No need to listen to “life wisdom” advice

I think they are most usually 100% fake. I just read a blog post with 50 tips for living your best life.

At one point, he (or she?) advises us to: decide your goals for the next five years, and then achieve them in 2 years!

And just a little bit later, his next tip is: don’t obsess about the outcome!

Um, you actually can’t do both of things at the same time. What a loser.

In general, I most especially hate those people who say things like: if you really want something, then you’ll make it happen! Just don’t give up.

I think the people who say that 1) are pretending they achieved something big when it really wasn’t and 2) are mis-allocating credit for their own determination that ought to be better attributed to luck.

 

Feeling ghosted – Animations with kids

I feel like I have very bad follow-through sometimes when it comes to my Science animations with kids program.

Sometimes, it’s my fault. Like at my last viewing party, about 30 parents, grandparents, aunts, everyone, showed up. I gave them all a little slip of paper with the URL of my website (the one you’re reading) and my YouTube channel, and my email, so they’d be able to find the films that their kids had made online.

But alas, I neglected something very evident … I forgot to collect their email addresses. So let’s just go ahead and assume that all the slips of paper I passed out are by now lost, crumpled in a bag somewhere, etc. And I have no way of contacting the parents. Kind of really sucks, because during the viewing party, I couldn’t get the sound to be loud enough, and we were in a big room, and I don’t think anyone at all understood what was happening in the movies.

These were the two movies the kids had made, by the way: A lesson on nurdles and When Anders, Dilsa, and Reza were mean.

But then some other times, it’s not my fault at all. Instead, I literally just get ghosted by the teachers I worked with. For example, the teacher I worked with at Wolf Meadow. The kids there made two such beautiful films: The grass is not trash and The desperate tale of the last tree snail.

At the very least, these films deserve to be championed by the people who were involved in making them. The kids were all fifth-graders who apparently don’t have emails or anything, so I don’t expect much from them. But my partner teacher! And the school principal! First, they said that we would have a viewing party for parents once the films were done. Well, when we actually reached that point, they cutely changed their minds … no, we can’t have a viewing party because only two of the five fifth-grade classes participated in this project, and if there’s a fifth-grade event happening, then a notice must be sent to all fifth-grade parents, and the parents of kids in the other three classes will be upset their kids didn’t participate. I mean, what kind of a lame excuse is that? No, actually, it’s very possible to just send a notice to the parents/families of the two fifth-grade classrooms I worked with. Gotta love rank inflexibility.

But I got over that, and my partner teacher said: oh, yeah, we’ll post the movies on the school website, and we’ll send an email to all the parents. Yeah, that is the very least you could do when your kids have just made two excellent animated films. Except even that never happened. I know, because the viewing counts never changed. I sent email reminders to my partner teacher and everything, but nothing. Can you believe it?

Then there was the time I was describing this project to a lady who’s part of a science communication network. She said, oh, the project sounds great. And she said, without me begging for it, that the science communication network she’s from run a blog, and would I like to write a blog post for them? Well, yes, I would. I emailed her twice after that to remind her, ask her about doing that, but of course she ghosted me, too, her and her exclusive little science communication club that people like me aren’t good enough to get into.

Then there was a man who ran in the same exclusive club circles. Let’s just call him Loser idiot stupid ugly moron. Well, me being me, I don’t learn my lessons the first time, so I was still panting after the exclusive club. Loser idiot stupid hateful moron tells me, and I quote: “This is so cool” [talking about the Animations with kids project] and “hope we find ways to cooperate” and “I was deeply moved, happy and proud” [while looking through my work] …. ahhh, shut up. He also blabbed a whole bunch about how he would talk to this and that person, and find partners for me, and he went into details! Like asking me, how much money will you need, and giving me ideas for film topics, and when would this happen? And he even did the thing, which is kind of rare, of answering my emails within a day. That honestly never happens.

Then after about a week of this, and me being really happy, he ghosted me, too. I hope he falls into a meat cleaver. He just stopped responding to all my emails, everything. If you ask me who I hate, his name will be the first mentioned.

 

I learned something new about writing grants

First, the “something old”: what did I already know about writing grants? It’s miserable and soul-sucking and the work of the devil.

And the “something new”? I learned that you should make yourself the ‘Founder and Executive Director’ of something, it doesn’t matter what, in fact, it can be something stupid and just hot air, just as long as you style yourself in that way.

Then make sure you talk about how your mission is to “understand, heal, and grow.”

And that you want to “connect allies.”

Also, wiggle your eyebrows around and look sad and innocent and appealing and angelic.

I mean, I get that these are all well-meaning people, but I’ve always been suspicious when people start spouting off the latest craze-words. Why don’t they notice how unoriginal they are coming across? But they get all the grants, so I guess no one seems to notice. It’s just me that’s annoyed about it.

Books I didn’t finish

I’ve decided that one New Year’s resolution should be the prevalence of grumpiness and bitterness throughout my days, that way I can ensure one resolution will come true.

