Monday, June 18, 2018

What I Am Doing Now

In my Weekend Reading post, I mentioned that I was pulling back from reading all the stories about the humanitarian crisis our government has created on our southern border because I found it made me despondent, and that made it harder for me to fight for change. I got an email from a reader asking me what I was doing to fight for change right now. I used to post my weekly actions to Twitter every Wednesday morning, but since going back to a regular full time job, I haven't been doing that. I have been trying to take action, though.

First of all, I haven't stated why I am so upset by this. I am horrified by this policy, and the administration statements indicating they are using this policy as a bargaining chip to get a wall or stop the diversity lottery in our immigration system are just disgusting. Their statements indicating they hope this will be a deterrent are also disgusting. What we are doing to those children is cruel and inhumane. Whatever you think of their parents' decision to seek asylum, inflicting suffering on children is abhorrent. That they are doing this in my name makes me ashamed.

Beyond the immediate crisis, though, I worry about the path we are on. We have ICE agents who are willing to rip a breastfeeding baby away from his or her mother. We have agents who can make jokes about the sound of crying children who are distraught about being separated from their families. Frankly, I am not sure what these agents will not do at this point. I do not say that lightly. It is terrifying to think about where this path could go, particularly since ICE agents have authority within 100 miles of the border. I live within 100 miles of the border. So do two-thirds of all Americans.

So what am I doing?

I have contacted my Senators and my Representative. All have already spoken out against the policy. Dianne Feinstein has authored legislation to stop it, and Kamala Harris was an early co-sponsor. But I contacted them anyway to add my voice in support of their position.

Next, we will be donating to one of the organizations listed here. I want to donate more than my personal "blow on whatever I want" fund supports, so I need to sit down with my husband and decide who we'll donate to and how much. We'll do that this week.

More generally, I am fighting to make Republicans lose wherever I can. That is much more starkly partisan than I usually am, but I think it is warranted right now. Even 3 of the 4 the Never Trump conservatives interviewed in that article I posted on Friday are hoping that the Democrats will take at least the House. I think it is clear that the Republicans aren't going to provide any check on Trump. If they do, they will be primaried (evidence: Mark Sanford's loss in South Carolina).

I also think it is clear that the Republican party has been captured by its more racist wing. Steve King retweeted an open Nazi sympathizer and not one Republican politician calls him on it. Corey Stewart has won the Republican nomination for Senate in Virginia.

And of course, there is the influence of Stephen Miller on immigration policy.

I think the least painful way we break this fever is to make the Republicans start losing for their support of the policies and their embrace of these people. If we fail to do that, I am genuinely fearful about what it will take to turn things around. So I am focusing my efforts to turn things around at the ballot box.

I continue to write for Postcards to Voters.

I have also decided that every paycheck between now and November, I will pick three congressional races to donate to. I started this week. I looked at the Cook Political Report on competitive races, and this week I decided to donate to Josh Harder (CA-10) and Amy McGrath (KY-6). Both races are listed as toss ups. I also sent money to Beto O'Rourke. He is a bit of a long shot, but he's been very outspoken on the policy to separate children from their families at the border, and gosh, I'd love to see Ted Cruz lose.

My husband and I may also send some more money to Let America Vote, Vote Riders, Mi Familia Vota, or some other organization working to expand and protect voting rights.

So that's what I'm doing to fight back right now. Tell us what you're doing in the comments if you'd like!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Weekend Reading: School's Out Edition

Wednesday was the last day of school here, and so the first half of the week was full of the usual end of school year events. This year we had some extra events, because Pumpkin finished 5th grade, which is the end of elementary school here. There was a promotion party at Mission Bay on Sunday, and some extra things for her at school. Petunia's class, meanwhile, decided to have a "last day of school breakfast." Petunia asked if I could send scones, and scones are easy so I said yes. But then she asked could I make them Wednesday morning so they'd be hot... and I laughed at myself for being such a sucker, but I said yes again.

So anyway, it has been a busy week, which always shortens my links list. And the news has just been soul-crushing this week. The news about the separation of children from their parents at our border is excruciating to follow. I have been following, but not in detail, because I find that when I allow myself to get too sucked in to these distressing news cycles, I lose my motivation to keep working for change. So, I took a step back so that I could keep working to move us past this period. That means I won't be sharing stories on this topic this week.

Here are the links I do have:

I continue to follow voting rights issues, and the Supreme Court's decision to allow Ohio's voter purge law to stand is disappointing. Here is a discussion of Justice Sotomayor's dissent, and how it may show the path to getting rid of these laws, which have been shown to disproportionately disenfranchise poorer voters and voters of color.

This is an interesting round table with four Never-Trump conservatives.

Sarah Rich on her son who likes to wear dresses and the limits we impose on boys.

David Roberts wrote an explainer about carbon dioxide capture technology and what it does and does not mean for climate change.

Perfect:




Bunny!





That's all I have this week. Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, June 08, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Edition I Don't Have a Name For

The weather here was gorgeous today. It was the first time in awhile that I've been able to go rollerblading in shorts, and it felt great to be out by the bay with the warm sun and the cool breeze.

I'm trying to notice these small happy things a bit more, as an antidote to the large unhappy things going on in the news. It isn't that I want to ignore the news, it is that I need to hold on to the happy things to give me the fortitude to keep facing the news and trying to do my bit to make things better.

The "notice the happy things" message came at me from two directions this week: Once from Laura Vanderkam's new book, Off the Clock (which I've finished and enjoyed and will be writing about over at my real name blog soonish) and once from the episode of Ana Marie Cox's podcast With Friends Like These in which she interviewed Diana Butler Bass.

So anyway, it was a particularly nice rollerblade today, and I made a point of noticing that.

On to the links!

In semi-self-promotional news: The ebook edition of Tattoo, Michelle Rene's novella about a future in which our pasts are written on our skin, was on sale for $0.99 this week. The price will go back to normal tomorrow, so if you act quickly you can still get a discounted copy.

