Which Lives Matter

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Black Lives Matter movement and the usual rejoinder that “All Lives Matter”. My response is that all lives don’t matter unless they matter equally.

American culture has historically been one where the lives of people of color, Native Americans, and even women have been seen as mattering less than those of white men.

Much of the current mess comes from that history and the fear by some that other people’s lives mattering more will make their lives matter less. This is part of the zero sum game being played by some in our current politics, where everything that is a gain for someone else is necessarily seen as a loss for them.

If your only definition of success is having more than others, then other people having more threatens your sense of having succeeded. Unfortunately, some of this is baked into our culture.

If we want to truly solve the problems that have been made so painfully visible as of late, we need to retrain ourselves to celebrate each other’s successes instead of merely upholding our own.

Snack Time!

I am a big fan of dried meat products. Beef Jerky is one of my favorites, though I have some alligator and wild boar jerky coming, just to try. The outlet mall in Des Moines has a whole store devoted to jerky, and I look forward to traveling there once it’s safe to do so. (Note, I don’t receive any money from any of the following links, these are strictly my personal preferences and discoveries)

The jerky I get from the Stanhope Meat Locker is the best I’ve had anywhere, but isn’t available unless you live in Central Iowa and can make a short drive. I highly recommend it.

The other dried meat I’ve tried recently is something called biltong. Biltong is different from jerky in that it is air dried rather than cooked. The variety I tried had a slight vinegar taste, which wasn’t bad. The big difference I noticed was that it wasn’t as salty as the jerky I’ve had, which isn’t a bad thing. Biltong is much more like eating dried beef rather than shoe leather, which a lot of jerky tends to be like. I will probably order more at some point.

I also receently discovered kamut, which is a toasted wheat product. It has a nutty flavor and can’t be beat for crunch. They have a sea salt and a churro flavor. The churro flavor is great for just grabbing for breakfast or sprinkling in with oatmeal or yogurt. The sea salt flavor is great as a quick snack or to add some extra crunch to a salad.

Small Victories

Assembling anything has been a nemesis of mine since my kids were small and even before that. There is something about following a lengthy set of instructions to the end that drives me absolutely berserk. When I was a kid, I didn’t like putting together models for the same reason. Between that and getting lightheaded from the glue, I wasn’t a big fan.

I did have a small victory this weekend though, as my son and I managed to put together a charcoal grill without either of us getting angry and walking away. I should explain that my son is 19 and still knows everything. I, on the other hand, and at 58 have become firmly convinced I know nothing. Hence the initial disagreement about whether or not it was necessary to read and follow the instructions for building the thing. I was a firm yes vote, and I will admit, I did say “Because I paid for it, that’s why!”

It really wasn’t that difficult, though there were 24 separate steps, which needed to be completed in order, accompanied by a set of diagrams that were apparently designed by someone with MC Escher’s sense of proportion.

This is roughly what I thought I saw.

We managed to only have to redo two steps, one at the beginning when we couldn’t figure out which way the main fire box went together, and at the end when we put the hinges for the lid on inside out. But we did get it put together.

It’s sitting in the garage now, waiting for it to stop raining, so I can christen it with burgers and some very good wieners I bought from our local meat locker. I am somewhat of a purist when it comes to wieners. I want them spicy and with natural casing. Yes, I know what the casing is made of, but you don’t get a good snap any other way. I really like my local meat locker as they make very good wieners and exceptional pork sticks and beef jerky. I have some of it at my desk right now, and my dog is staring at me intently in hopes I will share.

Time to crash. Other things to get done now.


If you haven’t yet hear the abbreviation, it stands for “F* My Life”. Normally, I’m a pretty easy going person. There are days when it feels like karmically speaking, I must have been a real prick in one of my past lives. I say that because I can’t think of what I’ve done to deserve what I’m going through in this one.

I got permanently laid off at the start of April, which was its own set of pain and anguish. I’ve never gotten laid off before, so I do ask myself sometimes what I did to deserve getting let go over other people. I try not to dwell on it, mainly because it’s not terribly constructive or useful. I’ve had a few interviews and lots of leads, so I’m hopeful that this will pass.

In a way, it was fortunate that I got laid off right after my former employer paid out the annual bonus, as I had that plus severance, plus my federal refund come through just as my water heater decided to spring a massive leak. With labor, it ended up being almost a grand, which is money I would not have had on hand if I hadn’t had a sudden influx of cash. I’m waiting to see what catastrophes will happen when my stimulus check shows up. The refrigerator has been making funny noises, and the oven burns everything, so I’m thinking they are going to be next.

We were pretty lucky though, we got the new water heater in two days after it went out and only had to take cold showers for one day. Actually nobody took a shower since we had noplace to be other than in the house since Covid pretty much makes going outside something we only do when absolutely necessary.

The flooded basement did have one positive effect, all of the water flowed into the main half of the basement, so we were able to haul the carpet out and dispose of it relatively easily. We’re probably going to replace it with vinyl flooring, since that will deal with water much more easily if we have another problem, though I can’t imagine what that would be unless the sump pump goes for some reason. I probably need to have it checked.

We also had to trim back a tree that was growing over our yard since a large branch was resting on our power line. That was making my wife and I both nervous, but we got it all trimmed down. That’s kind of a fun process to watch, mostly because 1) I don’t like heights at all, and 2) There’s a sort of strategy they execute in bringing a large branch down without becoming an America’s Funniest Video entry.

Things have settled down finally, so now it’s just a matter of figuring out where we go from here.