Blowout by Rachel Maddow:
Rachel Maddow is something like my spiritual advisor. I rely on her nightly to tell me what’s happening in the world and how it applies to history. She puts things in context in such a way that it is easy for anybody to understand. The A-Block of her show is more akin to a riveting lecture at a prestigious university than a nightly news update. Rachel helps us understand the intricacies of government, the absurdities of the moment, and as I mentioned the context of events through an historic lens. If I don’t watch Rachel, my day is just not right. And if — god forbid — there is a guest host instead of Rachel, I can’t even begin to tell you the agony of disappointment that courses through me. It’s cruel of me, I know, because I know that we all need to take breaks to maintain our mental and physical health. Rachel needs that, and yet, when she’s gone…oh the agony I feel! This post isn’t about the show, the inimitable Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, it’s about a book she recently released entitled Blowout. If Rachel hadn’t penned it, I don’t think I would have been at all intrigued by the book. And even after I heard what it was about, I was admittedly disappointed because it sounded enormously uninteresting. It’s all about the oil industry and the political machinations it gets up to. That didn’t interest me in the slightest, even though I have always been irked at Big Oil for lobbying and making it impossible for green energy sources to take off. I have too many books to read, but I love listening to audiobooks on my way to and from work, so I downloaded it with my Audible credit and prepared to be informed. I didn’t anticipate being captivated and utterly enthralled. The scope of the book is too vast for me to outline here in any detail, but I will do my best to be succinct. The book follows various paths around the world and the key figures who are fabulously wealthy in the oil and gas business. We learn about small African nations who are in poverty while American oil companies suck up millions of barrels of oil. We learn about American entrepreneurs who are corrupted by the influence of bewilderingly large sums of money. We learn how fracking works and what implications it has on the natural environment. Reader, I like to think I’m fairly informed, but I never knew anything about hydraulic fracking or the process. Drills bore down into the earth and then literally turn sideways! WHO KNEW!? It’s absolutely amazing what we can do when we put our minds to it. Unfortunately so much of humanity’s cleverness ends up being used for cruelty. I mean, nuclear power has the potential to revolutionize the way the planet accesses energy, but instead of focusing on safe ways to manipulate that, we make bombs and wipe cities off the planet. The oil industry is quite like that. The most fascinating part of the book, though, and what was truly the most enlightening was the extensive coverage of natural gas in Russia. You might be sick to death of hearing about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, but you can’t even begin to understand the depth and complexity of the scandal. I am so enlightened and so informed. And Rachel transformed what was likely to be a dull recap of the industry’s blunders and crimes into a riveting account that I could not stop listening to. I literally sat in my car for an hour one day after arriving home listening because I couldn’t believe what was happening with Ukraine, with Russia, with huge oil production companies here, with massive floating drilling platforms, with corrupt and criminal governments in Africa, with spies that have been hanging out in the United States for decades, and with the deviousness of the players. I recommend the book to absolutely everyone.
IKEA Smart Lights (AGAIN!):
I know that in the past I have told you all about my complete and worrying obsession with home automation. It’s something I’m completely enamored of and simply can’t get enough of. If there’s a device that can do work for me, I’m going to get it. Right now I’m researching robot vacuums because that is essential to my continued happiness. I’ll get that later, but right now I want you to know how over flipping switches I am. I don’t want to have to get up to turn lights on and off. I don’t want to install a dimmer. What is this, the days of the Edison bulb? No! Almost every light in my house is now a smart light from IKEA’s wonderfully affordable Tradfri line of products. They require you to argue with them for a bit, but once the system is up and configured, y’all, it is simply the most dreamy thing in the world. I have it set now so that my lights come on and go off at certain times. I can tell Alexa what to do with them. I can tell my Apple Watch what to do with them. I can change the color and the intensity. I can create moods and more. It’s magical. And there is an annoying cost up front, but I have to admit, the luxury of telling a light to turn on is the most elegant thing in the world. I feel like a Robber Baron of the Gilded Age as I shout to my lights to turn off and go on and set themselves to ridiculous intensity levels like, “ALEXA! Put the lounge lights at 17%!! Hurry!” Instead of complaining, the lights just go to the requested level and a shot of glee courses directly through my body. It’s like having a household staff that is either made up of ghosts or is so efficient that they are never noticed. And I fully understand how unnecessary it is, truly I do, but I’m never going back. I want to remove the light switches from my house. They’re superfluous now and ugly and I don’t want them bothering my aesthetics! Isn’t it amazing how far technology has come? I love living in the future, hopefully as we move forward life gets even more dreamy! (I just heard about a smart faucet for the kitchen, and well, you can probably guess where my thoughts have been.)
