When the weather is whiplashing around (65 degrees today, 35 and wintery mix forecast for tomorrow, then cold, then warmer, then colder again, and on and off precip for the next ten days), you're scrambling to do last minute shopping for groceries not gifts, amongst the ignoratti that wait until four days before Christmas, and the kids get to stay home, so are constantly underfoot.
Yes, we have everything. No, we don't have anything wrapped.
Can I just go to sleep and wake up after the kids go back to school in January?
I have the kids out for two weeks plus two days (they have tomorrow off, and don't go back until the 9th). I'm going to have Odysseus reset the time permitted for them to play with their Kindle Fires, since the weather's going to be truly terrible for a lot of their break, and we don't have the garage cleared out yet.
I'm planning on working on editing the two pieces I have finished (Detritus and Normalcy Bias) while the kids are out, with a little writing when and as I can. I should have the first chapter of Detritus edited and posted tomorrow. I'm hoping to get it done and polished up (and put up for sale) by New Year's Day.
Kinda depends on the kids' behavior, and how much wrangling and referee-ing I have to do.
I'm already feeling the weather shift. I think I'm going to dig out my gloves, and not climb out of my sweats at all tomorrow.
Monday was the final exam time* for my 8:00 class; yesterday held the same for my 9:30 class. Yesterday, I turned in my final grades for both classes, my gradebooks for both classes, and the extra assessment paperwork for departmental accreditation for both classes.
All there is now is the wait for my final paycheck, the last working day of December.
Well. Twelve years (and a half) of teaching for the same university is finally done. It is such a huge weight off that I can't really articulate it.
(And yes, I had a student pestering me if there wasn't something they could do to boost their grade, and didn't I see their last blogs that they didn't tell me they'd done when they turned in their late paper? Well, why not? And does that boost them up to an A? No? Well, is there anything they can do?
In a word: No. No, I didn't see the blog, and even when I added the extra points in for that, it didn't bring the grade up to an A. For fuck's sake, they'd brought a D to a B just by turning in that one late paper. And no, there is nothing they can do at this point.)
I am so done.
And I am so ready to write full-time.
Speaking of which...'scuse me. Gotta go build word count.
*I don't do final exam. I do a last chance for late work that isn't a discussion board forum for class participation.
I've been teaching college for fourteen years, twelve of those at my
current institution. Same classes: Composition 1 or 2. I've seen
brilliant classes, and I've seen horrid classes. Mostly, I've seen
preparation dropping incrementally--not necessarily being prepared for
the level of writing, but preparation for life in general, and due dates
in specific. I've enjoyed helping those that need the extra help find
it, or figure things out. I will miss that.
I'll miss the classroom. I'll miss interacting with students, and watching them learn things. I'll miss challenging assumptions, and having mine challenged intelligently. I'll miss reading their ideas.
I won't miss grading. I won't miss the idea that there are certain things that Shall Not Be Said, certain ideas that Shall Not Be Challenged. I won't miss knowing that some demographics must be handed a grade, and a good one, that they didn't work for. I won't miss the idiots who don't want to be there, refuse to engage, and sometimes won't do even the minimum to pass.
I won't miss the department. It is not what it once was.
I won't miss how awful I felt after teaching only two classes.
I won't miss being unable to take care of my home and family.
Yesterday was my last day. Tomorrow is the last day I spend grading things turned in on time. Monday and Tuesday, I grade last-chance work and revisions, and I turn in final grades. Monday and Tuesday, I fill out the Research Paper rubric for the department for my two classes. And Tuesday, I turn my gradebooks and the rubrics in to the department via email.
After that, it's just waiting for December's paycheck to come in on the last working day on campus, and I'm finished with academia.
I feel like shaking a bat'leth over my head, screaming "Qapla'!"
Five years or so ago, we decided to retire our big Christmas tree. We packed it away in storage, in more than one box (do NOT ask me why--I've forgotten what passed for reasoning), when we packed away our baby-proof fencing. We got a 3' tree that stood atop the stereo for the Christmas after we removed the fencing, and got the kittens.
Partially because we didn't trust the kittens, but mostly because there simply wasn't room for the tree.
Well, with the new house, we have room. More than enough room, even. So we went hunting for the tree. Odysseus found one part of it on Wednesday (I think--don't quote me on that; it was a long day), I found another part yesterday, and had the imp haul both pieces in from the garage, and put them in the corner behind Odysseus's recliner.
We'd found the bottom and the middle. I had high hopes of finding the top and feet in one of the boxes still in the garage.
And so we did.
And so the tree is put together, and standing, and plugged in.
Tomorrow, we have to go buy more things to add to the decorations we have. Because we absolutely do not have enough, not of garland, and not of baubles.
But for tonight, I'm just going to bask in the success of simply finding the whole thing.
On Tuesday, I picked up the last paper I will ever teach. Or grade. I'm working on grading them, now.
Yesterday was an utter bust on the work front--I had a doctor's appointment first thing in the morning, and spent most of the rest of the day with Odysseus. I really enjoyed most of that, but we wound up INCREDIBLY frustrated, at one point. We had received the tax bills for the old house and for the cars, but not one for the new house (we don't do escrow for things like this or insurance--I'd rather that money sit in savings while we're building it up and earn interest for us). So, we went to the county seat to get it printed, because whether we're actually sent the tax bill or not, we're still responsible for it.
I am glad we did, and incredibly annoyed at our title place. Either they or the assessor's office had screwed up, and we do not, at the moment, have clean title. Probate paperwork wasn't filed, or was filed incorrectly, and our house was still in the previous owner's name (and she's been dead for three years).
But yeah, between finding that out, running around trying to get things arranged with the doctor's office, finalize pixie birthday presents, grabbing some gluten-free things that are only carried by one store on the far side of town (diagonally) from my house, and doing a few other things, I got jack shit done where grading is concerned.
Writing is another issue, and is done long-hand, while waiting for the doctor to actually poke her head in, spend three minutes talking to me about how my meds are working, and take off again because as one of THREE endos in the only office in the area, she's overbooked. I just have to transcribe what I have scribbled.
My next several days are going to be eaten up with the last grading I will ever do, though. I have two more class days next week, and last chance finals* during the week after. Tuesday, 12/12, will see me turning in my last class's final grades.
Until then, however...grading.
*My university's absolute SUPERgenius of a president had decreed that EVERY class MUST have something graded during the two hour block set aside for that class's finals (including choir). I teach a skills class. I do not teach a knowledge class. But because the SUPERgenius has made an executive order, I HAVE to do something, and I set this up before I was fired, so it's unfair to change it now. I set up that I will accept, by email attachment ONLY, during the two hour block set aside for THAT CLASS'S FINALS ONLY, any paper that didn't make the due date. No revision allowed, but a 50% is better than a 0.
...the deals are worth venturing out (the day after) for.
I found out, during a recent flare-up of the CFS, that my desk chair I'd bought to fit the desk wouldn't work when I was feeling bad. It's not that uncomfortable when I'm okay, but it's really not very soft, and isn't very good at all when I hurt all over.
The kids, however, love it. So it will be serving its purpose as a second homework chair at the homework table.
Today, I got an email flyer from Office Depot. One of the chairs I'd been eyeing (which had already been marked down from $199.99 to $99.99) was marked down further. Down to $67.99. For Black Friday. I glanced at the time/date stamp on the email, fairly certain that the deal was done, since it was Saturday...it wasn't. The email was sent this morning, and the chair was still marked down. So. I have a new chair. I have a $200 office chair--a burgundy leather executive's chair--that I paid $75 for, after the government's share had been levied.*
It's damn comfortable. And fairly attractive, as office chairs go.
I should be really good writing in this thing for a long time. Odysseus has had his comfy office chair for going on seven years, now.
Speaking of writing...I'm working hard on that front. I finished Detritus last week, in first draft. I'm working on finishing off Normalcy Bias--I think there's one more story in that, and I don't know how long it is. Next will be The Schrodinger Paradox.
I have found that children in the house are not conducive to productivity, so I'll be treating this like a full time job...during the school year. The rest of the time, it'll have to take a back seat to parenting. But I should still be able to keep the ambitious publication schedule I set for myself, of something coming out every other month. *You know, I really would not mind having the federal government/state governments funded by an end use tax...on the condition that the amendment permitting the income tax is repealed, and the tax on income ended entirely and forever. Barring that, I am not now, and nor will I ever be in favor of an end-use tax being levied as a "fair tax." A flat tax on all income over about $15K/yr for singles, or $40K/yr per family of four is a far better option.
