Tag Archives: oh life its bigger

Not a great start

I went to bed last night, or rather early this morning, feeling pretty hopeful about 2021. The Georgia runoffs seemed poised to change control of the Senate. Team USA shutout Canada to win WJC gold. The election results would be squabbled over by some possibly seditious politicians but ultimately be done.

I expected protests from white supremacists in DC and threats of violence perhaps. I did not imagine an actual coup, shots fired in the Capitol, and the death of someone present.

Video clips of the police doing nothing don’t surprise me any longer. But opening the barrier to let them in does. And a selfie when they are trespassing – possibly a criminal, felony trespass – is breaking my brain.

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I need to figure out how to change my Shutterfly settings. They keep sending me notifications about my memories from years past. Staying home is fine. I’m doing the right thing, we all are. But reminding me that this time last year I was in Boston, the year before in Rome, the two preceding years before that in Pittsburgh for playoff hockey – it isn’t helping right now.


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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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A holding pattern

Last week marked the fourth full week of mandatory telework and social distancing; it had been preceded by a week of encouraged but not required.  It has not become more comfortable or routine to me.  We are busier than usual, and everyone is stretched thin between work and home schooling and worry (even as we know we are luck to be able to telework).

I’ve taken to putting an hour on my calendar in the middle of the day in an attempt to schedule a break for lunch and a walk around the block, but more than half the time it doesn’t happen.

Sacrificed a t-shirt to make a series of tie-able face masks.  Not ideal but better than nothing.  Wear them whenever I go for a walk now, even as I cross the street or walk in the street to avoid people on the sidewalk.

Hadn’t been to the grocery store in three weeks, and was out of fresh vegetables, meat, and dairy, so I went yesterday evening.  It was incredibly disturbing, mostly due to people’s behavior.  Still no toilet paper or cleaning products.  No flour of any kind at all. No eggs.  I’m not sure if that is because everyone had descended like locusts earlier in the day or if it is habitual.  Store patrons completely ignored social distancing.  They didn’t have lists and lingered or meandered.  No one (other than me) had a mask.

The nice weather this weekend meant a lot of people were out.  Most of them didn’t seem concerned about social distancing.  Very few of them had masks, and none of the runners did (still).  Very few moved to avoid contact with strangers.  Maybe we really are too stupid to live.

The seasonal farmers’ market should have started last Sunday but has been postponed indefinitely.  The city office that coordinates has some websites for the farms, so I poked around to see about delivery/pickup.  A few have CSAs, but most don’t do half shares; my experience with CSAs in the past is that a full share is WAY too much.  But I do want to help support, so I’ll see if maybe a neighbor wants to share.

Watched the second episode of ST:P.  Started reading Sharon Kay Penman’s Lionheart, but am kind of disinterested in Alicia as MC or potential narrator.  Have been enjoying the #recipesforthepeople videos posted by Chef José Andrés with his daughters.  The recipes aren’t necessarily things I would cook, but I love his delight in cooking/food, and his admonishment to respect the garlic.  (If I lived closer, I would absolutely be ordering takeout from his Jaleo – my two favorite dishes are the espinacas a la catalana and patatas bravas, which I do not share, sorrynotsorry.)

I need to learn about Duolingo’s theory of language learning.  I’ve been using the app to learn a little Portuguese for the last couple of weeks, and I’m utterly bemused by the vocabulary that they introduce early on and their sentence construction.  Is armadillo really an important word for a new language learner, relative to others?  The dog cuts the steak? Seems a little Noam Chomsky to me.  Having said that, my favorite words learned so far, based entirely on how they feel in my mouth and how they sound, are borboleta (butterfly) and tubarão (shark).  Some of it is strikingly similar to Spanish (tiburón) and some is not (mariposa).  And I find the app’s lack of explanation of rules of pronunciation and grammar a little frustrating.  For instance, for the difference in the pronunciation of the letter O –  as I understand it, O gets more of U sound when it is not in the stressed syllable, but that isn’t articulated anywhere.


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Keeping myself entertained

+ Working on a scarf.  Just because I like the pattern and it’s easy and kind of mindless.

+ Watched the first episode of Star Trek: Picard.  The way it picks up explains the abrupt and somewhat unsatisfactory ending of the ST book I mentioned in an earlier post.  One bit early on in the episode felt a bit un-Picard-like, but it sets the scene for the rest of the series, so…

+ Made shortbread with Lady Grey tea and orange peel.  Think I’ll add orange extract next time, as I think it could use more citrus. Tomorrow I’ll make turkey-zucchini meatloaf and figure out sides to accompany it.  I think the carrots in the vegetable crisper probably need to be used soon, so maybe those with some frozen broccoli.

+ Finally watched Rogue One.  I liked it better than any of the most recent trilogy, although I haven’t seen the third one of the trilogy yet.  Of course, I’ve had a crush on Diego Luna since Y Tu Mamá También, so I am perhaps not the most demanding of viewers.

+ Everyone in the office is watching Tiger King, with a virtual happy hour proposed for next Friday to discuss it.  I have not watched because it doesn’t really look appealing to me, but I may watch just to participate.

+ Went to the post office to mail a gift to the BIL.  The post office has marked off six foot intervals in masking tape on the floor so people know where to stand.  Did people pay attention?  Nope.  We are literally too stupid to live.

+ Sacrificed a t-shirt to make a do-it-myself mask (without sewing), which felt a little over the top, but I expect at some point to be told that masks outside are mandatory.  And since I like going for walks, I want to be ready.


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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.


