Today’s Tech Tip: Don’t marry the wrong person

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Every blogger gets those emails that begin ,

“We love your blog …:

and end with

” …. over here at spam-a-lot, free-insurance-quotes, on-line college work at home for hundreds of dollars a and …”

I almost deleted this one until I read the rest that said …

“We’re planning to feature it in the Tech topic as a BlogHer Featured Blogger! “

So, that was pretty cool. Yesterday, I wrote about the YZR malfunction. I thought since blogher gets a very large general audience I should write about something less esoteric today. When I brought it up over coffee this morning, the rocket scientist said, hopefully,

“Well, my first thought is to write about how wonderful your husband is, but I guess that doesn’t really fit with your tech topic, does it?”

Actually, it fits perfectly. I LOVE my work. I love having my own, growing business, programming, design, learning new languages, statistics, traveling to meet interesting clients, attending conferences and learning more about statistics. In fact, I love my whole life. It would not have been possible if I hadn’t had the good judgement to marry the right person – twice.

I did that thing they tell you in business school never, never to do. I didn’t date the boss. I dated the boss’s boss. And I married him. Before we were married, he ended up taking a different job in the largest manufacturing corporation in town where anti-nepotism rules pretty much ended my promising career as an industrial engineer. How this helped is that pregnant, with nothing much to do, I enrolled at the university for a Ph.D., specializing in applied statistics and tests and measurement. My husband was 100% behind me getting a doctorate and starting a research career.  Because he paid for a full-time housekeeper and we staggered our work hours – he went in early and came home early, I went in late and came home late – the girls were with the nanny eight hours a day but we could each work ten or twelve.

Because he understood that getting research experience was going to help me in my career, he did not object to paying the housekeeper about as much as I made at the university as a research assistant. My husband considered it an investment in our joint financial future. Because of him, I finished an M.A. and Ph.D. in record time, publishing a couple of articles along the way, with a few ready to finish up and send off to journals my first year or two as a professor.

When my husband passed away, I took on a LOT of consulting work. Part of it was a dysfunctional way of dealing with grief – becoming a workaholic. If you have to have a dysfunction, that is a good one to pick though, because instead of ending up in jail or rehab, you end up with all your bills paid off. If my husband had still been alive, he would no doubt have objected to the insane hours I was gone for work, but since I was married to no one, I worked endless hours, scored lots of funded grant proposals, met people all over the country, learned more about research from symposia I attended and generally built up a business. In retrospect, this is not a bad way to spend your late twenties and early thirties, but I certainly don’t recommend doing it as a widow with three small children if you have any other choice.

My point, though, is if, in my twenties, I had not had the support from my husband to get the degree and background to begin with, I could not have built the company later on. If, in my thirties, I had been married to someone who objected to my travel schedule and work hours, I don’t know how I could have done it.

Conference badge






Just when it was getting to the point that I thought I’d have to wear my conference badge when I came in the door to introduce myself to the children..

“Hi, my name is — Mommy.  I am from — your family. “

I met the rocket scientist. Many of my friends and family members gave our marriage two or three years at the most. It’s now fifteen. They said we were so  different, but that is a good thing. I was gone 8 days in March, will be out of town 11 days in April, 5 in May, 8 in June, 11 in July, 5 in August — 48 days in six months – and that is what is scheduled as of now, if nothing else comes up.

The rocket scientist is a home body who worked a standard corporate job with standard corporate hours. He doesn’t even want to go to San Diego because there are restaurants we haven’t been to in Santa Monica. When I am in Ohio, Massachusetts, Florida, North Carolina, North Dakota or Nova Scotia, someone has to take The Spoiled One to school and soccer practice. Someone had to drive darling daughter number three to judo practice in Hollywood and take darling daughter number two to visit high school campuses. I never understood people who thought I would never get married again because they looked at three young kids as “baggage”. I figured he got me and three smart, healthy kids as a bonus.

There is also the whole rocket scientist thing. One day, I was reading an obscure article and I needed to know the equations someone used to solve a problem. I could not find it on the Internet (no, not everything is Googleable) and the references listed Numerical Recipes in C. I looked up from the journal I was reading and asked,

“Hey, do you have a copy of Numerical Recipes in C?”

Unlike nearly every other man I know who would respond,

“What in the hell are you talking about?”

He said,

“Third shelf on the bookshelf by my desk.”

There is more to being married to the right husband than a nanny with a driver’s license and library, though.

I sometimes think that there is a minor offered for men majoring in technical fields, “Being a Dick Studies” While I have worked with many men who were terrific co-workers there is that minority that is unhelpful and unsupportive to the extreme. The prototypical example was the student assistant I asked my first day on a new job how to log on to their system and he answered,

“You’re supposed to have a Ph.D. The assumption is if you can’t figure out how to hack into the system you shouldn’t be hired to work here.”

I didn’t bitch slap him, but I should have.

Very often, as I describe a problem I am working on to someone else, any errors in my solution, or next steps I should take, become clear. The rocket scientist and I use different programming languages, although we are both gravitating toward javascript at the moment. Even if he can’t step in and code it, or even read it (and I am highly amused by people who assume that my husband writes my programs for me), he can suggest a different tactic – maybe you could use a two-dimensional array there. I’m better at statistics than he is but he is better at pure mathematics. Sometimes, I will read a proof or a couple pages of equations and then have him read it just to see if he agrees with my interpretation, or tell him how I interpret it just to see if it makes sense.

My point, which you have by now despaired of me having, is that a helpful, knowledgable supportive colleague who you can discuss technical issues with you is worth his weight in gold.

And, if you have the added benefit that you are having sex with him, well – duh –  you have the added benefit that you are having sex – which they generally frown on you doing at the office (and if I need to explain why that is good, you need a different type of blog).


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  1. My second husband came with benefits too. The sex is great, of course, but the benefit that I first enjoyed was his editting. He saw my thesis chapters before anyone on my committee – my best sanity check ever. He’s also my rock in a storm.

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