Friday, January 19, 2018

Top Chef and Dysfunctional Teams

I usually have less to say on a weekly basis about "Top Chef" but well, for those of you who watched this week and know my need to discuss the failures of dysfunctional teams, here we are.  The conceit was three teams of three with each chef's course having a time limit and a slightly different challenge in an Olympic nod. Skating judge type scoring would be used for each round, with the team's total being calculated across rounds for winning and losing teams.  
The white team lost.  What was clear to both the viewers at home and the folks in the room (where there were non-judge guests who had been assigned table colors to encourage them to route for a team) was that Claudette, who had the first round for her team really seemed to be working alone while a lot of help plating was being given to the other two team members up first.  Claudette was shown to ask for a number of things, and it was pretty clear that Tanya was frustrated since this was all happening at the time she could have been prepping for her stuff.  I go back and forth on this.  Tanya clearly felt she was helping more than she needed to, and at one point said, I'm gonna need your help because I'm behind now.  So Claudette stopped asking for help and then when called out for having a meal that lacked balance was very quick to note she had not gotten the help she'd needed. 
So, it was clear that these three chefs had very different ideas of what kind of teamwork should be put into place for this challenge and once you're in the weeds it can be really tough to figure out how to recover because you are already overwhelmed.  As someone who is still working on the remaining items from busy season at my day job, we've had a lot of meeting about what went wrong and why we're behind and a lot of it kind of looks like this - basically I would have been on time if these folks had been willing to provide me this assistance and if I had known going in they would be stretched or unavailable I would have planned differently. 
So, then Tanya was up and she had made a critical error guessing the temperature of her meat.  On top of that, she had taken the precise cuts round and felt she had needed early prep time to work on her cuts, and her prep time had, from her perspective become help Claudette time.  One thing I think the show kind of glided over was there was a third member of this team who really didn't seem to be helping anyone either.  Chris mentioned in his talking head spot he had noticed the tension and decided he couldn't be distracted by it which, umm, okay.  
So, in the end, this team ended up in the bottom but Chris, who mostly didn't help anyone, had the best meal of the three, so he wasn't in jeopardy. Which is not uncommon in these team challenges, and why so often you see folks saying, I knew we were going down, I just figured this was the thing I could save.  It worked for him, because from what we saw, no one cared that he hadn't helped his team, and no one was mad that he hadn't helped, Claudette was mad that Tanya hadn't helped enough, and Tanya was mad that Claudette didn't want to acknowledge the help that had been given, and so, Chris sat their looking like the nice guy, Claudette saved herself in part by blaming Tanya, and Tanya, in the end went to Last Chance Kitchen. Look Tanya made enough critical errors, that I'm not saying she didn't deserve to go home.  But, this was dysfunction across the team.  Sacrificing your food for others never works out, but it's so hard to watch not helping others get so rewarded. Or rewarded unequally.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1. The Another Round podcast did a great episode where one of the hosts talked to a lot of people about what the DNA company results really mean, so much of this article describing how three companies can provide different results, and how your results will change as the database grows, was less of a surprise to me, but still very interesting. 
2. Calling out racism is good for your health.  Pass it on. 
3. The missile alert in Hawaii created an opportunity for us to discuss many things that are wrong, including any time you have the opportunity to accidentally send a message to a large group of people, you should also have plan to rescind or retract that message. Coming so close to the anniversary of the overthrow it's also a sign of how we mistreat the island parts of our nation.  This should be much bigger than haha, some dude pushed the wrong button.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

More Podcastery

Last year I wrote about all the podcasts I listen to. Here are the changes I made for this year.  There's still too many and I need to trim some more but right now, this is where I am. 

1A NPR current events (Male Host)
The Broadway Cast - Playbill show talking about Broadway. (Male Host, rotating guests)
Everybody's Got Something - ABC's Robin Roberts interviews folks about their something (often struggle/survival). (Female host)
I Hate It But I Love It - Guilty pleasure pop culture (Female hosts)
The Kojo Nnamdi Show - Current events in DC and beyond (Male host)
Literaticast - Discussion of Kidlit publishing (Female host, rotating guests)
Making the Sausage - A deep look behind the scenes on TV shows (Male host, rotating guests) - on hiatus
Offshore - Stories from Hawaii Public Radio about the non-touristy bits of Hawaii (Female Host)
The Table Live - topics through a faith lens.  (Two Female Hosts, both of Christian persuasion, one of whom is known to me in real life.)
30 for 30 Podcasts - Sports documentaries (Male host, rotating guests)
Ear Hustle - Life in Prison (Female host, male experts)
Sweet and Sour - This Asian American Life (Two Female hosts)
Traitor Radio - Their tagline is, "A resistance podcast for short attention spans" (Female host, rotating guest) - now on hiatus
Up First - Short NPR recap of the morning's news 

Short run Shows
S-Town - (Male host)
36 Questions (Male and Female main characters) Fictional musical podcast. 

