So Much Adulting

The last four days have been a whirlwind of adulting. It’s been kinda exhausting.

Friday we had someone from AAA Furnace over to service our HVAC. Everything seems to be in good shape. I hung out to do anything needed inside (mostly adjusting the thermostat while he did his tests), partly because COVID, and partly because kittens.

Saturday was the big day, though.

After working out in the morning we went to Airport Appliance to buy a new refrigerator (per previous entries). We decided to go with this French door model by Beko, a Turkish company which is apparently huge in Europe and has been in the U.S. for about five years. It’s devilishly hard to find out how reliable fridges are – even if you find that one has been great, it was probably made 5 or more years ago, been discontinued, and who knows if the current models are as good. Internet reviews are generally useless, partly because a lot of them are just complaining, and partly because a review from someone who’s had their fridge for 6 months or less isn’t that helpful for reliability.

We had an additional wrinkle in that the space for our fridge is only 70” tall, and many fridges are a bit taller than that. It turns out we actually have more space if we remove or trim the bracket immediately above the fridge, but we’d already made a decision when I realized that. Good to know for next time.

Anyway, we’re replacing a 13-year-old GE fridge, and not many companies make counter-depth fridges fridges that are 69” high. GE makes several, but I’ve heard bad things about their newer models, and frankly we were not very impressed with the apparent build quality or the styling of those models. Whereas the Beko seemed generally more solid and we really liked the look of it.

We did buy the extended warranty, which means it should work for at least that long, right? Right??

Afterwards we had lunch at Yiassoo (a longtime favorite which has substantially improved their patio seating during the pandemic), and then came home and took Jackson and Sadie to the vet for their annual checkup. This was the first time Sadie rode in a carrier by herself, since we’d always brought her with Roulette. And she yowled the whole way there and back. Jackson was also unhappy, and even peed in the carrier on the way home. But, both of them are healthy and that’s what matters.

(Simon and Edison seemed to barely notice that we were all gone.)

After all that I went down to pick up some books I’d ordered from Books Inc., and did a grocery run.

In the evening I managed to find COVID vaccinations for Monday, about which more later.

Sunday was finally a quieter day. We went to the farmer’s market in the morning, and in the afternoon I wrapped up our taxes, which will be filed this week. I also did a Magic draft which I am playing out this week before Strixhaven comes out, and the first game was totally bonkers, lasting well over half an hour. (I won with 6 cards left in my deck!)

This morning we found that our fridge has gone out again, so we moved stuff into our chest freezer (which has plenty of space even with the stuff we’ve already put in it) and mini-fridge (which is pretty packed now). The new fridge will be delivered on Thursday, and what a relief that will be.

And finally today we went to Levi’s Stadium to get vaccinated. Despite having a little trouble finding the entrance, everything otherwise was smooth and easy. It took about an hour and a half including driving time. We joined House Pfizer, and six hours later neither of us has had any reactions, though apparently they could show up tomorrow. It’s great to finally be on our way! We rewarded ourselves with treats from McDonald’s on the way home. And I’ve been telling cow-orkers about our experience so they have some idea what to expect when signing up.

And today there was the police shooting of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis. I’m sure smarter and more informed people than me (probably none of them Republicans) will have a lot useful to say about this, but one thought I have is that if we’re not going to take guns away from the cops, let’s take tasers away from them. Tasers aren’t particularly safe either, and cops mistaking their tasers for guns is bad news. If all they have to fire is a gun, then at least they know what they’re signing up for when they draw their weapon.

In any event, there’s nothing I’ve read that says to me that Wright’s actions even merited tasing. What the hell was the cop thinking? Were they even thinking?

So, that’s been a lot of stuff, even just considering our stuff. I’m looking forward to the fridge being delivered, and dealing with much less stuff for a couple of weeks.

WandaVision

WandaVision

Ah, WandaVision… such a great start, and then you went careening off the rails, heading down a path you should have avoided. Such wonderful acting, such amazing production quality, but ultimately, a terribly disappointing story.

There was a lot to enjoy about this first major TV series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (I don’t really count Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as it quickly disconnected itself from the MCU and played in its own space), but it could have been much more than it was.

