Saturday, May 08, 2021

Weekend Reading: Still Too Busy Edition

I am still way too busy, but I guess work is a little better this week. I don't have to work this weekend, although I did have to log back on after dinner both last night and Thursday night. I think the bigger problem is that I have too many things to remember and too many things to juggle. I always feel like I'm behind and/or about to forget something. This is happening despite my many methods to organize my projects and my own tasks and years and years of experience managing multiple projects and competing priorities. I don't think the problem is me or my methods. I think the problem is too much work!

But let's not dwell on that this weekend, since I sacrificed two evening this week to keep the weekend clear.

Let's see what links I have instead.

First, in semi-self promotion: I'll be running a free promo on The Inconvenient God, by Francesca Forrest. It is currently free on Kobo,, and iBooks and will be free on Amazon once they price match. The point of the promo is two-fold: to get new readers hooked on the wonderful Tales of the Polity series (Lagoonfire is the next book), and to boos the book in the retailer algorithms. If you want to help with the latter, downloads from Amazon on May 13 or 14 are probably the most helpful. But regardless of that, if you haven't tried these books yet, now is a great time! I love the world Forrest builds in these two books and I love her main character. I think you will, too.

In other links:

You probably heard about the baby being born on a flight to Hawaii. Read the full story and think about how lucky that woman and her baby were in who was also on the flight.

Here's a nice post on the power of a good walk.

Here's a good post on office culture and who builds it and at what cost.

Here's a knowledgeable writeup on the COVID vaccine patent waiver. My opinion is it probably won't matter as much as either its proponents or its critics think. If we want to get more vaccines to the people around the world, we should focus on expanding manufacturing capacity. The patent waiver is at best a first step there and the later steps are far more constrained by availability of people with the right knowledge, manufacturing plants with the right equipment, and the necessary starting materials. Hopefully, we are also working on solving those problems and actually getting more vaccine made.

I also don't think this is going to end up hurting the drug companies, at least in the short term. They'll still sell all the vaccine doses they can make. Will it change the debate around drug pricing in the long term? I doubt it. I keep seeing people say "now lets do insulin!" and here's the thing.... Insulin is already off patent. The sequence of insulin is public domain knowledge and has been for decades. Even Humalog, the more modern formulation of insulin, has been off patent since 2014. Here's an old PBS story about it.  So it isn't clear to me what "now lets do insulin" even means. To me, this looks like yet another round of uninformed online shouting about a complex problem that does nothing to actually solve said problem and just makes people feel good about bashing "big pharma." I'd much rather we solve the problem.

In recommended listening: I enjoyed Krista Tippets short interview with Tiffany Shlain about the idea of a "tech shabbat."

Look at these beautiful birds:

Here are your bunnies for the week:

And that's all I have this week. Have a good weekend!

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Too Much Work Edition

This post is late this weekend because my regular work spilled into the weekend. I decided to take care of the items on my work list this morning so that they wouldn't be hanging over me all weekend. I used my old trick of having an "only do" list on a sticky note to keep my work from taking over my day and was done with it before lunch. I think I'll write about my "only do" list trick in this month's Management Monthly newsletter (yes, I'm still writing that; no, I don't really know why - but when I think about shutting it down I don't really like that idea, so I keep it going). I should theoretically write that post in my Sunday morning writing time tomorrow. We'll see if that happens or if it ends up being a week late!

Work spilled into my weekend because it has been really busy lately. I am burning out and it is the weirdest thing to feel the burn out coming and not be able to stop it. Almost a year ago, I realized that if I didn't change some things about my job, I would burn out. So I talked to my boss and we got permission for my job to change and I was really happy about that - but then we got hit with a veritable tsunami of projects and we've lost two other project managers and haven't been able to find good replacements yet and so my happy job changes have been put on hold. We have some good leads on potential new hires and I am hoping that works out and that my job can be salvaged. There are a lot of good things about my company and my job and I don't really want to go try to find another job. But the clock is ticking. Or maybe I should say the fuse is burning? I don't know what the most appropriate metaphor is. I just know that there will come a point after which I will be well and truly burned out and that is very hard to come back from without a job change.

Meanwhile, case numbers are down and I'm fully vaccinated... but the pandemic is still not over, particularly for those of us with kids too young to be vaccinated. Risks still need to be assessed and mitigated, life is still not back to "normal." People talk about hitting a pandemic wall and I think that one of the things that has been hard about parenting in this past year has been that our kids are hitting pandemic walls, too, and you have to help them through it no matter how flattened into your own pandemic wall you feel. 

Anyhow, enough whinging about why I am so wiped out. Let's see what I have in the way of links. 

Jessica Valenti's post on the fears of raising a daughter is really good. I haven't brought myself to read all that much about Blake Bailey, but I did read Rebecca Traister's piece and it is very good.

This is an interesting article about one of LA's new tiny home villages

The story of the successful changes at the Newark police department is encouraging.

This is an interesting kickstarter campaign for a new company that is going to make hiking pants for women sizes 14 and up.

I really enjoyed Krista Tippet's interview with Layli Long Soldier and would like to get her book of poetry WHEREAS.

This juxtaposition of images gave me chills (in a good way).

This is brilliant:

Quokkas are just so ridiculously happy looking:

And look at this adorable hamster:

Here are your bunnies of the week:

Happy weekend!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Weird Week Edition

This hasn't been a great week. Sunday night, I started feeling really, really tired. But that's how this year has been right? We're all exhausted. So I assumed I just needed to get more sleep and trudged through my work days. Tuesday, I was so tired that I wanted to go back to bed by 10 a.m. I thought I was a little better on Wednesday, but by the evening I was wiped out again. Thursday, I didn't have any early meetings so I thought I'd try going back to bed for a couple of hours after helping my kids get ready for school. I woke up two hours later feeling even worse, and knew I had to call the doctor.

The virtual urgent care line told me to go to the actual urgent care. I got there to discover that if you have any sort of cough (and I always do - that is my main asthma symptom) you will be routed to the pulmonary clinic and you will wait longer. And then they will insist on a covid test (it came back negative the next day) and a chest x-ray (all clear) before, two hours after you came to urgent care, they have you pee in a cup and discover that you have a UTI.

