January 9, 2017

Hidden Figures One Sheet

Based on the book of the same name, the movie Hidden Figures has grown from a small-budget, limited-release film to one that has expanded release and is receiving critical acclaim. The book, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, written by Margot Lee Shetterly, brings to light several of the key African-American women who worked as ‘calculators’, and then mathematicians, at what is now NASA. Long before computers, people did the work of calculators. During their time, beginning in the 1940s, these young African-American women not only dealt with the sexism of the day but also were constantly reminded that ‘they’ were different. Regardless of the caliber of their work, it was several decades of being ‘colored’ and treated as third-class citizens that each of them had to contend with to do jobs where they could use their talents and pursue work that allowed them not only to contribute the space-race but also contribute to their self-satisfaction.

Although it was first released in select cities, I knew I wanted to see the movie and take BabyGirl to see it too. For decades young black girls never knew that there was a foundation in math and science careers set for them by the women portrayed in the movie and many others like them. As a bi-racial child, it is important to me that BabyGirl learn about her African-American history. Equally important is to teach her that while she’s grown up being told girls can do anything they set their mind to, sexism still may play a role. It’s easier to find stories of women who’ve overcome sexism in the workplace to become successful. But to have a story where even if they could overcome the sexism, the color of their skin was a constant reminder that they were ‘less than’ when it came to the type of work being done for the space program.

The theater was mostly empty, with BabyGirl significantly bringing down the average age. The movie moves along quickly and keeps you engaged. If you’ve never experienced racism first hand, there are a few uncomfortable situations that are even still pertinent today. The sexism can be brushed aside as something ‘of the time’. I think most of us are accustomed to women’s roles in the 50s and 60s. The music, the costumes, and the historical accuracy are so well done that you’re not distracted by something that doesn’t fit. The writers deserve a lot of credit for these because they could have easily left us trying to reconcile things on our own. Instead, they give us a truth that is closer to their reality and not one that we need to construct.

Now open nationwide, it’s very easy to encourage everyone to go see Hidden Figures. The reasons, though, are multi-faceted. It’s a story to encourage girls in STEM education. It’s a story that shows young black girls that despite thinking the path was only recently created this is a trail that was blazed a generation ago and has much deeper roots. It’s a story to remind us that thinking big and doing what seems impossible is a foundation of this country – for all people.

I think everyone who sees it can find their connection. As a parent, I feel connected to Katherine Johnson’s parents who were strong advocates for their gifted daughter. As a girl who loved math but felt pushed out by ‘the boys’, I know how difficult it must have been for these women to do this back in their time. As an American I see that we have come a long way, but still have room to improve.

Any time we have the opportunity to tell the stories of people whose stories were ignored, we need to do it. To think that major advances or events happened with only certain people perpetuates the misinformation that we’ve become conditioned to accept as fact. Today we have a platform to tell these stories. But we also have the responsibility to ensure that similar stories of today are told in real-time.

We can’t continue to tell stories like this as history. Girls of all color deserve to see themselves in women who are, every day, ensuring that this trail not only becomes smoother but also goes farther. In 2018, we will have the first African-American crew member on the International Space Station. Jeanette Epps, Ph.D., may not have set out to be the first but by telling her story in real-time we’re not left wondering if there is a place for girls in math and science.

History helps shape the future. Without stories like these kids, girls especially, grow up thinking they don’t belong. However, we can’t rely on history. Especially not when today we have amazing women of all color doing exceptional work in math and science, breaking down barriers that are remnants of an era we need to put behind us.

This isn’t just a story about black women who pushed “the system”. It’s a story about Jim Crow laws, feminism, self-respect, perseverance, love, and history. It’s all of these that are woven together to create a screenplay and bring to life the story of just three of the women who did the impossible. And helped their country do the impossible at the same time.

We need these movies. They give us hope and perspective, two things we need our children to have so they can go out on their journeys to do great things. And at the same time they show us that sometimes by just doing your job the way you think it should be done, you can make history.

Sara

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December 8, 2016

Bluetooth Tracking Device

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Slightech and includes affiliate links. If you purchase using my affiliate link I will earn a small commission.

One of the great things about tech is how it can help us in our daily lives. Bluetooth trackers are one of those small things that can make a big difference. Especially if you spend time looking for things like your keys, your phone, where you parked your car, your kid’s jacket, or even a purse or backpack.

