It’s Been A Minute

Good grief! I’ve been busy not knitting. Yup, still not knitting. They’re doing a Loopy Day Camp this summer on Ravelry in the Loopy Groupies group. Meh. I know I need a mojo specialist or maybe a yarn infusion.

Other things are sucking up my time. My day job, which really takes up little of my time ordinarily, is ramped up a bit. It involves dealing with stuff and people and I am not a happy dealer, much like I shall not be a happy camper. Lots of scheduling and meeting but mostly waiting and waiting and waiting. Did I mention I’m not a happy waiter? Wouldn’t mind if I felt like knitting.

There are a few fun things taking up some of that wait time. I’m killing it on Candy Crush Soda. Yes I know the game is passé since it’s been out for ages but it’s on my phone and is good for killing time and ignoring shit. I made level 4477 this morning. See killing it.

Somehow The Husband discovered eating challenges on YouTube. Yes, people post videos of themselves doing those massive restaurant eating challenges. I am equally amazed and disgusted. Some videos are super fun but others just make me want to puke. This opened the door to people who post videos touring/reviewing buffets. Goodness these are fun and making my travel bucket list longer. The Husband also discovered The Hoof GP, a guy who is basically an animal podiatrist. I don’t recommend mixing this with the food videos. Queasiness will follow.

I’ve been listening to a couple new podcasts. I recently started listening to The Presidents Daily Brief. It’s a quick (15-20 minute) daily podcast on current events. The host, Bryan Dean Wright is a former CIA operations officer. It’s good and hits things you might not learn about in other places. I also listen to The Monica Crowley Podcast. It’s fast paced and has an upbeat tone as it covers current topics.

Before bed I have been putting in a good 30-45 minutes reading. I’ve got an endless list of books I’d like to read and dedicating this time has helped to make it happen. Right now I’m reading Covid-19 and The Global Predators by Peter R Breggin MD. I’m reading it on Hoopla on my phone which is a challenge right before bed because my eyes and brain are tired but the book is good and worth the effort.

I made a fresh strawberry pie yesterday. Damn it’s too tasty. I plan to make another once I get my hands on some fresh local strawberries in June.

Myles update: He’s good but way too smart. Every evening after we’ve settle down for a little TV I’ll ask The Husband if he’d like a cup of tea. Myles perks right up because that means dessert. When I’d cut the pie and returned it to the refrigerator I pulled out the can of whipped cream and Myles couldn’t get his butt on the floor fast enough in front of his water bowl. He remembered having a squirt of whipped cream at Christmas and wanted another now. Of course he had his while we had ours. He then spent 15 minutes licking his mustache making sure he got every bit. Good thing or he’d have been trying to get mine.

What have you been up to?

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Lessons Not Forgotten

I know I’ve said over and over how I love to ask questions. It’s how my brain puzzles things out. If I don’t have current data that provides an answer to my questions I go back in time to previous life experience to see how those experiences stack up to current questions.

I’ve also talked endlessly of how my brain is a number brain. I know some people are more art or color driven, as are many crafts people. My brain drills everything down to numbers. For example when I knit a cable pattern I just automatically think of each step as a number so my brain may say 3, 2, 3. I’m not thinking cable left or right and I’m surely not picturing the stitches all lined up as a photo in my head. It’s just a string of numbers and my hands do what the numbers stand for.

I often boil other things down to numbers too. These numbers stick in my head so later, for example when I go to buy gas I can say much to the surprise of The Husband that gas has gone up $.20 since last week or two weeks ago. He doesn’t have a number brain like I do. He often times can’t remember what he paid for gas just moving from the pump to the drivers seat. It’s just not how his brain works. He has a facts brain. He can remember facts which is really great when watching Jeopardy.

As I watch prices go up I am reminded of lessons I learned in the 1970s. In the 70’s when I was in junior high I first became cognizant of prices and the way people react as prices rise. Sure I’d seen Hershey bars go from $.05 to $.10 earlier than that but the price of a candy bar doesn’t have the reverberations of the price of home heating oil or food.

In junior high I had a friend named Mary. She was my first new friend at the school where all the kids of the same age attend. Mary lived across town so it wasn’t like we could just pop over and hang out. We used to spend a lot of time on the phone. That’s how we got to know each other. She was the oldest of three girls and her sisters loved to pick up the extension and listen to our conversation. Mary would yell to one of her parents to make them hang up.

