Tag: Humor

Weekend Links: 100 Years

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
– In Flanders Fields, John McCrae

Happy Saturday, kittens! What a week this has been…the midterms, the après midterms, the long anticipated catapulting of Mr. Sessions from the ranks of the Trump cabinet–which is not an uniformly good thing, shockingly. Another mass shooting in the US, another flurry of Brexit shenanigans in the UK. It’s all quite a lot to take in and the news that Notorious RGB broke a rib literally caused me to clutch mine in fear.

We are commemorating the centennial of the Armistice in WWI tomorrow, which is a much bigger deal and more solemn occasion here in Europe than in the States; here the scars of the war are still present on the landscape. Britain has been filled with events, exhibitions, memorials, art, commentary, and remembrance services for a year in the lead up to this Remembrance Sunday, which have been deeply moving.

In other words, the world is filled with highminded thoughts and low brow dark humor, as always. And so, I’m bringing you a links post with a nice mix of important and decidedly lighthearted pickings from around the internet this past week to help you thrill with triumph at humanity, or steel yourself to contend against its darker impulses. Whichever you need this weekend.

Through a glass (or the 18th century) darkly.

Hot damn, this stuff makes me happy!

It’s absurd how expensive this dress is…and how much I’m drooling over it!

This piece at The Atlantic, about the economy of human attention, how we spend ours and how it gets hijacked, was an interesting read.

No shit, Sherlock.

This story is everything I love: Tudor history, gore, historic items discovered in attics–it’s perfect.

Shock. Surprise. Whomever could have guessed. /sarcasm

Whoa, slow down, news!

Obviously.

Consent is sexy! 

This was quite an endeavor…and a recap….

One of my favorite up and coming artists gave a beautiful performance on SNL last week if you are so inclined.

What a wild ride of a tale!

We still have not forgotten the Blake Shelton fiasco, People, but this will do nicely to rectifying your shameful lapse.

That’s one hell of a mis-sent invite, trolls. But thanks!

Meditating on this piece this week.

Let me sing you the song of my people.

About that horrific mass shooting, you’d never guess that mental illness and sexism played a role, huh? Just kidding. Also, more horrifically, it transpires that among the survivors are individuals who also survived the Las Vegas mass shooting earlier this year.

We need to talk bout the overabundance of neutrals in the ethical fashion space. My kingdom for a jewel tone…

EVERYONE ELSE WRITING TWEETS AND HEADLINES CAN GO HOME.

Join me in fangirling over Gillian Flynn some more. Rage, complex femininity, difficult characters…this profile has everything. This is relevant mostly because Katarina and I had a fab conversation about authors adapting their work for the screen and we both talked about how much we liked her work in all its iterations.

This one made me laugh aloud. Brilliant!

Scatological American history.

The only post-election reading I heartily recommend.

Overcoming the Sunk Cost Fallacy

“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.” 
― Noam Chomsky

This year I have thrown away or donated literally hundreds of dollars worth of stuff. Wherever possible I have given away and donated things that I don’t want or don’t use. My little sister has benefited from the regular reorganization of my bathroom shelves and closet. I’ve given unloved items to coworkers and friends, and my preferred charity shops have received several drop offs. But stuff has also ended up in the trash where I couldn’t reasonably or ethically unload it.

I sort of cringe to type that, but it’s the truth and I’m continuing to try and be radically transparent about my money choices. Hi, I’m C. and I have (metaphorically) tossed money in the garbage in 2018.

In thinking about what I’ve gotten rid of in the last year in a bit of depth, I realized how much of being able to reduce my possessions and luxuries to a more reasonable level has come from a breakthrough about a concept that is well established in the economics world and drives a surprising amount of consumerism in my opinion. Let me explain…

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

The Sunk Cost Fallacy is an economic and business concept which can be explained in a lot of very complex and intelligent ways but can be boiled down pretty simply: a sunk cost is money that you have either spent or lost and that there is no way to get back. The fallacy part happens when human biology and psychology kicks in. There is some pretty good scientific reporting out there about how, as a species, we are designed to try and maximize our investment of time, energy, or resources. Unfortunately, there is also good scientific reporting to show that we can also be pretty dumb about calculating our return on this investment. Where we have spent time, energy, or resources on a thing, the more we have put into that thing, the less likely we are of being able to walk away from it, even if the results are bad.