There is no beauty trend I won’t try at least once. I use all the serums and creams. I micro-needle religiously. I have tried, and I’m serious, what I think is every sheet mask ever created. I love skincare. It’s like a spiritual practice for me at this point, but there was one thing I didn’t get. On Buzzfeed (a website that I read everyday even though it makes me crazy), they were going on and on and on about jade rollers. I had heard of them, I’d seen them in stores, I’d questioned them before, but it was the only beauty trend that failed to spark my interest. I didn’t see how rolling a rock over my face was going to make me look like a model, but still I read all the reviews, I questioned the science, I even found a few models that were promising and added them to my Amazon cart for later consideration, but then I read something that made me click buy. I guess Meghan Markle uses or used a jade roller and that settled the deal for me. I wanted to glow like a princess. I wanted to have the flawless skin of America’s princess. I wanted to luxuriate like Meghan might and the seconds I waited for the purchase to arrive were a complete agony. When it finally came, I reverently pulled the gorgeous green roller out of its pouch, sighed with glee when it came with a sample for an expensive facial serum, and then read the guide fervently. I still didn’t get it and I still don’t get it, but I was willing to give it a chance. I warmed the oil in my hands, gently applied it to my skin, and began rolling my face for five minutes. It was an odd feeling at first, the jade stays somewhat cold, and I wasn’t sure what I was really supposed to be experiencing. But then it started feeling very nice and quickly became one of the most relaxing sensations I’ve encountered. I rolled and rolled and couldn’t get over how nice it felt to use the little roller on my eyes. I felt like there was tension melting out of my forehead. When the five minutes were up, I took a glance in the mirror, and…well, I don’t know what I experienced. I looked like me, but I looked like how I would look after a day’s worth of sleep or after a couple syringes of Botox. My skin was relaxed and…I’ll say it…I was glowing. I became a convert immediately. I’m trying to fit it into my daily beauty regimen and I’m sure before long me and Meghan will look like long lost twins. Can’t wait. Get some jade, reader.
“Casa de las Flores” Season 2:
I binge watched the new season of Casa de las Flores over the past two nights, and it was one of the finest decisions I have made in the entirety of my life. As you are well aware, probably too aware, Spanish language shows are everything to me. I could watch them until time ends, and it’s more than likely that I will. I already have a few more on my Netflix queue waiting for me. The worst thing is trying to pick which show to pick out first! There’s one right now about a family tequila empire and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be my next obsession, so get ready for that. (Jessica will be particularly thrilled, I’m sure!) Anyway, Casa de las Flores is a Netflix original that is inspired by the over-the-top dramatics of telenovelas, but done in a way that seems more natural. It’s about the de la Mora family, who are seen as the perfect family. They live in Mexico City (swoon!) and operate a very successful flower shop (double swoon!!). It turns out that the patriarch has another “House of Flowers” which is a drag revue. This leads to hilarity, of course, and drama, and wonderful plot points, and I adored the first season. I’ve watched it several times now and it grows on me more and more. There are characters from every walk of life and all of the actors are absolutely exceptional. I was on pins and needles when season two was announced, and I tore through it in two nights, laughing, gasping, squealing with glee, and occasionally weeping a little. The show is perfect in so many ways that I won’t be able to properly express to you. This season is all about dealing with the fallout after Virginia, the matriarch and unquestioned ruler of the family, passes away from a severe illness. The siblings must find their way without her, deal with the consequences of their actions, encounter new and bizarre characters, and all the while, they’re wonderful. I love the show so very much. I have learned so much Spanish from it, and I love the way that Paulina speaks. It’s slow and incredibly enunciated and I find it the most charming thing in all the world. Get on Netflix, reader, and do yourself a favor. It’s wonderful. So wonderful.
Y’all. I am so mad. I’m on antidepressants now and everything, so I’m no longer hugely impacted by seasonal-affective disorder, but there are still things that make me absolutely insane. I hate snow with a passion. I don’t think it’s beautiful or peaceful or relaxing. I don’t find it charming or gorgeous or worth discussing. I think it is an absolute blight on humanity and should, if possible, be eradicated. Thanks to whatever nonsense the weather is up to, it doesn’t really snow in Iowa anymore before January. I have no proof of this, I realize, but I am confident in my assertion. I can deal with the cold…well not really…but if I can at least see the ground and the trees, I don’t mind. If it is snowy though and nasty, I take considerable issue. Snow gets dirty and nasty and I basically only own suede shoes. If you don’t own suede…sad…but also you can’t get suede wet very often. A light spritz of water isn’t a big deal, but if they get saturated from a puddle or the rain, well they are going to be stained for the rest of their lives. I have tried every single product to get watermarks out of suede, and no matter how positive the reviews on Amazon are, they inevitably let me down. But this post has absolutely nothing to do with suede. It’s late October right now and, reader, there have been two days of basically non-stop snow. It’s absurd. It’s still warm enough that it melts away in the afternoons, but if it snows overnight, there is a horrible discovery every morning. I am very tuned to snow as I hate it so much, and I know specifically how the light is going to reflect through my window in the morning if there’s snow. Yesterday, I saw it, and I SCREECHED. My cats fled the bed in horror. That was the appropriate reaction. The snow is gone now, but I had to scrape my windshield and I had to preheat the car and I had to get out a coat and I had to drive with other idiots who were suddenly unable to drive and it was just too much. TOO MUCH. I was filled with rage. At some point, I’m really going to have to go to Mexico or Egypt for the winters. It will be so beneficial for my mental health.