Friday, January 12, 2018

Weekend Reading: Links from the Road Edition

I am sitting at a not very comfortable table in a hotel in Santa Clara. I'm here to give a short talk in a little while, and then I'll head to the airport and fly home. It has been a short visit, but it has been fun so far.

So, I don't have a lot of time to put together links for you, but I wanted to share some I'd found this week:

First, some politics:

Here is a good explainer of the current state of the Arizona Senate race. I am following this one because I'm from Arizona, but I think it is of general interest, since it may be one of the races that determines control of the Senate.

This article about Justice Ginsberg's opinion that has set some important precedent on gerrymandering is really interesting.

Dianne Feinstein's decision to release the Fusion GPS testimony made me cheer. Josh Marshall's take on what it revealed is worth your time.

And in non-political news:

The woman who create the "Shitty Men in Media" spreadsheet wrote about it, and it is a really good piece.

Geraldine DeRutier's post about making the pizza crust cinnamon rolls from Mario Batali's apology letter is so, so good. If you only read one thing in my list this week, make it this one.

Bunnies!




Stern bunny!


And now I have to go get ready for my talk. Happy weekend everyone!

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Family Fun List 2018

It is a new year... and so we have a new family fun list. Last year's post about our family fun list explains the background, but the short version is that every year we each pick three things we want to do together as a family for fun. Then we try to do them all. We never make it all the way through the list, so the person with the most items missed gets to suggest a bonus item for the next year's list. 

Before I share this year's list, let's look at how we did in 2017:
  • Make a LEGO city (Petunia) - DONE, in January
  • Walk around our neighborhood looking at Christmas lights (Pumpkin) - DONE, in December (obviously)
  • Go to Mexico (Mr. Snarky) - DONE, we went to Tecate in October. We had fun, and the kids did a great job speaking Spanish.
  • Try a new restaurant (me) - DONE, we tried out a local fried chicken place that everyone raves about called, The Crack Shack. The food was good, and we had fun.
  • Invite [one of her friends and her family] to our local pizza place for dinner (Petunia) - Oops. Not done. I just didn't get it scheduled. We're going to try to do this soon, but have decided that future family fun list items cannot rely on scheduling time with another family. That's just too hard!
  • Go to a botanical garden (Pumpkin) - Done, in September.
  • Go to Dave and Buster's (Mr. Snarky) - Done, and OMG that was sensory overload for me. So much noise! So many lights. GAH.
  • Go to Legoland (Me) - DONE, we went on Super Bowl Sunday, as is our wont.
  • Have an art competition, with [my sister] to judge (Petunia) - DONE, at the last minute, in Arizona. We made caterpillars out of cardboard tubes. Mr. Snarky won.
  • Paint our own ceramics at the paint-your-own ceramics place in Liberty Station (Pumpkin) - DONE, and we all had fun.
  • Go on a hike up a mountain (Mr. Snarky) - DONE, also in Arizona. We walked up Tempe Butte. Mr. Snarky wanted a more mountain-y mountain, but my asthma wasn't great and the kids were skeptical, so this is what he got.
  • Take a bike ride along the river (Me) - DONE.
  • Bonus: Art, Cuddles, and Doughnuts Day (It is our own holiday that the kids just invented. They saw a TV show in which the characters tried to invent a holiday... and this was their idea.) - Not done. We blame the lack of rainy days.
Here's some tweets from our fun list outings:

Here is the family art project:


On our trip to the Botanical Garden, we saw a corpse flower:


After our bike ride by the river, we pedaled over to Quivera Basin and had some french fries and enjoyed the view:


An here's proof we went to Tecate:

We walked across the border.



