Lockdown: CDB? DBSA BZB.

Gotta make this a fast one because there are still a few things I want to do before putting a bow on this weekend.

I could have slept until 2 again but I resisted. Got up at 10:30, had breakfast (shoyu chicken and brown rice), read the news, did a few small chores, and took a nap. Woke up for lunch (two hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut), wrote my Jay and Silent Bob review (see below), watched Borg vs McEnroe again while I worked on reorganizing my workspace, and did some cleaning up in my iTunes.

I think I’m going to put all my CDs in tubs and store them in my big closet. Since I listen to almost all my music via Spotify nowadays, I seldom listen to CDs or even iTunes. However, a lot of my stuff isn’t available on streaming platforms, so I want to make sure whatever isn’t is in my iTunes. I want access to my whole collection wherever possible.

This takes a bit of time, but it’s fun. Good, geeky, musical fun.

Ali sent me a photo of her dog, lying with his head on the carpet next to the book I gave her for Christmas, which she is getting around to reading. We had a nice conversation about the dog, the book, and going to the beach. Crush Girl said she finished reading the book I lended her, and she asked for a photo of the sourdough. She thought I’d baked some already but I was still feeding the starter. I’m hoping to get to the sourdough during my lunch break Monday. Very late, during my walk, my friend Sharon asked me something about someone on LinkedIn. So I had three nice text exchanges with good friends, all initiated by them. I wasn’t feeling very reach-outy, so it was nice.

Also traded a few IMs with Friday 5 girl.

I went for a short walk, knowing I still had stuff to do before bed. I got it to 12,800 steps before midnight (from 8000 already walked in the wee hours) and then another 4500 after midnight, so really only 10,000 steps for the day. During the walk I had dinner, grabbing a double cheeseburger and strawberry shake at McD’s and downing them in the parking lot. There was no snacking for some reason.

Sometime Monday I’m going to write about the bees.

Okie dokie. I’ve run out of things to say for once. Time to get some work done.

Reach out if you’re having difficulty getting through this weird time. I’m good at weird. Let’s talk about it.

Review: Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019)
Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, and a cast of thousands.  Written and directed by Kevin Smith.

In 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, two side characters in Kevin Smith’s early films become central characters.  Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) learn a movie is being made about them without their permission, so they drive to Hollywood to stop the film. While the stoner-slacker buddy road-trip movie is stupid beyond words, it’s also smart, clever, and fun, and I’ll repeat my assertion that Smith is the most Gen X of Gen X screenwriters.

In 2019’s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, the same characters learn a reboot is in production — without their permission — of the movie they tried to stop in 2001, so they drive to Hollywood to stop the film.  Jay and Silent Bob Reboot takes aim at Hollywood’s recent creative climate of sequels, remakes, and reboots, while at the same time being all three.

I’m not kidding.  In one very explainy scene, our heroes learn the difference between a sequel, a remake, and a reboot, and it’s clear very early that the movie we’re watching is all of them.

The easiest thing to say about a Kevin Smith film in his View Askewniverse is that it’s so self-referential with so many jokes about itself, if you’re jumping in for the first time, you’re unlikely to enjoy it, because you’d have to appreciate it on its surface, and there’s just not enough there.  Chasing Amy is probably the one exception.

Yet if you see more than one of these films, it’s nearly impossible to miss the thing that makes Smith a hero to his faithful: his characters grow up, and in doing so, they show us Smith’s (and now Mewes’s) own growth.  Smith doesn’t merely wear his heart on his sleeve; he paints it on his forehead, openly discussing — in podcasts, interviews, and his live Q&A shows — not only his fears and failures, but his love for his family and friends, and his tenacious loyalty to both.

I saw Clerks II (2006) in a theater and hated it until the closing credits rolled and I realized I loved what Smith did.  He brought his characters back for yet another stupid-smart movie and delivered a treatise on Gen Xers hitting middle age.  Not just these Gen Xers, but Gen Xers as a whole.

So here’s this movie, laden with callbacks and appearances by characters from his past films, referencing Smith’s real-life, well-known adventures (a near-fatal heart attack and subsequent weight loss and conversion to veganism; a highly publicized adventure in an airplane where he was ruled too fat to fly) and loaded with his friends and family (his mother, wife, and daughter are in the film, as is Mewes’s daughter), plus stupid jokes and entire dialogues lifted from other films.

In one scene, a klansman steals Cyrus’s “Caaaaaan youuuuuuu digiiiiiiit?” from The Warriors and immediately after, in the same scene, Silent Bob delivers Alec Baldwin’s “always be closing” monologue from Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s shameless idolatry and it’s pretty dang funny, because Smith’s purpose is not to create a coherent story.  It’s to have as much fun with as many friends as possible while allowing his characters to grow up the way real people do.

