Tuesday, August 4, 2020

"White Working Class" by Joan C. Williams

"White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America" by Joan C. Williams grew out of a well-received article Williams wrote for the Harvard Business Review after election night 2016, when Donald Trump rode a wave of populist resentment to win the presidency of the United States.  

Williams explains why the white working class -- what used to be known as America's middle class -- is so misunderstood by what she calls "the PME" (professional management elites), and why it's so important to bridge this gap. She also offers advice to politicians and others looking to connect with this important and frequently overlooked segment of the population. "When you leave the two-thirds of Americans without college degrees out of your vision of the good life, they notice," she writes in Chapter 1.  

(I guess it's my PME perspective talking here, but I had no idea that number was so high -- two-thirds?? Still? -- in 2016??) 

At a slim 131 pages of text, this book obviously just skims the surface of a complex subject, but it's nevertheless a good primer/introduction, well written and researched. I like that not only does Williams provide a reading list after the notes, she groups the books into categories: "If you want to know more about the working class and you want to read just one book... If you want to read five more, add...." etc.  

3.5 stars on Goodreads, rounded up to 4. 

(Dh, observing the heavy subjects of my recent reading choices, has told me to lighten up and read a novel next, lol. We'll see... so many great books, never enough time for them all...!!) 

This was Book #25 read to date in 2020 (Book #1 finished in August). I'm currently at 83% of my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 30 books, and am (for the moment, anyway...!) 8 books ahead of schedule to meet my goal. :) You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2020 tagged as "2020 books." 

Monday, August 3, 2020

#MicroblogMondays: Annoying things & small pleasures

Annoying things: 
  • Dark, gloomy & rainy outside yesterday & today (after a long spell of heat & humidity).  
  • The rain in southern Ontario never seems to "clear the air" of heat & humidity, as it usually did on the Prairies when I was growing up. :(  
  • Realizing that my Kobo e-reader is (gulp) almost full. I know I can remove & (re)add books as needed/wanted, but it's still annoying. 
  • Watching hockey. In August!! The men in my life are thrilled that pro sports are back (hockey, basketball, baseball and soon football -- all at once!)... I could care less even at the best of times (lol), but there are already games being cancelled because of athletes testing positive for COVID-19. Why are they even trying to have a season right now?? 
  • Pro athletes getting tested frequently (& getting prompt results), while others can't. 
  • Long, bushy "mountain man" beards. I think they are SO unattractive (not to mention germ magnets, in the age of COVID...!). 
  • Not being able to think up anything more original for a #MM post. :p  ;) 
Small pleasures: 
  • A semi-decent night's sleep (for a change...!). 
  • Celebrating Younger Nephew's birthday on the weekend, and seeing & holding Little Great-Nephew while we were there. 
  • Looking forward to getting haircuts (yes it's time for trims, again!) later this week. 
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Right now

Right now... (an occasional meme, alternating from time to time with "The Current")

Note:  I had this post almost completed, when suddenly, the formatting went completely wonky… parts of lists and full paragraphs simply disappeared into the ether. I am wondering whether the blame/cause lies with (a) Blogger’s new interface (which they still seem to be tinkering with)?? (b) My habit of copying over my post from the previous month & then editing/updating -- easier from a content standpoint, but perhaps too much formatting, leading to a technical glitch? (c) Some combination of (a) & (b)?? 

At any rate, I have done my best to reconstruct what was lost (grrrr…). I actually copied & pasted what was left into a Word document, edited/rewrote/added to it, and then copied and pasted it BACK into Blogger & finished the (re)formatting there. Sigh…

*** *** ***  

July was Full Month #4 (going on 5) of life in the age of COVID-19. We spread our wings a little bit more than we have in the previous four months:  we ventured out -- cautiously and masked (using hand sanitizer and washing our hands well when we got home) -- for gelato (twice!); to the ABM at the bank to deposit a cheque (having not yet learned to use -- or trust -- the newfangled method of deposit via photo within banking app); to Canadian Tire (automotive/hardware/sporting goods/housewares store) once; and made not just one, not just two, but THREE visits to our beloved mega-bookstore, for the first time(s) since March 12th. I also ventured into the supermarket twice with dh, to the pharmacy once by myself (while he waited outside in the car) to pick up some prescriptions and other sundries, and to the optometrist for a long-scheduled checkup. (Dh continues to make weekly-ish expeditions to the supermarket/drugstore, and for takeout on Saturday nights.)  

And we went to see BIL & family (including Great-Nephew) four times, including for cake & coffee to celebrate BIL's birthday mid-month, and again for Younger Nephew’s birthday (his 28th) last night. (It’s actually on Monday, but the weather looked better for an outside gathering tonight.) They've all been going to work for most of this pandemic (except for Older Nephew's wife, still on maternity leave), and the kids have been going to visit friends and dine on patios, etc. -- which makes me feel more vulnerable to be around them -- but dh gets sad & mopey if we go too long without seeing Great-Nephew. They are the ONLY people we spend any amount of time with (even if the situation is not the same, vice versa...) -- and yeah, it's hard to maintain complete isolation for so long -- just the two of us in our little condo. So we go... but I still try to maintain my distance (Great-Nephew & the dog excepted, lol) and wash my hands frequently while I'm there and when we get home. I felt better that Younger Nephew & his wife requested that last night’s gathering take place outside. They interact with her family frequently as well, and her sister has two young children, so I think they are trying to be uber-careful. 

I have some friends for whom these activities/interactions would be way too risky. Others, I'm sure, think we're being way too paranoid. I try to remember that everyone's comfort level is different, and I try to respect that (although I will admit I'm not above judging others myself when I think they've been acting like covidiots...!) 

*** *** *** 

I feel like some of these answers will be repetitive from previous months, since not a lot has been going on... but here goes! 

Reading:  I read 6 books in July (all reviewed on this blog & tagged “2020 books”):  
So far this year, I've read 24 books.  I'm currently at 80% of my Goodreads 2020 Reading Challenge goal of 30 books, and 7 books ahead of schedule.  

Current read(s):   
Abandoned: 
  • "Daisy Jones & the Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I read & enjoyed it last year (blog review here), and then it was picked as July's read for the newly rebooted Gateway Women private community book club. I started to re-read it, and I took part in the discussions -- but as the month went on and we got closer to starting a new book, I decided to move on to something else.  
As I mentioned above, we recently returned to the local mega-bookstore for a few socially distanced visits the first time since COVID-19 turned our world upside down, and left with a stack of books each time, lol.  Meanwhile, I've been buying e-books for my Kobo e-reader and Amazon Kindle phone app -- most of them older titles bought at deep discounts ($5 or less), but some recent releases too.  

A few recently purchased titles (in both digital and paper formats): 
Watching: Katy at Chasing Creation recently had a live chat with Jody Day of Gateway Women on the subject of finding meaning when you’re not a mother. Apparently more than 600 people signed up for it!!  It was a great conversation! & it’s available to watch on YouTube

Listening:  I'm still not a big user of audiobooks or podcasts. However, my Facebook readathon of “Jane of Lantern Hill” includes a video reading of each chapter by a member of the group, posted on YouTube. So I’ve been listening & reading along with each new chapter. We’re a little over halfway through the book.   

Dh & I have also been listening to classic repeats of "The Vinyl Cafe"on CBC Radio One, as I posted here.. If you'd like a lovely taste of Canadiana, you can also listen to it on Sirius XM Channel #169 or as a podcast

I have not yet listened to "The Unthinkable," a five-part podcast series about the loss of a baby, but it is now in my queue!  Kudos to Radio NZ for tackling this difficult subject, and big thanks to my penpal of 40+ years (!), Janine (who lurks & sometimes comments here), and to Mali at No Kidding in NZ for flagging this one. :)  

Following:  

Buying (besides books, lol):  As mentioned above, I did venture into a few stores this month, but mostly for stuff that we needed (versus browsing for fun -- bookstore excepted, lol). Still staying away from the mall. 

My most notable purchases, beyond books, food & sundries?  Probably the frying pan and a Vileda spin mop that we bought at Canadian Tire. The non-stick coating on our old frying pan was starting to flake off  (ewww....) -- hence the trip to the store, and while we were there for that, we picked up a few other things too. 

Re: the mop:  mopping the floor is one of those chores that I have trouble motivating myself to do, so I figured a new mop might help. This one was recommended by @gocleanco , a cleaning company in Calgary whose site I follow on Instagram (I've mentioned them here before... when I found them, they had something like 30,000 followers... they are now closing in on 800,000!!). 

We also picked up a box of disposable medical masks to keep in the car, just in case we forget to bring cloth masks along with us. Nice to see they are easier to find now than they were back in March...!  

(Disinfecting wipes, however, are still like gold, and very hard to find. Dh was in the supermarket one day and did spot a few containers of Clorox wipes on the shelf. And of course, there was a woman ahead of him in the aisle who left him ONE (when she saw he was waiting for her to move ahead), but scooped up the other four for herself!!  Grrrr.... He’s convinced she would have taken all five if he hadn’t been standing there…!)    

I also couldn't resist ordering an initial necklace from my favourite sterling silver jeweller. Her stuff is gorgeous (I’ve picked up a lot of it over the past several years), and the customer service is first-rate. 

Eating/Drinking: Our takeout dinners this past month have included chicken madeira rigatoni (on our wedding anniversary), spaghetti rapini agli e olio, wood oven pizza (twice! – non-tomato sauced for me), and some excellent chicken fingers and fries. : ) 

Wearing: Aside from the face masks & hairbands I ordered from Old Navy, I haven't bought any new clothes since late February or early March. Of course, there's no need (okay, there probably wasn't much need pre-COVID either...!) -- I wear shorts or yoga pants and T-shirts/tank tops around the house and around the neighbourhood for walks, and I have lots of those already. Meanwhile, most of the nicer clothes in my existing wardrobe remain untouched on their hangers in the closet, because there's nowhere to wear them right now... 

Walking: Not enough this month, (no) thanks to the very hot, humid weather we've been having. (You know there's not much point in even trying when it's already 28C & 37C humidex at 9 a.m...!)  There was one week, mid-month, when we got out walking three times, and that was it. Hoping to do better in August!!  

Trying:  To be more diligent about things like changing dishcloths more regularly & washing my hands more frequently in this age of COVID-19. (I told dh that if there’s one good thing that’s come out of this pandemic, I’m pretty sure I’ve improved my handwashing technique, lol.) 

Wanting:  A little more variety. Between COVID & the heat/humidity, we haven’t been out much, and I can feel it getting to me sometimes. Too much screen time too. :( 

Loving: Being able to see Great-Nephew a little more regularly again. He is now 8.5 months old, now has two adorable tiny teeth poking through his bottom gums, and he crawls (on his stomach, not yet up on all fours) at an alarmingly fast speed, lol. 

Dreading:  The prospect of having to learn (& find cellphone space for) yet ANOTHER app, as a Facebook group I’m on is contemplating moving platforms, in protest of Facebook’s policies. Sigh… 

Wondering:  What we should do to mark Katie's day, which is coming up very shortly....

Feeling:  …as though the summer is (already) slipping away. Somewhat bored and restless. Staying home and semi-quarantining has been somewhat tolerable only because the sun has been shining, and the days are long, and the weather has made it possible to get out for walks & to sit out on the balcony once in a while (when it’s not TOO hot & humid).  What’s going to happen when it turns darker & colder AND we’re still trying to deal with the coronavirus??