That political machine, though.

May 25th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Health | Life | Soapbox - (0 Comments)

In which I’m feeling annoyed and paranoid about big tobacco and pharma lobbies.

So the doctor-medical nerds in the U.K. were recently all, like, “So vaping, in our opinion, is less dangerous than smoking, and we see no evidence that the candy flavors are causing teens to try vaping or that vaping is a gateway behavior to smoking.”

So I read up, decided that vaping had to be less harmful than smoking cigarettes, and, because I had to quit smoking, I switched.

My subjective opinion is that they are a wonderful alternative to smoking cigarettes. My lungs feel fantastic, comparatively; quitting was effortless; and it’s not all about the nicotine: I use very low-percentage juices. It’s about the activity of “smoking,” which these devices mimic very, very well.

Which is what you need after 30 years of smoking: something to replace the habit.

Since that British news, though, my Twitter feed is stuffed with items like this:


Over and over. Every day. Once upon a time there was nothing in my feed about ecigs, now it’s shit like this daily. Claims from news services that there’s worry about ecig use, that there’s a spike in teen uptake (?), that people are worried about the health effects. And, most tellingly:

That because of these fears, people are going back to combustible cigarettes.

One has to ask herself: who benefits from people going back to cigarettes?

And she has to answer: Big Tobacco itself, of course, and, more worryingly, the tax funds filled with luxury taxes levied on the sales of tobacco products.

Now, I take European findings with a grain of salt, because they do shit like encourage homeopathy and ban GMOs, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

If ecigs were very dangerous, we’d know because people have been using them for a full decade now.

So we can conclude that if they are dangerous, they’re not immediately so but rather they’re dangerous over time, and any danger discovered is probably going to be related to the e-juice ingredients, and it’s probably still going to be less dangerous than smoking tobacco.

E-juices use food grade ingredients, and the bulk of them are the substances used in asthma inhalers and nebulizers. The only real unknown is the flavorants, which exist in such small percentages it seems unlikely they’d be truly dangerous. Only time and testing will tell.

But, while no, we don’t know that vaping is safe quite yet, we do have evidence it’s less harmful than tobacco, and all this fear-mongering for the love of money? IS PISSING ME OFF. Let’s let the fucking evidence decide. Gawd.

Ecigs have been banned by a number of countries:
Electronic Cigarette History

In which this is the scene at 27:24 of The Brief (season 1, episode 1, ‘The Road to Hell’) typed from memory. Since it’s a Brit show, he probably said “fiver” rather than “five bucks,” but whatever.

A man and a woman are looking out a window. Outside, it’s raining.

The man points at two raindrops and says, “Five bucks says mine wins.” He touches one when he says “mine” to indicate which is which.

The woman shrugs. They talk for a few minutes. The raindrop designated as hers reaches the bottom of the glass first.

The man hands the woman a five dollar bill.

She says, “Don’t be ridiculous.”

He says, “Fair’s fair,” and insists that she take the bill.

Most women absolutely do not understand the exchange: For one, betting? On raindrops? In the middle of an otherwise important conversation? What the hell?

Two, maybe at a party or in Vegas, but during a private conversation? How much more irrelevant could he be?

Three, insisting on paying out? Over something so clearly throw-away and irrelevant to anything? It’s five dollars! I don’t want it! I didn’t even make the bet!

This is the difference between men and women, in a nutshell:

Her excitement about or disinterest in the bet is irrelevant, the value of the bill is irrelevant, the silliness of the wager is irrelevant.

A man keeping his word, even under the most trivial of circumstances, is what’s relevant. To him, at least.

If there had been only two women in the room, the wager would probably never have been offered in the first place, because wagers are the sort of endless, needless competition men engage in.

If the wager had somehow been made anyway, the women probably wouldn’t have exchanged money, because, c’mon, it’s a freakin’ raindrop for heaven’s sake, obviously it was just a joke, and because with only women in the room, no honor is at stake, since women don’t have honor.

We can play at honor, of course, and often do when we enter male environments, but we’re free to opt out at any time with no repercussions. This means we don’t take it very seriously, since it can’t get us killed. (If you’re a woman and this statement infuriates you, you don’t yet understand what honor is, nor why you’re glad you don’t have to uphold it when you can’t or don’t want to.)

Basically, for all the things we care about that are baffling to men, there are just as many of their words and behaviors we just gloss over because they’re so irrelevant to us we basically don’t even hear or see them.

