Friday, September 15, 2017

The second amendment protects the first

Or, at least, it's supposed to. 

I'm beginning to wonder. 

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.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Yikes.

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. 

EDITED
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 onion
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

Instructions remain the same.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Horror

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. 

What.

The. 

SHIT????

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.

We (they) are not doing our damn jobs.  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

First week down

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. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Musings on a theme

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.

Go figure.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

First days and countdowns

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. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mr. President:

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.

Sincerely,

Someone Disappointed to Not Be Disappointed

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Here's an idea...

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.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Testing...

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.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Labels

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. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Word to the wise:

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.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Weirdness

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.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

New laptop

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.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Random ramblings

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. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Yet another zinger from my mom...

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." 

Her response? 

"Well, maybe I'm too soft.  But you're too hard.  You have no compassion for people who are down on their luck."

Well. 

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.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Crap.

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. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

One step forward, two steps back

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.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Plans for the day

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.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Simple Stroganoff

1.5-2 lbs stew meat, cut smaller
1 sm. to med. onion
2 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup*
salt, pepper, paprika to taste
1 c (or more) sour cream or Greek yogurt

1. Season and brown meat with onion.  Put into crock pot. 
2. Add soup and sour cream.
3. Simmer on low in crock pot for 5-6 hrs. 

Serve hot over egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or baked potatoes.

This is mostly a cheap, filling, delicious meal that feeds five or six.  Leftovers warm up nicely.

*I use Pacific Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup--it's not just wheat-free, but flat-out tastier than Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup. It is, however, a LOT more spendy.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Quick question...

Who's the one that made it personal, first?  Who made a little eleven-year-old boy cry? 

And why should we care if some has-been, bottom-tier comedienne feels bullied?  Especially since the facts do not support her feelz, and she's been targeting the child as well as the adults?

She's right.  If she was a white man, people wouldn't be working to get her out from in front of audiences.  She'd have been punched in the mouth by the victims of her bullying behavior.


septic tank issues

So.  We have had the first sign of trouble with the new place as of yesterday, and brother is it a doozy.

The imp decided he wanted to go down and play in the pasture.  I have NO problems with this, provided he stands still to get sprayed down with OFF before he runs off.  Because ticks: we has them.  I also insist that he has to have a bath after he's had a day playing out in the weeds with OFF sprayed all over him. 

And we had to do a load of laundry for Odysseus to have work shirts for today. 

And that's when the trouble started.

When the washer started draining, drains all over the house started gurgling.  And backing up a bit.  And then, the tub started draining.  And the toilets overflowed, and soapy water backed all the way up into the bathroom sink. 

Odysseus stopped the washer, cleaned up the mess (thankfully--he was able to do it a lot faster than I would have been able to), and took off for Walmart, for a new work shirt, and an auger.  He thought he cleared the drain, and went ahead and finished the load of laundry (needed a rinse and spin cycle). 

This morning, he said the shower drained better and faster than it had been (I wouldn't know--I can't see the shower drain between my feet, since I don't wear my glasses in the shower).  And went ahead and started the laundry.

The laundry drain backed up, and started overflowing.  I paused the rinse cycle, and checked the toilets.  They, thank God, are not regurgitating.  Just the washer drain, and the bathroom sinks. 

I think it's time to call the septic experts.  Hopefully, they can find the tank, because we don't know where it is.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rough weekend

Saturday, we went early and picked up a U-Haul truck for the ramp.  Incidentally, we also rented a furniture dolly (we had one for appliances already).  We went straight to the old house and parked it there, while we did a couple of other things, then went back and started loading it.  With the help of my family.  Which shocked the snot out of me.

Saturday, we got the cook stove, dryer, couch, mattresses, and a few loads of sundries moved.  Sunday, we got the bed frames, washer, and chest freezer.  We returned the U-Haul on Monday, got the washer hooked up, and got the kitchen stove hooked up.

I still have dishes and stuff to remove from the old kitchen, and a bunch other small stuff left in the bedrooms that we just didn't have the boxes for.  I'm unpacking bit by bit, and emptying boxes to take over and re-fill.  It's just taking a while because I've got the kids underfoot and querulous because of a lack of a routine, and I'm lacking any energy to do much at a time.  No, I don't have the kitchen cabinets lined, yet.  Nor do I have everything that goes into the kitchen cabinets that ARE lined. 

I have seasonal clothes to switch out, too. 

I spent yesterday curled up, trying to get my breath back.  This morning was spent waiting on the cable guy to hook up our internet and phone service.

I am blogging from my new (if still bare) library.

