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Nerd Rant!

I have a rant.


When I was a kid, it was an insult. It was cruel. It was mean... and it was intended to be so. Being called a "nerd" was bad.

What was a nerd? There wasn't a super codified definition... but things like ugly clothes (high waisted pants, suspenders, etc) glasses, liking to read, being into learning and not being into sports / clothes / boys / popular things... that is what could get you called a nerd.

Even today, a google search of "nerd" pulls up mostly conventionally unattractive men in bad glasses and/or with bad teeth.

Again, it was a very intentional insult. the point was to hurt your feelings.

Before going further, I just want to say that I understand kids can be asshats. But if you break it down... some of those nerd things are pretty shity things to get made fun of. Oh, you wear glasses.. let's mock you for your limited vision! Oh you have outdated clothes... your parents have outdated senses of fashion or maybe you are wearing hand me downs! HAHAHAHAHA

(tiny rant about glasses... glasses do NOT make you smart, weak, or bookish. They literally ONLY mean your eyes are not 20/20. This is a fact people STILL don't seem to understand.)

Case in point: google image search for "smart girl"... look at how many have on glasses... Good grief.

Also, apparently, smart girls are predominantly young and have brown hair. 


Fast forward a bit. I started hearing people say "Well, Bill Gates is a nerd... and he has money!"
But it was still bad to be a nerd... even as us nerds united and shrugged the taunts off.

Fast farther forward.

Apparently, I am still a nerd. I am a book reading science-loving person who likes to learn. I wear glasses.

Whatever. I have made peace with my nerdy ways. I have nerdy friends. Some of us don't wear glasses! Most of us wear nice stylish clothes! We like to learn, we enjoy reading and learning... egads... we are nerds! But we have taken the term back. We are Proud of our nerdy ways... we celebrate it with geeky tee shirts and socks, we go on nerd cruises and have nerd meet up groups. Our tastes impact the media, TV shows, movies, and pop culture.

Nerds rule.


This week at Kiddo's school it is Red Ribbon Week where they learn ("learn is loosely defined in this instance) about the evils of drugs. They are encouraged to dress up every day with some sort of bad pun reference to not doing drugs.

"Lei off drugs! Dress Hawaiian!"
"Team up against drugs! Wear a sports jersey!"
"Sock it to drugs! Wear crazy socks!"

Today it was "Too smart for drugs! Dress like a nerd!"

WTF people.

Nerds are smart... it says so right there in your clever little statement. So.. the kids should dress "smart"? how do you dress "smart"?

Oh, no... you want them to dress like a nerd. Ok.

But... the nerds of today come in ALL iterations. We wear dresses and leggings. We wear business suits. We wear track suits. We wear skirts and blouses. We wear jeans. We wear glasses. We don't wear glasses. We carry backpacks or briefcases or satchels or purses big enough for our books or our kindles or our tablets.. or maybe we just have the kindle app on our iPhone. We are ethnically diverse. We are as varied as the rainbow and plenty of us are IN the rainbow if you know what I mean. MANY of us are damn sexy. There was even a Huff Po article about how Nerds are the New Sexy.

There is no such thing as a "classic 2017" nerd.

Which means that the "dress like a nerd" thing is a call back to the time before.. the time of high waists, bow ties, glasses, and getting beat up by the jocks. In short, you are calling back to a horrible time in a lot of people's lives, and not content to simply mock our pain, you are somehow both erasing it and making it into a game... asking the kids to dress up in all the worst stereotypes imaginable. WHEEEE!!!!!!

It's insensitive.
It's cruel.

Can you think of another insulting word that they would have kids dress up as... that wouldn't get a backlash? I'm drawing a blank partly because my feathers are ruffled and partly because in my world insults are things like "you ignorant piece of crap" "you trashcan fire" "you are a racist slimeball"

Dork? Fartknocker? Douche? Hey kids... Keep your body clean and away from drugs! Dress up like a douche!"

(Full disclosure, I would pay to see a bunch of kids dressed up like douches to combat the idea of drugs.)

Little Sally is the second from the left! 

My daughter asked me what a nerd was. I told her about how the word was used and I told her about how it describes almost every adult she knows and loves. Including her daddy who is a scientist.

I told her she could wear whatever she wanted.

She wore a "Future scientist" tee shirt today complete with pic of a girl doing science.

And some douchey kid in her class told her that it didn't count... that she wasn't dressed up like a nerd because she wasn't wearing fake glasses like the others.

She responded that she is a REAL nerd like her mom.. and this kid told her that she wasn't.

Which... hurt her feelings.


My kid was sad because she was told she wasn't a nerd.

This whole thing has me so conflicted and upset.

Also.. pretty sure "Lei off drugs, dress Hawaiian" counts as culturally insensitive. Like in a pretty big way.

