Kitchen Planning Continues: Decision Overload

When I approach a problem, I like to break it down into its fundamentals. Don’t look at writing a book as tackling a 100,000 word problem. Look at it as 100 different 1,000 word goals, and suddenly it’s much more attainable. That’s a process that has served me well over the years, but it’s one that’s being severely tested by my plans to renovate the kitchen.

The basic problem is that there are just too many decisions for me to process at once, especially since I like to find The One Best Answer to each problem. If I want to fly to Orlando, I do research to find the best flight to take me there, accommodating for price, time, comfort, and convenience. That’s a problem with a solution. Kitchens are problems with solutions as well. But there are so many of those individual problems . . .

Case in point: Denisa and I want new cabinets, but we don’t want to break the bank to get them. So to figure out what the “best cabinets” for us are, we have to balance cost, materials, colors, design, and construction. But each one of those breaks down into further decisions. I could have someone come and make custom cabinets. It would be expensive. But even then, I’d have to decide what I want them to look like, where they should go, what should be inside them, etc.

Right now, I’m looking at using Barker Cabinets. They’re a company out of Oregon that makes ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets out of really solid materials. I’ll know exactly what I’m getting with them, and the cost is cheaper than custom made, but more expensive than other RTA cabinets (of questionable quality). But even having made that decision, I still need to tackle color, size, function, and the like.

It’s tempting to just throw my hands up and say, “I want cabinets. I don’t care what they look like. I just want ones that work.” But that’s not going to get me what I really want in the long run, so instead I just have to bite the bullet and take the time to churn through the decisions, one by one. Still, some of the decisions get to be so nitty gritty. There are options for what sort of hinges your cabinets have. Soft close? Do I want the doors to be pure maple, or maple frames with MDF centers? Do I want toe kicks that are recessed or flush?

And this is just for cabinets! I have to do the same process for countertops, appliances, electrical outlay, flooring, and more?

Thank goodness I’m starting this well in advance . . .

Anyone else out there handle a kitchen renovation on your own? How did you wrangle all the countless details into something manageable?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Ranked Choice Voting and Sour Grapes

Last year, you’ll recall Maine became the first state in the nation to experiment with ranked choice voting. Full disclaimer: I’m in complete favor of the approach. All the arguments against it that I’ve seen so far are nothing more than hot air spoken by people who either don’t fully understand the concept (and choose not to enlighten themselves) or seem to be doing their best to make other people unable to fully understand the concept.

To illustrate, I present to you Exhibit A: Bruce Poliquin, the Republican Congressman who lost his seat last year because of Ranked Choice Voting. He’s making the rounds now, decrying the format because it “robbed” him of the election. Oh wait. I mean, because it robbed the voters of the election.

In Poliquin’s account to the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Election Laws, “on Election Day 2018, I won my second re-election by receiving 2,200 more votes than any of my three liberal opponents, one Democrat and two Independents.”

Poliquin, though, didn’t win.

That initial, first-round count on Election Night wasn’t the final word, because Maine voters in 2016 and again in June 2018 adopted ranked-choice voting. The process requires election officials to add in the second- or third-place choices of voters whose first pick came up short.

Poliquin said the backers of independents Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar essentially “got another bite of the apple” when their votes were redistributed between the two leaders in the race, as the law mandates.

In effect, he said, “those voters who cast their primary ballots for the two candidates who least represent” the values of the district “ended up choosing the rank-vote winner. Very misguided and unfair.”

To me, this is like a football team being upset because they were ahead at halftime, and yet the other team was allowed to come out and play in the second half. That team “got another bite of the apple” when their points were counted in the second half.

Ranked Choice Voting was decided by the voters. (Multiple times!) The rules were plain as day well in advance of the election. The election then ran according to those rules. And then suddenly when it didn’t go the way he wanted to, it’s a travesty?

Let’s try basketball, instead. Up until 1979, the NBA didn’t have 3 pointers. All shots counted for 2 points. In 1979, that rule changed. Suddenly, shots a certain distance from the basket counted for more points. That was the new rule of the game. If a team were to object to losing by a few points “because those three point shots shouldn’t count for three points,” what are you supposed to tell them?

The rules changed, buddy. Move on. It doesn’t make anyone’s vote more powerful than anyone else’s. It makes it so that you can vote for who you want to vote for and not have to worry that your vote is ultimately wasted in a political climate dominated by two parties. It makes it so independents can more effectively woo voters, who know they can vote for them without making it so the person they want least to be elected gets elected because that person’s opponents split the vote.

Poliquin’s out there trying to paint it like this was such chaos. Like the entire thing was a disaster, and Mainers are all up in arms about it. It’s true that I’ve talked to about three people (total) out of all of my friends who didn’t like it. But (though this may be hard to believe) I’ve got way more than three friends. It wasn’t chaos. It ran as expected. If you really wanted Poliquin elected, you maybe object because the person you wanted to win, didn’t.

Sour grapes, people. Ranked choice voting was wonderful. I hope the whole country follows suit.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

“OK, Boomer” is Not OK

I’ve been following the “OK, Boomer” trend happening online at the moment, and it’s gotten to the point that I feel like I have something to say about it, even at the risk of sounding like an old man shaking his cane at the young whippersnappers.

For those of you who haven’t been following along, allow me to sum up. First, you need to understand the general generational breakdown of America.

  • The Silent Generation (1925-1945)
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964)
  • Generation X (1965-1980)
  • Millennials (1981-2000)
  • Gen Z (2001-present)

Next, you have to acknowledge that some have done their best to classify the members of these generations by very broad strokes. “Baby Boomers are racist” or “Millennials only care about avocado toast.” And this is where it all breaks down for me.

