Friday, March 16, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Themeless Edition

I have no theme for this week. I'm slowly getting back to normal, just in time for the crunch time of figuring out summer camps (this gets harder as the kids get older! They start wanting me to coordinate with their friends' schedules and are less happy with our default Y camp options). Also, my 10 year old will turn 11 soon, and after some angst settled on a Harry Potter themed party at home. This is funny to me because this is the child who steadfastly refused to read the Harry Potter books for years. One of her friends convinced her to try them this year, and she sped through them in less than two weeks and is now super excited about planning her party. She has lots of ideas. I am trying to be encouraging but also insisting that we focus first on getting the invitations out. I am sure I'll rally and get into the planning with her soon.... I'll try to get some good pictures of whatever she comes up with and will write a post about it later.

So anyway, let's get to the links:

In Annorlunda Books news, I'm ready to start gathering advance readers for Here's the Deal, Micah Edwards' humorous retelling of the Book of Exodus. If you're interested, sign up here.

David Roberts had a twitter thread about the problem with the NY Times op-ed page that got shared a lot, and he turned it into a column. It is worth reading, and I can't argue with his contention that the ascendant group on the right are more about tribalism than ideas.

The one problem I have with it is that it doesn't really reflect my friends who would consider themselves conservative but are not in the Trump tribe. To be fair, he's talking about columnists and "thought leaders" and not average people, but I think there are still a bunch of good people who are conservatives out there, who are just as lost about how to respond to the Trumpism crap as the rest of us are. I mean, none of us really knows what to do- that's why there's so much arguing about what sort of candidate Democrats should run, etc. I don't think the "Never Trump" conservative columnists are really doing a great job of representing these people's views, and I agree that right now, as a political force, they're not particularly powerful. But they are real, and I think there is value in continuing to hear their views.

I don't want us to get so riled up by the horrible things Trump et al are doing and the poor behavior of  most elected Republicans in this crisis that we forget that there are and always will be good people who disagree with us on some of the issues, because I think the eventual way out of this disaster involves us all learning how to disagree without hating each other again.

This Matt Yglesias analysis of the Conor Lamb victory seems right  to me. But maybe I just hope it is right? I don't know anymore.

And here is an article from Laura Putnam about what she saw on the ground in PA-18.

Here is your regular reminder that we already ration health care and we already have bureaucrats not doctors deciding what health care options we can have.

Here's a less high-stakes example from my own life. I have asthma. I am having a hard time with getting a long term lingering cough after I get a cold or other respiratory infection. The last time I saw my doctor, we decided to restart Singulair and also perhaps to switch up my maintenance inhaler. We decided that I'd see how the Singulair did, and then email if I wanted to proceed to trying a new inhaler. Today I decided to go ahead and try a new inhaler, so I sent her an email, and got the following back (paraphrased because I'm too lazy to log in to my patient account to get the exact words):

"I sent in a prescription for symbicort. If your insurance won't pay for that, ask to find out what medicine similar to symbicort or advair they will cover."

In this case, there are several similar options and no obvious "best one" so we'll start with whatever insurance will cover. But if that one doesn't work well, then we have to essentially negotiate with the insurance folks to get to try different things. I've been through this with nasal inhalers (sorry, insurance co, I don't want to deal with persistent nose bleeds because one brand is cheaper for you than another). Instead of just stepping through options with my doctor, I see my doctor, she picks an option, if my insurance doesn't like it, I (or my doctor's office) call and argue why this option and not their favorite one... It takes time and has nothing to do with what is best for me as a patient. I eventually gave up on the nasal inhalers, and my allergies were worse than they had to be for many years until the non-steroid one went off patent and our pediatrician prescribed it to our kid and I started wondering if it would help me. It does. Azelastine is a godsend. I never tried it during its time on patent because the steroid ones were so much cheaper and the insurance companies kept steering me to those.

I'm not saying it is bad to consider cost vs. benefit in health care decisions. I'm just saying that we already do and I don't understand why so many people are OK with those decisions being made by for-profit companies but freak out at the idea of a government agency getting involved. At least I can try to change the government agency's policies via political means! The for-profit company doesn't even see me as its customer... because I'm not. My employer is.

Moving on....

I really like Nicole Cliffe's answer to the question from the parent of an "average" kid. I hate the obsessions with finding your one true passion/identifying your special talent, particularly as applied to kids. I don't think this message was as strong when I was a kid, but it clearly crept in, because I spent years feeling bad about having a lot of different interests and not being a superstar at anything. It is OK to not be a superstar! It is OK to not make a mark on the world that everyone sees. Our average little lives are beautiful and worthy.

Also, as I said on Twitter, sometimes the most useful talent you have is something that won't be apparent until you're well past high school:

I did not know about this:

I'd like to learn more about this effort in particular, and efforts like it in general. I keep hearing little snippets about what folks in Tijuana are doing to deal with the problems our changing immigration policy creates for them, but I haven't seen anything comprehensive. If you have, drop it in the comments.

I can't really call today's xkcd funny, but you should go check it out anyway.

This, however, is funny:


Giant fluff ball bunny!

