Lockdown: Good morning

I woke up Wednesday morning at 6:30, just in time for the swearing-in of the new Vice-President. Whatever your political leanings, you have to acknowledge this is a big deal. A woman. An African-American woman. An Asian woman. Second in succession to the presidency.

As I have made clear many times, I’m a conservative, but during the run-up to the primary elections, I hoped the Democrats would nominate her for the presidency, and I wanted her to pick Amy Klobuchar as running mate. Looking at the numbers now, I don’t think Harris would have won the general election against the incumbent, and the primaries would have been super contentious probably to the very end.

Biden is something of a compromise, and you know how it is with compromises: nobody’s truly happy with the outcome. But hey. Middle ground. Middle ground worked.

At 6:45 or so, when the new president was sworn in, I popped open a bottle of cava I purchased a couple of weeks ago specifically for Wednesday morning.

It was a little later in the morning than I prefer for grocery shopping, but I really wanted to pick up a few things at the drugstore and the supermarket. The drugstore wasn’t bad at that hour, and neither was the supermarket until I was getting ready to check out. Not crowded or anything, but more people than I felt comfortable being around. Now I know when it picks up there: around eight.

While I was out I picked up a breakfast combo from L&L. An assortment of breakfast meats with rice and eggs. Don’t tell my doctor.

After breakfast, I went back to bed. I’d asked for two hours off Wednesday actually with a beach trip in mind, but we’ve had so much rain there was no way I was jumping in the ocean, so I grabbed what sleep I could before getting to work.

I had a phone interview with a UH Hilo athletics coach, then posted a web story, and worked on the longer version of that UHH story. Boy was I moving slowly.

After work I meant to finish the story and read Class Act by Jerry Craft, a sequel to Craft’s 2019 Newbery winner (novel in 2019; Newbery in 2020) but I ended up taking a super long nap instead, then spent a little time in the late evening writing.

After a few chores and lots of zoning, I put myself to bed around two. I think.

Lunch was a bowl of instant ramen with a lot of bean sprouts and an egg. Dinner was kimchi stew. I’m expecting this to be lunch or dinner every day for a while. I don’t see myself getting sick of it, and it’s easy to make.

Crush Girl texted me to tell me she’s nearly done with a book I lent her. I asked her how she was liking it and she said a lot. This led to my expounding a bit on the writer, none of which Crush Girl responded to, which is fine. I was just sharing.

The light at the end of the tunnel grows larger and brighter, so we must be heading in the right direction. I think it’s still a long way off, though, so hey. Leave a comment if you need someone to connect with. I’ll send you my contact details and we can text each other through the miserable spring and into summer, the earliest I expect things to return to (don’t say it!) some kind normal.

Resolutions, next post!

Lockdown: Slow day

Monday night I again got a decent amount of good sleep, something in the area of nearly six hours with Darth Vader. It’s still not enough but I’m trending upward.

Tuesday I got up a little earlier than usual and hit the drive-through at BK. I was just craving it for some reason. When I was working on campus, the nearest fast food drive-through was a BK and there were weeks when I’d go through three times for breakfast. When you have sleep issues, sometimes you have to dash out the door and pick up breakfast on the way to eat at your desk. It was a little embarrassing. Every time I hit that drive-through it was acknowledgement that I couldn’t get my act together.

It was a slow day at my desk. Not very many emails and I was waiting for feedback on a smaller version of that UH Hilo scholarship story. So I worked on the employee handbook almost the whole day. It wasn’t fun, but I was pleased to be involved.

After work I took a nap and made plans to watch the inauguration Wednesday morning. The TV coverage was set to begin before four in the morning (coverage of the incumbent’s departure earlier than that) and while I tried to figure out if I was going to just stay up all night or try to get some sleep I ended up staying up too late and then going to bed for not enough sleep. I’m such an idiot.

I ended up going to sleep at around three, then waking up around 6:30.

Breakfast was a couple of Croissanwiches from BK with hash browns. Lunch was a bowl of penne with jarred sauce (with gin, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, dried garlic flakes, dried parsley, and blue cheese). Dinner was a couple of quesadillas.

