Category: Rants

Staying home vs. going in

I had an idea for a longer post about the upcoming struggle between companies and workers regarding work from home policies post-pandemic, but decided about four paragraphs in that the post wasn’t going anywhere particularly important or interesting. So instead, here’s a much simpler version.

Pros of working from home:

  • Can generally roll out of bed anytime I want, as long as my work laptop is powered on by 9am.
  • Don’t need to wear work-appropriate clothes (although I find it helps to do so anyway, just to get into the mindset).
  • Can get other things done while I’m on mute on conference calls, like doing laundry or starting a multiple-hour sous vide for dinner later on.
  • Quality time with the cats when they deign to grace me with their presence.

Pros of going into the office:

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Things are getting back to normal

I’ve made an attempt to keep updates on a regular schedule since bringing the site back a few months ago; on Saturdays, I’ll hike the iPad over to Starbucks and drink cold brew and type things, and hit the Publish button before I pack up and go back home. Missed yesterday’s regular update because I jumped on the ferry over to Seattle for errands and a couple productive hours of bug-squashing at the soon-to-be-no-longer-deserted office. Logged the following observations over the course of the day:

After multiple years of living in downtown Seattle and becoming more or less acclimated to the realities of downtown living as it pertains to homelessness (trash/excrement/needles on the sidewalk, people having meltdowns on street corners, etc), the one year I’ve lived out on the island has re-sensitized me to this particular subject. If you’re on foot coming off the ferry, you might take the pedestrian walkway that traverses over Alaskan Hwy and Western Ave and drops you off at the Starbucks on First Ave and Marion St. The segment of Western Ave under the walkway seems to rotate in and out of being used as a homeless encampment, depending I guess on Seattle PD enforcement of the area. I happened to drive over yesterday because I had other errands to run that made walking too much of a time sink, and basically any overpass I drove under was occupied by tents and completely cluttered with trash. I understand these folks are in a lot of cases playing the hand they’re dealt, so this isn’t a direct criticism of them or the situation they’re in… but it is a stark reminder of how different things are compared to where I currently live, especially the longer I go without needing to be in the downtown area.

The area in/near Pike Place Market is about as crowded as it was pre-pandemic, albeit with folks mostly masked up. I was happy to see most of the businesses seem to be still in operation. Los Agaves (the Mexican place behind one of the produce stands) is still a good place to get a burrito. I skipped over Cinnamon Works this time because a burrito is enough for lunch without adding a cookie the size of your face to the mix, but they’re still there. Johnny Hahn, the old guy who plays piano right on the corner next to Cinnamon Works, didn’t seem to be out. The north end of the market still seems deserted, with Bavarian Meats having packed up and left in the early days of the pandemic and Taxi Dogs vanishing I think sometime before that, even.

I still question the wisdom of allowing people to drive their cars into and through the market. Delivery trucks, I can kind of understand – there are a lot of vendors at the bottom of the hill that it’d be a pain in the ass to get things to if a truck had to park out on First Ave and then wheel a cart down a hill so steep that it closes when there’s any kind of snow or ice on the ground during the winter months. But cars? What’s wrong with rerouting traffic completely around the market to the parking garage on Western Ave?

Getting back to the island at the end of the day took an hour and a half longer than expected – so long that I was on the verge of it being quicker to drive all the way around instead. Originally I thought the overflow lot outside the loading dock was comically large, but it turns out on a busy Saturday afternoon, it gets quite full when the loading area is full and boats are running late. Speaking of which, I’ve seen status messages on the ferry tracker like “the boats are 30 minutes behind, this affects the 4pm, 430pm, 5pm, and 530pm sailings”. If sailings are every 30 minutes, and the boats are 30 minutes late, why not just cancel the 4pm sailing? Then your other sailings are all of a sudden on time again! GENIUS.

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Sleeping in until 6am

Central air conditioning in apartments is a bit of a novelty here in the Sound. For that matter, so is central heat. The weather isn’t hot or cold enough for months on end to justify the expense, so it gets left out. Usually, this is perfectly fine. I’m on the top floor of a building, and the thermostat (tied to the baseboard heater) usually has me at a constant 70-72 degrees without doing much other than leaving a window open during the day.