It may be thin for a while, yet.  I've got a massive amount of moving yet to do.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I has a sad.

So.  The new house has a few minor plumbing issues that I have no clue how to tackle, and Odysseus isn't comfortable messing with (a busted line to a fridge ice maker/water dispenser, a leaking bathroom drain, a slow leak under the house).  Yesterday, I called to get on his schedule. 

His daughter answered.  She told me he'd passed away the previous Thursday. 

I will admit it was hard not to just bust out bawling.

The plumber is one we'd worked with for the past ten years.  He was a great guy; once, when he was doing some little bits of work for us, he found a box turtle when he went to leave, and ran up and knocked on the door.  Because he wanted to show the kids the turtle. 

He went into raptures over a slightly novelty toilet seat we'd put on the hall bathroom toilet: it had a toddler's toilet seat worked into the lid, and he was having trouble getting his little grandson to use anything but a potty chair because the kid was afraid he'd fall in (when he was willing to go anywhere but in his diaper).  I told him where we found it, and mentioned that we'd shamelessly used bribery to get the imp potty trained, and would be doing the same for the pixie when it was her turn.  He put candy on the list he pulled out of his pocket, right next to the toilet seat.

We had him out to deal with a small frozen pipe issue in January or February.  He'd lost a lot of weight, and wasn't smiling like always. 

He'd lost his wife the winter before.  They'd been together for 38 years, and he was lost.  Missed her terribly. 

I honestly hadn't thought he'd last out the year, with the way he was pining, but that came quick. 

And I'm trying to gather the gumption to look for another plumber, with the full knowledge that the working relationship just won't be there, and likely won't be for a long time, if ever.  Not like that.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Living with CFS

I get sick easier, now.  It's been that way since the early part of 2015.  If there's a virus that hits one of my family members, it'll hit me, too, and harder. 

Like now.  Odysseus thought he'd gotten a lung full of dust, and thought he was dealing with an allergy attack.  Yeah, no.  It was a virus.  Yes, I have it.  Yes, it hit me harder.  Yes, I'm still down with it. 

Even when I'm not sick, I constantly feel like I'm either coming down with something or getting over something: body aches, I have NO endurance (and attempts to build endurance backfire, and leave me actually sick), and I have to sleep more than most people do.  And that doesn't consider the brain fog that doesn't end, and only ebbs and surges. 

On good days, I can do a few things: sometimes, I can almost keep up with standard housework, like dishes, and some shopping.  I can't do heavier housework--I can't vacuum floors, can't do a lot of laundry beyond loading and running the washer.  Wet clothes are too heavy to mess with, for the most part.  Cleaning the kitty litter kinda depends on how many other things I've done.  

So, right now, I'm down with something that hit me in the lungs (again), and am trying to pack when I can, and move a few things when I can. 

I've been doing research into more than "What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?" or "What causes CFS?"  I've been looking into the mechanics of how it causes symptoms.  Turns out, there's little known, but there's a tentative theory out there (not many are studying this, but the ones that are have been able to replicate results) that the actual symptoms are caused by mild, moderate, or severe damage to the mitochondria--the power plants of the individual cells in the body--depending on the severity of the case of CFS.  There are some that are totally bedridden, some that are bedridden sometimes, and some that are bedridden only occasionally (after overdoing it). 

Honestly, there's not a whole lot I can do other than wait this out.  There's little to no research being done.  Often, doctors (and others) consider those of us with these weird, diffuse symptoms to be hypochondriacs.*  We're offered cognitive behavoral therapy, antidepressants, and told to exercise, increasing the amounts by a little every session. 

For those who are hypochondriacs, this works. 

For those of us who actually have something wrong, this is the opposite of helpful: energy levels are finite, and once they're gone, if you keep pushing, you wind up bedridden for a few days, even if you manage to avoid coming down with something nasty while your immune system is further compromised (this is personal experience speaking).  And antidepressants have side effects that exacerbate the symptoms, pushing recovery from "unlikely any time soon" to "impossible." 

There are a few things that I, and anyone else suffering from this, can do: we can ignore doctors' nutritional advice to avoid red meat and coffee,** and we can sit down when energy starts to flag.  We can take anti-inflammatories*** to deal with the chronic, systemic inflammation that accompanies CFS. 

And we can wait it out.  Your body rebuilds every cell in it, eventually (I think every seven years is what I remember reading).  Remember: This, too, shall pass. 


*I'd be happiest if I could go back to seeing my doctor no more than once a year.  

