Archives

On the limits of White Listening

This is a long story and the beginning is probably going to sound trivial, but it has a relevant point, so bear with me.

To set the stage:

Back when I started college, my school gave its incoming freshmen a bunch of onboarding activities and presentations. One of them was “trying to give all our new white students, many from super-white areas, a quick shot of appreciation for the experiences of all the non-white students who have to share a campus with them.”

So we all piled into an auditorium, and a series of older students got up on stage, sat on a stool in a narrow spotlight, and gave little monologues about some of the everyday struggles they went through as young POC. There was a mic in the center aisle of the audience, so when each person was done talking, we were invited to line up and ask questions about anything we hadn’t understood.

Continue reading

Egg replacer, international light shows, holy squirt guns, and…data malpractice

Finally managed to give blood on Sunday, after a few misfires earlier in the month. (For the first time, my pulse kept coming in high. This round I cut all caffeine for a week, recorded my own pulse a couple times a day to figure out the best strategy, and set the appointment for shortly after I woke up. Success!)

Other nice/heartwarming things:

April 14: ““I re-read ‘So Much Cooking,’” one of my friends said on social media, tagging me, “and realized I hadn’t stocked up coffee. Now I have. So, thanks.” Someone else bought two bottles of chocolate syrup, crediting my story. Another person bought themselves birthday cake ingredients. “I’m shopping based on what Natalie would want,” someone else told me.”

May 16: “Buildings around Europe and beyond were lit up for Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light. Shine A Light was played by the Rotterdam Philharmonic, from home.” Video that’ll hit you right in the heart.

May 17: “A Roman Catholic priest in the Detroit area has taken aim at his parishioners in a bid to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, using a squirt gun to shoot holy water.

In less-heartwarming news, public-health data in the US is being skewed by people with a financial interest in reopening things, safety be damned. A few examples:

May 18, Florida: The data architect of Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard: “As a word of caution, I would not expect the new team to continue the same level of accessibility and transparency that I made central to the process during the first two months. After all, my commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it.”

May 18, Georgia: “But on closer inspection, the dates on the chart showed a curious ordering: April 30 was followed by May 4; May 5 was followed by May 2, which was followed by May 7 — which in turn was followed by April 26. The dates had been re-sorted to create the illusion of a decline. The five counties were likewise re-sorted on each day to enhance the illusion.”

May 21, the whole US, via the CDC: “The government’s disease-fighting agency is conflating viral and antibody tests, compromising a few crucial metrics that governors depend on to reopen their economies. Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas, and other states are doing the same.”

20 quarantine questions meme (with lots of spoons) (and not the metaphorical kind)

1. Are you an essential worker?

…I mean, I’d say Yes for society as a whole. But No for immediate survival needs in the midst of a pandemic.

2. How many drinks have you had since the quarantine started?

Alcohol, none. Don’t enjoy it. Energy drinks and sodas are a different story. In theory I could give up drinking them now that I never need to be awake at any specific time, but I…have not.

3. If you have kids… Are they driving you nuts?

No kids, but my cat keeps coming up to pester me, and then I have to stop whatever I’m doing and brush him for five minutes. (He literally did it while I was typing that sentence.)

And he seems to be experimenting with a strategy of “pat the human lightly with one paw for more attention,” but hasn’t totally worked out how to do that with his claws in.

A cuddly cat

4. What new hobby have you taken up during this?

Polyphasic sleep!

(Not totally new, I did it for a while once…all the way back when I was in high school, during summer vacation. Couldn’t keep it up for long because RL schedules intruded, but I remember being pretty happy with it.)

Started on April 8th with the regular 30-minute naps every 4 hours. Some of them end up being “30 minutes of lying very still in a dark room and not falling sleep before the timer goes off,” and so far one of them has always turned into “spend this whole 4-hour period asleep,” but it’s still closer to 6 hours of sleep per day than 8-9. We’ll see if I can condition myself to get it down to 3.
Continue reading

Some pick-me-ups on this, the day of my cat’s adoptionversary

Marshmallow Fluff on April 6, 2019:

Hiding fluff, 2019

And on April 6, 2020:

Relaxed fluff, 2020

From “hiding in panic under the furniture” to “stretching his paws and having a nap on my leg.” At least one (1) thing has gotten better in the world since last year.

