Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Because I can't leave well enough alone...

Right so Stephann Herman, a long time Ubuntu contributor, who I have corresponded with a lot, and have met in person too (when I was working with Ubuntu) posted this on the Ubuntu Planet blog:
Ubuntu is going to be sexy
Oh yeah, after a long long time, I can see, that Ubuntu will be not only usable, but it's going to be the sexiest Linux ever ,)

Yeah, please "spam" my comments, and yeah, I like to be the worst case of not being political correct, but I like to see more women posting to planet.ubuntu,com.

To see the first time Sarah on this planet, I was proud to see this very "sexy lady" from Australia.

Come one, Linuxchix, please do more for the linux community, and get ready for this planet...

I'm proud to be one member of this community.

Thx Miriam and Sarah to be here, and let's rock .....

After seeing that Sarah Hobbs is now contributing to the Ubuntu Planet.

Note that Stephan is German, so his use of English is not particularly subtle... but none-the-less he is a sweet and well meaning man.

Was Stephan being rude or offensive or sexist? I don't think so. Linux is OFTEN described as 'sexy' both within the development team and the community at large, no one has taken offence to that before.

This is Stephan Hermann.
This is Sarah Hobbs.
(Note that she doesn't seem to mind that 2 males are trying to pick her up and evidently fairly forcibly take her out to throw her in the pool - that's not intimidation, discrimination or offensive in any way. It's just fun, see!)

Now Sarah didn't seem to be particularly offended by Stephan's post, and responded with this:

Now, i’m not annoyed at being called a sexy lady - if it’s sincere, then it’s a compliment, and I’ll accept it as such…

…But I really wouldn’t want that to be the only thing that people thought of when they looked at me, or what I do - surely I’m more than just my body? I have a brain too, you know…

I don't think Stephan was calling Sarah's mental acumen into question, he was merely expressing excitement and approval that more females were getting involved with Ubuntu. Something women themselves have been pushing for, so I can't see why this is a problem.

Stephan later posted another unrelated post:

Let me present to you: iGasm
Yeah, if you have an iPod and iGasm, plug this tool into your iPod, and have fun. Are you listening to Bass'n'Drum? Or Rock'n'Roll? Have fun with it. More bass, more fun.

So, what has Apple to do with?
Well, our friends from GB are very well known for their british black humor. Ann Summers advertised their toy with a poster,
which is very near the original iPod poster.
In steps Melissa Draper, who seems to be the self appointed morality and woman's (and now children's) rights police for Ubuntu.

This is Melissa:
(This is not a great photo, but all I could find, and in all seriousness if anyone has a nicer one please let me know and I'll replace this.)

Melissa decided Stephan is being offensive to women and children and wholly inappropriate.

The debate has raged on all over the place... (Google it or follow the threads in the links I have posted, you are actually interested) ...I stumbled on it yesterday and read all about it and then finally responded with this ...

Gah this is exactly why I am anti women’s movements. What a storm in a tea cup!

I do not endorse or participate in any women-specific groups because I believe in individual merits and people being able to fit in according to their abilities, interests and attributes.

I don’t need or want special treatment as a women and I certainly would never expect a community (male dominated or otherwise) to CHANGE because I wanted to join it.

I have never had any gender discrimination ,or harassment issues, largely because I don’t allow it to happen or bother me. I am me and I achieve accordingly for myself. Not despite or because I am female.

And for the record I am on Shephan’s side on this one, his posts were in no way offensive, neither the one welcoming Sarah (unsubtle and a bit over enthusiastic maybe) nor the iGASM one (please it is at most a bit risque…).

And frankly if someone is going to be stoned to death for that showing up on her screen, perhaps you should focus your energy on addressing that problem.

And if you are uncomfortable with your own sexuality, why not address that?

The rest of us are educated adults, and don’t need you to be a nanny for us.

This is also the reason I always declined being listed on planet.


Melissa responded to me:


Storms in teacups are how change comes about. Think of the most influential changes in the world. How many of those involved 0 conflict?