Because I’m Smith’s intended audience, I can’t lie.  I bought it, and then I watched it twice more. My only real disappointment is that the DVD doesn’t come with a director’s track.  The director’s commentary is the best thing about a Kevin Smith DVD, so I’ll be waiting for a tenth anniversary re-release by the Criterion Collection.


Lockdown: On introversion and Gen-Xness, Part 1

Oops. I meant this to be a lot shorter. I’m going to have to split it in two, and deal with the Gen-Xness part later.

I read a lot of business-related writing for my side gig, and nobody is as consistently interesting, accessible, and scholarly as Adam Grant. When Grant publishes, I’m usually all over it. I also follow him on Twitter and I receive his email newsletter, which often includes book recommendations. Good book recommendations.

A few days ago he published, “Yes, Introverts Can Be Lonely Right Now” in the New York Times, a short piece I recommend.

The gist of it is that research indicates the conventional wisdom about extroverts and introverts is not true: extroverts get energized by interaction, but so do introverts. We all get energy from interacting positively with others; introverts merely need a lot less of it. Further, there seems to be a point for introverts beyond which “the emotional benefits fade and costs begin to emerge — introverts start to feel more negative emotions, more exhaustion and less authenticity.”

He doesn’t say this, but I’m saying it now, mostly to repeat what a lot of introverts have said about introversion in the workplace: the working world rewards extroversion, so most of us who are introverts have learned to fake it. We speak up in meetings, we smile and make smalltalk, and we organize the occasional potluck. But if we can get away with it, we still prefer emails to meetings, we sit on the edges of the room when there’s a potluck, and the sooner we can move from “What did you do last weekend?” to “What made you think last weekend?” the better.

Working from home is an adjustment. My own adjustments have less to do with isolation and more with my own challenged attention. My setup in the office cubicle is conducive to my writing, with a comfortable chair, dual monitors lifted considerably above eye-level, an over-enthusiastic air conditioner (I like to be uncomfortably cold when I work), and a selection of visual stimulation decorating my field of vision when I write.

People who have attention issues often work best while music plays. It’s not because the music puts them in certain mind spaces; it’s because the music allows the distractible part of their brains to handle the music while the focused part of their brains does the work. Without music, I hear the clicking of every keyboard, the scratch of every pen on a notepad, and every word of conversation, and my whole brain wants to engage with all of it at once.

Similarly, if I’m looking at my computer screen, it helps my focus if my field of vision includes pleasing stuff. You’ve done some writing at work, so you know how sometimes when the words are difficult to find, you have to look away from the screen. The stuff I see in my cubicle when I look away makes me happy, but it usually doesn’t take me away from the task. I have a small bit of Harry Potter artwork, two day-by-day calendars, a small selection of books I may never read, and some Harry Potter vinyl figures, all a quick glance away. Also stacks of important papers I haven’t filed because I’m a slob, but that’s (I think) a separate issue.

I’m over-explaining my adjustment mostly to say this: a group video call is a good thing. It’s keeping us together in ways I don’t think creators of the technology ever really anticipated. It reminds me of the good people in my department, teammates I respect and like. I would say they’ve become friends. My department has a daily Zoom call at 2:00 every afternoon. Some coworkers in other departments have told me it’s too much, but I find the daily check-in encouraging.

But let’s be honest. Just as the working world values extroversion, making extrovert-like behavior almost a necessity for being recognized or noticed, its use of the Zoom meeting is really an assertion of this these values. Working alone at home just isn’t extroverted enough, so we wedge required extroversion into the structure of a new way of working.

Introverts should be thriving in this new world of work, and I mostly am, considering the adjustments I continue to make by myself. Yet for all its many benefits, the Zoom meeting brings some of an attention-challenged introvert’s least favorite things about work and makes them even more difficult. For me, the sustained, unidirectional focus combined with group interaction lasting beyond my okay-I’m-good threshold often makes me subdued at best — and surly at worst.

I’m sure my coworkers in these Zoom meetings must think I hate being there, but it’s simply not true. I love being there.

Until I don’t.

I got to bed close to 5:00 in the morning, which is just crazy. I need to reset my clock so I’m not killing myself every workday. I’m telling you, the vampire in me realliy wants to be let loose and it’s a struggle not to allow it.

I got out of bed at 10 in the morning because I had to use the bathroom, so I also had breakfast and took my meds (I try to take them between 8 and 10 every day, usually around 9). Breakfast was two hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut. Then I went back to bed and got up at 2 in the afternoon.

It felt wonderful.

I did the crossword, read the news, answered some emails, and dealt with bees. I’ll explain the bees tomorrow, but they took quite a bit of my energy for the remainder of my daylight hours.

Lunch was a couple of pieces of shoyu chicken, just the chicken. I wasn’t hungry enough to bother with rice. But then dinner was three more pices of chicken with brown rice. It was freaking delicious.

