Friday, December 31, 2021

Year End Reflections

Here we are, at the end of 2021. Looking back at the post I wrote on December 31, 2020, I was hopeful for a better 2021. In some ways, it was a better year but for me it was an even harder year than 2020 was. Here's hoping 2022 brings some improvement. It will certainly be starting out rough, with us sending our kids back to school in the middle of the omicron spike here. 

My older daughter showed me a meme that is circulating in her social media circles, labeled "everyone going back to school next week":

The kids aren't wrong on that one. 

My younger daughter is worried, too, and I suspect bedtime will be difficult for the next few days.

But... we're all vaccinated, and my husband and I are boosted. I'll be sending the kids to school wearing their KF94 masks and hoping for the best. I will be surprised if we get through this surge without getting infected, but that isn't the same as giving up. We'll do what we can to minimize our risk, including getting the older daughter a booster as soon as we can. She'll be eligible as soon as it is approved for 12-15 year olds. My younger daughter will have to wait until March or April, depending on whether the ruling is to wait 5 or 6 months after the second dose. 

I also just re-read my post from the end of last year about applying the lessons from our pandemic failures to climate change. I think those lessons still hold, but I am even less optimistic about us learning them. Early in the pandemic, I found my Twitter feed a good place to get information from experts so that I could make smart decisions about how to protect my family. By the end of this year, most pandemic-related content on my Twitter feed had devolved into fights between different "camps" about masks, testing, quarantine periods, and everything else. It is no longer all that informative for me because so many people are just arguing in support of their prior opinions instead of allowing evolving data to change their opinions. I think this dynamic is going to be even worse for climate change, where the camps have been entrenched for much longer.

I don't really know how to fix any of this. My approach has been to try to tune out the shouting and the noise and find some experts who have been consistently level-headed and willing to change course and just read what they say.  I'm much less likely to post my opinion these days because the fighting doesn't seem productive. 

For those who are curious, though, our current pandemic approach is KF94s for any indoor activities and rapid tests if we suspect exposure or are gathering indoors with friends. We still are not eating at restaurants indoors and have no plans to start doing so anytime soon. Over the holiday season, we kept gatherings small and few, focusing only on the get togethers that were most meaningful to us. In the New Year, I think we will hunker down a bit as the omicron wave passes, but since we're all vaccinated now we will go out to shops (masked, of course). We'll keep social gatherings outdoors or masked with the possible exception of dinners with my sister. Since she's working from home and our kids are going to school, we're more of a risk to her than she is to us so I'll let her decide if we need to move back outdoors around the fire pit. 

None of this is much of a change from what we had been doing. I don't find shopping in a mask onerous and the San Diego climate and outdoor-centric culture makes it relatively easy to favor outdoor activities.

On climate change, our current approach is to electrify everything. We replaced our gas furnace with an electric heat pump in 2020, and so have just two gas appliances left: our dryer and our hot water heater. When it is time to replace those, they will be replaced with electric. When the weather permits (which is most weeks), we hang our clothes on a line outdoors to dry and just finish them in the dryer. 

We have two cars, one Tesla model 3 (no I'm not worried about the recall - it is just for the rear camera cable which seems like nowhere near as big a deal as Twitter folks were making it out to be. My other car doesn't even have a rear camera!) and one gas-powered Mazda 5. The Mazda 5 will probably need replacing in the next couple of years so we're starting to look at what electric cars are available. We need the Mazda 5 replacement to be big enough to fit a bike into and to take a kayak on the roof. There are options available now, and we expect more to come onto the market in the next couple of years. I don't think we'll replace the Mazda 5 with another Tesla, but until the non-Tesla charging infrastructure gets a little better, one of our cars will have to be a Tesla so that we can take road trips. Sorry, I know Elon Musk is insufferable but Tesla did a good job on their supercharger network and the other networks just aren't there yet. I hope the investment provided by the infrastructure bill changes that.

We thought we'd be replacing the Mazda 5 this year but since the pandemic eliminated our primary reason for driving (getting to and from work), it has lasted longer than expected. We both expect to continue to work exclusively from home for the next couple of months. My husband may need to be back in the office 2 or 3 days a week after that. I'm not sure what my work arrangement will be, but it won't be full time in the office. So our driving miles will stay low.

There's a new trolley line that is reasonably close to us, though, and I think one of my intentions for 2022 will be to try to default to using it more often. That will probably need to wait for the omicron wave to pass, though. 

Our biggest climate-related action of the year was installing solar panels and a battery. We're quite happy with them but they haven't changed our lifestyle so there's not much to say about them.

I'm trying to eat less meat, and find that Beyond Sausage is really helpful in that. I used to make pepperoni pizza every Friday. Now I make a Beyond Sausage pizza and it is just as yummy. 

I would like to get more involved in advocating for climate-friendly changes, and have been looking around at existing groups and thinking about where my energies would be best spent. I still lean towards thinking the best thing to do is to elect more Democrats, though - both for climate reasons and for keeping a democracy reasons - and so perhaps my energies will just go into writing more postcards and letters to voters. 

I originally thought I'd write about my favorite things I read this year, but this post has gotten long and I want to go out and get some exercise so the best things I read in 2021 will have to wait for 2022. 

Happy New Year, everyone! 

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Maybe Edging My Way Back to a Weekend Reading Post

I had a really intense work week. Work didn't spill outside of regular hours much, but my regular work hours were packed. Monday was a solid day of meetings, starting at 8:30 and wrapping up at 4. I had a few short breaks to answer emails and eat lunch, but nothing over 15 minutes. Tuesday wasn't much better. And Thursday featured an unexpected outage on one of the servers my team was using, which is its own kind of intensity.

I didn't have to get back online after dinner last night, but that was made possible by the fact that I skipped my rollerblade outing. We'd had some rain earlier in the day and quite a bit of rain the day before and I decided there might still be too many puddles. And I had so much work to do...

Anyway, here I am, sipping tea and trying to remember how to relax. We have a busy weekend (aren't they all this time of year?) but I am taking a few minutes to sit and enjoy my tea before I launch into it.

Because work has been so intense lately, I haven't really read much. But I did manage to write a post about our recent getaway to Riverside.

I do have a few other things to share, too:

This cartoon hit me surprisingly hard, as someone who has often found herself in jobs that seemed most interested in only part of my abilities. I think that is unavoidable to a certain extent, but I've been doing some thinking about how some things I do contribute to that (like not caring a lot about my title, so sometimes accepting a title that is more junior than my experience would justify) and whether I want to change anything. 

This is cool:

This video is fun. I particularly enjoy the minor characters, like shirtless dude:

Here's a rabbit investigating a Christmas tree:

Have a good weekend!

Sunday, December 05, 2021

An Update Post Instead of My To-Do List

I have a nice long list of things I should be doing but I feel like writing one of my random update posts instead, so I will do that first.


My work had a holiday party this week. Inexplicably, given the lovely San Diego climate, it was indoors at an Italian restaurant. It is probably the riskiest thing I've done in 2 years covid-wise since my work (inexplicably, since we are a science-related company) does not have a vaccine or test mandate. I think all of the people at the party were vaccinated but I've been surprised by anti-vaxxers before, so I can't be sure. I bought some of the Binax rapid antigen tests and I used one this morning because I wanted to check before I have my daughter's Lego team over for a meeting today. We meet outdoors (in our garage with the doors open) and masked.  But still... I wanted to check. I did the test this morning and it was negative. 

