Home Is Where The Cats Are…

I started to title this “Home Is Where Your Stuff Is…” It sounded good on paper, but what if you have stuff in two places?

It turns out that on reflection most of the stuff isn’t that important. If we need something we already have in Seattle, we can usually just buy another one. Yay mass production and global distribution.

The cats on the other hand… well, that’d be tricky to say the least.

Hence: “home is where the cats are.” Seems legit.

We’ve been in the new flat for just over three weeks, and overall it’s gone well. Better than we had any right to hope for, really, considering we decided to move, found a flat, and arranged movers in the span of a couple weeks.

We had to buy a dining table, which arrived a week or so back, and the rug we picked to go under it arrived Friday.

How did we do these things before the internet?

As expected from a place that’s been empty for a few months, there’s been a small punch list. Just little things that need fixing. The property management company so far is “typically British” – they do their best to ignore me and the problem until I shake their cage. I’m pretty good at being a demanding customer, and not afraid of fixing thing myself, so ultimately they’ll either they’ll fix it, or I’ll fix it and deduct the cost of repairs from rent.

Despite all that, we’ve quickly settled in. Our last flat was purpose-built as a rental. The new place was lived in by the owners, who remodeled it a handful of years ago before moving abroad (and kept and left nearly all the manuals, I love these people already). The contrast is significant – the space, the storage, and the kitchen are just that much more usable. Like someone, you know, gave a crap.

Dawnise and I agreed that despite the short time we’ve been here, it feels more like a “home” than the last place, though neither of us can quite put our finger on why.

I’ve run into our neighbors, once while they were taking their two kids to school, and once while they were going down to collect their milk delivery. We exchanged names, and I’m hoping to be more properly introduced once lock-down relaxes.

The weather recently has been what you might call “variable” – some beautiful, clear crisp days (12C/mid-50’sF), some downright chilly (2C/mid-30’sF), and occasional driving wind and rain. So far all the rain has stayed outside, which was really the point of this, after all.

This morning I walked to our favorite local cafe and picked up “take away shakshouka” for breakfast. The owner hadn’t done take away before, but decided to make a go of it this time. Chatting with her while waiting, I was happy to hear it’s been going reasonably well so far.

The same can’t be said, I’m afraid, for COVID in the UK generally. Case counts, hospitalization counts, and death rates are all still trending up, though our immediate neighborhood seems to be in reasonable shape for the moment.

These worrying trends, combined with the news last week of the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine, suggest that continued conservatism is a sensible course. Not gathering with friends and family over this holiday season will suck, but getting sick now – while medical systems strain under the load and a vaccine is “on the horizon” – means that the “downside risk” is increasing at the same time as the “investment horizon” shortens.

If that’s all gibberish and jargon, another (intentionally provocative) way to say it is “no one wants to be the last soldier to die in Vietnam.”

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay sane.

Glad that’s over. I’m taking off my armor.

If you’re reading this, the US presidential election has been called in Joe Biden’s favor.

The office of the president will soon not be occupied by a petulant, racist, xenophobic, nepotistic, misogynistic, anti-science narcissist who seemingly can’t distinguish fact from fiction and casually and routinely incites violence against those with whom he disagrees.

As you can likely tell, I’m not a fan.

I’m happy to say we the people have narrowly avoided driving the country off the cliff … for a second time.*

So you’ll never have to read the other essay.


There was no “blue wave.” No landslide. No forceful repudiation of the past four years. No clear statement that the administration has been complicit in the deaths of a quarter million people from COVID-19, and that wasn’t inevitable and that it isn’t okay.

And Mitch McConnell was re-elected, which by itself takes a bunch of the luster off the rest.

But never mind. What’s done is done.

Though… terrifyingly all it took to undermine the foundations of American democracy, to torpedo America’s respect and standing on the world stage, and to roll back decades of at least the appearance of social progress was one useful idiot and the support of a set of well placed hypocritical, feckless and power-hungry party sycophants. All the while technically playing by the rules.

Trump wasn’t the problem.

Let that sit on your tongue, and in your head, for a minute.

Trump. Was. Not. The. Problem.

He took advantage of the situation, to be sure. And used his position to enrich himself and his family, to marginalize groups he didn’t like, to gaslight a country of 320 million people, to magnify and amplify the worst in us and the worst of us.

But he wasn’t the problem. At of the time of this writing, over sixty million Americans supported him, his behavior, and his policies.

And that wide spread support, that’s still not the problem.

To be clear, I don’t know what the problem is, but if we want to, we need to start by asking why.

Why did nearly half the voters think he was a better choice (for them? for the country?) than his opponent? Why did he appeal to them – what did he say or do? Why did they support his behavior, or choose to look past it if they didn’t support it?

And – here’s the hard part – we need to listen to the answers. Not discount them when we disagree. Not denigrate them – even when they’re not based in the facts and reality we recognize. Listen to understand.

And keep asking why.

Until we get to things we can agree need to be fixed.

And that’s the other hard part – we need to find ways to cooperate – across the political spectrum, across the social divide – to start fixing those things.

Because once it’s clear that it can happen here, it’s much, much more likely to happen again.

And that’s not the problem, but it surely is a problem.

* I realize that most Americans voted against driving off the cliff in 2016 – but the outcome was what it was.

And now, back to the pandemic already in progress…

By all accounts, the UK will follow the lead of Germany and France and institute a second national ‘lockdown‘ on Thursday, expected to last ‘at least a month.’ As was the case with the first lockdown, this one is likely a reasonable move being made a bit too late.

The specifics of the restrictions are still evolving. They’re being layered on an existing hodgepodge of already unclear regional restrictions, and imposed on a population struggling to dig their last few fucks out of the sofa cushions.

Most things will close, but not schools or universities – ’cause young people are sure to socially distance, and there’s been no evidence of the youth being asymptomatic spreaders.

I’m sure it’ll all go swimmingly.

I doubt we’ll be greatly affected. We’ve really only gone out to get food – ignoring the whole move house thing – and aside from brunch at our local cafe, that’s almost exclusively been from the grocery store.

I’ll go try to get a haircut this morning, and we’ll make it a point to lunch in our local cafe over the next few days, as they don’t really do takeaway and will almost certainly close for the duration.

Things have been a bit busy lately so I’ve not had as much time to read as I’d have liked, so I was pretty happy that yesterday afternoon I finished The Deficit Myth, the first I’ve read about so-called ‘modern monetary theory.’

I found it intriguing, and will plan to find and read a more rigorous treatment of the subject.

In other news, once the move was sorted out I booked the first available driving test… in late February. So I paid £10 for an app that monitors cancellations at the DVLA and helps you reschedule. I’m now scheduled for 21 December.

On the one hand, two months sooner for £10 seems like good return on investment, on the other hand it seems an odd status quo.

Test scheduling, like many other things, doesn’t actually work, and that doesn’t seem to bother anyone.