Tag Archives: in which I am cranky

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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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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Recently read

Has Bujold’s Knot of Shadows been out long? I haven’t been paying attention to release schedules, but it popped up as a recommended read. So. It was fine? The fantasy equivalent of a cosy procedural, I guess. It just felt sort of blah; it didn’t engage me, and I didn’t care about anyone in the narrative. There was no larger issue or mystery at hand.

Am about half way through Game Misconduct, which was written before the release of the Jenner & Block report about the Chicago Blackhawks’ failure to take any steps to investigate sexual assault. I love hockey as a spectator, but I think the league and all its feeders should be burned to the ground.

Went to watch live hockey in Pittsburgh. Almost no one was wearing masks. Even in places that asked people to wear masks and social distance – people didn’t. At one point I had to get off an elevator on the wrong floor because people either couldn’t read or didn’t care – that sign that said no more than 2 people per elevator, please social distance and wear a mask – did not mean them. We really are too stupid and selfish to live, aren’t we?

On the drive west, there’s a sign for that fucking guy, hand painted, that includes the admonition “no socialism”. Up the road from another sign painted telling drivers to “drink milk”. I’m guessing the landowners are okay with agrarian socialism propping up the dairy industry, since it is for dairy farmers (them) and thus for the right people who deserve government support, while the general population does not? I don’t know. People make my head hurt.

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Left as fond memories

While on vacation, I visited a used bookstore that specialized in paperbacks, mostly genre fiction. I picked up a half dozen older romance novels for $3.00, which was a bargain. Among them were two that I remembered fondly – Waiting for Nick by Nora Roberts (back when she still wrote for HQN/Silhouette) and Body Check by Deidre Martin (hockey-set romance).

I kind of wish I had left them on the shelf, untouched and remembered fondly. Neither has aged particularly well. Now I think Freddie is a spoiled twit and the smoking hero is a giant nope. The misogyny and profoundly selfish hero in Body Check really bothered me – not sure how I thought that was an HEA back when. [I knew a lot less about hockey when I first read that book. I have opinions about a lot of the substance and background now that I did not have then.]

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Quarterly update, I guess?

Or not quite quarterly – a couple of weeks early – but close enough.

My reading for the quarter has been…not terrible. Mostly because I finally picked up the MurderBot Diaries. Yes, years late, but still. I’ve run through the whole series, but for the newest; I’m on the wait list at the library for it. [I cannot pay $20 for a 192 page book. Sorry, authors everywhere.]

Also on the reading front, I DNF’d the latest In Death book. Well, latest to me, not sure if it is the latest. I keep checking them out when I see them at the library, driven by nostalgia, and then want to tear them in half part way through because criminal procedure and civil rights are things that I don’t want suspended, even in fiction.

Picked up The Personal Librarian, a fictionalized account of the life of Bella Da Costa Green, the personal librarian of JP Morgan. It was an interesting book and very timely, but I found Bella as narrator to be frustrating in terms of her romantic relationships. I do want to see the exhibition on her life at the Morgan Library when it opens.

I bounced off Zen Cho’s Order of the Pure Moon Reflected Under Water, but Cho’s (Zen’s? I’m not sure of name order.) Black Water Sister has started well.

Also read Bujold’s The Assassins of Thesalon. It was fine. I enjoyed the series a lot more until a fellow reader pointed out that Penric + Des = Miles and Nikys = Ekaterin.

On the travel front (!!!) I drove out to western Pennsylvania for a few days at the beginning of the month. Enjoyed visiting Kentuck Knob, which seems like the most liveable Frank Lloyd Wright house I’ve seen so far. Loved the tour and tasting at the Wigel Whiskey Distillery in Pittsburgh, although Eau de Pickle is never going to be a flavor I favor; I like pickles as garnish, not so much in my cocktails. Pizza at Iron Born was delicious (I recommend the Forager Pie), and it looks like The Strip is doing fine. It was the first travel I’ve done in a year, and it was good but also stressful. My neighborhood businesses still request that patrons wear masks unless they are sitting at a table eating. Almost everywhere in PA that I went, it was the honor system – if you are vaccinated, no need, but please wear a mask if you haven’t been. Given the number of overlap of unvaxxed and antimask in my acquaintance, it was a little concerning. But I’m back and fine, so maybe I was too worried and cautious.

