Learning with TechWomen Team Tunisia

TechWomen Team Tunisia in San Jose, CA 2022-10-1
TechWomen Team Tunisia in San Jose, CA 2022-10-1

I am honored to help mentor five TechWomen Emerging Leaders from Tunisia during their visit to the USA. The U.S. State Department – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs – TechWomen program connects and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by providing them the access and opportunities to advance their careers and pursue their dreams.

So far, our team has spoken online, been to a kickoff event hosted by Twitter at their San Francisco headquarters (I got to wear the embroidered cape I bought in Tunisia in 2015), and enjoyed dinner together at my house in San Jose. We are learning about each other, and working on the project again online, Tuesday night! This term, I am happy to be a TechWomen Co-Mentor with Darpana Pendyala (Hardware Design Engineer, Marvell), and Priyanka Sahay (Director, Product Marketing, LinkedIn).

TechWomen Team Tunisia 2022-09-23
TechWomen Team Tunisia 2022-09-23
TechWomen Team Tunisia in San Jose, CA 2022-10-1
TechWomen Team Tunisia in San Jose, CA 2022-10-1

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Filed under Home & Family, Mentoring & Other Business, Mentoring Standard, News & Reviews

Last Day of Beatles Year

The lyrics of “When I’m Sixty-Four” by Paul McCartney of The Beatles start, “When I get older losing my hair, Many years from now, Will you still be sending me a Valentine, Birthday greetings bottle of wine. If I’d been out till quarter to three, Would you lock the door? Will you still need me, will you still feed me When I’m sixty-four?” Tonight, I end my Beatles Year!

I start my new half-decade tomorrow. Such a delightful adventure!

Jessica and Matthew wedding 2011
Jessica and Matthew wedding 2011

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Weight – Keeping Steady

Katy Dickinson, 22 Sep 2022
Katy Dickinson, 22 Sep 2022

I am about three months into my weight maintenance program. As I wrote earlier, I started using the Noom program for weight loss and wellness in October 2021 and lost about sixty pounds by July 2022. Last month, I realized that Noom does not really offer a weight maintenance program, so I shifted to using the free Fooducate nutrition and weight tracker.

Fooducate is working well for me. I like that the home page displays how many calories I have left to spend each day, and that I can save a regular meal so I don’t have to reenter the information if I eat the same selections again. I am trying to keep within two pounds on either side of my target weight (and not to get stressed if my weight bounces up and down a bit).

One surprise with this health improvement journey is that in some areas, my skin has contracted at a slower rate than my muscles and other parts. Sometimes, this feels like being inside a deflating balloon. However, with regular walking and weight maintenance, my skin has continued to contract, so I hope to reach equilibrium in time. While losing weight, I bought successively smaller sizes of Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda jeans – for sale prices – so I could compare progress. I started at size 18. In July when I reached my goal, I was a size 10 but have now shrunk to a size 8, at the same weight.

My son Paul and I put together list below for a friend who recently started a weight loss journey using Noom. (This only represents our experience – your mileage may vary. Use a program that works for your health and way of doing things and you will be more likely to stick with it.)

  • Remember to drink / log plenty of water daily, makes you feel more full (at least ten cups of liquid per day)
  • Drink water 30 minutes before each meal
  • Read the Noom daily lessons, take advice that makes sense to you, ignore the rest
  • Noom’s group discussion function can help you be accountable for taking regular walks
  • Figure out a portion size metric (volume vs. weight) that works best for you, stick to the one metric for simplicity
  • Weigh in every day, expect lots of fluctuations (even five pounds up or down in one week) because of water retention
  • Write down your key body measures at the start so you can compare later (bust, waist, hips, around upper arm and upper leg), and to help you know what size you are
  • Weigh in, & log water and food on Noom daily, even if you are frustrated, or stuck/ plateaued. Getting stuck at one weight for weeks or months seems to be a usual part of the journey.
  • Drink a big glass of water after you weigh in each morning.
  • If you are on vacation or away from a scale, you can just repeat you last weight each day to keep the pattern going
  • Buy some clothes that fit as you reach each new size so you feel good about making progress. Thredup online consignment and thrift store is a good choice – for both cost and fashion choices. If you don’t love a clothing item, or it does not fit properly, do not buy it. If you bought it online, return it! You need to be happy with yourself and how you look.
  • Buy clothes by measurement, not size. My key measures and shape are different than they were when I was last at my current weight.
  • Some Noom (and Fooducate) food database entries are unrealistically low or high in calories – I think these are user-entered. When in doubt, break it down – log not a whole “serving” portion but the components (for example: green salad “serving” may be made up of mixed leafy greens + dressing + croutons, you can find individual calorie counts for each)
  • Walk or exercise every day and carry your smart phone so the steps count, to give you a better idea of how much you actually move. I use the Apple Health app on my iPhone which can share information with both Noom and Fooducate.
  • Add extra exercise under Noom’s “Track More Progress” if you do yard work, or exercise without your smart phone
  • On Noom, you can set “weight loss speed” under Noom settings (three lines at upper left of screen) from tortoise to cheetah, in case you want to go slower or faster