I too agree that one should be judged on their merits. I also happen to believe that everyone should feel comfortable enough to learn and allowed to fit in so as to exhibit these merits. Harassment robs many people of this, and turning a blind eye to the situation is no form of justice.

As a woman, I do not want special treatment either. I especially do not want that special treatment that asks me to show photos of the private parts of my body, or that which leaves me with with unanswered support questions because instead of having my question answered, I receive special treatment in the form of ridicule and belittlement.

If you really have not *ever* had *any* gender discrimination or harassment issues then you have lived a truly blessed life. I have missed out on jobs, and been told explicitly it was because I was female and hence for this reason alone incapable of the task — with absolutely no chance to prove myself. This is discrimination. I have been harassed both online and in real life because I am female. Yet, my experiences are tame compared to many I have heard. These things do not happen because one chooses to be affected by them.

And for the record, if my first contact with the Ubuntu community had been to see a picture of an sex toy on, I would have assumed I had come to the wrong place and not have gone any further, as I came for linux and free software, *not* for discussion of adult novelties. I would go elsewhere for that — all the squatted sites with adult advertisements for instance. It has absolutely nothing to do with my sexuality and that was highly indecent of you to suggest so.

“The rest of us” also includes those under 16/18/21 or whatever is the legal age of consent in the many many countries throughout the world. It also include those of primary/grade school ages. “The rest of us” are not all adults. Think of the children, please.

So sorry Melissa, if you think I was highly indecent to suggest you may have an issue with your own sexuality. But from my POV it certainly is coming across that way, as you have managed to turn 2 fairly innocuous posts into not only a morality war, but also a women and children's rights debate.

As a parent, I think I do think of the children and think I am in a position to judge what is offensive and or damaging to them (for my own children at any rate). Any education, including sexual education, isn't damaging. Pretending things don't exist, lying, and misinformation is.

I agree that this debate has caused more tension in the community and more likelihood of new comers turning away, because they don't like what they see, than if it was just left to be.

I also can't help but wonder if Melissa is not put out that she wasn't welcomed into the community with the same gusto. Sour grapes perhaps?

Who is right, who is wrong, and does it even MATTER!?

You be the judge....

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Scariest thing ever - I nearly got run off the road

I haven't yet mentioned this, in fact on some levels I think I have been suppressing the memory of this experience because it is one of the scariest things that has EVER happened to me, plus I was so tired at the time, my brain wasn't really functioning anyway...

On Sunday morning after helping my friend as a doula during the birth of her baby, and after seeing 3 babies born in 24 hours and with 1 hour of sleep...

I left my friend at the hospital and was driving home at 8:30am, in the pouring rain and wreckage that was left after the storm of Saturday night. The idea was to go home and straight to bed.

Another friend sms'ed wishing us all luck for the birth. She is closer to the new mom than I am - I only know the mom through this friend. So I called her to tell her the news, and we agreed that I'd pop in for a coffee and chat on the way home, as I wanted to talk about it and wasn't quite ready for sleep.

We had coffee etc and at 10am I start driving home. Now more tired because the adrenaline rush had subsided... I was driving carefully because the weather was still bad and there were huge puddles everywhere.

I pull onto the M5 on ramp and a big Pick 'n Pay truck was in the way and inching along. I check the other lane and there are cars crawling though a major puddle to get into that lane, so I indicated and changed lanes and start trying to pick up speed to over take the truck. With that a shiney black BMW with tinted windows and rims and all the trimmings (real ganster mobile) flies through the puddle and past everyone and storms up behind me and hoots and flashes brights at me and basically runs into the back of me.

I was thinking 'wtf dude? Relax.' I generally avoid conflict and was happy to get past the truck and move out of his way, but I had to pass the truck first. But this guy did not let up, and clearly he thinks he owns the road and has sole right to use it... Then I did an admittedly silly and out of character thing. I gave him the finger. Cos now I was thinking 'F-you, you don't own the road, piss off. '

So I pass the truck, move over and pull into the slow lane. End of story....


