A New Way to Build Houses and Buildings

This looks like something I’ll want to learn more about:

“It will be a disaster if we try to accommodate a rising, urbanizing 21st century population with buildings made of concrete and steel, just as it will be a disaster if we try to do it with energy generated from fossil fuels.

Mass timber appears to be the only viable alternative. And it’s cool! It cuts down on waste and costs, opens up the possibility of factory-based mass production of low-cost housing, and has sparked the interest and creativity of the building community.”

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2020/1/15/21058051/climate-change-building-materials-mass-timber-cross-laminated-clt

The Least I Could Do

Yesterday, after buying a cup of tea and nine copies of Real Change, I cried in the grocery store.

It was cold out, below freezing. Snow fell off and on, some of it snow that had fallen the day before, stirred up and blown sideways by wind sharp enough it had teeth. The light was silver tarnished by winter clouds, though the sun’s generous nature would win out later and turn the day if not kind at least kinder. I’d got a good chill in my fingers and hands scraping the windshield — forgot to grab gloves on the way out the door. But by the time I had driven up the hill to the store I was warm all the way through.

Two days previous, I was swimming in an ocean warm as bath-water, jumping waves with my love and watching the sun set at the end of a week and a half in Costa Rica with Dr. Bae.

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Like this, only closer.

We’d been gone since before Christmas, so there was nothing to eat in the house. So I went to the grocery store. I didn’t bother to make a list. We needed, like, everything, all the stuff we usually have around, plus a couple of specific requests from Dr. Bae, which of course I’d remember. I was wearing four layers, wishing I’d put on more. Yeah I’d just come from paradise, where I’d lived in my bathing suit most of a week. But it was cold, man. Crossing the parking lot, I couldn’t wait to get inside.

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This is a pretty serious cold snap for the PNW.

Back when I was a bartender — back when I took most of my pay home in cash, and always had a wad of singles and fives in my pocket — I used to give money to just about every homeless person who asked. I got a buck for opening a beer; it was no big deal to kick down and help somebody out. I figured if they were bad off enough they needed to stand around outside and ask strangers for money, they needed it more than I did.

Since then, I don’t carry cash as much as I used to. Even if I was still a bartender, I probably wouldn’t: nowadays everybody pays with a card. Walking with all your tips is a thing of the past. Even if I do have cash, it’s usually in twenties, stuck away in my wallet just in case. Like yesterday.

I think it was because I was thinking about how cold I was that my eyes didn’t slide past the lady selling Real Change outside Safeway the way they so often do. Real Change is a fine publication, and as a card-carrying bleeding-heart liberal progressive social justice warrior I 100% approve of their undertaking and mission. But I also resent them, because I’ve already got more to read than I could possibly keep up with. So I’m basically buying a piece of recycling (or, depending on where you live, compost).

It’s a real conundrum, negotiating that particular intersectionality. Put simpler: life is complicated.

Except it wasn’t. I was freezing and I looked at the lady standing in the cold and decided I’d buy a paper and get her two dollars closer to wherever she was trying to get to. It seemed the least I could do.

“Can you break a twenty?”

“I don’t know. Let me see.”

She had to take off her gloves to count back the change. She had a hat on, and a jacket I might use as a mid-layer between my long underwear and my outer jackets.
She was shivering, the cold crept into her bones, it looked like. We talked a little while she counted change back. I let her get to sixteen and said I’d just make it easy on both of us and buy two. I asked her if I could get her anything inside: a bite of food or a hot drink. She asked for a hot tea and being a retired bartender I asked how she liked it.

“Just a hot tea with a little sugar in it.” Her hands were shaking so hard she had trouble putting her gloves back on. Continue reading “The Least I Could Do”

Supporting a Politician is Not Pledging Loyalty Forever

This times a goddam million:

“The idea that our politicians have to be relatable and “likeable” to be electable doesn’t do much in terms of actually creating change that will benefit people. At a time when many people rely on GoFundMe to afford their medical bills and children are wearing bulletproof backpacks to kindergarten, I don’t really care if my politician is meme-able or TikTok savvy. I just need to know they can help the people who need it the most, even if it means falling short of the perfection stan culture expects.”

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/politicians-are-not-your-friends

Wonk Makes a Good Case for Warren

“The case for Warren over her competitors is threefold. She understands America’s problems better than anyone else in the field, in part because it’s her research and analysis that now forms the base for much of the policy debate. She understands how to focus and wield the powers of the regulatory state better than anyone else, because she’s actually done it, and because it’s core to her political project. And she is, far and away, the candidate with the clearest plan for making ambitious governance possible again.”

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/1/15/21054083/elizabeth-warren-2020-democratic-primary