Published

Lemon Olive Oil Cake (link)

Lemon Olive Oil Cake from Food Network

This cake is fabulous. It didn’t get quite as dark as the picture, maybe need to turn the heat up a little? At any rate, it was so tasty, and useful because I was out of butter. Didn’t make the candied lemon slices because… it seemed like a faff. Totally great without it anyways. Might be worth sprinkling poppyseeds over top next time.

Would also like to make the lemony Bosworth jumbles from this Guardian page soon.

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Failures, low moments

Came across this tweet from Marleigh Culver yesterday.

Wish people talked about project failures more often.

And it really struck a nerve. It’s why I’m mostly off Instagram. Though I love popping on every once in a while to see what good friends are up to, it’s too rosy in general. Twitter’s kind of the same, but with the added complication of often-unnecessary dunking when someone on purpose or accidentally shares a vulnerable moment.

We need more talk about low moments online in general, ideally, but it’s extremely hard. If it’s work related, it feels like overstepping a boundary (imaginary, or real like an NDA). Even when it isn’t work related, it can feel… messy? Messy’s not quite the right word, but something along those lines. Feelings and the way we perceive them can be so fleeting and of the moment, whereas sharing something online is just so permanent.

I’d like to get better about sharing the low moments. Someone who is excellent at sharing the good with the bad is Alice Bartlett, her Weaknotes are so worthwhile.

I’ve created the tag low moments to start collecting these posts in one place.

It was hard to know what to call the tag… “Failures” felt too harsh. I *absolutely* feel like a failure at times but want to avoid imposing that label on myself if I can avoid it. Who am I to say if something I’ve done constitutes a real failure? Maybe I can make that judgement in 10, 20 years down the line, but not in the moment. So “low moments” it is, for now.

Will try to start sharing more of these moments. And I’m fully expecting more with a baby coming soon! Gonna be a ride.

Published

“I hope I’m pleasing David”

GP It felt like… he was trying… for me to be myself. Whatever that is. But I know that’s one of the hard… I mean, I always get very anxious when somebody says “be yourself”. Because that assumes that we know who we are. We’re just a collection of how other people see us a lot of the time, I think.

DB I didn’t tell you to be yourself.

GP No you didn’t. I just felt like that’s what you wanted.

DB Mm.

GP But in the end I’m just this sort of nervous construct of who I hoped I am. And that I hope I’m pleasing David.

Laughter

DB I’m very pleased!

Grayson Perry talking to photographer David Bailey about his experience being photographed. From Grayson’s Art Club, series 2 episode 1, around 15:30.

Grayson’s Art Club has been such a lovely watch recently, so wholesome, funny, and touching. Philippa Perry’s presence throughout is a huge plus.

Available on Channel 4 in the UK and possibly BBC Select in the US. Not sure how BBC Select has it though since it’s a Channel 4 show. There are a lot of clips on YouTube as well.

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“we will be making marmalade”

Read Letting go: my battle to help my parents die a good death by Kate Clanchy in The Guardian, published 6 April.

They don’t know if she will ever come off [the ventilator], but if she does, they say, she will live a very limited life in a nursing home. “We must hope she dies,” says my dad when I put down the phone. My parents are devout atheists: they believe there is no God and therefore we must live well. So do I. We pray.

This is probably one of the more moving things I’ve read in the past year. I came across it via Kate’s Twitter profile where she often shares poetry by her students.

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To read: “Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment” by Matrix

Another one for the list.

***

Read Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment by The Matrix Feminist Design Cooperative, published by Pluto Press in 1984.

Came across it via this article in the Guardian, wish I could see the exhibition currently on at the Barbican.

It’s long out of print so pretty pricey secondhand… but the ever-useful Monoskop has a copy online and supposedly Verso is reprinting it this year. Definitely one for the wish list.

Related to this, check out the Matrix Open feminist architecture archive online which includes a few texts and other resources.

Random coincidence: Apparently Pluto Press was located on Torriano Ave. in the mid-80s, the same short street in Kentish Town where I lived when I first moved to London. Looks like the Torriano is now the Rose & Crown, but it sounds like it was a relatively gentle change, as far as pub refurbishments go. Pluto Press is now up in Archway, just up the road from the old Byam Shaw School of Art building. Wonder what CSM is doing with that space now…

Published

“I firmly believe in stressing the *fun* in *fun*gi”

Cover of the book “All That the Rain Promises and More...”

I picked up All That the Rain Promises and More… A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora at Alley Cat Bookstore and Gallery a few weeks ago. It felt a little silly considering we live in maybe the most concrete neighborhood we’ve ever lived in, and since foraging isn’t allowed in most of California, but how could I not get it. Look at the absolute maniac on the cover, the title.

The rest of the book lives up to the cover. The format is great, truly pocketable. Before you even get to the title page, it starts with a super straightforward flow chart of how to identify a mushroom with gills. The back endpapers are the same, but for mushrooms without gills. The bulk of the content is densely packed information about mushrooms, of course. But peppered throughout are anecdotes, recipes, personal stories and more from the author and many other smiling fungi fans.

