Weeknote 14

by Sunita

A week full of work stuff, but mostly moving forward on a number of projects and meeting deadlines, so the next week will be freer.


I had a bunch of phone meetings which were very productive and pleasant. If you’re going to have lots of admin, it helps to have a minimum of conflict.

I’m bored with writing about work. It’s summer!


I finished Iain M. Banks’s Matter and found it extremely satisfying. It’s a mashup of medieval fantasy, family drama (which of course goes with medieval fantasy), Big Dumb Object SF, and space opera with Banks’s patented Mindships. The ending comes all of a rush, as usual, and there is a ton of exposition, as usual. Some readers dislike this installment of the Culture novels a lot, some love it. I’m in the latter camp. Oh, I alternated reading and listening to the audiobook, which had someone that wasn’t Peter Kenny as the narrator. Sacrilege! He was fine, but I missed Kenny. I hear his voice whenever I read Banks now.

On the watching front, we discovered that our library’s Hoopla (which we can use via Roku on the TV) has a bunch of the original French Inspector Maigret TV shows. They are from 1992 onward, but they feel as if they were made in the 1970s, and they are set in the 1950s, so they feel very vintage and noir. The whole cast is excellent and Bruno Cremer is perfect as Maigret. I haven’t seen Michael Gambon or Rowan Atkinson in the role, but I have trouble believing either can embody the character as well. One nice thing about the language is that it is straightforward enough that I can understand a lot of it (although the subtitles are very good for non-French-speakers). Anyway, I recommend the series if you have access to it and like the novels.

The Football Weekly podcast is on a short hiatus so I caught up with Brexitcast and then switched to audiobooks. Audible offered a 30 percent discount on a yearly subscription and I decided to renew (I’ve been using the $9.95/year minimal plan for the last couple of years). Since I’m doing more outdoor walking and hiking as exercise, I like audio when I’m out alone rather than music because it’s easier to hear cyclists and other hikers when they approach. I’m still fonder of audiobooks than podcasts; I like some podcasts (like my footie one) very much, but I really don’t get the allure of listening to people talk endlessly about stuff that is either easier for me to absorb via text (e.g. politics and other social science stuff) or stuff I don’t care about (podcasts about celebrity stuff or TV shows or whatever). I’ve tried to listen to book podcasts but aside from the odd interview, I get more from reading the LRB, TLS, and NYRB. Ah well. More time for books.

Friends had tickets for an outdoor performance at Stanford’s Frost Amphitheater by the San Francisco Symphony, so we got ourselves out of the house on the weekend. It was wonderful: Ravel’s Scheherazade and Beethoven’s 9th, the latter with a full chorus and soloists. I know the latter very well but hadn’t heard a live performance in years. While I’m not a huge fan of outdoor concerts for classical music (years of going to Ravinia and also the Britt Festival in Oregon notwithstanding), Beethoven works really well (the Ravel was a bit too subtle for an outdoor venue with people walking around and kids playing, however quietly). It was a gorgeous, not-hot afternoon and we were in the shade on the lawn. Just lovely.


More of the same. Lists and an attempt to develop something of a routine, since I’m mostly working at home and my time is unstructured. I get up early but it’s still all too easy to fritter away the whole day. Thankfully the NorCal summer has been very pleasant, so exercising in the late morning is quite bearable. This means I have two to three hours to work after I get up, then exercise, lunch, and a break, and then a couple more hours in the afternoon. And reading at various times. Errands can cut into that, not to mention house stuff which has been ongoing all summer, but those aren’t daily. Now I just have to make the most of the hours I have.

I’ve found that being able to get out and spend time in nature, whether jogging along the bay (lots of sea birds) or in the canyons nearby, has improved my mental health measurably. I’m going to have to find a way to do something similar when we go back to St. Louis. It’s hard in August and September because it’s so hot, and we live in the city so nature comes in highly circumscribed amounts and areas. But there’s plenty of good walking and hiking within an hour of the city, so day outings are plentiful if we look for them. I can’t believe that at this point in my life I’ve turned into a nature person but it’s probably better for my long-term physical and mental wellbeing than a lot of other options.


The usual. Fewer phone meetings, no deadlines. Just emails and a memo I’ve been avoiding.

Good luck with the horrible heat, everyone in the US east of the Rockies. I feel for you.