Jennifer texted me a link and some video I haven’t looked at yet. Sylvia and I texted about work stuff. Sharon asked me a work-related question and I happened to know the anwer. I sent this James Cordon link to Crissy but she doesn’t like James Cordon. Continued a text conversation with the other Jennifer about listmaking.

There was some FB messaging with a few people. One of them got me to sign up on MeWe. Like other FB alternatives, I don’t expect it to last, but who knows? FB was the MySpace alternative that unseated MySpace, and something will eventually take FB’s place. It’s still the frontier now, though. I think I only have four contacts there.

I finished writing this a couple of hours ago but for some reason didn’t press publish. It’s late Wednesday night now and I meant to get a ton of work done this evening but I was too tired. Will have to work really well Thursday to make it up.

Leave a comment. If you need someone to connect with. In these crappy. Pandemic days.

Lockdown: Nohagi

It’s already very early Wednesday as I write this about Monday, and I’m just not in the mood. It may be quite short. Or rambly. Or disjointed. Or boring!

I got a pretty good six and a half hours of sleep Sunday night, despite waking up every two-and-a-half hours. Finally got out of bed at eleven or eleven thirty. Or maybe noon. And I was hungry! Like tear into a living beast with my teeth kind of hungry.

There’s this new smashburger food truck in a used car lot on the edge of Aiea, which is much farther than I ever drive just to get takeout, but the weather was yucky and it was a holiday, so I thought maybe it wouldn’t be very crowded. And the photos of the burgers are amazing. I’m not linking to the website until I take a few photos of the food myself.

I pulled into the lot and there were maybe twenty people waiting around either to order or to get their food, and there was nowhere to park the car. I didn’t even have enough room to maneuver my car. I basically pulled in, looked around, and hit reverse right back onto Kam Highway and took off.

Ah well. There was this burger place in the 99 Ranch food court I’ve been meaning to try. It was on my way home.

Aaaaaand the burger spot was closed for the holiday. Great. Okay, plan C: just pick up some ohagi from Kansai Yamato in the same food court, then drive home and eat leftovers.

Aaaaaaand Kansai Yamato was out of ohagi. Ugggggh. I settled for a couple of peanut butter mochis and a couple of azuki mochis. Which is nothing to complain about but I was jonesing for ohagi.

There’s a decent Hawaiian food spot in the very back of the food court. Used to be Cafe Ivy but it’s Cafe Hana Hou now, and it’s been several years since I’ve been there. So I picked up a combo plate (kalua pig, laulau, lomi salmon, rice, chicken long rice, sweet potato, and haupia). It was a lot of food in all, even if portions of each item are smallish. Enough food that it was all I ate until just before bed.

I watched Sam Dunn’s Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey on DVD while I pigged out. I’d seen it before but really wanted to see it again. Such a good documentary. Then, of course, I took a very long nap. Hawaiian food will do that.

The rest of the holiday was just idling and goofing off. I didn’t read. I listened to a bunch of music. Then I wrote that Springsteen review. Very late, I had a bowl of instant ramen with a mountain of bean sprouts and a couple of eggs.

I was actually getting ready for bed before midnight when the power went out at about a quarter to eleven. I fired up a couple of small lanterns and did a crossword with pen on paper while listening to music. The HECo website said it expected power in my neighborhood to be restored by 12:30 so I wasn’t worried about using phone juice. I had backup juice anyway.

I hate going to bed with the power out.

Lights came on around 12:15.

I texted Crush Girl my adventures looking for a burger, since I’d shared with her the article about the food truck. She wasn’t very chatty. Texted Charles the Rock and Kathryn, two friends who live in my area, to ask if they had power (they did). Texted Vicky to tell her I wasn’t ignoring her; I was just a bit stressed with current events so I was unable to help her with contacts for her MLM just now. Sharon texted to tell me she’s found the best place to get lemon peel gummies at Windward Mall. Sylvia and I texted a little while the power was out. She lives a few neighborhoods over, and I was curious.

After the breakfast-slash-lunch of Hawaiian food, I ate the four pieces of mochi through the rest of the day. Forgot to mention that.

Get me outta here. As I’m writing this, we have a new president in just under five hours.

Leave a comment if you want someone to check on you when the power’s out. Pandemic days continue and you shouldn’t-slash-needn’t go through them disconnected. Seriously.

