Categories
Chronicle

Day 1233 and Heat

I have been enjoying the mild weather of May. I’ve not had any extremes which is a sort of pleasant surprise. Climate and weather intersect poorly too often these days.

I was explaining to a mutual how we’d settled on Montana to buy land and much of the calculation was about the pleasures of a cold, dry and mountainous climate. It’s sunny without much in the way of humidity which makes for enjoyable winters even when it gets cold.

I am not much of a fan of humidity. It hurts my joints and reminds me of my ankylosis. I’m much more prone to trouble with inflammation when it’s damp.

Whenever I encounter a coastal climate I struggle a bit. Others may love a riviera but I’ve never found one I liked. I’ve been to a reasonably diverse array from San Francisco to coastal Mediterranean and I can do without.

The weather is however about to change. Soon it will be the season of air conditioning. I’ll be going through Texas for a conference at the end of May. I’m not looking forward to the heat.

Categories
Aesthetics Culture

Day 1227 and Storm

I’ve been following NOAA Space Weather forecasts as there is an extreme geomagnetic storm. Scientific research stations and news media have been reporting avidly on the solar storm as it’s producing aurora in areas which typically don’t see northern lights.

G5 Geomagnetic Storm Message from NOAA

It’s fun to have another shared social astronomical event to enjoy across the planet. This year’s solar maximum has delivered us space watchers some incredible coronal mass ejections. You might recall some folks seeing them during the solar eclipse totality event

If you’d search social media for pictures of the aurora borealis you will be in for a treat as many photographers captured so many different colors and patterns.

Axios shared this British Columbia image

I’m always in awe of how much social media facilitates these types of natural phenomena. I find joy seeing different types of people sharing natural beauty and scientific knowledge across our networks. Our shared human experiences connecting us. And the good news is that it’s continuing over the weekend so if clouds cooperate we might all see more tonight.

Categories
Travel

Day 1224 and Sliced Bread

I am going to enjoy myself a little and complain. I hope this kvetching provides you with some amusement. I hate the following idiom.

It’s the best thing since sliced bread.

According to linked Perplexity search above this phrase has come to represent good & useful innovation.

This is wrong. Sliced bread is not a good innovation. It’s barely a useful one

Sliced bread is bad. Increasing the surface increases the pace at which bread goes stale. Any convenience brought about by having a slice on hand and saving a minute or two of time is undermined quickly by having an entire life of bread go bad more quickly.

When bread is baked, the starch molecules in the dough undergo a process called gelatinization where they absorb water and swell up. As the bread cools, these starch molecules start to recrystallize and firm up again, causing the bread to become stale and hard. Exposure to air speeds up this recrystallization of the starch. An unsliced loaf has just the two end surfaces exposed to air, acting as a protective barrier. But when you slice the loaf, you create many more exposed interior surfaces that allow air to penetrate and cause faster staling.

Does slicing bread make it go stale faster?

Maybe Americans are so accustomed to dough softeners and preservatives in our store bought packaged loaves that we’ve come to expect our slices to remain as soft and pliable as within the hour of its baking. If you are baking fresh bread without any of these miracles of foos science you can expect those slices to be stale by the end of the day.

I’ll grant you can expect a fresh loaf to go stale within a day or so. But if let the loaf remain intact you rather than committing to slicing at the bakery you could get another meal or two of slicing.

Slicing reveals the soft crumb within that has been protected somewhat from the light and oxygen of the outside word. I’d like to put off the time for French Toast and croutons personally. I can’t eat an entire loaf in a day.

If bread is sliced at the bakery you’ve committed yourself to eating the entire loaf more quickly than it goes stale. At the end of the day you’ve got bread for for nothing but toasting or soaking.

So please stop using this stupid idiom. We have so many useful innovations at this glorious moment in our species history. Why compare the advent of artificial intelligence or the rapid advancements in medicine, materials science and engineering with an objectively innovation. Sliced bread is a good thing on one or two axis of improvevent at most (time and mess) and a distinctly bad development in all other crucial aspects.