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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Hereinafter referred to as TGBP2013

Whereas I have been sorting through my embarrassingly large collection of books; and 

Whereas some of those books are being kept while considerably more books are discarded; and

Whereas I felt the need to both share the sorting/discarding, and to name this event The Great Book Purge of 2013; and

Whereas typing “The Great Book Purge of 2013” seems to be a problem when I’m posting in a rush or on a mobile device:

Now therefore know all men by these presents that the same activity may be abbreviated as TGBP2013 hereafter.  At my discretion.  (Translation: when I’m feeling lazy.)


Today’s discards are books dating to the chick lit fad of the mid 2000s.  I’ve never read Candace Bushnell, and I DNF’d the first Bridget Jones book; other big names of that period like Emily Giffin and Sophie Kinsella left me cold.  But there were a few books that I liked enough to keep.  But upon re-read, eh, not so much.

Pushing 30 by Whitney Gaskell.  I remember liking this because it managed to check the chicklit boxes while being slightly different:  set in DC rather than NYC; not-broke heroine; professionally competent heroine in a non-fashion/advertising industry; older hero.  I still like some of those elements, but felt a lot less patient with the heroine’s refusal to stand up for herself or respond in any way to criticism or adversity.

True Love (and Other Lies) by Whitney Gaskell.  I can’t remember why I liked this book; the central conflict really bothers me now.  I tried a couple other books by Gaskell after liking Pushing 30 but LibraryThing reminds me that I didn’t not particularly care for them.  Must not have since she’d fallen off my radar until TGBP2013.

If Andy Warhol Had A Girlfriend by Alison Pace.  I can’t remember what I liked about this book other than the cover art.  It seems like an okay read but I can’t really remember the plot and don’t care enough after skimming random sections to go back and do a full re-read.

Up next:  a bunch of YAs (Judy Blume, Cynthia Voight).  Possibly with a break to read non-TGBP material — American Savage by Dan Savage.


This isn’t book-related but it is related to editing and proof-reading.  I read menu boards as I walk through the neighborhood(s) nearby.  Just to see what today’s specials are.  After all, maybe I won’t want to cook after seeing what’s cooking.  And sometimes what’s written on the sidewalk menu board sends me fleeing rather than stopping for lunch or dinner.  Recent menu items that made me cringe:  “tomato bisk” as soup of the day and a “prefix dinner” menu.  Presumably the soup was a bisque and it was a prix fixe menu rather than language building block dinner menu?  Stuff like that makes my fingers itch to update the menu boards.


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Things I miss (or not)

In light of Beth’s recovery and first SBD in a while:

As the move and consequent Great Book Purge of 2013 have progressed, my reading behavior has shifted.  Is it for the good or the bad?  Who knows?

1.  I’m buying very few books.  That probably seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?  If I want to pare my collection, don’t keep adding to the TBR pile.  But I did still buy ebooks occasionally — they weren’t taking space on a shelf and didn’t need to be dusted, skimmed, and then sorted into a keep or go pile. Now, though, I’m not even buying ebooks.  It could still take me years to get through the TBR, even if I don’t ever buy another book.  (That’s not going to happen — I’ve got two books pre-ordered for release later this month — but I’m expecting my book budget to be significantly diminished this year.)

2.  The book reviews in my feed reader are getting short shrift.  Even though there are several reviewers out there whose taste corresponds (more or less) with mine, I’m reading their new book reviews and moving on without bookmarking or checking out samples at the publishers’ websites.  It’s not that the reviews aren’t good — it’s that the “don’t bring anymore books into the house” mantra has finally sunk in, and bookmarking reviews can only lead to book buying that I don’t really need right now.

3.  My younger self had some questionable taste or was just unthinking in terms of the sexism and misogyny inherent in some books.  A fair few of the books I’ve discarded (read: ripped in half and tossed because they offended me) were books I loved at one point, but reading them 15-20  years later makes my brain hurt.

4.  I miss the days when I knew I was going to love the next In Death book, when I pre-ordered every new Linda Howard book, and when Sandra Brown, Barbara Delinsky, Lavyrle Spencer, Deborah Smith, and Catherine Coulter still wrote romance.  Spencer has retired while the others write either straight suspense or angsty women’s fiction now.  Linda Howard’s romantic suspense devolved into chemistry-less how-to survival guides, and the In Death series is utterly predictable.

5.  Reading through older books, I’m marveling at the editing.  It’s not perfect by any stretch and there are typos but the volume of them is incredibly low in comparison to the piss poor editing that seems to pass for professional work from both NY publishers and small presses and epublishers.

6.  Because I’m working mostly through print books right now, I’m reading very little m/m or gay fiction.  I don’t miss it at all, which is pretty telling.  I’d gotten to the point of needing a hiatus from the genre, and the break has been good for me.   I am looking forward to a new release from an auto-buy author though.


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People are mysteries

Two bags of books went to my mother’s house yesterday: some of the books she’ll keep, and the rest will be taken to the jury room.  [She doesn’t like genre romance, but she’ll try the mysteries and loves English village sagas.]  Apparently many potential jurors arrive for jury duty without reading material or anything to keep themselves occupied during the monotonous wait to be called.  I’ve donated maybe 100 books in the last couple of months; they all disappear pretty quickly, Mom says.

Three of the books in this bundle were Nora Roberts’ romantic suspense releases in hardback.  Mom took a look at them and said, “Oh, Harold will like those.”  And then she paused, and said, “Oh.  No.”  Because Harold, step-dad’s BFF, died in February after being diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer.  He was in his 70s, a retired electrician who gardened and carpentered for fun, and he fished and crabbed religiously.  I would never in a million years have guessed that he was a Nora Roberts fan, but apparently he loved her books.  I never knew that.  I wish I had.


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