Saturday, September 30, 2006

BizBlogBoys - SacBee, you should know better?

I didn't go looking to do another post on why no women; really I was searching for recent business blogging articles to see what new is being said. Instead I found an article from today's Today's Sacramento Bee called Going to the Blogs, which does a cursory overview of business blogging--which misses the point of business blogging really, blogs aren't written by businesses (at least good ones); they're written by PEOPLE who happen to (maybe) work somewhere. In the business sense, blogging is most effective when it's the most meaningful, and it's most meaningful when human beings are connecting and building relationships (love.hate.lukewarm) as human beings first. Human connection = primary. Business relationship follows Human relationship.

Here's a nicely clueless quote from the author of Blogging for Business:

"More and more people are finding local businesses using the Internet," he said. "Blogs make your search engine popularity so high that you are suddenly ahead of your competition."

Sure. Let's boil it all down to SEO and call it a day.


Aside from the cursory treatment of the topic in this article, which bugged me to begin with, I couldn't help but be bugged secondarily by the absence of women in the article. I'm amazed that the author didn't trip over the women bloggers in Sacramento and surrounding areas, not to mention the opportunity to do a phone interview as was done with Tony Perkins).

It's annoying. There are references and/or quotes to and/or from 10 men in the short article. And even if you want to play "Use the best man for the job" argument,  well, READ the thing. The article could use some... um... help.

Ask Toby Bloomberg to comment on business blogs, or Marianne Richmond. Ask Shelley Powers about where blogging has come and gone--maybe even be adventurous enough to bring up the 'women thing'. Find out how blogging is part of a larger picture when it comes to creation and commerce (wecommerce). Please try a little harder before you write another fluff piece on an overdone topic featuring talking man heads . Because that is just so 2005.

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{posted first on BlogHer)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Torture Bill Haiku: Mad Kane Has Moved

Here's my haiku inspired by the disgraceful torture legislation:

Torture Bill Haiku

The Constitution
Was cast aside by Congress.
Hideous corpus!

Also, I want to let you know that I've moved my Notables political blog to Mad Kane's Political Madness.

Look Them In The Eye And Smile

I haven't posted here in ages...though I read the posting regularly. Bad, bad blog sister. But I've written something that I wish to share. Forgive me if I've overstepped.

For me, it started sometime in the mid 90s. A woman had been abducted from Parmatown Mall, raped and brutalized then murdered. Our local Karate studio.. the one right next door to my gym.. offered an all-day Saturday class for women of self-defense.

The biggest tip I learned: when you are walking anywhere, look each person you pass or see in the eye and smile. It's a way to remember their faces, and it can discourage a small-time thug from choosing you as a victim.

I've made this tip part of myself. When I am out and about, I look people in the eye and smile. Last year I wrote "The Culture of the Path":

There is a walking path in my town that runs the length of the street (about 2.5 miles). It is used daily.. and all day long.

BUT, most of the travelers practice a uniquely charming habit that has never been formalized. It's a variation on the standard practice of nodding when you pass someone on a p

The first time you approach a fellow traveler each person
1. makes eye contact, smiles, then
2. says "good morning/afternoon/evening".

and here's the really unique part:
because most of us walk part way up the path, then turn around and return to our cars, we often pass some of the same people a second time. and the common practice here changes:

1. make eye contact and smile again...
2. say "have a good day, now".

It's a very subtle way of acknowledging all around that "I see you, and though I've seen you and greeted you earlier today, I will likely not see you again today."

Simple. But a whole lot of sub-text exists in these phrases. And a lot of respect.

Now all but the dullest reader will see that travelling a path is an easy allegory for moving through life... How many different ways do we pass by each other?

In real life... driving on the freeways, standing in line at a store, sitting at nearby tables in the coffeeshop. Online, we might be reading blogs, making comments, reading the same mailing list. We interact in casual ways in all these situations.

All fraught with chances for misunderstandings... or ripe for finding commonality.

