Friday, 2 pm, I talk to a lady with the employment bureau who tells me to wait for a callback because she's sending a note to my assigned caseworker asking them to call me.

So I look at their website and what it says about phone calls is that they come between one and four and that the bureau may not have the resources to try again, so it's your responsibility to pick up.

So I've kept my phone on me every moment of the call window Friday, Monday, and today, and still nothing. Now I'm wondering if I underestimated the time involved. The person in question might be on vacation the whole month of July... or they might have three weeks' worth of other things they have to do first in their inbox, which seems plausible when we hear of caseworkers having hundreds of clients apiece... .

The problem is that my brain gets attached to a to-do list that it has ordered by priority and if I get blocked on something that my brain thinks I need to finish first I can have real trouble making myself do any of the other things, even if it's literally impossible to do the first thing, so I'll spend weeks or even months floating around dispiritedly, marinating in increasing levels of frustration and self-flagellation (and as of recently, also shame because the self-flagellation is self-defeating and I'm supposed to be trying to have self-compassion instead).

I've done two days of sitting on tenter-hooks and not even doing dishes and laundry, which I'm confident won't last, but there's a real possibility I won't manage to make a single important outgoing phonecall until this one arrives.
This is my combination of about 3 different recipes.

couscous, 1 3/4 US cups (or a little over 4 deciliters)
a tiny bit more vegetable or chicken broth (or use 1 bouillon cube + water)
1 big bunch of parsley

Greek olives (recipes always want Kalamata, which I can't get here; I use green), 1 sm jar or about 1 cup/2½ deciliters
feta cheese, 1 package or about 1 cup/2½ dl
cherry tomatoes, 1 package
red grapes, ½ package
1 red onion
1 large cucumber

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt

Make the couscous according to package directions but using broth (or bouillon cube dissolved in the water), and make sure it's not dry by adding a bit more liquid if necessary. Fluff well so there are no clumps.

Wash & chop the vegetables: dice the onions finely, slice the cucumbers into bite-sized chunks, halve the tomatoes and grapes. I leave the olives whole. Chop the parsley roughly. Combine them in a big bowl, then add the couscous and stir to combine. Mix the dressing separately, drizzle it over the top, and stir again.
I was intrigued by a few recs for this book, which says upfront that the salient feature of these methods is prioritizing efficiency, simplicity and speed (the author says your goal should be for each 'zone' to be pick-uppable in 2 minutes, before a short attention span can run out), so they don't need to be adhd-specific.

Organizing Solutions for People With Attention Deficit Disorder: Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get OrganizedOrganizing Solutions for People With Attention Deficit Disorder: Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized

It's mostly actually about spatial organization of things, and unlikely to directly prevent me from losing things (which was my original aim when I started googling), but I got into it anyway.

Some of the stuff is laughable (throw out your DVDs in favor of streaming service only if you literally don't care WHAT you watch as long as you watch anything, FFS) or extreme (I'm happy to allow myself more than 5 tupperwares), but there's enough left over that was useful to have rendered the book totally worthwhile.

At one point I was so galvanized I leapt up in mid-sentence and cleaned the desk space around my computer monitor.

And later, in a less impulsive manner, I was inspired to reorganize the entryway shoe storage, the dish cupboards, the pots and pans, the tupperwares, and the pantry, all just in the last 2 days.


My mom is a hoarder of objects - I don't mean a clinical hoarder, in the rats and garbage sense, just a creator of hoards of things like art, salt and pepper shakers, dragon and chicken tchotchkes, antique teacups, teapots, excess tables and chairs, kitchen gadgets, tools, art supplies, broken things that might be reusable later in an art project, fabric scraps, books, magazines, spices, containers, linens... etc. My parents've been in the same house for 26 years. They have an organizational problem too, but a book whose basic philosophy is to make things easy to find by not having your storage be too crowded to see and access the things in it is not going to work for them without a few months' worth of sorting, slimming, and tossing first.

I think the advice could still be helpful to her and people like her (provided the extremity of the suggestions didn't panic them first!), although more so if she had a coach standing by to help her throw things away, because even if an exhortation to throw away 90% of your tupperware only gets you to throw away 20% of it, that's still an improvement.
Last Monday I thought that I had lost my wallet AGAIN, which would've made the 2nd time in 6 months. I had a meltdown of (a) guilt for failing to keep track of my important stuff and (b) agony over how much of a pain it is to replace all the things in your wallet, and then I did a whole bunch of reading about adult inattentive adhd. I've seen articles here and there about it before, and although my mother has long said that she probably had it, and even though I do share many absent-minded traits with her, I never thought it very likely that I had it until then.

