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Rachel
11 March 2008 @ 10:16 pm
I finally get around to writing another post.

So....

I like my job.  I'm a research analyst consulting for DHS in the Nuclear Sector Specific Agency.  I don't know much about nukes, so much of the past three months have been a crash course in the industry.  But its going well, I'm learning a lot and the job is interesting.  I finally got my DHS badge this week, meaning my suitability clearance went through and I can now go to the bathroom without being escorted (awkward...)  Its just annoying wearing suits every day, and hiding my piercing.  Oh well, I work for a company that I can be proud of (the primary thing is renewable and green energy consulting for DOE) in an area I'm cool with (keeping nuclear power plants, research reactors, and radioisotopes nice and terrorist free), which can be hard in this town.

I'm a blue belt now, just tested in last week, which means i get to play with nunchuks in addition to my bo staff.  I also learned the first bit of "Giant Bird Spreads its Wings" last night, which means i can barely move because of all the leaping around.  Soccer season starts soon, but this season I'm only doing part time.  With the new job where overtime is the norm (hello Crackberry) plus kung fu, i'd like to keep my saturday mornings.  That, and they never let me out of the goal.  At least we are still in division two though.

I'm still meeting with Gwen to practice Russian.. mine has gotten so much worse, so its good to keep it up.  It was funny, we were in a little crepe place chatting about things that girls don't usually chat about in Russian, and I completely blanked on the word Shoe (i know, right?), and someone behind us gently reminded me.  He laughed, and apologized, saying it was the funniest dinner conversation he had ever heard.  You have to be careful i guess, you never know when someone speaks your language.

Uhhh... so that's about it.  I've been to NY recently with the Mary and the Tim for an awesome visit with the Miksic (whom we all miss dearly), i went to Maine for president's day weekend, and went home to hang out with my grandmom (where a truck sent a piece of salt to chip my windshield AND my car got backed into within the space of an hour)

But alas, i no longer have the time to post here at work, so no more long winded rants on feminism.  Aren't you lucky.  But some plugs for blogs I've become addicted to:

Jezebel (feminism and pop culture)
Io9 (sci fi blog

and of course, if you don't already read it, add Benefit of the Doubt (blogspot) to your list of reads.  You won't be disappointed.
(shameless Miksician plug ends there)
 
 
Rachel
16 November 2007 @ 11:31 am
So I realized that despite my posting recently, I havent actually talked about whats been going on in my life.  Which is kinda a lot, when you think about it.

First, I'm officially a yellow belt and have been for a few weeks.  There is a lot to learn at yellow... I've learned a lot of the one steps and the self defense, and I've been shown all of "Flying Tiger Comes Out of the Cave", although whether I've learned it remains to be seen.  I havent had the chance to play with my bo staff, but hopefully I will learn soon enough to scare my family with my mad skillz over christmas.  Although im REALLY excited for a seminar coming up the week after Thanksgiving in which I will learn to be a formidable sparrer, and also in which i will learn the 7 sectioned chain whip.  If you want to see what it looks like, go here:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=iSt_6cUHLYU

Granted, I imagine most of the seminar will be focused on doing basic swings in a way that doesnt kill either me or anyone within a 5 foot radius.  As an added bonus, see that pretty scarf in the end of the chain whip in the videos?  Thats a really heavy REALLY pointy sharp spear.  And I get to play with it.  Sweet.  Now I just have to make sure I keep it hidden from Drunk Manning, who likes to play with dangerous things.

Also, today is my last day at my old job.  Its sad, I'm going to miss the people I work with here, but I am really pumped to start my new job.  We are having a nice lunch today, I got to choose the restaurant (Buca de Beppos- bruschetta craving).  I baked brownies asI get my own phone extension and laptop, because I am going to be going back and forth to client sites.  I spent an obscene amount of money on clothes (that I dont even particularly like, go figure) so I will look professional.  I've been spoiled by the low key casualish dress code here.  I start bright and early Monday morning at the L'Enfant Plaza office, which makes transportation super easy.

Lastly, we now have a ferret, which Bridget brilliantly referred to as a "rodent worm baby".  Thats exactly what they are.  They are what worms would look like if they were rodents, and they are as high maintenance as babies (Sasha lives in her habitat unless under STRICT observation, which Seeby usually helps provide.  She has been destankified, and is cute as a button.  I got home last night, walked in the door to hear anna yell "Watch out!" and feel something crawl up my leg.  I look down, Sasha looked up with her little ferret paws on my knee, and we decided to be friends.  Only Domino (the supposed "brave" one) doesnt like her, she is too scared to even be in the same room. Sasha and Seeby were even sharing a water bowl.  She is quite the cutey mccutersons.  We just have to make sure she doesnt get out unsupervised... they can do more damage than a rampant 2 year old.

