Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Well, you're a smart girl

This is a series of posts about discrimination that happened to me as a girl and woman in the 60s-80s. (And a littel from the 90s and 00s) See the first five entries at:
When we had to wear dresses to school
Look around the room, you don't belong here
Anyway, we wanted a man for the job
He stomped his foot in anger at my taking charge
He said to me "That doesn't seem very fair."

This is a record for my kids, and for others so we don't forget how it was and what we can't go back to.

So after having a teacher run me away from what I loved in high school, getting denied a rightful position, and being treated as inferior by many in the military, I'd had a wonderful experience in college and jumped back into the work force.

Right into a software job at an amazing company.  And over the next decade there I experienced virtually none of the  discrimination that had happened before.  There were little things mostly independent of work that happened to bring home that those ideas still lingered, even up in the more progressive part of the country where I had settled.

I was helping my husband's family when they were lending a hand moving one of his sisters.  At the time my husband had a small Chevy pick up truck, with a manual transmission.  Now as it turns out, I've driven cars with manual transmissions from when I got my drivers license.  As they were bringing out some heavy furniture, my husband asked if I could move the truck. I jumped right in, moved it to where it needed to be and hopped back out without a thought

My husband's brother-in-law said, with incredulity, "You know how to drive a stick?"  I replied "Yes, always have." To which he responded "Well, you're a smart girl."  I can still hear this now, the way he said it.  That condescending tone, like I was some kind of performing monkey.  There it was again, I thought.  It's amazing where it will crop up.

One job candidate I interviewed, when I asked him what experience he had working in teams, he described how he was assigned to a team with 2 women.  Then said that "I knew they wouldn't do anything, so I did it all myself."  I remember wondering at the time, does he realize how this sounds?   And he's saying it to a woman?   I mean, if I give him the benefit of the doubt, and maybe he got saddled with two people who didn't know what they were doing that happened to be women.  But it sure didn't sound that way.

After my first software company, I would go on to other challenges, but at one place I got to experience a bit of inequitable treatment again.  For a time I got an old-school boss from a different industry than software.  Just a year or two older than me, but oh, the sense of patriarchy that oozed from this guy's pores.  He did not trust my judgement and wrecked my best employee's relationship with the company, and mine as well.

He was also old-school in the 'scare them into performing' mentality he had.  At a group meeting he once tried 'motivate' the software development team by declaring our numbers were not on target for the quarter.  Immediately my hand shot up.  

"How far are we off the target revenue goal for the quarter?"  
"Well, ummm 2%"
"OK, and how different is our revenue this quarter compared to this quarter last year?"
"We're up by around 20%"

I remember the sense of relief and amusement in the room.  This guy was trying to present what he wanted to to try to manipulate the group.  I wasn't having any of it.  I'm sure that didn't endear me to him much.  I found another great opportunity and took my first try at a start up that fall.  

Working for the software company I do now, I have occasion to travel.  As my name might suggest, I'm a pretty heavy gamer.  (And often in the minority of that population too!)  So when I travel, I almost always have my my portable Nintendo game system of the moment.  Sitting in a plane on one of the flights, a man next to me introduced himself.  He was associated with a technical news and information web site, was tech savvy.  What had piqued his interest?

He was surprised that I played video games.  This went on to become a discussion about women in science. His belief?  Women have different capabilities, aren't as geared towards study and careers in science.  I disagreed saying culture was the primary culprit there, that girls were influenced from birth in certain behaviors.  He didn't agree.  This was only a few years ago.  It's still out there.

But it is much better now, at least in the industry that I work in.  I am sure others may differ significantly.  Like the industry my old-school boss came from.

Finally, I want to mention for those of us who have gone through these kinds of things, and worse, how difficult it is to let people know about it.  

I know that personally I tend to keep these stories to myself and not tell my colleagues.  My concern is once they heard any of this, they'd suddenly start worrying about everything they say and do.  I don't want that.  I also don't want to be treated differently because the think I'm more sensitive, or would need support.  I don't.  I'll fight my own battles, thank you, I did so all along.  

I want to relate these stories because I feel that people don't realize how it was, the struggles that women have faced over time.  I mainly want them to know these stories because when we start getting galvanized by things like denying birth control coverage, there's a significant reason.  We've been there done that and it sucked.  

And bottom line, we're not going back.  Not if I can help it, or anyone else who has been through the crucible.  We paid our dues, paved the way, we're not going back.

