Lockdown: What in the world on the ground

Thursday was a lot better, ‘though not because I got to bed early. I got to bed at a nice promising hour, and remained awake until nearly 6:30. Yikes. So I unintentionally got off to a late start at my desk — 10:30, which is quite late for me. I thought I would need to make some coffee just to slog through my work.

I consume caffeine daily in small doses, a little at a time, because of my BP issues. I’ll still treat myself to a good cup of coffee once in a while because I love it so much, but gone are the days when it was a daily indulgence. Same thing for tea. I’ve even cut far, far down on boba, going from three or four cups a week to one every other week or so.

I was about to get something stirring (since I don’t drink it at home anymore, I keep a few single-cup things of instant) and then realized I wasn’t feeling the need. I got to work on a Maui proposal and got it done a little more slowly than I should have, but I called on Old Faithful (ABBA Gold) and it did the trick. I got that done, then worked on the cancer center outline, then left that unfinished to finalize one of my college of engineering proposals.

I’m still behind. Confident I can get near caught up Friday, though. I’m feeling strangely good.

It might be the boba (roasted oolong tea with milk and tapioca pearls) I had this evening sitting in my car. It might be the new phone I set up while I sipped boba in my car. It was time. My old one was giving me all kinds of problems of the sort I can’t live with. And I’d lived with them almost a year.

I skipped the walk again, to manage a few things in the house and also to veg while my phone was updating. Both did me some good as well.

Breakfast was leftover spaghetti. I needed something like that to get me into my proposal groove. Lunch was overnight oats, which were meant to be my breakfast. Boring but satisfying. I sometimes take pleasure in the knowledge that I’m eating simply. Overnight oats can do it to me.

For dinner, I wilted a bunch of chopped kale, then crisped it up a little in some olive oil and stirred it into some blue cheese mashed potatoes. Some seasoning in the kale would have made it really tasty, but it was still decent just bland. There was enough flavor in the potatoes to keep it interesting. That’s the last of the blue cheese until I open the next wedge.

The boba was my only snack.

It looked like it was going to be a slow texting day, but it turned out nice. JB sent me photos of his bagels — they look great. He was pleased but lamented that they were so labor intensive. I sent him a link to that Bon Appetit YouTube video where the test kitchen chef tries to make gourmet Bagel Bites. I am a sucker for Bagel Bites, and a coworker I confessed this to sent me the video when she saw it, saying it reminded her of me.

The writing partner messaged me to say she’s finished reading The Glass Castle. I haven’t read it, but I saw the film (and reviewed it two years ago), so we chatted a little about that. I’m unlikely to read it unless she sees the film and tells me it doesn’t do the memoir justice.

I got a few texts from a coworker on Maui about the proposal we worked on together.

Then a friend texted me asking how he can admit to his parents something he secretly did a few years ago. That’s a rough one — I can’t say what it is, but it’s not dangerous or unhealthy or stupid. Just something that will really upset his family, although not in a permanently mad way.

I texted briefly with Crush Girl, mostly to test non-iMessage texting. Yeah, she’s not an Apple person. Still a nice person though.

My first text message from the new phone was to Suzanne. Just a test to see if it was working. She wanted to know when Silent Book Club was coming back. I don’t know. The venue is opening back up soon, but I’m not ready.

Sent Ali in Boston a small text to admit something about the phone. She had no idea what I was referring to, which is fine.

There are at least two new non-metal albums I’m really looking forward to Friday. Michael McDermott’s What in the World and Sarah Jarosz’s World on the Ground. Interesting they have such similar titles. I ordered the McDermott album on actual CD, so I may resist spinning it until I have the disc in my hands. Oh, I just checked the tracking, and I’m supposed to get it in the mail Friday morning. Nice.

I’m not seeing anything exciting in metal releases Friday, although I just discovered that The Sword put out a new live album, which I’m spinning now. The production’s a bit mucky, but since it’s stoner metal it kinda fits. I’m not seeing my favorite songs on the tracklist; however, it looks like there are covers of ZZ Top’s “Cheap Sunglasses” and Blind Willie Johnson’s “John the Revelator.” I love all covers of Blind Willie Johnson songs. Just took another look at the tracks and it’s not a live album. Looks like rarities album, since only the first third of the songs are live recordings, and it turns out “John the Revelator” was a non-album single a few years ago that slipped my notice.

Spotify just informed me there’s a new Michael Franti & Spearhead album. I listened to some of the early tracks last week, and they’re about what you’d expect. I’ll definitely spin this sometime over the weekend. Also new singles from the Waterboys, Kansas, and Elvis Costello. Should be an aurally interesting weekend.

Almost done with the Hawaii Stories thing. Finally. I’m working on a secret web project too — I got a little antsy with Silent Book Club and my new secret podcast on hold. So whatever. I’ll post links next week probably.

I don’t know what I’m doing with my Friday beyond working super industriously and spinning new tunes. Should probably decide what new thing I’m making in the kitchen.

Whatever you’re doing with yours, hope you have someone to talk to about it. And if you don’t please reach out. It’s is freaking total utter madness out there, and if it’s taking the kind of toll on you it’s been taking on me, just reach out. I’ll send you cute puppy photos and dumb stories.

Also, hang in there. This, uh, can’t get any worse, can it? I just jinxed it; I know.

Lockdown: The infertile soil of my brain

Wednesday was not my best day, and I’m going to keep this short in order to make Thursday better.

My brain was an oozy mess almost all day, not just for work but in regular living. I’d walk across the room to grab something and forget what I was doing, then walk back to grab it and forget what I was there for.

I got work done, but didn’t complete anything and I should have completed at least one thing. It was frustrating.

