Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Discomfort, delivered via gigantic gratitude.

Attention Readers


Spoiler Alert: this blog post brought to you with DEEP #gratitude for a marriage of Adobe products and various approaches to screen reader accessibility with special appreciation for links from a table of contents to articles and links back to the Table of contents in the latest electronic issue of Western Friend.  These links require some extra effort for editor Mary Klein and rantWoman deeply appreciates the effort. Those of you who only read Quaker publications for occasional invitations into esoteric meditations on our various content presentation / publication of Truth technologies are invited to skip to the Technical minutia heading.


What? You looked and there is no Technical minutia heading? I am sure there is a technical minutia heading. It is near the bottom. I am sure of it.


But first a special announcement: This blog will be taking a break from augmenting and documenting massive interpersonal consternation and praying for paths through. Please welcome both a moment of #gratitude and a technological “what the HELL?” No, you may not have the gratitude without the technological WTF. They are a package. You have won today’s daily blindness tourism lottery.


What? You think Quakers do not do games of Chance? You think you forgot to buy a ticket?  You feel like you have come home with someone else’s laundry and are wondering how the heck this lottery applies to YOU.


Does it help to think of God grabbing someone by the fingers and emailing YOU, maybe emailing YOU along with a bunch of people you daintily might rather not email with? On Planet RantWoman God not only is like that, God reminds people regularly that there are many other modes of divine presence besides “God as Personal Butler.” God frequently convinces RantWoman of the value of shared conversation, of specific contributions possible from everyone invited into the sacred space of electronic conversation or electronic conversation spilling over onto phone or live conversation. And we will not even discuss highly intrusive manifestations of the divine such as winter storms, volcanic eruptions, floods and even honking cars and bus born anthropology projects.


For now, consider something a bit gentler, this wonderful quote from an article called The Strengthening Power of Discomfort by Christine Betz Hall in the November December 2018 issue Western Friend:

A friend of mine bicycled 2,700 miles this summer along the Continental Divide. In an article she wrote for the Fairbanks Daily News Miner (8/12/2018), she said,“When doing endurance races, I have a question I ask myself when I want to quit: ‘Am I in danger or just uncomfortable?’ If I’m just uncomfortable, I tell myself to keep going. Things will get better. And they usually do.”



My friend’s observation about the positive role that discomfort can play in athletics is similar to observationsI have made in my work with participants in the Way of the Spirit program, which I direct. Learning to benefit from discomfort is an important aspect of spiritual growth.


I am a complete and enthusiastic cheerleader

for spiritual discomfort.


I am a complete and enthusiastic cheerleader for spiritual discomfort – especially the discomfort that comes from engaging in non-dangerous “stretches” with others that reach across faith divisions, from exploring our different from discomfort is an important aspect of spiritual growth. I am a complete and enthusiastic cheerleader for spiritual discomfort – especially the discomfort that comes from engaging in non-dangerous “stretches” with others that reach across faith divisions, from exploring our different experiences of the Life and Power of the Holy.


Back to Planet RantWoman and today’s excellent high quality blindness tourism excursion. What ? You think you did not choose to be here? You clicked on the link. Or your came to worship. Or God plonked you in the vicinity of RantWoman!


RantWoman understands that many of you are already in PAIN and complaining mightily about being dragged along on this excursion. RantWoman cannot guarantee a pain-free journey. This corner of Planet RantWoman is long and rocky, sometimes a long cavern full of bat guano, dripping stalactites, weird lighting, rocky treacherous paths. RantWoman does NOT intentionally inflict pain, but RantWoman does believe in gravity, in physics, in sometimes things happen. RantWoman thinks she has been TRYING to offer suggestions to minimize discomfort, but it is possible Planet RantWoman needs to try something different with the Communications director.


The RantWoman office of blindness tourism also has a customer service division, albeit a sort of erratic and unreliable customer service office. RantWoman is sorry but the blindness tourism customer service is not very good at detecting pain if people do not speak up in their own words. RantWoman had to remind herself of this recently and did speak up and received an adequate apology. Alas RantWoman also feels she is OWED some apologies. RantWoman thinks she is owed some apologies by people who keep discounting RantWoman’s experience and jumping up and down on things RantWoman has already, she thinks multiple times tried to make clear. But RantWoman digresses to the realms of other excursions in the Blindness tourism catalog.