How can we as a SOCIETY develop habits/guidelines/methods of interaction that acknowledge each person in an inclusive way? How can we build a "community of the path" on every path in life?

Again, it demonstrated the importance to a society of looking each person in the eye and smiling.

These past three weeks I've spent time in a nursing home and time in assisted living. Many folks, to stave off boredom and loneliness, sit out in the hallways or in the lobby. Their affect is quite passive. So I again made it a point to look each one in the eye and smile as I passed them by. And like the culture of the path, I said "good morning/afternoon" to each.

Suddenly folks would sit up a little straighter; their was life in their eyes and looked once again like members of the human society. At the MILs hotel, they are beginning to recognize me; we have small interactions when I pass through.

So my suggestion for everyone along whatever path you find yourself travelling: make eye contact and smile.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

hanging in a jar

For I once saw with my own eyes the Cumean Sibyl hanging in a jar, and when the boys asked her, "Sibyl, what do you want?' " she answered, "I want to die."

I thought of this quote today because my 90 year old mother has been crying a lot lately, and when I ask her why, she says she wants to die. Like the mythic Sybil, she's in some kind of stasis -- neither really living nor finally dying. She spends most of her days walking around her rooms -- walking and moving objects and dropping used kleenex like breadcrumbs. While she walks, I sit, busying my hands with crocheting. I'd rather be reading, but I don't like being interrupted when I'm reading, and she interrupts frequently --

...where is my money? ...where is my brother? ...are you my mother? ...where are my glasses? ...where are the men? ...are you going dancing? it raining?..... ..what should we have for supper? (this last asked an hour after we had supper)

If I run over to my computer to check email or such, she is in her doorway, calling "Elaine....Elaine!" I'm stuck an audio clip from The Graduate.

Back to Sybil. Several years ago, I blogged a piece about Sybils and such that I still like and am reprising below. Interesting enough, while googling for additional information about Sybil, I happened upon a wonderful blog that I had never seen before. It is written by a woman who is indeed a kindred spirit. I will have to find the time and go back to read more of her posts, many of which echo my sentiments exactly.

Meanwhile, here's my old post about...

Cybill Sibyl Symbols

I am an old woman with a deck of cards

A witch, an Amazon, a Gorgon

A seer, a clairvoyant, a poet.

I have visions of becoming and

I dream in female
--(Barbara Starrett, 1974)

I adored the character that Cybill Shepherd played in her '90s sitcom. Raunchily relevant in menopausal splendor, she laughed a lot --mostly at herself -- loved largely, and dreamed in female. The Lady of Situations.

Sibyl is another gut-grabbing female, one I first encountered the first time I turned to the first page of T.S. Eliot's "Wastland." (I still have verses from that epic endlessly looping through my brain: Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyant/ has a bad cold nevertheless/ is known to be the wisest woman in Europe/ with a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, / is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor (those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!) / Here is Belladonna, the Lady of Rocks, / the lady of situations.)


For I once saw with my own eyes the Cumean Sibyl hanging in a jar, and when the boys asked her, 'Sibyl, what do you want?' she answered, 'I want to die."

The quote which prefaces T.S. Eliot's "Wasteland," "NAM Sibyllam quidem Cumis . . ." is taken from the Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter, a Roman of the first century B.C.E. The Sybil is a prophetic character who, when granted a wish by Apollo, asked to live for as many years as there are grains of sand in a handful. She forget to ask for eternel youth, however, and is confined to a bottle so as to prevent her body's disintegration..... The Sibyl, then, is a bit of a paradox: she strove to live eternally yet ended up in constant danger of decay and pain. Her quest for eternity was a failure that Eliot finds terribly important yet terribly dangerous. His goal is not to end up like the Sibyl, but to free her
. (quoted from a link that is no longer active)

Cybill and Sybil, symbols of women with strong voices -- strong with meaning, with intention, with visions of constant becoming -- with guts full of female dreams and hearts used to surviving great tides of sorrow. A lot like the many women bloggers I know and love.

