Wednesday, April 18, 2018

On the Division of Labor, Again

Since I was last extremely irritated on the subject of the division of spousal labor:
  • I asked the spouse to take Child #1 to his yearly checkup.  This required four (4) reminders despite being on the family online calendar, but it was then accomplished without my intervention.
  • The spouse volunteered to a) come home early twice a week and b) take Child #1 out to play basketball, so that said child might actually sleep on the regular.  He has done so twice! 
  • We came to an agreement about children's swimming lessons, wherein we are both inconvenienced, but not terminally so.
  • We have been swapping off, once a week each, putting the kids to bed alone.  This way the free-time-available-per-parent is more favorable.
I realized that part of what going on was that the spouse was taking my time and organization for granted... but I was also going along with the default that had come along after many years of habit, where I arrange and then follow through on all appointments, repair persons, medical needs, and summer camps.  

I will probably continue to organize at least most of these.  However, I don't mind organizing this, because the spouse organizes such things as trash, investments, and car repairs.  I mind doing all of it as well.  So if we continue to split the actual, inconvenient carting-of-children, I think I can be more satisfied with how it goes.  I do need to ask!  And he needs to continue to be cheerful about it.  

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

An Extremely Irritated PSA

There is NO SUCH THING AS UNCURED BACON. It has nitrates in it. It has nitrites in it! But as long as you don't eat cured meat every day, you're probably fine.  Just, 'uncured bacon' is no better for your colorectal health than cured bacon.  Really.  Don't be so gullible, humans.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Brief Book Reviews Returns!

My strong preference for reading books by women continues!

A Study In Scarlet Women (Thomas): A truly excellent alternate-universe Sherlock Holmes.  I have read hundreds of trad-published SH pastiches, and this is one of the best I've read (this fanfic is also a favorite). Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant woman stuck in 19th-century London, who becomes a brilliant consulting detective anyways. 10/10, would read again, sequel already on hold.
Besieged (Hearne): Short stories.  Okay, but not great, and a lot less compelling than the Iron Druid books.  
All Systems Red (Wells): Novella about a sentient android who develops both a conscience and a love for soap operas.  Highly recommended.

Invisible Library series (Cogman): Another installment in the Magical Central Library genre, but quite good and with nice character development.

Pocket Apocalypse (McGuire): Cotton-candy Australian adventure, with love, betrayal, and cryptids.  Enjoyable. 

Court of Fives series (Elliott): [MILD SPOILERS] I liked the first one quite a lot because it had a strong female character who didn't succumb to Twoooo Wuuuuv.  The series ends without making the main character succumb, and has an interestingly anti-colonialist theme.  I find the armed-rebellion-by-underclass slightly implausible in terms of relative armaments and so on, but hey, good for them.  

Dark State (Stross): Another give-you-nightmares dystopian surveillance state.  The plot in this series continues to advance with frustrating slowness, but at least one can tell it's going *somewhere*.  

I also, finally, have a copy of PROVENANCE and I'm saving it for a rainy day.  (Don't tell me what happens!)

What have you been reading? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

One More Thing to Balance

Lately we've had a series of ridiculous snow days (did you know that if it SNOWS a single QUARTER INCH the school must close for the whole day?  because the South).  In general, the spouse and I trade off on who takes the children, but I almost always have to take them in the mornings if school opens late.*

I'm starting to feel a little... what's the word?  Oh, yes.  Resentful.  It's not really because my spouse feels my job is less important than his job; my job is less important than his job.  It's that I feel my time is being considered as less important.  He is never, ever willing to interrupt his precious work day to leave early, or take a kid to the doctor, or come home before 5:30 unless I am deathly ill.  (When I got influenza I had to time my urgent care visit to fit in with his work schedule.  No, really.  I couldn't breathe, but god forbid the cells didn't get fed, sooooo important, how dare my breathing interfere.)

I resent the idea that all the things I'm doing - my online class, learning more programming languages, all the errands and little things I do when the children aren't with me- are all less important than the convenience of my spouse having uninterrupted work time.  Maybe some of those things are, in fact, lower priority, but are they all lower priority?

And this, dear friends, is why sometimes I long for a full-time job, solely so I can tell my dear spouse to take his uninterrupted work day and shove it.

(And now, following a discussion of What To Do Tomorrow Morning When School Opens Two Hours Late, my spouse asserted that he would toooootalllly help next week while the kids have break, if I just asked, and then my head exploded. Clearly we have some work to do.)

