Friday 5: III III III III III

From here. I hate the way this formatting turned out but I’m not going to spend my whole Saturday trying to make it pretty.

  1. Who are your three latest celebrity crushes?

My main lockdown crush is Mona Kosar Abdi, co-anchor on ABC’s overnight (on repeat all night) news program World News Now. I’ve kept crazy hours this past year, and while I keep the TV off during the day and most of the evening, if I’m up very late, I like having the news on. Especially when Mona’s on, because she’s utterly gorgeous and exceedingly smart in a field where everyone’s smart.

My most recent crush is Jessica Kleinschmidt, a baseball reporter in the Bay Area, mostly covering my favorite Oakland Athletics. I listen to Buster Olney’s Baseball Tonight podcast every weekday, and he had her on recently to talk about the Athletics. When she’s not delivering baseball stuff, she talks a lot about what it’s like to be a woman in sports journalism, and she paints a suuuuper discouraging picture. Posts like this on IG are another reason I’m crushing. It’s total BS that she has to put up with this crap, but she does. Every fricking day.

Annie Clements has been on TV a lot this past year, as she’s the bass player and back-up vocalist in Maren Morris’s band. Maren’s had quite a year and she deserves it, but I was familiar with Annie because I listen to a lot of bluegrass and bluegrass-adjacent music, so I follow Americana musicians on social media, including Annie. Women bass players are already badass, but Annie is extra badass.

2. What three strange things have you done during the pandemic?

So much strangeness. Doing my laundry every week (in recent months every other week) at Manoa Laundry at 2:00 in the morning probably tops the list. It was a major inconvenience, and kind of stressful, but it gave me some much-needed out-of-house structure in a crazy time. Picking up McD’s at the drive-through on my way was part of the structure — my only dining out for most of the year.

Going to the office one day every weekend isn’t strange — I’ve been doing it for four years. It’s usually just for a little while, remnants of always going to my classroom on weekends during my teaching career. This past year, however, I only go in on weekends, specifically on Sunday because nobody else is around. I’d rather not, most of the time, but it keeps me connected to my workplace and it’s a good time to do some undistracted thinking.

This is really strange, since I’m such a keep-to-myself person. I’ve become acquainted with my letter carrier. Like, acquainted enough (although we’ve only met face-to-face once) that when I’m on the road and he sees my car, he waves at me and I wave back. Late last summer I left him an Amazon gift card because I’ve relied on Amazon this year, and I appreciated his important role in getting me my stuff. Then when we met, he thanked me in person (after leaving me a nice note) and we had a short conversation. It led to waving from behind steering wheels.

Oh. I also bought a $50 box grater. Very strange.

3. What three goals do you have for the weekend?

Lots of sleep. Lots of reading. Some sunshine and fresh air. I’m keeping it simple.

4. What three things are you avoiding?

Uggggh I’d rather not even think about this. I’m avoiding taking my damaged vehicle to the shop for an price quote for the insurance company who’s paying for repairs. It’s just such a hassle. I’m avoiding making an appointment with my ophthalmologist, which is a big deal because my eye problems aren’t limited to bad vision. I have a glaucoma-like condition (my record actually uses the word glaucomic) I can’t neglect, and I missed last year’s appointment. I’m avoiding housecleaning.

5. What three things are you feeling pretty good about?

The start of major league baseball for sure. It’s such a comfort. I’m feeling good about my parents being vaccinated, and my being two days away from fully vaccinated. It means I’ll be able to go over on weekends again. I’m feeling pretty good about work, since I had a very productive week — the kind of productivity my coworkers actually see. Some of my good work is pretty invisible. Some of it is very visible. I like both types, but this noticeable type helps because it more directly makes a difference in other people’s work.

Heading into the weekend with slothful intentions. I’ve got the Athletics vs. Astros game on and I’m headed back to bed for a nap.

Friday 5: Obstacle course

From here.