Breakfast was a couple of hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and sauerkraut. For lunch, I needed to get out of the house, so I had some Chicken McNuggets from McD’s, which I ate in the parking lot in my car. That may have been the best moment of my day, just some quiet time with hot, salty food and diet soda. Dinner, just eaten, was a bowl of spaghetti with my marinara sauce. I didn’t put kimchi in it as I thought I might, because I have some blue cheese I want to use up, although I can’t think of a reason kimchi and blue cheese in the sauce wouldn’t be great.

The meal was nice, but I didn’t have angel hair and that’s what I really wanted. I had two pounds of “thin spaghetti,” which is like three times as thick as angel hair.

Somewhere in there I snacked on tortilla chips and fresh salsa.

I skipped the walk because my body needed sleep, as it needs now.

I got a text from Sharon about some work stuff. It turned into some talk about her family. I wish that conversation had continued, but I was trying to get work done. Turns out the effort would probably have been better focused on the conversation.

Penny texted me and Grace a link to someone’s eight haikus — one to summarize each of the Harry Potter movies. I texted back (very late, as in just now) that it was an interesting idea but the writer doesn’t seem to understand the form beyond the 5-7-5 structure. Didn’t want to be unenthusiastic, but you know. Don’t send an Enlish major who took a course in Japanese literature (a 200-level course, but still a course) to just embrace a bunch of haiku.

Grace didn’t respond at all, so at least I gave Penny something, albeit seventeen hours later.

I’m not ruling out the day’s news as a factor in my lousy day, but I certainly didn’t make my mind a good space for absorbing current events and still doing my stuff. I’m going to bed now and will be better about taking care of myself, body and spirit, Thursday.

Reach out if you’re not connecting. It may take me seventeen hours to respond, but catch me at a good moment and I may be right on it.

Locktown: Leftoverture

At the beginning of each month at work, usually the first or second, I go through all my emails from the month before. The immediate reason is to compile my monthly report, a list of the writing and editing stuff I worked on, the campuses it was relevant to, and its status at the end of the month.

The other reason is to make sure I haven’t let anything fall through the cracks. I’ve always let something fall through the cracks. It’s embarrassing.

It takes time in a normal month. In a recent month it takes a lot of time, since almost all my communication is in email now. Tuesday it took even more time because holy cow: there was a gap in my inbox between August 2019 and May 13, 2020. I would usually assume there was a problem with the indexing, especially since my wifi is super unreliable, likely to break connection when the computer’s in the middle of something. There could have been a signal drop while Outlook was fetching my inbox.

Except that late Monday, I deleted my deleted mail folder. Had I been careless, accidentally selecting a wide swath of my inbox to move to the trash, and then deleted the trash? Ugggggh.

I’ll save the problem-solving routine for someone who wants to read about it, but it turned out my usual suspicion was correct, and the stupid trash-deletion was just concidental timing.

Still, it added quite a bit of time to an already time-consuming task.

I submitted it and worked a bit on the cancer center outline, which I still didn’t finish. It’s going to be my main thing Wednesday.

I reeeeally wanted to make another pot of angel hair and just eat it all day, but those leftovers scolded me everytime I thought of it. So breakfast was a couple of hot dogs with sauerkraut, mustard, and ketchup. That Costco sauerkraut is really very good. I haven’t done a cost analysis, but now it doesn’t matter. Whatever it cost me is worth it.

I didn’t have enough of the leftover stir-fry to make a meal, but I had some leftover watercress from when I made the stir-fry. So I threw that in some oil with some kimchi, fried it up, added the leftover stir-fry, and put that over warmed-up leftover brown rice. It was delicious. I was so happy munching on it while watching an episode of Orange is the New Black season four.

I’ve done very little cooking with kimchi. I invented kimchi pizza when I was in college, and it’s still one of my favorite things. I played around with a kimchi spaghetti dish and even got advice about it from a Korean chef-owner at a local trendy restaurant downtown (it’s a one-word French name, to give you a clue). She said I was onto something but was making things far too complicated. She suggested I just make my usual pasta-and-sauce dish, but chop up some kimchi and throw it in the sauce while it’s cooking. That was a couple of years ago and I haven’t tried it but I think I will, now that I have this very good kimchi in my fridge.

So yeah: kimchi in my stir-fry was great.

Dinner, which I just had after coming home from my walk, was the last of the off-brand Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

I did well cleaning out the fridge. At least enough room to feel okay about a nice pot of angel hair sometime Wednesday. Maybe I’ll add some kimchi to the sauce.

I had such difficulty getting out the door Tuesday evening. It wasn’t until midnight that I was finally out on the street. I kept thinking it was too late — that I was going to get back so late that I’d be miserable at work Wednesday, but I just really thought I needed the fresh air and circulation.

I think it was a good call. Man, I moved pretty dang slowly. I didn’t even go all the way up Liliha to Wylie. I only went up to Judd, then across to Nuuanu and down to School. And there were a lot of people out — I crossed streets many times to avoid them, especially coming back home on School.

I walked 15,000 steps, though, and while my feet and legs are really achey, I’m mostly glad I went. I’m breaking in new shoes and they are not making my feet happy right now.

There was even less connection Tuesday than Monday. AJ in San Diego let me know her book review is ready for me to take a look at. Sylvia sent me a random message about walking past some young asian people who smelled like artificial strawberry smell. JB let me know he was making bagels for the first time.

None of it turned into much of a conversation, but it’s cool.

Wasn’t in the mood for music Tuesday for some reason. I tried, spinning a few different things, sticking longest on some Talking Heads stuff, but even that didn’t last long. Just wasn’t feeling it. During the walk I listened to podcasts only.