Well, actually it turned out that I didn't lose it on the bus at all! I dropped it on the floor of [personal profile] pierydys's car when we went for a drive with the bunnies last weekend, which isn't nearly as bad. To lose it on the bus I'd have to have dropped or set it down on the seat/floor, but my bag was on the floor of the car and it probably just fell out of the exterior pocket (where it shouldn't have been and never should be in the future, but still, it's not as bad). I'm really relieved, but the scare has made an impression. I'm still thinking I'm going to adopt something like a wallet chain (only not an actual chain: maybe a lanyard, ribbon, or knitted cord...).

In the meantime, I did a bunch of reading about adhd, because I have felt increasingly overwhelmed by trying to organize/prioritize/manage tasks with a bunch of bits that have to be kept together/not lose things/etc (although I don't remember having any problem whatsoever with that as a child... aside from having a horribly messy room, but again, that's a common problem). I'm pretty much convinced that my mother has adhd now, but I didn't really find convincing indications that I might. There are a few things that ring true for me too - most strikingly, the lifestyle of accumulating clutter/things specifically in piles -, but I didn't find any reason to identify with it over simply being absent-minded (and battling depression off and on). The reading was interesting enough, so I didn't waste my time.
I haven't been able to make use of Facebook for years.

Part of this is because I despise the company and their various evil actions over the years; part of it is the deliberately opaque site design; but part of it was my fault because I used to figure since I was avoiding it 99% of the time anyway I might as well have an approach to accepting friend requests that was almost completely haphazard, and I rendered my own feed completely unusable as a result by filling it up with people I didn't particularly want to be following.

The more unwieldy, the more I avoided it and every notification from it for weeks. Eventually I reached a state where a limited pool of people I care about a lot were attempting to use it to communicate with me, and it wasn't working, and I was also spending a lot of time thinking about deleting my account all together.

Yesterday it occurred to me that unfriending a lot of people would make more sense than actually deleting the account, so I set about doing so.

And it was hard.

Why was I following about 15 members of my mother's extended family whom I barely know - people I couldn't even say how I was related to? What about all these classmates I never conversed with beyond smalltalk from my Finnish language classes, not even WHILE in the classes? People I wasn't especially close to even in high school - middle school, in some cases? I unfriended a childhood playmate whom I hadn't spoken to since age 12; my best friend from 5th grade, from whom I'd already drifted apart by 7th grade; a girl whose dad worked with my dad, whom I played with a few times when we were under the age of 10. These were all people I not only didn't interact with outside of Facebook, but people with whom I never interacted on Facebook either, apart from feeling uncomfortable about friending and about unfriending them.

I kept my first cousins, aunts and uncles, my wife's family members with whom we have friendly relationships, and actual friends past and present with whom I have had SOME form of attempted continued keeping-in-touch over the years: only people I would care to follow on Twitter or Tumblr, if they used it. I deleted forty or fifty people, I think.

I'm quite pleased with all of this effort, and it does seem to have worked somewhat, even though the interface is still awful.
I don't usually have anything to say about celebrity death other than "how sad", but this time I have to remind you all of the time Prince (at that time he was Formerly Known As) came to my high school to talk to a confused group of around a hundred kids about Jesus.

The presentation was heartfelt and evangelical, but supremely disorganized. Then-formerly-Prince himself was wearing an amazingly dapper plum purple suit that I WOULD have hardly looked away from, except that he had a modest entourage with him, and one of the members (friend? bodyguard? advisor?) was wearing a jade green suit that was an even more brilliant color. The talk was marked by periods of quiet, where nobody said anything, or people came and went and he and his entourage murmured together in a loose knot on the floor of the gym.

I think he talked about being born again maybe? But TBH you've all heard all there is to hear about Jesus before by that age, and literally everyone there except MAYBE then-formerly-Prince himself was WAY more interested in his celebrity than his thoughts on divinity.

Also: how sad.
I was recently introduced to the Philo Vance detective stories of S.S. Van Dine by an article about how T.S. Eliot (I think?) was a fan of detective fiction. I was surprised to learn that these stories, written pseudonymously by literary critic and NYC cultural avant-garde elite W.H. Wright, were all bestsellers at the time of publication, but have since faded so far from modern cultural awareness that I'd never heard of them in spite of having been close to several big-time golden age detective fiction fans. (If you read them, you'd probably also begin to feel you understand why they haven't stood the test of time as well as ACD, Christie, and Sayers, but I haven't quite applied myself to articulating my speculation yet.)

These novels feature a genius sleuth and a narrator-biographer sidekick, are set when they were written, in the 1920s-30s, and in some ways seem to bridge gaps between the above-mentioned writers, and to exist in conversation with them, in a fandomy, remixy way. (I also detect playful dialogue flourishes reminiscent of PG Wodehouse, although I have to note regretfully that the narrator is never Jeevesy.) But... gayer? I mean, of course, that foundation is unquestionably there in the rest of the genre, but here an overwhelming homosociality of the main cast combines with a definite coded gayness for the sleuth.