I've heard lots of screeching about banning guns recently. One ignorant twatwaffle even went so far as to whine "Well, at least then we'll know the people with guns are criminals!"
Right. Like that prevents mass shootings...or any shootings, really. Because the law abiding don't ever do anything to prevent and/or stop those. Uh-huh. Sure. Tell that to the church shooter in Texas (oh, wait--you can't, because an NRA shooting instructor shot him).
California was the scene of the latest shooting splattered all over the news. Shooter chose a gun free zone to minimize anyone shooting back (as most of them do). A school. During morning drop-off time.
Well, why didn't we just take his guns? Why don't we take everybody's guns so that more children aren't being brutally dismembered in their mothers' wombs (oh, wait--that's abortion, not a school shooting)--er, shot going into their school building?
Well, as it turns out, he had had his guns removed. And it worked so well to stop him that--well, it didn't. He stole two, and built two more. Yes, built. Because guns are such complicated machines that it's possible to build them with enough time and a few power tools. Especially since the LOWER RECEIVER is what determines that it's a firearm. You know, one of the less complicated parts.
The best way to prevent mass shootings is to remove the shooting galleries gun free zones. Let the law abiding carry...and shoot back when one of these scumbuckets tries this on.
You know, there's a good reason why I do not venture into a posted gun free zone. Any gun free zone that is not also a police department/sheriff's department. I am not an easy victim, and will not permit some paper pushing trembling twatstain who's terrified of their own lack of emotional control and projects that on everybody to make me a disarmed victim.
Just another reason I'm relieved to be leaving the university. My last day on campus is Pearl Harbor Day.
I have five class days left of the semester. Only that. I have the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (which might as well be cancelled, given the likely attendance), and two Tuesday classes and two Thursday classes after. Last day of class is 12/7; final exams week is FUBARed, so I'll actually have one class have its final exam on a Monday. For a Tuesday/Thursday class. The other one is half an hour off on its times on Tuesday. The bad side is that the university has completely screwed up a final exams scheduling system that has worked for decades; the good side is that I'll have final grades turned in by Tuesday night. And then I'm completely done with academia after my last check cleared.
As for what I'll do without that job...I'll be writing.
I'm also counting down on Detritus. I'm on the next to last chapter. It might stretch to 40K words, but that'll be it. It has fought me every step of the way since I decided that it was going to have a hopeful ending.
Probably not going to publish in hard copy for this one. Just Kindle. Look for it in January.
I've got two more short stories to write for the collection I'm putting together, and one to edit and revise. Probably get that done in fair short order, since the stories aren't fighting me. I can knock out a short story in about two or three hours, depending on length. I'm not that fast of a typist.
Sales and KU reads are spiraling up slowly. I'm trying to figure a balance between promoting my work (with NO budget for advertising, or for book signings in my local bookstore that does that sort of thing) and spamming my Facebook/blog contacts. I really don't want to do the spamming thing; if I'm headed in that direction, let me know.
One of the projects I'm considering for the future is a short manual on Adulting 101, including things like how to do your laundry, how to build a budget, how to plan a menu for a week, how to shop wisely...things that parents are supposed to teach their kids but often don't, either through being to busy or through thinking that it's faster and easier on the household if they just do it for their kids.
I think I can turn this into an alternate career. I'm certainly trying. The time between being employed and being self-employed is certainly ticking away faster than I'd thought it would.
Last week, I got hit with a CFS flare. A bad one. I'm recovering, now, but I had to cancel office hours Thursday and come home to go to bed.
I probably should have spent all of Wednesday in bed, but I'm just too stupid-stubborn--there was writing to be done.
No, I didn't get it done. I got a few words added, but brain fog makes functioning, much less braining, really hard. I should have just gone to bed. It might not have gotten so bad if I had. Or at least I should have moved to my recliner, laptop, keyboard, and all.
Thursday, I picked up the practical proposal paper. The fourth paper of five papers (plus a blogging assignment). The last ones I will likely ever grade. I am wistful about this, but also glad.
I truly enjoy reading papers and offering feedback on what went wrong, how to fix it, and how to not do it again in the future. I don't enjoy not being allowed to do more than mark that there IS a mistake, much less what mistake they've made, in grammar, structure, or punctuation. I don't enjoy deciding what grade to put on a paper, either.
And then, I introduced the last full paper the class will write. Like always, I use this final paper as an unofficial final exam (that they're allowed to revise if they earn under 90%. And some do, not because the paper's bad, but because they somehow missed out on doing some part of citing the sources).
I am not a low-energy teacher. Even when I have none to spare.
So, Thursday, I spent half of it teaching, and the other half in bed. And never managed to get my brain working well enough to finish the last little bit of Detritus before I picked up the paper, or get any of the drafts I picked up graded.
This coming week is going to be busy grading the second to last paper, and teaching the source credibility guidelines and citation guidelines for the last paper. The next week will be Thanksgiving Break. The following week is when paper 5 is due.
But that's future workloads. Right now, I need to grade the second to last paper instead of worrying about the last one coming in.
It's NaNoWriMo once again. National Novel Writers' Month. Yes, I am participating...sort of. I'm going to be trying to finish three unfinished projects this month--four, if I can manage it.
Current project: Not yet sure if it's a short novel or long novella. Detritus.* Started out with 21.5K words (about 47 pgs, typed, single-spaced, in 12 pt font in Word). Reviewed and revised all 21.5 K words, and added 2K today. I know where it's going, and how it's getting there; I'm only limited by typing time and speed (including almost 5 hrs spent on campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays, though tomorrow is freewrite/research day for my students). I may be finished with a first draft of this one before the weekend's out. I'm planning on releasing it sometime in January. Whether I release it as Kindle only or as a CreateSpace paperback is still up in the air.
Next project: Normalcy Bias. I've got two more stories in that collection to pull from my draft book and type. Probably will wind up at around 45-50K words, altogether; currently sitting at 36K or so. I plan on either picking that up immediately following finishing the previous, or just after I finish grading the papers I pick up a week from tomorrow. Hoping to release it sometime in March or so.
End of the month: The Schrodinger Paradox.** Again, I know where that one's going, and how it's getting there, but there's a LOT more typing to do--something like another 30K words. I hope to have it totally finished before the kids are out for Christmas Break, but considering end of semester stuff/catch up housecleaning/Christmas decorating and shopping, I'm not going to be guaranteeing it. I'm just hoping I can get the first draft finished, and get the alpha readers' feedback incorporated into a second draft before the start of the year. This one is going to a publishing house's slush pile. I should hear back in 9 months to a year.
Assuming I get the first draft of Schrodinger totally finished, and have time left, I'll pick up a vampire story I'd set down a few years ago, and see what I can finish of that.***
Don't worry--this will be the last post I write about writing this month. I will not spend the whole month griping about how it is (or isn't) going according to plan, and messing with my life (what there is of that).
*I've found for this one, The Rolling Stones or Shaman's Harvest really gets the words flowing from the keys. The Pretty Reckless almost does it, but not quite. **Figured out that it's not the music stalling things. It was the fact that I wanted to start it in a place/time it didn't want to be started. Music is still Starset. ***The story of how the main character wakes up dead is one of the ones in Normalcy Bias.
It isn't a blankie, per se. It's books. I have found that being surrounded by books has a significant positive effect on my mental and emotional well-being.
I have a bookcase full of books to my left at my new desk. I will have one to my right soon enough. Both in my peripheral vision while I'm at my desk working (which is actually a lot of the time, now).
At the old house, we had 400 sq. ft. smaller of an area to work with. We had three bedrooms, one living space, an eat-in kitchen, and a utility room/pantry. One wall on the living room had bookcases (not very tall), one wall had storage cubbies, and one had the TV and DVDs. Our bedroom held the majority of books that weren't in storage.
I love my children dearly. I love my children enough that I gave up having a library so that the pixie and imp didn't have to share a bedroom.
That actually put something like 3/4 of our books in storage.
Those are slowly being brought back out. The low bookcases that were in the living room now reside one each in the kids' rooms. Because their grandpa made them. We have a 3 shelf bookcase in the family room with kids' books in it, a knock together 5 shelf (modified with an extra from one that fell apart), a similar quality 4 shelf one (that will likely move to the master bedroom in a few months), and two solid wood hand made 6 shelf bookcases. Every one is packed with books, and most of our books are still in boxes in the garage.
