Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Nothing to Prove - The Doubleclicks

I'm in a music video! It's about the exclusivity of geekdom. As a geek girl, the daughter of a geek girl and the mother of two potential geek girls I have a valid opinion on the matter. This music video is excellent. The song is by the Doubleclicks and it's about how anyone laying claim to the title "Geek" should not have to prove their credibility to others who also claim this title.
The myth of the "Fake Geek/Gamer Girl" is well-known to any woman in geekdom. We have all encountered some kind of "test" of our geek cred which is really a shame, because although geekery is something to be proud of, it's not the key to some magical exclusive castle.It's an inclusive castle, dammit, with knights and princesses of both (any, neither) genders!
So, I submitted a clip to the makers of this video. Enjoy the excellent song. Take pride in the things you love and remember that a huge part of the joy of loving something is sharing it with others, no matter what their gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or religion may be. Fuck you to anyone who thinks differently.

Monday, 22 July 2013

How do you teach a child about consent?

One of my pet issues in the realm of feminism is bodily autonomy. I am a firm believer that an individual must always have autonomy when it comes to their physical self. This expresses itself in my staunch pro-choice beliefs and my feelings about a woman's right to self determination even while pregnant, extending to my belief that pregnant drug users must never be forced into rehab without their consent.
As a parent I am trying to instill bodily autonomy in my children. I want them to understand that it is always ok to say "I don't like it when you touch me like that" and that it is never ok to touch someone who says that,  anything similar to that, or touching someone who is incapable of saying anything.
That said, I sometimes have to say "I know you don't like it when I touch you like this (usually involves saline drops in their noses) but Mommy sometimes had to do things you don't like to keep you healthy and safe." This is often followed by a list of people who are currently allowed to touch them and a reminder that they should always tell a grown up they trust if someone, anyone, including me, touches them in a way that hurts them or makes them sad or angry. This results in them telling Daddy when I've given them medicine they don't like or if I have grabbed their hand too hard when they were trying to run into traffic.
I'm not sure how successful I've been but I will keep trying. I also need to teach them now to last people know to back off.  I have never been good at telling people to back off when they are making me uncomfortable but I want my daughters to have the confidence to speak up when they are uncomfortable or upset.
I will be working against 30 years of conditioning as I teach them to ensure that other people respect their boundaries. I'm sure that I will give them confusing messages frequently but I think that as long as I keep a consistent message in my head I will be able to guide my girls. Maybe while teaching them about consent and boundaries I will learn about maintaining my own.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Dealing with Other People's Ill Children

We are in the midst of something that will change our lives and it actually has very little to do with us.

I have chosen to send my kids to a private, in-home childcare provider. I was in both licensed daycare and private care and I personally preferred the private care. My babysitter was like a mother to me. I wanted the same thing for my girls. I found an excellent childcare provider who loves my girls like her own and provides excellent care.

I don't want to go into too many details but she had a baby 5 months ago who has numerous health problems. We just got word today that she has a rare, severe congenital disorder. Her prognosis is not good. I couldn't find any information on mortality but from the details I was given she is going to suffer severe complications that will likely cause her death.

I'm heartbroken but numb at the same time. I cannot imagine what K is going through. I also have no idea how to help. I don't even know how to talk to my kids about this. This baby is essentially a sibling to them. They have been very involved in her life. I also shake my feeling of guilt order having two perfectly healthy kids.

What do you say to children about the illness of a baby? What do I tell my kids about how much their daily life will probably change? When do I make the call to find another childcare provider? Do I leave everything up to K? I can't imagine she will be in any kind of shape to look after kids for some time but I trust her to make her own decision.

We are in a holding pattern right now. The girls have a backup childcare provider who understands what K is going through and is willing to take the girls for now. S is a friend of K and has also gone through the ordeal of having an extremely ill child. She is great with kids and my kids love her but I don't think she will be a permanent replacement because she already has a full house.