Happy weekend everyone!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Getting Back on Track

"Cold" seems a far too bland word for whatever it was I am getting over, but I don't know what else to call it. It was some sort of upper respiratory virus (not the flu!) and it absolutely flattened me. It knocked me off track in several ways. My exercise routine is gone. I am not sure when I'll be able to pick it back up. I can't really work out until I can go for a walk without dissolving into a coughing fit. I will try to start easing back in this week, by picking up my lunch time walks again.

I had just been finding my footing at work, and that feels lost now. I expect I'll get that sorted out pretty quickly, assuming I can actually go into the office like usual this week.

Probably worse of all is that my ratio of news consumed to actions taken is waaaaay off. I have found that the best way to fend off despair in this current political moment is for me to not spend too much time scrolling through Twitter reading stories (as interesting as some of stories are) and absorbing everyone's angst and anger (as righteous as some of that anger is). Rather, I like to dip in and out of Twitter, and not stay there too long. I have some key sites I check to keep up on not just the news but useful analysis of the news (Talking Points Memo being a big one of those, but also The Washington Post, Vox, and a couple of the columns at Slate, and I check in on the LA Times when my daily local news check turns up a big California story). I also have a Twitter list of journalists that I check in on in the evening. With all that, I feel like I am informed without being completely immersed in the terrible things going on. However, when I was flattened on the sofa, it was far too easy to just scroll and scroll. I tried to read my book and couldn't focus. I tried to watch something on TV and couldn't settle. So I ended up scrolling.

The other piece of my plan for fending off despair is to take action. That is a really important part for me. I need to do something concrete every week to feel like I am fighting back against the rising ill tide. I am not a big activist. I am not making a big impact. I just hope that my little bit adds in with other people's little bits and helps move us back away from the abyss. I have decided that the most useful thing I can do is try to influence the midterm elections. I still feel like these will be the most important elections of my lifetime. So every week, I usually write some postcards, and I might also send a small amount of money to a candidate I think will make good use of it. For the last two weeks, I've been too sick to do that. This week, I need to pick that back up, for the sake of my own sanity. Luckily, that is something I can do even with a lingering cough!

Friday, March 09, 2018

Weekend Reading: The I Wasn't Actually Getting Better Edition

When I wrote last week's post, I thought I was almost over my cold. And I continued to think that on Saturday. On Sunday, though, it became clear I was actually in the equivalent of the eye of the storm. I have been dealing with a really bad cough for this entire week. I've managed to work most days, but have had to work at home quite a bit, because the cough is really, really bad, and I would hate to make my colleagues listen to it all day. 

I didn't manage to do much other than work, though. My kids were in a play on Wednesday, put on as part of their after school program. They were so excited about it! And they did a great job. I went to see the play, and only had to leave to cough uncontrollably once. 

I also started the delightful task of scheduling our summer camps. I haven't actually scheduled anything yet, but I've made the grid I use to track all the options and have started talking to the kids about what's on offer. As usual, there are quite a few camp offerings I wish I could take, but that my kids are unenthused about. But I think we'll get a decent schedule together!

The other big event of the week was that Tattoo, by Michelle Rene, came out on Wednesday. This is a really neat book and it is getting great reviews - it got a starred review at Publisher's Weekly and a five heart review will be in the next issue of Foreword Reviews. The Fill Your Bookshelf review came out this week, too, and is also quite good. You can also see what other earlier readers are saying at GoodReads.

If you're convinced, go grab yourself a copy: 
It is available on Overdrive, too, if you want to ask your librarian to get a copy of the ebook. It will eventually show up on Scribd, too.

In other Annorlunda Books news... every year, I donate a small percentage of my book sales to a classroom looking for books. This was last year's pick... and the project is in danger of not being funded. If you have anything to spare to help buy some books for some kids who need them, would you please chip in? If we can get it to within $200 of the target, I'll fund the rest from my personal (not business) funds. If it doesn't fund, we get to pick other projects to put our money toward, but it would mean a lot to me to see this one funded. It is a dual immersion program, and I know how expensive it is to buy Spanish books here. 

On to the links:

If you read only one link today, make it Alison Spodek Keimowitz' beautiful piece about what having leukemia taught her about facing climate change... and then let's all commit to do what we can to push back the collapse.

A close runner up for the "read this if nothing else" spot this week: A philosopher's explanation of why the way we think about drug addiction is wrong.

This LA Times piece about the changes that came to Jacumba with Operation Gatekeeper is a good reminder of the fact that there are trade offs that come from making the border harder to cross. 

Here's another immigration-related piece, about what happened after a big immigration raid in one Texas town.

The success of the West Virginia teachers' strike is spurring some teachers in other red states at the bottom of the teacher pay list to consider striking, too. I know teachers in Arizona are starting to organize. I grew up there, and I've friended a lot of my former classmates on Facebook. I'm seeing a lot of avatars turn red in a sign of support for the teachers.

This Scientific American article summarizing some recent modeling about the role of luck in success is really interesting. I like the definition of talent as being the ability to take advantage of lucky opportunities. 

Anastasia Basil argues against letting your kids have social media, and has an interesting idea for how to get them to buy into that. (h/t @CaleeL)

And for a different view on kids and technology... The On Being interview with danah boyd was really, really interesting.

