Category Archives: what I learned this week

A bulleted summary of observations and learning for the week

Sunday Thoughts – 20170917

  • I like bean dishes. You can cook them in the crockpot. They taste even better over the next few days, so they make great leftovers for cook ahead lunches. This week’s bean dish was a spicy baked bean pot with chorizo, bacon, onions, green peppers, and two jalapenos from the garden. It will be yummy for lunches this week.
  • The garden has been slower to start this year than usual, but it’s set to go crazy within the next two weeks. We picked tomatoes, eggplant, jalapenos, and the first real green peppers I’ve ever gotten from the garden. The green peppers that are big enough to make stuffed green peppers. I’m planning to stuff them and put them in the freezer tomorrow or Tuesday (depending on my energy level and how long things take at the doctor.
  • I have another appointment on Monday for wound care follow up. I’m hoping that we can finally move to the next stage of care, which I think is saline solution and repacking once a day. The wound care nurse is supposed to be at this appointment, so I’ll learn more then.
  • My endurance is still very uneven from surgery. I’m trying to wean myself off my afternoon nap, but I’m still finding it necessary, which throws off my ability to go straight to sleep at night. I’m writing this on the Sunday side of midnight and I feel very awake. After I finish writing, I’m going to put on Thunderstorm white noise from my tablet, and see if that works to get me to sleep.
  • I miss the way work structures a week. I hope that my return to work appointment in just under two weeks goes well even with my open wound.

Something’s gotta give

Something’s gotta give and that something is this blog. This blog will be moving to a once-a-week update. New posts will publish on Thursday mornings starting next week.

The discipline of writing regularly, if not every day, has been good for me. The problem becomes the limitations of time itself. I spend too much time trying to come up with a topic to blog about on the days that I don’t have a hot topic burning in my brain. Those days are usually “I talk about the knitting I don’t do enough of” days.

Those days are usually “I talk about the knitting I don’t do enough of” days and they’re as much of a drag to write as they are to read if you’re not a knitter. Sometimes they’re “pictures of the dogs” days and I Can Has Hotdog does that better. I’d rather put out one high-quality piece of writing than a week of mostly drivel with a chance of something more meaningful.

I’d rather put out one high-quality piece of writing than a week of mostly drivel with a chance of something more meaningful. Also, If I’m going to make real progress forward on my other writing, I need to take time out of writing that isn’t giving me progress toward my goal. I need to put it on the goal itself.


What I learned this week: 20170305 – 20170311

  1. I really need to get over falling for the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It’s a fallacy that inhibits my creative urges.
  2. For an alleged grown-up, I sure do like my toys. (AKA I’ma just going to be over here playing with my farm.)
  3. We have a wide variety of weather in Iowa, so it’s a thing we talk about. Thunderstorms in late winter. Tornadoes in late winter. All things we talk about.
    We even have a saying about the weather: If you don’t like it, wait five minutes — It’ll change.
  4. Taking the time to understand my personal sense of style is helping me understand why I still haven’t knit a sweater for myself: deep down, I know some of the things I like are things I won’t wear and so I avoid starting a task that will ultimately be useless.
  5. No is pretty much a curse word in my head.

What I learned this week: 20170226 – 20170304

  1. Trust no one, especially not politicians. I should have learned this from the X-Files, but apparently not so much.
  2. On the other hand, don’t blame me that the current batch of politicians isn’t any different from the last batch. I wanted Bernie Sanders.
  3. I probably should have clarified: Believing in God and the saving grace of Jesus and identifying as Christian are two different things. I learned some time ago that organized religion, in general, is basically politics that puts on a religion cloak and then walks through the mud in it.
    Politics and religion are not like a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup: They are not two great tastes that taste great together.
    Also, the Religious Right seems to have intentionally been mixing politics and religion. Since I’m not involved in that movement, I find it’s better not to call myself by the names associated with that movement.
  4. Chickens ARE the best. Please go watch Wednesday’s video again if you don’t believe me.
  5. I need to grow a pot of cat grass for Sully-cat to sit in because he’s crushing my potted herbs. Damn it, Sully-cat!
  6. I miss Dad.
  7. Early Saturday morning is the worst time to have to go into The Day Job to babysit database archiving. There’s not enough caffeine in the world.

What I learned this week: 2017 02 11 Edition

  1. My blog site colors are currently the same as my wardrobe colors. (Specifically, Navy, Plum, and White.) This was not intentional. I just really like those colors.
  2. I’m so used to feeling terrible (Thanks, fibromyalgia, a cold that was taking forever to go away, and an asthma flare up) that it took me actually running a fever, having a constant headache and a sore throat to realize I now have the flu. Grr.
  3. Sometimes the only answer for things is to just go to bed.
  4. My people really love me. Thank you to both of you for taking such good care of me.

The What I learned this week: 20161120 – 20161126

A palm plant in a shower.

Triff-Ed the oversized potted palm is hiding in the shower while we take up the carpet in the room he usually lives in.