  1. What did you most recently leap over (or past)?
    I tried to purchase my first pack of NBA Top Shot moments. Leapt ahead to position 57,000 (I’m rounding) in queue of 300,000 eager buyers. With 67,500 packs available, I was definitely going to get one! But I got distracted by work and forgot to click back to the tab for about forty-five minutes and I missed my turn! Ack.
  2. When were you most recently forced to crawl?
    I got a new Rush Blu-Ray, a concert video from their R40 tour. I dropped the stupid disc while trying to load the player, and had to get down on my hands and knees to retrieve it from beneath my TV stand. I think it was last Thursday.
  3. What are you sprinting from?
    Debt. For several reasons mostly related to the lockdown, I’ve got more money to apply to some debt. I’m doing my darndest to pay it down as quickly as possible, this past year. It feels pretty good to see the numbers going down more and more quickly. It’s like I’ve gained some kind of momentum.
  4. What has recently required you to step carefully?
    The Asian hate issue in the continental US is very real, but Asians in Hawaii don’t feel it the same way. I’m definitely privileged and I know it, but I can’t pretend to feel what my Asian friends are feeling elsewhere. I feel something profound. It’s just not what they’re feeling, and I am doing my best to respect it.
  5. Where is your next finish line?
    I get my second shot Monday. Two weeks from then, I’ll be about as immune as I’m going to be after a year of staying away from friends, coworkers, and loved ones. It will be a huge relief, but I am doing my best not to get complacent until I’m actually over the line. I may cry.

Friday 5: Just vegging

From here.

  1. What’s your favorite root vegetable, and what’s your favorite way to eat it?
    I am Japanese, so before I had to get carb-conscious, pretty much every meal came with rice and I’m fine with it. Rice is probably my second-favorite food after pasta. And in leaner times, I survived on huge amounts of rice and small amounts of meat and veggies. However, I’m also Irish and German, so we ate a bunch of potatoes instead of rice at many meals. My mom was cool like that. And boy do I love me some potatoes. I’ll eat mashed potatoes as a whole meal, not merely as a side.
  2. What’s your favorite leafy green, and what’s your favorite way to eat it?
    Because it’s so flexible and because I really like the taste, it’s probably cabbage, which I like best in a stir-fry. As a dish by itself, I think my favorite is won bok (Napa cabbage), which I like best as kimchi! In recent years, I’ve purcashed far more bok choy and choy sum, so a good case can be made for them. Choy sum blanched and added to soups or ramen. Bok choy roasted and eaten as a side.
  3. What’s your favorite legume, and what’s your favorite way to eat it?
    Pinto beans, seasoned, refried, and stuffed into a flour tortilla! Also black beans and garbanzo beans, added to any other beans and tossed in a vinegar-based, oniony dressing as a four- or five-bean salad. And soy beans, boiled in salty water and eaten from the pod.
  4. What’s your favorite vegetable to put on a pizza?
    Onions for sure. I think my favorite pizza is chicken breast, onions, peppers, and tomatoes with lots (and lots) of red sauce.
  5. What’s your favorite fruit to eat in a green salad?
    Thinly sliced strawberries, especially with a good balsamic vinaigrette. Canned mandarin oranges are also surprisingly good in the same situation. I’m not counting tomatoes, but if I did they would naturally be number one. Grape tomatoes. With papaya seed dressing.

Friday 5: A Clubhouse ain’t nothin’ but a sandwich

From here.