peacock feather.jpg


The road I drive into town is edged with farmland. During first days of autumn, I pass so many signs of endings -- fields of corn stalks the color of caramel; acres emptied but for the baled rolls of hay; wayside strips of sunflowers, heads bowed low with their burdens of shedding seeds. I am, these days, envious of endings.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Taking Care and Care Taking and getting away

Ahh -- Elaine finally got away on vacation. I'm glad to hear it. I can feel the autumn air - and time passing - in her post:

Sunday was a deliciously fattening breakfast at the newly opened Cheescake Factory in Albany. It's amazing how much has changed since I moved a year ago. New mcmansions being built where the nursery was where I used to buy my plants; the strip mall where I would hunt for bargains at TJ Maxx, empty.

And we are changing, too, as each, in her own time, reaches retirement age. Four of us had careers with state government, so our pensions are better than most. The other two are worried that they will never be able to retire, since their work histories are different. One, for example, works for the post office. Her retirement pension will be only $7000 a year.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dealing Effectively with Energy Vampires

I already wrote a really long post on my own weblog on this subject, so I'll try to be brief here as an overview. If you find the idea useful and interesting you can learn more about how to apply it by reading the full post on my blog.

Basically the idea is that the only way energy vampires are a danger to you is if you decide that you need to stop them from taking your energy. If you want them to not get your energy, you have to either sheild yourself from them (which takes energy to do, so is still exhausting) or get away from them (which can be difficult in many situations and lead to a life of isolation for a really sensitive person, since most people are energy thieves at least part of the time).

Yet even for a super-empath like myself there are ways you can "feed the vampires" that actually will energize both you and them.

There are 4 key understandings necessary before this is possible: 1) you have to let go of the idea of a world of separate beings who are supposed to each get only what they have earned, be punished when they get something for nothing, and be rewarded when they somehow "earn" any joy they receive; 2) you have to also let go of the idea that the only energy available to you is that to be found within your own separate body and energy field; 3) you have to recognize that all energy is just energy. There isn't bad energy you need to be afraid of and good energy you can allow in. There's just energy; and 4) you must be willing to help people meet their needs even when they are utterly incompetent at knowing what their needs are or at pursuing them in mature, non-violent ways.

If all of this sounds like something you are willing to do... check out the full article at and also consider picking up a copy of The Ever-Transcending Spirit by Toru Sato, which introduced me to the idea of allowing the energy theft to take place, which I had never considered before. Most of the rest of these ideas you won't find in that book (no infinite source of energy, etc.), but there are a number of other really valuable ideas that are also in the book, plus the general idea of energy exchange and ways of lifting one another up is fleshed out much, much more thoroughly, and productively so.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Unbalanced Ratio

Lately, I've been following an interesting conversation over at ScienceBlogs. In The Pipeline Problem, Chad Orzel, a college physics professor, argues that the lack of women in the sciences is not his fault. Sure, there are sexist pigs in every field, but he implies that the problem lies primarily in the grade school years where girls are discouraged from going into the sciences by disinterested teachers and peer pressure. Suzanne Franks posts a rebuttal: one cannot pin all the blame on elementary and high schools. Even university professors must shoulder some of the responsibility--their lectures may be turning young women off or their faculty ratio may not be so great. More subtly, they may not even realize that they've only invited male speakers to a seminar or show only pictures of guys on their recruiting website.

Although Orzel is a bit naive in his views (how can he be really sure his colleagues are not doing any harassment?), both do bring up good points. Science on a university level can be intimidating even if all the male professors are Very Nice People. Being a minority is both alienating and lonely and many people, whoever they are, cannot handle that kind of isolation for very long. I went to a science-oriented university as an undergraduate--less than 30% of my graduating class was female. It was not due to the admissions process, which was fifty-fifty, but the critical point when prospective students visited campus that severely skewed the ratio.