Anyway, thats all for now.

OH and i officially own ALL of twin peaks, so if anyone needs your David Lynch fix, hit me up.
 
 
Rachel
12 November 2007 @ 02:46 pm
One of my coworkers sent me this interesting article about adoption.  The gyst is that there is a movement that is increasing in popularity to make birth certificates and adoption records available to adoptees.  Right now there are a few states where this information is open, but in most places it is closed.  I didn't realize that adoptees are the only group in the United States which is forbidden to ever see their birth certificate.

There are some valid reasons to keep the records sealed: personal privacy and the threat that it could create emotionally costly family relationships, fears that fewer people will give kids for adoption because of above reasons to name a few.  Although, a study just came out proving that in states where there are no restrictions, adoption vs. abortion rates are the same as before the restrictions were lifted, and are comparable to restricted states (thus disproving that concern).  However, there are good reasons to make the information public, such as people should have the right to know their family, and what i think most importantly (but for some reason they don't say in the article) is they should be able to see health records.

My health records (to my knowledge) are 24 years out of date.  Since so much of your health is dependent on genetics, its kinda important to know.

Personally, I think that both sides have a little bit of the idea, but they are going about it wrong.  I dont like the idea of creating a law to protect the few people who don't like its consequences.  However, I recognize that the consequences in a case like this have the potential to be quite damaging.

Here's what I propose: open adoption records.  Go for it.  You need to know.  However, have something similar to a "do not call" registry.  If you gave your kid up for adoption but do not want them contacting you, get on that list.  Make sure all adoption agencies have access to that list.  Most children looking to contact their parents start with the agency.  This structure can also be set up with whatever government agency registers birth certificates.  They can either get the name and contact, or get the name but in order to do so, sign a confidentiality agreement promising that they will not disseminate the information, nor contact the person involved.  If the adoptee breaks that clause, the parent can take legal action.

If the adoptee finds their parent's names through other means, they have one get out of jail free, because they did not know that their parent was on the list.  They call, the parent says, never call me again, and they have to comply.  I hate to compare adoptees to telemarketers, but I think a similar approach is needed.

I think people who are against the measure to open records misunderstand the situation.  First, records are sealed until the adoptee has grown up.  You need to hit a legal age (either 18 or 21).  At this point, the adoptee is not looking for a parent.  They already have a mother and/or father, and are old enough that they dont need another similar relationship.  Maybe they want a friendship, but its certainly not the emotional investment people are worried about.
 
 
Rachel
26 October 2007 @ 09:04 am
So any of you who have talked to me for a bit about it knows how much it irks me that there are articles and articles talking about how terrible my generation is: the entitlement, the laziness, the disloyalty to companies (look at the economy and shrinking benefits packages and ask, is that really our fault?)

But one of the biggest charges is that we are spoiled; years of being told we can be anything we want has led us to believe that the world will drop it at our feet.  Not only do I think the premise is untenable, I think the logic that arrives at that conclusion is flawed, just trying to prove questionable preconceptions about our generation.

First, this "you can be anything" idea is hardly new- it is just a retelling of the backbone of the capitalist myth (yes, it is a myth because it is not universally true).  The Horatio Alger rags to riches story- work hard, and you will someday be rich.  You can be anything you want.  So how can you argue that its only our generation?  Because its not limited to white males anymore?

Second, look at the wording.  It's you CAN be anything you want.  Not you WILL be.  In other words, the establishment will not prevent you from following your dreams.  Frankly, it doesn't give a shit if you want to be an astronaut, be you male, female, black, white, upper crust or blue collar.  In other words, the onus is on you.

In fact, its the opposite of entitled- it is assuring you that if you screw up, it is your fault.  Its the ultimate in existentialism- a philosophy that people would describe as the opposite of entitled.  And if you think about it, this makes sense.  More and more people are going to college.  GPAs and SAT scores are getting higher every year, and an application that could get you into an Ivy 15 years ago is becoming tier 2 material.  People are working more jobs, getting better internships, making more sacrifices for the future.

And thinking your sacrifices, internships, good grades are worth something further down the line?  That certainly isn't entitled, it is rational.
 
 
Rachel
24 October 2007 @ 08:59 am
Dear Metro Rider,

If I, as a passive at best listener to R&B, can identify exactly which Beyonce song you are listening to from across the metro car, then your music is too loud.  And to another rider, if you insist on playing silly repetitive games on your mobile (im with you, they are addicting), please for the love of god mute the sound.