I don't think the party was worth it and I won't do anything similar anytime soon. I made the decision to go before news of the omicron variant came out. I don't know if my decision would have been different had I known about the new variant. 

The home test is easy to do and doesn't take long and I wish we were making more use of these tests as a country. 

My little family isn't changing much about our behavior due to the new variant. We were still masking indoors in public places, and we'll keep doing that. I may be more inclined to pull out one of our KF94s instead of using a cloth mask when I'm going shopping. We'll keep having the kids tested at school every week. We'll still visit indoors with other people we know are vaccinated and reasonably careful but we won't be eating indoors at a restaurant anytime soon. We may use the home antigen tests if we think we've done something potentially sketchy. Otherwise, we wait and see.


The news of the omicron variant came out the day after we bought tickets to fly to New Zealand next summer. We were all so excited about the chance to go see our New Zealand family again! Now we are in a "wait and see" on that, too. New Zealand has a very impressive vaccination rate, so I suspect we'll still be able to go. But I think it will depend on how the new variant ends up behaving and whether we've all had omicron-specific boosters by summer.


In more prosaic news... when we had to switch to cleaning our own house during the early days of the pandemic, we realized our kids didn't really know how to clean things well. They've gotten better with practice, but Mr. Snarky and I think it might be a good idea to keep cleaning our own house for the time-being, to let them practice some more. We also decided that the kids should get some immediate benefit from this, mostly because I thought that would minimize the whining about it but also because the decision is going to save us some money and since the kids' labor is making that possible, it seems fair they should get something for it.

So we presented it as a choice: we can keep doing the chores and we'll double your allowance or we can find a new cleaner in January. Pumpkin was on board right away. Petunia was skeptical, but came around when I said we could use some of the money we're saving to fund another theme park trip sometime next year.

I typed up a new chores rotation this morning and the deal is that everyone just looks at the list and does their chores without me having to hassle them. We'll see how it goes. The cleaning itself doesn't take much time, since we've divided things up among four people. But if I find I have to hassle/remind people I may cancel the deal and hire a cleaner again. 


We put up our tree last night. 

I hope you all are having a good weekend! And I hope to write more soon. Next up will probably be an Adjusted Latitudes post about the recent weekend getaway Mr. Snarky and I took. Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 13, 2021

A Miscellany of Updates

I keep thinking I'll get back to more frequent posting, and life keeps getting in the way. I miss writing, though, and am trying to reconfigure life to make more space for it and other hobbies. 

I wish I could say I have happy updates from the last post, but for the most part I do not. Our hamster did not make it. She seemed to be recovering, but then about three weeks after surgery she took a turn for the worse, stopped eating, and eventually died. We tried very hard to save her, but we could not. She died three weeks ago today. We miss her so much. I am hoping Petunia eventually decides she is ready to love another hamster, but I think this needs to go on her schedule and she is not ready yet. 

That is the only truly bad update, though.  Everything else is just meh. I did not learn much from the Holter monitor. It did not catch an incident of irregular heartbeat. It did show that my heart rate spikes up to about 100 several times a day for no apparent reason, but my doctor did not seem worried about that. I have realized that I can feel it when my heart rate spikes like that and it is mildly unpleasant. It always passes quickly (in less than a minute). I am not particularly satisfied with the answers I've gotten from my doctor and am thinking I might try seeing a different doctor about this. However, I also think there is a very good chance that stress is playing a role and so unless something gets worse, I am going to try getting my stress levels down first.

The main stress-generator is work. This is the first weekend in a long time when I've not had to do some work, and I only made that happen by working for a bit after dinner last night. This is partially due to the fact that I am trying to prioritize my Friday afternoon rollerblade, which takes about an hour and a half out of my Friday afternoon. But this used to be no problem to do without having work spill into the weekend. 

The extra hours are only part of the problem, though. The bigger issue is in the nature of the work. I realized when I came back from our summer vacation that the job had evolved into something that was no longer a fit for me and started working to find a new role within my company. I have done that, but the move will be part of a larger reorganization within the company and so the timing is complicated. I think I will be stuck doing my current job through the end of the year and then there will be a transition period of several months before I can be fully over in the new role. This is not ideal. I still think that staying at this company will turn out to be the right choice long term, but in the short term it means I can't remove one of the biggest sources of stress in my life.

I have also come to the conclusion that I can no longer run Annorlunda Books in a way I feel good about. I am not shutting down, but I am scaling back. I won't be publishing new books for the foreseeable future and will not be doing much promotional work. I have offered all of my authors the option of reclaiming their rights to their books. Not everyone has decided yet. A few have requested rights back and several have decided to leave their books with me. I am aiming to have everything sorted by the end of the year. The Annorlunda edition of books that have been reclaimed by their authors will disappear from the online stores before the end of the year. If you've been thinking about getting one of the books I publish, now is the time! I am sad to make this change, but I feel better having formally acknowledged the reality that I couldn't make Annorlunda Books succeed in the way I had hoped. I think I will feel less stress and guilt about this going forward now that I've told my authors what is going on and given them the choice to reclaim their rights.

Reading back through this post, I think I sound sadder than I am. There are happy things right now, too. I am also working on rolling with life's punches a bit more and having some success with that. Maybe at some point I will write about the things that have helped me there. For now, though, here is a new song out of New Zealand that I have been enjoying:

 Have a good weekend, everyone!

Friday, October 08, 2021

Some Updates

So, it has been awhile.

A lot has happened and my weekends just never seemed to have time for a blog post.

I'm not sure if my Saturday mornings will eventually settle down again and I'll be able to bring Weekend Reading posts back. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. I've decided I have to just let things evolve for a bit and see where I land.


Let's start this update with something unequivocally good. Petunia turned 12 last weekend. We got her first covid shot on her birthday. She hates shots in a way that approaches a phobia but she wanted her shot as soon as she could get it. She also wanted it done first thing on her birthday so that the dread of the event didn't hang over too much of her birthday. After much searching I found a place where I could get her an appointment without lying on the form that would become the basis of her online vaccine record and we got her shot at about 9 a.m. on her birthday. She'd requested Krispy Kreme doughnuts as her shot reward and a birthday treat, so we had those waiting for us when we got home. 

She had her birthday all planned out, culminating in a party in our backyard. After much discussion, we'd found a covid-safe party option that she was excited about. We rented an inflatable big screen and projector and she watched a movie in our backyard with some of her friends. It all went beautifully.

The big screen

I am so glad she got the birthday she wanted because the pandemic has been hard for her. It was nice to see her so happy.


In other pretty good news, Petunia has also started taking ballet classes. My online searching yielded exactly one class for beginners her age in San Diego. It is in Balboa Park, so there is a side benefit that my husband and I have had dinner out in Balboa Park for the last few weeks. We eat at Panama 66 at the Sculpture Garden and it is delightful. Also, Petunia is loving ballet so far and it turns out ballet buns are pretty easy to do.