Businesses fall prey to this, and so do people. If you’ve ever stayed in a movie theatre watching a film you hated, if you have ever extended a relationship of any kind even as it turned toxic, if you have ever continued to throw money at an idea or business even as the likelihood of your success shrinks, if you have ever kept eating a meal after you are full simply because you’ve paid for it, you have fallen into the SCF. Obviously these things are not at all on the same scale as one another, but the principle is the same.

Once you awaken to the SCF, I mean really awaken to it and its effects in your life rather than just being aware of it as a concept, you start seeing it everywhere. Learning to realize and accept my own SCF thinking when it comes to my spending has been a process for me over the past couple of years. A small, irrational part of me used to try to justify my bad money choices–which I think is a fairly common experience. If I hold on to this item, I may use it some day. It may fit. I may like it more. It may be useful.

I’m facing up to this because, speaking only for my own case, this has been categorically bullshit.

A makeup or skincare item that breaks you out or you hate the look of on your face is no less expensive or more valuable for sitting on your shelves for months because you refuse to either re-home it or throw it away.

A piece of clothing that you never wear or lingers in the closet (possibly with the tags on) did not cost you less because you are holding on it.

An item that doesn’t function the way you need it to will not function better for taking up space in your drawer, and you probably will not use it more over time.

When you buy something, in almost every single case, the damage has been done. The cost of labor, construction, and transportation has already been incurred. Your wallet has taken the hit. And unless you come to your senses and return the item quickly, you are not getting your money back. This is why certain items have ended up in the donation pile or in the bin this past year. I had done the financial damage, the choice was not the best one, and I had to find an intelligent way forward.

Managing your bad money choices.

So, how have I coped with this uncomfortable tally in the past year? A few ways.

I put myself on certain restrictions, and documented them publicly to keep myself honest. I didn’t quite meet my goals, but by writing and talking about them, I am convinced I mitigated damage. Did I spend money on makeup this year, even though I had a goal not to? Yes. Would I have spent more without my goals? Almost assuredly yes. Did I buy more than 18 personal items this year? Yes. Would I have bought more without the mental check of knowing I was making myself publicly accountable for them? Definitely. All told, I spent less than 4% of our disposable income on personal shopping this year and I feel good about, even though in terms of sheer numbers I know I could have used that money better.

I made a little extra money by reselling some items. Did I recoup all money I spent in the first instance? No, but I did get some cash back by reselling items through trusted consignment dealers and listing them online, and I cleared out space in my closet as a result.

Where I couldn’t sell, I donated plenty of items to shops where 100% of the proceeds go to charity. Does it make up for money spent or environmental production costs? Nope. Did it help make anything even a tiny bit better in the world? I like to think so.

I did (actually) practice some delayed gratification. I would like a much more “finished” and decorated home than we have, but I decided to be okay with our fairly spare furniture and blank walls for a while longer. We bought some art for our home for our anniversary this past year and one of my 2019 projects will be spending money on getting things framed. I bought one piece for the front room and I’d like to buy one or two furniture pieces next year if I’m happy with our financial progress as well, but I’m going to play it by ear.

So, what can I take away from a year of trying to be more honest and intentional about what I buy?

 

The only cure for poor spending choices is the discipline of good ones.

That means making budgets and sticking to it.

That means planning your purchases in advance, with thought and intention, and not giving into impulses. Food, travel, clothes, random shit…it all matters.

That means building a wardrobe slowly, intentionally, and thoughtfully.

