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Yesterday, as I was leaving work, it was raining. Correction: it was pissing down. La Niña, you know. Brings us wet winters here in Seattle. Sometimes snowy ones. Yesterday was definitely wet.

I started down the stairs at the bus station, saw the 41 waiting, and quick-stepped the last flight to the platform. The doors on the bus closed, so I kicked it into high gear, running alongside. The kindly driver spotted me in his side view, held off, opened the doors, and let me in. I paid my fare with a smile and a thank you, and decided to stand near the door for the trip up to the park-and-ride.

I held onto one of the vertical handholds and looked outside as we swayed onto the freeway and then sashayed northward. The streets were grey. The sky was grey. Beyond the filmy windscreen, the cars cruising past also wore shades of rainy grey. But the sounds, the shushing of tires, the spatter of rain on speeding glass, the grunting scrape of wiper blades as they smeared the rain around rather than really squeegeeing it off, I found it all rather relaxing. Cocoon-like. The world outside was cold and wet, but in the coach we were all warm and dry.

Halfway to our off-ramp, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned. (more…)

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The problem with good books is that they show me how much I still must improve, to elevate my writing from “good” to “great.”

News of the World, by Paulette Jiles, is one such book. Damn.

An aging veteran travels the backroads in post-Civil War Texas, reading newspaper articles to townsfolk who either can’t read or don’t have access to papers from the big cities. He’s asked to take with him a young girl, captured by the Kiowa when she was six, and bring her back to her relatives near San Antonio. (more…)

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Most everyone knows that I hate single-taskers in the kitchen . . . those items in your utensil drawer or the cupboard that only do one thing. If your kitchen is anything like mine (i.e., galley style layout), you know that I have limited storage space and even greater limits on counter space. So, if I’m going to allow a single-tasker into my kitchen, it has to do an amazing job and it has to take up minimal space. (Example: the Norpro bean slicer; small in size, but an absolute champ at slicing haricot vert lengthwise.)

With that in mind, many of my friends were surprised to hear that, for a holiday present, I had purchased a sous vide cooker. “Sous vide” (pronounced “soo veed,” meaning “under vacuum”) is a cooking technique, long used by professionals, that is now enjoying a resurgence among foodies. (more…)

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About this time last year, I was going Full Dark Gothic on ringing (or, more accurately, “wringing”) out the old year. 2016 was a tough year for us here at Chez G, filled with deaths and troubles and disappointments galore, and though we survived it, we didn’t always manage to do it with style.

2017 has been difficult, too, with the wholesale breakdown of norms on both personal and global stages, but while difficult—incredibly so, at times—it wasn’t as painful as 2016. So, while I don’t feel particularly hopeful about what’s coming after 2017, I don’t feel as bloodied as I did coming into it. As a result, this holiday season has been, for us, pretty good.

For all of you, I hope your holidays have been peaceful, fun, and filled with love.

In the new year, let’s try to be grateful for the little things that brighten our days, like that new pair of warm winter socks or that bowl of homemade soup or the sound of rain or the smell of a loved one’s hair or the way your dog greets you when you come home.

Let’s try to remember that the person on the other side of the argument is not a demon, but a person like us in many ways, with many of the same concerns and challenges, and strive to discover that common ground that we know lies between us.

Let’s try to counter the chaos with kindness, the anger with empathy, the fear with understanding, the pain with love.

Let’s try to be good, to ourselves, and to each other.

Thank you all for taking time out of your busy lives to read my words, this past year. I hope you all stick around for what’s next.

Best,

k

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Dragons AheadOn my mind is the reformation of sexual norms that is currently underway here in America. I’m far from alone in this. It has to be on the mind of nearly every American male. As each day dawns, it seems, another male icon is hoisted by his own pecker, so much so that “Are all men dogs?” seems a pretty fair question.

Are we? Are all men dogs? All of us?