In less unambiguously good news... Petunia's hamster had to have surgery last week. We noticed some blood Sunday evening and after an anxious night, I called the vet Monday morning. He quickly diagnosed a uterine tumor and said the solution was to spay her. Since she is "just" a hamster he presented the option of doing nothing, but I couldn't stomach that. She would have slowly bled to death. We could afford the surgery so we got her the surgery and she came through great. She had to go back to the vet yesterday because she's been a bit lethargic, sleeping much more than usual, and not eating her favorite treats. She had chewed off one set of stitches, but those were apparently just the surface stitches and the vet didn't think the incision was infected. Still, he gave us some cream to put on her tummy and some antibiotics to give her and she already seems to be improving a bit. She is a much loved hamster and we are watching her anxiously, hoping she is back to her usual energetic self soon.


In just downright ambiguous news... something may or may not be up with my heart. I've had a couple of instances of irregular heartbeat in the last few months. On the second instance, I thought to put my pulse oximeter on my finger and discovered my heart rate was also alarmingly high. I went to urgent care after the first incident and was pronounced completely normal. I didn't bother the second time because the incident was over within about 5 minutes but got told off for that by my doctor who thinks I should call 911 and go to the ER if it happens again. I am not at all enthused about showing up to the ER 15 minutes after an incident has resolved and I am no longer "emergent" because I think that will mean I'll spend hours in a waiting room surrounded by people with COVID. So hopefully I don't have another incident.

I did buy a personal EKG monitor that works with my cell phone, though, so that if it does happen I can try to capture some data that might tell the doctors what is going on. (This is what I bought. It is pretty cool even though so far all my readings have been normal.)

I have also had some short periods of chest tightness which might be something new or might be asthma or might be stress... it is so hard to know what to think. 

My doctor also ordered a Holter monitor (which is essentially a portable EKG) which I had to wear all day yesterday. I didn't have an irregular heartbeat incident but I did have a few periods of the short feeling of chest tightness. I will be interested to see what the monitor readings show, but I am not getting my hopes up for any answers.


Back to the unequivocally good news... we had solar panels and a battery installed last month. They had their final inspection last week and were made operational a couple of days ago and so as I type, the lights in my house are being kept on by our battery. We have a fancy app that shows how much power is coming from (or going to) the solar panels, the battery, and the grid. Today was a sunny day and the panels produced enough power to keep our house running, charge the battery, and send some power to the grid. It will be fun to see what our power usage will be over a longer period of time and figure out what the best settings for our system are and when we should charge our car now. We had been charging in the middle of the night when power was cheapest but maybe now we'll charge in the middle of the day when the power is free!


I think that's the main news here. Work is still too busy and a bit fraught. I am hoping to fix it soon but there are some unusual circumstances that are legitimately slowing things down. I'm not sure how long I'll give my management to sort this out, though, especially if I decide the heart issues are aggravated (or perhaps even caused) by stress. At some point, I will have to stop being patient and understanding and get the changes I need even if that means running a job search and finding a new job. I hope it doesn't come to that!


Share your updates, theories about what is going on with my heart, and random other things in the comments!

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Back to School and Back to Work

The first week of high school was exhausting.

I'm joking, but only a bit. Everything is fine - better than fine, even - but helping a child who inherited my tendency to worry about and overthink everything navigate her first week in a new school (remember, she was at a K-8 school before this!) and the fact that music at this school turned out to be different than expected... well, that's been a challenge.

At one point I asked her why she didn't talk to her father, who doesn't tend to worry about much of anything, for advice and she said that he doesn't worry so he wouldn't know what to do about worrying. Fair enough! But I don't know either, or I wouldn't be (in)famous in the family for worrying about things!

Anyway, we made it through. She ended the week on a real high note, very happy with how her schedule has ended up.

(And yes, she approved me posting this. My kids are old enough now that I ask permission before sharing details like this.)

The start of middle school for Petunia has gone well, too, although there was a communication failure around the in school COVID testing plan and so she missed her first weekly test. I'm sure they'll get it sorted out and she'll be tested next week. 

We made it through the first week without any exposure notifications. We came disturbingly close to running out of the KF94s the kids wear at school, so the high schooler went with a cloth mask with a filter one day. Our new supply of masks arrived yesterday and we're set now.

As for me... well, work continues to be tough. The vacation and my rocky return from it have clarified my thinking on work, though, and I now think I know what is wrong and what I need to do. Basically, as my company grew the role of project manager morphed into a more traditional project management role and that is no longer a great fit for me. I can do the job, and in fact from the feedback I get I'm pretty good at it. But I don't enjoy it. I liked it more when the lines between roles were less well-defined and my job involved more of the analysis and design I enjoy. 

Basically, I realized that I was so slammed upon coming back from vacation because I'm doing a bunch of things that aren't technically my job, but I don't want to jettison those things because they are the things I like doing the most. I can't jettison the other things because they are a required part of my job. And I can't keep doing all the things because it is too much.

So I have started talking to the appropriate people about finding me a role that is a better fit. I have caught up enough that I don't have to be in a huge rush - work will feel manageable again within a week or so, I think. But it isn't sustainable in the long term so I want to fix that.

I decided to try to fix it at my current company instead of just starting a job search because I really, really like the people at my company. They are all really great to work with and I've been in the work world long enough to know how unusual that is. 

There is another small part to this decision, too - the people at this company know me and value me and will give me any flexibility I need as we ride out the rest of this pandemic and indeed as I navigate this new phase of parenting.

I am reading This is How it Always Is, by Laurie Frankel, and there is a passage that I read last week that really resonated. The woman in the story is a doctor and the book is explaining why she's stayed in the same place where she did her training:

But Roo followed by Ben followed by Rigel and Orion had put a stop to that plan too, children being the enemies of plans and also the enemies of anything besides themselves. UW knew her work ethic and track record, never mind her taking yet another maternity leave, never mind the final months when she couldn't even fit bedside, or the months before that when she couldn't lift patients or much of anything else, never mind the mornings she was too nauseated to work and the nights she called in sick because the only place more germ laden than a hospital is an elementary school. She was worth it. But no one outside UW Hospital new it. And so she stayed.

Oof, that hit hard. It is not an exact parallel to my situation, because I have enough former colleagues scattered around in other companies in my industry that I could find another place that would mostly know I am worth it. But that is different from being at a place where pretty much everyone knows you're worth it and also you've all covered for each other through various family emergencies big and small. There is a value to that I would have struggled to put my finger on before I read that passage in the book.

I feel better now that I've figured out what needs to happen and started the discussions to make it happen. 

My general lessons from this are: 

  • Just because you're good at something that doesn't mean that thing is what you are meant to be doing
  • There is a big difference from knowing something in the abstract (e.g., job roles tend to solidify and reduce down to the key aspects of a job title as a company grows) and recognizing it happening in your life
  • If you're struggling at work sometimes what you need to do is take a vacation so that you can get enough head space to figure things out.

So, I'm feeling better heading into this long weekend but still behind on a bunch of things. It will be another busy weekend, but at least with the extra day I will probably get some more relaxation time.

I have still been restricting my social media time because so much of what is in my feed just makes me want to either scream or cry and that isn't really what I need right now, so I decided not to try to do links. I am not sure when they'll be back. Sorry to anyone who misses them!

