Tag: Humor

The Year in Baking Thus Far

Kittens, I’m calling it. I’m a third of the way through this challenge to bake weekly for a year, having begun it over the 2019 Christmas holidays, but I need to press pause. I enjoy baking and I think it’s better to make your own sweets than buy them, but this is a pace I cannot continue without more exercise than quarantine measures allow. I know vanity isn’t the highest motive to claim, but as a person who requires effort to keep her weight level to say nothing of dropping, this is not conducive to my long term happiness.

But I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t celebrate and share the sugar goods which have gotten me through 2020 so far. I’m pivoting to healthier cooking for the time being, but I’d be delighted to live vicariously through any of you who care to try the below and share your efforts!

Gingerbread cookies

Banana bread

Cheese scones

Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake 

Midnight Mocha Cheesecake

Savory Oatmeal Cookies

Classic chocolate chip cookies

Classic chocolate chip cookies again, because Jeff ate all of them!

Classic chocolate chip cookies AGAIN by request. Why mess with a good thing?

Pear tart with goat cheese and honey

Apple cinnamon tart

Classic chocolate chip cookies AGAIN because I had to get it done and was down to the wire this week

Coconut Thins

Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies again – because they are seriously addictive

Banana Bread

Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies AGAIN

Earl Gray Yogurt Cake (a reader recommendation and SO GOOD)

 

Happy Freaking Easter…

Happy Easter from a former-mormon-currently-agnostic-humanist-stillmormonfeminist-effective-altruistic-mess. For those who believe and celebrate, I wish you a blessed day in unusual circumstances. For those who don’t, I hope the more general spirit of seasonal renewal and hope refreshes you. I particularly appreciated the sermon from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and some comments from one of my former religious community’s leaders at their semi-annual gathering last week.

Malignant radicalism has led to a lot, if not most, of our collective problems as a species over my lifetime. Tribalism, performative politics, terrorism, homophobia, cruelty, misogyny, inequality, racism, and destructive hubris all seem to require it.

Whether religiously motivated or not, I would like to see that same fervor turned towards radical kindness over spite, radical collective care rather than radical self interest. The radical dismissal of selfishness that most faiths, at their best and most appealing, call for and encourage.

What kind of world would it be where we stopped trying to legislate others’ morality and focused more on living our own? Where we stopped using contractualism as an excuse to deny care to one another? Where we felt a sense of obligation to one another simply because we’re all specks of dust together on a slightly larger speck of dust hurtling madly and briefly through the void, and not just animals doomed to hunt or be hunted? Where care and community, or in other parlance salvation, isn’t based on transaction or complicated formulas?

Might be nice.

 

COVID Hot Take: We Don’t Need Celebrities

Hear me out. We DO need artists. We also need entertainers. And we desperately need public figures (see also my hot take on how monarchy isn’t celebrity for other reading).

But those are people who make, do, engage, organize, communicate, and create.

Celebrity as an isolated concept – being famous – has never been more useless. Instagram influencers prompting us to buy things we can’t afford or enjoy lifestyles we don’t have – have never been less relevant.

To be clear some famous people are clearly adding value to other people’s lives right now and some of that value is purely frivolous. I’m all for it. Laughing, crying, thinking, or distraction absolutely have important roles to play, especially when for so many our inner lives have never been so important. There are many celebrities/famous people who offer this to us, but there are an awful lot who don’t.

I am all for Rhianna being more effective than whole governments in her philanthropy (see here, here and here for just a few examples) AND for Leslie Jordan twirling batons and humorously documenting his life. I delight in musicians streaming sets and impromptu concerts for their fans, I cringe at actors singing to us from their mansions.

Being famous is (finally) being revealed as fundamentally useless. Twitter followers and Instagram likes are not real people and are a trivial replacement for human interaction. What do you do with talent? How do you use your voice? How do you choose NOT to use it – which can be just as important. What purpose do you serve – no matter how grand or trivial?

Just existing isn’t enough.

Fight me. Or change my mind. Whatever. I just want to talk to people – beyond my husband who has heard all of my rants already.

