Why I won’t be Mrs. Washburn

19 Oct

This is not to say I won’t be getting married (as much as we like to joke that the engagement is off whenever we disagree on what to have for dinner).

This is also not to say that I disagree with other women’s decisions to change their names when they get married.  In fact, I’d like to preface this post by saying that I absolutely mean no offense to anyone who chooses to go by Mrs., or who took their husband’s last name.  This is a personal decision that has to be considered carefully and individually by each couple, and I try (as I hope others do as well) to respect that decision.

That said, I have carefully considered the options, and have decided that when I get married, I will remain Ms. Charlotte DeKoning.

There are many reasons I’ve decided to keep my name, the first and foremost being it’s my name.  I’ve been Charlotte DeKoning for almost 26 years now, and I’ve gotten pretty used to it.  Charlotte DeKoning has had a lot of ups and a lot of downs, but I’m pretty pleased with how she’s turned out, and I’m not looking to change that.

The second reason is more political, but it boils down to this: why should I (a woman) have to change who I am when the person I’m marrying (a man) does not?  It comes down to gender equality, in my opinion, and the continued oppression and subjugation of women.  By changing my name, I would feel like property, being passed from one owner (my father, presumably) to another (my husband).  Now, I realize this is a radical interpretation of the text, and I know women in this country are no longer considered property or second-class citizens (mostly), but passive acceptance of inequality can be damaging just like active oppression, and by participating in this antiquated ritual, I would feel like a traitor to my cause.

(At this point I would like to reiterate that I am in no way saying that women who do change their name are traitors to their gender, or anything like that.  This is just my opinion on the matter, and I understand and respect that there will be people with viewpoints different from my own.)

The third reason is more personal.  I am the only child of an only son.  All my father’s sisters are married and changed their names, so none of my cousins are DeKonings (they are in spirit and in blood, of course, but not in name).  This means that I am the only descendant of my grandfather of my generation who has his name, and if I change my name, that’s the end of it.  (Granted there are some second and third cousins who still have the DeKoning name, but they are far away and I don’t know if I’ve ever even met them.)  I feel a lot of pressure to keep my name alive and going.  Why should the name die with me just because I happened to be born female?

Now, I know there will be difficulties ahead because of this decision.  There is the question of what name our children will have (his? mine? hyphenate?).  The only answer I have for that now is we’re not sure.  We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it (which won’t be for a few years, so don’t ask).  There is also the question of how to address us.  This I can answer right away: by our names.  I prefer to be addressed as Ms. Charlotte DeKoning, and he is Mr. Daniel Washburn.  To address us together, put those two things in whichever order you think appropriate.  I do NOT want to be called Mrs. (DeKoning OR Washburn), and I especially do NOT want the two of us to be referred to as “Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Washburn”.  That to me is extremely offensive.  To reduce me to not having any name at all is like saying I would not even exist without my husband, I am just an afterthought or an addendum to him.  That is something I am not okay with, so don’t do it.  Please and thank you.

Alright, rant over.  I’m very excited to become a member of Dan’s family, just as I know he’s excited to become a part of mine.  I hope people will understand and accept my decision not to change my name, but I know that there’s always a certain risk one takes by bucking tradition, and I’m prepared to face a (hopefully quite small) backlash.  I’m hoping and expecting to get more support than backlash, though.  In either case, feel free to comment here with questions/concerns/comments and I will try to respond.  Thanks for listening.


Deadly Medicine

2 Dec

Before you read my post, read this: (it’s kind of long, but it’s good and engaging, so just do it)

Deadly Medicine – Politics: vanityfair.com.

That article is terrifying.

However, I can’t help but read it through the lens of someone whose profession has also been the subject of public outrage in recent years.  Accountants, like Doctors, are professionals who provide a service that no one else does (or can).  This necessarily means that our clients, and/or the general public, have to place a great deal of trust in our education, integrity, and professional judgement when we issue opinions or advice.  Accountants have a strict set of ethical guidelines that we have to follow, and I know Medical Doctors have even stricter guidelines.  Granted, there are Accountants who do not follow these guidelines, and I’m sure there are Doctors without scruples as well, but I have to believe that these people are few and far between, and not, as this article seems to portray, the majority of those practicing.

