Friday, September 29, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Birthday Party Panic Edition

We're gearing up for Petunia's 8th birthday party. She wanted a party in our backyard this year, which is sooo much more work than a party somewhere else. And she wanted a doctor theme, which was... interesting. I'm pretty pleased with how it has come together by there's a lot to do to get set up and ready!

I can't really believe my little one is going to be 8, but she is. She is delightful, of course. I realized this week that I want to keep writing "mommyblog" posts, but I need to think a bit about how to do that now that my kids are big kids, not babies or toddlers. I think the key is going to be to focus on my feelings and reactions more than what they're doing/saying, because the latter increasingly feels like it isn't my story to tell.

But anyway, this is a links post not a parenting post. So let's get to the links!

First and foremost, Wednesday was release day for Water into Wine. I wrote about it on Wednesday. You can also read a review at Fill Your Bookshelf (warning: some spoilers).

In other news...

Josh Marshall on the current state of the GOP "base" is really good.

Alexandra Petri on the GOP focus on taxes is brutal. It is brutal, but I think it is fair.

Read that previous piece in conjunction with this article from Bruce Bartlett, a Republican adviser who helped architect the Reagan tax cuts, on the fallacy of the argument that tax cuts spur growth.

Rebecca Traister's article about the right wing campaign to sour the left wing of the Democratic party on Elizabeth Warren and how that mirrors what they did to Hillary Clinton is really, really depressing. I hope people see through the Mercers' campaign this time, but I suspect they won't.

Yascha Mounk helped me better understand the German election. The Pod Save the World episode on the rise of the European far right was also really helpful (warning, that link will autoplay the episode).

This story about older Americans unable to stop working makes me sad. We are failing so many people.

These photos of scenes from politics and world events with all the men photoshopped out are striking and so depressing.

I found Erika Hayasaki's article on creativity and motherhood really interesting.

An improved breast pump isn't attracting any VC interest.

You've probably already seen Gemma Hartley's article about the emotional labor imbalance, but if you haven't, it is worth your time. As I said on Twitter, straight men can do their relationships with their partners a lot of good by reading it and really thinking about it.

It prompted me to finally just go ahead and post an article I wrote about balancing the suckiness and a time when that failed for us recently. I'd been trying to find a paying home for that, but decided to give up on that and just post it on my real name blog.

If you haven't seen Lt. Gen. Jay B Silveria's response to a racist incident at the Air Force Academy prep school yet, watch it now:





This picture.





A great DuoLingoism:




Click through and read this story:




Bunnies!




And OMG baby kakapos are cute:




That's all I have this week. Next time you hear from me, the birthday party will be done....

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Walk on the Beach and a Release Day

I had lunch with my marketing consultant today, and decided it would be a good day to treat myself to a much delayed walk on the beach after lunch.

I had several successes to celebrate:

Since today is release day, I'll share a bit more about Water into Wine. It is a sci-fi novella set on a distant planet, but I think you should check it out even if you don't read sci-fi often, because it has such interesting characters. 



One of the things I love about the book (and the other books I've read by Joyce) is the way it takes her culture and imagines it into the future. This is a pretty standard thing for sci-fi to do, but so often, sci-fi only takes white European culture and imagines it into the future. Chng takes her Straits Chinese culture and imagines it forward, which opens up new possibilities. I love reading science fiction from people writing from other cultures, because I think it expands my ideas about what the future might be.

But leaving all that aside, what this book is at its core is a story about a family trying to make a life for themselves amidst chaotic external circumstances they cannot control. It is probably obvious why that resonated with me right now! In Water into Wine, these circumstances are an interstellar war, and a real strength of the book is portraying ordinary people trying to just live their lives during a war.

If any of that intrigues you, please grab a copy of the book today. All the purchase links are on the book's webpage. You can also find links to it in Overdrive, so if you can't afford the book and still want to read it, consider asking your librarian about it. 

So, that's what I was celebrating. It was a nice walk on the beach. The weather was perfect. The shells weren't so great, though. I had a pretty small haul:

The shells were small today, including the sand dollar. It is roughly the size of my thumbnail.

