Week ending 4/3/2022

Chrome Tabs : 69 → 68

Gmail Inbox : 36 → 62 Unread, 43 → 67 Total :weary: * Stats change from 3/6/2022

:speech_balloon: Over the past year as I’ve delved deeper into community development, Rosie Sherry has proven to be one of the best resources I’ve found, across all her various outlets. So I was excited to see her start up a Discourse forum recently. Not only am I a fan of Discourse itself, but I’ve long-preferred forum-like interaction, and have had to adapt to the general popularity of chat in more recent years. I still often feel most comfortable in more long-form, asynchronous spaces. So naturally I jumped right-in. :grin:

:disappointed_relieved: This past week or so was a real rollercoaster with a hummingbird that had decided to nest (admittedly a bit precariously) in my back yard. Last year a hummingbird successfully hatched and raised a pair of chicks in our avocado, so I was excited to see this new nest, and in a location I could access much more easily for photos and perhaps even video. Things seemed to be going well, the mama bird laid eggs and was sitting on them for a couple of days. I was waiting for my opportunity to take a quick photo of the eggs when she went off to feed, so when I saw her away from the nest one morning, I thought it the moment. But when I looked closer I saw that the nest was partly torn down and the eggs were gone. Examining the ground below the nest I eventually found the empty, partial egg shells, and it was clear something had eaten them (and maybe her!?). :frowning: I really didn’t expect this since it had worked out fine the previous year, and I think in part because of that shock it actually cast kind of a dark cloud over the rest of that day, not in an acute way, but it was definitely noticeable.

Anyway, I got a nice photo of the mother before all this, as well as some of the aftermath. If you don’t especially want to see the destruction, stick with the first image below (the others aren’t gory or anything, just sad).

:pensive: I had an interesting and briefly challenging interaction with a neighbor on my regular walking route in the area. I’ve gotten in the habit of closely examining and now often harvesting the fennel I find here and there (for raising caterpillars). But some in the neighborhood consider it an unwanted weed, so I’ve seen it cut down to the ground regularly. This has just made me feel all the more bold and entitled to harvest it to my heart’s content. So I was in the middle of trimming some fronds off a healthy plant growing on the edge of the sidewalk (which I’d harvested from several times already this season) when a woman came out of the house and asked me what I was doing to “her” bush. Sad to say my immediate reaction was defensive and somewhat self-righteous. The fennel was growing essentially out of the intersection between their wooden fence and the sidewalk, on the public (street-ward) side. So technically I thought I was in the right. But that’s not really what matters. Whether or not her upset was justified in my eyes, she was upset, and it was never going to help things for me to start off defensive.

It’s ironic, too, because I’ve been listening lately to an audio book precisely about how to listen and communicate better with people. I have mostly thought of it in the context of closer relationships (romantic and otherwise), but in fact I think what this woman needed most in that moment was simply to be heard, at least for a start. I think my defensiveness also kept me from sharing more about my own purpose and reasons for harvesting there, and I think if I’d shared that sooner, without being defensive, I might have avoided most of the upset in the first place.

Fortunately this encounter ended well. I told her I’d seen the plant entirely cut down the previous season and assumed no one cared about it, and she shared that she was concerned about it because she wanted to help the butterflies. Once she understood that we both had a similar goal and interest, she calmed down, and I calmed down. She introduced herself, and I the same, and a rapport was quickly established. I soon after agreed not to harvest there anymore. I honestly didn’t think anyone cared about it, and once I knew, it made perfect sense to let them steward it, but it took me a moment to come around to that realization. I did mention to her that I have captured some cool video footage of the butterfly lifecycle, and now I’m wondering if maybe it would be nice to go back with a pupae so her and her daughter can actually watch a butterfly emerge. But I also recognize this might be weird or a bit much…

:man_technologist: My tech volunteering continues, and remains extremely satisfying. Now I’m also seeing some spillover benefits as well, a virtuous cycle if you will. I participated in a meeting between one of the people I’ve been working with and a prospective service provider, and in the process I learned a lot about not only what they actually provide, but also about the platform and tools they use. Now I have more knowledge and ideas that I can apply to future work like this, as well as potentially to my own future projects! (FWIW the main platform in question was the Ghost blogging system)