In other news:

There were two stories this week about how we're missing the forest for the trees in the Trump-Russia affair. First David Corn wrote about how Trump's simple, repetitive lies are setting the narrative and making people overlook what is obvious:

"In 2016, Vladimir Putin’s regime mounted information warfare against the United States, in part to help Trump become president. While this attack was underway, the Trump crew tried to collude covertly with Moscow, sought to set up a secret communications channel with Putin’s office, and repeatedly denied in public that this assault was happening, providing cover to the Russian operation. Trump and his lieutenants aligned themselves with and assisted a foreign adversary, as it was attacking the United States. The evidence is rock-solid: They committed a profound act of betrayal. That is the scandal. "

Second, Josh Marshall wrote about how we obviously have a problem with a President who is advancing Russia's interests, and how it doesn't really matter at this point if we can prove there was a quid pro quo that led to it:

"We have a President who clearly got a great deal of assistance from Russia in getting elected. We can argue about how important it was to his victory. But the reality of the help is not in any real dispute. His campaign at a minimum had numerous highly suspicious contacts with people either in the Russian government or acting on behalf of the Russian government while that was happening. That is a very generous interpretation. He’s doing all the stuff he’d have been asked to do if such a corrupt bargain had been made. At a certain point – and I’d say we’re clearly at or past that point – it really doesn’t matter whether we can prove such a bargain was made."

The news this morning about Anthony Bourdain was so sad. If anyone reading this is struggling right now, please reach out for help and please know that we want you to stay here with us. You matter.

There are a lot of people writing about Bourdain today. This short piece by Joshua Keating was one that really resonated with me, probably because it is about the travel aspect of his work (I'm not much of a foodie).

I would also like to post a link to an old post I wrote about a time when I failed at keeping my asthma under control, because every time I share it I hear that it helps people understand how chronic illnesses can get out of control.

The story about a DREAMer from Iowa who was sent back to Mexico and killed by gangs within weeks is heart-breaking. There are so many heart-breaking immigration stories right now. I have to look away from a lot of them, because they overwhelm me.

Jamelle Bouie got into a rather surprising Twitter argument about the Enlightenment and racism, and that turned into a really good essay.

In recommended listening: The With Friends Like These episode I mentioned above was good. I would also really recommend Ezra Klein's interview with Mehrsa Baradaran about the racial wealth gap.

Here's something happy:




And here's something LOLSOBy:


And here's some bunnies:


That's all I have this week. Happy weekend, everyone!

Monday, June 04, 2018

Thoughts after a Peer Mentoring Meeting

I am member of a peer mentoring group that meets on the first Monday of every month. I highly recommend finding or building a peer mentoring group if you can - I get great ideas and support from my group. I came home today with several new ideas for where I might take my career and a lot more enthusiasm and optimism about said career than I had when I headed to the meeting.

It isn't that my career is going badly... it is more that I feel like I've lost the plot of my career. For years, the goals I was aiming for were obvious. But right now, they aren't. I am unsure what I really want to aim for. That's OK: I have a good job at a good company, working with people I like. I don't necessarily see much scope for advancement at this particular company, but that may not actually be a problem. As one of my peer mentors pointed out today, there are other things I could do to get growth.

The question I have to answer is: growth toward what? That is less obvious to me right now. Strangely, I think I am OK with that, too. I don't have an urgent need to change anything. I might take a little time to think about what my long term goals should be, pick some of the more low key growth ideas my peer group came up with, coast along for a bit without any urgency on them, and see which things sprout.

One option is to decide I don't need to grow further in my main career at all and focus more on growing my publishing business. I've been running it for four years. I said I'd evaluate at five years and see if it was a good investment of time and money. Right now it loses a little money each year but gives me a lot of enjoyment. Could I turn it into something self-sustaining? I am actually surprisingly close, although "self-sustaining" is a long, long way from "paying me enough to make it my main job."

Another option is to work to grow more of an online presence under my actual name, and maybe use that some time down the road to try out the independent path again. Maybe with some more time and thought, I can come up with a business that I would enjoy running and that would be financially sustainable.

Another option is to find a relevant association or society to get more active in, and use that to grow more skills and expand my network, which I could eventually translate into either my own business or a different sort of job in my main career.

And of course, maybe my current company will grow and there will be a growth opportunity there. I could try to think about what skills would set me up to take advantage of future growth at my company and work on those.

The peer group had some other ideas, too, so I have a lot to think about! It is strange to realize I'm maybe half-way through my working life (I think I have roughly 20 years to retirement, and I'm 19 years post-PhD) and still don't really know where I'm going. It is stranger still to be OK with that!

Friday, June 01, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Back in the Link Business Edition

We decided to get our Prius fixed. We hope to get a couple more years out of it and decided that the repair was worth it to get those years. We'll see how it goes. The Prius is with the mechanic now and I'm driving a rental car.

I've mostly caught up on what I meant to do last Friday. Hooray! But I've been pretty busy with both that and with my actual job, so haven't had a chance to write much. Boo!

Still, I have some links, so lets get to them:

This article from a former 911 dispatcher about racist 911 calls is depressing. But go read it anyway.

Sady Doyle on the ERA and what it might mean if we get it ratified.

And this article by Jess McIntosh about a bad evening and the continual redefining of our stories about our experiences as we gain more insight is really, really good.

My pick for the one article to read if you only have time for one: This article with the stories of refugees and deportees in Tijuana, and the people trying to help them.

Greg Sargent on what Republicans in Congress are helping to cover up.

This made me smile:




But bunnies are better!


Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Never Tempt Fate

This morning, I tweeted about the lovely day off I had planned. It was off to a good start. I'd gotten a few things crossed off my publishing to do list, then I was to head to the beach for a walk. My plan was to come home at lunch time, eat, and then do some more items from my publishing list, then go get my hair cut. Then I'd come home, finish up my list, and go get the kids, ready to start our three day weekend.

Well. Clearly, my happy little tweet thread annoyed the fates. When I went out to drive to the beach the car wouldn't start. Our 11 year old Prius has been having some issues. The mechanic diagnosed it as the circuit board that controls the dash electronics and things like that. So far, it had only caused the dash not to turn on: the car always started. It is a ~$1200 repair, and it requires leaving the car in the shop for a couple of weeks (apparently they h ave to send the exact mileage to Japan to get burned into the new circuit board, and then wait for that board to come back.) So we haven't fixed it yet. I told Mr. Snarky we should start talking about whether or not we would fix it, or just get a new car, but we haven't even done that yet.

Now we have to talk about it, because the car is dead in the driveway. I think the dash problem caused something to stay running after my husband went out this morning to swap CDs out of it, and my guess is that the battery drained.

I wasted a good 30 minutes trying to get the thing to start, and then gave up and took a Lyft to the beach. I didn't want to miss my walk! It was a nice walk, but instead of letting my mind wander about some long term plans, it wandered about what should I do about the $#%@! car.

I got a Lyft home and had lunch. After texting a bit with my husband, we decided I'd call AAA and get the car jumped. The downside would be I'd have to drive around for ~30 minutes to recharge the battery, but the upside would be I'd have a car to get to my hair appointment.