Here's what we plan to do this year:
  • Go to a trampoline place with a foam pit (Petunia)
  • Art, Cuddles, and Doughnuts Day (Pumpkin... here's hoping we get a rainy weekend day!)
  • Got to a movie in a theater (Mr. Snarky... this is a big deal because neither Pumpkin nor I are big movie goers)
  • Beach day (Me... actually, I'm hoping for several, but this will ensure I plan at least one good one!)
  • Family sewing day (Petunia... I do not own a sewing machine, so I guess we'll all be hand-stitching)
  • Go to [a local indoor rock climbing place] (Pumpkin)
  • Go to [a water park near my parent's house] (Mr. Snarky)
  • Try a new restaurant (Me)
  • Have a picnic at a park (Petunia)
  • Walk around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights (Pumpkin)
  • Hike at least 400 ft of elevation (Mr. Snarky... someone learned his lesson about not being specific, I guess.)
  • Go to a special event at Balboa Park (Me... there are lots to choose from, but the current front runner is either the Diwali festival or the international food festival. Or maybe we'll get to both!)
  • Bonus: Go to a kids' museum
Will this year be the year we get to everything on the list? Check back in next January to find out!


Friday, January 05, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Writing Another "Before the Job Starts" To Do List Edition

It is sort of surreal to be writing another list of things to do before starting a new job, when I just wrote such a list in November. But here I am, deciding what long put-off chores (e.g., cleaning out the garage) and must do items (e.g., getting my corporate taxes done) I'll try to do in my remaining "free" time before a job starts. I didn't make it through the last to do list before I started the job, but I did finish it before the end of 2017, so I get to write a brand new list!

Don't worry, I'm trying to leave space for some recreation, too. For instance, I went for a delightful rollerblade today, although it was a windy one. The wind was blowing in the marine layer, so I got to rollerblade into the marine layer, which was fun. A guy biking past asked me if I thought that was rain we were heading towards. I said no, it was just the marine layer and he looked at me funny. He must have been a tourist or a recent transplant to San Diego! There were also a lot of birds out today. I saw an egret and pelicans, which I don't think I've ever seen before at the bay. It was a good outing.

Anyhow, on to the links. I have some older ones stored up from last week, too, since I didn't write a weekend reading post last week.

This article by Max Boot about how he used to dismiss "white male privilege" but the Trump era has changed his mind is sort of extraordinary. I saw a lot of people on Twitter rolling their eyes a bit at the fact that it took a catastrophe like this to get him to listen to women and people of color about their lives, and I understand that response. But I also understand how hard it is to see the issues when the structure of society hides them from you, and I guess I am glad he (and others like him) are acknowledging what they can see now that Trumpism has ripped away some of the polite veneer and exposed the ugly attitudes that many people still hold.

I found Josh Marshall's perspective on 2018 very helpful. More generally, I've found his editorials and the explainer/synthesis of what we know pieces (available to TPM subscribers only, so I haven't linked to them) he's done in the last year very useful for keeping me from grounded about what is going on.

Someone finally did the "visit to anti-Trump country" piece, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it is less satisfying than you might think to read.

This article about a stepping show at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is really good, and worth taking some time to think about.

Like many women, I found Eva Hagberg Fisher's "How I Learned to Look Believable" quietly devastating.

If you haven't read the Washington Post story about how Lucy Kalanithi and John Duberstein met and fell in love... you should. It is heart-breaking and beautiful and hopeful.

This piece about work-life balance at Patagonia is interesting.

I found this short Cool Mom Tech piece about raising good digital citizens useful.

The Belt Revivals series from Belt Publishing looks really interesting!

This podcast looks interesting!




I didn't listen to many podcasts this week, but I did listen to and enjoy Ezra Klein's interview with Jon Favreau.

Cool!


Bunnies!


Happy weekend, everyone

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Personal Goals 2018

It is time for may annual post about my goals for the upcoming year, and how I did on last year's goals.

Despite the bad political situation, 2017 was a better year than 2016 for my mental state. I don't really know why that is, but I've decided to put it down to having worked through a lot of accumulated mental baggage in 2015 and 2016, and reaping the benefits of that last year. Here's hoping I continue to reap those benefits!

