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Today, work work work. 

Did I wake up tired? Did I procrastinate a little too much? Does everything I say or do today seem not quite right? 

Yes.

No matter.

It’s time to work. It may not be the fun kind, but it is the kind worth doing. 

* * *

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

— Jack London

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Photo by Oxana Melis on Unsplash

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Chilling

Today is Fridge Day. As previously mentioned, Mr Man and I were unlucky enough to need a new fridge, but ! fortunate in that we were able to find a replacement that would arrive before Fall.* The replacement is being delivered sometime in the next couple of hours, so we’re getting ready.

Step 1: empty the old fridge

Step 2: marvel at the ancient relics to be found therein!

The old fridge has a very deep deli drawer and things could, and did, obviously, get lost in there. Like these Riviera yogurts from 2016 that somehow (incredibly!) still look 100% edible five years later. How?! (Magic, that’s how.) Or the mint vodka I made lo those many years ago (that’s code for I have no idea how old it is).

It’s true that best before dates are food quality guidelines, rather than “you will absolutely, positively die if you eat this even one minute after this date” warnings, but even so, I’ll skip the decade-old fish.

Everything that can be composted/recycled was. The dining room is full of coolers and insulated bags. Drawers were emptied, shelves cleared, and sacrifices to the Appliance Gods were made in the usual fashion.

Now we wait.

* * *

What I wish I were drinking.
Photo by Whitney Wright on Unsplash

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* I’m not kidding about this timeline, as you will know if you have had to purchase a new appliance lately. Supply chain issues from computer chips to shipping bottlenecks are rampant these days, but it will all get sorted out… eventually.

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What Was

I’m still thinking about history, and how even when it’s gone it really isn’t.

I came across a series of reconstructions (by a travel insurance company, who knew insurance could be this interesting?), showing a selection of UNESCO heritage sites as they are, and as they were.

Once upon a time.

Reconstructions of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

* * *

Palmyra. Budget Direct Travel Insurance via World History Encyclopedia

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More history, today. And photography. This is my grandmother on the Swedish-ish side. She was ten or twelve* at the time, and much more agile than when I knew her.

This is also me experimenting with photo restoration techniques.

My Twelve-Year Old Grandma

Grandma Dorothea was sweet, literally and figuratively. She did many things well (gardening, bridge, surviving the Great Depression with her sense of humor intact, making grandchildren happy), but above all, she baked. I can still recall the flash of joy on seeing pound cake in her kitchen. Her chocolate mint squares are decadent, melt-in-your-mouth bites of chocolate cake, creamy mint, and dark chocolate glaze.

She wasn’t much of a cook, but (despite the very cryptic notes left on her 3″x5″ recipe cards) she was one hell of a baker.

* * *

Grandma’s Chocolate Mint Squares

Cake Layer

  • 1 cup sugar                  
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 can chocolate syrup (16 oz)
  • 4 eggs beaten              
  • 1 cup flour                  
  • ½ tsp. salt

1.     Mix and bake in 9”x13” greased and floured pan for 30-35 minutes at 350°F.

Mint Layer

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbs. Crème de Menthe
  • ½ cup melted butter

2.     Mix and spread on the cool cake. Chill briefly to set.

Glaze

  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 6 Tbs. butter

3.     Melt over low heat. Cool a bit and spread over mint layer.

4.     Chill until chocolate sets and cut into small(ish) squares.

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* Inquiring minds want to know: at what age does one stop being a whippersnapper?

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More from the olde thyme archives. You may have seen the recent to-do about My Heritage’s Deep Nostalgia:

‘Deep Nostalgia’ AI gives life to old photos through animation – Big Think

#DeepNostalgia – how animating portraits with AI is both bolstering and undoing historic painted lies

Essentially, they are using AI-based technology to animate a static image. Very cool with a side of potentially creepy, but fascinating.

This is my great great great? uncle Walter “The Big Train” Johnson (1887-1946), one of the first inaugural members of the Baseball Hall of Fame:

Library of Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

* * *

I love how people are using this technology to animate ancestors, and also add life to historical figures we know only as two-dimensional figures. Here are just a few examples:

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Pretty Ok Day

Sometimes, there is only one question that matters: Did you quit today?

No, no I did not.

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Would the world be a better place if we added the words “I’m afraid that…” to many of our negative thoughts? As in, “I’m afraid that the vaccine is untested and will hurt me.” Or, “I’m afraid that my neighbor with the weird tattoo hates me because I’m different,” or “I’m afraid that Anders in accounting is undermining my promotion case,” or “I’m afraid that the people in charge don’t care about me.”

