My spice rack

Many areas of my life are not at all organized. But I do have a bit of (undiagnosed, probably colloquial in nature rather than clinical) ocd. When the world is falling apart, I get some relief from having certain things organized. Alphabetical books in the bookcases. Pens organized by color. Clips in their appropriate bins by size. Silverware, stationary etc. separated by type and organized in appropriate places in their appropriate drawers.  When I went into work and the supply cabinet was kept stocked, I would make sure the teas were organized by type (caffeinated one shelf, greens together, etc… after one botched restocking, I explained to the student workers the system I had put in place. Luckily they like me!). Many of these things are things you can’t see and maybe it doesn’t matter that I have piles of work papers all around me optimistically organized by vintage (newest stuff on top).

One of the things that must be organized alphabetically (and that makes me yell “Who has been messing with my system?!?” when it gets out of order) is my spice rack. Back when we were living in an apartment, spices lived alphabetically on set of cheap shelves in the living room because our kitchens were tiny (or, for two years, shared). When we moved here, I decided I wanted a rack like I’d seen on the backs of doors. Our pantry has enough room that we didn’t need to put it on the back of a door– this is screwed into the wall. I picked out wire rack modules at Home Depot and DH installed them.

Here are the top few shelves (currently I don’t have any little spices sticking out on top– we used up a few of the containers we had duplicates of [like Northwoods seasoning which is my favorite replacement for spice mixes like Emeril’s, blackening, cajun, etc.] so I was able to spread things out.)  The holes in the wall above the spice rack pre-date us.  I’m not sure what the previous owners had here because whatever it was they took it with them.  (They used the walk-in pantry mostly as alcohol storage!)

Here are the bottom three shelves where we keep bagged spices, also in alphabetical order.  It’s mostly Penzey’s but they were out of ground cardamom when we needed it (cardamom is one of my favorite spices) so I got some from nuts.com.  (In the jarred spices we’re mostly Penzey’s but I don’t mind having different jars so long as they’re about the same shape/size and, importantly, everything is in alphabetical order.  We have mostly Penzey’s not because I need all the yellow labels matching but because they have excellent quality spices at reasonable prices.  We are not getting paid to say that and they don’t know we exist.  It’s just a wonderful company in so many ways.  Pick up some of their Northwoods seasoning, and if you like things hot, their Berebere mix. Try their mixed seasonings to make flavored roasted nuts or put them in sour cream for a fun veggie dip.  *love emoji*)

You can see each shelf is connected to the wall by brackets that came with the shelf.

Here you can see that the shelf is modular– it’s composed of multiple sets.  You can also see the envelope we use to list the spices we’re going to need to get on our next Penzey’s run in The City.  Or, since the pandemic started, our next Penzey’s order.

I know these are not very pinteresty pictures– I think I had the light off and the pantry is a bit dark and I was too lazy to play with the lighting, but you get the idea.

To forestall people who question whether we can use all these spices before they go stale:  not always, but I would rather have a spice available and stale (meaning we have to use more of it) than to not have it at all.  We do go through our regular spices pretty quickly.

And… this is not all our spices.  We have a box on the floor to the side that is just different kinds of dried chiles (also alphabetical). On the shelves to the left in between the cereal bars and the crackers I keep different kinds of seeds and fancy salts.  On the shelves to the right between the chocolate bars and candied fruit we keep extracts and waters (and would keep food coloring and cake decorations if DC2 weren’t allergic to red dye).  Cocoa powder we keep in the back shelves with the flours.  Peppercorns are shelved, oddly, in front of the chocolate bars, but I think that’s just because it’s really easy access.  But still, a place for everything and everything has its place.

How do you keep your spices?  How do you self-sooth when the world is going crazy?

Are all iPhone 6s dying right now? Stupid planned obsolescence!

My iphone 6, purchased a mere 5 years ago, started having battery problems again.  This would be the second time it’s had battery problems, the first time being when they had that lawsuit.  It got down to 84% and I decided I might as well send it in before it got down to the recommended 80% while I was on Christmas break and not expecting to leave the house.  DH and DC1 both have phones, and I can text people using my iPad pro even if I can’t get calls.

