Kickass Women

History is filled with women doing all kinds of kickass stuff.

Smart Girls

Watch these girls... they're going places!


Need a dose of inspiration? Here you go.

SRPS Entertainment

Some of my entertainment recommendations with awesome female characters and stars.

She's Crafty!

Some of the awesome items made by kickass women!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Science Fair Rock Star: Kiara Nirghin

When thinking of ideas for her Google Science Fair project Kiara Nirghin, from Johannesburg, South Africa, looked around and wondered where she could best apply her natural scientific curiosity for the greatest good. She credits her father for her this humanitarian pursuit, saying he continually reminds her of what is truly important. "You can get as many A's in school and university but what matters most is what you do for the [person who] cannot do for themselves."

South Africa, as well as many others around the globe, is in the midst of a terrible drought, leading to food insecurity and further environmental degradation as poor farmers resort to dangerous practices to survive. Kiara, who loves studying physics and chemistry, had learned a bit about superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) in her chemistry class and wondered if they might hold the key to improving water retention in soil.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Follow Friday - Calendar Women

A while back, when I was first really getting the hang of Tumblr, I came across a wonderful blog there that told the story of one amazing woman every day. Of course I immediately followed it! And every day since I have been happy I did. While the daily posts are on hiatus for a while, she is still sharing great posts found elsewhere, and thus my timeline is continually filled with inspirational stories of women have done great things.

Recently, I was fortunate to be able to chat with Caitlin, the creator and driving force behind Calendar Women.

SRPS: First of all, can you tell me a little bit about yourself? What's your background? What inspires you?

CW: My name is Caitlin and I am a film and television graduate and history buff. My passion is factual programming and documentaries as they offer us a glimpse into worlds that we would never otherwise experience or understand, though depending on who is telling the story certain details can get warped. True stories from history have always fascinated me as often they are much stranger than fiction. I love trying to understand the strength or fortitude of women who have faced down oppressive regimes, liberated people, or defied expectations and forged a new life for themselves – I often find myself wondering what I would have done if I found myself in their situations.

SRPS: What is Calendar Women? What inspired you to create it?

CW: Calendar Women started out as a daily blog with posts about various women both from history and women who are still alive, from all across the world. I began it for several reasons; the first reason was to develop my writing skills. I am not a confident writer by any means and as my New Year's resolution I wanted to write every day about something that fascinated me – the lives of women. I'm happy to say that it's the first resolution I've ever kept and I'd like to think my writing skills have somewhat improved along the way!

My second reason for starting a blog was the absolute dearth of information about women from our past – through history lessons at school we predominantly learn about the achievements of men, with the assumption being that women were passively waiting at home with the children. The few women we do learn about tend to be Queens or martyrs and yet there have been so many incredible women from all walks of life, with different ideals, different achievements and certainly different ideas of the role of women in society. They give us a new perspective on cultures, events or stories we think we know, and combined with the more 'popular' details of male exploits give us a richer view of history.

It is a shame that we learn so little from conventional education, and even researching this I found myself frustrated by the lack of information freely available online about many of the women I was looking into. Tumblr has several blogs dedicated to the contributions of women, both past and present, and I think it's incredibly important that we use the resources we have now to make sure that we keep researching and sharing the stories of these women lest they be completely forgotten.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Amelia Earhart's clothing line?

Growing up, I was an avid reader of biographies, and especially biographies of famous women in history. Even at the tender age of 7, it seems my life's passion was already settled. So when I saw a link to this tweet in my RSS feed last week, it caught my eye. I was certain I already knew most of the interesting facts about Amelia Earhart, and yet here was something I'd never heard of, much less dreamed of, about one of my favorite people.

Whoa. Wait a minute. What?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Movie Night - Ghostbusters: Calling all Ghost Girls!

OMG y'all! All the feels about this movie. I went into it dangerously hopeful, only barely girded against heartbreaking disappointment. I've been hurt by reboots and remakes before, but I just couldn't help myself. I needed this movie to be awesome.

And I gotta say is... bustin' makes me feel good!

Ghostbusters is everything I had hoped it would be, and more. I saw it last night and had to call my mama this morning and share my immense joy with her. You see, the 1984 Ghostbusters is one of those movies our family relies on. We've all watched it so many times we can pretty much turn the sound off and act out the lines ourselves. We saw it in the theater back in the day, taking my Granny with us, and laughed like we'd never laughed before. So, you know, I understand the hesitance from my fellow older geeks. There's a pretty high bar for this new version to clear.