**Red meat contains more nutrients that your body needs to rebuild cells--and one in particular useful for rebuilding mitochondria--and black coffee offers extra energies that help the damaged mitochondria function better. Adding sugar makes it harder for your body to process the things it needs to take from the coffee.

***Some of us can.  Tirosint's drug info insert warned that it can interfere with the metabolism of the artificial thyroid hormone from T4 into T3. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

WTH, life?

So, we closed on our house a bit under a month ago.  Got the flooring finished last week (the vinyl laminate floor is gorgeous, and will last us for three or four decades, easy), and started moving more than the storage unit. 

Also, last week, we had some nasty, heavy storms.  And haven't spent much time in the house since Thursday, when my family came over to help me with a few things in the new kitchen (linoleum peel-n-stick tiles lining cabinet shelves). Partially because I wore myself out to the point my immune system went down hard.  I got some shopping done, but that was really about it.  Friday afternoon, I went to bed, and kinda stayed there, except for when a tornado warning was posted on the radio for the listening area, and I herded the kids and dog into the bathroom (not the cats--the dog was scared because of the thunder, and the storm was kicking up more to our east than in line to threaten us) until it passed.

Yesterday was pretty rainy.  We did a bit but not a lot on the move (and I was still down).  Odysseus took our imp to watch Guardians of the Galaxy 2.  And took loads of kids' toys over to the new place. 

Today, I felt better, so we packed up our storage cubbies and took them over.  I also packed up sandwiches and chips for everybody, and took lunch over to eat around Odysseus's grandmother's dining room table (which my family helped me set up--a heavy, 4' x 6' dining table with drop leaves running long-ways).  Odysseus took the tea he'd made and killed it, then went to make another pitcher...

...and we abruptly lost water pressure. 

Flipped breakers to pump and to pressure tank. 

Waited.  Went and got some new light fixtures (one we replaced because neither of us cared for it; the other was a pendant light we replaced because Odysseus banged his head on it more than once getting stuff in the front door), and tried the water pressure again. 

Still nothing. 

Crap. 

We have left a message with a local well pump guy, but will also be calling at a civilized time tomorrow morning. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

FFOT: the week

Monday:

The USPS can fuck off with prejudice.  Seriously, if your posted hours state that you open at 8:30, then answer your goddamned phone at 8:40.  And if you don't, don't leave the fucking "we're closed" message on your machine.  And clear your fucking voicemail so I can leave a fucking message, you goddamned ass-weasels. 

To the "mother" driving at ten miles under the speed limit, texting with one hand and smoking with the other while your curly-headed toddler was flapping her arms above her car seat in the back...I hope you realize you're directly harming your baby girl and putting her in imminent danger through your own white-trash habits.  And by so doing, dooming the child to a life of poverty, sponging off the government, and being a generational problem and drain on my children's resources.  Fuck off and die alone in a fiery car crash before she's old enough to remember you, so that she has a chance at a productive, happy life.

Tuesday:

This sinus headache that snuck up on me while I was grading last chance essays can fuck right off.  Ouch.

Thursday:

I can fuck off for attempting to scale back on the amount of naproxin I take.   OUCH.  I really can't afford to feel like this right now.

This was my week.  How was yours?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pro tip:

When you're having work done (carpet laid, privacy fence built, etc.), make sure the workers have a supply of red Solo cups, and a gallon (or more, depending) of Gatorade. 

The work gets done quicker, and with more care and attention to detail, than it otherwise would. 

That has, at least, been my experience. 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

My department head is a racist.

He doesn't even realize it. 

Tuesday, my second plagiarism case came to talk to me.  They showed me that while yes, they did plagiarize, they didn't plagiarize the whole paper--just the abstract of the paper.  And they did their best to analyze the paper. 

They thought that the research project was choosing a research paper and analyzing it. 

No, I don't know how they reached that conclusion. 

But it got me thinking.  Wondering if the other one had done the same thing.  Sure enough, they had. 

So, I set about emailing both plagiarists to come talk to me so that we could work together: I'd explain the assignment again, and help both of them with the planning stages, then they could redraft the entire paper for a grade. 

Students satisfied. 

However.  Come to find out, both students had gone to my department head to complain. 

My department head emailed me and told me to find an unofficial solution to the issue.  Because my students are brown, Middle-Eastern, and can't possibly be held to the same standards as the white, American students. 

Okay.  Message received. 

Message.

Received. 

No more treating all students the same, and expecting the same levels of professionalism from all.  I'm supposed to expect less from non-native and minority students, set them up for future failure, and set them up so that others' expectations of affirmative action hires are perpetuated. 