So I sent it off (and immediately had a reporter want to call me, but we ended up zooming instead, which was nice because I was able to show him what I was talking about visually instead of using words).  Last time I got a battery replacement, I think we went to the city, but I’m not planning on going to a genius bar until after I’m vaccinated!

It made it to California and then I got an email saying it needed $299.99 worth of repairs, though it didn’t give any other information.  DH called the customer service link and they were like, yeah, the technician didn’t write down what the problem was so I can’t tell you.  But they’re not going to replace your battery unless you give them another $300.  You want us to send it back to you?  And DH was like yes please.  We’re certainly not going to get something repaired if we don’t know what it is being repaired for!

And three days later they still hadn’t sent it back, so I clicked the “please return to me” button when they emailed me to say we hadn’t told them what to do.  That didn’t seem to do anything either, but on the day they said they’d return it if they didn’t hear from us, I got an email saying they were returning it.  It came back and seems to be in the same working order as when I sent it, though I did have to switch off a bunch of personal data sharing that somehow magically got turned back on.

If this had happened before DH’s layoff, I would have gotten the iPhone 12 mini, probably a souped up version for like $900, given it to DH and then taken his iPhone 8 as my own.  Now I’m stuck trying to decide if I should do that (maybe with a less fancy version for $750) or get an SE which is only $450.  Right now I’m mostly at home with access to charging so the battery isn’t as bad a problem as it could be, so I might be able to put this decision off until the *next* iphone product comes out.  But once I’m spending more time outside of my house, especially if travel is involved, I will definitely need something that can hold a charge longer than my phone currently does.

I’m irritated because I do not really ask much of my phone, just websurfing (including youtube), google hangouts, email, and occasional map stuff.  I have only downloaded three apps (hotmail, hangouts, and google maps).  I spend most of my time on Safari.  I don’t need a fancy phone.  My iPhone 6 was fine.

My friend’s iPhone 6S’s battery is dying and she’s getting a new one.  I saw revanche complaining about her iPhone 6 on twitter.  I have to wonder if there’s some kind of planned obsolescence thing going on that doesn’t care how much or how little you use your phone or when you bought it.  It’s almost enough to make me want to try an Android.

Have you experienced planned obsolescence on your phone recently?  How do you decide when to get a new phone?  How do you decide which kind of phone to get? 

link love

I can’t believe school is starting already.  I’m teaching two sections of the same class, but one is in person and the other online, AND my department head just forced a senior who failed my class last year into one of my sections even though zie prefers being in the easier class that satisfies the same requirement because the head thinks that zie is going to get a B or higher in my class to replace the failing grade this time around while taking an overload when the reason zie did so poorly in both my classes was inability to manage time (the other class is almost a guaranteed A, but that failing grade would still be counted in GPA).  This is irritating because I would have planned things differently these last few weeks if I’d known someone who had taken the class last year was going to be in it.  But zie has promised to throw away all hir homework and exam solutions so zie won’t be tempted to share, so hopefully it will work out.  The other really irritating thing is that zie could have converted the low grade to an unsatisfactory last year AFTER grades were out and then it wouldn’t count in hir GPA (and then get an A in the other class, making it more likely that zie would graduate on time), but zie didn’t.

Yes, quarantine is giving you headaches and back pain and more.

This article on why we’re not wearing better masks was so good, that along with the Atlantic’s coup coverage, I decided it was time to give them money and subscribe.  I also clicked on the newsweek article they link to and bought some very expensive N95 and KN95 masks from one of the online places that newsweek recommended.  I think I’m going to double-mask while teaching with a disposable 95 and a cloth mask over.

The following trypod episode is long, but Eugene says some really brilliant things in it about bigotry.  Zach too.  I like all the trypod episodes I’ve listened to so far, but this one is a lot deeper and more thought-provoking than the standard fare:

Ask the grumpies: Any useful sex/pregnancy education books for young kids?

Julia asks:

Any useful sex/pregnancy education books for youngish kids? I have a 3 and 5 year old. They have a friend whose mother is pregnant and they are starting to ask pregnancy and “how babies are made” type questions. I want to be prepped and not super awkward about this. Any advice? The book “It’s Not the Stork” seems too advanced for 3 and 5 year olds, but maybe I’m mistaken.

