Caste

I finally finished Caste. Reading it while reading news reports about the massacre of Black people in Buffalo and the murderer’s apparent belief in the bullshit replacement theory pedaled by that gross news channel was quite the parallel.

I had highlighted one passage before the shooting that made the hair on my neck stand up, because it was about Hitler but you could substitute that fucking guy’s name and it would still be true.

“…[C]onservative elites agreed [] only because they were convinced they could hold him in check and make use of him for their own political aims….Hitler saw himself as the voice of the Volk, of their grievances and fears, especially those in the rural districts, as a god-chosen savior, running on instinct. He had never held elected office before.”

The book is very good, very readable, and I would recommend it.

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Get off my lawn

I read a really sweet modern AU fic for Bridgerton, and thought I’d try more, including some set in the time of the books. Uh, no, back back back. Setting aside the nails on a chalkboard screech I hear mentally whenever I see apostrophe + s to signal multiples (no, just no, the plural of Bridgerton is Bridgertons, not Bridgerton’s) and similar, the anachronistic language and utter absence of social conventions makes my brain hurt. A lady in 1814 would not tell her sister that she “had always had her back”. No, ladies and gentlemen did not address each other by first name upon introduction. Sir/Lord/other titles are not interchangeable and have different conventions based on status: squire, baronet, heir to peer, etc. Basic internet research, please?

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Was out of coffee the other day. At the neighborhood store, I saw Cafe Bustelo, which some colleagues swear by. Uh, no, absolutely not to my taste. Had to run down to the store further away for Illy. Apparently I am a coffee snob? Which I never thought would be the case.

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Read Amongst Our Weapons, the new Rivers of London. I want to do a slower re-read. I liked it, but I have questions about some of the set up.

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I have tickets to the game in Pittsburgh on 4/29. Last regular season game. And maybe the last regular season game with Crosby, Malkin, and Letang, since the conventional wisdom is that both 71 and 58 can’t be re-signed and fit under the cap. Do I want to make a sign? I’m not really a sign person. And yet.

I’m off that day. My work calendar is CLEARLY marked. And my boss still scheduled a meeting for 1pm. Can I call in? Uh, sure, but I’ll be driving, so I can listen but can’t take notes, which is always the subtext of his ask.

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On a happier note: TheBiochemist finished the Boston Marathon with one of her best marathon times. \o/ And Mom is visiting Ireland again. I visited the Azores last month; so many people I spoke to were repeat visitors, and some house hunting (hmm).

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Bridgerton S2

I liked it? I liked the inclusion of Southeast Asian characters via Sheffield to Sharma, but I will defer to other whether it was done with sufficient nuance – it didn’t seem offensive to me but how would I know if they’d done something awful? I thought the nod to pre wedding activities and the inclusion of patterns (paisleys) were lovely.

I did not love some of the writing for Edwina Sharma, who was inconsistent about practical marriage vs love match. I also do not love the Penelope developments.

Loved the reflections of P&P adaptations, and to Bollywood’s non-kisses.

Loved the clothes, even if they were not necessarily historically accurate. Admired the ladies’ dresses, lusted for the waistcoats.

Also: worth watching for Adjoa Andoh’s Lady Danbury. Her clothes. Her cane. Her curled lip. This line kills me: “After passion cools and fate intervenes, who else is a woman left with but herself?”

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Into the heart of darkness?

Looks imposing and eerie, but actually is a lovely picnic area at Mata de Serreta.

Went back to Terceira. Met several repeat visitors, and a couple working on buying. It seems really well-positioned for remote telework, but that is unfortunately not an option. 😢

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Healthcare in the US

It’s broken. I’ve thought so for years, but recent Covid testing really just reminded me.

I have good health insurance through my employer and have generally had access to care through work-related insurance as an adult. And dental, too. But I also know that as a kid, we only went to the doctor when ill. In theory my father was supposed to provide health insurance but I don’t think he ever did. Or if he did, it was through his employer and limited to the employer’s location (out of state and thus useless).

All that to say that I am aware that I am fortunate in my relative health and insurance.

I needed a timely Covid test recently. So I arranged one that my insurance would cover, but the results were not timely, so I paid an obscene amount of money out of pocket for a rapid test.

Then I had to have another test to return to the US. It was easily arranged, cost 30 €, results in an hour.

Today the billing info for the the too late test results arrived – it’s fully covered – showing the charge of $164.

The difference in cost and timing is striking. There’s no good reason or explanation for the divergence. There is no real reason that Portuguese labs are able to promptly, efficiently, and affordably administer tests and get lab results but the US can’t. Or won’t. Because the US healthcare system is broken. Or designed to profit to the detriment of actually providing care.

Healthcare is a human right. My negative covid tests are not a big deal in the scheme of things. But I’m guessing the disparities there are visible in areas of more critical care, too.

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Short tempered

Everything is irritating me lately. Little things. Large things.

Upstairs neighbor had a leak under their tile that showed via my ceiling. Them: it’s not my problem. Me: I had a plumber cut the drywall, it absolutely is your problem. Them: crickets. It’s fixed now, but I’ve gotten no response re my ceiling repair, so I guess I’ll organize it and file a claim with my insurance, who will then pursue theirs.

I’m just done with the upstairs neighbor. Between the dog that cries whenever left alone, the refusal to comply with floor covering rules (either that or there’s an elephant living there), and the leak, I’m just…done.