I’m tired and it’s past five in the morning. Going to bed.

Yesterday I forgot to end with my usual invitation to connect. Here it is now. If you’re having difficulty finding connection, please reach out. I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but I’m still working from home until the end of June at least, and although things are opening up around the island, I’m not planning to make any changes just yet. One more month of locking myself down. So I’m here if you need a little two-way interaction.

Lockdown: Eve of destruction

I’m at the laundry. The infomercial of the moment is for some kind of pain cream, and one of the celebrity endorsers is Mike Alstott, former monster fullback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. My favorite player on those Tampa teams.

For some reason I woke up at about 8:30 Monday morning, and I wasn’t super tired, so I got up early and was actually at my desk by 9, where I actually got to work. Completed an outline for a proposal in the college of engineering, then got to work on the outline for the cancer center thing. Focus was unexpectedly decent.

Which is not to say I didn’t need my lunch hour nap, which I may have stretched slightly past an hour. I put the outline aside to work on a monthly report, which of course means I finished neither.

I was tired but not sleepy, and my mood was unexpectedly positive. No idea what came over me. The weird thing about this moodiness I’m known for is that I never know what to expect from it. Every day feels getting into a car but not knowing where it goes.

I again kept the TV off all day except to catch the news. I watched the early local news on mute and it didn’t bring me down at all. I watched the national news the normal way, and yeeeeesh. What the heck?

The actual tweet: “Liberal Governors and Mayors must get MUCH tougher or the Federal Government will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests.”

Forget for a moment the debate about whether or not he can do this, and forget whether or not the rioters and looters are the same people as the protestors, or whether radical and reactionary groups are intentionally using the chaos to undermine protestors’ messages.

The solution, according to this person, when cities and states have trouble dealing with masses of their citizenries, is to turn a nation’s military against its own people. Think for a moment about where we’ve seen this kind of threat in world history, and ask yourself (no, really: ask yourself) if America fits in with those other governments. That’s not the nation I think we live in.

Twitter is a complete downer lately.

Shoot; I don’t feel like writing about that. Let’s talk about food instead.

Breakfast was leftover angel hair with my lovely marinara. Shoot, so was lunch. I don’t care. Comfort food on a day when I needed comfort. I also had two beers late in the evening, something I almost never do. When I clocked out at work I had tortilla chips and fresh salsa for a snack. I’m having dinner now: a Big Mac combo. And an apple pie. In the laundry.

I skipped the walk because of laundry, but also because I was kind of focused on the Monster after work. I actually worked on all three tasks in order to clear out a nice, visible chunk of the problem. It was unpleasant as heck, and a casual observer (heaven forbid!) would never guess I have taken a huge bite out of this task over the past month. I know, and it gives me a small amount of peace.

I was in college when the Rodney King verdict came down, the spring of ’92, living in the off-campus Christian dorm. I was shocked. I was also 23, and sure I was right, in those days when I was still capable of being so sure. I haven’t been sure of anything for decades now, and I miss that feeling more than almost anything of my youth.

I felt like running through the streets yelling, breaking things. I’m totally serious. Word didn’t spread then the way it spreads now of gatherings, marches, and protests. I wondered what I’d see if I wandered over to either the campus across the street or the state capital a few miles off. I almost went, but I was also slightly worried about my safety. I turned off the cable news and walked it off for the moment, but the feeling of rage stayed with me a couple of weeks.

So I get it. I’m not justifying anything anyone has done — I’m only saying I get it. I even get the executive’s leap to military threats against the nation’s people. I don’t know what the answers are, but I know that blessed are the peacemakers. I can’t and wouldn’t tell anyone else what to do, but I remember Rodney King, and I remember what went through me, and what my process was. I can tell myself what to do, thank God, and that’s going to have to work for now. And I can pray for peace even when peace doesn’t seem the way to go on either side some evenings.

“Is that your Bible?” asked a reporter.

“It’s a Bible,” answered a man whose favorite verse is from “Two Corinthians.”

Has anyone ever asked him, all these years later, to repeat for us the scripture reference of his favorite verse? Because I’d be utterly amazed if he could cite it. Forget quoting the verse itself; just tell us what the reference is. Who forget the reference of his or her favorite verse? Who?

I don’t even care. As I have said a million times, I separate faith from politics, except from my own politics. But I don’t understand how people who do care can keep swallowing this stuff.

Didn’t do a lot of connecting. The daily Zoom meeting was more than enough interaction for me, and it went past the reserved hour. However, I texted Crush Girl to ask if her car situation was taken care of — it was, with minimal hassle except to her wallet. I feel that pain, for real. I’m going to need transmission work before too long. We chatted for a little while about a certain card game she played with her roomies. I played it with the writing group a couple of times, with Mary, Rae, and Kristen.

I miss Kristen.

JB also texted me early to ask if I still believe in God. I didn’t get back to him until late (like, when I was done working on the Monster), but I said, “I do. I’ve tried not to, but I cannot deny I believe it. With all kinds of doubts, of course.”

Okay Tuesday. I’m off until noon, and I’m certain I’ll be using the time to sleep. Then the cancer center outline and the monthly report. I have to take care of some leftovers in the fridge, so I think foodventures will be on hold, although I can’t promise I won’t make another mug cake in the evening. I have a couple of easy housekeeping things I want to do, too.

I’m expecting a quiet, uneventful Tuesday. God and the two Corinthians willing.

Lockdown: Moderately satisfying moderate productivity

The big accomplishment of Sunday was mostly wrapping up the Hawaii Stories project. I have a few loose ends to tie up, but it’s looking sharp.

I can’t point to much else, yet somehow I feel it was a good weekend.

