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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