April 12, 2019

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Photo by Markus Spiske

I’ve been having the weirdest, most vivid dreams lately. It might be a side effect of new meds, plus or minus the rising temperature in our house at night, plus or minus watching political thrillers before bed (!!), but no matter the source, it makes me a charming person to have breakfast with. I will tell you that you tried to convince me to move to Pennsylvania, or that that there’s a new trend on Instagram of people Photoshopping their heads off. I will dream that my husband is exactly the same in every way except his name is Mason now. At this point, a night with absolutely no dreams sounds like the most restful thing imaginable!

  1. The Case for Very Long Recipes, Taste. I think this is a strong case for something many people (including myself) complain about online — recipes with a ton of text and photos of the process alongside. “Instead of the just-the-facts quality of an Ikea instruction manual, it can reveal the author’s preferences and biases, express humor or affection or emotional dyspepsia. In other words, it lets the reader get to know the person they’re entrusting with their dinner. Which is nice, because while cooking can be a chore, it is always a more intimate task than assembling a side table.” However, I think this argument is more convincing when I’m reading a print cookbook than scrolling furiously through a recipe on someone’s blog (trying to get past increasingly long personal memoirs and irritating ads). As this other piece from Slate says, “But there’s really no need to open every online recipe with the initial drafts of a personal essay. In fact, the more people do this, the more formulaic it feels, eventually becoming perfunctory rather than inspired, which kind of belies any attempt at being more personal in the first place.” I think the distinction is that we want details when it comes to technique and process, but maybe not as much of the personal context of the chef/food blogger.
  2. Everyone Loves Beans Now, The Cut. I wanted to share this piece in part because David and I have been eating a lot of beans (including the famous FIF-TEEN-BEAN soup), but also because there are so many funny and choice quotes in this article. “Everything about a bean is fashionable.” And: “I’ve replaced my urge to buy new stuff with the urge to cook beans. It works. I always have lots of beans soaking in water waiting to be cooked into something delicious. Always thinking about my beans.” (Watch out for a weird photo of someone rubbing beans on her face (??) at the end of the article though.)
  3. Intuitive Exercise: Learning to Love Exercise Not on a Diet, Glenys Oyston. I’ve been on the lookout for ways to move my body more without it becoming a punishing routine or something that makes me feel guilty when I (inevitably) abandon it. I liked this blogger’s perspective and her two rules for starting up a physical activity: it has to make her feel good and she has to enjoy it. I liked her final quote: “We could call it Intuitive Exercising. It reminds me how we move as children. No kid ever played hide and seek and then wondered after how many calories she burned. Let’s take a lesson from the kids we were and stop Exercising with a capital E and start moving for fun.”
  4. The Urgent Quest for Slower, Better News, The New Yorker. Something that I read in Notes on a Nervous Planet was the idea that we used to get our news twice a day — in the morning paper and the evening broadcast (and as the anecdote went, “And we still got Nixon.”) I’m attracted to the idea of slower paced and more detailed, methodical news. Because we’re exposed to so much information, we think we know more about a topic or a position than we really do. “As it turns out, there is a way to puncture this illusion of knowledge. It involves forcing people to explain in detail what would happen if their views on a specific public-policy issue were put into practice. It’s when we try to provide a “causal explanation,” Sloman and Ferbach write, that we realize how ignorant we are. That realization, in turn, leads us to become less extreme in our views. This insight has an obvious implication for media: depth matters. Journalism that engages with complexity, examines the implications of proposed policies, and offers the public rigorous analysis can lead to a more informed—and less polarized—citizenry.”
  5. A Brief History of the Ball Pit, Vox. This article introduced me to a new architectural design hero — Eric McMillan! “Due to his use of rubber, foam, vinyl, and plastic in playground designs, McMillan is often referred to as the “father of soft play.” As he told UPI in a 1975 interview, almost everything he built followed four priorities: economy, ease of maintenance, safety, and the child’s pleasure, in that order.” There are some great pictures of 1970s/80s playground equipment in this piece as well, but the “father of soft play…love that.

Bonus features:

  • Garden shed DJ with audience of one to get BBC radio special, The Guardian. “As a 29-year-old, Duncan began running his radio station from a garden shed in Hertfordshire in the 1970s. His set-up began broadcasting as Radio 77 and featured its own jingles…The only problem was that licensing restrictions meant the surprisingly professional output could reach an audience of only one: Duncan’s wife, Teresa, who listened via a speaker in their house.” Adorable.

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