Friday, September 21, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Too Busy and Reading a Book to Avoid the News Edition

It would have been a beautiful day for a rollerblade today, but instead I am picking Pumpkin up early and we are going to an event downtown. The nice thing about San Diego is that I'm pretty confident that next Friday will be a beautiful day for a rollerblade, too!

Anyway, some links:

The Inconvenient God is now available for pre-order. You can also still sign up to be an advance reader. I just re-read this story for the umpteenth time because I was proofing the paperback edition, and I still love it. You should get a copy!

In less happy links:

Just when I thought the Kavanaugh confirmation story couldn't get any worse... I happened to be on Twitter when the Ed Whelan tweets were coming out and it was weird to watch even via the responses (I don't follow Whelan). I agree that this needs to be investigated. For one thing, how did he know who the other girl at the party was? That has not been made public.

And now McConnell is promising Kavanaugh will get confirmed without even pretending he'll weigh what Dr. Ford or any other witness in the hearings that are being negotiating. That is just insulting.

I do not understand why they need this particular man to be confirmed when there plenty of other well-qualified judges out there who would also vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and meet their other judicial opinion criteria. It is disheartening. It is like they are taking Dr. Ford's accusation personally, and makes you wonder what things some of these men did when they were teenagers. Or older.

Alexandra Petri's post this week was a gut punch.

Elizabeth Breunig's article about the girl in her hometown who reported her rape and was vilified for it is also a gut punch, but the follow up offers a little sliver of redemption.

Another side of "listen to women" - this is a heartbreaking story about a young woman who died of cancer and maybe wouldn't have if doctors had listened to her symptoms earlier.

I don't have any other links to share because frankly, I was reading a book instead of the news most of the week. Partly that was because I wanted to avoid the news, but partly that was because it was a really good book: The Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic, by Nora Gallagher. It is the story of developing a mysterious ailment, the attempt to find a diagnosis, and the toll that this all takes on the author's life, relationships, and faith. I found it an engrossing read, and will definitely write a full post about it at some point.

That's all I have this week. Have a good weekend!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Delicate Balance Between Informed and Full of Despair Edition

Wow, today had a lot of news. But I guess that's true of a lot of days right now. As usual, I am trying to find the right balance between staying informed and getting lost in all the distressing news. So I went rollerblading even though I had to stop work earlier than usual to fit in the rollerblade and also getting my kids to their haircut appointment... so I'll be doing a little work this weekend to compensate. It feels like a good trade to me.

Of course, when I pulled up to the parking lot at my usual rollerblading spot, I found it blocked off for thunderboat races. Grrrr. I drove over to my backup spot and had a rollerblade, but I wish they'd post warnings about this event a couple of weeks in advance so that I wouldn't waste the time driving into Pacific Beach to get to my favorite spot, only to have to turn around and drive back out to the other spot, which is closer to my house but not quite as good for rollerblading. OH WELL. The sad thing is this happens every year and I never remember ahead of time.

On the bright side, I can save my husband a similarly disappointing experience when he heads out for his Saturday morning kayak! His usual launch spot will be closed so he'll have to find another location.

On to the links:

First, the self-promotion links:

I posted the cover reveal for the next Annorlunda Books release, The Inconvenient God, by Francesca Forrest. There were some delays in getting the cover finalized, so I'm running a shortened release process for this book - pre-orders will start to go up over the weekend, and be available at all of the online retailers by Sept. 18. You can watch for links to appear on the book's home page. If you want to be an advance reader, sign up here and I'll send you the eARC next week.

Also... you may have noticed my tweet announcing that I've finally built the travel website I've wanted to build for 10 years. (I'm not exaggerating on that time frame: I have a notebook with notes about this site, and one of the pieces of scratch paper I'd shoved in there with ideas for a site name was one of the day care reports we got when Pumpkin was one year old.)

Anyway, I had been letting the perfect be the enemy of the good on this idea, not wanting to build anything until I could build the best thing. WordPress plugins have advanced quite a bit in 10 years, and I realized that I could actually build something pretty close to my original idea with an off-the-shelf  WordPress and a couple of plugins.

So I've been writing up one of each type of post I want to have, and tinkering with different themes and options... and Adjusted Latitudes is finally ready for people to see it! I still have some more tinkering to do - I need to create a favicon, I'm going to upgrade the maps plugin to make the maps on the itineraries cooler and perhaps add some sort of multiple choice quiz option on the Where in the World posts. But it is far enough along that I decided I could share it. I haven't decided what will go there and what will stay here yet, but if I write something there I'll probably at least link to it here, so maybe that doesn't matter so much.

I almost decided to move Wandering Scientist to a self-hosted WordPress site and then add the travel stuff on here. Afterall, travel was what I originally thought this blog would be about (hence the "wandering" in the name). But I decided I wanted to be able to show things on the travel site to people I wouldn't send to this blog and I also like having a place to writing about parenting, life, politics and the other topics this site has wandered to. So in the end, I made a new site.

OK, enough about me. Here are the other links I have for you:

If you read just one thing this week: Alexandra Petri's essay on the people lost in Puerto Rico is what I'd pick.

But this amazing essay from Dr. Katherine Crocker is a close second. (Thank you to the multiple people who sent it to me!)

And Zack Beauchamp's report on the demise of democracy in Hungary and its lessons for us here in America is a close third.

I link to Talking Points Memo a lot because I find Josh Marshall's political analysis really useful. So here he is on Manafort's plea deal and the primary election results in New York. Both are worth your time, but if you only read one, read the one about the election results because I think elections are the way we actually get out of our current mess.

Speaking of elections being the way out... Jamelle Bouie wrote about something like that, and that's really worth your time, too.

Noah Smith wrote about why diversity is a strength for America.

Derek Lowe's write up of the latest generic drug price outrage is very useful, particularly if you want an insider's look at how the system is screwed up.

In recommended listening: I really enjoyed Laura Vanderkam and Sara Hart-Unger's discussion with KJ Dell'Antonia about being a happier parent. The bit about chores was really interesting.

Some good news from my state:


If I could get moderate/reasonable (even if quite right-leaning) Republicans/conservatives to understand one thing about our current political moment, it would probably be this:

Basically, everyone worries about how Republican voters will react to what Democrats do. I see a lot less attention paid to how Democrat voters are reacting to what Republicans have been doing, and let me tell you, Bouie's point rings really, really true in my life - for my own views and for the views of center-left folks I talk to. 

Huh. Interesting.

Yes, yes, yes to everything in this thread:

(If any of my male readers also find it hard to identify with female protagonists... maybe try reading more books with them? I've read lots of books with male protagonists, and I identify with some and find others really hard to understand, and honestly, I consider that part of the point of reading fiction.)