We're coming up on this discussion with our older daughter, who turns 11 soon, and so I'm reading and listening to these things with more interest lately. So far, she has email and a smartphone (which she uses primarily to text us when she gets to school and to text with my Mom and my sister about a license plate spotting game they all play), and she has a Pinterest account, because she likes finding pictures of birds and fairy houses. She also finds craft projects to do, and I am starting to think that this is the perfect introduction to the difference between the best effort people post online and reality. 

A couple of her attempts to replicate the crafts she has found on Pinterest haven't turned out as great as they looked in the picture, which gave us a chance to talk about how we don't know how many attempts it took to get the result shown in the picture, and about photo editing, and a bunch of other things that I want her to know about as she heads into the age when she starts comparing herself and not just her art projects to the things she sees online. So on the whole, I guess I'm glad I let her have Pinterest.

In other podcast listening this week... Josh Marshall has a new podcast, and Episode 3 is an excellent summary of what we know about the Russia investigation.

Kate Wagner argues that you probably don't need to renovate your home. I sort of agree and sort of don't. Our renovation added a lot of additional living space, which has really improved our enjoyment of living in this home. Sure, we could have just moved to a bigger house, but that move would have had downsides, too, even if we'd been able to find a bigger house with the right configuration of space in our current neighborhood... and been able to afford to buy it (a lot of the bigger houses in our neighborhood have gone WAY bigger, and built up to capture a view, which would price them out of our reach). For one thing, if we moved, we probably wouldn't have a 50 year old avocado tree that produces hundreds of avocados every year.... More seriously, we love our location and didn't want to move, but needed more space. Now we have it. Other renovations we're considering: doing up our backyard a bit, to get more enjoyment out of it; updating our kitchen to better fit our style of entertaining while cooking (and to get more storage space); upgrading a bathroom so I can have a proper soak tub (not likely to happen, but I can dream). In short, we'll do renovations that increase our enjoyment of our house and our life in it. 

I really like this:

I'm already seeing this kid's picture pop up in memes, but I think the original context is the best:



Happy weekend, everyone. May I stop coughing soon.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Knocked Off My Game by a Virus Edition

I had such great plans for this week... and everything was going well until Wednesday afternoon, when I started feeling not so well. I was completely wiped out Thursday, spiked a high fever Thursday evening that spooked me and sent me to urgent care. I don't have the flu and my chest x-ray looked clear, so I guess it is just some virus that knocked me out.

I am better today, but not great. I am hoping I am all the way better tomorrow, because tomorrow evening, we're hosting a birthday party for my sister. If I'm not better, my excellent husband will step up and pull off our part of the party mostly on his own, but I'd rather that not happen.

I have spent the majority of the past two days crashed out on my sofa, reading things, so you'd think I'd have great links this week. I'm not sure I do... I wasn't reading at my most engaged level. But here's what I have:

First in self-promo: I did finally post the giveaway for the Tattoo pre-orders. And then I promptly got sick, so I haven't promoted it as much as I intended to. Which means your chances of winning the tote bag are pretty high!

In friend-promo: go read this beautiful story: Traces of Us, by Vanessa Fogg.

And this bittersweet, very short story: Buttons of Flesh and a Beautiful Fish, by Maura Yzmore.

Let's start with something other than the dumpster fire in the White House: the behavior of CEOs!

First, here's a summary of a study that found that CEOs cut investment (thereby boosting stock price) when their shares are about to vest.

And here's an observation from a TPM reader about the effect of the share buybacks (which is how a lot of companies are using their windfall from the recent tax cuts) on CEO pay. (Spoiler: Buybacks tend to boost CEO take home pay, because they boost share price.)

Dahlia Lithwick on the high quality public education that produced the articulate teen activists who have been in the news since the Parkland shooting. Imagine what our future might be like if we could give all public school kids the same high quality education. But too often, extracurriculars like theater and debate are no longer funded, so they only exist in schools with wealthy PTAs that can make up the difference.

Another interesting analysis prompted by the shooting and the resulting discussion: A look at how NRA money really influences politics - it isn't really by direct contributions to candidates.

And here's a look at the NRA lobbyist who has been very influential in loosening Florida's gun laws.

Staying on gun regulations for a minute... Matt Pearce had an inspiring thread on Twitter about the huge turnout at Moms Demand Action meetings in some red states:

I know that a lot of people felt like nothing changed after the Sandy Hook shooting, and that lack of movement after such a heartbreaking event meant America would never fix its gun laws. But something DID change. Moms Demand Action formed, and they have been steadily working to change American laws and culture with respect to guns. When they were unable to make progress at the national level, they turned their attention to state laws, and also started working on pushing companies to stand up to gun enthusiasts who were pushing more open carrying to "normalize" seeing guns in public in America. 

So, when Parkland happened and the teenage survivors started speaking up and moving people to act, those people had somewhere to go, somewhere that was already organized and with a plan of action. There was a place to send all that energy to try to break the deadlock. Will it succeed this time? I don't know. I think it will take a change in Congress, but that this might be one of the issues that makes that change happen. But even if there is still no national action, Moms Demand and other like-minded groups will keep pushing forward, making change happen.

