Creepy And Accurate

So I don’t use Instagram much, but I do have an account.  I just clicked on it out of boredom and began scrolling.  Almost immediately I was presented with ads that were decidedly well aimed.  Very well aimed.  I clicked on 3 ads in a 40 minute scroll through my instagram feed.

I think I’ve intentionally clicked on 3 ads in the previous 3 years before that.  Maybe longer.  I just don’t click.  In fact I mostly don’t see them because I have an addblocker extension in Chrome.  Sometimes I unblock on creator’s website and see their ads.  Google ads are nearly always reminder ads of places where I shopped.  It’s super easy to resist because that decision was already made and I’ve already seen the things.

But Instagram is an app on my phone, so no ad block.  It’s a Facebook company,  and their ad targeting is much more insidious.  They know who I am.  They put things in front of me that I’ve never seen before. Things that intrigued me and made me go look at the product.  A portable microscope camera that you can attach to your phone and look at stuff in microcosmos – like right out in the real world!  A clean key that can be used to press buttons on credit card machines and ATMs and also has a hook that will let you use it to grab some door handles. – a practical and useful thing in this day and age.   A tablet that is geared toward writing rather than typing made an appeal to the old person inside me.

On the one hand, I guess it’s nice to see something new that fascinates me.  On the other hand, it just knew me way too well.  That portable microscope – so niche.  But I was within an ace of spending money on it despite it being an utterly useless thing in my life and me being short of money due to a cut in hours.   I bought the clean key though.  It was expensive but I have to use a keypad to get into my apartment building.  I’m constantly aware of how many surfaces I touch when I’m out in the world.  I think it’s going be necessary to find ways to mitigate this in the next year.  This feels like a good option.

The truth is I’m more pleased to be seen by the computer overlords than upset that algorithms snoop so much.  I’m not even on Facebook.  I only have instagram.  But the people I follow on instagram are apparently a big clue as to who I am.   Sigh.  I’m pretty sure I should be outraged.  That’s what everyone else says.  But, hell.  It wasn’t a bad experience.  It was kind of good.

Music in Headphones

There is something transformative about music when you listen to it in headphones.  I suppose it’s because there is no other noise that can come in.  But it seems to make the music so much richer and deeper.  If you didn’t want to dance to  an upbeat song, put on your headphones – it will slip inside your brain and you will be nearly unable to stop the movement your body wants to make.

I love how headphones just wall off the world.  When I’m experiencing anxiety I feel like I am clawing out of my skin. But I can put on headphones and my brain will recalibrate.  It doesn’t have to be music, but music is best.  A podcast or novel will also work though.  I think a great deal of my anxiety is triggered by sounds.  Happily, it can also be silenced by sounds.

I recall reading an article about how you can see the rhythms of music in someone’s brain MRI (or perhaps it was a different sort of scan) But they could see the brains activity sync up with music.  It’s an actual thing that’s happening in my brain when I retreat into the headphones.

I think when anxiety is crawling around inside me – it’s like my brain is experiencing the static that used to be seen on TVs back in the day of antennas and 4 or 5 local channels.  When you turned the dial to a channel that didn’t exist locally – the screen would be this garbled and skewed grey scale chaos and the noise was a harsh static.

TV_noise

But when I tune into music through the headphones my brain is adjusts itself to that and the static disappears.  And that uneasy crawling of unreasonable aprehension ceases.

beautiful beauty blue bright
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

I am lucky to live in a time of headphones.

Saved by the Gravy

I decided to make a meatloaf.  Not my mother’s meatloaf, which is officially the best meatloaf on the planet, but a made up one, because I can’t remember my mom’s recipe.

It was fine.  It was saved by the gravy, which honestly, what isn’t?

img_20200408_181256

I’m considering how to fry it up for a nice meatloaf sandwich tomorrow.  I sort of recall my friend’s mom used to slice hers up cold and then do a breading on it and fry it.  Which…. hmm.  Maybe?  Anyone have leftover meatloaf ideas?

My mom’s meatloaf was not conducive to that sort of thing.  It was juicy and crumbly and while it generally hung together it wasn’t committed to it.  But this mess I made is probably going to meld itself into hard pieces when cold.  And so I think it should do fine in a bit of a fry up.

Still.  I’m glad I made it.  There is a good sort of satisfaction to making a true and full meal.  I rarely ever do it.  The closest I come is curries or casseroles.  Usually I just have my potato and veg.  Or a burger.  Or a sandwich.  But meat, veg and starch is not common for me.  It always feels like too much bother for just me.

