Friday, April 03, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Day 14

Today's prompt is intermission.  

I was counting by prompts, but since there was a day off, it was confusing me, so now counting by days.  As noted previously, leaving the prior posts as is until this finishes, so they don't repost until this is all done.  

Previous entries: Day one, day two, day three, day four, day five, day six, day seven, (day eight was an off day), day nine, day ten, (day eleven was an off day), day twelve, day thirteen.   


The Blizzards were currently sitting at the bottom of the division, unlikely to even make the cut for the playoffs unless several teams were sucked up by a spaceship in the next few weeks. They'd had coaching issues and some key injuries, it just wasn't a good year for them.  But that meant they played tonight like they had nothing to lose.  There had been sixty eight official shots on goal, and Al felt like he felt every single one of them.  Of course it didn't work like that.  The shots on goal was just the official shots, not all the nudges, bumps, and everything else that happened throughout the game.
Coach had given them a rousing pep talk during the first intermission when they had been down two.  The second intermission the locker room had been eerily quiet. In the end, they finished four to two, resulting in the first Domes loss at home this month.  Al knew intellectually it didn't matter if you lost away or at home, but it always felt like a bigger deal. 

And he knew Sienna had been up in the owner's box.  This had been the first loss she'd attended.  He wondered if she would quit hockey after this.  Some folks only liked the days they won.  Asked for refunds on the days they didn't. 
Al had a basketball game waiting for him when he got home.  He just had to get up off this bench and go outside.  He didn't know quite what he was sitting in there waiting for.

The reporters and press weren't gone, but they had all moved into the area for the post-game press conference, so he was able to walk quietly through the hallways of the arena.  He heard voices up ahead and spotted Daisy talking to Sienna. He almost turned around.  Even though the only other way out of the arena took his past the press room.  

 "Hey, Al," Daisy said.  "Sienna was asking about the junior league teams we work with regularly.  It was a tough game.  But we're still in good shape for the season." 

Al smiled because Daisy was nice and she meant well.  This was why he stayed away from post game interviews as much as he could.  He hated false cheer as much as he hated explaining that some nights the other team played in a way that led to more scoring.  It wasn't even about better or worse.  Teams playing like crap pulled off wins sometimes too. 

"I'll email you to get more info," Sienna said.  "Thanks so much for everything." She looked at Al.  "Could you walk me out?" 

"Sure," Al said even though he was worried she wanted to try whatever her brand of soothing him after a game was.  If parts of him perked up a little at the possible images that evoked, other muscles screamed for sleep.  He had already moved past the post-game full of energy, can't sit still mode. 

Once they were around the corner, Sienna patted his elbow.  "I can actually find my way out of here, but you looked like you needed an out. I'm just going to metro." 

"Me too," he said. 

"Hockey players take metro?"  Sienna asked.  "They don't like mob you or something?" 

Al huffed a laugh.  "No.  Although tonight they might want to throw things at me.  But even with social media and all that, I look different without the mask." 

"I'd recognize you," Sienna said. 

"Well, fortunately for me, most people don't." He did pull out a hat emblazoned with the local WNBA team's name and stick it on though. 

"Still looks like you to me," Sienna said.  "But people do see what they want to see."  She gave him a look like she was fighting asking a question. 

"Spit it out," Al said. 

"I have a thing to ask you, but now is probably not the time.  Can I text you tomorrow maybe?"

"Sure,"  he said. 

"Cool.  I'm headed this way."  She pointed down the street.  "Talk to you later." 

He watched her leave, to make sure she stayed safe of course.  She was still wearing his jersey but it didn't cover up the slim fit jeans she was wearing, and of course, he had a very good memory for what those legs looked like in shorts.
Definitely time for him to get home.  

Zoey Update

Here's the interesting thing. "Crazy Ex Girlfriend" and the movie version of "Chicago" both used a musical viewpoint as a thing the main character saw and everyone else didn't. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" even tied it to the character's mental health. 
"Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" keeps trying to have it's cake and eat it too. They also aren't picking songs that suit the voices of their cast. 
So, I am going to now spoil the hell out of this week's episode. 
I am all for Jane Levy getting a chance to sing. But spending this many episodes building up Zoey's ability to hear other people's inner songs as a super power, only to use it as a sign of suppression in the main character, well, it's ghost sex (to make a "Grey's Anatomy" reference). It's yanking the rug from under your viewers and telling them everything they have been told by the show is wrong, it isn't a cool trick. It sucks.
Also, sidenote. Apparently women are not allowed to not be romantically involved with a coworker. Platonic relationships don't exist. Also, their one LGBTQ character is barely making it past stereotype and that's mostly because of a stellar performance.
Back to the songs. In addition to the betrayal of the audience, its also a character betrayal. Zoey got a peek into folk's heart songs, but it was just Zoey. Zoey's songs were revealed to everyone. Uncontrollably. Zoey was embarrassed personally and professionally. 
Now I know these songs worked differently than the others. But then I'm back to the show needs rules. If the songs are sometimes in Zoey's head but sometimes not, without any rhyme or reason, then that's honestly a world building fail. In Broadway musicals people sing things that other can and cannot here, and there are clear ways to do that with staging.  The show is refusing to do this.  And then to use their lack of world building as an excuse to embarass their main character, it's pretty awful. Jane Levy is a wonderful performer.  I was thrilled to see this.  But there was not a convincing reason for her heart songs to work differently than other people's.  
I put up with a lot for good song and dance numbers. But this show is suffering an identity crisis.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Day

Today's prompt is skates.  

Previous days linked below.  Note: I was counting by prompts, but since there are days off, it was confusing me, so now counting by days.  As noted previously, leaving the prior posts as is until this finishes, so they don't repost until this is all done.   Previous entries: Day one, day two, day three, day four, day five, day six, day seven, (day eight was an off day), day nine, Day ten, Day eleven was a day off), Day twelve.

"So, I've been invited to be on the hockey podcast," Sienna said.  They were having another KeKi meeting in the coffee shop.

 

"The 'All Things Must Pass' one or a different one," Jay asked.

  

"That's the one," Sienna said.  "Okay, so I'm going to say a thing that makes me sound like a fun hating jerk, but hear me out."

 

Sienna nodded.  Jay often brought the practical side to their partnership, and sometimes it meant Sienna needed to push her to be more excited about things, but often she was right.

 

"So," Jay said, "you said when we started that part of your goal was to push away from being just a body.  And I know it's not the same, but there's a way where you turn out to have a really interesting and unique perspective on hockey, and you find people that appreciate that.  And there's also a way where you just become like a glorified trophy girl blowing kisses at the players."

Sienna didn't cringe but she wanted to.  But Jay was right.  Sienna could push this in the direction she wanted, but sometimes her first idea was to blow a kiss for the camera and that wasn't the brand she was building now.  That was old Sienna.  She nodded.  "Yeah, yeah, I hear you."

 

"Okay, I will sit back.  And obviously, I think the stuff you did with the volleyball team was great.  We got a lot of signups that mentioned that.  And the volleyball team applied to be a featured sponsor next month.  So when their season starts up we should look into stuff.  The cross stuff."

"Cross promo?" Sienna asked.  "Yeah,  I'll check in with them on that."

 

Jay turned back to her screen and Sienna scrolled through more of her email.  The junior hockey team wanted to know if she'd come to their last game.  And there was another email from Daisy.  Sienna opened it up.  Yup, they wanted to know if she'd come to another game.  This time the owner was offering to let her join him in his box which was fancy.  She wondered if you still wore a jersey for that or something a little dressier.

 

She told Daisy yes, of course.  Sienna had turned into a hockey fan, even watching their away games on her tablet and adding a score alert app to her phone.  If she had set up a fake insta to check on a certain goalie, well, that was just her newfound love of hockey.  But Jay had a point.  Just like she'd had to lock down her DMs because people thought the #UnderMyJersey stuff meant she had some interest in their dick pics, people were going to try and push her in a lot of directions.