I woke up before my alarm again. Got up, ate breakfast (more leftover stir-fry and brown rice), did the crossword, read the news. Took a nap. Did a few small chores. Paid some bills. Ordered a cute face mask for a coworker. Stared at Twitter for far too long.

I got ready to take a walk, but I kept finding other things to do — things of such import that I can’t remember any them several hours later.

Oh, I made some marinara sauce in the Instant Pot. It came out a lot better than the sauce I made last month. That time I sorta followed a recipe; this time I did it the way I always make it, by feel, and it’s *mwah*.

So I made a pot of angel hair to go with it. My favorite pasta. That was lunch-dinner. I’m calling it both meals because it feels like I ate a lot of it, and because I’m going to be in bed soon, around the time I’ve had dinner lately.

I did keep the TV off all day except to catch the local and national news. While I wasn’t nearly as productive as I hoped, I got more done than Saturday, so maybe it worked.

Around the middle of the day I had a few bites of potato salad for a snack.

Crush Girl and I traded a few texts about her car. My writing partner and I talked a little more about summer goals. She’s got me thinking about mine now. I sent JB a photo of my mug cake and we talked about that a teeny bit.

It’s five past three and I’m tired, something I’m not used to at this hours. I’m going to embrace it and try to get to sleep now. Six hours if I can sleep until the alarm; that’s not bad for Monday morning.

I have big plans for Monday. Hoping you do too. Reach out for some connection if you’re not getting enough. I am here for it.

Lockdown: Smug mug

I meant well!

I think I dropped off at around 2:30 in the morning, but woke up at quarter to 6. I made the mistake of looking at Twitter to see if you-know-who blew up the world while I slept, and instead saw the world blowing itself up.

Finally drifted back to sleep around 8, and woke up around 10. My alarm was set for 10:30. Sooooo kind of according to plan, minus a few hours of restful slumber. I could still make this clock-resetting work.

I had breakfast around 11. Leftover stir-fry and brown rice. Yummy. Did the crossword (seventeen minutes and change for the Saturday NYT, then did another Saturday NYT from 2017, when I wasn’t good enough to finish a Saturday). Postponed the news, since I had the Twitter session earlier. Watched some of Orange is the New Black season four.

Season four opens with dismal realities but it’s funny and fun for the first two episodes, with a lot of good laugh-aloud moments. Piper, the main character, continues to be among my least favorite parts of the show. Big Boo, Pensatucky, Soso, Lolly, and Alex continue to be the highlights. I’m pleased to see a second half-Asian half-Caucasian actress, Jolene Purdy, added to the cast as a Native Hawaiian.

I’m not really sure what happened to the rest of my day. There was a nap in there for a couple of hours, around 4 I think. It was sweet. I did a few very easy chore-like things. Read the news. Had a few hot dogs with ketchup, mustard, and sauerkraut for lunch. Got moving for an evening walk at about 10:00 — kind of early for me compared to recent weeks — and thought okay, if I’m home after the usual amount of time, I’ll be in bed by 2:30 and will still sorta be on track to have normal hours.

The walk was kind of short, by design. Listened to the Kvelertak album, then felt like some Yes music — The Yes Album from 1971. Oh, I stopped at McD’s for a couple of cheeseburgers and fries, which I ate standing up on the walkway in front of the pho restaurant. I’m calling that dinner although at the time I thought it was a large snack.

I totaled about 11,700 steps when I got home before 1:30. I was a little sore.

I knew I shouldn’t have done this. But instead of cooling off in the living room with my fan on full blast, as I usually do, because I was sore, I did it in bed. Cranked up the fan there and spread out. And fell asleep.

For a couple of hours! I think I got up at 4 to write this, and I was a little hungry. I had two kitchen things to play around with this weekend, and one of them was a mug cake. I hadn’t snacked all day, now that I was calling cheeseburgers and fries dinner, and now my brain was wide awake.

So I threw together the mug cake recipe I saved and made my first mug cake. It came out pretty dang great. I mean, if you’re going to be picky about a small bite of cake, it was slightly on the rubbery side, as microwave cake-things tend to be. I kind of went into the research with the toaster oven in mind, but I found an easy recipe designed for the microwave specifically, and I liked the recipe so I went there.

I don’t have anything approaching a sweet tooth, and chocolate doesn’t do much for me, but boy am I pleased with this.

I’m listening to the next Yes album in their discography, Fragile (1971 also), which is famous for opening with “Roundabout,” their signature song. I don’t know many perfect songs, but “Roundabout” is one, and this is a pleasant album, a nice break from the black metal I’ve been writing to lately.

It’s 5:21 now, and I’ve probably ruined the whole clock-resetting thing. I don’t know what to think or feel or say. When I got up at 4, once I got moving, I was happier than I’d been all day Saturday. Part of it was getting those small tasks done, I’m sure, and part was finally getting my steps, for the first time in a week. I think most of it was just being up in the middle of the night.

Maybe I should allow myself the weekends as an indulgence for the vampire. Then have miserable Mondays, as I usually do even under normal circumstances, and adjust as the week goes along, trying my best to keep normal hours. Resetting the clock over the weekend has never really worked for me, not even when I was teaching and had to make the shift back from spring break to the fourth quarter of the academic year.

I’m disappointed in myself. But part of me feels like Kevin Kline in In & Out when he’s trying not to dance according to directions in his “How to Be a Manly Man” cassette.

There were a few moments, as I was assembling flour, cocoa, oil, sugar, baking powder, and milk in a mixing bowl, when I felt myself embracing 4:30 in the morning like Kevin Kline embracing a bad dance mix of “I Will Survive.”