So I guess, despite it being a fairly meh meatloaf, I’m rather pleased with the meal.

In search of Delight

I’ve been doing a variation on gratitude journal.  I’ve been blogging about things that delight me.  I started doing it just before the world began to implode.

It’s an interesting thing because it requires attention.  Delight I find to be a fleeting thing.  A quick moment that makes me smile, or a moment where the brain grenades recede because I found some sensation that overwhelmed them, like the soft fur on my cat or the smell of bread baking.

I think the attentiveness of it is part of it’s therapy.  Of trying to notice those tiny moments of delight that exist but are often as quickly forgotten or not given the importance they deserve.

It’s becoming a bit harder as the numbers of infected increase.  I have a tendency toward hypochondria, so I’m just waiting for the symptoms.  No.  I’m looking for the symptoms.  When I’m home I take my temp 5 or 6 times a day.  I’m not helped by having spring hay fever.

But as I look at how my brain has been dealing with this pandemic, I’m fairly pleased.  I have not fallen into a stillness.  The brain grenades have stayed mostly at a distance.  The worst part is the hypochondria.  And I am wondering if some of it is my attention to delights.  Of course Spring is here and that presents me with lots of moments of delight.  Walking outside to sunny skies and 60 degrees is just a rush of delight.  Seeing flowers growing all over the place when I take my walk is lovely.

I have had times in my life where I went through the whole spring without paying the slightest bit of attention to the white puffs of pear trees and cheerful dandelions and laughing daffodils.  And I think it’s not good for me.  I’m glad I’m noticing the delights of life.

img_20200327_103914

The Ephemeral Delight of a Hot Air Balloon

hot air balloon flying under blue sky during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have you had one arrive suddenly above you?  If you live in an urban environment that can be the feeling.  One day, you are working in your backyard garden and you hear conversation.  Above you.  And there it, floating impossibly above you – it’s colors screaming delight, it’s passengers happy to wave and join your wonder from their, possibly happier, perspective.  And then a sudden muted roar as the flame is ignited to give it some lift and your momentary delight floats away like the happy dream.

How can it still be so wonderful?  Hot air balloons have existed for more than 300 years. Indeed, if you consider the (unmanned) Chinese Sky Lanterns, they’ve been around nearly 2000 years.  They shouldn’t be anymore gawkable than a car or a plane.  And yet they are.  And I think they will be forever.  They have an ineffable quality that makes them continue to inspire awe.

Like all awe inspiring things we create events and images and stories around them.  Most cities of size have some kind of hot air balloon event.  You can buy countless calendars with dedicated to the hot air balloon.  Coffee Table Books, Websites, Pintrest Boards, Balloon Chasers and finally and perhaps most telling – advertisers.

The moment of magic they provide everyone who sees them is one of life’s delights.

 

The smell of bread baking

Is there anything quite so lovely as the waft of yeast bread filling your nose and then your soul?  It seems to have so much unspeakable meaning.  Home and Wellness and Love and Joy and all of it in a swirling of delight.

Sadly, it’s not my bread that is baking right now.  One of my neighbors has taken to baking.  I’m just pleased to have had the gift of the smell.

I’m quite excited now for the flour I ordered from Janie’s Mill to arrive so I can bake some for myself.   I was feeling deeply guilty about buying it.  It costs the moon.  And considering the unstable state of my job, I shouldn’t have done it.  But there isn’t a bag of flour anywhere in the Grocery.  And I am supporting Celi from Kitchens Garden and supporting a small business by doing it.  And I love bread.  And it’s excellent flour that didn’t strip the land of all it’s goodness.  And those are my reasons.  So.

I will try to remember to take some pictures and post them for you all when I get the flour and bake my bread.

EEEEEEK.  My flour arrived just now.  I’m soooo pleased.

img_20200321_165339

I was wrong

I was lamenting yesterday about the economy and how badly it was affecting the business I work for.  I wondered why we stopped the world instead of just focusing our efforts on protecting the vulnerable.

But since I wrote that I’ve learned a couple of things.  One was a video by Dr. Campbell on how the virus works and spreads and how cutting off the spread can kill the virus off permanently.  That is what happened with SARS.  I was still a bit skeptical that a virus that has already circumnavigated the world could be killed off permanently, but I just read Rowena’s post.  She’s particularly vulnerable to this virus.  If she catches it, she has a high risk of mortality and certainly will end up in hospital, assuming beds are even available.  She’s a mother with young children.

Her family is going to great lengths to protect her.  They bought a popup camper for her to live in for the duration so the family won’t infect her.  It just suddenly made it all clear to me how hard it is to truly isolate and protect the vulnerable.  The only way to do it is for everyone to participate.

