Friday, December 20, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Mostly not about Impeachment Edition

First, the most important news of the week: I finally got to go out for a rollerblade! OK, this is not really the most important news of the week, except for me. It is important for me because it made me feel so much better and less draggy. I need to make sure I get exercise more regularly even when my Friday afternoon rollerblade can't happen.

The actual most important news of the week is probably the impeachment vote and the political wrangling about the trial in the Senate. But I'm only going to share one things about that: Jennifer Rubin's opinion piece about how Pelosi might play her hand next.

The rest of this post is going to be about other things.

First, I finally wrote up the story of our first Tesla road trip and the lessons it contained. It has a happy ending but waaay more time in Yuma than we would have liked! There is a lesson for us as individual electric car owners, but also a lesson for a society that really, really needs more people to choose electric cars and is not doing what it needs to do to encourage that.

Next, my "if you only read/listen to one thing this week" pick is Ezra Klein's interview with Saul Griffith, appropriately titled "How to solve climate change and make life more awesome." This was a really inspiring podcast, with useful advice about how to act individually (make the best decisions you can on the big energy usage pieces of your life: where to live relative to work, what kind of car to buy, how to heat your home) and don't sweat the small stuff. Instead, push for more visionary infrastructure decisions by society as a whole.

We need to replace our heater and that podcast finished convincing me that we need to replace it with an electric heat pump even if that is more expensive. Because we can afford it and that's the right thing to do. So, guess who's about to learn a lot about electric heat pumps? Feel free to drop relevant links in the comments!

This book sounds interesting!

I found this article about the vaping lung disease informative - it turns out there may have been cases as early as 2017.

I think this is an insightful tweet:

At the time I saw this, my YA title would have been "A Lego set of groceries and exhaustion" which is honestly felt about right.


That's all I have this week. It is still the busy holiday season, after all. Have a good weekend everyone!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Very Hectic Season Edition

I didn't intend to take two weeks off from posting here! I also have a post about our first long roadtrip with the Tesla that is probably 75% written. It will go up over on Adjusted Latitudes... when I get it finished.

But time to write has been in short supply. This is a very hectic time of year, both at home (we haven't even started sending out Christmas cards yet....) and at work. I now work for a company that sells software to other companies, and all of my customers have end of year goals, remnants of 2019 budget to spend, planning for 2020 projects to do... so I am extra busy trying to get everyone what they need. I had a cold at the start of the week (thanks, Petunia!) and worked from home on Monday thinking I'd take it easy and maybe work a reduced day. Instead, I sat down at my computer at 7:30 and worked through until 4:30.

Anyway, I didn't want to let another week go by without at least saying "hi," but I don't have a lot of time for a post and I didn't have a lot of time to read things... so this isn't a long list this week. Maybe next week I'll at least finish my post about our road trip!

If you read only one thing, read Dahlia Lithwick on speaking truth to nonsense.

I really like this essay about how we need to redesign life for longer life spans.

How to cut solo car commutes: charge for parking by the day.

I read this article about the zero-waste movement and... yikes. I'm not sure what I think, other than that more people should adopt my mantra of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

If Jane Austen got feedback from a guy in a writing workshop.

In recommended listening:

I really enjoyed Ezra Klein's interview with linguist Gretchen McCulloch about her book "Because Internet" - I've had the book on my "to read" list for awhile and this podcast just reinforced that.

And my representative, Scott Peters, was on The Weeds talking about his bill to encourage more housing near transit.


Herd of bunnies!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Weekend Reading: Thank Goodness for Time Off Edition

San Diego Unified takes the entire week of Thanksgiving off from school, and this year, I have decided to take the entire week off from work. I have just wrapped up work for the week and am now looking forward to an entire week off. I really need this break!

I started shifting into break mode with a really nice, if somewhat windy, rollerblade. It was my first outing of the season in long sleeves. We may even need to turn our heater on before too long. In preparation for that, we had the heater serviced and discovered that it is pretty much at the end of its life and we should replace it soon. It isn't dangerous, just increasingly inefficient. SIGH. There goes another chunk of money.

Anyway, on to the links. I don't have many, because I have been really busy at work and at home (hence the need for the break).

I found this interesting: a note from a TPM reader about the advantages of going ahead to the Senate trial without getting House testimony from the reluctant witnesses.

Good job, Seattle!  They saw the largest drop in single occupancy car commutes in the nation. I wish San Diego had done better on this metric!