This F-ing prick storms past me and pulls in front of me and brakes. HARD. I'm thinking, 'ok whatever, get it out of your system, so I slowed down accordingly.' Thinking he;s a bit crazy because this was not the weather to mess around in. Then he decided he wasn't done yet and braked HARD again and didn't stop. I had to slam on brakes - with slight skidding and he STOPPED right in front of me.

My first though was that we were going to be hit - we were stopped on the M5 at 10am in the pouring rain... than I was thinking OMG this guy is going to get out and kill me! Beat me up or shoot me or something.

I was quite panicked but I checked that fast lane and it was clear so I quickly pulled of and changed lanes and went... I pulled back into the slow lane and was so shaken I just drove.

This guy storms off after me, and drives right next to me, almost touching my car. I really thought I was going to die. I didn't dare look at him (but I know he had a passenger). I was convinced he was going to ram into me, and I wondering how I was going to control the car in the rain and was very worried that someone else was going to hit us.

Then he pulled sharply infront of me again, nearly colliding with me and braked hard again and started stopping again... (I am actually starting to shake again just remebering this).

At this point I was in flight or flight mode and was considering driving off the road to get away. I started dialling 10111 in some kind of attempt to save my life.

All in all I over took him to get away twice and he braked in front of me 3 times.

I don't know what the other people around us were thinking - gang war???
No one hooted or helped, but honestly if I saw that I would have stayed as far away as possible.

I don't know if he was drunk or what but he was extremely aggressive and dangerous.

After the third time he zoomed off at about 180km/h and took the next off ramp.

I got through to 10111 and explained what was going on, the operator was quite nice and it helped to be able to tell someone what was going on, but there was nothing she could do. I just told her I was being run off the road and was desperately trying to stay alive, but this guy was hell bent on endangering all of us.

I wanted to get his car registration, but there was no way I was going near him again, so I carried on home.

Bloody hell, that is like the first and last time I give someone the finger in traffic. OMG!

I don't think I have ever been so scared, and had the idiot known how tired I was, and that the chances of me not being able to react fast were quite high, he might have been more careful! Thank god for adrenaline!

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Make that 3 babies in 24 hours.

Holy cow, there is a baby boom on in Cape Town this week-end.

After last night's post I jokingly sms'ed a friend (who I was going to be doulaing for) and who was 39.5 weeks pregnant and who has been waiting for her baby to come saying, 'Hey do you want to have your baby tonight? I have already been at 2 births today, let's make it 3... Smile'

She replied saying funny I should mention it, but she thought she was having contractions...!

We were babysitting for friends and they were also sleeping over after their outing, and so we had a busy evening. Plus one of the kids woke up vomiting at 10pm. So even though I was exhausted after the day at the hospital I was kept wide awake due to circumstances...

At 11pm I was about to go to bed when I got an sms from the friend saying she was having regular contractions, and thought it was really happening. I advised her to rest and/or sleep as long as possible. Knowing I needed at least a bit of rest... but I was still wide awake.

At 12am the friends came back and parked me in. I asked them to leave their car keys out so I could move their car if I had to....

I went to sleep at about 12:15 I guess. At 1:30am I got called by her DH to go to the hospital. I got dressed, made a flask of coffee, moved the car around and set off at 01:50. It was a long drive in the pouring rain and flooded roads all the way to Fish Hoek.

My friend needed a lot of support, and had a very intense labour, but she laboured really well stayed up and active the whole time. She gave birth at 7:35 this morning to a baby girl!

I think I know how dads feel now, when you leave exhausted, but with so much energy!

I am home now.

Wow 3 babies in 24 hours!

It was awesome being there. I am blessed.
I just got home and my boys were watching a DVD, they said, 'Hey, where were you?' and when I told them K's baby was born they just BEAMED. Awwww! Wink Wink Wink

Saturday, 19 May 2007

What a day! I saw 2 babies being born...

Today was the first time I got to attend our local government Maternity Hospital as a volunteer doula - I had tried before but didn't have all the relevant authorisation to get through the red tape and was turned away.

Well today was like a mad house there. Wow. They are seriously B.U.S.Y there! Shocked I wonder if the great Cape Town storm has anything to do with that - for some reason babies chose to come at times like these...