Good to know.  Makes my job easier, knowing that no matter what, some students will be getting A's, so I might as well not bother grading their work. 

Academic integrity: just another victim to SJW bullying.

What the fuck is wrong with this country? 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Dear plagiarist,

No.  No, I will not--cannot--reconsider. 

Considering that I explained many times, all semester, the difference between your work and someone else's, I do not believe that you didn't understand my policies on copying someone else's work and turning it in as your own. 

You fail the class. 

I understand that you feel you shouldn't fail the class.  I feel the same way. 

However.

You copied a medical journal article, and turned it in as your own.  That isn't accidental plagiarism that I can give you a zero on the paper for.  That is deliberate, that is against university policy, that is against departmental policy, and my hands are tied. 

You fail the class. 

There is nothing you can do about it.

There is nothing I can do about it, without getting fired.  I am not tenured faculty.  I am semester-by-semester, at-will, contract employed. 

No, excuses won't work.  No, plays for sympathy won't work.  No, sob stories won't work.  No, tears won't work.

I have an eight year old son, and a six year old daughter.  It doesn't work for them; it won't work for you. 

I cannot do anything other than follow university policy.  I am not tenured faculty.  I do not want to lose my job.

I will not hold this against you if you take my class next semester (but I will be a lot more wary of you doing it again, and check every one of your papers, line by line).  This semester will not affect your grade for the same class next semester.  The university doesn't expel white American students that do this until they show a pattern of behavior; they certainly won't expel you

No, I cannot give you a zero for the paper and a C for the course.  I cannot deviate from policy. 

I do not enjoy dealing with pleading students for fifteen minutes when there is literally nothing I can do, and no way for me to change things. 

You fail the class.  Be an adult.  Take it again next semester. 

Sincerely,

An adjunct.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

We has a new house.

And I has a tired.

We did the final walk-through yesterday, and then closed on the house.  Yes, that means we have the keys to a larger 3/2 house (one bathroom has only a shower; the other, only a tub) with 6 acres.  House faces north; neighbors on the east are good, redneck type neighbors.  Older folks.  Haven't met the other neighbors, yet.

After the closing, we got the electricity turned on.  Without power, there is no water since it's on a well.  I think the septic tank should be okay, since the house has only been vacant about a year. 

We have an appointment to meet some flooring contractors tomorrow afternoon at the new place, so that they can plot out carpeting and laminate flooring, and give us a figure on how much it's going to cost.  Because the current flooring has been there from at least '73, and maybe from '70. 

Yep, the carpets are older than I am by at least six years. 

I've also got a lot of calls to make--I can't clean the place because one of the things I'm allergic to is mold, and it's been shut up since the previous owner passed away (was an estate sale).  And the grounds have been untended for about that long, too, and we don't have the equipment to clean it up yet. 

And day before yesterday?  I picked up the last paper.  So sometime in all of this, I have to grade papers. 

I must be some kind of idiot to set a due date, then forget about it and set closing the day after the due date. 

That's going to be my life for the next week: grading and dealing with new homeowner headaches.

(Before you ask, Odysseus is busting his ass moving stuff already.  Things that get moved get stacked in the garage until the new flooring's down.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Supper.

4-5 medium potatoes, cut in chunks
1-2 bell peppers, cut in strips
1 kielbasa, cut in chunks
Shredded cheese (any kind, any amount)
seasoning to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450.  Layer potato chunks in bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish (or a half-size steamer pan from Sam's Club, like I did). 

2. Spread the bell pepper strips over the potatoes.  Season (I used Slap ya' Mama cajun seasoning), then spray with olive oil or cooking spray. 

3. Put the kielbasa on top of the veggies, and cover the dish with foil (or use the steamer pan lids from Sam's Club). 

4.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, then check potatoes.  If the potatoes are done, add cheese (I used Italian blend, about 1 c, and another 1/2 c chedder/colby jack) over the top, and put back for 3-5 minutes.

This was stupid-easy, and gut-bustingly good.  

No idea what to call it, besides tasty.

Not my monkeys

I've noticed two trends in parenting, recently--over-parenting, and under-involvement.  Both are fairly common around my area, and both cause major, lasting damage to the children involved. 

Over-parenting, also known as helicopter parenting, turns out whiny, self-centered, neurotic, helpless children that just don't grow up well.  They don't know how.  One example happened a couple of weeks ago: one of my students had a scheduled weekend home, and then wasn't able to go.  This was a major issue for that student, because that was how they did laundry.  They took it home, and had their mother do it.  Without that weekend, though, they were running out of wearable--not necessarily clean, but wearable--clothes, and didn't know how to do laundry.  At all.  To the point that they didn't even know how to measure the detergent for the load.  And they asked me how to do it.  They said that it seemed like I have my shit together, and I'm approachable, and I like to help my students learn how to do stuff. 