Now, you may be wondering how I didn't already KNOW I had a UTI. For most people, the symptoms are unmistakeable. But ever since I had Pumpkin, I don't get the usual symptoms. Fatigue is my primary symptom. Once I figured out what was going on, it was obvious in retrospect - I'd had some weird pain in my upper thigh and my lower back hurt. I'd put that down to having been less active than normal because my asthma was flaring (allergy season!) and trying to exercise triggers my cough and being out in public with a cough right now is not fun. But lower back pain is where I feel a UTI these days. Also, since my asthma had been so bad, I'd added a second allergy medicine into my daily routine and that has in the past led to a UTI. So, all the signs were there if I'd been willing to receive them, but I assumed it was pandemic fatigue or a weird late side effect of the vaccine (by the way, I'm fully vaccinated now! Woo hoo!) and didn't take my symptoms seriously.

Anyway, antibiotics are clearing up the infection and I feel better now.  I am posting these details in part as a PSA to remind people that (1) not everything is just pandemic fatigue, and (2) giving birth can rewire your nerve pathways and your UTI symptoms might be different! Before I understood this I once let a UTI go untreated for so long that I ended up with a fever of 104 before I went to urgent care.

Thursday was also my wedding anniversary. It was so romantic to spend it in urgent care! Ha. We postponed celebrations because I was still not feeling great Thursday night so my husband gave me my anniversary gift last night. It is a bejeweled Baby Yoda necklace in a light up box and it is both ridiculous and the perfect gift for this year, when watching the Mandalorian was part of what helped me through.

OK, so on to the links. 

This essay on Republican's delicate feelings by Paul Waldman is a good expression of the situation we are in now. We are at the point of our vaccination campaign where we need to start reaching the less enthusiastic. Some of that will be about making access easier (i.e., moving to walk in clinics instead of appointments), but some of that is going to involve figuring out how to reach those among the "vaccine hesitant" who can be reached, and as Waldman says, we will need reach more Republican men, even if it seems ridiculous to have to beg people to take a vaccine that can save their life.

I haven't been reading the slew of articles on whether or not we can do away with outdoor masks. We probably can, but the framing has been annoying me. There are still a lot of unvaccinated people out there - including ALL children under the age of 16. Kids are less likely to get severely ill, but some do get quite sick and some die. And we don't have any idea if kids are likely to end up with long covid symptoms. I am not interested in rolling the dice on this for my kids and could we all, just once in this pandemic, make a decision that actually considers our children? 

Until the vaccine is available to children or enough adults get vaccinated to drive our case numbers way down, I want adults to be willing to make some small sacrifices to keep the kids safe - like wearing masks.

Moving on...

This is a very good piece on the status of the Novavax vaccine, but also on why "just release the vaccines from patent protection" won't actually help. You need tech transfer to bring new manufacturing sites online and if it has been hard for Novavax it will be even harder for the mRNA vaccines which use novel technology. I very much want the US to start helping get vaccines to the rest of the world but we need to be realistic about what that means and what can actually be done quickly.

This thread of fake New Yorker covers is beautiful.

Read Monica Hesse on the scandal with the Phillip Roth biography and biographer. I am so tired of being told to appreciate the genius of terrible men and I wish we'd think a little more about the damage it does to hold misogynistic books up as examples of great writing. Can it really be great writing if the author so completely fails to understand the humanity of half of humans?

This article about a young woman's struggle to get her physical symptoms taken seriously is heartbreaking.

Don't "wischcycle."

Here's a nice piece from David Roberts about some good news on the reducing carbon emissions front.

And now for things that made me smile:

Quokkas. Quokkas make me smile every time I see a picture of one. 

This picture.

OMG this would be amazing to see. I'd be jumping up and down, too.

And here's your bunny for the week

Happy weekend, everyone! 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Weekend Reading: Another Two Week Edition

So... another two weeks in one edition. Once again, I didn't mean to skip last week's post, I just didn't get to it.  Work has been super busy, and the kids started back to school this week. They go on campus for about 5.5 hours four days per week. There is a form to fill out every morning and we had to get back in the routine of packing lunches. There was one pleasant surprise, though. In the year at home, the kids have gotten a bit more self-sufficient and now they mostly pack their own lunches. Still, our morning routines needed to change a bit.

On top of that, I was completely flattened last Sunday with the side effects of my second COVID vaccine, and was still not feeling great on Monday. I had to work on Monday - see the earlier note about work being super busy - and by Tuesday I was back to normal. But it was a rough week.

Anyway, none of that is particularly terrible and in fact much of it is good. I am one week away from full vaccination status! My kids went back to school for the first time in 13 months and they liked it! But it has all just been a lot and my one week vacation seems very far in the past now even though it was only a couple of weeks ago.

I don't know how many links I have for you and I suspect the ones I have aren't particularly on topic for the current news... but I'll go through my lists and see what I find!

This piece about how our apps won't let us forget is really interesting.

In recommended listening: 

Ezra Klein's interview with Tressie McMillan Cottom is excellent and too hard to summarize but so good that I will probably listen to it again.

Krista Tippet's interview with Bryan Doerries about holding conversations with classic Greek plays and modern audiences is really interesting.

In things that made me smile:

Vice President Harris is a crocheter! 

Producer So Wylie's bird beats are fun.

This bird:

This ongoing thread from a reporter who is walking from DC to NYC is really cool.

And that's all I have. I guess it really has been a busy couple of weeks!

Here are your bunnies for the week:

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Two Weeks in One Edition

I didn't intend to skip last week's post, I just didn't get around to writing it. I have been feeling pretty burned out, so I decided to take this week off. My kids were out of school for Spring Break and I decided to join them. Mr. Snarky also took a few days off, and we drove up to Idyllwild for a short getaway. It was a nice change of scene and we all wished we'd booked our rental cabin for a little longer. (I wrote a post about the trip over at Adjusted Latitutdes.)

We drove to Idyllwild on Sunday, and my Saturday filled up with getting ready for the trip. I'll include the few links I'd saved last week in this week's post.

