I need an Activism Pep-Talk

It is really hard staying active for longer than two years.  Especially after working overtime and way out of (my) one’s comfort zone prior to an election.  Last year from January to the end of December I gave myself a rule that I would do one political action every day and if I didn’t make a phone call or write a letter or campaign or register people to vote or protest, I would donate $25 to a political cause.  This past semester I was overloaded with service and behind on research and teaching a prep I hadn’t taught in a decade and I gave myself a break.  I was tired and everything was so overwhelming.  I didn’t stop completely– I probably averaged one action a week, give or take.  But it’s been hard.

I’m not the only one, I know.  My regular twitter feeds have toned down the encouragement to protest (wandsci a notable exception!). Our local indivisible group has dissolved. My activism page is out of date.

My favorite actions newsletter stopped sometime last winter.  I haven’t found one that I like as much.  I could just go to 5calls everyday but it’s challenging to remember to do that and to get up the energy to do it.

There’s just fewer nudges in my life and less stuff making it easy to just do something.  It’s hard to get up the willpower to get over the bigger hurdles.

But it is important that we not give up.  This is a pivotal time in history.  We are in a constitutional crisis with the executive branch denying the congressional branch its powers and the senate refusing to step up to try to enforce them.  Record numbers of truly evil people who do not believe in the personhood of women or minorities are getting confirmed as judges, meaning that we will not be able to trust our judicial system to save us.  Voting rights are being stripped.  Children are dying.  States are positioning themselves to overturn Roe vs. Wade with some of the most restrictive anti-woman legislation in half a century.  We Cannot Give Up.  We Must Fight.

We need to put pressure on our elected officials at all levels.   Locally.  At the state level.  At the federal level.  We cannot let things stand.

Whenever we get complacent, they take more of our rights away.  They try more things.  When we fight back, they ease off.

So, summer is starting.  It’s time to devote some time to activism again.  This summer, starting today, I am going to try to go back to doing something every weekday, whether it be a call to my state legislators or my members of congress or writing postcards to voters or donating to Raices Texas where they’re working diligently to keep families from separation or swingleft or indivisible to take the senate and the presidency in the next election or organizations that help keep people being allowed to vote like fair fight in Georgia where a stolen election emboldened the Republican party to criminalize a woman’s right to her own body.  I don’t think a person needs to do something every day, but I find it easier to do a little bit every day rather than doing a bunch all at once.  My DH would do his actions early in the week to get them over with, back when we were getting a weekly newsletter.

I need help.  I need to feel like I’m not alone.

Help me.

What can we do?  What do you do?  What works for you?  How can we move forward and fight?  Is anyone else trying to be politically active this summer? 

Advertisements

Help me with countertops! (Please?)

Grumpy Nation!  I need your help!

So… we want to have countertops made out of quartz (or granite) that look like marble.

There are… options.

Which one?

Home Depot has two companies that make quartz.  One is Silestone and the other is Viatera.  Here’s the pictures we took at Home Depot and then the one on the right is the two Viatera samples we picked up (they didn’t have any other samples — that third picture shows minuet, a quarter, then rococo, and they’re on top of our current terrible countertop).

The main difference between the different kinds of marble-ish quartz seems to be density and darkness of the grey lines.  Rococo is busier than Minuet.  White Arabesque is busier than Snow Ibiza and so on.

Also there’s two different types of marble that the quartz is trying to imitate.  Calacatta marble is the one with the fat long marbling– it reminds me of bathrooms more than kitchens, and the quartz example counter at Home Depot looked like formica to me (though oddly, there was a great looking formica knockoff– if only you couldn’t see the seams).  I like Carerra style marble instead– that’s the one with the shorter lines.  (I guess there’s also statuary marble, but I haven’t seen any quartz knock-offs for that– probably some of what I think is Calacatta is actually imitating statuary, but without any additional color.)

One problem that I have is that I cannot extrapolate those small samples to an entire counter.  Are the busy ones too busy?  The sparse ones too sparse?