Gretchen McCulloch's series on Weird Internet Careers looks really interesting and I hope to read all of it next week. I have only read the first post so far.

If you haven't listened to this clip of Dr. Hill at the impeachment hearings, you should listen now. It is very good:

In recommended listening:

Ezra Klein's interview with Elizabeth  Currid-Halkett about class and group membership was really good and thought-provoking.

Here is an awarding winning photo of bunnies!

And here's another bunny:

Happy weekend, everyone! I won't be posting links next week because of the holiday. I don't know if I'll manage to post something else since I won't be working. We'll see!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Weekend Reading: A Low Level Whine Edition

The Komen Three Day walk is this weekend in San Diego, so my usual rollerblading route was blocked off. I tried a new spot which was... not as a good. It wasn't even as good as my usual fallback spot, but I thought I'd try a new place because my usual fallback spot isn't great. Oh well.

I also lost two whole evenings this week due to a migraine. I went down with a migraine Wednesday after dinner (I was in bed before 8!) and I had the post-migraine fog Thursday. I made it through my work day, but wasn't up for much more.

I was supposed to be submitting some ads for the latest Annorlunda release! I'll do that this weekend. But you can buy the release now! The Boy Who Was Mistaken for a Fairy King came out on Wednesday. Here's a nice review at Tangent Online, and a nice (but spoiler-filled!) review from Fill Your Bookshelf. There are also some good reviews on the Goodreads page. You can get yourself a copy at the usual spots:
In other news:

My local bookstore is at risk of closing. Pumpkin is taking this news particularly hard and thinks I should buy it. I do not think I have the sort of cash needed to buy it! I hope someone who does have that sort of cash steps in and saves Mysterious Galaxy. It is a great store.

This article about what happens in small Texas towns when the local hospital closes is sad and infuriating. Medicaid expansion would help save those hospitals (among many other benefits).

I am somewhat tempted to go searching for crested saguaros after reading this article.

Josh Marshall's post on how the collusion never stopped - the GOP just got on board - is worth your time.

Once I saw a picture of Tufty the Triangular, how could I pick any other bunny for this week?

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, November 08, 2019

Weekend Reading: The I Don't Really Have Time to Write This Edition

Ooph, I've had a week. I've got a big project milestone coming up and there have been lots of issues to work through ahead of that. On top of that, I have been super tired. I don't know if it is the time change or if I'm not sleeping well for some reason (asthma? hormones? who knows?) but I've been exhausted in the evenings. Of course, we had our school's Dia de los Muertos festival on Wednesday and Petunia wanted to work on robotics stuff other nights... so as much as I wished I could spend my evenings crashed on the sofa, I didn't get to.

I'm only on temporary break from work tonight, too - I'm monitoring the project right now, will take a break to go get my kids and make dinner, and then will get back online. So this post might be a little more terse than usual.

I did get out for my rollerblade today. I thought work might prevent me from going out, but there was enough of a lull that I decided to go out. I had to handle one work call about 2/3 of the way through, but it was still a nice outing. I'm glad I made it out.

Anyway, on to the links.

I have two local stories to share. First, our local paper reported on a rise in smuggling by ocean, which is honestly not a surprise. The existence of our big coastline is one of many reasons I think the border wall is a waste of money.

Second, remember the transit survey I shared earlier? There was an article about the feedback they're receiving via the survey.

Josh Marshall's post about how we should describe the President's crimesis worth your time.

I found this article about the policy opinions of undecided voters in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania really interesting.

This ProPublica article about Anna, IL, and its inability to shake its past as a sundown town, is really good.

A health insurer is giving some people apartments because it makes their healthcare cheaper. I think this is a good program, but reading about making decisions about who gets a home based on whether it will "pay off" for the insurer is a bit rough. In the end, I think the existence of this program is an indictment on how we've organized our society.

In recommended listening: I found Ezra Klein's conversation with Michael Lind really interesting and thought-provoking.

This whole thing is perfect - the embedded video and Inslee's reaction to it:

Honestly, the inter-generational warfare on Twitter is getting very annoying. There are people working for solutions in every generation, and every generation has faced challenges. I wish we'd start learning from each others' perspectives and experiences instead of screaming at each other online.


Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, November 01, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Is This a Cold or Not Edition

I may or may not still be fighting off the cold my older daughter caught at school. It never bothered her much, so maybe it just isn't a very bad cold. I don't know. I'm feeling run down and my nose is a little runny - but I also let my nose spray allergy medicine run out, so who knows.