More – with spoilers – after the cut:

Continue reading “WandaVision”

Lukewarm

This week’s unwanted excitement is that our freezer crapped out again. Worse, it did so on Monday, which was the last day of a 4-day weekend I’d taken off from work. So instead of a relaxing day reading and watching television, it was instead a day of stress and anxiety.

Last time we unloaded the freezer into a cooler and that night it started working again. This time we didn’t do that, and by Tuesday afternoon both the refrigerator and freezer were up around 54°F – not good for either one. We lost all of the food in the freezer except for a few things that we’d just been storing for long term, like some Girl Scout thin mints. There wasn’t anything in there that was a big loss – it’s all easily replaced – but it was a bummer.

But we did put some backup plans in motion. First we went to Home Despot and bought a mini-fridge, so that we can have, you know, cream for our morning coffee. And also butter. And eggs. Essentials. We also ordered a chest freezer, which is a bit less of an extravagance since we’ve been thinking for a while of getting one, as we always feel like we need more freezer space. Whether we need this much more freezer space, I don’t know, but it is just about the smallest model. It should be fine. Load it up with ice cream!

Of course, after we emptied the freezer of the spoiled food, the thing started working again. It lasted a couple of months after the last incident, and I suspect each time the problem was blocked air flow, possibly some vent getting iced over. So it might be fine for a few more months or longer. But, the fridge is about 13 years old and that’s near the lifespan of such appliances, so we’re going to replace it.

Figuring out what to replace it with, and from where, is the next trick. All of our kitchen appliances are GE, probably because our builder bought a package when he furnished the kitchen. But GE fridges don’t seem very reliable these days from what I’ve read (and from comments from friends). A few other brands also get low marks by word-of-mouth. So we’re leaning towards Whirlpool, Maytag, or maybe Frigidaire. A friend also said they had a good experience with Fisher Paykel, about which I know nothing. Debbi is intrigued by this Whirlpool model. But mainly we know we need a counter-depth model, and we’d like a french door design with a bottom freezer. That cuts out a lot of the options, so we’ll get what we get. And hopefully get another year out of it.

(How soon we get it is yet another question, as apparently there are some long delays in appliance delivery due to disruptions in the global supply chains.)

I’m kind of kicking myself for not having moved on this two months ago, but, it’s water under the bridge at this point.

So, it’s been kind of a lousy week because of all this. The fridge and the oven are the two appliances we really can’t do without during a global pandemic. But hopefully we’ll have it worked out soon.

Remembering Roulette, 2003-2021

Roulette passed away today. She’d been slowly declining since last fall, and had been on a drug to help with arthritis. But in the last week and a half her decline accelerated, and the drug didn’t seem to help anymore. She had trouble walking and keeping her balance, so we were able to move up her planned vet appointment from Saturday to today. She was down to about 4-1/2 pounds, and the vet agreed that it was time.

Debbi adopted Roulette along with her brother Blackjack in 2003 when they were two months old. She was part of a pod of six kittens being fostered, and we think she was technically Blackjack’s aunt, but who knows, really? When we visited them she was playing by herself with a plastic rose, and she wasn’t very well socialized. But she (barely) tolerated me picking her up. Her foster name was Opal, but Debbi changed it to Roulette to match her brother’s theme. Plus she was a beautiful calico, so it seemed to fit.

Debbi brought them down from her apartment to my townhouse every weekend, and at first we confined them to the front bedroom. A week or two after she adopted them, she went back to visit her family, leaving me to sit for them. This turned out to be when we learned that Roulette had a tapeworm, so I got to give her a pill for it, and also clean up the worm segments (yuck!). Fortunately the pill did its job and she suffered no ill effects.

One day I was downstairs reading, and I looked up to see Roulette on the stair landing. “Hello little girl, what are you doing out of your room?” She had figured out how to climb the baby gate we’d put up and had started exploring. They got their full freedom not long after that.

Roulette latched on to my cat Jefferson as her best friend – and gave him no choice in the matter. She would also wrestle with Blackjack, but she loved to sleep with Jefferson.

She hated riding in the car. For a while Debbi let them out of their carrier when driving down to my place, but that ended the night Roulette escaped from the car after Debbi had parked, ran across the street, and hid in the back of my condo complex. After 2 hours of searching we finally found her and brought her inside. So she was probably happier than anyone when Debbi moved in with me.