Well, the nice AAA technician tried for about 30 minutes, but we couldn't get the car to start. The technician thinks either the battery is bad or the loss of power was the last straw for the circuit board.

Regardless, this left me with no car to get to my hair appointment. Luckily, my salon is in my neighborhood, so I could walk there. But there went another 50-60 minutes of my day.

So now, I'm almost out of time. My publishing to do list did not get finished. My happy day off turned into a frustrating one. I can't face looking at the links I have saved. They're probably all a bit depressing, given the state of things right now.

Instead, here are a couple of pictures from my walk on the beach.

It was really low tide, so beds of these little sea creatures were exposed:



And the exposed little sea creature drew a lot of birds. This was the best picture I got:



I am still sad that my day didn't go as planned. I have no idea when I'll next get a chance to work peacefully on my projects, instead of squeezing them in around the edges of all the other things I have to do. But, on the bright side, by the time I got to the beach, our cloudy day had turned sunny, and it really was a beautiful walk.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Of Course It Happened Again Edition

My heart is heavy for the kids of Santa Fe High School in Texas. I don't have anything to link to with new insight or comforting words. It has been said before, and we'll all say it again when it happens again.

I'll just say that there are a lot of policy ideas that we could try that experts think might help and a majority of Americans support.

That we aren't trying them is a failure of our political system.

I actually view our inaction on guns as another symptom of the same malaise that is giving us the lack of any meaningful oversight of the Trump administration, even as they do things that look blatantly corrupt (e.g., that ZTE deal, just about everything Pruitt does, and on and on) and the Russia investigation gets ever more alarming.

I was going to write more about that, but my heart is not in it. I'm sorry. I think I've said everything I would have written before, anyway.

The 2018 elections are really important. I hope everyone will really reflect on what their vote will mean, on many levels.

And now on to the other links I'd saved to share this week.

Paul Waldman on why Democrats can't ever "respect Trump voters" enough - they don't get to talk directly to those voters.

This is an interesting and informative comparison of the state of the Mueller investigation to past political investigations.

My recommended listening this week: Ezra Klein's interview with political science professor Lilliana Mason about "mega-identities" and American politics. I actually found this interview hopeful - particularly Professor Mason's point that we're probably in the early stages of another party realignment.

This thread from Noah Smith is really good. In fact, it is my "if you read only one thing" pick for this week. I think this is the first time that pick is a thread!





Does anyone else remember Red Dawn? This made me laugh, but I saw that movie more than most due to my sister's fondness for C. Thomas Howell.




This is beautiful.



Muppet outtakes!




Bunny!


That's all I have today. I'll be hugging my kids a little tighter tonight. And writing some more postcards tomorrow, I think.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Books and Such

Thank you for all the nice comments on my last post. My stomach is feeling better, although not 100% normal yet. I am not sure if the improvement is due to time, the Pepto I took one night, or the beer I had the next night... or some combination of all three.

Tonight, let's talk about books! Books are more fun than identity theft and upset stomachs.

I've ready some really great non-fiction books lately, so first I'll tell you about those.

I read Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann, for book club this month and oh wow, you should read it. It tells the story of a murder spree targeting members of the Osage tribe, who were incredibly wealthy due to their rights to oil found on their land, but who could not turn their wealth into fair treatment from the government or most white people with whom they interacted. It is a gripping true crime story mixed with a devastating history lesson.

I am just now finishing up My Own Words, by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This was a gift, and it sat unread for quite awhile. But I'm so glad I decided to pick it up! The essays and speeches in the first part of the book provide a fascinating look into Justice Ginsburg's early life and career. But I think my favorite essay in the book is The Madison Lecture: Speaking in a Judicial Voice. Specifically, her comments on Roe v. Wade in the "Measured Motions in Third Branch Decisionmaking"are really thought-provoking. Basically, she thinks the court got too far out ahead of the legislative bodies in making that ruling, and made too broad of a ruling. She argues that a more moderate ruling might have allowed time for the legislative branches of state governments to "catch up" and thereby have avoided the contentious backlash against the ruling we're all living through now. I'm not really doing justice to her argument, so if you're interested in it, I recommend getting your hands on a copy of the book and reading the lecture yourself.

On a much different note: The Colour of Food, by Anne Else, was another gift book. I can't disentangle how much of my enjoyment of it was because it is a well-written and diverting set of essays about memories and food and how much came from the fact that the book was given to me by my mother-in-law, and I think may have helped me understand her a bit better. (I like my mother-in-law quite a lot, for the record, so that is in no way a comment on her. I just don't see her all that often since she lives in New Zealand!)

Next, I'll be reading Laura Vanderkam's next book, Off the Clock. I have an advance copy and will start it as soon as I finish the Ruth Bader Ginsburg book.

In fact, Off the Clock is going to be the first book in what I hope will be a series of books I read and write about over at my "real name blog." I've been struggling to decide what to do with that space now that I'm no longer an independent consultant. I considered just moth balling it, but I decided that I like the idea of having a space to write under my actual name, even if I won't write as often. I recently decided that I want to use that space to explore my long-standing interest in the relationship between time use and well-being. I'm still not sure exactly what that will look like, but I have decided that part of it will be reading a book and then writing about what I learned from it and also what I don't agree with in it, if that is relevant. 

I decided to start with Off the Clock since Laura was nice enough to send me an advance copy and I'd like to read it close to when it comes out. But I have been gathering a bit of a list of books I want to read. This evening, I even got that list out of my head and into Trello. I debated various ways to track my list and decided on Trello because I can access it from anywhere and I can keep some notes associated with the books as I read them. Also, the board paradigm seemed like a good way to organize my reading list. So I made a Trello board with three lists: to read, reading, and read. Each book gets a card. It is the happiest of boards! An entire board devoted to books! I'll report back in later on how it works out for this project, irrespective of how the project itself actually goes.

If you're interested in following along on my reading and other explorations, follow me over there. I'm not sure I'll write much about it here. I'm still thinking about how I'll structure things, but I am leaning towards a simple "read along if you want to" structure, where I announce each book as I start it and then when I finish it, I post on it and anyone who is interested can come and discuss. I think this is going to be a slow motion project, and I also think that it would be the sort of thing you can dip in and out of as the books (or podcasts or whatever else) interest you. If you're curious, here are some of the other books on my "to read" list right now:


And I suspect I'll dig a few more out of my podcast history! I've got a bunch of other books on my board, too, but they aren't necessarily related to this project. Although some, like Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, might find their way in once I read them... who knows? It will be fun to see what connections I find. I'm very open to other reading suggestions, so drop them in the comments if you have them!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Annoyances

A couple of weeks ago, I got a letter in the mail from the LAPD. Someone they arrested was in the possession of a lot of my personal info, and they wanted me to call and let them know if I'd noticed any fraudulent activity on my credit.

