Thursday, January 23, 2014

Women in Technology Part 1 of 4

Okay, fellow readers, nicely folded into the usual baking, library thoughts, and travel news, there will be some tech-based entries for a few months for my IT class. Since it has been a few years that I had done my yearly "women doing awesome stuff" post - my topic for these tech posts are "Women in Technology - Doing Awesome Stuff".

I cannot even begin to write anything about technology unless I begin with the woman who taught computers to understand words.

December in 2013, was the 107th birthday of the first female computer programmer, Rear Admiral Grace MurrayHopper, USNR, (1906-1992).

Hold on! If you dare to call yourself a "super awesome computer geek" and do not know who she is, stop and take a moment to slap yourself (really hard). Feel the burn? Continue reading.

Grace Hopper graduated with her degree in mathematics at Vassr College (and taught there from 1931-1943) and then got her PhD at Yale University in 1934. That same year she joined the Navy Reserve. Immediately she was assigned to work on the embryonic electronic computer (means that they can think for themselves). She worked her way up the ranks and finally became Rear Admiral in 1985. Top this day, she is the oldest woman in the armed forces at the age of 76. After she retired in 1986, she stayed teaching about computers, programming and concepts related to time (such as nanoseconds [see below for video]) until her death in 1992. 

Her only regret was not being able to see the 21st century. She wanted to celebrate December 31, 1999, and look back at how far computers had developed, thanks to her knowledge, skill, and dedication.

She loved numbers and puzzles, and coined the term “bug in the computer”, because when she was working at Harvard in 1945 on an experimental machine called the Mark I, something malfunctioned. Opening it up, she found an actual bug in the computer.

She changed the world of early computers by creating COBOL (Common Business Orientated Language), which means that the computers can respond to commands typed in words rather than a number sequence. She worked on Mark II and Mark III and designed and created another computer called UNIVAC I (still in use). 

USS Hopper (DDG-70)

USS Hooper (DDG-70), a Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, is named after her. 

I so want a battleship named after me!

When she retired in 1986, she said this, “Our young people are the future. We must provide for them. We must give them the positive leadership they're looking for.” 

That day, she was given the highest award possible by the Department of Defense - the Defense Distinguished Service Medal - one of many awards she received from both the Navy and computing industry.

Today, there is a foundation named after her to celebrate women in the computing field and the same organization pairing up with the Anita Borg Institute to host a convention bringing women, who are far and few, in the computing field, together, to be empowered, share ideas, and network. 

Grace Hopper explaining nanoseconds.

A huge thank you to the many men and women who serve in our armed forces! Naval History and Heritage, website where I got most of Grace hopper's information from, also has a great feature up for February about African Americans in the Navy. Wonderful website, worth checking out! 

Props: For my instructor, citations are below.

Alter, Charlotte. (2013). GoogleDoodle Honors Grace Hopper, Early Computer Scientist: Kicks off Computer Science Education Week with Tribute to Woman Who Taught Computers to Use Words. Time News Feed. Retrieved from

Anita Borg Institute. (2014) Grace Hopper: Celebrating Women in Technology. Retrieved from

Dickason, Elizabeth. (1992). Looking Back: Grace Murray Hopper's Younger Years. Biographies in Naval History: Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, USN, 9 December 1906 - 1 January 1992. Retrieved from
Dickason, Elizabeth. (1992). Remembering Grace Murray Hopper: A Legend in Her Own Time. Biographies in Naval History: Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, USN, 9 December 1906 - 1 January 1992. Retrieved from

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Favorite Reads from 2013

I made this list for my sister, who wanted to know what I enjoyed last year since she wanted a few ideas. I asked her what she liked and she gave the vague answer of "anything". Be careful when you say "anything", you'd be surprised at what you get.

Honestly I was surprised that I read enough to put together a Top 13. There were others, but they didn't make the list for numerous reasons. 