There is so much stuff that we need to keep track of, it’s no wonder we walk out of the house without things. I’ve been a fan of bluetooth tracking devices since I first found them on crowdfunding sites a few years ago. Most though, are utilitarian and the size and design aesthetic is much more industrial than I’d like sometimes.

Recently, I was contacted by Slightech, the maker of the Mynt bluetooth tracker and offered one to tech drive. Because I’m a tech junkie and I was heading out of town for about 3 weeks I felt it would be a great time to check it out in comparison to the other trackers I use.

I’ll jump to the recommendation first and just say, GET ONE! Well, get more than one. While I like the others I have, the Mynt is nicer looking and doesn’t scream “I’m a tracker!”. For about 20 bucks you have such peace of mind of knowing where your stuff is at.

Mynt bills itself as a more than just a tracker. It’s an anti-loss device with finder capabilities, but it can also work as a remote for your smartphone camera shutter or as a “clicker” for music on your smartphone or, how cool is this, a remote for slide presentations on your Mac. And while the tracking is what I was focused on, it’s kind of nice that it’s capable of more than just that one thing.

The top things I liked about the Mynt bluetooth tracker that has me recommending this device:

  • Mynt BatteryReplaceable battery – seems like a little thing, but it’s nice to have that flexibility if you’re attaching it to your child’s lovey, tucking it into your luggage, or storing it in your car’s glove box. It’s an environmentally friendly aspect of this tracking device that doesn’t exist in others.
  • Size and design – it’s very flat  and is a smooth oval shape.  While I love my Tile Slim, which is flatter than the Mynt, the overall size moves the Mynt to my top choice. The design is well thought out too. It has the option of attaching to a key ring or other more permanent connector, you can stick it on with (provided) sticky dots, or you can use the low profile easy-attach string to keep the bulkiness to a minimum.
  • Color options – this is more of a preference and has nothing to do with functionality, but it’s nice to have choices. The blue device that I have is a very cool slate-like dark blue. When I show it to people I get lots of compliments on the color. If you want a color that will be more noticeable, you can get the gold one. If all  your tech is silver, grab a matching Mynt.
  • Alerts – if you’ve ever walked out of a movie or restaurant or dressing room at a store and a few minutes later realized you didn’t have your phone, you know that panic feeling that comes over you. But imagine being able to attach one to your child’s favorite toy or blanket so it’s not left on the plane. Or your keys. Replacing car or house keys is expensive! Being notified when you are separated from your tracker can keep the panic to a minimum and allow you to recover your valuables quickly. Almost a year ago my car key fell out of my purse on a flight and I didn’t realize it until I returned home and couldn’t get into my car. What I wouldn’t do to go back and attach a Mynt on my key fob. (In case you’re wondering, replacing electronic key fobs is expensive. Like designer shoes expensive!)

So, you need a bunch of these, right? I thought so! Because so do I. Recently BabyGirl was trying on dresses for her recital and left her phone on the bench in the little room. Luckily it was a week day at a smaller store and the associate cleared out the room and found the phone while we were still in the store. As a teen, I’m sure it was only a matter of seconds before BabyGirl noticed her phone was not on her. But had it not worked out so well, having the ability to check the Mynt app to find the phone would have kept the stress in check.

Mynt locatorIt was my Mynt that eased my mind when I nearly missed my connection because of a delayed flight. I was able to log into the app when we landed to see my bags were in DC at the airport, too. YAY! It was also Mynt that allowed me to keep an eye on my bags that arrived hours before me because I took a voluntary detour on a recent trip home from Washington.

While I got my Mynt bluetooth tracker free to facilitate my tech drive, I’ve since purchased them to give to a few people. These little gems have a great design and are great for people who travel with musical instruments, to toss into your suitcase like I did, to attach to your backpack or handbag (I do this!), or to anything you don’t want to worry about losing (even kids or grandma! Grandma would not have gotten run over by a reindeer if she had one of these!).

Works on Android, iOS, and Mac OSX desktop, and cost about $20. Available from the Sleightech store or on Amazon. Perfect for gift giving any time!

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Mynt Tracker

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Mynt Tracker

Sara

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