Ugh Ugh Ugh.

This nerdy mom needs to go lose herself in a good book.

Oh look what just arrived!

I -heart- you, Mike Duncan! 

Last Night In Fresno

I'm feeling pretty emotional right now, but I am going to try to be succinct.

As you probably know, President of the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees Brooke Ashjian made problematic statements to the Fresno Bee regarding teaching students about LGBT history.

Ashjian said the district has to follow the law, “but you have kids who are extremely moldable at this stage and if you start telling them that LGBT is OK and that it’s a way of life, well maybe you just swayed the kid to go that way.” And Ashjian said, “it’s so important for parents to teach these Judeo-Christian philosophies.”

When the LGBT Community responded to these statements, calling him out for using his position in authority to malign an entire community, Ashjian went on the offensive calling the LGBT Community the "thought police" and equating them to the Ottoman empire and their systematic genocide of the Armenian people.

(Quick note: there were several hundred people at this meeting)

When THAT drew ire from the LGBT community as well as several pastors and other faith and community leaders (including Armenian pastors), Ashjian went on talk radio and vowed to never resign, wrote emails from his FUSD email account talking about how Christians need to unite, and agreeing with ideas about conversion therapy proponents.

That brings us to last night.

Fact sheet about what happened at the October meeting: (two months after the initial packed house in August).

 - There were maybe fifty to sixty people there. (Fewer as the night went on)

- During open (non-agenda) comment time, members of the community took to the mic to call the LGBT population perverted, dangerous, violent, and disgusting. Other community members pointed out that it was National Coming Out Day. The board seemed unmoved by the irony.

- A resolution was passed proclaiming October Cyber Security Awareness Month. Interesting note, part of this resolution deals with bullying: "... all students should be safe from bullying including Cyber-bullying..."  ALSO interesting, Mr. Ashjian himself has been deposed for his own cyberbullying attacks on a local LGBT organization. The Irony Of All This Went Unnoticed. 

- Then a resolution proclaiming October LGBT History Month was petitioned, read, and accepted.

Record Scratch. Was Mr. Ashjian there for that proclamations?

No, no he was not.

He left the dais so that he wouldn't have to vote on the LGBT resolution. 

Another interesting note: normally the president of the board would sign such a proclamation.

But of course, he did not.

This, to me, was very telling. This goes beyond a man who has a personal opinion. This is a man in a position of leadership allowing his personal feelings to dictate his actions. His lack of a signature, due to his moral stance on LGBT rights and people, is a slap in the face of any argument one might have about the line between personal free speech and doing your damn job of protecting and representing the district.

I mean really. What the hell?

So, yes, we got a proclamation, but as one community member stated later: it is a totally hollow gesture.

 - Then we had the agenda item calling for his removal. Board members talked about free speech, hid behind lack of precedent, pointed out that they could, in fact, do something if they wanted to, made odd comments about people "owning their children," pointed out systemic racism and the irony of celebrating free speech by Ashjian while getting angry about athletes on football fields doing the same thing, called Mr. Ashjian a "good guy", distanced themselves from his comments, called him "brother, called for a cease-fire.
In Other Words: It was a confusing bag of talking points that did nothing to move the conversation along.

 - During the agenda item public comment time we were treated to a few more diatribes about the evils of the LGBT community, but we were, thankfully, also encouraged by some very articulate LGBT supporters. (This is when I talked, I was not articulate, in fact, I cried and my statement is at the end of this post if you want to read it.)

7 - And then the meeting ended with no action taken by the board.

Let me clear: They have every right and ability to call for his removal.
They didn't
They have every right and ability to censure him.
They didn't
They have every right and ability to issue a formal apology on behalf of the board.
They didn't

Mr. Ashjian has never apologized. Instead of attempting to build a bridge with the LGBT community, he has compared us to perpetrators of genocide. 

The board has done nothing to him for this. Nothing.

Despite public outcry..... nothing

An hour before the August meeting

Yes, in December (two months away) they have the option to not vote him in as president again.

But will they?

Based on the number of empty seats in the room last night, they might not bother. Like so many things, this fight might just fade into the cacophony of crap that we have to deal with in this lovely year of 2017. If our community cannot show up and demand action, if we are being out voiced by those that hate us, the impetus for the board to do anything goes away completely.

A half an hour before last nights.
I'm not calling out any single person. I know we all have lives and commitments. I know spending hours in a room with people who hate you is draining and horrible. But I am honestly really disappointed in my community and our allies. Being a social justice warrior online is easy. Showing up, butts in chairs, feet on the ground, that is hard. I get it, everyone can't do everything. But damn it hurt.

Thank you to those that did show up and speak last night... especially the youth. Speaking truth to power is difficult in the best of times. 

My statement.