Lockdown: Conflict from con-text

Sunday was quite a bit like Saturday. The first football game started a little earlier, but I think I also fell asleep slightly earlier and got something like five and a half hours with Darth Vader, waking up only once in the middle. Decent.

The games weren’t very interesting, so I worked on several things while they were on. I think I had a slice of pie for breakfast. For lunch, I made a broccoli and brussels sprouts soup from a recipe in the Washington Post. In the Instant Pot. Prep was simple, ingredients were simple (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, coconut milk, lime juice ginger, garlic, salt), and cook time was about 25 minutes unattended. I chopped some orange bell pepper for garnish, which wasn’t the best choice for this soup. I added a lot more lime juice and a bit more salt when it was done, then splashed some rice vinegar in, about halfway through my first bowl.

It was decent. Not great. But lots of potential, and I like the simplicity and quick cooking time. I have three more cans of coconut milk, so there will be more soup in the near future. One can is saved for mochi, which I hope to make at the end of the week.

After the games, I drove to the office to update software, picking up chicken katsu from Grace’s on the way in. I meant to start thank-you cards but I was just too lazy. Did some housekeeping and emails, then requested some medical leave for blood work next week and some vacation for a little beach time this week and next.

Got home around 10:30 in the evening and did some writing. The review of The List of Things That Will Not Change came together quickly, and I meant to keep it kind of short, but it took a while to get it done. I kept getting distracted, and took a few lie-down-in-bed-and-stare-at-my-phone breaks. Which I kind of want to do right now.

I spent quite a while reading the news (and commentary), and I don’t know what I did with my time, but I didn’t lie down for bed until about four. Yikes.

Sunday morning when I woke up, Ali texted, asking me not to send _____ texts anymore. Which is fine. Except I hadn’t. The thing I sent her was very far, far away _____ and I explained it. This did not lead to mended feelings. Feelings were made worse, on both sides. I totally sympathize: _____ was something I wasn’t aware I was doing until we discussed it a couple of weeks ago. But now I was being asked not to do _____ and I didn’t in fact do _____, and I was still getting raked for it. Ugh. I hate to say it, but I think I need to back off this relationship’s growth, which I suppose may have been a one-way effort. Maybe the friendship is good enough right where it is.

I may just small-text with her for a while until we find our groove again. When we click, we communicate so well. When we’re off it’s utterly miserable. Argh. Argh. Argh.

I’m taking deep breaths as I write this. If someone you care about asks you not to do _____ and you don’t do it, but it’s mistaken for _____ (I’m not talking about interpretation here; I’m talking factually not doing _____ but mistaken for doing _____) of course the person’s feelings are going to be terribly hurt, and correcting the error doesn’t change it. I know. Something I did caused her to be upset. But I didn’t do it, so where am I supposed to go with this? I mean, why be upset with me? Ugh.

I’m letting it go. It’s worked when we’ve had miscommunication in the past. At least my last words to her were I’m sorry. If it’s over, I’ll be glad it ended on those words.

I had nicer texts with Crush Girl, sorta. Some of it was about this texting problem with Ali.

The power just went out. I’m typing this on laptop battery power. Inconvenient. It’s getting close to bed time and I hate going to bed when the power’s out at night. I don’t mind during the day, but I just think something bad could happen and I want to be awake for it. I might go for a drive if this keeps up. Or keeps down.

Resolutions, next post.

Leave a comment if you need someone to connect with, although the way things are going lately you might not want to reach out to me. Based on recent interactions. Sigh.

Review: Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You

This is a little embarrassing, but I still haven’t listened to the new Bruce Springsteen album from last year. So I’m going to give it a first spin right now and just jot down some thoughts as it goes. I’ll probably look at lyrics as I’m listening too. Important disclaimer for some people. Some songs I listened to more than once before moving on, but nearly everything I’ve written here was on the first listen of each track.

Part 1: All the tracks from favorite to least favorite

Letter to You

Really like:
I’ll See You in My Dreams
Burnin’ Train
Last Man Standing
Song for Orphans

The Power of Prayer
One Minute You’re Here
If I Was the Priest

Janey Need a Shooter

House of a Thousand Guitars

Part 2: Track-by-track evaluation

Track 1: One Minute You’re Here

I thought I knew just who I was
And what I’d do but I was wrong
One minute you’re here
Next minute you’re gone.