Now go vote like your life depends on it!

Monday, November 5, 2012

He said to me "That doesn't seem very fair."

This is a series of posts about discrimination that happened to me as a girl and woman in the 60s-80s.  See the first three entries at:
When we had to wear dresses to school
Look around the room, you don't belong here
Anyway, we wanted a man for the job
He stomped his foot in anger at my taking charge

This is a record for my kids, and for others so we don't forget how it was and what we can't go back to.

So in late 1987 I got out of the military, done with proving myself just because I happened to be a woman and went back to college.  I did not go back full-time until the fall of 1988 since I got out so late in 1987.  But it couldn't have been more different from what I experienced in high school.  Only on the odd occasion would I get a whiff of the discrimination I faced before.  

I started in computer science, but switched to mathematics and statistics part way into my second year after taking Abstract Algebra and Theory of Computer Science, I loved both of these classes and I was drawn to abstraction.  I love doing proofs.  (Call me crazy!)

But there were a few incidents that highlighted what was still lurking around out there.  One of the classes I wanted to take in the computer science department was "Linear Programming" actually a mathematical technique for optimizing under constraints, but it was taught in the computer science department.  It was only available from one professor and he had a bad reputation. 

Word came to me that this professor singled out women in his class and would give them a difficult time.  Fortunately I didn't need this class for my major at the time, and as it was this was shortly before I changed majors anyway.  But I decided to live by what I had vowed when I left the military.  I just wouldn't take the class.  I didn't have anything to prove to this professor and I wasn't going to endure any more treatment like this.  His loss.  In the long term I'd end up taking the class in graduate school, no muss, no fuss.  

But what stood out more were the reminders that women just can't live the same lives as men.  One of my delights was biking to school from the rural countryside very early in the morning.  By the farms and fields, watching sun rise, the trains go by.  I stuck to small country roads on the way, avoiding the busy state route.  But this all came to an end.

One morning on my way to school a car slowly approached me from behind, I tried to move over to give him space to go by, but he drew up right beside me, window down and started saying things, making noises. revving the car, I was terrified.  This guy could do anything to me out here alone in the country and nobody would know.  

I kept going while this guy threatened to hit my bike, followed me and intimidated me.  I finally got to a home and I turned into the driveway, got off my bike and turned to face him.  I figured if he continued to approach I'd run to the door of the house and start screaming for help.  Instead he backed down the road to the nearest turn off and sped away.  I never rode my bike to school again.

There were other smaller things, but over overall my experience was extraordinary and so positive.  I had a department that mentored and supported me completely.  I took every senior level math class the university offered and aced them all and in most cases trounced all the guys too.  I was selected to participate in the math competition team my last 3 years and ended up graduating summa cum laude as well.

(I chuckle every I think about graduating summa.  I always remember the Cheers line from Diane Chambers to some pretentious guy bragging about graduating cum laude.  "What? Couldn't make summa?" Ha ha!)

The icing on the cake?  I was awarded a 6 year national fellowship to graduate school, one dedicated to women and minorities in science and mathematics.  And you know what was funny?  Once of the white male students that was a friend of mine says to me.  "That doesn't seem very fair, having a fellowship just for women and minorities!"

I just shrugged, but inside?  Oh my God, I was thinking, you have no clue whatsoever.  This is just desserts, this is payback, this is what I deserve for everything I went through and how hard I've worked.  And I swear, this is the attitude of so many who have never gone through these kinds of trials, who never have been looked down on the moment they walked into a room.  They have no idea how it feels, how it was.

So I went to graduate school for 1.5 years, and learned more about myself there.  It was fall of 1993 and I was 32 years old and I was ready to work, to start my true career.  I decided to jump back into the world and get a job and start my next adventure.  Some final words on that next time, and a short wrap up of this series.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

He stomped his foot in anger at my taking charge

This is a series of posts about discrimination that happened to me as a girl and woman in the 60s-80s.  See the first three entries at:
When we had to wear dresses to school
Look around the room, you don't belong here
Anyway, we wanted a man for the job

This is a record for my kids, and for others so we don't forget how it was and what we can't go back to.

The military ended up being an experience that really helped me discover what I truly was capable of, what I could weather, and to finally realize what I didn't need to deal with any more.