By the time this room is finished, we will have three bookcases full of books on the long wall with the doorway, and maybe five on the opposite wall. The short wall shared with the family room has four big pass through openings from waist high to about a foot from the ceiling, and the outside wall has a huge window overlooking the front yard, road, and trees across the road. And this is where my desk is set.
For the past three and a half years, I've taught my classes in the university library. Even though I'm not surrounded by books in the classroom, the smell pervades. It grants a level of peace and serenity that I otherwise wouldn't have had. For the past seven years, I've been without the majority of books at home, because until we found and purchased this beautiful place, we simply didn't have the room.
Well, that, and we didn't trust the kids (particularly the pixie) to not climb the bookcases.
But now, the kids are older (and taller, and know where the step-stools are), and we do have the room. It may take a while (and a LOT of work), but my library is being rebuilt with solid wood replacing particle board.*
*The bookcases we had made of particle board were sagging, breaking pegs, and listing under the weight of the load of books on their shelves. I'm glad to have solid wood ones going in.
So, since I am finishing out my final few weeks of my last semester, I've come to a few realizations. Realization the first: I am sick of academia. Last week, there was a Hijab Day on campus. The Muslim Student Association hosted a series of presentations lying about what the function of the garment was for the culture, and how it was a choice to wear it. They also had scarves and Muslim girls to teach the Western girls how to wear them, and selfie booths. They complained, the day after, about how few people bought their bullshit were interested in what they had to say/try on the mark of being considered subhuman.
I also have to walk on eggshells grading the papers of minorities, or trying to get anyone to question their assumptions (or even admit that there are unstated assumptions underlying claims that may make them absolutely the opposite of persuasive to those who do not share those assumptions).
I am, and have been, sick of the atmosphere on campus for years, now. I'm sure that the Soviet Union was worse, but only because they'd actually kill you for holding a dissenting opinion (though I'm sure Berkley would like to head in that direction).
Realization the second: my Office suite comes to me through the university. I may have to either switch to Open Office, despite not liking it nearly as well, or hope that I can continue using it for a while. Because I can't buy a copy right now.
Realization the third: One of the reasons I've not been writing is that I simply didn't have the energy, mental, emotional, or spiritual, to write. The other is that I was so damn miserable that I was reading instead of writing, retreating into places other than the one I was in. Part of that was the awful health problems (not resolved, but mitigated, and managed to the extent they could be), part was the horrid neighbors that moved in next door in '15, and part was dreading going back at the start of each semester.
Realization the fourth: Teaching takes a lot more out of me than I thought it did. I'm capable of doing a lot more if I am not also in front of a classroom for six hours a week, interacting with students. I don't know if it's the social interaction draining me, or if it's the way I teach (active, all over the classroom, and hanging over shoulders during group and individual worktime, monitoring how my students are doing and offering suggestions and help).
Realization the fifth: I can be writing a LOT with it set as my fulltime "job." I can do around 1500 words per hour. If the story's coming well, I can do somewhere around 4-6K words per day, before I'm fried. And my endurance may climb after a while. And I've got work enough for a while--I have a LOT of ideas I just haven't had time or energy to develop.
I've been noting a lot of noise surrounding Weinstein and his treatment of women. More to the point, his assaults. There've been a LOT of people coming forward, admitting that they've been harassed, molested, and/or raped. It isn't just women, either--it's women, men, and children. And from the sounds of it, it's endemic in the industry.
Everyone knows of how Roman Polanski raped a thirteen year old girl, then flipped her over and raped her ass when she was afraid to fight him off for fear that she'd never be able to fulfill her dream of acting and told him she wasn't on the pill. He ignored her protests, ignored her saying no, and forced himself on a child.
And Whoopi Goldberg said it wasn't "rape, rape," because she didn't fight.
Several years ago, Corey Haim committed suicide. Because he was repeatedly raped in his teens by directors he didn't name. Corey Feldman almost self-destructed with drugs and alcohol for the same reason. He still doesn't name them, but unlike all of these other victims coming out as victims, he explained why.
It's not because he's afraid he'll never work in Hollywood again (he doesn't anymore; why would he be afraid of that?).
It's because his predators have made it absolutely clear to him that, should he name names, they'll take him to court for defamation of character.
They'd win, too. They still have HUGE amounts of money rolling in. They feel safe from being investigated, much less charged and/or convicted.
The individuals howling for actors of all ages and sexes to name names either don't know this, or they don't care that the victims would be harmed again, would have to relive that trauma again during the lawsuits, would still lose, and all at the hands of the predators that had hurt them in the first place.
"Bar Tabs" has been out for a week and a half. And The Godshead came off the free promo as of midnight. Stats look...surprisingly good,* considering few people actually read or like mythology. I've got the one book I'm doing the final edits on, and have plans for one last one in the works (and a few stories scribbled down for that one), but then I'll likely do nothing more than the occasional short story in the Modern Gods universe.
Let me get Fire and Forge all wrapped up and published (thanks again to the utterly magnificent Dorothy Grant for the help with the hardest part of the process), and we'll see what else I can get finished this month.
*"Bar Tabs" sold 7 copies outright, with another 4 copies read through KU. I gave away a whopping 73 copies of The Godshead. And a couple of my other, older books purchased or started as a KU read.
I hate writing the bit that goes on the back cover of a paperback. I can never get it done quite right. I'm always afraid I'm giving away what other people would consider spoilers, so I end up not saying enough.
Dorothy Grant recently wrote a piece over at a blog I'm fairly fond of reading when I've got the processing capacity to spare (as I often don't) that gets into the nitty-gritty of writing and publishing fiction. The piece she wrote was about how to write what goes on the back cover. And she graciously helped those of us who have trouble with such.
I'll be fiddling with it a little, but the hard part is done.
I cannot claim complete credit for that, however. I've had help. Furry help. Playing "fuck that thing" with my pens and coasters, flopping and knocking off the phone charger...shoving stuff around so they can situate their furry bodies where and how they want to. Tipping my chair over backwards. Flopping on my keyboard while a document's open.
I have an idea for the keyboard thing, but the rest is going to take organizers. And a chair that fits the desk well enough I can open the drawers and use them.
It's also going to be a bit of a fight for a while keeping my desk to myself. The imp just loves it. I've promised him that, when he's older and willing to get his toys out of the way, he can have his own student's desk in his room. I'm pretty sure one can be fit in pretty easy, but not with everything else he has in there. He'll just have to make do with doing his homework on the library table.
Might could get him a wee bit more comfortable of a chair, though. I swear, the one office chair I had was designed by Torquemada.
In any case, both workspaces in the library have need of a "fuck that thing" resistant organizer. And maybe some double stick tape, or friction backing.
In the meantime, all I want is a comfy chair for my work desk, a footstool (because I'm short and my feet would be dangling), and something for my pens that the cats can't knock around.
And it needs to be good sized. Because I've got at least a dozen pens I use on a regular basis. And most of THOSE aren't small (2 Conklin Duragraphs, 1 Conklin crescent fill, 4 Jinhao 599s, a Lamy Safari, a TWSBI Eco, a TWSBI Diamond AL in turquoise, and hopefully a second in clear, a couple Parkers, and a lever fill pen older than my mother, judging by the placement of where the clip should go on the cap, of indeterminate make that has one of my all-time favorite nibs to write with).
And yes, all of those pens DO have different colors of ink in them. Why else have so many inked up for use?
I already have a set I want for me bookmarked. Now I just need to find something that will work for the kids.
Yesterday, I wrote that I had found and bought a desk on Friday. Yesterday, I set up on it with my laptop, a chair that's too short and won't slide into the knee-hole, and got to work copy editing Fire and Forge. I actually got 202 of 208 pages (single spaced, MS Word, not quite 92K words) copy-edited. I was at my desk for about seven hours straight, working with only bathroom breaks and snuggle the kids before bed breaks.
I have little doubt that I'll do similar when I'm writing. I wonder what my productivity will look like without the wariness of looking over my shoulder every little bit during office hours, with music on the stereo, with an actually comfortable chair...because without those things, I'm capable of getting about 1.5K words per hour.