Honestly, it’s been nice even just as bedtime reading, as strange as that may sound. 10/10

Now I just need to get myself out to Point Reyes or Salt Point State Park. For more on ethical / legal mushroom foraging in California, I found this article useful.

Get the book used or new on Biblio

Spread from the book “All That the Rain Promises and More...”

Spread from the book “All That the Rain Promises and More...”

Spread from the book “All That the Rain Promises and More...”

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Music notation software

Just came across StaffPad via SB, music notation software for tablets. Looks very cool.

I used Sibelius pretty heavily in college, dabbled with Finale a bit as well. Looks like Sibelius is now a subscription app à la Adobe CS 😕 so I probably wouldn’t reach for it now. There is a free tier, but it’s pretty limiting. Finale’s not a subscription app, but it’s an eye-watering $600 for the most recent version. I’m all for paying for software when it’s worth it, but that seems steep.

StaffPad is $89.99 in the Mac App store as of right now, which seems very reasonable considering the features it offers. The handwriting recognition in particular looks pretty nifty, though I wonder how accurate it would be in practice…

My music notation needs are generally very intermittent (nonexistent at the moment…), so I’ll probably stick to LilyPond for now. It’s free, open source software that’s a lot like LaTeX but for music, does the job and can achieve some pretty complex notation. I do wish it was easier to control the text and notation fonts, but you can’t have everything. A huge upside of using LilyPond is keeping scores in version control via Git, which I think I’d miss if I moved to something with a more traditional UI.

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Identity wrangling

A hand cupping some water from a stream

Cupping the water in Spicey Gill coming down from Ilkley Moor. Photo taken a year ago today.

“You are not your emotions.” Well you are, but you are not only your emotions. And you can choose not to be controlled by your emotions.

Life is made up of micro and macro decisions, and their consequences.

I chose to move back to the US, and now I am grappling with the reality of that decision, amongst other things. It has made life easier in some respects, and harder in others. Do I regret it? No. Will we be here forever? Magic eight ball says 🎱 “Concentrate and ask again”.

Read more

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To read: “On Immunity” by Eula Biss and “Pond” by Claire-Louise Bennett

Book recs for the list.

***

From an old friend: On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss

Recommended to me due to relevance with the pandemic, and since the book came about as Biss was navigating the birth of her first child.

Biblio (secondhand) | Graywolf Press (publisher, US) | Fitzcarraldo Editions (publisher, UK)

***

From a new friend: Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett

Recommended to me in relation to mundane creative acts, the quiet and everyday, solitude and maybe domesticity, but not in the 50s please-your-husband-and-the-neighbors sense.

Biblio (secondhand) | The Stinging Fly (publisher, IE) | Riverhead books, imprint of Penguin Random House (publisher, US)

Published

Encounter with vaccine hesitancy

Had my first IRL encounter with vaccine hesitancy in SF yesterday.

I was grabbing an Uber back from a blood test and got chatting with the driver about all sorts of stuff. He was a perfectly lovely guy, probably around the same age as me. He asked if I’d had the vaccine and I said yes, that I’d had the second about two weeks ago. I asked if he had had it, thinking that maybe he asked me because he’d just had his. He said he wasn’t planning to get it, alluded to being skeptical about what was in them and whether they were safe.

He said something like 40% of the US military wasn’t getting the vaccine. I didn’t really really know what to say to that. I knew it wasn’t quite right, but was too tired to question it.

(Back in February it was reported that about one-third of military personnel supposedly were planning not to get the vaccine, but that was based on an extrapolation from survey data from the rest of the US population at the time, not on any major survey of the military itself [more on this]. We don’t actually know how many members of the military are getting the vaccine since it isn’t being tracked, it could be way higher or way lower. And the broader numbers across the US have changed since then, though there is still a good chunk of the population that is hesitant.)

Anyways, the conversation moved on. We got talking about how dire it was early on in San Francisco, tough for him to drive then. About how nice it is to see things gradually opening up, how it was nice to be seeing so many more people out and about even though it meant bad traffic, about how it will be great when we can stop wearing masks outside at least. He mentioned that he was planning to keep wearing his mask inside and while driving for a long, long time. So he was vaccine hesitant, but in no way an anti-masker or anything.

I mentioned how impressed I was by the vaccine efforts going on at the Moscone Center, about how I’d never seen anything like it, so many kind and qualified people coming together to help so many hundreds of other people every day. Figured it was the best I could do short of actively trying to convince him to get the vaccine itself.

When we parted ways, he said he was feeling positive about the whole situation, with so many people getting vaccinated. Said to stay safe, then I was out the door.

I need to figure out how to respond more proactively in that sort of situation. I think that his rational was probably “there are plenty of other people getting it, so I should be safe without it”. But we can’t realistically get high enough immunity within the population that way, and it isn’t a very community-minded approach. How do you get that across without being accusatory or making someone defensive?

I’m glad he’s feeling positive, but unfortunately I left the car feeling a bit lower than when I’d gotten in. We have such a massive mountain to climb in terms of the quality, efficacy, and breadth of our public health communication.