The Blindness Tourism Customer Service office is also really bad at dealing with secondhand PAIN. RantWoman is so bad at dealing with secondhand PAIN that she is about to tell anyone who brings secondhand pain on someone else’s behalf that RantWoman needs to hear directly from the individual in pain. RantWoman things the bringers of secondhand pain may have a valuable role as spiritual accompaniment while pain is discussed, but RantWoman is no longer going to interact with secondhand pain.


Technological esoterica

[Planet RantWoman has been known occasionally to joke. At the beginning of this post, RantWoman promised a different heading, Technical minutia. The heading delivered above is Technical Esoterica. This kind of text shift happens all the time in the world of accessibility. Developers mean to be consistent, but they do not always manage and it helps to plan on a little guesswork sometimes.]

Planet RantWoman sightseeing may include collision with a number of different technologies. RantWoman has done tech support for decades on a number of different platforms. Tech support requires precise descriptions of the technologies and behaviors involved. Planet RantWoman technological excursions may get boring. But they are part of the experience customers have bought into. Tonight’s offerings:


  1. RantWoman received the Western Friend issue as an attachment in Gmail. This is GREAT because  in windows 10, IE 11, JAWS 2018 (are readers bored yet?) using the Gmail view as HTML option, all the articles have their own links and RantWoman was able to send her screen reader straight to the article she wanted to reread. Less time getting to the content one is interested means MORE time for tending the substance of one’s Light.  Not like RantWoman would benefit from, say, time with an editor or anything like that.
  2. RantWoman was able to find the Western Friend email attachment on her Android Phone. RantWoman tried to read it with either Drive PDF viewer or with Acrobat. Both produced unsatisfactory results RantWoman is not going to troubleshoot.
  3. RantWoman also downloaded the PDF from the Western Friend website both to her phone and to her Windows machine. Something is imperfect on both platforms, but RantWoman needs to stop for now.

The short version, despite #a11y (electronic accessibility) imperfections on several paths and having to go through many steps other people never think about, RantWoman has been able to read the whole issue of Western Friend and then navigate around enough to go back to one article without rereading the whole issue. RantWoman is VERY grateful.

Now Readers, please read the rest of the article about discomfort. Read the other articles too if led. Andp please consider this exhortation an invitation to live conversation.


In Light and faithfulness.




Sunday, November 11, 2018

What to say?

Excerpt from one email thread.


“Friend, RantWoman does not want so many reasons to think you are an idiot!”


Thought question: Does RantWoman actually think this Friend is an idiot????


Spoiler alert: despite EVERYONE else’s interpretations, NO!  RantWoman sincerely apologizes.


This Friend seems to be a very smart techie and one who at least thinks of himself as having better than average people skills. RantWoman cannot evaluate actual workplace performance but DID recently send a business-themed question as one possible path past stuck points. For now, as much of RantWoman’s opinion as can be blogged of without mentioning questions which arose in a workplace context.


Cue digressions! Friend does not work for Google, but Google news is sufficient metaphor{:  Carly Fiorina’s experience about being taken seriously or not,  Google Dude’s MANifesto, the latest on Google and Sexual harassment, RantWoman’s meditations on women in tech, middle aged workers and millennials, inclusive workplaces, the podcast Battle tactics for your Sexist Workplace, the Star Trek Next Generation episode where the Alien of the Week can only speak in metaphors, oh, and a musical threesome with Hector Villa Lobos, Astor Piazolo, and Richard Wagner as performed on classical guitar.


RantWoman, the NOT idiot? And not the Dostoevsky one!


If RantWoman had the SLIGHTEST desire, RantWoman would not have to look very far for reasons to consider this Friend an idiot. But RantWoman tries to add up data in different slices.



Consider a slightly edited example of a gratitude RantWoman expressed recently in reference to life in Meeting:


 It has taken YEARS but one person in a key role has evolved. There was one moment in a meeting where Friend spectacularly missed the point about accessibility. This Friend used to try to fit phone conversations into late evening juggling with dinner with spouse. Then he needed to be texted multiple times in a week to get to one phone call. Then he graduated to evening phone calls on the Saturday night before business meeting. Then there was a months long dance trying to schedule a meeting. The Friend did not either read his email or consult his calendar and the meeting had to be rescheduled. And then other dramas and fiascoes ensued with another person part of the meeting. But FINALLY in recent months, this Friend has actually shown up IN PERSON to TWO meetings. For which as a first step, RantWoman wants to express UNDYING gratitude.