Starts off with just solo acoustic guitar. Almost whispered singing. Some orchestration after first chorus, then more instrumentation, like acoustic piano and tom-toms and tambourine. Mellow and pretty!

Track 2: Letter to You

I took all the sunshine and rain
All my happiness and all my pain
The dark evening stars and the morning sky of blue
And I sent it in my letter to you

Big and rocking. Full E Street Band in effect. It’s ringing, driving, and chiming the way all the good, huge Bruce songs are. It’s going to be an enormous concert favorite. Ooh the organ is sweet in the instrumental after the first chorus. This is what a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band song is supposed to sound like. I haven’t heard a Bruce song like this in decades.

Track 3: Burnin’ Train

With our shared faith, rising dark and decayed
Take me and shake me from this mortal cage

It sounds like a song about dying but I’m not sure. It’s one of Bruce’s faster songs. Great drumming by Max and cool guitar solo at the end by someone; I’m guessing Nils.

Track 4: Janey Needs a Shooter

So I held her real close, she was more saint than a ghost
And told her I so long had been prepared for her

This song goes back to the early 70s but I’ve never heard it. The lyrics are dark as heck but the melody and instrumentation are uplifting and hopeful. It’s a tough listen. I don’t know how I feel about it. I imagine singing along would make me feel weird.

Track 5: Last Man Standing

You pack your guitar and have one last beer
With just the ringing in your ears

Big, hopeful, uplifting, and wistful. Max sounds great here. Jake Clemons plays like his dad.

Track 6: The Power of Prayer

It’s a fixed game without any rules
An empty table on a ship of fools
I’m holding hearts, I play the pair
I’m going all in ’cause I don’t care

There’s a lot of religious imagery in these songs. The solo piano intro makes it sound like a Styx song at first! Man, it sounds like it’s the most unironic Bruce ever, but then right in the middle is this fixed game refrain, sung twice in a row, kind of cynical, kind of nihilistic, kind of whatever-will-be. I love the tension. I love where Roy Bittan’s piano is mixed here. In most of the album, in fact. I really don’t like the second-to-last line: “As Ben E. King’s voice fills the air.” Cheesy.

Track 7: House of a Thousand Guitars

House of a thousand guitars, house of a thousand guitars
Brother and sister wherever you are
We’ll rise together till we fire the spark
That’ll light up the house of a thousand guitars

Wow. This solo piano opening and first verse sound like a 70s Diana Ross or Crystal Gayle ballad. Full band kicks in after the first chorus. I don’t dig the background vocals. The chorus is cheesy and just not good. Ew. Ick. This sounds like an E Street tribute band; I’m not kidding. Even Bruce’s vocals are bad.

Track 8: Rainmaker

Rainmaker, a little faith for hire
Rainmaker, the house is on fire
Rainmaker, take everything you have
Sometimes folks need to believe in something so bad, so bad, so bad
They’ll hire a rainmaker

Holy cow; who’s playing slide in the intro? Oh yeah this sounds like it’s from The Rising. In fact it sounds like “The Rising.” I’m digging this chorus and bridge, although the bridge sounds a lot like “Darlington County.” First song on the album that sounds political.

Track 9: If I Was the Priest

Well there’s a light on yonder mountain and it’s calling me to shine
There’s a girl over by the water fountain ’cause she’s asking to be mine

Most folky sounding song on the album so far. Ah, I just read this song was written in 1970 or 1971, which makes sense. Bruce was trying to be Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan then. Seriously, though, it sounds like an outtake from Western Stars. Good backing vocals in the last choruses. Harmonica leading to the outro, of course. It’s nice. Nice guitar solo at the end! Miami Steve or Nils? Song is epically long though; kind of lyrically self-indulgent. Tighten up, Bruce!

Track 10: Ghosts

I turn up the volume, let the spirits be my guide
Meet you brother and sister on the other side

This song really moves. It’s going to be another concert fave. Hand claps. Not a fan on an album version. Long la-la-la fadeout ensures it’ll be a hit at concerts. Jake Clemons and Charles Giordano (organ) rocking in fadeout.