Roulette also chose me as her human. Honestly I think she just liked men better than women. She was a little on the shy side, but after one party Debbi said, “Did you notice that Roulette came down and said hi to everyone?” “No,” I replied, “Roulette came down and said hi to all the men.” She was pretty happy to seek attention from male house guests we had, too.

Roulette had a rough time starting in 2010, when Jefferson (2010), Blackjack (2012) and Newton (2013) all passed away. Plus we moved to our current house in 2011, and we adopted Jackson and Sadie just before Blackjack passed away. I think it was too much for her. Plus Jackson became aggressive and harassed her, and unlike Newton who put him and Sadie in their place, Roulette instead just spent more time under the bed. I think it wasn’t until 2014 or 2015 that she started to behave more normally, carving out some preferred places to sleep, and standing up to Jackson. She probably would have preferred to be an only cat, and my one regret is that we weren’t able to give her a new feline family she could relate to.

Roulette was very playful when she was younger, but played much less after that. Granted she was over 10 years old when she got over her (I assume) depression, but I think she just wanted to be snuggled and didn’t want to attract the attention of Jackson. I could get her to play with the right toy as long as she didn’t have to leave the couch, but that happened less and less.

She did, however, love catnip and especially wet cat food. “Is it time?” was a phrase which would perk up her ears and often get her running over to the kitchen in anticipation of the paté goodness. Sadie and Jackson both have an on-again-off-again interest in wet food, but she loved it.

We warned her that if she lived long enough she might have to deal with more kittens, and she was about as thrilled as you can imagine by the arrival of Simon and Edison. On the other hand, these kittens also adore wet food, and I like to think that it helped acclimate her to them. Edison was also a bit of a bully to Rou, but he couldn’t bully her off of a bowl of wet food. Simon tried more gently to cozy up to her, and I think she tolerated him.

The last year or so she started sleeping with us at night, usually between my legs. Over the last couple of weeks she moved up to sleep between us, or even right next to my chest. I guess she was not feeling well and just wanted to be closer to us. She had her usual helpings of wet food, and she got one last comic book night with me last Wednesday. I think the others knew she wasn’t feeling well, as they gave her more space. She also became addicted to drinking water out of running bathroom faucets, and would sometimes meow at us to come water her.

Last week she growled at a cat who came up on our back porch. Defending our house to the end!

Our vet has not been allowing people inside for check-ups since COVID-19 started, but they make an exception for pets’ final moments, so we were able to go in and be with her at the end. She hated the car, she hated the vet, but we gave her a space to feel safe at the end. Old kitties are not very demonstrative with their emotions, but I hope she knew we were trying to make her more comfortable.

She was a willful, demanding kitty, but she was our willful, demanding kitty.

Thanks for everything, little girl.

One Year of Covid-19

These first two weeks of March mark one year since many Americans found their lives changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. March 9, 2020 was my last day in the office – I went in once more to collect my equipment to work at home, and then I wouldn’t go in again until a day in December when I had to clean out some stuff from where I’d been contributing to the M1 Macintosh project. And then again this past Friday to pick up a package I’d accidentally gotten sent to work.

That first month was downright weird. I continued my morning run, and added one or two walks per day as well. But I hardly saw anyone most mornings. There was one morning that I counted five people on my run. I did our runs to the grocery store by myself, staying distant from other people and sometimes admonishing them for not following the arrows for the one-way aisles. Masks weren’t yet a thing.

By the end of March my comics shop had temporarily closed, though it reopened later in the spring and has stayed open since. We ordered a lot of take-out, and cooked at home, discovering a few new recipes.

My wife has mostly avoided going out. The one trip she’d do every week would be to the Mountain View Farmer’s Market, which ironically is one of the busiest places I ever go. Otherwise she’d drive me places to get take-out.

The fear of that first month drained away over the next couple of months, maybe due to exhaustion more than anything else. Not that we were being less diligent, just less fearful. We got together with friends, keeping 6 or more feet apart for drinks in the driveway or in our back yard. The only visit we made to see people inside was to visit my boss and his wife, who were fostering the kittens who we eventually adopted as Simon and Edison. (Who are doing great, by the way!)

