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How to hang a shelf

Jordan 2021-03-26

I purchased these shelves to mount on our bedroom wall so that we could put some plants there and clear up space on the desk.

The shelves came with triangular mounting pieces, screws, and drywall anchors. The screws are used to attach the shelf to the mount, and the mount to the wall. To attach the screws to the shelf you don’t need a drill, you can actually just use a screwdriver because the wood is soft enough. Then to attach the mount to the wall, you have a few options. You could:

a) Drill a small “pilot hole” just smaller than your drywall anchor. Then hammer the anchor into the hole, and screw the screws into the anchor. The anchor splits apart as the screw goes in, adding stability. This kind of anchor is called an “expansion anchor.”


b) If you want to create a pilot hole for the anchor but don’t have a drill or drill bit, you can just hammer a nail approximately the size of the hole you want into the wall, and then pull it back out. This is also a nice way to create pilot holes for screws going straight into the wall, and helps align the screw.

c) Skip the drywall anchor and just screw your screws right into the wall. This can be okay but it’s best practice to use the anchors, especially if you want to make sure the shelf won’t fall in the future.

d) Use a stud finder to find where the studs are, then drill or nail into the stud, which will be sturdier than drywall.

I initially went into this small project thinking it would be very simple, but once the pieces arrived I found myself questioning basic things, like “do I need to drill a hole before I insert screws?” “are studs made of wood or metal?” and “is there a standard width of screw?” So I think it’s probably smart to double back and revisit basic handy things to cement my understanding, because it is useful to be able to assemble shelves.


The fog

Jordan 2021-03-25

In your Toyota Corolla I think
The one with the busted radio dial
We changed the oil
And reclined

K-O-F-G The Fog is
listener supported
We’re not legitimate, no
But at least we won’t lie to you.

The rainstorm hit after dinner on the sidewalk
And Minneapolis was too far
So we chose the pullout
Until a flashlight shined in the rear view.

K-O-F-G The Fog is
listener supported
We didn’t write this slogan
You did.

Finally found haven at 11
a service stop that would take us sopping wet and sweaty
after giving up pitching a tent
state trooper said we were lucky she was feeling nice.

Lit by the mosquito lens car lamp that night
you said it was sad how people live their lives without living
I nodded though neither of us really understood
the wearing down, the gradual static.

K-O-F-G The Fog is
Listener supported
Don’t touch that dial!
Or at least don’t turn it.


Jordan 2021-03-20

You are the kombucha in the corner. You are the extra fridge. You are the terroir. You are the errant copy of Pachinko on the couch. You are the long-suffering and begrudgingly clean roommate. You fit in a hole not quite the size or shape of you, at least at first. The hole begins to change shape, as do you, in the parts that will give when you squeeze in.

You are the unused bike with the flat tire. You are the box of N95 masks, which are actually KN95. You are the bag of winter gear at the top of the closet. You are the smell of your cold car seats in the morning. You are the things you set aside time for, and the things you wish you could set aside time for.

You are a tattoo appointment in two months. You are a reminder to call your friends. You are a promise to yourself to quit your job. You are your job.

You are your untapped potential. You are what you choose to share and what you choose to keep. You are what makes you cry. You are laughter, you are light. You are a brief time with the self proclaimed authorities you will meet, the map you will draw despite them, the accidental drops of color from paint night, and the unfinished edges of the map.

I don't believe in politics

Jordan 2021-01-28

I have politics. I think we need to tax the rich and use that money to help the poor. I think that includes the ultra-rich but also working rich like me. I think we need to regulate industries which when unregulated are shown to have detrimental societal effects. And I think we need to fund research into what kinds of things have detrimental societal effects so that we’re not just strong-armed by major players in those industries. I think that whatever regulations we come up with shouldn’t be so strong that people are no longer motivated and excited to build businesses, and I think that it’s good for industrial people to be monetarily compensated for their industriousness, but that at a certain point they have been compensated enough and that money would be better spent helping those less well off.