I vaguely remember getting a very clinical description of where babies come from when I was five and my sister was on her way.  (I feel like it was connected to my mom’s Bradley classes?  Or maybe it was something specific for older siblings, I don’t remember… I just vaguely remember pictures of a woman’s reproductive system and one of those 3-d models of a pregnant woman’s belly).  I did not at all connect that with the naughty “sex” thing that showed up on tv all the time that my mom would say was a bit old for me and maybe I shouldn’t be watching.  (See:  Three’s company reruns, Moonlighting, etc.)

I don’t think we did anything for DC1 when DC2 was on the way.  Or maybe we checked out a bunch of stuff from the library?  I can’t actually remember!  So… not the best advice here.  Looking at some of the lists a lot of those covers look familiar, so I think we did get the Facts of Life by Miller and Pelham from the library and Baby on the Way by William and Martha Sears, though I think there was something off about it (and it’s for the situation where you are the one having a new baby, not a friend’s mom), and Being Born by Kitzinger and Nilsson.  The first and last are quite clinical.  I think we got Where do babies come from by Sheffield, but I feel like there was something off about it as well.

Here’s some lists of suggestions from Dr. Google:

Bellybelly

sexedresuce

kavanaugh report

In short:  Libraries are awesome– see what your library has on the topic and what works for you and your kids.

Grumpy Nation, do you have better recommendations?