I went through some nasty sexual harassment at my first duty station.  And being thought of as not as capable as the men was part and parcel of the experience of being a woman in the military, it was just about constant.  But that would be a lot to go into, so I'm going to stick with one blatant instance of how extreme the reaction to a woman could be in the military.

At my second duty station after working for a while in the main watch section, I was picked to work in the special operations watch section, a subset of the group that worked in a back room with a special clearance for some compartmentalized information.  I was still doing the same job, but in a new setting and continued to excel at what I did.

Then a family catastrophe happened for one of the watch leaders in the special projects area.  His brother's wife had died in childbirth, and they had also lost the child, a horrendous family tragedy.  He had to take emergency leave to support his grieving brother and they tapped me to take my first leadership position in the military.  I would take over his watch section group.

The watch section consisted of 4 guys, it had been an all male group.  On the night I arrived for my first watch the officer of the watch section announced to the team that I was taking over the supervisory spot for the special operations group.  Nothing was said, but one of these men visibly reacted in an extremely hostile manner.  He stomped his foot audibly, anger and agitation written all over his posture and face.  Oh my god, what was I in for?  The officer in charge (a woman!) said nothing.

So the tone was set, I warily took charge in the back room, laid out people's responsibilities and started getting to know this group.  The one who had reacted so strongly followed my lead, but very grudgingly.  It felt like he was just looking for a chance to give me problems, and it finally came to a head one midnight watch.

On the midnight watch we have to prepare the room for a morning briefing.  This means sweeping, mopping the deck, and general tidying up.  As usual I assigned out responsibilities, but when I got to him, and gave him the job of mopping the floor, he pushed back, said it didn't need a complete mopping.  I'm always willing to consider alternatives, I took a look and agreed.  I asked him to take a sponge and clean up any scuff marks off the deck and that would do.

So he did this, but he didn't dry off the spots he cleaned after he finished them.  Consequently as people walked around the space dirt was tracked everywhere from their shoes.  The floor ended up looking much worse than when it started.  I called him over, pointed out how the floor was even worse and told him he'd have to mop now.  This was when he said "I'm not doing it."

So here it was, a direct challenge to my authority over something so damn trivial.  My brain was going a hundred miles a minute, I knew if I backed down here I would be toast.  I would not be able to lead this group.  If he continued to refuse I would have to report him, but generally, reporting someone was seen as a failure of leadership.  I was between a rock and a hard place within days of taking my first leadership role.  I mentally scrambled for what to do.

Pretty quickly I replied with a very stern tone and a dead serious expression "Either you get a mop and clean up this floor or you're going to do the whole thing on your hands and knees!" And I stood my ground, didn't back up a step and waited to see what he would do.  (Understand that everyone who knows me would probably be shocked that I would say such a thing, very very not my style!)  

He visibly struggled with this, he shifted his feet, looked down and back at me, and then after what seemed like forever he turned and stomped off to get a mop.  Oh goodness I was so relieved, and do you know what?  After that night, he never gave me a problem again, in fact quite the opposite.  He became cooperative, trusted me, the entire group gelled fantastically, so much so that when their former supervisor returned, he took over a different group!

But overall his initial behavior was a systemic problem in the military.  What finally got me fed up was the constant having to prove myself to every new guy I had to work with.  Men's reputations proceeded them.  "Oh, that guy really knows his stuff!"  People accepted what they said based on reputation alone.

In proficiency exams they gave every year I had tested at the top of my job in the Atlantic and then Pacific Fleets in sequential years, I even got a commendation for it.  I was good enough at my job to get a full-time day staff position.  None of it mattered.  The moment some new guy would meet me, I'd have to perform like a trained dog before he'd believe I was capable.

After 6.5 years in the military, I'd had enough of that.  I could not see proving myself over and over for another 13.5 years.  I decided I didn't have to prove anything to anyone any more about whether I was capable just because I happened to be a woman, and I'd never do it again.  People who thought that way just weren't worth the time and grief.  I've only got one life, I'm going to spend it working with people who appreciate me, appreciate what I can do and want me there.

There were many other smaller stories from the military, all examples of the mistreatment of women, and I think I may do an odds and ends post at the end of this series because some of these littler stories are still worth sharing.  But this was the big one.  Next it was back to school!  And wow, what a difference 9 years can make in the world.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Anyway, we wanted a man for the job

This is a series of posts about discrimination that happened to me as a girl and woman in the 60s-80s.  See the first two entries at:
When we had to wear dresses to school
Look around the room, you don't belong here
This is a record for my kids, and for others so we don't forget how it was and what we can't go back to.