I still went out for my rollerblade and am glad I did, but now I just want to lie down and not do much.

So this won't be a very long post tonight!

But I wanted to share this fabulous piece by Dahlia Lithwick about why she hasn't been back to the Supreme Court since Kavanaugh took his seat. And when I say "fabulous" I mean in it really captures some of the despair I feel in this historical moment as a woman, which is not "fabulous" at all, but the ability to articulate it is.

Continuing on in that theme a bit... here's another Slate piece that's really worth your time, about the bad faith of the people who took Rep. Katie Hill down.

This article about the new cystic fibrosis drug treatment is a reminder of the good that pharmas and biotechs do. We can - and should - critique the bad aspects of some pharma company practices. But we shouldn't lose sight of the benefits the industry brings.

This article about the effects of traumatic brain injury is beautifully written and haunting.

In recommended listening, I have two podcasts about the environment.

First, Matt Yglesias' discussion with Gretchen Goldman about clean air and particulates is really good and I learned a lot from it. I firmly believe that someday people are going to look back at the fact that we drive around in these machines that basically emit poison into the air we all breathe and feel sorry for us and our ignorance.

Second, Ezra Klein had an excellent interview about climate change with Kate Marvel that was sobering but also inspiring.

Sleepy bunny!

Happy weekend, everyone.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Thoughts about Transportation

A friend sent me a link to this nifty website San Diego's transit system is using to collect public feedback about how it should spend money allocated for transit improvements. You get 1000 "coin" and you allocate them to different projects, which all cost different amounts. I spent a little time reading about the options and the pros and cons for each and made an allocation - but I didn't submit it yet. I want to think about it a little more and maybe read up on some of the options. Any transit nerds out there who want to tell me what they think about any of the options are welcome to do so in the comments!


I am still enjoying driving the Tesla. We're planning to drive it over to Arizona for a visit soon. I'll report back in about how we find that experience. The drive over will be no problem: there are superchargers at all three spots we've been known to stop to break up the drive. I'll be interested to see how we find the experience of keeping it charged up for city driving (and a side trip we have planned) without our home charging set up.

I can definitely say that if you're considering an electric car as a commuting car - GO FOR IT. You won't miss stopping for gas! And even with a car with a relatively short range (e.g., ~120-150 miles), I think you'll get past range anxiety pretty quickly. Once you get in the habit of plugging in your car at night, you realize that 100+ miles range is actually pretty huge. I only plug in the Tesla every third night or so, and even that is only because we want to keep the charging in the "super off peak" hours. Our Tesla has a 300 mile range, but for daily use we only charge to about 260 miles. When I charge after three days I am almost never below 100 miles, and am usually at about 120-150 miles.


Speaking of the Tesla, a funny/annoying thing happened on my way back from my beach walk on Friday. I was driving out of Pacific Beach at about 4 p.m., so there was a fair amount of traffic. The main road out of PB does not have a high speed limit, and there were enough other cars around that no one was going much over the speed limit. At one point, I notice a big black truck riding my tail. It had raised tires and sometimes those higher vehicles tailgate almost by accident - they can easily see over a little car like mine, so there's a tendency to creep up. But this guy was driving somewhat aggressively and was clearly antsy. I couldn't really have gone faster even if I'd wanted to, so I assumed he just hated traffic and ignored him.

But then, when we got to the freeway on ramp, he aggressively pulled around me to get into the carpool lane ahead of me (I've got my clean air stickers, and leaving PB on a Friday afternoon is just about the only time I use them).

As he passed me, I saw the sticker in his window. It said "F*** your hybrid."

So I guess he was extra-pissed to be stuck in traffic behind an electric car.

I have never wanted to use the Tesla's rocket car acceleration as much as I did right then. It would have been delicious to zoom past him... but it wouldn't have been safe in so much traffic, so I didn't try.

I really, really don't get the mindset of guys like that. Fine, drive your big, gas-guzzling, jacked up truck. I don't know - maybe you have a reason you need it. I don't drive around judging other people's car choices. But why put a sticker on your car like that? That's telling me that you are an asshole, and also makes me suspect that your asseholeishness is the only reason you "need" that jacked up truck. People like that make me wish there really was some giant cosmic counter tallying up points to determine where we'll spend eternity.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Shorter Than You'd Think Edition

We're having really dry, hot, windy weather here: Fire weather. I don't mind the dry heat, really, but I hate the wind and the threat of fire, even though that threat is mainly in the more inland parts of my county. So far, the brush fires that have broken out in San Diego today (three, by my count) seem to have been quickly contained. People north of us have not been so lucky.