During the summer months, it’ll get worse. Cooking will spike the temperature up to the upper-70s in the living room, sometimes going as high as 80, with the bedroom lagging a degree or two behind. Last year I mitigated this somewhat by buying a window fan and reversing its flow of air depending on the outside temperature. Below 70 outside? Pull air in. Above 70? Exhaust air out. This worked for awhile, at least until the wildfires came and destroyed the quality of the air outside. Then I had to leave the fan on exhaust mode all the time.

We got our first real touch of heat earlier this week, the first week of June, as the temperature reached 80 outside (I did say I moved out here for a reason). Fortunately this year I was a bit better prepared, as I had bought a portable air conditioner for the living room a few weeks prior. The air conditioner takes up a bit of floor space, but is so far otherwise doing a good job at keeping the living room cool. So that’s a win.

However, that leaves the bedroom yet to be figured out. The bedroom is cooled by a fan only, and the general heat and stuffiness has a noticeable impact on my ability to get a full night of sleep this time of year. Now, staying horizontal much past 630 is actually a challenge, as by that point I’m usually wide awake. It’s been like this essentially every year I’ve been out here. There isn’t quite enough floor space in the bedroom to support another portable air conditioner, either.

Once upon a time, I swapped my bedroom and living room around to solve a noise-related issue, as I was essentially sleeping under the stairwell at the entrance to an apartment building. Might consider doing that this time just for the heat, but then I have to figure out how to keep the bedroom from overheating due to electronics…

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Saturday Morning Ritualisms

I’m currently holed up in a Starbucks –

Proof that I am currently holed up in a Starbucks

Before the pandemic, this used to be the morning routine:

  • Wake up at 5am
  • Be the first one at Starbucks
  • Read, write, play something on Switch, clear the YouTube backlog, do literally anything for about two hours
  • Pack up and head back home to officially start the day.

The challenge with working from home is that home is a 1-bedroom condo where all the daytime activity takes place within the twenty-or-so square feet that my desk occupies. It’s been pretty difficult, especially recently as work has gotten incredibly busy, to separate activities that all happen in the same spot. I’ll sit down at the desk intending to open up my personal laptop to do something non-work related, but I end up opening the work laptop instead and log in to answer emails and squash bugs. Or, I’ll leave emails/IMs unanswered during business hours to play Rocksmith on my personal laptop.

The lack of a separate place that a coffee shop provides has particularly aggravated this problem; at a minimum, I’ll never take a work laptop to Starbucks because the work laptops aren’t very portable, so I can get the personal stuff out of the way in advance. Minus the Rocksmithing, that is. Hauling a bass and a DAC and the laptop and all the cables is just too much effort.

We’ve bounced between Covid phases a couple times now; this county has gone from permitting nobody to permitting 50% occupancy to permitting nobody to now permitting 50% capacity in the last few months. I’ve occasionally sat inside during the “yes you can come in and stick around” phases of things, but the comfort level has increased recently with vaccines achieving widespread availability. Now I just have to deal with the self-conscious feeling I get when I sneeze in public and imagine everyone around me thinking I’m infected.

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Hiding Out

The sad and sorry state of gay rights in this country has been a bit of a pet peeve of mine for going on fifteen years now, ever since I learned a relative was gay. That day I learned a very important lesson in life, and my parents didn’t even have to say anything. Leaving hate out of their teaching of life’s lessons was enough. I basically right there figured – this person is just as good, just as loving, just as human as any other person I’ve met, and they’re not out violating The Golden Rule, so why come down on them over one detail that is infinitely more important, and certainly more personal, to them than it is to me?

I decided as a 16-year old that really hadn’t previously cultivated an opinion one way or another that homophobia was not going to be in the cards for me. Further, I had decided that homophobia in general was something I wasn’t going to view as simply “somebody else’s opinion” – not like competing political ideologies, or banter between friends who are fans of opposing teams in sports – but rather a brand of behavior that should be met with the minimum possible amount of tolerance. The recent passage of gay marriage legislation in the state of New York therefore was just as cool to me as the Mormon church’s apparent involvement in California Proposition 8 was reprehensible. Public policy should be a pay-to-play system, and churches that choose to involve themselves to the level that happened in that instance should have their tax-exempt status swiftly and permanently ripped out from under them. (But that’s another rant for another day.)