 

The key was to make sure they were the directions she wanted to go,  Skimpy on skates, wasn't anything she needed to do or be.  But sharing interest in a sport she hadn't previously known a lot about, there were plenty of reasons to engage in that.  But given her history, people were going to assume she was in this to find a dude.  And intriguing goalie or not, Sienna could not afford to put herself back in the public relationship space.  It was a danger to her brand, a danger to her heart, and she didn't know quite which one scared her more.  But she could handle this.  Navigating media both social and not, was something Sienna had been doing for quite some time.

 

Three Interesting Things

1. This interview with Keke Palmer is such a delightful representation of millenial cutlure. I had nothing to do with Keke becoming a child star who has transitioned well to being a public facing adult, but I am still happy for her.
2. My love of all things "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" is no surprise to folks here, so this piece on Adam Schelsinger, who died yesterday of complications of COVID-19, talking about his collaborative spirit, is just lovely.  
3. Warning - plays video and contains a friend of mine.  I didn't know Christina when she graciously let me on her "Leverage" podcast to discuss my love of Parker, but through the course of this we have become friends.  This peek at what her library is doing for these times is delightful. . 

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Day 12

Today's prompt is hat trick.  

Previous days linked below.  Note: I was counting by prompts, but since there are days off, it was confusing me, so now counting by days.  As noted previously, leaving the prior posts as is until this finishes, so they don't repost until this is all done.   Previous entries: Day one, day two, day three, day four, day five, day six, day seven, (day eight was an off day), day nine, Day ten, Day eleven was a day off.)

They had given Sienna seats on his side of the ice tonight.  Well, the side Al would be on for first and last period.  They wanted to play the volleyball video during one of the period breaks.  The player shad been given the option to watch it, but Al hated watching that stuff, so he had passed.  Not even the chance to see Sienna in those shorts again was quite enough. 

They were playing the Herders tonight. The Domes were on track to take their division, and since the Herders were in it, a win would be extra nice.  But the Herders were generally good sports, so Al expected the game to be competitive but fun. 

He glanced over and saw Sienna in her seat, wearing the jersey with his number again.  He wasn't a super famous goalie, people often used adjectives like hard-working and steady to describe him.  So yeah, his jersey was in the team store just like everyone else's.  He had sent a few to his parents.  And a few folks wore it to the game.  But he didn't usually spot folks in the stands with his number. 

He moved his shoulders getting himself ready.  If people wearing your jersey was an indicator of anything, well, all the forwards would score hat tricks every night. 

He sipped from his water bottle and skated back and forth in front the goal.  Once the game started he was fully focused. 

It stayed scoreless through the first period, although there had been plenty of shots on goal to keep Al busy.  One of the Herders wingers was spending a lot of time camped out near Al like if he couldn't make a play himself he was going to get the assist. 

Al had mentioned it to a few the defenders, but they laughed it off. 

Beginning of the second period, Kunyk scored in the first few minutes.  It was good, but Al knew that the Herders were going to play even harder now. 

Sure enough the puck barreled back towards him and there was that Herder's forward lurking nearby.  Spruce stole the puck and disappeared around the backside of the goal with it.  Al glanced in the direction of the linesman as the Herder player shifted so close he was just about knocking into Al, definitely blocking his view of what was going on. 

Seconds later the puck shot around the side of the goal, and the lurking Herder dinked it up and over Al's shoulder.  Al took a sip from his water bottle while the Herders celebrated.  Telling the defender he had warned them, did not good.  In sports it didn't matter who was right.  At least not in the middle of the game.  They had to keep working together.

Fortunately next time he saw that same Herder player try to move in front of him, a Domes defender showed up to clear him out of the way.  The Domes scored again, bringing them back to up one and that's how the second period ended.  

Al had stripped down to the basics, gone to the bathroom and was chilling on a bench in the player's room when he could hear the arena crowd reacting to something.  It sounded like laughter or something.  They did all sorts of goofy games and such to entertain folks. 

Spruce came into the locker room.  "Dude, you didn't watch?" 

Oh, the volleyball video.  "No," Al said. 

"They made us look good," Spruce said, "although of course they showed that last point the ladies won." 

Al gave Spruce a thumbs up. 

"And at the end, Sienna wished the Domes good luck and blew us all a kiss." 

Al repeated the thumbs up, but made a mental note to 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

RIP Mr. DePaola

My mother took my sister and I to a children's book store that no longer exists to meet Tomie DePaola way back when.  He talked at a pace that seemed fast and vibrant even to my kid sensibility.  He sat next to an easel with a giant pad of paper and drew as he talked.  It was amazing.  He created stories before our eyes.  
He seemed old in the way that adults do to kids, such that when I was an adult perusing things like the National Book I had that moment of oh cool, he's still alive.  (DePaola is actually only a smidgeon older than my parents, so yeah, kids are not good judges of ages.) 
He lived long enough to win multiple awards, have one named after him, and to publish over two hundred books.  This video from his appearance at the book festival in 2011, is just a hint of what a wonder he was.  This NPR piece on him is lovely also.  

Monday, March 30, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction - Day 10

Today's prompt is penalty box.  

I was counting by prompts, but since there was a day off, it was confusing me, so now counting by days.  As noted previously, leaving the prior posts as is until this finishes, so they don't repost until this is all done.  

Previous entries: Day one, day two, day three, day four, day five, day six, day seven, (day eight was an off day), day nine


"Okay, but what if your failure to post an #UnderMyJersey pic is the reason we lose?" Spruce asked. 

Al kept his eyes on Daisy who was leading them through the maze of the baseball stadium towards the field.  "Lose this volleyball match or lose hockey?"  he asked. 

Kunyk snorted. 

"The volleyball match," Spruce said.  "Obviously we won't lose hockey." 

Kunyk used his hand to knock on Spruce's head.  "Knock wood. Spruce wood." 

Spruce glared.  "You think that's original or something?" 

"I do not.  But you can't simultaneously tell Stop he's gotta do something to maintain good luck and in the same breath declare we won't lose hockey like ever?  Respect the luck.  Prepare, but also respect." 

"Good advice," Al said.  He still wasn't posting a shirtless pic.  Not because De Sorcy had fricking started it, although he was certainly aware of it. But more because he didn't want his hockey interviews to be about how good he did or didn't look under his clothes.  He knew people were going to talk about it and speculate, he just didn't want to play directly into that.  But there was no way to say that without sounding like a weirdo.  Besides, Spruce was like the definition of All American corn fed.  He'd never had to worry how he compared to traditional Western beauty standards.  Al wasn't self conscious about his looks, but he also would rather spend time talking about just about anything else with reporters. Dentistry would be more fun.

They emerged onto the field, where a sand court waited in the middle.  The publicity crew was already there with still and video cameras, and even a boom mike.  Sienna was there along with three other women.  She had on a t-shirt that declared, "See you in the court!"  The shirt was tied at her side so that it fit very snugly. Her shorts were similarly snug, providing a view of her legs.  Al glanced around the stadium.  He had not spent any time thinking about how distracting having her on the other side of the net would be.  He mentally reviewed all the rules they'd all gone over about volleyball.  Ogling the opposing side had not come up, so he at least didn't have to worry about that. 

He wouldn't be any kind of goalie if he couldn't compartmentalize, so he gave himself one more breath before turning back.  Spruce was already introducing himself, shaking hands under the net with the women.  Two wore shirts that matched Sienna's.  The last wore a plain black shirt and a whistle dangled around her neck.  "Hi," she said, "I'm your official for today." 

"Hi," Kunyk said.  "Thanks for coming out on what must normally be your off season." 

She shrugged.  "I do team stuff too, so it keeps me busy year round." 

"Okay," Daisy said, "as a reminder, we're going to stop a lot to let the publicity folks get the shots they need.  While we have an official here today, in general this should all be fun more than it is competitive, and of course, we'll get interviews with everyone about how much fun they are having.  And also, no injuries today.  Any questions?" 

They all shook their heads. 

The camera crews all converged and had them shake hands under the net again. 