Sleuth Philo Vance, fundamentally a mixture made of largely Sherlock Holmes and Lord Peter Wimsey (maybe a dash of The Murders in the Rue Morgue, not least because of how his narrating biographer is handled), is coded gay in that early-20th-century asexual way. It's introduced with a pointed comment about a green carnation in the first scene with dialogue in the first novel, but never becomes actually relevant to the plot. He would read as asexual otherwise, but it isn't belabored or emphasized in contrast to anyone else, the way ACD did with Holmes, or Christie did with Poirot; it's just that sexuality would have been a complete non-issue if not for the green carnation remark and later, subtler hints. (Although spoiler ))

And though I don't discern any coding in their characters, his entire cast of regulars - or trio of backup singers, you might say - are also bachelors, evidently leading existences free of any assumptions of heterosexuality and heteronormativity. The author-narrator, S.S. Van Dine, referred to casually as "Van" by Vance, is his live-in man of business or secretary or personal assistant, a lawyer by trade whom he picked up when they were together at Princeton, but who is now devoted full-time to his correspondence, financial affairs, and art collections.

Their connection to the world of police is through district attorney Markham and homicide detective Sergeant Heath. Markham is typically present with the narrator and Vance, either at home or dining out, for what seems like one meal in three and a portion of every day, even when they are at leisure, and the readers are treated to the narrator waxing poetic about the dynamics of Markham and Vance's relationship, history, feelings for each other, and the nature of their banter, which he seems to find mysterious or ineffable at times.

Heath is a friendly and respectful subordinate of Markham's and shares with him the role of unimaginative policemen who want to pursue the wrong suspect or clue and have to have everything explained to them by the genius, but they're also both friendly with Vance. Heath doesn't hang around with them in his off-hours, but he's still what one might call a Bachelor's Bachelor.

The upshot is a highly homosocial cast that I think would make a great candidate for an update into a modern queer female foursome. (They wouldn't really need to be solving mysteries: as mysteries go these are not remotely realistic anyway.) (Yes, this was one of those shower thoughts that starts with "Wouldn't I like X better if all the characters were female?" I don't know why I have this conversation with myself so much, because the answer is always yes, but imagining it is always fun anyway I guess.)

Just picture this:

1. The sybaritic gastronome genius classical translator, art historian and collector, unarmed fighter and dog breeder, a sharp-dressing perfectionist diva who makes a point of delivering all her genius statements as if she couldn't care less, when in fact she feels a deep empathy for everyone that she covers up with coolness. A huge vocabulary, excitable tangents about art, history, and cool science stuff that sounds like it comes from an encyclopedia, a tendency to occasionally quote literature in a foreign language and then pretend not to hear when people try to ask her wtf she's talking about.

2. The narrator of the books is so transparent you often forget he's there, so it's hard to tease out a characterization. But that mystique could be played with interestingly, like maybe the character could be a long-distance bff who is in communication via texts and Skype.

3. The genius's older, tolerant friend who is serious to a fault and acts like putting up with the tangents and flights of fancy is a chore, but secretly finds them charming, and also will always melt at any direct request. Responsible, busy, on time, could be conquering the entire world one-handed off-screen. Is getting gray hairs. Always protests that she's busy, but then the genius is like "But this new restaurant has KILLER (esoteric dish) that I want to feed you," and she's like, "Okay." Says things like, "It sounds like you can handle things," and then goes along anyway just because the genius wanted an audience for her brilliance. Obediently provides the appropriate straight-man line whenever needed, and also instantly and commandingly takes charge of any situation and/or group of people with sheer force of charisma.

4. Brash, confident, likable lady who is presentable but insists on dressing comfortably and less formally. Has been doing her job competently a while and knows everybody in the field, and is friendly with them. Great at delegation. Stubborn, never afraid of an exhausting, difficult or tedious task, patient. Has a fairly optimistic outlook and is fond of one-liners and snarky asides. Prone to getting fired with frustrated righteous anger; yells about it until requested to please tone it down because her vigor is exhausting. Literally always falls for (practical) jokes: will fall for anything. Has probably been flicked on the nose after looking down when asked "What's that on your shirt" hundreds, if not thousands of times.
I've made a lot of progress in Keeping It Together enough to plan for what I/we are going to eat in advance and put it on the shopping list: most of the time, I manage to keep on top of it, and it's only once a month or so that I suddenly realize at dinnertime that I'm going to have trouble pulling anything together (or give up and have oatmeal or plain rice).

