Wait, What just happened, America?

17 Nov

OK, I am getting woke.   I had to look up what that means in the urban dictionary.  I’m going to speak my own experience, as a white person who actually “liked” Hillary  Clinton and I guess that I thought more white people thought like I do, or at least enough people would to elect her in. I ignored the vitriol coming off my Facebook feed because I don’t unfriend people, but I thought being in Texas, whites were going to lean more conservative, so I ignored it. I’ve never been a revolutionist. Political revolutions that actually make things better are rare. However, the more I learn about Stephen Bannon, the more I understand how coordinated the efforts of the propaganda arm of the new regime are, and the more I understand the fake news industry, the more I realize a lot of people were just duped into believing Hillary Clinton was some sort of villain that she really wasn’t because, you know, emails.  I get if you are not happy with the status quo, how she wouldn’t be your choice.  I am for equity for all people, a place at the table, and I want a better understanding when marginalized, scapegoated, people of color are not getting a fair shake.  #NopeNewAmerica


A Feminist House Frau? Really?

16 Dec

So…I am a soon to be stay at home mom.  I’m staying home now, but my baby isn’t due in May.   I really don’t have a set career game plan right now, though I am thinking about ways of monetizing Offworlders.

Does being a SAHM mean I’m not a feminist?  No way, Ms. Steinem.  I am right there witcha.  I am realizing this is a great time to step up and mastermind my feminist agenda.  The lynchpin of my nefarious plan,  parenting my son to be a man who respects women and their boundaries.

Feminism is an oft maligned concept because of the radical feminist stereotype. Many women reject feminism based on the idea that it is too antagonistic to the men in their lives, too unfeminine, that only women who hate men and have long luxuriant, armpit hair are feminists.  Personally, I am not too worried about antagonizing men because I can’t control how other people feel about my opinions.  At the same time, I think it is only right to call attention to sexist ideas so we can, as a society, dialogue and move past them. 

In 2013, women still have obstacles to overcome.  There is still an income gap, girls are still harassed on the street, date rape still exists.  Not to say that men are never judged for their looks, but women are objectified and bullied for their looks more so than ever in this digital age.   Women are judged both for putting their career before their families and for “slacking” at work to take care of their families.

I want to give legs to my beliefs. First of all, from time to time, I’d like to post on my blog about uplifting and provocative feminists thought, advice, and news.  I think my blogs will have both local and global focus. We are living in a global society, so if girls are forced into marriages at 11 years old in India, or if punk rock girls are jailed in Russia for their provocative feminist protests, it affects all of us. We feel the influence as a global community, in attitudes of how women should think, look, feel and especially in what they are allowed to say.

Here is a first step in bring you cool feminist news.  I found two really cool feminist sites on the internet. 

1) A page about gender wage gap and how to close it. Both through negotiation seminars and education.


2) If you have ever been catcalled on the street, or felt sexually threatened, this is a good site to know your rights.   If pervy types  are not ever held accountable for harrassment, then there is no real stick for them to quit, is there?


Finally, I’d like to get out there and volunteer for a non-profit that protects the rights of girls and women.   I’m just starting to research on potential feminist volunteer opportunities in Austin, TX, so if anyone has any ideas, let me know!

Flax Seed Meal….Why?

18 Aug

So, I’ve been downright awful at posting on my blog, but I have to start somewhere.

Lets talk about food baby… lets talk about you and food, lets talk about all the good things and the bad things to put in you (your tummy that is)…lets talk about food…

I actually made something pretty yummy today out of Flax Seed Meal.  Why?  Well “THEY” keep saying that it flax seed is good for you (Omega-3 fats) and I like the nutty flavor of flax seeds.    I saw a big bin of flax seed meal at Sprouts and impulsed purchased a pound or so.

It had sat in my pantry a few weeks and I had no idea what to do with it.   I finally settled on pancakes and wow, tasty.    I modified another recipe that I found with multiple substitutions (because I’m too lazy to run to the store).  Therefore, I’m calling it mine.

Flaxseed Meal Pancakes with Strawberry Compote

Dry Ingredients

2 cups Strawberries (fresh or frozen)

2/3 cup Flax seed meal

1 1/3 cup wheat flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

2 eggs

1/3 cup yogurt (or 1/4 cup buttermilk)

1 cup sugar ( try Turbdinado Sugar)

2 cups water (1 cup as needed to thin batter and 1 cup for compote)

1 tablespoon veggie oil (l used Extra Light tasting Olive Oil but oh…coconut oil sounds  good)

Non stick spray

Butter or whipped cream (for topping, but if those are too sinful, do without…poor you)

Pan or Griddle

Gas or electric stove




Chair to sit on when you eat delicious pancakes….Ok maybe I’m going overboard with the ingredients.