One weekend I was invited to spend the night at Mary’s house. I packed up my pajamas, toothbrush and sleeping bag and my mother dropped me off with the instructions to behave and try to get some sleep. After hanging around and listening to music for a while we put on our pajamas. I was surprised to see that Mary and her sisters all wore sweatshirts over their pajamas. Mary offered me one of hers. She said her father would be turning the heat down when he went to bed so we’d be cold without them. At the time I didn’t think too much about it. I happily put the sweatshirt on and continued having fun. We probably slept about 3 hours that night. In the morning we ate cereal while watching cartoons and soon after my mother picked me up.

Sometime later I mentioned that Mary’s family wears sweatshirts to bed because they turn the heat down at night. I’m sure I mentioned it in passing because it didn’t seem like a big deal to me. My mother said that they were probably trying to save a little money because the price of oil had gone up. The thought fit with other comments Mary had made. We’d taken her out to dinner and she said she’d never eaten somewhere so fancy. Mary often commented on the clothes worn by the other girls. Clothes were never my thing, still aren’t, so the meaning was lost on me.

Like many junior high friendships we grew apart by high school each settling in with a different clique. I’ve thought about Mary and her sisters over the years. I learned a lot from our time as friends.

Around the same time I remember there being a story going around, I don’t remember if it was actually news or just a story, that elderly people were eating dog and/or cat food. I know at the time I was stunned by this. The thought of it was just unimaginable to me. Of course I asked my mother if it was true. Her answer was that you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I’d say she didn’t know if it was true or not but that if things got bad enough it could very well happen.

I never thought of myself as being a rich kid. We had what we needed and maybe a little extra. We felt the stagflation of the 1970’s just like everyone else but we were able to rearrange our budget and make more painless choices than other people had to make.

The people who are hurt the most in this kind of economic environment are those who live paycheck to paycheck and those on a fixed income. As prices rise decisions have to be made. Do you eat three meals a day or put gas in your car to get to work? Do you turn the heat down a few degrees to make that tank of oil last a few extra days? Do you visit the food pantry or eat dog food? When your rent or mortgage becomes too expensive do you move into your car? If people are having to make these types of decisions why are we promising Ukraine unlimited help in their war with Russia (including an additional $33 billion on top of the billions already approved) while Germany and other European countries continue to buy their energy from Russia there by financing the side they say they are against? I don’t understand but I suspect we are all being screwed, everyone from the citizens of Ukraine to the citizens of Russia to the citizens of Europe to the citizens of the USA. The ruling class is screwing us all.

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On Picking Battles

I was thinking the other day about how folks talk to each other. Often times there is a threshold where civility is thrown out the window and the gloves come off. They’re rolling around in the gutter and pulling hair. It’s not fun to watch and even less fun to be dragged into.

I learned as a parent to pick my battles. It isn’t worth arguing over the small stuff. You want to wear a bucket on your head feel free but you aren’t running into traffic. I apply picking my battles to grownups too.

I belong to a group on Ravelry that is one I really enjoy. There is a constant stream of free pattern links being offered. I consider these fiber folk to be some of the most kind and generous on Ravelry. I can’t tell you how many fabulous designers I’ve discovered through this group and how many lovely patterns I’ve gotten for free, more than could be knit in a lifetime.

There is one drawback to this group: their political thread. I believe in discourse. I believe we are each allowed our own opinion. I believe we are allowed to disagree. I believe we are allowed to change our beliefs as we move through life. This thread is maddening to read as someone who believes that the exchange of data and facts is how one discusses a topic they disagree on. Often the discussion turns to attacking the source of someone’s information or even to the person themself. It is always sprinkled with comments of “I have them on ignore so I can’t see what they said.” I chose not to participate for the same reason I didn’t tell H to take the bucket off her head: it wasn’t worth the battle.

Ravelry is a social media puddle compared to the ocean that is Twitter. But both have had a thumb on the scale of balance for years. Free speech was banned on Ravelry before it was banned on the big social media platforms. Now that Elon Musk has bought Twitter there has been rumblings that Twitter will change. It seems there is concern that the thumb will be removed from the scale allowing more voices to be heard, more reach given to those who were silenced.

