How smart products undermine the simple joy of cooking

Just 50 years after the birth of the personal computer and 30 years since the internet sprang to life, our lives are now saturated with smart technology. We work on computers, socialize through screens, and take our phones literally everywhere. We exercise with tech, bring it to dinner, and regale our friends with status updates on vacation. Dazzled by vivid screens and seduced by the mystery of features we’ve yet to try, we buy more. Across the world, an estimated one hundred twenty-seven new devices connect to the internet every second.

To say we’re utterly preoccupied with technology isn’t hyperbole…


Thin white discharge is totally normal and is not related to vulvodynia conditions. (Unsplash/The Xylom illustration)

Our clinic should have been empty.

First, it was early June 2020 in midtown Manhattan, just weeks after New York City had been the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Phase I reopening had not yet begun, and the city was a ghost town. Second, our clinic — the Centers for Vulvovaginal Disorders — is so specialized that many of our patients travel long distances to be seen by our doctors. And finally, the vast majority of the conditions we treat are not life-threatening. Given all this, it was shocking to see our patient days fully booked as soon as we…


Unsplash/The Xylom illustration

Growing up, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday, second to Christmas. More importantly, Thanksgiving was the holiday of pumpkin pie, which I hated. But with pumpkin pie came Cool Whip — we got the name-brand whipped cream for such an occasion — and I got to use as much as I wanted. Most people put one, two, or maybe three dollops on their slimy slice — but me? You couldn’t even see the pie under my mound of Cool Whip.

My obsession didn’t end there. At night, I tip-toed into the kitchen and dipped my finger into the tub of Cool…


Downed trees in the yard of George’s Miami home after Hurricane Irma in 2017. (George Leposky)

“Honey,” I announced, “we’re selling the house.”

My spouse was flabbergasted — until I explained. I had just opened an envelope containing the 2016 renewal notice for our flood insurance. The premium was over $4,000.

We bought the house in 1986. It was on South Bayshore Drive in the Coconut Grove section of Miami, Fla. Our flood-insurance premium then was just $1,200 — an amount we considered acceptable, especially given our location across the street from a park on the shore of Biscayne Bay.

Six years later, in 1992, the infamous Hurricane Andrew blew through. We had some water damage…


After wrapping up her eligibility on the LSU Swim and Dive Team, Lizzie is returning to Baton Rouge to pursue a Masters of Arts in Liberal Arts. (Courtesy of Elizabeth Cui)

It is July 31, 3 p.m., Japanese Standard Time at the Tokyo Aquatics Center.

I should have been there.

My journey to my second Olympic Games started as soon as the 2016 Games concluded, and this time I had a deeper sense of assurance and confidence. The 2016 Games were something from a dream, in fact, a dream from a 10-year-old Lizzie Cui. …


Andrea looking through a microscope. (Courtesy of Andrea Prinzi)

I learned from a very young age that it is possible to be several things at once. My mother, a strong and jovial woman at all costs, spent much of my childhood battling a heart condition that repeatedly landed her in the emergency room. She taught me that sometimes you are born with a condition and that you must handle all associated crises as they come, and then trudge forward with what is next. My father, a loving and hardworking man who struggled with alcohol abuse my entire life, taught me how to love those who carry demons with them…


Courtesy of Laura Burgos

This story is donated to DC Public Library’s “Archive This Moment DC” collection.

It began exactly how I fantasized it would. My water broke at 2 am as I awoke to use the bathroom after binge-watching Season 5 of ‘Power’ with my partner. I expected one large flush, but it came in waves and I was glad that I had hoarded some adult diapers during a trip to the emergency room earlier on in the pregnancy. (I wasn’t having complications but was suffering from severe constipation.) …


Courtesy of Shakira Quiñones-Lebrón

I ended up in a scientific career against many odds, but some of those were not so obvious. As a child, my father instilled in me the idea of going into higher education. He didn’t exactly tell me what career path to take but seeing myself through his eyes made me internalize that higher education was the path for me. Having good grades in elementary school really set the tone for what would have been a successful academic career. Then when puberty hit, school became a little harder and I couldn’t keep faking that I was a really good student.


Gabe Pierce/Unsplash

Those of us from certain cultural backgrounds will remember the joy of finding Easter eggs. When you’re an innocent little kid, you go out to the yard and dig up the chocolatey treats carefully hidden by the Easter Bunny. As we hit our teenage years we’re no longer fooled by the efforts of our well-meaning parents, but we still love chocolate.

When we’re young we are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up”? As a child that’s an easy question to answer — you rattle off the role models around you. The jobs that you…


Living With Difficult Family During the Pandemic

Boogich/Getty Images

I live in a house divided, both in terms of political partisanship and in beliefs about the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic — though it seems these two things are becoming more and more inextricably linked.

I am not quite like the rest of my immediate family; my brother jokes that I was switched at birth. For starters, I am a Ph.D. student in Psychology, the first and only one in my immediate family to go to college, and, according to my brother, a “brainwashed” liberal to boot! …

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