Thoughts Likely to Pop Into Your Head While Meditating at Davos

1. Fascinating conversation with Wim Drexler about how helicopters work. Terrific guy. Princeton.

2. Is my wife’s hair actually blonde?

3. I can’t tell if I really give a fuck about Greece or it’s just been going on so long I have convinced myself. Wait. If my wife’s hair isn’t actually blonde, is that less hot, or more hot?

4. Is it bad that during the Global Financial Council on the Global Financial System I kept thinking about how many we could just get rid of Cyprus?

I Was an Amazon Chew Toy

I moved to Seattle five years ago, after being laid off from my job in New York at one of those startups where employees rally around the VC-fueled dream until they’re dumped via email and locked out of the office. A job at a larger, more established company like Amazon sounded good. Solid. For my second round of job interviews, I had been called in for meetings at the department’s temporary office in the Columbia Center tower. In a city where executives wear faded jeans and backpacks to work, the Columbia Center is Seattle’s lone totem to conspicuous consumption: seventy-six floors that hover over downtown’s more modest skyscrapers by a good two to three hundred feet, and are wrapped in reflective black glass.

Amazon prides itself on a rigorous hiring process. For a low-level merchandising job in Amazon’s books department, after passing two phone screens that included a logic puzzle—“How many floors are there in the Columbia Center? No, don’t look it up! Pretend there is no Internet”—I was called in for five back-to-back interviews that lasted from morning through lunch. During a break between interviews, the human resources recruiter, Ashley Jones1, came in to tell me more about the company’s benefits. There is something about the fastidious personal grooming of HR recruiters that makes one feel dumpy; gazing at me behind thick, mascara-coated eyelashes that boasted immaculate lash separation, she talked 401(k)s and stock options while I stared longingly at her frizz-less locks. “And when we move to our new offices, you can bring your dog to work,” she said.

Realistic New Year’s Resolutions

Eat the Ginger

Around Christmastime, when you search for recipes with “ginger,” you get exclusively sweet things: gingerbread, gingersnaps, ginger cake, ginger donuts, ginger biscotti, ginger muffins. But ginger is so much more. It’s one of the four or five ingredients that I am never, ever without. I would like to share with you my One Weird Trick for using ginger in a foolproof and easy way.

Nearly everything I cook starts with the same process: Get out a pan, put some oil in it, and saute some combination of chopped plants; on Top Chef this is referred to as “building flavor,” or sometimes as creating a base. Onion is pretty much a given. Garlic, usually. Also common are celery, carrot, and peppers. (Depending on which specific ingredients you use and the various subtleties of how you use them, these base ingredients are sometimes called mirepoix, or soffritto—or, confusingly, sofrito, which is not the same thing; soffritto is Italian, sofrito is Spanish/Latin American, with slightly different ingredients depending on even which Latin American country you’re talking about.) Ginger is a key ingredient in a flavor base for so, so many cuisines—Indian, Chinese, Thai, Jamaican, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Filipino—so it should be as present in your cooking as garlic or onion, and you should have it on hand at all times. This can be difficult, because though it is fairly hardy, it will dry out after a while, and what if you have a stretch where you’re only cooking French or Italian food? Your ginger will go bad.

Except it won’t, because you should freeze your ginger.

Remedial Bicycling

When a Door-to-Door Vacuum Salesman Has an Existential Crisis in Your Living Room

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer Ijeoma Oluo tells us more about what happens when you let a stranger with a vacuum into your home.

No matter how much the Kirby dude compliments your hair, don't let him in. I'm like 5 years older than I was when he knocked on my door.

— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) January 3, 2015

Ijeoma! So what happened here?

Many people believe the dreaded Kirby salesman to be a relic of the past—middle-aged men with bowler hats and worn suitcases, staying at cheap motels and lamenting failing marriages. But today’s door-to-door salesman looks a bit different. I have had experience with Kirby Salesmen before; my cousin had done a short stint after he got out of jail. The salesman who knocked on my door around 5:30 p.m. had the same desperate, slightly meth-y look to him. I knew that I needed to find a way out of this.

“Nope. No, sorry,” I said as I tried to shut the door. But before I could, another salesman, apparently the boss, appeared like magic. Horrible, dark magic.

“Oh wow, you have the best hair I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It’s absolutely amazing.” There must be some sort of training manual that says if you run across a black woman, compliment her hair. Ugh, I’m such a sucker.

I let them in with the promise that there was absolutely no way I would buy a vacuum.