Not to compare my own existential crisis with a gay man’s embracing his gayness, because that’s absurd, but I’ve spent my whole life figuring out where I need to conform to others’s expectations and where I must insist on my own drum. Is nocturnality one of those things on which I can relent for work purposes, like dress slacks and button-down collared shirts, but sink into on weekends, like cutoff jeans and Metallica t-shirts?

I pushed off a lot of Saturday’s tasks to Sunday, and now it’s past 5:30 and I can see daylight through the vertical blinds, so I don’t have a lot of confidence I’ll get to most of them.

But I mean well!

So let’s wrap this up and lay my body down.

I didn’t do much texting Saturday. Had a little conversation with my writing partner about her being on summer vacation and what her goals are. She asked me what mine are, and it’s been a while since I thought of summer that way, and of course lately I’m focused entirely on getting through spring. I think it would be good for me to think about summer, though, and where I would like to be come September.

JB also sent me a photo of his Scotch eggs, which look terrific and which he says weren’t very difficult at all. I’m impressed. It’s an impressive looking dish.

That’s about it. Here’s to a productive, restful Sunday — I think I’ll leave the TV off all day. I’m loving my OitNB but it’s eating my time in a largely unsatisfactory way. Or I’ll save it for the evening after I’ve done stuff. I have some other personal writing I need to get done, and it’ll be much easier to get through with music rather than the tube.

Reach out for connection if you need it. We all need some as spring melts into summer and virus melts into violence. It’s crazy out there, but we can get through it.

Lockdown: Giving the gift of giving gifts

I was right about the new music. There’s a new album by Alestorm, but after their first album many years ago, the novelty wore out, and although it’s still a band with some chops, the joke is tired. I wish they’d rename themselves and just write some normal songs or something.

I pretty much knew what to expect from the new Grave Digger album, which also dropped today and which I am spinning now. It doesn’t suck; it’s just not very interesting.

I think I drifted off to sleep early Friday a bit before 5:30 and woke up at 9:00 to be ready for the 9:30 Zoom meeting about the cancer center project. It was a fine meeting. Then it took me almost forever to get going on the second proposal I wanted to finish before the weekend. Not because I was tired or unmotivated, but because waaaaay back in October when I started the first draft, I did it in InDesign, not knowing I’d still be working on it in May and that I’d do it from home because of a pandemic.

The virtual desktop works fine; it’s just really slow when lots of people are on the network, espcially for resource-demanding stuff like Photoshop and InDesign. It didn’t help that the network kept disconnecting me. At first it was like type two words then wait a minute for everything to unfreeze and catch up, then a few more words, and the same thing. Ugh.

Things loosened up after the traditional lunch hour, and I powered my way through. Submitted. Then caught up on emails and took a little nap.

I helped one of our development people with something she was looking for (a proposal I worked on last summer) and did a few similar tasks. And then — tada! My workday was done at a normal hour, with my work submitted. I’m still behind, but not behind to the point of distraction. Except for a little bit of file management I couldn’t do during normal hours because of the network issues, I don’t have to even think about work this weekend. I’ll listen to some good music while I do what’s mostly brainless work.

Okay I couldn’t take any more of that Grave Digger album after three songs. Switched to some Alan Parsons Project.

Because of that early Zoom call, I didn’t get to my first meal of the day until about 12:30, which is when I’d have eaten if I’d had a decent eight hours of sleep, so it makes sense. I had a couple of hot dogs with mustard, ketchup, and this new sauerkraut I got at Costco. It’s really good.

I didn’t snack, yet didn’t find myself thinking of food until it was approaching eight in the evening. Made brown rice and ate it with Thursday’s leftover stir-fry. Filling and veggie-laden. Then I made a trip to the supermarket. I needed Diet Pepsi (Costco only sells the 24-pack aluminum cans, which I find wasteful) and picked up a few things, most of which I don’t normally get at the grocery store (like laundry detergent and dishwasing detergent).

I’m blaming Sharon for this: I saw the Haagen-Dasz she mentioned Thursday, so I bought some. it’s basically coffee and vanilla ice creams layered with crunchy Belgian chocolate, kind of like an Eskimo pie (are we allowed to call them that?) or magic shell. Which I hate. I knew there was a crunchy thin layer, but for some reason I thought it was like a wafer, not like hard chocolate.

And that was my dinner, I guess. Not my proudest moment.

The season three Orange is the New Black DVD has one commentary track, for the season’s finale, with the director and co-writer. So I watched that today (fascinating) and it really had me re-thinking things. Somehow I missed the many themes of faith and religion, but pow. They are right there in multitudes. I mean, my favorite parts of the season were faith-themed, but there’s been a little of that since the show began, so I guess I didn’t notice that it was in almost every story arc. It changes my feelings about the season, though I still can’t say it was enjoyable. I was moved to tears a couple of times, and there’s that wonderful lake scene at the end, but there’s a good chance I’m done with season three for a very long time.

Compare that with the first five seasons of Silicon Valley. So far I have never gotten tired of after many viewings.

This evening while I ate icre cream, I watched episode one of season four. It’s is grim as heck, yet it’s also laugh-aloud funny for a lot of weird reasons. This bodes well for the rest of the season.

Ali in Boston sent me a text while I was working on that proposal. She apologized for not responding to my last question and I let her off the hook even though she still hasn’t answered it. It’s not worth making a thing of it, and I respect her privacy even if I don’t understand it. We talked a little bit about s’mores, which seems to be safe territory.

JB texted to ask if I’ve ever tried to make Scotch eggs, which I have not. He’s going to attempt them soon, I think. This led to a conversation about mug cakes, which I planned to try this evening but because of Haagen-Dasz, will try Saturday instead.

