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!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Weekend Reading: The Catching Up Edition

So, last week's post didn't happen. My Friday afternoon was spent on kid things - I took Pumpkin for her first shot and then Petunia to get the tips of her hair dyed blue. She's experimenting with color with temporary dye before she decides if she wants something semi-permanent and so we had to reapply the dye last night. I did an OK job of that I think!

Anyway, I didn't get much work done on Friday afternoon and so I had to work Saturday morning and then I didn't really want to be on the computer after that.

Also, I was feeling pretty annoyed by the CDC's new mask guidance in general and by how the reporting on it was received by Petunia in particular. She has watched as time after time during this pandemic adults have made decisions that seem to ignore her and her peers. We opened indoor dining before we opened schools, and in fact it seemed like some of the opening we did back in last July was responsible for a spike in cases that kept schools closed in the fall. And then we did it again in October and the spike around the holidays scuppered plans to open after the winter break. 

Now she's back in school, with masks and distancing and weird rules at lunch and she's watching adults who can be vaccinated decide that masks aren't required even though she and her friends have no option to get vaccinated.

All of which means she's decided adults don't really care about kids and is feeling ignored and left behind. So it seemed a good time to finally take action on her request for blue hair.

I have been at a loss for how to help her understand the decisions our society has made over the last year and a half, but I think maybe I have the seed of what I need to tell her, which came from a podcast I listened to yesterday. It was Sean Illing's conversation with Max Linsky about Linsky's new podcast 70 over 70. The entire conversation is really, really good and I recommend it highly (and yes, now I've started 70 over 70). The bit that made me realize how I can help Petunia understand our pandemic response was when they were talking about how some people implied (or outright said) that the pandemic wasn't such a big deal because it was mostly killing people over 80. One of them made the point about how America has such a strong libertarian streak running through our culture and that gives us a "you are responsible for yourself and don't owe anyone else anything" ethos that really messes us up in times of crisis like a pandemic.

But what I'll point out to Petunia is that many, many people didn't take care of only themselves and that a lot of people have taken a lesson from the pandemic that maybe that "everyone is on their own" ethos is a bad one and are working to make a different ethos more common. Maybe we have a chance to truly build back better here. 

Also, in the end my state and county decided to stick with their original plans and keep the indoor mask mandate until June 15.  San Diego county's vaccination progress is good - we're at just over 50% of the population vaccinated, and if I'm reading the report right at over 65% of the eligible population have had at least one shot. Our case rates are way down, too.

We'll still need to figure out what we will do about masks once the mandates are gone. I found this article helpful on that topic.

This is the end of a long, data-filled thread about what we know about transmission of infection by vaccinated people:

And this is a good look at how we're undercounting the occurance of MIS-C (the post-COVID inflammatory syndrome) in kids.

Brian Beutler wrote about his experience with long COVID and it is a disturbing thing to read right after your husband reads statistics to you from the Economist about how many kids get long COVID (it is not as many as adults but it is also not zero).

Jessica Valenti is righteously angry - and right - about how American mothers have been treated during the pandemic.

I thought this Charlie Warzel piece about burnout and the need for companies to lead in giving workers time to recover from the weird and exhausting past year was really good. I looked at my leave balance and my burnout level and realized there was a serious mismatch. I asked for the ability to take some time off without pay and was granted it, so I am merrily burning down my leave balance this summer with plans to take time off without pay in the fall/winter when I am out of PTO. I can afford to do this and so I have a path to deal with burnout. But many people cannot or will not feel they can ask for the special accommodation and will just burn all the way out.  

Companies would be smart to head this off - because it is the right thing to do but also because if they don't they will lose a lot of good employees. Recruiters are out in force right now. It has been years since I have had so many recruiter contacts. Burned out people are more likely to listen to the recruiter and make a move. Also, a few weeks off between jobs is one of the few accepted ways to get a break in our culture and I wonder if that is playing into people switching jobs.

I had an interesting call with a recruiter and I've spent the past several days sorting through how it made me feel but I'm not quite ready to write about it - it is tied up with some more general thinking about jobs and career and life that I've been doing. I may write about it soon.

In other news... the results of the recent trial treating PTSD with MDMA and therapy are really encouraging and Derek Lowe has an excellent write-up on them.

I thought this was a good opinion piece about the anti-Trump Republicans, their best path for countering the pro-Trump Republicans, and why that is such a hard path for them to take.

This observation from the chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is spot on:

In recommended listening - the Sean Illing-Max Linsky interview I mentioned above is my top pick but I also enjoyed revisiting the 80s Satanic Panic in his interview with Sarah Marshall (and then trying to explain what happened to my husband...) and David Roberts' discussion with Washington state legislator Joe Fitzgibbon about Washington's awesome new climate laws is both encouraging and a good look at how laws that will impact climate change actually get passed.

Some smile-inducing things:

This beautiful bird:

These beautiful babies:

This looks so peaceful:

This tweet and the embedded thread are delightful stories about New York City:

Here's your bunny for the week:

Happy weekend, everyone!

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!