I am going to go through the printed draft I have with a pen and see where I can tighten language here, or add a little bit there, to make it a stronger book. That should be finished by the end of next week, at the latest.
Then, I'll start through the publishing process.
This week will be a short and semi-easy one. Monday and Tuesday classes are cancelled altogether for Fall Break.* Thursday is peer editing day for paper 3. Two and a half hours of class, and two hours of office hours. Yeah, will probably be done by Friday, and starting the publishing process.
(In the meantime, Amazon just recommended "Bar Tabs" to me.)
I'm kinda planning to see how much writing I can get done. Gonna start a project in November, after I finish up two others (and have Fire and Forge published) and see if I can finish it in the same month.
*One of my students suggested, and I agree, that it would have been more convenient for everyone if the university had just given us a week at Thanksgiving, rather than two days in October, and three in November, to match Spring Break.
Odysseus played hookey from work, yesterday (he took the first day off he's had off since...I think May our anniversary at the beginning of July, as he reminded me). We got our address changed with the Department of Revenue (MO's DMV). Was much less work, and much less painful than we were expecting. They printed up a change of address card and taped it to the back of the license--I think partially because MO is moving toward the RealID BS embraced by the rest of the country (Papers, please...).
I'd also decided what I'd wanted to do in our library in front of our picture window looking out over the front yard and the trees across the road: I decided I wanted a desk. One with, preferably, filing cabinet drawers. I wanted to find the one I wanted so that I had a goal to save towards.
I found, instead, a desk made perhaps in the 1950s. It's about 3 1/2 to 4' wide, maybe 18-20" deep, and a little shorter than modern desks. Not by a lot, but definitely by a little. The drawers are NOT wide enough OR deep enough to be filing cabinet drawers, but I have three on each side of the knee hole, and a pen drawer in the middle. The veneer is gone on one of the front parts of the legs, and is trying to come off of one of the drawers, and another one of the drawers is missing its drawer pull.
The knee hole is a tight 18" wide. Finding a comfortable desk chair is going to be a challenge.
I have found one, I think. It's going to cost double what the desk did ($27 from one of our two local DAV thrift stores). The desk organizer set I want is going to cost almost half what we paid. Desk organizer plus blotter will probably overshoot what the desk cost by a few bucks.
But I do have a desk. For the first time in more than a decade, I have a desk of my own.
I got an email, last week, from the head of the English department of the university I work for. "We regret to inform you that, due to a really tight schedule, we don't have any classes for you to teach in the spring semester. We'll keep you in mind if we need to open more sections."
God's looking after me.
I've known for the past year and a half that I can't be a good wife, good mother, good teacher, and write. I've known for the past year that I can't be a good wife and mother as well as a good teacher. I wouldn't have quit, but my standards for taking care of my family were sliding. And my health was getting harder to manage a decent balance with. And my mental well-being was slipping with the lack of writing.
It's not an issue anymore. Took a push, but I am not worried (much) about it. I'll miss the classroom, and I'll miss the students, but I sure won't miss the atmosphere or the grading.
(I now know what the constant fear of someone reporting something you say as wrongthink feels like. Academia apparently thought Orwell's 1984 was a How-To manual for controlling people's very minds. And the university where I work is nowhere near as bad as many others.)
Teaching is a HUGE energy drain. It's actually more of an energy drain to teach two classes than it is to do three household chores (dishes, laundry,* picking up clutter throughout the whole house) AND do shopping. Takes longer to recover from, and that's before you add in the grading...which is an energy drain in a different way. I just...can't do it anymore. And I fully admit that. I also fully admit that without the energy drain of teaching, without that weight of dreading the next set of grading, I may well have an easier time of recovering--maybe even to the point of the CFS going into remission.
If I am offered a couple of sections at the last minute, I'll likely take them. It is going to be a stretch, financially not teaching--we can manage, but I'd like a little more of a pad, so I'd take the sections. But I do think it'll be the last classes I'd take.
*Laundry means getting the load back and into the washer, then into the dryer, then going for another load into the washer. As current energy expenditures stand, I can't move stuff from the washer to the dryer--wet clothes are heavy--and have enough left in my energy budget to do ANYTHING else.
Actually, for the next 5 days: today, tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
Why? Because Fire and Forge (third Modern Gods book) will be up before the end of the month in Kindle and paperback (and yes, I'll let everybody know how I'm finding the paperback publishing interface as compared to CreateSpace's).
So, last night, I got off my ass and published "Bar Tabs." I've set it to be available through Kindle Unlimited, so if you subscribe to that, it's free to read.
I also, with my darling, brilliant husband's help, got the cover art for Fire and Forge scanned in. I started messing about with CreateSpace, since that's what I used for the previous two...but it messed the bed and wouldn't bring up the page I needed to create the cover.
I noticed, whilst getting "Bar Tabs" set to go on Kindle, that Amazon now offers an option for publishing as a paperback...so I'll be going that route with Fire and Forge.
I'm doing one last, final edit, and trying--not succeeding, mind you, but trying--to come up with a cover blurb.
This is what the cover artist came up with for the book:
Awesome, isn't it? It's going on the wall when Odysseus gets home from work.
To celebrate both the short story, and finally getting the scanner set up and linked up with the new laptop,* I'm setting The Godshead as a free promo, starting Thursday, and running through Monday. If you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, it's free, anyway.
*My cover artist took a while on this. She had a lot of absolute and utter shit dropped in her lap just after I'd asked her to do this. I didn't begrudge any of the time it took her to actually create this. When she got it to me, my scanner had just shit the bed, big time. And then my health took a huge hit (no, it hasn't recovered, but I've learned to live with it). Then, we moved. And my laptop quit working, requiring the purchase of a new one with Windows 10, and it and the scanner had to be talked through negotiations before they'd work together.
Recently, a favorite author who's a hell of a character with the type of sick sense of humor that tends to set me giggling, got banned from a social media platform for a month.
For posting song lyrics.
Someone reported it as offensive.
Granted, as the author admits, it was a particularly vile band. Yeah, their stuff is offensive, nasty, and inappropriate. But not ban-worthy, especially since the platform prohibits children under a certain age from setting up accounts. Nor is quoting their stuff ban worthy.
Hell, I see LOTS of stuff on social media and regular media that offends me: my state pushing to open more abortion clinics in urban areas where minorities congregate; memes and posts denigrating men in general, and white men in specific; memes and posts advocating slavery (forcing individuals to provide service in private industry); ignorance, and a general lack of understanding (or even a wish to understand) the workings of the gods of the copybook headings.
I have not reported any of these things offensive.
(I have posted as offensive spam ads masquerading as social media posts, specifically when they're political, and as far from factually correct as it's possible to be.)
I do not report things posted by individuals as offensive, no matter how offensive I find them. To be honest, I'd rather know who the idiots are so I can avoid them in real life. Or at least avoid the topics, if the idiots have made their way into my circle of friends. It is each individual's right to hold whatever political opinions they hold, just as it is my right to disregard the utter dreck they claim as "facts" to support their opinions.
If I'm truly offended by someone, I simply quietly unfollow them. As I did to a couple of bands I really enjoyed who got too evangelically political.* I scroll past the offensive posts. I ignore stuff.
I'm a grown up, and I know that offensive material does not cause actual harm to me--I've got thicker skin than most. And I'm not the morality police. It's above my pay grade to say something is good, and right--or bad and wrong. Nor do I have the right to silence dissenting opinions, no matter how stupid they are.
*True believers who try to save people who don't believe from the sin of unbelief, and count those who disagree because circular arguments aren't evidence, and because the plural of "anecdote" is not "data," as evil.
Classes have been going for three weeks or so, now. Kids' school for a couple days longer.
And I've been trying to fight off a flare up of the CFS. And failing.
From research, I've found that there's a close connection between getting enough of certain nutrients found in greatest concentration in beef and remission. I've been eating more beef.
Problem lies on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Not only do I wear myself out with two 75-minute classes, back to back, but have another two hours of office hours following. This puts me home at 1:00, with dinner in four hours. And no energy to fix something to eat.
I've still got some roast in the freezer, but it's dwindling. So I tried substituting for something else for lunches. It's not been working well.
Fridays are shopping days. I wound up getting a lot of meat, today: a flank steak, a 5-lb roast, and a 10 lb roll of hamburger meat. I need to make up some soups and stuff to go in the freezer with the burger, and do the roast for freezer leftovers.