But how did I do on my specific goals? Eh, not so great. I only did slightly more than half of them. Here's the accounting (you can read more about the goals in last year's post):

1. Keep up my exercise routine. SUCCEED! At least, I am counting it as a success, even though my routine went to hell in November and December. It wasn't my fault I got sick and couldn't really do much exercise. I did manage a couple of rollerblades, but there was no way I could run. Still, the rest of the year, I did well.

2. Read a book instead of playing on my phone at least one kid's bedtime per week. FAIL. I did this sometimes, but not at all consistently. I think the problem was that by the time we got to bedtime, I was often just out of energy and wanted to do whatever sounded best, not what I thought I "should" do. So, failing at this goal showed me that I need to find a different time for reading. I like to read, but my brain is often too tired by the time we get to the bedtime routine to really want to do it.

3. Get making music back into my life. FAIL. Sigh. I haven't figured out why I keep failing at this one. I think I genuinely miss making music, but for some reason I just don't make the time for it.

4. Volunteer - find a regular volunteer thing. SUCCEED! I am volunteering with a local organization that helps foster youth who are aging out of the system. I've only done one event with them so far, but I'm scheduled for another one next week, and I think I'll eventually find where I fit best in this organization and make this a long term thing.

5. Frame the postcards for the office. SUCCEED! I don't think I have them in the optimal arrangement on the wall, but they are in frames and on the wall and so I call this a win.

6. Paint baseboards in the hall. SUCCEED! Actually, Mr. Snarky did this, but I probably did something with the kids that made it possible for him to do it, so I'm claiming success. We're a team, right?

7. Buy a new mattress. SUCCEED! And it is awesome.

8. Invent a signature cocktail. FAIL. I didn't even try. Oh well.

9. Establish a yoga/meditation practice. FAIL. I need a class for this one, I think. I just won't do it on my own. And I haven't found a class that fits my schedule. A new yoga studio opened in my neighborhood and that might work, but they do hot yoga and I'm not sure that's what I want.

Okay, on to this year's goals. I decided to scale back a bit this year, because I have a lot of changes in my routine to absorb, and I think that will take a fair amount of the time and energy that is allocated to me (as opposed to my family). So I only set myself six goals:

1. Establish a new exercise routine. The old one won't work anymore, since I won't be working from home twice a week and I don't think I'll have the schedule flexibility to go rollerblading during the week. Luckily, there is a YMCA very close to my new job, and since I'm already a member (due to the kids' activities) I am going to try to use it. I've got an appointment for an introductory tour next week.

2. Start our backyard upgrade. When we added our office in 2015, we said we'd do up the backyard next. Here it is, 2018, and the backyard hasn't been done up. There's a lot we want to do, so I doubt we'll have the time or money to finish it this year, but I want to at least get started.

3. Organize the kitchen. If I had heaps of money, I'd say "remodel the kitchen" but that's not in the cards, so I need to clean out and organize so that the kids' drink bottles don't fall out of the cupboard when we open it and I don't curse at the cupboard of doom (the big, awkward shaped cupboard that stores the things that don't fit anywhere else) quite so much.

4. Read a short story every week. This is the next iteration of my reading goal from last year. I think that by not saying when I have to do it, I'm more likely to do it. I like reading short stories, so really it is just a matter of deciding to read one now and then. I may read at night, or on my lunch break, or while waiting for Petunia's art class to finish... there are lots of options.

5. Do what I can to help in the 2018 elections. I struggled with what to write on this one. I didn't want to make it too concrete, because I didn't want to give myself permission not to keep pushing to do more. I really do think these elections are that important. (I have my first batch of postcards to write this week!)

6. Try at least one new recipe every month. I am bored with what I've been cooking but inertia keeps me from trying new things. I'm hoping that by making it a goal, I'll do better. I already tried a new recipe this month: sweet potato and corn tacos. We had them for dinner tonight (well, Mr. Snarky and I did: Pumpkin had a plain tortilla with cheese and Petunia had a quesadilla) - and they were good.

