Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tetris

Here's my favorite Steve Wozniak fact:
His favorite video game is Tetris.[58] In the 1990s he submitted so many high scores for the game to Nintendo Power that they would no longer print his scores, so he started sending them in under the alphabetically reversed "Evets Kainzow".[59]
From Wikipedia.

What's yours?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Working, Leaning In and Publishing (random ranting ahead)



I realize this is a bit random – I rarely talk about work here (and this isn’t really about my job, anyway), and I rarely get into very deep thoughts on anything other than credenzas, but I just thought I'd use my little space to complain for a moment. Or to think out loud, rather. 

I recently read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. It’s not the kind of book I normally read for various reasons, but after about 3 glasses of wine one night I downloaded it. There’s a lot to be said about it – good and bad and indifferent and unsurprising. She makes some good points, but she’s also kind of preaching to the choir (why write this book for women, why not write this for your fellow corporate executives?). But that’s not exactly why I bring it up. It made me think a lot about how this applies to me, my job, my industry. 

Random photo added for visual stimuli
 
I’ve mentioned before that I work in publishing – an industry famously dominated by women (76%, according to Publisher’s Weekly), however still lead largely by men. According to PW’s most recent salary survey, male respondents reported an average salary of $85k, while female respondents reported an average of $56k. This is largely because of the prevalence of men in senior management roles, and the average male respondent having been in the industry for 19 years, compared to 9 years for female respondents. 

One of the (many, many) concerns I have about staying in this industry is that I look around and don’t see many women past about age 40. Where do they go? According the PW survey, 30% of female respondents were under 30 and the average age of female respondents was 35 (compared to 45 for men), and 38% of women respondents said they thought they would change companies or careers within 2 years’ time. 

There are about a thousand reasons for a woman of a certain age (ahem) to leave the publishing industry. Bad pay? Check. An industry in flux? Check. Too few women in leadership positions, or too few promotions for women? Maybe. Bad/terrible family leave benefits? I’m going to say check. (yeah, I’m going to whine about the lack of maternity leave in this country again).

In her book, Sandberg writes:


“Forty percent of employed mothers lack sick days and vacation leave, and about 50 percent of employed mothers are unable to take time off to care for a sick child. Only about half of women receive any pay during maternity leave. These policies can have severe consequences; families with no access to paid family leave often go into debt and can fall into poverty… Too many standards remain inflexible and unfair, often penalizing women with children. Too many talented women try their hardest to reach the top and bump up against systemic barriers. So many others pull back because they do not think they have a choice. All this brings me back to Leymah Gbowee’s insistence that we need more women in power. When leadership insists that these policies change, they will.” (pgs. 211-212)

I’ve often wondered about the publishing industry: there are so many women in it – a majority of employees - but why don’t more publishers provide better policies for women, particularly women with families? Why isn’t that 76% of the industry better served? I can only think of one or two publishers that offer a maternity/family leave policy that is much better than the bare minimum of what is legally required (and this is America, so the “bare minimum of what is legally required” is basically little more than nothing whatsoever). Publishing has notoriously terrible pay, and try to mix that with miserable/no paid maternity leave – it’s actually an unfriendly industry for women with children to progress in. It’s hard to make it work in this city, in this industry, with a kid (or more than one! Yikes!) What is the point of staying in a low-paying career when faced with the too-soon return to work after having a baby? The rewards are too few. And what effect does that have on the potential for more women to become senior management in this industry?

nothing to do with anything
 
I won’t share what company I work for, and I have nothing negative to say about my company. It has a very standard policy on family leave*, and I have been given some flexibility in my return to work, for which I’ve been grateful for. And, in fact, there are a lot of women in leadership and senior management roles at my company – including our ceo. However, it should also be noted that those women are almost exclusively in the UK, which of course does have paid maternity leave.

And this is ‘Murica, and publishers and the publishing industry are just one of many that don’t offer paid parental leave for any length of time that would benefit working mothers. I personally feel that the lack of paid maternity leave, and especially that lack of time a mother is given with a new baby to develop, recover and adjust, forces women out of the workforce. How many women would remain in the workforce – to be promoted and take leadership roles - if they were given up to 52 weeks of leave? I don’t know. I suspect it would be significantly more.

Sandberg writes that “The more women attain positions of power, the less pressure there will be to conform, and the more they will do for other women. Research already suggests that companies with more women in leadership roles have better work-life policies, smaller gender gaps in executive compensation, and more women in midlevel management.” (pg 214) Interesting.

