me by ddb

Plague Diary: In Which I Bike in Cleveland (Well, Technically Maple Heights)

I went to the main campus for the Cleveland Clinic today to get my ID badge.  Once again, the automated fingerprint reader had trouble reading my fingerprints.  We eventually got that done, but it was a bit irritating.  On my drive there, I saw a barber barbering in a barber shop, without a mask.  I involuntarily cried, "Why, my dude, why?)

When I got home, it was about 37 degrees, and I have not been on a bike since November 23rd.  I could check my records, but I'm pretty sure that's the longest I've gone without a bike ride since I started riding in May.  I got Jezebel, my folding e-bike, out of my car, unfolded her, and set off in a random direction.  I was basically planning on just doing a couple of miles.  I took whatever road looked interesting and not too busy, and trusted that Google Maps would bring me home again.  This did, indeed, work, and I ended up riding about 6 miles.  I got honked at for riding in a perfectly safe and legal fashion on a slightly busy street.  Welcome to Cleveland, I guess.  The pedal assist is, among other things, really easy on my knees, to the point where I'm wondering if I can ride without my braces.  It was a lovely ride, even though it was a very dark, grey day.  I wore my high visibility vest, and put on the blinkies front and back.  Then I folded Jezebel all by my self (first time I've done it without David's help) and put her back in my car.  It was a lovely ride.  Even if I only get another couple rides this season, it will have been worth it to pack Jezebel. 

There's a squeaky rattle in the front.  I suppose I should see if I can find a local bike shop.  Sigh.

I start work on Monday.   I'm very excited.

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Plague Diary: In Which I Admire Cleveland

I have been freed from Durance Vile!  In celebration, I WENT OUT and DID THINGS.

The first thing I did was drive to Warrensville Heights, to the Bed, Bath, and Beyond there because they have a 2 quart dutch oven that should fit in the toaster oven and enable me to make bread, and it was on sale.  I was a bit croggled by the sign on the door that said that the store was rated for 576 customers.  That seems appalling in non-pandemic times.  In pandemic times, yeah, fucking terrifying.  There were, however, nowhere near that many people.  I found the dutch oven I wanted, in a fetching blue, and a cheese grater.  There was a Staples in the same strip mall, so I went there to get a Sharpie (how did I ever decide to leave the house without one?) and some scotch tape, which I will need when it finally comes time to wind the last skein of silk into a ball.  

I got in my car, told der Google to take me to downtown Cleveland, and did what it told me.  Please do not ask me about routing, as I couldn't answer if I tried.  It has been a grey, grey day with short spats of pellet-snow and brief moments when the clouds part and the winter sun shines down clear as crystal and sharp as a knife.  Warrensville Heights felt, topologically, very much like the Midwest.  Rolling hills, that sort of thing.  As I drove to Cleveland, there was this abrupt change to topology and architecture which felt extremely Rust Belt.  Very reminiscent of Pittsburgh, although the hills aren't nearly as steep.  I got to Cleveland, and decided that it was cold and I was lazy, so I didn't get out of the car.  Instead, I just tootled around in my car.  

I like Cleveland.  I mean, to look at.  I haven't really interacted with it as a city, so much, so this is entirely looks.  But the downtown is actually rather lovely.  The Standard Building and the Rockefeller Building were both stand outs.  There was this weird monument that I couldn't really get close to that had some dates in the nineteenth century on it, so I'm thinking probably a Civil War monument of some sort.  It had a bunch of lovely muted earth tones, and some heroic figures and a very tall pillar.  I shall go back and look at it more closely.  There were other bits of lovely public art, a strange green man reaching for the sky while standing on a swirling sphere.  No idea what that's about, but I liked it.  A huge huge rubber stamp that says "free".  A weird black tube, twisted in a shape that reminds me of what I used to do to paperclips when I was stressed, at least a story high.  I got glimpses of the lake, but it is supposed to be much nicer, later this week, so I plan to go back when it is warmer and there is reliable sunshine.

Cleveland was pretty empty, for a Monday afternoon.  I do not know how much of that is because of the pandemic and how much of that is because the city core is in trouble.  Probably a combination, if I had to guess.  I think a majority of the people I saw out and about were black. This is notably different from Minneapolis, but in a very welcome way.  I grew up in a multi-racial neighborhood, and my hindbrain associates a a mixture of skin tones as safe and welcoming.  (More precisely, I grew up in a neighborhood that was experiencing block busting, and the only two races were white and black, with the former fleeing year by year and the latter increasing year by year, but I honestly never noticed that at the time.)

I then drove to Trader Joe's, picked up enough frozen dinners to last me for two weeks of lunches (my freezer is now full) and some other basics.  Although they were metering people, Trader Joe's was uncomfortably crowded.  I was masked, and so was everyone else, but it was really difficult stay at least 6 feet away, and it was just....I mean, I haven't seen people in a while, so maybe that was part of it?  But man, it felt close and worrying.  I will try to figure out a less busy time to go.  At this exact moment in time, I should probably be both somewhat immune and not contagious, but I don't really want to count on that.  I am very, very careful about being masked when I am out of the house.

