Friday, December 15, 2017

Afternoon Tea (12/15/17)

How Margaret H. Willison, the Internet’s Favorite Librarian, Does Breakfast

The Letters of Sylvia Plath and the Transformation of a Poet’s Voice

An Algorithm Isn’t Always the Answer

Recreating King Midas’s 2,700-Year-Old Feast

Ha: Size does matter: wine glasses are seven times larger than they used to be

Morning Coffee (12/15/17)

Time for some happy Friday links!

Liverpool made their annual Christmas visit to a children's hospital and IT WAS ADORABLE.

Someone wrote a Harry Potter chapter via predictive text and it's amazing.

Will and Harry met BB-8!!!

Pretty convincing: Why You Should Buy an Entire Case of Sparkling Wine for the Holidays

I am not this talented but I LOVE THEM: 13 Snowflake Nail Art Designs For People Who Love White Christmases

The Fug Girls have a fun chat about favorite books of the year.

NPR has PODCATS PAJAMA PANTS. Yes, as in cats listening to podcasts.

I wouldn't want this as the ONLY tree but I love them as SECONDARY trees: Pink Holiday Trees Are The Best Thing To Happen This Season

I'm not sure I GET this but it's fun: Pick Out 5 Junk Foods And We’ll Recommend A 2017 YA Book To Read

15 Blanket Scarves That Feel Like You Never Left Your Bed

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Suggestion: Make New Year's Goals, Not Resolutions

Yes, okay, I know we're still dealing with Christmas. It's not New Year's yet! But we're almost halfway through December and you want to be PREPARED, right?? You don't want to face January 1st UNPREPARED WITH RESOLUTIONS.

Except! I don't make resolutions anymore. I really like the idea of it, of starting the year by thinking about what I want to accomplish and what changes I want to make, but the "resolution" concept is somehow both too wishy-washy and too strict. How do you measure success? Is it an absolute thing? Does it mean you have to do whatever it is EVERY DAY? If you miss one day, have you just failed the year and should stop bothering? That's stupid.

Instead, the past few years I've tried to make highly specific, measurable goals. I like plans and concrete steps and well-defined progress. (You're shocked, I know.) And I really like how even if I have a bad week or month or kinda forget about something for a while, I can come back to it later in the year. I don't have to write anything off until the year is pretty much over, at which point I can decide to keep or refine the goal or let it go, if it no longer seems that important.

Obviously, this works better for some kinds of things than others - stuff like healthy eating can be harder to quantify than reading a certain number of books or getting important documents into a fireproof safe or finishing the draft of a novel, all of which have been on my goal list now or in the past. But as a general rule, making goals as concrete and specific as possible has worked well for me. I also try to mix in some fun goals with stuff I HAVE to do - in 2018, for example, I have decided I will finish reading all the Lord Peter novels, in addition to less fun things like cleaning out my storage room.

Oh, two other tips: 1. Make goals that are entirely within your control. For example, lots of people use "get a book published" or "get an agent" but that's not entirely up to you (unless you are self-publishing, in which case, go ahead)! But "Finish and edit a draft" and "Query agents" ARE attainable things that need no outside input. 2. REWARDS. Bribe yourself. It's silly but it works.

Anyone else thinking about this yet? What are your goals for 2018?

Afternoon Tea (12/14/17)

I want to make ALL these things: Showstopping Holiday Desserts For Home Cooks Of All Skill Levels

This is good and important: Rebecca Solnit on Women’s Work and the Myth of the Art Monster

The Un-Christmassy Origin of Gingerbread Houses

How One Mycologist Saved France's Wine (Among Other Things)

Heh: The Psychic Tea Rooms of 1930s New York Didn’t Predict All the Police Raids

Morning Coffee (12/14/17)

Tory Brexit rebels inflict major defeat on Theresa May

Minnesota’s lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, will replace Al Franken

It’s not just scandal: Moore lost in Alabama because the GOP agenda is toxically unpopular

What we know about the Omarosa White House drama

Net Neutrality Protests Move Online, Yet Big Tech Is Quiet

Good for Patreon for listening: We messed up. We’re sorry, and we’re not rolling out the fees change.

News media offers consistently warped portrayals of black families, study finds

Rock Hall To Induct Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits And Moody Blues

All the SAG Awards presenters will be women!

This reads a bit like entertainment headline Mad Libs, but I remember hearing interesting things about this book, so I'm intrigued: Jennifer Lawrence to Star in Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Burial Rites’

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Afternoon Tea (12/13/17)

I love Williams-Sonoma BUT I ALSO LOVE THIS: The 2017 Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog

Still so happy about Nicole Cliffe's new advice column: How Do I Keep My Old Work Friends Without the Old Work Drama?

The Bumpy Business of Hauling Historical Sites to Safety

This is really cool: Turning Hurricane Data into Music

Wow: Ada Blackjack, the Forgotten Sole Survivor of an Odd Arctic Expedition

Weekly Rec: The Librarian and the Spy

If you're feeling anything like I am this week, you may be in the mood for a quick, fun read that's just slightly Christmassy and very escapist. If so, have I got the book from you! Susan Mann's debut The Librarian and the Spy is marketed as a contemporary romance, but to me it read more like a light spy mystery that included a romance plot. It's about a librarian named Quinn Ellington who is asked for research help by a hot library patron - and winds up being pulled into a bunch of international intrigue, because the hot patron is actually a spy. It's kind of as silly as that sounds, but in a thoroughly enjoyable way; I expected it to be a cute romance I'd breeze through but not particularly care about, but it left me eager to continue with the series. It's light without feeling hollow, which is just what I need sometimes.

I don't want to give too much away, but the mystery here wound up being more interesting than I expected, with a combination history and current geopolitical tensions. And Quinn's library knowledge ends up being very necessary to figuring it all out - not just her research skills, but very specific aspects of library science. It's explained well enough if you're not familiar the specifics of cataloging and such going in, but it's a fun treat for those of us who are familiar. As with most of my favorite romances, this features a heroine who is very competent and cares a lot about her career and her family and friends and her own interests, rather than being focused on finding a guy. Also: the guy is the one with the spy training here, but Quinn is NOT a damsel in distress.

ALSO: There was a twist at the end that genuinely surprised me. I do NOT expect that in a romance novel. (But don't worry, it's not a romance-centric twist. This does have a HEA.)

And, yes, it's kind of incidentally set around Christmas - it comes up in the background a few times but isn't an important part of the plot. So that was a cheery surprise, but won't add to the problem if you're a little sick of ALL CHRISTMAS ALL THE TIME.

So if this sounds like what you need for your holiday binge-reading needs: The Librarian and the Spy (currently only $1.99!) and its sequel A Covert Affair (99c as of this writing!) are available now, and the third book, An Uncommon Honeymoon, will be out on Boxing Day.

Morning Coffee (12/13/17)

I did not expect this! Once a Long Shot, Democrat Doug Jones Wins Alabama Senate Race

Exclusive: Grassley urges Trump to reconsider controversial judicial picks

There's finally a conviction in the Irene Garza case!!!

Janet Yellen Didn’t Set Out to Be a Feminist Hero

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year is feminism.

This Year's Christmas Tree Shortage Has Roots In The Recession

This is an important study but SIGH: Diversity on Magazine Covers Saw a Slight Decline in 2017

Olympic Athletes From Russia, and the Politics of What They’ll Wear

Memoirs of an Emperor: Hirohito’s Account of World War II Sells for $275,000

!!! Harry Potter Mobile Game Will Turn Users into Hogwarts Students