Elementary, middle, and high school weren't better--although, I wouldn't say the problem was with male teachers as much as with female teachers with low expectations and an ill-hidden distaste for the sciences. Physics teacher? She didn't think we could do the math. Biology teacher? She didn't believe in evolution. Chemistry teacher? She blabbed about how great her sons were instead of teaching orbital theory. With all that negative stimuli during my formative years, one could wonder how I retained any shred of love for science at all. I'm pretty sure none of my female classmates from high school have. They all wanted to become lawyers or psychiatrists or political activists or artists.

(Cross-posted at Syaffolee.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Walking to Cure Crohn's and Colitis

My brother and his family are walking to raise money for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. As you may remember, I wrote that my nephew was diagnosed with Crohn's earlier this year. As you also know--if you know anyone with Crohn's--it is a difficult and painful disease. My nephew has been quite ill. There are medicines that help ease some of the symptoms, but as of yet, no cure. So they walk.

Their family goal is to raise $500. They are up to $120. I would appreciate your help in blowing past their goal.

CCFA Facts...

CCFA was founded in 1967:

Today Crohn’s and colitis affect more than a million Americans.

Approximately 30,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

Each year, more than 100,000 children suffer from inflammatory bowel disease.

Dollars raised will go toward:

Summer camps for children with IBD

Information and education for 1.4 million patients and their families

Support services and research programs

Nearly 81 cents of every dollar CCFA spends goes directly into research and educational programs.


I'm off to donate now.
Thank you.

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A wise and tremendous post by Tish, full of so much that rings so true that I am not sure what pieces to show you. Every daughter and mother should read this post:

There's more to it though. As I was reading Ed's response to my comment, I was reminded of my Mother. She often talked of me and my sister as Her Children. We were never really adults. And The Future was always about how she would be getting old, who would take care of her, what illness would take her over, how she was going to die and did not want to die alone. Our lives were, in some way, about her death.

I know all of this has had a very profound effect on us both. I see it in my niece and nephew and all their problems...and I see it in myself. There are few days that go by where my mother's pain does not come in to my consciousness--sometimes out of guilt that I am living my own life. Some of this is out of anger--anger that she couldn't be the kind of mother I wanted, anger at my grandmother for being so abusive towards a small helpless child who did not ask to be born, and anger at the secrets that wrapped us in crippling shrouds from which none of us could escape.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

What about advertising?

So far, Blog Sisters has not accepted ads, nor have we had a business model around advertising. Hell, we haven't had a business model around anything. This isn't even a business. And lord knows I'm no model. But I digress...

Those Google ads at the top? I don't know how to turn them off or I would. I went into Blogger and looked--everywhere I think--and there doesn't seem to be a way to dismantle them. I found a way to make them smaller. That's something.

For the record, I have not made enough from Google ads to make up for even the first year of hosting this site, where I paid BloggerPro and Blogspot the highest amount available for the most space and bandwidth--$120 if I remember correctly. That was in 2002. And I never even got a Blogger hoodie when Google bought Blogger. Again, I digress.

I pay for the domain each year, which forwards to this place. Now the hosting is free, so that's something. Not a hoodie, but something.

So what have I made? Since 2003, on this blog and allied, I've received one check from Google for about $100. That means we are averaging, $33 a year.

Let's hit the islands!! (Hee hee.)

I'm saying these things because the net isn't like it used to be. You might not trust me. Or you might. The rush to monetize sites is at an all-time high. I want to assure you, I haven't done that here. And I don't plan to do that here.

I want us to have a place with no strings attached, to say whatever, however, to whomever, within or without reason. To play and to scream. To clap and claw. To tidy and to vomit. To come and go without obligation. To stop by on your way to. 

This was one of the first places for women bloggers to come together and write.

If that's all we do, we've done so much.

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Maybe This

Maybe this community is the one where women have nothing to risk or to gain but voice.

Maybe that's the most powerful commodity there is.

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Blog Sister Helen Jane...

...has a load of gerunds, and the most beautiful Husky I've ever seen.

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Don't Swoop Your Ass in at the Last Minute and Minimize This Woman

Cross-Posted on Allied.


