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January 2019



Cheating by Deborah L. Rhode

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Four Stars

Best for:
People who enjoy the academic rigor of a peer-reviewed book, but actually want to enjoy reading said book. Also, people who find the idea of cheating (in all its forms) fascinating.

In a nutshell:
Law professor and legal ethicist Rhode examines why people cheat, and what society can do to mitigate those tendencies.

Worth quoting:
“Totally honest, incorruptible people constitute about 10 percent of the population. Totally dishonest people who will cheat in a wide variety of situations account for about 5 percent. The other 85 percent appear basically honest, but will succumb to temptation depending on the situation.”

Why I chose it:
I love ethics — studying it, reading about it, thinking about it. Unlike everyone in The Good Place, I love moral philosophy professors. And while I’ve read articles and books on many different topics in ethics, I hadn’t seen one focused solely on cheating.

Have you ever stacked your ships in the same line in Battleship? Have you ‘forgotten’ to report to the IRS the cash earnings from nannying during graduate school? Have borrowed your sorority sister’s paper for the class you’re in, which she got a 4.0 in a year prior?

Have you ever cheated?

In this book, Rhode examines multiple types of cheating, spending a chapter on each. She looks at not just what many of you probably thought of when you saw the title — adultery — but also cheating in sports, at work, on taxes, at school, and committing copyright infringement and cheating related to insurance claims and mortgage applications.

Each chapter offers examples of the types of cheating in that particular area, then looks at what might cause it, and then crucially, what might be an effective way of preventing it. In some cases, that is increasing the punishment (such as corporate malfeasance), while in other areas it means getting creative (such as with making music widely available for low subscription fees).

As you read this, you might balk at some things that she considers cheating, while other things will be very clear. I know so many people who illegally download music and films and see no problem with it, and would be shocked that it is included in such a book. Others might find her stance on how to punish marital infidelity — personally, not legally or financially — to lenient. I think you can make arguments on all sides. But it’s interesting to read and to really think through, especially given who the US President and GOP leadership are right now (and this book came out last year, so the US President is mentioned a few times).

While the book is over 200 pages, it is so thoroughly backed up with research that the notes take up 60 of those pages. It is a pretty quick and easy read, given the subject matter.

Keep it / Donate it / Toss it:
Donate it, because while I enjoyed it, I can’t see myself reading it again.



January 2019



What I’m Reading – January 13, 2019

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Trump’s Government Shutdown

““If the shutdown continues, then you will literally have millions of people that will not be able to afford food,” the U.S. Representative for California’s 37th said. “And I think this is just absolutely unconscionable.” Funding for the program was solidified through January following a standoff, which began December 22, with Donald Trump after he demanded $5.7 billion in funding for the U.S. border wall. The Washington Post reported a SNAP “contingency” fund of $3 billion was appropriated by lawmakers that could potentially cover 64 percent of February funding.” The Government Shutdown Could Impact Millions Of Food Stamp Recipients (by Charmaine Griffin for Blavity)

“Just 117 of the more than 400 national parks collect fees, meaning hundreds will have to compete for funds the NPCA claims will not be enough. The NPS has not announced how much funding will go to each park. “Never before have I seen the federal government tempt fate in national parks the way we are today,” says Diane Regas, president of the Trust for Public Land of the decision to keep parks open with only a fraction of their employees. “It’s not about what has happened already. It’s about what could happen if you don’t have the appropriate staffing.”” National parks face years of damage from government shutdown (by Sarah Gibbons for National Geographic)


“The strike has been called by 10 trade unions across the country against what they believe are anti-labour policies of prime minister Narendra Modi’s government. Employees from the power, steel, auto, and financial services sector will participate in this “historic event.” The strike will also be joined by farmers, who have been protesting against the agrarian crisis in the country for several months now.” 150 million Indians to go on strike against Modi’s “anti-labour” policies (by Nupur Anand for Quartz)


“Whilst speaking to some of those from South Asian backgrounds involved at the grassroots level of the game, it became clear that the barriers were many, with a sense of resignation of “that’s just how thing are and all always will be”. From scouts making sweeping cultural generalisations and stereotypes, to players being released for reasons unknown, I set out to explore some of these barriers in more detail. One of those who I spoke to was Husnane Shah, who, after scoring 84 goals in one season for his grassroots team, was invited for a trial at a professional club. Following the trial Husnane claims a scout at the club told him he was specifically told not to “take on Asian footballers”.” “The scout told me they don’t take on Asian players” – where are the South Asian footballers? (by Basit Mahmood for Media Diversified)

“The 90-year-old geneticist – one of three who discovered the DNA double helix – had lost his job at the New York laboratory in 2007 for expressing racist views. But in the new PBS film, American Masters: Decoding Watson, he said his views on intelligence and race had not changed since. He had told a magazine in 2007 he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” as “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – where all the testing says not really”.” DNA pioneer James Watson stripped of honours after ‘reckless’ race remarks (Sky News)

