Dawn Keenan

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Questions from a friend's post on an antisocial network. Answers all mine.

1. Do you make your bed every day?
My sweetie does, so I almost never do.

2. How many hours of sleep do you need to be great?
Highly dependent on the environment and context, but average 8-9.

3. What two grocery items do you never run out of?
Peanuts and tea.

4. At what age did you start doing your laundry?
I started helping with household laundry in childhood, and didn't separate my own from the family's until I moved out at twenty-one.

5. If you could, would you go back to high school?
Hell no.

6. Can you parallel park in under three moves?
I doubt it.

7. A job you had which people would be shocked to know you once had?
I'll go with nude model, which seems to surprise most people. Others might find it odd that I was once a Kelly girl (temporary administrative and secretarial help through an agency).

8. Do you think there are aliens?
I think there's intelligent life we will never have contact with.

9. Can you drive a stick shift?

10. Guilty TV pleasure?
Haven't watched TV in many years. My guilty movie pleasure is chop-socky.

11. Tattoos?
In the planning stages. I have a studio in mind (three possible artists on their roster) and am working on the design.

12. If the world ends do you want to be one of the survivors?
It would be an interesting challenge to make the best of an entirely changed environment, so yes.

13. Sweet or salty?
Salty. Bitter or sour would be more of a toss up.

14. Do you enjoy soaking in a nice hot bath?
Of course, though only on special occasions to unknot and relax.

15. Do you consider yourself a strong person?
Others consider me a strong person. I consider myself stubborn, which I will grudgingly admit requires a lot of strength. I am also brittle and need friends who help me avoid breaking.

16. Something people do that drives you nuts?
Judge (look down on) people based on their appearance. I know I do this myself, albeit with different parameters.

17. Do you have any birthmarks?

18. Favourite childhood game?
Kick the can.

19. Do you talk to yourself?
Not out loud (usually). I do some of my blog and speech writing by talking to myself in my inside-my-head voice.

20. Do you like doing jigsaw puzzles?
Have enjoyed them in the past. It's been a few years.

21. Tea or coffee?
Tea first thing in the morning, coffee mid morning, then tea. I'm mostly a tea person.

22. First thing you remember wanting to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an astronaut.

I also loved Kick the Can. I was frustrated that it wasn't played more often.

This is a reader-focused edit of the speech I recently gave as the capstone of the Dynamic Leadership path in Toastmasters. During the speech, I switched a few things up in response to audience reaction. I broke several of the common rules for Toastmasters speech struture and delivery, every transgression a choice I had deliberately made and weighed in advance.

As I said afterward to the fellow who'd roped me in to serving as the club's VP Education and proceeded to be unavailable to provide promised guidance, support, and backfill over much of the following year: it’s not the speech I wanted to give. It was the speech my audience needed to witness.

Thousands of books, millions of pages, have been written on public speaking. Each resource has a structure, but the number of tips and guidelines and exercises is overwhelming to someone just setting out. How many rules are there for giving a speech?

My friend Linda Carson says there are fewer rules than you think. Linda trains beginning artists to understand and follow rules of composition. In every lesson, she provides guidance to help artists improve in seeing, painting, drawing, sculpture. The rules are important to learn new skills and perspectives, but at some point the training wheels come off. More advanced artists consciously use fewer rules than beginners. If it’s true for visual art, is it also true for the performance art of public speaking? Come with me on a little journey.

Two years ago I was packing up my life and moving. From some perspectives, my plan for the future could have been written on a beer-soaked napkin. I have lifelong friends who are have used Toastmasters to build speaking, writing, and leadership skills. They all encouraged me to join Toastmasters and leverage it to improve my skills and my network in a new city.

At the end of the summer, I joined a Toastmasters club in the neighbourhood where I would live for much of the following year. The members were like a second family to one another. I saw some impressive skills from practiced speakers and leaders. Personal and professional development were actively encouraged through mentoring and effective critique.

When I got my speech craft and leadership manuals, I read them thoroughly. I hunted down guides from the Toastmasters International web site. I studied the rules, watched like a crow at meetings, and prepared. And prepared.

