Dispatches from the Field: Steamboat, Day 1*

the one pair of clean socks I have

*It is always at the most inconvenient times (when is it not inconvenient) that the airport loses your luggage. And not just luggage. But literally everything. On Day 1 of a 10-day ski trip I have in my immediate possession:

1 pair ski boots
1 ski jacket
1 pair goggles
1 pair mittens
1 pair ski socks
1 pair dirty underwear
1 pair dirty leggings
1 dirty sweater
1 dirty tank top
1 toothbrush
“sorry-not-sorry” toiletries kit from United
phone, laptop, chargers, planner, and everything to make it look like I am well-equipped for a working vacation (which I always am)
1 shitty stretched-out underwire bra

The list of what I do not have in my immediate possession is longer and most frustrating:

1 pair K2 Missdemeanors with BD02 bindings
1 pair Icelantic oracles with Hammerhead bindings
1 pair shitty poles (don’t care, United can have them)
1 pair G3 skins cut to K2-size
1 pair snowpants
2 pair my favorite Prana “kara” jean
4 pair ski socks including my favorite Dahlgren alpaca socks
1 North Face softshell
3 mid-layer cold-weather knits
2 UnderArmour cold gear spandex shirts
3 cold-weather spandex pants including really nice Mizuno running ones
3 pair spandex shorts (sweat-wicking, highly necessary)
4 or 5 pair various cold-weather socks, including alpaca, Smartwool, Wigwam
11 pair undies
4 favorite sports bras of various provenance
1 soft, thin cotton towel I brought back from Istanbul 😥
1 pair crappy Reef sandals (see ya, don’t care)
Some t-shirts and other things I guess I don’t care too much about but they are not replaceable.
2 bathing suits I quite like which as everyone knows is a hard thing to find

On the plus side, I am totally equipped to ski, so long as skiing does not take place on snow and does not, in fact, involve skis.

Stay tuned — there is still a possibility it may arrive on a flight today, but I am not holding my breath.

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Lobster vs. Oyster: Bottom Feeders or Bivalves?

2017 might have felt like the year of the oyster (thanks for nothing, Eventide + Island Creek), but according to 16,000 words I harvested from nationally-circulated magazines and blogs*, “lobster(s)” were mentioned 35% more frequently than “oyster(s)”.

I guess Maine is still Maine and people are still unduly obsessed with the mealy mush the upper crust insists on considering “gourmet”.

*Text from 14 sources (i.e. individual articles, not 14 publications). Find me more text and I’ll find you more data 🙂

More to the point, this is actually a kind of interesting piece of information. If we assume my corpus is decently representative of the kind of travel/food writing that potential visitors to Maine might read (sources include Bon Appétit, Travel and Leisure, Vogue, and Zagat, among others) and we assume that this relationship will scale if the corpus is made larger (i.e., the basic relationship between chatter about oysters and chatter about lobsters is not an outlier), then we have a good sense of what tourists might want to eat when they come to Maine. Because everyone just goes where and eats what the NYT 36 Hour thing says, anyway.

And if we know what tourists might want to eat, all one or two million of them per year, we know which fisheries will continue to be in demand, which restaurants and neighborhoods will be popular, and where all that damn money is going. Because it’s certainly not going towards snow removal or pot hole repair 😉

Chalk this one up the Maine Lobster Council (or whatever), but their brand power is on point. It’s 2017, the year/decade of Eventide (who, by the way, had the most mentions in my corpus … duh), and even they can’t out-lobster the lobster. (But, they do have lobster on the menu, so they’re not helping the oyster cause, either.)

I’m interested to compare the trends in local food writing to the national ones. Is my personal sense that oysters are out-classing lobsters these days just a function of my distaste for lobster? Or are oysters more popular with locals, and lobsters more popular with tourists? Or am I just totally hallucinating?

So resolved

Ah, the void. We meet again.

Resuming (which is generous) posting is always onerous. Something about retrospectives and grand plans for the future, all colliding in the face of an empty page/screen, à la a magnificent celestial vision for realities that would fit inside a mouse’s teacup.

In lieu of promising anything great or anything grand, or “resolving” (unfortunately it is just about the New Year) to post on a regular basis or on any particular theme, it is time to recognize the reality that is the futility of cohering this amalgamation of my life into anything more than what it is. An incoherent amalgamation into which any member of the public with internet access is unfortunately welcome to delve at their own peril.

That said, here are some things that have engaged me recently: cookbooks, being angry about narratives in food writing, and having lots of plans to start projects that either get started or don’t, but rarely ever get farther than that. I suppose “grand plans for my blog” (which is a disgusting word, truly) fall under the latter category of engagements.

Other not-yet or barely started projects include coordinating pop-up shops of local makers, and “doing” a data-driven project looking at the language of restaurant reviews with respect to demography of restaurant owners. See “things that have engaged me recently”, item #2.

I also spent a not-insignificant number of hours today applying for and/or finding interesting-looking jobs in the computational linguistics and affiliated universes, so that was something.

On Facebook Activism, and Armchair Activism. Or, Social Networks for Beginners.

As I’m sitting here by the fire with a glass of wine and the hipster-ass local radish salad with lemon juice and parsley that I just made, I’m reflecting on the current momentum in various activist circles, new and old, and the role of Facebook and social media as a whole in these dialogues. I’m reminded of pictures of Tahrir Square, of thousands and thousands of people brought onto the streets of Cairo through messages passed through social media, and to be honest, at the time I was pretty skeptical. Surely no one really uses Twitter that much and that seriously, right? Continue reading

#icymi: fuck the censors

Here are @BadlandsNPS’s tweets that disappeared a mere 3 hours (or less) after being posted in direct violation of an administration-issued directive for media blackout re: taxpayer-funded science.

A brief summary of headlines from the last 24-ish hours, and what to do about it.

#tbh, I’m already exhausted.

It’s now Day 5, and reading through my Facebook, NYT, and other news feeds, there are too many ridiculous things happening to even feel as though I can address any one of them and be effective, let alone all the ones that anger me and chill me to my core.

Here’s a sampling of things from the roughly last 24 hours that we should all be anywhere from pretty to terribly concerned about. In some cases, I’ve included links to or suggestions for concrete actions: Continue reading

Day 2, Day 3

On Day 2, we marched. (On Day 3, we called our Senator about Healthcare.)

It was huge, it was remarkably quiet, and it seemed honestly quite festive, like the social event of the season. Which, of course, was a little disturbing. I’m all for documenting on social media, but not everything needs to be a selfie opp, #amirite? Anyway, I also found the whiteness of the crowd, at least in Portland, a little discomfiting, but it’s always hard to know here how much of that is just due to the nature of the demographics of the state, or something else.

I also had another, perhaps more critical realization. It started while reading several posts from Facebook contacts, urging unity, compromise, understanding, etc., etc., with the other side of the aisle, with the racists, with the ethnocrats, with the white supremacists, with the America First-ers, basically, with Trump supporters, all the fluffy words we bill as integral parts of the human experience, assuming we like all humans the same. The warm-hearted liberal in me is all, “yes! unity! peace! understanding! compromise!”. But the cold-hearted progressive is all, “fuck them.” And I’m leaning cold. Frigid. Continue reading