Weeks 41-43

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They make no sense, deserts. They are an affront to comprehension. I’ve never been anywhere so empty than these alien landscapes, scarred and parched, impossible for me to comprehend. And then you have the preposterous oasis, the cities carved out of rubble, the green valleys hidden between folds in the mountains. They are inventions. Deserts make no sense, unless you are a snake or tumbleweed or a cactus.

We escaped for a change of scenery, played scrabble, and dunked ourselves in the pool. The heat was oppressive, the break perfect. Ten days and we were back home.

The last seven months have been a ride. I’ve thrown myself into work because I am stupid, but also frankly what else do you do when you can barely leave the house? But the last few weeks have been a different kind of effort, more enjoyable, just as daunting.

Three new faces on my team: Eileen Guo joined to start reporting on ethics and social issues, and Lindsay Muscato and Cat Ferguson helping spin up our project to look at pandemic technologies in even more depth.

We popped up a daily election newsletter, The Outcome, from Patrick Howell O’Neill and Abby Ohlheiser. We held a conference!

Oh, and then there was the magazine. That explains my silence in September.

Somewhere along the way I managed to read a lot. Some for pleasure: Angela Chen’s Ace blew my mind and made me think about society’s attitude towards sex in ways I didn’t expect.

And then, for an essay I’m writing, I read a lot about food and hunger. A couple of older classics like Enough by Roger Thurow and Feeding Frenzy by Paul MacMahon. Some fresher morsels like Food or War (Julian Cribb) Bite Back (edited by Sayu Jayaraman+Kathryn De Master), Uncertain Harvest (Ian Mosby et al), Perilous Bounty (Tom Philpott) Food Town, USA (Mark Winne) and not one but two paeans to the potato from Rebecca Earle. This binge puts me a tiny bit ahead in my one-book-a-week challenge for the year, finally.

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