If a man makes a silly little bet with you, like in the scene above, you probably don’t even really register it beyond amused condescension when he hands you money, and you certainly don’t realize that he has to give you the $5 or lose his honor.

Total convert here, guys.

May 15th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Gadgets | Health | PSA | Soapbox - (0 Comments)

In which I’ve quit smoking!

I started smoking at 16. I’m 47 now. That’s 31 years.

I was down to smoking less than a pack a day, usually less than half a pack, but my lungs felt dry and tight. I was having difficulty breathing.

Every morning, I decided not to smoke. Every evening I smoked anyway, because the power of habit is massive. I’ve tried keeping my regular behaviors and just ditching the smoking part, but it’s hard. I’ve gotten up, put on my coat, grabbed my ebook, stepped outside and not smoked, just to keep up my normal routine, but it doesn’t really work. Before you know it, you’ve bought yourself a pack of cigarettes.

You need a substitute. And no, not for the nicotine. The gum and the patches are worthless; I’ve tried both. For the smoking.

Luckily, here in the future, we have such a thing! It’s called vaping.

A well-controlled trial has recently been carried out by Dr Grant O’Connell and colleagues working for the vaping manufacturer Fontem Ventures. They asked 15 smokers to give up altogether for five days, 15 to vape only for five days, and another 15 to mix vaping and smoking for five days. They measured the harmful and potentially harmful constituents in the urine, blood and breath of each group, and the results were striking. After five days, the vapers’ carboxyhaemoglobin levels—an indication of how much carbon monoxide they had in their systems—had dropped by 83%, which was an even bigger drop than in the cold-turkey cessation group, whose levels dropped by 75%. Even the dual users had seen a drop of 23%. The amount of carbon monoxide they exhaled had halved in both the vapers and the cessation group. Much the same was true for all the other biomarkers except, of course, for nicotine.

Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016

So I bought a Vuse at the corner gas station. It was a piece of shit and just as sketchy as the first ecig I bought a decade ago and it was so awful it basically drove me back to cigarettes. (The Vuse is by RJ Reynolds. There is speculation that they were specifically designed to drive smokers back to cigarettes. They taste bad and they’re incredibly inconsistent, delivering either burnt-tasting air or a massive hit of lung-scorching, scaldingly hot vapor. Each replacement cartridge costs at least as much as a pack of cigarettes, if not more.) The Vuse would be an acceptable experience only if you were a hard-core smoker locked in an airport or hospital for days with no other way to deal with your discomfort.

Then I bought this sciencey-looking little Pro Tank II for only $20 at the ecig store over on Lake Street, and I haven’t had a cigarette since.

Kanger 650mAh Pro Tank II

It screws together. The whole bottom section is a rechargable battery, with a button you push to send power to the coil; the tank is Pyrex and holds e-juice, which is vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol with flavorings and nicotine, and contains a coil, which is what actually heats up and turns the juice into vapor; and then the tip is the part you inhale through. There’s an utterly bewildering variety of these things, but all of them are basically made up of these three components.

An old Fairfield friend saw my interest in ecigs on Facebook, and kindly sent me his unwanted stuff (he’s discovered a favorite brand of tank, and no longer uses any of this):

Vaping stuff

That’s hundreds of dollars of equipment and ten flavors of juices! That he was just going to throw out! A Vaporfi kit, a Nautilus tank, an Aerotank Mega, a Halo Tracer kit, a second Vaporfi tank, and coils!

Now I have tons of everything. Batteries and chargers, tanks, tips. Most of the parts are interchangeable, too, so you can mix and match and make devices that look cool and draw, due to adjustable air flow rings on the nicer tanks, exactly the way you want them to. These are the two I’m into right now:


I’m into the 6% blueberry and 3% cocoa flavors right now. (I hate even typing that because it sounds so douchey, but it is what it is! Blueberry! Cocoa! I’m a twat!)

I started with 18% juice, but I don’t think I need it. They tell you that nicotine is incredibly addictive, but I’m perfectly comfortable with 6% and 3% juices. I do have a tank loaded with the 18%, but haven’t used it much in the past two days.

I haven’t gone five days without a single cigarette in years. I’ve gone one, two days without a cigarette, sure; I’ve gone days only smoking one or two. But zero cigarettes? For five days? In a row? No, not in years.

With low-nicotine juice and a device that works well, one can enjoy the activity of ‘smoking’ almost to excess, and yet wake up in the morning feeling better than she has in years. It’s fucking wonderful.

