Two books finished!

It’s a noteworthy accomplishment these days for me – finished two books!

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune – several readers on Twitter recommended this book, and the blurb was fanciful enough to capture my attention.  I’m not entirely sure how to classify it, and I have a lot of questions about the world-building/setting, but the narrator was engaging and the story did not drag.  It’s been a long time (9 years) since I read anything by Klune, and my primary criticism back then was that the book needed read like a first draft in need of serious editing and tightening.  That criticism is not, I think, warranted with this book.

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance –  a colleague mentioned reading this for her book group, saying it made the opioid epidemic and related issues make more sense to her.  She grew up on Long Island, solidly middle to upper class, went to private/parochial schools and then a Jesuit college, and her husband is very much the same, so their worldview and experience, while not small or provincial, is framed by that.  I have Opinions and Feelings about this book that I am sorting through still; although I did not grow up in Appalachia, some of the socio-economic situations described are not unfamiliar among my extended family.  Vance vacillates between self-congratulation and self-flagellation in a way that is disconcerting at times, and seems to sometimes to absolve himself and his own choices of responsibility.  Ex:  at one point he lists a bunch of things in the realm of etiquette/manners that he didn’t know when starting law school, but since many books on interview prep mentions them, and any college job placement center includes them (or did back when I was in college at a state school), it seems unfair to blame Appalachian culture for that lack.  Like I wrote above, I’m still sorting through my reaction.  And I’m interested in checking about Appalachian Reckoning, which seems to be a collected counterpoint based on the blurb.

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Something has stuck!

Colleague mentioned reading Hillbilly Elegy, which reminded me I bought a copy a long time ago.  Dug out my copy and am now into Chapter 3.  It’s not fun reading, but it is very engaging.

Watched the first episode of Nadiya’s Time to Eat on Netflix.  Nadiya is one of my very favorite bakers from GBBO, and I’m kind of interested in both the types of meals she cooks and how she works on a much more produced show.  The egg tortilla wraps looked delicious and like something I can (and will) make.

I’m procrastinating.  We put off doing performance reviews while shifting from fiscal year to calendar year reviews, and then did all the paperwork, followed by a glitch in the HR system tracking it all.  Re-did everything, then quarantine.  We delayed the face to face part thinking we’d be back at the office shortly.  But it’s May now, so we have to do it by phone or video, so.  Anyway, I need to prep for my reviews next week.  One person asked for help with a problem (of his own making), and I need to ask another to be more transparent about his workload and bandwidth.  Instead I just watched the replay of the 2010 men’s hockey gold medal game.  Crosby looks like an infant…then I remember this game was pre-concussion(s), pre-broken/rebuilt jaw.  o_o

Random:  The (armed) protests of the stay at home orders feel like they are revealing another subset of people who are Too Stupid and Selfish to Live.  On a personal level, I get it, they want life to be normal again.  But do they really need that non-essential thing more than the people who do that work need their health and well-being?  I mean, my roots are very visible, my self-pedicure is poor, I miss eating out, and I hate wearing a mask when I leave my home.  I’ll be happy to patronize the usual local businesses, operated and/or staffed mostly by women, often women of color, when (if?) they reopen.  But waving self-serving, exaggerated signs because some turnip-brain equates stay at home with prison is a crock.

ETA:  I looked at the HGTV Smart Home special online.  I’m kind of perplexed by some of the design.  A lot of the art is…not to my taste to put it mildly.  Which, whatever, it’s not like it’s my house.  And if it suddenly became my house, the bulk of the art would have to go.  Beyond that, I’m perplexed by some of the space/usage choices.  It doesn’t look like there is a bathroom or any running water in the lower level, which is where the family room and an outside space are, which seems like poor planning.  And there is no space that would be useful (as currently furnished or configured) as a home office space.  The study has two chaise lounges and no desk.  The game room has no desk space.  The master has no desk space.   I love the kitchen, dining room, and master bath (all minus art) though.

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Week 8 of staying in place

This week was the 8th week of working from home.  I am incredibly fortunate that I can work from home.  I know this.  But I’m still ready to not have to do it any longer.  Even so,  when the SIP is lifted eventually, I probably still can’t go back to the old, regular schedule.  Public transportation seems like a bad idea, and there’s not enough parking (or roadway) for everyone who normally uses public transportation to suddenly start driving in and parking.  Plus there’s the whole question of whether it would be a good idea for 2,000+ people to be in the building.  How do you do social distancing when half the staff works in cubicles or open/shared workspace? Do you have meetings in conference rooms?  Continue to webex?

I ordered an anti-fatigue mat several weeks ago for my work space.  The table height matches a bar stool or my standing height, and I prefer to stand, but standing for eight or nine hours was making my back ache.  Anyway, the mat finally arrived and I can already feel the difference at the end of the day.

My vacation in February feels like a very long time ago.  But an article in NatGeo refreshed my memory.  Three of the photos are of places I know/visited/recognized immediately.  I hope to make it back there again someday, when travel is possible once again.

Still not reading anything new.  I just don’t have the mental bandwidth; when I try to read something new, it doesn’t sink in and I wind up re-reading pages over again.