And wouldn't you know it, I totally forgot the stupid bell peppers for stuffed pepper soup (it's in my recipes tab up top).
I do, however, have the ingredients for taco soup (see bottom of post, if interested). And that's going to be thrown together first (like on Sunday), while the roast is cooking.
There are a few other things that make up quick, but they don't freeze well. Broth-based soups, beans, rice...those do.
Next week, I'll have my classes' first papers due. They peer-edit on Tuesday, then turn them in to me on Thursday. I have a couple casseroles for that week, as well as some simple throw a few ingredients in a skillet and let it go meals (which includes one both of my children will eat, and will complain if I DON'T make--recipe on request in a different post).
In the mean time...I'm falling behind on a lot of household things, and can't really get caught up.
Writing, however, is actually going. Not quickly, but fairly steadily.
Edited Taco Soup
1 lb ground beef
1 sm onion, chopped
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 pkg ranch dressing mix
1 can black beans
2 cans pinto beans
1 can corn
1 c water
Brown meat with onion. Add all other ingredients, heat to hot (about 20 minutes or so).
I've found that the water can make this a little bland, so I'm likely to use either a can of Ro-Tel or a can of enchilada sauce.
I added 2 cans ro-tel, and substituted 1 can of enchilada sauce for the 1 c water, this time. Turned out delicious with cheese. So, final recipe:
1 lb ground beef
1 pkg (1/4 c) taco seasoning
1 pkg (1.5 tbsp) ranch dressing mix
1 can black beans
1 can corn
2 cans pinto beans
2 cans ro-tel
1 can enchilada sauce
I went to a meeting, today. We were discussing the "learning goals" around research papers. My department head had a grading rubric with 11 things on it, regarding such. I'd already gotten this through email, and had skimmed through it thinking "Do that already. Yep. Yep. Yep. Oh, and that one, too." I figured today would be a waste of time.
Come to find out today, about half the people in the meeting do half the things on the rubric when teaching the research assignment, and not the same half between them. Some things were left totally untouched.
These people ALL teach the same class I teach. All of them teach research papers. Nobody mentions other citation styles than MLA in conjunction with major. Nobody works on integrating source credibility in their lectures. Few discuss currency and relevance regarding the sources. Few discuss actually pulling the information together into a coherent argument, or looking at how different sources use and offer different types of evidence. They all simply focus (over-focus?) on the technical: you cite the source only and exactly like this, but only in this situation, and your bib is called Works Cited, and you must do this, this, and this, in this order, or it's wrong.
I...have just had further illustrated to me exactly why English departments are fading in relevance to EVERY OTHER FREAKIN' DEPARTMENT on campus.
We have ONE job that the campus as a whole deems even remotely valuable. And we're falling down on it.
I survived the first week of class. I skipped office hours on Tuesday and went over to the English department to sign my contract, only to find that NOBODY had their contract, yet. HR hadn't gotten them together for ANYONE, faculty or staff. In point of fact, I didn't get the email notifying me that contracts were ready for signatures until Friday afternoon.
Wednesday, I crashed. I overdid it a little Monday and Tuesday, and just crashed. I fixed food, but didn't get much else done. I did notice that the dishwasher had water standing in the bottom. Again. And I put it on my ever-lengthening to-do list.
Thursday, I wound up spending from 8:00 to almost 11:00 up on my feet (for the most part--kinda gotta sit to take roll). We started their first papers, and discussion was raucous and free-wheeling, in both classes, taking up the whole time. I was flattened afterwards, but it was so worth it. Tons of fun.
Friday, I had a to-do list a mile long: shopping, running stuff up to Mom's, cleaning, grabbing kids, and cleaning some more. I managed to get it all done, and got home and collapsed to find that email alerting me that my contract had gotten into my mailbox around 4:00 or so.
The dishwasher is running fine, now. The appliance repair guy said to run a cycle with no dishes, and add about a quart of cleaning vinegar. Run so it goes through the pump, pop the dishwasher open so that it soaks in good, run for a few minutes, pop open to soak, repeat one more time. Doesn't smell bad, and fixes the problem. He also recommended to make sure dish soap does not go down the sink where the garbage disposal is. Because then it gets into the dishwasher, and makes problems.
I did manage to get most of my to do list done. There are just a few bits left--paper filing, yarn organization, and general decluttering from moving in. Odysseus has most of his accomplished, too. Including getting the riding mower fixed (which he did himself, and feels accomplished for having done--as well he should, since I don't think he's done anything like it before).
Kids' homework is done, backpacks are re-packed, and laundry done for them for the week. The imp's plastic dressers (why get him something nice when he's so rambunctious that he'll tear it apart?) have been put in a more logical place that may see his toys not migrate in amongst his clothes.
Next on the list is making a couple of lasagnas: one for supper, one for the freezer.
Oh, and dosing the pets with the topical flea stuff.
I've been thinking, recently. (Dangerous, I know. Bear with me.)
There are certain markers that there will be strife in a relationship. Lack of communication. Differences in money-handling styles. Filing taxes as "married, filing separately." Not maintaining a joint checking account.
Most of this has in common a "you and me" (or just "me me me") attitude, instead of a "we" attitude. Thinking of the family unit as individuals, rather than as a team.
Notice that most of this is about money? That's because it's one of the top marriage breakers (just after infidelity).
If you think "my money" and "his/her money," instead of "household money," you're setting yourself up for resentment, anger, disappointment, guilt (which leads to the rest), and a whole host of other negative emotions that will wind up focused on your spouse.
Odysseus had a finances professor in college that said that married people filing separately are both being stupid, and heading for divorce. Stupid, because that's when, where, and how you get hammered with nowhere near as many deductions. Often, couples filing taxes separately wind up paying in when couples making the same income but filing jointly get back as much as they paid in, if not more.
I can think of one case where it didn't work like that, but that case was a massive clusterfuck, start to finish, and was completely caused by the non-military spouse spending a massive chunk of money that landed in the family accounts by mistake, instead of setting it aside to hand back when the military demanded it back. In that case, filing separately got them a small tax rebate (which would have paid back about half the debt that was incurred before penalties were inflicted). Filing jointly would have gotten the entire rebate garnished, with a lot of debt left to pay.
That is, also, the only time I can think of in recent experience where a joint account was a mistake. Most of the time, the joint account is the best way to handle a family budget with two incomes. Imagine, if you will, a household where you have a blended family. Dad takes care of most of the bills. Mom takes care of one or two, but it's not a lot. There's no joint account, and the bills are all in Dad's name.
Dad wants to free up some money for a project he wants to do. All of his income is being taken up, and not much of Mom's is going toward bills. So Dad asks Mom to pull a bit more of her and her kids' (not all his, by any means) weight by paying some. But there's no joint account, and the bills are in his name. Makes sense to him to ask for the money to pay the bills.
Mom doesn't see it that way. She screams and cries every time she hands over cash to pay the bills she's been asked to carry. Call it about a quarter of the monthly budget. But it's her money, and he's taking it.
This situation is untenable. It is going to break.
Now, if there'd been a joint account set up, things would have been simplified. Odysseus and I have a joint account. He has a separate debit account, too, but there's that joint account. His name is on most of the bills (I have one, just so I can show a utility bill for voting registration purposes). I am in charge of day to day month to month budgeting and bill paying. That joint account makes it easy, since my name and his are on the checks.
If the previous hypothetical situation had included a joint account, with Mom having the responsibility to pay the bills out of it from "her" money and the money Dad deposited from his checks, Mom might not have freaked out.
Marriage counselors would privately think that the lack of a joint account indicated a lack of trust. They may or may not say such. Mom may not trust Dad to deposit the money needed for bills, or Dad might not trust Mom not to clean him out.
Point of fact, the whole issue revolves around a lack of trust that the other has the family's best interests in mind. On both parts.
Like I said. Odysseus and I have a joint account that both our checks go into without discussion. Then again, we also discuss money decisions. I don't discuss the grocery budget with him, because I'm the food purchaser, I'm a miser, and we shop together often enough he's got a good idea of what spending in general is. No, what we discuss are things that cost more than about fifty bucks. And we decide together whether the budget can absorb it, if it's something new, or timing on when we can do something that we've been discussing. Yes, I have the checkbook. I have the online banking passwords. I watch the budget, and I do the day to day stuff. I'm better at details, and making sure stuff gets done on time. Odysseus is better at long-term planning, and knowing how much we have to save in small increments for how long to do what we want to do.