I was so keen on doing well out of the gate that it took me two months to give my Ice Breaker speech, the first prepared speech project in the programme. I would take my first meeting role, noting and reporting on the use of filler words, the following week. In my prepared speech I talked about my childhood. I went more than a minute over time even though I’d practiced. People didn’t seem to mind, but I recognized the need to change from my rambling storytelling to a more concise style.

The Pathways system came out and I decided to give it a spin. I delivered another Ice Breaker about being disabled for a year. I wasn’t too uncomfortable. I didn’t run as much over my allowed time. I kept showing up, taking formal roles every few weeks, volunteering for impromptu speaking when I didn’t have a role. I kept trying, watching, listening. I was slowly improving.

Then I cheated, singing the last 40 seconds of a speech about singing. When I presented the revised version, I stood on my writing and speaking skills alone. I needed to expand my comfort zone, not the audience’s.

I gave a technical talk next. It was loaded with acronyms and detail relevant to IT project managers. Most of the club members weren’t technology workers, so I got to watch people grow increasingly bored, confused, and disengaged. I needed to write and speak in easily understood terms.

The months passed. I kept watching other people’s performances and feedback, getting up on stage, receiving personalized feedback, making and acting on plans for incremental improvement. I was developing skills: learning many rules, mastering one and moving on to the next. Sometimes I connected with a lot of the audience, sometimes just one or two people. I needed to focus on speaking effectively to everyone in the room.

When I became the club’s Vice President of Education almost a year in, it was a huge set of new challenges and a chance to deliver speeches that could help people become better speakers and leaders. I was growing, blossoming. I was continuing to hide my identity in a group that had some fundamental differences from me: a group that has occasionally invited guests from demographics where people like me are not accepted with open minds and hearts.

I’ve lived with the tension between being honest and being despised for most of my life. Be yourself, but not that way. We’re taught from our earliest socialization that the one who is different, the outsider, is a good target for oppression. Sometimes it’s access to opportunity: we promoted or hired another candidate based on culture fit. Sometimes it’s ostracizing, shunning the different: you are not my kin. Sometimes it’s open threats and assault. Even in a nice suburban neighbourhood, fifty years after response to a police raid at the Stonewall Inn started changing society.

I rely on layers of rules and guidelines to protect my well-being and that of my dearest loves. My heart hides behind an interlocking set of riddles. But when I get to know you, there are fewer rules than you think.

In her art classes, Linda taught all her students that rules can be broken. Not arbitrarily, but after you understand what the rule is and why it exists. Great works of art often break one or more rules. Linda had two inviolable rules in her studio. Don’t lick the brushes — some art supplies are poisonous. More importantly, don’t put down anyone’s work, especially your own. Every other rule she taught, there was a way around it once you developed enough skill and had a good reason.

Linda’s universal rule for creating art isn’t quite what we need for public speaking. Let’s expand to the broader principle and refocus. The universal rule that resonates best with me comes from Kurt Vonnegut in his book God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater.

"Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’"

You’ve got to be kind.

When a man asks you for your coat, give him your cloak also.

What that looks like in public speaking is this inviolable rule: honour your audience. Every tip on drafting a speech, every presentation skill you have mastered and will go on to master, every morsel of feedback you receive comes down to this. What is best for my audience? Walk a mile in their shoes, another mile barefoot beside them. Pay them your full mind and meet their needs. Adapt to new audiences when you find them at work, in a speech contest, on a stage in front of hundreds of friends you haven’t met yet.

As Ted “Theodore” Logan III would say, Be excellent to each other.

It wouldn't be a half bad sermon with some editing, though I think it bears little resemblance to the evangelistic style I was exposed to in my childhood.

yes, it came out just as i typed it.

hese boxes seem to multiply.t

11/10 '14 3 Comments
You can also type whatever title you'd like and use the "link" icon. That way there is no auto-embedding of any sort, just your text linking wherever you wish it to.

The auto-embedder for pasted links needs work. The text needs to be fully editable and the image it chooses needs to be selectable, including eliminating it entirely.