Happy weekend, everyone!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Updated Logistics Post

I am finally going to write the long promised post about our current household logistics. But first, an announcement:

For some reason, Blogger has stopped emailing me when I get a comment. I'll have to figure out why
at some point. In the meantime, I'm just trying to remember to check in on my comments every now and then. If I'm super slow answering your comment, chances are I forgot to go check my comments!

And second, a caveat:

We made it through the week of back-to-school events, and I was starting to feel like I had a handle on things. Then on Saturday, Petunia came out from her gymnastics class and announced she was bored with gymnastics and wants to do soccer instead. Or baseball. Or basketball. But preferably soccer. Now, Petunia only got routed into gymnastics because Pumpkin was already doing it, and it is true that Petunia is surprisingly good at all the "ball sports" she's tried.

I don't think it is fair to make Petunia do gymnastics just because that's what Pumpkin likes, so I will look for a soccer team for her to join. But damn, this is going to mess up our schedule. So this post will be out of date in about a month. (I'd already paid for September gymnastics, so I told Petunia she has to finish out this month.)

And now, the current state of our household logistics. It looks like I last updated these in 2012, so uh... a lot has changed since then. (Oops - Blogger helpfully reminded me of the 2014 update after I published this!) Pumpkin is now in 6th grade, and Petunia is in 3rd grade. They walk (!!!) to school in the morning and go to after care in the afternoons.

I'm back to full time regular employee status at a job that is about a 15-20 minute drive from our house, maybe as much as 30 minutes if I leave work late and hit more traffic. Mr. Snarky has been a full time regular employee all along. I think his commute is currently 30 minutes in the morning and 30-60 minutes in the evening, depending on the whims of traffic.

The Base Weekday Schedule

Our alarm goes off at 6:20 a.m. Most Mondays, I get up at 6 and go for a short run/walk in the neighborhood. I have been waking up at 6 on other days, too, and I wish I could say I did something useful with that time, but most days at least one kid wakes up before me or not long after me, so that time tends to just get swallowed into getting the kids breakfast and getting Petunia ready for school (Pumpkin mostly gets herself ready these days).

I still have to get the kids breakfast. If I would get around to rearranging our cupboard so the bowls Pumpkin likes are lower, she could get her own cereal. But Petunia likes toast with sugar after her Cheerios, and that I still have to make.

We all get ready. Mr. Snarky makes the kids' lunches, I help Petunia pick clothes, brush her hair, and put on sunscreen. I shower and get dressed. If I have an early morning teleconference (my company is international, so these happen - and in fact I have a standing 7:30 a.m. meeting every Monday), my routine often stalls here while I go sit at my desk and take the teleconference. Since so much of my work involves distributed teams, no one cares if I dial in to meetings from home or the office. In fact, I work from home every Friday, which is awesome, and I can work from home other days if I need/want to. Mostly, I go into the office, though, because I am still new enough that it helps to be able to catch people in person.

If I don't have an early meeting and I'm not working from home, I leave for work by 8:10, and sometimes as early as 7:45. Mr. Snarky tends to leave around 8. The kids hang out at home until ~8:30 and then walk to school. This is usually really great, except for the one time so far that it started really raining and Pumpkin's friend didn't call to offer to pick them up. I had to drop off a teleconference and drive them to school, because they are San Diego kids and they might melt in the rain. (More seriously, because we don't really have proper rain gear since it almost never really rains here.)

Since both my kids are early risers, they have time to do some homework before school, and they both also usually practice the piano in the mornings.

We work/go to school all day. My new work office is more social, and so I find I spend more time at lunch than I used to. But sometimes the conversation turns to work-related things it is useful to know, so I try not to worry about that. I try to go out for a walk after lunch most days, but my meeting schedule on Thursdays makes it likely that I'll skip the walk that day.

On Fridays, I am working from home. I start work early (by 7:30 if all goes well) and take a short lunch. Then, if nothing has gotten scheduled in the late afternoon/early evening (like a back-to-school bonfire, or haircut appointments for the kids, etc...) I can go for a rollerblade in the afternoon. I try to protect that time, but it isn't always possible.

Now that the kids are back at school, Mr. Snarky likes to pick two consecutive days and bike home from work one day and in to work the following day. During the summer, the camp drop off/pick up schedule made that hard for him to do. Also, it was unusually hot here this summer and he does not like to exercise in the heat.

The kids go to aftercare every day, but on Mondays, Mr. Snarky picks them up early and takes them to piano lesson. On Tuesdays, I pick Petunia up early and take her to art class. Mr. Snarky picks Pumpkin up later. I pick the kids up from aftercare between 5:30 and 6 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Mr. Snarky works during piano lessons. I go shopping for the groceries we can only get at a "regular" grocery store during art class. Our local store is now a Sprouts, which is good for about 80% of what we need. I buy the remaining 20% at the Vons in the same shopping center as the art class on Tuesdays. I generally have about 20 minutes between finishing grocery shopping and Petunia's art class ending. Sometimes I read, sometimes I write or sketch out ideas for one of my projects, sometimes there is something I need to chat with my colleague in Australia about and I do that via our work chat client on my phone, and sometimes I just waste time on Twitter. It depends on what's going on with work and my projects, if I have a book club book I'm trying to finish, and how fried I feel.

Dinner is at about 6 p.m. I cook dinner every weeknight except Tuesday, when Mr. Snarky heats up leftovers and makes a salad for our dinner (since he's home before me).

After dinner, the kids do homework or play and the adults do work, projects, chores, or waste time on their phones. I am trying to do less phone-based time wasting and more reading or projects. The kids rarely need our attention during homework time, but Petunia does like it if someone snuggles with her while she does her reading (she's supposed to ready 15 minutes a day in both Spanish and English). I will always say yes to snuggles and read, too.

At about 7:15, it is shower time. This now happens mostly without our involvement.

At about 8, we offer evening snack. The kids usually have something small (tonight Pumpkin had a banana and Petunia had a yogurt drink). While they have that, I assemble the snack portion of their lunches and the non-refrigerated portion of my lunch. On Monday nights, I also pack up snacks for on the way to art and make sure I have my shopping list in the snack bag.

At about 8:20, the kids get ready for bed. Mr. Snarky helps Petunia floss her teeth (she has to use a special floss threader because of her braces, and my old repetitive strain injury has degraded my fine motor control enough that it is much better if Mr. Snarky does this step). The kids do the rest of their bedtime routine on their own. Mr. Snarky often plays piano while the kids get ready for bed, and sometimes also while they are showering. I usually putter around during these times, finishing off quick tasks. Sometimes (like tonight), I start a blog post.

