Friday, August 29, 2008

August 29th

It's the little things that bring on the biggest culture shock sometimes.  Like the windows over here.  They are awesome and can be configured to be open at the top or opened by the side.   They just seem neat until you see there are no screens, which is weird.

And the toilets.  Rather than a latch there's a little paddle built into the wall or the back of the toilet that you press on.  The toilet in the hotel flushes by way of pressing a little oval right above the seat.  (It's perfectly situated to reach back and hit with your elbow while sitting on the toilet, so I suspect it was designed by a woman.)  Still, it's just this odd little difference between here and the US.

And then there's the train station newstand.  We took the train into Trier to see the Porta Nigra today, and the train station newstand had comic books.  Not Archie comics mind you, but All-Star Superman and X-Men issues and Captain America trades.  And the one in the Market Square had an entire rack of Manga, like you'd see at a bookstore.

Now, maybe I've just been unlucky but when was the last time you saw comics at a train station or airport newstand in US?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

This is going to take some adjustment.

It's been about a week since my last update, so let me fill you in on the move.  Germany looks remarkably like Lackawanna County in Pennsylvania.  There are a lot of trees and gentle mountains and the little living areas are very spaced out.  Lots of farmland and wilderness too.  My coworker told me this area is known as the "Black Forest."  Yes, of Frau Totenkinder fame.  I like the climate, it's cold and rainy.  Haven't dealt with too many Germans yet--potential landladies excluded--but I can see my work's cut out with me in the new office with all the other transplanted Americans.

I am the only woman in the shop, which isn't too surprising.  Depressingly few women go for my career field, I'm only accidentally in it myself.   I'm actually one of four women in the building, which is a tad bit disconcerting.  That my shop hasn't had a female technician assigned to it for almost three years prior to my arrival is downright infuriating.  Something needs to be done about the lack of women in technical career fields.

In the meantime, a shop that is very set in its ways tries to adjust to mixed company.   The ground rules about profanity have been laid, but two incidents display the difficulty that still exists here. Last week I found myself without anything to do and so I tried to sort a particularly annoying pile of junk.  The boss was quickly disturbed by this and insisted that disorder and chaos were the proper way of the world.  For my part I fell into the stereotypical role of the only woman in a small group and continued to arrange things as I saw fit.  The rest of the shop was very amused, and started taking bets on what week I'd lose my sanity.

Today in the office they were rearranging the notices and bulletin boards on the wall to accommodate a very large whiteboard.  The men were asking each other if it might fit the spot on the wall they'd cleared for it.  Now, everyone in this shop carries personal tools attached to their belt depending on what they need the most so this was a perfectly logical thought on my part.  I asked if any of them were carrying a tape measure so that we could see before they lifted the heavy thing up.

My boss turned to me and said--and don't get me wrong here, he said it with good humor--"We're GUYS!"  because to him maleness implies a lack of logic, organizational skill and good sense.  Personally, I think they're using sexism as a excuse not to do their jobs correctly.  This was a problem in my last office, but getting put in charge of the shift let me teach some of them not to give in to antimasculine stereotypes and just do the fucking job.  I don't have that luxury here, it's the boss who needs the training.

On top of that, they insulted my technical abilities.  The rest of the shop joked that I'd be telling them to read the directions next.    How on earth did they get the idea that using the proper tool to make their job easier was on the same level as consulting the idiot manual?

That aside, I do like the people there.  Very relaxed and full of joking, like a good maintenance shop should be.

And I may have found a place to live.  It has a balcony, a landlady who can't pronounce my name, and the option of DSL so the comics community won't be rid of me just because I'm in German Appalachia now.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

August 24th, 2008

I have to confess to having written off since they got their mascot back a few months ago.  I'd had hopes for Project Girl Wonder as a test run to see how much influence they could gain over the Powers That Be but rather than move on from their victory to other projects most Spoiler-advocates seemed to take the resurrection as a malicious way to circumvent giving them exactly what they wanted (it was a way of avoiding giving them exactly what they wanted, but I don't believe it was malicious).  Rather than realize the pull they had they took it as Dan Didio laughing at them and collectively sulked.

As a Green Lantern fan who watched them lobby for ten years to get a major character morally cleared I was actually pretty disgusted with the organization.  As I saw it this was a major victory and they were going to squander it because it wasn't precisely what they wanted!  They didn't realize how vicious an enemy Perfect was when it came to Good.  I think if I hadn't had real life issues to distract myself with I'd have lost my temper and alienated the whole lot.

But rather than take the wind from the organization's sails as it initially appeared, the move by DC has managed to give them a chance to refocus their efforts on more substantial projects.

And no, that's not a swing at Steph-fans.  I understand the point of Project Girl Wonder, but it was a quest for an entirely symbolic gesture.  You have to admit that despite working in graphic literature and being buried in symbolism from it's customers to its CEOs the comics industry doesn't seem to understand the abstract very well.  That's most likely why DC went and one-upped the request.  They probably figured it would make these fans happy without giving them exact creative control (because giving masses of fans exact creative control would be disastrous in this industry).  Concrete efforts are what get you the respect.

But Friday, when we were all bickering and whining over John's call to action, the Board at were acting and building a resource for anyone who wants to make their local convention as well as SDCC safer.

And today they've unveiled a map for locating female-friendly comic book stores, which for me personally may prove to be an invaluable resource if its kept current.  (I imagine some shops are going to gain and lose status a few times, but when you move to a new area or even have lived in an area for a while with little luck it really helps to have a place to start.)

I can't say I ever got behind the initial project, as I'm not much of a Batman fan and I despised the Spoiler character to begin with.  I mostly hoped they'd use it as a jumping off point for bigger and better things, which they have.  That makes me enormously happy, and I may even break down and buy a tee-shirt.

But I urge everyone to look at, use, and add to these resources as they can.  Keep them strong because whatever you may think of the initial Project Girl Wonder and symbolic efforts, these are concrete resources that have enormous potential to do good in the industry.

Anyway, that's my attempt at an apology. Sorry for doubting you, Girl Wonders, I was wrong.