We had coincidentally done a lot of things to prepare for shelter in place shortly before it occurred. We’d made a Costco run and had plenty of toilet paper. I made a couple of big grocery runs. We’d both been to the eye doctor, and I’d been to the dentist. We’d taken the cats in for their annual check-up. Lucky, really.

Since then I’ve been to the dentist – twice. We’ve both been to the eye doctor recently. We’ve made numerous trips to the vet for the kittens and for our elderly cat Roulette, but we never go inside. Our parents have been vaccinated, as has my sister. It will probably be a couple more months for us. We made one trip to Half Moon Bay on a day off last summer and ate at a restaurant outside, but otherwise we’ve only left our county to go to the vet. We’ve eaten outside at a couple of restaurants here, but none of them have wait staff.

I try to call my father every other week, and mostly succeed.

In January I joined the people who celebrated a birthday at home. I’ve done that before, of course, but this one wasn’t by choice.

We watched the numbers tick up as hundreds of thousands of people died who probably wouldn’t have if we hadn’t had an incompetent, racist, narcissistic President in the White House. The depth of his failure to act – or even to show the barest human empathy – was breathtaking. Meanwhile the whole Republican Party is careening into fascism.

I miss all the things everyone else misses: Hanging out with friends, eating at restaurants, going on vacation. Even going into the office – working from home has never been my thing.

It’s gradually been wearing me down. More than most? Less? I have no idea. Last year was the year I was going to take more vacation than usual. Well.

While racist impeached President Trump deserves credit for “Operation Warp Speed” to get vaccines developed, he showed his incompetence once again in refusing to expedite distribution. Things have gotten a lot better under President Biden, and tens of millions of Americans have been vaccinated. Hopefully most of the rest will be by summer. Then we mainly have to wait for vaccines to be approved for children – maybe by next fall or winter?

So much more I could write, from the election to the job losses to the concern about vaccinating the rest of the world.

I don’t expect things will change much for us for the rest of 2021. Maybe by fall we can eat at restaurants? I doubt we’ll fly anywhere this year, though.

But I’m ready to. I can really use those postponed vacations.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

We finally got around to watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) last night. As the film rights to Spider-Man are still owned by Sony, the film isn’t available on Disney+. Fortunately, we’re GenX’ers, which means we still have cable and a TiVo, so, go us!

I actually hadn’t been very spoiled about the story. I knew it was based on a comic book story – which I hadn’t read – and starred the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man – which honestly know almost nothing about – and that the animation was supposed to be great.

It was all that and more.

It was amazing.

It’s a take on Miles Morales’ origin story, and it has a surprisingly slow burn (the film is nearly 2 hours long, which is pretty lengthy for an animated feature film), building up to Miles getting his powers over the first third of the movie. But with a twist, as there’s already a Peter Parker version of Spider-Man in his dimension, and they both run afoul of a plot by the Kingpin which rips a hole between universes, resulting in five other Spider-people ending up in Miles’ dimension. Miles ends up being trained by an older, sadder Peter Parker, but also meets the others, especially Spider-Woman, Gwen Stacy on her world, who failed to save her best friend – Peter Parker.

As a Spider-Man origin story, it hits a lot of the beats you expect such a story to have: With great power comes great responsibility, death of a loved one, the outsider trying to fit in, triumph over great odds.

But this remix has a lot of touches which make it different, too. Miles isn’t being raised by his aunt and uncle, he’s being raised by his parents, and his policeman father wants the best for him, loves him dearly, but pushes him in a direction Miles doesn’t want to go. Miles finds a different father figure in the older Peter, but their relationship has issues, too, due to Miles’ inexperience. One always senses that Peter’s wisecracking persona as Spider-Man was a front, an escape from the sorrow that undercut his life. But for Miles it’s his true self, not an escape but an ability to be free, and so to gain confidence in his abilities in both his lives. Including an appreciation for his family.

The film is smartly written, upending a number of the conventions of Spider-Man, such as: Aunt May, who’s a much stronger figure here (I think inspired by J. Michael Straczynski’s version from his run); the older Peter’s sense of humor being much sharper and acerbic; and playing a little loose with secret identities.