So there I was after high school, having barely survived it, I had given up on college, my spirit had been broken.

I was working at McDonalds making breakfast during the week and doing night maintenance on the weekends.  I can't even remember how I got into the night maintenance part, but it was great and suited my mechanical tendencies very well.

I really enjoyed working at McDonalds, the camaraderie with the other employees, and the praise I got for doing a good job.  I was very good at making breakfast, the managers and customers loved me and that felt great.  (To me cooking, sewing and knitting are also just like doing mechanical things, figuring out how to do it and do it well, very fun.)

At night maintenance I did great too.  I ended up doing the night maintenance when our store came under national inspection and we passed with flying colors.  I rocked at my job and that really did a lot to boost my self-esteem.

The owners would come around from time to time and I would even play practical jokes on them and get them to laugh.  (I love making people laugh!)  I really felt like I belonged, I became confident about my work, I was actually very happy and was satisfied in the place I'd found for myself.

So after around a year there and really doing well, a full-time night maintenance position came open at one of the other stores.  I knew I was the most senior person who had experience at that job so I would be up for that spot, and I really wanted it.  It would be $150 a week, a step up, and there was a solid record that I was good at it, I figured I was a shoe in!

But then I find out through the grape vine the job had been given to a man who had only been working for McDonalds for 2 months and had never done night maintenance.  I was perplexed, what the hell was going on? The maintenance supervisor hadn't even called to tell me. So I called him.

I will never, ever forget that phone call.  I asked what was going on, why were they giving the job to this guy, why wasn't I being offered the job.  The answer?  "Well, he needs this job because he has a family to support, blah, blah, blah.  And anyway, we wanted a man for the job."  I remember hearing those words, here it was all over again, being treated like a 2nd class citizen because I'm a woman, again!  I went dead cold, it didn't crush me this time, I was furious.

My response, spoken slowly was "Oh, I see." I hung up the phone without saying goodbye.

I went back to work as usual, at least until that weekend.  Then when I came in for night maintenance, I proceeded to take apart the equipment to service it, but then did not put any of it back together.  When the day maintenance guy came in, he looked and said, "Hey you're running behind!"  I said, "No, I'm quitting." to which he laughed, and we sat down, had some soda and chatted a little.  When it got close enough for folks to be about 30 minutes away from coming in to open up I left and asked him to call them and let them know.

The store opened a couple of hours late, which was a huge deal.  I remember when I went to get my last paycheck and turn in my uniforms, there were no more friendly greetings, they were pissed.  I never explained why I did it.

I knew I was the right person for that job, and the self-confidence I'd built, the sureness of it I'd felt kept me from bowing to it this time.  I knew it was wrong and I wasn't going to put up with it.

So now what?  It was 1980, jobs were scarce  and even worse, I certainly wasn't going to get a recommendation from my previous employer! So I went to the recruiting office for the Navy.  My dad had been in the Navy in World War II, my grandfather had in his day, so I decided I'd just join up.  (This is where the adventurous part of my personality serves me well.)

I took the ASVAB and got the highest score possible, 99.  They were champing at the bit to get me in.  If women had been allowed on submarines at the time I would have been sent to 'nuc' school.  But since I was a woman, the best option they had at the time was "Ocean Systems Technician," basically anti-submarine warfare from shore based facilities.

I joined, but had to wait, so it was in 1981 I was finally flown down to Orlando for the next adventure in my life.  As you can imagine, the military had it's own set of challenges for me as a woman.  I was much better equipped to deal with them after what had happened, but still it was hard.  I'll talk about what happened there next so that these stories are recorded, and I hope others are inspired to give their own stories too so that we never go back to how it was.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Look around the room, you don't belong here

This is a series of posts about discrimination that happened to me as a girl and woman in the 60s-80s.  See the first entry at: When we had to wear dresses to school This is a record for my kids, and for others so we don't forget how it was and what we can't go back to.

When I was in high school, I had a strong preference for math and science.  I was a really geeky, shy and introverted, but I had an adventurous side even so.  I loved trying new things. Outside of school I did High Adventure Explorers, and at school, the Vo-Tech building was calling to me.  There was stuff there I wanted to try!

So in my Junior year of high school in 1977, I requested permission to take a class in the Vo-Tech building and got the go ahead.  I was going to take Drafting!