The ref, were they called refs in volleyball, Al hadn't paid any attention to that part, held up an arm.  "I know this is mostly an exhibition game, but we're going to keep it clean. Okay, everyone ready?" 

They all nodded.  "These folks want to stage some action shots."  She gestured at the camera crew. "So we'll use that as the warm up time before we get a real set in." 

When Al's turn came to spike a ball over the net he moved in close.  The whistle blow was fast. 

"Watch your feet," the ref said. 

He looked down and his left foot was all the way on the other side.  He tugged his foot back. 

"Watch out, Al," Kunyk said.  "None of us are taking your turn in the penalty box today." 

Al shook his head at Kunyk. 

"Goalies, man," Spruce added, "they always try to play by different rules." 

Al glared at Spruce too.  Goalie gloves plus the official hockey family friendly stance normally limited his ability to use hand gestures to display his thoughts.  But glaring even through a hockey mask was something he had been told he was pretty good at. 

Once they had the shots, he moved back to the sidelines and tried not to get overly distracted watching Sienna take her practice hits over the net.  

Balance

The theme this week at church was balance.  Since I've been yogaing more frequently than normal to make up for the loss of things like walks to the coffee shop, I was reminded that balance seems easy and yet requires a lot of muscles.  There are seemingly simple poses I have trouble maintaining or maintaining on one side more than the other.  Balance seems like a thing you just get, that should just happen by remaining still.  But that, like so many things about life is a lie.  It requires work and muscles and concentration.  
And that even in yoga you only try to maintain balance for a little while and then you get to move into a rest pose.  

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Eight

The prompt is sweater/jersey.  
Previous prompts are here: And here is where I confess, I have two fours in here.  Ooops.  Previous Prompts:  Prompt one, Prompt two, Prompt three, Prompt four, Prompt five (erroneously named four), Prompt six (erroneously named five), Prompt seven.  (I will get the numbering fixed, but it will cause everything to repost, so, holding off for the moment.) 

Sienna had asked one of the KeKi groups for tips on how to approach this game.  It wasn't really a game, technically.  It was clearly turning into a publicity stunt with a net, but that didn't mean she didn't want to look good.  Not look good as in attractive, although that would certainly be a nice perk.  But having built up this whole online presence as a person who sometimes wasn't aware of the effect they were having, Sienna was still trying to pivot.  She wanted to be respected.  Plenty of people in and out of KeKi knew she was a person with a brain and thoughts.  But the boundaries of having carefully crafted a public persona meant a lot of people discounted the work and effort that had gone into it. 

So, yes, she might have impulsively suggested a volleyball game when she hadn't herself held a volleyball in several years, much less played competitively against people who literally trained as athletes every day. But she was going to show up, and do more than not be a liability to the two folks from the local volleyball team who were rounding out her side.

One of the KeKi member had suggested she watch "Top Gun" and several others had agreed.  Sienna had no idea what a movie about planes would do to help, but she was certainly willing to give it a shot. 

When she got to the volleyball scene she realized what all the fruit and vegetable emojis had been about.  Oh my.  She sent a quick post to her social media.  "Thanks so much to those of you who told me 'Top Gun' might be helpful as I brush up on my volleyball skills.  I'm not sure my volleyball skills got better watching it, but it certainly was a good reminder of the beauty of watching people use their bodies.  Anyone know if hockey players look that good under their jerseys?"  
Sienna settled in to watch the rest of the movie.  Like a lot of classics, it had some great things and some things that hadn't aged well.   But she could definitely see why the volleyball scene was memorable.  And if the photos and clips the combined publicity teams for Sienna and the Domes could make all of them look even half that good, it would have been worth it. 

Although Sienna wouldn't mind her side spiking the ball off of Albert's head a time or two.  Spruce too, she supposed, since he was the one who had mouthed off about volleyball in the first place.  But mostly she wanted to show Albert that just because she was new to hockey didn't mean she didn't have skills. 

When she checked her social media a bit later, she saw her mentions had gone crazy. 

@ChadeSorcy88 had tagged her into a shirtless picture with the caption, "This is what I look like under my jersey.  Any of my fellow players ready to share?" 

His pale skin was taut, abs well-defined.  Well, if all hockey players looked like that, then Sienna was much more excited for this volleyball game.  

Friday, March 27, 2020

A Blessing

I've had this tab open for about a week and keep forgetting to share it.  
This piece is by Lee Allison Paczulla.  The full text is posted here
The first stanza is: 
blessed
are the elderly, and the immunosuppressed
blessed
Are the fearful, the anxious and irritable
blessed
are the ones who use humor to get by
the ones who could use a vacation anyway
the ones who fear for their life
blessed are the ones who are sick of it:
all the flawed logic, the security theater   

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Seven

Prompt Seven is wing.  
And here is where I confess, I have two fours in here.  Ooops.  Previous Prompts:  Prompt one, Prompt two, Prompt three, Prompt four, Prompt five (erroneously named four), Prompt six (erroneously named five).  (I will get the numbering fixed, but it will cause everything to repost, so, holding off for the moment.) 

"So," Daisy said after he, Spruce, and Kunyk sat down in the conference room. "Volleyball, really?" 

"Oh, hey," Al said, "the volleyball comment was all Spruce.  I said nothing about volleyball." 

"Nice," Spruce said, "just hang me out to dry. Excellent sportsmanship." 

"Was it excellent sportsmanship when you decide to imply another entire sport was easy?  Did you consult me on that play?" 

"What are we, football players?  We don't arrange plays ahead of time." 

Al put his hands against his face.  How had they dragged another sport into this?  Why?  Al was twenty six, goalies tended to peak a little later than other positions, although obviously everyone wanted to be the one to play a decade or two.  Sometimes hanging with twenty-two year olds made him feel ancient. 

"Before Spruce finds another batch of folks to insult," Kunyk asked, "I assume I'm here because you found out I played beach volleyball in high school?"

Daisy smiled.  "Yes."

"You did?" Spruce said. "Was it in like a teeny bathing suit? Are their pictures?" Spruce held his hand together in prayer position.  "Please tell me there are pictures." 

Kunyk reached out and shoved Spruce's head. 

"Hey!" Spruce said.  "Wingers man.  Can never trust them."  Spruce patted his hair like he was checking for injuries. 

"Sienna sent me her proposal for this.  She had suggested playing at one of the local school's since it's still winter out.  The baseball stadium did offer that we could stage a sand court and play there if we wanted.  The stadium is open air though, so you would be playing in whatever temperature we got that day."

"Playing in sand is so much more fun. But are we inviting fans to this?" Kunyk asked. 
Daisy sat up a little straighter.  "Ideally no.  We'd like to send a media team to record it, and of course Sienna wants to bring someone to take some photos and record some too.  But they feel that keeping the fans out is best." 

"What?" Spruce said.  "Are you guys afraid we'll lose?" 

Al turned to Spruce.  "Have you ever even played volleyball?" 

Spruce paused.  "At camp probably?" 

"I haven't played since freshman year of high school.  Once I made the hockey team, I didn't have to do gym.  And then I was playing indoor style, where there were like six players, not two.   All I remember was how hard those balls were."

"Oh come on," Spruce said. "Pucks are harder."

Kunyk shoved Spruce's shoulder.  "You're a puck.  But seriously, listen to Al.  I grew up in Florida.  I could play beach volleyball when hockey season was out.  But I was only okay.  If you've never played in sand you're gonna land on your face." He looked back at Daisy.  "Are we gonna have a way to practice ahead of time?  That won't interfere with all the hockey practice?" 

"If you all want to go sand, I'll see if they can set it up a few days ahead to let everyone practice.  As for the hockey practice, the coaching team has proposed a schedule that they feel will have the leas amount of impact on team practice.  Oh, and also, they wanted me to remind you, don't get hurt."

"I bet it wasn't nearly that nicely phrased, but thanks, Daisy." Al said.  "Apparently Spruce and I are gonna learn how to play volleyball again." 

"As long as no one gets hurt, it should be a lot of fun," Daisy said.  "And I'm going to set up a meet and greet for you all will a local junior volleyball team."