:potted_plant: I’ve always loved plants, no doubt inspired heavily by my mother’s interest in them, and her very “green thumb”. We had a big garden when I was growing up, and I lived in the woods, so all that surely helped too. Yet as an adult it was decades before I started really keeping many house plants. OK, so maybe I was late to that passion, but the reality is even now I am always slow to do the plant and garden maintenance that I should to get the best results. I have yet to properly start my garden work and it’s already April! I got clippings of a plant from a friend that I absolutely loved, but I left them in water for over 6 months as they slowly turned red from malnutrition or some other stress. I let my “inch plant” (Tradescantia zebrina) get leggy and lose most of its leaves because I didn’t want to deal with transplanting it. There are many things like this and it makes me sad. And so… perhaps I simply like plants, but not gardening? That would be a bit of a frustrating reality, but if it’s the case, it would at least be good to face it and figure out what to do about it. On the bright side this past week held a good deal of gardening progress, and I finally did transplant a number of things that have been really needing it, not to mention mowing our very overgrown front yard. Hopefully I can keep this momentum going and take care of a few more long-needed plant tasks soon…

:haircut_man: I’ve been debating for some time whether to try going totally bald. My hair has been thinning for years, and there is minor but not insignificant maintenance (styling, whatever) and cost (hair cuts). Plus hats mess up my current hair style. Anyway, I typically schedule my hair cuts when I get the previous one, and had done the same last time. It was coming up this week and I had to decide: am I going to just go for it and shave my head, or get another hair cut. I decided on another hair cut, but planned a date for the shaved-head experiment, and let my hairstylist know. He meanwhile seems to be doing his best to keep me as a customer, suggesting a slightly new style that I was a bit skeptical of at first, but is so far proving to be a good call (I should probably trust him by now, he was the one who initially suggested the way I’ve been wearing my hair for the last several years!). But come late-April it’ll all be gone… Unless I chicken out. :smile: If you’re strongly pro or con let me know!

:tickets: The return of concerts happened a while ago, but I haven’t been ready myself until recently. I have a show coming up mid-April (Amber Mark! :heart_eyes:) that will be my first return to a crowded, indoor venue since all this began (N95 on my face for sure!). I’ve been seeing tickets for tempting bands go on sale for months now, but haven’t yet bought any new ones, it just didn’t feel safe enough yet. But with this show upcoming, it feels like a milestone and it seems like the time is right to start making concert plans again (and hopefully nothing in the near future has to change that! :crossed_fingers:). So I just bought tickets to Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats (one of the best live shows I’ve seen) and Norah Jones + Regina Spector (almost as much for the latter as the former). :tada:

:pie::croissant: During the pandemic I have gotten pretty into pastry pop-ups, of which there have been an increasing number. But one I still had not tried yet, until this past week, was Green House Bakery, in Oakland. Why you ask? Well, I drove by the line one day when I was in the area, and it wrapped around at least the entire block, if not several. I later heard it was a 1.5-2hr wait! Fortunately she alternates between first-come sales like there (where she frustratingly has more items) and pre-order set boxes (where also frustratingly you do not get to choose your items, though I get why). The preorders are extremely popular and competitive too, but I was able to finally get a small, 4 item box. A new friend of mine was also planning to try several other sweets shops, Bake Sum and Pie Society specifically, and we decide to all share, creating a pastry apocalypse in the park. :smile::drooling_face:

Overall it was fantastic. We had a great mix of sweet and savory things, because one of the great things happening with many newer bakeries is some real innovation in savory pastries. We had an Okonomiyaki Danish, which was incredible, as well as a Gruyere and Onion bun, among others. Everything was good, some things were spectacular. And Green House Bakery definitely held its own. But… nobody needed to wait 2hrs (or even 30 minutes) in line for Bake Sum or Pie Society, and Bake Sum’s pastries were easily the equal of Green House, both sweet and savory.

So, if you live in the Bay Area and have been wondering, I can tell you this: we all agreed that, while Green House was good, it’s not worth a 2 hour wait in line. Fortunately this was a pre-order, and although that’s also highly competitive (you have to order literally within the first minute of on-sale), at least you don’t have to stand around for an hour or two to figure out if you even got something. :smile: I don’t regret trying it, and if you have an interest I certainly encourage you to try your luck at the preorder! They’re really good pastries, just… yeah, not better than some of the other options without the wait. If you want similar pastry quality with a shorter line, try Bake Sum or Bloom’s End, in my view. Maybe if I had invested an hour or more in the line, my sunk cost bias would make me feel differently. :wink:

:rose: I want to write more on this subject, but for now, a brief note on my recent explorations in seeing myself as “demiromantic”. In short, the way I identify with this is that I think I form better romantic connections with people upon a foundation of more basic emotional connection that is built over time, i.e. “friends first”. I am still exploring and understanding how accurate the term is for me, what it means to me, and how it all works and feels. But it’s very interesting and, so far, it feels like a helpful perspective and way of framing my needs. But there are still plenty of ambiguities and uncertainties. For just one immediate example of the past week, I want to aim for “friends first”, so do I just completely let go of the idea of eventual romance for now? And if not, how exactly do I relate to a new relationship? For now I am focusing simply on holding my intentions lightly, being self-aware and introspective, and being as communicative and clear as I can be. But more exploration is definitely needed!