Hoot

And so, I pooped.

For as long as I’ve known myself I’ve been a foot-dragger when it comes to committing to big decisions. It was no different this time. I’d finally found us a great home in a fantastic setting, one that checked all of our boxes, certainly all of HW’s boxes, so the very next day I got on a plane and flew down to meet our agent at the property. By the time I arrived it had been on the market about forty-eight hours. The seller’s agent was there and shared with me that there had been a few showings, but so far no offers. I spent an hour in and outside the house; close to flawless. Yet still, as is my wont, I wanted to sleep on it after discussing it with HW. I credit the wisdom of the Barred Owl in the cedar tree in our (new) backyard for getting me over the hump this time. This all happened back in March. We close tomorrow.

The Covideers

First traditional chromatography experiment I’ve needed to run since first semester O-Chem. Both clearly positive for COVID-19; me left, HW right. Though mine is evidencing a smaller viral load. Which makes sense given I’m six days on and HW only recently started feeling symptoms.

COrona VIrus Disease

Nearly three years ago I blogged that I did not want to catch this disease. Two days ago it finally happened. I feel like I’ve been hit by a wrecking ball. Pretty sure I was infected while traveling recently. HW recommended I try Paxlovid to reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms, but when I learned that hives are a common side effect of that drug, I was out. The insomnia is the worst. Right behind that are the aches and pains and weakness. At least I’m not on a ventilator in the hospital. That much feels like a win.

Irony?

Ah, the idealism of youth. I remember those days. The caption says, “The activists made noise with drums.” Actually, those are makeshift drums, five gallon buckets from Lowes. Which are made of high density polyethylene (HDPE). Which is made from ethylene. Which is (mostly) derived from… Petroleum. Dang it. The snowflakes must hate it when that happens.

Timeout

Traveling for a spell. Blogging may be light. I know I know, so what’s new. Just a lot of balls in the air right now. Be well and stay tuned.

Headscapes

I am in a good headspace today! New meds? Funny, but no. It’s a constellation of causes. First, it has been long known that three square meals a day is indicated for overall good health. A typical daily trio of victuals for me is: B: A nicely seasoned two-egg scramble atop a slice of cheese barely melted on a toasted baguette, with a side of mixed fruit and an Americano. L: Gyro – store-bought lamb & beef pan seared to crispness, topped with red onion, cucumber and tomato, with a generous spread of Tzatziki; paired with a black cherry flavored drink. D: Tonkatsu! Pan-fried, panko-covered pork cutlets pounded thin, topped with a generous drizzle of homemade tonkatsu sauce, served over white rice with a side of fresh cabbage and Japanese-style cucumber and onion

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Questions? Yes, the woman in the back row, you have a question for our blogger? “Yes, I’d like to know, does he prepare each of these meals himself, or does he have help?” Oh goodness no, mam. I don’t ordinarily make my own meals. Each of these were carefully prepared by Happy Wife, who, regular readers of this blog will know, would say she does so out of love for me. She is warmed when I am warmed. Now, we did share the Tonkatsu for dinner the other night; she enjoys her own meals. But notwithstanding certain exceptions (e.g. grilling, the occasional risotto, fried rice) she does the lion’s share of meal preparation, meal planning, and provisioning, too. Although it bears mention that I am the long-running barista in the house. By that I don’t mean to suggest there is an even division of labor in our home in this regard. I am fully aware she has and continues to do the heavy lifting, and humbly grateful for my status as the well-fed beneficiary of this imbalance. 🤗

Another factor shaping my headspace – I re-ordered my priorities. In other words, I ended my professional life. Since returning to Alaska nearly fifteen years ago now – where has the time gone! – I’ve had a number of salaried roles, academic and commercial. I recently resigned the last remaining one. Truth be told I’d been quietly quitting this one for, oh, I don’t know, maybe two or three years now. Bye-bye niggling responsibilities.