Please forgive RantWoman for unrealistic expectations about communications subtlety, poorly calibrated sarcasm filter, underdeveloped suck up reflex, malfunctioning Excessively Plain English to Quakeres translator, and assorted other interpersonal sins. RantWoman is trying to be faithful to her Light as kindly as possible. As kindly as possible? Yes, reality is pretty scary. RantWoman is sorry; for now that is the best she can do.


Further Light: RantWoman actually has a sense of this Friend needing HELP, but RantWoman is unclear how to cause that to occur. RantWoman thinks teamwork is on point somehow, but RantWoman is a slow learner about Teamwork. RantWoman keeps expressing the thought that dads are pretty important. Then RantWoman again trips over her own father issues and has NO further Light about how to tend the fathers concern in general.


Please hold the whole circus in the Light.


In Light and Faithfulness.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Beads. Blind spots. Adults

RantWoman has been sitting with meditations the nature of vocal ministry and Friends’ expectationws of same, including feedback RantWoman has heard. RantWoman has also been considering the nature of ministry during the two weeks of the Brett Kavanagh confirmation process. The following is RantWoman’s experience. Others’ mileage may vary. In fact, far from being distressed by others’ points of view about a given week’s worship, RantWoman is sometimes very grateful and intrigued to see something from a different perspective.


Week 1.

Settle into worship. Wonder how many people in the room are triggered out of their minds. Settle.


Nature Just Wow Friend. male: “I was out in the woods and looked up at the stars. Just Wow!”


Glad I Am Here Friend, who has another nom de blog: long windy maybe dream sequence message making RantWoman wonder repeatedly where his message is headed. Then winding up, I come into a circle and isn’t it wonderful we are all here?”


(Um, Guys, there is a room full of women who, I am guessing, would be thrilled to hear the voices of guys who get it, but okay…)


More silence.


Three messages from women: as RantWoman heard them


--“small shifts in how we view situations can make a big difference.”


--Small things add up to big things.


(Somewhere RantWoman fell asleep briefly. Sigh)


--RantWoman: a message about 5 beads to string together. RamtWoman now has no memory of exactly what the 5 beads were but does recall that they would not obviously fit together and at least one of them contained allusions to World Events.


Close worship.


During joys and concerns, Young Adult Friend:

“Does anyone know where I can go to express Grief and Rage?”


Feedback to RantWoman:


Friend 1: Thank you for the 5 beads.


Friend 2, the next day: “I don’t like your 5 beads.”


RantWoman to herself: ” You don’t like? Take it up with God!  Or as Buddhist Friends would say, what is that reaction trying to teach you? “ RantWoman is grateful for the conversation that followed even though things got pretty testy on both sides. RantWoman invites Friend of the Small Changes in Outlook above to meditate upon her views of RantWoman’s blog with that thought in mind.


The following week, definitely not saving Grief and Rage for Joys and Concerns


(All meeting long, RantWoman meditations about Ivy League university students, drunken irresponsible behavior, behavior, the academic provenance of Supreme Court judges. For the record, RantWoman and3 sitting judges all attended the same university and RantWoman’s time on campus overlapped with the career of one of them.)


First out of the block, Grief and Rage. RantWoman apologizes for not being able to be more specific but it was stirring and real.


Message about raising better boys and smarter girls


Message about local politician dislodged due to allegations of a drunken groping of some kind.


(RantWoman thinks there were some other messages but in her self-absorbed fog has wiped them from accessible memory.)


Silence: the hour is ending but the children have not yet joined adult worship.


RantWoman rises to speak. RantWoman speaks of:


--underage drinking among overprivileged youth and among youth in general.


--“A sense of I do not know…”  about many things, whether things will be as bad as they are being painted…

--the academic provenance of the Supreme court, geographic diversity or lack thereof on the Supreme  Court, college political activism while one Justice was in the student government. 


