Two Weeks in the Life: April 28, 2024

Hello, friends and enemies. Something I have been thinking about this week is that I am not made for that 40-hour work week life. I mean, I don’t think anyone is but perhaps some can handle it better than others. The last two weeks I actually had a lot of work to do (instead of my usual schedule of some work and then keeping the computer awake) and, gang, I’m fucking tired. I’m good at what I do but given my eye issues sometimes I think I picked the wrong career. Then again, what job does not involve looking at things? What would I even do? It seems stupid to complain when I have a pretty tame job that pays well, but I resent that I have to work to live all the same. This week I also had a big reminder that I am a corporate serf. My company is getting acquired by a larger company (pending the FTC’s approval). In one of the big presentations management did about it, one of the executives, while trying to reassure us that we’re not going to lose our jobs, told us without a hint of irony that the new company was “buying the people.” I know that’s true and that’s how it works—the new company wants the projects we have and the people doing the work as part of their portfolio—but you can’t just go out there and say the corporation is buying people. That’s gross. It’s true, but it’s gross.

Current Events

I am not here to report on or analyze the news but sometimes I have to talk about what’s going on in the world. I am definitely not the first or the best person to connect these issues this week but I am compelled to bear witness and record them in my own way. So, here we go on the topic of campus protests in support of Palestine.

Student protests are happening on campuses throughout the country, including here in my state. The students are demanding that their schools divest their endowments from companies that are supporting Israel and their genocide on the Palestinian people. This is not nothing. Universities collectively have billions of dollars in investments (leading to the joke I’ve seen online that universities are just hedge funds with classes). I don’t think this is trivial. The price of college keeps going up (thanks to Reagan worrying that an “educated proletariat” would be problematic, by the way!) and universities are making more and more money. Meanwhile, this week Biden signed a bill that will send Israel $26 billion and the bill that could ban TikTok (sidebar: The Chinese company that owns TikTok, ByteDance, is supposed to sell the company to an American enterprise or get banned from the U.S. This is immensely stupid. Imagine Brazil, for example. telling Facebook/Meta it needs to sell to a Brazilian company or get out. Most of the world is using technology from other countries. America needs to get over itself and pass normal regulations about technology.) Young people are taking on immense debt to go to school so they can hopefully get a job that pays their rent. They are organizing and building class consciousness and making friends online through apps like TikTok. The government is giving Israel money, banning one of the few online places where young people can congregate, and school gets more expensive every year. These kids have already had to go to school through a pandemic and are living in an era where school shootings are common. What do they have left to lose? School is already not a safe place to them. They’re not scared of protesting.

A rectangular art print showing sheets of paper falling down. Across the pages are the words "We made this world, we can make another."

“We Made This World – We Can Make Another” by Roger Peet

One of the most interesting cases to me is what’s happening at Cal Poly Humboldt, which has closed the campus after students started protesting and then barricaded themselves in when the cops turned up. Here’s the thing: According to Cal Matters, “A 2018 study found that nearly one in five of the university’s students had experienced homelessness, twice the Cal State system average.” There is not enough housing for kids at this school. They are trying to go to college and they are homeless. These students have already clashed with the police. Last fall, students living in vehicles parked on campus were told to clear out. As many as twenty percent of students don’t have a place to live, the school isn’t helping them (the least they could do is let homeless students park campers on campus, come on), they’re taking on debt and it kinda feels like the world is ending so yeah, they are fucking protesting. The adults in their lives did not keep them safe from school shootings or a pandemic. Now they are taking care of each other and using the skills they learned to keep school shooters out of their classrooms on the police. I salute these young people. I don’t know that I would be brave enough or informed enough to do this if I were in college today (considering I didn’t go to any protests during my time in school, perhaps not.). They are demanding that the world be better. They are saying that we have more in common with the oppressed Palestinians than we do with the ruling class. They’re right.

The protests are also calling attention to the situation in Gaza. The deep irony and sadness is that Gaza no longer has any universities. Israel has systematically bombed them all out since beginning their campaign in October. College students don’t want their money going to a regime that is preventing young people just like them from living their lives and getting an education. The other absolutely horrific news on this subject from this week is that they have uncovered mass graves at Gazan hospitals. Reuters reports that “The Palestinian Civil Defence Team accused Israel of burying a number of bodies in the Nasser complex in plastic bags at a depth of 3 metres (10 ft), where they quickly decomposed concealing evidence of its ‘crimes’, including torture, it said.” The only human response to this is exactly what these students are doing. They are using one of the only methods they have to make it known that, although their tuition and tax dollars may be supporting these atrocities, they don’t. This is not the world they want to inherit.

Ultimately, these protests uncover a failure of our society. If these students felt they were living in a fair world, if their needs for housing were being met, if student loans didn’t take people decades to pay off, if they felt they could be safe at school and in public, they wouldn’t be protesting. If our government invested in its citizens, people wouldn’t be protesting. We know this because Palestinians have been raging against Israel’s occupation since the 1940s and the cause has never gotten as much traction here, in the country that is Israel’s biggest supporter, as it is getting now. The American people are not far from being in the same position as the Palestinians and we can feel it. In fact, many American police officers train with Israel’s military police force. Why are police training like military? Why are they bringing those skills home to arrest college students protesting America’s involvement in Israel’s war? We’re seeing protests shut down and a primary avenue for sharing information and opinions online under threat. Where and how are people supposed to voice their discontent?

