Friday, July 12, 2019

Weekend Reading: Back on Wheels Edition

I finally got to go out for a rollerblade again! My toe twinged a bit when I shoved my foot into the boot of my skate, but it didn't bother me when I was skating and it feels fine now. Hooray!

And it was a beautiful day for a rollerblade, so I am pretty happy.

Anyway, on to the links.

First up, I posted the cover reveal for the next Annorlunda book, a fantasy novella called The Boy Who Was Mistaken for a Fairy King, by HL Fullerton. I am looking for advance readers - sign up if you'd like to be one. I'll send out the eARCs either this weekend or next week.

In other links:

The LA Times story about California's disappearing coast is as good as you've heard.

This article about all of the ways in which our laws prioritize driving is definitely worth your time. It is not long.

If you get confused by the jargon when we're talking about housing for the homeless, this short Voice of San Diego piece will help.

German Lopez at Vox has a nice article summarizing a new book with an evidence-backed proposal for how to reduce urban gun violence even in the absence of changing our gun laws.

Fellow Californians (and folks in other shakey zones): Are you prepared for a quake? Everytime I read one of these articles, I find something new to do to prepare. This time it was that I should buy an extra pair of heavy work gloves and put them in our go bag.

I think my fellow Gen-Xers will enjoy this McSweeney's post about what your favorite 80s band says about you.


Happy weekend, everyone!

Monday, July 08, 2019

Updates on My Imperfect Environmentalism

Back in May, I wrote about my attempts to be a better, although not perfect, environmentalist. I thought it would be nice to give you an update on my efforts.

At the time, there were three things I thought we'd do next. I'll update on each.

Item 1: Start walking to get our groceries some times.

Petunia did indeed give me a granny cart for my birthday. And then I really badly stubbed my toe and wasn't up for walking much for a while. But yesterday, I finally took the granny cart for a spin. Petunia and Mr. Snarky, not being experienced granny cart users like myself, did not realize that the cart needs a hook to hang it on your grocery cart while shopping. They picked out a lovely cart that lacked a hook. So I bought some carabiners and used those to attach the granny cart to my shopping cart:

After acquiring our groceries, I was ready to head home:

The cart rolls beautifully. It has four wheels, so I could push it as well as pull it, which was nice. All in all, it was a great success. I got our groceries without using a car, and I got two lovely 15 minute strolls in almost perfect weather.

Item 2: Solve the scone and bread storage issue in a way that doesn't involve Ziploc bags at all.

My sister solved this one for me with one of her birthday gifts: The gallon size Envirogen reusable food storage bags. These work perfectly.

Incidentally, one of my other birthday gifts (this one from my parents) provides a nice replacement for plastic wrap and foil in some uses: the Charles Viancin Poppy Lid. These silicone lids form a seal on any smooth rim container, and come in several different fun styles.

Item 3: Sign up for the free tree the city will plant for us

No progress yet, unfortunately. First, we need to hire someone to dig out the stump left by the tree that blew over, and we haven't done that.

You may be wondering how the Tesla is doing. The answer is we still love it. We've gotten a couple of electricity bills now and while the increase is tolerable (about $50 more than pre-Tesla), we'll probably go ahead and get solar panels. Given the fact that this is the last year to get the full tax rebate on them, we expect that a lot of people will be trying to get solar installed before the end of the year. We hear that installers are already booking a couple of months ahead, so we should probably get moving on solar panels as our next thing. Sigh. My backyard upgrade will have to wait again.

As for political activism... I do think that until "Republican politician who supports serious policies to address climate change" doesn't sound like an oxymoron, working to elect more Democrats at all levels of government is vital environmentalist action. So that's another reason for me to keep writing postcards and taking other actions.

As always, add your suggestions in the comments!

Friday, July 05, 2019

Not Really a Weekend Reading Post

This isn't really a weekend reading post. I haven't gathered many links to share this week, and I spent the day out with my family - both Mr. Snarky and I had the day off work, and the kids' camp was closed. So we picked an item off our Family Fun List (visit the San Diego Kids' art museum), and made a day of it.

We parked our car at the Old Town Transit center and took the trolley downtown. Our first stop was The New Children's Museum. It is really aimed at kids a bit younger than ours, but Petunia still really enjoyed it, and Pumpkin tolerated it well. Then we went over to have lunch in Seaport Village, at Buster's Beach House. After lunch (and a post-lunch treat from a nearby Ben and Jerry's), we strolled along the waterfront to the Convention Center, walked up the stairs and across to the other side, and then headed to the Central Library. The kids found some books, and we hung out in the library for awhile before heading back to the trolley for a ride back to our car.