Now note that some of these books came out in 2012, but we did not get them in the library until 2013. Also some were recommendation from friends, so they might be older. But there is nothing wrong with discovering a book that had been poorly misrepresented/promoted, or just fell under the radar - a lot of delightful finds never make it to the NY best Sellers because that list is manned by people who play slight of hand. Sad. 

From (in my opinion) great to awesome: I did mention the sensitive context for the squeamish people.
13. Quiet: Power of Introverts in World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. (01/2013) Non Fiction book about the surprising role of introverts in home, business, pleasure and parenthood. As an introvert, I enjoyed it. 
12. The Drake Sisters Series by Christine Feehan. (In order: Magic in the Wind, Oceans of Fire, Dangerous Tides, Safe Harbor, Turbulent Seas, Hidden Currents) (2005-2010) Paranormal Romance. If you don't read Feehan's work, she is violent. I love her because she is not afraid to talk about bloodshed on page one. These sisters are witches, and each book, each of them gets a man (what romance is about). The stories are unique, each couple different, BUT there is kidnapping, rape, trafficking, drugs, forced slavery, etc. Not by the men to the sisters, but by the "villains" to the sisters. Her sex is rather pornographic.
11. The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag by Chol-hwan Kang. (08/2005) Non Fiction. A great account of Kang's unimaginable suffering in the camps and how he is unable to adjust to life after he finished served his time. The ending felt a bit rushed, like he was holding back, but worth the read. This whole book is about torture.
10. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. (04/2013) Historical Fiction. This book has made numerous reading lists across America about a little known fact about the American West, there were orphan trains and bridal trains. This book is about a surly foster girl who chooses to do community service hours at a home of an old woman. While in her attic, she stumbles across a past, and helps the woman find something she lost in her life, her child. It's a touching book. Ending was lacking, but you're satisfied. There is child labor and child molestation in this book, but not in super detail.

 9. People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry. (05/2012) True Crime Non Fiction. It is based on the true events about the disappearance of Lucie Blackman, a girl from the UK who goes to Japan and works in those restaurants where girls sit and chitty-chat and pretend to be a "girlfriend" without the sex. Parry goes to Japan to cover this story and it is so engaging because not only it involves Japan and their strict customs, but Blackman's psychotic family as they storm to Japan and try to figure out something. The killer is a grade A psychopath that makes Ted Bundy look like a pansy.
 8. Safe Haven by Nicholous Sparks. (12/2012) Contemporary Romance. If you want a safe romance (no in-depth sex scenes) with a thriller twist, here it is. I don't normally read his books because they are just so, boring. But this one was different. After killing her husband in self defense, she runs away to Safe Haven to start over. She meets a single dad who owns the local bait and tackle shop. Life is good and she's settling in when suddenly a stalker comes what seems like out of nowhere to track her down. Who is this guy? Someone you'll never expect. There are two great surprising twists in this story.
7. The Origami Yoda Series by Tom Angleberger (The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, Darth Paper Strikes Back, The Secret of the Fortune Wookie, Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet, Princess Lablemaker to the Rescue). (2010 - 2014) Middle grade children's chapter book. Want a super nerdy fun read? This is it! A bunch of loser guys at this school comes together and with the power of origami Yoda, they win (not really) the day. Too funny!

6. Below Stairs by Margaret Powell. (12/2012) Biography. The true accounts of the maid who inspired Upstairs Downstairs and Downton Abbey. Wonderful little biography. She was a fascinating woman herself. I did a blog review last year after I read it. 
5. An Angel for Christmas by Heather Graham. (10/2012) Paranormal Romance. Nothing gets Christmas started best like when a dysfunctional family finds a bleeding cop facedown in the snow in their driveway. Who is this guy? Is he really a cop? but here's a crazy murderer causing havoc. She falls in love with the cop, but is he real or a ghost tangled in an ancient war between good and evil? This book is very rated G. The only "oh!" moment is the mention of a shower and she's wearing a towel in the hallway. Oh my!