That means delayed gratification in saving up for big ticket items for your self, home, or family rather than slapping down a credit card.

None of this is groundbreaking or radical stuff, but it is important to reiterate until it becomes gospel to you.

Weekend Links: VOTE

“Despotism, which in its nature is fearful, sees the most certain guarantee of its own duration in the isolation of men, and it ordinarily puts all its care into isolating them. There is no vice in the human heart that agrees with it as much as selfishness: a despot readily pardons the governed for not loving him, provided they do not love each other. He does not ask them to aid him in leading the state; it is enough that they do not aspire to direct it themselves. He calls those who aspire to unite their efforts to create common prosperity turbulent and restive spirits, and changing the natural sense of words, he names those who confine themselves narrowly to themselves good citizens.” – Alexis de Tocqueville The US midterms elections are next week and the news is appropriately…hectic. Oprah’s out knocking doors, and Trump is releasing racist ads and whipping up fear over a group of refugees over a thousand miles away. I have appreciated the viral moment from the gubernatorial debate between Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Gillum because I think it encapsulates a much bigger debate, and one I wish we would stop having. Much ink has been been spilled as to whether one person or political or another is racist. I think it is more useful to look at the company they keep. I care less than I used to whether Mr. Trump is personally racist or antisemitic. I know that self-avowed racists and antisemites think he is, or at least will protect them. I vote accordingly. If you’re a US citizen, make sure to cast your ballot this week. If there is one good thing coming out of this administration, it’s heightened engagement in our collective government. Last weekend capped a week of bigoted crimes and violence with an act of horrific antisemitism that took my breath away. Like anti-black racism, I was among the comfortable and stupid who assumed this particular bigotry was on the decline. I have been heartsick and ashamed to realize the shallowness and depths of that ignorance, and to watch it surge back into the mainstream. I do not hold Mr. Trump personally responsible for the acts of other people. I do hold him responsible for elevating nationalism, conspiracy thinking, and bigotry to as “acceptable” by either disregarding or failing to understand the importance of his office. He has deliberately normalized, cheered, and even politically accepted benefit from what it is his duty to denounce and hold at bay. I could extrapolate this to a lot of other party leaders as well who may not hold these views themselves, but are perfectly willing to capitalize on people who do. Too many people have winked or ignored what should not be ignored. Conspiracy theories are not harmless, words have consequences. He’s awful. I’m sorry, but he is. This seems like a good week to recall our first president’s words on and to the Jewish community in our newly formed republic. AGAIN. WORDS MEAN THINGS. I had a kneejerk reaction to this news, but I’m comforted by the knowledge that the actual Constitution cannot be amended by tweet or executive order. I think. Who knows any more. People are trash. (The internet being what it is, quite a lot of information started coming out from the person who really instigated the rumor mongering in the first instance. Mostly that he’s bad at faking stuff.) Surprise surprise, more trash people are potentially involved. Here’s a good summary of this bonkers news piece. An evergreen question: are they (all of the people in this orbit) bad geniuses or just lying, dumb, and lucky? Okay, let’s have a palate cleanser from the political news with this trailer which did not make me tear up in the slightest, no sir. One of the most important-to-me artists and albums. Cliche, maybe, but still true. This is too accurate… Summarizing our current political and cultural world through the lens of Kanye West, professional wrestling, and YouTube drama. Seriously. This piece at Politco offers some cold consolation: many celebrities of alt-right have not been able to ride the coattails of that popularity to true power and many are disillusioned with a president they once championed. These self-aggrandizing (mostly) men have inflamed some of the worst of our nation’s impulses and bigotries and enshrined malignant chauvinism and narcissism as the dominant force in our government…but sorry you lost your book deal! (/sarcasm) Oh, Venice! …This is…a headlineWhoops. A longer piece on exactly how we got…here (waves hands at world in general). Relevant to my London interests! Simone Biles is a badass. An evergreen statement, really, but doubly true this week. This headline! From the FT: we’ve got a waste crisis and we’re out of ways to hide from it or try to make it someone else’s problem. GIRL GANG GOOD NEWS MINUTE: https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

October Accountability

“Unshined shoes are the end of civilization.”
– Diana Vreeland

It’s that time again, time for some radical accountability in exchange for my beloved cabinet purchase of earlier this year.