While I doubt vaping is a zero-harm activity (after all, what is), it’s definitely lower harm than smoking cigarettes. It’s almost therapeutic-feeling; inhaling mist into dry, damaged lungs actually feels good. (Turns out that juice uses the same base used in asthma inhalers and nebulizers.) And apparently my carboxyhemoglobin levels have dropped by 83%.

Eighty-three percent.

The devices themselves probably last for quite a long time, being made of Pyrex and stainless steel. You have to replace the coil, the part that heats up, and the juice, but from what I can tell that’s much less expensive than 3.5 packs of cigarettes every week.

There’s a bunch of negative hysteria around e-cigarettes, but it appears to have been deliberately manufactured by pharmaceutical companies involved in nicotine replacement therapies and cigarette companies. The recent FDA regulation binge was brought on by these lobbies, apparently. Of course. Since so much money is generated by the luxury taxes on cigarettes, anything that threatens the market is worrisome… even if it’s a technology that is reducing harm and by extension probably saving lives.

The bulk of the evidence so far leans heavily toward vaping being much safer than cigarettes, and much more effective than NRT in helping people quit smoking.

E-cigarette studies, research and reports
E-cigarettes save lives
UK doctors urge wide promotion of e-cigs to help smokers quit
Smokers Urged to Switch to E-Cigarettes by British Medical Group
Vapers Helping Smokers to Quit

So, the take-away here is that we’re seeing research showing that vaping is much less harmful than smoking, and that if you wish to vape, you need to buy a decent piece of equipment and avoid shitty disposables made by cigarette companies. The vapor, even from low-nicotine juices, is so satisfying that you don’t even want cigarettes. Vaping is credited with helping tens of thousands of smokers quit.

“In the case of addictions, where people find it genuinely very hard to resist temptation, harm reduction surely makes sense,” said Viscount Ridley. And I agree. Being against vaping because it’s not zero-harm is ridiculous. If we expected driving to be zero-harm, we’d never build another car again. But as far as risk management goes, vaping is safer than smoking by orders of magnitude.


May 14th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Gadgets | Photography - (0 Comments)

In which my favorite camera is now basically useless.

I haven’t been shooting film much since I moved out here, but no worries: take the camera out of the box, put in some fresh film, maybe a battery, and go shoot. Your cameras are already antiques; they won’t mind if you let them rest for a year or three.

My dad sent me a Polaroid One out of the blue. Seeing it sitting there on the coffee table, I suddenly felt the desire to shoot my Land 103. Pulled it out, set it up, took a picture, then realized, Oh, yeah, I’d fucked up and exposed the film pack last year, trying to tease out a stuck photograph.

So I went to buy some film online and it was $34 rather than $8.50. “What, is this a 4-pack? Why is it so expensive?” Looked around some more: all over $30 per 10-pack.

Googled “why is Fuji pull-apart so expensive?” and found out that it’s been discontinued.


Having been through this once before with Polaroid film, I know I’ve missed the chance to stock up. They’re selling through inventory now, and it’ll just get more expensive. The couple of shots I took last spring at our Golden Valley apartment were the last ones I’ll ever shoot.

Now my beloved Land 103 is a brick. Might as well donate it, along with all its accessories: the case, the portrait kit, the flash bulbs and flash attachment.

Land 103

God. So fucking bummed. I think I’ll splurge on some Impossible film for the SX-70 in an effort to feel less disappointed.


May 9th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which I suggest we normalize breast shape already.*

I used to think brassières served a function, but it turns out that they don’t. Well, that is to say, they serve a style function, by changing the location and shape of the breasts, but they don’t do anything for breast health or to prevent sagging:

Robert Mansell, a professor of surgery at the University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff, reported that, “Bras don’t prevent breasts from sagging, with regard to stretching of the breast ligaments and drooping in later life, that occurs very regularly anyway, and that’s a function of the weight, often of heavy breasts, and these women are wearing bras and it doesn’t prevent it.” John Dixey, at the time CEO of Playtex, agreed with Mansell. “We have no medical evidence that wearing a bra could prevent sagging, because the breast itself is not muscle so keeping it toned up is an impossibility.”

The lingering idea that foundation garments are healthy comes from the Victorians, as far as I can tell. There were breast bands but no corsets, girdles, or bras in the Middle Ages, so this idea that female unders confer health is at least younger than the Middle Ages.

An encapsulation-style sports bra might be useful, in terms of comfort, for keeping flesh from flopping around during vigorous activity, but regular daily-wear bras perform no function beyond raising and squishing the tissue into a shape we consider ‘normal,’ but which is, in actual fact, not.