“Physician and former EMT Leslie Gregory said she saw the biases discussed in the study for herself while working in Lenawee County, Michigan. She told NPR about a former colleague who seemed to believe a Black patient was overdramatic to gain access to painkillers. “I think it was something like: ‘Oh, my God. Here we go again,’” she recalled. Gregory feared she would have to go from medic to race advocate. “I am absolutely sure this was unconscious,” she continued. “At the time, I remember, it increased my stress as we rode up on this person. Because I thought, ‘Now am I going to have to fight my colleague for more pain medication, should that arise?’”” Black Patients Less Likely To Receive Pain Medication From EMTs Than White Patients, New Study Says (by Ashleigh Atwell for Blavity)


“All of which is to say: In 1980, taxing incomes above $216,000 (or $658,213 in today’s dollars) at 70 percent was considered a moderate, mainstream idea, even though wage inequality was much less severe, and supply-side economics had yet to be discredited. This week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told 60 Minutes that she believes the U.S. should consider taxing incomes above $10 million at a 70 percent rate. Specifically, the congresswoman suggested that taxing the rich at such a rate would be preferable to forgoing major investments in renewable energy, and other technologies necessary for averting catastrophic climate change. And centrist pundits were scandalized by her extremism.” Ocasio-Cortez’s 70 Percent Top Tax Rate Is a Moderate, Evidence-Based Policy (by Eric Levitz for Intelligencer)

Sexual Assault

“For those of you who do not know – and I struggle to imagine there are people who don’t know at least some of the allegations – Bryan Singer has two decades of very credible allegations of sexual assault and harassment against young men to his name. Singer’s reputation is one of the most sordid and openly talked about scandals in the industry. Whispers around him were as plentiful and widely accepted as any against Harvey Weinstein. Shortly before he was fired from Bohemian Rhapsody, news broke that Singer was facing a lawsuit from a man who alleged he had been raped by the director in 2003 when he was 17 years old. he lawyer representing this man, Jeff Herman, also represented Michael Egan, the man who accused Singer, among other Hollywood figures, of sexual assault in 2014 (that case was eventually withdrawn and Herman issued an apology to the accused).”  Bryan Singer is an Accused Rapist: Why Does This Not Matter This Awards Season? (by Kayleigh Donaldson for Pajiba)



January 2019



What I’m Reading – 6 January 2019

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here, let’s read about some screwed up shit (followed by some awesome shit at the end)

US Government Shutdown

“John Deal, a Nasa contractor who lives in Virginia, told the Guardian on Christmas Day that he and his wife – who also works for the agency – have lost 100% of their household income since the shutdown began. One of his daughters lives at home, and is helping pay for groceries from her first year teacher’s salary. “We’re blue-collar workers. We’re not making six-figure salaries like Mr Trump or Mr Pence,” he said this week.” ‘Our income has stopped’: shutdown leaves workers stressed and struggling (by Khushbu Shah for The Guardian)

Refugees and Immigrants

“The United States is rejecting more legal immigrants than ever before. The first casualty in 2018 was the U.S. refugee resettlement program, says Larry Yungk, a former official at the U.N. refugee agency and now co-chair of the advisory committee of Church World Service’s refugee program. “This is one where the knobs were in reach,” he explains, referring to the president’s prerogative to set the yearly refugee admission cap. After framing refugees as a security threat, Trump slashed resettlement admission numbers for a second year to a historic low, says Yungk. Just 22,491 refugees were resettled in the U.S. in fiscal year 2018, roughly half the 45,000 cap.” 2018 Was A Year Of Drastic Cuts To U.S. Refugee Admissions (by Deborah Amos for NPR)

“The boy’s death at a New Mexico hospital marked yet another grim inflection point in the wider immigration struggle that has roiled U.S. politics this year, stirring partisan passions and fueling outrage over the ongoing separation of hundreds of children from their parents at the border. Monday’s death, announced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, comes against the backdrop of a separate migration-related battle: the partial government shutdown over President Trump’s demand of $5 billion for a border wall. There is no indication that the shutdown had anything to do with the child’s death, however. Customs and Border Protection agents are considered essential employees and remain on the job.” An 8-year-old Guatemalan child dies in U.S. custody on Christmas Eve after being treated for a cold(by Laura King for The L.A. Times)

Sex Work

“Sex workers who fear that they, or their clients, may be picked up by the police are more likely to engage in risky encounters, unable to take the time to talk to a client before getting into a car or negotiate terms in advance, the researchers found. Their health and safety were at risk not only in countries where sex work was criminalised, but also in Canada, which has introduced the “Nordic model” pioneered by Sweden, under which the client can be arrested for a criminal offence, but not the sex worker.” Criminalisation of sex work normalises violence, review finds (by Sarah Boseley for the Guardian)

