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...