Here's a look at the history of the gun used in a recent shooting in Chicago that I think is a good example of why we should have a background check and paperwork required every time a gun is sold.

OK, enough about guns.

Did you read Monica Lewinsky's piece in Vanity Fair? If not, check it out. 

This interview with Tom Scocca is worth your time for the last few questions when he talks about what good op-ed writing can do.

Amy Butcher's essay about the impact of the Trump years on relationships is searing. I have a lot of thoughts around this, but nothing well-formed enough to write down, so add this to the list of things that I might write more about someday.

Jamil Smith wrote a good op-ed about the reckoning Never Trump conservatives need to do. What I'd love to see: a thoughtful, non-trolly analysis of how Democrats can better protect themselves from suffering a similar fate. Most of what I've read along those lines so far has just been pointless rehashing of the 2016 primary given a thin veneer of forward-looking analysis. 

Here's an interesting write-up of how the Colorado Republican party handled a bad candidate that is an example of how things might have gone differently in 2016, and spared us all the mess we're in right now.

Did you see the Hamilton Polka? It is fun:

As is this reaction video:

This cracked me up:

And here's our closing bunny!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Some Depressing Things and a Yummy Looking Recipe Edition

I'm back! Sorry for the lack of links last week. We were Disney-ing until bedtime.

I don't want to dwell on the events in Florida or gun control. I find that I am better able to keep working to improve the situation with respect to guns in this country if I don't let myself focus too much on any one event.

Still, I am encouraged to see this op-ed from a Republican member of Congress, but I wonder if this position, which would have been a welcome response after the Sandy Hook shooting, is now not enough? I tweeted that I don't think gun enthusiasts really understand how angry a lot of non-gun owners are right now. I am seeing more and more calls for mandatory buy back programs for assault rifles. I am seeing less and less concern about whether or not we can really accurately define an "assault rifle" or whatnot. Basically, I wonder if we have hit a breaking point. Certainly, the energy and tone of discussion is quite different than what I saw after the Sandy Hook shooting. If I had to guess, I'd guess that a lot of non-gun owners (and actually also gun owners who aren't full on enthusiasts) have come to the conclusion that there is no change small enough to get the enthusiasts and the NRA on board, so they gearing up to just try to out vote them.

But who knows what will happen. I'll keep working to change our Congress, for this and many other reasons.

If you are still on the fence about whether AR-15s should be allowed in civilian hands, maybe read this article from a radiologist who was at the hospital that received victims last week, on the difference between a "regular" gunshot wound and one from an AR-15.
I won't even dignify the idea of arming teachers (which the NRA has been pushing since Sandy Hook, if not before) with a response. All I'll say is that is one of the lines that I won't cross. If my kids' district starts letting teachers bring guns to school, I'm moving to New Zealand.

Moving on....

If you're trying to figure out why the Manafort and Gates news is such a big deal, Josh Marshall does a nice job explaining. That link is for Prime subscribers only, but Tom Nichols' tweet thread also lays it out (click through for the whole thread):

Moving on again....

This article about the middle aged women in the suburbs of America "rebooting" democracy is one of  the more encouraging things I've read lately. I'm not really in the demographic it describes: I'm definitely middle aged, but not really suburban, and I'm lumped in with the "coastal elites" instead of "middle America." But it still resonated with me, and I'm cheering for the "retired librarians" it mentions. I'll be here in my coastal elite enclave, writing postcards to support them!

I found Sean Illing's article about taking ayahuasca fascinating. I have zero desire to try this experience. For one thing, I hate vomiting. But more fundamentally, I don't think I would want a "shortcut" to the sort of insight he was seeking. Maybe I don't think that such a shortcut would really work for me? I don't know. I may write more about this at some point.

I noticed this recipe because Roxane Gay tweeted she made it, and oh my goodness it looks delicious.

In important bunny news: They've been domesticated for quite awhile.

In podcasts this week: I found Ezra Klein's conversation with Tristan Harris really interesting. They were talking about the addictive nature of services like Facebook, how technology brings out the worst in us sometimes, and related topics. I'd like to write more about this at some point, too.

I love this artwork:

And here's your bunny for the week:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Let's Ignore the News and Talk about Disneyland

I am a bit overwhelmed with all the news right now, and so I'm going to ignore it and talk about going to Disneyland.

The promised Disneyland trip happened last weekend. That is why there were no weekend links: I was too busy wringing every last second of fun out of our two day park hopper passes.