Marilyn without a bra on

Bras are uncomfortable and we only wear them to comply with social norms. Since I started working from home I’ve quit wearing bras altogether; the only time I ever consider one is when we’re going out somewhere. Usually I just opt for a coat, but with summer coming I have to consider if I’ll be putting on a bra or just going out with my boobs shaped like… well, actual boobs.

And middle aged boobs at that, which is so outro it’s practically against the law.

While I’ve been going braless for so many months now that the shape of my own boobs, as they exist in their 47th trip around the sun, now looks normal to me, I admit to some feelings of trepidation about nipples. If you have nipples yourself, you may be aware that they become erect in response to temperature changes, chafing, breezes, or sometimes for no goddamned reason at all. Since breasts, and especially nipples, are so sexualized, it feels unseemly to fail to hide them when one is a nasty old lady who shouldn’t ever have hard nipples in the first place, even though hard nipples have nothing to do with arousal or sex, like, 99.999% of the time.

But on the other hand, fuck that boob shame, because bras are flat-out uncomfortable. They’re probably only truly appropriate in outfits that also include high heeled shoes and make-up and all the other trappings of body-as-canvas-for-artistic-expression.

And look at pictures of famous women! Their boob shapes are, as they’ve ever been, ridiculous! That one look, combining countable ribs and jutting collar bones and high, round, smushed upper boob circles above a plunging neckline? It’s absurd, so false, and the result of some combination of surgery, duct tape, and airbrushing. I’d submit it’s okay for people in the fame industries to alter their boob shape as the muse strikes them, and blessings to them, but it’s false as fuck in terms of actual boob-shape reality, and people on the streets should be walking around with actual boob-shaped boobs just like they walk around with thigh-shaped thighs and face-shaped faces.

I don’t think there is any evidence, like there is for heels, that bras are bad for you. They don’t seem to cause cancer or anything, so beyond mild annoyance there’s no pressing reason to avoid them. But that tremendous relief you feel when you take one off is proof enough that they’re silly as fuck.

The only way to normalize boob-shaped boobs is for them to be common. Same with nipples. Is it selfish to wish to be be comfortable, above and before meeting social expectations? I don’t know, maybe. In general I dress very conservatively; when I leave my house I’m covered from neck to wrist to ankle, because I don’t think it’s appropriate to be pushing 50 and half-naked in public unless it’s just hot as fuck. But in order to be officially and truly dressed in ways that cannot offend, I’m supposed to smash some fat and glands into an absurd contraption that doesn’t actually serve any useful function? Ugh! I mean, thank God bras aren’t corsets, but they’re still ridiculous.

Free the boob! Seriously.

Remember: bra manufacture is a multibillion-dollar industry dominated by large multinational corporations.

Read the history of the bra here.

* And then I went and looked at a bunch of images of starlets and red carpets and the sorts of things I generally avoid and discovered that boobs are free quite a lot now. Sometimes they’re shaped, but just as often they’re not, so this post is like a decade past its prime.

In which rape culture concept is a fabrication. It is false and dangerous, terribly damaging to males, and it selfishly diverts time and energy away from real crises.

In feminist theory, rape culture is a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. The sociology of rape culture is studied academically by feminists. There is disagreement over what defines a rape culture and as to whether any given societies meet the criteria to be considered a rape culture.

“Rape culture” came up on Twitter again, and I said what I usually do, which is more or less something along the lines of “lol no rape culture is a myth.”

The tweets below happened, and I wanted to respond in long form, hence this very long post:


Well, for one: “guys think it’s okay” to trick girls into getting drunk enough to rape? Which guys? Since when? Where’s your evidence for this? Walk down the street, ask a hundred men, and they’ll say fuck no because their moms, sisters, wives, and daughters are women, and they’d beat the shit out of anybody who got any of those women drunk and assaulted them. The percentage who say otherwise are trolling, lying through their lips for the shock value and to prove their bravery to their young college comrades; the fewer guys who actually do otherwise are bastards and we, as a society, put them in jail.

And two: why don’t campus rapists get charged more?! Are you serious?! Unlike the campus rape crisis, which is fabricated, rape accusations are an epidemic these days, and our culture is so anti-rape that this new trend is ruining young men’s lives. Once you’ve been accused of rape, you’re a rapist for the rest of your life even if you’re exonerated. Enjoy your diminished (or absent) prospects for mates and jobs, now that some college girl ruined your reputation by accusing you of being a violent and deviant criminal!