My week off has been reasonably successful. I don't think I can aim for fully rejuvenated right now - I was just aiming for "able to continue on without disintegrating" and I think I got that. We'll see how I feel next week, when I'm back at work!

Anyway, here are the links I have for the past two weeks:

Poet Maggie Smith wrote a beautiful piece about how this spring feels as a parent. We have had the easiest possible pandemic parenting, I think. My kids' school is still fully remote (they head back for in person school 4 days a week starting on April 12), but they are old enough to mostly handle their Zoom classes on their own. We've had to interrupt our work days for some elementary math tutoring but not much else. Still, it has been an exhausting year as a parent for some obvious reasons and some reasons I'm still struggling to fully understand. I am sure this is part of why I've been feeling so burned out.

This Washington Post story about an assistant principal in Indio (a town near Palm Springs) searching for the kids missing from his school is heart-breaking.

And here is a post from a parent whose pandemic parenting has been on a much harder level than mine, with a reminder that grown ups getting their vaccines helps make in person school possible for all kids.

This article by volunteers who have been helping New Yorkers navigate the system for signing up for vaccinations is really worth your time and will help explain why uptake is slower than we'd like in some communities. I have been glad to see San Diego county opening some walk-in vaccination clinics focused on improving equity in vaccine access.

In happier vaccine news, I am so excited by the news that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is going to apply for an EUA for kids 12-15 years old. Petunia won't be 12 until October, but still... the end is in sight. 

You should read R. O. Kwon's letter to Asian-American women.

Here's David Roberts on all the good environment/climate-related stuff in Biden's infrastructure bill. (I can't tell if that is a subscribers only post or not... so sorry if you click through and can't read it!)

Speaking of climate.... California should cover its canals with solar panels. (So should Arizona and other hot, sunny states... the study was just done in California.)

Speaking of California.... I think this is an interesting idea for how to deal with our problem of homes threatened by rising seas.

This is an interesting article about some new research into when the Black Plague first infected a lot of people (spoiler: probably earlier than we thought).

If you've ever wondered how Febreeze works, this article is for you. It also mentions some other options for removing odors from the air.

In recommended listening:

Krista Tippett's interview with Christine Runyan on the impact of the pandemic and the need for distancing on our nervous systems.

Chris Hayes and Alec MacGillis discuss MacGillis' book about the impact of Amazon on our economy and our cities.

Some things that made me smile:

This picture from my new favorite timeline-cleansing account:

The pictures of Uluru in the rain are pretty cool.

As is this seal skin spacesuit made by Inuit artists.

I wanted to watch the TV adaptation of the wonderful China Miรฉville  book The City and The City but I do not want another subscription service, so we decided to tolerate ads. Which is how I learned about Brave Robot animal-free dairy ice cream and I am definitely going to find some and try it just because I am curious.

(Also, the TV show was good! Here is the trailer.)

Here is your rabbit for the week:

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Big Weekend Edition

This week, my county opened up vaccine availability to people with a list of medical conditions, including asthma. I took me a few days of trying, but I managed to get an appointment for a shot. I am getting my first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this afternoon. My husband doesn't qualify yet and obviously the kids are still unable to get vaccinated. 

We got an email yesterday with the details of our school's back to school plan. We'll have air purifiers that can replace the air every 12 minutes and windows will be open. Masks will be required. When the weather permits, lunch will be outdoors with kids six feet apart. The only thing I would have liked to see done differently is testing. Staff will be tested every two weeks and kids can optionally be tested for free every two weeks. I think more testing would be better, but oh well. Teachers will be teaching to the in person class and the online class at the same time, so kids will have to bring their computers to school everyday so that the kids at home can hear their questions, etc. I don't envy the teachers having to deal with the muting/unmuting but this seems like the best option. 

We have to make our binding decision this weekend. We are planning to let the kids go back to in person school. They both want to, even after reading the details of how it will be. 

And so, things will be changing around here. I am glad that I will be partially vaccinated before school starts. I wish my husband could be, too, but we think the school's plan is good enough that we can allow the kids back, anyway. 

It is so surreal to be sitting here in a county in which vaccinations are limited by supply and read about places like Alaska and Mississippi that have opened vaccinations to all residents over 16 due to lack of demand. We have a long road ahead with a lot of different obstacles to navigate through to get to herd immunity. 

Meanwhile, some states are seeing rising cases again. There are worries about a new surge in Michigan, and the Washington Post's tracker has cases high in New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, too.

It is particularly distressing to see cases going up again now, when vaccines are available and we are so close to getting them to everyone. I am watching our local numbers nervously. We've moved to Calfiornia's "red tier" which allows for indoor dining at 25% capacity and some other indoor entertainment (like movie theaters) also at 25% capacity. I hope that non-vaccinated people still choose to do things outdoors as much as possible! Twice before we have gotten close to opening our schools only to have plans canceled by a surge in cases. I hope we don't do that again.

OK, on to some links:

This is a good summary of the concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe. Regulators have since allowed vaccinations to proceed. We don't know what caused the clotting issues in the affected patients but I can see why regulators were worried. I am particularly interested in the theory mentioned in the article that perhaps the affected people were already infected with COVID-19 - if that turns out to be a factor, it would at least give us a way to further reduce risk. 

Speaking of vaccines... this article about what messages helped sway vaccine hesitant Trump voters was interesting.

I haven't had a chance to read David Wallace-Wells' piece about how so many rich countries got things so wrong on COVID, but I hope to get to it this weekend. I think we really need to try to learn the lessons from this experience, not just for future outbreaks of novel viruses (which will surely come), but also for how we can get our governments to act on climate change.

Speaking of climate change... This is good news from Microsoft. Your move, other tech giants.

Adam Serwer's latest piece is really good and I'm failing to summarize it so just go read it.

Read about the victims in Atlanta. I have a long list of things I want to read from Asian Americans this weekend, to learn about how I can better support them right now. I will try to share some links on this next week.

Here are some things that made me smile this week:

I posted a new Where in the World quiz at Adjusted Latitutdes.


What a cool photo:

This story!

You really need to watch this video and be patient!

OMG the drone footage in this video is just stunning. I've enjoyed all of Patrick Dexter's cello videos but this may be my favorite.