It’s also very fun, and very funny. While there’s a sequence in the middle where Miles and Peter are breaking into a lab which is trying too hard, otherwise almost everything works. Peter has a quip for the gizmo they need to find to hack the device to send everyone home. He also shows his experience in escaping when Miles ties him up, but his not-really-caring attitude causes problems too. He needs this adventure to find himself as much as Miles does.

And of course there’s the big moment where Miles gets knocked down as far as he can go… and bounces back to become his own Spider-Man. It’s a scene that got a lot of accolades, and they’re all deserved.

The animation is beautiful. It’s not for everyone, as it’s frenetic and flashy and jerky-jerky (by design – some of the “how the animation was done” videos are pretty neat). The art style is just about perfect – how far computer animation of human beings has come in the years since The Incredibles. The staging of some of the action sequences must have been insane to storyboard and then animate.

This was one of the most fun superhero films I can recall watching. Highly recommended if you haven’t seen it.

Two Weeks of Relative Sanity

President Biden was sworn in just over two weeks ago, and I’m sure millions of Americans feel much like I do: Relief that things are getting better after hellacious four years under racist impeached president Donald Trump.

While Biden has taken a lot of criticism – and plenty of it justified, don’t get me wrong – the difference between the abject incompetent self-interested grifting that Trump and his cronies used in the White House and the quietly competent governance which Biden has brought is just such a huge relief.

I don’t think I’ve seen this more clearly than in the demeanor of epidemiologists on social media. Dr. Anthony Fauci of course has gotten the lion’s share of the press, but the increased optimism that we as a nation will be able to get COVID-19 under control has been palpable. There are still serious shortages of vaccines, and the roll-out of the vaccine supply we have has been haphazard-to-poor, but I think there’s hope that under Biden it can improve. These are problems which a competent administration can help with, whereas under Trump there was no hope: Trump did nothing for a year, and there was only more nothing in the future under him.

Congress has predictably been a shitshow, but then it was always going to be with such slim margins in both houses. I think it’s a sign of the Biden administration’s competence that its cabinet nominees have been getting confirmed with huge majorities (mainly opposed by the Republicans’ most extreme fascist wing). Even most Republicans recognize that having capable people running government is in everyone’s best interest.

It’s not that business-as-usual in the federal government is all that great, but compared to what we’ve had for the last four years it is a massive improvement. And if we didn’t have the sideshow of Republican fascists in Congress making America look like it’s half-governed by lunatics (even though the Republican Party is basically the fascist lunatic party at this point) we could be arguing about whether Biden is really nominating the best people. I mean, I’m sure some people are arguing about that, but Republican lunatics have sucked all the oxygen from the room.

It’s great to have adults back in charge. Adults can be plenty fucked up, sure, but at least they are adults, and many of them are trying to corral the toddlers (cough Marjorie Taylor Greene cough Lauren Boebert cough) to stop them from flinging applesauce and poo around the room. That’s an uphill battle, but it’s encouraging to see them trying.

I feel hope that fewer Americans will die this year than last, that fewer will fall seriously ill, that life is going to get better for many Americans. Especially the ones that won’t die.

Can we do better still? Sure. Despite the Republicans’ best efforts, we can keep trying.

But I feel like there’s hope now.

It’s such a relief.

It’s Been a Week

I’m feeling pretty exhausted by everything today. I’d managed to get through all of the chores I set for myself in time to spend the afternoon lazing around and watching football.

And then this morning we discovered that our freezer was no longer working. The refrigerator seems to be hanging in there, but the freezer’s temperature has now risen to almost the same temperature as the fridge. So, we took everything out and put it in our large cooler with some ice, and we’re hoping to have someone out to look at it tomorrow.

But it pretty much shot my ability to relax this afternoon.

Deets for people who care: Cold air is coming out of the vent in the freezer – just clearly not enough. The door seems to close fine, and the gasket doesn’t see compromised. I pulled it out and dusted under and behind it, and also dusted what I think are the coils, but no luck. The fan for the condenser seems to be running fine. Obviously something is not fine but we’ve been unable to diagnose it. We hope to have someone look at it in the next day or two.

Anyway, the fridge is about 12 years old, so it could just be time to buy a new fridge.