I was the first girl to take a class over in the Vo-Tech building and a little nervous (I was not a very self-assured kid) but the teacher was very happy to have me in the class and I excelled at the precision that was required and loved drawing the diagrams of bolts and other mechanical things.

So my first semester went great, I got an A and I was very eager to continue because next semester it was to be Architectural drafting.  Drawing layouts of houses, exterior and interiors.  I was champing at the bit.  First day of the semester my wonderful teacher introduced a new student teacher who would be working with him this semester.  I didn't think much of it at the time and happily started working at my now familiar drafting table.  But it wasn't to last.

Although I don't think it started the first day, pretty soon this student teacher took to visiting my drafting table daily and heaping on me his derision and hatred of me being in his class.

"Look around the room, you see that?" (Indicating it was all boys) "You don't belong here."
"Women don't belong in technical fields."
"You shouldn't be in this building."

And on and on.  I completely wilted under this daily barrage.  I was so painfully shy and had a strong respect for authority figures such as police and teachers.  I was utterly crushed.  I had no idea what to do.  I never told my parents, other teachers, anyone.  I stopped doing work for school for all my classes and barely hung on for the semester.

Sadly the teacher who had been so great for me spoke to me in the last few days of the semester.  He knew something was going on and he was going to give me a passing grade anyway due to the 'circumstances.'  So he had some clue, but didn't stand up for me or stop what was happening.

In my senior year I just kind of made my way through and barely graduated.  I tried to start college, but my heart was not in it and I dropped out.  I had lost my hope.  I settled into a job at McDonald's doing breakfast during the week, and night maintenance on the weekend with no thoughts of going to college.  I was ready to live a minimum wage job life.  This man had changed the course of my life for the worse, and it could have been permanent.

Now, working in a highly technical job with a mathematics degree under my belt I wish I'd had the spirit and strength to just deck the guy.  It still bothers me every time I think about it.  What was this guy's problem? Picking on some little girl just trying to do what she loved.  I feel sorry for any woman who got involved with him, and my only regret is that he probably messed up more lives than mine.

Sometimes I wish I could look him up and find him and and go "IN YOUR FACE!!!" and show him my damn degree, how I graduated Summa, and what my annual salary is now.

The reality is mine is a mild story of discrimination.  Many women at that time faced much worse than me.  It's important to keep these stories out there so that the women born and raised today never have to see anything of it's like again.  They face their own challenges, more subtle now, but nothing so damned overt at least it didn't feel that way until this past year.  The War on Women reminds me of those bad old days, like a zombie risen from the grave.  I thought we killed that thing already damn it!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

When we had to wear dresses to school

I was writing about cooking for a while and enjoying it, but getting the images into the pages was a pain so I tapered off doing it.

With what has been going on the past few months for the election I've been reminded of all the experiences I've had in my life related to mistreatment based on my gender and thought I'd write about them just so my kids, and others, can see what it was really like.  Why what we've achieved so far is so important and why we shouldn't go backwards.  These recent pronouncements on rape, birth control, and equal pay coming from men, and this general disparagement of 'feminists' feels like an attempt to put women back in their place to me.  Having been there, I'd prefer not to go back.

So first, a small story about grade school back in the late 60s.

When I was in public grade school in the late 60s in Ohio, girls were required to wear dresses to school.  You can see me in all the old class photos, and all the other girls, in their dresses.  And I'd say most of the time I didn't really think about this requirement.  When you grow up in something, you don't really see it as odd, it's just the way things are.

I'm in the front row, second from the right
But it was in winter that this requirement hit home.  Even in the middle of winter, we had to wear dresses, but we were allowed to wear pants under our dresses for the walk to school.

But once we got to school we had to take the pants off.  Now here's where things get interesting.  And this is what I remember, perhaps different teachers handled it differently, but this was my experience.  We weren't allowed to use a locker room or the bathroom to remove our pants.  We had to stand behind a movable chalk board at the front of the class and take our pants off there.  So as kids were getting seated, the girls had to go behind a chalkboard and remove our pants for school before we sat down.

I remember how this felt.  I was 'other' and shown to be 'other' in front of the entire class.  It made me feel excluded, set aside, humiliated to have to do what I did.  That the boys could see that I had to do this.  That I had to do something they didn't.  I can still picture it as clear as a video, and it's one of my clearest memories of grade school to this day.