I believe in free speech. It is a cornerstone of my country. I want everyone to have the right to express their opinion. I want those who I disagree with to be able to say things I disagree with. This is a battle I choose to fight.

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My Point Was Lost

In my last post I think I did a poor job of making my point. The tale of my first real full time job rambled and in the details the point was buried. Here is a much easier explanation.

If your thought starting point is different than what is actually going on every decision you make, based on that initial belief, won’t be the most informed or best. If the foundation of your moves is wrong you won’t end up where you think you’re going.

Have you ever been given directions (probably in the pre GPS days) and you just don’t end up where the person was sending you. It happened to me and it boiled down to the supplier of the info and I were starting at a different point. They thought I’d approach the intersection in one direction but I’d actually come in a different way. Then when I followed the lefts and rights they’d given me, without street names, I ended up way far afield. I did get there eventually and we laughed because of the assumption made over the starting street corner.

It’s so simple as one initial assumption being off and it shadows every additional decision. And when looking back it’s easy to see that the wrong turn was made even before the journey had begun.

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Imagine That You’re Wrong

Let’s have a conversation about a hypothetical. I’ll pose a question and using past experience explain my view. Feel free to contribute in the comments if you wish.

I’ve been turning this thought around in my head for a few weeks or longer. It takes different forms but overall the same theme keeps emerging.

What if you’re wrong? Can you imagine how that would change your view on things? What if at the origin you made the wrong assumption? What if one decision changed your entire thinking? What would you do? How would you rectify it?

Here is my example from my life experience. When I was a teenager I got a job working retail. I worked with really good people. The management team treated the “help”, even the teenagers who tended to not last long, as members of the team. We worked together for a common goal. Along the way skills were passed on and when the management team was rewarded for meeting their goals they in turn rewarded the underlings. It was a hugely positive place and definitely was the reason I continued on in the same company after college. I was promoted to a management team in a different store. From the outside it looked the same as where I’d started. The goals and tasks were the same but now I was in a position to motivate the staff as I’d been motivated.

Things went along well for a few months. I worked hard in all aspects of my job. I was able to pull the evening teenage staff together to get things done. The store manager’s manager, someone I knew from my previous store, would ask questions of the manager before passing along a compliment or criticism. Who closed last night? Who set up the sale? Who ordered that aisle? When in each case the answer was given a compliment or criticism then followed. This interaction was common because this guy’s office happened to be in the store.

Over time the manager’s manager stopped asking the manager questions. I’d seen him looking at the schedule. He was getting his own answers without asking the questions. He’d come to me directly and tell me what a good job I’d done. The store never looked better. He told me he appreciated how hard I worked.

Around this same time there was a change in the attitude of the manager. He was cranky, delegating more work to me and the other member of the team. I also heard through the grapevine that the manager wasn’t happy with the team. This situation blew up when the manager took two weeks vacation and then I took two weeks vacation. While I was gone there was a conversation between the manager and the other team member where he tried to convince the team member that I was intentionally making them look bad. That I was getting them in trouble with his manager to improve my position. The team member told me this in front of another employee who ran back to the manager to let him know what I’d been told.

I’d made a big mistake. I’d assumed that being part of a team meant that everyone was working towards the same goal. I assumed we were a team. That everyone would work to benefit everyone. I believed (though I didn’t know the saying then) that team work made the dream work. I learned that not everyone has the best intentions and that even when you are doing something that benefits someone else they don’t necessarily appreciate it and will cut your throat even if it hurts them. Sometimes people only want the win if they scored the goal. I learned that sometimes people are assholes and don’t behave like adults.

Just to finish the story. I made the decision over the last few days of my vacation that I wasn’t going to work in a place with that kind of environment. I shouldn’t be undermined and I sure shouldn’t do a worse job to make others look better. I decided to go to the manager’s manager and give him my notice. I arrived early that morning for my shift and went into his office. I told him that I was giving my two weeks notice and that I didn’t think this job was for me. He wasn’t happy to hear this. He asked some questions and I told him what had happened. He said not to worry. He valued my work and didn’t want to lose me. To come back the next day to talk again. In that 24 hours the manager was transferred and so were the other team member and I. We ended up in vastly different stores. I was sent to a busy mall location that was in need of glue to pull the management team together, my team mate was sent to my original location to learn what it’s like to work where everyone works together and the manager was sent to a small store with a couple of well seasoned middle of the road team members.