Love,
Rachel


ps. Is anyone else really disturbed that less than two weeks after Bush refused to spend the money to provide health care to low income children, Bush parades around asking for $47 billion more money for Iraq?  There is something wrong here.
 
 
Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated
 
 
 
Rachel
22 October 2007 @ 11:03 am
So here's whats up (im sure a lot of you already know about this though)

I have accepted a new job at a place called Energetics as a Research Associate in their Homeland Security division.  Because it is a new position and a lot of the logistics haven't been worked out yet, I'm not quite sure what my specific responsibilities will be, but I will probably spend most of my time in their partnership division, coordinating between privately owned vital infrastructures and the homeland security division charged with keeping them safe.  I may also be thrown in with the engineers working on the nuclear security project, and possibly in their global health pandemic prevention project

I'm not sure where I will be based (the main office is in Columbia, with a satellite in DC proper, and one in development in Arlington where they hope to put all the DHS people).  They also don't know if I will be based on site with the clients, in office, or some of both.  It is nice because I may have the chance to help define what my responsibilities will be, and I am finally on a career track.  As much as I love my job, there is nowhere to go here.  At Energetics, I will be working in my field and can grow in my career.  There is also a chance of Clearance (you have to be cleared to use any DHS computers), which in DC is a goldmine.  Lastly, it pays more.

I feel bad leaving my current job (we are busier than we have ever been), but I have to think about my own future.  I agreed to stay here for a month to wrap things up and get someone else hopefully lined up to take my place.  Its a shame to leave behind such a good work environment, but I'm sure Energetics will be good as well.

To congratulate myself on my new job, i spent a whopping $50 on pjs from Victoria's secret (2 piece long sleeve flannel with a Lichtenstein style comic book print)
 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
 
 
Rachel
22 October 2007 @ 09:01 am
Good.  Now let's move on.  Seriously.

I'm glad he is.  Kids need more gay role models to prove gay CAN be role model, and it explains his history with Grindlewald SO much better.  I'm also glad that expository wasn't in the books, but was announced later, off hand, in response to a question, because we need to get rid of this need to define people by their "gayness".

What is the first thing you think about when you hear Dumbledore? Is it that he prefers guys?  I really hope not, because in Harry's world (which is how the story is told), it is an irrelevant bit of information.  I'm sure it was quite an important fact for Dumbledore's development, but for harry it simply doesn't matter.  But when we find out that people (or even characters) are gay, we reevaluate our definitions of them, and suddenly their sexuality is their most salient feature.  This is bad because it reinforces a tendency to file gay people away in your head separately from straight people, and that is bad.

In short, Harry loved Ginny.  He was straight.  But on a list of character attributes, I would put "whiney emo bitch" on a list waaay before I would ever think to put "straight guy".  So lets do the same for Dumbledore.  He is gay, so what.  In established Harry Potter canon, that fact belongs on the sidelines.  Lets stick to smart white haired old man who was one of the best wizards that ever graced Hogwarts.

Unless you write fanfic.  Then, have a field day (ie, creating an environment where Dumbledore's sexuality actually impacts the story)
Oh, and you may want to return your "Dumbledore's Whore" tshirt.
 
 
Rachel
15 October 2007 @ 03:27 pm
A legal/moral conundrum recently in the news (via Broadsheet)

A philadelphia area prostitute had just finished a transaction with one man, when he asked if she would service a friend of his.  She agreed in exchange for $100.  However, not one friend came, but 5.  And she didn't get $100, she got a gun to the face.  She was crying by the end, and the 5th did the decent thing, and instead of having sex with her, he helped her escape.

She sued them for rape, but the judge dismissed all accounts.  According to the judge, it was simply theft of services (which, as a prostitute, you don't have much recourse).

In this case, I completely disagree with the judge.  Sexual consent is one of those things that can be rescinded at any time or any reason, no matter what was said before.  I imagine that consent was rescinded the second she saw the gun.  She agreed to sex, but changed her mind.  Since "no" was the answer when it happened, that still counts as rape.

Secondly, there only was agreement for sex with one additional person.  If I agree to have sex with you, that agreement does not carry over to the rest of your football team, your frat, your roommates.  Its a one-on-one decision.  Therefore, if the judge wanted to ignore the fact that you are allowed to change your mind, there are still 3 other people who never got your permission.

However, lets alter this situation to one that probably happens a lot in the real world.  Man finds prostitute and a fee is established.  Transaction takes place, and instead of paying her, the guy laughes/kicks her out/refuses payment.  Consent continued through the end of the sexual act.  The client is clearly a bad person for doing that, but is he a rapist or just a thief?  Can permission be rescinded after the fact when a prior agreement isn't fulfilled?
 
