How do we move forward?


Note: After I wrote this post, I thought long and hard about it and wrote this follow up – Listen. I wanted to delete this post, because it was a reaction, and not the way I usually write posts about current events or issues. If you were disappointed by this post, I get it.

A week and a half ago, I was just outside of San Francisco in my hotel’s fitness room- waiting for the prosecutor to come out and read the results of the Ferguson Grand Jury about Darren Wilson, the cop who shot and killed Michael Brown.

The kids were in the pool, I could see them through the glass. The TV’s in the hotel lobby were tuned to Monday Night Football. It was already late in Ferguson, and getting later and later. As I listened to Bob McCulloch drone on and on, congratulating himself, vilifying social media… it was clear that this was a three ring circus. Not justice. They gave people time to show up to protest. Made them wait, become frustrated. They were basically setting up the stage for there to be riots, because they knew the nation was watching.


Goodbye Eleri. Hello Natasha.


The last two weeks have been surreal, to say the least.

Zorro killed my laptop. He crippled Eleri, to be precise. Yes, that’s what my last laptop was named – every device I own has a name. Anyhow, he knocked a drink over the keyboard… and while I put it in rice, it fried the keyboard and the trackpad.

So I worked on the desktop PC that we own- which lately was our Minecraft machine. You can imagine how much fun that was, trying to convince my kids to wait to play Minecraft so that I could finish up my work for the day.

When we were on vacation, I hijacked TheBoy’s laptop and used that to work. And for everything else, I took advantage of my phone’s unlimited data. Consequently, I fell behind on what a lot of people were doing.

After our vacation, the microSD card on my phone died – and I’m currently trying to figure out if there’s any way of salvaging the data on that. Since it had vacation pictures I hadn’t shared with anyone else yet (that’s really what I’m upset about)

And I’ll be honest, not having the laptop was an annoyance more than anything. I could still read. I could keep up with the news, and wade into my social media streams. I could email and text. I could write offline, but I had a harder time finding time to write using the desktop computer. Why? Because it faces the corner and literally anyone could walk behind me and watch me blog or work on fiction… and my brain shuts down when faced with that.

But I now own a new laptop! Instead of me taking my laptop to the Genius Bar, TheBoy decided I should just get a new one, since it was about time to upgrade.

introducing-natashaLong story short, I now have Natasha, and will be able to blog regularly again. Isn’t she beautiful? She’s faster, lighter. I’m soooo excited!

(And this isn’t even addressing the emotional toll that Ferguson has taken, or how busy I was with Thanksgiving, a cold, and a kid that needed to go to Urgent Care)

Always Listen. The Allegations Against Bill Cosby


I’ve been putting together my Avengers Half Marathon Weekend Recap, but my computer’s been acting up. Correction: Zorro knocked a drink across my laptop and borked the keyboard and trackpad. I can boot it and get information off… so after Thanksgiving, I’ll be taking that over to the genius bar so that they can try to salvage my baby.

When I told TheBoy about it, his first response was “And Zorro’s still alive?”

But I realized that before I share some pictures and talk about last weekend, I should address a much more serious issue. The rape allegations against Bill Cosby.

Just in case you’ve been frozen in a block of ice since the 80s, Bill Cosby was once sued by a group of mostly anonymous women because they alleged that he raped them. Bill Cosby settled. Then about a month or so ago, comedian Hannibal Buress brought up Cosby and the rape allegations in a set and the video went viral.

And for the first time since the social media age began, the internet became aware of the allegations. Then, for reasons unknown, Bill Cosby’s PR team asked people to meme him… and the majority of the meme posts referenced those rape allegations.

Women have started to come forward, and the similarity between all of their stories is that they were drugged, woke up in a state of undress, and weren’t believed by anyone they told. Or were told to keep quiet because of Cosby’s influence.

I’ve seen a lot of people doubting these accusations on the grounds that charges were never filed, that there are no rape kits, that some of the women admitted to additional encounters with him.

This is the same thing you hear with victims of abuse. Most of these women were young, early on in their careers and looking for some guidance. When faced with an older man with a pristine reputation in the public eye- there would always be an uphill battle. And much like victims of physical violence, there’s always the hope that they were wrong. That it wouldn’t happen again.