I do have one funny thing for you:

And here's a rabbit:

Have a good weekend everyone!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

I Am Back... Sort Of

I am back from vacation but sooo behind on everything. We got back a week ago. The vacation was wonderful - I hope to write it up on Adjusted Latitudes soon, and I'm currently sharing pictures from each day on Instagram (I'm @restlessrabbit42 over there).

I was worried about the airports and airplanes but mostly people followed the mask rules and it felt OK. We managed to keep to our rule of no indoor dining and no indoor anything with masks off. It meant more dinners in at our AirBnB than we'd usually do, but that is why we booked AirBnBs and not hotels. I thought I might get us all rapid tests before school starts on Monday but the at home rapid tests are sold out everywhere and so oh well. We'll be signing the kids up for the school district's testing program, so starting next week they'll get a weekly test.

I feel OK about the start of school. My kids are going in person. The district has a mask mandate, now expanded to include outdoors except when eating. The district listened to some good experts last year and have upgraded air filtration and installed CO2 monitors (as a way of monitoring air circulation). California issued a rule requiring all school employees to be vaccinated or get tested weekly. My younger daughter is continuing in our Spanish language immersion school. It is a small school that we know well and that did a good job with reopening last year. My older daughter is starting high school - so more kids and we don't know the school yet. But she's fully vaccinated. 

So yeah, I don't feel great about it but I feel OK.

I have so much more I could say about the COVID stuff but it is nothing new. 

The vacation and coming back to be immediately overwhelmed at work again was an edifying experience, though. I have to fix some things at work for the sake of my health, both mental and physical, and for the sake of actually being able to continue working until retirement. I may have more to say on that at some point, but not yet. I'm still figuring out what to do but I have a clearer picture of the problem.

I don't have time to go through and pull out links today. As I mentioned above, school starts Monday and so there's a lot of things to do get ready. We are also getting solar panels installed starting Monday. That was not our ideal timing but the permitting that we were expecting to take six weeks went through really quickly and so we already pushed installation out further than the solar company wanted. We are also getting a battery so we need to clean the garage to make space for that. We need to clean the garage, anyway, because Petunia really wanted her last year of Lego robotics that I had promised her. It was supposed to be last year, but that didn't happen and so we decided to do it this year. It will be in the garage with the doors wide open even when it gets colder, and we will all be masked all the time. And yet all of her teammates wanted to come back. I think kids are missing their activities. 

All of which is to say... I am back in town, back to work, but not really back here. Maybe next week.

But here's a bunny at least:

Have a good weekend everyone!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Weekend Reading: Taking a Break Edition

I'm going to be even scarcer than usual around her for the next few weeks. I've got some vacation time coming up and I think I'm going to try to unplug from everything and see if that helps my burnout. 

Anyway, the links are all starting to seem the same. There are only so many ways to say "get vaccinated," I guess!

If you've seen the news about the Provincetown outbreak and other breakthrough infections and are feeling worried, this thread may help:

Personally, I'm glad we're back to more mandates/encouragement to wear masks because I think we should all keep wearing masks indoors until kids can be vaccinated. I am very grateful to be living in a place where the school district has already announced masks will be required indoors, although they are apparently getting sued for their troubles. The new CDC guidance makes me worry a little less about that lawsuit, at least.

Nicoleandmaggie have a post with a scripts for contacting your elected officials if you live in a place that is prohibiting mask mandates and with a reminder that perhaps people like me should email our officials to thank them for protecting our kids.

In other news:

This thread from Amanda Knox is really good and thought-provoking. (Note: Both the thread and the article discuss plot details of the movie Stillwater that would probably be considered spoilers.)

She's also written a piece in The Atlantic expanding on these thoughts.

Based on Jennywenny's recommendation in the comments last week, I decided to check out the Ten Percent Happier podcast. The episode I picked to try is called Getting Over Yourself, and is an interview with Joseph Goldstein. He mentioned a type of meditation where you just notice which sense has your attention. I tried it on a walk later in the week and it is an interesting exercise. I didn't really notice more things, but I noticed them more fully. I might try it again.

Next time I'm in Albuquerque I'll check out the Bow and Arrow Brewery

In case you missed it, last weekend I posted a Something Splendid over at Adjusted Latitudes - a photo that made me miss New Zealand and my family there so much when I came across it that I knew I couldn't turn it into a "where in the world" quiz. It is too obviously New Zealand! 

And that's all I have this week.

Here are your rabbits for the week:

Have a good weekend! I'll see you in a few weeks.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Weekend Reading: Trying to Relax Edition

I had a scary experience Thursday. I had just sat down to work, a little later than usual because Petunia had slept in a bit. I felt a tickle in my throat, coughed, and then my heartbeat went screwy. I do not know whether to call it an irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations or something else, but I knew that if I didn't lay down I'd probably pass out so I went to the sofa and waited for it to pass. My husband was in the shower. By the time he came out, my heart was beating normally again and I was feeling a bit better. I called my doctor's office, thinking I'd make an appointment for later. They had me talk to the triage nurse, who had me measure my pulse (that pulse oximeter I bought last year came in handy again!) It was still jumping around quite a bit so said I should go to urgent care.

I was seen quickly at urgent care, but even so by the time they took an EKG everything was back to normal. None of the tests they could do told us anything about what had happened, so I was sent home and told that if it happens again I should go straight to either the ER or urgent care so that they can try to catch the irregular rhythm and see what it is. 

So I'm left with waiting and hoping I never know what happened, because the only way to find out is to have it happen again! I am also wondering if the fact that I feel stressed so often and/or the fact that I am struggling to get enough sleep contributed to this event. Of course, whether these factors contributed or not, it would be better to reduce my stress levels and get enough sleep. The trick is in figuring out how to do that when one reason for my elevated stress levels is the difficulty of navigating this ongoing pandemic with one child still unvaccinated and when the reason I'm not getting enough sleep is that same child's sleep difficulties. 

Still, I need to try to make things better. We're trying various things our pediatrician recommended on the sleep front. There isn't much more I can do there, unfortunately, so I'm working on the stress levels. I've started prioritizing my Friday rollerblade outing. I can almost always get away in the early afternoon (this time of year, I want to be done with my rollerblade and leaving Pacific Beach before 4 p.m. to avoid a post-beach traffic jam), I just sometimes have to "pay" for that with an hour or two of work after dinner.  That is not a bad trade at all. Rollerblading again helps, but it is not enough. We have a vacation coming up, so maybe that will help. I am also planning to spend some time in my hammock this weekend, relaxing and thinking about how I can really relax.  If you have some favorite things that help your relax when the world around is so not relaxing... drop them in the comments! I am definitely open to suggestions.

Anyway, let's see what links I have for you this week.

This thread and the linked Lancet article about the cognitive effects of COVID is... sobering. 

As is this interview with Cรฉline Gounder, particularly the part about how much more easily the Delta variant spreads. However, I found her comments on outdoor transmission (still likely to be rare, except perhaps at crowded events) reasuring.

Aubrey Hirsch's cartoon "Not Vax Kids' Summer" is so spot on.