A Few Things I’ve Learned About People Thus Far Thanks to Video Meetings and Social Media

The quality of their personal hygiene habits

Their natural hair color

Who has hair extensions

Their home decor tastes

Their stress habits

Not a few drug habits

Their preferred coffee/tea mugs

Which sweatshirts they wear for a week at a time

Their preferred stress snacks

Who is and is not properly adhering to social distancing (STAY HOME)

How many health/workout routines are utter lies

Everyone’s trashy TV faves

We’re all learning so much about one another kittens, and I’m personally delighting in it. I may be unusually fortunate but my work pals and I are chatting once a week at least on virtual hangouts, my brilliant team member threw a virtual pub quiz for our virtual cocktail hour yesterday, and everyone I know is trying deliberately to be kind and compassionate to colleagues. I’ve had long talks with my dad and sister, text chains with my brothers, and am even more involved with my extended family on social media and texts now.

If a bit more honesty, kindness, and generosity, and a little less performativity comes out of this mess, it would not be the worst outcome.

Weekend Links

It’s the double Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and we are celebrating, by staying inside. The weekend links are dropping early. It’s been a very long week, even though it’s been short and I suspect many of us are in need of a little recharge. Check in from your various socially distant patches, my loves.

This is objectively Not Great. (ETA: this is objectively Worse.)

All of this will pass eventually, but I wonder whether we will lower ourselves back into our previous lives and carry on exactly as before. For all the horror and grief around us now, there is already something melancholic about the thought of abandoning this strange, slow-motion version of life. I’m obviously not singing the praises of illness, fear or loss of freedom, and I look forward hugely to the fortnight-long bacchanal that will doubtless follow the lifting of all these restrictions — drunken orgies in the streets, I should think, and quite right too. But when that moment has also passed, I think we’ll be left with a better sense of what does and doesn’t matter, what is or is not important, what does or doesn’t constitute a good use of time. We’ve lived for a long time like huge spoilt babies. Maybe we’ll grow up.”

NOT NOW, CHERNOBYL.

Is…is this headline a metaphor or…? (PS – National Geographic is doing other sterling work in these troubled times.)

Remember how Theresa May created a “minister for loneliness” job and everyone laughed at her?

Um, this may not be the best time to break a deal with a deity.

Of course these troglodytes think this. Of COURSE they do.

Remember how the last Secretary of the Navy resigned because the President pardoned a war criminal? I do. (ETA: he resigned. Good.)

It’s the corruption, stupid!

Fuck

Let’s end on an aggressively positive note, shall we? We need it.

Something Small

What’s something small and everyday that you find yourself missing right now? I’ve got a weird one: my commute.

We are lucky to live in central London and on a normal day I can get from my front door to the office in about thirty minutes if I catch the right train, perhaps slightly more if I don’t. I tend to give myself 45 so that I can walk at a leisurely pace to the train station and pick up a nice coffee if I feel so inclined. I pass a historic churchyard that’s typically filled with dogs on their first walk of the day, and a famed antiques market every Friday.

My transit time tallies to between an hour and an hour and a half a day. It’s exercise, fresh air, and usually I get an episode or two of a podcast in or a chunk of time on my current audiobook (which I listen to at at least 1.5x normal speed so this can really add up in a work week).

I miss it. Genuinely. This was prime “me time” and I miss the start of my morning that got my blood moving and switched my brain on.

The Real To Do List

I’ve rearranged my furniture, cleaned out and reorganized my closet, done laundry and dishes every single day, made four batches of soup, baked my weight in cookies and bread, mastered the art of sensibly shopping for toilet paper, refrained from petting dogs on our once daily sanctioned walks, painted my nails twice, sweep the floor and wipe down kitchen counters daily, and am exercising multiple times a week.

And still have energy to burn.

Help.

Going slow and steady has never been my strong suit and being in a situation where my role and responsibility is to…stay home and do as little as possible by normal standards…is bizarrely challenging.

This is of course said from a position of ludicrous privilege and I recognize that.

But the dissonance between what most of us want to be in a crisis (active, part of the solution, responsive, the grand gesture types) vs. what is actually required of us (stillness, self awareness, patience, thrift, and compassion) is so telling and interesting to me. I suspect I’m going to be thinking about this for a while to come, and hopefully long after this is over.