I don’t know what happened to any of these people. I left the company a couple years later when I got married and moved across country. I look back on my time working there positively. There were bad things that happened but overall I did my best and really to me that is the most important thing.

I know of other examples in my life where I went into a situation believing a generally agreed upon assumption. Then I learned that no, that isn’t how it actually works but it is what they say. I’m not naive. I know people can be good or evil. I know some people tend to take advantage of others and shift situations to their benefit. For my own mental health I like to believe what people say and I do, until they show me who they are.

So imagine that you’re wrong. You’re wrong based on that first assumption, based on a believed truth that wasn’t. And every decision you made from that position was the wrong one because of that believed truth that actually isn’t true. That’s a big pill to swallow. I suspect a lot of people just can’t swallow that pill no matter how hard they try.

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A Weird Weekend

I hope you had a lovely weekend and a Happy Easter if you celebrate it. My weekend was fine though surreal. I’m getting used to living in a universe next to “normal”.

On Wednesday N contacted us. I think he called on the telephone. That ups the alert level in a way. He’d taken his twice weekly (or maybe it’s thrice, the rules change and the updates arrive after the rules have been applied.) Covid test and failed. This kid doesn’t usually fail tests so he was thrown off kilter. Per the college rules as we knew them he was to leave campus and return home since travel via public transportation wasn’t necessary. We picked him up and had him home before the school could email us their new rules for quarantine (aka: we have so many test failures that we can’t house everyone individually so you’re on your own and we can’t feed you all so here’s UberEats vouchers. N was disappointed to miss out on those since those who traveled home were on their own for food. I think the pizza we ordered served as a fair consolation prize.

After years of playing nurse to my children I know what them being sick looks like. Both children have allergies so I’m familiar with that too. If it’s April N is suffering from his usual maple pollen allergy: most pronounced symptom is a cough. So having failed the Covid test I expected to see something, anything additional to the normal for April cough. Nothing. No fever, no runny nose, no headache. Just the usual April cough.

The email from the school included the instructions to do nothing until you hear from us again on day 5 with further instructions. And do not contact us. His one class was canceled on Thursday because more than half the class was on the failure list. He consoled himself with video games.

Yesterday aka day 5 arrived and the instructions were to come back to the school and test. If you pass you may return on day 6. If you fail you may return on day 12, no test required. In a not Easter miracle N passed his test and will return to school later today.

While our expected Easter weekend was turned upside down we made the most of what we were given. And in this universe that’s adjacent to “normal” that’s the best we can do.

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Armchair Anthropology

As I’ve said before I love to turn things over and look at them in different ways. I like to see the way things evolve and change. I enjoy observing people and how they live, what they value and what they share with the world. I think that’s one of the things that draws me to blogs, YouTube and social media in general. I also turn that interest around and apply it to myself. Introspection shall we say.

The Husband and I back when we were first married had one television so there was negotiation over what we’d watch. We both got our way on the individual must see things. We watched a lot of 30 minute sitcoms. They were popular at the time. At some point we shifted over to 60 minute dramas. We were still watching scripted programming but the storylines were more involved. The evolution from one style of program to another was slow. I don’t think we were aware that it was even happening. Isn’t that how evolution works? We then shifted to docuseries, things like Survivor, Dirty Jobs or Swamp People. Now we are watching more individual made content like YouTube and Instagram.

What I like about the content I chose to watch on YouTube (The Husband uses Instagram, I don’t.) is the passion the creators bring to the videos they made. I also enjoy seeing the different interests. The watching of YouTube is an activity The Husband and I share which in and of itself I find interesting. Our interests are vastly different but we still negotiate what we watch. While I don’t think either of us would have initially chosen to watch the videos of the other we’ve come to look forward to and appreciate the content that these people present.

I’ve read that Andy Warhol said that in the future everyone would be world famous for 15 minutes. I don’t know if that’s true but places like YouTube have given me the opportunity to “get to know” people I wouldn’t have otherwise. And to me that’s a good thing.