I also have a stealth goal: one I didn't want to formalize on this list, but that I'm hoping to make happen, anyway. I want to lose some weight. My weight has crept up over the past few years, and I don't like it. Obviously, the exercise goal supports this, but I'm also trying out tracking calories. I installed an app and have been using it. We'll see if that approach works for me. It is certainly making me more conscious of what I eat! I may or may not lose weight this year, but I think I will at least learn enough about my preferences that I can make it a real goal next year.

I still need to work on my goals for Annorlunda Enterprises for 2018. I'll write about those in my next newsletter

Do you have any goals or resolutions for 2018 that you want to share?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Year in Review: 2017

It is time for my annual year in review post. (Here's last year's post if you want details... you can click through and read earlier years from there.)

I don't think I wrote enough this year to pick my usual two to three posts per month. So instead, I'll just summarize the year and share a few posts.

Obviously, the political situation in the US was a big part of my year. The post I wrote the day before Trump's inauguration summarized how I felt at the start of the year, and it is still accurate. January also featured the release day for Caresaway.

In February, I ranted a bit about how angry all the lies in our political discussions make me.

In March, I wrote about why I don't think we should worry about immigrants "assimilating." And I found a great recipe for pizza dough. It is easy enough to mix together in the morning that I think we can continue our Friday night pizza dinners even when I am no longer working from home on Fridays!

I found 2016 and the ugliness around the election to be much harder on me as a woman than 2017 was, but I know that for many women, 2017 was the year when the anger about all the extra crap we've had to deal with broke out. I do have at least one post relevant to that: some thoughts I had after having lunch with an old friend in April. I also wrote about our spring break trip up the coast to Santa Barbara.

The headwinds I was feeling in May eventually combined with some other factors to make me decide to go back to "regular employee" status... which led to all the drama I've been posting about recently (and will summarize below).  I also wondered how much further down we'd go in terms of bad behavior by political leaders. I'm sad to say, I don't think we have found the bottom yet. But I had a good birthday!

June brought the release day for Hemmed In, which is my best performing Taster Flight to date. I also wrote about trying to figure out how to keep Pumpkin challenged and happy at school, and got some good suggestions in the comments.

We took our vacation at the end of June and beginning of July. It was a road trip around some Western states, and it was wonderful. We saw many wonderful things, and you can go click around to find all the posts about them. I also wrote about some political observations from our time in Utah.

I didn't post much in August, partly because I had a week solo with the kids as Mr. Snarky flew to New Zealand to surprise his father for his birthday.

In September, I wrote about what I learned from my mid-life crisis. A lot of those lessons figured into my eventual decision to go back to being a full time employee. I also released Water into Wine.

I finally finished up my posts about our summer vacation in October: here's the last post. And I wrote about my theory for why we have mid-life crises.

November brought the release day for The Burning, and since I was struggling with a cold and then follow on illnesses that in the end wiped out my entire month, my announcement about my decision to go back to being a regular employee came as part of a Weekend Reading post.

And that brings us to December. There was a release day for Both Sides of My Skin, and then I lost the old new job and got the new new job.

All in all, 2017 was a tough year, but one that my country came through better than I feared we would at the start. There were some great times for me and my family, and some tough personal decisions. I felt like I reaped the benefits of the some hard personal work I'd done in the previous few years, so I guess that's a plug for not putting off that personal work. I had no way of knowing that in sorting through some of my old buried issues in 2015 and 2016 I was making it easier for me to get through 2017... but this year, I was really, really glad I'd dealt with those old issues when I  did!

So in that spirit, I plan to spend some time over the next few days thinking about how to be ready for the challenges I think 2018 will bring, both in terms of the wider political situation and in terms of my own personal situation. I may write about that, but that will need to wait until another night. For now, I'll just thank you all for reading in 2017!

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