RBOC

  • Courtney Milan and friends on twitter recently had a conversation about how at the core of a long-regency romance novel is that people want to be safe and that money is one way to be safe.  People want to marry a duke because that is the safest place to be in that time period.
  • I read a lot of long-regencies.  But I’ve also read a lot of mystery novels.  What has been interesting to me in my most recent juxtaposition, jumping from one to the other is how all these 1920s-1960s murder mysteries I’ve been binging on c/o Christie and Sayers make it very clear that it is *dangerous* to have money, especially if you are leaving it to other people and not charities.  If you have a lot of money you might as well put a target on your back.  People will marry you but then *kill* you.  They will come to your aid when you are sick, but only until you sign a new will in their favor.  Kind hearts and coronets.
  • I think it is not random that this transition between 19th century and 20th century measures of literary safety happens– the 1920s bring the strong rise of the middle class and forcing minor gentry to work for a living, though I guess the Mapp and Lucia series show that that element of society is still going strong into the 1930s.  And of course, Benson makes it clear (much like Jane Austen did before him) that idle hands truly are the devil’s playground and the idle wealthy are a ridiculous drain on society.
  • But I also want to have a lot of money because it helps me feel safe.  And I want to leave money to my children because I want them to be safe.  I like being able to escape.  But we won’t have enough money to make us worthwhile targets… and I would hope our children wouldn’t want us dead!  That’s a good reason for them to have their own income and careers.  We spend so much on investing in them so they can take care of themselves.  Which is another mistake that those 1920s victims make– they ask their children to live on their expectations rather than training them as solicitors or financiers or what have you.  No vocation, idle hands.
  • Though I guess finance is a bad choice, come to think of it, because a pretty common murder motive is needing funds to cover up embezzlement!  So maybe just stick to law.  Not medicine because they have too much access to poison.
  • Agatha Christie seems to be really pro-LGBT, particularly gay men.  It’s sometimes a plot point (won’t spoil it, one of her many plays).  Reading the mysterious Mr. Quinn it is quite lovely how in the first story she’s pretty clear, though using coded language, that the hero, Mr. Sattherwaite (who I think appears in the occasional Hercule Poirot when HP needs gossip, ah yes, wikipedia says he does) is gay, or possibly asexual (though in later short stories she gives him a failed marriage proposal).  In contrast, Sayers seems like a pretty awful homophobe, particularly when it comes to lesbians.  She straight up says pretty terrible things.  And yet, Sayers seems, on the whole, less anti-Semitic prior to WWII (as noted in an earlier post, Christie seems to realize she shouldn’t be anti-Semitic once the Nazis come into power).
  • When I was in elementary school, one of the children’s moms came in once a year to teach about Judiasm, usually around Hannukah.  I didn’t realize until I was much older that she did this to help combat antisemitism.  We also had a disabilities unit in 4th grade where we learned about different kinds of disabilities and how people worked around them and how to treat people we met who had disabilities. People would come in and talk to us about how to treat their seeing eye dogs and so on.  The learning specialist talked about how she taught people with dyscalculia to add (which… was how I did adding at the time).  It was a really wonderful program and definitely helped me not be a jerk or idiot when meeting new people.  I’m not sure we could do that these days because people would be too afraid of making mistakes.  And I’m sure there were stupid things we did, but on the whole all those old educational videos from the 1970s and the community volunteers themselves made us less likely to be harmful and more likely to support ADA legislation.
  • This blog really is a random mix of things.  I think that’s more unusual than it used to be?  But maybe not.
  • One of DH’s relative’s “friends” traveled to DC for the coup and stormed the capitol.  He was really excited about it and posted pictures and videos all over his social media.  Then he came home and found out that everyone he knew IRL was horrified and deleted all his social media and is pretending he didn’t go at all.  I hope the FBI finds him.
  • DH’s relative’s youngest (the only one in college) got an additional bill for $2K for last semester because financial aid was based on the number of people living in the household and so he included his oldest and her kid.  But, apparently the oldest got some kind of food assistance last semester (I don’t know if WIC or foodstamps or what) so the school decided she and her kid didn’t count as part of DH’s relative’s household, so they sent a retroactive bill for the difference(!)  That seems crazy to me.  (We paid it.  We don’t know how much this semester is going to cost even though classes start soon.)
  • Speaking of DH’s relative– he kicked a covid positive mask-denier “We’re all getting it anyway so who cares” off the work site where he was working twice.  The first time he threatened to kill the guy (“If you give me covid and my immunocompromised wife dies, I will hunt you down” “That’s not fair, you won’t know it was me”) , which in retrospect, he regrets.  The second time he called the guy’s boss and threatened to tell the city.  That actually worked.  It’s nice when doing the things we tell our kids to do (talk to a responsible adult when someone is being dangerous) actually works.
  • Speaking of anti-maskers, DH tried to get our car inspection sticker renewed and had to go to three places before he found one where the people were wearing masks (the dealership).  Except… after it was done the cashier had her mask around her neck instead of her face.  He also went to drop something off at a government office and didn’t realize until he’d left that none of the people working there even had masks.  7 people died yesterday and our ICU has been 130% full for almost a full week now.  The students aren’t back yet.  DH is shaken.  I wonder if I should start doing errands.  Maybe DH can do my work instead.  I’m not sure what I would have done in the moment, but I definitely would have reminded the cashier to put her mask up (I would have assumed it was an accident).  As for the government office, if I’d noticed, I think maybe I would have just left the item we were turning in on the inside of the door.
  • The library was still quite lovely for curbside, and Target curbside was great.  Hopefully he won’t have to do any more errands for a while.  I can pick up and drop off library books myself once my school starts since the library is on the way to work.  Also I’d completely forgotten that some people don’t wear masks because last week I went for my annual doctor’s visit and everyone at the hospital was masked without a single nose showing.  I switched hospital systems and it has made a HUGE difference.  Also everyone there was super nice and seemed genuinely happy to be working there, which is also really different.
  • The bad news though is that I am now obese(!) which I have NEVER been before (BMI exactly 30, but I’ve also gained a lot since my last checkup so it’s been a fast weight gain, which is the least healthy kind).  I had my glucose checked but it’s fine.  My bad cholesterol is up too– usually it’s nicely in the low to middle healthy range and only my good cholesterol is high.  The doctor’s notes say the cholesterol is fine, but the automatic thing says “borderline high”.  I’m having a bunch of other weird health problems too which I should probably just give their own post.  Pandemic is bad!  I’ve told DH he can still make bread but he needs to cut back on the sweets.  The children have noticed and have been complaining.

What are we doing to deal with the huge post-holiday Covid surge

The students are still gone, but our daily rates are higher than they have ever been, with new deaths every day and not just people ages 70+.  One of our admin just lost her father to Covid in town. Rates will only spike in mid-January when the students return.

I am teaching one section in person next semester.  This is going to be dangerous.  The course is limited to 15 students and there’s a wait list.  My two covid deniers from last semester are not in it, thankfully. (My other section is online.  I do not have a choice about either.)

Other than that, we are blessed that we do not have to do anything that puts us or our children at additional risk.  Most people are in situations where their jobs require them to be out with the public more than once a week and they don’t have full power to tell people to pull up their masks like I will.  Most people don’t have the ability to get all groceries delivered or done by curbside pickup.  These folks are at risk of getting covid themselves and spreading covid to others.  Those of us who can reduce the spread should because not everybody can.