After the kids are ready for bed, we read stories. We alternate nights: one night I read to Petunia and Mr. Snarky reads to Pumpkin, the next night we switch. We know our days of reading aloud to Pumpkin are probably numbered, but so far, she still likes it.

Lights go out at about 9. Whoever was reading to Pumpkin just says good-night, turns off her light, and leaves her room. And then goes and does the dishes. Whoever was reading to Petunia usually stays and snuggles for 15-30 minutes.

Then we work (if needed), or do other things until bedtime. I try to be in bed by 10:30, and have my lights out by 11. Mr. Snarky stays up much later, usually watching TV.

The Base Weekend Schedule

We still have our Friday night beers most weeks, and plan out our weekend.

I get up at 7 on Saturday mornings, get the kids their breakfast, and then get them (and me) ready for gymnastics. That runs from 8:45 - 10:15. (Petunia's class finishes at 9:45, but Pumpkin is in a higher level class that goes for 1.5 hours.) I crochet and chat with my friend whose kid is in Petunia's class. We're home by a little after 10:30.

Mr. Snarky gets up a little bit after me, and gets the laundry started. Then he goes out for his Saturday morning exercise. This used to be a run, but right now he is going out kayaking on the bay instead. He usually gets one load of laundry on the line before he leaves, and I hang up the second load and start the third when I get home. Three loads gets us through our regular clothes laundry.

Every other Saturday, we also have our low key Chinese lessons. Sometimes, Mr. Snarky takes the kids to the library, too.

I can sleep in on Sunday mornings if I want, but it is rare for me to sleep past 8. I am usually up by 7:30. The kids watch TV, Mr. Snarky does more laundry - sheets and towels on Sundays. I work on my projects on Sunday mornings, and I try to protect this time, with reasonable success. I usually finish up by about 10 and shower and start in on my Sunday chores: menu planning and grocery shopping. I usually squeeze in a load or two of delicate laundry sometime on Sunday, too. If I forget, I can do these on a weeknight, though.

We now have Lego team meetings on Sunday afternoons, too. They last for about an hour, and I let the team play for another 30 minutes, and then the other parents collect their kids.

Mr. Snarky often does yard work or house maintenance type things on one or both of the weekend days. I often have other errands to run (e.g., back to school shopping, our occasional Target run, that sort of thing).

There's a lot of free time in the weekends. We often do something fun together as a family. Some weekends, though, get filled up (like next weekend - we have two kid birthday parties to go to). I can also usually grab some downtime for myself if I want it. Last Sunday, I spent about an hour in my hammock reading. Weekends are also when I write most of my political postcards.

Variations and Other Things

If a kid gets sick, the parent with the least need to be physically in the office that day works from home.

I'm in charge of haircuts and most doctor's appointments. Mr. Snarky is in charge of dentist (and orthodontist) appointments and eye doctor appointments.

When Pumpkin was little, she really needed her routines. She still likes routines, but can roll with changes more now. So dinner can be late if I want to try a new recipe or we decide to go out after piano lessons. We can go out and do things on a weeknight if we need/want to. This is nice, and I think this sort of thing is just going to continue to get easier.


The Monday night piano lessons are new. Petunia used to have swim lessons on Monday, and Pumpkin had piano on Tuesday while Petunia went to art. I'm thinking about what I might want to do with the time that Monday piano lessons opens up: I could maybe go to the gym after work, but then dinner would be late. Or maybe I'll leave my workout schedule as is (although it is currently short a workout) and just work on my projects on Monday.

I'm also considering a Wednesday evening yoga class. It would be after dinner, which feels weird, but I'm sure I'd get used to it. There's a studio in our neighborhood, so I could go after dinner and be home in time for bedtime.

Petunia's request for soccer is going to require some schedule adjustments. This may be what finally leads us to hire someone to help with the kid shuttling. But maybe not - Mr. Snarky is strangely resistant to the idea, and he has a flexible schedule and can perhaps handle soccer practices. I don't know. I've told Petunia that she'll probably have to come with me and Pumpkin to gymnastics at least some weeks, but she may get to go out kayaking with Mr. Snarky some weeks, too. It would have been so much easier if she'd kept liking gymnastics! But she should get to follow her own interests.

The kids do a lot of their homework at aftercare, and are also generally good about staying on top of their own homework. We'll see how Pumpkin handles the transition to middle school, which has more homework and a less regular homework schedule. However, I know from talking to friends that we're extremely lucky not to have to really watch them on their homework, and I'm grateful for that.

So that's the logistics these days. I really should find a time for another workout, but I'm dithering about the yoga class, so I just haven't done anything. I'm trying to make conscious choices about how to use the pockets of time that are opening up, and not let them get filled with mindless time on Twitter or things like that. But there are also things I find useful about Twitter, so I still show up there from time to time.

If I skipped over something you think would be interesting to know about, ask in the comments! I promise to check in on them this week.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Little and Late Edition

This week was a mess of back to school events, including a picnic at the bay yesterday evening. Between that and an afternoon work meeting onsite at one of our customers... I didn't get this post written on time. Oh well.

And I don't have a lot to share, because of all the back to school events. Some weeks are like that!

Here's what I do have:

If you read only one thing on my list this week, make it this essay by Mollie Tibbits' father.

Here's a good comparison of how we treat women stars who do things like shoplift or react to winning an award or get sexually harassed by men vs. men stars who do things like sexually harass and/or assault women. Surprise! The women come off worse.

I guess I'm glad Barack Obama agrees that these upcoming midterms are the most important election of our lives. If you want to read his full speech, here it is. Then please, find a way to help win the midterms.

I agree with this assessment of what is at stake:

This xkcd cartoon made me laugh.

In recommended listening:

The On Being podcast episode with Mahzarin Banaji is wonderful.

That's all I have. Except... Bunny!

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Reclaiming Space

Last week, I replied to a tweet about the difficulty of putting in extra hours after the kids are in bed with this honest observation: This has gotten soooo much easier for me now that my children are a little older.

When my kids were babies, toddlers, or even preschoolers, my evenings were exhausting. The pick up the kids-make dinner-try not to feel hurt when the kids refuse my lovingly crafted dinner-playtime-bathtime-bedtime gauntlet was punishing. This was compounded by having a low sleep needs kid (how I envied people with 7 p.m. bedtimes for their toddlers!) and a kid who took awhile to get good at self-soothing. I would occasionally do some work after the kids were asleep, but only if I had a deadline looming. Mostly, I either collapsed into bed or wrote a blog post (which at the time was an outlet for me like Mr. Snarky currently uses TV: a way to unwind and remind myself that I still had things I enjoyed to do that were just for me). There is a reason that this is timeframe in which I fell for short ebooks.