When I got home, there were GIFT SPICES.  Thank you, Ambyr.  I am delighted and pleased.  

The toaster oven is preheating with the dutch oven inside.  In mere moments, I'm going to go put the bread in it, and see what happens.  I have no idea how long to cook it for, no idea how well the toaster oven will manage, it's all very uncertain and I'm excited to see what happens next.  

ETA: the bread came out fabulous.  Life is just great, this very instant in time.  I'll take it. 

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Plague Diary: In Which I Have No Cardinal Direction

I just want to say that the sheer number of people who have helpfully informed me that if I wish to see Lake Erie all I need to do is drive north is adorable.  The idea that I, Lydia Nickerson, could somehow use that as information that would help me choose a direction in which to point my vehicle points to a touching faith in my ability to, I dunno, read a map, maybe?  I have literally no idea what direction North is from here.  I have a vague feeling that Minneapolis is West of here and NYC is East of here, but I honestly would not want to bet money on it.
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Plague Diary: In Which I Plan to Leave the House!

Tomorrow will be 14 days from my positive test.  I have had almost no symptoms the entire time, and what symptoms I have had could plausibly be attributed to stress or allergies.  But by every metric I have seen, I should be safe for public consumption tomorrow. 

I plan to figure out where downtown Cleveland is, and drive there.  Also, to go to Trader Joe's for some basics.  (I am running out of Manchego cheese, for instance.)  Maybe I will also try to figure out where Lake Eerie is.  I'm told it's very big, so it shouldn't be hard to find.

If anyone has any opinions about things that are nice to see in Cleveland that don't involve going inside, do mention them in comments.  

I am definitely getting cabin fever, at this point, despite how nice my little apartment is. 
me by ddb

Plague Diary: In Which I Buy Fripperies

So, I ended up buying the Aquarian Tarot and the New Palladini Tarot, because the art style really appealed to me, and I couldn't choose between them.  I was also entranced by the Hush Tarot (  but I don't feel that I could read with the deck, although I very much like the art.  

I was yesterday years old when I discovered that there is such a thing as an insulated skirt.  And then I found this:

So, yeah.  It's expensive, but Naomi Kritzer said that if I thought of it as a winter coat for my legs, it was reasonably priced.  So, yeah.

I think I have too much time on my hands, or something.  But I bet that skirt is fucking amazing.  
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Plague Diary: In Which I Wish I Had a Tarot Deck

I own...not many.  Five?  Six?  I find that I wish I had packed one, and now I'm thinking that maybe I should use this as an opportunity to buy a new one.  I'm looking for suggestions.  

My favorite deck has been the Morgan Greer deck, which is pretty  much the Rider-Waite deck, but with the people somewhat more foregrounded.  I dislike Crowley's deck, the name of which I cannot recall; it has too much non-consensual power in it.  I don't want a deck that's many different art styles.  I do care about the artwork, though.  I want full color, not black and white.  I do not resonate to plants.  I am not interested in very modern or very twee.  I don't want something heavily inflected by an ethnicity I do not have, so things like Celtic or Egyptian or African or whatever are just not going to speak to me.  Oh, round cards are right out.  I am reasonably traditional, but not very serious.  Extra points if it comes with a booklet or cheat sheet.   Oh, round cards are right out.  And I am not willing to spend huge amounts of money.

Should I just get another Morgan Greer or Rider-Waite?  Or is there something cool out there I should look at?

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Plague Diary: Plague Diary

So, I want to make a quick record of possible symptoms, in case I need to rely upon it later.  I'll put it behind a cut, because you may well not want it in your feed.  But I don't have any of the most notable symptoms.  No fever, no shortness of breath not explained by exertion, and reasonable SpO2.  

Collapse ) 

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Plague Diary: In Which I Have the Plague

In preparation for my gig in Cleveland, and because I had a minor gastric event, I submitted a saliva test, administered on Nov. 23rd.  Today, while at a rest stop in Illinois, I checked my email, and found that the result was positive.

I am currently in Indiana, and will go on to Cleveland and quarantine there.  I have informed my employer, and he will inform the Cleveland Clinic, and let me know how to proceed on Monday.  Even if the contract goes up in smoke, I will stay in Cleveland until I'm safe to go home.

I am very, very worried about my family.  I am somewhat worried about myself.  

As our president has said, It is what it is.  It didn't need to be this way, but it is. 
me by ddb

Queen's Gambit on Netflix2

"Queen's Gambit" is a 7 part series on Netflix about Beth Harmon, who is a hot mess but really really good at chess.  It is set in the mid-Sixties, and most chess people seem to think that the chess is pretty good.  I have declared bankruptcy when it comes to chess.  I might remember which pieces move how, but I can't even remember how to castle.  So, yeah, I cannot critique the chess.  The actress who plays Beth is really, really good, and that is probably the biggest strength of the show.  One of the things I actually liked a lot is that Beth's emotional landscape is sufficiently alien that it seems incomprehensible, to me.  It is consistent and coherent, but not emotionally accessible.  And I really liked that.  I'm pretty neurotypical, and most non-neurotypical representation spends a lot of time trying to explain and explicate.  Beth just Is who she is.  There is a ton of stuff to like in this show, and I liked it quite a bit.  In the end, though, I have some very serious problems with it.  In my opinion, it had some extremely important failures.

