Two Weeks in the Life: April 14, 2024

Hello, friends and enemies. My sister Mia and I have been talking about how my extended family isn’t very close. You, dear reader, maybe surprised to learn that I have quite a few cousins on my dad’s side (“You have cousins?” one close friend recently asked me). When I was a little kid, we lived near my dad’s two sisters. My aunts were actually next-door neighbors. We’d visit them and the five cousins between the two houses, along with my sister and I, would troop around causing mayhem. I honestly don’t even remember what we did with our time because I was pretty young (my dad is the youngest of five and all my cousins are older than me) but I do remember enjoying their company. I told Mia I had been thinking about starting a cousins group chat and she encouraged me to go for it. We’ve only got three of those five cousins chatting so far but it’s cool to connect and chat a little. It’s nice to remember that I do actually have biological family and not just the family I have chosen out here in the world.

Books and Other Words

I spent maybe the first half of Isle McElroy’s People Collide thinking that every character was totally insufferable and the second half sympathizing with them for being insufferable. The story begins when our protagonist, Eli, wakes up and finds himself in the body of his wife, Elizabeth—the mind is intact but he is inhabiting her physical being. Elizabeth-in-Eli’s-body has left and is nowhere to be found and everyone assumes that Elizabeth husband is an asshole who left her without saying a word. I think this book was supposed to be a mediation on gender, and it is definitely that, but to me it was really about how our parents and our environment shape us. With Elizabeth missing, Eli starts fielding calls from both sets of their parents and we see the way they interact with the person they think is Elizabeth and what they have to say about Eli’s apparent disappearance. Those interactions made the characters much more sympathetic to me. I thought it was an interesting story overall.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

Rampant Consumerism

Oversized tee shirt in bright colors. There's a pink unicorn in the middle with the text "SUFFERING" above it
Suffering but make it cute

I finally decided to treat myself to the Beautiful Genius “suffering” shirt. Nothing conveys my existential pain like a pink unicorn on an oversized bright-colored shirt. I did, however, have two people tell me they read it as “surfing” and one person ask me if I was wearing it to ballet class because class is suffering. If something is making me suffer, I’m not gonna do it (with the notable exception if being alive, hence the shirt). People just don’t understand my vision.


I translated some Icelandic Wikipedia articles to English over the last couple of weeks and went over them with my teacher. The first one I chose ended up being fairly difficult. I tried to pick something easy so I chose a short biographical article. However, the vocabulary was a little tricky because it was about an abbess at a Benedictine convent in Iceland in the 1500s and there seemed to be quite a record of interpersonal drama. This week I translated an article about an Icelandic artist who works with natural materials, so that was fairly interesting. What I’m realizing is a real problem with translating from Icelandic to English Wikipedia is that the English site is very strict about citations. When you post a new article, someone Wikipedian with greater authority reviews it and they delete anything without a citation. Unfortunately, Icelandic Wikipedia is not very invested in citations, so if I want to be able to publish anything, I have to track down references. This is annoying as a Wikipedia activity but ultimately good as a language learning activity because I’m skimming a lot of websites and archives in Icelandic to rustle up the information.

Corporeal Form

I wrote back in January that I got a fibroscan (a special scan of the liver) as part of a study and received the handsome sum of $25 for my time. Well, the same study group called me back to invite me to do a clinical trial for a drug called HU6 that is supposed to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver. It involves six months of taking the drug (or a placebo, depending on what group you get assigned to; and it’s a double-blind study so I wouldn’t know) and a whole bunch of monitoring, like getting an MRI and an EKG. I am learning toward doing it (I love getting free health care + I’ll get $750 if I do the whole study) because it sounds like the drug is reducing liver fat, which is good. However, I’m a little wary because it ultimately sounds like this is a weight loss drug and I’m old enough to remember drugs like fen phen. So … yeah.

Kitchen Witchery

I’m still taking it fairly easy in the kitchen. I’ve been making a lot of recipes I’ve made before or making easy stuff out of what’s available, like combining roasted carrots with a package of tortellini and some goat cheese, which I ate for lunch most of last week. I tried one new recipe, thai curry risotto with squash and green beans, to serve with a roasted chicken. I gotta say, we did not really like it. I don’t know if it was a bad recipe or if I just expect risotto to be mild and creamy. Also, typical of an NYT recipe, the veggies weren’t seasoned that well. I thought it would be fine because the idea is to eat them with the curry rice but it didn’t work for me. I am also sharing a photo of a pizza I made last weekend. I looks like almost every other photo of pizza I’ve shared but that’s okay. It’s my site and I can upload as many pizza photos as I want.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Unfortunately for Huey fans, I didn’t get a lot of Huey photos this week (please look at past photos of her chilling on the couch if you want to know how she has looked recently. That’s all she wants to do). I am sharing the duality of Fritz. Here he is climbing the walls (technically the bathroom mirror, in this case) and then him being a cute and sleepy baby.

Two Weeks in the Life: March 31, 2024

Hello, friends and enemies. I’ve spent this week autistically hyperfocused on Wikipedia. I’ve been having a lot of fun picking out articles to translate and contributing to everyone’s favorite free online encyclopedia. I finished going over a translation with Ana, my Spanish teacher, and published that. I joined the translation of the week group and translated (without editorial supervision) this week’s topic into Spanish too. I also translated an article from Spanish to English. People can tag Wikipedia articles to say “There’s more information about this subject in [language], can someone please translate this?” so I can paw through the list and pick out what looks interesting. There is a whole lot to choose from. I feel like I could do this instead of my job all day and feel completely fulfilled and at peace. Alas, Wikipedia does not pay the bills. However, it did let me know that I’ve made 100 edits to the English Wikipedia, so I feel like a big deal.

a screenshot of my wikipedia notifications that says "You just made your hundredth edit; thank you very much!"
100 Wikipedia edits

I’m been loitering around the Icelandic Wikipedia too although I haven’t done anything with it yet. In my Icelandic classes, we just finished working through the A Course in Modern Icelandic textbook and then discussed what I want to do next. One of my ideas is to translate some of the Icelandic Wikipedia articles into English (yes, there is a tag for that too) and review my translations in class. I’m at a point with learning the language where I need to expose myself to more and more of it to start getting a feel for things, so we have agreed that this is a good direction.

Books and Other Words

a screenshot from storygraph showing that my current reading streak is at 105 days. There is a graph showing how many pages I read each day in March, with the highest approaching 200 and the lowest with just a few pages
105-day reading streak

Speaking of reaching 100-something milestones, I’ve been tracking my reading every day on the StoryGraph app because one of my goals this year is to read every day. I’m on a 105-day reading streak at the moment, even if some days I only read a few pages. You may be thinking that we are not yet 105 days into 2024 and that is true, but I started tracking my reading streak in mid-December to see how I felt about it. I wasn’t sure if it would be more stressful than interesting to track my reading every day, but I’m into it so far. It’s been good for days when I’m tired and just want to stare into the void of my phone before bed because I’m like, no I gotta get a page or two in. Once I start reading, I’d rather be doing that than scrolling instagram, so this has been a good way to motivate me to get off my phone.

I’ve only finished one book in the last two weeks: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It is a space opera that takes place in a future where humans have spread out to many planets thanks to the skills of “intermediaries” who can navigate unspace with their special mind powers, but horrible aliens called the Architects have destroyed the earth, ripping it open and exposing the planet’s core to space. As I have come to expect from Tchaikovsky (I shared a few thoughts about one of his other books in a past post), he has created lots of wild alien species for us to enjoy, including capatalistic crab aliens that rent out shell space for advertising. I liked the story and I enjoyed the rag-tag band of characters inhabiting the main character’s ship. Because of course we got a found family in space situation here! One of my favorite tropes! I’m very curious about what happens in the next books. I’m waiting impatiently for my library holds to turn up.

cover for Shards of Earth shown on kobo ereader. Fritz the cat is in the background looking unimpressed
Shards of Earth (feat. Fritz)

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • Facebook’s Shrimp Jesus, explained via 404 Media. So, facebook’s algorithm seems to be prioritizing any type of AI image, which notably included “shrimp jesus” making the rounds recently. Most of these big facebook pages are just using random AI image junk to get attention and then directing people to random websites to buy things. So, yeah, that’s all fairly troubling to me, especially considering Facebook has also deprioritized news (presumably related to some countries passing laws that social media companies like facebook would need to pay news publishers, so facebook just turned off news entirely in those places). Facebook is a cesspool but we’re kind of stuck with it for lack of better infrastructure.
  • The 2024 World Happiness Report dropped and, uh, Israel being ranked the fifth happiest country is really suspicious. Did they … did they talk to any Palestinians? 👀
  • A view source web via The HTML Review. HTML Review is an internet magazine, for lack of a more expansive word, combining writing and programming. This article muses on what it would be like if viewing the source code of webpage—something available to us all on the internet (just right click then select view page source in your browser)—was more visible to us. From the article: “I often wonder what would happen if the ability to view source was made to be more present in the browsing experience—a gesture, or invitation, to see what and how a site is composed. What if the structure of an HTML file spoke further to the content being rendered? If an element had an inner voice, what would it say? Can this history and context be expressed in the way we interact with and learn from view source?”
  • Vancouver’s new mega-development is big, ambitious and undeniably Indigenous via Maclean’s. I think it’s very cool to see what an Indigenous approach to urban design looks like.

Corporeal Form

I did finally meet with an allergy doctor after hassling my primary care for a referral, as I discussed last time. The allergy doctor was very nice but noted that I actually had a blood test for allergies a few years ago, which I had completely forgotten about (also: why did my primary care not mention that. Did she … not look at my chart??), that showed I didn’t have any major allergies. However, I do have to take allergy medication every day to prevent my ears from getting totally plugged up. I went to the doctor about this some years ago because I couldn’t fucking hear anything and was getting mad about it. The audiologist said she couldn’t identify any problems, so she referred me to an ear/nose/throat doctor. He had me taking multiple sprays of allergy medication and saline to the nose every day and, eventually, my hearing did clear up. If I don’t take an allergy pill and a spray daily, I get all gunked up and it sucks. So there is some kind of disconnect between what the test shows and what my actual daily experience is telling me. In any case, the allergy doctor said that he doesn’t think I have oral allergy syndrome because I wouldn’t be having stomach issues (although, about 10 percent of people with OAS experience nausea or stomach upset). He also said that allergy tests have a lot of false positives, so taking a test might not be helpful anyway. He suggested that I might have IBS and that I eat whatever food I think is making me sick and see what happens. I told him I am trying to figure out what’s wrong with me without running experiments on my body and I was informed that’s kinda just how things work. I’m a little annoyed by the IBS suggestion—though I do not deny that my bowels are irritable—because I think doctors say “oh maybe it’s IBS” when they have no idea what’s going on. For now I am avoiding fruit, but I have still been having some gut troubles of unknown origin this week so, you know, we have fun. I’m getting to the point that I have actually been stressed about eating and putting off meals because I don’t want to feel bad, which is not great because we all must eat to live. So, uh, I am open to suggestions because I don’t know where to go from here.

Doing Stuff

Ticket for Sacramento Ballet Visions 2024 with the stage curtain closed in the background
Visions 2024

We went to see the Sacramento Ballet last Saturday. This was one of their collections of shorter, contemporary works. I enjoy these because I like seeing how dance can tell different kinds of stories and I think the pared down look (compared to, say, the Nutcracker) gives them a lot of freedom to do interesting things. That said, this wasn’t my favorite program of the ones we’ve seen so far. It was still really good but it just didn’t hook me as much as some of the other pieces they have done. Could it be because most of the costumes seemed to include what I can only describe as basic-ass, Fruit of the Loom undies? Perhaps. I’m sure they were trying to say something profound by wearing plain chonies but I don’t know what.

On the topic of ballet, I am still going to class and rehabbing my ankle, which is getting better but is not yet recovered. I’ve been going to the pre-pointe class but I still hadn’t gotten a pair of demi-pointe shoes (a type of shoe that’s not as hard as a pointe shoe that you can use to build up to pointe) because of my apparently much-too-wide feet. I went back to the shoe store to try again and ended up with a pair of full-on pointe shoes since I guess there are no demis in my size. I can’t use them yet because of my ankle, but I do have them so that’s something. I’m looking forward to my ankle getting better and being able to try it out.

Kitchen Witchery

I haven’t cooked anything new or of particular interest in the last couple weeks except for these cookies. They’re peanut butter and oatmeal. I did deviate from the recipe to add chocolate chips because that’s simply who I am as a person.

Cookies cooling on a wire rack
oatmeal peanut butter cookies

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

Two Weeks in the Life: March 17, 2024

Hello, friends and enemies. I wrote a big chunk of this post in the middle of the night on Thursday. I took a nap after work, which I do with some frequency, but ended up sleeping for nearly five hours (my naps average around three hours so this was surprisingly long). Kirk woke me up a little after nine like, hey, uh, it’s almost 9:30 and what do you want from Del Taco. Truly he is a prince among men. I am not often up late (because I stay sleepy) but I do love being up at night because it feels like bonus time. There are no demands at one in the morning because people are asleep and you have to be quiet and shops are closed. There is no one around to perceive me. I wish more of my waking hours felt like this.

I have been talking a lot about various problems and ailments so I want to make sure I highlight two things that went well. The first is that I went to get my teeth cleaned this week and the dentist joked that he didn’t even need to clean them because they were in such good shape (though unfortunately they did still clean my teeth, which I hate, but alas we must care for our stupid exposed mouth bones). It’s nice to know that at least some part of my body isn’t falling apart. The second is that we got our taxes done and don’t owe any money! It has been a bit of an ongoing struggle to calibrate how much to withhold—I’ve had to specify that more money needs to get taken out of my checks to not owe the IRS money. This year we are getting a return from both the state and the fed, thankfully. I know it’s “my” money coming back to me, but it’s way less stressful to get the tax return than to suddenly owe $1,000 (or more), you know?

Books and Other Words

There are not many authors that could make interoperability into an interesting story, but Cory Doctorow has offered us a highly readable treatise on how to fix the internet in The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation. But, as Doctorow notes in the book, “it is precisely because this stuff is so dull that it is so dangerous.” That is, a lot of tech issues like interoperability (the idea that computers and their systems naturally can connect and work together, like a Mac or PC could both display a website the same way) fly under the radar because they seem dull and complicated, which big corporations and their legal teams use to their advantage. Doctorow provides some history of computing and the internet to create a record and remind us that the internet wasn’t always five websites filled with screenshots of the other four. He explains that it’s hard to leave those five websites (facebook, for example) because they have shut off interoperability. You can’t message your friends on facebook through a third-party messenger app. If you leave facebook, you can’t talk to anyone on facebook anymore. This is the opposite of how the internet worked historically and how the internet ought to work, assuming we weren’t all here to be consumers but actual humans and internet citizens. One of the arguments in the book that I found particularly interesting is that lawmakers have a very hard time regulating tech because they don’t understand it (I will never forget the comment about the internet being a series of tubes). However, Doctorow notes that legislators aren’t experts in all kinds of things but manage to pass meaningful laws about, say, environmental protections. With tech, “the handful of rotten companies who stole the internet from us” have such an outsized influence, representatives from big tech companies are able to sway any regulations in their favor, leaving us with no small and mid-sized companies who can shift the conversation to things that might help regular people.

The Book of Love is Kelly Link’s first novel, although she is already a very well-known author for her collections of weird-as-hell (affectionate) short stories. The description of the book online starts by saying that Link is “at the height of her powers” and it made me wonder what I need to do to be considered at the height of my powers (am I already there?). The Book of Love is kind of a hard book to describe although I liked it, certainly. It’s sort of a romance turned on its head. We have a nod to traditional romance novels through one of the main character’s grandmothers, who is a wildly successfully romance novelist. We have centuries-old lovers bound to a horrible goddess, and fairly normal teens trying to figure out what it means to love someone else while dealing with problems like being magically brought back from the dead and being forced to figure out how to use magic. I think it’s an interesting book but I just don’t have anything smart to say about this one!

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • The TikTok ban is all about preserving US power via Disconnect. This legislation seems really bad. This is some next-level internet censorship that could have an extremely chilling effect on how we operate online. I honestly think that congress and its rich backers are mad that we’re online comparing notes about the various atrocities and so want to shut it down. I don’t think this has anything to do with safety or securing data. If that were the case, why not pass a fucking data security law? Oh right, because that would piss of our American tech companies.
  • Schiff and Garvey are headed to November showdown for coveted California Senate seat via the Los Angeles Times. I’m legitimately so mad about Schiff’s approach to the senate primary race. This asshole made his whole campaign about the republican candidate, a man who did not even bother to run any ads for himself, instead of battling Porter and Lee on the issues. He did this because he wanted to have an easy run for the general election in November and he knows California isn’t voting for some retired baseball-playing Republican chucklefuck. I think this is a really sour way to get into the Senate and I don’t appreciate it.
  • The science fiction of the 1900s via Unapcalyptic. One of science fiction and speculative fiction’s roles is to help us imagine a better future. However, our scifi canon is really stuck in the 1900s, imagining mid-century horrors like nuclear war. I mean, those things could still happen but it’s not nearly as relevant as it was. We need fiction that moves us forward.
  • Berlin techno on Germany’s intangible cultural heritage list via DW. I have never been to Berlin but as a long-time techno enjoyer I think it’s cool that Berlin’s club scene is going to be a UNESCO cultural heritage site.

TV and Music and Autism

Kirk and I at the movie theater, smiling (or it seems like we're smiling behind our masks) at the camera
ready for Dune: Part 2!

We saw Dune: Part 2 last week and I was very excited about it! Dune is kind of my Roman empire. I first read the book as an impressionable youth and it has stayed with me, which I wrote about when the first movie came out a few years ago. I’m so excited that we got multiple Dune movies. Not only that, the movie has spawned discourse and memes that would have made adolescent me lose her damn mind (adult me: also losing her mind but it hits different when you’re young and weird and something you’re really into gets popular). Spoilers for a sixty-year-old book ahead (I maintain that spoilers have a statute of limitations but you’ve been warned regardless).

Dune: Part 2 was so fucking good and seeing it in the theater (as opposed to on my couch like we did with part one because we were in season one of the pandemic) was amazing. I absolutely love the scale of the movie. It feels epic and it has such amazing costumes. My god! I loved all the costumes and especially the various things the Bene Gesserit were wearing. Princess Irulan and her weird sword hood/cap thing? Killer. I want one. The way they depicted Geidi Prime (the Harkonnen planet) in black and white was a really cool choice. Brutalism aesthetic times a thousand. There were a few departures from the book (like Chani’s arc and the time frame—Paul and Jessica are with the Fremen for several years before their confrontation with the emperor) but I think they made sense for the medium and I don’t think they detracted from the story.

Something that stood out to me watching the movie that I had never really thought about when reading Dune before is how much this is a story about being a fucking terrorist and standing up to colonizing forces. At least, until the end. It’s kind of hard to see just because of the way storytelling works in a book versus a movie (and because I first read this as a much-less-critical young person). The book is full of a lot of internal monologue. Paul is weighing the risks, trying to figure out how to choose the right path that keeps his family alive and doesn’t plunge the whole universe into a horrific jihad (his word!). As a reader, we are along on the hero’s journey with him and seeing all the rationalizations he makes. However, in the movie, we see other character’s perspectives and we do not have access to his thought process so it’s much more obvious that Paul is choosing the path of coopting the Fremen and taking advantage of them, albeit in a different way than, say, the Harokkens had been by oppressing them and harvesting spice for the last few decades. Has there ever been a better time to release a movie about indigenous people fighting for their freedom against the machinations of empire?

I was also thinking about my relationship to Dune and the autism of it all. So many autistic people latch on to Star Trek (I know, we’re talking Dune but stay with me) because it’s a show where they can see themselves in characters like Spock and Data. I didn’t start watching Star Trek until I was an adult when Kirk introduced me to it. I missed it for a few reasons, not the least being that I wasn’t allowed to watch a lot of TV growing up (my step-mom didn’t let us watch TV from Monday until after school on Friday, but that is a story for another day). However, my Star Trek was Dune. I wrote previously about wanting to be a mentat. Training your brain to be a human computer—because the Dune universe outlawed “thinking machines” after the horrors of the Butlerian Jihad—was something I wanted. And something I felt I already had in a way (I have been called both a “human dictionary” and “walking encyclopedia” thanks to my particular brand of autism). I was low-key obsessed with the concept of gaming out interactions to predict what someone might say and the potential response, which is also something I think I picked up from Dune‘s mentats and Bene Gesserits. I can now recognize this as a way to manage the autism and anxiety I have and a strategy for dealing with people and unknown situations, but this was one of the first frameworks I had to be able to do that. I think Dune is also a big part of the reason I ended up learning Arabic, although I don’t think that was a conscious influence. As some of you already know, I started college with the goal of being an Egyptologist, and started learning Arabic right away (that’s what they speak in Egypt now … just in case anyone is unaware of that fact). At least half of the Dune glossary is just Arabic. When I studied abroad in Egypt, I went on an excursion with some friends to the White Desert. I remember my friend Will, a fellow Dune aficionado (and now author of The Mercenary Pen newsletter), saying something to me while we were driving through the middle of nowhere part of the desert like, imagine a sandworm out here. Imagine the shield wall. All this is to say you never know which book is going to be the one that shapes your life.

Here are some more Dune things I’ve been looking at:

  • ‘Dune: Part 2,’ annotated via Read Max. This explains all the stuff from the movie and how it relates to the book in probably even more detail than I could do it.
  • Gurney Halleck, the Moor; or Othello in Space via Harris Durrani on Medium. This book was published in 1965 and we are still finding new things to say about it. That’s what makes something art! I totally missed the details that suggest that Halleck is “likely a man of color [who] appears to be a Moor” (that is, from Moorish Spain). I missed this and I have read Dune multiple times, have a degree in Middle Eastern studies, and took a class specifically on this period in Spain’s history. What the fuck am I doing with my life.
  • “Dune” and the delicate art of making fictional languages via The New Yorker. The languages in the film were invented by well-known conlanger David J. Peterson (you know him even if you don’t know his name, he invented all the Game of Thrones languages for the TV series). Peterson’s approach to the languages in Dune was very different than what we see in the books. Herbert’s Fremen basically speak Arabic, but Peterson, as a linguist, asserts that there’s no way that people 30,000 years in the future could be speaking anything recognizable to us today. He’s not wrong but this approach ignores the fact that all speculative fiction is really a way of understanding our current world. I think removing the Arabic ignores some of the real-world context of Dune (white people forcibly extracting resources from a desert people? What in the world could that be about??).
  • Frank Herbert explains the origins of Dune (1969) via Open Culture. I haven’t watched this yet but it seems very cool!

I must also include a few Dune memes for posterity.


Book cover for Chiapas: La rebelión indígena
Chiapas: La rebelión indígena

I checked out Chiapas: La rebelión indígena de México (Chiapas: Mexico’s Indigenous Rebellion) by Carlos Montemayor from the library months ago when I wanted to read more about the Zapatistas before getting my latest tattoo. I finally finished it after renewing the loan so many times that I had to return the book to the library and check it back out. Only when I finished reading it, did I realize I had a different edition of the same book on my own shelves. So dumb. But at least I’m consistent in what I want to read! I wish I could tell you I learned a lot from reading this. I think I did in a way but I’m still struggling to retain information in the long term from reading a whole book in Spanish. I am too focused on the language and I forget a lot of the information. Still, I did enjoy reading about the Zapatistas and their rebellion. Maybe I’ll retain more from whatever I read next.

Corporeal Form

This week I finally met with my GI doctor to review the results of my liver biopsy (yes, the biopsy that was over a month ago at this point). The doctor confirmed what I already figured out from reading and researching the pathology report that Kaiser put in my online chart. She said I have the lowest level of fibrosis, which means that those special liver ultrasounds were useless in determining what’s going on in there. The fibroscan I did earlier this year rated me at “you’re going to die,” and that’s not at all what the biopsy shows. The plan for now is that I have to get a blood draw every six months to check on my liver enzymes and I may be getting another biopsy in three years, depending on how things look. There’s no easy way to check how the liver is doing, unfortunately. The doctor also reiterated that she wants me to lose weight and I again told her that, to my knowledge, no diet has shown to be effective for weight loss in the long term and she said that bariatric surgery works. Which … I guess to an extent but I have zero interest in literally cutting my stomach in half. This meta analysis shows that people who had bariatric surgery had an average weight loss of 30.1 kilograms (about 66 pounds). If I lose 60 pounds, I am still fat. People will still look at me and see a fat person before anything else AND I won’t be able to eat anything so what is the point of that for me? The doctor also told me that she felt “triggered” when I pushed back on her about some of this stuff. What a fucking joke.

I am also still trying to figure out what is going on with my stomach, which I wrote about in my last post. I talked to my primary care doctor to ask if I could get referred to an allergist so I can get some kind of allergy panel because I think I’m having some kind of allergic reaction to fruit. She told me there is no test “for all the fruits.” I explained that I want to get a test so I can see what underlying allergies might be plaguing me, not because I want to test every single fruit. She kept insisting that allergy tests don’t work that way, which is weird because I know there are allergy tests for common food allergens. That’s like half the point of allergists. She said she would refer me, but there’s no point and I felt so defeated that I said okay fine don’t refer me. Of course, I immediately got off the phone and was like, “Hey, wait a minute!” I spent the last week trying to get ahold of the doctor to ask her to refer me anyway and her office finally responded on Friday to say the doctor put in the referral. I don’t know why it had to be so difficult. I have also been consulting my council of friends with health problems and two suggestions that sound very plausible have come to me. One is oral allergy syndrome (OAS). If you have regular seasonal allergies, sometimes the allergens in food can also trigger allergies, causing weird mouth or throat feelings or, as in my case, stomach aches. I think this could really be what I have because I don’t eat a lot of raw produce (cooked vegetables don’t cause the allergic reaction) and I am getting sick when I eat fruit. I’m hoping a trip to the allergist can help me figure this out. The other issue that could be at play for me is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). I shall spare you the details but suffice to say I am experiencing many of the symptoms. After reading about this, I also consulted with my sister and learned that her doctor recently suggested that she too might have this. Gut problems! We’re having fun as a family! Anyway, I have an appointment with my GI doctor about SIBO in a month. Hopefully I can get some useful answers.

Kitchen Witchery

I am still working on taking my dietician’s recommendations to the best of my abilities. I made another tofu dish last week, butter tofu, a riff on butter chicken but, you know, tofu. I still don’t feel like I love tofu but it’s fine and I guess not every meal has to feel like it’s the best thing I’ve ever had (even though I want every meal to be top-tier but, alas, I must live in reality). However, we really did love a recipe from the latest installment of the Rancho Gordo bean club: rio zape beans with roasted sweet potato and green sauce. The “green” sauce is just sour cream blended with parsley (the recipe calls for cilantro but I’m not about to eat that much cilantro, sorry) and other seasonings. Yesterday I made vegetarian tamale pie, which is in my regular rotation at this point, and I served with these green beans in walnut sauce because my dietician also wants me to get more vegetables. Of course I am bougie and not content with just heating up some frozen broccoli or whatever so we have to be extra about it. The recipe makes more sauce than beans so today I am going to cook some pasta and mix the rest of the green beans and sauce in.

I tried this classic 100% whole-wheat bread that came out nicely and I made some no-bake peanut butter oatmeal bars because it’s a way to get some more whole grains and fiber into my treats/snacks. It is a good snack but I will note that I added some seasonings to the peanut butter mixture because I actually enjoy flavor. I tossed in some cinnamon and mesquite but I think it might also be good with any kind of warming spice blend like chai or even five spice. Later on, I made whole wheat pecan bread, which was good and another batch of muffins based on this recipe. I added some slivered almonds and coconut to the muffins which turned out okay but not thrilling.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

Two Weeks in the Life: March 2, 2024

Hello, friends and enemies. First things first, California’s election is this week. Don’t forget to vote. I’ve got voter guides for you if you don’t know where to start. Please share them with your friends and family if you find them useful!

I have again been busy the last couple of weeks! I went to visit Lito in New Jersey! I read a bunch of books! I went to the Sacramento Ballet’s performance of Cinderella with Abby (it was fun and pretty and I forgot to write about below and frankly I do not have the will to add more)! I have been cruelly forced to re-do all my flashcards! Read on!

a ticket for Cinderella held up in front of the closed stage curtain
Cinderella at the Sac Ballet

Books and Other Words

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan chronicles five generations of witches coming into their power and figuring out how best to survive in a patriarchal society. The book opens with a clan of Romani in Brittany, France, fleeing mob violence, unable to conceal themselves after their matriarch, a powerful witch named Ursule, dies. The family settles in Cornwall to become farmers and the women of the family have to start practicing their rites in secret. The book spans some two hundred years, starting with the perspective of Nanette, who was just four years old when the family had to leave France, to Veronica, who lends her witchy power to the British crown during World War II. The story is really focused on the relationships between mothers and daughters and how mothers instruct their girl children in surviving in the world. Morgan is explicit on the point that women, at least in these eras, could claim power only so long as they let the men in their lives believe themselves in charge. In that way, it’s a witch story like all witch stories, using witchcraft as the medium for exploring women’s power. All that said, I thought this book was just okay. I liked the last book I read by Morgan, The Age of Witches (I wrote some brief thoughts about it in this post), better, but this was still a respectable and interesting entry into her universe.

Rachel Swirsky’s January Fifteenth is a near-future story in which the United States disburses a universal basic income (UBI) annually on—you guessed it—January fifteenth. Swirsky depicts four women from different walks of life (a reporter, a rich college student, a pregnant FLDS teen, and a mother trying to stay a step ahead of her abusive ex-wife) on UBI disbursement day. The novel is a thought experiment into how UBI could make our lives better, but also shows that UBI would not solve all our problems. You can afford to leave your abusive ex, for example, but they might still come after you. I think this is a good entry into something science fiction is uniquely able to do for us, which is visualize ways society could improve. Swirsky is clear that UBI wouldn’t be a panacea. Political forces would still be trying to deprive vulnerable people of monetary support, wealth would still be distributed unevenly and leave the poorest behind. However, she offers a vision of a future where we at least do something, rather than being an incredibly rich country that lets children go hungry and leaves people unable to afford healthcare.

In works that will depress and radicalize you, I read The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the World by Antony Loewenstein. The thesis of the book is that Israel benefits financially from oppressing Palestinians. The state itself and its many defense and cyber security companies deploy their products on captive Palestinians to “battle test” them before selling them to other countries. Arms and surveillance are major industries for Israel, which made $11.3 billion in U.S. dollars in 2021 and some ten percent of Israelis are working in the field. Making so much money from these defense exports shields Israel, to an extent, from criticism. Many regimes buy from Israel both for the products themselves and because they “believe that a partnership with Israel will bring closer ties with Washington and the influential American Jewish community.” The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is symbiotic—Israel is the biggest recipient of aid from the U.S., the idiotic project to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico takes some inspiration from the wall that Israel built on its border with Egypt in 2013, and Israel adopts terms and ideas from white supremacists in the U.S. Loewenstein also goes into a lot of detail about some of Israel’s key cyber security companies benefiting from the occupation of Palestine and discusses some of Israel’s notorious best friends (like apartheid South Africa, which Israel supported until the bitter end). Reading this has me, once again, sickened by the amount of support my own country is putting in to prop up Israel’s genocide against the Palestinian people. As usual, the most vile acts on this earth are being carried out in search of greater profits. Israel is making money from Palestinian oppression and the U.S. continues sending extreme amounts of cash to maintain a testing ground for terror.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • ‘Massacre’: Dozens killed by Israeli fire in Gaza while collecting food aid via AlJazeera. This is so, so bleak but it feels important to bear witness even in my own small way. People in Gaza are starving. Israeli soldiers shot at Palestinians while they were gathering to get flour from an aid truck. The cruelty.
  • Alabama Supreme Court rules frozen embryos are children, imperiling IVF via the Washington Post (gift link). What a fucking shit show! Embryos are not children. They are clumps of cells. I am sure I’ve said this before, but I fucking dare law makers to take this concept to its logical conclusion: child support starts at the moment of conception. Pregnant women can drive in the carpool lane (two people in the car!). They won’t of course offer any potential benefits for this (laugh/cry) because the motivation for these types of decisions is always controlling women and limiting our autonomy. It’s trash and I hate it.
  • The Memex method via Pluralistic. I really enjoyed this (slightly older) piece from Cory Doctorow’s blog about how he organizes information to write about it. I don’t write anywhere near as much as he does (he posts almost every day!) but I think the concept is still really interesting. Doctorow talks about how his blog is basically a big notebook, but the process of refining his ideas enough to share them publicly forces him to make better notes and makes it possible to make more connections between the stories he’s tracking. I feel like I do this to a certain extent. Writing the blog gets me to develop an idea in a way that dashing off a thought on social media does not. It insists that I hone my ideas more so I can share them. Since I’ve been writing regularly, especially writing about the books I read, has made it a lot easier to see the big picture and connect all the things I read and consider.
  • New St. Paul Public Library cards feature beloved ‘laser loon’ state flag design via MPR News. I simply must share the most banging library card design of all time: the laser loon. I wish Sacramento would do something silly like this with our library cards.

Doing Stuff

Last week I traveled to New Jersey to visit my beloved friend Lito. We spent part of the week working (thank you, remote work) and the other part of the week taking in the New Jersey of it all. Plus we spent a day in New York City, which was very cool! I had never been before! It was really wonderful to hang out and watch and comment on our favorite media and roam around and exist. I am longing for the day when all my best friends and I can buy neighboring houses so we can hang out and make each other dinner every night.

In New Jersey, we looked at lots of little shops, strolled the boardwalk on a chilly day, went to the local gay bar for Golden Girls trivia, and saw the new Bianca del Rio show. Of course I also had to try some east coast pizza.

We spent one day only in NYC, which is probably as much as I’m willing to do at one time because it is a very over-stimulating place and I think I’m too autistic for all that. However, we managed to hit the highlights! We went to the Met and saw a cool exhibit on women’s fashion called Women Dressing Women. We looked at all kinds of arts and I bought a beguiling, bright-blue hippo stuffed animal (we are calling her Wilma). We went to Central Park briefly and then headed towards Times Square for our dinner reservation and a show. We had spent a while trying to pick the perfect show but decided on Spamalot for some comic relief. It was actually much funnier than we expected. It was a genius blend of original Monty Python comedy along with more modern material. We cackled the whole time. I do sort of wish I could stay for a week and see a show every night but unfortunately we are not made of money and we have jobs to attend to. Still, it was very cool to see a Broadway show and see what the big deal is about New York.


I am so mad at Memrise for changing its platform! I’ve been using the site and app for about eight years to study my flashcards. However, Memrise is completely redesigning its platform and more or less getting rid of flashcards! I’m fucking annoyed about it because I’ve created thousands of flashcards in their app over the years. It’s one of the main ways I study my languages. I realized while I was traveling last week that I could no longer use the offline mode to review my cards, which was very annoying because I wanted to do some flashcards while I was on the plane. I looked it up later only to realize I was a victim of the new design. Memrise stated that their app needs to be connected to the cloud to access all its features. This aggravated me enough to change platforms. I’m going back to Anki, which is an open-source program I used to use (and I am now very annoyed that I ever switched programs and created more work for myself). I used this script to gather up all my flashcards from Memrise and import them to Anki. Bless the people of the internet for doing this work. I was able to rescue my cards and import them to Anki, which is great, however I lost all the metadata. Everything is now a “new” word to review. I am now doing the profoundly irritating task of going through all my vocabs to tag them and re-learn them. Remind me never to switch to a subscription-based app again.

I’m currently deep in the flashcard mines and I kind of hate it but I have also decided to term this my “flashcard audit.” I’m getting something out in that I need to study my words anyway and I can definitely stand to clean up and organize all the tags, but I would still prefer not to do it. On the upside, I’ll also be saving $50 a year that I had been giving to Memrise for the premium subscription.

just me and my 11,400 flashcards against the world

I am seeing this as another piece of a trend in my internet usage and the way the internet is going generally. The current internet is so committed to everything being a cloud-based subscription service that we don’t own anything. Netflix owns the movies and Spotify owns the music and Amazon owns the books and Meta owns your connections to your friends and if any of them decides to revoke the rights to something, you are shit outta luck. Rehoming my flashcards to a platform I can control is spiritually the same as quitting Spotify and organizing my MP3 collection or moving my primary email account to my own domain. This is fundamentally an old-internet way of doing things, but I think more and more people will get fed up with this system in which we pay for everything and own nothing.

Corporeal Form

I am, once again, not having a good time. I am still having issues with my stomach (as discussed in the previous post). I also sprained my fucking ankle! I was so happy to be back at my dance classes this week after missing like three weeks between my liver biopsy, stomach troubles, and traveling. Then I fell and twisted my ankle like an idiot two days in. I’ve been tap dancing for three years without incident but of course now I sprain an ankle. Fortunately, it was not the same ankle I sprained just before the pandemic started, so at least I’m not repeatedly wailing on the same joint. It’s also not nearly as bad of a sprain as the last one and I’m hoping it will sort itself out in the next week. As for the stomach issues, I’m legitimately starting to wonder if I have some sort of fruit allergy. I’ve been trying to be a good citizen and eat my fruit smoothies per my dietician’s instructions, but every time I have one, I’m getting sick to my stomach. I thought it was yogurt, but I cut that and I’m still getting the ick. I also thought it might be the flax meal or omega-3 supplements, but I stopped those for a week and still had troubles. I tried a smoothie while out and about last week and immediately got sick and then I tried one in controlled circumstances when I was back home and got sick again. Something isn’t right! It’s supremely annoying to be trying to be “healthy” and responsible and then the technically healthy stuff is just making me sick. I am thinking about getting a referral to an allergist to see if we can pin down the problem but I’m so tired of discovering ailments and issues! Although I’m even more tired of inexplicable tummy aches so something has to change.

Kitchen Witchery

I haven’t cooked much in the last couple of weeks, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise. I did try one new recipe though. My dietician suggested trying to get some tofu into my diet about once a week. This isn’t a hard request since I had already been trying some tofu recipes here and there. On Friday, I made these crispy sheet-pan noodles with glazed tofu. I am picky about leafy vegetables, and I don’t like hot leaves, so I substituted broccoli for the bok choy. We liked it and it’s going into the regular rotation. It was very simple to make and it tasted pretty good. We had some dumplings (just the kind you buy in the freezer section, I’m not getting that crazy in the kitchen all the time) with it to make it a little more filling, and that worked out well.

a one-pan meal of yaki soba, glazed tofu, and broccoli
sheet pan noodles with tofu and broccoli

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. It was lovely to see my beautiful niece and nephew, Magenta and Riff Raff, in New Jersey. Riff is a lover and loves to be held like a baby. Maggie never really got comfortable with me, but that’s okay. Boundaries. She appreciated playing with me and eating my food (I let her sniff a chunk of roasted potato and she fucking ATE IT) but did not really want anything to do with me otherwise.

Of course my own cats were very glad when I came home. You will be glad to know that Huey is feeling better. She begrudgingly finished her medication and her UTI seems to be gone. She’s back to peeing in the litter box like a lady.

Two Weeks in the Life: February 17, 2024

Hello, friends and enemies. As usual, it seems like there’s a lot going on here. I would like to have less happening but alas, I am at least partially at the mercy of events beyond my control. I’ve been feeling a little sick this week (not covid, as far as I can tell), Huey hasn’t been feeling good either. We had to have someone come examine the foundation of our house because one of the floorboards in our kitchen is bowed and sticking up in a weird way. It turns out that our house, like apparently most of the houses in this neighborhood, is gradually sinking in to the Earth. It’s not quite bad enough yet that we have to act—the threshold for action is a one-inch differential between the highest and lowest points in the foundation and our worst spot is 0.8″—but it is now on the list of things we’ll need to plan for. Fortunately, it is not nearly as bad as it could be and the fix involves only reinforcing a corner of the foundation, not the whole thing, to the tune of $11,000.

As for my self-inflicted busyness, I published my voter guides this week! I wrote the English version then translated it into Spanish and got some editorial support from Ana, my teacher. Please share them with your friends and family if you find them useful! These do take a fair bit of effort but I am happy to do it because many of you have told me you appreciate them and refer to them when figuring out how you want to vote. I love that! Here are the links to this election’s guides:

Books and Other Words

Roxane Gay’s Opinions: A decade of arguments, criticism, and minding other people’s business is a collection of opinion pieces she has published in various outlets over the last decade. I always appreciate Gay’s writing because her ideas bring me depth and nuance. It was a little jarring to read all these short essays in a row though because every one feels like a stopping point, so it’s hard to keep reading. I was also reminded of so many horrors from the last decade (yay?), which was, let’s say, good and bad. So much has happened in that period. Maybe so much is always happening but it feels really hard to witness it all and Gay has borne witness and recorded her thoughts for us.

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty is a really fun historical fantasy adventure. I loved Chakraborty’s Daevabad Trilogy so of course I had to read her new book. Like her previous stories, Amina al-Sirafi is grounded in Arab folklore, which I really enjoy. This story features a bad-ass retired pirate who gets pulled back into the game and has to get the old crew back together. Highly recommended!

I picked up Cheese Sex Death: A Bible for the Cheese Obsessed by Erika Kubick from the library because I started following the author’s instagram where she posts short videos inviting us to “cheese church” to worship the body of Cheesus. The book treats cheese as a divine manifestation of Mother Earth. Learning about Her from Her prophets (cheese mongers and makers) and participating in the sacrament of consuming Her body is all part of a sacred ritual for Kubick. I actually learned a lot about cheese and where it comes from and its many varieties (excuse me, I mean Cheesus and Her many divine bodies). The book itself is beautiful and has illustrations in the style of stained glass. It is also clearly taking inspiration from Christianity, which is a little tired but for a good cause (Cheesus). I had to laugh because one of the blurbs on the cover says the book is “irreverent.” On the contrary, this is the most reverent book I’ve read in ages. It can be considered irreverent if you think reverence applies only to major religions. Kubick has an abundance of reverence for Cheesus and wants us to join her in worship.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • Senate passes aid package for Ukraine and Israel, but its future is uncertain in the House via NBC News. I would love to know why the Senate is throwing another $14 billion dollars at Israel for “security assistance” while also authorizing $9 billion in humanitarian aid for Palestinians. I may not be a fancy senator, but it seems to me would could get a two-for-one on our spending by simply not giving Israel more money to terrorize Gaza, which will then necessitate more humanitarian aid? Make it make sense. Stop giving Israel money for genocide! The Department of Education says that student loan debt relief would cost around $30 billion a year for ten years. Let’s do that instead of throwing money at Israel.
  • California’s war on plastic bags seems to have backfired. Lawmakers are trying again via Los Angeles Times. About 10 years ago, Californians voted to get rid of single-use plastic bags, but an idiotic loophole lead to stores offering heavier-weight “recyclable” bags and charging us 10 cents apiece. A consumer advocacy group reported that by 2022, “tonnage of discarded plastic bags had skyrocketed to 231,072—a 47% jump.” This obviously sucks. It’s also so hard to avoid plastic bags if you order online and pickup from the store. I can’t give my reusable bag to Target before I pick up my order. I’m not sure what the solution is. Maybe back to the thin, cheap plastic? Paper bags? Tote bags you return to the store somehow? The Target employees just shoving a handful of loose objects into my car when I go for curbside pickup? The Governor signed a law last year to phase out single-use plastics, with at least 30% of plastic items sold being recyclable by 2028. It’s good that the new law will put the onus on manufacturers rather than consumers. I hope it helps because I’m getting really tired of all this plastic trash!
  • Against disruption: On the bulletpointization of books via Literary Hub. Maybe the experience of reading cannot be distilled into bullet points for business-maxxed corporate queens? Yes, we get information from books but part of what’s great about books is experiencing them and forming your own opinions. But what do I know, I’m not a CEO.
  • Government services should be delightful! via The White Pages. I think people wouldn’t complain so much about paying taxes if they actually went to things that clearly benefited people and the system didn’t seem designed to inflict the most misery possible. There’s no reason we couldn’t spend tax money on something like the Finnish baby box discussed in the article instead of, say, giving Israel the world’s biggest allowance (yes, I am mad and planning to stay mad about this). We deserve better.

TV and Music

Kirk and I have been having a lot of fun watching Game Changer on Dropout. It’s a game show that invites improv comedians to play, but what game they play changes almost every episode. I had seen some clips online and it looked hilarious so we are finally watching it. If you like shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway, you will enjoy Game Changer.

Doing Stuff

a paper plate carrying crackers, bread, and six small cups, each containing a different soup
soup tasting

For a couple of years before the pandemic, I had a cookbook club where a group of us would get together every couple months and cook different recipes from the same book. That particular group is no more, but we have made a new version with a slightly different approach. Last Saturday we had our SOUPer Bowl party and invited everyone to bring a soup to share. It was a lot of fun! We had a huge variety of soups, from pozole to clam chowder to pickle. I can’t wait for the next one, which will feature a different type of food. It was also really nice to socialize with people. I know, I’m not a big socializer, but something like this is a lot of fun for me. Plus I love to show off my cooking! I made potato-leek soup with spiced chickpeas and it seemed to be a hit.

Corporeal Form

I did finally get the lab results from my liver biopsy, however I still haven’t heard from my doctor about it all. I spent about an hour looking up every technical term in the report that Kaiser posted online to figure out what it means. The good news is my liver is not too fat. Of the sample they analyzed, 35 percent showed evidence of fatty liver. This isn’t great but it’s also not the worst. This barely puts me in the middle level of severity, which starts at 34 percent. The other good news is there is “mild regenerative change,” which means my liver seems like it’s healed itself, if just a little. I am not sure if I can credit that to working with my dietician, since I don’t think the liver can change that quickly, but I am hoping I can get this to a place where it’s at least not actively getting worse. The only thing to do now is keep making adjustments to make my liver healthy (or, according to my doctor, lose weight. lol).

Kitchen Witchery

I haven’t done a whole lot of cooking the last couple of weeks because my stomach hasn’t been feeling great. I don’t know if I ate something weird or have the flu or who knows what but I am straight-up not having a good time and I may or may not have thrown up while in the car at some point last week. I thought maybe the fruit smoothies were the problem, but I was still feeling the ick after not having smoothies for a few days. I did a couple of dinners of cheese and crackers and nuts because I know nothing about that is going to feel bad for me. I’ve also added these Harvest Snaps pea crisps into the mix because my dietitian recommended snacks like that to get a little more fiber into my diet. They’re surprisingly good! I’ve been looking for more ways to eat flax meal because although I like oatmeal I cannot commit to eating it every day. I tried out putting some flax in pancakes. I wasn’t shocked that this succeeded because you can put basically anything in pancake batter and pancakes are like “yeah, sure, go for it.” I also tried out this soft sandwich bread with flax. It is indeed very soft! She does not want to stand up and is very squishy. That is okay because it’s a pretty good bread. Then I made some muffins with flax. The recipe is for blueberry muffins but I think at this point you all know I don’t really do fruit. So I swapped in some chocolate chips and jammy bits plus a little bit of sliced almonds for good measure. They came out really good and Kirk seems to be a fan too.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Poor Queen Huey had to go to the vet this week. She’s been peeing on the floor a lot. Unfortunately, it took us a few days to realize she was the criminal in question because Fritz is a known pee pee vandal. It turned out she just has a UTI again and needed antibiotics. I’m relieved it’s not something more serious because it seemed for a few days that she had totally lost control of her bladder. She’s doing better now and hasn’t peed on the floor for the last few days (if we don’t count the times when she’s right next to the litter box and misses). Please keep her in your worshipful thoughts! They bring her strength!

Guía para votantes: 5 de marzo 2024, elección primaria de California

Hola amigos y enemigos. Ya es la temporada de elecciones de nuevo. En California, la elección primaria va a ser el 5 de marzo, pero debes recibir tu boleta en el correo a principios de febrero, si todavía no la has recibido. Recuerda que puedes votar por correo o en un centro de votación.

Looking for the English version? It’s right here

Recordatorios y recursos para los votantes californianos

Descargo de responsabilidad: No soy experta en la política ni el gobierno. Soy solo una persona quien tiene habilidades de leer y buscar información. Si confías en mí, puedes votar como yo. También puedes usar esta guía como un punto de partida para decidir cómo quieres votar.

Consulta rápida

Este cuadro resume mis votos para la elección. Sigue leyendo para ver mis explicaciones.

Oficina o propuestaMi voto
Presidente de los Estados UnidosClaudia de la Cruz
Senador – Periodo completoKatie Porter
Senador – Periodo parcial/restanteKatie Porter
Propuesta 1No
Distrito 7 del CongresoDavid Lee Mandel
Distrito 10 de la AsambleaStephanie Nguyen
Juez de la oficina número 21 de la Corte SuperiorNoel Andrew Calvillo
Junta de Educación del Condado de SacramentoHeather Davis

Cargos nominados por el partido

California tiene una elección primaria “abierta” gracias a Dos Candidatos Principales – Ley de Primaria Abierta. Significa que no estás limitado a votar por candidatos del partido al que perteneces. Los dos candidatos con la mayor cantidad de votos (a pesar de su afiliación partidaria) se van a enfrentar en la elección general en noviembre. Podría haber, por ejemplo, dos candidatos demócratas en contención para el mismo cargo en el Senado, en cambio de un candidato de cada partido.

No obstante, esta regla no aplica a la elección de presidente. Hay que inscribirse a un partido político para escoger a un candidato presidencial en la elección primaria. Si te has inscrito en el partido demócrata, estás limitado a seleccionar entre los candidatos demócratas cuando votes. Yo soy una miembra inscrita del partido Paz y Libertad y debido a eso en mi boleta solo aparecen sus candidatos para presidente (Cornell West, Jasmine Sherman, y Claudia de la Cruz). 

Quiero mencionar que la elección primaria es la hora de votar de corazón. Vota al candidato que tenga opiniones fuertes aunque no creas que pueda ganar la elección en noviembre. No escojas preventivamente a un peor candidato. Tendremos muchas oportunidades para escoger al menor de dos males en noviembre. 

Presidente de los Estados Unidos

Mi voto: Claudia de la Cruz

De los candidatos del partido Paz y Libertad, creo que Claudia de la Cruz tiene la plataforma (¡en español!) con la que resueno mejor. Parece que ella tiene un nivel de organización para tener éxito en la elección general o al menos para crear un movimiento y coalición. Si te sientes desilusionado con Biden y el resto de los candidatos demócratas ahora, recomiendo mucho que eches un ojo al sitio web de de la Cruz. Creo que estarás agradablemente sorprendido de oír que una candidata llama a recortar el presupuesto militar y nacionalizar las corporaciones de combustibles fósiles. 

Es probable que la mayoría de ustedes estén atormentados por los candidatos demócratas (pero permíteme recordarte que ¡puedes cambiar tu preferencia partidaria y obtener una boleta nueva en cualquier momento! Sigue el proceso para el registro del votante en el mismo día para hacerlo del 20 de febrero hasta la elección el 5 de marzo). La lista de candidatos en la boleta parece un poco aleatoria y es porque el Partido Demócrata solo respalda a Joe Biden en esta elección. Los otros dos aspirantes nacionales son Marianne Williamson y Dean Phillips. Williamson está chiflada. Existe un episodio del podcast Maintenance Phase dedicado a su locura. Dean Phillips parece más o menos bien. Es un congresista de Minnesota quien aparentemente fundó una compañía de gelato. Entonces … ok. No sé. Podría ser peor, supongo.

Y tenemos a Joe Biden. Sé que muchos de nosotros estamos en la posición incómoda de estar de acuerdo con los conservadores que lo odian (¡aunque por razones muy diferentes!). Es difícil querer votar por un presidente que tiene 81 años y quien está, al menos, mostrando signos tempranos de demencia. ¡No creo que sea incorrecto querer un presidente que sea más joven y con bastante agilidad mental para hacer el trabajo! Biden ha hecho algunas cosas buenas como presidente. Recibimos el American Rescue Plan Act y dinero para la infraestructura. No obstante, sé que, para muchos de nosotros, su firme apoyo a Israel a pesar de la mortandad creciente es un factor no negociable. No quiero un presidente que apoya un genocidio. También quiero notar que no es simplemente mi opinión que es un genocidio. La Corte Internacional de Justicia, en su respuesta a la demanda de Sudáfrica contra Israel, dice que parece que Israel sí comete algunos actos genocidas. Yo no sé legítimamente si podría votar por Biden en la elección en noviembre, aún con el conocimiento de que la pérdida de Biden significa que tendríamos la victoria de Trump (lo que sería una chingada pesadilla, a propósito). Los demócratas necesitan tener más coraje y nombrar a un candidato mejor. Necesitamos más que dos partidos políticos en este país. No sé si algunas de estas cosas vayan a resolverse antes de noviembre y siento que no pueda ofrecer un consejo mejor o más decisivo. 

Cargos nominados por los votantes

Senador de los Estados Unidos: Periodo completo y periodo parcial/restante

Mi voto: Katie Porter

Tener dos votos para senador en la boleta fue confuso para mí. Tuve que desentrañar porque tenemos el voto para senado para periodo completo y para periodo parcial. Las dos son para la misma posición. Uno de nuestros senadores de California es Alex Padilla quien va a terminar su periodo en 2029. Votamos ahora para ocupar la posición de Diane Feinstein. Después de que falleció el año pasado, el Gobernador Newsom nombró a Laphonza Butler para reemplazarla. Butler no busca la reelección como senadora. Entonces el periodo parcial/restante es para escoger a alguien que termine el resto del periodo original de Feinstein, el cual finaliza en enero 2025. La posición de periodo completo es la elección programada regularmente para el periodo que empieza en 2025. Podrías votar por personas diferentes en cada cargo, pero no sería muy útil porque habría un senador que sirva para dos meses y alguien nuevo que se haga cargo en enero. 

Esta carrera es entre tres candidatos de perfil alto: Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, y Adam Sciff. Todos los tres son actualmente miembros de la Cámara de Representantes y son muy conocidos por razones diferentes. Me siento indecisa entre votar por Lee o Porter, pero al final he decidido votar por Porter porque ¡estoy harta de estar gobernada por una gerontocracia! Tengo una cantidad enorme de respeto por Lee por ser la única miembro de la Cámara de Representantes en oponerse a la guerra en Afganistán y más. Creo que es una buena congresista. ¡Pero no me motiva votar por alguna persona que debería disfrutar su retiro! Además, no voto por Schiff porque él fue uno de los pocos demócratas que votó para apoyar la propuesta de los republicanos de dar $17.6 mil millones a Israel. ¡Deja de intentar darles dinero a ellos! La plataforma de Schiff dice que quiere financiar a la NASA y tener Medicare para todos. ¡No podemos hacer esto si damos literalmente mil millones a Israel para apoyar su genocidio!

Es probable que Porter sea mejor conocida por interrogar a representantes corporativos y mostrar una pizarra blanca mientras lo hace. Su campaña no acepta dinero de comités de acción política corporativos, lo que creo es genial porque significa que puede hacer a las corporaciones responsables en cambio de estar obligada a ellas. ¡Necesitamos su tenacidad en el senado! ¿Algo notable en su plataforma? Quiere prohibir a los miembros del congreso invertir en la Bolsa. Es completamente loco que miembros activos del congreso puedan intercambiar acciones. Sí, usar información privilegiada es ilegal. ¡No significa que no lo hagan! Es la clase de cosa que parece un cambio muy pequeño pero haría mucho para mejorar nuestro sistema político. 

Tengo que mencionar esto antes de continuar. No tiene relación con estos tres candidatos pero vi que el Secretario de Estado añadió este descargo de responsabilidad a la declaración de un candidato en particular. ¿Qué tan desquiciado tienes que estar para merecer esto?

Medidas presentadas a los votantes

Tenemos solo una propuesta estatal en la boleta esta vez. Honestamente me siento agradecida porque me cuesta mucho tiempo para investigar y escribir sobre todo esto. 

Propuesta 1


Mi voto: No

Este asunto es difícil porque mi instinto es siempre votar para financiar programas para ayudar a la gente. Sin embargo, no estoy convencida que esta propuesta ayude a alguien. Lo que las personas sin hogar necesitan son hogares. He seguido el Sacramento Homeless Union (Sindicato de Personas sin Hogar de Sacramento) en las redes sociales y un gran sentimiento es que no quieren estar forzados a participar en estos programas para acceder a algunos servicios. Las personas solo necesitan lugares en que se puedan quedar. Es todo. Necesitan ayuda sin estar requeridas a rendir todos sus posesiones y superar muchas trabas. Sí, muchas personas necesitan varias terapias, pero las soluciones deben priorizar el alojamiento primero. ¡No hay suficientes hogares! ¡Las personas no pueden pagar la renta! Ya hay programas para ayudar a personas con el abuso de sustancias y la salud mental. Esta propuesta redistribuiría fondos locales de otros servicios para personas sin hogar a estas facilidades residenciales que ofrecen tratamiento para el drogodependencia. Disability Rights California se opone a la propuesta (página en español). Cal Matters nota que —el bono de $6.4 mil millones crearía hasta 4,350 hogares nuevos para las personas que necesitan servicios de salud mental y la adicción; 2,350 de lo que estaría reservado para los veteranos … en un estado con una población estimada de personas sin hogar de más de 180,000. No creo que sea la solución. Parece que Newsom quiere proyectar la apariencia de hacer algo. 

Posiciones locales

Es el punto en que es probable que nuestras boletas diverjan. Aún así me gusta compartir mi razonamiento. Si tienes una pregunta sobre una de tus candidaturas locales, ¡deja un comentario o ponte en contacto conmigo! Puedo ayudarte con tu boleta. 

Distrito 7 del Congreso

Mi voto: David Lee Mandel

No es que no me guste nuestra representante actual, Doris Matsui, pero parece que Mandel es mucho más progresista. Él demanda un cese al fuego en Gaza, quiere un sistema de salud de un solo pagador, y apoya la eliminación del colegio electoral. Además, Matsui no entregó una declaración para la guía oficial para votantes. Entiendo que es la incumbente, pero ¿no puede hacer el esfuerzo de escribir un poco explicando porque merece nuestros votos? Para mí, es irrespetuoso. También ella es otra congresista que ¡tiene un millón años de edad! Tiene 79 años ahora. Por favor, retírate y disfruta tu vida, te lo ruego.

Distrito 10 de la Asamblea

Mi voto: Stephanie Nguyen

Mira, no voy a votar por ningún republicano entonces por supuesto voto por Nguyen, la única otra candidata en la carrera para el distrito 10. El candidato republicano ¡no publicó una declaración en la guía. ¡Qué perezoso! Nguyen es la incumbente aquí y parece que ha hecho bastante bien hasta ahora. Parece ser una simpatizante de la polícia y los negocios más de lo que me gustaría, pero podría ser peor. 

Juez de la oficina número 21 de la Corte Superior

Mi voto: Noel Andrew Calvillo

Siempre requiere algún esfuerzo para determinar quiénes son los candidatos judiciales porque estos cargos son apartidistas (no tienen afiliación con un partido político) y los jueces no publican una plataforma como los legisladores aspirantes lo hacen. Tenemos que juzgarlos con base en su trasfondo y quién los respalda. Mi selección inicial era Amy Holliday por la razón que es la única persona que tiene una declaración en la guía para votantes. Sin embargo, ella es actualmente la fiscal de distrito para el Condado de Sacramento y la mitad de sus apoyos en su sitio web vienen de grupos policiales. No me gusta. Creo que Calvillo es la mejor opción. Parece que ha hecho muy buen trabajo y tiene apoyo de personas reales (no solo policías).

Junta de Educación del Condado de Sacramento

Mi voto: Heather Davis

Davis es la incumbente en este cargo y ha servido en la Junta de Educación del Condado desde su elección en 2016. No pude encontrar ninguna información sobre su oponente, Shazleen Khan, quien no proveyó ninguna declaración y ni respondió a la prensa local. Es super básico pero si intentas presentarte como candidato, tienes que tener un sitio web o una página de facebook al menos. Entonces, supongo que votaré por Davis. 

¡Comparte esta guía!

¡Has llegado al final! Te aliento a compartir esta guía si la encontraste útil. Por favor deja un comentario si crees que olvidé algo importante. ¡Gracias por votar!

Voter Guide: March 5, 2024 California Primary Election

Hello, friends and enemies! It’s election season again. In California, midterm elections are on March 5, but you should get a ballot in the mail in early February, if you haven’t already. Remember that you can vote by mail or in person.

¿Buscas la versión en español? Está aquí.

Reminders and Resources for California Voters

Disclaimer: I am not an expert on politics or government. I’m just a person who’s good at reading and looking things up. If you trust my judgment, you can vote how I vote. You can also use my guide as a starting point for your own research.

Quick Reference

This table summarizes how I’m planning to vote in this election. I explain my choices below!

Position/PropositionMy Vote
President of the United StatesClaudia de la Cruz
Senator – Full TermKatie Porter
Senator – Partial TermKatie Porter
Proposition 1No
Congressional District 7David Lee Mandel
Assembly District 10Stephanie Nguyen
Judge of the Superior Court Office No. 21Noel Andrew Calvillo
Sacramento County Board of Education, Governing Board Member, Trustee Area 6Heather Davis

Party-nominated offices

California has an “open” primary thanks to the Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act. This means that you are not restricted to voting for candidates for the political party you belong to. The two candidates with the most votes—regardless of party affiliation—will face off in the general election in November. That means we can have, for example, two Democratic candidates running for the same senate seat, rather than one candidate from each party.

However, this does not apply to voting for president. You must have a party preference listed to be able to vote in the presidential party. If you’re a registered Democrat, you’re restricted to choosing from among the Democratic candidates when voting for president. I am registered for the Peace and Freedom party, so my ballot only has their candidates (Cornell West, Jasmine Sherman, and Claudia de la Cruz) available for me to vote for.

I want to note here that the primary elections are the time to vote with your heart. Vote for the candidate you feel strongly about even if you don’t think their chances are good in November. Don’t preemptively pick a worse candidate. We’ll have plenty of chances for lesser-of-two-evils voting in November.

President of the United States

My vote: Claudia de la Cruz

Of the Peace and Freedom party candidates, I think Claudia de la Cruz has the platform I most resonate with and the level of organization possible to make it in the general election, or at least to create a strong coalition and movement. If you’re feeling disillusioned with Biden and the rest of the Democratic candidates right now, I highly recommend taking a look at de la Cruz’s website. I think you will be pleasantly surprised to hear a candidate calling for slashing the military’s budget and nationalizing fossil fuel corporations.

Most of you are probably agonizing over the choice for the democratic candidate (though let me remind you that you can change your party preference and get a new ballot at any point! Use the same-day voter registration form to do so anytime from February 20 through the election itself on March 5). The list of candidates on the ballot probably seems random and that’s because the Democratic Party is only backing Joe Biden for this election. The other two national contenders are Marianne Williamson and Dean Phillips. Williamson is a nut. There’s a whole episode of the Maintenance Phase podcast dedicated to how bonkers she is. Do not vote for this woman. Dean Phillips seems fine to me. He’s a congressman from Minnesota who apparently founded a gelato company of all things? I don’t know. We could do worse I suppose.

So, Joe Biden. I know a lot of us are in the uncomfortable position of really not liking the same guy conservatives have been hating for the last few years (albeit for completely different reasons). It’s hard to want to vote for a president who is 81 years old and is, at best, showing the early signs of dementia. I don’t think it’s wrong to want a president who is younger and mentally agile enough to do the job! Biden has done some good stuff as president. We got the American Rescue Plan act and money for infrastructure. However, I know for a lot of us that his unwavering support of Israel in spite of the mounting death toll is a huge deal breaker. I don’t want a president who is supporting a genocide. I also want to note it’s not merely my opinion that this is a genocide, the International Court of Justice, in response to South Africa’s suit against Israel, says that Israel does seem to be committing some genocidal acts (page 4 of the linked PDF). I legitimately don’t know if I have it in me to vote for Biden in the November election, even knowing that Biden losing will probably mean Trump winning (which will be a fucking nightmare by the way). The Democrats need to grow a spine and pick a better candidate. We need more than two political parties in this country. I don’t know if any of that will get resolved before November and I’m sorry I can’t bring you better or more definitive voting advice.

Voter-nominated Offices

United States Senate: Full Term and Partial/Unexpired Term

My vote: Katie Porter

This is confusing and it took me a little while to figure out what’s going on with having the full term and partial term senate seats on the ballot. Both of these votes are for the same position. One of our California senators is Alex Padilla who will serve until 2029. We are voting to fill Diane Feinstein’s position. After her death last year, Governor Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler to her seat. Butler is not seeking election to the Senate. Voting for the Partial/Unexpired Term is picking a senator to finish the rest of Feinstein’s original senate term, which ends in January 2025. The Full Term position is our regularly scheduled senate election for the term starting in 2025. You could vote for different people for each of these positions, but that would not be super helpful because you’d have a senator coming in for two months then a new senator taking over in January.

This race is really between three high-profile candidates: Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff. All three are currently serving in the House of Representatives and are very well known for different reasons. I am torn between Lee and Porter but am ultimately voting for Porter because I am just fucking tired of being governed by a gerontocracy. I have a huge amount of respect for Lee for being the only member of congress to vote against going to war in Afghanistan. I think she is a great legislator. I just can’t bring myself to vote for another person who should be enjoying their retirement. I am not voting for Schiff because he was one of the very few Democrats to vote to support the Republican’s standalone bill to give Israel $17.6 billion. Stop trying to give them money! Schiff’s platform says he wants to fund NASA and have Medicare for all. We can’t do that if we give literal billions to Israel to support their genocide.

Porter is probably best known for grilling corporate representatives and holding up whiteboards while doing it. Her campaign is not taking money from corporate political action committees, which I think is great because that means she can hold corporations accountable instead of being beholden to them. We need her tenacity in the senate. Something notable in her platform? Banning members of congress from trading stocks! It’s completely insane that sitting members of congress can trade stocks. Yes, insider trading is illegal. That doesn’t mean they’re not doing it! This is the kind of thing that seems like a small change but would do so much to improve our political system.

I have to add this note before we move on. This isn’t about these three candidates but I saw that the Secretary of State added a disclaimer to one particular candidate’s statement. You have to be very off the rails for the SOS to do this.

Measures Submitted to the Voters

We have just one statewide proposition on the ballot this time. Honestly, I’m thankful because it takes a lot of time to read up and write about these things.

Proposition 1


My vote: No

This is another hard one because my gut feeling is to always vote to fund programs to help people. However, I am not convinced that this proposition would actually help anyone. What unhoused people need is housing. I have been following the Sacramento Homeless Union online and a big sentiment is they don’t want to have to be forced to go through these programs to get access to any services. People just need places to stay. That’s it. They need help without having to give up all their possessions and jump through a bunch of hoops. Yes, a lot of people do need various therapies, but solutions should prioritize housing first. There aren’t enough places to live! People can’t afford rent! There are already programs in place for helping people with substance abuse and mental health. This proposition would reallocate local funds from other services for unhoused people to these residential facilities with substance treatment. Disability Rights California opposes the proposition. Cal Matters notes that “the $6.4 billion bond would create up to 4,350 new homes for people who need mental health and addiction services — 2,350 of which would be reserved for veterans … in a state with an estimated homeless population of more than 180,000.” It doesn’t seem like this is the answer. It seems like Newsom just wants to seem like he’s doing something.

Local Races

This is where our ballots probably diverge. I still like to share my thought process even if these elections aren’t relevant to most of you. If you have a question about one of your local races, leave a comment or contact me! I’m happy to help you figure out your ballot.

Congressional District 7

My vote: David Lee Mandel

I don’t dislike our current representative, Doris Matsui, but Mandel sounds like he is a lot more progressive. He is calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, wants single-payer healthcare, and supports getting rid of the Electoral College. Also, Matsui didn’t even submit a statement to put in the voter guide. I get that she’s the incumbent, but she can’t bother to write a little something about why we should vote for her? That feels disrespectful to me. Also, she’s another legislator that’s a million years old! She’s 79 right now. Please retire and enjoy your life, I beg you.

Assembly District 10

My vote: Stephanie Nguyen

Look, I’m not voting for a Republican so of course I’m voting for Nguyen, the only other person running in District 10. The Republican candidate didn’t even publish a statement in the voter guide. So lazy! Nguyen is the incumbent here and it seems like she’s done a decent job so far. She seems more pro-police and pro-business interests for my tastes, but we could certainly do worse.

Judge of the Superior Court Office No. 21

My vote: Noel Andrew Calvillo

It always takes a little work to figure out who the judicial candidates are because these are nonpartisan offices (not affiliated with a political party) and judges don’t put out a platform like prospective legislators do. We have to judge them on their background and who endorses them. My initial choice was Amy Holliday because she’s the only person who has a statement in the voter guide. However, she is currently the district attorney for Sacramento County and half the endorsements on her website are from police groups. I don’t like that. I think Calvillo is our best choice. It sounds like he has done a lot of good work and he has endorsements from actual people (not just police).

Sacramento County Board of Education, Governing Board Member, Trustee Area 6

My vote: Heather Davis

Davis is the incumbent in this position and has been on the County Board of Education since she was elected in 2016. I couldn’t find any information about her opponent, Shazleen Khan. She didn’t provide a candidate statement or respond to local news outlets. This sounds super basic, but if you’re going to run for office, you at least have to have a website or a facebook page or something. So, I guess I’m voting Davis.

Share This Post!

You made it to the end! I invite you to share this post if you found it useful. Please leave a comment if you think I missed something important. Thanks for voting!

Two Weeks in the Life: February 3, 2024

Hello, friends and enemies. I’m publishing slightly early this week. I wrote most of this post on Thursday because I had no idea how lucid I was going to feel on Sunday, when I normally write my posts. I got my liver biopsied yesterday because my doctor is trying to find out how dire my fatty liver really is. I was supposed to go for the biopsy on Wednesday, but I got a call from the hospital at the last minute that morning telling me they needed to reschedule for “staffing issues” (I assume everyone got covid and called in sick). This was very annoying because I just wanted the damn thing over with and I had oriented my whole week around dealing with this. Kirk and I both ended up working on Wednesday instead.

Getting the biopsy was way less terrible than I thought it might be. I had been informed that it’s a routine procedure and not that bad but it’s just hard to imagine that getting a needle directly into an organ to take a sample like those scientists extracting ice cores in Antarctica is going to be anything other than horrific. The procedure itself only takes about five minutes, though I did have to spend a few hours at the hospital between getting ready and then being monitored afterwards to make sure nothing bad happened. I also thought I would be fully knocked out for the procedure since they told me I would be under sedation, but they actually just gave me enough to feel a little goofy while staying conscious. The doctor said it would feel like “two margaritas.” I did feel a little out of it afterwards, but not enough to prevent me from reading a book while I was waiting around to be discharged. The doctor also told me I could “resume normal activities” the next day, which of course had me asking “what constitutes normal activities?” I don’t think you can tell someone to resume normal activities if you don’t know what those are. I ended up getting some more details from my nurse (who was really nice and attentive through the whole process). I said normally on Saturday I have an hour-and-a-half ballet class. He said maybe do thirty minutes and stay hydrated. I am going to rest for at least a few days and see how I feel but I do think it’s silly that the doctor is like “yeah go back to normal.” How do you know I’m not planning to pull a truck tomorrow, my guy?

I am feeling okay today, considering, a little sore and a bit tired. Kirk has announced he will be handling all household tasks for a couple of days so I am planning to take it very easy and make sure I don’t aggravate anything.

Books and Other Words

Yellowface by R. F. Kuang really had me hooked. I finished it in one day. The story follows Juniper “June” Hayward, a 20-something author with one book that almost nobody read and had zero cultural impact. June is deeply insecure and jealous of her successful author friend Athena Liu. When Athena suddenly dies, June steals her freshly printed first draft novel about Chinese laborers in World War I and, in a series of increasingly insane justifications, publishes the book as her own under the name Juniper Song (Song being June’s middle name bestowed by her former-hippie mother). This book had me practically screaming at June’s audacity. She is the picture of an apparently liberal white woman who is, in fact, constantly belittling all the people of color she comes in contact with. She is fueled by jealousy over the “unfairness” of Athena’s riotously successful career. I’ve read several of Kuang’s novels so far and really loved the last one, Babel: An Arcane History. Yellowface is a very different novel but still has a strong affinity with her previous work through the theme of “white supremacy and colonialism can go fuck themselves.” Highly recommended.

Sex with a Brain Injury: On Concussion and Recovery is by Annie Liontas, who I don’t know personally but who is good friends with my good friend Lito (and they host the LitFriends podcast together) so I feel like we are almost friends. And if we weren’t (almost) friends before, I feel like I know Liontas a lot after this book, which is so vulnerable. The work is a window to what it’s like to recover from a traumatic brain injury. Liontas combines her own experience with research, which shows, among other things, that people who get a TBI have a high risk of getting a second (and then a third, a fourth, perhaps a fifth) TBI, complicating the recovery process. Sex with a Brain Injury emphasizes the feeling of otherness that having a TBI brings, a sense of being outside the body or that someone else has taken over your life and you’re just riding along. I was surprised at how much overlap there is between this and what it can feel like to be autistic (because I gotta make everything about autism). The experience of being overwhelmed by stimuli, needing routine, getting emotional without knowing why—that all overlaps with the autistic experience. Liontas also talks a little about going to vision therapy as part of her treatment process and I laughed when I realized she was describing the exact same activities and 1990s-looking computer program that I used to treat my wonky eyesight. It is weird how delicate the brain is and that there are multiple issues that can lead to the same problems with navigating the world. We’re all walking the neurological tight rope one misstep away from infinite migraines.

Fugitive Telemetry is the penultimate book in Martha Well’s Murderbot series (so far) and System Collapse is the most recent installment. I have said a lot about Murderbot already here while re-reading the previous five stories, but I will say again that I love Murderbot and find the character endearing. AI, robots, what have you are always fictional stand-ins for discussions of what it means to be a person. System Collapse in particular focuses on the question of trauma and how not dealing with it can affect us bodily (but, you know, told through the medium of a sarcastic human-bot construct named Murderbot). I think it was a good entry in the series and I hope Wells keeps writing these stories because I always enjoy them.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • World Court orders Israel to prevent genocide—but falls short of demanding end to Gaza war via the Los Angeles Times. South Africa sued Israel in the International Court of Justice to try to get them to stop committing genocide against Palestinians and requested that the Court immediately order Israel to “halt its military campaign until the case is decided.” The ICJ is letting the case continue and has told Israel they have to let humanitarian aid through. I know I’ve written a little about the situation in Palestine a little so far but I just don’t know how to express how horrific it seems. I hate that the United States is bankrolling a genocide. Israel has killed over 26,000 people since October. They have no water. There are no more hospitals left in Gaza. It’s atrocious.
  • Trump and allies forge plans to increase presidential power in 2025 via The New York Times. The damage a second Trump term would cause really cannot be overstated. Some will think this sounds hysterical, but if Trump wins the election, we may never have another one. I mean, “Personal power has always been a driving force for Mr. Trump. He often gestures toward it in a more simplistic manner, such as in 2019, when he declared to a cheering crowd, ‘I have an Article 2, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president.'” This is a man who wants to be a dictator and there are enough rogues supporting him to make it happen. We’re already living with the consequences of his presidency. For just one example, I ran across this study this week: rape-related pregnancies in the 14 US states with total abortion violence. The research found that, “In the 14 states that implemented total abortion bans following the Dobbs decision, we estimated that 519,981 completed rapes were associated with 64,565 pregnancies during the 4 to 18 months that bans were in effect.” And this is just ONE THING Trump fucked up for us. We have seen enough.
  • Half of recent US inflation due to high corporate profits, report finds via The Guardian. From the article, “corporate profits accounted for about 53% of inflation during last year’s second and third quarters. Profits drove just 11% of price growth in the 40 years prior to the pandemic.” It would be one thing if prices went up so employees could be paid fairly, but no, this is a blatant cash grab for people at the top.
  • How Boeing ruined the JetBlue-Spirit merger via The American Prospect. Look, I’m not that interested in plane news but, uh, did you know they are running out of planes? Boeing “has delayed all new orders until 2029.” This does not inspire confidence in air travel as a system. Can we get a robust rail network now or what?
  • The self-checkout nightmare may finally be ending via Gizmodo. Self-checkout! Everyone hates it! Stores are losing money because it’s easy to steal both accidentally and on purpose! Could corporations finally be learning that sometimes you just have to pay people to do a job instead of laying off as many people as possible?
  • Abby R on The Moth Story Slam via YouTube. My wonderful friend Abby is hilarious and a genius and tells a damn good story. Someone needs to set her up with a Netflix special already.

TV and Music

Kirk and I have now watched all four seasons of For All Mankind on Apple TV. The premise of the show is that the Russians beat the U.S. to landing on the moon. This pisses the U.S. off and motivates a lot of investment in the space program, culminating in sending a team to Mars in 2003! It is both cool and depressing to see a dispatch from an alternate timeline (Al Gore became president in 2000! I fucking wish!!). I love that for them. I hope they enjoy their fancy technology that came from investing in scientific advancement. The episodes are long, about an hour each, and there is a lot of juicy interpersonal drama to keep the show moving amid the space stuff. It’s not the greatest show I’ve ever seen but it was entertaining enough to watch and made us yell at the TV a lot about how jealous we were of the characters.

Rampant Consumerism

This is something that is kind of the opposite of consumerism, but I did spend money so I’m putting it here. I was reading a tumblr post about setting up programs that block ads. Not just ads on your web browser, but stopping ads at the source, before they load. This person found that 60% of the web traffic they were getting was from ads. Isn’t that insane? You’re just paying to get the ads piped directly to you. I fucking hate ads. Advertising is fundamentally opposed to who I am as a person so I was surprised and delighted to learn you can actually buy a program that stops the ads an the trackers. I’ve been using AdGuard Home for the last few days and it seems great so far. I had to laugh when I clicked on a Yahoo article and it prompted me to “enhance your Yahoo experience by allowing us to share and sell your personal information.” Really? That enhances my experience? Fuck off, for real. I also installed AdGuard on my phone, which you cannot do through the App/Play stores because blocking ads and tracking is antithetical to the business model of smartphones. The phone version of the program keeps a running tally of the data it’s saved by blocking all this shit. I saved 2 gigabytes of data over about 48 hours. What the fuck? So, a hearty recommendation for this product. Join the biggest boycott in history! Block your ads!


I’ve had Arabic on my mind all month. A friend asked me to recommend some resources to start learning it and my embarrassingly influenceable mind was like “hell yeah, we should learn some Arabic.” To my credit, I’m not wrong. I should learn some Arabic. I got a whole bachelor’s degree in Arabic and basically all I can say is “I studied Arabic in college but forgot everything” and “I am a UN translator” (shout out to textbook videos that stay with you forever). The language feels like unfinished business for me. I don’t need anything more to do (lol. lmao even.) but I did start studying just a little Arabic (as a treat) on the Lingq and Drops apps. It’s surprising how being reminded of even a few words has awoken a whole network of information in my mind. Running into the word for “week” immediately had me remembering how to say “next week” and “last week,” for example. It is nice that I already know how to read, and I mean that in the literal sense of I can read the Arabic script, so it doesn’t feel as hard to drop in on studying this language again. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up Icelandic or Spanish (quite the opposite), but if I don’t get to study everything I feel like studying, I will die.

Kitchen Witchery

I’ve still been working on incorporating the recommendations from my dietician into what I’m eating and to that end I tried two new bread recipes: back-of-the-bag oatmeal bread and no-knead oat bread. Oats are a whole grain! Both were quite good. I really liked the “back of the bag” loaf. The no-knead bread was good but to be honest I think it needs to be a some-knead bread. I also should have let it rise a little more because my house was cold but I was like let’s get this show on the road and baked it anyway. It still came out respectably though; I’m not mad at it. I am also making more smoothies, which is honestly the most surprising thing to me. Smoothies can be good? Because I have no respect for made-up rules, I have tried adding some ice cream to my smoothies, which was an excellent choice. If the goal is to eat fruit, adding a little ice cream to make it easier is definitely allowed. Encouraged, even. Ice cream or not, I never thought I would want to make smoothies. The dietician asked me to try one and I have been making them every other day because I’m actually feeling better having applied her suggestions. I don’t feel as constantly hungry as I normally would. She has definitely cracked some kind of code for me. Adding more omega-3, fruit, and whole grains to my diet is doing something good, even if it doesn’t help my liver (but I also really want it to help my liver). This is great for me but is also makes me so fucking mad that all I need was some fucking extra fiber in my diet and I feel better? A big “fuck you” to every doctor who has been like “I know you exercise, why are you still fat?” and “Try not drinking soda.” Have even a little curiosity about your patients, for fucks’ sake.

Anyway, I have made some regular food too. I tried some more Rancho Gordo bean recipes, of course. I made the Christmas limas with gorgonzola sauce, which was rich and delicious. I added a packet of gnocchi at the end to round out the dish, which is going to be a permanent addition to my version of this recipe. I also tried a snowcap chowder with sage, bacon and sweet potatoes (not pictured and, sorry, no link. Why did I even bring it up, right?). It was good but I think I added too much liquid and it would be better as just a bowl of food instead of a soup. Next time I might roast the sweet potatoes then pile it all together. Finally, I roasted a chicken (here’s the guide I use)! Because I can and it is actually very easy. I love that I can cook risotto in the Instant Pot. I don’t have to stand around stirring forever. Bless you, pressure cooker.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

Two Weeks in the Life: January 21, 2024

Hello, friends and enemies. The last two weeks have been busy. I’ve had a lot of appointments. I am taking many dance classes. I am trying to read my books and live my life. Oh yeah, and I have to work. On top of all that, we have noticed that the ice maker inside our refrigerator is leaking. We have had to turn it off to prevent further problems. Someone is supposed to come look at it this week and I am desperately hoping this doesn’t become a whole thing. We have barely recovered from the dishwasher saga. I have had to resort to making ice in ice trays again (first world problems, I know). This is a reminder to stay humble. Just when you think you’ve arrived in life, you’re back to making your own ice cubes.

Books and Other Words

Martha Well’s Network Effect is the fifth book in the Muderbot series and the first to be a full-length novel. What I like about this story in particular is we see Murderbot, a machine-human construct, figuring out what it means to be friends with another bot, the research vessel Perehelion (aka ART [Asshole Research Transport]). Seeing both Murderbot and ART ready to kill all humans on each other’s behalf just warms my heart.

The Future by Naomi Alderman was a really good read. This doesn’t surprise me. I liked her previous book, The Power, enough to write a whole post about it. The Future asks what it might take to improve the future. What would stop or slow global warming? What would reduce wealth inequality? What can anyone do about it? The Future is set in the near future and focuses on the people close to three tech billionaires who are running companies roughly analogous to Google, Facebook, and Amazon. The billionaires are obsessed with the idea that there will be some kind of apocalypse and only they will have the resources to weather it in safety, unlike the rest of us plebs. I don’t feel like I can really describe the plot without spoiling it, but I will say that it’s kind of a fictional distillation of the non-fiction books The Age of Surveillance Capitalism and The Big Nine, plus maybe Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media is a book published in 1988 that feels extremely relevant in today’s media climate. Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s argument is that the way the American media choose what to report on, and the framework they use in reporting, creates support for the United States government’s political agenda. There’s definitely a reason that this book is a classic in the genre. Even though this book is almost 40 years old, it felt completely relevant to the way, for example, that Israel’s war against the Palestinian people is being depicted in American news (just look at all the comments about how the media largely ignored South Africa’s opening arguments at the International Court of Justice). The book discusses several examples, including the Vietnam war, and elections in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and El Salvador and how the media covered these topics. The essence of Herman and Chomsky’s argument is that the media apply different frames of reporting to the United States’ enemies versus its friends. Elections in a friendly country are considered fair and citizens are seen as enthusiastic participants (even if, as in the El Salvador election, voting is compulsory and anyone who doesn’t vote may well be murdered by the state). Whereas elections in a country that is, say, flirting with socialism, are coercive, don’t have enough choice, and problematic for various reasons. The authors ultimately conclude that the press is supporting the agenda the wealthy and political elite rather than focusing on informing the public. They also note that, because news reporting is funded by advertising, advertisers themselves play an outsized role in what is allowed to appear in print. Herman and Chomsky are not arguing that this American media model is like what you would see in an authoritarian state—no one is getting disappeared for reporting on sensitive subjects—but the press selectively ignores some topics that don’t agree with the government/elite’s viewpoints. The antidote to this kind of media malaise? As usual, it’s up to use to educate ourselves and our communities. The good news is, with the internet, we have a lot of options for where we can get our news and it’s easy to find sources from other countries or independent outlets.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • I was told no one wants fat girls. Growing up, my body was a punch line via The Cut. This essay was a gut punch for me. There are a lot of poignant bits for me but this one really hurts, “the systematic derogation of certain bodies — ones that are fat, as well as trans, nonwhite, or disabled — leaves some of us vulnerable to additional harms. For one, we may consent to sexual and romantic relationships we don’t want out of a sense that we’re not entitled to say no, or that this is the best we can do.”
  • Fast-food giants overwork teenagers, driving America’s child labor crisis via The Washington Post (gift link). Yikes. “Child labor violations have more than tripled in the past 10 years, with violations in food service increasing almost sixfold.” Call me a radical socialist if you must, but I am against workplaces taking advantage of children.
  • Asking people to “do the research” on fake news stories makes them seem more believable, not less via Nieman Lab. Some researchers did a literature review of what happens when people attempt online “research” on news stories. The results found that this often entrenches incorrect information and fringe beliefs. Gang, I think our society is in real danger.
  • We need jungle [I’m afraid] via Venjent on YouTube. And now for something fun. Some British quiz show asked a question about electronic music and, when the contestant responded “drum and bass,” the host said “I can’t accept ‘drum and bass.’ We need ‘jungle’ I’m afraid.” This has, of course, spawned a bunch of jungle remixes. I find this hilarious.

Rampant Consumerism

I mentioned last time that I’d been having a lot of back pain while in bed and I ordered a new pillow about it. Now that it’s here and I’ve had the chance to use it, I gotta say, it’s great. My back does not hurt! I’m not rolling around all night like a gas station hot dog under the heat lamp! It’s a triangular pillow that goes under the thighs and gets the back into better alignment. Highly recommended! I also got a new pillow for my head and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it but the last few nights I have sunk into the bed and passed the fuck out so I guess it is working. For the curious, this is the pillow I bought.


On the recommendation of my Icelandic teacher I tried out a language-learning tool called lingq. I told him that this year I am really trying to get out of the intermediate slump and he thought this might help. So far, I’m into it. It has texts and, as you’re reading, you can click on any word to see the definition then mark the word on a scale from known to unknown, then the app quizzes you on the words later. You can also add your own texts, so you can use it to read articles online or ebooks (if you have a format you can upload) or whatever. I think this is going to be really good for me. It seems like a good intermediate tool. I definitely would not use this for my Spanish, since I can already read books with minimal assistance. I think it would be a little overwhelming for a true beginner, but it’s working great for me for Icelandic right now.

Corporeal Form

I’ve had a whole bunch of appointments in the last two weeks and I did learn a few things. I shall start with the most annoying. Note, if you are sensitive to any discussion related to eating disorders, please skip the next paragraph.

My gastroenterologist referred me to one of Kaiser’s “wellness coaches,” which I did not think was going to be useful but I’m trying to keep an open mind and avoid being seen as a difficult patient. This appointment lasted all of ten minutes, which does not seem to me like enough time to do much of anything. The woman asked me very few questions. One was “how often do you eat.” I told her I try to eat when I’m hungry and she responded to that with “sometimes we shouldn’t eat when we’re hungry.” Red flag! If you want someone to develop/reacquaint themselves with an eating disorder, that seems like great advice to get you there. I’ve spent years trying to learn to listen to my body so this actively made me angry. She also asked if I had tried to lose weight before and I said yes but I always plateau after maybe losing 30 pounds. Her advice was that sometimes to get through a plateau, we just have to eat even less. Which … jesus christ. Other than “don’t eat,” her main advice was that half of what I eat should be vegetables, which sounds great in theory but very challenging in practice. I asked how to eat half a plate of vegetables for breakfast and she suggested putting them in an omelette. I am a committed egg-hater, so I said that advice will not work for me. At this point, she changed the subject and asked if I’d like to try weight-loss drugs. I said no because I have osteopenia and these drugs are bad for your bone density. I’d rather be fat and have bones. Anyway, she wrapped things up pretty quickly after that.

I had not one but two fibroscans, which measure the fattiness and the fibrosis of the liver. The first was at Kaiser and the second was through a study. I thought the study was paying me a lot more than the $25 I got, but I guess I misread the website and there is more money that you can get with doing some more activities over time. In any case, the first scan at Kaiser showed that my fibrosis score was 42 kilopascals—a normal liver is not over 7—but the second scan was only 27 kilopascals. Unfortunately, either score is in the “you are in the worst stage of fibrosis” category, but that is still a really big difference. My doctor said that, for fat people, this test is often unreliable and inflates the severity of the fibrosis, so she wants me to get a liver biopsy to find out what’s really going on. I’m going to do it but I’m annoyed because, no matter what the results are, the doctor’s only advice is to lose weight.

I met with the physical therapist who I saw last year for my shitty knees. Since getting the abdominal ultrasound to find out if I have fatty liver and learning more about my organs, I—and I know this sounds a little wacky—have noticed my spleen (yes, my enlarged spleen) is kind of hurting. So, I emailed my PT like “am I crazy and also can you help?” Because she is extremely cool and smart, she said I am not crazy and there are some things we can try. She gave me a couple of activities that I can do to very gently massage my torso and some stretchy kind of things to open up my chest. We also talked about referred pain, which is when pain from internal organs can cause ouchiness (technical term lol) in other parts of the body. Apparently liver issues can cause shoulder pain? So wild.

Finally I had a full intake appointment with my new dietician, Jackie. I will just say: she is great. She is the only person who has told me that there are some specific things I can do for my liver. She scoffed when I told her all the doctor advised me to do is lose weight. She asked me a ton of questions about what kind of stuff I eat, when, and who I eat with, what I hate, what other medical conditions I’m worried about, etc. She gave me a few recommendations to start with and we’re going to meet again in a few weeks to see how it’s going and add more things to try out. First, it seems like getting omega-3 fatty acids is good for the liver. Unfortunately for me, one of the best sources of omega-3 is fish, which I cannot eat because it makes me sick. Jackie has me trying out adding a tablespoon of flax meal to my oatmeal in the morning to get omega-3 instead, which is pretty easy. I also ordered some of the non-fish-based omega-3 supplements. Second, as many of you know (probably from reading my blog and seeing what I cook), I’m also not a big fan of fruit, mostly for texture reasons. So one of my other dietician homework tasks was to try making a smoothie to get some fruit in my diet. I still don’t love fruit but it wasn’t that bad and if this is all I have to do to improve my liver health, I am not going to complain (very much). Finally, I am supposed to try adding some more whole grains to my diet. Jackie suggested getting whole grain pasta, which I may yet, try, but I made a mostly whole-grain bread recipe this week and it was really good. So, I think all this stuff is pretty doable. As with most things in this life, I just needed someone to give me a little direction and now I can run with it.

Kitchen Witchery

I looked back at my photos and apparently I cooked a lot of new stuff in the last two weeks! I like having oatmeal for breakfast but do not like making breakfast every day, so I tried this spiced Irish oatmeal with cream and crunchy sugar recipe (reminder, you can get access NYT Food through the Sacramento Public Library [and probably other libraries]). I added some pecans because that’s how I like to live. I also used this as a vehicle for the flax meal the dietician suggested and that worked very well. I tried making a smoothie and it was not as horrible as it might have been. I know this sounds weird but I just don’t like drinking not-water things very much. It feels like a lot of work to me. It probably took me at least 30 minutes of concentrated effort to finish this smoothie. I also don’t usually love smoothies because they insist on being full of banana, which I genuinely think tastes bad. This one was good though and I managed to avoid the dreaded banana. I used this recipe as a base and went with a frozen fruit blend of pineapple, mango, and coconut then blended it with some oat milk, yogurt, and a bit of almonds. This is not going to become a smoothie blog (lmao can you imagine), but I am writing about this one. I also made a maple-walnut oat bread (but I used pecans because I was out of walnuts) to try to get some more whole grains. This was a really good bread! Again, if this is what it takes to make my liver a little better, it’s not so bad.

Kirk and I both really liked this winter squash and rice soup topped with bacon and we enjoyed another variation on lentils and farro: french onion baked lentils and farro. You can probably add cheese and caramelized onions to almost anything and it will be good, so this one isn’t really surprising. I tried out a bean recipe served with some cheesy polenta, roughly based on one of the Rancho Gordo bean club recipes. Kirk told me he doesn’t like polenta, but he was willing to try it. I guess his past experiences with polenta were bad, but he liked what I made. I have also converted him to lentils and Indian food, so whenever he says he doesn’t like something (which is rare!) I like to take it as a challenge. Because I am a menace.

I also tried out a few simple desserts. We had this oat milk chocolate pudding, which was good. Regular pudding with milk doesn’t sit great with me so I was happy to find this oat milk alternative. I got the Snacking Bakes cookbook from the library, which is the followup to the beloved Snacking Cakes. I tried the loaded chocolate chip cookie bars and the glazed cookie butter cookie bars. Both are great! The chocolate chip cookie bars did not last long in our house. I love making bars because you get all the joy of cookies without having to take things in and out of the oven for 45 minutes.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. I know I have previously mentioned Huey’s love of drinking shower water. Here she is with her wet little face after vigorously shoving her face into my shower.

Two Weeks in the Life: January 7, 2024

Hello, friends and enemies. It’s been kind of a rough week, not because the holidays are over (happy new year, by the way!) but just dealing with being alive is a lot sometimes. My lower back has been absolutely killing me when I’m sleeping at night, to the point that I was up in pain at 5:30 yesterday morning and could not go back to sleep. In my fugue state I read online that sometimes you need a new pillow configuration to encourage the spine into alignment. So, I ordered a bougie pillow to put under my knees and a new pillow for the normal place and we shall see if this helps. Last night I put a regular pillow under my knees and that helped a little, fortunately. It seems really unfair that bed is now a source of discomfort. This is the ultimate betrayal (bed-trayal?). I kind of have enough going on without not being able to sleep.

Books and Other Words

Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind by Molly McGhee is about as bleak as possible while maintaining a dissonantly cheerful tone. That is to say, this is a very millennial novel. Jonathan Abernathy, known to most as just Abernathy, takes a job for the dream archive. When he sleeps, he reports to work. He identifies stressful motifs in other peoples’ dreams and directs his boss to vacuum them up. This work is pitched as a way to help America’s professional-managerial class stay productive at work, untroubled by nightmares. Abernathy has over $100,000 in student loan debt, his parents are dead, he rents a tiny room and can’t pay his bills. But he tells himself “You are kind. You are a pillar in your community,” and other feel-good mantras to try to get through the day, but ultimately he is hapless and a little naive. He just wants to pay his bills and have money to eat. He is complicit in various horrors. This indictment of modern life made me sad but in a good way.

Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan is the sequel to Daughter of the Moon Goddess, which I read last summer. Overall I liked the book, but the things that annoyed me a little about the characters in the first book were more annoying in this second book. I’m sorry, but a love triangle with two princes is just going to get old for me. Also, this is as good a chance as I’ll get to share this really amazing analysis of how the “good guy/bad boy love triangle” is a way to take a character through the hero’s journey. So please enjoy the fruits of my wanderings on tumblr.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

  • Both Joyful and Killjoy, From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy. In this essay, Kennedy moves from thinking about grief to how she finds meaning in her corner of the world. What stuck with me here was this, “it is the job of those of us who are obsessed to make its realities, painful or joyful, apparent to those who don’t. It is our work to seek ways of making the necessary engagement with the food system by all people, who all eat, less of an ethical conundrum.” She’s talking here about being an expert in food, but I love this sentiment and it resonates deeply with me. We can’t all be experts in everything, but it is our responsibility to translate the things we are obsessed with to help others.
  • How will California’s new laws affect you? Via the Los Angeles Times. New year, new laws! California is up to a $16 minimum wage, workers are guaranteed at least five sick days, and we now have “reproductive bereavement leave” for dealing with grief after miscarriages and other family-planning woes.
  • Eight predictions for 2024 via Read Max. I’m mostly sharing this for the prediction that “internet atheist culture will have a revival.” I find it funny because I did really appreciate internet atheist blogs in the early 2000s, which gave me a lot of perspective as a young adult after I quit Mormonism. Although that niche of the internet was, ultimately, problematic.
  • Dunkey’s guide to streaming services via videogamedunkey on YouTube. It do be like that. @_@

TV and Music

One of my favorite end-of-year things is the Best of Bootie mashup album. Bootie is a group that throws dance parties featuring mashups—tracks spliced together from two or more songs—and they release a best-of album every December. I love mashups because I get to enjoy songs in new and surprising (and often deeply funny) ways. They also get me listening to songs I wouldn’t otherwise care about (for example, mashups are the only way I will experience Taylor Swift lol). I applaud the mad genius who put ABBA and Rage Against the Machine together in one song for this year’s album.

Corporeal Form

I went to the doctor this week to discuss the fatty liver diagnosis (can’t this condition have a better name? I know steatotic liver disease is an option, but no one knows what I mean if I say that). She confirmed what I had learned online, which is the only thing for me to do is lose weight. I have agreed to see a kaiser “wellness coach,” for whatever that will be worth. I’m assuming they’re going to tell me to eat less and move more and I’m gonna be like “kay.” I am slated to get a fibroscan of my liver this week to see how bad my liver is. However, the doctor said that this test often inflates the severity of the liver fibrosis in scans of fat people, so if the results are bad, I will need to get a liver biopsy, which sounds scary to me (giant needle poking in to the liver) but is, apparently, routine. I asked the doctor what the point of knowing is and she said that, if the liver disease is more advanced, doctors may refuse to perform operations due to the increased risk. I don’t have any operations lined up but it is important to know that there are consequences.

I polled my friends and scoured the internet this week in search of a nutritionist who might actually know something and be able to help me specifically. I wanted someone who knows about autism because I don’t need someone being like “eat eggs in the morning” and then me having to explain that I simply cannot eat them because they are icky to me for texture reasons and then getting gaslit about it. I am feeling pretty lucky because I found Jackie Silver nutrition. She works with autistic/neurodiverse people and disabled people. I had a consultation with her in which she asked what my food aversions are, which was pleasantly surprising. I told her that I know there’s not really evidence of any effective weight loss methods and I have been doing the work of being comfortable with myself yet my doctor said the only thing I can do is lose weight (although one of my friends quipped that maybe I should chop off a hand to drop the pounds since the doctor didn’t clarify that I should lose fat specifically) and I recognize that it sucks to approach a weight-neutral dietician with this problem but I need someone who gets it. Jackie said she would do some research but she is pretty sure there are dietary adjustments I can make that will help my liver be healthy even if I don’t lose weight, which made me feel a little better. So, I am going to work with her and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Moving It

Something exciting is I’m going to start taking a pre-pointe class this week! This is a step in learning how to dance en pointe in ballet. I actually had to adjust my work schedule a little bit because the class is early in the afternoon (because it’s full of youths). I am looking forward to learning something new and trying it out even though it’s probably going to be a very physically uncomfortable process.

Kitchen Witchery

I decided to have another go at making ravioli because I had a lot filling leftover from the batch I made at Christmas and I felt like I had it in me to do a better job. I did roll out a thinner dough and shape some good-looking raviolis, but I was defeated by my own foolishness. I stacked all the fresh pasta together while I was shaping the raviolis, and they of course stuck together in a big clump. I cooked it anyway and that resulted in an even worse clump. I did eat it for dinner all the same but I was fairly irritated about it all. I also attempted a ginger bread house, on the request of my niece who expressed a wish to decorate one, which was not structurally sound. Fortunately, it’s all the same to a four year old if you provide enough sprinkles and M&Ms to decorate with (and eat). I gotta share the failures to remind you all that I am just a human person like you.

For new year’s eve, I made this delicious garlic and herb sun bread. It reminds me of the breadsticks they have at Round Table Pizza, and I love those things. I also made some very good pizza (here’s the dough recipe I use). I did a pepperoni and onion, then a half cheese/half olive and roasted garlic because I had roasted garlic leftover from making the sun bread. On new year’s day, I made black-eyed peas and rice. Rancho Gordo always sends a “lucky” bag of black-eyed peas in their last bean club shipment of the year because it’s a southern tradition to cook them for good luck in the new year. It’s not necessarily a part of my belief system, but we did really like the beans. I followed this lobia masala recipe to make what is, essentially, a bean curry (although I know the photo doesn’t look like much, they were very good!). For a weeknight dinner, I made a version of this tortellini soup recipe. I like the recipe but I don’t always want it in soup form, so I reduce the liquid and I add some linguica because I can.

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Fritz will not stop biting and ripping up cardboard and paper. I don’t know what his deal is but don’t let him fool you into thinking we’re neglecting him.