 
Rachel
11 October 2007 @ 11:58 am
I'm of two minds about the newest crisis du jour thats been in congress and the papers lately: the growing number of college kids with excessive credit card debt.  Actually, I'm of three minds.  I'm not even sure it is a crisis...

The gist is that lots of college kids are graduating with mountains of credit card debt, more so than any generation before them.  The argument is that credit card companies are becoming more and more unscrupulous, telling pushers to lie about how easy bills are to pay back, giving out cool stuff like frisbees and tshirts, and doing their own version of predatory lending by marketing cards that are far from ideal to the students who would use them (who could qualify for better rates, no annual fees, etc.)

Now I'm not going to argue with that.  Card companies need to be reigned in, but I dont think it is because of the marketing; our generation is surrounded by it.  Try going a day without seeing a coke or pepsi ad.  I dare you.  What people need to pay attention to instead are the more dangerous and legally questionable practices, like double cycle billing (charging you interest even if you paid everything back by averaging out balances), raising your rate even if you've always been perfect because you were late with a completely different credit card, or just raising your rate whenever they feel like it.  They also like to hide in states like Delaware, where usury laws don't have a cap on interest rates (unlike most states which do have caps).  Information is hidden and written in legalese, and there is almost no oversight in the industry.

But no, people are worried about the number of fliers on campus or the free tshirts.

Implicit in this assumption (that the marketing is to blame) is the idea that this generation is stupid, that we can't do a basic cost benefit analysis.  Granted, this may be true, but it doesn't change the fact that the wrong thing is being corrected.

But at the same time, cards dont use themselves.  In order to rack up debt, you need to use the card and not pay it off.  You don't spend more than you have, and if you can't pay off your card every month, budget yourself and pay it off as soon as you can.  So poor john smith, who had to drop out of school to pay off his $20,000, you aren't going to get much pity from me, even if you did get an unfair APR.

The last question is, is this even the crisis it is made out to be?  Of course "record" numbers of people are graduating with credit card debt, because "record" numbers are getting credit cards.  The business week article even acknowledged that a generation ago, it was rare for a college student to have a credit card.  The numbers look big, but show me penetration rates!  The numbers are not comparable!

(although gee, i wonder if the gobs of debt my generation is carrying has anything to do with skyrocketing education costs?  look at the percentage of students who graduated in debt 40, 20 years ago, compared with graduates in debt today.  its depressing)
 
 
Rachel
02 October 2007 @ 09:50 am
 Arg.  I hate budgeting.  But you have to do it.  Just when you factor out all your daily expenses (rent, travel, car insurance, kung fu), it seems you are left with such a paltry daily sum of available money which i often spend over.  Granted, I just as often spend much less, but still.  I guess I'm mostly still smarting for the large sum I had to pay to get my car transferred and registered in DC.  It makes me wonder though, cars are an important resource for a lot of people to make money, and what do you do if you don't have $400 in disposable income to pay to the government in one go?

But calculating daily expenses is painful... $14 in rent, $5 in metro fares, $3 each for kung fu and car insurance, $2 for utilities... and thats without factoring in soccer (which is seasonal, so im not quite sure how to /day it) or food, which is variable....  I guess I can't complain though, even after this I still save and invest between 15-20% of my income and pay my credit card off in full every month, but still.  And I'm one of the lucky ones, I couldnt imagine having to make do with home/car payments.  There goes your savings, out the window.

But on a different note (stop me if you've heard this one before), I am sick and tired of my generation being shit on, being called the "me generation" and the "entitlement generation".  Sure, a lot of us grew up being told we could be whatever we wanted, but with that option comes a LOT of pressure.  We are all very driven to succeed and expect to have the influence to change things, but we certainly dont expect to be given it for free.  We work our asses off.  Usually this is called ambition, and is a positive trait (unless you are female of course, when it becomes an insult similar to "she doesn't know her place", but thats another issue).

Its just the older generation looking to justify their workoholism.  We can't possibly pass down our responsibility to this deviant generation, they are too self centered and irresponsible to handle it.  I mean, how dare they think that their cum laude MBA and impressive internships earn them the ability to change things.

And now that I think of it, didnt they lambast the prior generation, the Gen Xers, for being lazy and apathetic?  Face it, you Greatest Generation, you aren't Goldilocks.  Stop criticizing us for things you should be complementing us for, because face it, if you keep this up, we are going to end up your bosses.  Or at least we are going to choose your raisin ranch, so be nice.
 
 
Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated