Thursday, November 19, 2020

Recent Small Joys

Part of me still feels the occasional flutter of stress about the recent US presidential election. Obviously, the outcome it abundantly clear, it's not a remotely close call. President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris will be inaugurated next January. But with all the undignified posturing and truly bonkers lies about election-related litigation coming from our outgoing President and his team, it's hard for me not to feel some momentary distress at times. 

All that "amateur hour" litigation work done on behalf of the Trump campaign by the time major news networks called the election results last Saturday has been followed only by maneuvers plumbing shocking new depths of incompetence. I cringe frequently from secondhand embarrassment when reading about their lawyers' statements during hearings and in some written filings, knowing these are the sort of things that'd likely earn a well-deserved scolding and withering retorts from basically all judges I've ever practiced before. And that's usually exactly what happens. 

Admittedly - at least in the SDNY, where I practice most frequently - judges regularly administer remonstrations and sharp words even when it actually isn't particularly warranted, something I've personally experienced more than a few times. So any tale of judicial exasperation or anger, no matter who it's directed to and how richly they deserve it, brings back bad memories. But I digress. Long story short, anyone as pleased as I was with the outcome of the US presidential election has nothing to fear at present from the courts. 

Ah, but let's move on, because this is meant to be a light-hearted post about things that have brought me some small bits of joy and levity in recent days! 

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Election Celebration: Following the widespread acknowledgement of the presidential election results last Saturday, K and I couldn't help but want to celebrate, just the two of us at home. I made the Cook's Illustrated "Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies" and K made us Instant Pot ribs. (His parents gave us their extra Instant Pot - not sure how they ended up with two - during a socially distanced and fully masked curbside exchange a few months ago, when we gave them some Asian groceries they requested from Southeast Asia Food Group's delivery service.) Both recipes are pretty good.

The Swan Rescue: I thought this was a sweet and very NYC story, about how an experienced wildlife rehabber rescued a sick swan from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens. Getting the bird to the Wild Bird Fund in the Upper West Side of Manhattan was apparently an arduous journey that involved taking the swan on the subway, where apparently none of the other passengers had any real reaction. (It's definitely typical NYC behavior to ignore strange sights on the subway.) There's a video update in this Daily Show clip, among other places, and the swan seems to be on her way to recovery. 

Time's 100 Best Fantasy Books: I've read and enjoyed 27 books on Time's list of the "100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time". I thought it was a great list, with an expansive view of the genre, including works geared towards all age groups and books that aren't all shelved in the sci-fi/fantasy section of your average bookstore or library. My one small quibble is that maybe it's a little arbitrary to include two books from certain series but not others. (Though in each instance where I've read both books on the list from the same series - C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; the Harry Potter books; and Ken Liu's The Grace of Kings and The Wall of Storms - I agree that both books are strong.) 

Standout favorites of mine include: The Ken Liu books, particularly The Wall of Storms, though you'll need to read The Grace of Kings first; N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but the only reason I can't yet vouch for her other novels on the list is that I haven't been able to read them yet; Guy Gavriel Kay's Tigana, though I'd personally recommend The Lions of Al-Rassan or Sailing to Sarantium instead to a first-time Kay reader; and David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks. But it's really hard to choose, because so many of the books I've read on this list are wonderful!

Shopping-Related Things: That L.L. Bean Wicked Cozy blanket continues to be one of my my favorite things while staying home all the time, especially now that the weather is finally cooling down. The plush fleece texture is delightful, and the blanket washes well, with no shedding thus far. 

Via Goulet Pens. I actually bought both of these colors, I'm using the "port red" one as my current bullet journal/planner and will use the "pacific green" one next.

Although I recently complained about newer Leuchtturm notebooks having slightly worse paper quality than they did a few years ago, I've actually still been pleased to go back to using a Leuchtturm1917 A5 dot-grid notebook as a bullet journal-slash-planner. (Because I draw in my own weekly planner layouts, I switch planners whenever I run out of pages and am not bound to starting a new one at any particular time of year.) After using my new Leuchtturm for a few weeks, I'm happy to report that it actually does work alright with most of my fountain pens and inks, even if the paper doesn't hold up quite as well as that of the notebook I bought a few years ago. 

Someone recently asked how my Vince boiled cashmere funnel neck sweater - a style they bring back in a range of colors each year - from last September was holding up. I wrote a bit of a mini-dissertation as a comment reply, but long story short, I'm still very satisfied and have no regrets about the purchase! (My only arguable regret is that Vince offered a site-wide 15% off sale code within a few weeks after I bought the sweater full-price.) This sweater pills some, as is typical for all cashmere sweaters I've ever owned across many price points, but the pills are easy enough to pick off by hand (my preferred pill removal method for nicer sweaters). Something about either the way it's knit or the boiled cashmere material does mean the sweater has these light fuzzy fibers all over the surface - visible if you zoom super-close in the most close-up store photos - but I enjoy that and find it cozy. 

I'm still thinking about the collared polo sweater that was on my list of shopping ideas for the rest of 2020. Since I wrote that post a month ago, I've seen a few more polo sweaters on offer in various colors from various brands. Vince has an intentionally oversized and heavier-knit one in a wool-cashmere blend. Club Monaco has one in boiled cashmere, though only in blue and white. Though I still think The Reset one in "biscotti" I originally mentioned seems like the most likely choice for me, because it's the only one I've seen in that particular gray-brown neutral color. 

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