  1. Love is not compatability. It sucks when you discover this. It sucks more when you watch two people you care deeply about come to this conclusion.
  2. Sometimes finishing a project is a let down, even if the project was successful.
  3. Sometimes the lesson is that you still have more to learn.

The Politics I said I didn’t want to talk about

(Skip now if you’re not interested. The crafting and love of horror and sci-fi will be back before the end of the week.)

The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly’, meaning ‘many’, and the word ‘ticks’, meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’. – Larry Hardiman

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

Desmond Tutu

I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.

Elie Wiesel

As much as I would like to refrain from all political discussion, that makes me part of the problem. If I’m going to be part of the solution, I need to be willing to discuss political things with people who are willing to talk about them.

That said, I don’t know enough about all the political issues facing this country and I have come to recognize that live in a bubble. That’s a sad statement for a descendant of a revolutionary war veteran. I aim to fix it.

Part of the reason my blog has been quiet has been me giving myself a crash course in the President-Elect’s political stance and reading about the people who supported his White House bid. There has been a lot of reading to do and a lot of fact checking to go with that reading. The political Pants-On-Fire meter has been pretty high all around, not just on the President-elect’s side of the street.

There is no moral high ground, as much as I would like there to be a moral high ground. Say what you will about the President-elect and the company he keeps, it’s his business dealings and the number of lawsuits and investigations he’s involved in. Maybe Bernie Sanders, who was the reason I caucused as a Democrat this year. I really liked his track record and the way he seems to fight against Big Money and for The Common Person.

As part of stepping out of my comfort zone and owning my need to participate more fully in the political discussions going on around me, I need to state for the record that I consider myself a political moderate and an Independent.  (It says that last piece right on my voter registration card.)

I’m a social progressive: I want to make sure that everyone in the United States of America has a fair chance for everyone to succeed, no matter race, creed, social status, sexual orientation, gender or gender expression, religion, or any other thing that someone might throw out that could be used to try to divide the people of this country.

I am a fiscal conservative: I’m not against taxes. I like roads and public safety and a basic level of education for people as much as the next person and I’m glad to do my part. Probably more than some. I know that there’s only so much money and other resources available, so we need to spend in the most efficient way possible.

I was raised in a working class family living in a middle class neighborhood my parents could barely afford because they wanted to give us a better chance at a good education. I grew up seeing hard-working people and believing that an honest day’s work deserved an honest day’s pay – that work was dignity and there was no shame in putting on your work jeans and getting your hands dirty.

I read a story on NPR last week where one of the people interviewed said that the Democratic party should stop putting social issues at the forefront of the party. To me jobs and the economy are social issues. They’re tied to basic human dignity, which everyone in the United States deserves to have.

It’s really hard to have empathy and compassion for another person when you’re struggling to meet your own needs yourself. I can understand that.

This combination is why I consider myself a moderate. I’m always trying to find the middle ground. Balancing these two things is difficult in the first place.

It’s even more difficult with the political pendulum swinging to the far left and the far right with no one willing to meet in the middle, which is where I stand. It feels like I’m standing alone in the bottom of a well, shouting to both sides to try to find common ground.

It’s not a comfortable place to be. It makes it very tempting to want to keep my head down, lest the swinging pendulum take off my head like an Edgar Allan Poe story. I’m not liberal enough for the liberals and I’m certainly not conservative enough for the conservatives (though I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to know that I put “learning more about my second amendment rights” on my to-do list for the next year.)

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be concerned about the President-elect’s plans. I am terrified of what the next four years could bring if everything the media is saying turns out to be true.

Putting aside all the terrible, extremely quotable sound bites and the discord surrounding the president-elect and his twitter account (and I find them appalling both in and out of context), but is it just distracting another issue: he’s never held any public office before and now he’s in the highest office in the land. (There’s a well thought out post on the topic here.)

When I first saw that Donald Trump was running, before the first horrible sound bites started appearing, a president with no experience in a public office sounded like a recipe for disaster to me, which is why I didn’t vote for him. The other things? Icing on the cake? Additional proof that he wasn’t ready for the highest office in the land.

Or maybe we’ve elected this century’s version of P. T. Barnum and he’s brought the sideshow to the Oval Office. P. T. Barnum was brilliant. I wouldn’t want him for president, either. Look at this distraction over here. Pay no attention to what I’m doing behind the scenes.

Is it really just coincidence that the Vice-President elect went to Hamilton (where there was bound to be some kind of scene) just as the news was hitting that the President-elect was settling his Trump University Lawsuit ? I have no proof, but I have my doubts, obviously.

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that I still need to learn more about all of this. I need to step out of my comfort zone and make more people with more viewpoints part of my life. Not just politically. In all of my life.

Edited to add: I was also extremely uncomfortable with the number of lawsuits and investigations against Hillary Clinton. I realized I hadn’t said that explicitly in the above.