--the evolution of many things to do with women’s representation in academia


--bomb threats when organizing events about the Middle east and an implied thought that Quakers taking an hour and a half to figure out how to pray seemed preferable.


Yes, OF COURSE it was going to be a crap shoot to see whether it would all hang together, but Fear Not! God intervened?


RantWoman had heard kid noise but then not heard it. That is the children are doing a nice job of gathering in quiet before they enter worship. Okay, some of them get squirmy as soon as they enter but this time, Interrupting Friend growled at RantWoman that he saw the adult across the room checking while children were waiting.


Adult? RantWoman has no idea that an adult checks because she cannot see across the room.


Furthermore, if the point of asking children to wait is not to interrupt messages, RantWoman felt clear to tell Interrupting Friend  in email while asking others in email to uphold the exchange, that she considered his interruption RUDE. RantWoman also asked whether the problem was that he did not like or understand the message.


Interrupting Friend assured RantWoman he had a message from God. RantWoman is not in a position to evaluate. If a Friend says the message they receive is from God, RantWoman, unlike someone else in her email stream,would never presume to disagree. God appearing RUDE is not out of the realm of possibility for RantWoman and RantWoman also recalls that the faith tradition was founded by someone known for capacity in others’ churches to be RUDE for hours at a time.


Back to the Children.


Another Friend chimed in that waiting to enter was a pain. Sorry. RantWoman is an oldest child. Children get to wait sometimes. Cope!


Then God sent a message to RantWoman, “WAIT JUST A MINUTE!”


Is RantWoman the only person it is not RUDE to interrupt????


It is not rude to interrupt RantWoman because:


--one does not like or understand the message, a possible interpretation still stuck in RantWoman’s head?


--because our children want to enter…?


What the hell kind of example does THAT set for children?


RantWoman was a nerdy kid. RantWoman liked the part in the New Testament about “let the children come” because adults were often much more interesting than other children. This includes going to worship, though that also came with psychodrama.


RantWoman likes Quakers because of ASKING children about their experiences and taking their experience seriously.  RantWoman wants to know children might be wanting to enter even if she is speaking. RantWoman is interested in knowing whether kids think yet about offering messages.


 RantWoman does not want to undo months of work about learning to enter worship gently.  RantWoman is not clear there should be different rules for RantWoman than for other people. RantWoman generally does find interruptions RUDE and the process of being faithful to a message is challenging enough without interruptions. But RantWoman would like the possibility of a way to stop, breathe, invite the children to enter and then resume the message.


And right now RantWoman has no freaking idea how to accomplish this. RantWoman for many reasons is not automatically easy with phone conversations.


A key point of contact has TOLD RantWoman that all of RantWoman’s email goes to spam. RantWoman’s Excessively Plain English to Quakerese filter melts about this point, but it comes on the heels of over a year of colossally missing the point about the accessibility aspects of conference calls, alternately demanding to meet in person and then not being able to find time in a busy schedule and then multiple other fiascoes including a terminology flipout documented somewhere in these here hallowed electronic emanations.


In other words, there is room for many of us to…g.g.grow!


For now, please just hold this whole circus in the Light.



Thursday, November 8, 2018

Predictable? Whiny? Memorial, in EXTREMELY tiny print.

Is RantWoman going to be too predictable?

How many accessibility issues is RantWoman likely to be tempted to have a tirade about?

RantWoman could consider the possibility that this handout was created by grievintg family. Even so, a large percentage of those in attendance at the memorial mentioned were in the same age bracket as the deceased Friend and might well have found teeny tiny print on a quarter sheet handout as inaccessible and annoying as RantWoman does.

Photo of handout in teeny tiny print
created for a recent memorial

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Renaming? Righteousness? Dlscenment

Muddling and Complacency?


RantWoman is still sitting with her twitch about what to do with certain committee names—besides get rid of the dreaded O word.


On one hand, for the next few weeks to live out testimonies on Integrity, Equality, Community RantWoman feels called to urge everyone she knows to factcheck EVERYTHING and amplify the voices of people bearing the worst ravages of the current regime, to reach out beyond our bubbles, to encourage people all over the country to get out and vote, to know what voter suppression efforts are going on and to do everything possible to counteract them.


On the other hand, the renaming of a certain committee was delegated to said committee without suggestion to consult the Peace and Social Concerns committee or whatever the Ad-Hoc Committee on eradicating Racism is called. A timeline for making a decision is approaching. RantWoman has NO, zip ZERO leading to attend the meeting where a recommendation is expected to be approved. So RantWoman may just have to live at least for now with whatever decision emerges. (SIGH! Whine. Grumble! Murmur!) But RantWoman deeply wishes someone else might also be afflicted with RantWoman’s twitches to:


  1. Think about what the words of a chosen name have meant historically and what they mean or conceal today. (Hint: changing a committee name alone does not win the battle for equality and against white supremacy / racism.)
  2. Think about what message we want to be sending out into the world in choosing a new name.


RantWoman in fact prefers to think she would be perfectly fine with just leaving the committee name “The ? Committee” for now while friends are discerning. RantWoman says this in great humility because besides, the twitch above about witness and the midterm elections, RantWoman has lalmost no bandwidth just now to research and wordsmith about what other Yearly Meetings call said committee.


One reason RantWoman has no leading to show up at the meeting where the committee renaming is on the agenda: RantWoman will be attending a memorial for someone RantWoman has previously labelled Righteous Anger Friend. Righteous Anger Friend and his wonderful bride Mrs. Righteous Anger friend moved to Seattle partly, RantWoman has surmised, because of magnetic grandchildren—and their parents.


The couple earns RantWoman’s boundless respect though because they showed up every year until illness stole their ability to do so at Seattle’s annual Martin Luther King Day celebration, not something just every retired professor couple even thinks of doing.  In terms of people discovering our Meeting at many different stages of life, Righteous Anger Friend makes RantWoman smile. He did not feel particularly called to master the nuances of Quakerese. Instead one of his favorite comments was “My Spirituality is Music, Art, and Revolution!”


In that spirit, RantWoman is unclear how best to Let Our Lives Speak particularly as regards the name of certain (quarterly and yearly meeting) committees. Let the discernment continue?




[Yes, readers, RantWoman has fallen down on her promise to deliver daily disability related resources. Readers into the Twitter are invited to look up RantWoman’s Twitter name, read the Disability and Accessibility lists, check out any of the blogs mentioned in the profiles of people on these lists. Readers can also try the hashtags #CripTheVote #CripLit #PWD #DisabilityInChurch. That is enough or even too much for one day.[

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Dreaded O word again

Friends in the vicinity of RantWoman are in the process of renaming the committees now called Ministry and Oversight in RantWoman’s quarterly and yearly meetings, and RantWoman is again overachieving on the insufferability front.


RantWoman’s problem this time: RantWoman admits to being fond of the wor Oversight in the sense of “oops, well” because the phrase just covers a lot that one might prefer not to have to deal with .However, RantWoman is fine with removing the dreaded O word in the name of reducing the harm of the word’s association with racial injustice. But as long as committees are being renamed in the name of racial justice, RantWoman would be terribly grateful if Friends can think about whatever words get used. Do not just rename the committees Ministry and Counsel because “all” the other Quaker kids do that. All that does is leave the naming with the same level of racism permeating the Religious Society of Friends.


 Instead, how about a thoughtful discussion of the history of the terms used, how meaing in Quaker context might be different from other faith concepts, how whatever name we choose speaks to a priesthood of all believers, being patterns and examples for the world, that of God within all… See, RantWoman is a word nerd. She can geek out all day about questions like this.


That is RantWoman used to be able to geek out all day about this kind of linguistic research. Now RantWoman cannot read for herself and has to prevail upon others in hope sthatthey will be seized by the same curiosity afflicting RantWoman or at least that hanging out with RantWoman will be enough fun to justify the afternoon. Okay this is RantWoman, so…


RantWoman appreciates people on the Facebook Quakers group who pointed RantWoman to a greek word that means bishop and that has been preserved with the word Oversight. RantWoman would find it interesting to hear Friends think about the meaning and history of whatever words are proposed for the committee name. RantWoman has no idea where to look. RantWoman may manage, grumpily, to live with whatever name(s) get proposed, but as RantWoman said, she would be delighted if some conversation goes a little more in depth first.


In Light and Faithfulness