The biggest direct impact to me of the weather was that I decided it wasn't good rollerblading weather and went for a walk on the beach, instead. Hardly a hardship! The beach was beautiful and I'm glad I went.

Anyway, let's get to the links.

First, I'm running a free promo for the ebook of The Dodo Knight, by Michelle Rene. Go grab a copy from your favorite ebook source - and if you do, please come back later and leave a review! Getting more reviews is one big reason to run a free promo. This is an experiment for me, to see if a free promo can be a useful tool for eventually driving more paid sales. We'll see how it goes.

Next: I posted a new Where in the World at Adjusted Latitudes. Can you guess where that fish lives?

Now, for my other links. You'd think I'd have more after two weeks, but I've been really busy and not reading much. 

David Roberts at Vox tackled the California public safety power outage issue, and his posts about these blackouts and the potential ways to improve the situation are a good introduction to the issue. As I type, it looks like a PG&E transmission line was the cause of the Kincade fire.

I, for one, will be perfectly happy to have earthquake spoilers delivered to my phone. (Note to self: you still need to download that app....)

Here's a write up of  a really interesting study about how to make teen girls' social media feeds more nourishing. Really, I think it is good advice for all of us.

In recommended listening:

Krista Tippet's interview with David Truer about the Ojibwe language is wonderful.

Matt Yglesias' interview with Ian Millhiser about the courts is also really good.

I haven't decided who I support in the Democratic primary, and I won't really even try until much closer to the California primary. But I love the tweets from people excited to get a call from Elizabeth Warren - even famous people get excited!

I think this is cool and wonderful:

And of course, here are some bunnies:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Thinking about Climate Adaptation Edition

I had a particularly good rollerblade today. I made a conscious decision that when people stopped unexpectedly in front of me, rode their bikes down the middle of the path instead of keeping right, and generally just were oblivious to the other people on the path I would slow down or stop, cheerfully say "no worries!" when they looked up in surprise at the existence of another person using the public path, and continue on my way. I would not grumble or grit my teeth, I would be cheerful! And it worked. I was genuinely not annoyed. There's a life lesson in there for me if I care to take it, I suppose.

Anyway, on to the links.

As usual, I assume you can find your impeachment news on your own, and I'm focusing on other things.

Badmomgoodmom sent me a link to the article I've been wanting to read about the blackouts up north. SDG&E has been doing public safety blackouts for several years, and I was wondering why none of the ones down here have ever been such big news. This LA Times article explains: SDG&E is just better at handling the hot, dry, windy weather conditions that cause such high fire risk and prompt public safety blackouts. They have upgraded the infrastructure to be less risky and to have more microgrids so blackouts can be more targeted. This is no doubt due at least in part to the fact that we had big, devastating fires a decade ago, and so SDG&E is ahead of PG&E in adjusting to this reality. I suspect it is also due to some good planning by some people within SDG&E, and I'd love to read their stories.

Watching the news from up north has made me adjust how I think about the solar panels we want to get, though. I had been thinking of them mostly as a "good climate citizen" thing to do, with the potential to save money down the road. Now I am also thinking of them as a climate change adaptation. We wanted to get them this year to take advantage of the tax rebate, but aren't sure we'll have the cash we need. That was the downside of buying the more expensive car! But on the other hand, we're going to drive that car to Arizona for Thanksgiving and that is not something we could do with one of the cheaper electric cars.

In somewhat related news... here's a write up from a chemist about this year's Nobel prize in chemistry, which was for Lithium ion batteries. If you're curious why this was such a big improvement over previous battery chemistry, check out this post.

Updated to add: I meant to include a link to this NY Times interactive graphic about the change auto emissions since 1990. Enter your metro area and see how you've done. San Diego did so-so - emissions per person up 5% since 1990. LA did better: emissions per person down 2% since 1990. But compare us to Phoenix: emissions per person up a whopping 86% per person since 1990!

This article about how San Diego is changing its scooter regulations was interesting. I have noticed an improvement, both in terms of not having to step over scooters when I'm walking around and in terms of not having to deal with rude scooter riders when I'm out rollerblading. I'd say that if the scooter companies can't make things work here, they're in trouble. Our civic leaders have mostly been pretty welcoming of scooters, and looking for ways to make it work.