Last weekend I joined that group of people who celebrated their birthday during the pandemic. I didn’t mind so much, though, since I don’t often have parties anymore, although I might have gotten together with friends for dinner if things were normal. I took Friday off to have a 4-day weekend, which was nice. Didn’t do a lot, which was also nice.

As with most normal citizens of the U.S., I was delighted to see Racist Impeached President Donald Trump leave the White House on Wednesday, and glad to see Joe Biden sworn in as the new President. I am not a Biden fan specifically – he’s pretty much the definition of a moderate – but I am glad to have adults running the executive branch again.

And I admit I breathed a sign of relief that there were no assassination attempts during the ceremonies – I was really worried that there would be.

But this was a rough week for me. I think the pandemic and quarantine and the racists and insurrectionists have been slowly grinding me down, and by Thursday I was having a hard time moving forward at work. (The fact that I’m so ready to move on from my current project might have had something to do with it. Fortunately I think I’ve just about got the last issues resolved.) My productivity tend to be cyclical anyway, but the down times have been especially pronounced lately. The time off for the holidays didn’t really help, which suggests it’s not downtime that’s needed.

I’ve also been having some physical problems, which at first I thought was a reoccurrence of the pinched nerve I had back in 2009, but now I suspect it actually something below my shoulder. Massaging it helps, and it’s been gradually getting better, but it’s been frustratingly slow. It mainly affects me when driving or typing – good thing I never do any of those things! – and has therefore probably been a factor in the wall I’ve hit at work. It also bothers me when sleeping sometimes. I suspect its root cause is ultimately stress-related.

Fortunately it hasn’t really impacted my ability to run or walk – there’s actually some good news there, as knee soreness I was having for a while in late 2019 and early 2020 seems to have basically gone away.

I know we’re still incredibly lucky to be where we are compared to many people. But it still feels hard, and getting harder.

Anyway, lots of doom and gloom in this post. For those who have read this far, here’s a pic of my snuggly boi:

The Republican Insurrection

As I’m sure anyone reading this knows, on Wednesday during Congress’ counting of the Electoral College votes for President, racist impeached President Donald Trump wound up a crowd of his supporters, after which a large group of them stormed the Capitol building and broke in. This prompted the evacuation of Vice President Pence and the members of Congress, as the crowd wandered around the building. Eventually they left, although a number of people were injured in struggles with the Capitol Police, and to date five people – including one of those police – have died. At least two unexploded pipe bombs were found at the scene.

Since then, Twitter has permanently banned Trump, authorities are identifying and arresting many of the rioters (hilariously, many of them have either outed themselves or been outed by friends and family). Congress is considering impeaching Trump again. Conservatives are grumpily heading to Parler, resulting in them doxxing themselves and doxxing themselves again, leading people to wonder whether Parler should rename itself Evidence, or if Parler is actually an FBI honeypot. (Spoiler: The answer is that conservatives are the stupidest people alive.)

Schadenfreude aside, make no mistake: What happened Wednesday was an insurrection an an attempted coup. Moreover, it wasn’t just a Trumpist insurrection, it was a Republican insurrection, as the Republican Party has structurally and also tacitly encouraged this assault on our democracy for years. The Republican Party as a whole is culpable, and every person who is a Republican Party member, or who votes for or contributes to Republican candidates shares in the blame. The Republican Party clearly supports domestic terrorism and fascism, and we should be mindful of that whenever we engage with any Republican. We should also normalize characterizing the party and its members in these days. Move the Overton Window. Make it understood that if you are a Republican then you are part of the problem.

We should also continue to press for consequences for everyone who was involved in this insurrection, especially Trump (impeach him even after he’s left office), but also all of the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol, and everyone who supported them. (A local business owner is already facing consequences in the form of public pressure. To which I say: Good.)

Additionally, 147 Republicans objected to the electoral college votes, and while what they did was technically legal, we should consider them to be enemies of democracy and supporters of fascism and insurrection. They should all resign or be ousted, and we should be suspicious of anyone who supports them as another probable enemy of democracy. Leaders should set good examples, and actions by them which destabilize democracy and lie to their followers about the election are not acceptable.

