Customer service is still weird af.

September 13th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox | Weather | Whining | Work - (0 Comments)

In which I STILL don’t understand how people can know so little about the services they use.

If you were the majority of Floridian customers I assisted during my shift at work this evening, you’ve just been through a massive 500-year storm that destroyed tons of shit, you either don’t have power or you’re running a generator, and you’re astonished that you can’t watch TV.

You don’t have power! Why in the fuck do you think your cable and internet should work? Irma was one of the strongest storms in recorded history. It did at least eighteen billion in insured losses damage (not counting crop losses or flood insurance), infrastructure is destroyed, farms are destroyed (Irma took almost half of the citrus crop in some areas), you had to fucking evacuate, and you can’t believe you didn’t return home to functioning internet?

Really?! YOUR CELL PHONE’S OBVIOUSLY WORKING, AND THAT’S A GODDAMNED TECHNOLOGICAL MIRACLE CONSIDERING THE CIRCUMSTANCES, but you’re mad anyway?

I have compassion for you, I do. It must have been and must still be incredibly stressful. But being a dick to customer service reps because you haven’t had internet for four days is just weird. Shit’s broken, my people, important shit, and if your neighbors down the block have cable and you don’t, well, I’m sorry. Life’s not always fair. Go watch TV at their house.

Multiple customers told me it was absolutely unacceptable for an outage to last four days. They demanded refunds, threatened to cancel (which, please, if you could get service from anybody else you’d already have it, and we both know it). It was a 500-year storm! Read a book, be glad you’re alive, and chill the fuck out! There are innumerable people out there working day and night to restore power, internet, cable. It takes time!

One customer admitted she had no power at home and was charging her cell phone at the corner store, but still freaked out about not having wifi in her house. It blew my mind. EVEN IF there wasn’t an outage and WE WERE DELIVERING INTERNET TO YOUR HOME, sweetie, IT WON’T WORK IF YOUR ROUTER ISN’T GETTING POWER. How can you not know that?

Furthermore, how can you not realize that if your house doesn’t have electricity, the node providing your cable probably doesn’t, either? Sure, installations like that have generators, but they only run if you can get to them to put fuel in them. If gas or the generators themselves aren’t accessible, they’ll go down. The network is vast, interdependent, and complicated, and service crews can’t even start working on them until cleared to do so by authorities. Internet service doesn’t just fall out of the sky, for fuck’s sake. Power outages, destroyed equipment, line cuts: there are tons of them because A MASSIVE GODDAMNED ACT OF GOD JUST ROLLED THROUGH.

I’m sorry your kids are driving you nuts without screens to occupy them, and I’m sure it’s a bitch, but your internet and cable will be restored when it’s restored. You need to back the fuck off the ignorant attitude and be glad you’re all still alive with homes to return to. It’s not like your provider somehow fucked up; it was an act of God. And at least your cell phone still works. You may be going over your data plan, but at least you’re online.

#googlemanifesto

August 7th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox | Web - (2 Comments)

In which a man suggests that women and men are, in fact, different. And gets fired for it.

Isn’t there evidence that males tend to cluster, intellectually, more toward genius or idiocy, whereas females tend to cluster toward average?

If so, this means that while there are, of course, both genius and idiot women, it also means that, all things being equal, any woman dealing with any man will likely not be dealing with an equal. It is more likely that he will be either smarter or dumber than she is, which explains a lot of our cultural noises about men being stupid and women being evil, or vice versa, or whatever.

If you’re a man interacting with a woman, she will probably be either your intellectual superior or your inferior, statistically, because you are less likely to be average than she is. Your odds of finding a woman exactly as smart as yourself are low, because you’re probably either an idiot, or, if you’re lucky, a genius. And if you happen to be average, well, good for you, unless she’s an outlier.

In essence, the #googlemanifesto dude is probably writing somewhat above the intellectual capacity of a lot of females. Which explains much of the enraged backlash: they’re mainly responding to key words.

Luckily, intelligence alone isn’t that big of a deal. It’s just one facet of any human being; there’s a great deal more going on, and much of it much more important.

I do denigrate his cost efficiency model. Many things should be done because they’re right, and not because they increase income. Using money as the go-to proof of efficacy is as ridiculous as expecting everything to be nice and feel good. Success can be measured by a variety of benchmarks, not just efficiency-as-measured-by-sales. Psychological well-being, for example, or longevity, or generosity.

http://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-diversity-screed-1797564320

Look! They call it an “anti-diversity screed”! Because it suggests that males and females are biologically non-identical!

Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.

OMG are boys and girls different, measurably and demonstrably so?!

I’ve invented Chipotle!