Back in January, someone had tried to use my credit card to buy tickets to Disneyland. This caused a lot of confusion for me, because we had a trip to Disneyland coming up about a month later, and I wondered if Disney had perhaps charged the remainder of our hotel room. So I spent a bunch of time on the phone with Disney and my credit card confirming that no, that charge was not mine.

So I tried to call the detective and tell her about that... but she wasn't in. I left a message and put the letter on my desk at work, to remind me to call back again.

Then today, I got an email from Amazon confirming that they'd changed my email address as I asked. Except I hadn't asked. I spent about 15 minutes on the phone with a nice lady at Amazon confirming I was me and I had not changed my email address and learning about what I needed to do next.

Then I called the LAPD detective back. She was very nice. The man who was arrested had a lot of people's personal info. There was even a movie star on his list! She didn't say who, but she did say he called her back personally, which I find somewhat soothing. Me and some movie star, both talking to a nice LAPD detective about consumer fraud. She said a lot of the other victims weren't as lucky as me: they had fraudulent charges and fraudulent accounts to clean up. Some had accounts for which mailing addresses had been changed.

My Amazon account is back in my control. I've called and cancelled the three credit cards that were stored in the account, although there is not indication that the person who took control of my Amazon account managed to access anything or even order anything. I am debating whether or not to set up two-factor authentication on my Amazon account. I probably will, once I convince myself it won't screw up our ability to watch shows on our Roku.

Next, I need to place a hold on my credit with the credit bureaus. I checked my credit right after I got the letter from the LAPD, and nothing fraudulent had been opened.

I used to grumble that if crooks took the effort they directed to stealing digital identities and directed it to something legit, they'd probably make decent money. Having tried to make my little publishing company make a profit, I no longer say that. It is hard to make a business succeed! But still, I am annoyed at the crook who had my personal info and wish he'd pick a different way to make a living.

----------------------

My other annoyance is that my stomach is still not quite right. I am not sure what would make it come right at this point. I have babied my stomach for more than a week and it hasn't sorted itself out. I haven't even been wanting my usual three squares of dark chocolate at the end of lunch. Something is clearly not quite right!

I am reminded of a friend who told me about one of her friends who had a stomach bug and was basically better, but not quite right... and who came to visit her in Chicago and ate a Chicago dog with the works and then was great.

I don't think I'd like a Chicago dog with the works, but maybe I should try having a couple of beers.

-----------------------

That's all I have the energy for tonight. A pox on crooks and bad stomachs.


Friday, May 11, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Upset Stomach Edition

No, the title doesn't refer to the nausea-inducing aspects of following the news these days. It refers to an actual upset stomach!

All my plans for this week got upended Tuesday night, when Petunia threw up. I'll spare you all the details. Tuesday night wasn't great, but it could have been worse. She stayed home with Mr. Snarky on Wednesday, and went to school yesterday. She was all set to go to school again today when... uh oh. Upset stomach, part II.

So she stayed home again today, this time with me (since I work at home most Fridays, this was no big deal).

This obviously meant no rollerblading, but to be honest, I probably wouldn't have gone, anyway, because I've felt... off most of the week. I can't really pin down what is wrong, but I'm clearly not 100% healthy. I felt so off last night that I went to bed before 9!

Anyway, my to do list is in shambles. I'm hoping to rally a bit later and come up with a new plan. We don't make a big deal out of Mother's Day, but I'd rather not spend the entire day working on things, trying to catch up. Some triage is in order.

But first, let's have some links.

I have some self-promo links today.

First, in book news: Here's the Deal, Micah Edwards' humorous retelling of the Book of Exodus, is now out! Come for the Ten Commandments and the parting of the Red Sea, stay for the... tent decorating instructions? (Seriously, there are a lot of tent decorating instructions.) Here's an early review from Fill Your Bookshelves, if you'd like a second opinion.

Also, in honor of Mother's Day, I'm running a short sale on the ebook edition of Both Sides of My Skin, Elizabeth Trach's collection of short stories about motherhood. These stories really rang true to me, more than writing about motherhood usually does. You can get a copy for just $0.99 if you act soon- the sale ends next Friday.

In other news:

If you read only one link this week, make it this story about Ronny Ahmed, who was shot outside a library at FSU, and is trying to rebuild his life.

Alex Pareene's post about the lack of fact-based reporting in the current right-wing media is worth your time.

What it would look like if we really got serious about addressing climate change.

There is a Syrian man who has been stuck in the Kuala Lumpur airport for two months.

The backstory on the car that got eaten by lava.

My recommended listening this week: If you want to get caught up on the Trump-Russia-money story, Josh Marshall's last two podcasts will help. One is on Trump switching from debt to cash and one is titled "Trump Is a Mob-Friendly Businessman Who is Now President of the United States." (Which is a well-supported quote from the guest on the show.)

Susan Hennessey is doing her part to highlight the importance of the story about how the intelligence community does not trust House Intelligence committee chair Devin Nunes to protect its sources:






Funny:




Also funny:


Bunny!


Have a good weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 04, 2018

Weekend Reading: Another Short Edition

It is a gorgeous day here today, but sadly, I did not get to go rollerblading. I tweaked my back/neck somehow earlier this week. At first it seemed like no big deal, I was just a little stiff. But yesterday I woke up in a lot of pain and the pain got worse when I moved my head. Some ibuprofen and time on the heating pad made me able to function, and I got through the day (including the networking event I was due to attend in the evening). My back was much better today, but not to the point that I think rollerblading would be a good idea. So I went for a walk after lunch instead, which was nice, but not rollerblading nice.

Anyway... let's get to the links. I don't have many this week, but I think the ones I have are good!

My pick for the one story to read if you only read one this week is Jamelle Bouie's piece about the new memorial for lynching victims.

Apparently GOP candidates who have criminal convictions in their past are now blaming Obama for those convictions. I think this is a dangerous trend and hope these candidates lose their primaries. If reports I've heard that Democrats are supporting Blankenship in his primary (because he will presumably be easier to beat in the general) are true, I think that is a bad and short-sighted strategy and hope they think better of it.

Jonathan Chait had a good piece about the problem in the Republican party right now.

