Categories
daily tedium

A Quick Friday Thought on Soft Power

I was talking to someone today about soft power, and an hour of me giving advice and workshopping things came down to:

  1. Build trust by working in the open and asking people for feedback. Praise them for their contributions, often.
  2. Talk to people and ask their preferred work style, and respect it.
  3. You build trust by delivering on what you say you will – repeatedly.
  4. And finally, do everything with kindness.

That’s it. That’s how you build influence and get things done without having hard power.

Categories
family love

Coming Out

Two years ago, I wrote about our kids coming out. Well, it’s National Coming Out Day again and I have stuff to talk about.

That last post was about preparing for your kid coming out to you, but I think it’s worth preparing ourselves for anyone we care about coming out to us – because there are two sides to it. The person coming out, and the person (potentially you) receiving it.

Coming out takes courage. Think about it. The person coming out is sharing their truth with you with the potential that you might not just reject their truth, but may violently reject them as a person. In the worst case, you could react violently and kill them. There’s literally no way for the person coming out to to know how you’ll react. That uncertainty, especially when coming out to a person they have a relationship with (friend, parent, spouse, partner, sibling, etc) has to be overwhelming.

Especially today, I think it’s worth thinking about how we would and should react when someone comes out to us.

How can we honor their truth and the courage it took to share it with us?

Categories
tv

On Squid Game

I’m going to put my thoughts about Squid Game below my list of other things you should check out, but first… if you liked it, here are some shows I think you’ll like!

  • Alice in Borderland (Netflix) – The acting and backstories in Squid Game are better, but I liked the premise and WTF factor of this more.
  • Doom Patrol (HBO Max) – It does for superheroes what Squid Game does for survival horror. It’s superheroes taken to their ridiculous end state, and I love it.
  • Sweet Home (Netflix) – Fits the “what am I watching” vibe, and the backstory mechanics are similar. Also REALLY loved the characters in this show. Lots of monsters and gore.
  • 3% (Netflix) – Same kind of dystopian capitalist end game feel.
  • Midnight Mass (Netflix) – Not at all the same genre but the tension and unease felt very similar.
  • Sky Rojo (Netflix) – Again, not at all the same genre, but the over the top violence and sometimes uncomfortable absurdity is similar.
  • 30 Coins (HBO Max) – It’s just weird. Very weird.Enjoy!

Now, if you haven’t watched the show yet, stop here, because I won’t be able to contain myself and will spoil a lot of things.

This is your final warning…

Ok, this is your final warning.

SERIOUSLY.

On with the spoilers…

I couldn’t stop watching it, and once it was over, I kind of hated myself for sitting through the ending. All the death, all that he went through, all the character development, his chance to finally make things right for his family and his Ronald McDonald ass turns around at the last minute to what, do it all over again?!

The end felt like a cheat to leave the door open for season two, when, now that they have the mechanic of the game, they could start over every season with new down on their luck characters and go to town killing them with ridiculous playground game set pieces.

I try not to invest too much in shows or get disappointed when they don’t go the way I want them to, and I think that’s a little bit of what’s happening here. I wanted a resolution for Gi-hun, for what felt like actual growth as a person throughout the game to pay off and make him better… and it didn’t.

I guess I’ll console myself with Doom Patrol.

Categories
family savannah

Random Pandemic Thoughts

This isn’t really a retrospective, because it ain’t over, but we’re doing a relfection on how we’ve been affected by COVID at work today, so I decided to write some things down before the meeting so my thoughts are in some kind of order. I’m sharing it here because, well, I wrote it down.

  • Now that I’m vaccinated, I’m scared of what’s next. What do I want to do? Who am I now after being in a house-shaped cocoon for thirteen months? I don’t want to do what I did before. Going back feels impossible, not just because it is, but because of how little I want to.
  • Every time I try to think about the magnitude of suffering from the past year, I get completely overwhelmed and shut down. It’s unquantifiable, and makes me furious to the point of blackout that no one will be held accountable for all the avoidable failures at the national, state and local levels.
  • I feel guilty for being grateful for all of the time I got to spend with my family this year.
  • I feel guilty for not having done more to help others, but also feel like keeping my family safe, sane, fed and housed has to be enough… which I understand is a whole bunch of privilege and others had it way worse than I did.
  • I feel like I adapted to being at home all the time a little too well, and I’m going to have terrible social anxiety for a while.
  • I’m still disappointed every time I see people wearing masks incorrectly. I just don’t get it. At all. It’s not hard. Over your mouth AND nose.
  • I really miss a lot of things, and people, and the weird only-in-Savannah moments that used to happen all the time. So many of them that I can’t begin to write them down.
Categories
computing os x

Browsing For Work

I have a lot of personas when I’m at the computer. There’s me, the person, who has social media accounts and personal email and an Amazon account and various streaming services. There’s work me, who has gmail and a million github tabs open. There’s TechSAV me, and several SKTCS versions of me.

All of them have their own GSuite accounts, and various other things for getting things done.

I think I’ve finally got the setup for managing all of them without them running into each other too much! This post is very Mac-centric, but the guidance for Chrome still applies.

The trick is to stop trying to do everything in the same browser. Thankfully, with Chrome, you can create multiple profiles so you can keep your various identities distinct!

In Chrome, as long as you’ve logged into a Google account with it, will have your little user icon in the top of the menu bar. It should look something like this:

A screenshot of my Chrome menu bar showing my bald head… that’s my user icon!

If you click your icon, you’ll get a menu that shows your current Google account and then a list of your other profiles. If you don’t have any, it’s time to create some!!