Now, though, I often come into our home office after the kids are in bed and do something that qualifies as work. In fact I often come into the office while my kids are still awake and do work. My day job is no longer as "big" as earlier jobs were, so that evening work is not necessarily for the day job. Instead, it might be for Annorlunda Books, which involves things like accounting and querying reviewers that definitely feel like work in addition to things I find more fun.

It isn't that parenting has gotten easier. There are still problems to solve and times when I feel like I'm in over my head. But there is more space between the demands now. Some evenings, my kids need me, perhaps to help with homework or perhaps just to go on a walk or play a round of birdie and reconnect and hear about whatever is on their minds. Other evenings, they'd rather be off playing with the neighbors or reading their books. Space has opened up after dinner, and I am trying to make sure I claim some of it for myself.

Even on the nights when my after dinner time is claimed by the family, I can usually do something after bedtime if I am so inclined. Bedtimes have gotten easier. At long last, Pumpkin just wants a good night kiss and the lights turned out after story time. Soon, I know, she won't even want story time, preferring instead to read to herself. Petunia still likes snuggles, but she doesn't need them as long (most nights). And aside from the bedtime routine, the entire evening is just easier, with more reminding a kid to go do something (e.g., take a shower) and less hands-on wrangling. I often have energy for my own pursuits after bedtime is done.

And weekends have more space, too. We still usually do one fun outing as a family, and there's still gymnastics to go to on Saturday mornings. Next Sunday, Lego team starts and I'm coaching Petunia's team again. But that leaves a surprising amount of time, and the kids no longer expect me to help fill it. Some weekends still get busier than I'd like, but to be honest, that is often Mr. Snarky's fault. I'm a high energy person, but he's even higher energy. I have to remember that I should tell him I need more downtime now and then.

So if you're in the midst of the baby/toddler/preschooler years and wondering where all these other parents are finding time to do work or serious hobbies in the evenings, take heart. In a few years, it will probably all be different. The change started for us when Petunia hit kindergarten, but it was really in her 2nd grade year (last year) that I noticed how much space I had reclaimed for my own interests.

You have to be careful, though: There are all sorts of school activities and committees that can steal the time right back from you, and it can be hard to ignore the signals our society sends that mothers should be more active in their kids' schools. I am choosy, and pick just a couple school things to get involved in, and say no to the others. I also have to keep an eye out for the way schools tend to default to communicating with only one parent, and the way that social event scheduling also tends to default to one parent. I don't think there is any magic answer to this problem. We can usually manage to get the teachers to add Mr. Snarky to their email list, so he takes the lead on monitoring homework and the like. We have absolutely given up on getting people to communicate with him for scheduling play dates, birthday parties, or any of the other social events that find their way onto our kids' schedules. There is one other dad among my kids' friends who schedules play dates, and so for that particular friend, the scheduling is handled by Mr. Snarky. For all others, it comes to me. I don't love that, but have made peace with it. We explicitly recognize it as a chore, and balance it with other chores that Mr. Snarky takes on.

This is why I want to do an updated household logistics post - I think it would be interesting to see where the space actually is, and whether it is distributed evenly between me and Mr. Snarky. But that exciting post will have to wait for another night. I did the work I needed to do after dinner, but I'm reading a good book and I want to go to bed so I can read another chapter or two!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Short and Somewhat Sweet Edition

I got out for a rollerblade today for the first time in a long while, and that felt good. The kids are settling back into their school routine, and so are we. But somehow, I don't have very many links for you this week. Here's what I do have:

If you were interested by the reading project I mentioned in my post on uncertainty and grace, I've got the post about Lost Connections up over on the other blog now.

Josh Marshall has been writing some very good posts about the gathering storm and what he thinks Democrats should do if they win the House this year.

I basically want to ignore Louis CK,  but I guess he's back. Rebecca Traister's article about that is very, very good.

My state may be about to do something very cool for the environment. (I guess I need to call Jerry Brown's office and tell him to sign this bill...)

This is an interesting article about Instagram influencers and updating the "leave no trace" ethos for the digital age.

In recommended listening:

I really enjoyed the World in Words podcast about Basque and Krista Tippet's interview with Cory Booker.

I love the colors in this painting:

Pretty bunny!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Back to School and the Tail End of Summer

My kids went back to school today. Pumpkin is a middle schooler now (!!!!) and rolled her eyes at us for taking a couple of pictures before she ran off with her friends. Petunia (a 3rd grader this year) still wanted us to wait at her line with her, though. She is always a little shy at the start of a new year, even though by now she is guaranteed to have several friends in her class.  So we waited until she met her teacher, and then we gave her a good-bye hug and walked home.

Both kids are very excited to be back at school, and came home eager to tell us all about their day, their new teachers, and their classroom rules.

They also brought home the usual stack of papers to fill out. When I went to my "kid notebook" to look up some info for one of the forms, I happened to open to the first few pages. My kid notebook was a pregnancy notebook first, and the first few pages are a weight log from my first pregnancy. I noticed that I currently weigh about what I weighed when I was 23 weeks pregnant with Pumpkin. Ugh. I guess I should get back to calorie counting and see if I can drop a few more pounds!

In other back to school news... I decided on a bit of a whim to run a back to school sale on ebooks. If you've been interested in one of the Annorlunda releases and haven't picked up a copy yet, now is an excellent time!

In still other back to school news, I have committed to coaching Petunia's Lego team again this year. I am hoping that coaching is easier the second time! Petunia really, really loved doing Lego team, though, so I feel like it is worth some hassle for me. I've ordered our mission kit and am looking forward to seeing the details when it arrives.

The title of this post also promises an update on the last bits of summer. Of course, summer isn't really over. It is still warm, and we have at least another month of prime beach weather ahead. I am hoping to get a Sunday afternoon beach trip in sometime in September. The crowds thin out in September, so we can drive down one a Sunday afternoon and find parking, spend a couple of hours at the beach, and then stop in for Rubios for dinner. It is a great way to end the weekend when it works out. Of course, Lego team meetings are usually Sunday afternoons... but I'm starting earlier so I think we can take one week off in September. We'll see.

But even though summer technically continues, the start of school always marks the end of "summer," and we managed to squeeze a couple more fun outings in before school started.  We met up with one of Petunia's best friends from preschool (and still a best friend!) for a visit to the Zoo at Night. We had a blast but got really lousy pictures. I am really amused by the demon koala picture Mr. Snarky took, though:

Sure, I could fix the red eye, but where's the fun in that?