SO, what are we doing?  (Bolding the things that are fun substitutes rather than sacrifices)

  1. DH and I are working from home when possible.  (Technically DH isn’t working anymore, but hey.)  This means that I go to work and then come home.  I also requested an 8am course so that there’s nobody before me and there’s a big gap after me (since usually classes start at 9:15).  Even so, I wipe everything I touch down with clorox wipes that I had to buy myself (and it is not easy buying clorox wipes!)  Students sit only in chairs that are 6 feet apart, which are actually 6 feet apart after I complained last summer to the department that the original dots on the chairs where only 1 foot apart on one dimension (they now skip rows, including the first row).  I do not let them touch each other.  When they share items I make them wipe them down with a wipe before if I catch them and squirt them hand sanitizer after.  Doing in-class activities has been a pain in the rear and I collected a lot of suggestions from students last semester about what to do and what not– it seems like pairs are doable 6 feet apart but triplets are not unless one person is zooming from home.  Some students liked sharing screens through zoom while still in the same room and some didn’t– one suggestion was for them to share a google doc which I think will work well.  I tell students that if they are the least bit sick they have to zoom in.  I enforce masking.  I don’t let them eat.  If I drink, I do it from behind the plexiglass (which doesn’t cover the entire board area, which is annoying).  If they drink, I tell them to use a straw if they can and keep the mask on as best they can.
  2. We’re only shopping curbside.  In the few rare cases in which we’ve had to go inside the store in the past (ex. the noodle place and the bibimbap place), we’ve made sure to order ahead so that we can just do a pickup rather than having to wait.  Basically I go to work and do curbside library stuff and DH does grocery, target, and home depot curbside (and takeout about once every two months which is not enough, but we do give big tips when we go).  DH and I do doctors visits.  I did a dentist thing this summer because I needed a crown and a root canal.
  3. We’re keeping our kids home (our school district allows us to choose).  This is definitely the safe decision for DC1 whose high school has at least one new case a day and was getting more like 4 new cases per day just before winter break.  Adding to that that mask enforcement and social distancing wasn’t happening in at least one of DC1’s classes (and the teacher caught covid right after we complained to the principal) and the principal sent out pictures of sports team pictures with only maybe 3 people masked… Now that they’re no longer sending out daily emails there’s a dashboard where we can see all the positive cases at each school (only a point in time info, but it does have the cumulative number), and our high school has about 4x as many cases as the other same-size high school.  For DC2 it would probably be fine to go to school– there have only been 8 cases so far and they’ve been drawn out across the semester.  But the virtual 4th grade teacher is amazeballs so we’re hoping to keep her as long as possible.  (It is really interesting looking at the elementary school data– one would think the numbers would map with SES and ability to not work or to work from home, but while the lowest number of covid cases is the richest college professor zone and the highest number of covid cases is the lowest income most working class zone, the rest of the numbers don’t map at *all* which makes me suspect that school leadership is important when it comes to covid spread.)
  4. We are not having in-person playdates.  I am not at all opposed to outdoor masked playdates, but DC2’s friends only want to do unmasked, so we said no and they stopped asking.  Two of them do have such playdates with each other.  Naturally these are the least safe members of the group– the third friend’s mom is more risk averse and would be safer, but of course, not doing in-person playdates correlates with all those other safe behaviors.  Update:  Just said no to a zoo birthday party after looking at the yelp page for the zoo and seeing lots of maskless selfies (or chin-mask selfies) and people complaining that masking isn’t being enforced.
  5. We have two regular weekly minecraft after-school playdates set up for DC2 and lots of other popup minecraft playdates.
  6. We didn’t visit extended family at Christmas.  Once the second wave hit and especially after the vaccine started coming out, MIL stopped suggesting it.  We now have hopes for summer.
  7. For Thanksgiving we had a socially distanced backyard meal with my sister and her boyfriend.  I was super careful and made sure we had separate tables that were 6 feet apart.  We kept masks on all times we weren’t eating.  I had separate paths set for bathroom use– they went through the garage to the guest bathroom and I had hand sanitizers taped to the door to the house on both sides.  We went through the patio and used the master bathroom or the kids’ bathroom.  For many of the food items (including all the appetizers and desserts), I made sure their table had its own bowls to serve themselves from.  For bigger things like the turkey, they went through first and hand sanitized before and after.  Then I had us use different serving spoons.  I also gave them a separate serving spoon for second helpings but they didn’t end up using it (I’m a bit less concerned about this because it seems like the virus is fragile on surfaces, but still…).  It was a bit tiring having to police the distance between my kids and my sister and I can see how easily if you’re not vigilant “safe” meetings can become unsafe.  Especially if not everybody attending is as careful as you are.  It’s easier to just not, which is why although we talked about doing Christmas at my sister’s patio in the end we just let that conversation not happen in time.  (The next day my kids went in the car for the first time since … last March?-we had to adjust the booster seat-for DC2- and August schedule pickup for DC1… to get flu shots.)
  8. We’ve done a couple of sessions of Crafting with Grandma on zoom, where DC2 and MIL just quietly work on crafts together punctuated by random conversations with DH and DC1 and FIL.  DC1 also did a Crafting with younger cousins on zoom.  (As the oldest by 6 years and very good with kids, DC1 is extremely popular with the younger cousins.)
  9. I’ve started buying a lot more fancy stuff online since we can’t go to the City.  I’ve already gotten a number of you hooked on nuts.com and we’ve spent some time talking about places other than amazon where we’re buying things.  Something remarkable has as well.
  10. Ringfit, exercycle, console dancing games, bicycling, unicyling (DC1 and DH), scootering (DC2), roller skating (DC2), all around the neighborhood, both masked (when outside and there are a lot of people out) and unmasked (indoors or outdoors when there’s few enough people that the road can be crossed if we see someone; this generally correlates with the weather).  I’ve also done a lot of walking around the house watching youtube videos while the kids are out exercising because I don’t want to have to put on pants (if I’m wearing pajama shorts and it’s cold out) or socks.