May 11th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess | Food | Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which I cooked, like, all afternoon, basically.

Today, I made two salsas:

Salsas and an air plant!

A hot poblano-corn relish:

Poblano corn relish

Spicy black beans:

Black beans

Mexican brown rice. That weird cottage cheese guacamole I make. And shredded chicken, for him.

Cheddar, sour cream.

There’s leftover queso blanco dip, so I heated that up, too! What the hell!

Fuckin' yum!

Look at that. Fuckin’ delicious burrito bowl.

Dinner

And I didn’t even have to put on pants!

Anti-semitism

April 24th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Memes | Web - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a clarification.

In case you don’t know, internet parlance uses “jew” to mean the 1% far more often than the race. It’s extreme stereotyping parody.

Is it still racism, to hyper-attenuate a quality typically associated with a particular race and use that word to mean certain financial activities?

Is all stereotyping racism?

Blogging

April 21st, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Memes | Web - (1 Comments)

There’s still a blogosphere, sorta.

Entirely by accident — I was looking for recipes for leftover fried fish — I found a blog written by a middle aged white woman. I read a couple of her posts (one entirely about a jacket; another, about internet anxiety and unfriending people on Facebook and not really using certain platforms), and then I clicked through her blogroll.

The blogging experience we all had ten or fifteen years ago, and think of as “over”? Is still happening.

I clicked through to one and the author’s been dead of breast cancer for two years. Another featured a year-old post about how the blogger’s giving up blogging because of fatigue and a fucked up family. But another was current and about buying and using makeup. Another was also current, with brilliantly written little posts about everything, about anxiety and a sort of timidity about enjoying things.

And they all link back to one another and all have or had non-ironic readers who comment. They have layouts and themes even older than this one. It’s so great.

It’s also really weird, because every blog I read back in the day is dead… most of the links in my blogroll haven’t been updated in years, and three of the domains are expired.

I remember blogging earnestly and non-ironically. I remember how the internet was, in various corners, before the wonderful and terrible shit-show that is social networking and trolling and painful awareness of privilege. I remember it so well that now I keep an analog diary now and rarely post here, even though I pay for the hosting and the domain year after year after year, even though nobody reads it but me and maybe Stanley.

I love goblinbox, though, and my dad still blogs here, so it’s worth it just to host that.

As for my “what should I be wearing at my age” question, apparently middle-aged white women wear skinny jeans, expensive shoes, expensive tee shirts, leather bomber jackets, carry an expensive handbag and, for a pop of color, wear name-brand red lipstick. So, that’s me in sweats forever, then.

Current status

February 5th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Domestic Goddess | Food - (0 Comments)

In which it’s Superb Owl Sunday, and I’m not even sure who’s playing!

It’s 1:24 in the afternoon and I’ve already downed this:

Bloody Mary

(It’s a brilliant bloody mary with lots of pickle juice.)

And this:

Tostada

(A mostly-homemade bean tostada of excellent excellence.)

Life is a wonderful — and delicious and tipsy — thing!

Traveler’s Notebook

December 8th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Nerd | Travel - (1 Comments)

In which, yet again, I become what I judge. This time was quicker than usual! (It took twenty years for me to end up fat and the owner of a fake Christmas tree, but only weeks to end up with a Traveler’s Notebook!)

Behold. My Traveler’s Notebook.

Traveler's Notebook

This object has totally captured my imagination. I’m not really sure why, as it’s just a piece of leather and some elastic, a tin clamp, a waxed thread bookmark, paper, and accessories, but I adore it. (No hyperbole. Sometimes I just sit and hold it and look at it.)

So elegant and clever. So satisfying. The smell of the leather, the feel of the paper. The thoroughly modern faux-rusticity.

You feel as if, should the world end, you’d carry this with you always, and scribble in it with the smallest and most cramped hand to save what little paper was left. Future feral generations would marvel at the even-cut edges, the fineness of the paper, the way the leather was treated. The impossibly complicated dried-out old plastic-and-steel pen, and the precision-milled pen clip. It would be scarred and bent, but beautiful, and you’d have put all you knew in it for them.

IMG_20161208_142718

(Of course, what will really happen is that when this journaling generation goes, there will be millions upon millions of these things, stuffed with inspirational stickers and craft paper flowers and tabs and clips and cutesy drawings and a personal, woman’s-eye view into life way back in the teens, unearthed in boxes in grandmas’ houses and glutting the antiques market and whatever will pass for eBay by then. If they come back in style, like Polaroid cameras have now, people will probably buy them and gut them and re-use the by-then antique leather covers.)