Collapse )In the end, although I really enjoyed it, it felt like a huge set of missed opportunities, and more like cotton candy than a substantive piece -- except for the chess which was evidently quite substantive.  Unfortunately I don't know enough chess to appreciate that bit.

I have no problems with spoilers in the comments.  This post should serve as a cut-tag for spoilers.
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Plague Diary: In which I Am Employed, Probably

I am not yet at the end of my extended unemployment benefits, but I can see it from here.  I've really been ramping up my job search, and worrying about various options.  One of the facts I have been considering is that I have had no significant depressive episodes since I started working nights.  While correlation is not causation, it seems very likely that there really is a causal link.  I could work a day job.  I have done it before, I am fairly certain I could do it again.  But I think I would probably need significant chemical assistance, both in sleeping pills and possibly anti-depressants.  I am a big fan of better living through chemistry, but an even bigger fan of arranging one's life so that it isn't a fight every goddamn day.

There haven't been a lot of sleep tech opportunities in the Twin Cities, and I have not been chosen for the ones that I have applied for.  Presumably this is because every other unemployed sleep tech is also applying for them, and there are any number of very good techs out there.  So I also applied at two different traveling companies, that send you on a temporary basis to places that are looking for staff.  

The first recruiter I talked to was...not good.  In particular, he was very cavalier about the issue of housing.  I am, obviously, going to maintain my residence at Blaisdell Polytechnic, which means that I need to pay double rent.  The company did not provide housing or housing assistance, and everything that the recruiter said really seemed to imply that he was more comfortable working with 20-somethings who could fit their life into their car and who wanted to travel for fun.  He was waxing poetic about the joys of working in Florida.  Yeah...I'm not going to Florida.  It may be a small thing, but man it was also vastly off-putting that his voice mail signs off with "Have a blessed day."  Do people who do that have any idea how alienating that is for non-Christians?  At any rate, I haven't heard from him in several weeks.  

The second company I applied with is called Aureus Medical Group.  The recruiter seems all together more competent and serious.  (He did give me a weird pep-talk on how the job he was putting me in for was not a cake walk, and he hoped that I understood that I would actually be working.  In addition to that just being odd, it contrasted wildly with the other recruiter, who was all "Sometimes you can show up for a shift and they'll just send you home!" as if that were a special perq.)  The actual pay is not great, but they also pay a per diem for housing and food that is quite generous and pre-tax.  They do offer benefits, though they don't seem real good.  (Like vacation is a week after one year's work!)  The insurance will probably be better than nothing, but again, not spectacular.  However, it is work in my field, it is a night job, and I actually would like to work.

I had an interview with the recruiter, which went well, then filled out a ton of paperwork.  He said that he had three possibilities, and that he would put my application in to all three of them.  Later that day, I got a call from Cleveland Clinic, scheduled an interview.  Per my recruiter, they must have called me about 5 minutes after he put my application in.  I did well on the interview, they made me an offer, and I'm off to Cleveland.  I'll be working four tens, not three twelves, which is what I'm used to.  The shorter shift may well be nice, and the additional day probably doesn't matter that much, because I will not be having a social life.  There's still one piece of administrivia that we haven't sorted.  I asked to start after Thanksgiving, so I could have Thanksgiving at home.  Which means I need to leave the day following, and won't arrive until Saturday.  But I have to have my fingerprints done before starting work and I start work on Monday.  So, waiting for all that to get figured out.  

I found a small, not dire airbnb for quite cheap that is reasonably close to the Cleveland Clinic.  I've had a couple of email exchanges with the "host" and she seems perfectly nice.  It doesn't have a proper oven, so I don't know how I'm going to make bread.  There was a lovely lovely apartment for about $600 more a month, but as DDB pointed out, for the price differential for one month, I could buy a table-top oven. It's basically a bedroom, living room, and incredibly small kitchen that looks reasonable functional, though with very little storage space.  And a bathroom.  It's a stand-alone unit, I don't have to share space.  It is on the second floor, and I hate stairs, but well, such is life, right?  The neighborhood is "Maple Heights" if you know anything about Cleveland.  Me, I know nothing.  It looks fine on Google street-view.  Who knows?  I know no one in Cleveland.  On the other hand, it's not safe to socialize, anyway.  

I'm stressed and scared.  I do not know if this is safe or wise.  But because the government is what it is and has done what it has done, I'm up against it.  If they had just paid for everybody to stay home for six weeks, we could be looking like New Zealand.  But they didn't, and we don't.

Advice welcome, especially if you know Cleveland.