Track 11: Song for Orphans

Well sons they search for fathers, but the fathers are all gone
The lost souls search for saviors, but saviors don’t last long
Those nameless questless renegade brats who live their lives in song
They run the length of a candle with a goodnight whisper then they’re gone

Bruce considered this for inclusion on Born to Run. It’s epically long as well, but the things I dislike about “If I Was the Priest” I really like in “Song for Oprhans.” I don’t know why, but it all works better here. Dylan-like harmonica in the outro. This song reminds me a lot of Dylan, and of other songs by musicians I love who love Dylan.

Track 12: I’ll See You in My Dreams

I’ll see you in my dreams when all our summers have come to an end
I’ll see you in my dreams, we’ll meet and live and laugh again

This song sounds like an outtake from Human Touch, an album I was unsure of when I bought it on release day but grew to love, two decades later. Pretty guitar solo after the first chorus, and very Federici-like organ playing. This is a pretty song. I can see Bruce and the E Streeters closing shows with this. Good way to end the album.

Part 3: Summary

This the most E Street sounding album since 2002’s The Rising, and possibly since 1984’s Born in the U.S.A. The album mostly rocks, and it’s just really, really nice to hear Bruce playing the way he should: live in studio with the whole band cranking (most songs on the album were recorded this way). If you don’t think about it too much, you don’t miss the E Streeters who’ve died, as their replacements do more than an able job.

Themes and imagery dominating the lyrics are death, bars (especially at closing), guitars, and songs. I don’t know if Bruce intends this to be a farewell for the E Street Band but it sounds like he’s thinking about it, and how could he not? He’s been at it a long time, and he’s 71 (nooooooooo…).

The production is excellent, and I approve of the prominent placement of Roy Bittan (piano) and Max Weinberg (drums) in the mix. This is Max’s best playing in ages — he tends to sound a little robotic sometimes, so good is he at keeping time — and he sounds like he’s saying it’s not over yet, Bruce. Or maybe he’s saying if they’re going out, they’re going out like this.

Like most Springsteen albums, it will take many listens before I’ll know where to rank it among the others, but I haven’t loved a album of his on first spin as much as this one since The Rising. The best songs on that album are probably better than the best songs on this one, but this is the more consistently good album, track-by-track. This album will never unseat any of his albums leading to Born in the U.S.A., but it could possibly be his best work since.

Rating on first spin: 83 of 100, but I’m starting low to give it somewhere to go as I give it more listens. A score of 80 means “really like,” with 90 meaning “love.”

Review: The List of Things That Will Not Change

The List of Things That Will Not ChangeThe List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead (2020)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Bea’s parents tell her they are splitting up, they give her a green spiral notebook with a green pen. On the first page is the List of Things That Will Not Change. Number one, of course, is “Mom loves you more than anything, always.” And number two is “Dad loves you more than anything, always.”

Bea has trouble managing her feelings. Anger, joy, worry, embarrassment, and guilt don’t always know where to go in Bea, sometimes leading to hurt feelings, injured bodies, profound loneliness, and judging glances by her classmates’ parents.

But she has this notebook, plus two adoring homes and a friend named Miriam, whose office Bea visits once a week. Miriam helps Bea sort her feelings.

Two years after the divorce, she’s still carrying the notebook, occasionally adding to the growing List of Things That Will Not Change even as certain other things do change. Big things.

I continue to be blown away by Rebecca Stead’s agility navigating the daily tragedies of preteen life without a shred of condescension. The classmate bragging about a bottle of root beer. A parent’s new homosexual relationship. They are both highwires for Bea to traverse, and she handles this one gracefully and that one awkwardly, and she doesn’t know why, and the author handles it all with an amazing touch.

There’s a lot in The List of Things That Will Not Change for the middle elementary schooler to sort through, and a lot for the grown-up to help unpack. And it’s quite a rewarding story.

View all my reviews

Lockdown: Blue mood? Blu-Ray.

Saturday was mostly about football. Although I went to bed far too late Friday night, the first game didn’t kick off until past eleven, so I got a fair amount of good sleep.

Watched the games. Made a second pot of kimchi stew. Worked from memory and winged it a little and it came out better. Delicious. I’m adding this to my regular rotation, and some of the ingredients to the regular shopping list, although most of it I always have anyway.