No snacking, not even on my walk. I miiiiight have a few chips before I finally go to bed, though. Starting to feel the twinge now as I’m finally wrapping my day up.

I watched Jay and Silent Bob Reboot for the third time, and I think I’m about done with it. Dropped it in the mailbox at the stripmall to start off my walk.

I got the Saturday stepcount up to 18,000 steps before midnight, then added 6600 steps after midnight. It wasn’t pleasant. My bad knee ached most of the way, and my doggies are beat. The second half, which is mostly downhill or level, was a lot better, but I was pretty tired the whole way. Listened to podcasts and Metallica’s Master of Puppets, so that was nice.

Oh, in the middle of my bee situation, I also drove to Sylvia’s house, and she reached through the back window of my car to place a sourdough starter on my back seat. I’m excited. It’s a 10-year-old starter and I’m going to start feeding it tomorrow for the bread machine hopefully Monday.

In addition to the texts with Sylvia leading up to the pickup, we texted later about Taco Bell, a weakness for us both. I was craving it like mad when I left her place, but the Taco Bell in my hood closed Saturday around 8, I guess. I get it; it’s a weird time, and sometimes a business can’t open or close when it wants to. Man I was disappointed, though.

It ended up great anyway, because as I said, my shoyu chicken was delicious. I didn’t have fresh ginger or garlic, so I added rice vinegar, allspice, cinnamon, basil, and a bay leaf. Allspice was exactly the right call. This is some killer chicken.

Crush Girl likes to bake, so of course I texted her about getting ahold of a ten-year-old sourdough starter and offered her some. She was in the middle of making cinnamon rolls when I messaged her, but she said she’d love to get some. Although it wasn’t a long interaction, I was happy for the positive connection.

Okay, Sunday. I’m planning to get up early to run a quick errand and maybe hit the beach. There will definitely be napping, and maybe a call to mom and dad. I want to write my review of that Jay and Silent Bob movie, and I still have some work I’d like to get done and emailed before people get to work Monday. It’s been a few days since I’ve had veggies, so I should probably plan on something Sunday, ‘though I can’t promise I won’t just scarf Taco Bell.

A little bit of meaningful connection goes a long way. If you’re not getting enough, I hope you’ll reach out! I’m here. Let’s connect for a little while.

Lockdown: I’ll shoyu mine if you show me yours

I’m too tired to comment on that Adam Grant piece in the NYT. I’ll do it sometime Saturday.

It was a little bit of a rough day, not because anything went wrong. I was just dragging all day. Aaaaaalllll day. Still, I got a few things done but honestly not as much as I should have. I’m going to have to do some stuff over the weekend.

My brain feels a little mushy.

Okay breakfast was overnight oats. The plan was to steam some broccoli for lunch while I cooked shoyu chicken for dinner, but the chicken came out so good that I had that for lunch instead. Dinner was an unplanned two cheeseburgers from McD’s I grabbed in the middle of my long walk. I don’t think I snacked, but I definitely went overboard on the chicken at lunch.

My friend Ali in Boston is one of those people who returns my texts someday. I suspect she doesn’t do this with all her friends; I think it’s a kind of intentional armslength-keeping. Which is fine. She answered some of my messages today and then had a bunch of conversation. It was nice. I really miss her.

I also had text conversations with Sylvia (she’s sharing her sourdough starter with me tomorrow) and Crush Girl (she was interested in getting a burger at this place I’m familiar with). It was all some pretty good interaction.

When I went out for my walk (at about 10:30) I already had 10,000 steps for Friday. I got it up to 17,500 before midnight, then walked another 7800 steps after midnight. Kind of a lot of walking in two days.

Saturday I want to catch up on some reading and on some sleep. I think I’ll go do one of those now.

It’s a weird time we’re going through. I feel pretty good about the weirdness, but not everyone does, and I’m seeing it come out in some friends who admit they’re going a little stir-crazy. If this is you and if you don’t have someone to with whom you can decompress about it, please reach out. I’m here for that.

Lockdown: I’m the flaxman; yeah I’m the flaxman

Someone asked me about overnight oats, so here’s how I do it. If you Google “overnight oats” you’ll find a hundred ways to do it. I tried it a few of those ways, adjusting for my preferences until it evolved into this.

The one-pint Ziploc Twist n Loc containers work best, but store-brand copycats work too. I use ’em both, ‘though I’ve found the Ziploc containers to be less prone to leakage.

One pint is two cups, which you know. So if you fill the cannister halfway with old-fashioned rolled oats (that is, not quick oats or whatever they call them), you get a whole cup of oatmeal goodness. I add about two tablespoons of a flaxseed-chia-seed mix. My local grocery used to sell it mixed, but no longer. Now I buy flaxseed and chia seeds separately and mix them in a plastic container, spooning out what I need each evening for the next morning.

