How I turned into a guy on Facebook

Recently, I got fed up with being a lady on Facebook. The marketing. The advertisements for empowered baby clothes (“she’s a rocket scientist!”) and faintly healthy food (“try three papaya-sweet corn bars for only $12.99!”).

I tried adjusting my ad settings, denying my prior interests in travel, science, and art. But I was still getting advertised to on the broadest of parameters: a female aged 18-55 in America needs… baby clothes. For me, it was bemusing.

For my infertile friends, it was heartbreaking: every scroll a reminder of the child they would cherish but could not have.

The only way around this, I realized, was to change myself. And so, I tweaked my profile and became a 55-year-old man living in the middle of England.  (more…)

Adding layers in painting

2017 Study Abroad 1 painting over
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After far too many pages of verb tenses, K and I left our study abroad classroom for a late-afternoon lunch in southern Kazakhstan. She was surprised at the sheer size of the margarita, and I was delighted with her expression.

Above, you can see how I progressed:

  1.  Sketching in pencil over an ill-fated flower painting.
  2.  Blocking in the color.
  3.  Starting on facial expressions and hair.
  4.  Dear Lord, what’s happened to this face?
  5.  I widen the face, and add white eyebrows, apparently. I got fed up and left it for a week.
  6.  Honestly, I should have stopped here. It’s beautiful. But it doesn’t look like my friend. So I forged on.
  7.  Just as things were shaping up, I realized the eyes, nose, and mouth all needed to move left. Oops.
  8.  I got the teeth and eyes… and I don’t want to mess up anything else! So I may come back and even out the shadows a bit, but I’m pretty happy with it.

Comments? I’d love to hear what strikes you!

Best iOS apps for indecisive people

We’ve tried spreadsheets.

We’ve tried task management apps.

We’ve tried to-do lists.

Yet my husband Amos* and I are terrible at making decisions.

I, for one, prefer to ruminate… research… discuss every option with *all* my friends (surprisingly few are left…) …and then make weighted decision matrices to take every factor into account.

Decision Making Apps - Heat Map in Excel. Based on Amy Webb's Data a Love Story
For some reason, guys don’t like you to evaluate them on a weighted matrix.

Amos, on the other hand, prefers to let things lie until the last minute, then make a decision based on what feels good or needs to get done at the time.

A match made in heaven. By some rather gleeful angels. (more…)

Cleaning out that dreaded closet

“Do you need this?” I ask, holding up the ballerina music box.

“…And this?” I hold up a handful of seashells and a crushed sand dollar in a plastic baggie.

Julie shakes her head. I quickly sort things into piles, pulling her back into the room when she starts to wander out and look for the TV.


Some of my fondest memories, in fact, are of cleaning my friends’ bedrooms… although inviting over a stern eleven-year-old Super Organizer was probably not how they’d envisioned their birthday sleepovers turning out. (more…)

How to barbecue dumplings

As you know, this blog is named for tasty, tasty dumplings. So to make sure it’s not false advertising, I occasionally post some dumpling recipes. Below, a recipe for barbecue-glazed pork dumplings that I recently made with friends, with pictures:

Barbecue-Glazed Pork Dumplings

Ingredients (makes 45):
8 oz red cabbage, very finely chopped
2 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 lb fatty (80/20) ground pork
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat (from bacon)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Bottle of barbecue sauce
One pound package of 4 to 5 inch round dumpling wrappers, room temperature

1. Finely chop the cabbage and cook up bacon to get the bacon fat.

Cutting cabbage for dumplings


How to know if you should go to library school

Are you thinking about applying to library school? Wondering how to get into the field? I’m summarizing some of the advice I’ve passed along to mentees and prospective students here, with tips on places to look for more on libraryland.

Start reading blogs in the field.

Get a sense of conversations in the field, especially around technology, privacy, diversity, trends in librarianship, the costs and benefits of library school, and ways to prepare for the workforce. Some blogs where multiple authors contribute:

Oral history: trapping weasels in Minnesota

My grandfather Bob Fischer passed away today, just shy of his 81st birthday. A few years ago, I asked him to tell me about his childhood, his working life, and his family life. Our conversation is long, but I’d love to share it with you. I’m happy to pass it along as a word document as well. 


1. Growing up in Brook Park

Could you tell me about where you grew up?

I grew up in Brook Park, Minnesota, in a small town. The sign when you come into town, it says 120 people living here, and that’s about what it was when we were there—maybe 50, 60 houses.

We were a poor family when we boys were growing up.  Dad knew it and was so happy he could leave money for us boys when he and mom were gone. We lived on three farms around Brook Park and rented the first two.  He bought the third farm on which the house burned down.

And what did you do as a child?

I remember picking blueberries as a family activity off somewhere in the bog country north of Hinckley.  I think we had a blueberry patch in a bog near (more…)

How we can better support women in the church

This week, Sarah Bessey sparked a twitter conversation that rapidly took flight among Christian men and women. Women continue to share painful and even surreal experiences under the #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear hashtag– some of which I’ve reflected on here.

Yet the conversation has quickly taken a hopeful note, as both men and women share #ThingsEveryChristianWomanShouldHear.

So listen in. I hope you’ll absorb and share some of these fabulous dreams for what a rich, supportive Christian community could look like, for both women and men: (more…)