Today, it’s easy to judge and say that someone would be believed. But there was no social media. PR firms could do a much better job of controlling what people believe about celebrities.

Case in point, do you remember hearing about the time that Sean Penn almost killed Madonna? Did you hear about Charlie Sheen shooting Preston before that weird descent into madness a couple years ago? It’s because these things could be covered up, because the news hadn’t hit a 24/7 cycle with social media fueling it.

Most of these women didn’t come forward because they knew that nobody would believe them. It was their word against the man perceived as America’s TV Dad. So if you hear more victims pop up (and you will), understand that they’re doing so because people are finally listening. People are finally willing to believe that public image isn’t always what someone is like.

Not to mention that inconsistencies are common in stories from rape victims. Often, they’ll tell an account that minimizes what happened (to help themselves cope, or diminish the risk of being judged by others) and then later tell the full story. It’s hard to admit when you’re a victim when you aren’t sure how it’ll be received.. (It was hard for me to admit I was being stalked, or that I’d had a sex tape stolen, so I can’t imagine how hard it would be for someone who was assaulted)

So before you start judging, just remember that most of these occurred at a time when he had all the power, and they had no platform to speak. Now they do. So, listen. Don’t discount someone simply because their story makes you uncomfortable.

(And if you really want me to dig up statistics on false rape accusations, I will. It’s an insignificant amount compared to what goes unreported)

I’ve got IRON, how ’bout you?


I have anemia. I’m still not sure if it’s because of the Crohn’s, or just exacerbated by it – but I have severe anemia. As in, when I went to the hospital (the trip that led to the Crohn’s diagnosis) my iron was so low that they had no idea how I was conscious.

That first trip I had an infusion of iron (and blood!) and started taking iron pills. Daily. Then, for a period of time I was taking liquid iron (which is disgusting and stained my teeth), but I’d finally made it back into a normal range.

Then I went to the hospital in January. And with that flare-up, I lost a lot of blood, and thus… a lot of iron. So I’ve been gradually building it back up.

I had a blood draw last week (it’s my 7th blood draw of the year, 12 if you include the hospital stay), and went to my doctor today – and voila! My hemoglobin level is .1 under normal range, but it was a vast improvement – and my iron levels are normal.

It’s huge, really. I think that a big part of it is that I’ve been so very careful about keeping my Crohns from flaring up – it means I absorb more nutrients and lose less blood. So diet and exercise really does work!

Though, as my fantastic boss put it… the downside is that I’m more vulnerable to Magneto now.

magneto too much iron in your blood

Comikaze 2014: Being Black Widow


Whitney Drake as Black Widow

Me: Black Widow

This was our third year going to Comikaze Expo, and I have to say – it’s come a long way from the convention that made me want to weep because it took over an hour in the heat to get inside the convention center so I could wait in another line to get my badge.

If you live in the LA area, I actually recommend going to Comikaze. It’s affordable, there’s plenty of food at the Convention Center and around it (we went to a nearby parking lot where there were a bunch of great food trucks)- the floor is pretty well laid out with wide aisles so you don’t get a ton of bottlenecks, and there’s a nice variety out on the floor (despite “Comi” being in the title, it’s heavily a pop culture convention – a little bit for everyone, though Mile High Comics had a HUGE wall for their booth this year. It was pretty awesome). Their big panels are on the con floor, and it’s standing room only. Literally. You stand during the panels.

Also, they had HUGE Cosplay is not consent signs all around the floor and lobby. And they set up a ‘cospitality’ lounge for cosplayers to rest and touch up – I didn’t get to use it this year, but I saw a lot of people cycle through it.

I’ve gone in costume every year, in 2012 I went as Ramona from Scott Pilgrim. 2013, I went as Abaddon from Supernatural (it seemed fitting since the con shifted to Halloween weekend that year). This year, Black Widow.

It’s the most recognizable character I’ve ever cosplayed, and Natasha’s a character that’s near and dear to my heart. I’m not going to lie- when I posted about the sex tape here, I thought about her story arc in Winter Soldier. Knowing that everyone would know her secrets, but still blasting out all of SHIELD’s information because it was the only way to halt HYDRA. Even though it terrified her, she did it.