Sexual Assault

“A full week later, the number of girls and women who spoke swelled from 88 to 156. One hundred and fifty six. An army of survivors. The weeklong reading of their statements was an anomaly in some ways. Typically, stories like the ones the girls and women told are ignored or presented in cold, unfeeling, and brief newscasts or write-ups. Not this time.” Larry Nassar’s Survivors Were 2018’s Real Life Superheroes (by Jessica Luther for Huffington Post)

“While a number of journalists and activists have worked diligently to unmask R. Kelly and to keep his many alleged crimes in conversation, Surviving R. Kelly is a singular and exhaustive project. It incorporates the voices of survivors, advocates, experts, musicians, reporters and cultural critics, as well as friends and family of R. Kelly. It begins with his childhood, meticulously charting Kelly’s career while never losing sight of the young women and girls he systematically and continuously abused. Kelly’s behavior is illuminated and analyzed, placed within a larger industry and culture-wide conversation, but never excused. Here, finally, is a humane accounting of an abusive celebrity’s life that does not treat their crimes as an asterisk or an afterthought.” ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ Exposes How the R&B Singer Got Away With Preying on Girls for Decades (by Amy Zimmerman for The Daily Beast)


“But what was the next job? This is the stuff I can’t remember — how a particular day unfolded. Maybe the next job was the Great Falls, Virginia, housewife who answered the door in some black skimpy thing I never really saw because I work very hard at eye contact when faced with out-of-context nudity. She was expecting a man. I’m a 6-foot lesbian. If I showed up at your door in a uniform with my hair cut in what’s known to barbers as the International Lesbian Option No. 2, you might mistake me for a man. Everyone does. She was rare in that she realized I’m a woman. We laughed about it. She found a robe while I replaced her cable box. She asked if I needed to use a bathroom, and I loved her.” I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America. (by Lauren Hough for Huffington Post)

“The world’s five deadliest countries for journalists include three — India, Mexico and, for the first time, the United States — where journalists were killed in cold blood, even though those countries weren’t at war or in conflict, the group said. “The hatred of journalists that is voiced … by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.” United States added to list of most dangerous countries for journalists for first time (via Reuters)


“As a journalist and maternal health advocate, I listen to people talk about childbirth. The language, usually flawed and often disturbing, is everywhere: at school drop-off, from health-care providers, on social media. The stigma and silence around birth and birth trauma have become so normalized that most people do not realize the impact of their words. Others should know better. Julie Satow’s recent New York Times article, “Why New York Lags So Far Behind on Natural Childbirth” exemplifies how news outlets can perpetuate damaging language around birth. The article’s terminology and tone reflect a mischaracterization of the current crisis in U.S. maternity care, and they reinforce cultural attitudes that shame and misinform birthing people.” The Movement for Human Rights in Childbirth Is Not a ‘Natural Birth’ Movement (by Sarah Yahr Tucker for Rewire)


“A joint letter sent to all MPs on behalf of the heads of 150 UK universities says: “Vital research links will be compromised, from new cancer treatments to technologies combating climate change. “The valuable exchange of students, staff and knowledge would be seriously damaged,” adds the letter from university groups including Universities UK, the Russell Group, Guild HE, Million Plus and University Alliance.” Brexit: Universities warn no deal is ‘biggest-ever threat’ (by Sean Coughlan for BBC)

Some Good Things

“It’s possible that it is Surya Bonaly or Starr Andrews — black women whose presence on the ice remains as daring as their performances — but professional figure skaters of color make up only a fraction of the field. It’s a reality that feels far from mind at Riverbank State Park in Harlem, where twice a week, year-round, little black and brown girls glide and twirl across the ice.” ‘When I Skate It Just Feels Free’ (by Lovia Gyarkye for The New York Times)

“If you never actually get around to reading any books, then yes. You might want to read up on tricks to squeeze more reading into your hectic life and why it pays to commit a few hours every week to learning. But if it’s simply that your book reading in no way keeps pace with your book buying, I have good news for you (and for me; I definitely fall into this category): Your overstuffed library isn’t a sign of failure or ignorance, it’s a badge of honor.” Why you should surround yourself with more books than you’ll ever have time to read (by Jessica Stillman for Fast Company)

“How to Be a Friend — or in Latin De Amicitia — is arguably the best book ever written on the subject. The heartfelt advice it gives is honest and moving in a way few works of ancient times are. Some Romans had viewed friendship in mostly practical terms as a relationship between people for mutual advantage. Cicero doesn’t deny that such friendships are important, but he reaches beyond the utilitarian to praise a deeper kind of friendship in which two people find in each other another self who doesn’t seek profit or advantage from the other person.” How to Be a Good Friend, According to an Ancient Philosopher (by Philip Freeman for Time)



January 2019



The Complete Soccer Goalkeeper by Tim Mulqueen

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4 Stars

Best for:
Goalies and Goalie Coaches (it’s a bit of a niche market, I’ll grant you).