More fun from Ireland:

And now for something ridiculous:

Here's your rabbit of the week:

Happy weekend, everyone!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Weekend Reading: Better, Not Great Edition

This week was decidedly better than last week. I learned something interesting from my bad week, though. I had been trying to post a daily "good thing" on my Instagram account as a way to remind myself to find things to appreciate each day. That fell by the wayside last week. It turns out, that what I need isn't a reminder to appreciate something each day. That only works on my good and so-so days. I need a repository of good things I can go to for a pick-me-up on my bad days. I scrolled back through my old Instagram pictures a bit, and that helped but it wasn't quite what I wanted/needed and now I am pondering what would be and if I could make it.

I am sure you've seen the new CDC guidance on what fully vaccinated people can do. It was good to hear President Biden say that he's going to direct states to make all adults vaccine eligible on May 1. We will get our vaccinations as soon as we can. Our kids go back to in person school on April 12, and so soon we will not be able to keep our family in its protective little bubble. We will have a few weeks between the end of our protection by isolation and protection by vaccination - and even then, the kids won't be able to be vaccinated until later. 

They are still projecting vaccines for ages 12 and up by fall. Petunia turns 12 in October. This summer - the summer that we are all hoping will be a bit more normal - depends so much on adults taking the vaccine when it is available to them. COVID-19 is usually milder in kids, but some kids do still get sick and some die. Our kids need us to protect them until the vaccines are ready for them. Unfortunately, based on our performance in this pandemic to date, I am not optimistic that arguing that adults should be vaccinated to help protect children will be a useful thing to do. I am glad to see the vaccine promotion campaigns ramping up and I hope they work.

Despite the increase in risk to those of us who are not vaccinated, I am glad in person school is starting. School from home has been OK for us, but it has taken a toll on all of us, especially Petunia. So we filled out our survey to choose the hybrid in person option San Diego Unified will be offering, even though we have no real details on what that will look like. I hope they plan to take advantage of the fact that by mid-April our weather is pretty uniformly nice and use the outdoors a lot. I know they are getting good advice (they have been working with some experts from UCSD) and so far, I think they have navigated through this pandemic reasonably well. So I will wait and see what the plans are and hope for the best.

Meanwhile, I decided the kids need better masks. I bought some KF94 masks for us to try out and I like them. They fit me and the kids well (Mr. Snarky hasn't tried them yet) and they offer more protection to the wearer than a cloth mask. Pumpkin and I both find that they don't fog our glasses. Pumpkin, who has a thin face, has to tie a knot in the earloops so that the mask fits, but with that small and easy modification it fits her fine. The advice I read suggested looking for an option made in Korea as a way to help protect against counterfeits. These are the ones I have. I've bought a few packs for the kids to use at school, and I sometimes use one for situations where I need to be inside and/or near people for more than a few minutes. Other times, I double mask, since I still have some procedure masks to use up. I am not sure what I'll do once I use up my current stash of procedure masks. 

Anyway, on to the links. Better doesn't necessarily mean that I had time to read a lot of things... but to be honest my memory for that sort of thing is hazy these days, so I'll just go through the various places where I store things to share with y'all and see what I find.

The Novavax trial readout is encouraging. The world needs more vaccine. 

The news that the latest Ebola outbreak seems to have originated with a survivor of the 2014-2016 outbreak is stunning and worrying.

New archeological finds about the O'odham peoples, who are native to the place I grew up.

Ezra Klein's conversation with Dr. Nadine Burke Harris about toxic stress in children is really good.

And things that made me smile:

This poem, Autobiography of Eve , by Ansel Elkens, which ends with:

Let it be known: I did not fall from grace.

I leapt
to freedom.

I like this sculpture:

I think I need to take a trip somewhere to see mumurations of starlings. I am fascinated by them.

Your rabbits of the week posing for their latest album cover:

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Weekend Reading: Running on Fumes Edition

I had a tough work week, which ended with a couple of particularly tough days. I mean what can you say about the work week when one of the better days is the day in which you had twelve meetings? So I think this will be a short post this week, both because I didn't have a chance to read many things so I don't have much content and because I am a bit wiped out by the week - but still have a long list of things to do this weekend, made longer by the fact that I didn't get much beyond work done during the week.

One good thing did happen this week, though! Lagoonfire, by Francesca Forrest came out. It is the second book in the Tales of the Polity series, but although it is obviously set in the same world as the first book, The Inconvenient God, and it shares the same protagonist, it really does stand on its own. In the world of the Polity, gods can retire and in fact there is a government bureaucracy to help them retire. Decommissioner Thirty-Seven works in that bureaucracy and takes her work seriously. But she also befriends some of the gods she has helped retire and so when one of them is suspected of causing trouble at a new development in his old haunts, she gets involved... and quickly finds herself facing a past she'd rather forget and possibly some trouble of her own. 

I love the world Forrest has built, and I love the character of Decommissioner Thirty-Seven. The manuscript for this was the first book I was able to really read after the stay at home order came just about a year ago. It pulled me in and let me forget about the problems of this world for a little while. I hope it will do the same for you!

Oh, and hey - there is a launch event TODAY for this book. Check it out!

In other good things, I posted a Something Splendid over at Adjusted Latitudes. It is a picture from the trip to Mexico we took roughly one year ago.

Now, let's see what links I have for you:

Derek Lowe has a good write-up of where we're at with vaccines. I would happily take any of the three vaccines approved here in the US. However, I won't have that option for awhile unless I decide to start hanging out at pharmacies at closing time, hoping to luck into a dose that would otherwise go to waste.

I think the Senate should get rid of the filibuster (listen to Adam Jentleson's interview on Chris Hayes' podcast for the history of the filibuster and also Jentleson's argument about how getting rid of it would actually encourage more bipartisanship than keeping it and that will give you my reasons for getting rid of it) but if Democrats in the Senate don't have the votes to eliminate it, maybe they can at least reform it.

As an aside - that podcast link is to YouTube which I had never seen before! But you can also find Chris Hayes' podcast at the usual podcast places.