Hello, my name is Kaylia Metcalfe. I am a parent here in Fresno. I was angry when I got here, but after listening to all this, I am not angry, I'm sad.
My comments are not to you, Mr. President because I don't think you will ever listen to someone like me. This is to the rest of the board.

You see yourselves as good people.
You give to charity
You give your time
You obey the laws and you probably let people go ahead of you in line, sometimes
You see yourselves as good people
You love your family
You say kind things to each other and to your neighbors
I know you vote your conscious
You aren't racists
You aren't bigots
You aren't mean-spirited
You see yourselves as good people
Now it is time for us to see that too
It's time for you to take a stand and prove it
Words matter
Opinions are your own
but words spoken in public places from positions of authority, from our leaders, about our children
are held to a higher standard
Words matter and Mr. Ashjian's words 
Were hurtful
and dangerous
Words matter
but actions empower.
Be empowered.
Do the right thing
Do a good thing and make a censure.
You are good people, I know you are.
Please act like it.

The Post of BS Footnotes aka Becoming a Chaperone

There is a pumpkin patch field trip coming up at E's school, and I want to chaperone. I am told I need to fill out this form and then go get finger printed. 
The form clearly says you must bring ID and $50 as a cashier check/money order. *

So, I go to the bank. I get the money order. I go to the downtown FUSD office. 

They are perplexed. 
Apparently I don't need to pay anything. **
Also? They didn't know there was a kinder at Wawona. ***
They have to call and verify. 

I wait.

Ok, they have confirmed that there is a Kinder at Wawona... but I have the wrong form. I need to fill out the following three forms. ****

I do so.
On one of the forms, it asks for my alias.
I don't have an alias. I do have previous names, but they aren't my aliases. 

Quick break for a daydream. 


I leave the "Alias" part blank and turn in my forms.

I wait.

I get called back up and asked if I am married.
I am
Ok, then they need my maiden name /gesture to the "alias" line on the form.

I'm feeling particularly punchy so I kindly explain the difference between "alias" and "previous." 

They are not amused.
/SIGH/ We want your prior legal name: 
I ask how far back I need to go. (I have had multiple previous legal names.) 
Mass confusion 
They say just list my maiden name. 
I take pity and list my previous last names. Yes, more than one. 
I also include my prior first name. 

I wait.
I get called back up.
They are confused and rude: 
Not your nickname /eyeroll and finger jab to the "alias" blank where I have helpfully written my previous first name/, just your LEGAL name. 
Yes, I say. It was legal. 
/scoffing/ Really? 

I wait.

Eventually, I am sent to have my fingers pushed onto the computer screen. (No more ink!)

Of course the machine is finicky and of course, my fingers refuse to create perfect prints. We have to do several of them several times. 
Most annoying is my mutant short thumb. It simply will not work.
The lady is exasperated.

Does this happen often, I ask, trying to make it less awkward
Maybe the machine hates me, I joke, ha-ha-ha...?
No, she informs me, there is nothing wrong with her machine.
She looks pointedly at my thumb.

Eventually, she overrode the computer's depressive "REJECTED" stance and I was assured that I was done and they would let me know in five days.

It was then that I noticed they had entered my name incorrectly.

My last name is "Metcalfe-Armstrong" Yeah, it's a lot of letters, but it is my name.

They had dropped the "-Armstrong" part off.



Metcalfe-Armstr is closer to my legal last name than Metcalfe. I'm just saying.
I asked about this... won't it cause a problem?

No, I am told, besides they just don't have the ability for hyphen names. *****


I asked around, apparently, the district staff are known for being rude. But holy smokes this was a colossal cluster of crap.

.... Hopefully, the damn pumpkin patch is worth it!


* Most people don't have a spare $50 laying around. The fact that only those with decently sized nest eggs even get the opportunity to chaperone seems like systemic classist BS to me....

** Yay! Anyone can do this! But unless you KNOW that they gave you the wrong form, how would you know that you don't have to pay? Meaning that there is still a self-selecting group of people who will even get to this point int he process. Again, I am calling BS on the whole thing.

*** It is a new program. So.. maybe I should cut them some slack. But this is the Human Resource department for the district, I feel like they should know. Also, how often do people ask to chaperone things at nonexistent schools? Yeah, gonna stick with my BS assertion.

**** Of course after all this I told Wawona that we have been given the incorrect form. Of course, they were sorry. But days have gone by and there has not been a corrected form or instruction set sent home. Meaning that unless the parents were close enough to hear my longwinded vent about this whole process, they still think the green form is the right form and that they are required to pay the fifty bucks. B!S!

***** Fresno. Public School In Fresno. Almost 70% of the population in the district is Hispanic. Only 10% is white. I am willing to bet large sums of money, LOTS of kids have hyphenated last names. But your system isn't built to handle hyphens? Say it with me now...