In a nutshell:
US Men’s National Team Goalkeeper coach (he coached Tim Howard, yo) offers tips for training effective goalkeepers.

Worth quoting:
“The best way to stay on top of the game is by playing along in your head.”

Why I chose it:
I am a goalkeeper who rarely had any proper goalkeeper training. Whoops.

When I moved to London, I thought team sports — specifically soccer, or football as they call it here — might be a way to meet new people and be a bit social. I grew up playing club soccer, starting at six years old, and becoming a goalkeeper around 11 or 12. I’m very tall for a woman at 6’, and was already like 5’9” when I started high school, so coaches would see me and think ‘well, even if she isn’t good she’ll probably stop some shots by sheer luck thanks to her size.’

I played off an on after college, before joining a co-ed team about eight years ago. It was very casual, no coach, no training, just show up on Sundays. I eventually left, and hadn’t been active in goal for about two years when I googled ‘my neighborhood’ + ‘women’ + ‘football’ and found a club that was not only open to new members, but was actively seeking goalkeepers. Huzzah!

This club has over 30 players, has teams in three leagues, trains every week, and has a manager! A real manager who has played the sport. Unfortunately, however, he is not a goalkeeper coach, and that is a problem. Because, you see, I am not actually very good, despite my years of experience. It could partly be my age (I’ll be 39 this month), but I think it’s mostly I was just stuck in the back and told to try to stop the ball. No training, no technique, no real expectation of improvement. I did take it upon myself to pay for my own training for a couple of months maybe seven years ago, but that was expensive. I did learn something, but not enough. And now I’m playing on a team that is for fun but also – I want to improve. I want to get better!

Wait, this is meant to be a book review, not my personal history with soccer. My bad.

So, the book. I found the tips very helpful. It is full of drills that I’m going to show to my manager, to see if we can start doing some at training. It also has great descriptions of techniques, as well as pictures. But the best part, honestly? The author alternates between referring to men and women keepers. I’d love to get to a gender-neutral they at some point, but also outside of the US women just aren’t seen as soccer players (and inside the US they still make a shit-ton less than the men, when they are demonstrably way better at the sport). So to have the language — and the example pictures! — feature women? That was awesome.

As I mentioned up top, the target audience is extremely small, and people who don’t play are soccer are not going to find it interesting at all. I think it could be beneficial for some field players — especially defenders — to skim it to get a sense of what keepers go through and are thinking about on the field. But it’s best for coaches and goalkeepers, and I’ll be recommending it to them.

Keep it / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it. And possible get a copy for our manager.



January 2019



Script & Scribble by Kitty Burns Florey

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Three Stars

Best for: Those who like trivia about everyday life – in this case, about handwriting. (For example, did you know that a typical pencil can draw a line thirty-five miles long?)

In a nutshell: Author Burns Florey takes the reader on a trip through the history of handwriting, from the very beginning, through those gorgeous (though illegible) tomes produced by monks in the middle ages, up to strict penmanship training in the early 1900s, and ending with contemplation of how handwriting fits into the digital age.

Worth quoting:
“In first grade she had to bring from home an official ‘letter of permission’ to the principal stating that no, it was not okay for her teacher to tie Eileen’s left hand down so that she’d learn to print the alphabet right-handed.”
“The truth is that millions of children are sent out into the world armed with lousy handwriting, great keyboarding skills — and no computer.”

Why I chose it:
I love to write (in journals and using my computer), and I love trivia. Seemed like a good fit.

Handwriting — specifically, cursive — is near and dear to author Burns Florey’s heart. In this well-researched and well-written (though poorly edited: the footnotes one of the six chapters are mis-numbered and hard to follow) book, she provides us with a history of handwriting, and includes some fascinating images and examples. She covers the tools used (including paper, pens, and pencils), the styles that came into and faded from heavy use, and even the teaching methods employed to improve handwriting. She also spends a good bit of time discussing what we can learn from handwriting, both by exploring handwriting analysis and by looking back at journals and diaries from those who came before us.

Some parts were more interesting than others; I always enjoy a good messy manuscript. Plus it’s a bit mind-boggling to look back at extraordinarily ornate books from the Gothic era and realize that they were meant to be read; I cannot make heads nor tails of many of these admittedly gorgeous scripts.

I found that the book sometimes spoke of two separate things as though they were the same, which convoluted the message. For Burns Florey, handwriting (specifically what people my age likely think of as cursive) is something to be valued and treasured, and she laments that people don’t have great script anymore. I get that — I have a friend who does hand lettering (she designed the logo for my website) and it is a joy to get one of her hand-addressed cards. However, Burns Florey also seems to be concerned that people type instead of write, and these are two very different things in my mind, yet get conflated in her writing.