To a degree, yes, we probably are, as I considered in an earlier post. Between our youthful, lust-fueled idiocy, our penchant for philandering, and the broad-spectrum tales of power-fed sexual predation, the fraction of males who have not, at some point, behaved badly, must be vanishingly small.

This retributive wave has been building since October, and we are now about to enter the zero-tolerance phase. This is completely appropriate, for a time. With something this ingrained—in our culture, in our psyches, and arguably in our DNA—incremental change is largely ineffectual. We males need a short sharp shock to wake us from our testosterone-shielded complacency. As it was with the farmer and the mule, we need to be hit in the forehead with a 2×4 before you can get our attention.

Eventually, we will reach a point where we can discern the shades of grey that exist in these cases, but not now, not yet. In time, we will recognize the difference between a mistake and a pattern, react differently to bad judgement versus predatory behavior, but right now we need to shine the brightest light possible on this dark corner of the human experience. We’re redefining centuries-old boundaries here, and for the moment those boundaries need to be stark and unmistakable. Paradigm shifts are not served up in easy-to-manage chunks.

There is one question that nags at me, though.

Why now?

What was the trigger, the catalyst that got this ball rolling. It wasn’t Weinstein. Weinstein’s outing as a sexual predator was merely the dam breaking. But what first cracked that dam?

Consider the year before Weinstein. Names like Cosby, Ailes, and O’Reilly were regularly in the news for sexual crimes, and women a-plenty were speaking out. Still the dam held.

Then, Donald Trump was accused of sexual misconduct, and even caught on tape bragging about it, but quickly that was pooh-poohed as “locker room talk” and set aside.

In January of this year, we had a Women’s March, with a million “pussy hats” on the National Mall. And still, no break in the dam.

While there was obviously a building wave of social pressure from these events, my curious mind wonders, what was it that turned the tide? What was it, following all the predecessors but before the Weinstein story broke in October, that might have been the turning point?

For my money, it was Taylor Swift.

Now, hang on. Stay with me for a minute on this. . .

In August, Ms Swift testified in her sexual assault trial against a DJ who grabbed her backside during a meet-n-greet photo shoot. Her testimony was rife with quotes the like of which we have not heard in similar trials. She was not tearful. She was not demure.

No. Throughout Ms Swift’s cross-examination she was strong, dignified, matter-of-fact, and resolutely confident. In short, she was wholly impressive. Her unapologetic and unabashed demeanor were inspiring, and if I found her inspiring, I wonder if some Hollywood-types on Weinstein’s list were likewise inspired and spurred to action.

The Swift quote I found most meaningful and powerful was this one, given in response to defense attorney Gabe McFarland when he asked Swift if she had any feelings about the DJ losing his job because of the incident.

“I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault. Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions—not mine.”

That. That right there.

That is equality. That is the end of accepting the shame that others are shoveling at you. That is the sort of inspiring, no-nonsense, table-clearing statement that will put good-old-boys and tongue-cluckers alike in their place.

Now, I have no way of knowing what it was that flipped the switch in this national conversation. Until I hear a better candidate, though, I’m going with this.

k

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It’s not all video games, here at OMG-Central. I also enjoy old school, across the table, low-tech board games.

If you’re one of those for whom “board games” only evokes images of Monopoly and Parcheesi, let me tell you, these are not your grandma’s board games. They’ve changed a lot, in past decades, and they keep changing, adding new mechanics, new twists on old methods, and sometimes even extending “beyond the box” to include other media and technologies. (more…)

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Bad diarist! No biscuit!

Back during The Event, I once again started a journal. I’ve kept a journal, off and on, for most of my life (though it’s definitely been more off than on). Like many diarists, I pick up my journal in times of strife and pain, writing each day (or more often) to rant, moan, analyze, introspect, and claw my way back toward something that resembles sanity. As the drama subsides, however, my journalistic fervor wanes in response; I am simply not compelled to catalogue the minutiae of my days.

And that is the point at which I begin to feel a sense of failure. (more…)

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