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?