I am going to respect K and let her sort through things on her own. I want to help but I know she already has an incredible support system so I'm not she what I can offer her. I want my kids to stay with her as long as possible but I don't want her to feel like she has to continue looking after my girls while she is going through this. When baby was first hospitalized I sent K funny stories about what my girls were up to in order to make her smile and to keep in touch without having to discuss what was going on at the hospital but that would feel wrong now. I might still send her a text to let her know the girls love her and miss her. I don't have to feel guilty about that.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

How I Started Making Videos

My boss went to film school, so when he decided that his company needed to look into in-house video production for product videos, he knew what he was getting into. While he was planning an entry to the world of online how-to videos I had no idea what was going on. I was going nuts on mat leave, bored and lonely. I was also concerned about the future because although I was technically on maternity leave, I did not have a job to return to.

A former co-worker told me she was leaving the company just as they were getting ready to start a new, kind of crazy project. She asked to meet me and told me about what was going on and what the project might be. I told her I was interested and that I would love to come back to work ASAP!!! (as long as I could find child-care). So, she relayed my thoughts to the bosses, we scheduled a meeting and I came in, looking like a new mom, haggard and frazzled.

They asked me about my experience with video production. None, other than what I’ve absorbed through osmosis from my father and growing up around a news studio.

They asked me about my experience with photography.

Minimal portrait taking for a chain studio. I had a vague understanding of 3-point lighting and NO idea how to properly use a camera. Again, I’d picked stuff up through being around amateur photographers, former professional photographers, and former news camera operators but I had never had more than a passing run-down of camera technology, let alone composition, technique, focus-pulling, etc... They asked me if I was interested in learning.

Hell yes. I love a challenge.

Good enough, they said.

I was fortunate enough to have an understanding of where to start and to have bosses willing to hire pros to teach me. We recruited a producer, a director of photography and an editor to show me the ropes. I had a week with the producer, two days with the DOP and two days with the editor. They tried to cram 4 years of film school into that brief time.

That was 3 years ago.

If you go back and look at our early efforts it is quite obvious that we had no idea what we were doing. I was still getting the hang of the camera, afraid to change any settings lest I did something I could not un-do. My “talent” - although a great teacher and an expert in his field- had never been on camera before. He was stiff and formal, obviously self-conscious and just as afraid as I was.

We are still learning ever day. Luckily, I am no longer afraid of my camera. I have read and re-read the manual so many times, trying to figure out how to get the most out of it. The pros we hired gave me a starting point. They gave me enough information to pick up the camera to shoot and sit down to edit the resulting footage. The main thing I needed to start producing our videos was the confidence to learn.

We started with nothing more than a goal. We wanted to make videos instructing customers how to properly install 500 of our top-selling parts. We knew how to provide the instructions. We had a clear idea of what we wanted to show customers so all we had to do was shoot it.

Video production takes time. I am constantly learning. I continue to read books, I am still taking courses and attending workshops but the most important thing I do is I shoot. I keep shooting videos, I keep editing, I keep writing scripts and I keep experimenting with my camera. Practice will never make me perfect, but it will make me better.

Get a camera, start shooting, read the manual, prepare for terrible footage, learn.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Handmade Holiday MADNESS!

Things are starting to improve at home. Husband's meds seem to have stabilized and he can enjoy things again. It's still not all sunshine and rainbows, but it's also not soul-crushing despair either. As with all meds, there are side-effects but we are dealing with them as they come. I'm feeling better about being there for him, since I'm coming to terms with the fact that that is really all I can do.

We are at the beginning of our busy holiday/birthday season. We have 5 birthdays plus Christmas in the next 3 months. I'm trying to get the drop on gifts and making as much as possible, but I also am working on a big commissioned project for which I will actually get paid. The project is about three-quarters done but the final quarter is always the hardest, often taking twice as long as everything else (I'm looking at you, Alica's wedding present!)(it still isn't done yet...).

I have 3 gifts finished, plus Husband's request which wasn't really a gift, more of a challenge (beard hat). I'm working on 5 more gifts, with additional plans if I have the time.

I'm ambitious and slightly insane but I also think I have a good estimate of my abilities. I should be able, at the very least, to finish the things I have started. As for purchased gifts, we have MIL started, Little Brother complete, niece started and Monkey started. I have to purchase something for BsIL 1 and 2, SsIL 1 and 2, The Boys (4 nephews) and FIL.