I’m exaggerating, of course: we left a lot of fun behind. There’s only so much Disney a person can take. Still, we did have two full days in the parks, and I feel like we got our money’s worth. Or, at least that we got our money’s worth once you factor in the Disney premium. So if you ignore the egregiously high room rate for a pretty standard hotel room (but it came with Magic Hour!) and the fact that a single serving bottle of Diet Coke (needed to restore equilibrium after I braved a roller coaster) was $4… we got our money’s worth. And I’m not even joking: Disney does a really good job of delivering the fun, particularly if you’re willing to shell out for the premium experience of Magic Hour and pay the extra $10/ticket/day to get MaxPASS on the phone app,

After we got home, we talked about what our favorite part of the two days was. Petunia loved the roller coasters. She didn’t brave the really big ones — the biggest we did was Thunder Mountain (which necessitated that Diet Coke for me), but she went on the little one in Toontown over and over, and she liked Goofy’s Sky School a lot, too. We did the Radiator Springs Racers as the first thing on our first day, and she looooved it. Thanks to the magic of FastPASSes, she and Mr. Snarky rode that ride two more times. She also really liked the Grizzly River Run water ride. She enjoyed the tamer aspects of the visit, too — her top priority was visiting Minnie and Mickey’s houses in Toontown again, and I have the best photo of the look on her face right before she met Minnie. She knows Minnie isn’t real… but still the magic lingers.

And that was the best part of the weekend for me. I wanted to take Petunia back to the park before she aged out of the magic, and I got my wish.

This is the third time we’ve taken the kids to Disneyland, and I’m not sure if there will be another. We made the first trip to celebrate Pumpkin’s 6th birthday, mostly because the idea of figuring out what to do about the kindergarten birthday party stressed me out. Then we did the same for Petunia’s 6th birthday, because that was only fair (and figuring out the kindergarten birthday party didn’t sound any more appealing the second time around). Somehow, the kids decided that this meant that they got a trip to Disneyland on birthdays that are multiples of 6, and we thought “hey, that’s not a bad way to deal with our proximity to Disneyland, so why not?” But I started to suspect that Pumpkin won’t really want a trip to Disneyland to celebrate turning 12. She’s aged out of the magic, and doesn’t like roller coasters or “scary rides” and so Disneyland’s not really the place for her.

I was right about that: she didn’t have nearly as much fun on this trip as Petunia did. Her favorite part of Disneyland was the canoe ride (in which you actually paddle the canoe). She found a lot of things too noisy and I think overwhelming. She’s more a National Parks girl than a theme parks girl. I think that we’ll let her pick a different way to celebrate turning 12. I’d still like to make it a special trip somewhere (I rather like the idea of having a special trip for your 6th, 12th, and 18th birthdays… with the 18th birthday trip marking the end of the childhood vacations) but she can pick a different destination. And if she decides she just wants to stay home and celebrate with friends, I’ll let go of my idea about the special trips and do that.

As for the grown ups: Mr. Snarky’s favorite part was finally getting to do the Radiator Springs Racers ride. He loves the attention to detail at Disneyland, and that ride really showcases that aspect. My favorite part was how much Petunia loved this trip, but when forced to pick an actual thing we did, I settled on the Animator's Academy. That is where you sit in an auditorium and a Disney animator teaches you how to sketch one of the characters. We did it twice, sketching Goofy one time and Olaf the other. Olaf is a lot harder, and Petunia was pretty bummed with how poorly her Olaf came out. But our Goofy drawings weren't too bad. Here's mine:

Not great, but pretty amazing given how poor my drawing skills are!

All in all, it was a good trip. The crowds were not bad, even on Saturday (we were there Friday and Saturday — San Diego Unified gives a 4 day weekend for President's Day) and even though our feet were still tired on Sunday, it was worth it.

I would have liked another day "off" — not necessarily in Disneyland, but off from my chores and the things that need to happen around the house, and off from following along with the news. But that wasn't how we planned this trip, so we drove home on Saturday night, and I got up Sunday and picked up my usual chores, then went to work on Monday. And of course, the news continues to be distressing. But the brief respite in Fantasyland was nice.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Weekend Reading: Missing a Routine Edition

I'm still settling in at the new job. I've got some real projects now, but can't really see what the rhythm of my work days will be like, and I am still experimenting with which days work best for going to the gym, and what time I'll need to leave to get a workout in and still get to the kids' school in time for pick up. In fact, given the work from home flexibility at this new job, I'm still trying to figure out which day or days I'll use that flexibility. It feels like everything is up in the air!

I wrote about this a bit in this month's Founding Chaos newsletter. Basically, I miss having a routine. I don't mind that there will be occasional deviations from the routine, but having a routine makes it easier for me to get my workouts in, and makes it easier for me to know when I can have chill out time and when I want to be working on one of my projects.

Oh well. I'll settle into a routine eventually.

On to the links.

Benjamin Witte and Jonathan Rauch writing in the Atlantic about the case for boycotting the Republican party was pretty jaw-dropping.

Neither Witte nor Rauch are partisan Democrats. Brian Beutler (who definitely writes from a liberal view point) makes the case that election defeats may not be enough to right the Republican ship.

The problem isn't just Trump, or the Congressional response to him. A lot of people have written about the anti-democratic behavior of some of the state Republican parties. I think Jamelle Bouie's piece covers the main offenders well.

GumRoad founder Sahil Lavingia moved from San Francisco to Provo, Utah. His post about moving from one bubble to another is really good, I think. As a life-long Democrat who grew up among Republicans, I've long thought that the two "sides" don't really see each other accurately.  I've always tried to view the other political side with empathy, and try to see the good motives they are pursuing, even if I disagree with their policy positions. I am struggling to maintain that right now, and I don't know what to do about it, to be honest. I feel like a lot of Trump supporters just don't view me as fully American, and I'm not even sure they actually see me as fully human some days. I don't like feeling this way, but I have to be honest about how I feel. If we get through this period in our politics with our democracy intact, we'll have a lot of healing to do. I don't know how we'll get to the point of being able to do it, though.