Crush Girl texted me to answer a question I asked late Thursday. Then we texted more about the cookies she made, and discussed her car situation a little more.

Penny, one of the people I sent the marshmallow photo, messaged me to ask if they’re awesome or super awesome. I told her I haven’t actually seen them anywhere yet.

Jennifer and I texted a little about her visit to a dentist this week, for which I called her brave.

Then Jenny texted me to tell me someone she interviewed for an HBA-related project mentioned me. That was nice. This led to a bit of a diatribe from me about the latest HBA mailer, which says “There’s no greater gift than giving a child an education built on Christ’s love.”

Ignoring the bad writing (the education is the gift; the act of giving it is not — why don’t these people whom I love dearly just email me once in a while to ask for a quick proofread?), I ranted about how the Bible says the greatest gift is something else, and whoever wrote this copy knows it. I guess we can get nit-picky about whether “greater love” and “greater gift” are two different things, but that’s silly. Some marketer just decided to say it, and nobody thought about whether or not it was truthful. Drives me crazy, especially since I’m now doing exactly this work and am hypesensitive about making claims with emotional appeal but factual inaccuracy. Euphemism. I mean “lies.”

In Christianese, we do have a concept of “the gift of giving,” which maybe is meant here, but if this is the case, it’s got to be executed a bit more thoughtfully, to avoid confusion. Geez.

I also texted two colleagues a photo of the jigsaw puzzle AJ sent me, saying I could wait to see them at the office again someday, when we would attempt this puzzle together.

I skipped the walk in an effort to get my sleep schedule back to something resembling human. It’s 2:04 in the morning now, so if I can be asleep by 2:30, I can get up at 10:00, then try to wind it back another two hours between Saturday and Sunday. Maybe.

So here I go. Without work to distract me this weekend, I envision a few chores, some playful things in the kitchen, some Orange is the New Black, and maybe some reading.

And lots of walking, of course.

Whatever you’ve got lined up for the weekend, I hope connecting with others is part of it. If it’s not, reach out. As you can see, I can be a texting machine when I’m in a good mood, which today I am.

Lockdown: They call me mallow fellow

Not really. I don’t even really like mashmallows.

I don’t think I have any ill effects from the char siu chicken Wednesday. Here’s hoping.

Thursday I got up at 10 and got to work at 10:30. Of course I wasn’t at my best, but I was pleased to have submitted the stuff I submitted, and I already had it in mind to work late again Thursday night, only hopefully not as late.

Probably a new low for breakfast in this lockdown situation: I had tortilla chips and fresh salsa. With sour cream. I just didn’t have it in me even to heat up a hot dog. And I didn’t need to dig in so much as I needed to nibble, while I did some work-related housekeeping. Not a good look at all!

When I’m really tired and turning in past sunrise, I seldom have it in me even to think about overnight oats. That would have been ideal Thursday morning, just to reach into the fridge and grab it, but the me of four hours prior wasn’t so thoughtful.

I took a nice nap during my lunch break, and again when I sorta punched out early at about 4. I wasn’t hungry for the rest of my day, although I did have one carrot cake Oreo right before my Costco run half an hour before it closed. My first visit there in like six weeks.

I spent money there with the intention of not going back for another six weeks or so. It was a steep bill, but I’m pleased that I didn’t buy much that has to go in the fridge and then right into the trash two weeks from now when it spoils. I’m learning?

When I got home I needed another nap, and then made a stir-fry for a delayed lunch. This was at like midnight. I chopped up the char siu chicken thighs and threw them in the Instant Pot, hit the saute button, and added watercress, tofu, baby bok choi, bean sprouts, the two leftover steamed potatoes, and four scrambled eggs I had to use up. It came out pretty good.

Stir-fries were the first thing I explored when I moved out of my parents’ house and into the off-campus dorm. I’d been cooking since I was a teen, but stir-fries were my way of learning how to work with stuff I didn’t grow up with, like broccoli (my dad hates it) and a mess of Chinese veggies we never had in our house.

I don’t make them much anymore but it’s always a good return when I think of it. Easy, almost foolproof, and you can flavor the leftovers differently each time you get some from the fridge. I made enough to have leftovers for at least three more meals.

That was really lunch-dinner, because I’m not planning to eat again before I turn in, hopefully in a few minutes.

While having my late meal, I worked on one of two proposals I want to get done before the weekend. Took care of one, an engineering thing I just emailed to the development officer. The plan is to do the other Friday. This one is in its ninth or tenth draft, I think (not an intentional exaggeration if it is one), and I’ve been working on it since October. It’s turned into something of a monster.

I have a 9:30 Zoom meeting to talk about the cancer center project, after which I think I get working on another proposal.

As you’d guess, I skipped the walk again. Just really needed to focus on getting this work done. I’ll walk extra this weekend or something.

I saw a photo on Twitter of these packaged marshmallows stuffed with real chocolate. At first a weird idea, but then: what about s’mores? You could just toast a mallow and stick it between graham crackers and ta-da! I saved the photo, then texted it to like seven people with the caption: game changer.

I’d say about half of them responded. Sharon wanted to know where to get them (I don’t know), then sent me a link to a new Haagen-Dasz variety she says I have to try. AJ in San Diego didn’t like the concept, which led to a conversation about s’mores ingredient leftovers. She sent me a photo of a cocktail she prepared from a recipe in the book she’s reviewing, then we traded some thoughts about her in-progress book review.

Sylvia and I traded a mess o’ texts all day and evening. She didn’t like the idea of the marshmallows until she thought about what they might do to Rice Krispies treats, and then reconsidered.

Crush Girl thought the marshmallows looked amazing (she likes to bake, so I’m not surprised), then later we talked a little about these cookies she worked on.

