Friday, September 20, 2019

Weekend Reading: Well, We're Definitely In a Crisis Now Edition

First, the good news. I had a terrific rollerblading outing today. It is a beautiful day, and there weren't a lot of people by the bay, and it was just wonderful.

Now, the other news. Holy cow, guys, this whistleblower story is something, eh? I am assuming you have read the story, but if you haven't, this is a decent summary of where we are. Or at least where we were this morning. Here's a short summary of what we learned today.

Back when the Mueller investigation was just getting started, I followed Susan Hennessey on Twitter, because she has the background to really understand the law and the context, and she was level-headed and not prone to exaggerating the conclusions that could be drawn from the available evidence.

Even when the whistleblower story first broke, she was cautious and warning people not to get out ahead of what we know.

Here's what she's saying today:

I have previously only called my representative and Speaker Pelosi to tell them I want a thorough investigation that is allowed to go where the facts lead, up to and including impeachment. This weekend, I will be contacting them to say we must have an impeachment inquiry now, and we must pursue it as aggressively as possible.

My rep has already come out in favor of impeachment, but I'm going to contact him, anyway. I don't know if an impeachment inquiry is good politics or not. At this point, I think we cannot care about that. It is clear that one side has no intention of allowing a free and fair election, and so we cannot worry about the next election and must just worry about protecting our system and our Constitution.

I don't care if the Senate won't convict. Make them go on record with a vote saying that they don't think this is wrong. If their constituents won't judge them harshly for their venality, history will.

I'll also be writing postcards this weekend, because as much as I'm disappointed in the Democratic leadership in DC right now, I'm 100 times more disappointed in the behavior of Republicans. Postcards4VA and Postcards to Voters both have active campaigns right now if you want to join me.

OK. So.

In other news, I feel bad that I didn't go out and join the climate strike. I'm short on days off at work, which is a bad excuse but there it is.

I do have a climate change related recommended listen, though: The Weeds podcast live in Seattle was about climate change, and it was a really good discussion. Listen to the end, because the final couple of questions provoke really interesting answers.

Also, this essay about living with climate change without becoming a nihilist is good. It made me think about one point Matt Yglesias makes in that Weeds podcast, that one interesting thing about trying to reduce your own carbon footprint is that it shows you where the barriers are, and where you might be able to help remove barriers with a little bit of local activism.

This is a good article about where all the plastic goes. I always pick up trash when I'm walking on the beach, and this article makes me glad I do that.

OK, we need some happy things.

OMG, this is awesome:

Someone tried to get Nicole Cliffe to answer a help letter that was pulled from the plot of Little Women, and the internet had fun coming up with other classics that could be advice columns. I liked this one a lot!

In other recommended listening, I found Krista Tippet's interview with Erik Vance about the placebo effect really interesting.

And here's your weekly bunny:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Weekend Reading: The I Don't Have a Title Edition

I got a rollerblade in today, but not in my preferred spot. That was closed off for something called the Hydrogames. I need to figure out how I can check for these closures ahead of time, because fighting my way through beach traffic to get there only to discover that I'll need to turn around and go back to my less-favored spot only adds to the aggravation.

But a rollerblade outing in my less-favored spot is better than no rollerblade outing so I'll try to be happy with it.

On to the links...

I wrote up the first half off our summer vacation.

I have two articles to share that sort of summarize why I'm working at a "regular" job these days instead of trying to build my own business.

First, this Slate article does a good job explaining a controversy that is raging in the publishing world about ebooks for libraries. Annorlunda is too small a publisher to have any direct control over my ebook deals with libraries. I make ebooks available via Overdrive and Baker & Taylor and any other system I can find a way to get into. I set my price to be just a little bit more than my "regular" ebook price, and I celebrate anytime I discover a library has bought one of my books.

But I think the forces that are driving publishers to try to things like the schemes described in the article are some of the same forces that have thrown the business model for my little publisher into disarray. I haven't written about it much publicly, but a little over a year ago, I realized that I'd gone from having a not-yet-profitable publishing business that I was investing in and growing along a path that seemed likely to lead to profitability soon to having a publishing business with no sustainable business model.

The metrics I was using to track how my strategy was doing all went from "doing well" to "uh oh we have a problem." I think there are many reasons for that, and won't bore you with all of them. I'm trying to fix the problem for my little company. I don't know if I'll be successful, but at least I won't starve if I'm not. The bigger publishers have their own problems and if they don't fix them, they'll go out of business. I don't think that limiting the number of ebooks libraries can buy is the right solution, but I understand why they're trying different things.

Next, this Vox article about changes at Etsy explains why I didn't just pivot to growing my Etsy shop, which has always been profitable (if not hugely so). I went ahead and made the changes to allow me to agree to support the new free shipping focus, but I'm not sure if running that shop will continue to be worth it long term.

OK, that was a lot of words for a weekend reading post, about topics most of you probably don't care about! Here are some other links:

I confess I have never considered the idea that malaria could be eradicated, not just managed. But this article argues we could eradicate it by 2050 if we focused.

Ann Friedman's essay about the sprawl of LA describes something that I also find charming about LA: There is no center and that's OK.

I'm not even a dog person and this collection of dogs sleeping in ridiculous positions made me smile.