Anyway there are something like 7000 babies delivered a year there and if you do the maths that's over 550 per month and nearly 20 PER DAY! Shocked Shocked

Well today there were ladies in full-on labour in the waiting room, the admissions ward was full and the labour ward was over flowing - to the point that when a women had birthed she had to move to a chair to sit and wait until a bed became available in the recovery wards. Crazy I tell you! Honestly I am not sure how the staff cope. It was really hard to leave when there were still so many women needing help...

I assisted 3 women through their labours, and was with 2 of them for the birth of their babies. (I suspect the third had a Caesarean, as she was tiny with really narrow hips and was already trying to push at only 5cm dilated... I left before she delivered though).

Wow, it was an awesome experience, but also very draining, as all three were in full active and intensive labour and at the point needing the most support.

It is heartbreaking that these ladies who need to MOST support, have the least. They have little or no resources and education and family support (all 3 were alone there, and so was almost everyone else I saw, only the odd few had a partner), many didn't really know what is happening in labour and birth and are at the complete mercy of the system. They also think the nurses, are going to come and do it for them, and I found I had to explain to them that it was them and the baby who was doing all the work, the nurse would come as the baby was being born.

Interestingly all the babies I saw today were delivered by nurse/midwives and the doctors seem to stay in the theaters and only do the Caesarean cases.

It was awesome to be with 2 women and watch them go from tearful writhing groaning mases on the bed, to strong able women as they listened to their bodies and birthed their babies in the world. They now have no doubt that THEY did it.

What an amazing thing to be a part of!

And the last lady made it all that much more worthwhile by saying, 'Ohhh susie, you helped me So much!'. When all I had really done is hold her hand, rub her arm and tell her she was doing great.

This was full on, graphic, no holds barred, no niceties stuff. VERY different to the private hospital experience. But I know I'll be back for more...

My kids are the SWEETEST!

When I got back from holiday the boys were upset, saying they got me nothing for my birthday (which was while we were away) because their nanny didn't take them to the shop to buy something. ..

I told them they didn't need to buy me anything and just a hug or picture was the best present I could get.

Then o
n Thursday night after dinner Griffin said he needed to go play in his room... he came back 5 minutes later and presented me with his little rag doll, saying 'happy birthday'.

Then Quinn decided he really needed a wee and dashed off... he came back with his little Koala, which I bought for him in Sydney. On closer inspection it is holding a R100 note! It's the R100 he got for Christmas from his granny and which he has been saving and keeping safe ever since.

OMG how sweet! *sniff*

I told him I was keeping it for that night because it's the best present I ever got, but I would give it back to him in the morning because he should keep it.

I love my boys, they are so special and thoughtful.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Jake Camara

Quinn has a hat with a picture of Che Guevara on it. (To prove it Griffin just saw this picture and said "That's the man on Quinn's hat")

Incidentally this is "the most famous photograph in the world and a symbol of the 20th century."

Anyway our friend also has a huge poster of Che in her kitchen. Quinn saw this today and said, 'Hey that's the man who is on my hat.... Jake Camara'

Not bad recall, since the name was first and last mentioned to him about 4 months ago when he got the hat, and he has never seen it written down. It actually sounds pretty right if you had just heard it. I was impressed!

He just came and saw the picture now and said, 'He was like Robin Hood, he stole from the rich to give to the poor'. Not sure where he got that from...

Baby Update - 6 weeks old

Here's an update on my friend's prem baby, as I wrote about here and here:

Great news. Baby M is home!

He was sent home on Thursday. He weighs 1.6kgs now and is doing really well. He is even able to breastfeed. YAY!

He'll be 6 weeks old tomorrow - but is still a whole 5 weeks from his original due date. Yikes.

I went to see him this afternoon, and so far they are doing great. In fact far better than I dared to hope. I am really thrilled for them!

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Bon Jour/ Ola/ Hello

Bon Jour/Ola/Hello, I am back from my European gallivanting!