Usually there is the option to have [personal profile] waxjism buy things at the tiny grocery store on her way home, and this can be repeated almost every day, but not this weekend, so yesterday's shopping trip the entire weekend was UP TO ME. I planned ahead for this trip to the store. At least three dishes, I decided, and added stuff for them to the shopping list accordingly.

But when I got to the store, as I often do, I ended up eliminating things on the spur of the moment with the goal of making everything fit into two shopping bags. And I also had left things off, with the result that ALL THREE of the things I was planning to make are now impossible because I neglected to buy 1-2 of the ingredients.

Broccoli pasta salad? I impulsively didn't buy broccoli! Spaghetti casserole? I impulsively didn't buy spaghetti sauce (and I don't have any spare tomato sauce ingredients)! That new, oven-baked black bean burrito filling recipe I wanted to try? I bought five different ingredients, but neglected to buy the cheese!

I can reshuffle these ingredients into burritos without cheese and chicken and spinach salad, but the worrying thing is the flaw in my system...
Frtnj I was reading an article about a recall of a baby gate known to fall down when repeatedly tugged on by babies. Top comment was some mouthbreather like, “I think this ‘culture of safety’ has gone too far. By this logic they should also recall large bookcases.”

I know you’re not meant to read the comments, but this is practically unbelievable. They’re now applying the concept of pc police to babyproofing?!

The difference, Pekka, is that those bookcases are not specifically FOR BABIES, and unlike the baby gate in question, they all come with a safety warning telling you to anchor them to the wall with screws.

Somebody give this guy a very heavy bookcase before he votes Perussuomalaiset again.

#never read the comments
The only other tv I've rewatched as many times as an adult is Poirot - with Star Trek it's considerably more for a very few episodes but once only for others (much more variable quality for Star Trek than Poirot - though the latter also had quite a collection of different writers, directors, and producers, and even switched owners midway through its 25-year run). It feels to me like even the best episodes of Star Trek are pulpy enough to hover around the worst episodes of Poirot for rewatchability, even though as bad examples of their genre the worst Poirots are definitely worse in absolute terms than the BEST Star Treks - it's just the genre and register and how my brain works I guess.

Actually, I think murder mysteries in written form are also maybe easier to read casually, with more skimming and less engagement, than science fiction adventures? As I think about it, my mom uses both mysteries and paperback romances in this way - as palate cleansers between science fiction and fantasy books, or for when she doesn't have the brainpower/attention span for serious engagement. So maybe I just copied it from her, but it really feels easier.

I suppose that reality tv also allows for that lower level of engagement, but most of the reality tv I've tried to watch has ended up putting me off for one reason or another. I still watch new seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race, although not right away, and I think the reason I've never got fed up with it as with Project Runway for example (aside from the lack of a sudden disastrous drop in quality...) has to do with how it's so camp and upfront about the amount of gimmicks involved. But it's still got a high level of hystrionic interpersonal drama for my taste (obviously, this is a draw rather than a deterrent for many people, so it's not like I censure it for this). And I think that ultimately, the whole contest aspect to a lot of reality tv puts me off: feeling bad for the losers and disliking the things producers do to try to make you like and dislike people.

Instead of that, This Old House is really a documentary and basically only shows skilled craftsmen and experts in their fields at work, doing the various things they do and explaining them as they go. I also am more interested in the care and fixing of old buildings, mechanical systems, woodwork, etc., than I am in most of the subjects of these other reality shows. A lot of house-related shows that I used to see in the US on HGTV and its forebears wasted too much time on human interest (I hate human interest as a genre: it always seems to make me way less interested in humanity in general) and featured some guy yelling in front of a bulldozer about how big things are or how extreme something is, while This Old House shows closeups of people using tools and explains what they're doing well enough that, in many cases, someone could follow their instruction to do it themselves (provided some experience with the tools and general area in question, like carpentry or masonry or plumbing, all areas that my mom, for instance, or my aunts and uncles, have experience with, even if I don't).

Another thing I hate on a lot of house-related shows are the interior design bits - I love interiors but I hate the buzzwords and jargon (a common thing to make [personal profile] waxjism laugh around here is me yelling "RARGH, INTERIOR-DESIGN-SPEAK!!!") and also the over-designed results that a lot of professional interior designers on tv and in magazines seem to produce. This Old House does work with designers (and owners) with taste I don't like, but at least it's not too often, and only occupies a small part of the screentime for each project. (It helps that the host isn't an industry professional and is always there as the audience surrogate, and his attempts to sound polite and excited when I can tell he actually hates something are also a thing of beauty.)

One thing that is amusing and somewhat annoying is that the way reality tv works to create narratives that mimic fiction causes my brain to read it like fiction and start shipping people and sometimes lie awake sternly trying to talk my brain into investing its shipping energy in something with an actual fandom so I'll have something to read.


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