Work remains almost 2X what it was 2 years ago (with fewer staff). I’m burnt out. If we do a voluntary return to the office, I am going to volunteer, because I need some physical separation between work and home. Colleague asked me today about vacation planning – I have an embarrassing amount of use or lose leave – and all I could say was I think about it but don’t have the capacity to make decisions after work. Although…I just saw that Jaleo opened a branch/restaurant in Chicago; I’ve tried Jose Andres offerings in DC, VA, and NV. The original Jaleo in Penn Quarter remains my favorite, but maybe I need to visit Chicago and try it there…for science.

Family is mostly fine.

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April reading – ‘ware spoilers

A Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong – the newest Rockton novel. LibraryThing’s notes are, “It was fine.” Since I can’t remember the plot less than a month out, I guess that’s the best I can say? Fine? It wasn’t memorable but also didn’t make me want to rip the book in half and shred the pages.

Her Night with the Duke by Diana Quincy. Someone on Twitter recommended this book, and I think it was $1.99 on Kindle. There was a lot of head hopping, accompanied by telling rather than showing. I didn’t actually believe the main characters *liked* each other. The hero was a brat who pouted when he didn’t get what he wanted from the heroine, especially when the heroine demonstrated independence and unwillingness to be a convenience for him. And it had a magic baby epilogue, which made me wish I could rip the book in half down the spine and shred the pages. Clicking delete in Kindle does not provide the same vindictive sense of relief.

What Abigail Did that Summer by Ben Aaronovitch. I like Abigail. I like Aaronovitch’s world building. But the narrative style of this book did not work for me. And Abigail as a character feels a little like she’s on the verge of becoming an utterly perfect Mary Sue, without flaw, unlike Toby and Peter in the series. I’ve gone back and re-read Toby’s book and Midnight Riot, because I’m conscious of race and gender dynamics at work, and wondering if I’m reading Abigail’s book unfairly; it just feels (to me) like Aaronovitch gives Peter and Toby more space to be flawed and human, while making Abigail uber everything. It seems unfair and kind of burdensome, maybe? Need to think about it more.

Anna K.: A Love Story by Jenny Lee. Saw this on a coming soon list as a New Adult or YA adaptation of Anna Karenina. I haven’t re-read Anna Karenina since high school, and I liked the idea of a Korean-American Anna. The reality of the adaption or retelling was kind of frustrating. I may have to go re-read the original, which I mostly remember just as a plot outline. None of the POV characters were particularly sympathetic: in fact, I generally thought they were spoiled morons. (I felt very get-off-my-lawn as I read.) The oblivious privilege and conspicuous consumption were kind of repellent to me as a reader: unlike the original, there was no apparent examination of the wealth, waste, inequity, etc.

Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs. Guessed the bad guy early on. A charitable reader might say that the mechanisms Briggs pulls out are a function of negative capability; sometimes they just feel like making stuff up to get out of a corner and then ret-conning until it works. Maybe it is a function of unreliable narrators. Not sure. But another magic baby in the epilogue here, too, was pretty frustrating. Way to completely obliviate Charles’ hesitations about parenthood with little discussion on the page! (Another book I would have shredded if I had a paper copy in hand.)

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Directionally impaired

I pulled The Viscount Who Loved Me off the shelf to reread in light of the Bridgerton series. I’m not sure it will age well.

But I’m also not sure I’ll get past little things. Early on Anthony is thinking (or the narrator maybe) as an aside “…since he’d left Oxford and headed west to London…”. No. London is east of Oxford. What?

I get that the family is from Kent, so if he was going from Kent to London, he would head west. But that’s not how the sentence reads. It yanked me right out of the story.

Is it pedantic of me? Yes. But I am who I am. And maps were a thing, even in 2000 when this was published. Be accurate about basics (or be precise in your language) or I’m done. Sorry not sorry.

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Recently read

Borrowed the new Nora Roberts novel, Hideaway, from the library. If I was a new NR reader, I probably would have found it engaging and original. But I’m not, having read most of her backlist and most of her romantic suspense. The plot and various elements felt repetitive of earlier books like The Search or Angels Fall or other books. I probably could have let that go – there’s comfort in knowing an author can deliver predictable enjoyment – but one scene early on soured the book for me. The local police (good guy! surfer dude!) violated the constitutional rights of the Bad Guy. Yes, he’s a Bad Guy. But that’s the whole point of constitutional rights: everyone is entitled to them, even when they’ve done bad shit. I get it: he’s not sympathetic, so I shouldn’t mind. No. That’s not okay. I do mind, and reading that casual disregard for rights and implicit approval of abuse by the police makes me side eye NR’s work more than I already do (see my previously expressed – either here or on other social media – about Eve Dallas’s casual disregard for criminal procedure).