However, right about at my turnaround point, I got a huge treat. First a flock of pelicans flew by. And then, while I was watching them, I saw dolphins out past the break! I watched them for quite awhile, since they essentially kept pace with me as I walked back towards my starting point.

There were dolphins at the second break line right before I took the picture!
After I lost sight of the dolphins, a lone pelican flew past quite close to shore, and I saw one of these guys:



I think the wildlife sightings more than make up for my small shell haul! 

Even without the cool wildlife, the walk would have been well worth it. I always feel the screwed up muscle in my right shoulder/neck start to relax a bit more when I'm walking on the beach. Walking also helps me work through ideas and decisions. While my celebratory walks on the beach really are about celebrating (you can read about the first one and see my logic), they are also a great way for me to make the space I need to think about my business strategy and plans at a higher level than "here's what I need to do in the next few weeks." 

So, happy book birthday, Water into Wine! And happy beach walk day to me.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Dispatch from Interesting Times

I went to the U2 concert on Friday. It was fun, I'm glad I went, and I'll be very surprised if I ever go to a stadium concert again. It took us an hour to get from our seats onto a trolley! I'm too old for this.

But... my sister, who convinced me to go, was right that there was something sort of magical about hearing the songs we heard on the original Joshua Tree tour live one more time. They opened with Sunday Bloody Sunday and I was hooked.

As much as I enjoyed the music and the visuals of the show, the thing I'll probably remember most was Bono's monologue, which he gave in a couple parts during the second half of the concert. I expect some politics at a U2 concert: the first U2 concert I saw was in Arizona right after our newly elected governor canceled the paid Martin Luther King day holiday his predecessor had put in place. U2 opened their show with Pride (In the Name of Love) and we all knew that wasn't just by chance. I saw them on the Elevation tour, and remember a bit of a speech about the One initiative then.

But this monologue was different. The best way I can describe it is as a pep talk for America. They played clips from the JFK's "City on a Hill" speech and Ronald Reagan's later speech using the same parable. And then Bono talked about how America is a country, a great country, but it is also an idea, "maybe the best idea ever" (or something to that effect).  Bono talked about what this country has meant to U2, and to the Irish. To be honest, Bono seemed a bit lost, like he couldn't quite believe what had happened to the country I suspect he felt he knew. His speech sounded like he was trying to rally us to return to our better selves.

Of course, the country he thought he knew didn't really exist, and our worst instincts have always been here, not at all hidden if you knew where to look. But we project this image of ourselves as being all about democracy and freedom and equality, and even when people know that we often fall short of our ideals, it is no doubt jarring to watch us seem to just abandon those ideals.

Anyhow, I appreciated what Bono was trying to say. We could use a pep talk these days, a reminder that we have ideals and better selves to try to return to.

Not everyone appreciated it though, because after the show, while we were waiting in the line for the trolley, some dude was walking around ranting about how Trump was our President and we should respect him even if we didn't agree with him. Everyone ignored him, so he yelled louder for a minute and then wandered off. I think these guys really did believe that if they won the election we'd all magically validate their opinions and they'd get the respect they think they deserve and the rest of us aren't giving to them. Or something like that. I do not understand how they could have watched how the Fox News crowd—and Trump himself!— treated President Obama and expect that, but that is the best explanation I can come up with for why the Trump supporters I come across are always so damn angry even though they won.

Maybe I should take some comfort in how thoroughly that guy was ignored. No one argued with him... but no one shouted out in support, either. I confess that sometimes I treat Trump himself that way: just turn away and try to pretend he isn't there. But of course, we can't just ignore him. He's doing real harm.

I'm horrified by our slow response to the devastation in Puerto Rico. I remember being on a business trip a few days after Katrina hit New Orleans, and seeing a news report on the TV while I ate my free breakfast bar breakfast. All these years later, I can remember the intense feeling of shame I had watching that coverage. How were we allowing this to happen on US soil? And here we are, doing it again. Shame on us.