It was a fun day! And once we got home, I got to spend an hour on a blanket under our avocado tree, reading my book. Quite nice.

Anyway, I don't really have links to share. I can say that I listened to two Ezra Klein Show podcasts in my car this week, and found them both interesting and enlightening about our current political state. If you only listen to one, I think I'd pick Klein's interview with Robert Jones about demographic change and cultural change and how it is being experienced by white Christian conservatives. However, his interview with Adam Gopnik about Gopnik's new book about liberalism helped me understand more about my own beliefs and why this era in politics is so unsettling for me.

I hope all of my fellow Americans had a nice July 4th! We did. And I hope you all have a nice weekend. Here's a bunny to end the post:

Friday, June 28, 2019

Weekend Reading: The I Should Be More Careful Edition

It is an absolutely gorgeous day here, and I didn't get to go for a rollerblade. It is my own fault - a couple of weeks ago, I stubbed my toe badly. It seemed mostly better... until I put a lot of extra weight on it building and moving furniture  the kids' rooms last weekend. And then Monday night, I stubbed the same toe on a box in Petunia's room.

The good news is that I think it is almost better again. But I decided to skip rollerblading just to give it a chance to completely heal.

Don't feel too bad for me. I went for a walk on the beach instead, and this time I got to go barefoot. Summer has arrived - the beach was crowded. But still, nothing unknots my shoulders like the sound of waves and the sea breeze.

So, on to the links.

First the self-promo links:

I have been running a sale on The Dodo Knight to celebrate the fact that it was a finalist in the NextGen Indie Book Awards. The ebook is $0.99 right now. The sale ends tomorrow (Saturday, although it will take an unknown amount of time for the price to revert on Amazon), so act now if you want to get a cheap copy of this wonderful novella.

I also posted the cover reveal for the next Annorlunda book - The Boy Who Was Mistaken for a Fairy King, which is fun novella steeped in magic. I love how the cover turned out! I'll be posting a call for advance readers soon.

And now the other links:

Like many (I hope most) people, I have been reading the news coming from the border camps with horror. If I'd posted my links last week, I would have linked to this essay about why it is right - and even necessary - to call them concentration camps.

This week, I'll share Greg Sargent's write up of a Democratic proposal on immigration. It is not that we cannot do anything to come up with a humane immigration policy, and despite what some of the TV talking heads like to say, it is not that Democrats want "open borders." I think all but the most committed activists would probably be willing to compromise on specifics to get a deal that left us with an immigration system that wasn't something we are ashamed of. But we haven't had a good faith partner for negotiations for many, many years, and this has just gotten worse since Trump came to office.

The news most recently has been full of acrimony about the funding bill that just passed. People are mad at Pelosi, and I can understand why. But I think we need to remember that McConnell is very good at ruthlessly wielding power, and be clear-eyed about what is and is not possible. Jennifer Rubin wrote about that. Perhaps Pelosi should have fought harder, like I say - I don't claim to know, and I certainly would have liked a better bill. But it is a fight with a bunch of very vulnerable children caught in the middle, and to be honest I'm not at all convinced McConnell cares one whit what happens to them. So I am not sure a fight would have had an outcome we all felt good about, either.

As upsetting as the border situation is right now, my "if you read only one thing" pick this week isn't about that. It is this piece from Ezra Klein about the way aspects of our democracy are being undermined in a way that predates Trump. I think we still have time to fight back against this trend via democratic means, but the longer we wait, the harder the fight gets.

Here's another link I meant to share last week - an essay from a counselor who works with kids and young adults who screw up big time to help them get their life back on track, writing about why Harvard was right to rescind Kyle Kashuv's acceptance (remember that controversy?)

The Washington Post has a nice guide about video manipulation.

This is a very sobering thread, but worth your time:


More Bunnies!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Best Laid Plans

Last Saturday, we drove our kids over to Yuma, to hand them over to my parents for a week. We made it to Yuma easily on a fully charged battery - the gauge read 99 miles when we pulled into the superchargers in Yuma to refill. There were four other Teslas there - three California plates and one Arizona plate. We spent 45 minutes in the bar at the Hilton Garden Inn while the Tesla recharged - not the most atmospheric bar, but comfortable and they even gave us free chips and salsa. If it had been a little less hot or if we'd been looking for something more than just a place to sit and chat, we might have walked the short distance to a more interesting bar in downtown Yuma or over to a coffee shop we've liked on previous visits. But the Hilton Garden Inn did just fine.

