Inside Tom's Head - October 2021
03 Nov 2021
October was a good month, if a bit hectic. I started a new job and have felt like I have been gradually emerging from my shell of burnout. I’ve been able to relax and like smiles are coming easily again. In addition, I have had the energy to actually work on things: I’m making progress on the next phase of my climbing wall (I hope to have the next section up by the time spring rolls around, though that might be a bit ambitious), and I’ve had the oomph to work on stuff here, as evinced by me getting this out in the first week of November.
Working from home has taken some adjustment, though. My office is in the garage, which also functions as our auxiliary pantry, so I’ve had to bring back my snack tracker spreadsheet to keep from constantly munching. The good news for that is that I’m really liking the new version I’ve been using, enough so that I might post it to the projects page in the next month or two here. I’ve also been missing my commute, and have been trying to find time in the morning for bike rides. I’m guessing that I’ll be more or less settled into that routine by the end of November.
One of my reactions when I was reading Worm was that if Taylor ever just got a minute to get her feet under her, I (as the reader) could relax, but that moment never really came (which makes sense, you need all sorts of tension to draw the reader through that long of a story). Anyway, that’s sort of how I’ve felt since at least 2019, like I just needed a little time to get my feet under me. In my case, that time did come, but it was never enough, and I never felt like I actually recovered. Heck, I’m not sure if I ever properly recovered from the work hell that was 2015. Whether real recovery from that was ever a real possibility will forever remain an open question for me. But a fresh start sure does feel good, and I think that it may be enough.
tl;dr things are going well and I’m optimistic, to the links!
- Although the cool thing to do these days is to mandate electric cars (despite not being that great of a solution), it’s a hard sell for a lot of people. Phasing out sales of new gas-powered lawn care equipment, on the other hand, could start today and would have big benefits for just about everyone. I could even see traditionally conservative Home Owners Associations getting behind it, since your neighbor running an 80+ db mower/leaf blower/whatever definitely impacts the quality of life of everyone around them and electric versions are much less disruptive (even at the same noise level, according to one of the linked articles).
- Apparently, Native American tribes are starting to win court cases not just on the basis of treaty rights (also known as getting the government to do what they had promised to do at the beginning), but because they are simply doing a better job of governing.
- An article in the Atlantic argues that by not attending to the inequities in our society or investing in public health in a meaningful way, we are setting ourselves up for the next pandemic. To me, one of the most compelling parts of this argument is that all of the things that the author says we should be working on will have huge benefits aside from pandemic preparedness. Imagine a world in which an average of more than 30,000 people in the US don’t die of the Flu each year. Imagine a world in which medical bankruptcy becomes uncommon enough that it is news, not just another gofundme campaign. Imagine a world in which the poorest Americans didn’t take a 10-15 year hit to their expected lifespan due to their income. We could have that world, if we choose to.
- Why is FEMA planning on rebuilding the fossil fuel infrastructure in Puerto Rico instead of building renewable energy? I’m not even arguing that they should build exclusively renewable power generation, but Puerto Rico doesn’t even currently have the port capacity to import enough natural gas to run the power plants that are being proposed. The bit I disagree with in the article is that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So long as we keep on building fossil fuel infrastructure, we will continue to exacerbate climate change, which will in turn increase the frequency of these “once in a lifetime” storms. If we do go down this path and build a bunch of fragile fossil fuel infrastructure, maybe the next time it gets wiped out we can invest in underground power lines and distributed renewable power generation.
- On the subject of islands in the Caribbean, 99% Invisible has an article about why Bermuda Roofs are so cool. As the effects of climate change become more noticeable, I think that islands are going to have a lot to teach us. After all, they already deal with water scarcity, extreme weather, and expensive power generation.
- I’m not sure if I totally buy the way people talk about cars and drivers as evidence of a sort of proto-vehicular-transhumanism, but it is definitely a fun idea. At the very least, our use of language is problematic, since saying a car hit someone implies that the car did acted on its own, rather than the driver hitting someone (sure, no one thinks that cars are acting on their own–yet–but why introduce that subconscious bias). I’m definitely going to refer to driving as “putting on a car-suit” in the future, though.
- A video about how the character of the built environment in Japan derives from the country’s zoning laws. This is a fairly obvious point, in retrospect, but well illustrated. In addition, something about this video made me realize how weird our idea of “residential” is. Granted, it makes sense that residential means where people live, but it strikes me as odd that in the US it also means that you can’t have anything else. To me, having a corner store or a cafe makes an area more residential, not less, as those things are very different from big box stores and office towers. It’s like building a house that has bedrooms and bathrooms but no kitchen. Perhaps we need a new term for places like suburbs that have no amenities? This feels like it could be a whole post, so I’ll leave it there for now.
- I finally got a chance to watch Palm Springs. I love time loop stories (Groundhog Day, Russian Doll, Happy Death Day, etc.) and this didn’t disappoint. I read somewhere that we don’t really know how long Bill Murray is stuck in the time loop in Groundhog Day, it could be basically what is implied by the movie or it could be 10,000+ days. What would that do to a person? Palm Springs explores this, and is funny and charming. I loved it. I just wish that it weren’t exclusive to Hulu so that more people could watch it.
- Season One of Only Murders in the Building (Hulu exclusive, sorry) was a ton of fun. Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez play three neighbors who try to solve a murder that happens in their building, documenting their case with a podcast. I loved pretty much everything about the show.
- Foundation has finally gotten an adaptation. It has been a long time since I read the first book (I never finished the series, unfortunately), but it works without having fresh knowledge of the plot. Matt Webb has some interesting thoughts on it, as well, about how the choices the show makes take a little away from the magic of the books. He’s probably right, but I’m still excited for new episodes every week.
- Yeah, we watched more Hulu. We’ve been making our way through What We Do in the Shadows. I enjoyed the movie, but am liking the show even more. It has become our go-to chaser when we watch something that ends on a weird note.
- I’ve been waiting to watch Free Guy since nearly the start of the pandemic. It was fantastic. Aside from being a silly action comedy, I really loved how much philosophy they crammed in there. Definitely worth renting.
- This year I started a 2021 playlist in Apple Music. Every time I get a song stuck in my head or listen to something that feels particularly relevant to now, I add it to the list. I think that I’m going to try to do it every year, since it would be interesting to go back and listen to in the future.
- It may not sound like it, but I have been reading, too. I’m working my way through What Can a Body Do? by Sara Hendren and A World Without Email by Cal Newport, but I’m still adjusting to my new schedule and haven’t had a whole lot of time for reading paper or ebooks. I also made a big dent in my podcast backlog before reading the audiobook of A Deadly Education which I absolutely loved. It reminded me of a bunch of things, from Dark Lord Clementine to the Murderbot Diaries. I’m currently in the middle of the second book, and enjoying it, too.
- We received our copy of The Dragon Prince: Battlecharged, which I’ve only had the opportunity to play once so far, but liked quite a bit. There seems to be a good balance of simplicity and interesting decisions, and I’m looking forward to playing more. Also, the box is designed with space for sleeved cards, which is a huge bonus in my book (if I need to regularly shuffle a deck smaller than about 40 cards, sleeves make things way better). Finally, it looks like Fantasy Flight stopped making sleeves, but Sleeve Kings looks to be taking their place. Their standard sleeves are thicker than normal but not as robust as the sleeves I would use for a game like Netrunner, I think that they will be perfect for board games.