I’m not saying that the article is wrong, or that the current regulations and practices by the F.D.A. don’t leave something to be desired.  Obviously if the death toll from prescription drugs is 200,000 people per year something needs to be done.  I’m just trying to bring into perspective an article that was obviously written to terrify, not to fairly cover the subject.

There have to be examples of doctors and pharmaceutical companies that are doing the right thing.  That are concerned about the safety of the drugs they endorse or produce, not just their wallets.  What do normal, ethical doctors have to say about the pharmaceutical industry and the testing and approval process for new drugs?  What are the ethical guidelines that doctors have to follow regarding consultation and conflict of interest?  What are their ethical guidelines on endorsement and recommendation of drugs?  Is it time for the government to intervene and regulate these things, changing the pharmaceutical industry the same way the Sarbanes-Oxley act changed the financial industry?

Perhaps.  But what I really want to know is: Why aren’t journalists asking these questions, instead of just trying to terrify us?

Information Systems Security roundup

12 Nov

For some reason, I’ve been seeing a lot pop up this week regarding computer and/or web security (or the lack thereof). Maybe it’s just because this week I officially decided to get my Master’s degree in Information Systems Security (which, by the way, I am SO excited about!), or maybe it’s just been that kind of week.  Anyway, here are a couple of the things I wanted to share:

Dead Drop embedded into a brick wall

This first thing I’ve seen crop up on two web shows so far (WebBeat.TV and then GeekBeat.TV), and apparently the blog has been really popular. Dead Drops is a project by Aram Bartholl where he apparently embeds usb drives into things like concrete or brick walls at random places around a city.

The concept is that anyone can walk up to one of these “Dead Drop” sites and upload/download files onto the drive.  Kind of like a geographical version of peer-to-peer file sharing, or more accurately, the digital version of a glory hole.  Whatever the point is, it’s a HORRIBLE idea!  Ugh, just thinking about it makes me shudder.  I can’t emphasize enough how DANGEROUS and STUPID it would be to actually plug your computer into one of these drives.  This would be like picking up a sandwich someone threw on the street and eating it, or having random unprotected sex with a stranger.  Yes, it’s true, it might be clean, but there’s really no way for you to know for sure, so DON’T DO IT!  No matter how curious (or hungry or horny) you are.  Besides the malicious software (viruses, malware, keyloggers) that may end up infecting your computer, you could end up sharing files that you really don’t want to.  Also, who knows what is actually on the other end of that usb connector?  Part of the whole project/experiment/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is to embed the drive so that only the connection is showing.  It may not actually be a usb drive that you are plugging into – and that opens up a much larger can of worms.  Long story short:  never plug a usb drive into your computer if you don’t know its source (whether it’s embedded into a wall or not).

LinkPeelr Chrome Extension Example

The next thing is something that I think is really neat, that actually adds to the security of web browsing.  LinkPeelr is a webapp and Google Chrome extension that will take those shortened little urls that are so popular (especially in tweets) and “peel” them back to whatever their original url was.  This is great for people like me who are paranoid about what they click on and don’t want to open links from tweets or updates that look like this:

This is cool!  Check it out: http://bit.ly/9Uk1wi

What is cool?  Am I clicking on a link to a blog post?  Or is it going to open up a porn site?  There’s no way to know before you click what it’s going to be.  I never click on these unless it is from a reliable source and there is some sort of explanation given as to what it’s going to be.  Now I can without being worried, though!  The extension works great and is fairly unobtrusive (just brings up a small tooltip when you hover over a link with your cursor showing the peeled url).  Definitely recommend to Chrome users.

