Pierced Ears Hack

For my entire life having pierced ears has been a dream and a challenge. Every three or four years I would get my ears pierced, it wouldn’t “take” and then I would try again in another three or four years. Same spot, new effort. The issue? My ears heal. Always. Constantly. Like if I leave earrings out for an hour I can’t get them back in an hour later. My ears lobes just don’t want to have holes in them. And while normally I listen to my body I must admit that this battle over wearing earrings was one I was not going to lose. Even if I was allergic to most metals and my ears would swell up like tires if I put the wrong earrings in. I was going to wear earrings.

The last time I got my ears pierced was about seven years ago. I decided to go with a slightly larger hole than normal and got a “10 gauge” which should translate roughly to 2.4 mm or 3/32 inch. It doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s larger than your average piercing and treading the fine line of looking like one of “them weirdos” when visiting conservative, rural parts of Oregon (where I am native to).  I got the piercing, slept with my special thicker earrings, and once fully healed started wearing regular earrings occasionally. And healed down to a regular size permanently after forgetting to sleep with earrings one night. And healed over completely after a couple of more nights.

Now at this point it might seem that vigilance is key. I simply have to always wear earrings to bed and never go more than an hour without earrings in.

I don’t make plans based on always or never.

After many years without wearing earrings at all, basically letting the desire stew in the back of my mind, I noticed that smaller silicone plugs seemed readily available for 8 gauge and up and came up with an idea! After an appropriate amount of research and contemplation and procrastination I went to Black Hole Piercing here in Portland. Happily the piercer there was willing to stab me with a large enough needle to create an 8 gauge. If I wanted a 6 gauge I would have had to get an 8 gauge piercing and “size up” which is a long process of stretching ears. For reference, the smaller the number on the gauge the larger the hole so 8 gauge is 3.2 mm and 6 gauge is 4 mm.

The initial earrings I got were glass and later I ordered silicone tunnels on Amazon. The first pair I ordered were Ultra Thin Flexible Clear Silicone Earskin Flesh Tunnel Plugs which seemed like a great idea but in implementation I could not get them in my ears. My husband could not get them in my ears. The combined intelligence and skill of our household could not get them in my ears. If I’d gone to the piercing shop they probably could have helped but I didn’t want to go to the piercing shop every time I wanted to put these babies back in.

I searched and I searched and found lots of youtube videos of teenagers easily popping silicone plugs into their ears and felt old. I did notice theirs all looked different so I set out to order some that looked more like the plugs in the videos. I couldn’t find them separately but for $12 I was happy to buy the whole kit of all the sizes of soft silicone tunnels. In this monstrous pile of things I will most likely never use was a single tiny ziplock bag with an 8 gauge soft silicone flaired tunnel. And with a gentle shove and a pop and a moment of “really?” it was in and I had the gateway to wearing real earrings!

The key is that these little tunnels have a hole in them. A hole through which I can put other earrings hooks (and probably posts though I haven’t tried that yet).  Viola! All the earrings I have are suddenly wearable even the ones with cheap hooks that used to make my ears swell up because of what turned out to be a nickel allergy. So not only does this fix the ears healing up problem (leave the soft silicone plugs in basically all the time) but it also fixes the sensitivity to metals problem.

Pictures follow!


And ears!


Categories: tips | Leave a comment

One Year Anniversary of Surgery

A year ago today I had a middle fossa craniotomy to fix a tiny hole in my head called superior canal dehiscence. It was one of the smartest decisions of my life. After the surgery I wrote a post about the symptoms I had had and the symptoms that still lingered less than a month after surgery. Given the anniversary I thought I’d do another post on symptoms.

This was the original list, now with notes of how I’m doing a year later.

Pulse-synchronous oscillopsia. (The little dot in my eye that goes ping ping ping or ponk ponk ponk.): Gone.
Hyperacusis, over sensitivity to sound: Gone. My husband is shocked at the amount of noise I tolerate now.
Low-frequency conductive hearing loss: Gone.
Headache/migraine:  The old headache is gone. Sometimes the bone aches when the weather pressure changes. I have a friend who broke his wrist who has the same problem. Bone heals slowly.
Autophony: Gone. SO weird that my voice only exists outside my head!
Vertigo/Nausea: I still get dizzy if I overdo the walking while moving my head but nausea and falling down and bumping into things all gone.
Ear Fullness: My ear still feels funny like there’s something in it but only when the weather pressure is up and not in that airplane taking off with a headcold way that it did before.
Brain Fog: Still gone!!!!