I didn't read much, but I did listen to a few podcasts. I like it best when I can take a walk after work and listen, but some days there isn't time for that and so I listen while I make dinner. Anyway, one of the ones I listened to this week was Krista Tippet's interview with poet Naomi Shihab Nye. It was a wonderful conversation. One thing that has stuck with me was a story Nye told about teaching a class in Japan, and one of the students telling her about the Japanese word yutori:

She said, “Well, here in Japan, we have a concept called ‘yutori,’ and it is spaciousness. It’s a kind of living with spaciousness. For example, it’s leaving early enough to get somewhere so that you know you’re going to arrive early, so when you get there, you have time to look around.” Or — and then she gave all these different definitions of what yutori was, to her. But one of them was: “And after you read a poem, just knowing you can hold it. You can be in that space of the poem, and it can hold you in its space, and you don’t have to explain it. You don’t have to paraphrase it. You just hold it, and it allows you to see differently.”

I also listened to a really interesting episode of Vox Conversations about psychedelics in early Christianity and the ancient world in general.

Somethings that made me smile:

These pictures of starlings in Ireland.

These boots! I looked at them and thought "I wish I were the type of person who wore funky shoes like that" and then I thought, why can't I be? So maybe I'll buy some boots when I have a chance to catch my breath.

This art:

Here's your bunny for the week:

Have a good weekend, everyone! 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Hanging In Edition

Back when my kids were in the baby and toddler years, I had a rule: No major life-altering decisions could be made while I was sleep deprived. I had to at least get a weekend of good naps in before I could make a decision.

I think I need a similar rule now. No major life-altering decisions can be made while... and here's the problem. I don't know what the second half of that rule should be. Until we get at least a weekend away somewhere to try to really relax? Until I'm vaccinated? I don't know. I am tired and burned out but I know that a lot of the reason for that is due to things that I cannot change and so making any decisions to change other things is unlikely to either help or be the right long term move.

But still, I am tired and burned out and it will probably be at least a couple of months before I can be vaccinated... so I need to figure something out. 

I am trying to focus on the good things: We have started vaccinating teachers here, and if our case count continues to go down our schools will reopen on April 12. Petunia is oscillating between being super excited about that and being so worried we'll mess up, case counts will go back up, and it won't happen that she can't sleep. 

Our weather has been beautiful lately, so hammock time is a possibility again.

The next Annorlunda Books release comes out Wednesday! Early reviews of Lagoonfire, by Francesca Forrest, have all been good, and I am excited for release day.

So, there are good things! But pandemic fatigue is real. The Germans apparently have a word for it: coronamรผde

Even New Zealanders, who have been dealing with fewer restrictions than we have, are feeling it, I think. They are having a hard time getting everyone to follow the rules in their latest cluster, and so Auckland has had to go back to their Level 3 lockdown. Reading the pandemic news from New Zealand is a good reminder that even with a government who handled it well and circumstances that allow for fairly normal life to continue, the pandemic is exhausting. I hope they get this latest cluster stamped out soon. Vaccinations have started there, but are currently focused on border workers and the staff at the managed isolation hotels

On climate change... I wish everyone would really understand this:

Ezra Klein's interview with Leah Stokes and David Wallace-Wells had another way of looking at this that really struck me: we can choose to avoid climate change, adapt to it, or to suffer. It is really upsetting that we seem mostly to be choosing to suffer. That suffering is not evenly distributed, and so I think a lot of well-off, comfortable people think it won't eventually come to them. But they are wrong, and by the time they realize that it will be largely too late to avoid climate change (although we can always make choices to stop it from getting worse!) and the costs to adapt will be much higher.

The entire interview is really good, and I recommend it.

Josh Marshall had a really good essay on why we need a commission to investigate the events of January 6 and why we can't let Republicans derail it. (I just discovered I can get shareable links for the members-only articles at TPM and am trying it out...)

And here are some things that made me smile this week:

Musical tourism (sitting on the sofa watching music videos from around the world) continues to be something we enjoy. Over at Adjusted Latitudes, I wrote about one of my favorite of our recent stops: Latvia.

Every time one of Xavi Bou's photos of bird flight comes across my feed, I am struck by how beautiful it is. Here is an article about how he makes these pictures.

This cat!

This adorable hamster!

Here's your bunny of the week:

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Weekend Reading: Just a Few Links Edition

I stayed up too late last night watching the final three episodes of Picard. So I am tired today, but have no one to blame but myself. I enjoyed the series, but it didn't quite do what The Mandalorian did for me, which is give me something I genuinely looked forward to each week. I can't really say why The Mandalorian did that and Picard didn't. I think it might just have been baby yoda.

Anyway, it is going to be a beautiful weekend here, so nice that it may be warm enough for some hammock time tomorrow. It feels weird to be looking forward to hammock time when so much of the country is still freezing, and Texas is recovering from a catastrophe. I am heartbroken by the stories of people who have died due to the winter storm and failure of the electric grid. 

As I read the news from Texas, I found myself thinking of the opening scenes from Kim Stanley Robinson's The Ministry for the Future, in which a terrible heat wave kills hundreds of thousands of people in India. We aren't to that level of climate catastrophe yet, but we will get there if we don't take action - both to reduce carbon emissions to slow down climate change and to prepare our public and private infrastructure for the coming disasters. 

We need to elect better leaders who will take the threat seriously and take action to prepare us instead of just trolling their political opponents on social media.  Much has been written about what Ted Cruz could or could not have done to help in Texas instead of flying to Cancun (here's a straight writeup on that), but to me the biggest tell in that incident was the fact that Cruz didn't want to go learn first hand what had gone wrong so that he could try to write legislation to prevent future catastrophes. I am not sure what he thinks his job as US Senator is, but apparently he does not think it involves working on legislation to help his state and the country prepare for the challenges ahead.

OK, let's get to the links. I don't have many this week, but here's what I have:

Here is an interesting interview about why (and how) we should make our cities bird-friendly.

This is a very succinct statement of why we need to keep up our efforts to stop transmission of SARS-CoV2 right now:

In recommend listening: Krista Tippet's interview with Ariel Burger and Ezra Klein's interview with George Saunders both touched on the theme of what it means to live a good life, and gave me a lot to think about

And in things that made me smile:

This thread reminded me of my Nana's receipes which were also often quite sparse on the instructions:

I wouldn't say this made me smile... but it was interesting: Blue dogs in Russia.