I definitely appreciate the concern that people sending emails instead of letters written by hand means we won’t have these treasures in the future. But for me, it doesn’t matter if these letters are written in cursive or printed. I still send loads of hand-written notes, but none of them use cursive. I print basically everything. The fact that students today don’t learn cursive doesn’t, I think, mean that they won’t print things. Confusing? A bit, and I can see how easy it would be to intertwine these two concerns and end up with a book that treats them as the same issue. I think I would have appreciated the book more if Burns Florey had spent more time fleshing out the differences between the two.

One section that I think would have been interesting as a stand-alone article in a magazine explored why it is important to teach children handwriting (though, again, there seems to be some conflating of learning write cursive and learning to print). This book was published in early 2009, so computer and internet usage were certainly a big thing, and Burns Florey acknowledges this. But she does also point out that focusing on learning to type over learning to print or handwrite does put some people at a disadvantage: namely, those of lower incomes who are less likely to have a computer in their home. While 80% of children in the US have access to a computer at home, that number drops to 57% when looking at homes earning less than $15,000 / year. Additionally, non-Hispanic white children are more likely to have a computer in their home than Black or Hispanic children. If you can’t write legibly because you aren’t taught that in school, and you don’t have a computer to get your words out, your communication options can be limited. I hadn’t thought about the digital divide in that way before.

I started this book in mid-2018 but made it about 40% of the way through before it began collecting dust on my nightstand. As part of my 2019 reading goals, I’m hoping to either finish off those partially-read books of 2018 or accept that I’m just not that into it and move along. By choosing to just focus on this book this morning, I was able to finish it. That’s not the most ringing of endorsements, but it was an enjoyable and interest read just the same.

Keep it / Donate it / Toss it: Donate it.



January 2019



Calm the F**k Down by Sarah Knight

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Four Stars

Best for: Anyone with anxiety, anyone who tends to worry a bunch, and/or anyone who can find themselves unsure of where to start when something bad happens.

In a nutshell: Author Sarah Knight offers a way to think about the things that keep us up at night so they don’t take over our lives. She is not a doctor, and isn’t suggesting that people with mental health issues that amplify their tendency to worry simply need to calm the fuck down; this book is for those of us who wouldn’t have a diagnosis but still worry way more than we’d like to.

Worth quoting: “Worrying is wasteful. It costs you time, energy, and/or money and gives you nothing useful in return.”

Why I chose it: 2019. New Year! New You! Just kidding. I’m exactly the same today as I was yesterday. But one of my goals for this year is to reduce my anxiety. While traveling recently, I was distracted by the following worries: whether the tiny bump on my cat’s lip was something horrible or just an injury from wrestling with his brother; whether our flight was going to be delayed to the point of missing our connection; if our cat sitter was going to lock herself out of the house, leading our cats to die of hunger or thirst; whether the car reservation at our destination was properly confirmed. Looking over that list, you’ll see that approximately 0% of that was within my control at that moment, yet it was causing my shoulders to rise closer and closer to my ears. Then I saw this book and thought “yeah, I probably should calm the fuck down.”

Review:I’ve read Ms. Knight’s other books, and while they weren’t always what I was looking for, I do like her style and tone. This is definitely my favorite of hers that I’ve read, and I think her approach is one that could really work for me. I’m going to share the basics below (mostly for my own information), but she doesn’t such a great job of illustrating her points — the tarantula story is especially clever — that you should definitely not take the below as a substitute for the real thing.Okay? Let’s go.

The overarching theme is that we should try to get to a point where we can address our worries from a point of logic, not emotion. Hard to do, obviously. But here are the three big points:

  • Acknowledge what has happened
  • Accept what you cannot control
  • Address what you can control

Ms. Knight suggests there are four main faces your worry might take: anxiety, sadness, anger, or denial (she’s calls it ostriching). I have definitely seen my worry turn to anxiety and anger (with the occasional sadness thrown in); I’m not much for completely ignoring problems, but I can see how that might be appealing. This part is helpful if you’re not aware of how you tend to act in moments, but it’s not the most … necessary part of the book.

That comes next, with her repetition around the “one question to rule them all”: Can I Control It? And can I control it within reason. Like, I can control never being the passenger in a plane crash by never flying, but that’s not an option for me. So, once I’m in the plane, can I control whether the plane gets there? Nope.

This point is so key, and possibly so obvious to people who don’t find themselves staring at the ceiling at 3 AM because of something they said at work two weeks ago that literally no one cared about or noticed. But for the rest of us, it helps to be reminded.

The second part of the book really focuses on treating worries logically. She asks us to take a worry and put it on a scale:

  • Highly Unlikely
  • Possible But Not Likely
  • Likely
  • Highly Likely
  • Inevitable

And then, determine the timing: is it outlying, imminent, or already happening? And then, can I control it?

From there, she offers some tips on how to let go of the things that we can’t control. One option is PHEW (productive, helpful, and effective worrying), which is essentially taking action about certain things you can control. For example, with my cat’s lip, once I thought about how we could, if necessary, have a vet come to the home while the cat sitter is there and we’re on vacation, I stopped being so concerned (he’s fine, by the way).