So we went, nice and early- and got a parking space under the Convention Center (that’s $20- the one in the adjacent lot is $15, I think). And it didn’t take very long before someone asked for my picture. TheBoy was surprised at how quickly I’d catch the people who wanted to stop me for photos- but it was pretty easy. I wasn’t listening for Whitney or Mom. I was listening for Black Widow or Natasha. And since I was people watching, all I had to do was notice if they were lifting their camera/phone in a ‘can I take your picture’ pose. (Plus, most people made a beeline for me if they wanted one. That was hard to miss)

And while I’d practiced a few poses at home before the con, some photographers were kind enough to give me some suggestions for the picture they wanted (I had a tendency to turn to the side, so you couldn’t see much of my costume- one guy pointed it out because he liked the details that I’d added). So that was pretty cool, and for me – cosplay’s a learning curve. Both in making the costumes and wearing them.


My thoughts on the Upcoming MCU


At a Marvel press event yesterday, they announced the movies of Phase 3. For those not familar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movies are broken up into phases. Iron Man is off on its own, and Phase 1 officially started with Iron Man 2, Thor, Hulk and Captain America. All those movies, timeline-wise happen in and around each other. Phase 1 ends with the Avengers. Phase 2 covers Iron Man 3, Captain America 2, Thor 2, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers 2. (And Ant-Man. I keep forgetting Ant-Man.)

So I figured I’d go from beginning to end.


I’ve been worrying that this was coming, as soon as the Pegasus facility was mentioned in Avengers. Civil War was a major story arc in the Marvel comics – big enough that while I wasn’t a huge Marvel fan, I actually read it (this was back in the days of scans_daily on LJ, and man, that makes me feel like I’m old). And… it just tore me apart, and unfortunately set up a lot of stuff in the comics that I didn’t particularly like.

But I’ve been talked back from the ledge- having it be a Captain America movie means that Steve will be the moral barometer and that they’ve slowly been pushing Tony into a position for him to make some questionable decisions. (And that’s factoring in the questionable ones in Phase 2)


Not the movie I’m most excited for, and last night I was saddened by the rumor that Benedict Cumberbatch was taking on the role. He’s a fine actor, but the MCU right now is pretty darn white. Plus, Dr. Strange was one of those characters that was created when people thought you couldn’t really have an asian lead- so instead you had a white guy learn the mystical powers of the East. It’d be a nice correction to have him played by a non-white actor.

At least the tweet above gives me hope. Fingers crossed for someone awesome. Like Oded Fehr, or Pedro Pascal. Who would you cast if you were going for a non-white Dr. Strange?


I think this was a given, but it makes me very happy. Yay for space misfits!


Loki will return! Ragnarok! Aaaahhhh.


T’challa! It’s about time. They announced that Chadwick Boseman will be playing Black Panther with a 5 picture deal. So there’s your first POC lead in the MCU. May he pave the way for a lot more!


Captain Marvel. Who they confirmed would be Marvel’s current Cap – Carol Danvers! And the MCU will finally get their first female centric film. I love the book, and I think she’ll be a great addition to the MCU. Any thoughts on who you think they’d get for Carol? (Katee. I mean it)


I think Marvel comics fan has been waiting for this to be announced- other than the Civil War, this has been the storyline that they’ve been setting up from Thor onward. And it’s an event so big, they had to split it in two. I’m excited.


…and I’m really excited about The Inhumans. Black Bolt and Medusa are one of my favorite couples, and with Carol being Captain Marvel, it makes me wonder if they’ll add Kamala in the lineup, since she’s Ms. Marvel. Because that would be amazing!!

So, I’m definitely excited for what the MCU has coming up. What are your thoughts- and tell me, who would you cast as Carol Danvers and Dr. Strange?

Oh HaleNo: When the Bully thinks she’s the victim


If you were on Twitter yesterday, you probably saw #HaleNo trending – it was in response to Kathleen Hale’s piece in the Guardian where she shared the tragic story in which her life was RUINED by a book blogger who devoted their entire life harassing her.