I told them to go get a box of detergent tabs from Walmart, read the tags in their clothes to make sure they didn't try to wash something that was dry clean or hand wash only, or dry something that was hang or lay flat to dry, then select cold water on the knob on the laundromat machines.  No, I didn't tell them to sort whites from coloreds, or warm from cold water wash items.  They had enough to worry about, and I may be their teacher, but I am not their parent. 

(I did want to slap the shit out of their parents, though.  My EIGHT year old is capable of running a washing machine.  And knows how.)

Under-involvement is also very common in this area.  If the kid's smart, they're capable of raising themselves.  If they're not, you've got a pack of ferals (and it's always a pack, because it's almost always a woman who sees having kids and pulling welfare as a career choice.  Want a raise?  Have another baby!  It's not like they have to do anything with it). 

There is a pack of ferals living next door.  The children are all around a room-temperature IQ, impulsive, emotionally explosive, and have no adult care.  No adult supervision.  Despite having non-working adults living in the house. 

I'm not talking the free-range kids movement, where kids are allowed to do things within the bounds of their abilities.  I'm talking about NO care.  NO supervision.  Neither parent is present, much less parenting (not helicoptering--parenting).  I'm talking making sure that young children and toddlers are not in danger of getting run over by a car, and making sure the ten year old doesn't have to repeatedly chase down and carry an eighteen month old toddler back to the house, nearly dropping the baby every couple of steps because a) they're not big enough to carry a fat toddler; and b) because said baby is kicking, screaming, biting, flailing, and generally trying to get away so that he can run back into the street.  I'm talking making sure the kids actually get fed meals, and have a bedtime.  And no, ten pm on a school night is not a good bed time for younger than about junior year in high school.

Assuming any of the ferals make it that far. 

This is how welfare becomes generational.

No, none of these children--adults who were never taught how to adult, nor yet the ferals next door--are actually my problem.  Not really.  They do cause problems, and they're going to be causing problems for my children as taxpaying adults, sometime in the not-as-distant future. 

No, I don't see the need to intervene.  I'm moving (hopefully) within the next two months.

What I want to know, at this point, is why people have children if they either refuse to take care of them at all, or refuse to teach them what they need to know to become adults in their own right?  Why do people have children when they have no intention of actually being a parent?  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Counting down.

I have this week and next week scheduled for my classes' last paper.  This week, we're going over APA citation format in class, and then having a research day on Thursday.  Next week, they're freewriting on Tuesday, and workshopping/peer editing on Thursday. 

The week after, we move from papers to blogging for two weeks (four posts, total), and then we're absolutely done with class; final exams are scheduled for the next Tuesday for both classes (5/9), and will be nothing but students emailing me missing work during the time set aside for the final exams.  I won't be on campus for that.  And by the end of the day, I can and will be turning in final grades.

I am tired.  I'm ready for summer break from trying to cram new writing skills and bring out the ones present in my students. 

Fall semester's going to be rough.  I'm going to have back to back 75 minute classes.  I'll be done with the teaching by 10:45, though, and should be able to set office hours to be done by 1:00...which will give me a little while to go run errands, or crash until it's time to pick up the kids. 

Today, I'm working on grading paper 4 and revisions of paper 3 that were turned in.  I just wish the course site would cooperate more, instead of taking more than a minute to load the paper to grade, be sluggish on scrolling down as I read the papers, and take another minute to record the grade, then yet another to maybe load the next paper, or maybe just put me back on the gradebook's main page...where I have to select the next paper myself, and wait for it to load.

Needless to say, that is NOT the way it's supposed to work. 

I'm still working my way through the ones turned in through the course site for my earlier class; the paper copies are still in my bag, awaiting attention...and I forgot my freakin' pencil.  And I'm not comfortable grading in pen, because I tend to get nasty tempered and snarky with students who repeat the same corrected mistake from one paper to the next to the next.  And many do, even if more learn.

I'm still playing with the fountain pens I got for my birthday, last month, and despite loving my Conklins, I absolutely adore the lime green TWSBI Eco I got.  I'm DEFINITELY spending more on one of their Diamond 580s for the next pen I get (and one of their special ink bottles that make filling the pen a much less messy proposition).  The Eco holds a TON of ink, writes smoothly, and is just an all-around excellent pen (even if, as a piston-filler, it would NOT be a good pen to fly with filled).  It also doesn't really like to be carried on its side, jostled around.  It burps into its cap.  Doesn't do that if you carry it upright, though. 

