A Week in the Life: January 17, 2020

I had another week of feeling messed up, but today I am feeling a lot better. It has been hard to motivate or be interested in things lately. Yesterday I had some clarity and realized that, of course, these are signs of depression (and that brains are dumb). After talking this out with Kirk and some of my friends, and going to roller derby practice last night, I’m feeling significantly better. I think part of the answer was just identifying the problem and articulating my feelings (spoiler: everything feels pointless because of climate anxiety). The other part is that it seems like I need a high level of activity to keep my brain chemistry in check. Plus, since I work from home, derby is my main social outlet. As exhausting as it can be to interact with people, it seems to be necessary.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

book: Betraying Big Brother, the Feminist Awakening in China
Betraying Big Brother: the Feminist Awakening in China

This week I read Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China by Leta Hong Fincher as part of my ongoing non-fiction jag. I can’t say I know much about China, but I like reading about feminism so this book piqued my interest. I knew China was an authoritarian state, but reading the stories of the Feminist Five, five notable feminist activists who have crossed with the state, was illuminating. As much as I rail against the patriarchy, I can see that I have it way better than a lot of women in the world. Chinese authorities regularly harass feminists just for participating in activism like passing out stickers with messages against sexual harassment. Anti-women attitudes combined with the Chinese surveillance state are making it extremely difficult for feminists to speak out, but they’re doing it anyway. Leta Hong Fincher is bearing witness to their experiences and sharing them with the rest of the world.

Something else I found interesting in this book was that the obsession with “purity” and prohibiting women from having sex outside of marriage is also a part of China’s patriarchal culture. Although this is something I associate with Christianity, a Confucian value and another blunt weapon that men wield against women in the fight for bodily autonomy. Patriarchal bullshit has no borders.

Other reading on the internet:

  • Virginia Finally Ratifies the Equal Rights Amendment via News and Guts Media. This news made me more emotional than I anticipated. With Virginia ratifying the ERA, there are now enough states approving it and it can move on to congress and maybe really become an amendment to the constitution. Being considered fully human by our government would be great.
  • Every Place is the Same Now via The Atlantic. This article really resonated with me. The thesis is that, by having smartphones that let us do any task in any place, we have made places lose their meaning. Everywhere is the same because we can do all the same stuff anywhere we go.
  • A Clear Menace via The New Republic. We make lots of buildings with a glass exterior to be fancy, but it’s actually horrible for the environment and we should stop.

Watching

We watched the original Star Trek movie from 1979. It was … something. There are excruciatingly long, loving shots of the Enterprise—like five straight minutes at a time of panning over the ship exterior. And there’s all the weird slowness and antics you’d expect from an Original Series episode. It was a strange experience, but I’m glad that I’ve seen it. Although we have been watching Star Trek in TV form for a while, this is the first movie I’ve watched. Kirk says the other ones are better and I hope he’s right.

Rampant Consumerism

newly installed stainless steel faucet
behold, my new faucet

The backpacks I ordered last week were delivered so now we have the beginnings of our emergency kits. So far, all that’s in there are our N95 breathing masks, some water bottles, and a couple of my old glasses, but I’m planning to gradually build it up so we’re ready in a crisis.

This week we bought a new kitchen faucet, and had some bonus house drama. Kirk attempted to fix a problem we had in the kitchen with the faucet only putting out a small amount of hot water, in comparison to the cold. Unfortunately, this resulted in even less hot water—barely a trickle. We called a plumber who, after some investigation, informed us that the problem was in the faucet itself and we’d need a new one. I was unwilling to wait for a warranty replacement, so we used some of the Home Depot gift cards we got for Christmas and bought a new one instead. The plumber came to install it this morning and now I can use the kitchen again. Praise Odin.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

Something I’d been mulling over, but hadn’t acted on until this week, was changing my email address. I’ve had a gmail account since gmail was new in the mid 2000s. I’m used to it and I like it, but I am tired of so much of my internet use being mediated by big tech companies that are just here to make money off our data and meddle in the democratic process. Last year I started blogging as an alternative to facebook (and look how well it’s going!). This year, I’m taking on email. I own this site, and lindseyhalsell.com so I can set up all the email addresses I want. I decided to go for something simple: mail at lindseyhalsell.com for the new account. It’s been kind of a pain switching over subscriptions to the new address, but it’s been a good opportunity to unsubscribe from things I routinely delete anyway. So far I’m enjoying this process of internet self-sufficiency, although I am missing some features.

Derby Life

Roller derby started again this week and I’m happy about it. We’re doing two practices per week until we have tryouts in mid-February. It’s a good way to ease back in without too much stress. I was pleasantly surprised to not feel too physically strained at practice. I mean, it’s always hard and a lot of effort but I felt strong and I felt able to breathe. I’m not sure if altitude sickness put everything in perspective for me or my off-season workouts really paid off. Perhaps both.

I’m also excited because our head coach this year asked me to improve our new skater program. I have a lot of ideas and it’s going to be interesting to see what we can do.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my derby wifedom with Taco and Stomp (although is the date of our Rollercon wedding our real anniversary now?), and it was great to practice with them both. Here’s to four years together!

me, Taco, and Stomp smiling for the camera
Happy Derby Wife Anniversary!

Strongs

me at the gym, wearing a pink shirt with a ham planet on it and flipping off the camera
ham planets against patriarchy

I made it to the gym twice this week. I had good intentions of going three times, but after Tuesday’s derby practice, my body felt kind of in shock from all the effort, so I took a day to rest. Today my knees were still feeling it but I did my best. I wore my Team Ham Planet shirt today in honor of a coach telling us that we need to get in shape. Okay.

Domestic Witchcraft

Saturday, we finally planted the vegetables we bought over a month ago. We cleaned out the garden bed and put in leeks, lettuce, spinach, and broccoli for some winter vegetable gardening. We are still learning what works well in our garden, but I’m hoping at least some of it grows and gives us tasty food.

I didn’t cook much this week, but this time because of our faucet woes. I was unwilling to dirty a bunch of dishes with no simple way to get them clean, in the absence of running water in the kitchen. But before all that, I made this chickpeas and orzo recipe, which was really tasty and I pickled some onions for kirk (it took two jars to contain the one GIANT onion I bought). I also made milkshakes again. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Knitting and Crafts

The photo says most of what needs to be said here, but I’m celebrating that I finished one sock and have knit half of the second. I got the heel turned and now am ready to pick the stitches back up to knit the gusset. I may even finish this weekend. I am a little annoyed with myself though because I thought I would run out of the green/silver yarn so I padded the length with the grey yarn. Nope. I’m almost out of grey and I still need to knit the toe of sock two. We’ll see what happens. Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion to this knitting cliffhanger.

one fully knitted sock and one halfway knit
sock progress

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

A Week in the Life: January 10, 2020

This week has been difficult for no tangible reason. I don’t know if it was hormones or what, but it felt like I had a mini-bout of depression for most of the week. I was tired and didn’t feel like doing anything. I was upset and having imposter feelings about work. I do have anxiety and I have dealt with depression in the past, but usually I’m good about talking myself down from these kinds of moods. Plus, I am medicated, which helps. I am, however, feeling better today. I can’t say what the turning point was for sure, but I had a giant plate of nachos last night and felt a lot better after. Better living through Mexican food? (note: this is not to say that anyone with depression just needs to eat. This is my sense of humor; why cry when you can laugh?).

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

Here’s some of the good stuff I read on the internet this week. Although by good I don’t mean “feel good” because these are all real downers, but they are interesting and important.

  • What our weighted blankets tell us about our late-capitalism angst via Forge. Weighted blankets seem to help people sleep, but is selling them just commodifying sleep?
  • Meet the CEOs cashing in on Trump’s aggression against Iran via CounterPunch. A reminder to us all that Trump isn’t starting wars just for fun, but also for profit. Eat the rich.
  • The Dark Side of Good News via Dame Magazine. Author Brooke Binkowski advances the argument that “heartwarming” stories of children raising money to pay of classmates’ lunch debt (sidebar: why the fuck does “lunch debt” exist?), or people fundraising for each other’s medical care are not just cute human interest stores, rather they distract us from the underlying issues and structural problems that cause people to go bankrupt over medical care in the first place.
  • ‘Like sending bees to war’: The deadly truth behind your almond-milk obsession via The Guardian. Another entry under “wow, capitalism just sucks.” Something like one-third of the bees employed to pollinate California’s almond orchards die in the process because the environment is so toxic to them. It’s an example of why there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, even a morally “better” choice, like eschewing cow milk for almond “milk,” means you’re taking part in a system that’s not healthy for human workers, bees, or probably those of us drinking almond milk.

Watching

I’ve been watching season two of Killing Eve and really loving it. Watching Sandrah Oh’s character become more of a sociopath is fascinating and I love Jodie Comer, who plays Villanelle, particularly for her language skills and ability to do good accents. We also watched The Disaster Artist last weekend, which is about the movie The Room, widely considered to be one of the worst movies ever. It was absurd and hilarious and, perhaps predictably, left us with more questions than answers.

Consuming

a regular backpack, but bright orange
Swiss Gear “pumpkin” backpack

Kirk and I have been talking about making some basic emergency kits, so we ordered a pair of bright orange backpacks to build our kits with. I have a hard time with emergency preparedness stuff because it makes me feel like a nutjob. Obviously there’s plenty in the world now to suggest that having an emergency kit is smart planning, but it takes me back to days of Mormonism and church leaders encouraging everyone to have a year’s supply of food storage and do other wild “end of days” prep. I know that’s not what I’m doing, but somehow I’m having a hard time shaking that feeling. Hopefully with time it will leave me alone.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

Thanks to feeling out of sorts, I didn’t do a whole lot this week. We’re getting back into normal routines and I spent most of the week wanting to nap.

Knitting and Crafts

This week I’ve knit the better part of a sock. I started out with a different pattern last week, decided it wasn’t working, and started this version instead. I wasn’t sure that the grey yarn on the cuff and heel were going to match the main yarn that well, but now that I’ve got it knit up, it’s working better than anticipated. Hopefully by this time next week I’ll be well into this sock’s partner.

a sock, knit to slightly past the heel
sock in progress

Language Learning

I did the listening portion of a DELE practice this exam this week and did … surprisingly well. It’s not that I doubt myself, but I am a realist and these tests are meant to be tricky. Hopefully this is a sign that my skills are improving and not that I just got a lucky test that made sense to me.

I’ve also confirmed that my Icelandic teacher is on maternity leave now. I’m faced with the challenge of maintaining some Icelandic without direction and with the pressure of Spanish. So far I’ve been fitting in around 20 minutes of flashcards a day, which is pretty good. I’m thinking I can expand it to watching videos or something just to keep what skills I have.

Strongs

This week is the beginning of my new cycle of workouts and Prime has us working on jumping. A jumping-focused workout is not something I would choose for myself because I’m heavy and jumping is a high-effort proposition. However, so far it’s been pretty good. Hard, but good. I do feel a little stupid doing lots of weird jumps in the gym, but I always feel kind of stupid in the gym and maybe gyms exist to make us feel stupid anyway (thank you for coming to my TED Talk)? I did every workout in the last cycle and was proud of that, but this week I’ve already skipped one, which I am also okay with. Gotta do what feels right for the body and today that’s an epsom salt bath instead of a trip to the gym.

Kitchen Witchery

I didn’t to much in the kitchen this week other than put together some chili and cornbread for dinner. We’ve been eating a lot of leftovers and I haven’t wanted to do a whole lot. Although I did finally manage to make a decent bowl of oatmeal, which is a great accomplishment. I followed the instructions from The Kitchn, and added some cinnamon, honey, and pecans, which turned out quite tasty.

Finally, here is a cat photos for your nerves.

Viola from above
Viola, on guard

A Week in the Life: January 3, 2020

rainbow shawl lace pattern detail

Last Friday seems like a really long time ago, but perhaps our arbitrary new year starting in the middle of the week made me feel like everything should reset. Perhaps it’s because my good friend Anne is staying with us so it seems like there’s more going on. Or maybe because I wrote a bunch of year end/year beginning blog posts already this week. In any case, here we are, three days into the year. Shit is on fire and Trump has brought us to the brink of war with Iran so that’s a lot to take in. I don’t know what to do other than keep living my life so here is this week in review.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

book: The golden thread by Kassia St. Clair
The Golden Thread

My first book of 2020, by instagram post and by the date I finished reading it was The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History by Kassia St. Clair. This book is something of a cousin to another recent read: Threads of Life: A History of the World through the Eye of a Needle, but it manages to deal with different topics, and it’s more focused on fabric itself, rather than needlework. I liked some of the historical discussions but the most interesting part to me was the chapter on space exploration and the role textiles play in creating a safe environment for astronauts. It was a well-written book but didn’t hook me quite as much as Threads of Life did, probably because it didn’t have any of the memoir components, and stuck strictly to the history.

I also read the first two books of The Murderbot Diaries (All Systems Red and Artificial Condition), which is essentially about a humanoid robot that has anxiety and depression (I’ll say it again: Big Millennial Energy). It’s a lot of fun to read both for the concept and the way the story is told. Recommended reading for sure.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

Watching

Anne wanted to see Frozen 2 and, while I’m not that invested in Frozen, I was willing to go along for the ride. The plot was kind of bizarre and there was a whole lot of singing, but okay. One thing I was amused by was Olaf, the magic snowman sidekick whose every waking moment was spend staring into the void of existential angst. It’s the biggest Millennial Energy I’ve seen on screen and it made me laugh. That fucking snowman has no idea why he’s alive, what the point of anything is, or why nothing make sense but god damn it he presses on anyway.

Rampant consumerism

This week I received the hilariously named Glute Loops, which I ordered last week. It’s a fancy resistance band for leg exercises. It offers a lot more resistance than the cheap bands I’d been using and the weird round bands they have at my gym. I used it for hip abductors this week and was like, god damn. Recommended if you need an exercise band.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

In Anne’s honor, we threw a Halloween-themed New Year’s Eve party: New Hallow’s Eve. We got the Halloween decorations back out, watched Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice, and other Halloween classics, and invited people to dress in costume. We also had an “Oreo Tasting” to sample some of the many, ridiculous Oreo flavors, which are all surprisingly good. I have eaten a great many of the leftover Oreos this week. The carrot cake and peanut butter chocolate pie are standouts.

Language Learning

a page of my notebook tracking what studying I did in Icelandic in December
Icelandic studies: December 2019

December was a good month for Icelandic. I got through almost my entire flashcard backlog (no easy feat) and actually did homework (and did a good job at it). We had a couple of lessons before heading into the holiday. Unfortunately, I’m not sure when we’re starting up again because of my teacher’s maternity leave. So, I’ve been focusing a little more on Spanish this week, but I’m hoping I can maintain some balance so I don’t lose the knowledge I’ve gained.

To start preparing for the DELE exam, I am digging into my Spanish flashcard backlog (almost up to 5,000 cards to review -_-) and I’ve been making a point of scheduling myself to do listening and reading practice. I decided if I write down what I’m going to do for the week in advance, it removes some of the friction from the process and I study more. That’s basically a complicated way of saying I’m giving myself homework now.

Knitting and Crafts

I technically finished the Higuera shawl (okay, wrap) last week, but I didn’t want to spoil the surprise for Abby so I’m posting it now. I’m quite happy with how it came out. I love the cable pattern along the edge and, now that I’m done knitting it and can actually look at it, I really like the lace pattern too. The pattern calls for only three rounds of the leaf pattern, but I kept knitting to finish the rainbow so it’s huge. But that works out: more rainbow, more pride.

This week I also made a Hallowenmas stocking for Anne, who does not like Christmas that much. It’s a patchwork of Halloween fabrics that I had on hand (because you can’t readily buy Halloween stuff in December), but I think it works and I like the look of it. Anne liked it too and that’s what’s important.

Kitchen Witchery

My dutch oven has so far been very pleasant to cook in! I tried it for the first time last weekend to make braised french onion chicken with gruyere, aka chicken thighs in french onion soup, and it was delicious. We followed that with some homemade milkshakes to use up the last of the ice cream. Since Anne has been here, I also made carnitas (by request) and pinto beans (not pictured), which I cooked in the dutch oven. Today I made cinnamon rolls. We’re making a lot of good choices here.

Finally, here are some cat pictures for your nerves.

2020: New Year, Same Great Me

It’s 2020! My main goal for the year is to keep on being the best version of myself. I like the person I am. I want to keep being me, do good, and make and do cool stuff.

collage of pictures representing my mood for 202, including "okay, boomer," "legalize witchcraft," Giles (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) with a chainsaw, and a possum wearing a foil hat.
2020 mood board

Here’s what I want to do this year:

  • Make good food and not waste the food I make or buy.
  • Read at least one book per week.
  • Read the books I already have.
  • Read library books and bike or walk to the library for most trips.
  • Bike or walk to places around town as much as possible.
  • Keep at my weight lifting and exercise, mostly as a support for roller derby. It is really fun and rewarding to compete in weight lifting, but it’s hard to do both. This year I’m going to focus on derby as my main sport.
  • Play roller derby and have fun doing it. I’m going to take breaks when necessary and remember that it’s a fun hobby.
  • Announce derby at tournaments, make opportunities for new people to try announcing and find ways to support other announcers.
  • Coach derby. I started coaching towards the end of 2019 and I aim to continue.
  • Knit a shirt or sweater and learn a new knitting technique, like brioche.
  • Sew a cool item of clothing.
  • Learn how to mend things and do some mending. I bought thread and needle, plus some books on embroidery techniques. I’m two-thirds of the way there.
  • Stop buying shit I don’t need.
  • Support small/local/woman-owned businesses when I do need to buy things.
  • Garden. Keep my herbs alive for more than a month. I usually get lazy and stop watering them, but I like to have fresh herbs.
  • Try new things.
  • Be an informed voter and help others to be informed, especially considering the upcoming election.
  • Take the DELE C1 exam. This is a Spanish proficiency exam I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years but I’m going to do it this year for real. I already have the date set: July 10.
  • Get better at Icelandic.
  • Spend time with people I care about. Don’t rely on facebook to maintain my relationships.
  • Be generous.
  • Have and enforce boundaries.
  • Relax (not as easy as it sounds thanks to 🌈anxiety🌈).

2019: The 12th Annual Year in Books

This year I read 73 books, which is a lot! Last year I read 58 and my average for the previous decade of reading was 52 books per year. This is the second-most books I’ve read in a year (the most is 90), beating out 2015’s 71 books.

  •  Page count: 23,510. Interestingly, this is only about 1,300 more pages than last year, so I read a lot more books this year but they were shorter.
  • Library use: 30 of this year’s 73 books were from the library. I did start the year trying to read through books I already own, but the allure of the library is strong, especially because I have made it a weekly custom to ride my bike to the local branch.
  • Female/male authors: 58 books by women authors, 3 books with multiple authors that included men and women, and 12 just men. That means about 80% of the books I read this year were written by women, even excluding the mixed-gender authors.
  • Digital and analog: 42 ebooks, 31 paper books. ebooks are more convenient, especially when traveling or lounging in the bath, but I still enjoy paper books.
  • Fiction and non-fiction: 42 fiction, 31 non-fiction. I read a lot more non-fiction this year. I’m preoccupied with the world and what’s happening in it. I’m reading for the revolution.
  • Books in other languages: just one, though I started and abandoned several. 2020 may be more fruitful on this front.
  • Favorites: This is a lot of favorites, but I have good taste so it makes sense that a lot of the books I read would be that good. Looking at my list, I want to recommend almost everything as a favorite but I kept it to just these 10.

And now for the list!

Date FinishedTitleAuthor
1/1/19Read and Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to ActivismNadya Tolokonnikova
1/8Cold SteelKate Elliott
1/10Crow After Roe: How “Separate But Equal” Has Become the New Standard In Women’s Health And How We Can Change ThatRobin Marty and Jessica Mason Pieklo
1/15Fighting Fascism: How to Struggle and How to Win Clara Zetkin
1/17She Would Be KingWeyétu Moore
1/28Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession Alice Bolin
2/2The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption Kathryn Joyce
2/4My Sister, the Serial KillerOyinkan Braithwaite
2/18The Mortal WorldGenevieve Cogman
2/19The Third HotelLaure Van den Berb
2/21Roller GirlVictoria Jamieson
2/24Tomorrow’s KinNancy Kress
3/7If Tomorrow Comes Nancy Kress
3/18Terran Tomorrow Nancy Kress
3/21The Light BrigadeKameron Hurley
3/21Brillant ImperfectionEli Clare
4/2The Raven TowerAnn Leckie
4/9SemiosisSue Burke
4/12VoxChristina Dalcher
4/26Lost Children Archive: A NovelValeria Luiselli
4/29How Long ’til Black Future MonthN. K. Jemisin
5/1Handbook for a Post-Roe AmericaRobin Marty
5/8A Memory Called EmpireArkady Martine
5/13Wild SeedOctavia Butler
5/15The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban TragedyAnna Clark
5/24Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry that Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in your Car, and Food on Your PlateRose George
5/26Mind of My MindOctavia Butler
5/31I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of LifeEd Yong
6/1El Espejo EnterradoCarlos Fuentes
6/5CirceMadeline Miller
6/13The Collected SchizophreniasEsmé Weijun Wang
6/20The Night TigerYangsze Choo
6/22Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects us and Undermines DemocracySiva Vaidhyanathan
6/26Mother of EdenChris Beckett
6/29Daughter of EdenChris Beckett
7/4The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp HumanityAmy Webb
7/6The Water CureSopihe Mackintosh
7/13Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchNeil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
7/16The Black God’s Drums P. Djèlí Clark
7/23Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for MenCaroline Criado Perez
7/24Storm of LocustsRebecca Roanhorse
7/27This Is How You Lose the Time WarAmal el-Mohtar, Max Gladstone
8/1How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention EconomyJenny Odell
8/10Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of LanguageGretchen McCulloch
8/13Late in the Day: A NovelTessa Hadley
8/15WitchmarkC.L. Polk
8/23Confessions of the FoxJordy Rosenberg
8/26Not Funny Ha-Ha: A Handbook for Something HardLeah Hayes
9/17House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian MafiaCraig Unger
9/17Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of PlantsRobin Wall Kimmerer
9/20Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary AmericaKathleen Belew
9/22The TestamentsMargaret Atwood
9/27InlandTéa Obreht
10/4The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 ElectionMalcolm Nance
10/14The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and GirlsMona Eltahawy
10/23New Suns: Original Speculative fiction by People of ColorNisi Shawl (editor)
10/29Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our PastSarah Parcak
11/4Burial Rights: A NovelHannah Kent
11/9Interference Sue Burke
11/11In the Dream House: A MemoirCarmen Maria Machado
11/16A Jewel Bright SeaClaire O’Dell
11/19Magic for LiarsSarah Gailey
11/23Silent SpringRachel Carson
11/26The Ten Thousand Doors of JanuaryAlix E. Harrow
11/30Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You HaveTatiana Schlossberg
12/9Threads of Life: A History of the World through the Eye if a NeedleClare Hunter
12/10You Have the Right to Remain Fat: A ManifestoVirgie Tovar
12/16All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator Barry Levine and Monique el-Faizy
12/20You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder PlaceJanelle Shane
12/23How to Be an AntiracistIbram X. Kendi
12/26Gideon the NinthTamsyn Muir
12/28ALL SYSTEMS REDMartha Wells
12/30Artificial Condition Martha Wells

2019: A Year in the Life

This year has been a lot. Living in these bullshit times is fatiguing. New political insanity on the daily makes every week seem like at least a month. It’s mind boggling but all we can do is keep on living and raging against it. That said, here’s my annual celebration of living and raging on.

Looking back at my goals and my mood board for the year, I feel like I lived up to it as best I could. Although I didn’t meet some of my specific goals, like deadlifting 405 pounds (see you in 2020, 400-pound deadlift), I kept to the spirit of my goals of being resourceful, consuming less, and doing cool stuff.

A collage of images representing my mood for the year
2019 Mood Board

This year I started writing/blogging regularly, which has been really cool. I’ve had this blog for about five years now but haven’t used it for much. Giving my weekly update a standard format and schedule has made it a lot easier to write. I look at it and think “well, what did I cook this week?” Instead of “fuck what have I done this week.” With that in mind, allow me to address the question of, “what the fuck have I done this year” with something familiar.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, media I enjoyed, and stuff I bought this year. I won’t talk much about reading here because my next post will be my annual Books of the Year list. My stated goal for the year was to read at least 52 books. As of this writing, I’m over 70, which is awesome.

  • Podcasts: I’m a huge fan of Gaslit Nation for the hosts’ ability to make complex political topics understandable, and help us understand what we can do about it. I’ve also enjoyed the Lingthusiasm podcast, which deals with linguistics and Holding Space with Magical Wheelism, which deals with representation and other important topics in the roller derby community.
  • TV and movies: Kirk and I watched Star Trek: Voyager, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and The Legend of Korra, among other fun shows. I re-watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer because sometimes that’s just what you need.
  • Rampant Consumerism: Notable things I bought include my Raaka chocolate subscription, Bombas socks, shirts with my own face, and who could forget our newly remodeled shower?
a screenshot of my amazon "your orders" page showing 0 orders placed in the last 6 months
Zero Amazon orders in the last six months. Progress.

As a footnote on the issue of rampant consumerism, I checked my Amazon account to see if I really did stop buying things on Amazon. It wasn’t something I listed as a goal for the year, but it is something that has been on my mind as part of thinking and acting locally and sustainably. I made only one purchase from Amazon this year, in February, to use up some gift cards and buy a kindle ereader, so I’d still be able to read all the ebooks I’ve bought through them (I switched to Kobo a couple of years ago).

Making Things and Doing Stuff

I did so much this year! I really tried to get in the habit of not getting lost in the internet’s infinite scroll and to do things that I enjoy. A few major factors make it possible for me to do a lot of things and not die. First, I got diagnosed with sleep apnea at the end of last year and started using a CPAP. I really can’t overstate how much more awake and alert I feel all the time. Second, working from home makes it a lot easier to do things. I can set up a bread dough and check on it every hour or so and that doesn’t make it any harder for me to get work done. Finally, I’ve developed a general level of comfort with myself and my life in the last few years. I don’t feel the need to stare into the void looking for validation all day so I can go about my business. When I was younger, I really did feel the need to be online all the time because I didn’t know what to do with myself and felt weird and needed that lifeline. Now I’m more self actualized.

This year I had fun traveling and hanging out with Kirk. We went to Peru in November and we spent a weekend at Lake Tahoe in June, during which he took me axe throwing. We built a garden bed in the backyard and started gardening, which was not all that successful but I’m hoping we’ll do better in 2020.

Languages

This year ended up being something of a maintenance year for both Icelandic and Spanish studies. I got a little bored with my routine and took a long break from flashcards and the “work” of studying, which is good and bad. For Spanish, I kept working with my teacher and we met regularly to keep up my skills but I didn’t feel like I learned anything new. Icelandic has been hard because I keep getting to a point where I’m about to improve and then our classes get interrupted for various reasons. Although I’m only learning Icelandic for fun, so it’s not like there’s any real pressure or deadline. This is a long paragraph for essentially saying “nothing changed,” but blog space is infinite.

Derby Life

I’ve said before that roller derby will take over your whole life if you let it. Derby wasn’t my entire life in 2019 but it was for sure a significant portion. Here are some roller derby highlights for this year:

  • Made the Sacramento Roller Derby B team and played almost every B and C team game this year, including some back-to-back games for double headers
  • Took second place at the Attack of the C Squads tournament
  • Went to Rollercon and did everything
  • Announced at the Lobstah Roll and Boardwalk Empire tournaments
  • Started coaching new skaters
  • Went to, like, a million hours of practice
  • Scheduled announcers for all of our home games and gave new people the opportunity to learn
  • Received the Announcer of the Year award from my league

Knitting and Crafts

So much knitting! Knitting has become what I do to relax, for the most part. Most of my other activities involve a lot of thinking or a lot of moving and this requires only a little of each. I learned the art of socks, made three hooded caplets, and learned how to sew buttons onto things. I intended to do more sewing this year, but while knitting is something I can do kind of passively, sewing is a whole activity unto itself. That said, I did make a set of cloth napkins and a table runner. I also made half of a blanket for me (other half, coming soon I suppose), and a whole blanket for my friend’s baby.

Strongs

This year I felt more tension between wanting to lift and wanting to play roller derby. I competed in one strong(wo)man competition in the spring and took third place in my class. In the summer, I decided to change gyms, which started with deciding to leave a gym and then it took a few months to rejoin a new one, so I didn’t make a whole lot of gains this year. The major upside of the new gym is it’s just a few minutes from my house and I can go whenever I want. It’s been nice to get my workout done during my lunch breaks. The downside is it’s a regular gym and not all close-knit like it was at Body Tribe. I started a lifting program from Iron Octopus that is specifically for roller derby athletes. So I’m looking forward to more gains and better roller derby in 2020.

Kitchen Witchery

Food is probably what I write about the most here so I won’t belabor the point, but I did want to post a gallery of some of the best foods I made this year. I made so many new things and improved my bread skills majorly. I learned to pickle things (for Kirk’s sake. I still hate pickles) and tried out sous vide cooking, mostly so I could cook food at Rollercon. This year was also the first year of cookbook club! We technically started last December, but 2019 was the real start of things. Cookbook club is cool because it got me making things I wouldn’t have thought to make plus I got to hang out and eat food with my friends.

Finally, would it even be a post if there weren’t some cat photos for your nerves? Huey and Viola had a pretty good year too.

A Week in the Life: December 27, 2019

a wooden board covered in a variety of holiday cookies

Another year and Christmas has come and gone! We had quite a nice Christmas and spent it chilling at home, which is my favorite way to spend Christmas. I got multiple gift certificates for my local yarn store and my mom signed me up for a “knitalong,” which means I’ll be getting surprise yarn in the mail this year. I also got some cool cookbooks, and my sister bought me some nice bath stuff. Kirk and I told family members who lamented “we don’t know what to get you,” to get us Home Depot gift cards, and now we have a not-insignificant amount of Home Depot cash. I’m also excited because Kirk bought me a Le Creuset dutch oven, which I have been wanting for a while but I have been unwilling to lay down the money for a single pot. It’s taking it’s inaugural voyage tonight and I will report back next week on how it went.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

book cover of Gideon the Ninth as seen on the Kobo ereader
Gideon the Ninth

This week I read Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir in basically two days. A little while ago, an author I follow on twitter posted a blurb about its sequel that read “the necromancers are back and they’re gayer than ever!” Naturally I was like, what blessed tome is this? Which is how Gideon the Ninth ended up on my radar and my ereader. This book is so good. It’s a new favorite, not just of the year but of ever. The main character’s voice is very “regular person who has to put up with supernatural bullshit” and I was reading it thinking, yep, I’d also be calling her a dick in this situation. It has arcane bone magic, intrigue, space travel, ancient secrets, and lesbians. It’s basically a perfect book. I spent most of Christmas eve and Christmas day on the couch reading it and I wanted to stay up all night reading but I’m a responsible adult and here we are. Anyway, I immediately pre-ordered the sequel, Harrow the Ninth, in which the necromancers are back.

In more serious books, I read How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. This book is part memoir and part guide. Kendi takes the reader through a series of topics and explains what made him rethink each one and how he was able to come to an anti-racist view, and how you can too. The main conclusion of the book is that racism comes from policy. Our laws are racist so we decide that means it’s okay, and behave accordingly. Kendi asserts that, to become anti-racist, we have to develop and adopt anti-racist policies. One thing I really liked about this book is that the author explicitly defines everything to make sure everyone is using the same language. This makes it easy to follow his arguments and to give everyone an anti-racist vocabulary.

Huey the black cat next to the book How to Be an Anti-Racist
Huey P Newton and I learning how to be anti-racist

Watching

This week I watched the movie Atomic Blonde. It’s a spy movie set in Berlin just before the fall of the Berlin wall. It was reasonably entertaining but not life changing. I think the recent Rick and Morty episode lighting up the heist genre has low-key ruined anything with a bunch of double crosses. That’s okay though, it was still something I could knit to.

Rampant Consumerism

As a Christmas gift to myself, I bought a few ebooks (in part because Kobo has a sale and part because no one wants to buy me books because they don’t know what I have). I bought Gideon the Ninth, as discussed above, as well as The Sisters of the Winter Wood, All Systems Red, and the Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heap.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

This week didn’t feel that action-packed, but that’s probably two days of unrepentant laziness talking. Last Saturday I went to a holiday brunch/party with some friends and that was really nice. There was cookie and ornament decorating, which was a really good party activity. I brought my knitting because that’s the person I’ve become. Two other people there saw me knitting and said “dang, I should have brought my knitting!” More knitting at parties coming in 2020, you heard it here first.

Kitchen Witchery

I mostly made more treats this week, and I am looking forward to taking a break from that for a while. Delicious though they are, after a few days of Christmas eating, I am recalling why a balanced diet is important. This week I made toffee (recipe from The Baking Bible), snickerdoodles, and shortbread (recipe from How to Cook Everything). Most of the cookies I made this season went to the Cookie Project, but I kept a bit of each and presented what I’m calling my “cookie portfolio” on Christmas. Cookies aside, I finally tried making this glorious macaroni and cheese recipe and it was as great as it sounds. It’s one of those things that’s constantly appearing on my twitter feed, but it’s more work than I normally put into macaroni. All I can say is that it was worth it but it’s definitely not something I should be eating too often. To round out the week’s carbohydrates, I also made some regular sandwich bread and some small bread bowls (not pictured because I forgot) for Christmas eve dinner with my in-laws.

Strongs

Despite Christmas—both the year-end inertia and how surprisingly crowded my gym has been—I kept to my goal of going to the gym three times this week. My program increase reps of the same exercises for a few weeks then goes back down towards the end, so this week I was able to push my lifts a little heavier because I had fewer reps. I got up to 195 on my back squat and 45 with dumbbell bench presses. I haven’t done my last workout yet for this week, but I’m hoping to go a little heavier with my sumo deadlifts tomorrow.

Finally, here are some cat pictures for your nerves. Although Huey’s intense gaze is more likely to unnerve you than calm you. The cats got a scratching post and a ribbon toy for Christmas. They’ve both enjoyed them, but Huey made an early move to let everyone know they belong to her.

A Week in the Life: December 20, 2019

This week felt incredibly long to me. Is it the approaching winter solstice? Impeachment? Christmas anticipation? I don’t have answers, only more questions, as usual. Although I am, actually, feeling some Christmas anticipation. I’ve appreciated being festive this year with getting our tree up and baking a lot. It also helps to have the trappings of Christmas; last year I made a tree skirt and stockings so that was already done. Thanks, past self.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

book: You Look Like a Thing and I Love You
You Look Like a Thing and I Love You

This morning I finished You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place by Janelle Shane. You may recognize the author from the neural network-generated roller derby names she shared a while back. The book is an entertaining and easy-to-understand primer on artificial intelligence, including how it does and doesn’t work. Shane also illustrates a the book with her comical line drawings to make points about AIs solving problems in ways humans don’t expect, like traveling from one place to another by being really tall and falling to their destination. It’s fun, informative reading and I recommend it to everyone because we are all affected by the decisions that AI makes.

Most of the things I’ve read online this week have been depressing and heavy as hell, so read at your own risk.

  • Resolution impeaching President Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors via the Washington Post. Many other people have said basically everything that needs to be said on impeachment in the last two days, but I would be remiss to not mark the occasion. I’m glad he’s been impeached. I’m sad but unsurprised that this will not encourage him to leave or change his behavior.
  • Tech giants sued over ‘appalling’ deaths of children who mine their cobalt via CBC. Cobalt is a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, you know, those things that make your phone work. Children working in horrific conditions are mining it. Modern life is fucking terrible.
  • Mormon church has mislead members on $100 billion tax-exempt investment fund, whistleblower alleges via Washington Post. The fact that the Mormon church isn’t using its funds for good doesn’t surprise me, but the $100 billion figure does. It’s fucked up that this church can keep its tax exempt status while it does this. I accidentally got into some internet comment fights with people about this article and, unfortunately, I think a lot of Mormons aren’t going to think critically about this situation and what it means for them. As usual, I have zero regrets about leaving this pyramid scheme masquerading as a religion.

Watching

Kirk and I have been watching Star Trek: Enterprise for the last month or two and we’re almost done with season two. It has a deserved reputation for being the worst Star Trek but there are things to like about it. The character of Commander Tucker has become one of my favorites for his facial expressions, and of course I love the Vulcan character, T’Pol. Fun fact: I had never watched Star Trek before I met Kirk. We watched the original series probably five or six years ago and have been slowly making our way through the rest of it.

Rampant Consumerism

a pom pom maker, in a package that looks at least 30 years old
more pom, more better

I haven’t bought a lot this week (other than my last few gifts), but my friend Sharlotte and I did visit ReCreate in Roseville after our office holiday party on Wednesday. It’s basically a second-hand craft store full of surreal things like barrels of trophy parts and spare doorknobs, plus fabric and glue guns. I spent 75 cents on this package of pom pom makers. Next time I knit something that needs a pom, I will be so ready.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

a Thor doll perched on the top of our christmas tree
Thor is my co-pilot

We’ve been doing some Christmas stuff here. Last Friday we bought a tree and we finally decorated it on Monday. Thor tops our tree because we have yet to get ahold of the Spock tree topper of our dreams. Huey has spent a lot of time camping under the tree, which is not pictured here because it’s impossible to take a picture of a black cat in a dark place and not end up with gleaming demon eyes. I would like to say that I’ve put gifts under the tree, but I have not. The cats will tear the paper apart and gnaw on it, so our countertops are festively adored with Christmas packages. We make do.

My office had a Christmas party this week and I decided to attend to keep myself from being seen as too anti-social. That said, I wish I hadn’t gone. Among several awkward things (like not getting a gift in the gift exchange, and only having the option of eating quiche for lunch [note: I do not like eggs]), I got to hear a number of colleagues complain about everyone’s favorite generational punching bag: Millennials. You’d think after a decade of “Millennials are ruining ___” headlines, I’d be over it, but it is incredibly uncomfortable to sit around listening to people—management really—talk about how millennials don’t want to have cars or move away from home. It sucked because I didn’t really feel like I could say anything, though I could say a lot about how student loan debt and poverty has crippled our generation, how not driving is good for the environment, or perhaps how I’m right here and you’re saying all this to my face. Great to know what the people I work with really think of me.

a collage of headlines about all the industries that millenials are "killing"
we stay busy

Strongs

I haven’t had a lot of exciting things to say about working out lately, but I will say I am starting to get back into the rhythm of it. This month, I have been determined to get in three workouts each week so I can rebuild my habits and I have so far been successful. One activity in my program this month is sumo deadlifts, and after a couple weeks of warming back up, I was able to do a set at 225 pounds last Saturday, which is exciting. I’m still not lifting as heavy as I feel like I “should” or that I want to, but I’m happy that I am making progress again.

Kitchen Witchery

My holiday cookie rampage raged on this week. I made luxury oatmeal cookies (from the Baking Bible), in which you make oatmeal-based granola and then mix that into the batter instead of plain oats. It called for raisins (gross) so I substituted those for more chocolate and the results were really good. I also made these caramel swirl hunks to use up some more dulce de leche (not pictured because I forgot to take a photo!). They were good but not mind blowing. Finally, I made these spiced sugar cookies, which are a refreshing addition to the holiday cookie canon.

In less successful baking, I tried to make a yule log for this month’s cookbook club. The recipe in Martha Stewart’s Christmas Cookbook calls for a genoise sponge, which I recognized from watching the Great British Baking Show. Unfortunately, genoise is as stupid and difficult as it seems to be on the show and mine came out rubbery and gross. I planned my day badly and was pressed for time, so I didn’t let the mousse set long enough and also didn’t have enough time for my meringue decorations to cook. Anyway, our gathering was great, but my dessert was garbage. Hopefully no one is holding it against me.

Finally, here’s a cat picture for your nerves.

Viola on the bed, being lit dramatically by the sun
beauty, grace, Viola staring into your soul

A Week in the Life: December 13, 2019

Two house drama sagas were resolved this week: the ants and the shower. To be fair, the ants were resolved on the day they started. My duct tape barricade was effective, for the most part, but what really finished the job was the rain, which made it impossible for the ants to maintain their trail to the house. Kirk found the crack in the wall they were using to enter and patched it with a line of caulking, which also helped. As to the shower, it has been “done” for a month, but we were waiting on our final permit inspection, which finally happened yesterday (after a fair bit of harassing the contractor). The inspector approved everything, the contractor came out for a final walkthrough, and we sent the last of the money. FINALLY OVER. I look forward to never remodeling a shower again.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

I read some interesting books this week! One, Threads of Life: A History of the World through the Eye of a Needle is a combination of a social history of needlecraft and memoir. I enjoyed reading about something that we don’t have a lot of documented (well, written) history about because it’s often disregarded as unimportant since it’s “women’s work.” I’ve said before that knitting has really taught me how much work goes into making textiles and this book is another entry into my personal syllabus. Side note: I borrowed this book from the library, but the library bought it because I asked them too, which is pretty boss. Sacramento Public Library lets you put in up to 30 materials requests annually!

The second book, You Have the Right to Remain Fat: A Manifesto is pretty well what it sounds like. This book is, in a word, refreshing. It’s good to have a plainly written reminder that you are under no obligation to be thin. You can take up as much space as you want. Two bits that stuck with me are the phrase “In the future, I’m fat” and an anecdote about how, in certain cultures, fat is prized over thinness. The part that particularly stood out is that women in these cultures will pile clothes on before being weighed at the doctor instead of taking them off, which is what I tend to do. It just emphasizes that this is all made up. You don’t have to be any kind of way. Be how you want.

Some other reading from around the internet this week:

Watching

In a run of total comfort-watching, I watched the holiday episodes of the Great British Baking Show. I got really excited when they made Icelandic laufabrauð in the technical challenge because I knew what it was, and I’ve usually never heard of any of the stuff they make in the technical challenge.

Rampant Consumerism

In the ongoing effort to reduce the plastic in my life, I ordered some “naked” soaps from Lush to replace my normal face wash stuff. I must report that so far, so good. They probably are a bit more expensive than buying Target brand or what have you, but they smell really nice and are less wasteful.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

Kirk bowling, taken from behind
Kirk doing the bowling

This week has been full of activity. Despite that it’s the off season, there were derby things last weekend. I’ve been filling all my evening time with reading and baking. I have been invited to help out with something called the Cookie Project, which involves delivering homemade cookies to people working shitty, non-essential jobs on Christmas day, so I’ve finally got a good excuse to make an unreasonable amount of cookies (because otherwise I’ll just eat them all). On top of all that, Kirk and I went bowling last weekend. Kirk was into it, but I was like, what, you just throw balls in a straight line and the people around you make noise and that’s it? Regardless, I told Kirk I’d give it another chance sometime.

Kitchen Witchery

It’s cold, it’s the holiday season, and my evenings are free from roller derby so I have been on a baking rampage, in addition to my regularly scheduled cooking at eating. This week I made a bean and bacon soup that was perfect (here’s the recipe). I used to eat the canned version all the time and of course the homemade version is superior. I also made a turkey noodle soup to use up some leftover turkey and the turkey stock I made after Thanksgiving. Of course since I made soup I had to make bread and I tried a sweet potato loaf from The Bread Bible. It’s a totally soft, delicious loaf that I will make again.

On to the cookie rampage: I made ginger snaps, except I make them soft so I guess they are just ginger cookies, using the recipe in How to Cook Everything. I tried out this recipe for double chocolate coconut cookies, which was a success. They’re a little bit like little brownies. But the best thing I made this week was millionaire’s shortbread. I had an excess of dulce de leche (which I made for our derby awards party but most of it did not get eaten) so I tweaked the recipe to make what I am calling Million Peso Shortbread: cinnamon shortbread, dulce de leche caramel, and a bit of chili mixed into the chocolate. Catch me on the Great British Bake-Off next year.

Languages

I think I mentioned last week that I was getting back into my Icelandic groove and it is paying off. In my lesson this week, Svava told me that whatever I’m doing is working because I sound much smoother putting words together than even last week. I told her that the secret is flashcards. I have talked a lot this year about flashcards and should I do other things and am I bored/burned out with that, but at this stage of Icelandic, I just need that repetition. Flashcards are making a comeback for 2020.

Derby Life

derby awards: two trophies and a certificate
an honor just to be nominated

Even though it is the off-season, there were roller derby happenings last weekend. Our junior team had a big game against Santa Cruz to test its ranking. As our head announcer, I decided it would be a good training opportunity and was very pleased to get Shanita Crutch on the mic for the first time. It’s very satisfying to make opportunities for people to try new things and develop skills. That’s the true spirit of roller derby.

On Sunday we had our end-season awards party. The league honored me with the Announcer of the Year award for the second consecutive year. My initial reaction was that I didn’t do a lot of announcing this year so is this just a popularity vote or what? But, I have been working some tournaments away from home and do behind-the-scenes stuff to train people up and keep us organized, so perhaps that is indeed award worthy. I was also very happy to receive the Dynamic Duo award with my partner in crime Jacked RipHer. It’s very cool to be recognized as a derby power pairing. Our C-team coaches also gave every skater an individual award. Mine is the “Stone Mountain” award for being an immovable object on the track. Pretty sweet.

Finally, here are some cat pictures for your nerves.

A Week in the Life: December 6, 2019

Nothing makes me feel old quite like when December rolls around and I exclaim, “Wow, December already! The year has really flown by.” Every year flies by when you’re old. Anyway, here I am it’s-already-Decembering. That’s okay though, December is an enjoyable month.

This morning I was reflecting on the fact that I’ve made it through a whole week without any wild drama manifesting and I thought, maybe things are settling down.

That’s when I found the ants.

Viola had been prancing around and making noise in an usual spot, which I initially dismissed as regularly scheduled cat hysterics, so I started brushing her to calm her the heck down. Once I was on the floor I noticed an ant, then another and, and a third ant. Three ants is more than coincidence. I set about murdering them then tracked down the source. The ants are creeping in between the baseboard and the wall in my living room. I stuck duct tape around that stretch of floor-meets-wall and then the murders began. We’re not at full-blown ant epidemic, but I have killed a lot of them today. Now that I’ve contained the problem, I’m mostly catching them when they’re confused and trying to leave. I haven’t seen any come in. On the upside, this has motivated to me to go on a cleaning rampage today. Yay?

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

book cover of "Inconspicuous Consumption" by Tatiana Schlossberg
Inconspicuous Consumption, and good cover design

Last weekend I read Inconspicuous Consumption: the Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have by Tatiana Schlossberg. This book was a total pleasure to read, both in content and style. Schlossberg takes the reader through several big-picture issues like food and transportation and gets into the details of several examples in each category. She asks questions like is it better to eat local food or food flown in from Argentina? The answer to almost every question is: it’s complicated. The main argument of the book is that we live in a complex, connected society. A lot of the issues we deal with stem from our attitudes and expectations as a culture (like wanting our packages to be delivered two hours after ordering or insisting on being able to eat strawberries year round) rather than food or transportation itself. One thing that was interesting for me is how much the content linked with other things I have read this year like Ninety Percent of Everything, which is all about the shipping industry.

Another tidbit that stayed with me from a discussion of using the internet and how much electricity that requires. We (non-experts in technology, I suppose) tend to think of just the devices we use to access the internet when we tally up the power required to use the internet, but that’s not the full story. The internet lives in servers, which are on all the time and have to be kept cold, which adds another layer of complexity to the issue. Even though I know that servers have to be on and cool, it had never occurred to me to link that to the environmental impact of using the internet. The whole book is full of ideas like this that Schlossberg connects together.

Inconspicuous Consumption could easily be a dry read, but Schlossberg’s self-deprecating humor is enjoyable and lets the reader in on how ridiculous modern life is. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has been feeling climate anxiety or who is trying to better understand how our choices impact the environment.

Watching

I finally watched Book Smart, which is a comedy about two friends trying to have new social experiences on the eve of their high school graduation. I related to this movie a lot. The protagonists are high-achieving girls who have done everything “right” and never partied or broken the rules. One of the main characters realizes that some of her fellow students she deemed less worthy were accepted to the same top tier college that she was and she is forced to reevaluate her sense of self. I also loved the portrayal of female friendship—it’s something we should all aspire to.

Rampant Consumerism

In the quest to use less plastic, I ordered some Stasher bags over the weekend. They are not here yet but I am looking forward to trying them out. I saw them in a list of ways to cut down on plastic use in the kitchen and I’m hoping to use them in place of plastic bags when buying bulk items from the grocery store. I hope they work. It’s tempting to get caught up in the rampant consumerism of being eco-friendly, but at a certain point, we’re not helping anyone by buying a bunch of new crap. It’s an ongoing struggle to find the right balance.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

This has been a low-key week and I’m happy about that. I’ve been relaxing and knitting (not pictured because it’s a secret gift), reading, and enjoying the great indoors this week while it’s been rainy. I usually go through my phone photos when writing to blog to figure out what I did this week, but all I have are cat and book pictures, and a picture of the cookies I baked today.

Kitchen Witchery

a sheet pan with 12 chocolate chip cookies
You can never go wrong with chocolate chip

After all the Thanksgiving mania I did not cook much this week. I did remix my leftovers into some turkey shepherd’s pie and today I made a turkey pot pie. I tossed most of my turkey in the freezer right after Thanksgiving, so today’s pie was not from turkey that’s been sitting in the fridge for a week, don’t fret.

Just looking at this photo has motivated me to eat another cookie, by the way.

Language Learning

Now that things have mostly settled down again (ants notwithstanding), I’ve been trying to get back into my Icelandic groove, in particular. I’ve been working through my flashcard backlog on Memrise (I started the month at 2,500 -_-) and I had class on Thursday, which went well. I’m trying to remind myself of all the stuff I already know so I can move forward. I keep feeling like I’m on the cusp of getting a little better and then something interrupts me. Hopefully I can carry some Icelandic momentum into 2020.

Finally, here’s a cat photo for your nerves.

Viola peeking out from a cave made from a blanket
cozy cat life