Which, given the stories we hear about online trolls/bullies, doesn’t seem too far-fetched, does it?

Only, if you read the piece (linked using donotlink so that it won’t improve the Guardian’s site ranking), it’s clear that isn’t what happened at all.

One of the amazing things about the internet is that you can create a pseudonym. Want to whistleblow? Live in an ultra conservative community, but want to write about things you know wouldn’t fly? You can create a pseudonym and do so. It’s amazing. It’s also something that bullies and trolls use to their advantage.

But that is absolutely not what happened in Hale’s case. Hale is the one who engaged the blogger, after she read the blogger’s negative review. She’s the one who couldn’t let it go. She decided that the negative tweets and reviews she got were the fault of that negative review. And just like that The Blogger became her white whale, who she continued to pursue – to the point where she used her publisher to get the blogger’s home address and went to confront her. That’s right. She actually went to someone’s house.

How bad was this harassment? It was enough that the blogger blocked Hale on FB, deleted her Twitter account – and then eventually returned to Twitter and set her profiles to private. But not before Hale sent the blogger multiple DMs to criticize her for using someone else’s pictures for her account. (Which incidentally, we don’t know whether or not they were used without permission- that’s entirely Hale’s assumption)

I’m not underplaying any of it. Literally, as you read, there’s red flag after red flag that Kathleen Hale can’t be trusted to be honest about herself. She begins by sharing the anecdote of her so obsessing over her book that her editor had to tear the finished book from her hand to keep her from attempting to edit it further. It’s meant to be funny, but makes it clear that she’s someone who obsesses.

It’s obvious reading it that Hale isn’t the victim. She’s the aggressor here, picking on a person who chose to use a pseudonym for her own reasons- reasons we aren’t entitled to have.

And the Guardian happily shared this story of an author stalking a reader.

Some good pieces about this:
Stalking is Never OK! Authors, Bloggers, Entitlement and Obsession
On the importance of pseudonymous activity

Thankfully, #HaleNo was the response from authors and book bloggers alike, saying that her behavior isn’t acceptable.

What are your thoughts?

His name is WHAT?!


As many of you know, I am kind of a walking Star Wars Encyclopedia. When I got into the Star Wars movies, I really got into the Star Wars universe. Memorized timelines, adjusted timelines when things just didn’t make sense… and for about a decade ran a Star Wars RPG (using West End’s d6 system) with my best friend in college. It was awesome.

Even he's perplexed.

Even he’s perplexed.

So when news surfaced that Emperor Palpatine was finally given a first name, I couldn’t wait to see what it was. C, the aforementioned college best friend, was annoyed when she shared the link- but I figured it would be something overly fussy.

Nope. According to Wookieepedia, who sources the name as being in the upcoming Tarkin novel, his name is…


Sheev Palpatine. Or Sheev Sidious if you’re nasty going with Dark Side monikers.

Seriously? I would have gone with something a little more Roman sounding.

So, as I said on C’s FB post about this, I’m going to paraphrase Nick Fury for my official response: It’s a stupid-ass name, and I’m going to ignore it.

What sort of name do you think that Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine should have had?

Satya Nadella : A Lesson in Privilege


Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO was at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Arizona, and asked by Maria Klawe (Harvey Mudd College President and Microsoft board member) what women should do if they feel uncomfortable asking for a raise.

And well, he suggested that they don’t ask for raises. But believe in the system. And that not asking is a superpower and good kharma. (If you click the above link it has his full answer, his initial tweet about the backlash, as well as an email he sent to Microsoft employees that actually was a better response than the tweet).

Klawe disagreed immediately, and pointed out that she felt she hadn’t negotiated her pay in some positions and felt underpaid compared to male counterparts. And then she offered some actual advice- about doing research about pay for your position, and find someone you trust and roleplay the scenario until you’re comfortable.

So why did Nadella get it so wrong? Privilege. While he did later acknowledge the gap in pay that men and women make, he lives in a world where he can indeed trust the system. He can put in his work and have faith that his work would be recognized and he would receive fair raises accordingly.