Something I want to highlight is that after 3/4 of a year of trial and error:  Zoom calls that are just straight-up conversations aren’t as good for the kids as are zoom activities. Having something that allows comfortable silences is way better than something that forces kids to keep talking.  And with kids, zoom is better than FaceTime, at least for the adult in question, because FaceTime involves lots of running around the house and flipping the screen and playing with filters and basically things that are too frenetic for anyone but the cool auntie (aka, my sister, who is just as bad as my kids with FaceTime).  There are a lot of crazy things they can play with on zoom, but there isn’t as much movement of the camera itself.

Playing minecraft with friends with zoom on in the background is better than just zooming (which was what we did last Spring and Summer until DC2’s birthday got us to research safe ways zie could have a party).  Playing Among Us with DH’s brother’s kids didn’t work out so well, though part of that was they couldn’t get audio to work so everything was chat-based which isn’t as fun.

Doing crafts at the same time with Grandma works better than just talking with Grandma.  It’s almost like actually being at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  We’ve done this twice so far and it’s just really nice.  DH and DC1 stop by and chat while DC2 and Grandma work on their own things.

We also set up an origami teaching demonstration with DC1 and the two older kids of DH’s sister because Nana had all four kids and suggested we try that while she looked after the babies.  So DC1 taught the 7 year old and the 5 year old to make fortune tellers and then did a few coin tricks.

Here’s an ask the grumpies from this summer about things to look forward to in the summer (also has a list of stuff we’ve been buying online).  Here’s a “what are you doing for fun?

What safe(r) things have you been doing?  (Note:  any bragging about doing unsafe things will be deleted.  Keep your secret shame secret and try not to hurt people.)

Link Love

Wow, this link love seems quaint… we have already forgotten the scandal of him trying to get the Georgia AG to falsify ballot results.

If you haven’t called your members of congress to support impeachment proceedings and to get Cruz and Hawley to resign, you can still do that today! (or fax or email etc.) More MOC need to sign on ASAP and they’ll do that if they hear from you! They’re already hearing from the nutty people that are pretending to believe the election was stolen– they need to hear from their silent sane constituents. Even if they’re democrats, even if they’re republican. They still need to hear from you.

Read this thread—I wish I’d read it before getting my congressman himself on the phone.

Another thought provoking thread about what to call the white supremacist seditionists who stormed the Capital.