The second game ended late and I was restless, so I got in my car and drove looking for takeout. I didn’t roam very far. As I approached Dillingham I remembered Crush Girl talking about the burger at La Tour Cafe, a popular spot in my hood I’ve only eaten at like twice. I don’t know why.

Restless and moody, I should say. I don’t know why this comes over me out of nowhere sometimes, especially at dusk. I was getting really down as I drove, and I worried that I was trying to stanch the flow of feelings with food or with spending money, which I have usually found to be stopgaps, although if it’s just regular moodiness maybe a stopgap is all I need.

Got there two minutes before they closed, and ordered a burger with garlic fries, and a soybean kouign amann. The burger is good. I recommend it. Not my favorite kind of fries but they were good enough. The kouign amann was quite good for a pastry that probably sat in the display case for more than twelve hours. Honestly, they should have just given it to me.

As I ate, I watched Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, a documentary by Sam Dunn, whose work I love. This film’s eleven years old and I only saw it Saturday night. It moved me deeply. I got misty a few times. I can’t express enough how much I love this band, and how sad I am that Neil Peart died last year. It was so cool to see this group talking about itself and tracing its history. The archival material is unbelievable: video and photos from the band’s earliest days when they were high-school students.

One of my favorite things about this film is the parts where great musicians talk about how much they love Rush, sharing their stories of how they discovered Rush, and the influence Rush has had on them. Taylor Hawkins, Mike Portnoy, Sebastian Bach, Jack Black (yes, he’s a musician!), Vinnie Paul, Gene Simmons. So cool to see the due respect paid to one of my favorite bands.

Those very real feelings of nostalgia and love for this band I’ve adored since I was a teen (my first concert was a Rush show at age 15) banished the moodiness for the night, I’m pleased to say. I’m writing this here mostly to help me remember. This DVD is from Netflix, but I’ve already got the Blu-Ray in my Amazon cart. If it’s good for moodiness, eleven bucks is penny-money.

I did a few chores and cleaned up a little, then finished The List of Things That Will Not Change. Good book. I’ll write my review Sunday while I’m watching the games.

Stayed up pretty late, getting to bed at around three. I can’t explain it but I went to bed feeling more peace than I have in a very, very long time. Why? Where did this come from? It can’t just be a good burger and a DVD about Rush. I’m wondering if it was fake peace, just an illusion. But it’s lasted; I’m still feeling it as I write this nearly ten hours after going to bed.

I get worried when I’m not worrying or bummed. There must be something I should be worried about, or something to be bummed about. Yet here I am, typing about peace while I watch the last of the week’s football games. Even after a contentious text exchange with someone, which I will document when I write about Sunday.

I should make a list of things that work.

Crush Girl and I exchanged some smalltext, but in the evening I thanked her for the La Tour recommendation. I sent JB an IG photo of some dishes from a new, local saimin spot to give him ideas. For Christmas, I sent him a couple of boxes of Sun Noodle saimin to share with his family. I texted Sharon and Lauren, two coworkers, to ask if we should play buzzword bingo again at our all-staff meeting in March. Lauren, who won last time and is super competitive, said yes, of course. This led to some group-texting about football, Seahawks fans, and The Bachelor.

Resolutions, next post. I mean it this time.

Reach out if you need someone to connect with. Assuming I’m not in one of my doom-funks, I’ll be happy to talk you off your own ledge. Or send you food porn photos.

Lockdown: It is well with my Seoul

I did stop at Safeway on my way home from the laundry Friday morning — there was only one other customer in the whole store. This is the way to shop. I had a few new meals in mind and shopped accordingly. The something new this time was two acorn squashes. Also picked up a kabocha.

It’s going to be a soupy week.

Slept a couple of hours before work, but I got up a little too early so I drove to the Korean market in my hood to get some gochujiang, the only thing Safeway didn’t have on my list. I’m a little surprised. Hit the Taco Bell drive-though for breakfast and loved it.

I returned to the UH Hilo scholarship story and copy-editing the employee handbook. Looks like I’m working on two versions of the story, a shorter and a longer, and I submitted a first draft of the shorter a couple of hours before the end of my workday, but after the end of my supervisor’s workday, which is not ideal because now I have to sit on it for a whole long weekend. My fault.