It was a good money month. We negotiated with our landlord for reduced rent whilst we deal with the gaping hole in our ceiling, but even before that we met our goal of keeping several hundred additional pounds in the bank for savings and debt payments. We’ve cut way back on discretionary spending on food, and I’ve been mindful about packing and taking lunches to work most days. When I don’t, I’ve switched up my habits and have been spending my cash budget on healthy options at a grocery store rather than a more expensive option. Small habit changes, bit results in our monthly cashflow!

My sanctioned purchases this month were replacement underwear and athletic shoes–acceptable and necessary given that I’d literally worn their predecessors to shreds. Unsexy but true.

I did have a naughty moment and pick up a blazer this month, kittens, but I don’t feel bad about it. A navy blazer was on my shopping list for 2019, and I found a beautiful vintage Aquascutum wool one in a vintage pop up for £45 which is a bargain (literally a tenth of the price I would end up paying for a current season jacket). I also had to replace another pair of work heels this month as I lost another set to the cobblestones of London and the heels were more torn up than a cobbler could deal with. I am not beating myself up about this too much either, as being well-shod is a requirement in this city. Finally I had a gift card that allowed me to pick up a pair of trousers which might be bending the letter of the law, but does not break it. Ha!

And other than that, nada! I had to replace some beauty and hygiene items but I did that with drugstore equivalents and have discovered some major gems. My next empties blog post is going to be a doozy as I’m blazing my way through products lately and slowly finding a few cheaper alternatives to more expensive items, and in some cases verifying that some things really are worth the money. Alas, however, that I cannot replace a few major makeup items until I’ve also used up their like-for-like equivalents already in my stash.

Tell me of your own small victories this past month in the comments, kittens!

Five Things I Loved in October

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 
― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Happy Halloween!

Another month has flown by and 2019 is barreling down on us fast, my piglets! The weather has turned cold recently so I’m adding extra layers to (my side of) the bed, pulling the jumpers out of storage, and suddenly gripped with the all-consuming desire to make soup for two meals a day. This is the best time of year.

That being said, it’s been a rough month for a lot of people I know and the world in general so I wasn’t surprised that in tallying up the things that brought me joy in October, items or pop culture that soothed and comforted kept cropping up. As the winter holidays creep closer with all their attendant joys and stresses, take a moment to do something comforting. It’s good for resilience and good for the soul.

Tell me what you’ve been drawn to this month in the comments!

Salt Fat Acid Heat, on Netflix

Another month, another love affair with a smart food show. In a oversaturated market, Netflix still manages to make some really delightful programming and I continue to eat it up with a spoon–pun intended. The host of Salt Fat Acid Heat, writer and cook Samin Nosrat, takes so much JOY in food and it’s wonderful to watch and participate in that joy with her. I now want to run out and buy her cookbook simply to make some of her recipes while rewatching this show…that’s how much I liked it. (Also, shout out to Tom and Lorenzo for this observation which is 100% correct!)

 

Leather jacket, by & Other Stories

A confession, I got my leather moto style jacket from & Other Stories at least three years ago and loved it, but was so intimidated by it as a piece of clothing that I rarely wore it. I honestly didn’t feel “cool” enough to wear it, such is the power of psychology of fashion and clothing. But over the past couple of years, as I’ve learned not only accept but lean into the styles and clothing I like and not act as though I had to meet some sort of achievement (be it thin-ness, grown up-ness, or wealthiness) to wear them, I have become so much happier. And a result, probably more stylish. I have been wearing the heck out of this leather jacket this year and loving it more and more every time I do. I will be a bit sad when I have to set it aside for a proper winter coat, but at the moment, the weather continues to be perfect for jackets and I continue to be a happy bunny about this fact.