Ask the grumpies: What above-range microwave/hood should we get?

Ewan asks:

Your dishwasher-slash-grossness post prompted me to ask you to ask your (apparently well-informed on appliances!) readership: recommendations for an above-range microwave/hood? Our Kitchenaid just hit the ‘too old and expensive to be worth fixing’ point after 12 years; the kitchen really needs the microwave there even though we probably wouldn’t do it if starting over. External venting. Thanks!

Oooh, I hate the above range microwave.  We had one on our last sabbatical (that was also a convection oven) and it was so annoying.  I would pay a lot of money to just get a normal hood and then put a regular microwave on the counter.  But you may not have counter space, and it may not be worth the money to counteract those crazies who thinks countertop microwaves must be hidden from view.  (You may also be tall.)

Consumer reports talks about their choices here.

Good housekeeping favors the samsung (though tbh, good housekeeping doesn’t generally agree with other rating sites).  Bob Vila also plugs a Samsung.

The Spruce likes the GE.  The Chicago Tribune agrees.  So does the NYTimes.

So… it looks like most places think you should get a GE or a Samsung.  Probably the GE.  (Disclaimer:  We are not experts!  Do your own research or consult experts before making important life-changing decisions.)

If you want to get fancy, you can get one that doubles as a convection oven, but we never did use ours more than once or twice even though we cook a lot.  Maybe if you were more into convection baking?  But it’s still such a pain to have hot stuff so far up there.  I think we’d probably use a convection oven more if it were closer to the ground.

Grumpy Nation, what advice do you have for Ewan?

URGENT: Calls for democracy TODAY (Please call or fax!)

Yes, I, too would rather be discussing the merits of different organizational systems.  But Democracy is more important.

US citizen readers, I need you to do the following things today.

Call or Fax your Members of Congress:

Call your members of congress https://myreps.datamade.us/ (<–note:  may be out of date if you have a new MOC from the last election)— senators and congressperson and demand that:
1. Trump be impeached or resign
2. Cruz resign
3. Hawley resign

Why?  If you missed the news and were actually able to work yesterday:  These three people helped incite a riot and attempted coup which resulted in congress being evacuated and at least one death.  So far only 25 people have been arrested (earlier numbers said 13) and possibly some congressional police have been fired for their part in helping protestors in, but that may be an internet rumor.  Washington Post is calling for impeachment and resignations.  We should be too.

If you can’t leave a message, you can send a fax https://faxzero.com/fax_senate.php ,
If you can’t do that, you can send an email or a postcard (or keep trying).

Do this if your MOC are democrats (they need the support) or Republicans (they can put pressure AND they will learn that they cannot join the seditionists with impunity).

Next:  Check to see if your Congressperson is on this list of 138 congresspeople who voted to overturn a free and fair election.  If so, then call them and tell them it was wrong.  I called at 5am this morning and my congressman himself answered the phone and tried to convince me that the debate on the floor made it clear… he hung up on me when I called him a traitor to democracy.  It’s not likely that your congressperson will answer themselves (and fax if you don’t want to talk!), but they need to know that attempted coups are unacceptable.  How much further can they go?  Do we want to let them find out?  [NOTE:  IF THERE WAS AN ELECTION IN YOUR DISTRICT, your congressperson may have changed!  The new congresspeople have been seated. https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative]

After you’ve made your calls, could you ask a friend or tweet or send to a mailing list or something to get the word out so that more people call?  We need to save democracy.  There was an attempted coup yesterday.  It needs to be punished swiftly and with great strength and I’m not sure our leaders have the bravery to do so unless they feel like their constituency is behind it.  And the republicans who supported the coup need to know they cannot keep subverting democracy.

Let me know in the comments that you called/faxed!  Share any scripts you found useful!