Jennifer’s not one of the people I sent the photo too but we did trade some texts about her visit to the dentist. She’s brave, I said. Although maybe it’s her dentist who’s the brave one.

That about covers it. I didn’t even turn on the TV today except to catch the national news (yikes). I read the news online, of course, but other than that the only real media consumption I’ve had for a couple of days is music. Certain kinds of metal are really good for working late, late at night. This evening it was mostly Winterfylleth (black metal) and now Children of Bodom (melodic death metal).

Friday is supposed to be new music drop day, but I didn’t see anything interesting on the release calendars for the 29th. Bummer. I’m sure I missed something. I’ll check the metal blogs sometime later. Maybe between Zoom meetings. Until then, I think it’s time for bed. I might be able to get to sleep before the sun comes up — it’s just past 4:30.

Connection. You need it? I got it. Hit me up.

Lockdown: Playing chicken with chicken

That was an interesting evening.

But first, the day leading up to the evening. I did stop at the beach on my way home from the laundry. The water was noticeably warmer than it was a few months ago, and it was moving. Not the bothersome choppiness you get when it’s windy — if there was any wind I didn’t notice it. The surf way out in the break was really pumping, so when I got there half an hour before sunrise, parking wasn’t exactly tight but it was way fuller than usual.

I had a good swim. I told myself I was only there to enjoy the water, not to kill myself, but my body told me to go, so I had a semi-strenuous time. Strenuous enough to feel it in my lungs while I swam, but not enough for my arms and shoulders to ache all day after. It felt great.

I’m going to call the Big Mac combo at the laundry Tuesday’s dinner, since I stopped on my way home for a roast pork loco moco from Pancakes and Waffles. Yummy. I had that while reading the news, then went to bed.

Work was pretty good, but I had three meetings, one of them a Zoom meeting, and they ate into my day and my energy too. During the Zoom meeting, I put myself on mute so I could eat a couple of carrot cake Oreos, the only snacking I did Wednesday.

So I broke for a late lunch, thinking I’d get a few tasks done right after, then take a walk.

Lunch was a couple of French bread pizzas. They were okay. I’d really rather have English muffins. I goofed off a little and before I got back to work, I went to the bathroom. Then I went again right after. Aaaaaand again right after that. Okay, that was going to nix the evening walk — I did not want to be too far from the home porcelain in my condition.

And then my energy just fled my body, suddenly and dramatically. I put myself to bed, where I had no energy to do or think anything. It was incredible, the way I felt everything just kinda seep out of me, deflating me until I was a limp envelope of a body.

I managed to sleep after a while, getting up just before midnight after a few hours. And I felt fine. I felt great. I’d planned to cook some frozen char siu chicken thighs (from a well-known local brand) in the Instant Pot, then do a quick stir-fry for dinner. When I got the thighs out of the freezer, they weren’t exactly frozen. Uh oh.

My freezer hasn’t been operating at full ability lately, or at least what it once knew as full ability. It’s very, very old. I have a few other frozen meats in there that are definitely frozen, but the thighs were nearer the door opening, and I think they just didn’t get cold enough to freeze all the way through. The question was, have they been cold enough these three weeks since I impulsively brought them home from Long’s one very late night?

What the heck? I was already ailing, probably some kind of food poisoning. So why not? I cooked them, and they came out great, and tasted terrific, so I’m calling it a gamble well taken.

By then it was past three in the morning, and I knew I had at least two hours of work, plus this journal, so I put the thighs in the fridge and had a couple of hot dogs instead. I’ll have the stir fry either for lunch or dinner Thursday.

I got three tasks done, the two I had in mind and a new one which rolled in at 9:30 in the evening. The third took a bit long, and I needed a break around five. Finally got it all submitted about twenty minutes ago, and now it’s creeping up on 6:30 Thursday morning.

Sharon texted me while I was still in bed before I reported to my desk at noon, asking me about some work stuff — difficulty with a PDF. If there’s one huge hole in my professional desktop publishing and multimedia knowledge, it’s Adobe Acrobat. As a teacher, I never needed it, so I never had it. After teaching, I did need to generate PDFs, but I usually saved Word docs as PDFs. At the engineering firm, I had a team of publications people in Manila to make my PDFs for me. So I was unable to help Sharon.

Crush Girl texted me in the afternoon to talk about books. That was great. We talked about audio books and whether or not they count toward a reading goal, among other things. It wasn’t a lot, but I’m calling it the second highlight of my day, after the swim.

Thursday I want to finish two proposals and send them out, then complete at least a first draft of a story I’m working on. That will hopefully leave me Friday to complete a first draft of a second story, and to do the background on a third. Then I’ll have the weekend to not think about work. Lofty ambitions, but they’re doable, and they start right now with a decent four hours of sleep. I think I’ll clock in at 10:30 instead of my usual 9 or 9:30.

Reach out if you crave connection. I’m here for it.

Lockdown: Feed me, Seymour (and Lagasse)

Weeeeeellll I wasn’t very productive at work today. I’m going to attribute part of it to my only working half the day, but my brain was just kind of nomadic all day. It’s like it was compensating for all that focus Monday by giving itself a day off.

I’m definitely going to have to make up for it Wednesday and Thursday. I only work half the day Wednesday, too.

Now I’m satisfied
And she is looking fine
But you pay for your satisfaction
Somewhere along the line

Same Billy Joel song I quoted a few weeks ago. It goes through my mind a lot when I’m journaling for some reason.