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My Own Backyard

I’ve been a lifelong citizen of Massachusetts. Legally I’ve always been a resident even if I did live away from 1985-1992*. I’ve always voted here and paid taxes. I am used to living in a place steeped in history (of the US variety). My ears perk up and my interest is peeked when something is Massachusetts related. I’m a fan of the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots and Celtics not by interest but by blood. I have a keen interest in what happens in my state currently and in the past. It’s just how I’m wired. Maybe you feel that way about the place you hail from, maybe not. We are all different.

In my travels around the World Wide Web if I see something Massachusetts I take a moment to see what is being shown. I happened upon a Substack that has a Massachusetts centric view. I happened upon a piece written about the Salem Witch trials, a topic I find both endlessly interesting and completely disturbing. I’ve read quite a bit about that time and have seen a number of documentaries. I’ve visited the area and gone to some of the “attractions”. I’ve visited the cemetery. I know what I’ve read about this time and place. I don’t know the feelings of the citizens or the circumstances of each of the individual people. I know a confluence of things came together and created a perfect storm, not the only one to hit my home state, of craziness and tragedy. There are lessons to be learned. History can repeat and it’s important to remember and reflect.

This is the article. Read it if you wish. There are more articles on this substack (just go to the archive and see the list) that I found to be of value not just to the people of Massachusetts but to the people who feel the winds of the storms that originate here.

*These dates are the years that The Husband served in the Air Force. We lived in California and Maine. But Massachusetts was, is and will always be home.

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Dog whistle

Look at that I’m back again. We had some windy wild weather overnight. Lots of driving rain. The kind of weather that makes the storm windows rattle and the house groan. So yes, my sleep was repeatedly interrupted. Alas, a poor night’s sleep is bonus thinking time I guess.

I love little phrases that sound crazy but have unexpected meaning. One of those is the worm that flies at night. I have a chronic case of that. At night when tossing and turning trying to find that comfortable spot so I can go back to sleep something will creep into my mind and I’ll be forced to give it a turn over to see who, what, when, where and why it’s there. I consider what is making it pop up and how do I feel about that. I’m no philosopher but I do use my brain for thinking and often in the dark of night while counting the minutes until morning I see something in a way I didn’t before. An epiphany of sorts.

When I was a kid and I discovered that dog whistles existed I wanted one. I just thought that I’d be able to use that whistle to magically call Fittle, my apricot miniature poodle to me silently. I didn’t understand how it worked but I thought it was a tool I needed. When I begged my mother to buy me one she took the time to explain to me that while we humans can’t hear the sound it’s super loud to the dogs. She told me she’d seen people use them and how the dog’s ears would twitch and the response was best over a great distance not from one room to another in a small house. To blow the silent whistle up close would be like nails on a chalkboard to Fittle. I still hate the sound of nails on a chalkboard.

A lot of years passed until I heard the phrase dog whistle again and that time it had a very different meaning. It was a political term where a word or phrase is used to signal a certain group: a sound only they will understand and react to.

My guess is the dog whistle word of the moment is groomer. As a person allergic to most dogs but still a dog lover I am well acquainted with which breeds don’t shed and how one deals with dogs with coats that continuously grow: you hire a groomer.

I also know that word has other meanings. Basically it’s a person who over time convinces you to do something you wouldn’t have done if they’d just told you to do it outright at the beginning. Think advertising. What? I’m sure I’ve confused you. Imagine living in my head. Companies don’t come out and say buy our product or else. They convince (aka groom) you need their product. A cruise company for example will show you people having fun, fancy dining, exciting destinations and tell you about a lifetime of memories They want you to imagine yourself in the scene.

The companies want your money but they can’t just demand you hand it over. That’s robbery. They have to convince you that you want whatever they’re offering so you’ll hand your money over.

I’ll never forget the ad I saw in the back of a magazine when I was small. It was to buy a monkey through the mail. I don’t remember how much it cost, maybe $20, but I asked if I could order a monkey. (Yes, I was a pain in the ass as a kid and I probably still am.) Being sensible my parents said no. No monkey. We don’t order animals through the mail. At some point later we went to visit my mother’s friend Mary Grace. Her kids were teenagers and did pretty much what they wished. When we arrived Michael who was 4 or 5 years older than me asked if I wanted to see their monkey. They had ordered the monkey through the mail that my parents said no to. The look I gave my mother! You probably won’t be surprised that I was shocked and saddened to see the tiny sickly spider monkey (I had expected a chimpanzee) cowering in the back of the bird cage. That was a lesson right there about so many things. The least of which was truth in advertising.