I have generally been fairly good at coming up with solutions to my anxieties, but letting go of the ones I can’t control has been challenging. I think a big part has been treating every worry as equally likely and imminent, which is just absurd. And this book has helped me recognize that.

That said, I can always use some good tips for managing the shitstorms (her word) in my life, and part three of the book offers some. Her principles of dealing with shit include taking stock, identifying my realistic ideal outcome, and then triaging what needs to be done first, second, etc. She illustrates this section with loads of examples, which I enjoyed a lot.

The final part is a choose your own adventure bit, meant to solidify all the concepts, but I didn’t find it to be as helpful. But others might enjoy it!

Keep it / Donate it / Toss it: Keep it. Definitely.



December 2018



It’s Been a Bit of a Year

Written by , Posted in Adventures

Six days into 2018 we moved out of our house and over to Resham and Jill’s place for a few days so we could get it ready for our renters. Nine days into 2018 we woke up at 2:15 A.M., corralled Jameson and Tigger into kennels and dropped them off at cargo at 3:30 A.M., then spent the next 18 hours traveling to London, our new home.

It has been a wild ride this year. I documented a lot of it over on my site in the hopes of helping out others who choose to make the move from the US to the UK. Banking was harder that expected. Finding a place to live was easier than expected, but figuring out how to pay for the deposit and first months of rent without a bank account was challenging and involved three different wire transfer services. I left my full-time job, but was able to work remotely for the same organization for nearly six months (which was critical for our finances and my mental health).

I watched my partner try to find his place in a new job that wasn’t entirely as expected (though, to be fair, what job turns out exactly as imagined?) I also struggled with what I wanted to do with my life. Moving to the UK meant essentially giving up my career, which on the one hand, yikes, but on the other hand, sweet. I was good at emergency management planning, but I didn’t like it, and the UK system differs enough that I couldn’t really find work in my field even if I wanted to. So, what to do? Try to build a writing career? Find a 9-5 job that pays the bills? Be a stay-at-home wife and learn to make all our clothes and food since salaries in London are much lower than in Seattle?

Ultimately, I was lucky enough to get my foot in the door of higher education, a field I’ve wanted to get into for many years. It’s basically entry level professional, and that’s good. I’m getting to see all sides of the field, learning how things work and what the big issues are. I’m only three weeks in, but I’m liking it.

Moving across the world can be hard on friendships. I have done it before – leaving Seattle for NYC, NYC for London, and London for Seattle. Because of that experience, I did know what to expect. Plus, social media is way more of a thing now than when I last moved, and services like WhatsApp mean I can text friends in the US for free. But many of my friends are in different places is their lives now, and they don’t have the time they used to. I left Facebook for a few months but ultimately returned because I didn’t know what was going on with some of my friends, and that was the easiest way to see what was up. Some US friends text with me weekly or daily; one friend sends me updates on my niece (we even managed to have our annual Christmas tea even though we’re eight hours apart). Others reach out with the occasional Facebook message or email, and I try so hard to do the same.

Given all that, this move has definitely been helpful in accepting that friendships change over the years. And it’s also reassuring, because even though I’ve been away from my London friends for years, with most of them it seemed like no time had passed! From my weekly lunches with Sumedh, to my WhatsApp group with Lesley and Alissa, to texting with Simran (who is now not only a friend but a coworker). I’ve not seen as much as I’d like of other friends, but that’s how life goes sometimes.

It’s also been a time of figuring out how to adult on a whole other level. In addition to the aforementioned banking frustrations, we also became landlords, as we didn’t want to sell our Seattle home. We found FANTASTIC tenants, but still had to deal with stuff like utility companies refusing to transfer bills to our tenants, figuring out how to collect rent when we’re overseas (may I recommend to any similarly situated folks?), and managing a contracting job from 6,000 miles away when the dishwasher broke and screwed up our floor and the ceiling below. In 2019, we’ll also have to shift to having paid property managers, which means we might have to cover some of our mortgage with savings. But it’s worth it.

With my writing I try to be honest, and this year-end review has been a bit heavy on the challenges, so allow me to indulge in recognizing the awesomeness that was this year as well:

  • Jason and Kelly already had plans to visit London, which meant we got to see dear friends just a month after moving here
  • Amanda came out for a long weekend (and was a trooper, given she was at the start of her second trimester)
  • Don and Judy visited us after spending some time in the midlands
  • We spent five days in Lisbon, Portugal celebrating our five-year wedding anniversary
  • Allegra, John and their two children spent a couple of nights with us before heading over to Italy
  • We met up with Jamie, Mike, Jesse, and Jamie’s parents in Paris
  • We hosted Stephanie and Gavin for a few days, then traveled with them to Iceland for a long weekend
  • We met up with Danielle and Darren in Berlin and explored Christmas markets
  • We spent an entire week in the Hebrides in Scotland over Christmas
  • I joined a football club and play two-three days a week
  • Austin helped START A UNION and is serving as its first Secretary
  • I ran my first half marathon in seven years

Next year we’re going to see the Women’s World Cup in France with two sets of dear friends, spend a week in the US with Austin’s family, and spend the holidays back on the west coast. We have a list of places to visit in Europe and in the UK. Austin will be busy with the union. I’m still writing, and How Not to Be A Jerk When is still chugging away. I’ll keep trying to find an agent for the book I wrote four years ago. We’ll both keep doing our best at work. And of course, I’ll still be reading and reviewing books for Cannonball Read.