The case for the four-day work week.

We are in no way prepared for the ethical dilemmas consumer genetic testing uncovers. The latest: A woman found her supposedly anonymous cord blood donor because of an AncestryDNA test. This story has a happy ending - both the woman and the donor are happy to have met. But there is no guarantee all donors would be happy with this outcome.

Recommended listening: Krista Tippet's conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates. Tippet and Coates talk a little bit about how white people keep asking him to give us hope. I think he has given us something much more profound and lasting, if we're willing to learn it from his writing: How to face reality even when it is bleak and work to make it better even when that work will take more than our lifetimes. If we're willing to learn it, we can learn how to find grace and meaning living our lives as best we can in a world that has never been fair.

I really enjoy Maggie Smith's daily affirmations. I particularly liked this one:

And this one:
This is a delightful story:


Here's your weekly rabbit:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, September 06, 2019

Weekend Reading: The I Made It Through The Week Edition

The back to school picnic was this evening, so we are now officially through with back to school events. Phew!

Now, I just need to get Petunia's Lego team started up again, which I'm working on. I think we're going to make the jump from First Lego League, Jr. to First Lego League - which will be more work for all of us. But hopefully, rewarding and fun, too.

So anyway. I made it through the week! I didn't get the post about my vacation written, but I do have a few links for you.

I've been following the vaping-related lung illness news with more interest than really makes sense - I don't vape and no one I know well vapes. Perhaps it is because I know that there is a huge difference in testing requirements between the only thing I inhale into my lungs - my asthma inhalers - and commercial products like vaping pens. I wonder how many of the people who are dealing with this illness now realize that their vape juices aren't testing for safety as stringently as my inhalers are?

Anyway, officials don't know what is causing the illness, but I found this article about the potential involvement of vitamin E acetate interesting.

And my stance remains that it is a bad idea to inhale anything other than an FDA-approved drug into your lungs if you can avoid it.

British Conservative MPs put country over party...

Greg Sargent's argument about how Mitch McConnell is enabling Trump's corruption is worth your time.

So is Brian Beutler's argument about the crossroads we may be at now, even if we don't recognize the full implications of our situation.

The story of the reason for the chaos at Newark Airport over Labor Day is really disturbing.

In recommended listening: Matt Yglesias' interview with foreign policy analyst Emma Ashford was really interesting, and if you (like me) don't spend a lot of time thinking about foreign policy and how it has and hasn't changed over the years, it may really make you stop and think about what you assume is "just how the world is."

This is awesome:


Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Whine and Poetry

I was feeling pretty good after the long weekend... rested, more on top of things.

And then this week happened. My calendar shows me leaving work a little early every day this week.

Tuesday was Petunia's regular art class. I have to leave work early to get her to that class. That's the usual schedule, but it isn't usually on my first work day of the week!

Last night was 7th grade back to school night. Just like last year, it was a bit chaotic and took roughly twice as long as advertised. Also, the fancy air conditioning system in the middle school building is programmed to run only until 4:30 p.m. The teachers could override that and turn on the air in their room, but everytime the door opened, it shut off.

I don't normally mind the heat, but it was 85 degrees in those rooms and there was no air movement. I was trapped with other parents who were trying to understand the schedule used on the one day each week that is a half day... and it was past my dinner time and I was hungry.

Let's just say that I was in no mood to do anything when I got home. I still don't understand the schedule they use on half days, but my 7th grader does and that's all that really matters.

Tonight was the 4th grade back to school night. It was shorter and the air conditioning worked, so I managed to make it through half of yesterday's to do list.

Tomorrow is the back to school picnic. I'll stop work early for that, but on the plus side, I don't have to feel too bad about that because I'll also start work extra early tomorrow - I have a 7 a.m. meeting to call into! Wheeeeee.

So anyway, my plans for the week turned out to be a bit over ambitious. I thought I'd be writing up a post about our vacation in Prince Edward Island tonight, but that is not going to happen. I am going to go to bed instead.

However, I do have a request for my readers: I want recommendations for poetry! I have started reading a poem or two or three before bed most nights, and I really like the habit. I've read three books so far:

Good Bones, by Maggie Smith
Why I Wake Early, by Mary Oliver
Counting Descent, by Clint Smith

I need another book! Tell me about your favorite poems and poets in the comments. I'm trying to prioritize living poets, but as you can see from the above list, that is not a firm rule, so all recommendations are welcome.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Weekend Reading: In a Funk Edition

I've been in a bit of a funk this week. Or maybe, I've been in a bit of fog and that put me in the funk. It was a busy week, and I haven't been sleeping well and I just didn't feel very sharp, which make work more challenging than usual.

But no matter! It is the weekend, and a long weekend at that. I kicked it off with a nice rollerblade by the bay. It was a bit warmer than perfect, but not too bad, and there was a nice enough breeze.

On to the links. I don't have many - see above about the fog/funk/general busy-ness - but here's what I have:

The latest Annorlunda book, The Boy Who Was Mistaken for a Fairy King, is ready for pre-order!

The Grumpies had a good post about getting started with personal finance. The comments section was particularly useful for me - Bogart has some good reading for me to do as I try to figure out how much money to save for retirement and how to factor in the chance I might live longer than average.