Fancomic of Spider-Man’s social-distancing, grocery-delivering adventures in quarantined NYC.

From the creator of “Cabin Pressure” comes “Cabin Fever”, a series of short videos by Arthur Shappey documenting his time in self-isolation. Now at 8 episodes, still going strong.

And if you want some completely-unrelated low-key fluff, have a playlist of my favorite adorable animal videos. (Knew I bookmarked those for a reason…)

A monumental Fluffdate before the solemn link roundup

Earlier this afternoon…a breakthrough.

I keep the fluff’s brush on the couch, so when he comes close enough I can hold it out for him to sniff. Sometimes even get away with a light stroke — not enough to actually reach any tangles, all it achieves is reassuring him that it’s Not Dangerous — before he darts away.

So he hops down from the windowsill, and I offer the brush for the usual investigation, and…

For a solid five minutes he just rolled around under the brush, twisting so I could get different angles, head butting up against my arm. There was, briefly but unmistakably, purring.

At first I was sure he’d lose his nerve if I reached for the phone to take any pictures. Then I risked it. He stuck around. I snapped these adorable shots. He kept it up.

It has been almost exactly 51 week since I brought him home. Just shy of a solid year. Six months ago, when people asked if he was letting me pet him yet, I told them it would be at least another six months — well, look at him now.

I got a fair amount of loose fur out of his coat. Even managed to do a bit of bare-handed skritching, long enough for me to confirm that he is Very Soft, before I got a light swat to let me know he was Done. (He sat around on the couch with me for a while afterward, though, so it wasn’t like he was mad about it.)

Wonder how long it’ll take before he comes back for more. I guess we’ll find out. Bet it won’t be as long as 51 weeks this time, though.


…the rest of this is COVID-19 news links, ordered by date.

(So, a timeline of what it’s like to live through the point in every disaster movie where the experts say “we’ve scienced up some great preventative measures here, but please, you have to do them Right Now or it’ll be too late.”)

March 11: “From a woman whose symptoms started with a fever, to a man who said he was an inch from death, coronavirus survivors have begun speaking out about the worldwide pandemic.

March 18: “Gen. Dave Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, confirmed that military cargo planes were moving coronavirus testing kits, but did not give specific details during a Wednesday briefing at the Pentagon. The general acknowledged that ‘we’ve just made a pretty significant movement into Memphis.’” …From Italy. You know, they need those in Italy.

March 22: “People say Contagion is prescient. We just saw the science. The whole epidemiological community has been warning everybody for the past 10 or 15 years that it wasn’t a question of whether we were going to have a pandemic like this. It was simply when.” Interview with Dr. Larry Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox.

March 23: “Product distributed by Diamond [i.e. comics, especially floppy single issues, to local comic shops] and slated for an on-sale date of April 1st or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice.

March 24: “This particular group of Chicago workers was fed up with [Amazon] failing to provide paid time off or vacation it promised to part-time workers. They organized; Amazon resisted — and at last, the coronavirus acted as tiebreaker.” Good for them.

March 24 again: “‘We saw his press conference. It was on a lot, actually,’ she said. ‘Trump kept saying it was basically pretty much a cure.’ […] They mixed a small amount of the substance with liquid to drink. Within 20 minutes, both fell ill. Her husband could not be revived in hospital and she remains in critical care.” It’s been obvious for years that Trump is a compulsive liar, and everyone who’s still ignoring that gets horrifically damaged by it eventually, but this must be some kind of record for the fastest trajectory from “trusting something he said” to “horrible consequences.”

March 25: “A 52-year-old man [from Durban, South Africa] who allegedly tested positive for Covid-19 but went back to work, has been arrested for attempted murder. ” Sounds right. If a country has specific bioterrorism laws, time to start charging people under those, too.

Various dates, on each individual photo: Reuters slideshow of the temporary hospitals and medical facilities being hastily set up around the world. It is tragic that we need these, but amazing to see the competence and dedication that’s getting them up.