Women who have experienced actual assault and rape are victims. Women abducted by ISIL and the Taliban are victims. Women and girls (and boys and men) who are trafficked are victims.

Privileged American university women are not victims. Their lives are not statistically dangerous; their experiences with sex and sexuality and the opposite sex are the result of their own decisions and actions rather than those of outside agency; they are the single safest, richest, healthiest, longest-lived, and most educated class of human beings ever.

Rape culture is a fabrication. It is dangerous and misleading because equating mild social discomfort (“a man on the street complimented my looks and I felt pressure”) with actual suffering (“ESCAPEES FROM ISIS RECALL RAPE, SLAVERY“) is absurd. The two conditions are not similar and cannot be equated.

The very idea so muddies and confuses the conversation that real topics of human rights abuses can’t be discussed without also including the irrelevant and petty feelings of a highly privileged class, namely Western university girls and their feminist mentors.

Most feminist statistics are wrong. Wrong as in incorrect and untrue.

They say 1 in 5 women are assaulted; the CDC says it’s 1 in 50. They say women earn less than men for the same work; there is literally zero evidence of this (if it were true, businesses would replace male workers with female workers). Their stats on domestic violence, female land and business ownership, and slavery: all grossly wrong.

Any entity that is routinely wrong in its numbers is highly suspect in its motives.

I do not lack compassion for victims of rape and assault. I’m a “survivor” of sexual abuse myself (even though my life was never in danger, and I think the use of the word “survivor” in non-life threatening conditions is ridiculous hyperbole and inappropriately used).

If you’ve been raped or assaulted, my sister (or brother), I’m sorry. Very sorry.

But if you’re a member of a privileged class merely incapable of taking responsibility for your own actions, well, I have little sympathy for your problems.

YES, as a species we still have slavery and sex-trafficking. YES, rape and violent assault exist, and YES they’re terrible and it is our bounden duty to address these issues to the best of our capacity. But the fact that rape jokes exist doesn’t indicate we live in a “rape culture.” There are women driver jokes too, but I still have a license.

Listen, if you’re a man who believes America is a “rape culture,” then ipso facto you consider yourself a potential rapist. All men who support the misandrist idea that all men are literally just one situation away from committing rape are disturbing to me. Grow a pair, for fuck sake. (That’s what women really want, no matter what they — we — say. Don’t coddle us when we’re being ignorant; require us to be our best. Just as you require yourself to rise above your feelings and not commit rape.)

Oh, and listen, if you think you’re exempt, if your feminist sisters go on and on about repeatedly debunked “1 in 5” assault statistics [it’s 1 in 50, which is still too many, but certainly not 1 in 5] in front of you and you’re male, even if you’re gay, she’s calling YOU a rapist, to your very face, because that’s what “rape culture” means: that you’re a victim of your culture and unable to make your own decisions and will eventually rape somebody because that’s what men do.

It’s just that in your case, if you’re gay, you won’t be raping her, so she’s fine with it. It’s fine to rape men. We know this because feminism rarely mentions our brothers’ suffering, unless it’s to draw attention to their own agenda.


Whole Wheat Sourdough

May 3rd, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Recipes - (1 Comments)

In which there’s the staff of life.

I made another whole white wheat sourdough boule! Whoo! This decent loaf somewhat redeems me from that ridiculous Pyrex debacle from last week I’m not going to tell you about.

Sourdough Boule

It’s not 100% whole white wheat like usual, though, because I used white flour for kneading, thereby probably incorporating half a cup or more into the dough. But, hey, it’s close enough.

It was handsomely scored using my very ghetto homemade lame!

I got decent oven spring, as you can see, but I don’t think you ever get that really astonishing spring (like you see from pros, or in bread forums) when using strictly whole grain flour. For whole wheat, though, this is a pretty credible-looking loaf.

Haven’t sliced it yet, but I have no doubt it will taste like all my previous loaves made with the same ingredients. (My whole white wheat sourdough bread so far is flavorful without quite being nutty, hard to slice with our cheap-ass dollar store bread knife, dense, chewy, not very sour usually, and especially delicious when, because it’s so substantial, heavily toasted and paired with fat like butter or brie or olive oil.)

Its crust was spread with melted butter and sprinkled with rock salt, because at three o’clock in the morning when I was cooling this loaf, I thought it would taste good and look cool.