I miss Stochastic Planet, but GlobeGenie is the same sort of fun.

Vanessa Fogg reviewed a book that sounds really, really interesting.

I enjoyed Ezra Klein's conversation with Jia Tolentino.

OK, I know I am anthropomorphizing... but this bunny is an adorable fluffy ball of grump:

That's all I have this week. Happy weekend!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Weekend Reading: The End of Summer Edition

My kids go back to school on Monday. Today, instead of rollerblading I went to go see the performance at the theater camp they took to finish the summer. They did great! It was fun to watch them. They are both excited to start school. I'm looking forward to the easier schedule the school year brings, but also a bit sad that summer is over. Of course, we have another month or two of summer-like weather ahead, so I'm not too sad. Also, the crowds by the beach will get lighter, which makes my rollerblades more fun.

Anyway, to the links!

First, over at Adjusted Latitudes I posted the "awards show" summary of our recent vacation to PEI and Nova Scotia.

Next on my list is to get the pre-orders posted for The Boy Who Was Mistaken for a Fairy King and start recruiting more advance reviewers. There is still time to volunteer as an advance reviewer if you're interested!

In other links:

Apparently, my city is leading the state in using red flag laws to prevent gun violence. These laws only work if police and prosecutors are willing to use them, so I was glad to read that article.

And my state has a new law aimed at preventing police shootings that was introduced by a San Diego legislator.

My "if you only read one thing" pick this week is this Vox article about why we should switch to electric school buses.

I though Dahlia Lithwick did a good job of describing the effect of the Trump years on ordinary people.

Some great news about  kākāpō!

And here's a fluffy bunny to start your weekend off right!

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Just a Few Links Edition

I had my first rollerblade outing in a month... and it was the perfect day for it, the sort of day that reminds me why I live here in San Diego! Sunny, warm enough, but with a nice ocean breeze. Just perfect.

I am still working to get caught up after my vacation. For some reason, my body clock took longer than usual to adjust back to this time zone. Today was the first day I woke up at my normal time instead of earlier. I am mostly caught up at my "real" job, but still need to catch up on Annorlunda tasks, and also get ready for a short talk on moving into industry that I've agreed to give at the ACS.

So, not a lot of links this week! But here's what I have:

This piece on Phoenix adjusting to the heat was interesting to read as someone who grew up in the area.

This article about a guy who registered his car with a vanity plate that said NULL will amuse all database developers.

This is an amazing medical mystery story, where the "detective" is the patient.

I spent the flight home listening to podcasts while I crocheted, so I have some recommended listening:

I really enjoyed Krista Tippet's interview with Amichai Lau-Lavie.

Ezra Klein's interview with Varshini Prakash, one of the founders of the Sunrise Movement, is excellent and my pick for the "if you only read/listen to one thing" this week.

I also really enjoyed his interview with Astra Taylor about her book Democracy May Not Exist, But We'll Miss It When It's Gone.

Here's your bunny for the week:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

In Which I Wonder if I'll Ever Know What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

I'm just back from a lovely vacation in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, with about a day and a half in Boston tacked on at the end. I'll write up my usual posts over at Adjusted Latitudes soon.

In the whirlwind of activity before the vacation, I didn't get a chance to write a post about something that happened back in June that I've been thinking about off an on ever since.

I won't go into all of the details here, but the short version is: I was contacted by a recruiter friend for a position that I would have jumped at earlier in my career. The job was doing something I think I would be good at, and it would have put me on a path to the sorts of positions that 10 years ago I would have told you were the sort of job I was aiming for.

But I told her not to send my resume in. I think the me of 10 years ago would be shocked to hear that  - which is one reason why the decision has been on my mind ever since I made it.

I turned the opportunity down largely because I couldn't see how to make it work logistically. The company was located in the San Diego area, but far from my home. The commute by car would be at least 45 minutes each way.  The company was located in an area that made a commute by train possible, but since I would be going against the rush hour traffic, there would be exactly one morning train and one evening train that would work.  And as I thought about what it would mean to be ~1 hour away from where my kids would be, I was worried about how we'd handle doctor's appointments, school events, and calls to pick up a sick kid.

We talked about whether we could move a bit closer to the job without making my husband's commute unbearable, and we could probably move somewhere that would cut the commute to about 30 minutes - but that would almost certainly require changing schools, and we don't want to do that.

In short, as much as the job would have been good for my career, it would have created a lot of problems to solve for our family. I decided it wasn't worth it. This is the first time I've turned away from a career opportunity because of family considerations, and that feels... weird.

It is also true that none of those problems would have been insoluble. If I'd really wanted the job, we could have made it work. So while the logistics were the main reason for not pursuing the opportunity, it is also true that I didn't really want the job.

I've been thinking a lot about why I didn't really want a job that seemed like a good fit for my skills and a great career move. I don't have a definitive answer about that, but I am starting to think that I need more ownership over what my work produces than I had thought. Back when I last did a career values exercise, it seemed like what mattered most to me was to be useful on projects that I thought were worthwhile. Maybe now I need more. Maybe now I also need to feel like I am creating something myself, not just facilitating other people's creations. I certainly enjoyed running my own business for awhile, even if the only reason I was able to keep it afloat was by taking contracts doing the same sort of "behind the scenes" work I do now as a full time employee.