It works very well on sites that support oembed (youtube, vimeo, slideshare) and moderately well on sites that use facebook's Open Graph tags. It has the most trouble with sites like sinfest which don't even have a distinct title tag for each strip.

Thomas Boutell 11/10 '14
At first, I wanted to share a link to a webcomic for a specific date, and proceeded to do what Just Works when I'm on Major Site. I was mildly dismayed by the appearance of additional boxes but figured something might get cleaned up in posting-production so left it as it lay.
For the next post (above), I acted as a naive user in attempting to use again the link to the page and then, when that WYSInotWYW, trying a link to the image only. Boxes popped up and I typed into them. The shifting right of my first character typed in one of those boxes pointed to another likely UI issue.
It still takes more work than a casual user of technology *who isn't going to look for functionality that isn't obvious when presented with WYSIWYG and limited icons to try* wants to expend to provide a link to content that is easily identified by many other web-based social services.
Dawn Keenan 11/10 '14
Facebook happens to get this one right by just displaying the correct image, which is impressive given the inscrutable markup - there's really no good way to know which image is the webcomic. Perhaps they remember which image people used to choose manually. Perhaps they scan for the largest image, which is a good idea for a webcomic.

I tried a some of other webcomics and got terrible results from Facebook (and also from OPW, of course). The worst are those that *do* provide opengraph tags but make them the same for every episode of the comic. Sigh.
Thomas Boutell 11/10 '14

Most people working in technology, especially the ones who write code, don't understand the underlying needs and use cases that drive their work. Under the guidance of an effective architect/manager, a few of those get it right despite their low level of communication skills.

I've worked in IT and related fields for a while, as have many of the people who call themselves my friends. I've seen and discussed a lot of getting it wrong and getting it right, and mentored a handful of folks along the way to improving their empathy, communication, execution, and humility. You don't do good work by acting like a bro. If you don't understand why someone's upset about an action of yours, you may have committed a bro behaviour -- even if you are not a bro. I myself am not entirely free of bro nature and sometimes err.

The development of this site so far has, from the multiple perspectives I can access through the miracle of conversation, been uneven with respect to listening to, understanding, and meeting the needs of anyone other than the principal developer. Fortunately, the skills that need to be developed can be learned by a person internally motivated to do so.

9/27 '14 9 Comments
That's interesting, Dawn. In our exchanges, it's seemed very much the other way. You've been all "you MUST do exactly THIS now," and I've been all "I'd like to do that but I have to balance it with other concerns, let's think about it, hey how about this which actually accomplishes all or most of them."

Then I made a mistake, as people do when their websites are in beta, and you responded as if a faceless corporation had intentionally sold you into slavery. I apologized profusely and made changes; you reduced me to a nonperson, and then decided I'm a person but I'm a "bro."

How would you respond in my place?
Thomas Boutell 9/27 '14
<blockquote>you reduced me to a nonperson, and then decided I'm a person but I'm a "bro."</blockquote>
What information led you to the conclusion that I have categorized you as a nonperson and them a "bro"?
Dawn Keenan 9/27 '14
Go back and reread these exchanges of which you write and their context. Reread the post to which you're responding and identify your assumptions.
You have been making a lot of assumptions, Mister Thomas Boutell.
Dawn Keenan 9/27 '14
Oh yes, it would be a terrible thing if either of us made assumptions.
Thomas Boutell 9/27 '14
The tone and immediacy of your response indicates you are responding purely emotionally. Please, Thomas, take the time to look at the context and ask three questions:
Am I doing things right?
Am I doing the right things?
How do I know what is right?

There are people other than you in the world. Their opinions and experiences are different from your own, though similar in some ways.
Dawn Keenan 9/27 '14
Certainly. I ask you to do the same. From the start you've acted as if your concerns were the only concerns. You've denigrated the process of balancing them with other concerns as a need for more "hammers."