I got the notebook itself (a “fauxdori,” made by a company called September Leather) for free, using points from my Chase Amazon card. (I can’t tell you how much I’ve spent on accessories since it’s completely embarrassing.) I soon restrung it with a Midori repair kit, even though the original elastics were just fine, to make it look more like a Midori.

Notebooks

I’ve purchased hand-made inserts, official Midori inserts. Pencil boards, kraft folders, pens. Colored pencils, brush pens, a couple of stencils. Book darts, washi tape, a repair kit, double sided tape, pen holder clips, and Midori post-its designed to fit inside.

"minimum"

And, if all that weren’t enough, I also bought a passport-sized Midori, plus a few accessories for it, too.

Pens

I use the little one as a wallet. It’s the most expensive wallet I’ve ever carried, and it’s not even a wallet! But it does hold one’s passport perfectly, plus money and cards.

I looooooooooove it.

The big one, the standard size, is my daily journal. And sketchbook. And spiritual journal. And place for lists and to-dos, and a catch-all for random bits of paper, and post-its dispenser, and pen holder, and it just looks cool and feels cool and is fun to handle.

Traveler's Notebook

It’s really nice to journal by hand again; I haven’t done so regularly since high school. It’s different than writing online or even typing, and I’m enjoying it very much. My wretched handwriting is slowly improving, and I’ve begun to sketch and doodle, too — something I’ve never really done.

Sometimes I sketch things from books I’m reading; other sketches are scenes from what I’m watching on TV. I have no talent for art but it’s fun, and feels better than wasting time scrolling endlessly on social media.

Matilda

I discovered the Traveler’s Notebook by accident when looking up Bullet Journaling. And here’s where the judgement comes in.

In August, I posted this innocuous entry about the chores I’d done that day, and Jinjer, whom I blame completely for my journal obsession, told me about the world of BuJo and posted a handy link.

I clicked.

And fell down the rabbit hole of modern planner obsession. Just like standing in front of a Franklin Planner display back in the day, only seemingly infinite. Instagram hashtags, Pinterest, endless blogs and YouTube flip-throughs. And eventually I stumbled across the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, a refillable Japanese stationer’s flagship product, and that was that. Had to have one. Had to have two.

The judgement thing was that, at first, as I looked at all the stuff, at the endless pictures of piles of planners and journals and pens and stickers and stamps and tapes and myriad other stupid meaningless and often plastic accessories, I thought, “Gross. Wasteful. Needless. These people could bullet journal with a Bic and a two dollar spiral notebook!”

I came across online stationery and pen stores, and thought, “How fucking stupid and pretentious can anyone be? Nobody needs a two hundred dollar fucking fountain pen.” But before two months were out, I’d placed my first Jet Pens order, and read through maybe half of their lovely, clever tutorials, learning several useful things.

Full disclosure: I did buy a fucking fountain pen, but it was under two bucks. I just wanted to see if I, as a leftie, could write with it. Turns out I can, but I have to hold it upside down, in order to pull rather than push the nib. I’m not super fond of it because I prefer superfine pens, and it writes medium-to-heavy.

Fauxdori Traveler's Notebook

So my knee-jerk reaction was a negative judgement, and I ended up turning into what I’d judged. In almost no time at all.

Do I need not only one but two relatively expensive journal solutions? No, I could write online here, or in a private local document. Or if I simply had to go analogue (which I felt I did, as there appears to be evidence it’s good for brain plasticity), any pen and pad of paper would do. It’s just typical Western gluttony and wastefulness (even if it does stimulate the economy (which I’m not confident is wholly good no matter what they say)).

Do any non-professionals need special paper types, wide varieties of writing utensils, or other accessories? No, not at all. I’m no artist, or famous diarist, or world traveler.

But do I really need most of what I have? No. And I’m ashamed of it, honestly, but not enough to force privation on myself. I focus instead on my gratitude and good fortune, most of the time.

Much of my adult life I couldn’t have afforded to buy these things on a whim; I would have put them on wishlists and eventually forgotten about them. Now that I’m in a spot where I can drop sixty bucks on a glorified wallet I don’t need, well, I did. So I’m just like everybody else and I use my discretionary income to buy shit I do not, in any way, shape, or form, need, but only want.

I love this thing

It feels weird. It’s strange that when my life is at its most abundant and comfortable, I’m mentally so Spartan in outlook. I frequently feel a sense of melancholy about how normalized my relative wealth is, when so many are still suffering heartbreaking lack. I have so much, from hot running water to grocery delivery to the luxury of enough free time to make my own bread and pickles and salsa and soups and sauces and hats and socks. Other people are literally shooed off of the park benches they’re trying to sleep on.