And while that's going on, our Senate is trying to repeal the ACA and replace it with a poorly thought out mess that not a single healthcare expert supports, using a process so rushed that we have no time to really understand what it would do. Once again, Americans are calling their Senators and beg them not to take away healthcare they depend on. It looks like this attempt will go down to defeat like the others, but I am so tired of the uncertainty about my healthcare. And I am well and truly tired of watching Republican congresspeople tell lies about what the bills they are supporting will do. If they'd at least have the courage of their convictions to come out and argue for their vision for healthcare in America, I could respect them. As it is, I am left assuming that they have no coherent vision and I find myself unable to dismiss the reports that indicate they are refusing to give up on repeal despite polls showing it is hugely unpopular because it is popular with one key constituency: their donors.

Meanwhile, our President is picking fights with athletes about peaceful protests. I am glad to see more and more people speaking up for the right of those athletes to protest. Now, let's get more people speaking up on the issue that sparked the protest: police killing unarmed Black people with impunity.

And mostly lost among all this news is the reprise of the travel ban, this time with a few extra countries thrown in to make it look like it isn't targeting Muslims.

Oh, and our President is threatening to start a war with North Korea on Twitter.

I can't keep up, and feel overwhelmed by the awfulness of it all. Maybe I need to stop trying for the next little bit. Petunia's birthday is coming up, and I have a party to plan. I've called my reps about healthcare (they aren't voting for it and never were) and I'll call about Puerto Rico. But then maybe I need to take some time to enjoy her birthday.

There is actually very little I can do right now. That may be the thing that makes this entire situation so hard to take: I want to try to help fix this mess, but I don't see how to do it. My reps don't generally need pressing to do what I want them to do. As I look at the mess we're in, I think that it really is going to come down to the next couple of elections and (1) what moderate Republican voters do in them, and (2) how effectively we can counter voter suppression efforts. I've yet to see evidence that the moderate elected Republicans are fighting back. Frankly, they mostly seem to be retiring. But what will those voters do? I don't know. People are mobilizing to fight voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering. Is it too late? I don't think so, but it would definitely have been better to start on this sooner.

So maybe I will take a breather from being so engaged in these interesting times, and hope to come back to it in a few weeks with some new ideas for how to make a difference.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Joshua Tree Edition

So, I'm going to see the U2 concert tonight. Mr. Snarky and I decided to skip it in a fit of fiscal responsibility, and then my sister talked me into going with her... so now I'm going and Mr. Snarky is staying home with the kids. I feel a little bad about that, especially since our kids will be joined by one of Petunia's best friends, whose parents are also going to the concert.

But I don't feel too bad because back in 2012, we flew home from our vacation on Mother's Day, and that night, Mr. Snarky and his friend went to see Roger Waters. I didn't want to see that concert, but leaving me home with jet-lagged kids on Mother's Day is worse than leaving him home with the kids on some random Friday, so I think this makes us even.

Anyhow, I should probably go, I don't know, put gel in my hair or something to prepare for my nostalgia trip to the 80s, so let's get the links done.

First, the book promo links:

I am now ready to sign up advance readers for The Burning. If you're interested in being an advance reader, sign up here.

Water into Wine comes out Wednesday! (You can pre-order the ebook now via the links on that page.)

Here's an interview with Water into Wine's author, Joyce Chng, over at Fran Wilde's blog.

On to the other links. I don't have that many this week, because I gave the online version of my Navigate the Path to Industry seminar on Wednesday, and doing that and all my other work kept me a bit busier than usual.

I've thought for some time that America needs to a truth and reconciliation commission or some other means for publicly coming together and discussing our past. So I like Tom Perriello's call for one in Virginia.

The Pod Save America crew's interview with HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen was really interesting.

Jamelle Bouie on political correctness is definitely worth your time.

Ed Yong's getting to see some cool stuff in New Zealand: first kakapos and now baby kiwis.

Sometimes the internet is still fun:




And if you somehow missed the Mary-Clare King story that was circulating this week, here is a tweet with both the video and the written version:




Bunnies!







And that's all I have. Time to go gel my hair!

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trip Story: Carson City and Virginia City

I feel like escaping from all the bad news right now and so I will revisit my summer vacation. In my last trip story post, I wrote about our drive across northern Nevada. The target of that drive was Carson City, where we stayed for a couple of nights. We arrived late in the afternoon on July 3 and left first thing in the morning July 5... and we spent a big chunk of July 4 in nearby Virginia City. But I still felt like we'd seen something of Carson City, and we enjoyed our time there.