Adding those three words adds flexibility. It highlights worry but also makes room for the possibility that you may not be right about the danger. It isn’t fact, but possibility.

Anders may indeed have it out for you, but your neighbor probably doesn’t think about you at all.

I’m not unaware that there are real problems in the world, and many of them can be very personal. I was raised around a mix of people, some of whom were sweet hometown souls and some for whom intolerance was their bread and butter. It is true that some people are not good. And not all tattoos are harmless.

Still. This quote also rings true for me:

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

― Yoda, Jedi Master

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Growing up as I did, an adopted, mixed-race but not obviously so child in a mostly rural mostly white area, gave me a certain perspective onto the good and the not so much.

My brother looks Black, he got the brunt of the in-your-face not good. I don’t, as much, so I got to see what lay behind the masks. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was always interesting.

What makes people tick? In my experience, the answer is often fear. We’re all scared of something.

Understanding that, about others and ourselves, can open a fascinating window into motivation, behavior, and connection.

* * *

Years ago, I went on vacation with a group. I didn’t necessarily agree with the politics of all present, but that’s fine. We were there for a good time, and most days, a good time was had.

The weather was warm but it rained on and off, and strong winds blew through even on the best afternoons. On snorkeling day, the boat that took us out was on the small side and the water was choppy with a chance of jellyfish.

The captain took us out into deeper water, pointing to a box of snorkels and masks as we slipped farther from shore. The woman next to me didn’t say much but when she spoke, her voice sounded thin and strained. 

The boat dropped anchor and most of the group immediately swam away. My seat-mate stayed near the ladder, tension visible in her short, choppy strokes and the way her breathing wasn’t quite level.

In that moment, our differences didn’t matter. The water was deep. Jellyfish swarmed nearby, and the boat cast an absurdly small shadow on a vast ocean. 

I reached out a hand and asked if she would swim with me. She laughed, half disbelief, half desperation. 

Then she reached back. 

* * *

It was years ago, but I remember that day every time I am tempted to fall into a knee-jerk reaction about someone. 

I’m half white, half Black, half American, half Canadian, half Star Wars, half Star Trek, half duck confit, half pork and sauerkraut. I’m Exhibit J for the argument that differences don’t have to mean disaster. 

I know that reaching out doesn’t always work. I’ve experienced the alternatives. (And thanks to the joys of social media and increasing polarization, it’s impossible to miss the bonfire of bad so often happening around us.) But I keep trying.

* * *

Like most people, I am best at remembering the foolish things I’ve done, the comments I wish I could take back, or the times I wish I’d done more.

But I also remember that moment in the water, when I was able to reach past our fears and help someone. I doubt she remembers, and that’s fine. In a fundamentally useful way, that moment humanized us both. We do not always see eye to eye, but we like each other far better than any algorithm says we should. 

I can still see the wide blue waters flowing around me, hear the slap of waves against the side of the boat. And feel the warmth of another’s hand looking for help and hope, and giving both back to me in return.

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Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

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“…the simplest and most important thing of all: the world is difficult, and we are all breakable. So just be kind.”

― Caitlin Moran

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Photo by Chris Curry on Unsplash

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The sun is out and while it’s not exactly warm, the world is bright and beautiful. I’m working on a number of project ideas and am about to help Mr Man dissect the fridge. 

(brief break for said dissection)

Yep, we need a new fridge. Or rather, the fridge needs a new compressor and it doesn’t make sense to replace that one thing. I shall now spend a not-insignificant amount of time imagining a world in which incentives for engineers are structured in ways that make designing modular, easy-to-repair systems the goal. 

So I’m a little sad today, because having to get rid of a mostly fine appliance is a damn shame.

* * *

That said, I am also reading. I just finished Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor. It’s a good book but not, like so many others, an easy one to ingest. I stuck with it and am glad I did. The language is challenging, any name or title under four syllables is rare, and the author does an astonishing job (I realized about 10% of the way in) of putting the reader in the place of the awkward, out-of-his-depth, confused main character. It adds an extra, internal dimension to the act of reading an external book. 

* * *

And here’s to my parents, who raised me with the belief that no day with a book is ever truly wasted.

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Photo by Rob Mulally on Unsplash

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Well, This is Fun

Instead of writing an adventure-filled epic saga for your lunchtime perusal (or whatever it is I originally planned to post today), Mr Man and I are shopping for a new refrigerator. Because that’s fun.

The bad news? Compressors break. The good news? Our options are no longer limited to preserving our milk with frogs!

Refrigerators that Ribbit?

(Srsly tho, do not try this at home!)

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green frog in a purple flower
We are not amused! Ok, maybe a little bit amused.
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

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