  1. What is the longest you ever spent on the phone on one call?
    In high school for sure. My longest calls were with my classmate Kelly, who helped me get through long nights the summer before our senior year, and V, the person I’ve spent more cumulative time on the phone with than anyone else. That same summer and the following school year, we easily had six-hour calls.
  2. When you were a teen, how important was the phone in your daily life?
    Super super super super super super super super super important. The school day was hectic, and because it was a private school, we all lived on different parts of the island. Hanging out was difficult on school days, so school nights were for the phone. In addition to all the usual “What did you get for number six on the chemistry homework?” there were all the pretty girls who needed regular how-are-you-doings from me.
  3. How much do you use the actual telephone function of your phone today?
    My boss calls me once a week. I call my parents roughly once a week. And that’s pretty much it unless I must speak on the phone with one of the coworkers, or conduct an interview. I’m getting better about ordering takeout on the phone if I must, but that’s a royal pain.
  4. How well do you handle phone calls at work?
    My parents taught me phone etiquette, as I think all my friends’ parents taught them. I speak very well on the phone in a way I don’t see anymore from most young people (and you know me; I’m a huge apologist for young people). I did time answering phones for my high school as an office assistant, and I worked retail for several years. Oh, and I’m a fill-in at the front desk at my office now, in non-pandemic days. I don’t like speaking on the phone, but I do it well. On the other hand, I have to get psyched up to call someone for an interview, or even to call my parents sometimes. So in that respect I don’t handle it well at all.
  5. What are some good telephone-themed songs?
    “Answering Machine” by Rupert Holmes is pretty great. “Call Me” by Blondie. “Tiger Phone Card” by Dengue Fever. Oh, and here’s one you might not think of because we think of it as a song about the radio: “Pilot of the Aiwaves” by Charlie Dore. The lyrics seem to indicate the persona is writing to the DJ but who does that, unless it’s to Casey Kasem?

Friday 5: Brr!

From here.

  1. What will you remembrr about this past week?
    If last weekend counts as part of the week (and why wouldn’t it?), I’ll remember that for the first time in quite a while, I had pretty close to an ideal weekend, all things considered. There was zero socializing, of course, and no cafe time or anything, but it was such a good balance of getting stuff done, having fun, and resting that I’m hoping to do it again this weekend, taking a vacation day to make it my second three-day weekend in a row.
  2. What’s trying its best to clobbrr you these days?
    Two respondents have already said what I’m feeling. Lots of COVID fatigue. I’m not a very social person, but even I need some human interaction once in a long while. What I really miss is the anonymous social existence I thrive on: going to the movies by myself among people I don’t know (not too many, please). Reading a book with a latte in a semi-crowded cafe. Writing on my laptop in a boba joint. Even trying to focus on my work while some of my coworkers chatter in nearby cubes. But yeah, friends and family too. It’s an enormous relief that my parents are nearly two weeks past their second shots and they’re already taking advantage by getting out a little more.
  3. What’s going on in the neighbrrhood?
    Lots of infrastructure work at the main intersection near my house. It won’t get close enough to my house to bug me, but it effects nearly every excursion, including the trip I just took for Taco Bell breakfast. I actually don’t mind it much because everyone’s driving super carefully, and my trips are short enough. I also suspect the neighbors are talking about my front yard, which has become a forest of weeds taller than me. It’s a horrible eyesore, but I’m just a tenant and my landlord takes care of the yard. I hope people realize this, but I don’t think they do. I have new neighbors across the street and across the other street (I live on a corner).
  4. When were you recently required to summon some brravery?
    My job requires some brravery nearly every day. I write stuff needing other people’s approval, and I put enough of myself into it that nearly every time I seek it, I’m putting myself on the line. Within my department it’s not so bad, since we’re all doing it. I think it’s one reason our department gets along well. We have to trust each other to be honest and critical in order for our work to be its best. Passing the work along to development officers, donors, recipients, and academics is a bit daunting sometimes, especially when I assert my own writing judgment, overriding the suggestions of others. Also: getting groceries every couple of weeks. Yow.
  5. Over what will you happily labrr this weekend?
    I have a book review and two film reviews to write. Also, I’m working on this huge Spotify playlist for playing in the background while I work. I want it to be days long, to minimize repeats. It’s all songs I’m familiar with but don’t hear often so I won’t be bored. Familiarity helps so I’m not distracted by it. Not hearing the songs often helps in those lulls between tasks where I can spare a few moments to think about what I’m hearing. Anyway, I think it’s near 18 hours in duration and I’m only up to artists whose names begin with D. It’s pretty fun work.