Here's your bunny for the week:

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Short Post for a Long Weekend Edition

I'm in the middle of a four day weekend. My kids get a four day weekend for President's Day, and we decided to make it a family affair. We had thought we might find a house with a pool to rent in Palm Springs or Anza Borrego, but when we looked into options there was nothing for less than $500/night, and we decided that was a lot of money to pay to go sit in a different house for a few days, swimming pool or no.

So we're home in San Diego. Yesterday, Mr. Snarky and I took a long walk on the beach. The beach was fairly empty and it was a very relaxing walk. We've decided to do a couple of things from our Family Fun List, so today we're all playing Roblox, and tomorrow we're going to go on a hike. 

The kids also want to make Valentine's cookies today. They're getting old enough that they can mostly bake things without my help, but they like me to be nearby in case they need me. The nice thing about have a four day weekend is that it doesn't feel quite so much like I have to trade off between what they want to do and what I want or need to do. I feel like I have time to make it all happen, which is nice.

Anyway, on to the links. I don't have many, because the price of the four day weekend was a really, really busy week at work. But here's what I have:

Senator Patty Murray's story about hiding from the insurrectionists on January 6 is harrowing. 

There's more good news on the COVID-19 treatment front:

The CDC is issuing new guidance right and left, and it is good to see them off the sidelines under the new administration. They issued new mask guidance this week. This NPR article about the latest info on masks pre-dates that guidance but I think it largely mirrors it and is a nice, clear explanation of the options.

I am glad people are stepping up to help seniors get vaccination appointments, but it shouldn't be this hard. It is a symptom of our fragmented healthcare system and honestly, a failure. 

I have a bunch of podcasts to recommend because I keep forgetting to do that:

Krista Tippet's interview with Katherine May about her new book Wintering was so good that I bought and read the book. I enjoyed the book, too.

Vox has taken the old Ezra Klein show feed and made it a general interviews feed. I liked both Sean Illing's interview with Jason Stanley about fascism in America and Anne Helen Petersen's interview with Rachel Sherman about being a "good" rich person. I will keep the new podcast in my feed!

I will keep the new Ezra Klein show in my feed, too. I recently listened to his interview with Yuval Levin about the future of the Republican Party, and am looking forward to listening to his interview with Adam Jentelson on the filibuster.

And things that made me smile this week:

A woman rescued a koala from a road and it posed for some adorable pictures while she waited for the wildlife rescue people to arrive.

Speaking of wildlife encounters... over at Adjusted Latitudes, I wrote about my favorite encounters from my travels. Nothing as exciting as a koala rescue, but it still made me happy to revisit them.

This video from the Oregon Zoo:

TV news theme song choreography:

And here's your bunny for the week:

Have a good weekend, everyone! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Family Fun List Pandemic Edition

Every year on New Year's Eve, my family writes a "Family Fun List" for the next year. Each person gets to pick three activities for the list. It has been a tradition since 2013. 

Last year, I posted our list here like usual. Little did I know, that two months later, a pandemic would scramble all of our plans for the year!

In July, we talked about revising our list for 2020, since the pandemic had ruled out so many of the items on our list. We decided not to do that, but as you'll see, we made more pandemic-friendly picks for 2021!

So... here's our list from last year:

  • Go to a movie in a movie theater (Petunia) - This did not happen. However, in the early days of the pandemic, when we were under a stay at home order, I started a weekly family movie night to cheer up Petunia. The first movie we watched was Frozen 2. I did not expect to have to watch quite so many movies... but on the plus side, it was fun rediscovering the Back to the Future series, and I thought Bill and Ted Face the Music was absolutely perfect pandemic entertainment.
  • Walk around the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights (Pumpkin) - DONE!
  • Go to a musical (Mr Snarky) - Nope. We had tickets to go see Fly at the La Jolla Playhouse for the first week of the stay at home order. Oh well....
  • Visit Bunnyhenge (Me) - Nope. We discussed maybe driving up to see it, but Orange County's numbers were higher than ours at that point and so we didn't do it.
  • Go to [an indoor playground in my parents' town] (Petunia) - We didn't even get to visit my parents' in their city last year. They were here the week before the stay at home order, and we all quarantined so we could do Thanksgiving here, but that was it.
  • Go to Open Gym at the Y (Pumpkin) - Nope. The Y was shut for a lot of the year, and even when it was open we weren't in a hurry to visit
  • Hike a peak in Mission Trails park (Mr. Snarky) - We did this one! It was our Father's Day outing.
  • Walk across the Spruce Street bridge (Me) - DONE! This is one we could have done during the pandemic, but actually chose to do earlier.
  • Go to the Fleet Science Museum (Petunia) - Nope.
  • Go for a surrey bike ride (Pumpkin) - Nope. Technically possible, but not something that seemed like a good idea.
  • Go to Mexico (Mr. Snarky) - Nope. Mr. Snarky and I went to Mexico for my sister's birthday celebration at the end of February, but we did not get to make a trip as a family.
  • Go to the Museum of Making Music (Me) - Nope.
  • Bonus: Go to a cultural festival (e.g., the Viking festival a friend told us about) (Mr. Snarky) - Nope.
Here's the view from the Spruce Street bridge:

The hike we did:

And some pretty flowers seen along the way:

And here's this year's list:
  • Stay up until at least midnight (Petunia. And no, she doesn't count New Year's Eve!)
  • Do a hike from the Hidden San Diego site (Pumpkin)
  • Take a night away out of town (Mr. Snarky)
  • Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park (me)
  • Make a book as a family (Petunia)
  • Go camping (Pumpkin)
  • Circumnavigate Mission Bay by bicycle (Mr. Snarky)
  • Visit Bunnyhenge (Me. Damn it, we're going this year!)
  • Family Roblox session (Petunia)
  • Explore a new neighborhood on foot (Pumpkin. We're hoping to save this one for when we can go into restaurants and things again.)
  • Go fishing (Mr. Snarky)
  • Try a new ice cream shop (Me. I do love my ice cream.)
  • Bonus: Build a fancy cage for our pet hamster
Here's hoping that circumstances cooperate and we can make it through our list this year!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Weekend Reading: Blame the Headache Edition

I woke up headachy and ended up going back to bed for awhile. So now it is almost 11 and I've done basically nothing yet. This will probably be a somewhat short post because I have optimistically put my exercise leggings on and am planning to try to get out for some exercise before lunch. Or maybe right after lunch. We'll see.