 

Botanics Organic Hydrating Eye Cream

In my quest to discover drugstore or cheaper equivalents to higher end products, I’ve picked up a few bits and pieces from trusty Boots this past month including this eye cream. It’s been a joy. The weather turned chilly this past month and during the colder months my skin requires an extra boost of hydration and I’ve already been layering up additional moisturizing products. Eye cream is a product that incites a lot of feelings in the beauty world, some people swear by it and others consider it so much wasted money. Me personally, I feel that an extra layer of moisture in that area is beneficial and this is a delightful, lightweight cream that absorbs quickly without feeling greasy or disrupting other skincare or makeup items. Highly recommended!

 

 

Chillhop, YouTube

This is such a strange one but work this month has been very busy with a lot of curveballs through I’ve had huge stretches of time where I’ve been in a situation where I needed to do a lot of writing in very loud, crowded, and busy spaces. I needed unfussy, mellow, and pleasant background noise. Jeff has teased me about it all month but this channel has been a lifesaver! There are a million and a half channels like this but so far Chillhop is my favorite, which you can also find on Spotify.

 

Luminous Silk Foundation, by Giorgio Armani

A proper update in my 13 by Halloween challenge is coming shortly, but as a preview–yes! I did finish this foundation to the last drop! What a gorgeous product it is too, I do not remember the last foundation that I finished before it went off, caused skin issues, or was otherwise aggravating. This was (yet another spot on) recommendation from X. who has yet to lead me astray in such matters. The only reason I have not repurchased it is because it is 1) expensive as hell and, 2) I have another foundation I intend to use up before pushing the boat out on another. Per my shopping restrictions I am going to try and find a temporary replacement in the drugstore, but if I give myself any outs at all when it comes to my ban it may be for something as foundational as…well… you get it. That day is a long way off, so in the meantime let me salute a bottle that’s done good service in the wars and which I can heartily recommend for a variety of facial textures and tones.

How I Cope With My Brain

“Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.” 
― Paulo Coelho, Manuscrito encontrado em Accra

Yesterday I jotted down some words about my own experience with anxious episodes, today I thought it was worth summarizing the best ways I’ve learned to cope with downturns in my mental health–thankfully non-chronic but still more plentiful than I would wish.

So here is a short list of stuff that I, a completely unqualified non-professional, have found to manage my own brain:

Reading. Whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, or news, reading forces me out of my own head. It’s my experience that good books or journalism silence the id and compel you to hear or view a perspective or narrative not your own. Anxiety and depression (in my personal observation and experience with those whom I love and have seen go through their own battles) narrows the perspective and sensations to the self, usually in painful or harmful ways. When I’m anxious, I cannot escape the vortex of my own thoughts, often circling my sense of self. I find this boring and indulgent. Books are a brilliant antidote.

Exercise. Damn it.

Therapy. A qualified therapist can help identify the things or experiences that trigger or exacerbate mental health challenges, and teach you coping mechanisms for getting through them.

Identifying and safe guarding alone time. Wither it’s an opportunity to work quietly, meditate, take a walk, or just not have the obligation of responding to inputs from society and other people, being alone for designated periods can be deeply healing. I didn’t always appreciate this but do more and more the older I get.

On the flip side, making plenty of time for fun with other people. Too much alone time can backfire and result in isolation or too much time in your own head when a dinner or drink with friends, date with a romantic partner, or even an enjoyable work do can provide the socialization that most of us need to be balanced and healthy. I think that the best definition I can imagine for true emotional balance is a person who can be content and happy both surrounded by people or by themselves, and both are skills that can be learned if you don’t have them naturally.