Despite the challenges, I’m happy our little family decided to take this leap. This year — this move — has been, and continues to be, an adventure. Here’s to more of that in 2019.



December 2018



2018 In Books

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This year I participated in my sixth Cannonball Read. I read 70 books, which is fewer than I thought I would, given I didn’t have a full-time job for the vast majority of the year. Alas, I think I allowed myself to get stuck on books I wasn’t enjoying (and my attempt at a Blackout BINGO didn’t help that), which led me to put off reading the books I really wanted. So out with that in 2019.

I read 36 books with male authors, 34 books with female authors, and two books with authors whose gender I couldn’t determine. I’m sad to say this is my first year where I read a majority male authors. However, eight of those books were from two male authors: a series of five Icelandic mysteries, and the Crazy Rich Asian trilogy (I had to get ready for the movie!), whereas each of the 34 books were written by different women.

This year 56 of the books were written by white people, eight by Asian people, seven by Black people, and two by people of Middle Eastern descent. The country of origin for authors was broader this year: one each from France, Ireland, Norway, and New Zealand; two from Canada; three from Singapore (all the same author); five from Iceland (all the same author); 26 from the UK and 30 from the USA.

I still prefer non-fiction to fiction, though this year I found myself sucked into a couple of series (and attempted to read fiction to meet BINGO requirements), so I read more fiction that usual. It was a 1:2 fiction to non-fiction ratio, whereas it’s been as low as 1:5 in years past.

In terms of genre, I think the number are a bit misleading, as literature is the top category (17 books), but only because so much of the fiction I read doesn’t have a better category for me to assign it. My second-most read genre was sociology (13 books), followed by memoir (10 books), travel (eight books), and mystery (those five Icelandic murder mysteries). I read three each of YA novels, history books, and health books; two philosophy books, and one each of fantasy and science fiction.

As part of my participation in Cannonball Read, I do rank each book on a 1 (make it stop) to 5 (this is the best thing ever) scale. And while I didn’t give out any 1s this year, upon further reflection I do think one book deserved that rating. Overall, I averaged a 3.67 rating, with five books earning two stars and nine books earning 5 stars.

I read a lot this year about my new town, which I probably won’t be doing as much in 2019. I also found myself waiting for books that were already out in the US but hadn’t reached the UK yet, which I’m not used to doing. That said, being in a new country means that when I wander into a bookshop, the displays offer up authors I’ve not run into yet in the US, so I find myself reading from a broader selection. It’s a nice change.

The best non-fiction book I read this year was Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race. It was fantastic, and it’s a book I recommend literally everyone read.

The best fiction was probably Sadie by Courtney Summers. It weaves in true crime podcasting with the realities of the people profiled in those podcasts.

Meanwhile, the worst book I read this year was, hands down, Between the Bridge and the River by Craig Ferguson. Ooof, what a waste of time and money.

As for 2019 – I don’t know what my book life will look like. I’m back working full time, so I do have a commute that I can use to read more. I have about 60 unread books mocking me at home, so I think this will be the year of starting a book and, if I truly am not into it, just donating it and letting it go. I definitely want to challenge myself and learn, so I’m not going to give up on books that are hard, but I know I’ve stuck with books just because, and that needs to end now. Life is too short, and there are way too many great books out there waiting to be read.



December 2018



What I’m Reading – 16 December 2018

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Horrific Actions by US Customs and Border Patrol

“The Border Patrol’s inhumane treatment of migrants predates the family separation policy, as well. In January, it was reported that Border Patrol agents routinely destroy food and water that humanitarian groups leave for migrants. “The practice of destruction of and interference with aid is not the deviant behavior of a few rogue border patrol agents,” the report read, “it is a systemic feature of enforcement practices in the borderlands.” Caal isn’t the first child to die after being held in DHS custody.” A 7-Year-Old Died in Border Patrol Custody, and No One Is Taking Responsibility (by Ryan Bort for Rolling Stone)


“Sterling was allegedly racially abused during City’s 2-0 defeat at Chelsea. “It is evident that he is often singled out and treated more harshly than his colleagues,” said a union statement. “As such, these stories are fuelling racism within the game, as reports of racist abuse continue to rise.” Raheem Sterling negative press coverage ’emboldens racist rhetoric’ – PFA (BBC)