Al nodded.  Of course.  He looked over at Kunyk.  "So when you say you were just okay, was that aw shucks, I would have made the Olympic team okay, or was that, I only ate sand three times a game okay?" 

Kunyk smiled.  "Everybody eats sand, Stop.  Everybody." 

Al was torn.  It would serve Spruce right if they got their butts handed to them by Sienna and whoever she was playing with.  But well, he wanted to not be embarrassed.  Especially in front of Sienna. 


Three Interesting Things

1. This piece looked at how quickly the posts about animals roaming as humans stay inside more went viral and how most of them were untrue.  (I'm still holding out hope that maybe the boars one was real?)  
2. R. Eric Thomas talks about how this current moment reminded him of "The Wiz".  
2. Doing research for my #HockeyFiction, I found this piece on how goalies deal with, ahem, going to the bathroom. 
Also, quick note: Macmillan has halted it's library embargo.  Here's hoping they take this opportunity to learn how crucial libraries are to readers.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Five

Prompt Five is defensemen.  
Previous prompts are here: Prompt one, Prompt two, Prompt three, and Prompt four

There was an advantage to needing to go straight to meeting the junior girls team right after the game.  No press interviews.  Al usually tried to skip press interviews after Piranhas games anyway.  He couldn't win with the rivalry stuff, either he agreed there was one and spent every interview talking about it all the time, or he skipped and the press speculated that he wouldn't talk to them because he was so emotional or some nonsense. 

But Al had showered and changed into street clothes that he hadn't sweat buckets into and he found he didn't mind needing to stop and meet up with the junior players.  He wondered if Sienna had stayed.  He didn't care of course, it was just curiosity.  She had been good with the junior players at least.  Some of the folks who got invited to games and got special attention seemed the treat the whole experience like they were some sort of royalty.  Like the players owed them something.  Something more than just the game itself.

"Hey, Stop, you in a hurry?" Spruce, one of the defensemen, asked. 

"Meeting with the junior team that played the period break.  And then I get to go home. You off?"  Al asked.

"Yeah, I'm all set.  No one ever wants to hear from defense after the game."
"Are you telling me you're sad not to talk to the press?" Al shook his head and continued down the hallway. 

"They are missing out on my sparkling Bull Durham impressions, but no.  Do you need help talking to the junior girls team?"  Spruce winked.

"Ew," Al said, "tell me you did not just wink about teenagers."  Spruce was twenty-two so one of the younger players on the team, but still. 

"Yeah, no, not horning on high schoolers.  But come on, we all know who's waiting with the high schoolers."  Spruce wiggled his eyebrows.

Al shook his head and shoved Spruce.  "You are incorrigible." 

"Do you think that will go over better or worse than unstoppable?" 

Al rolled his eyes.  He looked over at Spruce.  "Do you really want to meet this Sienna, or are you just bored?"

"Why can't it be both?"

"Are you able to behave in front of the junior team?" 

"Junior hockey players love me.  I can talk to them about how I save your ass.  Uh, expect I will remember not to say ass.  Probably." 

"You have to explain to Daisy why you were there if anything ridiculous happens.  When something ridiculous happens." 

"Daisy loves me," Spruce said. 

Normally Al would have chuckled, but something in Spruce's tone stopped him.  They were at the door. Al decided to leave it for later.  They went inside.  The junior players were all gathered around Sienna again.  She was sitting on a table, still wearing the jersey they had given her. 

"Here he is," Sienna said, "oh and it looks like he brought reinforcements." 

"Hi, folks," Al said. "I'm sure you know Spruce." 

Two of the players immediately yelled "Spruuuuuuuuuuce!"

"Well," Sienna said. "They have all been helping me learn all the good hockey terms, but I'm sure you all have questions for the real players, so go on ahead." 

"Actually," Spruce said.  "I have a question for Sienna.  Still think volleyball is more fun?" 

Sienna smiled. "Volleyball will always have my heart, but hockey has been amazing to learn about." 

"I say any sport you can play in a bathing suit isn't much of a sport," Spruce said. 

Well, Al thought, it hadn't even occurred to him to worry that Spruce was going to be embarrassing about other sports.

"Oh really?" Sienna said.  "Well does that mean you think just anyone can play volleyball?" 

Al moved his hand, meaning to place it across Spruce's mouth, to yank him or something but he wasn't quite fast enough in the post game state of energy. 

"Volleyball is easy," Spruce said.

"Cool.  Well, then you shouldn't have any trouble playing a game," Sienna said.
Leave it to Spruce, Al thought.  Although really, what he should have done was left Spruce in the hallway.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Four

Prompt Four is forward.  
Previous prompts are here: Prompt one, prompt two, prompt three.  

Sienna made it back to her seat in time to see Piranhas players hugging.  Checking the score it was now 3-1 in favor of the Piranhas and that was clearly not good.  She had a direct view of Al in front of the goal.  She wondered if he could see her, or if all the fans, and the glass made it hard to identify folks.  Just in case, she blew a kiss when he turned her way.  It wasn't just Jay's reminder that she'd be dubbed a sports jinx forever.  She could live with that. 

The game resumed and she watched.  She grabbed her phone, catching up on her mentions.  She had found an account called All Things Must Pass that was run by four women who talked hockey in a way that was helpful and not mansplainy.  One of them was live tweeting the game, so she checked that to sort of get a better understanding of what was going on. 

After a bit she put the phone back down.  It was information overload, and it was more fun to watch the players move across the ice.  See where they bunched up, and split apart.  Most of the action kept moving in the direction of the Piranhas goal, which was good, but meant she was at an odd angle to see it. 

The period ended with no more goals.  Al turned in her direction and she gave him a thumbs up.  She still had no idea if he could see her, but half the fun of watching sports was pretending the things you did as a fan mattered. 

They brought out what looked like an obstacle course of sorts for the period break entertainment. 

When the game resumed Al was back on the other side of the ice from her.  The shots on goal number displayed ticked up, but the score stayed firmly at 3-1.  Until suddenly, Sienna could feel the fans collectively hold their breath.  One of the Dome players had broken away from the pack and speeding with the puck towards the Piranhas.  The stadium started cheering, but Sienna held her breath watching as he shifted his stick to flick the puck towards the goal.  The siren sounded and the screens all shouted, "Gooooooaaaal!" 

Now Sienna cheered.  It was Kunyk, the same player who had scored earlier.  The roster list on her phone told her he was a forward, along with a bunch of other numbers and letters. 

The fans chanted, "We are the Dome!" and Sienna joined in.  It was such a weird chant, although she supposed when your team was named after buildings, your options were limited.  She reached down for the water bottle Daisy had given her.  Had to keep the vocal chords ready to cheer. 

The players moved to back near the Piranhas goal again, with two players - a Dome player and a Piranha player in the space between the bask side of the goal and the boards.  There were scrabbling and banging sounds as they both went after the puck with their sticks, pushing and shoving each other. The Dome player whacked the puck toward the front of the goal where another hovering Dome player managed to elbow a Piranha player while flicking the puck with his stick.  The sirens sound another goal again. 

Sienna jumped to her feet and cheered.  Now the game was tied.  Oh gosh, this really was nerve wracking.  As the time remaining on the period ticked down, she checked rules for ties. More play and a possible shootout.  Sienna had forgotten how stressful it was to watch sports. 

With one minute left, a Dome player flung the puck across the ice in the direction of the Piranha goal. Sienna could see one of the refs raise his arm in the air but the players raced towards the puck as it bounced off the back boards, wide of the goal.  The Dome player flicked it towards the goal, and the Piranha goalie dropped to his knees and popped the puck back out onto the ice, where another Dome player smacked it back towards the goal.

Sienna was on her feet cheering as the siren sounded for the goal. 

That was the last goal of the game and Daisy came to collect Sienna as they were announcing the stars of the game.  "Pretty good game, huh?" Daisy asked. 

"It was amazing," Sienna said.  