At work, newish colleague is very defensive of her staff, which I get. But her staff keep breaking The Thing. I asked if they could not do X to avoid breaking The Thing. No, that’s too difficult. Okay. Then I’ll forward every complaint about how frequently The Thing does not work to her to handle.

I’m worried about a friend with family in Ukraine. Which is obviously a bigger deal for them than me, of course.

Trying a meal prep service. It’s fine? It would be cheaper to shop and prep myself but the reality is that I will not. Haven’t decided if I want to keep on with it. I like some of the recipes but the choices are odd sometimes. Ex: recipe called for two tbsp of minced onion. Obviously the can only include whole onions. But maybe include a small one, not one that yields a cup of chopped onion.

Frank Turner’s Fifty States in Fifty Days tickets went on sale this past week. Road trip in the mid Atlantic in June.

Trying to read the new Kearsley book, but I keep bouncing off.

I’m just cranky. Maybe I should take a nap.

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o_o

While poking around WP, I ran across the stats page. Apparently one post that still gets traffic is a review I posted years ago of the Black Wade graphic novel.

The physical object is actually in my discard pile. I’d be happy to give it away…but age and identity for a giveaway of what could be considered obscene material seem to bar that. To the bin, I guess.

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Random Babble

2022 has been off to a mediocre start on all fronts.

I’m not getting a lot of new reading done: I pick books up and read the same 10 pages repeatedly because very little is sinking in. I tried a newish Ann Aguirre rom-com-ish book that I saw recommended on Twitter, but the h/h irritated me, so it went back to the library. I’m reading Caste (a tangent on that later) slowly, based on the recommendation of a friend who generally gives good non-fiction recs. And I finished Noor, an Africanfuturist novel by Nnedi Okorafor: I liked it and have a lot of jumbled thoughts about it, both in terms of setting and sense of place (great) and also its themes about technology, capitalism, humanity, and othering. I’m going to check out Okorafor’s other work.

I’m about 60 pages into Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. Fair or not, I would not have picked this book up without the recommendation of a friend because the Oprah Book Club label became a giant red flag for me following James Frey’s Million Little Pieces memoir “embellishments”. Anyway, I’m…enjoying is not the right word exactly for Caste, but it is engrossing certainly. I have, as usual, had a moment early on when I struggled not to be distracted, but that’s about me rather than Wilkerson’s writing or her thesis. My tangent moment: she states that Americans don’t have grammar classes but recognize SVO rules of English and the difference between 1st and 3rd person by absorbing the information implicitly, and are much the same about caste in action; my first thought was that both of those things were explicitly taught in English classes when I was a child attending public school. Was that not common? Is it no longer the case? Regardless, it was a rhetorical device that I needed to accept as device and keep moving.

Shutterfly recently reminded me that ten years ago I was in Barcelona. I remember that trip fondly, but not the red sweater I wore for three days because my luggage was lost. I had not flipped through my photos of the Sagrada Familia (absolutely the most gorgeous and least oppressive cathedral I’ve visited) or Parc Guell in a while; time to revisit. I miss international travel. My passport is renewed. I am ready…sort of.

FTHC was released last week. I like the album but would not say that I love it unreservedly. I’d heard a few of the songs live during Frank Turner’s acoustic tour last fall, as well as what had been released bit by bit. “Farewell to My City” is really sticking with me right now, in part because I’m struggling with decisions to be made about where I am going to be for the next few years for a variety of reasons, financial, social, environmental, practical. I don’t know. I’ll figure it out. Or inertia will.

Our mandatory return to the office has been pushed back again to June. I’m a little surprised by this, in part because pre-pandemic telework was pretty rationed, and the longer we work from home the harder it will be to argue that our work cannot be done effectively from remote locations.

My at-home espresso experiment seems to be working out fine. I miss chatting with the Starbucks baristas in my neighborhood, but the home espresso machine has had a visible impact on my monthly food/eating out budget. The union-busting activities plus announced price hike in light of the 30% profit increase reported by Starbucks have made keeping my resolution easier. Do I think they have increased labor and material costs? Sure. But I also think that a lot of the inflation consumers are seeing is not inflated costs being passed on but inflated corporate profits for CEOs and shareholders. On a related note, I’m side-eyeing Amazon’s increase, along with Netflix’s, although the comparison is not entirely apples to apples.

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New experiment

When looking at my budget and expenses over the last year, one thing became very clear: I spent entirely too much at a certain coffee chain. I don’t like black coffee, but do like lattes made with non-dairy milk. (And cappuccino in Italy and galão in Portugal and café manchado in Spain. But that’s a different post.) Anyway, I bought a low end espresso/latte maker and have zeroed out the chain coffee.

This morning I realized I was out of alt milk, until I remembered the condensed milk in the pantry. Good enough in a pinch, right?

Turns out this is café bombón. Too sweet for my regular morning caffeine but would be a good dessert substitute. And fine until I make it to the grocery store tomorrow. 😁

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Oh, fandom, never change

Three Mark Donk/Buzz Flibbet works were posted to AO3 earlier this week. Fandom never ceases to delight me in unexpected ways.

Who are Mark Donk and Buzz Flibbet? Well…Courtesy of hockey Twitter

And they pop up every so often now. This year Evan Rodrigues is the Mark Donk for the Penguins. Last year it was Radim Zohorna. Who knows who’ll be the next Flibbet?

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