Our family will be the last on the priority list. We have one big-ticket item on lay-away and that will probably be the only big thing we get each other.

Monday, 5 November 2012

What Do I Do Now?

Life is a little weird right now. Things are good but there is stuff going on that I don't really know how to process, let alone deal with, move passed and build upon.

Husband has recently been diagnosed with depression.

Yeah, not a big deal, millions of people are diagnosed with and treated for depression every year. I'm proud of him for getting the help he needs and I have promised him that I will do anything and everything in my power to be there for him in whatever way necessary. I love him and want nothing more than for him to be healthy so that our kids have a functioning, involved, loving Daddy.

The problem comes from me not really knowing what to do with myself. I have told him I support him, no matter what. I have let him know that if he ever needs to talk about anything, I am here for him. I am trying to continue on as if everything is normal but we both know it's not normal. He says there's nothing actually wrong so there's nothing for him to talk about. He just feels like shit all the time and needs something to balance out his lows.

He's not sad any more, but the drugs also take away his happys. He doesn't seem to have the same joy. His ambition is gone. A minor example, normally he loves Halloween, goes all-out with a huge, homemade costume. This year he almost didn't have one. He got a great costume together at the last minute (two-face to go with our oldest's Bat-Girl). It just takes a lot more effort for him to give a damn.

This is where my problem comes in. I can handle him in a low mood, I can deal with the anger, with the desire to be left alone and the short-temper. I'm not sure how to deal with someone who does not seem to take any joy in things. We have two small children who need someone to celebrate the joy in life with them. I want someone who will passionately throw themselves into things around the house, someone who wants things.

I know these things take time, that treating depression is an unrefined science with many different treatments to try. Nothing works for everyone and it always takes time to figure out what will work for each individual. I do not expect an over-night cure where a magic pill takes away his lows but allows him to keep his highs. I am happy that he is trying to get better and that he wants to be healthy. I am proud of him and I love him. I just never expected it to be this hard to just sit by and wait.

Friday, 26 October 2012

50% of shooting video is waiting...

While I wait for my Talent to finish his "Real Job" I am working on some crafts. This Smaug-Lock is the only non-gift that I am working on, so it's the only thing I'm going to post. For now. He is based on an illustration I was given during the Hobbit craft-swap I participated in earlier this year. He's awesome. For those unfamiliar with the cast of the upcoming Hobbit movie, Smaug is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock Holmes in BBC adaptation of Sherlock. Bilbo is being played by Martin Freeman, or Dr. John Watson in the same series.

Things have been both extremely busy and kind of slow. There are days that drag on because I'm doing something boring, but necessary, such as keeping my spreadsheets up to date and there are days where it feels like I can't get any one thing accomplished because I am trying to do 5 things at once. Shooting days are both kinds of day at once. I spend a good chunk of my day waiting for The Talent to get ready but once we start shooting there are 5 things to do at once.

With our set-up I am fortunate to only have to wait for one person. If we had a bigger crew there would be more people to organize and there would probably be a lot more waiting. I'm not very good with waiting so I have these crafts and my spreadsheets to keep me "busy."

Monday, 15 October 2012


Do you know what the best part about being a producer is? The spreadsheets. Ok, I’m lying but not really. I have found that my best organizational tool is an old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet. I can keep track of what I have to shoot, when I’m going to shoot it, what parts are on the shot list, what parts I have ordered, what part I have yet to order, how much everything costs, what I have to edit, when it was edited, what the embed code is, what shoots had problems, what those problems were, etc... All that on just one spreadsheet! I have many more that have key pieces of data that I need to understand for any particular video.

That said, the hardest (read; most boring, tedious, time-consuming) part of my job is updating the spreadsheets. When I had an assistant it was easier but now that I’m a one woman operation I have to actually update all of the spreadsheets myself. And as I update the spreadsheets, I get crazy ideas about new spreadsheets to keep track of more specific pieces of information and it all just snowballs until I look at the clock and realize I haven’t even started to cut today’s video.