Those darn kids and their [insert annoyance here]

7 Nov

So, I was thinking about Justin Bieber today…. Not something I normally do a whole lot of. To be specific, I was thinking about Auto-Tune and how it makes a lot of Pop music practically unlistenable for me. I found myself thinking “Stupid kids and their Auto-Tune, back in my day we listened to real music!” Then I had to stop and think about how much of an old person saying those words made me. I mean, didn’t they used to say the same thing about the electric guitar? Or Rock & Roll in general? Who am I to judge what the current generation of teenagers likes, when I was judged for my music choices as a teenager as well?

Now, just because I understand all that doesn’t mean I am going to go out and buy a Justin Bieber CD anytime soon. I still think it’s crap. But perhaps I shouldn’t be too quick to judge those young (or not-so-young) people who choose to listen to it.

Why School Sucks (When You’re Smart)

21 Jul

Well, allow me to re-phrase.  College does not suck.  My college sucks, occasionally.  Actually, just this class sucks… but it’s putting a real damper on the entire college experience for me at the moment.

I think the problem is that it’s a community college summer class, meaning that half the students are people who were too dumb to pass the first time through, and half the rest are older adults freshly laid-off from some factory job. Not to be insensitive – but not the brightest bunch.  I’ve discovered that in the majority of my community college classes, there is a very “no child left behind” mentality.  Meaning the class can only go as fast as the slowest student.  While this is great for the dumb kids, it leaves us smart ones sitting in class twiddling our thumbs and listening to our brains dribble out our ears.

People don’t seem to understand how difficult it is for smart kids to go at the dumb kids’ pace.  It’s soul crushing and mind numbing to listen to information you already know repeated eight different times, and to be expected to pay attention every single time.  I’m sick of it.  If I have to listen to one more sentince along the lines of “job descriptions… really, they just describe the job.” uttered by my professor (in a completely sincere and revelatory tone of voice – as if this is knowledge we couldn’t have gleaned by ourselves), my brain is going to lapse into a coma.  I had to leave class at break today because I just couldn’t take any more of it.  How do I get through the last quarter of the class?  Help!

My new pet project

5 Apr

I realize I haven’t posted here in a while. Surprisingly, it’s not because I’m lazy and can’t think of anything to write. I’ve been working on a new project: http://ubuntuforbeginners.net It’s a new website I’ve started designed to help people who are unfamiliar with Linux get into it without getting overwhelmed and called noobs.

I could use some help with it, though. If you are an Ubuntu/Linux expert, please head on over to the site and let me know if you would be willing to write for me! If you want, I’d be willing to make you a contributing author, or if you would prefer to just write one article, that would be fine too. Let me know! Thanks!

Again: http://ubuntuforbeginners.net

Celebrate Ada Lovelace Day!

24 Mar

Today, March 24, 2009, is the first annual Ada Lovelace day.  Ada Lovelace was the first-ever computer programmer (take note – not just the first female computer programmer, the first ever), and in her honor, today has been declared a day to celebrate women in technology.

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace

We as women need role models, people we can look up to and emulate, mentors and coaches; especially in male-dominated fields like technology.  It’s difficult not to feel alone and out of place when you are a minority in your field.

I remember as a freshman in college, I was the only female in my computer science class.  I had to be smart not only for myself, but for women everywhere, because unfortunately, this is How It Works:

How It Works

How It Works

That is a lot of pressure!  And it can be discouraging to girls who are interested in technology.

So to all the girls out there who take that computer elective, even though all the other girls are doing cheerleading, be proud of the fact that a woman started it all!

And to all the women who are in technology now, I hope and request that you seek out those girls, encourage and mentor them, because we are smart, and we each have an Ada within us, we just need to find her.


To quote (in my humble opinion) one of the coolest women alive, Ani DiFranco:

People, we are standing at ground zero of the feminist revolution!
Yeah, it was an inside job, stoic and sly.
One we’re supposed to forget and downplay and deny,
But I think the time is nothing if not nigh to let the truth out!
Coolest F-word ever deserves a fucking shout!
I mean… why can’t all decent men and women call themselves feminists?
Out of respect, for those who fought for this.
I mean, look around. We have This.