Friday 5: Couples therapy

From here.

  1. Which celebrity couple, past or present, do you find particularly interesting?
    In high school, it was Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley, alas. Lately, because of Ted Lasso, it’s been Jason Sudeikis and Olivia Wilde, alas. For all my life it will be Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
  2. A couplet is a pair of rhyming lines of verse, one after another. Example:
    I think that I shall never see
    A poem lovely as a tree.
    In the form of a couplet, how would you describe your hopes for the weekend?

    Peaceful sleep, terrific books, a sunny beach
    Give me lots and lots of each.
  3. With what (or whom) have you recently, consciously uncoupled?
    I’ve got this friend, a former coworker who moved to the East Coast who I really felt a connection with, but we recently had a miscommunication ending with my apology and that’s the last we communicated, around a month ago. I had a feeling we were saying bye, and it saddens me, but I also think it may be for the best. She’s the only friend I’ve ever had who shares my birthday, which I consider special, but she’s a twin, so for her it wasn’t special at all. We were never a couple (it was never that kind of friendship), the way we think of it, but as friends I think we’ve consciously moved on. Alas.
  4. When did you last purchase something in a two-pack only because it doesn’t come in a one-pack?
    This annoys me. When I was still driving my Camry, it was more than ten years old when the map light went out. I had to buy a two-pack of replacement bulbs. I don’t know why I held on to the second bulb; there was pretty much no way I was ever going to need it, but who throws out a brand-new bulb?
  5. What were you doing a couple of hours ago, and what will you be doing in a couple of hours?
    It’s 7:11 p.m. Thursday evening here. Two hours ago I was watching the local news and finishing up some work (I work to 6:30 most evenings). If recent history is any indication, I won’t even begin to think about dinner until 9:00, and it’ll take half an hour to put together (most likely kimchi stew). I’ve done my chores for the day, thank goodness, so I’ll just be eating and trying to relax.

Friday 5: Big game

From here.

  1. What item in your house recently ceased (or is likely soon to cease) Operation?
    My very ancient fridge died around September or October. I cleaned it up and cleaned it out but it’s still in my kitchen. I probably won’t have it picked up until I’m ready to buy a new fridge, and it’ll be a while. Until then, I’m getting by pretty well with one of those dorm-sized fridges. One of the larger ones. The smallness of the fridge is making me use up my food a lot better. As a single person living alone, I still throw quite a bit of food out, but it’s a lot less than it once was. And nothing just takes up space anymore: if it’s past a certain usefulness, out it goes.
  2. If someone were to poker ’round in your refrigerator, what item might he or she have questions about?
    I think most people would be surprised to see a grown human, especially one who does a lot of his own cooking, making do with a dorm fridge. Inside the actual fridge, they might have questions about my two kinds of mustard (yellow and dijon) and the assortment of cheeses I keep. If they’re not familiar with a lot of Asian ingredients, I might have to explain the gochujiang, doubanjiang, and Korean miso, Although I guess miso’s a lot more mainstream these days.
  3. What’s in your backPac, Man?
    Right now the backpack I use most is the eBags Pro Weekender, which isn’t meant to be an everyday backpack, but a weekender (duh) good for your laptop and other gadgets. Since I’m home all the time now except for Sunday visits to the office (when nobody else is around), I have no real need of an everyday bag. However, I am also not going on any weekenders, and I want to get familiar with the bag so when I do finally get to travel again, I know how to use it best. So on those Sunday visits, I pack two laptops, a small Bluetooth speaker, my four-port USB hub and the necessary cables, my wireless keyboard and mouse, and sometimes a book. No, of course this isn’t what I would travel with. I’m just testing out its usefulness for different stuff. Plus, these are the things I need when I go to the office anyway. Seriously, if you dig cool backpacks, click the link and take a look. This is one sweet bag. It unzips all the way around so you can open it wide open, flat, to the laptop compartment. Some TSA stations won’t make you take the laptop out when it’s like that, which saves hassle going through the checkpoint. And of course, although it’s pretty hefty, it should fit under the seat in front of you. If not, it’s easily good for the overhead bin.
  4. When did you last run into an old Flame?
    It’s been quite a while. I see her husband more often for some reason. Shortly after I left Assets, I saw her and Traci at the Starbucks in my hood, having a Bible study. It was actually quite encouraging to see they’re still doing that. Once upon a time, we were in a Bible study together, a very long time ago. I have to say running into them was a lot less awkward than I expected. I’m still on Traci’s Christmas card mailing list. No longer on R’s. Anyway, this would have been some time between summer 2012 and spring 2013. Wow.
  5. With what object are you frequently playing Hide-and-Seek?
    Hide-and-seek with my everyday objects has generally been an ongoing game for most of my life, but lately, maybe because my days are so simple and I don’t go anywhere, it hasn’t been much of a problem. However, since I’m one of those guys who carries his phone with him everywhere, even room to room when I’m home, I’m most likely to put that down somewhere and not know immediately where it is later. That can be somewhat maddening.