I fail to understand why it’s frowned on these days to stereotype a person based on their skin, sex, or orientation, but stereotyping based on age (or (some) religions) isn’t just allowed, it’s often humorously encouraged. (Religion is a separate issue which could really derail this conversation, but succinctly put, I think the test should be, “What if I were to make this same comment about a Muslim or a Jew? Would it still be funny/appropriate?” Yes, you can start splitting hairs about which religions you personally think are valid or which you think are harmful, but I think that misses the point. Just because you personally see no value in a thing doesn’t mean it has no value, and doesn’t give you the right to mock it.)

But back to my point.

Every “Ok, Boomer,” and “Millennials are killing” statement made does nothing to contribute to a constructive conversation. It only isolates us by putting us into silos. Ageism is not okay, and that’s what this whole trend is all about on both sides of the argument. You’ve got generations of people dismissing other generations of people based on nothing more than preconceived notions about how that generation thinks and behaves. There’s a cognitive dissonance there, and I think it’s wrong not to acknowledge it and try to correct it.

“But the Boomers were here first, and they messed up our country and elected Donald Trump.”

“But the Millennials have a terrible work ethic and need to be taught how the real world works.”

Those objections? They might apply to individuals, but they’re far from 100% fact. And when someone you’ve painted with that oh-so-broad brush objects to the coating you gave them? They get hurt, and another little wedge is driven between us.

Of course, as I write this, I begin to wonder if this isn’t just the ageist equivalent of me saying “All ages matter.” I understand the anxiety and fear many Millennials and Gen Z-ers are feeling. The lack of real jobs, the bleak future, the feeling that they’re underrepresented in the halls of power, where decisions are made that have very real impacts on them. I don’t mean to dismiss those feelings. But instead of using a misguided ageist approach, why not band together with the people who agree with the things you’re trying to get done?

There’s as many Millennials as there are Boomers this year in America. Next year, there will be more. Get out and vote and start doing what you can to change the country for the better, as opposed to posting witty memes that exacerbate the problem.

Sigh. This came out much preachier than I wanted it to. All I wanted to do was explain why I haven’t been posting or liking any of the “OK, Boomer” comments that I’ve been seeing everywhere. I’m not a Boomer, and I’m not a Millennial, so maybe it’s not on me to try and solve the problem.

Doesn’t make this Gen Xer not want to try, though . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Heavy Meta #23: MakerSpaces with Matt Jacobson

In this episode, Kelly and I are joined by Matt Jacobson, IT Support Services Manager, to talk about the relatively new MakerSpace on campus. Have questions about what a MakerSpace is and why you might want to use one? Here are your answers. And a friendly reminder that if you’re a UMF student, staff, or faculty member, you’ve got access to free 3D printing in the library. Check it out!

Right click to download audio file.

The Simpsons Have Outdisneyed Disney

Disney+ launched Tuesday, and I subscribed on the first day. (A pretty easy decision, since I have a Verizon Unlimited plan, and they offered a free year of Disney+ for free to me.) I would have subscribed anyway, because I’m a self-confessed Disney junkie. I grew up on all the old Disney movies, and I’ve gone about buying them up on Blu-ray over the years as well.

I sat down with Tomas for a while yesterday and we looked over everything the service has to offer. We watched a few things: the first episode of the X-Men cartoon, the first episode of the old Ducktales show, and the first episode of The Simpsons. (Verdict? Ducktales and the Simpsons stood up marvelously well. X-Men? That was . . . pretty bad. Disappointing, since in my memory it was completely awesome. A highlight of Saturday mornings. The writing, the character introductions, the plot . . . all very weak now. Not sure I even want to give it a second shot, honestly. And that’s sad.)

But one thing I wasn’t expecting (though I really should have) was the content disclaimers they attached to some of the shows. The original Mickey Mouse Club, Dumbo, Aristocats. (No sign of Song of the South anywhere on the service, which should surprise absolutely no one.) The disclaimer wasn’t for language or sexuality. Instead, it reads “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”

“Outdated cultural depictions” is a very tame way of saying “things that are blatantly, offensively racist,” but it’s still interesting they put in the disclaimer. (They didn’t go as far as old Tom and Jerry shows, which have a disclaimer admitting that such depictions were wrong then and are wrong now, but . . . I’m not really surprised by that, either.)

Of course, to a family-friendly studio like Disney, they’re in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation. You’ve got a ton of Disney-philes who demand their Dumbos and their Peter Pans unaltered, but then you have to admit that those movies are flagrantly racist. As soon as you admit that, however, you’ve got people who will clamor that they *weren’t* racist “for their time,” or rather that “Everyone was racist back then,” which is a weak claim at best, and an outright lie at its heart. People weren’t all racist, but racism was much more acceptable by the mainstream back then.

But to make a long story short, I don’t know of a way Disney could have handled those shows without upsetting someone. So they chose this route, which is better than no disclaimer at all.

What really caught my eye, however, was the lack of any such disclaimer for The Simpsons. Yes, you could definitely have a conversation about Apu and other depictions of race on The Simpsons, but let’s be real: the way race is handled (or mis-handled) on that show pales in the face of the way it’s handled in the Siamese Cat song.

The thing is, growing up, I remember Bart Simpson being produced as Exhibit A for everything that was wrong about current media trends. The Simpsons was verboten for many families. Families who no doubt would have preferred their kids to watch something wholesome like Peter Pan or Lady and the Tramp.

So it was surprising to see we have come to a point where the wholesome and unwholesome have switched places. I know there are those who will object to this. Who will say that the Simpsons remains rude and irreverent, and people decrying Disney are being “too PC.” But I watched the Simpsons last night. It’s TV-PG for a reason. There was nothing there I was worried about. Not in the same way I’d want to have a conversation with my kids about racial stereotypes after they watch “Why Is the Red Man Red?”

Thoughts?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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