In other depressing topics:

Dahlia Lithwick on the Rob Porter case is fire-breathing truth.

And this thread from Rebecca Traister is way more eloquent than I could be, but I agree:

And Kirsten Gillibrand connects that disregard for women as people with the policy situation:

Jose Garcia was brought to America illegally when he was 10. We recently deported him to Mexico. A reporter went to visit him and see how he is adjusting.

If you've heard people going on about kratom and spinning conspiracy theories about why the FDA wants to regulate it, here's a good explanation of the science of the situation written by a drug discovery scientist.

This article about what Facebook has done to the online comedy ecosystem is really interesting.

This book looks really interesting.

In podcasts this week....

I listened to Tommy Vietor's interview with FBI special agent Ali Soufan and I really hate Dick Cheney again.... But aside from that, it is a really thoughtful discussion with someone who spent a large part of his life fighting terrorists about what it takes to actually succeed in that fight.

Krista Tippet's interview with Atul Gawande is just phenomenal. (Can you tell I'm really loving the On Being podcast? But really, this is an excellent interview about what matters in life, right up to the end.)

In tweets:

A good response:

Some truth about Star Wars:


Happy weekend, everyone.

Monday, February 05, 2018

A Miscellany

I miss writing blog posts, but I'm not feeling up to tackling anything "real" in a post. So I'll just ramble a bit.

Obviously, this is a bad flu season. But it has also been a bad cold season, at least in our house, and I am so ready for it to be over. Petunia did not spend ages coughing before falling asleep tonight, so that is perhaps a good sign. For the last few nights, it has taken her an extra hour to fall asleep because of all the coughing, and I've been woken up multiple times in the night. Fingers crossed that the lack of coughing now continues through the night!

I also still have a cough that is surprisingly bad at times, even though I never actually felt like I caught either of the colds she had recently. To be honest, I think I've been coughing since November. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and am hoping she can help me assess what's going on. My guess is "asthma, inflamed by a nasty cold, then allergies, then fighting off a string of viruses brought home by my darling children." At a minimum, I should get a new prescription for Singulair, which I find very helpful for getting my asthma to settle down after something like a cold has gotten it all riled up. I am at the point where I'd even take the dreaded prednisone if my doctor thinks that is what I need to do. (I hate hate hate prednisone.)

I am soooo close to getting the garage cleaned up so I can park my car in it again. I have one more load to take to Goodwill, which I will do tomorrow evening, since there is a Goodwill drop off center in the same shopping center as Petunia's art class. Then I just need to move some small items to the edges, and then wait until we can get the new bathroom shelves installed, and then I will be able to park in the garage and I will call the cleaning project done.

We have new bathroom shelves to install because Petunia pulled one of the old ones off the wall. I'd been wanting to replace it and not getting around to it... and then Petunia made it not an option to put it off any longer. We bought new shelves yesterday (along with a bunch of new towels!) and Mr. Snarky assembled them and started the process of patching the holes from the old shelves and repainting. He says that if all goes well, he'll put them up next weekend. And then I have to reorganize everything to move Petunia's things down lower so that she doesn't pull the new shelves off the wall, too.

Which means I think I am about to arrange it so that her toothbrush and toothpaste can go in a drawer, which I think is super weird, but oh well. I'll get over it.

I am also in the middle of planning our upcoming Disneyland trip. I've got an initial plan sketched out, and I just need to get time to talk to Mr. Snarky and the kids and decide which meals, if any, we want to make reservations for. This needs to happen ASAP, since some of the dining options are already all booked up. Ah, the joys of Disneyland... But my kids say they don't care to do a character dining experience this time, which means we'll be able to book something if we want it, I think. If I do it soon. Then they can take some more time to think about what attractions are their top priorities, and we can tweak our plan based on that.

The drive north on the day we go up to Disneyland is going to be a mess of traffic. I looked into taking the train instead, but the schedules don't really work unless we want to pull the kids out of school early, which I don't really like to do. So I guess we'll drive. Bah.

And that's what I'm up to, other than the work stuff, which I'm not quite ready to write about. Maybe next week....

How are you all doing?

Friday, February 02, 2018

Weekend Reading: Another Post-less Week Edition

I swear I'm going to write real posts again at some point. I've started the new new job, and getting settled into a new routine is keeping me busy. I'm not ready to write a lot about the new new job or the new routine struggles, but I think at least one post on the difficulty of finding a new routine is probably going to happen at some point.

Anyhow, let's get to some links.

In self-promo links:

  • Don't forget that Tattoo is available for pre-order. If you pre-order, save your receipt: we
  • re making some cool temporary tattoos to tie in to the book, and I'm thinking of running a little promo with them for people who pre-order. Details maybe as soon as next week!
  • If you've been on the fence about signing up for Inbox Stories... the February story will be The Lilies of Dawn, by Vanessa Fogg. That makes February a really good month to sign up!