I just read a blog post tagged #sourdoughbread, and it was all, “no matter what, MEASURE YOUR RECIPE CORRECTLY,” which made me lol, because I don’t measure anything. Ever. I just wing it. Every time. I pour some random amount of levain into a bowl, stir in some amount of flour that looks good, let it autolyse some random amount of time, or not, add some amounts of salt, water, and additional flour. There is no recipe, only process.

Kneading, rising, and proofing times are all whatever, around behaviours like work and sleep, but usually I end up with what generally turns out edible. The most important things to know about bread are how to tell when you’ve kneaded enough (smooth texture, really, because windowpaning doesn’t really happen with coarse flour, since there are sharp pieces in the dough that cause it to tear if you pull it out thin like that), and how to tell when your dough’s done proofing (the dimple, when you poke it with your finger, doesn’t fill back in like it does right after kneading).

Here are some pictures of breads indicating that I’m starting to figure out how to produce a recipe-less sourdough loaf at will without any special scrapers, baskets, scales, or Dutch ovens:

Whole Wheat Sourdough Boule

Whole Wheat Sourdough

Sourdough Whole Wheat Boule

Day 2: Sourdough culture

Sourdough 2

The link below is brilliant if you’re interested in three-ingredient bread, but I didn’t really get it until I re-read it earlier today. The last time I read it, sometime between putting up my starters and now, a lot slipped by me:

debunking the myths and mysteries of harnessing wild yeast

In short, I feel I’m reaching my recipe-less sourdough bread goal. I could make bread pretty much anywhere if I had flour, water, salt, and time, and that feels pretty groovy.

On the cult of printed books.

April 27th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Memes | Reading | Reference | Soapbox | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which I’m kind of a dick about people trying to wean themselves off of their identification with their belongings (which is a very important stage of development, of course, but seriously, this has to be the hundredth blog post I’ve read about how deeply attached bitches are to their Harry Potter books, and I’m like, You were literally raised in the cheap portable personal electronics age, and your attachment to books, to actual paper printed books, is, compared to those who went before you and truly used books in a way you never needed to, tenuous at best, and yet here you are talking like you were a monk illuminator who just watched his whole life’s work burn to the very ground).

I love to read, but this maudlin affectation about book collecting currently infecting our group consciousness is getting silly. “I really love books!” is turning into some sort of off-kilter, past-worshiping, item-hoarding cult. We get it: you love the smell of books and the feel of a favorite volume in your hand. So does everybody else. Shut up already.

The vast majority of books you read aren’t that good, and won’t need to be read again. And reference is all online now, you don’t need encyclopedias or dictionaries or histories. You can put a thousand years of human knowledge on a single eReader, but you’ll still probably read throw-away pop fiction. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

The old fashioned library is dying, and in many ways, yes, it sucks, but let it go. Jesus. The TERRIBLE STRUGGLE you go through trying to pare down your embarrassment of stuff, to minimalize, to quit decorating with books you’ve never even read, truly verges on the absurd. You’re having crazy romantical identity feelings about a particular style of inanimate object. If you talked like this about rolls of aluminum foil, we’d tell you to see a specialist.

(I realize the analogy breaks down, because while aluminum foil is incredibly useful, it’s not potentially filled with knowledge in the same way a book is, but books aren’t dying: the format is changing. As are our lifestyles: we don’t have family seats where libraries can live for generations; we move every few years. The energy expended in moving a library of paper books that you could store on a six ounce device just for false nostalgia is wasteful. Period. And there are more books being published every day than used to be published in entire years.)

I get that it’s hard the first time, when you’re ten or eleven or so, and, because you spent all Saturday fucking off and not cleaning your room, your dad stuffs “everything that isn’t schoolwork or clothing,” meaning all your books and toys, into trash bags and throws it all out: yeah, you’re a kid, and you cry because you just lost your purple teddy bear for disobeying, and losing your beloved things is hard.

But if you’re old enough to have a book collection, you’re old enough to know that you are not your stuff, and that reading itself, that magical alchemy in which somehow an entire world fits inside you and lives there, isn’t going away, and everything in your books and papers can be digitized and stored in a smaller, lighter, more easily searchable format, and your maudlin attachment to a data format is too forced and common to really seem genuine.


I recently started learning how to make bread. It turns out that holding a ball of soft, living bread dough in your hand feels an awful lot like holding a book: it’s an act that belongs to everyone of us, it reaches backwards and forwards through time, it contains potential, it nourishes, and, honestly, you really have only a vague idea of how it’s going to turn out.

All of which is to say, hey, if getting rid of some treeware is truly heartbreakingly difficult for you, then you’re basically a Disney princess in terms of level of real world difficulty. Lucky you!