I had a fab time in Paris and Seville(Sevilla officially in Spanish). It is good to be back though and great to see the boys again.
Jane near the Eiffel Tower

It was truly WONDERFUL to see all the Ubuntu folks (freaks?) again, as well as some new faces. I would list them but I know I'll forget someone crucial so really it was great to see EVERYONE, and especially to bump into random Ubuntu people in the streets of Seville. Will Seville ever be the same again?

Here's a sample of the gang. (Enough IQ to power a small country...)
It is still the best group of people ever, and more intellectual (and comedic) stimulation than you'll ever get. Ubunteros rock ;) I really really miss working with Ubuntu and Edubuntu - I was having dreams (literally dreaming while I was sleeping as well as day-light fantasies) of being asked to rejoin the team. It would be so awesome if that ever happened...sigh.

Anyway Richard is doing a great job with Edubuntu (of course Oliver continues to pour his heart and soul into the development) and it really seems to be taking off now. YAY. The first UES (Ubuntu Education Summit) preceded the regular UDS (developer) and was well received.

Still I got to sit in on some of the sessions and got to play with both an Intel Classmate PC and an OLPC. Both were cool to play with, and the jury is out as to which will do better. I personally liked the Classmate more - it is more like a 'real' PC and is more intuitive. Quinn saw a picture of the OLPC though and really reacted to it. So we'll have to get him to test both and then see...

Here's some proof:
- Martijn's pic of me with OLPC -

- Phillip's pic of me with the Classmate PC -
Er, no now I can't find it, so here's one proving I was there instead...
Note the wearing of an obligitary 'cool' geeky t-shirt ;P

Ok geek raving over...

The photos I took are on my flickr account: here.

There are more photos of Seville, UES and UDS etc below:
- Pics from Jonathan Carter here.
- David Trask's Pics are here.
- Martijn's Pics are here.
- Jono Bacon's Pics are here.
-Juan (JuanJe)'s pics are here.

Right so after that digression we are back to the holiday...
It's taking me a while to get to writing about it...

Think R60 for a coffee & R150 for a pizza in Paris. And R35 for my Chocolate Crepe from a pavement stall. And similar prices in Seville but slightly cheaper... Beer is cheaper than coke and so 'when in Rome' and all that, we drank lots of beer like the locals do.

We ended up eating ham, and cheese on rolls from grocery shops mostly and after 5 days I finally HAD to have some fruit and spent something like R30+ on ONE orange and a small yoghurt.

We spent 2 nights in Paris - in a very budget (15Euros each per night! including breakfast - a baguette roll with butter & jam and coffee) Youth Hostel. It was dingy but really fun though. We walked all over Paris, from Notre Dame winding our way past Parliamentary Buildings and the Sorbonne and on the the Eiffel Tower and then on to The Arc De Triomphe, down the Champs Elysees and on towards the Louvre. That night we walked along the Seine at Sunset and then all around (and in) Sacre Coeur Cathedral too. It is really beautiful.
Walking on a bridge over the Seine at Sunset.

We also found some performance artists in the streets, a lovely week-end organic market and a piazza (what's that called in France?) complete with fountain and people dancing to French accordion music. It felt really authentically Parisian.

Then we went to Seville, which is a really beautiful picturesque and old styled town. The people are dressed really stylish there (colourful patent leather stilettos are IN people - though how they walk with them on cobbled streets I'll never know!?). The babies and toddlers are strangely dressed like children from bygone times... weird. Like suits and long socks and buckled shoes. It was like being in the 20s, 40s or 60s or something...

We stayed for 2 nights in a local hotel right near the centre of town (+- 70 Euros per night) - no coffee or breakfast or anything. It was ok, but the old grumpy totally non-English speaking guy at the front desk started off amusing and then got just plain annoying. Silly man. He refused to get a taxi for us when we left and made us run in the rain with all our luggage.

We then moved on to the official conference hotel - which luckily we were not paying for at something like 500 Euros per night! YIKES! That of course had a full spread for breakfast.
Al Andalus Hotel Sevilla

So I am back now all travelled out and having totally over indulged in food and drink, but I think it was worth it... back to gym some time or other...

There are some great pictures of Seville and specifically the Real Alcazar (Royal Alcazar Castle) here and here.