If you must know this rant was prompted by me ordering a loaf of bread from a bakery which sliced it without asking. Neither photo nor written description indicated they would do this to my bread. It was not preference. I wouldn’t have bought it if I knew they’d mangle its future use. Also what kind of bakery slices a ciabatta? Civilization is lost on the continent.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 1216 and If It Is Really Important

My husband was unreachable for the last 72 hours. So no one gets worried while I tell the story, I’ll note this was planned, nothing bad happened and he is back on the grid.

This is the first time I’ve had had no way of getting word to Alex if I wanted to do so in over decade of marriage.

This probably tells you a lot about how accessible we are to each other even when we are apart. We’ve had entire continents between us but I’ve always been able to reach him and he can always reach me. We’ve basically been in non-stop contact since our first date.

Until this weekend. For the last three days Alex was unreachable because he was on a camping (ok hunting) trip.

Many parts of Montana have so few people it’s pretty simple to go completely off grid. And he did.

If you have a decent truck, a Bureau of Land Management map and the ambition to bag a wild turkey you too can get off grid and become unreachable.

When Alex got back onto the grid he texted me.

He asked me what had happened while he had been offline. My first instinct was try to fill him in on everything. But so much had happened I found myself unable to even start.

I went back through hundreds of news stories, group chats, Twitter timelines, and emails in an attempt to sum up everything I’d seen while he’d been off grid. It was my turn to disappear. It was now me who was unreachable

Thankfully Alex stopped be before I got too far into the wild.

“If it’s really important it will get filtered up to me”

Alex Miller 4/30/24

As is often the case my husband was right. So I stopped. Please take this as a sign to not worry about getting caught up. We will filter things up to each outer.

Categories
Culture Finance

Day 1211 and Price of Civilization

Whenever I travel I am reminded of just how good a life I have be virtue of being born American.

I’m kept alive, fed, clothed and connected by a vast web of abstractions undergirding modern civilization thanks to the value of my passport and the exorbitant privilege of the dollar.

Constructs like private property have given rise to elaborate norms of obligation, honors, debts and expectations that enable coordination mechanisms like markets. This seems like a good thing from

All of this feels so astonishingly fragile. We listen when our bankers fret about “rules based western civilization” being under siege because we know those rules are what enables the niceties of our lives.

All it takes are a few assholes breaking the rules and the fabric frays a little more. Blessedly capitalism has its own immune system that is happy to attack all types of hostility.

If you are not integrated into the body politic of the dominant civilization you generally know it. I’ve found those outside of it generally wish they could be assimilated from simple envy. If you want these benefits be prepared to be assimilated to the rules and values of civilization.

Your alternative is struggle to hold yourself apart by your own rules and cultural values and insist others abide by them. This has generally required coercion, violence or shame in the past.

You can say “no” to civilizational benefits simply by opting out. To be left alone is to accept your status and stay outside of the great game of civilization. But to accept the benefits is to in some sense accept to accept that there are rules. You can’t break rules if you don’t know their importance. If you know the rules and break them however you can’t be surprised when it’s viewed as a thread.

Categories
Travel

Day 1210 and Technical Difficulties

I’m on the road. Despite carrying a laptop, an iPad and an iPhone as a three cascade backup of devices, I am down to 1.5 functional computing devices after losing my iPad and falling and cracking my phone.

This isn’t ideal as it fucked with my commitments which all require being online and functional. I landed in the afternoon and rested. Clearly I shouldn’t have taken that time for myself but rather used it to acquire fixes to these issues. Given that I need to hit publish and get on with it.

Categories
Preparedness Travel

Day 1209 and No Mercy On The Road

No matter now much I prepare, and I clearly take packing and travel preparedness seriously, there is no overcoming the random shitshows that plague travel these days

I swung through Chicago’s O’Hare in an economy seat to position myself for a long haul flight. That short haul economy flight went without a hitch. I landed in Terminal 1 and made my way t Terminal 5 which is how things started going sideways in multiple directions.