I do plan to get either one of their vac-fill pens (which also have a special, less-mess ink bottle), or another piston fill eventually.  However.  Before that, I DESPERATELY need a new coffee pot--my current one takes fifteen minutes to brew 12 cups, if it's been freshly cleaned.  Otherwise, it takes longer.  And a brown-out will cause it to lose the clock, so pre-setting it the night before doesn't really work well.  That's fine for over break and summer, because I'm not in a hurry for it, but I have to be AT WORK by a bit before 8:00, for my first class.  And that's a bitch.

I miss my Cuisinart Grind-n-brew.  Fast, power blinks didn't wipe its clock settings, and I could put beans in and not mess with a separate grinder.  That's on my list for fall. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Heading into the home stretch

I could quote Chaucer about April,* but March was pretty damn rainy, just as April has started out.

I am heading into the home stretch for class.  The fifth, and final paper, will be a sort of a final exam for my students: I'll teach them how to find sources, how to determine a credible source as opposed to one that isn't, and how to use parenthetical references in the text to cite said sources.  Other than that, they'll be on their own for writing this last paper.  Their paper is due the last Tuesday of April, and their first blog will be due the same night.  Thereafter, they're pretty much done with the majority of the semester's work-load.

And mine will just be starting.  I'll have paper 5 to grade, and blogs, and the house closing the last Wednesday of the month.  Then, we'll need to arrange to get a chain-link fence put in, and new flooring put down, repairs made, and all that sort of fun stuff, then moving.

Some time during that, the kids get out of school (mid May).  Which is good, because they're big enough to help a bit.

And I darn sure am not willing to pack their toys for them.

The timing, though, is going to be difficult: we are closing the week before classes are done for me, and since the new house is on a well, without power, there is no water for cleaning (and there will be cleaning, if only because there are a few places where well-sealed windows and no air circulation induced mold growth).  So utilities need to be turned on in our names.

Guess what?  The inspection company we hired to do the home inspection will do that for us. It's part of their services. 

I'm dreading the move, yes, but I'm excited about the new home: we're going to have another room, and will have six acres of play space for the kids.  A pond, with an area that will be suitable to learn to shoot in (with BB guns and air rifles only, since it is technically within city limits), a barn that they can play in once we get a chance to get a good look at the inside, and a storage building on the property bigger than the one we're renting at a storage facility.

Funny thing: we're going to have to move the chest freezer at the same time we move the cats.  Cricket literally CANNOT FIND the food dish unless it's on top of the freezer.  CAN NOT.  She's actually stepped in it when I set it on the floor, and never realized that the food was RIGHT THERE.  Because it wasn't on top of the freezer, it wasn't the food dish, and she was starving.  With Shadow, it's a power play (I won't eat until you put my food back.  Yes, I know it's there, but no.  It's wrong.), but Cricket is about as bright as the rooster from Moana

I love my cats. 

*First lines of The Canterbury Tales.  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ugh.

Spring Break has been tense, this year.  Last Friday, we made an offer on the house we'd been considering.  Monday, that offer was accepted.  We've been scrambling to deal with the paperwork, since, and I've been fighting with a cold.  Today, we had the inspection scheduled,and had to go get the insurance done by the bank's request.

It's a nice place: around 400 square feet more than our current place, and a BIG yard.  But assuming the inspection goes well, we're going to have to replace all of the carpets, and put in a fence to protect the safety of the mouthy little Scotty bitch that hates big dogs from getting herself munched by the neighbor's big dog. 

And the inspection turned up a few thing that have to be dealt with.  Hopefully not too much--and hopefully it won't cost huge to fix. 

But yeah, busy, tense, and with me sick.  Fun times. 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Busy month

Well. 

We all got sick a couple weeks ago--all except the imp, who seems to have completely dodged the upper respiratory yuck.  The pixie missed three days of school, because she was running a fever on the first two days.  Third day, she was fine, so she went back on that Friday.  And that Saturday, she popped a fever again.  This was the week of Odysseus's birthday, too.

We've finally scraped together a significant downpayment fund for a mortgage.  And that's going to be slightly complicated for us, since we have no debt, and haven't had any debt for the past six or seven years.  At all.  So we've been working on that, too.  And house hunting. 