Unless you are a single person living alone like myself, true isolation is impossible. And even now in all this mess, if I were forced to truly self isolate, I would likely still need to leave the apartment to take out the trash or receive a delivery of groceries, which would expose me to surfaces other people in the building have touched. And all of that is complicated and compounded when you live with others, particularly as a parent.

that is why we are all sacrificing. It’s a mess. But we must get through and we must all take it seriously or it will all be for naught. We will lose the vulnerable and have killed the economy, if we don’t do it right.

Broccoli, What a Delight

I’m not being sardonic, ironic or sarcastic.  I truly love Broccoli, although I keep misspelling it, so my delight does not extend to all it’s aspects apparently.  Thank you, Spell Check for your minatory corrections.  I’m frankly also glad for spell check, although I mostly express my annoyance with it.  Having grown up  and lived my young adulthood in a time before it’s existence, I know the suffering, the embarrassment of being a poor speller.

But back to the Broccoli.  I love it.  Raw or cooked.  Frozen or Fresh.  I don’t think I’ve ever had it canned.  I’m mostly not a fan of canned veg so probably wouldn’t love it.  But maybe?

I use broccoli slaw on my sandwiches instead of lettuce.  It provides crunch and a marvelous taste.  And so many more nutrients than lettuce.

I often take mashed potatoes and broccoli to work as my lunch.  It’s marvelous in a soup.  It’s a lovely additive to nearly any casserole.  Particularly those Mid American casseroles that generally feature Campbell soup of some variety.

Of course I love a lot of foods.  But what makes broccoli special is that it’s GOOD FOR ME. This is what makes it delightful.  To love something that is actually good for you is so rare that it’s nearly like finding the Hope Diamond, fully cut, in your backyard.

I felt it had to be celebrated.  Broccoli.  It’s Good.

Image result for broccoli

 

 

It’s startling how fast an economy can go into the toilet

People are talking about a recession, but honestly, it feels more like it might be headed straight for a depression.

Two weeks ago the transportation company I work for was thriving.  On Monday they laid off  half the workforce and pulled more than half of their vehicles off the lot and the insurance.

Small businesses will not survive this.  Or only a few will.  Most transportation companies are facing full on collapse in 30 or so days.  They carry a debt load on their fleet, not to mention the insurance and payroll.  Our company is in a better position than most because we don’t carry any debt but it’s just going make us last a bit longer.  Because without any income you cannot run a business.

Today I wondered what I would do differently if I were in charge of running this disaster.  And I think I would have focused entirely on high risk people.  Just make older people and people with pre-existing conditions self isolate.  Set up ways and means to support that isolation with food delivery and medical care and whatever support was needed.   But stopping the entire world when it seems like 97% of the sick are not going to feel any worse than having a cold, seems like we went at it wrong.

Of course, I’m not a public health expert.  I have no real knowledge on the spread of sickness and it’s consequences.   It’s probably a pipe dream to think it could have run it’s course mostly avoiding the at risk and giving the rest of us a cold to complain about.  But, if any countries are doing that, I would be interested to know if their outcomes are better/ worse on mortality and economy.

Image result for depression era

 

 

Hello Spring!

It’s here!  Its really here.  Don’t even try to point out weather forecasts.  I saw THIS in my front yard.

That’s right, skeptics.  That’s a tiny purple clover and a tiny yellow – something I don’t know but it was definitely a flower.  The landlord here has committed ONLY to mowing the lawn and so it’s a happy conglomeration of weeds.  Clover, dandelions, tiny white flowers and a morning glory infestation.  And all of that just cheers me up so much.  I cannot wait for all of it to burst forth.  I really have no idea why we have idealized a monoculture lawn of grass.  Because this lawn is gorgeous.  And requires so little effort.

Those little flowers combined with a beautiful sunny morning in the mid 50s gave me a feeling of delight, gratitude and hope.  It’s been a rather yuck winter.  Not because the weather was particularly bad.  It was a very mild winter here.  But my mood was bleak.  And those tiny burst of color just drained all the bleak out of my mood and filled me with light.

Even The Great Toilet Paper Panic of 2020 couldn’t kill it, despite things being quite scary at work.  Our business went into the shitter in a huge way.  We do transportation for people and all the corporations cut travel out.  All the schools cancelled.  All the big events we service cancelled.  It’s weird to watch a thriving business suddenly teeter in on itself.  Hopefully we can weather the storm.

Image result for toilet paper panic