Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Girls getaway to the Portland Pen show

In July, Isis the wonder dog, my mom, and I took off to Oregon for a whirlwind 36 hours at the Portland Pen Show. I love writing with fountain pens and wanted to look for one with an extra fine nib to add to my cache.

Most American stores that carry fountain pens only carry them in fine, medium and bold, but there are many more sizes and styles available, particularly in Europe and Japan, where fountain pens are still used by a greater percentage of the population.

Here’s Portland Pen Show organizer Carla Mortenson, who again did a fabulous job pulling this together. I missed the seafood buffet Friday night, but the Saturday post-show spread was just as tasty.
This is a small, regional show, but it’s also more intimate and not as potentially overwhelming as the big city shows. So I felt comfortable taking my mom without fear that she’d be bored or might be put off by the pen-focused conversations. I needn’t have worried. First of all, she can strike up a conversation with anyone. Second, pen show participants are about the nicest, most open folks around.

There were many familiar and new faces who welcomed us both warmly. Among them, Sherrell Tyree and her brother Joel Hamilton, seen here helping a fellow pen aficionado find just the right one.
They have a cool online shop called Inkpen Vintage Fountain Pen where they sell pens, books, and more, and also do repairs.

Upon hearing that mom is a lefty (considered by some to be poorly suited to fountain pen writing because some lefties drag their hand through freshly-written and instantly smeared lines), Joel proffered a pen perfectly suited for her and let her give it a whirl. Nicer?! And she could instantly feel how much better it glided across the page than a standard ballpoint or rollerball. She liked it, but she’s not ready to dive into the fountain pen niche just yet.

I also chatted with John Mottishaw again, pen repair and adjustment guru extraordinaire who I met at my first pen show.
He did my first fountain pen modification last year through his http://www.nibs.com/ site and I'm hooked. Here's John getting an up close view of a pen in need of adjustment.Using a fountain pen that's been modified to fit your hand and handwriting style is like the difference between buying clothes off the rack and getting them tailored to fit you.

The weather in Portland that weekend was near 90, which is not the best for a dark dog like Isis, as we found out when she overheated and lost her recently ingested lunch and water under my seat while we sat at an outdoor restaurant in the Pearl District. Oops.

I simply chalked it up as good practice for the inevitable baby stomach and diaper explosions to come and snagged a couple plastic baggies from the car, cleaned up the mess, washed my hands, and continued with our day. But we were glad to be able to take her to our dog-friendly hotel (The La Quinta Inn by the Convention Center) afterwards where she could chill out with some AC (literally) while we hit the show.
The next day, my mom walked the trails at the Grotto while I returned to the show to retrieve a pen that caught my eye the day before. It's a Sheaffer from the 1980s or so that has an ultra fine nib that's been modified to be both sharp and smooth: no small feat. It writes like a dream and has become my new favorite. See below for what my husband calls fountain pen porn shots. Pen aficionados: try not to drool on the keyboard. Everyone else: try not to nod off.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Awards, articles and generational differences

It's been a busy couple months, besides the whole growing a baby thing. I received the National Urban League's Western Region Member of the Year award for my volunteer work with the Seattle Urban League Young Professionals (SULYP).

Our chapter also received the Western Region Chapter of Excellence Award based on our leadership development, community impact, membership development, fund development and communications, and our President Felicia Kline received the Western Region Heineken USA Rising Star award for her policy paper on the importance and effectiveness of the Community Reinvestment Act. A local community paper the Seattle Medium had a story about it here.

The awards were given out at the National Urban League's conference in St. Louis in July, which I missed (too late in the pregnancy to fly). But here's a shot of me, SULPY's founding president, SULYP's current president, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle President and CEO James Kelly, former SULYP Secretary, and Education Committee Chair at last year's conference in Atlanta, which was incredibly informative.
In late July, I learned I'd had an article published in Urban Influence Magazine (the National Urban League's magazine) about the digital divide in the Black community. I believe there was a 400 word limit, so it's no comprehensive piece, but I think it came out fine. Click image for larger version.
And finally, in August, I was one of the eight women featured in a Seattle Times article for their Gender F section that focuses on women's issues. You can read the full article here and the other related articles on the Seattle Times' Gender F website.
Talking across the gap
Generations chat about stereotypes, cluelessness and cleavage

In the article, writer Michelle Goodman talked with women from several different generations about how they relate to each other in the workplace. Michelle is a longtime freelance writer who has a great book and website (both called The Anti 9 to 5 Guide) about how to transition to part-time, flextime, at-home, outdoor, overseas, nonprofit, or self-employed work so you can build the life you want without spending all your time chained to a cubicle. Read more here: http://www.anti9to5guide.com/

It was fascinating to be part of the discussion and hear about how the work world has changed for many of the women who've been at it a while, as well as hearing from the younger ladies about how their approach to work is so different from earlier generations - even mine.

The most experienced woman in the group talked about the days of having to wear a full girdle, conservative skirt suit, hosiery and pumps every day when she started out, even though she worked in a construction-related industry.

In contrast, some of the younger women said they feel it's okay to express themselves through their attire, even in a sexy way, because "it's just clothes and just who we are." My comments on that are in the article.

Even though I'm glad I (and Hillary) helped get the word 'cleavage' in a headline in a major daily paper, frankly, I think the pendulum has swung too far to the "flaunt what ya' got" side where daytime/workplace clothing is concerned.

In their defense, one of the young women on the panel said, "But look at Sex in the City! They dress cute but sexy." Yeah, they're also on premium cable after 9 p.m., not sitting across a conference table in a position of authority or across a service counter in a workplace. I think some young women don't get that there's a time and a place for certain fashions.

Case in point, this month's Cosmo Magazine's Fashion section with the headline: The Heat Is On - These low-cut, barely buttoned clothes are racy enough to grab any guy's attention. So true: they are racy and attention-grabbing. And I might consider sporting the white micro cardigan, bra, shorts and six inch platforms the next time I'm poolside on the Riviera with my hubby. But not when I head to the office, where no one should be wearing clothing that requires waxing any body part between their knees and neck. This goes double for you guys.