To start: I keep a list of books that I’ve read, but let me also keep a list of books that were so bad I just gave up on them:

Juliet takes a breath, Gabby Rivera – I got to hear this author talk as part of a panel, and she seemed really cool, and her book sounded really cool, so I got it from the library. Now the first chapter or two were really good and well-written, but after that, things just fell apart. It was boring, and not making sense, and characters were just popping in and out. Now, surprises are fun in books, but this book did not have surprises – it just jerked you around sloppily because the organization of the writing didn’t make sense. So I put it down. Have you ever noticed that some books are very nicely and creatively written for the first two pages, but after that they fall down a hole (Twilight books, for example.) It’s like the author was ordered to go back and make the introduction especially well-crafted, so that no one would notice the rest of the book is just bad? This was one of them.

Gabby Rivera
Gabby Rivera is the one in the blue hat, and she’s really interesting in person. The other authors were Sarah Dessen and Lilliam Rivera.

A wrinkle in time, Madeleine L’engle – I’ve read quite a few of this author’s books that I liked, and since the ‘Wrinkle in time’ movie was coming out, I thought I should read it. However, how is it people like this book? It’s kind of ridiculous. I gave up about 70 or 100 pages in, after they’ve been flying on birds for a long time, and just happen to land on a planet, and they see a big dark cloud coming, and get scared. I mean, there is no sense of puzzle pieces fitting together. There’s just, oh, let’s land on this planet and make up something dangerous before we can get off it.

Six of crows, Leigh Bardugo – I saw a very intelligent girl rave about this book, so I thought, let me read it! Must be really good. Except it was not. I gave up after a chapter or two. I just had a sense of a very disjointed piece of work, that was unrelenting dark and humorless, and I just didn’t care if the main character got ambushed by rival gangs or not, and I really didn’t feel like reading scenes of violence just for the sake of the violence, with nothing else going on.

 

Failures

Failure #1. I have a PhD in science, tons of skills both technical and creative, and tons of experience, but I was rejected from a 3-month internship. Yes, that stung. They contacted me for an interview, and because of the time difference, I was dragged out of bed before dawn to prepare for it. I wish they had just not contacted me at all, then I could have gone along blithely assuming they’d just never bothered to inspect my application at all.

Failure #2. I thought I could come home to rural NC for a while and make animations with local kids, like this. If I may say so myself, this is a super-cool project where the kids do art, computer stuff, learn some science, and read all at once. And I do it for free. What kind of a teacher wouldn’t want that? Turns out all of them (nearly) where I live.

People says: “just go out and create your own opportunities!” Give me a break. I taught myself how to animate, and I came up with this project, and it is totally aligned with all the ‘STEAM’ and ‘STEM’ rhetoric going around. And then I go chase after teachers. And hardly anyone responds. So don’t come telling me about “creating opportunities”. I have found that you have to work extremely hard just to make 1 inch of progress—extremely hard as in you end up with a headache and are so tired you fall asleep without brushing your teeth and don’t have time to go the grocery store—just for moving forward one inch! At some point you realize it’s not worth it.

I am surprised at the lack of response. I had originally intended to make “Mr. Turtle” videos with kids in another place. Well, that place blew me off, so I couldn’t end up going. But before it blew me off, I emailed 50 libraries to potentially work with, and 13 responded. That’s not a great percentage, but at least it showed persistence would pay off.

Plus, as far as North Carolina is concerned, I have already done this project here twice. Once with a teacher whose husband worked in my university department; and once at the local library. So I thought surely if I emailed teachers in the town where I grew up and graduated high school from, at least some would bite. I think I’ve probably emailed 30 people and only 3 emailed back. One said ‘no thanks’. Okay. The second is a “maybe”, the third said she had to check with administrators and probably has since forgotten. The one “maybe” made me deliriously happy (for a day, until I realized it wasn’t heralding a change in fortunes). Some of the teachers I emailed are ones that taught my younger brothers. I mentioned that in my emails. You’d think they would answer me. You would be mistaken.

Now, today, with the Supreme Court hearing, it appears that the entire nation has decided to join me in failure, so I guess I can’t feel too exclusive and special.

People and their word

During our wrap-up in Washington DC, we had several interesting panels. One of them was about science videos. I asked two of them afterwards (a person from NPR and a person from PBS) if I could send them some of my science animations to get their feedback. There was a third person there, a lady from Vox, but she just looked so annoyed as I approached her that I didn’t bother.

The two others said they’d be happy to provide feedback. That was a month ago. An email to each and a follow-up, and I’ve heard nothing. Of course, you know in the back of your head that could happen, but when you meet someone in person and their nodding their head “yes” and smiling at you, you kind of have some more faith.

When people try giving advice, they love to tell you: reach out to everyone! People LOVE talking about themselves! People are SO flattered that you’d want their opinion. People would love to get back to you.

Who are these people and why are they trying to kid themselves and everyone else?

In the end, someone connected me to someone else who works at Pixar. We all three had an hour-long Skype chat (this person at least kept his word.) He looked at my animations and gave me lots of feedback. It was great, I got so many good tips and advice, I just feel like such a loser though and like I don’t know how to do anything.