Recent read

My library has what seems to be to be a fairly good selection of ebooks.  Just as they closed, I borrowed The Last Best Hope, a Star Trek: Picard novel.  I haven’t watched the series yet (maybe next weekend?), but I believe the book is set before the show.  It was enjoyable, a nice visit to a couple of the Enterprise crew, but it ended in a somewhat awkward/sad/bad place, I assume as a lead in to the series.  Or maybe not:  I have only ever read one other ST:NG novel, so I don’t really know how to judge the content.

Also borrowed Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, based on the recommendation of an original fiction writer from AO3, who was “trying” traditionally published romance maybe for the first time and recommended it.  Uh, all I can say is that while I have liked some of the recommender’s writing, I definitely do not have congruent reading taste, because the narrator of RWRB struck me as a twit and the first couple of chapters read as pedestrian-at-best YA/New Adult.  DNF.

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Work has not really improved this week.  Primarily this is a function of my director, who is desperately trying to add value and seems unable to get out of the way of her staff.  She emailed me today to put me in charge of a project that is already in mid-swing.  I hate this.  I’m still trying to untangle a different project that was organized by someone else is a Project Manager by training but has no practical/substantive experience in the underlying project.  Meaning that he created a timeline that is completely unrealistic; promised an outcome/product that is unlikely; and completely ignored data access constraints, the tools required, and the expertise needed to do with work.

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Oddities of working at home

My admiration for my colleagues who work primarily from home grows as I do this longer.  How do they do it?  Is regular work from home better organized and less stressful than pandemic-caused work from home?  I don’t know.  But I know that I’ve been a lot more tired and stressed by the end of the day over the last two weeks than normal.  I spent four hours on phone/webex meetings today, and by the end of the day I didn’t want to see or speak to another human being.

I’m pretty pleased with my office nook, but find that I prefer standing to sitting.  I need to get one of the anti-fatigue mats though.

Unrelated, the brother-in-law’s birthday is approaching and I know what to get him…but it won’t arrive in time due to virus-related shipping delays.  😦

In terms of entertainment, I’ve managed to watch bits of different comfort movies/shows all week.  Different Harry Potters are airing each night, and I’ve watched some of my favorite episodes of GBBO, as well as bits of North & South.  I’ve gone through and bookmarked a bunch of things to watch, but haven’t started them.

Want to read Robert Reich’s new book, but I can’t buy any new books right now unless I finish/cull other books.  The library is usually my alternative for that, but they are closed for the duration.

Got my census reminder, have done my civic duty.

I’m going to have a glass of wine and fall asleep early.

 

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Keeping myself occupied

No library, no movie theater, no neighborhood cafe or bar.  No tennis.  No baseball.  No hockey.  What could I do with myself all weekend?

Started to clean out closets, but then realized no place would likely be open/staffed to take donations.

Watched Frank Turner’s stream/broadcast of his 2,000th show from Nottingham’s Rock City (December 2016), now available on YouTube.

Listened to the first three episodes of WeCrashed, the podcast about the rise and fall of WeWork.  A colleague and I intermittently chat about unicorns and potential IPOs, and we spent a lot of time last year wondering about WeWork, mostly because from the outside its fans seemed like evangelists verging on cultists, and the business model seemed not-different from other virtual office businesses that had much smaller valuations.  The news about SoftBank trying to reduce what it will have to pay (throwing more money into the toilet IMO) made the podcast seem like timely listening.  And as I listen, I’m side-eyeing the founder(s) even harder.

Tried reading the new Patricia Briggs book.  DNF.

Went through a year’s worth of accumulated issues of The Hockey News, and am currently powering through several back issues of Smithsonian magazine.

Today the governor ordered all nonessential businesses to close.  I’m not sure what impact that will have on my neighborhood, since pretty much everything was closed except carry out for restaurants, which in theory fall into the essential category, but who knows.

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New work space at home

Not sure I want this long term, relative to actual office set up. But this was easy to set up for a non-tech person.