This long thread about what sociology research can tell us about how to deal with anti-vaxxers is really good. Read the whole thing, but I thought this point about how "coolers" (people within the community of the anti-vaxxers who can show them a way back to reality) function was particularly important:

In non-COVID news:

I clicked on this Rachel Aviv article about a German experiment that placed foster children with pedophiles thinking I'd skim or read a bit and then click away but I read the whole thing and am still processing it. It is a really well-written article that made me think about all the ways traumatic events echo through societies.

I have two really interesting podcast episodes to recommend: Ezra Klein's interview with Annie Murphy Paul about all the ways we make it harder for our brains to work and Sean Illing's interview with Michael Pollan about drugs (and his new book This is Your Mind on Plants).

In things that made me smile:

Some Australian cockatoos have learned how to open garbage bins... and more are learning by watching them.

These AI generated images of "LA" are cool:

A recipe I want to try:

Here's this week's rabbit:

Have a good weekend everyone! I am off to try to relax. Well, first I need to take some returns to the post office, but then I can relax!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Back to Risk Assessing Edition

I don't know if I'll have many links for you this week. I got frustrated/depressed by the news about the Delta variant spreading and the heat waves and floods and other climate-related disasters and I decided to spend less time on Twitter and am instead working on a jigsaw puzzle my parents lent me. My husband has already done this one so he is staying away and therefore it is taking me longer to do (which is a good thing since I was looking for an offline distraction).

I am on the fence about what to do about social media long term, but for now I am cutting back and that seems to help a bit.

I don't just delete my accounts because I have gotten some real value out of Twitter. I've learned a lot about various topics over the years, and it was how I was ahead of the game during this pandemic. Tweets that came across my feed were why I'd stocked up a bit on staples before the lockdown. They are why I bought and started wearing masks early. Tweets (and the articles linked in them) have helped me figure out how to keep my family safe while also not being complete hermits.

This is breaking down now, though. I very much want to find reliable information to help me figure out how to keep my unvaccinated 11 year old safe right now, and I am not finding that. Instead, there is a lot of yelling about whether we should be mad at unvaccinated adults or whether our anger/ridicule is keeping them from getting vaccinated. There are a lot of anecdotes about breakthrough infections among the vaccinated, but when I do find real data on that it is still very, very rare.

And today, I read this short article that indicates the vaccines for 5-11 year olds might not be approved until mid-winter. That's going to suck for a lot of elementary schools, particularly in places that are prohibiting mask mandates in school. (My school district sent out an email saying all kids and staff, vaccinated or not, will need to wear masks indoors but probably not outdoors.)

So... what are we doing? I am working on new rules for us based on these observations. I will put links where I have them, but I don't have as many links as I'd like:

  • The Delta variant is definitely easier to spread. I have seen scattered reports of outbreaks in outdoor events, but so far those are events where people are close together for long periods of time, like weddings and parties. I haven't yet found any systematic survey of the risk when outdoors, though.
  • Fully vaccinated adults and teenagers are still really well protected from infection, even with the Delta variant. If they do get sick, they are more likely to have mild symptoms and less likely to end up hospitalized. 
  • Older adults and people with compromised immune systems seem to be at higher risk of breakthrough infections. 
  • There was one anecdote I came across of a family like ours, where 3 out of 4 members are vaccinated. Their 11 year old got infected on vacation and then passed it to the rest. I think vaccinated household contacts of an infected person are at particular risk of breakthrough, but I haven't seen data on this.  It makes sense to me that the vaccinated parents of a sick child would end up sick, because their exposure rate would be so high. 
  • I saw a thread from a patient group that is tracking long COVID that indicated there are some long COVID cases among breakthrough infections. I have also seen plausible arguments from infectious disease experts that you'd expect fewer long COVID cases among the vaccinated who get sick, because there should be lower viral load. I think we just do not know yet what the risk of long COVID is for vaccinated people. 
  • Data from the UK indicates that kids do get long COVID.
  • Kids are also at risk for MIS-C, a covid-related disease that we don't really understand yet.

Looking at all of this, I think Petunia is the family member most at risk because she is completely unprotected. She has mild exercise induced asthma but no other risk factor, so if she gets sick, her risk of serious illness is low, but I have no way to assess her risk of long COVID or MIS-C. 

If Petunia gets sick, there is a good chance that the rest of us will, too. Our risk of serious illness is low but I don't really know what to think about our risk of long COVID.

Basically, we still need to be careful because the pandemic is not over and our vaccine protection cannot be complete until Petunia turns 12.

I wish all people who are eligible for vaccines would get them and that we'd all wear masks indoors until either transmission is really, really low or vaccines are available for everyone. But neither of those things will happen.

So what will our family do to keep safe? Here's my plan right now:

  • We all wear masks in any indoor public place. I bought another box of KF94s. Petunia will wear those while shopping, etc. The vaccinated people in the family can wear our cloth masks, but I wore a KF94 for a recent doctor's appointment and I think that if in doubt, I will err on the side of the better mask.
  • None of us will dine indoors at a restaurant until we are all vaccinated. We will eat outdoors at restaurants, though, looking for well-spaced patios.
  • If we go to an outdoor event, we will not be in close quarters with other people whose vaccination status we cannot know. While the kids were in Arizona last month, my husband and I went to a local rugby game. That felt fine because it wasn't packed, so we could sit more than 6 feet away from other people. I would not go to a crowded event right now.
  • We will still see vaccinated friends and family without masking, but will bias towards outdoor get togethers. Luckily, the weather in San Diego right now makes that an easy choice.

I wish I had prevailed in the discussion about where to take our vacation this year. I wanted to do a car trip here in California, but Mr. Snarky wanted to visit a new state. We settled on a trip to Washington state, with the majority of the time spent at National Parks. We will fly to Seattle. I am feeling far less good about this decision now than I did when we made the reservations but I think it is still not a very high risk.

We haven't cancelled our vacation but I am doing extra research to make sure I have a lot of restaurant options so that we can be sure we never eat indoors. As my kids got older, I starting doing less research ahead of a trip because they could roll with delayed meal times or a longer than expected walk a bit better. I am back to the level of research I did when they were toddlers. I don't mind doing this research (and even enjoy parts of it) so that's OK.

We'll all wear KF94 masks on the plane and the masks will go on when we enter the airport in San Diego and won't come off until we leave the airport in Seattle. We will hope that a flight between two cities with good vaccination rates will be OK, particularly since masks are still required on flights. And I will do my best not to worry.

OK, on to the minimal other links I have!

The stories coming out of Missouri are so sad.

On the impact of the child cash benefit. I hope we can make this permanent. 

This excerpt from Michael Bender's book about Trump supporters is definitely worth your time. It is interesting how the rallies made communities of like-minded people and how that filled a need for some people. This quote from one supporter who was at the Capitol on Jan 6, though, blew my mind:

“We weren’t there to steal things. We weren’t there to do damage. We were just there to overthrow the government.”

In recommended listening: Jamil Smith's interview with Kiese Laymon is excellent.

In happy things:

Do you know about the Alaska bear cams? There was a bearapalooza Wednesday night and it was awesome:

Puffin selfie!

Here's your bunny for the week:

Have a good weekend, everyone! 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Heating Up and Cooling Down Edition

We turned on our AC for the first time last night. Petunia hadn't opened her window when we turned the whole house fan on, and so her room hadn't cooled down. It was after the flex alert that had been called to decrease energy usage in the peak hours, so we turned on the heat pump for about an hour. It definitely cools the house fast than the fan does, but we are still minimizing usage. The fan uses far less energy. 

