Hello, friends and enemies. I started writing this post and it made me realize that a lot has been going on! I got my tattoo touched up last week (yes, the one that got spelled wrong). I’m quite happy with the new version, but still a little salty with the tattoo artist justifying his mistake by saying “well, I don’t speak Spanish.” Are you also illiterate? It’s the same alphabet. In any case, the updated version is pretty cool so I’m not too upset about the whole ordeal.
In other news, last weekend I went to another roller derby game to lend my vocal talents. I ended up working solo, which is fine but I don’t know if I’m a great solo announcer for an in-house game. I kind of forget about the “hype up the crowd” portion of the job. However, if I can toot my own horn, I am really good at explaining what’s happening on the track.
I’ve been documenting the ongoing shower drama over the last few posts. We finally got the original contractor to come take a look at the damn thing this week after telling them we would call the Contractors State License Board if they didn’t stop ignoring us. They called right back. Surprise! The guy said that the weep holes were clogged and was able to unclog one of them (then asked if we had a wire hanger he might use to unclog the other. What year is this? No, I don’t have a wire hanger). He told us to use the shower for the week and then report back. It seems that water is still seeping where it shouldn’t be seeping so I can’t wait to find out what kind of dumb shit we have to go through next to get this resolved.
Finally, I must note that we had ZERO trick or treaters stop at our house on Halloween. I actually was going to hand out candy this year instead of piling it in the bird bath like usual. I think Halloween should be the last Saturday in October instead of fixed on the 31st. Let’s be real, parents are not excited to walk their kids around to beg for candy on a Tuesday night—and I’m not that excited to sit around and wait for the doorbell to ring on a Tuesday either.
Books and Other Words
I mostly enjoyed and agreed with The End of Reality: How 4 Billionaires Are Selling a Fantasy Future of the Metaverse, Mars, and Crypto by Jonathan Taplin. The book chronicles how Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, and Marc Andreessesn are promoting their pet projects—life on Mars, the metaverse, transhumanism, and crypto, respectively—and don’t really care what anyone else has to say on the subject. Because they all have so much money and influence, it’s easy for them to push for less regulation and oversight on what they do. The book’s argument is that these billionaires aren’t living in reality and they’re trying to drag us along with them. This makes sense and I picked up a lot of good background information on these four rich jerks. However, Taplin does kind of veer into ornery old man territory at times. He almost lost me in a chapter called “Fantasy Culture,” which describes how varied pop culture influences like science fiction books and movies, hip hop music, and violent video games have basically made us stupider as a culture and paved the way for believing in fantasies like living to 160 years old (Peter Thiel’s goal) or living on Mars. Taplin cites science fiction works by H.G. Wells and Aldus Huxley, as well as movies like the Avengers series (to be fair, I don’t think Taplin is wrong about the Avengers movies. They’ve got a wide streak of military propaganda.). Of course, this leaves out tons of science fiction that makes us question the status quo, like the works of Ursula LeGuin, N. K. Jemisin, or even Star Trek (more Deep Space Nine, less Next Generation here though). Most importantly though, I think that bringing up how these billionaires take inspiration from science fiction is really giving them too much credit. As we learned recently from Musk saying that CyberTruck is “what Bladerunner would have driven” (see Max Read for why this statement is complete nonsense), these guys don’t seem to have learned anything at all (or even understood) what they have read and watched. In any case, overall a good read if you can put up with a little bit of old man yelling at cloud.
I also re-read the next Murderbot book, Artificial Condition. I don’t have much to add about what I’ve already said about this series, but here it is! It’s a fun little read.
Meanwhile, on the internet:
- Finders and Keepers via Lux Magazine. I really appreciated this account of Palestinian foragers. Totally worth the read.
- Confirmed: From next year, tracks on Spotify will have to be played 1,000 times before they start earning money via Music Business Worldwide. Maybe it’s time to consider buying music or otherwise supporting artists in a more direct manner instead of giving money and attention to Spotify.
- SAG-AFTRA committee approves deal with studios to end historic strike via Los Angeles Times. I’m glad the actors’ guild strike is over and that the studios are meeting their demands. I’m very curious to see what kind of statistics come out about streaming once this and the new wrtiers’ guild contracts go into effect because studios really did not want to release that information. It’s interesting to see that we went from studio executives saying they wanted to drag the strike out to make writers homeless and desperate to now with the execs being upset about delaying next year’s movie releases. From the article, “After sealing that deal, the studios were motivated to resolve the actors’ standoff in an effort to salvage the current television season and next year’s theatrical film slate. Film executives also worried that the feature film business, which has been ailing since COVID-19 shutdowns, would struggle to recover if theaters went another year without potential blockbusters to draw moviegoers to cinemas.”
- First-gen social media users have nowhere to go via Wired. On the decaying institution of social media and how those of us who came of age with it are feeling.
- Platform Wars (part 4): A Public Option for Social Media via Joshua Citarella’s Newsletter. I love this concept for fixing social media with a public option. Everyone would get an email address and social media account from the USPS-run service. You pay “postage” to share your thoughts on social media. You get a finite number of likes per day (so trending internet crap isn’t always lowest-common denominator content). I really recommend reading the article because it’s such a cool idea. I think something like this would be a huge improvement in our relationship with social media and the internet.
