Friday, November 21, 2014

Little Rascal!

New baby over at the Geebies!

Go here for pics!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Raising the Young Artist: New Post at Grounded Parents

I've got a new post up at Grounded Parents.

Advice (such as I have) on the care and feeding of the young artist.  This one comes to you, by the way, via the young artist herself, who suggested it.  "You know what you could write about next," she said, "you could write about what's it's like to be a parent and a writer, and to have an artist for a kid. And the thing with the burritos.  Write about that."

So here it is: Make Her a Damn Burrito.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Annual Winter Argument in the delagar Household Has Commenced

You get all kinds of advice, y'all, on how to have a happy marriage (Huffington Post says there are Thirteen Secrets to a Happy Marriage; WebMD says just two -- Be Nice and Don't Nitpick).

I am here to tell you there is one and only one true bone of contention in the Long Term Relationship.

It's the thermostat.

Y'all need to find someone whose blood runs at the same speed as your own.

Seriously, don't even mess with this one.  You can negotiate a way to get the dishes done.  You can figure out how to pay the bills.  Children or no children, well, that's serious too, I agree, and probably a deal-breaker, but you'll handle it.

On the other hand: this morning I woke up and he had the thermostat at 74.

Seventy-four, people!

"What the shit, Dr. Skull!" I shouted.

He re-adjusted his headphones and turned the volume up on his fretless bass.  (This is what I mean by negotiation, y'all.  He loves to get up at three a.m. and play his guitars.  His electric guitars.  Loudly.  We found a way around the problem.  Through it is true that a new problem -- for me, at least -- ensued.)

"Take off the earphones!  I know you can see me talking!"

"Are you making coffee, Boo-boo?" he shouted over the music.  "Will you make some for me?"

"It's 80 degrees in here!" I shouted back.  "Why did you put the heat so high!"

"I wrote a new song!  Do you want to hear it?"

I stomped off to put the heat on 55.  Which is where it should be.  People aren't meant to be baking in the middle of winter! (Of course I'd also like the house to be at about 55 in the middle of summer, but that's another argument.)

I also made him some coffee, because I'm a good wife.

About an hour later, he came wandering out from his Man Cave, looking disgruntled.  "It's freezing in here.  What did you put the heat on?"

"Wear your slippers," I said sweetly.  "It's the middle of winter."

Thursday, November 06, 2014


My kid has finally cussed in school.

At least it was the GD word and not the f-word.

Which, you know, being as she is my kid....

It was also Latin class, and not some more dangerous class, so she didn't get in serious trouble.

While we're here, I will share a little story about my kid I ran across in my journal, while hunting for some information I needed (we are signing up for a new insurance plan [THANKS, OBAMA!] and I needed the exact date I started working at the university, which, you know, who remembers that?).

This is from when the kid was tiny, about three and a half or maybe four.  We had just moved to the Fort, and I was not yet actually working at the university -- it's about six weeks before I started -- so I had lots of time to hang with her, taking walks and such:

The kid and I walked down to cemetery the other night, so I could read headstones, one of my favorite hobbies. 
She had many questions (not the least of which was probably why have you brought me here?), wanting to know if people were still dead here, if they had turned to fossils or whether they might be rotting, and whether Grandpa Marvin was buried here. She also wanted to know what would happen if I died.
“We would bury you here,” she said, “and then draw some words in stone and put it by your grave, and Daddy and I would come to visit, and Daddy would say, there’s my wife.”
“And how would you feel?” I asked.
“I would be very sad. You shouldn’t die.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“You should live forever, like me.”
“I’ll live as long as I can,” I told her, which was what Charlotte said to Wilbur, so it satisfied her.

Monday, November 03, 2014

New Grounded Parents Post

My new post is up at Grounded Parents.

It's about the kid's troubled experience reading Merchant of Venice, among other texts.

Go here to read it: This Jew Bleeds: Your Kid and Problematic Reading Assignments

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

General Suckitude

My life has just been generally terrible for the last several months.

Sometimes, as all of us who are mortal know, these things happen.

Bad shit piles up.  Bad things occur.  Brothers die, cars wreck, radiators spring leaks, appliances break down, dogs get ill.  Migraines happen.

I remind myself it's not personal.

 (I mean, you know, except for my fuckwad neighbor who keeps calling the lawn police on me every five or six days for truly ridiculous reasons, because that shit is personal, and dude, I know who you are now, and it is on.)

I remind myself it is random circumstances, not some evil fate or cursed star or what the fuck ever, I just have to live through it, blah blah blah.

But boy, is it wearing.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Wheels of Justice

Yesterday I had my second first-hand experience with the Justice system.

This is the fall-out from the wreck I was involved in back in August.  I am still not entirely clear why this incident went to court -- the fella that hit me received a citation for following too close.  That's not something that usually gets you put in jail, is it?

And yet, here we were, in a court with people who were receiving jail sentences.  Not long sentences -- five days, twenty days -- and most of them were being suspended, in lieu of fines or in favor of probation, but still.

Dr. Skull and I speculated that this guy who hit me maybe had several other accidents on his record.  (We speculate thus from something he said at the scene, to the effect that he had been through this, reporting an accident, plenty of times.)

Anyway.  He had a lawyer, someone we knew socially interestingly enough, the lawyer and the DA talked several times, fencing with each other as far as I could tell.  His lawyer had pictures that my guy had taken at the scene of the accident, which they thought exonerated him (because it showed I had been changing lanes, though both the DA and I and the police officer on the scene felt that made little difference in the case, since the charge was following too close).

This fencing went on for some time, while all the other cases were being swiftly tried or put off to a later date -- several people had failed to show, and had bench warrants issued.  One immigrant was brought into court in chains and the judge levied a four hundred dollar fine for driving without a license, and then informed him he wouldn't have to pay, since they were deporting him.  That was charming.

