My unsolicited opinion on Zuckerberg’s Tuesday testimony

Was it a win for Zuckerberg?

Yes and no.

Yes, in that he was calm, composed, and didn’t crack under pressure. A reMarkable (ha) feat for someone most people assumed was a reptile wearing human skin. To be fair, the heat wasn’t that high–most of the senators seemed genuinely confused by basic social media and couldn’t effectively call him out on when he gave a vague BS answer, while some, like Klobuchar, even treated him with kid gloves.

No, in that he didn’t sway much in the way of public opinion. No one is walking away from this hearing going, “Wow, what a nice and trustworthy guy! I want him to take all of my data!” You just can’t learn charisma, at least not in a week.

Will House committee members be cranking up the heat today (Wednesday)? We’ll see.

Appendix: Random thoughts I tweeted during the hearing:

  • WOW. Couldn’t resist taking a photo of my screen. Zuckerberg with a thousand-yard stare. (Referring to a picture similar to this.)
  • Zuckerberg literally looks like he has just rinsed bleach out of his eyes
  • Aw Mark looks terrified He’s just a boy, standing in front of a congressional committee, asking them to further deregulate the tech industry
  • Bill Nelson looks just like Bill Nighy, coincidence?!
  • “Zuckerbird”
  • The delivery is exactly how a high school junior would give a speech when running for student body president
  • Has anyone on this committee ever sent an email in their life
  • omg “A Facebook Address”

My personal Bad Place

What would The Bad Place™ look like for me? I have been thinking about this recently, and this is what I have decided:

  • The smell of weed. Everywhere.
  • Litter
  • Dense, polluted air
  • No sidewalks for pedesterians
  • My org HR manager’s voice
  • An endless stretch of listless young men on the streets, staring at you as you walk by
  • Everything is under construction and heavy scaffolding.
  • Large southern cockroaches
  • False fire alarms every night

The list goes on and on….

Things I look for in a new city

I continue to think about moving away from DC, for personal reasons. To help streamline my thought process, I am making a list of things that matter and do not matter in my search for a new city.

Very important

  • Walkability *
  • Ease and frequency of public transportation (rail is preferred, but buses are OK) *
  • Dog-friendliness
  • Ease of making new friends *
  • Politically progressive environment *
  • Emphasis on recycling, conserving energy, and cutting down on plastic consumption *

Moderately important

  • Affordable rent (I currently pay $1350 for my studio, and $1400 is probably my ceiling)
  • Tasty and diverse food scene
  • Trader Joe’s *
  • Low crime *
  • Green public spaces and parks *

Nice-to-have but not extremely important

  • Bike lanes and bike share *
  • Diverse demographics *
  • Museums *
  • Public talks, panels, and fora on various social issues *
  • An airport that’s easy to get to from the city *

Not important at all

  • Local sports teams
  • Music
  • Bars and clubs

God I sound like such a hipster. Ha ha ha.

Just for fun I put a red asterisk next to the features that DC does pretty well.

Little things I do to take care of muhself to mitigate anxiety

jeremy-thomas-75753Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

I’ve found that it’s easier to manage my anxiety by developing little habits, hobbies, or quirks to improve my mood, one piece at a time. Here’s a list of them.

  • Making my favorite Korean instant coffee in the morning–the one thing I do that is not great for the environment. Sorry!
  • Turning on NPR as soon as I get up in the morning and letting it play in the background, setting a rhythm to everything I do. I know the hosts’ names at this point: David Green and Rachel Martin of Morning Edition, Matt McCleskey of WAMU, and then Razia Iqbal of the BBC World Service at 9.
  • Making my bed in the morning, and just generally making sure everything in the apartment looks decent and presentable in case maintenance has to come in or something. That Konmari thing has really stuck.
  • Once I get to work, boiling water in the office kettle and making a cup of Tazo organic tea. All the flavors are amazing: peach, apricot, passion fruit. And the smell is so sweet, delicious, and soothing.
  • Taking about 15 minutes in the morning, after arriving at the office and answering any urgent emails, to check my WeChat, send a cheerful “good morning!” text or meme to my group chat with my parents, and go through my fashion/beauty/film/celeb gossip subscriptions to see if there are any interesting updates. Doing this while sipping that tea.
  • Wearing lipstick.
  • Taking a walk during lunchtime–sometimes to the waterfront if the weather’s not too bad, sometimes to the neighborhood Trader Joe’s to pick up some quick groceries or snacks.
  • ALL THE TV I am watching. The shows I watch that are currently on the air include: The Good Place, This Is Us, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Currently off the air, but eagerly anticipated: Better Call Saul, Veep, The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, Game of Thrones, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I also always watch new seasons of House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Black Mirror, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt regardless of how good or bad they are.
  • Making mantou, or steamed buns. The best part is beating the dough into submission and feeling it turn from wet sticky mush to a soft bouncy pillow in your hands.
  • Taking dumb quizzes on Buzzfeed. “How popular are your breakfast opinions?” That one’s a favorite.
  • Scrubbing myself from a rough sponge I got at my hotel in Seoul–especially rubbing the bottoms of my feet.
  • Doing some light–and I mean very light–yoga on a mat before I go to bed, while listening to a podcast. My favorite podcast is Reply All, but I’m also partial to My Favorite Murder, NPR Politics, and The Weeds. I like The Gist, but it’s too energetic and booming to do yoga to.

Shutdown, day 1

As of 12:01 am today, the United States government has shut down.

We are not in uncharted territory here. This is the second shutdown in less than five years: the last time we shut down, in October 2013, I was a government contractor. I don’t recall a ton about that time, except for the fact that we were not allowed to tweet from our client’s Twitter handle, and that there were a lot of jokes on the internet about furloughed Census Bureau statisticians willing to work for beer or whatever.

Oh, and I also remember this: back when the shutdown was still going on, I had to go to Baltimore to represent our client–a government program–at this very niche education conference, by sitting in a booth that we’d already paid for. (It was OK for me to go to this because I was a contractor.) I remember this attendee asking me, “Why’d they shut down the panda cams?” And I, being very wise, tried to explain the Washington Monument Syndrome, but somehow messed it up, and also had to rush to qualify that I did not speak for the government in that particular instance.

This time around, I work for a nonprofit that’s not funded by the U.S. government, so no furlough woes for us.

It’s kind of weird, now that I think about it. 2013 was the year I moved to DC. And this year – 2018 – will probably be the year I leave DC.

Capped at each end with a giant clusterfork. Nice one.

Kristen Bell on “The Good Place” is my style icon right now

I used to hate Kristen Bell, back when I was a teenager. It took me a few years to unpack exactly why I hated her, but now I realize the reason is this: I thought she wasn’t pretty enough to play the female lead in movies, so in my mind it was bullshit that she kept getting those roles. Looking back, it’s like, really? Really?

Anyway, Kristen Bell is now the star of my favorite TV show [that is currently on the air], The Good Place, and I am obsessed with her character’s style. It’s very simple, comfortable, and light, which is how I’m vibin’ nowadays. I don’t want to wear tight skinny jeans and heels anymore. I want to lounge a little bit, but still look breezy and chic. And that’s exactly how her character on the show, Eleanor Shellstrop, rocks it.

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Related: Today I went shopping for the first time in a while and got some cute pieces, but they were noticeably monochrome: a white shirt, a white shirt with black dots, grey pants, and a grey vest. My closet is increasingly whittling itself down to four colors: white, black, grey, and blue. It’s not deliberate: I would love to buy something coral, for example, or daisy yellow. But I’ve noticed that whenever something is in a brighter color, the chances that its design and/or quality is totally jank are much higher.