Friday, December 31, 2010

Are You Calling Women Lazy???

The following article summary got my attention in my google reader because it offended me.

Part-time work in the Netherlands has turned from being the prerogative of women with little career ambition into a powerful tool to attract talent in a competitive labor market.

The article "The Female Factor: Working (Part-Time) in the 21st Century" is odd- I find the message hard to pin down as far as what it's saying about women- but it's worth a read.

When I read the summary, I thought, "Really, New York Times? Did you have to say it that way? Just because you work part-time does not necessarily mean you have less career ambition. Balancing work and family life is just smart. Oh, and now that GUYS are working part-time too, suddenly it's the latest, greatest thing and shows ambition?" That line seemed like a bit of a dig to me.

The article focuses on the Netherlands. It's pretty much about flexible working hours, but the info on Dutch gender roles is interesting. The article summary line comes from a couple sentences that have two typos, so part of me wonders if that summary is a result of not-so-thoughtful editing/writing.

Take a look:

But in just a few years, part-time work has ceased being the prerogative of woman with little career ambition, and become a powerful tool to attract and retain talent — male and female — in a competitive Dutch labor market.

Indeed, for a growing group of younger professionals, the appetite for a shorter, a more flexible workweek appears to be spreading, with implications for everything from gender identity to rush-hour traffic.

Did you catch the two typos?

I find the article's message a little confusing. While showing that both men and women in the Netherlands want to work less to spend more time with family, it also cites studies that imply that women- but not men!- are, well, lazy.

According to Ellen de Bruin, the author of “Why Dutch Women Don’t Get Depressed,” Dutch women don’t seem to mind too much. She notes that 96 percent of Dutch part timers tell pollsters they do not want to work more; the Netherlands is that rare country where — even taking housework and child care into account — women work less than men.

Um, ok... I dunno. What do you guys think? If you read the whole article, can you tell me if it's as wander-y as I think it is?

The article is part of a series called the Female Factor, which aims to examine "where women stand in the early 21st century."
Click here to read more.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

All-Weather Option: Stamford Museum and Nature Center

I love the SMNC! It's one of the few easy things to do with young kids in Stamford. You don't need to plan ahead like if you register for a class, and there is always something to see. (Namely, many types of animals.)

I actually love the SMNC in bad weather. When my sister and her kids were here last February, we had a cold but great outing. The maple sugar shack was already up and rolling, and we had the it almost to ourselves. Going to SMNC in winter is even easy with an infant- just wear them to keep them warm against your body. (I love *babywearing in winter!)

My husband and I took the kid to SMNC on a rainy Saturday morning this November, and we DID have the place to ourselves. "Are you sure it's open?" the husband kept asking, even after we had driven in and parked. "Look, the gate's closed!"
"That's to keep the turkeys in! It's always closed!" I said. "You just open it and walk through!" (He was hoping it was closed because he didn't want to walk around in the drizzle.) I wore the kid, even though he's getting heavy, and we stayed dry under an umbrella. If you are feeling restless, SMNC is a great place to walk around at any time of year.

*Babywearing Tangent (Don't read if you don't care):

This is me babywearing last year. Babywearing in winter is awesome. With the kid against you, you don't have to worry about if he/she is warm or not. You just know, because they're the same temp you are, so you adjust your layers around the kid accordingly. Recently, my sister got me a fancy babywearing vest, so I no longer look like a babywearing hobo with mismatched clothes. (No offense, hobos.)

And this is me babywearing this year, in my fancy new babywearing vest! Marie Claire rated the Peekaru vest as one of their "41 Gifts We Don't Want" but I'd say that writer is misinformed. (With a little research, she's have known that the grey size medium quickly sells out at Metro Minis on the Upper East Side.) I, despite being a babywearing fanatic, also used to think the Peekaru was probably not that useful... until my sister got it for me last month and I was in its cozy heaven of cuteness!!!

If you've babyworn, you know how much easier it is to navigate a crowded place without a stroller. Packed tourist destinations, escalators, stairs, no problem. It's also safer to have them higher up. Last month I had the kid in the stroller in the city- and someone ASHED ON HIS HEAD!!! I promptly put him right into our ERGObaby carrier and wore him for the rest of the night, navigating Times Square and Toys R Us without fear of some idiot dropping a cigarette on him or knocking him in the face with shopping bags.

My city-dwelling sister ordered me the Peekaru the next day, and I wore it the next time I went to see her. We got stared at admiringly all day. I'm serious. No one could resist our adorableness. I felt like a walking ad for the Peekaru.

(Yes, I'm wearing him while pushing a stroller in that photo! I've had hip problems ever since I had him, so if I'm walking 60-70 blocks like I did that day, I bring the stroller in case my hips get tired or sore.)

So, Marie Claire, thank you for bringing the Peekaru to the attention of thousands of people, even if it was to mock it due to your severe ignorance. If even one person discovers the Peekaru from your article, I'm delighted.
Click here to read more.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Music from CT Mom, My Voice Problems

I have to share this great video from my blogger friend CT Mom. She lives up near Hartford, but always drives down for the meetups organized by Kevin of Always Home and Uncool. She was part of a flash mob that sang “Hallelujuh” from The Messiah at her local mall.