You continue to imply that my intent is dastardly, even though this whole dust-up began when I (wrongly, blunderingly) tried to help. That's the stumbling block for me. If you can't acknowledge my good intentions, I can't dialogue with you.
Thomas Boutell 9/27 '14
Go back further, to conversations involving multiple actors recommending changes to improve usability and your responses to everyone. Go back to the beginning and consider.

I wrote above about best practices in design and operational principles. Since the time you initiated a message to me rooted in your misinterpretation of your site's user interface, you have treated me, repeatedly and publicly, as though I am on some kind of personal vendetta against you.
Dawn Keenan 9/27 '14
Yes, in this particular thread I've been angry. There's a reason for that.

You rushed to judgment while beta testing a brand-new website. You responded to my ill-judged attempt to help you by telling people not to trust anything I do— "repeatedly and publicly," in you phrase.

So yep: angry now!

But prior to this thread, when did I imply you had a vendetta against me? All I can find are apologies and attempts to make the situation right.

Again, the problem of intent. If you really believe my intentions are not good, then I'd be wiser to just get back to work on improving the security of the site.
Thomas Boutell 9/27 '14
I did make several assumptions in reading this post. I missed the conciliatory tone and unpacked my anger instead regarding some of your earlier remarks. That was not helpful. I apologize.

I am a human being and undoubtedly "uneven" in my consideration of everyone's needs. I will endeavor to listen better.
Thomas Boutell 9/27 '14

I have used dreamwidth in the past and continue to do so from time to time because it is a thoughtfully designed, professionally managed, user supported site that genuinely listens and responds to the needs of its user community. I recommend it as a social blogging platform with a strong, rich set of access controls.

On September 24 I wrote a post locked to a group of authenticated people on this site.

Shortly after I wrote that post, Tom Boutell commented on it with the concern that the information in the post was available to Google and would be cached.

  • Tom may have overlooked the visual indicators of access on the post and erred in his statement
  • The site may have failed to honour my request to limit access to the post
  • Tom may have tested access, found it was effectively public, and warned me
  • Tom's software or privilege model may be buggy
  • Tom's understanding of access rights may be deeply flawed (this certainly matches discussions you can find elsewhere on this site: it takes a lot of hammers to convince the guy to not dismiss out of hand requests and explanations from people who want to give him a chance and use his stuff)
  • There may be a different explanation

The result when I went to bed was that I do not trust this site, nor anything else authored by Boutell, to honour access controls I place on my data. When I continued writing this, having received an email in the interim that started "Oh lord, Dawn. I am so sorry," nothing has substantially changed. I don't want to use this platform and I certainly don't want to encourage people I like and trust to use it.

It will take more than an apology to build my trust of Tom -- and more importantly, of a system he designs, writes, or maintains -- to a level where I will be comfortable placing anything other than "for public consumption" materials on this site or any other authored or co-authored by Boutell.

9/25 '14 1 Comment
I understand that I have lost you as a supporter and that you no longer trust me. That is probably the cost I have to accept for speaking thoughtlessly last night.

It is ironic, because I would not have reached out to you about a possible privacy concern if I was a person who didn't care about privacy matters. But I should not have done so hastily and incorrectly. By doing so I squandered your goodwill. If I were in your shoes I'd have the screaming heebie-jeebies about this site too.

I have added a prominent privacy status icon to the title of every post on the site. That is the measure that would have prevented me from making a dumb mistake yesterday.

If there is a conversation you would like to have with me about improving or verifying the privacy of One Post Wonder, I am open to it. Until then, I'll leave you in peace.

Again, I'm sorry and I wish it were otherwise.
Thomas Boutell 9/25 '14



9/24 '14 5 Comments
Psst - this is a google-able public post with your real name on it, so you might want to ponder that.
Thomas Boutell 9/24 '14
The comment form doesn't say "this post is public" at the bottom, which is, I thought, a reliable tell for whether or not someone else's post is locked.
Sean M Puckett 9/24 '14
A lock is set on this post, which is the same as it was when I wrote it, so your privacy model and my trust in this site are both broken.
Dawn Keenan 9/24 '14
Removed lock after editing post.
Tom, either you fucked up in your statement above or you have to fix some shit yesterday.
Dawn Keenan 9/24 '14
I fucked up in my statement. I got completely turned around and thought the ABSENCE of a message when replying meant the post was public.