If flaxseed and chia seeds aren’t part of your intake already, you may find some interesting effects on your going to the bathroom. The effect on me lasted a few weeks, but now it faded over time for some reason. I can’t think of a good reason for it unless the chia seeds i used before were ground and the ones I use now are whole, and perhaps this difference means my body responds differently.

Okay, half a container of rolled oats, two tablespoons of flaxseed and chia seeds, a couple of dashes of cinnamon, and two (or three) tablespoons of brown sugar. The brown sugar you could really do without, but I just find it easier to eat the whole thing if I sweeten it a little. Some mornings I’ll sprinkle more brown sugar on top. I know, I know.

Heres where you can add fruit or berries, which I tried for a little while. It just didn’t work for me. Slivered almonds are good, but I don’t know. They aren’t an improvement.

When all the dry ingredients are in the cannister, I mix it up as thoroughly as I can, but that’s just to make it easier the next morning. You really don’t have to stir it at all. Sometimes I’ll screw the lid on and give it a few vigorous shakes. Then take the lid off.

Now top off the cannister with milk or a nondairy alternative. I like oatmilk the best, but my local grocery store doesn’t carry it, and Costco (when I’m going there, which I’m not for the foreseeable future) has good, inexpensive, organic almond milk, so that’s what I usually go with. Now that I’m shopping at the neighborhood grocery store, I stick to almond milk. Use flavored or sweetened or plain. I use plain, but I also like the vanilla flavored.

Screw the cap on, and leave in fridge overnight. Give it a little stir in the morning, and dig in. I love eating my breakfast out of the container I make it in, plus it’s portable if you want to throw it in your bag and have it at your desk at work in the morning (I put it in a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag if I take it to go).

It’s a very forgiving recipe. I measure nothing. And if you decide to give it a try, you’ll take some things I do and toss others. It’s that flexible. I have it at least every other morning because it’s filling and satisfying, even if some mornings it’s not as interesting as others. Because all that fiber is good for me, I make myself finish the entire thing even when I fill up quickly. If I don’t finish it, I’m more likely to snack before lunch.

It took a long time before it was satisfying, lemme tell you. It used to fill me up, but then I’d really be craving some sausage or bacon or something. Now it almost always takes care of me until lunch, although occasionally I’ll have something small and savory right after, especially if I have leftovers in the fridge. I just had to train myself to think of the oats as breakfast, I think. Now I look forward to it most mornings.

Which doesn’t mean, as you know if you’ve been paying attention, that I don’t sometimes still have a couple of hot dogs for breakfast instead.

I wasn’t super productive Thursday, but I did get a few things done. Finally got in touch with the donor I’m writing about, and we had a really nice phone conversation for about half an hour. I reached out to one of the chancellors to get a quote because I can see the shape this story will take even before drafting it. Should be a nice one, and I’m looking forward to drafting it tomorrow.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was a bowl of Apple Jacks because I have some milk to use up. It’d been several years since I’d last had a bowl of cereal (it’s rather pricey in Hawaii), so the Apple Jacks were an impulse buy a couple of months ago. I don’t really know what came over me: I like flakes. So it’s taken me this long to finish off the box.

Dinner was three small burritos — not the frozen burritos I’ve been having, but a kind of shortcut burrito I make rather often. I normally keep a large container of the filling in my fridge, then spoon it onto tortillas and add a slice of cheddar. Fold, then zap in the microwave oven. Simple ingredients. Tasty, quick, and inexpensive.

I had an egg salad sandwich for a snack during my walk.

Man, I got off to a super late start walking. Like 11:30. I only hit 5000 steps before midnight, then added 10,000 steps after midnight. Now it’s past 4:00 in the morning and I start work at 9:00(ish). There is going to be a lot of napping this weekend. I listened to a couple of podcasts and my short but awesome Amy Grant playlist.

Traded messages with Crush Girl periodically all day, mostly about books and food. She’s reading a book I let her borrow. I’m still trying to finish Dig by A.S. King, which is an amazing piece of work. I’ve just been too distracted at home, so I’m only getting reading done at the laundry. I miss reading in cafes!

That was it for texts and IMs, ‘though I got some decent engagement on FB, so I’m counting it. Tomorrow I’m going to comment in this space on an interesting piece by Adam Grant in the NY Times about introverts working at home.

I watched all the extras on Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, but was suuuuper disappointed to see there’s no commentary track. Ugh. I’m going to watch the movie again before I send the DVD back. Definitely a movie for fans of the franchise, and only for fans of the franchise.

I haven’t been drinking coffee or tea much this past couple of years, but Friday is going to be a multi-cup day for one or the other. I need the jolt if I want to be productive, and I really do. I have interesting projects to work on, and unless something “urgent” comes up, I’m going to have time to work on them.

