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.