Thursday, December 31, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. I found this Food and Wine piece about what the customer is always right ethos has brought us in pandemic restauranting interesting.  I have heard similar things from folks working other retail this year.  
2. I have always been into tea, but this piece on the soothing nature of tea rituals was lovely.  And helped me get a little deeper into tea instagram.  
3. The story of the search for bucatini is a fascinating dive into supply chain economics, weird food rules, and other things.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Pop Culture and Consent

Over on the newsletter I have a discussion about consent in pop culture, and tease an upcoming series of posts.  

Edited to update link.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Calendar Dates

As someone who has made a habit of checking silly holidays for a while (no surprise to my Twitter followers) I am well aware of the simultaneous randomness and importance of what are often arbitrarily decided days.  I was in a coaching session around September and someone said that even for those of us not in school and without school aged kids, we are used to thinking of September as a fresh start. The same is true for those who observe a New Year in the fall.  Hawaiians traditionally observed a new year around the end of November.  As cultures around the world accepted the current calendar, January 1st became a thing.  And of course Lunar New Year happens for some in February, others in April. There are more than just those.  
So when one determines the year to have changed is in some ways arbitrary. But arbitrary is not the same as meaningless.  For many of us, January will likely look similar to December in that we will still be amid a pandemic.  We will still need to carry on in ways that two years ago many of us did not.  But just as the cells in our bodies constantly renew themselves, there is something very lovely about the idea that a change in the date can bring on additional inner change.  
I am aware that I wrote a whole entire post about blaming the year for long term systemic problems, and I stand by it.  Nonetheless, while I don't much believe in attaching long term change just to a flipping of the calendar page (virtual or not), I firmly believe in hope and optimism.  I believe in renewed energy to work for and work on changing things for the better. Whether it's learning new skills, reinstating things that make our bodies feel more in balance, or just looking forward to a year that holds the possibility of change.  
 I have a quote thingie, and one of the quotes comes from Max Frisch.  It says, "Time does not change us. It just unfolds us."  
May we all unfold in the ways we wish to in this next year.  

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1.  Hey Alma had a post on the mainstreaming of alt right memes.  
2. This Eater article on one former co-worker of David Chang's and how reading his memoir felt as he attempted to contextualize his anger as regrettable for himself but less so for the targets of it was fascinating.  Also someday we will want to talk about the privilege of being unable to remember specific harmful things you said to folks.
3. If you didn't have ice cream chain consults with pharmacies on your 2020 bingo card, please add it.  Yes the Dippin Dots folks are helping those who need to keep the vaccine cold.    

Monday, December 21, 2020

I Did Not Set My Toaster Oven on Fire

I do sometimes like a dramatic headline.  As I mentioned over on the substack newletter, one of my go to recipes this year has been baked oatmeal. I read a thing eons ago that suggested automating lunch.  That if you could simplify part of your meal decisions, or make choices that provide easy leftovers or repeats, you will be happier.  I find this works well for me.  Baking or cooking up a batch of something that provides four meals takes care of well, four meals.  I was using berries in the baked oatmeal in summer. And as we moved into fall I've used apples, apples and peanut butter, and lately, apples and cranberries.  
My oven is kind of a pain in the butt, so I often use my toaster oven.  The one I have right now has a timer, and for things I've made over and over and don't need to check on this timer is great.  I can pop the baked oatmeal in, set the timer for thirty minutes and go to sit on the couch (whole feet away) and ignore it.  
I used a slightly different measuring cup this time, and noticed things looked a little different.  Not crazy different, but a little. I set the timer and went to go watch Sunday service, and while I was sitting there I thought, hmm, what is that smell. My toaster oven has gotten a lot of use, so sometimes - even though I scrub the crumb tray regularly, a little crust or two of something chars up.  But this smelled different. So, while I was sure it was fine, I decided to get up and check.  Just in time to see a tiny flame.  
I turned off the toaster oven.  The flame had already flickered out, but in an abundance of caution, I left the door shut and grabbed some hot pads.  I probably also should have unplugged it.  When no new flames appeared I carefully opened the door, and saw that the baked oatmeal had puffed up enough that one piece of it had been pressed against the upper element of the toaster oven. The element has a metal guard, so nothing can easily touch the element directly.   
The baked oatmeal was mostly baked and it was only a small piece that had puffed up against the guard.  I managed to avoid even setting the smoke alarm off.  (Yes I am sure the smoke alarm works. I was fast - this time.)    
It was a good reminder though. That small changes can affect things that seem automatic.  That the things you are used to doing still carry risk.  And that one way to test your sense of smell in a respiratory pandemic is to cook things.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. This story about Texas wedding photographers made its way across my Twitter feed yesterday.  Wedding staff put up with a lot in normal years. I have attended several weddings where the cold did not slow down the bride's desire for outdoor pictures (all in non-pandemic years, I should say) so I can only imagine that this story - while not reflective of all pandemic wedding parties, is not as much of an outlier as we might hope. 
2. I can only imagine this skunk discovered on the Maui docks was very confused.  Since skunks are not native to Maui his capture was necessary.  
3. Several Harlequin Desire authors put together their thoughts on Brenda Jackson reaching the 25 year mark as a Desire writer, which is an achievement.  

