Monday, February 27, 2023

Stepping Down

To be clear, since I do love a dramatic title, I am not setpoint down from blogging. 
Okay. Looking at the news, we've seen some politicians, officials, internationally and even a few here in the US announce that they were stepping down. Those of us who have not ever pursued politics also may find opportunities - in jobs or volunteer roles where it is time to stop. 
One of the things that can be hard, especially with volunteer roles is that knowing that sometimes if you step down that role will not be filled. And sometimes that's true. But also, sometimes that's okay. 
One of the volunteer roles I took had a four year max built into when I started that was removed right as I hit my fourth year and they reassessed their needs (and quite honestly discovered they had too many people hitting that four year max at once). I agreed to stay because some people had to step down, but then there was another reason, and another. And there can be a really useful thing in having a volunteer who has been there longer than some of the paid staff, can provide some continuity and some historical data. But there are also situations where being the person who says, we tried that, it didn't work. Or we did that six year ago, it was fun. Well, eventually that isn't helpful to folks brainstorming. And sometimes it can stifle more than it helps. And also, sometimes the mental, emotional, physical, and financial contributions you have been making start to add up and feel like they are getting bigger than the excitement and energy you are getting back.
And sometimes, especially if it's paid, especially if your healthcare, or other necessities are tied to that, you don't have the option to stop. You just dig in and keep going. 
But stepping down from say volunteer trash pick up at the park doesn't mean you don't care any more. It just might mean you are going to take some, or maybe all of the Saturday mornings back for yourself. 
Because here's the thing, if you stop doing a thing one of a few things will happen. Someone else will step in and do it, maybe not the way that you did. They might pick Tuesdays. 
No one will step in. Which will either be fine or it won't. 
Sometimes things end. Sometimes they get reinvented or reframed or reassigned. And sometimes they don't.
Volunteers are hugely important to a lot of things. And also, a lot of organizations have all read the same study that shows that organization members given a role that makes them feel part of the whole, tend to be more committed, contribute more, and stay longer. 
That doesn't make volunteering evil. It just means that sometimes that tug, that sense of importance is intentional. 
People staying can be incredibly important to an organization. New people coming in and changing things can also be incredibly helpful. 
One of the things I talked about when I worked with the youth group, was that having adults who had worked with the youth group in other roles was hugely important to the youth group. 
The youth group was going to be well served by having volunteers who left. Who were on other committees and could provide useful context any time someone suggested something should or should not be done by the youth group. 
But also, particularly in our never stop, always go culture, stopping just because it's been a while, because you would like someone else to do it, can seem counterintuitive. Once you've attained a role, you are - they say - only supposed to give it up for something better.
But that's silly. 
You probably shouldn't quit giving someone CPR until someone else can take over, but beyond that, most things can end. (Also, not to be morbid, but even CPR ends.) If that thing you loved doing, stops because you don't do it anymore, that will be sad. But it also doesn't erase the work you did. Great things happened. That park was clean. And if it's less clean for a while, that's probably okay. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Three Plus Three Interesting Things

I missed last week's post due to, well some ongoing ennui, so have some more interesting things.  
1. In light of discussions this week about what is or isn't sexual content, it's worth noting that PEN America tallied picture books that have experienced multiple challenges.  (It's worth noting that none of these picture books have or depict any sex.)
2. This article I found helpful as it looked into what is and really isn't yet known about the Ohio derailment
3. And here's an update on one of the water crises in Hawai'i.   
4. Michigan State Alumna Jemele Hill has something she would like more than thoughts, in light of the campus shooting.  
5. And this look into the life in a restaurant after viral success is fascinating.  
6. And well, speaking of illicit materials, researchers looking at artifacts found near Hadrian's wall have decided to reclassify one that had previously been logged as a darning tool, as a dildo.  (Note, there is a picture, so um, proceed accordingly.) 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Big Mistake

Yarn Harlot often says that experienced knitters don't make less mistakes, they make bigger mistakes, or something to that effect. And here I am with such a tale. 
I cast on for a sweater. Before purchasing the yarn, I had picked a project, which I then somehow forgot. Because a friend asked me what I was gonna knit with it when it arrived and I was like, oh who knows. Except at one point I did, which I realized when it arrived and there was one skein in a different color. 
Hmm, I thought, did I order wrong. And then I went back and looked at my patters and realized that no, past me had a very clear plan. And yes, I knew just which sweater I was knitting with a color work yoke. 
Now, several things. One, this pattern was designed for sock weight yarn, and I had DK yarn. No big, I often knit a size or two smaller, and it works out great. (Sure, you might argue gauge swatching would help with this. And I mean yes, that is a very sensible approach.) 
Two, I love top down, yokes and I have a fraught relationship, but I was sure this would be fine. 
Three, this was a short row yoke, a particular thing that makes sense in my head and always seems to end up a little off center even when I am (mostly) following directions. 
So, I cast on, and tried it on after a bit, and well, it seemed large. But boxy can be cute, I said and kept knitting. I reached the sleeve separation point and it still seemed large, and also the sleeves and the short row bit seemed to be lining up funny. I ripped back a bit, re-separated, and it seemed better so I kept knitting. I knit lots and lots of deceases in, figuring, sure, this will help. And I reached the bottom and tried it on. 
Well, the decreases did help, but the top was still boxy, and not boxy cute, boxy puffy. But the sleeves will change that, I thought, and kept going. I finished the sleeves and tried it on. And then tried it on the other way. And it was still boxy. And the challenge with a sweater being boxy around the color work top, is that it is hard to fix without undoing the whole thing. And also, it is boxy at exactly the bit designed to draw the eye. No one ever knit color work and thought, I hope people look only at the rest of the sweater. 
So, I did not block the sweater. (Blocking fixes many things, but not this.) I put it in a bag and went to knit another project for a bit. 
And now I have unwound the yarn and we shall begin again. 