In my current job, I can get my fix of "work product ownership" with my side projects. If I'd gone for the "bigger" job my recruiter friend was trying to fill, I would have needed to wind down those side projects and I think that would have left a hole that the job on offer couldn't fill.

Maybe I should look for a job that better fits my current career values. I need to think more on that, and probably do a full career values exercise to get a better idea of what I actually want now, in my current stage of life. I last did the exercise when Petunia was a baby. But there's also something to be said for arranging things such that my job doesn't have to be the sole source of work satisfaction. I need to think more about that, too.

While we were on vacation, I found myself fantasizing about a very different sort of life. I was struck by how short the tourist season is in Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton - really just July and August, with perhaps an additional month or so of shoulder season on either side. I wondered if you could find something to do during a short tourist season that would make enough money to carry you through the entire year, and then spend significant chunks of the off season traveling. I built an elaborate daydream around having a little artist's studio/shop somewhere - perhaps with a small cafe attached - but only for four months out of the year.

Of course, one serious problem with this daydream is that I do not have any artistic skill that would support such an endeavor. I am still pretty terrible at crochet, I can barely draw stick figures, and I have no artistic training whatsoever. So this was just an idle daydream, really. But it planted a more serious thought in my head, about how to fund the travel I'd love to do in retirement even though my husband and I will also need to fund all of our living expenses out of our savings (neither of us has a pension) - and I was surprised by how attractive the idea seemed, since it is a radical departure from anything else I've ever thought about doing for a living.

All in all, there's a lot for me to think about. It feels a bit ridiculous to be 47 and still not know what I want to be when I grow up, but ignoring these thoughts and daydreams won't make them go away - and in my past experience, time invested in better understanding what you want out of your work and your life is never wasted. I'm going to try to make the time to do some career values exercises once the kids are back in school, and then I'll probably need some long beach walks to sort this all out. I'll no doubt keep you all posted on my progress, because writing about these things helps clarify my thinking!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Off Enjoying Summer Edition

Posting is going to be even sparser than usual around here for the next month or so because... well, because summer. Summer has always been one of my favorite seasons. Yes, even when I lived in Arizona, although that might be because I was a child or young adult with summers off when I live in Arizona! Summer is more complicated now that I'm a working parent. Our schedule is actually harder in the summer than in the school year, because my kids can walk to school - and home from school in a pinch - but they can't walk to camp. Camps have earlier pick up times, even if you carefully select for camps that are open past 3 p.m. Here in San Diego, the YMCA camps are some of the most parent-friendly, and they close at 5:30 p.m. School after care closes at 6, and as I mentioned above, in a pinch we can just tell our kids to walk home after school and wait for us at home.

But still, I remain convinced that summer should be a fun season and we're doing our best to pack our summer with fun. So, there will be fewer posts. But I'll be back!

I do have a few links for you this week.

First up, I finally wrote up the thoughts on "big trips" that were prompted by reading Rowing to Latitude.

I sent out my final edition of Inbox Stories.

I'm still looking for advance readers for The Boy Who Was Mistaken for a Fairy King.

In other links:

If you read only one thing this week, make it Adam Serwer's essay: What Americans Do Now Will Define Us Forever. I don't agree that if we fail to make a truly multiracial democracy that it won't happen anywhere - I think Canada and New Zealand are both trying hard on this front, for instance. But I do think a failure here will be felt profoundly everywhere. And a failure here will be a tragedy for us.

Matt Yglesias' piece about the con that Trump's racism helps hide is also worth your time.

Did you know that tacos al pastor came from the fusion of shawarma with Mexican cuisine? I didn't, and I LOVE tacos al pastor!

In recommended listening: I really enjoyed Krista Tippet's interview with relationships therapist Esther Perel.

I can't really say I enjoyed Ezra Klein's interview with religious conservative Rod Dreher, but it was interesting and informative and I'm glad I stuck it out even when I was annoyed by Dreher's refusal to really engage with Klein's attempt to get him to address some common liberal criticisms of the religious right. 

As upsetting as the people chanting at that Trump rally this week were, don't forget there are people like this, too:

This made me laugh:

This is lovely:

Happy weekend, everyone!

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.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Weekend Reading: The I Want to Be Outside Edition

It is a beautiful day and I have been stuck inside working past when I normally work on a Friday afternoon (I start early on Fridays so I can quit early and go outside and glory in living in San Diego...)

So let's get straight to the links so I can go outside and glory in living in San Diego!

Here's what I have this week:

If you read only one of my links this week, make it this one about cleaning up lead pollution. We should do it. It will be really expensive but we should do it anyway because not doing it is expensive, too.

Jennifer Rubin's piece about the difference between Ellen Weintraub and Marsha Blackburn is really good. We focus on what Democrats should do in this crisis, but we should never forget Republicans have a choice in how they respond, too.

Read Amanda Knox's thoughtful piece about why she's going back to Italy, and what happens when we consume other people's lives as entertainment.

This is an interesting analysis of Amelia Bedelia.

This is a good, short article about perimenopause and how not fun it is.