1.  Mix all the dry ingredients together making sure the baking soda, salt, and baking powder are really well distributed.

2. Add apple sauce to dry mix.

3.  Heat 2 cups of water with 1 cups of sugar until sugar is dissolved. Lets start calling that simple syrup.

4.  Add about 1 cup of the heated simple syrup to the dry mixture and keep the rest on the stove over medium heat.

5.  Let the flax seed meal mixture cool a little because your about to add 2 eggs, and you don’t want to get that gross cooked stringy things in your pancake.

6.  Add 2 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen) to the simple syrup on the stove.  Mash them up good with a fork or maybe a potato masher.  Lets start calling this stuff the strawberry compote.

7.  Add 2 eggs to the meal mixture.  Mix it all up good enough so that there aren’t any egg white streaks.

8. Add some extra water to the meal mixture if you need to for proper pouring consistency.

9.  Heat up your griddle or pancake pan to about medium high.  (I used some oil in the pan, but a non-stick spray would have been better)

10.  Just start pouring those suckers on the griddle, and wait for a lot of bubbles to turn them over.

11.  Come back to your strawberry compote.  If its too runny, add some more sugar and let that dissolve.  You can also let some of the moisture evaporate off by just continuing to cook it.

12.  Plate your pancakes.  Add some butter if you like.   Put some of that strawberry compote on it and…Voila!

Notes:  I have extra pancake mix left over, keep it for the next day or the next.  You might have some strawberry mix left over also.

I’d love to here if anyone does this recipe and makes their own substitutions.  I’ll probably try this again with a mashed bananas in the pancake mix.  Yum!

2012 – New Year, New Post, New Purpose

1 Jan

Here we are again.  Mother Earth has completed her  yearly “cycle”, and while we are back where we started spatially, she has stamped 2011 indelibly onto the Tree of Life.


Hasn’t this solar loop been a doozie?    The Occupy Movement, the Arab Spring,  the Greek Debt crisis, and, thankfully, Mother Earth finally expelled those hard to pass poopie nuggets, Kim Jong Il and Moammar Kadafi.

And what about that weird world weather?  Floods, class 5 tornados, and the massive Japanese earthquake (ok an earthquake isn’t technically weather, but that doesn’t stop the Weather Channel from talking about it.)

For Austin, weird weather meant ninety 100 degree days…let that sink in for a minute.  That’s just a little less than 1/3 of the year.  What the heck Gaia?  Austinites are gentle folk and tred lightly upon thee.  I suppose we were just collateral damage in Her payback to Texas for all our refineries and gas-guzzling dually trucks.   In the most extreme dog days, I contemplated a road trip in search of  cool mountain streams. Ultimately, the heat-induced lethargy won out.   I didn’t even break out the road map.

That may have a bit also to do with being more rooted in the past few years to home base, due to my new-ish marriage.   Isaac Priestley, my erudite partner in crime, has become a complimentary, balancing element in my life.  We just celebrated our 1 year anniversary in December, and sorry ladies, I’ve decided he’s a keeper.

However, Isaac doesn’t share my wanderlust, and won’t travel without good reason. Our last trip was in December of last year to NYC for our honeymoon, which coincided with the 2010 blizzard and bed bug epidemic.

At the same time, it was a great trip because I had good company and the first season of 24 on DVD.  We did venture out to see Prince live at Madison Square Garden, Chuck Berry at BB Kings club on New Years Eve, and my first (but certainly not last) meal at the 21 Club.

Still, I was a bit peevish with Miss Universe recently.  Isaac’s company just sent him to Colorado, one of my favorite places, on a two day trip in the middle of the week.   Even I couldn’t spin a good reason to tag along.

New marriage plus new job makes Darla a busy bee, and I have not done jack with offworldersunite.com since starting at saplinglearning.com.  I am not big on New Year’s Resolutions, because they are so easy to break. But I will be blogging again.  Isaac, who has been blogging on weracketeer.com, suggested that I commit to publishing a blog at least once a week on Monday.  This way, I can collect my thoughts throughout the week, and codify any meaningful insights on Sunday.

So expect to see more from me in the next year. I will be keeping my posts in line with my original intent for offworldersunite.com, which is to bring creative people together to solve problems through off-worlder thinking.

Happy 2012 Offworlders!