Whatever you’re working on, if you’re having difficulty feeling connected to others for whatever reason, I hope you’ll reach out. We can trade texts or DMs. I want to know what you had for breakfast. I want to know what you’re streaming. I want to hear about what you miss.

Lockdown: Movable object. Always.

Yer not from around these parts, are you, Pardner?

The mayor has given us until Monday to begin wearing masks when we’re out in public. It’s not a huge deal since I’m mostly only out to get exercise, and you don’t have to wear a mask for that. However, some stores have already begun requiring masks in order to enter, and I still have to get groceries once in a while.

I ordered some masks online about ten days ago and they haven’t arrived yet. I had a small inkling the moment I made the purchase that I wasn’t dealing with a reputable merchant, but I made the payment through PayPal, which means my purchase is protected, so I’m not going to worry about it yet. The website, company name, and PayPal merchant name were all different — three names! Yikes. I trust PayPal to take care of me or I might freak out a little.

So I did the no-sew t-shirt mask suggested by the CDC itself. Pretty easy, but I have to say the t-shirt material doesn’t instill a lot of confidence that I’m keeping my viruses to myself. On the other hand, I’ve seen other tutorials that look a bit more reliable, and now that I’ve seen how to do this one, I have ideas of my own to try.

I wore it out on my walk anyway, at least until my midway stop at 7-Eleven for a Diet Pepsi. It wasn’t comfortable, but it wasn’t unbearable. The breathing wasn’t as much an issue as I thought. I found the breathing easier if I inhaled through my nose and exhaled through my mouth for some reason. It was pretty dang warm tonight, and the mask did not help. Still, not unbearable. Certainly bearable enough to wear when I have to step into a grocery store or convenience store.

Writin’ with the homies

A work recap would be boring, so I’ll just say it was a semi-productive day with some disagreement with team members about how to approach the wording of an email we’re sending out to 500 emergency fund recipients. I may have gotten someone angry with my input, and I can’t say I wasn’t sorta aggressive about one specific point about which I am sure I was right.

I’ve been thinking a lot these past couple of weeks about how I feel I’m always the person who yields. I don’t mean just at work — actually, this was prompted by my having to go far out of my way to avoid people when we pass each other on the sidewalks during my late-night roaming. but it’s always been true at work too.

When I taught ninth-grade English, the ninth-grade history teacher was famous for being really, really strict with her students. I don’t mind that at all — students need one teacher like that every year or so, and I don’t have it in me to be that teacher. This teacher wasn’t just strict; she was demanding, giving way too much homework, not accepting late work on most assignments, and not listening to excuses very often.

We used to try to coordinate with other teachers not to schedule big tests or big assignments at the same time, and whenever there was a conflict between ninth-grade English and ninth-grade history, I was always the one who yielded. Mostly because I didn’t really mind.

So I’m a yielder. There’s not much I can is wrong with that, especially since I don’t mind being the flexible one. What’s bugging me lately is that I shouldn’t have to be the yielder all the time, yet my willingness makes me be the one. Thisis starting to bug me a little. I don’t mind yielding, but maybe I mind always yielding.

Which is why I may have been a leeeettle too insistent on taking out one small phrase. And perhaps it wasn’t received well.

I also tried to interview a donor by phone but had to leave a voicemail.

Text is natural; text is good. Not everybody does it, but everybody should.

It was Antony’s birthday so I sent him a happy birthday. I’ve been a little concerned because he’s a bus rider and I do not want people I care about riding buses nowadays. Traded some IMs with Crush Girl about places we each can’t wait to dine at, once we’re allowed again to dine out. She’s a good food friend, the kind of person likes cooking and dining out and talking about both. Traded a few work-related IMs with Sylvia too.

That was about it. I was kind of in leave-me-alone mode most of my day.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was last night’s marinara over penne, with some of that blue cheese mixed in. Delicious enough that I had it for dinner too. I had a late snack of an egg salad sandwich.

I hit 15,900 steps for Wednesday and got home before midnight. The plan was to go to bed early-ish and wake up to hit the beach, but I remembered moments ago the full moon was April 7, which means Thursday the 16th is the first day of the monthly jellyfish influx, and the soonest I’ll be able to get wet again is Sunday morning. I mind sharing the beach with the jellyfish a lot less when I’m in the water several times a week. When I’m down to once a week, I’d appreciate it if those guys would just stay out there. They have a whole ocean.

During breaks in the action Wednesday, I watched Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, a movie I heard nothing about when it was in theaters last fall. I have about half an hour left; maybe I’ll finish it before hitting the hay, since I don’t have to be up early anymore.

If you’re lacking someone with whom to share whatever you’re doing to get through the lockdown, please reach out. Tell me about Tiger King or the cinnamon swirl mug cake you made today. You don’t have to go through any of this alone!