ICE has detained US citizens, and from my read of this story, does not have a good procedure for, or even much demonstrated interest in, making sure that doesn't happen.

I included this in my Management Monthly newsletter, but I want to share it here, too: Brigid Schulte interviews Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of Dying for a Paycheck, about the harm our modern work culture does to us. I've put that book on my "to read" list.

Recommended listening: Code Switch had a really interesting episode on Jewish identity.

The discussion around "incels" is mostly just exhausting to me, and I confess I'm ignoring a lot of it. How many times do people have to say that this group of men is not really looking for sex per se, they're looking for the status they think dating (and having sex with) a conventionally attractive woman gives them, and that men who view women as status symbols don't really consider us fully human? How many times do we have to remind men that we are people with our own stories, not just supporting characters in their stories? It is exhausting and since I briefly dated a guy in college who saw me as a status symbol (EWWW) and that contributed to some difficulties I had in my first year of college that almost derailed me... I find it particularly unpleasant to engage in this discussion. Also, I know that I do not have the ability to explore the weirdness of that status symbol dating experience and all the associated stuff... so I just avoid it. I would love to read someone like Rebecca Traister unpack this whole thing, but I know I cannot do that work myself.

Anyhow, all of that is to say that this Helen Rosner thread is as close as I got to engaging with the latest iteration of the discussion:




Here's a nice Twitter story:




Bunny!




Another bunny!


Happy weekend, everyone!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

In Which I Lose Weight in the Most Boring Way Possible

Towards the end of last year, I realized my weight had crept up another few pounds, and I hated it. My clothes were too tight, and when I went shopping to find new clothes, I didn't like how anything looked.

I had a reasonable excuse: with starting a new job, losing that job, and then finding another new job, December had been stressful. Also, I'd been sick most of November, and so my exercise routine was in shambles.

But so what if I had a good excuse? There would always be an excuse I could find, and if I didn't change something, I knew I'd add a few pounds every year and then before long, I'd be at a weight that was not healthy for me.

So, I decided to do something about it. I signed up for the "kick start" program at the YMCA that is convenient to my new job, and picked a day in January for my first meeting with the trainer.

That was all I'd planned to do. I figured I'd get my exercise routine going again, and that would stop the increase in pounds. I figured it was unlikely I'd actually lose weight, so I'd just try to stop the increase.

Then, on a bit of a whim, I downloaded a calorie counting app and decided to start using it. I can't say why I decided to download it or why I decided I should try calorie counting for awhile. But I did, and I was surprised to find myself actually losing weight. The app lets you track calories consumed and calories burned by exercise. It has a large enough database that it can provide a calorie count for most foods without me having to figure it out. If it is a packaged food, I can just scan the barcode and usually it has the calories. It can also give an estimate of calories burned if I type in "20 minute walk" or something like that.

I set myself a net calorie target that would have me lose weight. I missed the target most days, but usually not by a huge amount. The more important thing was probably that it made me aware of how many calories I was mindlessly snacking through. It made me more conscious of what I was eating, and helped me "reset" away from some of my less healthy eating habits.

A couple of weeks ago, I was down 10 pounds from my peak weight at the end of December. Of course, that peak weight was three pounds higher than what I'd been at for most of the year, but it was still a quite noticeable loss for me. My pants aren't tight anymore! I don't think anyone else noticed, or if they did, they didn't say anything, but I feel better about how I look, and I feel like I'm being healthier, which is what matters most to me.

Sadly, when I stopped using the calorie counting app, I gained a couple of pounds back. But that puts me at the weight I landed at after the 5 pounds I gained when I hit perimenopause, and I maintained that weight without much effort for several years. So maybe that is a good weight for me? Or maybe I just stopped using the app a little too soon, and needed a few more weeks for the new habits to settle in. Or maybe it was that I had a few weeks where my exercise routine got disrupted? Who knows.

Here's the thing: I don't want to spend a lot of time thinking about my weight. One of the reasons I was able to stick to using that app for as long as I did was that it was pretty unobtrusive. I didn't have to calculate a lot of calorie counts and the like. But even so, I don't want to have to use it forever. I'll be pretty sad if I gain back any more of the weight I lost, but I'd be pretty sad if I couldn't have a beer or two now and then, or indulge in a decadent dessert sometimes, without figuring out how many minutes I have to run to compensate. It is hard to find the balance. I miss the days when my body just sort of took care of this for me, and I maintained my weight without thinking about it.  I don't think those days are coming back, though, so I had better find a new approach.

Mr. Snarky's approach to this is just to exercise more. I like that approach in theory, but in practice... my life has too many constraints right now. For instance, I went out for my rollerblade on Friday, but had to cut it short because it was windy and that slowed me down, and I had to make it to school to pick up the kids on time. Similarly, I skipped one of my usual weight machines at the gym on Wednesday because there were two dudes taking turns on it and I finished all my other exercises and they still weren't done... and I couldn't wait, because I had to get home by a certain time. I do get exercise time in, but I almost never have unconstrained exercise time.

The constrained nature of my time bothered me for a long time, but I have decided that I just have to accept this fact about my current phase in life and work around it. It isn't going to change until my kids get older, so there is no point pouting about it. I'm better served by acknowledging it, acknowledging that I do not like it, and then figuring out how to work around the constraints to get as much of what I want as I can.

I'd like to figure out how to get more exercise in, and I have some ideas. Now that it is staying light later, there's time for more after dinner games of birdie with Petunia and walks around the neighborhood with Pumpkin. But I don't think I should count on that. I think that if I want to lose more weight, or just stabilize at the weight I've landed on now, I need to use that calorie counting app for a bit longer. I'm going to start again today.

What do you do to stay healthy as age changes how your body behaves?

Friday, April 27, 2018

Weekend Reading: Just Links, But They're Good Links

Since I just did an update on my life post, let's just go straight to the links.

If you read only one link this week, make it this powerful piece by Rebecca Solnit: Whose Story (and Country) Is This?

But Dylan Matthews on how just getting Trump out of office won't fix what's wrong with our democracy is really good, too.

This story by a woman whose mother lost her home and was living out of her SUV is heartbreaking.

Matt Yglesias argues for a jobs guarantee... or at least a set of programs aimed at fuller employment.

If you're curious why the governor's offer of a pay raise didn't end the Arizona teachers' strike, this Vox article will give you an idea of what's going on. It is not just that teacher's pay is low (although it is in Arizona). It is that education funding has been cut drastically. I keep seeing people surprised that teachers aren't happy with pay raises. I think that misses what they're really fighting for, which is something that Vox article gets at in the final section.