We also made it to the Balboa Park Summer Nights. That started with dinner from food trucks - every Friday through September, there are Food Trucks parked along the Prado in Balboa Park. The kids had waffles and Mr. Snarky, my sister, and I all had "burgers" from The Thai Burger Company. This was sauteed meat with sauce between two sticky rice "buns," served wrapped in foil so you could eat it like a burger. There was a long wait at this truck, and I can see why. It was really great!

I won't be quitting my job and taking up food photography as a career anytime soon...
but trust me, this was delicious!
I'm not usually big on crowds and waiting in lines to get food... but I have to say, the Balboa Park Food Truck Fridays scene is pretty cool.

After our food truck meal, we went to the Natural History Museum.

Several museums had evening hours and reduced price admission after 5 p.m. We chose the Nat because it also had a roof top bar which was supposedly kid-friendly. The museum itself did not disappoint, but we couldn't get into the bar until after their trivia session finished and by that time the food service had ended. The kid-friendly drink menu turned out to be standard mixers (sodas, OJ, cranberry juice, and grapefruit juice). Luckily, I had some snacks in my bag.

Still, the view from the bar was nice enough.

And earlier, Petunia had found a quiet little reading nook that she really loved.

Not shown: the old books, including one from the 1500s, that I spent my time looking at while Petunia read in the nook.

All in all, we had a good "end of summer" and a great first day of school, and are looking ahead to more summery fun in September and maybe even October. We sometimes forget to take advantage of the fun things to do in San Diego (hence the Family Fun List... the Summer Nights outing satisfies the "special event at Balboa Park" item on the list), but I'm always glad when we get out and enjoy our city.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Half of the Bathroom Sinks Now Work Edition

The good news is that the bathroom sinks are no longer draining into a bucket in my master bathroom! The bad news is that the master bathroom does not currently have a sink. (We are taking this opportunity to replace our old wall mounted sink with a vanity, and the wall needs a little patching/painting before we do that. We're getting the new sink next week.)

In other good news, school starts on Monday, and I am looking forward to the simplified logistics! To be fair, though, in these last few weeks the kids have both been at the same camp not far from my office, which was already much simpler than the situation at the beginning of summer.

 Anyway, on to the links:

I agree with this Slate piece about the Kavanaugh nomination being tainted beyond repair by Cohen's guilty plea.

Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffery's piece on the refugees her family welcomed into their home when she was a child is wonderful.

I really liked this David Roberts piece on acknowledging the role of luck in our lives.

This piece from Kimberly Harrington on how teaching the next generation about gender inequalities and nudging them towards something better is more work falling unequally to mothers is really great, and it is about more than my summary can capture.

Somewhat related: I think many of my readers will LOLSOB in recognition at the dialog in this Captain Awkward question about getting time to work on your own things. Mr. Snarky is actually pretty good at taking the kids out of the house when I need some work time, but I also endorse the suggestion to leave and work elsewhere as a way to reset expectations.

Yes, pot can be addictive.

I really enjoyed Legal Nomads' 10 year anniversary reflection, and I found her post about the spinal tap that changed her life thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Here's a really sweet story about a Dad, his kid, and soccer.

Always read what Zeynep Tufekci has to say about the social media information age:

This thread is so infuriating and heart-breaking. Men, if you don't realize how women constrain their lives to stay safe, start learning:

Bunny is NOT impressed:

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A State of Distraction

Are we at the end of the beginning? The beginning of the end? Still slogging through the middle?

I have no idea.

None of today's news was really unexpected (no, not even Duncan Hunter's indictment). But it was still somehow shocking. What a mess we're in.

I don't really have anything insightful or interesting to say about the news, but I wanted to write a blog post tonight, so here I am writing it. I had originally thought I might write one of the "life logistics" posts I used to write, talking about how we make our lives all fit together. I think I will do that soon - a lot has changed since the last one, and writing the logistics out always helps me see things we could do better.

But I don't have it in me tonight. So far this evening, I have driven past the turn to get on the freeway to go to Petunia's art class, forgotten we were supposed to feed our friends' rabbits, and gone over to feed said rabbits after the kids were in bed and set off the alarm at our friends' house. I don't think my mental abilities are top notch right now! I think I'll blame it on the distraction of all the news....

Or maybe I should blame the disrupted sleep I've gotten the last few nights. Our bathroom sink drain started backing up - our two bathrooms share a pipe between the sinks, so really both sink drains were backing up - and when Mr. Snarky went to open up the pipe and see if he could clear the clog, the pipe broke. We're going to take this chance to do some other long-delayed plumbing maintenance, so the plumber isn't coming until Thursday, when he has a big chunk of time for us. This means that right now, our bathroom sinks drain into a bucket in our master bath. This is fine... except when someone washes his hands in the main bathroom after I am asleep. Then I am jolted awake by the sound of water hitting a bucket. SIGH. It is deeply unfair that I, who needs 7-8 hours of sleep a night to feel my best, am a super light sleeper, while my husband, who can skate by on 5 hours sleep no problem, can sleep through anything short of a blaring fire alarm.

It has also been a pretty hectic week. Yes, I know it is only Tuesday. But several work projects are heating up at once, and it is the last week of summer camp (the kids start school on Monday!) and to add to the fun, yesterday while I was cooking dinner, one of the wires on Petunia's braces came loose. She screamed and screamed - initially I think it was genuine pain, and then I think it was a combination of residual pain and fear about what would happen next, and then I think she just had herself so worked up she couldn't stop. Luckily, Mr. Snarky got home a few minutes after the drama started and while he called the orthodontist for emergency instructions (there was no blood, so the instructions were that it could wait until morning), I tried to calm Petunia down. In the end, it was Doc McStuffins on the TV that did the trick. By dinner time, she was able to eat and the rest of the night passed without anymore screaming.

So basically, there are a lot of things I could blame for my current distracted state.

I had a list of things I thought I might do tonight, but I think given my track record tonight, it would be wiser to just go to bed and try again tomorrow.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Sick Kid Edition

Here it is, Friday already. I have spent the last two days working at home with a sick eight year old. It has gone better than I expected and reminds me once again of how some aspects of parenting do indeed get easier as the kids get older. Petunia has been prone to fevers since she was a baby. As a baby, toddler, preschooler, and even kindergartner, one of her fevers usually meant that an adult needed to spend three days on the sofa with her, comforting her. Now, she may spend three days on the sofa (we are on day two, and she is up and about working on a cardboard space console inspired by a Doc McStuffins episode), but I have only been required to come cuddle intermittently.

