Not a good housewife, baby groundhogs and licky parrots, and expensive chocolate

I think I used to keep my apartment very clean when I lived alone — now half a lifetime ago, when I was 18. It was under 700 square feet. I recall cleaning it every weekend, top to bottom, and being pleased with the results. I spent half my time outside the apartment between commuting to work and work itself. Often, I didn’t cook for myself. There was a mall food court across the parking lot. One big serving from Flaming Wok could keep me fed a full day, split across three meals.

Of course I could keep it clean. Simplicity, low-mess, and limited space is easy to clean. It was important in such a dingy old apartment; it would have fast become bleak otherwise.

At no other point in my life have I been as tidy. At best, I can keep one room in my house clean. Of course, now my house is almost three thousand square feet. I spend all of my time here. So does my eldest, our cats, and two dogs. There is also a younger kid (who is sometimes at school) and a spouse (who is sometimes at work) and a sibling (who is pretty self-contained).

I grew up in a family where my mom felt obligated to keep things clean-clean. Although my siblings and I were expected to contribute to specific chores (like dishes or garbage), my mom did everything else, and took care of us too. It meant I didn’t learn how to deep clean from her. But I expected my spaces to be as clean as though I had a self-conscious mom around doing all the work.

Expectations and reality have not aligned for me in a long time.

Yesterday I spent a while cleaning — mostly the downstairs floors, some counters. It feels like I did nothing at all. The work was nice for my body though. My mood is better when I spend a bunch of time hauling things around and trying to keep stuff tidy, even if I don’t really dent the big-family ADHD chaos. Most of my publishing peers hire cleaners. I’ve never been comfortable having strangers in the house, nor do I like the way big households call for maintenance labor that is too-low-paid. But I also can’t afford a proper household employee anymore.

So here I am, always feeling lacking, never quite doing enough, and mostly just shrugging it off. We’re not hoarders. We’re just not organized…or sterile. Should homes be sterile? If I have little mammal friends, is it realistic to think I should be able to eat off the floor the way my high school friend’s mom expected?


Al Jazeera English: How US police are co-opting a law meant to protect victims of crime. A young pregnant woman was shot and killed by two police officers.

Nadine’s anguish was compounded when she discovered that officials considered there to be three possible victims in the deadly incident: Young plus the two cops.

That allowed the officer who fired the fatal shot to invoke a state measure called Marsy’s Law, designed to conceal the identities of crime victims.

Criminal justice advocates, however, warn this is part of a dangerous trend in the United States, where police officers use Marsy’s Law to shield themselves from public scrutiny.

“They were saying he was a victim?” Nadine asked incredulously. “He was the man with the gun.”


NPR: Pricier Easter bunnies and eggs. Half-dipped Kit Kats. What’s up with chocolate?

Spoiler alert: It’s climate change. We’ve known this is coming for a while.

The world is facing the biggest deficit of cocoa in decades. Most cocoa beans are grown in West Africa, where extreme weather and changing climate patterns have upended crop harvests, which are forecast to fall short for the third year in a row.

That means another year of higher prices for makers, sellers and, ultimately, eaters of chocolate. Chocolate bunnies and eggs are expected to be pricier this Easter and perhaps for some time to come.


From the Guardian: Punxsutawney Phil and his partner Phyllis (omg cute) have unexpectedly had two baby groundhogs (OMG CUTE!).

“When we went in to feed them their fresh fruits and vegetables, we found Phyllis with two little baby groundhogs. It was very unexpected, we had no idea that she was pregnant,” Dunkel said, adding that the club has not had a baby groundhog in over a century.


BookRiot: How Public Libraries Are Targeted Right Now — It’s Not “Just” Books


Balloon Juice: The Many Tragedies of the Baltimore Bridge Collapse

I’m excerpting an excerpt here, but this is the main thing I learned from this post.

The six victims of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse were all immigrants from Mexico and Central America, doing the kind of grueling work that many immigrants take on, when a container ship crashed into a support pillar at 1:30 a.m. EDT on Tuesday (0530 GMT) and sent them plunging into the icy Patapsco River.


In heart-refilling “news,” Smithsonian Mag has videos of parrots learning to play games on tablet using their tongues. Eeee!


NPR shares a cool picture of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. This is using polarized light, and the article compares trying to photograph Sagittarius A to taking a picture of a donut on the Moon from Earth.


Semaglutide products are famously expensive. I’ve heard around $1000 USD per dose. It’s made insurers reluctant to cover it for weight loss (Ars Technica), and then it made producers get the drug approved for weight loss to limit risk of heart attacks and whatnot (NPR).

Now we’re learning that it costs about $5 to make a single dose. (Quartz) Which means basically that the makers are wringing money out of us through insurers. Fun. Sounds like a pretty normal American medical industry scam.

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