Update - Love And Radio - it was probably always true, but it became more clear to me this season that sometimes, in their attempts to make sure folks are heard in their own words, problematic statements are allowed to stand.  It's still a fascinating look at different folks, but something to keep in mind. 

Sampled - All of these I liked they just didn't survive the cut when my podcastery got out of control
Delete UR Account - Current Events (Male and Female hosts)
Jules and James - Fictional chance meeting story.  (Male and female main characters)
Reply All - Unusual stories from around the internet (Male hosts)
99% Invisible - design is everywhere in our lives (male host, rotating guests)
Reality Bytes - Dating in the Digital Age (Female hosts)
Smart Podcast Trashy Books - Discussions about romance books (Female host, rotating guests)
With Friends Like These - Hot topics of a liberal bent (Female host, rotating guests)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Three Interesting Things

1.  I had heard about the media men list from a friend in media. The original author speaks wonderfully about why such a list came to be, and how there was more outrage over the need for such a list than the reason for such a thing. 
2. I am all for DC having all the choices for biking and shared biking.  This post did a great job looking at how dockless bikes close a number of gaps
3. Teenagers discovered a substitute teacher was a white supremacist. 

Monday, January 08, 2018

2017 Reading Tally

Total Number: 153*.  There's an additional 32 if we count all of the novella shorts and anthologies, I counted by covers, so 11 are a novella or anthology.   In other years tallies have been higher and lower

I read 114 different authors**. 57 of those were new to me. Megan Erickson, alone and paired with Santino Hassell, was the author I read the most with 5.  Next highest was Sherry Thomas with 4. 
I continue to track book diversity by characters, since there is not reliable data on authors but I can try to pay attention when I read. I had 82 this year, and some of them were even intersectional, as in characters of color who were also bisexual, and/or neuro-diverse, and/or having a mental illness.
82 were part of a series***. 
The oldest book was from 1999. Next oldest was from 2006. 55 were from 2016. One had been lingering in the TBR since 2008.  December was the banner reading month with 17. Romance was the highest read category with 76. YA was next highest with 42. 
I read 12 paper books and 14 audio, everything else was ebook. 
And some faves from the 2017 haul are:
The Rogue Desire anthology did that near impossible thing, where I liked everything in the anthology.  (I am still working my way through the next, but they are continuing on.)
Lorelie Brown's Take Me Home was a fun romance that started with a silly challenge, I can be your shocking Thanksgiving date if you promise there is pie.
Kate Elliott's Court of Fives started slow for me (I am really impatient you guys) so I switched to listening to it in audio and then bang, got to places I couldn't wait, and finished it back up in print.  
Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell's Cyberlove series was a lot of fun, and we're now getting to a point where internet fame in books is a thing.
Tiffany Jackson's Allegedly looked at a girl who'd spent years in the juvenile justice system.  It features what some might call an unreliable narrator, to me it read as someone who'd been living with so many told to them versions of what happened, including the ones they told themself, that it took some untangling.
Paul Kreuger's Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge was monsters and cocktails.
Tracey Livesay wrote me amnesia and you can read it too.  Love on My Mind is a brother's fiancee which is typically a hard no for me, but it worked for me. Fiancee gets injured leaving future bro-in-law's restaurant, he escorts her to the hospital and fudges the relationship because his brother is out of the country.  Brother basically says awesome, can't get back, keep looking after her. And she has lost just enough time when she comes to to not remember the original fiance and some other life changes she made.
Julie Ann Long's Hot in Hellcat Canyon was a fun story of two people both with relationship experience, approaching how that worked for them.
Courtney Milan et al's Hamilton's Battalion was a delightful trifecta of stories from or just after the revolution.
Renee Watson's This Side of Home was a fun novel, that also looked at gentrification from the point of view of two twins. 
Nic Stone's Dear Martin I listened to on audio, so hadn't realized until I heard an interview that some of the scenes are intentionally light on setting. It captured the teenage years as you start to figure out the really big scope of unfairness in the world and grapple with how to address that.

*I counted re-reads if I re-read the whole thing a didn't just skip to my favorite parts. 
**I counted authors, not pen names, where possible.  I counted anthologies as one author, because it was just too unwieldy otherwise. 
***Series is based on the book being part of a series, whether or not I read any others.