Happy days and eternal thanks to Dr Wackym in Portland who fixed my head.

Categories: health, SCDS, surgery recovery, symptoms | 3 Comments


My friend John is growing a mustache to help raise funds to better men’s health. Read more at the site. Consider donating.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Doing Something Re: #Gamergate

I just wrote to Intel:

Dear Intel,

At OSCON and through other sources I have heard of Intel’s desire to hire more women in the STEM fields. I believe your engineering department understands the benefits of gender diversity as well as other forms of diversity in programming.

Yet meanwhile your advertising department has pulled advertising from sites like Gamasutra because they allowed a handful of men claim any article discussing the changes in the culture of gaming bullies _them_.

How are female engineers (some of whom have left the game development industry) to trust Intel’s stated desire for diversity in STEM when you’re caving to the influence of the worst parts of sexist geek culture?

I am writing not just as someone who buys Intel products but also as someone who lives in Portland and had considered Intel as an interesting potential employer. Sadly, so long as Intel takes its direction from movements like #Gamergate the idea of Intel as an interesting place for women in computer science to work will have to remain past tense.

Thank you for reading all the way through,
Rebekah Golden
BS Computer Science
Software Engineer – 10 yrs

posted publicly in spite of the fact that it will probably get me doxxed and threats

Categories: feminism, geeky, women in computer science | Leave a comment

PSU Critical Disability Studies study

From a friend:

PSU is trying to get a Critical Disability Studies program going, and they need to show interest in it. Here’s a link to a survey about it. Please distribute widely. They want national response. I’d love to see such a thing happen! https://portlandstate.qualtrics.com//SE/?SID=SV_4JkT8XlLZeukXcx

Categories: geeky, health | Leave a comment

Self Confidence and Minorities

Yesterday I gave my pep talk to a friend. The summary?

  1. You do better than you think
  2. Don’t compare yourself to others
  3. Contributions don’t have to be equivalent to be valuable
  4. When you don’t feel as smart as everyone else just work to be handy, helpful and hardworking ™

The irony? Normally I give this talk to other women in the technology field who work predominantly men. Yesterday I gave my pep talk to a black man who works mostly with white people. It got me thinking. Is there an inherent self confidence issue to having obvious physical differences from everyone around you? Maybe particularly physical differences that have been labeled negative, like being overweight?

If I searched I’m sure I would find other stories, researched I would find data. Meanwhile it’s just a thought. Add to that some articles I’ve read recently about confidence and career advancement and I have some more thoughts to think.

Meanwhile, remember, you don’t have to be a super hero to be good at your job. You don’t have to be Bruce Wayne to have value.

Categories: philosophy, women in computer science | Leave a comment

Six Months Post-Op

June 6 was my six months post-op date and I didn’t post. I feel so much better that having had brain surgery feels like it could have never happened. Except for the spot on my head with no nerves, the twinge in my skull when the weather changes, and the occasional bit of buzzing or ringing in my ear. So I can feel I had surgery but meanwhile I just feel wholer than I did before.

I also feel more relaxed, less anxious. I try to get to the gym twice a week, am getting to work regularly with sick days only for when I have a normal sort of flu or cold, and am thinking very clearly. I’m not as productive as I dreamed I would be. Instead I find myself thinking about who I feel like now that my head is all healed up. Not that I am a different person from before my surgery. It’s just I feel more capable of doing more in a slow and graceful way. I am also out of the habit of doing more and am slowly building up my stamina for life.  Still taking long naps on weekends but not as often.

What next? Camping. Road trips. Building up friendships.

Categories: health, SCDS, surgery recovery | 4 Comments

Drupalcon in Austin Texas: Day 1

I left home yesterday (Sunday morning) at 6am. I was supposed to fly out at 8am but my flight was delayed. I suppose that would have been a great chance to go back and get my walking stick which my subconscious had conveniently forgotten but instead chose to consciously forget. I am so tired of the walking stick.

