November 8, 2019

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Despite my best intentions I have barely managed to read more than a recipe this week. It’s the peak of the semester, so it’s been a flood of class visits and citation checks and hopping from one student’s computer to the next. Truly, it’s taken me two hours to write this paragraph. So I thought I’d fall back on a post I’d been thinking about for a while. Here are 5 websites that I use a lot and recommend; they do their jobs and do ‘em well!

  1. TimeandDate.com. I started using this website when Davey and I were long distance — I used to use it to calculate how long it had been since I’d seen him, or how long til the next visit (*awwww*). But I also use it to calculate vacation time occasionally, because time math continues to elude me. There are all kinds of calculators and countdowns on this website, but the one I use the most is the Date Duration Calculator.
  2. DoesTheDogDie.com. They describe their site as “crowdsourced emotional spoilers for movies, tv, books, and more.” It’s a simple search box where you can look up a movie to see what upsetting material might appear in it. Obviously the original yes/no question is in the title of the website, but over the years they’ve incorporated other triggering events and topics, such as abuse and common phobias like needles or clowns. If you’re picky about spoilers, this might bother you. But for me, personal comfort > spoilers any day. I don’t like to be blindsided by something that upsets me (I call these my “bugaboos,” like from Stepbrothers), and so I very much appreciate this website. It helps me to go into a piece of media with informed consent, or to opt out of it if I want to. Extremely grateful this tool exists.
  3. Poetry Foundation. This is the website of the publisher of Poetry magazine, and I like their site for its browsing functions. You can browse by topic, form, region, and it’s very student friendly. I like coming here for their collections too; this month they have a Thanksgiving-themed collection (“Cranberry Cantos”), and Veteran’s Day poems, for example. There’s a poem out there for every moment and every one.
  4. Unsplash. I use this website to find free, high quality images I can use without permission or attribution (although I do try to attribute whenever possible). It’s a great source for photographs for this blog as well as the graphic designish stuff I do in librarianship. It’s one of those “a community on the internet being generous with their art” things, and I think it’s rad.
  5. J! Archive. This is a fan-run archive of Jeopardy! game answers, organized by season. Yeah, you could consult this for exactly who got what question and who what which game, but I prefer to use it to quiz myself on how many questions I could get from the comfort of my desk chair, with no buzzer or pressure. I am very good at Jeopardy! under these circumstances.

November 1, 2019

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I’ve been thinking about community a lot lately. It’s hard out there for a lot of reasons, and a lot of us want to curl up under a blanket and numb out to the Office for the 100th time. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; there’s a special place in my heart for the feeling of collapsing on the couch for the night. But I’ve been trying to see folks during the week more, and it’s made me feel more connected to a world beyond work, walk the dog, dither about dinner plans, sleep. I’ve come to the conclusion that I love my friends a lot!

  1. The best $1.75 I ever spent: Hand sanitizer that allows me to exist in public, Vox. “The sense I rely on most is touch. I grip handrails and metal bars. I hold on to moving escalators and push elevator buttons. I glide my fingers along walls and push off from the sides of cars. In rare cases, I clutch tree branches stretched over curbs. When a loved one or a kind stranger isn’t beside me to intertwine my arm in theirs, touch is how I get around.” This is a lovely piece about disability and public space.
  2. Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless, Laurie Penny. This is a critique of both our definition of self-care and the corporatization of self-care rituals and wellness. I don’t know if I buy everything that she’s saying here, but the overall message that we need to demonstrate better love to ourselves, not by consuming products, but by mutual aid and community. There’s a lot I want to quote here but I’ll just share two passages: “The lonely work of taking basic care of yourself as you wait for the world to change is a poor substitute. When you’re washed up and burned out from putting your body on the line to fight the state, it’s especially galling to be told to share a smile and eat more whole grains.” Dang! And her thoughts on love for others and the self are really interesting to me (although I think they might be incomplete): “The problem with self-love as we currently understand it is in our view of love itself, defined, too simply and too often, as an extraordinary feeling that we respond to with hearts and flowers and fantasy, ritual consumption and affectless passion. Modernity would have us mooning after ourselves like heartsick, slightly creepy teenagers, taking selfies and telling ourselves how special and perfect we are. This is not real self-love, no more than a catcaller loves the woman whose backside he’s loudly admiring in the street. The harder, duller work of self-care is about the everyday, impossible effort of getting up and getting through your life in a world that would prefer you cowed and compliant. A world whose abusive logic wants you to see no structural problems, but only problems with yourself, or with those more marginalized and vulnerable than you are. Real love, the kind that soothes and lasts, is not a feeling, but a verb, an action. It’s about what you do for another person over the course of days and weeks and years, the work put in to care and cathexis.”
  3. Fat People Deserve to Glorify Our Bodies, Wear Your Voice. This essay is gorgeous. In particular the final paragraphs are an almost meditative invitation to care for your body, in its soft shapes and needs. “A fat body deserves good things, all the things the world told you it never did. Yes, even promotion and glory. Magnify it. Exalt it. Uplift it. Extol it a tribute. Dedicate it a song. Compose it a sonnet. Honor it. Adore it. Thank it. Thank it for keeping you, for how it’s given you breath and held your organs close and carried your blood through its veins. For how it’s digested your food and received your refreshments. […] Even if you don’t love it, now or ever, affirm it and the spirit of the one who lives in it. Remember that loving this body of yours is not a prerequisite for attending to its needs. Care for it. Water it. Nourish it. Satisfy it. Reward it. Give it sunshine. Let it grow. Feed it when you are hungry and partake without guilt. Eating is not shameful. Do not add to the starvation. Do not add to the starvation. Fill your belly. You are allowed to satiate every bit of your hunger, no matter how much space your body occupies. You deserve sustenance, as all living things do, and you deserve to live.”
  4. After Uproar About Accessibility, Hunters Point Library Will Relocate Fiction Section, Gothamist. I’ve been following this ridiculous story, and while it’s good news that they’ve moved the fiction section somewhere actually accessible, this whole thing is classic architects vs. the people who actually have to live with the building. In this case, librarians, but also people with disabilities or mobility issues. (They’d tried to say that the design passed ADA laws because someone — library staff — could go get any book that was inaccessible to a patron. Both insensitive and a huge waste of everyone’s time.) The inaccessibility of this design can be seen from a mile away, I truly can’t understand who let this idea happen. This joke Twitter from the building’s perspective has TEETH and I love it. “Fiction is great. Our section is not accessible to the stair-challenged public, but our librarians will totally grab a book for you. You just gotta know what you want in advance. Browsing for books is not an option for the disabled at this state of the art, brand new, library.”
  5. “The Thing in Us We Fear Just Wants Our Love,” Julian K. Jarboe. Happy Halloween everyone, please enjoy this werewolf poem!

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