Viatera has a great webpage with lots of pictures of their different options.  When you click on a stone, it shows you a slab and pictures of completed counters.  The Silestone page is a nightmare to navigate.   (I am also really irritated with a half-dressed Cindy Crawford [only wearing a top, for tops on tops, get it?] sitting on a kitchen counter on their first page and if you accidentally click it, you see a guy WEARING SHOES standing on top of another counter.  I MAKE FOOD ON THAT COUNTER.   GET OFF.  Also, WTF, aren’t women making most of these design decisions?  Supermodels are not doing it for me.)

I found a fantastic discussion on a houzz forum with pictures talking about quartz alternatives for marble.

The prices in the first picture are mostly the “non-sale” prices because apparently there’s some kind of sale going on, but it isn’t an easy to explain one, so I don’t actually know how much they cost or even their prices compared to each other.

What should I be thinking about as we decide on a countertop design?  How are we going to decide among all of these different kinds?

How thick?

The internet thinks I should be choosing between 2 cm with 3 cm edging or just straight up 3cm.  But home depot only seems to have 2 cm and 4 cm?  I’m not really sure that’s true though… How should we decide on thickness?

Edging?

Almost all the kitchen countertops we’ve seen online have either sharp rectangular corners or softer “eased” rectangular corners.  But there’s a huge wealth of different edging options. Should we just do what everyone else is doing or are there benefits to other forms of edging?

Other recommendations?

We have no idea what we’re doing.  Any suggestions on counterops would be highly welcome?

Grumpy nation!  Help a grumpeteer out!

p.s.  Several of my colleagues have built their houses from scratch and that sounds like a nightmare.  I get anxious just imagining it!

What is your favorite kind of stuffing?

#1:  Stuffing is one of my favorite foods ever.  LOVE it.  I love all kinds.  We just had an amazing fennel and onion stuffing (with whole wheat bread crumbs) in a fancy pork tenderloin dish.  Amazing.

But my favorite stuffing is homemade cornbread stuffing with lots of butter and celery and onions and carrots and apples and either walnuts or pecans (whichever we have).  Delish!  I have been known to make up to four different kinds of stuffing if we have a lot of people to serve.  Sage wheat bread stuffing made with sage wheat onion bread (a recipe from a show that is no longer on PBS about a monk who baked).  Plantation stuffing that has cornbread and wheat bread and rice and takes a while to make.  I’ll add cranberries to another, and then just have one plain (with the standard onion/celery stuff but no additions) for picky eaters.   When I’m out and about I love seafood stuffing and sausage stuffing even though I don’t generally make them myself.

#2:  um, cornbread and andouille sausage?  I’m not a big stuffing fan, honestly.  Seafood is gross and chestnuts are meh.  (p.s.  I hate cooked celery and also wild rice.)

Mmmmm stuffing.

What’s yours?

My iphone 6 is dying

I got my first smartphone 3 years ago when we were on leave in Paradise.  Not wanting to spend a zillion dollars, we got a new iPhone 6 instead of an iPhone 7 or whatever the latest model was at the time.

When I was at a conference this summer, it started eating the battery quickly every time I unplugged it, pretty much after it updated to the latest IOS 11.4 something.

I don’t have many apps.  I don’t even use my iphone that much except for hangouts, surfing the internet, calling my senators, and google maps.  I don’t have a whole lot of apps installed.

I went through all the online things about how to figure out what’s going wrong and how to save power.  I turned lots of switches from green to not-green.  I noted that my analytics was constantly updating the required things like amdd, whereas DH’s updated them rarely.  I put myself on battery saver mode most of the time.  The problem seems worst when there’s trouble with internet or cell coverage, so it may be something there, but the last two hot and hard crashes were in my bedroom where service is not usually a problem.

The only remaining possible software problem, the internet suggested, was IOS 11.4.  The IOS 12 update should fix that problem.

I waited for the IOS 12 update.  It never came.