Oh, well, enough pontificating. The positive outcome of all this is that not only do I have a couple of objects that give me great pleasure every time I use them, and a new habit of offline analog time, but also I donated an equal amount to the local food kitchen and shelter just so I could stand myself! True story.

Universal basic income

December 8th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Introspection | Reading | Work - (0 Comments)

In which I ponder the cuddle-the-baby or ignore-him-when-he-cries approaches.

I’ve been reading a lot about Universal Basic Income lately.

What is it? Well, the basic idea is that everybody gets enough income to keep them just out of poverty even if they never do anything at all.

In the U.S., it would be the equivalent of about $1,000 per month.

Everybody. No matter what. If you’re wealthy, you’d probably just shove it in your IRA or something; if you’re not, it would keep you sheltered and fed and off the streets and off welfare. It would put a lot of social services out of business. Homelessness would plummet, for instance.

Would people “abuse” it?

Well, let’s consider abuse:

Is deciding you don’t want to work abuse? I don’t want to work. Working sucks! With the exception of a couple of jobs that stimulated me and were interesting for awhile, I generally have never enjoyed work. Nobody truly likes going to the same place every day and doing the same meaningless shit over and over (especially not while being abused by the public). Most humans do not enjoy pretending to be total twats for money, just to align with the inhumane dictates of some company that doesn’t give a shit whether you live or die and which will fire you at the drop of a hat no matter how faithfully you perform/conform.

Is using that money to buy drink or drugs abuse? Well, if you’re addicted, you’re going to get those substances anyway. With basic income, you’d get them with your own money rather than other people’s. Probably a measurable reduction in theft. If you’re not addicted, you might party for awhile, sure, but that sort of life is pretty boring, so eventually you’d stop and look around for something fulfilling.

Many people object to the idea of giving everybody money because they think it would encourage laziness and slovenliness, but I think those objections reflect the objector’s personality more than anything else. Just because you’d drop out and let your place go to shit if you got free money doesn’t mean everybody else would.

And I think a lot of people would drop out, briefly, especially those in the bottom classes, and let the pizza boxes pile up. Daytime TV ratings might explode for awhile, sure. But so what? Eventually, people who are not disabled physically or mentally will get up and go do something. It’s human nature. And with basic income, that thing wouldn’t have to be degrading jobs at fast food restaurants or big box stores. That thing could be going back to CC to get qualified to work in a nice restaurant’s kitchen, or learning how to finally write that novel, or volunteering full-time to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. With universal income, if your circs sucked, you’d be free to reject them, leave, begin again elsewhere. You could find your correct place in society, eventually.

People in good, satisfying jobs would probably stay put. But people in shitty, demeaning jobs would probably migrate out of them, forcing employers to retool those jobs to be less shitty and demeaning in order to attract workers. Right now, and for the last thirty years, it’s been an employer’s market. They’ve lowered wages and worsened scheduling, benefits, and other work parameters to the point where most jobs below a certain level are really, really awful. I know this because I’ve worked them; if you haven’t, you can shut the fuck up. “Random scheduling” doesn’t sound that bad until you’ve done it for a year. Closing at eleven followed by opening at six followed by no schedule certainty for years on end will exhaust you: physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s bullshit, because it serves no purpose. We’re not at war; we’re not fighting for our lives and our way of life, we’re just making the rich richer. This is not sacrifice-worthy, noble employment. It’s theft.

Ignore-him-when-he-cries people think that by ignoring requests for attention, we’ll raise strong, self-dependent kids.

Cuddle-the-baby people think that by answering every need, we’ll raise confident, self-assured, unafraid children.

Obviously both approaches can fail and create selfish, self-serving monsters. Both approaches are imperfect, because they choose law over what’s actually on the ground.

I say the law was never meant to presuppose every possible nuance; you have a brain for that. React appropriately in the moment. And in the moment, machines are taking jobs, and a lot of industries are dying. Considering the lay of the land, it’s not possible to bring back all those dead manufacturing jobs. Not to mention that so many of the jobs that are left are poor quality and don’t pay shit. (If you’re working full time and still on welfare, something’s very wrong.)

It’s not like we don’t already have the wealth needed; if everybody had income, no matter what, we’d have a much healthier economy.

I believe that the more I learn about it, the more I’m very much in favor of UBI.

Domesticating and such

September 2nd, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Domestic Goddess | Holiday | Wishlists - (1 Comments)

In which I buy stuff I don’t really need like an asshole, but at least it’s all used so I can say I’m “upcycling”!

Bought a table today! A used table! A TABLE YOU CAN EAT AT!

