their belief firmly and emphatically. Because surely, if they stated their opinion enough times with enough emphasis it would become a fact and everybody would just accept it because of their position of authority.

Enter me: Demanding to have documentation and photographs evidence. You can all imagine how well this was received! Heaven forbid I say “perhaps there was an obstacle that prevented them from seeing the other driver, let’s go look.” I was told we couldn’t because it was a few days ago and now the dock looks different and here I go again with my logic saying let’s look at the cameras from the date of the accident. It took a good 20 minutes to convince people that we should look at the film footage and actually view the incident as it was occurring. Turns out there was a large pallet in an intersection and it was blocking the view of both employees.

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Sounds like we found the root cause. Okay, now we have to come up with some sort of corrective action. That one was easy, we will just move the pallet. Great! Now what are we going to do about a preventative action to make sure that it doesn’t happen again? Apparently, insisting that we don’t overload the dock is pure blasphemy. It seems the only acceptable solution is that everybody be more careful when the dock is overloaded and their view is of obscured. I pointed out the deviation in investigating our incident or record keeping would not be an acceptable solution to a government agency. That was met with a whole bunch of eye rolling and sighing. And remember, I’m dealing with VP’s and CEOs who are rolling their eyes and sighing at me. And let’s not even discuss the one manager who was outright hostile to my suggestion that they might need to make some changes in their operating procedures to ensure the safety of their employees.

So back to my original point. This is what’s wrong with people in our country and our culture. No critical thinking skills. We have a population of “educated adults” who can’t think logically. Grown people who cannot tell the difference between their opinion and a fact. Experienced professionals who think that just because they don’t agree with the law or regulation that’s enough to ignore it.  Some days I feel like my entire professional life has been spent trying to convince upper management that it would be much easier, faster, and efficient to just comply with the regulation then it would be to find ways to get around it. And all of this because I’m dealing with people who can’t draw a straight line from A to B to C. Large groups of people who cannot seem to make the connection between cause and effect

We can make the argument that this is a cultural phenomenon due to privilege. Of course that may be true and in some cases it probably is. The solution to this is to introduce critical thinking and logic into our school system. It’s really hard to justify putting down one group of people to raise up another when you’re using logic. Once you understand the difference between your opinion and the actual data presented to then you, you’re able to make much more concise choices. My mantra at work for the past 15 years has been this ” It is not my opinion, this is a regulation. You don’t know what my opinion is because it’s a relevant.” I just can’t understand why when something is a government regulation and I show them where it is written that they then go “Well, do we really have to do that?” Yes, yes you really have to do that and you have to do it right and you have to do it consistently and you have to train everybody to do it. Yes, you do even you even though you are a VP, even though you’re a CEO, and even though you’re a white male. Nobody cares,you still have to do the right thing. You still have to follow the law.

VWW-Unclubbable

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Unclubbable

having or showing a disinclination for social activity : unsociable

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And this pretty much sums me up. It is spotlighted during the holiday season with all the parties and mad rush to celebrate. I have no interest in any of it.

Yes, Christmas is great. So is Chanukah, and Yule, and Festivus, and probably Kwanza (I’m woefully ignorant about Kwanza). But it’s getting cold and it’s dark at three in the afternoon. My circadian rhythms are flooding my body with signals to hibernate, not celebrate. I want to crawl under a warm, fuzzy blanket and whisper words of devotion to my pillow.

Lets not even start with the New Years parties. I get it. Out with the old, in with the new. But why? I mean, it’s just some arbitrary date on a calendar. It’s not really a good starting point. I mean, it’s not really mid winter since winter only started on the solstice a few weeks ago. That marked the shortest day of the year. There would be a good place to start over. When the days begin to get longer and the sun returns. I could have a party for the return of the light.

But I probably still wouldn’t go. I hate small talk. I really don’t like socializing. I loathe having to repress my thoughts, opinions, and expression in favor of a socially acceptable mask. Standing in a room full of people I hardly know, holding something I most likely won’t consume, and attempting to be mildly pleasant so no one is offended is exhausting, not entertaining. On the flip side, drunken revelry isn’t appealing either. Who wants to drag themselves out of the house only to be surrounded by strangers with no impulse control? That doesn’t seem fun anymore.