In which my life is so completely the opposite of rock star. I’m not entirely sure how I’m supposed to feel about it.

Both of the houseplants, the kalanchoe a co-worker gave me last year and the avocado pit I started in 2014, were totally root-bound and desperately needed to be repotted.


On Saturday we went to the ghetto K-mart for pots and toilet paper. It was the first time I’d gone anywhere in the car in months! The weather was gorgeous but everything was still grey and brown; it took today’s endless hours of rain to start any greening.

I also got a little gardening tool — I have half a plan to dig up the overgrown bed in front of the building and grow tomatoes and parsley instead of weeds and grass — and some tomato seeds.


On the other hand, the rabbits would probably eat any seedlings, the site gets brutal direct sun all summer, weeding sucks, and I could just grow tomatoes in pots in front of a window and eliminate pretty much all the bother altogether.

I recently bought myself an apron. AN APRON. So when I cook and clean and do dishes, I wear my little housewifery uniform. I’m pushing 50 and I wear an apron because it keeps me from wiping my hands on my clothes and that seems like a good idea.


I still haven’t bothered to go out and make friends; I’m perfectly content hanging out with my weird and wonderful boyfriend and never going anywhere. (Plus, as far as I’m concerned, “going anywhere” weather lasts about four months a year in this part of the country. I miss Walla Walla weather so fucking much.)

I keep thinking I need to join a stitch & bitch or drag my carcass to an open mic, but then I don’t, which makes me think I don’t really want to. I’m generally pretty hard to stop when I set my mind to going out and doing things.

I cook dinner every night, I do dishes. I sleep in. I make the bed, I tidy up, I fuck around online, I read a few hundred books per year, I play with miniature sewing machines.

Miniature sewing

I don’t knit for shit anymore.

I also don’t sit on the floor anymore, which is beginning to get on my nerves. There may be a rug in my life soon, so I can sit on the floor. Chairs are stupid. I also think they might be bad for your legs, or at least your circulation, and your lower back.

Here’s a zucchini lasagna I made. I even made the marinara from scratch, since all the store-bought sauces these days have added sugar.


I do laundry, I sweep floors, I maintain seasonally appropriate decorations. Basically the only people I ever talk to are Scott and the guy at the gas station. Once in a huge great while I walk over to the taco bar for a drink or three, but I’m so cheap these days I feel like that’s only for treat, not for regular, even though I always used to blow my cash at bars. I mean, you can get twice as much booze for the same price at a liquor store than at the bar!

Bloody Mary

I actually like my job. I close the bedroom door, login to the other account on my computer, and take calls for Comcast. (You’d think taking calls for Comcast would be awful, but I support the security system rather than cable or internet, so we have totally different metrics and it isn’t.) After four hours, I log off and walk into my living room. I never have to wear a bra, or even brush my hair for that matter.

I routinely get perfect VOC (“voice of the customer” survey) scores, and about once a week somebody will ask to be transferred to my supervisor to report how much they liked my service. I don’t even have to wear shoes. When it’s slow, I read books between calls, or surf on my tablet. When it’s busy, the 4-hour shift goes by quickly. I have an incredibly comfy, cushy job and after the shock and awe of that year in retail I’m terribly grateful for it.

Comcast-bashing mail

I didn’t have to leave the building once during blizzard season. I worked from home and had groceries delivered! It was awesome!

I am basically the most coddled, most spoiled person on earth. Seriously. I don’t even get out of bed some days until two in the afternoon. The place is so small I can scrub the bathroom or clean the kitchen in half an hour. It takes minutes to sweep.

And the relationship is awesome. I love the shit out of him, and he loves me right back. We’re nice to each other and we help each other. There’s total affection and total parity, plus he regularly makes me laugh (even though he watches vintage pro wrestling way more than anybody should). If I get up to do some chore or another, he’ll jump up too and take out the trash, or run the broom, or pop off to the store with the grocery list (he does most of the household errands).

His only real bad habit is his regular failure to close cabinets. I close the medicine cabinet every single day, and kitchen cabinets frequently. But that’s it. Otherwise — well, beyond his propensity for puns and other forms of very unfunny, low humor — I couldn’t find anything to bitch about unless I made it up.

Sure, I do the bulk of the chores, but unlike all the other losers I’ve dated, this one actually pays the rent and the bills, so I’m happy to. And, unlike all the other losers I’ve lived with, he doesn’t treat our home like a hotel his mother works at. It’s fucking glorious.