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TechWomen Team Tunisia (Fall 2022)

Next week, I will meet five TechWomen Emerging Leaders from Tunisia whom I will help mentor during their visit to the USA. The U.S. State Department – Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs – TechWomen program connects and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by providing them the access and opportunities to advance their careers and pursue their dreams. Three of us have been invited to coach these senior technical women in developing the project they will take home. This is my second time being an Impact Coach for Tunisia – our 2016 team developed a project to improve transport in Tunis. I was also a member of the 2015 TechWomen Delegation to Tunisia. I have been a TechWomen mentor since 2010 when I served as the TechWomen Process Architect – it is such an inspiring and fulfilling program. I am so looking forward to meeting the new Team Tunisia!

Africus carving, Dougga Roman ruins, Tunisia 2015
Africus carving, Dougga Roman ruins, Tunisia 2015

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2 Summer Trips

John Plocher, Katy Dickinson, Loon Lake, Wisconsin June 2022
John Plocher, Katy Dickinson, Loon Lake, Wisconsin June 2022

Our family went on two short trips this summer. John and visited the Plocher family at Loon Lake, Wisconsin, in June. At the end of August, John and I and our kids took a road trip through Northern-Northern California, including a ride on the Skunk Train from Willets. John and Paul and I were in one car and Jessica and Matthew were in another.

Loon Lake, Wisconsin

Plocher family, Loon Lake, Wisconsin June 2022
Plocher family, Loon Lake, Wisconsin June 2022

California Road Trip

Dickinson family, Willits, California, August 2022
Dickinson family, Willits, California, August 2022

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Filed under Caboose Project and Other Trains, Home & Family

I Choose to be Incarcerated

CIC stickers and bracelets, Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy, 10 Sep 2022 training
CIC stickers and bracelets, Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy, 10 Sep 2022 training

Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy‘s training was held last weekend: Going In, Staying In jail ministry training is for new and returning volunteers and focuses on orientation to chaplaincy and facility updates as well as context specific skill building such as trauma informed ministry and cultural humility. The training is free and open to all over the age of 21. The opening meditation titled “Choosing to Incarcerate Yourself” was presented by CIC Associate Director & Facility Chaplain, Angel Hernandez. Green bracelets saying “I Choose to be Incarcerated – CIC Ministries Jail Chaplains” were distributed.

I was inspired by Chaplain Angel’s talk, especially when he said: “We have these ministry trainings so that as Chaplains, you need to choose incarceration as well. Not like those that are incarcerated, and not like those who have families inside. You choose the surroundings of incarceration in order to be with those inside. We have these ministry trainings so that you can understand what it is like to be inside… We are a ministry that seeks out people that choose incarceration. That know that their rights are left, like their phones, like their smart watches, their rights are left in the car. We look for people that allow the direction of the law inside to have the authority, regardless of the title you have worked so hard to attain on the outside. We look for people who are willing to humble themselves…. As you consider being a chaplain, or if you have been a chaplain for some time, we ask that you understand that you choose incarceration to then be inspiration to those inside. Hebrews 13:3: “Remember those in prison as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.”

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Fixing What Doesn’t Show

Starting construction, 19 July 2022
Starting construction, 19 July 2022

John Plocher and I are in the process of fixing up our 90-year-old Spanish Mission style home in Willow Glen (San Jose, California). One of the duties of homeownership is maintenance, particularly fixing what does not show. We just completed Phase One of a maintenance project, including adding new French drains to redirect water away from the house, repairing some rocky tiles on the side porch, replacing a front porch post, adding better support for the ground floor so that the front door opens all the way, and replacing a walkway-with-a-step with a ramp. This work will not meet the realtors’ goal of “increasing the value of your home” for resale, but since this is our family’s forever home, it is enough that the work increases its comfort and value to us. We got virtual tours of the ongoing work under the house using FaceTime.

Some of maintenance challenges come from ours being an old (if well-built) house, and others from the land being part of the original Willow Glen swamp of the Guadalupe River. The ground shifts annually with seasonal moisture changes, causing stucco cracks and sometimes making doors stick. The most unhappy person with the construction has been Princess, our porch cat, who resented the disruption of her royal domain. Phase Two is being planned now!

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