So I am unclubbable.  And I think I am alright with that. You go have fun for me.

Indoctrinations

I have never been a fan of romance novels. It always seemed like granny porn, something older women read to fantasize. At one time I would buy used romances based on the absurdity of the cover at a thrift store, read them with a group of my friends, and make fun of the passages. Nothing like hot, moist, loins ignited with the flames of desire to get us all into a good belly laugh. If we ventured beyond that we would poke fun at the horribly simplistic depictions of interactions between the genders. The men were always in a position of power, often some sort of misunderstood outlaw or unjustly vilified criminal and the women were always some sort of victim, either a hostage or a forced marriage or some sort of dilemma that implies subservience. At some point the female protagonist always attempts some show of defiance or independence in an attempt to remove herself from the situation at hand only to find that she is really in love with the man and thus succumbs to her fate proving that love makes everything better. Apparently, even Stockholm Syndrome.

Tell me this doesn't send a message!

Tell me this doesn’t send a message!

So why do so many women read these things? I think the bodice ripping romance has become the modern parable in that it reinforces for women the lessons we are taught as small girls about accepting rape culture. That’s a bold statement, I know, but hear me out. Remember being very young on a playground and a boy teases you, pulls your hair, pinches or hits you? Remember crying because either your feelings or actual body were hurt? Remember being told by an adult that the boy did that because he liked you? Remember thinking that made no sense at all? I’m pretty sure we all remember that.

This is probably our first indoctrination into rape culture. Being told to accept physical and emotional abuse from a peer as a sign of affection is ludicrous. If an adult woman said a man was hitting and belittling her we wouldn’t say it was because he loved her. We would tell her she deserves better and to get away from him. But little girls are taught to accept that kind of behavior and encouraged to do so with as little objection as possible. Not only does this encourage girls to internalize that boys will cause them pain if they are admired, but also that boys are not capable of processing emotions. Has anyone ever stepped back and thought about how insane this is?

This is just one big self-fulfilling prophecy. Boys will be boys is a permissive encouragement to young boys to continue to be more physical and less verbal in their expression. Not only does it give boys license to be more physical it also discourages them from verbal expression. Additionally, it enforces a sense of male privilege in allowing boys to solve their problems by corporeal means. Girls are taught to accept this as not only a matter of course, but a compliment. They shouldn’t cry or make a fuss when they are hurt or bullied by boys. That’s just what boys do. It’s how boys express themselves. Girls need to learn how to change their instinct to protect themselves from assault, be it verbal or physical, because the nature of boys can’t be overcome. And that’s just the way it is.

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This belief is so pervasive in our culture that it is perpetuated without thought. Sure, we say things like “Use your words” and “Don’t hit girls” but we don’t really back that up. “Use your words” is for situations when being combative is frowned upon. Like the classroom or the grocery store, places even children know they have to fall in line. But once they are let loose on a playground, the natural habitat if you will, those rules no longer apply. “Don’t hit girls” is generally given to mean don’t hit them in anger. You can indeed use physical force to express your superiority, because boys will be boys after all. And children understand this, even if they can’t articulate it. They see hear what we say and see what we do. They learn the lesson by witnessing who gets rewarded for what specific behavior regardless of what the rules are explained to be. They learn very early that the game is rigged.

Sooner or later people become more self-aware and gain critical thinking skills and the ability to question. Here is where the romance novel comes into play. It’s not alone and I don’t mean to get down on a single genre of writing. There are several cousins that assist romances in reinforcing the cultural code of male privilege and rape culture. Romantic comedies, fashion magazines, television, music, and on and on. There is always a subset that works towards sustaining the status quo. But the general form of the romance novel as stated earlier is simply that men are in positions of power, they take what they want, women will grow to like it, and it’s sold to us wrapped up as a love story. So how is that different from telling a five-year old he punched your arm and ripped the head off your doll because he likes you?