4.The Aisling Grey Guardian Series by Katie MacAlister (You Slay Me, Fire Me Up, Light My Fire, Holy Smokes). (2004 - 2007) Paranormal Romance. This will make you spit milk from your nose because it is so damn funny. Aisling finds out the hard way that she is a mate to a dragon, not just any dragon, but the king of thieves, who loves shineys...much more than her. Throw in a cast of weirdo paranormal misfits, a demon reject as her sidekick, and a creepy taxi driver who shows up in every country she goes to, you have a wacky adventure. I could not stop reading it, it was so funny. Sex scenes are not pornographic, but there's biting.

3. Tiger Lily by Jodi Anderson. (07/2013) YA fiction. Ever wondered about Tiger Lily from the Peter Pan stories? Anderson brings a fantastical, gruesome, realistic, spin the the life of the people in Tiger Lily's village, and who Tiger Lily was to Peter Pan. I enjoyed it because it talks about how when we destroy a person, we really destroy people. If you know who the Zuni Berdaches were, then it would make sense, but regardless, your heart will ache in this story. It was beautifully written. No sex, but it hints to a rape.
2. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley. (04/2013) Fantasy/Fiction. A beautiful love story about a woman who digs a strange creature out of the mud during a storm in 1950s midwest. This creature slowly becomes woman, then into a man. And they embark on one of the most sweetest love stories I have read in a long time. It is WEIRD, but beautiful. Has mild sex scenes and drug use (during the 70s).
1. The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop (Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness). (1998-2000) Dark fantasy/Horror. For me, there will NEVER be a better trilogy of books written in MY lifetime. This was one of the few books that have left me so empty, I cried because I didn't want it to end. To me this is the epitome of what dark fantasy/horror should be. Welcome to a miserable world where the dark has been skewered by those with no power, through blood packs with the Lord of Hell's wife (whom he is divorced from), the "humans" have enslaved those with power, mostly men who have the power of the Jewels, to meager slaves, robbing them of their pride and sanity. They hinge on one hope that the "Queen of the Darkness" will be born and bring order and peace again. It's really a story about a father who has been torn from his sons. As the future queen is born, the Lord of Hell goes through "hell" to bring her to him, especially when he finds out she is being tortured as a child by family who think she's crazy. The young girl, meets her "mate", who is a slave. He gives his life to protect her and enters a shattered realm of madness to save her soul after she is brutally raped and killed. Knowing that his mind is going, he shatters his jewel to call his father (Lord of Hell) and his half-brother (another slave in a distant land) to take her and keep her safe. Recovering, she joins her "blood father" (Lord of Hell) and she grows into a Queen to be feared and adored. She frees her mate from the bowels of insanity and together they rage war, with her new kingdom. Gorgeous book, and I cried like a baby at the end. Bishop wrote one of the best "goodbye" scenes I have ever read. WARNING: This book if not for the faint of heart. There is rape (towards men), child rape, child prostitution, slavery, torture (like you cannot imagine), burning, and "bitch" is used quite often. Book 1 is brutal, B2 is much calmer as the Queen grows up, going to the point of cute and funny, a nice break from the horror of B1. Book 3 is rough, but not as bad as Book 1.

Now go out and READ!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!

Well, another year has arrived! Welcome aboard to 2014!

Alot has happened since I wrote a blog entry:

I finished my first semester of graduate school and will be starting a new one Thursday.
I am currently stressing myself out over writing my first magazine article. I need to turn it in ASAP.
I did a lot of baking that I neglected to put up here...I will render that.
I received two beautiful thoughtful gifts for the holidays.
We went on our first cruise (it was awesome).
I attended my first professional workshop a month ago and I am still getting over the jitters.

What I am looking forward to in 2014:
Surviving another semester of school.
Hosting my first event for April is for Authors. An emerging authors information workshop. 
My husband ever-so-kindly taking me out for sushi for my birthday/Valentine's Day (they are a day apart).
The South Florida Fair!
My sister coming to visit in a few months.
More baking!
More writing!
And hopefully someone will love my vision enough to ask to read my manuscript.

Merry New Year! Make it AWESOME!