Monday, February 13, 2023

What We Talk About

It's not uncommon to see a social media post with the framing, Remember when [thing happened] and then we never talked about it again? And sometimes it's annoying, because people have talked about it. Or people are working on it. 
But one of the things that I find interesting when people do stories about things like the MOVE bombing in Philadelphia that we tend to talk about the lack of national coverage of it as a function of the times. Like, now, you could never have something like this happen, and not have everyone know.
And that both is and isn't true. I mean it's true that I know about things that happen in North Carolina, and Tennessee and Ohio, even though I do not personally have any family in those three states. But off the top of my head I feel like you could do a person on the street interview with folks and ask: Can you name three places in the US without safe drinking water right now?
Has anyone who attacked a power plant in the last few years been detained?
Do you know if there are available hospital beds near you?
And do you know if you are impacted by the chemicals being off gassed as a result of the train derailment?
And I feel like most people wouldn't know. Not because they are bad or even uninformed. 
But even with social media and the internet allowing us access to more information, there's so much of it. And so many things we just aren't getting answers too. 
And some of this is because a lot of local media has been gutted. So that scrappy local reporter who would show up every day and ask the mayor or the power plant exec or the water company, what the plan was? Well that person also covers all the sports, handles the ad buys, and takes all the photos. So the amount of time they have to dedicate to one story? Not the same. 
This is why more of us knew about the water in Flint because of a kid whose parents were good at social media. It kept the issue on people's minds enough that national reported followed up on it. 
There are other weak spots in news. I have never found a suitable reason that despite prominent activists being located in the DC metro area, that local killings never tick up to national level hash tags the way others do. (There are local organizations and journalists working on and highlighting these, I don't want to erase that.) 
But we are in a place where even though we can know more things, the access to ongoing information is clearly still being stifled. And it's not lost on me that that might be one reason we're watching some social media being dismantled. 

Thursday, February 09, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. Gina Prince-Bythewood writes powerfully about what it means that the Oscars leave out Black women reliably when it comes to awards.  
2. Apparently Findaway Voices and Spotify and Apple are using real audio narration to train their AI, without consent from or payment to the audio narrators.  
3. This article has a headline about commutes that made some telework proponents annoyed, but in this case reading the whole article, it talks about how the creation of a liminal space between home time and work time can be done by telecommuters too. (My fake commute theory is proven by actual science!)

Monday, February 06, 2023


In parts of the internet, if you've been in a space long enough, you have seen the flounce. Someone decides a group is no longer serving them, but before leaving announces it, often dramatically. They often linger after said announcement, replying to all the replies, leaving the impression they maybe want to be talked into staying.
Groups - online and in person all serve different purposes. And the goodbyes of it all, are sometimes opaque. Should you announce your goodbye? Do people need to know not to look for you tomorrow or next week? 
I was once seated next to a friend at a large event and as we all headed towards the exit I lost sight of her. I ended up DMing her that I'd see her later and she of course said oh yeah, we live in different directions. We do. We could have walked to metro together perhaps, but with that many people milling about, it was likely easier for us to focus on getting homeward. I wasn't hurt that she had gone on. Just worried that maybe she was trying to find me and if I hopped on a train that clearly wouldn't happen. 
So sometimes you announce your exit so people know you meant to leave. 
I think the flounce version, where you leave but seem to want to be asked to stay, is noted because it's trying to do two contradictory things. If a group is not serving you and you wish it was, you can ask for it to change. But that requires commitment to the group, and also buy in from the rest of the group. If you joined a group about bunnies but have discovered no one in the group has a bunny, they just all play s bunny game and call themselves bunnies because they are fans of the game*, you can say oh oops and leave. You can say, is there interest in also having discussion about real life bunny care? You can try playing the game. But if you hate the game and no one cares about real life bunnies, you may be in the wrong group. Saying you will leave because no one cares about you or your bunny may get you some temporary feedback, but it won't change the group as a whole. And if they add a real bunny talk thread for you, but it peters out, because none of these folks were bunny enthusiasts, you just pronounced the inevitable mismatch.
Now of course there could be bunny enthusiasts, and new ones who were similarly confused by the group name could join. But that works best if you have committed to the group, and the group has agreed to the shift. 
In romance I think this is why we focus on the grovel. In real life apologies are not only rare, they are often small events. So the fictional ones are held to a high standard. Now of course, sometimes this is because the partner who needs to grovel has done a lot. The groveler has kidnapped, stolen, harmed, betrayed, and otherwise hurt the feelings of the grovel recipient. So the amends have to match, and let's face it sometimes exceed the harm done. 
Non-romance books don't always have a grovel per se, but often, there is some resolution to the relationships between the characters. And that resolution is a look at how they will be going forward, even if that means they agree never to speak again. Because sometimes the resolution to a relationship is to end it. 

*I made this example up. Though it would not surprise me to learn this has happened. 

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Three Interesting Things

1. This question is about a writing group, but it's about a lot of groups, that you join for a common experience, but find the commonalities are not bridging other gaps.  
2. I recognize that this is a function of living in the post industrial age, but I had never realized peeps used to be handmade, until one candymaker came up with a process.  He passed away recently, but I will eat a peep in his honor.  
3. I found this journaling technique for grounding in times of stress useful