In other links:

I found this Sean Illing interview with Stephen Mansfield about why conservative Christians decided to throw in with Trump very useful.

This Washington Post story about Asheboro, North Carolina, is really good. Really depressing, but really good.

The father of the new Lt. Governor of Virginia traced his family history and... just go read the story.

The story of Nigel the lonely gannet might make you a little teary-eyed.

In podcasts:

The Ezra Klein show interview with Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt about their book How Democracies Die is really good, and really sobering (and not really about Trump).

Klein had an earlier podcast interview with Krista Tippet, which led me to her podcast, On Being. In the interview with Klein, she said that her interview with Irish poet, theologian, and philosopher John O'Donohue was her most popular ever, so I decided to check it out and... wow. It is good.

Next, I listened to Tippet's interview with Rebecca Solnit, and it is outstanding, too. I think I'll be listening to more of her interviews!

A good opening for Black History Month:



Have a great weekend, everyone.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Delayed by Hamilton Edition

Last night, we went and saw Hamilton. It was "just" the touring group, and we had pretty crappy seats... but it was still really, really good. I'm glad I went. I realized at intermission that I would not be re-experiencing that initial jolt of "oh, I GET it, I see why this is such a huge phenomenon" that I got when I first listened to the soundtrack, but that was OK. It was still great to get to see the show.

I found that my appreciation of the characters of Jefferson and King George in particular was increased by seeing the show. Hamilton is a show that is very much about words, and you can get a lot of it from the soundtrack. But not all of it. So I'm glad I went. I'd say: go see it if you can. If you can't get the soundtrack and listen to it straight through, and you'll still get a feel for the energy of the show. I think the listening straight through part is important. I listened on a drive up to LA, and the drive was almost perfectly timed to the length of the show. I remember being just blown away by it as it ended, and being glad I hadn't set up my iPod to just play something else after it finished. I made the last little bit of my drive in silence, absorbing what I'd just heard.

Anyhow: Hamilton was good, but I was out past my bedtime and I am tired today! I am hoping for a short nap after lunch.

And here are the links I have for you this week:

First, a little promo: Annorlunda Books' next release, Tattoo, by Michelle Rene, is now available for pre-order. It got a starred review in Publisher's Weekly, and also a really nice review in Foreword (which is not out yet). Check it out!

Trump's administration (and I say "administration" here because let's be honest: it is pretty clear he isn't deeply involved in these policy details, this is coming from his advisors, not him) has finally released its immigration proposal, and if anyone wanted to argue this administration isn't just hostile to immigration- legal or not, I don't see how you still can. Josh Marshall had a good short discussion of why I say that.

(Aside: the "immigrants: we get the job done!" line got quite a cheer last night at Hamilton. Yes, it is a famous line. But San Diego is also a city with a lot of immigrants.)

I have mostly stayed out of the arguments about whether the Senate Democrats' decision to vote for a continuing resolution that allowed the government to re-open and funded CHIP but didn't resolve the status of DAC recipients was a good strategy or a bad one. But I strongly agree with this Matt Yglesias piece about the real reason the DREAMers are at risk. There is only so much the minority party can do in our current situation, and the Republican party has made it clear time and again they don't want to fix this problem. (Related: the Hastert Rule is BS, and if you have a Republican rep and agree with that statement, you might do some good by letting them know you think it is BS. We're at a juncture where I think moderate (or even pretty conservative but willing to compromise) Republicans can make a big difference if they speak up.)

If you're interested in a story visiting Clinton voters and asking them how they feel about their votes now... this one is pretty good.

If you haven't read Lili Loufbourow's essay about female pain as the price of male pleasure, read it now. It is the one link I'd say to read if you're only going to read one this week.

This is a really interesting story about a Black American novelist I'd never heard of.

Using fish skin to treat bears burned in the Thomas Fire.

Click through and read the story!


Happy weekend, everyone. I'm off to take a nap to try to recover from staying out past my bedtime....

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Thoughts on Missing the Women's March

I didn't go to the Women's March yesterday. Long before we knew a march would be happening, I had arranged to do a tour with my daughter's Lego team, which I coach. When I learned of the march, it was too late to reschedule the tour, so no march for me.

I was sorry I couldn't be there. It is easy to read the news coming from Washington and feel despair. When I read the news about immigration policy, in particular, I get that feeling I've described before, of alienation from my own country. It was particularly acute in the last couple of months, because we were waiting for my husband's new green card to arrive. It was months late, and while we had no reason to think the delay was connected to all of the conflict about immigration that has been in the air these days, it was hard not to connect the two things in my own mind. (I'm actually 99% certain the delay was just usual overworked bureaucracy stuff... but my irrational fears had other ideas.)

Friday, his green card finally came, which was a relief. But I couldn't help comparing the relief I felt about the resolution of an irrational worry to the ongoing and much more rational anxiety the DREAMers and the people losing their temporary protected status must be feeling. We are treating these people with so little respect, it makes me want to weep. I can accept disagreeing with my government on the right way to resolve their immigration status, but I cannot accept my government treating them and their dreams as worthless. I cannot accept our disregard for their humanity and callousness about the consequences of sending people back to countries they barely know. I cannot accept they way they are being used a political hostages, in a negotiation in which one side doesn't even seem to have a coherent statement of what they want, except for maybe "fewer brown people in America."