Our first order of business upon pulling into town was to go see the state capitol. It would be closed the next day (July 4), and Mr. Snarky was adamant he wanted to go inside. So we went to the capitol before we went to our hotel.

For once, I'm actually glad we did go into the capitol. They had a little scavenger hunt for the kids to do, and one of the items had us go into the Secretary of State's office and see the vault that Mark Twain's brother had installed there when he was the Secretary of State. That was pretty cool.

The kids were more impressed with the fact that you could go into one of the meeting rooms. They could even sit up on the podium and pretend to be in charge.

Pumpkin contemplates a career in politics.

After checking in to our hotel (a casino...), the kids and Mr. Snarky went for a swim while I rested for a bit, trying to stave off a headache. It worked, and a little later we headed back into the downtown area and had a very nice dinner at a place called The Union.

The next day, we headed out to Virginia City to experience a fourth of July parade with an Old West theme. I think Mr. Snarky was the one who enjoyed it the most. I'm not much of a parade person, and the kids thought there were too many loud cars and too many loud fake guns (or real guns shooting blanks, more accurately).

Owners of some of the loud guns

Virginia City is where Samuel Clemens started writing under the name of Mark Twain, and before the parade started, we went into the basement of a shop to see the desk he worked at and some other related memorabilia. There are other historic sites there, and I think if we'd visited on any other day, I would have enjoyed it more. As it was, it was just too packed full of people.

After the parade, we took a ride on a steam train traveling a portion of the old Virginia and Truckee line. That was a really nice ride, but we all agreed that when it was done, we were done with Virginia City, and headed back to Carson City.

View from the train

Petunia had seen a fun fair set up not far from our hotel, and begged to get to go to it. And so we did. Petunia had an absolute blast, and Pumpkin had fun, too. Mr. Snarky and I were less excited by the fun fair, but it is always fun to see your kids have so much fun.

We left the fair and had dinner at the Fox Brewpub, which has a nice patio looking out at a fountain/splash pad that the kids really enjoyed. I have to say, downtown Carson City has real potential. It is not large, but it is nice and there are several interesting looking restaurants, including one across from the Fox called "Scoups" that specializes in soup and ice cream. Those are two of my favorite types of food, so if I ever go back to Carson City, I'll make a point to visit that establishment!

Looking at the Fox from the other side of the fountain.
The blurs in yellow and blue are my children.
And then it was time for fireworks. We drove to a parking lot that someone had recommended and watched the show... only to get back to our hotel and discover we could have watched it from our hotel parking lot. Oh well. They were nice fireworks. We only cared about the lost time because it was quite late for our kids to be up, and we wanted to get up early the next morning for a big driving day: we were heading back into California, to Lee Vining. I'll pick up the story there next time.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Rushing to Get to a School Event Edition

We have a back to school social event at the kids' school tonight, so this post might be a little terser than usual as I cram to get everything done and wrap up work an hour early despite the fact that I went out to lunch (but to meet with someone about a work thing!) and decided that even if I didn't have time for a rollerblade, I could probably squeeze in a run.

So anyhow, let's get to the links.

Self-promo links this week:

  • I posted the cover reveal for The Burning, a novella by JP Seewald that will be out in early November. I'll have the call for advance readers ready by next week, I hope.
  • Don't forget that Water into Wine, by Joyce Chng, is available for pre-order now. Release day is Sept. 27!
  • Registration for Navigate the Path to Industry, my non-academic job search seminar closes MONDAY. If you or anyone you know has been procrastinating on signing up, now's the time to act.
  • A couple weekends ago, I tweeted about spending a huge amount of time creating a "party robot" t-shirt design for Petunia's upcoming birthday. Her shirt arrived in the mail this week, and we love it. So, the design is now posted on Etsy. I've got the children's and infant/toddlers sizes posted. I'm hoping to get the adult sizes up this weekend. And yeah, that's Petunia modeling the shirt in the children's posting.


And some friend promo:

Xykademiqz is having a flash fiction contest! Go enter. If I can come up with an idea, I'll enter. Otherwise, I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's entries.