Sunday Check In

This week I’m thinking a lot about people and isolation, in particular the idea of isolationism.

I don’t get it and I think if anything dooms us, it will be this idea of radical individualism without self knowledge.

In the parlance of the meme, we live in a society.

Societies are interdependent, complex, and messy but the underlying premise is that we’re more likely to survive in a team than on our own. I believe that. And taking that to some logical conclusions is what forms my sense of justice, ethics, politics, and rightness.

I think that the reason I’m so deeply turned off by hyperisolationist views is that I’ve never come across a single one that isn’t founded on some sense of what I feel to be deeply entrenched privilege and selfishness at its core. White supremacy and nativism both posit that the “in group” is good and pure and what’s bringing it down is the “out group.” And could we but rid ourselves of them, we’d all be living on easy street. Almost to a man, every single person I know who espouses “libertarian” views is – without irony – a landed white male. And again almost to a man, all of them are convinced that their success is based wholly on merit and would have been replicated if they had been born in a dramatically different demographic. They shouldn’t be obligated to enable others’ success because “no one enabled theirs.” I have tried to understand this worldview but must confess I lack sufficient imagination. I’m equally annoyed by the doom and gloom contingent of internet shitlords who proclaim they want to “burn everything down,” because as Natalie Wynn put it, “You only get to watch the world burn if you have the privilege of not being on fire.”

Why are some people so angry and offended at the notion of being obligated to care for or prioritize others? How has this been turned into a notion of theft rather than collective investment from which we all benefit? How did mild inconvenience become repackaged as tyranny? I don’t understand the performative selfishness and defiance that has been twisted into some sense of virtue. My best working theory is that wealth, security, health and power are so out of reach for so many people that we’re all just sort of trying to cling to whatever we’ve got, or snatch away from others what we can. Which sort of makes sense as an emotional short term reaction but is horrific as a long term strategy.

I am delighted to pay taxes that fund elementary schools even though I don’t have children because, I know I benefit from living in an educated society. I am GRATEFUL to live in a country where my taxes fund the NHS because my right to health is not dependent on my job – as if basic health must be earned and those who can’t or don’t are somehow expendable (which is just eugenics, but with more steps). I change my shopping and eating habits because I don’t want to lose Indonesia, Miami, Venice and Greenland to the ocean, even though I live none of the those places. I am happy to stay inside on a glorious spring weekend because if I don’t someone who I don’t know and have no connection to may be endangered.

No man is an island, wrote John Donne.

Weekend Links

Beloveds, we’re another week in and looking at our first full month of lockdown. Let’s share some weekend reading or links in the comments and enjoy one another’s company a bit, eh? The weather in London is (annoyingly) beautiful, so we’ll be throwing a picnic in our living room and tidying our house with the windows open. Keep well, kittens.

As more than one Twitter commentator has noted, for all of the Mad Max (aka hyper masculine) versions of catastrophe, it turns out that the skills we need are more in the (traditionally female) realm of food organization, emotional management, and providing care. The “apocalypse” is not what people expected. Good. May we learn some lessons from this.

This is both a fabulous illustrated travel essay and insightful. The line that got me, however: “Our situation is shit, but this is the fertilizer of the future.”

Water water, everywhere…but not enough for all of us to drink.

Bill Gates revisits his highly prescient TED Talk in a longform interview.

His single saving grace may be his breathtaking ability to just say the quiet parts out loud for us.

They CAN edit or deplatform bad actors, but they largely choose not to. When all this is over, we’ll see if those policies or practices stand.

I suspect there are a lot of empty hotel rooms right now. Meaning that this isn’t responsible, it’s despicable.

On the side of the goats.

But disasters and emergencies do not just throw light on the world as it is. They also rip open the fabric of normality. Through the hole that opens up, we glimpse possibilities of other worlds. Some thinkers who study disasters focus more on all that might go wrong. Others are more optimistic, framing crises not just in terms of what is lost but also what might be gained. Every disaster is different, of course, and it’s never just one or the other: loss and gain always coexist. Only in hindsight will the contours of the new world we’re entering become clear.”

Basic math.

Amazon is not the only option. Support independent book businesses.

…yeah…sounds right

Count me among the many victims of this quiz. And hot damn, I’ll take this result!