Lockdown: There aren’t enough women in this house

Wow. It is late. Even for me.

I might have to make this quick since it’s so freaking late.

Garbage in

Okay, so let’s talk about food. I ate garbage all day long. I do not know what came over me. On my way to the laundry, I went through the McD’s drive-through for a Big Mac combo. Only I didn’t stop at the combo. I added ten chicken McNuggets to the order for no reason I can fathom except sheer gluttony.

It was all faaaabulously delicious. I regret everything.

Lunch was half a can of corned beef hash with brown rice. Dinner was the other half, also with brown rice. I have that canned stuff for when I run out of fresh food and can’t make it to a grocery store. No idea what happened! I also snacked on Korean barbecue flavored tortilla chips. They were really good.

As if all that were not enough (and it apparently wasn’t), during my walk, I stopped at an empty 7-Eleven and had an ice cream bar AND an egg salad sandwich! Gluttony was my deadly sin of the day. Why couldn’t it be sloth?

While I was scarfing dinner, I did throw some thing in the Instant Pot to make marinara sauce with the canned whole tomatoes left over from the chili. The tomatoes, their juice, a small can of tomato paste, some cocoa, thyme, bay leaf, dried basil, and a few cups of Riesling. It came out pretty dang good, although it could use some sweetening. I shoulda thrown in some dried red pepper flakes too.

Tomorrow I’ll use the marinara to go with some penne and some of that blue cheese I’ve been thinking about but not opening. And probably drink the rest of the Riesling. It’s a lot of empty carbs, probably too many, but at least it’s not trash like my entire consumption Tuesday!

Familiar places; familiar paces

Holy mackerel it took me forever to get out the door this evening. I almost didn’t go. And since I strated j ust ten minutes before 11, there was no way I was going to hit my 13,000 steps for the day. I got about 7500 before midnight and 4500 steps after midnight, which means I didn’t even get my 13,000 steps for the trip. Since I came atoms from not going at all, I’m going to count it a win anyway.

The walk felt pretty good, but it was noticeably warm! My Dark Sky app said it was 74 at 1:00 in the morning. Yow.

IM, I said

I traded some good texts with Ali in Boston, about an article she sent me outlining why nonprofits should pay their people better. The writing partner and I have been disconnected for more than a week. Turns out we had some miscommunication. I swear it was her fault but it’s never one person’s fault. The Borg vs McEnroe film reminded me of one of the funniest sports quotes I’ve ever heard, so I sent it to Penny and it started a short text conversation about some of the tennis players of our youth.

A delicate sound of numbers

The cases in Hawaii go up, but not by much. We’re just not seeing a spike, and I suspect it’s because of not enough testing. Thirteen new cases yesterday, five new cases the day before. This is not what I expected. Maybe the people of Hawaii are nicer to each other than I thought.

The leadership in this country is driving me mad. The state leadership isn’t much better.

I still didn’t make my mask, but I did clean up my scissors in anticipation of doing so. Wednesday for sure!

I am not lonely, but I have to say I’m beginning to miss female companionship. I could really go for lunch with some female platonic friend or any one of the unusual number of very young women I’ve gotten to be friends with in the past few years. Or ex-colleagues, my female teaching kinfolk. Just a little bit of time to soak up some company with the fairer sex. The women from the engineering firm with whom I trade texts. One of them moved last month, but two are still here. I keep avoiding going out with them, but when this thing is over, I could sure use some time in their space.

I’m not feeling down about any of it, but if you are, and if you’re going through this alone (or if it merely feels like you are), please reach out, whatever your age or sex. 🙂 Let’s commiserate. I know some funny stories and sympathetic noises.

Review: Borg vs McEnroe

Borg vs McEnroe (2017)
Shia LaBeouf, Svirrir Gudnason, Stellen Skarsgård.  Written by Ronnie Sandahl. Directed by Janus Metz Pedersen.

In July 1980, the world’s second-ranked men’s tennis player John McEnroe faced the world’s best, Björn Borg, in the finals at Wimbledon, in what many have called the greatest tennis match ever.  I hadn’t yet gotten into tennis, but I had discovered CNN Sports Tonight, a nightly half-hour television program featuring highlights and commentary like nothing I’d seen before.  Until then, my sports highlights existed only in the final five minutes of the local news, or during Howard Cosell’s “Halftime Highlights” on Monday Night Football.

This is when my interest in tennis was born: with CNN’s regular coverage of McEnroe’s serve and volley on the court, and his tantrums on the sideline.  He was the kind of athlete I always favored as a boy. Muhammad Ali, Ken Stabler, Reggie Jackson, John McEnroe. Don’t tell any of those guys what to do, because they’ll just do the opposite, and then beat you while you whine.