Why the urgency?  Because the neighbors are horrid.  I don't mind the sweet little old lady between us and the corner, but the new ones that moved in to the other side last May?  We're going to have to put privacy film on the bedroom window so that prospective buyers don't see their nasty yard.  And hope that we can show while their kids are off at school, so that they don't hear the language the kids routinely scream out in the back yard...which is right next to the master bedroom window. 

There's three generations living in that house, and judging by the way the teenager acts (like a cat in heat) and dresses (like she's advertising a career choice), it's gonna be four within the next two or three years.  

Their front yard isn't good, but it isn't as bad, either. 

So, we're waiting to hear about the mortgage application, so that we can make an offer on a house barely outside of city limits (though the city has annexed the property across the road...and the one we want) with six acres, a septic system, and a well.   Enough space for the children to grow up without me losing my mind. 

And that...that's been the extra piled on top of the usual mess of grading, teaching, grading, and teaching. 

Oh, and editing a book for a friend I hold very dear, even if I've never met him face-to-face in my life.  I'm about ready to print it, copy edit by hand, and snail-mail the packet. Doing that much copy editing in Word is a serious pain. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Oof.


Last semester was hard.  Really hard.  I was trying to figure out what was going on where my health was concerned, running on empty, and trying to do more than usual.  I didn't do a very good job with any of the three classes: I was stretched way too thin.  

This semester...wow.  I wasn't thinking it would be as difficult to deal with as it is.  I have Tuesday/Thursday classes only.  MWF classes are 50 minutes per class; TTh classes are 75 minutes.  I didn't think that the extra 25 minutes would be so much of a difference, but they are.  And even worse, the two hours between classes don't help a lot where regaining stamina are concerned.  Mostly because I'm supposed to wait an hour before taking anything after my Levothyroxine, and four before taking herbal supplements.  

That puts my adrenal support supplement at 10:00, at the earliest.  Because I take the thyroid med right after the alarm goes off at 6:00.  And the adrenal support supplement is to be taken with a meal (at 7:00, then at lunch), and I often don't get lunch on TTh.  So, the days when I need it most, I don't get it. 

Yes, I will likely ask for a similar schedule next semester.  Four days in a row not at work helps.  

No, I will not ask for three classes.  Not any time soon, and perhaps not ever again.  I have a reason beyond just being unable to keep up.  Despite making a bit over $2,000 more per semester, we took a tax hit of a bit more than double that. 

Y'see, that bumped us up a tax bracket.  And instead of most of the tuition for the kids' school being covered by the EITC (think: unintentional voucher), the tuition is going to come out of our savings for a house outside city limits.  

They tax cigarettes to try to change behavior, and get people to stop smoking.  By the same logic, an income tax...yeah, I'll leave you to think about that.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A rant.

I had one of my students tell me one of the most horrifying things I've ever heard, today.  My student was talking about the full semester class that replaced the six week college orientation class I took: 1 credit hour replaced by 3 credit hours, with no useful information actually covered therein.  They told me that the instructor went on a rant that their entire generation was stupid and you can't fix stupid, so the instructor wouldn't even try. 

What the actual fuck? 

I have...issues with that. 

First of all, the stupid cunt nugget said that out loud, in the class, to the students that were their responsibility.  And it is patently obvious that said cunt nugget had forgotten that what you practice in front of a mirror is what comes out of your face in class, even when you're still talking to the reflection you saw during practice. 

Second, it's patently false.  Ignorance is not stupidity.  These kids may not have the same base knowledge we have, but they have something we didn't at their age: an encyclopedia/calculator in their pockets.  They've got different cultural expectations of education and knowledge than the cunt nugget's generation did.  They expect to be able to look up anything they need, and are in the process of learning to discern which sources are and are not credible for that purpose.

Third...you don't SAY that to students.  True or not, you just don't.  Why?

Students live up to--or down to--stated expectations.  If you tell them that they're stupid, they'll believe it, internalize it, and become it, especially if that's followed by the message that they're not worth the effort. 

Stupid cunt nugget needs to be fired.

From a fucking cannon. 

My week so far

Monday: Imp had a doctor's visit.  I drove on relatively higher traffic roads than I'm comfortable with, managed behavior, and then went to Sam's Club...only to find that the 'scrip had to be ordered in, and would be...spendy.  With no option of a generic. Took the kid to school, set up an appointment to talk to the principal.  Back to Sam's Club with a discount for said spendy 'scrip later (and Odysseus meeting us there), with both kids in tow.  Not fun. 

Tuesday: Teaching (thankfully, only supervising the first peer editing class).  Then back to Sam's Club, then picking up the kids and booting them out the door when I got them home, while I got most things in.  Then popped a fever with general body aches (no other symptoms whatsoever).  Went to bed very early.