Monday, March 23, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Four

Today's prompt is goaltender.  
Previous prompts are here: Prompt one, prompt two, prompt three.  

Al avoided period break meet and greets for good reason. Today he hoping he could quickly say hi and not seem like a complete jerk before he ran back to get ready for the second period.  The life of a goaltender provided very little rest, even during period breaks. 

"Hi, folks!" He waved to the room.   "I'm really sorry I can't stay too long, but you looked great out there!"  

The kids turned and waved.  They turned back to Sienna who was on the other side of the room.  

She smiled.  "So, you all have to help me out, because I'm so new to hockey.  How long does it take to get in and out of all the hockey gear?"

"Oh," one of the kids raised her hand.  "I'm a goalie.  So like, it takes me about five minutes, but mine doesn't have all the same straps that the professionals wear." 

"Ah, well, I can't speak for all you folks," Sienna said, "but I certainly have experience putting on and taking off tricky outfits.  So, let's let Al get back to get his on without running out of time.  Now, in hockey, do y'all just wish each other good luck or is there a special hockey themed saying?" 

The kids turned and chanted, "We are the Dome! We are the Dome!  We are the Dome!"  And then waved at him. 

He waved back, impressed that Sienna had so quickly recognized the issue and so gracefully provided him an out.  People often joked about the amount of equipment goaltenders wore. But most never seemed to think about how long it took to remove them. If Al wanted to use the bathroom - and he always did, bad things happened when you tried to skip that step - seventeen minutes suddenly wasn't very long when you factored in making it to the locker room, removing the gear, and also needing time to get it all back on. It was one of the reasons he did way less mid-game stuff than his other players that weren't goalies. They all got to spend part of the game hanging on the bench. He spent every minute of game time on the ice.

He got his pads back on ahead of time and was able to do a few stretches.  He could stretch outside the pads, but working the muscles with the pads on worked well for him and let him test that nothing had gotten strapped on too snugly or anything like that.  Getting all the gear on was second nature at this point, but it didn't mean he didn't want to check. 

They went back out on the ice.  For the second period he was close to where he'd been alerted that Sienna was sitting.  He looked over and she wasn't back in her seat yet.  They were still doing final checks, but he wondered if despite all her insight she was already over hockey.  Might decide to hang out with adoring youth hockey players, or even leave all together. 

Oh, well, it certainly didn't matter and he had things he actually needed to worry about.  De Sorcy hadn't scored at all in the first period which meant he was going to come strong this period. 

And five minutes later, De Sorcy was cheering and hugging his teammates after scoring, and a minute after that, De Sorcy got passed the puck and popped it in the goal again.  Al turned and grabbed his water bottle so he didn't have to watch the Piranhas celebrate.  It was annoying because he had known that pass was coming, had braced for it, and De Sorcy still got that stupid puck past him. 

Al wiggled his shoulder and got himself turned back around before the face off.  He glanced over at the stands and saw Sienna sitting back down.  Had she been there for the goal, or just gotten back, he wondered.  Well, it didn't matter, he had a puck to keep an eye on.  

7 More Things About Social Isolation Life

1. Someone said two or so weeks ago to start documenting changes and at the time I scoffed.  I believed we were headed for a tough period.  But I had somehow not fully thought through the ripples.  Schools converting to distance learning, jobs converting to telecommuting sure.  The rapid shift in how and where people buy their supplies for daily life, sure.  But I hadn't thought about what it would mean for the restaurants and coffee shops to close.  Because yes, takeout and delivery exist but not all restaurants participated, in fact several of my faves didn't.  There are no good answers here.  Just as many of those restaurants and hardware stores and stationary stores would fail if half or more of their workforce ended up hospitalized. We're just, to use a messy metaphor, trying to divert the lava flow.  But we can't stop it.  So all of that is to say, if this has been hard, it isn't because distance learning or telecommuting or losing jobs or being asked for overtime in hospitals or grocery stores - all of these things are hard.  Piling them together is harder.  And if your life hasn't materially changed, it is likely both hard and easy as more people join you in experimenting with ways to be connected distantly.  A year ago my family would have scoffed at a video conference call.  In another week or so, I might be able to convince them. 
2. I've pointed a few folks to the Glitch employee handbook. I do not work for Glitch, but they are a company that has had remote workers for a while.  At my old company, I was part of the first teams they made remote and there were things that were handled well, and things that were not, and it's a learning process for everyone.  Glitch is a tech company, not all their process will translate.  But one of the big challenges is finding managers who are unfamiliar with how to manage from afar, and having a corporate guide to point to can be helpful.  The reality is this, there are things that are fundamentally changed when people can't walk by your desk, and some of that means getting better at communication.  Add in that many folks now have extra people in their house all day and may need to adjust their hours to account for that, there's going to be some adjustments.  It does not mean that anyone should have to be on camera all day so that their boss can see them working.  (Yeah, I know retail employees, I dislike it for you too.)  
3. The FOMO is real.  I have already reached the there are now three things happening Wednesday at 7 that I want to do point.  As more things are occur online, it is wonderful and great, but you are still only one person. You cannot do all the things. 
4. Move.  Depending on the type of commute you had before, it likely involved more steps than getting to the home desk does.  So you are going to need more movement in your life.  Even if you commuted by car, you may have walked more through large grocery stores, or other things.  No one needs a car commute back in their day (I assume) but moving less will make you crankier. Figure out ways to move the same as you did before even if the type of movement changes. 
5. Studies show that being outside with trees or other nature helps.  Depending on the level of social isolation or quarantine you are currently dealing with, you may have less of that available.  Staring out the window at a tree gets you close.  Looking at pictures of plants is also close.  Watching a livestream of the cherry blossoms for a few minutes is close. Make time for that in your day.  
6.  Have you heard that washing your hands helps?  Yeah, I know.  It does.  But also feel free to indulge in the nicest of handcreams.  I tend to be a person that has a bottle of lotion or tube of something in every bag.  
7. If the social isolation has you lonely, consider fostering a pet if possible.  Shelters are having limited staff and volunteers come in, and of course cannot do normal adoption expos right now.  Fostering is by definition temporary, so if you end up not loving the pet life, the foster will get adopted.  If you have floofs in your home, and hove not started a social media format that regularly features them, now might be a great time.  

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Three


Prompt three is shot.  Prompt one is here.  Prompt two is here

"You know what this means, right?" Jay said through the screen. 

Sienna put away the clothes that they had decided against.  The team marketing person had told her they'd have a jersey there for her at the arena, and to plan for it to be cold inside.  Despite having lived in the DC area since high school, she'd never been to the arena.  She'd never gone to a sports game, never been to a concert big enough to be in this arena.  It was kind of exciting.  

Jay's face on the screen was staring at her.  Sienna had assumed it was a rhetorical question that didn't require her participation.  "What?" she said. 

"If the Domes lose, they'll decide you are a jinx." 

"Okay," Sienna shrugged.  She had lived her whole life ignoring hockey.  Going back to that wouldn't be much of a stretch.  Her mentions on social media had been a lot, a mix of folks mansplaining hockey to her, telling her she was too stupid to understand it anyway, and well, those were the nicer ones.  But Sienna had been on the internet a while.  And while sports fans were particularly creative in some of their threats, she could handle it.  She was good at blocking and good at ignoring.  If anything, this week had shown her that she should have listened to Jay and ignored the ex trying to score points off of her. 

Wait no, that was old Sienna thinking.  She had been invited to a hockey game, was getting a free jersey, and a chance to talk to teen girls who played hockey, and a chance to meet a hockey player.  So, if anything the lesson here was to be open to new experiences. 

Jay was still starting at her.  "Seriously, Jay, it will be fine.  Either they win the fish game-"

"Piranhas.  They are called the piranhas."

Sienna leaned closer to the camera.  "Piranhas are fish aren't they?"

Jay sighed.  "Yes." 

"So, either they win the fish game, and I'm a good luck charm and they have to invite me back forever.  Or they lose and I'm a jinx and I still got to go to a hockey game for free. It's fine."  She smiled.