If you're not familiar with flash fiction, here's an example. Or check out the @MicroSFF twitter feed.https://twitter.com/MicroSFF

Now, the other links:

I listened to the interview with Hillary Clinton on Pod Save America, and it is really good. In particular, the section where she talks about the threat to our democracy she shes in Trump and in big money donors like the Mercers is worth your time. And luckily, Tommy Vietor pulled that bit of the transcript out into a tweet:




Tressie MacMillan Cottom on the Trump presidency is excellent. It is a hard call between this and the Hillary Clinton interview for my "if you only have time for one thing" pick this week. The best I can do is say to read this and then read the short section of the Clinton interview above.

But really, you should also read Cathy O'Neil on Facebook, Google, and why we need them to be more transparent in order to protect our democracy.

And Zeynep Tufecki's NYT op-ed about the Equifax mess is spot on and also worth your time.

Joseph Williams was fired from his job at Politico after saying some negative things about Mitt Romney... and what happened next is sobering.

Now that Pumpkin has a phone (used to text me when she arrives at school, since the kids are now walking to school on their own), she is begging for Snapchat. The answer is NO right now, but I can tell that we're going to need to come up with a coherent plan for internet and social media sooner than I'd like. This post from Cool Mom Tech has some things for me to think about once I'm ready to tackle this topic.

Pumpkin loves kakapos, so this story about the kakapo sequencing project was a big hit in our house.

A disturbing example of how false things get made to sound true:




True:




Also probably true:




Bunny!




That's all for this week

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Musings from the Tail End of a Mid-Life Crisis

In April of 2014, I abruptly quit my job. There were many aspects of that action that were completely out of character for me. I did not really understand why I quit when I did it. Furthermore, I was actively repelled by the idea of looking for another salaried job in my field or even the fields adjacent to my field. I did not understand why, but the thought of applying for any of those jobs made me want to curl up in a ball and cry. If I'd needed to get back to "regular" employment right away I don't really know where I'd have ended up.

Luckily, I landed in a part time contract position at a rate that allowed us to maintain our standard of living while I did the work I needed to do to figure out what the hell had just happened. It also gave me the time and space to try to build a company, which has been a really interesting journey.

I am really, really aware of how lucky I have been. I know that many other people don't have the luxury of taking the time to figure this stuff out. I know that other people land in a position similar to mine and experience a sharp drop in their standard of living. Take it as a given in the rest of this post that I really know that. My recognition of my extreme luck has made me reticent to write too much about the process of figuring out what the hell had happened. However, I made an off hand comment over at Nicoleandmaggie's about how the sense of clarity I'd gained from my midlife crisis was nice, and a long time reader emailed me to say she'd like to read more about that.

I so rarely get reader requests that I am excited to try to meet it! Hence this post, which has been much delayed due to headaches and life in general interfering with my blogging time..

I didn't call what I was experiencing a mid-life crisis at first, because there were some external things that clearly precipitated the problems. But then I realized that is probably always true about mid-life crises. I'll embrace the cliche I embodied and proudly proclaim that yes, I had a mid-life crisis.

It took me close to two years to really understand why I quit that day in April. The reasons veer into other people's stories too much for me to feel comfortable discussing them here. Luckily, they also aren't anywhere near the most interesting thing I've learned in the last 3.5 years.

What is far more interesting is what I've learned about myself as I have tried to build a company from nothing. I've written more about the company building over at my Tiny Letter, but I haven't really written about what the process has taught me about myself.

Here, in random order are the things I've learned:

1. I had too much of my sense of self-worth invested in my work.

I am more than my work. I thought I knew this, but I clearly didn't. Perhaps the pressures of parenting had taken too many of my hobbies away from me, but I think that is a cop out. I had (and have!) a lot of interests outside of work and separate from my role as a mother. I had just lost touch with how much those interests could contribute to my sense of who I am.

2. I wanted external validation too much and spent too much effort chasing it.

This one goes way back for me, and probably speaks to some deep-seated insecurity. I won't pretend I've conquered it, but I've looked it in the eye and acknowledged that I will never get the amount of external validation I crave, and I need to be OK with that. I'm working on being OK with that.