Melinda's post on the conference hubub of last week pisses me off.

To take writing like I've done over this last week on the topic of male-only and nearly-only conferences, and to dumb it down to my post about getting your ass on Skype, does me a disservice. And I've worked too hard and am too long in this field to be done a disservice without speaking up about it.

Just for the record, you might want to check out the following if you're here looking for that Skype post. These are Other Things I Wrote Before The Topic Showed Up On BlogHer:


The Biggest/Smallest Prick Award - wherein I call out by name the makers of some of the stupidest comments of the week.

Your Balls Are In Your Court - wherein I tell me who are my friends and colleagues, Fuck You, for endorsing a conference with (formerly--before we spoke up) 53 men and 1 woman.

Unfuck Stowe Boyd - wherein I tell how a real man might respond to a Fuck You from a woman.

Crunchnotes Comments - wherein I push back against the organizer of Yet Another Men-Only Conference with zero help from the ladies.

MORE LINKS inspired by this discussion over the last several days.:
  The Twelve (or so) Step Program for Conference Speakers and Organisers  

There's been a lot of talk the last few days about Office 2.0, a conference that brought gender inequality in technology to a new low. Fifty three speakers and one woman was the original unpleasant statistic, and a few people got very ...
posted by @ 5:00 PM

  What not to do when organising a conference  

I was reminded of Dr. Ellen Weber article on performance lately, when I read some news coming out of the office 2.0 conference. Remember you’ll get what you ask for, and no more. The article talks about if you don’t have a metric to ...
posted by mgilmartin @ 7:41 AM

  Listening to Shelley Powers about women in tech  

all noise all the time: vive la difference"—vive la différence ars longa, vita herring Recent posts by Tara, Shelley, Jeneane, Denise, and Madame Levy -- though all are not talking about "the same thing" (whatever that is) -- make it ...
posted by @ 2:01 AM

  vive la difference  

vive la différence ars longa, vita herring. Recent posts by Tara, Shelley, Jeneane, Denise, and Madame Levy -- though all are not talking about "the same thing" (whatever that is) -- make it painfully clear that there is still a ...
posted by clocke @ 12:01 AM

  Technology Changes How We Do Things  

Not. What. We. Do. Wanna better world? Be better people. Paying attention yet? Of course you're not. That's okay. We've got the rest of eternity. Hey, that's why it's called Groundhog Day.
posted by @ 7:37 PM

  88 Lines About 44 Bloggers  

It's a slow weekend in the blogosphere, so I thought I'd do another mock opera. With apologies to the Nails, here we go. You'll need to listen to the song while you read (it will stream from my blog, if not via the feed). ...
posted by @ 7:18 PM

  The Babes of VoIP  

by Phil Wolff. Ken Camp makes a call to Women in VoIP to gripe about the few females at internet telephony conferences like those run by Jeff Pulver and Rich Tehrani and Tim O'Reilly. In the last episode, the Office 2.0 conference had ...
posted by (Phil Wolff) @ 5:35 PM


In the midst of the brouhaha over it the gender-exclusive politics over at the Office 2.0 conference, it occurred to me that I will be speaking at a conference this coming week, too. I hadn’t given the matter much thought before, ...
posted by AKMA @ 8:42 AM

  Why it is important to speak up  

This week, there was a big hullabaloo over the upcoming Office 2.0 Conference. The short story: the conference was dominantly male speakers, only one woman. The organizers were initially unclear as to a) why this was a problem and b) ...
posted by Susan Getgood @ 11:17 PM

  Where Are The Women: A Marketing Problem with a Marketing Solution


And for the record, Part Deux, I don't consider myself a "feminist," because I have known too many self-identified feminists to inflict harm on women as they wage war against the forces they seek to undo in the name of women. I don't know what kind of "ist" I am -- I think I don't need a label -- but understand that I won't be quiet for a man; I won't be quiet for a women; I won't be quiet for anyone.

Thank you for stopping by.