Supporting Mothers

“Players coming back from childbirth, or injury, will now be able to use their previous ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a three-year period. But Serena Williams’ wish for returning mothers to be seeded in line with that ranking has not been granted. The WTA has instead decided to guarantee they will not face a seeded player in a tournament’s opening round.” WTA gives increased protection for returning mothers on tour for 2019 (by Russell Fuller for BBC)

Military-Industrial Complex

“The US Senate has voted to withdraw US military aid for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen and to blame the kingdom’s crown prince for the murder of a journalist. The historic vote is the first time any chamber of US Congress has agreed to pull US forces from a military conflict under the 1973 War Powers Act. Some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans defied him to pass the measure with Democrats by 56-41.” Senators vote to end US backing for Saudi war on Yemen (BBC)

Religious Bigotry

“According to McAvoy, she was dressed in black slacks, a black shirt and a black hijab when President Joyce Meadows removed her from classes and sent her home with a notice the 21-year-old would need to provide a note confirming her hijab was being worn for religious reasons. McAvoy has refused to turn over confirmation and questions why she would be ejected from her classes for practicing her faith.” Muslim College Student Says She Was Expelled For Wearing A Hijab To Class (by Alexa Lisitza for Blavity)



December 2018



What I’m Reading – December 9, 2018

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Reproductive Rights

“If successful, the women in the lawsuit will each be entitled to millions of dollars of reparations from the Saskatchewan and Canadian governments and their health systems. While these women may only represent a fraction of the people negatively affected by forced sterilization in Canada, their lawsuit is recognition of the ubiquity of the practice—and its consequences.” Sterilized Without Consent: Indigenous Women in Canada File Class Action Lawsuit   (by Anna Kusmer for Rewire)


“There are calls for several Icelandic MPs to resign after they were recorded using crude language to describe female colleagues and a disabled activist. Icelanders were especially shocked that the MPs’ targets included ex-MP Freyja Haraldsdottir, a disabled woman and well-known disability rights activist. Iceland has long been seen as a beacon for women’s rights and has a female prime minister, Katrin Jakobsdottir.” Iceland scandal over MPs’ crude and sexist bar talk (by Laurence Peter for BBC)

Customs, Immigration, and Border Control Bad Acts

“MPs said it showed the government had learned nothing from the scandal. The Windrush scandal was uncovered earlier this year, after many people from Commonwealth countries who had legally lived in Britain for decades were wrongly classed as illegal immigrants and deported.They had been encouraged by the UK government to settle in Britain from the late 1940s until 1973. However, although they had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, some immigrants did not have formal paperwork confirming their residency status.” Windrush: Home Office criticised after deportees not contacted (BBC)

Women in Sport

Six Sheffield United women players will miss Wednesday’s cup tie at Manchester City because they cannot leave work in time for the 19:00 GMT kick-off. The Blades, who play in the Women’s Championship, are a part-time set-up – and some of their players cannot make it to Manchester in time. The Continental Cup kick-off time was agreed at the start of the season. United’s attempts to delay it were turned down by City because they had sold tickets and booked stadium staff. Blades players to miss Man City cup tie because kick-off clashes with work (by Alistair Magowan for BBC)

Sexual Assault

“By contrast, under these new proposed rules, Michigan State University would have had no responsibility to stop Larry Nassar from sexually abusing girls and young women, just because his victims told their coaches and athletic trainers instead of the Title IX coordinator. The proposed rules would allow the majority of school employees to ignore students who report sexual abuse because these employees lack “the authority to institute corrective measures.” So, if an 8-year-old child tells a playground supervisor that his teacher is inappropriately touching him, the playground supervisor wouldn’t be obligated to do anything. If a college student tells her professor that she has been sexually assaulted, the professor wouldn’t have to help her at all. Students may not know where they could turn for help.” The Proposed Title IX Rules Make No Practical, Moral, or Legal Sense (by Shiwali Patel for Rewire)

The Screwed-Up US Insurance System

“Over the summer months, the women raised $12,500 and sent it to the debt-forgiveness charity, which then purchased a portfolio of $1.5 million of medical debts on their behalf, for about half a penny on the dollar. Ms. Jones, 80, a retired chemist, and Ms. Kenyon, 70, a psychoanalyst, are members of the Finger Lakes chapter of the Campaign for New York Health, which supports universal health coverage through passage of the New York Health Act.” 2 New Yorkers Erased $1.5 Million in Medical Debt for Hundreds of Strangers (by Sharon Otterman for the New York Times)

“That’s a message public health leaders aim to spread far and wide. “BE PREPARED. GET NALOXONE. SAVE A LIFE,” summarized an advisory from the U.S. surgeon general in April. But life insurers consider the use of prescription drugs when reviewing policy applicants. And it can be difficult to tell the difference between someone who carries naloxone to save others and someone who carries naloxone because they are at risk for an overdose.” Why You May Be Denied Life Insurance For Carrying Naloxone (by Martha Bebinger for WBUR)