You know what? These ladies did it. With some seriously badass style. Sitting in the theater when the theme music starter I turned into the standard issue squeeing fangirl. I'm not even sure it was a silent squee. And, to be honest, that feeling hasn't worn off yet.

There are so many things about this film I absolutely love. Way too many to share in a spoiler-free blog post. But here are a couple to help sell you on seeing this at the theater if you can.

Monday, July 18, 2016

My Marie Curie Obsession Continues

I've been a sort of Marie Curie kick lately. And it's no surprise why! She was a fascinating woman whose story continues to inspire over 100 years later.

I'm not sure what initially sparked my obsession. All I know is one day I found myself on my library's online catalog checking out several books about her. Books I promptly read and returned to the branch, and then turned around and bought for my home library.

Ever since then, I've been known to drop little tidbits about her into all kinds of conversations, and most people who've gone on a bike ride with me recently have heard this story! Heck, I've got at least three different draft blog posts about some of the interesting things I have learned about her just waiting for me to finish and publish!

So, when I saw this mug from Auberg Designs on Society 6, I absolutely had to treat myself. Even though I already have way too many tea mugs for one person to use. And it's too pretty to hide in a cabinet. Instead, it's enjoying a prestigious spot on my desk bookshelf, holding up some of my more popularly used research books.

Now if only I could afford the beautiful Marie Curie silver pendant! In the meantime, I hope you all want to read all kinds of anecdotes about Marie Curie, because I've got some to share.

If you like the work I do here on SRPS, please support me!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Inspirational Women - Helen Keller

It's been a pretty terrible week. I figured we could all use a bit of inspiration to keep fighting the good fight. I'm playing around with a new web app to create videos and made this as a test run. I hope you like it, and find the quote as comforting as I do.
“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” ― Helen Keller

If you appreciate the work I do here on SRPS, please support me!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

SRPS Bookshelf: Lunch in the Park

The weather in Sonoma County (California) in June and early-July is quite variable -- it can be blazing hot and sunny one day and gray and drizzly the next. We call it "June-uary" and just take it as it comes.

On a recent gray day, I was feeling a bit blue, and treated myself to a couple of hours off from working on blog stuff or hanging out online, and snuggled up with a comfy blanket, a cup of tea, and a good book. I usually pick something new to read, because there are just sooo many books out there, but this time I went with a beautifully written book I've already read through several times.

Lunch in the Park by Jennifer Thorson has been out for a couple of years now. She sent me a copy to review on this blog when it was first released, and while I read and enjoyed it, it was autumn and I was busy with school stuff at the time and I never got around to writing up a review. Still, the book stayed with me. The characters lingered in my mind. Their struggles and hopes and dreams kept coming up, sparked by talking with friends going through something similar.

The next autumn, I read it again, renewing my friendships with Kate and Jeff. They had become friends with whom I shared a cozy cup of tea on a windy, gray day. So, I guess it's no surprise why I'd feel like visiting with them again on what may likely be the last cold and dreary day we're likely to have for a while.

I have a lot of sympathy for Kate. She's a young woman growing into herself, and that's rarely easy. Especially when she's been so very good at taking care of everyone else around her at the expense of her own desires. She takes care of her niece, she takes care of her father. She takes care of the other teachers at her school, her friends, her neighbors, and even her troubled sister who's 2000 miles away. But who takes care of her? She's so busy being strong, holding it all together, she doesn't dare open up to the vulnerability required to let someone else care for her. That would break her wide open.

Lunch in the Park is what I usually refer to as 'a quiet book.' It's a window into the life and mind of one woman as she figures out the key to -- not having it all -- but having what she desires most: love, in all its glorious and scary forms. And learning how to loosen her grip on things a little to let someone else share her burdens. It is beautifully written. Jennifer's style is wonderfully evocative -- drawing you into the scene as though you were sitting next to Kate as she works through her own thoughts.

While I began re-reading this book on a cold and gray day, I finished it on a warm, quiet afternoon sitting on my patio enjoying a cool breeze and a glass of iced tea. This is a perfect book for spending a few stolen moments of calm during the busy-ness of summer.

Jennifer Thorson has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about herself and her writing. 

SRPS: First of all, can you tell me a little bit about yourself? What's your background? What inspires you?