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First week of telework

I don’t telework frequently, so while I have the technical ability – internet, laptop, security token to get into the network – I don’t have a designated office space at home.  I usually sit at the kitchen table or stand at the breakfast bar, or if I’m feeling decadent, I sit in the recliner.  Those are not feasible long term.  I need a bigger monitor, because I’m spoiled by the dual monitor set up at the office and need to be able to toggle between programs in a way that isn’t sustainable on a smallish laptop.  I also need a mouse, because the track pad isn’t great for the intensive maneuvering text around all day.  So I’m trekking to Office Depot tomorrow to get both.  I’m also contemplating buying a printer, because some editing just works better on paper.

I brought hard copy materials home from the office last week – notebooks that I keep serially, and the like.  But I think I need to go back in to get a couple of reference books.

The work itself has changed a little bit because of what’s going on in the United States.  So there are the usual tasks and projects plus more.  Which is fine, but complicated by inability to have in person meetings.  It is so much easier to walk down the hall and have face to face conversations.  So many conference calls.

Also, figuring out how much contact to have is difficult.  A lot of my group telework regularly, between two and three days per week, on top of condensed and part time work schedules, so there is no single day of the week when everyone is working; some days I’m the only one physically in the office.  I usually do drop-bys, but how to do that remotely?  Normally, I assume silence means business as usual, in part because the work itself is pretty transparent and trackable, but I feel like that is not a safe assumption right now.

My commute is short, so I have time for a walk in the evening, no gym now.  But I’m working more hours and accomplishing fewer concrete tasks.  Maybe I’ll get more done next week.

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I am not mentally equipped for long term telework or self-quarantine. After two days I am stir crazy. I miss my two monitors. And my routine. And talking to people in person. I hate webex meetings.

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Recent reads – February edition

Someone on Twitter recommended a hockey-set romance trilogy, and the blurb was interesting, so I one-clicked.  The writer’s voice/style worked really well for me, and I read the first book and then the second in a couple of days.  But by the time I hit the third book, I hit a wall and started noticing all of the shortcomings I’d sort of skipped over and let slide in the earlier books, in part because I did not care for the love interest at all in the third book.  (He was a selfish, judgmental jerk, and I DNF’d because I couldn’t imagine him adjusting his attitude or believe any HEA involving him with the hero without the hero reshaping himself in an unhealthy way to get his approval.)

What shortcomings, you wonder?  Well, they were little things that accumulated.  The books are set in a league that lifts all of the teams and rivalries from the NHL, but renames them, presumably for trademark reasons.  But then does things that are inconsistent with the league.  For example:  road roommates are governed by the CBA and are for players on ELCs; a seven plus year veteran would not have one, and using that as a plot point seemed really forced.  Second: moving a player from Boston to Ottawa to diminish a rivalry with Montreal is…not realistic.  Beyond that, there’s a lot of not quite right hockey.  Defensemen play in pairs, not lines.  Pure enforcers are gone from the game. And so on.  It felt sometimes like someone mainlined a lot of fan-fiction before writing these without actually watching much hockey.

Substantively, I felt like the books addressed toxic masculinity in hockey with respect to gay men in a shallow/surface way, but ignored racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and a lot of other problematic aspects of North American Hockey Culture.   An opportunity to address mental illness and addiction was more or less ignored.

The first two books weren’t terrible; if you don’t know about hockey, you may not be as irked by their missteps as I was.  But frankly, there’s a lot better gay hockey romance out there on AO3 (let me plug Superstition, original hockey fic) and from former RPF writers who now write/publish original fiction (see Taylor Fitzpatrick‘s alternate hockey universe/league, which is partially on AO3 and partially self-published).

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On a happier note, I really enjoyed the new Peter Grant book, False Value.  It reads as a re-set for the series, and the beginning of a new story arc for Peter and the Folly.

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I’m back from vacation.  Went to Ilha Terceira in the Azores (or Açores, more properly).  Loved it.  Planning on going back, although probably I’ll visit São Miguel or a couple of the other islands first.  Really like how neighborly everyone was.  The food was amazing – seafood, local dairy and beef, a lot of local produce thanks to micro climates that permit growth of all kinds of things ranging from coffee and bananas to pineapples and potatoes.  The landscape is gorgeous – so green – and there are a fair number of (easy) hikes and walks.  Visited Algar do Carvão, an extinct volcano chimney with a rain forest interior and lake at the bottom; it felt like a lost world.

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