I know: I have chosen this industry, I have even chosen to live in this country, and I chose to have a family and keep working. I know, I know. But I still have to wonder why publishing is so heavily dominated by, and yet seemingly so unsupportive of women.

* In case you’re curious, I received 12 weeks off thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which protects the job of an employee for up to 12 weeks (unpaid) for the birth of a child (if the employer has more than 50 employees). I was paid for 6 weeks, partially, due to New York State’s “short-term disability” insurance, and my employer topped up that partial pay so that I received my full pay for 6 weeks. I also used some vacation time (paid), so that in all I took about 14 weeks off. So, in fact, I was actually incredibly fortunate compared to many (most?) American working moms.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Me likey

Ever since I came into possession of some bisque vases a few years back, I've added bisque ceramics to my regular searches. I'm not simply looking at bisque vases anymore, but a variety of ceramic objets. Here are a few I've been ogling lately.

Vintage Porcelain White Owl Vase - Wolf Karnagel for Rosenthal Studio Linie from 1001vintage
Ball-shaped mid-century Eschenbach vase from Designclassics24
Bisque Eschenbach from wohnraumformer
Then I found these ladies. Oh la la! Or, whatever the German version of "oh la la" is.

G. Schliepstein Rosenthal Swimmer Nude Porcelain Figurine Art Deco 1936 from StevieSputnik
Antique Rare German Bisque Nude Bathing Beauty Figurine 4710 1920s from Swansdowne

Now, if I only had all the monies. And all the shelves. And a professional do come and dust all my tchotchkes.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

10 Months

This little lion recently turned 10 months old. He crawls, he pulls himself up. He grabs, so, soooo much. He calls for his mama. He claps and waves!


Friday, April 18, 2014

More Roar

When we decided on L's name, I told H. that he would forever be given things lion things. It's hardly the worst animal in the world to be associated with - who doesn't appreciate a large bearded kitty?

But who knew that I would be the #1 culprit at buying those lion things? I can't resist sometimes. So, here's a collection of lion paraphernalia that I've favorited recently (or flat-out bought already - though I haven't justified the $100 pillow yet).

Clockwise: Lion shirt from Mini Boden (no longer available), personalized little lion print from LeoLittleLion on Etsy, Robeez Curious Lion soft-soled shoes, hand knitted lion toy from Karenhandmade on Etsy, gold lion baseball tee from IndieNook on Etsy, Jonathan Adler Needlepoint pillow
Oh, and I can't forget one of the most important lion-themed items in any boy's (or girl's) collection: the Snoop Lion shirt.

From OuttoPlayKids on Etsy

When L. was born and we told our doctor his name, my doctor asked if we named him that because we love cats so much. Well, I'm thrilled that my doctor recognizes the catlady in me, but no. Depending on who you ask, he's named after either McGarry or Tolstoy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Traveling to Iceland with a Baby

You know that thing where a blogging person has a baby and then they only write about their baby on their blog and become a MOMMY BLOGGER? (dun-dun dunnnnn) I am trying not to do that. At the same time, I want to share my experience, while also not try to portray myself as some kind of parenting expert just because I've been at it for almost 10 months. That said, I was looking for info when preparing for the trip, and found it a bit hard, so wanted to share my experience. So, if kids bore you (and I understand, I really, really do) - feel free to skip on to the next post in your reader. If you're interested in traveling with a babe in arms, read on. 

When we were doing our research for this trip, I did a lot of Googling about traveling to Iceland with a baby. Pickings were slim. There's one guy who answers just about every question about travel to Iceland on those travel message boards, and he seems really grumpy. I think he even said it was "irresponsible" for someone to travel to Iceland with a baby in winter. Jeebus. Nobody needs your judgement, buddy. I think that baby's parents can decide what they and their babe can handle, not some grumpy travel forum troll. Anyway, here are my own tips for traveling to Iceland with a baby. Let's hope the SEO is good on this one!


First off, L. is 9 months old. And he's not new to traveling. By the time he is one year old, he will have taken 12 flights (10 so far). So, he's kind of a pro. He's also a laid-back, easy-going baby. He's also the cutest. So, I know we kind of have it easy when traveling with him.

We traveled in late March, and it has been an unusually cold and snowy winter (here and there). More than the temperature, it was very windy there - and that wind was bitterly cold. For evening walks, L. wore his fleece bunting AND  his little fleece-lined puffy coat. During the day he was happily bundled in just his coat, a sweater and a warm stroller sleeping bag thingy (we have a Jj Cole Original Bundleme ).