51 Minutes in a Revolving Door

Mid-turn, and the whole thing stopped moving. With a sighhhhh. And a click. The person in front of me (hair scraped into a bun and brown coat) was able to squeeze out. As was the person behind me (heavy boots and red scarf). But I was trapped. By three walls of glass. After much pushing and shrugging on my part, the security guard approached holding up a note written on the back of a ticket stub. Are you ok? Door stuck? His name tag said “Bill” and he could not have been older than 19. “I can hear you,” I said. “Yes it is. And yes, I’m fine.” Good, Bill wrote on his hand before, subsequently, transforming these words into a thumbs up. He turned to another security guard: “I think the door’s stuck,” he said. Bill’s Friend looks at the door. And then at me: “Christ.”

10:15 AM: Bill and his Friend start to pull the door. And like any self-respecting young woman living in a post-Liam-Neeson-Taken era, I decided to call… my father. “Dad. I’m trapped in a revolving door.” There followed a crunch of cornflakes. “Is this a metaphor?” My father asked. “Did you want to speak to your mother? You know I’m no good at these sorts of problems.” I tell him it’s real. I tell him it’s happening. I tell him to feed my fish if I don’t make it out. “Honey, [cornflake crunch/ swallow] have you actually tried pushing the door. Push the door. See what happens.” This whole time, museum patrons are trying to use the revolving door/my new glass prison. Puzzled when nothing happens, they look at me. And then exit through the side door to the left. Some of them shake their heads or roll their eyes. I have, they presume, broken the door. Children are crying: they wanted to go through “the spinning” door: “What did the lady do?” A small girl asks her mother. “I can hear you,” I say.

Why You Should Always Lock Your Car Doors in San Francisco

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, writer Roberto Baldwin tells us more about living in a state of Uber confusion—which is to say, California.

Pulled over to text wife. Someone got in my car thinking it was an uber. Le sigh

— Roberto Baldwin (@strngwys) January 3, 2015

Roberto! So what happened here?

At some point every car in San Francisco will be an Uber and every citizen, a driver, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when a random stranger walked up to my car, opened the passenger door, and started to take a seat. Actually, it’s really my fault. I pulled over to respond to a text from my wife a few yards from the famous-for-charging-too-much-for-toast coffee shop, The Mill. If you’re a car near The Mill, you’re probably picking up or dropping off a very important startup founder or VC. 

Still it was a bit surprising when a gentleman who was on the phone started to get into my car. Before he actually took a seat, he peered into the vehicle and I asked, “Can I help you?” His response, “Oh shit!” He then quickly closed the door and ran off. I mean ran in the literal sense. He actually ran away from the car. 

Lessons About Body Modification in the Dead of Winter

My baby did so well :)

A photo posted by Leah (@leahfinnegan) on Dec 12, 2014 at 5:29pm PST

A few weeks ago, my friend Jenna and I met up to get various parts of our heads pierced. She got a glittery rose-gold hoop put in her septum, very chic, and I got a gold hoop through the conch of my left ear. A new piercing, for the uninitiated, makes you kind of high. We teetered out of the shop, laughing, into the cold rain, trying not to disturb our new jewelry as we went to find vegan tacos to soothe our chosen wounds.

It turns out it was not a very practical idea to pierce my ear. While the actual act of piercing was not terribly painful, the wound soon became swollen, stiff, and seemed to radiate heat. I like to put things in and on my ears, like earplugs, headphones, and hats, because it is winter; with my fresh pierce even the thought of putting implements near my ear induced a spike of pain. Newly forbidden behaviors included playing with my hair, sleeping on my left side, and hugging my boyfriend. All of my idle time became dedicated to icing my ear and draining the puncture wound of pus. No matter that the complete healing time for this body modification is four to nine months.

Dog Versus Baby

I have owned a dog for my entire adult life—more properly, a Chihuahua. First, there was Sal. Then, for a brief period, there was Sal and Penny. Since 2007, it’s just been Penny. (RIP Sal.) Both Sal and Penny, despite their temperamental differences, have always been treated like actual family members. We rarely leave Penny at home while we vacation or visit family. And, like family, we have made great allowances, and often, excuses, for her misbehavior.

Anyone who knows Chihuahuas will be unsurprised to hear that Penny is abnormal for a dog but fairly standard for a Chihuahua. She is sweet and cuddly and playful. She doesn’t even mind strangers, once it’s clear they are staying for a while. She easily adapts to hotels and new houses and new people. But, her list of dislikes, or, more properly, things she cannot tolerate, is long: other dogs, birds, squirrels, loud noises, strollers of any sort, doorbells, delivery people of any sort, and of course, babies and small children.

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