Finding Purpose in Your Work

5 Feb
So this year has been a wonderful year in some respects, but very difficult in others.  I just got married to a wonderful man, and the wedding was absolutely beautiful.
However, at the same time that I have been ecstatic with my relationship and friends, I have been struggling with career and finances.
I realized that I had been making a lot of excuses as to why I have not been successful in finding a teaching position.  True, I got my certificate late in the summer, and many teachers came back to teaching this year due to the economy, but there was another factor that gave me pause.
My student teaching was so much more challenging than I ever imagined, that I felt unsure that teaching in public schools was a task  that I could face and keep my sanity.
I thought there was something really wrong with me, but then I started to look at the numbers.   1 in 3 new teachers quit in the first year of teaching, and 50% of all new teachers are gone after 5 years.
This is saddens me, and tells me we need some serious changes in the way new teachers are prepared and supported.   For a while, I thought I should shy away from a career in education altogether.
I have come full circle in what I believe I should do.  I am very close to landing a sales job at a startup that provides great education products for chemistry professors.  I believe it is going to be a good combination of my sales skills, and provide me with the sense of purpose that I haven’t had for a while.    I wish I had something like these homework products when I was in school.
I think down the road, I will have opportunities to wear many hats, to perform software demonstrations,  to liaison with the subject matter experts, and even possibly develop content.    Who knows?  Wish me luck and abundance in my new endeavor.

Mark Strama a Rarity. Thoughtful Politics on Solar and Wind.

7 Oct

I had the pleasure of attending a Solar Austin Happy Hour last night.  It was the first time I had attended.  I was checking it out, doing the smoozing, meet and greet, thing.  I am trying to get Off Worlders out there to the people,  and honing my elevator pitch. Some of the Solar companies present included Meridian Solar, Texas Solar Power, and HelioVolt, among others.

Mike Sloan, acted as moderator and MC.  He started by giving the floor briefly  to Susan Sloan (no relation), the State Relations Director for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).  Susan was brief and congratulatory, acknowledging that Texas is the U.S. leader in Wind Energy Production.

I wasn’t expecting very much from the discussion, but Mark Strama, who represents district 50 State Representative, genuinely surprised me with his thoughtfulness and desire to see the big picture in solar and wind.    The discussion centered around the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), and continuing to give solar the incentives needed for technology to develop and become financially competitive.   Strama compared solar now to the first generation IPhone user,  the benefit of to the first adopter was that they had a cooler phone that the rest of us for a year, which made it totally worth paying several hundred bucks more for a phone that was immediately obsolete.  This just isn’t as true for solar, because despite the warm fuzzy of satisfaction you may feel, the lights flip on just the same in your neighbors house that uses electricity from dirty coal.  Strama stated that this is why we need state incentives to get to a smart, cost-effective solar technology manufactured and used in Texas.

Steve Wiese of TREIA also made comment that attention needs to be placed on Solar Thermal.   I am in full agreement here.  Solar Thermal is less sexy, but roughly 30% of your energy bill comes from your water heater, Solar Thermal is a low cost option feasible for the majority of residential users.

There was a particularly interesting discussion about bringing solar to the rooftops of schools.   Schools cannot take advantage of the tax incentives, as they do not pay taxes, so there is a call for legislation in the next session to allow third parties to rent rooftop space from schools, retain ownership of solar arrays, and sell to schools but not to be classified and regulated as a utility provider.   The fact that school electricity usage drops as much as 60% during peak summer months makes schools uniquely positioned to supply power back to the grid.

Strama also discussed keeping more alternative fuel funding in Texas from Big Oil.  For example, Exxon has invested 600M in Algae research, but the funds are going to a San Diego based Synthetic Genomics.  Why not invest that money in University of Texas, which has a first class alternative fuels research center?

A discussion did arise from this about whether the investment in solar research is wise for Texas, as solar companies would most likely outsource production overseas.  A gentleman from HelioVolt commented that the manufacturing process for their next generation thin film CIGS solar cells is not labor intensive, so they would not ship jobs oversees, but instead would have a lean highly skilled labor force here.

Strama likened this to the statements of made by  Valence, which has said that they feel that what they can do with 5000 employees in China, they can do with 1000 skilled laborers in the U.S.

The Solar Austin Happy Hour was a pleasant surprise.  I wished I could have stuck around and met more people, but I had to bounce to a birthday party for Amy Stanley, local Austin entrepreneur  and all around awesome chick.

The only upset of the evening is that I managed to spill a beer on a unsuspecting patent agent.   I still owe you a drink, sir, and possibly a cleaning bill.  But hey, if I wasn’t a little clumsy, I wouldn’t be me.

What's New In Solar Power Research?

5 Oct

I have been reading up a lot recently on the new technologies in Solar Power.  There are so many exciting discoveries coming forward, that it can be dizzying for the solar power professional.  I think in this field it is critical to keep an open mind, and not tie yourself down to a single technology as you advance your career.

We were playing with phosphorescent pigments last Friday at Austin Hackerspace,  and I woke from an interesting dream where I was surrounded by  beautiful phosphorescent solar array at dusk.

So I started to become curious about phosphorescing mineral use in solar cell technology.

I see that there are some research articles out there with promising increases in solar cell efficiencies by doping with phosphorescent minerals.

However, are there any companies developing phosphorescent solar technologies?