Books and Other Words

Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan takes place in a world full of mythical water creatures. The protagonist is a half-human/half-siren who is dating a water dragon. They live in a half-drowned city (climate change problems from a bygone era, the text suggests) where humans and “fathomfok” live together. This is a good story that allegorically tackles a lot of real-world stuff. Racism, domestic terrorism, immigration issues, capitalism, and plain old having a manipulative jerk boyfriend (not the aforementioned water dragon; someone else’s boyfriend. I don’t want to slander anyone haha). Plus you know, there’s water magic. It seems to be heavily influenced by The Little Mermaid—there’s an Ursula-inspired sea witch, a trade of one’s voice. Unfortunately, The Little Mermaid was never one of my favorite Disney movies. While this is a pretty good book, I’m not sure I’ll feel compelled to read the sequel when it comes out. But that’s just me.

Eyes of the Void is the middle book in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s The Final Architecture series. I find it difficult to write about middle books in isolation because they’re all about putting pieces in place and making everyone miserable in preparation for the denouement in the last book. What I liked about it is what I liked about the first book! I am reserving additional judgments until I see how the series wraps up.

Meanwhile, on the internet:

TV and Music

Kirk and I watched Fallout, a new show on Amazon based on the video game of the same name. I haven’t played it, but Kirk has. He likes the way the game is super bleak but overlaid with cheerful music from the 1940s and 50s, which is the kind of thing I appreciate too. The show is set in an alternate universe where atomic bombs have blown up the US. A corporation called VaultTec built a bunch of vaults for rich people to shelter in while they wait out the fallout of a nuclear apocalypse. We enter the story about 200 years after the bombs fell. We learn that life continued on the surface and find our protagonist abruptly met with an urgent reason to leave the safety of the vault. The show mostly focuses on the bombed-out present but there is some world building that shows us what happened leading up to America being blown to bits. I won’t give too much away but (low-context spoliers ahead), it’s wild to me that Amazon, perhaps the most powerful corporation of our era, has produced a show whose first season concludes with a bunch of CEOs in a Dr. Strangelove-style war room debating how they can work together to make vaults profitable. They conclude that the best option is to go ahead and drop them bombs themselves rather than wait for some foreign adversary to do it. The capitalists are explicitly the villains! It really shows how secure the richest people in the country feel about capitalism. We can make our little shows and complain about the system all we want but Bezos doesn’t see that as a threat. I was explaining this thought to Kirk and he said it’s when they stop allowing anything critical of capitalism to make it onto the airwaves that we need to worry.

Rampant Consumerism

This week (perhaps every week?), I have been in the business of making myself more comfortable. My wrist has been hurting during work, so I read up and bought some wrist rests (sorry for the Amazon link but I literally couldn’t find it anywhere else) to pair with my mousepad. I’ve only had them for a few days but it’s already helping a lot. I also bought a lap desk so I can more comfortably use my laptop. I do most of my computering at my actual desk with a PC because I love a real keyboard and mouse and having two monitors. However, I’ve been getting really uncomfortable lately when I have to sit in a chair like a normal person for too long of a stretch. I actually have a nice chair but sitting with my feet on the ground is just making me feel ick and I have to decamp to lounge on the couch or bed more and more frequently. Is something wrong with me? Hard to say! I had a whole thing with my doctor this week where I told her I think something is wrong with me and she was like “it’s just vertigo.” I don’t feel like writing about all of that today but I lowkey think I have POTS or some form of dysatuonomia.


I’m still having fun doing my Wikipedia translations and last week I actually got a nice comment from a fellow Wikipedian! New pages go through review where a more experienced editor makes sure you’re not publishing something wild and crazy. My reviewer said, among other things, “Thank you for this article – an interesting subject and a nice translation!” Feels good! Here’s the article in question, if you’re curious.

Moving It

It’s dance recital time again! I’ll be performing in tap, jazz, and ballet on May 18. You can buy tickets here. If you’re reading this, you are invited!

My ankle is getting better and better even if it’s not all the way there yet. I was able to a little light jumping yesterday. I’m looking forward to not having to worry about my stupid ankle anymore! It’s exhausting to rehab something like this and I hope I never sprain my ankle again (even though I know that’s statistically improbable)!

Kitchen Witchery

I made pasta alla genovese with flagolet using the beans and fancy pasta from my Primary Beans subscription. I foolishly forgot to buy basil for the pesto element of the dish but I substituted parsley and I daresay I like it better that way. We had this asparagus tart with it, which looks very fancy but it simple. I ate leftover pasta for lunch most of the week but I added in some roasted carrots and goat cheese because that seems to be how I roll now. I’ve been doing a bit of baking too. This morning I made a batch of golden chocolate chip muffins and I added some flax because my liver demands flax (but my heart demands chocolate). I tried the triple chocolate olive oil brownies from the Snacking Bakes cookbook and I liked it a lot! I love butter, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice to have alternatives and try different ways of making food. I managed to make a nearly perfectly scored and handsomely brown loaf of bread yesterday. I think I used the “hearth bread” recipe from The Bread Bible, but I increased the wheat/all-purpose flour ratio (because my liver also demands whole grains).

Cat Therapy

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. Poor Huey cat got a UTI again, which we knew because she was peeing on the floor and not making it to the litter box. Fortunately, the vet was willing to dispense more medication for her without an exam since we were just there for the same thing two months ago. Huey is doing a lot better already and we are trying to figure out what in the environment is causing these issues. If anyone knows about preventing cat UTIs, I would love for you to share your wisdom.