Happy Paddy’s Day!


From Looking Over on Flickr.


Happy International Women’s Day!

Perspective can be tough to get, especially on our own behavior. We know that “seeing the big picture” or “getting an aerial view” is important to deep understanding, that we need to get some distance. It’s much easier to give someone else good advice than to follow it ourselves (even when our ability to give good advice comes directly from needing it).

It’s true for group behavior, too. The conventions, the little in-jokes, the “way we’ve always done it” – these can be harmful to individuals, but if the group is homogeneous enough, the pressure to refrain from pointing it out can be just as strong as the negative experiences themselves.

From a booklet intended to help wartime supervisors bring women into the workplace, from the Records of the War Manpower Commission.

When women went to work to support the war effort, they entered an environment few of them had ever seen, supervised by people who barely recognized where they were coming from. These pages, along with 2 other spreads at the National Archives, Southeast Region, give us a look into a booklet to help those supervisors get the best work out of these mysterious new employees.

This is good advice for all managers of any employees.

The presentation has all the hallmarks of a startlingly condescending piece, but the words tell a different story. Women are cooperative, patient, teachable. It may seem ridiculous that any of those things needed to be said, especially at a time when women were expected to be agreeable, long-suffering, and obedient, but the language is certainly more respectful than those cultural expectations. And the guidelines themselves are remarkable for what they really are: just plain good advice about welcoming new employees and managing them effectively.

This IS people management.

As minority interests of all kinds receive more attention, we see over and over again that familiarity goes a long way, that seeing the old, established ways through the lens of the people who had no say in them brings harmful behavior into focus and creates the potential for a better experience for all. Men benefit just as much as women from respectful treatment in the workplace, arguably more because they still have advantages there as well!

People don’t like change, and they often can’t stand the idea that someone ‘has it easier’ because of a classification difference. Fostering the understanding that they don’t have it easier – quite the contrary – is probably a lost cause, but we don’t really need a “who has it worst” contest at work, anyway. Workplace practices that proactively and supportively resolve issues that get in the way of actually getting the work done put the emphasis where it belongs: on the work getting done.

We can do it!


Thing-a-day 24: Hero Burger

It’s possible that more work went into the shot on the left than goes into any women’s magazine cover.

What it takes to make the perfectly photogenic burger

Thing-a-day 22: I’ll eat you up I love you so

Worth1000 has the best photoshoppery contests. I want to do one of those marvelous blog entries that is like a magical journey through the imagination, but the problem with Worth1000 and me is that I get lost down the rabbit hole, and nothing gets done for at least a day. So you will have to be satisfied with this.

From Miss Mantis, by ufosgalore

The source image is Portrait of Princesse Albert de Broglie, née Joséphine-Eléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1853). Well, the source for the room and the dress, anyway….

Thing-a-day 20: Zach King, the Vine Magician

I don’t know why he looks so surprised – I thought we all knew that chicks come out of eggs…?

From Zach King’s Vine stream.

Visit his stream to see lots and lots more!

Thing-a-day 17: Sportsball

I guess that’s a basketball.

I am impressed by the athleticism of these women, and I assume they must be dancers of some kind, who would be accustomed to some pretty fancy footwork in heels. I couldn’t find source information about this photo, and if you have some, I’d love to know more about it.

Women in the 1930s did wear different shoes for that game (and probably headgear, if any), when they meant business, though.

From the collection at Pics of Then, an individual’s collection of old photos.


Thing-a-day 16: Knights and Snails

The British Library posted a wonderful group of images of marginalia featuring knights facing off against snails, almost all from the 14th century.

Knight v Snail II: Battle in the Margins (from the Gorleston Psalter, England (Suffolk), 1310-1324, Add MS 49622, f. 193v. More at Knight v Snail.

Got Medieval also touched on this subject some time before, but with fewer illustrations, and at pre-Gébelin Tarot History, Michael Hurst explored it (mainly about halfway down).

Smithsonian also took it up, gathering a couple of these and other references, and Homo Ludditus expanded on the subject, adding a few more. Strange and wonderful.

Thing-a-day 12: Bench Progress

Posting to my blog every day for the month of February is only one commitment I made this month. The other is do a cycle of 5/3/1, a weightlifting program developed by Jim Wendler. There are several programming volumes for 5/3/1, which you can have calculated for you at a wonderful site called Strength Standards, whose front page asks you a few questions and predicts your 1-rep-max weights for the 4 major barbell lifts: bench press, deadlift, squat, and overhead press.

I’m doing the lightest volume of 5/3/1 – just 6 sets of each of the main lifts, each on separate days. I enjoy strength training, and I’d like to have a total of over 500 lb (that’s the total of your max in bench press, deadlift, and squat). I’m close, at around 450, but I’m in no hurry. I am more of an endurance athlete by inclination, and hitting each major lift once a week is plenty for me. I am finishing Week 2 of this 5/3/1 cycle, and it suits my goals perfectly right now.

I took this photo in the Arboretum in Seattle in 2008.

Right after I graduated from college, I started going to a gym, looking to gain weight, and when the trainer asked me my blue-sky goal – something I’d always imagined but never thought I’d be able to do – I said “I want to bench press my weight.” We got me there – on a technicality. I benched my starting weight once, for 1 rep. (The real success was that I’d gained almost 20 healthy pounds.) Then I gave up the bench press.

Over 20 years later, I’ve taken it up again. There are other lifts that interest me more, and for more than 6 months, I just didn’t bother with it at all, because I could do other lifts at home but didn’t have a bench. But I got a new rack and bench last fall, and I’ve been pretty consistently benching once a week.

The 5/3/1 programming is based on percentages of your theoretical maxes, and it’s been telling me my bench is higher than my last test (in October, at 102.5 lb). So tonight I tested it again. And I benched 110. So close to that 120! But my strength is much less brittle now, and I know I’m going to blow right past it this time.

Thing-a-day 11: Medieval E-cards


From folio 21v, The Golf Book (Book of Hours).

Valentine’s day is this week, and while sites like someecards have the cynical market locked up, you might be looking for something a little sweeter to share this year. How about this image?

13. (ff. 21v-22r): Calendar pages for April; a full-page miniature (f. 21v) of a man and a woman courting, standing next to a fountain in an aristocratic garden, with, in the border below, men playing a game with a bat and ball….

From Add MS 24098.

Well, OK, that’s not the most romantic way to put it, but the point is: it’s a couple courting. More in their “Love” section.

Thing-a-day 8: Shark Family Tree


From Shark Family Tree (where you can see it larger), at The Fin [sic] Art of Ray Troll.