To him, his answer made perfect sense- because it’s what he knows. I’m not excusing it. On the contrary. I think it was a sexist comment, and irresponsible of him to speak at a conference for women when this question made it clear that he hasn’t listened to women discuss their perspective on the issues. It’s one thing to acknowledge that there’s a gap in pay, it’s another to have listened to women discuss being steamrolled or labeled as being “difficult” or “greedy” when they’ve tried to ask for raises.

Because there is an incredible double standard in how men and women are treated in the workforce. A man and a woman could react the same way, but the man’s assertiveness in a woman could be read as being domineering. A man’s to the point, where the woman’s bitchy. The man know’s what he wants, and the woman’s labeled as power hungry.

So if a woman asked for a raise, they could be labeled as not being a team player for pointing out that they’re carrying their department. Or conversely, if their concerns do come out, they could have their fears completely dismissed and then being labeled spineless. Those are all examples that I heard from friends, and yes, I was asked “if I had a spine or not” when I admitted I’d been nervous to point out that the work I was doing was worth more than what I was paid.

And those labels stick. Much like the “you look tired” comment that even the Doctor (in Doctor Who) used to destroy Harriet Jones’s career as Prime Minister. Even if the Doctor was right that her actions were wrong, the path he chose to destroy her was deeply rooted in our gender inequalities. A man in a leadership role (political or business) can be tired, and we won’t question his capability. But with a woman, we wonder if the role was simply too much for them.

That single question to Nadella proved how important it is that people with privilege understand what privilege is. Because if you have it? You start out being unaware of it. It isn’t until you listen to the people who do have societal labels that hold them back- race, gender, sexuality… that you can see what’s going on. And actually understand what you’re being asked.

So my advice? Listen. If you have any doubt that you’re not understanding the full extent of what’s being asked – ask for clarification. Listen and ask questions, two actions that we should all take to heart.

Your thoughts?

Midday Phone Calls from the School.


I don’t get a lot of calls here at the house. Lots of cold calls from companies looking for construction work, but those are easy enough to fend off. (It’s depressing when you realize that they’re trying to reach elderly people and mostly likely scam them out of money by overcharging them for work- since you wouldn’t reach a working adult during the day by calling their house) Now that we’re in the fall, lots of calls from campaigns.

But very few calls meant for me- and by that, I mean on my cell. This week, I was working (while on the phone with my mom, who has proven to be the one person I can talk to and focus on work simultaneously), when the screen lit up with a call from the Kidlets’ school.

And when you’re a parent, you know that’s never a good thing. Mentally steeling myself for the Little Kidlet having some sort of allergic reaction, I answered. “This is Whitney.”

“Mommy?” It was the Oldest Kidlet, his voice wavering.

“You okay, kiddo?”

“Mommy, you forgot to pack my lunch.”

I ran downstairs, his lunchbox wasn’t there. Looked in the car. It wasn’t there. I distinctly had the memory of jamming it into his backpack…. so I drove over to the school.

Where the Oldest Kidlet was sitting in the nurse’s office and had worked himself into a worried frenzy. So I asked him to walk me through it, and asked the first and most important question- why hadn’t he just bought lunch? (He has an account at the school, we keep it loaded so that he can do that if he wants/needs to)

He didn’t want to answer, and just wanted to find his lunch, so I got a visitor’s pass and went off to search for his lunchbox. We checked his brother’s backpack – nope. We looked in Oldest Kidlet’s backpack. Nyet. And right there, in front of his class, I saw his lunchbox hanging up on the hook right next to where his backpack was.

So I handed it over, sighed, and walked him back to the nurse’s office – he admitted that the only reason he hadn’t bought lunch was because he didn’t remember the PIN they have students enter. The nurse (whose daughter has been in every single class with OK since Kindergarten) just sighed and reminded him that the lunch ladies could look it up and write it down for him.

All in all, it wasn’t an emergency. At the time, I was mostly just annoyed that I’d had to stop working and drive over. But I did realize that I added about 300 steps just walking around the school grounds looking for the lunchbox- which is a good thing.

I can’t be the only parent who’s had to go to school because their child swore they didn’t have their lunch… what’s the weirdest thing you’ve had to go to school to take care of?