I have to admit I had a good cry while watching this. I used to be able to sing like this before some devastating voice problems seven years ago. (Geez, was it that long?) I know the word “devastating” is strong, but every activity I loved- except reading and writing- was taken away. I had been singing in the Greenwich Choral Society, a glorious chorus of one hundred, and I loved it. Suddenly my voice completely gave out after a series of Christmas concerts, and I found myself unable to not just sing, but teach, talk at even slightly noisy restaurants, and read a book to my nephews. It was the worst time of my life as my painful speaking voice continued with no resolution. Can you imagine trying to teach without being able to talk? It was a nightmare. I would call my family on the phone, and ask them to talk while I just listened, because every word I spoke hurt.

I saw doctors, had procedures- sinus surgery, endoscopy, cameras put in my throat, a tiny capsule shoved into my esophagus to test for reflux- and nothing helped. The only thing that helped was voice therapy, and I am now only able to teach with a high powered microphone. That mic is the only reason I can live a normal life now. Even with the microphone, my voice still gets tired if I talk as much as I want, and I’ve had to restructure my teaching to protect my voice.

Before I realized I needed the high powered mic system, I tried to make do with a dinky one I bought at Radio Shack, and it wasn’t enough. Teaching was still extremely difficult. It was stressful and depressing to be struggling through the work day, then have to be silent in the evenings to save my voice for another painful day at work. I ended up taking a year off of teaching, and that’s the year I started Stamford Talk. That’s the one good thing that came out of my voice problems. I learned so much about Stamford, met so many great locals, and had fabulous Stamford Talk adventures.

I try not to think about what I still can’t do- sing, go to loud events, talk as much as I want. After the benefit thrown by Stamford Notes, it took 6 weeks to recover from the vocal strain that I should have recognized was happening, but I wanted so badly to enjoy the company. I take that experience as a reminder that if I want to do my job and still be able to read to and sing with my kid, I can’t go to happy hours. It’s a bummer. I skipped my staff holiday party this year because I was afraid I’d strain my voice. It’s still a fact of my life that I have to carefully choose when and where I talk, but I owe it to my family and my students to keep my voice healthy. That sucks, because I really, really love socializing, and I've had to give a lot of that up. Thank God I have writing as an outlet for my bounty of opinions.

CT Mom's video reminded me of how much I loved making music with other people. I don't think I'll ever be able to sing again in a chorus while I'm teaching. (I did sing with the Stamford Chorale during the year I took off. It went pretty well.) I’m busy with the kid now, and happy teaching, so I feel OK about not singing. I satisfy my singing urges with the amazing Music Together class taught by Christine in Greenwich. I'm completely addicted to it.

This article points out that 10 percent of teachers leave the field because of voice problems. When I was struggling, I didn’t know about all of the high tech options that would have literally changed my life. If you know any teacher with these problems, please tell them to ask their school for a mic system. Redcat system is pretty good. My school is currently trying out a few Redcats. The Vocalight system I use is better, but it's harder to install, and I believe it's a bit more expensive.
Click here to read more.

Driving Conditions Not Great

I found the roads surprisingly poor yesterday.

When I first got in my car at 10 am, a medium size four door sedan, I thought, Hey, the main roads are pretty good! Then I got to the Bull's Head intersection. Part of the turn lane on High Ridge to Cold Spring was blocked, so after getting into the lane, you had to get back out. The two lane Cold Spring (the little section by the two banks and the new unopened CVS, I mean) was just one lane. Turning right up onto Long Ridge was OK at 10 am, but making the same turn at 5pm, my car really slid in the slush that was now turning to ice. My friend, driving on Long Ridge at 10 am, hit an icy patch, lost control, and slid into a snow bank. She was fine, but two strangers had to dig her out.

Weather Underground warns us, as of 3:28 am Wednesday, "Melting snow that occured yesterday will lead to patchy areas of black ice on untreated roadways and sidewalks with temperatures at or slightly below freezing. Locally hazardous travel conditions will be possible. Motorists are urged to exercise caution while driving early this morning."

Doesn't that mean we are going to keep having black ice until all the snow melts away? Anyway, keep driving carefully.

I hope roads will be treated better today. That section of Long Ridge- the little uphill bit by the new CVS- probably should have had more sand.
Click here to read more.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Don't Want to Hate Norwalk

... but they are making it so hard.

A parking ticket that I got on Saturday November 20 for $25, that I forgot to pay until today- just a month later- is up to $100. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS! HOW IS THAT LEGAL???

Me to husband: "I'm never going to Norwalk again."
Husband: "Remember that when we find our cheaper place there."

We had gone to the Norwalk Aquarium, then had dinner. I guess I didn't read the street signs carefully enough and didn't realize I had to pay the meters. What an amateur move. I am kicking myself for that.

I'm trying to shake this off and take it as another reminder to keep better organized, but it's hard to give up that money without feeling bitter.

Other reasons I hate Norwalk:

The year I lived there, the commute home from Stamford/Greenwich was a nightmare. I'd sometimes leave at 3:15 and it would still take 45 minutes. I only managed to stay sane by listening to podcast after podcast. That was a long year. We got out of Norwalk as soon as possible.

Actually, the commute is the only other reason I hate Norwalk, besides the extortion-like parking ticket policies, but those are two pretty big reasons.

Norwalk, you have so much potential, but you make me so angry sometimes.
Click here to read more.