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Things We Carry Forward

To quote that Tiktok, the pandemic isn't over just because you're over it.  But we are in a place, after a lot of logistics, that we can imagine that maybe by this time next year, we will be emerging from the pandemic.  And so it is too soon for many things, but I've been thinking a bit about the things we want to learn and carry forward, and those we do not.  One of the things when RWA imploded last year that I said to a lot of folks, is the hard work you did (if you did) wasn't wasted.  The fact that folks mobilized to take steps to correct things, happened because people recognized that what was happening was wrong.  Not all of them, of course.  But enough.  And there are plenty of people who think everything is fine now, because new leadership, and now the President-elect is a Black woman, so it's all fixed.  Racism is gone now.  Spoiler alert, racism is not gone now.  Not in RWA, not elsewhere.
So, the pandemic.  I wrote a lot at the beginning about what working remotely is really like.  But, a lot of people have discovered a lot more jobs can be done remotely.  And so here is an unofficial list of some of the things that I would like to see remain from this experience.  
-Don't go places if you feel sick.  Now there are caveats of course.  As someone with chronic allergies myself, I have sneezed or coughed, or both, every day of this pandemic.  (Nothing like an upper respiratory pandemic to really make you aware of that.)  So sure, don't go nowhere ever just because you have a chronic condition. But if you have a cold, don't sneeze on your friends and co-workers because it's just a cold.  Wear masks.  Warn people you are under the weather so they can take their own proactive steps.  
-Similarly, I hope companies really take a look at leave policies and our culture around sick days.  Sick days should be days spent not checking email, not attending calls.  And if your company can't live without that person for twenty four or more hours, that's a staffing problem. 
-Let's all keep washing our hands and hand sanitizing a lot. We can all make keeping ourselves and others safer a priority. 
-Telework is only cheaper for the company, not the employee.  There are also tax implications.  You need to pay employees with that understanding.  
-Speaking of pay, it turns out a lot of people we might not have considered previously important parts of our functioning society are.  
 -Everyone deserves access to food. 
-Everyone deserves access to healthcare
-The governing decisions made at local levels are important.  But the purpose of a federal system is so that each of us in not reliant on the hope that the jurisdiction next to us isn't making reckless or unsafe choices.  
-Parks matter.
-Libraries matter.  
-When gatherings such as committees, worship, and conferences are held online, it can allow greater access to folks around the world. Folks who even in a time of travel would not be able to make it. 
-Similar to the telework thing, just because your special guests and speakers do not need to travel, does not mean their time isn't valuable.  
This list is only a start.  But it seemed useful to start thinking about the things I want to carry forward, so I can keep an eye out for attempts to roll them back.  

Edited to correct typos.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1.  The Smithsonian is doing a day long event with panels about pandemic life tomorrow, and also collecting responses to questions about pandemic life from the public.  
2.  I have seen Michelle Buteau at a 2 Dope Queens event, and also in "Always Be My Baby" so found this interview with her fun.  
3. This piece on Beverly Jenkins is lovely because Ms. Beverly is, but also gets at an interesting truth. Some historical fiction shows a picture of the things you did or did not learn about in history in a much more compelling way.  

Monday, December 07, 2020

Language Apps

Full disclosure, I have only tried a few language apps.  Aka Duolingo and Mango.  I have also done in person instruction for several.  I am a terrible dabbler.  But there are so many.  I say having learned parts of six.  
So, I've been learning Hawaiian on Duolingo since it was added in Beta, which at this point is about two years ago.  I have learned a lot of words.  I have googled a few things.  Hawaiian is a verb subject object language (as opposed to subject verb object or all the other variations). I figured out some things. 
I had previously used Duolingo to brush up on languages I had previously done in person instruction for. It works very well for that.  Now the benefit of the immersion approach that Duolingo is essentially doing is that you figure things out for yourself.  If a language has a word or character that essentially means this is possessive now, you will eventually figure that out if you are familiar with languages that do that.  Similarly you might deduce on your own, okay, that word just appears to go in front of proper nouns.  Also duolingo has an owl that cheers you on if that is a thing that you are into.  
Mango stops to explain things to you.  Not a lot of things so far.  Mango also introduces you to words and then asks you to know them rather than giving you a phrase and expecting you to magically figure out what it means.  (Yes, I know you can press on the word in Duolingo.)  Mango then does review cards and asks you to self report whether you got it right or not.  Which would be very easy to cheat on.  
I am using the free version of Duolingo and the free version of Mango right now for Hawaiian.  I am theoretically much farther along in Duolingo, but the difference in lesson progression means I am learning things in each that help me with the other.  
The DC library card - and perhaps yours to - also has access to Mango subscription, Hawaiian just turns out to be one of the free languages so I haven't tested that part of it.  

Friday, December 04, 2020

Elsewhere on the Web

Over on the newsletter, I'm talking about how flowers and instagram made me like one or both of these things. 

Edited to update link.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Three Interesting Things

1. This interview with Glynn Turman looked at some great work he has done in his life and now on the latest season of "Fargo" (which I have not yet watched). 
2. Alexander Chee wrote a lovely piece about how for those for whom computers are not the first way we learned to write, writing on a computer might make it harder to finish.  
3. NPR's Book Concierge is a pocket of joy, even if I side eye the use of Let's Talk About Sex as a tag for both non fiction about sex and romance.  But some great books on there, and helps search for gift giving since everyone knows books are the best gifts.