Monday, July 31, 2017

Monday ramble

Last fall, I had a bizarre anxiety dream about something I wasn't remotely anxious about in any way: I'd dreamt that I'd received a mediocre performance review. Not only was I not worried about my performance review, but it wasn't on my mind at all. I couldn't fathom why it would assert itself in my dreams.

Last night, I dreamt that I was lost in Paris. That I was in Paris with a friend but had forgotten to have the international plan activated on my phone, so I wasn't sure how to get where I needed to go. I've spent a lot of time in Paris--most of it before I had any kind of phone and before phones had maps on them--and didn't give a second thought to getting lost. I'd get lost on purpose and find myself. I'd go for walks every evening and easily find my way back to my host family's apartment. I'd metro out to less-frequented neighborhoods and still have no trouble metroing back into the city (you're never far from a metro stop in Paris). If you plopped me down in Paris today, I'd likely find my way to where I needed to be by some combination of memory and instinct, and maybe a paper map and the ability to ask for directions if needed. Why on earth would I dream about getting lost in Paris?

***
Once in a while, a church not far from me hosts an interfaith meditation initiative to which I go whenever I can. It does me a lot of good (much of which can be undone in 15 minutes of driving home from it, but nevertheless). It did me a lot of good tonight, and I thought of how my mother was ahead of her time in embracing yoga and meditation. And yet, no amount of yoga and meditation and new-agey self-help ultimately empowered her to get over herself.

When the facilitator asked us to think about what we'd come for, what we hoped to get out of it, my answer was 'presence.' Or rather, practice for presence. As the first practitioner pointed out, what we get out of meditation is what we take into the world with us when we're not meditating--such as the ability to acknowledge a distraction and not let it derail us. You practice wandering and coming back to the breath, and in theory that helps you stay grounded against distractions in your day-to-day world.

Quick Monday roundup

This Glengarry Glen Ross analogy is brilliant. I'll add that the salesman in the story was under pressure because his sick daughter needed medical care he couldn't afford.

In this phenomenal piece on veganism, this truth is brilliantly articulated:
Yes, veganism can be expensive — and so can eating meat and cheese. The real cost difference is in eating well rather than eating whatever. If you care about eating healthful, high quality food, plants are the cheapest way to go. (Compare the cost of an antibiotic-free, grass-fed steak with the cost of broccoli, beans, and whole grains like oats and brown rice.) This makes sense from a resource standpoint, since it’s inherently less efficient to feed crops to other animals so that we can one day eat these animals. We would save a lot of water, cropland, misery, and money if we just ate closer to the earth. Veganism gets a bad rap for being elitist and exclusionary, but the fewer animals we eat, the more people we can feed. When it comes to most animal products, we don’t see the real cost. The price tag for meat, eggs, and dairy is artificially low due to disproportionate government subsidies to those industries and to the corn and soy industries that support them. And the price we do see still excludes the environmental cost of these products.

Quick storification

I storified some thoughts on the debate Saletan brought on when he suggested women only need to mean it more. Maybe this weekend I'll talk some more about it. I've written on these pages before about two of the offending men (RM and BE) and about how The Gift of Fear reminded me of them both. In neither case was I holding back; in both cases, I made it clear that I meant business and neither wanted to listen. Both saw me as a little sister figure, even as at least one was pursuing a relationship with me (well, both were pursuing a relationship but only one was clearly, openly romantic). I never led them on. Nonetheless, they were shocked when I had to make it clear for the fortieth time that I meant business.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday roundup

This week has given me many reasons to be proud of my country; one was the tremendous backlash against the transgender ban. And yes, it does matter that many things cost more than accommodating transgender servicepeople, because the people pushing the ban are using cost as justification.

The Onion hits it out of the park twice in one week. See also,
Pity those who have tried and failed to bring peace to the Middle East. I see the bids and asks across the Levant. I can spread the arbitrage from the Bosporus to the Khyber Pass.
The often left-out part of 'no pain, no gain' is 'no rest, no gain.'

Innovation has its place but so does maintenance. So many of us just want basic stuff to work well rather than bells and whistles. Reminds of that time when I bought my house and paid people to clean it, and emphasized that I was after a deep clean, not hospital corners, etc. (I got hospital corners, etc). Reminds me of when RM used to try to figure out why I was sick of his shit, but all he had to do was listen to the plain, simple truth rather than come up with creative theories. I wanted him to be the roommate who quit hassling me, not the one who went out of his way to be extra awesome.

As per the above, I've not paid someone to clean my house since. It only makes you happy to save the time if the people you're paying do it right. But yes, I make that call all the time with home repairs. I only opted to replace the toilets and tile myself this past fall because I was sick of trying to coordinate with potential handymen.