Car Seats

Let me first say I know nothing about Icelandic law. But, from what I read online, babies must always be in car seats, in cars, taxis and on coaches/buses. American car seats are apparently not allowed. However, most coach companies (including the Fly Bus at Keflavik airport and the Grey Line bus tours) have car seats that you can use. And taxis do as well, though you may need to book ahead to reserve one.

You can book your Fly Bus ticket and car seat online before you go. We didn't do that, but still had no problem getting a car seat when we got to the airport, but they only had one available. It was an infant rear-facing seat, but it didn't actually fit into the bus seats.

Here's the odd thing about the car seats. We used 3 Icelandic car seats (which were all Britax car seats). None of them really fit properly, nobody helps you install them, and it didn't seem to matter if your baby was big enough (or too big) for the seat you were given. I'm pretty sure my American car seat would have been safer.

Facing forward, it's cool.
A little research tells me that US car seats aren't used in European cars because the seat belts over there don't lock. You can buy a Metal Seat Belt Locking Clip for just a few dollars that will lock the seat belts, but I don't know if this will make your own car seat ok in Iceland. I'd be willing to risk the heavy hand of the law for it though, because at least your child would fit into the car seat.

Sight-seeing

We did a lot of walking around Reykjavik, and mostly used our stroller. For the record, we have a Baby Jogger City Mini , which is lightweight and folds up easily, so it's great for traveling. Some people opt to buy an umbrella stroller, but I don't need to buy another stroller when I have one that I like.

We brought our stroller just about everywhere, including going up, up, up Hallgrímskirkja church. There is an elevator up, but then there are quite a few stairs, so the stroller could only get up to a certain point - not all the way up. We just took turns going to the top.


As I mentioned the other day, we also did the 6-hour Grey Line Afternoon Golden Circle Tour. We booked a car seat ahead of our tour, and picked it up before getting on the bus. I booked the shorter afternoon tour, because I thought it would be easier with the baby. However, there is no less travel/bus time on this tour, it's just shorter stops at each of the sights. I didn't feel rushed, but if you're wondering which of the two might be better for a kid or baby, that's the difference between the two.

While we were able to stow the stroller in the luggage compartment on the bus, we only used our carrier for each of the stops. It was unusually snowy and icy when we visited, and some sights - like the Gullfoss Waterfall - have a lot of stairs. When you get to the bottom of the stairs, only a low rope separates you from certain death. I didn't go near it, because of the ice - and if you're traveling with a more mobile kidlet, be very careful.



The cafeteria at Gullfoss has changing facilities, but seemingly no high chairs.

In Reykjavik, we stopped by the little pond Tjörnin where they feed the ducks, thinking L. would enjoy it. However - being geniuses - we forgot to bring bread. Whoops. However, L. still enjoyed looking at the ducks and geese.



Eatin'

L. is pretty good in restaurants, but we still aimed to eat at places that seemed child-friendly. We also ate earlier than the dinner-rush. Everywhere we ate was accommodating to us, and our stroller, and as I recall, all had high chairs available.



One place that deserves special mention is the Laundromat Cafe. Leave your strollers with the others out front, but this cafe had nice breakfast, and has an AWESOME play room in the basement for kiddies. L. was too young to appreciate it, but it was a great playroom. They also had a sign that I really appreciated that said something along the lines of "go ahead and breastfeed, we likes babies and boobs". Sometimes it's nice to know you're in a safe place when you're breastfeeding.

Sleeping

I mentioned in my last post that we stayed at the Hotel Odinsve, which was great for us. We were on the ground floor (room 11, holla!), and had lots of space to stretch out and dump our junk. And lots of space for L. to practice his crawling.

I'm not really qualified to advise on babies and time zone adjustments. It all depends on your babe. We took a short overnight flight, where L. slept most of the way. He also slept on the 50-minute bus ride from the airport to the hotel, and then snoozed in the stroller while we explored Reykjavik in the morning. Usually he goes to bed at 7pm, and obviously he stayed up much later on this trip, and we didn't really try to stop that since it worked in our favor when the morning came round.

(Re-entry for this little space oddity hasn't been so easy though, as he has gotten so used to sleeping in bed with us that we're having to re-sleep train him and get him acclimated to crib-life again).

And there you go. Just a few tips I would have liked to have known about before we went! I hope it's useful to you!



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