Anyway, let's get to the links.

This week, we had reports come out on both the J&J and Novavax vaccines. I am encouraged by both, and would take either if it were offered to me. Derek Lowe did a nice job summarizing what the reports tell us. Although the top line efficacy numbers for these two vaccines are lower than for the mRNA vaccines that are currently FDA approved, that is not the full story. All of the vaccines seem quite effective at preventing hospitalization and death. The mRNA vaccine trials were done earlier in the pandemic, before some of the current worrisome variants emerged, and although lab tests indicate they should also be protective against those variants, we don't know what their percent efficacy would be if trialed now. 

So my stance still remains: Take the first FDA-approved vaccine offered to me, as soon as it is offered.

Also, I am delighted to see that J&J is investigating the question of whether vaccinated people can get asymptomatic infections and transmit the virus:

I was also delighted to read that the government thinks we may be vaccinating kids by the summer.

This is a riveting story of the attack on the Capitol, told by a reporter who was trapped inside. I do not think most Americans are really grasping how close we came to that day being so much worse. I think many of us - probably myself included - aren't allowing ourselves to really process that, because there are too many other things we need to do and to focus on what happened on January 6 might derail us. 

Tressie McMillan Cottom on what rejecting white supremacy really means for many white people. 

In environmental news:

GM wants to transition away from gas-powered cars by 2035.

David Roberts has a summary of all the good things Biden has already done on climate.

I'm going to stop there because my husband is listening to music that is making my headache come back. But he is mopping the floor so I hate to complain... I think I should just get out for that walk. 

But first, here are things that made me smile this week:

Jaguar and ocelot in Arizona!

Goats with pool noodles:

This beautiful thread:

This panda:

Pretty bird:

Here's your bunny for the week:

Have a good weekend!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Reclaiming a Bit More Happiness Edition

Wednesday felt good, didn't it? I couldn't watch much live so I stayed up later that I should have watching the recordings. Watching them made me feel a mix of happiness (that the Trump presidency is over), relief (that we have competent people trying to solve our problems again), pride (that we, the people, managed to get rid of Trump), and profound sadness (that the Trump presidency happened and that so many people didn't make it through to the other side).

Anyway, I am very grateful that I have made it to the other side of the Trump presidency, and so have all of my loved ones. And so did our democracy, if only barely. We have much work to do, and in future weeks I will post about what I'm doing to help.

For right now, though, I am focusing on reclaiming a bit more happiness in my life. The Trump years were exhausting. The pandemic is exhausting. And yes, there is much work still to do to get through this particular crisis point in American history, but this is a long term project and you don't run a long project in perpetual crunch mode. 

As I wrote last week, I've been trying to scroll social media less and spend my time on more restorative things. I've also been trying to rebalance how I use social media. Instagram is my place to remind myself of the nice things in the world. I have occasionally used my Instagram account as a place to post things I notice that make me happy. That practice has always fizzled out. I recently listened to the Ologies episode with Neil Pasricha and was inspired to try again. This time I'm going to try it as a daily practice because I think daily habits are easier to establish and maintain. I'm posting one thing that made me happy each day on my Instagram account along with the many pictures of our pet hamster. I'm restlessrabbit42 over there if you want more cute hamster photos in your life.

I haven't figured out how to reform my Twitter usage yet, so I'm just trying to cut back for now and hoping what to do will become clear. 

I did decide to start trying to post over at Adjusted Latitudes more. I had the idea that I could use that as a place to share the interesting music videos from around the world that Mr. Snarky and I like finding. I explain in my first musical tourism post over there.

And now on to the other links:

I am really enjoying the Ologies podcast! Another recent favorite was the episode on sleep.

I also found the conversation Ana Marie Cox had with Adam Serwer on the inauguration and this moment in history really good.

But this is supposed to be weekend reading not weekend listening! 

I found this quote from the San Diego Union-Tribune's story about our local vaccination efforts telling:

"Fletcher noted during the county’s weekly coronavirus briefing that the county often doesn’t know more than about a day in advance that doses are coming. "

I know that the chaotic rollout is very, very frustrating for all of us... but try to imagine being a local health official or a hospital administrator attempting to make a plan for a smooth vaccination effort when you don't know ahead of time how many doses you'll have. I hope the new federal team can sort this out quickly. We should expect some ongoing hiccups - batches will fail quality control, miscommunications will still happen - but the manufacturers know how many batches they are making so it should be possible to give local officials a little more predictability for their plans.

Speaking of manufacturing... here is a deep dive on the manufacturing of the mRNA vaccines (thanks to Derek Lowe and Chemjobber for sharing it on Twitter). It is very technical and not in my particular area of expertise but a couple of things jumped out: this is the first time the biologics manufacturing industry has tried to make clinical grade mRNA at such a large scale. This is not an easy manufacturing process:

"The skills to produce mRNA at scale and the associated supply chain are new. The conversion process from DNA to mRNA in living cells is well understood. However, doing it at scale, in a factory, and with a long shelf-life is still an area of development."

Could something like the Defense Production Act help? I don't know, but I don't think it is obvious. I am glad that we finally have a team in place that I trust to look at all the options and make smart decisions driven by a desire to actually help Americans, not protect one man's ego. I am sure there were some good people trying to do the right thing in the last administration... but they had a hefty headwind from the political side and that should be gone now.

The thread this tweet is part of, and the linked story are worth your time if you want to try to understand what has gone wrong in Southern California (and LA county in particular):

Heaps of spoilers... but I liked Athena Scalzi's take on the movie Soul.

Some things that made me smile this week:

This is genius:

I wish I could go see these:

Vaccine Wellerman!

Baby capybaras!