By the way, interesting innit, this concept: Quiet Quitting. Have you heard of it? Supposedly, as many as half of working Americans are quiet quitters – so-called employees who do just enough to get by. I’m of two minds about this. If I were an employer, surely I would like it that my employees went above and beyond what I expect from them at work, rather than doing just enough to get by. In the aggregate, such an employer would clearly get more bang for the buck, be more productive, competitive, whatever – on net it would increase the company’s value. But isn’t that a subtle form of employee exploitation? If, qua employee, I do more work or better work than what I am contractually obligated to do (to earn my salary and benefits), then I expect an increase. And I should want that increase retroactive to when it was acknowledged I began going above and beyond. Not a year or more later when the attaboys are doled out at the annual performance review (APR). That’s not the way incentives work! You (employer) pay me more salary (and/or benefits), first, then I’ll start doing more. This is the way it works when you onboard with a company, you negotiate the highest salary you can for the quantity and quality of work your employer expects you will do. Now, fast forward a few years. What’s the incentive for this employee to go above and beyond? To compete with fellow employees for more salary which might be doled out at APR time? Again, that’s not the way incentives (pay) work. Pay increases should not be fluffy rabbits, workers are not greyhounds. Never mind that employers don’t want to encourage competition among employees in the first place. No, they want cooperation, employees working toward the common goal, rah rah rah. Most employees in your typical company are on to this, they are right to be cynical toward these company mission statements. I’m suspicious Quiet Quitting is a derogatory label invented by employers to disparage workers who do no more than what they are paid to do. Thus naive to what the real problem is – the expectation by employers that their employees should do more for the same.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful for forty-five years of opportunity. I’ve learned from and worked with some very talented people. And all over the country. I really am grateful for this sum of experience. In fact, that might be a fitting epitaph to my academic and professional lives, which often have been indivisible. But unless you’re a whiz-bang high-schooler who knows right out of the gate precisely how you want to make your mark in this world, expect a lot of fits and starts early on as you get your goals on step with your passions. Wait, you never possessed passions? Then you may be like me, innately curious about many (sciency) things yet wary of imperfect outcomes in your pursuits. Too skeptical of your accomplishments. Made all the worse if you’re not especially good at setting goals. In this case, others along the arc of your working life inevitably will tell you what outcomes to work toward, set your goals for you, and judge your success meeting them. Pro Tip: In the ideal, those are all things you want to do for yourself. But whether you make your way through life by your own light or largely depend on the guidance of others, either way, eventually you gotta pay the bills. Life is about tradeoffs.

Alas, that part is behind me now. Overall grateful as I said, but at the same it feels as though a mental fog has lifted. Nothing but unfettered headspaces ahead. I hope. 🙏

Lights, Camera …

A friend texted the other night to alert us that the aurora was positively dancing! I stepped outside onto our backyard deck, put my fancy schmancy phone camera in “night” mode, pointed it skyward and behold

That last one is positively psychedelic, innit? These are static pics that don’t convey the mesmerizing experience of watching the sky transform shape and color. It really does feel alive in these moments, the entire planet like a living organism. Make that ChatGPT – Ha!

A special Alaskan experience for sure. I will miss it, but stay forever grateful for it.

Pause

Happy Wife is coming along well from two surgeries on her wrist. So then she’s out of the woods? I believe so. I spied her this morning, at the margin of the old growth forest of recovery, appearing a bit fazed but at the same time stronger for the journey. That which doesn’t kill us… The ordeal has caused us to change our travel plans which were set to begin over a week ago. We’d planned to be away for eight weeks, to a place where water is in the liquid phase year round. No, not Hawaii. (How cliche). But not because we harbor any dislike whatsoever for this

Or this

Or this

My god, would you look at us. Where has the time gone. (Inner voice: What did I tell you about rumination!)

Blah blah blah – take a chill pill, willya. I was merely reflecting, not ruminating. There’s a difference you know.

No, instead of Maui, this year we’d planned – over six months ago now – to stay at a nice VRBO very near the Pacific ocean. Similar plan as last year: Close up the house, wave goodbye to winter, ship our car to Seattle, then fly there (w/Black Dog) and enjoy a lazy, multi-day drive together to our destination. Although not Sedona this time, as much as we enjoyed our stay there last year, including the drive back through the land of Happy Uteruses (Uterui?).

Alas, it was not to be this year. The succor of HW took precedence and made long distance travel impractical. But just you wait, this too will pass, and real soon now we intend to set ourselves to a new adventure.

UFO

“According to multiple news sources, the US military shot down a ‘high-altitude object’ that was flying in territorial waters over Alaska on Friday afternoon. The object was ‘roughly the size of a small car’ and was traveling at an altitude of 40,000 feet. The origin and nature of the object are still unknown, but it did not appear to have the maneuverable capability of the Chinese spy balloon that the US shot down last weekend. The US military has located a significant amount of debris from the object and is investigating further.”

Local update: HW and I, along with Black Dog, visited the debris field. I can report that we saw gruesome parts of expired reindeer, a mangled metal runner that appeared to be from a sled of some kind, and a large red cap with a fuzzy white tassel. The investigation is ongoing.

Pigs

Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and only annoys the pig.

Until this morning I did not know with confidence the author of that quote. My good friend and former colleague had rendered it on a simple piece of paper and affixed it to his office door with clear tape. For years it remained there. Over time, as Managers traipsed the carpeted hallway outside his office, parading from one meeting to the next, it became increasingly difficult for them to unsee this aphorism. Eventually, some of them became suspicious of who or what the target of this supposedly witty saying was intended to be – “Is he saying we are the pigs?” As you might imagine, eventually their suspicion gave way to annoyance. The piece of paper with the saying on it was deemed inappropriate by Management. He was commanded to remove it from his office door. My friend complied alright, he relocated the paper with the saying on it to an interior wall in his office. And with that its timeless relevance was revealed. Q.E.D. as they say.