We're finally getting an earthquake early warning system here!

This year's NPR Tiny Desk winner is very good.

This xkcd is so very funny if you know anyone in the groups he's teasing. Don't miss the mouse-over...

Recommended listening: Krista Tippet's conversation with Helen Fisher is really interesting. It is titled "This is Your Brain on Sex" but it is more about the broader topic of love and partnering. It gave me a lot to think about and also made me want to go read things by Helen Fisher, or maybe listen to her TED talks.

The ultimate Aussie picture:




Bunny snuggles!


Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Coming Up for Air

Hi! It has been awhile since I've written a post that isn't a series of links.

I'm past the big seminar I had agreed to do. I'm catching up on the submissions I've received for Annorlunda's 2019 publishing year. I've got some promotions underway and more scheduled for some of Annorlunda's existing books. All in all, I feel... not caught up, exactly, but like I've almost got things back under control.

Instead of focusing on how much I haven't done or how I let myself get so far behind on things, I thought I'd spend a little time tonight reviewing what is going well.

First of all, the new job is good. Since that's paying the bills, that's important.

I've almost got an exercise routine figured out. It took some experimenting with my schedule and that was on hold for over a month when I got sick, but I'm getting back into what I think will be my routine: a short jog on Monday mornings (or the ~75% of Monday mornings when I can get myself out of bed at 6 instead of 6:20), a 30 minute weights circuit at the gym on Wednesday evenings, and a rollerblading outing on Friday afternoons.

The fact that I can bring Friday afternoon rollerblading back is one of my favorite things about my new job. It works because I have an early morning teleconference on Fridays, and so I work from home (a lot of people in my office work from home on Fridays, so that makes it easier to do). The early start and lack of a commute lets me finish up between 3:30 and 4, so I can get out for a nice rollerblade and get home before traffic gets bad.

The last piece of my exercise routine is that I take a 20-30 minute walk most lunch hours. I don't do that for exercise, though: I do it as a way to refresh my focus and also think through problems/issues.

In other non-work achievements: I'm trying to request 10 addresses from Postcards to Voters most weeks. This is the type of involvement that feels best to me and is most sustainable for me over the long term. I still do other things as it makes sense, but I've come to think that the best thing I can do right now is help make Republicans pay a price at the ballot box for their embrace of nativism and racism, and I like the postcard writing approach. In more normal times, I don't stick my nose into elections in places I don't live or at least know really well. But these are not normal times.

Like I said at the top, I've set up some promotions for some existing books. The ebook edition of The Burning is on sale for $0.99 this week. I've got Here's the Deal up on NetGalley (still on my to do list: figure out how to recruit more NetGalley reviewers).  I've got some more promo ideas to work on soon, too.

I've been keeping up with my New Year's resolution to read at least one short story every week. I post the short story I read the prior week on Annorlunda's Twitter feed and Facebook page every Monday. I am enjoying how this resolution (and the public accountability for it) encourages me to read more broadly.

And of course, there's the kids. Pumpkin's Harry Potter 11th birthday party was a success, and her Harry Potter obsession continues: She actually asked to watch the first film last weekend. She almost never wants to watch movies! Petunia is developing an obsession with the A Series of Unfortunate Events series, which is good, because they're a bit of a stretch for her reading level-wise.

Pumpkin passed the test that would route her to the advanced math track if she were going to a middle school with an advanced math track, so now we just have to figure out how to keep her at that level through middle school.

Petunia told me today that her favorite subjects in school are math and writing. She thinks the subject she most needs to work on is spelling. I agree with this self-assessment, and we had a nice chat about how improving her Spanish reading comprehension would help her in math (because of the word problems) and how reading more would help with spelling, too.

As much as I'd like to tackle some of the bigger items on my to do list, both side hustle related and otherwise, I have to admit that the two things I most want to improve on are my blogging frequency (I miss writing meatier posts!) and my sleep habits. I am not blessed with low sleep needs, and yet keep acting like I am, and that leaves me tired more often than I'd like to be. 

So, having written a post, if not a meaty post, I think I will now take myself off to bed. What's up with you all?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Weekend Reading; The Almost Through the Crunch Edition

My big seminar was this week. I think it went well. As always, I enjoyed giving it. But boy, am I glad to be done with it. I still have to get through the backlog of other things that piled up while I was focused on getting ready for the seminar, but I am hoping to spend less time at my desk this weekend and more time in my hammock or playing "birdie" (hitting a badminton shuttlecock back and forth) with Petunia.

Anyway, here are some links:

First some friend promo: Tragic Sandwich is trying to help get books and supplies for a drastically underfunded school library. I sent one of the classics from their wish list and a copy of Full Cicada Moon, by Marilyn Hilton, a book that I recently read to Pumpkin and really liked.

I didn't save any politics posts this week. I'm not ignoring things- I have a list of 10 addresses in Texas to send some postcards to this weekend! But I guess I didn't come across any articles I found particularly edifying this week.

Luckily, I have some other interesting things for you to read:

Don't drive your car at people. Seems like an obvious rule, but read the post and you'll probably realize you see people drive their cars at people every day.

New Zealand avocado crime stories are a favorite genre of mine.

You might want to read this post about an attempted scam if you have a gmail account- and especially if you also have a Netflix account (although the general form of the scam could work on many services). Just this week, I got an email from Indeed.com telling me to click here to activate my account. But I hadn't tried to create an Indeed.com account, and when I looked, the email address used was missing one of the dots that is in the form of my gmail address that I use. This was probably someone making an innocent mistake...but having read this post, I found myself trying to come up with why someone would want to scam me into creating an Indeed account that they would then control.

This story about a plastic-degrading enzyme isolated from bacteria found in a Japanese dump is encouraging.

I'm glad to learn that my growing annoyance with the noise level in restaurants isn't just me getting old.

In recommended listening, I have two episodes of Ezra Klein's podcast to recommend this week:

First, his interview with historian Carol Anderson about white rage and the politics of race in America is excellent. If you listen, listen all the way to the end, when Anderson describes the vision of the future I'm fighting for (that point starts at about 4.5 minutes before the end). I wish I could find a transcript for you, but it ends with: "If what we do is we move forward... Then we can get there. We can get there to what I think is something that has not been seen before, which is how do you create a vibrant, multi-racial democracy that truly works... If we fall back into our traditional patterns, then buckle up we're in for a bumpy ride. It's going to be bad."