My phone battery life dropped to 94%.  Then 92% after a major crash in which it heated up and then blacked out.  Then it dropped to 78% after another major crash while on safari that didn’t involve overheating.  Now it says it needs to be serviced.  Right before a trip that requires 4 hrs of driving, of course.  (I will take my laptop and the garmin and the ipad, so I won’t be completely stuck.)

The nearest certified apple services are over an hour away (and sadly not in the same place as my roadtrip).

So, do I get a new phone and then get this one serviced and hand it down to DC1 after it has a new battery?  Or do I go phoneless for however long it takes to send it some place and get it back?  Or is there a different option I should pursue?  We can afford a new phone, but I really don’t need one, except that I need a phone, preferably one that runs google maps.  Plus the battery alone is ~$80 (the iphone 5 didn’t get a discount for the throttling thing they were doing a while back), and labor is probably more.  Update:  Actually it is an iPhone 6 and it is covered under the discount thing.  So I should just send it in or spend a weekend in the future at an apple store in the city, though I’m not sure I can wait that long.

what should I do?  What would you do?

Do you twirl your spaghetti?

And if you do, do you use a spoon to assist with the twirls?

What are your thoughts on cutting spaghetti noodles?  Pro/Con/Ambivalent?

#1:  I twirl but don’t use a spoon. A very small part of me cringes at the thought of cutting spaghetti noodles, but the bulk of me thinks it makes total sense.  This is somewhere around the level of split infinitives for me, maybe some other grammar thing that I don’t do in formal writing myself but don’t mind when others do it.  (I’m pretty sure I occasionally split infinitives in formal writing.)

#2:  Yes twirl, no on the spoon, I think cutting it is wrong but my dad does it (and I continually give him [excrement] for it)

Do you track your net worth?

#1:  I really don’t.  Our long-term finances are kind of a mess.  We have so many different accounts with different providers.  (The paranoid part of me thinks this might be a benefit if the fascist government cracks down on dissidents– we might be able to get to Canada or another safe harbor and transfer at least a subset of our accounts before they figure out all of them… hopefully.  We’ll see.  Or hopefully this won’t actually happen.)  I do track some of our accounts on mint (but mint often double-counts things or can’t log into things, so even that number isn’t accurate) and I monthly track our savings and checking account because I need to know whether or not we’re on track for the unpaid summer.

I think I’ve calculated our entire net worth 3 times in the past 11 years.  (Back in graduate school it was easier– our networth was just our checking and saving (and DH’s student loans…) and then later a few etrade accounts).  Each time it’s come as a bit of a pleasant shock.  I think that’s what happens when you wait a long time between calculations and keep spending less than you earn.  (Markets going up has also helped.)  Knowing it is above a number has helped me loosen up on spending, so it’s probably just as well I don’t look more often (assuming it is going to keep going up… I might need to recheck in case of a major market meltdown).

#2:  I have never done so before. Well, back before retirement accounts I guess I did because there wasn’t anything to track. Retirement accounts are worth such a varying amount from month to month. Thinking about retirement account balances is stressful, so I just put money in and don’t think about it too much.


Do you track your net worth? If so, how often?

Locally specific manners? Reading at the dinner table edition

Do you let your kids read at the table?  I feel like this used to be impolite but personally, I have no problem with it.  When I was growing up, at home we were allowed to read at lunch (my dad still does).  But we were not allowed to read at the dinner table.

I’m lucky that my parents supported and modeled that reading for fun is a great thing to do.  My dad’s mother was also a big reader, and as a result so are most of her children.  I think it’s ok to read in restaurants and bars (if you can concentrate).  My nightmare is a person who sits on a plane next to me and brings nothing to do except talk.  What did you plan to do for this six-hour flight, just stare into space???

Do you think reading at the dinner table is rude or perfectly ok?

#2 who has kids hasn’t really given this much thought but her kids do read at the dinner table sometimes.  We’re much more informal about meals than we were growing up though and sometimes eat standing up in the kitchen.  #2 also cannot handle the middle-seat chatterbox who has run out of the airplane magazine.  #2 wants to read novels uninterrupted on planes!