I say all this to explain how I was once an avid pro tennis fan, John McEnroe was my gateway drug, there was an era when the characters in tennis were as fascinating as its competitions, and Borg vs McEnroe is a great trip back to a much funner time.  You don’t have to be a tennis fan to appreciate the film; in fact, it might be better for your enjoyment if you’re not. Still, if you are a fan, you’ll appreciate the memories of the stoic Borg, who had won Wimbledon four straight years before 1980, and tempestuous McEnroe, gunning for the world’s top ranking.

Believe it or not, Shia Labeouf is excellent as McEnroe.  I suspect Labeouf identifies with McEnroe in important ways.  You never really think you’re looking at McEnroe’s body or face, but you do get a sense you’re seeing the person.  Svirrir Gudnason looks exactly like my memory of Borg.

The film sets us up for this Wimbledon final with flashes back to each man’s past, framing the confrontation at Centre Court as a meeting of surprisingly similar characters, each with sympathy for the other.  It’s a compelling story, drawn so that rather than foils, the athletes are parallels. If you’re hoping to get a deep psychological exploration of what made these seemingly different men so great at hitting a yellow ball, you’ll think this movie is a tease.  If you’re looking for a little bit of character analysis to go with your service aces, you’ll be pleased.

Viewers are unlikely to agree with my one major gripe unless they enjoy watching tennis on television or in person.  The action on the court is edited in such a way that you don’t see very much tennis. This is utterly maddening. You see and hear the racquets making contact; you see the expressions, the blurs of power and speed.  You sometimes see the ball hitting the court. You almost never see a rally from serve to point, and you see very little of the action from the usual angle, behind the receiver and over his shoulder. With the exception of one series of very cool overhead shots, none of this is an improvement in any way.

You could make the argument that it makes for better cinema and better storytelling, and I might understand.  After all, in Searching for Bobby Fisher, a movie I love, I never complained that chess games (or whatever they’re called)  aren’t shown in real time with realistic flow, because who wants to watch that except maybe chess spectators? However, this is tennis, not chess!

Thank goodness for the film’s ending, which heals some of my wounds.  Where the tennis action fails, the closing scene succeeds, showing us the action and giving us a resolution the competition denies us.  Very, very well done. Stick around for the closing credits too, which treat us to actual photos of Borg and McEnroe. They made me a little teary. 

As a film lover, I think it’s excellent.  As a sports film lover, I think it’s pretty good.  As a sports lover, I think it’s agonizing. For this, I have to penalize the film one point for unsportsmanlike behavior.


Lockdown: It’s not perfect, but it’s real

“You wanna live inside some fairy tale. I’m just trying to make things better.”

I had to get up a bit earlier than I’m used to on a work day. There was a Zoom meeting with the CEO and some VPs in our company to talk about our communication strategies with our emergency relief projects. That meeting was pretty good, but it went an hour, first thing on a Monday morning after a three-day weekend.

I’m equipped to do a lot of things well, but this isn’t one of them. But I think I contributed adequately. Then, in order to debrief, my department moved its daily Zoom meeting from 2:00 in the afternoon to right after the first meeting. That went about half an hour.

I had enormous difficulty focusing for that second meeting. I thought it boded ill for my productivity Monday, but I had a pretty good day. I finalized one of the proposals I worked on in the second part of last week (the urgent one that maybe turned out not so urgent). Did some photo editing for a coworker — an easy task I usually enjoy. In the virtual desktop environment, stuff like Photoshop tends to drag, and on the minuscule work-issued laptop monitor, Photoshop is kind of a pain to work with.

First-world problems, I know.

I worked a little on some acknowledgment letters, and offered edit suggestions for an article written by someone outside our organization.

The day went quickly. Perhaps we should begin every workday with 90 minutes of meetings.

“There’s got to be something more to love than commitment.”

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch and dinner were both leftover turkey chili and brown rice — I finally finished the chili, which was my goal Monday. I didn’t snack at all, mostly because all three meals were pretty darn filling.

I skipped the late-night walk, opting instead to do a little bit of house maintenance, to watch the first hour of Borg vs McEnroe (2017), and to get to bed at a decent hour in anticipation of waking up super early for laundry.

I’m at the laundry now, alone so far after 22 minutes. Here’s hoping!

I did not make a mask Monday as I intended. Brought the materials to the laundry, though, so it’s possible I’ll get it done before I get out of here.

“People have gotten married for a lot less.”

During work, I traded IMs with my coworker Laura about some of the messaging we’re putting out there when we ask for money via mass mailings. It was a good conversation, of the sort I kind of geek out about. It’s part marketing, part writing, and while I am not much of the former, I think I do the latter pretty well.

Away from work, I traded texts with Crush Girl and IMs via FB Messenger with the Friday 5 girl. Not the most connection-filled day, but it feels okay.