His next interview is with Johann Hari, and is title "Is modern society making us depressed?" and I found it a really interesting, thought-provoking discussion about ways in which the way our society is organized may be exacerbating depression and anxiety. Neither Klein nor Hari argues against anti-depressant medicines, but Hari, who has himself dealt with depression and anxiety, takes the view that they are not a complete answer to the problem.

I love this tweet:


And this poem:


Cold bunny!



Friday, April 13, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Yet Another Short Post Edition

Ugh. I'm still behind on things. I'm caught up enough that I can now tell that it will come out OK, but not caught up enough that I get to take the weekend off. Bah.

I wish I could tell you these links are late posting tonight because I went out for a rollerblade, but no, I was in my office, practicing for my upcoming seminar.

Then I thought I'd post the links while the kids played after dinner, but instead I scrolled through Twitter, pointlessly reading everyone's posts about the airstrikes in Syria. I don't know if airstrikes will help the situation in Syria or not, but I do know that I don't trust this administration to have made the decision to launch a strike based on any noble or even intelligent motives. So I have nothing much to say about the airstrikes, other than that I hope all the civilians in Syria stay safe tonight.

Also, we should let more refugees in. Our current policy on refugees fills me with shame.

Anyway, here are the links I'd gathered up to share this week. I don't have that many, perhaps because one side effect of being really busy trying to catch up on this is not a lot of time to read things:

The Republican Governor of Arizona has decided to give Arizona teachers a raise. I haven't been following closely enough to know if this move will avert a walkout or other action there. I can say that I've seen a lot of Facebook profile pictures of friends in AZ turn red in support of the teachers, and it seems like there was a lot of support for them.

Click through and read this story:




And this story:





In recommended listening: 

The episode of The Weeds about Sinclair media is a great primer on local TV regulation and history and if you're not sure why people find the Sinclair media stuff more disturbing than Fox News, this episode will explain it.

The latest episode of the Josh Marshall Podcast was a good discussion about why people are so unhappy with John Bolton becoming  National Security Advisor and a reminder of the ancient history of the George W. Bush administration.

This is so pretty:


True:


Bunny!


Have a good weekend, everyone.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Just the Links, Ma'am, Edition

I am going to keep the chit chat at the top of this post short. I could pretend that is because I am busy catching up on things, but the truth is that the weather is nice and I am finally not sick and I wanted to go for a rollerblade.

Anyway, here are some links, drawn from the last couple of weeks.

I've been thinking a lot about retirement savings lately. This is part of what I want to write about when I write my post about reading Being Mortal. I have never worked at a job that had a defined benefit pension, and so all of my retirement needs beyond what Social Security provides will need to be funded from my savings. I'm on track according to the various retirement calculators, but is that really sufficient for what I want? I'll save more musing for the post I want to write. For now, I'll just share this article from HBR about how few Americans are saving enough for retirement, what that might mean, and what we might do about it.

Dishwashing is apparently the chore that causes the most resentment for women if it is not shared. Suddenly, our strict every other day rotation for washing dishes is seeming brilliant... (Also, soon, very soon, children will join the rotation!)

This Vox story about teachers working second and third jobs to make ends meet is sad. I don't want my kids' teachers exhausted due to a second job. I'd rather pay higher taxes and pay them a living wage.

Staying on the teachers strikes: Here is some analysis from Talking Points Memo about what the political implications of those strikes might be.

TPM also had a thoughtful examination of the larger issues related to the shooting at YouTube headquarters this week.

Staying on issues in tech: Will Oremus had a good piece in Slate about the problem with Silicon Valley's rapid growth approach to business.

This Ryan Cooper piece about the conservative reaction to the Parkland teens is a couple of weeks old now, but it rang true to me.

Molly Ringwald's piece reflecting on John Hughes' films is more recent, and it is all over my timeline because it is really thoughtful and interesting.

This may be the only time I share a National Review article... David French on police shootings is really worth your time. It is my pick for the "if you only have time to read one link" read this week.

Huh.





Bunny!




Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 05, 2018

I'm Still Here

You maybe guessed from the lack of weekend reading links last week that I was over in Arizona for my grandmother's memorial. Or maybe you didn't notice my absence at all!

But if you did notice and were wondering where I was... now you know.

We drove back to San Diego on Sunday, and I haven't really regained my footing. I had originally planned for a spring break in which the kids were over with my parents and I had extra time in the evening to catch up on some projects. That did not happen, for obvious reasons, but the projects were still here, with deadlines approaching.

I managed to get past the first deadline: I'd said Here's the Deal would go on pre-order yesterday, and it did. (I'll be sending out the advance review copies soon: if you're interested, there's still time to get a copy.)

My next deadline is a seminar I agreed to do last year, before I knew I'd be going back to full time employment. It is a slightly different take on a couple of topics I've done seminars on in the past: strategic planning and project management. So I need to pull up the slides and hands-on activities I have, see what I can reuse, and write new slides and activities as needed. I still have time to get it done, but wish I were a little further into the process. I'm feeling a little stressed by it, but not yet panicked. If I haven't made progress by next week, though, I'll be panicked!

And there are other things, too- like some book marketing research I paid to get done that I would now like to act on.

I also have lots of things swirling around in my head that I'd like to write about. I finally read Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, and I'd like to write about my thoughts. (I recommend the book highly.) I'd still like to write about why I don't try to take shortcuts to some goals. I have a post about staying focused when a shiny new idea comes along, which I'd like to write for my professional site. And I suspect if I got my writing notebook out, I'd find more ideas that I've jotted down and not had time to come back to.

But this week, I've been spending most of my evenings planning a Harry Potter birthday party for Pumpkin, who is now 11. She is so big! More than that, she's so not a little kid anymore. I don't know how many more times she'll be this enthusiastically into planning a party, and so I'm trying to join in the enthusiasm. We bought a skirt, cardigan, and tie to allow her to dress up as a Hogwarts student (she's Ravenclaw). We've pasted labels that say "Floo Powder" on packets of Fun Dip. We've ordered quidditch broom pens for the goody cauldrons. We've found or made items to represent all the horcruxes for a horcrux hunt. We still need to draw Voldemort for the "pin the nose on Voldemort" game she wants to have.

It is all delightful, but a bit overwhelming sometimes. I thought I'd carved out some time last night to write a real post, but then the allergy-induced cough Pumpkin got in AZ flared up here, too. It always takes awhile for the irritation to calm down when she gets a cough like this. And of course, she won't take anything useful. No medicated cough drops or numbing throat spray. But she couldn't sleep, and so last night, instead of writing a blog post, I made her a hot water with sugar and sat with her while she drank it, and then sat in her room reading on my phone while she settled back in to sleep.