But here’s the truth. I have never really believed in politics. I have never felt like it matters to my day-to-day who the president is. I have never felt like either of the two large parties represent my interests. I have never felt like any political movements outside of the two large parties have any realistic chance of affecting large scale change. I have been told that local politics is the only real politics and yet I have never been to a city council meeting. I am supportive of protesters but I don’t expect their success.

When Trump was president I maintained that he for the most part was enacting normal Republican policies, and the most pervasive criticism of him, though it was not put this way, was that he doesn’t think before saying things. And I still believe this. Every accusation that Trump is a racist or sexist more or less breaks down into a) he said some racist or sexist stuff without thinking about it and b) he simultaneously supports some normal Republican policy which is argued to lead to regressive outcomes.

Even when Trump supporters attempted to impede the final confirmation of Biden’s election victory, it still didn’t seem real. Even as every news outlet, all of my friends, all of my social media was talking about it, whether or not to call it a riot, a protest, or a coup, what it said about the double standard of police, the double standard of progressives, or the double standard of conservatives – even then, it didn’t seem real. On the contrary, it felt like the series finale of Game of Thrones was on: it was an exciting, public, cultural moment, which was also fictional and conceptually distant from anything actually affecting me. Even a friend in DC told me it was remarkable how little disturbance there was to anything not near the actual Capitol building. In fact, “thousands” of protesters is not very many people. Even the upper bound of ten thousand is not very many people. The US is not literally on fire. And whether or not you call it a “coup” does not change the ineptitude of the operation through the lens of actual revolution, to the point where it begins to make more sense to view it as something closer to a sporting event / renaissance fair.

To be fair, I do think Trump’s inciting of this event was totally unprecedented, not at all a normal Republican tactic, and also as people have been saying, absolutely predictable given the last four years. Though maybe I differ from the Twitter armchair experts in that my armchair analysis is that this is more about class war and the partisan divide than the white power movement.

But now that Biden’s term has started it has reminded me again that I really still don’t believe in politics. That the president has changed, and the biggest shift in my life is that I no longer get to be the contrarian pointing out the president sucks but not for the reasons you think he does, and now have to revert back to just pointing out that the president sucks.

And you’re saying, hey, if you feel like the policies set by our government don’t affect you, maybe that’s because they don’t. And maybe they don’t because you have the privilege of being well educated, well off, having a strong safety net, being raised in a safe place, having your health, and facing more or less no oppression. And if you cared about other people who are experiencing this oppression, maybe then you would care about politics. Maybe then you would do something about it. There’s a goddamn pandemic. Trump dropped the ball. Who knows if a Democrat president would have done a better job and avoided 400,000 deaths. Maybe even a more normal Republican president would have done a better job. Three times as many Americans are out of a job than in the 2008 recession. They’re waiting for stimulus money to come in. Most Americans have less than $5000 saved up. This $2000 is going to feed people. It’s going to save lives. I mean not literally, because our welfare services are good enough that very few people literally starve in the US. But improving lots of people’s lives is also an objectively good thing to do, you don’t have to go all the way to literal life-saving. And stimulus money and COVID response are just a few examples of real life change that depends on politics. Lives are at stake.

Well okay. Sometimes I do think I’m better than other people on social media because I’m not getting as worked up about politics. Sometimes I do vaguely feel that smart people who understand what’s really going on and aren’t just getting swept up in trendy politics are less angry about the scandal of the week and What It Says About Society. That those who can get over initial tribalistic emotional responses to things end up having a more Pinker-esque optimistic view. That in the grand scheme of things, short term political movements mean a lot less than scientific achievements gradually raising the water line. That getting worried about them is a waste of energy insofar as it’s just worry, and even if you are the 1 in 50 people who actually translates that worry into action, even the action tends to be a fairly ineffective use of your time.

But I do also think it’s important for me to remember that policies affect the real world. And to the credit of people who get worked up about politics, I think a major strength you have over me is that you remember this all the time. You’re absolutely right that a lot of policies don’t impact me because I’m not very oppressed. Even almost all of my social circle (queer children of immigrants who are minorities) is not very oppressed. But I know oppression exists. Maybe it’s not enough to just vote in elections. Maybe we should be in the streets and on the phones. Maybe the US is sort of on fire and having a measured response isn’t all that valuable.

