I don't do this often, but there's been a collection of interesting readings lately...

  • Lack of Confidence as Professionals Spurs Women to Leave Engineering, Study Finds - "...women [studying and recently graduated from engineering] lack [not competence, but] "professional role confidence," a term that describes,
    loosely, a person's sense that he or she belongs in a certain field. The
    term encompasses more than mastery of core intellectual skills. It also
    touches on a person's confidence that he or she has the right expertise
    for a given profession, and that the corresponding career path meshes
    with his or her interests and values." Courtesy of Olin professor Zhenya Zastavker to the learningaboutlearning mailing list, and separately Purdue professor Karl Smith to the Purdue ENE list. Memes!
  • A Hearing Aid That Cuts Out All the Clatter, forwarded by Kevin Mark - the awkward necklace-and-a-wired-box FM unit (with matching "I have a deaf student!" teacher microphone-and-a-wired-box) I had to wear in elementary school now has a grown-up equivalent that actually sounds pretty awesome; wire loops around the perimeter of a given room (theatre, hall, classroom, etc) that transmit audio directly from existing microphone/speaker setups into most modern hearing aids. Trouble is, I don't really have "modern" hearing aids, but... still. Incentive. Technology makes progress!
  • Happy Open Access Week!
  • The rules of effortless parenting, which sounds an awful lot like the style I'd use if I ever had kids. (I mean, not that I will.) It's a very "world-proof-the-baby" attitude - heck, don't just world-proof the baby, get the baby out there messing with the world.
  • Envisioning Disney Characters in "Real Life" - photomanipulation plus some deft digital painting skillz gives a look of what some Disney princesses might look like if they were actual physical women. Not absolutely perfect, but... impressive. Mulan is (as always) my favorite. Via my cousin Megan's message to our friend Randy, who's a big Disney geek.
  • Coaching Yourself, which has stories of the systematic sort of feedback I'm trying to set up for myself as well. Trouble is, I sort of want to master everything, but you can't set this sort of feedback up for everything... can you?
  • Bogleheads, which has the sort of personal finance and investment discussions I want to be able to participate in. I can mostly understand them, but have not jumped as far in as I ought to, mostly because of lack of time and fear. On the one hand, I'm doing what seems to be a pretty decent job; when Randy and I went to the Financial Planning Day event in Chicago, the financial planner I got my free 15-minute coaching session with looked at me after I'd laid out my situation (maxing out standard retirement accounts, emergency savings, what about a 529 as a tax vehicle..) and said "I usually don't get 25-year-olds like this." But I haven't rebalanced my portfolio... pretty much... ever. And my credit report? Never checked it. And I have no medium-term savings goals, basically - it's all either "retire!" or "pay rent next month," as if there were no big milestones popping up in the next decade of my life (graduation and subsequent relocation? buying a house? round-the-world trip?) So I could sure as hell use help with this, and am grateful Randy's also trying to get through it so we can be personal-finance-learning buddies. (Anyone else interested? Let me know!)
  • The Secret To Lying is a young-adult novel by a fellow IMSA alum (before my time), and is basically set in "IMSA" (the same way Yellow Lights was set in "Olin"). IMSA life doesn't usually have that much drama, and my experience was in most ways dissimilar to the protagonists'; I really don't remember that much relationship drama everywhere at the high school, but then again I was pretty oblivious to that sort of thing at that age. However, there was a lot of familiarity to the setting; I found myself mentally walking through the campus during the book scenes. I've studied in those hallways, walked around that pond, been a Club Pseudo geek (yes, they mention our improv/variety-show club by name) and done creative things with awful cafeteria food. A little haunting, the knowing of the place that comes through in the writing. And there is a little I can sympathize with.