That may change once we get a solar panel and home battery installation completed. We're currently evaluating our options. One of the quotes we got is from the same company who installed our heat pump. In fact, it was from the same person who handled the heat pump installation. He heard that we hadn't used our AC yet this summer and suggested we do a test run soon, so that if there was any problem we could get on the schedule to fix it before it gets hotter and his company gets busier. So, test completed at least.

Speaking of getting hotter... 

David Roberts' latest post on his Volts newsletter is really good. I can't tell if this post is free to all or limited to subscribers. If you can't follow the link - sorry! Basically, he argues that the most important piece of climate policy right now is clean electrification. He calls that the "main dish" and everything else - even if it is a good idea - the side dishes. The reason is that nothing else under discussion now can decarbonize us fast enough. 

Roberts also had a really interesting podcast recently, in which he interviewed Canadian climate activist Tzeporah Berman about a new initiative for a global treaty limiting fossil fuel production. It is a really interesting idea, and Berman is very knowledgeable on the topic of climate change and environmental policy and how activism influences change. She is also a refreshing combination of realistic and optimistic. I am glad I listened to this interview!

In other news... 

Over at Adjusted Latitudes, I wrote about a nice afternoon outing we did in Encinitas.

Here is a cool story about beavers restoring a dry creek bed that was a fire risk.

This thread comparing how South Dakota and Vermont got to similar levels of population immunity is worth your time:

In additional recommended listening: Alie Ward replayed her Ologies episode about marriage this week, and I really liked it.

And in things that made me smile:

This Oatmeal cartoon about wombats.

A pretty blue bird:

Your bunnies for the week:

Have a good weekend everyone!

Saturday, July 03, 2021

Weekend Reading: A Long Weekend Edition

I have a four day weekend for the 4th of July. I'd feel pretty good about that, except my husband has the entire week off next week so while I enjoyed my day off yesterday, I'm going to be pretty jealous next Tuesday when I go back to work and he does not.

Still, I'm going to enjoy the time off I have. I went rollerblading yesterday morning - and I think that will be the last time I go to Mission Bay this weekend. It wasn't too crowded yesterday morning, but there were already a fair number of RVs parked and the port-a-potties were already out, ready for the big crowds that this weekend always draws to the bay. There's a church parking lot in our neighborhood where we can go stand and watch the Sea World fireworks, and that will do for us. 

Anyway, let's get to the links.

First, in case you missed it: I took advantage of the day off yesterday to write up some thoughts I have on where my husband and I are at in our "electrify everything" process and how the incentives right now do not really line up in favor of people making the same decisions we have.

Yesterday I also finished listening to David Roberts' conversation with Saul Griffith and Arch Rao about electrification. I always find conversations with Griffith encouraging. He clearly understands the challenge but he sees a path forward for us to electrify everything and he is very good at making the case for that path. A podcast conversation between Griffith and Ezra Klein is what convinced me that we needed to replace our furnace with an electric heat pump and I still refer people to it for a really clear-eyed view of how to make climate-friendly decisions without necessarily making huge sacrifices in your lifestyle.

Sticking with climate news for a bit: I saw this news release from GM about a new plan to source lithium for batteries from the Salton Sea Geothermal Field and thought (1) cool, and (2) there's a Salton Sea Geothermal Field? Yes, there is and we're building a geothermal power plant there.

This story about Qanon and the California yoga/wellness culture is disturbing.

This thread on the decrease in child asthma ICU visits during the pandemic is really interesting. My asthma is nowhere near this severe but the thing most likely to send me to urgent care for a breathing treatment is a respiratory infection that causes it to flare:

In things that made me smile:

This cartoon caption is genius:

Petunia came back from a visit to my parents and wanted to heart every single hamster she missed seeing on my Twitter feed while she was gone. I like Dory because she looks a lot like our Daisy:

Here are your rabbits for the week:

Have a good weekend!

Friday, July 02, 2021

Field Notes from the Electrify Everything Camp

As you may have noticed, there was no weekend reading post last weekend. I was in Arizona for the weekend, picking up my kids after a week and a half of high quality spoiling from my parents. 

We drove over in the Tesla. This trip did not involve any unexpected multi-hour delays due to charging infrastructure failures like our first Tesla trip to AZ did. We are smarter about charging decisions now, but the infrastructure is also getting better. The Yuma superchargers have had an upgrade and there is a new bank of superchargers in Tacna, about 40 miles away from Yuma. Even with the bad decisions we made on that first trip, we would have been OK if the Tacna station had existed then.

There is still a long way to go on electric car infrastructure, though. The best charger network - and the only one that really supports long road trips - is still exclusively for Teslas. This needs to change but until there is another network than can support the drive to Phoenix one of our cars will always be a Tesla no matter how many obnoxious things Elon Musk does. 

The Tesla network is far from perfect, though. My parents live near downtown Mesa. The closest Tesla supercharger is roughly 20 miles away, at a fancy mall in Scottsdale. There are some destination chargers closer but they are all at hotels and so not available for us to use. 

I completely understand why the Tesla network is set up this way. The people who own Teslas in the Phoenix area are overwhelmingly in Scottsdale, Tempe, and the wealthier parts of Phoenix. But this means that charging is a bit of a logistical problem when we're staying with my parents.

Luckily, there are some L2 chargers on the Blink network in downtown Mesa and we have used those both times we were in Mesa with our Tesla. However, while a supercharger can charge at speeds of more than 200 miles/hour, the L2 chargers in downtown Mesa charge at speeds of 20 miles/hour. We've been able to make this work because the L2 chargers are close to my parents' house, but it is not ideal. Also, the L2 chargers are much more expensive for us to use - still in the the level of cost that we are happy to pay to support the growth of our electric car infrastructure, but definitely more expensive. We paid more to put ~80 miles of range (over 4 hours) on our battery at the L2 charger than we paid to add ~200 miles of range (in about 40 minutes) at the superchargers in Gila Bend.

I didn't check how hot it was in Mesa while we were there. I think it was around 115 degrees Fahrenheit. That is not abnormal for Mesa this time of year, although the area got to such high temperatures earlier than normal this year. Of course, while we were driving home, the terrible heat wave was just starting in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. Hundreds of people died in that heat wave.

Reading the news and thinking about our experiences with trying to make climate-conscious decisions as a consumer is sobering. We are running out of time to prevent a world in which heat waves like what the Pacific Northwest just experienced become ever more common. In fact, far worse heat events will occur. In the recent heat wave, the temperature and humidity stayed below the wet bulb limit for human survival. Temperature and humidity combinations that exceed that limit will come if we continue to warm our planet. 

Consider this quote from the article I linked above:

Wet-bulb temperatures above 86°F (30°C) are rare in the U.S. As wet bulb temperatures approach 95°F, even the healthiest people, relaxing in the shade without heavy clothing and with an endless supply of water, cannot prevent themselves from overheating,” Horton said. “Even at lower wet-bulb temperatures, like 79°F (26°C), those with pre-existing health conditions (like respiratory, cardiovascular, and renal disease), the elderly, as well as those performing strenuous outdoor labor and athletic activities, are at a high risk.”