The bus system/holding pen for transit between terminals is amazing for its on the ground access to airplanes but it sure is slow. Once I got to Terminal 5 it was clear the lounge assigned me via the airline wouldn’t work. It was 5 degrees warmer than in the airport terminal (a European airline of course) with no available seating, or inexplicably, any bathrooms. So much for having paid a premium.

I wandered up and down Terminal 5 looking for a food court. Frontera’s takeaway sandwiches had a forty minute wait. Dunkin Donuts was fully stocked but with a 40 person deep line. There was somehow no McDonalds.

The upscale fast casual options like Wow Bao and other private equity branded spots all took turns shouting what they were out of to the crowd waiting. No falafel or pita at the Mediterranean spot. Only 3 options were remaining at the Asian fusion spot. I got half my dumpling order. I didn’t have the heart to press for the remaining items from the single harried worker. $8 didn’t matter.

I went to my gate to wait for the flight afterwards. I sat on the floor. There were no seats anywhere in the terminal (or as previously mentioned the lounge). Somehow, once I boarded my long haul flight the crew managed to change my assigned seat on it without consulting me. It was a much worse seat than I had purchased.

If I had any idea how bad this new seat was going to be I might have fought it at counter, alas they gave no indication this new seat would be an issue.

It was the worst possible seat in the class without any place to store a backpack under foot nor were there holders or nooks for water bottles or your other sundries. I struggled to reposition medication and liquids on the tiny table. The chatty friendly Boomer next to me didn’t realize he was using both his table as well mine making it even order to find space to groom and medicate.

I tried to get that across to him. That all of the space he was using wasn’t actually space but meant to be my side. I failed to get that through. He stole my pack of tissues when I left it out. He did give them back when I pressed him. He seemed embarrassed. Later I released he’d also taken my water bottle. I feel there must be some wider lesson in this.

It wasn’t a proper flat lay seat though I’d paid for a business ticket. I had nowhere to put my medications, toiletries or other sundries. There wasn’t even a spot to put a water bottle. I rearranged as much as I could to avoid having all my things fall into the aisle, took an Ambien, prayed I’d not need access anything else and went to sleep.

I woke up on the other side of the ocean, gathered my things and deplaned.

My watch dinged. Your iPad has been left behind. Somewhere in this process my iPad must have been lost. I didn’t take it out of my backpack to my knowledge so that was a mystery. As I deplaned I was sure I had everything.

Behind where was the question? I only had 30 minutes to get rush to the last leg of my flight but I vainly went back to previous gate trying to see if that was where my iPad had been left behind. There was one at the gate which seemed fast.

As I unpacked all my bags trying to see if the tablet might be somewhere in my luggage I fell and broke my iPhone screen in the process. The top half shattered. It might hold it together for a day or two. Maybe.

Then I had issues clearing the next leg security with my injection medications for my ankylosis. I was told I didn’t need to clear security at this transit point so I wasn’t fully prepared. My bag got unpacked again. At least at this point it was clear my iPad really was gone.

Finally I make with 10 minutes to spare to my final leg. I am upgraded to first but they refuse to allow me to bring my carry on. “It is over 18 kilos!” I begin to cry. It was not over 18 kilos. I weighed it myself.

No one else was even in my 3 rows around me. The empty upper baggage storage had no other bags in them. I tried to sway them saying I have a medication I can’t afford to lose. Nothing works. She wants to exercise authority. My grey roller bag is put below. I pray it’s not also lost to me.

At this point I’ve not eaten a real meal in 24 hours, two crucial electronics are status “unsure” and I’ve got no way of knowing if either my roller bag or checked luggage will make it. Thankfully my three bag cascade system has me with a change of pajamas, basic toiletries and my medications. No matter the effort I point in there never seems to be mercy for the traveler

Categories
Preparedness Travel

Day 1207 and Joy of Preparing

Yesterday I wrote about how I’d come to enjoy the complicated game of speaking to others about yourself through appearance. I had been packing some travel bags and had a lot of different context switching to account for what I needed in my suitcase.