“If there’s any kind of magic in the world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone.”

I had a couple of gift certificates from the Criterion Collection, one of which expires at the end of April, so I used them both on Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. It’s a lovely set in a three-Blu-Ray slipcase. It came in the mail today and I’m pretty stoked to rewatch them (I’ve seen all three only once), and of course to explore the extra features, which Criterion Collection is the best at.

I also made an impulse purchase of the Kindle version of Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can’t Live Without Them by Adrienne Raphel, breaking my resolve not to purchase new books while in lockdown. Tuesday is also the day a Kindle book I (right before the lockdown) preordered drops, Sarah Frier’s No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram.

I’m thinking I’ll read them concurrently with an eye on finishing them at the same time.

Now that most of the fresh veggies and most of my leftovers have been cleared out of my fridge, either because of consumption or throwing out, I’m looking forward to cooking something new. 2020 is supposed to be my #yearofcookingshellfishly, according to the New Year’s resolutions I never posted. This may be on hold during the lockdown. I haven’t really thought of my options at the supermarket because I was really looking forward to going to the fish market in my ‘hood and bringing home something fresh, like someone who knows what he’s doing.

That fish market is extremely close quarters. I just don’t think I have it in me, even with prescribed social distancing, to go in there. Those lovely clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops will have to wait.

“I guess when you’re young, you just believe there’ll be many people with whom you’ll connect.”

If you’re frustrated or bummed out by your own New Year’s resolutions being put on hold (or anything else on hold, really), and if you’re going through this alone, please reach out. I’m happy to text, IM, or DM you through it. The world’s a crazy place in normal times; it’s downright maddening now. Don’t be shy; let’s connect.

Lockdown: Don’t bean cruel

I had too much fun not doing anything for a three-day weekend. I’m really not ready to go back to work. Bleah.

I woke up a couple of hours too early, but it was time for the meds anyway, so I had overnight oats for breakfast, popped the meds, and did the L.A. Times Sunday crossword (I’d finished the N.Y. Times Sunday crossword Saturday evening). Then right back to bed for a few hours. It was lovely.

I did a wee bit o’ writing, worked on a couple of chores, and made lunch. I had a ton of string beans to use up. Made some instant mashed potatoes. The beans were really not good. I do a lot of my own cooking, and since I enjoy experimenting, things don’t always come out great. Still, they usually turn out good enough. Maybe I wouldn’t take some of my experiments to a potluck, but I’m fine consuming them myself.

Not these green beans. I ate most of a large bowl of them and reminded myself of a few things. While I’m not wealthy, and while I don’t like to waste food, I make enough to throw something out if I don’t like it. And since I’m eating almost every meal at home, I’m not spending much money on food anyway. So if this dish was terrible, there was really no point in trying to eat it for my next six lunches.

Into the trash the beans went. I finished the potatoes with a little bit of mediocre cheddar and some wasabi oil.

I did some more writing and then the Washington Post Sunday crossword. I thought I’d have a very late dinner, after my walk. I had a few things to mail, so I started with a walk to the nearby stripmall, where there’s a mailbox. Then walked toward Dillingham Blvd, a different route from my usual. Midway there, I was kind of a miserable mess. Cold-sweating and a little shaky; I was really hungry! I had a feeling there was a blood sugar issue, although that didn’t really explain the cold sweats.

Thankfully the McD’s at Waiakamilo and Dillingham was open for takeout. I thought I needed to get some sugar into me quickly, so I had a small vanilla shake, then chased it with two cheeseburgers and a medium fries. They did the trick. At least the weird internal shakiness was gone.

The sweats came back, and while they weren’t really cold, they weren’t the usual warm sweats I get when I’m out for a long walk. I think my body just isn’t feeling right. I considered calling it off and just going right back home, but I definitely wasn’t feeling like an emergency situation, as I had felt before McD’s. So I finished my intended walk, kind of sore and unhappy the whole way.

I got it to 14,000 steps before midnight and tacked on another 4,000 after midnight. I’m planning to hit the laundry super early Tuesday morning, so I may not walk Monday night, and it may be just as well.

I got eight responses to the Easter Song video I sent out, just reciprocal Easter greetings, which was nice, but no real connecting besides that. Easter’s been something of a solo day for me these past several years.

I still haven’t made a mask. I guess I’ll do that Monday!

Note to self: tomorrow might be a nice day to discuss Gus van Sant’s Melancholia.

New week! No real end to this weirdness in sight! If you’re not handling it well and you’re going through it alone, please reach out! I’m here for you, as long as “here for you” is okay via texts, DMs, or IMs. I so seldom have anything of value to lend people. The world is not built for introverts, but this new world may be. If I can lend you some of my introversion and talk you down of metaphorical or real ledges, I’m here for it.