People like to dismiss small things like this, it's easy to read it and think "What's the big deal?" but for a little girl still working out her place in the world it conveys much more than adults think it does.  What people don't realize is these gender roles are culturally reinforced from birth - EVEN TODAY.  You just don't see it because you are in the middle of it, because it's what's always been done.

My favorite example of this type of thinking is my 3 sons.  I cannot tell you how many times when I tell someone new that I have 3 sons, there is an immediate reaction "You must have to deal with fights all the time!"  Guess what?  I don't.  Because I decided what was going to be acceptable behavior in our household and I made sure it stuck.  Hitting, physical fighting was not accepted as normal behavior.  We didn't spank because our rule was people should not hit each other.  

Now I have a 13, 15, and 17 year old, and guess what? I can remember one minor hit from probably more than 10 years ago.  The boys have learned to work out their differences without resorting to hitting, and we specifically guided them in that direction.  The idea that 'boys will be boys' is a culturally accepted piece of bull crap just as much as girls being assumed to have certain behavioral tendencies.  Whatever tendencies are there to start with (and this can be debated), it is the culture that sculpts, reinforces, and suppresses what doesn't fit with the culturally accepted norms.  

What is critical is to be willing to challenge your assumptions about gender, but the first step is to try to realize what assumptions you have in the first place.
I'm in the front row, far right

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spritz, Page 119, 2nd Column, 2nd Recipe Down

I’ve gotten a little behind in my cookie blogging, so I’m going to do my most recent cookie and work my way back.  So this week it’s Spritz!

I’ve made Spritz before, but not from this recipe, so fortunately I had a cookie press.

My cookie press in its original box!
First the archeology:  Spritz is in my 1976 cook book, and all future editions I have. As it turns out, it is not in the two older versions I have from 1953 and 1936.  All versions of the recipe beyond my 1976 cook book have ½ cup less flour as the only real change.  

The closest recipe on Allrecipes.com is Swedish Spritz (without the frosting) but this recipe is more like the more recent versions in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book with less flour than the one I’m doing here.

The dough is pretty simple, the usual cream butter and sugar, then add other wet ingredients, then add in the dry ingredients.
Creamed butter and sugar.
The result is a dough very like sugar cookie dough, but with the warning not to chill it because it will be used in the press.  I should have taken pictures of loading the press, but basically it’s like filling a caulking gun.

The finished Spritz dough.
The main trick with Spritz is patience when extruding the cookies onto the cookie sheet.  My old cookie press from the 70s only had a screw mechanism to squeeze out the cookies, this made for very inconsistent cookies.  But the one I have now is nice, one squeeze of the trigger is one cookie and it’s very consistent.  It has a nice ratchet mechanism so there is a distinct ‘click’ when you’ve squeezed the handle all the way.
Spritz cookies extruded onto the cookie sheet.
But here’s the trick.  Once you squeeze the trigger, wait a few moments, don’t lift the press right away.  The dough doesn’t all come out instantly, the pressure you’ve introduced inside takes a few moments to finish causing dough to come out.  If you lift too soon, the cookie isn’t complete and dough will continue to come out as you lift the press.  You get an incomplete cookie, and more dough falling back on the sheet unshaped.
A batch of Spritz cookies freshly baked.
Although I tend to avoid gadgets, the nice thing with a cookie press is getting the cookies on the sheet and evenly spaced is a breeze.  I had over 100 spritz cookies in short order, and the cooking time is nice and short at 9 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  The whole process is much, much easier than rolled sugar cookies!

These are cookies that are better cooled and crispy rather then fresh from the oven. I’ll be bringing them all to work on Monday, so I hope they like them!
Spritz cookies ready to eat!
Lessons Learned:

Don’t use the pasta plate to make cookies.  The result is not good.  I had discs for multiple cookie shapes, and my son saw one disc with a very sparse pattern of holes.  He wanted to know what it would produce.  I had misgivings, I sensed it wasn’t meant for cookies, but decided to give it a shot.  The result was quite pathetic.  A cluster of nubs of dough that was barely touching.  Afterwards when I read over the booklet I found out that the plate was meant for extruding pasta into boiling water!

I think some of the cookies came out a little uneven from the press due to variations in the denseness of the dough.  The later versions of the recipe all have ½ cup less flour.  Maybe that’s the way to go?  At a minimum, perhaps I need to mix it longer.

Maybe increase cooking time to 10 minutes for even more crispiness and maybe a little browning would be an improvement.