Friday 5: A-M-Z

From here.

  1. What’s better in its middle than in its edges, beginnings, or ends?
    Pizza and pie for sure. My first meal of 2021 was a slice of apple caramel pie, and I don’t often do this, but I kind of ate the whole slice except the edge crust. Threw that away. The filling-crust ratio on the edge of a pie is just not satisfactory. I’ll add an airplane ride to this list too.
  2. Why is a sunrise better than a sunset?
    All the usual answers: hope, potential, new beginnings. I love that my birthday is in early January, too, for the same reasons. Where I live, you can see the sun rise from the water and then set on the water in the same day, and while the colors are often much nicer for the sunset, the shoreline in the east and north of Oahu is a lot nicer for sitting on the beach.
  3. What’s better in retrospect than when you experienced it?
    I remember romantic relationships and near-misses much more fondly than they probably warrant, even near the ends. The long relationship with R is the exception. Also almost every decent hike I’ve ever been on. Misery while you’re doing it, but amazing when you look back on it.
  4. What songs have wonderful endings?
    I’m disappointed that nobody has said “A Day in the Life” by the Beatles, which I thought would be the number one response. I’m mentioning it here because it should be, but it’s not even my favorite ending of a Beatles song. That goes to the wistful “yeah-yeah-yeah, yeah” at the end of “The Long and Winding Road.” I’ll also nominate Bruce Cockburn’s “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” and Led Zep’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
  5. What was the first thing you unwrapped in 2021?
    Taco Bell and a bottle of cava, my January 1 breakfast.

Friday 5: Year in review, part 2

From here.