I wrote in Friday's links post that I feel like the mask has been ripped away from many of the immigration arguments, and the ugly racism is now out in the open. I'm not surprised, really, by the way some (who aren't even Iowa Rep. King) are now fairly open in implying that they want America to be a majority white country and that they don't see my friends who are not white as equally American. But I am still shocked by it, on a visceral level.

I grew up knowing that there were latino families in my state and neighboring states that had been on the land we all shared for far longer than my family had. There are latino families in New Mexico that have been on that land since before it was America, and I was taught that in school, even in my conservative corner of conservative Arizona. I went to school with Native American kids whose connection to the little patch of land we were all occupying was far, far deeper than mine was. It is shocking to hear my supposed leaders imply that those people are less American than me. I outright reject that notion, and am offended by it.

Now I live in a majority minority city, in a majority minority state. I think of my friends and my kids' friends, whose heritage stretches back to so many different countries: Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, China. I think of our Black friends whose chance to trace their heritage to a specific country was stolen from them along with their ancestors' freedom. We have friends who have become naturalized citizens recently, and friends whose ancestors came over around the same time as mine did, if not before. They are all just as American as I am, and I am deeply offended by any suggestion that they are not.

And yet, here we are. Selfishly, I wanted to go to the Women's March to be reminded that my version of America's future is still possible, and there are still people fighting for it. I did not get that chance, but I was encouraged by all the pictures I saw of large marches around the country. That will have to suffice. Last week, I bought a roll of postcard stamps. I'm ready to keep writing. Maybe there will be another chance to keep marching. No matter what, I'll keep fighting.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Weekend Reading: Links from the Road Edition, Reprise

I am sitting in another hotel room, writing another weekend reading post. This is the last trip I have planned right now, but of course, I don't know yet what the new job will bring.

Last week's trip home was a bit more of an ordeal than expected for a flight from San Jose to San Diego. We were just starting our final descent when the captain came on the intercom and told us that San Diego airport was fogged in. We circled for 30 minutes, and then diverted to Ontario, an airport just north of Riverside. From there, we got onto buses and made the ~2 hour trek home by land instead of air. I was originally scheduled to be home by 9:30 p.m. I actually made it home after 1 a.m. It sort of messed up my weekend: I still had to get up and take the kids to gymnastics on Saturday morning, and then I had to nap after lunch because I was exhausted. I wasn't really "right" until Sunday.

On the bright side, I caught up on some podcasts, as you will see a bit later in the links.

Speaking of links... let's get to them:

If you read only one of my links this week, make it Zeynep Tufekci writing about free speech and our current time period.

Tom Nichols' damage assessment of the first year of Trump is also worth your time.

Sen. Mazie Hirano is asking all judicial nominees about sexual harassment. It seems like a small thing, but Dahlia Lithwick does an excellent job explaining why it matters.

A summary of  couple of weeks' evidence of corruption and grift in the Trump administration is really depressing.

Here's some hopeful news on the environment: renewable energy costs are coming down faster than expected.

Cyd Harrell had many interesting, insightful things to say about the false alarm in Hawaii, from the standpoint of software user interface/user experience and government IT. Here's one thread:

But if you're interested in this sort of thing, go to her timeline and read more.

This is a long but really interesting thread:

Now those podcast recommendations I promised:

Susan Hennessey's Twitter feed is one I often check for a clear-eyed and level-headed summary of what's going on. So it is not surprising that Ezra Klein's interview with her is excellent. I highly recommend it if you want an overview of where we are at in terms of the investigations into Russian interference and related issues.

If you've ever despaired about the state of gun laws in America, Jason Kander's interview with Shannon Watts might help restore some hope.

This The Weeds conversation about immigration really captures how I've been feeling about the issue these days. I feel like so many arguments about tightening our immigration laws have been made in bad faith, and that the events of the past week really exposed that. We've gone from wanting to crack down on illegal immigration, to wanting to limit legal immigration, to just outright racist comments about African countries and Haiti. It really does seem like the position is actually: "we want white people to remain the majority in America, and we don't see people who are not white as real Americans." See, for instance, this:

And I guess I'm glad it is out in the open now, but wow, it is sickening. (Several people on Twitter pointed out that the commentator here, Mark Steyn, is Canadian, which is just so perfect.)

Also, this outbreak of racism and bad faith behavior is making it much, much harder to come to any sort of reasonable compromise on immigration, which is bad for our country and terrible for the many classes of people now caught in immigration limbo. This makes me very sad.

And here's a bunny to leave us on a happy note:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Weekend Reading: Links from the Road Edition

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

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

First, some politics:

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

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

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

And in non-political news:

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

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


Stern bunny!

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

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Family Fun List 2018

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

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

Here is the family art project:

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

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

An here's proof we went to Tecate:

We walked across the border.

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

Friday, January 05, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Belt Revivals series from Belt Publishing looks really interesting!

This podcast looks interesting!

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



Happy weekend, everyone

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Personal Goals 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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