We all have our own problems, and it is a pointless waste of time going around trying to vilify everybody. But when somebody comes on with this nonsense that what ten million people do in the privacy of their own bedroom should be made illegal and forced out of society because it doesn’t conform to their personal beliefs, and then subsequently gets caught engaging in that activity – that becomes a source of entertainment as far as I’m concerned. Conservatives and religious types, perhaps in both cases as a function of their religious beliefs, seem to be the most frequent offenders in this regard. The brazen hypocrisy involved is what separates these folks from how a person goes 5 MPH over the speed limit but doesn’t harass or condemn the next person for doing it as well.

You had to figure, as is the case with anyone else who has ever dared to run for the president, that when Michele Bachmann declared herself a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential election, folks would go digging for some sort of dirt on her to undermine her viability as a candidate. Now, she has her own skeletons to deal with. For example, in spite of being a Tea Party hero, she doesn’t hate socialism nearly enough to refuse the quarter of a million dollars in subsidies her family farm has accepted. And then sometimes, as a function of having a vacuum between her earholes, she relocates the shot heard ’round the world to Delaware, or gets her John Waynes mixed up in feckless attempts to pander to voters – the sort of cheap trick normally reserved for professional wrestlers and singers in a band, purpose-built to score easy cheers from an audience, but she still managed to mess up anyway.

But what I find way more interesting is that it turns out her husband is operating some sort of “pray away the gay” clinic up in Minnesota, something she refers to as the family business. This place, billing itself as a counseling center, allegedly employs reparative (conversion) therapy – methods which have long since been disapproved of by the American Psychological Association – in some sort of effort to turn gay people straight. Like it’s some injury you can get physical therapy for, or some sickness you can get a prescription for. Here is a recent quote from Marcus Bachmann that fairly plainly illustrates what he thinks of gay people and why he thinks it’s his job to “help” them:

“I think you clearly say ‘what is the understanding of God’s word on homosexuality,’” Bachmann said. “We have to understand barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined and just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean we’re supposed to go down that road,” he continued.

Other than confirming to me that Mrs. Bachmann and her husband both hold wildly irrational belief structures that makes both of them unfit to run a Dairy Queen let alone a clinic or an empire on the skids, the existence of this clinic is interesting because now apparently a bunch of people’s gaydars are going absolutely crazy when they see Mr. Bachmann in action. This guy either secretly plays for the other team or just convincingly acts like he does. In either case, when you have gay peoples’ gaydars going off – that’s a sign of something. There absolutely would be nothing funnier or more disruptive in this campaign cycle, which is already a sad and crazy circus, if folks’ suspicions turned out to be true and this guy were outed. Absolutely nothing. Mitt Romney passing healthcare legislation in his home state that is not all that different from the much-reviled “Obamacare”? Not even in the same galaxy. At least he was doing something productive!

I’m actually rooting for it just because I’d want to see how explosive it gets.

And now, perhaps because I’m examining Mr. Bachmann through the lens of suspicion that he might be gay, I find myself looking at everything he says and does and interpreting it as he were, and it’s providing some pretty funny results. Barbarians need to be “educated” and “disciplined”, you say? Sounds like…

Ohhh, you bad boy, you need to be taught a lesson! You deserve a spanking!

And of course, who could ignore the obvious – a secretly gay man running a clinic for gay people to come to? Sounds like an easy way to hook up.

It’s been a little over a year since Family Research Council co-founder, Southern Baptist minister, and all-around jackass George Rekers was caught red-handed on vacation with a male prostitute. And when Larry Craig, the senator in Idaho who voted against extending the definition of a hate crime to cover sexual orientation, supported the Federal Marriage Amendment, and expressed support for an Idaho constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, was caught engaging in “disorderly conduct” with an unsuspecting man in a public restroom – that was just exciting.

But what would be even better is a potential First Husband using the family business as a front to cover up some dirty little proclivities of his own. This guy is saying everything Larry Craig said and doing everything Richard Simmons does. Imagine the backlash if it were to turned out this week’s religious conservative darling, signer of the controversial “marriage pledge”, was abiding a homosexual in her very own home. Oops, did I say backlash? I meant hilarity.

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