  1. What did you learn in 2020?
    A major lesson I learned on my own, highlighted by recent events at ESPN and the testimonies that followed, is that you simply cannot assume your work will speak for itself. There are people who make important decisions about your employment who do not know what you do. I listen to this podcast I’m fond of but don’t always enjoy. Its target audience is younger than me by twenty years, it’s about sports but not really, it’s super creative in how it uses its time (even the ads are mustn’t-miss programming), and it’s way up front about its host’s mental health issues. It didn’t start off this way: its host and co-host took time to develop a relationship and a nurturing community of listeners (a community that doesn’t include me, but this is also part of its appeal). The co-host is pretty much 49% of the reason for the show’s success — its creative success and its commercial success. It was doing so well that ESPN asked them to produce the podcast twice a week after a couple of years of going once a week. Not two weeks after it began its double output, the co-host was laid off. It’s a clear case of executives acknowledging a program’s success while having no clue what makes it successful. Screw that. People get laid off; it’s a ridiculous, unfair fact of business. This is insane, though. ESPN is killing the show it’s trying to build. Anyway, I wen through a bit of this myself this year.
  2. What do you regret doing (or not doing) in 2020?
    The big one is injuring my knee. Long, late-night walks were the thing around which my lockdown life revolved on a day-to-day basis. When my knee got too sore even for sleep, it was the end of my walking obsession. My physical and mental health since then is now one of the things I have to manage consciously, and I’m not always good at it. It has definitely healed some, so that I’m not thinking about it 24 hours a day, but last week’s car repair stuff meant a bit more walking than I’ve been doing, and my knee has really complained, reminding me that when this pandemic crap is over, I need to get it looked at. We’re talking major quality of life issues now. I regret not reading.
  3. What are you proud of doing in 2020?
    I neglected my living space for quite a long time, and I’m proud that I’ve taken big steps toward getting it squared away. I have a lot yet to do, but it feels really good to see my progress.
  4. Who did you get to know better in 2020?
    It was a real challenge getting to know anyone better in these circumstances. I have some new coworkers I’m getting acquainted with now, but I think the spirit of the question has more to do with people who were already in my life. I think my answer is Ali, who was already one of my best friends at work, but she’s got these walls that keep me away from a lot of personal stuff. She left the company (and the state) in February, and we’ve spent a lot of time communicating via text since then, and I feel like she’s letting me in, a little at a time, ‘though she insists she doesn’t consciously keep me out anymore. I think I disagree, yet I acknowledge I’m getting to know her better. I’m grateful for her friendship.
  5. What do you hope to accomplish in the remaining days of 2020?
    I would really like to get these car repairs done. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I don’t want to leave my car anywhere during a long holiday weekend, and I don’t think they’ll be able to take me during the week. Oh, I know. The new blog. I still haven’t decided if I’m actually going to launch it, but my frustration with the writing makes me think I should really do it, if for no other reason than to explore the challenge of writing it interestingly and well. I’m giving myself until December 31 to decide. If I go live, I go live on New Year’s Day. I’d also like to finish a few books I started.

Friday 5: Year in review, part 1

From here.

  1. Who made you laugh most this year?
    The hosts and producers of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. The podcast was once about three hours a day, five days a week. It’s a bit shorter now, but because these guys got more of my attention more often, they had an easy lock on this answer. The refusal to take sports or anything else too seriously (except very serious trivialities, like whether or not the original Running Man was a good film) is exactly what I need in my sports talk. They’ve ruined me for most other sports programs because the others are so dang sportsy.
  2. In what ways was 2020 better than 2019?
    I was seriously depressed from July to September last year. It creeps back in once in a while, when I’m reminded of the stuff that had me depressed (there isn’t usually a reason, but this time there was), yet overall my mental health has been so, so much better this year. I’ve also been much less stressed about money this year, a thing that will make a big difference all around.
  3. What was the best movie or TV series you saw in 2020?
    The best TV series was easily Ted Lasso, which I have now seen five times all the way through, some episodes more times than that. I haven’t watched as many films as usual, since my attention span makes it difficult lately, but the best is probably Borg vs. McEnroe (2017), which I watched three times.
  4. What was your favorite food discovery of 2020?
    It may be the Instant Pot the Tamashiros gave me as a late Christmas gift in February. I don’t use it every night as I did when I got it, but it’s super useful, especially for things like curries and stews. Tatsoi was a nice discovery, a veggie I’ve been familiar witih but which I hadn’t brought into my own kitchen until this year. Works great cooked or raw.
  5. What’s something nice you purchased for yourself or received as a gift in 2020?
    I splurged on some pricey wireless headphones on Prime Day. They’ve made a difference in how I hear music, even though I don’t use them every day for that. They’ve really made a difference in my Zoom calls, a now-regular part of my work life. I also bought a green screen, which takes away some of the Zoom stress.