Of course, we had plans to go do fun things last night and tonight, and both of those had to be canceled. But at least I didn't have to take a sick day.

Despite the higher than usual amount of time I spent sitting on the sofa, I don't have a lot of links for you. Here's what I have:

I think Josh Marshall has this right: It is obvious Trump is guilty. I think that a lot of people are trying not to acknowledge that right now because to acknowledge it would require also acknowledging how poorly Congressional Republicans are behaving.

This is cool: PBS has a map of gender diverse cultures.

Ezra Klein's interview with Zeynep Tufekci about how online algorithms push us to the extremes is really, really good. I really like her point about setting up the default to push us towards healthier behaviors, and am thinking about ways to implement that idea in my own life while we work towards healthier defaults on a larger scale.


This is awesome:


Have a good weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Uncertainty and Grace

I've developed a possibly unhealthy habit of reading advice columns. It start with Dear Prudie at Slate and has kind of grown from there. I suppose as habits go, there are worse ones.

Anyway, I was reading an advice column the other day, as I do, and there was a letter from a woman whose husband was considering petitioning for custody of his sister's kids, since said sister is in the habit of abandoning the kids with them, anyway. (OK, fine: I went and found the actual column so you can read it, too, if you want. Beware: these columns are addictive.)

There are some lines in that column that has stayed with me since I read it:

I’ve come to see “how I saw us ______,” whether it’s “building our family” or “starting our careers” — or any future we envision — as a false promise at best. We can want and dream and plan, but life always gets its say. Always.
And so I see the path to happiness not as the milestones we strive for, but as a mind open to the opportunities, even beauty, in what we receive.

I love that concept, the idea that the way to happiness in life is to learn to accept the randomness of it, the uncertainty about what might come — and to commit to the idea that you will look for the beauty in what you receive.

Obviously, some things that we receive in life are harder to accept than others. There are things that could happen that I do not think I could see any beauty in. I am not especially prone to anxiety, but if I am going to spiral into an anxious fugue, it will usually be because my mind has started spooling out increasingly horrific "what if" scenarios.

So what I've been thinking about since I read that column is the idea that although I cannot know what life will hold for me, I can commit to try to accept what comes and build the best life I can from the circumstances I am given, and if possible, find the beauty in whatever comes.

So far, I have been given pretty good circumstances. I have no guarantee that will continue, and I can never have that guarantee. All I can do is try to plan in ways that favor a continuation of good circumstances, and that I hope would provide some buffer against bad circumstances.

I've been thinking about what it would take to really embrace that, and what, if anything, that would change about how I'm living my life. I don't have answers to those questions yet, but I'm finding them useful questions to think about.

I have also been thinking about how "happiness" seems like an inadequate word to describe a state in which you can accept what life brings and look for the beauty in it. The word that keeps coming to mind instead is "grace." I know that is not the Christian meaning of grace, but I don't think it is necessarily incompatible with that meaning. 

I've started a project of reading books that explore different aspects about what "a good life" looks like and how to have it. That project is quite stochastic. I add books to my reading list as I come across them, and my scope for what fits is quite broad. Maybe the common thread among them is a search for a secular form of a grace, a way to find and embrace the beauty in our imperfect world and to build the most we can out of our imperfect, uncertain lives.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Weekend Reading: Still Too Hot Edition

Since I spent the week galavanting without my children (so much yummy food!) and complaining about how hot it is (coastal San Diego should NOT top 90 degrees for multiple days in a row), I don't have a whole lot of links for you.

But I do have a few.

First, I'm running a short sale on the Okay, So Look ebook. It is just $0.99 through Sunday, so if you've never read it... now's your chance! And if you like it, check out Here's the Deal - not on sale, but worth the $3.99, I think.

The "you may also like" links on the last post led me down a rabbit hole of old posts about my kids when they were little. Reading the posts I wrote for Petunia's first and second birthdays really made me smile. I went looking for posts about Pumpkin's early birthdays, and apparently I didn't start those until her third birthday. It is nice to read about my kids when they were tiny. They are huge now: 11 and 8. But still delightful, just in different ways. I should write more about these years, so that I can look back wistfully when they are 18 and 15....

In actual links:

My "if you read only one" pick this week is Adam Serwer on the ascendency of white nationalists in US politics.

But if you can find time for a second thing... Richard Flanagan's speech about the Uluru Statement is wonderful, and speaks to a broader context beyond Australia, too.

New Congressional Budget Office numbers show it is cheaper for the government to pay for Medicaid for someone than to subsidize that person's private health insurance. As the article points out, this is partially due to the fact that recent changes to Obamacare (e.g., doing away with the individual mandate) have caused the premiums for Obamacare to go up. 

For all the talk about the risks of Democrats swinging too far to the left, I suspect that future historians will spend more time analyzing the impact of the Republicans swinging so far right. That and the impact of Fox News. I suspect there will be many history theses and books written about the rise of Fox News and how it changed America.

In lighter news: I need to go to Berlin.

Recommended listening: Ezra Klein's interview with Adam Davidson about taking the non-Russia story aspects of Trump's corruption seriously. I particularly like the point about the need to make there be consequences for this corruption or face a slide towards a rent-seeking economy.

Good advice:

Best lolsob of the week:

Although this xkcd cartoon is a close second  and another instant classic xkcd.


Another bunny!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

A Nothing Update

It is still hot.

My kids are with my parents this week, so Mr. Snarky and I have had a week of grown up time. There was some kayaking, and some long walks, and a lot of food the kids would never dream of eating. I thought I'd get in some time working on my projects, too... but it is still hot, and even though the whole house fan is doing a decent job of cooling things down in the evening, I find myself heading to bed early most nights, tired and feeling lazy.

I am still waking up at or before 6 a.m. most days, so the sensible thing would have been to putter on my projects in the morning, but instead I went to work early, thinking I'd be able to head home early in return. But my meeting schedule did not cooperate.

Oh well. It has been a fun week, and I've enjoyed eating out so much. My projects will wait.

And now it is 10:30, and apparently that's past my bedtime these days. The thermostat says it is still 81 degrees in the house, but the bedrooms are cooler (and the office is hotter). Besides, I can sleep with the temperature at 81. I'm off to bed.

(Edited to add: The "you may also like" feature served up this post from when Petunia was nine months old. It was so long ago! We can have whole weeks away now! And even when the kids are with us, there is more space for our own things. The baby years are wonderful and special... but I'm really loving the big kid years, too.)

Friday, August 03, 2018

Weekend Reading: Easing Back In Edition

As I mentioned in my post on Wednesday, I have plans this afternoon and evening, so I don't have a lot of time for a links post. But I have a few things to share.

