Value confusion

I’m more accustomed to hearing about values being talked about in a set – I’m thinking mainly of politicians touting “family values” and “American values” – as though there is some established list everyone who is important has agreed to. It also makes me think about times I’ve heard the word used as window dressing [...]

When women were astronomical computers

Being a computer used to be one of the few women’s jobs in astronomy. Today, the word computer evokes plastic cases, microchips and power cords, but the term “computer” was actually first used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to describe people who solved mathematical equations using their brains and a pencil and [...]

Nirvana: Yup, that’s the voice of my generation

I was angry in the early 1990s Los Angeles. My new college degree in business wasn’t helping me find a job in California’s deep recession and weak recovery. I was working two part-time jobs — one doing car insurance quotes on the phone and the other working as a receptionist in a Malibu doctor’s office, [...]

Turning sexism upside down

A handful of North American women pastors and church leaders sparked a great Twitter conversation Friday night with a simple technique. They wrote down all the discouraging, sexist things people said to them along their career path. Then they replaced “she” with “he” and “woman” with “man.” A sample: The meme was just too delicious [...]

A curious Mom

May 5 is my mother’s birthday — happy birthday, Rosemary Rosick Lipinski! — and when I think of my favorite things about her, I think about her lifelong sense of curiosity. It has been one of her best gifts she’s given me (besides the decades of devotion and financial and emotional support, and the Barbie [...]

Pysanky

One of my favorite Easter memories is making pysanky with my parents, sister and friends. We stood at the stove for hours, carefully applying melted candle wax in patterns on hard-boiled eggs, using a straight pin from my mother’s sewing room stuck into the eraser of a wooden pencil as our stylus. In between layers of [...]

Spring in SoCal

“I guess it’s spring, I don’t know, it’s always 75 degrees with no melting snow,” Jenny Lewis of Los Angeles’ band Rilo Kiley sings plaintively in one of my favorite songs, Does He Love You? And I know what she means. If it weren’t for the bright floral dresses at the mall and the marshmallow [...]

Malacca’s Red Paint Mystery

With 500 years of history as a spice trading town, Malacca, along with sister city Georgetown, was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, and that’s how it popped up on my radar of a good weekend trip from Singapore. Malacca’s sunbaked, salmon red Dutch buildings beamed out of photos like a beacon saying, [...]

Setting 101 at Sleuthfest 2014

Sleuthfest 2014 in Orlando had some great panels on mystery and thriller writing, but two of my favorites were about creating and describing the perfect setting for your novel. When it comes to writing about locations, fiction writers find themselves in a dialogue with their readers. They are describing streets and cityscapes and buildings that [...]

Echeveria envy

I envy the echeverias in a garden by where I work. They are stunningly beautiful, with red ruffled tips extended from green bases, growing in concentric circles in a dozen unique patterns. Every circular cluster has a different geometry and a different balance. Some reproduce little rosettes in orderly circles, others produce them randomly, unevenly. They [...]