Once the Tesla was recharged, we headed home. I can report that the Tesla is pretty amazing in the mountains. We zoomed up the mountains without noticing any difference in how the car drives. Mr. Snarky was driving - his choice, he'd been looking forward to seeing how the Tesla handled the hills and the curves - and he said it was a lot of fun. We burned through more charge than usual going up the mountains, but then made some of that back coming down. Anyway, we made it home with plenty of charge to spare.

So that was nice.

The rest of the week didn't go quite to plan.

Petunia has been asking for a loft bed, and it is true that having one would make her room less crowded feeling. However, before we put a new bed in her room, we wanted to change the carpet in the kids' rooms. It was 12 years old and showing its age. So, we picked out some new carpet, ordered it to have it arrive on the Monday after the kids left for Arizona, spent the week ahead packing their rooms up, spent a good part of Sunday moving furniture out of their rooms.... and then the carpet wasn't here in time.

First, the carpet place told us they could install on Wednesday. Mr. Snarky arranged to work from home (and we arranged for the new loft bed to be delivered on the same day, so we'd only have to work from home once). Then the carpet wasn't here on Wednesday, either, but they could tear up the old carpet. By this time, Mr. Snarky had gone in to work, so I came home early... only to get a text at 4 p.m. telling me that no, they'd tear out Thursday morning and install the new carpet Thursday afternoon. So I arranged to work from home on Thursday, and took a break outside to avoid the dust and fumes when the old carpet was removed. But then at about 3 p.m., I got a text saying the new carpet still wasn't here, so maybe they'd install on Friday, if the carpet arrived in time.  I already work from home on Fridays, so FINE, we'd make that work.

But then Friday morning I had some sort of... I don't know what to call it. I had sharp pains in my lower abdomen that eased a bit if I rested, but got basically unbearable if I sat up (to send emails, for instance), and didn't go away even after a couple of hours. So at about 8 a.m., we decided to go to urgent care.

It turns out that if you show up at urgent care in obvious pain talking about sharp pains in your lower abdomen, you get wooshed to the front of the line and seen right away. Once I saw the doctor, I realized that this was because they needed to find out if I had appendicitis and should be put in an ambulance.

The good news is that I did NOT have appendicitis. The bad news is that we didn't figure out what was causing the pain. But the other good news is that it just went away on its own about an hour after we got to urgent care.

So, I was home by lunch time with a bottle of prescription-strength ibuprofen and a bit of a pain hangover. I decided to take the rest of the day off, too, and spent the day on the sofa reading. My book club read Over Sea, Under Stone, the YA fantasy by Susan Cooper, awhile back. I'd never read it before, so my sister lent me the rest of the series. The books have been sitting on my shelves waiting for me to read them. In my time on Thursday outside avoiding dust and fumes, I finished The Dark is Rising. I read the remaining three books in the series on Friday. They were perfect for distracting me from the pain in the morning, and for keeping me happily resting in the afternoon.

I'd told Mr. Snarky that if the carpet people texted to say they were ready to install, he was to abandon me at urgent care. I could get a Lyft home. However, they didn't not text until after lunch... but this time, the news was good, and the carpet was installed by about 4 p.m.

We like our new carpet! But the delay in installation meant that we spent Saturday assembling loft beds. (Pumpkin has had one for many years, and now Petunia has a matching one - Stuva, from Ikea. They're great.) The kids arrived back with my parents in the late afternoon. Petunia was delighted by her new bed. But that was all we'd gotten done - both beds and desks were built, but no other furniture had been returned to their rooms. We did that today, and also got all the furniture back in our guest room/music room, which is the only other room in the house with carpet.

We had hoped to build and move furniture slowly over the course of the week, while also enjoying interesting dinners out. We had a couple of good dinners at new restaurants, but by Wednesday we were so demoralized by the carpet situation that we stayed near home and ate at restaurants in our neighborhood, all of which we've visited before. Still, the dinners were good and we had a nice time.

All's well that ends well, I guess - the kids are both asleep in their loft beds, their furniture is back in their rooms, and they are in the process of unpacking all of their boxes. I haven't had the abdominal pains again, which is good because the urgent care doctor told me that if they came back I should go straight to the ER, since the next test to do would be a CAT scan. I have a follow up visit with my primary care doctor a week from tomorrow. She may decide to order the scan even with no recurrence of the pain. Or she may say I should wait and see if they come back.

My plans for the week without kids went seriously awry. I started but did not finish a blog post over at Adjusted Latitudes, and the post I planned to write for my real name blog didn't even get started. I obviously failed to write a weekend reading post - which is a shame, because in addition to some interesting links, I wanted to tell everyone that I'm running a sale on The Dodo Knight right now - get the ebook for just $0.99! The price goes back up later this week.

But, I did enjoy the time reading the Susan Cooper books, so I guess I'll just regroup and see what I can get done this week.