The most important part of this listicle on veganism is,
If you care about eating healthful, high quality food, plants are the cheapest way to go. (Compare the cost of an antibiotic-free, grass-fed steak with the cost of broccoli, beans, and whole grains like oats and brown rice.) This makes sense from a resource standpoint, since it’s inherently less efficient to feed crops to other animals so that we can one day eat these animals. We would save a lot of water, cropland, misery, and money if we just ate closer to the earth. Veganism gets a bad rap for being elitist and exclusionary, but the fewer animals we eat, the more people we can feed.   When it comes to most animal products, we don’t see the real cost. The price tag for meat, eggs, and dairy is artificially low due to disproportionate government subsidies to those industries and to the corn and soy industries that support them. And the price we do see still excludes the environmental cost of these products. A 2016 Oxford study calculated that beef would need to be taxed at 40 percent to offset its contribution to climate change. That’s to say nothing of the externalized expenses of health care required by years of eating diets low in fiber and high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Meat is a more expensive habit than we realize.
If I ever get a tattoo, it'll be one of these.




Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturday roundup

Factory-farmed meat is a climate nightmare.

This isn't the first I've heard of small children being obsessed with 45. Kind of makes sense.

I could have told you this.
What they say: Women are often seen as dependable, less often as visionary. Women tend to be less comfortable with self-promotion — and more likely to be criticized when they do grab the spotlight. Men remain threatened by assertive women. Most women are not socialized to be unapologetically competitive. Some women get discouraged and drop out along the way. And many are disproportionately penalized for stumbles.
Pair this thread--especially this thought--
With this piece about people who opt for panhandling. I admit, I don't want to pay for that woman's cigarettes, soda, or cable. And why should I?

What kind(s) of introvert are you?

Get good at detecting bullshit.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday ramble

I didn't make it to work this morning; I was on my way, on the metro, when I fainted and hit my head on the way down. I came to within a minute to the sound of people saying that someone had fainted, and it turned out that someone was me. An ambulance had been called by the time I got out of the train, but (before I realized that I'd hit my head and was bleeding) I wasn't sure I wanted to get in it; I wanted to go to work. Once I had realized what had happened--there was a dent on my head and blood coming out--I decided to go to the hospital to get checked out. One thing that did not factor into my decision was cost; I knew my insurance would cover most if not all of the trip, and it did. No one should have to make a decision about essential medical care based on cost. A friend of mine recently fractured his leg very badly in a freak accident; without insurance, his bills would be in the hundreds of thousands. That's enough to wipe most people out financially.

I don't know what 'percent' I'm in in the way of access to health care. Today I made a needed trip to the emergency room that was affordable to me. Yesterday, I partook in a health fair at work--the health care came to me, at no cost. I got my skin tested--something I'd been meaning to do and never got around to; I got my bone density tested--something I'd never bothered to do before, and the results amazed the doctor who explained them to me even before I told her that I didn't eat dairy. I got my cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure tested--all fine--so I knew what to benchmark against when the latter two were taken again this morning. As I did this morning, I experienced a sense of injustice: I was grateful for the care I was getting, but I wanted everyone to have access to it. At the fair yesterday, I saw the range of employees--groundskeepers, security guards, technicians--and thought it was awesome that they had access to the same screenings. I hoped their counterparts at other institutions did, too.

***
Since we're talking about class, sort of, let's talk about David Brooks' much-mocked column.
Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.
Let's start with this excellent point: it's always a good idea, especially in this day and age of dietary restrictions, to consult people about where you eat together.

Friday roundup (brought to you by my ER visit)

Israel has no business making things difficult for asylum seekers.
As public opinion has turned against asylum-seekers and Israel has become more insular, many Israelis believe their country is losing touch with its founding values. Anat Ovadia-Rosner, the former spokesperson for the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, a Tel Aviv-based legal advocacy group, told me the situation makes her think of her grandparents. “They were both in Auschwitz, survivors of the Holocaust. When I hear the story of the asylum-seekers … it reminds me exactly of the stories that I heard of my grandparents.” She said she understands why some Israelis are hesitant to open the borders to large numbers of refugees from outside the Jewish faith, but believes “we have a moral obligation” to do so.
Dudes have to speak up for women, etc. If you let casual misogyny slide, you're part of the problem.

Localities want sovereignty in governance but they're not getting it. And utilities are winning the fight against clean energy. Don't let them; vote in local and state elections.

What kind of ignoramus takes issue with the Declaration of Independence?

How exhorbitant is DC, by metro station?

This disruptive passenger story is amazing. Here's an excerpt from the NYT version:
Then a flight attendant, wielding two large bottles of wine, struck Mr. Hudek with both, breaking one, the complaint said. Mr. Hudek “did not seem impacted by the breaking of a full liter red wine bottle over his head, and instead shouted, ‘Do you know who I am?’ or something to that extent.” The altercation ended when flight attendants, with help from passengers, restrained Mr. Hudek with zip ties.

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