#299: A Quick Chicago Trip

Residential sky. Tall pine tree.
North La Salle, Detroit, MI

We took a quick trip to Chicago this weekend to see friends; otherwise it was a week of errands and organization. I filed my taxes, installed a new lamp in the kitchen, and made a dent in my email queue. I haven’t been journaling as regularly, so I’m making it a goal to do it every day this week. Writing is connected to noticing – they’re adjacent muscles. And when I don’t work one out, the other tends to atrophy too.

With less on the production front, here’s a late-winter edition of my week’s media consumption:

🎙️ Reply All #144: Dark Patterns. Doing my taxes reminded me of just how much I need to stop using TurboTax. Given some complexities around foreign royalties and a new system for tracking my business expenses, I wasn’t able to do it this filing, but now have everything in place to quit next year. This podcast ep sheds light on important reporting on the subject by ProPublica. (I also just renewed my recurring donation to the organization.)

📚 The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang. I’d heard about some similarities between this and my work-in-progress, and quite enjoyed the read. It captures a kind of settled 1.5-generation-Chinese-American kid vibe that’s very familiar to me, but that I’ve seen less often reflected in media, which tends to have more stories about either American-born Chinese kids or newly immigrated ones. As I wrote on Instagram, I wished I could travel back in time and hand this to my ten-year-old self.

📽️ Snowpiercer. Went back and rewatched this with Julia after we saw Parasite. Even though the setup for both movies are clear – you know where the  they’re heading, can see the final destination – they both unfold in wildly surprising ways. The fun of them is in the how. (We also started Okja, and will likely be finishing it this week).

🎙️ Hidden Brain: Passion Isn’t Enough: The Rise Of ‘Political Hobbyism’ in the United States. This interview with Eitan Hersh put a lot of things in perspective, about the ways that I engage with politics and how I could be doing better. (I’m now reading Hersh’s book, Politics is for Power)

📽️ 16 for 16: Perot and Nader – The Independents. Found myself reminiscing about Ross Perot’s 1992 third-party run for president the other day, and discovered this PBS documentary series. I think my very first political memory is, as an 8-year-old kid, finding out that Perot was polling nationally at about 40-percent – double either Clinton or Bush Sr. Even then, to someone three-years-new to democracy, it seemed unthinkable.

🎭 Improv Shakespeare. We saw this show in Chicago Saturday night and loved it. The actors improvise a whole two-act show based on an audience-suggested title, with all the comedy and drama of one of the Bard’s plays. A parting couplet for you: Of the raw flame of Creativity, wild and aglow/Few better examples there are, than an improv show.