Friday 5: Gimme One Reason

This is the Friday 5 from April 7, which I didn’t get around to answering for pretty obvious reasons.

Now I’m a week behind on Friday 5 posts, but that works out for me. The questions sometimes go up relatively late in the day (at least here in Stockholm), so it used to be a bit of a rush to get them out on time. Now I have a whole week to answer them!

First, some appropriate tunes:

What makes you unreasonably irritated?

I like to think that most of the things that irritate me are reasonable. 😉

What are you unreasonably particular about?

Punctuation! Spelling! Grammar! Language usage! But then, only if you pay me to be. Or if I think you’re someone who should know better. (A book I was otherwise enjoying from Kindle Press talked about a “heart-warming antidote.” I hope someone will fix that in an updated edition, because the author and the rest of the story deserve better!)

What’s something that’s unreasonably complicated?

Oh man, doing taxes. I don’t mind paying them, because I understand they’re a necessary part of a functioning society, but all of the surrounding paperwork is nightmarish, and I don’t think it needs to be. The US, compared to many other countries, has a nightmarish and needlessly complicated tax-paying process (as opposed to needless or oppressive taxes). In Sweden, for example, most people can just pay their taxes by SMS. It’s not quite that easy for me, as a freelancer, but it’s also not so bad. There are also multiple umbrella companies out there whose sole purpose is to make the whole tax process easier for freelancers; I just made life harder for myself for no good reason.

I think if we revamped the tax-filing and tax-paying system and made it easier and less of a hassle, more Americans wouldn’t be so incensed about paying taxes.

What are the best reasons for working in your field?

As far as teaching goes, it’s immensely satisfying to feel like you are immediately and concretely making someone’s life better. Your work isn’t useless or pointless. Unfortunately, this idealism is too often leveraged against teachers, effectively bullying them into working beyond their paygrade or the original scope of their work, because how dare they prioritize something like money above their students?

My feelings about copyediting are similar. You’re helping someone create the best product possible. You can see the results of your work immediately and you know that it matters (to the author, if no one else!). People at least seem to value copyeditors a little more than teachers—at least, their commitment to helping others isn’t used as a bargaining chip to deny copyeditors the pay or resources they deserve and need to do their job.

What are some good reasons for the most recent silly purchase you made?

I don’t typically make “silly” purchases. The closest thing to a silly purchase that I’ve made at all recently was some shredded cauliflower marketed as “cauliflower rice.” I know it’s a marketing tactic (“cauliflower rice” sounds more appealing than “shredded cauliflower”; people generally like rice more than they like cauliflower), but I just wanted some pre-shredded cauliflower. I knew it wasn’t going to taste like rice, and I wasn’t buying it because I thought it would, so I don’t know if that really counts.

Friday 5: Quarters

The first quarter of 2017 is now behind us. How has it been?

I guess not as awful as it could have been.

How has this past quarter of your life been surprisingly good?

Partner spontaneously decided to clean up (and clean out) the apartment.

When did you last drop quarters into a vending machine?

I think I used coins at a vending machine at some point this year, but I can’t remember when.

How do you feel about your state’s twenty-five-cent coin? If you’re not in the U.S., which of the coins do you think is especially striking?

I’m originally from Pennsylvania, and our state quarter leaves much to be desired.

 

 

There’s a Gettysburg quarter that’s slightly better:

Our license plates are uninspiring, too. When I was a kid, we had the gold on blue (or blue on gold) “Keystone State”/”You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania” tags. Now there’s no quip or state nickname, just an advertisement for the commonwealth’s official tourism web page. Ugly. You can look at them all here, if you want.

Our state slogan was mediocre for a while, too. I still think we should bring “You’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania” out of retirement, but I’ll admit that “Pursue your happiness” (current slogan) beats out “State of independence” (previous slogan).

Google’s corporate headquarters is called the Googleplex. What would be a good name for the corporate headquarters of your life?

The Kitchen. Since that’s where I actually do most of my work. Stay humble, never forget your roots, etc.

