Friday Links

“There aren’t enough days in the weekend.”
~Rod Schmidt

Another day, another Friday, another batch of internet linkage. I’ve intentionally kept most of it light and interesting since the news this week has been particularly bad and disheartening, from Ferguson to ISIS. This weekend I’m doing some volunteering, some writing, and hopefully a good bit of wandering since work (and the weather) have conspired to keep us mostly inside and I’m likely to go crazy without more exercise. Share anything worth knowing in the comments and let me know what you’re getting up to yourselves.


Last week I shared the story of a guy who liked everything that appeared on his Facebook feed. This week, the tale of someone who did the opposite.

Journalism, behind the scenes.

This editor at The Atlantic defends the email, which I did not entire realize was apparently under attack.

Iran has a problem with sex, namely that people aren’t having the “right” kind or amount. The most chilling aspect of this article to me is the recently passed bill to ban and limit certain aspects of contraception.

And speaking of, a journalist sent out a tweet about tampons for a story she was covering and the backlash was… pretty much everything that is wrong with the internet rolled into one.

A Downton Abbey blooper to whet your appetite for the next series.

A pair of roommates decided to spend a year not buying anything. This intrigues me because both Jeff and I work extremely hard but, like many of our generation, have student debt that really impacts our finances. Plus we live in an amazing but expensive city. We constantly look for ways to budget to save even a tiny bit because even with strict family rules, most of the money we make is spoken for with little left over to go into savings. (Also, one of our laptops just died and the other is on the brink. Ugh.)

J. Crew launched fragrances this week. I’m grateful that poverty keeps me from impulse purchases because I’d be all over this otherwise.

Interesting piece on a major flaw in the farm-to-table movement, as perceived by a chef dedicated to the cause. Increasingly obvious to me is that in America especially, we’ve restricted our diet to foods that are unsustainable in and of themselves. We need to branch out and eat more widely.

A 19th century guide to avoiding London pickpockets. Still relevant.

Rise up, citizens!

I loved this New Yorker piece on reading to impress yourself. Part of the reason I came up with the reading goals in my 101 in 1001 list was because even though I got an excellent education in many ways, it was very uneven in others. The two high schools I attended were wildly different and the second had some major failings (though I met, and am still in contact with, one of the best and most important teachers of my life from that school). As a result there are a bunch of important, classic novels I’ve never read. Things like my list and my Goodreads help me check them off for no other reason than I want to.

Like I said, it’s been a rough week the world over, so here’s what bestie Xarissa called, “a bright spot” in the dimness, a 4 year old reviews one of the most reviewed restaurants in the world.


History, Hydras, and Gardening

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
― John Muir

I recently toured the Garden Museum, housed in a deconsecrated church that abuts Lambeth Palace (traditional home of the Archbishops  of Canterbury), for a post over on The Thrifty Homesteader. Head on over for more about the history of the church–lots of interesting dead people–but there were some extra shots I wanted to include since I found the space and the garden delightful. It’s perfectly appropriate to me to find a museum of gardening housed in a church in Britain!

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When I say abuts, I mean it!

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A casual walk by the crypts to the front door.

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With a cheerful greeting at the end!

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The cafe in one of the church aisle–which, architecturally speaking, is not the central passageway up the center of the structure. Tea beneath the memorials!

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Palm trees and cherubim, an atypical pairing.

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I mention this in the other post, but all the plants were labeled with the year of their first written description, and often a quote from a British writer or person of note.

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The real treat of the churchyard garden is the tomb of the Tradescant family, who were noted botanists and gardeners to the royal family. The family patriarch traveled widely to collect bulbs and seeds and his son continued the tradition in the New World. Both were early naturalists and predate Darwin by nearly 300 years, eventually they opened the family collection as the very first public museum in Britain. The sarcophagus is highly, highly unusual for the age when, in spite of the rise of science and humanism, death was still very much the realm of the spiritual and divine. And yet the symbolism of his tomb is not religious at all but shows the scope of his travels and scientific encounters, include ruins of the ancient world and exotic flora and fauna.The crocodile on the bottom left is fantastic!

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Another side of the tomb with a somewhat more typical death symbol of medieval and renaissance Europe…and a hydra. Which is only strange until you learn that hydras were often symbols of botany in that even if you trimmed or cut off heads, they grow back.

Of Hospitals and Medicinal Spirits

“One afternoon, when I was four years old, my father came home, and he found me in the living room in front of a roaring fire, which made him very angry. Because we didn’t have a fireplace.”
―Victor Borge

A bit of a misadventure occurred last weekend when I managed (don’t ask) to burn my right hand over a good portion of the palm and fingertips on Saturday night. I’m no stranger to injury, my klutziness ensures that various bumps and bruises are never far off, but I’ve never been particularly badly burned before. Let’s just say I would not have been cut out for martyrdom, it hurt like a [censored].