Tonight, I'm too frazzled feeling to write anything real, but I wanted to write something... and so you get this rambling post.

Here, have a nerdy joke to make up for it:




I hope to be really back sometime soon. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Short on Time Edition

I've got a lot to get done this evening, so I'll keep the intro to the links short. Thank you all for the kind words about my Grandma.

In self-promo links: Annorlunda Books is open for submissions right now. Spread the word!

In other links:

My pick for the one link to read if you read only one link this week is unfortunately only available to TPM Prime subscribers. But, I'll link to Josh Marshall's take that the crisis is upon us, anyway, and pull out this one quote:

"The future of the country now rests on the results of the 2018 midterms. That sounds dramatic and hyperbolic. But look at the forces moving into alignment. It’s not. It’s an apt description of what is before us."

I'll also put up this thread, which I found interesting and also a little disturbing:




It does feel like we're at an inflection point for our country. I hope we do well, but I am very worried about it. 

One of the reasons I'm worried is that it seems like the forces that oppose democracy are getting more open about what they're doing.

For instance, Scott Walker (the governor of Wisconsin) lost a court case and was told he needs to hold the special elections he has been avoiding, ostensibly because of cost, but actually because Republicans have been losing them. And so now, the Wisconsin Republicans are trying to change the law. Here's a summary of the events.

And of course, there are the scattered incidents of actual voter fraud, which have mostly turned out to be nothing at all like what Kris Kobach says voter fraud looks like in this country.

Joshua Keating argues that the return of John Bolton and the nomination of Gina Haspel are consequences of our failure to really confront the failures of the George W. Bush years. I think that a lot of our current problems probably trace back to our country's failure to really confront and try to heal from the bad things we've done... going all the way back to slavery and our treatment of Native Americans. But that's more to discuss than I have time for today.

I won't try to link to all the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica reports. You've probably seen them, anyway. But Matt Yglesias' take arguing that Facebook is just bad is maybe something you didn't see. You can also check out John Aravosis' look at the data Facebook had on him

I don't use Facebook heavily, and when I do, it is almost exclusively for posting or viewing photos of children (or pets) and vacations. I like it as a nice way to keep up with friends all over the world. I dislike it for a lot of reasons, and have tried to tune my feed to exclude what I dislike the most, which is links to political news.



In non-political links:


The JUMPSUIT project is really interesting. 

(Also, a reminder: if you like those sorts of link, I share one every weekday on my Annorlunda Books facebook page and Twitter account.)

This is a sort of technical blog post about a gene sequencing error, but it is an interesting story. Also, I never knew that rapamycin was named after Rapa Nui (Easter Island).


I quite like Kacey Musgraves' new song and may get her new album:


This brought back so many memories of my college days in Chicago:


Funny:



Bunnies!


That's all for this week. Have a good weekend everyone!

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Jumble That Is In My Head Tonight

This is a post about the jumble of life. I was going to try to say something more profound, but really it is just me writing the jumble that is in my head right now. It is a strange mix but I think it will help to write it.

My grandmother died this weekend. She was 94, and lived a full and good life. But if you'd asked me a month ago, I would have said I expected her to be around for another few years yet. She had lost some of her sharpness, but she was still very much herself, just sometimes a little confused. Then, a couple of weeks ago she experienced a sudden and steep decline. I do not think she would have wanted to linger long after that decline. But we miss her.

I am so glad the family was able to all gather for my grandparents' 75th wedding anniversary celebration last summer. Gathering in Phoenix in June seemed like a really strange thing to do, but I think we will all treasure the memory of that day.

My sister was able to make it over to see Grandma one last time. I was not. I could have made it happen, but my parents told me she would not really know I was there, and I decided to instead focus on getting things ready here, so that when I go home for the memorial I won't be worrying about a bunch of other things. It is summer camp registration season here, and this year both kids asked to change things up a bit, which made this registration season much harder than previous ones.

Pumpkin is tired of the Y camps she's been doing since she was six, and wanted to find some other options. I spent a huge amount of time researching options, and managed to book her into new camps for three of the weeks. One week, she'll do an "aerial arts" camp with her best friend, and getting that scheduling sorted took a somewhat epic email thread. For the other two weeks, she will be doing a "STEAM academy" that had a bunch of interesting workshop options. She got to pick two per week, and I think she picked really great ones. If she likes this camp, we'll probably try to arrange our summer schedule next year to let her do more of it. (This year, two of the weeks it was offered fell on weeks we were doing vacation things.)

Petunia is still interested in a lot of the Y camps, but really wants a friend with her, particularly for the ones she thinks will have a lot of kids. So we met up with her best friend's family this weekend to coordinate schedules. She also has one non-Y camp that she'll be doing with her best friend.

So anyway, I decided to get the registrations done so that I wasn't still in the midst of email threads about whether we should do ice skating camp in week 3 or week 6 while I'm home for Grandma's memorial. I want to be able to ignore my email.

(Also, the kids and I had to go shopping this weekend because when I looked in Petunia's closet I didn't see a single thing that seemed appropriate for a memorial service. I was starting to think we'd have to improvise something, though, because since it is Easter season all the dresses are pastel and flouncy and not really much of an improvement on her Minnie Mouse skirt or dinosaur shirt in terms of appropriateness. But The Gap came through with a navy blue dress with understated pastel stripes and a matching navy cardigan. Phew.)

Of course I won't really be able to ignore my email for an entire week. For one thing, Pumpkin's 11th birthday party is soon, and I'll be getting the RSVPs for that. But I won't have to be super responsive to my email. I have the cake booked and Mr. Snarky is taking care of booking the jumpy. I just need to go off now and see if I can find some wands we can buy and thereby spare me the "make your own wands" instructions Pumpkin found on Pinterest....

The Harry Potter themed party is coming along well. Pumpkin came up with really great invitations, and has some good ideas for activities and treats. I'm going to hand over ordering Pumpkin's actual gift to Mr. Snarky and so I just need to get any party favors that need to be ordered sorted this week. That should be doable.

And that's the jumble that is in my head. A bunch of to do list items, overlaid with a sadness because my Grandma is gone, tinged relief that she did not linger in a state she would not have wanted. Thanks for letting me ramble. I think this has helped clear some space, so that I can let more memories of Grandma come in. Which is good, because I've said I'll say a few words at the memorial, and I want to make sure I remember all the best bits of the years I got to share with her.

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