It seems, sometimes, like we are unique in this. I don't think we have any friends locally who do this.
I don't think we have any local friends whose marriages lasted longer than about ten years, either.
I just dropped the kids off for their first day of school for the 2017/18 school year. Their private Christian school, known throughout the area for academic excellence on par with the secular private school at a quarter of the annual tuition, starts the first week of the school year on Thursdays to give kids and teachers a slow start to get back into the routine. Thinking back to my public school that always had a full week to start, I think this is, perhaps, the wisest move for the teachers. They were always so fried by the end of the week...
I start back next week. My class site goes open for my students as of Saturday. I need to go add content to it. And finish editing my textbook.
Currently, I'm sitting at the table in the library at our new home. Laptop is on the table, ergo keyboard on my lap. This evening, one of the kids will be doing homework at the table in the library, and the other will be doing homework either at the coffee table in the family room, or at the dining table.
I have a lot to do today (class site stuff, since I'm recovering from a CFS flare). I have a lot to do tomorrow (groceries, cleaning, and working on the old house).
I'm pretty sure, chronic illness permitting, I can actually accomplish what I need to get done. I'm lacking the distraction of having to stop what I'm doing to prevent the kids from further breaking the house,* or fighting with each other.
Now, I just need to get to it.
I think I need more coffee.
*The imp and pixie managed to snap off one of the arms of her ceiling fan. Not the fin. The metal part of the arm. Which will necessitate full replacement...which they are required to pay for. I won't, however, require that they pay for the electrician needed to put it up in a house built in 1970, and which lacks boxes for the ceiling fixtures.
I live in a small town in the very middle of the country. I have a nasty allergy to wheat. Most of the stores in my region do not carry food that I can eat, and I totally lack the time and energy to make everything from scratch. I also lack the knowledge, ingredients, and equipment to make other things.
Amazon is how I get my hands on some of the things I can eat. They are things either not carried throughout the region, or are things priced so high I simply can't afford them so that whether I can eat them or not is a moot point.
I also have problems with the joints in my hands that make writing with a ballpoint pen--or even a gel pen--painfully impossible. I've found that fountain pens are my best bet. There is one store--ONE--in the region that carries fountain pens that are not also calligraphy pens. And they're priced high and use tiny, useless cartridges. The store doesn't carry bottled ink, nor yet converters for these pens.
Again, I turn to Amazon to fill these needs.
My local bookstore does not carry most of the authors who I like to read without having to order in their work--political correctness precludes some, and the rest are independent authors who publish through Amazon.
Not every store can carry every item, Mr. President. And not every individual can afford to fill their needs with the few options that are carried...or afford to travel to find the things that they need.
Claiming that Amazon hurts business isn't accurate. Or, it may be, but it's a limited view.
Hurting Amazon harms customers like me who MUST shop online instead of locally because of lack of products carried locally.
Thank you for proving my opinion of you as a shallow, stupid, reckless, narcissistic, greedy asshole accurate.
Although I'd have been happier to be proved wrong.
The weekend wasn't pretty. We had Nazis and Commies fighting each other, causing distress to the rest of us...and death amongst themselves. Oh, but the martyr--one of your standard, well-meaning useful idiots, as described by Stalin--was a pretty, young woman, so she's been a hell of an image, and her death has been capitalized on by the usual suspects.
I don't feel anything about it. She was an idiot, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in amongst the wrong people. On purpose.
But the Left needed a martyr, so...
Any case. There was violence, nastiness, and all of it exacerbated by wall-to-wall news coverage. Attention seeking spoiled menaces given a camera and a venue. Used. The ratings are all that count.
And the Guard...brought in, but ordered to stand by, and information coming out that there were orders to peace officers to not interfere.
Smacks of a setup, in my opinion.
I have an idea: why don't we, as a nation, pay the air-fare for a whole bunch of these morons to go protest together (and against each other) in, say Death Valley? With a few companies of National Guard set up around the perimeter, to prevent the mess from spilling over onto those who want nothing to do with either the Nazis or the Commies, and go ahead and give them their arena, and their cameras, and their national attention? How about we, as a nation, set it up so that they get their wish, and get to fight and/or kill one another without legal repercussions in this circumstance, and this one only?
I mean, after all: the Romans did it.
And I'm pretty sure it'd clean up a lot of jobless, feckless dead weight.
I went ahead and took advantage of the sales tax holiday for back to school, and ordered a new keyboard. An ergonomic keyboard. It's really comfortable to use.
I used to have one, when I used a desktop. Did a lot of writing on them. Using one fixed one of my worst typing habits (hitting the b key with the left hand instead of the right) that was picked up because of having small hands. I started writing with the keyboard in my lap, leaning back with my feet up, eyes closed, without watching how it was coming out on the screen. My speed picked up a bit, doing that, but even more, I could spend longer at the computer, composing fiction.
By the time I started blogging, I'd shifted to almost entirely using a laptop. Between needing a machine at work (adjuncts shared a desktop) and having to chase kids around, I've not used a desktop in years.
I'd never forgotten the ergonomic keyboards, though. Nor had I stopped missing mine. However, with a big enough laptop for a full-sized keyboard, I hadn't thought the purchase justified. Not through using five different Acer laptops, with a standard keyboard arrangement, with a full-sized shift key.
The Lenovo Ideapad does have a full-size keyboard--in fact, the keys are a little bigger than the other laptops I've had. All of them except for the right hand shift key. Which is the same size as the letter keys, and has an up arrow between the question mark key and the shift key. Bad layout for touch typists with small hands.
At the moment, my laptop is sitting on the coffee table, off to my left. Keyboard is in my lap. I've got a cup of coffee on the small table to my right.
And I know where The Schrodinger Paradox is going. I'll have to see how quickly I can take it there, now.
I just wish I could figure out how to get the iTunes player download and Windows 10 to cooperate and play nice with each other.
I am female. I was born female. I'll grant you, I'm not a very traditionally feminine female, but it is what I am.
I am not questioning that. I've never questioned that. I may have, at a few points, wished it were otherwise for the sake of having things a little easier (like a lack of the menstruation and attending labor-intense cramps*), but never had any doubt that I was a girl, then woman.
I am still not traditionally "feminine," despite my figure and preferring to not waste time and money getting regular hair cuts.
Does not mean I see myself as any less of, or anything other than, a woman, despite what several people on campus have suggested.**
I do know people who are distinctly otherwise: a woman born into a body carrying the wrong chromosomes, and a man born likewise.
They feel wrong in their own bodies--something I've never felt. The young man I spoke of earlier...I knew when he was fourteen that he felt not right in his own skin. Didn't help that the individuals he went to school with as a girl wouldn't let him use the bathroom because he was different, long before he realized that it really was the wrong bathroom.
One interesting thing I've noticed is that this whole move toward forcing acceptance and approval for everyone who isn't sure whether they are or are not transgender is that it's enforcing stereotypes and gender roles harder than any other social force in the last eighty years. I've seen women who were not "dressed as women" harassed in women's restrooms.*** I've noticed that, if women don't particularly care for children, their very existence as women are questioned. I've noticed that women are pressured more to be feminine, to dress, walk, act, and look feminine.
Ironically, the worst of these offenders are NOT bible-thumping conservative Christians. More in a bit.
I am still not feminine. I prefer shopping for jeans in the men's section. I wear tee-shirts, polo shirts, blazers. I don't wear makeup. I don't do my hair--I don't bother with more than a ponytail or braid to keep my hair out of my face.
I don't get harassed that I'm using the wrong bathroom for my biology because I am your classic hourglass, but I do get questioned. Others who aren't dressed to the nines, make up and hair done, and have fewer curves, get bullied. Even on a college campus.
People have attempted to bully me the other way: "You don't dress like a woman. Why do you insist that you are one? Why don't you just call yourself trans? Or something other than a woman?"
I don't knuckle under to bullies. There is no passive in my aggressive to the point that I have to watch myself so that I don't become a bully. But I can see how this could pressure others to call themselves something other than what they feel they are...or to try to fit in a traditional, stereotypical mold that they don't want to be bothered with.
I don't fit the label. I don't care, but it makes others (mainly the SJW crowd, ironically) that label everyone uncomfortable that I don't fit the label I call myself, and won't label myself as something else.