JT: I grew up in Annapolis, MD, with my parents and older sister. We were all readers. I remember my father and sister discussing Jane Austen. I read a lot, and often re-read books many times over. I always want to know what happens after the end of a book so I love series and if I can't read more about characters I can at least read deeper into the book and try to be inside it. My favorite book growing up was Anne of Green Gables and it's still a book I can dip into when I need a comfort read. I also read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy because it's what all the best nerds were reading when I was in junior high.

SRPS: You're a grade school teacher? How does writing fit in with your schedule? Do you have a writing routine? 

JT: I was a science teacher, middle and high school, before my children were born, so I know a bit about teaching, which is why I made Kate a teacher, but at the time I wrote Lunch in the Park I was working as a birth doula, a job that has hours of hard labor but also leaves plenty of free days, or at least as free as days can be when you have young children. I don't have a writing routine, which is why I don't have a second novel to talk about right now. I should have a writing routine, of course. Instead I have about half of a novel and outlines of several more. I'm going back to classroom teaching in the Fall, and I'm hoping that having a little more structure to my working days will help me get some more structure in my writing.

SRPS: Where did the story for Lunch in the Park come from? Are the characters based on anyone in particular?

JT: Lunch in the Park was a story that had been kicking around in my head for quite a while. Kate isn't me, but she's a better, smarter, more driven version of me. At first it was just a snippet, girl, and boy, and dog meet cute in a park and fall in love with something in the middle to keep them apart for a bit of drama. One of my biggest complaints about modern relationship novels is that the characters are kept apart because one or both of them acts in ways that a real human wouldn't, or at least not a real human I want to spend time with. When I read novels I want to like the characters, which is why I like Pride and Prejudice so much more than Emma. I think you need a real reason to keep characters apart when they so clearly care about each other: religion, class, geographic distance. That's how Kate's niece Priscilla came into existence. Kate's friends came about because I was deliberate about LiTP passing the Bechdel test so I wrote that first scene of Kate and one of her coworkers talking about school. Once that was done, adding more coworkers and then other friends just came naturally. 

SRPS: When you started writing, did you have any idea where the story would end up? How the characters would resolve their issues? 

JT: As for how the story would play out, I didn't really know what was going to happen outside of the broadest outlines. There were several crucial points that came to me as I was writing. I started out publishing short sections, about a thousand words each, on a blog I shared with friends. You can see that in the finished novel, the chapters are still really short. My readers were finding out about things almost right after I did, and somethings changed and I'd have to swerve a bit. 

SRPS: I know some authors feel their characters living inside them. Do you still have Kate and Jeff and Priscilla living on, past the ending of the book? Or is that too weird?

JT: I do have Kate and Jeff living in my head. I know what they did after the novel ended, at least for the first year or so, and Lins, too. I pondered a sequel, up to the point of having a framework for it and a title, but I never got more than a page or so of it on paper. I wrote a short story as part of a class I took that showed us a bit of Kate's life before she met Jeff, that's on my blog.

SRPS: Are you working on anything new?

JT: I have a very different novel that I'm working on called Touch. Maggie is a massage therapist who discovers she has special abilities.

SRPS: Oooo! That sounds fascinating! I can't wait to read it. In the meantime, where else can people find you and your writing online?

JT: They can read a short story about Lunch in the Park on my blog, and folks can like my author page on Facebook. And, of course, they can find the book on Amazon and SmashWords.

If you appreciate the work I do here on SRPS, please support me!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Barbara McClintock - geneticist

"If you know you are on the right track, if you have this inner knowledge, then nobody can turn you off... no matter what they say." Barbara McClintock
I love this quote from Nobel prize-winning geneticist Barbara McClintock. It's like the science-y version of, "You do you!" It's the motto she lived her life by, and very much something a self-rescuing princess would follow.

I've been reading about her lately, and while historians might disagree on the sociological impact of her of her achievements and the role she played in history, there is no doubt she was a truly remarkable woman. What I find so fascinating about her, though, is her absolute dedication to doing things her way. She's most well-known for her detailed research on corn chromosomes, a truly wondrous achievement: she discovered its genetic makeup and then studied its evolution. But if you could have asked her what her greatest accomplishment was, she would insist that it was discovering genetic control -- the idea that genes can be switched on or off. Of course, this was something she discovered while conducting her exhaustive research on ... you guessed it... corn.