"Tom that is totally ridiculous, you built this site! You know it works exactly the way Sean said because you coded it!" Yes it is totally ridiculous and I have no adequate explanation for my behavior. My inadequate explanation, if you care to hear it, is that I was rushing around doing way too damn much this evening and didn't think through what I was doing.

Did I bother to actually try to access your post via a logged-out browser or in any other way double-check my statement before scaring the crap out of you? No, because I'm a dipshit.

I have had cause to regret it exceedingly. The time and effort that Sean and I put into making this site secure may have been ruined by my carelessness, even though the site was never actually insecure. This is maddening to me and it is my own fault.

I am profoundly sorry and will be giving twice as much attention to security matters in future.
Thomas Boutell 9/24 '14

While I wouldn't say I go out of my way to pick fights, I do tend to get involved in discussions and situations that provoke feminist, queer-positive, privilege-examining, mental health destigmatizing, and similar responses in me. I try to encourage similar responses in others where it seems useful for moving some part of the general social discourse and awareness further towards equity.

At times it creates a bit of a hard-to-scratch itch that I don't seem to be getting very far except with The Usual Suspects, a collection of people who would fall in the "mutual respect and trust" and "many similar values" rings of friendship. And it feels like I'm repeating the same stories to the same handful of people with minor variations and not much changes.

Then they tell two friends, just like Heather Locklear in the 80s with her wheat germ oil and honey shampoo. And I may or may not see any second order effects. My experiences, analysis, and encouragements do make a difference.

Chief among The Usual Suspects is S, partner in thoughtcrime. As a tall, white, apparently on the high end of the middle class, midlife-ish guy with a record of community engagement, he has Audience Power. It turns out to be much more noticeably useful when he tells my stories, not only for the additional reach but for his astounding ability to get people to listen to him, engage with him, and treat him as a human being on equal footing rather than some uppity piece of property with teats. People responding to S are much less dismissive and generally not at all outright abusive, which some are to me on the same subjects with the same messages.

Still, it seems weird that for all my agency, I don't have a fulcrum on which to place my lever. And it does at times stick in my craw that the intersection of culture and biology gives a disproportionate amount of power and capacity to create change to someone whose overall politics, philosophies, and goals are aligned with mine. He's a go-getter; she's an abrasive bitch.

9/9 '14 1 Comment
Seriously. "If you were really listening to me, you'd listen to her."
Thomas Boutell 9/10 '14

For next term's MBA courses (he said a fortnight after Spring term ended, three full weeks before first Fall lecture) one of my two electives is a strategy-area course on sustainability. I've settled on strategy as my area of concentration because I have developed a kink for pushing the big levers that will Get Stuff Done and sustainability addresses my grar at the short-termism endemic in business that has leaked through to society at large.

Naturally I bought the course textbooks already. They arrived today and in the less than an hour I've been home since work ended I've read through the beginning material of both and the afterword of one. It's clear these books will give me specific problems to think about and, with the prof's guidance and classroom participation, tools to address them meaningfully. One can expect me to blurt out somewhat well-formed thoughts and ideas about social, economic, and environmental stewardship with greater frequency from now through mid-December.

The books themselves are Reconstructing Value by Kurucz, Colbert, and Wheeler (structured as a business textbook) and Capitalism at the Crossroads by Hart (appears to be built as a general business book, with an Al Gore preface and a Fisk Johnson foreword). I am glad to have the structure imposed on me to read both these books deeply and consider the contents thoroughly.

Although business books tend to overpromise, I'm intrigued that these two promise to change the way the reader thinks. I believe I have fewer and healthier assumptions than the average businessman, while continuing to run periodically into the brick wall of my societal programming.

8/18 '14 2 Comments
Looking forward to hearing more about this.
Thomas Boutell 8/18 '14
It does sound very interesting - please write more about it as you take the course!
Janelle 9/24 '14