Preparedness is somewhere between a neurosis and a hobby for myself and a number of my friends. My husband and I are definitely who you email if you want get into preparedness.

We have fun. I have a group chat where our favorite topic is how we like to stage and prepare different types of bags for life and travel. Everything from which medications should be or the ideal toiletries is in the box.

It can nice to have fun with considering resilience. It’s normal to do wilderness first responder training or to have a go-bag in case of a fire evacuation in Montana. It’s a norm now rural or not to to be prepared.

Everywhere has a risk. Fires, hurricanes, flooding, tornados, earthquakes are new normal of everyone lives. The joy of preparedness is worth embracing. Think of it as kind of anti-Marie Kondo approach to thriving in a more chaotic world.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 1206 and Appearances

I have come to enjoy the logistics of self presentation. I used to resent the extent of the labor that could go into cosmetics & fashion when I worked in the industry. Now I can enjoy having put in the long hours to have acquired my skills.

I’ve put a lot of thought into how best to pack a bag. Handbags are a sort of Boy Scout style training for young women in that “be prepared” has come to mean having all the tools of the trade of femininity neatly stowed away in a stylish purse.

These obsessions with what we have in our bags runs from the Queen’s Marmalade sandwiches to whole cultural industries producing #WhatsInMyBag as identity politics. Men do it too but “go bag” sounds tactical and thus somehow more serious. It’s not.

I’ve written extensively about my mixed feelings on packing & travel in the past, so it’s nice to have enjoyed that struggle and be able to now aside if I so desire. Packing a bag well has become a thing in which I am expert and that’s a lovely feeling.

The pleasure of negotiating the logistics of appearance can be a game to me now in a way that simply wasn’t when I was younger and struggling. Now when I don’t need to be perceived in a positive way to survive, I can enjoy the problem of optimizing for a giant game of “what am I saying without words” and more importantly “to whom?”

I’ve come to enjoy packing as the self soothing experience in a rapidly changing world. I can control some aspect of what I show to the world. It becomes a design problem. The three bag cascade is now a savvy way to manage airline chaos. The labels on my packing cubes become a pleasurable prayer ritual as I not so neatly write in cursive “black sleeve tee-shirt.”

I like the challenge of imagining the multiple social, professional, cultural and geographic flows I might navigate. Will I be able to manage the many different ways in which I might encounter other humans while they also live through the same set of fears & uncertainties of 2024? It can be terrifying (personal safety is a factor) and yet it’s absolutely a skills issue to navigate these things.

And so I ask “do technical fabric wrap dresses send the right message” or would I be better suited in cotton or silk if I’m in a desert? How about adding in semi-tropical humidity as a potential variable?

Every decision in how I pack a bag can represent a small marker in my perception by others as we manage this ridiculous system we inhabit together. It is a social game and everyone is playing. You might enjoy learning some of the rules too.

Categories
Emotional Work Travel

Day 1203 and Flow

I don’t quite know how I managed to settle into a flow state but I’ve been listening to American classic rock from sixties & seventies and just being in my body today.

The excuse for focusing on chores and what is in front of me preparing for a spring print. I’m packing for some travel and doing spring cleaning.

What I’m really doing is as a form of physical somatic integration as I’ve been throwing back more information than I thought I could handle. Or to put it simply, I’m noodling on shit. My mind is compiling.

I do prioritize nervous system regulation but even with a full toolkit of techniques I could feel the strain before I hit this flow state. It was time to breakthrough or breakdown.

I feel as if I’ve broken through to flow. There was no breakdown. I leaned into the turn. And it feels great.

I am intaking as much information as I ever have in my professional adult life. Maybe university study is a close second but I have a foundation of knowledge now that obviously I didn’t have twenty years ago. That foundation has given me more mental agility that I expected to have in middle age candidly.

I expect whatever the end process of this synthesis will show itself when it’s ready and I shall cultivate this playful ease. I trust myself to find the way through.