"Okay. Try not to call them fish at the game." 

Sienna smiled and ended the call.  She knew Jay was going to text her to remind her not to call them fish.  But Sienna liked calling them fish. 

***

Sienna's seats were in the second row just around the corner from one of the goals.  She had gone live for a bit, so show what a great view of the action she had, and also to show how fast the hockey was.  She had watched a few clips before coming.  Okay, she had tried watching a whole game but she had gotten distracted.  But in person it was so fast.  And you could feel the chill, and hear the skates and sticks and bodies moving across the ice.  Plus the entire stadium was rocking.  Fans cheered, the screens planted overhead constantly told you to cheer, or make noise, or stomp, or clap.  Music played anytime the game stopped, which happened more than she had expected. 

Daisy from the team appeared on the cement stairs next to her.  "Having a good time?" 

"I am!" Sienna said.  So far there had only been one goal, for the Piranhas.  But it had been during a penalty so the Domes had been short a player, which was kind of a fascinating rule.  Sienna still was relying on a lot of the information they put across the screens to figure out what was going on, or the music cues, but the goal thing had been very clear.  Being in the second row, she was near enough to both see and hear the players thud against the boards and the glass. 

"We're coming up on the end of the period.  The junior girls team will come out and scrimmage on the ice, so keep watching.  They will only go for about ten minutes, then I'll grab you and bring you back to say hi to them, and - oh-" 

Daisy's eyes fixed on the ice so Sienna turned and looked. Two players, a blue jerseyed Dome player and a white and green jerseyed Piranha player were skating towards the goal.  The Dome player had the puck and the Piranha player kept trying to grab it with his stick, but the Dome player kept shifting it away while still moving towards the goal.  The other players were all skating towards them, but they were out in front of the pack.  The Dome player shifted again, and it almost felt like the whole crowd hushed for a second.  He flicked the puck towards the goal.

The goalie hunched in a way that seemed to make him look both more compact and larger at the same time as the puck flew towards him.  From this angle Sienna could only see that the puck was moving towards his arm.  Looking up at the screen overhead wasn't much clearer, but a siren sounded and the whole stadium cheered.  Sienna watched the replay on the screen.  The puck had gone into the tiny bit of space between the goalie's arm and the bar of the goal. 

"Kunyk has such a great snap shot,"  Daisy said quietly.

Sienna nodded and made a mental note to figure out what a snap shot was.  But now the teams were tied.  So, that was good.  

The remaining minute of the period was less eventful.  As it ticked down to the last seconds, the players themselves seemed to skate slower, as if they needed a break. 

The two junior girls teams came out, each adorned in mini Dome's jerseys, one set blue, and the other white.  They looked a little lost and overwhelmed, although, with the full face shields, it was kind of hard to tell, so maybe Sienna just imagined they were overwhelmed.  Some of the fans had left immediately to go do other things during the break, but the ones who remained leaned forward and cheered any time one of the teams got close to a goal.  It was pretty cute.  The players waved as they wrapped up their scrimmage.  Sienna waved back.  Daisy returned and led her up and then, through a door marked staff, that got them into an area that was much more quiet. 

"Oh," Daisy said, "I should warn you that Albert doesn't like doing mid-game stuff, especially against the Piranhas, so if he seems like grumpy or anything don't take it personally." 

"Okay," Sienna said.  That didn't seem ominous at all.  

Friday, March 20, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Two

Prompt one is here. Prompt Two is icing.  

Hockey nicknames could be a dangerous thing.  Especially when you had a name like Albert Tseu.  He'd grown up watching hockey, with his parents.  His mom was Canadian born and raised.  His dad was not, but had happily adopted the sport and ensuing traditions.  So he had watched names get shortened, or, in they were already short often get an added syllable like an "er" or an "ie".  When your last name was Tseu that was dangerous. 

So, after a deep discussion about this at the age of nine with one of his junior hockey league teammates they had decided the only way around this was a better nickname. 

As nine year olds, the obvious goalie nickname had been Unstoppable.  Of course, over a decade later Al knew that naming yourself Unstoppable was just headline fodder in the worst way. And that everyone just called you Stop.  Not Unstop.  Or Stopie.  Or Unstoppable.  Stop. 

Coming out of the locker room after practice, he spotted Daisy leaning against the wall.  She straightened at the sight of him, confirmation that yep, it was him and not one of the other players still changing she was waiting for.  Daisy worked in the Domes' Youth Hockey Development department.  So she often worked with the team, planning appearances at youth hockey events, setting up meetups with the various teams that scrimmaged during the period breaks.  But she usually didn't need to talk to them after practice for that, those were set up way in advance. 

"Hi, Albert," she said. 

"Hi, Daisy," he said.  He had a feeling that whatever this was meant he wasn't getting home where he had food and a couch as soon as he had hoped.

"So, I saw your post about representation and I wanted to run something by you."  She smiled.  

He could tell Daisy was nervous. He suspected the rant he had made to the marketing department about how he was not doing any more interviews for Hockey is for Everyone month where the reporter kept asking if he was the first Asian American hockey player anymore had trickled over to the other staff.  Well, good.  He was happy to be a face for kids who wanted to see people like him playing professional hockey.  He wasn't the first, he figured he wouldn't be the last.  But in the end, being Asian American didn't change anything about how he played hockey.  No one asked the Swedish and Russian players if they faced challenges learning to play hockey.  Al had grown up in Maryland.  The biggest challenge he had faced was the long rides to the games in New Jersey.  

He nodded at Daisy to let her know to continue. 

"What if we invited Sienna to a game, had her meet you, sit with a team rep, and give her your jersey to wear and all that." 

"Sienna?" he asked.  "Oh right, Sienna Clear."  It sounded like a fake name to him, but whatever, he had nicknamed himself Unstoppable. 

"Sienna George, actually," Daisy said.  "She's got a huge following, primarily women, and that's also why we'd like to invite her for the night we have the two all girl teams playing in the period break."  Daisy smiled.

In hockey, players sometimes flung the puck all the way to the other side of the rink, basically getting the puck the hell away so they could get back on better footing with the other team.  It generally didn't apply to goalies, but the easiest way to get it waved off, was to race up and retrieve the puck yourself.  It seemed being a goalie wouldn't save him from having stuck himself into this conversation.  And now he was going to spend time making nice with a person who seemed to think volleyball was somehow exciting.  

"Okay," he said. 

Daisy nodded.  "I'll send you the details.  It'll be for the Piranhas game." 

Al's shoulders sunk.  This was the real reason Daisy had been nervous.  The Piranhas had a freaking center named Chad De Sorcy who was Al's nemesis.  Al didn't even much buy into the nemesis BS.  Often had great camaraderie with folks the press liked to claim he hated.  But he actually hated De Sorcy.  Hated his smug looks, his ridiculous hair, and the way that De Sorcy had never ever, not once, managed to not score multiple times against him.  Every time they played the Piranhas he got asked about it.  There were multiple headlines punning on his nickname, and sometimes De Sorcy even liked to give pithy quotes like, "Gosh, he's never seemed that unstoppable to me." 

So he had a no Piranhas rule for the meets with fans, with youth hockey, and all of that, because he just needed to be the hell away from impressionable children and microphones around Piranhas games.  But it looked like he was making an exception.  

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt One

Hey folks, some of us who are fiction writers and hockey fans are banding together to fill the hockey sized hole in our hearts.  Stacey Agdern is our fearless leader.  I'm going to post snippets on twitter but I am a wordy person, so the full post will go here.  I can't promise I can wrangle this into a complete story but, that's the goal.  Also, these will be very gently edited.  Much like hockey aiming for speed and hoping there's some grace and skill behind it, but sometimes you just fall on your skates.  Those of you who've read Repeated Burn may recognize a few characters.  

Prompt: Face Off

"My ex is so dumb, she thought a face off was when you take off all your make up." 

Sienna George sighed and put the phone down.  Her business partner Jay had already told her to ignore it.  Leave it alone.  It was wise advice. 