I found Jim Hines' post about adjusting to being widowed deeply moving.

In recommended listening: Ezra Klein's conversation with former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy about loneliness was really good and thought-provoking. One thing it made me think about was how the sort of changes to cities that some urbanists and climate activists want - like more walkable cities and  the superblocks in Barcelona - might have impacts on health in more ways than we might expect, by making our cities feel more like communities.

This made me happy to see. Good for World Center Kitchen:
This is awesome.
 I know my husband has shown me the original video but I can't remember what the song is. If I can find it again I'll update this post or put it in the comments.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Lingering Effects of Fevers

Petunia turned 10 last week. Both my kids are in the double digits now, and in most ways the intense years when we had babies and toddlers about the house seem very distant.

This week, Petunia got sick, and those early years seemed much closer. For my newer readers, when she was a baby and a toddler, Petunia often got unexplained fevers. They'd usually last for three days, and she was pathetically miserable for those days, wanting mainly to be cuddled while she watched TV or slept.

She saw a bunch of specialists. We had tests to rule out cancer and cystic fibrosis and rare infections. In the end, the diagnosis was the equivalent of a shrug and "eh, that's just the way she is." And that diagnosis was right. As she got older, it became clear that she just has a stronger reaction to minor infections. I started to notice that often when she'd get one of her 3-day fevers, I'd lose my voice. Neither Pumpkin nor Mr. Snarky would show any sign of illness. My hypothesis is that there is something different about Petunia's immune system - perhaps a stronger innate response (your innate immune response is what causes you to spike a fever when you're fighting off a bug), and that whatever that difference is, she inherited it from me.

Sunday night, Petunia was complaining that her stomach felt weird. We thought maybe she'd done too many cartwheels in the backyard too soon after dinner, and sent her to bed with our fingers crossed. Monday morning, it was clear she was sick, but also clear that although her stomach hurt, it wasn't a stomach bug (phew). She stayed home for the day with my parents, who were in town for her birthday. By Monday evening, I had a better understanding of what she meant when she said her tummy hurt - because mine felt a little weird, too. So I stayed home with Petunia on Tuesday. Sadly, I spent most of the day working and not cuddling her on the sofa like she wanted me to.

Petunia's back to normal now. She woke up Wednesday morning feeling fine. I, on the other hand, am still feeling a bit worn out. Perhaps I should have blown off work and cuddled on the sofa on Tuesday.  If I had, I'd have had much rougher days yesterday and today, so I still think I made the right choice overall. But I find myself thinking back to the old days, when I'd sit on the sofa with Petunia's little feet pushed into my side while she watched Cinderella and my laptop balanced on my lap as I tried to work. It is objectively better now - I don't have a gnawing worry about what the fever means, for instance - but those were sweet times in their own way.

Next week, I'll get another chance to reflect on the legacy of those early fevers. Petunia had to have her blood drawn frequently when we were ruling out scary things like cancer, and she developed an unusually strong hatred of needles and shots. We had just about gotten her back to normal child levels of shot hatred when Pumpkin started fainting when she got shots. Pumpkin has never minded shots, but she hates fainting and so has started worrying about shots.  She'll still get them, but she complains and insists I bring our own stash of sugar to revive her if she faints, because doctor's offices always offer orange juice and she hates orange juice. The fainting really freaked out Petunia, too, and she's back to panicking at the mention of shots. So the yearly flu shot is a struggle. This year, I heard that FluMist is approved for pediatric use again. My kids could get their shots, but it will be so much easier to get them FluMist. We've got appointments for next week. I, on the other hand, got my flu shot yesterday. I have to say, it is a much nicer experience without two whining children in tow!

Friday, October 04, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Oops I Don't Have Many Links Edition

Another Friday, another great rollerblade outing... this really is a wonderful time of year here.

Petunia's birthday was this week, so I've been busy with celebrations and visiting family. I went to my Feedly board where I save interesting links to share and found nothing! That is probably a reflection of less time reading articles in general, but I've also spent a lot of my article reading time catching up on the impeachment news, and I don't think I need to share that kind of article. If I find a particularly interesting or insightful analysis, I'll share it but I'm sure you are all capable of keeping up on the news on your own!

But I did write up the Cape Breton leg of our vacation, so that's something.

And luckily, I did have a few links saved in my Twitter favorites:

This article about how reflective pavements may cool cities but make pedestrians feel hotter is interesting.