You can play with this online calculator to see what combinations of heat and humidity will produce dangerous wet bulb temperatures. I used 15 inches of Hg for barometric pressure, since Google tells me that is close to the average at sea level. Using this calculator, I think that Phoenix-level temperatures with Atlanta-level humidity would put you over the wet bulb limit.

And that is just the heat itself. It doesn't even consider the increase in wildfires and hurricanes and other extreme weather events.

We should be decarbonizing as fast as we can, doing everything we can to slow the trajectory we are on. We should have huge incentives in place for people to electrify their lives while we also push to decarbonize our electricity grid. 

That is not what we are doing. My husband and I have made two large decarbonizing purchases in the last few years, purchasing an electric car when our Prius needed replacing and an electric heat pump when our gas furnace needed to go. We are in the process of making our third large decarbonizing purchase now: solar panels and a home battery. In none of these cases are the financial incentives that are available enough to make our purchases cheaper than the corresponding carbon intense choice. The one that comes closest is the electric car. We got a tax credit, and if we'd chosen a cheaper vehicle we might have done better than we would have with an equivalent gas-powered car. But we wanted a car that could make the trip from San Diego to Phoenix. At the time, only a Tesla could do that. There are other electric cars with the range needed now, but they are also not cheap and the charging infrastructure is less robust. 

We did not get a tax credit when we bought the heat pump, because we chose a model optimized for our particular usage pattern and that model did not have the right combination of ratings to qualify for the tax credit. It was definitely more expensive than a straight replacement of our gas furnace would have been, but with the heat pump we also get AC and I think one heat pump might work out cheaper than a gas furnace plus an AC unit. We didn't consider that option, though, so I don't really know.

We will get a tax credit for our solar panels, which will be nice. I have not done the math to figure out when we'll hit break even on the cost of the panels vs. the amount of money saved on power bills, but it will be many years in the future because even with an electric car to charge our power bills just aren't that high. We could cut the cost of the system by forgoing the home battery, but I want it for resilience in case of blackouts and my husband wants it because he likes the idea of eventually being able to make our home carbon neutral - we still have a gas water heater, a gas dryer, and one gas-powered car, so it won't be immediate, but with a sufficient home battery, it will be possible eventually.

In our case, we didn't make our purchasing decisions to save money. We made them because we want to decarbonize. We also soon discovered that our electric items are actually better than what they replaced. Electric cars are quiet, don't produce smelly exhaust, and tend to need much less maintenance than gas-powered cars. I love that for our around town needs we can just charge it in our driveway and never have to stop for gas. It is also fun to drive. There is a long, curvy climb between El Centro and Jacumba on the way home from Arizona. There are spots to pull over roughly every mile because so many cars overheat. Our gas-powered cars always did the climb OK, but you'd get mad if someone pulled in front of you and made you slow down, because you'd lose your momentum and struggle to get it back. The Tesla climbs it with ease and if you have to slow down for another car you can get back up to speed with no trouble. Then on the way back down the hill you drive for miles and miles without seeing your range indicator change because you are taking your excess momentum and charging the battery back up. 

The heat pump is also quieter than the furnace it replaced, and since I am no longer burning gas inside my home, it is better for my asthma. It does a great job of keeping our home a comfortable temperature for the months we need it. 

I do not feel like I have given up anything in choosing to electrify our home heating, and the only trade-off I'm making by owning an electric car could be easily rectified if we'd just invest in better charging infrastructure.

However, right now I did spend more money to make these choices. We should figure out the incentive structure needed to make these choices more financially attractive for everyone. People electrifying now will save us all money in the long run, but not everyone can afford to ignore the price difference at the point of purchase. We also need those incentives to happen at the point of purchase, because not everyone can afford  large upfront expense with a promise of a lower tax bill later.

I think we're at an inflection point for our climate future. We have the technologies we need to significantly slow the rate at which temperatures rise. We need to find the political will to accelerate our adoption of those technologies. 

In the meantime, if you are replacing an energy intensive appliance, please consider electric. Many furnace repair guys will try to talk you out of a heat pump because they find gas furnaces easier to install or just because they are used to thinking of them as the more cost effective choice. But if you live in a relatively temperate climate, a heat pump will heat your house just fine - and even if you don't usually need AC, if you find yourself in an unprecedented heat wave a heat pump will cool your house, too. In colder climates, they sell hybrid systems that use a heat pump while possible and then switch to gas.

I know that not everyone can absorb the inconvenience created by our incomplete charging infrastructure, but if you're buying a car for around the town needs you can probably charge an electric car at home. I know some people who have an electric car and just "trickle charge" with an extension cord from a regular outlet. This only works if you drive <20 miles per day, but if you can install a charging outlet, you'll get plenty of charge overnight. Or consider a hybrid - a plug-in hybrid will get you electric miles for part or all of your commute and give you a gas engine for longer trips. Not interested in dealing with the plug-in part? A regular hybrid acts just like any other car, with much better gas mileage.

Every carbon conscious decision we make buys us a little more time to get our political act together. I'd say "do it for our kids" but as I've learned over the course of this pandemic, a lot of people aren't even willing to wear a mask for our kids... so maybe do it to make your life a little more resilient to ransomware attacks and the climate changes that are already coming? I don't know what the right argument would be. But if you have any questions about what owning an electric car or an electric heat pump is like - definitely ask in the comments! I will give you the unvarnished truth, because honestly that truth is pretty darn good.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Weekend Reading: School's Out for Summer Edition

The school year is over and we have done a drive-through fifth grade promotion ceremony and an outdoors, socially distanced eighth grade graduation ceremony. Both kids were happy with their celebrations and we are proud of both of their achievements. Attending a foreign language immersion school adds some extra challenges to school. Both of our kids have really excelled. 

So if you are wondering where last week's post was... well, it was sandwiched between fifth grade promotion and eighth grade graduation and family was in town and things were busy and I never found time to sit down and write anything.

This weekend, my kids are off visiting my parents - their first visit to to their grandparents' house in roughly two years. My parents had come over to stay with my kids the week before lockdown happened last March, so that my husband and I could go to LA for his birthday. Once we came back from that trip, we were all together up until Wednesday morning of this week, when the kids drove off my my parents. It has been a bit weird adjusting to not having them here! But they are having fun and so are we and I suspect this is good for everyone.

Mr. Snarky and I have gone out for a couple of dinners and had a couple of beers at two brewery tasting rooms. This being San Diego in June, everything has been outdoors or as good as outdoors (big open windows and lots of fresh air) but we have been a lot closer to people not in our family than we have been in a long, long time. That feels a little weird, too, but we're adjusting. I am not sure if this will last - I am watching the Delta variant a little nervously. San Diego county has high vaccination rates, but I am sure the distribution is not at all even and so I think we should all be aware that case rates could go back up. I am particularly nervous for the South, which has really low vaccination rates. 

There is an absolutely tragic story out of Florida about a group of six employees, five of whom caught COVID and two of whom have died. The one who did not get sick was the only one who was vaccinated.

If anyone reading this is not yet vaccinated and is eligible to be vaccinated - please get vaccinated. But I suspect I am preaching to the choir here.

