Friday, May 25, 2018

Never Tempt Fate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Of Course It Happened Again Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is beautiful.

Muppet outtakes!


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

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Books and Such

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Friday, May 11, 2018

Weekend Reading: The Upset Stomach Edition

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

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

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

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

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

But first, let's have some links.

I have some self-promo links today.

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

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

In other news:

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

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

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

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

The backstory on the car that got eaten by lava.

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

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


Also funny:


Have a good weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 04, 2018

Weekend Reading: Another Short Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's a nice Twitter story:


Another bunny!

Happy weekend, everyone!