May 10, 2019

If I’ve had a minute alone with you and/or control of the TV remote in the past week or two, I’ve probably subjected you to the Gourmet Makes series and/or its producer, Bon Appetit. This charming Youtube series has a chef work out how to create gourmet versions of snack foods (Twinkies, Oreos, Cheez-Itz) in a test kitchen. She experiments, at first does not succeed but tries and tries again, and I find them so relaxing and satisfying to watch. Bon Appetit’s Youtube channel in general has a lot of cool content, but these are my favorites. The older I get the less I want to watch hot people make each other sad and the more I want to watch nice people make each other food. Anyway, on to the reads:

  1. The Best Swimsuits: Hits and misses, Wardrobe Oxygen. CW: specific body size measurements. So this blog post is actually a helpful review of different bathing suits the author tried (“This suit was a workout to get on.” that’s a mood). I really liked her thoughts, particularly in this part [emphasis mine]: “I have been lifting weights for a little over a year but am still very soft and round.  With age, breastfeeding, and fluctuating weight I have lost a lot of buoyancy of my breasts; I also have extra skin at my stomach. I have always carried my weight in my tummy and rear. I think this body is pretty great – it’s strong, it’s healthy, and thanks to a new fitness routine it looks better now than it did five years ago. However, as a 44-year-old mom with a defined personal style aesthetic I am not one to hang out at the beach in a string bikini.  That being said, I like showing a bit of skin, I think it balances my frame nicely and I find that suits with wider straps, lower legholes, and skirts make me look larger and shorter. Swimsuits are a very personal decision; I respect whatever suit you put on or if you choose not to wear them at all.  I believe all bodies are swimsuit bodies, all ages, all abilities, all sizes, all shapes. I’ve learned that no one is analyzing me at the pool or the beach, I am not that important so I am going to wear a suit that makes me feel confident, comfortable, strong, and a little bit sexy.” Love it! Some pretty cute suits here too.
  2. What It Takes to Put Your Phone Away, New Yorker. This author reviews two books in this piece, Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism, and Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing, both of which are very my cup of tea. Odell “believes that, by constantly disclosing our needs and desires to tech companies that sift through our selfhood in search of profit opportunities, we are neglecting, even losing, our mysterious, murky depths—the parts of us that don’t serve an ulterior purpose but exist merely to exist. The “best, most alive parts” of ourselves are being “paved over by a ruthless logic of use.” The author of this piece does mention that so many people, even though they earn their livelihood offline, still feel an online presence is necessary to their career, and that many people can’t afford to step away. I thought that was a helpful perspective, myself a person who would like to chuck her phone out the window. This was also a really interesting thought: “It occurred to me that two of the most straightforwardly beloved digital technologies—podcasts and group texts—push against the attention economy’s worst characteristics. Podcasts often demand sustained listening, across hours and weeks, to a few human voices. Group texts are effectively the last noncommercialized social spaces on many millennials’ phones.” I listen to podcasts; someone add me to your group text!
  3. Run Meetings That Are Fair to Introverts, Women, and Remote Workers, Harvard Business Review. This is really interesting! I’m pretty happy with how my new job handles meetings — they’re pretty no-nonsense, stick to the agenda, and save discussion for the end. Usually come in under 30 minutes, which is a miracle in my experience. But I did like this article’s recommendations for introverts: “Before: Share the purpose of the meeting, provide any relevant data ahead of time, and list the specific discussion questions you plan to cover. During: Proactively give introverted thinkers the floor with questions like, “Janet, from the discussion so far, what really stands out for you?” or “Akshay, what do you think we should be considering that we haven’t yet covered?” After: Circulate a meeting summary and proactively solicit ideas that might’ve come to mind after the meeting. You can close your email with something like, “Anyone have a new insight about this situation since we met? If so, I’d love to hear it.” Also the “no talking over each other” rule is divine.
  4. Green Voices: Our river, our stewardship, Frederick News-Post. The devastating urgency of the climate crisis has me feeling helpless, and I’ve been looking for immediate issues I can invest in or participate in locally. I might be a little late to the party on preserving the Monocacy River, but I’m really interested in it! It seems like an issue most people can get behind. This 2016 article lays out updates to the plan to protect the Monocacy, especially the creation of forest buffers on the river banks. Forest buffers have a lot of benefits: “The vegetated buffer slows down runoff and allows more of it to settle into the ground to be cleaned and more to reach groundwater. This slowing process also reduces storm water flooding and damages during flooding events…The buffer area also provides vital habitat for wildlife and birds. It also protects the scenic landscape of the Monocacy River — a defining element in Frederick that needs sound management, wise stewardship, and protection.” Think about the flooding from last summer! The Frederick non-profit organization Stream-Link plants trees along streams and also offers opportunities to volunteer. Even better, this is an issue that I can connect to emotionally, since Persey and I have a great love for the waterways of Frederick. I want to sign up for Stream-Link’s next tree planting day!
  5. How to love your job and avoid burnout, Quartz. A historical look at the evolution of work as a virtue and the process of making meaning. “When it comes to work, we’re usually not searching for a job that makes us wildly happy all day, every day; we know that’s not realistic. What we’re seeking is work that makes sense in the context of who we believe we are. And because we have to give things up in order to do it—leisure time, rest, seeing our families—the trade-off has to feel worth it.” Essentially the point is that we need to make meaning in our work. So the difference between a bearable and an unbearable job is “whether we experience ourselves as performing a willing sacrifice, or simply as suffering.” Out of all 5 things I’m sharing with you today, I think this one has the most juice and I recommend you read it.

Bonus features:

  • Video: Three professional Japanese footballers play against 100 children.
  • Audio: Child yells ‘wow’ at end of moving Mozart concert in Symphony Hall (and the orchestra wants to find the kid: “It was one of the most wonderful moments I’ve experienced in the concert hall,” Snead wrote. “If you happen to be the parent of this child and are willing to let me know, please email me at presidentceo @handelandhaydn. org.”)

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