It’s not a complicated or complex formula, but it combats what I particularly struggle with. If anyone out there deals with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or any other form of mental health challenge, I’d be curious as to what non-medical self care or coping mechanism you use to keep yourself as balanced as you can. My observation is that while there are broad themes to these conditions, the personal experience of them is unique and so have been the recipes for managing them.

Weekend Links

“How pleasant to walk over beds of these fresh, crisp, and rustling fallen leaves…. How beautiful they go to their graves!”
—Henry David Thoreau, Diary, October 12, 1853

Wow. What a bad week on the news front, in a year of bad weeks. Domestic terrorism, racism, possible test balloons of anti-trans actions (which my cynical brain interprets as gross attempts to seize controls of headlines or a news cycle), conspiracy theories, acts of violence against people of color…well, let’s process that together in the comments. There are so many ongoing stories that may change and evolve more in the coming week, but it’s still be a disheartening one for the state of the US and parts of the world.

In MUCH happier news, one of my best friends friends is coming to visit us soon and I’ve been looking forward to this literally all year. She’s coming off the back of some brilliant news that I can’t share yet but will once I can because I’m so darn proud of her I could cry! On to the links and watch this space!

What an absolute shit show this has been to watch, and I’m heartsick at how no one will be held accountable in a meaningful sense. Fall guys taking a fall is not accountability. Failure to impose sanctions or really any kind of consequence is not accountability. Even the Crown Prince finally calling this act a tragedy and organizing a photo op with the son of the victim (who has since left the country) is not accountability.

This column by Sali Hughes on family estrangements, especially when necessary, hit me directly in the feels.

All hail our dark queen!

A primer for our times, fellow angry women.

A thoughtful piece of writing on the new awkward age for the modern woman: the mid-30s. Old stereotypes about aging and life accomplishments aren’t uniform and there are more choices for women than ever before, which means that the yardsticks we use to measure ourselves by can be confusing. This is an oft-explored topic in writing, but this piece felt very relevant and fresh to me…probably because I’m turning 33 next year. “At this age, it’s possible to be brand-new or old hat at the same thing. There’s no unanimity, and that can be awkward.”

Oh, my heart and childhood!

This, on the other hand, made me clutch myself and feel old.

I’m deeply interested in third-culture kid experiences, for obviously personal reasons.

What is happening in the panhandle of Texas, pray tell?

The corruption and mess continue unabated.

The administration is demonizing a small group of people currently in Central America and nearly two thousand miles away from our borders, but using them to whip up fear and nationalism in the run up to an election. It’s racist and it’s deplorable.

Meanwhile, the US armed forces are shaping the future of warfare. It’s just not in our official army.

The latest Dr Who episode is for our moment and yes, I cried.

A blunter take on the idea of biological clocks.

What weird and stupid times we live in.

Tell me again how scary it is to be a man these days. Go on. I dare you.

I’m pretty sure this is how every science fiction dystopia starts.

He’s awful, racist, and sometimes only semi literate:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

This is fucking scary.

It got worse on Thursday. And after a single statement about national unity, the President went straight back to attacking the media.

And it got worse on Friday when still more targets, including senators, received explosive devices. An arrest was made (thank god for law enforcement), leaving a lot of conspiracy theorist who had quickly advanced the idea of a “false flag” (that this was a fake incident drummed up by Democrats for sympathy before the election) having to delete their tweets or walk back their (insane) potions. “Outsmarted yourself” indeed, Rivera

And where were these people all radicalized, pray?

Absolutely vital reading: this six month investigation by the BBC.

The presidential twitter feed has been curiously mum on this. To be clear, I don’t think presidents have much to do with the stock market except in the macro and long term, but if you build your PR on the market rising, you own the PR of the market falling.

I believe it, but I’m petty as fuck right now.

This isn’t a “southern” thing or a “racist” thing (though god knows there are elements of racism baked into the core of it). This is a “party keeping itself in power and resorting to increasingly illiberal means to do so” thing.

Finally, let’s end on a nice note. I have learned a new, and highly relevant to me, word!