Friday 5: Food Me Once; Food Me Twice

What do you like on your frozen yogurt?

Jimmies and crumbled Oreos, mostly. I don’t actually care for chocolate syrup on frozen yogurt or ice cream. I can’t explain what it is, but I don’t like it.

When patronizing those frozen yogurt establishments with an overwhelming buffet of possible toppings, I have been known to add Fruity Pebbles. I don’t consider that an essential frozen yogurt topping, though.

How do you feel about hot breakfast cereals?

In theory I like them a lot; in practice I can’t be bothered with the extra step of warming them up so I never have them. If I need something warm in the morning, I Just have extra tea.

What did you last put brown sugar in or on?

When was the last time I made chocolate chip cookies? Brown sugar is one of those items that I end up (shamefacedly!) wasting a lot of because I need it infrequently, but you can only buy it in relatively large quantities.

What’s a food item you willingly overpay for?

Pre-chopped frozen vegetables. Sure, I know how to cut a bell pepper, but it’s worth the time saved to just get them in little pieces already.

I also have an obsession with Celestial Seasonings brand tea. In the US this isn’t too much of a problem, but in Stockholm that can get a little ridiculous.

What did you last add vinegar to?

I only use vinegar (balsamic) sparingly on salads. My preferences lean heavily towards the “oil” part of “oil and vinegar.”

Friday 5: Picture This

What’s your favorite monster movie?

Oh, goodness. I’ve seen a respectable amount of off-brand monster movies, thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000, RiffTrax, and Cinematic Titanic. Can I pick a favorite? If I had to, I’d say The Horror of Party Beach and The Wasp Woman.

What’s your favorite social issues movie?

I’m not sure what would qualify as a social issues movie? It can be hard to tackle complex social issues elegantly in the space of (more or less) two hours. Off the top of my head, I’d say: P. K. (religious dogma and prejudice), Lilies of the Field (race relations in mid-century America), and Ship of Fools (anti-Semitism in the run-up to World War II).

What’s a movie you dislike in a genre you love?

There are too many bad comedies to name.

What’s a movie you like in a genre you dislike?

There aren’t too many film genres I outright dislike. I admit to not liking slasher movies a whole lot, but I didn’t mind the House of Wax reboot? remake? that came out a few years ago. (I still prefer the original Vincent Price version, of course.)

What’s a movie everyone else has seen but you have not seen?

Up until a couple of years ago, my first answer to this question was  Bladerunner (extra shameful because my final project in philosophy was on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). Now, I’m not sure what that would be. The first one that comes to mind is Saving Private Ryan, but I’m sure there are others.

Friday 5: Count All the Bees in the Hive

Which of the Winnie-the-Pooh characters do you most relate to?

Rabbit, I suppose? I like to read, I can be bossy, and I find real-life Tiggers to be very trying.

 

The original Winnie the Pooh toys

Which of the Winnie-the-Pooh characters has qualities you’d find most attractive in a romantic partner?

My own partner is very much a Piglet, if that’s any indication!

 

In what way have you “wandered much further” today than you should?

I’m only answering this in the morning, so the day has hardly begun, really. I’ll admit to sleeping in a little, but only a little.
Of Winnie-the-Pooh stories you can remember (from the books, Disney cartoons, or other sources), which is your favorite?

To be honest, I don’t remember much from Winnie-the-Pooh. I know I liked the Disney adaptation of “Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day” when I was younger. I was also quite enamored with the word “blustery” and immediately set about using it in real life.

I also like the Russian animated adaptations. The art is so charming! The crayon backgrounds look just like a child’s drawing, which I think is very appropriate for Winnie-the-Pooh. Plus, this version of Piglet is absolutely adorable.

There are only three, but they’re all freely available on YouTube. Here is the first Винни Пух adaptation: В которой мы знакомимся с Винни-Пухом и несколькими подозрительными пчелами. (In which we meet Winnie the Pooh and a few suspicious bees.)

 

Which quote from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories would be good for the epigraph in the book about your life?