After keeping it under cool water for twenty minutes while Jeff consulted the NHS and various hospital sites, we wrapped my fist in a wet towel and hopped on the Tube. Guy’s Hospital was only one stop away so we figured it would be a fairly painless enterprise (I say painless, but it should be noted that my nerves were well and truly freaking out at this point and long moments of tingly numbness would turn into even longer moments of eye-splitting throbs that made my whole arm shake, it was not fun). However when we arrived, the nurses informed us that we would have to go to the nearest Accident and Emergency center instead, which required another Tube ride to Westminster to walk across the bridge under the shadow of Big Ben to St. Thomas Hospital instead.

My language had deteriorated to dock worker level by this point, but after the wait to get checked in and sent to yet another area of the hospital, I didn’t feel particularly bad about the fact. The nurse who treated me first tried a silicone wrapping that made everything feel significantly worse before suggesting what she called, “Old fashioned treatments,” instead. Apparently the thing that causes the pain with burns is contact with air so the real trick is to cut off the connection. You learn something new every day! She covered my hand in an oily solution and taped a sterile, bright orange plastic bag around it and then asked a surprising question.

“Do you drink, my dear?”
“No,” I responded.
“I mean alcohol,” she said helpfully.

Note. Can we just take a moment to recognize that she seemed to interpret my “no” to mean anything BUT alcohol and felt the need to clarify?  In Britain, water is optional, booze is not.

“Yes, I know. I don’t drink.”
“Oh!” she said, looking genuinely baffled. “Well, I would have suggested a glass or two of wine, but just stick with the paracetamols then.”

Clearly we were going very old school in our methods. A life’s ambition realized, kittens, I have been prescribed medicinal spirits. Someone bring me my fainting couch!

At the time it felt like it took forever, but it turns out I went from injury to (free!) treatment and was back out the hospital door in less than two hours. I was off most typing for a day and a half, but things are looking pretty good. Compliments of Jeff and his assorted merit badges.

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Meeting the Queen…’s Residence

“Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail.”
― John Donne

Jeff and I dedicate a substantial amount of our time off to going on “wanders” (some people verb nouns, we noun verbs) across the city. Quite often we’ll just pick an area to explore and set off down any street that looks interesting. We wend our way through tourist areas, obscure roads, hidden squares, and vast parks. It’s a lot of fun, but occasionally one of us is surprised.

A couple of weekends ago, as we ambled through Westminster, Jeff casually remarked that he had never really seen Buckingham Palace. I stopped short.
“What do you mean? It’s one of the main sites and you’ve lived here for two years now.”
He shrugged, “Just never got around to it.”

We happened to be crossing a wide, ornate lane at the moment and Jeff glanced up the tree lined road.
“What’s up this way?” he asked.
“Buckingham Palace,” I said dryly.
“How handy,” he replied and tugged me towards the residence.

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Good find, love.

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Nice pad.

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Louis XIV is beyond not impressed.

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St. James Park, just next door.

Friday Links

“There is little chance that meteorologists can solve the mysteries of weather until they gain an understanding of the mutual attraction of rain and weekends.”
~Arnot Sheppard

Another big week. We had our friend Lark in town last weekend and through the start of this week, it was delightful to see her! Beyond that I had meetings, copy writing, and work enough to make me glad for the weekend. Although the weather has turned cold and rainy lately and shows no signs of stopping. The notoriously short British summer might have already come and gone, kittens!

The links this week are quick and dirty, please add anything you’ve read or seen worth sharing in the comments and let me know what you get up to this weekend!

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Interesting piece about complaining!

As a military brat, I find this fascinating. Cheese?

I think I could really get up the nose of a future Home Owners Association with one of these gorgeous things!

A world of only Facebook “likes” is a world we don’t want to live in.

They shall remain nameless at present but I have multiple friends with manuscripts being reviewed by publishers and would just like to refer them to these. When I am so lucky as to join them, I shall certainly take inspiration.

Correct, because it is excellent.

Word changes are interesting to me, not just how their usage shifts around over the centuries, but their pronunciation as well. Grammar Girl has a great list of a few such developments.

This gorgeous handbag line was featured in Liberty a while back and I’ve started seeing it pop up elsewhere, so clearly we need to help get the word across the Pond as well.

Brace yourself for our future robot overlords.

It’s Shark Week and the annual controversy is alive and well.

HONY is out of New York this summer…and amazing, important things are happening.

There’s a lot in this piece that resonates with me. I grew up a military brat and worked in a police department for five years, and in that time I do feel I caught a glimpse of this militarized cop mentality which concerned me. In this country, soldiers are not cops and cops are not soldiers, and there is a reason for that.