Could we move to a four day work week?

And I had to drive to work, so I have some recommended listening: I thought Ezra Klein's conversation with Danielle Allen about democracy was really interesting and useful.

Here's your weekly bunny:

Happy weekend everyone!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Weekend Reading: The Only a Few Links about Impeachment Edition

It was another wonderful rollerblading outing today. If it weren't for the fact that my allergies get off the charts terrible in September, I'd say that September is my favorite month in San Diego. Stupid allergies.

Anyway, let's have some links! I'm going to assume that you have all the impeachment-related reading you want and not share a bunch of that sort of link. However, I thought this profile of Nancy Pelosi and her impeachment thought process was really good.

I also agree with Josh Marshall's assessment that Trump's entire team is up to the eyeballs in this scandal. Sadly, I suspect a lot of them will weasel out of any consequences. We'll see.

In other politics news, this David Roberts piece about the clash between what must happen on climate and what can happen in our current political moment is really sobering, but I also like his point about how they way things are is quite brittle, and we might see things fracture unexpectedly.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a couple of articles and said they explain a lot about why I'm back to full time employee status. Here's another along those same lines, about how Amazon is up-prioritizing ads. I've seen this behind the scenes, too - other ways of promoting my books are slowly going away, and I feel like I'm being funneled to use Amazon ads. I am increasingly of the opinion that the only people who reliably make money in the platform economy are the platform owners. There are some scammy bad actors who have figured out how to game algorithms, and they make money for awhile, until the platform owners catch on and change the rules. And there are a few honest folk who get lucky and hit on something the algorithms like and so do well. Mostly, though, the money flows to the platform owners.

If you want a little bit of insight into the frustrations of the drug discovery and development industry, Derek Lowe has an excellent post about a drug candidate that just failed.

Some recommended listening: I listened to both Ezra Klein's interview with Daniel Markovits about the problems with meritocracy and Matt Yglesias' interview with Binyamin Applebaum about the limitations of economics as the primary driver for policy. Those two interviews really got me thinking! I think some of my thoughts about them might show up in this month's Management Monthly. I'm not holding out on you - the thoughts aren't fully coherent yet! We'll see if I can get them to cohere this weekend in time to go in the newsletter.

I love this:

Here's your weekly bunny:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

And Here We Go

So, we're going to get an impeachment inquiry with the full weight of the Democratic House leadership behind it. Good. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the whistleblower who set this chain of events in motion, but also to all of the people who worked hard to make sure we had a Democratic House right now, the activists who pushed for this outcome, and the House members in vulnerable seats who spoke up to help clear the way, among them seven freshmen members with national security and defense backgrounds whose op-ed seemed to be the final crack in the anti-impeachment wall.

We have so much further to go, and so much more work to do. Whatever happens with the impeachment inquiry, we need to keep working towards winning the 2020 Presidential election. And even before that, there are the 2019 elections, which include some important state contests, the outcome of which will determine how Congressional districts are drawn after next year's census.

There is a rot in our system. In a healthy system, a person as unfit to be president as Donald Trump would not have won the office, and having done so, would have faced much harsher Congressional oversight from the start. In a healthy system, policies favored by large majorities of the American people - background checks on all gun salespromoting clean energy, expanding access to public health insurance, for instance - would be able to at least come to a vote in the Senate. In a healthy system, people wouldn't die because they cannot afford their insulin and no one would have to declare bankruptcy due to medical bills. In a healthy system, my kids wouldn't have to do lock down drills. In a healthy system, we would be treating climate change as the emergency it is.

I believe this presidency is a symptom of the rot, and an accelerant of it, but not the ultimate cause. To be honest, I don't know what the ultimate cause is and suspect it may not be knowable in our time. We are too caught up in the system to see it clearly and any diagnoses we make will be filtered through our partisan lenses. But I do know that politicians from one party are standing in the way of the policies Americans want, and they are standing in the way of the progress on climate that the world needs. I don't need to know why that is the case to work to get those politicians out of power.

I am glad the impeachment inquiry will happen. It is a necessary step to check the ambitions of a president who refuses to be bound by the law. But I am going to try to follow it lightly and keep my focus on the work I think needs to be done to put our country, and our planet, on a better path for my children's generation.

In other words, I'll be writing postcards, finding campaigns and organizations who need my money, and keeping my eye out for other things I can do to try to fix this mess that we find ourselves in. I owe it to my kids.

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  kฤkฤpล!

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!