“I’ve got a sort of idea, but I don’t suppose it’s a very good one.”

Friday 5 on Sunday: Something’s Astir

What did you last use a spatula for?

Nothing.

One of my Swedish friends here was an exchange student in the US when he was younger, and somehow the question of kitchen implements came up often. It turned out that his host family didn’t really know what to call anything, either, so any unknown kitchen implement was just immediately labeled “spatula.”
What did you last use your can opener for?

We don’t even have a can opener!
What did you last pick up with a pair of tongs?

I don’t think we even have tongs? So probably a baked good at the store or Pressbyran.

A clay jar with a metal ladle and wooden kitchen implements in an out-of-focus kitchen.
What did you last use a ladle for?

Chili, I think.
What did you last stir with a wooden spoon?

Some boiling pasta, to get it to settle down a little.

Friday 5: Rest

When did you last need a few days of complete rest and nothing else?

I feel like that every day, to be honest. I had a really gnarly chest cold for most of February that kept me relatively housebound. I’m better now, but the first two weeks were unpleasant, to say the least.

 

How do you keep yourself occupied when you have to be in bed all day and night?

Music; reading; reviewing vocabulary on Anki, Memrise, DuoLingo, and Clozemaster; sleeping.

 

Who do you most want to hear from when you have to withdraw to your bed for a few days of rest?

It depends. Whenever I have to go into self-imposed quarantine, it means I have a lot of time to just think; often, I’ll remember a story or a question I had for someone in particular. But usually I can just send them a message on Gchat or Facebook, so I don’t have to make immediate plans to see them when I’m feeling better.

 

What adverse effects have you experienced while staying in bed for a few days?

I don’t like the deconditioning and loss of stamina/energy I notice when I feel better enough to go running again.

 

When you first notice a few symptoms, are you more likely to shut everything down right away, or try to power through until you don’t have a choice anymore?

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I try to take it as easy as possible right from the beginning, including lots of garlic, zinc, and lemon tea.

Friday Five: Hold On to the Knight

A blogging tradition I’ve followed elsewhere for years now is The Friday Five. I thought it would be fun to bring it over to my professional space, too—to take a peak at the woman behind the curtain, so to speak. This week’s theme is chess, in honor of Deep Blue’s historic (or is that historical?) victory over Garry Kasparov on this date in 1996.

1. When and how did you learn to play chess?

I think at some point my dad tried to teach me and my brother. He had grown up playing a lot of chess with his brother and I think he wanted us to learn, too, but it never really took for either of us. I think I still have an Usborne Guide to Chess he gave me for Christmas one year somewhere. Since then, I’ve tried a couple times to “really learn how to play this time.” It seems to be a whim that hits me every couple of years, but never really sticks.

When it comes to black-and-white strategy board games, I had a slightly better time with Othello (or Reversi, if you prefer), but only slightly. My mom, maybe among the last people you would ever suspect of being strategic and crafty, habitually destroyed me at it. I’m sure if she had been born in another time and place, she would have been a champion Go player.

 

2. How is your chess game?

As you can probably imagine, not very good.

 

3. When did you last find yourself in a stalemate?

As a rule, I try to avoid conflict and confrontation with people. The closest thing to a stalemate would be, I guess, my critique group stalling out in scheduling an upcoming make-up meeting. Yes, not quite a stalemate, but like I said—the closest I get.

 

4. A gambit is a chess opening in which a player sacrifices a piece in hopes of gaining an advantageous position. What was one of your recent, real-world gambits?

I think one of the problems I have with chess is that I have a tendency to hoard pieces. Even though the mechanics of the game dictate that both players have to lose pieces in order for the board to open up and for play to really begin, I can never feel totally comfortable losing a piece. I think I maintain that attitude in real life as well.

 

5. Which piece on the chessboard is most like you, and why?

I suppose the bishop: I’m narrow in my interests, but within them I’m quite knowledgeable. Or maybe the knight: I eventually get to where I’m going, but my path is a little more roundabout than other people’s.