What the hell happened to "be who you are, and don't let anyone slap a label on you"?
*Having had children and gone through labor, I can attest that yes, my cramps did get that bad at times.
**Suggested, then been laughed at by everybody around when I tell them to say that to the two children I pushed from my vagina, or the husband that put them there to begin with. ***I cannot speak to whether or not effeminate men get bullied in the same way in the men's rooms.
If you own your home, and are thus liable for paying for repairs yourself, and have central heat/air, double-check where the condensator for your AC drains. And where your blower motor is. And if the two are too close together, think about paying an HVAC expert to change where the condensator puts the water.
Yes, we learned this the hard way.
Last week, very early on Tuesday morning, we had an...issue. The blower stopped. Completely and entirely. The compressor still kicked on, but the house had no AC for all intents and purposes. We tried turning the system off, then back on. We tried flipping the breaker for it. No dice. Called the company that had put the system in, and they said they likely wouldn't be able to get to us for a couple days, but might have been able to slot us in that day.
The high was projected to be triple-digit, with higher heat index (thanks, Missouri humidity). For the rest of the week.
We called someone else. They made it at five pm that day. Crawled under the house where the blower unit was, and found that the motor was burned out. Completely. Dead, with no chance of resurrection.
The heat pump is only 5 yrs old. It shouldn't have died, were it properly installed...which it wasn't. Turns out, the condensator drained onto the ground under the house...under the blower motor. Which raised the humidity under the house significantly. And wound up killing the motor.
It was, thank God, still under warranty. For 30 more days. And the place that installed the heat pump had one in stock. The guy that we had out who found the problem picked it up Wednesday morning as soon as they opened, got over here and installed it, and put in a drainage system and pump to put the water from the condensator out from under the house.
Overall, we were out a bit north of $350. It could have been far, far worse, if this had happened a month--or year--later.
Check your HVAC units. Make sure proper function isn't going to cause a catastrophic mal- or nonfunction. Spending a little now will head off spending a lot later.
I don't know if it's the laptop, Windows 10, Blogger, or what, but something isn't letting me comment or reply to comments. It signs me out when I look at the blog, and won't let me sign in to comment as me.
Don't know what's going on, here. Bit frustrated by the whole mess.
Update: Figured out what was going on and fixed it.
So far, so good. It's a Lenovo IdeaPad 110. 8G memory/1TB hard drive. Runs Windows 10. I've turned off all the "Getting to Know You" shit, so privacy issues should be addressed (who uses Cortana, anyway?).
It's quick. There's a few weird quirks--the right hand shift key is TINY, and on the far side of a page up/arrow up key. I have VERY small hands. My eight year old son's hands are almost as big. Makes hitting the shift key...problematic. Especially with more than two decades' familiarity with a full-sized shift key on both sides.
I'm probably investing in a USB ergonomic keyboard.
I've got a USB 2 and a USB 3 port, and an HDMI port. It has made uploading the files transferred with a jump drive at least 4x bigger than my first laptop*--and a hell of a lot bigger than my first desktop--really fast. Less than an hour to get ALL of the files transferred: documents, music, and pictures.
36 G total of files transferred. In less than an hour for the upload.
Speakers are wimpy, but I usually use headphones.
It's having...issues...downloading iTunes, which happens to be my preferred listening platform. I can probably find a good work-around for that, though. And who knows. A download that might have not worked yesterday may work on a different day.
Got my Firefox bookmarks transferred, too. It just left my bookmarks toolbar behind. I can deal. I can rebuild it.
One of the big failures with both of my Averatec laptops and then the last two Acer laptops was the DC jack. In all four cases, the jack was on the right hand side. This laptop has the DC jack on the left. None of the DC jacks that have been on the left hand side have broken on me. I hope this is no different.
All in all, I'm hoping this laptop can last me for a few years. I really don't like changing machines, especially not mid-book.
And I wouldn't have, if the keyboard on the old one had remained reliable for a while longer.
The kids continue to be massive little assholes. Granted, I'm still working on getting a good routine built for them, but it's difficult with trying to do the things I have to do while trying to ride herd on them. I've taken to chasing them outside and telling them to not tattle to me, and to resolve things themselves. Most of the time, this resolves by one of them coming in and taking their Kindle Fire to their room, and shutting the door. Most of the time, that's the pixie.
The imp has transitioned from riding a bicycle with training wheels to riding without, and then transitioned into a bigger bike that fits him better, and that goes through mowed grass easier than the little bike he had. And he now has a bell on it, which pleases him immensely.
The pixie has learned to ride her bike with the training wheels on the room-sized patio just out the back door, with Merry-dog running alongside. She's starting to want to transition to a bike without training wheels because she can't ride her bike anywhere off the patio.
Both kids are spending something like 3/4 of their time outside. Drawing with sidewalk chalk, playing on the patio, running all over the mowed part of the yard and pasture, riding bike (imp) up and down and around the driveway...
And they've made a friend. There's a little boy--our neighbors to the east have a grandson who's over a lot--who's a LOT like the imp in interests and personality quirks (including ADHD, which is medicated, while imp is off his meds for the summer). He's over on the weekends a lot, but not a lot during the week days (he's in summer school). And when they're off playing, I have to CALL them in to eat, because they won't come in when they're hungry.
The dog needs bathed and shorn. She needs the Marine Boot Camp cut. She REFUSES to be an inside dog, especially since she's got that wonderful room outside with a ceiling, cement floor, a ceiling fan, and no walls. And it's forecast to be a hot one, this summer. But she hates--HATES--baths and grooming. I did get her bangs trimmed, and a couple of matted bits cut off of her back fur, but she stayed out of reach after I got those few things done.
You'd think she'd appreciate the whole "I can see, now," thing, but no.
Cricket has taken to lounging on the end of the table in the library/living room. She loves that spot. Especially when the pixie leaves the desk lamp on, and kitty has a warm spotlight for her fuzzy self.
Shadow has delighted in the fact that the kids have a hard time getting their bedroom doors to fully latch. She shoves the door of her choice open, goes in, and sleeps on the child of her choice.
Often, this results in the comical view of a 40 lb 6 year old pixie carrying a 13 lb cat out by her middle because she doesn't want the kitty sleeping on her, but Shadow is not deterred. She just goes and either shoves the imp's door open (which she prefers, normally, because of his 4' high loft bed) if she can, and cries outside it until he opens it if she can't get it herself.
We are pulling books out of storage. We're limited on how many we can bring out, because we just don't have the shelf space. Yet. Odysseus is going to be building bookcases after we get everything out of the old place, and get repairs going on it. We've got almost everything, but still have a bit more to go.
As for the new place, I love the house. I love the house, the patio, the yard, love the space, the quiet, and the fact that we have six full acres to ourselves, and have so very much to explore. I love that I can shoo the kids out without worrying about the pedophile a block up from the old house anymore, or the nasty white trash kids that moved next door to the old place teaching my kids language and attitudes that would get them in trouble at their Christian school. I don't care for the ticks, but that can be dealt with a lot easier than the problems at the old place.
Yes, the house has issues. It was built in '70, so it's an older house. The chimney on the fireplace needs work (the liner's rusted, and the dampers are rusted shut), the plumbing drainage needed fully replaced (done), and we've got some roof leaks (flashing around one of the turban vents, and a hole that was plugged with expanding foam both leak during monsoon downpours)...and the garbage disposal has decided to leak through the bottom as of the other day. The garage doors need replaced (so do the tracks on one), and I need a strap fastened to them so I can reach them to close them when they're up. Most of this, though, is livable while we wait until the other place sells.
I am feeling immensely better. The inflammation has not resolved, so I've still got issues with joint discomfort, but a whole lot of other symptoms have eased or disappeared. The difference is that the endocrinologist that my primary care doc referred me to put me on a different formulation of thyroid meds. I'd been on the generic for seven years.* And I'm now on a name brand specially formulated to be hypoallergenic. There are four ingredients to it. And after a couple of weeks on it, my brain fog cleared. A lot. Not totally, and if I overdo it even a little, I get nasty brain fog regardless of any other symptoms (but they do tend to come back in full force if I do overdo it). I have a bit higher energy level as a starting point (it's still not back to normal, and likely won't be for a while, yet), but still wear down quickly without being able to build back up without a full night's sleep, and less activity for a few days. I need 8 full hrs of sleep per night to function instead of 10 hrs. (I do still need around a half a pot of coffee, regardless.)