This does look like a helpful graphic. I wonder if it is part of the standard CA curriculum?


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Not Quite Summer Yet Reading

I've read several really good books lately, so I decided it was time for a books post.

Two of my books are book club books, and they show why I love my book club. I would never have picked up either of them on my own, and I absolutely loved both of them.

First was Rowing to Latitude, by Jill Fredston. I've mentioned this one here before, but it is worth mentioning again because I loved it so much. This is a memoir by a woman who is an avalanche expert - but although she writes a bit about that, mostly the book is about the long summer rowing trips she and her husband take in arctic waters. It is beautifully written and she is an interesting woman living life exactly how she wants to live it. The book gave me so much to think about. We read the book for May's book club, but insights from reading this book are still unspooling in my brain.

I just finished our June book club book, which was Circe, by Madeline Miller, and WOW is this a good book. It is another book with beautiful writing, but what I loved most was how relatable Miller made Circe. The writing about Circe's relationship with her son is some of the best writing about motherhood I've ever read, and that's just one small part of what makes this book so great.

In between these two book club books, I read The Peripheral, by William Gibson. I love how Gibson can dunk you into a strange but believable future, and how if you squint a bit you can trace the thread of how we get to this future. There are two futures in this book, both utterly plausible and somewhat horrifying. But I don't find his books bleak, because even though his characters are living in a future you hope we avoid, they are real and human and at least some of them are salvaging something good from their lives, and that somehow makes me feel hopeful that humanity will muddle through whatever catastrophe we bring down on ourselves. But there's also an edge to this book, a warning about the potential catastrophes we face hidden in among the puzzling out the rules of the world into which you find yourself immersed.

I am also reading a book of poetry right now. I've been reading more poetry, and I decided I should buy some. I picked Good Bones, by Maggie Smith, because I love the title poem so much. I am glad I did, because the other poems in the collection are also speaking to me.

I've been thinking a little bit about the through-thread of some of these books - particularly Rowing to Latitude and Circe, which both spoke to me more than I expected when I started them. I put the pieces together tonight, as I read the closing chapters of Anne of Green Gables aloud to Pumpkin (for the second time - we decided to reread it in advance of a trip to Prince Edward Island later this summer). I'll be a bit vague, in case you've never read Anne of Green Gables.. but the final chapter, titled "The Bend in the Road" is what made me connect the dots. Both Rowing to Latitude and Circe are about women plotting their own paths in life, paths that are maybe not what everyone else expects of them. There's a passage in Circe in which she is facing a more powerful god, in which she thinks "I cannot bear this world a moment longer." And the god answers, "Then, child, make another."

I don't really have my thoughts from all these books pulled together into a cohesive story yet, but I think the through-thread I'm finding from Fredston's unusual path in life to Circe's determination to shape her own life to Anne's resolution to follow the bend in the road is telling me something interesting. I'm just not sure what, yet. At least I'm enjoying some good books while I figure it out!

What good books have you read lately? Drop them in the comments.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Tesla Report

We've had our Tesla Model 3 for several weeks now and it is time for the post I promised with our impressions.

The short version is: This is a really, really nice car. I have two quibbles (and I'll list them!) but overall, the car is great.

First, the quibbles:

The biggest annoyance is the fact that is uses your cell phone as a key. The phone communicates with the car via bluetooth, and in theory you're supposed to just be able to walk up to your car, open the door, get in and drive. This is in fact what happens for my husband. It does not happen for me - 9 times out of 10, I'd have to toggle in and out of airplane mode to get the car and phone to "talk."

I spent far too much time reading about bluetooth and fiddling with the settings on my phone. Nothing I tried worked reliably, and so I gave up and started using the key card that came with the car. This is a card like a hotel key that I present to a sensor by the driver's side door to open the car. To drive with the key card, you present the card to a specific spot on the central console. However, I've discovered that while my phone won't connect to the car to open the car, once the car "wakes up" due to the use of the key card, my phone will connect and let me drive the car. My theory is that both the car and the phone are a bit too aggressive in saving battery and aren't "pinging" on bluetooth - they are waiting to be pinged, and so neither wakes up when I walk up to the car. I have nothing to support this theory, but it fits the available evidence!

Anyway, I can apparently buy an old-fashioned "clicker" that has buttons to open the car and the trunk, and I think I'll probably get one, because there is no key card sensor on the trunk, so I either have to present my key card at the driver's door and then walk and open the trunk or use my phone app to open the trunk.

I can live with this, but I think they should have just used an RFID key like our twelve-year old Prius had. I think this is tech guys getting to clever for their own good.

My second annoyance is much smaller: I don't like how the air vents are controlled. There is no manual toggle,  you control them via a little diagram on the screen. The diagram lets you direct where the air flows, but I don't see a way to just turn the air OFF. This is no big deal when I'm alone in the car (or just driving the kids), as I just set the air at a comfortable temperature/speed. But when Mr. Snarky is in the car, he turns the air up much higher and I get cold.

And that's really all I can complain about. I think it is stupid that the button to open the trunk in the app isn't on the main screen (although the button to open the "frunk" - the front trunk - is), but since I rarely use the app to open anything, I don't really care.

