Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday roundup

What a tragic week it was. Heartbroken for the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting. Furious about the motivation. This thread.
Donate to HIAS.

Housing is the key. Housing first.

Don't call the police on black people for existing.

Cold fusion is actually a thing, if you have muons.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

My camera for two weeks

I don't love my camera. I bought it because it was indestructible (and waterproof), but the picture quality isn't great. I didn't realize that until  I was disappointed with my Peru pictures, because I didn't have time to test it out in the months before the trip. Since then, I've been disappointed with my South Africa, Balkans, and Borneo pictures, and I want a better camera for my next trip.

I did a bunch of research (let me tell you how sick of online product research I am, between my kitchen appliances, mattress, and other stuff) and settled on a refurbished Panasonic Lumix. I was wary of getting a refurbished camera, but I came to realize I wasn't going to get the quality I wanted for the price I wanted with a new camera. I was determined not to make the same mistake; this time, I would test out the camera and figure out how to use it. So the first thing I did was take it around town. It did not disappoint.

The zoom was amazing!

I took it to North Carolina and it performed well. I took close pictures of gargoyles from far away. Yay new camera!

I went to transfer the last of the NC pictures when I got home... and the viewfinder was shot! I hadn't dropped or otherwise damaged it in any way (if I did, it was very, very sensitive to minor contact). Luckily, I'd discovered the issue in time to return it and get a new one. I ended up finding one model up new for the same price. Let's hope that one lasts!

North Carolina

The Biltmore is overpriced AF, but with the Chihuly exhibit, it was worth it.

 Most of the wine was mediocre at best.
The next day, we hiked around Chimney Rock.

 Later in the week, we tasted more wine.

 And played trivia overlooking Lake Lure.
 And drank more wine.
 And ambled around Asheville.
 And drank more wine.
 And communed with landscaped nature.

Throwback Thursday

I know, it's not Thursday. But this really is about a Thursday-related throwback, not that that's important.

I've been thinking (and blogging) a bit about the people we've become, and where we came from, and what a long way it can seem to be. I wrote about it with regard to my kitchen but spared you when I ordered a new mattress. Here's the short version: I remember starkly how Nina's parents and mine had an epic meltdown because she spent $500 on a mattress (this must have been 20 years ago). It was the height of indulgence and financial irresponsibility! Who would do such a thing when you can get a mattress for $75?? And that is their attitude. When I decided to replace the mattress I've had for more than ten years--largely out of stewardship for my problematic back--my initial research pointed to the starting price of a decent mattress being around $700, with the average for decent being around $1,000. I found this vaguely annoying not just because that's more than I cared to spend, but because most of the people in the world can barely afford a bed of any kind. It's also an incredibly hard thing to research (the reviews are all over the place, and models change frequently, so it's hard to get a sense of what you're buying). But I promised you the short version, so enough about my mattress.

Thus far, my 'you've come a long way, baby' musings have largely come from the standpoint of how the universe I know inhabit entails spending that was unthinkable to my parents, and how I've had to adjust to the paradigm of it being okay to spend money. But on Thursday or so, I had a different, more pleasant kind of "remember when." Someone mentioned that a colleague that I'd never really talked to had spend a lot of time in Chile, and that colleague and I got to talking about Pablo Neruda. He referred to Canto General, and I dug out my copy, as well as my copy of Matilde Urrutia's memoir to loan to him. We talked about Latin American literature, mentioning Allende, Borges, Cortazar, and Dorfmann. I thought wistfully about a time when all I did was read books (rather than news, tweets, and the New Yorker). Having that conversation awakened a long-buried part of me I'd forgotten existed and that I need to make time and energy to nurture. I've been so tired, but you've got to feed your soul.

Saturday roundup

We have an epidemic of Babymen.

Things got personal for women last month.

The kids are alright, and occasionally the adults, too.

If you must bring your little monsters to breweries, don't let them trip people up.

Look at the photomicrography finalists.

Monday, October 1, 2018

phone small talk is torture

It was, naturally, my mother who originally drove me into the habit of turning my phone off after a certain hour. It wasn’t the pure, simple boundary enforcement strategy: since you insist on calling me late even though I’ve asked you not to, I just won’t pick up. That wasn’t enough because then I’d get these annoying messages about where I was or was I in bed so early; wasn’t worth it. But as my mother got nastier and more vindictive—there was one conversation in party that riled me up just as I was going to bed and I said, fuck it, I’m just not going to take their calls after 8pm, I don’t care how many passive-aggressive messages they leave me.

My dad is not my mom, but he was also unresponsive to my multiple requests not to call late. He also riles me up, though inadvertently. And he also doesn’t understand the concept of  introversion in general or my not wanting to “chat,” pretty much ever. Chatting is not what I do. I’ll catch up, by phone, with friends I haven’t talked to in a while, but daily “what’s going on and how’s the weather” is my personal definition of hell. Nor does he respond to hints or reminders that a call can’t be long; in that way he’s almost just like my mother. He’s a little better; mom couldn’t take “is it an emergency? No? Then not now.” Her response to that would be something like, “can you believe Smith called asking for money?” “Not an emergency, mom.” “But...” “BYE.”

Dad will file me up in different ways, often because I’m tired and trying to do remote tech support and he’s just not listening. Or he’s otherwise just not listening. Or he’s small-talking at 10:45pm and I’m not here for it. It’s late. My battery’s dying. I still have a sore throat. You know all that. I’m sorry but can the status of the crabapples wait until tomorrow?

Monday roundup

Google-translate from the French if you need to this interview about how we treat animals.

Have we talked about the environmental impact of eating meat?

This is some good, timely fiction.

Why it can be pointless to debate. On that note: how to argue.

How to talk about your weaknesses in a job interview.

How to write a sentence.

I can't stand her character--which means she's playing her just right--but I love Jameela Jamil.