Sweet Virginia cigarette
Burning in my hand
You used to be a friend of mine
But now I understand

The article I submitted, the one that unstuck my mojo? It came back with some good revision suggestions. I kinda knew it would; in fact, when I submitted it, I proactively suggested what I could do with it if my boss thought it needed a different angle. Which it does. I was playing politically safe, but it turns out this piece doesn’t need it as much as my usual corporate giving articles.

I know exactly what to do with it — decided what to do with it days ago — but couldn’t get my brain out of low gear. Wednesday for sure.

Breakfast was a couple of hot dogs with sauerkraut, ketchup, and mustard. Lunch was steamed potatoes and broccolini, the last of the broccolini. Still have a couple of potatoes left. I’m planning to do a stir-fry Wednesday; the potatoes might go in there since I have not quite one serving of leftover brown rice.

I went to bed early Tuesday night so I could get up early for laundry Wednesday. I skipped dinner, and I wan’t hungry partly because lunch was so late. Unless you count what I’m eating at the laundromat right now my dinner. I’m reserving the right to do so retroactively. My usual laundry night Big Mac combo.

My first semester in Hilo, I didn’t have a washer and dryer in the place I rented. There was a laundry quite near the house, though, across the three bridges right in downtown Hilo. It was close enough that I could leave laundry in the machines and come home for a little while before walking back. Or walk half a block to Bear’s Coffee, a nice little cafe with excellent coffee but usually expired Diet Pepsi. That first semester was lean, though, so I didn’t do it very often. Bear’s is still there, by the way. Makes me happy since so many of my haunts are just memories now.

It was a tiny laundry, with maybe ten washers and ten dryers; maybe it had fewer of each. There was a small, ancient wooden bench outside, on the sidewalk. I don’t remember any folding tables, but there must have been at least one — who builds a laundry without folding tables?

There was a more upscale laundry about two miles down the road, a couple of blocks from campus. It was huge, and well-lighted, and air-conditioned. There were TVs all over the place, and those carts with baskets, so you could unload your machine and wheel your clothes to a table.

On a Sunday morning when I went there, the place was hopping, not at all like the dark, very quiet laundry near the house, where I often didn’t see anyone. They had a golf tourney on the TV, and many of the laundry patrons were into it, cheering for their favorite guys. If it had been football, I’d have been in my element.

It was nice, but it was a bit pricier, and it was a two-mile walk, so I never went back. The next semester I was in an apartment building right across the campus, and it had laundry rooms on every floor.

The laundry I go to now has one TV, and it always has infomercials on when I get here. I expected after my first late-night wash here that I’d bring my earbuds and listen to music while the clothes washed and dried. I do bring the earbuds, but I don’t use them. There’s something familiar and cozy about the sound of the informercials. I set up shop on the folding table nearest the TV, but with my back to the screen.

I wonder if the comfy sameness of the format, whether kitchen countertop appliances or anti-aging creams are being hawked, is part of the design. One of the informercials on frequent rotation features Emeril Lagasse, whose show I used to have on every night, whether I watched it attentively or let it serenade me as I graded papers or made dinner.

Another features Jane Seymour, who still looks amazing.

Infomercials are kind of the soundtrack of being up late. When I had cable, it was often ESPN all night, which was almost always the same 30-minute episode of SportsCenter over and over for hours. Comfort TV.

There’s a poem in there somewhere.

My second graveyard shift job, the semester I was on suspension from UH Manoa, I worked at a gas station in the cashier booth. It was later knocked down and replaced by a Blockbuster, which gave way later to a credit union. It’s across Waialae Avenue from the the Kahala Zippy’s. You’ve driven past it a million times.

There was a tiny portable black-and-white TV in the booth. I wasn’t supposed to have it on when the mechanics and pump jockeys (it was a full-serve station) showed up in the morning before the end of my shift, but I could use it all I wanted once everyone went home at night. I watched Letterman every night, of course, and then Later with Bob Costas. The last thing on the air before signoff (there were seldom infomercials) was The Love Boat, a show I always hated when it was on during its initial run.

It was a much better show at two in the morning, lemme tell you. I loved it, and dreaded the credit scroll at the end of every episode.

After the first few weeks, I brought my computer with me. My Commodore 64, with modem. Home computers could be plugged into TVs back then — at least Commodores could be. They weren’t sold with monitors, as the Apple // was. The keyboard and CPU were in the same unit. So I plugged it into the tiny TV, attached the modem to one of the phone lines (we had four), and dialed into my favorite chat system, where I’d chat with friends until the sun came up.

That was fall 1988. I’m still friends with many of the people I met on that chat system, including the guy who ran it.

I traded texts with three friends Tuesday. AJ in San Diego sent me her book review draft, which I will take a look at as soon as I post this. Sylvia sent me a link for some local gourmet popcorn she’s really into. I’m not a huge popcorn fan, but her photos make it look great, so I’m considering an order. Crush Girl told me a little about her weekend, then shared how she’s having trouble with her car. I gave her a little bit of (solicited!) advice about selling a car, and offered to help her problem-solve. I think she was feeling a bit overwhelmed, or depressed. I feel that. Car problems are the worst. I hope she got something useful out of our conversation.

I also offered to drive behind her if she takes it to the shop. I didn’t say, “I’d ask you to ride in the back seat on our way back from the garage,” but I thought it.

Still super nervous about social distancing. Forced to be on the receiving end of someone’s germs, I could do a lot worse than Crush Girl’s, but I don’t want hers either. And I’m sure she doesn’t want mine.

I skipped the walk again, because laundry.

There’s a chance I’ll hit the beach when I’m done with laundry. Didn’t work out last time, but I have a good feeling about this morning.

Please reach out if you’re having trouble connecting in this lockdown. I’m blessed to have friends who reach out to me. You’re blessed too, and if it doesn’t seem like it, I’m here.