My first plane left at noon and arrived in Dallas around 6pm. Dallas was a long walk from one terminal to the next then waiting and frustration. I’ve flown Delta for so long I’ve started to take for granted good customer service. American Airlines does not compare. I arrived in Austin around 8pm, waited for luggage, waited for a shuttle to a hotel, talked to a neat person also attending my geek conference (aka Drupalcon).

I had a light breakfast, early lunch and no other food. I arrived at the hotel hungry to discover that it didn’t have a cafe, that nothing was in walking distance, that the only option was an overpriced tv dinner sold at the front desk for the microwave in the room. At least the bed was comfy.

I woke at 6am, had the Best Western powdered egg and mostly meat breakfast, then walked about a half mile to the nearest Car2Go. I just didn’t feel like dealing with a cab. Walking out of the Best Western I was hit by a wall of humidity and heat. There was a field of scotch broom the size of small trees. Flowers bloomed. Yards were full of cactus the way small ornamental trees are planted in Portland.

An hour to get to the hotel to find out the room hadn’t been changed from the person who didn’t go to my name (the person who went instead) and checked my bags so I could go to the conference without dragging them around. I took the class on security which was fun, ate conference food for lunch, conference food for early dinner, some socializing, my annual Rackspace t-shirt.

Back at the hotel my stomach started rebelling from the poor food. I went to a late dinner at a nice Italian restaurant called La Traviata. Duck confit and pinot grigio. I’m feeling much better. I’ll write up more another time. The pool opens at 6am and I hope to wake up just about then and try to swim a bit before breakfast.

Categories: Austin TX, geeky, traveling | Leave a comment

From Going to Running Away

The gym I joined has a class named Barre. This is a ballet term that describes a series of exercises that would be fabulous for my vestibular system: standing up straight, positioning feet, bending knees and standing on tip toes, moving arms, all without falling over.

When I was last at the gym I noted the time it took place: 5:30am on Tuesdays.

Last night I went to bed early and this morning I woke up at 5am. I really want to go to this class.

I got dressed and ate a light breakfast (cottage cheese and peaches) then tried to figure out what shoes to wear. I’ve taken ballet, both as a child and as an adult, but don’t have ballet slippers. I also don’t have tennis shoes. I do have house slippers. I grabbed some house slippers and slipped on some Crocs.

On the way to the front door I passed the window into the room where the class was setting up. I could see that people were wearing neat light tennis shoes, socks, and some ballet slippers. I suddenly felt frumpy. I try to take pride in the fact that I haven’t spent ridiculous amounts on the informal uniform of athletic clubs. The sleek black lycra with racing stripes. I really do need to get some appropriate shoes though.* House slippers? Really? But I really want to go to this class!

It also seemed as if the class, which was gathering, was full of petite athletic women. I look like a woman from a Wagnerian opera, except I don’t sing that well and I’m not blonde.  Deep breath, I really want to go to this class.

Into the gym I dash, momentarily hating the sign “strong is beautiful.” Who cares about beauty? Why does beauty have to come into it? Why can’t strong just be strong?

Through the maze of exercise machines and over to the class room, I open the door, and the class has started. Probably only by seconds but started. I duck out like I’m lost. Try to convince myself to go back. Instead run away.

Next time I will get there early. Being in a rush, starting late, just increases the awkwardness beyond what I can stand. Next steps: appropriate (pretty), comfortable shoes, get there least ten minutes early, deep breaths.



*Appropriate shoes: my preference is to be barefoot. I admit that I wear the Vibram funny toe shoes. Now Vibram is paying everyone who ever bought their shoes money because they are sorry because people who wear Vibrams are stupid. I feel like wearing them is a big stupid mark on me. I like them though and have the hardest time finding any shoes that are as comfortable as being barefoot or Vibrams which is nearly barefoot.

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Irony Loves Me

I drank a lot of tap water in NYC. I drink tap water at home. Tap water is safe.

Yesterday morning I came down with horrible stomach sick including stomach cramps like you wouldn’t believe. Stomach flu, food poisoning or something.

Nope. Portland OR has a “boil your water” warning out and I (probably) have e coli.

Why does irony love me? I spent the last twenty four hours chugging water in an attempt to stay hydrated because of my stomach thing which is probably the result of drinking that same water.

Categories: health, Portland OR | Leave a comment

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