Good Night, Edward R Morrow, wherever you are

​The news isn’t trustworthy anymore. Every agenda needs to be understood. I want plain facts news. I want the heirs to Edward R Morrow, Walter Cronkite, and Dan Rather bringing me news that’s plain facts and aimed at finding the truth.

Every story needs to be verified and fact checked. Every agenda needs to be understood. From biased reporting to outright inventing stories, there’s so much junk out there that every person needs to be their own fact checker.

If the news I’m reading comes with a descriptor, like Christian News or Liberal News, or Libertarian News, it’s just someone shilling their agenda. I’m sorry if that hurts anyone’s feelings, but I’m only interested in unbiased reporting (as much as anyone can be truly unbiased) and the truth. (or give me a plain explanation of your agenda, so I can find a source biased against you to try to find the middle ground.)

My Facebook feed is dominated with alleged news stories proclaiming the righteousness of this side or that one. I’m drowning like drowning in a sea of tainted news and the problem isn’t new.

Oscar Wilde said in his essay “The Soul of Man under Socialism

Somebody — was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism. In America the president reigns for four years, and Journalism governs for ever and ever.

The rest of the essay is Wilde talking about why he thinks about socialism is a bad idea. You can read that for yourself. What I found interesting was that even in 1891, when Oscar Wilde was writing, the press (and bias within the press) was a problem. He said “The tyrany it proposes to exercise over people’s private lives is quote extraordinary.” 

How much more of a problem is it now? Not only does no one really have any privacy, but journalism seems to have slipped backwards in time, looking for headlines to sell the papers more than looking for integrity in reporting and finding the truth. Some news sources go so far as to invent stories if nothing suitable to the viewpoint they’re peddling exists. 

Biased news and outright faked news fill our newsfeeds, shaping our perceptions of the world. It’s one thing to have your view changed by a better and more informed understanding of the facts of a situation. It’s another to have your view poisoned by someone else’s bias. Sadly, the world we live in is trying to do just that: buying and selling us for pennies a click.

The news isn’t trustworthy anymore. Was it ever really? Good Night, Edward R Morrow, wherever you are. I wish you and your kind would come back and restore integrity to journalism. Until then, I’ll be checking every so-called fact I read and scouring my news for bias.

What I learned this week: 20161113 – 20161119

Okay, some of this stuff I learned last week and the week before, but I didn’t have enough coherent thoughts around them to process them.

  1. Holy carp! What happened to integrity in Journalism? So many thoughts hee
  2. I agreed with Glen Beck this week. That’s pretty much a sign of the apocalypse right there, right next to plague and famine. If you see a guy on a white horse, we’re pretty much doomed.
  3. I need to read more things and more different things than I’ve been reading. To quote Haruki Murakami, “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
  4. I added It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis to my reading list, because I’m terribly afraid it just did. Yes, everyone is reading it now. It seems topical and I haven’t read any Sinclair Lewis before. I already have Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street in my Kindle reading queue from a conversation with some of my Minneapolis Knitting Friends.
  5. Yes, I’m terrified of what the next four years could bring if all the fear mongering in my Facebook news feed turns out to be true. I’m not going to protest or put on a safety pin, though, I’m getting back to my roots. I’m putting on my work jeans, rolling up my sleeves, and going to work. 

What I learned this week: 20161023 – 20161029

  1. Apparently WordPress on my tablet thinks everything’s ready to publish despite the fact that I know I’ve saved things as drafts. Several posts this week have gone out in the draft state. At least one in the “I made a placeholder for a thing I plan to write about state.” I must figure out what I’m doing wrong and prevent that noise from happening again.
  2. I don’t knit or crochet enough. I’ve actually done some knitting this week, but compared to what I should be doing to knit / crochet all the things I want (in some cases actually need) to make I need to devote more time to the actual act of making things with yarn.
  3. Writing this blog takes longer than I think it does. Case in point: I’ve spent more time writing this blog than writing anything else. I wonder if better post planning on my part would help with the time factor so that I can spend more time knitting.
  4. Actually blocking time on the calendar to get things done works at the Day Job. It does not work as well at home due to what I like to think of as the “since you’re not doing anything” factor.
  5. I worry too much about what other people think. Sometimes it stops me fully enjoying things I enjoy, like watching classic horror films or sitting in my underwear and eating ice cream because I’m spending too much time thinking about what people would think of me if they knew that’s how I live my life when I’m not in public. (The reason you need to text or call me before you drop by my house is so I can put on pants. This has been a public service announcement. #themoreyouknowrainbow)
  6. I had something of a crisis about this blog on Tuesday that I didn’t write about because I read (back to back, actually) someone else’s blog post about annoying Facebook posts and another blog post by someone who writes about writing that both basically said “if you’re not writing what I think you should be writing, you suck, are annoying, and should stop” and it fed into my (obviously now not so) secret fear that I actually suck horribly at everything.See also: I worry too much about what other people think.
  7. Beauty is everywhere. The picture with this post is of the ground next to my car at the Day Job.