She tried to work on her next post for her KeKi leaders group.  After a fruitless five minutes that had felt like twenty she gave up and grabbed the phone.  Her last ex had cleaned out her bank account on his way out the door.  This one was trying to build himself up by taking her down.  She knew better to engage.  But it was so irritating. 

She  looked outside her window and had a burst of inspiration.  She checked her makeup, everything looked good there.  She went outside where some kids had set up a volleyball net.  They had even been kind enough to leave the volleyball.  She grabbed the ball, and posed in front of the net, taking several selfies. 

Posting it to instagram,  she captioned it, "What can I say?  I've always been more of a volleyball girl, having grown up in Hawaii.  Don't see to many folks who look like me playing hockey.  #Aloha #Volleyball #WhoNeedsHockey #AAPI

Sienna hit post and felt so much better.  It wasn't going to stop the ex, but she had such a great batch of followers these days, plus all the folks involved in KeKi.

She went back upstairs and wrote a post for the KeKi leaders about recognizing progress from past mistakes. 

***

Jay:  Sienna. 

Sienna smiled.  Jay did that a lot.  Texted Sienna just her name, leaving Sienna to wonder was this an excited Jay, an exasperated Jay, a Jay who needed coffee, or possibly all of the above. 

Sienna opened up a video chat, waving when Jay accepted.  "Hi, Jay, how are you doing?" 

"I thought we agreed you were going to leave it alone." 

Sienna tipped her head.  "We agreed that was a very sensible option, yes."  After chatting with some of the folks in the KeKi app, Sienna had fallen asleep watching a movie.  She hadn't even remembered to check social media.  Or well, she had, but she had seen the text from Jay and not knowing if it was urgent, focused on that first.  She hadn't even showered or put on makeup.  In fact, she squinted at her face in the corner of the screen, okay, she had remembered to take the makeup off last night.  That was at least something. 

"Fine," Jay said.  "But maybe try not to piss off an entire legion of sports fans for today.  Is that a reasonable goal?" 

"Yes," Sienna said slowly.  Had she already pissed of a legion of sports fans.  Sienna was accustomed to making waves on the internet.  But she hadn't spent a lot of time on sports.  Unless sexy yoga poses counted, but she suspected they did not. 

"And when you say yes," Jay said, "so we're on the same page this time, I mean do not piss of any more sports fans today.  Sports fans buy things.  We like people who buy things."

"Yes," Sienna said. 

Jay ended the call and Sienna took a breath and popped open her social media. 

It seemed the most popular response led her to a page of a bearded dude with dark hair and light brown skin.  His handle was @UnstoppableTseu. 

He had a selfie where he pointed at his face.  The caption read "Hockey is for everyone, isn't just a saying.  There's more work to be done in hockey for sure, but AAPI kids out there, I want you to know there are hockey players like you.  #AAPI #AAPIPower  #WeAreTheDome

Sienna clicked the #WeAreTheDome hashtag and found a bunch of hockey posts.  It appeared to be a hashtag for the local Washington Domes hockey team. And looking at their team roster it appeared Albert Tseu was their goalie.  Well shoot.  Sienna had pissed off a legion of sports fans, and tried to make a statement about representation without doing the most basic of fact checks.  And this Albert Tseu even played for her local team. 

Never let it be said that Sienna George couldn't get a lot done for someone who wasn't naturally a morning person.  


Three Interesting Things

1. Times are tough and we are realizing how many things depending on the ability to gather together.  Theaters are no exception.  I got the call yesterday that the last two shows I already had tickets to were cancelled, and of course I had hoped to see a few other things.  The ripple effects of these things are not small.  I found this story where two award winning playwrights had been asked to consider returning their advance received for cancelled shows. 
2. It turns out this one time, the Army tried to bomb a lava flow.  It went about as well as you might expect. 
3. I found this article taking a look at "Pushing Daisies", a show I loved, and how it addresses an admittedly different view of social distance, inspired in part by another epidemic, really interesting, and made me want to watch the show again. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

7 Things That Might Surprise You About Remote Work

1. It's not cheaper. This, as with all the others will vary. Like obviously remote work does not require a car, bus, or metro ride. So you will save that money and that time. You also will not have access to company pens, company toilet paper, or company coffee and tea. So, now the supplies are all yours. This could still put you in the win column, but you will also discover as with most budget shifts, it helps for a little and then your budget shifts to adjust to that, and it is gone.
2. It's not quieter. If you live alone in a remote cabin maybe. Although I bet the coyotes beg to differ. They do construction during the day. The mow lawns during the day. They cut off utilities during the day. You will discover a ton of things that are planned with the assumption that less people are home.
3. It can be very hard on your mental health. One thing the rise of the internet has shown us is that there are tons of wonderful folks all around the world, and it is easier than ever to connect with them. Connecting via phone, email, video chat, and social media is great. It is not the same as seeing people in person. The conversations that develop when you can just sit and allow for silence, or not, are different. Again, contagions are
bad, and there are reasons for social distance right now.  But figure out ways to get people time, whether it's a long scheduled video chat where you and someone else agree to do something silly together and just chat, make time for people.  And if your household contains those that are moving about more freely - say you live with a healthcare worker - then figure out how to balance your possibly divergent needs.  They may need a chance for silence when they arrive home whereas you have stored up all these things to just tell someone all day long.  
4. It's not less tiring. I hated commuting.  I really did. I voluntary switched to a longer metro commute becuase getting reading time in made me a happier person when the traffic and other delays were someone else's problem.  But not commuting did not release a huge store of energy.  The exhausting part of jobs is the focus and decision making they require.  You will still be tired at the end of the day.  You just won't have the activity tracker steps to show for it.  
5. You will not discover how many meetings could have been emails. I mean maybe your company is very efficient.  But instead you will discover how many meetings can be long ponderous conference calls, or video chats, or web meetings.  We have not eliminated meetings in remote work.  Sometimes they are more efficient.  Sometimes they are necessary.  Sometimes they turn into very long chat messages or sixty two emails that make you wonder if a quick meeting could have solved that.  
6. You will not have more time. A day is a day.  You lose the commute but you are also now chief supplies officer.  If you are social distancing or live somewhere not near quick food, you will likely be eating at home more.  Possibly if your commute was four hours, you will get some time back.  But time expands, and habits and schedules are hard. 
7. You will not be more productive. Again, a day is a day.  Part of this is the human brain's tendency to overestimate our own capacity.  Part of this is working with people remotely that you used to work with in person requires adjustments.  Part of this is just that you also won't be more awake, so this idea that like you got a whole hour back every day that you will totally use for something that is not self care is not only generally incorrect it is not a great idea.  You will need self care.  You aren't a failure for not producing more.  You are human.  


Friday, March 13, 2020

Books for These Times

It looks like folks might be sticking inside a little more than usual for peak pollen season aka not quite spring.  So, some book suggestions.  

I Want to Read About Bad Things (aka pandemics, apocalypses, zombies): 
- Orleans by Sherri L. Smith.  A bloodborn diseases has caused the US to wall off a segment of the area formerly known as New Orleans and society has altered and shifted behind the wall. Fen finds herself in charge of a baby girl she has promised the mother she will get over the wall, and teams up with a scientist who snuck over thinking he could fix it.  
-Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson - I know, I recommend this book a lot.  Emily has been following the rules, the right hair, the right school, the right boyfriend.  When a deadly flu strikes, Emily's parents are sequestered, a homeland security agent keeps asking her odd questions, and the DC neighborhood her uncle is in seems to be getting different messages than she's getting.  Coffee, a classmate who excels at breaking rules seems to be the only one she can trust.  
-Radio Silence by Alyssa Cole - Power's been out for long enough that friends Arden and John decide to try going to his parent's cabin. John's brother Gabriel intervenes when they are attacked and he and Arden annoy each other until they, well, don't.  
-Dread Nation by Justina Ireland - The Civil War got called on account of zombies, and now Jane is - like most colored folks - in training to be a protector - aka zombie killer for rich people.  Except, it looks like maybe there's more to what's going on than it seems.  
-Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan - Spy thriller, DC area set, with former lovers discovering they might have to work together to stop someone from unleashing a fast acting virus in DC.  
-Pet by Akwaeke Emezi - Is a book I read in about three sittings.  In paper.  And those of you who know how rarely I read paper, know what a feat this is.  In a world where monsters have been defeated, a child accidentally makes a monster from her mom's painting.  The monster says it's there to stop another monster.  With the help of the library, and her best friend, she manages to figure out how to handle things.   