First, in self-promotional links: I finally wrote about the ideas in Laura Vanderkam's latest book, Off the Clock, that resonated with me the most.

Michelle Rene's Tattoo is on sale for just $0.99 at Kobo right now. The sale ends Monday, so grab a copy now!

Now in other links:

This Dara Lind article about the Americans that are stepping in to help reunited immigrant families gives me hope.

Franklin Foer's article about America's kleptocracy problem is... less hope-inspiring.

Dr. Jen Gunter's post about menopause is really helpful.

I've got a couple of podcast recommendations, too:

I learned a lot from Josh Marshall's discussion with historian Gregory Downs about voter suppression in the post-Civil War era. I'd like to read the article that Downs wrote for TPM, too, but haven't have time yet.

And I'm still thinking about Ezra Klein's discussion with psychologist Jennifer Richeson about demographic change and "demographic threat." I'm thinking a lot about why we phrase this demographic change as a "threat" to white people, and how we could change that framing. I certainly don't feel under threat by the demographics in my city!

This made me laugh:

So did this:

I like this feminist agenda:

Fluffy bunny!

And here's an extra bunny as thanks for your patience during my little hiatus:

Happy weekend, everyone !

Wednesday, August 01, 2018


It is after 9 p.m., and it is still over 80 degrees in my house, even with our new whole house fan running on high. The fan is working, but it isn't that cool outside tonight, so it can't drop the temperature in the house very quickly. I think our low is going to be over 70 degrees. Also, it was 88 degrees for the high today, so we started from a toasty 85 degrees inside when I got home today.

These temperatures well above average. I couldn't find the average temperatures for my neighborhood, but we can use La Jolla as a similar coastal climate in San Diego, and the average high on August 1 is 75. The average low is 66.

It has been this way for a month. I would guess we've been at least 5 degrees above average for most of July, and occasionally hotter.

Now, this is not really that uncomfortable for me (I still think 82 is a perfectly acceptable indoor temperature), or even objectively all that hot, particularly in comparison to the heat wave that has scorched parts of Europe. But it is really, really unusual for San Diego. We don't have air conditioning in our house in the coastal climate zone because we don't usually need air conditioning.

It is also an ever present reminder of just how much we humans have screwed things up. It is getting hotter, and it is going to continue to get hotter, because we are not doing enough to stop causing climate change.

Which brings me to the subject of my recent blog hiatus. I took a break because I'd sit down to write and nothing really coherent would come out. The break has served its purpose: thanks to a little time away, I think I've figured out the problem. I couldn't write because I was so angry, and I was trying to ignore that and write about something else.

Whether it is because of the heat wave and its daily reminder about climate change and the way it is going to disrupt so many things, or just the constant accumulation of bad news about my country's political situation, I was very, very angry. (And this was before that big NY Times article about how we blew our chance to address climate change in the 80s came out. I haven't read that article yet, because I suspect it would push me back to being unproductively angry.)

I'm less angry now. Not because the problems have lessened - if anything, they've gotten worse. There are now fires burning all over my state, and yes, part of the reason they are so bad and deadly right now is climate change.

But I've remembered that getting so angry that I don't take sensible action is not a useful response. Once I acknowledged the anger, I was able to turn away from it and focus back on taking action. I wrote some more postcards. I realized that I'd forgotten to make political contributions after my last two paychecks. (Give me ideas of good candidates to support in the comments! I hope to catch up on my contributions this weekend.)

I also got to take a nice little getaway to Redondo Beach with Mr. Snarky. I'll probably write about that at some point. However, one of the nice things about that getaway was that during a long walk on the beach, I finally saw how to make the travel-related website I've wanted to make for at least eight years. I'll probably use the Redondo Beach getaway to try out some of my ideas for that site. What I'm saying is, don't hold your breath for a write up about Redondo Beach!

Anyway, I'm back. I'm still angry, but it isn't getting in my way anymore. I don't know if there will be a links post this week, though, because I have plans for Friday afternoon and evening, and I'm not sure I'll get one written. We'll see. Either way, though, I plan to start writing here again, because I have missed blogging. As usual, I've got a bunch of other things going on (a children's book to revise, a novelette to publish, and that travel-related site to set up, and various other smaller things.) I like to have a lot of things going on, but I've learned that the only way that is sustainable while also making a living is to expect slow progress on my projects. That's OK, as long as I plan accordingly. So the blog posts will start coming again, but it will be a trickle, not a flood.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Weekend Reading: Before a Hiatus Edition

I'm sending this out on my lunch break instead of after work because I have a science camp expo to go watch soon, and am going to be mostly offline this afternoon and evening. Even so, it has already been an eventful news day. I'm not going to include links to analysis about the latest round of indictments. But here's a thread that pulls out some particularly interesting parts. Note the one about the Congressional candidate.

My "if you read only one thing" pick this week is actually a recommendation for something to listen to. Ezra Klein had another chat with Susan Hennessey about the Russia investigation, Mueller, and the general state of play right now and it is once again very useful.

Some things to read:

I've seen many arguments that Democrats must not match Republican hardball tactics or we risk destroying our Republic. Jamelle Bouie essentially argues the opposite, and I find his argument the most convincing one yet for abandoning what I've seen called "normcore" politics. Here's an earlier Matt Yglesias essay on the same topic. (For what it's worth, I don't think statehood for DC is all that radical, and nor is statehood for Puerto Rico. I support those suggestions right now. No taxation without representation, right? Court-packing schemes seem far more radical to me, and I'm not at all convinced on those yet.)

If you're uncomfortable with the arguments for Democrats to change to hardball tactics, you might find it helpful to think about what happens if they don't, and we enter an era of persistent minority-rule by the Republicans. This short article by Seth Masket outlines three ways a minority party can govern. The Republicans have essentially done all three at this point. Look around and notice the mounting legitimacy crisis. How long do you think our government will continue to be seen as legitimate by the majority? What happens when the majority no longer sees a government as legitimate? 

We're in a scary place right now. I know I keep saying it, but the 2018 midterms are the most important elections of my lifetime. Please vote. Please think hard about all the implications of your vote this year. If you're as worried as I am, please try to find a way to get involved in the effort to turn things around.

I'm thinking of adding gubernatorial races to my list of races to consider sending money to:

Some good news: my state has met our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for 2020 two years early. We'll have a much harder time meeting our 2030 goals, but I think we're up to the challenge. 

And here is a good thread about stories that are actually climate change stories:

This made me smile:

And so did this:


I'm going to be absent from this blog for a couple of weeks. I don't want this just to be a weekly list of links, but when I've sat down to write something more, it hasn't worked out. I am going to take a short break to try to get my writing mojo back.