I had a late lunch break and made kimchi stew for the first time. Followed a pretty easy recipe, and it was rather tasty. I’ll have to adjust for my preferences the next time I make it. I can see why this is a staple in Korean homes. It’s simple and quick and you can make it up as you go along. The blend of gochujiang, red pepper flakes, mirin, shoyu, and garlic is fantastic. I’d add a little bit of rice vinegar. And I can see myself using this combination to adapt some of my favorite Japanese meals, like soba. I should see how it is cold.

I’m just mildly stoked to have created something new, with an utterly different flavor from what I’m used to putting together. I’ve cooked with gochujiang before, but not in soups or stews, and this is where I think it really shines. This and bibimbap.

I took a hard nap after work and then just vegged the rest of the evening. Wanted to read but couldn’t bring myself to lift a book. I had a slice of Dutch apple pie for dessert (or I guess for dinner), tidied up a little, and went to bed.

Texted JB to see how his family’s doing. The other Jennifer texted me to ask me if it was okay if she did something on FB and I was like you don’t need my permission! Looking forward to whatever she puts together. Sylvia and I small-texted about some office stuff and Korean food. Sharon and I did the same thing. Crush Girl and I texted about a wide range of stuff through the day.

New music releases are always pathetic at the end of a year and the beginning of the next, but there were some releases Friday. I decided just to spin a bunch of them even though I hadn’t heard of any of the bands. Dale Crover, Gatecreeper, Kabbalah, and Miss Lava. Kabbalah was the most interesting; I might have to explore their stuff more. Gatecreeper sounds like something that’ll grow on me. Miss Lava is total stoner metal, so it was enjoyable without being very mindblowing. Pretty much describes the whole genre.

Also checked out a couple of bands I’d heard of but never listened to: The Obsessed and Neurosis. The Obsessed is really good. Neurosis might be an acquired taste — I can see what they’re doing and it’s interesting, but I might have to crawl around in it for a while before I decide whether I like it or not.

I need this weekend. I might need a day off soon too. A lot depends on what happens in the next four days, I guess.

Don’t forget you don’t have to go through pandemic days disconnectedly. Leave a comment and I’ll send you contact details. Seriously.

Lockdown: Further along the downward spiral slicer

Here’s how it went down Thursday. I got a fair amount of decent sleep Wednesday night. Made a bowl of instant ramen for breakfast, with a mountain of bean sprouts and a couple of eggs. Yeah, a couple. Busted out the Shin Ramyun because my soul needed some medicating.

Worked on the UH Hilo story and some copy-editing on the new (not yet released) employee handbook. I’ve been bugging people above me on the org chart to let me copy edit the thing since my first week of work, four years ago. Now it’s in my hands and I’m getting to do it. I’m pleased, but I wish I had a longer turnaround than two weeks. Some sections of this thing are going to take some time. I think I’ll spend some time this long weekend working on it. Not because I feel like I have to, but because I really want to do a good job. And it’s 56 pages long.

We had a department Zoom meeting at 2:00. It was nice to see (almost) everyone.

In the after-work hours, I had a feeling I was going to do the laundry early Friday morning, although I wasn’t quite committed to it. I’d packed up my laundry Wednesday night and made a small grocery list for supermarket, thinking I’d stop at Safeway on my way home.

For a late lunch, I made a raw potato salad, something I’ve been wanting to try for a couple of months. I own two spiral slicers, both of them gifts (my sister and Penny) and I’ve never used either. And the raw potato salad at Angelo Pietro’s is delicious. It was a little bit of a struggle learning to use the one my sister gave me, so the results weren’t pretty, but the salad was pretty good. Not quite what I was going for — I really want long, super-thin strings of potato and daikon, and these weren’t quite that. But with the Pietro miso dressing it was good, and I’m pretty sure I’ll try again, perhaps when I find Penny’s slicer to see if it produces the thinner strings. I think the one from my sister is specifically with zucchini noodles in mind, which is a completely different concept.

Got to sleep around 10, later than I wanted, but I got kind of involved in some doomscrolling and dumb phone games.

I woke up about half an hour before my 2:45 alarm and decided this was it. I know I make a bigger deal out of all this than it really warrants, but driving to the laundry is one of two regular going-out things in my existence these past ten months. Laundry mid-week (now mid-week in alternating weeks) and the office most Sundays, although lately I’m trying to scale that back.