Mr. Snarky dislikes the fact that you can only open the glovebox from the screen (there's no mechanical button), but since I almost never get into the glovebox, this doesn't bother me at all.

I guess I have one more complaint: There is a certain type of young man, usually one driving a souped up Honda Civic or a Mazda 3 (but occasionally driving a big truck or SUV), who wants to drag me off at stoplights. Mostly this is just funny, though, because there is no way they'd beat the Tesla if I actually tried to beat them, but I'm not going to go drag racing on city streets, particularly not when I've got a kid or two in the back seat. Dudes, your car is NOT faster than a Tesla. Get over yourselves.

And now what I like about the car:

First and foremost, it is a real pleasure to drive. It is responsive and the steering is tight. We got the dual motor version, which gives us all-wheel drive that my husband credits for making the car feel like it is on rails in turns. And that "rocket car" reputation - yeah, that's real. I don't think I've ever put my foot all the way down on the accelerator and I can still vouch for the fact that the car goes ZOOOM. Petunia loves this, and if I accelerate quickly to get on the freeway she yells "wheeeee!" Pumpkin hates it, and if I accelerate quickly she yells "Mommy! Stop it!"

We have a very steep hill in our neighborhood and we took the Tesla on it for the first time last weekend and all I can say is DAMN. I thought the Prius was good on that hill (the Mazda 5 chugs up the hill reluctantly), but the Tesla accelerates as if there were no hill. Soon, we'll be taking it on its first long road trip to deliver our kids to my parents and I think it is going to be an absolute blast in the mountains between San Diego and El Centro. We'll see what that does to the battery range - luckily there is a supercharger in El Centro if we need it. On mileage alone, we should be able to make it to Yuma easily, so we're curious to see how it goes.

Other things I like:

  • It has very comfortable seats.
  • Most of the automated things (e.g., wipers, lights) work like you want them to - although the automatic switch to brights is a little more sensitive than I'd have thought it should be, it always switches back to regular lights before blinding anyone, so perhaps I'm just used to driving through our urban canyons with weaker lighting than is desirable.
  • The frunk is mostly just an extra storage space, but there is one awesome use I've found: If you have leftovers from a dinner out and want to put them in your car without stinking up your car, the frunk is somehow more isolated from the cabin than the trunk. 
  • Never stopping at a gas station. Seriously, I love this. We charge a couple of times a week at home, so that we can get all the charge time in our super off-peak electricity usage hours (12:30 - 6 a.m.). We had a 240 volt outlet installed in our garage and charge using the portable charger that came with the Tesla.
Mr. Snarky loves one additional thing: You can use the app to turn the AC on in the car remotely so that it cools down before you get in it. 

Mr. Snarky also says he loves how he can just walk up to the car and get in and go, but I think he's just saying that to piss me off since I can't do that. Anyway, we could do that with the Prius.

So that's our basic summary - I'll post an update after the road trip and let you know how that goes! If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Too Klutzy Edition

Yesterday morning, I stubbed my toe badly. By last night, my pinky toe was swollen up and my toe and surrounding foot were a lovely mix of colors.

So, no rollerblading for me today. However, the good news is that it seems like the toe is not broken, because as long as my shoes aren't too tight, I can walk fine today (yesterday, not so much...) so I went for a walk on the beach instead of my rollerblade. It was less exercise and I got some funny looks for wearing leather shoes on the beach, but being on the beach always relaxes me, so it was a decent trade.

Anyway, on to the links.

First, in self-promotional news: there is a new Annorlunda Books release! Arctic Adagio, by DJ Cockburn, is a mystery set in a disturbing but all-too-believable near future. Our protagonist has to try to solve a murder when all of his suspects essentially own the law. Even though it is short - just a novelette - it immerses you in its world, and my time in that world really left me thinking. I think anyone who enjoys William Gibson would enjoy this book. PLUS - if you get it now and send me a picture I can share on social media, I'll send you a promo code for Caresaway, Cockburn's earlier novelette. 

In other links:

Josh Marshall says right in this post that he doesn't think anyone should take it for granted that Trump will lose re-election... but he spells out the case for the possibility that Trump not just loses, but loses big. I share it because it clarified my thinking about how I can be most usefully involved at this early stage. The short answer is evident in the actions I posted on Twitter today: I gave money to the Wisconsin Democrats and to Mi Familia Vota. I think if you read Marshall's post, you'll see why!

But if you read only one of my links this week, read Dahlia Lithwick's article about Elizabeth Warren and her supporters. 

The Hofeller files should be a bigger story than they are... they show some egregious bad faith and wrong-doing by lots of state Republican parties.

In local politics: My city is struggling to build enough housing. I drive past the church in this story often. I hope they get to build the housing they want to build.

In non-political reading: that Washington Post article about Pfizer and Enbrel and Alzheimer's was all over my Twitter feed. I didn't have the energy to write up why that article was basically useless, but Derek Lowe did. There are lots of things Pharma companies do that are questionable and some that are downright infuriating. This one was perhaps questionable, but I don't think the author of the Post article understood drug discovery (or scientific publishing!) well enough to provide us with the information we'd need to decide if it was questionable. From the info in the article, it seems like nothing more than one of many signals that a drug company decided not to follow up on.