I’ve also been enjoying responding to various prominent Republicans on Twitter who have been whining about Trump being deplatformed. Usually with a comment along the line of “I see you’re another whiny Republican fascist.” Mock these people. Belittle them. They are terrible people and should be treated as such. They only want to “move on” and “heal the country” to avoid consequences for their actions. Don’t let them get away with it.

This has been building for most of my lifetime. The Republican Party might not be beyond redemption, but they have a lot of work to do to be worthy of being treated as equals. They need to evict their white supremacists and deal with their systemic racism. They need to stop evicting citizens from voter rolls. They need to stop lying about the security of U.S. elections.

Some have noted that historically failed coups often lead to successful coups later on. Hopefully we can buck that trend and this is instead the beginning of America starting to wake up to the fascists in our midst, controlling one of our two major parties.

Time will tell. Next stop: Inauguration day. Expect the Republican fascists to be out in force, even if they are short on brains.

Hello, New Yorker

My Christmas gift to myself was to subscribe again to The New Yorker. I think this is my fourth go-round with the magazine.

My parents subscribed to it, and when I was a teenager there were stacks of old issues dating back into the 70s in the attic and in Mom’s magazine rack. At some point my Dad introduced me to Charles Addams, which eventually sent me poring through those old issues for Addams cartoons which hadn’t been collected. (As far as I know there are dozens – maybe hundreds – of Addams cartoons which have never been collected. I’m surprised no one has published a “complete” series of collections of his work, which leads me to think that either there are byzantine challenges in getting the rights, or there are many cartoons which have been lost. Maybe both.)

I first subscribed to the magazine around the end of graduate school. When I left school and got a job I had huge amounts of new free time, and I filled a lot of it with reading. (This was 1994/95, so the Internet was still a fairly small thing, even though I’d been very active on it since about 1989.) The New Yorker was a great source of fascinating reading material, and I clipped quite a few articles during that period which I still have in a file somewhere. (I recall one about Holocaust denial, though I can’t find it in their online archives.) Somewhat embarrassingly, I recall going to a WisCon where I kept referencing articles I’d read because I just had all this neat (to me) stuff in my head and had to get it out.

While there is a fair amount of New York-specific content (which I skip over, having never been to New York City), most of it is national or global in nature.

At the time I also subscribed to the also-weekly Comics Buyer’s Guide, the daily newspaper, and perhaps other things (maybe multiple science fiction magazines, maybe Smithsonian – it’s hard to be sure, 25 years later). The problem with any periodical is that you need to keep up with reading it or you start accumulating a stack of them waiting to be read, and at some point getting through that stack becomes so intimidating that you eventually give up (or go insane). Headline-oriented news is fairly easy to keep up with, since you can read headlines and then decide which articles you want to do a deeper dive into. But with The New Yorker and similar publications, the deep dive is the point. If you’re not reading at least a couple of articles in depth, then what are you subscribing for? Is it worth $20 per month or more just for the cartoons? Not really. (Especially today, where the cartoons are the one thing you can reliably get online for free.) So eventually I stopped.

But it’s still a pretty compelling package, so eventually I started up again. And stopped again. And then when my Mom passed away in 2015, I redirected all of her mail to me, and that included over a year outstanding on her own New Yorker subscription. When it expired, I re-upped for another year I subscribed on my own for another year, and then stopped again.

But now that I’ve dropped Consumer Reports, it felt like it was time to re-up The New Yorker.

Sadly, the cover below was not the first issue I received, which is too bad because it’s a great cover by Harry Bliss, which plays off an old Charles Addams cartoon (also below). An unknown blogger wrote about the cover here.

New Yorker cover Dec 28, 2020 by Harry Bliss
Charles Addams 1952 cartoon

Even worse, apparently it was their annual cartoon issue! Clearly I should have signed up just a little bit sooner.

Rather, my first issue featured an extremely long article about COVID-19 and the United States’ response to it. I’m willing to deep dive on some longer New Yorker articles, but 40+ pages on a subject I’m already fairly familiar with was a bit much for me. Well, better luck next week!

Once upon a time I’d come home from work and have one or more periodicals waiting for me, and I’d plop down on the couch and read through them. That’s not so likely these days since (1) I’m not going to work, and (2) with so many other things competing for my time, it’s more likely I’ll get to it the following weekend. Still, I think it’ll be fun to have it to read for the year or more.