The Google profile window from Chrome

If you click the + Add button, you’ll be able to set up entirely new profiles that give you a “clean” browser experience so you can keep your various personas separate so you don’t end up trying to join a Google Meet with your school account or wonder why you’re not seeing that email from your boss when you’re in your personal GMail.

That’s great in isolation, but I get links that open browsers from email, text messages, etc… and I need a way to route them to the correct browser so I can handle them with the right persona. That’s where things get Mac-like (I know there’s something similar for Windows but I don’t know what it is because I don’t use Windows)! I installed Choosy a few months ago and it’s made this part of my life so much easier!

Choosy lets you choose which browser to open when you click a link from another application, and the coolest feature is that you can set up rules to open a specific browser based on the URL, which app you clicked on it from, etc. For example, I have a rule that says to open any URL with “outvote” or “impactive” in it in my Impactive Chrome profile, so I don’t have to choose which browser to open every time I click a link to a Github ticket. Another rule is to open any link I click in my feed reader (the wonderful NetNewsWire) in Firefox, which I use for personal stuff (I like that it fences Facebook things by default, and I love an underdog).

With this setup, I can keep my personas separate and make sure things open in the right place.

Categories
current events politics

Write Your Reps

Yesterday, my representative objected to the electors from Georgia based on nothing more than rumors. He continues to support Trump, and well, that’s unacceptable. I wrote him this afternoon. If Buddy Carter is your rep, I think you should let him know how you feel.

Dear Mr. Carter,

Your objection to the electors from Georgia yesterday based on nothing more than rumor and innuendo is an act of sedition. Your continued support for President Trump as he put your life, and everyone else who works at the Capital, at risk yesterday is unacceptable.

You supported an illegal coup. You continue to support a president who has incited violence and lies continually about the results of the election. You help magnify his lies, destroying public trust in our democratic process, our institutions and the Constitution.

Please resign and allow the first district to choose a representative who will uphold their oath of office.

Sincerely,

Kevin Lawver

Categories
current events

Strong Ties, Weak Ties, No Ties

Doug March sent me this Nieman Lab piece by Ben Collins that asks some good questions, but doesn’t have many answers. I keep thinking of our web of social connections that’s been tattering for a while; I think a lot of peoples’ just completely collapsed during COVID.

Without that web of strong and weak ties (strong = family, close friends; weak = coworkers, acquaintances, neighbors), we’re left to our own devices of what’s “real” and acceptable. If we fall into these bubbles (cauldrons?) of conspiracies and nonsense, there’s no one to pull us out. There’s no reference point back to the “real” world, and we just sink deeper.

And that’s the core of it, I think: loneliness. The world is a very lonely place for a lot of people, and the pandemic has turned that into a crisis. People are looking for a place to belong, and unfortunately, the internet has a WHOLE lot of corners to find it in, and most of them aren’t healthy.

There are a lot of bad actors willing to profit from that loneliness and the anger that comes along with it. It’s time to call them out, and start reclaiming our friends and family from these cauldrons.
I just wish some of those experts mentioned in the piece would tell us how to do it… because I have no idea.

Categories
music

My Favorite Songs of 2020

I don’t even have anything pithy to say about 2020. Everyone’s already said it, and everyone knows it, so it doesn’t need to be said.

But, on the bright side, a lot of great music was released this year! Every year, I keep a playlist of songs I like that were released that year. It’s a good way not to forget something that I liked, and I can always go back and cherrypick songs for my annual roadtrip playlist, or rediscover albums I’ve forgotten from past years’ lists.

This year’s playlist is the longest since 2015, clocking it at almost exactly 18 hours. 2015’s was almost 24 hours. Here’s 2020’s playlist in all its glory. Enjoy!

And if you want to see past years’ lists, they’re here:

Categories
politics racism

Clinging to This

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

Rabbi Tarfon

I don’t really have much else to say right now.

Categories
cooking

The Wonder of Pantry Staples

Jen wasn’t feeling well, so I made dinner tonight in between work things. It worked, but it got me thinking about how much easier life is when you have a pantry of staples you can throw together to make something yummy.

Tonight’s recipe was a Mexican-inspired pork stew. Measurements are going to be difficult, but here’s what I rummaged from the kitchen:

  • 2/3 of a frozen pork loin
  • 2 big russet potatoes
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 2 glugs of dark soy sauce
  • 2 large dried ancho chilis
  • 2 cans of Rotel tomatoes and chilis
  • 4 cubes of chicken bouillon
  • 2 big glugs of white whine
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • A bunch of random spices like cumin, dried cilantro, onion powder, etc

Aaaaaaand, here’s what I ended up putting together with all of that:

  • Chopped up the onions and potatoes
  • Soaked the ancho chilis and chicken boullion cubes in 6 cups boiling water for 10 minutes
  • Sauteed the onions in some olive oil until they started to brown
  • Added the garlic
  • Deglazed the Instant Pot with the white wine and let it simmer a bit.
  • Added the potatoes, tomatoes and chilis and the pork.
  • Poured the liquid and chilis over everything in the Instant Pot, put the lid on, sealed it and turned it on to the Soup setting.

Since the pork loin was frozen when I put it in, I quick released it when it was done, then pulled the pork out and cut it up into cubes. I put the pork back in the Instant Pot for 10 minutes to make sure it was cooked, and then served in a bowl topped with some sour cream.

It was delightful.

All of that to say that making dinner tonight I was struck by how easy it was to throw dinner together because I had the pantry staples to make dinner happen. Having things like dark soy, ancho chilis, canned tomatoes, etc made it possible to make dinner without it being an ordeal. It’s so much fun to have all these “toys” to play with!

So, get yourself some dark soy sauce and dried chilis, then play around!