All this means I'm keeping up with housework a bit easier, with a little more mental energy left at the end of the day.
Unfortunately, my laptop seems to be having issues, now. I'm starting to lean toward a different brand, because this is the second Acer in two years developing hardware issues early. It needs a new keyboard (half the time, it won't register that I've pressed a key, which makes writing an adventure in misspellings and typos), a new wireless card, and needs the power jack re-soldered, none of which I can do because of the laptop's design. I'm eyeballing a few different machines.
Odysseus is also looking at new laptops. He's looking at bigger ones, since he's not hauling it back and forth to college anymore.
Me? All I want is a full size keyboard that works reliably.
In the meantime, I'm getting a LOT of use out of what Odysseus got me for my birthday: a TWSBI piston-fill fountain pen that holds about three weeks' worth of my writing output in ink.
Anyone know if there's some type of adapter that will let me plug a very old ergonomic keyboard into a new laptop that only has USB ports?
*And apparently, people with a wheat allergy can react badly to the inactive ingredients in the generic levothyroxine, because some manufacturers use wheat starch to as a binder, and others use something else that people with wheat allergies react to.
So, I was talking to Mom on the phone, and pointing out that she's a door mat: people whine a little bit, and take advantage. I also pointed out that she's far too prone to taking people at their word, and too sympathetic, and too ready to suggest that maybe the government "ought to do something to help people."
"Well, maybe I'm too soft. But you're too hard. You have no compassion for people who are down on their luck."
Fuck you very much, Mom.
She's right, in a way. When people are "down on their luck" through a string of bad decision after bad choice after stupid action, then no, I don't have compassion.
In 2011, Joplin faced one of the biggest tornadoes that this area of the country has ever seen. There was a path of destruction six miles long, and varying between 3/4 and 1 mile wide. Many people lost homes all the way down to the slab.
We weren't home. Thank God, our home wasn't touched. That evening, I gathered up all of the unopened diapers, deodorant, soap, outgrown baby clothes, wipes, and anything else I could think of getting together. Including canned food for the shelters feeding volunteers and newly-made homeless.
Because losing everything to a massive tornado? That's down on your luck. One spouse out of two losing their job (and the other getting wages garnished to pay child support on their unemployed spouse's children)? That's down on your luck.
Choosing to buy a car that's a little more than what you need (or honestly can afford)? That's stupid. Active stupid. Paying the stupid tax every month stupid.
Choosing to buy gormet level food on a fixed income when you REALLY CAN'T taste the difference? That is, again, active stupid.
Choosing to not just get a tattoo, but finance the fucker? Active stupid.
Choosing time spent "protesting" over hours spent working, then complaining that you can't afford a $10/month pack of birth control pills? Active stupid.
Choosing to try to stay in a minimum wage job* AND buy/rent things that your parents worked their asses off AND pooled their income with roommates for (such as: more than studio apartments)? Active stupid.
Choosing to buy cigarettes over diapers? Active, malicious stupid.
Doing this while your kids are going hungry and whining about how you have no money for food or diapers does not spark compassion in me. It sparks rage.
And somehow, that is a "lack of compassion."
*Staying on minimum wage is NOT easy. Show up on time every shift for sixty to ninty days, you get a raise. Stay on for another two or three months, you get a raise AND a promotion. Stick around long enough, and you're getting a decent wage and running one or two (or more) stores. Staying on minimum wage takes effort.
I've had wheat poisoning two weeks in a row, now. Yes, I call it poisoning: I don't react well to it, and it damages my patience and my health.
Last week, it started the previous Friday: I went with my family out for pizza. It's a place with GF pizza options, and I've never had a problem with them before. This time, however, the kitchen staff were suffering from a case of the mega-derps. They made two REGULAR pizzas, and sent both out, then tried to make good on their mistake. But I'm pretty sure they didn't clean off the counter, and got flour all over my pizza.
I spent Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night, and all the way through to midday Monday REALLY suffering. Not just digestive discomfort but active pain.
I was still feeling the aftermath (more CFS symptoms than usual) throughout the rest of the week.
Yesterday, I went with my family up to my in-laws' to celebrate Father's Day. My MIL bought Great Value Pulled Pork--it's excellent, by the way--and made sandwiches.
I really should have thought. I should have left the pulled pork alone. I didn't.
Yes, I've been having issues since.
This morning, I took some Midol Complete--the pyrilamine maleate helps a bit on squashing involuntary smooth muscle cramping. And then I got a kitty on me. And on the heat pad across my belly. And she started purring, then went limp. Next thing I know, I'm waking up an hour later with a crick in my neck, and it was time for lunch.
I took another dose early this afternoon, but took it too far after lunch, and wound up mildly nauseous. Went and laid down flat (only thing that helps), and woke up when Andrew got home.
And found that the pixie had spent part of her afternoon straightening the dining room/TV room.
I was very glad my MIL kept the imp for a two-night stay. I'll be picking him up tomorrow afternoon, but the worst of it should be past by then.
So. We got the septic tank dealt with. The drainage issues did not abate, and the hall toilet kept flooding.
The hall toilet proved to be a simple issue: the bolts had corroded to the point they were rust powder, and there was NO wax ring left. Just a little bit of residue. Given that the toilet guts needed replaced as well, we went ahead and replaced the toilet.
We dredged the washer drain every other load, and kept getting...lint and hair, Odysseus thought.
The sinks, and bathtub, and shower kept gurgling and backing up.
We did research, and finally found a plumber with stellar reviews, and I called. I called on Tuesday, and he came out on Thursday.
Y'know, it's a really bad thing when the plumber comes out from under the house, giggling and shaking his head, and says "It's a DIY nightmare under there. The ONLY thing that was done right was the toilet. It'd be cheaper, easier, and faster to rip it all out and do it over."
Friday, they started on it. They finished it Saturday. The plumber actually doing the work said, "I took out twice the linear feet of pipe as I put in, and it was all the wrong size for the job it was supposed to do."
So, that issue is fixed. Fully, for the time being. We shouldn't have to worry about backing up drains for a while. Reasonably priced, too.
Also on Thursday, Odysseus went to the old house to go get our push mower to get the trim work and inside the fenced in Scotty-dog yard all done. And came back absolutely steamed: someone had stolen the mower and the gas can.
All told, that's set us back financially a bit more than I was calculating, for this point. It's not a disaster, but it's definitely discouraging. However, that said, this will hopefully be the last big maintenance costs until after we get the other place fixed and sold.
I think I'm going to plant myself somewhere and refuse to move much today.
Monday, I ran the kids up to my mom's and left them there. I went to the old house and started the clutter-clearing on the old master bedroom. Found five bags' worth of clothes that had been hidden under and behind furniture. And lots of lost receipts and other things that needed thrown away. Took probably two hours to do just that much (and stack books). Then, I had to go get my refilled prescriptions at Sam's Club, since I managed to get them called in too late to get them ordered and filled on Saturday.
And I somehow managed to wrench my knee before I went. My bad knee--the one that healed up wrong after years of abuse followed by surgery that cleaned out the scar tissue in the joint, and had me hobbling on a cane every year from age 19 to age 27 (when pregnancy hormones loosened the tendons and ligaments to the point where things straightened themselves out) between September/October and April/May. So I had to really use the cart at Sam's Club to keep the weight off of it while I filled my 'scrips (which were delivered half an hour later than they'd expected) and got shopping done.
Yeah, it still aches a bit, but not nearly as bad as it did Monday.
Yesterday, I guess the discomfort Monday tied my shoulders in knots. I found one the hard way: I stretched really hard, and wound up with one of the knots on the left side where my neck and shoulder meet cramping to the point I couldn't move my left arm without pain. I had already arranged for my older sister to come watch the kids so I could go over and work on clearing more out of the old house (two boxes of books, the last bag of clothes, and got my balls of yarn untangled, as well as got five sets of wire shelving cleared out). And got to the point I couldn't move my left arm even at just the elbow without my shoulder/neck junction screaming at me.
It's a lot better today--so long as I don't try to lift my arm above my shoulder, the discomfort is at grumble level. Hell, I can even reach sideways for a Kleenex. But putting on a shirt didn't feel so good.
I'm going to try to not hurt myself today. Tomorrow's a whole 'nother ball-game, though, and there's still more unpacking to do.