I Want to Read About Happy Things: 
-A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon - An amnesia story (and yeah, starts with the heroine getting pushed down the stairs, so um, like after that it's mostly happy.)  Celebrity chef Evie goes to the ranch she grew up near to recover from a head injury, and of course there is the hot cowboy who is the main reason she hasn't visited much.  
-The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa - Full disclosure I know and adore Mia.  Nonetheless, this book was for me the correct blend of oh no, cringe, and oh this is just delicious.  Few years ago, up and coming wedding planner Carolina found out from her fiance's brother Max that her fiance had decided to take Max's advice and bail on the wedding.  Now, they've both been hired to convince a new hotel owner that Carolina is the best person for the new job at the hotel.  It's also a delightful look at neighborhoods familiar to many in the DMV, Dupont, Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Wheaton, and so on all make appearances. 
-Sweet Talkin Lover by Tracey Livesay - While this Livesay does not take place in DC like some of her other stories, the shall we saw standoff between career woman who has been sent with an agenda to look at a small town factory and the mayor of said small town starts quickly with an amazing pinball standoff and goes from there.  
-Most Ardently by Susan Mesler-Evans - A modern Pride and Prejudice retelling where Elisa and Darcy are in college and Darcy is the daughter of the rich and famous who has suddenly ended up in this town, and Elisa is crammed into a small apartment with her mom and sister.  
-Hungry Hearts - edited by Else Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond - This anthology has a range of moods and foods (I'll stop now), but thirteen tales should keep you busy for a bit. 

I Want to Think Deep Thoughts (aka Non-Fiction): 
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall - I listened to the audio for this, but it looked at the ways mainstream feminism often leaves out those with less privilege.  
Lead From the Outside by Stacey Abrams - Abrams talks a lot about making and finding opportunities for growth and mentorship, even if you didn't go to the fanciest schools.  
The View From Flyover Country by Sarah Kendzior - Kendzior has a new book out next month, but this collection of essays about privelege and class in America while many of them collected over several years, has a lot of information and careful inspection of our society in the US. 
Winners Take All by Anand Giridhiradas - A really interesting look at how our equation of money with merit, and merit with success, means we reinforce existing power.  

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. With the warning that it's a little spiritual, this week's Braver/Wiser from the UUA, looks briefly at why two might be the smallest biggest number in ethics. I think the snow example is good.  In any inclement weather the question is not can anyone make it, but will inexperienced drivers (say high schoolers, transplants from warmer climates) have concerns and while sure, we can say they have to learn, do we need them to learn on the way to work or school?  
2. This post takes a look at why "Parasite"s award success is an opportunity to look at how Asians and Asian Americans sometimes succeed as a result of anti-blackness
3. A species related to chlamydia has been discovered in the Artic Ocean.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Tips for Telecommuting

Hi, so I've been a telecommuter or remote worker for over ten years. Since some of you may be telecommuting for the first time here are some tips. As always, not all of them will work for everyone. 
1. Try using a dedicated work space. When I injured my knee, I basically had to work on the couch for a while. It made it tough to make the mental transition between work time and fun time. They can be super close, I live in a small apartment, but a different butt cushion helped.  Similarly, I am in favor of putting on day clothes of some sort.  Or at least different PJs.  I'm not saying I never started work still in PJs.  But being able to take a last minute video conference, or answer the door for an unexpected delivery, it makes life easier.  And I found for me, made me feel again like a person who was doing things, so that the days I did just lounge around in PJs were more clearly non-work days. 
2. Think ergonomically. I did something weird to my shoulder the first month I worked from home. I ended up changing my monitor height, getting an additional chair cushion, and also having to rest my poor shoulder for a while. If the set up at home had never before been used, or used irregularly, it may work differently for you now that you are there for hours at a time.
3. Food. You probably stocked your food and snacks differently when you were eating there at different times. Some of my coworkers had really awesome snacka that they had no trouble avoiding when they were out of the house forty some hours a week. Alternately, I did not have enough food to survive 80% of my meals being eaten there and it took a while to figure out what was the right amount.
4. Schedule. Figure out a schedule. If you are a person like me, you may have used the growing silence of the office, or your desire to eat dinner as your sign to go home. You may now work where your dinner lives. I talked to a few coworkers after we transitioned who found they were more productive. I asked them how many hours they worked. 
Also, this is not my area of expertise, but folks with kids often found setting the I am here but I'm at work boundary tough. A dedicated space and/or regular hours may help with that. (It does not help with pets, but they do adjust somewhat too.)
4. Movement. Depending on what your commute looked like, you may be doing more or less walking. If you used a gym near work, you may not be near it automatically anymore. So think about how you'll incorporate that into your schedule. 
5. Work people. I've worked with teams where everyone was remote and one's where some people were on site together. Either way it means rethinking how meetings and updates work when everyone isn't in the same place. Also, there are conversations and such that happen when people wander by each other, or hear someone sounding frustrated that don't happen organically when folks are separate. Group chats and regular check in meetings, can fill in some gaps. Also, you may need to think about how to update folks about roadblocks, and being explicit. For example, I am working on this problem is not the same as I am working on this problem and have no idea how to solve it. Yes, this is good communication for even on site team members, but some of those gaps get filled in when you add in person discussion.
6. Nonwork people. Your house may have far less non-work people. This may be exciting. This may be sad. Think about how to adjust for this, whether it's more phone calls and video chats with friends, or whatever. Some folks might know I joined knitting groups and book groups to get some real people interaction, but that is just one option.
7. Errands. The first part of errands is about boundaries. Your telecommuting may include more flexibility or it may not. If it does allow for midday errands, that might be a great option. You might also be able to help run errands for others. But you still have responsibilities. Your increased flexibility has limits. As I said to one person it's work from home, not do chores and get paid by the company I am not doing chores for. So figure out your boundaries there.
Obviously if you are telecommuting due to health reasons, some of this will change. Overall, boundaries and schedule are some of the keys.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Let's Talk Relative Risk

Relative risk is such a fascinating concept. Basically, things we have experience with seem less risky even when the risk matches or exceeds other things. Right now with the COVID-19 virus, we have a perfect example. This virus is new, and yes, we have more to learn about its transmission, manifestation, and long term effects for those who survive. 
However, our best information right now is that your best defense against transaction is washing your hands. Which is the same thing - along with the annual vaccine - that we recommend for protection against contracting the seasonal flu.
And yet, there are soap and hand sanitizer shortages, folks are providing anecdotal reports of more people at the sinks in public bathrooms, and coming up with better strategies for handshakes. Conferences have offered live streaming, companies have temporarily altered their sick leave policies and where possible are encouraging more telecommuting. 
In general, one's likelihood of contracting COVID-19 is about the same as contracting the flu. The flu is deadly for folks who have compromised immune systems or are otherwise frail. Or who just don't have access to good healthcare. The numbers of those people that any of us interact with on any given day have likely not altered much this year. Travelling carries the same risks of exposure and transmission. 
And yet it seems clear that people are taking it very seriously. I do not at all mean to downplay COVID-19. I have asthma, have elderly family members with various lung conditions, I certainly applaud any and all efforts we can engage in to minimize viral spread, and in fact have contacted my local government about this, which I certainly have not done for the flu ever, so it's me too. 
I don't want folks to think the takeaway is that germs are everywhere and therefore nothing is safe, but germs are everywhere all the time, and hopefully some of these habits we can carry forward with us. We can try to be more thoughtful about how our own personal choices intersect with the safety and continued health of others.