TV and Music
We have just about finished watching the second season of Wheel of Time. This has been a fraught subject in our household because Kirk loves the book series so much (I like the book series but don’t have the same kind of attachment). The show is good but hasn’t followed the course of events from the books super closely. I’ve been reassuring Kirk that they had to adjust the story for TV, put all the characters and events in motion in a way that makes sense for viewers. The latter half of this season has finally been coming back around to the events of the book, so that’s a relief. What I am really loving about this show is the costume design. So many fantasy series just go with kind of a European peasant look but the costumes here manage to communicate that, yes, we are in a preindustrial society but it is also a totally different world from our own.
We have also been playing the new Mario game, Super Mario Wonder. I can’t figure out how to describe it other than it is a Mario game where you take a little acid trip in every level. We’re having fun.
I’m proud to announce that I have translated another Wikipedia article into Spanish (with help from Ana). It’s Verbos débiles en lenguas germánicas (Germanic weak verbs). You might think this is a really niche and random choice. It is, but I found it in the course of reading up on types of verbs and realized there was no equivalent in Spanish Wikipedia. I did a lot of work for this article, on top of the translation, because the English version had a note that instances of text in other languages had to be tagged. I learned that, in the code of Wikipedia, editors are supposed to use an ISO 639-3 tag to mark which language words are from (if different than the main text of the article). This helps browsers render the text correctly, screen readers know how to read, and supports data collection. So, the original article in English was lacking all that and I spent a couple of hours going through and tagging all the languages. Did you know there’s even a code for protogermanic? I do now. Fortunately, I was able to reuse a lot of that work for the Spanish translation. I’m planning to translate the companion article, Germanic strong verbs, but it’s even longer than the weak verbs article. In fact, some Wikipedia editor has warned us that this article is too long. Pray (or whatever) for me.
Back in January I ordered some very cool art prints from the artist Ruth Mora and, like the responsible adult I am, immediately ordered some very specific frames to match. Here we are in November and those prints have still not arrived at my door and the artist has since run a failed fundraising campaign for her business, closed her shop, and yet promised to eventually deliver the art. I decided to give up on her and I disputed the charge on my bank account so I could get a refund. Instead I ordered some art from the artist “catwheezie” and some comic panels from Clarice Tudor. I put them up in my office and they look great. This is one thing I do love about the internet. It’s so easy to find people making cool stuff everywhere.
⚠️TMI ALERT⚠️ If you don’t want to hear about some body stuff, go ahead and skip ahead to the next section. For those of you reading on, three … two … one. Here we go. A few months ago I mentioned I was having some exciting (ha) new pain, which my gynecologist told me was called vulvodynia. I am actually very glad I posted about this because it prompted one of my friends to message me and say she had also experienced this when she was taking birth control pills, but the pain went away as soon as she stopped taking the pill. This made me theorize that there is some kind of hormonal component, so I decided to get my IUD removed. Although IUDs have served me faithfully for over ten years and I hadn’t had any pain issues like this before, I decided it was worth removing it just to eliminate potential variables. I think I might be hitting perimenopause—although the gyno basically laughed and said I’m too young—and whatever hormonal shift is happening made my body not get along with the IUD hormones. In any case, I got the IUD out in September (why does the gyno hold up the removed IUD to display it like a man who just caught a fish?). It does seem like the pain went away! I’m a little skeptical that it could be that simple but so far, so good. I have, however, had to start contending with menstruation again, which my IUD had put a stop to. This is good in a way because I can keep an eye on the menopause situation, although also bad because, you know, the bleeding. I had my period after getting the IUD out then another round forty whole days later. So, something is clearly going on here.
It feels a little weird to be out here on the internet talking about my period and my birth control but, had I not mentioned this in the first place, my friend wouldn’t have told me about her experience, and I would never have thought to remove my IUD. I also feel like I know almost nothing about menopause (although I’m reading a book on the subject so that’s helping). I hear women complaining about hot flashes but that’s about it. So, I am going to keep talking about this to uplift the matriarchy.
I looked back at my photos from the last two weeks and realized that I have been cooking a lot. Last weekend, I roasted a chicken. This is partly because roast chicken is delicious but also partly so I could use the remains to make chicken stock in advance of my Thanksgiving cooking bonanza. Because I am that bitch. I also auditioned this sweet potato and gruyère gratin recipe to see if I wanted to make it on Thanksgiving. It did not make the cut! It was just mushy and bland in a bad way. Since the weather cooled down, I made some beef stew, which I have pretty well gotten down to a science. I build off a recipe from How to Cook Everything and slow cook it. The onions dissolve in the broth and it tastes super savory. I saw an idea for chickpea pot pie and decided I had to give it a try with my favorite pot pie recipe from The Harvest Baker. We liked it, so that’s a nice alternative to have available. I’ve had this recipe for baked farro with lentils, tomato, and feta bookmarked for a while and finally got around to trying it. It’s really good! Kirk agreed we should have it again. It’s also very easy to make, so that’s a win.
In sweets, I used some pumpkin rolls that were getting a little stale to make a french toast casserole. It was delicious and I would definitely make it again. I also made this black and white pound cake, which unfortunately did not make a clean exit from the pan. However, thanks to a little reconstructive surgery and a chocolate icing, we were able to eat it just fine.
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Fritz has been mad with wanting to bite things lately. Here’s a shot of him in the throes of biting mania. Huey is missing her box that she ruined, but I’ve replaced it with one of her pillows for now. I ordered one of these cat caves that I keep seeing online (the instagram ads got me again). We’ll see if she likes that instead.