Here’s the photo they’ll run if we ever get accused of some sort of heinous crime. (We won’t have committed it, though, because that would require us to go out and do something.)

First pic with new phone's front-facing cam

The neighborhood is host to tons of heavy traffic. I’ve never lived on a busier street, and I once lived on Powell boulevard in Portland. There’s traffic past our building 24/7, and a lot of it is emergency vehicles with sirens on. Tons of foot traffic, too, all year, although a lot more when it’s a decent temperature, of course. In the summer, there’s the pedal pubs too. Somehow it gives the impression that you’re doing something, all that activity just out your window, even though you’re probably just sitting around looking at Pinterest or something. Maybe that’s part of why I don’t seem to feel compelled to get out there and meet people.

I’ve lost a lot of of the weight I’d gained in the past few years, and intend to lose still more. But even though in some places my dimensions are what they were, say, five or ten years ago, that middle age thickening thing is clearly taking over. It’s something about where the fat lingers, and the elasticity — or lack there of — of the skin, somehow. I can look at myself in the mirror and know that this measurement and that measurement is what it was awhile ago, but now I look like an old lady. The body changes. It’s vaguely disconcerting.

My eyelid continues to indulge in its slow decline and now my eyes are entirely asymmetrical. I do wonder what causes one’s eyelid to droop. I think it’d freak me out more but Scott doesn’t give a shit, somehow that helps. I guess you can relax about the issue of your beauty or lack there of when you’ve already got a mate.


Getting into other middle aged pursuits: old movies. Movies from the 30’s and 40’s. Movies I used to find uncomfortably dull are now enjoyable. I find myself thinking about how when the weather gets nice, I should persuade Scott to go for brief postprandial walks around the neighborhood with me, for our health.

I think about holidays and tea pots, whether I should buy a spiralizer, I read tons of recipes; I don’t think about bars, gigs, and parties. I put on makeup about every six months for no reason and then generally wipe it right back off. I consider appropriateness when choosing clothing. (Well, secondarily. First it’s comfort, then it’s “does this hide or emphasize the fact these old tits aren’t in a bra?”)

Becoming amused by my invisibility; when I walk around or hang out in front of the building veritable packs of “young people” walk by and they register me exactly the way twenty-somethings register people old enough to be grandmothers. It’s weird. I used to be them, now I think of them as idiot kids and they think of me as old. Conversations that were once painfully new and riveting are now painfully derivative.

(I do know the “cure” for these feelings of aging into obsolete unhip decrepitude is to go hang out with a slightly older crowd. Then you quit being an old lady and you start being the hot young thing; but again, I just can’t be arsed.)

It makes me invisible in a way, being older than the neighborhood, and it’s such an interesting dynamic, since most of it occurs internally. The kids in the building usually say hi on the rare occasions I see them, and certain personality types will nod as they walk past on the sidewalk, but in general most of the population’s eyes just slide off me like I’m not there. I’d probably be super bugged by it if I didn’t live with someone who smooches me frequently and somehow manages to grab my butt every single day of the year.

Aired up my bike tires! Told Scott to buy me some bike baskets. Getting ready to ride for groceries! Having them delivered is awesome, of course, but hardly necessary when it’s over 50F (and under 80F). Had considered going for a ride today, but it decided to rain non-stop. At least the grass has started to become green.

Maybe I’ll go ride my bike around tomorrow!

2015 Kindle Fire 7″

January 20th, 2016 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Gadgets - (2 Comments)

In which there’s a review, sort of. Not really. Whatever.

I more or less demanded this for Christmas, because they had them marked down to $35 and you know that’s a shitload of hardware for $35. I thought we’d put Android on it or something, if it turned out nobody was using it.


Well, I love it. So much more comfortable to use than the big ol’ 8.9″, plus the OS is kinda neat. Way more store-like, but still, fairly charming in its way. And it’s really, really fast.

The only problem I have with it is that that battery life sucks. Really bad, actually. Thing dies every day and needs to be plugged in, and I really don’t think I’m getting 7 hours of battery life out of it. Well, that and the fact that you can’t find the pictured wallpaper anywhere.

But other than that, it’s pretty great.

The 8.9″ is still worth, on eBay, between $80 and $100. I’m considering selling it, plus its keyboard and case, and then getting myself the Fire HD 6″, the model up from this one, which is HD but actually a wee bit smaller than this one. Maybe I’ll sell this one too, or give it to someone who needs a tablet.

Seriously, having three Kindles — two Fires and a Paperwhite — is pretty ridiculous.