Wednesday: got the kids to school.  Totally flaked on appointment, came home, sat down, dozed off.  Woke up, talked to mom, replaced kitty litter, unloaded the dryer, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, sat down ate lunch, and dozed off for a bit, talked to sister, dozed off again, and got kids.  Made chili.

Thursday: made it through morning routine with the kids, and they were fairly cooperative (for once).  Topic selection day in class, so it's a high-energy class period.  Seventy-five minutes of high energy.  Fifteen minutes of  housework flattens me.  I'm glad I've got two hours between classes, honestly.  I don't think I could have done back to back classes on this...here's hoping I don't wind up popping a fever and being useless again.  Probably not, since I wound up sleeping a lot over Tuesday night, and random catnaps all day Wednesday.  At least, I hope not.

I don't think I'll be doing much of anything tomorrow.  I don't think I'll be capable of it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Musings

I wish my university would tell me whether someone has been dropped involuntarily for non-payment, or whether they have voluntarily dropped my class from terror/not wanting to work.  It would make filling out my roll book way easier if I didn't have to add names out of alphabetical order because of an accounting mistake.

Ever have a day where your child is standing there, eyes and mouth wide open, because they can't remember what to do next in their morning routine?  The morning routine that they've been following for two and a half years?  There are times I find it harder than normal not to swear at my children...

I know you're not supposed to change the dog food around, but what if your dog hates the food and won't eat?  Do you make them keep eating the food they hate, or do you switch around until you find something they like?

I didn't vote for Trump in either the primary or general election, last year, but if he keeps doing the same job he's been doing for the past six days since inauguration, I may well vote for his reelection.

Finally found some of my draft books, yesterday--the one with the random-ass short stories* I've been working on when I get stuck on something else, and the draft book for The Schrodinger Paradox. Since my classes are working on writing their papers, today, I will be working on getting stuff transcribed from the draft books, and more written. 

One has to wonder how Lzzy Hale of Halestorm can possibly channel rockers who are still alive like she does.  I mean, the dead ones make sense--how does she channel the souls and capabilities of those still living?

One also wonders about the soul-destroying apocalyptic break-up voiced by Starset's new album Vessels.  Is it metaphoric, or literal?  And did it happen between albums, or was it a formative event in the lead singer/songwriter's life?  Either way, it's a gorgeous, powerful album that you cannot judge without listening to the whole thing. 

I currently have five students doing their writing in the classroom, two drafting long-hand, and three on laptops.  All the rest took off to go find a computer elsewhere, or a comfy spot to write. 

Shadow the cat wound up getting her wish, a few nights ago.  We forgot to retrieve her from sleeping on her boy.  She had mild regrets in the morning--a full bladder and an empty belly will do that--but not enough that she hasn't tried to repeat her accomplishment.

A few weeks ago, I made a knitted wool-blend yarn headband for the pixie in Lion Brand's Wool-Ease (worsted weight) Rose Heather.  And my mother in law asked me "Where's mine?"  So, I made one for my mother in law.  Then my mother, sister, and all three aunts asked where theirs were...so my sweaters are going to wait while I make smaller projects. 

I have one sweater almost finished (Wool-Ease Avacado green), but messed up counting rows on the sleeves.  The left one is an inch too short, and the right one is an inch shorter than that.  Thankfully, it's a pretty simple thing to undo the cuffs, and add a bit.  I just need to finish the projects for family, first. 

I still need to remake a couple other sweaters I messed up on, too...

I got the pixie a plastic loom for Christmas (then had to get her a better one, since there was no way to keep the nylon loops from flying off of the one I gave her while she worked).  The imp was so intrigued by it that he went and spent his own money to get one of his own.  They're both doing excellent work on their various projects--and have finished about four or five apiece.  (Or rather, I've finished off the projects for them, since they lack the dexterity to bind their projects off.)

Last week, I tried easing back from taking an equivalent amount of Aleve tablets to equal prescription strength naproxen that I'd run out of.  My body says, "I'm sorry, I can't do that, Dave."  Come to find out, chronic, systemic inflammation is part and parcel of CFS/ME, and I wind up feeling like somebody hit me with a Mack truck.  So, it's back to the full dose.  I hate taking pills...

I need to stop procrastinating by writing the blog post, and start writing fiction. 





*Short stories are being gathered for another collection, tentatively titled Normalcy Bias.  So far, I've got about 25K words, plus a few more stories I need to transcribe (and one I need to finish).