This Virginia Hughes article about how DNA testing connected a man and the descendents of his grandmother's rapist is really well done.

I'm sharing this article because I love jacaranda trees and they are all in bloom here right now.

In recommended listening: Ezra Klein's interview with Presidential candidate Michael Bennet is really worth your time, even if you aren't considering voting for him.

I have no idea if this translation is accurate but this made me laugh out loud:

This is also hilarious.

Honestly, the face-planted owl is so great I don't even want to end with a bunny.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Weekend Reading: Another Busy Week, Another Short Reading List Edition

Petunia woke up feeling fine today, so the Chuck E. Cheese outing was on and the hedgehog was procured:

And all is well.

I also spent over an hour lying on a blanket in my backyard looking up at the avocado tree leaves and blue sky. At one point a large bird flew into the tree. I think it was some sort of hawk, but I couldn't see its head so I'm not sure. When I moved to try to see it better, it flew away.

All in all, it was a good day off.

It was a nice end to a busy week. I don't have many links for you this week because it was so busy. I don't have any links about the mess in Washington this week. But I will share what actions I plan to take this weekend:

I found another voting rights organization to donate to: Spread the Vote. I like what they're doing, so I'm going to give them some money. Yes, Vote Riders is doing something similar. I think both organizations are worth supporting.

I will also be writing postcards for a state house campaign in Florida.

Here's what I got for your reading pleasure this weekend:

I almost always read what David Roberts writes about climate... and his summary of Jay Inslee's climate plan is worth your time.

This comic about the author's favorite Filipino food is really good.

I need to go to see this new art installation in Paso Robles.

I love Rhiannon Giddens' music, and this profile is as good as her music.

This thread is heartbreaking:
I think this picture is stunning:
This is not a bunny, but it is almost as good:

Here's a bunny:

Thursday, May 23, 2019

This Wasn't the Post I Meant to Write Tonight

I planned to write a post tonight, but not this one.

I was going to write a post over on my real name blog about how I recognize good project management, and why I think good project management matters.

Or maybe I was going to write a post over on Adjusted Latitudes about the lure of the long trip, inspired by some thoughts after reading Rowing for Latitude, by Jill Fredston. (It is an excellent book. You should read it. Let me just say that my ideal long trip looks nothing like her long trips, but I wish I could write as well as she does and that book made my feet itch.)

But life, and specifically parenthood, got in the way. My kids have tomorrow off school, and I decided to take the day off and have a "play day" with them. We have big plans, including a return trip to Chuck E. Cheese to procure enough tickets to get a stuffed hedgehog Petunia has her eye on. Petunia has been talking about this trip all week. She has been negotiating with Pumpkin to convince Pumpkin to donate her tickets to the cause. I don't love Chuck E. Cheese, but I confess I was looking forward to seeing Petunia procure her hedgehog.

But then tonight, right before snack time, Petunia announced she was tired. She didn't really eat her snack. She willingly went to bed early.

Uh oh, I thought. Is she coming down with the cold I fought off at the start of the week? (Or, God forbid, something else that I'm going to catch next week?)

We read stories and turned the lights out. She went to sleep. I left her room and went to do the dishes... and then she came out of her room all sweaty, saying she got hot.

Damn. The poor kid is probably going to be sick tomorrow. No Chuck E. Cheese. No hedgehog. 

I went back in and helped her settle back in bed and go back to sleep.

And then I did the dishes. It is now 45 minutes after when I thought I'd start writing a post. Most importantly, I'm feeling deflated and not like the badass whose opinions on project management the world needs to read.

So y'all get to read my whinging about life instead, I guess.

One of the things that Rowing for Latitude (which again, is an excellent book and you should read it) made me think about is what I'm doing with my life.

Don't get me wrong. Unlike Fredston, I have zero desire to spend four months at a time rowing in frigid water for hours every day. But I have to confess that spending 11 months every year spending hours a day sitting at a computer writing emails and statements of work was maybe not how I'd imagined my life would go, either.

I think Rowing for Latitude triggered these thoughts because they were already nascent in my head. I've been thinking about what I want from life a bit lately.

I just took the better part of a paycheck and transferred it into my Annorlunda bank account. It is the first time I've done that since I put a few thousand dollars in to start the company. Annorlunda wasn't broke, but my balance had dipped below the point at which the bank starts charging fees, and I decided it was silly to pay $8 per month out of pride at not having to invest "extra" cash in my company.

Still, that transfer of money, along with some struggles with book marketing that I may write about at some point (basically, what I was doing with Facebook ads stopped working and I stopped wanting to send money to Facebook, so I need a new marketing plan) have really made me stop and think about what I need from Annorlunda to keep it going. The answer right now is that I don't know, so I'm full speed ahead publishing some great books this year and hoping I figure it out!

Whatever I want to do with Annorlunda, it is clear it is not a path to financial independence anytime soon (or really, ever), so either I need a different plan to go back to being independent or I need to fully embrace the career I've gone back to.

But the career I've gone back to has its own set of quandaries. Twice since starting my current job, I have been approached by people at other, competing companies and asked if I'd be interested in applying for a job that would be an objectively better career move than the job I have now. I like the job I have now! I like my colleagues! But it was a "step back" career-wise and there is no path for advancement. And yet, both times I told the people "not right now, but thanks for thinking of me."