3. All my work really needs to do is pay my bills.

This has become a bit of a mantra for me. I use it to talk myself down when I start judging myself by other people's metrics of success. Once I've paid my bills, the only metric of success that matters is the one I define. The hard part in this, of course, is defining my own metric of success. This is also a work in progress.

4. I like money, and that's OK.

Early on in my entrepreneurship adventure I stumbled into some parts of the internet where entrepreneurs were extolling the virtues of cutting your expenses to the bone so that you would have a longer runway for trying to get your company off the ground... and I realized that no, that was not for me. We did trim our expenses a bit, and I pay more attention to what I buy at the grocery store, but I won't go to extremes. For instance: our local store helpfully stopped carrying the fancy orange-tangerine juice blend I like, so I now buy whichever orange juice is cheapest... but if my orange-tangerine blend ever shows back up I'm buying it in a heartbeat.

I also realized I wasn't willing to make my kids drop any of their activities, even though I know that this would cause them no harm.

Basically, I like our comfortable lifestyle and I'll go back to full time work to keep it if I have to. When I realized that, I knew I'd resolved the worst of the crisis that led me to quit my job, because as I said, at the beginning of the crisis, the thought of going back to full time work was horrifying to me.

5. I love to travel

OK, I already knew this one, but the introspection of the last few years has taught me that if I have to pick one thing to care about in addition to my family, it is getting to travel. Any work arrangement that doesn't acknowledge this is going to make me unhappy. Luckily, I don't need luxury travel, so while this priority isn't cheap, it is also quite achievable in a variety of different work arrangements I've considered.

The more general principle here is that it is good to know what makes you happy and recharges your soul, and it is OK to prioritize that even if it seems like something sort of shallow or unimportant. I'm not a spa person, but I suspect there are people who feel about spa days like I feel about seeing new places, and I say... go for it.

6. I like to make things

My explorations in entrepreneurship have covered a lot of ground. There are things I like about all of the aspects of my current business, but as I've reflected on what I most want to do, I've realized it is: make things. I love producing books. I have fun making t-shirts, too, and although I've decided the t-shirts shouldn't be a business priority, I'll probably keep making new designs now and then. (Party robot shirts are coming soon!) Once I decided to let the creative side of my brain have a little fun, I've come up with a lot of things I'd love to make: different types of books, different ideas for websites, ideas for apps... I write all my ideas in a special journal I keep for that purpose. I've produced more of my ideas than I would have predicted back when I started the company, and my favorite thing about my current work arrangement might be the freedom to pursue so many ideas.

Is there a general principle in this lesson? Maybe it is to pay attention to the work activities that make you happiest. Try to find ways to do those things more often, and avoid work situations where you're cut off from that joy, no matter how many other enticements they offer.

I'm sure I've learned more things, but that list is what I wrote in my little writing notebook as I was thinking about this post, and I think it hits the most important things. I can't say that the mid-life crisis has been fun, but at least it has been worthwhile. I feel better able to evaluate options about what to do next now that I better understand what matters to me, and what my "gotcha" points are. I don't know when I get to declare the mid-life crisis over. I think I still have things to figure out, but I am not responding to events in ways I don't really understand... and I'll call that a win.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Stay Safe Everyone Edition

I had plans to write a post last night about what I've figured out from my midlife crisis (reader request!) but then I got one of the headaches I get sometimes that isn't quite a migraine but makes me feel queasy. So I spent my evening on the sofa with an ice pack on my head instead.

I am happy to report that I feel better today. I went out for my first rollerblade in ages, and it was delightful. This really is the best time of year here. The tourists are home, the kids are in school, but the weather is delightful.

Of course, I feel a bit bad reveling in my wonderful weather with three hurricanes bearing down on various places... but it was a nice rollerblade all the same.

So, on to some links.

If you haven't grabbed your discounted copy of Academaze yet, you might still be able to get one if you hurry. Prices will start going up later tonight.

I don't have any other promotional links to share this week. I spent a good part of today working on slides for a new seminar on strategic planning. I'm putting this together for a client, though. I might decide to offer an online version at some point, but not yet.

If you read only one of my links this week, make it Noah Smith's post about how Americans are in an an indefinitely repeating prisoner's dilemma... and so we should learn how to cooperate with people on the other side of the political spectrum.

And then, if you're up for a longer and more depressing read about a similar topic, you can read Lee Drutman's article about American hyperpartisanship and the doom loop.

In "trying to win elections by keeping people who disagree with you from voting" news, here's a short post about the latest bogus accusation of fraud.

I don't know what to make of the study about Fox news influencing voting decisions.

If you aren't up on the history of US immigration policy and how we ended up with so many young people who are undocumented but have never known another country... Dara Lind's article on why ending DACA is so unprecedented is a good place to fill in the gaps.

Were the 1990s the peak for working women in America? I hope not!

The edition of The Ezra Klein Show podcast with Angela Nagle is really good. They talk about 4chan and the alt-right, but also about the need to present a positive vision for our future. I particularly liked Angela Nagle's points towards the end about imaging a different relationship with work.

LOLSOB:




Just LOL:




Judging by his profile location, this awesome skateboarder lives somewhere near me:




Bunny!




And that's all I have... or at least all the time I have today. If you're in the path of one of the hurricanes, stay safe!

Monday, September 04, 2017

Trip Story: The Great Salt Lake and Northern Nevada

Time for the next installment of the Western Road Trip! In my last installment, we visited Salt Lake City. Our next main stop was in Carson City, Nevada. But first, we had to get across northern Nevada. When we planned the trip, I looked at the big expanse across Nevada with a bit of dread, but it turned out to be a beautiful drive.

Before we got to Nevada, though, we had a couple more stops in Utah, one planned and one spur of the moment. The planned stop was at the Great Salt Lake State Park, so that we could dip our toes in the lake and say we'd at least seen the lake in Salt Lake City.

The kids were a bit underwhelmed with the lake: it was slimy and muddy and there were sooo many flies.

Those dots on the water are flies. 

But they enjoyed doing the junior ranger program and getting the cool badge at the end, so it wasn't a complete bust. On the downside, doing the junior ranger program made us spend longer on this stop than I'd anticipated, and so lunch was late.

Luckily, no one minded that lunch was late, because before we got to lunch we made an impromptu stop at a rest area that turned out to be the Bonneville Salt Flats. The fact that this was an unplanned stop was a break down in my planning process. If I'd known that these salt flats were along our route, I would definitely have planned to stop there. But no harm done: we stopped and we all thought the salt flats were really cool.


All that white stuff is salt. If you squint, you can see a car in the distance.

We threw "salt balls" at each other (the fall apart quickly, so none hit their marks) and just marveled at the weird landscape. Other people drove their cars out onto the flats. The flats are the location of a lot of land speed records over the years, and there is an active racing association that holds races on the flats every year, if the weather permits.

We chose not to drive our loaded Mazda 5 minivan onto the flats, and instead headed on to West Wendover, for lunch at a Pizza Hut.

After lunch, we drove on to Elko. We arrived too late to catch any of the Basque festival that had been held over the weekend, but the kids did enjoy a swim in our hotel pool. Since it was Sunday night and the night after the festival wrapped up, most of the restaurants in the downtown area were closed, but we enjoyed a short stroll around and admired some large boots.


We found an open restaurant for dinner, and then headed back to the hotel for the night.

The next day, we had breakfast at the Denny's next to our hotel before continuing our drive west. The notable thing about that was the row of Tesla car chargers outside the restaurant. I was a bit surprised to see them outside a Denny's in Elko, but they got quite a bit of use: we counted three different Teslas charging up while we had breakfast.

Since we hadn't had any Basque food in Elko, Mr. Snarky really wanted to eat at the Basque restaurant I'd flagged as a possible lunch stop in Winnemucca. It was called The Martin Hotel, and the food was wonderful. I didn't want a big lunch, so I had a sandwich, but made it interesting by choosing the garlic soup as my starter (it was delicious). Mr. Snarky went all out and had lamb and garlic mashed potatoes and I think he had something approaching a religious experience eating it.



After lunch, we drove on. I found the landscape pretty, but knew from experience it was the sort of landscape I'd fail to capture in a picture, so you'll just have to take my word for it. There were grasslands rising into hills and mountains, a big blue sky, and the sense of openness that is one of my favorite things about landscapes in the American West.

Our next stop for the day was for "snack"- we stopped for ice cream at a place called Steve's Homemade Ice Cream, in a strip mall in Fernley, NV. The ice cream was delicious.

From Fernley, it was just another hour to Carson City. I'll pick up the story there next time.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Weekend Reading: The It Is Too Damn Hot Edition

Southern California is in the midst of a heat wave. It is nowhere near the weather catastrophe as Hurricane Harvey, so it is understandably not getting a lot of news attention. But I can confirm: it is really hot here right now. Mostly, I don't mind the heat too much, particularly since it has been cooling off nicely at night. But it is 86 degrees in my house right now, and I was working from home today.

On top of that, it was the first week of school, and my kids' school isn't done with its renovation project yet. Which means that some of the classrooms still don't have air conditioning. Which means that the district called for two extra "minimal days" this week, due to the heat. Luckily, the YMCA after care extended hours (their room has air conditioning), but that was only available for people who are already signed up for after care, and today, one of Pumpkin's friends didn't have any place to go for the surprise half day. I decided to store up some working parent karma points and offered to have her come here. So I picked Pumpkin and a couple of her friends up at 12:45, when school let out, and they've been here doing homework and playing since. Mostly, this worked fine, but they got a little noisy at one point and I was doing my big quarterly accounting... and ugh, my head hurts now. 

The heat is supposed to break over the weekend and that will be nice. Now, on to the links.

First, the self-promotion (and sorta self-promotion):

I'm running a sale on Academaze, Xykademiqz' collection of essays and cartoons about life in academia. The ebook will be $2.99 through next Saturday. The sale price has already gone into effect at Amazon, BN.com and GumRoad, and will go into effect at iBooks and Kobo tomorrow. This is a pretty big discount: the usual price is $8.99. 

Reviewers say things like "an absolute must-read for anyone who is either thinking of a career in research or has already embarked on the path" and "Reading Academaze was like having a long chat with a colleague who’d had experiences similar to mine, but actually processed them instead of simply surviving." I am not even in academia and I found things that were inspiring to me (the essay "Ride It Like You Stole It" is one example). I don't run many sales on this title, so grab your discounted copy now!

I have something for people interested in careers outside of academia, too! I finally decided to go ahead and offer an online version of my most popular in person seminar, which is about preparing for and running a non-academic job search. You can sign up for the early bird price of $25 through Wednesday

And that's all the self-promotion. On to the other links!

This first person story about Joe Arpaio's "tent city" jail makes me ashamed. This should not happen. I was glad when he was finally held responsible for a small fraction of the wrong things he'd done. I am furious that he was pardoned.

The pardon of Arpaio makes me glad to see Mueller working with the NY state attorney general

It was also an example of Trump playing to white racial grievances. German Lopez wrote a good explanation of how white identity politics often gets camouflaged as something else, so that even the people motivated by it don't necessarily realize that this is what is motivating them. There are some people who argued with me on Twitter after the election who I wish would read that link. 

If you, like me, have been watching the news out of Texas more than the Russia investigation, here's a nice overview of what happened in the investigation this week.

I liked Henry Grabar's article about bollards. I'd like to see more use of bollards to reclaim space from cars!

Josh Marshall's post about running a business that depends on Google is really good. If you want to think about how the big tech platforms are amassing and using monopoly power, don't miss that post. I have been thinking a lot about how much power Amazon has over my publishing business. I don't have the sophisticated level of thoughts about this that Marshall has about Google, but maybe some day I will. In the meantime, I'm thinking hard about how to insulate my business a bit more from Amazon's clout.


David Roberts wrote a good summary of what we can say about Harvey and climate change. I particularly liked his section about the difference between adapting to climate change and mitigating it.

The Weeds podcast episode about inequality was really interesting and I learned a lot from it.

This tweet made my jaw literally drop open:


As did this one (click through to see the jaw dropper):


I don't know what to do about such aggressive ignorance.

I love this art:


Snuggly bunnies!


That's all for this week. It is almost time for me to go collect Petunia from after care and start our long weekend. Have a good weekend, everyone!

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