Watched the first episodes of Belgravia.  I’m hoping to hear the opinions of my colleagues who are Downton fans about it.  It seemed fine, a costume drama with social class and money issues set early in the reign of Victoria.

Diablo Donuts, which closed in mid-March, is reopening.  Pre-order pickups only, Friday-Sunday, with all booked/sold by Wednesday evening.  I ordered two Captain Chesapeakes for pickup tomorrow morning.  😀  It’s silly to be excited about doughnuts, but that’s where I am at this point.

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Checking in again

I’m trying to recall if anything interesting or unusual happened this week.  And blanking.  We’re still getting hammered at work; most of the division is less busy due to the situation but my office’s work is up measurably.

Enjoyed a virtual happy hour via House Party app.

Feels like I did a lot of dishes this week.  Mainly because I have been cooking something for lunch and dinner most days: grilled cheese, burgers, reheating the soup/chili/pasta that I make on the weekend for consumption the rest of the week.

Due to weather, I stayed inside for two days this past week, which really isn’t good for me.  If it rains next week, I’m breaking out the waterproof boots, because I can’t do that again.

Starbucks re-opened in my neighborhood for carryout only, with limited hours.  I’m a little worried about it being premature.  My favorite independent doughnut place, which has been closed since maybe March 9th or so, is reopening for pre-ordered carryout next Friday.  I miss their Captain Chesapeake doughnut, but hope they aren’t hurrying back too soon.

I’ve been playing through Frank Turner’s discography this week as I walk.  I like something from each of his albums, but the only two* I listen all the way through without skipping any tracks at all are England Keep My Bones and No Man’s Land.  The next one closest is Tape Deck Heart, which I love dearly, but I can’t listen to “Broken Piano” on that album, the key makes me twitch.  (It’s the only song I’ve ever heard FT play live that the live performance didn’t win me over; nope, don’t like it live or recorded.)  Listening to Be More Kind leaves me feeling ambivalent:  I love “21st Century Survival Blues”, which seems apropos right now, but the admonishment to be more kind in the face of the assholery that is our political climate right now (the 2016 elections in the US/UK and Brexit were the genesis of the album) feels a lot like a random guy telling me I should smile, it’ll make me prettier/less intimidating.

*Last Minutes and Lost Evenings doesn’t count – although I listen to it from end to end, it’s a compilation.  I have the albums that are its source material and tend to skip around on them.  It feels like cheating to ignore that I didn’t like their original album placement in favor of the compilation in this context.

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Today

I’m tired already and it’s only Monday.

On a positive note, the orange crush cocktails I picked up from Taps are delicious.

On a less positive note, the project manager who doesn’t actually understand the underlying substance has another idea for a great project. Uh, no. I mean, in theory, sure. But in practice, nope because the data sources suggested are not reliable.

I need more cocktails.

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More of the same

The Downtown Partnership is offering a gift card incentive for a bunch of small, local businesses.  The clip from Saturday’s news broadcast includes two of my favorite stalls at the MarketPlace.  I’ve ordered from both of them since they started carryout, and also tried a third (carry out cocktails).

Mandatory face coverings for groceries, pharmacies, indoor public venues, began yesterday.  I’d already been wearing my DIY t-shirt masks, so it was not a big deal.  It remains utterly frustrating to me that runners in my neighborhood (and beyond) are both failing to wear masks and ignoring the idea of social distance.  I walked a five mile loop today, and watched dozens of runners hog the sidewalks without making any effort to avoid pedestrians; they seemed to expect that pedestrians should be the ones to make an effort to social distance, not ever themselves.

Watched the rest of Star Trek: Picard.  I have to say that if I had not read the prequel book before watching, I would have missed a lot of what was going on.  Or maybe I’m able to appreciate it more?  There’s a whole history for Raffi and her family, and for the Aggy/Maddox relationship.  I’m still fuzzy on the whole Mars-synth debacle, although I feel like perhaps that is explained by Oh and the Tal Shiar as an inside job.

I’m assuming there will be a season two, given the ending.  But if not, it finished in an okay place.

Haven’t made any reading progress this week.  Reading for pleasure, I mean.  None of the TBR shelves appeal at present.  I’m #15 on the hold list for the new Robert Reich book at the library, and #40 for the new C.S. Harris book.  Tried one book that Amazon’s algorithm suggested, but it failed the sample read by pressing on two hot buttons all at once:  the anti-abortion secret baby.  One of them would have been enough, but together?  Nope.

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Afterthought

I have seen a few social media posts pop up in which people instruct others that they should plant a garden to help alleviate food supply issues.  That’s…not helpful, and is borderline offensive in its obliviousness.  It assumes that the audience has possession of a variety of underlying tools/resources, including:  land/space to plant; understanding of how to garden (seasonality, prep needs);  money to buy tools, plants, seeds, etc; time and physical capacity to garden.  We had a garden when I was a kid, and I weeded a lot; I don’t think that experience would make me a competent gardener today.  (In fact, I kill plants, no matter how carefully I follow care and feeding instructions.)  But as I recall, it takes time and energy.  Even a balcony pot garden takes effort and money.  Telling people who live in a food desert to just plant a garden is not helpful.

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