My reason for saying no is that I don't want to move, and both of those jobs would have required relocating. Younger me would not have made this decision. Both jobs were in good locations, that I would probably enjoy living in. But I am settled here, and I'm not sure if that even just refers to the fact that the idea of uprooting my kids is incredibly daunting.

Also, my current job comes with incredible flexibility, which is very helpful in my life (and my kids' lives) right now. It is hard to imagine another job with a good paycheck and benefits that would be this flexible.

So, I am apparently not prioritizing career advancement. What am I prioritizing? Hell if I know. What do I want to have done in my life when I look back from the ripe old age of 99? Hell if I know.

I'm doing a lot of thinking and a lot of reading and I wish I could synthesize all my thoughts, but I've tried a couple of times and have the blog post drafts to prove it... and I'm not there yet. Here are some random things that have stuck with me as I think about it:
  • When I was in high school, I read Dr. Zhivago. I remember not a single thing about the plot, but there is a quote from the book that I wrote down in the book of quotes I kept and still have: "What are you conscious of in yourself? Your kidneys? Your liver? Your blood vessels? No. However far you go in your memory, it is always in some external, active manifestation that you come across your identity.... You in others - this is your soul." I had to look up the full quote, but that bit after the ellipsis has stayed with me all these years. I think it is deeply true.

    (Incidentally, I have a ridiculous number of quotations from Les Liasons Dangereuses in my quote book. I am not sure if this reflects the brilliance of the prose or some weird fascination I had with that book as a high schooler.)

  • A couple of years ago, I read Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande. (This is also a great book that you should read.) The part of the book that has stuck with me the most is the part where he talks about the value of asking someone who is nearing the end of their life what is “enough” for them - what they need from life to think it is worth continuing to undergo treatments to prolong it. The idea is that this helps guide decisions about when to pursue life-prolonging treatments and when to instead focus on maximizing the enjoyment of the days that are left.

    One of the people he writes about would be happy as long as he could eat a bowl of ice cream and watch football. Gawande’s own father, when faced with a tumor in his spinal cord, says he needs more. He does not want to become a quadriplegic. He does not want to be unable to care for himself.  The point isn’t that one answer is better than the other. It is that each person has their own answer, and that if you know what the answer is, it will be easier to make good decisions about treatment.

    I think there is a larger message in this idea, a message about how to decide what matters in life, but I haven't really been able to put my finger on it. I mean, I love a good bowl of ice cream as much as anyone, and who knows, when I'm nearing the end of my life the ability to enjoy a bowl of ice cream may in fact be my criteria for whether it is worth continuing to fight for more days... but it is not enough for me right now. I can't decide if that is a failing of perspective on my part or if I just need to think harder about what is enough for me right now.
I think there will be something from Rowing to Latitude that sticks with me like the above items, too. I just don't know what it is yet.

And now I have finished the beer I poured myself after the dishes were washed, and so I think it is time to go to bed. Here's hoping I wake up to two healthy kids and a trip to Chuck E. Cheese's! 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Weekend Reading: The I Didn't Read Many Articles Edition

Our weird weather continues - we've had more rain this week! This is unusual for May in San Diego. But this afternoon, it was beautiful out and I had a lovely rollerblade outing.

This week, I was busy getting the next Annorlunda Books release posted for pre-orders. The ebook edition of Arctic Adagio, a near future mystery novelette by DJ Cockburn, is now available for pre-orders at all the usual places. The paperback edition will be available on release day, which is May 29.

In other publishing news, we found out that The Dodo Knight, the novella by Michelle Rene about the friendship between Louis Carroll and Alice Liddell, his muse for Alice in Wonderland, was a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. I love all the books I publish, so it is always great when one of them gets some recognition!

I don't have many non-Annorlunda links, because I was also busy at work and was finishing a book instead of reading articles in a lot of my free time. (Why Buddhism is True, by Robert Wright. I recommend it. It will show up in a book post over on my real name blog eventually.)

Here's what I have:

Josh Marshall sounds a compelling warning about the upcoming 2020 election.

I haven't had a chance to read this CityLab article about the link between urban beauty and economic growth, but it sounds really interesting. Maybe I'll get to read it this weekend!

In recommended listening: Ezra Klein's interview with historian Joanne Freeman about political violence in the period leading up to the Civil War was very interesting and thought-provoking. (Yes, I'm listening to a lot of Ezra Klein interviews right now - his show is one of the ones I can get directly in the Tesla. I need to spend some time searching what's available there to diversify my listening again!)

The case that turned the tide on abortion rights in Ireland has been on my mind a lot this week. I have thought since the day after the 2016 election that Roe v Wade will be overturned, and that in some states abortion will become essentially unavailable. We know what that will mean. Eventually, I think we will have a case that makes the news and mobilizes the moderate middle on abortion (polls show that the majority of Americans in every state are opposed to laws as extreme as Alabama's new one, for instance). What haunts me is the question of how many women will die before there is a story that is sympathetic enough to enough people to turn that tide. One is too many.

This is a really good answer: