I had intended to get a short post up last Friday, before leaving for Long Beach to visit my sister, but it didn’t happen. So today I’m writing about the last two weeks, which, in these times, means covering a lot of ground.
First I want to talk about Elizabeth Warren. It already feels like a lifetime away, but Super Tuesday was only about 10 days ago. I have been vocal about my support for Warren. To me, she was the best candidate. She had the plans and the compassion and I think she would have been the perfect president for these bullshit times. Unfortunately, sexism won again. I got really emotional when I read that she was ending her campaign—much more than I expected to be. It’s so hard to see competent women losing again and again while the most incompetent, most corrupt president ever wreaks havoc. I really thought Warren had a chance, but it was an uphill battle against the media ignoring her, billionaires working to maintain the status quo, and so-called progressive bros shouting down women online. We need Warren but I guess we’re not ready yet. I hope I live to see a woman president.
Next, I of course have to discuss life in the time of coronavirus, which I have learned is two words, not capitalized (thanks AP Stylebook). When we look back on this, what’s going to be hard to understand and remember is how fast things have moved. Monday was kind of normal. By Friday, everything was cancelled. We’re suddenly using terms like “social distancing” to refer to the concept of staying away from people to limit the transmission of disease.
It’s hard not to feel some anxiety. People are freaking out and hoarding toilet paper for some reason. The State of California has instructed us to not attend events of more than 250 people and sports are cancelled. People are losing their income while everything shuts down or being forced to work without sick time if their workplace is still operating. Basically, society is cancelled.
Despite the anxiety, I am fortunate in that I already work from home and I have a pantry full of food. I can afford to buy a few extra things. I can also afford to support my friends (or, hey, total strangers) if they need it. I know I’ll be okay but it’s hard to watch the country melt down on such a large scale. We knew the social safety net was broken but this is emphasizing how hard it is for so many people who are living paycheck to paycheck. While I’m not necessarily optimistic, I truly hope that this crisis drives our country to make some choices and enact policy that would support someone other than the rich. I was furious when I read that the federal government gave a $1.5 trillion bailout to wallstreet. Why are they still too big to fail? Why not spend some money making the coronavirus test free? Send funds to people losing work? Create housing for vulnerable people? I’m so sick of this bullshit. Why are the rich the only ones who get help in America? Why aren’t the rest of us considered worthwhile?
Public service announcement: For those of you looking for non-paywalled updates about coronavirus, the Washington Post has free coverage of the pandemic online.
Here are some things I read, watched, and bought this week.
I finished two books in the last week. The first, Autonomous by Annalee Newitz is a sci-fi story set in the next century dealing with different forms of freedom. The other book was a little more serious: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shosasna Zuboff. This was a tough read mostly because Zuboff uses the work to define and document “surveillance capitalism,” tracing where it came from and how it’s impacting us—it’s always tricky to adjust to new concepts. Something she discusses is how we often say “if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.” Zuboff reframes this. Individuals are not the “product” of social media, rather we’re the grist for what she terms “behavioral surplus.” Social media companies and the like are trying to learn how to predict behavior to effectively nudge us all into buying more things. They do this by learning our vulnerabilities so they can suggest just the right product at just the right moment to make more money. This book is a lot to take in and it’s definitely more than I can summarize here, but if you’re interested in what social media is making from all our data, this book is the one to read.
Last night, Kirk and I watched Jojo Rabbit, which is a feel-good World War II movie. When this first came out, I saw the trailer going around and remarked that I was uninterested in anything else about Nazi Germany. Fortunately, I’m not above correcting myself when I’m wrong. This is a great movie. The titular character, Jojo, is a 10-year-old Nazi and ardent Hitler fan. His imaginary friend is a hilarious version of Hitler played by Taika Waititi. Jojo discovers that his mom is hiding a Jewish girl in their house and has to deal with his fanaticism and emotions. I highly recommend watching it, it’s something of an antidote to these extreme times.
I’ve seen the recommendation going around that it would be a big help to our local businesses and community to buy some gift cards while we wait for the covid-19 madness to blow over. This weekend I’ll probably buy some from my local yarn store, Knituque, a new local bookshop that I like, Capitol Books on K. I’m also thinking about some Elk Grove restaurants to hit up.
Making Things and Doing Stuff
As I mentioned, last weekend I went to Long Beach to visit my sister, Mia. It was cool to hang out and I got to see her new place and meet her new cat who is an adorable little maniac. We mostly just chilled out and ate food, plus we took a trip to Ikea because Mia wanted me to help carry stuff, of course. My mom came over to get lunch with us too, which was nice. Despite all these activities, the only pictures I returned with were of the cat.
We had our season debut on February 29 and although I was featured on the poster (a true delight), I didn’t get to play because of my sprained ankle, which, for the curious, is still swollen. However, I did get to debut my statement vest and I wore my fiber optic bowtie, so at least I got to have some sartorial fun. I also enjoyed pairing up announcers for our games. Everyone did great but listening to Calamity Wren and Bob Uckerlele call was a lot of fun. As much as I like announcing, being able to step back and support other people is also satisfying.
Practice is now cancelled out of coronavirus caution, but I did get to coach one more practice before this break. I had a lot of fun coaching (as always) on Wednesday night. It’s great when skaters tell me they get a lot of my practices. It makes me want to keep doing it.
Knitting and Crafts
I’ve made more progress on my Harmonia’s Rings tunic. It’s now roughly crop top-length. Maybe I should just stop there and join Team Crop Top? It’s really cool to see it taking on the shape of an actual clothing item. I actually took this photo last week, so it’s a little longer now than it was, but not enough to warrant taking a new photo. Maybe with all this social distancing I’ll get it finished up in the next week or so.
From the photos you can see that I’m still putting my dutch oven to work. We had a big batch of beef stew (one last cold weather meal, I thought. Yet, it’s chilly and raining today) then last week a whole pile of macaroni and cheese. I’ve learned that adding in some munster cheese to your mix provides that magical cheese stretch that we all dream of, so I’m upping my macaroni game with that. This week was fairly warm so I decided to do some grilling. I made honey sesame glazed pork tenderloin and some asparagus. Of course, I also made treats. My sister requested toffee and who am I to say no? I also had another go at the oat tuilles. I had hoped to shape them into little bowls to put ice cream in, but that didn’t quite go as planned. Still, we ate them with ice cream and they were delicious.
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.