Read NR Walker’s Throwing Hearts as well. It was kind of ~meh~. I liked the background romance of the older couple more than that of the narrators, whose conflict/issue felt really forced and unnecessary.

Signed up for Disney+ to get Hamilton; planning on canceling at the end of the month. It was worth the $6.99 for that plus The Mandalorian and some other material. Enjoyed it, particularly the staging, which of course was not evident from the soundtrack. Thought some of the editing choices were odd at times; focusing on single singers sometimes made sense and sometimes cut off the background activity that seemed relevant.

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Despite promises at the gardening store that air plants are practically unkillable, I have killed an air plant. Even though I followed the care instructions faithfully. 😦

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In theory, sports are returning to North America. Given the spikes due to premature reopening, this seems like a bad idea. One quote from an NHL player essentially said that they feel comfortable with the risks because the science says they’ll be okay since they are young, healthy athletes. Um, what science is he talking about? We have 6 months worth of data on recovery, and nothing about longer term impacts on health. The expectation that they won’t get sick because they are in good shape seems deluded to me. As a fan, I’d love for sports to be back, but as a human I want athletes to be able to live healthy lives today and well into the future, and I’m not sure the bubbles and protocols will be enough.

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Whining here – feel free to skip

I feel like tempers are fraying.  Mine certainly is.  I was ready for the weekend by Wednesday.  Our workload is going up, and everyone is scrambling to figure out childcare for the summer.  We’ve been told to expect to remain teleworking through at least July 15.

I’ve been trying to get a particular tool/license for more than a year.  I did the research.  I priced the options.  I checked out whether the provider meets security standards and if it has other similar customers/clients.  I had demos and included potential users.  I put in the funding request for the last fiscal year and this fiscal year with the primary use case and a hypothetical use case.  I updated the pricing periodically.  I’m not sure what value the “coordinator” has added, since any justification request was immediately bounced to me.  I included it in the new end of FY and next FY budget request a couple of weeks ago.  And then Coordinator, who our Director thinks is already handling this, called to ask me if I had any opinions about this tool, or if I had thought of the use case or how many licenses we might need or how it could be administered.  Why, yes, I have.  AND I GAVE YOU THIS INFORMATION IN SEPTEMBER, THEN AGAIN IN FEBRUARY, AND TWO WEEKS AGO.  But sure, I’ll give it to you again.

Thursday was…not ideal.  Stepdad’s mobility has declined a lot in the last couple of years and he’s very accident prone (falls, stumbles) and has limited range for walking and length of time standing, even with the support of a cane.  (He has rejected the idea of a walker or wheelchair to date.)  What he took to be a fall last week turns out to have been an initial stroke or mini-stroke.  He’s hospitalized and working on being stabilized, but needs surgery; the surgery may cause paralysis but doing nothing will also cause paralysis. So.  Can call and check on him, but can’t visit.

Yesterday after work I went to the grocery store, which was incredibly anxiety-inducing.  I usually go early Saturday or Sunday morning.  Friday afternoon shopping was a bad idea.  It was busier than I’m accustomed to, although the cashier told me that it would get much busier after 5pm.  No one was social distancing.  While everyone was wearing a mask nominally, most of them had them pulled aside so they could talk on their phone or drink something, or just not covering their noses.  There was toilet paper in stock!  No bleach or wipes though.  (I needed dish detergent, which was in that aisle.) The eggs looked pretty picked over, but there was plenty of milk, cheese, yogurt, and frozen foods.

I finally steeled myself and read Akim Aliu’s Player’s Tribune piece.  It was as terrible as expected.  To then read the bullshit article* published by The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa glorifying the bullying of a Bruins player, framed as “boys will be boys”, and using really tone-deaf, ugly language made me wonder again if hockey and hockey media are redeemable.  It normalizes verbal/mental abuse, and articulates a homogeneous, white, cis-het, masculine worldview that thinks anything else is Less Than and deserves persecution until conformity is achieved.  The only excuse I can think is that The Athletic doesn’t employ anyone who is not already steeped in the -isms that are hockey culture, to the detriment of both the company and the writers.

*The article’s headline and one shortish paragraph have been removed.  But the headline is still visible in the author’s Twitter feed, and the rest of the article remains pretty illustrative of oblivious, ugly, dudebro behavior at best.  The edited out piece can be seen in a screen grab in the replies to the author’s Tweet.  The comments are both excellent and awful, with readers who are horrified and readers who say that’s a normal working environment.

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