I am somewhat hopeful that once the Novavax vaccine is available (they have announced their trial results, which were good.) it might give some people who have been vocal against the other vaccines a graceful opportunity to climb down from that ledge - Novavax is a protein subunit vaccine, which is much more traditional vaccine technology and has no genetic material in it so the people worried about the vaccines "changing their DNA" (which they do not do!) can get the Novavax vaccine without admitting they were wrong about the other vaccines. We'll see. 

Of course, some people are worried about the Spike protein itself. Derek Lowe has a good writeup about that and why you shouldn't worry.

Here is a good thread about why the Delta variant makes so many people nervous:

In other news:

Monica Hesse's essay about motherhood in the US hit close to home.

In recommended listening:

I learned a lot from Ezra Klein's interview with Jamila Michener about poverty in the US.

In happy things:

I posted another music video in my video tourism series over at Adjusted Latitudes. This one is from Cape Town, South Africa, and I love the dancing in it.

Here's a cool story about a rare orchid being found in the rooftop garden of a bank in London.

This portal project in Lithuania and Poland is interesting.

And that's all I have this week. We have some errands to run and a beach to walk on!

Here's your rabbit for the week. Look how fuzzy!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Not Much of a Weekend Reading Post

I didn't get a chance to write my weekend reading post this morning. My morning just got away from me. I'd stayed up too late the night before because it was nice to actually get to relax and watch random things with my husband. Petunia's been having a hard time with sleep for months now,  and it is seriously cutting into our time to just hang out together. Of course, this is just a taste of the future - as our kids become teenagers, they will stay up later and maybe our "kid-free" time will need to be in the morning. Or maybe we just need to adjust to having it while they are awake but ignoring us and playing computer games in their bedrooms.

Last night, we ended up watching an episode of a British show called Modern Life is Goodish and this "found poem" about the silencing of Big Ben for maintenance had me in tears laughing. It was good to laugh like that.

So, I was up too late but still woke up early. I heard Pumpkin get up. She had her second shot yesterday and I wondered how she was feeling. The answer was "so-so." She had a fever and a headache and hadn't eaten breakfast so I got her some food and ibuprofen and tried to go back to bed but I couldn't get back to sleep so I got up. I was tired, though, so ended up snoozing a bit more and before I knew it, it was almost the time I'd told Petunia we could go to Target.

Petunia wanted a new outfit to wear for her 5th grade promotion (a drive through affair) and matching t-shirts for her and four friends to wear for "twins day"... and so we went to Target. I hadn't been inside in probably close to a year and  I think I may stick with online and curbside shopping as much as I can. It took ages to get everything on our list and there were so many other people and even though everyone was nice about it we were all in each others' way.

Anyway, that's why this post is getting written at 9 p.m. instead of 9 a.m.

One of the things I started back at the start of the pandemic to try to cheer Petunia up was a weekly movie night. I am not a big movie person so this has been a bit of a struggle for me, but the kids like it and so we keep it going. I have to admit it was fun to show the kids the Back to the Future series and thanks to my husband's picks I have finally seen a lot of famous movies - Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Men in Black, National Treasure...

Tonight, we watched Raya and the Last Dragon. It was finally free on Disney+ and I am a big sap who generally enjoys animated Disney movies. Petunia says she prefers Pixar these days but she wanted to see it, too. It was enjoyable. It has a nice message about the need to trust each other to heal the world... and after it was over, I opened Twitter and saw at least three arguments grounded in either bad faith or an ungenerous reading of someone else's tweet and all I could think was "we are so doomed."

So that was fun. I should probably spend less time on Twitter. Or move more of the "serious" people out of my main feed onto lists I can check when I'm in the mood and fill my main feed with cute animals and the like.

But - without Twitter, I wouldn't have many links for weekend reading so there's that.

Speaking of links, here's what I have this week:

The Texas Democrats managed to sink a truly bad voting restrictions bill. I wish the Senate Democrats could figure out a path forward to put some voting rights protections back in place but everyone seems to be living in fantasyland - Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema seem to think they are going to convince 10 Republicans to vote for any sort of voting rights bill and a big chunk of everyone else seems to think that there is some magic move Biden or Schumer can make to change Manchin and Sinema's minds and no one seems to have a plan to deal with the major threats to our democracy that are happening right now. 

I have no idea how we get out of this mess. Josh Marshall has some interesting thoughts on the situation that are worth your time.

Despair does no one any good, but honestly it is hard not to despair sometimes. The stakes are so high and so few people are rising to the needs of the moment.

But Ezra Klein's interview with Barack Obama left me feeling a bit better. It is also worth your time.

So did David Roberts' talk with Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich, in a different sort of way.

That's all I have this week.

Here's your rabbit of the week:

And here is a bonus bunny butt:

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Better Late than Never Edition

Friday was my birthday, and I decided to take the day off to make an extra long weekend. In fact, I'm taking Tuesday off, too. I am trying to recover from the burnout I've been feeling, or at least recover enough to make it to the "real" summer vacation we have planned for later. I am feeling a little less stressed but I am also still waking up with the last dream I remember being about work... so let's call itmixed success.

I guess work dreams are better than dreams about the other thing that has been on my mind lately, which is the fate of American democracy. It is frustrating and exhausting that after working so hard to win the presidency, House, and Senate in 2020 we can't just kick back and relax a bit but instead are still facing scary threats to our democracy. Frustrating, exhausting, but not really surprising when I think about it. 

And to be honest, I did kick back and relax a bit. I swore before the 2020 election that I'd keep writing postcards until Republicans stopped being a threat to democracy. They have not stopped - if anything, the voter suppression laws and anti-democracy behavior has intensified - but I haven't written a postcard or letter to a potential voter all year. I can truthfully point to the exhausting pandemic situation as part of the reason for the extended post-election break, but it doesn't really matter why I became less active. What matters is that my anxiety about the situation is high, and I know from the past that the best way to feel less anxious is to do something. 

So I went to look to see which of the organizations I've written for in the past have active campaigns. The best option right now is probably Postcards for Virginia, but Postcards to Voters has at least one active campaign, too (also in Virginia). Vote Forward doesn't have anything active. I will choose one of the postcard campaigns and write some postcards next week.

I haven't been listening to Pod Save America as often these days - I prefer in depth interview podcasts and have other ways to get my news - but I saw that their most recent episode was in part about how we can respond to the current threats to democracy, so I listened to it yesterday. It was indeed a good summary of the situation, with a hefty dose of reality about whether anyone can change Joe Manchin's mind. He seemed genuinely upset that the January 6 commission vote was filibustered. To be honest, Lisa Murkowski sounded pretty disgusted, too. Will that matter? Who knows. And it is not something I can change, so I need to focus my attention elsewhere. 

The Pod Save America podcast referenced this post from Dan Pfieffer with ideas for where to send your money. I'm going to pick a few and donate today.

If you'd like a less partisan podcast to alarm you about the state of our democracy, Ezra Klein's interview with historian Nicole Hemmer fits the bill.

If you'd like to read an article with a deep dive on one of the disturbing things going on right now, here's a good article about the "audit" in Maricopa county.

In other topics:

If you've ever wondered why you get certain ads on social media, this thread is for you:

And this unusual perspective on juggling made me smile:

Here's your bunny for the week:

And with that, I am going to get back to relaxing. Have a good weekend, everyone!