Have a good couple of weeks, everyone! I hope to be back writing actual posts soon.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Summer Is Here Edition

We're having our first summer heat wave, which is nothing compared to the heat wave other parts of the US has been having but is making Mr. Snarky feel pretty good about having got a whole house fan installed on Monday. So summer is here.

Mr. Snarky and I both had yesterday off. Both kids still had camp, and both kids are loving their camps this week so there was no question of them skipping. This means that Mr. Snarky and I got a day off with just the two of us! We went for a long walk on the beach and had lunch at a favorite old spot in Mission Beach (a restaurant called Guava Beach, for anyone who's curious: they have delicious guava-ritas and a coconut crusted chicken sandwich that is quite good).

I had to work today, but Mr. Snarky still had the day off (his company shuts down for the week of July 4), so we're taking advantage of the fact that he will be home to head out for some Friday evening summer fun with the kids, too.

This is my new strategy for not getting despondent over the mess in our country right now: Lots of summer fun to distract me. (Don't worry, I'm still writing postcards and supporting campaigns, too.)

Anyway, let's have some links.

You may not have heard about this amidst all the other news this week, but the House once again failed to pass any sort of immigration bill. I think there is no path to a bill that involves the Freedom Caucus, and since the moderate Republicans don't seem to want to work with the Democrats (who I think would compromise with them)... we're stuck. This Vox piece has a good explanation of the sad recent history of attempts to fix our immigration system.

Vox's The Weeds podcast did an episode on open borders (and the fact that despite what Trump and other immigration hard liners keep saying, no elected Democrat is actually pushing for open borders). It is a good and interesting episode, but like many The Weeds episodes, I was unsatisfied at the end because they didn't talk about one specific thing I think should be discussed - namely, that if our interest is in ending illegal immigration, whatever system we move to must have a legal and realistic path for low skill immigration. Otherwise, the combination of our really long border and the large number of low skill jobs that employers struggle to find Americans to fill will continue to pull people in without documentation. Maybe in some future immigration episode....

Still on immigration: This story about the informal, migrant-run system to keep track of whose turn it is to go and seek asylum is really upsetting to me. We are being so callous.

An independent journalist (who seems really well-respected in the online law/national security circles) wrote about deciding to become an FBI informant and the risk that puts her in right now.

Josh Marshall on the whether the calls to abolish ICE will backfire on Democrats. (My opinion on this one is that I don't know, but that we're not going to stop the calls for it at this point, so I guess we'll find out.) Jamelle Bouie wrote about the same topic, and argues that Democrats shouldn't worry about "swing voters" because they increasingly don't exist.

Josh Marshall also had a good podcast episode about some of the outrageous stuff that is going on and that a Democratic House might be inclined to investigate.

Matt Yglesias on our period of Constitutional hardball and what that means for the next time Democrats have power.

San Diego's current approach to homelessness got a favorable write up in Mother Jones. A lot of local homeless advocates are less positive on this approach. I don't know what I think about it yet, other than that we need to build more housing.

This is really interesting: The Texas Observer republished Molly Ivins' piece from when the Roe v. Wade was made.


This is wonderful. Let's build the monuments these kids suggest.

This is cool:


Have a good weekend, everyone!

Monday, July 02, 2018

That Sense of Impending Doom

I've been feeling really unsettled lately, like I'm slightly off-balance. At first I thought it was because I'm still figuring out the new job. It involves working with a lot of different people, so each new project I pick up is an adjustment as I learn the work styles of the new team.

But I don't think that's the problem. I realized when Justice Kennedy announced his retirement that what I'm feeling is a sense of impending doom about the state of the country. On the second day after the 2016 election, I wrote a post about what I thought might happen next. I knew then that the Supreme Court would swing more Conservative, and that this swing would mean the loss of some rulings a lot of people rely on. I have not been surprised by the policy coming out of the EPA, even if I have been surprised by the astounding corruption of Scott Pruitt. I knew immigration policy was going to get bad, but I confess I didn't expect we'd get to "ripping young children from their parents' arms and putting them in cages."

The Kennedy retirement jolted me because I realized that one of the worst things I thought would happen is now happening... and yet, it is not the worst thing that is happening now.  I think that perhaps I got an expanded sense of just how bad it is likely to get, and that gave me the perception to recognize what my subconscious has been telling me for quite a while.

So now I can name the feeling in the pit of my stomach: It is a sense of impending doom. It isn't just due to the fact that so many of my fellow Americans are enthusiastically on board with Trump's dehumanizing language about immigrants and cruel immigration policy. I think I'd already accepted that fact. It is also the fact that quite a lot of other Americans are sort of sleepwalking through this, rationalizing away the sort of language and behavior that in the past has taken countries to really terrible places. I know so many people who aren't really doing anything differently. They'll vote, but that is the extent of their involvement. I'm glad they'll vote and I hope that the rest of us can make that be enough to stop our slide.

I am hoping that once I really accept that there are going to be a lot of bystanders in this fight the feeling in the pit of my stomach will go away, or at least lessen. Or maybe I just need to learn some new techniques to let the fear and worry go for short periods of time, so that I can rest and recharge.

There are things giving me hope right now. Perhaps I need to focus more on those. I have been encouraged by all the people showing up to fight for the families separated at the border. I have been encouraged by all the different faith leaders who spoke out against that policy. I am encouraged to see the Indivisible groups mobilizing to fight against another Heritage Foundation endorsed Supreme Court justice. I suspect we'll lose this fight, but I thought we'd lose the ACA fight and we haven't yet, not completely. So maybe in fighting we can get a judge who is more moderate and more representative of what the majority of people in this country actually believe. Anyway, it is worth a try.

I am also encouraged in a weird way to remember that the Court has usually been a small c-conservative institution, and that the period I've grown up in is actually an anomaly. I hope the fact that many of the rights-expanding decisions will be overturned will focus people's attention on spending more effort on state level elections. Here is a good thread about that:

I worry about what the next court will do to voting rights. I think we're going to have to work really, really hard to overcome structural disadvantages, both the ones that are enshrined in our system (e.g., the way the Senate and the Electoral College over-represent the people living in small states) and the ones that we've allowed to accrue because we weren't paying enough attention to the anti-voting moves going on in some states (e.g., voter ID laws, voting roll purges, extreme gerrymandering). I think we're in for a hard fight to win this at the ballot box, but I think we can still win it. I think we can turn the tide.

And so I keep working towards that goal, trying to push myself to do more to achieve it. I doubt that sense of impending doom I have will go away anytime soon, so I just have to learn how to work through it.


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