The strangest part? I have no idea how to properly use Excel. Our HR/Accounting super-hero has to set everything up for me. And then I ask her to do crazy impossible things like “Count all the videos that have an embed code and no edited on date” and she can actually show me how to do it. I am starting to suspect that Excel runs on some sort of magic.

That’s the glamorous life of a repair video producer. My mornings are spent emailing, meeting, thinking, reviewing, spread-sheeting (it’s a verb now) and occasionally script-writing. My afternoons are spent in the glorious realm of editing where time does not exist (video editors know exactly what I mean). None of this would be possible without my spreadsheets. I would be completely lost and have no way of finding myself without them.

One of these days I will actually learn how to use them.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


I have so many ideas bouncing around in my head. Not quite brain-crack ideas (look it up) but almost. Some of them are specific projects I can work on for my day job, some of them are less specific but still for the day job and some of them are dreams of things I would love to do if I had the time and/or money.

I won't go into the specific work-related projects here because they are bordering on proprietary but the non-work one should probably be hashed out and released to the wild.

Inspired by The Lizzie Bennet Diaries I would love to make a vlog-style webseries based on one of the following books - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Lord of the Rings, Romeo and Juliet (or anything by Shakespeare), Neverwhere, or something by Kurt Vonnegut.

I've also been watching more YouTube educational/thought-provoking stuff like Crash Course and PBS Idea Channel and I would love to do something like that where I can explore philosophy, history, (pop) culture, literature, a little science and big ideas, probably something that would specifically relate to feminism and women's studies.

I'll probably keep these ideas percolating for a little while. Most of my creative energy until Christmas will be spent crocheting 10 Doctor Who characters for a friend's husband.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

I'm not a Feminist but... Ok, I'm totally a Feminist

Something wonderful was happening and I didn't even know it! Feminist Frequency has been funded to make a BOATLOAD of videos about female tropes in video games. If you haven't seen Anita Sarkeesian's series about general tropes of women in pop culture, you should got watch it right now!

Now, as with anything worth doing on the internet, trolls were involved. I'm not going to repeat anything the trolls have said here, but use your imagination. It's about 110% worse than that.

I'm excited to see what Anita can do with the money she raised. I'm thrilled that a feminist pop culture expert is able to devote herself 100% to making kickass feminist videos and I'm anxious to see where this takes feminism on YouTube and in videos games.

That said, I'm disappointed in this article from New Media Rockstars.

The first two paragraphs are informative and make some attempt at impartiality. The rest of the article is full of dismissive statements, unacknowledged privilege and veiled sexism.

"I emailed Anita in an attempt to get some clarity with this whole thing, but as of this story going to press, I have not heard from her. I guess she’s busy playing all those video games the Internet bought her."

This makes the reporter sound like one of the trolls he was keen to deride in the same article. Damn right she's busy playing the video games the internet bought her. How is Anita supposed to make a groundbreaking video about female tropes in video games without first hand experience? We need an authentic voice speaking to the good and bad qualities of women's portrayal in every aspect of media. Video games have long been vexing feminists and now that our generation has grown up gaming we need to engage in an ADULT conversions about what these female characters do to and for the rest of us, the same way we discuss how women are portrayed in movies, on television and in books.

I would love to know what Sarkeesian thinks of Lara Croft, the female protagonist of the hugely popular Tomb Raider series. Sure, she wears hot pants and has a bust-to-torso ratio that would make Barbie jealous, but she’s a strong, independent, woman with her own business (even if Tomb Raiding seems likely illegal) and no male figurehead upon whom she depends. Is that the feminist ideal?

No, Lara Croft is not a feminist ideal. Some aspects of her character are admirable but if you look at the whole Lara Croft package she was not written or designed to emulate real, relate-able, strong women. She would fall under the trope of "fighting f*&k toy" that Anita has listed as the topic for video #2. She is a one dimensional character with daddy issues who, while extremely tough, is there to be ogled and almost all of her interactions are with men, either helping or hindering her in her quest.

In my mind, women can have compelling story arcs and not just be background fodder or arm candy for the male character, and they can even look good doing it. But maybe I am just a sort-of troll myself — one who writes in longform?

At least you're a self-aware troll. That's an improvement.