Plus it just feels good to turn a pile of dirty laundry into a pile of clean laundry.

I again left the laptop at home and brought only my book. Still reading The List of Things That Will Not Change and put a huge dent in it. I’ll almost surely be done Saturday, depending on how engrossing the football games are and whether or not I make it to the beach.

I didn’t need to stop at the grocery (still have a week’s worth of Diet Pepsi), but wanted to grab a few things for some kitchen adventuring this long weekend. I’m wearying of takeout and itching to try a few new things. Plus my IG is getting stale. Need new content.

I’m only half-kidding about IG. Look, when you’re locked in your house for ten months with no in-person interaction, you have to keep up some of the online friendships, even if the personal relationships are thriving with semi-regular texting. There are people I care about with whom I only interact on IG. So yeah.

Also stopped to refill my drinking water at Foodland and pick up a Big Mac combo from the neighboring McD’s.

It all went swimmingly.

Sharon texted me to talk about work stuff. It led to conversation about Cobra Kai, Morimot’s instant ramen, Tamlyn Tomita and The Karate Kid 2, and stimulus checks.

Crush Girl and I chatted a little about stimulus checks and tea. Oh, and raw potato salad, which she’d never heard of. She seemed quite skeptical.

I don’t think I snacked on anything. Didn’t even think about it.

Here’s your reminder not to suffer the ordeal of these days alone or disconnected. Leave a comment and I’ll send you some contact info. Pandemic days suck but they don’t have to be lonely.

Lockdown: When the roll is called up launder

Tuesday night I got a pretty solid six hours of sleep, much to my relief. It’s still not enough but it’s about my ceiling these past couple of months so I’ll take it.

I got up Wednesday (mostly) ready to roll. Hit the Taco Bell drive-through for breakfast. It was great, and boy does that breakfast stay with you. I skipped lunch.

Worked mostly on that UH Hilo scholarship story, but it was slow going. I’m still in the brainstorming-prewriting stage and it’s not singing to me yet. I’m kind of waiting on someone at UH Hilo to respond to an email, where I think the real heart of this thing is going to be.

Took a phone call to give one of the DOs some writing advice. Had my weekly telephone one-on-one with the supervisor, who helped me prioritize my projects, which was most welcome. I seldom left my desk, yet I didn’t produce much, and I admit I got distracted super easily.

Most of my downtime after work was considering whether I wanted to take the laundry early Thursday. Despite what I said about not having to, I kinda feel led to just to get it done, to check it off the list, to have done something in my personal life that’s routine and purposeful. The problem with this is time. If I’m going to do it, I have to decide early and go to bed early, or else my work the next day will most likely be for crap.

I kind of have to decide early so I know what to do about dinner, too. If I’m going, I usually don’t eat dinner so I can go to bed early and because I usually get McD’s on my way over.

You can see where this going. I spent the whole evening trying to decide until it was too late to decide, and then it was also too late to take advantage of that extra time with more sleep. I hate myself.

At least I got a few chapters of The List of Things That Will Not Change read. It’s pretty great so far. I think definitely a YA book (late elementary, really) that would never have been written when I was growing up.

Didn’t really have time for a decent dinner, so I had a couple of quesadillas with some leftover spaghetti sauce for dipping. I also ate like half a bag of nori kakimochi and some high-protein cheese puffs Sylvia left for me on my desk.

Sharon texted to ask for some writing advice. I texted a former student, a nurse in Texas who’s done some time in the COVID unit, to get her mailing address. I have a few Hawaii things I didn’t have room for in the packages I sent JB and my uncle, and I think she’d appreciate them. Ali texted me an article of quotes to read before bed, which is pretty much what I need. This is the one I liked:

There had been times when he knew, somewhere in him, that he would get used to it, whatever it was, because he had learnt that some hard things became softer after a very little while.

Nick Hornby, About a Boy

Not bad for lad lit, a genre I never really took seriously. I might have to rethink Nick Hornby as well, whom I have never actually read.

The week is both crawling along and zooming by. I can’t believe it’s Thursday already, and yet the Capitol invasion was eight days ago when it feels like ages. What even is time anymore?

Don’t go through it alone. Leave a comment and I’ll send you contact info if you need someone.