*If it has snowed, naturally school must open late, in case it might be ICY.  WE CAN'T DRIVE IN ICE IT'S THE SOUTH AAAAAAH IT'S LIKE GRITS IN A FAAAAAAN.

Monday, March 12, 2018

An Informative Picture, and Other People's Children

Figure 1: An accurate summary of my life at home.  Featuring a rug, a faded couch, an elaborate train track, and a magnetic-tile edifice with Pokémon figurines inside.  Also, many books.  

There's a delicate balance between work and everything else. I've been pretty good at maintaining it... until school's out. (Usually because it snowed a QUARTER INCH and the roads are A LITTLE WET so everyone must panic. I'm about to write a strongly worded letter to the school board.)  Anyhow, my kids have been enjoying building things (see above).

I had a somewhat-related realization today.  I expect my children to entertain themselves, for age-appropriate values of this.  Sometimes I have to do laundry or grade or whatever, and they can help with the laundry (quite popular!), or I can make cookies with them in ten minutes, but in the meantime they're on their own.  Likewise, if they whack a toe on something, I'm willing to comfort them, but I'm NOT willing to listen to twenty minutes of top-volume screeching.  I expect them to develop self-soothing skills in an age-appropriate way as well.

I've been realizing that I find other parents who don't do this intolerable, and their children too.  Mostly I find it intolerable when I am forced to listen to someone else's child lose their entire mind over a) hearing the word no or b) something that in no way calls for that much screeching and/or parental response.  (I am speaking here of a group of neurotypical children who really, really don't need to scream that much over waiting five minutes for a turn...)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Brief Detour for Despair

So I have a cunning plan, and I'm working through it, and it's fine, mostly.  (Right now I'm still feeling residually quite ill, which has probably upset my equanimity.)  But sometimes, I wonder if it's going to do any good.  Where am I going with all this?  What is it going to lead to?  Will it ever END?

(The whole point of the plan is that most of the probable outcomes are acceptable outcomes to me.  So mainly I think the uncertainty gets me sometimes; and when I read job ads, which, here, are ludicriously and unreasonably specific, I despair.)

All those years ago, I chose to step off the escalator of Your Career Here, Step Right Along.  Regardless of how I feel about the choice now, it's done and past taking back.  The thing about the Career Escalator is it can be a very straight path.  You know where you are, you can see where you're going, and you can see how to get there, more or less.

Well, I feel like I not only stepped off, but then wandered through an abandoned warehouse for a time, found a thrift shop where someone had bought 200 tons of scrap metal and sorted it by type*, paused to buy a large metal bowl, and then found myself blinking in the sunlight in the middle of one of those labyrinthine Brutalist government building**, with no idea where the escalators got to, or indeed, if I was willing to find another.

I'll let you know when I find my way back out.  It's somewhere past the disassembled washers and those five tubas with no valves.

* This is a real thing near me.  Imagine 15 feet of Benares ware, six disassembled tubas, 27 identical lawn ornaments, 100 feet of bicycles....

** I have also been mildly lost in this actual building.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Today I Learned:

... that the reason this year's influenza vaccine is not very effective is this:

"The egg-adapted version of this viral strain lacks the new putative glycosylation site. Here, we biochemically demonstrate that the HA antigenic site B of circulating clade 3C.2a viruses is glycosylated. We show that antibodies elicited in ferrets and humans exposed to the egg-adapted 2016–2017 H3N2 vaccine strain poorly neutralize a glycosylated clade 3C.2a H3N2 virus. Importantly, antibodies elicited in ferrets infected with the current circulating H3N2 viral strain (that possesses the glycosylation site) and humans vaccinated with baculovirus-expressed H3 antigens (that possess the glycosylation site motif) were able to efficiently recognize a glycosylated clade 3C.2a H3N2 virus."

In other words, when they grow the influenza virus in eggs, the H3N2 strain has a different surface antigen profile, and so it's a bad vaccine, and it's always going to be a bad vaccine.  Most early flu activity was influenza A/ H3N2, so thus far, the vaccine has not been especially effective.  (Overall the report is around 30% but that is across all strains; some estimates place it as 10% for H3N2. Yikes!)

(It is still better than nothing!  Our whole family got flu shots in September!  However, it's not very effective. Now what we need is robust government funding for better vaccine development... ha, ha, ha.)