Discovering YouTube (kind of…)

“The internet is just a world passing notes around a classroom.”
― Jon Stewart

YouTube came along in the winter of my freshman year of university and I have fond memories of the stupid. meme-y vids that zipped around our dorm rooms and gave rise to a million inside jokes.

This is, of course not news to anybody but me, but from humble beginnings YouTube has become a powerful force in the media world and one I didn’t start to fully appreciate until about a year ago. Prior to that I used it to share humorous things with friends (maturing past freshman year not a whit in this regard), see trailers for films, occasionally be introduced to new artists, or general time wasting. It’s a great repository of copy and pasted content, but what I’ve really enjoyed discovering is all the original content available on it as a medium.

Again, not news. But a lot of fun for me nonetheless! Over the past couple of years, here are few of the YouTubers who I’ve found, followed, and loved. Share your favorite channels and tell me what I, media plebe, need to know about.


The Needledrop is my most recent find. I have no shame at all in saying that Jeff is the resident music expert and I’m very out of touch with it in a lot of ways. I simply tend to find and listen to things that bear up to my incredibly rigorous standards of “sounding nice,” while he’s much more familiar with history and Persons of Note. Although I did introduce him to The Civil Wars, which doesn’t absolve me from the Ke$ha songs on my workout playlists. The Needledrop is run by Anthony Fantano who is a prolific reviewer and commenter, he posts several times a week to his channel. In addition to just finding things that sound good to me, I tend to enjoy music on a song by song basis and don’t really dive deep into whole albums, which is why I like his reviews. He’s definitely got a quirky style that takes some getting used to (plus a humorous alter ego with terrible music tastes), but I find his posts to be very thoughtful and interesting. I started with some reviews of artists I knew…and then started exploring new music. It’s been fun.

I shouted out to Thug Notes several months ago, but the channel has expanded now to do philosophy as taught by video games, plus other upcoming projects, and now goes by the name Wisecrack. The Thug Notes literary summaries still have my heart, though!

I’ve also discovered the strange and gorgeous world of beauty channels. Where were these when I was a ridiculous semi-tomboy-with-secret-but-frustrated-feminine-aspirations?! The one I want to be best friends with is probably EssieButton, a Canadian-turned-Londoner with gorgeous makeup taste and a wacky sense of humor who just sounds like she’d be fun to hang out with in real life. But I’ve also checked out Vivianna Does Makeup (another Londoner, who I’ve actually exchanged an email with and admire for doing her thing so young!) and That Is All (who often talks about natural makeup, healthy eating, and other things).

Less self-indulgently, CGP Grey does fun, educational vids about somewhat obscure topics that are terribly entertaining!

Glove and Boots. A cast of puppet characters and the internet. Mayhem ensues.

Everyone knows about the vlogbrothers channel, run by YA author John Green and his brother, entrepreneur, musician, and lots of other things besides, Hank Green. I enjoy John Green’s books just fine, although I find a distinct lack of variation in a lot of his books that I hope he gets out of, but I enjoy a lot of his videos and perspectives, even when I don’t entirely agree. Hank, I can’t even keep up with. The man is busy! But I admire the community of, largely, teens and young adults they’ve created and think they manage to encourage a lot of good with their various foundations and charitable pushes. Worth checking out, but I like many more of their spinoff projects more!

I’ve raved about The Lizzie Bennet Diaries before, so I’ll just say go watch it. Two other adaptations have followed, Sanditon and Emma Approved that are also great, Emma Approved is still ongoing. These projects are extremely clever and weave a lot external social media elements into the story telling that can be a lot of fun to follow along with.

The Brain Scoop is another Green brothers project, now taken over by Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. Host Emily Graslie does brilliant episodes ranging on everything from taxidermy to evolution, occasionally bringing in experts or introducing various museum collections to the audience. One of her most notable episodes deals directly with women who make (or as it happens, don’t make, and why) educational STEM content, but one of my recent favorites is about the common misconception that Dimetrodon is a dinosaur – it isn’t.

CrashCourse is the last Green project I’ll pimp, series of educational playlists covering science, psychology, US and world history, and literature. Obviously I’m biased in favor of the last three.



London Snapshot

“We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
― Winston Churchill

Britain’s in the midst of honoring the first year of WWI this year, but this monument is one of my favorite wartime memorials in London. A little vague, still deeply appreciated.

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A handbook was issued to American GIs stationed in Britain during WWII that cautioned them how to behave to British women. It pointed out how most of the women they encountered, whether in uniform or out, had been at war a lot longer than they had and had already sacrificed time, skills, labor, and lives to the cause. They had mobilized to grow food, work in factories, provide medical and military service, run businesses, protect communities, and perform critical work to keep the nation together. As such, the handbook stressed they deserved to be treated respectfully as comrades in arms. So say we all.