SKYPE: jeneanesessum (no "s").

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Bigger Than Life

I don't watch "reality" shows because I have enough real life around me every day, thank you. I don't watch the "American Idol" or "Rock Star" type shows either because they're all just so much hype, and that's why I am late discovering this generation's cross between Janice Joplin and Tina Turner.

Her name (it really is her birth name) is Storm Large, and she's got an angel's face atop a 6 foot Amazon's body and a voice than ranges from raunchy rap to melodic musings, but I like her rap stuff best of all -- she's better than any of the big guys out there.

I guess she got eliminated on the Rock Star Supernova show. But she's still playing out in Portland, Oregon, where they just love her.

Don't miss her in-your-face performance of her own original song, Ladylike. Watch it here.

Her own website is down because it's been innundated with traffic and the webserver she's on couldn't handle it.

I don't know her, never met her. She's a generation behind me, but I think she's way ahead of any other female in today's music world.

I used to fantisize about becoming an "old lady rapper." This is my "old lady rap:"

Old Lady Rap-Back

you don't see me
not really with
my angles softened
my curves
gone to middle thick

I see that your gaze
doesn't stick
on my face
lined with time's tricks

I know you got it
rough never enough
you think that's new?

I grew this tough skin
long before you
rode through streets and sin

and as for fuckin'?
I was mouthing it
long before your sorry ass
passed its first gas

I know the words but
I make a choice
of voice
that says more
than you
you know

Obviously, no competition for Storm Strong.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

TheGoodBlogs and Blog Sisters

You may notice that some of your posts are being featured on TheGoodBlogs site. They asked if the could help us raise the visibility of the women writers who belong to this community and I said, "Hell yeah!" Or it sort of went like that.

Check out the sidebar widget--it lists posts from many of the active members of Blog Sisters who are writing their hearts out here and on their own blogs. With TheGoodBlogs, you can promote writing from community members as individuals across blogs. What you see on MY thegoodblogs widget are the most recent posts from our active member blog sisters from their own blogs--how cool is that? Goes WAY beyond technorati faves. TheGoodBlogs lets me tell you which blog sisters are writing new posts on their home blogs.

I've put the blog sisters widget on my blog, and Elaine has put it on her blog, and other sisters are asking, can I get a TGB widget? And I am saying, YES! Just email me at jeneane DOT sessum AT gmail DOT com.
Let's get this old hangout humming again. It was about voice then and it still is. you, us, voice. okay?

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Political Haiku, etc.

Wow, I haven't posted here in a long time! Well it's time to catch up a bit. Since my last visit here, I've posted a variety of political song parodies, limericks, and haiku at my Notables political humor blog. In fact, just today I posted 3 political haiku. You can find my Ode to ABC here and my The Rumsfeld Trap here.

Also, I've recently launched a second blog, devoted to my non-political humor. I hope you'll check it out.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

looking back and forth

I was one of the first Blogsisters that Jeneane recruited, and there was a time I posted here frequently. That was when I had time to read and ruminate and write. That was before I became the caregiver for my 90-year-old increasingly demented mother.

If you're like me, you don't like to think about being 90 and alone and afraid and at sea in a world totally out of your control. I watch my mother become a child again, and I wonder if I will follow in her physical and mental footsteps. I wonder if my daughter will take care of me when I'm a child again.

It's not fun to think about those things. I can only hope that, since I take better care of myself than my mother ever knew she should, the path I go down to old age will be less frightening.

So, my sisters, I remind you to take your vitamins and your calcium and prescriptions for keeping your bones strong. Dance, and do puzzles, and read, and court those joyous moments. My mother didn't do any of that, and so at 90, she has so very little worthwhile life left in her.

I hope that at 90, I will still be posting here at Blogsisters, looking for inspiration, conversation, and even some healthy confrontation. It can't hurt.

What to do with teenagers when roller skating gets old? SkyZone!

As the mother of a teenage daughter, figuring out activities that give ME a break, are nearby, don't involve computers and cell phones...