There was a DUI who plead out: $650 and a six-month suspended license, plus a mandatory educational course.  That was a first offense.  Also 25 days in jail, suspended.

There was a woman who showed up late to court, whose trial date was rescheduled to December, who also got a lecture from the judge on her improper attire.  "You're lucky I didn't issue a bench warrant.  Don't show up late again."

"No, m'am.  I won't."

"And I don't like what you're wearing.  Don't come in here dressed like that again."

"No, m'am."

To be fair, what she was wearing was pretty appalling.  No one except the lawyers was wearing a suit, and a few of the defendants were in jeans and teeshirts; but she had on what looked like a bikini sort of thing under a really tight drape that was cut in a vee down the front and up to her knees on the sides.  The bikini was black and the drape sheer and white.

How my trial turned out:  The guy that hit me lied like a thief on the stand, which everyone, even the judge, seemed to know.  The DA caught him in the lies, openly, several times, during the questioning.

The judge found him not guilty anyway.

I'm pretty much okay with this, though.  He's got two or three little kids, I think, and my car is repaired.  If the outcome was putting him in jail or taking away his license, I don't see what purpose that would have served.

I hope  he slows down on the roads from now on, though.

And my foray through the court system has been educational, I must say.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

High School Essays, Y'all

So, my kid has been assigned an essay for her AP World History class: briefly compare and contrast the tenets of Islam and Christianity from their beginnings through 1650 (because this is the first half of AP World History -- it only goes through 1650).

She comes to me with her fists clenching her hair. "So...Islam has the Shahada, right?"

"Right," I agree.

"And Christians have what, exactly?  Is that the Jesus prayer?  The bit where they say I accept Jesus as my Savior, or what?"

"'s complicated."

"No.  Please.  Just..."

"Sorry," I said, because she hates it when it's complicated.  "It is.  See, if you're Catholic, you gotta get Confirmed.  And if you're Mormon, there's a whole process, you can't just be baptized, you gotta pass an interview, and I think there are classes, and --"


"And for Baptists and Pentecostals, there are altar calls, you gotta get the Holy Ghost, you can't just want Jesus, you have to be called to Jesus.  And --"

She began wailing.

"I'm sorry, babycakes," I said.  "It really is complicated. But you don't have to put all that in your paper.  Just give one or two examples, and say that there are many other Christian sects.  It will be fine."

"I hate writing papers! I hate this!"

"Oh, come on.  Writing papers is easy.  Now, math is hard."

She flung me a murderous glare and stomped away.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


The President votes, and adorableness ensues.

I love the woman's last line here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Story Up Strange Horizons by me!

Read it here:  Dream Cakes.

Or you can listen to it -- there's a podcast! -- here.

As I noted earlier this week, Strange Horizons is currently having their fund drive.  They're a great SF/F magazine. Kick in if you can.

New Grounded Parents Post!

Grounded Parents

Over at Grounded Parents, my new post is up.

It addresses the common belief that either you beat your kids or the cops will beat your kids.

Not so, I say!  Instead, how about teaching your kids how to deal with the police?

Read it here:

Talking To Your Kids About The Police.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

This Amuses Me

It's kind of funny -- well, funny to me -- that the Conservatives on my FB feed and the Right-Wing Blogs I follow, and especially the deeply religious Conservatives (Rod Dreher being a case in point) are the ones losing their shit about Ebola.

You would think they would have their religious faith to fall back on.

You would think they would believe in Jesus, and know that This is Not the Only World, and understand that if death comes, they are among the saved.  That heaven awaits them?

I mean, that's what all that religion they're always on about is for?  Is this not the case?

So why are they screeching in such panic?  Ebola Ebola Ebola?  We're all gonna die?  Death isn't even important to them, after all.  It's just a translation.

Whereas for us atheists, who know that this world is all there is -- none of us are even concerned.

I'm tempted to say this is because atheists and leftists tend to be better educated than Conservatives.  But that's a cheap shot.

I'm also tempted to say this shows that Religious Conservatives don't actually have the faith in their God that they claim they do -- that this shows clearly that they don't actually believed in the heaven they claim so ferverntly and so often to have such faith in.

But in fact, I think the cause is a simpler one, and one that explains both their affinity for religion and their affinity for Conservatism: those who tend toward religion and toward Conservatism tend to be cautious.  They tend toward fear, in other words.   They want reassurance, they want promises, they want rules that will protect them.

Well, you know, that's not how the actual world works.

Leftists and those of us who tend toward the science-based and reasoning-based world get that.  We know what "theory" means -- we know it means "here is the data we have, and here is the answer that fits that data, and we'll go with that answer until we have more data, and when we have more data, if that data changes our answer, we'll change our answer."

And we're fine with that way of living.

It's why we're fine with situational ethics, which really, really upset many Conservatives.  They hate the idea that ethical answers can change depending on circumstances.

[True story: When I was teaching in Idaho, I posed this question to my students, attempting to demonstrate situational ethics: "Is it right to fight for your country?"

"Yes!" one of the [male] students answered emphatically.

"That's a code ethicist's answer," I explained to the class.  "A Situational Ethicist says, well, tell me the war, tell me why we're fighting, and I will tell you if it is right to fight."

That student and three others went to the dean to complain that I was teaching the students it was wrong to fight in defense of our country.]

The facts are Ebola is not likely (even remotely likely) to become epidemic here in the USA.

Could this change?  Sure.  Anything can happen.  Is this likely to change?  No.

A million things could happen.  It makes more a great deal sense to spend your energy on those that really are likely to happen.