And at this point I would just like to say, congratulations on ALMOST understanding our place in the world as Americans. Because the truth is that the US is sort of on fire. In fact, the whole world is sort of on fire, and the US is one of the least on fire places to be. US residents estimate that the global median income is $20,000 a year. In fact, it’s $2100 a year. The US is the out-of-touch 1% of the world.

Here’s my thought process when I encounter US political angst on social media. First: this is a dumb thing to get upset about. Second: But I guess it’s good that you care about the wellbeing of others. Third: Except if you care about the wellbeing of others, then in the grand scheme of things, this is not the thing you should be getting upset about.

Sure, sometimes I forget that US politics matters. But then when I see people acting like the reason it matters is because they care about other people, I start to become more confused. I do think people care about other people, but I also think they are extremely prone to just reacting to whatever media is beamed into their eyes, and so unless they work really hard to curate those beams, they end up saying and writing things which hit this weird inconsistent type of caring that looks like virtue-signaling to outsiders, but which I try to understand as being just a non-rigorous, emotional, plea for connection – a sort of “I’m hurting, do other people feel this way?”

And then at the same time, these people know in the back of their heads that there’s a lot of people in the world who have it really bad, whose lives could be improved if they donated small amounts of their wealth to effective causes. And I start to think, these people don’t think global poverty is real! I mean, they don’t think it doesn’t exist, it’s just not real to them the way US politics are. It doesn’t take them on an emotional journey. It’s not beamed directly into their eyeballs. And it’s not chic to care about. 400,000 deaths? So one year of global Malaria? $2000 stimulus? So one year of median global income? I’m not saying that greater pain invalidates lesser pain, I’m just asking you to have some perspective before you come telling me to have some perspective.

So what do we do? Well, there’s the Giving What We Can Pledge. I took this when I first got a job outside college and have since donated over 10% of my income every year to effective global charities. Peter Singer advocates for a sliding scale which makes sense to me – 10% means a lot more to people with less than me. And that money can save literal lives (at a much higher rate than it can in the US). It’s not popular because it’s not easy. I mean it is functionally very easy to do, but it’s not easy to walk yourself to a place where you want to. I mean it’s your money, and you probably already help the less fortunate in other ways.

But it is political in a way that is very real. It’s political in the way that investing in education is political. Deworming children (for about 30 cents each) so they can attend school and to avoid organ damage has been shown to dramatically increase their life outcomes. Delivering Vitamin A supplements (for about 1 dollar each) substantially reduces child mortality. It is an apolitical good.

I wrote this because I was frustrated. The thing that improves the world is never the thing that people are talking about. If everyone took the GWWC pledge, we would have enough money to solve global poverty, eliminate all treatable diseases, fund research into the untreatable ones for approximately the next forever, educate anybody who needs educating, feed anybody who needs feeding, fund an unparalleled renaissance in the arts, permanently save every rainforest in the world, and have enough left over to launch five or six different manned missions to Mars. And that’s using just 1 year’s donations. Yet people, global one-percenters nonetheless, seem to continue getting angry about things that matter less.

I wrote this because in real life I would only ever be supportive of someone wanting to get involved politically. I am a firm believer that the war is not to be fought between people who both want to help but in different ways, but between those who want to do something and the apathetic. If you want to get on social media and harness political rage as a way to enact eventual policy change to help people, then in theory I’d like to support it.

I wrote this because I wanted to express the tiring thing about your politics to me. That it’s all lies. It’s all half-true stories being published and publicized. News which is sold because it’s what people are buying. It matters, it doesn’t matter. And none of it’s real, except it’s all real, it’s just not happening to you. But in the end there are still other people, and they are still our neighbors, and we do still want the best for them. So it is good to keep trying. Maybe even consider adopting radical politics like me. Take matters into your own hands and seize the power to do good by recognizing that we the one-percenters of the world already have it.