It’s a brown pub-style table and chairs set, and it’s taller than strictly necessary but I think it’ll be comfortable for the man, who is tall. The chairs are not-awful considering how austere they look, and not so high I can’t easily reach a sewing machine pedal.

I’m already imagining our having our next bi-annual games night while sitting at it, and it’s still 3 blocks away! (We’re going to bring it home when the man gets home from work.) Trivial Pursuit! Yahtzee! Cards! Dice! At a pub table! Brilliant!

New pub table + 4 chairs

I have also, I might add, in the past two months, bought: dishes, water glasses, a gravy boat, and candlestick holders, mainly in anticipation of setting a semi-proper Thanksgiving table this year. It’ll only be the two of us again, of course, but I’m so tired of eating on the couch hunched over the coffee table on holidays. It’ll be so great to sit down to a proper meal together on occasion!

You don’t think of yourself as “a table person” until you go over two years without one. I haven’t owned one for a really long time, but I lived with one until moving here. You just don’t really notice the stuff a table’s good for until there’s no table. Games night. Sewing. Filling out Christmas cards. Dinner dates. Wrapping gifts. Opening boxes from Amazon. Putting down the groceries.

I was, briefly, considering buying TV trays, but then I was just, like, OMFG, NERD, GET RID OF THE RECLINER WE LITERALLY NEVER, EVER SIT ON, AND THEN THERE WILL BE ROOM FOR A SMALL TABLE! So I took pictures of it — the recliner, I mean — and put it on Craigslist and it was not only gone in a week, but we got $25 more than we asked for!

Now that I have a table, I might buy fabric and make a runner, or placemats, or a tablecloth or something! Or, OMG, I could do seasonally appropriate centerpieces. It’s already September, I need a bowl and some pine cones and mini-pumpkins, stat! (While that is a joke, it’s also not. I’m totally gonna centerpiece it up for turkey day: I don’t even care that it’s common and privileged and totally something white bitches my age obsess over. Whoo! I even have a tray that’ll work for Xmas, maybe with candles and ornaments…)

Oh, who am I kidding. It’ll be covered in random shit within two weeks, and nobody’ll ever see any decorative centerpieces, and I’ll have to clean it off in order to eat at it, but at least I don’t have to eat on the couch anymore! Whoo! I’m gonna post the best Thanksgiving pictures this year!

In which I wax enthusiastic about a very old product!

Even with shipping, I got a frying pan, a sauce pan, and two lids for $25. Which is a really decent price, considering you could easily pay almost that for a lidded 6″ non-stick that you’d have to throw out and replace in two years.

Well, I just bought these

Behold the P-81-B, which is the 1-pint covered sauce pan on the left, and the P-83-B, the 6-1/2 inch covered skillet you see on the right! The “P” series ran from 1958 to 1972, so these pans are 44 years old at the very youngest, and they could easily be older than I am by a decade.

These things are awesome! They heat up just as fast as cheap non-stick pans, and while they’re not non-stick per se, you can fry eggs and hamburgers in them with a little bit of butter and nothing sticks!

They’re also a pure and angelic white, so they look antiseptic as fuck. They scrub clean with remarkable ease.

Making dinner

They’re small and they have lids. I find that I’m cooking in them over much lower flame than I would with bigger pans, and of course lids keep the heat in too. Today I’ve fried a couple of eggs and a hamburger over very low flame in not much time at all. So they’re unexpectedly fuel-economical. Who knew!

And while you can’t buy either of these particular pieces new anymore, Corning Ware still offers some of the casseroles in this pattern. (I totally want them, and no doubt they’re worth every penny of the retail price, but if I do buy them I’ll probably buy them used because I’m cheap. You can almost see why so many companies went for planned obsolescence rather than quality when you contemplate that Corning Ware’s 50-year-old pieces are viably competing with their brand-new products.)

I love their sizes; great for cooking for one or two. (Not to mention great for not cooking far too much food every time you step up to the stove.) I’m not really sure why pan sizes have grown and grown when family sizes are smaller; I do know that when I was learning to cook I always made far too much food because the pots and pans were so big.

Knowing that the sauce pan holds exactly enough soup for two small bowlsful makes me happy.

I’m pretty sure there are a couple of these in my g’ma’s kitchen, but I didn’t cook with them much (beyond occasionally using one to put something in the toaster oven). I always used the small non-stick to fry or scramble eggs rather than the Corning Ware frying pan; habit, I suppose. Plus they look like they should stick, after years of using Teflon-coated pans, but they don’t.

I think between these and a decent cast iron pan or two, a person could easily give up cheap, disposable non-stick pans entirely! (I can’t speak for high-dollar non-stick cookware, because I’ve never had any.)

I love these pans!