RBOC

  • DH’s relative’s mom is the first person we know to have gotten the full vaccine.  She works in IT at a small rural hospital.  But it makes sense that she got vaccinated in the first round even though urban hospitals didn’t have enough vaccines to get all of their doctors and nurses vaccinated for logistics reasons.  This way the hospital can get everybody on staff in one round and they don’t need to worry about shipping another pair of doses to the same hospital.  MIL says that many of the even smaller rural hospitals aren’t getting any of the Pfizer vaccine at all because they cannot afford to invest in the refrigeration, so they’re not going to vaccinate until the Moderna vaccine is available.  I wonder if the cold storage units can move across different small hospitals after they get their staff done, or if they just stay there until there are doses available for patients.  If Hillary Clinton were president, her Covid Czar would have had an entire team on best practices for logistics.
  • DH’s relative’s oldest has driven across the country to move herself and her five year old into a relative’s shed with no plumbing and a space heater for heat.  (Not a snowy area, thankfully.)  CPS is going to find out and take her kid away.  Who thought this was a good idea?!??  (Not DH’s relative, but she’s in her 20s so he really has no say.)
  • Did I mention before that DC1’s science class had a Chemis-Tree?  And DC1 made a very tiny snowflake for extra credit– an origami H2O molecule?  (Zie got full points.)
  • There are not one but TWO leg lamps from a christmas story in our neighborhood.
  • On Dec 23, my sister was like, “what should I make for Christmas dinner” and I was like, “just order something” and she was like, it’s too laaaate.  And I was like, “we always have luck with ethnic restaurants even if you can’t order like a turkey dinner” and she was like, ooh, how about that Mediterranean place.  And then I looked at their Christmas catering menu and suggested stuff.  And then she got it all plus “a broccoli thing BF wanted.”  So either my sister and I have very similar tastes, she’s super tired of picking out food, or she trusts my food suggestions completely.  I think I missed my calling as Grand Duchess presiding over menus.
  • I am beginning to suspect that people who bullet journal just don’t have as much stuff to do as I do.  (A lot of their journals are completely inconsistent with GTD in that a lot of those lines could be done in under 30 seconds, so should just be done instead of being written down.)
  • I was looking at a bullet journal thread that Maureen Johnson started asking for advice on simple bullet journal designs.  And… like a third of them were just rustic hand-drawn versions of the Moleskine weekly planner that I favor.  So… why not just buy a Moleskine weekly planner?  Both the planner and the Moleskine blank bullet journal cost about $20 each… why not get the one that takes less work?  Where do they find the time to write all those boxes out by hand?!?!
  • I mean, I want to be more organized.  And I haven’t settled on a single combined system to help with that.  And I do find myself gravitating back to paper whenever I try to go digital (though Trello has definitely been added to my project planning!  It’s mostly best for smaller projects with multiple RAs though.  It tends to get unwieldy with bigger projects.)
  • What I’m currently doing is using a Moleskine lab notebook that DH decided not to use because he prefers some other company to Moleskine for lab notebooks.  (I like black hard-cover Moleskine.)  I don’t bullet, but I’ve been using it in place of the scratch paper lists and blue-lined NBER pads of paper (and the occasional google docs) I had been using previously.  It makes less of a mess.  Though I also have my weekly planner and have a stapled printed out copy of google calendar.  And Trello. These all serve different purposes.  DH takes care of putting all family things into the google calendar that warns him of things like music lessons for the kids.  It is not streamlined.  But I don’t think bullet journaling would help.  It would just take place of the lab notebook and be prettier and less flexible, depending on the system.  (There are a lot of systems.)
  • I switched to the Moleskine notebook because I found a pen I really liked from a jetpens sampler pack (enerGel Clena– it is very thin but not scratchy) and I just didn’t feel like I could use scratch paper anymore.  Though I couldn’t find the kind of Moleskine notebook I wanted (it was out of stock) and would still be using paper anyway if DH hadn’t found this old notebook of his when he was clearing out his old office.  (Now “nice kitty’s room,” while he’s back to sharing my home office now that he no longer needs to have space for things like disembodied torsos.)
  • To be clear, I’m talking about bullet journaling as a organization device, not a as a mindfulness/journaling device or as a piece of art.  I’ve got the blog for journaling(!)  And… I got enough art in middle school.  I’d rather leave that to other folks with better small motor skills and more interest.
  • Courtney Milan sent me some Washi tape.  It is the only washi tape I have, but I can’t use it!  It’s from Courtney Milan!  (No, she probably does not remember me, but I did win an auction from her.)
  • The basic bullet journal idea doesn’t seem so bad.  Maybe I’ll try it once I get done with this Moleskine (but pre-printed and inflexible!), or maybe I’ll get a vertical weekly planner with a right-hand side for to-do lists in 2022.  Most likely I will forget!
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