Much like advertising which can be used to manipulate for good or bad, words can be used to manipulate for good or bad. It’s up to each individual to do their due diligence to learn how a dog whistle works and what they’re being sold by who. That little frightened spider monkey died a few weeks after I saw it. It should never have been offered for sale through the mail to people who had no idea how to care for it. Will we look back at the things we are being sold with the same feelings? I don’t know but I do know what’s advertised isn’t always what you get.

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Happy Thursday

The weekend is almost here.

Let’s have a little conversation. I’ve been sitting back (not on the couch since the wind seems to have shifted on that for the moment) and watching, reading and listening. I spend a fair amount of time on different views. Mind you I still have my own view but I like to see what all sides have to say about different things.

Overall I’m a pretty live and let live kind of person. Don’t inflict your stuff on me and I won’t inflict mine on you. If you don’t like ice cream I don’t care. I don’t understand but it’s your palate not mine. If I could eat it for every meal and did you probably don’t care. You’d probably mention in passing that you don’t understand how one person can eat that much ice cream*. That would be about the extent of the conversation unless you pushed it further. I wouldn’t. That isn’t me.

I’ve been following a few issues that are pretty mainstream in the media currently. The arguments on both side have merits if viewed in a vacuum. It isn’t until both sides are looked at can the flaws ON BOTH SIDES be seen. Life isn’t lived in a vacuum so in practice everything has flaws.

When I was a kid it was commonplace to be told to look at the other person’s point of view when having a dispute. The words how do you think they feel were even said. Using this method lets someone get a feel (notice I didn’t say understand) for the other side. Is this not a thing anymore? Don’t people put themselves in someone else’s shoes? I remember being told when writing an essay to put forth both sides of an argue and put facts to support your position. Don’t they teach that in school anymore?

I follow a spicy thread in a forum on Ravelry just to watch the back and forth on the different incendiary topics. There is a lot of what I’d call insulting (when you attack the person as being dumb or uninformed or attack where they get their information and not stick to the topic) and a small amount of data. It’s a big photos or it didn’t happen kind of place. For example if I said I ate chocolate ice cream I better post a photo or they’d argue with me that it was vanilla or that I’d eaten liver. Even though it was my ice cream, I ate it and tasted it. No photo then they’re right. One time I’ve seen someone say a person of the opposite position had a good point. Yes, once. And yes, one point. The needle doesn’t move there at all.

I try not to be a what about person when I argue but in a lot of cases the only point that can be brought up is the what about. In heated discussions people rarely move closer in opinion. They often move farther apart. That is the nature of having a conviction, rightly or wrongly. The what about is usually a unicorn thought. Either no one mentions it because it’s contrary to their position or it’s so unusual it’s unlikely to be an important point.

What I often see when two people (or more really) on different sides of an issue argue is a toddler flailing on the floor in a complete meltdown. There is no winner here. There is no productive exchange of ideas. Unless all parties are grownups and can listen and respond like an adult there is no point in entering the conversation.

I have no easy answers to any of the big issues. I have my own personal beliefs which I follow no matter how the wind is blowing. I have no problem with others doing the same. Where I do have a problem is when people tell me what I should believe, how I should feel and how I should behave. They want the choice to do as they wish but don’t want to give others the same choice. I do have a big problem with that.

So feel like expressing your opinion in the comments? How do you think big issues should be dealt with? Do you see any way people with big differences of opinion can get a feel for the other side? As always I’m happy to have back and forth in the comments.

*Just to clarify I don’t eat ice cream for every meal or even every day. You’d probably be surprised to know that I haven’t actually eaten any in a couple of months. It’s just a minimally controversial item that removes talking about a big topic. Imagine the horror if I talked about yarn: acrylic v. wool. There would be blood in the comments. And just so you know, my opinion is that both have pluses and minuses. My stash contains both and I use them in projects as I see fit. In my opinion you are free to do as you see fit.

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