Here's your bunny for the week:

Have a good weekend!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Trying Not to Whine Edition

At the start of the year, I thought I might set myself a goal of spending less time scrolling Twitter and more time doing more useful and/or restorative things with my downtime. 

And then January 6th happened, and I got sucked right back in.

I still think it is a good goal for me this year. My approach to social media is that if it isn't adding something good to my life, I shouldn't use it. This is why I am almost never on Facebook. I am on Instagram, originally to figure things out since Pumpkin was getting an account, and now because Petunia likes to scroll it during morning cuddles. We follow mostly zoos and nature accounts (plus some friends and a smattering of other accounts), and we post mostly photos of her pet hamster (plus the occasional sunset, flower from a walk, or other innocuous thing). 

I have long said that I like Twitter because it keeps me informed. And it has. My Twitter feed is why I was ahead of the curve on masks, and it is how I am gathering information about the B.1.1.7 variant and other coronavirus-related information that truly does help me keep my family safe. My Twitter feed has also broadened my horizons in innumerable ways and I think it has given me insights into a lot of different issues that I would not have found otherwise. And it can be fun and beautiful - the Sea Shanty thing is happening on TikTok but I know about it because of Twitter. I love the bird pictures that various accounts I follow post, and of course there's The Rabbit of the Day and The Hamster of the Day to make me smile.

But during a time like this, Twitter is also an anxiety amplifier and it is one that is hard to look away from, because there is a constant stream of new information. But it is not information that I need to use to make decisions, and so it is better for me if I find a way to look away.

At the start of the year, I thought I'd spend more time writing. I have some cool ideas in mind for Adjusted Latitudes, and a backlog of things I want to write about over on Beyond Managing as well as some things I'd like to write about here. But all of that feels a but trivial and weird to post about right now, so I haven't been doing it.

I started this post on Thursday night, but never finished it because from here, it turned a bit whiny (I just deleted all of that...) and I couldn't come up with an ending that wasn't whiny. Maybe this is because I was legitimately feeling whiny. I had a tough week on many fronts.

But it is the weekend, and the weather is glorious here. I am determined to have a good weekend.

First, though, let's get to the links.

After I gave up on my blog post on Thursday night, I finally sat down and read through the evidence I could find about the B.1.1.7 variant, masks, and other infection avoidance measures. I think I have already posted a link to the mask study Monica Gandhi and Linsey Marr did, but it turned out to be one of the most useful things I read, so here it is again.

I spent a lot of time trying to find out if the double mask method described in that study (a surgical mask under a well-fitting cloth mask) is better than a cloth mask with a p2.5 filter. The Gandhi and Marr study also recommends a cloth mask with a vacuum bag type filter, but that is different from a p2.5 filter. I did a lot of searching and didn't really find anything comparing the efficacy of the p2.5 filters. In the end, I decided that the double mask method would be better because it might help minimize gaps around the edges of the cloth mask. If anyone comes across some actual evidence on the effectiveness of a p2.5 filter in minimizing virus transmission, I'd love to see it. I'll hold on to my p2.5 filters, though, because they were handy during fire season.

My searching for info on the best filter options did turn up this useful write-up of different filter/mask options, which might be helpful if you prefer a single mask with a filter.

I also spent some time trying to understand the difference between a surgical and a procedure mask. I think most of the masks that people call "surgical masks" are actually procedure masks, because according to this source, surgical masks have ties and are designed to be worn with a surgical cap (so they won't slip) whereas procedure masks have earloops. There is some evidence that the tie masks fit better (see this article for that and also a summary of the double masking advice aimed at a general audience). If I needed to be indoors a lot, I would probably try to get surgical masks (or N95s...) but for my purposes I think the important thing about the non-cloth mask or filter is that it be made from non-woven material. I have some procedure masks that fit the bill (which I bought to keep in our cars in case we forgot a mask) and so we'll use those, and when they are almost gone I will go back down the rabbit hole trying to figure out what the best mask to buy will be. And I will try very hard not to dwell on the fact that it is ridiculous that I, an individual consumer, am left to figure out what mask to use on my own and that we still have such a shortage of N95 masks that the advice can't just be "buy some N95s and here's how to make sure they fit." 

But that is getting dangerously close to whining again, so moving on....

Next, I turned my attention to what we know about whether the B.1.1.7 variant increases the risk of transmission outdoors compared to the "regular" variant. We don't have a lot of data on this, but I found this thread from an infectious disease expert in Scotland useful:

The bottom line is that she thinks the risk outdoors is still low, particularly when combined with other mitigation factors (e.g., masks and/or distance).

The evidence that the B.1.1.7 variant is more transmissible is getting stronger, though, and pretty much all of the experts I read take the higher transmissibility as a given. Julia Belluz had a nice write-up in Vox of what this means in practice. Basically, now is the time to redouble your efforts not to share air with anyone not in your household. So, minimize trips to stores and avoid non-essential indoor activities. And improve your masks, if you can. 

So, after all of my reading, the primary change to my earlier rules is that I'll be double masking when I go into stores, and I'll minimize trips to stores even more. I would still be OK with seeing friends occasionally as long as we do it outdoors and keep distance/wear masks... but that is currently against "the rules" in San Diego, and Petunia is convinced that if we break that rule we are contributing to her not being able to go back to in-person school, which is the thing she wants most right now. Any discussion of how we might see someone outside our household leads to tears, so for right now our little family is not seeing anyone. This is not sustainable for the length of time it is likely to take for us to get vaccines, so hopefully our local numbers start to come down soon and maybe then I can convince Petunia that we can see people safely.

In non-COVID links:

I thought this was a good open letter to the insurrectionists many of whom, if news accounts are to believed, are genuinely surprised that they are in so much trouble.

Dahlia Lithwick wrote a really good piece on the absurdity of Republicans whining about "cancel culture" and being censored in speeches on the House floor.

This group of scientists and moms who want to mobilize moms to fight climate change for the sake of our kids looks interesting. 

Some things that made me smile this week:

Paper bunnies!

This cat:

And yikes, that's all I have. I must look for some more happy things for next week!

And here's your weekly bunny:

Have a good weekend!